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Title:
STRUCTURAL MEMBER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/092284
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A structural member for a structural assembly. The structural member comprises a first portion which extends in a first plane and a second portion which extends away from the first portion and which extends in a second plane at an angle to the first plane. The first portion is provided with an engagement feature configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature provided on a further member of the structural assembly. The second portion is provided with: a seating feature engageable with a compatible seating feature provided on the further structural member to thereby seat one of the structural members on the other structural member, and thereby prevent the interlocking engagement features from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane.

Inventors:
AL-SABAH, Salam (National University of IrelandBelfield, 4 Dublin, 4, IE)
LAEFER, Debra Fern (National University of IrelandBelfield, 4 Dublin, 4, IE)
Application Number:
EP2018/081114
Publication Date:
May 16, 2019
Filing Date:
November 13, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, DUBLIN (Belfield, 4 Dublin, 4, IE)
International Classes:
E04B1/24; E04B1/26; E04C3/06; E04C3/14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
APPLEYARD LEES IP LLP (15 Clare Road, Halifax Yorkshire HX1 2HY, HX1 2HY, GB)
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Claims:
STRUCTURAL MEMBER

CLAIMS A structural member for a structural assembly, the structural member comprising: a first portion which extends in a first plane; a second portion which extends away from the first portion and which extends in a second plane at an angle to the first plane; the first portion being provided with an engagement feature configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature provided on a further member of the structural assembly; and the second portion being provided with: a seating feature engageable with a compatible seating feature provided on the further structural member to thereby seat one of the structural members on the other structural member, and thereby prevent the interlocking engagement features from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane. A structural member for a structural assembly as claimed in claim 1 wherein the engagement feature on the structural member is engageable with the compatible engagement feature provided on the further member of the structural assembly in a direction of the second plane; and the seating feature on the structural member is engageable with the compatible seating feature provided on the further structural member in a direction of the second plane. A structural member as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the first plane is at right angles to the second plane. A structural member as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein the structural member engagement feature comprises a tooth member for interlocking engagement with a compatible slot provided on the further structural member. A structural member as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the structural member engagement feature comprises a slot for interlocking engagement with a compatible tooth member provided on the further structural member. A structural member as claimed in claim 4 or claim 5 wherein the tooth member extends away from an end of the first portion, and is wider at its end distal to the first portion than at the end proximate to the first portion. A structural member as claimed in claim 6 wherein the tooth member is tapered such that it increases in width in the direction away from the end of the first portion towards its end distal to the first portion. A structural member as claimed in claim 4 or claim 5 wherein the tooth member extends from a side of the first portion. A structural member as claimed in claim 8 wherein a plurality of tooth members are provided in series at one end of the first portion. A structural member as claimed in claim 9 wherein each tooth member in the series extends outwards to a different extent than the other tooth members. A structural member as claimed in claim 10 wherein the extent to which each tooth in the series extends outwards decreases along the series towards the end of the first portion. A structural member as claimed in any one of claims 8 to 1 1 wherein the tooth member extends away from a section of reduced width of the first portion. A structural member as claimed in any one of claims 9 to 1 1 wherein tooth members extend away from of a series of reduced width sections of the first portion. A structural member as claimed in claim 13 wherein each tooth members extends from a different reduced width section. A structural member as claimed in claim 1 , wherein one end of the further structural member comprises a cavity a plurality of slots being provided in series along the depth of the cavity for receiving, and interlocking engagement with, compatible teeth of the other structural member. A structural member as claimed in claim 15 wherein : the cavity is stepped along its length such that it decreases in height along its length. A structural member as claimed in claim 16 wherein at least two slots extend from each cavity step.

A member as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 17 wherein the seating feature comprises a seating land which seats a compatible seating land on the further structural member.

A structural member as claimed in claim 18 wherein the seating land is provided on a step the step extending in a direction of the second plane, and the step being offset from the first plane.

A structural member as claimed in claim 18 or claim 19 wherein the seating feature comprises a series of stepped seating lands which seat a compatible series of stepped lands on the further structural member.

A structural member as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 20 wherein the second portion comprises a locking feature configured to prevent the engagement features of the structural members from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in the direction of the second plane.

A structural member as claimed in claim 21 wherein : the locking feature comprises a locking slot in the second portion for receiving a locking element configured to extend between the structural member locking slot and a locking slot provided in the further structural member.

A structural member as claimed in claim 22 wherein : the locking slots are provided between the seating lands. A structural member as claimed in claim 22 or claim 23 wherein : the locking element has a four sided polygonal cross section, with a width of no more than the sum of the depths of the locking slots. A structural member as claimed in claim 22 or claim 23 wherein : the locking element has a cross-shaped cross section with a width greater than the sum of the depths of the locking slots. A structural assembly comprising structural members, each structural member comprising : a first portion which extends in a first plane; a second portion which extends away from the first portion and which extends in a second plane at an angle to the first plane; the first portion being provided with an engagement feature configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature provided on a further member of the structural assembly; and the second portion being provided with a seating feature engageable with a compatible seating feature provided on the other structural member to thereby seat one of the structural members on the other structural member and thereby prevent the interlocking engagement features from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane.

Description:
STRUCTURAL MEMBER

The present disclosure relates to a structural member. In particular the disclosure is concerned with a structural member for a structural assembly. Background

In many industries, such as the construction industry, there is a need to connect different parts together. A prominent example in the construction industry is the need to connect steel beams to steel columns. In this case, bolts or welds or rivets are used to connect the parts. This requires special connection features. For steel, the process of welding, bolting or riveting is presently necessary, involving many manual operations that must be conducted by a skilled worker. Additionally, the quality of the joint is not guaranteed, as site conditions are often less than ideal for this type of work due to bad weather or accessibility issues.

Subsequent disassembly, where required, may be even more difficult and labour intensive, as it involves breaking or undoing the connections made during assembly. Even for bolted or riveted connections, disassembly may be complicated by corrosion. Disassembly may also cause damage to the connected members, thereby making them unusable without truncating and refabricating their ends.

Hence a means for simply connecting and disconnecting members, which also allows for a safe and reliable connection to make a robust structure, is highly desirable.

Summary

According to the present disclosure there is provided an apparatus as set forth in the appended claims. Other features of the invention will be apparent from the dependent claims, and the description which follows.

Accordingly there may be provided a structural member for a structural assembly, the structural member comprising: a first portion which extends in a first plane; a second portion which extends away from the first portion and which extends in a second plane at an angle to the first plane; the first portion being provided with an engagement feature configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature provided on a further member of the structural assembly; and the second portion being provided with: a seating feature engageable with a compatible seating feature provided on the further structural member to thereby seat one of the structural members on the other structural member, and thereby prevent the interlocking engagement features from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane.

The engagement feature on the structural member may be engageable with the compatible engagement feature provided on the further member of the structural assembly in a direction of the second plane; and the seating feature on the structural member may be engageable with the compatible seating feature provided on the further structural member in a direction of the second plane. The first plane may be at right angles to the second plane.

The structural member engagement feature may comprise a tooth member for interlocking engagement with a compatible slot provided on the further structural member. The structural member engagement feature may comprise a slot for interlocking engagement with a compatible tooth member provided on the further structural member.

The tooth member may extend away from an end of the first portion, and is wider at its end distal to the first portion than at the end proximate to the first portion.

The tooth member may be tapered such that it increases in width in the direction away from the end of the first portion towards its end distal to the first portion.

The tooth member may extend from a side of the first portion.

A plurality of tooth members may be provided in series at one end of the first portion.

Each tooth member in the series may extend outwards to a different extent than the other tooth members.

The extent to which each tooth in the series extends outwards may decrease along the series towards the end of the first portion.

The tooth member may extend away from a section of reduced width of the first portion.

Tooth members may extend away from of a series of reduced width sections of the first portion.

Each tooth members may extend from a different reduced width section. One end of the further structural member may comprise a cavity, a plurality of slots being provided in series along the depth of the cavity for receiving, and interlocking engagement with, compatible teeth of the other structural member.

The cavity may be stepped along its length such that it decreases in height along its length.

At least two slots may extend from each cavity step. The seating feature may comprise a seating land which seats a compatible seating land on the further structural member.

The seating land may be provided on a step, the step extending in a direction of the second plane, and the step being offset from the first plane.

The seating feature may comprise a series of stepped seating lands which seat a compatible series of stepped lands on the further structural member.

The second portion may comprise a locking feature configured to prevent the engagement features of the structural members from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in the direction of the second plane.

The locking feature may comprise a locking slot in the second portion for receiving a locking element configured to extend between the structural member locking slot and a locking slot provided in the further structural member.

The locking slots may be provided between the seating lands.

The locking element may be a four sided polygonal cross section, with a width of no more than the sum of the depths of the locking slots.

The locking element may have a cross-shaped cross section with a width greater than the sum of the depths of the locking slots. There may also be provided a structural assembly comprising structural members, each structural member comprising : a first portion which extends in a first plane; a second portion which extends away from the first portion and which extends in a second plane at an angle to the first plane; the first portion being provided with an engagement feature configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature provided on a further member of the structural assembly; and the second portion being provided with a seating feature engageable with a compatible seating feature provided on the other structural member to thereby seat one of the structural members on the other structural member and thereby prevent the interlocking engagement features from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane.

Hence there is provided a reliable and repeatable means for connecting and disconnecting structural members in an assembly. The joining features provide positive engagement, allow for easy connection during assembly and easy disconnection during disassembly.

Structural members provided with such joining features may be utilised in all load and non-load carrying connections between members such as those in building structures, scaffolding, temporary structures, furniture, toys, sports equipment and jewellery. Brief Description of the Drawings

Examples of the present disclosure will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 shows an example of structural members of a structural assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 2 shows a side view of the arrangement shown in Figure 1 ; Figures 3 to 6 show a further example of structural members of a structural assembly according to the present disclosure, and how they may be joined;

Figure 7 shows a side view of the example of Figures 3 to 6 when assembled; Figure 8 shows an alternative example of the arrangement shown in Figure 7;

Figure 9 shows an alternative example of the arrangement shown in Figures 7, 8;

Figures 10 to 13 show a further example of structural members of the present disclosure and how they may be configured and joined;

Figure 14 shows an alternative example of a structural member to that shown in Figures 10 to 13; Figure 15 shows an alternative example of a structural member according to the present disclosure; and

Figure 16 shows a further alternative example of a structural member according to the present disclosure.

Detailed Description

Figure 1 shows a perspective view of structural members for a structural assembly according to the present disclosure. Figure 2 shows a side view of the arrangement of Figure 1. In the example shown, there is a structural member 10 and a further structural member 1 10. Each of the structural member 10 and further structural member 1 10 comprise a first portion (or flange/web) 20, 120, and a second portion (or flange/web) 22, 122. Each structural member 20, 120 may also be provided with a third portion 24, 124, as shown in Figures 1 to 6, and may thus be provided as "I" beams (alternatively known as "H" beams, Universal Beams (UB), or Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ), although also identifiable by other descriptions) with the first and third portions 20, 24, 120, 124 providing the tops and bottom of the "I", and the second portion 22, 122 providing the span between the top and bottom of the "I". The third portion 24 may be identical in most respects to the first portion 20, 120, as shown in Figures 1 to 6. Hence where the first portion 20, 120 is described, this description applies equally well to features of the third portion 24.

In alternative examples the structural member may be provided as a "T" beam with only a first portion 20, 120 and second portion 22, 122.

The structural members herein described may comprise parts of "I" and "T" beams, which may form part of a building or scaffolding, for example. Alternatively, the structural members may be provided as the joining features of other structures, for example the joining features of wall elements of pre-fabricated buildings, parts of self assembly furniture, constructional toys, sports equipment (e.g. goals erected for temporary use and then dismantled for storage), temporary fencing (for example for use as crowd safely measures) and jewellery (e.g. joining the ends of chains together in a secure but removable way).

In the example shown, the first portion 20, 120 of each beam is provided with an engagement (i.e. interlocking) feature 26, 126 and compatible engagement (i.e. interlocking) feature 28, 128. That is to say, the first portion of each structural member comprises compatible engagement features, which are configured to co-operate with, and form an interlocking engagement with, the other structural member. Likewise, where present, the third portion 24 comprises similar engagement features 26, 126 and compatible interlocking engagement features 28, 128.

In the example shown in Figure 1 , the engagement features are provided in a tongue (or tooth) and groove (or slot) type arrangement, with both structural members having a series of tongues/teeth interspaced with a series of grooves/slots configured to engage with compatible tongues/teeth and grooves/slots on the other structural member. As can be seen in Figure 1 , the arrangement of the engagement features on the adjacent structural members is not identical, with one of the structural members having a different number of tongues/teeth, hence a different number of grooves/slots to the other. In a further example, not shown, the first portion of structural member 10 may be provided with a single engagement feature (for example, a single tongue/tooth) provided and configured to be engagable with a single compatible engagement feature (groove/slot) provided on the other structural member 1 10.

The first portion 20, 120 of each structural member extends in a first plane for example in directions indicated by arrows A, B, and the second portion 22, 122 extends away from the first portion 20, 120 in a second plane which extends in the direction of arrows C, D at an angle to the first plane and directions A, B. The third portion 24, 124 may extend in a third plane, which may be parallel to, but offset from, the first plane. The first and third planes may be at right angles or some other angle to the second plane.

Hence each of the first portions 20, 120 are provided with interlocking engagement features 26, 126 engagable in a direction of the second plane with a compatible engagement feature 28, 128 provided on the other first portion 20, 120 of the structural assembly. Put another way, the engagement feature 28 of the structural member 10 is configured to interlock in a direction of the first plane with a compatible engagement feature 128 provided on another structural member 1 10 of the structural assembly. That is to say, the engagement feature 28 of the structural member 10 is configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature 128 provided on another structural member 1 10 of the structural assembly. Thus the compatible engagement features 28, 128 prevent relative movement between the structural members 10, 1 10 in a direction of the first plane (for example in directions A, B).

Each of the tooth members 26, 126 extend away from an end of the structural member 10, 1 10 and are wider at their end distal to the first portion than at their end proximate to the structural member. In one example, the tooth member 26, 126 is tapered such that it increases in width in the direction away from the end of the structural member to which it is attached towards its end distal to the structural member 10, 1 10. Likewise the groove/slots 28, 128 in which they fit may be tapered. The tooth members 26, 126, although tapered, may have flat sides, which all extend in a direction parallel to directions C, D. As shown in Figures 1 , 2, the distal ends of the teeth and slots may be angled relative to directions C, D such that, when assembled, they overlap. Each of the second portions 22, 122 on the structural members 10, 120 is provided with a seating feature 30, 130 engageable with a compatible seating feature 30, 130 provided on the other structural member 10, 120. That is to say, each of the second portions 22, 122 is provided with a seating feature 30, 130 engagable in a direction of the second plane, as described below, with a compatible seating feature 30, 130 provided on the other second portion 22, 122. Hence one of the seating features 30, 130 is rested on by the other seating feature 30, 130 such that one of the structural members 10, 1 10 can rest upon the other structural member 10, 1 10. In the example shown seating feature 130 rests on the seating feature 30 such that the structural member 1 10 can rest upon structural member 10. Thus the seating features 30, 130 prevent the interlocking engagement features 26, 126; 28, 128 from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction C, D of the second plane. Put another way, the seating features 30, 130 prevent the interlocking engagement features 28, 128 from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane. The seating feature 30, 130 of one of the structural members 10, 1 10 may comprise a seating land 32, 132, which seats a compatible seating land 32, 132 on the other structural member 10, 1 10.

The seating feature 30, 130 on the second portions of one of the structural members may comprise a series of stepped seating lands 32, 132, as shown in Figures 1 and 2, and Figures 3 to 9, which seat, or are seated on, a compatible series of stepped seating lands 32, 132 on the second portion of the other structural member. Put another way, the seating land 32, 132 may be provided on a step, the step extending in a direction C, D of the second plane, and the step being offset from the first plane A, B.

As shown in Figures 1 , 2, the series of stepped lands may be provided in a saw tooth like configuration, with the lands being angled relative to a direction of the first plane. Alternatively, the lands may be provided as shown in Figures 3 to 9, in which the lands 32, 132 are parallel with the direction A, B of the first plane.

In the example of Figures 1 , 2, the teeth and slots may be provided with angled ends, the teeth and slots being angled to be compatible with each other. Hence, during assembly, the structural members may be drawn together in direction A, B of the first plane while they are slid together in the direction C, D of the second plane. Put another way, with one of the structural members 10 fixed, the other member 1 10 would slide into engagement moving in direction C of the second plane, whilst also moving in a direction A of the first plane. Thus the relative movement is at an angle to the direction C, D of the second plane, whilst having a directional component in the directions A, B and the directions C, D.

In the example of Figures 3 to 9, the structural members have a different number of teeth 26, 126 and slots 28, 128 to that shown in Figures 1 , 2. Additionally the tooth members 26, 126, although tapered, have flat sides and ends, which all extend in a direction parallel to directions C, D.

In the example of Figures 1 , 2 the ends of the third portions 24, 124 of the structural members 10, 1 10 are substantially aligned in the directions C, D of the second plane with the ends of the first portions 20, 120 respectively. Conversely, the ends of the third portions 24, 124 and the ends of the first portions 20, 120 of the structural members of the examples of Figure 3 to 9 are offset from one another in the direction A, B of the first plane.

As shown in Figure 2, the second portion 22, 122 of each structural member comprises a locking feature 40, 140 configured to prevent the interlocking features 26, 126; 28, 128 of the structural members 10, 1 10 from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in the direction C, D of the second plane. The locking feature 40 comprises a locking slot 42, 142 in the edge of the second portion 22, 122 for receiving a locking element 44, which extends between the structural member locking slots 42, 142 in the structural members 10, 1 10.

However, as shown in Figure 7, no locking feature may be provided. Alternatively, as shown in Figure 8, one locking feature (i.e. one set of slots 40, 140 and locking element 44) may be provided. In further alternative examples, as shown in Figures 2, 9, two or more sets of slots 40, 140 and locking elements 44 may be provided.

As shown in Figures 2, 8, 9, 1 1 , 13 the locking slots 42, 142 may be provided between the seating lands 32, 132. That is to say, the locking slots 42, 142 may be offset from the seating lands 32, 132 in the direction C, D of the second plane.

As shown in Figures 2, 8, 9, 1 1 the locking element may be a four sided polygonal cross section, with a width of no more than the sum of the depths of the locking slots, 42, 142.

Alternatively, as shown in Figure 13, the locking element may have a cross shaped cross section with a width greater than the sum of the depths of the locking slots 42, 142. The process by which the members 10, 1 10 of the examples of Figure 3 to 9 are assembled and disassembled is substantially the same as that described in relation to the examples of Figures 1 , 2. In the examples shown in Figures 3 to 6 the structural member 1 10 may be provided as a girder type arrangement, whereas structural member 10 may be a vertical upright with engagement features provided at one end for engagement with the other structural member 1 10. Hence a structural member 1 10 may be first aligned with the engagement features of the structural member 10 as shown in Figure 3. The structural member 1 10 is then brought into engagement with the engagement features of structural member 10 and slid relative to it in direction C of the second plane in Figures 4 to 6. In Figure 6 the seating features 32, 132 have been brought into engagement with one another, and the engagement features 26, 126; 28, 128 are fully engaged and cannot move relative to one another in directions C, D in which they are engaged or away from each other in the direction A, B of the first plane.

In examples where the locking features 40, 140 and locking elements 44 are provided, once the structural members 10, 1 10 are seated as shown in Figure 6, the locking element 44 is then introduced into the locking slots 42, 142 of the structural members 10, 1 10 such that the structural members 10, 1 10 are also prevented from moving apart from one another in a direction opposite to the direction in which they were engaged. Disassembly is a reverse of the assembly, with the removal of the locking element 44, and then moving the structural members 10, 1 10 relative to one another in a direction of the second plane to disengage the engagement features and unseat the seating features until the structural members 10, 1 10 are free of one another. In a further example, as illustrated best by Figures 10 to 13, the engagement features of the two structural members may be provided in an alternative configuration. Common features of the examples of Figures 1 to 9 and Figures 10 to 13 share the same reference numerals.

Figures 10, 12 show a plan view of structural assembly comprising a structural member 210 and a further structural member 310. That is to say, Figures 10, 12 show a plan view of the first portion 220 of the first structural member 210 and the first portion 320 of a second/further structural member 310. As set out above, there may also be provided a third portion, as described with reference to Figure 1 , having the same features as shown in Figures 10, 12. Figures 1 1 , 13 show a cross-sectional view through the plan views of Figure 10, 12 through lines E-E. The details of the second portions 222, 322 are the same as those previously described for second portions 22, 122 of examples 1 to 6. They are shown as a right-angled, stepped arrangement in Figures 10, 1 1. However, the steps may have sides/faces angled relative to one another, for example akin to the saw tooth like stepped arrangement shown in Figures 1 ,2. Alternatively the side/faces of the steps may be angled relative to the directions of the first and/or second plane. Locking slots 42, 142 and locking elements 44 may be incorporated into this example. As shown in Figure 7, no locking feature may be provided. Alternatively, as shown in Figures 8, 1 1 one locking feature (i.e. one set of slots 40, 140 and locking element 44) may be provided. In further alternative examples, as shown in Figure 9, two or more sets of slots 40, 140 and locking elements 44 may be provided. As shown in Figure 13, the locking element may have a cross-shaped cross section, with a width greater than the sum of the depths of the locking slots 42, 142.

As with the previous examples, the structural member engagement features of the examples of Figure 10 to 13 comprise a tooth member 226 for lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with a compatible slot 328 provided on the other structural member 310. Hence, to make a compatible pair, one of the first portions 210, 310 comprises teeth 226. The other defines slots 328 for engagement with the teeth 226. That is to say the structural engagement feature comprises a slot 328 on one structural member 210 for lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with the tooth 226 provided on the other structural member 310. However, unlike the examples of Figures 1 to 6, the tooth member 226 extends from a side of the structural member 210. That is to say, the tooth member 226 extends laterally from a side of the first portion 220 of the structural member 210. In the example shown, a plurality of tooth members 226 are provided in series at one end of the structural member 210. Put another way, a plurality of tooth members 226 are provided in series along an edge of the first portion 220 of the structural member 210. Each tooth member 226 extends outwards from the edge of the first portion 220 to a different extent than the other tooth members 226 in the series. The extent to which each tooth 226 in the series extends outwards decreases along the series towards the end of the first portion 220 of the structural member 210. The teeth 226 may each be of the same height as one another, or may have different heights.

As can be seen in Figures 10, 12 the first portion 220 comprises a section of reduced width from which teeth 226 extend. That is to say, the tooth member 226 extends away from a reduced width section 240 of the first portion 220 of the structural member 210. The reduced width section 240 may be provided as a stepped region as shown in Figures 10, 12. A series of reduced width sections 240a, b, c of the first portion 220 of the structural member 210 may be provided, such that the first portion 220 reduces in width with each step 240a, b, c of the series. In such an example, tooth members 226 extend away from the series of reduced width sections 240a, b,c. Each tooth member 226 may extend away from a different reduced width section 240a, b,c.

In the other structural member, a plurality of slots 328 are provided in series. The structural member 320 comprises a cavity 400, the plurality of slots 328 being provided along the length of the cavity 400. The positioning and location of the slots 328 in the cavity 400, and the shape of the cavity 400 itself, are configured and compatible with, for receiving, and lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with, the compatible teeth 226 of the other structural member 210. That is to say, the cavity 400 is shaped to accommodate the shaped portion 220 of the other structural member 210.

Hence the cavity 400 may comprise steps 340a, b, c along its length such that it decreases in height (width) along its length to have a shape compatible for receiving the stepped profile 240a, b,c of the first portion 220 of the other structural member 210. Each slot 328 may extend from a different cavity step 340a, b,c. However in the example shown, at least two slots 328 are shown extending from each cavity step 340a, b,c. The distance between each of the pair of slots 328 is the same on each step 340a, b,c. That is to say, the slots 328 on each cavity step 340a, b,c are spaced apart by the same amount as the slots on the other cavity steps 340a, b,c in the series.

In further examples, three or more slots 328 may be provided on the same step 340. In such an example, the series of slots 328 on each cavity step 340a, b,c are spaced apart by the same amount as the series of slots 328 on the other cavity steps 340a, b,c in the series. Hence the first portion 220 of the member 210 may take up a first position in the first portion 320 of the other structural member as shown in Figure 10 with the teeth 226 engaged in one of the slots 328 for receiving said tooth. In Figure 10 this is shown as the left most slot on each of the cavity steps 340. Alternatively, the teeth 226 may occupy the other of the pair of slots (shown as the right most slot 328 on each of the cavity steps 340) as shown in Figure 12. This may mean that the seating features 30, 130 of this example are not completely engaged, as shown in Figure 13, however the seating lands 32, 132 are provided with sufficient length such that they are in contact with each other in this configuration. Additionally the cross shaped locking element 44 is provided with side extending portions 330 which are sized to extend into locking slots 42, 142 and additional spacer portions 332, which sit between the seating lands 32 of the structural members 210, 310. Examples where more than one slot 328 is provided per step 340, and in which the slots 328 on each step 340 are equally spaced, allows for extra tolerance in the build of the members 210, 310, so that the structural members 210, 310 may be spaced apart by a first distance (as illustrated in Figures 12, 13), or spaced apart by a second distance less than the first distance (as shown in Figures 10, 1 1 ). This allows for a more flexible building arrangement.

In operation, the assembly may be as previously described, with the structural members 210, 310 being slid together and then locked together as illustrated with the examples of Figures 3 to 6. However, the example of Figures 10 to 13 provides the extra variant of being able to alter the distance between the structural member 210 and structural member 310.

Either of compatible structural members 10, 1 10, or structural members 210, 310, may be provided as part of a first element of a structure, the other compatible member may be provided as part of another element of the structure. For example, the "male" toothed structural member 210 of Figures 10, 13 may be provided on a girder or an upright support, with the other of the girder or upright support provided with the "female" cavity feature of the other structural member 310. A further example is shown in Figure 14, similar to that of Figures 10, 1 1 . Common features of the examples of Figures 1 to 9, Figures 10 to 13 and Figure 14 share the same reference numerals.

Figure 14 shows a plan view of structural assembly comprising a structural member 410 and a further structural member 510. That is to say, Figure 14 shows a plan view of the first portion 420 of the first structural member 410 and the first portion 520 of a second/further structural member 510. As set out above, there may also be provided a third portion 424, 524, as described with reference to Figure 1 , having the same features as shown in Figure 14. A second portion 422, 522 is shown as a dotted line. The details of the second portions 422, 522 may be the same as those previously described in the previous examples.

As with the previous examples, the engagement features of the structural member 410 of the example of Figure 14 comprises a tooth member 426 for lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with a compatible slot 528 provided on the other structural member 510. Hence, to make a compatible pair, one of the first portions 410, 510 comprises teeth 426, the other defines slots 528 for engagement with the teeth 426. That is to say the structural engagement feature comprises a slot 528 on one structural member 510 for lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with the tooth 426 provided on the other structural member 410.

Similar to the examples of Figure 10, 12, the tooth member 426 extends from a side of the structural member 410. That is to say, the tooth member 426 extends laterally from a side of the first portion 420 of the structural member 410. In the example shown, a plurality of tooth members 426 are provided in series at one end of the structural member 410. Put another way, a plurality of tooth members 426 are provided in series along an edge of the first portion 420 of the structural member 410. Each tooth member 426 extends outwards from the edge of the first portion 420 to a different extent than the other tooth members 426 in the series. The extent to which each tooth 426 in the series extends outwards decreases along the series towards the end of the first portion 420 of the structural member 410. The teeth 426 may each be of the same height as one another, or may have different heights.

The first portion 420 comprises a section of reduced width from which teeth 426 extend. That is to say, the tooth member 426 extends away from a reduced width section 440 of the first portion 420 of the structural member 410. The reduced width section 440 may be provided as a stepped region. A series of reduced width sections 440a, b, c, d of the first portion 420 of the structural member 410 may be provided, such that the first portion 420 reduces in width with each step 440a, b, c, d of the series. In such an example, tooth members 426 extend away from the series of reduced width sections 440a,b,c,d. Each tooth member 426 may extend away from a different reduced width section 440a,b,c,d.

In the other structural member, a plurality of slots 528 are provided in series. The first portion 520 of the structural member 520 comprises two cavities 600, the plurality of slots 528 being provided along the length of each of the cavities 600. The positioning and location of the slots 528 in the cavities 600, and the shape of the cavities 600 themselves, are configured and compatible with, for receiving, and lockable (i.e. interlocking) engagement with, the compatible teeth 426 of the other structural member 410. That is to say, the cavities 600 are shaped to accommodate the shaped first portion 420 of the other structural member 410.

Hence the cavity 600 may comprise steps 540a, b, c, d along its length such that it decreases in height (width) along its length to have a shape compatible for receiving the stepped profile 440a,b,c,d of the first portion 420 of the other structural member 410. Each slot 528 may extend from a different cavity step 540a,b,c,d.

The first structural member 410 and second structural member 510 may be engaged and disengaged in the same way as the structural members of the previous examples.

Hence there is provided a connection system to link members, the ends of the members being shaped to form three-dimensional geometric arrangements that can mesh together and then connect simply by moving one member relative to another member, thereby meshing them together. Optionally they may also be secured with a locking element. The connection can be easily disassembled by removing the locking element and then sliding the connecting members out one at a time.

Hence the connection advantageously requires only two steps: a) one meshing step, and b) one locking step. These steps are the same regardless of connection size, geometry, orientation, or material used. The connection can be disassembled in two steps: a) one unlocking step, and b) one un-meshing step. These steps are the same irrespective of connection size, geometry, orientation, or material. For both assembly and disassembly, the steps are straightforward and fast to execute.

Due to its nature, the connection means of the present invention does not require the addition of new components or materials such as bolts, welds, rivets or end plates. Apart from the precisely cut surfaces, the only addition is the locking element.

Put another way, the system of the present disclosure provides a robust, secure, scalable, and dismountable connection applicable for structural and non-structural members of various sizes, geometries, and materials without screwing, bolting, riveting or welding. The system can be used for a range of sizes and materials when connecting to similar and dissimilar materials for members that are open (e.g. I-beams, channels, and angles) and/or closed (e.g. pipes and tubes). An example of this is shown in Figures 15, 16.

As shown in Figure 15 there is provided a hollow structural member 710 (e.g. tube/pipe) for a structural assembly. The hollow structural member 710 comprises a first portion 720 which extends in a first plane (as indicated by arrows A, B), and a second portion 722 which extends away from the first portion 720 and which extends in a second plane (as indicated by arrows C, D) at an angle to the first plane. The assembly also comprises a further hollow structural member 810 (e.g. tube/pipe) comprising a first portion 820 which extends in a first plane (as indicated by arrows A, B), and a second portion 822 which extends away from the first portion 820 and which extends in a second plane (as indicated by arrows C, D) at an angle to the first plane. Each of the first portions 720, 820 are provided with interlocking engagement features 726, 826 (tooth members) engagable in a direction of the second plane with a compatible engagement feature 728, 828 (grooves, slots) provided on the other first portion 720, 820 of the structural assembly. That is to say, the first portion 720 is provided with an engagement feature 728 configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature 828 provided on a further hollow member 810 of the structural assembly. Put another way, the engagement feature 728 of the structural member 710 is configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature 828 provided on another structural member 810 of the structural assembly. Thus the compatible engagement features 728, 828 prevent relative movement between the structural members 710, 810 in a direction of the first plane (for example in directions A, B).

As in the preceding examples, each of the tooth members 726, 826 extend away from an end of the structural member 710, 810 and are wider at their end distal to the first portion than at their end proximate to the structural member. Hence the tooth members 726, 826 are tapered such that they increase in width in the direction away from the end of the structural member to which they are attached towards its end distal to the structural member 710, 810. Likewise the groove/slots 728, 828 in which they fit may be tapered. The tooth members 726, 826, although tapered, may have flat sides, which all extend in a direction parallel to directions C, D.

Each of the second portions 722, 822 on the structural members 710, 810 is provided with a seating feature 730, 830 engageable with a compatible seating feature 730, 830 provided on the other structural member 710, 820. That is to say, each of the second portions 722, 822 are provided with a seating feature 730, 830 engagable in a direction of the second plane with a compatible seating feature 730, 830 provided on the other second portion 722, 822. Hence one of the seating features 730, 830 is rested on by the other seating feature 730, 830 such that one of the structural members 710, 810 can rest upon the other structural member 710, 810. In the example shown seating feature 830 rests on the seating feature 730 such that the structural member 810 can rest upon structural member 710. Thus the seating features 730, 830 prevent the interlocking engagement features 726, 826; 728, 828 from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction C, D of the second plane. Put another way, the seating features 730, 830 prevent the interlocking engagement features 728, 828 from becoming disengaged by moving past each other in a direction of the second plane.

In the example shown, the seating feature 730, 830 of one of the structural members 710, 810 comprises a seating land 732, 832, which seats a compatible seating land 732, 832 on the other structural member 710, 810, akin to, and having the same function and characteristics as in the preceding examples.

As shown in Figure 16 there is provided a hollow structural member 710 (e.g. tube/pipe) and a further hollow structural member 810 (e.g. tube/pipe) akin to that shown in Figure 15. This is identical to that shown in Figure 15 except the interlocking engagement features 726, 826 are provided as a lock plate/key 926 which fits in compatible slots in each hollow structural member to lock them together. That is to say, in the example of Figure 16, the first portion 820 the structural member 810 is provided with an engagement feature 828 (slot) configured to interlock with a compatible engagement feature 926 (key/plate) provided on the further hollow member 810 of the structural assembly by virtue of being engaged with a slot 728 on the other hollow member 710. Put another way, the engagement feature 728 of the structural member 710 is in interlocking relationship with the compatible engagement feature 828 provided on another structural member 810 of the structural assembly via the key/plate 926. Thus the compatible engagement features 728, 828, 926 prevent relative movement between the structural members 710, 810 in a direction of the first plane (for example in directions A, B). The sides of the lock plate 926 and slots 728, 828 may be tapered so that when the lock plate 926 is put in place, it will be wedged in position. The lock plate 926 may be held in place with a fixing element 928, for example pins or straps which secure/anchor the lock plate in place.

The invention of the present disclosure is applicable to all load and non-load carrying connections between members such as in building structures, scaffolding, temporary structures, fencing, furniture, toys, sports equipment and jewellery. It may be used with a range of materials (metal, wood, plastic) in a variety of orientations.

Thus the present invention may effectively replace or supplement conventional joining mechanisms (for example weld, bolts, screws, glue).

Attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings) may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment(s). The invention extends to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.