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The present disclosure is generally directed to combs and, more particularly, to a flat iron comb having an upper armature with teeth extending therefrom and an lower armature having a slot therethrough, with the armatures being movable between a normal open position and a closed position wherein the teeth of the upper armature extend through the slot of the lower armature and the armatures engage and retain strands of hair disposed therebetween.
When styling their hair or having their hair styled by a stylist, women often use electric flat irons to flatten or straighten naturally curly or wavy hair through the application of heat, pressure and tension. While the flat irons are generally effective, women working with flat irons to straighten their hair experience various frustrations and/or inconveniences during the process. Straightening one's hair with a flat iron requires the use of a comb to help section a portion of the hair to be flat ironed. In a typical hair straightening process, the hair is sectioned with a comb, and the sectioned hair may be held with the comb used for sectioning or may be held by the hand or the woman or the stylist after the comb is placed down or shifted to the palm of that hand. The flat iron is then placed around and clamped down upon the sectioned hair. The flat iron is then pulled along the hair with some force being placed on the flat iron to create tension on the hair. In some cases, women or stylists then pick up a boar round brush to hold the section of hair and to provide tension on the hair when the flat iron is guided along the hair.
With the presently available combs, the sectioning of the hair with the comb provided some insight on how the combs do not always pick up the hair close to the scalp when used to section the hair. This presents an opportunity to simplify the process of gathering hair sections with a comb, and the number of times one would pickup and exchange styling implements, while improving the ability of the women and stylists to pick Up the hair close to the scalp when the hair is sectioned. Therefore, a need exists for a complimentary styling tool to assist with the process of flat ironing/straightening women's hair.
Various products for assisting in hairstyling processes involving the application of heat have been disclosed. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,927,684 to Lam discloses a hair-grooming implement for controllably applying heat to hair strands while they are being combed by having heated surfaces positioned between adjacent comb teeth at a location such that they can only be contacted by hair strands drawn between adjacent comb teeth during a hair-combing and hair-grooming operation. The heat applied to the combed hair strands softens the hair strands and allows the teeth of the comb to position the hair strands in a desired, neatly groomed orientation with respect to the person's head, in which orientation they will remain after the softening and compliancy-increasing heat is no longer present. This causes the hair strands, in their new, neatly groomed orientation, to remain in the desired groomed position for a substantial period of time.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,126,143 to Schroeder discloses an electrically heated comb for hair styling and straightening which heats each hank of hair on two sides for quick and effective drying and styling of the hair. The comb has a row of heat conducting teeth and insulated protective teeth, all of which are connected to a heat conducting element that extends outwardly from a handle. At least portions of two heat conducting teeth are provided in the space between immediately adjacent protective teeth. Each of the two heat conducting teeth has only one exposed heating surface within the aforesaid space.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,738,121 to Westerveld et al. discloses a hair styling brush for use in combination with a hot air source, comprising an elongate hollow body with a row of hollow teeth, which extend substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the hollow body. The interior of the hollow body is in open communication with the interior of each of the hollow teeth. The hollow teeth have outlet apertures through which in operation an air stream flows, with the air stream being directed substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the hollow body. To give the hair a maximal volume, the brush is provided with a comb at either side of the row of hollow teeth opposite the outlet apertures.
Further, U.S. Pat. No. 5,785,064 to Simpson discloses a high temperature externally heated hair-styling device that has a hair-styling body. An over-temperature alarm is mounted in the hair-styling body. The over-temperature alarm has a temperature sensor which is thermally connected to the hair-styling body. The sensor provides a voltage signal representative of the temperature of the hair-styling body. A variable reference voltage signal generator is powered by a DC battery power source. The reference signal generator has an adjustable range and the reference voltage signal is calibrated to coincide with a predefined operating temperature range. A comparative device comparing the representative and reference voltage signals is used to determine when the predefined operating temperature range is exceeded. An indicator device responsive to the comparative device is used to indicate a temperature of the hair-styling body exceeding the predefined operating temperature range of the hair-styling body. An on/off switch is used to connect or disconnect the reference voltage signal generator from the DC power source.
In one aspect, the invention is directed to a flat iron comb having an upper armature having comb teeth extending outwardly from a surface of the upper armature proximate a first end of the upper armature, and a lower armature having a slot therethrough proximate a first end of the lower armature, wherein the slot is configured to receive the comb teeth therein. The flat iron comb may further include a connection portion disposed at a closed end of the flat iron comb and connected to second ends of the upper and lower armatures such that the comb teeth and slot are disposed proximate an open end of the flat iron comb. The connection portion may orient the upper and lower armatures in a normal open position wherein the upper and lower armatures are separated, and allow the upper and lower armatures to move together upon application of a force to a closed position with the comb teeth of the upper armature extending through the slot of the lower armature.
In another aspect, the invention is directed to a flat iron comb having an upper armature comprising a comb portion having comb teeth extending outwardly from a surface thereof and a grip portion connected to the comb portion, and a lower armature comprising a slotted portion having a slot therethrough configured to receive the comb teeth therein, a grip portion connected to the slotted portion, and a tapered tip extending outwardly from the slotted portion on the side of the slotted portion opposite the grip portion of the lower armature. The flat iron comb may further include a connection portion fabricated from a resilient material disposed at a closed end of the flat iron comb and connected to grip portions of the upper and lower armatures at points opposite the points of connection with the comb portion and slotted portion, respectively, such that the comb teeth and slot are disposed proximate an open end of the flat iron comb. The connection portion of the flat iron comb may orient the upper and lower armatures in a normal open position wherein the upper and lower armatures are separated, and allowing the upper and lower armatures to move together upon application of a force to a closed position with the comb teeth of the comb portion of the upper armature extending through the slot of the slotted portion of the lower armature, armature having one of comb teeth and brush bristles extending outwardly from a surface of the upper armature proximate a first end of the upper armature, and a lower armature having a slot therethrough proximate a first end of the lower armature, wherein the slot is configured to receive the comb teeth or brush bristles therein. The flat iron comb may further include a connection portion disposed at a closed end of the flat iron comb and connected to second ends of the upper and lower armatures such that the comb teeth or brush bristles and slot are disposed proximate an open end of the flat iron comb. The connection portion of the flat iron comb may orient the upper and lower armatures in a normal open position wherein the upper and lower armatures are separated, and allowing the upper and lower armatures to move together upon application of a force to a closed position with the comb teeth or brush bristles of the upper armature extending through the slot of the lower armature.
Additional aspects of the invention are defined by the claims of this patent.
Objects, features, and advantages of the present device will become apparent upon reading the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a flat iron comb in accordance with the present disclosure in a normal open position;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the flat iron comb of FIG. 1 in a closed position;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a flat iron comb having a coil spring connecting upper and lower armatures; and
FIG. 4 is a side view of a further alternative embodiment of a flat iron comb having a hinge connecting upper and lower armatures in open and extended positions.
While the method and device described herein are susceptible to various modifications and alternative constructions, certain illustrative embodiments thereof have been shown in the drawings and will be described below in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the disclosure.
Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.
It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term by limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph.
A flat iron comb in accordance with the present disclosure combines a comb with tongs to allow the user to section a portion of hair and clamp down with the comb portion to provide tension when the flat iron is pulled behind the flat iron comb. The flat iron comb also lines up the hair prior to being heated by the flat iron thus allowing a straighter result on the hair. The flat iron comb possesses a slot in a lower armature to allow for the comb of an upper armature to be inserted therein when the tongs are clamped down. The lower armature also possesses a tapered sectioning point on the tip of the armature. The sectioning point allows the user to get closer to the scalp to gather the hair section to be straightened. The armature can also possess a ceramic attribute in the lower armature to assist in setting and drying the hair.
Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a flat iron comb 10 in accordance with the disclosure is illustrated. The flat iron comb 10 includes an upper armature 12 and a lower armature 14 joined at a closed end 16 of the flat iron comb 10 by an intermediate connection portion 18. The connection portion 18 is configured so that the armatures 12, 14 are substantially parallel or diverge as the armatures 12, 14 extend away from the connection portion 18 toward an open end 20 of the flat iron comb 10. The connection portion 18 is further configured to be flexible and resilient such that the armatures 12, 14 are normally disposed in an open or separated position as shown in FIG. 1, and may also be pressed together to a closed position as shown in FIG. 2 wherein the facing inner surfaces of the armatures 12, 14 may be brought into contact. Due to the resiliency of the connection portion 18, the armatures 12, 14 separate and return to the normal open position of FIG. 1 when the flat iron comb 10 is released.
Returning to FIG. 1, the upper armature 12 includes a grip portion 22 proximate the connection portion 18 and a comb portion 24 proximate the open end 20 of the flat iron comb 10. The comb portion 24 includes a plurality of spaced teeth 26 extending downwardly toward the lower armature 14. The lower armature 14 includes a grip portion 28 proximate the connection portion 18 and a slotted portion 30 proximate the open end 20 of the flat iron comb 10. The lower armature 14 further includes a tapered tip 32 extending therefrom at the open end 20 opposite the connection portion 18. The tip 32 may configured to penetrate the hair pack of the user to reach the scalp and maximize the hair sectioned when the tip 32 is inserted therein. The slotted portion 30 of the lower armature 14 includes a slot 34 extending therethrough and is configured to align with and receive the teeth 26 of the upper armature 12. When the armatures 12, 14 are pressed together as shown in FIG. 2, the teeth 26 extend through the slot 34 to allow all or a portion of the facing inner surfaces of the armatures 12, 14 to meet.
The grip portions 22, 28 may include sleeves 35 disposed thereon that may be fabricated from fabric, rubber, polyurethane or other material that may prevent slippage and/or provide a surface that will not burn the user's fingers in applications where the flat iron comb 10 is exposed to heat. In one embodiment, the sleeves 35 may be fabricated from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and disposed on areas where the user's fingers or hand will be in contact with the grip portions 22, 28. The sleeves 35 could also be made from other materials such as TPE, Santoprene, Neoprene, silicone, polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and other soft materials. Alternatively, those same areas could be over-molded with a TPE, Santoprene, Neoprene, PVA and/or other soft material resin. Alternatively, a silicone or PVA sleeve 35 may be provided in combination with a silicone gel or PVA gel that is captured within the sleeve 35 and components, or as a gel pack or pouch that is adhered to the components or captured by components to secure the pack or pouch to the sleeve 35 in final assembly.
As discussed above, the flat iron comb 10 may be used in conjunction with a heated flat iron to flatten/straighten naturally curly or wavy hair. The hair is first sectioned by inserting the tip 32 of the flat iron comb 10 through the hair pack at a desired location down to the scalp. The tip 32 is pushed along the scalp to gather the hair section on the upper surface of the slotted portion 30 of the lower armature 14. Once the desired portion of hair is sectioned, the upper and lower armatures 12, 14 are pressed together with the teeth 26 extending through the sectioned hair and into the slot 34. With the teeth 26 embedded in the sectioned hair, the flat iron comb 10 is drawn along the hair away from the scalp to separate the sectioned hair from the remaining hair. At a desired point, the armatures 12, 14 are pressed together on the hair to apply tension to the sectioned hair as the flat iron comb 10 is drawn farther away from the scalp. Once the sectioned hair is pulled taught, the flat iron may be pressed onto the hair to apply heat and pressure to straighten the sectioned hair.
In one embodiment, the flat iron comb 10 substantially as described above may be provided with the tipper and lower armatures 12, 14 and the intermediate connection portion 18 being integrally formed as a single unitary component. The flat iron comb 10 may be produced from a wide variety of materials such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), nylon, polypropylene, polycarbonate, high impact polystyrene (HIPS), general purpose styrene, cellulose acetate, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), Santoprene, Neoprene, styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) and the like. The flat iron comb 10 may also be made out of metal or wood. The choice of material will be based on functional performance requirements necessary to produce a comb 10 that is flexible while sturdy enough to withstand the repeated mechanical and thermal loading that occurs over time as the comb 10 is used in hair styling. These materials may also be infused with one or more additives to provide additional therapeutic benefits to the hair to which the flat iron comb 10 is applied, such as additives having anti-static, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, ionic and shine-producing properties. Additives providing such benefits and other benefits include ceramide, tounnaline, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, yogurtine, bamboo charcoal, carbon, silicone, copper, and the like. Further, the material from which the flat iron comb 10 is fabricated may be infused with a ceramic additive or other additive having a low thermal conductivity so that the amount of heat transferred from the hair and/or the flat iron to the flat iron comb 10 is minimized, thereby allowing the heat to remain within or be applied to the hair to promote the straightening of the hair.
Flat iron combs in accordance with the present disclosure may also be configured for manufacturing the comb to be expandable and/or reconfigurable to meet differing consumer needs. With that in mind, the flat iron comb may be built using components that are interchangeable so that the features of a particular configuration of the flat iron comb may be directed toward specific consumer needs, demographics and/or price points. The flat iron comb may be designed as a platform having interchangeable parts to allow other features. Consequently, one or both of the armatures 12, 14 may be demountably attached to the intermediate connection portion 18 so that armatures 12, 14 and connecting portions 18 having differing material properties or configurations may be connected during the manufacturing process at connection points 26, 28, respectively, to produce a desired configuration of the flat iron comb 10. The armatures 12, 14 and connection portion 18 may be configured with any known connection mechanism for demountably attaching adjacent components. For example, the connection portion 18 may have externally threaded shanks extending outwardly at the connection points 26, 28, and the corresponding ends of the armatures 12, 14 may have internally threaded recesses allowing the armatures 12, 14 to be screwed onto the connection portion 18. Alternatively, in lieu of threads, the shanks and recesses may have detents and corresponding indentations that receive the detents to secure the components. If it is desired for the components to be permanently attached during normal use, an adhesive may be applied to the connecting elements during assembly or more permanent connection mechanisms may be employed. Other connection mechanisms will be apparent to those skilled in the art and are contemplated by the inventors as having use in flat iron combs in accordance with the present disclosure.
In a similar manner, the components of the armatures 12, 14 may be interchangeable. On the upper armature 12, the grip portion 22 and comb portion 24 may be separate components that are connected at a point 40 via a connection mechanism such as those discussed above. Similarly, the grip portion 28, slotted portion 30 and tip 32 of the lower armature 14 may be demountably or permanently connected at connection points 42, 44, respectively. Of course, those skilled in the art will understand that the flat iron comb 10 may be implemented with as many or as few connection points 36-44 as are necessary to provide the desired amount of configuration flexibility in the flat iron comb 10.
An alternative or additional degree of flexibility may be provided in the configuration of the comb portion 24 so that the teeth 26 may be removed and replaced by alternative tooth configurations, by teeth fabricated from different materials, or by brush heads having bristles. In the illustrated embodiment, the teeth 26 may extend from a comb insert 46 that may be demountably attached to the comb portion 24 so that the insert 46 may slide into and out of the comb portion 24 as indicated by the double arrow and end portion of the insert 46 illustrated at the left side of FIG. 1. The comb portion 24 may be configured with an inner surface defining a channel 48 that slidably receives a spine 50 of the comb insert 46. The channel 48 and spine 50 may include detents or other similar mechanism for retaining the spine 50 in place within the channel 48. Where comb inserts 46 having differing configurations of teeth 26 are used, it may be necessary to attach a slotted portion 30 to the lower armature 14 having a slot 34 configured to receive the tooth configuration of the particular comb insert 46 connected to the comb portion 24 of the upper armature 12.
Various tooth and/or bristle patterns of the comb portion 24 and/or insert 46 may be provided that may correspond to the various hair types on which the flat iron comb 10 may be used, such as curly, straight, wavy, thick, thin, medium, and the like. The interchangeable portions 24 and inserts 46 provide the ability to offer a range of products for specific hair needs. The tooth/bristle patterns can be of various lengths and widths depending on hair type, and may include multiple rows of teeth and/or bristles. The teeth or bristles may be infused with ceramic-like properties to assist in drying and straightening the hair.
The comb/bristle portion 24 can be replaced entirely with other styling tool products such as a hot round. The hot round would encompass an assembly of components such as a metal coated ceramic (or any other desired additive) with a tooth or bristle structure emerging from the interior of the hot round or the metal hot round itself. The teeth/bristles may be constructed of nylon, polypropylene, or boar hair, or a mix of these materials or any other bristle material. The hot round may possess a feature where the bristles retract similar to the bristles of the brushes disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/876,407, filed on Jun. 25, 2004, entitled “Self-Cleaning Comfort Hair Brush and Roller and System for Selecting a Brush from a Plurality of Brushes According to Hair Type” and subsequently published as U.S. Patent Publ. No. 2005/0055788 A1, the specification of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein for all purposes, and as applied to hot round products. The retractable-bristle hot round design may allow for one-handed operation for retracting the bristles within the hot round structure. The comb/bristle portion 24 may also be a tufted round brush that is integrally molded or may be attached to the grip portion 22 as previously discussed. The round portion of the round brush may be a solid or semi-solid material in construction that serves as a base for the anchoring of the tufts or multiple strands of bristles. The tufts of bristles may be constructed from nylon, polypropylene, boar hair, tampico, horse hair, Nylex, or any combination or mix of these or other materials. The tufts of bristles may be monofilament (one bristle anchored to a base) or a multi-filament tuft that is a single material or multiple material tuft in construction.
The comb portion 24 may also be implemented in the form of a vented brush block. The vent design incorporates slots, holes, notches that allow air to pass through the brush block. One version of the vented flat iron comb may include bristles tufted or anchored directly into a solid block design. Another embodiment could incorporate the retractable-bristle brush technology discussed above and including a tufted pad secured between a brush face, brush frame and/or brush back plate. The bristles of the vented brush block may have either a monofilament or a multifilament arrangement.
A further alternative version of the flat iron comb 10 could utilize foam, polyester or polyester-based sponges, natural sponges, TPE over-mold, microfiber, chamois, PVA or squeegee material in place of the teeth 26 in the comb portion 22. Both portions 22, 30 could incorporate the foam, TPE over-mold, or squeegee material. This embodiment would provide the ability to wick or absorb moisture or water away from the hair while still providing tension to the sectioned hair while using the flat iron.
Like the comb portion 24, the slotted portion 30 may having varying configurations and be interchangeable to provide a desired configuration of the flat iron comb 10. The slotted portion 30 in various embodiments may be fabricated from metal or resin, and may be infused with additives that assist with straightening the hair. An aluminum slotted portion 30 coated with ceramic that assists in drying the hair is one alternative option. Another alternative is an aluminum slotted portion 30 coated with ceramic and a material having ionic properties to assist drying the hair and preventing static. As a further alternative, a resin slotted portion 30 with infused additives such as tourmaline may provide anti-static and shine properties. Jade is a further alternative material or coating that may be utilized on the slotted portion 30 to distribute heat.
In addition to the alternative configurations of the components of the armatures 12, 14, alternate configurations of the connection portion 18 may be implemented depending on the particular manufacturing, hair styling or market needs to be met by the flat iron comb 10. For example, the material from which the armatures 12m 14 are fabricated may not have the necessary flexibility or resiliency required for the connection portion 18 to be repeatedly loaded and unloaded as the armatures 12, 14 are pressed together and released during use. FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment wherein the connection portion 18 is replaced by a coil spring 52 that will flex to allow the armatures 12, 14 to be pressed together and then returned to the normal open position. The coil spring 52 may be fabricated from the same material as one or both of the armatures 12, 14, or may be formed from a different material, such as a metal having the necessary flexibility and resiliency.
The comb/bristle portion 24 could be manufactured specifically for the multicultural consumer market, with the comb/bristle portion 24 being constructed from a metal such as brass. This allows the multicultural consumer to utilize the flat iron comb 10 as a more advanced pressing comb than those presently used by multicultural consumers. FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of the flat iron comb 10 adapted to function as a pressing comb when heat is used to style the hair of the user. In this embodiment, the connecting portion 18 is replaced with a hinge 54 connecting the armatures 12, 14 such that the flat iron comb 10 can be opened with the upper armature 12 rotated away from the lower armature 14 to the position shown on the right in FIG. 4. In the rotated position, the flat iron comb 10 may be used in a stove iron system for styling the hair with high heat. The comb portion 24 may be fabricated from a metal having high thermal conductivity, such as copper or brass, while the slotted portion 30 may be fabricated from a ceramic material or a ceramic-infused resin having a low thermal conductivity.
During the styling process, the upper armature 12 may be rotated away from the lower armature 14, and the comb portion 24 may be inserted into a Marcel iron oven and heated. Once the comb portion 24 is heated, the comb portion 24 is withdrawn from the stove, and the upper armature 12 is rotated back toward the lower armature 14 to the normal open position. If desired, the hinge 54 may be configured to hold the armatures 12, 14 in the normal open position and allow the armatures 12, 14 to be pressed together to the closed position. With the armatures 12, 14 in the normal open position, the flat iron comb 10 may be applied to the hair in a similar manner as described above to press the user's hair in the desired hair shape, with the comb portion 24 applying heat to the sectioned hair without a significant amount of heat being lost to the slotted portion 30.
In addition to straightening women's hair in conjunction with a flat iron, the flat iron combs in accordance with the disclosure may be used in other hair care and grooming applications, and may be implemented with additional features. For example, an embodiment of the flat iron comb may be designed as a gas powered (butane), corded or cordless flat iron comb that would eliminate the need for a separate flat iron. The powered versions of the flat iron comb may possess temperature control ability and a quick temperature recovery ability, the status of which may be displayed via digital displays (with LED or LCD technology) or LED diodes displaying on-off status and/or power levels. The flat iron comb may also be used in detangling children's hair. The teeth or bristles of the comb may be movable, and a motor may be added within the comb to cause the teeth or bristles to oscillate to assist in detangling knotted hair. The flat iron comb 10 can also be used by parents when cutting their children's hair to section the child's hair and make a straight cut of the sectioned hair without the risk of cutting their fingers. The flat iron comb may also have application in the pet grooming market where show dog groomers often use flat irons to straighten the hair of show dogs in preparation for competition.
The flat iron comb 10 as discussed in the various embodiments above may eliminate the need for multiple styling tools to be used in coordination with a flat iron, and the constant picking up and placing down of the multiple styling tools being used. The flat iron comb 10 allows the user to section and apply tension on the hair with the same tool, and to apply the flat iron to the section of hair without the necessity of switching tools or setting aside a tool in the middle of the styling process.
While the preceding text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.