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Publication numberUS3899236 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 12, 1975
Filing dateJun 24, 1974
Priority dateJun 24, 1974
Also published asCA1025967A1
Publication numberUS 3899236 A, US 3899236A, US-A-3899236, US3899236 A, US3899236A
InventorsSantos Anthony J
Original AssigneeAmerace Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Electrical connector
US 3899236 A
Images(2)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Santos ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR [75] Inventor: Anthony J. Santos, Edison, NJ.

[73] Assignee: Amerace Corporation, New York,

[22] Filed: June 24, 1974 21 Appl.No.:482,l49

Primary Examinerloseph l-l. McGlynn Attorney, Agent, or Firm-S. Michael Bender; R. A. Craig; Martin Sachs Aug. 12, 1975 [5 7] ABSTRACT A solderless electrically insulated connector has an insulating body including a base portion and a cover portion. The cover portion includes a depressible member and a resilient metal contact element fixedly retained therein for movement with respect thereto. The base portion is longitudinally grooved to accept insulated electrically conductive wires therein. Both the base portion and the cover portion are provided with a first locking means for locking the base and cover portions together. During installation, movement of the depressible member causes the contact element to be forced into the base portion thereby causing the resilient metal contact element to make a common electrically conductive contact with each of the wires inserted therein. The contact element is retained in its depressed position by tangs provided thereon thereby providing a second locking means between the cover and base portions.

13 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTED AUG 1 2 I975 SHEET Figur 2 ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to electrical connectors and, more particularly, to insulated connectors for interconnecting insulated electrically conductive wires.

Solderless connectors of which we are aware generally comprise multiple elements, e.g., an insulating body having a separable cover and base portion, and a separable contact element; or are of the clamshell type wherein the cover and base portions are hinged together with a contact element affixed therein, e.g., molded within the cover or the base portion. The separable-element connector relies only upon the insulating base and cover portions to retain and lock the wires therein and maintain the electrically conductive contact element in position. In addition, the separableelement connector suffers from the further disadvantage of having its separable constituent elements susceptible to being lost or misplaced thus rendering it inconvenient during installation thereof.

The clamshell type connector also generally relies upon the insulating base and cover portions to retain and lock the wires and the contact element in position. Other known forms of connectors rely only upon the friction between the base and cover portions of the insulating body or housing for retaining them together.

In each of these prior connectors the electrical contact element is generally forced into engagement with the conductive cores of the wires being connected together by means of a conventional pliers, for example. The contact element includes means for cutting through the insulation on the wires to be connected together, and for forming an electrically conductive path or bridge between the cores of the wires. Frequently, in the process of cutting through the insulation, the contact element distorts the base portion of the housing so that when the cover portion is applied or closed the single locking means common to the base and cover portion of the connector unit fails to make a properly secure lock. Thus, although an electrically conductive connection is made, it may easily come apart or be come exposed, thereby causing a danger to personnel or providing a low resistance leakage path to ground. In addition, in the hinged or clamshell type connector, once the hinge is broken by accident or by re-use, the contact element becomes exposed and the connector must be scrapped.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Against the foregoing background, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved solderless electrically insulated connector.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a solderless electrically insulated connector which having increased electrical leakage paths when the connector is closed and securely locked.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a solderless electrically insulated connector in which the electrical connection between wires inserted therein is made after the insulating housing of the connector has been securely locked in a closed position.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a solderless electrically insulated connector having a base portion and a cover portion including a depressible electrical contact element therein in which the electrical contact element is provided with means for independently locking the base and cover portions together.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing objects and advantages the solderless electrical connector of the present invention comprises, in brief, an insulating body member having first and second portions, the body member including first means for locking the first and second portions together. The first portion includes means for receiving a plurality of insulated elec trically conductive wires therein. The second portion includes a contact element movable between a first position and a second position for providing common electrically conductive engagement with a plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires positioned within the receiving means, the contact element including means for fixedly engaging the first portion upon movement thereof to said second position after said first and second portions have been locked together by the first locking means, thereby providing a second means for locking the first portion and the second portion together.

Still other objects and advantages as well as a more complete understanding of the present invention will be more apparent from a study of the following detailed description of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is an exploded perspective view of the electrical connector of the present invention shown in an open condition;

FIG. 2. is an enlarged top view of the connector depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the connector taken substantially along line 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the connector in a closed condition with the depressible cover member in a first or extended position, taken substantially along line 4-4 of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the connector in a closed condition with the depressible cover member in a second or depressed position, taken substantially along the line 5-5 of FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Turning now to FIG. 1, there is shown the electrical connector of the present invention generally indicated by reference numeral 10. Connector 10 includes a slotted, relatively thin, resilient flat metallic contact element l2 and an insulating body member 14. In the preferred embodiment the body member 14 is a unitary structure and includes a cover portion 16 and a base portion 18 integrally joined together by a contiguous longitudinally extending hinge 20 along the full length of one side of the connector. The insulating body member is preferably molded in a known manner from a synthetic polymeric material, e.g., high-impact polypropylene, although other suitable materials having adequate insulating and strength characteristics upon being molded or otherwise formed, may be employed as will occur to those skilled in the art. The hinge of the preferred embodiment may be formed with reduced thickness as shown in FIG. 3 so as to provide increased flexibility facilitating repeated opening and closing of the cover portion 16 relative to the base portion 18.

The upper surface of the base portion 18, as best viewed in FIGS. 1 and 2, includes two parallel, longitudinally extending wire-receiving grooves or channels 22 and 24 adapted to receive therein a pair of insulated wires 26 and 28, having therein electrically conductive cores and 27, respectively. The grooves 22, 24 are spaced from one another to define a dividing wall portions 25 extending the full length of the base portion 18. Groove 22 as shown in FIG. 1, also extends the full length of the base portion 18. Groove 24, however, is provided with a wire-stop wall or abutment 30 proximate one end thereof which functions to insulate and provide a stop for the terminal end of wire 28 inserted therein. The grooves 22 and 24 include thin partitions 32, 34 and 36 which are adapted to grasp the insulation of the wires 26 and 28 inserted therein, thereby retaining them in position within their respective grooves. A transverse slot 38 is provided in the base portion 18 and is preferably centrally disposed with respect to the opposed longitudinal extremities of the base portion. The transverse slot 38 extends through each of the grooves 22 and 24 as well as through the wall portion 23 between the grooves 22 and 24 (see FIGS. 2 and 4) and functions as a guide for the contact element 12 when the connector is being installed, as will be more fully explained hereinafter.

Partially circumscribing one lateral end 39 of the transverse slot 38 proximate the non-hinged sidewall 40 of the base portion 18, is an arcuate U-shaped groove 42. Groove 42 is adapted to receive therein a complementary U-shaped projection 44 provided on the cover portion 16 when the cover portion 16 is closed relative to the base portion thereby functioning to increase the length of the leakage path between the contact element 12 and the exterior of the connector when the contact element 12 is depressed into the transverse slot 38 during installation of the connector as will be explained below.

A pair of spaced, hook-shaped protrusions 46 are formed within sidewall 40 of base portion 18 to function as one portion of a first locking means, the other portion of which comprises a pair of spaced, complementary, hook-shaped protrusions 48 extending from the inner surface 49 of the depending sidewall 51 of cover portion 16. Hook-shaped portions 48 are adapted to cooperate with the hook-shaped protrusion 46 to securely lock the cover portion to the base portion when the former is in a closed condition with re spect to the latter.

In accordance with the invention, and with reference to FIGS. 2-5, the cover portion 16 is provided with an elongated, transversely oriented depressible member 50. The member 50 is integral with respect to the cover portion 16 by virtue of it being joined to the cover portion by a continuous encircling membrane or flexible web 52, extending between the member 50 and the interior wall surface 53 of a central recess 55 disposed within the cover portion 16. The flexible web 52 has a reduced thickness relative to that of the remaining cover portion 16 so as to facilitate displacement of the depressible member 50 relative to the cover portion 16, that is, between a first non-depressed position as shown in FIG. 4, and a second depressed position as shown in FIG. 5. It will be noted that in the second or depressed position of member 50 as shown in FIG. 5, the flexible web 52 assumes a taut condition and the depressible member 50 is seated substantially within the central recess 55 such that its upper surface does not extend beyond the upper surface of the cover portion.

The depressible member 50 preferably is provided with a narrow transverse groove 54, which is adapted to receive and retain the contact element 12 therein.

The contact element 12 which preferably is fabricated from a suitable resilient metallic material such as, for example, phosphorbronze, brass, or copper so as to provide good electrical conductivity, is provided with slots 56 and 58 thereby forming leg portions 60, 62 and 64. The transverse or lateral width dimension of each slot 56, 58 is chosen to be slightly less than the diameter of the electrically conductive cores 25, 27 in each of the wires 26, 28 to be received within grooves 22 and 24 and for this reason, leg portions 60 and 64 are adapted to flex slightly in an outwardly or lateral direction when the contact element is forced into engagement with the wire cores 25, 27 as will be more fully explained. It will be appreciated'that the slots 56 and 58 are in alignment with grooves 22 and 24, respectively, when the cover portion 16 is closed relative to base portion 18. The leg portions 60, 62 and 64 are generally parallel to one another and are provided with sharpened edges along the length of the slots 56 and 58 to facilitate cutting into the insulation on the wires 26 and 28 during the installation of the connector as will be more fully explained below. It will be observed further that the edges of slot 58 are slightly bent out of the plane of the contact element toward the wire-stop wall 30, as shown in FIG. 2, thereby providing means for axially retaining the insulated wire 28 received within groove 24, i.e., for resisting pullout forces exerted on the wire in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the wire. As best seen in FIGS. 1, and 3 through 5, the contact element 12 preferably is provided with a first pair of tangs 66 adjacent the upper edge thereof, and a second pair of tangs 58 located on the outer edges of leg portions 60 and 64. The first pair of tangs 66 is adapted to fixedly retain the contact element 12 within the transverse groove 54; hence, within the depressible member 50. It is contemplated that the contact element 12 will be inserted in groove 54 when the connector is manufactured and that the cover portion 16 and the base portion 18 will be integrally molded as a unitary structure so that a mechanical installing the connector will not have to be concerned with missing or loose elements at the time of the installation thereof.

It will be noted that the upper surface 70 of depressible member 50 is preferably curved slightly to conveniently mate with the jaws of a conventional pliers, I

which latter may be used to depress the member 50 during the installation of the connector.

When the cover portion 16 of the connector is closed upon the wires 26 and 28 received within grooves 22 and 24 of the base portion 18 and locked relative to the base portion by engagement of the cooperating protrusions 46 and 48, depressible movement of the member 50 and its contact element 12 from its first position (FIG. 4) to its second position (FIG. 5) will cause the sharpened edges along the length of slots 56, 58 to cut through the electrical insulation of the wires 26 and 28 and come into intimate engaging contact with the electrically conductive cores and 27 thereof, thereby completing an electrically conductive path between the cores 25 and 27. Simultaneously, the lower pair of tangs 68 of resilientcontact element 12 will be forced respectively into embedding engagement with the opposed walls 39, 41 of transverse slot 38 by the action of the electrically conductive cores 25 and 27 of wires 26 and 28, causing the outer leg portions 60, 64 to flex laterally thus fixedly retaining the contact element 12 relative to the base portion 18. Since the flexible web 52 is made taut when the member 50 is depressed to its second position as explained above and as shown in FIG. 5, the action of the second pair of tangs 68 engaging the base portion 18 serves to define a second locking means securely locking the cover portion 16 to the base portion 18. That is, the cover portion 16 will be fixedly retained relative to the base portion 18 through the first pair of tangs 66 embedded within the member 50, the second pair of tangs 68 embedded within the base portion 18, and the taut connection provided by the flexible web 52 between the member 50 and the cover portion 16.

In addition to bending the cutting edges along slot 58 slightly out of the plane of the element 12, as described above, further means for restraining the wire 28 received within groove 24 may be provided. These may include a pair of obliquely extending wall portions 72 extending toward the wire stop-wall which are adapted to grasp the insulation of the wire 28 inserted into groove 24; and a protrusion 74 which may be provided on the inside surface of cover portion 16 as shown in FIG. 2 and which is adapted to exert holding pressure on the wire 28 inserted into groove 24 when the cover portion 16 is closed and locked relative to the base portion 18.

It will be noted by those skilled in the molding art that the rectangular shaped through-apertures 76 and 78 depicted in FIGS. 1, 3, and 5 are caused by suitable inserts placed in the mold for the purpose of facilitating the formation of the hooked-shaped protrusions 48 in the cover portion 16 during manufacture'of the connector 10.

The connector of the present invention may be employed to form an electrically conductive connection between the two electrically conductive cores 25 and 27 of wires 26 and 28, respectively, as follows. At the time of installation the connector 10 is normally in the completely opened condition, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 and the contact member 12 is retained within transverse groove 54, as mentioned earlier. The wire 26, having an electrically conductive core 25, to which a connection is to be made, is inserted into groove 22. A second wire 28, having an electrically conductive core 27, is inserted into groove 24 and pushed forward until its free or terminal end abuts against stop-wall 30. The insulation need not be removed from the wires 26, 28. The cover portion 16 of the connector 10 is then closed relative to the base portion 18 and locked together via the first locking means comprising the cooperatively engaging hook-shaped protrusions 46 and 48. Next, a downwardly directed force is applied against the depressible member 50 sufficient to cause it to be movably displaced from its -first extended or nondepressed position (FIG. 4) to its second, depressed position as shown in FIG. 5. As explained above, such movement causes the sharpened edges of slots 56 and 58 of contact element 12 to cut through the electrical insulation of the wires 26 and 28 and make intimate electrically conductive contact with the electrically conductive cores 25 and 27 thereof whereas substantially simultaneously, resilient leg portions 60 and 64 of contact element 12 are caused to flex in an outward or lateral direction firmly embedding the tangs 68 within the oppposed end walls 39 and 41 of transverse slot 38 thereby fixedly retaining the contact element 12 within the base portion 18 and providing a second independent locking means between the cover portion 16 and the base portion 18 of body member 14.

From the foregoing, it will now be appreciated that the present invention discloses a relatively inexpensive, solderless, electrically insulated connector of relatively simple, but rugged construction. Although a preferred embodiment has been described above, it will be understood that many variations and modifications hereof may occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the principles of the invention. For example, the preferred embodiment described above is useful for making a tap connection between an insulated wire extending completely through the housing and at least one other insulated wire terminating within the housing. The connector 10 of the present invention may obviously be modified by eliminating the abutment or wire stopwall 30 located within groove 24, thus providing an electrical connector suitable for interconnecting at least a pair of electrically conductive wires extending completely through the body member 14. Other modifications or variations will occur to those of ordinary skill in the art. Accordingly, it is desired that the subject invention be limited only by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Iclaim:

1. Electrical connector apparatus comprising:

a. an insulating body member including a first portion and a second portion, said first portion including means for receiving a plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires therein; and

b. a contact element in said second portion movable between a first position and a second position relative to said second portion for providing common electrically conductive engagement with said plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires positioned within said receiving means, said contact element including means for fixedly engaging said first portion upon movement thereof to said second position thereby providing means for locking said first portion and said second portion together upon said movement of said contact element to said second position.

2. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said receiving means comprises a plurality of grooves each having means therein adapted to cooperate with said insulated wires for retaining said wires within said grooves.

3. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said retaining means comprises a pair of opposed obliquely extending wall portions disposed in a direction resisting longitudinal withdrawal of said wire v I engaged thereby.

4. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said body member includes separate means for locking said first and second portions together independent of said last-mentioned means.

5. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said first and second portions are connected together by a longitudinally extending integral hinge along one side thereof and said separate locking means comprises cooperating hook-shaped protrusions provided on said first and second portions along the side opposite said one side.

6. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said second portion includes a depressible member adapted to retain said contact element therein, and means joining said depressible member to said second portion for enabling said contact element to be moved from said first position to said second position.

7. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 6 wherein said joining means comprises a flexible web joined between said depressible member and said second portion.

8. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 7 wherein said second portion includes a recess therein defining the path of movement of said depressible member between said first position and said second position, said web being joined between said depressible member and the interior wall of said recess, said contact element being retained in a groove disposed in the lowermost portion of said depressible member, whereby in said first position said uppermost portion of said member is adapted to extend above the upper surface of said second portion and in said second position said depressible member is adapted to be seated within said recess with its said uppermost portion substantially flush with the upper surface of said second portion.

9. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 8 wherein saidcontact element includes a plurality of tangs for fixedly retaining at least a portion of said depressible member in said groove.

10. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 9 wherein said contact element includes a plurality of slots therein for engaging the conductive cores of a like plurality of wires positioned within said receiving means and a second plurality of tangs provided on said contact element and defining said means for fixedly engaging said first portion upon movement of said contact element to said second position.

1 1. Electrical connector apparatus according to claim 10 wherein the longitudinally opposed edges of at least one of said slots are slightly bent out of the plane of the contact element in a direction resisting longitudinal withdrawal of said wire engaged thereby.

12. A solderless electrical connector comprising:

a..-a unitary insulating body member having a cover portion and a base portion interconnected by an integral longitudinal hinge along one side thereof, said body member including a first locking means for locking said cover portion relative to said base portion, said base portion having internal longitudinally extending wire receiving grooves therein, said cover portion including a depressible member; and

b. a resilient slotted contact element for making electrically conductive contact with they electrically conductive cores of insulated wires inserted within said longitudinal grooves, said contact element being provided with tangs located on the upper and lower portions of the outer edges thereof, said upper tangs fixedly retaining said contact element within said depressible member and said lower tangs fixedly retaining said contact element within said base portion when said contact element is caused to engage said insulated wires thereby providing electrical conductive contact between the cores of said wires and providing a second locking means between said cover and base portions.

13. The method of making and electrically insulating a solderless connection between a plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires using connector apparatus comprising an insulation body member including first and second portions, said body member including first means for locking said first and second portions together, said first portion including means for receiving said plurality of electrically conductive wires therein, and a contact element in said second portion movable between a first position and a second position for providing common electrically conductive engagement with said plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires positioned within said receiving means, said contact element including means for fixedly engaging said first portion upon movement thereof to said second position to provide a second means for locking said first portion and said second portion together, said method comprising:

a. positioning a plurality of insulated electrically conductive wires within said receiving means;

b. actuating said first locking means to retain said insulated electrically conductive wires in position with said contact element in its said first position; and

0. moving said contact element to its said second position to actuate said second locking means and simultaneously provide said common electrically conductive engagement among said plurality of electrically conductive wires.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification439/402
International ClassificationH01R4/24
Cooperative ClassificationH01R4/2433
European ClassificationH01R4/24B3C1B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 16, 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: BUCHANAN CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS, INC., C/O IDEAL IN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:AMERACE CORPORATION, A CORP. OF DE.;REEL/FRAME:005443/0084
Effective date: 19900727
Aug 16, 1990AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: AMERACE CORPORATION, A CORP. OF DE.
Effective date: 19900727
Owner name: BUCHANAN CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS, INC., C/O IDEAL IN
Aug 6, 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: MANUFACTURERS HANOVER TRUST COMPANY, NEW YORK
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:AMERACE CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:005465/0013
Effective date: 19900731