Title:
Laminate door stiffener with clip inserts
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A laminate door stiffener apparatus includes a first layer having a body panel attachment side and an opposing first laminate connection side, and a second layer having a second laminate connecting side and an opposing perforated side with a perforation formed therein. The apparatus further includes a clip interposed within the perforation. The clip selectively supports an operable device. The first layer is selectively connected to a body panel.



Inventors:
Dunn, Joseph R. (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/330985
Publication Date:
07/19/2007
Filing Date:
01/12/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C2/32
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MORROW, JASON S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLOBAL IP COUNSELORS, LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A laminate panel stiffener apparatus comprising: a first layer having a body panel attachment side and an opposing first laminate connection side; a second layer having a second laminate connecting side and an opposing perforated side with a perforation formed therein; and a clip having a first attachment portion and a second attachment portion, wherein at least a portion of the first attachment portion is selectively interposed within the perforation, the clip selectively supports an operative component of the vehicle, and the first layer is selectively connected to a body panel.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the clip includes a first attachment portion and a second attachment portion, and the second layer attaches the second attachment portion to the first layer.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body panel attachment side is selectively attached to a vehicle body panel.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the first layer is a composite material.

5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the at least a portion of the first layer is a fiberglass material.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first attachment portion includes an aperture.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the clip is formed of a plastic.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an adhesive selectively interposed, at least partially, between the first laminate layer and the body panel.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the adhesive is cured by the application of at least heat.

10. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising a backing selectively removably attached to the adhesive, wherein the adhesive is selectively interposed between the backing and the first laminate layer.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a second clip selectively interposed between the second laminate layer and the body panel.

12. A combination hanger and stiffening apparatus comprising: a stiffening layer selectively coupled to a vehicle body panel; and a hanger coupled directly to the stiffening layer.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a second stiffening layer selectively coupled to the stiffening layer and having a perforation formed therein, wherein at least a portion of the hanger is interposed within the perforation, and at least a portion of the hanger is interposed between the stiffening layer and the second stiffening layer.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising an adhesive interposed between the stiffening layer and the vehicle body panel, wherein the adhesive is selectively heat cured to structurally stiffen the vehicle body panel.

15. A method of stiffening a body panel of a vehicle while providing an attachment hanger comprising the steps of: adhering a first laminate layer to the body panel with a first adhesive; adhering at least a portion of a second laminate layer to at least a portion of the first laminate layer with a second adhesive; and interposing a portion of a clip between the body panel and the second laminate layer, wherein the first laminate layer and the second laminate layer form at least a portion of a laminate structure.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of positioning at least a portion of the clip between the first laminate layer and the second laminate layer.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of forming a perforation in the second laminate layer.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of interposing a portion of the clip in the perforation.

19. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of interposing an adhesive between the first laminate layer and the body panel.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of heat curing the adhesive.

21. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of uncoupling a backing from the adhesive.

22. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of coupling a second clip to the laminate structure.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The technical field relates generally to body panel stiffeners, and more specifically to laminate body panel stiffeners with attachments.

BACKGROUND

Consumer demand has driven the production of vehicles that afford lighter components and less expensive assembly methods while maintaining the capabilities of a vehicle. Lighter vehicles typically achieve greater fuel economy. When vehicle weight is reduced by including less material, a cost savings may be realized. In meeting this demand, body panels for vehicles have been made thinner, and thus lighter, to reduce weight and material costs.

Thinner body panels, such as door panels, may be susceptible to deformation or warping in their central portions due to reduced structural stiffness. Typically, a door stiffener may be attached to the interior surface of a body panel, such as the outer skin of a door, a hood, fender, quarter panel, trunk lid, or tailgate, in order to increase structural stiffness. Laminate panel stiffeners made of layers of fiberglass and a heat curable adhesive can increase the structural stiffness of a body panel to an acceptable level.

In areas of a vehicle adjacent to the interior surfaces of body panels, attachment clips are typically used to secure wiring harnesses, hoses, cables, and various other operable components of a vehicle. Typically, these clips are constructed of fiberglass, plastic or metal and are secured to the interior portions of body panels with a fastener, such as a screw, a rivet, or a weld bead.

While these panel stiffeners and hangers perform adequately for their intended purposes, automobile assembly is an area of continual innovation to provide components that are lighter, less expensive, and easier to assemble.

SUMMARY

One embodiment of a laminate door stiffener apparatus includes a first layer having a body panel attachment side and an opposing first laminate connection side, and a second layer having a second laminate connecting side and an opposing perforated side with a perforation formed therein. The apparatus further includes a clip interposed within the perforation. The clip selectively supports an operable device. The first layer is selectively connected to a body panel.

In a further embodiment, a combination hanger and stiffening apparatus includes a stiffening layer selectively coupled to a vehicle body panel and a hanger coupled directly to the stiffening layer.

In still another embodiment, a method of stiffening a body panel of a vehicle while providing an attachment hanger includes adhering a first laminate layer to the body panel with a first adhesive, and adhering at least a portion of a second laminate layer to at least a portion of the first laminate layer with a second adhesive. The method further includes interposing a portion of a clip between the body panel and the second laminate layer. The first laminate layer and the second laminate layer form at least a portion of a laminate structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a body panel.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a panel stiffener.

FIG. 3 is an exploded bottom plan view of the stiffener of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the stiffener of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the stiffener of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of a panel stiffener.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a portion of a door panel 20. The door panel 20 includes a central portion 22, an inner side 24, an outer side 26, and a formed peripheral edge 28. The door panel 20 generally has a consistent thickness between the inner side 24 and the outer side 26. The central portion 22 may be curved in portions and generally flat in other portions. For larger panels, the central portion 22 may be desirably stiffened to increase the resistance of the body panel to flexure. In the embodiment illustrated, a stiffener 30 is attached to the central portion 22.

Referring to FIGS. 2-6, the stiffener 30 includes a first layer 32, a second layer 34, and a clip 40. First layer 32 includes a body panel attachment side 42, an opposing first laminate connection side 44, and a first peripheral edge 46. The second layer 34 includes a second laminate connecting side 52, an opposing perforated side 54, a second peripheral edge 56, and a perforation 60 formed therein.

The clip 40 includes a first attachment portion 70 and a second attachment portion 72 with an aperture 74 formed therein. The first attachment portion 70 includes a generally planar body 80 having a clip peripheral edge 82, a first clip attachment side 84, and a second clip attachment side 86. In the embodiment illustrated, the aperture 74 of the second attachment portion 72 may be coupled to an operable component of a vehicle (not shown).

As best seen in FIG. 3, an adhesive (not numbered) is preferably layered on the body panel attachment side 42 and the second laminate connecting side 52. A backing 90 may be removably attached to the adhesive, as discussed in greater detail below. In the embodiment illustrated, the first clip attachment side 84 and the second laminate connection side 52 have an adhesive with an appropriately sized portion of backing 90 covering the adhesive to protect the adhesive prior to use.

The material choices for the first layer 32 and the second layer 34 are fairly broad. Such choices may include fiberglass or other composite materials that form a rigid structure. The material choices for the clip 40 include plastic, rubber metal, alloys, and fiberglass and other known composites.

One method of manufacturing the stiffener 30 is as follows. A desired area of a body panel, such as body panel 20, is prepared. A first layer, such as the first layer 32, is obtained and the backing 90 is removed from the body panel attachment side 42. The first layer 32 is then attached to a desired portion of the inner side 24 of body panel 20. A clip, such as clip 40 is interposed through the aperture 60 of a second layer, such as the second layer 34. The backing 90 is removed from the second laminate connecting side 52. The second laminate connecting side 52 of the second layer 34 is then coupled to the first laminate connecting side 44 of the first layer 32 as the first attachment portion 70 is coupled therebetween. When the vehicle body, or at least the body panel 20 is heat cured, and the adhesives used to form the stiffener 30 thereby rigidify, providing a body panel stiffener with an integral hanger, or clip 40, including fewer parts than those of a conventional stiffener and clip. Typically, a vehicle body is heat cured at temperatures exceeding 300° F. for several hours after a desired stage of assembly.

As mentioned above, an adhesive may be interposed between the first clip attachment side 84 and the first laminate connection side 44. Adhesives used in the stiffener 30 are not limited to adhesives calling for a backing 90, such as peel and stick adhesives, but may include other adhesives. In the embodiments illustrated, adhesives applied to sides 42, 52, 84 are distributed evenly over the entire surface.

In another method, the second layer 34 may be attached to the first layer 32 prior to attaching the first layer 32 to the body panel 20. Additional layers may be built up to form a stiffener, such as the stiffener 30, prior to, after, or during the step of coupling the first layer 32 to the body panel 20.

FIG. 7 illustrates an embodiment of the stiffener 30 as a stiffener 130. Stiffener 130 includes a first layer 132, a second layer 134, and a clip 140. First layer 132 includes a body panel attachment side 142, an opposing first laminate connection side 144, and a first peripheral edge 146. The second layer 134 includes a second laminate connecting side 152, an opposing perforated side 154, a second peripheral edge 156, and a plurality of perforations 160, 260 formed therein.

The clip 140 includes a first attachment portion 170 and a second attachment portion 172 with an aperture 174 formed therein. The first attachment portion 170 includes a generally planar body 180 having an outer clip peripheral edge 182, a first clip attachment side 184, a second clip attachment side 186, and an inner clip peripheral edge 188 defining an aperture 194. In the embodiment illustrated, the aperture 174 of the second attachment portion 172 may be coupled to an operable component of a vehicle (not shown).

The stiffener 130 is assembled in similar fashion to assembly of the stiffener 30, as described above. During the assembly of stiffener 130, the second laminate connecting side 152 of the second layer 134 is coupled to the first laminate connecting side 144 of the first layer 132 through the aperture 194.

The clip 240 includes a first attachment portion 270 and a second attachment portion 272 with a coupling surface 274 formed thereon. The first attachment portion 270 includes a generally planar body 280 having an outer clip peripheral edge 282, a first clip attachment side 284, and a second clip attachment side 286. In the embodiment illustrated, the coupling surface 274 of the second attachment portion 272 may be coupled to an operable component of a vehicle (not shown).

The clip 340 includes a first attachment portion 370 and a second attachment portion 372 with a coupling surface 374 formed therein. The first attachment portion 370 includes a generally planar body 380 having an outer clip peripheral edge 382, a first clip attachment side 384, a second clip attachment side 386, and an inner clip peripheral edge 388 defining an aperture 394.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7 the coupling surface 374 of the second attachment portion 372 may be bindingly coupled to an operable component of a vehicle (not shown). As illustrated, the first attachment portion 370 is interposed between the first layer 132 and the body panel 20.

In the embodiments illustrated, two laminate layers are shown. However, the stiffeners 30, 130 may include any number of laminate layers. Specifically, an exemplary stiffener may have one layer, such as the second layer 34, without any other layers, and accordingly, be laminate only in respect to the layer and the adhesive, although the layer and the adhesive may have a relatively undefined border due to cross-linking of materials. Moreover, the layers of an exemplary stiffener need not cover the same area, as generally depicted. Specifically, a layer, such as the first layer 32, may be slightly larger than a portion of a clip, such as the first clip attachment side 84, in order to provide a stiffener layer, such as the second layer 34, that operates generally as described herein.

Additionally, the layers, such as first layer 32 and/or the second layer 34, may have a surface, such as an uncured resin surface, that will bond to an adjacent surface as a result of heat curing, or any other conventional attachment processes, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for a separate adhesive layer.

2 While the first clip attachment side 84, 184, 284, 384 is described as having an adhesive and backing attached thereto, the first clip attachment side 84, 184, 284, 384 may not have any adhesive, or may bond during heat curing of the body panel 20. Additionally, the clip 40, 140, 240, 340 may be constructed of a material that undergoes a physical transformation during heat curing and bonds to adjacent components during cool down.

3 The preceding description has been presented only to illustrate and describe exemplary embodiments of the methods and systems of the present invention. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to any precise form disclosed. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the claims. The invention may be practiced otherwise than is specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope. The scope of the invention is limited solely by the following claims.