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Title:
IMPROVED LOCKING ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/115443
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention concerns a locking assembly comprising a first part, comprising a first leg and a second leg, to be securely attached to a second, wherein the legs are mounted such that they can be moved towards each other and away from each other in a first direction; the second part comprising an opening for receiving the legs when the first part is moved towards the second part in a second direction; the opening and legs configured such that when the legs pass through the opening, they first move towards each other and then away from each other; the second part comprising a spring mounted element configured such that it is first in sliding contact with the legs and then moves in a third direction, in between the legs, such that a movement of the legs towards each other in the first direction is hindered by the spring mounted element.

Inventors:
PLUIMERS, Guy (Rue Jean Volders 30, 4340 Awans, 4340, BE)
Application Number:
EP2018/084132
Publication Date:
June 20, 2019
Filing Date:
December 10, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SCHREDER S.A. (Rue de Lusambo 67, 1190 Brussels, 1190, BE)
International Classes:
F16B21/06; E05C19/06
Foreign References:
US4844645A1989-07-04
JPS61118086U1986-07-25
DE102010006571A12011-08-04
DE19601986A11997-07-24
DE102006015148A12007-10-11
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
D'HALLEWEYN, Nele Veerle Trees Gertrudis (Bezuidenhoutseweg 57, 2594 AC THE HAGUE, 2594 AC, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Locking assembly comprising a first part to be securely attached to a second part:

wherein the first part (100) comprises at least a first leg (110) and a second leg (120); wherein said first and second legs are mounted such that they can be moved towards each other and away from each other in a first direction (Dl); wherein the second part (200) comprises an opening (210) for receiving said first and second leg (110, 120) when said first part is moved towards said second part in a second direction (D2); wherein said opening (210) and said first and second leg (110, 120) are configured such that when said first and second leg pass through said opening in said second direction, the first and second leg first move towards each other in a first phase and away from each other in a second phase; wherein the second part (200) comprises a spring mounted element (220) configured such that it is in sliding contact with the first and second leg during the first phase and such that it moves in a third direction (D3), in between said first and said second leg in said second phase, such that a movement of the first and the second leg towards each other in the first direction (Dl) is hindered by the spring mounted element (230).

2. Locking assembly according to claim 1, wherein the first part (100) is a substantially U- shaped element, wherein the first (110) and second leg (120) each have a connected end and a free end, and wherein in locking the assembly the free ends of the first and second leg go through the opening first.

3. Locking assembly according to claim 2, wherein, in the unlocked state of the locking assembly, the distance between the respective free ends of the first leg (110) and second leg (120) along the first direction (Dl) is smaller than a width of the opening (210) along this first direction (Dl).

4. Locking assembly according to any of the previous claims, wherein the first direction (Dl) is substantially perpendicular to the second direction (D2).

5. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the first direction (Dl) is substantially perpendicular to the third direction (D3).

6. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the second direction (D2) is substantially perpendicular to the third direction (D3).

7. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the first (110) and second leg (120) are provided with a first protrusion (111) and a second protrusion (121), respectively.

8. Locking assembly according to claim 7, wherein the first protrusion (111) and the second protrusion (121) protrude in the first direction (Dl), preferably in substantially opposite directions.

9. Locking assembly according to claim 7 or 8, wherein the first protrusion (111) and the second protrusion (121) are arranged at substantially the same position along the second direction (D2).

10. Locking assembly according to any of the previous claims, wherein the first part (100) is substantially symmetric with respect to a plane perpendicular to the first direction (Dl).

11. Locking assembly according to claim 2 and claim 7 or 8, wherein the first protrusion (111) and the second protrusion (121) each comprise a top with a first slope (112, 122) closer to the free end and a second slope (113, 123) closer to the connected end, wherein when the first leg (110) and the second leg (120) are closest together, the distance between the respective tops of the protrusions along the first direction (Dl) is smaller than the width of the opening (210) in that first direction (Dl).

12. Locking assembly according to claim 11, wherein the angle between the first direction (Dl) and a line along the first slope (112, 122) is greater than the angle between the first direction (Dl) and a line along the second slope (113, 123), such that when the first (110) and second leg (120) pass through the opening (210) the legs gradually move towards each other until the top of the protrusion has passed through the opening, after which the legs move further apart from each other.

13. Locking assembly according to any of claims 7-12, wherein the first protrusion (111) and second protrusion (121) are formed as curved portions of the first leg (110) and second leg (120) respectively, preferably wherein the first leg and second leg are formed as an inclined S-profile.

14. Locking assembly according to any of claims 7-12, wherein the first protrusion (111) and second protrusion (121) are formed as a local thickening of the first leg (110) and second leg (120) respectively.

15. Locking assembly according to any of claims 7-14, wherein after locking of the first part (100) and the second part (200) the protrusions protrude in the direction of a first edge (211) and an opposite second edge (212) of the opening, respectively.

16. Locking assembly according to any of the previous claims, wherein the second part (200) comprises a portal shaped part (230) fixed above the opening (210), and the spring mounted element (220) protrudes in the direction of the opening (210) from the portal shaped part (230).

17. Locking assembly according to claim 16, wherein the spring mounted element is

substantially rectangular in shape.

18. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the spring mounted element has a width w, seen in the first direction (Dl) which is equal to or smaller than the distance between the first leg and the second leg seen in the first direction, in the unlocked state of the locking assembly.

19. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein at least a part of the spring-mounted element is accessible to a user in the locked state of the assembly, such that the spring-mounted element may be moved in the third direction from between the first leg and the second leg, wherein the movement is preferably in the opposite direction from the movement in the second phase.

20. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the second direction (D2) is different from the third direction (D3).

21. Locking assembly according to one of the previous claims, wherein the second direction (D2) is at an angle with respect to the third direction (D3), said angle being larger than 20°, preferably larger than 30°, more preferably larger than 45°.

22. Casing (1000) comprising a container (1200) and a cover (1100) for closing the container, wherein the first part (100) is fixed to or integrated in one of the container and the cover; and wherein the second part (200) is fixed to or integrated in the other one of the container and the cover.

23. Luminaire comprising a locking assembly according to any of claims 1-21 or the casing according to claim 22.

Description:
IMPROVED LOCKING ASSEMBLY

FIELD OF INVENTION

The field of the invention relates to locking devices. Particular embodiments relate to the field of locking assemblies for locking a cover on a container.

BACKGROUND

Various locking assemblies are known in the art. Many of these use“snap fit” mechanisms that make it possible to obviate the need for special tool. For instance, these“snap fit” locking mechanisms may comprise a first part which is inserted and locked into a second part which comprises an opening. In particular, materials which are at least somewhat elastic may be used in the first part in these types of“snap fit” mechanisms, which often operate on the principle that the first part, due to the use of at least somewhat elastic materials, contract to a certain degree when being fitted through the opening, and thereafter expand, thus resisting being returned through the opening.

Some of these locking assemblies are intended to provide (semi-) permanent locking. Others are intended to provide a locking mechanism which may be opened, either by using a certain amount of force or by contracting the first part again through some other mechanism. A disadvantage of many of these second locking mechanisms, which may be opened, is that ease of opening usually is associated with a less robust and secure locking. Furthermore, in some cases vibration or unintended movement may open the locking mechanism.

SUMMARY

The object of embodiments of the invention is to provide a simple, robust, secure and vibration resistant locking device providing a locking mechanism in two directions and which can be easily opened.

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a locking assembly comprising a first part to be securely attached to a second. The first part comprises at least a first leg and a second leg, which legs are mounted such that they can be moved towards each other and away from each other in a first direction. The second part, to which the first part is to be locked, comprises an opening for receiving said first and second leg when said first part is moved towards said second part in a second direction. Specifically, said opening and said first and second leg are configured such that when said first and second leg pass through said opening in said second direction, the first and second leg first move towards each other in a first phase and away from each other in a second phase. In particular, the movement in the second direction may lead to the movement of the legs closer to each other, for instance through contact with the edges of the opening. The second part comprises a spring mounted element configured such that it is in sliding contact with the first and second leg during the first phase and such that it moves in a third direction in between said first and said second leg in said second phase, such that a movement of the first and the second leg towards each other in the first direction is hindered by the spring mounted element.

Thus locking is achieved: the first part cannot move back through the opening without the first and second leg being closer to each other along the first direction, but the spring mounted element prevents this from happening. This locking is quite robust, since the spring-mounted element is rigid along the first direction, and because it is biased to stay in place. It is only by counteracting this and actively moving the spring mounted element away from its position between the legs that the first part may be removed from the second part.

In a preferred embodiment, the first part is a substantially U-shaped element, wherein the first and second leg each have a connected end and a free end, and wherein in locking the assembly the free ends of the first and second leg go through the opening first. This is one possible way to make the movement between the legs in the first direction possible: the distance between the connected ends stays constant while the distance between the free ends may decrease as the legs are passed through the opening.

The U-shape of the element has as a further advantage that the part connecting the connected ends may be fixed to a part which is to be locked, for instance a cover, a lid, a fixture, etc. Therefore, the U-shape allows the legs to be affixed to any part that is to be locked.

Preferably, in the unlocked state of the locking assembly, the distance between the respective free ends of the first leg and second leg along the first direction is smaller than a width of the opening along this first direction. This makes it possible to insert the free ends into the opening without needing any preparatory movement of the legs towards each.

Preferably, the first direction is substantially perpendicular to the second direction. This is preferred since it may lead to an efficient way for the movement of the first part in the second direction to lead to the movement of the legs toward each other in the first direction. Thus, the two directions being perpendicular may minimize the amount of force needed to lock the two parts together.

Preferably, the first direction is substantially perpendicular to the third direction. This allows for efficient insertion of the spring-mounted element between the two legs, and accordingly also for efficient removal of the spring-mounted element from between the two legs, thus making it possible to unlock the locking assembly.

Preferably, the second direction is different from the third direction. The second direction may be at an angle with respect to the third direction, said angle being larger than 20°, preferably larger than 30°, more preferably larger than 45°. More preferably, the second direction is substantially perpendicular to the third direction. This also assists in the efficient insertion of the spring- mounted element between the two legs, and it leads to insertion over only a small distance to be sufficient to robustly lock the locking assembly.

In a preferred embodiment, the first and second leg are provided with a first protrusion and a second protrusion, respectively. In locking the locking assembly, these protrusions will pass through the opening. The protrusions may constitute the broadest point of the first part in the first direction, at least in the unlocked state of the locking assembly. The protrusions may strengthen the locking of the locking assembly, since they may additionally impede a movement back through the opening, when movement to bring the two legs closer towards each other is impeded by the spring- mounted element. Preferably, the first protrusion and the second protrusion protrude in the first direction, even more preferably in substantially opposite directions.

In preferred embodiments, the first protrusion and the second protrusion are arranged at substantially the same position along the second direction. This prevents lateral movement in the first direction from taking place. More generally, it is advantageous if the first part is substantially symmetric with respect to a plane perpendicular to the first direction, since this prevents any undesired movement not relating to the locking mechanism from occurring.

The first protrusion and the second protrusion may each comprise a top with a first slope closer to the free end and a second slope closer to the connected end, wherein when the first leg and the second leg are closest together, the distance between the respective tops of the protrusions along the first direction is smaller than the width of the opening in that first direction. This ensures that the protrusions can fit through the opening in the locking of the locking assembly. The angle between the first direction and a line along the first slope is preferably greater than the angle between the first direction and a line along the second slope, such that when the first and second leg pass through the opening the legs gradually move towards each other until the top of the protrusion has passed through the opening, after which the legs move further apart from each other. The gradual slope towards the free ends makes sure that the first part can be locked to the second part without requiring too much force, since this slope ensures gradual movement of the legs toward each other. The steeper slope after the tops of the protrusions have passed through the opening means that the legs will spring back apart, which may have as an advantage that a user gets tangible feedback of the locking assembly having been locked. The precise shape of the protrusion may also differ from this, for instance by having a changing slope, depending on the intended strength of the locking and the desired tactile feedback. The positioning of the top of the protrusion may be chosen such that the spring-mounted element moves between the two legs when legs move away from each other. The skilled person will be able to determine the ideal shape and position of the protrusions depending on a desired result.

In an embodiment, the first protrusion and second protrusion are formed as curved portions of the first leg and second leg respectively, preferably wherein the first leg and second leg are formed as an inclined S-profile. Alternatively, the first protrusion and second protrusion may be formed as a local thickening of the first leg and second leg respectively. Both of the abovementioned types of protrusions protrude outward along the first direction, such that movement of the first part through the opening causes the legs to move towards each other in the first direction.

Preferably, after locking of the first part and the second part the protrusions protrude in the direction of a first edge and an opposite second edge of the opening, respectively. This adds to the robustness of the locking mechanism.

In a preferred embodiment, the second part comprises a portal shaped part fixed above the opening and the spring mounted element protrudes in the direction of the opening from the portal shaped part. This means that as the legs are moved through the opening, the spring-mounted element is in the way, and will be pushed away by the legs as soon as they are closer together than a width of the spring-mounted element in the first direction. Once the legs move apart, creating space for the spring-mounted element, the spring-mounted element will be pushed in the direction of the opening from the portal shaped part, and thus end up between the two legs, making sure they cannot be moved closer together again unless the spring-mounted element is displaced. Preferably, the spring mounted element is substantially rectangular in shape. The spring mounted element may have a width w, seen in the first direction, which is equal to or smaller than the distance between the first leg and the second leg seen in the first direction, in the unlocked state of the locking assembly. This is to allow the spring-mounted element to fit between the legs. In the locked state, the spring-mounted element impedes movement of the legs towards each other in the first direction, at least to the extent that the first part is not able to move back through the opening in the second direction, thus adding to the robustness of the locking assembly.

In a preferred embodiment, at least a part of the spring-mounted element is accessible to a user in the locked state of the assembly, such that the spring-mounted element may be moved in the third direction from between the first leg and the second leg, wherein the movement is preferably in the opposite direction from the movement in the second phase. This allows for the unlocking of the locking assembly, since without the spring-mounted element being present between the first leg and the second leg, the first leg and second leg may be moved together in the first direction, for instance by a user, which in turn allows for movement along the second direction, in a direction opposite to the movement in the first phase of the locking process, thus opening the locking assembly. This combination of movements is unlikely to happen accidentally, thus assuring the robustness of the locking mechanism.

In another aspect, the invention relates to a casing comprising a container and a cover for closing the container, wherein the first part is fixed to or integrated in one of the container and the cover; and wherein the second part is fixed to or integrated in the other one of the container and the cover. Thus, the locking assembly as described above and below may be used to securely yet releasably lock a cover to a container.

In a third aspect, the locking assembly as described above, as well as the casing described in the previous paragraph, may be advantageously used as part of a luminaire. In particular, it may be necessary to replace lamps or other parts of luminaires, which necessitates a robust locking mechanism which will not accidentally open for instance in the presence of vibrations, but which is unlockable in a straightforward manner when such replacements need to take place. Therefore, the locking assembly of the invention is particularly useful in the field of luminaires and luminaire casings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying drawings are used to illustrate presently preferred non-limiting exemplary embodiments of devices of the present invention. The above and other advantages of the features and objects of the invention will become more apparent and the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figures 1A-1C illustrates schematically an exemplary embodiment of a locking assembly in an open state, in a position between the open and the closed state, and in the closed locked state;

Figure 2 illustrates schematically another exemplary embodiment of a locking assembly in an open state;

Figure 3 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a casing; and

Figure 4 shows a top view of an exemplary embodiment of a locking assembly according to the invention in the locked state.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Figure 1 A displays the locking assembly in an open state, just prior to locking. The first part 100 and second part 200 are not connected. The first part in this particular embodiment may be described as Christmas-tree-shaped: it is comprised of a first leg 110 with a first protrusion 111 and a second leg 120 with a second protrusion 121, wherein the first leg 110 and the second leg 120 are connected via a connecting part 130, which connecting part may be affixed to, for instance, a container or a cover. In the figure, screws or nails through a plurality of openings are used to affix the first part, but many other connecting means will be known to the skilled person.

The free ends of the first leg 110 and second leg 120 are at a certain distance from each other. This distance is preferably smaller than the width of opening 210 in the first direction Dl, such that the legs may be inserted into the opening without needing to be moved. Further on from the free ends of the first leg 110 and second leg 120 respectively, the distance between the two legs gradually increases until the respective first protrusion 110 and second protrusion 121, after which it sharply decreases. In the particular embodiment shown, the distance thereafter increases again, but the skilled person will realize that this does not need to be the case on all embodiments.

The first part is preferably at least in part made of an at least somewhat elastic material, such that the legs may move towards each other, as well as optionally away from each other, if subjected to a certain amount of force. In particular, the first part may be at least partially made of a metal with the requisite level of elasticity, or of a plastic material with the requisite level of elasticity.

The first leg 110 and second leg 120 are preferably mirrored versions of each other with respect to a plane perpendicular to the first direction Dl. More preferably, first leg 110 and second leg 120 are each additionally symmetric with respect to a plane perpendicular to the third direction D3.

The second part 200 may be affixed to a cover or a container using any known means. Second part 200 comprises an opening 210. Opening 210 is rectangular in shape in the figure, but may also have a different shape, depending on the shape of the first part and the desired locking properties. Preferably, the width of the opening in the first direction Dl, between first edge 211 and second edge 212, is larger than the distance between the first leg 110 and the second leg 120 of the first part 100 when the locking assembly is in the unlocked state.

Second part 200 further comprises a spring-mounted element 220, which in the depicted embodiment takes the form of a substantially flat, substantially rectangular element which is attached on one side only to second part 200.“Spring-mounted” may be interpreted broadly, and may cover any element which may move in the third direction D3 while remaining attached to second part 200, and which is biased, as will be discussed in more detail later, to a position between first leg 110 and second leg 120 of the first part in the locked state of the locking assembly.

In the shown embodiment, second part 200 comprises a portal shaped part fixed above the opening 200, and the spring mounted element 220 protrudes in the direction of opening 210 from the portal shaped part. However, the skilled person will be capable of envisaging many other shapes for the spring-mounted element.

Figure IB displays the locking assembly in a position between the open and the closed state. In particular, this figure shows the locking assembly toward the end of the first phase, in which first leg 110 and second leg 120 are substantially as close to each other as they can get. The legs have been pushed towards each other due to the fact that when the first part moved in the second direction, the edges of opening 210 come into contact with first leg 110 and second leg 120. Due to the gradual slope of the legs, as the first part moves in the second direction, the legs are pressed towards each other in the first direction. Note that in the figure, first leg 110 and second leg 120 are depicted as almost touching at this point in the locking of the assembly, but this need not be the case. As may be seen in the figure, at this stage first leg 110 and second leg 120 have moved towards each other to such an extent that the distance between the top of first protrusion 111 and second protrusion 112 becomes small enough for the protrusions to fit through opening 210.

In the figure, spring-mounted element 220 is behind first leg 110 and second leg 120, and is in sliding contact with the legs. Therefore the spring-mounted element does not impede movement of the legs towards each other during this first phase.

Figure 1C displays the locking assembly in the closed locked stage, more in particular after the second stage. After first protrusion 111 and second protrusion 121 have passed through opening 210, it is possible for first part 100 to return to its configuration in the unlocked state of the locking assembly, and it does. In particular, first leg 110 and second leg 120 move away from each other, with the protrusions protruding in the direction of a first edge 211 and an opposite second edge 212 of the opening, respectively. Preferably, the increase in the distance between first leg 110 and second leg 120 after first protrusion 111 and second protrusion 121 is somewhat abrupt, which may give a user tactile feedback that the first part is locked to the second part. While in the shown embodiment the distance between first leg 110 and second leg 120 starts increasing again in the direction of the connected ends, this need not be the case.

Once the legs move apart, spring-mounted element 220 may move in the third direction D3 in between first leg 110 and second leg 120, thus hindering or impeding any movement of the first leg 110 and second leg 120 towards each other in the first direction Dl. To enable this, the width w of the spring-mounted element is chosen such that it may fit between first leg 110 and second leg 120, in particular between the respective free ends of first leg 110 and second leg 120.

The presence of the spring-mounted element which impedes movement of first leg 110 and second leg 120 towards each other makes sure the first part cannot move backwards in the second direction D2 through opening 210, and therefore assures a robust, vibration-resistant locking mechanism which is less susceptible than many existing locking assemblies to forces along first direction Dl and in particular along second direction D2. Furthermore, by moving spring-mounted element 220 in the third direction D3, which is different from and preferably perpendicular to first direction Dl and/or second direction D2, the locking assembly may be unlocked without requiring significant use of force. Figure 2 illustrates schematically another exemplary embodiment of a locking assembly in an open state. In this embodiment, the first part is U-shaped with first leg 110 and second leg 120 substantially parallel to each other. First protrusion 111 and second protrusion 121 are embodied as a thicker part of the respective legs, instead of as a shaping of the leg itself. However, in this embodiment as well, the slope towards the free ends of the respective legs 112, 122 is a more gradual slope than the slope 113, 123 on the opposite side of the protrusion.

The skilled person will understand that in closing this particular embodiment, the legs will at first stay substantially parallel to each other, until the beginning of protrusions 111, 121 reaches the edges of opening 210, after which the legs gradually move towards each other and thereafter away from each other, once protrusions 111, 121 have fully passed through opening 210.

Note that in this embodiment, since the movement of the legs in first direction Dl may be slighter, the elasticity of the legs may be smaller, through the choice of a different material and/or of a different thickness of material.

In figure 2, spring-mounted element 220 is shown in more detail, as a hatch-shaped element. The element is out of the way when the hatch is closed, but may open to move along third direction D3 to insert itself between first leg 110 and second leg 120 in the closed, locked state of the locking assembly, thus making sure the legs cannot move towards each other and that the first part cannot be removed from the second part through opening 210. To that end, in the state in which spring- mounted element 220 is between the legs of the first part, the distance between the tops of protrusions 111, 112 should be greater than the width of opening 210.

Figure 3 shows a casing 1000 comprising a container 1200 and a cover 1100, which may be locked using the locking assembly according to the invention. In the figure, first part 100 is attached to container 1200 and second part 200 is attached to cover 1100, but it should be clear that the reverse is also a possibility.

First part 100 and second part 200 are aligned such that, when the cover is closed on the container, the legs of the first part are aligned with opening 210 of second part 200. Upon closing the cover on the container, the legs are inserted into the opening, which leads to the legs moving towards each other and thereafter away from each other as described above. The cover and container are thus robustly locked to each other in a vibration-proof manner, until the spring-mounted element is moved away from the space between the legs of the first part and the cover may be opened again. Figure 4 shows a top view of an exemplary embodiment of the locking assembly according to the invention, which may be the embodiment shown in Figs. 1A-1C, in the locked state. By top view, a view along the second direction D2 is meant, i.e. looking through opening 210 of second part 200. In the figure, this opening is rectangular in shape, but it may also have any other suitable shape. Furthermore, while this is not visible in the top view, the opening may be recessed, such that even in the locked state no part of legs 110 and 120 extends beyond the surface on which the locking assembly is installed.

In the locked state, legs 110 and 120, of which the free ends may be seen in Fig. 4, are at a certain distance from each other. They are prevented from moving closer together due to the presence of spring-mounted element 220, which keeps them apart.

Preferably, opening 210 is accessible from the direction from which this figure is drawn, such that a user may push spring-mounted element 220 along third direction D3, in the direction which is up in Fig. 4, such that it moves from between legs 110 and 120. Thereafter, legs 110 and 120 may move towards each other along first direction Dl, preferably also through user action, and the locking assembly may be opened. For this purpose, opening 210 is preferably at least big enough to allow insertion of a user’ s finger.

It should be clear to the skilled person that the above-described embodiments are merely exemplary, and should not be interpreted in a limiting fashion. Many alternative shapes are possible for many of the elements of the embodiments, including but not limited to the legs of the first part, the protrusions, the first part as a whole, the opening, the spring-mounted element and the second element as a whole.