Title:
Motorized oven door latch assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A compact, reliable motorized oven door latch assembly utilizes a latch that pivotally connects to a motor at an axis that is offset from the motor's axis. The latch includes a latch guide that is guided by a slot in a housing of the assembly. Rotation of the motor moves the latch between open and closed positions. A cam rotationally engages the motor and includes axially disposed cam surfaces that interact with side-by-side switches to sense when the latch is open and closed. The assembly includes a reusable release/service feature that allows the latch to be opened without operation of the motor if the latch becomes stuck in the closed position. The service feature includes a resiliently deformable flange that defines part of the guide surface.



Inventors:
Priest, William (West Harford, CT, US)
Whitbourne, Peta-gaye (Avon, CT, US)
Castrogiovanni, Robert (Bristol, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/976362
Publication Date:
05/04/2006
Filing Date:
10/29/2004
Assignee:
THE STANLEY WORKS (New Britain, CT, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C15/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080202501Portable Freestanding StoveAugust, 2008Sosnowski
20090078176Wood-Pellet Cogeneration Unit With Stirling Engine in Condensing TechnologyMarch, 2009Weber
20070240704Thin Film Trough Solar CollectorOctober, 2007Prueitt
20090205633SIMULATED FIRE GLOW LIGHTS FOR FIREPLACEAugust, 2009Hussong et al.
20050056268Gas burner for a cooking applianceMarch, 2005Panchapagesan et al.
20060144585Exhaust gas heat exchanger for cogeneration systemJuly, 2006Ha et al.
20090000609Cooking grill with electrically driven variable height fire boxJanuary, 2009Hale
20080256953Solar Energy Trap and TurbineOctober, 2008Arkas et al.
20040055590Barbeque apparatusMarch, 2004Warnick et al.
20050115556Turkey fryer/outdoor cooker wind and fire guardJune, 2005Carson et al.
20060150963Camping tube grillJuly, 2006Barron



Primary Examiner:
ESTREMSKY, GARY WAYNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP (McLean, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An oven door latch assembly for locking an oven door in a closed position, the assembly comprising: a housing; a motor mounted to the housing, the motor including an output shaft that defines a motor axis; and an oven door latch pivotally connected to the output shaft at a latch axis that is offset from the motor axis, the latch being pivotable relative to the output shaft about the latch axis, wherein rotational movement of the output shaft moves the oven door latch between open and closed positions.

2. The oven door latch assembly of claim 1, further comprising: a cam mounted to the output shaft to rotate with the output shaft about the motor axis, the cam having a first cam surface that faces a direction parallel to the motor axis; and a first switch disposed on the housing and positioned to be actuated by the first cam surface.

3. The oven door latch assembly of claim 2, wherein the oven door latch pivotally connects to the output shaft via a pivotal connection between the cam and oven door latch.

4. The oven door latch assembly of claim 2, wherein the cam further comprises a second cam surface that faces a direction parallel to the motor axis, and wherein the assembly further comprises a second switch disposed on the housing and positioned to be actuated by the second cam surface.

5. The oven door latch assembly of claim 4, wherein the first cam surface is disposed farther from the motor axis than the second cam surface.

6. The oven door latch assembly of claim 4, wherein the first cam surface and first switch are positioned such that the first cam surface actuates the first switch when the oven door latch is in the closed position.

7. The oven door latch assembly of claim 6, wherein the second cam surface and second switch are positioned such that the second cam surface actuates the second switch when the oven door latch is in the open position.

8. The oven door latch assembly of claim 2, further comprising: a guide surface disposed on one of the housing and the oven door latch; and a latch guide disposed on the other of the housing and the oven door latch, wherein abutting contact between the latch guide and guide surface guides the oven door latch as it moves between the open and closed positions.

9. The oven door latch assembly of claim 8, wherein the guide surface is disposed on the housing and the latch guide is disposed on the oven door latch.

10. The oven door latch assembly of claim 9, wherein the latch guide and oven door latch are integrally formed.

11. The oven door latch assembly of claim 9, wherein the guide surface is defined by a slot in the housing.

12. The oven door latch assembly of claim 8, further comprising a deformable element that defines a portion of the guide surface, wherein the deformable element is deformable in a direction that allows the oven door latch to move from the closed position into the open position without rotation of the output shaft.

13. The oven door latch assembly of claim 2, in combination with an oven comprising an oven door having open and closed positions, wherein the assembly locks the oven door closed when the oven door is closed and the latch moves from its open to its closed position, and wherein the latch permits the oven door to be opened when the latch is in its open position.

14. A method of making an oven door latch assembly for locking an oven door in a closed position, the method comprising: mounting a motor to a housing, wherein the motor includes an output shaft that defines a motor axis; providing a guide surface on the housing, integrally forming a latch guide with an oven door latch; and pivotally connecting the oven door latch to the output shaft at a latch axis that is offset from the motor axis, wherein the pivotal connection allows the latch to pivot relative to the output shaft about the latch axis, wherein rotational movement of the output shaft moves the oven door latch between open and closed positions, wherein the cam track has a guide surface, and wherein the latch guide abuts and is guided by the guide surface as the oven door latch moves between the open and closed positions.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein integrally forming the latch guide with the oven door latch comprises stamping the latch guide into the oven door latch.

16. An oven door latch assembly for locking an oven door in a closed position, the assembly comprising: a housing; a motor carried by the housing, the motor including an output shaft that defines a motor axis; an oven door latch pivotally connected to the output shaft at a latch axis that is offset from the motor axis, the pivotal connection allowing the latch to pivot relative to the output shaft about the latch axis, wherein rotational movement of the output shaft moves the oven door latch between open and closed positions; a latch guide integrally formed with the oven door latch; and a cam track disposed on the housing and having a guide surface, wherein the latch guide abuts and is guided by the guide surface as the oven door latch moves between the open and closed positions.

17. The oven door latch assembly of claim 16, wherein the cam track and guide surface are defined by a slot in the housing.

18. The oven door latch assembly of claim 16, wherein the latch guide is stamped into the oven door latch.

19. The oven door latch assembly of claim 16, wherein the latch guide is one of stamped into, molded with, or cast with the oven door latch.

20. The oven door latch assembly of claim 16, in combination with an oven comprising an oven door having open and closed positions, wherein the assembly locks the oven door closed when the oven door is closed and the latch moves from its open to its closed position, and wherein the latch permits the oven door to be opened when the latch is in its open position.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to latch mechanisms, and particularly relates to motorized latches that are used to lock oven doors shut during high temperature self cleaning operations.

2. Description of Related Art

In self-cleaning ovens, it is advantageous that the oven door be latched against inadvertent opening during such period of time as the oven is at a high temperature. Various types of manual and motorized latches have been proposed for this application, and it is now customary to include some form of thermostatically controlled mechanism to prevent unwanted or inadvertent opening of the door.

Conventional motorized oven door latch mechanisms are often bulky, which makes it difficult to incorporate such mechanisms into oven designs. Conventional latch mechanisms are also frequently mechanically complex, which makes them expensive to manufacture and prone to failure during operation in the extremely hot environment of an oven.

If a motorized oven door latch mechanism breaks while in the closed position (for example, due to motor failure), it is difficult to open the locked oven door to repair the oven door latch mechanism. It is known in the art to provide a single-use release/service feature to allow the latch to be opened. As illustrated in FIG. 5 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,336, a J-shaped guide slot 28 is formed in a housing of the oven latch. During normal operation of the latch, the relatively straight portion of the “J” defines a cam surface that the latch arm 14 follows between open and closed positions. When the latch arm 14 is in the closed position illustrated in FIG. 5, the latch arm 14 may be forced open by applying force to the latch arm 14, which permanently deforms or breaks the piece of metal that defines the inside curvature of the “J” to allow the latch arm 14 to move into the open position. Unfortunately, the entire mechanism must be replaced after such permanent deformation of the guide slot 28.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, one aspect of one or more embodiments of this invention provides a simple, cost-effective, reliable, compact motorized oven door latch mechanism.

Another aspect of one or more embodiments of this invention provides a motorized oven door latch mechanism with a reusable release/service feature that allows an operator to open an oven door that is locked closed without breaking the oven door latch mechanism.

Another aspect of one or more embodiments of this invention provides an oven door latch assembly for locking an oven door in a closed position. The assembly includes a housing and a motor mounted to the housing. The motor includes an output shaft that defines a motor axis. The assembly also includes an oven door latch pivotally connected to the output shaft at a latch axis that is offset from the motor axis. The latch is pivotable relative to the output shaft about the latch axis. Rotational movement of the output shaft moves the oven door latch between open and closed positions.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the assembly also includes a cam mounted to the output shaft to rotate with the output shaft about the motor axis. The cam has a first cam surface that faces a direction parallel to the motor axis. The assembly also includes a first switch disposed on the housing and positioned to be actuated by the first cam surface.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the oven door latch pivotally connects to the output shaft via a pivotal connection between the cam and oven door latch.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the cam includes a second cam surface that faces a direction parallel to the motor axis. The assembly further includes a second switch disposed on the housing and positioned to be actuated by the second cam surface. The first cam surface may be disposed farther from the motor axis than the second cam surface. The first cam surface and first switch may be positioned such that the first cam surface actuates the first switch when the oven door latch is in the closed position. The second cam surface and second switch may be positioned such that the second cam surface actuates the second switch when the oven door latch is in the open position.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the assembly also includes a guide surface disposed on one of the housing and the oven door latch, and a latch guide disposed on the other of the housing and the oven door latch. Abutting contact between the latch guide and guide surface guides the oven door latch as it moves between the open and closed positions. The guide surface may be disposed on the housing and the latch guide may be disposed on the oven door latch.

The latch guide and oven door latch may be integrally formed. The latch guide may be stamped into, molded with, or cast with the oven door latch.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the guide surface is defined by a slot in the housing.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the assembly also includes an elastically deformable element that defines a portion of the guide surface, wherein the elastically deformable element is elastically deformable in a direction that allows the oven door latch to move from the closed position into the open position without rotation of the output shaft.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the assembly is incorporated into an oven. The oven has an oven door with open and closed positions. The assembly locks the oven door closed when the oven door is closed and the latch moves from its open to its closed position. The latch permits the oven door to be opened when the latch is in its open position.

According to a further aspect of one or more of these embodiments, the assembly includes a flange disposed on the housing. The flange defines a portion of the guide surface. The flange is elastically deformable in a direction that allows the oven door latch to move from the closed position into the open position without rotation of the output shaft.

Another aspect of one or more embodiments of the present invention provides a method of making an oven door latch assembly for locking an oven door in a closed position. The method includes mounting a motor to a housing. The motor includes an output shaft that defines a motor axis. The method also includes providing a guide surface on the housing and integrally forming a latch guide with an oven door latch. The method also includes pivotally connecting the oven door latch to the output shaft at a latch axis that is offset from the motor axis. The pivotal connection allows the latch to pivot relative to the output shaft about the latch axis. Rotational movement of the output shaft moves the oven door latch between open and closed positions. The cam track has a guide surface. The latch guide abuts and is guided by the guide surface as the oven door latch moves between the open and closed positions. According to a further aspect of one of these embodiments, integrally forming the latch guide with the oven door latch includes stamping the latch guide into the oven door latch.

Additional and/or alternative advantages and salient features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, disclose preferred embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings which from a part of this original disclosure:

FIG. 1 is a front, right, perspective view of an oven door latch assembly according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a partially cut away, right side view thereof;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view thereof;

FIG. 4A is a top view of a cam of the oven door latch assembly in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4B is a side view of the cam in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 4C is a bottom view of the cam in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5 is a partially-cross-sectional bottom view of the oven door latch assembly in FIG. 1 incorporated into an oven, with the latch in a closed position;

FIG. 6 is a partially-cross-sectional bottom view of the oven door latch assembly in FIG. 1 incorporated into an oven, with the latch in an open position;

FIG. 7 is a partially-cross-sectional bottom view of the oven door latch assembly in FIG. 1 incorporated into an oven, with the latch in an open released position; and

FIG. 8 is a partial bottom perspective view of the latch in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-3 illustrate an oven door latch assembly 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. As best shown in FIG. 3, the assembly 10 comprises a housing 20, a motor 30, a cam 40, an oven door latch 50, and two switches 60, 70. The illustrated housing 20 is designed to be mounted to an oven via any suitable fastening mechanism (e.g., bolts, screws, glue, integral formation, etc.). Alternatively, the housing may be integrally formed with a portion of the oven.

The motor 30 is an A/C synchronous motor, but may alternatively comprise any other suitable motor (e.g., D/C motor, hydraulic motor, etc.). The motor 30 preferably has enough torque that an additional gear train is not required to drive the assembly 10. Omission of such a conventional gear train, such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,220,153, enables the assembly 10 to be smaller, cheaper, and more reliable than conventional latch mechanisms.

As shown in FIG. 3, the motor 30 has a rotatable output shaft 100 that engages a corresponding hole 110 in the cam 40 so that the cam 40 rotates with the output shaft 100 about an axis 120 of the motor 30. As shown in FIGS. 3, 4A, and 4C, the illustrated output shaft 100 and hole 110 have mating double-D cross-sections, but may alternatively have any other suitable cross-sections or may be otherwise engaged to enable the cam 40 to be driven for rotation by the motor 30 (e.g., through a keyway, clamping screw, etc.).

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4C, the latch 50 pivotally connects to the cam 40 via a pivot pin 150 that fits into corresponding holes 160, 170 in the cam 40 and latch 50, respectively. As shown in FIG. 4C, the holes 160, 170 and pivot pin 150 define a latch pivot axis 180 that is offset from the motor axis 120. As a result, the latch 50 pivotally connects to the output shaft 100 at a position that is offset from the motor axis 120. The latch 50 can freely pivot relative to the cam 40 and output shaft 100 about the latch pivot axis 180. While the cam 40 creates the offset pivotal connection between the latch 50 and the output shaft 100 in the illustrated embodiment, the offset pivotal connection may alternatively comprise a direct connection between the latch 50 and an enlarged output shaft or other suitable mechanism without deviating from the scope of the present invention.

Pivotally connecting the latch 50 to the output shaft 100 (either directly or indirectly through the cam 40) eliminates the need for an intermediary connecting rod, such as those shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,302,098 and 6,315,336.

As shown in FIG. 5, a latch guide 200 extends downwardly from a central portion of the latch 50. The illustrated latch guide 50 comprises a pin, but may alternatively comprise any other suitable shape. As shown in FIG. 8, the illustrated latch guide 200 is circular and is stamped into the latch 50 such that the guide 200 and latch 50 are integrally formed from one piece. The latch guide 200 therefore forms a large cylindrically shaped dimple in the latch 50. However, the guide 200 and latch 50 may alternatively be integrally formed using any other suitable manufacturing technique (e.g., integral casting, molding, etc.). Alternatively, the latch guide 200 and latch 50 may be separately formed and subsequently secured to each other (e.g., via welding, threaded engagement, bolts, screws, glue, etc.) without deviating from the scope of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 5, a cam track 210 is formed in the housing 20. In the illustrated embodiment, the cam track 210 is a slot that is die stamped into the housing 20. The cam track has a curved cam/guide surface 220 that abuts the latch guide 200. While the illustrated cam track 210 is die stamped into the housing 20, the cam track 210 may alternatively be separately formed and subsequently mounted to the housing 20 (e.g., a curved rail mounted to the housing 20). Similarly, while the cam track 210 relies on a slot to define the curved cam surface 220, the cam track 210 may alternatively comprise a rail or other similar structure that creates the curved guide surface 220.

While the illustrated curved cam surface 220 is disposed on the housing 20 and the latch guide 200 is disposed on the latch 50, the curved cam surface 220 may alternatively be defined by a slot in the latch 50 and the latch guide 200 may be disposed on the housing 20 without deviating from the scope of the present invention.

Rotational movement of the motor 30 moves the latch 50 between an open position (see FIG. 6) and a closed position (see FIG. 5). The curved cam surface 220 guides the latch guide 200 and latch 50 between the open and closed positions as the motor 30 moves the latch via the offset pivotal connection. When the latch 50 is in the open position shown in FIG. 6, it is constructed and arranged to allow opening and closing of an associated oven door 240 of an oven 245. Conversely, as shown in FIG. 5, when the oven door 240 is closed and the latch 50 moves into its closed position, a catch plate 230 on the latch 50 engages a matching plate 250 of the oven door 240 to prevent the oven door 240 from opening relative to the oven 245. In the illustrated embodiment, the motor 30 rotates the output shaft 100 in a single direction such that continuous rotation of the output shaft 100 cycles the latch 50 between its open and closed positions. Alternatively, the motor 30 could operate in opposing opening and closing directions such that the motor does not rotate a full 360 degrees.

As shown in FIG. 5, the latch assembly 10 includes a reusable service/release feature that allows the latch 50 to be opened when the latch 50 is in the closed position without actuation of the motor 30. Such a service feature enables a service person to gain access to the otherwise locked oven 245 if the latch assembly 10 fails (e.g., due to motor 30 failure) while the latch 50 is in the closed position. The service feature comprises a flange 260 that defines a portion of the curved cam surface 220 and a portion of the cam track 210. The flange 260 may be peninsula-shaped as shown and is resiliently (i.e. elastically) deformable in a direction (to the left as shown in FIG. 5) that allows the oven door latch 50 to move from the closed position into the open position without rotation of the output shaft 100. Alternatively, the flange 260 may be plastically deformable such that the flange 260 may be bent back into shape after it is deformed to allow the latch 50 to be opened.

To use the release feature, a service person uses a tool 265 such as that illustrated in FIG. 2 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,302,098, hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, to apply force to the latch 50 in the manner described that patent. As shown in FIG. 7, when a sufficient leftward force is applied to the closed latch 50, the latch guide 200 deforms the flange 260 to the left, thereby allowing the latch 50 to move to the left, which releases the latch 50 from the plate 250 of the oven door 240.

The open position illustrated in FIG. 7 places the latch 50 in a different position than the open position of the latch 50 during normal operation of the assembly 10 (see FIG. 6). The term “open position” is used throughout this specification and claims to identify any position of the latch 50 in which the latch 50 does not lock the oven door 240 shut.

Deformation of the flange 260 in one embodiment requires at least 10 pounds of force and in another embodiment requires about 20 pounds of force so that the latch 50 does not accidentally deform the flange 260 and move into the open position.

The deformation of the flange 260 is elastic such that when the latch 50 is released after opening the oven door 240, the flange 260 returns to its original shape and position (shown in solid lines in FIG. 5). Consequently, use of the release/service feature does not break the assembly 10, as is the case in conventional release features that rely on plastic/permanent deformation (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,336), hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The illustrated flange 260 is integrally formed with the housing 20. The housing 20 and flange 260 therefore preferably comprise a strong, resiliently deformable material. Alternatively, the flange 260 may be discrete from the housing 20 and comprise a material with specifically chosen elastic deformation properties (e.g., spring steel, rubber, etc.).

The assembly 10 includes sensors that determine whether the latch 50 is open or closed. As shown in FIG. 1, the switches 60, 70 are mounted side-by-side to the housing 20. The side-by-side mounting simplifies electrical connection to the oven by facilitating the use of a single electric terminal block connector that connects to both switches 60, 70. As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4A, and 4B, two cam surfaces 400, 410 are disposed on opposing radial sides of an upwardly facing axial end of the cam 40. Accordingly, the cam surfaces 400, 410 face a direction that is parallel to the motor axis 120. The inner cam surface 400 and inner switch 60 are disposed an equal distance from the motor axis 120 so that the cam surface 400 actuates the switch 60 when the cam surface 400 passes the switch 60. The hole 160 and pivot axis 180 are positioned on the cam 40 such that the cam surface 400 actuates the switch 60 when the latch 50 is in the open position.

The outer cam surface 410 and outer switch 70 are disposed an equal distance from the motor axis 120 so that the cam surface 410 actuates the switch 70 when the cam surface 410 passes the switch 70, which occurs when the latch 50 is in the closed position. Consequently, actuation of the switch 70 indicates to the oven that the latch 50 is closed so that the oven can safely initiate a self-cleaning cycle. Conversely, actuation of the switch 60 indicates to the oven that the latch 50 is in the open position, that the oven door could be opened, and that self-cleaning should not be initiated or should be halted.

The cam surface 410 and switch 70 are disposed farther from the motor axis 120 than the cam surface 400 and switch 60 so that the inner cam surface 400 does not actuate the outer switch 70 and the outer cam surface 410 does not actuate the inner switch 60. Alternatively, all four switches 60, 70, and cam surfaces 400, 410 could be disposed an equal distance from the motor axis 120. In such an embodiment, the cam surfaces could extend to different vertical positions to selectively actuate vertically offset switches.

Positioning the cam surfaces 400, 410 on the upper axial end of the cam 40 allows the switches 60, 70 to be mounted to the housing 20 in a compact position, which is closer to the motor 30 than is possible in conventional latch sensors that rely on circumferentially disposed cam surfaces (e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,220,153 and 6,315,336).

While two switches 60, 70 and two cam surfaces 400, 410 are illustrated, a single cam surface and switch could alternatively be used. The cam surface and switch could be sized and positioned such that the switch is actuated when the latch 50 is closed and released when the latch 50 is open, or vice-versa. Alternatively, a single cam surface could actuate two switches that are appropriately circumferentially spaced around the motor to indicate that the latch 50 is open or closed. Moreover, the switches 60, 70 and cam surfaces 400, 410 may be replaced by any other suitable sensor mechanism that is capable of detecting whether the latch is open or closed without deviating from the scope of the present invention.

The foregoing description is included to illustrate the operation of the preferred embodiments and is not meant to limit the scope of the invention. To the contrary, those skilled in the art should appreciate that varieties may be constructed and employed without departing from the scope of the invention, aspects of which are recited by the claims appended hereto.