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United States Patent Application 20170096895
Kind Code A1
BONOMI; Cristiano April 6, 2017

DEVICE FOR CONNECTING THE STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS OF RIBS AND RETICULAR STRUCTURES

Abstract

A device for connecting the structural elements, in particular elements of ribs used to support and to consolidate an excavation, reticular structures and similar, comprises at least a first housing (4; 44; 403; 411) having a cavity (14; 414; 144) and capable of being associated with a first structural element (2; 20; 200; 121), at least one connection body (5; 56; 511) having at least one insertion portion (119; 58; 591) for insertion in the said cavity (14; 414; 144) of the said first housing (4; 44; 403; 411) and capable of being associated with a second structural element (3; 30; 131), and locking means (11, 12, 13, 15, 17; 60, 61, 62, 63, 47; 621, 623, 653) for locking the said insertion portion (119; 58; 591) of the said connection body (5; 56; 511) inside the said cavity (14; 414; 144). The housing may be arranged in a cup-shaped element and may be linked in a revolving/hinging manner with the connection body.


Inventors: BONOMI; Cristiano; (Peschiera Borromeo, IT)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

OFFICINE MACCAFERRI ITALIA S.R.L.

Zola Predosa (BO)

IT
Family ID: 1000002369892
Appl. No.: 15/313289
Filed: May 28, 2015
PCT Filed: May 28, 2015
PCT NO: PCT/IB2015/054023
371 Date: November 22, 2016


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: E21D 11/24 20130101; E04B 1/40 20130101; E04B 2001/2451 20130101; E21D 11/40 20130101; E04B 2001/2457 20130101; E04B 1/2403 20130101
International Class: E21D 11/24 20060101 E21D011/24; E04B 1/24 20060101 E04B001/24; E21D 11/40 20060101 E21D011/40; E04B 1/41 20060101 E04B001/41

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Jun 4, 2014ITBO2014A000324

Claims



1. A device for connecting structural elements, in particular elements of ribs, reticular structures and similar, comprising at least a first housing having a cavity and capable of being associated with a first structural element, at least one connection body having at least one insertion portion for insertion in the said cavity of the said housing and capable of being associated with a second structural element, and means for locking the said insertion portion of the said connection body inside the said cavity.

2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said locking means comprise at least one pin cooperating with elastic means and capable of being inserted into a hole made in a side wall of the said cavity of the said first housing, the said pin and the said elastic means being arranged on the said insertion portion of the said connection body.

3. The device according to claim 2, wherein the said insertion portion of the said connection body has at least one cavity and at least one hole made in a side wall of the said cavity, the said pin being inserted into the said hole and the said elastic means being arranged inside the said cavity.

4. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said locking means comprise at least a first groove made on an internal wall of the said housing, at least a second groove made on an external wall of the said insertion portion and at least one elastic ring arranged in the said first groove or in the said second groove.

5. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said insertion portion is essentially countershaped with respect to the said cavity of the said first housing.

6. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said cavity of the said first housing has an essentially truncated cone shape.

7. The device according to claim 1, wherein it comprises at least a second housing with at least one cavity and capable of being associated with the said second structural element, the said connection body comprising a fixing portion capable of being arranged and fixed inside the said cavity of the said second housing.

8. The devices according to claim 7, wherein the said cavity of the said first housing and the said cavity of the said second housing have essentially the same form.

9. The device according to claim 7, wherein the said insertion portion and the said fixing portion of the said connection body have essentially the same form.

10. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said first housing and/or the said second housing is/are arranged in a cup-shaped element, the said cup element having a side wall for fixing to a respective structural element.

11. The device according to claim 1, wherein the said first housing and the said connection body are connected rotatably to each other, preferably by means of at least one hinge.

12. The rib for supporting and consolidating an excavation, comprising at least a first rib structural element and a second rib structural element, wherein it comprises at least one connecting device according to claim 1.

13. A rib for supporting and consolidating an excavation, comprising at least a first rib structural element and at least a second rib structural element, the said first rib structural element and the said second rib structural element being connected by connecting means, wherein the said connecting means comprise at least one engaging connection element associated with the said first rib structural element and cooperating with elastic means, the said engaging connection element being movable between a first unlocking position and a second locking position with respect to the said second rib structural element.

14. The rib according to claim 12, wherein the said first rib structural element and the said second rib structural element are connected rotatably to each other, preferably by means of at least one hinge, so as to move from a first position in which 1 the said rib structural elements are essentially folded one on the other to a second position in which they are arranged so as to form at least one essentially continuous portion of rib.

15. A method for installing a rib according to claim 12, comprising the following phases: transporting the rib into the excavation with the structural elements essentially folded one on to the other according to the said first position; moving the structural elements of the rib to form an essentially continuous portion of rib according to the said second position; positioning the structural elements of the rib inside the excavation.
Description



[0001] The present invention concerns a device for connecting the structural elements, in particular elements of ribs, reticular structures and similar. The present invention also concerns a rib for supporting and consolidating an excavation comprising means for connecting the said structural elements and a method for installing a supporting rib inside an excavation.

[0002] In the field of supporting structures, it is known to use structural elements that are connected to each other in order to create the final form of the said supporting structure. These structural elements may have an open cross-section, for example C or double T, or a closed cross-section. In the case of closed cross-sections, the structural elements are tubular and may have cross-sections of any form, for example circular, square, rectangular or triangular.

[0003] For the support of excavations, such as motorway or railway tunnels, it is known to use reinforcing arches called "ribs". In particular, a rib usually comprises a plurality of shaped steel elements mutually connected in a "vault" configuration. These elements are formed by "open" profiles with H, INP, C or double T cross-section, and are made integral with one another by a connection element known as a tie plate. In the majority of cases, the profiles are mutually connected at the level of the excavation to be reinforced, after having been shaped by metalworking. After being assembled, each rib is connected to the adjacent ribs through connection chains whose ends are connected to supports welded along the body of the rib profiles. The space between two consecutive ribs and the wall of the excavation is usually reinforced with sprayed concrete (shotcrete).

[0004] In order to connect two structural elements to each other and obtain the final form of the support structure, a pair of joining plates are generally used, intended to be mutually connected by means of bolts. A joining system is known from the document EP 2354447, which describes a rib for supporting and consolidating an excavation consisting of multiple structural elements connected to each other. In the known joining system, each first joining plate has portions that are welded to a relative structural element at a terminal section. Each joining plate, usually rectangular in shape, comprises two series of holes for the connection of bolts that fix the plates to each other, making the connection between the structural elements so that the structural elements form a continuous structure that develops over the entire extension of the structure.

[0005] This known joining system has various disadvantages.

[0006] In order to make the connection, the structural elements must be precisely positioned with respect to each other so as to line up the holes of the plates into which the bolts are to be inserted. This is difficult, particularly in the case of rather extensive structures, especially those extending vertically, or structures that must assume a particular final configuration, such as ribs in a "vault" configuration.

[0007] Moreover, the connection cannot be made automatically, since the mutual positioning of the plates and the insertion of the bolts can only be done manually. This connection process therefore requires a substantial investment of time.

[0008] This connection may also be unstable if, for example, the bolts are not fixed correctly. In particular, the instability of the connection may increase over time if the tightness of the bolts is not checked periodically.

[0009] The aim of the present invention is to provide a rapid and secure connection between structural elements.

[0010] A further aim of the present invention is to make an automatic connection that does not require manual intervention.

[0011] These aims are achieved by means of a device for connecting the structural elements, particularly elements of ribs, reticular structures and similar, comprising at least one housing having a cavity and capable of being associated with a first structural element, at least one connection body having at least one insertion portion for insertion in the said cavity of the said first housing and capable of being associated with a second structural element, and means for locking the said insertion portion of the said connection body inside the said cavity.

[0012] Advantageously, the locking means comprise at least one pin cooperating with elastic means and capable of being inserted into a hole made in a side wall of the said cavity of the said first housing, the said pin and the said elastic means being arranged on the said insertion portion of the said connection body.

[0013] Preferably, the said insertion portion of the said connection body has at least one cavity and at least one hole made in a side wall of the said cavity, the said pin being inserted into the said hole and the said elastic means being arranged inside the said cavity. In this way, a compact structure is created that makes it possible to automatically and rapidly lock the connection body inside the cavity of the housing.

[0014] Advantageously, the insertion portion is countershaped with respect to the said first cavity of the said first housing, which preferably has an essentially truncated cone shape. This structure makes it easier to insert the connection body into the cavity of the housing.

[0015] According to an advantageous implementation, the device comprises at least a second housing having at least one cavity and capable of being associated with the said second structural element, the said connection body comprising a fixing portion capable of being arranged and fixed inside the said cavity of the said second housing. Preferably, the cavity of the said first housing and the cavity of the said second housing have essentially the same form.

[0016] Advantageously, the said insertion portion and the said fixing portion of the said connection body have essentially the same form. In this way, a single type of hollow housing can be provided for associating with each structural element, successively fixing the connection body inside one of the housings.

[0017] According to a preferred form of implementation, the said first housing and/or the said second housing is/are arranged in a cup-shaped element, the said cup element having a side wall for fixing to a respective structural element. The cup element allows the device to be easily fixed to structural elements of different shapes and cross-sections, both open and closed.

[0018] The aims of the present invention are also achieved by means of a rib for supporting and consolidating an excavation, comprising at least a first rib structural element and at least a second rib structural element, the said first rib structural element and the said second rib structural element being connected by connecting means, in which the said connection means comprise at least one engaging connection element associated with the said first rib structural element and cooperating with elastic means, the said engaging connection element being movable between a first unlocking position and a second locking position with respect to the said second rib structural element.

[0019] Advantageously, the said first rib structural element and the said second rib structural element are connected rotatably to each other, so as to move from a first position in which the said rib structural elements are essentially folded one on the other to a second position in which they are arranged so as to form at least one essentially continuous portion of rib. This makes it possible to easily transport all the structural elements of the rib in a closed configuration to the site of the excavation and to easily install the said rib.

[0020] Further characteristics and advantages will emerge from the following detailed description of a number of preferred implementations of the invention, provided purely by way of non-limitative example, with reference to the annexed drawings, in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 shows a longitudinal cross-section of a first form of implementation of the connecting device according to the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 2 shows an initial phase of the connection of two structural elements by means of the device of FIG. 1;

[0023] FIG. 3 shows a successive phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 1;

[0024] FIG. 4 shows a final phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 1;

[0025] FIG. 5 shows a longitudinal cross-section of a second form of implementation of the connecting device according to the present invention;

[0026] FIG. 6 shows an initial phase of the connection of two structural elements by means of the device of FIG. 5;

[0027] FIG. 7 shows a successive phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 5;

[0028] FIG. 8 shows a final phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 5;

[0029] FIG. 9 shows a longitudinal cross-section of a cup-shaped element of the connecting device of FIG. 5 associated with a structural element with an open cross-section;

[0030] FIG. 10 shows a second cross-section along the line X-X of the connecting device of FIG. 9;

[0031] FIG. 11 shows longitudinal cross-section of a further form of implementation of the connecting device according to the present invention;

[0032] FIG. 12 shows a perspective view from below of the connecting device of FIG. 11;

[0033] FIG. 13 shows a perspective view from above of the connecting device of FIG. 11;

[0034] FIG. 14 shows an initial phase of the connection of two structural elements by means of the device of FIG. 11;

[0035] FIG. 15 shows a successive phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 11;

[0036] FIG. 16 shows a final phase of the connection by means of the device of FIG. 11;

[0037] FIG. 17 shows a front view of a preferred form of implementation of a rib according to the present invention in the installation configuration;

[0038] FIG. 18 shows a longitudinal cross-section of a form of implementation of means for connecting two structural elements of the rib of FIG. 17;

[0039] FIG. 19 shows a front view of a preferred form of implementation of the rib of FIG. 17 in a pre-installation configuration;

[0040] FIG. 20 shows a first phase of installation of the rib of FIG. 17, in which the rib is transported into the excavation;

[0041] FIG. 21 shows a successive phase of installation of the rib in which the rib is raised in order to initiate the opening of the structural elements from a folded configuration;

[0042] FIG. 22 shows a successive phase of installation of the rib in which the structural elements are moved into an opening configuration;

[0043] FIG. 23 shows a further successive phase of installation of the rib, in which the supporting elements are moved into the installation configuration.

[0044] FIG. 1 illustrates a first form of implementation of a connecting device 1 of structural elements according to the present invention, in particular of a first structural element 2 and a second structural element 3. The device 1 comprises a housing 4 defining a cavity 14, preferably of truncated cone shape, associated with a plate 6 that is fixed, for example by welding, to a first structural element 2. In the form of implementation of FIG. 1, the structural element 2 is tubular and has a circular, square or rectangular transverse cross-section. The plate 6 is fixed to the tubular structural element 2 in such a way that the housing 4 extends inside the said tubular element 2. Preferably, a hinge portion 6a is also associated with the plate 6. The side wall 10 of the housing 4 has one or more holes 12, preferably four.

[0045] The connecting device 1 of FIG. 1 also comprises a connection body 5, which has an insertion portion 119, preferably of truncated cone shape and defining a cavity 19. The connection body 5 is associated with a plate 7 that is fixed, for example by welding, to a second structural element 3. The side wall 9 of the connection body 5 has one or more holes 11, preferably in a number the same as that of the side wall 10 of the housing. In each hole 11 of the connection body 5 is inserted a pin 13 with a head 15 of larger diameter capable of forming a stop to the translatory motion of the pin 13 in the said hole 11. With the head 15 is associated an elastic element 17 that extends inside the cavity 19 of the hollow connection body 5 and is fixed to the plate 7. With the plate 7 is associated another hinge portion 7a, which with the hinge portion 6a forms a hinge 8 in order to create a rotatable connection between the structural elements 2, 3.

[0046] In an alternative form not illustrated in the drawings, the pins 13 and the corresponding elastic elements 17 are arranged on the housing 4 associated with the first structural element 2.

[0047] As illustrated in FIG. 2, at the start of the connection between the two structural elements 2, 3, advantageously hinged between each other, the connection body 5 is rotated so as to be inserted into the cavity 14 of the housing 4. During the rotation, a first pin 13, sliding on the side wall 10 of the housing 4, advantageously inclined due to the truncated cone shape, is pushed out of the respective hole 11 against the force exerted by the elastic element 17. As the rotation continues (FIG. 3), the other pins 13 are also pushed out of the respective holes 11. On completion of the rotation (FIG. 4), the connection body 5 is fully inserted into the cavity 14 of the housing 4, so that the position of the pins 13 corresponds to that of the holes 12 made in the side wall 10 of the housing 4. In this way, the pins 13 are pushed by the elastic element 17 into the holes 12 as far as the stop formed by the head 15 of the pins 13, connecting the two structural elements 2, 3 to each other.

[0048] FIG. 5 illustrates a second form of implementation of a connecting device 110 according to the present invention. The device 110 comprises a first cup-shaped element 40 capable of being associated with a first structural element 20 and a second cup-shaped element 50 capable of being associated with a second structural element 30.

[0049] The first cup element 40 comprises a side wall 41 and a base 42. The side wall 41 is capable of being fixed to a surface 21 of the relative structural element 20 at one of its ends 22. The base 42 of the cup element 40 has a recess 43 that forms a housing 44 defining a cavity 414, having a portion 45 preferably with a truncated cone shape. Advantageously, the truncated cone portion 45 is linked to the base 42 by means of an inclined section 46. The side wall 41 of the housing 44 has one or more holes 47, preferably four.

[0050] The second cup element 50 comprises a side wall 51 and a base 52. The side wall 51 is capable of being fixed to a surface 31 of the relative structural element 30 at one of its ends 32. The base 52 has a recess 53 that forms a housing 54 defining a cavity 514, preferably with a truncated cone shape.

[0051] The side wall 51 of the housing 54 has one or more holes 67, preferably four.

[0052] Within the cavity 514 of the housing 54 of the second cup element 50 is fixed a connection body 56 by means of bolts 55 inserted into the holes 67. The connection body 56 has a fixing portion 57, preferably hollow and countershaped with respect to the cavity 514 in the housing 54. In this case, the fixing portion 57 has a truncated cone shape. An insertion portion 58 with a cavity 581 is associated with the fixing portion 57. The insertion portion 58, preferably with a truncated cone shape, is arranged symmetrically with respect to the larger base 59 of the truncated cone fixing portion 57, and capable of being inserted into the cavity 414 of the housing 44 of the first cup element 40 of the first structural element 20.

[0053] Also in the form of implementation of FIG. 5, the side wall 582 of the insertion portion 58 of the connection body has preferably four holes 60. Into each hole 60 is inserted a pin 61 with a head 62 of larger diameter capable of forming a stop to the translatory motion of the pin 61 in the said hole 60. With the head 62 is associated an elastic element 63 that extends and is fixed inside the connection body 56.

[0054] In the form of implementation of FIG. 5, each cup element 40, 50 is fixed on to a respective tubular structural element 20, 30. According to the cross-section of the tubular element 20, 30 (circular, square, rectangular or triangular, etc.), the cup element 40, 50 has a transverse cross-section passing through the fixing wall 41, 51 of corresponding shape. The cup element 40, 50 may be fixed to the respective structural element 20, 30 by welding of the fixing wall 41, 51 to the said structural element 20, 30 or by means of bolts inserted in suitable holes 74, 75 made on the fixing wall 41, 51 and on the structural element 20, 30.

[0055] According to the form of implementation illustrated in FIG. 6, each cup element 40, 50 is fixed to the relative structural element 20, 30 by welding of the fixing wall 41, 51 on to the surface 21, 31, preferably external, of the said structural element 20, 30. The fixing portion 57 of the connection element 56 is fixed to the housing 54 arranged on the respective structural element 30 by means of bolts 55.

[0056] At the start of the connection between the two structural elements 20, 30, preferably hinged between each other, a first structural element 20, for example the structural element provided with the single housing 44, is rotated so as to bring it towards the connection body 56 associated with the second structural element 30 (FIG. 6).

[0057] During the rotation, a first pin 61 of the connection body 56, sliding on the side wall 45 of the housing 44, is pushed out of the respective hole 60 against the force exerted by the elastic element 63. As the rotation continues (FIG. 7), the other pins 61 are also pushed out of the respective holes 60. On completion of the rotation (FIG. 8), the insertion portion 58 of the connection body 56 is fully inserted into the cavity 414 of the housing 44, so that the position of the pins 61 corresponds to that of the holes 47 made in the side wall 41 of the housing 44. In this way, the pins 61 are pushed by the elastic element 63 into the holes 47 as far as the stop formed by the head 62 of the pins 61, connecting the two structural elements 20, 30 to each other.

[0058] In an alternative form of implementation not illustrated in the drawings, a cup element as illustrated in FIG. 5 may be associated with a first structural element and be connected to a connection body with a plate as illustrated in FIG. 1, associated with a second structural element. Alternatively, a housing as illustrated in FIG. 1 may be associated with a first structural element and be connected to a connection body inserted into a cup element as illustrated in FIG. 5, associated with a second structural element.

[0059] FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a structural element 200 of open cross-section, in particular a double T cross-section, on to which is fixed a cup element 400 of the device according to the form of implementation of FIG. 5.

[0060] The cup element 400, in this case with a square or rectangular transverse cross-section, is arranged at an end 201 of the respective structural element 200 and fixed by means of bolts 402 on to an external wall 202 of the structural element 200, so that the housing 403 of the cup element 400 is in proximity to the end 201 of the structural element 200. Alternatively, the cup element may be welded on to an external wall of the structural element.

[0061] In a form of implementation not illustrated, the reticular structure consists of a lattice, for example of triangular cross-section, and the cup element is fitted on to an end of the structural element of the lattice and welded to the struts of the said lattice.

[0062] According to a further form of implementation illustrated in FIGS. 11, 12 and 13, the device 111 comprises a housing 411 defining a cavity 144, essentially with a truncated cone shape. The housing 411 is capable of being associated with a first tubular structural element 121 with a circular cross-section (FIG. 14). Advantageously, the external wall 411A of the housing 411 has a truncated cone shape, so as to be inserted into an end of the tubular structural element 121, to which it is fixed for example by welding. With the external wall 411A of the housing 411 is also preferably associated a hinge portion 60a. The internal wall 411B of the housing 411 has a circumferential groove 621, capable of receiving an engaging connection element, preferably an elastic ring 653, for making the connection with the second structural element 131 (FIG. 14).

[0063] The connecting device 111 also comprises a connection body 511, which has a supporting and fixing portion 590 and an insertion portion 591. The supporting and fixing portion 590 has an essentially flat first surface 590A capable of coming into contact with a base 411C of the housing 411, and a second surface 590B, opposite the first, capable of being fixed to the second structural element 131, for example by welding. With the supporting and fixing portion 590 is also preferably associated a hinge portion 60b. The insertion portion 591 preferably has an essentially truncated cone shape. Advantageously, the insertion portion 591 is hollow so as to connect the inside of the first structural element 121 and the inside of the second structural element 131 to each other. The internal wall 592 of the insertion portion 591 has a first inclined section 592A essentially parallel to the truncated cone external wall 411A of the housing 411 and a second section 592B with an opposite inclination.

[0064] The insertion portion 591 has an essentially flat annular base 595 on which are preferably made incisions 597. On the external wall 593 of the insertion portion 591 is provided a groove 623 for the insertion of the elastic ring 653.

[0065] The elastic ring 653 may be prefitted on to the internal wall 411B of the housing 411 and inserted into the groove 623 of the insertion portion 591 during the connection phase. Alternatively, the elastic ring 653 may be prefitted into the groove 623 of the insertion portion 591 and inserted into the groove 621 made on the internal wall 411B of the housing 411 during the connection phase.

[0066] FIGS. 14, 15 and 16 illustrate the phases of the connection between the two structural elements 121, 131, in the making of which the elastic ring 653 is prefitted inside the groove 623 of the insertion portion 591 extending radially outwards from the same.

[0067] As illustrated in FIG. 4, at the start of the connection between the two structural elements 121, 131, advantageously hinged between each other, the connection body 511 is rotated so as to be inserted into the cavity 144 of the housing 411. During the rotation, a first circumferential portion 643A of the elastic ring 653, sliding on the internal side wall 411B of the housing 411, advantageously inclined due to the truncated cone shape, is compressed inside the groove 623.

[0068] As the rotation continues (FIG. 15), the remaining circumferential portion 653B of the elastic ring 653 is also compressed inside the groove 623. On completion of the rotation (FIG. 16), the insertion portion 591 of the connection body 511 is fully inserted into the cavity 144 of the housing 411, so that the portion of the elastic ring 653 that extends outwards from the groove 623 of the connection body 511 is inserted into the corresponding groove 621 of the housing 411, connecting the two structural elements 121, 131 to each other.

[0069] In an alternative form not shown in the drawing, the housing 411 and the insertion portion 591 of the connection body 511 have a truncated pyramid cross-section. This cross-section allows the connection of tubular structural elements with a rectangular or square cross-section and of structural elements with an open cross-section.

[0070] The connecting device according to the invention therefore allows rapid connection of the structural elements. The device may be associated with structural elements of various forms, with either an open or a closed cross-section, and ensures a stable connection.

[0071] FIG. 17 illustrates a possible form of implementation of a supporting and consolidating rib 100 according to the present invention.

[0072] The rib 100 is formed by one or more structural elements 101, 102, 103, made from a metallic material such as construction steel (Fe 430 or other). The rib 100 has a symmetrical "vault" configuration with respect to a plane of symmetry S. This configuration generally reflects that of the portion of the excavation intended to be reinforced by means of the said rib.

[0073] The rib in FIG. 17 comprises a first structural element 101, a second structural element 102 connected to the first structural element 101 and a third structural element 103 connected to the second structural element 102.

[0074] As illustrated, the first structural element 101 and the third structural element 103 are arranged in an essentially mirror-image position with respect to the plane of symmetry S of the rib 100. The second structural element 102 is preferably developed symmetrically between the first structural element 101 and the third structural element 103 with respect to the said plane of symmetry.

[0075] The first structural element 101 is provided with a first end portion 151 operationally connected to a first terminal portion 181 of the second element 102 by first connecting means 161 and a second end portion 152 intended to be connected to a supporting element 190 of the rib 100.

[0076] The third structural element 103 has a first end portion 171 intended to be connected to a second terminal portion 182 of the second structural element 102 by second connecting means 162 and a second end portion 172 intended to be connected to a second supporting element 191 of the rib 100.

[0077] According to a preferred form of implementation, each structural element 101, 102, 103 is formed by a tubular body. The tubular body has a transverse cross-section that defines a respective internal cavity that develops over the entire length of the body. This internal cavity is intended to be filled with concrete following the installation of the rib 100. The transverse cross-section of the tubular body may be square, rectangular or circular.

[0078] According to this form of implementation, the body of the first tubular element 101 is prepared to be associated with a filling device, not illustrated in the drawing, operationally capable of being connected to means for the injection of concrete into the internal cavity of the said body.

[0079] Preferably, the third structural element 103 is also capable of being associated with a filling device associated with the tubular body of the said element.

[0080] Advantageously, the connecting means 161, 162 that connect the second structural element 102 with the first structural element 101 and the third structural element 103 are configured so that the internal cavity of the second structural element 102 is in communication with those of the first structural element 101 and of the third structural element structural element 103. Through this solution, the concrete injected into the internal cavity of the first structural element 101 and of the third structural element 103 also reaches the internal cavity of the second element 102 so as to allow it to be filled.

[0081] In other forms of implementation not illustrated in the drawings, the rib may be formed by one or more structural element consisting of profiles with an open transverse cross-section, for example an H or a C or a double T cross-section.

[0082] According to the invention, the connecting means 161, 162 for connecting the structural elements 101, 102, 103 comprise at least one engaging element associated with elastic means.

[0083] In a form of implementation illustrated in FIG. 18, the rib 100 comprises at least a first tubular structural element 101 and at least a second tubular structural element 102. The connecting means 161 consist of a tubular portion 168 with a diameter smaller than the diameter of the structural elements 101, 102. The tubular portion tubular portion 168 is associated, for example by welding, with an end 151 of the first structural element 101. On the wall 163 of the tubular portion 168 are made one or more holes 164 into which are inserted the pins 165 associated with elastic means 166, which hold the respective pin 165 in a position of insertion into the hole 164. According to this form of implementation, the second structural element 102 has, at a connecting end 181 with the first structural element 101, a number of holes 167 corresponding to the number of pins 165 inserted into the tubular portion 168.

[0084] The tubular portion 168 is inserted into the second structural element 102, pushing the pins 165 into the respective holes 16 against the force exerted by the elastic means 166 and is then fixed to the second structural element 102 when the pins 165 reach the position of the holes 167 of the second structural element 102 and are inserted into the said holes.

[0085] In the case of ribs with an open cross-section, for example a C or double T cross-section, the tubular portion 168 of the connecting means 161 of FIG. 12 may be associated with one of the walls of the first structural element 101, so that it can be inserted into a corresponding locking tubular portion associated with one of the walls of the second structural element 102. In this case, the locking tubular portion is provided with one or more holes in which to lock the pins.

[0086] In an alternative form of implementation, applicable to ribs with an open or closed cross-section, the connecting means have a projection associated with elastic means and insertable into a corresponding locking seat provided on the second structural element.

[0087] In an advantageous form of implementation, the structural elements are connected by means of one of the devices illustrated in FIGS. 1-16.

[0088] Advantageously, the structural elements 101, 102, 103 are connected to each other by a rotating connection, for example by hinges, so as to move from a first position in which the structural elements are essentially folded one on to the other to a second position in which they are arranged so as to form at least one essentially continuous portion of rib.

[0089] In FIG. 17, the rib 100 consists of three structural elements 101, 102, 103 and two supporting elements 190, 191. Preferably, the supporting elements 190, 191 are also rotatably connected to respective structural elements 101, 103 and may be fixed to these by the connecting means described.

[0090] FIG. 19 shows the rib of FIG. 17 in a configuration prior to final installation.

[0091] The structural elements of the rib are connected by hinges so that they are folded one on to the other in order to be easily transported to the site of the excavation.

[0092] FIGS. 20-23 show the phases of installation of the rib of FIG. 19.

[0093] The rib is transported to the site of the excavation in the configuration in which the structural elements and the supporting elements are folded one on to the other (FIG. 20). Transportation is therefore effected easily, and the elements that comprise the rib are already prepared for correct positioning in the final configuration.

[0094] The element that forms the arch of the rib is then raised so that the structural elements turn on the hinges in order to bring them into an open configuration (FIG. 21), and is then arranged on the upper wall of the excavation (FIG. 22).

[0095] The other structural elements are then arranged on the side wall of the excavation and the supporting elements are then rotated with respect to the relative hinges in order to bring them into the final installation position (FIG. 23).

[0096] On completion of the relative rotation, the structural elements and the supporting elements are fixed in the installation position by means of the connecting devices described above. Installation is therefore effected in a rapid and automatic manner.

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