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Publication numberUS3845456 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 29, 1974
Filing dateJul 17, 1972
Priority dateSep 28, 1971
Publication numberUS 3845456 A, US 3845456A, US-A-3845456, US3845456 A, US3845456A
InventorsL Michaels
Original AssigneeMolex Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Clinchable terminals
US 3845456 A
Abstract
A terminal is attached by clinching to a thin circuit device such as a flexible circuit, a flexible cable or a printed circuit, and includes contact structure for establishing an electrical connection between the circuit device and other circuit components. The terminal is formed as a unitary body of conductive metal having a generally dish-shaped body portion provided with a novel clinching structure. A plurality of tangs depending from the body portion are forced or inserted through the thin circuit device and then clinched against the circuit device. The mechanical and electrical performance of the attached terminal is improved by the provision of a clinching rib toward which each tang is forced. Various types of contact structure may be used, and in certain embodiments of the invention there is provided a novel female contact structure including two or more arms each integral at both ends with the terminal body and each carrying one of a group of interfacing contact segments receiving a projecting male terminal with an interference fit. Cantilever movement of the contact segments and torsional stress in the contact arms produce firm contact between the contact segments and the inserted terminal. In other embodiments of the invention, male and female contact structures extending from the dish-shaped body are provided.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1 1 CLlNCl-IABLE TERMINALS [75] Inventor: Leonard H. Michaels, Warrenville,

[73] Assignee: Molex Incorporated, Downers Grove, Ill.

[ Notice: The portion of the term of this patent subsequent to Oct. 23, 1990, has been disclaimed.

[22] Filed: July 17, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 272,441

Related U.S. Application Data [63] Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 184,361, Sept. 28,

1971, Pat. N0. 3,768,062.

[52] U.S. C1. 339/97 R, 339/17 C, 339/220 R,

339/223 R [51] Int. C1..... 110" 9/08, H01r 15/12, H05k 01/10 [58] Field of Search 339/17, 19, 97, 95, 220,

339/221, 223, 276, 277, 256, 258, 252', 248/27; 24/255 BS, 227, 129 B Primary Examiner-Paul R. Gilliam Assistant ExaminerTerrell P. Lewis Attorney, Agent, or FirmMason, Kolehmainen, Rathbum & Wyss [57] ABSTRACT A terminal is attached by clinching to a thin circuit device such as a flexible circuit, a flexible cable or a printed circuit, and includes contact structure for establishing an electrical connection between the circuit device and other circuit components. The terminal is formed as a unitary body of conductive metal having a generally dish-shaped body portion provided with a novel clinching structure. A plurality of tangs depending from the body portion are forced or inserted through the thin circuit device and then clinched against the circuit device. The mechanical and electrical performance of the attached terminal is improved by the provision of a clinching rib toward which each tang is forced. Various types of contact structure may be used, and in certain embodiments of the invention there is provided a novel female contact structure including two or more arms each integral at both ends with the terminal body and each carrying one of a group of interfacing contact segments receiving a projecting male terminal with an interference fit. Cantilever movement of the contact segments and torsional stress in the contact arms produce firm contact between the contact segments and the inserted terminal. in other embodiments of the invention, male and female contact structures extending from the dishshaped body are provided.

15 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures CLINCII ABLE TERMINALS The present application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 184,361, filed on Sept. 28, l97l now US. Pat. No. 3768062.

The present invention relates to improved terminals adapted to be clinched to a thin circuit device such as a flexible circuit or a printed circuit.

The term thin circuit device is used herein generically to denote electrical circuit devices such as flexible circuits. printed circuit boards and cards, and other relatively thin and at least partially conductive members to which electrical connections are to be made.

Flexible circuits are formed of a thin layer or sheet of flexible. conductive metal of desired configuration sandwiched between thin insulating sheets or layers of flexible plastic or other material. The term flexible circuit as used herein is intended to encompass all such configurations including all types of more complex circuit configurations as well as relatively simple arrangements ofone or several parallel conductors nor mally referred to as flexible cables.

Due to theirthinness and flexibility, flexible circuits have advantages over conventional round wire cables and circuits. Potentially such flexible circuits could be used in place of discrete wires and wiring harnesses in many installations to reduce assembly costs, prevent miswiring errors. reduce space requirements and attain other advantages. However, adoption of flexible circuits in many instances has been prevented by the unavailability of suitable connectors or terminals for interconnecting the flexible circuits easily and reliably with other electrical components.

One known method of providing an electrical connection to a flexible circuit is to provide an uncovered region or conductive landing on the conductive layer and to clamp, press, solder or otherwise connect a conductive member against the conductive region. This approach is not satisfactory because of the cost of providing openings or landings at selected locations in the insulation layers and the cost of the connecting operations. Moreover. this approach is not well suited to automated assembly.

In order to overcome this difficulty. there have been proposed various terminal and connector devices intended to be attached to a flexible circuit for the purpose of permitting connections to other components. Devices of this type proposed heretofore have been subject to difficulties such as large size, low contact density, and the necessity for locating the terminal only at a predetermined location such as at an edge of the flexible circuit.

Printed circuits are widely used for many different types of electrical and electronic equipment. Many types of terminals have been developed for intercon necting printed circuits with other electrical components. Such terminals developed in the past have not been readily adaptable for use with different thin circuit devices and particularly with both printed circuit boards and flexible circuits.

Important objects ofthe present invention are to provide clinchable terminals for thin circuit devices of all types, and capable of being readily attached either automatically or manually; to provide a terminal which is low in profile and small in size thus permitting high contact density; to provide improved clinching structure for clinchable terminals; to provide a terminal ca pable of being utilized with either female or male contact structure; to provide a terminal adapted to be clinched to any thin circuit device including both printed circuit boards and flexible circuits; and to provide a terminal capable of economical manufacture because close production tolerances, complex shapes, and expensive materials are not required.

Briefly. the above and other objects and advantages of the present invention are attained by providing a terminal in the form of a dish-shaped body fabricated of conductive metal including a generally flat, planar portion surrounded by a rim portion. Tangs formed as integral extensions of the rim extend generally normal to the planar portion of the body. In order to attach the body to a thin circuit device, the tangs are forced or inserted through the circuit and clinched against the circuit thereby to mount the body on the circuit and to establish an electrical connection between the metallic layer of the circuit and the body of the terminal. The strength and electrical conductivity of the clinch connection are enhanced by a clinching rib depending from the planar body portion and engaging the thin circuit device opposite the surface clinched by the tangs.

In accordance with an important feature of the present invention the terminal may be used with either female or male contact structure. When male contact structure is used, a male contact extends from and is integral with the dish-shaped terminal bodyv In accordance with another feature of the invention, there is provided a novel female contact structure adapted for use with the clinchable terminal. The planar portion of the body is provided with slots or apertures defining spaced relatively narrow arms each of which is integral at both ends with the body. Contact portions shorter than the arms are formed as integral lateral projections of the arms and face centrally to define a contact space smaller than the corresponding dimension of the male terminal to which a connection is to be made. The contact structure may be adapted to receive a variety of male terminal shapes including spade terminals and round and square pin terminals. When a male terminal is received in the contact space, an interference fit with the contact portions results in displacement of the contact portions due to twisting or torsion in the parallel arms and due to cantilever action of the contact portions and a reliable, intimate electrical contact is achieved.

The invention together with the above and other objects and advantages may be best understood from the following detailed description of an embodiment of the invention shown in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. I is a perspective view illustrating a group of female terminals each constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention attached by clinching to a flexible circuit and serving to mount the flexible circuit on and to establish electrical connections to a group of male terminals associated with an electrical device;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged top plan view of one of the terminals of FIG. 1;

FIGv 3 is a sectional view taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2',

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the terminal of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of a female terminal comprising an alternative embodiment. of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a circuit arrangement including the terminal of FIG. 5 shown in section taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the terminal of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a female terminal comprising an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view ofa circuit arrangement including the terminal of FIG. 8 shown in section taken along the line 99 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the terminal of FIG. 8;

FIG. II is a perspective view of a male terminal com prising another alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line12l2 of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged. side elevational view of the terminal of FIG. 11; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a female terminal comprising another alternative embodiment of the invention.

Having reference now to the drawings, in FIGS. 1-4 there is illustrated as a first embodiment of the invention a terminal generally designated by the reference numeral and embodying features of the present invention. The terminal 20 is adapted to be attached by clinching to a flexible circuit 22 or printed circuit board or other thin circuit device, and to provide a re leasable electrical connection between the flexible circuit 22 and a male electrical terminal 24.

In accordance with important features of the present invention. the terminal 20 is provided with contact structure which in the embodiment of FIGS. l-4 comprises a female contact structure generally designated by the reference number 26 for reliably and releasably receiving the male terminal 24. The terminal 20 includes a novel clinching structure generally designated as 28 with which the terminal 20 is attached to a thin circuit device such as the flexible circuit 22. The terminal 20 has many important advantages including small size, low profile. ease and reliability of attachment to a flexible circuit or other thin circuit device, and ease of connection of the terminal with the male terminal 24.

Proceeding now to a description of the structure and use of the terminal 20, the terminal 20 preferably comprises a unitary metal body which may be formed in an automatic operation from sheet stock by means of suitable sequential press operations. The terminal 20 includes a generally flat or planar body portion 30 sur rounded by a continuous relatively narrow lip 32. The flat portion 30 and lip 32 cooperate to provide a generally dish-shaped body configuration.

Referring now more specifically to the novel clinching structure 28, the terminal 20 is provided with a plurality of projecting tangs 34 formed integrally with the lip 32 and initially extending normal to the plane of the flat portion 30 as illustrated in FIG. 4. The tangs 34 may be of any desired shape, and as illustrated are generally triangular and include pointed ends 36 to facilitate forcing of the tangs through a flexible circuit and to facilitate entry ofthe tangs into openings in other devices such as printed circuit boards. In order to permit mounting by clinching of the terminal 20 reliably and firmly to a thin circuit device, preferably the tangs are arranged in opposed pairs. Although in the illustrated arrangement there are two opposed pairs, or a total of four tangs, it should be understood that other contigu rations could be used for particular terminal sizes and shapes.

In accordance with an important feature of the invention, the clinching structure 28 includes a pair of clinching ribs 38 functioning to strengthen and reduce the electrical resistance of the clinch connection of the terminal 20 to the flexible circuit 22. The ribs 38 extend from the planar portion 30 in the same direction as lip 32 and tangs 34. and upon clinching of the tangs, the ribs 38 aid in clamping the flexible circuit 22 between the ribs 38 and tangs 34.

The flexible circuit 22 includes outer layers of insulating material 40 sandwiched around an internal conductive metallic layer 42. The circuit 22 is provided with an opening 43 over which the terminal 20 is located. Attachment of the terminal 20 to the flexible circuit 22 is accomplished by driving or forcing the tangs 34 through the flexible circuit 22 and by inwardly clinching the tangs against the surface of the flexible circuit as best shown in FIG. 3. This clinching operation can readily be carried out either manually by means of a suitable pliers tool or automatically by means of suitable equipment. Each tang 34 penetrates the full thickness of the flexible circuit 12 and is bent inwardly against an outer layer 40 of the circuit.

Referring to FIG. 3, when tangs 34 are clinched against one layer 40, the tangs overlie the edges of the clinching ribs 38 engaging the opposite layer 40. As the tangs are depressed, the flexible circuit 22 is pinched securely between the tangs and the ribs, while the ribs and/or the tangs cut into the relatively soft layers 40 and against the conductive layer 42. Thus, the tangs 34 and ribs 38 cooperate firmly to hold the terminal 20 and in addition increase the area of electrical contact between the terminal 20 and the layer 42. Inward clinching of the tangs 34 as the flexible circuit 22 is held against the edge of the lip 32 produces a slight flexing or bending of the flexible circuit as shown in somewhat exaggerated fashion in FIG. 3.

Electrical contact between the body of the terminal 20 and the metallic layer 42 also occurs at the regions where the tangs 34 pierce the flexible circuit 22. The bending or flexing of the flexible circuit created by clinching of the tangs serves to provide a resilient spring contact between the metallic layer 42 and the tangs 34 sufficient to provide a large area, low resistance path for the flow of current between the terminal 20 and the metallic layer 42. Advantageously, it is not necessary that the terminal 20 be attached to an uncovcred region of the metallic layer 42, and good contact is achieved upon both covered and uncovered regions.

The clinching ribs 38 of the terminal 20 have several important functions. The ribs increase the strength and stability of the terminal 20 by increasing its resistance to bending, twisting or other distortion. Moreover, when the terminal is forced against the flexible circuit 22 or against a printed circuit board or other thin circuit device, the edges of the ribs provide secure and stable support of the terminal. When attached to a flex ible circuit as illustrated in FIG. 3, the ribs cooperate with the tangs 34 to grip and make electrical contact with the inner conductive layer. If pressed against an exposed conductive layer of any type of thin circuit device, the rib surfaces are capable of establishing electrical contact.

Terminals constructed in accordance with the present invention and employing the novel clinching structure 28 may accommodate many types of contact structure. In the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1-4, the female contact structure generally designated as 26 is provided. More specifically, the flat portion 30 of the terminal is provided with three slots or apertures 44, 46 and 48 serving to define two elongated narrow spaced arms 50 and 52. Each arm 50 and 52 is provided with a central contact portion 54 and 56.

As best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the contact portions 54 and 56 project from the arms 50 and 52 toward one another in interfacing relation to provide a contact receiving space designated by the reference numeral 58. The contact portions 54 and 56 may be located and dimensioned to accommodate many types of male terminals with an interference fit. As illustrated in FIGS. I-4, the distance between the contact portions 54 and 56 is selected to be smaller than the correspondingdimension of the male spade or blade type terminal 24. Thus, upon entry of the terminal 24, there exists an interference fit between the terminal 24 and the contact portions 54 and 56. In order to facilitate both insertion and withdrawal of the terminal 24 and in order to permit insertion of the terminal 24 from either direction relative to the terminal 20, the contact portions are curved or rounded to present smooth curved surfaces 60 interfacing in the contact space 58.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the contact portions 54 and 56 are shorter in length than the arms 50 and 52 and are located substantially in the center of the arms 50 and 52. Thus, the arms 50 and 52 include end portions of relatively narrow width extending between the contact portions and the main body of the terminal 20. Upon insertion of the terminal 24 with an interference fit between the contact portions 54 and 56, the arms 50 and 52 twist as a torsional stress is placed upon the arms. Moreover, to some degree the contact portions 54 and 56 serve as short cantilever beams placed in bending stress by insertion of the terminal 24. The overall effect of the torsional stress and the bending stress in the arms 50 and 52 and in the contact portions 54 and 56 is to provide a firm resilient biasing of the smooth curved surfaces 60 intimately against the terminal 24. In this manner there is provided a reliable low resistance electrical connection between the contact portions 54 and 56 and the surfaces ofthe terminal 24. Moreover, this reliable electrical connection is main tained even after many insertions and withdrawals of the terminal 24. It has been found that close production tolerances are not necessary since the contact design affords substantial variation in contact spacing while still providing good electrical contact. In addition, twisting and/or skewing of the terminal 24 in the terminal 20 does not interfere with the electrical connection.

The combination of the contact structure 26 and the clinching structure 28 provides a terminal 20 which is extremely small in size. requiring only minimal area. As a result, high contact density is possible and the terminals 20 can be mounted quite close to one another. Moreover, the thickness or profile of the terminal 20 is small and adds only slightly to the thickness ofthe flexi- (ill ble circuit. In addition, the terminal 20 can be attached to any desired location on the flexible circuit 22 and does not require removal of an insulating layer 40 from the circuit.

As indicated in the somewhat diagrammatic illustration comprising FIG. 1, these several important advantages of the terminal 20 greatly facilitate the use of a flexible circuit with electrical devices or electrical equipment such as the electrical device 62 indicated in phantom in FIG. I. It should be understood that the device 62 may comprise any electrical component such as a switching device, controlling device, appliance or the like including several projecting male terminals 24 arranged in any desired configuration. The flexible circuit illustrated in FIG. 1 and designated as 64 includes discrete conductive metallic layers 66 arranged in suitable configuration for connection to the plurality of male terminals 24.

Upon insertion of the several male terminals 24 of the device 62 into the several properly located terminals 20 supported by the circuit 22, the flexible circuit is self-supported upon the terminals 24 and no additional external supporting structure is required. The arrangement of FIG. I has several important advantages as compared with conventional discrete wire connections. The entire operation may be carried out automatically, and manual miswiring errors and the like are avoided. In addition, assembly costs are reduced and the space requirements for connection to the device 62 are minimized.

Another important advantage of the terminal 20 can be seen from FIG. 1. As there illustrated, each male terminal 24 projects well beyond each terminal 20 due to the minimal thickness or low profile of the terminal 20. This makes possible further connections to each male terminal 24. For one example, there is illustrated a releasable slip-on terminal 68 engaging the exposed portion of one terminal 24 which extends beyond the corresponding terminal 20.

The novel clinching structure of the present invention can be used in connection with a large variety of contact structures. Moreover, the novel female contact structure of the present invention can be adapted to cooperate with other terminals of various types. In order to illustrate a few of the many arrangements made possible by the invention, other alternative embodiments of the invention are described with reference to FIGS. 5-7, FIGS. 8-10, FIGS. 11-13 and FIG. 14.

First referring to FIGS. 5-7, there is illustrated a terminal generally designated as and comprising one alternative embodiment of the invention. Terminal 80 is similar in many respects to terminal 20 described above, and is adapted to be used with a pin terminal 82 having a circular cross section (FIG. 6) rather than with the terminal 24. In general the terminal 80 includes a novel female contact structure generally desig nated as 84 as well as a novel clinching structure generally designated as 86.

Like the terminal 20, the terminal 80 is preferably formed in a series of automatic press operations from a unitary sheet metal blank, and includes a generally flat or planar body portion 88 surrounded by a continu' ous lip 90 giving the terminal 80 a generally dishshaped body configuration. The terminal 80 is generally circular in outline and is complementary in shape to the pin terminal 82. At spaced locations around the periphery of the terminal 80 are a group of three tangs 92 formed integrally with the lip 90 and initially extending normal to the plane of the flat portion 88. To facilitate entry of the tangs through a thin circuit device, the tangs may be generally triangular in shape and include pointed ends 94. Although illustrated with three equally spaced tangs. if desired two tangs or more than three tangs could be used.

In accordance with a feature of the invention, the clinching structure 84 includes clinching ribs 96 radially aligned with each of the tangs 92. The ribs 96 extend from the planar portion 88 in the same direction as the lip 90 and as the tangs 92.

The terminal 80 is adapted to be used with various thin circuit devices. and in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 the termi nal is illustrated as connected with a flexible circuit 98 including outer insulating layers 100 and an inner metallic conductive layer I02. The terminal 80 is attached by clinching to the flexible circuit 98 in registry with an opening I04 in the flexible circuit. Attachment of the terminal 80 is accomplished by driving or forcing the tangs 92 through the flexible circuit 98 and by inwardly clinching the tangs against the surface of the flexible circuit as best shown in 'FIG. 6. Upon clinching. the tangs overlie the edges of the clinching ribs 96, and as the tangs are depressed the flexible circuit 98 is pinched securely between the tangs and the ribs while the ribs and/or tangs cut into the relatively soft layers 40 and against the conductive layer 42 in order to cre ate electrical contact between terminal 80 and the inner metallic layer 102. Thus. it can be seen that the clinching structure 86 is similar to the clinching structure 28 associated with the above described terminal and provides the same advantages in use.

The contact structure 84 comprises one type of female contact structure which can be adapted for use with terminals of the present invention. The flat portion 88 of the terminal 80 is provided with generally arcuate slots or apertures I06, I08 and 110 defining elongated narrow spaced arms H2, H4, and 116 each provided with a central contact portion 118, I20 and 122. The contact portions I18, 120 and 122 interface and provide a generally circular contact receiving space designated by the reference numeral 124. This space is somewhat smaller than the corresponding dimension of the pin terminal 82 in order to provide an interference fit. In order to facilitate both insertion and withdrawal of the terminal 82 and to permit insertion from either direction, the contact portions are curved or rounded to present smooth curved surfaces I26 interfacing in the contact space I24.

As appears best in FIG. 5, the contact portions 118, I20 and 122 are shorter than the arms I12, I14 and H6. Upon insertion of the terminal 82 with an interference fit between the contact portions, the arms twist as a torsional stress is applied. Moreover, to some degree the contact portions serve as cantilever beams placed in bending stress by insertion ofthe terminal. The result of the combined torsional and bending stress is a firm resilient biasing of the contact surfaces 126 intimately against the terminal 82, even after multiple insertions and withdrawals.

In FIG. 6 there is illustrated a typical circuit arrangement in which the terminal 80 may be utilized. The round pin terminal 82 is staked in place in an opening in a printed circuit board 128 in a conventional mannet, and is in electrical contact with a conductive layer I carried on the board I28. The terminal 80 is attached by clinching with the flexible circuit 98, and is placed into engagement with the pin terminal 82, thereby creating a reliable low resistance electrical interconnection between the inner metallic conductive layer 102 of circuit 98 and the conductive layer 130 of the printed circuit board 128.

With reference now to FIGS. 8-10, there is illustrated yet another embodiment of the present invention in the form of a terminal generally designated as 140. In many respects the terminal is similar to the terminal 20 described above, and it is intended for use with a pin terminal 142 having a square cross section. In general the terminal 140 includes a female contact structure embodying features of the present invention and generally designated as 144, together with a clinching structure generally designated as 86 constructed in accordance with the present invention.

Like the terminal 20, the terminal 140 is preferably formed in a series of automatic press operations from a unitary sheet metal blank and includes a generally flat or planar body portion 148 surrounded by a continuous lip 150 giving the terminal a generally dish-shaped body configuration. The terminal 140 is generally square in outline and is complementary in shape to the pin terminal 142. At spaced locations around the periphery of the terminal 80 are a group of four tangs 152 formed integrally with the lip 150 and initially extending nonnal to the plane of the flat portion I48. The tangs 152 may be generally triangular in shape and include pointed ends 154. As illustrated, each side of the generally square terminal 140 is provided with a single tang I52, but more or less tangs may be used if desired.

In accordance with a feature of the invention, the clinching structure 146 includes clinching ribs 156 aligned with each of the tangs 92. The ribs 156 extend from the planar portion 148 in the same direction as the lip I50 and as the tangs [52.

The terminal 140 is adapted to be used with various varieties of thin circuit devices, and if desired may be used with a flexible circuit in a manner similar to that described above in connection with the terminal 20. To illustrate another use of the clinching structure of the present invention, in FIGS. 8 and 9 the terminal 140 is illustrated as connected to a printed circuit board 158 including an electrically insulating substrate 160 and a conductive outer layer 162.

In order to prepare the printed circuit board 158 for attachment of the terminal 140, the board is provided with a central opening 163 surrounded by a series of four slots 164 (two of which appear in FIG. 9) for receiving the tangs I52. Attachment of the terminal 140 to the printed circuit board I58 is accomplished by aligning the tangs 152 with the slots I64 and inserting the terminal until the edges of the clinching ribs I56 firmly engage the surface of the board 158. At this time, the tangs 152 are clinched against the opposite surface of the printed circuit board 158 in intimate engagement with the conductive layer I62. Subsequently. if desired, the tangs 152 may be soldered to the conductive layer I62 by conventional flow, dip or hand soldering techniques.

Terminals constructed in accordance with the present invention may be used with any type of thin circuit device including both flexible circuits and printed circuits. It will be understood that the number of and the dimensions of the tangs forming part of the clinching structure of the invention may be adjusted in accordance with such factors as the thickness of the thin circuit device, the strength of the clinched connection required. the size of the terminal, and the like.

The contact structure I44 of the terminal I40 comprises one type of female contact structure which can be adapted for use with terminals of the present invention. The flat portion 148 of the terminal I40 is provided with slots or apertures I66, I68 and 170 defining a pair of elongated narrow spaced arms 172 and 174 each provided with a central contact portion I76 and 178. The contact portions I76 and I78 face toward one another and provide a contact receiving space designated by the reference numeral I80. This space is somewhat smaller in width than the dimension of the sides of the square pin terminal 82 in order to provide an interference fit. in order to facilitate both insertion and withdrawal of the terminal I42, and to permit insertion from either direction, the contact portions are curved or rounded to present smooth curved surfaces 182 interfacing in the contact space I80.

As appears best in FIG. 8, the contact portions I76 and 178 are shorter than the arms I72 and 174. Upon insertion of the terminal 42 with an interference fit between the contact portions, the arms twist as a torsional stress is applied, Moreover, to some degree the contact portions serve as cantilever beams placed in bending stress by insertion of the terminal. The result of the combined torsional and bending stress is a firm resilient biasing of the contact surfaces 182 intimately against the terminal I42, even after multiple insertions and withdrawals.

In FIG 9 there is illustrated one typical circuit arrangement in which the terminal I40 may be utilized, The square pin terminal I42 is staked in place in an opening in a printed circuit board 184 in a conventional manner, and is in electrical contact with a conductive layer I86 carried on the board 184. The terminal I40 is attached by clinching to the printed circuit board I58. and is placed into engagement with the pin terminal I42. thereby creating a reliable low resistance electrical interconnection between the conductive layer 162 of the printed circuit board I58 and the conductive layer I86 of the printed circuit board 184.

Features of the present inventionand particularly the novel clinching structure provided in the present invention. are applicable to terminals other than terminals having female contact structure. Having reference now to FIGS. II13, there is illustrated a terminal generally designated by the reference character I90 constructed in accordance with the present invention. The terminal 190 includes a clinching structure generally designated as 192 together with a male contact structure 194.

The terminal I90 is preferably formed in a series of automatic press operations from a unitary sheet metal blank, and includes a generally flat or planar body portion I96 surrounded by a lip I98 giving the body portion of the terminal a generally dish-shaped configuration. At opposite sides of the terminal 190 are located a group of four tangs 200 formed integrally with the lip 90 and initially extending normal to the plane of the flat portion I96. To facilitate entry of the tangs through a thin circuit device, the tangs may be generally triangular in shape and include pointed ends 202. Although illustrated as including four tangs 200 arranged in opposed pairs, more or less tangs could be used as required by the particular connection desired to be obtained.

In accordance with a feature of the invention, the clinching structure I92 includes clinching ribs 204 aligned with each of the tangs 200. The ribs extend from the planar portion I96 in the same direction as the lip 198 and as the tangs 200.

The terminal I is adapted to be used with various varieties of thin circuit devices, and in FIGS. 11 and I2 the terminal is illustrated as connected with a flexible circuit 206 including outer insulating layers 208 and an inner metallic conductive layer 2I0. The terminal is attached by clinching to the flexible circuit 206 in registry with an opening 212 in the flexible circuit. Attachment of the terminal is accomplished by driving or forcing the tangs 200 through the flexible circuit 206 and by inwardly clinching the tangs against the surface of the flexible circuit as best shown in FIG. I2. Upon clinching, the tangs overlie the edges of the clinching ribs 204, and as the tangs are depressed the flexible circuit 206 is pinched securely between the tangs and the ribs while the ribs and/or tangs cut into the relatively soft layer 208 and against the conductive layer 210 in order to create electrical contact between the terminal 190 and the inner metallic layer 210. Thus, it can be seen that the clinching structure I92 is quite similar to the clinching structure 28 associated with the above described terminal 20 and provides the same advantages in use.

The contact structure 194 comprises a rolled, pin type male terminal of conventional construction and dimension. The contact structure includes a generally cylindrical rolled barrel portion 214 terminating in a tapered nose portion 216 facilitating entry of the terminal. The contact structure is formed at the same time as the remaining structure of the terminal I90 by a sequence of press operations.

With reference now to FIG. I4 there is illustrated another terminal 220 providing an example of yet another type of contact structure which may be employed with a terminal of the present invention. The terminal 220 includes a clinching structure identical to that of the terminal 190 and therefore provided with a similar reference numeral 192.

Extending laterally from the body portion 190 is a female, spring type, blade contact structure 222 adapted to be inserted and locked into an insulating housing as is common in the art. It should be appreciated that various other types of male and female contact structures may extend from the clinching structure segment of a terminal constructed in accordance with the present invention.

Although the invention has been described with reference to details of the illustrated embodiments, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the illustrated embodiments but rather is defined by the scope of the following claims.

What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

l. A terminal for interconnecting a thin circuit device and a projecting male terminal, said terminal comprising a body formed of conductive material and having a generally planar portion, a plurality of tangs extending from said body in a direction generally normal to said planar portion and adapted to be inserted through the thin circuit device from one side and clinched against the opposite side thereof, a series of apertures 1 1 in said generally planar body portion defining spaced arms each integral at both ends with said body. and interfacing contact segments on said arms spaced apart from one another and adapted to receive the projecting male terminal with an interference lit.

2. The terminal of claim 1. said contact portions being shorter than said arms to permit the portions of said arms between the contact portions and the ends of the arms to flex in torsion upon receipt of the projecting male terminal between the contact portions.

3. The terminal of claim 2, each said contact portion being integral with one arm.

4. The terminal of claim 3. each said contact portion comprising a lateral projection from said arm and being rounded in shape to present smooth receiving surfaces.

5. The terminal of claim 1, rib means extending from said planar portion is generally the same direction as said tangs and engaging said thin circuit device at said one side. said tangs after clinching overlying said rib means.

6. A terminal for connection to a thin circuit device comprising a body formed of conductive material. an electrical contact structure formed on said body. said body having a generally planar portion, a plurality of tangs extending from said planar portion in a direction generally normal to said planar portion. a rib structure extending from said planar portion in generally the same direction as said tangs. said rib structure including a rib segment generally parallel to each said tang for clamping the thin circuit device between the tang and rib segment upon insertion of the tang through and:

clinching of the tang against the thin circuit device.

7. The terminal of claim 6. said tangs being located at the periphery of said body and said rib segments being located inwardly of the periphery of said body.

8. The terminal of claim 7. said contact structure comprising a female contact formed on said planar portion centrally of said rib segments.

9. The terminal of claim '7, said contact structure comprising a contact extending laterally from said planar portion.

10. The terminal of claim 9, said contact comprising a male contact.

ll. The terminal of claim 9. said contact comprising a female contact.

12. A terminal for connection to a male contact and comprising a sheet metal body including a planar portion surrounded at least in part by a rim. at least three apertures in said planar portion defining at least two arms integral at both ends with said body. a contact segment extending laterally from each said arm. said contact segments interfacing to define a contact receiving region sized to receive the male contact with an interference fit. said contact portions being shorter than said arms to permit the portions of said arms between the contact portions and the end of the arms to flex in torsion.

13. The terminal claimed in claim 12 including two said arms generally parallel with each other for receiving a male contact with parallel sides.

14. The terminal claimed in claim 12 including three said arms arranged generally on a circle for receiving a circular male contact.

15. The terminal of claim 12, each said contact portion being integral with one arm and being rounded in shape to present a smooth contact receiving surface.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification439/422, 439/492, 439/741
International ClassificationH05K3/32, H01R4/18
Cooperative ClassificationH01R12/68, H01R9/07, H05K3/326
European ClassificationH01R12/68, H01R9/07, H05K3/32C2