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Publication numberUSRE33591 E
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 07/405,092
Publication dateMay 21, 1991
Filing dateSep 6, 1989
Priority dateJun 9, 1983
Fee statusPaid
Publication number07405092, 405092, US RE33591 E, US RE33591E, US-E-RE33591, USRE33591 E, USRE33591E
InventorsRichard J. Feeny, James A. Zilligen, Hans J. Klaeui
Original AssigneeFtz Industries, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of prefabricating an electrical connector
US RE33591 E
Abstract
An electrical connector utilizing a crimpable ferrule with an electrical insulation sleeve thereover, and a transparent outer sleeve surrounding the ferrule and insulation sleeve, with the transparent outer sleeve formed of coextruded, multi-layer material with at least one layer being oriented and heat-shrinkable, and with the inner layer being a heat-activatable adhesive. A portion of the outer sleeve is preshrunk to aid in the use thereof. The electrical connector in accordance with this invention is produced by placing a crimpable ferrule having an insulation sleeve thereon upon a first support, with the outer sleeve upon a second support, with both vertically oriented and coaxially arranged, and with the support for the outer sleeve at a lower elevation than the outer support. The arrangement is passed through a heating zone to partially shrink a portion of the outer sleeve about the insulating sleeve, and to activate an inner adhesive layer on said outer sleeve into adhesion with the insulating sleeve.
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Claims(3)
What is claimed is:
1. A process for prefabricating an electrical connector, comprising the steps of:
placing a crimpable ferrule having an insulation sleeve thereon upon a first support in a vertical orientation with respect to the longitudinal axis of said ferrule and said insulation sleeve;
placing an outer sleeve coaxially about said ferrule and insulation sleeve upon a second support, said second support being at a lower elevation than said first support, said outer sleeve formed of a coextruded, multilayer material with at least one layer thereof being oriented and heat-shrinkable, and with the inner layer thereof being a heat-activable adhesive;
passing said first and second supports horizontally through a heating zone .[.to shrink only a portion of said outer sleeve into adhesion with said insulation sleeve..]..Iadd.; and directing jets of heated air within said heating zone toward said first and second supports and outer sleeve to shrink only a portion of said outer sleeve adjacent said insulation sleeve uniformly into adhesion with said insulation sleeve so that shrinkage occurs only in the central area and not in other areas. .Iaddend.
2. The process according to claim 1 wherein said step of passing comprises rotating said first and second supports. .[.3. The process according to claim 1 wherein said step of passing comprises directing jets of heated air toward said first and second supports, and further includes a blocking of said heated air in areas where heat shrinkage is not to occur on said
outer sleeve..]. 4. The process according to claim 1 wherein an exposed electrical connector is in electrical communication with said ferrule, and wherein said exposed electrical connection is unsurrounded by said outer sleeve, said exposed electrical connector being supported above said first support during the first mentioned step of placing.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to the art of electrical connectors, and more particularly, to electrical connectors having a heat-shrinkable sleeve for securing an electrical connection.

The art of establishing electrical communications between diverse components has been actively pursued for many years. This is evidenced by the vast number of patents directed to electrical connections of one sort or another. Various crimpable devices have been devised for connecting to conductors such that a malleable ferrule is crimped about each of two conductors such that electrical communication is established between the two conductors via the ferrule.

One such device is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,151,364 to Ellis wherein a crimpable ferrule is surrounded by a heat-shrinkable sleeve with a tacky coating on the interior thereof. Another such device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,708,611 to Dinger wherein malleable metal and heat-shrinkable sleeves are again utilized for the connection of two conductors. The use of a heat-shrinkable sleeve is also disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,142,592 to Brusselmans. Another such device is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,208,788 to Siden wherein a crimpable ferrule is selectively removable from a heat-shrinkable sleeve.

U.S. Pat. Re. No. 30,817 to Loyd, et al., like the patent to Ellis discloses a coated inner layer of tacky material within a heat-shrinkable sleeve. U.S. Pat. No. 3,143,595 to Martin discloses a malleable ferrule with a heat-shrinkable sleeve of insulating polytetrafluoroethylene thereabout.

The overall object of these prior art connectors has been to effect an electrical connection between two conductors and simultaneously seal out deleterious atmospheric influences.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,855,581 to Freedom discloses an electrical mechanical connection for attachment to initially a single conductor. The freedom patent applies a nylon sleeve to a metallic ferrule by heating the ferrule and forcing the heated ferrule into the nylon sleeve. U.S. Pat. No. 2,863,132 to Sowa discloses a similar type connector utilizing a heat or solvent-shrinkable insulating sleeve on a ferrule.

While these prior art devices perform satisfactory for many purposes, there have been no totally satisfactory processes for forming prefabricated connectors, and particularly the connectors produced by the prior art have not always lent themselves to easy use by the ultimate consumer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is thus an object of this invention to provide a novel electrical connector.

It is further object of this invention to provide such an electrical connector which permits viewing of a conductor when a establishing a connection.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide a novel process of forming prefabricated electrical connectors.

These, as well as other objects, are accomplished by an electrical connector utilizing a crimpable ferrule with an electrical insulation sleeve thereover, and a transparent outer sleeve surrounding the ferrule and insulation sleeve, with the transparent outer sleeve formed of coextruded, multi-layer material with at least one layer being oriented and heat-shrinkable, and with the inner layer being a heatactivable adhesive. A portion of the outer sleeve is preshrunk to aid in the use thereof. The electrical connector in accordance with this invention is produced by placing a crimpable ferrule having an insulation sleeve thereon upon a first support, with the outer sleeve upon a second support, with both vertically oriented and coaxially arranged, and with the support for the outer sleeve at a lower elevation than the other support. The arrangement is passed through a heating zone to partially shrink a portion of the outer sleeve about the insulating sleeve, and to activate an inner adhesive layer on said outer sleeve into adhesion with the insulating sleeve.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 of the drawings illustrates a butt connector in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 2 of the drawings illustrates a connector terminal in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 3 of the drawings illustrates a connector similar to that of FIG. 2 in another embodiment.

FIG. 4 of the drawings illustrates a process of producing a connector in accordance with this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In accordance with this invention it has been found that a heat-shrinkable outer sleeve with superior transparency properties and with a heat-activable adhesive on the interior thereof possesses superior use characteristics. It has further been found that these characteristics exist with both butt connectors and with connector terminals. It has additionally been found that such connectors may be prefabricated in a highly efficient and predictable manner superior to that heterofore possessed by prior art techniques. Various other advantages will become apparent from the following description giving with reference to the various figures of drawing.

FIG. 1 of the drawings illustrates a connector 1 in accordance with this invention. The connector illustrated here is a butt splice connector which comprises an inner metallic ferrule 3, an insulating sleeve 5, and a transparent outer sleeve 7.

The ferrule 3 in accordance with this invention may be any of the metallic materials heretofore utilized. It is preferred, however, to utilize annealed copper of aluminum due to the malleability and electrical conductivity thereof.

The insulating sleeve 5 is preferably formed of nylon and is attached to the metallic ferrule by conventional techniques wherein a ferrule is force fitted into the insulated sleeve 5. The insulating sleeve extends past both extremities of the ferrule 3 as illustrated with the butt splice connector 1 of FIG. 1. An alternative insulating material is polyvinylchloride. In either event, it is preferred that the insulating sleeve be at least semi-transparent to permit viewing of a conductor location while crimping, so as to assure good electrical contact.

The outer sleeve 7 is preshrunk about the insulating sleeve and adhered thereto by a process to be described below. The outer sleeve 7 is transparent giving an undistorted view of the insulating sleeve 5 and ferrule 3 to thus greatly facilitate use of the device since the user may visually observe the insertion of a conductor into the ferrule 3. In accordance with this invention it has been found that this transparency, together with other desirable characteristics, is brought about by use of a coextruded multilayer material with at least one layer thereof being oriented in heat-shrinkable, and with the inner layer being a heatactivable adhesive. Such transparency in a multi-layer structure is brought about by coextrusion of the various layers therein. Such coextrusion is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,354,506 which is herewith incorporated by reference. Prior art structures which are coated rather than coextruded possess surface irregularities as well as inclusions and occlusions at the interface between layers to distort the view therethrough and otherwise adversely affect the transparency thereof. The heat-activable adhesive in preferably formed of a copolymer of ethylene and vinylacetate, and becomes self-adhesive at a temperature at which the oriented layer shrinks.

The oriented layer is preferably formed of a cross-linked polymer of ethylene. Such cross-linked polymer may be formed by the process described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,741,253 which is herewith incorporated by reference.

FIG. 2 of the drawings illustrates a connector in the form of a connector terminal 10. The connector terminal comprises a crimpable ferrule 13, an insulating sleeve 15, and an outer sleeve 17. All structures just described with respect to FIG. 2 may be identical to the counterparts described in FIG. 1. The insulating sleeve 15 in the FIG. 2 embodiment may with equal preference be formed of polyvinylchloride. The FIG. 2 embodiment in the form of a terminal possesses an exposed connector 19 which may be utilized for a mechanical connection. The exposed connector 19 is illustrated here in the form of a "U" shape, but may also possess other shapes heretofore utilized for terminals, such as an annular shape. The exposed connector 19 is preferably integral with ferrule 13. Like the FIG. 1 embodiment, the outer sleeve 17 of FIG. 2 is preshrunk about insulating sleeve 15 by a process described below.

While the FIG. 2 embodiment illustrates an exposed connector 19, it is understood that connector 19 may be covered by insulating sleeve 15 as has been conventionally practiced in the art.

The connector terminal 10 of FIG. 2 may on some occasions comprise an additional sleeve interposed between the ferrule 13 and insulating sleeve 15 which tends to funnel toward the opening 21 of ferrule 13 so as to guide a conductor into the ferrule. The outer sleeve 17, however, possesses the same transparency of the outer sleeve 7 of FIG. 1 so that the user thereof may determine whether the conductor has been properly inserted into ferrule 13 and the appropriate location for placement of a crimp in order to assure good electrical contact.

A view of a connector 51 having an interposed sleeve 53 is illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawings. The interposed sleeve 53 is preferably of seamless brass and funnel shaped for several purposes. The seamless configuration prevents a seamed ferrule 55 from opening. Additionally, interposed sleeve may also be crimped about insulation 57 surrounding conductor 59. Such additional crimp relieves stress from conductor 59 at the point of crimp and absorbs shock during use. Conductor 59 is shown here as a multistrand conductor.

FIG. 4 of the drawings schematically illustrates a process of forming the connectors in accordance with this invention. A carrier 30 is movable through a heating zone. As illustrated, a support 31 supports ferrule 3 and insulating sleeve 5. The ferrule and insulating sleeve assembly is vertically oriented about its longitudinal axis. A second support 33 vertically below support 31 supports outer sleeve 7 coaxially about ferrule and insulating sleeve 5. Support 31 emanates from the center of support 33. Support 33 rides upon carrier 30. The process is carried out by appropriately positioning the components upon first support 31 and second support 33. The supports with components theron are moved through a heating zone 37 which comprises a means for heating 39, preferably in the form of radiant heating means. Radiant heating means 39 may be supplemented by forced air to effect shrinkage of outer sleeve 7 in appropriate locations such as in the central area thereof. A shield such as 41 may be utilized to direct heat flow. Carrier 30 may be moved through a heating zone having heating means such as 39 and shield 41 on both sides thereof to promote uniform shrinkage of outer sleeve 7. Alternatively, carrier 30 may be rotated during movement through the heating zone with heating means on one or both sides thereof. Support 33 may be rotated during movement to promote uniform shrinkage of outer sleeve 7 about ferrule 3 and insulating sleeve 5.

In a like manner, the connector in the form of a connector terminal of FIG. 2 is prefabricated by the same process depicted in FIG. 4 of the drawings. In fact, the same supports utilized to produce the butt connector of FIG. 1 may be utilized for the connector terminal of FIG. 2. In this event, the exposed connector 19 is oriented above first support 31 such that the ferrule 13 and insulating sleeve 15 rest upon support 31. A shorter outer sleeve 17 is utilized and is shrunk so as to terminate near the point where exposed conductor emanates from insulating sleeve 15, as at 20.

The electrical connector, in accordance with this invention, possesses superior characteristics once installed by crimping the metal ferrule in any of the embodiments about a conductor. Once electrical communication is established between a conductor and the metallic ferrule, the outer heat-shrinkable sleeve is heated to activate the shrinking process about the conductor and any insulation thereon. The adhesive interlayer upon heat-shrinkage adheres to the electrical conductor and any insulation, which may be on the conductor to seal out deleterious atmospheric influences. The adhesive interlayer not only seals out atmospheric influences, but also adds to the overall mechanical stability of the electrical connection.

It is thus seen in accordance with this invention a greatly improved connector has been provided wherein a multi-layer outer sleeve possesses high transparency to aid in the use thereof, as well as possessing a multi-layer structure so as to provide both heat-shrinkable orientation and adhesive characteristics. A novel process has been provided for the prefabrication thereof. As various modifications will become apparent to those in the art from a reading of the above description, such modification are within the scope of this invention as fall within the spirit and scope of the following appended claims.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5369225 *Apr 20, 1993Nov 29, 1994Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing CompanyWire connector
US5393932 *Oct 29, 1993Feb 28, 1995Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing CompanyWire connector
US6454598Sep 28, 2001Sep 24, 2002Shawcor Ltd.Ionomer-insulated electrical connectors
US6658735 *Sep 16, 2002Dec 9, 2003Sumitomo Wiring Systems, Ltd.Crimping terminal for connection between electric cables
US7196268 *Aug 17, 2004Mar 27, 2007Ilsco CorporationSelf sealing electrical connector
Classifications
U.S. Classification156/85, 29/877, 174/DIG.8, 264/342.00R, 29/235, 29/883, 264/230
International ClassificationH01R4/20, H01R4/72, B29C61/06
Cooperative ClassificationY10T29/4921, H01R4/20, H01R4/72, Y10T29/53657, Y10T29/4922, B29C61/0616
European ClassificationB29C61/06B2, H01R4/72
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 15, 1993FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
May 20, 1997REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed