Title:
Food support element for removable insertion into a refrigeration compartment having differential temperature zones
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A food support element, such as a shelf, drawer or the like, for removable insertion into a refrigeration compartment of a refrigerator having differential temperature zones, the temperature in the zone overlying the support element being set and controlled by a known control device provided with setting and control means associated with the element. The support element comprises a body having two spaced-apart opposing flat elements connected together by perimetral securing means, an interspace being present between the surfaces to receive the setting and control means.



Inventors:
Maritan, Marco (Viggiu', IT)
Gastaldello, Fabio (Malnate, IT)
Dentella, Daniela (Cinisello Balsamo, IT)
Application Number:
10/447590
Publication Date:
12/04/2003
Filing Date:
05/29/2003
Assignee:
MARITAN MARCO
GASTALDELLO FABIO
DENTELLA DANIELA
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D25/02; F25D29/00; (IPC1-7): A47F5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAVCHAVADZE, COLLEEN MARGARET
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION - MD 3601 (BENTON HARBOR, MI, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A food support element, for removable insertion into a refrigeration compartment of a refrigerator having differential temperature zones, the temperature in the zone overlying the support element being set and controlled by a control device provided with setting and control means associated with the element, wherein the support element comprises two elements positioned superposed, at least the upperly positioned element having a flat free surface, the elements being maintained spaced apart by spacer means to define therebetween an interspace for containing at least part of the known control device for the refrigerator.

2. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein the superposed elements are flat elements.

3. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein the spacer means are positioned between the superposed elements in correspondence with at least two of their opposing edges.

4. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein the spacer means are spacers each presenting a body provided with an intermediate portion and opposing end parts on which the superposed elements rest.

5. A support element as claimed in claim 4, wherein the opposing ends of each spacer are flat.

6. A support element as claimed in claim 4, wherein each spacer is an extruded body.

7. A support element as claimed in claim 4, wherein in the intermediate portion of each spacer there is provided a recess for receiving electrical connectors of the refrigerator control device.

8. A support element as claimed in claim 7, wherein the recess in the intermediate portion of each spacer is provided in a sidepiece of the portion which faces outwards from the interspace within the support element.

9. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein a central spacer is positioned between the superposed elements.

10. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein the superposed elements are secured to each other by at least one perimetral frame piece positioned along the lateral edge of the support element.

11. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein the spacer means are bent lateral edges of the superposed elements, these edges facing each other to define the interspace between the fitted-together superposed elements.

12. A support element as claimed in claim 11, wherein the bent lateral edges are fitted together by a form fit.

13. A support element as claimed in claim 12, wherein the bent edges are provided with a perimetral portion facilitating the fixing of the moulded frame.

14. A support element as claimed in claim 11, wherein the bent lateral edges of the superposed elements are bonded together.

15. A support element as claimed in claim 1, wherein a controlled atmosphere is present in the interspace.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a food support element, such as a shelf, drawer or the like, for removable insertion into a refrigeration compartment.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] From an earlier filing in the name of the same applicant, a refrigerator is known provided with a compartment having internal zones at different controlled temperatures. In such a refrigerator, to support foods a removable element is used, such as a shelf, a drawer or the like, which enables the zones to be created within the refrigerator compartment. Such an element, which forms the subject of another earlier filing in the name of the same applicant, comprises a body to be positioned on supports present on opposing walls of the refrigeration compartment, setting means being provided, associated with the body of the element, which enable the internal temperature of the compartment to be set and the set temperature information to be transferred to control means for the refrigeration circuit of the refrigerator, the means being provided within a structure or cabinet in which the compartment is formed.

[0005] The setting means comprise an electrical circuit arranged to generate a signal which can be modified on the basis of the set temperature, or of a set temperature range, by modifying at least one electrical characteristic of that circuit, the signal being remotely sensed by the control means (without there being any physical connection between these latter and the setting means). The electrical circuit is preferably a resonant circuit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] An object of the present invention is to offer a food support element provided with the aforesaid setting means which is of simple construction and of low cost.

[0007] A further object is to offer a food support element of the stated type which is reliable in use.

[0008] These and further objects which will be apparent to the expert of the art are attained by an element in accordance with the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The present invention will be more apparent from the accompanying drawing, which is provided by way of non-limiting example and in which:

[0010] FIG. 1 is a partially exploded perspective view of a food support element according to the invention;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a section on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

[0012] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the element of FIG. 1 shown partly assembled;

[0013] FIG. 4 is a section similar to that of FIG. 2 showing a different embodiment of the element of FIG. 1;

[0014] FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the part indicated by A in FIG. 4;

[0015] FIG. 6 shows a further different embodiment of the element of FIG. 1;

[0016] FIG. 7 shows a further different embodiment of a food support element according to the invention; and

[0017] FIG. 8 is a section on the line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] With reference to the figures, and in particular to FIGS. 1-3, these show a food support element removably insertable into a refrigeration compartment and represented in the form of a shelf 1. This shelf comprises two flat elements 3 and 4, positioned parallel to and spaced apart from each other to form an interspace 5 housing a device (not shown) enabling the temperature to be set for that part of the compartment overlying the shelf 1 and lying between this latter and the adjacent overlying flat surface (which can be defined by another shelf, by the base of a drawer, or by the top of the refrigeration compartment). Such a device forms the subject of another filing in the name of the same applicant and has already been described in its essential parts in the introduction to the present document, and will therefore not be further described.

[0019] In the figures the flat element 3 overlies the flat element 4. The upper surface of this element acts as the support surface for foods placed in the refrigeration compartment for their preservation. To maintain the distance between the elements 3 and 4, along at least two of their opposing edges 3A and 4A there is present at least one spacer 7 having a body provided with an intermediate portion 8 which lies spatially perpendicular to the flat elements and to which there are connected end arms 10 lying parallel to each other and to the elements 3, 4. These latter rest on the arms and are thus supported on each spacer.

[0020] Advantageously each spacer 7 comprises a sidepiece 1 and a sidepiece 12, the first facing the interspace 5 and the second facing outwards from this latter and from the shelf 1. In the sidepiece 12 there is provided a recess 13 to house the electrical connectors 14 connected to the device in the interior of the shelf, of which a component 15 (an antenna) is shown in FIG. 3, the component also being housed in the recess 13.

[0021] Each spacer 7 is preferably obtained by extrusion or by co-injection moulding and possibly bent over for their positioning between the elements 3 and 4 (in order to form the support arms 10 for these latter). The elements 3, 4 themselves are preferably formed in one of the following materials: glass, polycarbonate or the material known by the commercial name of Perspex (formed of methyl-methacrylate).

[0022] Finally the shelf 1 comprises at least one lateral frame 20 (or a plurality of frames) which covers it along its entire perimeter. This frame is of plastic material, preferably obtained by co-injection moulding around the elements 3 and 4 by known methods.

[0023] The shelf 1 is hence obtained by arranging the elements 3 and 4 on the opposing sides of the spacers 7 and enclosing the entire assembly by the frame or frames 20. The front frame, or that frame part located to the front of the opening in the refrigeration compartment, presents an interface 27 on which setting means 28 are present for the device located inside the interspace 5; in the example, these means 28 are a slider 29 slidable along the interface 27 which presents a plurality of windows 30, possibly retro-illuminated, on which symbols or other elements are located to identify a particular temperature set in the compartment portion overlying the shelf 1 when the slider 29 lies above a particular window 30.

[0024] Each frame or frame portion 20 lying along each side of the elements 3 and 4 presents a shape which in cross-section resembles a C. This portion hence presents an intermediate part 32, vertical in the figures, which connects together two end arms 33 and 34 each having, facing the other arm, a wall 35 in which a step 36 is provided. On this latter there rests the edge 3A or 4A of the relative element 3 or 4 also provided with a step 37 on which the corresponding end arm 33 and 34 lies.

[0025] The frame hence embraces the elements 3 and 4 to close each spacer 7.

[0026] A controlled atmosphere environment can be created within the interspace 5 to ensure greater thermal insulation. To enable an inert gas to be fed into the interspace 5, a valving member 40 is located in the spacer 7 (see FIGS. 4 and 5) and is provided with through conduits 41 so that when the shelf has been completed, tubes 42 can enter the interspace to feed inert gas (for example nitrogen) into the interspace and extract the air present therein. The member 40 is then sealed by cutting the tubes and closing them by hot deformation.

[0027] Moreover to ensure that the flat elements 3 and 4 do not collapse one onto the other when securing the frame 20 or when vacuum is created, one or more spacers 50 can be positioned in the interspace 5.

[0028] Finally, according to another variant of the invention, the flat elements 3 and 4 can be made concave, each with a bent lateral edge 60 which faces and counteracts the bent edge 60 of the other element. The elements 3 and 4 are fitted together at the free surfaces 61 or 62 of these edges, by means respectively of an annular recess 63 and an annular rib 64 which provide a form fit between the edges (FIG. 8). The elements 3, 4 are then joined together in any known manner (gluing, ultrasonic bonding, etc.). Obtaining the shelf in this manner creates the interspace 5 therein for the aforesaid purposes.

[0029] The edges 60 are also provided with a profiled perimetral portion 66 facilitating the fixing of the moulded frame 20, which performs an aesthetic function and provides sealing for the flat elements 3 and 4.