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Title:
CONNECTING SYSTEM, APPARATUS, AND PROCESS, AND MULTI-PART CONNECTED STRUCTURE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/157838
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
In one embodiment of the disclosed invention, a connecting device is provided. The connecting device comprises a connector that includes at least two openings. A shield is provided adjacent to a surface of the connector and is positioned to block a projectile directed at the surface of the connector from entering a portion of the connector between the two openings. The shield may be made of a ballistic-resistant material to thereby impart ballistic resistance to the connecting device.

Inventors:
GRASTY, Joe, C. (3653 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA, 90808, US)
MADRID, Bernard (3255 Rancios Drive, Huntington Beach, CA, 92649, US)
Application Number:
US2008/067933
Publication Date:
December 24, 2008
Filing Date:
June 23, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TACTRONICS GROUP, L.L.C. (381 Old Riverhead Road, Suite 12Westhampton Beach, NY, 11978, US)
GRASTY, Joe, C. (3653 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA, 90808, US)
MADRID, Bernard (3255 Rancios Drive, Huntington Beach, CA, 92649, US)
International Classes:
F16B1/00
Foreign References:
GB2144834A
US6009789A
US4356672A
US6702230B2
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HECKENBERG, Donald, H., Jr. et al. (Fitzpatrick, Cella Harper & Scinto,30 Rockefeller Plaz, New York NY, 10112-3800, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A connecting device for connecting two members, comprising: a connector including at least one securing section, the securing section for securing one of the two members to the connecting device; and a shield provided adjacent to a surface of the connector, wherein the shield is positioned to block a projectile directed at the surface of the connector from entering a portion of the connector between the two members.

2. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is positioned between the surface of the connector and the portion of the connector between the two members.

3. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is ballistic-resistant.

4. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is made from a ceramic material.

5. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the connector comprises a pultruded polymeric material, with the shield encapsulated in the pultruded polymeric material.

6. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is attached to the surface of the connector.

7. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is provided within a lip extending from a surface of the connector.

8. A connecting device according to claim 1, further comprising: an adaptor configured to be received in the at least one securing section.

9. A connecting device according to claim 8, wherein one of the connector and the adaptor is provided with at least one doll head projection, and the other of the connector and the adaptor is provided with a recess for receiving the doll head projection in a snap-fit connection.

10. A connecting device according to claim 8, wherein the adaptor is made from a ballistic- resistant material.

11. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the shield is made from a ballistic- resistant material and the connector is made from a non-ballistic -resistant material.

12. A connecting device according to claim 1, wherein the securing section comprises an opening in the connector for receiving one of the members.

13. A connecting device for connecting two members, comprising a first surface; a second surface on an opposite side of the connecting device from the first surface;

at least one securing section for securing one of the two members to the connecting device; a joint area between the two members; a ballistic -resistant shield between the first surface and the joint area.

14. A connecting device according to claim 13, wherein the openings are set at angle from 0 to 180° relative to each other.

15. A connecting device according to claim 13, wherein the connecting device is made from pultruded polymeric material, with the ballistic-resistant shield material encapsulated in the pultruded polymeric material.

16. A connecting device according to claim 13, wherein the at least one securing section comprises an opening in the connecting device.

17. A multi-part connected structure, comprising: a first ballistic -resistant element including a first surface and a second surface parallel to the first surface; a second element; a hinge pivotally joining the first element to the second element; wherein the hinge is arranged so that when the first and second elements are in substantially parallel planes, the first element is positioned to block a projectile directed at the first surface from contacting the hinge.

18. A structure according to claim 17, wherein the hinge is made from a non-ballistic- resistant material.

19. A structure according to claim 17, wherein the second element can pivot 180° about the hinge.

20. A method of providing a ballistic-resistant connection between first and second panels, comprising: securing the first and second panels to a non-ballistic -resistant connecting element; and arranging a ballistic -resistant material adjacent to a connection area of the connecting element between the two panels.

21. A method according to claim 20, wherein the ballistic -resistant material comprises a shield provided in the connection element.

22. A method according to claim 20, wherein the ballistic resistant material comprises part of one of the first and second panels.

23. A method according to claim 20, wherein the connection element is a hinge.

24. A method according to claim 20, wherein the connection element is a polymeric structure with openings that receive the first and second panels.

25. An apparatus comprising: a first panel; a second panel; a connecting device connecting the first panel to the second panel; and a shield material positioned to block a projectile directed at a joint area of the connecting device.

26. An apparatus according to claim 25, wherein the shield material is provided in one of the first and second panels.

27. An apparatus according to claim 26, wherein the connecting device comprises a hinge.

28. An apparatus according to claim 25, wherein the connecting device comprises openings for receiving the first and second panels.

29. An apparatus according to claim 25, wherein the connecting device is made from pultruded polymeric material, with the shield material encapsulated in the pultruded polymeric material.

30. An apparatus according to claim 25, wherein the shield material comprises at least one of either the first panel or second panel.

Description:

TITLE

CONNECTING SYSTEM, APPARATUS, AND PROCESS, AND MULTI-PART CONNECTED STRUCTURE

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/929,328, filed June 21, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] In many different construction situations, a means is needed to connect a plurality of structures in order to form a larger structure. As a common example, panels often need to be joined together in order to form a larger panel structure. One possible way of joining such panels together is through the use of separate mechanical structures, such as connectors. [0003] A separate connector, however, often results in a joint between the panels that is weaker than the panels themselves. For example, while two ballistic-resistant panels could be secured together using a connector, a resulting joint may then be formed between the panels that is not ballistic -resistant in cases where the connector itself is not formed from a ballistic -resistant material. Thus, the joint between the ballistic -resistant panels would be vulnerable to projectile or shrapnel threats.

[0004] What is needed, therefore, is an apparatus and process for joining two structures together without creating a joint that is significantly weaker than the structures themselves. More specifically, a mechanical means such as a connector, and process using the connector, is needed that results in a joint that is not significantly weaker than the structures that are to be joined together using the connector. Even more specifically, a connector, and process using the

connector, is needed that results in a ballistic -resistant joint between a plurality of ballistic- resistant panels, even if the connecting portions of the connector itself are not made from a ballistic-resistant material.

[0005] The present invention provides such an apparatus and process. Thus, the invention makes it possible to join together ballistic -resistant panels for use in structures such as shelters, seat protectors, vehicle enclosures, and other structures that, without the invention, would have included unprotected joining edges and joint areas with vulnerability to projectile and shrapnel threats. The invention also makes possible, inter alia, the fabrication of more complex three- dimensional shapes by providing a means of joining flat panels of blast armor at various joint angles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] According to an example aspect of the invention, a connecting device is provided for connecting two members. The connection device comprises a connector including at least one securing section, the securing section for securing one of the two members to the connecting device, and a shield provided adjacent to a surface of the connector. The shield is positioned to block a projectile directed at the surface of the connector from entering a portion of the connector between the two members.

[0007] According to another example aspect of the invention, a connecting device is provided for connecting two members. The connecting device comprises a first surface and a second surface on an opposite side of the connecting device from the first surface. The connecting device further comprises at least one securing section for securing one of the two

members to the connecting device, with a joint area between the two members. A ballistic- resistant shield material is further provided between the first surface and the joint area. [0008] According to yet another example aspect of the invention, a multi-part connected structure is provided. The multi-part connected structure includes a first ballistic -resistant element including a first surface and a second surface parallel to the first surface, and a second element. A hinge pivotally joins the first element to the second element, with the hinge being arranged so that when the first and second elements are in substantially parallel planes, the first element blocks a projectile directed at the first surface from contacting the hinge. [0009] According to a still further aspect of the invention, a method is provided for making a ballistic-resistant connection between first and second panels. The method comprises securing the first and second panels to a non-ballistic -resistant connecting element, and arranging a ballistic-resistant material adjacent to a connection area of the connecting element between the two panels.

[0010] These and other aspects of the present invention will be described in further detail below, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Figure 1 shows a first example embodiment of the invention in which two panels are connected together using a connector.

[0012] Figure 2 shows an alternative embodiment of the invention in which two panels are connected together.

[0013] Figure 3 shows another alternative embodiment of the invention in which two panels are connected together.

[0014] Figure 4 shows an example embodiment of the invention in which three panels are connected together.

[0015] Figure 5 shows a still further alternative embodiment of the invention in which two panels are connected together using a connector.

[0016] Figures 6 A, 6B, and 6C show a still further alterative embodiment of the invention in which two panels are connected together using a hinge connector.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] Specific features of the invention will now be described in conjunction with the drawings. It should be noted that while specific forms of the features of the invention are shown, one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize readily applicable alternatives for many of the features.

[0018] A first embodiment of the invention is shown in Figure 1. In this embodiment, first and second panels 110 and 120 are arranged such that the panels are approximately perpendicular to each other. A connector 130 is provided with first and second openings 140 and 150. The connector further comprises a plurality of surfaces 181-185.

[0019] The openings 140 and 150 are configured to approximately match the size and shape of the ends of the panels 110 and 120, so that the panels 110 and 120 when inserted in the openings 140 and 150 are secured to the connector 130, and, thus, the panels 110 and 120 are secured to each other. At the same time, such a securing configuration between the panels 110

and 120 and the openings 140 and 150 of the connector 130 may readily allow the panels 110 and 120 to be dissembled from the connector 130.

[0020] In alternative embodiments of the invention, different means could be included to secure the panels 110 and 120 to the connector 130. For example, rather than providing openings in the connector 130, an adhesive or mechanical means, such as screws, could be used to secure the panels 110 to securing sections formed on the connector.

[0021] The connector 130 is provided with a lip portion 165 protruding from the surface 182 on a side of the connector 130. The lip portion 165 extends adjacent to a joint 160 between the panels 110 and 120. The lip portion includes a cavity 170, in which a shield 180 is encapsulated. The shield 180, therefore, is provided adjacent to the surface 181 and adjacent to the joint 160 between the panels 110 and 120, so as to overlap the joint 160 with respect to the directions in which a projectile could potentially travel. At the same time, the shield 180 also eliminates exposure to a projectile of the vulnerable cross-section at the edges of panels 110 and 120. [0022] The shield 180 can be constructed from a variety of materials. In various embodiments, the shield 180 can be constructed from hard materials capable of deflecting various projectiles. As more specific examples, the hard shield could be a ceramic, metallic, fiber-reinforced composite, or other hard material. In some embodiments, the hard shield material 180 is of sufficient strength to be ballistic -resistant. In such a case, the joint 160 between the two panels 110 and 120 would be shielded from a ballistic projectile striking the side of the connector 130 that is provided with the shield 180. Thus, the joint area 160 would be ballistic-resistant, even if the connector 130 was not made from a ballistic-resistant material. [0023] It should be noted that the term "ballistic-resistant" as used herein, is intended to convey the ability to deflect, slow, or stop a rapidly traveling projectile. As an example, in

specific embodiments, the ballistic-resistant materials used in conjunction with the rest of the invention can substantially retard a bullet fired from a firearm. As another example, in specific embodiments, the ballistic materials used in conjunction with the rest of the invention can substantially retard fast traveling shrapnel from an explosion.

[0024] In addition to the configuration shown in Figure 1 with the shield 180 encapsulated within cavity 170, other configurations may be used to include the shield 180 with the connector 130. For example, the shield could be a separate piece that is attached to the side surface of the connector 130. In such a configuration, the shield 180 could be attached using, for example, adhesive bonding, or as another example, through the use of mechanical means such as screws or fasteners. In some embodiments, the surface of the connector 130 may include a pocket into which the shield 180 is inserted.

[0025] Different shapes are also possible for the area of the connector 130 in which the shield 180 is located. For example, instead of a protruding lip 165, the shield could be encapsulated within the regular width of a wall of the connector 130, thus eliminating the lip 165.

[0026] The connector 130 may be made from a variety of materials. For example, the connector 130 could be made from metals, metal/non-metal hybrids, ceramics, and combinations thereof. Further examples of materials the connector 130 could be made from include polymers, fiber-reinforced composites, and combinations thereof. In the case of fiber-reinforced composites, the fibers could be oriented, unidirectional, or randomly oriented, and different matrix materials could be used including thermosets, thermoplastics, and rubbers. When using thermoplastics and rubbers, the materials may have 10 shore A thru 90 shore D hardness. Moreover, the connector may be made by a variety of techniques, for example, machining,

casting, extrusion, pultrusion, compression molding, injection molding, transfer molding, and thermoforming. In one exemplary embodiment, the connector is made from polyurethane, which is pultruded to form the shape of the connector. In such an embodiment, the shield 180 may be positioned so as to be immersed in the pultruding polyurethane prior to the polyurethane passing through a die, thereby encapsulating the shield 180. In some embodiments, the material may be chosen to be suitable for the particular environment in which the connector is intended to be used. For example, the connector could be made from a weather-resistant material when it is intended to be used outdoors.

[0027] The panels 110 and 120 may also be made from a variety of different materials, such as polymers, metals, ceramics, fiber-reinforced composites, and combinations thereof. In some embodiments of the invention, the panels 110 and 120 are ballistic -resistant. Such ballistic- resistant panels could be, for example, a laminate structure containing a fibrous reinforcement material. The invention, however, is not limited to ballistic -resistant panels, or even to panels, in that any two structures may be joined using connector 130.

[0028] Figure 2 shows another embodiment of the invention. In this case, the panels 210 and 220 are joined together with a connector 230. When the panels 210 and 220 are inserted in the openings 240 and 250 in connector 230, the panels 210 and 220 are set at an angle α between 0 and 180 degrees.

[0029] Similar to the above-described embodiment, the connector 230 can include a lip 265 provided with a cavity 270 adjacent to a joint 260 between the two panels 210 and 220. Shield 280 can then be encapsulated within the cavity 270, and thus provided adjacent to the joint 260. However, as described above, alternative configurations are possible for including a shield material with the connector 230.

[0030] Figure 3 shows yet another embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the panels 310 and 320 are joined together with connector 330 such as to be set at a 180-degree angle from each other. As with the previously described embodiments, the connector 330 can include a lip 365, with the lip 365 including a cavity 370 that encapsulates a shield 380. Thus, the shield 380 is provided adjacent to a joint 360 between the two panels 310 and 320. [0031] Figure 4 shows a further embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, first, second, and third panels 410, 420, and 425 are joined using connector 430. In order to connect the three panels, the connector 430 includes three openings 440, 450, and 455, into which the panels 410, 420, and 425 are inserted. As with the above-described embodiments, the connector may be provided with a lip 465 extending from one of its surfaces, with the lip 465 including a cavity 470, and the cavity 470 encapsulating a shield 480. As such, the shield 480 is provided adjacent to joint 460 common to all three panels.

[0032] The panel 420 in Figure 4 is set at an angle β relative to the other two panels 410 and 425. In different embodiments, the angle β could range from nearly zero to nearly 180 degrees. Moreover, the angle between the panel 420 and panel 410 could be different from the angle between panel 420 and panel 425.

[0033] As is apparent from Figure 4, alternative embodiments of the invention may be used to connect different numbers of panels together. That is, the connector's shape and size may be modified as such to include any number of openings for the desired number of panels to be connected. Further, the connector can be modified to connect the panels at a variety of different angles. In each case, a shield may be incorporated adjacent to a joint between the panels. [0034] Figure 5 shows yet another alternative embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, two panels 510 and 520 are joined with a connector 530 through the use of

adaptors 590. The adaptors 590 provide the link between the panels 510 and 520 and the connector 530, as will be described below. As with the previously described embodiments, the connector 530 can include a lip 565 protruding from one of its sides. The lip 565 includes a cavity 570, in which a shield 580 is encapsulated, and is thereby provided adjacent to the joint 560 between the panels 510 and 520.

[0035] The adaptors 590 may be connected to the panels through a variety of means. In the depicted embodiment, screws 494 are used to mechanically fasten the adaptors 590 to the panels 510 and 520. Alternatively, the adaptors 590 could be fastened to the panels 510 and 520 using a bonding means, such as an adhesive. As a still further alternative, the openings 596 in the adaptors 590 may be sized and shaped to correspond to the size and shape of the ends of the panels 510 and 520, thus resulting in a secure connection when the adaptors 590 are mounted onto the panels 510 and 520.

[0036] The adaptors 590 can be made from a variety of materials, such as polymers, metals, ceramics, or fiber-reinforced composite materials. In some embodiments, the adaptors 590 can be made from ballistic-resistant materials.

[0037] The adaptors 590 provide a link between the connector 530 and the first and second panels 510 and 520. Specifically, the adaptors include doll head projections 592 that fit in correspondingly shaped receiving recesses 594 in the connector 530. In some embodiments, the doll head projections 592 and shaped receiving recesses 594 are correspondingly sized so as to result in a snap-fit connection. Such a snap-fit allows for a quick-release connection between the panels 510 and 520 and the connector 530. Accordingly, the panels 510 and 520 may readily be attached to and detached from the connector 530.

[0038] The doll head projections 592 and receiving recesses 594 could be designed to have a variety of alternative shapes. For example, the structures shown in Figure 5 could be reversed, such that the connector 530 includes doll head projections, and the adaptors 590 include receiving recesses. As another example, the adaptors 590 could be provided with projections that are slid into a secure connection with recesses in the connector 530.

[0039] Alternative embodiments using the general configuration of Figure 5 are also possible. For example, the connector 590 could be modified such that the panels are joined at different angles, similar to the embodiments described above. Further, the connector 590 could be modified to include a plurality of openings to join three or more panels together.

[0040] Figures 6A through 6C show a still further embodiment of the invention, wherein a hinge connector is provided for two elements.

[0041] The hinged system 600 includes a first element 602 that includes substantially parallel first and second surfaces 604 and 606. The hinged system 600 further includes a second element

608 that includes substantially parallel surfaces 610 and 612. Similar to the above-described embodiments, the first and second elements 602 and 608 may be panels. Further, the panels may be ballistic -resistant.

[0042] A hinge 614 connects the first and second elements 602 and 608. In the particular embodiment depicted, the hinge 614 comprises a connecting portion 616 that is associated with the first element 602, and a connecting portion 628 that is associated with the second element

608. The hinge 614 further includes a pin 620 which extends through elements 622 of the connecting portion 616 and elements 624 of the connecting portion 628, thereby providing a pivoting association between the two connecting portions 616 and 628.

[0043] As can be seen when comparing Figures 6A through 6C, the hinge 614 allows the second element 608 to be pivoted about 180°, from a position shown in Figure 6A wherein the first and second elements 602 and 608 are arranged in opposite directions, to the position in Figure 6B wherein the second element 608 is at a 90° angle relative to the first element 602, and finally to the position shown in Figure 6C, wherein the first and second elements 602 and 608 are positioned adjacent to each another.

[0044] The connecting portion 616 of the hinge 614 is connected to the second surface 606 of the first element 602. This connection may be achieved through a variety of means, including, for example, an adhesive or a mechanical means such as a screw. The connecting portion 628 of the hinge 614 includes an opening 618 that receives the second element 608. The opening 618 may be sized so as to receive the second element 608 in a secure manner. Additionally, or alternatively, other means could be provided for securing the second element 608 to the connecting portion 628 of the hinge, for example, an adhesive or a mechanical means such as a screw. In alternative embodiments, an adaptor like that described in conjunction with the embodiment depicted in Figure 5, could be used to connect the second element 608 to the connecting portion 628.

[0045] Referring primarily to Figure 6A, the hinge system 600 is configured in conjunction with the first and second elements 602 and 608 so as to achieve a spatial relationship such that a projectile directed at the first and second elements 602 and 608 from the right side of Figure 6A cannot substantially strike the hinge system 614 without first passing through either the first or second elements 602 and 608. As noted above, the first and second elements may be formed from ballistic -resistant materials. Thus, even if the hinge system 600 is not formed from ballistic-resistant materials, the connection between the two elements 602 and 608 is secure from

ballistic projectiles traveling from right to left in Figure 6A due to the spatial arrangement of the hinge system 600 and the first and second elements 602 and 608.

[0046] As those skilled in the art will recognize, the hinge system 600 could be modified in a variety of ways different from the specific representations shown in Figures 6A through 6C, and still achieve the functionality described herein. For example, either of the connections between the hinge system and the first and second elements could be altered, e.g., connecting portion 628 could be secured to the second element 608 in the manner that connecting portion 616 is secured to the first element 602. Further, the hinge 614 itself could comprise a variety of alternative or additional elements and still allow for at least part of the pivoting motion shown in Figures 6A through 6C, and thereby still achieve the functionality described herein with respect to projectiles.

[0047] As is readily apparent from this disclosure, the present invention has industrial applicability, for example, as being a part of ballistic-resistant product development. [0048] While the present invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments, it is evident that numerous alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art of the foregoing description. Accordingly, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the described embodiments, and should be interpreted to include all such alternatives, modifications, and variations.

[0049] Furthermore, the purpose of the Abstract is to enable the Patent Office and the public generally, and especially the scientists, engineers and practitioners in the art who are not familiar with patent or legal terms or phraseology, to determine quickly from a cursory inspection the nature and essence of the technical disclosure of the application. The Abstract is not intended to

be limiting as to the scope of the present invention in any way. It is also to be understood that the procedures recited in the claims need not be performed in the order presented.