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Title:
ELASTOMERIC CONNECTOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2012/094778
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An elastomeric connector may include a non-conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side. A plurality of conductive elements may be embedded within the elastomeric body. A first portion of the conductive elements may be arranged in a first contact region of the elastomeric body, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the first contact region. A second portion of the conductive elements may be arranged in a second contact region of the elastomeric body, spaced from the first contact region, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the second contact region. The first and/or second conductive paths may define contact regions that may be of any suitable shape including non-circular shapes such as generally L-shaped, generally V-shaped, generally kidney bean shaped, or any other suitable shape, as desired.

Inventors:
THANIGACHALAM, Palani (Tallam Shuddha Residency, F. No. 10814th-A Main, 6th Cross, N.S. Palya, BTM 2nd Stag, Bangalore Kamataka 6, 560076, IN)
WADE, Richard (297 Halligan Avenue, Worthington, OH, 43085, US)
ECKHARDT, Todd (7042 Jean Court, Westerville, OH, 43082, US)
WANG, Ru (Room 102, Building 33Zijinmingzhu, No. 8, Xinghai Road,Baixia Distric, Nanjing Jiangshu 4, 210014, CN)
Application Number:
CN2011/000064
Publication Date:
July 19, 2012
Filing Date:
January 14, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC. (101 Columbia Road, POB 2245Morristown, NJ, 07962-9806, US)
THANIGACHALAM, Palani (Tallam Shuddha Residency, F. No. 10814th-A Main, 6th Cross, N.S. Palya, BTM 2nd Stag, Bangalore Kamataka 6, 560076, IN)
WADE, Richard (297 Halligan Avenue, Worthington, OH, 43085, US)
ECKHARDT, Todd (7042 Jean Court, Westerville, OH, 43082, US)
WANG, Ru (Room 102, Building 33Zijinmingzhu, No. 8, Xinghai Road,Baixia Distric, Nanjing Jiangshu 4, 210014, CN)
International Classes:
H01R13/24
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHINA PATENT AGENT (H.K.) LTD. (22/F, Great Eagle Centre23 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, Kong, CN)
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Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1 . An elastomeric connector, comprising:

a non-conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side, the elastomeric body defining four corners on the first major side with a contact region adjacent each of the four corners, wherein each of the contact regions is spaced from the other contact regions and electrically insulated from each of the other contact regions by the non- conductive elastomeric body, and wherein each of the contact regions is non-circular in shape; each of the contact regions formed by a plurality of conductive elements located within the elastomeric body, the plurality of conductive elements form a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side of the elastomeric body in a corresponding contact region.

2. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body is substantially free from conductive elements in the regions between the contact regions.

3. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein the first major side has a maximum length dimension and a maximum width dimension, and wherein each of the contact regions has a maximum length dimension that is at least 5 percent of the maximum length dimension of the first major side, and each of the contact regions has a maximum width dimension that is at least 5 percent of the maximum width dimension of the first major side.

4. The elastomeric connector of claim 3, wherein a spacing between two adjacent contact regions is at least 5% of the maximum length dimension of the first major side.

5. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , further comprising an aperture extending completely through the elastomeric body from the first major side to the second major side.

6. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body includes silicone.

7. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body is generally rectangular in shape.

8. The elastomeric connector of claim 7, wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body is generally square in shape.

9. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , further comprising an aperture extending completely through the elastomeric body from the first major side to the second major side, wherein the aperture is generally rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, circular, or oval in shape.

10. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein each of the contact regions forms a shape on the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body, and wherein the shapes of all of the contact regions are substantially the same.

1 1. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein each of the contact regions form a shape on the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body, wherein the shape is generally an L-shape.

12. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein each of the contact regions form a shape on the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body, wherein the shape is generally a V-shape.

13. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 , wherein each of the contact regions form a shape on the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body, wherein the shape is generally a kidney bean shape.

14. An elastomeric connector, comprising:

a non-conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side;

a plurality of conductive elements embedded within the elastomeric body, wherein: a first portion of the conductive elements are arranged in a first contact region of the elastomeric body, and provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the first contact region;

a second portion of the conductive elements are arranged in a second contact region of the elastomeric body, spaced from the first contact region, and provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the second contact region; and wherein the region of the elastomeric body between the first portion and the

second portion is substantially free of conductive elements.

15. The elastomeric connector of claim 14, wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body includes silicone.

16. The elastomeric connector of claim 14, wherein:

a third portion of the conductive elements are arranged in a third contact region of the elastomeric body, and provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the third contact region;

a fourth portion of the conductive elements are arranged in a fourth contact region of the elastomeric body, and provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the fourth contact region; and

wherein the first, second, third and fourth contact regions are spaced from and electrically insulated from each other.

17. The elastomeric connector of claim 16, wherein the elastomeric body defines four corners with the first, second, third and fourth contact regions adjacent a corresponding one of the four corners.

1 8. The elastomeric connector of claim 17, further comprising an aperture extending completely through the elastomeric body from the first major side to the second major side.

19. The elastomeric connector of claim 1 8, wherein the elastomeric body is generally rectangular in shape, and wherein the aperture is generally rectangular in shape.

20. The elastomeric connector of claim 14, wherein the non-conductive elastomeric body and the plurality of conductive elements are formed using a Liquid Injection Molding of Silicone (LIMS) process.

21. An elastomeric connector, comprising:

a non-conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side, the first major side defining a maximum lateral dimension;

an aperture extending completely through the elastomeric body from the first major side to the second major side;

two or more spaced contact regions, wherein each of the contact regions is formed by a plurality of conductive elements embedded within the elastomeric body, the plurality of conductive elements forming a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side of the elastomeric body in a corresponding contact region; and wherein each of the contact regions has a maximum dimension along the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body that is at least 10 percent of the maximum dimension of the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body.

Description:
ELASTOMERIC CONNECTOR

Technical Field

The disclosure relates generally to electrical connectors, and more particularly, to elastomeric based electrical connectors.

Background

Elastomeric based electrical connectors are often used to provide a relatively compliant and sometimes less expensive electrical connection between two electrical components or devices. What would be desirable is an improved elastomeric based electrical connector.

Summary

The disclosure relates generally to electrical connectors, and more particularly, to elastomeric connectors. In one illustrative embodiment, an elastomeric connector may include a non-conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side. A plurality of conductive elements may be embedded within the elastomeric body. A first portion of the conductive elements may be arranged in a first contact region of the elastomeric body, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the first contact region. A second portion of the conductive elements may be arranged in a second contact region of the elastomeric body, spaced from the first contact region, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the second contact region. The region of the elastomeric body between the first portion and the second portion may be substantially free of conductive elements.

In some cases, a third portion of the conductive elements may be arranged in a third contact region of the elastomeric body, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the third contact region. A fourth portion of the conductive elements may also be arranged in a fourth contact region of the elastomeric body, and may provide a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side in the fourth contact region. When so provided, the first, second, third and fourth contact regions may be spaced from and electrically insulated from each other. In some instances, the elastomeric body may define four corners with the first, second, third and fourth contact regions positioned adjacent a corresponding one of the four corners.

In some instances, the non-conductive elastomeric body and the plurality of conductive elements may be formed using a Liquid Injection Molding of Silicone (LIMS) process. Also, and in some instances, the contact regions may be of any suitable shape including non-circular shapes such as generally L-shaped, generally V-shaped, generally kidney bean shaped, or any other suitable shape, as desired. Also, in some instances, each of the contact regions may have a maximum dimension along the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body that is at least 5 percent of the maximum dimension of the first major side of the non-conductive elastomeric body, but this is not required.

In another illustrative embodiment, an elastomeric connector may include a non- conductive elastomeric body having a first major side and an opposing second major side. The elastomeric body may define four corners on the first major side with a contact region adjacent each of the four corners. Each of the contact regions may be spaced from the other contact regions and electrically insulated from each of the other contact regions by the non-conductive elastomeric body. Each of the contact regions may be formed by a plurality of conductive elements located within the elastomeric body. The plurality of conductive elements may form a conductive path from the first major side of the elastomeric body to the opposing second major side of the elastomeric body in a corresponding contact region.

The above summary is not intended to describe each and every disclosed illustrative example or every implementation of the disclosure. The Description that follows more particularly exemplifies various illustrative embodiments.

Brief Description of the Figures

The following description should be read with reference to the drawings. The drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, depict selected illustrative embodiments and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure. The disclosure may be more completely understood in consideration of the following description of various illustrative embodiments in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic perspective cutaway view of an assembly that includes an illustrative elastomeric connector; Figure 2 is a schematic isometric view of an illustrative elastomeric connector; and Figures 3-6 are schematic plan views of illustrative elastomeric connectors having various contact region shapes. Description

The following description should be read with reference to the drawings, in which like elements in different drawings are numbered in like fashion. The drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, depict selected illustrative embodiments and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure. Although examples of construction, dimensions, and materials are illustrated for the various elements, those skilled in the art will recognize that many of the examples provided have suitable alternatives that may be utilized.

Figure 1 is a schematic perspective cutaway view of an assembly 100 that includes an illustrative elastomeric connector 102. Assembly 100 may represent a pressure sensor assembly, but this is not required. It is contemplated that devices and methods of the present disclosure may be practiced with respect to any suitable device or assembly, as desired. The illustrative pressure sensor assembly 100 of Figure 1 provides fluid paths 104 and 106 to opposing sides of a pressure die 108. Elastomeric connector 102 provides one or more conductive paths 107 for connecting electrical signals between the pressure die 108 and a lead frame 1 10, which may include external electrical terminals for pressure sensor assembly 100. Lead frame 1 10, along with cover 1 12, may form an enclosure or package for pressure sensor assembly 100.

In the illustrative embodiment of Figure 1, the elastomeric connector 102 may not only provide conductive paths 107 for electrically connecting pads on the pressure die 108 with correspond pads of lead frame 1 10 in a relatively compliant way, but may also help provide a fluid tight seal between the pressure die 108 and the lead frame 1 10. That is, in some instances, the elastomeric connector 102 may be compressed between the pressure die 108 and the lead frame 1 10 to provide a seal. A media seal 1 14 may also be provided to create a seal between the pressure die 108 and the cover 1 12. In some instances, lead frame 1 10 and cover 1 12 may be permanently or temporarily attached to help maintain a compression of the elastomeric connector 102 and/or media seal 1 14.

The elastomeric connector 102 and media seal 1 14 may each help prevent fluid from leaking between itself and any surface with which it is in contact. For example, elastomeric connector 102 may help prevent fluid disposed in fluid path 106 from leaking to spaces 1 16 by virtue of the sealing action of the elastomeric connector 102 between itself and lead frame 1 10, and by virtue of the sealing action between itself and pressure die 108. Together, and when disposed in assembly 100, elastomeric connector 102 and media seal 1 14 may help prevent fluid (fluid can include gas and/or liquid) leakage between fluid paths 104 and 106. They may also help prevent fluid leakage from fluid paths 104 and 106 to the exterior of assembly 100, and/or from the exterior of the assembly to either or both of the fluid paths 104 and 106.

Figure 2 is a schematic isometric view of an illustrative elastomeric connector 200, which may be like or similar to elastomeric connector 102 of Figure 1. The illustrative elastomeric connector 200 may include a non-conductive elastomeric body 202 having a first major side 203, an opposing second major side 205, and four corners 209, 21 1 , 213 and 215. In some instances, non-conductive elastomeric body 202 may be generally rectangular in shape, as illustrated, but this is not necessary. If generally rectangular, non-conductive elastomeric body 202 may further be generally square in shape, but again, this is not required. In some instances, elastomeric connector 200 may include an aperture 204 that extend completely through the elastomeric body 202 from the first major side 203 to the opposing second major side 205. When provided, it is contemplated that aperture 204 may have any suitable shape including generally rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, circular, oval, or any other suitable shape, as desired.

The illustrative elastomeric connector 200 shown in Figure 2 may include one or more electrically conductive paths, such as path 206, between its top 203 and bottom 205 major sides (top and bottom are merely stated in reference to the illustrated orientation of the connector in Figure 2 and do not limit the orientation of the connector in actual use). Elastomeric connector 200 of Figure 2 is illustrated with four conductive paths, each having a contact region 208 on the top major side 203 adjacent one of the four corners. Each of the contact regions 208 may be spaced from the other contact regions and electrically insulated from each of the other contact regions by the non-conductive elastomeric body 202. Each of the conductive paths 206 may conduct electrically from a contact region 208 on the top 203 major side to a corresponding contact region (not seen in the view of Figure 2) on the bottom 205 major side of the elastomeric body 202. Corresponding contact regions on opposing major sides 203 and 205 of the elastomeric connector 200 may have essentially the same or similar shapes, or they may have different shapes, depending on the application. Figure 3 is a schematic plan view of an illustrative elastomeric connector 300, which may be like or similar to elastomeric connector 102 of Figure 1 and/or elastomeric connector 200 of Figure 2. As shown, the illustrative elastomeric connector 300 may have a maximum length dimension L and a maximum width dimension W, as indicated in Figure 3 in relation to the illustrated top major side 303. Each of the contact regions 308 may have a maximum length dimension 1 and a maximum width dimension w. In some illustrative embodiments, each of the contact regions 308 may have a maximum length dimension 1 that is at least 5%, 10%, 17%, 25%, 40%, or any other suitable fraction, of the maximum length dimension L of the elastomeric connector 300. In some illustrative embodiments, each of the contact regions 308 may have a maximum dimension (e.g. diagonal across) that is at least 5%, 10%, 17%, 25%, 40%, or any other suitable fraction, of the maximum dimension (e.g. diagonal across) the elastomeric connector 300.

In some illustrative embodiments, each of the contact regions 308 may have a maximum width dimension w that is at least 5%, 10%, 1.7%, 25%, 40%, or any other suitable fraction, of the maximum width dimension W of the elastomeric connector 300. The distance between any pair of contact regions 308 may be characterized by a spacing distance, such as the distance d illustrated between the two contact regions at the top of Figure 3. The distance between any pair of contact regions may be the smallest separation between the two contact regions at their closest points. In some illustrative embodiments, the spacing between all contact regions and/or any pair of contact regions is at least 5%, 10%, 17%, 25%, 40%, or any other suitable fraction, of the maximum length dimension L and/or the maximum width dimension W of the elastomeric connector 300.

As illustrated in Figure 3, each of the contact regions 308 on the top major side of elastomeric connector 300 may form a shape. In some illustrative embodiments, as in the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3, the shapes of all the contact regions 308 may be substantially the same, but this is not required. In some illustrative embodiments, as in the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3, each contact region 308 may have substantially the same shape as the other contact regions and may be rotated substantially 90 degrees with respect to its neighboring contact regions, such that a square elastomeric connector, when rotated, presents essentially the same pattern of contact regions. In some illustrative embodiments, a non-square but rectangular elastomeric connector may possess sufficient symmetry so as to present essentially the same pattern of contact regions 308 when rotated by 90 degrees. In some illustrative embodiments (not illustrated), elastomeric connectors may be manufactured in other shapes such as triangles, pentagons, hexagons, etc., sometimes with sufficient symmetry so as to present essentially the same pattern of contact regions when rotated a sufficient number of degrees. Further, in some illustrative embodiments, contact regions 308 and corresponding contact regions on the opposing major side may be symmetrical such that an elastomeric connector may present essentially the same pattern of contact regions when flipped over from one major side to the other major side.

It is contemplated that the contact regions 308 and corresponding conducting paths may take on any suitable shape. Various shapes of contact regions may provide greater or lesser degrees of contact area between themselves and electrodes or conductive contacts of other components with which they are brought into contact. In Figure 3, elastomeric connector 300 includes contact regions 308 that may be described as having an L-shape, or a sharp L-shape. In Figure 4, elastomeric connector 400 shows contact regions 408 that may be described as having an L-shape, or a soft L-shape, or a kidney-bean shape. In Figure 5, elastomeric connector 500 includes contact regions 508 that may be described as having a triangular shape or soft triangle shape. In Figure 6, elastomeric connector 600 includes contact regions 608 that may be described as having a V-shape or soft V-shape. In some illustrative embodiments, elastomeric connectors may include conductive paths with generally non-circular contact regions, but this is not required. In some illustrative embodiments, an elastomeric connector may only include conductive paths and/or contact regions that are non-circular in shape.

The elastomeric connectors shown in the present disclosure may be manufactured by any suitable technique or method, and from any suitable material or materials. In some illustrative embodiments, non-conductive elastomeric bodies such as body 202 of elastomeric connector 200 of Figure 2 include silicone. In some illustrative embodiments, elastomeric connectors may be formed using a Liquid Injection Molding of Silicone system or process (LIMS). For example, and in some illustrative embodiments, a disordered mixture of uncured elastomer, such as liquid silicone, and a plurality of conductive elements may be injected or otherwise placed in a mold. The conductive elements may, for example, include metal particles such as balls and/or wires. Magnetic fields may then be applied to localize the conductive elements into conductive paths that have a suitable predetermine shape. Magnetic properties such as paramagnetism may induce the conductive elements to localize to and/or align with an imposed magnetic field engineered to manipulate the conductive elements during manufacture. The elastomer may then be allowed to cured, with the conductive elements in the desired locations. In some instances, the conductive elements may be squeezed, compressed, or otherwise brought into even more intimate electrical contact when the elastomeric body is compressed, such as between pressure die 108 and lead frame 1 10 of Figure 1.

The disclosure should not be considered limited to the particular examples described above. Various modifications, equivalent processes, as well as numerous structures to which the disclosure can be applicable will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art upon review of the instant specification. Other steps may be provided, or steps may be eliminated, from the described methods, and other components may be added to, or removed from, the described devices.