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Triple hinge enables light, rugged convertible

Business-ruggedUnique Technology

Part 10. Triple hinge enables light, rugged convertible
The T-Series business rugged TOUGHBOOK enjoys a great reputation among corporate users thanks to its touch panel, lightweight, and long battery life. These users have been hoping for a convertible version of the T-Series. In response, we have brought out the business rugged CF-C1. Of course, being Panasonic, it comes with our unique technology that cannot be found in similar convertible PCs of other manufacturers.
The most outstanding feature is the rotation mechanism of the display. It is this “Triple Hinge” that we will discuss below.

Weak hinges are a problem with thin-form factor convertibles

During development of the CF-C1, Panasonic interviewed company users of convertible PCs. We collected the grievances of many users when using other convertible PC in current market and discovered that the main complaint was the fragility of PCs caused by weak hinges that connect the display.

The typical convertible PC employs a 2-axis hinge system that allows two types of movement: display rotation, and opening and closing. This mechanism is used in the fully-rugged TOUGHBOOK CF-19 designed for use on worksites. However, since a one hinge handles two types of rotation, problems would arise, such as the hinge or body breaking, if there was no strength in the hinge itself or the body to which it was attached. With rugged bodies such as that of the CF-19, there is no worry about strength; however, convertible PCs that have a thin body tend to not have enough strength.

Also, since one hinge handles rotation in two directions, rotation is also possible when opened or closed. As a consequence, with regular laptops, it is difficult to keep displays fixed in the forward position. With laptops that have touch panels, the problem is that the display will unintentionally rotate when the user firmly presses near the edge of the display.

Moreover, if the PC is dropped, the display may open at an unnatural angle causing its edge to hit and damage the body. The dissatisfaction we heard about during our interviews mainly concerned problems with hinge constructions such as this when using other convertible PC in current market.

This is what we focused on when Panasonic decided to build a lightweight, business rugged convertible model. Ruggedness is an indispensable factor. However, if we used a rugged hinge and body such as that used in the CF-19, it would make it too heavy. To get around this, we developed the “Triple Hinge”.

The typical convertible PC employs a 2-axis hinge system that allows two types of movement: display rotation, and opening and closing.

3-axis triple hinge structure with separate mechanisms for rotation, and opening and closing

Under the premise of a business-rugged body, there is a limit to how lightweight and rugged we could make a 2-axis hinge. To get around this, Panasonic took the approach of dispersing the stress of rotation and opening/closing to two different parts rather than having a single part handle both types of directions. The result of this approach was the “Triple Hinge”, in which strength is maintained separately in the parts for each type of motion.

3-axis triple hinge structure with separate mechanisms for rotation, and opening and closing.

As shown in Fig. 1, the triple hinge has a hinge support placed between two side hinges that take care of opening and closing the display. Above that is placed a center hinge that takes care of rotation. Since the stress applied when reversing the display is ingeniously dispersed among three hinges, the level of strength demanded of each individual part becomes less and this allowed us to succeed in creating a system that is both lightweight and which uses hinges able to sufficiently withstand the stress. Also, since the twisting stress applied to the cabling that connects the monitor to the PC has been dispersed, cable severance has become more difficult compared to 2-axis hinge models.

Display Rotation Lock prevents unintentional rotation when using touch panel

The problem with existing convertible PCs is that the display inadvertently rotates when used as a touch panel. This was unavoidable in PCs that used a 2-axis hinge in which the display was supported at only one point in the center.

For the CF-C1, we took advantage of the triple hinge configuration and provided a Display Rotation Lock. By sliding the LCD forced lock lever, the display and hinge support become locked and prevent the display from rotating. As a result, like regular, non-convertible laptops, the display can move only in the directions for opening and closing, and unintentional rotation is prevented.

Display Rotation Lock prevents unintentional rotation when using touch panel.

Strength maintained by reverse bonnet construction and ribs on the back of the top plate

In order to pass the 100kgf pressurized vibration test, a major indicator of design ruggedness, Panasonic business rugged PC utilizes the “bonnet construction” in which the magnesium alloy top plate is formed to a shape similar to the hood of an automobile in order to increase strength. However, with convertible PCs that have displays which are rotated, inverted and closed so that the screen side faces up, it would be impossible to close the display over the keyboard with the existing outwardly rounded displays such as those with the bonnet shape.

In answer to this problem, we did the opposite of what we did before by giving a concave shape to the inner side the top plate. This “reverse bonnet” construction keeps the top of the top plate flat. Furthermore, we added numerous ribs to the inner side of the top plate to maintain strength.

Strength maintained by reverse bonnet construction and ribs on the back of the top plate.

While being a lightweight convertible, the usual strength of a business rugged model is achieved

Thanks to the triple hinge structure of the CF-C1, we have achieved a product that has the same ruggedness as other Panasonic business rugged PCs even though it has a rotation mechanism. The CF-C1 succeeded in passing the 76 cm {30 in} operating drop test, the 26 sides 30 cm {12 in} non operating drop test, and the 100kgf pressurized vibration test.
Having also undergone the challenging endurance test, we have created a rugged PC that truly stands apart from other lightweight convertible PCs.
Of course, the keyboard used is spill resistant.
As introduced above, we would like to show all convertible PC users that we have created a product that we can truly recommend with pride.

Next, we will explain the long battery life of the CF-C1.

For further information about our products, how to purchase them and more, please visit the website of your region.

Specification and configuration may vary depending on country. Accessories may vary depending on your mobile PC configuration.
Specifications subject to change without notice.
Consult a Panasonic sales office near you for more details and availability of integrated options.

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