Title:
MAGNIFYING DOOR FOR A WASHING MACHINE APPLIANCE
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a lid or a door for a washing machine and, more particularly, to a door that provides magnification of the interior of the washing machine. The door provides a magnified view of the washing chamber of the appliance to improve consumer perception of the capacity of the washing chamber while also allowing the consumer to view the washing chamber when the machine is operating.


Inventors:
Leibman, Alexander Boris (Prospect, KY, US)
Application Number:
13/080942
Publication Date:
10/11/2012
Filing Date:
04/06/2011
Assignee:
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY (Schenectady, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06F13/08
View Patent Images:
Foreign References:
CN20110472Y
KR20040046953A
Other References:
Machine translation of KR 10-2004-0046953A, no date.
Primary Examiner:
PERRIN, JOSEPH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dority and Manning, P.A and Haier US (Appliance Solutions, Inc. PO Box 1449 Greenville SC 29602)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A washing machine, comprising: a cabinet defining an opening; a wash chamber for containing articles to be washed, said wash chamber accessed by the opening through which articles are placed into said wash chamber; an agitation device present in said wash chamber for moving the articles to be washed within said wash chamber; and, a door that is attached to said cabinet, said door being selectively movable between an open position and a closed position whereby said door closes the opening defined by said cabinet, said door comprising a window through which said wash chamber is visible when said door in the closed position, said window configured to magnify the appearance of said wash chamber through said window.

2. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said window is constructed as a magnifying glass having a convex shape.

3. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said window is constructed from tempered glass.

4. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said window is constructed from poly(methyl methacrylate).

5. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said window is constructed from a polycarbonate.

6. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said door further comprises a frame into which said window is received.

7. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said window is larger than the opening in said cabinet.

8. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein the washing machine is a vertical axis washing machine defining the opening on top of the cabinet.

9. A washing machine as in claim 1, wherein said washing machine is a horizontal axis washing machine defining the opening on a side of the cabinet.

10. A door for a washing machine, the washing machine having a wash chamber accessible through an opening defined by the cabinet of the washing machine, the door comprising: a window configured for selective placement over the opening of the washing machine whereby a user may open or close access to the wash chamber through the opening, said window providing a magnification of the wash chamber when said window is placed in a closed position over the opening of the washing machine.

11. A door for a washing machine as in claim 10, further comprising a frame configured for a hinged connection to the washing machine, wherein said window is received into said frame.

12. A door for a washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is constructed as a magnifying glass having a convex shape.

13. A door for a washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is constructed from tempered glass.

14. A door for washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is constructed from poly(methyl methacrylate).

15. A door for a washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is constructed from a polycarbonate.

16. A door for a washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is larger than the opening in the cabinet of the washing machine.

17. A door for washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window further comprises at least one hinge for attachment to the washing machine.

18. A door for washing machine as in claim 10, wherein said window is illuminated.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to lid or door for a washing machine and, more particularly, to a lid that provides magnification of the interior of the washing machine.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Washing machine appliances are a common purchase for residential use among consumers. When shopping for a washing machine appliance, consumers may consider a variety of factors in their purchasing decision. For example, consumers may consider energy efficiency, user selectable features such as cycles for different articles being washed, the size and color of the appliance, and still other factors as well.

For washing machine purchases, one important factor in consumer decision making is the capacity of the washing machine. A washing machine typically includes a wash chamber where articles are received for cleaning. The size of the wash chamber determines the amount or volume or articles that can be washed in a single wash load. The size is generally provided as a capacity specification in advertising to consumers. The capacity is also available in product manuals that are usually provided with the appliance. For example, modern washing machines may have capacities of 3.4, 3.7, 4.3, and 5.1 cubic feet. Still other capacities may be available as well. Smaller units, such as compact or stacked units may have a capacity, for example, of 1.5 cubic feet.

When consumers compare washing machine products, they may not rely solely on product manuals and advertising to compare the capacities of different washing machines. Instead, consumers can also compare photographs of various washing machines as well as compare models on display e.g., in a retail store. More specifically, with regard to capacity, consumers can visually inspect the wash chambers of each washing machine to compare the relative capacities of different machines.

Accordingly, in addition to the reported capacity, the capacity of the wash chamber as perceived by the consumer can have a substantial impact on the consumer's purchasing decision. In addition, while the capacities between two different washing machines may be substantially the same, the perceived capacity of one unit may seem larger than another. For example, the size of the door, the size of the agitator positioned within the washing chamber, and other factors may affect the perceived capacity of the washing machine.

Another factor that can affect a consumer's purchasing decision is the ability to see inside the washing machine. Some consumers may prefer washing machines having e.g., a viewing glass through which the consumer can view the operation of the machine. As such, the consumer can visually inspect the agitation of the articles, the water level, and other aspects of the operation of the washing machine.

Accordingly, a device that improves a consumer's perception of a washing machine would be useful. More particularly, a device that improves a consumer's perception of the capacity of a washing machine relative to other appliances would be beneficial. Such a device that also allows a consumer to view the interior of the washing machine and see the wash chamber even when the machine is operating would also be particularly useful.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Aspects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.

In one exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a washing machine having a cabinet defining an opening and a wash chamber for containing articles to be washed. The wash chamber is accessed by the opening through which articles are placed into the wash chamber. An agitation device is present in the wash chamber for moving the articles to be washed within the wash chamber. A door is attached to the cabinet. The door is selectively movable between an open position and a closed position whereby the door closes the opening defined by the cabinet. The door includes a window through which the wash chamber is visible when the door is in the closed position. The window is configured to magnify the appearance of the wash chamber through the window.

In another exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a door for a washing machine, the washing machine having a wash chamber accessible through an opening defined by the cabinet of the washing machine. The door includes a window configured for selective placement over the opening of the washing machine whereby a user may open or close access to the wash chamber through the opening. A window provides a magnification of the wash chamber when the window is placed in a closed position over the opening of the washing machine.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures, in which:

FIG. 1 provides a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a washing machine of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a partial, top view of the exemplary embodiment of a washing machine shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of the door or lid of the exemplary embodiment of a washing machine in FIG. 1, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a lid or a door for a washing machine and, more particularly, to a door that provides magnification of the interior of the washing machine. The door provides a magnified view of the washing chamber of the appliance to improve consumer perception of the capacity of the washing chamber while also allowing the consumer to view the washing chamber when the machine is operating. Reference now will be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

As used herein, the term “article” may refer to but need not be limited to fabrics, textiles, garments (or clothing), and linens. Furthermore, the term “load” or “wash load” refers to the combination of articles that may be washed together in a washing machine and may include a mixture of different or similar articles of different or similar types and kinds of fabrics, textiles, garments and linens within a particular laundering process. Also, the term “door” or “lid” can be used interchangeably herein, it being understood that the present invention may be used with both vertical axis and horizontal axis washing machines.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary vertical axis washing machine 10 as may be used with the present invention. FIG. 2 provides a partial, top view of washing machine 10 where the interior is more visible than in FIG. 1. Washing machine 10 includes a cabinet 12 having a cover 14. A backsplash 16 extends from cover 14. A variety of appliance control input selectors 20 are coupled to backsplash 16. Input selectors can be of a touch type such as touchpad as shown or may include more traditional knobs and dials. Regardless, input selectors 20 provide an interface whereby the user may operate the machine and select various operation features of the appliance. A display may also be provided on backsplash 16 for notifying the user of various aspect of the machine's operation including e.g., the mode of operation, water temperature selected, and other information as well.

A wash chamber 30 is located within cabinet 12. Wash chamber 30 is accessed through opening 35, which is used to insert or remove articles of a wash load. Wash basket 32 is rotatably mounted within wash chamber 30. Basket 32 includes a plurality of apertures or perforations 33 therein to facilitate fluid communication through wash basket 32. As such, perforations 33 allow water to be e.g., removed from wash basket 32 by draining as part of a wash, spin, or rinse cycle. An agitator, impeller, or oscillatory basket mechanism 34 is disposed in basket 32 to impart an oscillatory motion to articles and liquid in basket 32. A motor (not shown) provides for the movement of agitator 34. Wash chamber 30 is also in fluid communication with one or more pumps and/or drains for the removal of water, such as grey water, from chamber 30 such as e.g., after a wash or rinse cycle.

Washing machine 10 is controlled by a processing device or other controller, such as a microprocessor (not shown), according to user preference via manipulation of control input selectors 20 mounted on backsplash 16. As used herein, processing device may refer to one or more microprocessors or semiconductors devices and is not restricted necessarily to a single element. The processing device can be programmed to operate washing machine 10 according to features desired by the consumer.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, agitator 34 is oriented to rotate about a vertical axis. It is contemplated, however, that the benefits of the present invention can also apply to horizontal axis washing machines as well. More specifically, the washing machine of FIGS. 1 and 2 is provided by way of example only. Using the teachings disclosed herein, one of ordinary skill in the art will understand the present invention may be used with washing machines of various other configurations in both residential and commercial applications.

As also shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, washing machine 10 is equipped with a door 40 that attached to the cover 14 of cabinet 12. Preferably, door 40 is connected by one or more hinges or other suitable mechanism that allows door 40 to be selectively moved between the closed position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and an open position whereby articles may be placed through opening 35 and into wash chamber 30. Although opening 35 and door 40 are positioned on the top of vertical axis washing machine 10, using the teachings disclosed herein one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that a horizontal axis washing machine may be equipped with an opening and door on the side of the washing machine in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

Door 40 includes a window 42 through which wash chamber 30 is visible when door 40 is in the closed position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Window 42 is constructed in a manner such that it provides magnification of the wash chamber 30 when viewed through window 42 in the closed position shown. More specifically, window 42 operates in a manner similar to a magnifying glass. In fact, as shown in FIG. 3, window 42 may indeed have a convex shape similar to a traditional magnifying glass although such is not necessarily required by the present invention.

Because the appearance of wash chamber 30 is magnified, the perceived capacity of washing machine 10 is increased. This increased perceived capacity can provide for an improved perception of washing machine 10 by e.g., a potential consumer comparing machine 10 with other products. In addition, window 42 provides a magnified view of the contents of wash chamber 30 during operation of washing machine 10, which can also be a desirable feature to certain consumers. Door 40 can also be equipped with a light for illuminating the opening 35, window 42, and/or wash chamber 30.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 3, door 40 includes a frame 44 into which window 42 is received. More particularly, frame 44 is provided with a groove 46 or other feature for receiving and fixing the position of window 42 in frame 44. The configuration shown in FIG. 3 is provided by way of example only. A variety of other mounting configurations for window 42 into frame 44 may be used as well. Adhesives, seals, gaskets, and combinations thereof may also be used to for fixing window 42 within frame 44. In addition, door 40 may also be constructed without frame 44. More specifically, door 40 can also be constructed entirely from window 42. As such, window 42 may be larger than opening 35. Conversely, door 40 can also be constructed with a larger frame such that window 42 is much smaller than shown in FIGS. 1 through 3. Again, using the teachings disclosed herein, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that a variety of configurations may be applied.

A variety of materials may be used for the construction of window 42. Preferably, such material will be compatible with the detergents and temperatures used in washing machine 10. In addition, the material used for window 42 is preferably either shatter proof or constructed from material that, if broken, creates pieces with a minimal amount of sharp edges. For example, window 42 might be constructed from a transparent polycarbonate, which is a very durable material that is sometime used in the manufacture of bullet resistant panes or windows and is also sometimes used in the manufacture of eyeglasses.

Window 42 could also be constructed from poly(methyl methacrylate), or PMMA, which is a transparent thermoplastic that is sometimes used as a lighter, and more shatter resistant alternative to glass. PMMA is also sometimes referred to as acrylic glass and has been sold e.g., under the trademark Plexiglas®. Tempered glass can also be used for the construction of window 42. Tempered glass is manufactured by process that gives the glass strength while also causing the glass to break into small fragments instead of shards if the glass is shattered. Other materials capable of providing a magnification of wash chamber 30 may be used as well.

This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they include structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.