(19)
(11)EP 3 709 448 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
16.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/38

(21)Application number: 20161885.7

(22)Date of filing:  09.03.2020
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H01R 13/436(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: 11.03.2019 US 201916297810

(71)Applicant: TE Connectivity Corporation
Berwyn, PA 19312 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Fernandes, Stanrich D.
    Harrisburg, PA 17112 (US)

(74)Representative: Johnstone, Douglas Ian et al
Baron Warren Redfern 1000 Great West Road
Brentford TW8 9DW
Brentford TW8 9DW (GB)

  


(54)TERMINAL POSITION ASSURANCE MEMBER WITH MULTIPLE LATCHES


(57) A terminal position assurance member (12) for use with an electrical connector (10, 110). The terminal position assurance member (12) includes a terminal engagement section (40) with terminal engaging projections (46). At least one first latch arm (50a, 50b) extends from the terminal engagement section (40). At least one second latch arm (50a, 50b) extends from the terminal engagement section (40) and is spaced from the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b). The at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b) engages a portion (34) of the first electrical connector (10) to secure the terminal position assurance member (12) to the first electrical connector (10), or the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b) engages a portion (134) of a second electrical connector (110) to secure the terminal position assurance member (12) to the second electrical connector (110).




Description


[0001] The present invention is directed to a terminal position assurance member. In particular, the invention is directed to a terminal position assurance member with multiple latches to allow the terminal position assurance member to be used with different connector housings.

[0002] Various electrical connectors are designed for multi-pin connections. The electrical connectors may be mated to mating connectors terminated to wires or mounted on circuit boards. Such multi-pin connectors are generally assembled by coupling terminals to wires, then loading the terminals into terminal receiving cavities in a connector housing. Generally, there are retention features on the terminals and/or in the cavities that are engaged once the terminals reach a designated position within the length of the cavities in order to prevent the terminals from backing out of the cavities unintentionally during use of the connector. Sometimes the retention features fail to prevent the terminals from exiting the cavities, such as if the retention features are dysfunctional or the terminals were not inserted far enough into the cavities to properly engage the retention features. If a respective terminal is not properly retained within a cavity, when the electrical connector is mated to a mating connector, a corresponding mating terminal may not connect properly to the subject terminal. For example, the incoming mating terminal may drive the terminal back out of the housing, preventing a proper electrical connection between the terminal and the mating terminal. While many terminals may be positioned in the housing of the connector, even a single missed electrical connection may compromise the functionality of the entire connector system and the devices they connect.

[0003] Electrical connectors in the art have attempted to prevent terminals from unintentional movement in the cavities by adding a restraining device or terminal position assurance device. For example, a device may be added to a rear of the housing that is configured to act as a barrier and/or push any terminals that are not at the designated position further into the respective cavities towards the designated position. Often such terminal position assurance members are a separate member which is inserted into a connector housing in the direction of insertion of the terminals into the cavities to prevent withdrawal of the electrical terminals disposed in the terminal cavities. While known terminal position assurance members are beneficial, a different configuration of the terminal position assurance members is required for each differently configured housing, thereby resulting in many different part numbers and many molds being required for the manufacture of the terminal position assurance members.

[0004] It would, therefore, be beneficial to provide a terminal position assurance member with multiple latches to allow the terminal position assurance member to be used with different connector housings, thereby reducing manufacturing and inventory costs.

[0005] The solution is provided by a terminal position assurance member for use with an electrical connector. The terminal position assurance member includes a terminal engagement section with terminal engaging projections. At least one first latch arm extends from the terminal engagement section. At least one second latch arm extends from the terminal engagement section and is spaced from the at least one first latch arm. The at least one first latch arm engages a portion of a first electrical connector to secure the terminal position assurance member to the first electrical connector, or the at least one second latch arm engages a portion of a different second electrical connector to secure the terminal position assurance member to the second electrical connector.

[0006] The invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative receptacle connector with an illustrative terminal position assurance member of the present invention exploded therefrom.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 1 mated with the receptacle connector.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 1 exploded from a plug connector.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 1 mated with the plug connector.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the illustrative receptacle connector with an alternate illustrative terminal position assurance member of the present invention exploded therefrom.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 6 mated with the receptacle connector.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 6 exploded from the plug connector.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view the terminal position assurance member of FIG. 6 mated with the plug connector.



[0007] Referring to FIG. 1 an electrical connector 10 and a terminal position assurance member 12 are shown spaced apart. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the electrical connector 10 is a receptacle connector. Alternatively, the electrical connector 10 may be a plug connector.

[0008] The electrical connector 10 has a housing 16 with a front surface 18 and a rear surface 20. The front 18 of the housing 16 is configured to interface with a mating connector. The housing 16 may also include one or more coupling features 22 that allow the housing 16 to couple to the mating connector 14. For example, the coupling features 22 may include one or more latches, latch-receiving grooves or projections, and the like.

[0009] The housing 16 of the electrical connector 10 has a plurality of terminal receiving cavities 24 for receiving terminals 26 (FIG. 3) therein. The terminal receiving cavities 24 may extend from the rear 20 to the front 18 of the housing 16. The terminal receiving cavities 24 may be oriented between the rear 20 and the front 18 of the housing 16 parallel to each other.

[0010] In the illustrative embodiment shown, the housing 16 has three terminal receiving cavities 24. The terminals 26 may be configured to physically and electrically connect to corresponding mating terminals of the mating connector. The particular configuration of the terminals 26 may vary without departing from the scope of the invention.

[0011] The terminals 26 have a wire termination end 28 which are terminated by crimping, soldering, insulation displacement and the like, to wires or cables 30 which extend from the rear 20 of the housing 16. The plurality of terminals 26 may be used to transmit power, data, and/or control signals. If a single terminal 26 of the electrical connector 10 fails to correctly engage the corresponding mating terminal of the mating connector, the signal path between those two terminals may be damaged. Furthermore, the broken signal path may also disrupt other signal paths along different terminals in the connector 10.

[0012] As best shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a securing projection 32 extends from the housing 16 of the connector 10. The securing projection 32 has mounting portions 34 which integrally secures the securing projection 32 to the housing 116.

[0013] As is best shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the terminal position assurance member 12 has a terminal engagement section 40 having a first surface 42 and a second surface 44. The terminal position assurance member 12 may be composed of a non-conductive, insulator material, such as, but not limited to, rubber, plastic and/or a thermoplastic polymer.

[0014] Terminal engaging projections 46 extend from the first surface 42 in a direction away from the second surface 44. The terminal engaging projections 46 are configured to be positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 24 to ensure that the terminals 26 are properly positioned.

[0015] First latch arms 50a and 50b extend from the terminal engagement section 40 in a direction away from the second surface 44. The first latch arms 50a and 50b have lead-in surfaces 52a and 52b and locking shoulders 54a and 54b. The first latch arms 50a and 50b have a length L1. In the illustrative embodiment shown, a pair of first latch arms 50a and 50b are provided proximate side surfaces 56 of the terminal position assurance member 12. The locking shoulder 54a of the first latch arm 50a faces inward toward the first latch arm 50b. The locking shoulder 54b of the first latch arm 50b faces inward toward the first latch arm 50a.

[0016] Second latch arms 60a and 60b extend from the terminal engagement section 40 in a direction away from the second surface 44. The second latch arms 60a and 60b have lead-in surfaces 62a and 62b and locking shoulders 64a and 64b. The second latch arms 60a and 60b have a length L2. The length L2 of the second latch arms 60a and 60b is longer than the length L1 of the first latch arms 50a and 50b. In the illustrative embodiment shown, a pair of second latch arms 60a and 60b are provided spaced from the side surfaces 56 of the terminal position assurance member 12, such that the second latch arms 60a and 60b are positioned between the first latch arms 50a and 50b. The locking shoulder 64a of the second latch arm 60a faces inward toward the second latch arm 60b. The locking shoulder 64b of the second latch arm 60b faces inward toward the second latch arm 60a.

[0017] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 3, as the terminal position assurance member 12 is moved into engagement with the housing 16, the terminal engaging projections 46 are positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 24 and facilitate the proper position of the terminals 26 in the terminal receiving cavities 24, as is known in the art. As this occurs, the lead-in surfaces 52a and 52b of the first latch arms 50a and 50b engage mounting portions 34 of the securing projection 32, causing the first latch arms 50a and 50b to resiliently deform. With continued insertion, the locking shoulders 54a and 54b move past the mounting portions 34 to allow the first latch arms 50a and 50b to return toward their unstressed position, thereby securing the terminal position assurance member 12 to the housing 16.

[0018] If the terminals 26 are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 24, the terminal position assurance member 12 will not be properly positioned in the housing 16. If the terminals 26 are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 24, the first latch arms 50a and 50b are prevented from being secured to the securing projection 32, thereby providing a visual indication that the terminals are not properly positioned.

[0019] Referring to FIG. 4 an electrical connector 110 and the terminal position assurance member 12 are shown spaced apart. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the electrical connector 110 is a plug connector. Alternatively, the electrical connector 110 may be a receptacle connector.

[0020] The electrical connector 110 has a housing 116 with a front surface 118 and a rear surface 120. The front 118 of the housing 116 is configured to interface with a mating connector. The housing 116 may also include one or more coupling features 122 that allow the housing 16 to couple to the mating connector. For example, the coupling features 122 may include one or more latches, latch-receiving grooves or projections, and the like.

[0021] The housing 116 of the electrical connector 112 has a plurality of terminal receiving cavities 124 for receiving terminals therein. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the housing 116 has three terminal receiving cavities 124. The terminals are similar to the terminals previously described.

[0022] As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, a latch 132 extends from the housing 116 of the connector 110. The latch 132 is used to secure the connector in a panel (not shown) or the like. The latch 132 has a front mounting portion 134 which integrally secures the latch 132 to the housing 116.

[0023] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, as the terminal position assurance member 12 is moved into engagement with the housing 116, the terminal engaging projections 46 are positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 24 and facilitate the proper position of the terminals in the terminal receiving cavities 24, as is known in the art. As this occurs, the lead-in surfaces 62a and 62b of the second latch arms 60a and 60b engage mounting portion 134 of the latch 132, causing the second latch arms 60a and 60b to resiliently deform. With continued insertion, the locking shoulders 64a and 64b move past the mounting portion 134 to allow the second latch arms 60a and 60b to return toward their unstressed position, thereby securing the terminal position assurance member 12 to the housing 116.

[0024] If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 124, the terminal position assurance member 12 will not be properly positioned in the housing 116. If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 124, the second latch arms 60a and 60b are prevented from being secured to the latch 132, thereby providing a visual indication that the terminals are not properly positioned.

[0025] Referring to FIG. 6 and 7 the electrical connector 10 and a terminal position assurance member 112 are shown spaced apart. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the electrical connector 10 is a receptacle connector. Alternatively, the electrical connector 10 may be a plug connector.

[0026] The terminal position assurance member 112 has a terminal engagement section 140 having a first surface 142 and a second surface 144. The terminal position assurance member 112 may be composed of a non-conductive, insulator material, such as, but not limited to, rubber, plastic and/or a thermoplastic polymer.

[0027] Terminal engaging projections 146 extend from the first surface 142 in a direction away from the second surface 144. The terminal engaging projections 146 are configured to be positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 24 to ensure that the terminals are properly positioned.

[0028] First latch arms 150a and 150b extend from the terminal engagement section 140 in a direction away from the second surface 144. The first latch arms 150a and 150b have lead-in surfaces 152a and 152b and locking shoulders 154a and 154b. The first latch arms 150a and 150b have a length L1. In the illustrative embodiment shown, a pair of first latch arms 150a and 150b are provided proximate side surfaces 156 of the terminal position assurance member 112. The locking shoulder 154a of the first latch arm 150a faces inward toward the first latch arm 150b. The locking shoulder 154b of the first latch arm 150b faces inward toward the first latch arm 150a. Recesses 158 may be provided in the first latch arms 150a and 150b. The recesses 158 are configured to provide increased resiliency or flexibility to the first latch arms 150a and 50b.

[0029] A second latch arm 160 extends from the terminal engagement section 140 in a direction away from the second surface 144. The second latch arm 160 has a lead-in surface 162 and a locking shoulder 164. The second latch arm 160 has a length L2. The length L2 of the second latch arm 160 is longer than the length L1 of the first latch arms 150a and 150b. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the second latch arm 160 is provided spaced from the side surfaces 156 of the terminal position assurance member 112, such that the second latch arm 160 is positioned between the first latch arms 150a and 150b. A recess 168 may be provided in the second latch arm 160. The recess 168 is configured to provide increased resiliency or flexibility to the second latch arm 160.

[0030] As the terminal position assurance member 112 is moved into engagement with the housing 16, the terminal engaging projections 146 are positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 24 and facilitate the proper position of the terminals in the terminal receiving cavities 24, as is known in the art. As this occurs, the lead-in surfaces 152a and 152b of the first latch arms 150a and 150b engage mounting portions 34 of the securing projection 32, causing the first latch arms 150a and 150b to resiliently deform. With continued insertion, the locking shoulders 154a and 154b move past the mounting portions 34 to allow the first latch arms 150a and 150b to return toward their unstressed position, thereby securing the terminal position assurance member 112 to the housing 16.

[0031] If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 24, the terminal position assurance member 112 will not be properly positioned in the housing 16. If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 24, the first latch arms 150a and 150b are prevented from being secured to the securing projection 32, thereby providing a visual indication that the terminals are not properly positioned.

[0032] Referring to FIG. 8 the electrical connector 110 and the terminal position assurance member 112 are shown spaced apart. In the illustrative embodiment shown, the electrical connector 110 is a plug connector. Alternatively, the electrical connector 110 may be a receptacle connector.

[0033] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, as the terminal position assurance member 112 is moved into engagement with the housing 116, the terminal engaging projections 146 are positioned in the terminal receiving cavities 124 and facilitate the proper position of the terminals in the terminal receiving cavities 124, as is known in the art. As this occurs, the lead-in surface 162 of the second latch arm 160 engages the mounting portion 134 of the latch 132, causing the second latch arm 160 to resiliently deform. With continued insertion, the locking shoulder 164 moves past the mounting portion 134 to allow the second latch arm 160 to return toward its unstressed position, thereby securing the terminal position assurance member 112 to the housing 116.

[0034] If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 124, the terminal position assurance member 112 will not be properly positioned in the housing 116. If the terminals are not properly seated in the terminal receiving passages 124, the second latch arm 160 is prevented from being secured to the latch 132, thereby providing a visual indication that the terminals are not properly positioned.

[0035] The terminal position assurance member of the present invention has multiple latches to allow the terminal position assurance member to be used with different connector housings, thereby reducing manufacturing and inventory costs.


Claims

1. A terminal position assurance member (12, 112) for use with an electrical connector (10, 110), the terminal position assurance member (12, 112) comprising:

a terminal engagement section (40, 140) with terminal engaging projections (46, 146);

at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) extending from the terminal engagement section (40, 140); and

at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) extending from the terminal engagement section (40, 140), the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) spaced from the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b),

wherein the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) engages a portion (34) of a first electrical connector (10) to secure the terminal position assurance member (12, 112) to the first electrical connector (10) or the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) engages a portion (134) of a second electrical connector (110) to secure the terminal position assurance member (12, 112) to the second electrical connector (110).


 
2. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in claim 1, wherein the terminal engagement section (40, 140) has a first surface (42, 142) and a second surface (44, 144).
 
3. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in claim 1 or 2, wherein the terminal engaging projections (46, 146) are configured to be positioned in terminal receiving cavities (24, 124) of the electrical connector (10, 110).
 
4. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in claim 2 or any claim depending on claim 2, wherein the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) extends from the terminal engagement section (40, 140) in a direction away from the second surface (44, 144).
 
5. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) has a lead-in surface (52a, 52b, 152a, 152b) and a locking shoulder (54a, 54b, 154a, 154b).
 
6. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in claim 5, wherein the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) is a pair of first latch arms (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) proximate side surfaces (56, 156) of the terminal position assurance member (12, 112), the locking shoulder (54a, 54b, 154a, 154b) of one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) of the pair of first latch arms (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) faces inward toward another first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) of the pair of first latch arms (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b).
 
7. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in claim 2 or any claim depending on claim 2, wherein the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) extends from the terminal engagement section (40, 140) in a direction away from the second surface (44, 144).
 
8. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) has a lead-in surface (64a, 64b, 164) and a locking shoulder (64a, 64b, 164).
 
9. The terminal position assurance member (12) as recited in claim 8, wherein the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b) is a pair of second latch arms (60a, 60b) spaced from side surfaces (56) of the terminal position assurance member (12), the locking shoulder (64a, 64b) of one second latch arm (60a, 60b) of the pair of second latch arms (60a, 60b) faces inward toward another second latch arm (60a, 60b) of the pair of second latch arms (60a, 60b).
 
10. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the at least one first latch arm (50a, 50b, 150a, 150b) has a first length (L1) and the at least one second latch arm (60a, 60b, 160) has a second length (L2), the second length (L2) is greater than the first length (L1).
 
11. The terminal position assurance member (112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the at least one first latch arm (150a, 150b) has a recess (158) to provide increased resiliency or flexibility to the at least one first latch arm (150a, 150b).
 
12. The terminal position assurance member (112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the at least one second latch arm (160) has a recess (168) to provide increased resiliency or flexibility to the at least one second latch arm (160).
 
13. The terminal position assurance member (12, 112) as recited in any preceding claim, wherein the terminal position assurance member (12, 112) is made of a non-conductive, insulator material.
 




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