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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR REDUCING FRICTION BETWEEN RESILIENT OBJECTS AND SURFACES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/023802
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A friction-reducing object-guiding structure is provided for reducing friction of resilient objects displaced on non-resilient surface such as rubber over metal. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure comprises a plurality of integrally formed cavities to receive a rolling elements partially protruding above the surface.

Inventors:
THERRIEN, Jean (279 rue Roger Boisvert, Sherbrooke, Québec J1G 4T2, J1G 4T2, CA)
LONGPRÉ, Yannick (3695 rue Imelda-Lefebvre, Sherbrooke, Québec J1N 1B2, J1N 1B2, CA)
Application Number:
CA2018/050942
Publication Date:
February 07, 2019
Filing Date:
August 01, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MI INTÉGRATION S.E.N.C. (3100 Boul. Industriel, Sherbrooke, Québec J1L 1V8, J1L 1V8, CA)
International Classes:
B23Q3/02; B23Q3/10; B23Q16/00; B29C45/17; F16C29/04
Foreign References:
US7650979B22010-01-26
US4858293A1989-08-22
DE4004160A11990-09-06
US8052326B22011-11-08
US20130264174A12013-10-10
US6478466B12002-11-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROY, Matthew et al. (Gowling WLG LLP, Suite 2600 160 Elgin Stree, Ottawa Ontario K1P 1C3, K1P 1C3, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
A friction-reducing object-guiding structure comprising a body having at least one non- resilient surface for guiding a resilient object thereon, said body comprising a plurality of integrally formed cavities in said at least one non-resilient surface, each cavity comprising an opening and a flexible flange and configured to receive a rolling element, said rolling element partially protruding above the at least one non-resilient surface, wherein the flexible flange comprises an upper part that is formed by the at least one non-resilient surface.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 1 wherein the body further comprises a groove outside of the cavity and surrounding the opening, wherein said groove is formed by a depression of the at least one non-resilient surface.

The friction-reducing object guiding structure of claim 1 or 2 further comprising a plurality of surface recesses on said non-resilient surface and distributed between the rolling elements.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claim 1 to 3 configured as a rectangular blade comprising first and second non-resilient surfaces and contour edges and wherein each said first and second surface comprises a plurality of cavities with the rolling elements therein.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 4 wherein at least one of the contour edges comprises a plurality of cavities with rolling elements therein.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein said rolling elements are harder than said body.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claim 1 to 6 wherein the rolling elements are immobilized in said cavities.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 7 wherein the rolling elements are spheres.

The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 7 wherein the rolling elements are cylinders.

10. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 4 wherein the rolling elements are spheres rollingly retained in said plurality of cavities and at least some of the spheres on the first surface are in frictional contact with some of the spheres on the second surface to create a knock-on effect when the object is displaced on the friction-reducing object- guiding structure.

1 1. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claim 1 to 10 further comprising one or more stopper structures configured to prevent displacement of the resilient object.

12. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 1 1 wherein the stopper structure is moveably coupled to the friction-reducing object-guiding structure.

13. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 12 wherein the resilient object is selected from thermoplastics and elastomers.

14. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 13 wherein the resilient object is made of rubber.

15. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 14 wherein the body of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure and the plurality of rolling elements are made of a material selected from metal, ceramic, glass, and plastic.

16. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of claim 15 wherein the rolling elements are made of material harder than the body of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure.

17. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 16 wherein the resilient object has a U-shaped elongated recess and wherein the friction-reducing object- guiding structure is configured to engage into the recess whereby the plurality of rolling elements are in contact with the surface of the resilient object within the recess.

18. A manufacturing system comprising the friction- reducing object-guiding structure of any one of claims 1 to 17. 19. The manufacturing system of claim 18 guiding further comprising one or more coupling members configured to assist the insertion of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure within the manufacturing system.

20. The manufacturing system of claim 19 wherein the one or more coupling members are tracks.

21. The manufacturing system of any one of claim 18 to 20 which is an injection over-molding system.

22. The manufacturing system of claim 21 wherein the friction-reducing object-guiding

structure is removably attached to the mold.

23. The manufacturing system of claim 21 or 22 further comprising a position detector

configured to detect the position of the resilient object within the mold.

24. The manufacturing system of claim 23 wherein the position detector is a laser position detector.

25. A method for positioning an object into a manufacturing position within a manufacturing device, the method comprising: providing a friction-reducing object-guiding structure as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 17; engaging the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to allow displacement of the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure while contacting the plurality of rolling elements; and displacing the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to reach the manufacturing position.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the resilient object comprises an elongated recess that is engaged on an edge of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure configured to receive the recess and wherein the displacement is a sliding movement along the friction-reducing object-guiding structure.

27. The method of claim 25 or 26 wherein the manufacturing process is injection molding and the resilient object is inserted into an injection mold prior to injection.

28. The method of any one of claims 25 to 27 wherein the resilient object comprises

elastomeric or thermoplastic material and wherein the plurality of rolling elements are configured to reduce the friction of the object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to facilitate displacement along the guide and accurate positioning into the manufacturing position.

Description:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR REDUCING FRICTION BETWEEN RESILIENT OBJECTS

AND SURFACES

TECHNICAL FIELD

[001] This invention relates generally to positioning of objects into manufacturing positions. More specifically, this invention relates to devices and methods for reducing friction between resilient objects and non-resilient surfaces when positioning resilient objects into manufacturing positions.

BACKGROUND

[002] Manufacturing of objects sometimes requires the object or part thereof to be inserted or positioned within a machine or system. This positioning may involve moving the object on or against structures that create significant frictional forces. Furthermore, the manufacturing processes often require precise positioning. The combination of frictional forces and the requirements for precision positioning render such tasks difficult especially when performed manually. [003] Injection molding is a manufacturing process that often requires that parts of unfinished objects, sometimes referred to as a substrate, be inserted into a mold prior to injection of a molten thermoplastic or thermoset (which may be, for example, an elastomer or resin) to over- mold the substrate thereby completing the object to form a finished product. The insertion of a small substrate into a mold is relatively easy but large objects, such as long rubber extrusions for car seals or weather strips for example, can be difficult.

[004] The insertion of the substrate (object) may require extensive force especially when the substrate comprises rubber or thermoplastic surfaces that create high frictional forces between the substrate and the metal surface of the mold. The problems associated with high friction coefficients are numerous and include injuries to operators, imprecise positioning of objects within manufacturing processes, damage to the objects, etc.

[005] While it is possible to use lubricants to reduce friction, the presence of chemicals on the finished product is often unacceptable. Furthermore, the application of force also makes difficult the precise positioning of the substrate.

l [006] Friction of elastomers, such as rubber, on metal is particularly problematic. Rubber (and elastomers in general) exhibits a complex frictional behavior that includes two main components: surface adhesion and hysteretic or "internal" friction due to the bulk behavior of rubber.

[007] Reducing surface contact may reduce friction forces but the contribution of the hysteretic component of rubber friction is not necessarily straightforward to predict and heavily depends on the topographic characteristics of the surface as well as the object design and physical properties.

[008] Many approaches are used in various kinds of manufacturing processes to reduce friction. Lubricants, air cushions, and ball bearings are examples of such approaches. Lubricants are not particularly desirable for manufacturing objects as they often require cleaning afterwards. Air cushions can be difficult to integrate in a manufacturing process. Devices based on ball bearings are known, for example, in conveyors. So-called ball transfer plates are used in different types of conveyors to reduce friction between objects and a surface. However, the ball sockets of ball transfer plates comprise multiple parts which can interfere with the rubber rolling/sliding in addition to imposing a lower limit on the size of the balls in view of the difficulties in manufacturing very small multi-part sockets. Furthermore, their relative complexity is not ideal for certain types of manufacturing processes such as high-pressure injection molding.

[009] There is therefore a need for methods and devices to facilitate the insertion of resilient elastomeric objects such as rubber within an injection mold.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[010] The invention will be better understood by way of the following detailed description of embodiments of the invention with reference to the appended drawings, in which:

[011] Figure 1 is a perspective view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

[012] Figure 2 is a cross-sectional view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention.

[013] Figures 3 is a cross-sectional view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention in which rolling elements are located on a plurality of faces of the structure. [014] Figure 4 is a top view of a section of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

[015] Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention. [016] Figure 6 is a perspective view of a manufacturing system comprising a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention.

[017] Figure 7 is a cross-sectional view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention having a resilient object engaged thereon. [018] Figure 8A is a top view of a section of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention.

[019] Figure 8B is a cross-section view taken at the dotted line of Figure 8A.

[020] Figure 9 is a perspective view of a friction-reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention mounted on tracks. [021] Figure 10 is a perspective view of a manufacturing system comprising a friction- reducing object-guiding structure in accordance with alternative embodiments of the invention shown with a position detector.

SUMMARY

[022] One aspect of the present invention is a friction-reducing object-guiding structure comprising a body having at least one non-resilient surface for guiding a resilient object thereon, said body comprising a plurality of integrally formed cavities (sockets) in the at least one non-resilient surface, each cavity comprising an opening and a flexible flange and configured to receive a rolling element, each of said rolling element partially protruding above the at least one non-resilient surface, wherein the flexible flange comprises an upper part that is formed by the at least one non-resilient surface.

[023] In another aspect there is provided manufacturing systems comprising the friction- reducing object-guiding structure of the invention.

[024] In yet another aspect of the present invention is a method for positioning an object into a manufacturing position within a manufacturing device. The method comprises providing the friction-reducing object-guiding structure as described above, engaging the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to allow displacement of the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure while contacting the plurality of rolling elements, and displacing the resilient object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to reach the manufacturing position.

[025] The foregoing presents a simplified summary of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the invention. This summary is not an exhaustive overview of the invention. It is not intended to identify essential, key or critical elements of the invention or to delineate the scope of the invention. Its sole purpose is to present some concepts in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is discussed later. Other aspects of the invention are described below in relation to the accompanying drawings.

[026] Other aspects of the invention may become apparent from the detailed description and drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[027] There is provided a friction-reducing object-guiding structure to reduce friction between a non-resilient surface and a resilient object to thereby facilitate insertion of the object into a manufacturing apparatus or system such as an injection mold. [028] By resilient object it is meant a generally deformable object (e.g. substrate) made completely or partially of elastomeric material such as, but not limited to, rubber. By non- resilient surface it is meant a surface that is harder than the resilient object and which cannot be deformed by the resilient object. The non-resilient surface is generally a smooth surface such as metal or hard plastic. Thus, when the resilient object is compressed against the non- resilient surface, the resilient object will deform but not the non-resilient surface.

[029] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 in Figure 1 is shown in one exemplary configuration in the form of a blade with the resilient object representing a car weather strip 8 engaged on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 comprises a plurality of rolling elements 9 partially protruding from its non-resilient surface 24 that provide the means by which friction is reduced as will be further described below. The blade of Figure 1 thus functions as a low-friction guiding member to guide the object into the desired position for subsequent manufacturing processing such as injection molding.

[030] By rolling element it is meant an element that comprises a rounded shape and may include, without being limited to, spheres (balls) and cylinders. The rolling elements may be solid or hollow. The rolling elements shown in Figure 1 are aligned and equally spaced in rows and columns. In other embodiments, the rolling elements needs not be arranged with equal spacing and/or in rows and columns as shown by way of example in this figure.

[031] Now referring to Figures 2 and 3 where cross-sectional views are shown, the friction- reducing object-guiding structure 5 comprises a body 10 with a plurality of cavities (sockets) 12 configured to retainably receive the rolling elements therein. Retainably receiving the rolling elements, for the purposes of this specification, means that rolling elements are free to roll or rotate within their respective cavities and cannot escape, during normal rolling action, from the cavities because of the retaining effect of the flexible flange 20 which is further described below. The cavities are integrally formed in (built-in) the body 10 and are defined by a cavity wall 14 or walls, a cavity bottom 16 and an opening in the surface of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to allow the rolling elements to partially protrude above the plane of the surface 24. By integrally formed it is meant that the cavities' walls and bottoms are an integral part of the body 10. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 is shown with an elastomeric object 11 on it. The cavity bottom 16 may be flat as shown in the Figures 2 and 3 or it may be curved. In another embodiment, the cavity bottom 16 may be deformable or resilient to flex or deform when pressure is applied to the rolling elements 9 during the injection molding process. In yet another embodiment, the rolling elements 9 may be spring-loaded and/or linearly displaceable to enable a user to adjust the depth of the rolling elements 9 in their cavities. [032] The cavities 12 are configured to receive rolling elements 9 such as spheres or cylinders. In the case where the rolling elements are spheres or balls, the cavities preferably have the shape of an empty cylinder, such as a right circular cylinder with a radius r which is equivalent to the width (wall to wall) of the cavity as shown in a cross-sectional view in Figure 2. In the case where the rolling element is a cylinder, the cavities may have a rectangular shape. In most embodiments, all of the rolling elements are of identical size and are made of the same material. In other embodiments, the rolling elements may be of different sizes. In a preferred embodiment the tops of the different rolling elements define a common plane and therefore when rolling elements are of different sizes the sockets size is accordingly different. However, in certain applications, it may be desirable to create sections of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure in which the rolling elements do not share a common plane. In yet other embodiments, the rolling elements may be made of different materials.

[033] The cavity wall 14 (or walls) comprises flanges 20 around each socket/cavity for retaining each rolling element 9. The flanges are configured to allow each rolling element to partially protrude above the surface 24. In one embodiment, the flange is a single continuous annulus around each socket. In another embodiment, the flange is a discontinuous multi-part annular member having a plurality of arced sectors divided by slits.

[034] For right circular cylinder cavities configured to receive spheres, the flange 20 is preferably continuous all around the perimeter of the cavity.

[035] The flanges 20 are preferably integrally formed in the body 10 and are flexible. By flexible it is meant that flange is elastically deformable, i.e. more malleable or resilient than the rolling element.

[036] The rolling element 9, once inserted into the cavity 12, is retained therein by its respective flange 20 that is configured to define an opening with a diameter (or cylindrical cross section in case of a cylinder) that is smaller than the diameter of the rolling element.

[037] The rolling action of the rolling element 9 is enabled by the relative dimensions of the rolling elements and the cavities. Thus the width of the opening measured at the tip of the flange, i.e. the internal diameter of the undeformed flange (i.e. prior to inserting the rolling element in the socket), while being smaller than the equatorial diameter, may be slightly larger than the diameter of the cross-sectional circle of the sphere or the cylinder immediately adjacent the tip of the flange to leave a little bit of slack or "wiggling" room.

[038] In the embodiment of Figure 3, the spacing between adjacent cavities 12 is greater than the diameter of each rolling element 9. In other embodiments, the spacing between adjacent cavities 12 may be less than the diameter of each rolling element 9.

[039] It will be appreciated that spheres are free to rotate omnidirectionally within the cavity. However, cylindrically shaped rolling elements rotate unidirectionally, i.e. rotate about a single axis. One or the other or both may be used depending on the configuration of the resilient object, direction of the forces applied during positioning and the like. [040] In one aspect of the invention the body 10 comprises a groove 22 around the opening of the cavities (Figure 4). The groove is formed by a depression in the surface 24 of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure and extends into the cavity 12 to form the upper part of the flange 20. The flange thus has an upper edge 26 that is at an angle relative to the surface 24 as shown in Figures 2 and 3.

[041] Internal friction of elastomeric materials such as rubber plays an important role in the total friction (which comprises surface adhesion and internal friction), especially when the rubber is displaced laterally on a surface while being pressed against that surface. The groove 22 can be advantageous to reduce both the internal friction and surface adhesion of rubber by providing a space that allows the rubber to deform in the vicinity of the rolling element (e.g. sphere) without touching the surface or touching with less force thereby reducing the energy absorbed (internal friction) by the rubber.

[042] Thus, without wishing to be bound by any theory, the groove/rolling element arrangement contributes to reducing surface adhesion (reducing contact surface and surface adhesion) but also reduces the internal friction component of friction. The reduction of both components of the friction is particularly advantageous in the context where the force applied on a resilient object being displaced or positioned in manufacturing system by human operators may vary significantly between operators, or even for a same operator, for a same object and same manufacturing system. Therefore both components of the friction will vary, making an ideal determination of the design and dimensions of the friction-reducing object- guiding structure for a particular application difficult. Thus, advantageously, the embodiment of the invention in which a groove is present provides additional flexibility to design the configuration/dimensions of the friction reducing parameters (protrusion height, size of rolling elements, spacing between rolling elements, size of the grooves) such that a particular configuration can reduce friction for a range of forces likely to be encountered for a particular resilient object/manufacturing system.

[043] The optimal dimensions (depth, angle, surface area) of the groove 22 depend of several factors. These factors include, without being limited to, the degree of deformability of the resilient object 11 , the required height (protruding height) of the rolling elements 9 above the surface 24, the force or range of forces that is applied to the resilient object against the surface, the speed at which the resilient object is displaced laterally (along) the surface, the temperature and the like. [044] The cavities 12 can be manufactured by drilling holes with a diameter, or width, slightly larger than the diameter of the sphere, or the cylindrical cross-sectional width of a cylinder, and a depth that is calculated to provide the desired protruding height of the rolling element.

[045] The flange 20 and groove 22 can be created by using a groove forming sphere with a diameter larger than the sphere to be inserted in the cavity 12, and therefore larger than the diameter or width of the cavity 12, and applying a force while it is sitting on top of the opening. This creates downward forces to form a depression in the surface around the opening. But it also creates tangential forces along the curvature of the groove forming sphere such that part of the surface 24 is pushed towards the inside of the cavity thereby creating the flange 20. The force applied to create the groove and flange depends on the desired depth of the groove, which directly influences the position (depth) of the flange, and the required height of the protrusion.

[046] In one aspect, for a body made of steel and openings with diameters or widths of about between 2 and 3 mm a reinforced steel groove forming sphere of about 4-6 mm can be used. The force applied to the groove forming sphere is generated by, or the equivalent of, a weight of about 2.3 kg (5 pounds) dropping on the groove forming sphere from about 4 inches (about 10 cm) high. For that purpose a punch with a groove forming sphere or part thereof at one end and a mechanism configured to generate the appropriate force can be used. It will be appreciated that the dimensions of the groove forming sphere and forces involved can be adjusted to create the desired dimensions of the groove 22 and the flange 20. In the case where the rolling element is a cylinder, a groove forming cylinder, having a cylindrical diameter larger than the cylinder used as rolling element can be used to form the groove.

[047] The spheres or cylinders may typically protrude above the surface by about 10 to 40% of their radius and preferably by about 30 to 40%, in some embodiments, to provide a contact surface with the resilient object.

[048] It will be appreciated that the spheres may not necessarily be perfectly round (i.e. spherical) and/or smooth. They may exhibit certain shapes (e.g. spheroid) that still allow rolling motion within the cavity while enhancing friction force with the object for better "gripping". Small depressions or dimples on the spheres as seen on golf balls could, for example, be used.

[049] The rolling elements 9 are inserted into the cavities 12 by pushing it against the flexible flange(s) 20 which is temporarily and/or partially deformed so that once the sphere or cylinder is inserted its equator is slightly below the tip 21 of the flange. The equator, it will be understood, is a plane of symmetry of the sphere or cylinder that extends through the centroid of the sphere or cylinder. [050] In a preferred embodiment, the rolling elements 9 are more rigid than the flange(s) 20 and the flange(s) will deform elastically to allow the rolling elements to be pushed into the cavity 12. The flange deforms elastically such that it returns substantially, or sufficiently, to its original position after the rolling element has been press-fitted or snapped into the socket to retain the element therein. The flexible flange is thus configured (sized and shaped) to deform, resiliently at least in part, as the rolling element is pressed into the socket. In the case where the body 10 (and therefore the flange 20) is made of metal, the flexible flange deforms from a first (i.e. original, undeformed) position to a second (flexed or deformed) position and regains part of its original shape once the rolling element greatest cross-section (mid part for a sphere) is below the tip of the flange. The rolling element is thereby retained in the socket. It will be appreciated that this metal resiliency is dependent on the nature of the metal the size of the flange, hardness of the rolling element and the like.

[051] The deformation of the flange and partial regaining of its original position, after the rolling element has been inserted, creates a small gap between the tip 21 of the flange 20 and rolling element 9. This small gap enables rolling action of the rolling element. [052] In one embodiment, the flexible flange is sufficiently elastically deformable such that it returns to within 50%, preferably within 10%, of its original undeformed position from its maximum deflection after insertion of the rolling element.

[053] The rolling elements (e.g. spheres or cylinders) can be made of various materials such as metal (e.g. stainless steel or aluminum), ceramic, plastic, glass, and the like. In the context of providing a flange that is "resilient" or elastically deformable, the rolling elements may be made, for example, of hardened steel while the body 10 of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 may be made of steel which is slightly softer than hardened steel.

[054] The groove/rolling element arrangement of at least some of the embodiments of the invention also provides a better seal to prevent debris from entering the cavities 12 than ball sockets known in the prior art which often necessitate a special seal to be manufactured and inserted in the socket for this purpose. [055] The upper edge 26 of the flange may also be coplanar with the surface 24. In this embodiment there is no groove 22. The flange 20 may be created by forming an undercut in the cavity. In the case where the body 10 is made of metal an electoerosion process with appropriately shaped electrodes may be used. [056] The rolling elements 9 may optionally be coated and/or roughened to enhance the coefficient of friction of the surface of the elements. The choice of the material is a function of the nature of the object, especially its surface. It will be appreciated that a degree of friction between the surface of the resilient object and the rolling element is necessary to generate the reciprocal movement of the balls and the object. For example, metal balls provide a necessary and sufficient friction with rubber but may not work as well if the surface of the object would be made of less deformable material. Metal rolling elements are particularly well suited for materials such as elastomeric materials such as rubber or TPV (thermoplastics).

[057] In one aspect, the cavities 12 are configured to retain the sphere or cylinder immobilized (non-rotating) therein. To that effect, the rolling elements 9 may be slightly larger than the cavity 12 which is deformed when the rolling element is inserted thereby making significant contact with the rolling element to prevent its rolling when the resilient object is displaced on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5. Alternatively, or in addition to, the flanges 20 may be configured so that they make contact with the rolling element even after the rolling element has been inserted. [058] The pattern (disposition and spacing) of the spheres or cylinders on the surface or surfaces of the body 10 of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 is dependent on the shape of the resilient object, the position within the manufacturing device, the required friction reduction and balance between friction coefficient and friction reduction and the like. In the particular example provided in Figure 3 spheres are arranged on both sides of a plate or blade and on the edge engaging the recess of the resilient object. The spheres provide multiple rolling contact points (or rolling contact zones).

[059] It will be appreciated however that the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may exhibit a variety of possible configurations depending on the case. For example, Figure 5 shows a different embodiment of the invention. In the example shown in Figure 5, the friction- reducing object-guiding structure has a pentagonal cross-section defined by two inclined surfaces having rolling balls and two parallel surfaces having rolling balls. As will be appreciated, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may have other shapes or geometries to accommodate differently shaped objects. For example, the surfaces can be curved with a radius of curvature that is sufficiently small as to not interfere with the configuration of the cavities or grooves/cavities.

[060] In another embodiment, the rolling elements 9 and the cavities 12 on the two faces of a plate can be configured to allow the rolling elements to make contact with each other to produce a knock-on effect when the object is engaged and displaced on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure.

[061] The rolling elements and/or the surfaces of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may also be coated to reduce the friction of the elements within the cavities. In one such embodiment the coating may comprise friction-reducing nanomaterial such as silicone. It may be applied by plasma coating. The choice of the coating may have to be balanced with the minimum friction required to "grip" the object.

[062] The sphere/cavities configuration may also or alternatively comprise a continuous cavity (or slot) comprising a plurality of spheres and allowing the spheres to not only roll within the cavity but to move in the direction of the displacement of the object.

[063] In another embodiment, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may comprise a rolling elements motion actuator that provides a force to generate rolling motion independent of the force applied by the friction with the moving resilient object. The actuator may be mechanical or magnetic for example. Such an actuator could include a plate slidingly insertable in the body 10 and making contact with the rolling elements 9 inside the body 10 whereby the sliding of the plate in and out generates a radial rolling force by friction with the spheres/cylinders.

[064] The size of the rolling elements 9 is chosen to optimize the displacement of the object with regard to friction, and ease and precision of positioning. The optimization may take into account a balance between friction and precision positioning since in the hypothetical case where the friction would be almost eliminated, it could be very difficult to accurately position the resilient object since the slightest force would create undesirable movement of the resilient object.

[065] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 can serve as a guide member to position an object in a manufacturing position within a device, machine or system such as an injection mold. The insertion of resilient, elastomeric materials, such as rubber objects, into manufacturing positions can be particularly difficult because of the high friction forces involved in the contact between the rubber and metal. Rubber is difficult to slide on surfaces such as metal because of very high friction coefficients, especially when the rubber is cold.

[066] As an example, an injection mold for overmolding of objects or substrates comprising resilient material such as elastomeric material is schematically represented in Figure 6. The mold comprises a first mold part 40 and a second mold part 42. With the mold open, the substrate(s) (such as rubber extrusions) 43 can be inserted and positioned in the first mold part in a first recess or mold cavity 44. The second mold part or a section thereof comprises a second recess 46 that cooperate with first recess 44 to form a closed cavity around the inserted substrate when the first and second mold parts are in a closed configuration. The cavity is designed to provide the desired overmolding shape.

[067] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 may serve as a guide member and be designed to be part of the mold. The substrate is inserted into the mold by sliding the substrate onto the friction-reducing object-guiding structure and into position. Depending on the shape of the substrate and configuration of the mold, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure provides flexibility in the manner by which the substrate is inserted. For example, the substrate may be slid over the length of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure or by sliding the substrate 43 down onto the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 or a combination of both. The reduction in the force required to position the substrate 43 enables more flexibility in the design of the mold by allowing certain substrate/mold configurations that would be otherwise precluded due to the excessive force required to position the substrate or because of damage caused to the substrate by the friction force. For example by enabling insertion of longer rubber extrusions.

[068] Referring to Figure 7, the substrate 43 can be, for example, an automotive weathering strip or sealing part having a recess 46, a carrier 48, which is a rigid part to keep the shape of the substrate and provide clipping force. The substrate 43 is shown engaged on the friction- reducing object-guiding structure 5 in the shape of an elongated blade (as in Figure 1 , shown in cross-section in Figure 7) so that an edge (or "contour edge") of the blade engages in the recess and the object is moved (slid) onto its manufacturing position. The surface of the weathering strip in the recess makes contact with the rolling elements (spheres or balls) 9 and their rolling action facilitates the sliding of the strip along the guide member.

[069] In the particular embodiment shown in Figure 7, the substrate 43 is a car weathering strip having lips 50 that play an attachment role when incorporated into a car assembly structure. The lips 50 may also be made of elastomeric material and, because of their relatively fragile design, are particularly prone to friction damage during a manufacturing process such as injection overmolding. It has been found that the friction-reducing object- guiding structure 5 of the present invention is particularly efficacious in protecting such delicate structures subjected to friction over surfaces such as metal surfaces.

[070] Furthermore, because the lips are particularly easy to deform they exhibit a fairly high internal friction when contacting the surface 24 as the substrate is displaced on the friction- reducing object-guiding structure. Thus in a further aspect of the invention, there is provided surface recesses 52 that are located between rolling elements 9, as shown in Figures 8A and 8B. The surface recesses 52 contribute to reduce the adhesion friction and the internal friction of the lips as they are successively biased towards the main body of the substrate 43 when contacting the rolling elements 9 and relaxing back to their original positions in between the rolling elements when the substrate is displaced on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure. It will be appreciated that this particular embodiment has been described using the lips 50 but the contribution of the surface recesses 52 to reducing friction is not limited to the particular substrate shown in Figure 7. The friction (adhesion and internal) of other

types/designs of lips or fringes may also be reduced. Furthermore the surface recesses 52 may also contribute to reducing friction of substantially flat substrate members, particularly when uneven forces are applied to the substrate to displace it on the friction-reducing object- guiding structure. The recesses 52 also provide additional flexibility in the design of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5. For example, the additional friction reduction created by the recesses 52 may enable a design in which the height rolling elements 9 protruding above the surface 24 or their size or their number are reduced since the loss of friction reducing effect of the rolling elements may be compensated by the recesses 52.

[071] In general, specifications dictated by car manufacturers can be stringent requiring that substrates such as the weathering strip described above be essentially free of imperfections or damage even very minor ones that can be created during processes such as injection molding or overmolding, application of thermosetting tapes and the like. In this respect elastomeric substrates can be easily permanently deformed when bent out of shape especially when simultaneously subjected to high pressures. In some cases the dimensions of the friction- reducing object-guiding structure and of the rolling elements are critical. In certain applications the required dimensions to avoid permanent deformation are comparatively very small. In the non-limiting example of a weathering strip as shown in Figure 3 or 7 the recess 46 may be of the order of a few mm, for example 10 mm or less. Therefore the friction-reducing object- guiding structure (blade) can have a width (width of the edge) requirement of less than about 5.0 mm and in some instances less than about 2.5 mm to avoid deformation of the strip. The rolling elements are accordingly small with diameters of about D= 1.5 to 2.5 mm (0.06 to 0.1 inch).

[072] In one embodiment the blade has a width of about 2.5 mm, the spheres have a diameter of about 2.3 mm of which about 0.5 mm protrudes from the surface 24 and about 1.8 mm is below the surface. That is to say, the cavities 12 have a depth of about 1.7 mm. The width or diameter of the cavity is between about 2.3254 and 2.35 mm providing an average gap between the rolling element 9, at its greatest cross-section, and the wall 14 of between about 0.0127 to 0.025 mm. The flange 20 as a length (wall 14 to tip of flange) of about 0.013 and 0.03 mm after the rolling element has been inserted in the cavity 12. Of course, the dimensions can be different from this example depending on the specific resilient object and manufacturing process. It will be appreciated that when the substrate is in contact with the rolling elements 9 and displaced on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure, the rolling elements may be pushed against the flange 20 and/or the wall 14 on one side or one section of the cavities 12 while still retaining their ability to roll.

[073] Such small dimensions are difficult if not impossible to realize with multi-part sockets that are known in the art. Furthermore, a high density of rolling elements (i.e. the number of rolling elements per unit of surface area) may be required to reduce the friction adequately. This implies close proximity of the cavities 12. The configuration of the friction-reducing object- guiding structure of at least some embodiments of the invention, having built-in cavities, enables minimum volume utilization for each cavity and therefore enables high density of rolling elements. In particular, the flange dimension is such as to allow the spheres or cylinders to occupy nearly the entire diameter (width) of the cavity.

[074] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 may comprise one or more stoppers configured to prevent the substrate from moving on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure once positioned inside the mold and during injection. For example, now referring to Figure 9, a stopper in the form of a projecting edge 55 is provided on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure and on which the back of the substrate 43 rests to prevent the substrate from recoiling during injection. The one or more stoppers may be moveable to adjust their position as required. [075] While the friction-reducing object-guiding structure (guide member) may be in the mold when the substrate is inserted therein, in one embodiment it is located externally to the mold to allow positioning of the substrate thereon and subsequently sliding or inserting the friction- reducing object-guiding structure with the object thereon into the mold. For this purpose the mold may comprise coupling members such as a rail or recess or track 58 for sliding or inserting the friction-reducing object-guiding structure, such as a blade, in the mold. External tracks 60 may also be provided. This facilitates the handling of the substrate by allowing the operator to mount the substrate on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure

unencumbered by the mold parts which can be bulky. The one or more stoppers can also be used to guide the positioning of the substrate which can be difficult in the context of molds with complex mold cavities. For example a stopper abutment(s) may be positioned at

predetermined position within the mold to stop the blade/substrate assembly at a desired position. Furthermore, the sliding or insertion of the blade into the mold is facilitated and can be more easily automated. [076] In yet another aspect, a part of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure is located externally while another part is in the mold and the substrate can be mounted externally and subsequently slid in and out the mold by transferring from the external part to the internal part inside the mold (and vice versa to remove the substrate from the mold). The external and internal parts may also be separate parts that are coupled, for example mechanically coupled, after the substrate has been mounted externally.

[077] Furthermore, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may comprise several parts. For example, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may comprise two plates creating a corridor or channel through which an elongated object can be inserted and pushed or slid into its manufacturing position. In this case, the rolling elements 9 such as spheres can be positioned only on the side of the plates facing the object.

[078] In yet another embodiment the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may be mounted on a stationary support and slid on that support into position inside the mold. For example the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may be a blade as shown in Figure 1 further comprising a recess and slideably engageable on another blade. The sliding may be enabled by sliding tracks such as a drawer sliding mechanism.

[079] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure can be part of the mold itself. That is to say the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may form an integral part of a mold wall, for example. Thus body 10 of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5 may be the mold walls/cavities themselves. Thus, the rolling elements 9 may protrude from the faces of the mold that engage the resilient object as it is inserted into position.

[080] The invention thereby provides multidimensional friction-reduction geometries through a combination of guide member shape and distribution of rolling elements.

[081] In yet another aspect of the invention there is provided an injection mold system comprising a friction-reducing object-guiding structure and a position detector. It is often difficult to determine the exact position of the substrate(s) especially when parts of the substrate are hidden from view in the mold. The control of the force exerted on the substrate to displace the substrate, even with a friction-reducing object-guiding structure, is not necessarily perfect and may render precise positioning, as required in injection overmolding, difficult. Referring to Figure 9, a position detector 62, such as a laser position detector emitting a laser beam, may be used to detect the position of the substrate inside the mold and to provide a signal indicative of the position to the operator to make manual adjustments or to a

microcontroller to automatically trigger a stop when the substrate has reached the desired position within the mold. The position detector 62 may therefore be coupled to a signal processor 64 and/or microcontroller to generate appropriate signals or automated actions.

[082] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure may also be used to mount resilient objects or substrates onto other object supports or bases for further processing or

manufacturing in a manufacturing process other than injection molding. For example, the friction-reducing object-guiding structure may be incorporated into the tape laying system described in WO2017049390.

[083] There is also provided a method for positioning a resilient object into a manufacturing position within a manufacturing device such as an injection mold. The method comprises steps of providing a friction-reducing object-guiding structure as described above, engaging the object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to allow displacement of the object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure while contacting the plurality of rolling elements and displacing the object on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure to reach the manufacturing position. [084] EXAMPLE

[085] Referring back to Figure 6, an injection mold is shown in the open position (prior to injection) and rubber extrusions 43 (a rubber part such as an automotive sealing part) to be overmolded to manufacture a finished part are inserted in the mold prior to injection using friction-reducing object-guiding structures 5 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The friction-reducing object-guiding structure can be an intrinsic (or integral) part of the mold or can be a separate part that is placed in the open mold prior to inserting the rubber extrusion 43 or with the rubber extrusion already on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure.

[086] The friction-reducing object-guiding structure is a guide member in the form of a plate or blade with ball bearings rollingly retained in the blade on each side of the blade and on the edge of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure 5. The rubber extrusions 43, having a recess, are slid on the friction-reducing object-guiding structure into position within the open mold. The insertion can be done manually or by an automated process, e.g. by a robot. In this particular example, the blade length spans substantially the length of the mold but this needs not be the case. It will be appreciated that the size, shape and position within the mold of the friction-reducing object-guiding structure will depend on the nature of the finished product and the part being overmolded.

[087] Once the rubber extrusions are in place, the mold is closed and injection is performed to overmold the rubber extrusions. Then, after a cooling period, the mold is opened and the finished product is removed. The guide member, because of its friction-reducing object-guiding properties, also facilitates the removal of the finished product from the mold.

[088] This example has been described with the friction-reducing object-guiding structures remaining in position with the rubber extrusions on them during the injection molding process. However, it is also possible to use one or both of the friction-reducing object-guiding structures to insert the resilient objects into position and remove the one or both of the friction-reducing object-guiding structures prior to closing of the mold and prior to injection or even after closing of the mold and prior to injection.

[089] For the purposes of interpreting this specification, when referring to elements of various embodiments of the present invention, the articles "a", "an", "the" and "said" are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms "comprising", "including", "having", "entailing" and "involving", and verb tense variants thereof, are intended to be inclusive and open-ended by which it is meant that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements. [090] This invention has been described in terms of specific embodiments, implementations and configurations which are intended to be exemplary only. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, having read this disclosure, that many obvious variations, modifications and refinements may be made without departing from the inventive concept(s) presented herein. The scope of the exclusive right sought by the Applicant(s) is therefore intended to be limited solely by the appended claims.