Title:
TEXTURED STRUCTURE FOR OBJECT SURFACE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A textured structure is formed on the surface of an object. The textured structure is composed of first convexities formed on the surface of the object, and second convexities formed between the first convexities. The second convexities are formed to be smaller in width than the first convexities, and equal to or smaller than the first convexities in height.



Inventors:
Yamauchi, Toshimichi (Wako-shi, Saitama, JP)
Yamaguchi, Takeshi (Wako-shik, Saitama, JP)
Application Number:
11/457965
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
07/17/2006
Assignee:
HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06N3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LONEY, DONALD J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RANKIN, HILL & CLARK LLP (WILLOUGHBY, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A textured structure for an object surface, comprising: a plurality of first convexities formed on a surface of an object so as to be separated from each other; and a plurality of second convexities formed between the first convexities, wherein the second convexities are smaller in width than the first convexities, and are either equal in height to the first convexities or are smaller in height than the first convexities.

2. The textured structure of claim 1, wherein the second convexities comprise pressure-receiving links that are formed so as to link adjacent first convexities to each other.

3. The textured structure of claim 1, wherein the second convexities comprise island-shaped pressure-receiving parts that are not in contact with the first convexities.

4. The textured structure of claim 1, wherein the first convexities are formed in rows.

5. The textured structure of claim 1, wherein the first convexities are formed so as to have various different shapes and sizes in a plan view.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an improvement in a textured structure composed of fine irregularities formed in the surface of an object.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

One example of a texture obtained by forming irregularities in a surface of an object in order to create a surface pattern is disclosed in JP-A-2003-117940. The plastic molding with a textured pattern in this publication will be described with reference to FIG. 9 hereof.

Furthermore, JP-A-5-51882 discloses a molded sheet in which a leather pattern and sensation are obtained by forming a texture in the surface of an object. This molded sheet is described with reference to FIG. 10 hereof.

A molding 201 shown in FIG. 9, which is obtained by a method for manufacturing a plastic molding with a textured pattern, has a textured pattern 203 molded on a surface layer 202.

In the molded sheet 211 shown in FIG. 10, a texture 213 such as natural leather is molded into a surface layer 212, and a natural leather-like appearance and sensation are created.

However, with the plastic molding 201 having a textured pattern in FIG. 9 and the molded sheet 211 in FIG. 10, the textured pattern 203 or the shape of the texture 213 as such must be modified in order to change the sensation. Changing the textured pattern 203 or the shape of the texture 213 in this manner causes problems in that significant changes are induced in the visual appearance, i.e., design.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a textured structure for an object surface comprising a plurality of first convexities formed on the surface of the object so as to be separated from each other, and a plurality of second convexities formed between the first convexities, wherein the second convexities are smaller in width than the first convexities, and are either equal in height to the first convexities or are smaller in height than the first convexities.

With this arrangement, when one feels the object surface with their fingers, the skin of the fingers between the first convexities comes in contact with the second convexities but does not sink in any further. Accordingly, the surface pressure acting on the fingers is slight and substantially uniform, resulting in a smooth sensation. Furthermore, since the second convexities are equal to or smaller in height than the first convexities, the convexities are inconspicuous and the design changes only minimally, but the sensation to the touch is different. Accordingly, a smooth sensation can be achieved.

Preferably, the second convexities comprise pressure-receiving links that are formed so as to link adjacent first convexities to each other. As a result, the pressure-receiving links and the fingers come in contact over a greater surface area without detracting from the design, and an even smoother sensation can be achieved. Furthermore, the strength of the first convexities is increased because the first convexities are linked together by the pressure-receiving links.

Desirably, the second convexities comprise island-shaped pressure-receiving parts that are not in contact with the first convexities. As a result, the island-shaped pressure-receiving parts can be made even less conspicuous, and the desired surface area of contact with the fingers can be ensured, allowing for a smooth sensation.

The first convexities may be formed in rows.

The first convexities may also be formed so as to have various different shapes and sizes in top plan.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail below, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a sheet having the first textured structure of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of section 2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5A is a schematic view showing a comparative example of a textured structure;

FIG. 5B is a schematic view showing a textured structure according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6A is a schematic view showing a textured structure according to a second embodiment of the present invention, as seen with naked eyes;

FIG. 6B is a view of the second convexities in the second textured structure shown in FIG. 6A, with the convexities exaggerated so as to be visible;

FIG. 7A is a diagram of a third textured structure of the present embodiment as seen with the naked eye;

FIG. 7B is a view of the second convexities in the third textured structure shown in FIG. 7A, with the convexities exaggerated so as to be visible;

FIG. 8A is a diagram of a fourth textured structure of the present embodiment as seen with the naked eye;

FIG. 8B is a view of the second convexities in the fourth textured structure shown in FIG. 8A, with the convexities exaggerated so as to be visible;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a plastic molding with a conventional texture; and

FIG. 10 is a diagram of another conventional molded sheet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A first textured structure 11A shown in FIG. 1 is composed of multiple first convexities 14A formed in the surface 13 of a sheet 12, and second convexities 16A (see FIG. 2) that are formed between the first convexities 14A so as to be smaller in width in a plan view. The letter p indicates the pitch of the first convexities 14A, and the letter F indicates a finger.

The first textured structure 11A is used as a pattern for the interior material of an automobile, such as the interior material of the doors of an automobile, the armrests of the seats, or the instrument panel, for example. Other possible examples for which the textured structure can be used include containers, consumer electronics, and other objects that come into tactile contact when handled.

The material for the sheet 12 is arbitrary, and rubber or a resin can be used, for example.

As shown in FIGS. 2 through 4, the first convexities 14A of the first textured structure 11A are all formed with a diameter D and a height H. The narrow second convexities 16A are formed with a width W and a height h. The diameter D is also the width Wb of the first convexities 14A.

The second convexities 16A include pressure-receiving links 21A that link adjacent first convexities 14A together, pressure-receiving parts 22A each of which is linked to only one first convexity 14A, and island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A that are formed into island shapes and that are separate from and not connected to any first convexities 14A. The combination of these pressure-receiving parts 21A, 22A, 23A is arbitrary.

Specifically, the second convexities 16A may be formed solely by the island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A, the pressure-receiving parts 22A, or the pressure-receiving links 21A.

It is also possible to form pressure-receiving links 21A and pressure-receiving parts 22A; pressure-receiving links 21A and island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A; or pressure-receiving links 21A, pressure-receiving parts 22A, and island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A.

The widths W of the second convexities 16A have a certain tolerance and can be the widths of the pressure-receiving links 21A, the widths of the pressure-receiving parts 22A, or the widths of the island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A. Also, the widths W are smaller than the widths Wb (diameters D) of the first convexities 14A. The widths W can be arbitrarily set within a range that is narrower than the widths Wb of the first convexities 14A.

For example, the widths W of the second convexities 16A may be set small enough (narrow enough) to be undistinguishable to the naked eye. If the widths W are set to be undistinguishable to the naked eye, and if small second convexities 16A are formed as shown in FIG. 2, then the visual appearance of the first textured structure 11A changes only minimally when viewed as in FIG. 1, but the sensation of the texture to the touch is different.

The heights h of the second convexities 16A have a certain tolerance, and are the heights of the pressure-receiving links 21A, the heights of the pressure-receiving parts 22A, or the heights of the island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A. The heights h are smaller than the heights H of the first convexities 14A by a difference of δh, and are set to about 0.5×H.

In the example shown herein, the second convexities 16A are formed to be smaller than the heights H of the first convexities 14A, but the heights h of the second convexities 16A may also be formed to be equal to the heights H of the first convexities 14A. In other words, the heights h of the second convexities 16A may be such that h=H.

The first textured structure 11A can be produced by any method, such as shaping a surface by etching, or performing embossing, injection molding, or blow molding, for example.

Next, the state of the first textured structure when in tactile contact will be described.

In FIG. 5A, when a regular textured structure 222 is touched with the finger F, the skin of the finger F sinks in to a depth G between a convexity 221 and an adjacent convexity 221, and the surface pressure p1 that acts on the finger F increases. As a result, the normal textured structure 222 has a rough and dry sensation.

In the first textured structure 11A in FIG. 5B, when the second convexities 16A are formed between the first convexities 14A and are touched with the finger F, the skin of the finger F positioned between the first convexities 14A presses on the second convexities 16A and does not sink in between the first convexities 14A, and the surface pressure p2 acting on the finger F is low, resulting in a substantially uniform surface pressure p2. Therefore, the first textured structure 11A has a smooth sensation.

The second convexities 16A have widths W (see FIGS. 2 and 3) and heights h, but are much smaller than the first convexities 14A and are inconspicuous. As a result, the design changes only minimally, but the sensation to the touch is different. Specifically, the pressure-receiving links 21A result in a greater surface area of contact with the finger F, allowing an even smoother sensation to be achieved.

The presence of the island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23A makes it possible for the second convexities 16A to be even less conspicuous, ensuring the desired surface area of contact with the finger F and allowing for a smooth sensation.

Thus, the first textured structure 11A has first convexities 14A formed on the surface 13 of a sheet (object) 12. Second convexities 16A positioned between the first convexities 14A are formed to be smaller in width W than the widths Wb (diameters D) of the first convexities 14A, and smaller in height h than the heights H of the first convexities 14A. The second convexities 16A are therefore inconspicuous. Accordingly, the design of the first textured structure 11A changes only minimally, but the sensation to the touch is different from that of a textured structure composed only of first convexities, and a smooth sensation can be achieved.

Forming the second convexities 16A with pressure-receiving links 21A makes it possible to link the first convexities 14A together, which improves the strength of the first convexities 14A.

An example was described in which the heights h of the second convexities 16A were about 0.5×H in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, but any height within a range can be selected as long as the range is h≦H. Smaller heights h result in a rougher, drier sensation, and greater heights h result in a smoother sensation. An even smother sensation can be achieved if the heights h are greater than 0.5×H. In other words, if the heights h of the second convexities 16A are equal to the heights H, then the design changes only minimally, but an even smoother sensation can be achieved.

Next, the second textured structure will be described with reference to FIGS. 6A and 6B.

Configurations similar to those of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 through 4 use the same numerical symbols, and descriptions thereof are omitted.

The second textured structure 11B shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B has first convexities 14B formed in the surface 13 of a sheet 12 in a leather-like pattern, and narrow second convexities 16B formed between the first convexities 14B.

The first convexities 14B have cloud shapes. Their heights are H. The gaps between the first convexities 14B are set appropriately.

The second convexities 16B are formed only from pressure-receiving links 21B.

The second textured structure 11B has a leather-like pattern that is different from the pattern of the first textured structure 11A but produces the same effects as those of the first textured structure 11A. In the second textured structure 11B, forming the second convexities 16B provides the first convexities 14B with the same appearance but results in a different sensation.

Next, a third textured structure will be described with reference to FIGS. 7A and 7B.

Configurations similar to those of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 through 4 use the same numerical symbols, and descriptions thereof are omitted.

The third textured structure 11C shown in FIGS. 7A and 7B is formed using a molded surface obtained by etching, and has first convexities 14C formed in a leather-like pattern in the surface 13 of a sheet 12, and narrow second convexities 16C formed between the first convexities 14C.

The first convexities 14C have cloud shapes. Their heights are H. The gaps between the first convexities 14C are set appropriately.

The second convexities 16C include pressure-receiving links 21C, pressure-receiving parts 22C that are linked to the first convexities 14C at one end, and pressure-receiving parts 23C that are formed into island shapes.

The third textured structure 11C has a leather-like pattern that is different from the pattern of the first textured structure 11A but produces the same effects as those of the first textured structure 11A. In the third textured structure 11C, forming the second convexities 16C provides the first convexities 14C with the same appearance but results in a different sensation.

In the third textured structure 11C, fine irregularities are formed in the surface of the first convexities 14C, which provides a coarse sensation to the first convexities 14C themselves.

Next, a fourth textured structure will be described with reference to FIGS. 8A and 8B.

Configurations similar to those of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 through 4 use the same numerical symbols, and descriptions thereof are omitted.

The fourth textured structure 11D shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B has first convexities 14D formed in the surface 13 of a sheet 12, and narrow second convexities 16D formed between the first convexities 14D.

The first convexities 14D have star shapes. Their heights are H. The gaps between the first convexities 14D are set appropriately.

The second convexities 16D include pressure-receiving links 21D, pressure-receiving parts 22D that are linked to the first convexities 14D at one end, and island-shaped pressure-receiving parts 23D that are formed into island shapes.

The fourth textured structure 11D has a different pattern than the first textured structure 11A but produces the same effects as those of the first textured structure 11A.

The textured structures of the present embodiments were formed on sheets in these examples, but they may also be used on panels, cylinders, and molded articles. Examples were described in which the shapes of the first convexities were circles, cloud shapes, fine irregularities formed into the convex surfaces, and star shapes, such as in the first through fourth textured structures, but in the present invention, the shapes are not limited to those in these embodiments, and any shapes may be used.

The first through fourth textured structures may be manufactured by any method, including etching, embossing, or lasers.

The textured structure of the present invention is suitable for the interiors of automobiles, trains, and other vehicles, and for containers, consumer electronics, and other objects that come into tactile contact when handled.

Obviously, various minor changes and modifications of the present invention are possible in light of the above teaching. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.