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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
ROOF PANEL AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING SAID PANEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/092207
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The application discloses a panel (4, 5) for use in a open roof construction for a vehicle. It comprises a substantially rectangular panel main body (6, 7), and at least one reinforcement member (8 - 11) positioned in the vicinity of at least a part of the edges of said panel main body, and firmly connected thereto by means of a plastic part (12) molded in a molding process to said panel main body and said reinforcement member. A provision (14, 15) is made for locally at least reducing adherence of plastic material to said reinforcement member and/or said panel main body during molding. There is also disclosed a method of manufacturing the panel.

Inventors:
DE BIE SANDER (NL)
Application Number:
EP2011/051073
Publication Date:
August 04, 2011
Filing Date:
January 26, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
INALFA ROOF SYS GROUP BV (NL)
DE BIE SANDER (NL)
International Classes:
B60J7/043; B29C45/00; B29C45/14; B60J10/82
Foreign References:
EP1495891A12005-01-12
DE29704030U11997-05-22
FR2814705A12002-04-05
US20040160090A12004-08-19
DE202004020443U12005-07-07
US20030183965A12003-10-02
EP1495891A12005-01-12
Other References:
See also references of EP 2528760A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
De Vries & Metman et al. (XK Amsterdam, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A panel (4, 5) for use in a open roof construction for a vehicle comprising,

a substantially rectangular panel main body (6, 7), and at least one reinforcement member (8 - 11) positioned preferably in the vicinity of at least a part of the edges of said panel main body, and firmly connected thereto by means of a plastic part (12) molded out of plastic material in a molding process to said panel main body and said reinforcement member, characterized by

a provision for locally at least reducing adherence of plastic material (12) to said reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or said panel main body (6, 7) during molding.

2. The panel of claim 1, wherein said provision is provided next to a surface of only one of the panel main body (6, 7) and the reinforcement member (8 - 11), and the provision is surrounded substantially completely by the plastic material (12) except where it is applied to said surface of the panel or the reinforcement member.

3. The panel of claim 1 or 2, wherein said provision for locally at least reducing adherence of the plastic material, is a plastic film (14, 15) coated with an adhesive on one side and provided at a position between said panel main body (6, 7) and said reinforcement member (8 - 11) .

4. The panel of claim 3, wherein said plastic film (14, 15) adheres to said reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or said panel main body (6, 7) by means of the adhesive on the film, at least during molding.

5. The panel of claim 4, wherein the adherence between said reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or said panel main body (6, 7) and the plastic part (12) is stronger than the adherence between said reinforcement member and/or said panel main body and said plastic film after molding.

6. The panel of any one of claims 3 - 5, wherein the plastic film (14, 15) has a non rectangular shape.

7. The panel of any one of claims 3 - 6, wherein the plastic film (14, 15) has a removable backing layer to protect the adhesive side prior to application of said plastic film.

8. A method of manufacturing a panel for use in a open roof construction for a vehicle, comprising:

providing a substantially rectangular panel main body (6, 7) and at least one reinforcement member (8, 11),

applying a provision, particularly a plastic film (14,

15), to the at least one reinforcement member and/or the panel main body,

positioning the panel and the reinforcement member in a molding tool preferably such that the reinforcement member is in the vicinity of at least one of the longitudinal and lateral edges of said panel main body and the provision is at a position where the panel and reinforcement member are facing each other, applying fluid plastic material into the molding tool to mold a plastic part (12) to said panel main body (6, 7) and said reinforcement member (8, 11) to firmly connect them

together, and such that it covers the provision which thereby locally at least reduces adherence between the plastic part and the adjacent surface of the at least one reinforcement member and/or the panel main body.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the provision, particularly the plastic film (14, 15), is applied to a surface of one of the reinforcement member (8 - 11) and the panel main body (6, 7) only, and the provision is surrounded substantially completely by the plastic part (12) except where it is applied to the surface of the panel main body or the reinforcement •member.

10. The method of claim 9, comprising the step of cutting said plastic film (14, 15) into a non-rectangular shape (by means of a cutting tool) .

11. The method of claim 8, 9 or 10, comprising the step of preparing the surfaces of the at least one reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or panel main body (6, 7) by applying a decreasing solvent.

12. The method of any one of claims 9 - 11, comprising the step of applying the plastic film (14, 15) to said at least one reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or said panel main body (6, 7) by means of a pressure tool.

13. The method of any one of claims 9 - 12, comprising the step of removing a backing layer from the adhesive side of the plastic film (14, 15) before it is applied to the at least one reinforcement member (8 - 11) and/or panel main body (6, 7) .

14. Open roof construction comprising a panel (4, 5) according to one of the claims 1 - 7.

Description:
ROOF PANEL AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING SAID PANEL

The invention concerns a panel for use in an open roof construction for a vehicle, comprising a substantially

rectangular panel main body, and at least one reinforcement member positioned in the vicinity of at least a part of the edges of said panel main body, and firmly connected thereto.

At present, the reinforcement members are connected to the panels by means of a plastic part, molded in a molding process. The connection by the plastic part between the

reinforcement member and the panel is very firm. During and just after the molding process, the material of the plastic part will shrink. The amount of shrinkage depends on the local volume concentration of plastic material, whereby a large volume of material will cause a high rate of shrinkage at the extremities of such large volume of material. This shrinkage will have a negative influence on the geometry of the panel after molding. This influence may result in that panels are rejected after the molding process, due to lack of geometrical guality, or that panels will be damaged during use in the vehicle, because of too high internal material stresses.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved panel of the type referred to above.

Thus, in accordance with the present invention a panel of the type referred to above is characterized by a provision for locally at least reducing adherence of plastic material to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body during molding .

As a result during and just after the molding process the shrinkage problems will be reduced because not all shrinkage forces will be transferred to the panel and/or reinforcement member due to the locally reduced adherence.

In one embodiment, said provision is provided next to a surface of only one of the panel and the reinforcement member, and the provision is surrounded substantially completely by the plastic material except where it is applied to said surface of the panel or the reinforcement member. This embodiment improves the (long term) quality of the connection between the plastic part and the panel main body or reinforcement member. If the panel is not positioned at the edge of the plastic material there is no risk of bending forces in the panel main body acting upon the area weakened by the provision. Because the provision is completely surrounded by the plastic material it is also protected from the weather influence which may deteriorate the provision or otherwise affect the adherence of the plastic material to the panel main body or reinforcement member.

In a preferred embodiment of the panel the provision for locally at least reducing adherence of the plastic material to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body is a plastic film coated with an adhesive on one side and provided between said panel main body and said reinforcement member. This plastic film reduces or even may prevent the local adherence of the plastic part to the reinforcement member and/or the panel, thus locally decoupling the plastic part from its adjacent parts, whereby the effect of shrinking plastic material is not transferred to said adjacent part. This effect will reduce the influence of shrinkage on the geometry of the panel.

It is important that during the molding process the plastic film will stay in its applied position, and to achieve this, the adherence of its adhesive coating to the reinforcement member and/or to the panel main body shall last at least until the plastic part has been cured, during the molding process.

In order to ensure that the plastic part encounters the effect of the reduced adherence to its adjacent part(s), (e.g. the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body) in the area of the applied plastic film, the adherence between said plastic part and said adjacent part is stronger, compared to the adherence between said plastic film and said reinforcement member and/or said panel main body.

The plastic film applied to the reinforcement member and/or the panel may be of rectangular shape, but may also be of a non-rectangular shape if the shape of the reinforcement or the effect of the shrinkage so requires.

In the process of applying the plastic film to the reinforcement member and/or the panel, prior to the molding process, it is essential that the adhesive coating of the plastic film is protected by a removable backing layer, until the moment the plastic film is applied to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body.

In a preferred process a panel main body and at least one reinforcement member are provided. The plastic film or other provision is applied to the panel main body and/or the

reinforcement member, in such position where the at least reduced adherence of the plastic part towards its adjacent parts is required after the molding process. The panel main body and the reinforcement member are positioned in a molding tool, in such a way that the reinforcement member is preferably in the vicinity of one of the edges of the panel, and whereby the actual molding process starts with closing the molding tool and sequentially applying fluid plastic material into the molding tool, to mold a plastic part to the reinforcement member, and/or the panel main body, and the side of the plastic film or other provision facing away from its side which is applied to the panel main body or reinforcement member.

It is very desirable that the adherence of the plastic film to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body is optimized, because when small openings occur between film and reinforcement member and/or panel main body, caused by air or dirt particles entrapped, prior to the molding process, fluid plastic material may flow into these openings and may increase the adherence of plastic material where this is required to be at least reduced. To reduce such incident, the adhesive coating of the plastic film is covered by a removable backing layer, and the surfaces of the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body are treated with a decreasing solvent. Just prior to the application of the plastic film to said adjacent parts, the backing layer of the plastic film is removed, and the plastic film is applied to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body.

In addition to this it may be advantageous to apply the plastic film to the reinforcement member and/or the panel main body by means of a pressure tool.

The advantageous effects of the plastic film locally reducing adherence between plastic part and reinforcement member and/or panel main body, are not only limited to the reduction of rejected parts in manufacturing parts, nor to the reduction of damages of parts in the vehicles, but also enables the

manufacturer to easily apply this solution for shrinkage

problems with every new development of panels without large investments to molding tooling or to equipment for applying the plastic film. It forms a flexible, and efficient solution for every shrinkage problem relating to molded panels for vehicles.

Hereinafter the invention will be elucidated while referring to the schematic drawing in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a vehicle shown only above its waist line, in which an open roof construction is fitted;

Figure 2 is a bottom view of a panel main body.

Figure 3 and 4 are enlarged sectional views along the line III-III and IV-IV, respectively, in figure 2, wherein figure 3 is another embodiment of figure 4.

Figure 5 is an enlarged sectional view along the line V-V in figure 2 and belonging to the embodiment of figure 4.

Figure 1 shows an embodiment of an open roof construction for a vehicle 1, comprising a roof opening 2, provided in a fixed roof part 3 of the vehicle. A front panel 4, and a rear panel 5 of the open roof construction are capable of closing and at least partially opening said roof opening 2. The front panel 4 is movable along longitudinal guides at opposites sides of the roof opening 2 (not shown, but known per se) . The rear panel 5, with its rear end, is movable only in vertical direction, thereby releasing an opening at the most rear side of the open roof construction. Both panels 4, 5 may be moved manually or by driving means not illustrated but known per se. The cooperation between both panels 4, 5 and the longitudinal guides may occur in any known matter, and is not illustrated in detail. The invention can be used for all types of open roof constructions comprising one or more panels, in particular glass panels, but also panels made of other materials, such as

plastic .

As illustrated in figure 1, the front panel 4 and the rear panel 5 are adjacent to each other when closed and together can fully close or at least partially open the roof opening. In figure 2, the front panel 4 is shown by means of a bottom view. The front panel 4 comprises a panel main body 6 (while the rear panel 5 comprises a panel main body 7, see figure 1) and at least one reinforcement member 8, 9, 10, 11 positioned in the vicinity of one of the edges of the panel main body. The shape and position of a plastic film 14, 15 is shown by means of a hatched area in each of said reinforcement members

8, 9, 10, 11.

In Figures 3, 4 and 5 it is shown that the

reinforcement member 8, 9, 10, 11 is firmly connected to the panel main body 6, 7 by means of a plastic part 12 formed in a molding process. The plastic part 12 is formed of a material suitable for a low pressure molding process such as Polyurethane or PVC . The reinforcement members 10, 11 comprise brackets 13 (see figure 2) used to connect the panel with the means for driving and/or guiding the panel in relation to the fixed roof 3. From figures 3, 4, 5 it can be derived that the reinforcement members 8, 9, 10, 11 are used to add stiffness to the panel. The reinforcement members 8, 9, 10, 11 each have a depression 16 running lengthwise from one end of its body to its opposite end, to improve its intrinsic stiffness (also other curves can be used to increase the stiffness) . The plastic film 14, 15 is positioned either opposite to the depression 16 (or hollow formed e.g. by folding the sides of the metal plate or formed by extruding the reinforcement from metal) on the adjacent surface of the panel main body (figure 3), and/or next to the bottom of the depression 16 on the inner surface of the reinforcement member 8, 9, 10, 11 (figure 4 and 5) . In figures 2 - 4 it is shown the film 14, 15 is only applied either to the

reinforcement or to the panel main body, but it would also be possible to apply the film 14, 15 to the panel main body in one spot and to the reinforcement member 8 - 11 in another spot.

The product shown in figure 2 is manufactured in a molding process that includes the following individual steps. First the panel main body 6, 7 and the reinforcement members 8,

9, 10, 11 are prepared by a treatment with a surface tension decreasing solvent. The backing layer of the plastic film is removed and the plastic film 14, 15 is applied to the panel main body and/or to the inner portion of the depression 16 in the reinforcement member 8, 9, 10, 11. This may be done by hand or by using an applying tool ensuring a good adherence of the plastic film.

The panel main body 6, 7 and the at least one reinforcement member 8, 9, 10, 11 with the plastic film 14, 15 applied are positioned in the molding tool. The tool upper and lower parts close, and fluid plastic material is injected into the tool, and is flowing into the cavity. After the injection stops a short curing period is taken, in which the tool is still closed, and the fluid material cools off to a solid state, in order to become plastic part 12. This plastic part 12 covers the plastic film completely and is firmly connected to the panel main body and/or reinforcement member at positions where the plastic film is not present. To finish the method, the molding tool is opened and the assembled panel is removed from the tool.

In this embodiment, the plastic film is within the plastic material so that the surface of the panel main body 6, 7 and/or reinforcement member 8 - 11 besides the plastic film 14, 15 is always covered by the plastic material or plastic part 12. This means that the film 14, 15 is surrounded completely by the plastic material 12 except where it is in contact with the panel main body 6, 7 or the reinforcement member 8 - 11. In other words, the plastic film 14, 15 or the area weakened by the plastic film or other provision is always, so in substantially all positions at a distance from the edges of the plastic part 12, as seen in a direction parallel to the adjacent panel main body surface.

From the above, it follows that the invention provides a panel and a method of molding a panel that leads to a high quality panel reducing the number of rejections during quality control and reducing any problems with damage during use as a result of the shrinkage forces in the plastic part.

The invention is not limited to the embodiments described above and shown in the drawings, which can be varied in different manners within the scope of the invention. For example, it would be possible to apply, e.g. spray by means of a template or the like, an adherence reducing agent on particular spots on the reinforcement member and/or panel main body. The reinforcement member (s) may also be positioned in other places on the panel main body, for example near the centre thereof, i guide rails for guiding the panels are positioned near the longitudinal centre of the vehicle.