Title:
Multi-functional lock strip for a weatherseal
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vehicular weatherseal includes a weatherseal body having a flange engaging channel, a panel contacting member and a lock strip for securing the channel relative to a flange of the vehicle. The lock strip performs at least one of a sealing function with a panel of the vehicle or a trim function and includes a gap closing lip extending generally laterally from the flange engaging channel. The panel contacting member extends from one of the projecting legs for contacting the vehicle panel at a location transverse to the flange engaging channel.



Inventors:
Zwolinski, David T. (Maryville, TN, US)
Willett, Kevin R. (Maryville, TN, US)
Application Number:
10/884038
Publication Date:
01/05/2006
Filing Date:
07/02/2004
Assignee:
Schlegel Corporation (New York, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C2/38
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
STRIMBU, GREGORY J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP Practice Group (Rochester, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A vehicular weatherseal for a vehicle having a flange and a spaced panel, the vehicular weatherseal comprising: (a) a weatherseal body including (i) a flange engaging channel having a first closed end and a pair of projecting legs sized to receive a portion of the flange, an outer surface of the first closed end including a spreader jaw and (ii) a panel contacting member extending from one of the projecting legs for contacting the spaced panel at a location transverse to the projecting leg; and (b) a lock strip forming an exposed surface of the flange engaging channel, the lock strip having (i) a locking tab for cooperatively engaging the spreader jaw to secure the flange engaging channel to the flange and (ii) a gap closing lip extending a distance transverse to one of the projecting legs.

2. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member is a trim member.

3. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member is a sealing member.

4. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member includes a glass receiving channel having a second closed end extending from one of the projecting legs and a second leg projecting from the second closed end.

5. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 4, wherein the gap closing lip includes a panel contacting surface within the glass receiving channel.

6. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip includes a panel contacting surface.

7. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the lock strip is hingedly connected to one of the flange engaging channel and the panel contacting member.

8. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member is a bulb.

9. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member has a cellular structure.

10. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the lock strip is integrally and hingedly connected to the weatherseal body.

11. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip overlies a portion of the panel contacting member.

12. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip forms a sealing surface for contacting the panel.

13. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip is a different material than the locking tab.

14. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip is a trim portion forming an exposed surface of the vehicular weatherseal.

15. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the gap closing lip overlies a portion of the panel contacting member.

16. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, further comprising a reinforcing member in one of the projecting legs.

17. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, further comprising a second panel contacting member extending from the flange engaging channel.

18. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member is a static seal.

19. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the panel contacting member is a dynamic seal.

20. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, further comprising a gripping fin extending from one of the projecting legs for contacting the flange.

21. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, further comprising a reinforcing member within the locking tab.

22. The vehicular weatherseal of claim 1, wherein the weatherseal body and the lock strip are recyclable.

23. A method of forming a vehicular weatherseal, comprising: (a) forming a weatherseal body including (i) a flange engaging channel having a first closed end and a pair of projecting legs sized to receive a portion of the flange, an outer surface of the first closed end including a spreader jaw and (ii) a panel contacting member extending from one of the projecting legs for contacting the spaced panel at a location transverse to the projecting leg; and (b) forming a lock strip sized to provide an exposed surface of the flange engaging channel, the lock strip having (i) a locking tab for cooperatively engaging the spreader jaw to secure the flange engaging channel to the flange and (ii) a gap closing lip extending a distance transverse to one of the projecting legs.

24. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member as a trim member.

25. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member as a sealing member.

26. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member to include a glass receiving channel having a second closed end extending from one of the projecting legs and a second leg projecting from the second closed end.

27. The method of claim 26, further comprising forming the gap closing lip to include a panel contacting surface within the glass receiving channel.

28. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the gap closing lip to include a panel contacting surface.

29. The method of claim 23, further comprising hingedly connecting the lock strip and the weatherseal body.

30. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member as a bulb.

31. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member to include a cellular structure.

32. The method of claim 23, further comprising integrally and hingedly connecting the lock strip to the weatherseal body.

33. The method of claim 23, further comprising sizing the gap closing lip to overlie a portion of the panel contacting member.

34. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the gap closing lip to provide a sealing surface for contacting the panel.

35. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the gap closing lip of a different material than the locking tab.

36. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the gap closing lip as a trim portion defining an exposed surface of the vehicular weatherseal.

37. The method of claim 23, further comprising sizing the gap closing lip to overlie a portion of the panel contacting member.

38. The method of claim 23, further comprising disposing a reinforcing member in one of the projecting legs.

39. The method of claim 23, further comprising extruding the weatherseal body and the lock strip.

40. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member as a static seal.

41. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the panel contacting member as a dynamic seal.

42. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming a gripping fin extending from one of the projecting legs for contacting the flange.

43. The method of claim 23, further comprising disposing a reinforcing member within the locking tab.

44. The method of claim 23, further comprising forming the weatherseal body and the lock strip of recyclable material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A “SEQUENCE LISTING”

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to vehicular weatherseals and, more particularly, to a vehicular weatherseal including a lock strip for securing a U-shaped flange engaging channel to a vehicle flange and, more particularly, to a lock strip that forms one of a sealing surface or a trim surface.

2. Description of Realted Art

U.S. Pat. No. 2,637,880 discloses a self-sealing window strip, wherein a mounting strip receives a peripheral edge of two adjacent windows and a locking strip is disposed along a lateral edge of the window strip, between the peripheral edges of the windows, to engage the window strip with the windows.

Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 2,492,566 discloses a connector strip for engaging peripheral edges of a pair of windows, wherein the connector strip includes a wedge for engaging a lateral portion of the connector strip.

However, these devices are constructed to accommodate glass panes of a known thickness, wherein variation between individual panes is insignificant. The locking strip has also been used in connection with a protection strip for mounting on a flange. These prior devices can accommodate only a predetermined flange thickness and cannot accommodate varying thickness of the flange along a length of the seal. In addition, the prior devices do not provide for a locking strip that cooperates with sealing or trimming functions of the weatherseal.

The need exists for a weatherseal that can employ a variable capacity flange engaging channel to operably engage a variety of flange thicknesses. The need also exists for such a weatherseal that can be readily installed. A further need exists for a lock strip actuated weatherseal, wherein the lock strip cooperates with an existing seal or trim portion. A need also exists for a locking strip that can provide a sealing or a trimming function of a vehicular weatherseal.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a weatherseal that can operably engage a variety of flange thicknesses without requiring additional components or installation procedures.

The weatherseal provides a variable “width” flange engaging channel actuated by a lock strip, wherein the lock strip can also function as a sealing surface, such as in a glass run channel or as a trim portion cooperating with the weatherseal or an adjacent portion of the vehicle.

The present invention provides a weatherseal body including (i) a flange engaging channel having a first closed end and a pair of projecting legs sized to receive a portion of the flange, an outer surface of the first closed end including a spreader jaw and (ii) a panel contacting member extending a traverse distance from one of the projecting legs for contacting the spaced panel ; and a lock strip forming an exposed surface of the flange engaging channel, the lock strip having (i) a locking tab for cooperatively engaging the spreader jaw to secure the flange engaging channel to the flange and (ii) a gap closing lip extending a distance transverse to one of the projecting legs.

In one configuration, the weatherseal is a glass run assembly having a U-shape flange engaging channel and the panel contacting member is an inverted U-shape window receiving channel. A closed end of the flange engaging channel includes a spreader jaw, and the lock strip is hingedly connected to the weatherseal to be moveable between an uninstalled position and a flange engaging-installed position. The lock strip includes a locking tab sized to be received in the spreader jaw to clamp the flange engaging channel to the vehicle flange. The lock strip also includes a sealing lip as the gap closing lip, wherein the sealing lip projects to be at least partially located within the window receiving channel.

In an alternate configuration, the weatherseal includes the U-shape flange engaging channel and the panel contacting member, such as a sealing member, projecting from an outside surface of the flange engaging channel. The lock strip is sized to locate the locking tab within the spreader jaw and the gap closing lip terminating at a position spaced from the flange engaging channel. The gap closing lip can also overlie a portion of the sealing member. It is further contemplated the lock strip can be hingedly connected to a portion of the sealing member and the gap closing lip be a trim lip projecting from the flange engaging channel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a motor vehicle, showing an operable location of the weatherseal.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the glass run configuration of the present invention in an uninstalled configuration.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the glass run of FIG. 2 in an installed configuration.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative configuration of the lock strip and weatherseal.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the further configuration of the lock strip and weatherseal.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of another configuration of the lock strip and weatherseal.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a weatherseal 10 of the present invention can be employed in a motor vehicle 12. The weatherseal 10 can be used in a variety of locations on the vehicle for releasably and repeatedly engaging a panel 14. For purposes of description, the weatherseal 10 will be described in conjunction with the motor vehicle 12. However, it is understood the weatherseal 10 is not limited to this particular application and can be employed as a trim piece or along any interface that requires a resistance to environmental migration.

The term weatherseal 10 includes, but is not limited to, extrusions, moldings, trim, trim pieces, edge pieces, weatherseals and seals. In the motor vehicle industry, the weatherseal 10 is suitable for use in many areas including, but not limited to, door seals, roof rails, deck lids, trunk lids, back window seals, belt line seals, fixed window seals, windshields, front hood seals, hood-to-cowl seals, sun roof seals and moveable window seals. In particular, the present weatherseal 10 finds particular application in a glass run assembly, for engaging, guiding and sealing with a panel 14, or as a vehicle body seal which provides an interior trim function.

The panel 14 can be any of a variety of materials and does not limit the present invention. For example, the panel 14 can be glass, metal or a composite, which is painted, surface treated or bare. In the operating environment, the panel 14 can be brought repeatedly into and out of engagement with the weatherseal 10. The engagement of the panel 14 and the weatherseal 10 can result from motion of the panel relative to the weatherseal. Alternatively, the weatherseal 10 can be moved relative to the panel 14. It is also contemplated the weatherseal 10 can be located about a fixed panel 14 such as a front or rear window. It is also understood the panel 14 can be a trim piece of the vehicle, such as an interior trim piece.

Although not limiting the scope of the invention, it is anticipated the weatherseal 10 can be cooperatively employed with a vehicle 12, such as a vehicle having a front door and a rear door, wherein a flange 16 (shown in FIG. 4) is adjacent to at least a portion of the intended location of the weatherseal. The flange 16 is a distinct component from the panel 14. That is, the flange 16 and the panel 14 are typically separate components of the vehicle 12.

The weatherseal 10 includes a weatherseal body 20 and a lock strip 80. The weatherseal body 20 includes a flange engaging channel 40 and a panel contacting member 25. The panel contacting member 25 can be a sealing member or a trim member. That is, the panel contacting member 25 can form a sealed interface with the panel 14 or “trim out” a portion of vehicle to provide a finished exposed surface, which does not form a sealed interface. Typically, the panel contacting member 25 is a sealing member such as a bulb or a window receiving channel, and is transversely spaced from the flange engaging channel 40 along a length of the flange engaging channel. It is understood the panel contacting member 25 can be a static seal or a dynamic seal. The weatherseal body 20 can include one, two or more panel contacting members 25. Thus, each leg of the flange engaging channel 40 can include at least one panel contacting member 25, wherein the panel contacting members are sealing members, trim members or a combination thereof.

Referring to FIGS. 2-3, a glass run configuration of the weatherseal 10 is shown. In this configuration, the weatherseal body 20 includes the flange engaging channel 40 and the panel contacting member 25, wherein the panel contacting member is an inverted window receiving channel 60 (often referred to as a glass run channel) and cooperates with the lock strip 80. The overall cross-sectional profile of the weatherseal body 20 thus generally defines a curvilinear or segmented S.

The flange engaging channel 40, in cross section, is defined by an interior leg 42, a flange channel closed end 44 and a transition leg 46 projecting from the closed end 44. The window receiving channel 60, forming the panel engaging member 25, has a cross section defined by the transition leg 46, a window channel closed end 64 and an exterior leg 62 projecting from the window channel closed end. The window channel closed end 64 provides a connection of the transition leg 46 to the exterior leg 62. Depending upon the length of the transition leg 46, the transition leg can form a common leg of the flange engaging channel 40 and the window receiving channel 60 or can define a separate channel forming length corresponding to the respective interior leg 42 or exterior leg 62. The interior leg 42 includes a free end 41, and the exterior leg 62 includes a free end 61.

The flange channel closed end 44 connects the interior leg 42 to the transition leg 46 and has a generally curvilinear cross section. However, it is understood the flange channel closed end 44 can be curvilinear or faceted. An outside surface of the flange channel closed end 44 includes a spreader jaw 50 sized to cooperatively engage a locking tab 82 of the lock strip 80. Generally, the spreader jaw 50 terminates at a hinge 52. In one configuration, the spreader jaw 50 extends through a substantial thickness of the closed end 44 of the flange engaging channel 40, such that the hinge 52 is defined by the remaining thickness of the flange channel closed end 44. The spreader jaw 50 defines a pair of spaced legs moveable between a loaded position retaining the locking tab 82 so as to secure, or clamp the flange engaging channel 40 with the flange 16 and an unloaded position free of the locking tab so as to allow the flange to be inserted within the flange engaging channel. The spreader jaw 50 can be any of a number of cross-sectional profiles including, but not limited to, generally circular, oval, triangular, rectangular, curvilinear or faceted.

The flange engaging channel 40 can include one or more gripping fins 48 on an inside surface of the channel for firmly securing the weatherseal 10 to the vehicle 12, such as the flange 16. The gripping fins 48 can be formed by the variety of materials known in the art, such as thermosets or thermoplastics, including a sponge or foamed material of reduced density. The number, sizing and spacing of the gripping fins 48 can be selected in view of the anticipated flange thickness and variations to be accommodated. Further, the gripping fins 48 can be of the same, a harder or a softer material than the remainder of the flange engaging channel 40. It is also contemplated, the gripping fins 48 can include two or more portions of differing durometer materials. The gripping fins 48 are optional and can be eliminated, as the engagement of the lock strip 80 and the flange engaging channel 40 can be selected to operably retain the flange engaging channel on the flange 16 without requiring the gripping fins.

In the glass run configuration, the exterior leg 62 of the panel contacting member 25, can include a sealing lip or fin 68 that projects into the window receiving channel 60 to contact the panel 14 as the panel is located within the window receiving channel. The sealing lip 68 can be any of a variety of polymeric materials including thermoplastics and thermosets. However, to enhance recyclability of the weatherseal 10, it has been found beneficial to employ a thermoplastic, such as a thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV). The sealing lip 68, gripping fins 48 and surface layer (if employed) can be formed from a softer, more resilient TPE, for example Santoprene®, having a hardness in the range of 40 to 90 and preferably approximately 70 according to the Shore A scale.

The weatherseal 10 and preferably the flange engaging channel 40 are formed without structural metal. That is, at least the flange engaging channel 40 does not require a metal carrier or metal reinforcement for providing sufficient rigidity to perform the required functions.

It is understood the weatherseal body 20 can include metal in the form of a filler, trace amounts or colorants, and particularly those amounts that do not inhibit subsequent recycling of the polymer material. Such metal is in contrast to the structural metal sufficient to reinforce the flange engaging channel 40 or the window receiving channel 60 or provide structural rigidity or integrity of the channels 40 and 60.

Referring to FIGS. 4-6, the flange engaging channel 40 can also include a reinforcing member 45 such as a ribbon, thread, cord, cable, stamped metal, wire carrier or foil, which enhances rigidity or stability in at least a single dimension. As seen in FIG. 4, the reinforcing member 45 is a substantially inextendable cord that can provide stability along a longitudinal dimension of the weatherseal 10, while allowing the material of the weatherseal body 20 to define the rigidity in the transverse dimensions. As seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, the reinforcing member 45 is shown as a generally flat ribbon or tape which resists elongation along the longitudinal axis of the weatherseal body 20 as well as resisting bending in a single transverse direction. Such reinforcing member 45 can be located in both legs 42 and 46 as seen in FIG. 5, or in a single leg as seen in FIG. 6. The reinforcing member can be any of a variety of materials, including but not limited to polymers, metals or fiberglass. The reinforcing member 45 can thereby reduce elongation along a longitudinal dimension, without increasing stability, or rigidity of the weatherseal 10 in one or two transverse dimensions.

The lock strip 80 is moveable relative to the flange engaging channel 40 between an open, uninstalled position and a locked (installed) position. Thus, the weatherseal 10 is moveable between an open, uninstalled position and an installed (flange engaging) position.

As seen in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, preferably, the lock strip 80 is integrally and hingedly connected to the flange engaging channel 40 at a hinge 88 to be moveable between the unlocked position and the locked (or engaged) position. However, it is understood the lock strip 80 can be separately formed from the weatherseal body 20 and subsequently bonded or engaged with the weatherseal body to form the hinge 88 and be moveable between the uninstalled, open position and the closed (installed) position. The hinge 88 connecting the lock strip 80 to the flange engaging channel 40 can be located along the interior leg 42, the flange channel closed end 44 or the transition between the interior leg and the closed end. Further, the hinge 88 is preferably constructed to provide a substantially continuous surface across the hinge. Preferably, the hinge 88 does not form a readily perceptible sight line when the lock strip 80 is in the closed position.

The lock strip 80 includes the projecting locking tab 82 and a gap closing lip 90. The gap closing lip 90 can extend from the weatherseal body 20 to provide a sealing surface or a trim surface. For example, in the configuration of FIGS. 2 and 3, the gap closing lip 90 is configured as sealing lip 84. The locking tab 82 is sized to be received and retained in the spreader jaw 50. Preferably, the locking tab 82 corresponds to the shape of the spreader jaw 50 to be operably engaged with the spreader jaw. The locking tab 82 can also include the reinforcing member 45, as seen in FIGS. 5 and 6. By locating the reinforcing member 45 within the locking tab 82, the locking tab can be the same material as the remainder of the lock strip 80 (a relatively soft material) yet exert sufficient force within the spreader jaw 50 to clamp the flange engaging channel 40 to the flange 16. The reinforcing member 45 in the locking tab 82 increases the strength and rigidity of the locking tab without requiring an individualized material for the locking tab.

The sealing lip 84 configuration of the gap closing lip 90 terminates at a free end 85, the free end being sized to be at least partially disposed within the window receiving channel 60, shown in FIG. 3. The sealing lip 84 forms a contact surface 86 for contacting the window panel 14 in the window receiving channel 60. The contact surface 86 can include a slip or friction reducing coating, such as PTFE, co-extruded HDPE or modified HDPE, PTFE, as well as flock, and spray-on coatings such as urethane. Thus, the sealing lip 84 can releasably and repeatedly contact the moving panel 14 in the window receiving channel 60. The sealing lip 68 can also include such slip or friction reducing coating for contacting the panel 14 as the panel is received with the window receiving channel 60.

The sealing lip 84 can have a varying cross-sectional thickness, depending upon the material of the lock strip 80 and the intended operating parameters. The location of the free end 85 and the sealing lip 84 within the window receiving channel 60 is at least partially determined by the intended operating configuration of the weatherseal 10. The lock strip 80 is configured to locate the locking tab 82 intermediate the hinge 88 and the free end 85.

The spreader jaw 50 and the locking tab 82 are sized to move the legs 42 and 46 from a spread (splayed) position (FIG. 2) to a locking (clamping) position (FIG. 3) upon engagement of the locking tab with the spreader jaw. The amount of displacement between the open position and the closed position of the legs 42 and 46 can be controlled by the sizing of the spreader jaw 50 and locking tab 82. The configuration of the gripping fins 48 can also be controlled to assist in accommodating various flange thicknesses.

Referring to FIGS. 4-6, in an alternative configuration, the weatherseal body 20 includes the flange engaging channel 40 formed by the interior leg 42, the flange channel closed end 44 and the transition leg 46. The panel contacting member 25 is a sealing member 70, such as a sealing bulb. In this configuration, the panel contacting member 25, is integrally connected to an outer surface of one of the legs of the flange engaging channel 40. The sealing member 70 is formed to be resiliently deformable for repeatedly and releasably engaging a relatively moveable panel in a compression or sliding motion. The sealing member 70 can be formed of a sponge or cellular structure, having open or closed cells.

In this configuration, the lock strip 80 is sized to overlie a portion of the sealing member 70 (panel contacting member 25) and the closed end 44 of the flange engaging channel 40 and the gap closing lip 90 projects from the transition leg 46, such that the free end 85 of the gap closing lip and hence lock strip is spaced from the transition leg. Thus, the lock strip 80 includes the gap closing lip 90 functioning as a trim portion, or flap, extending from the flange engaging channel 40 and generally located between ends of the legs of the flange engaging channel. In the construction shown in FIG. 4, the lock strip 80 is hingedly connected to a portion of the sealing member 70 (panel contacting member 25) to be moveable between the open position and the installed position.

The cooperation of the lock strip 80 and the spreader jaw 50 is as set forth in the prior embodiment.

Referring to FIG. 5, it is also contemplated the lock strip 80 can be a separate component from the flange engaging channel 40. Thus, entirely independent processing parameters can be employed for formation of the flange engaging channel 40 and the lock strip 80. The separate processing readily allows for independent coloring of the components. Therefore, the lock strip 80 can exhibit a different color than the flange engaging channel 40.

As shown in FIG. 6, it is also contemplated the weatherseal body 20 can include a second panel contacting member 25′ in the form of a trim lip 30 integrally connected to and extending from the flange engaging channel 40. In this configuration, the lock strip 80 is sized to overlie a portion of both panel contacting members 25, 25′, the sealing member 70 and the trim lip 30, as well as the closed end of the flange engaging channel 40. The lock strip 80 can be connected to the channel 40 by a hinge or connected only by engagement of the locking tab 82. The lock strip 80 can include a first and a second gap closing lip 90, 90′ wherein the lips can be trim lips, sealing lips or one sealing lip and one trim lip.

The lock strip 80 can be hingedly connected to the sealing member 70 (the panel contacting member 25). The hinged connection can be formed as an integral connection, wherein the lock strip 80 is formed at least substantially concurrently with the flange engaging channel 40. Alternatively, the lock strip 80 can be hingedly connected to the flange engaging channel 40 after formation of both the lock strip and the flange engaging channel.

The weatherseal body 20 is formed of a polymeric material, and preferably a polymeric material having sufficient rigidity to perform the intended functions. A material that has been found suitable is a structural grade polypropylene. It is understood that comparably rigid thermoset materials can be employed. However, use of thermoset materials requires additional processing steps for recycling of the thermoset materials. In contrast, thermoplastic materials can be readily remelted and reconfigured into subsequent products.

The weatherseal body 20 can be formed from a number of different plastic materials, for example, thermoplastics and thermoplastic elastomers TPEs. Depending on the hardness, TPEs are sometimes categorized as thermoplastics and sometimes as elastomers. For purposes of this invention, no such distinction will be made, and hard and soft grades of plastic will all be referred to as TPEs. Preferably, the entire weatherseal body 20 and the lock strip 80 are formed of recyclable materials, thereby permitting the assembly to readily recycled, without requiring separation of components.

TPEs are commercially available in several different brands and types. Each type can be obtained in different grades having different properties such as hardness, tensile strength, compression, elongation, thermal stability and colorability. Selection of the appropriate TPE for a particular application depends on a suitable combination for such properties. Types of TPEs that are particularly useful are styrenic block co-polymers, rubber polyolefin blends, elastomeric alloys, thermoplastic alloys, thermoplastic elastomeric alloys, thermoplastic isomers, thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyvinyl chlorides and blends thereof.

Styrenic block copolymers are commercially available in many types and grades within types. For example, Kraton® from Shell Chemical Co. is based on block copolymers of styrene with a diene or an olefin pair, ethylene-butylene. The diene can be isoprene or butadiene.

The rubber-polyolefin blends or thermoplastic polyolefins (TPOs) are blends of various polyolefins with ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR) or ethylene-propylene-diene-monomer (EPDM). Suitable polyolefins include polypropylene and various types of polyethylene. Copolymers of propylene and ethylene and blends of TPOs can also be used. TPOs are also useful as modifiers of other TPEs.

Alloying is an interactive combination of two or more materials to give a material having better properties than those of the corresponding blend. Thermoplastic alloys are available with properties enabling them to be painted. Thermoplastic elastomeric alloys and elastomeric alloys (EAs) are composed of synergistic mixtures of two or more polymers that have been treated to give them properties different from simple blends of the major constituents. The two types of elastomeric alloys are melt processable rubbers (MPRs) and thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs).

EA-MPRs are a category of TPEs made of a highly plasticized, single phase combination of a chlorinated polyolefin, an ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer and an acrylic ester mixture in which the rubber phase is highly crosslinked, for example, Alcryn® from E. I. du Pont Nemours, Inc. EA-TPEs are made of a rubber/plastic polymer mixture in which the rubber phase is fully crosslinked.

The plastic phase of a TPV is commonly a polyolefin especially polypropylene, and the rubber phase is often an ethylene-propylene elastomer. A particularly useful TPV, suitable for windows seals, is formed from polypropylene and EPDM rubber and is commercially available in several grades as Santoprene® from Monsanto Chemical Co.

Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) are formed by copolymerization of diisocyanates with long-chain diols and short-chain diols. TPUs are available commercially in a number of types and grades, for example, Texin® from Mobay Corporation, Estane® from B. F. Goodrich Co., Pellethane® from Dow Chemical Corp. and Q-Thane® from K. J. Quinn and Co., Inc.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based TPEs are also suitable for window seals and are available in different grades and blends with other TPEs and rubbers. P-Valloy is one such material available from GBIE (Gerry Bareich Import Export Inc.) of Canada.

Thermoplastic ionomers are polymers containing interchain ionic bonding which affords tough, durable, transparent thermoplastics, for example, Surlyn® from E. I. du Pont de Nemours, Inc.

The weatherseal body 20 can be formed of a substantially rigid TPE. A rigid TPE, for example a polypropylene, preferably has a hardness in the range of 40 to 85 (preferably 70) Shore D.

The weatherseal body 20 can be encompassed, partially covered or encapsulated by an additional polymeric material forming a surface layer. The surface layer can be formed of a variety of materials such as a TPE having a lower hardness than the backbone. However, in view of the benefits of reduced weight, encapsulation by the surface layer is optional.

The hard and soft TPEs of the weatherseal body 20 are readily processed and fabricated, for example, by extrusion or molding and are particularly amenable to coextrusion and molding of one or more TPEs of different durometer values. The TPEs are readily colored to match the vehicle either by incorporating pigment or by painting. Directly paintable TPE's have a high surface energy material blended into the base polymer to accept water based paints without any pretreatment. Various hardnesses of this material are available from Ferro Corporation.

The TPEs can be made with a high gloss finish, for example, a Class A finish or a gloss of at least 60 numerical value when measured at a 60° angle with a gloss meter, which is substantially higher than can be obtained with an EPDM rubber seal. It is desirable that the TPE meets the exterior weathering cycle per SAE J1960 with minimum change in color or gloss.

In installation of the weatherseal 10, the lock strip 80 is initially in the open, uninstalled position, such that the interior leg 42 and the transition leg 46 are slightly splayed and the spreader jaw 50 is unloaded. The splayed flange engaging channel 40 is disposed over the flange 16 of the vehicle 12. The lock strip 80 is moved to the installed position so as to dispose the locking tab 82 in the spreader jaw 50. As the locking tab 82 is disposed into the spreader jaw 50, the interior leg 42 is urged towards the transition leg 46 and the gripping fins 48 in the flange engaging channel 40 compress on the flange 16. A varying thickness of the flange 16 is at least partially accommodated by the sizing of the gripping fins 48.

As the lock strip 80 is disposed in the installed position, the gap closing lip 90 (the sealing lip 84 in this configuration) of the lock strip is located within the window receiving channel 60 (the panel contacting member 25). Preferably, the sealing lip 84 of the lock strip 80 is between the exterior leg 62 and the transition leg 46.

In a preferred construction, the splay of the flange engaging channel 40 is independent of the size of the window receiving channel 60. That is, the relative spacing of the exterior leg 62 and the transition leg 46 is independent of the position of the lock strip 80. The lock strip 80 thus controls the splay spacing of the interior leg 42 relative to the “fixed” relationship of the transition leg 46 to the window receiving channel closed end 64 and to the exterior leg 62.

Manufacture

The weatherseal 10 is formed by extruding lengths of the weatherseal body 20 and the lock strip 80. For example, in the glass run assembly configuration, the channels 40 and 60, and the sealing lips 68 (if employed) are simultaneously extruded, coextruded or extruded with the weatherseal body 20 to intimately bond to the weatherseal body and preclude non-destructive separation. While it is preferable that the materials are selected such that sufficient bonding is obtained by the heat during formation, it is understood that adhesives can be used to supplement or augment the construction.

While the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing description. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, and variations as fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.