Title:
HANDLE WITH INSERT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A handle for an appliance and a method of securing the handle to an appliance includes a handle having a hollow end. The handle further includes an insert having a fastener receiving portion. The insert is placed within the hollow end and secured to the appliance with a fastener.



Inventors:
Hale, John (Englewood, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/767802
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
06/25/2007
Assignee:
MILLS PRODUCT, INC. (Brentwood, TN, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/700
International Classes:
A47B95/02
View Patent Images:
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20090064463Hinge for pivotally moving a laterally opening doorMarch, 2009Gomoll et al.
20020088082Furniture glide with polymer support platformJuly, 2002Carpinella et al.
20060288527Security door/window stopDecember, 2006Van Vliet
20010010109Spring element, especially for apparatus for raising and lowering windowpanes of motor vehiclesAugust, 2001Jager
20090255086Carrier Strip for Holding Drapery Carriers and Method of UseOctober, 2009Wicker et al.
20080256746FITTING FOR THE PIVOTING SUPPORT OF A SHUTTEROctober, 2008Yuan
20030019077Fastening mechanism for doorknobJanuary, 2003Liao



Primary Examiner:
LEE, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REISING ETHINGTON P.C. (755 W. BIG BEAVER ROAD SUITE 1850, TROY, MI, 48084, US)
Claims:
1. A handle assembly for an appliance, comprising: a curved handle having an end, the end including a sidewall defining an opening and a cavity within the end; and an insert disposed through the opening and within the cavity, the insert including a fastener receiving portion adjacent the opening and a cam surface extending along the sidewall inside the cavity so that when the handle assembly is fastened to an appliance with a fastener that engages the fastener receiving portion, the cam surface secures the portion of the sidewall between the cam surface and the appliance.

2. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the curved handle has a second end, the second end including a sidewall defining an opening and a cavity within the second end, and an insert disposed through the opening and within the cavity of the second end, the insert including a fastener receiving portion adjacent the opening and a cam surface extending along the sidewall inside the cavity so that when the handle assembly is fastened to an appliance with a fastener that engages the fastener receiving portion, the cam surface secures the portion of the sidewall between the cam surface and the appliance.

3. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the insert includes a bottom surface for engaging the appliance, the fastener receiving portion being disposed in the bottom surface.

4. The handle assembly of claim 1, further including a fastener for securing the fastener receiving portion to the appliance.

5. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the insert substantially fills the cavity.

6. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the fastener receiving portion is a shank.

7. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the fastener receiving portion is a blind bore.

8. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein the insert is comprised of a glass filled polypropylene.

9. A handle assembly for an appliance, comprising: a curved handle having a hollow first end and a hollow second end, each end including a sidewall terminating at an edge defining an opening lying in an imaginary plane, wherein the imaginary planes intersect at a line until the handle is secured to an appliance; a first insert disposed within the hollow first end and a second insert disposed within the hollow second end, the first insert and the second insert each including: a fastener receiving portion; and a side surface conforming to the interior of the hollow end and extending along a portion of the sidewall so that when the handle assembly is secured to the appliance, the side surface captures the portion of the sidewall between the side surface and the appliance.

10. The handle of claim 9, wherein each insert includes a bottom surface and the side surface of the insert tilts the bottom surface with respect to the opening defined by the respective edge.

11. The handle of claim 9, wherein the fastener receiving portion is a shank.

12. The handle of claim 9, wherein the fastener receiving portion is a blind bore.

13. The handle of claim 9, wherein fastener receiving portion is threaded to receive a threaded fastener.

14. The handle of claim 9, wherein the first insert and the sidewall of the first insert each contain a hole aligned with each other to receive a fastener within the fastener receiving portion of the first insert.

15. The handle of claim 9, wherein the first insert and the second insert are comprised of a glass filled polypropylene.

16. The handle of claim 9, wherein the imaginary planes become coplanar when both ends of the handle are secured to an appliance surface.

17. A method of securing a handle to an appliance wherein the handle includes a hollow end defined by a sidewall with the sidewall terminating at an edge defining an opening, the edge having an outer portion and an inner portion, the method comprising the steps of: a. placing an insert through the opening and within the hollow end of the handle; b. placing the outer portion of the edge of the handle against an appliance surface; c. securing a fastener to the insert; and d. capturing the sidewall between the insert and the appliance surface.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the securing step further comprises positioning the fastener so that the appliance surface is positioned between the insert and at least a portion of the fastener.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the insert includes a generally flat bottom surface and the securing step further comprises tightening the fastener to pull the bottom surface flush against the appliance surface.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the insert forces the inner portion of the edge from a position spaced away from the appliance surface into contact with the appliance surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to handle assemblies, and more particularly to an appliance handle assembly and methods of securing appliance handle assemblies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Handles are commonly used on various household appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, microwave ovens, toaster ovens, and grills. Often, the handles are located on an appliance door, lid, or storage compartment to assist users with opening the appliance. Brackets commonly are used to secure the handle to the appliance. Typically, the bracket is first secured to the appliance. Then, once the bracket is secure, the handle can be secured to the bracket. Alternatively, the brackets can be welded to the handle. Then, the bracket can be secured to the appliance. The two step process of first securing the bracket, then securing the handle to the bracket can increase the time, complexity, and/or expense of assembling the handle to the appliance. Moreover, the weld between the bracket and handle can break.

In contrast, some handles that are not secured using a bracket may result in an end of the handle pivoting on the surface of the appliance when the handle is fastened. The pivoting action can create a gap between an outer edge of the handle and the appliance. The gap is unsightly, and it may catch clothing or other material between the handle and the appliance.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

One aspect of the disclosure provides a handle assembly for an appliance including a curved handle and an insert. The curved handle has an end including a sidewall defining an opening and a cavity within the end. The insert is disposed through the opening and within the cavity. The insert includes a fastener receiving portion adjacent the opening and a cam surface extending along the sidewall inside the cavity. When the handle assembly is fastened to an appliance with a fastener that engages the fastener receiving portion, the cam surface secures the portion of the sidewall between the cam surface and the appliance.

Another aspect of the disclosure provides a handle assembly for an appliance including a curved handle and a first insert and a second insert. The curved handle has a hollow first end and a hollow second end. Each end includes a sidewall terminating at an edge that defines an opening lying in an imaginary plane. The imaginary planes intersect at a line until the handle is secured to an appliance. The first insert is disposed within the hollow first end and the second insert is disposed within the hollow second end. Each insert includes a fastener receiving portion and a side surface. The side surface conforms to the interior of the hollow end and extends along a portion of the sidewall so that when the handle assembly is secured to the appliance, the side surface captures the portion of the sidewall between the side surface and the appliance.

Yet another aspect of the disclosure includes a method of securing a handle to an appliance wherein the handle includes a hollow end defined by a sidewall. The sidewall terminates at an edge defining an opening. The edge has an outer portion and an inner portion. The method includes the steps of:

a. placing an insert through the opening and within the hollow end of the handle;

b. placing the outer portion of the edge of the handle against an appliance surface;

c. securing a fastener to the insert; and

d. capturing the sidewall between the insert and the appliance surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following detailed description of preferred embodiments and best mode will be set forth with regard to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is front perspective view of a handle assembly secured to a door of an appliance;

FIG. 2 is a sectional top view of the handle assembly including a curved handle and an insert secured to the door taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional top view of the handle assembly;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional top view showing another embodiment of the handle;

FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5, showing the handle adjacent an appliance surface with a gap between an inner end of the curved handle and the appliance surface;

FIG. 7 is a sectional top view of the handle of FIG. 6, showing two imaginary planes, each defined by an opening at the ends of the handle.

FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 5 showing the handle assembly secured to the appliance;

FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 5 showing the handle assembly secured to the appliance by cooperating fasteners; and

FIG. 10 is a sectional side view of the handle assembly secured to the appliance surface taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring in more detail to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a handle assembly generally shown at 10 according to one presently preferred embodiment secured to a door of an appliance 12. The appliance shown in FIG. 1 is an oven, although the handle assembly 10 can be used with other appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, ranges, toaster ovens, and the like.

FIG. 2 shows a sectional top view of handle assembly 10 and the surface 12 of the appliance. The handle assembly 10 includes a curved handle generally indicated at 14 and a pair of inserts generally indicated at 16, 18 secured to the appliance surface 12 via a pair of fasteners 20.

As best seen in FIG. 3, the curved handle 14 includes a first end 30 and a second end 32. The curve enables both ends to contact the appliance surface 12 and provides a clearance between the center of the handle 14 and the appliance surface 12 for users to grab the handle 14. Although the handle 14 is shown in FIG. 3 as having a continuous curve from one end to the other, other embodiments may also be provided. For example, the handle 14 may be relatively straight in the center with curvatures near each end, with both curvatures angled toward the appliance surface 12.

The handle 14 may be composed of any number of suitable materials including plastic, wood, metal, a glass filled polypropylene, PVC and the like. The handle 14 may also be formed from any suitable method including die-casting, injection molding, hydroforming, and the like. Although the handle 14 is shown as one integral component, it may be comprised of multiple components secured to one another.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 4 of FIG. 3. FIG. 4 shows the first end 30 of the handle 14 secured to the appliance surface 12 via fastener 20. First end 30 includes a sidewall 34 terminating at an edge 35. The edge 35 defines an opening 36 and the sidewall defines a cavity 38 within the first end 30. The edge 35 has an outer portion 40 and an inner portion 42. The inner portion 42 and outer portion 40 are in contact with the appliance surface 12 after installation.

FIG. 4 also shows the insert 16 disposed through the opening 36 and within the cavity 38. The insert 16 is fastened to the appliance via fastener. The insert 16 may comprise a side surface 50, a bottom surface 52, and a fastener receiving portion 54. The side surface 50 can conform to the cavity 38 of the first end 30. In one implementation shown in FIG. 4, the side surface 50 substantially fills the cavity 38. The side surface 50 includes a cam surface 56 extending along a portion the sidewall 34 adjacent the inner portion 42.

The bottom surface 52 may be generally planar and may carry the fastener receiving portion 54. The fastener receiving portion 54 can extend from the bottom surface 52. The fastener receiving portion 54 in FIG. 4 is shown as shank integral with the insert 16. In one implementation, the shank 54 does not contain any threads and secures to the appliance surface 12 by receiving a fastener 20 such as a clamp, a clip, or the like. The shank 54 can include one or more recesses or ridges (not shown) for assisting in securing a clip. Alternatively, the shank 54 can include threads (not shown) for receiving a threaded fastener 20 such as threaded nut, or may include a hole (not shown) for receiving a pin.

The insert 16 extends over the portion of the sidewall 34 adjacent the cam surface 56 within the cavity 38. The portion of the sidewall 34 adjacent the cam surface 56 can be curved. The cam surface 56 and a portion of the side surface 50 adjacent the outer portion 40 of the edge 35 touch the sidewall 34 within the cavity 38. This arrangement enables the cam surface 56 to capture the portion of the sidewall 34 adjacent the cam surface 56 between the cam surface 56 and the appliance 12 to secure the handle assembly 10 to the appliance when the fastener receiving portion 54 is secured to the appliance with fastener. When the fastener 20 is secured to the fastener receiving portion 54, the fastener receiving portion 56 draws the insert 16 towards the appliance surface 12. As the insert 16 is drawn towards the appliance surface 12, the cam surface 56 engages the portion of the sidewall 38, drawing the sidewall toward the appliance surface 12. With the fastener secured, the portion of the sidewall 38 adjacent the cam surface 56 is sandwiched between the cam surface 56 and the appliance surface 12. Thus, the handle 14 cannot be pulled away from the appliance surface 12 due to a clamping action created by the insert 16 and the appliance surface on the sidewall 38.

FIG. 5 shows another implementation of the handle assembly 10. In this implementation, the fastener receiving portion 54 is a blind bore extending through the bottom surface 52 for receiving the fastener. The blind bore 54 can be threaded to receive a threaded fastener 20 such as a bolt or a screw. Alternatively, the blind bore 54 may not be threaded and may receive a non-threaded fastener 20 such as a rivet or bolt. Moreover, the blind bore 54 can include one or more recesses or ridges (not shown) to secure a fastener 20 such as a clip, plug, or a pin within the bore.

FIG. 6 shows the first end 30 placed against the appliance surface 12. As seen in FIG. 6, outer portion 40 of edge 35 and the bottom surface 52 of the insert 16 near the outer portion 40 are in contact with the appliance surface 12. In contrast, the inner portion 42 of the edge 35 is not in contact with the appliance surface 12. Rather, the inner portion 42 of the edge 35 is suspended above the appliance surface 12 due to the angles that the first end 30 and second end 32 are cut. As shown in FIG. 7, the openings in the first end 30 and in the second end 32 are not coplanar with one another until the handle 14 is secured to the appliance surface 12. Rather, the openings lie in respective imaginary planes A and B that intersect at a line C. The first end 30 and second end 32 are cut at an angle so that the outer portion 40 of each end makes contact with the appliance surface 12 but the inner portion 42 of each edge is suspended away from the appliance surface 12 when the handle 14 is placed against the surface as shown back in FIG. 6.

The suspension of the inner portion 42 of edge 35 is an optional feature of the handle 14 that can be used ensure that the outer portion 40 does not pull away from the appliance surface 12 when the handle assembly 10 is fastened to the appliance surface. Common materials used for appliance handles such as metal and plastic can be somewhat flexible and can allow the handle to flex when fastened to the appliance surface 12. In some circumstances, the flexing of the handle 14 could cause the outer portion 40 of edge 35 to pull away from the appliance surface 12. If a flexible material is used for the handle 14, the ends of the handle 14 can be cut so that the inner portion 42 of edge 35 is suspended from the appliance surface 12. The suspension of the inner portion 42 causes the handle 14 to flex as the cam surface 56 pulls the inner portion 42 against the appliance surface 12. The first end 30 pivots down about the edge 35 as the cam surface 56 pulls the inner portion 42. Pivoting the first end 30 can ensure that the outer portion 40 remains in contact with the appliance surface 12 while the handle assembly 10 is secured to the appliance surface 12 and thus prevent a gap between the outer portion 40 and the appliance surface 12.

Additionally, the bottom surface 52 of the insert 16 can be tilted within the cavity 38 with respect to the edge 35. Prior to fastening the handle assembly 10, the portion of the bottom surface 52 adjacent the outer portion 40 of edge 35 is generally in line with the opening 36. In contrast, the portion of the bottom surface 52 adjacent the inner portion 42 can be titled above the opening 36 and into the cavity 38 near the inner portion 42. The interaction of the cam surface 56 with the portion of the sidewall 34 adjacent the inner portion 42 causes the bottom surface 52 to tilt with respect to the edge 35. Tilting the bottom surface 52 creates a gap 60 between the bottom surface near the inner portion 42 of the edge 35 and the appliance surface 12.

The gap 60 can help maintain the outer portion 40 against the appliance surface when the fastener 20 is tightened. The gap 60 can enable the fastener 20 to continue to tighten the handle assembly to the appliance surface 12 after the inner portion 42 of edge 35 is pulled to the appliance surface 12 without causing handle 14 to flex and pull the outer portion 40 off the appliance surface. As the fastener 20 is tightened, the portion of the bottom surface 52 near the inner portion 42 is pulled towards the appliance surface 12. The gap 60 allows the insert 16 to pivot along the sidewalls within the cavity 38 and absorb the tension from the fastener as it is tightened.

Alternatively, the insert 16 can be sized and shaped so that the bottom surface 52 lies in line with the opening 36, even when the handle assembly 10 not fastened to the appliance surface 12. For example, the curvature of the cam surface 56 can be adjusted to increase, decrease, or remove the gap 60.

FIG. 8 shows the first end 30 secured to the appliance surface 12. The first end 30 is secured via fastener 20 shown as a bolt. The bolt 14 extends from one side of the appliance surface 12, through a hole 62 in the appliance surface 12, and into the fastener receiving portion 54 of the insert. As can be seen in FIG. 8, there is no longer a gap between the inner portion 42 of the handle 14 and the appliance surface 12. Moreover, FIG. 8 also shows no gap 60 between the bottom surface 52 of the insert 16 and the appliance surface 12. As the fastener 20 is secured to the fastener receiving portion 54, the fastener receiving portion 54 draws the insert 16 toward the appliance surface 12. In one implementation, the fastener 20 is secured to the fastener receiving portion 54 by tightening fastener. As the insert 16 is drawn toward the appliance surface 12, the cam surface 56 presses against the portion of the sidewall 34 adjacent the inner portion 42 and pulls the portion of the sidewall 34 toward the appliance surface 12. The insert 16 forces the inner portion 42 of the edge 35 from a position spaced away from the appliance surface 12 into contact with the appliance surface. In one implementation, the cam surface 56 pulls the bottom surface 52 of the insert 16 flush against the appliance surface 12. The cam surface 56 secures the first end 30 against the appliance surface 12 by capturing the portion of the sidewall 34 between the cam surface 56 and the appliance surface 12. Thus, the insert 16 and fastener 20 secure the first end 30 to the appliance surface 12.

The second end 32 can be secured to the appliance surface 12 in a similar manner. The second end 32 can be secured by placing insert 16 within the cavity 38 of the second end 32, placing the second end 32 against the appliance surface 12, placing fastener 20 within the fastener receiving portion 54, and securing the fastener.

FIG. 9 shows another implementation of the handle assembly 10 in which another fastener arrangement secures the insert 16. The insert 16 is placed in the cavity 38 and includes a blind bore 54 extending through the bottom surface 52 for receiving the fastener 20. The fastener 20 is shown as a stud or a bolt extending from or through the appliance surface 12 and into the blind bore 54. A head 64 of the stud 20 extends near the top of the blind bore 54 as seen in FIG. 10. The sidewall 34 and the insert 16 include aligned holes 66, 68 for receiving a pin or screw 70. The screw 70 extends through holes 66, 68 and into the fastener receiving portion 54 beneath the head 64 of stud 20. This configuration prevents the end of the handle 14 from being lifted away from the appliance surface 12 or the stud 20 from sliding out of the blind bore 54. For example, any attempt to pull the handle 14 away from the appliance surface 12 may cause the screw 70 to intersect with the head 64 of the stud 20, thus preventing further movement of the handle 14 away from the appliance surface 12.

The embodiments of the handle assembly 10 and methods of securing the handle assembly discussed above are intended to be illustrative of some presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and are not limiting. Various modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, the handle assembly 10 can be configured for attachment to any number of appliances and surfaces, and may be configured to interact with any number of fasteners. The invention is defined by the claims that follow.