(19)
(11)EP 3 736 454 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
11.11.2020 Bulletin 2020/46

(21)Application number: 19173940.8

(22)Date of filing:  10.05.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
F16B 5/02(2006.01)
F16B 39/00(2006.01)
F16B 37/08(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

(71)Applicant: Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
Glenview, Illinois 60025 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • YON, Fulvio Pacifico
    11020 HONE (AO) (IT)

(74)Representative: HGF 
1 City Walk
Leeds LS11 9DX
Leeds LS11 9DX (GB)

  


(54)RETAINING SYSTEM FOR VEHICLE COMPONENTS


(57) Retaining system (1) including a threaded shank (4) equipped with a head (5), a first hole (7) in a vehicle body element, a second through hole (23) in a functional component (2) to be fastened, and a bush (24) equipped internally with elastically deformable fins (25) which are coupled to the shank by screwing/unscrewing and by snap fitting; the head is coupled by snap or bayonet fitting to the first hole, and the threaded shank is coupled to the second hole by passing through it and is provided with a longitudinal rib (15) which projects radially from a cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank over a height equal to or less than that of a thread (13) formed to project radially on the cylindrical lateral surface; the fins (25) interacting with opposed inclined lateral flanks (19b, 19c), having different inclinations, of the longitudinal rib in such a way that the torque on the bush for screwing is less than the torque for unscrewing.







Description

Technical field



[0001] The present invention relates to a retaining system for fastening to the bodywork of vehicles functional components of a vehicle, such as panels or other trim elements to be placed inside or outside the passenger compartment, or soundproofing panels or elements, for example those that are to be fastened inside the engine compartments of vehicles. The invention also relates to an associated retaining element.

Prior art



[0002] It is known that, in the motor vehicle field, numerous functional or trim components, usually in panel form, have to be fastened to the body (or to other bodywork parts).

[0003] These functional components are secured to a retaining element or a plurality of retaining elements, consisting of a threaded pin or pins that are formed integrally with the bodywork by welding for example, by means of associated retaining devices, usually consisting of a bush made of a synthetic plastic material and having internal flexible fins which are made in one piece with the bush from the same synthetic material, or from a different synthetic plastic material co-moulded with the bush, these fins being configured to engage the thread of the pin elastically, either by a snap fitting or by screwing/unscrewing, and the bush locking the functional element to be assembled against the body.

[0004] In order to provide greater flexibility in assembly/dismantling while reducing the cost and weight, retaining elements consisting of threaded pins made of a synthetic plastic material and having a head adapted for coupling by a snap or bayonet fitting to a hole in the body have also been developed. Thus the body does not have to be provided with projecting welded metal pins, but simply with holes, and the plastic threaded pins, which are lighter, are subsequently attached integrally to the body and are then used as in the preceding method, by coupling thereto a retaining device consisting of a bush provided internally with elastically flexible fins designed to interact with the thread of the plastic pin.

[0005] Both of the solutions described above have the advantage that the retaining device can be snap fitted on to the pin by simple pressure, and can then be detached by unscrewing when desired. However, they also both have the drawback that the retaining device may become partially unscrewed from the pin because of the vibrations to which the vehicle is subjected in use, causing a slackening of the pin/bush coupling that results in annoying noises, or even accidental detachment.

Brief description of the invention



[0006] One object of the present invention is therefore to overcome the drawbacks of the prior art by providing a retaining system and an associated retaining element which are of simple construction and are reliable, space-saving and relatively inexpensive; which allow functional vehicle components to be fastened rapidly to the body of a vehicle for the specified purpose with a relatively low coupling force, but with a high retention capacity; and which are not subject to slackening due to vibrations of the vehicle during use, and therefore are substantially noise-free.

[0007] The present invention therefore relates to a retaining system and to an associated retaining element as defined in the appended claims.

Brief description of the drawings



[0008] Further characteristics and advantages of the present invention will be made clear by the following description of a possible embodiment thereof, provided purely by way of non-limiting example and with reference to the attached drawings, in which:
  • Figure 1 shows schematically a three-quarter perspective view from above of a retaining element made according to the invention;
  • Figure 2 shows a plan view from above of the retaining element of Figure 1;
  • Figures 3 and 4 show schematically respective views in section taken along the planes III-III and IV-IV of the retaining system of the invention in a configuration of use, using the retaining element of Figures 1 and 2 and an associated retaining device of a known type;
  • Figure 5 shows on an enlarged scale a three-quarter perspective view from below of a detail of the retaining element of Figure 1; and
  • Figure 6 shows on a more enlarged scale and in perspective a sectional view taken along a plane VI-VI of the detail of the retaining element of Figure 5.

Detailed description



[0009] With reference to Figures 1 to 4, the reference number 1 indicates as a whole a retaining element for connecting a functional vehicle component 2, which in the non-limiting example illustrated consists of a vehicle trim panel which is known and is illustrated only schematically and only partially for the sake of simplicity, to a vehicle body element 3, shown only partially and only schematically for the sake of simplicity.

[0010] The retaining element 1 consists of a threaded pin fastened integrally, by the method to be described, to the body element 3.

[0011] For this purpose, the threaded pin or retaining element 1 comprises a threaded shank 4 and a head 5 positioned at a first end 6 of the threaded shank 5 and formed integrally with the threaded shank 5.

[0012] According to a first feature of the invention, the head 5 is configured for coupling in use, by snap or bayonet fitting, to a hole 7 (Figure 4), which may be round or preferably quadrangular, in the body element 3.

[0013] For this purpose, the head 5 comprises a rigid central core 8 and a plurality of elastically deformable fins 9 (numbering four, in an X-shaped arrangement, in the illustrated example), each of which is substantially Z-shaped in plan view, which extend radially and projectingly from the core 8 and each of which has an upper edge 10 arranged at an inclination relative to the threaded shank 4, the inclination being such as to intercept on the side of the head 5 (by a theoretical extension of the edge 10) an axis of symmetry A of the threaded shank 4.

[0014] The edge 10 is also shaped so as to have an angle of inclination relative to the axis A which is variable and such that it increases towards the threaded shank 4.

[0015] Thus the edge 10 is adapted to interact, in use, with a peripheral edge of the hole 7 to cause the fins 9 to bend elastically towards the core 8, the fins thus passing through the hole 7 together with the whole head 5 and then reopening with a snap action, as soon as they have passed through the hole 7, so as to place themselves to bear axially against a face 11 of the body element 3 opposite the functional component 2 to be fastened to the body element 3, and therefore opposite the threaded shank 4.

[0016] In its turn, the threaded shank 4 is configured to be coupled, in use, with a retaining device 12 (Figure 4) of a known type, which serves to lock the functional component 2 against the body element 3 on the opposite side to the face 11.

[0017] The retaining device 12 and the threaded shank 4 are configured to be coupled together either by rotation, by screwing and unscrewing, or by snap fitting, the latter only in insertion as a result of an axial force exerted in a direction parallel to the shank 3 and, therefore, exerted along the axis A and towards the head 5.

[0018] For this purpose, the threaded shank 4 is provided, over at least a part of its axial length L, with a continuous or discontinuous thread 13, which projects radially from a cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4, on which the thread 13 is wound in the form of a helix.

[0019] According to an important aspect of the invention, the shank 4 is provided with at least one longitudinal rib 15 which projects radially from the cylindrical lateral surface 14 with a height, measured radially, equal to or, preferably, lower than that of the thread 13.

[0020] This at least one longitudinal rib 15 extends along at least the greater part of the axial length L, and therefore also of an extension in length of the thread 13.

[0021] Additionally, the at least one longitudinal rib 15 is rectilinear and extends parallel to the axis of symmetry A of the shank 4, on a generatrix of the cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4, and is composed of a plurality of rectilinear portions 16 (Figure 5) positioned adjacent in sequence and in axis with one another, being separated from one another solely by respective helical portions 18 (Figure 5) of the thread 13.

[0022] The rectilinear portions 16 of the rib 15 preferably all have the same shape and the same height, measured radially.

[0023] According to an aspect of the invention, the at least one rib 15 has a trapezoidal shape with rounded vertices in cross section (Figure 6).

[0024] Preferably, the longitudinal rib 15 has an asymmetrical trapezoidal shape in cross section, in that respective opposed oblique sides 19b and 19c (Figure 6) of the cross section of the rib 15 each define a respective opposed lateral flank of the rib and have different inclinations.

[0025] A first oblique side 19b of the cross section of the rib 15, defining a first lateral flank of the rib, forms a first angle α with the cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4, while a second oblique side 19c of the cross section of the rib 15, opposed to the first side 19b and defining a second lateral flank of the rib 15, forms a second angle β, larger than the first angle a, with the cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4.

[0026] In particular, according to an aspect of the invention, the first angle α faces a direction of screwing Av for the thread 13, while the second angle β faces a direction of unscrewing Sv for the thread 13, in such a way that a torque (tangential force) required in use for screwing the shank 4 into the retaining device 12 is less than the torque required in use for unscrewing the shank 4 from the retaining device 12.

[0027] According to a possible variant, shown in broken lines in Figure 3, the shank 4 is provided with a plurality of longitudinal ribs 15, parallel to one another, which project radially from the cylindrical lateral surface 14, each over a height, measured radially, equal to or, preferably, lower than that of the thread 13, and which are arranged to be spaced apart from one another circumferentially at a regular or variable pitch.

[0028] According to an aspect of this variant, the height of each rib 15 increases progressively in the direction of screwing Av for the thread 13, and therefore decreases progressively in the direction of unscrewing Sv, in such a way that a torque (tangential force) required in use for screwing the shank 4 into the retaining device 12 is less than the torque required in use for unscrewing the shank 4 from the retaining device 12.

[0029] In both of the embodiments described, the rib 15 or ribs 15 project(s) radially from the cylindrical lateral surface 14 over a height such that a terminal end 20 of the rib or ribs 15 (Figures 3, 4 and 6), defined by a substantially flat or rounded face of the rib or ribs 15, positioned substantially parallel to a generatrix of the cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4, is positioned radially adjacent to a radially outer peak 21 (Figure 6) of the thread 13.

[0030] It is clear from the above description that the invention also relates to a retaining system, indicated as a whole by 22, for connecting a functional vehicle component 2 to a vehicle body element 3, comprising a first hole 7 in the body element 3; a second hole 23 (Figure 4), which is a through hole, in the functional component 2; the retaining element 1, consisting of a threaded shank 4 and a head 5 positioned at a first end 6 of the threaded shank 4 and formed integrally with the threaded shank 4, the head 5 being configured to be coupled by a snap or bayonet fitting to the first hole 7 and the threaded shank 4 being configured to be coupled by passing through the second hole 23; and a retaining device 12 for the functional component 2.

[0031] In the illustrated example, the retaining device 12 consists (Figure 4) of a bush 24 equipped internally with at least a pair of elastically deformable fins 25 configured to be coupled both by rotation by screwing and unscrewing, and by snap fitting as a result of an axial force exerted in a direction parallel to the threaded shank 4, that is to say exerted along the axis A, to the threaded shank 4 itself.

[0032] Since the threaded shank 4 is equipped over at least a part of its axial length with the continuous or discontinuous thread 13, which projects radially from the cylindrical lateral surface 14 of the shank 4, the fins 25 can not only allow both the screwing and unscrewing of the bush 24 on to/from the thread 13, but can also engage the peaks 21 by a pawl action, because of their projecting extension, inclined towards the direction of extraction of the bush 24 from the shank 4, enabling the bush 24 to be fitted by sliding, or more precisely by a pawl action, on to the shank 4, while preventing the extraction by sliding of the bush 24 from the shank 4, since, in the latter case, the fins 25 lock against the peaks 21.

[0033] As described above, the shank 4 is equipped with at least one longitudinal rib 15 which projects radially from the cylindrical lateral surface 14, preferably over a height, measured radially, which is less than that of the thread 13.

[0034] Additionally, in the retaining system 22 the fins 25 are configured to interact with opposed inclined lateral flanks 19b, 19c of the at least one rib 15, each of which has a first and a second inclination α and β respectively, which are different from one another, so as the fins are progressively bent towards a radially inner lateral wall 26 of the bush 24 as a result of a relative rotation between the bush 24 and the threaded shank 4, so that the fins 25 can ride with a snap action over the rib 15 or, if a plurality of ribs 15 are present, progressively and cyclically over all the ribs 15.

[0035] The first and second inclinations, forming respective angles α and β with the surface 14, are selected, according to an aspect of the invention, in such a way that the mechanical torque required to screw the shank 4 into the retaining device 12 is less than the mechanical torque required to unscrew the shank 4 from the retaining device 12.

[0036] According to an aspect of the invention, the retaining element 1 and the retaining device 12 are made entirely by moulding from a synthetic plastic material, and the fins 25 are made in one piece with the bush 24, while the head 5, the thread 13 and the rib or ribs 15 are made in one piece with the threaded shank 4.

[0037] According to a final aspect of the invention, the retaining element 1 further comprises a flange 27 made in the shape of a suction cup (Figure 4) positioned between the head 5 and the threaded shank 4; additionally, the flange 27 is made in one piece with the threaded shank 4 and projects radially therefrom until it extends radially on the outside of the head 5.

[0038] The suction cup flange 27 has a substantially frustoconical shape and a concavity facing the head 5.

[0039] The flange 27 is configured to be pressure-coupled to the body element 3 when the functional component 2 to be fastened is pushed by the retaining device 12 against the flange as a result of its coupling to the threaded shank 4. At the same time, the flange 27 is deformed elastically, exerting on the functional element 2 an elastic reaction which is transferred to the bush 24 of the retaining device 12, pushing the latter in the direction of disengagement from the shank 4, and therefore causing the fins 25 to lock against the thread 13 and its peaks 21.

[0040] Thus any play present in the retaining system 22 is taken up, preventing any vibration or noise of the components 1, 2 and 12 on the vehicle in use. At the same time, the rib 15 (or the ribs 15, if more than one of them is present) prevents any partial accidental unscrewing of the retaining device 12 due to the vibrations of the vehicle when running.

[0041] On the other hand, if the bush 24 is to be unscrewed, in order to remove the functional component 2 for example, it is simply necessary to unscrew the bush 24 by exerting a sufficient torque on it to cause the fins 25 to bend as a result of the inclination α of the oblique side 19b.

[0042] In order to couple the bush 24 on to the shank 4 by screwing, on the other hand, it will be sufficient to exert a torque that is much smaller than that required for unscrewing, owing to the larger angle β which enables the fins 25 to ride over the rib 15 more easily by sliding on the oblique side 19c.

[0043] All the objects of the invention are therefore achieved.


Claims

1. Retaining element (1) for connecting a functional vehicle component (2) to a vehicle body element (3), comprising a threaded shank (4) and a head (5) positioned at a first end (6) of the threaded shank and formed integrally with the threaded shank, the head (5) being configured to be coupled in use, by snap or bayonet fitting, to a hole (7) in the body element (3); the threaded shank (4) being configured to be coupled in use to a retaining device (12) for the component either by rotation, by screwing and unscrewing, or by snap fitting, by pushing in a direction (A) parallel to the shank; the threaded shank (4) being provided over at least a part of its axial length with a continuous or discontinuous thread (13) which projects radially from a cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank, on which the thread (13) is wound in helical form;
characterized in that the shank (4) is equipped with at least one longitudinal rib (15) which projects radially from said cylindrical lateral surface (14) over a height, measured radially, which is equal to or, preferably, less than that of said thread (13).
 
2. Retaining element according to Claim 1, characterized in that said at least one longitudinal rib 15 extends along at least the greater part of an extension in length of said thread (13).
 
3. Retaining element according to Claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said at least one rib (15) is rectilinear and extends parallel to an axis of symmetry (A) of the shank (4), on a generatrix of said cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank, and is composed of a plurality of rectilinear portions (16) positioned adjacent in sequence and in axis with one another, being separated from one another solely by respective helical portions (18) of said thread, said rectilinear portions (16) of said at least one rib (15) all having the same shape and the same height measured radially.
 
4. Retaining element according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said at least one rib (15) has a trapezoidal shape with rounded vertices in cross section.
 
5. Retaining element according to Claim 4, characterized in that said at least one rib (15) has an asymmetrical trapezoidal shape in cross section, respective opposed oblique sides (19b, 19c) of said cross section, each defining a respective opposed lateral flank of the rib, having different inclinations (α and β).
 
6. Retaining element according to Claim 4 or 5, characterized in that a first oblique side (19b) of said cross section, defining a first lateral flank of the rib, forms a first angle (α) with said cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank, while a second oblique side (19c) of said cross section, opposed to the first and defining a second lateral flank of the rib, forms a secondo angle (β), larger than the first angle, with said cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank; said first angle facing towards a direction of screwing (Av) for said thread, while said second angle faces a direction of unscrewing (Sv) for said thread, in such a way that a torque required in use for screwing the shank (4) into said retaining device (12) is less than the torque required in use for unscrewing the shank (4) from said retaining device.
 
7. Retaining element according to Claim 4, characterized in that said shank (4) is provided with a plurality of longitudinal ribs (15), parallel to one another, which project radially from said cylindrical lateral surface (14), each over a height, measured radially, lower than that of said thread (13), and which are arranged to be spaced apart from one another circumferentially at a regular or variable pitch; the heights of each of said ribs increasing progressively in a direction of screwing for said thread (13), and consequently decreasing progressively in a direction of unscrewing for each thread, in such a way that a torque required in use for screwing the shank (4) into said retaining device is less than the torque required in use for unscrewing the shank from said retaining device.
 
8. Retaining element according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said at least one longitudinal rib (15) projects radially from said cylindrical lateral surface (14) over a height such that a terminal end of the rib, defined by a substantially flat or rounded face (20), positioned substantially parallel to a generatrix of said cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank, is positioned radially adjacent to a radially outer peak (21) of said thread.
 
9. Retaining system (22) for connecting a functional vehicle component (2) to a vehicle body element (3), comprising a first hole (7) in the body element (3); a second hole (23), which is a through hole, in the functional component; a retaining element (1) consisting of a threaded shank (4) and a head (5) positioned at a first end (6) of the threaded shank and formed integrally with the threaded shank, the head being configured to be coupled, by snap or bayonet fitting, to said first hole (7), and the threaded shank (4) being configured to be coupled to said second hole (23) by passing through it; and a retaining device (12) for the functional component, consisting of a bush (24) equipped internally with at least a pair of elastically deformable fins (25) configured to be coupled either by rotation, by screwing and unscrewing, or by snap fitting as a result of an axial force in a direction parallel to the threaded shank, to said threaded shank (4); the threaded shank being provided over at least a part of its axial length with a continuous or discontinuous thread (13) which projects radially from a cylindrical lateral surface (14) of the shank, on which the thread is wound in helical form;
characterized in that the shank is provided with at least one longitudinal rib (15) which projects from said cylindrical lateral surface (14) over a height, measured radially, which is equal to or less than that of said thread (13); said fins (25) being configured to interact with opposed inclined lateral flanks (19b, 19c) of said at least one rib (15), each of which has a first and a second inclination respectively, which are different from one another, so as to be progressively bent towards a radially inner lateral wall (26) of the bush as a result of a relative rotation between the bush and the threaded shank, so that the fins (25) can ride with a snap action over said at least one rib; said first and second inclinations being selected in such a way that a torque required to screw the shank (4) into said retaining device is less than the torque required to unscrew the shank from said retaining device.
 
10. Retaining system according to Claim 9, characterized in that said retaining element (1) and device (12) are made by moulding from a synthetic plastic material, said fins (25) being formed in one piece with said bush (24), while said head (5), said thread (13) and said at least one rib (15) are formed in one piece with said threaded shank (4) .
 
11. Retaining system according to Claim 9 or 10, characterized in that said retaining element (1) further comprises a flange (27) shaped in the form of a suction cup, positioned between the head (5) and the threaded shank (4), formed in one piece with the threaded shank and projecting radially from the latter so as to extend radially on the outside of the head; said suction cup flange (27) substantially having a frustoconical shape and a concavity facing said head; the flange being configured to be pressure-coupled to said body element (3) when the functional component to be fastened is pushed by said retaining device (12) against the flange, thus coupling the component to said threaded shank.
 




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