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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
ROTARY SWITCH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1996/008058
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An improved commutator anchoring system (100) and methods of manufacturing such a system are disclosed. The system includes a wound fibreglass or other ring (22) embedded in the internal core (18) of the commutator to reinforce the resulting structure and enhance its thermal and mechanical stability. The reinforcing ring (22) also functions as a form about which various anchors can be patterned, increasing their uniformity over free-form designs.

Inventors:
COOPER DAVID LYNN
DUNIGAN ROBERT CLAY
GRENIER JOSEPH MICHAEL
LEE ERIC GREG
Application Number:
PCT/GB1995/002080
Publication Date:
March 14, 1996
Filing Date:
September 04, 1995
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MORGAN CRUCIBLE CO (GB)
International Classes:
H01R39/04; H01R43/08; H02K13/00; (IPC1-7): H01R43/08; H01R39/04
Foreign References:
US2207594A1940-07-09
DE3812585A11988-11-03
DE4117803A11991-12-05
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A rotary switch comprising: a. an electrically nonconductive core; b. electrically nonconductive means, embedded in the core, for reinforcing the switch; and c. a plurality of electrically conductive segments spaced about the core, each segment having an anchoring system embedded in the core, characterised in that the anchoring system is formed about the reinforcing means to fasten the segment thereto.
2. A rotary switch according to claim 1 characterised in that the anchoring system comprises: a. means for supporting the reinforcing means; and b. means for maintaining the position of the reinforcing means during manufacturing and use.
3. A rotary switch according to claim 2 characterised in that the supporting means comprises a ledge on which the reinforcing means rests and the positionmaintaining means comprises a hook formed about the reinforcing means.
4. A rotary switch according to any preceding claim characterised in that the reinforcing means is a wound fibreglass ring.
5. A rotary switch according to any preceding claim characterised in that the segments are formed by slotting a tube of electrically conductive material.
6. A rotary switch according to any preceding claim, characterised in that the anchoring system further comprises first and second crowns embedded in the core.
7. A rotary switch according to any preceding claim characterised in that the reinforcing means is positioned substantially at the centre of mass of the segments.
8. A method of manufacturing a rotary switch comprising the steps of: a. forming a tube of conductive material b. filling the interior of the tube with a non conductive curable material to form a core c. curing the core material and slotting the tube to form electrically isolated segments, characterised in that, prior to the filling step, a non conductive reinforcing means is inserted into the tube and a segment anchoring system is formed about the reinforcing means so that the segments when formed are fastened thereto.
9. A method according to claim 8 characterised in that the step of forming the anchoring system comprises a. paring the tube interior; b. bending the pared area over the reinforcing means approximately normal to the tube axis, and c. bending the tip of the pared area approximately parallel to the tube axis.
10. A method according to claim 8 or 9 wherein the step of forming the anchoring system further comprises forming first and second crowns.
Description:
ROTARY SWITCH

This invention relates to rotary switches which may for example be used to form commutators of electric motors and other electrical machines.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many existing commutators, high-speed rotary switches typically used with electric motors, comprise multiple copper segments arranged into a cylinder and anchored into a non¬ conducting (often phenolic) molding compound. Each segment is physically separated and electrically isolated from those adjacent to it, so that an electrical brush passing along the outer diameter of the cylinder will form a conductive path only with the segment (or segments) in contact with it at any given instant. With one electrical brush, therefore, for each rotation of the cylindrical commutator the number of possible state changes is egual to twice the number of its copper segments.

These existing commutators are formed in various manners. One such method, producing a "built-up" product, requires formation of each conducting segment individually. The individual segments are then arranged circularly in a frame. After the segments are properly placed, a molding compound is inserted into the central area of the frame in contact with the inner surfaces of each segment.

Another formation method produces a cylindrical shell by curling a flat copper strip. As with the "built-up" method, a molding compound is then inserted into the centre of the cylindrical structure to create the core of the finished product. Thereafter the individual conducting segments are formed by cutting, or slotting, periodically through the copper cylinder. The widths of these slots space each segment from those adjacent to it, providing the electrical isolation

necessary for proper operation of the commutator. Although less expensive to manufacture, existing shell commutators are often less durable than their "built-up" counterparts.

Both shell and "built-up" commutators operate at high speeds, approaching, in some cases, many thousands of revolutions per minute. As a result, the conducting segments are subjected to substantial centrifugal and thermal forces, tending ultimately to disengage the segments from the central core and thereby cause the commutators to fail. Currently- existing manufacturing processes, therefore, can be manipulated to form interior features for the segments which act to anchor the segments into the molded core. Features presently in use by various manufacturers resemble, for example, dovetail-shaped recesses, acute angular protrusions, and hooks. The hooks and acute angular protrusions are created, usually in pairs, by free-form paring the interior surfaces of the segments.

The molding compound is also exposed to the centrifugal and thermal forces during operation, which in some cases can reduce the useful life of the commutator by destroying the integrity of the molding compound itself. This potential problem can be particularly acute if the integrity of the compound is disturbed near the anchors of any particular segment. As a result, a need exists to reinforce the compound and remainder of the commutator and protect against these adverse consequences.

U.S. 5 124 609 (Nagasaka) discloses a built up-type commutator in which anchoring portions of individually formed segments are engaged with insulated metal rigs and ceramic balls arranged circumferentially within the core. For shell- type commutators, the unitary segment structure existing prior to slotting has hitherto prevented the insertion of reinforcing members for engagement with segment anchoring portions.

The present invention overcomes this problem and accordingly provides a rotary switch comprising an electrically non-conductive core; electrically non-conductive means, embedded in the core, for reinforcing the switch; and a plurality of electrically conductive segments spaced about the core, each segment having an anchoring system embedded in the core, characterised in that the anchoring system is formed about the reinforcing means to fasten the segment thereto.

The present invention in its preferred form is thus able to provide an improved shell commutator anchoring system including an internal reinforcing ring embedded in the commutator's molded core, the segments being fastened to the ring to resist centrifugal forces. In some embodiments the ring of this anchoring system is placed at or near the commutator's centre of mass. The reinforcing ring also functions as a form about which the (nominally upper) hook or anchor of each conducting segment is patterned, permitting more uniform formation of each such anchor while holding it in place when subjected to centrifugal and thermal forces, furthermore permitting assembly of the ring and anchoring portions, despite the unitary nature of the shell.

The wound fibreglass strands or other material from which the rings preferably are formed additionally have greater structural integrity than their associated molded cores, reducing the possibility of core degradation adjacent (at least) the upper portion of the anchoring system. The invention is particularly useful for enhancing the durability, performance, and thermal stability of shell-type commutators while minimizing the concomitant increase in the cost of such products. It can, however, be employed in connection with other rotary switch designs and manufacturing techniques.

The present invention correspondingly provides a method of manufacturing a rotary switch comprising the steps of:

forming a tube of conductive material, filling the interior of the tube with a non-conductive curable material to form a core, curing the core material and slotting the tube to form electrically isolated segments, characterised in that, prior to the filling step, a non-conductive reinforcing means is inserted into the tube and a segment anchoring system is formed about the reinforcing means so that the segments when formed are fastened thereto.

To form shell commutators according to a preferred method of the present invention, the flat conductor of the prior art is replaced with one having a step or ledge along its interior length. Curling the material into a cylinder causes the ledge to assume a circular shape along the cylinder's inner circumference, forming a support onto which the reinforcing ring is placed. The strip is subsequently pared to form nominally upper anchoring hooks about the ring. Together with the ledge, these upper hooks retain the ring in position during the remainder of the manufacturing process. Additional paring forms nominally lower hooks and other anchors. A phenolic or other molding compound is then inserted, filling the areas within the cylinder and around the anchors, and cured to fix the mechanical properties of the resulting device. Thereafter the individual conducting segments are formed by cutting periodically through the cylinder.

If desired, suitable equipment can also be used to form tangs in the upper section of the device by removing conducting material from the conducting strip, typically before it is curled, and these tangs formed into external hooks. Wire brushing or other appropriate techniques can remove oxidation from the commutator segments and conducting residue from the slots as necessary, and existing testing techniques utilized to evaluate the electrical properties of the commutator. Producing "built-up" commutators according to the present invention would proceed similarly, although, as noted above, the individual segments would continue to be

formed prior to their being arranged into a cylindrical shape.

Further preferred features of the invention are in the dependent claims. Other objects, preferred features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of a preferred embodiment made with reference to the drawings in which:-

Fig. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a commutator;

Fig. 2 is a top plan view of the commutator of Fig. l.

Fig. 3 is a plan view of a blank from which the commutator of Fig. 1 may be formed.

Fig. 4 is a side view of the blank of Fig. 3.

Figs. 5 - 7 are cross-sectional views of the commutator of Fig. 1 at various stages of its formation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figs. 1-2 illustrate a shell commutator 10. Commutator 10 includes multiple electrically-conductive bars 14, typically copper, anchored in a phenolic (or other suitable) core 18. Additionally embedded in core 18 is ring 22, which functions to reinforce core 18 and enhance the thermal and mechanical stability of commutator 10. Ring 22 is preferably formed of fibreglass strands with epoxy resin, although other non-conductive materials may be used as necessary or desired.

Intermediate adjacent bars 14 are gaps or slots 26, which isolate the adjacent bars 14 electrically and permit commutator 10 to operate as a high-speed rotary switch. As shown in Fig. 2, some embodiments of commutator 10 contemplate use of twenty-two bars 14, permitting as many as forty-four state changes to occur for each rotation of the commutator 10. Core 18 further defines a central aperture 30 for receiving a spindle in use. Together, bars 14 and ring 22 contribute to form a commutator 10 more thermally stable at high speeds and

temperatures than existing shell-type products and less expensive and complex than conventional "built-up" devices.

Detailed in Figs. 3-4 is blank 34 from which commutator 10 is formed. Unlike "built-up" commutators, commutator 10 is not manufactured using individual conductive segments, but instead created from a continuous metal strip such as the blank 34 shown principally in Fig. 3. Divided into nominally upper, middle, and lower sections 38, 42, and 46, respectively (Fig. 4), blank 34 is curled to form the cylindrical exterior 50 of commutator 10. Beforehand,however,blank 34 is die-cut or otherwise acted upon to remove material from areas 54, spacing the discrete upper sections (tangs) 38 and forming shoulders 58 (fig. 2) of what ultimately become adjacent bars 14.

Fig. 4 illustrates the varying thickness of blank 34. Lower section 46, for example, includes region 62 of increased thickness, forming step or ledge 66 at its boundary with middle section 42. Ledge 66 constitutes a significant optional feature of commutator 10, supplying, when blank 34 is curled, an interior support upon which ring 22 may be placed. The designs of most existing shell commutators, by contrast, cannot incorporate features such as ledge 66 and ring 22, precluded by either the anchoring geometry employed or the sequence in which the anchors are made.

Formation of the commutator 10 proceeds as follows. After being positioned in the cavity of appropriate forming equipment, upper sections 38 of curled blank 34 may be bent or spread outward to reduce the risk of their becoming entangled with any paring tools. The inner surface of curled blank 34 may then be broached as desired forming axial interior slots to facilitate anchor formation and later slotting through of the blank to form the individual segments. Any residue of the broaching operation is then removed.

Figs. 5 - 7 detail creation of internal anchoring system

100 of commutator 10. Initially, with curled blank 34 upright, ring 22 is positioned on ledge 66 as shown in Fig. 5. Ring 22 has a diameter D R slightly less than the inner diameter D IM of curled blank 34 measured at middle section 42, ensuring a relatively secure fitting of the ring 22 within blank 34. Diameter D R is, of course, greater than the inner diameter D IS of curled blank 34 measured at region 62, however, permitting it to rest on ledge 66.

Paring middle section 42 creates upper anchor 104 (Fig. 6), which may then be bent flush with the upper surface 108 of ring 22 at an angle A approximately 90° to the tube axis. Concurrently, lower section 46 is pared to commence forming lower anchor 110. Tip 112 of upper anchor 104 thereafter is deflected about ring 22 at an angle B slightly less than (or approximately equal to) 90"to bring it approximately parallel to the tube axis again. Doing so traps ring 22 between ledge 66 and upper anchor 104, mechanically fastening curled blank 34 to ring 22 and retaining ring 22 in place during the remainder of the manufacturing process and while commutator 10 is in use. By utilizing ring 22 as a form about which upper anchor 104 is bent, moreover, the shape of the upper anchor 104 may be made more uniform from commutator to commutator and from segment to segment than in existing free-form designs.

As shown in Fig. 6, curling of lower anchor 110 may occur at this time as well. Additional paring of lower and middle sections 46 and 42 (as in Fig. 7) produces lower and upper crowns 114 and 118, respectively, completing creation of the internal anchoring system 100 of commutator 10. Core 18 may thereafter be formed by injecting material from above curled blank 34 into the interior space 122 defined by it and curing the material, effectively embedding internal anchoring system 100 within. Because the structural integrity of ring 22 is greater than that of the material of core 18, however, the close fit between upper anchor 104 and ring 22 strengthens and stabilizes the resulting commutator 10 by precluding (or at

least minimizing) the material of core 18 from being injected between them. In some embodiments of commutator 10, the placement of ring 22 and geometry of internal anchoring system 100 may also be designed to position ring 22 at or adjacent the centre of mass of commutator 10.

Slots 26 typically are then machined, concurrently forming and electrically isolating adjacent bars 14 of commutator 10. Although not shown in Figs. 5 - 7, bars 14 additionally may be cleaned and brushed if desired and the discrete tangs or upper sections 38 of blank 34 bent into hooks 126. Central aperture 30 of core 18 may also be machined to an appropriate diameter.

Further details of manipulation of upper anchor 104 about ring 22 are as follows. After being pared, upper anchor 104 is approached by a first former having a diameter approximately equal to D R . The first former continues its downward travel, contacting upper anchor 104 and bending the upper anchor 104 to form the angle A shown in Fig. 6. The first former then withdraws, permitting a second former to approach and contact upper anchor 104. The second former in turn continues its downward travel, forcing tip 112 about ring 22 to form angle B illustrated in Fig. 6.

The foregoing is provided for purposes of illustrating, explaining, and describing embodiments of the present invention. Modifications and adaptations to these embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art and may be made without departing form the scope of the invention as defined in the claims.