Title:
Neck Cushion for Hairdressing Back-Wash Basin
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A neck cushion (10) for a hairdressing back-wash basin (28) has the overall shape of an arcuate sausage and has a channel (12) along the cushion to receive a neck-support lip (34) of the back-wash basin. The cushion is moulded from a cross-linked polymer so as to have a compressible closed-cell foam structure. Because of the arcuate sausage shape, the cushion needs less lengthwise bending than a straight cushion in order to fit most conventional back wash basins. Because of the channel, the cushion needs to be opened out less than a slitted tubular cushion in order to fit most conventional back-wash basins. Because of the closed-cell foam structure, the cushion does not absorb any significant amount of water. Because of the compressible foam structure, the cushion is comfortable and not cold to the touch.



Inventors:
Smyth, Maria Anne (Hampshire, GB)
Application Number:
11/913004
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
04/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D44/10; A45D19/10
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Primary Examiner:
YIP, WINNIE S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NT Patent Law (2474 E. River Rd., Tucson, AZ, 85718, US)
Claims:
1. A neck cushion (10) for a hairdressing back-wash basin (28), the cushion being moulded from a cross-linked polymer so as to have a compressible closed-cell foam structure, the cushion having an overall shape, when relaxed, of an arcuate sausage and having a channel (12) extending along the cushion to receive a neck-support lip (34) of the back-wash basin, the channel having sides which, when the cushion is viewed in cross-section and is relaxed, converge towards an opening of the channel.

2. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the polymer is a polyolefin.

3. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 2, wherein the polymer is an ethylene polymer.

4. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 3, wherein the polymer is an ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer.

5. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the cushion has an outer surface which is heat sealed.

6. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein, when the cushion is relaxed, the arcuate sausage shape has a radius of curvature of no more than 120 mm.

7. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 6, wherein, when the cushion is relaxed, the arcuate sausage shape has a radius of curvature (A) of about 80 mm.

8. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein, when the cushion is relaxed, the arcuate sausage shape extends through an angle (B) of between 150 and 180 degrees when relaxed.

9. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the arcuate sausage shape has a centre of curvature, and the channel faces in a direction generally away from the centre of curvature.

10. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 9, wherein the channel faces in a direction inclined at an angle (F) of between 25 and 55 degrees with respect to a radial plane containing the centre of curvature of the arcuate sausage shape.

11. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the channel sides, when the cushion is viewed in cross-section and is relaxed, converge from a maximum spacing (C) of about 23 or 24 mm adjacent the centre of the cushion.

12. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the channel sides, when the cushion is viewed in cross-section and is relaxed, converge to a minimum spacing (E) of about 14 mm adjacent the opening of the channel.

13. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 1, wherein the cushion is formed of a material that requires an applied compressive stress of between 30 and 50 kPa in order to produce 25% compression of the material.

14. (canceled)

15. A neck cushion (10) for a hairdressing back-wash basin (28), wherein: the cushion is moulded from a cross-linked polymer so as to have a compressible closed-cell foam structure; the cushion has an overall shape, when relaxed, of an arcuate sausage having a radius of curvature (A) of no more than 120 mm about a centre of curvature and extending through an angle (B) of between 150 and 180 degrees around the centre of curvature; the cushion has a channel (12) extending therealong to receive a neck-support lip (34) of the back-wash basin, the channel facing in a direction generally away from the centre of curvature inclined at an angle (F) of between 25 and 55 degrees with respect to a radial plane containing the centre of curvature; and the channel has sides which, when the cushion is viewed in cross-section and is relaxed, converge from a maximum spacing (C) adjacent the centre of the cushion to a minimum spacing (E) adjacent an opening of the channel.

16. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein said maximum spacing is about 23 or 24 mm.

17. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein said minimum spacing is about 14 mm.

18. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein the polymer is an ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer.

19. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein the cushion has an outer surface which is heat sealed.

20. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein sausage shape has ends (20,22) towards which the sausage shape tapers.

21. A neck cushion as claimed in claim 15, wherein the cushion has side portions (14,16) to either side of the channel, the side portions tapering in thickness towards the opening of the channel.

Description:

This invention relates to neck cushions for hairdressing back-wash basins.

Many hairdressing salons are fitted with back-wash basins that are used when washing or shampooing a client's hair prior to cutting or styling. A conventional back-wash basin is essentially similar to a large conventional washbasin except that an arcuate recess is formed in its front edge. In use, the hairdresser's client adopts a recumbent posture with their neck resting in the recess and their head overhanging the basin so that their hair can be washed. The aim is to reduce the amount of water that splashes out of the basin and down the client's neck. Back-wash basins are typically made of conventional wash basin material, such as ceramics or acrylic plastics, both of which are hard, cold to the touch and therefore uncomfortable. In order to improve comfort, it is known to cushion the recess in the back-wash basin, either with a towel or a special cushion or pad. The problems with using a towel are that it gets sodden, tends to wick the water out of the basin, has a tendency to fall on the floor, and increases the salon's laundry and drying costs. Insofar as special cushions or pads are concerned, none has proved to be totally satisfactory.

One design of cushion that is sold under the mark Rubbernex® and is described in patent document FR2600871 is formed from a length of extruded polyethylene foam tube that is slit along its length (in a similar way to foam pipe lagging) and is painted to reduce its absorbancy to and surface retention of water. In use, the tube is fitted to the basin by pulling open the slit and fitting the resulting C-shaped cross-section of the tube around the edge of the recess and by bending the tube so as to follow the curve of the recess. Problems with this design are that, because the tube is initially straight and the slit is initially closed, the tube needs to be deformed significantly in order to fit the basin; with repeated bending of the tube, the paint tends to crack so that the cushion looks unsightly and so that it can absorb water; with further repeated bending, the material of the tube tends to split, further increasing the ability to absorb water and decreasing the ability of the cushion to hold itself in place; because, once it has absorbed water, the cushion cannot then be readily dried, it will feel cold to the touch and also hygiene, odours and mould-growth become issues.

In another known design, a pad is formed of shaped, solid, rubber-like material. Problems with this design of pad are that the pad is rather hard and therefore not particularly comfortable, and that the range of designs of basin that a particular pad will fit is restricted.

An aim of the present invention, or at least specific embodiments of it, is to provide a neck cushion or pad for a back-wash basin that: is relatively soft and comfortable; can be fitted to a wide range of back-wash basins; does not absorb any significant amount of water even after prolonged use; maintains its integrity; can be easily cleaned; and is hygienic.

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a neck cushion for a hairdressing back-wash basin, the cushion having the overall shape, when relaxed, of an arcuate sausage and having a channel along the cushion to receive a neck-support lip of the back-wash basin, the cushion being moulded from a cross-linked polymer so as to have a compressible closed-cell foam structure. Because of the arcuate sausage shape, the cushion needs less lengthwise bending than a straight cushion in order to fit most conventional back-wash basins. Because of the channel, the cushion needs to be opened out less than a slitted tubular cushion in order to fit most conventional back-wash basins. Because of the closed-cell foam structure, the cushion does not absorb any significant amount of water. Because of the compressible foam structure, the cushion is comfortable and not cold to the touch.

Preferably, the polymer is a polyolefin, more preferably an ethylene polymer, and more preferably an ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer.

Preferably, the surface of the cushion is heat sealed. This reduces the water retention of the surface of the cushion, making it even easier to dry, clean and keep hygienic and free of odour and mould.

The arcuate sausage shape preferably has a relaxed radius of curvature of no more than 120 mm, and more preferably of about 80 mm.

The arcuate sausage shape preferably extends through an angle of between 150 and 180 degrees when relaxed, and more preferably about 165 degrees.

The channel preferably faces in a direction away from the centre of curvature of the arcuate sausage shape and more preferably at an angle of between 25 and 55 degrees with respect to the radial direction of the arcuate sausage shape.

The relaxed maximum width of the channel is preferably about 23 or 24 mm, the channel having sides that converge, when relaxed, towards the channel opening. In this case, the relaxed minimum width of the channel is preferably about 14 mm.

The compressibility of the material of the cushion is preferably such that it requires an applied compressive stress of between 30 and 50 kPa in order to produce 25% compression.

A specific embodiment of the present invention will now be described, purely by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a neck cushion for a hairdressing back-wash basin;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the neck cushion;

FIG. 3 is a sectioned side view of the neck cushion, taken on the section lines 3-3 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the neck cushion;

FIG. 5 is an underplan view of the neck cushion; and

FIG. 6 is a sectioned side view of the neck cushion, a back-wash basin and a hairdresser's client's head.

Referring to the drawings, the relaxed shape of the neck cushion 10 will be described first. The cushion 10 generally has the overall shape of an arcuate sausage having a centreline radius of curvature A (see FIG. 1) of about 80 mm. The sausage shape extends through an angle B of about 165 degrees. The sausage shape has a generally U-shaped cross-section (see FIG. 3) so that a channel 12 is formed by side portions 14,16 and an arcuate base portion 18 of the cushion 10. Over most of the length of the cushion 10, the outer and inner diameters C,D of the arcuate base portion 18 are about 45 to 47 mm, and 23 or 24 mm, respectively. The side portions 14,16 converge towards each other slightly so that the minimum distance E between the side portions 14,16 is about 14 mm when relaxed. The wall thickness of each side portion 14,16 tapers towards its free end. In cross-section, the general centre-line of the channel 12 is inclined at an angle F of about 40 degrees to the general centre-plane 24 of the cushion 10. In cross-section, the shape and size of the channel 12 remain generally constant over the whole length of the sausage shape. The end portions 20,22 of the sausage shape are slightly tapered externally towards the ends. At the end portions 20,22, the side portion 16 is rounded as shown at 26 in FIG. 2.

The neck cushion 10 is made of cross-linked ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer that is moulded in a suitable mould to form a closed cell foam cushion, and the surface of the moulded product is heat sealed. The cushion 10 may be moulded by injecting liquid material into the mould. However, the cushion 10 is more preferably moulded by hot press forming (otherwise known as compression moulding) of sheet foam material of uniform thickness that has been cut to the required outline shape. The cushion 10 may be formed from a single piece of sheet foam material, or from two pieces that are joined together, for example by heat laminating or by adhesive bonding. When the hot mould is totally closed, it preferably totally encapsulates the moulding material so that the whole surface of the moulded article becomes heat sealed as a result. Heat sealing of the surface has the effect of smoothing out any depressions in the surface of the moulding material, for example where the sheet foam is cut across cells, so that the whole surface of the cushion has a generally smooth skin with a somewhat waxy feel. The techniques of hot press forming or compression moulding, heat laminating, adhesive bonding and heat sealing are known per se in the art of foam conversion.

A suitable grade of sheet moulding material is “EV50” obtainable from Zotefoams plc, CR9 3AL, United Kingdom, and Zotefoams Inc, 41094, United States of America. Such material is manufactured by a high pressure nitrogen gas solution process whereby extruded cross-linked ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer sheets are impregnated with pure nitrogen and subsequently expanded in a pressure chamber. This process produces closed cell foam sheets with exceptional size uniformity, low odour, high purity and outstanding physical attributes. The resulting cushion press-formed from such sheets is lightweight (having a density of about 50 kg/m3), of suitable flexibility to provide comfort and enable the cushion 10 to fit a wide variety of basins (requiring a compressive stress of about 40 kPa for 25% compression), tough (having a tensile strength of about 930 kPa) and resistant to tearing (having a tear strength of about 1.3 MN/m). Indeed, the author of this specification found it impossible to tear a prototype of the cushion 10 with his fingers. In view of the closed cell structure of the foam and the surface heat sealing, the cushion 10 has negligible absorption of water. In view of the surface heat sealing, the cushion 10 has negligible surface retention of water and is easy to clean.

As shown in FIG. 6, a conventional hairdressing back-wash basin 28 has an arcuate recess 30 in its front edge 32. In use, the neck cushion 10 is fitted to the basin 28 with the channel 12 receiving the lip 34 of the recess 30 of the basin 28, with the side portion 16 of the cushion 10 to the inside of the basin 28 and with the side portion 14 to the outside of the basin 28. The hairdresser's client would then adopt a recumbent posture with their neck 36 resting on the base portion 18 of the cushion 10 and the top of their head 38 overhanging the basin 28 so that their hair may be shampooed.

The lip 34 of the basin 28 shown in FIG. 6 is relatively thin and distorts the cushion 10 only to a small degree when the cushion 10 is fitted to the basin 28. Nevertheless, due to the surface texture of the heat-sealed EVA copolymer from which the cushion 10 is made, it tends to cling to the surface of the basin 28 so that it is not readily dislodged. It will be appreciated that, due to the flexibility of the cushion 10, it will readily fit a wide range of thicknesses of basin lip 34. With the dimensions of the cushion 10 mentioned above, it will provide a satisfactory fit to basins having a lip thickness between about 15 and 50 mm. With conventional back-wash basins, there is not a wide variation in the radius of curvature of the neck-supporting recess 30 due to the requirement for the recess to fit most people's necks but the aim of trying to prevent splashing of water down the person's neck. Due to the flexibility of the cushion 10, it will readily accommodate most conventional variations in the radius of curvature of the recess 30.

It will be appreciated that many modifications and developments may be made to the cushion 10 described above. For example, it may be formed of different sizes and from different materials, and the base portion 18 may be made thicker in the region that is engaged by the user's neck 36

It should be noted that the embodiment of the invention has been described above purely by way of example and that many other modifications and developments may be made thereto within the scope of the present invention.





 
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