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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
AXLE ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/091714
Kind Code:
A4
Abstract:
A family of axle assemblies that employ a modular concept to maximize part commonality amongst the several axle assemblies. The axle assemblies have a housing assembly that employs a main housing that is formed from a casting that is common to all of the axle assemblies.

Inventors:
VALENTE PAUL J (US)
DOWNS JAMES P (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2016/063571
Publication Date:
August 03, 2017
Filing Date:
November 23, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AMERICAN AXLE & MFG INC (US)
International Classes:
F16H48/42; F16H57/021; F16H57/031; F16H57/037; F16H57/038
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZALOBSKY, Michael D. et al. (Dickey & Pierce P.L.C.,P.O. Box 82, Bloomfield Hills Michigan, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 2 June 2017 (02.06.2017)

What is claimed is:

1 . An axle assembly comprising:

a housing defining a pinion bearing bore;

an input pinion;

a pinion bearing received in the pinion bearing bore and supporting the input pinion relative to the housing for rotation about a first axis and for axial thrust in opposite directions along the first axis;

a retainer plate abutted against the single bearing on an end of the single bearing opposite the housing;

a plurality of threaded fasteners securing the retainer plate to the housing, the threaded fasteners being disposed about a bolt circle, the threaded fasteners having a centerline and a major diameter;

a differential assembly mounted in the housing for rotation about a second axis that is not parallel to the first axis; and

a ring gear meshingly engaged with the input pinion and coupled to the differential assembly for rotation therewith about the second axis;

wherein the plurality of threaded fasteners are not symmetrically spaced apart by a common spacing, wherein the plurality of threaded fasteners consist of a first quantity of the threaded fasteners and a second quantity of the threaded fasteners, wherein the centerlines of the first quantity of the threaded fasteners are clustered into a segment, the segment spanning less than 180 degrees of the bolt circle and extending radially outward from the first axis beyond the bolt circle by a distance that is less than or equal to five times the major diameter of the threaded fasteners, wherein the second quantity of the threaded fasteners are not disposed within the segment, and wherein the second quantity is less than the first quantity.

2. The axle assembly of Claim 1 , wherein the segment spans 120 degrees or less of the bolt circle.

3. The axle assembly of Claim 2, wherein the segment spans 90 degrees or less of the bolt circle.

4. The axle assembly of Claim 1 , further comprising an axle mount that is fixedly coupled to the retainer plate.

5. The axle assembly of Claim 1 , wherein the pinion bearing is a four- point angular contact bearing. 6. An axle assembly comprising:

an axle housing assembly having a carrier housing and first and second end caps that are mounted to the carrier housing, the first end cap cooperating with the carrier housing to define a differential cavity, the second end cap cooperating with the carrier housing to define a clutch cavity;

an input pinion extending into the differential cavity;

a pinion bearing supporting the input pinion relative to the carrier housing for rotation about a first axis and for axial thrust in opposite directions along the first axis;

a ring gear in the differential cavity and meshingly engaged to the input pinion;

a ring gear bearing supporting the ring gear relative to the carrier housing for rotation about a second axis and for axial thrust in opposite directions along the second axis, wherein the second axis is not parallel to the first axis;

a differential assembly received in the differential cavity and configured to receive rotary power from the ring gear, the differential assembly having first and second differential outputs;

a first spindle that is drivingly coupled to the first differential output;

a second spindle that is drivingly coupled to the second differential output; and

a clutch received in the clutch cavity and having a first clutch member and a second clutch member, the clutch being configured to selectively transmit rotary power between the first and second clutch members, the first clutch member being coupled for rotation with the first differential output, the second clutch member being coupled for rotation with the second spindle; wherein the clutch is a multi-plate friction clutch having a plurality of first clutch plates, wherein the first clutch member has a first annular mount portion and a second annular mount portion that is disposed radially outwardly of the first annular mount portion, wherein the first clutch plates are non-rotatably but axially slidably mounted on the second annular mount portion, and wherein the carrier housing defines an annular projection that extends axially into the first clutch member radially between the first annular mount portion and the second annular mount portion. 7. The axle assembly of Claim 6, wherein the clutch further comprises a pressure plate having a radially inner end that terminates at a location that is radially between the first annular mount portion and the second annular mount portion. 8. The axle assembly of Claim 6, wherein the first differential output comprises a planet carrier.

9. The axle assembly of Claim 8, wherein the first differential output further comprises an annular projection that is fixedly coupled to the planet carrier.

10. The axle assembly of Claim 9, wherein the annular projection is welded to the planet carrier.

1 1 . An axle assembly comprising:

an axle housing assembly having a carrier housing and first and second end caps that are mounted to the carrier housing, the first end cap cooperating with the carrier housing to define a differential cavity, the second end cap cooperating with the carrier housing to define a torque-vectoring cavity;

an input pinion extending into the differential cavity;

a pinion bearing supporting the input pinion relative to the carrier housing for rotation about a first axis and for axial thrust in opposite directions along the first axis;

a ring gear in the differential cavity and meshingly engaged to the input pinion;

28 a ring gear bearing supporting the ring gear relative to the carrier housing for rotation about a second axis and for axial thrust in opposite directions along the second axis, wherein the second axis is not parallel to the first axis;

a differential assembly received in the differential cavity and configured to receive rotary power from the ring gear, the differential assembly having first and second differential outputs;

a first spindle that is drivingly coupled to the first differential output;

a second spindle that is drivingly coupled to the second differential output; and

a torque-vectoring mechanism received in the torque-vectoring cavity, the torque-vectoring mechanism being configured to operate in a neutral mode, which does not affect the rotary power transmitted to the first and second spindles by the differential assembly, a first torque-vectoring mode, in which rotary power transmitted through the first spindle is reduced relative to the neutral mode, and a second torque-vectoring mode in which rotary power transmitted through second spindle is decreased relative to the neutral mode.

12. The axle assembly of Claim 1 1 , wherein the torque-vectoring mechanism comprises a first friction clutch that variably couples the first differential output to the axle housing assembly to generate a first braking force.

13. The axle assembly of Claim 12, wherein the torque-vectoring mechanism comprises a second friction clutch that variably couples the second differential output to the axle housing assembly to generate a second braking force.

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