Ceiling panel and support system — Thompson, Eugene W.

Ceiling panel and support system - Thompson, Eugene W.

We claim:

1. A ceiling system for a building comprising: at least two support members that can be curved and that are suspended from a rough ceiling with suspension members; a ceiling panel with upstands along the longitudinal edge of said panel; and a plurality of panel locks; wherein said panel locks couple said ceiling panel to said support member and said ceiling panel follows the shape of said support member.

2. The ceiling system of claim 1 wherein said support member is made from a single extrusion of metal.

3. The ceiling system of claim 2 wherein said metal is aluminum.

4. The ceiling system of claim 2 wherein said support member can be curved to a radius of at least one foot.

5. The ceiling system of claim 1 wherein said ceiling panel is flat and can be flexed to a radius of at least three feet.

6. The ceiling system of claim 1 wherein said ceiling panel is made of metal.

7. The ceiling system of claim 6 wherein said metal is aluminum.

8. The ceiling system of claim 6 wherein said ceiling panel has a thickness of about 0.020 to 0.050 inches, and said upstand has a height of about. 100 to. 600 inches.

9. The ceiling system of claim 1 wherein said support member has a panel lock channel that captures said panel lock.

10. The ceiling system of claim 9 wherein said panel locks comprise a continuous strip.

11. The ceiling system of claim 1 further including an installation tool that couples to said support member.

12. The installation tool of claim 11 that supports said ceiling panel prior to coupling to said support member.

13. The ceiling system of claim 1 further including a wall treatment comprising: a wall treatment support and a wall edge trim, wherein said wall edge trim couples to a support member fixedly attached to a wall, and said wall treatment support couples to said wall edge trim and supports a ceiling panel, said wall treatment support can be adjusted relative to said wall edge trim to mask irregularities on the surface of said wall.

14. The ceiling system of claim 1 further including a cross brace positioned between said support members.

15. An installation tool for use in assembling a ceiling panel to a support beam comprising; a support bar having a first end portion and a second end portion; a first support bracket assembly connected with the first end portion, the first support bracket assembly including a first brace and a first blade; and a second support bracket assembly connected with the second end portion, the second support bracket assembly including a second brace and a second blade.

16. The installation tool of claim 15 wherein the first brace defines at least one strike plate and the second brace defines at least one second strike plate, and further comprising: a first separator rotatably connected with the first end portion of the support bar, the first separator defining a finger portion adapted to engage the at least one strike plate of the first brace to bias the first brace away from the first blade; and a second separator rotatably connected with the second end portion of the support bar, the second separator defining a second finger portion adapted to engage the at least one strike second strike plate of the second brace to bias the second brace away from the second blade.

Description:

[0001] CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0002] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/269141, filed Feb. 15, 2001 (the ‘141 application) and U.S. Provisional Application No. ______, filed Feb. 14, 2002 (the ‘_______application). The application filed Feb. 14, 2002 corresponds to Dorsey & Whitney Docket No. 10030US.01. The ‘141 application and the ‘______application are both hereby incorporated by reference as though fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] a. Field of the Invention

[0004] The present invention relates to the field of curved ceilings and support systems for curved ceilings. In particular, the present invention relates to a support system that may be pre-curved or curved at a job site and to panels fabricated from metal or other materials that are suspended by the support system and that obscure the support system.

[0005] b. Background Art

[0006] Metal ceilings are known in the art. There are two types of metal ceilings: a linear ceiling and a tile ceiling. A typical linear ceiling is formed at the job site into long, longitudinally-extending panels with no predetermined length, and hung with perpendicular supports coupled to the back of the panels. A typical tile ceiling is made of ceiling tiles of a predetermined size manufactured off of the job site and suspended by a T-grid suspension system. The T-grid system is first suspended from the rough ceiling and then the ceiling tile is mounted to the grid. Typically there will be both longitudinal and latitudinal supports. This support grid is necessary to suspend the panels.

[0007] When using metal ceilings, it is preferable to have upstands positioned at the interface of the panels to hide any supporting grid work. This is usually more of an issue with tile panels than with linear ceilings, because the tile panel uses a support grid, whereas the longitudinal panel has perpendicular supports suspending the panel. The upstands are shaped and subsequently positioned in a manner that substantially hides the grid support system. Hiding the grid is one method of hanging a metal ceiling panel.

[0008] The tile ceiling system with upstands that hide the support system requires that both the T-grid support and the panel be curved at the factory prior to shipping to the job site. Shipping this type of panel can be difficult and expensive. The curve of the panel must be supported, and much air is shipped. To alleviate this problem with a curved T-grid support system, an alternate ceiling panel system is available. This ceiling panel system uses a flat piece of metal with no upstands on its edges. This metal panel does not hide the T-grid, but instead is supported by the up face of the “T” of the T-grid support. The metal panel can be shipped flat to the job site and takes the curve of the T-grid support, which still must be curved off of the job site at a manufacturing facility. Since the T-grid is not hidden by this system, this ceiling is not as aesthetically pleasing as the ceiling with upstands that hide the support system.

[0009] The T-grid support used to support known metal tile ceilings is comprised of four independent pieces of metal roll formed together to create a single piece. Because of the complexity of curving an individual piece of metal created from four pieces of metal, any curving has to be done off site.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The above discussed and other problems with the prior art are addressed by the ceiling panels and ceiling support system of the present invention. The ceiling system of the present invention includes a ceiling support system, a ceiling panel, and a panel locking device that holds the ceiling panel to the ceiling support system. The ceiling panel has at least a longitudinal three-dimensional edge and may include three-dimensional edges perpendicular to the longitudinal edge. The ceiling panel remains flat until placed onto a curved longitudinal support. The ceiling support system can be curved at the job site with a radius ranging from one foot to flat, and more preferably from four feet to flat, and most preferably from about eight feet to flat. The panel locking device holds the adjoining ceiling panels to the ceiling support system.

[0011] The ceiling panel is preferably made from a sheet of metal with longitudinally extending, upstanding edges. The upstanding edges provide both structural support and aesthetics. By using an upstanding edge, the panel can be coupled to the support system in a manner that hides the support system, thus providing a more aesthetically pleasing ceiling. An important element of a metal ceiling panel is the ratio of the height of the upstanding edge to the thickness of the sheet metal for the type of metal being used. This ratio determines if a flat panel with upstanding edges will follow the curve of a curved support system. In one embodiment this ratio is, for a 1063 T5 Aluminum sheet metal, 0.400 inches upstand height to 0.032 inches sheet metal thickness. For other types of metals and thicknesses the ratio may be different. Generally, the panel has an edge that can be coupled to the support system to hide the support system and will first lay flat, and then follow the curve of the longitudinal supports.

[0012] The upstand has two basic shapes, though many other shapes could be used. One of the two shapes is a C-shape in which the upstand is created by an outwardly facing ninety degree turns to create essentially a C-shape at the edge of the panel. The other shape is a Z-shape in which the upstand is created by an outwardly facing ninety degree angle to create a Z-shape at the edge of the panel, with the Z being formed with ninety degree angles. Essentially the C-shape creates an upstand with a flange directed inwardly toward the panel and the Z-shape creates and upstand with a flange directed outwardly from the panel.

[0013] The support system in the present invention is a unique design. In the present embodiment the support member is a robust extruded aluminum rail having a shape resembling a T or I. The design includes a longitudinally extending slot at the bottom of the T that allows for the capture of a panel lock clip that locks in the upstand of the panel. Once locked into place the panel cannot move. The T of the support member flanges out in both directions from the center leg of the T. Small hooks then, basically, curl back toward the T to help support or capture the upstand. The shape of the T-support member may be different if a C-shaped flange or upstand is formed on the ceiling panel instead of a Z-shaped flange or upstand.

[0014] Being made of a single extrusion, the support member can be easily shaped in the field with the proper tool. The radius of the curve can change over length or remain the same. Multiple curves can be added to a support member, and the curve from one longitudinal support member to the next adjacent longitudinal support member can change a small amount and on and on. This change creates a dome like appearance for the ceiling when the ceiling tile is ultimately applied. A typical curve would be about an eight-foot radius to flat. Support members with curves having radii as small as three feet have been shaped. It is conceivable that a support member could be shaped to a curve with a radius of one foot. It should be noted that the support member may comprise multiple smaller segments rather than a single segment where ease of storage, shipping, or assembly so dictate.

[0015] Panel locks couple the ceiling panel to the support member. These may include a support lock that slides into a channel or channels extruded into the support member and are captured by the support member. The locks may then place the upstand of the panel into contact with the hooks of the support member, thus securing the panel. The panel locks may be an integral portion of the panel itself, such as a groove or extrusion, a separate lock, button, or clip, or may simply be the unadorned panel edge capable of interlocking with the aforementioned support members.

[0016] The C-panel lock or clip is either spring operated in one embodiment or alternatively screw driver operated in a second embodiment. Each system will be discussed in more detail below. The Z-panel clip or lock may be spring loaded.

[0017] The invention also involves an installation tool for use in assembling a ceiling panel to a support beam. The installation tools includes a support bar having a first end portion and a second end portion. A first support bracket assembly is connected with the first end portion and a second support bracket assembly is connected with the second end portion. Each support bracket assembly includes a brace and a blade. Each support bracket assemblies may also include a first separator rotatably connected with each end portion of the support bar. The separator defines a finger portion adapted to engage a strike plate on the brace to bias the first brace away from the first blade. The installation tool may be suspended between two support beams. In one embodiment, the support bracket assemblies are each secured to a support beam. When suspended, the support bar portion of the installation tool extends between and below the two support beams to provide a support upon which a panel may be rested to assist an installer in the installation of the panel.

[0018] A unique method of supporting the panel for installation also exists. This support tool provides for an installation support to be positioned under the panel and coupled to the support beams. When two installation supports are in place, the flat panel can be slid into place by a single person and then subsequently coupled to the support beams, again by a single person or installer. This feature allows installation of a curved or flat metal ceiling panel by a single person.

[0019] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following specification progresses, reference being had to the accompanying drawings for an illustration of one example of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the curved ceiling system of the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 2 depicts a curved support beam section forming a concave arc depicting a possible notch and hole configuration;

[0022] FIG. 3 is an enlarged, detailed view of the end portion of the curved support beam section depicted in FIG. 2 and labeled with the number 3;

[0023] FIG. 4 is an enlarged, detailed view showing a mid portion of the curved support beam depicted in FIG. 2 ;

[0024] FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a clip-in beam joiner that may be used to connect abutting support beam sections like the one depicted in FIG. 2 ;

[0025] FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken through the center support of the clip-in beam joiner depicted in FIG. 5. the cross section taken along line 6-6;

[0026] FIG. 7 is a top planed view of the clip-in beam joiner depicted in FIGS. 5 and 6, showing the lazy H-shaped cross section;

[0027] FIG. 8 is a metal beam joiner that may be used as a substitute for the clip-in beam joiner depicted in FIGS. 5 — 7 ;

[0028] FIG. 9 is an isometric view of a metal beam joiner that is being positioned to join to support beam sections in an end-to-end abutting relationship;

[0029] FIG. 10 is similar to FIG. 9. but shows that the metal beam joiner has been fully installed by folding the punched tabs inwardly toward the main webs of the adjacent support beam sections;

[0030] FIG. 11 is an exploded, isometric view of an optional cross brace that may be temporarily or permanently used to maintain the relative position of a first support beam section to an adjacent, parallel support beam section;

[0031] FIG. 12 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of one end of the cross brace depicted in FIG. 11. showing in more detail the notching of the cross brace;

[0032] FIG. 13 is a fragmentary planed view looking downwardly on a C-panel having inwardly-directed ledges for returns along the long edges of the panel;

[0033] FIG. 14 is a view taken along line 14 — 14 of FIG. 13. depicting an end view of a panel short edge;

[0034] FIG. 15 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the C-panel portion within the dashed circle numeral 15 of FIG. 14. depicting a C-panel upstand;

[0035] FIG. 16 is a schematic, fragmentary, isometric view of the C-panel depicted in FIGS. 13 — 15 ;

[0036] FIG. 17 is an isometric view of an asymmetric panel lock button that may be installed in the field;

[0037] FIG. 18 is a cross sectional view taken along line 18 — 18 of FIG. 17 and clearly depicting the screw driver slot;

[0038] FIG. 19 is an isometric view similar to FIG. 17 but depicting an asymmetric panel lock button that is installed in a support beam before the support beam is transported to the installation site;

[0039] FIG. 20 is a cross sectional view taken along line 20 — 20 of FIG. 19 and clearly depicting the screw driver slot;

[0040] FIG. 21 is an end view of a square head support beam supporting two C-panels with the asymmetric panel lock button of FIGS. 19 and 20 installed and oriented to permit installation or removal of the left and C-panel depicted in FIG. 21 ;

[0041] FIG. 22 is an isometric view looking downwardly at a leaf spring panel lock that may be used as an alternative to the asymmetric panel lock buttons depicted in FIGS. 17 — 20 ;

[0042] FIG. 23 is a fragmentary isometric view looking upwardly at two C-panels that are installed on a square head support beam with a leaf spring panel lock in place;

[0043] FIG. 24 is an end view of the combination depicted in FIG. 23. clearly depicting the staggered nature of the panel locking humps that are also visible in FIGS. 22 and 23 ;

[0044] FIG. 25 depicts a spline panel lock being used in combination with a square head support beam to keep two C-panels in their mounted configuration;

[0045] FIG. 26 is an isometric view looking downwardly at the spline panel lock depicted in FIG. 25 ;

[0046] FIG. 27 is an end view of a threaded groove support beam that may be used to mount two C-panels and depicts the hex set locking screw just prior to installation in the lower portion of the threaded groove support beam to lock the panels in position;

[0047] FIG. 28 is an enlarged isometric view of the hex set locking screw depicted in FIG. 27 ;

[0048] FIG. 29 depicts a top-down view of a Z-panel in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

[0049] FIG. 30 depicts a cross-sectional view taken along line H-H of the Z-panel of FIG. 29 .

[0050] FIG. 31 depicts an expanded view of the panel long edge as shown in FIG. 30 .

[0051] FIG. 32 depicts an isometric view of the Z-panel of FIGS. 29 — 31. more clearly displaying the outwardly-directed ledge and Z-panel upstand running along the first and second panel long edges.

[0052] FIG. 33 depicts a cross-sectional view of a Z-panel support beam and an installed Z-panel.

[0053] FIG. 34 depicts an isometric view of a panel locking strip.

[0054] FIG. 35 depicts a top-down view of a C-panel with altered first and second panel short edges.

[0055] FIG. 36 depicts a cross-sectional view taken along line I-I of the wall-flange C panel of FIG. 35 .

[0056] FIG. 37 depicts a detail view of the notch of the wall-flange C panel shown in FIGS. 35 and 36 .

[0057] FIG. 38 depicts a cross-sectional side view taken along line K-K of FIG. 35. showing the flange end form in greater detail.

[0058] FIG. 39 depicts a detailed view of the wall end form taken along line J-J of FIG. 35 .

[0059] FIG. 40 depicts an isometric view of the wall-flange C panel.

[0060] FIG. 41 depicts a cross-sectional side view of two installed wall-flange C panels resting on a support beam, taken along the panel long edge.

[0061] FIG. 42 depicts a top-down view of a wall-flange Z panel.

[0062] FIG. 43 depicts a front view along the long axis of the wall-flange Z panel of FIG. 42 .

[0063] FIG. 44 depicts a detail view of the Z-panel upstand of the wall-flange Z panel shown in FIGS. 42 and 43 .

[0064] FIG. 45 depicts a detail view of the wall end form of the wall-flange Z panel shown in FIG. 42 .

[0065] FIG. 46 depicts a detail view of the flange end form of the wall-flange Z panel shown in FIG. 42 .

[0066] FIG. 47 depicts an isometric view of the wall-flange Z panel.

[0067] FIG. 48 depicts one embodiment of a wall treatment for a C-shaped ceiling panel.

[0068] FIG. 49 depicts a three-quarter view of an installed wall treatment including the adjustable support and wall edge trim.

[0069] FIG. 50 depicts a wall treatment for use with such a partial panel.

[0070] FIG. 51 depicts an interval upstand extending from a ceiling panel.

[0071] FIG. 52 depicts an isometric view of the wall treatment of FIG. 50 showing the hanger ledge and the interval upstand in their installed positions.

[0072] FIG. 53 depicts yet another embodiment of a wall treatment for use with a partial panel.

[0073] FIG. 54 depicts an isometric view of the wall treatment shown in FIG. 53 .

[0074] FIG. 55 depicts a cross-sectional view of a floating beam corner capable of hiding a floating ceiling edge created by a partial panel.

[0075] FIG. 56 depicts an isometric view of the floating beam corner of FIG. 55 .

[0076] FIG. 57 depicts floating beam corner capable of hiding a floating ceiling edge created by a full C-panel.

[0077] FIG. 58 depicts a panel splice.

[0078] FIG. 59 depicts the panel splice of FIG. 58 being used as a long edge end treatment.

[0079] FIG. 60 depicts a cross-sectional view taken along the long axis of a pair of C-panels showing the panel splice of FIG. 58 mating two panels along their respective short edges.

[0080] FIG. 61 depicts a floating wall treatment for a ceiling panel short edge.

[0081] FIG. 62 depicts a cross-section of the short edge floating wall treatment of FIG. 61 affixed to a C-panel.

[0082] FIG. 63 depicts an isometric view of an alternate embodiment of a short edge floating wall treatment in use.

[0083] FIG. 64 depicts a cross-sectional view of the short edge floating wall treatment of FIG. 63 when used adjacent a support beam.

[0084] FIG. 65 is a perspective view of an installation tool according to one embodiment of the invention;

[0085] FIG. 66 is an exploded perspective view of the installation tool illustrated in FIG. 65 ;

[0086] FIG. 67 is a side view of a support bracket assembly of the installation tool according to one embodiment of the invention;

[0087] FIG. 68 is a perspective view of a blade support bracket of the support bracket assembly according to one embodiment of the invention;

[0088] FIG. 69 is a perspective view of a brace support bracket of the support bracket assembly according to one embodiment of the invention;

[0089] FIG. 70 is a perspective view of a separator support bracket of the support bracket assembly according to one embodiment of the invention;

[0090] FIG. 71 is a side view of the installation tool in engagement with a support beam and supporting a panel according to one embodiment of the invention; and

[0091] FIG. 72 is an exploded perspective view of one side of the installation tool with an alternative embodiment of the support bracket assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0092] Referring first to FIG. 1. the ceiling system of the present invention is shown generally at 10. Ceiling system 10 includes a plurality of panels 12 mounted between parallel support beams 14. Each panel has a panel long edge 16 and a panel short edge 18. The support beams are attached to the actual ceiling structure of a room (not shown) by a plurality of strategically placed suspension wires 20. A number of metal beam joiners 22 are depicted in the embodiment of FIG. 1. each metal beam joiner being used to connect two curved support beams positioned in an abutting end-to-end relationship. This technique for joining longitudinally abutting support beams is described further below in connection with FIGS. 8 — 10. Details concerning how the panels are connected to the support beams are provided below.

[0093] FIG. 1 is merely a sample configuration that may be obtained using the present invention. The curvature seen in the support beams 14 and panels 12 of FIG. 1 may be accomplished on the actual job site where the ceiling is being installed.

[0094] In general, the panels 12 depicted in FIG. 1 are shipped flat and only become curved when the panels are installed and thus take on the shape of the support beams 14. Also, the ceiling panels can be transitioned across a ceiling from a curved section to a flat section. As shown in FIG. 1. the support beams are hung by typical ceiling suspension wires 20 that are known in the art. The suspension wires are fixedly attached to the actual ceiling structure of a room on one end and are attached to suspension wire mounting holes (see, e.g. FIG. 9 ) on their opposite ends as described further below.

[0095] As also shown in FIG. 1. the ceiling panels 12 are typically longer than they are wide. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1. the panel short edges 18 extend between adjacent support beams, and the panel long edges 16 extend along a support beam 14. Adjacent panels may be arranged end-to-end as shown in FIG. 1 so that the panel short edge of one panel abuts the panel short edge of an adjacent panel.

[0096] FIG. 2 depicts a curved support beam 14 in the shape of a concave arc. The support beam may be any desired length. For example, the support beam shown in FIG. 2 may be a single twelve foot piece of metal curving to follow a portion of an eight foot radius circle. FIG. 3 is a detailed view of the region encircled at the left hand portion of FIG. 2. Similarly, FIG. 4 is a detailed view of the region encircled at the mid portion of the curved support beam 14 of FIG. 2. As may be seen in each of FIGS. 2 — 4. rectangular holes 24 may be notched at regular or irregular intervals along the support beam. These notches may serve a variety of purposes. For example, as explained below in connection with FIG. 5 — 10. these notches may be used to connect end-to-end abutting support beams. Also, as will be described further in connection with FIGS. 11 and 12. a cross brace, which may optionally be placed between a pair of support beams, locks into a notch at each end of the cross brace. Also visible in FIGS. 2 — 4 are mounting or clearance holes 26. In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 2 — 4. a pair of mounting holes straddles each rectangular hole. As will be described further below, these mounting holes may receive a bolt or screw used to attach a support beam to a wall or other surface.

[0097] Referring next to FIGS. 5 — 7. a clip-in beam joiner 28. which may be used to join or tie together two support beams 14 that are positioned in an end-to-end abutting relationship, is described next. FIG. 5 is an isometric view looking downwardly at the clip-in beam joiner having an H-shaped cross section. FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 6 — 6 of FIG. 5 through the center support web 30 of the clip-in beam joiner. FIG. 7 is an end view which clearly depicts the internal, ramp-shaped barbs 32 or catches comprising part of the clip-in beam joiner. The clip-in beam joiner comprises four plates 34 that extend outwardly from the center support web. The two plates ( 34 a, 34 b ) that extend outwardly away from one side of the center support web define a first gap 36 between them, and a similar second gap 38 is formed between the remaining two plates ( 34 c, 34 d ) that extend outwardly from the opposite side of the center support web.

[0098] The ramp shaped retention barbs 32 depicted to best advantage in FIG. 7 are mounted within these two gaps ( 36. 38 )—two in each gap. Referring most specifically to FIG. 6. each internal barb comprises a plurality of surfaces. For example, each barb comprises a lead in surface 40. a ramp surface 42. a ramp apex 44. a locking ledge 46 ( FIG. 7 ), and a rear surface 48 .

[0099] To install the clip-in beam joiner 28. two support beams 14 would be arranged as depicted in, for example, FIG. 9. The clip-in beam joiner has a height 50 ( FIG. 6 ) that may be accommodated by the main beam web 52 ( FIG. 9 ) of a support beam 14. The clip-in beam joiner is first attached to the main beam web of one support beam by sliding the main beam web into one of the two gaps ( 36. 38 ) defined between the outwardly extending plates 34 of the clip-in beam joiner. Once the clip-in beam joiner is pushed longitudinally along the support beam a sufficient distance, the ramp shaped barb 32 snaps into the rectangular notch 24 or hole closest to the end of that support beam. The clip-in beam joiner is then locked onto the first support beam to be joined. The main beam web 52 of the second support beam to be clipped is then slid into the opposing gap of the clip-in beam joiner until the ramp shaped barbs 32 in this opposite gap snap into the corresponding rectangular notch 24 adjacent to the abutting edge of the second support beam. Once the clip-in beam joiner is properly locked in position, thereby holding the two support beams in abutting end-to-end relationship, the clip-in beam joiner would rest in a position similar to the position of the metal beam joiner 54 depicted in FIG. 10 .

[0100] Referring most particularly to FIGS. 8 — 10. installation of a metal beam joiner 54. which would be used as an alternative to the clip-in beam joiner of FIGS. 5 — 7. is described next. As shown in FIG. 8. the metal beam joiner comprises a pair of punched tabs 56. Before the metal beam joiner is installed to join a pair of support beams 14. the punched tabs extend substantially perpendicularly away from the metal beam joiner main body. During installation of the metal beam joiner, two support beams are again placed in abutting, end-to-end relationship. FIG. 9 shows two support beams just prior to being in such abutting, end-to-end relationship, and the metal beam joiner as depicted in FIG. 9 is exploded away from its installed position.

[0101] Once the two support beams 14 to be joined are slid together as shown in FIG. 10. the metal beam joiner 54 can be installed. Installation of the metal beam joiner requires slipping the punched tabs 56 through appropriate notched holes 24 at the longitudinal ends of the adjacent support beams to be joined. Once the punched tabs are slid through these notched holes, the punched tabs are folded inwardly as depicted by the arrows in FIG. 10. or, alternatively, the punch tabs could be folded outwardly against the main beam web 52. 180 degrees from the folded positions depicted in FIG. 10 .

[0102] Referring most specifically to FIGS. 9 and 10. additional support beam details are described next. FIGS. 9 and 10 depict one possible embodiment for a support beam 14. In this embodiment, working upwardly from the lower portion of the support beam, a panel support portion 58 may first be seen. This panel support portion comprises a series of channels and ledges that are described in greater detail in connection with FIG. 21. The panel support portion is connected to an intermediate wall 60 by the main beam web. It is the main beam web that was just described as having rectangular notches and mounting holes therethrough. The intermediate wall is connected to a beam cap 62 by a suspension web 64. The suspension web has a plurality of suspension wire mounting holes 66 through it. The suspension wires 20 depicted in FIG. 1 extend between these suspension wire mounting holes and the actual ceiling structure (not shown).

[0103] FIGS. 11 and 12 depict a cross brace 68 that may optionally be used in connection with the ceiling system 10 of the invention. These cross braces help, for example, keep the support beams 14 in the correct relative position until ceiling panels 12 have been installed. Following installation of the ceiling panels in the support beams, the cross braces may or may not be removed. The cross brace depicted in FIG. 11 is based upon an existing design. It includes a main body 70. a base 72. and a clip 74 installed at each longitudinal end of the main body. FIG. 12 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of one end of the cross brace and clip. The clip includes a barbed end piece 76. When a cross brace is placed substantially perpendicularly between two adjacent support beams, the barbed end piece at each end of the cross brace locks into one of the rectangular notches 24 in the main beam webs 52 of the adjacent support beams. The notched region 78 of the cross brace main body accommodates any portion of the support beam that might otherwise interfere with proper placement of the cross brace.

[0104] FIGS. 13 — 16 depict a C-panel 80 that may be used in connection with, for example, the support beam 14 depicted in FIGS. 9 and 10. The C-panel includes a sheet portion 82 covering an area defined within panel short edges 18 and panel long edges 16. FIG. 14 is an edge view taken along line 14 — 14 on FIG. 13 and shows the C-panel upstands 84 formed along each panel long edge 16. FIG. 15 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the region encircled by dashed circle 15 in FIG. 14 .

[0105] It may be seen in FIG. 15 that the C-panel upstand 84 comprises an upwardly-directed wall 86 and an inwardly-directed ledge 88 or return. When a panel is formed into a curved configuration like that depicted in FIG. 1. the panel long edges and thus the upstands become curved. When the panel long edges are curved, the C-panel upstand depicted to best advantage in FIGS. 14 and 15 is curved or arched. The ratio of the height of the upwardly-directed wall of the C-panel upstand to the panel thickness, when considered in view of the material from which the C-panel is made, influences how much the C-panel upstands may be curved during attachment of the C-panels to the support beams before undesirable buckling occurs. It is apparent that, if the C-panel were being curved upwardly like the two panels in the left-hand side of FIG. 1 are curved, the upper portion of the upwardly directed wall, adjacent to the inwardly-directed ledge, would be placed in compression and the lower portion of the upwardly-directed wall, adjacent to where it intersects the sheet portion of the C-panel, would be place in tension. Conversely, if the C-panel is curved the opposite way (see, e.g. similar to the right-hand most two panels in FIG. 1 ), the upper portion of the upwardly-directed wall would be placed in tension and the lower portion of the upwardly-directed wall would be placed in tension. At some point, the upwardly-directed wall of the C-panel upstands buckle.

[0106] The following table provides dimensions “A”, “B”, and “G” (See FIG. 15 ) that work satisfactorily when the panel 12 is made from aluminum.


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