Title:
Invertible and adjustable tray
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An invertible tray for components on a strip is disclosed. A stack of trays can be manipulated to invert the orientation of its contents with minimum disturbance to the component strips. In addition, the tray includes adjustable rails for accommodating component strips of various dimensions.



Inventors:
Bradley, Scott C. (Carlsbad, CA, US)
Pylant, James D. (Temecula, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/923147
Publication Date:
04/06/2006
Filing Date:
08/19/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KEENAN, JAMES W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Isabelle R. McAndrews (Fremont, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for handling a strip of components comprising: a first tray having a first side which has protrusions extending perpendicularly therefrom, adapted to retain the strip in a first orientation; a second tray having a second side which has protrusions extending perpendicularly therefrom, adapted to retain the strip in a second orientation; the first side of the first tray is adapted to engage the second side of the second tray such that, when the trays are inverted, the strip between the first and second tray transfers from being supported by protrusions on one of the trays to being supported by the protrusions on the other of the trays and the orientation of the strip is reversed.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the strip has a plurality of openings, a portion of said openings are received by the protrusions on the first side of the first tray in a first orientation, and a portion of said openings are received by the protrusions on the second side of the second tray in another orientation reverse from the first orientation.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the openings received by the first tray are different than the openings received by the second tray.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first tray and the second tray are adapted to nest with each other.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of Locating rails provided on each of the trays.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the protrusions extend from a locating rail on a first side of the first tray and wherein the second side of the second tray has apertures on a locating rail, the apertures on the second tray receive the protrusions from the first tray when the first and second trays nest together.

7. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein each of the trays has both a first side and a second side located opposite the first side, the first and second sides each having protrusions and apertures on their respective locating rails.

8. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the locating rail may have a linear, serpentine, or sinusoidal configuration.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the protrusions are provided with a conical, hemispherical, rectangular, or hexagonal shape.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising retention rails for capturing strips of varying dimensions between the first and second trays.

11. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising retention rails for capturing strips of varying dimensions between the first and second trays.

12. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the retention rails and the locating rails are adjustable.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the retention rails and the locating rails are adjustable along a plurality of alignment bars, and at least one of the alignment bars has a notched surface.

14. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said components comprise a partial or complete suspension assembly for a hard disk drive.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said trays are formed from an insulating, static dissipating or electrically conductive material.

16. A stack of trays having a top surface and a bottom surface, said surfaces being useable for handling a plurality of suspension assemblies, the stack of trays comprising: a first and a second tray each having alignment bars, a locating rail and a retention rail; a plurality of suspension assemblies each having an opening along a periphery; a portion of the openings of the suspension assemblies being received in a first orientation by at least one protrusion extending from the locating rail on a first tray; wherein the plurality of suspension assemblies are transferred to the second tray to have a second orientation by manipulating the stack so that the openings on the plurality of suspension assemblies rest on at least one protrusion of the second tray.

17. The stack of trays of claim 16, wherein the suspension assemblies are accessible for inspection from either the top or bottom surface of the stack.

18. A stack of trays of claim 16, wherein the plurality of suspension assemblies are captured by the retention rails and locating rails between the two trays.

19. The stack of trays of claim 16, wherein the locating rails and the retention rails are adjustable.

20. The stack of trays of claim 16, wherein the locating rail and the retention rail are adjustable along the alignment bars, and at least one of the alignment bars has a notched surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an adjustable tray for handling a plurality of hard disk drive heads in two different orientations. The invention is designed for handling partial or complete HDD heads, hereinafter referred to as suspension assemblies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

An HDD suspension assembly is a fragile part that comprises a triangular-shaped portion, a base, a suspension arm and at least one magnetic read/write head. A flexible circuit is attached to the forward portion of the assembly. HDD suspensions are generally fabricated in groups of five or ten suspensions per strip, and then singulated before shipping. During the fabrication process it is necessary to access the suspensions on the top and bottom side of each tray. Currently, HDD suspensions must be manually removed from the tray for inspection, inverted and then placed back into the tray during processing. Suspensions that are manually inverted are susceptible to damage. Merely inverting a tray can introduce substantial contaminants into a stack of trays if the tray contents are dropped down into a receiving tray of a stack. Therefore, a need exists for an invertible tray that does not introduce contaminants due to vertical movement of the contents when the tray is manipulated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns an apparatus for handling a strip having components thereon (herein component strip or simply strip). The apparatus includes a first tray having a first side with protrusions adapted to retain a component strip in a first orientation. In addition, the apparatus includes a second tray having a second side which has protrusions adapted to retain a component strip in a second orientation. The first side of the first tray is adapted to engage the second side of the second tray such that, when the trays are inverted, the strip is transferred from the first tray to the second tray and becomes supported in a new orientation by protrusions on the second tray.

In another embodiment the invention is directed to a stack of trays having a top surface and a bottom surface, each surface being useable for handling a plurality of suspension assemblies. Each tray in the stack has alignment bars, a locating rail and a retention rail. The suspension assemblies are held in a first orientation by at least one protrusion extending from the locating rail on one of the trays. The suspension assemblies are inverted by manipulating the stack so that the openings on the plurality of suspension assemblies rest on at least one protrusion extending from a second tray. The suspension assemblies are captured by the retention rails and the protrusions between the two trays. As a result, the suspension assemblies are accessible for inspection from either the top or bottom surface of the stack. In yet another embodiment, the invention is directed to a tray that is both invertible and adjustable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a suspension assembly on a strip.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invertible tray of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a partial side view of a stack of trays in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4A is a top isometric view of the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a partial view of a stack of trays in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4C is a bottom isometric view of the tray shown in FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged isometric view of a suspension assembly captured between two trays.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is designed to facilitate the handling of components that are on a strip. Specifically, the tray can handle strips during different processing stages. The invention will be described in reference to HDD suspensions attached to a strip. However, the invention can apply to any other type of articles that are progressively built on a strip of material, with additional elements being added to the strip in each successive manufacturing stage.

FIG. 1 illustrates the general features of a suspension strip 100. The HDD suspension strip has five suspension assemblies, each having a triangular-shaped portion 10, a base, a suspension arm 15 and at least one magnetic read/write head 18. Along an outer edge 150 of the suspension strip are a series of openings 55. FIG. 1 illustrates a flexible circuit 125 that is attached to the periphery of each HDD assembly 60 on strip 100. It is understood that a partially-completed HDD suspension assembly might omit certain elements that are present in FIG. 1. The trays of the present invention are suitable for handling partial HDD suspension assemblies, as well as complete HDD suspension assemblies.

In reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, a tray for handling a plurality of suspension assemblies is shown. Tray 20 has a top profile 30 and a bottom profile 40. The top profile 30 is configured to hold a plurality of suspension assemblies in one orientation. The bottom profile 40 is configured to handle a component strip in an orientation reverse from the top profile.

As shown in FIG. 2, each primary surface of tray 20 has protrusions 22 and retention rails 35 for holding component strip 100 (not shown) in place. Protrusions 22 are located on opposing surfaces of locating rail 25 at periodic intervals. Although the protrusions 22 are shown as having a conical shape, they can instead have contours that are hemispherical, rectangular, hexagonal, or any other type of shape. Locating rail 25 may have various configurations including a linear, serpentine, sinusoidal or other configuration. Locating rail 25 also contains apertures 24 that interlock with protrusions 22 on a locating rail from an abutting tray. The apertures 24 are contoured to match the shape of the protrusions 22.

Tray 20 can handle component strip of various dimensions by adjusting locating rail 25 and retention rails 35 along alignment bars 32, 34 and alignment bars 42, 44. In order to properly capture components between abutting trays, it is preferable that each locating rail and retention rail in a first tray have a similar position as in a second tray that abuts the first tray. Retention rails 35 and protrusions 22 support the component strip in a desired position in the tray stack.

FIG. 3 illustrates a partial side view of a stack composed of two trays. Only trays carrying suspensions of the same dimensions will properly nest together. In particular, protrusions 22 from one side of a first tray 270 interlock with apertures 24 on a second tray 280 when their respective locating rails 25 are in similar positions. Conversely, protrusions 22 from the second tray interlock with apertures 24 on the first tray when locating rails 25 are spaced a similar distance from the side wall 230 of each tray.

Each tray may optionally include two or more feet 26 extending from the bottom surface. Feet 26 prevent the trays from accumulating contaminants and protect the fragility of the protrusions 22 as well. When present, feet 26 have dimensions that do not interfere with any of the tray features on the top and bottom profiles of the present invention.

The manner in which the contents of a tray are inverted will now be discussed. FIG. 4A shows a suspension strip 100 retained by protrusions 22 on a top side of a first tray 200. A second tray 300 is stacked on the first tray 200 to capture strip 100 between protrusions 22 and retention rails 35. When tray stack 400 in FIG. 4B is turned over, strip 100 undergoes minimal movement because of the proximity of the protrusions of adjacent trays 200, 300. The minimal amount of movement is beneficial in reducing contaminant buildup in strip 100. After turning over stack 400, strip 100 has an orientation reverse from the orientation illustrated in FIG. 4A. FIG. 4B illustrates the first orientation prior to inversion in which strip 100 is retained by protrusions 22 on tray 200. Specifically, protrusions 22 receive a portion of the openings on suspension strip 100. In the second and reverse orientation shown in FIG. 4C, protrusions 22 on tray 300 receive a different portion of openings of suspension strip 100.

A partial exploded view of a suspension strip 100 between two trays is shown in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, a flexible circuit 125 is part of the suspension strip 100. The flexible circuit 125 constitutes a narrow base having an electrical circuit attached thereon. Flexible circuit 125 is supported between two retention rails 35. Specifically, a narrow space or clearance 75 between retention rails 35 ensures minimal rubbing between the flexible circuit and retention rails 35. Because retention rails 35 are slender and easily bendable, they are provided with indentations 52 near gap 85. Indentations 52 enable retention rails 35 to mate with notches 47 on alignment bars 44. Alignment bars thereby stabilize retention rails 35 by preventing the retention rails 35 from bending unnecessarily. Notches 47 also secure locating rails 35 in a desired position. Therefore, retention rails 35 and locating rails 25 substantially restrict vertical movement of suspension strip 100.

The miniscule clearance 75 between retention rails 35 of each tray allows suspension strip 100 to be reoriented with minimal movement when a stack of trays is inverted. As a result of inverting the tray stack, the suspension strip is transferred with minimal movement to an abutting tray and reoriented to an orientation reverse from the orientation before inversion.

The present invention is fabricated from traditional methods of injection molding. The present invention can be fabricated from conductive, thermoplastic, non-conductive, and insulated plastic. In addition, the trays of this invention can be fabricated from material that has electrostatic dissipating properties.

The examples described herein are solely representative of the present invention. It is understood that various modifications and substitutions may be made to the foregoing examples without departing from either the spirit or scope of the invention. In some instances certain features of the invention wit[ be employed without other features depending on the particular situation encountered by the ordinary person skilled in the art. Moreover the trays are not restricted to handling solely strips having five suspension assemblies, but can hold more or fewer assemblies on a strip, as well as a plurality of strips within the same tray. It is therefore the intent that the invention not be limited to the particular examples disclosed herein.