Title:
Electric vacuum cleaner and cyclonic dust collecting apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In an inventive electric vacuum cleaner, a filter 20 through which air discharged from an air outlet port 19 is passed is provided on a rear face of a casing 18 of a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus 7, and held by a filter holder 18B. A rear face of the filter 20 is spaced from vertical ribs 32A of the filter holder 18B to define a guide passage 35 for guiding air discharged from a portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to an opening 33 through the filter 20 toward the opening 33. The guide passage 35 allows the air to pass through the portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33.



Inventors:
Matsuhashi, Hiromichi (Kasai-shi, JP)
Fujiyoshi, Toshiyuki (Himeji-shi, JP)
Tsuchida, Hideya (Kakogawa-shi, JP)
Takai, Kei (Kasai-shi, JP)
Ushio, Shozo (Kasai-shi, JP)
Application Number:
11/185732
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/21/2005
Assignee:
SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (Moriguchi-shi, JP)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/327.1
International Classes:
A47L9/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SCRUGGS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTERMAN, HATTORI, DANIELS & ADRIAN, LLP (TYSONS, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An electric vacuum cleaner comprising: a main body including an electric fan incorporated therein; and a dust collecting apparatus removable from the main body, wherein the dust collecting apparatus comprises a suction port, a cyclonic flow path for swirling air sucked from the suction port to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force, a dust collecting chamber in which the separated dust is collected, an air outlet port provided in a wall of the dust collecting chamber for discharging the air sucked from the suction port, and a filter attached to the air outlet port, the main body has a wall opposed to the wall of the dust collecting chamber and having an opening smaller than the air outlet port in opposed relation to the air outlet port for feeding the air downstream by the electric fan, the air outlet port has a region opposed to the opening and a region not opposed to the opening, and a guide passage is provided for guiding air discharged from the region of the air outlet port not opposed to the opening toward the opening.

2. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 1, wherein the dust collecting apparatus has a filter cover abutting against the wall of the main body downstream of the filter, and the guide passage is defined between the filter cover and the filter.

3. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 2, wherein the filter cover has a frame rib which intrudes into the filter in opposed relation to a peripheral edge of the air outlet port.

4. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 3, wherein the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus further includes a filter holder which holds the filter, and the filter cover is provided on the filter holder.

5. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 11 wherein a portion of the dust collecting chamber of the dust collecting apparatus not opposed to the opening is narrower than a portion of the dust collecting chamber opposed to the opening.

6. An electric vacuum cleaner comprising: a main body including an electric fan incorporated therein; and a dust collecting apparatus removable from the main body, wherein a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus and a disposable dust collecting apparatus are selectively usable as the dust collecting apparatus, the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus comprising a suction port, a cyclonic flow path for swirling air sucked from the suction port to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force, a dust collecting chamber in which the separated dust is collected, an air outlet port provided in a wall of the dust collecting chamber for discharging the air sucked from the suction port, and a filter attached to the air outlet port, the disposable dust collecting apparatus comprising a mouth cardboard and a filter bag attached to the mouth cardboard, and the main body has an accommodating portion for accommodating either of the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus and the disposable dust collecting apparatus, the accommodating portion having a fixing member for fixing the disposable dust collecting apparatus when the disposable dust collecting apparatus is accommodated in the accommodating portion.

7. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 6, wherein the accommodating portion is provided with a packing which includes an annular resiliently deformable portion which is resiliently deformable in abutment with a peripheral edge of an inlet of the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is accommodated in the accommodating portion, and an annular projection which bites an inner peripheral edge of an inlet of the disposable dust collecting apparatus when the disposable dust collecting apparatus is fixed to the fixing member.

8. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 7, wherein the annular projection has a convexly curved cross section.

9. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 7, wherein the annular resiliently deformable portion is disposed outward of the annular projection, and the annular resiliently deformable portion has a guide portion formed by outwardly extending at least a part of an outer peripheral portion thereof and having a distal portion curved away from the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus or the disposable dust collecting apparatus accommodated in the accommodating portion.

10. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 9, wherein the fixing member has a pair of engagement projections for fixing the disposable dust collecting apparatus, and an inlet pipe defining the inlet of the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is inserted between the pair of engagement projections when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is accommodated in the accommodating portion.

11. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 10, wherein the fixing member includes an engagement member formed with the pair of engagement projections and pivotally retained, and the disposable dust collecting apparatus is engaged with the pair of engagement projections by pivoting the engagement member when the disposable dust collecting apparatus is fixed to the fixing member.

12. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 10, wherein the pair of engagement projections guide opposite edges of the disposable dust collecting apparatus in a direction of insertion of the disposable dust collecting apparatus, the opposite edges being opposed to each other perpendicularly to the insertion direction.

13. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 6, further comprising: an accommodating portion cover which openably covers the accommodating portion; and a stopper which prevents the accommodating portion cover from being closed when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is not accommodated in the accommodating portion and the disposable dust collecting apparatus is not fixed to the fixing member, and permits the accommodating portion cover to be closed when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is accommodated in the accommodating portion or the disposable dust collecting apparatus is fixed to the fixing member.

14. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 13, wherein the stopper is disposed in the accommodating portion, and is displaced from an initial position by an action force from the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is accommodated in the accommodating portion and by an action force from the disposable dust collecting apparatus when the disposable dust collecting apparatus is fixed to the fixing member, and the stopper prevents the accommodating portion cover from being closed when the stopper is located at the initial position, and permits the accommodating portion cover to be closed when the stopper is displaced from the initial position by the action force from one of the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus and the disposable dust collecting apparatus.

15. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 13, wherein the stopper is attached to the accommodating portion cover so as to be brought into contact with the fixing member, if an attempt is made to close the accommodating portion cover when the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is not accommodated in the accommodating portion and the disposable dust collecting apparatus is not fixed to the fixing member, the stopper is brought into abutment against the fixing member to prevent the closing of the accommodating portion cover, if an attempt is made to close the accommodating portion cover with the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus accommodated in the accommodating portion, the stopper is displaced by an action force from the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus to permit the closing of the accommodating portion cover without the abutment of the stopper against the fixing member, and with the disposable dust collecting apparatus fixed to the fixing member, the fixing member is displaced to a fixing position to fix the disposable dust collecting apparatus, thereby permitting the closing of the accommodating portion cover without the abutment of the stopper against the fixing member.

16. An electric vacuum cleaner as set forth in claim 6, wherein the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus includes a hollow casing prepared by bonding a plurality of components to each other, the cyclonic flow path for swirling the air sucked from the suction port is provided in the casing, the components of the casing respectively have bonding ribs projecting from mating portions thereof, and the casing has a cleaning device retaining portion defined by parts of the bonding ribs for retaining a cleaning device usable for cleaning the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus.

17. A dust collecting apparatus to be removably mounted in an electric vacuum cleaner, comprising: a hollow casing having a suction port and an air outlet port; a cyclonic flow path defined in the casing for swirling air sucked from the suction port to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force; a dust collecting chamber defined in the casing for collecting the separated dust; the air outlet port being formed in a wall of the dust collecting chamber as having a great size; a filter attached to the air outlet port; and a leg provided integrally with the casing for keeping the casing in a predetermined upright state when the dust collecting apparatus is removed from the electric vacuum cleaner.

18. A dust collecting apparatus as set forth in claim 17, wherein the leg keeps the casing upright with the suction port oriented generally horizontally or upward.

19. A dust collecting apparatus as set forth in claim 17, further comprising: a filter holder for holding the filter; and a press frame which presses a peripheral portion of a pre-filter disposed upstream of the filter to hold the pre-filter between the casing and the filter holder.

20. A dust collecting apparatus as set forth in claim 19, wherein the press frame has a pair of pivot shafts for pivotally attaching the press frame, and one of the casing and the filter holder has a pair of through-holes through which the respective pivot shafts extend, and the other of the casing and the filter holder has a pair of insertion holes in which distal end portions of the respective pivot shafts extending through the through-holes are inserted.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an electric vacuum cleaner and a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus to be mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner.

2. Description of the Related Art

Electric vacuum cleaners include, for example, a main body having an electric fan, a suction member to be moved along a floor surface, and a connection hose which connects the suction member to the main body, and a disposable filter bag is mounted in the main body. When an electric vacuum cleaner of this type is driven, outside air (air on the floor surface) is sucked from the suction member by driving the electric fan provided in the main body, and taken into the main body from a suction port of the main body through the connection hose. An inlet of the disposable filter provided in the main body communicates with the suction port. When the air sucked from the suction port passes through the disposable filter, dust entrained in the air is captured by the disposable filter (see, for example, Japanese Examined Utility Model Publication No. 5-20279 (1993)).

However, the electric vacuum cleaners of this type are uneconomical and disadvantageous in terms of environmental protection, because the cleaners utilize the disposable filter. Further, the disposable filter is not replaced until a certain amount of dust is collected in the filter. Therefore, the suction force and hence the dust collecting efficiency are reduced, as the amount of the collected dust is increased.

There has recently been known an electric vacuum cleaner including a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus which is capable of swirling air sucked from a suction port to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force and capture the dust. The dust collected in the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus can be easily discarded by detaching the dust collecting apparatus from a main body and performing a predetermined operation. The electric vacuum cleaner including the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus is advantageous in that the reduction of the dust collecting efficiency is prevented by frequently discarding the dust collected in the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus (e.g., whenever the cleaner is used for a cleaning operation).

With the electric vacuum cleaner including the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus, however, it is cumbersome to detach the dust collecting apparatus and discard the collected dust whenever the cleaning operation is performed.

Hence, there is a demand for an electric vacuum cleaner with a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus, which is improved so as to prevent the reduction of the dust collecting efficiency even if dust is collected in the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus.

For more convenience, it is desirable to improve the electric vacuum cleaner with the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus so that a disposable filter can be temporarily used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, it is a first object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner and a dust collecting apparatus which are improved in dust collecting efficiency.

It is a second object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner and a dust collecting apparatus which are improved in convenience.

It is a third object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner and a dust collecting apparatus which are improved in ease of removing dust collected in the dust collecting apparatus.

An electric vacuum cleaner according to the present invention comprises a main body including an electric fan incorporated therein, and a dust collecting apparatus removable from the main body.

The dust collecting apparatus comprises a suction port, a cyclonic flow path for swirling air sucked from the suction port to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force, a dust collecting chamber in which the separated dust is collected, an air outlet port provided in a wall of the dust collecting chamber for discharging the air sucked from the suction port, and a filter attached to the air outlet port. The main body has a wall opposed to the wall of the dust collecting chamber and having an opening smaller than the air outlet port in opposed relation to the air outlet port for feeding the air downstream by the electric fan. The air outlet port has a region opposed to the opening and a region not opposed to the opening, and a guide passage is provided for guiding air discharged from the region of the air outlet port not opposed to the opening toward the opening.

The inventive electric vacuum cleaner is adapted to selectively utilize the cyclonic dust collecting apparatus and a disposable dust collecting apparatus having a mouth cardboard and a filter bag attached to the mouth cardboard. The main body has an accommodating portion for accommodating either of the dust collecting apparatuses, and the accommodating portion has a fixing member for fixing the disposable dust collecting apparatus when the disposable dust collecting apparatus is mounted in the main body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner according to a first embodiment of the present invention, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner taken along a horizontal plane and seen from an upper side;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a filter holder as obliquely seen from a front upper side;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating the filter holder and a filter held by the filter holder partly in section taken along a horizontal plane;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner according to a second embodiment of the present invention, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 5 with its dust cover removed;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 5 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with a disposable filter mounted therein;

FIG. 8 is a front view of a dust collecting apparatus to be mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a right side view of the dust collecting apparatus;

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of a portion A in FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 5 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the dust collecting apparatus to be mounted therein;

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 5 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the dust collecting apparatus mounted therein;

FIGS. 13(a) and 13(b) are diagrams respectively illustrating states of a packing deformed when the dust collecting apparatus is mounted and when the disposable filter is mounted;

FIGS. 14(a) and 14(b) are diagrams illustrating a variation of the packing;

FIG. 15 is a plan view of an electric vacuum cleaner according to a first variation of the second embodiment with its dust cover removed;

FIG. 16 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner according to a second variation of the second embodiment with neither the dust collecting apparatus nor the disposable filter mounted therein, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side;

FIG. 17 is a sectional view of a dust cover as seen along a line D-D in FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 16 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the disposable filter mounted therein;

FIG. 19 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 16 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side when the dust cover is to be closed with the dust collecting apparatus mounted in the cleaner;

FIG. 20 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 16 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side when the dust cover is completely closed with the dust collecting apparatus mounted in the cleaner;

FIG. 21 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner according to a third variation of the second embodiment with neither the dust collecting apparatus nor the disposable filter mounted therein, the sectional view being taken along a horizontal plane and seen from an upper side;

FIG. 22 is a sectional view taken along a line E-E in FIG. 21 with neither the dust collecting apparatus nor the disposable filter mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner;

FIG. 23 is a sectional view taken along the line E-E in FIG. 21 with the disposable filter mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner;

FIG. 24 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 21 taken along the horizontal plane and seen from the upper side with the dust collecting apparatus mounted therein;

FIG. 25 is a sectional view taken along a line F-F in FIG. 24 with the dust collecting apparatus mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner;

FIG. 26 is a vertical sectional view of an upright electric vacuum cleaner to which the present invention is applied, the vertical sectional view being seen from a right side;

FIG. 27 is a back view of a main body of the upright electric vacuum cleaner of FIG. 26 with a dust collecting apparatus detached;

FIG. 28 is a right side view of the detached dust collecting apparatus; and

FIG. 29 is a front view of the dust collecting apparatus with a filter cover being opened.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will hereinafter be described in detail with reference to the attached drawings.

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner 1 according to a first embodiment of the present invention, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side. FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 1 taken along a horizontal plane and seen from an upper side. A left side and a right side in FIG. 1 are respectively defined as a front side and a rear side of the electric vacuum cleaner 1. An upper side and a lower side in FIG. 2 are respectively defined as a left side and a right side of the electric vacuum cleaner 1.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the electric vacuum cleaner 1 includes a main body 3 having an electric fan 2, and a connection hose 5 having one end inserted into a suction port 4 provided at a front end of the main body 3 (in FIG. 2, the connection hose 5 is not shown). The connection hose 5 is an elongated tubular member with at least a part thereof having a bellows shape. Though not shown, a suction member is attached to the other end of the connection hose 5. When a cleaning operation is performed, the suction member is moved along a floor surface with the electric fan 2 in the main body 3 being driven. Thus, dust on the floor surface is sucked together with air from the suction member. The air sucked from the suction member flows through the connection hose 5 into the main body 3 from the suction port 4. A plurality of wheels 6 are provided at lower positions of the main body 3. The wheels 6 are rolled along the floor surface, whereby the main body 3 is moved along the floor surface.

The electric vacuum cleaner 1 is adapted to receive a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus 7 which swirls the air sucked from the suction port 4 to separate the dust from the air by a centrifugal force and capture the dust. A fan accommodating chamber 8 in which the electric fan 2 is accommodated is defined in a rear portion of the main body 3, and a dust collecting chamber 9 in which the dust collecting apparatus 7 is accommodated is defined in a front portion of the main body 3. The electric fan 2 is disposed in a right side space occupying about two thirds of the fan accommodating chamber 8, and a cord accommodating portion 11 in which an electric cord 10 for power supply to the electric vacuum cleaner 1 from the outside is accommodated is defined in a left side space occupying about one third of the fan accommodating chamber 8. In the cord accommodating portion 11, a cord reel 12 is disposed rotatably about a laterally extending rotation shaft 12A. When the electric vacuum cleaner 1 is not in use, the electric cord 10 is wound around the cord reel 12 in the cord accommodating portion 11.

The dust collecting chamber 9 has a top opening, which is covered with a dust cover 13. A front wall 9A defining a front face of the dust collecting chamber 9 has a generally round opening 14 which communicates with the suction port 4. The opening 14 is oriented slightly upward with respect to a vertical plane, i.e., inclined forward toward the upper side.

The dust collecting apparatus 7 has a generally round air inlet 15 formed in a front face thereof, and a tubular inlet pipe 16 projecting forward from the inlet 15. A front edge of the inlet pipe 16 is inclined forward toward the upper side as corresponding to the inclination of the opening 14. The dust collecting apparatus 7 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 9 from the upper side through the top opening with the dust cover 13 being opened. Since the opening 14 and the front edge of the inlet pipe 16 are inclined with respect to the vertical plane as described above, interference between a peripheral edge of the opening 14 and the inlet pipe 16 is prevented even if the dust collecting apparatus 7 is inserted vertically downward into the dust collecting chamber 9. A generally annular packing 17 is attached to the peripheral edge of the opening 14. With the dust collecting apparatus 7 accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 9, the front edge of the inlet pipe 16 is pressed against the packing 17, so that a gap between the opening 14 and the front edge of the inlet pipe 16 is sealed.

The dust collecting apparatus 7 includes a hollow casing 18 of a resin, for example, in which air is swirled, a filter 20 which permits passage of air to be discharged from an air outlet port 19 provided in a rear face of the casing 18 to capture dust entrained in the air, and a filter holder 18B which surrounds the outer periphery of the filter 20 to hold the filter 20. The filter 20 is composed of, for example, a urethane-containing material.

The inlet 15 is provided in a front face of the casing 18, and the inlet pipe 16 projects forward from the inlet 15. A cyclonic flow path 21 is defined by a partition wall in the casing 18. More specifically, the air entering the casing 18 from the inlet 15 is swirled clockwise about a swirl axis 22 (see FIG. 2) as seen from the front side along the cyclonic flow path 21. A terminal end of the cyclonic flow path 21 communicates with a dust collecting portion 23 spreading immediately upstream of the air outlet port 19 (just in front of the air outlet port 19).

The dust entrained in the air flowing into the casing 18 from the inlet 15 passes through an outer portion of the cyclonic flow path 21 (a radially outward portion about the swirl axis 22) by a centrifugal force when the air is swirled along the cyclonic flow path 21. A generally cylindrical filter 24 (see FIG. 2) is disposed along the swirl axis 22 in the casing 18. The filter 24 is, for example, a mesh filter prepared by combining metal wires into mesh. A rear end of the filter 24 faces toward a portion of the dust collecting portion 23 immediately upstream of the air outlet port 19. With this arrangement, the dust entrained in the air swirled along the cyclonic flow path 21 is swirled in the outer portion of the cyclonic flow path 21 and, therefore, guided into the dust collecting portion 23 without passing through the filter 24. A part of the air (from which the dust is separated) swirled in an inner portion of the cyclonic flow path 21 (adjacent to the swirl axis 22) passes through the filter 24, and flows inside the filter 24 to be guided to the portion immediately upstream of the air outlet port 19. Therefore, the dust entrained in the air flowing into the casing 18 from the inlet 15 is separated by the centrifugal force and captured by the dust collecting portion 23, while the air from which the dust is separated is guided through the filter 24 toward the air outlet port 19. Thus, the dust can be advantageously captured.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the filter holder 18B as obliquely seen from a front upper side. FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating the filter holder 18B and the filter 20 held by the filter holder 18B partly in section taken along a horizontal plane.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the filter holder 18B includes a rear plate 25 of a generally rectangular shape and a side plate frame 26 projecting forward from an outer peripheral edge of the rear plate 25, and the rear plate 25 and the side plate frame 26 are integrally formed of, for example, a resin. The filter 20 is fitted in the filter holder 18B with its outer peripheral surface fitted along an inner peripheral surface of the side plate frame 26. A front surface of the filter 20 is substantially flush with a front edge of the side plate frame 26 with the filter 20 fitted in the filter holder 18B. The side plate frame 26 has a positioning projection 27 provided on the inner peripheral surface thereof (in a lower left corner thereof). The filter 20 has a recess 28 in association with the positioning projection 27 (in a lower left corner thereof). With the positioning projection 27 fitted in the recess 28, the filter 20 can be fitted in the filter holder 18B in a correct orientation with respect to lateral, vertical and anteroposterior directions.

The side plate frame 26 has attachment members 29 provided at laterally opposite ends of a lower edge thereof for pivotally attaching the filter holder 18B to the casing 18. The side plate frame 26 further has an operation portion 30 projecting from a transversely middle portion of an upper edge thereof. When the dust collected in the dust collecting apparatus 7 (in the casing 18) is to be removed, the dust cover 13 is opened, then the dust collecting apparatus 7 is taken out of the dust collecting chamber 9, and the casing 18 is opened by pulling the operation portion 30 rearward to pivot the filter holder 18B about the attachment members 29. In this state, the dust can be easily removed from the casing 18. Further, the filter 20 is detached from the filter holder 18B to remove dust adhering to the filter 20.

The rear plate 25 of the filter holder 18B has a generally rectangular opening 31. A plurality of vent holes for passing air discharged from the air outlet port 19 through the filter 20 are defined in the opening 31 by a plurality of ribs extending vertically (vertical ribs 32A) and a plurality of ribs extending transversely (transverse ribs 32B). Front surfaces of the respective transverse ribs 32B are located forwardly of front surfaces of the respective vertical ribs 32A. A frame rib (peripheral rib 32C) is provided on a peripheral edge of the opening 31 as projecting forward. A front surface of the peripheral rib 32C is located forwardly of the front surfaces of the respective transverse ribs 32B. With this arrangement, the front surfaces of the respective transverse ribs 32B abut against a rear surface of the filter 20, and the peripheral rib 32C intrudes into a peripheral portion of the rear surface of the filter 20 with the filter 20 fitted in the filter holder 18B. In this state, the rear surface of the filter 20 is spaced a predetermined distance (e.g., about 6 mm) from the vertical ribs 32A.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, when the dust collecting apparatus 7 is inserted in the dust collecting chamber 9, a rear surface of the filter holder 18B abuts against a rear wall 9B defining a rear face of the dust colleting chamber 9. The rear wall 9B has a generally rectangular opening 33 formed in a portion thereof extending rightward from a center portion thereof (opposed to a space in which the electric fan 2 is disposed in the fan accommodating chamber 8) as having a size smaller than the area of the filter 20 (air outlet port 19). The dust collecting chamber 9 and the fan accommodating chamber 8 communicate with each other through the opening 33. The opening 33 is opposed to a suction port 2A of the electric fan 2 disposed in the fan accommodating chamber 8. The opening 33 is covered with a filter 34 having a pleat structure formed by folding filter paper into a bellows shape.

In this embodiment, the dust collecting apparatus 7 (casing 18) has the greatest possible size (the dust collecting apparatus 7 occupies a wider area of the dust collecting chamber 9 from the left side to the right side) to ensure that the air sucked from the suction port 4 of the main body 3 can be properly swirled for improvement of the dust collecting efficiency. Further, the air outlet port 19 has a great size (the air outlet port 19 is provided in the entire rear surface of the dust collecting apparatus 7) to ensure that the air from the dust collecting apparatus 7 can be properly discharged. Since the air outlet port 19 has a great size, the size of the filter 20 covering the air outlet port 19 can be increased. Therefore, clogging of the filter 20 can be suppressed.

On the other hand, the fan accommodating chamber 8 which is located behind the dust collecting chamber 9 with the intervention of the rear wall 9B is required to have a space for accommodating components other than the electric fan 2 (e.g., the cord accommodating portion 11 in which the cord reel 12 is disposed). Therefore, the opening 33 formed in the rear wall 9B has a smaller size than the air outlet port 19. In this case, a portion of the air outlet port 19 opposed to the opening 33 ensures proper air flow to the opening 33 through the filter 20, but the other portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33 is liable to prohibit the proper air flow.

In this embodiment, the rear surface of the filter 20 is spaced from the vertical ribs 32A, so that a guide passage 35 is defined for guiding the air discharged through the filter 20 from the portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33 toward the opening 33. Therefore, the air flow from the portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33 can be ensured by the guide passage 35, thereby suppressing the reduction of the suction force to improve the dust collecting efficiency.

In particular, the rear surface of the filter holder 18B abuts against the rear wall 9B, so that the dust collecting apparatus 7 can be firmly fixed in the dust collecting chamber 9. Further, the guide passage 35 can be defined by the space between the vertical ribs 32A and the filter 20.

Since the peripheral rib 32C of the filter holder 18B intrudes into the rear surface of the filter 20, there is no gap between the peripheral portion of the filter 20 and the filter holder 18B. Therefore, the peripheral rib 32C serves as a barrier to prevent the dust from leaking from the dust collecting apparatus 7 between the peripheral portion of the filter 20 and the filter holder 18B.

In this embodiment, the vertical ribs 32A and the transverse ribs 32B which serve as a filter cover are formed integrally with the filter holder 18B. Thus, the number of components can be reduced, thereby reducing the production costs.

In this embodiment, a portion (left portion) of the dust collecting portion 23 not opposed to the opening 33 is narrower than a portion (right portion) of the dust collecting portion 23 opposed to the opening 33. The space of the dust collecting portion 23 has a cross section which progressively decreases toward the portion of the dust collecting portion 23 not opposed to the opening 33 (see FIG. 2). In general, the air swirled in the dust collecting apparatus 7 tends to flow toward a narrower space. With the aforesaid arrangement, the air can be positively guided toward the portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33 in which the air communication is poorer, so that the air can be discharged from the entire air outlet port 19 including not only the portion of the air outlet port 19 opposed to the opening 33 but also the portion of the air outlet port 19 not opposed to the opening 33. Thus, the collected dust is also guided toward the narrower space. Therefore, the dust is first gradually accumulated in the space not opposed to the opening 33, and finally captured by the entire filter 20. Thus, the dust collecting efficiency is improved.

The construction of the dust collecting apparatus 7 is not limited to the construction described above, but the dust collecting apparatus 7 may have the same construction as a dust collecting apparatus 107 according to a second embodiment to be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 8 to 10.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner 101 according to the second embodiment of the present invention, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side. FIG. 6 is a plan view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101 with its dust cover 113 removed. A left side and a right side in FIG. 5 are respectively defined as a front side and a rear side of the electric vacuum cleaner 101. An upper side and a lower side in FIG. 6 are respectively defined as a left side and a right side of the electric vacuum cleaner 101.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, the electric vacuum cleaner 101 includes a main body 103 having an electric fan 102, and one end of a connection hose (not shown) is inserted into a suction port 104 provided at a front end of the main body 103. The connection hose is an elongated tubular member with at least a part thereof having a bellows shape. Though not shown, a suction member is attached to the other end of the connection hose. When a cleaning operation is performed, the suction member is moved along a floor surface with the electric fan 102 in the main body 103 being driven. Thus, dust on the floor surface is sucked together with air from the suction member. The air sucked from the suction member flows through the connection hose into the main body 103 from the suction port 104. A plurality of wheels 106 are provided at lower positions of the main body 103. The wheels 106 are rolled along the floor surface, whereby the main body 103 is moved along the floor surface.

One feature of the electric vacuum cleaner 101 is that a commercially available disposable filter 40 (not shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) such as a paper pack and a cyclonic dust collecting apparatus 107 (not shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) which is capable of swirling the air sucked from the suction port 104 to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force and capture the dust are selectively mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner 101. With this arrangement, a user is permitted to mount either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 according to user's preference. Therefore, the electric vacuum cleaner 101 is more convenient to use.

A fan accommodating chamber 108 in which the electric fan 102 is accommodated is defined in a rear portion of the main body 103, and a dust collecting chamber 109 in which the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is accommodated is defined in a front portion of the main body 103. When the electric vacuum cleaner 101 is not in use, an electric cord 110 for power supply to the electric vacuum cleaner 101 from the outside is accommodated in a wound state in a left side portion of the fan accommodating chamber 108.

The dust collecting chamber 109 has a top opening, which is covered with a dust cover 113. The dust cover 113 is attached pivotally to the main body 103 at its rear edge. The dust collecting chamber 109 is covered and uncovered by pivoting the dust cover 113 (in FIG. 5, the dust cover 113 is opened). A front wall 109A defining a front face of the dust collecting chamber 109 has a generally round opening 114 which communicates with the suction port 104. The opening 114 is oriented slightly upward with respect to a vertical plane, i.e., inclined forward toward the upper side. A generally annular packing 117 is attached to a peripheral edge of the opening 114.

An engagement member 41 for fixing the disposable filter 40 when the disposable filter 40 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 is provided on an upper front portion of the dust collecting chamber 109 (at a front edge of the top opening) pivotally about a laterally extending pivot shaft (not shown). The engagement member 41 includes a laterally extending base 42, a pair of engagement projections 43 projecting rearward from laterally opposite ends of the base 42, and an operation portion 44 projecting upward from a transversely middle portion of the base 42, and these portions 42, 43, 44 are integrally formed. The engagement member 41 is biased clockwise as seen in FIG. 5 by a resilient member such as a spring. Where the disposable filter 40 is not fixed, the engagement member 41 is kept at a position (initial position) shown in FIG. 5. Claws 43A for hooking an upper edge of the disposable filter 40 respectively project from lower surfaces of the engagement projections 43.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the disposable filter 40 mounted therein.

As shown in FIG. 7, the disposable filter 40 includes a generally rectangular cardboard base 40A and a paper bag filter 40B having an open portion fixed to a rear face of the cardboard base 40A. The cardboard base 40A has a generally round inlet 45 provided in a center portion thereof as corresponding to the opening 114. A rear side of the inlet 45 is covered with the paper filter 40B.

Referring to FIGS. 5 to 7, a pair of guide members 46 for guiding laterally opposite edges of the cardboard base 40A when the disposable filter 40 is mounted in and demounted from the dust collecting chamber 109 project from laterally opposite edges of the front wall 109A of the dust collecting chamber 109 as extending vertically. A pair of stoppers 47 for preventing rearward displacement of a lower edge of the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 when the disposable filter 40 is mounted in the dust collecting chamber 109 project from a front edge of a bottom of the dust collecting chamber 109.

When the disposable filter 40 is to be accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the pair of engagement projections 43 are first retracted from a disposable filter (cardboard base) insertion path by pulling the operation portion 44 forward and pivoting the engagement member 41 counterclockwise as seen in FIG. 5. In this state, the disposable filter 40 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 109 from the upper side through the top opening, and the laterally opposite edges of the cardboard base 40A are slid downward along the pair of guide members 46. After the lower edge of the cardboard base 40A is thus brought into abutment against a bottom portion of the dust collecting chamber 109 in front of the pair of stoppers 47, a force applied to the engagement member 41 is released, and the engagement member 41 is pivoted toward the initial position (clockwise as seen in FIG. 5), whereby the claws 43A of the respective engagement projections 43 are engaged with an upper edge of the cardboard base 40A. As a result, the cardboard base 40A is pressed against the packing 117 by a force applied forward by the engagement projections 43. Thus, a front peripheral edge of the inlet 45 of the cardboard base 40A is pressed against the packing 117, whereby a gap between the opening 114 and the inlet 45 is sealed.

When the electric vacuum cleaner 101 is driven (the electric fan 102 is driven) with the disposable filter 40 mounted therein, the air sucked from the suction member flows into the main body 103 through the connection hose and the suction port 104 thereby to be introduced into the paper filter 40B of the disposable filter 40 from the opening 114 through the inlet 45. When the air introduced into the paper filter 40B passes through the paper filter 40B, the dust entrained in the air is captured by the paper filter 40B.

FIG. 8 is a front view of the dust collecting apparatus 107 to be mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner 101. FIG. 9 is a right side view of the dust collecting apparatus 107.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, a generally round air inlet 50 through which air is introduced into the dust collecting apparatus 107 is provided in a front face of the dust collecting apparatus 107, and a tubular inlet pipe 51 projects forward from the inlet 50. A front edge of the inlet pipe 51 is inclined forward toward the upper side as corresponding to the inclination of the opening 114.

The dust collecting apparatus 107 includes a hollow casing 52 in which the air is swirled, a filter 54 which permits passage of air to be discharged from an air outlet port 53 provided in a rear face of the casing 52 and captures dust entrained in the air, and a filter holder 55 which surrounds the outer periphery of the filter 54 to hold the filter 54. The filter 54 is composed of, for example, a urethane-containing material. Attachment members 56 for pivotally attaching the filter holder 55 to the casing 52 respectively project downward from laterally opposite portions of a lower surface of the filter holder 55. Fixing members 57 for pivotally fixing the attachment members 56 of the filter holder 55 respectively project downward from laterally opposite ends of a rear lower edge of the casing 52.

In this embodiment, it is possible to hold tissue paper between the casing 52 and the filter holder 55 (immediately upstream of the filter 54) and press a peripheral portion of the tissue paper held between the casing 52 and the filter holder 55 by a metal press frame 58 extending along the outer periphery of the casing 52. The press frame 58 has a left end portion bent rightward and a right end portion bent leftward. The left and right end portions of the press frame 58 respectively serve as pivot shafts 63 of the press frame 58. The press frame 58 is pivotally attached to the casing 52 and the filter holder 55 with its left end portion (left pivot shaft 63) pivotally attached to the left attachment member 56 and the left fixing member 57 and with its right end portion (right pivot shaft 63) pivotally attached to the right attachment member 56 and the right fixing member 57.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of a portion A in FIG. 8.

As shown in FIG. 10, the attachment members 56 provided on the filter holder 55 each include a pair of clamp portions 56A, 56B spaced a predetermined distance in laterally opposed relation. The clamp portions 56A, 56B respectively have generally cylindrical pivot shafts 59 which project toward each other coaxially from lower portions of opposed surfaces thereof.

The fixing members 57 provided on the casing 52 each include an insertion portion 57A inserted between the pair of clamp portions 56A and 56B of the attachment member 56, and a through-hole portion 57B through which the pivot shaft 63 of the press frame 58 extends. The insertion portion 57A has a through-hole 60 laterally extending through a lower end portion thereof. The insertion portion 57A is inserted between the pair of clamp portions 56A and 56B of the attachment member 56, whereby the pivot shaft 59 of the left clamp portion 56A is inserted into the through-hole 60 from the left side and the pivot shaft 59 of the right clamp portion 56B is inserted into the through-hole 60 from the right side. Thus, the filter holder 55 can be pivotally attached to the casing 52.

The through-hole portion 57B has a through-hole 61 laterally extending through a lower portion thereof. Of the pair of clamp portions 56A, 56B, the clamp portion 56A adjacent to the through-hole portion 57B has an insertion hole 62 opening toward the through-hole portion 57B. The pivot shaft 63 of the press frame 58 extends through the through-hole 61 with a distal end thereof inserted in the insertion hole 62. Thus, the pivot shaft 63 is pivotally held by the through-hole 61 and the insertion hole 62. With this attaching arrangement, the pivot shaft 63 is engaged with both the casing 52 and the filter holder 55. Therefore, the pivot shaft 63 is hardly disengaged, so that a robust structure can be provided.

Since the pivot shaft 63 is inserted through the through-hole 61 into the insertion hole 62, the pivot shaft attaching operation can be easily performed as compared with a case in which the pivot shaft 63 is attached with the use of a fixing member such as an E-ring.

Further, the end portion of the pivot shaft 63 is inserted in the insertion hole 62 and, therefore, even if the end portion is formed with burrs, the burrs are not exposed outside. This makes the attaching arrangement safer.

While the attaching arrangement associated with the left attachment member 56 and the left fixing member 57 has been described with reference to FIG. 10, the attaching arrangement associated with the right attachment member 56 and the right fixing member 57 has substantially the same structure.

When the dust collected in the dust collecting apparatus 107 (in the casing 52) is to be removed, the dust cover 113 is opened, then the dust collecting apparatus 107 is taken out of the dust collecting chamber 109, and the casing 52 is opened by pivoting the filter holder 55 about the pivot shafts 59 of the attachment members 56. In this state, the dust can be easily removed from the casing 52. Further, the filter 54 is detached from the filter holder 55 to remove dust adhering to the filter 54.

Where the dust collecting apparatus 107 is used with the tissue paper held between the casing 52 and the filter holder 55 (immediately upstream of the filter 54) and with the peripheral portion of the tissue paper pressed by the press frame 58, the air flowing through the casing 52 to the air outlet port 53 passes through the tissue paper before passing through the filter 54. Therefore, the dust entrained in the air is mostly captured by the tissue paper. In this case, when the dust collected in the dust collecting apparatus 107 (in the casing 52) is to be removed, the casing 52 is opened by pivoting the filter holder 52. Thus, the dust in the casing 52 can be easily removed. Further, the peripheral portion of the tissue paper is released by pivoting the press frame 58. Thus, the tissue paper can be removed to be discarded. With this arrangement, the dust hardly adheres to the filter 54, so that the need for removing the dust from the filter 54 is obviated to improve the convenience.

Referring again to FIGS. 8 and 9, the casing 52 includes a front member 52A defining a front portion thereof and a rear member 52B defining a rear portion thereof. The front member 52A and the rear member 52B are bonded (e.g., fuse-bonded) to each other. More specifically, the front member 52A and the rear member 52B respectively have a bonding rib 64A projecting from the entire rear outer peripheral edge of the front member 52A and a bonding rib 64B projecting from the entire front outer peripheral edge of the rear member 52B for bonding the front member 52A and the rear member 52B to each other. A predetermined fuse-bonding process is performed with the bonding ribs 64A, 64B in abutment with each other. Thus, the bonding ribs 64A, 64B are fuse-bonded to each other to combine the front member 52A and the rear member 52B.

In this embodiment, laterally opposite lower edge portions of the bonding rib 64A of the front member 52A are extended downward to define a pair of legs 65. With this arrangement, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is demounted from the electric vacuum cleaner 101 and placed on a floor surface for cleaning the dust collecting apparatus 107, the dust collecting apparatus 107 can be held upright by the pair of legs 65 and other portions of the casing 52 (the attachment members 56 and the fixing members 57). Therefore, the dust collecting apparatus 107 is prevented from falling down to scatter the dust out of the dust collecting apparatus 107. Thus, the removal of the dust from the dust collecting apparatus 107 is facilitated.

In this embodiment, lower end portions of the respective legs 65 are extended to the same level as the lowermost ends of the other portions (the attachment members 56 and the fixing members 57 of the casing 52), whereby the inlet 50 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is oriented generally horizontally with the dust collecting apparatus 107 held upright by the pair of legs 65. With this arrangement, the dust is prevented from being scattered out of the dust collecting apparatus 107 from the inlet 50 with the dust collecting apparatus 107 held upright by the pair of legs 65. Therefore, the removal of the dust from the dust collecting apparatus 107 is further facilitated. With the dust collecting apparatus 107 held upright by the pair of legs 65, the inlet 50 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is not necessarily required to be oriented generally horizontally, but may be oriented upward (or obliquely upward).

In this embodiment, a cleaning device 66 (e.g., a brush) to be used for cleaning the dust collecting apparatus 107 is retained on rear faces of the legs 65. With this arrangement, the cleaning device 66 is not retained on a wall of the dust collecting chamber 109, but retained on the dust collecting apparatus 107. Therefore, when the disposable filter 40 is mounted in the dust collecting apparatus 107, damage to the paper filter 40B of the disposable filter 40 is prevented which may otherwise occur when the paper filter 40B is brought into contact with the cleaning device 66 retained on the wall of the dust collecting chamber 109.

Since parts of the bonding ribs 64A are extended to define the pair of legs 65, simple structures can be provided for keeping the dust collecting apparatus 107 upright and for retaining the cleaning device 66 on the dust collecting apparatus 107, as compared with a case in which the legs are provided as separate members.

The inlet 50 is provided in a front face of the casing 52 (front member 52A), and the inlet pipe 51 projects forward from the inlet 50. A cyclonic flow path 67 is defined by a partition wall in the casing 52. More specifically, the air entering the casing 52 from the inlet 50 is swirled clockwise about an anteroposteriorly extending swirl axis 68 as seen from the front side along the cyclonic flow path 67 and indicated by an arrow in FIG. 8. A terminal end of the cyclonic flow path 67 communicates with a dust collecting portion 69 spreading immediately upstream of the air outlet port 53 (in front of the air outlet port 53).

The dust entrained in the air flowing into the casing 52 from the inlet 50 passes through an outer portion of the cyclonic flow path 67 (a radially outward portion about the swirl axis 68) by a centrifugal force when the air is swirled along the cyclonic flow path 67. A generally cylindrical filter 70 is disposed along the swirl axis 68 in the casing 52. The filter 70 is, for example, a mesh filter prepared by combining metal wires into mesh. A rear end of the filter 70 faces toward a portion of the dust collecting portion 69 immediately upstream of the air outlet port 53. With this arrangement, the dust entrained in the air swirled along the cyclonic flow path 67 is swirled in the outer portion of the cyclonic flow path 67 and, therefore, guided into the dust collecting portion 69 without passing through the filter 70. A part of the air (from which the dust is separated) swirled in an inner portion of the cyclonic flow path 67 (adjacent to the swirl axis 68) passes through the filter 70, and flows inside the filter 70 to be guided to the portion immediately upstream of the air outlet port 53. Therefore, the dust entrained in the air flowing into the casing 52 from the inlet 50 is separated by the centrifugal force and captured by the dust collecting portion 69, while the air from which the dust is separated is guided through the filter 70 toward the air outlet port 53. Thus, the dust can be advantageously captured.

A cover 71 which covers a front portion of the filter 70 is openably attached to the front face of the casing 52 (front member 52A). With the cover 71 being opened to uncover the front portion of the filter 70, the filter 70 is drawn forward for cleaning thereof. The casing 52 (front member 52A) has a rib 72 projecting forward from the front face thereof on a lateral side (right side) of the inlet 50. The rib 72 vertically extends (in the direction of the insertion of the dust collecting apparatus 107), and its distal edge extends to the vicinity of the front edge of the inlet pipe 51. A handle 73 to be held when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is mounted and demounted is provided on an upper side of the casing 52 as extending anteroposteriorly.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the dust collecting apparatus 107 to be mounted therein. FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101 taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted therein.

Referring to FIGS. 11 and 12, the dust collecting apparatus 107 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 109 from the upper side through the top opening with the dust cover 113 being opened. That is, the dust collecting apparatus 107 is slid vertically downward (diametrically of the inlet 50) with respect to the dust collecting chamber 109 thereby to be accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109. A distance between the pair of engagement projections 43 of the engagement member 41 is greater than the outer diameter of the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107. When the dust collecting apparatus 107 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 109, the inlet pipe 51 is passed between the pair of engagement projections 43 as indicated by a one-dot-and-dash line in FIG. 11. With this arrangement, when the disposable filter 40 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is fixed by the pair of engagement projections 43. When the dust collecting apparatus 107 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is prevented from interfering with the pair of engagement projections 43 which are adapted to fix the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40. Therefore, either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 can be properly mounted.

With the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted in the dust collecting chamber 109, the gap between the opening 114 and the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 is sealed, as shown in FIG. 12, by pressing the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 against the packing 117. As described above, the opening 114 is oriented slightly upward with respect to the vertical plane, i.e., inclined forward toward the upper side, and the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 is also inclined forward toward the upper side as corresponding to the inclination of the opening 114. Therefore, even if the dust collecting apparatus 107 is inserted vertically downward into the dust collecting chamber 109, the interference between the peripheral edge of the opening 114 and the inlet pipe 51 can be prevented.

FIGS. 13(a) and 13(b) are diagrams respectively illustrating states of the packing 117 deformed when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is mounted and when the disposable filter 40 is mounted. Particularly, FIG. 13(a) illustrates a portion B in FIG. 7 on an enlarged scale to show the packing 117 deformed when the disposable filter 40 is mounted, and FIG. 13(b) illustrates a portion C in FIG. 12 on an enlarged scale to show the packing 117 deformed when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is mounted.

The packing 117 is composed of an elastic material such as rubber, and includes a cylindrical base 117A fitted in the opening 114, a cylindrical portion 117B projecting from a rear face of the base 117A, an annular resiliently deformable portion 117C projecting radially outward from a rear edge of the cylindrical portion 117B, and an annular projection 117D projecting rearward from a junction between the cylindrical portion 117B and the annular resiliently deformable portion 117C, and these parts 117A, 117B, 117C, 117D are integrally formed. The annular projection 117D has a convexly curved cross section (generally arcuate cross section).

When the disposable filter 40 is mounted, as shown in FIG. 13(a), the annular projection 117D bites the inner periphery of the inlet 45 of the disposable filter 40, and the front surface of the cardboard base 40A (the peripheral edge of the inlet 45) abuts against the entire rear surface of the annular resiliently deformable portion 117C, whereby the annular resiliently deformable portion 117C is pressed forward to be resiliently deformed. On the other hand, the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 has substantially the same size as the inlet 45 of the disposable filter 40 or a greater size than the inlet 45 of the disposable filter 40. When the dust collecting apparatus 107 is mounted, as shown in FIG. 13(b), the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 abuts against the rear surface of the annular resiliently deformable portion 117C, whereby the annular resiliently deformable portion 117C is pressed forward to be resiliently deformed. With this arrangement, when either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is mounted, the peripheral edge of the inlet 45 or the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 is pressed with a sufficient resilient force by the packing 117. Therefore, the air is advantageously prevented from leaking from the peripheral edge of the inlet 45 or the front edge of the inlet pipe 51, thereby improving the dust collecting efficiency.

The annular projection 117D has a convexly curved cross-section and, therefore, even if the peripheral edge of the inlet 45 or the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 interferes with the annular projection 117D when the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is slid into the dust collecting chamber 109, the annular projection 117D rides over the annular projection 117D along the convexly curved surface. Therefore, the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 can be properly mounted.

FIGS. 14(a) and 14(b) are diagrams illustrating a variation of the packing 117. Particularly, FIG. 14(a) is a rear view of a packing 217 according to the variation, and FIG. 14(b) is a sectional view of the packing 217 as seen along a line G-G in FIG. 14(a).

Referring to FIGS. 14(a) and 14(b), the packing 217 according to this variation is composed of an elastic material such as rubber. Like the packing 117 according to the aforesaid embodiment, the packing 217 includes a cylindrical base 217A fitted in the opening 114, a cylindrical portion 217B projecting from a rear face of the base 217A, an annular resiliently deformable portion 217C projecting radially outward from a rear edge of the cylindrical portion 217B, and an annular projection 217D projecting rearward from a junction between the cylindrical portion 217B and the annular resiliently deformable portion 217C, and these parts 217A, 217B, 217C, 217D are integrally formed. The annular projection 217D has a convexly curved cross section (generally arcuate cross section).

A feature of the packing 217 according to this variation is that an upper edge portion of the annular resiliently deformable portion 217C projects further outward (upward) than the other portion of the annular resiliently deformable portion 217C to define a guide portion 217E. The guide portion 217E is curved to be inclined forward toward the upper side.

This arrangement provides the same effects as the packing 117 according to the aforesaid embodiment. In addition, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is mounted, the front edge of the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 inserted from the upper side or the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 can be slid along the curved rear surface of the guide portion 217E thereby to be properly guided toward the annular resiliently deformable portion 217C. Therefore, either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 can be properly mounted.

FIG. 15 is a plan view of an electric vacuum cleaner 101A according to a first variation of the second embodiment with its dust cover 113 removed.

The electric vacuum cleaner 101A is characterized in that the pair of guide members 46 are used instead of the engagement member 41 of the second embodiment as the fixing member for fixing the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40. Therefore, the electric vacuum cleaner 101A has substantially the same construction as the second embodiment, except that the engagement member 41 is omitted and the pair of guide members 46 each have a modified shape. Hence, like components will be denoted by like reference characters, and no explanation will be given thereto.

Referring to FIG. 15, rear end portions of the respective guide members 46 (a left guide member 46L and a right guide member 46R) projecting rearward from the laterally opposite edges of the front wall 109A of the dust collecting chamber 109 are bent generally perpendicularly toward each other. That is, the left guide member 46L has a rear end portion 48L bent rightward, and the right guide member 46R has a rear end portion 48R bent leftward.

When the disposable filter 40 is to be accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the disposable filter 40 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 109 from the upper side through the top opening, and the laterally opposite edges of the cardboard base 40A are slid downward along the pair of guide members 46 (along front surfaces of the respective bent portions 48L, 48R). After the lower edge of the cardboard base 40A is thus brought into abutment against the bottom portion of the dust collecting chamber 109 in front of the pair of stoppers 47, the dust cover 113 is closed. The dust cover 113 has an engagement member (not shown) provided on an interior surface thereof (which faces toward the dust collecting chamber 109 when the dust cover 113 is closed) for fixing the upper edge of the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40. When the dust cover 113 is closed, the upper edge of the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is pressed forward by the engagement member. With the dust cover 113 thus closed, the cardboard base 40A is pressed against the packing 117 by a force applied forward by the engagement member. Thus, the peripheral edge of the inlet 45 provided in the front face of the cardboard base 40A is pressed against the packing 117, whereby the gap between the opening 114 and the inlet 45 is sealed.

In this variation, a distance between distal ends of the respective bent portions 48L and 48R is greater than the outer diameter of the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107, so that the inlet pipe 51 passes between the bent portions 48L and 48R when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is inserted into the dust collecting chamber 109. With this arrangement, when the disposable filter 40 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the disposable filter 40 can be fixed by the pair of bent portions 48L, 48R. Further, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the inlet pipe 51 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is prevented from interfering with the pair of bent portions 48L, 48R which are adapted to fix the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40. Therefore, either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 can be properly mounted.

FIG. 16 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner 101B according to a second variation of the second embodiment with neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 mounted therein, the sectional view being taken along an anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from a right side. FIG. 17 is a sectional view of a dust cover 113 as seen along a line D-D in FIG. 16.

The electric vacuum cleaner 101B is characterized in that, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is not accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 and the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is not fixed to the engagement member 41, a stopper 80 provided on the dust cover 113 prevents the dust cover 113 from being closed and, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is mounted in the dust collecting chamber 109 or the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is fixed to the engagement member 41, the stopper 80 permits the dust cover 113 to be closed. Thus, the electric vacuum cleaner 101B has substantially the same construction as the second embodiment except for an arrangement associated with the stopper 80. Therefore, like components will be denoted by like reference characters, and no explanation will be given thereto.

Referring to FIGS. 16 and 17, the dust cover 113 has an attachment member 81 projecting from a laterally middle front portion of the interior surface thereof for attaching the stopper 80. A laterally extending rotation shaft 82 is attached to a lower portion of the attachment member 81. The stopper 80 has an anteroposteriorly elongated shape, and is rotatably retained by the rotation shaft 82 at a position slightly forward of a middle portion thereof. A tubular portion of a twist coil spring 83 is fitted around the rotation shaft 82. The stopper 80 is biased clockwise as seen in FIG. 16 by a biasing force of the twist coil spring 83 by fixing one end of the twist coil spring 83 to the attachment member 81 and fixing the other end of the twist coil spring 83 to the stopper 80. Where no external force other than the biasing force from the twist coil spring 83 acts on the stopper 80, an upper front surface portion of the stopper 80 abuts against a lower surface of a front wall 81A of the attachment member 81 to prevent the stopper 80 from further rotating clockwise from a position shown in FIG. 16.

When the dust cover 113 is closed in this state, the operation portion 44 of the engagement portion 41 is located in the path of a front end of the stopper 80. That is, if an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is not accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 and the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is not fixed to the engagement member 41, the front end of the stopper 80 abuts against the upper edge of the operation portion 44 of the engagement member 41 to prevent the closing of the dust cover 113. The stopper 80 has a projection 80A projecting downward from a lower front end portion thereof. Thus, even if an external force is further applied to the dust cover 113 in a closing direction with the front end of the stopper 80 in abutment against the upper edge of the operation portion 44, the projection 80A prevents the operation portion 44 from forwardly riding over the stopper 80.

FIG. 18 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101B taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side with the disposable filter 40 mounted therein.

When the disposable filter 40 is mounted, as shown in FIG. 18, the upper edge of the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is fixed by the pair of engagement projections 43, so that the engagement member 41 is located in a position (fixing position) offset counterclockwise from the position shown in FIG. 16. If an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 in this state, the dust cover 113 is permitted to be closed without the abutment of the front end of the stopper 80 against the engagement member 41 (operation portion 44).

The rear end of the stopper 80 is chamfered to be smoothly curved, so that breakage of the paper filter 40B can be prevented which may otherwise occur when the paper filter 40B of the disposable filter 40 accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 is brought into contact with the rear end of the stopper 80.

FIG. 19 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101B taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side when the dust cover 113 is to be closed with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted in the cleaner. FIG. 20 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101B taken along the anteroposterior vertical plane and seen from the right side when the dust cover 113 is completely closed with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted in the cleaner.

As shown in FIG. 19, when the dust cover 113 is to be closed with the dust collecting apparatus 107 accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the casing 52 (an upper edge of the front member 52A) of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is located in the path of the rear end of the stopper 80. That is, when the dust cover 113 is closed with the dust collecting apparatus 107 accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109, the stopper 80 is rotated counterclockwise as seen in FIG. 19 against the biasing force of the twist coil spring 83 by an action force from the casing 52 with the rear end of the stopper 80 in abutment against the casing 52.

When the dust cover 113 is closed in the state shown in FIG. 19, the rear end of the stopper 80 is slid along the surface of the casing 52 to be lifted upward, whereby the stopper 80 is rotated counterclockwise as seen in FIG. 19. When the dust cover 113 is completely closed, the stopper 80 is in a state as shown in FIG. 20. If an attempt is thus made to close the dust cover 113 with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted, the stopper 80 is rotated by the action force from the dust collecting apparatus 107, whereby the front end of the stopper 80 is displaced to be brought out of abutment with the engagement member 41 (operation portion 44). Thus, the dust cover 113 is permitted to be closed.

With this arrangement, the dust cover 113 can be closed when either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is mounted. However, when neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 is mounted, the dust cover 113 cannot be closed. Therefore, the start of the operation of the electric vacuum cleaner 101B is prevented with neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 mounted. Thus, the electric vacuum cleaner 101B is more convenient to use.

It is noted that the biasing means for applying the biasing force to the stopper 80 is not limited to the twist coil spring 83, but any other resilient member may be used as the biasing means.

FIG. 21 is a sectional view of an electric vacuum cleaner 101C according to a third variation of the second embodiment with neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 mounted therein, the sectional view being taken along a horizontal plane and seen from an upper side. FIG. 22 is a sectional view taken along a line E-E in FIG. 21 with neither the dust collecting apparatus nor the disposable filter mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner 101C.

The electric vacuum cleaner 101C is characterized in that, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is not accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 and the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is not fixed to the engagement member 41, a stopper 90 provided in the dust collecting chamber 109 prevents the dust cover 113 from being closed and, when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 or the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is fixed to the engagement member 41, the stopper 90 permits the dust cover 113 to be closed. Hence, the electric vacuum cleaner 101C has substantially the same construction as the second embodiment except for an arrangement associated with the stopper 90. Therefore, like components will be denoted by like reference characters, and no explanation will be given thereto.

Referring to FIGS. 21 and 22, a stopper retainer 91 for retaining the stopper 90 is attached to a right side portion of the front wall 109A of the dust collecting chamber 109 on the left side of the right guide member 46R. The stopper 90 is retained pivotally about a laterally extending rotation shaft 92 attached to the stopper retainer 91. An engagement projection 93 to be engaged with the stopper 90 projects from a front interior surface portion of the dust cover 113. The stopper 90 has a vertically elongated shape, and its lower portion is retained pivotally about the rotation shaft 92. The stopper 90 has a columnar projection 90A provided on a front surface of the lower portion thereof. A compression coil spring 94 is provided between the stopper retainer 91 and the stopper 90 with its front end abutting against a rear surface of the stopper retainer 91 and with its rear end portion fitted around the columnar projection 90A, whereby the stopper 90 is biased counterclockwise as seen in FIG. 22 by a biasing force of the compression coil spring 94. Where no external force other than the biasing force from the compression coil spring 94 acts on the stopper 90, a distal edge of a rib 90B projecting from a front upper surface portion of the stopper 90 abuts against the rear surface of the stopper retainer 91. Thus, the stopper 90 is prevented from further pivoting counterclockwise from a position as shown in FIG. 22.

If an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 in this state, an upper end of the stopper 90 is located in the path of the lower end of the engagement projection 93. That is, if an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 when the dust collecting apparatus 107 is not accommodated in the dust collecting chamber 109 and the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is not fixed to the engagement member 41, the lower end of the engagement projection 93 abuts against an upper end face of the stopper 90 to prevent the closing of the dust cover 113. The stopper 90 has projections 95 projecting upward from front and rear edges of the upper end face thereof. Thus, even if an external force is further applied to the dust cover 113 in a closing direction with the lower end of the engagement projection 93 in abutment against the upper end face of the stopper 90, the projections 95 prevent the engagement projection 93 from forwardly or rearwardly riding over the stopper 90.

FIG. 23 is a sectional view taken along the line E-E in FIG. 21 with the disposable filter 40 mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner 11C.

The stopper 90 is located in an insertion path along which the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40 is inserted. When the cardboard base 40A is slid downward along the guide members 46 to mount the disposable filter 40, the front face of the cardboard base 40A is brought into sliding contact with a rear face of the stopper 90. Thus, the stopper 90 is rotated clockwise from a position (initial position) shown in FIG. 22 against the biasing force of the compression coil spring 94 by an action force from the disposable filter 40 (cardboard base 40A) during the mounting of the disposable filter 40. With the disposable filter 40 thus mounted, as shown in FIG. 23, the entire rear face of the stopper 90 abuts against the front face of the cardboard base 40A of the disposable filter 40. If an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 in this state, the closing of the dust cover 113 is permitted without the abutment of the lower end face of the engagement projection 93 against the upper end face of the stopper 90.

FIG. 24 is a sectional view of the electric vacuum cleaner 101C taken along the horizontal plane and seen from the upper side with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted therein. FIG. 25 is a sectional view taken along a line F-F in FIG. 24 with the dust collecting apparatus 107 mounted in the electric vacuum cleaner 101C.

As described with reference to FIGS. 8 to 10, the rib 72 extending vertically (in the direction of the insertion of the dust collecting apparatus 107) projects forward from the front face of the dust collecting apparatus 107 (casing 52) on the lateral side (right side) of the inlet 50. The stopper 90 is located in an insertion path along which the rib 72 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 is inserted. When the dust collecting apparatus 107 is slid downward to be mounted, the distal end face (front end face) of the rib 72 is brought into sliding contact with the rear face of the stopper 90. Thus, the stopper 90 is rotated clockwise from the position (initial position) shown in FIG. 22 against the biasing force of the compression coil spring 94 by the action force from the dust collecting apparatus 107 (rib 72) during the mounting of the dust collecting apparatus 107. With the dust collecting apparatus 107 thus mounted, as shown in FIG. 25, the entire distal end face of the rib 72 of the dust collecting apparatus 107 abuts against the rear face of the stopper 90. If an attempt is made to close the dust cover 113 in this state, the closing of the dust cover 113 is permitted without the abutment of the lower end face of the engagement projection 93 against the upper end face of the stopper 90.

With this arrangement, the dust cover 113 can be closed when either the dust collecting apparatus 107 or the disposable filter 40 is mounted. However, the dust cover 113 cannot be closed when neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 is mounted. Therefore, the start of the operation of the electric vacuum cleaner 101C is prevented with neither the dust collecting apparatus 107 nor the disposable filter 40 mounted. Thus, the electric vacuum cleaner 101C is more convenient to use.

The biasing means for applying the biasing force to the stopper 90 is not limited to the compression coil spring 94, but any other resilient member may be used as the biasing means.

In the embodiments described above, the electric vacuum cleaners have been described, which include the connection hose attached to the main body and are operated by handling the connection hose while dragging the main body. However, the present invention is of course applicable to a so-called upright electric vacuum cleaner.

FIG. 26 is a vertical sectional view of an upright electric vacuum cleaner 300 to which the present invention is applied, the vertical sectional view being seen from a right side. The upright electric vacuum cleaner 300 includes a vertically elongated main body 301, a handle 302 connected to an upper portion of the main body 301, and a suction head 303 projecting from a lower front portion of the main body 301. An electric fan 304 is incorporated in a lower portion of the main body 301. A removable dust collecting apparatus 305 is attached to a back side of the main body 301. The dust collecting apparatus 305 has a suction port 306, a cyclonic flow path 307 for swirling air sucked from the suction port 306 to separate dust from the air by a centrifugal force, a dust collecting chamber 308 in which the separated dust is collected, an air outlet port 310 provided in a wall (front wall) of the dust collecting chamber 308 as having a great size, and a filter 311 attached to the air outlet port 310.

The dust collecting apparatus 305 can be detached from the main body 301 by holding a handle 312 and pivoting an upper portion of the apparatus 305 rearward about a lower edge of the apparatus 305.

FIG. 27 is a back view of the main body 301 with the dust collecting apparatus 305 detached.

Referring to FIGS. 26 and 27, the main body 301 has an inner wall 313 which is opposed to the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 of the dust collecting apparatus 305 when the dust collecting apparatus 305 is attached. The inner wall 313 is positioned vertically, and includes an upper wall 314 and a lower wall 315. As shown in FIG. 26, the upper wall 314 is located slightly forward of the lower wall 315 in the main body 301, and the lower wall 315 is stepped slightly rearward with respect to the upper wall 314. The upper wall 314 is opposed to upper portions of the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 of the dust collecting apparatus 305, and the lower wall 315 is opposed to lower portions of the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 of the dust collecting apparatus 305. The upper wall 314 has a multiplicity of openings 316. That is, the upper wall 314 permits passage of air through the openings 316, but the lower wall 315 does not permit air passage.

An air flow path 317 is defined in a front portion (on the left side in FIG. 26) of the main body 301 partitioned by the inner wall 313, and communicates with a lower flow path 318. When the electric fan 304 performs a sucking operation, the air entering the dust collecting apparatus 305 flows through the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 into the flow path 317 from the openings 316 of the upper wall 314, and is discharged out of the main body 301 through the flow path 318.

In this embodiment, with the dust collecting apparatus 305 attached to the main body 301, a guide passage 319 is defined between the lower wall 315 of the inner wall 313 of the main body 301 and the portions of the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 of the dust collecting apparatus 305 opposed to the lower wall 315. The guide passage 319 which has a small width increases the flow rate of the air passing through the guide passage 319. When the air flows forward (leftward in FIG. 26) from the dust collecting chamber 308 through the lower portions of the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311, the air swiftly flows upward through the guide passage 319 and smoothly flows into the flow paths 317, 318 through the multiplicity of openings 316 of the upper wall 314. This is because the narrow guide passage 319 is provided in front of the filter 311.

Although the air outlet port 310 and the filter 311 are not entirely opposed to the openings 316 of the inner wall 313, the air flows from the dust collecting chamber 308 through the entire air outlet port 310 and the entire filter 311 toward the inner wall 313 of the main body 301, and is properly discharged out of the electric vacuum cleaner through the flow paths 317, 318.

FIG. 28 is a right side view of the dust collecting apparatus 305 detached from the main body 301. FIG. 29 is a front view of the dust collecting apparatus 305 with a filter cover 320 being opened. In FIG. 29, a reference numeral 308 denotes the dust collecting chamber. The air outlet port 310 which has a great size is provided in a front wall 309 of the dust collecting chamber 308. The filter cover 320 is attached to a lower side of the air outlet port 310 to be opened pivotally about an axis 321. The filter cover 320 has ribs 322, 323, and the filter 311 (not shown in FIG. 29) is held by the ribs 322, 323.

Thus, the present invention is applicable to the upright electric vacuum cleaner.

It should be understood that the present invention be not limited to the embodiments described above, but various modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention defined by the appended claims.

This application corresponds to Japanese Patent Application No. 2004-217798 filed with the Japanese Patent Office on Jul. 26, 2004, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.