Title:
Demand-based fluid distribution system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved manually-activated fluid dispensing system is provided: in the preferred embodiment, The present invention is used in conjunction with a manual massage procedure where its utility lies in its functional ability to deliver a controllable volume of massage oil or lotion on demand. The present fluid dispensing system delivers the fluid directly into the hand of the practitioner to facilitate immediate subsequent application to the client. By providing multiple ports spaced conveniently around the periphery of the massage table, physical contact between the practitioner and client need never be interrupted.



Inventors:
Hammond, Rhonda (Yucaipa, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/880185
Publication Date:
12/29/2005
Filing Date:
06/29/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D34/04; A47K5/12; B65D83/00; (IPC1-7): B65D83/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NICOLAS, FREDERICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARY R. ILMANEN (RIVERSIDE, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A demand-based fluid dispensing system comprising a fluid reservoir, pressurizing means in communication with said fluid reservoir, one or more spring-loaded dispensing ports, tubing arranged so as to allow fluid flow from said fluid reservoir to said spring-loaded dispensing ports.

2. A demand-based fluid dispensing system comprising a fluid reservoir, pressurizing means in communication with said fluid reservoir, one or more spring-loaded dispensing ports, tubing arranged so as to allow fluid flow from said fluid reservoir to said spring-loaded dispensing ports, and additional components selected from the group containing pressure-regulating means, an expansion tank, flow regulating means, and fluid heating means, wherein said pressure-regulating means, said expansion tank, and said flow regulating means are installed serially with said tubing at a point or points between said fluid reservoir and said spring-loaded dispensing ports, and wherein said fluid heating means is located in the lower portion of said fluid reservoir.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to fluid dispensing systems. In particular, the present invention relates to manually-activated fluid dispensing systems. In the following description, we will refer in major part to the preferred embodiment: a massage oil dispensing application wherein the practitioner uses just one hand to both signal demand and receive the product. However, it should be noted that the present invention may be incorporated in other types of equipment where it is desirable to dispense a fluid directly to an operator's hand upon said operator's demand input.

The present fluid dispensing system may be used in conjunction with a manual massage procedure where its function is to deliver a controllable volume of fluid, typically oil or lotion, on demand. The present fluid dispensing system delivers the fluid directly into the hand of the practitioner to facilitate immediate subsequent application to the target of the massage procedure, which is typically a human being, hereafter referred to as “client”.

A typical manual massage procedure involves manipulation of the client's anatomy by the practitioner. During some types of manipulations, it is desirable to apply a quantity of massage oil or lotion to the skin so as to allow the practitioner's hands to glide over the skin with reduced friction.

Prior art reservoir/applicators for massage oil consist of bowls, bottles, plastic squeeze bottles, bottles equipped with push-down pump cap dispensers or spray heads, and other such common containers. See, e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 5,960,998 to Brown, U.S. Pat. No. 6,010,264 to Scuderi et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 6,213,129 B1 to Muldoon, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,941,426 to Nagle et al.

Disadvantages of the prior art reservoir/applicators are manifold: some require two hands to operate, they may be unstable and tip over easily, and they may have been left out of reach of the practitioner. U.S. Pat. No. 5,169,251 to Davis overcomes these limitations by teaching a hand-worn dispenser, essentially a glove that contains a bladder filled with fluid and a system of conduits. One disadvantage of the Davis patent is that human contact with the client is lost by interposing a glove. Another is that the bladder is necessarily relatively small, and therefore holds a limited amount of fluid.

A hallmark of the professional practitioner is that he or she always maintains physical contact with the client. If the reservoir/applicator has been left out of reach, the all-important continuous physical contact must be lost in order to retrieve the massage oil container.

The present invention works in harmony with the continuous physical contact paradigm by providing multiple dispensing ports for the oil, conveniently placed around the periphery of the massage table. The spacing of the multiple ports is such that one is always within easy reach of the practitioner while he or she moves around the table, as is necessary to access various anatomical areas of the client.

The present invention also promotes continuous physical contact by requiring only one hand to both signal demand to the system and to receive the massage oil. The free hand may therefore remain in contact with the client.

A protective barrier is desirable to prevent oil/lotion drips or spills from soiling the floor covering. The present invention employs such a barrier.

The massage practitioner's goal is to obtain and apply the oil quickly, without causing distraction of the client.

The prior art discloses inventions that are intended to assist in the above goal. Most, if not all, of those designs involve oil dispensing means in conjunction with mechanical massagers. See, e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,984,568 to Persaud, U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,841 to Groenwold et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,131,384 to Obagi. The typical operation is such that the mechanical massaging device dribbles or pumps oil through the massaging head. The disadvantages of those systems are many: First, of course, there is the issue of cost associated with their complex manufacture. Next, they are appropriate only with a mechanical massaging device, as opposed to a human practitioner's human touch.

In every case of mechanical massage device patents cited above, the prior art inventions are complex, and require expensive manufacturing tooling and processes. Most objectionable is that patents cited require a non-human interface with the client. None of the patents cited are readily adaptable for use in a manual massage environment.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, one object of the present invention is to provide an improved demand-based fluid dispensing system that does not require the use of mechanical massage devices.

Another object of this invention is to provide a manually initiated flow of fluid to the same hand that signals demand for such fluid.

A further object of this invention is to provide a controlled flow of fluid to the operator's hand.

A still further object of this invention is to provide a predetermined quantity of fluid to the operator's hand.

A still further object of this invention is to provide multiple dispensing ports, spaced so as to be within easy reach of the operator.

A still further object of this invention is to provide a temperature-regulated fluid to the operator's hand.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a protective barrier surface between the massage environment and the floor surface.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent hereinafter.

The present invention is a fluid distribution system comprising a fluid reservoir, pressurizing means, tubing to carry the fluid to the dispensing ports, dispensing ports with integral spring-loaded valve assemblies, and a protective barrier, plus optional features comprising a pressure/flow regulating means, fluid heating means, and expansion tank.

These and other aspects and advantages of the present invention are set forth in the following detailed description and claims, particularly when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like parts bear like reference numerals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of the most rudimentary embodiment of the present Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System as used with a massage application, illustrating the minimum necessary components of the system.

FIG. 2 is a view of a distribution port, and a cross-section thereof showing internal parts.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of the preferred embodiment of the present Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System as used with a massage application, illustrating the preferred components of the system.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the protective barrier component of present Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System for use with a massage application.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference Numerals

10 Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System

20 Fluid Reservoir

25 Fluid Reservoir Lid

30 Manual Pump

40 Dispensing Port

41 Mounting Ring

42 T-Body

43 Valve Body

44 Actuating Piston

45 Dispensing Orifice

46 Spring

50 Tubing

55 End Cap

60 Pressure Regulator

70 Protective Barrier

71 Cutout

72 Hinging Structure

80 Electrical Pump

90 Expansion Tank

100 Heater

110 Restricting Valve

Referring now to the drawings, a Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System as used with a massage application, shown generally as 10 includes a Fluid Reservoir 20, topped with a screw-on Fluid Reservoir Lid 25 of common design. The fluid of interest is placed within Fluid Reservoir 20, and sealed with Fluid Reservoir Lid 25.

FIG. 1 illustrates the most rudimentary embodiment of the present invention. Manual Pump 30 is a vertical-stroke piston pump of common design, mounted so as to extend through Fluid Reservoir Lid 25 into Fluid Reservoir 20, as is commonly known and taught as a part of prior art insect spraying systems. The fluid of interest is placed under positive pressure by stroking Manual Pump 30. Fluid Reservoir 20 is placed in fluid communication with one or more Dispensing Ports 40 by Tubing 50. Pressure Regulator 60 is inserted between Fluid Reservoir 20 and the first of the Dispensing Ports 40. End Cap 55 terminates Tubing 50.

Looking now to FIG. 2, it is shown that Dispensing Ports 40 consist of a hollow T-Body 42 with Mounting Ring 41 attached opposite Valve Body 43. Actuating Piston 44 is held in the sealed position By Spring 46. When Actuating Piston 44 is pressed, Valve Body 43 is opened to the pressurized fluid present in T-Body 42. This allows the fluid to flow through Dispensing Orifice 45 and into the hand of the operator.

In operation, the desired oil or lotion is placed within the Fluid Reservoir 20. Manual Pump 30 is stroked sufficient to build pressure within said Fluid Reservoir 20. Pressure Regulator 60 is adjusted such that the desired velocity of oil flow is provided when Dispensing Port 40 is activated.

FIG. 3 shows the preferred embodiment of a Demand-Based Fluid Dispensing System as used with a massage application, shown generally as 10. The preferred embodiment is a closed loop system that circulates the fluid continuously. The fluid is drawn from Fluid Reservoir 20 by Electrical Pump 80, which feeds oil to Expansion Tank 90, Pressure Regulator 60, and Dispensing Ports 40. After passing the last Dispensing Port 40, the fluid encounters Restricting Valve 110. Restricting Valve 110 allows the operator to adjust the circulatory flow of the fluid through the system. After passing through Restricting Valve 110, the fluid is routed back to Fluid Reservoir 20. Located within Fluid Reservoir 20 and situated within the fluid therein is Heater 100. Heater 100 is an electrical immersion heater of common design, thermostatically controlled to maintain an adjustable set temperature. All components except Heater 100 are connected serially by means of Tubing 50.

In operation, the desired oil or lotion is placed within the Fluid Reservoir 20. Electrical Pump 80 is energized and draws fluid from Fluid Reservoir 20, pressurizing the system. Electrical Pump 80 contains an integral pressure-operated switch that shuts off the pump when a predetermined pressure has been reached, and turns it on again when the pressure falls to a predetermined level. Expansion Tank 90 prevents excessive cycling of Electrical Pump 80. Pressure Regulator 60 is adjusted such that the desired velocity of oil flow is provided when Dispensing Port 40 is activated. Restricting Valve 110 is adjusted such that the heated fluid is circulated continuously through the system.

FIG. 4 illustrates Protective Barrier 70, which, when in use, is located beneath the massage environment so as to prevent drips or spills from contacting the floor surface. Protective Barrier 70 is constructed of a material impervious to oil and water. Cutouts 71 are provided such that the legs of the massage table may rest on the floor surface. For portability, Protective Barrier 70 may be constructed so as to fold one or more times. In the preferred embodiment, Protective Barrier 70 is constructed of three sections, foldably connected by a continuous Hinging Structure 72.

Accordingly, while the present invention has been described herein in detail in relation to its preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that this disclosure is only illustrative and exemplary of the present invention and is made merely for purposes of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the invention. The foregoing disclosure is not intended to limit, nor is it to be construed to as limiting, the present invention or otherwise to exclude any such other embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements, the present invention being limited only by the claims appended hereto and the equivalents thereof.





 
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