(19)
(11)EP 2 546 937 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
19.10.2016 Bulletin 2016/42

(21)Application number: 12005077.8

(22)Date of filing:  09.07.2012
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H01R 35/04  (2006.01)
B60R 16/027  (2006.01)
B60R 11/00  (2006.01)

(54)

Rotational connector device

Drehverbindervorrichtung

Dispositif de raccord rotatif


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 12.07.2011 JP 2011154062

(43)Date of publication of application:
16.01.2013 Bulletin 2013/03

(73)Proprietor: Valeo Japan Co., Ltd.
Saitama 360-0193 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Sakurai, Junichi
    Tokyo 143-8521 (JP)
  • Serizawa, Yasumasa
    Tokyo 143-8521 (JP)

(74)Representative: Oppermann, Frank 
OANDO Oppermann & Oppermann LLP Washingtonstrasse 75
65189 Wiesbaden
65189 Wiesbaden (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 564 849
DE-B3-102005 002 676
EP-A2- 1 094 570
US-A1- 2009 317 984
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


    Field of the Invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to a rotational connector device which is used in a relatively rotational component to perform an electrical connection for control of an air bag device incorporated in a steering device for an automobile or control of an audio device or a constant speed traveling device by a switch button provided on a steering wheel for an automobile.

    Description of the Related Art



    [0002] An example of this kind of rotational connector device includes a device where an annular space is formed between a rotor coupled to a rotating steering shaft and a stator coupled to a vehicle fixed side and a flat cable a winding direction of which is reversed in the middle is accommodated in the annular space in a winding state. One end of this flat cable is fixed to the rotor side, and the other end is fixed to the stator side. The flat cable is reeled out from a cylindrical wall surface of the rotor corresponding to a rotational direction of the rotor and is wound around a cylindrical wall surface of the stator or reeled out from the cylindrical wall surface of the stator and is wound around the cylindrical wall surface of the rotor. This movement is repeated, so that an angular change between the rotor and the stator due to a relative rotation therebetween is absorbed by a change of the winding state of the flat cable. A spacer is arranged between the rotor and the stator for regulating a route of the flat cable. Conventionally many rollers are supported on the spacer for reducing a sliding resistance to the flat cable, but in recent years, there has been made an attempt of reducing the number of the rollers in view of a reduction in costs.

    [0003] For example, Japanese Patent Issue No. 4355229 discloses a rotational connector device in which a rotor is provided with an inner cylindrical portion and a stator is provided with an outer cylindrical portion wherein a spacer (holder) is rotatably arranged therebetween in a state of being supported by the stator. The spacer supports a single roller, and a plurality of guide portions are formed by intervals in the circumferential direction to sandwich the roller therebetween, each guide portion having a wall surface an outer envelope curve of which forms a circle and an inner envelope curve of which forms a circle concentric with the inner cylindrical portion. Each guide portion is formed in a frame shape having a closed plane configuration, and the outer surface forms a circular arc along the envelope curve. A circle formed by the outer envelope curve is eccentric to the inner cylindrical portion of the rotor, and intervals between the roller and each outer surface of the guide portions adjacent to both sides of the roller, and the outer cylindrical portion of the stator are made small, and on the other hand, an interval between an outer surface of the guide portion and the outer cylindrical portion of the stator present at an opposite side to the above guide portion in such a manner as to sandwich a rotational center of the spacer is made large. The flat cable wound around the inner cylindrical portion and the outer cylindrical portion is reversed between the roller and a side surface of the guide portion which is one of the guide portions adjacent to the roller. The flat cable rotates the spacer
    via a reverse section thereof corresponding to the rotational direction of the rotor.

    [0004] However, the conventional rotational connector device is heavy since the spacer is structured such that many frame-shaped guide walls are provided to rise on the annular plate portion. As a result, because of a large sliding resistance to the flat cable generated at rotor rotating, there is a possibility that the flat cable buckles at the time the flat cable pushes a side wall of the guide wall.

    [0005] In addition, in a steering wheel for an automobile, it is required to make rotation possible numbers (possible angles)in the right and left directions equal, and, for example for preventing the event that the flat cable can not rotate to a prescribed rotational number since the flat cable is tightly wound and fixed on the inner cylindrical portion in the middle of the rotating, it is absolutely required as a practical product to use a method that an indicator is incorporated in the spacer for indicating a neutral position to be used as an index on assembling. However, the rotational connector device disclosed in Japanese Patent Issue No. 4355229 can not set such an indicator. That is, according to the conventional rotational connector device, the circle formed by the envelope curve of the guide wall in the spacer is eccentric to the inner cylindrical portion and a large space is formed in a radial direction between the guide wall and the outer wall portion. Therefore the route of the flat cable, which will be reversed in the roller part and reeled out to the outer cylindrical portion side, varies. As a result, a reeling-out length of the flat cable is equal, but a rotational angle of the steering wheel is not constant, so that the indicator position can not be determined.

    [0006] EP 1 564 849 A1 describes a rotational connector device comprising a rotor, a stator forming an annular space between the rotor and the stator, and a spacer arranged in the annular space. A single roller is supported by the spacer, and a flat cable is accommodated in the annular space. The spacer comprises an annular plate portion on which a guiding wall as a guide portion and a roller support portion for the single roller are provided. EP 1 564 849 A1 describes a preferred embodiment of the rotational connector device in which the guiding wall is a hollow tube-shaped wall consisting of a plurality of hollow tube-shaped wall elements arranged in intervals on the annular plate portion surrounding a central guide hole.. EP 1 564 849 A1 further describes alternative embodiments of the holder in which the guiding wall is formed by a single guide wall element. With regard to the alternative embodiments of the holder, EP 1 564 849 A1 teaches to form cavities and/or synthetic resin-removed parts in the holder in order to reduce its weight. Guiding holes are formed in the guide wall element and penetrating holes are formed in the remaining side wall portions of the guide wall element, and passing holes are formed in the annular plate portion of the holder adjacent the guide wall element.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0007] Accordingly, the present invention is made in view of the above described problems, and the present invention has an object to provide a rotational connector device which is light-weighed and in which a route of a flat cable is appropriately regulated to prevent buckling of the flat cable.

    [0008] For this purpose, according to an aspect of the present invention, a rotational connector device comprises a rotor, a stator forming an annular space between the rotor and the stator, a spacer rotatably arranged in the annular space, a single roller supported by the spacer, and a flat cable of
    which both sides are reeled out from the annular space via the rotor and the stator, the flat cable being accommodated in the annular space in a state where a winding direction is reversed in the middle by the roller, wherein
    the spacer comprises
    an annular plate portion, a roller support portion provided on the annular plate portion, and a plurality of first guide portions provided on the annular plate portion, the roller support portion and the first guide portion respectively rising in the axial same direction on the annular plate portion, wherein
    the roller support portion rotatably supports the
    roller, the first guide portions are arranged to be
    spaced in the
    circumferential direction to sandwich the roller support portion therebetween on the annular plate portion, each comprising an inner guide rib having a curved surface projecting inwards in an inner peripheral side of the annular plate portion and an outer guide rib having a curved surface projecting outwards in an outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion,
    the annular plate portion is provided with a lightening hole formed between the inner guide rib and the outer guide rib in each of the first guide portions, and
    in the first guide portion, the inner guide rib and the outer guide rib are connected by a single tension wall.

    [0009] According to the present invention, the route of the flat cable is regulated by the first guide portion, the first guide portion is not formed in a framed shape in which the entire circumference is closed, but comprises the inner guide rib and the outer guide rib separated, each rib having the curved surface, to remove the intermediate section therebetween, and also in the annular plate portion, a region sandwiched by the inner guide rib and the outer guide rib forms a lightening hole. Therefore the rigidity is maintained by each curved surface of both the guide ribs, the spacer is made light in weight, and the sliding resistance to the flat cable at rotor rotating is reduced to effectively suppress the buckling of the flat cable.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0010] Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description made with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which like parts are designated by like reference numbers and in which:

    FIG. 1 is a cross section showing a rotational connector device according to an embodiment in the present invention;

    FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross section of A portion in FIG. 1;

    FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a spacer in the embodiment;

    FIG. 4 is a plan view showing the spacer in the embodiment;

    FIG. 5 is a cross section taken along lines B - O - B in FIG. 4; and

    FIG. 6 is a cross section taken along lines C - O - C in FIG. 4.


    DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS



    [0011] Hereinafter, an embodiment in the present invention will be explained with reference to the accompanying drawings.

    [0012] FIG. 1 is a cross section showing a rotational connector device according to an embodiment, and FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of A portion in FIG. 1. A rotational connector device 1 comprises a rotor 5, a stator 30, and a flat cable 3 and a spacer 50 arranged between the rotor 5 and the stator 30. The rotor 5 comprises a rotor body 6, a liner 15, and a rotor attachment 23, each being made of plastic. The rotor body 6 includes a disc portion 7, and a cylindrical portion 8 axially extending from the center of the disc portion 7 and having a through hole 9 therein. An inner diameter of the cylindrical portion 8 in a predetermined range from a front end thereof forms an enlarged diameter portion 10 larger than that of the upper section. A ring-shaped groove 11 is formed in an inner side just proximal to an outer peripheral edge on the backside of the disc portion 7. The liner 15 includes a ceiling plate portion 16 extending along the backside of the disc portion 7 in the rotor body 6, and an inner cylindrical portion 17 for covering an outer peripheral surface of the cylindrical portion 8, wherein the liner 15 is coupled to the rotor body 6 by engaging a hook nail 18 provided in an outer edge of the ceiling plate portion 16 to an engagement portion 13 of an engagement hole 12 provided in close proximity to an outer periphery of the disc portion 7. The ceiling plate portion 16 covers the backside of the disc portion 7 in a range corresponding to the inner diameter side from the groove 11. A reduced diameter portion 19 is formed on an outer surface at the lower end portion of the inner cylindrical portion 17 and an enlarged diameter portion 20 is formed on an inner surface at the lower end portion thereof. The rotor attachment 23 is formed in a short, cylindrical shape, and has a fitting portion 24 to be fitted in the enlarged diameter portion 10 of the cylindrical portion 8 in the rotor body 6. An inner peripheral surface of the rotor attachment 23 is in flush with an upper inner peripheral surface of the through hole 9 in the cylindrical portion 8. The rotor attachment 23 has a flange 25 on an outer periphery downward of the fitting portion 24.

    [0013] The stator 30 comprises a plastic case 31 and a plastic bottom cover 40, and forms an annular space S between the stator 30 and the rotor 5. The case 31 surrounds the annular space S in the radial direction, and a basic form in section thereof has an H configuration in which two vertical ( upper and lower) walls of an inner wall 32 and an outer wall 33 axially in parallel with each other are connected by a connecting portion 34. An upper end of the outer wall 33 extends inside the groove 11 of the disc portion 7 in the rotor body 6, and on the other hand, a retaining flange 35 extends in an inner diameter direction by a predetermined amount from an upper end of the inner wall 32 to oppose the ceiling plate portion 16 of the liner 15. This flange 35 serves to prevent the flat cable 3 from pulling out from a constant position. An enlarged diameter portion 36 is formed on an inner surface at the lower end portion of the inner wall 32.

    [0014] The bottom cover 40 defines a lower end of the annular space S, is formed of a disc portion 41 as a major portion, and is integral with the case 31 by fitting a fitting wall 42 provided to axially rise from the outer peripheral edge of the disc portion 41 into an interval between the inner wall 32 and the outer wall 33 in the case 31. An inner peripheral edge of the disc portion 41, a projecting nf which projects upwards and is fitted into an enlarged diameter portion 20 at a lower end of the inner cylindrical portion 17 in the liner 15, is rotatably sandwiched between the inner cylindrical portion 17 and the flange 25 of the rotor attachment 23.

    [0015] The spacer 50 is made of a plastic having high lubricating properties such as polyacetal, and supports a roller 45 on an annular plate portion 51, as well as is provided with guide portions to be described later by rib molding. For supporting the roller 45, a base portion 52 is formed on the annular plate portion 51, and a pin 53 rises from the center of the base portion 52 for rotatably supporting the roller 45. The pin 53 is divided into two parts along the diameter line, each front end of which is provided with a nail 54, which is engaged to an axial hole end edge of the roller 45 for the retaining. The base portion 52 is accommodated in a diameter of the roller 45 in a radial direction, as well as in a circumferential direction of the annular plate portion 51, thereby preventing an interference with the flat cable 3 wound and reversed around the roller 45.

    [0016] The annular plate portion 51 is positioned by sandwiching the inner peripheral edge between the inner cylindrical portion 17 and the disc portion 41 of the bottom cover 40 in the reduced diameter portion 19 of the inner cylindrical portion 17 in the liner 15 and by sandwiching the outer peripheral edge between the inner wall 32 and the disc portion 41 of the bottom cover 40 in the enlarged diameter portion 36 of the inner wall 32 in the case 31, and at the same time, is arranged to be rotatable relatively to the rotor 5 and the stator 30.

    [0017] The flat cable 3 is accommodated in the annular space S and is arranged between the inner cylindrical portion 17 of the liner 15 and the first guide portion 55 of the spacer 50, and is reversed in part of the roller 45 and is arranged between the inner wall 32 of the case 31 and the first guide portion 55 of the spacer 50 to be in a winding state. In this arrangement, one end of the flat cable 3 is pulled outside of the annular space via the cylindrical portion 8 from the liner 15 in a side of the rotor 5, and the other end thereof is pulled outside of the annular space via the case 31 of the stator 30.

    [0018] Hereinafter, the details of the spacer 50 will be explained. FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the spacer, FIG. 4 is a plan view showing the spacer. FIG. 5 is a cross section taken along lines B - O - B in FIG. 4 and is the same as the device shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 6 is a cross section taken along lines C - O - C in FIG. 4. As shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, five first guide portions 55 are provided by equal intervals in the circumferential direction from the roller 45 on the annular plate portion 51 at the same side as the base portion 52 (and the pin 53) supporting the roller 45, and further, second guide portions 60 are provided between the roller 45 and the first guide portion 55 adjacent thereto, and between the first guide portions 55 each other.

    [0019] The first guide portion 55 is provided with an inner guide rib 56 arranged in an inner side on a radius line of the annular plate portion 51 and an outer guide rib 57 arranged in an outer side on a radius line of the annular plate portion 51, each rib having a curved surface and extending in an axial direction. Here, each rib has a wall surface formed in a semicircle in section as the curved surface. The inner guide rib 56 has the curved surface projecting toward an inner side and the outer guide rib 57 has the curved surface projecting toward an outer side, wherein a single tension wall 58 connects the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 at each width center thereof. A radius of each outer peripheral surface of the inner guide ribe 56 and the outer guide rib 57 is set smaller than a radius of the roller 45.

    [0020] As shown in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, each thickness of the inner guide rib 56, the outer guide rib 57 and the tension wall 58 is equivalent to a plate thickness of the annular plate portion 51. In addition, an axial height of the tension wall 58 is equal to the height of the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57, and a height of the first guide portion 55 is equal to a height of an upper end of the roller 45 supported by the pin 53. FIG. 6 shows a partially broken view of the tension wall 58. A lightening hole 59 is formed between the inner peripheral surface of the inner guide rib 56 and the inner peripheral surface of the outer guide rib 57 in the annular plate portion 51. However, also in the lightening hole 59, the tension wall 58 extends to a bottom surface of the annular plate portion 51, and as a result, the lightening hole 59 is divided into two sections in the circumferential direction. It should be noted that in FIG. 3, a part of the first guide portion 55 is shown as a broken view for illustrating the lightening hole 59.

    [0021] A circle concentric with the annular plate portion 51 and touching an inside of an outer peripheral surface of the roller 45 in a state of being supported by the pin 53 of the base portion 52 is indicated at a first circle E1 (radius R1), and a circle touching an outside of the outer peripheral surface of the roller 45 is indicated at a second circle E2 (radius R2), wherein the outer peripheral surface of the inner guide rib 56 is set to touch the first circle E1, and the outer peripheral surface of the outer guide rib 57 is set to touch the second circle E2. When the spacer 50 is arranged and assembled in the annular space S between the rotor 5 and the stator 30, a gap between the first circle E1 and the inner cylindrical portion 17 of the liner 15 and a gap between the second circle E2 and the inner wall 32 of the case 31 are set to be a predetermined value. Thereby the flat cable is guide without any large clearance between the inner guide rib 56 and the inner cylindrical portion 17 and between the outer guide rib 57 and the inner wall 32. That is, the first guide portions 55 regulate the route of the flat cable as replacements to the rollers which could be arranged at the same positions as the first guide portions 55. Since a radius of the curved surface in each of the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 of the first guide portion 55 is smaller than a radius of the roller 45, a contact area of the curved surface with the flat cable is made small. Therefore, a sliding resistance to the flat cable 3 is small.

    [0022] The second guide portion 60 is structured such that three plate ribs 61 (61a, 61b, and 61c) in parallel with each other on a plan view rise from the annular plate portion 51 in the same direction as the first guide portion 55, wherein an inner end of each rib 61 is concentric with the annular plate portion 51 and touches a third circle E3 (radius R3) larger in diameter by a predetermined amount than the first circle E1, and an outer end of each rib 61 touches a fourth circle E4 (radius R4) larger in diameter than the third circle E3 and passing the substantial center in a radial width of the annular plate portion 51. The central plate rib 61a out of the three ribs extends on a radius line of the annular plate portion 51, and the plate ribs 61b and 61c in both the sides adjacent to the plate rib 61a are respectively spaced by an equal distance from the central plate rib 61a. The respective adjacent plate ribs 61 are connected by the connecting walls 63.

    [0023] A plate thickness of each plate rib 61 is equivalent to that of the annular plate portion 51, and as shown in FIG. 6, a height thereof from the annular plate portion 51 is lower by a predetermined amount than a height of the first guide portion 55. A plate thickness of the connecting wall 63 is equal to or slightly thinner than that of the plate ribe 61, and as shown in FIG. 6, a height of the connecting wall 63 from the annular plate portion 51 is further lower by a predetermined amount than each of the plate ribs 61a, 61b and 61c. The reason the respective heights of the above components from the annular plate portion 51 are lower in order of the first guide portion 55, the plate rib 61, and the connecting wall 63 is that, when the flat cable 3 is curved, since the flat cable 3 makes contact with the first guide portion 55, the plate rib 61, and the connecting wall 63 in that order, the component having a high possibility of the sliding contact is set higher in height and the component having a low possibility of the sliding contact is set lower in height also in consideration of the light-weighing. The inner end of each plate rib 61 touching the third circle E3 is provided with a columnar portion 62 which has a diameter sufficiently smaller than the outer peripheral surface of the inner guide rib 56 in the first guide portion 55 and a plate thickness of which is slightly larger than that of the plate rib 61. An outer end of each plate rib 61 touching the fourth circle E4 is also provided with a columnar portion 62 similar to the above. The connecting portion 63 is connected in close proximity to the columnar portion 62 as the inner end of the plate rib 61, and is formed in an arc shape to be concentric with the annular plate portion 51.

    [0024] It should be noted that in the second guide portion 60a adjacent to an upper side of the roller 45 particularly in FIG. 4 among the second guide portions 60, a curved rib 65a instead of a plate rib 61c in close proximity to the roller 45 rises from the annular plate portion 51. The curved rib 65a has an arc surface 66a substantial concentric with the roller 45 and spaced by a predetermined interval from the outer peripheral of wall the roller 45. The curved rib 65a has an inner end touching the third circle E3 and an outer end at a slightly inner side from the second circle E2 respectively folded back in a direction opposite to the roller 45. The flat cable 3 is put through the predetermined interval between the curved rib 62a and the roller 45, wherein a reverse part of the flat cable 3 is formed. FIG. 4 shows the flat cable 3 in a two-dot chain line.

    [0025] In addition, in the second guide portion 60b adjacent to a lower side of the roller 45 in FIG. 4 among the second guide portions 60, a curved rib 65b instead of a plate rib 61b in close proximity to the roller 45 rises from the annular plate portion 51. The curved rib 65b has an arc surface 66b concentric with the roller 45 and spaced by a predetermined interval from the outer peripheral surface of the roller 45. The predetermined interval between the arc surface 66b and the roller 45 is set narrower than the predetermined interval between the upper curved rib 65a (arc surface 66a)and the roller 45 because the flat cable 3 is not put through the interval between the arc surface 66b and the roller 45. On the other hand, an outer end of the curved rib 65b is connected in a folding-back direction to an arc wall 67 of a relatively large diameter similar to the outer guide rib 57 of the first guide portion 55.

    [0026] As described above, the flat cable 3 is regulated to the route substantially fixed along the inner cylindrical portion 17 of the liner 15 and the inner wall 32 of the case 31 to be not shifted largely from the route. Therefore the indicator showing a neutral position in a rotational range of the rotor 5 to the stator 30 can be provided on the spacer or the like, which can be used as a reliable index on assembling.

    [0027] A lightening hole 68 is formed outside of the second guide portion 60 in the annular plate portion 51 of the spacer 50. The lightening hole 68 is configured between the first guide portions 55 such that an inner edge thereof touches the outer end of the plate rib 61 and an outer edge thereof extends in the circumferential direction to leave a predetermined width in an outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion 51. A length of the lightening hole 68 is longer than the circumferential length between both of the plate ribs 61b and 61c in the second guide portion 60 except for a section adjacent to the roller 45. The section of the lightening hole 68 adjacent to the roller 45 differs in a point where an end of the lightening hole 68 in a side of the roller 45 terminates to the curved rib 65a or 65b opposing the roller 45, and the other part of the lightening hole 68 is the same as the other section not adjacent to the roller 45.

    [0028] In the present embodiment, the base portion 52 and the pin 53 form part of the roller support portion in the present invention. In addition, the lightening hole 59 corresponds to a first lightening hole, and the lightening hole 68 corresponds to a second lightening hole.

    [0029] The present embodiment is configured as described above, wherein in the rotational connector device where the flat cable 3 is accommodated in the annular space S between the rotor 5 and the stator 30 in a state where the winding direction of the flat cable 3 is reversed in the middle by the roller 45, only the single roller 45 is rotatably supported by the base portion 52 and the pin 53 rising from the annular plate portion 51 in the spacer 50 arranged in the annular space S, the spacer 50 comprises the plurality of the first guide portions 55 rising in the axial same direction as the base portion 52 and the pin 53 from the annular plate portion 51 in the spacer 50, the first guide portions 55 are arranged by equal intervals in the circumferential direction to sandwich the support portion of the roller 45 on the annular plate portion 51, each first guide portion 55 comprises the inner guide rib 56 having the curved surface of the semicircle projecting inwards in the inner peripheral side of the annular plate portion 51 and the outer guide de rib 57 having the curved surface of the semicircle projecting outwards in the outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion 51, and the lightening hole 59 is formed between the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 in each of the first guide portions in the annular plate portion 51. With this configuration, since the roller 45 is provided as a single one for the reverse section of the flat cable 3 to eliminate the number of components and the other roller conventionally required is replaced by the first guide portion 55 integral with the annular plate portion 51, costs and assembling labors and hours can be reduced.

    [0030] In addition, the first guide portion 55 is not formed in a framed shape closed in the entire circumference, but is divided into the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 and the intermediate section thereof is removed. Therefore the spacer 50 is reduced in weight corresponding to the removal. In addition, the region in the annular plate portion 51 sandwiched by the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 forms part of the lightening hole 59 to further reduce the weight. That is, since the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 each have the curved surface, even when the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 are arranged to be spaced independently from each other, the rib itself has high rigidity to increase the rigidity of a hole edge in the lightening hole 59, and the light weight is realized. As a result, the sliding resistance at the rotating of the spacer 50 is reduced, thereby suppressing the buckling of the flat cable 3.

    [0031] In addition, since the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 in the first guide portion 55 are connected by the single tension wall 58, the first guide portion 55 still has an advantage of the light weight as compared to the frame shape closed in the entire circumference, as well as the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 are prevented from falling down in the radial direction of the annular plate portion 51. That is, for example, by setting the indicator, the confirmation of the rotational neutral position of the rotor 5 on assembling is easy to be made, but just in case where the rotational connector is assembled at the wrong neutral position in the steering wheel, the room for reeling out the flat cable 3 from a side of the inner cylindrical portion 17 or a side of the inner wall 32 in the annular space S disappears in the middle of the rotating of the rotor 5. Therefore when the rotor 5 is forcibly rotated, the flat cable 3 results in being subjected to a large tension force. As a result, the inner guide rib 56 or the outer guide rib 57 making contact with the flat cable 3 is subjected to a force for falling down the rib. When the inner guide rib 56 or the outer guide rib 57 falls down, the flat cable 3 having been subjected to the large tension force slips, and there is a possibility that the assembling state of the rotor 5 and the stator 30 forming the annular space S will be damaged due to the impact. The configuration that the tension wall 58 prevents the inner guide rib 56 and the outer guide rib 57 from falling down is particularly effective for overcoming such a state.

    [0032] Further, the second guide portion 60 provided with the plate ribs 61 extending from the inner peripheral side to the outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion 51 is provided between the first guide portions 55 along the circumferential direction of the annular plate portion 51 in the spacer 50, and the inner end edge of the plate rib 61 is positioned outwards by a predetermined amount from the first circle E1 concentric with the annular plate portion 51 and making internal contact with each guide rib 56 of the first guide portions 55. Therefore the flat cable 3 the route of which is regulated by the fist guide portion 55 does not regularly make contact with the second guide portion 60, but just in case where the flat cable 3 is deflected to be shifted to the side between the inner guide ribs 56 of the first guide portions 55, the flat cable 3 makes contact with the inner end of the plate rib 61 to prevent the shift, thereby preventing the buckling of the flat cable 3.

    [0033] In addition, the plate rib 61 rises from the annular plate portion 51, and thereby the plane rigidity of the annular plate portion 51 also improves.

    [0034] Particularly the plural plate ribs 61 are provided in
    the circumferential direction between the inner guide ribs 56, and are connected by the connecting walls 63. Therefore the clearance between the first guide portions 55 is densely buried, and as a result, the shift of the flat cable 3 is certainly blocked and the plane rigidity of the annular plate portion 51 also further improves. In addition, the connecting walls 63 certainly block for the flat cable 3 to be shifted to the side between the plate ribs 61a, 61b and 61c. Further, since the inner end of the plate rib 61 together with the outer end is formed as the columnar portion 62 having the curved surface, the sliding resistance generated at the time the plate rib 61 makes contact with the flat cable 3 can be made small, and there is no possibility of damaging the flat cable 3.

    [0035] Further, the annular plate portion 51 is provided with the lightening hole 68 formed in a predetermined range outward of the second guide portion 60 and inward of the outer periphery in the annular plate portion 51. Therefore the spacer 50 can be made lighter in weight and the sliding resistance to the flat cable 3 can be reduced. In addition, also by making the spacer 50 of plastic having high lubricating properties, the sliding resistance can be reduced, preventing occurrence of sliding contact noises with the flat cable 3, the stator 30 or the like.

    Description of Reference Signs



    [0036] 
    1
    ROTATIONAL CONNECTOR DEVICE
    3
    FLAT CABLE
    5
    ROTOR
    6
    ROTOR BODY
    7
    DISC PORTION
    8
    CYLINDRICAL PORTION
    9
    THROUGH HOLE
    10
    ENLARGED DIAMETER PORTION
    11
    GROOVE
    12
    ENGAGEMENT HOLE
    13
    ENGAGEMENT PORTION
    15
    LINER
    16
    CEILING PLATE PORTION
    17
    INNER CYLINDRICAL PORTION
    18
    HOOK NAIL
    19
    REDUCED DIAMETER PORTION
    20
    ENLARGED DIAMETER PORTION
    23
    ROTOR ATTACHMENT
    24
    FITTING PORTION
    25
    FLANGE
    30
    STATOR
    31
    CASE
    32
    INNER WALL
    33
    OUTER WALL
    34
    CONNECTING PORTION
    35
    RETAINING FLANGE
    36
    ENLARGED DIAMETER PORTION
    40
    BOTTOM COVER
    41
    DISC PORTION
    42
    FITTING WALL
    45
    ROLLER
    50
    SPACER
    51
    ANNULAR PLATE PORTION
    52
    BASE PORTION
    53
    PIN
    54
    NAIL
    55
    FIRST GUIDE PORTION
    56
    INNER GUIDE RIB
    57
    OUTER GUIDE RIB
    58
    TENSION WALL
    59, 68
    LIGHTENING HOLE
    60, 60a, 60b
    SECOND GUIDE PORTION
    61, 61a, 61b, 61c
    PLATE RIB
    62
    COLUMNAR PORTION
    63
    CONNECTING WALL
    65a, 65b
    CURVED RIB
    66a, 66b
    ARC SURFACE
    67
    ARK WALL
    E1
    FIRST CIRCLE
    E2
    SECOND CIRCLE
    E3
    THIRD CIRCLE
    E4
    FOURTH CIRCLE
    S
    ANNULAR SPACE



    Claims

    1. A rotational connector device comprising:

    a rotor (5);

    a stator (30) forming an annular space (S) between the
    rotor and
    the stator;

    a spacer (50) rotatably arranged in the annular space
    (S) ;

    a single roller (45) supported by the spacer (50); and

    a flat cable (3) of which both sides are reeled outside of the annular space (S) via the rotor and the stator, the flat cable (3) being accommodated in the annular space in a state where a winding direction thereof is reversed in the middle by the roller, wherein

    the spacer (50) comprises:

    an annular plate portion (51);

    a roller support portion (52) provided on the annular plate portion (51); and

    a plurality of first guide portions (55) provided on the annular plate portion (51), the roller support portion (52) and the first guide portions (55) respectively rising in the axial same direction on the annular plate portion,

    wherein
    the roller support portion (52) rotatably supports the
    roller, the first guide portions (55) are arranged to
    be spaced in the
    circumferential direction to sandwich the roller support portion (52) therebetween on the annular plate portion (51), each first guide portion (55) comprising an inner guide rib (56) having a curved surface projecting inwards in an inner peripheral side of the annular plate portion and an outer guide rib (57) having a curved surface projecting outwards in an outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion,
    characterized in that
    the annular plate portion (51) is provided with a first lightening hole (59) formed between the inner guide rib (56) and the outer guide rib (57) in each of the first guide portions (55), and
    in the first guide portion (55), the inner guide rib (56) and the outer guide rib (57) are connected by a single tension wall (58).
     
    2. A rotational connector device according to claim 1,
    characterized in that the connector device further
    comprises:

    a second guide portion (60) provided between the first guide portions (55) along a circumferential direction of the annular plate portion (51), the second guide portion being provided with a plate rib (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) extending from an inner peripheral side to an outer peripheral side of the annular plate portion, and

    an inner end edge of the plate rib (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) being positioned outwards by a predetermined amount from an internal contact circle concentric with the annular plate portion and touching each of the inner guide ribs (56) of the first guide portions.


     
    3. A rotational connector device according to claim 2, characterized in that
    the second guide portion (60) includes a plurality of the plate ribs (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) in the circumferential direction, and
    the plurality of the plate ribs (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) are connected by circumferential connecting walls.
     
    4. A rotational connector device according to claim 2
    or 3, characterized in that
    at least an inner end edge of the plate rib (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) in the second guide portion (60) is formed in a curved surface.
     
    5. A rotational connector device according to any of claims 2 to 4, characterized in that
    the annular plate portion (51) is provided with a second lightening hole (68) formed in a predetermined range outward of the second guide portion (60) and inward of an outer periphery of the annular plate portion (51).
     
    6. A rotational connector device according to any of claims 1 to 5, characterized in that
    the spacer (50) is made of plastic having high lubricating properties.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung aufweisend:

    einen Rotor (5);

    einen Stator (30), der eine Ringraum (S) zwischen dem Rotor und dem Stator bildet;

    einen Abstandshalter (50), der drehbar in dem Ringraum (S) angeordnet ist;

    eine einzige Rolle (45), die von dem Abstandshalter (50) gehalten wird; und

    ein flaches Kabel (3), von dem beide Seiten außerhalb des Ringraums (S) durch den Rotor und den Stator aufgewickelt sind, wobei das flache Kabel (3) in dem Ringraum in einem Zustand aufgenommen ist, in dem dessen Wicklungsrichtung in der Mitte der Rolle umgekehrt ist, wobei
    der Abstandshalter (50) aufweist:

    einen ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitt (51);

    einen Befestigungsabschnitt (52) für die Rolle, der an dem ringförmigen,

    plattenförmigen Abschnitt (51) vorgesehen ist; und

    eine Mehrzahl von ersten Führungsabschnitten (55), die an dem ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitt (51) vorgesehen sind, wobei der Befestigungsabschnitt (52) für die Rolle und die ersten Führungsabschnitte (55) sich auf dem ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitt jeweils in dieselbe axiale Richtung erheben,

    wobei
    der Befestigungsabschnitt (52) für die Rolle die Rolle drehbar trägt, wobei die ersten Führungsabschnitte (55) in Umfangsrichtung im Abstand zueinander angeordnet sind, um den Befestigungsabschnitt (52) für die Rolle auf dem ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitt (51) dazwischen aufzunehmen, jeder erste Führungsabschnitt (55) eine innere Führungsrippe (56) mit einer gebogenen Oberfläche, die sich an einer inneren Umfangsseite des ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitts (51) nach Innen erstreckt, und eine äußere Führungsrippe (56) mit einer gebogenen Oberfläche, die sich an einer äußeren Umfangsseite des ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitts (51) nach Außen erstreckt, aufweist,
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    der ringförmige, plattenförmige Abschnitt (51) mit einer ersten Beleuchtungsöffnung (59), die zwischen der innere Führungsrippe (56) und der äußeren Führungsrippe (57) in jedem der ersten Führungsabschnitte (55) vorgesehen ist, und
    in den ersten Führungsabschnitten (55) die innere Führungsrippe (56) und die äußere Führungsrippe (57) mit einer einzigen Spannwand (58) miteinander verbunden sind.
     
    2. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Verbindervorrichtung ferner aufweist:

    einen zweiten Führungsabschnitt (60), der zwischen den ersten Führungsabschnitten (55) entlang einer Umfangsrichtung des ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitts (51) vorgesehen ist, wobei der zweite Führungsabschnitt (60) mit einer plattenförmigen Rippe (61, 61 a, 61 b, 61 c), die sich von einer inneren Umfangsseite zu einer äußeren Umfangsseite erstreckt, versehen ist, und

    eine innere Endkante der plattenförmigen Rippe (61, 61 a, 61 b, 61 c) in einem vorgegebenen Abstand außerhalb eines inneren Kontaktkreises konzentrisch mit dem ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitt angeordnet ist und jede der inneren Führungsrippen (56) der ersten Führungsabschnitte (55) berührt.


     
    3. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung nach Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der zweite Führungsabschnitt (60) eine Mehrzahl von plattenförmigen Rippen (61, 61 a, 61 b, 61 c) in Umfangsrichtung umfasst, und
    die Mehrzahl von plattenförmigen Rippen (61, 61 a, 61 b, 61 c) durch umfangsmäßige Verbindungswände miteinander verbunden sind.
     
    4. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung nach Anspruch 2 oder 3, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass wenigstens eine innere Endkante einer plattenförmigen Rippe (61, 61 a, 61 b, 61 c) in dem zweiten Führungsabschnitt (60) als eine gebogene Fläche ausgebildet ist.
     
    5. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung nach einem der Ansprüche 2 bis 4, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der ringförmige, plattenförmige Abschnitt (51) mit einer zweiten Beleuchtungsöffnung (68) versehen ist, die in einem vorgegebenen Abstand außerhalb des zweiten Führungsabschnitts (60) und innerhalb eines Außenumfangs des ringförmigen, plattenförmigen Abschnitts (51) ausgebildet ist.
     
    6. Eine Drehverbindervorrichtung nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Abstandsstück (50) aus einem Kunststoff mit hohen Schmiereigenschaften besteht.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de raccord rotatif comprenant :

    un rotor (5) ;

    un stator (30) formant un espace annulaire (S) entre le rotor et le stator ;

    un écarteur (50) agencé de manière rotative dans l'espace annulaire (S) ;

    un rouleau simple (45) supporté par l'écarteur (50) ; et

    un câble plat (3) dont les deux côtés sont enroulés à l'extérieur de l'espace annulaire (S) via le rotor et le stator, le câble plat (3) étant logé dans l'espace annulaire dans un état où une direction d'enroulement de celui-ci est inversée au milieu par le rouleau, dans lequel l'écarteur (50) comprend :

    une partie de plaque annulaire (51) ;

    une partie de support de rouleau (52) située sur la partie de plaque annulaire (51) ; et

    une pluralité de premières parties de guidage (55) situées sur la partie de plaque annulaire (51), la partie de support de rouleau (52) et les premières parties de guidage (55) s'élevant respectivement dans la même direction axiale sur la partie de plaque annulaire, dans lequel la partie de support de rouleau (52) supporte de manière rotative le rouleau, les premières parties de guidage (55) sont agencées pour être espacées dans la direction circonférentielle pour prendre en sandwich la partie de support de rouleau (52) entre elles sur la partie de plaque annulaire (51), chaque première partie de guidage (55) comprenant une nervure de guidage intérieure (56) ayant une surface incurvée se projetant vers l'intérieur dans un côté périphérique intérieur de la partie de plaque annulaire et une nervure de guidage extérieure (57) ayant une surface incurvée se projetant vers l'extérieur dans un côté périphérique extérieur de la partie de plaque annulaire,

    caractérisé en ce que
    la partie de plaque annulaire (51) est pourvue d'un premier trou d'allègement (59) formé entre la nervure de guidage intérieure (56) et la nervure de guidage extérieure (57) dans chacune des premières parties de guidage (55), et
    dans la première partie de guidage (55), la nervure de guidage intérieure (56) et la nervure de guidage extérieure (57) sont raccordées par une paroi de tension simple (58).
     
    2. Dispositif de raccord rotatif selon la revendication 1,
    caractérisé en ce que le dispositif de raccord comprend en outre :

    une deuxième partie de guidage (60) située entre les premières parties de guidage (55) le long d'une direction circonférentielle de la partie de plaque annulaire (51), la deuxième partie de guidage étant pourvue d'une nervure de plaque (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) s'étendant d'un côté périphérique intérieur au côté périphérique extérieur de la partie de plaque annulaire, et

    un bord d'extrémité intérieur de la nervure de plaque (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) étant positionné vers l'extérieur d'une quantité prédéterminée depuis un cercle de contact interne concentrique avec la partie de plaque annulaire et touchant chacune des nervures de guidage intérieures (56) des premières parties de guidage.


     
    3. Dispositif de raccord rotatif selon la revendication 2, caractérisé en ce que
    la deuxième partie de guidage (60) comprend une pluralité des nervures de plaque (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) dans la direction circonférentielle, et
    la pluralité des nervures de plaque (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) sont raccordées par des parois de raccordement circonférentielles.
     
    4. Dispositif de raccord rotatif selon la revendication 2 ou 3, caractérisé en ce que au moins un bord d'extrémité intérieur de la nervure de plaque (61, 61a, 61b, 61c) dans la deuxième partie de guidage (60) est formé dans une surface incurvée.
     
    5. Dispositif de raccord rotatif selon l'une quelconque des revendications 2 à 4, caractérisé en ce que
    la partie de plaque annulaire (51) est pourvue d'un deuxième trou d'allègement (68) formé dans une plage prédéterminée vers l'extérieur de la deuxième partie de guidage (60) et vers l'intérieur d'une périphérie extérieure de la partie de plaque annulaire (51).
     
    6. Dispositif de raccord rotatif selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, caractérisé en ce que
    l'écarteur (50) est composé de plastique présentant des propriétés de lubrifications élevées.
     




    Drawing















    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description