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METHOD FOR PRODUCING BATTERY
TESTER LABEL AND RESULTING LABEL
AND BATTERY ASSEMBLY
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED 5
This is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/426,367 filed Apr. 21, 1995, entitled METHOD FOR SECURING A TESTER DEVICE TO A BATTERY AND THE BATTERY SO PRODUCED now U.S. Pat. No. 5,626, 978 which is a continuation of Ser. No. 08/056,054 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,409,788 filed May 3, 1993; and a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/377,178 filed Jan. 24, 1995, entitled BATTERY WITH TESTER LABEL AND METHOD FOR PRODUCING IT, now patent 5,538,806, which is a continuation of Ser. No. 08/056/160 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,393, 618 filed May 3,1993; which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/377,352 filed Jan. 24, 1995, entitled BATTERY WITH TESTER LABEL AND METHOD FOR PRODUC- 2Q ING IT, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,049 which is a continuation of 08/056,058 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,389,458 filed May 3, 1993.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a method for producing a battery tester label and the resulting label and battery assembly. The novel battery tester label is readily formed from two subcomponents which are easily manufactured and which can be stored for subsequent assembly of the tester 30 label. The present invention also relates to processes for producing multiple battery tester labels disposed on a common releasable liner.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 35
Batteries are often stored before being used. Batteries are typically stored by retailers before being sold. After purchase by a consumer, such batteries are again typically stored for some period of time prior to use. If the period of storage is significant, batteries may self-discharge. Therefore, it is desirable to utilize a battery tester to determine if a battery has sufficient charge to operate a desired device.
It is also desirable, on frequent occasions, to determine 45 the remaining life of batteries which are in use. Many "good" batteries are discarded simply because the user cannot recall how long they have been used in a particular device, i.e., a camera, tape deck, etc. For similar reasons, batteries often reach a useless or near useless state of 5Q discharge when no replacements are readily available. Separate or stand-alone battery testers are known which indicate remaining battery power. However, such testers are easily misplaced and cumbersome to use.
Battery testers have been described that are included in a 55 label secured to a battery. However, such battery testers are intricate and difficult to manufacture, particularly at high rates necessary for large volume production. Thus, there is a need for a battery tester label having a minimal number of components and a process which can be employed in high go rate commercial manufacturing operations.
Previously described battery tester labels, such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,059,895 to Cataldi et al., require a complex arrangement of the conductive layer and additional conductors to electrically connect and disconnect the layer 65 to and from the battery. Such intricate assemblies are susceptible to numerous problems during assembly and are
costly in view of the additional conductive components necessary which must be formed and incorporated into the assembly. Thus, there is a need for a battery tester label which does not require numerous electrically conductive components to connect and disconnect the tester to the battery, and which can be easily and inexpensively manufactured.
In many large-scale manufacturing operations, it is desirable to utilize preassembled components. Such practice minimizes process complexity and as a result often reduces manufacturing downtime. Therefore, it is also desirable to provide a process for forming a battery tester label in which one or more subcomponents of the label assembly can be manufactured, stored and later readily assembled into a tester label. In particular, it is desirable to provide a process for forming a plurality of battery testers which can be easily stored or applied to batteries. The present invention process and resulting assembly, as described and claimed herein, achieve all of the foregoing objectives.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a method for producing a battery tester label comprising a tester device and a base layer. The process comprises providing a tester device including a conductive circuit defining switch segments on one face of a dielectric substrate and an indicator layer disposed on the other face; providing a base layer comprising a dielectric substrate and thermal insulation disposed on one face of the substrate; forming first and second apertures in the base layer, with at least one raised switch throw pad at one of the apertures; orienting the tester device with the base layer such that the conductive circuit faces the thermal insulation and the switch segments directly overlie the apertures formed in the base layer; and affixing the tester device to the base layer to thereby form the battery tester label of the present invention. The invention also provides the resulting battery tester label, and when applied to a battery, the resulting battery and label assembly. Also provided is a method for producing a plurality of battery tester labels disposed on a common releasable liner. The array of resulting tester labels can be immediately applied to batteries or stored on the liner for shipment or subsequent use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an illustration of a battery having a battery tester label in accordance with this invention disposed about the outer periphery of the battery;
FIG. 2 is a cross section of the battery tester label taken along plane II—II of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a subcomponent of the battery tester label, referred to herein as the inserted tester device;
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the inserted tester device;
FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the inserted tester device, the cross-hatching indicating a layer of adhesive;
FIG. 6 is an exploded view of another subcomponent of the battery tester label, referred to herein as the base layer;
FIG. 7 is a cross section of a battery and the battery tester label;
FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the battery tester label; and FIG. 9 is an exploded view of a plurality of battery tester labels disposed on a common releasable liner.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
The present invention provides a method for preparing a battery tester label and attaching the resulting label to a
battery. The preferred embodiment method generally comprises forming two subcomponents, an inserted tester device and a base layer, and combining the inserted tester device with the base layer to produce the battery tester label of the present invention. The resulting label can then be applied to 5 a battery or stored for later attachment.
FIG. 1 illustrates a battery and label assembly 1 comprising a battery can 2, a negative terminal 4, and a positive terminal 6. Can 2 may be in electrical contact with positive terminal 6. Extending around and attached to the periphery 1Q of can 2 is the battery tester label 10 which is the subject of this invention comprising switches 64 and 65 which activate the tester incorporated within label 10 to indicate the state of charge of the battery by exposing indicia 23 or producing some other visual indication.
The first subcomponent of the preferred embodiment label 10 is an inserted tester device 15, best illustrated in FIGS. 2-5. Tester device 15 generally comprises a laminate or layered assembly having a substrate layer 20, an elongated electrically conductive circuit 18 disposed on a first face of 20 substrate 20, a pressure-sensitive adhesive 16 disposed on portions of both conductive circuit 18 and the first face of substrate 20. Adhesive 16, indicated by cross-hatching in FIG. 5, is preferably applied over conductive layer 18 in the pattern illustrated. It is omitted from those areas which will 25 overlie printed insulation 44 and switch pads 42 when the inserted tester 15 is affixed to base layer 30. This adhesive pattern retards moisture from migrating to the switch pad areas 60 and 61 while not interfering with the function of either the pads or the insulation to be discussed. 30
Device 15 further comprises one or more graphic layers 22, preferably of decorative ink, and indicia 23 that are disposed on a second face of substrate 20 opposite the face containing the conductive circuit 18. Device 15 also comprises a layer of an indicator material 24 that is deposited 35 upon the second face, preferably upon graphic layers 22 and indicia 23. As described in greater detail below, the indicator material preferably comprises a temperature sensitive indicating material. A layer of a clear protective coating (not shown) is preferably deposited over the indicator layer and 40 optionally upon graphic layers 22 and other exposed regions of the second face of substrate 20.
The inserted tester device 15, as shown in FIGS. 2-5 and 8, is preferably prepared as follows. A plastic film is provided for substrate 20. Although FIG. 3 illustrates substrate 45 20 as being transparent, substrate 20 could be formed from a wide variety of other materials including opaque and translucent materials. Conductive circuit 18 is deposited on one face of substrate 20. The conductive circuit is preferably deposited in the form of a pattern comprising two distal 50 regions for forming switches, referred to and illustrated herein as switch segments 60 and 61, and a medially disposed area of controlled resistivity 62 which undergoes an increase in temperature upon passage of electrical current. A pressure-sensitive adhesive material 16 is deposited 55 on at least portions of either or both the conductive circuit 18 and substrate 20 face. As previously noted, particular regions of conductive circuit 18 are left exposed and not covered with pressure-sensitive adhesive 16; namely, the switch segments 60 and 61 and area of controlled resistivity 60 62. A silicone coated release liner, such as a silicone coated paper or plastic film (not shown), is applied onto the previously deposited pressure-sensitive adhesive 16 to facilitate handling and/or storage of inserted tester device 15. 65
Graphics and/or other labeling colors 22 in the form of a layer or layers of decorative ink and indicia 23 are printed
to the opposite side of substrate 20 from that on which the conductive circuit 18 is positioned. It is preferred that indicia 23 be disposed directly above the area of controlled resistivity 62 of conductive circuit 18 located on the other side of substrate 20. Additional graphics are also preferably printed to designate switch regions 64 and 65. If necessary, one or more curing operations may be performed to cure or partially cure the graphic or coloring layers.
On the same side of the substrate as the graphics and/or labeling colors, a thermochromic ink or other indicator material 24 is deposited onto substrate 20 such that it is situated directly above the area of controlled resistivity 62 of conductive circuit 18 and preferably over indicia 23. A clear protective coating, such as a varnish film, is then applied over and onto the indicator material, and optionally over the remaining regions of this side of substrate 20 to protect such regions from damage by subsequent manufacturing or storage operations. Each of the previously described layers or elements preferably have a thickness of from about 0.00005 inch to about 0.005 inch. The inserted tester device, if necessary, can be cut to an appropriate size.
The second subcomponent of the preferred embodiment label 10 is a base layer 30, best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 6. Base layer 30 is a laminate or layered structure comprising a substrate 34, with one face having a layer of pressuresensitive adhesive 32 for subsequent contact with a battery, and another face having one or more layers as follows: a metallization layer 36; a primer and/or decorative layer 38; an electrical insulation layer 40; and a thermal insulation layer 44. Also residing proximate to the thermal insulation layer are one or more switch throw pads 42 described in greater detail below.
Base layer 30 is prepared as follows. A plastic film is provided for the base layer substrate 34. Apressure-sensitive adhesive material 32 is deposited upon the face of the base layer substrate 34 that will subsequently face and contact the battery. A silicone release liner is applied on the pressuresensitive adhesive to facilitate handling and other processing operations. On the opposite face of base layer substrate 34, one or more graphic or labeling color layers are deposited, for instance, by printing. Preferably, a metallization layer 36 is utilized to provide a decorative reflective layer. If a metallization layer is deposited, it will in most instances be necessary to deposit a receptive coating or primer layer 38 onto those regions of metallization layer 36 upon which other decorative layers are to be deposited. Primer layer 38 may in itself be a decorative layer. It is also desirable to deposit a layer of electrical insulation 40 upon metallization layer 36 and/or primer layer 38 to prevent electrical contact, i.e., shorting, between layer 36 and the conductive circuit 18 of inserted tester device 15 upon assembly of tester label 10.
Thermal insulation 44 is positioned in an area of base layer substrate 34 that will be disposed beneath the indicator material 24 and the maximum resistance area 62 of conductive circuit 18 of the previously described inserted tester device. This thermal insulation reduces heat transfer from the area of controlled resistivity 62 of conductive circuit 18 to the battery. If such heat transfer is not controlled and the battery is permitted to act as a heat sink, the change in temperature at indicator material 24 may be insufficient to provide an accurate indication of the battery state of charge.
Thermal insulation 44, as shown, comprises a plurality of apertures 46 which, when assembled into the laminate structure of the preferred label 10, provide air pockets which further thermally insulate the conductive circuit 18 from the battery. Optionally, a larger region of air space or void may