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1. WO2020108764 - CONNECTOR SOCKET, CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY, COOLING PLATE AND COOLING SYSTEM INCLUDING A CONNECTOR SOCKET

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

CONNECTOR SOCKET , CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY , COOLING PLATE AND COOLING SYSTEM INCLUDING A CONNECTOR SOCKET

The invention relates to a connector socket for a liquid con nector for liquid flows, for example for cooling liquids.

It is known to guide liquids through tubes or hoses. In order to create a flow-path connection between a container or other kinds of receptacle and the tube or hose, it is known to attach a spigot to the wall or the container or receptacle. The container wall is provided with an orifice and the spigot is inserted into- or attached to the orifice. The mechanical connection be tween the spigot and the wall should be sufficiently robust to withstand the forces to be expected and to be sealed. In the case of walls made of sheet metal, this is usually achieved by welding, soldering or brazing a protruding socket or male con nector part onto the metal sheet. The spigot is then mounted to the socket or connected with the connector part.

The mounting normally requires a socket and tools, e.g. for screwing to generate a sufficient contact pressure for sealing the connection. The socket is usually attached to a wall having the orifice by welding or brazing. This is burdensome and a source of potential errors.

The invention seeks to overcome these problems by providing a compact, light and easy to use connector socket, a connector as sembly including such a socket and a cooling system including such a connector assembly.

This object is achieved by a connector assembly according to claim 1, a connector assembly including such a socket and a cooling system including such an assembly. Preferred embodiments of the invention are set out in the dependent claims .

The invention relates to a connector socket for connecting a spigot to an orifice, said connector socket including a sheet metal plate with said orifice and a protruding collar structure surrounding said orifice.

It is proposed that said collar structure is integrally made of the sheet metal of said sheet metal plate by a sheet metal form-ing process.

By forming the collar structure integrally with the sheet metal plate using sheet metal forming process, additional manufactur ing steps including brazing or welding can be avoided and the manufacturing process can be simplified. The collar structure can be very rigid and virtually impossible to break off. The structure itself forms a reinforcing rib. Impurities resulting from brazing or welding processes or leakage due to imperfect welding can be avoided. The sheet metal forming process may in clude different techniques such as stamping, deep-drawing, punching, blanking, stamping, embossing, bending, forming, tap extrusion or coil extrusion, optionally complemented by laser cutting .

The spigot may be designed e.g. for use with liquids such as coolants or cooling liquids.

The invention further proposes that the collar structure is con figured to receive a male end of said spigot. This lends addi tional stability by a deep seating of the spigot in the socket.

It is proposed that the socket further includes a connector means mediating the connection of the spigot with the collar structure. Preferably, the connector means further includes a ring-shaped snap-on module configured to be fitted over the col lar structure, said snap-on module including a cylindrical in sertion part configured to be inserted into an orifice of said collar structure, wherein a remote end of the cylindrical inser tion part in the insertion direction is provided with first snap-on structures engaging with the collar structure. The snap- on module enables an easy assembly even without tools while providing a reliable, robust and precise connection structure for the spigot.

The invention, in particular in the embodiment with the snap-on module, lends itself in particular to applications where the spigot has to be mounted from the outside of the container or receptacle if there is no possibility reach the inside thereof.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the connector means is configured to create a snap-lock connection with both the collar structure and with the male end of the spigot. This ena bles an easy mounting of the entire assembly without tools.

It is further proposed the cylindrical inner wall of the inser tion part of the ring-shaped snap-on module is provided a notch configured to receive an 0-ring. The first 0-ring can provide a reliable sealing between the inner wall of the orifice in the snap-on module and the outer wall of the male end of the spigot.

According to further embodiments of the invention, an inner cir cumference of the collar structure includes a structure such as a notch or a flange configured to support a second 0-ring to be arranged between collar structure and the outer wall of the in sertion part. The second 0-ring can ensure a reliable sealing between the snap-on module and the collar structure.

The inventor further proposes that a second 0-ring is provided around an outer wall of the collar structure and/or that the ring-shaped snap-on module further includes an outer wall sur rounding said collar structure and a second 0-ring provided in a gap between the outer wall of the snap-on module and the collar structure. The second 0-ring can ensure a reliable sealing be tween the snap-on module and the collar structure. The 0-ring on the inner side of the collar structure and the 0-ring on the outer side of the collar structure may be used alone or in com bination .

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the ring-shaped snap-on module is a plastic part. This is a light, cost-saving and reliable solution. The plastic can be chosen according to the chemical and thermal requirements imposed by the application and may include fibre reinforcement or metal reinforcement if necessary .

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the collar structure is a cylindrical double layer structure obtained by folding the sheet metal back, the rim of the sheet metal being arranged on the inside of the collar structure. The rim may then be used as a stable, sharp and well-defined engagement point for latching structures of the spigot or of the ring-shaped snap-on module.

It is further proposed that the male end of said spigot includes at least one latching structure on a radial outside surface of its end portion, said latching structures being configured to interact with corresponding latching structures on a cylindrical inner surface of said connector means. This enables an easy and simple snap-on assembly of the spigot without requiring special tools .

According to one embodiment of the invention, the latching structure on the radial outside surface of the end portion of the spigot is configured to engage around a rim of the cylindri cal inner surface of said connector means. In a preferred embod iment of the invention, the cylindrical inner surface of said connector means is a cylindrical inner surface of said ring-shaped snap-on module. By insertion and latching of the spigot into the snap-on module, the module is firmly secured towards the collar structure and the snap-on module is locked in place.

It should be noted that both the snap-on connection between the snap-on module and the collar structure and the snap-on connec tion between the spigot and the snap-on module may be releasa ble, e.g. by rotating the spigot and the snap-on module or other elements against each other. In this case, the collar and/or the snap-on module may have a segmented shape such that the connec tion can be released by aligning the appropriate segments.

A yet further aspect of the invention relates to a cooling sys tem, in particular for battery assemblies, including a connector socket and/or connector assembly as defined above.

Further features and advantages of the invention can be derived from the following description of the embodiments of the inven tion. The specification as a whole, the claims and the figures disclose features of the invention in specific combinations. The skilled person will consider these features in isolation and combine them to obtain further combinations or sub-combinations thereof in order to adapt the invention as defined in the claims to his specific needs.

Brief description of the figures

Fig. 1 shows connector assembly according to a first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 illustrates a sheet metal plate including a col lar structure according to the first embodiment of the in vention;

Fig. 3 is a sectional view of the connector assembly according to the first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 4 is an explosion view of the connector assembly according to the first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 5 illustrates a pre-assembled structure including a metal plate and a snap-on module according to the first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 6 is a sectional view of the connector assembly according to a second embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 7 illustrates a sheet metal plate including a col lar structure according to the second embodiment of the in vention;

Fig. 8 illustrates a spigot of a connector assembly ac cording to third embodiment of the invention; and

Fig. 9 illustrates a snap-on module according to the third embodiment of the invention.

Detailed description of the embodiments

Figure 1 to 3 show a socket and a connector assembly according to a first embodiment of the invention. The connector assembly is configured for use in a battery cooling system of an electric or hybrid vehicle and guides the cooling liquid to a heat ex changer. One of the walls of the heat exchanger is a sheet metal plate 10 having an orifice 10a. A spigot 12 is to be attached to the orifice 10a. The spigot 12 has an internal, angular flow path for liquid, e.g. coolant or water ending in an orifice 10c of the spigot 10c arranged within the orifice 10a of the plate 10. Connector means 14 are provided for connecting the spigot 12 to the metal plate 10 so as to guide the liquid flowing in the flow path through the orifice 10c. The connector means 14 in clude a connector socket, which has a protruding collar struc ture 16 surrounding the orifice 10a.

As illustrated in Fig. 2 the collar structure 16 is integrally made of the sheet metal of said sheet metal plate 10 by a sheet metal forming process such as punching and deep-drawing. The circular cylindrical collar structure 16 protrudes from the sheet metal plate 10 as a roughly cylinder-barrel shaped circu lar wall in a direction perpendicular to a main plane or tangen tial plane of the sheet metal plate 10. From a viewpoint of stiffness, the collar structure is a circular reinforcing rib of the sheet metal plate.

The collar structure 16 lends stability to the connection be tween the spigot 12 and the sheet metal plate 10 and stabilizes the rim of the orifice 10a provided in the centre of the collar structure 16. In the embodiment of Fig. 1 - 3, the collar struc ture 16 has double layer structure obtained by folding the sheet metal back, the rim of the sheet metal being arranged on the in side of the collar structure 16.

The connector means 14 further includes a ring-shaped snap-on module 18 formed as an injection-moulded plastic part configured to be fitted over the collar structure 16. The snap-on module 18 includes a cylindrical insertion part 18a configured to be in serted into an orifice 10a of said collar structure 16, wherein a remote end of the cylindrical insertion part 18a in the inser tion direction is provided with a plurality of latches 18b with snap-fitting protrusions protruding radially outward as first snap-on structures engaging with the lower rim of the collar structure 16.

The cylindrical inner wall of the insertion part 18a of the ring-shaped snap-on module 18 is provided with a notch 18c con figured to receive a first 0-ring 20.

A male end of said spigot 12 is configured to be inserted into an orifice 10b of the ring-shaped snap-on module 18 and thus into the collar structure 16 and locked in place by interacting with the connector means 14. A flange 28 of the spigot limits the depth of its insertion into the snap-on module 18. The in ward deflection of the latches 18b is blocked by the inserted spigot 12. The male end of said spigot 12 includes a plurality latching structure on a radial outside surface of its end por tion, the latching structures being configured to engage with the lower rim of the cylindrical inner surface of the ring-shaped snap-on module 18. When inserting the cylindrical inser tion part 18a into the orifice 10a of the collar structure 16, the latches 18b are deflected radially inward and snap back upon reaching the final engagement position. As illustrated in Fig.

3, the latching ends of the spigot 12 protrude slightly over the inner (lower) surface of the snap-on module 18.

The ring-shaped snap-on module 18 further includes an outer wall surrounding the collar structure 16 and abutting to the radially outer wall of the collar structure 16 such that the overall pro file of the ring-shaped snap-on module 16 is that of a reverse U-shape clipped onto the collar structure 16.

A second O-ring 22 sealing the connection between the snap-on module 18 and the metal plate 10 is arranged on an inner circum ference of the collar structure 16, wherein the latter includes a flange 16a protruding radially inward configured to support the second O-ring 22 arranged between collar structure 16 and the outer wall of the insertion part 18a.

The remote end of the spigot 12 is configured with a barb struc ture fitting into a coolant hose, which may for example be fur ther fixed by a hose clamp. However, the structure of the remote end of the spigot 12 is not particularly limited and may be of any structure suitable for connecting hoses or tubes.

Fig. 4 is an explosion view of the connector assembly including the spigot 12, the snap-on module 18, the first O-ring 20 seal ing the connection between spigot 12 and snap-on module 18 and the second O-ring 22 sealing the connection between the snap-on module 18 and the metal plate 10.

The ring-shaped snap-on module 18 may be pre-assembled and snapped on the collar structure 16 of the metal plate 10 in an easily transportable unit without requiring special tools. The pre-assembled structure is illustrated in Fig. 5. The pre-assem bled unit can be transported without risk of loss of the snap-on module 18 and the spigot 12 and a hose can then be attached in the final assembly of the application using the connector assem bly.

The sheet metal plate 10 with the collar structure 16 is part of a cooling plate, heat exchanger or battery plate assembly but is not limited thereto. The invention can be applied to an easy connectable spigot 12 for all kinds of receptacles in any mate rial .

The sheet metal plate 10 and the connector assembly are suitable for use in a cooling system, in particular for battery assem blies, for transporting cooling liquids.

Figures 6 to 9 show a second and third embodiment of the inven tion. In order to avoid repetitions, the following specification of these further embodiments is limited to differences to the first embodiment of the invention. Regarding the unchanged fea tures, the skilled person is referred to the above specification of the first embodiment. The same reference signs are used for identical features of features having a similar effect in order to emphasize the similarities.

In the second embodiment of the invention as shown in Figures 6 and 7, an 0-ring 22 is provided in a gap between the outer wall and the collar structure 16 to seal the connection between the snap-on module 18 and the sheet metal plate 10. The flange on the inside of the collar structure 16 can be dispensed with in this embodiment.

Fig. 8 and 9 illustrate a spigot 12 and a snap-on module of a connector assembly according to the third embodiment of the in vention the end portion of the spigot 12 to be inserted into the orifice 10b of the snap-on module 18 is provided with recesses 24 accommodating inwardly protruding end portions of a subset of latches 18bl of the snap-on module 18. A second subset of latches 18b2 engages radially outward with the orifice 10a of the sheet metal plate 10 (not illustrated) . The limited width of the recesses 24 in the circumferential direction define the rel ative rotational position of the spigot 12 and the snap-on mod ule 18, which is further defined by mating structures 26, 26' on an upper surface of the snap-on module 18 and on a flange 28 of the spigot 12.