Patent of the Month:
Innovation in the Construction sector can come in many different forms, ranging from exciting new products through to novel methods for improving key industry processes.
This series of articles from David McWilliams, partner and patent attorney at intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, aims to shed some light on the key innovations that are being successfully patented in the Construction sector, as well as the real-world impact of these innovations, and how they may affect working practices in the future.
Patent Publication No: GB2495390B – A more accurate fixing method can help to avoid setbacks
Steel-reinforced concrete is widely used in the housing and construction industry to build a wide range of load-bearing structures including bridges, multi-storey buildings and sports stadiums.
Holding bolts are typically set into concrete, in order to attach a steel structure to the foundation. However, using current methods, it is often difficult to place these holding bolts accurately and maintain their position whilst the concrete is poured and set. Once set, it can also be very difficult to re-position these holding bolts in order to meet pre-set tolerances.
To re-position holding bolts, the concrete must generally be “cracked” to facilitate release of the bolts, so that they can then be re-aligned. However, even with methods currently used to lessen the difficulties associated with cracking concrete, re-positioning holding bolts remains a difficult and time-consuming task.
Liverpool-based inventors, Colin O’Gara and Leigh Rooney, have been recently granted a UK patent for a method intended to solve these difficulties. Their patent (publication number GB2495390B) was granted on 26 September 2018 and can be found at the link here.
Their invention involves providing a container, as shown in Figure 1, having a pair of compartments (903 and 905) which are attached via a hinge (911). The container is designed to receive the head of a bolt (not shown) and, once the bolt is in place, to be fastened around it, using in-built clasps. This provides a concrete-proof seal around the head of the bolt.
When used in conjunction with other existing technologies, such as a washer plate (310) and a sleeve (320), see Figure 2, it is possible to secure a holding bolt (100) within a concrete structure (200), whilst completely isolating it from the concrete within which it is contained.
Following this process enables the holding bolt to be easily manoeuvred within the concrete structure after it has been cured, without the need for cracking. This provides construction teams with an increased tolerance for connecting the holding bolt with the rest of the steel framework. Once the steel structure has been attached to the holding bolt, grouting can be applied in order to finish the installation.
This innovative method provides a simple, yet effective, solution, facilitating the connection of holding bolts with their associated steel structures and keeping them firmly in position.
Given the importance of delivering projects on time, and avoiding costly setbacks, this invention could be widely adopted in the construction sector in years to come.
By obtaining patent protection for this invention, the inventors (and their business) will be able to market it on an exclusive basis and will have the right to prevent competitors from copying it. Further down the line, depending on industry take-up, the inventors may also choose to license their patented invention to third parties, allowing them to benefit from royalty payments.
David McWilliams is a partner and patent attorney at intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers. He specialises in advising businesses on how to protect their ideas in the housing and construction sector.
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