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It is known that there are numerous solutions on the market of combined drawers intended for the distribution of water in washing machines, where combination refers to the physical union of the valve distributing the feed water with the structure of the drawer for holding and dispensing detergents such as washing detergent, conditioner and bleach.
The forerunner patent of this approach is represented by patent no. 1.270.257 of 20.06.1994 of T & P, extended both in Europe (European Patent no. 0688895) and in the USA (U.S. Pat. No. 5,687,590).
The advantages compared to traditional drawers connected with pipes are wholly evident, and can easily be seen in the reduction in the costs and in the increase in reliability of these devices, thanks to the elimination of the seals, joints and all the other elements which are placed between the valve body and the drawer, not to mention simplification of management of these components by the manufacturers of washing machines who, in this way, can use one single supplier and can adopt a single identification code for the component (built-in drawer).
However the continuous drive by the market towards an increasingly marked reduction in costs encourages the producers of components to make increasing improvements to their production range, it being always fully understood that this is on condition that the guarantee of safety against overflow and relative consequences is maintained high, a fear which until now has been an obstacle to further moves in this process of simplification.
By overcoming these fears it was realised that a decisive step in development, in order to enhance these results of simplification and hence of reduction in costs, naturally on a par with guarantees of safety and reliability, could be represented by the production of a drawer incorporating some parts of the valve, which entails elimination of the pipe and connection clamps between distribution valve and drawer, and hence elimination also of the seals and screws required for assembly and connection of the valve body to the drawer.
In this way not only are numerous production phases eliminated but, with the disappearance of the lever mechanisms, springs, screws and anything else which until the recent past was necessary for connecting the valve body to the drawer, the guarantee of safety in these devices has also increased, in that numerous causes of malfunctioning of these components of washing machines have been removed for the future.
In fact the solution which is described herein below with the present patent definitively fulfils the need for maintaining the valve body as a separate component of the valve-drawer assembly, so that in this way not only is a radical reduction in assembly costs achieved, but even a radical restriction of costs of production of the elements which are necessary for manufacturing the valve-drawer assembly, thus increasing also the safety percentage of the integrated assembly obtained in this way.
The object of the present invention consists in the production of a drawer intended to hold the detergents of a washing machine, totally integrated to the extent that it comprises internally, at least in part, also the functions of the distribution valve.
This is possible in complete safety thanks to the solution, illustrated herein under by way of a non-limiting example, of a drawer intended to hold the detergents of a washing machine with loading from above of the same detergents.
The solution foreseen has numerous, extensive advantages, such as:
These aspects will be made clearer on reading of a preferred embodiment of the invention, to be read by way of a non-limiting example of the more general principle claimed.
The following description refers to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the drawer of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectioned view of the valve formed in this specific case on the lid of the drawer, with attachment of the tubes by threading;
FIG. 3 is a sectioned view of the valve formed in this specific case on the lid of the drawer, with bayonet coupling of the tubes.
The following is a description of the preferred embodiment.
Referring to FIG. 1, only part of the drawer is shown, whether the lid, back or spray compartment, wherein the body of the valve, the object of this patent, is formed. Therefore the valve seats wherein the channels for the water and the sealed seats of the diaphragms are formed, whatever the type of valve to be used, become part of the lid itself, in this preferred embodiment being described.
The valve body 4 is formed directly in an element of the drawer, in this case in the lid, by means of single combined moulding of the element of the drawer with the valve body 4 by a known method, so that both said components are of the same material, that is to say, in general, natural PP or with filler, which in any case guarantees tightness at the pressures which are generated in the valve body 4.
The new mould therefore comprises, in addition to the component of the drawer, also all the main conduits of the valve body 4: the main feed conduit and the secondary conduits of outflow of fluid towards the drawer. Again in the same mould the seats of the system of hooking of the tubes 2 to the valve body-component system 4 are formed.
The lid 6 wherein the body of the valve 4 is formed is then joined by means of a known mechanism to the back 1 of the drawer.
In traditional valves the tubes 2 are generally glued in the seats of the valve body 4, whereas in this new valve, since ultrasound joining is not possible between the PP of the valve body 4 and the nylon, material whereof the tubes 2 are composed so as to resist the temperature gradients of the fluid, it was decided at this point to form directly in the same body of the valve 4, as in the embodiment illustrated, the threads for attachment by screwing of the tubes 2: the threads are of the triangular type so as to guarantee tightness at the approval pressures of the valve.
The tubes 2, in other preferred embodiments, can be mounted directly on the lid 6 by known snap or bayonet hooks formed on the same tubes 2 and on the seats of the valve body 4. The correct dimensioning of the hooks and/or of the threaded connection 3 guarantees permanent joining of the components, which can therefore only be disassembled intentionally, with a clear increase in safety for the possible faults which may occur.
Referring now to FIG. 2, the hydraulic tightness of the tube 2—valve body 4 system is guaranteed by the presence of a diaphragm 7 which adheres to the seat of the tube 2 once mounted. Opening and closure are commanded by the coil 5 which acts, as in the past, on a small piston in a metal material to whose movement a spring opposes (not shown in FIG. 2) which acts directly on the diaphragm 7 and allows its opening and closure with consequent flow of water to the drawer.
Referring now also to FIG. 3, a second mode of attachment of the tube 2 to the drawer-valve body 4 by means of a snap mechanism known as the “bayonet” type is illustrated: hydraulic tightness in this case is guaranteed by the presence of an 0-ring seal 10 which does not allow the fluid to leak out between the tube 2 and the valve body 4. Since the diaphragm 7 is not foreseen, the bayonet coupling allows the small piston 8 to act directly on the flow of the fluid 11 by means of a cap 9, and a spring 12 opposes the movement. This leads to a further reduction in the components of the system, to the full benefit of the costs and simplification of production.
Moreover, referring again to FIG. 1, the routes for the flow of the fluid are formed directly in the back of the drawer 1 and in the lid 6 with further constructional and assembly simplification.
The description shows that the drawer made in this way takes on functions both as a drawer, understood as a container of detergents for washing, and of valve body with functions of distribution of the fluid to the various compartments, thanks to the presence of internal pre-moulded channels in the drawer which take the water to the specific detergent compartment.
It is understood that all that is described above is purely descriptive yet not limiting of the different embodiments of the invention.