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Patent Analysis of

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING JOINING REGIONS OF COMPOSITE SHEETS

Updated Time 15 March 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US20160200041A1

Application Number

US14/916137

Application Date

29 August 2014

Publication Date

14 July 2016

Current Assignee

THYSSENKRUPP STEEL EUROPE AG

Original Assignee (Applicant)

THYSSENKRUPP STEEL EUROPE AG

International Classification

B29C65/00,B23K11/34,B21D22/02

Cooperative Classification

B29C66/7392,B29C66/8242,B29C66/8244,B29L2009/003,B21D22/022

Inventor

CHERGUI, AZEDDINE,GOLDMANN, JURGEN,AL, MUSTAFA

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING JOINING REGIONS OF COMPOSITE SHEETS METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING JOINING REGIONS OF COMPOSITE SHEETS METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING JOINING REGIONS OF COMPOSITE SHEETS
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Abstract

Joining regions in sandwich sheets having a plastic core layer disposed between two metal cover layers are desirable for purposes of joining sandwich sheets to other components by, for instance, fasteners and/or welded joints. Methods and apparatuses for producing such joining regions in sandwich sheets allow for durably form-fitting and/or force-fitting joints between the sandwich sheets and other components. Some methods may involve displacing plastic material of the core layer of the sandwich sheet out of the region to be joined. A predetermined force may be exerted perpendicular to a surface of the region to be joined when the core layer of the sandwich sheet is heated so that the plastic material of the core layer is softened and at least partially displaced. In turn, the metal cover layers of the sandwich sheet may be brought into contact with one another in the region to be joined.

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Claims

1.-19. (canceled)

20. A method for producing a joining region in a sandwich sheet that comprises a plastic core layer disposed between two metal cover layers, with the joining region configured for joining the sandwich sheet to another sandwich sheet or another component by way of a fastener or a welded joint, the method comprising: positioning in a region to be joined of the sandwich sheet a mechanism for displacing plastic material of the plastic core layer out of the region to be joined; exerting a force from the mechanism for displacing the plastic material perpendicular to a surface of the region to be joined; and heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet so as to soften and at least partially displace the plastic material from the region to be joined such that the two metal cover layers are brought into contact by the force exerted by the mechanism for displacing the plastic material.

21. The method of claim 20 wherein the two metal cover layers are brought at least partially into contact in a peripheral region of an opening in the region to be joined by displacement of the plastic material.

22. The method of claim 20 further comprising: positioning in a plurality of regions to be joined of the sandwich sheet a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material; and bringing the two metal cover layers at least partially into contact in the plurality of regions to be joined.

23. The method of claim 20 further comprising deforming at least one of the two metal cover layers in the region to be joined.

24. The method of claim 20 further comprising: introducing the sandwich sheet into a receptacle; positioning the mechanism for displacing the plastic material in the region to be joined on a side of the sandwich sheet opposite the receptacle; producing via at least one of form-fitting or force-fitting a joint suitable for force transmission between the mechanism for displacing the plastic material and the sandwich sheet via the receptacle; preloading the mechanism for displacing the plastic material; and heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet at least in the region to be joined until the plastic core layer softens.

25. The method of claim 20 further comprising heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet by convective, conductive, or radiative heat transfer.

26. The method of claim 20 further comprising heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet by ultrasonic vibrations.

27. The method of claim 20 wherein exerting the force from the mechanism for displacing the plastic material comprises guiding a punch of the mechanism for displacing the plastic material perpendicular to the surface of the region to be joined of the sandwich sheet.

28. The method of claim 20 wherein the force exerted by the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is generated at least one of pneumatically, hydraulically, or by way of one or more mechanical springs.

29. The method of claim 20 wherein the positioning of the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is performed by a guide mechanism of a receptacle for the sandwich sheet.

30. The method of claim 20 further comprising: determining a position for each of a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastics material; positioning simultaneously the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastics material; and producing by at least one of form-fitting or force-fitting a joint suitable for force transmission between the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material and the sandwich sheet via a receptacle for the sandwich sheet.

31. An apparatus for producing a joining region near an opening in a sandwich sheet, the apparatus comprising: a receptacle for receiving the sandwich sheet; and a mechanism for displacing a plastic material of a core layer of the sandwich sheet out of a region to be joined, wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is preloadable with a predetermined force that is exertable on the sandwich sheet, wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is configured to displace the plastic material out of the region to be joined when the plastic material is softened.

32. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material generates the predetermined force by at least one of pneumatics, hydraulics, or springs.

33. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein the receptacle is configured as a clamping apparatus, wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is integrated into the clamping apparatus.

34. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material, wherein the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material are positionable individually or in groups on the receptacle for the sandwich sheet, wherein each of the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material comprise a punch that is movable perpendicularly to a surface of the sandwich sheet, wherein the punch is preloadable pneumatically, hydraulically, or via a mechanical spring.

35. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein the receptacle comprises embossing regions in the region to be joined of the sandwich sheet.

36. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising a mechanism for heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet.

37. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising a mechanism for heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet by ultrasonic vibrations.

38. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material, wherein the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material are positionable individually or in groups by at least one positioning mechanism.

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Claim Tree

  • 20
    20. A method for producing a joining region in a sandwich sheet that comprises
    • a plastic core layer disposed between two metal cover layers, with the joining region configured for joining the sandwich sheet to another sandwich sheet or another component by way of a fastener or a welded joint, the method comprising: positioning in a region to be joined of the sandwich sheet a mechanism for displacing plastic material of the plastic core layer out of the region to be joined
    • exerting a force from the mechanism for displacing the plastic material perpendicular to a surface of the region to be joined
    • and heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet so as to soften and at least partially displace the plastic material from the region to be joined such that the two metal cover layers are brought into contact by the force exerted by the mechanism for displacing the plastic material.
    • 21. The method of claim 20 wherein
      • the two metal cover layers are brought at least partially into contact in a peripheral region of an opening in the region to be joined by displacement of the plastic material.
    • 22. The method of claim 20 further comprising:
      • positioning in a plurality of regions to be joined of the sandwich sheet a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material
      • and bringing the two metal cover layers at least partially into contact in the plurality of regions to be joined.
    • 23. The method of claim 20 further comprising
      • deforming at least one of the two metal cover layers in the region to be joined.
    • 24. The method of claim 20 further comprising:
      • introducing the sandwich sheet into a receptacle
      • positioning the mechanism for displacing the plastic material in the region to be joined on a side of the sandwich sheet opposite the receptacle
      • producing via at least one of form-fitting or force-fitting a joint suitable for force transmission between the mechanism for displacing the plastic material and the sandwich sheet via the receptacle
      • preloading the mechanism for displacing the plastic material
      • and heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet at least in the region to be joined until the plastic core layer softens.
    • 25. The method of claim 20 further comprising
      • heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet by convective, conductive, or radiative heat transfer.
    • 26. The method of claim 20 further comprising
      • heating the plastic core layer of the sandwich sheet by ultrasonic vibrations.
    • 27. The method of claim 20 wherein
      • exerting the force from the mechanism for displacing the plastic material comprises
    • 28. The method of claim 20 wherein
      • the force exerted by the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is generated at least one of pneumatically, hydraulically, or by way of one or more mechanical springs.
    • 29. The method of claim 20 wherein
      • the positioning of the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is performed by a guide mechanism of a receptacle for the sandwich sheet.
    • 30. The method of claim 20 further comprising:
      • determining a position for each of a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastics material
      • positioning simultaneously the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastics material
      • and producing by at least one of form-fitting or force-fitting a joint suitable for force transmission between the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material and the sandwich sheet via a receptacle for the sandwich sheet.
  • 31
    31. An apparatus for producing a joining region near an opening in a sandwich sheet, the apparatus comprising:
    • a receptacle for receiving the sandwich sheet
    • and a mechanism for displacing a plastic material of a core layer of the sandwich sheet out of a region to be joined, wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is preloadable with a predetermined force that is exertable on the sandwich sheet, wherein the mechanism for displacing the plastic material is configured to displace the plastic material out of the region to be joined when the plastic material is softened.
    • 32. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein
      • the mechanism for displacing the plastic material generates the predetermined force by at least one of pneumatics, hydraulics, or springs.
    • 33. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein
      • the receptacle is configured as a clamping apparatus, wherein
    • 34. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising
      • a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material, wherein the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material are positionable individually or in groups on the receptacle for the sandwich sheet, wherein each of the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material comprise a punch that is movable perpendicularly to a surface of the sandwich sheet, wherein the punch is preloadable pneumatically, hydraulically, or via a mechanical spring.
    • 35. The apparatus of claim 31 wherein
      • the receptacle comprises
    • 36. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising
      • a mechanism for heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet.
    • 37. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising
      • a mechanism for heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet by ultrasonic vibrations.
    • 38. The apparatus of claim 31 further comprising
      • a plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material, wherein the plurality of mechanisms for displacing the plastic material are positionable individually or in groups by at least one positioning mechanism.
See all 2 independent claims

Description

The invention relates to a method for producing at least one joining region of a sandwich sheet which has at least two metal cover layers and at least one core layer that is arranged between the metal cover layers and consists of a plastics material, wherein the at least one joining region is suitable for joining the sandwich sheet to a further component or sheet by using fastening means or a welded joint. Furthermore, the invention relates to an apparatus for producing at least one joining region in a sandwich sheet, in particular for producing at least one joining region comprising at least one opening in the sandwich sheet, having at least one receptacle for the sandwich sheet and means for displacing the plastics material out of the at least one joining region.

Sandwich sheets, which usually have two outer metal cover sheets and at least one nonmetallic core layer arranged between the metal cover layers, said nonmetallic core layer preferably consisting of thermoplastic material, are used in order to provide composite sheet parts which have properties that are at least mutually exclusive in a sheet made of solid material. A sandwich sheet, in spite of its low weight, for example, allows locally very good stiffness and can simultaneously provide very good sound insulation properties. High tensile strengths with a simultaneously reduced weight can also be realized via sandwich sheets. Many applications require these sandwich sheets to be joined to other sheet parts or components. The joining methods that are frequently employed for sheets, for example fusion welding or soldering, cause problems, however, on account of their high heat input into the sandwich sheets. The thermoplastic layer usually used melts at least partially even in surrounding regions of the fastening or is damaged in some other way by the high heat input. In order to join a sandwich sheet to a further component, it is also possible to use a force-fitting and/or form-fitting joint, however, by using a fastening means, for example a screw or a rivet. However, it has been found that in the case of screwed joints or riveted joints, long-lasting firmness of these joints cannot be ensured on account of the creep behavior of the nonmetallic core layer, which generally consists of plastics material. The retaining force which the sandwich sheet has to provide with respect to the rivet or screw decreases on account of the creep behavior of the plastics material. As a result, or on account of the loss of the preloading force, the joint between the sandwich sheet and sheet or component loosens.

Proceeding from this problem, the present invention is based on the object of proposing a method and an apparatus for producing at least one joining region of a sandwich sheet, with which method or apparatus it is possible to create a joining region in a sandwich sheet which is suitable for joining the sandwich sheet to a further component or sheet via a welded joint or via fastening means, i.e. durably allows a form-fitting and/or force-fitting joint between the sandwich sheet and sheet (solid sheet or sandwich sheet) or component via fastening means. Furthermore, the joining region is intended to be produced as cost-effectively and reliably as possible.

According to a first teaching of the present invention, the object presented above is achieved for a method in that means for displacing the plastics material of the core layer out of the joining region are arranged in at least one joining region, the means for displacing the plastics material are preloaded such that a predetermined force is exerted perpendicularly to the surface of the at least one joining region of the sandwich sheet, the core layer of the sandwich sheet is heated such that, when the plastics material of the core layer of the sandwich sheet softens, the metal cover layers of the sandwich sheet are brought into contact by the force of the means for displacing the plastics material in at least one joining region by the plastics material being at least partially displaced.

As a result of the use of means for displacing the plastics material of the core layer that are able to be preloaded, the production of joining regions in sandwich sheets can take place independently of the provision of costly forming tools. As a result, costs for providing the joining regions can be reduced considerably and the flexibility in the arrangement of the joining regions can be increased. The joining regions can be used for welded joints but also for other durable joints between the sandwich sheet and further components by using fastening means, for example screws or rivets.

According to a first configuration of the method, the joining region therefore comprises an opening in the sandwich sheet, wherein the metal cover layers are brought at least partially into contact in the peripheral region of the opening by the plastics material being displaced. As a result, openings that are suitable for example for screwed joints can be provided in a sandwich sheet in that the substantially metal peripheral region of the opening can be used to build up the retaining forces of the screwed joint.

If, according to a further configuration of the method, a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material are arranged in a plurality of joining regions and at the same time the metal cover layers are brought at least partially into contact in a plurality of joining regions of the sandwich sheet, the method can be further improved in terms of its cost-effectiveness. This is allowed in particular by the use of the preloaded means for displacing the plastics material. These means can specifically be positioned and preloaded before the plastics material of the core layer is heated.

According to a further configuration, one metal cover layer or both metal cover layers are deformed in at least one joining region. If, for example, only one metal cover layer is deformed, the other metal cover layer can remain with its outer face in the plane of the sandwich sheet, and so the joining region results in a local depression in the sandwich sheet only on one side of the sandwich sheet. On the other hand, it is also possible for both metal cover layers to be deformed, such that the metal region which is used for example for a screwed joint can be arranged both in the plane between the two metal cover layers and outside the planes of the two metal cover layers.

According to a further configuration of the method, the sandwich sheet is first of all introduced into a receptacle, at least one means for displacing the plastics material is positioned on that side of the sandwich sheet that is the far side from the receptacle in the region of the joining region to be produced, via form-fitting and/or force-fitting means, a joint that is suitable for force transmission is produced between the means for displacing the plastics material and the sandwich sheet via the receptacle, the means for displacing the plastics material are preloaded, and the core layer of the sandwich sheet is heated at least in the region of the joining region until it softens. As a result of the use of a receptacle for the sandwich sheets, the means for displacing the plastics material can be positioned much more precisely on that side of the sandwich sheet that is remote from the receptacle. The form-fitting and/or force-fitting means, which ensure force transmission from the means for displacing the plastics material to the sandwich sheet via the receptacle, can also be used to position the means for displacing the plastics material or the sandwich sheet. The heating of the sandwich sheet can take place easily in the receptacle. Furthermore, the joining regions can be formed differently by an appropriate design of the receptacle in the joining regions, such that, for example in different joining regions, both metal cover layers or only one of the metal cover layers are/is deformed when the plastics material is displaced.

According to a further configuration of the method, the core layer of the sandwich sheet is heated by using means for convective, conductive or radiative heat transfer. Means for convective heat transfer, for example hot air fans, can transfer the heat to the metal cover layers of the sandwich sheet very quickly and efficiently. On account of the good heat conduction, the heat in the metal cover layers is passed on quickly to the core layer, consisting of plastics material, of the sandwich sheet. Conductive heat transfer can take place for example via heating elements provided in the receptacle, these having very precise temperature control. Radiative heat transfer is contactless and can be provided for example via infrared radiators, LEDs or other electromagnetic radiation sources.

According to a preferred embodiment of the method, the core layer of the sandwich sheet is heated by using ultrasonic vibrations. The use of ultrasonic vibrations can result in very precise heating of the core layer of the sandwich sheet, in particular on account of the different sound-conducting capabilities of the materials metal and plastics material.

Preferably, the means for displacing the plastics material displace the plastics material out of the joining region by using a punch guided perpendicularly to the sandwich sheet surface, wherein optionally the punch has a recess for receiving the displaced plastics material. The guidance of the punch makes it possible to introduce the force uniformly and precisely into the sandwich sheet in order to displace the plastics material. As a result, the entire region which is engaged by the punch is subjected to a predefined force such that the plastics material is pressed very precisely out of the entire region covered by the punch.

According to a further configuration of the method, the force of the means for displacing the plastics material is generated at least in part pneumatically, hydraulically and/or via a mechanical spring. Pneumatic and hydraulic generation of the force of the means for displacing the plastics material can be controlled easily, such that for example when a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material are used in a plurality of joining regions, an identical force can be applied to the sandwich sheet easily in every joining region. The use of a mechanical spring represents a particularly simple and cost-effective provision of the force for displacing the plastics material out of the joining region.

If the means for displacing the plastics material are positioned in a manner guided via guide means of the receptacle for the sandwich sheet, the positioning accuracy of the means for displacing the plastics material can be increased further. Suitable guide means may be for example pins which are arranged in the receptacle.

According to a further configuration of the method, a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material are positioned simultaneously via positioning means, wherein the positioning means predetermine the position of the individual means for displacing the plastics material and, as form-fitting and/or force-fitting means, produce a joint, suitable for force transmission, between the means for displacing the plastics material and the sandwich sheet via the receptacle for the sandwich sheet.

Appropriate positioning means can be for example a simple profile in which a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material are arranged and the profile is positioned in engagement with form-fitting or force-fitting means, provided therefor, of the receptacle. As a result, it is possible to simultaneously position a multiplicity of means for displacing the plastics material. The effort required for providing the sandwich sheet for the introduction of the joining regions can thereby be reduced.

According to a further teaching of the present invention, the object presented is achieved by an apparatus of the generic type in that the means for displacing the plastics material are preloadable with a predetermined force and the predetermined force can be exerted on the sandwich sheet such that when the plastics material of the core layer of the sandwich sheet softens, the plastics material can be displaced out of the joining region via the preloaded means for displacing the plastics material.

By way of the means for displacing the plastics material that are preloaded by a predetermined force, it is possible to create one or more joining regions in the sandwich sheet, these allowing a welded joint, for example a spot weld, or to provide openings with a metal periphery for the use of fastening means by way of a simple process for heating the core layer. Preloadable within the meaning of the present invention means that the means for displacing the plastics material are able to be activated, after being positioned in the joining region of the sandwich sheet, such that they exert a force on the sandwich sheet, said force sufficing to displace the plastics material out of the core layer of the sandwich sheet when the plastics material is heated. As a result, it is possible to initially position the means for displacing the plastics material easily and precisely in a non-preloaded state. After positioning, the force can be exerted on the joining region of the not yet heated sandwich sheet by preloading the means for displacing the plastics material. The displacement process can thus be extended simultaneously to a plurality of heated joining regions of the sandwich sheet.

Preferably, the means for displacing the plastics material have means for the pneumatic, hydraulic and/or spring-elastic generation of the predetermined force. Although pneumatic or hydraulic means for generating the predetermined force have a more complex structure than spring-elastic means, they can be preloaded in a particularly easy manner. Spring-elastic means for generating the predetermined force consist for example of a mechanical spring and therefore have a particularly simple structure. They are therefore particularly cost-effective.

According to a further configuration of the apparatus, the receptacle for the sandwich sheet is configured as a clamping apparatus, wherein the means for displacing the plastics material are integrated into the clamping apparatus. The receptacle configured as a clamping apparatus can have for example spring-elastic means which clamp the joining region to be produced in place between two receiving plates and subject it to a force such that when the core layer is heated, the latter is accordingly deformed. As a result, it is possible for example for peripheral regions of sandwich sheets to be equipped particularly easily with corresponding joining regions.

Preferably, according to a further configuration, the means for displacing the plastics material are positionable individually or in groups on the receptacle for the sandwich sheet and have a punch that is movable perpendicularly to the surface of the sandwich sheet, said punch being preloadable pneumatically, hydraulically or via a mechanical spring. By way of corresponding means for displacing the plastics material, joining regions can be produced at different positions on the sandwich sheet with little effort. The punch geometry can in this case be adapted to the joining regions to be produced, such that it is for example also possible to produce different geometrically distinctive joining regions by using individual means for displacing the plastics material or means for displacing the plastics material that are positionable in groups on the receptacle of the sandwich sheet.

According to a further configuration of the apparatus, the receptacle for the sandwich sheet has embossing regions in the region of joining regions of the sandwich sheet that are to be produced, such that for example when means for displacing the plastics material that are positionable on the receptacle of the sandwich sheet are used, the deformation of the metal cover layers of the sandwich sheet in the joining regions can be controlled via the embossing regions.

According to a further configuration of the apparatus, means for heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet can be provided, such that the apparatus as such is capable, even without additional further devices, of producing the joining regions after the means for displacing the plastics material have been preloaded.

Preferably, means for heating the core layer are provided, said means heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet by using ultrasonic vibrations. It has been found that the use of ultrasonic vibrations affords a particularly simple possibility of heating for example a sandwich sheet, which is positioned in a receptacle, over its entire surface by way of ultrasonic vibrations transmitted from the receptacle, such that uniform heating of the core layer of the sandwich sheet is achieved. In particular, it is possible as a result to prevent the entire apparatus from being heated fully.

Finally, according to a further variant, positioning means by way of which the means for displacing the plastics material can be positioned individually or in groups are provided. Via positioning means, for example simple profiles or templates, the positioning of the means for displacing the plastics material can be considerably simplified. In particular, the positioning means can also use form-fitting means of the receptacle in order to ensure the transmission of force to the sandwich sheet. Furthermore, guide means for positioning a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material can be used.

The invention is explained in more detail in the following text by way of exemplary embodiments in conjunction with the drawing, in which

FIG. 1 shows a schematic sectional view of a first exemplary embodiment of an apparatus for producing at least one joining region in a sandwich sheet by way of means for displacing the plastics material,

FIG. 2 shows a schematic, perspective illustration of a further exemplary embodiment of an apparatus for producing a plurality of joining regions in a sandwich sheet,

FIGS. 3 to 6 show schematic sectional views of four different exemplary embodiments of an apparatus, configured as a clamping apparatus, for producing at least one joining region,

FIG. 7 shows a schematic flow chart of an exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention,

FIG. 8 schematically shows the step of heating the core layer of the sandwich sheet according to a further exemplary embodiment of the method,

FIG. 9 shows a perspective, schematic illustration of a sandwich sheet after an exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention has been carried out,

FIG. 10a, b show two different sectional views through sandwich sheets having joining regions for joints suitable for screwing that are produced by way of an apparatus according to the exemplary embodiments in FIGS. 6 and 4,

FIG. 11, 12 show two further exemplary embodiments of the apparatus according to the invention,

FIG. 13 shows a schematic sectional view of a further exemplary embodiment of the apparatus with positioning means for a plurality of means for displacing the plastics material,

FIG. 14 shows a schematic, perspective illustration of corresponding positioning means for means for displacing the plastics material, and

FIG. 15 shows a perspective, schematic illustration of a further exemplary embodiment of an apparatus for producing a joining region by using the positioning means from FIG. 14.

FIG. 1 illustrates a first exemplary embodiment of an apparatus 1 for producing at least one joining region in a sandwich sheet 2. The sandwich sheet 2 consists of two outer cover sheets 2a, 2b and a central core layer 2c which consists of a preferably thermoplastic material. In the present exemplary embodiment, the composite sheet 2 has an opening 3 which is intended to be configured for joining the sandwich sheet to further components by using fastening means such as screws or a rivet.

The apparatus 1 for producing at least one joining region comprises a receptacle 4 for the sandwich sheet 2, in which, in the present exemplary embodiment, a positioning aid 5 for positioning the sandwich sheet 2 is provided. Furthermore, the apparatus has means 6 for displacing the plastics material, said means being preloaded with a predetermined force. The means 6 for displacing the plastics material have a punch 8 that is mechanically preloaded via a spring 7, wherein the predetermined force which the punch 8 exerts on the sandwich sheet 2 is settable via a punch holder 9, the vertical position of which is variable. Furthermore, the predetermined force with which the punch 8 is intended to be pressed against the sandwich sheet can be additionally predetermined by the selection of a suitable spring 7. The means 6 for displacing the plastics material are arranged on the receptacle 4 of the sandwich sheet via guide pins 10. By screwing the means 6 for displacing the plastics material to the receptacle 4, for example via the guide pins 10, a suitable joint is produced, via a form-fit, between the means 6 for displacing the plastics material and the sandwich sheet 2 via the receptacle 4. In this position, the punch 8 presses against the joining region of the sandwich sheet 2 with a predetermined force perpendicularly to the surface of the sandwich sheet 2, said joining region corresponding in the present case to the peripheral region of the opening 3. If the core layer 2c of the sandwich sheet 2 is now heated sufficiently so that it softens, the plastics material is displaced out of the peripheral region of the opening 3 into the opening itself via the punch 8. In order to make this easier, the punch 8 additionally has an opening 8a through which the pressed-out plastics material can flow.

The exemplary embodiment of an apparatus schematically illustrated in FIG. 1 can be used not only for flat sandwich sheets 2.

FIG. 2 schematically illustrates a perspective illustration of an apparatus 11 which has a three-dimensional structure that corresponds to the shape, arranged under the apparatus 11, of the sandwich sheet. Means 6 for displacing the plastics material are arranged on the apparatus 11. The means 6 for displacing the plastics material are provided at any desired positions on the three-dimensionally shaped sandwich sheet that are intended for producing joining regions.

FIGS. 3 to 6 disclose apparatuses 12, 13, 14, 15 for producing a joining region in a sandwich sheet, which are configured as clamping apparatuses and in which the means 6 for displacing the plastics material are already integrated. To this end, the clamping apparatuses 12, 13, 14, 15 are each equipped with a spring-loaded receiving plate 12a, 13a, 14a, 15a which presses the sandwich sheet 2 against an abutment plate 12c, 13c, 14c, 15c via a spring 12b, 13b, 14b, 15b. A predetermined force can be exerted on the sandwich sheet 2 perpendicularly to the surface thereof via the springs 12b, 13b, 14b, 15b. The force is illustrated in FIGS. 3 to 6 by way of arrows. Via embossing regions 12d, 13d, 14d, 15d that are provided, it is possible to determine which of the metal cover layers of the sandwich sheet 2 are intended to be deformed during the displacement of the plastics material. Thus, for example the apparatuses 12, 13 illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 are both deformed with metal cover layers during the heating of the core layer of the sandwich sheet 2. By contrast, the apparatuses 14, 15 for producing a joining region in FIGS. 5 and 6 only deform the upper metal cover layer of the sandwich sheet 2.

Finally, FIGS. 3 and 5 indicate that a joining region can be produced via the apparatuses 12, 14 without the presence of an opening in the sandwich sheet. These joining regions can be used for example for weld spots. In FIGS. 4 and 6, in contrast, the joining region is produced in the peripheral region of an opening 3 in a sandwich sheet 2.

An exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention is illustrated in a schematic flow chart in FIG. 7. In method step 101, first of all means 6 for displacing the plastics material of the core layer are arranged in at least one joining region of a sandwich sheet 2 and the means 6 for displacing the plastics material are preloaded, method step 102. Subsequently, the core layer of the sandwich sheet 2 is heated according to method step 103 until said core layer softens. By way of the preloaded means 6 for displacing the plastics material, as a result of the force exerted on the sandwich sheet, the plastics material of the core layer is displaced out of the joining region, method step 104. Subsequently, the sandwich sheet 2 merely has to be removed from the apparatus 1 or demolded. This is indicated by method step 105.

Method step 103 is schematically illustrated in FIG. 8. As can be seen in FIG. 8, for example the entire apparatus, including preloaded means 6 for displacing the plastics material, is heated in an oven O. The heating temperature depends on the plastics material of the core layer of the sandwich sheet 2. Usually, appropriate temperatures are between 100° C. and 350° C., preferably between 140° C. and 280° C. After the core layer of the sandwich sheet 2 has softened, the plastics material is displaced out of the joining regions via the preloaded means 6 for displacing the plastics material and the metal cover layers are brought into contact in this region. Joining regions which consist substantially only of metal are created. The joining regions are illustrated in FIG. 10a, b. These figures represent a sectional illustration of the sandwich sheet 2 which is provided with a joining region in a perspective manner in FIG. 9 and was produced by the method according to the invention. As can be seen, the peripheral region 2d of the opening 3 is produced by deformation of both metal cover layers in FIG. 10a. The joining region is arranged between the two metal cover layers. In FIG. 10b, in contrast, only the upper metal cover layer 2a was deformed in the joining region or peripheral region 2d. The lower metal cover layer 2b remains undeformed.

In a schematic sectional view in FIG. 11, means 6 for displacing the plastics material are arranged on a sandwich sheet 2 via a positioning means 16 configured as a profile, wherein the rail 16 is connected to the receptacle 4 of the sandwich sheet via form-fitting or force-fitting means. In order to displace the plastics material, the means 6 are preloaded via pneumatic, hydraulic or spring-elastic means for creating the predetermined force. Furthermore, a means 17 for producing ultrasonic vibrations is indicated in FIG. 11, said means passing ultrasonic vibrations into the receptacle 4 such that the sandwich sheet 2 is heated by transmission of the ultrasonic vibrations. As a result, the core layer 2c of the sandwich sheet 2 is also heated. Once the required temperature of the core layer has been reached, the latter softens and is displaced out of the corresponding joining regions via the means 6 for displacing the plastics material.

In FIG. 12, as an alternative to the use of the means 17 for producing ultrasonic vibrations, the entire receptacle 4, together with the means 6 for displacing the plastics material and the sandwich sheet 2, is illustrated in an oven which is then heated up to a corresponding temperature. As a result, it is for example possible to simultaneously equip a multiplicity of sandwich sheets with joining regions by using corresponding ovens, said joining regions either allowing welded joints or durable connections to other components via fastening means such as screws or a rivet.

Positioning means in which the means 6 for displacing the plastics material are arranged are illustrated in a perspective view in FIG. 14. Corresponding means can also be connected to the receptacle 4 in a form- and/or force-fitting manner via a lever construction 18 for example in simpler apparatuses for producing joining regions, such that the means 6 for displacing the plastics material displace the plastics material in the corresponding joining regions and thus provide metal joining regions for joining the sandwich sheet 2 to further components, FIG. 13.

Finally, FIG. 15 shows the arrangement of the positioning means from FIG. 14 for a three-dimensionally shaped sandwich sheet which is provided beneath the form-fitting or force-fitting means 19 illustrated in FIG. 15.

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Patent Valuation

28.23/100 Score

Market Attractiveness

It shows from an IP point of view how many competitors are active and innovations are made in the different technical fields of the company. On a company level, the market attractiveness is often also an indicator of how diversified a company is. Here we look into the commercial relevance of the market.

55.0/100 Score

Market Coverage

It shows the sizes of the market that is covered with the IP and in how many countries the IP guarantees protection. It reflects a market size that is potentially addressable with the invented technology/formulation with a legal protection which also includes a freedom to operate. Here we look into the size of the impacted market.

32.75/100 Score

Technology Quality

It shows the degree of innovation that can be derived from a company’s IP. Here we look into ease of detection, ability to design around and significance of the patented feature to the product/service.

71.0/100 Score

Assignee Score

It takes the R&D behavior of the company itself into account that results in IP. During the invention phase, larger companies are considered to assign a higher R&D budget on a certain technology field, these companies have a better influence on their market, on what is marketable and what might lead to a standard.

24.16/100 Score

Legal Score

It shows the legal strength of IP in terms of its degree of protecting effect. Here we look into claim scope, claim breadth, claim quality, stability and priority.

Citation

Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Method, device and tool for electric pressure welding RS ELEKTRONIK GMBH 20 December 2005 12 July 2006
Method of hole forming GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION 11 December 1978 23 September 1980
Coining holographic images into contoured surfaces on hard temper metal products ALCOA INC. 06 May 2003 11 November 2004
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Seal carving apparatus and thermal carving machine SHACHIHATA INC. 16 October 2015 24 July 2018
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