Patent application title: MULTI-PART EQUIPMENT PIECE FOR A VEHICLE AND CONNECTING METHOD
Holger Kalus (Moers, DE)
Gunter Kascherus (Nettetal, DE)
JOHNSON CONTROLS TECHNOLOGY COMPANY
IPC8 Class: AF16B1700FI
Class name: Joints and connections member deformed in situ deforming component is inserted section
Publication date: 2014-04-17
Patent application number: 20140105675
An equipment piece includes first and second components, such as a
vehicle door armrest and a vehicle door. The first component is
insertable in a recess, such as a slot, in the second component. The
second component may be secured in the first by deformation of a
projecting portion configured as a tab having a wall thickness smaller
than its longitudinal extension. The tab is anchorable non-positively in
the second component after inserting into the recess.
1. An equipment piece comprising: a first and a second component for an
interior of a vehicle, wherein at least one protrusion of the first
component is configured to be inserted into a recess of the second
component, and to be secured to the second component by deforming a
projecting portion of the at least one protrusion; wherein the recess is
configured as a slot; wherein the at least one protrusion is configured
as a tab having a wall thickness (D) which is smaller than a longitudinal
extension (B) of the tab, the tab being anchorable non-positively in the
second component after inserting into the slot; wherein at least one of
the first component and the second component comprises a
polypropylene/natural fiber composite.
2. The equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tab is configured to be brought to bear at least partially against a surface of the second component.
3. The equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first component comprises a plurality of protrusions with projecting portions configured as tabs arranged in a linear manner, the second component comprises a corresponding plurality of slots arranged in a linear manner, and the plurality of tabs is configured to be inserted through the corresponding plurality of slots.
4. The equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the wall thickness (D) of the tab substantially corresponds to a wall thickness (d) of adjacent regions of the first component.
5. The equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tab is connected to the second component by a material connection.
6. The equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first component is an armrest and the second component is a support of a vehicle door.
7. A method for producing the equipment piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tab of the first component is inserted into the slot of the second component.
8. The method as claimed in claim 7, wherein the tab and the slot are made by punching out or laser cutting the first and second components.
9. The method as claimed in claim 7, wherein at least the tab is heated after insertion.
10. The method as claimed in claim 7, wherein the tab is connected by a material connection to the second component.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/389,258, filed Feb. 19, 2009, which is a continuation of PCT Application No. PCT/EP2007/007604, filed on Aug. 31, 2007, which claims priority from and the benefit of German Patent No. DE 10 2006 047 082.6, filed on Oct. 2, 2006, and German Patent No. DE 10 2006 058 491.0, filed on Dec. 12, 2006, all entitled "Multi-Part Equipment Piece for a Vehicle and Connecting Method." Each of the foregoing applications is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
 The invention relates to an equipment piece with a first and a second component for the interior of a vehicle, in which at least one protrusion of the first component may be inserted into a recess of the second component and may be secured there by deformation of the projecting portion, as well as a method for producing said equipment part.
 A generic equipment piece in the form of a door trim panel and a corresponding method are known from the publication EP 1 256 484 A1. In this case, a first component in the form of an armrest is connected to a second component configured as a support, by a rivet-like protrusion on the armrest being inserted through a recess in the support. Subsequently, the projecting portion of the protrusion projecting from the support is widened, so that both components are connected unreleaseably to one another to form a structure which is disadvantageous in the event of a crash as it is relatively hard. Moreover, where there is a high proportion of non-fusible fibers in the rivet-like protrusion, this process is no longer possible, or only results in a connection of unsatisfactory strength. Similarly, such protrusions may generally only be produced by injection-molding the armrest, but not by compressing flat semi-finished products.
 The object of the invention is to improve the generic equipment piece with regard to manufacture and crash behavior.
 The object is achieved in a generic equipment piece by the protrusion being configured as a tab having a wall thickness which is smaller than its longitudinal extension, and which may be anchored non-positively in the second component after insertion into the recess configured as a slot. As a result, hard material thickenings in the connecting region are avoided. The connection, therefore, is implemented in a substantially unreleaseable manner. Separation of the components is thus only possible by damaging or destroying at least one component.
 In certain embodiments, it is provided that the tab may be brought to bear at least partially against the surface of the second component. Moreover, advantageously the connection is not made simply at one location but by a number of tabs arranged in a linear manner, which may be displaced into a corresponding number of slots arranged in a linear manner.
 In certain embodiments, the wall thickness of the tab substantially corresponds to the wall thickness of the adjacent regions of the first component, so that the tabs may be produced in a simple manner by punching out and/or laser cutting the edge region of the first component. In certain embodiments, the connection of the tab to the second component additionally takes place by a material connection, for example by heating and melting the regions of the first and second component subsequently brought into surface contact.
 The figures show by way of example and schematically an embodiment of the invention, in which:
 FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the first and second component before joining,
 FIG. 2A-2C shows a section through the first and second component before, during and after joining.
 In FIG. 1 a vehicle equipment piece 1 is shown in detail with a first component 2 in the form of a segment 3 of a door trim panel and a second component 5 configured as an armrest 4. The armrest 4 designed in a trough-like manner and consisting at least partially of a polypropylene/natural fiber composite, is provided on its edge 6 facing in the direction of the segment 3 with a number of projecting tabs 7, whilst the segment 3 has the same number of slots 8 configured in a congruent manner. The tabs 7 are preferably incorporated by punching out the semi-finished product of the armrest 4 which is still flat or already three-dimensionally deformed. At this time, the armrest 4 may optionally be already provided with a decorative layer and/or upholstery. It is understood that the length of the tabs 7 has to be greater than the thickness of the flat segment 3 in the region of the slots 8, in particular by approximately 3 to 10 times. In certain embodiments, the slots 8 are also punched out of the segment 3.
 The components 2, 5 thus provided (see section according to FIG. 2A) are then joined by inserting the tabs 7 into the slots 8 (arrow A in FIG. 2B). In certain embodiments, after insertion, the tabs 7 are heated by warm air and may be more easily deformed by softening the thermoplastic components thereof. Melting-on of the thermoplastic components of the armrest 4 and, components of the segment 3 compatible with these additionally leads to a material connection between the components 2, 5. In certain embodiments, the segment 3 also consists of a polypropylene/natural fiber composite.
 The connecting region produced in this manner has only a very small material accumulation which, on the one hand, reduces the material consumption and, on the other hand, avoids undesirable local hardening of the vehicle equipment piece 1 in the event of a crash (for example in the event of a side impact). In the embodiment, moreover, both the insertion of the tabs 7 and the deformation thereof by using appropriate punches may take place by movements in the Y-direction.
Patent applications by JOHNSON CONTROLS TECHNOLOGY COMPANY
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