- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to airbag modules and, more particularly, to an airbag module housing that is recyclable.
Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to increase the recyclability of components. In some countries, an ever-increasing content of automobiles has been mandated to be recyclable by the automobile or component manufacturer.
Air bag modules are currently composed of metal and plastic parts that must be disassembled for recycling of its separate different parts. The housing is made of aluminum or steel. Recycling of parts of different compositions is costly, requiring disassembly, segregation of the parts and multiple recycling processes. This variety of materials used and the use of metallic components exacerbates the recycling problem.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It would be desirable to reduce the cost and complexity of recycling air bag modules by providing an air bag assembly that can be recycled without disassembly.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide an air bag assembly that can be recycled without disassembly.
In one aspect this invention features a housing assembly for an airbag which comprises an inflator housing and an air bag retainer, in which the inflator housing is a unitary structure made of a recyclable plastic which incorporates integral supports for an inflator. The air bag retainer is made of the same recyclable plastic, and cooperating fasteners formed on the housing and the retainer secure the retainer to the housing, such that the housing and retainer can be recycled together without disassembly. Preferably, the housing includes an integral inflator gas diffuser.
In another aspect, the housing includes an upper wall which cooperates with the side and end walls to define an inflator cavity, the upper wall including spaced inflator gas diffusing apertures which comprise the integral gas diffuser.
In a further aspect, this invention features an inflator, a unitary housing having integral walls forming an inflator chamber including an inflator mounting stud aperture, a plurality of integral supports for the inflator, an integral peripheral rim forming an airbag chamber, an integral upper wall having inflator gas diffuser apertures, an inflator stud fastener for securing the inflator to the housing, an air bag retainer, and cooperating fasteners on the housing and on the retainer for securing the retainer to the housing. The housing and retainer are formed of the same recyclable material such that the air bag assembly can be recycled after removing only the inflator and stud fastener.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other objects and features of this invention will become readily apparent upon reference to the following detailed description of this invention, as illustrated in the attached drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of one embodiment of recyclable air bag assembly according to this invention;
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of another embodiment of recyclable air bag assembly according to this invention;
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of yet another embodiment of recyclable air bag assembly according to this invention;
FIG. 4 is a longitudinal sectional view of the recyclable air bag assembly of FIG. 3; and
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 5 is a transverse sectional view of the recyclable air bag assembly of FIG. 3.
FIG. 1 shows an air bag module 10 comprising a housing 12, an air bag retainer 14 and an inflator 16. Housing 12 is generally U-shaped, having one end wall 18 formed with an inflator locating collar 20 and a stud aperture 22. The opposing end wall 24 includes a circular opening 26 for admitting inflator 16 into housing 12, where it is laterally confined by ribs 28 formed in side walls 30 and 32. The walls of housing 12 terminate in a peripheral flange 34 that includes a plurality of spaced holes 36.
Air bag retainer 14 has peripheral segments 38, 40, 42 and 44 which each have depending rods 46 which each align with one of the housing holes 36. Both housing 12 and retainer 14 are preferably made of the same polymeric material, preferably being a nylon or polyester material. An air bag (not illustrated) is preferably sewn in a well-known manner to retainer 14 which is assembled to housing 12 by inserting rods 46 into holes 36. Thereafter, the ends of rods 46 can be heat staked to secure retainer 14 to housing 12. Alternatively, rods 46 can be threaded, and plastic nuts (not illustrated) can be screwed onto the threads rods to secure retainer 14 to housing 12. After assembly, a polymeric cover 48 is snapped over retainer 14 to complete the assembly.
Housing 12 and retainer 14 are both unitary members and they and cover 48 ideally are made of the same polymeric material, such as nylon or polyester for ease in recycling. Module 10 is easily recycled by merely removing an inflator stud retention nut 50 from inflator stud 52, inflator 16 is slid out of housing 12 through opening 26, and the housing 12 and retainer 14 (and cover 48 and the air bag, if still attached) can be recycled together.
Another embodiment of air bag module 60 is shown in FIG. 2 as comprising a unitary housing 62, a retainer 64 and an inflator 66. Here, again housing 62 and retainer 64 are preferably made of the same or similar polymeric material, such as nylon. As can be seen, the housing 62 has a different shape and the means of fastening retainer 64 to housing 62 is different. Housing 62 has ledges 68 and 70 extending from the inflator receiving chamber 72, flanked by upstanding peripheral front and rear walls 74, 76 and side walls 78 and 80.
The side walls include identical slots 82 (only one visible), while rear ledge 68 has identical side slots 84 (only one visible) and a pair of central slots 86, 87. Front ledge 70 has identical side slots 88 (only one visible) and a pair of central slots 90, 91. Retainer 64 has depending flexible footed legs or snaps 92, 93 on each end (only one end visible) and three flexible spaced footed snaps 94, 96, 98 on each side (only one side visible).
After inflator 66 is installed in housing chamber 72 by securing stud nut 100 onto inflator mounting stud 102, retainer 64 (with an air bag conventionally sewn thereto, not illustrated) is placed on housing 62 and forced downward. This will cause snaps 92, 93 to enter slots 90, 91 and 86, 87, and cause snaps 94, 96, 98 to enter slots 84, 82, 88, where the snap feet will snap under the adjacent housing surfaces to secure retainer 64 to housing 62.
Another embodiment of air bag module 110 is shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 as comprising a unitary inflator housing 112, an air bag retainer 114 having a cover 116 and an inflator 118. Housing 112 includes an integral inflator cradle 120 and an integral inflator gas diffuser 122, which comprises an upper wall 124 and spaced strengthening ribs 126 spaced between diffuser holes 128. Retainer 114 includes depending footed snaps 130 (not all shown) which cooperate with slots 132 (not all shown) in housing 112 to secure retainer 114 to housing 112, much as in the FIG. 2 embodiment.
Thus, instead of utilizing a metal gas diffuser insert, which would have to be disassembled for recycling as is usual, this embodiment provides an air bag module that has an integral diffuser which simplifies the recycling process. All embodiments of this invention provide an air bag module that requires only removal of the inflator for recycling.
While only three embodiments have been shown and described, other modifications are contemplated within the scope of this invention and the attached claims.