|Publication number||USRE40736 E1|
|Application number||US 11/950,855|
|Publication date||Jun 16, 2009|
|Filing date||Dec 5, 2007|
|Priority date||Jun 25, 2004|
|Also published as||CA2571591A1, CN101124107A, EP1786653A2, US6971691, US20050285417, WO2006012223A2, WO2006012223A3|
|Publication number||11950855, 950855, US RE40736 E1, US RE40736E1, US-E1-RE40736, USRE40736 E1, USRE40736E1|
|Inventors||David W. Heatherington, Scott C. Glasgow, Bruce W. Lyons|
|Original Assignee||Shape Corp.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (48), Referenced by (13), Classifications (11), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This is a continuation-in-part of co-assigned application Ser. No. 10/877,326, filed Jun. 25, 2004 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,986,536, entitled VEHICLE BUMPER BEAM, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety.
The present invention relates to vehicle bumper beams, and more particularly relates to a bumper beam having a front section of continuous shape and a back section attached to the front section to make a tubular beam of changing cross-sectional size.
Two basic types of bumper beams often used on modern vehicles are tubular sections (also called closed sections, such as “B” or “D” shapes) and open sections (such as “C” sections or “hat” sections). The tubular sections and also the open sections each have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, from an engineering standpoint, bumper beams made from tubular sections are inherently more rigid and capable of absorbing and/or transmitting more energy (especially based on a strength-to-weight ratio) on impact due to the way that impact stresses are distributed around and along the tubular shapes. In contrast, open sections tend to prematurely buckle during impact since the “legs” of the open sections will spread apart, kink, and quickly lose shape upon impact. However, open sections tend to allow more styling and product variation. There is a concurrent strong desire to use high-strength materials for bumpers because it reduces weight while providing higher impact strengths (as compared to lower strength materials). However as higher and higher-strength materials are used, it becomes more and more difficult to form raw sheet stock into the desired beam shape, because the higher-strength materials are harder and harder on tooling and the presses that run them. This is especially true for stamping presses and stamping dies, where the dies move perpendicularly against a sheet to form the sheet. Roll-forming processes have the ability to form higher-strength materials than stamping processes, however roll-forming processes are limited to producing a constant cross-sectional shape along a length of the roll-formed parts.
Roll-forming is a particularly attractive manufacturing method because dimensionally-accurate bumper beams can be mass-produced at good production speeds, with minimal manual labor, and using high-strength materials, yet the tooling can be made more durable and long-lasting than stamping dies when used to shape ultra-high-strength steels and high-strength low-alloy steels. For example, Sturrus U.S. Pat. No. 5,092,512 and Sturrus U.S. Pat. No. 5,454,504 disclose roll-forming apparatus of interest. However, as noted above, a drawback to roll-forming is that the roll-forming process can only produce a constant cross section over the entire length of the part. Further, the material thickness and material strength of the raw coil stock cannot change around a given cross section, since the material begins as a unitary coil of material. Regarding the constant cross section produced by roll-forming, this often does not satisfy current styling trends which require variations in cross-sectional size along a length of the beam due to packaging space over the vehicle frame rails (versus the packaging space available at a centerline of the vehicle), or which require a longitudinal sweep with an increased curvature at corners of the vehicle (e.g. at the fenders). These styling conditions require roll-formed tubular parts to be end-formed or taper cut at their ends by secondary processes. But these secondary processes are expensive because end-forming and/or taper cutting the parts is not easy (particularly when they are made of high-strength materials). Also, the process of end-forming and/or taper cutting require more than one secondary process. For example, taper cutting requires some sort of cap to cover the sharp edges that result from the cutting process, which must be accurately fixtured and then welded in place. Alternatively, the ends of the tubular sections may be reformed to better fit functional and aesthetic styling concerns (see Sturrus U.S. Pat. No. 5,306,058), but it is difficult to accurately and consistently deform the ends, thus potentially leading to unacceptable dimensional variations and high tooling wearout.
Beams made from C-shaped open sections can be formed to a desired three-dimensional shape, including non-uniform cross sections along their length, but their open section is inherently not as strong as a tubular shape during an impact. Specifically, the open sections include rearwardly-extending legs that tend to prematurely spread apart or otherwise collapse upon impact. This greatly reduces the beam's overall sectional impact strength and reduces its ability to consistently and predictably absorb energy. By stabilizing the legs of the front section, the front sections can be made much stronger and more energy-absorbing. This is sometimes done in prior art by adding reinforcements such as bulk heads, flat plating, and/or bridging between the legs to prevent the legs from prematurely spreading during an impact. (See
To summarize, packaging and performance requirements of bumper beams on vehicles and related vehicle front end (or rear end) components often increase the complexity of a bumper design since they result in the addition of other structural components, which might include bridges, bulkheads, radiator supports, fascia supports, fascia, and the like. Or they may require end treatment of the bumper beam to include end-forming or taper cutting, so as to form an increased angle at an end of the bumper in front of the fenders. This increase in complexity results in an increase in cost due to substantial secondary processing. It also results in difficult tradeoffs between function and styling criteria. It is desirable to provide a design and process that overcomes the drawbacks of constant cross section roll-formed sections, yet that takes advantage of roll-forming processes as a way of forming ultra-high-strength materials for use in bumper beams, as discussed below. Also, it is desirable to provide design flexibility that allows tuning of the bumper beam in the bumper development program, which can be very important for timing and investment reasons. At the same time, it is desirable that the ultra-high-strength steels be an option for components so that the bumper beam can be designed for optimally high strength-to-weight ratios. Still further, even though ultra-high-strength steels are used, it is desired that the arrangement allow for some use of less expensive materials and of materials that allow the use of relatively simple forming and bending tooling to minimize investment while still being able to form the ultra-high-strength materials without expensive tooling and without having tooling quickly wear out. In other words, it is desirable to utilize stamped or molded reinforcing components where possible and in combination with high-strength materials where it makes practical sense to do so.
An additional problem is that ultra-high-strength materials are difficult to form in stamping presses, or at least it is preferable not to do so. Specifically, those skilled in the art prefer not to stamp materials such as ultra-high-strength steels (UHSS) because the UHSS material is so strong that it is hard to form without cracking and that it damages or quickly wears out the stamping dies and the stamping press.
Thus, a bumper beam having the aforementioned advantages and solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
In one aspect of the present invention, a bumper beam for a vehicle includes a metal front section of higher material strength, the front section including a front wall and upper and lower walls defining a rearwardly-facing C-shaped cross section and a rearwardly open cavity. The beam further includes a metal back section of lesser material strength, the back section including a rear wall and top and bottom walls defining a forwardly-facing C-shaped cross section and a forwardly open cavity. The upper and lower walls of the front section are positioned within the forwardly open cavity of the back section and telescopingly engaging the top and bottom walls, respectively, of the back section and are secured thereto at top and bottom attachment locations that are subject to shearing forces upon impact. The front section and rear section combine to form a tubular section of changing cross-sectional size that, when impacted, provides significant impact strength, even if one or more of the attachment locations shearingly break loose.
In another aspect of the present invention, a bumper beam is provided that is adapted to withstand an impact force directed along a predetermined fore-aft direction of impact against a vehicle. The bumper beam includes a front section including a front wall and top and bottom walls defining a constant U-shaped cross section having a rearwardly open cavity, the front section being elongated in a direction perpendicular to the predetermined fore-aft direction of impact, the front section being made from a material selected from a group consisting of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel and ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) material. The bumper beam further includes a back section fit against and attached to a rear side of the front section, the back section having a length close to a length of the front section and including a first longitudinal portion that extends between the top and bottom walls to define a first shape having a first depth dimension, and including second longitudinal portions on opposing sides of the first portions that extend between the top and bottom walls to define a second shape having a second depth dimension, at least one of the first and second shapes being tubular, the back section being made from a material selected from a group consisting of ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) material, high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel, aluminum, and polymeric material. The front and back sections have attachment flanges that telescopingly overlap in a direction parallel to the predetermined fore-aft direction of impact. The attachment flanges are secured together at attachment locations that undergo shear stress upon the beam receiving the impact force along the fore-aft direction, but the attachment flanges of the front section are located inside the attachment flanges of the back section so that, even if the attachment locations shear off, the attachment flanges of the front section remain captured within the attachment flanges of the back section.
In another aspect of the present invention, a method comprises steps of roll-forming a front section including a front wall and top and bottom walls defining constant cross section and a rearwardly open cavity, and stamping an elongated back section from a sheet of material, the back section having a length approximating the front section. The method further includes fitting the back section against a rear side of the front section, the back section including a first longitudinal portion that defines with the front section a first cross-sectional shape having a first depth dimension, and including second longitudinal portions on opposing sides of the first portions that fit against the front section to define a second cross-sectional shape having a second depth dimension; the front and back sections having attachment flanges that telescopingly overlappingly engage in a direction generally perpendicular to the front wall. The method still further includes attaching the attachment flanges together to secure the back section to the front section together to form a reinforced beam section, the attachment flanges of the front section being positioned inside of and captured by the attachment flanges of the back section even if some of the attachment locations shear off and come loose.
An object of the present invention is to provide a design that accommodates complexity without a concurrent increase in cost due to the need for substantial secondary processing.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a design and process that overcomes the drawbacks of roll-formed sections having a constant cross section, yet that allows their use to make beam sections with ultra-high-strength materials.
Another object of the present invention is to provide design flexibility that allows tuning of the bumper beam (early or late) in the bumper development program, which can be very important for timing and investment reasons.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a design that allows use of materials such as ultra high-strength steels for components so that the bumper beam can be designed for optimally high strength-to-weight ratios, while yet keeping the ability to provide optimal beam strengths in particular regions of the beam.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an arrangement allowing for relatively simple forming and bending tooling to minimize investment while still being able to form the ultra-high-strength materials without prohibitively expensive tooling and without having tooling and/or stamping presses quickly wear out.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a bumper beam design where a size of the beam's tubular cross section can easily and substantially be varied across an entire length of the bumper beam, even where very high-strength materials are used. Yet this can be accomplished without substantial secondary processing and/or heat treating and/or annealing.
Another object is to provide a bumper beam that optimally utilizes roll-forming processes and stamping processes to make component sections of the beam.
The present invention overcomes the drawbacks of roll-formed sections having a constant cross section, by providing for an optimized utilization of geometry and material to produce a bumper beam that possesses the strength and rigidity characteristics of a tubular bumper section. The present invention combines manufacturing processes and material to produce a tubular section that has varying cross-sectional geometries along a length of the part and different material properties around the cross section of the part. The present invention differs from prior art that includes the addition of material to specific areas to provide localized stiffening.
These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.
The present invention focuses on a bumper beam 20 (
In beam 20 (FIG. 2), the impact face (herein called the “front section 22”) of the bumper beam is a roll-formed section made from an UHSS material. The rear face (herein called the “rear section 27”) of the impact beam is a stamped part with relatively flat sections and is made from a high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel. The two halves of the impact beam are joined together at the flanges, such as by welding (FIGS. 2 and 11), crimping (FIGS. 9 and 11), or mechanical fastening (FIGS. 10 and 11). The combination of the two manufacturing processes and different materials produces an impact beam that can have an infinite number of carefully designed geometries along a length of the impact beam, such as differently-sized tubular sections, and different materials from front to back of the impact beam. This flexibility allows for the design of an impact beam that can be optimized for performance, weight, and cost.
It is clear from beam 20 (
Persons skilled in the art of vehicle bumper beams will recognize that an increase in impact beam depth will increase stiffness of the section and make it more stable during impact, and further will realize the tremendous advantages of doing this at strategic locations along the beam. The beam 20A (
The roll-formed front impact face (front section 22 or 22A) of the impact beam is a constant cross section across its center region and can either be swept at a constant sweep radius or could potentially be swept at a compound sweep radius by tooling in-line with the roll-forming process. The constrained sweep radius will cause more localized loading and potentially more system stroke (intrusion into the vehicle) as measured from the front face inward to the vehicle. Typical compound swept beams would provide for a flatter surface across the center of the impact beam and greater curvature on the ends of the impact beam. The compound sweep may be more accommodating for current styling trends in vehicles. A compound swept beam would allow for distributed loading across the front face of the impact and in turn less system stroke of the impact beam. The ability of a compound swept beam to distribute load across a greater surface area can also be replicated with a constant swept beam and an engineered energy absorber. The energy absorber would be engineered to easily crush across a greater length from impact beam center and in turn load the impact beam over a greater distance extending from impact beam center.
The front and rear sections of the impact beams can be attached using different attachment methods. These methods would include crimping or hemming (FIG. 8), welding (
The present invention illustrated in the beams 20 and 20A (
The ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) material is a well known and well defined category of material in the art. UHSS material commonly has a tensile strength of about 120 to 200 KSI (or higher). The high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel material is also a well known and well defined category of material in the art. There are HSLA steel materials that are 120 KSI, but the higher grade HSLA materials are not usually considered stampable. Nonetheless, it should be understood that the ability to stamp is also related to material thickness, size and shape of the part being stamped, and the degree of material flow and “draw” required. HSLA steel material that can be stamped has a tensile strength commonly around 80 KSI. Boron steels and heat-treatable hardenable steels can also be used. For example, boron steels can be formed while at lower KSI strengths, and then hardened either during a stage of the forming process or in secondary processing. Higher-strength aluminum materials are also well known in the art. For example, it is contemplated that aluminum series 6000 materials will work in the present invention. The aluminum series 6000 material commonly has a tensile strength of up to about 40 KSI. Some extrudable grades of aluminum may also work in forming front section 22, such as extrudable aluminum series 6000 or 7000 materials. Back sections 22 may also be made from glass-reinforced nylon, glass-reinforced polyester, or other (reinforced or unreinforced) structural polymers.
As noted above, the illustrated bumper beam 20 (
In the illustrated center region, the center portion 28 lies relatively tight against or in contact with the front wall 23 of the front section 22, but it is contemplated that any desired spacing can be created, such that the illustrated arrangement is intended to illustrate both a “flat tube” in the center region as well as a “non-flat” or “thin” tube in the center region. In the end regions, the end portions 29 and 30 of the back section 27 are fit against the rear edges of the top and bottom walls 24 and 25 to form a tubular cross-sectional shape having a “deep” depth dimension D1. It is contemplated that the end portions 29 and 30 of the back section 27 can be relatively flat (as illustrated by the solid lines in FIG. 4), or that the end portions 29 and 30 can have a reverse hat shape that extends in a direction opposite the hat shape of the center portion 28 of the back section 27 (as illustrated by the dashed lines in FIG. 4).
The angled intermediate portions 31 and 32 provide a changing cross-sectional tubular shape that transitions between the center and end portions of the beam 20. It is contemplated that the intermediate portions 31 and 32 can be deep-drawn to form mounting surfaces adapted for attachment to vehicle frame rails, such as the illustrated beam 20B having a back section 27B with deep-drawn mounting surfaces 29B and 30B (
It is contemplated that the back section 27 will be made by an optimal process. The illustrated back section 27 can be stamped using stamping technology. The simplicity of the back section 27 (
It is contemplated that top and bottom edges of the back section 27 can be secured to the front section 22 by several different means. For example, where steels are used for the front section 22 and the back section 27, MIG puddle welding or “standard” MIG welding can be used. It is also contemplated that various welding such as spot-welding can be used to secure edge flanges of the back section 27 and front section 22 together. Also, rivets and other mechanical attachment means known in the art can be used. Again, the optimal process will depend upon the strength and properties of the back section 27 and the front section 22, and also will depend on the functional requirements of the beam 20. Where a formable material is used, such as drawable steel, it is conceived that alternative attachment methods can be used such as a hemmed flange 35 (
It is also conceived that a combination of attachment methods can be used, such as by using welding at critical high-stress areas, and rivets or other means on less-stressed attachment areas. Drawable steel and aluminum, depending on their grade, can be toggle-locked together, which is a mechanical connection using the material of the sheets themselves to form the rivet-like connection. An exemplary toggle lock connection 40 is shown in FIG. 9. It is noted that toggle lock technology is commercially available. In the toggle lock connection 40, the edge flanges 41 and 42 abut along end regions of the back section 27 and the front section 22. A tooling pin (not shown) is forced through the edge flanges 41 and 42 to stretch the flange material to form a double-thickness protrusion. The tooling pin is removed (or temporarily left in place during the peening step), and then the section is peened or struck in a manner causing the head 44 to mushroom while the neck 45 remains relatively thin. As a result the material of the back section's flange 41 in the head 44 is trapped by the material of the front section's neck 45 after the step of peening. The effect is much like a rivet 46, as shown in a lower portion of the FIG. 10. It is of course contemplated that rivets 46 could also be used for securement. Where the material of the reinforcement and/or the front section 22 are substantially different materials (such as one is steel and the other is aluminum or plastic), mechanical attachment such as by the use of rivets 46 or a hemmed edge are potentially a realistic and desirable option. Hemming the flanges 41-42 (i.e. folding one flange 41 back on itself to capture the mating flange 42) is an attractive alternative attachment method since it uses the material of the sections 22 and 27 themselves without the need for additional parts or components. The illustrated flange 41 is continuous, though a slit 48 could be used.
One contemplated alternative is to weld multiple strips of material together to form a long roll, from which the back section 27 would be made. The multiple strips of material would be chosen to have optimal strengths and material properties in each of their ultimate positions in the back section 27. For example, end portions 29 and 30 could be made from one material (such as UHSS), while the intermediate portions 31 and 32 and the center portion 28 could be from a more ductile or lower strength material such as HSLA steel. Also, the portions 28-32 could each have different material thicknesses and properties. A variety of different options are possible, as will be quickly understood by a person skilled in the art of vehicle bumper manufacture and in the art of roll-forming and stamping.
A bumper beam 20A (
The bumper beam 20A (
The method of the present invention is shown in FIG. 11. The method includes selecting a strip of material in a step 49 (such as UHSS material, or UHLA steel material), and then roll-forming the strip of material in a step 50 to form an open front section 22 (which can be C-shaped, W-shaped, or hat-shaped), including (optionally) sweeping the front section in a step 51 to form a longitudinally curved part. The material for the back section 27 is selected in a step 52, prepared as required in a step 53, and stamped in a step 54. The step 53 of preparing the strip may include welding multiple strips (tailor welded blanks) together and/or heat-treating (e.g. annealing) various sections of a single strip so that particular strength characteristics end up at predetermined locations on the finish back section 27. It is contemplated that where heat-treating is used, this preparation can be done before, during, or after the step of stamping. Alternatively, instead of steps 52-54, the back section 27 can be made by molding in step 54′ (or alternatively can be made using other forming and bending techniques). The back section 27 is then mated together with the front section 22 in a step 55, and then attached in a step 56. As noted above, the step 55 of mating the back section 27 to the beam 22 can form a variety of different shapes, including different tubular cross-sectional sizes and depths along a length of the beam 20. It is contemplated that the mating step 55 can be done in-line with the roll-forming machine, or done off-line in a secondary operation at an end of the roll-forming process such that it forms part of a continuous manufacturing process, or done off-line in a separate operation. Another option is to take the roll-formed front section and feed it into a transfer press where it is fastened to the back section after the back section has been stamped. For example, the transfer press could include tooling for stamping the back section 27. In a last stage (or near-to-last stage) of the stamping operation, the roll-formed front section 22 would be fed into the transfer press, and attached to the front section 22 such as by a hemming operation, welding, riveting, or a toggle-lock process. Alternatively, one could use mechanical fasteners or spot-welding in the press. It is contemplated that the attachment step 56 can include a variety of different attachment means, including welding (MIG puddle welding, standard MIG welding, spot-welding, mechanical fastening such as hemming attachment, toggle lock attachment (see earlier discussion on toggle lock and UHSS materials), rivet attachment, and other attachment means).
A modified bumper beam 20C (
Beam 20C (
The front section 22C (
The back section 27C (preferably made from a stamped material such as high-strength, low alloy or UHSS steel) is longitudinally curved and has the edge flanges 42C shaped to match the front section 22C, and includes a center portion 28C and end portions 29C shaped to mate as desired with the walls 24C and 25C of the front section 27C. A rear wall 55C extends a length of the back section 27C. In the center portion 28C, the rear wall is relatively planar in shape. At an inboard part 56C of the end portions 29C, the rear wall is depressed forwardly toward the front wall 23C of the front section 22C. At an outboard part 57C of the end portions 29C, the rear wall is formed rearwardly to form a flat area that aligns with the similar outboard part on the other end portion. The intermediate part 58C of the end portions 29C transitions between the two parts 56C and 57C. The illustrated outboard part 57C is flat and is adapted to abut and be attached directly to the end cap 59C which forms the end of the frame side rail on the vehicle frame. This arrangement eliminates extra parts, since a bracket does not need to be attached to the beam 20C in order to attach the vehicle frame to the bumper 20C. The illustrated end cap 59C is channel shaped, and has a flat center plate 60C that attaches to the rear wall 55C in the outboard part 57C, and further has a pair of parallel flanges 61C and 62C that extend rearwardly for engaging an end of the vehicle frame side rails. Stiffening embossments or channels 63C are formed in the top wall 64C (and bottom wall) of the back section 27C, and also embossments or channels 65C are formed in the rear wall 55C of the back section 27C as desired for strength. The illustrated rear wall 55C terminates short of the end of the front section 22C (FIG. 15). An attachment flange 66C is formed integrally from an end of the rear wall 55C, and tabs 67C are extended from the top and bottom ends of the flange 66C. The tabs 67C are welded to otherwise be secured to the top and bottom walls of the back section 27C. A stanchion flange 68C extends from the attachment flange 66C, and a foot flange 69C extends from the stanchion flange 68C. The foot flange 69C abuts the surface of the front wall 23C of the front section 22C. Foot flange 69C can be welded to the front section 22C by applying MIG weld through the aperture 53C. In the absence of the aperture 53C, the foot flange 69C can be attached to the front section using either a spot weld or a mechanical fastener. Another attachment method might be the use of a finger tab 70C that extends from the foot flange 69C through the aperture 53C and is bent onto the channel 52C where it is out of the way. The arrangement including flanges 66C-70C support the ends of the front section 22C and provide the bumper 20C with good corner impact strength.
It is to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structure without departing from the concepts of the present invention, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.
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|US8047588 *||Oct 4, 2007||Nov 1, 2011||Magna Automotive Services Gmbh||Energy absorption device, especially for non-axial loads|
|US8308207 *||Oct 17, 2011||Nov 13, 2012||Magna Automotive Services Gmbh||Energy absorption device, especially for non-axial loads|
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|US8622446 *||Oct 31, 2011||Jan 7, 2014||Benteler Automobiltechnik Gmbh||Bumper for a motor vehicle|
|US8716624 *||Oct 11, 2013||May 6, 2014||Shape Corp.||Method for forming tubular beam with center leg|
|US8985651 *||Oct 24, 2013||Mar 24, 2015||Mazda Motor Corporation||Vehicle-body structure of vehicle|
|US20120032459 *||Feb 9, 2012||Magna Automotive Services Gmbh||Energy Absorption Device, Especially For Non-Axial Loads|
|US20120104779 *||May 3, 2012||Benteler Automobiltechnik Gmbh||Bumper for a motor vehicle|
|US20130241218 *||Mar 12, 2013||Sep 19, 2013||Aisin Keikinzoku Kabushiki Kaisha||Vehicle bumper reinforcement|
|US20140033791 *||Oct 11, 2013||Feb 6, 2014||Shape Corp.||Method for forming tubular beam with center leg|
|US20140117685 *||Oct 24, 2013||May 1, 2014||Mazda Motor Corporation||Vehicle-body structure of vehicle|
|US20150097384 *||Oct 4, 2013||Apr 9, 2015||Multimatic Inc.||Vehicle bumper|
|U.S. Classification||293/102, 293/154, 293/132|
|International Classification||B60R19/18, B60R19/04, B60R19/02|
|Cooperative Classification||B60R19/18, B60R2019/1826, B60R19/24, B60R2019/1813|