Title:
Fluid filter with modular housing and method of manufacture
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fluid filter assembly that includes a filter element that is selected from a plurality of differently sized fluid elements. The filter housing includes an inlet housing section, an outlet housing section and one or more modular housing sections. The modular housing sections are located between the inlet and outlet housing sections and the number of modular housing sections included in the housing is determined by the size of the selected filter element. By employing alternative numbers of the modular housing sections, the filter housing can be constructed for use with each of the differently sized filter elements.



Inventors:
Morgan, William H. (Michigan City, IN, US)
Application Number:
10/972976
Publication Date:
04/27/2006
Filing Date:
10/25/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
210/452, 55/361
International Classes:
B01D29/11
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KURTZ, BENJAMIN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES D. HALL;BOTKIN & HALL, LLP (105 E. JEFFERSON BLVD., SUITE 400, SOUTH BEND, IN, 46601, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of manufacturing a fluid filter, said method comprising: providing an inlet housing section; providing an outlet housing section; providing a plurality of modular housing sections having a common configuration; identifying a plurality of differently sized filter elements wherein a filter housing for each of the differently sized filter elements can be assembled by securing a predetermined number of the modular housing sections between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section, and wherein the identified plurality of filter elements correspond to at least two different predetermined numbers of modular housing sections; selecting one of the differently sized filter elements; and assembling a filter housing for the selected filter element by securing the predetermined number of the modular housing sections corresponding to the selected filter element between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the modular housing sections are substantially cylindrical in shape and are coaxially securable and wherein the modular housing sections define a cylindrical filter cavity of variable longitudinal length dependent upon the number of modular housing sections secured between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the plurality of identified filter elements include a plurality of bag filters defining a plurality of differing filter lengths.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the plurality of identified filter elements include a common mounting interface for mounting the identified filter elements in the assembled filter housing.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein the inlet housing section is detachably engageable with the common mounting interface whereby the identified filter elements can be removably secured to the inlet housing section.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the modular housing sections have opposite ends defining a common end configuration and the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section each define a common assembly interface for sealingly engaging the common end configuration.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein any two of the modular housing sections can be joined end-to-end.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein the modular housing sections are substantially cylindrical.

9. A fluid filter assembly comprising: a filter element selected from one of a plurality of differently sized filter elements; a filter housing, said filter housing including: an inlet housing section; an outlet housing section; a selected number of modular housing sections disposed between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section and communicating fluid from said inlet housing section to said outlet housing section, each of said modular housing sections having a common configuration; and wherein said number of modular housing sections differs for differently sized filter elements, said selected number of modular housing sections disposed between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section being determined by said selected filter element.

10. The fluid filter assembly of claim 9 wherein said modular housing sections are substantially cylindrical and a plurality of said modular housing sections are coaxially disposed between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section.

11. The fluid filter assembly of claim 9 wherein said plurality of differently sized filter elements comprise a plurality of bag filters having bags of differing lengths.

12. The fluid filter assembly of claim 9 wherein said plurality of differently sized filter elements each have a common mounting interface engageable with said filter housing.

13. The fluid filter assembly of claim 12 wherein said common mounting interface is detachably engageable with said inlet housing section.

14. The fluid filter assembly of claim 9 wherein said modular housing sections have opposite ends defining a common end configuration and said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section each define a common assembly interface sealingly engaged with one of said common end configurations.

15. The fluid filter of claim 14 wherein a plurality of modular housing sections are joined end-to-end and disposed between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section.

16. The fluid filter of claim 15 wherein said plurality of modular housing sections are substantially cylindrical.

17. The fluid filter of claim 9 wherein said inlet housing section defines an access opening providing access to said modular housing sections and allowing installation and removal of said selected filter element therethrough; said fluid filter further comprising: a cap removably securable to said inlet housing section to sealingly close said access opening, said cap and said inlet housing section.

18. The fluid filter of claim 17 wherein said cap and said inlet housing section are securable by a camming interface.

19. The fluid filter of claim 17 further comprising a V-shaped gasket sealingly disposed between said cap and said inlet housing section, said V-shaped gasket having an open end in communication with fluid conveyed within said inlet housing section.

20. The fluid filter of claim 9 wherein said filter housing defines a filter opening, said plurality of differently sized filter elements each including a mounting ring mountable in said filter opening, each of said mounting rings having a common mounting interface, said mounting interface including an axially extending portion and a radially outwardly extending flange having a diameter greater than said filter opening, said flange being biased into a fluid tight engagement with a portion of said filter housing surrounding said filter opening by securement of said mounting ring in communication with said filter opening.

21. The fluid filter of claim 20 wherein said axially extending portion of said mounting ring includes an annular rib extending radially outwardly therefrom, said rib being seatable within an annular groove defined within said filter opening to thereby secure said axially extending portion of said mounting ring within said filter opening.

22. A fluid filter assembly system, said system comprising: a plurality of differently sized filter elements; an inlet housing section; an outlet housing section; a plurality of modular housing sections, each of said modular housing sections having a common configuration; and wherein a plurality of fluid filter housings defining a plurality of differently sized filter cavities are manufacturable from said inlet housing section, said outlet housing section and said plurality of modular housing sections by securing alternative quantities of said modular housing sections between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section and wherein a respective one of said plurality of differently sized filter cavities is sized to receive each of said differently sized filter elements.

23. The system of claim 22 wherein said modular housing sections are substantially cylindrical and said modular housing sections are coaxially securable between said inlet housing section and said outlet housing section.

24. The system of claim 23 wherein said plurality of differently sized filter elements comprise a plurality of bag filters having bags of differing lengths.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to fluid filters and, more specifically, to a fluid filter having a modular housing.

2. Description of the Related Art

Fluid filters have many manufacturing and processing applications. For example, fluid filters are often used in chemical applications, water applications, paints and coatings applications, plastics and resin applications, electronics and semiconductor applications, utilities and power generation applications, food and beverage applications and pharmaceutical applications.

Conventional fluid filters include a filter housing which receives a removable filter element which is used to trap and remove particulates and other matter in the fluid. The filter elements typically take the form of either a filter cartridge or a filter bag. The individual circumstances of each application will determine the necessary capacity of the fluid filter and conventional fluid filters are manufactured in several standard sizes to meet the differing needs of the end user. Fluid filter housings are typically manufactured to hold a particular standard sized filter element.

In the manufacture of fluid filter housings, there may be some common filter housing parts that are used in the manufacture of more than one size of filter housing, however, there are typically some housing components that define the volume of the filter housing in which the filter element is placed and which are unique for each individual size of filter housing.

Although known fluid filters and methods of manufacture are effective, an improved fluid filter which can be more cost effectively manufactured is desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides fluid filter having a modular housing that utilizes common parts to manufacture filter housings having different capacities.

The invention comprises, in one form thereof, a method of manufacturing a fluid filter. The method includes providing an inlet housing section, providing an outlet housing section and providing a plurality of modular housing sections having a common configuration. The method also includes identifying a plurality of differently sized filter elements wherein a filter housing for each of the differently sized filter elements can be assembled by securing a predetermined number of the modular housing sections between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section, and wherein the identified plurality of filter elements correspond to at least two different predetermined numbers of modular housing sections. One of the differently sized filter elements is selected and a filter housing is assembled for the selected filter element by securing the predetermined number of the modular housing sections corresponding to the selected filter element between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section.

The invention comprises, in another form thereof, a fluid filter assembly that includes a filter element selected from one of a plurality of differently sized filter elements and a filter housing. The filter housing includes an inlet housing section, an outlet housing section and a selected number of modular housing sections disposed between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section. The modular housing sections communicate fluid from the inlet housing section to the outlet housing section with each of the modular housing sections having a common configuration. The number of modular housing sections differs for differently sized filter elements and the selected number of modular housing sections disposed between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section is determined by the selection of the filter element.

The invention comprises, in yet another form thereof, a fluid filter assembly system that includes a plurality of differently sized filter elements, an inlet housing section, an outlet housing section and a plurality of modular housing sections wherein each of the modular housing sections have a common configuration. A plurality of fluid filter housings defining a plurality of differently sized filter cavities are manufacturable from the inlet housing section, the outlet housing section and the plurality of modular housing sections by securing alternative quantities of the modular housing sections between the inlet housing section and the outlet housing section. A respective one of the plurality of differently sized filter cavities is sized to receive each of the differently sized filter elements.

An advantage of the present invention is that it provides a fluid filter system that provides for the efficient manufacture of fluid filters having different sizes using a minimal number of different parts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above mentioned and other features and objects of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a fluid filter assembly in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1A is a detail view of the fluid filter assembly of FIG. 1 showing the attachment of the cap.

FIG. 1B is a detail view of the fluid filter assembly of FIG. 1 illustrating the method of attaching the filter element.

FIG. 1C is a detail view of the fluid filter assembly of FIG. 1 similar to FIG. 1B and further illustrating the method of attaching the filter element.

FIG. 2 is a top view of a modular housing section.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the modular housing section taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a side view of a filter basket.

FIG. 5 is an end view of the filter basket of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a top view of the fluid filter cap.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the cap taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a top view of the inlet housing section.

FIG. 9 is a side view of the inlet housing section of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the inlet housing section taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 8.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the outlet housing section.

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the outlet housing section taken along line 12-12 of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a filter element.

FIG. 14 is a side view of another fluid filter assembly.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. Although the exemplification set out herein illustrates an embodiment of the invention, the embodiment disclosed below is not intended to be exhaustive or to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention to the precise form disclosed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A modular fluid filter assembly 20 in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. Filter assembly 20 includes a filter housing 22 and a filter element 24. Filter housing 22 includes an inlet housing section 26, an outlet housing section 28 and modular housing sections 30. In the illustrated embodiment, filter element 24 is a bag filter and is located within filter basket 32. Cartridge filter elements may also be employed with alternative embodiments of the present invention. In the filter assembly 20 illustrated in FIG. 1, two modular housing sections 30 are disposed between inlet housing section 26 and outlet housing section 28. An alternative number of modular housing sections 30 may also be used as discussed in greater detail below.

An individual modular housing section 30 is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. As can be seen in these two figures, modular housing section 30 is substantially cylindrical. An outwardly extending ring 34 is located on the outer surface of housing section 30 at the longitudinal midpoint of housing section 30. Sidewalls 36 of housing section are slightly tapered, having a greater thickness near ring 34 and a smaller thickness near the opposing ends 38 of housing section 30. The tapering of sidewalls 36 facilitates their release from a mold during manufacture of modular housing sections 30. The interior surface of sidewalls 36 define an interior cylindrical cavity 40.

Modular housing sections 30 are joined end-to-end and co-axially. In other words, ends 38 of adjacent housing sections 30 are abutted together during assembly of filter housing 22. The ends 38 of adjacent housing sections 30 form a fluid tight seal therebetween and the abutted ends 38 may be joined by welding. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, housing sections 30 are formed of polypropylene with 20% glass fiber fill and adjacent housing sections 30 are welded together by interposing a hot plate between the two ends 38 to be joined and, after the ends 38 have been sufficiently heated, removing the plate and biasing the two ends 38 together so that they are fused together as they cool. Ends 38 may also be joined together by spin welding or any other suitable method for forming a fluid tight joint.

As described above, opposing ends 38 of each modular housing section 30 have the same configuration. Thus, regardless of the number of modular housing sections 30 located between the inlet housing section 26 and the outlet housing section 28, the joined housing sections 30 will have two opposing ends 38 that can be respectively joined to inlet housing section 26 and outlet housing section 28. Inlet and outlet housing sections 26, 28 each have an assembly interface 42 that takes the form of a cylindrical wall defining an opening 44. Assembly interfaces 42 have the same configuration as ends 38 and inlet and outlet housing sections 26, 28. Inlet and outlet sections 26, 28 are also formed of polypropylene with 20% glass fiber fill. Consequently, the assembly interfaces 42 of inlet and outlet sections 26, 28 can be joined to an end 38 of a modular housing section 30 in the same manner as ends 38 of separate modular housing sections 30 are joined together.

Inlet housing section 26 of assembly 20 is shown in FIGS. 8, 9 and 10 and includes an access opening 46 located coaxially and opposite opening 44. Inlet housing section 26 also includes a threaded inlet opening 48 that is joined to a fluid line to receive the fluid that is to be filtered by filter assembly 20. As best seen in FIGS. 8 and 9, a camming interface for securing cap 56 to inlet housing section 26 includes a series of cam locking members 50 are located on the outer surface of generally cylindrical inlet housing section 26. Cam locking members 50 include a circumferentially extending locking portion 52 and a longitudinally extending stop 54. Cap 56 includes a plurality of cooperating cam locks 58 that extend circumferentially along the inner surface of cap 56. Cam locks 58 each include an inclined surface 60 and a locking surface 62. When mounting cap 56 to inlet housing section 26, cam locks 58 fit between locking members 50 as cap 56 is longitudinally mounted on inlet housing section 26. Rotation of cap 56 engages each inclined surface 60 with one of the locking members 50 on inlet housing section 26. As cap 56 is rotated, locking surfaces 62 are rotated into engagement with locking portions 52 to tightly engage cap 56 with inlet housing section 26. As cap 56 is further rotated, cam locks 58 engage stops 54 which thereby prevent the over-rotation of cap 56.

A V-shaped gasket 66 (FIG. 1A) is used to form a fluid tight seal between cap 56 and inlet housing section 26. Gasket 66 is located between the inner radial surface 64 of inlet housing 26 that defines access opening 46 and cylindrical lip 68 located on cap 56. Gasket 66 has an open end 70 that faces the interior volume of inlet housing section 26 so that the interior of gasket 66 is in fluid communication with the fluid within filter assembly 20. Consequently, when pressurized fluid is present in filter assembly 20 the fluid will bias the two separate legs of gasket 66 apart and into sealing contact with interior surface 64 and outer radial surface of lip 68 respectively. Inlet housing section 26 includes a vent bore 67 at its upper rim which is sealed by gasket 66 when cap 56 is properly seated. If the cap is not properly seated, liquid will seep from bore 67 when the filter is filled to alert the user.

Filter element 24 is secured by engagement with inlet housing section 26 near assembly interface 42. Filter element 24 has a mounting ring 72 that is removably mounted to inlet housing section 26 in a snap fit engagement. Ring 72 defines a mounting interface that includes an outer radially extending flange 74 and a generally cylindrical section 76 having an outwardly extending annular rib 78 which may be segmented. Ring 72 also includes a second cylindrical mounting section 80 having a smaller diameter. Filter bag 82 is secured to mounting section 80. In the illustrated embodiment, ring 72 is formed of polypropylene. Other materials, however, such as nylon, polyester or steel may also be used to form the mounting ring of a bag-type filter element.

Filter bag 82 is a conventional non-woven felt filter bag. Such filter bags may be formed from fibers of a variety of different materials such as polyester, polypropylene, nylon, nomex, TeflonĀ® or other suitable material as is well known to those having ordinary skill in the art. Filter bag 82 has an open end that is attached to mounting section 80 of ring 72 by ultrasonic welds 84. Stitching or other suitable means may alternatively or additionally be employed to attach bag 82 to ring 72. Bag-type filter elements suitable for use with the present invention are commercially available from Filter Specialists, Inc. having a place of business in Michigan City, Ind. For purposes of clarity, filter bag 82 is not shown in FIG. 1.

When installing filter element 24 in filter housing 22, filter bag 80 is inserted through access opening 46 and opening 44 into the interior volume 40 of modular housing sections 30 until mounting ring 72 engages inlet housing section 26 adjacent opening 44 to secure filter element 24 within assembly 20. The snap-fit securement of mounting ring 72 is best seen in FIGS. 1B and 1C. FIG. 1B illustrates mounting ring 72 immediately prior to its securement. As can be seen in FIG. 1B, outer radial flange 74 forms an acute angle with cylindrical section 76 and as axially-extending portions 80, 76 of ring 72 are inserted further into opening 44, radial flange 74 tightly engages inclined shoulder surface 86 which surrounds opening 44. An annular groove 88 is located within opening 44 and rib 78 is seated within groove 88 to secure mounting ring 72 in place. As illustrated in FIG. 1C, the seating of rib 78 within groove 88 forces outer radial flange 74 relatively upwardly as it engages shoulder surface 86 to thereby form a fluid tight seal between flange 74 and shoulder surface 86. The dashed line 74a shown in FIG. 1C illustrates the position of radial flange 74 in an unbiased condition.

Ring 72 may also be provided with internal handles (not shown) that extend generally diametrically across ring 72 to allow ring 72 to be more easily flexed radially inwardly during insertion and removal of ring 72. Such handles are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,669,167 which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

A reticulated filter basket 32 may optionally be employed with the present invention when using a bag-type filter element. Filter basket 32 has a length that corresponds to the length of the filter bag and is used to prevent the filter bag from engaging the interior surface of the filter housing during filtering operations. Filter basket 32 is positioned within the filter volume defined by modular housing sections 30 and rests upon ribs 90 located within outlet housing section 28. Filter basket 32 has a generally perforated structure defining fluid openings 92 over the majority of its surface area as best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5 with protrusions 94.

During filtering operations, fluid enters filter assembly 20 through inlet 48 and then passes through ring 72 and opening 44 and into filter bag 82. The fluid then passes through bag 82. As the fluid passes through bag 82, the fluid is filtered and particulates removed from the fluid. The filtered fluid then passes through openings 92 in filter basket 32. The filtered fluid flows between filter basket 32 and the interior surface of filter housing 22 towards threaded outlet opening 96 in outlet housing section 28 where it exits filter assembly 20.

Outlet housing section 28 is shown in FIGS. 11 and 12 and includes three feet 98 for supporting filter assembly 20 in a vertical orientation. Ribs 90 located within the interior volume of outlet housing section 28 are best seen in FIG. 11.

A bag-type filter element 24 is illustrated in FIG. 13. In the illustrated filter element 24, filter bag 82 has a length that corresponds to the filter cavity 40 defined by the use of two modular housing sections 30 as depicted in the fluid filter assembly 20 of FIG. 1. Dashed lines 82a and 82b indicate the length of two alternatively sized filter elements. In each case, the differently sized bag-type filter elements would employ a mounting ring 72 having the same configuration whereby each of the bags could be mounted, using the snap-fit securement method described above, in an inlet housing 26.

As described above, modular housing sections 30 each have the same configuration and are coaxially securable to thereby define a filter cavity 40 having a length that varies depending upon the number of modular housing sections 30 joined together. Thus, when it is desired to manufacture a fluid filter that employs a filter element with a bag having a length 82a, the filter housing is constructed using only a single modular housing section 30 as depicted in FIG. 14. The fluid filter assembly 20a shown in FIG. 14 thereby defines a filter cavity 40 having a length suited for use with the selected filter element. Similarly, when it is desired to manufacture a fluid filter that employs a filter element with a bag having a length 82b, the filter housing is constructed using three modular housing sections 30 to thereby define a filter cavity 40 having an appropriate length.

The present invention thereby facilitates the efficient manufacture of filter housings for a variety of differently sized filter elements. Each of the filter housings will employ an inlet housing section 26, in which each of the different filter elements can be removably mounted, an outlet housing section 28, and one or more modular housing sections 30. The number of modular housing sections being determined by the size of the filter element with which the filter housing is intended to be used.

While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles.