(19)
(11)EP 2 792 825 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
26.04.2017 Bulletin 2017/17

(21)Application number: 14001962.1

(22)Date of filing:  06.06.2007
(51)Int. Cl.: 
E05B 47/00  (2006.01)
E05B 81/90  (2014.01)
E05B 15/00  (2006.01)
E05B 81/14  (2014.01)
E05B 83/16  (2014.01)

(54)

Shaped memory alloy actuator

Formgedächtnislegierung-Aktuator

Actionneur en alliage à mémoire de forme


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MT NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 06.06.2006 US 811216 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
22.10.2014 Bulletin 2014/43

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
07719918.0 / 2032788

(73)Proprietor: Magna Closures Inc.
Newmarket, ON L3Y 4X7 (CA)

(72)Inventors:
  • Niskanen, Jason David
    Keswick, Ontario L4P 3E9 (CA)
  • Mrkovic, Dragan
    Newmarket, Ontario L3X 2W2 (CA)
  • Daniels, Andrew R.
    Sharon, Ontario L0G 1V0 (CA)

(74)Representative: Glawe, Delfs, Moll 
Partnerschaft mbB von Patent- und Rechtsanwälten Postfach 13 03 91
20103 Hamburg
20103 Hamburg (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 516 773
US-A1- 2005 092 045
US-A- 4 484 955
  
      
    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

    Field of the Invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to vehicle latches. More specifically, the present invention relates to latches that use a shaped memory alloy (SMA) actuator to release the latch.

    Background of the Invention



    [0002] Existing power release solutions for vehicles occupy substantial space in the vehicle to facilitate the actuator and release mechanism. Today's systems often comprise of many parts resulting in a complex and complicated construction. For example, in power-operated systems such as power release decklid latch, power actuators are utilized to perform the desired function(s). These systems employ electrical motors, speed reducing gear sets, clutches, etc. Such powered systems tend to be complex and costly.

    [0003] One method of simplifying latch construction is to use SMA wire to actuate the latch instead of traditional actuators. However, SMA wire does not always provide a satisfactory response level, given the cooling times required. Existing SMA flexible cable decklid release mechanisms with traditional binary (Ni-Ti) SMA wire exhibit longer cooling times at elevated operating temperatures within the specified automotive temperature range of -40C and +80C.

    [0004] It is therefore desirable to provide an actuating device to selectively enable manually or remotely controlled actuation in vehicle environment, which is simple, reliable and economical. It is further desirable to provide an actuating device which is fast and reliable, It is also desirable to save space and allow a smaller packing envelope by using a SMA actuator instead of conventional technology. Document EP 1 516 773 A1 discloses a release device for a component of a motor-vehicle seat comprising a shape-memory actuator which can be actuated either electrically or manually as a tie-rod.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0005] According to the invention there is provided an actuator. The actuator includes a plate and an actuating member, movably mounted to the plate and operable to be moved between a first position and a second position. A selectively-contractible wire formed from a shape memory alloy is connected to the actuating member and is operable to move the actuating member to one of the first and second positions from the other of the first and second positions to activate the actuator. At least one portion of the selectively-contractible wire has been annealed to reduce its ability to selectively contract. A transitional region of the wire situated proximate to the annealed portion of the wire is partially annealed to provide strain relief.

    [0006] Preferably, the plate is a latch plate with a ratchet rotatably mounted to the latch plate and is pivotal between a released position and an engaged position operable to retain a striker. The actuating member is a pawl which is rotatably mounted to the latch plate and is pivotal between an engaged position operable to retain the ratchet, and a release position operable to allow the ratchet to pivot. An selectively-contractible wire is connected to the pawl by a lost motion connection and is operable to move the pawl to the release position when contracted to actuate the latch.

    [0007] Preferably, a controller is provided to selectively contract the selectively contractible wire to actuate the latch. At least one multiple material crimp connects the controller to the to the selectively-contractible wire. The multi material crimp includes an inner crimp made of a first material in contact with the selectively-contractible wire and an outer crimp made of a second material.

    [0008] This invention provides a simple actuator to power release a decklid latch or other such device, with reduced number of elements, is reliable and is economical to produce.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0009] Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the attached Figures, wherein:

    Figure 1 shows an isometric view of a latch including a shaped memory actuator, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

    Figure 2 shows a top plan view of the latch shown in Fig.1 where the latch plate has been removed; and

    Figure 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a SMA wire and crimp on the latch shown in Fig. 1


    Detailed Description of the Invention



    [0010] Referring now to Figs. 1 and 2, an SMA actuator is shown generally at 10. In the presently-illustrated embodiment, SMA actuator 10 is adapted to provide both powered and manual release for a decklid latch 12. Latch 12 includes a latch plate 14 formed to include two mounting flanges 16 and a recessed portion 18. A web portion 20 interconnects each of mounting flanges 16 with recessed portion 18. A cover plate 22 is mounted over at least a portion of recessed portion 18 to form a compartment therebetween. A frusto-trapezoidal channel, referred to as a "fishmouth" 26 bisects both recessed portion 18 and cover plate 22. Fishmouth 26 is designed to receive a striker (not shown).

    [0011] Cover plate 22 is secured to plate 14 via fasteners 27 and 28. Within recessed portion 18, a ratchet 30 is rotatably mounted to fastener 27 and an actuating member 32, e.g. a pawl 32 is rotatably mounted to fastener 28. Ratchet 30 is pivotable between an "engagement" position, and a "released" position. The angular travel of ratchet 30 is delimited by a surface 34 on ratchet 30 abutting against a sidewall 36 on plate 18 (the released position), and an overslam bumper 38 on ratchet 30 abutting against sidewall 36. When a striker (not shown) enters fishmouth 26tt, it rotates ratchet 30 towards the engagement position. A ratchet spring (not shown) urges ratchet 30 towards the released position. Rotating ratchet 30 towards the engagements positions compresses the ratchet spring.

    [0012] As mentioned earlier, pawl 32 is rotatably mounted to fastener 28 and is pivotal between an "engage" position and a "release position". In the currently-illustrated embodiment, pawl 32 is generally L-shaped, having a first arm 42 and a second arm 44 extending radially from fastener 28. Those of skill in the art will recognize that other embodiments of pawl 32 are within the scope of the art. A ratchet shoulder 46 is provided on first arm 42 to retain ratchet 30 in its engaged position. Pawl 32 is biased towards the engage position by at pawl spring (not shown). As ratchet 30 pivots from its released position to the engaged position, a pivot surface 48 on the ratchet engages a pivot surface 50 on first arm 42, thereby pivoting pawl 32 towards the release position. Once pivot surfaces 48 and 50 pass each other, pawl 32 rotates back to its engage position so that ratchet shoulder 46 on the pawl catches a tooth 52, retaining ratchet 30 in its engaged position.

    [0013] Latch 12 is electrically actuated via pivoting between its locked and unlocked position via a selectively contractible wire, namely SMA wire 56. SMA wire 56 is formed from a either a binary or ternary shape memory alloy. Preferably, a ternary shape memory alloy comprising nickel, titanium and either palladium or hafnium is used. Depending on the amount of contraction required, only a portion of SMA wire 56 needs to actually be made of a SMA alloy, and the rest can be a less-costly traditional conductive wire. Preferably, a heat-sinking material (not shown) has been extruded over SMA wire 56 as to reduce its cooling time. Also preferably, SMA wire 56 is protected by a non-conductive sheath 58 that is secured at one end to latch plate 14 by a connector 59, and at the other end to a clip 60. Clip 60 is mounted to the decklid or trim panel (neither shown) so that sheath 58 is securely fastened. SMA wire 56 is electrically connected to a pair of terminals 62 and 64 via crimps 63 (Fig. 3) so that SMA wire 56 forms part of a circuit. In the currently illustrated embodiment, terminals 62 and 64 are located within clip 60; however, the invention is not particularly limited and terminals 62 and 64 could be located elsewhere on SMA actuator 10 or located nearby on the vehicle. In their rest state each of the terminals 62 and 64 are connected to a voltage source (typically the vehicle battery). In order to actuate pawl 32, a controller (not shown) selectively connects one of the terminals 62 or 64 to ground, causing the SMA wire 56 to contract.

    [0014] A lost motion connector such as loop 66 is crimped or otherwise fastened to the other end portion 65 of SMA wire 56. A pin 68 extending from second arm 44 on pawl 32 is located within a slot on loop 66, providing a lost motion connection between SMA wire 56 and pawl 32. It will thus be evident that contracting SMA wire 56 thus actuates pawl 32 to the release position. One end of a SMA return spring 69 is attached to loop 66, so that SMA wire 56 is subsequently stretched back to its original length after actuation.

    [0015] A manual release loop 70 is present at the end of first arm 42 and is operable to be attached to a key cylinder (not shown) via a rod or cable (also not shown). Thus, in case of electrical failure, latch 12 can still be released manually. As pawl 32 is pivoted manually, pin 68 is able to move generally within loop 66 with minimal interference, and not compressing, bending or damaging SMA wire 56. Portions 72 of SMA wire 56 have been annealed as to reduce their brittleness and resist breakage. Referring now to Figure 3, an annealed portion 72 of SMA wire 56 is described in greater detail. Annealed portion 72 is created by heating the desired region for a predetermined length of time in order to destroy the crystalline structure providing the shaped memory properties. Thus, annealed portion 72 does not contract when the rest of SMA wire 56 contracts. The length of time required to create annealed portion 72 is determined by the thickness of the SMA wire 56, the length of the wire to be annealed and the alloy composition of the wire. During the annealing process, according to the invention, a transitional region 74 is formed adjacent the annealed portion 72 in the remainder of the SMA wire. The transitional region 74 is partially annealed, but retains a portion of the shaped memory characteristics. The transitional region provides strain relief and helps reduce breakage of SMA wire 56. Presently, the end portions 65 of SMA wire 56 are annealed, but other portions that undergo higher levels of strain could be hardened as well.

    [0016] As mentioned earlier, SMA wire 56 is electrically connected using crimps 63. Crimps 63 are mounted over annealed portions 72 at the two ends of SMA wire 56 (i.e., within clip 60 and at loop 66). Preferably, crimps 63 are multiple material crimps. Each crimp 63 has a softer inner crimp 76 made of material such as copper or aluminum that is mounted directly to SMA wire 56 in order to reduce stress on the wire. A harder material such as steel is used for the outer crimp 78. A wire 80 is connected to SMA wire 56 within inner crimp 76 to connect SMA wire 56 to one of the electrical terminals 62 and 64.

    [0017] This invention provides a simple actuator to power release a decklid latch or other such device, with reduced number of elements, and economical to produce.


    Claims

    1. An actuator, comprising:

    a plate (14);

    an actuating member (32), movably mounted to the plate (14) and operable to be moved between a first position and a second position;

    a selectively-contractible wire (56) formed from a shape memory alloy connected to the actuating member (32) and operable to move the actuating member (32) to one of the first and second positions from the other of the first and second positions to activate the actuator;

    characterized in that at least one portion (72) of the selectively-contractible wire (56) is annealed to reduce its ability to selectively contract, whereby a transitional region (74) of the wire (56) situated proximate to the annealed portion (72) of the wire is partially annealed to provide strain relief.


     
    2. An actuator according to claim 1, characterized in that the selectively-contractible wire (56) is fastened to an external element by a connector (60) at the annealed portion (72) of the wire (56).
     
    3. An actuator according to claim 2, characterized in that the connector(60) includes a multiple material crimp (63) attached to the selectively-contractible wire (56), the multi material crimp (63) including an inner crimp (76) made of a first material in contact with the annealed portion (72) of the selectively-contractible wire (56) and an outer crimp (78) made of a second material, wherein the first material is softer than the second material.
     
    4. An actuator according to anyone of claims 1 to 3, wherein the plate is a latch plate (14) and further comprising a ratchet (30), pivotably mounted to the latch plate (14) and rotatable between a released position and an engaged position operable to retain a striker; and wherein the actuating member is a pawl (32), pivotably mounted to the latch plate (14) and rotatable between an engaged position operable to retain the ratchet (30), and a released position in which the ratchet is allowed to rotate, wherein the selectively-contractible wire (56) is connected to the pawl (32) by a lost motion connection (66, 68), the wire (56) being operable to move the pawl (32) to the released position when the wire (56) is contracted.
     
    5. An actuator according to claim 4, characterized in that the lost motion connection includes a connector (66) mounted to an end of the selectively-contractible wire (56), the connector (66) having a slot, and wherein a pin (68) extends from the pawl and is slidably located within the slot.
     
    6. An actuator according to claim 5, characterized in that a return spring (69) is connected between the latch plate (14) and the connector (66), the return spring (69) urging the selectively-contractible wire (56) to extend.
     
    7. An actuator according to claim 6, characterized in that the pawl (32) includes a manual release loop (70) for connecting the pawl (32) to a means for manually rotating the pawl to the released position, whereby the pin (68) moves freely within the connector slot (66) when the pawl (32) is moved between the released position and the engaged position.
     
    8. An actuator according to anyone of claims 4 to 7, characterized in that the selectively contractible wire (56) is formed at least partially from a ternary shape memory alloy.
     
    9. An actuator according to anyone of claims 4 to 8, characterized in that a clip (60) is mounted to the selectively contractible wire (56), the clip including at least one terminal to electrically connect an end of the selectively contractible wire to a power supply.
     
    10. An actuator according to anyone of claims 1 to 9, characterized in that the selectively contractible wire (56) is covered by a heat-dispersing material.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Aktor, umfassend:

    eine Platte (14);

    ein Betätigungselement (32), das beweglich an die Platte (14) montiert ist und geeignet ist, um zwischen einer ersten Position und einer zweiten Position bewegt zu werden;

    ein selektiv zusammenziehbarer Draht (56), der aus einer Formgedächtnislegierung gebildet ist und mit dem Betätigungselement (32) verbunden ist und geeignet ist, um das Betätigungselement (32) entweder zur ersten oder zur zweiten Position aus der jeweils anderen der ersten und der zweiten Position zu bewegen, um den Aktor zu aktivieren;

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass mindestens ein Teil (72) des selektiv zusammenziehbaren Drahts (56) getempert ist, um seine Fähigkeit zum selektiven Zusammenziehen zu verringern, wobei ein Übergangsgebiet (74) des Drahts (56), das in der Nähe des getemperten Teils (72) des Drahts liegt, teilweise getempert ist, um eine Zugentlastung bereitzustellen.


     
    2. Aktor nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der selektiv zusammenziehbare Draht (56) mithilfe eines Verbindungselements (60) an dem getemperten Teil (72) des Drahts (56) mit einem externen Element fest verbunden ist.
     
    3. Aktor nach Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Verbindungselement (60) eine Krause aus mehreren Materialien (63) umfasst, die an dem selektiv zusammenziehbaren Draht (56) befestigt ist, wobei die Krause aus mehreren Materialien (63) eine innere Krause (76), die aus einem ersten Material hergestellt ist, das in Kontakt mit dem getemperten Teil (72) des selektiv zusammenziehbaren Drahts (56) steht, und eine äußere Krause (78) umfasst, die aus einem zweiten Material hergestellt ist, wobei das erste Material weicher als das zweite Material ist.
     
    4. Aktor nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei die Platte eine Riegelplatte (14) ist und außerdem umfasst:

    eine Sperrvorrichtung (30), die schwenkbar an der Riegelplatte (14) montiert ist und zwischen einer freien Position und einer eingerasteten Position drehbar ist und geeignet ist, um eine Schlagvorrichtung zurückzuhalten; und

    wobei das Betätigungselement eine Sperrklinke (32) ist, die schwenkbar an der Riegelplatte (14) montiert ist und zwischen einer eingerasteten Position, die geeignet ist, um die Sperrvorrichtung (30) zurückzuhalten, und einer freien Position drehbar ist, in welcher der Sperrvorrichtung erlaubt ist, sich zu drehen, wobei der selektiv zusammenziehbare Draht (56) durch eine Totgangverbindung (66, 68) mit der Sperrklinke (32) verbunden ist, wobei der Draht (56) geeignet ist, um die Sperrklinke (32) in die freie Position zu bewegen, wenn der Draht (56) zusammengezogen ist.


     
    5. Aktor nach Anspruch 4, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Totgangverbindung ein Verbindungselement (66) umfasst, dass an ein Ende des selektiv zusammenziehbaren Drahts (56) montiert ist, wobei das Verbindungselement (66) einen Schlitz aufweist, und wobei sich ein Stift (68) von der Sperrklinke erstreckt und verschiebbar innerhalb des Schlitzes angebracht ist.
     
    6. Aktor nach Anspruch 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass eine Rückstellfeder (69) zwischen der Riegelplatte (14) und dem Verbindungselement (66) angeordnet ist, wobei die Rückstellfeder (69) den selektiv zusammenziehbaren Draht (56) zwingt, sich auszudehnen.
     
    7. Aktor nach Anspruch 6, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Sperrklinke (32) einen manuellen Freigabering (70) umfasst, um die Sperrklinke (32) mit einem Element zum manuellen Drehen der Sperrklinke in die freie Position zu verbinden, wobei sich der Stift (68) frei in dem Verbindungselementschlitz (66) bewegt, wenn sich die Sperrklinke (32) zwischen der freien Position und der eingerasteten Position bewegt.
     
    8. Aktor nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 7, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der selektiv zusammenziehbare Draht (56) mindestens teilweise aus einer ternären Formgedächtnislegierung gebildet ist.
     
    9. Aktor nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 8, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass eine Klammer (60) an den selektiv zusammenziehbaren Draht (56) montiert ist, wobei die Klammer mindestens eine Klemme umfasst, um ein Ende des selektiv zusammenziehbaren Drahts mit einer Stromversorgung elektrisch zu verbinden.
     
    10. Aktor nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 9, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der selektiv zusammenziehbare Draht (56) von einem wärmeableitenden Material bedeckt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Actionneur, comprenant :

    une plaque (14) ;

    un organe d'actionnement (32), monté mobile sur la plaque (14) et conçu pour être déplacé entre une première position et une seconde position ;

    un fil sélectivement contractile (56) formé à partir d'un alliage à mémoire de forme, relié à l'organe d'actionnement (32) et servant à déplacer l'organe d'actionnement (32) vers l'une des première ou seconde positions à partir de l'autre des première et seconde positions pour activer l'actionneur ;

    caractérisé en ce qu'au moins une partie (72) du fil sélectivement contractile (56) est recuite pour réduire sa capacité à se contracter sélectivement, une région de transition (74) du fil (56) située à proximité de la partie recuite (72) du fil étant partiellement recuite pour assurer un soulagement de contrainte.


     
    2. Actionneur selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que le fil sélectivement contractile (56) est fixé à un élément externe par un connecteur (60) au niveau de la partie recuite (72) du fil (56).
     
    3. Actionneur selon la revendication 2, caractérisé en ce que le connecteur (60) comprend un sertissage multi-matériau (63) solidaire du fil sélectivement contractile (56), le sertissage multi-matériau (63) comprenant un sertissage intérieur (76) constitué d'un premier matériau en contact avec la partie recuite (72) du fil sélectivement contractile (56) et un sertissage extérieur (78) constitué d'un second matériau, le premier matériau étant plus tendre que le second matériau.
     
    4. Actionneur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel la plaque est une plaque de verrouillage (14) et comprend en outre un rochet (30) monté pivotant sur la plaque de verrouillage (14) et pouvant tourner entre une position libérée et une position engagée servant à retenir une gâche ; et
    dans lequel l'organe d'actionnement est un cliquet (32) monté pivotant sur la plaque de verrouillage (14) et pouvant tourner entre une position engagée servant à retenir le rochet (30) et une position libérée dans laquelle le rochet peut tourner, le fil sélectivement contractile (56) étant relié au cliquet (32) par une liaison à course perdue (66, 68), le fil (56) étant conçu pour déplacer le cliquet (32) vers la position libérée lorsque le fil (56) est contracté.
     
    5. Actionneur selon la revendication 4, caractérisé en ce que la connexion à course perdue comprend un connecteur (66) monté à une extrémité du fil sélectivement contractile (56), le connecteur (66) comportant une fente, et dans lequel un téton (68) s'étend à partir du cliquet et est logé de manière coulissante à l'intérieur de la fente.
     
    6. Actionneur selon la revendication 5, caractérisé en ce qu'un ressort de rappel (69) est connecté entre la plaque de verrouillage (14) et le connecteur (66), le ressort de rappel (69) sollicitant le fil sélectivement contractile (56) en extension.
     
    7. Actionneur selon la revendication 6, caractérisé en ce que le cliquet (32) comprend une boucle de libération manuelle (70) pour relier le cliquet (32) à un moyen permettant de faire tourner manuellement le cliquet jusqu'à la position libérée, moyennant quoi l'axe (68) se déplace librement à l'intérieur de la fente du connecteur (66) lorsque le cliquet (32) est déplacé entre la position libérée et la position engagée.
     
    8. Actionneur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 7, caractérisé en ce que le fil sélectivement contractile (56) est formé au moins partiellement à partir d'un alliage ternaire à mémoire de forme.
     
    9. Actionneur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 8, caractérisé en ce qu'une pince (60) est montée sur le fil sélectivement contractile (56), la pince comprenant au moins une borne pour connecter électriquement une extrémité du fil sélectivement contractile à une alimentation électrique.
     
    10. Actionneur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 9, caractérisé en ce que le fil sélectivement contractile (56) est recouvert d'un matériau dispersant la chaleur.
     




    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