Title:
Self-cleaning lint collector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lint collector for a dryer in which clothes are dried by heated air supplied to a rotating drum. The lint collector is made of a frame, a tubular screen rotatably mounted in the frame, a device for rotating the screen in the frame and an element attached to the frame for removing lint from the screen as the screen



Inventors:
Epstein, Michael (Wayne, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/006881
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
01/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
34/595
International Classes:
D06F58/22
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HALL, COREY JOHN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Klaus P. Stoffel;Wolff & Samson PC (One Boland Drive, West Orange, NJ, 07052, US)
Claims:
1. A lint collector for a dryer in which clothes are dried by heated air supplied to a rotating drum, the lint collector, comprising: a frame; a tubular screen rotatably mounted in the frame; a device for rotating the screen in the frame; and an element attached to the frame for removing lint from the screen as the screen rotates.

2. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the device for rotating the screen is a spring-wound mechanism arranged at one end of the screen and having a knob operative to load the spring of the mechanism.

3. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the frame forms a chamber for holding lint removed from the screen.

4. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the device for rotating the screen is an electric motor.

5. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the frame is configured to be removably insertable into a air duct of the dryer in a vicinity of a dryer door.

6. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the screen is rotatable about a horizontal axis.

7. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the frame has two end plates connected together by an elongate base.

8. The lint collector according to claim 7, wherein the base has two side walls that extend between the end plates.

9. The lint collector according to claim 8, wherein the side walls are spaced from one another so as to form an opening through which lint removed from the screen can pass.

10. The lint collector according to claim 8, wherein the lint removing element extends between the two end plates so as to leave an opening between the element and one of the side walls.

11. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the lint removing element is a wiper arranged to separate lint from the screen.

12. The lint collector according to claim 1, wherein the lint removing element is a comb.

13. The lint collector according to claim 4, wherein the electric motor is battery operated.

14. A clothes dryer comprising a cabinet having a drum therein for tumbling a clothing load and a blower for circulating heated air through the clothes to an airflow passage arranged at an edge of a door opening in the cabinet, and a lint collector having a frame, a tubular screen rotatably mounted in the frame, a device for rotating the screen in the frame, and an element attached to the frame for removing lint from the screen as the screen rotates, the lint collector being removably mounted in the airflow passage in an edge region of the door opening.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application 60/919,973 filed Mar. 26, 2007, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to clothes dryers, and more particularly lint collectors utilized in such cloths dryers.

Virtually all clothes dryers have a lint collector provided to trap lint from clothing so as to prevent the lint from accumulating in the exhaust duct of the dryer. The lint collectors are traditionally a screen or mesh material which allows air to pass through while trapping the lint on one side of the screen or mesh. The problem with these conventional prior art lint collectors is that they become blocked and clogged with lint fairly quickly. Furthermore, it is common for the dryer users to overlook cleaning the lint collector. This results in making the drying procedure very inefficient in that the airflow is reduced which necessitates that the dryer operate for a longer period of time in order to dry a load of clothing.

Some examples of prior art lint filters and related components can be seen in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,720,925; 4,638,573; 5,675,908; 3,959,891; and 5,463,820. There are also a number of prior art systems for detecting when the lint screen is full of lint. One such patent is U.S. Pat. No. 6,971,186, which uses air flow sensors for triggering an alarm when the filter is clogged with lint.

There are also prior art devices for removing lint from a lint screen, as for example in U.S. Pat. No. 6,662,464. This device is completely separate from the dryer and requires the lint screen to be removed from the dryer and then inserted into a slot which has components for scraping the lint off of the screen.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,314,409 discloses an automatic lint screen cleaner and storage system. It is provided between the exhaust air outlet and the discharge port in the back of the dryer.

Another lint screen cleaner is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,462,170.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a lint collector which addresses the problems of the prior art, particularly the clogging of the filter and subsequent loss of drying efficiency.

Pursuant to this object, and others which will become apparent hereafter, one aspect of the present invention resides in a lint collector for a dryer, having a tubular screen mounted in a frame so as to rotate about an axis. The rotation can take place intermittently or continuously. Preferably the rotation is carried out mechanically by a spring-wound mechanism, similar to an egg timer, for example. However, the rotation can be provided by an electric motor.

A comb like scoop or scraper is arranged adjacent to the screen's surface so that as the screen rotates the lint which has collected on the surface of the screen is scraped therefrom.

This rotation of the tubular screen allows a clear screen to be present in the airflow through the dryer basket which results in a substantial reduction of drying time which in turns results in reduced cost and wear on the dryer itself.

In another embodiment of the invention, the frame forms a chamber for holding lint removed from the screen. Furthermore, the frame is configured to be insertable into an air duct in the vicinity of the dryer door.

In still another embodiment of an invention, the frame has two end plates connected together by an elongate base with two side walls that extend between the end plates. The side walls are spaced from one another so as to form an opening through which lint removed from the screen can pass.

The lint removing element extends between the two end plates so that there is an opening between the element and one of the side walls, into which opening the lint can enter once scraped from the screen.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the inventive lint collector;

FIG. 2 shows the lint collector being mounted in a cloths dryer; and

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the lint collector.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the inventive lint collector has a frame 1 in which a tubular screen 2 is rotatably mounted. At one end of the frame is a knob 3 connected to a spring mechanism 4. Rotating the knob 3 loads the spring mechanism 4, which in turn drives the tubular screen 2. The tubular screen 2 rotates slowly during dyer operation so that at least a portion of clear screen is moved into the airflow of the dryer at least periodically during operation of the dryer. The screen 2 is rotatable about a spindle 11.

It is beneficial to have a comb or scraper 5 arranged adjacent to the surface of the tubular screen 4 for removing lint from the outer surface of the screen as it passes by the scraper 5. Once the lint is removed from the screen 2 the clean screen section is once again available for rotation into the airflow of the dryer. The lint scraped from the screen surface passes through openings 6 between the frame and the scraper 5 can be collected either in the frame or in a larger receptacle provided beneath the frame.

FIG. 2 illustrates the mounting of the lint collector in a clothes dryer 7. The clothes dryer 7 has a door 8 which closes a door opening 9. In the edge of the opening 9 is an opening 10 for an air duct via which air passes out of the interior of the clothes dryer 7. The frame 1 of the inventive lint collector is configured to mount in the opening 10 so that air passing through the interior of the clothes dryer must pass through the tubular screen 2 as it exits into the opening 10 and the subsequent air passage out of the dryer.

To operate the illustrated embodiment, one needs to turn the knob 3 to load the screen mechanism 4. This can be done by removing the lint collector from the opening 10 or, if appropriately designed, the knob can be turned while the lint collector is mounted in the opening 10. In either case, once the spring mechanism is loaded the screen begins to rotate. At this point, the door 8 to the clothes dryer 7 is closed and the dryer is turned on so that hot air circulates through the dryer, the tubular screen and the outlet duct. As previously mentioned, the spring loaded mechanism can be replaced with an electric motor tied to the electrical supply of the dryer itself. In this instance, it is preferable to have a switch connected in the electrical circuit of the motor. The switch would be arranged in the door opening 9 so that when the door 8 is closed, the circuit is also closed and the motor would turn the tubular screen 2.

Additionally, instead of a hard-wired motor, it is feasible to provide a battery operated motor so that the lint collector could be used to retrofit older dryers that are not wired for powering a motor in the lint collector.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the bottom of the frame forms a chamber which forms a box 12 for collecting lint removed from the screen 2. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 3, the bottom of the frame 1 can be open so that a separate lint collecting element can be attached to the frame to collect lint removed from the screen.

Furthermore, in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the frame 1 has end plates 13 that are connected together by side walls 14.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited but by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.