Title:
WASHING MACHINE WITH INTEGRATED TUB/DRUM
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A washing machine includes an integrated tub/drum that holds laundry and water and rotates. A water supply pipe and a water drain pipe enter the integrated tub/drum through a hollow shaft. An in-situ heating device is coupled to water supply pipe outside the integrated tub/drum and raises a temperature of water supplied to the integrated tub/drum. Alternatively, the in-situ heating device may be proximate to a water circulation pipe outside the integrated tub/drum or inside the integrated tub/drum.


Inventors:
Kim, In Dong (Yongin-si, KR)
Kim, Jeong Hyeon (Anyang-si, KR)
Kim, Hye Ung (Seoul, KR)
Lee, Ju Dong (Incheon, KR)
Application Number:
14/182981
Publication Date:
06/25/2015
Filing Date:
02/18/2014
Assignee:
DONGBU DAEWOO ELECTRONICS CORPORATION (Seoul, KR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06F39/04; D06F39/08
View Patent Images:
Primary Examiner:
KO, JASON Y
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DONGBU DAEWOO c/o Murabito, Hao & Barnes (Two North Market Street Third Floor San Jose CA 95113)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A washing machine comprising: an integrated tub/drum configured to store water, hold laundry, and rotate; a hollow shaft coupled to the integrated tub/drum; a water supply pipe in the integrated tub/drum through the hollow shaft, the water supply pipe configured to supply water to the integrated tub/drum; and a heating device coupled to the water supply pipe outside the integrated tub/drum, configured to raise a temperature of water supplied to the integrated tub/drum.

2. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the integrated tub/drum has a truncated conical shape comprising a large end surface and a small end surface, and wherein the hollow shaft is coupled to the large end surface and configured to rotate.

3. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the heating device is around the exterior surface of the water supply pipe.

4. The washing machine of claim 1, further comprising: an air pipe in communication with the interior of the integrated tub/drum, wherein the air pipe is routed through the hollow shaft.

5. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the hollow shaft is coupled to a first end surface of the integrated tub/drum, and the washing machine further comprises: a drive shaft coupled to a second end surface of the integrated tub/drum, the second end surface being opposite to the first end surface; and a motor configured to drive and/or rotate the drive shaft.

6. The washing machine of claim 1, further comprising: a water drain pipe in the integrated tub/drum and through the hollow shaft, wherein the water drain pipe is configured to discharge water from the integrated tub/drum; and a water drain pump coupled to the water drain pipe outside the integrated tub/drum, configured to discharge the water from the integrated tub/drum through the water drain pipe.

7. The washing machine of claim 6, further comprising: a circulation pipe coupled between the water drain pump and the water supply pipe and configured to circulate water between the water drain pipe and the water supply pipe, wherein the heating device is adjacent to the circulation pipe and configured to raise a temperature of water circulated in a closed loop along the water supply pipe, the water drain pipe, and the circulation pipe.

8. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the water drain pipe is in the integrated tub/drum and through the hollow shaft, and bends downward.

9. A washing machine comprising: an integrated tub/drum configured to store water, hold laundry, and rotate; a hollow rotary shaft coupled to and passing through a surface of the integrated tub/drum; a heating device inside the integrated tub/drum and configured to heat water in the integrated tub/drum; and one or more water pipes in the integrated tub/drum through the hollow rotary shaft.

10. The washing machine of claim 9, wherein the one or more water pipes include a water supply pipe and a water drain pipe, and the water drain pipe extends beyond the hollow rotary shaft and bends downward.

11. The washing machine of claim 10, wherein the water supply pipe extend beyond the hollow rotary shaft and bends upward, and/or leftward or rightward.

12. The washing machine of claim 9, further comprising an air pipe in communication with an interior of the integrated tub/drum through the hollow rotary shaft, the air pipe configured to supply air to and/or discharge air from the integrated tub/drum.

13. The washing machine of claim 9, further comprising an electric power cable connected to the heating device and passing through the hollow rotary shaft, the electric power cable configured to provide power to the heating device.

14. The washing machine of claim 9, further comprising: a drive shaft coupled to another surface of the integrated tub/drum; and a motor driving the drive shaft and the integrated tub/drum to rotate.

15. The washing machine of claim 14, wherein the integrated tub/drum has a truncated conical shape comprising a large end surface and a small end surface that are opposite to each other, the hollow rotary shaft is coupled to the large end surface, the heating device is in the integrated tub/drum near the large end surface, and the drive shaft is coupled to the small end surface.

16. The washing machine of claim 15, wherein the heating device is in a lower portion of the integrated tub/drum relative to a rotation center of the integrated tub/drum.

17. The washing machine of claim 9, wherein the integrated tub/drum comprises an opening configured to admit laundry and a cover unit configured to enclose the integrated tub/drum by sealing the opening during laundry washing operations.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and claims priority from Korean Patent Application No. 10-2013-0161293, filed on Dec. 23, 2013, with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a washing machine, and more particularly, to a washing machine having an integral and/or unitary tub and drum, configured to hold water, to rotate, and hold laundry.

BACKGROUND

A washing machine is an apparatus that eliminates foreign matter or substances on or in laundry by agitating and/or rotating water and the laundry. Washing machines may be classified into a pulsator type washing machine that washes the laundry using a water flow generated by operation (e.g., rotation) of a pulsator in a washing tub, and a drum type washing machine that rotates the drum to wash laundry by dropping the laundry vertically into water at the bottom of the drum.

A drum type washing machine typically has a door at the front of the washing machine to place the laundry through the door. The rotating drum drops the laundry into the water and detergent to wash the laundry, and uses relatively small amounts of water and detergent. Specifically, a drum type washing machine in the related art mainly includes a cabinet or housing that forms an external appearance of the washing machine, a tub that is in the cabinet and that holds water, a rotatable drum that is in the tub and that accommodates or holds laundry, a drive motor that is installed on or near the tub and that drives and/or rotates the drum, a water supply device that supplies water to the tub, and a water drain that discharges water from the tub to the outside of the cabinet (e.g., a drain pipe) after the washing operation(s) end.

Accordingly, when the laundry is washed in the drum type washing machine in the related art, the laundry is put into the tub in a lateral direction by opening a door at the front of the washing machine, water is supplied to the tub, and then the laundry is washed while a lifter in the drum lifts up and drops the laundry as the drum rotates by operation of the drive motor.

As such, the drum type washing machine in the related art includes the tub in addition to the drum. That is, the drum type washing machine in the related art has a structure that has the tub hold water and the drum in the tub rotate and wash the laundry.

However, because the tub is typically made of a plastic material, the tub may be easily contaminated by hard water, scale or other foreign substance(s) that enter the tub after the tub is used over a period of time. There is a problem in that it is difficult to clean the tub because of the presence of the drum when the tub is contaminated. When the tub is contaminated, the tub becomes dirty, corroded, or a source of foreign substances and/or contaminants, and then the laundry becomes contaminated, which may cause irritation or skin problems or disease to the user.

This problem also exists in pulsator type washing machines as well as drum type washing machines. Pulsator type washing machines also include a reservoir (tub) in the main body thereof.

Moreover, in the drum type washing machine according to the related art, the drum typically rotates in a state in which only one end or side of the drum is supported by a shaft. As a result, undesirable vibration and noise tend to occur due to deflection of the shaft.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure has been made in an effort to provide a washing machine which uses a one-piece and/or unitary tub and/or drum (“an integrated tub/drum”), thereby suppressing the generation of mold, scale and other contaminants on the inner surface(s) thereof and allowing the integrated tub/drum to be easily cleaned.

The present disclosure has been made in an effort to provide a washing machine which may effectively raise a temperature of the water that is supplied to the integrated tub/drum.

The present disclosure has been made in an effort to provide a washing machine which may effectively discharge water from the integrated tub/drum.

One or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure provide a washing machine including: an integrated tub/drum configured to store water, accommodate laundry together with the water, and rotate; a hollow shaft coupled to a surface of the integrated tub/drum; a water supply pipe coupled to the integrated tub/drum through the hollow shaft; and a heating device coupled to the water pipe outside the integrated tub/drum, configured to raise a temperature of water supplied to the integrated tub/drum.

The integrated tub/drum may have a truncated conical shape, and the hollow shaft may be coupled to the relatively large end panel of the integrated tub/drum.

The water supply pipe may extend into the integrated tub/drum through the hollow shaft, and then bend upward, and/or leftward or rightward.

The washing machine may further include an air pipe that communicates with the interior of the integrated tub/drum through the hollow rotary shaft.

The washing machine may further include: a drive shaft which is coupled to the relatively small end panel of the integrated tub/drum; and a motor that rotates the drive shaft.

The washing machine may further include: a water drain pipe having one end coupled to the integrated tub/drum through the hollow rotary shaft (e.g., together with the water supply pipe); and a water drain pump coupled to another end of the water drain pipe, outside the integrated tub/drum, configured to discharge the water in the integrated tub/drum through the water drain pipe.

The washing machine may further include a circulation pipe which communicates with the water drain pump and the water supply pipe. The circulation pipe can carry water from the water drain pump to the water supply pipe, upstream from the heater. The heating device coupled to the water supply pipe may raise a temperature of the water that is circulated (e.g., in the form of a closed loop including the water supply pipe, the integrated tub/drum, the water drain pipe, and the circulation pipe.)

Another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides a washing machine including: a unitary tub/drum configured to store water, hold laundry, and rotate, wherein the unitary tub/drum comprises an opening configured to insert laundry and a cover unit configured to enclose the unitary tub/drum (e.g., by sealing the opening during laundry operations); a hollow shaft coupled to and passing through a surface of the unitary tub/drum; a heating device in the unitary tub/drum and configured to heat water in said unitary tub/drum; and one or more water pipes coupled to the unitary tub/drum through the hollow shaft.

The one or more water pipes may include a water supply pipe and a water drain pipe, and the water drain pipe may be in the integrated tub/drum and through the hollow shaft, and then bend downward.

The water supply pipe may be in the integrated tub/drum and through the hollow shaft, and then be bend upward, and/or leftward or rightward.

The washing machine may further include an air pipe communicating with the interior of the integrated tub/drum through the hollow shaft.

The washing machine may further include an electric power cable that supplies electric power to the heating device and that is routed through the hollow shaft.

The washing machine may further include a drive shaft coupled to another surface of the integrated tub/drum; and a motor that rotates the drive shaft.

According to embodiments of the washing machine, the integrated tub/drum may have a truncated conical shape, the hollow shaft may be coupled to a relatively large end surface of the integrated tub/drum, and the heating device may be near or on the relatively large end surface in the integrated tub/drum.

The heating device may be on a lower portion of the water drain pipe, based on or relative to a rotation center of the integrated tub/drum.

Accordingly, exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure employ an integrated tub/drum to suppress the generation of contaminants and allow tub-integrated drum to be easily cleaned.

Exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure provide a washing machine that may effectively raise a temperature of the water in and/or to the tub-integrated drum by using an in-situ heating device.

According to exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, the washing machine may effectively discharge the water from the integrated tub/drum.

The foregoing summary is illustrative only and is not intended to be in any way limiting. In addition to the illustrative aspects, embodiments, and features described above, further aspects, embodiments, and features will become apparent by reference to the drawings and the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a washing machine according to one or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary washing machine as shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of an exemplary hollow shaft assembly as shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary washing machine according to one or more other exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary washing machine according to one or more further exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary hollow shaft as shown in FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. The illustrative embodiments described in the detailed description, drawings, and claims are not meant to be limiting. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the subject matter presented here.

Hereinafter, exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings so that those skilled in the technical field to which the present disclosure pertains may easily carry out the exemplary embodiments. The present disclosure may be implemented in various different forms, and is not limited to the exemplary embodiments described herein.

In several exemplary embodiments, constituent elements having the same configuration will be representatively described using the same reference numerals in further and/or additional exemplary embodiments, constituent elements that are different from the constituent elements described in a first exemplary embodiment, will be described in detail, and common elements may be referred to only by name and/or reference numeral(s).

The drawings are schematically illustrated, and the scales of the drawings are not necessarily identical to each other or necessarily to scale. Relative dimensions and ratios of the parts illustrated in the drawings may be exaggerated or reduced in sizes thereof for clarification of the drawings and convenience, and any particular dimension is only illustrative, and is not limited thereto. The same structures, elements or components illustrated in two or more drawings are designated by the same reference numerals so as to illustrate the same or similar features.

The disclosed embodiments of the present disclosure are presented as ideal exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure. As a result, various modifications of the drawings are encompassed within the scope of the disclosure. Therefore, the exemplary embodiments are not limited to specific forms and/or regions illustrated in the drawings, and for example, include modifications of form by manufacturing.

Hereinafter, a washing machine 101 according to one or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure will be described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 3.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the exemplary washing machine 101 includes a integrated tub/drum 200, a hollow rotary shaft 410, a water supply pipe 610, and a heating device 710.

The exemplary washing machine 101 a further includes a water drain pipe 620, a lifter 250, a supporting frame 500, a supporting bearing 508, a drive bearing 509, a drive shaft 420, and a motor 300.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the exemplary washing machine 101 may further include a fixed shaft 415, a rotary bearing 418, a water seal 218, and a shaft bracket, frame or fixture 545.

Although not illustrated in FIG. 2, the exemplary washing machine 101 may further include a cabinet or housing, a water supply pump, and/or water drain pump.

The cabinet or housing forms an external shape and/or appearance of the exemplary washing machine 101, and a control panel for controlling the washing machine 101 may be in and/or on the cabinet. Because the cabinet may have any of various shapes that are well known to those skilled in the art, a detailed description thereof will be omitted.

The water supply pump and the drain pump respectively supply and discharge water through the water supply pipe 610 or the water drain pipe 620. Because the water supply pump and the drain pump in the washing machine 101 are also well known to those skilled in the art, a detailed description thereof will be omitted.

The integrated tub/drum 200 is configured to hold water, accommodate laundry together with the water, and rotate. The integrated tub/drum 200 may comprise or be made of stainless steel. Alternatively, the integrated tub/drum 200 may comprise or be made of metal and/or plastic, and have a ceramic and/or stain-resistant coating on the inner surface thereof. That is, according to various exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, the integrated tub/drum 200 is not easily contaminated by water scale or other foreign substances, and may be easily cleaned even if the integrated tub/drum 200 is contaminated. In contrast, in the case of a washing machine in which a tub and a drum are separate, the drum needs to be removed from the interior of the tub in order to clean the tub that stores water.

The integrated tub/drum 200 may include an opening 209 in one region of a circumferential surface of the integrated tub/drum 200. The laundry may be put into the integrated tub/drum 200, or the laundry in the integrated tub/drum 200 may be taken out of the integrated tub/drum 200, through the opening 209.

The washing machine 101 may further include a drum cover 290 configured to seal the opening 209 of the integrated tub/drum 200 during laundry washing operations. The drum cover 290 can be opened so that laundry can be put into or taken out of the integrated tub/drum 200, secured to the opening 209 of the integrated tub/drum 200 to seal the integrated tub/drum 200 when the laundry is washed. In one embodiment, the cover 290 slides into place in along snug and/or watertight grooves in the tub 200 at the opening 209. In another embodiment, the cover 290 is secured in place over the opening 209 by one or more clasps (and optionally, one or more mating tabs and recesses), and a watertight (e.g., silicone or rubber) gasket or seal may be along the periphery of the opening 209 and/or cover 290.

In the first exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, the integrated tub/drum 200 has a truncated conical shape with two ends of different areas intersecting a rotation center axis However, it will be appreciated that exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure are not particularly limited thereto. For example, the integrated tub/drum 200 may also have a cylindrical shape.

A plurality of lifters 250 may be inside the integrated tub/drum 200. The exemplary lifters 250 extend from an inner circumferential surface of the integrated tub/drum 200 to a predetermined height in a direction toward a center of the integrated tub/drum 200.

Accordingly, when the integrated tub/drum 200 is rotated during operation, the laundry in the integrated tub/drum 200 can be washed by being repeatedly lifted up by the lifter 250 due to rotational force of the integrated tub/drum 200, and dropped back into the wash water and detergent.

The supporting frame 500 can support the hollow shaft 410. The hollow shaft 410 is rotatable. The supporting frame 500 may be accommodated in or coupled to the cabinet (not illustrated). The supporting frame 500 may have one or more shapes such as an intersecting ‘X’ shape, and the hollow rotary shaft 410 may be supported at the intersection. Alternatively, the frame 500 may have a V or inverted V shape (with the hollow rotary shaft 410 at the point of the V), or other shape or form that supports the tub 200 and rotary shaft 410.

However, exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure are not limited thereto, and the supporting frame 500 may have various shapes and/or comprise various structures that may be modified and carried out by those skilled in the art based on the known technology.

The water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620 are inserted into the integrated tub/drum 200 through the passage or opening of the hollow rotary shaft 410. Alternatively, if the water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620 are integral with the nozzle 615 and drain 625, respectively, the water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620 may be inserted into the rotary shaft 410 from an interior of the tub 200. If the circular end panel of the tub 200 is integral or unitary with the rotary shaft 410, the water supply pipe 610 (integral with the nozzle 615) and the water drain pipe 620 (integral with the drain 625) may be inserted into the rotary shaft 410, and the end panel of the drum may be watertightly fixed, attached or secured to the tub/drum 200. The water supply pipe 610 supplies water to the interior of the integrated tub/drum 200, and the water drain pipe 620 discharges water from the interior of the integrated tub/drum 200.

In the first exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, the water drain pipe 620 may pass or extend into the integrated tub/drum 200 through the hollow rotary shaft 410, and then bend downward.

The exemplary hollow rotary shaft 410 is coupled to an end surface of the integrated tub/drum 200 that has a relatively large area. Thus, the water drain pipe 620, which bends downward, can also be adjacent to the relatively large end surface of the integrated tub/drum 200.

The gradient of the integrated tub/drum 200 having a truncated conical shape may cause the water to be collected in an area at or near the relatively large end or surface of the integrated tub/drum 200. As a result, the water can be drained effectively from that end.

In the first exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, the water supply pipe 610 enters the integrated tub/drum 200 through the passage or opening in the hollow rotary shaft 410, and then extends beyond the shaft 410 and bends, e.g., upward, and/or leftward or rightward. FIG. 2 illustrates the water supply pipe 610 that is bent upward. However, the present disclosure is not limited thereto, and the water supply pipe 610 may be bent leftward or rightward, or may not be bent.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the exemplary heating device 710 is coupled to the water supply pipe 610, outside the integrated tub/drum 200. The heating device 710 can heat the water supplied into the integrated tub/drum 200 through the water supply pipe 610.

The present disclosure is not limited to any specific heating mechanism or any specific configuration of the heating device. The heating device may be implemented in any suitable design, configuration, and material known in the art. The heating device 710 may heat the water by virtue of conduction, convection and/or radiation. The heating device 710 may comprise one or more heating elements made of metal, ceramic, composite material, and/or a combination thereof.

The heating device 710 may be coupled to a temperature control system configured to control the output of the heating device 710 and thereby maintain the water temperature at a certain level during a laundry operation. The predetermined temperature level may be set by a built-in laundry program and/or by a user input through a user control interface on the washing machine. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the temperature may include a temperature controller and a thermocouple, which are known in the art.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the hollow shaft 410 is coupled to the integrated tub/drum 200 such that a passage or opening in the hollow shaft 410 communicates with the interior of the integrated tub/drum 200. Particularly, in the illustrated embodiment, the hollow shaft 410 is coupled to the relatively large end of the integrated tub/drum 200.

The exemplary fixed shaft 415 is in and/or coupled to the passage or opening of the hollow rotary shaft 410 and remain fixed. The fixed shaft 415 supports the water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620. Thus, while the hollow rotary shaft 410 rotates, the water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620 in the fixed shaft 415 do not rotate.

One end portion of the fixed shaft 415 extends outside the hollow rotary shaft 410 (e.g., away from the tub/drum 200), and the shaft fixture 545 (e.g., a bracket) is used to connect the fixed shaft 415 to the supporting frame 500. That is, the shaft fixture 545 is coupled to the supporting frame 500 so that the fixed shaft 415 does not rotate with the hollow rotary shaft 410.

The rotary bearing 418 is between the hollow rotary shaft 410 and the fixed shaft 415, allowing relative movement, e.g., sliding or rotation, between the hollow rotary shaft 410 and the fixed shaft 415. That is, by using the rotary bearing 418, the hollow rotary shaft 410 may rotate while the fixed shaft 415 remains stationary. For instance, the rotary bearing 418 may comprise a needle roller bearing.

The water seal 218 is between the hollow rotary shaft 410 and the fixed shaft 415. The water seal 218 can prevent water from leaking from the integrated tub/drum 200 to the rotary bearing 418 through the passage or opening in hollow rotary shaft 410.

The supporting bearing 508 is between the hollow rotary shaft 410 and the supporting frame 500. That is, the supporting bearing 508 in conjunction with the supporting frame 500 can support the hollow rotary shaft 410 so that the hollow rotary shaft 410 can rotate.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the drive shaft 420 is coupled to the other end panel or surface (e.g., the relatively small end panel) of the integrated tub/drum 200, opposite to the end panel or surface coupled to the hollow rotary shaft 410. That is, the integrated tub/drum 200 rotates while being supported by the drive shaft 420 and the hollow rotary shaft 410.

Like the hollow rotary shaft 410, the drive shaft 420 is also supported by the supporting frame 500. The drive shaft 420 may also be supported at the intersection of the supporting frame 500.

The drive bearing 509 is between the drive shaft 420 and the supporting frame 500. That is, the drive bearing 509 assists the supporting frame 500 to support the drive shaft 420 and facilitates the drive shaft 420 to rotate.

The drive motor 300 rotates the drive shaft 420, and the integrated tub/drum 200.

In one or more embodiments of the present disclosure, a controller (not shown) may be used to control the start and/or stop position of the integrated tub/drum 200, so that the opening 209 of the integrated tub/drum 200 is positioned at or near the top uppermost rotatory position when the laundry is put into or taken out of the integrated tub/drum 200. That is, the drive motor 300 may move the opening 209 of the integrated tub/drum 200 to a position where a user can conveniently put the laundry into the integrated tub/drum 200 or takes the laundry out of the integrated tub/drum 200.

According to the aforementioned configuration, the washing machine 101 according to the one or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure include an integrated tub/drum 200, thereby suppressing the formation and/or generation of scale, mold, mildew, and/or other contaminants on an inner surface of the tub, and allowing the integrated tub/drum 200 to be easily cleaned.

According the present disclosure, the water supplied to the integrated tub/drum 200 can be heated by an in-situ heating device.

According to one or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, the washing machine 101 may supply heated water into the integrated tub/drum 200 and discharge the water from the integrated tub/drum 200.

According to one or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, the drive shaft 420 and the hollow rotary shaft 410 rotate together while supporting the two opposite end panels or sides of the integrated tub/drum 200. In this way, cantilevered beam deflection caused by using a single rotating shaft is avoided, and thereby vibration and noise can be effectively reduced.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary washing machine 102 according to one or more other exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure.

Compared to FIG. 2, the washing machine 102 in FIG. 4 additionally includes a water drain pump 880, and a circulation pipe 680.

The water drain pump 880 is coupled to one end of the water drain pipe 620, outside the integrated tub/drum 200. The water drain pump 880 can pump the water out of the integrated tub/drum 200 through the water drain pipe 620.

Through the circulation pipe 680, the water drain pump 880 is coupled to the water supply pipe 610. Near the junction with the circulation pipe 680, the water supply pipe 610 is coupled with and/or heated by the heating device 710 in the illustrated example.

Specifically, through the circulation pipe 680 in conjunction with the water supply pipe 610 coupled thereto, water discharged to the outside of the integrated tub/drum 200 through the water drain pipe can be circulated back into the integrated tub/drum 200 through the water circulation pipe 680 and the water supply pipe 610. That is, the water may be circulated in a closed loop including the water supply pipe 610, the water drain pipe 620, and the circulation pipe 680.

The heating device 710 is used to raise a temperature of the water supplied to the integrated tub/drum 200 through the water supply pipe 610. Particularly, in the exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure shown in FIG. 4, the heating device 710 may heat water circulated in the closed loop including the water supply pipe 610, the water drain pipe 620, and the circulation pipe 680. Accordingly, even a heating device 710 with relatively low heating performance may be able to effectively heat the water because the water can remain above room-temperature due to the circulation. Therefore, performance requirement for the heating device 710 can be reduced, leading to a reduced size of the heating device 710 and the consequential reduction in product dimensions as well as manufacturing cost.

In some embodiments, a filter (not illustrated) can be used in the circulation pipe 680 to remove foreign objects or substances greater than a particular size that are contained in the water.

Accordingly, the washing machine 102 according to exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure may more effectively raise the temperature of the washing water, miniaturize the washing machine, and reduce manufacturing costs.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary washing machine according to one or more further exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, the washing machine 103 includes a heating device 720 installed inside the integrated tub/drum 200. The electric power cable 725 connected to the heating device 720 is also partially inside the integrated tub/drum 200.

Thus, the heating device 720 installed inside the integrated tub/drum 200 can directly heat the water contained inside in the integrated tub/drum 200.

As shown in FIG. 5, the electric power cable 725 is wired through the passage and opening in the hollow shaft 410. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that one or more water pipes, e.g., the water supply pipe 610 and/or the water drain pipe 620, can also be routed through the hollow rotary shaft 410.

In embodiments in which the integrated tub/drum 200 has a truncated conical shape as shown in FIG. 5, the heating device 720 may be near or on the relatively large end panel or surface of the integrated tub/drum 200. Alternatively, the heating device 720 may be near or on the relatively small end panel or side of the integrated tub/drum 200.

The heating device 720 may be located in any suitable distance from the rotation center of the integrated tub/drum 200.

The heating device 720 may remain stationary e.g., along with the water supply pipe and the water drain pipe, while the integrated tub/drum 200 rotates during a laundry washing operation.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view an exemplary hollow shaft 410 that can be used in the washing machine 103 as shown in FIG. 5.

During a laundry washing operation, because water is supplied to and/or discharged from the integrated tub/drum 200 while the opening 209 of the integrated tub/drum 200 is sealed by the drum cover unit 290, the air pressure inside the integrated tub/drum 200 may differ from atmospheric pressure. In some embodiments, the air pressure inside the integrated tub/drum 200 can be adjusted, e.g., by using an air pump in conjunction with one or more air pipes connected to the interior of the integrated tub/drum 200. As shown in FIG. 6, an air pipe 670 is inside the fixed shaft 415 together with the water supply pipe 610 and the water drain pipe 620, and connected to the integrated tub/drum 200. Through the air pipe 670, air can be discharged from or supplied to the integrated tub/drum 200 to maintain approximately a stable pressure, (e.g., the atmospheric pressure) in the integrated tub/drum 200 during a laundry washing operation.

Similarly, the air pipe 670 may also be used the aforementioned first (shown in FIG. 1) and second (shown in FIG. 4) exemplary embodiments.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that various embodiments of the present disclosure have been described herein for purposes of illustration, and that various modifications may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present disclosure. Accordingly, the various embodiments disclosed herein are not intended to be limiting, with the true scope and spirit being indicated by the following claims.