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Title:
METHOD FOR PRODUCING A COVER DEVICE AND COVER DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/050327
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method for producing a cover device such as a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles, wherein the cover device includes: a base body configured to conceal an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle; a plurality of fastening elements for fastening the cover device to the opening or to the surface; and at least one rib by which the plurality of fastening elements is arranged on the base body. The method for producing the cover device involves: a first production step for at least producing the base body; and a second production step which is separate from the first production step for at least producing the plurality of fastening elements. A cover device, such as a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles, is also provided.

Inventors:
KAPAUN MATTHIAS (US)
KRAUSS WERNER (US)
ORTH JOCHEN (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/048973
Publication Date:
March 18, 2021
Filing Date:
September 02, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS (US)
International Classes:
B60K15/04; B29C45/00; B60K15/05
Foreign References:
FR2836427A12003-08-29
US6497835B12002-12-24
EP1849643A22007-10-31
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIEBERDING, Michael, J. et al. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
PATENT CLAIMS

1. A method for producing a cover device (100), in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles, wherein the cover device (100) comprises the following: a base body (110) which is configured to conceal an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle; a plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") for fastening the cover device (100) to the opening which is to be concealed or to the surface which is to be concealed; and at least one rib (120, 120', 120") by means of which the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") is arranged on the base body (110), wherein the method for producing the cover device (100) comprises the following production steps: a first production step for at least producing the base body (110); and a second production step which is separate from the first production step for at least producing the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130").

2. The method for producing a cover device (100) as claimed in claim 1, wherein the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are shoe elements and/or clip elements.

3. The method for producing a cover device (100) as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein a multiplicity, preferably a plurality, of ribs (120, 120', 120"), is formed by means of which the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are arranged on the base body (110), wherein the ribs (120, 120', 120") are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another in a state arranged on the base body (110).

4. The method for producing a cover device (100) according to one of the preceding claims, wherein in the first production step the base body (110) and at least part of the at least one rib (120, 120', 120"), preferably the entire rib (120, 120', 120"), are formed.

5. The method for producing a cover device (100) according to one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one rib (120, 120', 120") exhibits at least one recess (121), preferably a plurality of recesses (121), on which a fastening element (130, 130', 130") of the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") is arranged in each case, so that said fastening element or fastening elements is/are restricted or hindered in its/their movement along the rib (120, 120', 120") by the shape of the recess (121).

6. The method for producing a cover device (100) according to claim 5, wherein the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are configured in the second production step with a groove (131) in each case, wherein the groove (131) is configured to match the at least one rib (120, 120', 120") and preferably exhibits a length which matches or is smaller than the length of the recess (121), preferably the plurality of recesses (121).

7. The method for producing a cover device (100) in accordance with one of the preceding claims, wherein the method additionally comprises the following step: an assembly step for assembling the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") on the at least one rib (120, 120', 120"), preferably on the plurality of ribs (120, 120', 120").

8. The method for producing a cover device (100) in accordance with one of the preceding claims, wherein the fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are fastened to the at least one rib (120, 120', 120") by means of a joining method.

9. The method for producing a cover device (100) in accordance with one of the preceding claims, wherein the fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are fastened to the rib (120, 120', 120") by means of at least one locking device (140).

10. A cover device (100) which has been produced in accordance with one of the methods for producing a cover device (100) according to one of claims 1 to 9.

11. The cover device (100), in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or charging flap for vehicles, wherein the cover device (100) comprises the following: a base body (110) which is configured to conceal an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle; a plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130"), preferably shoe elements and/or clip elements, for fastening the cover device (100) to the opening which is to be concealed or to the surface which is to be concealed; and at least one rib (120, 120', 120") on which the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") is arranged on the base body (110), w h e r e i n at least the base body (110) and the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are configured in production steps which are separate from one another.

12. The cover device (100) as claimed in claim 11, wherein the cover device (100) comprises a multiplicity, preferably a plurality, of ribs (120, 120', 120"), and wherein the ribs (120, 120', 120") are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another.

13. The cover device (100) according to claim 11 or 12, wherein the at least one rib (120, 120', 120") comprises at least one recess (121), preferably a plurality of recesses (121), and wherein the plurality of fastening elements (130, 130', 130") each have a groove (131), wherein the groove (131) is formed to match the at least one rib (120, 120', 120") and preferably exhibits a length which matches or is smaller than the length of the recess (121), preferably the plurality of recesses (121).

14. The cover device (100) according to one of claims 11 to 13, wherein the fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are fastened to the rib

(120, 120', 120") by means of a joining method.

15. The cover device (100) according to one of claims 11 to 14, wherein the fastening elements (130, 130', 130") are fastened to the rib

(120, 120', 120") by means of at least one locking device (140).

Description:
METHOD FOR PRODUCING A COVER DEVICE AND COVER DEVICE

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The invention relates to a method for producing a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles. Furthermore, the invention relates to a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Cover devices are used at various points in a vehicle. In principle, these cover devices are used to conceal or cover an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle. In particular, cover devices are used for example for fuel filler flaps, charging flaps, water flaps or other service flaps. By way of example, fuel filler flaps or charging flaps conceal a filler-neck compartment (or charging compartment), which is used for refueling a vehicle with fuel or for example with a urea solution or for charging the battery of an electric or hybrid motor vehicle.

[0003] Flaps of this kind are typically connected to a hinge arm, which then configures the corresponding flap so as to be pivotable between an opening position, which frees the opening, and a closing position, which closes the opening.

[0004] The flap is usually shoed, that is to say fastened, to the hinge arm by way of shoe elements. For the sake of simplicity, the shoe elements required for fastening are manufactured in one part with the flap. In particular, during production, use is made of oblique slides in order to demold the undercuts which are produced on account of the shoe elements. After the demolding operation, the flap can then be shoed onto the hinge arm.

[0005] However, in the known flap production methods, there is a problem in that, during a cooling phase in the mold, the shoe elements shrink in the direction toward the oblique slide arranged for the demolding. Since the oblique slides then hold the shoe elements in a position against the shrinkage, stresses are produced in the component, that is to say in the flap, said stresses possibly leading to visible stress markings (depressions) on the visible side of the flap. [0006] Therefore, in the known production methods, there is a high reject and complaint rate, which leads to high costs.

SUMMARY

[0007] Proceeding from the outlined prior art, the invention is based on the object of specifying a method for producing a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap for vehicles, which overcomes the abovementioned problems and disadvantages of the prior art. In particular, it is an object of the present invention to specify a method in which the problems associated with the shrinkage of the shoe elements during the production no longer occur.

[0008] The invention is also based on the object of specifying a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap for vehicles, in the case of which stresses in the component, said stresses possibly leading to stress markings on the visible side of the cover device, are effectively prevented.

[0009] The solution according to the invention is a method for producing a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles, wherein the cover device comprises the following: a base body which is configured to conceal an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle; a plurality of fastening elements for fastening the cover device to the opening which is to be concealed or to the surface which is to be concealed; and at least one rib, by means of which the plurality of fastening elements is arranged on the base body, wherein the method for producing the cover device comprises the following production steps: a first production step for producing at least the base body; and a second production step, which is separate from the first production step, for producing at least the plurality of fastening elements.

[0010] In order to conceal the opening which is to be concealed or the surface which is to be concealed, the base body is of at least substantially flat configuration. The base body comprises a visible side or visible surface which is visible when the cover device is in a state assembled on the vehicle. The opposite surface is the assembly side or assembly surface, at which the cover device can be assembled on the opening which is to be concealed or on the surface which is to be concealed. Preferably, the cover device is assembled on a hinge arm.

[0011] For the assembly of the cover device on the opening which is to be concealed or on the surface which is to be concealed, preferably on the hinge arm, the plurality of fastening elements is arranged. In particular, the plurality of fastening elements is arranged at or on the rib, which in turn is arranged on the assembly side of the base body.

[0012] The base body, the ribs and the fastening elements are preferably plastics parts, such that they can be advantageously produced in an injection-molding process. The production steps can thus (at least partially) be injection-molding steps.

[0013] The first production step for producing (for injection-molding) at least the base body is carried out separately, that is to say separately from the second production step (for example injection molding, preferably a Babyplast injection-molding process), which serves for producing at least the plurality of fastening elements. This means that the base body and the fastening elements are not produced in a common production step (for example molding step).

[0014] This has the advantage, firstly, that the base body (during injection molding) can now be manufactured in a simple “open/close direction” and (expensive) slides or oblique slides are not necessary, since there are no longer any undercuts present in this production step. Secondly, the stress markings (depressions) on the visible side of the cover device (or of the base body thereof) are reliably prevented, since, during shrinkage of the base body, the fastening elements are no longer pressed onto the oblique slides and as a result are able to produce stresses in the component. During the shrinkage of the base body, there are in particular no fastening elements (or shoe elements) arranged, such that the oblique slides are also omitted.

[0015] With the method according to the invention for producing a cover device, it is thus possible to achieve the object in a satisfactory manner. In particular, it is possible to design the production method so that it is no longer necessary to use any oblique slides and no stresses occur in the component, said stresses possibly leading to visible stress markings (depressions) on the visible side. [0016] In the described production method or method for production, the rib can be (partially) manufactured both in the first production step and in the second production step. It is thus possible for the rib to be molded, together with the base body, entirely in the first production step. As an alternative thereto, it is possible for a part of the at least one rib to be produced in the first production step for molding at least the base body and for the other part to be produced, for example, in the second production step, together with the plurality of fastening elements. As a further alternative, it is possible for the rib to be produced, together with the plurality of fastening elements, entirely in the second production step. It is thus also conceivable for the fastening element, including rib or including a part of the rib, to be injection-molded and attached at a later stage to the base body or to the other part of the rib by means of a joining method.

[0017] A rib is preferably understood to mean such a structure which does not constitute an undercut in the mold opening direction (open/close direction). For the production of the rib (whether it be in the first production step or (alternatively) in the second production step), there is therefore no need for any slides. As a result of the arrangement of the fastening elements on the base body, a geometry with undercuts is then produced as a whole, such that the base body can be fastened, by means of said undercuts, to the opening which is to be concealed or to the surface which is to be concealed.

[0018] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the plurality of fastening elements are shoe elements and/or clip elements.

[0019] The fastening elements are preferably shoe elements. In the case of a fuel filler flap, shoe elements are configured such that the fuel filler flap (more generally cover device) can be shoed, at least substantially perpendicularly with respect to a subsequent operating direction of the fuel filler flap, onto the hinge arm. This has the advantage that the fuel filler flap cannot be unintentionally released from the hinge arm during operation.

[0020] However, as an alternative thereto, in the case of the cover devices and methods according to the invention, it would also be possible to use fastening elements in the form of clip elements. The assembly direction of the fuel filler flap with clip elements is then at least substantially parallel to the subsequent operating direction of the fuel filler flap. [0021] According to an advantageous development of the invention, a multiplicity, preferably a plurality, of ribs is formed, by means of which the plurality of fastening elements are arranged on the base body, wherein the ribs are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another in a state arranged on the base body.

[0022] In particular, the ribs extend on the base body (that is to say on the assembly side of the base body) oriented in a direction which is configured parallel to the main direction of extent of the base body. Here, main direction of extent is understood to mean the direction in which the corresponding element has the longest extent.

[0023] As a result of the fact that the ribs are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another, during a subsequent assembly operation, the cover device can be pushed onto the element (for example hinge arm) in a simple manner.

[0024] According to an advantageous development of the invention, in the first production step, the base body and at least a part of the at least one rib, preferably the entire rib, are formed.

[0025] The ribs extend at least substantially orthogonally from the base body, that is to say from the assembly side of the base body, such that production in the “open/close direction” is furthermore possible. The base body and the ribs can thus be readily formed in one step, since it is not necessary to take account of any undercut.

[0026] Correspondingly, a joint production can be performed in a cost-effective and simple manner.

[0027] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the at least one rib comprises at least one recess, preferably a plurality of recesses, on which a fastening element of the plurality of fastening elements is arranged in each case, so that said fastening element or fastening elements is/are restricted or hindered in its/their movement along the rib by the shape of the recess.

[0028] A possibility of centering the fastening elements on the rib is thus provided by means of the recesses. The fastening elements can thus be arranged at the correct position on the rib and can for example be subsequently fastened there. [0029] Preferably, all of the recesses of the ribs are configured to be the same size and receive fastening elements of the same size. The fastening elements can thus be configured as identical parts, such that cost-effective production is promoted.

[0030] Preferably, the fastening elements can be used not only with one flap, that is to say “flap type”, but also with a plurality of different flaps. The fastening elements (in particular shoe elements) are thus used as standard part over a number of series, such that a method for producing at least two different cover devices is specified, wherein each cover device comprises a corresponding base body, at least one rib and a plurality of fastening elements, wherein the base body and the plurality of fastening elements are formed in production steps which are separate from one another, and wherein the fastening elements for the one cover device, and the fastening elements for the at least one other cover device, are formed with identical construction, that is to say with the same shape and size.

[0031] As a result of standard parts, the production can correspondingly be designed in a more favorable manner. All of the aspects, described here, of the production methods for a cover device can be applied to the method described above.

[0032] However, as an alternative to identical parts, there is also the possibility of using fastening elements with different dimensions, which are received in corresponding differently-sized recesses of the at least one rib. As a result, in the sense of poka-yoke, it is possible to prevent errors during assembly, since it is possible to predefine only a (desired) assembly possibility.

[0033] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the plurality of fastening elements are configured in the second production step with a groove in each case, wherein the groove is configured to be complementary to the at least one rib and preferably has a length which matches or is smaller than the length of the recess, preferably of the plurality of recesses.

[0034] As a result of the formation of a corresponding groove, the above-described possibility of centering the fastening elements relative to the rib is facilitated. [0035] In this way, it is thus in particular possible to pre-center the fastening elements on the rib in a positively locking manner, before the fastening elements are joined to the rib.

[0036] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the method additionally comprises the following step: an assembly step for assembling the plurality of fastening elements on the at least one rib, preferably on the plurality of ribs.

[0037] During the assembly step, the plurality of fastening elements is positioned on, and fastened to, the at least one rib.

[0038] The assembly step can preferably be carried out in a fully automatic manner, directly on the machine.

[0039] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the fastening elements are fastened to the at least one rib by means of a joining method.

[0040] Here, the fastening can for example be of releasable, non-releasable or semi- releasable nature. Exemplary non-releasable connections are in this case welded connections, exemplary releasable connections are in this case screw connections, and exemplary semi-releasable connections are in this case rivet connections.

[0041] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the fastening elements are fastened to the rib by means of at least one locking device.

[0042] Here, the locking device can be formed integrally (that is to say in one piece; thus in the same production step) with the rib and/or the fastening element.

[0043] The solution according to the invention furthermore consists in specifying a cover device which is produced according to one of the already described methods.

[0044] In this case, it is of course possible for all of the aspects and advantages described with respect to the production methods to be applied directly to the cover device.

[0045] The solution according to the invention also consists in specifying a cover device, in particular a flap, preferably a fuel filler flap or a charging flap for vehicles, wherein the cover device comprises the following: a base body which is configured to conceal an opening which is to be concealed or a surface which is to be concealed in or on a vehicle; a plurality of fastening elements, preferably shoe elements and/or clip elements, for fastening the cover device to the opening which is to be concealed or to the surface which is to be concealed (preferably to a hinge arm); and at least one rib, on which the plurality of fastening elements is arranged on the base body, wherein at least the base body and the plurality of fastening elements are formed in production steps which are separate from one another.

[0046] In this regard, too, the aspects have already been described in the case of the production method, such that at this point it is merely indicated that these aspects and advantages are also intended to apply for the cover device.

[0047] In particular, the cover device has the advantage that there are no longer any stresses in the component, said stresses leading to visible depressions (stress signatures) on the visible side of the cover device. This is in particular achieved in that the base body and the plurality of fastening elements are no longer formed in the same production step.

[0048] On the cover device, it can be seen that said cover device has been formed in two production steps which are separate from one another. In particular, for example on account of the joining method for fastening the fastening elements to the base body, the cover device comprises visible markings which indicate the separate production. The absence of depressions/stress signatures (more generally: corresponding stresses) in the component can also already indicate a production in two production steps which are separate from one another.

[0049] Consequently, on the cover device, it can be seen that said cover device has been formed by means of a production method having separate production steps.

[0050] According to an advantageous development, the cover device comprises a multiplicity, preferably a plurality, of ribs, wherein the ribs are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another.

[0051] Since the ribs are oriented at least substantially parallel to one another, during the assembly operation, the cover device can be pushed onto an element in a simple manner. [0052] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the at least one rib comprises at least one recess, preferably a plurality of recesses, wherein the plurality of fastening elements each have a groove, wherein the groove is configured to be complementary to the at least one rib and preferably has a length which matches or is smaller than the length of the recess, preferably of the plurality of recesses.

[0053] A possibility of centering the fastening elements on the rib is provided by means of the recess and the groove. In this way, it is in particular possible to pre-center the fastening elements on the rib in a positively locking manner, before the fastening elements are joined to the rib.

[0054] According to an advantageous development, the fastening elements are fastened to the rib by means of a joining method.

[0055] Here, the fastening can be effected for example by welding, soldering or adhesive bonding.

[0056] According to an advantageous development of the invention, the fastening elements are fastened to the rib by means of at least one locking device.

[0057] Here, the locking device can be formed integrally (that is to say in one piece; thus in the same production step) with the rib and/or the fastening element.

[0058] Overall, all of the physical configurations and features, which are described in the method for production, can of course also be applied to the locking device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0059] The invention is explained in more detail below on the basis of the description of exemplary embodiments with reference to the attached drawings, in which:

[0060] FIG. 1 shows a schematic illustration of a cover device, prior to assembly of the fastening elements, according to a present embodiment of the invention;

[0061] FIG. 2 shows a schematic illustration of a cover device 100 after assembly of the fastening elements; [0062] FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of a rib of the cover device during the assembly of a fastening element;

[0063] FIG. 4 shows an enlarged view of the rib of FIG. 3 after assembly of the fastening element; and

[0064] FIG. 5 shows a schematic illustration of a cover device, in which the fastening element is connected to the rib by way of a locking device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0065] FIG. 1 shows a schematic illustration of a cover device 100 without fastening elements assembled. The cover device 100 illustrated here is in particular a fuel filler flap, and the following text therefore also refers to a fuel filler flap 100.

[0066] The fuel filler flap 100 comprises a base body 110 which is of at least substantially flat configuration and which is configured in terms of its size and shape such that it is able to conceal a tank opening. The base body 110 has a visible side and an assembly side. The cover device 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 is illustrated as lying on its visible side. Correspondingly, the visible side cannot be seen directly in FIG. 1.

[0067] The surface which can be seen in FIG. 1 is the assembly surface, with which the cover device 100 can be fastened for example to a hinge arm.

[0068] The cover device 100 comprises three ribs 120, 120' and 120". However, this is an example; it is thus also possible for the cover device 100 to comprise a different number of ribs 120. The ribs 120, 120', 120" extend at least substantially orthogonally with respect to the assembly surface of the base body 110, the ribs 120, 120', 120" being arranged on said assembly surface. The ribs 120, 120' and 120" extend at least substantially parallel to one another. Said ribs also extend at least substantially parallel to a main direction of extent of the cover device 100.

[0069] The cover device 100 with base body 110 and ribs 120, 120', 120", illustrated in FIG. 1, can be produced in a common manufacturing step, in particular (injection) molding step. The element illustrated in FIG. 1 is thus the product of a common molding process. As an alternative thereto, it would also be conceivable for only a part of the ribs 120, 120' and 120" to be produced in a common molding operation with the base body 110.

[0070] FIG. 2 shows the cover device 100 of FIG. 1, wherein, in the case of the latter, shoe elements have already been assembled as fastening elements 130 (the following text also refers to shoe elements 130). By way of example, three shoe elements 130, 130' and 130" are provided with reference numbers in FIG. 2. Said shoe elements are all located on the rib 120. However, it can also be seen that the rib 120" and the rib 120' comprise corresponding shoe elements 130.

[0071] In particular, three shoe elements 130, 130' and 130", preferably at equal spacings, are arranged on the rib 120.

[0072] The rib 120 is arranged toward a first outer side of the cover device 100. The rib 120" is arranged toward an opposite outer side of the cover device 100 and here has, for example, the same length as the rib 120. Correspondingly, the rib 120" likewise receives three shoe elements 130.

[0073] Between the rib 120 and the rib 120", there is arranged a small rib 120' which receives merely one shoe element 130.

[0074] However, here, as an alternative, it would be possible to have a different arrangement of ribs 120.

[0075] FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of a rib 120 of the cover device 100, wherein a shoe element 130 is also illustrated, which is intended to be arranged on the rib 120. Here, the shoe element 130 is of at least substantially cuboidal configuration, said shoe element comprising a groove 131 on an underside thereof. Here, that side which is oriented toward the rib 120 is designated as underside.

[0076] The cuboidal configuration of the shoe element 130 is merely exemplary. In particular and preferably, the shoe element 130 can have a T-shaped cross section, with the groove then being arranged for example “at the bottom” of the T. [0077] As can likewise be seen in FIG. 3, the rib 120 comprises a recess 121, wherein the recess 121 or the rib 120, respectively, and the groove 131 or the shoe element 130, respectively, are configured to be complementary to one another (in terms of their size or length) in such a way that, when the shoe element 130 is plugged onto the rib 120, said shoe element is arranged so as to be centered on the rib 120.

[0078] FIG. 4 shows the shoe element 130 in a state plugged onto the rib 120. At the interface between rib 120 and shoe element 130, the shoe element can be fastened to the rib 120 by means of a joining method. By way of example, the shoe element 130 can be adhesively bonded or welded.

[0079] FIG. 5 shows a cover device 100, in which the shoe element 130 and the rib 120 are connected by means of a locking device 140. In particular, it can be seen that the rib 120 has a locking structure with a plurality of hooks. The shoe element 130 has a complementary locking structure, such that the hooks of the rib 120 can come into engagement with the shoe element 130.

[0080] During the assembly, the shoe element 130 can be pushed onto the rib 120 in a simple manner and is held there reliably by the locking device 140. As an alternative, it would also be possible here, in addition to the locking device 140, to secure the fastening by means of another joining method.

List of reference designations

100 Cover device 110 Base body 120, 120', 120" Rib 121 Recess

130, 130', 130" Fastening element

131 Groove

140 Locking device