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Publication numberUS3716895 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 20, 1973
Filing dateOct 27, 1971
Priority dateOct 27, 1971
Publication numberUS 3716895 A, US 3716895A, US-A-3716895, US3716895 A, US3716895A
InventorsFohr T
Original AssigneeAllied Chem
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Unitary seat belt buckle
US 3716895 A
Abstract
A unitary seat belt buckle fabricated from a single blank to include in one single piece all the required elements such as a housing, an opening and guides for inserting an apertured tongue, a latch, biased for locking engagement with the tongue, which latch can be urged to the unlocked position by a push button, a cover to the housing providing access to the push button and means for attaching a belt.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 Fohr [ 1 Feb. 20, 1973 [54] UNITARY SEAT BELT BUCKLE [75] Inventor: Thomas E. Fohr, Warren, Mich.

[73] Assignee: Allied Chemical Corporation, New

York, NY.

[22] Filed: Oct. 27, 1971 [21] Appl. No.: 193,084

[52] US. Cl. ..24/230 SL, 29/180 SS, 24/77 [51] Int. Cl. ..A44f 11/26 [58] Field of Search...24/23O A, 230 AL, 230 SL, 201

S, 24/230 AV, 75, 77; 29/180 A, 180 SS, 190

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,569,088 1/1926 Humphrey ..24 75 8/1965 Miller ..24/230A 2/1970 Krengel ..24/230A Primary ExaminerBemard A. Gelak Attorney-Jonathan Plaut et al.

[57] ABSTRACT A unitary seat belt buckle fabricated from a single blank to include in one single piece all the required elements such as a housing, an opening and guides for inserting an apertured tongue, a latch, biased for locking engagement with the tongue, which latch can be urged to the unlocked position by a push button, a cover to the housing providing access to the push button and means for attaching a belt.

40 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTL'UIEBZOIUTS 7153535 SHEET 10F 4 INVENTOR. THOMAS E. 05R

PATENTEB FEB 2 01975 SHEET 2 BF 4 INVENTOR.

THOMAS E.LOHR

AGENT PATENTEDFEB2OI975 SHEE 0F 4 Qm I m mwm INVENTOR THOMAS E, LOHR FATENTEUFEBZOBTK 5.716.895

SHEET Q U? 4 INVENTOR.

THOMAS E. LOHR UNITARY SEAT BELT BUCKLE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to a seat belt buckle of the type utilized in automobiles, airplanes or other vehicles for retaining an occupant in a seated position within the vehicle. Seat belt assemblies usually include at least two straps or belts anchored to the vehicle body, with one of the straps being connected to a tongue and the other to a buckle, whereby two of the straps may be disposed over an occupants lap and the tongue inserted into the buckle so as to be retained therein until manually released by manipulation of the buckle mechanism.

2. Description of the Prior Art A large number of such buckle assemblies are found in the prior art and practically all incorporate some type of latching means which co-acts with a tongue and is moveable between latched and released positions whereby the tongue is retained within thebuckle in the latched position and may be removed from the'buckle in the released position. The buckles employ various sub-assemblies, devices, etc. for attachment or co-action with the latching means. Additionally, the assemblies normally include a support structure such as a housing. One problem encountered with such prior art assemblies relates to the difficulty experienced in inserting the various elements and components into the housing and into proper cooperating relationship, one with the other. The elements are usually placed into a housing either separately or in sub-assemblies, which must be assembled within the housing. This presents a difficult and expensive assembly operation and also in-: creases the possibility of defective assemblies due to the improper positioning of the components during assembly. Still another difficulty characteristic of some buckles of the prior art may be traced to the manner in which the various assembled components cooperate with one another. With hard usage they can become loose or misaligned, thus becoming dangerous or totally inoperative. Practically all seat belt buckles of the prior art include springs to provide the necessary bias to the latching mechanism. Such springs are neces-' sary in the case of these buckles for the safe and effective operation of the latch, and the breakage of such a spring can have serious consequences.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The buckle of the present invention is functional, being designed for ruggedness and dependability coupled with ease of manufacture. It has a pleasing appearance, is economical to produce, and its design is particularly adaptable to methods of mass production.

This unitary seat belt buckle is fabricated from a single blank and includes in one piece all the required elements such as a housing, an opening and guides for inserting an apertured tongue, a latch biased for locking engagement with the tongue, which latch can be urged to the unlocked position by a push button, a cover to the housing providing access to the push button, and means for attaching a belt. Starting with a single blank which may be prepared by stamping or any other suitable method of manufacture, said blank can be machine folded and shaped into a complete functioning buckle. Such a buckle cannot come apart, and it has no elements to jam or become misaligned. Separate moving parts and springs which might break or malfunction are not employed and the completed buckle is locked into one compact, functioning, practically indestructible unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the blank from which the seat belt buckle is to be fabricated. As shown, it may be produced by stampingand punching from sheet metal or by any other suitable method of manufacture.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a tongue which may be inserted into the completed buckle for latching engagement therewith.

FIG. 3 is'a partial perspective view representing a modification of the blank of FIG. 1 which embodies a different means of seat belt attachment.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the partially fabricated buckle prepared by bending and folding the blank of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a plan break-away view of the finished buckle of FIG. 4, with the tongue of FIG. 2 inserted and latched into place.

FIG. 6 is a vertical half-section through the line 66 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a vertical section through the line 77 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 8 is a partial perspective view representing a modification of the blank of FIG. 1 which can be fabricated into still another embodiment of the unitary seat belt buckle. In this embodiment, the buckle is a fully functioning unit, though lacking a cover as an integral part of the unit.

FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view illustrating the manner in which the portion of the blank shown in FIG. 8 can be folded to complete the buckle.

FIG. 10 is a decorative cover which can be snapped into place to cover the cavity in the buckle of FIG. 9.

Referring now to the drawings wherein like numerals indicate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, the embodiments are disclosed: FIG. 1 represents a stamped and partially punched and embossed blank, which can be folded into a one-piece, functioning seat belt buckle. Area 1 of the blank is the base of the buckle. In fabricating the buckle, strips 2, extending from the sides of the base, are bent upwardly along lines 3 to form angles with respect to base 1, thus forming sides to the buckle. Strips 4, which now extend upwardly, are bent inwardly at an angle of 90 to strips 2, along line 5, to thus become parallel to base 1.

Tabs 8 which are shown as having been partially separated from strip 4 by cut 9, and as having been depressed, now extend above strip 4 by an amount substantially equivalent to the thickness of the metal from which they were cut. These tabs will serve to lock the cover plate 10 in place, and to provide partial support for said coverplate.

Strip 12, extending from base 1, and being an integral part of said base, has a wedge-shaped member 14, extending downwardly in a direction away from the base, and so positioned and sized as to fit in locking engagement with aperture 13 of the tongue of FIG. 2. As shown, this wedge, which ends abruptly in a shoulder at substantially 90 to strip 12, has been formed by embossing and punching, thus illustrating one of several ways in which it could be formed.

A push button 15, extends downwardly from strip 12, adjacent to its terminus. The button is shown as having been formed by embossing strip 12, and that section of the strip wherein the button has been formed, is itself pressed downwardly so as to be slightly below, but parallel to, the balance of strip 12. This illustrates but one of several ways in which the push button could have been fashioned.

Extending pieces 16 which are integral parts of strips 4, are bent downwardly into the cavity of the buckle so as to be parallel to each other, and perpendicular to both the base and the strips 4 from which they extend. These will serve as guides for the button, to limit its motion to a direction substantially perpendicular to the base.

Strip 12 is folded at point 17 in a manner such as to produce a bend of comparatively large radius, and to bring the extending portion of strip 12 carrying the button and wedge shaped latching member, between strips 4, and over and substantially parallel to, the base. The bend at point 17 now forms a rounded lip to guide the tongue into the buckle cavity. Since the material of composition of the blank has a degree of elasticity, the bend also forms a spring to urge strip 12, button and wedge shaped latch 14 (both of which now extend upwardly), in a direction away from the base. Also serving as guides for the tongue, are the two parallel channels, facing each other, formed by strips 4 and base 1, with strips 2 forming the backs of the channels as well as the side walls of the buckle.

In the buckle of the illustration, notches 18 fit slideably over guides 16, thus limiting the motion of the button to one substantially perpendicular to the base.

Since the strength of the spring formed at point 17 can be very substantial, this bias can be adjusted and reduced by several methods, such as by grooving or reducing the cross section of the material by thinning, perforating, narrowing or slotting. In the illustration, the cross section has been reduced by the deep notches 19.

Strip 20, which will ultimately form the rear wall of the buckle, is bent downwardly along line 22 to form a right angle with area 23.

Area 23 is folded upwardly, and tightly back through 180 to juxtapose area 24. Apertures 25 now coincide forming one aperture through two thicknesses of material. This aperture provides for the attachment of a seat belt.

Strip 20 now is in position as the rear wall of the buckle, and notches 26 dovetail with stubs 27 extending from sides 2.

Strip 28 extending from the end of cover plate 10 is curled upwardly and back on itself until its leading edge extends back towards the cover plate of which it is an integral part, and extends slightly beyond the terminal edge 30 of the cover plate. The inside diameter of this tubular curl is only very slightly greater than the thickness of the material from which the buckle is fabricated. The now rounded forward lip presented by this curled strip will serve to guide the tongue into the buckle cavity when the cover plate is in place, and its leading edge 29 will hook under tabs 8. To complete the fabrication, cover plate 10 is bent downward, along groove 32, and moved through until it covers the buckle cavity, and aperture 21 fits slideably over push button 15. In pressing the cover down into place, pressure is also exerted along the edge of the cover near groove 32. There is enough clearance in the dovetailed" corners of the rear of the buckle, and enough flexibility in the bends at 22 and 32, to permit the cover to move forward under pressure, sufficiently, so that edge 29 of the curl will slip over the raised tabs. Consequently, when the forward pressure is released, the cover will spring back due to the flexibility of the unit, and cause edge 29 of the curl to slide permanently beneath the lower surface of the raised tabs 8. This can be clearly seen in FIG. 7 relating to a slightly different modification.

Finally, two indentations are pressed into the bottom of the buckle at a pint approximately beneath the latch. These are so formed that the upwardly extending surfaces within the buckle will serve as additional guides for a tongue inserted therein. These raised surfaces within the cavity will support the inserted tongue so as to limit it to longitudinal motion within the upper portion of the opposing channels, thereby preventing appreciable downward motion of the tongue within the buckle. These indentations are shown as 33 in FIGS. 4 and 7.

FIG. 2 represents a tapered tongue for insertion into, and locking engagement with, the buckle. Aperture 13 is positioned to coincide with the wedge shaped latch of the buckle which is urged upwardly into locking engagement therewith. A seat buckle is attached to the tongue by means of a loop extending through aperture FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 illustrate a modification of the blank of FIG. 1. In this embodiment, the seat belt is attached to the buckle, within the buckle cavity. In completing the fabrication of this embodiment, belt support member 35 of FIGS. 3, 6 and 7 is positioned within the buckle cavity with its shouldered ends 38 extending into slotted apertures 36 of FIGS. 3 and 4 in the side walls of the buckle. Tabs 37 partially cut from strips 4 are bent upwardly, each at right angles to its respective strip 4 of FIG. 3. In the partially fabricated buckle of FIG. 4 and the buckle of FIG. 7, these tabs extend downwardly into the buckle cavity at a point just in back of the loop of belting on support member 35. Their function is to prevent the loop from extending further into the buckle cavity where it might interfer with the action of the push button.

In positioning the cover of this embodiment of the buckle, rear strip 20 of FIG. 3 is raised along line 22 until at right angles to base 1. Stubs 27 extending from the sides 2 of the buckle dovetail with notches 26 of the rear strip 20. The cover plate is bent forward along line 32 through 90 from rear strip 20 to thus parallel the base and cover the cavity of the buckle. The curling of extended strip 28 and the latching of the cover plate into place is carried out in a manner identical with that described for the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4, a perspective view of the partially fabricated buckle, represents the same embodiment as illustrated by FIG. 3. The buckle will be complete when the rear wall is dovetailed with the side walls and the cover is locked into place with the push button operable through orifice 21. The cover plate is convexed upwardly with the orifice being the high point. A short collar or sleeve 43 also surrounds the orifice through which the push button slideable extends. This collar is preferably embossed. It may be produced by any one of several other means, however. It is not necessary or critical with respect to the operation of the buckle. The method of latching the cover plate is clearly shown. Tabs 8 are raised, their ends have a vertical cut and are substantially in line with the ends of the channel walls 4 from which they are cut. This is the preferred construction. The outside distance between the tabs is equal to, or slightly greater than, the length of the curled member 28 which hooks beneath them; therefore, when the cover is pressured forward the curled member extending from the cover plate hooks beneath them without interference from the adjacent channel walls 4 even though these walls extend outwardly, substantially the same distance.

In reference to tabs 8, an alternate construction is shown in the enlarged perspective section 44, representing that area within the dotted circle of FIG. 4. Here the end of the tab has a slant surface extending downwardly and outwardly for latching engagement with the curled edge 28 of the cover plate.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the complete buckle with belt attached and tongue inserted and locked into position. This represents the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3. The manner in which downwardly extending members 16 serve to limit the push button to motion vertical to the base by co-acting slideably with notches 18, is shown. This figure also shows the wedge shaped latch 14 locked into engagement with the tongue.

FIG. 6 is a cross half section through line 6-6 of FIG. 5 showing the belts attached both to the tongue and the buckle according to the embodiment of FIG. 3. The tongue is shown in latched engagement with wedge shaped latch 14. It also shows in phantom the button depressed to the release position and latch 14 withdrawn from the tongue. It also illustrates the manner in which the curled edge 28 of the cover plate and the rounded bend 17 of the strip 12, which incorporates spring, latch and push button, serves as a guide to the tongue when it is inserted into the buckle.

FIG. 7 is a cross section through line 77 of FIG. 5. It illustrates the manner in which the curled lip 28 of the cover-plate hooks under the tabs 8. It illustrates further the manner in which extended tabs 37, bent downwardly from the upper channel wall 4 into the buckle cavity, prevent the loop of the seat belt from being pushed into interference with the action of the push button 15.

Still further, and importantly, it illustrates the manner in which the indented surfaces 33 not only guide the tongue to keep it near the upper portion of the channeled sides of the buckle, but keep it from following the latch in its downward direction when the tongue is being released. In other words, it supports the tongue while the latch is being withdrawn therefrom.

FIGS. 8, 9 and 10 illustrate a third embodiment, FIG. 8 being a perspective drawing ofa part of the blank before folding or fabricating; FIG. 9 illustrates the same portion punched, bent and folded, and FIG. 10 is a decorative cover which may be of lighter stock, or of plastic, since it serves no mechanical function except that its curled edge 28 helps to guide the tongue into the channels. The buckle is a complete functioning unit without the cover.

The channels serving as side walls are erected as in the case of FIG. 1 with members 16 extending downwardly into the cavity perpendicularly to the base 1 to serve as guides for the vertical motion of the push button. Area 23 is folded back is juxtaposition with area 24 so that apertures 25 coincide to form one aperture through a double thickness of material. The buckle is thus operable, but decorative cover plate 10 is fitted into place by hooking lip 44 of the cover of FIG. 10 into the notches 45 of the buckle, then pressing the cover downward and forward against the bias of the material of construction of the cover until the curled lip 28 catches beneath the raised tabs 8 of FIGS. 4 and 7. The cover is now permanently in place with the push button manually operable through aperture 21, as in the case of the covers of the first two embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 3.

Although a description of the various embodiments of the present invention has been given for easy understanding as if fabricated stepwise, no particular order is intended or implied. The buckle may be fabricated in any manner or order desired, either stepwise or with the appropriate machinery by maneuvers substantially simultaneous.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT A blank is stamped and punched from a sheet of 0.070inches (US. Standard) S.A.E. No. 1050 spring steel to obtain a configuration substantially as illustrated in FIG. 1. It is bent and folded as previously described, to produce a single-piece seat belt buckle having an overall length of 3.6 inches, a width of 2.00 inches and a thickness of 0.625 inches, including the convexity of the cover plate. The button orifice is 0.938 X 0.812 inches, the inside radius of curvature of the fold strip 12 at point 17 (to supply bias to the latch and push button), is 0.125 inches.

The abrupt shoulder of the latch 14 is positioned 0.73 inches from the front of the buckle as measured from the extending curved lip 17 of FIG. 4. The latch is 0.25 inches wide at its narrowest point and extends 0.078 inches above the surface of the strip 12 from which it is embossed. The upper raised surface of the indentations 33 of FIG. 4 extend up inside the buckle a distance 0.274 inches above the bottom surface of the buckle, or 0.212 inches above the inner surface of the base.

A line connecting the highest point of these two indentations, as they extend up into the buckle cavity, lies 0.622 inches from extending curved lip 17 of FIG. 4.

The push button is centered 1.593 inches from the above curved lip, and the push button guides are 0.406 inches wide, extending nearly to the bottom of the buckle s cavity. 7

A tail piece, comprising juxtaposed areas 23 and 24 with an orifice for attachment of a seat belt, extends 1.175 inches from the rear wall of the buckle.

Although S.A.E. No 1050 spring steel is used in fabricating this buckle, high alloy steels such as those commonly designated as 4140, 4130 and 1045 as well as 0430 stainless steel are also especially satisfactory,

having sufficient flexibility and strength to serve for this purpose. Generally, the alloy steels are chrome plated. They are, however, many other metals and alloys suitable for fabrication into seat belt buckles.

In another embodiment, a blank is cut from .070

inches high alloy spring steel 01050 to obtain the modified configuration of FIG. 3. This figure is a partial drawing, since the area not shown is identical to the configuration of FIG. 1. The strip 20, which forms the rear wall of the buckle has notches 26 which dovetail with stubs 27 of the side walls to make the rear corners. Strip 20 also has an aperture 39 to accommodate a seat belt, and thus permits the buckle loop with its supporting member 35 to be attached within the buckle housing. Slots 36 having a length of 0.22 inches are punched in each sidewall 11, centered at a point about 0.25 inches from the rear of the buckle. The ends of beltsupport-member 35 extend into these slots, and the member, about which the belt is looped, spans the distance between them. Shoulders at the end of the support member prevent it from slipping out on either side. The belt enters orifice 39 at the rear of the buckle, passes around support member 35, and exits through orifice 39. Tabs 37 are bent down into the cavity at a point about 0.437 inches from the rear of the buckle. They extend nearly to the bottom of the buckle cavity, and are thus positioned to prevent the belt loop from being inadvertently pushed further into the buckle where it might hinder the operation of the push button and latching mechanism. The completed buckle is 2.59 inches long overall. All other dimensions are substantially the same as those of the first embodiment except that this buckle lacks'the tail piece. This buckle is chrome plated to render it corrosion resistant as well as decorative.

In still another embodiment, a blank is pressed and punched from the. same .070 inches high alloy spring steel 1050 sheet stock as used for the second embodiment, to obtain a configuration substantially as illustrated in FIG. 8. As with FIG. 3, this figure is a partial drawing since the area not shown is identical to the configuration of FIG. 1. In this embodiment, those sections which became the rear wall and cover plate have been eliminated. The only other differences between this blank and that of FIG. 1, is that the side walls do not have the tabs 27 for dovetailing with notches in the rear wall, since no rear wall is provided for, in the blank. Instead, two notches 45, are included in the rear edge of the side walls, at a point above the inner surface of base 1 equivalent to the thickness of the metal of construction.

As with the first embodiment, area 23 is raised and folded back to juxtapose area 24, so that orifices 25 will coincide, thus forming one orifice through two thicknesses of metal.

Although the buckle is open at the rear and top, it is a complete functioning buckle. An apertured tongue can be latched by inserting it between the guide channels, and released by depressing-the push button.

A separate cover can readily and permanently attached to this buckle, and though it has no mechanical function, it can keep foreign objects from entering the cavity and interfering with the operation of the latch or push button. Further, it can be decorative, adding appreciably to the general appearance of the buckle A thin metal cover is stamped out of 22 gauge S.A.E. No. 430 Stainless Steel sheet stock, having substantially the configuration of FIG. 10. Edge 44 is hooked into notches 45, and the cover is then pressed forward and downward until the curled edge 28 books permanently under the raised tabs 8, of FIG. 4. Push button 15 then becomes accessible through the collared opening 21 of FIG. 10. This cover plate covers the rear opening as well as the cavity. Both the cover and the body of the I To operate any of these embodiments, the apertured I tongue is inserted intothe front opening and is guided therein by rounded lips 17 and 28. This depresses strip 12 as its lead edge acts against the slope of the latch. When the aperture of the tongue reaches the abrupt shoulder of the latch, the latch is urged upward by the bias of bend 17 in strip 12. The vertical shoulder of the latch in contact with the vertical wall of the aperture of the tongue insures that the tongue will remain in the latched position until the latch is withdrawn from the aperture.

When the push button is depressed, the latch would tend to drag the tongue down with it, except that the tongue is held in place by the two indentations 33 of FIG. 4, which confine it to the upper part of the channel. Depression of the push button therefore withdraws the latch and permits the withdrawal of the tongue.

This buckle, although very simple, carries with it many advantages. It may be economically manufactured. It is unusually rugged and strong, and has no separate parts subject to misalignment or breakage. Since its push button operates with a mechanical advantage, a greater force can be applied to the latch, thereby making the buckle more positive in action and practically eliminating the danger of failure. The biasing force can be easily and finely adjusted during manufacture.

Whereas the seat belt buckle of the present invention offers considerable economy as manufactured, this is by no means at the expense of ruggedness, dependability or serviceability, which three factors have been definitely improved.

This invention has been described. in an illustrative manner. It is to be understood that the terminology employed is intended to be understood that the terminology employed is intended to be in the nature of words of description rather than of limitation. Obviously, many modifications or variations of the present invention are possible. In the light of the above teaching, it is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically disclosed.

I claim: I

I l. A buckle fabricated from one unit of material,

having a degree of flexibility, comprising, as a single unitary piece: a. a base; b. a pair of parallel channels extending from opposite sides of the base as integral parts thereof, the channels having their longitudinal openings facing each other, said openings adapted to slideably guide a tongue, spanning the distance between them;

c. a strip of material extending from a side of the base intermediate to the two channels as an integral part of the base, said strip folded back so as to be substantially parallel to the base, and resilient, said strip disposed between the two channels to permit the tongue, slideably inserted between the channels, to be positioned above the resilient surface of the folded strip;

. an inclined latch formed on the surface of the folded strip extending upwardly away from the surface of the strip and in a direction away from the fold, ending abruptly in a shoulder;

. an aperture in the tongue to engage the latch when the tongue is slideably inserted between the channels in the direction of the upward slope of said latch, to thereby lock the tongue against withdrawal in the direction of the fold, until released by a downward pressure on the strip against the bias of the strip, to withdraw the sloping latch from the aperture of the tongue; and

f. means for the attachment of a seat belt to the buckle.

2. The buckle of claim 1 wherein the material of which the buckle is constructed, is a metal, having a degree of flexibility.

3. The buckle of claim 1 wherein the inclined latch extends upwardly from the surface of the strip at a point approximately midway between the point of folding and the terminus of the strip.

4. The buckle of claim 1 wherein a push button extends upwardly from the surface of the folded strip at a point which is substantially its terminus.

5. The buckle of claim 4 wherein there is a notch in each edge of the folded strip at a point adjacent to the push button, and a guide member, perpendicular to the base, extending downwardly from the upper surface of each of the two channels, slideably positioned with respect to the notches in the edge of the folded strip, to thereby limit the push button to motion substantially perpendicular to the base.

6. The buckle of claim 1 wherein the cross section of the folded strip from which the latch extends, is diminished at, at least one point between the base and the latch, to thereby reduce and adjust the strength of the bias exerted upwardly on the latch and push button.

7. The buckle of claim 1 wherein the means for the attachment of a seat belt buckle constitutes a tail piece comprising, an extension of the base outwardly from the rear of the buckle, as an integral part of the base, and an aperture in said tail piece for the attachment of a seat belt.

8. The buckle of claim 7 wherein the tail piece is produced by folding the extension of the base back on itself in juxtaposition, and the aperture in said tail piece passes through both thicknesses of the material of responding lip formed on the free edge of the angular extension of the cover.

11. The buckle of claim 10 wherein the forward end of the cover has a downwardly curled rounded edge to serve as a guide for the insertion of an apertured tongue, and to hook over the forward edge of the upper surfaces of the channels, when the angular extension of the cover is in locking engagement with the notches in the extremity of the side walls, and the cover is stressed by a downwardly and forwardly applied force.

12. The buckle of claim 11 wherein a metal tab is separated from the upper surface of each of the two channels by a cut starting at a point on the forward edge of said upper surface and extending toward the rear of the buckle, parallel to the longitudinal edge, for a short distance, said tab being so bent that its forward edge is above the forward edge of the aforesaid upper surface by an amount substanTially equal to the thickness of the metal from which it is cut, whereby the tab constitutes a latch for substantially permanent locking engagement with the terminal, downwardly curled edge of the cover.

13. The buckle of claim 9 wherein the cover is fabricated from metal of lighter gauge than that of the material from which the buckle is fabricated.

14. The buckle of claim 9 wherein the cover is constructed partially or wholly of polymeric substances.

15. The buckle of claim 9 wherein the cover is shaped so as to be higher in the vicinity of the button than at its edges, and wherein a collar, being an integral part of the cover extends downwardly from the aperture to surround the upper portion of the push button in a sliding relationship.

16. The buckle of claim 1 wherein two projecting surfaces extend up from thebase at each side of the folded strip carrying the push button and latch, which projections guide a tongue inserted into the channels, and support the tongue at each side of the latch, whereby the latch can be withdrawn from the aperture of the tongue, without any tendency for the tongue to follow the latch downwardly.

17. The buckle of claim 16 wherein the two projecting surfaces are produced by indenting the bottom of the buckle at each side of the latch, and are positioned so as not to interfere with the movement of the push button and latch.

18. A buckle fabricated from one unit of material, having a degree of flexibility, comprising, as a single unitary piece:

a. a base;

b. a pair of parallel channels extending from opposite sides of the base as integral parts thereof, the channels having their longitudinal openings facing each other, said openings adapted to slideably guide a tongue spanning the distance between them;

. a strip of material extending from a side of the base intermediate to the two channels as an integral part of the base, said strip folded back so as to be substantially parallel to the base, said strip folded back so as to be substantially parallel to the base, and resilient, said strip being disposed between the two channels to permit the tongue, slideably inserted between the channels, to be positioned above the resilient surface of the folded strip;

d. an inclined latch formed on the surface of the folded strip extending upwardly away from thesurface of the strip and in a direction away from the fold; ending abruptly in a shoulder;

' e. an aperture in the tongue to engage the latch when the tongue is slideably inserted between the channels in the direction of the upward slope of said latch, to thereby lock the tongue against withdrawal in the direction of the fold; a push button projecting upwardly from the surface of the strip from aposition more distant from the fold than that of the inclined latch, whereby pressure applied to thepush button is an integral part, thus acting against the bias of the strip, to withdraw the latch from'the aperture of the tongue and permit withdrawal of the tongue;

g. a second strip of material extending from a side of the base opposite to that from which the first strip extends, being an integral part of the base and substantially as wide as the base, said second strip being bent to form an end' wall to the buckle, and,

bent further so that the remainderof the second strip lies parallel to the base to form a cover for the buckle; h'. an aperture in the cover to provide access to the push button, and; i. means for attaching a belt to the buckle. l9.'The buckle of claim 18 wherein the forward end of the cover has a downwardly curled rounded lipto serve as a guide 'to the tongue when inserted into the channels between said rounded lip, and the folded strip associated with the push button and latch.

20. The buckle of claim 19-.wherein a metal tab is separated from the upper'surface of each of the two channels by a cut starting at a point on the forward edge of said upper surface, and extending toward the rear-of the buckle, parallel to the longitudinal edge,

said tab being so bent that its forward edge is above the forwardv edge of the aforesaid upper surface by an amount substantially equal to the thickness of the metal fromlwhich it is cut, whereby the tab constitutes a latch for locking engagement with the downwardly curled, rounded edge .of the cover. a

21. The buckle of claim 20 wherein the rounded edge comprises a partial cylinder having an inside diameter, at least equal to the thickness of the metal from which the tabs are cut, whereby the rounded edge or curl can hook over the tabs, when stressed to do so,

by a downward andforward force applied to the cover- 22. The buckle of claim 18 wherein a longitudinal slot in the end of the buckle, parallel to the base and extending horizontally toward the channels, is provided, for insertion of a looped belt; and openings in the side walls of the channels near the end of the buckle and directly opposite each other to accommodate a crosspiece between them, which, by passing through the loop in the belt, secures the looped end of said belt within the buckle.

23. The buckleof claim '22 wherein a longitudinal cut starting from the rear edge of each of the upper surfaces of the two channels extends parallel to the channel a sufficient distance to go beyond the end the belt loop attached to the buckle, and the strips thereby separated are bent downwardly, perpendicular to the channel surface and base, whereby they stand between the belt loop and the push button, to thus prevent the loop from being inadvertently pushed into interference with the action of the push button and latch.

24. The buckle of claim 18 whereby the ends of the rear wall are notched for cooperation with extending tabs on the ends of the side walls, whereby by interlocking, dovetailed comers are produced.

25. The buckle of claim 18 wherein the second strip of material extends beyond the end of the buckle to form a tail piece, then folds upwardly, back on itself in juxtaposition, to apply a second thickness to the tail piece, then bends perpendicularly upward to form a rear wall to the buckle, then forward until parallel to the base, to form the cover to the buckle, said tail piece having an aperture through the double thickness of material for the attachment of a seat belt.

, 26. Apre-formed blank adapted for fabrication into a unitary seat belt buckle comprising:

a. a single metal sheet which has a central base portion having a generally rectangular configuration, from one side of which a strip extends, having a width substantially less than that of the base, said 7 strip having a wedgev shaped latch sloping downwardly and away from the base portion, and a hollow push button, the latter being more distant from the base portion than the latch, said push button protruding downwardly from the surface of the strip, said strip adapted to be folded back over the base portion, the fold in the flexible metal serving as a biasing means to urge the latch and push but ton, both of which protrude upwardly after the folding operation, away from the base portion;

' b. on the two sides of the base portion adjacent to that from which the strip extends are two areas for fabrication by bendingto form two parallel channels with their open channels facing one another to thus bracket the folded strip positioned over the base; i

c. a second strip extending from the base on the side and an apertured cover. plate extending further from this wall for bending over the latch and pushbutton, the aperture coinciding with, and providf I ing access to, the push button. r 27. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein the 7 areas oppositely disposed for fabrication into channels,

each have a further extension for folding down into its respective channel as a guide to limit the push button to I motion substantially perpendicular to the base.

28 The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein the crosssection of the strip is reduced at a point between the latch and the base portion to thereby. reduce andadjust the strength of the bias which will be exerted upwardly on the latch and push button as a result of the flexibility of the metal strip, after said strip has been 30. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein there are two openings, one in each of the areas which will become the back of the channels and side walls of the buckle, at points substantially adjacent to the rear wall, said openings to be so positioned as to be directly opposite each other when the channels are formed; said openings to accommodate a cross piece between them, which, by passing through the loop in the belt, will secure the loop end of said belt within the buckle.

31. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein the lines along which the buckle blank is to be creased during fabrication are weakened to facilitate bending at those points.

32. The pre-formed blank of claim 31 wherein the lines are weakened by pre-grooving.

33. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein the area of the second strip to be fabricated into an apertured cover plate, is more depressed in the vicinity of the aperture than at its perimeter, and wherein a collar, being an integral part of the cover, extends upwardly from the aperture to surround the upper portion of the push button in a sliding relationship when the buckle has been fabricated.

34. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 wherein the terminal edge of the area to be fabricated into a cover plate is curled downwardly to form a rounded edge.

35. The pre-formed blank of claim 34 wherein the two areas for fabrication into channels, include tabs for locking engagement with the curled edge of the cover plate.

36. The pre-formed blank of claim 35 wherein the rounded edge comprises substantially a partial cylinder of such diameter that when the cover is bent over the buckle as a cover plate, with the push button accessible through the aperture, the terminal edge of said plate is curled around to engage the tabs which on the application of a downward and forward pressure to the cover, lock the cover permanently in place.

37. The pre-formed blank of claim 26 in which-the second strip extending from the base as an integral part includes first, a portion for folding into an apertured tail piece of double thickness for attachment of a seat belt, said tail piece being attached to a portion for the rear wall of the buckle, which in turn is attached to the apertured portion for fabrication into a cover plate.

38. A pre-formed blank adapted for fabrication into a unitary seat belt buckle comprising:

a. a single metal sheet which has a central base portion having a generally rectangular configuration, from one side of which a strip extends, having a width substantially less than that of the base, said strip having a wedge shaped latch sloping downwardly and away from the base portion, and a hollow push button, the latter being more distant from the base portion than the latch, said push button protruding downwardly from the surface of the strip, said strip adapted to be folded back over the base portion, the fold in the flexible metal serving as a biasing means to urge the latch and push button, both of which protrude upwardly after the folding operation, away from the base portion;

b. on the two sides of the base portion adjacent to that from which the strip extends are two areas for fabrication by bending to form two parallel channels with their open channels facingone another to thus bracket the folded strip posi IODCCl over the base; and

. a second strip extending from the base on the side opposite that from which the aforementioned first strip extends and having a width substantially equal to that of the base, for producing an apertured tail piece for the attachment of a seat belt.

39. The pre-formed blank of claim 38 for producing an apertured tail piece of double thickness by folding back the second extended strip on itself in juxtaposition.

40. The pre-formed blank of claim 38 wherein there are two notches in the rear edge-of the blank adjacent to the extending second strip, for the attachment of the rear end of a cover-plate when the buckle is fabricated.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4246680 *Nov 26, 1979Jan 27, 1981Gray Ernest FJewelry clasp
US4393556 *Apr 13, 1981Jul 19, 1983Nifco, Inc.Plastic buckle
US4408373 *Sep 2, 1980Oct 11, 1983Gateway Industries, Inc.Buckle with integral push button spring and reaction portions
US4566160 *Sep 9, 1983Jan 28, 1986Irvin Industries, Inc.End release inverse clevis buckle
US4624033 *Oct 15, 1985Nov 25, 1986Orton Dale WChild safety seatbelt securement device
US5878469 *Oct 23, 1997Mar 9, 1999Trw Occupant Restraint Systems GmbhBelt buckle for a seat belt
US6857812 *Jul 5, 2000Feb 22, 2005Recherche & Developpement Du Groupe Cockerill SambreProcess for assembling at least two constituent metal parts in order to create a structure
US7404578 *Aug 22, 2005Jul 29, 2008Takata-Petri (Ulm) GmbhSecuring device for a seatbelt
DE3331467A1 *Aug 31, 1983Mar 14, 1985Trw Repa GmbhGurtschloss fuer einen sicherheitsgurt
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Classifications
U.S. Classification24/664, 428/595, 428/596, 428/582, 428/583, 24/323
International ClassificationA44B11/25
Cooperative ClassificationA44B11/2511
European ClassificationA44B11/25B2B