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The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/329,702 filed Jan. 12, 2006.
This invention relates to a tissue dispenser, and more specifically to a paper tissue dispenser for dispensing tissue that is dispensed from a roll.
Rolled paper dispensers such as toilet tissue dispensers are considered an essential in residential and commercial facilities. In particular, the storage, accessibility and replacement of toilet tissue rolls dining use are important factors. In one standard embodiment, toilet tissue dispensers are fastened to the wall, and typically recessed into a bathroom wall adjacent a toilet. Moreover, such a dispenser typically includes a roller or roller less rod upon which a toilet paper roll rolls when toilet paper is dispensed. In existing homes and commercial toilet facilities, property owners and/or users have abandoned using such recessed toilet paper dispensers due to the inconvenience of: (a) removing the central tube cores remaining after the rolled paper is depleted, and (b) inserting new tissue rolls on the roller of such dispensers. In particular, the need to remove and replace a roller upon which a toilet tissue rolls is supported has several disadvantages. For example, such a roller can be lost, the roller can be dropped onto a dirty floor, the roller can be dropped into a toilet (or sink) and clog plumbing, the roller can become loose within its dispenser thereby causing its supported roll of tissue to fall onto the floor. Additionally, such a roller can be very inconvenient to handicapped persons in that replacing a depleted roll with a new roll may require more hand dexterity than a handicapped person is capable. Furthermore, since paper tissues dispensed from rolls may be used for various purposes, e.g., wrapping of hair, blowing one's nose, wiping up spills, etc., such tissue rolls may have to be replaced frequently. Accordingly, instead of replacing tissue rolls on a detachable (likely spring loaded) roller, the tissue rolls may be placed in a convenient location nearby to a toilet or sink, such as on the floor or a countertop adjacent to the unused dispenser, thereby rendering the tissue dispenser useless.
In some cases consideration is given to replacing such a recessed tissue dispenser altogether with, e.g., a dispenser that dispenses individual non-rolled tissues, or a paper dispenser holds very large rolls (or multiple rolls) wherein these dispensers are not recessed into the wall. However, such alternatives to pre-existing recessed tissue dispensers are likely to require patching the wall having the recess so that the recess is removed from the wall. In many instances this is beyond the ability or practicality of the property owner due to drywall, file, wallpaper, paneling, painting or any other wall composition or covering which must also be repaired, many times which is impossible due to the age of the covering or painting.
Accordingly, it would be desirable to have a tissue dispenser for dispensing rolled tissue (e.g., toilet tissue), wherein tissue rolls may be easily installed in and removed from such a dispenser, and wherein any existing wall cut out for such a tissue dispenser is utilized. In particular, it would be desirable for such an improved tissue dispenser to be easily operated by users to replace the core tube of a depleted tissue roll with a new roll so that new rolls are not randomly positioned around, e.g., a toilet, countertop or sink.
The present invention is a dispenser for rolled material such as toilet paper and paper towels, wherein the dispenser includes a support about which a roll of the rolled material rotates when dispensing portions of the material, and wherein the support does not detach from a housing of the dispenser when a new tissue roll is provided on the support In particular, the support may remain attached to the housing by one end of the support during the process of changing or replacing a roll of toilet paper or paper towels.
Accordingly, when an embodiment of the present invention is used to dispense rolled toilet paper (or paper towels), besides eliminating the objections and limitations of prior art dispensers (e.g., as described in the Background section hereinabove), the following objects are provided:
(a) a more convenient residential and commercial tissue dispenser that can be inserted into an existing wall cut out or recess so that wall repairs are unnecessary;
(b) a tissue dispenser that is more useable and convenient for persons of different age groups and physical abilities (e.g., children, handicapped persons, and elderly persons);
(c) a recessed tissue dispenser capable of dispensing toilet tissue from a tissue roll of any standard size, e.g., approximately 4 to 6 inch diameter tissue rolls;
(d) a tissue roll storage and dispensing device that can be manufactured from substantially any one or more of: an appropriate metal (e.g., steel, brass, etc.), an appropriate rigid plastic, and/or wood;
(e) a tissue roll storage and dispensing device that can be painted or decoratively finished, e.g., to match a wall within which the dispenser may be attached;
(f) a tissue storage and dispensing device that can be positioned at any height or location; accordingly, such positioning can be particularly adapted for by handicapped persons;
(g) a tissue storage and dispensing device that does not require physical dexterity (including sight) to replace a toilet paper roll. In one embodiment, the dispenser may be manipulated with a single hand for providing a new roll of rolled material. In particular, a handicapped user can attach a toilet paper roll to a dispenser embodiment with a single hand.
In one embodiment, a dispenser support for the rolled material may be biased so that when the support is disconnected at one end from the housing, the support moves to a position that allows a user to easily provide a new roll of the rolled material on the support.
Further objects and advantages of the present invention are to provide a dispenser of rolled paper which can be easily and conveniently used to install and remove a roll of tissue or paper such as a roll of toilet paper or a roll of paper towels. In particular, the present invention obviates the need to remove and replace a spring loaded roller in prior art dispensers of rolled paper. Still further objects and advantages will become apparent from the ensuing description and drawings.
FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a recessed tissue or paper dispenser for dispensing rolled tissue or paper constructed in accordance with the present invention and illustrated mounted in a recessed wall opening.
FIG. 2 is a side view of the toilet tissue dispenser 10, wherein a cross section of the support arm 23 is shown according to the cross section corresponding to the view arrows A in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a top elevated view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet tissue dispenser 10, wherein the end of the support arm 23 that pivotally attaches to the extension 12 is cylindrical.
FIG. 4 is an rear view of the toilet tissue dispenser 10.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a recessed rollerless toilet paper dispenser 10 in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 6 is a front plan view of the tissue dispenser 10 of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a front plan view similar to FIG. 6 showing the position of the support arm 23 as a roll 44 of tissue is being removed or installed.
FIG. 8 is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 5 also showing a roll of toilet paper 44 thereon.
FIG. 9 is a top view of an embodiment similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 5.
FIG. 10 shows a side view of an alternative embodiment of the extension 88.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is illustrated a recessed toilet tissue dispenser 10 for dispensing toilet paper in accordance with the present invention. The dispenser 10 includes a base or housing 11. In the present embodiment, the base 11 is of an elongated rectangular configuration having a top surface 21 of a flange 24, and a recessed portion 22. The recessed portion 22 and the flange 24 may be connected together by any appropriate structure such as walls 26 in the present embodiment. Alternatively, the recessed portion 22 may smoothly deform so that the recessed portion includes the walls 26. The recessed portion 22 is sized and shaped to fit into a cut out 28 of a wall 32, wherein the cut out 28 is of sufficient extent so the recessed portion 22 fits within the cut out, and wherein the flange 24 entirely covers the perimeter of the cut out 28. The dispenser 10 further includes a stationary arm extension 12 projecting outwardly, e.g., at substantially right angles, from the flange 24. In one embodiment, the extension 12 may be fixedly attached to the flange 24. However, in another embodiment, the extension 12 may be mounted on the housing 11 so that the extension 12 is rotatable in the directions of arrow 36. The free end of the extension 12 includes an attachment structure 40 for pivotally attaching a support arm 23 so that the support arm is pivotal toward and away from the housing 11. In particular, the attachment structure 40 may connect the extension 12 and the support 23 via a pivot pin 13.
Note that the support arm 23 provides the support for a roll 44 of toilet paper when the support arm 23 is inserted into the center core tube 48 of the roll 44. To support the roll 44, in addition to the support arm 23 being permanently attached to the extension 12, the support arm fastens into a slot 25. For example, support arm end 52 may include a fastener, clip, lever or other attachment component 56 that is attachable and detachable from the housing 11. In one embodiment, the component 56 may be a disk-like for insertion into the slot 25. In such an embodiment, there may be a gripping mechanism behind the slot 25 for frictionally gripping the component 56 when it inserted into the slot.
The dispenser 10 may further include two mounting holes 14 for securing the dispenser to the wall blocking of the wall 32.
FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of the dispenser 10, wherein the end of the support arm 23 that pivotally attaches to the extension 12 is cylindrical and is expanded to more durably secure the support arm 23 to the extension 12. Additionally, the embodiment of FIG. 3 also shows a second extension 60 projecting from the flange 24, wherein this second extension includes the slot 25 together with a gripping component 64 for frictionally engaging the disk-like component 56. Note, a roll 44 of toilet paper is shown in dashed lines.
Another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 5-9, wherein the dispenser 10 has a housing 11 providing a straight or planar backed recessed portion 22 is shown which defines a square cavity 70, and a rectangular peripheral flange or rim 24. As shown in FIG. 5, the housing 11 is recessed into a wall 32.
As shown in FIGS. 5-8, a support structure for supporting a toilet paper roll 44 comprises a cylinder 75 (preferably hollow) fixedly attached to a support arm 23 via two end caps 76 which are fixed mounted to the support arm 23. The end caps 76 are only slightly smaller in diameter than an interior diameter of a center core tube 48 of a toilet paper roll 44, e.g., in a range of between 0.01 inches to 0.1 inches smaller the interior diameter of a center core tube. Additionally, when a roll 44 is properly positioned on the support structure, each of the end caps 76 is with the interior diameter of the corresponding center core tube 44 of the roll so that one of the end caps is substantially adjacent an end of the center core tube 44. Thus, in one embodiment, the distance spanned from the outside surfaces 80 of the end caps 76 may be in a range of 0.05 inches to 0.07 less than the length of the center core tube 44, and more preferably approximately 0.0625 inches. Additionally, the width “w” of each end cap 76 that frictionally engaging or contacting the interior surface a center core tube 44 may be in the range of 0.125 inches to 0.5 inches. Accordingly, when a user attempts to rotate a roll 44 for dispensing toilet paper, the end caps 76 frictionally engage the interior surface of a center core tube 44, and thus increase the force needed to rotate the roll 44 for dispensing toilet paper. Thus, such increased paper dispensing force prevents excess toilet paper from the being dispensed. Note that other alternative frictionally engaging components and/or configurations are within the scope of the invention, including various configurations that generally provide a frictionally engaging contact area between 0.5 square inches and 1.0 square inches for toilet paper rolls, and greater than 1.0 square inches for paper towel rolls. Moreover, rails extending substantially the length of the center core tube 48, and circumferentially distributed about the support arm 23 may be provided as the frictionally engaging components. Thus, the rails may approximate a cylinder having a diameter of approximately 0.1 inches less than the interior diameter of the center tube core 48 In general, it is desirable for the frictionally engaging components to prevent a user from pulling more than three to four perforated sheets of toilet paper without the dispensed paper separating from the roll 44. Additionally, for paper towels, it is desirable for the frictionally engaging components to prevent a user from pulling more than two perforated sheets of paper towels without the dispensed towels separating from the roll 44.
The support arm 23, the cylinder 75 and the end caps 76 (the combination of these components 23, 75 and 76 also referred to herein as a “support structure”) are offset from the rim or flange 24 by extensions 87 and 88. The support structure is moveable relative to the extension 87, but preferably not detachable. In particular, the extension 87 allows for an 8 to 15 degree range of vertical pivoting of the support structure as shown by the angle γ in FIG. 7. More preferably, the angle γ may be approximately 10 degrees. Note, in one embodiment, this may be accomplished by the extension 87 pivoting on the flange 24. Alternatively, (as shown in FIG. 5) the extension 87 may be fixedly attached to the flange 24, but segmented along its length so that a first segment 90 is fixedly attached to the flange 24, and a second segment 92 pivots as shown in FIG. 7 relative to the first segment. Note that limited rotation between the segments 90 and 92 is well known in the art. Alternatively, the range of the vertical pivoting may extend from the support being horizontal to the support arm being substantially vertical (e.g., between 45 and 90 degrees from horizontal). Additionally, the extension 87 allows for at least similar ranges of angular pivoting movement in a direction perpendicular to the plane of angular movement shown in FIG. 7. That is, the support arm end 52 is movable closer to or further away from the housing 11. In one preferred embodiment, such horizontal angular movement is approximately 10 degrees. However, other narrower and/or wider angular movements (e.g., 45 degrees) are within the scope of the invention. FIG. 9 shows an illustrative range of horizontal angular movement of the support arm 23 through an angle of φ (e.g., 8 to 45 degrees). Thus, given the two types of angular movements available, the support structure may be pivotally moved in three dimensions for replacing and/or inserting a toilet roll 44 on the support structure.
Referring now to the extension 88 (e.g., FIGS. 5-10), it includes an attachment 96 for attaching the support arm 23 thereto. The embodiment of the attachment 96 shown in FIGS. 5 and 8 is substantially an inclined channel of sufficient width so that the support arm 23 fits there in, and wherein the inclination of the channel inhibits the support arm 23 from unintentionally exiting the attachment 96, e.g., when toilet paper is being dispensed from a roll 44. However, note that it is relatively easy for a user to free the support arm 23 from the attachment 96 by moving the support arm end 52 upward and toward the housing 11. In particular, since the support arm end 52 terminates with an expanded hand grip (e.g., spherical grip 99), such a grip assists in the insertion into and the removal of the support arm 23 from the attachment 96. Note that this is particularly benefit for persons with reduced hand coordination since the larger size of the grip 99 is easier for such persons to manipulate. Additionally, the larger size of the grip 99 provides a safety feature whereby an accidental bump into the grip 99 by a person (e.g., a small child) is unlikely to inflict a wound or bruise.
FIG. 10 shows an alternative embodiment of the extension 88, wherein the attachment 96 is configured so that it includes, in addition to an inclined channel opening 102, a substantially horizontal recess 104 that is separated from the inclined channel opening by a locking ridge 108. Accordingly, to secure the support arm 23 into the recess 104, a user inserts the support are into the opening 102, and then moves the support arm over the locking ridge 108 so that the support arm comes to rest in the recess 104. Conversely, to remove the support arm 23 from the attachment 23, a user lifts the support arm (preferably via the grip 99) over the locking ridge 108, and then moves the support arm generally upwardly and toward the housing 11 as described in the embodiment of the attachment 96 shown in FIGS. 5 and 8. As an additional optional feature to further secure the support arm 23 in the attachment 96, an upper ridge 112 may also be provided so that, e.g., to insert and remove the support arm from the recess 104 a sideways “S” or serpentine movement pattern must be followed.
FIG. 9 shows yet another embodiment of the dispenser 10, wherein the support structure, and in particular, each end cap 76 includes a truncated conical portion 116 which provides a relatively smooth inclined transition between the cylinder 75 and the width “w”. Accordingly, such conical portions 116 allow for toilet paper rolls 44 to be more easily positioned on the support structure. Note that it is within the scope of the present invention that other shapes may equally well allow rolls 44 to be more easily positioned on the support structure, e.g., an hour glass shape.
In each of the above embodiments of the dispenser 10, the extensions 12, and/or 87 and 88 may be secured to the flange 24 by screws which are received within threaded apertures within the bottom of the support and not visible when the dispenser is assembled. Moreover, the dispenser 10 can be secured to a wall 32 mechanically with screws that are inserted into mounting holes 14 as indicated above. However, in an alternative embodiment, an embodiment of the dispenser 10 may be secured to a wall 32 with glue which may be provided on, e.g., the back side of flange 24.
In one embodiment of the dispenser 10, at least one pivot for pivoting the support arm 23 is biased relative to: the extension 87, or the second segment 92 (FIGS. 5 and 9), or the extension 12 (FIG. 1). For example, such a pivot may be biased by, e.g., a spring, so that when the support arm is not attached to the other extension, the support arm moves to a predetermined position that facilitates removal of the center core tube 48 of a depleted roll 44, and/or insertion of a new roll 44. In particular, a bias spring may be provided within a hollow portion of the extension 87 for rotating the support arm 23 vertically when the support arm is detached from the extension 87. In one embodiment, the support arm 23 may pivot to a 45 degree angle, although other angles, e.g., 20 degrees to 90 degrees are within the scope of the invention. The attachment 96 may be provided as shown in FIG. 10 so that the support arm 23 can not disengage from the attachment 96 solely under the influence of the pivot bias. Alternatively, the support arm 23 may be biased so that in addition to pivoting upwardly, the support arm may also pivot outwardly from the housing 11 (and wall 32). Such outward pivoting may be in an angular range of 10 degrees to 60 degrees, with a preferable range being 20 degrees to 30 degrees.
Instead of the support arm 23 being biased as described immediately above, the dispenser 10 may include one or more pivot stops for holding the support arm in one or more predetermined positions for providing a new roll 44 on the support arm. Accordingly, a user would detach the support arm 23 from the extension 88 (or corresponding extension 12), and pivot the support arm to one of the predetermined positions whereby the pivot stop engages to hold the support arm in the predetermined position while the user provides a new roll 44 on the support arm. Such pivot stops are well known in the art, e.g., such a pivot stop may include: (a) a pin within a channel wherein the pin is biased (e.g., by a spring within the channel) to extend out of an opening of the channel, and (b) an indentation for mating with the pin when the opening of the channel aligns with the indentation during rotation of the support arm. Accordingly, a user may pivot the support arm 23 so that the pin enters the indentation for holding the support arm in a predetermined position, provide a new roll 44 on the support arm, and then apply a sufficient counter pivotal force to cause the pin to retract from the indentation and allow the user to pivot the support arm into its horizontal position for engaging the attachment 96.
Embodiments of the dispenser 10 may be provided wherein the dispenser is not recessed into a wall 32. In such an embodiment, extensions 12, and/or 87 and 88 may need to extend further from their flange 24 (which constitute the entire housing 11, or the housing may be planar, e.g., without a recessed portion 22) so that their support arm 23 is sufficiently spaced from the housing 11 to allow a full roll 44 to rotate without engaging the housing or the wall.
Although the embodiments of the dispenser 10 described above have been disclosed in the context of dispensing rolled toilet paper, corresponding dispensers may be provided for dispensing rolled paper towels as well. Substantially the only difference to a corresponding dispenser 10 for dispensing rolled paper towels is in the dimensions of the dispenser 10 to accommodate the increased length and diameter of paper towel rolls.
Tissue dispensers 10 according to the present invention may be manufactured out of metal, plastic or any other suitable satisfactory material (such as wood) providing an aesthetically pleasing and desired appearance and may be painted. In one preferred embodiment such a dispenser 10 may be manufactured from a high density polystyrene plastic or a lightweight rigid metal having a decorative chrome, bronze or satin nickel finish thereon.
It is to be understood that the form of this invention herewith shown and described is to be taken as a preferred example of the same, and that this invention is not to be limited to the exact arrangement of parts shown in the accompanying drawings or described in this specification as various changes in the details of construction as to shape, size, and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit of the invention, the scope and novel concepts thereof or the scope of the sub-joined claims.