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1. CA2428683 - HYDROFORMED SPACE FRAME AND REARWARD RING ASSEMBLY THEREFORE

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[ EN ]
What is claimed is:
1. A space frame for a motor vehicle, said space frame comprising: a pair of laterally spaced, longitudinally extending side rail structures, said side rail structures each having an upwardly arched portion defining a pair of wheel wells; a pair of forward-most upright structures each being connected to a respective side rail structure, thereby forming a pair of A pillars; a pair of roof rail structures, a forward end of each roof rail structure being connected to an upper end of an associated A pillar ; and a rearward ring assembly connected at upper portions thereof with said roof rail structures and at bottom portions thereof with said side rail structures, said rearward ring assembly comprising (a) a tubular hydroformed inverted U-shaped upper member, said upper member having a cross portion and a pair of leg portions extending downwardly from opposite ends of said cross portion, (b) a pair of tubular hydroformed side members, said side members each having first and second ends, each said side member being connected at said first end thereof with a free end of a respective leg portion of said upper member, and (c) a cross structure rigidly connected in ring-forming relation between said second ends of the side members rearwardly of said wheel wells, said side rail structures, said A pillars, said roof rail structures and said rearward ring assembly generally defining a space frame interior region, said rearward ring assembly providing a rearward opening into said interior region, wherein said side members having lower portions thereof disposed closer to one another than upper portions thereof, said side members having lower portions thereof disposed more rearwardly in a longitudinal frame direction in relation to upper portions thereof.
2. A space frame as defined in claim 1, wherein said inverted hydroformed Ushaped upper member and said hydroformed side members together form an inverted Ushaped assembly, said inverted U-shaped assembly defining a pair of rearward-most pillars, each said rearward-most pillar having an essentially straight upper end portion extending downwardly from an associated juncture with said cross portion, an essentially straight lower end portion, and an inwardly angled central portion so that said straight upper end portions define a relatively wide upper portion of said rearward opening and said straight lower end portions define a relatively narrow lower portion of said rearward opening.
3. A space frame as defined in claim 2, further including a laterally extending rearward connecting structure connected between rearward portions of said side rail structures and wherein said cross structure of said rearward ring assembly is connected to said rearward connecting structure such that said cross structure extends laterally between said side rail structures, said lower end portion of each said rearward-most pillar being connected to said rearward first connecting structure and extending generally upwardly with respect thereto.
4. A space frame as defined in claim 3, wherein said essentially straight upper end portions of said rearward-most pillars taper rearwardly and said essentially straight lower end portions of said rearward-most pillars taper rearwardly from top to bottom.
5. A space frame as defined in claim 4, wherein the essentially straight lower end portion of each said rearward-most pillar is vertical and the essentially straight upper end portion forms an angle of approximately 10 degrees therewith as viewed in side elevation.
6. A space frame according to claim 1, wherein said cross structure comprises an assembly of stamped members assembled into a tubular configuration.
7. A space frame as defined in claim 1, further including a front structural assembly, said front structural assembly comprising a pair of front upper side rail structures, a front cross structural assembly and a pair of side support structures, said front cross structural assembly being connected laterally between forward end portions of said side rail structures, each said front upper side rail structure being connected between said front cross structural assembly and an intermediate portion of a respective A pillar so that said front upper side rail structures are laterally space from one another and generally vertically spaced above forward portions of said side rail structures, each side support structure being connected at one end to an intermediate portion of a respective A pillar and extending forwardly and downwardly therefrom and being connected at another end opposite said one end to an associated side rail structure.
8. A space frame as defined in claim 7, wherein said pair of front upper side rail structures are provided by a pair of tubular hydroformed front upper side rail members and wherein said pair of side support structures are provided by a pair of tubular hydroformed
front upper side rail members.
9. A space frame as defined in claim 8, wherein said roof rail structures are tubular hydroformed members.
10. A space frame as defined in one of claims 1 to 9, said space frame further
comprising: first and second connecting structures connected laterally between said side rail structures rearwardly and forwardly, respectively, of said wheel wells; and a cradle assembly comprising a pair of elongated cradle support structures and
pair of U-shaped cradle structures, each U-shaped cradle structure having a pair of leg portions extending from a cross portion, said cradle support structures being laterally spaced and each being connected between said first and second connecting structures, said U-shaped cradle structures being longitudinally spaced and each leg portion of said pair of leg portions of each said U-shaped cradle structure being connected to a respective one of said pair of cradle support structures.
11. A space frame as defined in claim 10, wherein each said cradle support structure is provided by a tubular hydroformed cradle support member, each said cradle support member being defined by an outwardly deformed metallic wall fixed into a predetermined surface configuration, and wherein each said U-shaped cradle structure is provided by a tubular hydroformed U-shaped cradle member, each said U-shaped cradle member being defined by an outwardly deformed metallic wall fixed into a predetermined surface configuration.
12. A space frame as defined in claim 10 or 11, wherein said pair of corresponding wheel wells define a pair of rear wheel wells.
13. A method for forming a rearward ring frame assembly for a motor vehicle, comprising:
bending a tubular blank into a generally U-shaped configuration ; hydroforming said U-shaped blank to form a hydroformed inverted U-shaped frame
member by applying pressurized fluid internally to said U-shaped blank so as to expand said U-shaped blank into conformity with die surfaces of a hydroforming die;
providing a pair of side member blanks; hydroforming each of said side members blanks to form a pair of frame side members by applying pressurized fluid internally thereto so as to expand said side member blanks into conformity with die surfaces of a hydroforming die; connecting a first end of each said hydroformed frame side members to associated leg portions of said hydroformed inverted U-shaped frame member; providing a cross structure; and connecting said cross structure between second ends of said hydroformed frame side members, said hydroformed frame side members have lower portions disposed closer to one another than upper portions, said hydroformed frame side members have lower portions disposed more rearwardly in a longitudinal frame direction in relation to upper portions thereof, and connecting said cross structure between a pair of laterally spaced, longitudinally extending side rail structures, said side rail structures each having an upwardly arched portion defining a pair of wheel wells and said cross structure being connected to said pair of side rail members rearward of said pair of wheel wells.
14. A method for forming a space frame for a motor vehicle, comprising the steps for forming a rearward ring frame assembly according to claim 13, further comprising: providing components for a space frame including a pair of side rail structures, each side rail structure including a wheel well-forming portion, a pair of connecting structures, and a cradle assembly, said cradle assembly including a pair of elongated cradle support members and a pair of U-shaped cradle members, each U-shaped cradle member having a pair of leg portions extending from a cross portion, the cradle support members and the Ushaped cradle members each being formed in a hydroforming procedure that includes providing a tubular blank having a metallic wall, placing the blank in a die assembly having die surfaces defining a die cavity and providing pressurized fluid in an interior of the blank to expand said wall into conformity with said die surfaces, and assembling said components such that the first and second connecting structures are connected laterally between said side rail structures rearwardly and forwardly, respectively, of said wheel well-forming portions, said cradle support members are laterally spaced and are each connected between the first and second connecting structures, and said U-shaped cradle structures are longitudinally spaced and each leg portion of said pair of leg portions
of each U-shaped cradle member is connected to a respective one of said pair of cradle support members.
15. A method for forming a space frame for a motor vehicle, comprising the steps for forming a rearward ring frame assembly according to claim 13, further comprising: providing further components for a space frame including a pair of roof rail structures, pairs of forward-most and rearward-most upright structure, and a front structural assembly, said front structural assembly including a pair of forward upper side rail members, a front cross structural assembly and a pair of side support members, each said member being formed in a hydroforming procedure, each procedure including providing a tubular blank having a metallic wall, placing the blank into a die assembly having die surfaces defining a die cavity, and providing pressurized fluid into an interior of the blank to expand the wall into conformity with the die surfaces; and assembling said components so that each forward-most upright structure is connected to a respective side rail structure so as to define an A pillar thereon, each rearward-most upright structure is connected to a respective side rail structure so as to define a D pillar thereon, each roof rail structure is connected between an upper end of a respective A pillar and an upper end of an associated D pillar, said front cross structural assembly is connected laterally between forward end portions of said side rail structures, each front upper side rail member is connected between said front cross structural assembly and an intermediate portion of a respective A pillar so that said front upper side rail members are laterally spaced from one another and are each generally vertically spaced above the forward portion of an associated side rail structure, and each side support member is connected at one end to an intermediate portion of a respective A pillar and extends forwardly and downwardly therefrom and is connected at another end opposite said one end to an associated side rail structure.