Title:
Home appliance assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A home appliance assembly employs an alignment device provided to the respective flanges of a front panel and side cabinet of the outer case of a home appliance, such as a dryer, to facilitate assembly and prevent a distortion of the front panel that may occur when the completed assembly is transported. The home appliance assembly includes at least one first flange formed on a front panel of an outer case, at least one second flange formed on a side cabinet of the outer case to oppose the first flange, and an alignment device for aligning the front panel with respect to the side cabinet during assembly of the outer case.



Inventors:
Hwang, Sung Gi (Changwon-si, KR)
Han, Il Tak (Suwon, KR)
Ahn, Jeung Gie (Seoul, KR)
Application Number:
10/892106
Publication Date:
06/02/2005
Filing Date:
07/16/2004
Assignee:
HWANG SUNG G.
HAN IL T.
AHN JEUNG G.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06F58/04; (IPC1-7): A47B47/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100039006Shielded Theft-Resistant Display CaseFebruary, 2010Lawrence et al.
20050104483Snap together connectable elementsMay, 2005Saravis
20090322194SAFETY CABINET WITH DRAWERDecember, 2009Backhaus et al.
20080136297Hinge with buffer functionJune, 2008Huang
20090240511APPARATUS FOR SECURELY STORING DELIVERED GOODS, AN INTEGRATED CONTROLLER FOR USE WITH THE APPARATUS AND A METHOD OF SECURELY SUPPLYING GOODS TO A CUSTOMERSeptember, 2009Darrouzet
20100052491SHELF, IN PARTICULAR FOR REFRIGERATED INSTALLATIONSMarch, 2010Vardon
20100096961Mobile Operating Table and Storage DeviceApril, 2010Jolley et al.
20060192468Fold-down kitchenetteAugust, 2006Gardner
20060076859Wardrobe accessories cabinetApril, 2006Slappey
20070137530Collapsible camping kitchen tableJune, 2007Cohen
20090021124CABINET WITH MULTI-COMPARTMENT CABINET BODYJanuary, 2009Klassen et al.



Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dentons US LLP (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A home appliance assembly comprising: at least one first flange formed on a front panel of an outer case; at least one second flange formed on a side cabinet of the outer case to oppose said at least one first flange; and alignment means for aligning the front panel with respect to the side cabinet during assembly of the outer case.

2. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the front panel has at least two sides, said first flange being formed on each side of the front panel.

3. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein said at least one first flange is bent into a channel shape having a rearward-facing mating surface for meeting said at least one second flange.

4. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the side cabinet has at least two forward edges, said second flange being formed on each forward edge of the side cabinet by bending the forward edge approximately at a right angle to meet said at least one first flange.

5. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, said alignment means comprising: at least one holder protruding from one of said first and second flanges, wherein the other flange of said first and second flanges has a recess corresponding to said at least one holder such that said at least one holder may be inserted into the recess.

6. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is provided to said at least one first flange and wherein the recess is formed in said at least one second flange.

7. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is provided to said at least one second flange and wherein the recess is formed in said at least one first flange.

8. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is tapered toward its distal end.

9. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is integrally formed with said one of said first and second flanges by a foaming process.

10. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is coupled to said one of said first and second flanges using a screw.

11. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is welded to said one of said first and second flanges.

12. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein the recess formed in said one of said first and second flanges is open along an edge of said one of said first and second flanges.

13. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein said at least one holder is provided at a plurality of sites on said one of said first and second flanges, the plurality of sites establishing a predetermined interval.

14. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein said one of said first and second flanges has an upper and lower end, said at least one holder being provided at at least one site on each of upper and lower ends of said one of said first and second flanges.

15. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein said alignment means comprises at least one protrusion having a predetermined height to maintain a uniform gap between said at least one first flange and said at least one second flange.

16. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein the alignment means further comprises at least one protrusion having a predetermined height to maintain a uniform gap between said at least one first flange and said at least one second flange.

17. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one protrusion and said at least one holder are provided to said at least one first flange and wherein the recess is formed in said at least one second flange.

18. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one protrusion and said at least one holder are provided to said at least one second flange and wherein the recess is formed in said at least one first flange.

19. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one protrusion and said at least one holder are each provided at a plurality of sites on said one of said first and second flanges, the plurality of sites establishing a predetermined interval.

20. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said one of said first and second flanges has an upper and lower end, said at least one protrusion and said at least one holder each being provided at at least one site on each of upper and lower ends of said one of said first and second flanges.

21. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one protrusion and said at least one holder are integrally formed as one body by a foaming process.

22. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one protrusion, said at least one holder, and said one of said first and second flanges are integrally formed as one body by a foaming process.

23. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one holder is coupled to said at least one protrusion using a screw.

24. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one holder is coupled to said at least one protrusion and said one of said first and second flanges using a screw.

25. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein said at least one holder is welded to said at least one protrusion.

26. The home appliance assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the side cabinet is part of an outer case of a dryer.

27. A home appliance assembly comprising: a front panel, provided to a front side of an outer case, having a pair of first flanges respectively formed at a rearward edge of both sides of the front panel; a side cabinet, provided on both lateral sides of the outer case, having a pair of second flanges respectively formed on forward edges of the side cabinet to oppose the first flanges; at least one protrusion having a predetermined height to maintain a uniform gap between the first flanges and the second flanges; and a holder, protruding from said at least one protrusion, for aligning the front panel with respect to the side cabinet during assembly, wherein said at least one protrusion is provided to one of said pair of first flanges and said pair of second flanges and a recess is formed in the other pair of flanges to receive said holder.

28. A dryer comprising: a first flange formed on a front panel of an outer case; a second flange formed on a side cabinet of the outer case, to oppose said first flange upon assembly of the outer case; and a holder protruding from one of said first and second flanges, the other flange of said first and second flanges having a recess corresponding to said holder, wherein, when said holder is inserted into the recess, the front panel is aligned with respect to the side cabinet during the assembly of the outer case.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of Korean Application No. P2003-085614, filed on Nov. 28, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to home appliances, and more particularly, to a home appliance assembly, which employs an alignment means provided to the respective flanges of a front panel and side cabinet, to facilitate the assembly of a home appliance such as a dryer.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Generally speaking, a home appliance comprises a plurality of outer panels forming an outer case for housing the inner workings of the appliance, and the outer panels are provided in pieces to facilitate manufacturing and repair stages. For logistical and aesthetic reasons, the outer panels are typically provided as large panels of sheet metal to be structurally joined at the edges. In joining these panels to form the outer case of a home appliance, structural strength and integrity and ease of assembly should be considered.

As an exemplary home appliance assembly, FIG. 1 illustrates a contemporary dryer in which an outer case includes a front panel 20 to be assembled to a side cabinet 30 of the dryer. Corresponding pairs of first and second flanges 21 and 31 are formed on the rearward edges of the lateral sides of the front panel 20 and on the forward edges of the side cabinet 30, respectively, and are coupled together securely by a plurality of coupling means, such as screw locks, so that the front panel 20 is fixed to the side cabinet 30. In manufacturing the front panel 20 and the side cabinet 30, however, it is virtually impossible to form the first and second flanges 21 and 31 with mating surfaces that are perfectly flat, even, and consistent, such that random and inconsistent gaps between the first and second flanges 21 and 31 are inevitably present in the completed assembly of the outer case of a home appliance.

Therefore, in a home appliance assembly of a related art, the front panel 20 assembled to the side cabinet 30 tends to shake or rattle during operation of the home appliance and tends to move or shift during its transport. Moreover, the home appliance assembly requires numerous screw locks to assemble the front panel 20 and side cabinet 30, thereby hindering productivity, and assembly necessitates a production worker to hold in place the front panel with respect to the side cabinet, to allow for installation of the screw locks. Furthermore, when the completed assembly is carried manually such that the cabinet sides are compressed, the front channel tends to distort or buckle, which may cause permanent damage.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a home appliance assembly that substantially obviates one or more of the problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

An object of the present invention is to provide a home appliance assembly having an outer case, which facilitates the assembly of the outer case.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a home appliance assembly, which prevents a distortion of a front panel of the outer case that may occur when the completed assembly is transported.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following or may be learned from a practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the subject matter particularly pointed out in the specification and claims hereof as well as in the appended drawings.

To achieve these objects and other advantages in accordance with the present invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, a home appliance assembly includes at least one first flange formed on a front panel of an outer case, at least one second flange formed on a side cabinet of the outer case to oppose the first flange, and alignment means for aligning the front panel with respect to the side cabinet during assembly of the outer case.

The alignment means includes at least one holder protruding from one of the first and second flanges, wherein the other flange has a recess corresponding to the holder such that the holder may be inserted into the recess. Preferably, the alignment means further includes at least one protrusion having a predetermined height to maintain a uniform gap between the flanges.

In another aspect of the present invention, a home appliance assembly includes a front panel, provided to a front side of an outer case, having a pair of first flanges respectively formed at a rearward edge of both sides of the front panel, a side cabinet, provided on both lateral sides of the outer case, having a pair of second flanges respectively formed on forward edges of the side cabinet to oppose the first flanges, at least one protrusion having a predetermined height to maintain a uniform gap between the first flanges and the second flanges, and a holder, protruding from said at least one protrusion, for aligning the front panel with respect to the side cabinet during assembly, wherein said at least one protrusion is provided to one of said pair of first flanges and said pair of second flanges and a recess is formed in the other pair of flanges to receive said holder.

In a further aspect of the present invention, a dryer including a first flange formed on a front panel of an outer case, a second flange formed on a side cabinet of the outer case, to oppose said first flange upon assembly of the outer case, and a holder protruding from one of said first and second flanges, the other flange of said first and second flanges having a recess corresponding to said holder, wherein, when said holder is inserted into the recess, the front panel is aligned with respect to the side cabinet during the assembly of the outer case.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing explanation and the following detailed description of the present invention are exemplary and illustrative and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principle of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective breakaway diagram showing the assembly of a front panel to a side cabinet of a contemporary dryer;

FIG. 2 is a perspective breakaway diagram of a front panel and side cabinet of a home appliance assembly according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective breakaway diagram of a front panel and side cabinet of a home appliance assembly according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective breakaway diagram of a front panel and side cabinet of a home appliance assembly according to a third embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective breakaway diagram of an assembly of a holder and flange of a home appliance adopting the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Throughout the drawings, like elements are indicated using the same or similar reference designations where possible.

The present invention may be applied to any home appliance having joined cabinet panels. In the accompanying drawings, a drum-type dryer is shown for illustrative purposes only.

FIG. 2 illustrates a front panel and side cabinet of a home appliance assembly according to a first embodiment of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 2, the edge of each side of a front panel 200 of a home appliance adopting the present invention is bent into a channel shape having a first flange 210 formed at a rear surface of the channel to establish a mating surface, and a forward edge of each side of a side cabinet 300 is bent approximately at a right angle, to form a second flange 310 for meeting the corresponding first flange 210 of the front panel 200 at the mating surface. The bends in the front panel 200 reinforce its structural rigidity, and the bends in the side cabinet 300 reinforce the rigidity of the front panel 200 after assembly, i.e., after a coupling the first and second flanges 210 and 310.

The home appliance assembly is provided with alignment means for maintaining a proper alignment position of the front panel 200 with respect to the side cabinet 300, for facilitating an assembly (or coupling) of the front panel to the side cabinet, and for reinforcing the rigidity of the coupled parts after assembly. The alignment means is provided at a plurality of locations, preferably at at least one site on each side of the upper and lower ends of the first and second flanges 210 and 310, the sites of each flange being separated by a predetermined distance (or intervals). As shown in FIG. 2, the alignment means comprises at least one holder 410 protruding from the second flange 310 to allow for insertion into a recess 420 formed in the first flange 210 at a location corresponding to that of the holder 410. The holder 410 is tapered toward its distal end to facilitate insertion. In assembling the front panel 200 to the side cabinet 300, the holder 410 is inserted into the recess 420, thereby facilitating an alignment of the first and second flanges 210 and 310, whereby the relative positioning is maintained.

In the first embodiment of the present invention, the holder 410 is provided to the second flange 310, and the recess 420 in which the holder 410 is to be inserted is formed in the first flange 210. The holder 410 may be integrally formed with the second flange 310 or, subsequent to the formation of the second flange 310, may be affixed thereto, for example, by welding, using a screw coupling, or via a hook (not shown). The recess 420 may be open at the edge of the first flange 210 or may be formed as an enclosed hole through the first flange 210.

FIG. 3 illustrates a home appliance assembly according to a second embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 3, the alignment means comprises at least one holder 410′ protruding from a first flange 210′ to allow for insertion into a recess 420′ formed in a second flange 310′ at a location corresponding to that of the holder. The holder 410′ is tapered toward its distal end to facilitate insertion. In assembling the front panel 200 to the side cabinet 300, the holder 410′ is inserted into the recess 420′, thereby facilitating an alignment of the first and second flanges 210′ and 310′, whereby the relative positioning is maintained.

In the second embodiment of the present invention, the holder 410′ is provided to the first flange 210′, and the recess 420′ in which the holder 410′ is to be inserted is formed in the second flange 310′. The holder 410′ may be integrally formed with the first flange 210′ or, subsequent to the formation of the first flange 210′, may be affixed thereto, for example, by welding, using a screw coupling, or via a hook (not shown). The recess 420′ may be open at the edge of the second flange 310′ or may be formed as an enclosed hole penetrating the second flange 310′.

FIG. 4 illustrates a side cabinet and front panel of a home appliance assembly according to a third embodiment of the present invention, in which the alignment means further comprises at least one protrusion 430 having a predetermined height, provided to a forward surface of one of the first flange 210 and second flange 310, for maintaining a uniform gap between the first and second flanges 210 and 310. That is, though shown protruding from the second flange in FIG. 4, the protrusion 430 may be provided to either the first flange 210 or the second flange 310. Preferably, the protrusion 430, which may be integrally formed with the holder 410, is provided to the flange having the holders. In any event, the protrusion 430 is provided at each location of the first or second flange 210 or 310 that corresponds to a location of the holder 410. In doing so, the protrusion 430 may be integrally formed with the first or second flange 210 or 310 by a process known as “foaming”. Preferably, the foaming process integrally forms the holder 410, the protrusion 430, and the corresponding flange as one body.

The foaming process is performed to manufacture the first flange 210 of the front panel 200 or the second flange 310 of the side cabinet 300, thus forming the protrusion 430 and holder 410 on one flange, and the recess 420 is formed in the other flange. Then, in assembling the front panel 200 and side cabinet 300, the holder 410 having the tapered shape is inserted into the recess 420, thereby achieving alignment. In doing so, the flange (210 or 310) in which the recess 420 is formed makes contact with the surface of the protrusion 430 provided to the other flange (210 or 310), and the protrusion 430 maintains a uniform gap between the flanges, thereby preventing the front panel 200 from rattling during operation or being shifted during transport. Finally, the assembly of the front panel 200 and side cabinet 300, which are temporarily fitted together by the alignment means, is completed using a screw coupling or the like.

According to the present invention, the holder 410 and protrusion 430 are provided to the first or second flange 210 or 310, which are coupled together using, for example, a screw coupling.

Referring to FIG. 5, illustrating a screw coupling of the holder 410 to the second flange 310 provided with the protrusion 430, a locking hole 431 is centrally formed in the protrusion so as to penetrate the flange, and a through hole 411 is formed through the holder 410. A screw 100 is passed through the through hole 411 to be secured in the locking hole 431, thereby fixing the holder 410 to the second flange 310 at the protrusion 430. As an alternative to screw coupling, the holder 410 may be coupled to the protrusion 430 by welding or via a hook (not shown).

As described above, the assembly of a home appliance adopting the present invention is facilitated since the alignment between the front panel and the side cabinet is achieved by the holder provided to one of the flanges. Moreover, a distortion of the front panel that may occur during the transport of the completed assembly is prevented since the holder provided to one flange is inserted into the recess provided to the other flange, thereby reinforcing the rigidity of the front panel. In addition, the protrusion provided between the holder and the flange maintains a uniform gap between the flanges after assembly of front panel to the side cabinet.

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 spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations, provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.