News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Switches and Switch Mounting Structures", for Approval

August 28, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Malek, Shayan (San Jose, CA); Cohen, Sawyer I. (Sunnyvale, CA); Wittenberg, Michael B. (Sunnyvale, CA), filed on February 5, 2013, was made available online on August 14, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Apple Inc.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This relates generally to electronic devices and, more particularly, to switches mounted within electronic device housings.

"Electronic devices include electrical components such as buttons. Buttons contain electrical switches. Metal traces on printed circuits are sometimes used to form electrical connections with the electrical switches. For example, an electrical switch in a button such as a cellular telephone ringer button may be coupled to control circuits using traces on a flexible printed circuit. To couple the metal traces to the electrical switch, the flexible printed circuit may be placed between the electrical switch and a housing sidewall. To route the flexible printed circuit to the control circuits, the flexible printed circuit is bent.

"The bend in the flexible printed circuit may be characterized by a bend radius. If the bend radius is too large, space may be wasted. If the bend radius is too small, the traces on the flexible printed circuit may fail due to cracking.

"It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide electronic devices with improved arrangements for mounting electronic switches for buttons."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "An electronic device has circuitry mounted within an electronic device housing. The electronic device housing may have housing walls such as metal sidewalls. Openings may be formed in the electronic device housing walls to accommodate buttons.

"A button may have a switch with a switch housing. A switch mechanism within the switch housing may be controlled with a movable button member. The switch housing may be mounted so that an outer switch housing surface is adjacent to an inner surface of an electronic device housing wall and so that an opposing inner switch housing surface faces interior portions of the electronic device.

"When the switch is mounted to the electronic device housing wall, the movable button member protrudes through an opening in the electronic device housing wall. The switch mechanism within the switch housing is coupled to switch terminals using signal paths. The switch terminals are coupled to signal lines on structures such as flexible printed circuits. The flexible printed circuit may route switch signals to control circuitry within the electronic device.

"The switch terminals may be formed from portions of elongated switch leads. The switch terminals may be formed on the inner surface of the switch housing or may be supported by support structures that are located adjacent to the switch housing. The support structures may be mounted to an electronic device housing wall. Support structures may be molded over protruding structures or other engagement features on an electronic device housing wall or may be mounted to a housing wall using a fastener such as a screw.

"Further features, their nature and various advantages will be more apparent from the accompanying drawings and the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device of the type that may be provided with switch mounting structures in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 2 is a schematic view of an illustrative electronic device of the type that may be provided with switches mounted in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an illustrative button and a portion of an electronic device housing structure having an opening in which the switch may be mounted in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of a switch structure that has been mounted in an electronic device housing in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 5 is a perspective of a switch having leads for use in mounting the switch in an electronic device in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a flexible printed circuit having traces that are configured to mate with traces on a switch in an electronic device in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of a switch having leads supported by support structures on an electronic device housing wall and a flexible printed circuit that mates with the leads in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 8 is a top view of the switch and support structures of FIG. 7 following attachment of the traces in the flexible printed circuit to the leads of the switch by mounting the flexible printed circuit and support structures to a housing sidewall in an electronic device in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 9 is a diagram showing equipment and operations involved in mounting a button within an electronic device housing elongated switch leads and mounting structures in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 10 is a top view of a button having a switch housing with an extended portion on which terminals are located that are configured to mate with corresponding terminals on a flexible printed circuit when the switch housing is mounted to an electronic device housing wall in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 11 is a top view of a switch with extended leads supported by support structures that are overmolded on top of electronic device housing engagement features such as a housing wall protrusions in an electronic device in accordance with an embodiment.

"FIG. 12 a diagram showing equipment and operations involved in mounting a switch within an electronic device housing overmolded plastic switch lead support structures attached to engagement features on an interior surface of an electronic device housing wall in accordance with an embodiment."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Malek, Shayan; Cohen, Sawyer I.; Wittenberg, Michael B. Switches and Switch Mounting Structures. Filed February 5, 2013 and posted August 14, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=6722&p=135&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140807.PD.&OS=PD/20140807&RS=PD/20140807

Keywords for this news article include: Apple Inc.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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