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Title:
MOUNTING FOR A FUNCTIONAL OR DECORATIVE BUILDING PANEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/028523
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to the general field of building construction. More particularly the invention relates to means for attaching a panel having functional and/or decorative characteristics to a building. In one aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for hinging a panel to a building structure, the apparatus comprising: a support bracket comprising: a substantially rigid main portion, a trolley connection portion configured to substantially fixedly connect a trolley portion to the main portion, and a hinged portion hingedly connected to the main portion.

Inventors:
LANG, Craig (45 Commercial Drive, Thomastow, Victoria 3074, 3074, AU)
Application Number:
AU2018/050844
Publication Date:
February 14, 2019
Filing Date:
August 10, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MAMMOTH INDUSTRIES PTY LTD (45 Commercial Drive, Thomastown, Victoria 3074, 3074, AU)
International Classes:
E05D15/26; E05D7/08; E05D15/58
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016054678A12016-04-14
Foreign References:
NZ547110A2007-11-30
FR2959524A12011-11-04
GB2533286A2016-06-22
US20100218430A12010-09-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOROVEC, Steven (Churchill Attorneys, St. Kilda Road Towers1 Queens Road, Suite 70, Melbourne Victoria 3004, 3004, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Apparatus for hinging a panel to a building structure, the apparatus comprising:

a support bracket comprising:

a substantially rigid main portion,

a trolley connection portion configured to substantially fixedly connect a trolley portion to the main portion, and

a hinged portion hingedly connected to the main portion. 2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the trolley connection portion and the hinged portion are disposed at opposed ends of the substantially rigid main portion.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the trolley connection portion comprises a shaft configured to receive a bar.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the shaft is configured to or has means to prevent axial rotation of a bar disposed therein.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the means to prevent axial rotation is a formation in or of the shaft wall.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the formation of the shaft wall is a planar surface facing inwardly to the shaft. 7. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the hinged portion comprises panel connection means.

8. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 7 wherein the substantially rigid main portion and the hinged portion both comprise plate-like portions of substantially the same thickness, and the hinged portion is rotatable about its hinge axis so as to lie within the substantially rigid main portion.

9. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 8 wherein the hinged portion is rotatable about its hinged axis so as to be collinear with the substantially rigid main portion.

10. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 9 comprising a bar configured to fixedly connect at one end to a trolley, and the other end to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid main portion.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the bar comprises means for preventing axial rotation within a shaft of the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid panel bracket.

12. The apparatus of claim 10 or claim 11 wherein the bar is formed so as to snugly insert in the passage of the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid panel bracket so as to substantially prevent axial rotation of the bar with reference to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid bracket panel.

13. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 12 comprising a trolley fixedly connected to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid bracket panel.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein, where the apparatus comprises a bar, the trolley comprises bar connection means.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the bar connection means is a shaft formed so as to snugly accept the bar so as to substantially prevent axial rotation of the bar with reference to the trolley.

16. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 15 comprising a trolley configured so as to allow the apparatus to slide in accordance with a track.

17. The combination of the apparatus of any one of claims 1 to 16 with a building panel, wherein the building panel is fixedly connected to the hinged portion of the apparatus but free from the substantially rigid main portion.

18. The combination of claim 17 further comprising a track configured to guide the trolley (where present).

19. The combination of claim 17 or claim 18 further comprising a second building panel, the second building panel being fixedly connected to the hinged region of a second apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 20, and wherein the first and second building panels are hingedly connected to each other.

20. A building panel installation comprising:

a building,

a track fixed to or incorporated into the building, and

the combination of any one of claims 17 to 19,

wherein the installation is configured such that the panels are slidable along the track and optionally capable of folding one on top of the other.

Description:
MOUNTING FOR A FUNCTIONAL OR DECORATIVE BUILDING PANEL

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the general field of building construction. More particularly the invention relates to means for attaching a panel having functional and/or decorative characteristics to a building.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

For many reasons, it is often desirable to mount panel structures on the exterior of a building. Such panel structures may function as a screen against impinging sunlight or wind. Typically, such panel structures may be positioned to cover windows or other openings in building. In many instances, the panel structure is configured to allow for the entry of a breeze, yet block direct sunlight. Louvres and other similar arrangements may be used to achieve that end. Such arrangements have advantage in that they can allow cross-flow ventilation so as to cool a building interior, whilst preventing direct sunlight from heating the building and persons inside the building. The panel may provide a further function of providing privacy to the building occupant.

In other circumstances, the panel structure may be used for decorative reasons. For example, a set of panels may be installed on a building facade, with each panel displaying a portion of a graphic. When installed, the panels together display an enter coherent graphic. Such arrangements may be used to display artwork, text or other visual material to the passing members of the public. The decorative panel structures may also have functional characteristics.

Irrespective of any functional or decorative characteristics, it may be necessary or desirable to temporarily relocate a panel with reference to a building structure. A common example is where a panel is used to shade a building window. In that circumstance the panel may be configured to be locatable away from the window in the morning so as to allow the sun to warm the building interior. However, once the interior reaches a comfortable temperature the panel is relocated so as to cover the window thereby limiting any further increase in temperature as the sun rises during the day. A basic example would be window shutters which hinge simply on the outside of a building which open and close in a manner similar to a door.

Problems arises where multiple panels are fitted to a building. A first problem is that the panel mounting hardware may be visible from the outside of a building. This can lead to a negative visual impression of the building as a hole.

A second problem is arises where multiple panels are installed, and in which case may prior art mounting hardware apparatus do not allow for the very close abutment of the panels. Typically, gaps (at both horizontal and vertical edges of adjoining panels)are formed, with is permitting the entry of wind. Furthermore, the gaps may detract visually from a graphic displayed by the panels. A related problem is that the orientation of the panels relative to each other is not easily adjusted so as to ensure consistency in gap dimensions to provide the required clearances and improve the overall visual impression.

In the installation of multiple panels, it is typical for the panels to be connected along their horizontal or vertical edges by hinging means so as to provide a concertina arrangement. Thus, panels may be folded laterally away from a window, with the panels stacking one of top of the other to the side of the window. This is typically known as a "bi-fold" arrangement. Generally, the panels are slidable relative to the building by virtue of a track and roller arrangement similar to that found in a sliding door. A third problem presents in that when moving the panels there is the propensity for jamming to occur, or at least for the panels to not operate smoothly.

There is a further problem in the difficulty in customizing the mounting and hinging hardware according to a particular architectural and/or engineering requirement.

It is an aspect of the present invention to overcome of ameliorate a problem of the prior art by providing improved means for mounting and hinging a building panel. It is a further aspect to provide a commercially useful alternative to prior art mounting and hinging means. Different panel dimensions and the need for various offsets from the building.

The discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles and the like is included in this specification solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not suggested or represented that any or all of these matters formed part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed before the priority date of each claim of this application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention provides apparatus for hinging a panel to a building structure, the apparatus comprising:

a support bracket comprising:

a substantially rigid main portion,

a trolley connection portion configured to substantially fixedly connect a trolley portion to the main portion, and

a hinged portion hingedly connected to the main portion.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the trolley connection portion and the hinged portion are disposed at opposed ends of the substantially rigid main portion.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the trolley connection portion comprises a shaft configured to receive a bar.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the shaft is configured to or has has means to prevent axial rotation of a bar disposed therein.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the means to prevent axial rotation is a formation in or of the shaft wall. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the formation of the shaft wall is a planar surface facing inwardly to the shaft.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the hinged portion comprises panel connection means. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the panel connection means is one or more screw holes or bolt holes or rivet holes. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the substantially rigid main portion and the hinged portion both comprise plate-like portions of substantially the same thickness, and the hinged portion is rotatable about its hinge axis so as to lie within the substantially rigid main portion. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the hinged portion is rotatable about its hinged axis so as to be collinear with the substantially rigid main portion.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the shaft is elongate and the hinge axis of the hinged portion and the shaft long axis are parallel.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus comprises a bar configured to fixedly connect at one end to a trolley, and the other end to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid main portion. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the bar comprises means for preventing axial rotation within a shaft of the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid panel bracket.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the bar is formed so as to snugly insert in the passage of the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid panel bracket so as to substantially prevent axial rotation of the bar with reference to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid bracket panel.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus comprises a trolley fixedly connected to the trolley connection portion of the substantially rigid bracket panel.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, an in embodiment comprising a bar, the trolley comprises bar connection means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the bar connection means is a shaft formed so as to snugly accept the bar so as to substantially prevent axial rotation of the bar with reference to the trolley.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus comprises a trolley configured so as to allow the apparatus to slide in accordance with a track. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus is configured such that the trolley is capable of sliding along a plane which is substantially orthogonal to any one or more of: a plane (where present) of the substantially rigid panel bracket, a plane (where present) of the hinged portion, the hinge axis (where present) of the hinged portion, the long axis of an elongate passage (where present) of the trolley connection portion, the long axis of the bar (where present).

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus comprises adjustment means configured to adjust the vertical position of the substantially rigid panel bracket with reference to a trolley (where present).

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the apparatus comprises a second hinged portion hingedly connected to the main portion.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the hinged portion and the second hinged portion are hinged on the same hinge axis.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the hinged portion and the second hinged portion are planar.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, where the hinged portion and the second hinged portion are arranged so as to be coplanar, the edges of the second hinged portion are within the edges of the hinged portion.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the hinged portion is substantially U-shaped and the second hinged portion is shaped and dimensioned to substantially occupy the region between the arms of the U-shaped hinged portion. In a second aspect, the present invention provides a combination of the apparatus of an embodiment of the first aspect with a building panel, wherein the building panel is fixedly connected to the hinged portion of the apparatus but free from the substantially rigid main portion. In one embodiment of the second aspect, the building panel is configured to provide any one or more of sun protection, wind protection, sound protection, visual screening, or decoration.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the combination further comprises a track configured to guide the trolley (where present).

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the combination further comprises a second building panel, the second building panel being fixedly connected to the hinged region of a second apparatus of any embodiment of the first aspect, and wherein the first and second building panels are hingedly connected to each other.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, where both the first apparatus and the second apparatus comprise a trolley, the trolleys are configured to roll with a single track. In a third aspect, the present invention provides a building panel installation comprising:

a building,

a track fixed to or incorporated into the building, and

the combination of any embodiment of the first aspect,

wherein the installation is configured such that the panels are slidable along the track and optionally capable of folding one on top of the other.

In a fourth aspect, the present invention provides a method of installing a building panel, the method comprising the steps of providing a track, providing the combination of any embodiment of the second aspect, fixing the track to a building, and disposing the trolleys within the track.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective, exploded view of a preferred apparatus of the present invention having a single hinged portion. The apparatus is adapted to engage with an upper track.

FIG. IB is a lateral view of the assembled apparatus shown in FIG. 1 A.

FIG. 2 A is a plan view of the apparatus of FIG. IB attached to a building panel. FIG. 2B is a plan view of the apparatus and building panel combination of FIG. 2 A, whereby the panel is rotated away from the track (and therefore the building surface) from which the panel is supported. FIG. 3 is a plan view of two apparatus and building and building panel combinations of the type shown in FIG. 2A whereby the panels are hingedly connected to each other.

FIG. 4A is a perspective, exploded view of a preferred apparatus of the present invention having two hinged portions. The apparatus is adapted to engage with an upper track.

FIG. 4B is a lateral view of the assembled apparatus shown in FIG. 4A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

After considering this description it will be apparent to one skilled in the art how the invention is implemented in various alternative embodiments and alternative applications. However, although various embodiments of the present invention will be described herein, it is understood that these embodiments are presented by way of example only, and not limitation. As such, this description of various alternative embodiments should not be construed to limit the scope or breadth of the present invention. Furthermore, statements of advantages or other aspects apply to specific exemplary embodiments, and not necessarily to all embodiments covered by the claims.

Throughout the description and the claims of this specification the word "comprise" and variations of the word, such as "comprising" and "comprises" is not intended to exclude other additives, components, integers or steps.

Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment" in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment, but may. It is not represented that any embodiment disclosed herein has all advantages disclosed herein. Some embodiments may have a single advantage while others may represent merely a useful alternative to the prior art. The present invention is predicated at least in part on the Applicant's finding that inclusion of a substantially rigid portion in a panel support and hinging apparatus provides practical advantage. Maintaining a fixed space relationship between the trolley (and therefore the track in which the trolley runs, and therefore also the building upon which the track is fixed) (via the rigid part) and the point of attachment of the region to the panel inhibits or prevents problems in sliding panel along a track, and optionally prevents problems in folding panels in a concertina arrangement.

The invention is a significant departure from prior art devices that fail to maintain a fixed relationship as is provided for by the present invention. Prior art devices allow for building panels greater degrees of freedom with respect to each other, this allowing the panel' s plane to tilt relative the plane of the track upon which they run. Applicant has discovered that it is this excessive freedom which contributes to problems in the smooth rolling of building panels along a track. Removal of that freedom by way of a rigid portion connecting the trolley to the building panel provides for a lower opportunity for the panels to jam or otherwise malfunction when being moved from one position (for example, concealing a building window) to another position (for example, concealing the building window)

Furthermore disposing the panels away from a building in such a fixed relationship allows the hinging devices to be hidden behind the panel. Furthermore, they are more easily adjusted horizontally and vertically so as to close gaps, or at least able to keep the gaps small and of a consistent width. Vertical adjustment may be achieved by the adjustment mechanism more fully described herein infra.

Referring firstly to FIG. 1 there is generally shown in exploded view one preferred embodiment of the apparatus (10) of the present invention. The apparatus (10) has a rigid main portion (15) which is generally fabricated from aluminium. The main portion (15) has an integrally formed trolley connection portion which in this embodiment is an expanded region (20) surrounding an axial hexagonal shaft (25). The hexagonal shaft (25) is shaped and dimensioned so as to snugly receive a solid hexagonal bar (30). The function of the hexagonal bar (30) is to mount the trolley (35) onto the main portion (15). The trolley (30) is mounted such that its long axis is orthogonal to the long axis of the main portion (15), and furthermore the long axis of the trolley (35) is fixed in that orientation. The fixed orientation of the trolley (35) is achieved by the trolley chassis (40) having a short hexagonal shaft (45) which is shaped and dimensioned to snugly receive the hexagonal bar (30). In alternative embodiments, the bar may be any non- circular shape and the shaft a corresponding non-circular shape to snugly receive the bar so prevent relative rotation. The non-circular shape may be ovoid, square, rectangular, triangular, pentagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, nonagonal, or decagonal etc. In this preferred embodiment, the trolley (35) comprises rollers (50) and (55) configured to cooperate to ensure the trolley (35) rolls smoothly along a track (not shown). This preferred embodiment is configured to engage with an upper track such that the major part of any building panel attached to the apparatus (10) is below the track. The rollers (50) have rotational axes parallel to the track, while the rotational axes of rollers (55) are orthogonal to the track.

The trolley chassis (40) is secured to the hexagonal bar (30) by way of a fixing screw (60) which screws into an internal threaded shaft (65) of the hexagonal bar (30). A standard washer (70) sits beneath the head of the fixing screw (60). The height of the trolley (35) with reference to the main portion (15) is adjustable upwardly and downwardly by way of rotating the adjusting screw (75). A locking collar (80) has two keyed protrusions extending partially through the bore (85) which is shaped and dimensioned so as to snugly receive a lower keyed terminal region (90) of the hexagonal bar (30). A standard washer (98) sits beneath the ledge formed at the border of the lower terminal region of the bar with region immediately adjacent thereto.

The adjusting screw (75) engages with an internal thread (not shown) in the lower region of the hexagonal bar (30). When rotated sufficiently inwardly and into the threaded portion of the hexagonal bar (30), the terminal face of the adjusting screw (75) contacts and exerts force against the terminal face of the locking collar (80). Thus, rotating the screw (75) inwardly causes the main portion (15) to lower relative to the trolley (35) (given that the trolley vertical position is fixed). Once adjustment is completed, a grub screw (95) (which inserts into the threaded region of the locking collar (80) via a lateral threaded aperture (100)) is turned inwardly so as to bear against the shaft of the adjusting screw (75) so as to prevent inadvertent rotation thereof. Further details of this preferred locking mechanism and others similar are found in Applicant's international patent publication WO2016/054678, the contents of which is herein incorporated by reference.

The circlip (126) assists in retaining the trolley (35) in spatial arrangement with the hexagonal bar (30) to ensure tight location between the trolley (35) and hinge components. In fabrication, the hexagonal bar (30) is fed through the expanded region (20). The washer (98), locking collar (80) screw (75) are fitted and the screw inserted into the threaded bore (not shown) of the hexagonal bar (30) and torqued. Secondly, the circlip (126) is pressed onto the mating groove (127) of the hexagonal bar (30). Vertical adjustment of a panel supported by the present apparatus may be carried out for any reason. Commonly, fine adjustments are made to accommodate any irregularity in the track, or the building structure to which the track is attached, or to properly align a panel with reference to another panel supported on the same track. Given that the trolley (35) typically runs along a track which is parallel to a building surface (such as an exterior wall), the main portion (15) is fixed in an orientation orthogonal to the track, and also orthogonal to the building surface. This fixed arrangement is apparent from FIG. 2 which is a plan view of the assembled apparatus (10). The provision of a rigid extension that extends orthogonal to a track is an important point of difference compared to prior art apparatus. In the prior art, a portion extending outwardly from the track (equivalent to the main portion (15)) is hinged, rather than rigid (and unhinged) as in the present invention. The inclusion of a hinge on the main portion has been found to contribute to malfunction and difficulty in moving a building panel attached to the main portion. In terms of hinging, the present apparatus (10) has a single hinge. Expressed alternatively, the present apparatus (10) has no more than a single hinge. In this preferred embodiment, the single hinge is provided at the terminal region of the main portion (15). The main portion 15 contributes two knuckles (110), (125) to the hinge. The hinged portion (115) of the apparatus (10) contributes the third knuckle (120). A pin (not shown) having a cap (130) completes the hinge.

As will be apparent from FIG. 1, the hinged portion (115) swings relative to the main portion (15). The lateral edge face of a building panel is attached to the hinged portion (115) by way of screw holes or rivet holes (132). Reference is made to FIG. 2 A which shows the attachment of a building panel (135) to the preferred apparatus by way of fastening at the edge (140) to the hinged portion (not shown). The trolley runs in an upper track, the rollers (50) running in the track bounded by the lines (145) and the roller (55) running in the track bounded by the lines (150).

The present apparatus is particularly useful in supporting a series panels which fold together in a concertina-type manner. Each panel is typically supported at an upper and lower region by an apparatus of the present invention. The upper apparatus engages with an upper track and the lower apparatus with a lower track. Adjacent panels are typically hinged together by at least one hinge (and typically a butt hinge). Reference is made to FIG. 3 showing such a simple arrangement between two panels (135A) and (135B) joined by butt hinge (155). It will be noted that the rigid portions (15 A) and (15B) maintain the portions (115 A) and (115B) a minimum distance from the outer building surface (160).

Moving the upper and lower trolleys closer together causes the panels (135 A) and (135B) to fold together such that the broad faces abut. In this configuration, the panels may be folded away so as to expose a window, for example, that is disposed between the track and the panels. Moving the upper and lower trolleys further apart cause the panels (135 A) and (135B) to lie parallel to the exterior building surface (160). In this configuration, the panels may be folded away so as to conceal a window, for example.

An alternative apparatus of the present invention is shown at FIG 4A and 4B, being similar to the apparatus shown at FIG. 1 A except that two hinged portions (115) and (116) are provided. The hinged portion (115) may be fixed to the edge of a first panel (not shown) and the second hinged portion (116) may be fixed to the edge of a second hinged panel (not shown) so as to hinge the two panels about the same hinge axis. In this embodiment, the rigid main portion 15 maintains an offset between the two hinged portions (115) and (116) and the trolley (35). It will be noted from FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B that the hinged portion (115) is substantially U- shaped, with the second hinged portion (116) sitting within the first hinged portion (115). In these drawings, the rigid portion (15), hinged portion (115), and hinged portion (116) are shown in a coplanar arrangement, however as will be readily appreciated each of (15), (115) and (116) are rotatable about a common hinge pin (not shown). Thus, a hinge is provided having knuckles (125) and (110) provided by the rigid portion (15); knuckles (120A) and (120B) provided by the first hinged portion (115); and knuckle (122) provided by the second hinged portion (116).

The present invention has been described in text and drawings mainly by reference to an apparatus having a trolley which is adapted to engage with an upper track. In this form of the invention the apparatus attaches to an upper region of the building panel, and the panels extend generally downwardly from the track. The vertically-oriented rollers roll on the floor of the track and assume some load of the panel and are therefore of moderately heavy duty construction. The horizontally-oriented rollers extend into a relatively narrow guide track that extends into the ceiling of the main track, and bear lightly against the vertical walls of the guide track. The horizontally-oriented wheels of the upper apparatus are relatively lightly constructed given their role to prevent excess lateral movement of the trolley within the upper track.

It will be typical in many installations for there to be also a lower track adapted to receive the rollers of a second apparatus fixed to a lower region of the building panel. The second (lower) apparatus operates identically to the first (upper) apparatus in so far as the hinging is arranged. The lower apparatus may however have a trolley with only vertically oriented rollers, which contact the underlying track. These rollers will generally assume much of the load of the panel and will therefore be of relatively heavy duty construction.

It will be understood that the invention is not limited to any particular embodiment of the invention as disclosed herein. Equivalents, extensions, variations, deviations, etc., of the various exemplified embodiments will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the teachings contained herein. Such equivalents, extensions, variations, deviations, etc., are within the scope and spirit of the present invention.

It will be further appreciated that any of the features of any aspect of the invention disclosed herein are all combinable with each other in any number and in any combination without any limitation whatsoever. The ability to combine any features in any number to provide a range of combinations extends to features defined in the following claims.