United States Patent 3814898

An elongated housing releasably coupled to the hot air outlet end of a handheld hot air blower unit mounts a small steam generator having an electrical heating element energized by the same power supply that energizes the blower unit. The steam generator is located within an air flow passage in the housing which conducts the hot air from the blower unit to a lateral air outlet opening in the housing. The heating element vaporizes water absorbed by a wicking material in contact therewith, the water being admitted to the generator under control of a manually actuated control value form a refillable reservoir cavity formed within the housing. The steam generated is injected into the hot air flowing through the passage prior to discharge thereof through the outlet opening. A comb or brush is inserted in the outlet opening.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
34/91, 34/97, 132/112, 132/118, 219/222, 392/384, 392/395, 392/405
International Classes:
A45D20/10; A45D20/50; (IPC1-7): H05B1/00; A45D24/10
Field of Search:
219/362,370,369,374,373,381,382,380,271-276,222-226 34
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3613257N/A1971-10-19Yashiike et al.
3599345HAIR-STYLING DEVICE1971-08-17Tolmie
3258578Portable steaming device1966-06-28Ferris
2850615Fire simulator1958-09-02Luse et al.
2585132Air conditioner and humidifier1952-02-12Kalmadge
2420732Portable hair drier1947-05-20Bichsel
2277151Hot air circulating heater1942-03-24Schoomaker
2217729Hair treating apparatus1940-10-15Chancey
1811727Electric humidifier1931-06-23McCloud

Primary Examiner:
Bartis A.
I claim

1. In combination with a portable, hand-held power unit including means for establishing a flow of heated air and having one longitudinal end from which said flow of heated air is discharged, a hair treating device adapted to be releasably connected to said power unit, comprising an elongated housing enclosing a passage having an inlet and an outlet and through which said flow of heated air is conducted to atmosphere, a reservoir enclosed within said housing and containing a liquid, power activated vapor generating means mounted within said housing downstream of the passage inlet for rapidly converting the liquid into vapor, means including a manually actuated valve connecting the reservoir to the vapor generating means for controllably supplying the liquid to be converted into the vapor, means associated with the vapor generating means for injecting said vapor into said flow of heated air within the passage and coupling means mechanically connecting the housing inlet to the power unit at said one end and including means for transmitting energy therefrom to the vapor generating means for operating the same.

2. The combination of claim 1 wherein the vapor generating means includes a casing mounted within the passage and connected to said manually actuated valve and the vapor injecting means, heating means enclosed within the casing and connected to the coupling means for energization by said energy, and wicking means enclosed within the casing in contact with the heating means for absorbing the liquid from which the vapor is derived.

3. The combination of claim 2 wherein said reservoir comprises a partition wall within said housing separating the passage from a cavity enclosing a body of said liquid, said partition wall including a first portion adjacent said inlet end of said passage and forming a converging section of the passage and a second portion forming an outlet section of the passage of smaller flow area within which the casing is mounted.

4. The combination of claim 3 wherein said valve means includes a valve body extending from the casing through the partition wall into the cavity, a valve actuator projecting from the valve body through the cavity externally of the housing and means biasing the valve actuator to a valve closing position.

5. A hair treating device comprising an elongated housing having an inlet end through which a flow of heated air is induced in one direction, an air passage extending from the inlet end to an outlet opening to which the air passage is connected from from which the heated air is discharged to atmosphere transverse to said one direction, a reservoir cavity within the housing and enclosing a body of liquid spaced from said outlet opening by the air passage, vapor generating means mounted within said air passage of the housing for instantaneously converting liquid received from the reservoir cavity into vapor, and means for discharging the vapor into the flow of a heated air within the passage, the vapor generating means including a casing mounted within the passage and connected to the discharging means and having an inlet communicating with said reservoir cavity, heating means enclosed within the casing, selectively controlled valve means associated with said inlet for admitting liquid from the reservoir cavity into the casing and wicking means enclosed within the casing in contact with the heating means for holding the liquid from which the vapor is derived.

This invention relates to hair treating implements in general and more particularly to a device for injecting a mist into the heated air flow from a power operated hair drying blower.

It has been found desirable in the grooming of relatively long hair, to apply a heated flow of air with a controlled amount of moisture entrained therein. Power operated hot air blower units of the portable, hand-held type to which hair treating implements are attached, are already known as disclosed for example in U.S. Pat. No. 3,599,345 to Tolmie. The use of such a blower unit for hair grooming purposes is very convenient. An obvious method of moisturizing the air flow is to inject a spray of water. However, excessive moisture often results because it is difficult to effectively control injection of small quantities of water in a liquid state by any economically feasible or practical attachment to the portable blower unit. The injection of steam or water in its vapor state would therefore be preferable and more desirable since the vapor would not absorb the heat energy in the air flow to the same extent as a liquid spray. However, the latter method of moisturizing the air flow is not ordinarily thought of as feasible in a relatively small blower unit attachment. It is therefore an important object of the present invention to provide for the moisturizing of a heated air flow from the aforementioned type of blower unit by injection of steam generated entirely within a relatively small convenient sized comb or brush holding attachment.

In accordance with the present invention, the comb or brush holding attachment includes an elongated housing within which a refillable reservoir cavity is formed containing water that is gravity fed under control of a manually actuated valve to a steam generator. The steam generator is mounted by the housing within the air flow passage and includes an electrical heating element as its source of heat, rapidly vaporizing the water by heat conduction to a wicking material within which the water is absorbed.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a hair treating implement assembly constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged transverse sectional view taken substantially through a plane indicated by section line 2--2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partial side sectional view taken substantially through a plane indicated by section line 3--3 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an end elevational view of the steam generator shown in side elevation in FIG. 3 within the attachment head.

FIG. 5 is a partial side sectional view taken substantially through a plane indicated by section line 5--5 in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a simplified electrical circuit diagram associated with the illustrated assembly.

Referring now to the drawings in detail, FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein an attachment head generally denoted by reference numeral 10 is shown coupled to a portable power unit 12 of the type referred to in U.S. Pat. No. 3,599,345 to Tolmie, aforementioned. The power unit includes a motor operated blower 14 as diagrammatically shown in FIG. 6 and a heater 16 connected to a source of electrical energy through a power cord 18 upon closing of a switch 20 mounted on the handle casing of the power unit. The power unit is thereby operative to produce a flow of heated air emerging from its outlet end 22 to which the attachment head 10 is coupled.

As more clearly seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, the attachment head 10 includes a housing 24 formed from two sections. The housing tapers from an open inlet end 26 to an end wall 28. The housing sections also include parallel spaced side walls 30 as more clearly seen in FIG. 3 interconnected by a transversely curved top wall 32. An outlet opening 34 is formed at the bottom of the side walls and extends longitudinally from the end wall 28 terminating in spaced relation to the inlet end 26 of the housing. A hair grooming brush or comb may be inserted into the opening 34. By way of example, a comb insert 36 is shown and is retained in the housing by a pair of spring clips 38 secured to the underside of a longitudinal partition wall 40.

The partition wall 40 extends longitudinally from the intersection of the top wall 32 and the end wall 28 and is connected to an upwardly curved wall section 42 as shown in FIG. 3 to enclose a fixed reservoir cavity 44 between the top wall 32 and the partition 40 within the housing. The wall section 42 also forms a converging flow passage portion that conducts the heated air flow, as indicated by arrows 48, from the inlet end of the housing into an outflow passage portion 50 of smaller flow area along which the outlet opening 34 extends. Thus, the cavity 44 forms a heat barrier on one side of the air flow passage opposite the outlet opening to reduce heat loss through the partition wall 40 as well as to store a liquid, such as water, from which vapor is derived. A vapor or steam generator generally denoted by reference numeral 52 is mounted within the passage portion 50 of the housing between the spring holding clips 38 and below the rservoir cavity 44 to supply most of the heat vaporization to the liquid supplied thereto as will be described hereafter. The reservoir cavity is charged through an opening formed in the top wall that is sealed by a removable filler plug 56.

As more clearly seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, the steam generator 52 includes an axially elongated boiler casing 58 within which an inner tubular shell 60 is positioned. The inner shell is made of heat conductive material and encloses an electrical cartridge heating element 62 of a suitable, commercially available type. The closed end 64 of the inner shell is axially spaced from the closed end 66 of the outer casing 58, having an outlet 68. The opposite open ends of the shell and casing are closed by sealing material 70 and 72. The space within the outer casing in contact with the inner shell is filled with a wicking material 74 such as Fiberglass. Thus, electrical energy supplied to the heating element 62 through sheathed conductors 76 extending through the seal 70, generates heat that is transferred by conduction to the wicking material 74. Water entering the outer casing through an inlet sleeve 76 adjacent one axial end, is absorbed by the wicking material and rapidly vaporized into steam as it flows by capillary action toward the outlet 68 at the axial end of the casing opposite the inlet sleeve 76. Steam is therefore immediately generated when water is admitted to the casing by gravity feed from the reservoir cavity 44 through a valve assembly generally denoted by reference numeral 78. The steam emerges from the outlet 68 to fill the passage portion 50 of the housing from which it is discharged with the heated airflow through the elongated opening 34.

The casing 58 of the steam generator is longitudinally positioned within the passage portion 50 by the inlet sleeve 76 extending upward through an opening in the partition wall 40 sealed by the sealer tube 80. The sleeve 76 constitutes the valve body for the valve assembly which includes a valve plate 82 as shown in FIG. 5 abutting a valve seat seal 84 positioned on the lower flange of the sleeve 76. A valve actuator stem 86 extends upwardly from the valve plate 82 through the sleeve 76, the reservoir cavity 44 and an aligned opening in the top wall 32. At its upper end, the actuator stem is connected to the end of a leaf spring 88 biasing the valve plate to the closed position shown in FIG. 5. The spring 88 is anchored to the top wall adjacent the inlet end of the housing by a rivet 90 as more clearly seen in FIG. 3. The spring 88 is connected to the button top 92 of the valve actuator at a position enabling the user holding the assembled unit 12 in the hand, to depress the actuator and open the valve to moisturize the air flow with a charge of steam.

As hereinbefore implied, the attachment head 10 is dimensioned for assembly with the hand-held power unit 12 from which the heated air flow is derived upon actuation of the switch 20 by the fingers when grasping the power unit. The valve actuator will then be within reach of the thumb. As shown in FIG. 3, the head 10 is mechanically coupled to power unit 12 by a lock spring element 94 secured to the inside surface of the top wall adjacent the inlet end by the anchoring rivet 90. The element 94 is received in a groove formed in the externally recessed outlet end portion 22 of the power unit which is received within the inlet end of housing 24. The power unit is then also electrically coupled to the head 10 by a coupling assembly 96 including a terminal block 98 secured to the housing 24 at the inlet end and a socket 100 secured to the power unit receiving the prongs 102 from the terminal block. The current carrying conductors 76 from the heating element 62 are connected to the terminal block for energizing the heating element from the same power supply to which the blower motor 14 and heater 16 are connected in the power unit, as diagrammatically shown in FIG. 6.