Composite panel and method of manufacture

Stock material or miscellaneous articles – Sheet including cover or casing – Including elements cooperating to form cells

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C428S116000, C428S131000, C428S297400, C362S147000, C362S153000, C052S307000, C052S309150, C052S793100

Reexamination Certificate

active

06667089

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a composite panel for use as flooring, partition walls or decorative wall panels. The panel is lightweight but hardwearing and can incorporate colours and lighting devices to provide special effects. The panel is particularly useful in museums, exhibitions etc where it is desirable to provide a versatile medium to construct different layouts with striking visual effects.
It is well known how to produce composite materials to provide a combination of properties, such as high strength and low weight. For example, aircraft cabin floors commonly contain composite panels having a honeycomb material sandwiched between other layers. However, the material is not particularly hardwearing and must therefore be covered by further protective layers in use and accordingly is hidden from view.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a composite panel comprising a layer of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) material, a block of honeycomb material formed of perforated sheet having one side secured to one side of the FRP layer, a backing layer attached to the other side of the honeycomb material and a resin coating on the other side of the FRP layer, wherein the fibre reinforced plastic and the resin coating are at least partially transparent or translucent.
In this way, a strong and versatile panel is provided which can be used to create flooring and walls. Additionally, light can pass through the panel, allowing the honeycomb material to be at least partly visible.
Preferably, the FRP layer forms the base of a tray-shaped structure which further comprises side walls formed of FRP material and depending from the FRP layer so as to define a cavity within which the honeycomb material is located.
Preferably, the honeycomb material is spaced from the side walls of the tray, to allow the escape of air during the curing process from the honeycomb and so that loads applied to the honeycomb material are not transmitted to the side walls of the tray.
Conveniently, the spacing between the honeycomb and the side walls may be covered by fibre reinforced tape.
In a preferred embodiment, the honeycomb material is formed from aluminum and the resin coating may be epoxy, polyester or a mixture of the two.
To provide visual effects, one or more colours or tints may be applied to the fibre reinforced plastic material.
The backing layer attached to the honeycomb may consist of fibre reinforced plastic, or electroluminescent film.
To allow pictures and graphics to be displayed on the panel, an illumination device may be provided in each of a plurality of the cells of the honeycomb material and the LEDs may be secured to the backing material.
The illumination devices may all produce light of the same colour. Alternatively, three different colour illumination devices may be used or tricolour illumination devices, each capable of displaying three different colours, may be used.
The illumination devices may be LED's.
Preferably, the honeycomb material and/or the backing layer protrudes slightly out of the cavity so that in use loads may be applied against the honeycomb material without transmission to the side walls of the tray.
If it is desired to use the panel in an exterior application, a sealing layer may be applied to the side of the backing layer remote from the honeycomb material to seal the panel.
In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a floor made up of a plurality of composite panels of the aforementioned type. Such a floor may be supported on pedestal supports with resilient bearing pads which bear against the backing material and not the side walls of the tray (if present).
In yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a wall made up of a plurality of composite panels of the aforementioned type.
In yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method providing a mould with a mould cavity, lining the base of the mould cavity with fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) material to form an FRP layer, cold curing the fibre reinforced plastic material, covering the FRP layer with adhesive, securing honeycomb material produced from perforated sheet to the FRP layer with the adhesive, the honeycomb material having a backing layer, removing the FRP layer with the attached honeycomb material from the mould cavity, inverting the FRP layer and applying a resin coating to the other side of the FRP layer, wherein the fibre reinforced plastic material and the resin coating are at least partially transparent or translucent.
Preferably, the method also includes the step of lining the sides of the mould cavity with FRP material to form a tray-shaped structure with a base and side walls.
To provide visual effects, the method may include the step of applying one or more colours or tints to the mould before it is lined with the fibre reinforced plastic material.
The backing material applied to the honeycomb may consist of fibre reinforced plastic or an electroluminescent film.
To provide further visual effects, the method may include the step of placing an illumination device in each of a plurality of cells in the honeycomb material.
The method may further comprise the step of applying a sealing layer to the back of the panel to seal it, making it suitable for exterior applications.


REFERENCES:
patent: 4573304 (1986-03-01), Meiyal
patent: 5106668 (1992-04-01), Turner et al.
patent: 5888612 (1999-03-01), Needham et al.
patent: 6348960 (2002-02-01), Etori et al.
patent: 2150168 (1985-06-01), None
patent: 2316651 (1998-03-01), None
UK Patent Office Search report for priority application GB 9907422.1.

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