(19)
(11)EP 3 547 465 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
02.10.2019 Bulletin 2019/40

(21)Application number: 19165020.9

(22)Date of filing:  25.03.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H01R 13/641(2006.01)
H01R 11/28(2006.01)
(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
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 26.03.2018 IT 201800003963

(71)Applicant: MTA S.p.A.
26845 Codogno (Lodi) (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • CROTTI, Antonio
    26013 Crema (CR) (IT)
  • ZABAGLIO, Emanuele
    26861 Fombio (LO) (IT)

(74)Representative: Perani & Partners S.p.A. 
Piazza Armando Diaz, 7
20123 Milano
20123 Milano (IT)

  


(54)CLAMP CONNECTOR FOR A CONICAL TERMINAL


(57) A clamp (1) for a male terminal of a power source (4), consisting of a frustoconical body (2) projecting out of a base surface (3) that is part of the source (4) against which it rests with its greatest diameter (D). The clamp comprises at least one first ring-shaped portion (5) with an open section (9) of its circumference. Said first ring-shaped portion (5) has such a diameter that a predetermined radial clearance (G) exists when it axially fits upon said frustoconical body (2), and also has two jaws (7, 8) which axially project out of its circumference and are located at the ends of the open section (9) of the circumference. The jaws (7, 8) are in opposed, spaced-apart relationship and a device (10, 10a) is adapted to cause them to move toward each other to clamp the ring-shaped portion around the frustoconical body (2), by eliminating the radial clearance (G). The clamp comprises at least one first plate-like element (11) associated with said ring-shaped portion (5) of the clamp on the side on which it is inserted onto the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal, which is made of an electrically non-conductive material and has a through hole (12) whose diameter is adapted to create a radial interference with the diameter (D) of the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal proximate to said base surface (3) from which it protrudes.




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a clamp for connecting a power consuming unit to a male terminal of a power source, particularly to the male terminal of a battery preferably for automotive use.

[0002] As used herein, the term male terminal is intended to designate a frustoconical body projecting out of a base surface that is part of the source against which the frustoconical body rests with its greatest diameter, whereas the free end has the smallest diameter.

[0003] Clamps for establishing such connection are known in the art and are conventionally attached to one end of the power cord of the power consuming units to be connected to the power source.

[0004] They comprise at least one ring-shaped portion made of an electrically conductive material whose circumference is open at one section thereof. The ring-shaped portion is adapted to be axially fitted to the male terminal, with a predetermined radial clearance, and clamped thereto until it creates a proper and stable electrical contact between the outer surface of the terminal and the inner surface of the ring. Clamping is obtained by screw mechanisms. The latter act on two opposed and spaced-apart jaws, which radially project out of the circumference of the ring-shaped portion of the clamp and are placed at the ends of the open circumference section, draw them toward each other and hence clamp the ring-shaped portion around the body of the male terminal by eliminating the radial clearance. This will prevent accidental axial removal of the clamp and provide proper constant power supply to the power consuming units.

[0005] Conventionally, the ring-shaped portion of the clamp is manually clamped by an operator, who acts on the screw mechanism when said ring-shaped portion is entirely axially fitted on the male terminal, parallel to the base of the source from which the frustoconical body of the terminal projects.

[0006] In order to prevent the ring-shaped portion of the clamp from being clamped when said ring-shaped portion has not yet reached the proper axial position on the frustoconical body of the male terminal, i.e. when the ring-shaped portion is not yet proximate and parallel to the base surface from which the frustoconical body stands up, the clamps are known to be equipped with safety devices that allow proper identification of the position in which clamping has to be made.

[0007] This will prevent shocks or vibrations of the source from loosening the clamp and breaking the connection to the power consuming units.

[0008] A known type of safety device, as disclosed in Patent Application Publication EP 3 264 534, comprises a plate-like element, which is also made of an electrically conductive material, and has a circular opening with a diameter greater than the greatest diameter of the frustoconical body of the male terminal, connected to the ring-shaped portion of the clamp. According to the embodiment as described in the aforementioned patent application, the plate-like element is hinged to the outer edge of the ring-shaped portion of the clamp in a position opposite to the position in which the clamping jaws are located, on the side from which the clamp is to be fitted onto the male terminal. Said plate-like element is held in an angularly displaced position relative to the plane of the opening of the ring-shaped portion, by elastic means operating between such ring-shaped portion and the plate-like element.

[0009] When the clamp is axially fitted onto the frustoconical body of the male terminal, said plate-like element is the first to reach a position proximate and parallel to the base surface from which the male terminal stands up and keeps the ring-shaped portion lifted and tilted relative to the axis of the frustoconical body of terminal, thereby indicating that the position of the ring-shaped portion is not a correct clamping position.

[0010] According to the aforementioned prior art, the plate-like element is equipped with screw members for clamping the ring-shaped portion of the clamp but these members only exert their clamping action on the jaws of the ring-shaped portion of the clamp by overcoming the action of the interposed elastic means, after angularly displacing the ring-shaped portion relative to the plate-like element to a position parallel thereto. Then, since the ring-shaped portion is also adjacent and parallel to the base surface of the source from which the male terminal stands up, the position is deemed to be the correct clamping position for the clamp.

[0011] A different known technology to determine the correct position of a clamp before clamping it on a male terminal, is disclosed in US 5,302,143.

[0012] While the known technical solutions that have been used to determine the correct clamping position of the clamp on the male terminal may be deemed to be effective in terms of stable mechanical connection, a drawback was nevertheless found in practice, due to the electrical behavior of the clamp components which, as mentioned above are made of an electrically conductive material.

[0013] It was found that, when fitting the clamp onto the male terminal, when the ring-shaped portion has not yet reached the correct clamping position, temporary electrical contacts may occur between the plate-like element, indicating the correct position, and the male terminal on which it is fitted, which contacts are transferred to the ring-shaped portion and from the latter to the power consuming units, thereby exciting them even temporarily.

[0014] As a result of such excitation of the power consuming units, the assembling operator may believe that the clamp has been properly positioned, and may thus decide to carry out the final clamping operation, when the correct position has not been reached yet.

[0015] With time, especially in automotive applications, this may cause the clamp to be loosened from the frustoconical body of the male terminal and cause unexpected power failures of the power consuming units of the vehicle.

[0016] The object of the present invention is to provide a structure of a clamp for male terminals of power sources that can obviate the above discussed drawback of prior art clamps.

[0017] This and other objects, as better explained hereafter, are fulfilled by a structure of a clamp for male terminals of a power source, particularly a battery for automotive use that, according to the invention is characterized as set forth in claim 1 below.

[0018] The invention will be now described in greater detail with reference to certain embodiments thereof, given by way of illustration and without limitation, and shown in the annexed drawings in which:
  • Figure 1 shows an exploded perspective view of a first embodiment of the clamp of the invention;
  • Figure 2 shows a plan view of the clamp of Figure 1 in an unclamped state;
  • Figure 3 shows a front view of the clamp of Figure 2;
  • Figure 4 shows a sectional view of the clamp as taken along line IV-IV of Figure 2, before clamping;
  • Figure 5 is a sectional view of the clamp as taken along line V-V of Figure 2, before clamping;
  • Figure 6 shows a side view of the clamp of Figure 2;
  • Figure 7 shows a sectional view of the clamp like that of Figure 4, in a clamped state;
  • Figure 8 shows a sectional view of the clamp like that of Figure 5, in a clamped state;
  • Figure 9 shows an exploded perspective view of a second embodiment of the clamp of the invention;
  • Figure 10 shows a plan view of the clamp of Figure 9 in an unclamped state;
  • Figure 11 shows a front view of the clamp of Figure 10;
  • Figure 12 is a sectional view of the clamp as taken along line XII-XII of Figure 10, before clamping;
  • Figure 13 is a sectional view of the clamp as taken along line XIII-XIII of Figure 2, before clamping;
  • Figure 14 shows a side view of the clamp of Figure 10;
  • Figure 15 shows a sectional view of the clamp like that of Figure 12, in a clamped state;
  • Figure 16 shows a sectional view of the clamp like that of Figure 13, in a clamped state.


[0019] Referring to the above figures and particularly to Figures 1 to 8, which are associated with a first embodiment of the clamp of the invention, the latter is generally referenced 1, whereas the male terminal is referenced 2.

[0020] As is known in the art, this male terminal has a frustoconical shape whose greatest diameter D is proximate to a base surface 3 that is part of a power source 4, particularly of a battery for automotive use.

[0021] The smallest diameter of the frustoconical male terminal 2 is referenced d in the annexed drawings, whereas S designates the peripheral surface of the terminal between the smallest diameter d and the greatest diameter D.

[0022] The frustoconical body of terminal extends upwards from the base surface 3 of the source 4 along an axis that, in this particular field, is indicated as a Y axis of the three X, Y, Z Cartesian axes.

[0023] In the embodiment of Figures 1 to 8, the clamp 1 comprises at least one first and one second open-ring portions, referenced 5 and 6 respectively, which have respective jaws 7 and 8, 7a and 8a, radially projecting out of their circumference and located at the ends of their respective open sections 9 of the circumference.

[0024] Said first and second ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 of the clamp 1 have such a diameter as to have a predetermined radial clearance G when they axially fit on the frustoconical body 2 of the terminal, as shown in the sections of Figures 4 and 5.

[0025] Said jaws 7, 8, 7a and 8a, are in opposed, spaced-apart relationship, when the clamp is in the unclamped state to allow it to fit onto the male terminal.

[0026] Also, as shown in Figure 1, they may be interconnected such that the two ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 will be also connected.

[0027] The clamp also includes a conventional screw 10 and nut 10a device, which acts on the jaws 7, 8, 7a, 8a, to cause them to move toward each other, thereby clamping the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 around the frustoconical body 2 of the male terminal, by eliminating the radial clearance G, as shown in the cross sections of Figures 7 and 8.

[0028] Thus, the clamping device 10, 10a acts on the jaws of the ring-shaped portions in the direction of the axis X perpendicular to the axis Y along which the male terminal extends.

[0029] In order to determine the correct axial position of the clamp 1 on the frustoconical body 2 in which the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 are to be clamped, the terminal 1 also comprises a first plate-like element, referenced 11, associated with said first ring-shaped portion 5 of the clamp on the side in which it is inserted onto the male terminal.

[0030] According to the invention, said first plate-like element 11 is made of an electrically non-conductive material and has a through hole 12 whose diameter is adapted to create a radial interference with the greatest diameter D of the frustoconical body 2 proximate to said base surface 3 from which it stands up, when the clamp is fitted on the male terminal 2.

[0031] According to the embodiment of Figures 1 to 8, said first plate-like element 11 made of an electrically non-conductive material, is hinged to said first ring-shaped portion 5 of the terminal. In more detail, the first plate-like element 11 is connected to the first ring-shaped portion 5 via a connection that comprises a rod 13, placed parallel to the axis X, which engages with lugs 14 and 15 that radially project out of the first ring-shaped portion 5 on the side opposite to the side from which the jaws project.

[0032] In this embodiment, when the clamp 1 is fitted onto the male terminal, the plate-like element 11 is the first to reach the end of the axial stroke on the frustoconical body and, due to the interference between the diameter of the opening 12 and the greatest diameter D of the frustoconical body, it stops in a position substantially adjacent and parallel to the base surface 3 of the source 4.

[0033] The fact that the first ring-shaped portion 5 is hinged to said first plate-like element 11, for example by means of the rod 13 and the lugs 14 and 15, determines the correct axial position of the clamp on the male terminal, in which the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 are to be clamped and provide power supply to the power consuming unit connected to the source 4.

[0034] According to an alternative version of the clamp, not shown, said plate-like element 11 may be not hinged, but connected to the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 of the clamp in a fixed manner or, according to a further variant, also not shown, in a displaceable manner, to be displaced relative to the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 along the axis Y of the frustoconical body.

[0035] According to the embodiment of the invention as shown in Figures 1 to 8 of the accompanying drawings, the clamp may comprise a second plate-like element 16 having a respective opening 17, which is associated with said ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 of the clamp 1, and is placed on the side opposite to the side in which the clamp 1 is inserted onto the male terminal 2, said second plate-like element being also made of an electrically non-conductive material. According to the embodiment of Figures 9 to 16, the screw and nut device, referenced 10 and 10a, for clamping the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6, which operates along a direction X perpendicular to the axis Y of the clamp in the embodiment of Figures 1 to 8, is replaced by a conventional safety mechanism that only enables clamping, i.e. the movement of the jaws of the ring-shaped portions toward each other, when at least the first ring-shaped portion 5 or both ring-shaped portions 5 and 6, are placed against the first plate-like element 11, once the latter has reached a position proximate to the base 3, and its opening 12 has come to interference with the greatest diameter D of the frustoconical body 2 of the terminal.

[0036] For this purpose, the safety mechanism comprises an elastic member 18, e.g. a helical spring, reacting between said first plate-like element 11 and the ring-shaped portion 5, and adapted to maintain a predetermined angular gap between the ring-shaped portion and the plate-like element 11, around the connecting pin 13.

[0037] In addition, said safety mechanism includes a clevis 19 having a transverse surface 20 and pairs of legs 21 and 22 with mutually facing inclined surfaces, extending therefrom.

[0038] The clevis 19 is placed above the pairs of jaws 7 and 8 with the inclined surfaces of its legs engaged with the sides 23 and 24 of the jaws.

[0039] A rod 26, having a threaded section 27 followed by an unthreaded section 28 and terminating with a collar 29, is fixed to the plate-like element 11. The rod 26 engages with the clevis 19 by extending through the opening 30 of the surface 20.

[0040] A nut 31 is mounted to the unthreaded section 28, between the collar 29 and the underlying threaded section 27, and engages by its flange-like underside, having a greater diameter than the opening 30, with the surface 20 of the clevis 19 around the opening 30.

[0041] The nut 31 may then engage with the threaded section 27 of the rod 26 and exert a clamping action on the clamp, only when the threaded portion approaches and projects out of the transverse surface 20, which only occurs when the operator straightens the tilt of the ring-shaped portion 5 relative to the plate like element 11, manually or using a (manual, electric, pneumatic, etc.) tool.

[0042] Here clamping takes place by tightening the nut 31 in a direction parallel to the axis Y of the clamp.

[0043] According to a further different embodiment of the clamp, the elastic member that acts between the plate-like element 11 and the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6, may be also provided in the clamp structure as shown in Figures 1 to 8, coaxial with the rod 13 of such structure.

[0044] In the embodiments as described above with reference to the drawings, the provision of a plate-like element 11 made of an electrically non-conductive material and of a diametrical dimension of the hole 12 providing interference with the greatest diameter D of the frustoconical body of the terminal when placing the clamp on the terminal, eliminates the risk that temporary electrical contacts may occur between the terminal and the clamp and that power consuming units may be excited when the correct position of the clamp on the terminal has not been reached yet.

[0045] Although not shown, at least one of the ring-shaped portions 5 and 6 of the clamp is intended to be connected to the end of the power cord that that connects said source 4 to a power consuming unit.

[0046] In detail, the clamp 1 comprises a conductive basement (not shown) protruding from the first ring-shaped portion 5. The basement is arranged substantially perpendicular to the direction of the axis Y along which the male terminal extends. The basement and the first ring portion 5 may be formed integrally to each other.

[0047] Moreover, the clamp 1 comprises a conductive connecting screw (not shown) fixed to the basement and protruding from the basement. Preferably, the connecting screw protrudes from the basement at least along the direction of the axis Y along which the male terminal extends.

[0048] Complementarily, the aforementioned end of the power cord comprises a conductive eyelet insertable upon the connecting screw.

[0049] Concerning the electrically non-conductive material that is used to form the plate-like elements 11 and 16, it is a plastic material.


Claims

1. A clamp (1) for a male terminal of a power source (4), consisting of a frustoconical body (2) projecting out of a base surface (3) that is part of the source (4) against which it rests with its greatest diameter (D), said clamp (1) comprising:

- at least one ring-shaped (5) first portion, with an open section (9) of its circumference, said first ring-shaped portion (5) having such a diameter that a predetermined radial clearance (G) exists when it is axially fits upon said frustoconical body (2), said first ring-shaped portion (5) also having two jaws (7, 8) which axially project out of its circumference and located at the ends of the open section (9) of the circumference, said jaws (7, 8) being in opposed, spaced apart relationship,

- a clamping device (10, 10a) which acts on the jaws and is adapted to cause them to move toward each other to clamp the ring-shaped portion (5) around the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal with elimination of the radial clearance (G),

- at least one first plate-like element (11) hinged to said first ring-shaped portion (5) of the clamp on the side from which it is inserted upon the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal,

characterized in that said plate-like element (11) is made of an electrically non-conductive material and has a through hole (12) with such a diameter that, when the clamp is fitted upon the male terminal (2), the through hole (12) establishes a radial interference with the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal at the greatest diameter (D) thereof proximate to said base surface (3) wherefrom it projects.
 
2. A clamp as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first plate-like element (11) is connected to said first ring-shaped portion (5) of the clamp by means of a connection that comprises a rod (13), which engages with lugs (14, 15) that radially project out of the first ring-shaped portion (5) on the side opposite to the side from which the jaws project.
 
3. A clamp as claimed in claim 2, wherein:

- the clamping device (10, 10a) acts on the jaws of the first ring-shaped portion (5) in the direction of a first axis (X) perpendicular to the direction of a second axis (Y) along which the male terminal extends, and

- said rod (13) is placed parallel to said first axis (X).


 
4. A clamp as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that said first plate-like element (11), made of an electrically non-conductive material, is connected to said first ring-shaped portion (5) of the clamp such that it is angularly movable relative to said first ring-shaped portion (5).
 
5. A clamp as claimed in any of claims 1 to 4, characterized in that it comprises a second plate-like element (16), associated with said first ring-shaped portion (5) of the clamp, on the side of said portion (5) opposite to the one from which it is inserted onto the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal, said second plate-like element (16) being made of an electrically non-conductive material.
 
6. A clamp as claimed in any of claims 1 to 4, characterized in that it comprises a second ring-shaped portion (6) with an open section (9) of its circumference, said second ring-shaped portion (6) lying over the first ring-shaped section (5) and having such a diameter that a predetermined radial clearance (G) exists when the first and second ring-shaped portions (5, 6) are axially fitted to said frustoconical body (2), said second ring-shaped portion (6) of the clamp further having two jaws (7a, 8a) that radially project out of the ring-shaped portion and placed at the ends of the open section (9) of the ring circumference, said jaws (7a, 8a) being in opposed, spaced-apart relationship and lying over the jaws (7, 8) of said first ring-shaped portion (5), a clamping device (10, 10a) acting upon the jaws of the first and second ring-shaped portions of the clamp, and adapted to cause the jaws to move toward each other to clamp said first and second ring-shaped portions around the frustoconical body (2) of the male terminal, with elimination of the radial clearance (G).
 
7. A clamp as claimed in any of claims 1 to 6, comprising a power cord for connecting said source (4) to a power consuming unit, at least said first ring-shaped portion of the clamp being connected to one end of the power cord.
 
8. A clamp as claimed in claim 7, comprising a conductive basement protruding from the first ring-shaped portion (5), and a conductive connecting screw protruding from the basement, said end of the power cord comprising an eyelet insertable upon the connecting screw.
 
9. A clamp as claimed in any of claims 1 to 8, wherein said electrically non-conductive material is a plastic material.
 




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Cited references

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