Title:
Storage structure for vehicle cabin interior
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage structure is configured that can be assembled more easily. The storage structure is provided with a lid capable of being opened and closed. The lid is configured to swing about a swing axis from an opened state to a closed state. The lid has a center of gravity located on a far portion of the lid relative to the swing axis such that swinging movement of the lid to the opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the lid itself relative to the swing axis. Thus, the lid swings from the closed state to the opened state with the center of gravity of the lid having being vertically disposed below the swing axis when the lid is in the closed state.



Inventors:
Ebihara, Tsukasa (Hiratsuka-shi, JP)
Inoue, Masahisa (Hiratsuka-shi, JP)
Katagami, Hiroshi (Gyoda-shi, JP)
Application Number:
11/710442
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
02/26/2007
Assignee:
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Yokohama, JP)
Calsonic Kansei Corporation (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D79/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDWARDS, BRETT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLOBAL IP COUNSELORS, LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A storage structure comprising: a lid support; and a lid coupled to the lid support to selectively move between a fully opened state and a fully closed state about a swing axis, the lid including a first portion disposed on a first side of the swing axis when the lid is in the fully closed state relative to the lid support and a second portion disposed on a second side of the swing axis when in the lid is in the fully closed state relative to the lid support, the lid having a center of gravity located on the first portion of the lid such that swinging movement of the lid to the fully opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the lid itself relative to the swing axis.

2. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the first portion is located at a far side of the swing axis and the second portion of the lid is located at near side of the swing axis.

3. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the center of gravity of the lid is positioned higher than the swing axis when the lid is in the fully closed state relative to the lid support.

4. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the first portion of the lid includes a reinforcing structure disposed in a region located on the first side of the swing axis when the lid is in the fully closed state.

5. The storage structure as recited in claim 4, wherein the reinforcing structure comprises at least one rib.

6. The storage case as recited in claim 1, wherein the first portion of the lid is thicker in a vicinity of the center of gravity of the lid than other portions of the lid that are spaced from the center of gravity of the lid.

7. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, further comprising a stopper made of an elastic material arranged to support the lid at a fully opened position; and a buffer member arranged to contact the lid before the lid reaches the fully opened position when the lid is opened and to dampen the movement of the lid as the lid swings toward the fully opened position.

8. The storage structure as recited in claim 7, wherein the buffer member includes a foamed body.

9. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, further comprising a force applying device arranged to apply a force against the lid in an opening direction.

10. The storage structure as recited in claim 9, wherein the force applying device is configured and arranged to apply a force against the lid in the opening direction when the lid is positioned within a swinging range of movement that spans from the fully closed position to a prescribed opening position occurring before the fully opened position.

11. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the lid support includes a recessed storage section defining an access opening and an arm receiving opening formed in the recessed storage section; and the lid includes an arm swingably supported to the lid support with the arm being configured and arranged to extend into the recessed storage section through the arm receiving opening of the lid support, the arm having a blocking piece configured and arranged to cover a portion of the arm receiving opening that is exposed through the access opening when the lid is in the fully opened position.

12. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the lid support includes a tongue piece; and the lid includes a protrusion configured and arranged to contact and elastically flex the tongue piece of the lid support when the lid is being opened.

13. The storage structure as recited in claim 1, wherein the lid support and the lid include mating locking arrangements that are configured and arranged to hold the lid in the fully closed state.

14. A storage structure comprising: storage means for forming a storage area of an article; and covering means for selectively covering an access opening of the storage means by selectively swinging between a fully opened state and a fully closed state about a swing axis in which the covering means has a center of gravity located on a portion on a far side of the swing axis when the covering means is in the fully closed state such that swinging movement of the covering means to the fully opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the covering means itself relative to the swing axis.

15. A lid opening method for a storage structure comprising: providing a storage area of an article; providing a lid for covering an access opening of the storage area; and selectively swinging the lid from a fully opened state to a fully closed state about a swing axis in which the closing means has a center of gravity located on a portion of the lid on a far side of the swing axis when the lid is in the fully closed state such that swinging movement of the lid to the fully opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the lid itself relative to the swing axis.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Japanese Patent Application Nos. 2006-053180, filed on Feb. 28, 2006 and 2006-293012, filed on Oct. 27, 2006. The entire disclosure of Japanese Patent Application Nos. 2006-053180 and 2006-293012 are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to a storage case. More specifically, the present invention relates to a storage structure configured to be arranged in an interior of a vehicle cabin, with the storage structure having a lid that can be opened and closed.

2. Background Information

Storage cases used to store small objects or to serve as cup holders are often provided inside the cabins (passenger compartments) of vehicles. Some such storage cases are provided with a lid (cover) that can be opened and closed. Among the lidded storage cases, some are configured with a lid that move independently to a fully opened state after only being slightly opened, while others are configured such that after pushing down on the lid, the lid then automatically moves to the opened state (see Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2004-224114).

In view of the above, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that there exists a need for an improved storage structure. This invention addresses this need in the art as well as other needs, which will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These kinds of storage case lids that were just described use a spring to apply a force against the lid in an opening direction during opening and closing of the lid. Theses springs are typically configured to load the lid across the entire range of motion from the closed state to the opened state. Thus, the spring of these lids has a strong spring force, which tends to make it difficult to assemble theses types of lids to the storage cases.

One object of the present invention is to provide a storage structure that can be assembled more easily.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a storage structure is provided that basically comprises a lid support, and a lid. The lid is coupled to the lid support to selectively move between a fully opened state and a fully closed state about a swing axis. The lid includes a first portion disposed on a first side of the swing axis when the lid is in the fully closed state relative to the lid support and a second portion disposed on a second side of the swing axis when in the lid is in the fully closed state relative to the lid support. The lid has a center of gravity located on the first portion of the lid such that swinging movement of the lid to the fully opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the lid itself relative to the swing axis.

These and other objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses preferred embodiments of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the attached drawings which form a part of this original disclosure:

FIG. 1 is an external perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention with the lid thereof in a closed state;

FIG. 2 is an external perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention with the lid thereof in an opened state;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention with the lid thereof in an opened state;

FIG. 4 is a partial vertical cross sectional view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention with the lid in a closed state;

FIG. 5 is a partial vertical cross sectional view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention with lid at the position corresponding to the limit of the force applying device's ability to apply a force to the lid in an opening direction;

FIG. 6 is a partial vertical cross sectional view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention showing the lid in a state in which it is touching against a buffer member and a state in which it is touching against a stopper (fully opened);

FIG. 7 is a partial enlarged perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention showing the portion where the force applying device is provided;

FIG. 8 is a partial enlarged perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the first embodiment showing an opening provided in the casing unit and a blocking piece provided on an arm of the vehicle cabin interior storage structure;

FIG. 9 is a partial enlarged perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with a second embodiment showing an opening provided in the casing unit and a blocking piece provided on an arm of the vehicle cabin interior storage structure; and

FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view showing a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in accordance with the second embodiment from the same perspective as the view shown FIG. 7 (from the side and underneath).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Selected embodiments of the present invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the following descriptions of the embodiments of the present invention are provided for illustration only and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in the form of a storage case is illustrated in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. A vehicle cabin interior storage case in accordance with this embodiment is configured to be arranged on a lower portion of a center console inside the cabin of a vehicle (in front of a floor shift lever). The storage case is also configured such that it can be used as a cup holder. FIG. 1 is an external perspective view of a vehicle cabin interior storage case in accordance with this embodiment while the lid is in a fully closed state. FIG. 2 is an external perspective view of the vehicle cabin interior storage case with the lid in a fully opened state. FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the vehicle cabin interior storage case with the lid 1 in the fully opened state. FIG. 4 is a vertical cross sectional view of the vehicle cabin interior storage case with the lid 1 in the fully closed state.

The lid 1 has a pair of arms 2L and 2R located at opposite ends. The lid 1 wit with the arms 2L and is preferably a one-piece unitary member constructed from a rigid material with a limited degree of flexibility such as a rigid plastic material. The lid 1 is pivotally or swingable mounted to a lid support or casing unit 3 that is secured to the interior of the vehicle cabin in a conventional manner. Thus, the lid is coupled to the lid support or casing unit 3 to selectively move between an opened state and a closed state about a swing axis O (FIG. 4).

Although only one arm 2R is shown in FIGS. 1 to 3, another arm 2L is provided on the far side from the perspective of FIGS. 5 to 7. FIG. 5 is a partial vertical cross sectional view of the vehicle cabin interior storage case with the lid 1 at the position corresponding to the limit of the force applying device's ability to apply a force to the lid 1 in an opening direction. FIG. 6 is a partial vertical cross sectional view of the vehicle cabin interior storage case showing the lid 1 in a state in which it is touching against a buffer member and a state in which it is touching against a stopper (fully opened). FIG. 7 is a partial enlarged perspective view of the portion of the vehicle cabin interior storage case where the force applying device is provided. FIG. 8 is a partial enlarged perspective view of an opening provided in a casing unit and a blocking piece provided on an arm of the vehicle cabin interior storage case.

The arm 2R is provided with a locking claw 2a and a blocking piece 2b. The other arm 2L is provided with neither the locking claw 2a nor the blocking piece 2b. Furthermore, the other arm 2L is not provided with an arm portion corresponding to the arm portion of the arm 2R that extends to the lock claw 2a. As shown in FIG. 7, a spring 5 is provided on the side of the lid 1 where the arm 2L is located. The spring 5 serves as a force applying device applying a force against the lid 1 in an opening direction (i.e., in such a direction that the force acts to move the lid 1 toward an opened state). As shown in FIG. 1, a spring is not provided on the side of the lid 1 where the arm 2R is located. The arms 2L and 2R are mounted to the casing unit 3 in such a manner that the lid 1 can swing about the swing axis O (FIG. 4). A portion of the arm 2R is exposed inside the casing unit 3 even when the lid 1 is open due to design layout factors.

As shown in FIG. 4, the lid 1 can be basically divided into a first lid portion T disposed on a first or far side of the swing axis O when the lid 1 is in the closed state relative to the lid support, and a second lid portion disposed on a second or near side of the swing axis O when in the lid 1 is in the closed state relative to the lid support. The lid 1 has a center of gravity G located on the first portion T of the lid 1 such that swinging movement of the lid 1 to the opened state occurs due to a weight distribution of the lid 1 itself relative to the swing axis O. Thus, the center of gravity G (including the arms 2L and 2R of the lid 1) of the lid 1 is positioned higher than the swing axis O and on the far side of (i.e., in direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 4 with respect to) the swing axis O when the lid 1 is closed. “The far side of the swing axis O” refers to the opposite side of the casing unit 3 from which the passenger operates the lid 1, with respect to the swing axis O. Thus, “the near side of the swing axis O” refers to the side of the casing unit 3 from which the passenger operates the lid 1, with respect to the swing axis O. As shown in FIG. 4, the thickness of the lid 1 is thicker in the first lid portion T near the center of gravity G, which is located on the far side of the swing axis O when the lid is closed, than in other regions (i.e., the second lid portion). Also, as shown in FIG. 1, the first lid portion T of the lid 1 includes a plurality of internal ribs 1a. The internal ribs 1a serve as reinforcing members. The internal ribs la are provided inside the lid 1 (i.e., on the back side of an upper shell) in a region centering on the first lid portion T. The distribution of the thickness of the lid 1 and the placement of the ribs 1a contributes to establishing the center of gravity G at a position located higher than and on the far side of the swing axis O. In other words, the center of gravity G of the lid 1 is positioned on a far side of the swing axis O when the lid 1 is in the fully closed state. As a result, a rotational moment can be exerted against the lid 1 in the opening direction due to the weight of the lid 1 itself. Therefore, the elastic force of the force applying device used to apply a swinging (pivotal) force in the opening direction can be weakened or the force applying device can be eliminated altogether. As a result, a vehicle cabin interior storage structure that is easier to assemble can be obtained.

Additionally, the first lid portion T in which the thickness of the lid 1 is larger and the internal ribs 1 a are provided corresponds to the region between the portions where the two arms 2L and 2R connected. Since this embodiment is configured such that the lid 1 is supported at both ends by the two arms 2L and 2R, reinforcing the first lid portion T also helps improve the strength and rigidity of the lid 1.

Meanwhile, as shown in FIG. 3, the casing unit 3 has a recessed storage section 3a that is formed below the lid 1 when the lid 1 is closed. The recessed storage section defines an access opening that is covered by the lid 1. An inner holder 4 is held in the recessed storage section 3a. The inner holder 4 has a thin-walled structure and is generally shaped like a cylinder. The inner holder 4 has a shape well suited for use as a cup holder for holding drink cans and bottles, but it can also be used to hold small articles.

As shown in FIG. 2, a rubber protrusion 3b is attached to the casing unit 3 at a position where a tip end portion of the lid 1 meets the case 3. The rubber protrusion 3b elastically deforms when the lid 1 is closed and serves to prevent the lid 1 from being loose (rattling) when it is in a closed (locked) state.

The casing unit 3 includes a plurality (four).of fastening parts 3c for fastening the casing unit 3 to the vehicle interior. The fastening parts 3c are formed on the outside surface of the casing unit 3. As shown in FIGS. 1 to 3, a locking striker 3d is formed on the casing unit 3 to engage with the locking claw 2a of the arm 2R when the lid 1 is fully closed. Preferably, the locking striker 3d is provided on a lower side portion of the casing unit 3 in a position more toward the close side of the casing unit 3 than the far side. The locking claw 2a and the locking striker 3 are shown in the engaged state in FIG. 1. The locked state is achieved when the locking claw 2a is pushed inward toward the locking striker 3d, and the locked state is released by pushing the locking claw 2a inward toward the locking striker 3d again. Thus, the lid 1 and the casing unit 3 has mating locking arrangements that are configured and arranged to hold the lid 1 in the fully closed state. In particular, the locking claw 2a and the locking striker 3 form the mating locking arrangements with the locking striker 3d functioning as a locking member to hold the lid 1 in the fully closed state.

The lid 1 is spring loaded in an opening direction by the spring 5, which serves as a force applying device. As shown in FIG. 7, the spring 5 is wound around a support shaft 2d of the arm 2L. One end portion 5a thereof is wound around a generally cylindrical protrusion 3g provided on a side wall of the casing unit 3 and the other end portion 5b is inserted into an engaging hole 2e provided in the arm 2L. Thus, the end portion 5a secured to the generally cylindrical protrusion 3g provided on a side wall of the casing unit 3 and the other end portion 5b is secured to the arm 2L.

The spring 5 is installed such that it spring loads the lid 1 in an opening direction (counterclockwise in FIG. 5) with respect to the casing unit 3. In this embodiment, the spring force of the spring 5 acts on the lid 1 in an opening direction (direction indicated by the arc-shaped arrow in FIG. 5) when the lid 1 is in any position ranging from the fully closed position P1 (FIG. 4) to a prescribed position P2 (position where spring 5 enters a free, unloaded state as seen in FIG. 5). The prescribed position P2 is reached prior to the fully open position P4 when the lid 1 swings toward the fully open position P4. When the lid 1 is in any position beyond (i.e., more open than) the position P2, the spring 5 applies a spring-load force against the lid 1 in a closing direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 5, i.e., the opposite direction as the arc-shaped arrow).

As shown in FIG. 6, the casing unit 3 includes a lid storage section 3h having a vertical wall 3i. A stopper 6 made of a rubber or other elastic material is provided on the vertical wall 3i to support the lid 1 when the lid is in the fully opened position P4. A foamed body 7 serving as a buffer member is also provided on the vertical wall 3i. The foamed body 7 is arranged to contact the lid 1 at a position P3 that is reached before the lid 1 reaches the fully opened position P4 when the lid 1 is opened and configured to dampen the movement of the lid 1 as the lid 1 swings toward the fully opened position P4. The foamed body 7 can be, for example, a rectangular sponge made of a urethane material that compresses when the lid 1 is in the fully opened position and expands back to its original shape when in the fully closed position. In this embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the foamed body 7 is affixed to the casing unit 3 with an adhesive or the like in such a position that foamed body 7 is hidden by the inner holder 4.

As shown in FIG. 8, the casing unit 3 is provided with an arm receiving opening 3f for avoiding contact with the arm 2R when the lid 1 is opened and closed. The recessed storage section that defines the access opening and an arm receiving opening formed in the recessed storage section. The arm 2R is swingably supported to the lid support or casing unit 3 with the arm 2R being configured and arranged to extend into the recessed storage section through the arm receiving opening 3f of the lid support or casing unit 3. The receiving opening 3f is provided in the casing unit 3 in the vicinity of the arm 2R. The portion indicated as X in FIGS. 3 and 8 passes through the receiving opening 3f when the lid 1 is opened and closed. Each of the two arms 2L and 2R is perpendicular to the swing axis O of the lid 1 but the side wall of the casing unit 3 are curved. Thus, without the receiving opening 3f, the arm 2R would hit the side wall of the casing unit 3 and it would not be possible to open and close the lid 1. Providing the receiving opening 3f enables the lid 1 to be opened and closed smoothly without interference from the casing unit 3.

However, the appearance of the interior of the casing unit 3 would seem odd if the receiving opening 3f were the only hole visible when the lid 1 was opened and, furthermore, the appearance would be degraded if the back side of the casing unit 3 were visible through the arm receiving opening 3f. Furthermore, small articles might fall through the opening 3f into the back side of the casing unit 3 and dust and dirt might enter into the region on the back side of the casing unit 3. In this embodiment, the arm 2R has a blocking piece 2b, as shown in FIG. 1, and the blocking piece 2b blocks the opening 3f when the lid 1 is in the fully opened position (P4, FIG. 6), as shown in FIG. 8. In other words, the blocking piece 2b is configured and arranged to cover a portion of the arm receiving opening 3f that is exposed through the access opening when the lid 1 is in the fully opened position. The blocking piece 2b is made to be thinner than the overall thickness of the arm 2R and it does not touch the casing unit 3 when the lid 1 opened and closed.

The operation of opening the lid 1 of the vehicle cabin interior storage case will now be explained. When the case is in the closed state shown in FIG. 1 and 4, the lid I is opened by pressing the tip end portion of the lid 1 downward. The rubber protrusion 3b (FIG. 2) is squashed downward and the locking claw 2a is pressed inward toward the locking striker 3d, thus causing the locked state to be released. Once the locked state is released, the lid 1 begins to swing open due to a rotational moment generated in the opening direction against the lid 1 due to the spring force of the spring 5 in the opening direction and the weight of the lid 1. At the same time, the elastic recovery force of the rubber protrusion 3b also assists in moving the lid 1 in the recovery direction.

Although the spring force of the spring 5 stops acting against the lid 1 in the opening direction at the position P2 (position corresponding to the limit of the spring force in the opening direction), the weight of the lid 1 itself causes the lid 1 to continue the swing movement in opposition to a spring force of the spring 5 acting in the closing direction until the lid 1 reaches the fully open position P4 shown in FIG. 6.

When the lid 1 reaches the position P3 indicated with a solid-line sketch in FIG. 6, the swing speed thereof is reduced due to the damping action of the foamed body 7. The fully opened position P4 indicated with a double-dot chain line sketch in FIG. 6 is determined by contact with the stopper 6. When the lid 1 is in the fully opened position P4, it is pressing against the foamed body 7 such that the foamed body 7 is in a squashed state.

In the fully opened state P4 shown in FIG. 6, the center of gravity G of the lid 1 is positioned lower than the swing axis O. Consequently, the force of gravity holds the lid 1 in the fully opened state more stably.

When the lid 1 is to be closed, the tip end of the lid 1 is lowered in the closing direction until the tip end of the lid 1 presses against the rubber protrusion 3b. The locking claw 2a thus engages with the locking striker and the lid 1 is locked in the closed state. The rubber protrusion 3b remains in a somewhat squashed state, thus preventing looseness (e.g., rattling) of the lid 1 while it is in the closed state.

As described previously, the casing unit 3 has the receiving opening 3f that serves to prevent contact with the arm 2R when the arm 2R swings and the arm 2R had a blocking piece 2b that serves to block the opening 3f when the lid 1 is fully opened. Thus, the opening and closing movement of the lid 1 is not inhibited and the aesthetic appearance of the casing unit 3 is not degraded due to exposure of the receiving opening 3f when the lid 1 is fully opened.

With this embodiment, since the center of gravity G of the lid 1 is positioned on the far side of the swing axis O when the lid 1 is closed, a rotational moment acting in the opening direction can be exerted against the lid 1 due to the weight of the lid 1 itself. Consequently, the force applying device used to apply a swinging force against the lid 1 in the opening direction can be reduced in size or eliminated altogether. As a result, the vehicle cabin interior storage case that is easier to assemble can be obtained.

In this embodiment, the center of gravity G of the lid 1 is positioned higher than the swing axis O when the lid 1 is closed. Consequently, the range of motion through which the lid 1 (i.e., the center of gravity G thereof) moves due to its own weight from the fully closed position P1 to the fully open position P4 can be increased. As a result, the force applying device used to apply a swinging force against the lid 1 in the opening direction can be reduced in size or eliminated altogether.

In this embodiment, the ribs 1 a serving as a reinforcing structure are provided inside the lid 1 in the first lid portion T located on the far side of the swing axis O when the lid 1 is closed. Consequently, the rigidity and strength of the lid 1 can be increased and the rotational moment acting against the lid 1 in the opening direction due the weight of the lid 1 itself can be increased because the ribs 1a increase the mass of the lid 1. The increased rotational moment makes it even more feasible to reduce the size of the force applying device used to apply a swinging force against the lid 1 in the opening direction or eliminate the force applying device altogether. By using ribs 1a as the reinforcing structure, the mass (weight) and the position of the center of gravity G can be adjusted easily and accurately by varying the spacing (pitch), thickness, number, etc., of the ribs 1a.

In this embodiment, by providing the ribs 1a inside the first lid portion T of the lid 1, the position of the center of gravity G can be adjusted and the rigidity can be improved in an effective manner while suppressing the resulting increase in weight in comparison with a case in which ribs are provided throughout the entirety of the lid 1.

In this embodiment, the thickness of the lid 1 is thicker in a first lid portion T near the center of gravity G, which is located on the far side of the swing axis O when the lid is closed, than in other regions. As a result, the rotational moment acting in the opening direction due to the weight of the lid 1 itself can be increased, making it even more feasible to reduce the size of the force applying device used to apply a swinging force against the lid 1 in the opening direction or eliminate the force applying device altogether. Additionally, by making the thickness of the lid 1 thicker in the first lid portion T, it becomes easier to arrange the ribs 1a constituting the reinforcing structure inside the lid 1 and, thus, to contribute to increasing the rotational moment in the opening direction.

This embodiment is provided with the stopper 6 and the foamed body 7. The stopper 6 is made of an elastic material and serves to support the lid 1 when the lid 1 is in the fully opened position P4. The foamed body 7 serves as a buffer member and is arranged to contact the lid 1 at a position P3 that is reached before the fully opened position P4 is reached when the lid 1 is opened. The foamed body 7 is configured to damp the movement of the lid 1 as the lid swings toward the fully opened position P4. Thus, the impact made by the lid 1 against the stopper 6 when the lid 1 is opened can be softened and the generation of a noise due to the striking of the lid 1 against the stopper 6 can be suppressed. Additionally, the structure is much simpler than the structure of a damper mechanism that employs air pressure or hydraulic pressure. As a result, both the size and the manufacturing cost of the vehicle cabin interior storage case can be reduced.

In this embodiment, the spring 5 is provided as a force applying device that applies a force against the lid 1 in the opening direction. As a result, the lid 1 can be opened more reliably when the vehicle cabin interior storage case is tilted (e.g., due to the vehicle being on a slope) such that the rotational moment resulting from the weight of the lid 1 is smaller than when the storage case is not tilted.

In this embodiment, the spring force of the spring 5 acts on the lid 1 in an opening direction when the lid 1 is in any position ranging from the fully closed position P1 to a prescribed position P2 that is reached prior to the fully open position P4 when the lid 1 swings toward the fully open position P4. As a result, the spring 5 can be made smaller than in a case where it applies a spring force in the opening direction through the entire range of motion from the fully closed position P1 to the fully opened position P4. Additionally, by weakening the force acting on the lid 1 at the fully opened position P4, the sound of the lid 1 striking against the stopper 6 can be suppressed.

In this embodiment, the casing unit 3 has the receiving opening 3f for preventing contact with the arm 2R when the arm 2R swings and the arm 2R has a blocking piece 2b configured and arranged to block the receiving opening 3f when the lid 1 is fully opened. As a result, the opening movement of the lid 1 is not inhibited and the receiving opening 3f is prevented from being exposed in the casing unit 3 when the lid 1 is fully opened, thus preserving the aesthetic appearance of the casing unit 3.

Second Embodiment

Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10, a vehicle cabin interior storage structure in the form of a storage case is illustrated in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention. In view of the similarity between the first and second embodiments, the parts of the second embodiment that are identical to the parts of the first embodiment will be given the same reference numerals as the parts of the first embodiment. Moreover, the descriptions of the parts of the second embodiment that are identical to the parts of the first embodiment may be omitted for the sake of brevity.

FIG. 9 is a partial enlarged perspective view showing a protrusion 2c provided on the arm 2R of the vehicle cabin interior storage case and a tongue piece 3e provided on the casing unit. FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view showing vehicle cabin interior storage case from the same perspective as the view shown FIG. 7 (from the side and underneath).

The vehicle cabin interior storage case in accordance with this embodiment has the vertically oriented tongue piece 3e provided above the locking striker 3d of the casing unit 3A, as shown in FIG. 9. Otherwise, the constituent features are the same as those of the first embodiment. The casing unit 3A is made of a synthetic resin and the tongue piece 3e possesses a flexible quality. The tongue piece 3e is arranged and configured such that a protrusion 2c provided on the arm 2R contacts the tongue piece 3e and elastically flex the tongue piece 3e when the lid 1 is being opened. In particular, during the movement of the lid 1 to the opened state, the protrusion 2c contacts the tongue piece 3e prior to reaching the fully opened position. This contact between the protrusion 2c and the tongue piece 3e causes the tongue piece 3e to flex. Thus, the protrusion 2c then rides over the tip of the tongue piece 3e and enters the state shown in FIG. 9. In the state shown in FIG. 9, the protrusion 2c and the tongue piece 3e function to lock the lid 1 in the fully opened state.

Also, during the open movement, the flexing of the tongue piece 3e serves to soften the impact of the contact between the protrusion 2c and the tongue 3e. As a result, sound of the lid 1 (arm 2R) striking against the case 3A when the lid 1 reaches the fully opened position can be reduced and the lid 1 can be stopped in a more controlled manner when it reaches the fully opened position. Additionally, since the lid 1 is locked as just described when it is in the fully opened state, the lid 1 can be prevented from rattling or otherwise emitting abnormal noise due to vibrations of the vehicle.

In this embodiment, the lid 1 has two arms 2L and 2R that are swingably supported on both sides of the casing unit 3A. The casing unit 3A has a pair of recessed areas for receiving the two arms 2L and 2R, respectively. At least one of the two arms 2L and 2R (2R in this embodiment) has the protrusion 2c configured and arranged to touch against the casing unit 3 when the lid 1 is fully opened, and the casing unit 3A has an elastically flexible tongue piece 3e provided at the portion thereof where the protrusion 2c touches when the lid 1 is fully opened. As a result, the sound of the lid 1 striking against the casing unit 3A when the lid 1 is opened to the fully opened position can be softened and the lid 1 can be made to stop in a more controlled manner when it is moved to the fully opened position.

As can be confirmed by comparing FIG. 10 to FIG. 7, this embodiment is not provided with a spring serving as a means of applying a force against the lid 1. As a result, the vehicle cabin interior storage case can be assembled even more easily.

General Interpretation of Terms

In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “comprising” and its derivatives, as used herein, are intended to be open ended terms that specify the presence of the stated features, elements, components, groups, integers, and/or steps, but do not exclude the presence of other unstated features, elements, components, groups, integers and/or steps. The foregoing also applies to words having similar meanings such as the terms, “including”, “having” and their derivatives. Also, the terms “part,” “section,” “portion,” “member” or “element” when used in the singular can have the dual meaning of a single part or a plurality of parts. Also as used herein to describe the above embodiment(s), the following directional terms “forward, rearward, above, downward, vertical, horizontal, below and transverse” as well as any other similar directional terms refer to those directions of a vehicle equipped with the present invention. Accordingly, these terms, as utilized to describe-the present invention should be interpreted relative to a vehicle equipped with the present invention. The terms of degree such as “substantially”, “about” and “approximately” as used herein mean a reasonable amount of deviation of the modified term such that the end result is not significantly changed.

While only selected embodiments have been chosen to illustrate the present invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that various changes and modifications can be made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. For example, the size, shape, location or orientation of the various components can be changed as needed and/or desired. Components that are shown directly connected or contacting each other can have intermediate structures disposed between them. The functions of one element can be performed by two, and vice versa. The structures and functions of one embodiment can be adopted in another embodiment. It is not necessary for all advantages to be present in a particular embodiment at the same time. Every feature which is unique from the prior art, alone or in combination with other features, also should be considered a separate description of further inventions by the applicant, including the structural and/or functional concepts embodied by such feature(s). Thus, the foregoing descriptions of the embodiments according to the present invention are provided for illustration only, and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.