Title:
Movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In order to provide a movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening, in particular in a sink or a washstand, which is adapted to be operated in a simple and reliable manner and permits of a large degree of flexibility in regard to the design of the sink and the connections to the sink or the washstand, it is proposed that the movement mechanism comprise an electrically operated drive element.



Inventors:
Von Mertz, Gert Spruner (Eppingen, DE)
Bittger, Dirk (Karlsruhe, DE)
Application Number:
11/321683
Publication Date:
07/20/2006
Filing Date:
12/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/26; A47K1/14; E03C1/23; E03C1/242
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANLEY, FLIGHT & ZIMMERMAN, LLC (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening, in particular a waste outlet opening of a sink or a washstand, wherein the movement mechanism comprises an electrically operated drive element.

2. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises an electric motor.

3. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises an electrically operated servomotor.

4. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises an electromagnet.

5. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 4, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a coupling device by means of which a linear movement of an element of the electromagnet is convertible into a rotary movement.

6. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 5, wherein the coupling device comprises a Bowden cable.

7. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a control device for controlling the drive element.

8. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 7, wherein the control device comprises a programmable controller, in particular a micro-controller.

9. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises at least one actuating element for initiating a movement of the closure element.

10. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 9, wherein the actuating element comprises a switch, in particular a push-button switch.

11. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 9, wherein the actuating element comprises a capacitive sensor.

12. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 11, wherein the actuating element comprises a cover for the sensor, preferably on the viewing side.

13. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 12, wherein the cover is formed from a dielectric material.

14. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 9, wherein the actuating element comprises a pressure-sensitive sensor.

15. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 14, wherein the actuating element comprises a piezoelectric sensor.

16. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 14, wherein the actuating element comprises a cover which is moveable relative to a sink or relative to a washstand.

17. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 9, wherein the actuating element comprises at least two sensors which have detection regions that differ from one another, wherein a movement of the closure element is initiated if one of the sensors responds and the respective other sensor does not respond.

18. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 9, wherein the actuating element comprises at least one sensor having adjustable sensitivity.

19. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a sensor arranged in a housing.

20. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a plurality of drive elements for moving a respective closure element of a waste outlet opening.

21. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 20, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a plurality of actuating elements, wherein each actuating element is adapted to initiate the movement of a respective closure element associated with said actuating element.

22. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 20, wherein the movement mechanism comprises at least one actuating element with the aid of which the movement of one of at least two closure elements is adapted to be selectively initiated.

23. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 22, wherein the actuating element can be actuated in at least two mutually differing manners, wherein each manner of actuation initiates a respective movement of a closure element that is associated with the manner of actuation concerned.

24. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 23, wherein at least two of the manners of actuation of the actuating element differ in regard to the duration of the effect produced by a user on the actuating element.

25. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 23, wherein at least two of the manners of actuation differ from one another in regard to the number of successive times that an effect is produced by the user on the actuating element within a given time interval.

26. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises at least one overflow sensor which initiates a movement of the closure element associated with the basin concerned upon a given level being reached in a basin of a sink or a washstand.

27. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 26, wherein the drive element is controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into an open position if the level in the basin exceeds a first threshold value, and wherein it moves the closure element into a closed position if the level in the basin falls below a second threshold value, wherein the second threshold value is lower than the first threshold value.

28. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 27, wherein the overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level in the basin lies above the first threshold value or below the second threshold value.

29. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 27, wherein at least two overflow sensors are arranged on the basin, wherein a first overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the first threshold value, and a second overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies below the second threshold value.

30. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 26, wherein the drive element is controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into a first open position if the level in the basin exceeds a first threshold value, and wherein it moves the closure element into a second open position if the level in the basin exceeds a second threshold value, wherein the second threshold value lies above the first threshold value and the waste outlet opening is opened to a further extent in the second open position than in the first open position.

31. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 30, wherein the overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level in the basin lies above the first threshold value or above the second threshold value.

32. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 30, wherein at least two overflow sensors are arranged on the basin, wherein a first overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the first threshold value, and a second overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the second threshold value.

33. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 26, wherein the drive element is controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into an open position and leaves it in the open position for a given minimum period of opening if the level in the basin exceeds a threshold value.

34. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 33, wherein the drive element is controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into a closed position at the expiration of the minimum period of opening if the level in the basin falls below the threshold value at the expiration of the minimum period of opening.

35. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 26, wherein at least two overflow sensors are arranged on the basin, wherein a movement of the closure element is initiated by the drive element only if at least two of these overflow sensors indicate that there is an increased level in the basin.

36. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 35, wherein the at least two overflow sensors are arranged on mutually differing side walls of the basin.

37. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises a signalling device incorporating a signal generator which produces a signal that is perceptible to the user when the closure element is moved by means of the drive element.

38. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 37, wherein the signalling device produces a signal that is perceptible to a user when the closure element is moved as a result of a signal from an overflow sensor.

39. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 37, wherein the signalling device comprises an optical signal generator.

40. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 37, wherein the signalling device comprises an acoustic signal generator.

41. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 37, wherein the signal generator is arranged on the lower surface of a sink or a washstand.

42. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 37, wherein the signal generator produces at least two, preferably at least three, different signals which are associated with different operative states of the movement mechanism.

43. A movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises at least one actuating element for initiating a movement of the closure element and a control device which is connected to the actuating element and can be switched into a “Teach” mode, in which a manner of actuating the actuating element that is preferred by a user can be set.

44. A sink or washstand, comprising at least one waste outlet opening and a closure element for sealing the at least one waste outlet opening, wherein the sink or the washstand comprises a movement mechanism in accordance with claim 1.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation application of PCT/EP2004/007830 filed Jul. 15, 2004, the entire specification of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF DISCLOSURE

The present invention relates to a movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening, in particular a waste outlet opening of a sink or a washstand.

BACKGROUND

Known sinks are provided with a mechanical movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening of the sink wherein the mechanism comprises a rotary operating knob that is provided on the upper surface of the sink and causes a movement of the closure element from an open position into a closed position or in the reverse direction when it is rotated by a user of the sink. Hereby, the rotary motion of the rotary operating knob is converted into a linear motion of the closure element by means of a cable-pull connection for example.

However, such a cable-pull connection has the disadvantage that twisting of the cable due to an adverse mounting position can make the operation of the rotary operating knob considerably more difficult. Furthermore, the cable-pull connection limits the possibilities in regard to the design of the pipe-work connections to the sink. Moreover, a rotary operating knob projecting above the upper surface of the sink presents an obstruction to the cleaning of the sink and enables lime, dirt and bacteria to accumulate. In some circumstances, the rotary operating knob projecting above the upper surface of the sink may also have an adverse effect upon the overall aesthetic appearance of the sink.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Consequently, the object of the present invention is to provide a movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing a waste outlet opening of a sink or a washstand which is operable in a simple and reliable manner and which permits of a large degree of flexibility in regard to the design of the sink and the connections to the sink or the washstand.

In accordance with the invention, this object is achieved in the case of a movement mechanism incorporating the features indicated in the preamble of Claim 1 in that the movement mechanism comprises an electrically operated drive element.

Due to the fact that the movement of the closure element from the open position into the closed position or in the reverse direction is effected by means of an electrically operated drive element, the result obtained thereby is that the power required to move the closure element no longer has to be applied by the user through the operation of an actuating element, a rotary operating knob for example, but rather this driving power is produced independently of the user by the electrically operated drive element. This permits a more ergonomic, simple and safe operation of the movement mechanism, in particular, even if the user has wet hands.

Since, in the case of the movement mechanism in accordance with the invention, a mechanical drive train no longer has to be extended from a rotary operating knob to the closure element, the movement mechanism is easier to install and is more flexible in regard to the design of the disposition, alignment and construction of its components.

When the closure element reaches one of its end positions, the movement mechanism can be switched off by means of a limit switch.

In particular, provision may be made for the movement mechanism to comprise an electric motor.

Preferably, provision is made for the movement mechanism to comprise an electrically operated servomotor.

The electric motor can be provided with a reduction gear, and in particular with a spur gear in order to obtain a relatively slow movement of the closure element as is generally preferred by users of the sink or the washstand.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may be made for the movement mechanism to comprise an electromagnet.

In particular, provision may be made for the electromagnet to comprise a moveable element which is moveable from a first end position that is associated with the open position of the closure element into a second end position that is associated with the closed position of the closure element.

Furthermore, provision may be made for the movement mechanism to comprise a coupling device by means of which a linear movement of an element of the electromagnet is convertible into a rotary movement.

In particular, provision may be made for such a coupling device to comprise a Bowden cable.

Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment of the movement mechanism in accordance with the invention, provision is made for the movement mechanism to comprise a control device for controlling the drive element.

An especially high degree of flexibility in regard to the possibilities for operating and controlling the movement mechanism is obtained, if the control device comprises a programmable controller, and in particular, a micro-controller.

Furthermore, provision is preferably made for the movement mechanism to comprise at least one actuating element for initiating a movement of the closure element.

Such an actuating element may comprise a switch for example, and in particular a push-button switch.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, such an actuating element can comprise a capacitive sensor for example.

In a preferred embodiment of such an actuating element, provision is made for the actuating element to comprise a cover for the sensor, preferably on the viewing side.

In order to ensure that a change of capacitance in the region above the cover is detectable by the sensor, provision is advantageously made for the cover to be formed from a dielectric material.

As an alternative to or in addition to a capacitive sensor, provision may also be made for the actuating element to comprise a pressure-sensitive sensor.

In particular, provision may be made for the actuating element to comprise a piezoelectric sensor.

In order to prevent false triggering of a pressure-sensitive sensor due to pressure being applied to the sink outside the detection region of the sensor, provision may be made for the actuating element to comprise a cover which is moveable relative to the sink or the washstand. The application of pressure to the cover then causes the pressure-sensitive sensor to respond, whereas the cover which is moveable relative to the sink or the washstand is decoupled from the sink or the washstand in such a way that false triggering due to pressure being applied to another part of the sink or the washstand is not possible.

In order to prevent false triggering of the actuating element due to large objects being placed on the sink or the washstand and/or due to water standing on the upper surface of the sink or the washstand, provision is made in a preferred embodiment of the movement mechanism for the actuating element to comprise at least two sensors which have detection regions that differ from one another, wherein a movement of the closure element is then initiated if one of the sensors responds and the respective other sensor does not respond.

Furthermore, in order to prevent false triggering of the actuating element, it is of advantage, if the actuating element comprises at least one sensor of adjustable sensitivity.

The sensitivity can be adjusted either at the sensor itself or by means of the control device for the movement mechanism.

In order to protect a sensor from humidity and dirt, provision may be made for the movement mechanism to comprise a sensor arranged in a housing.

In preferred embodiments of the movement mechanism in accordance with the invention, provision is made for the actuating element to be arranged on the sink or the washstand and formed in such a way that it does not project upwardly above the upper surface of the region of the sink or the washstand surrounding the actuating element. This thus prevents the actuating element forming an elevated area on the sink or the washstand which would make cleaning the surface of the sink or the washstand more difficult and permit the build up of an accumulation of lime, dirt and/or bacteria.

It is particularly expedient in this regard, if the actuating element is arranged on the lower surface of the sink or the washstand where it is particularly well protected from contamination and water splashes.

In order to indicate the position of the actuating element to the user of the sink or the washstand in this case, a marking, for example a coloured marking, a local elevation of the surface of the sink or the washstand or a stamped impression, is preferably provided at that position on the upper surface of the sink or the washstand which is located above the actuating element so as to indicate the position of the actuating element to the user.

If the sink or the washstand has several waste outlet openings, then provision is advantageously made for the movement mechanism to comprise several drive elements for moving a respective closure element of a waste outlet opening.

In particular, provision may be made for a drive train to be provided for each closure element, wherein the drive trains are selectively connectible to a drive motor by a clutch mechanism.

As an alternative thereto, provision may also be made for a separate drive motor to be provided for each drive train.

In order to enable the drive elements for the closure elements of the different waste outlet openings to be operated independently of each other, provision may be made hereby for the movement mechanism to comprise several actuating elements, wherein each actuating element is adapted to initiate the movement of a respective closure element associated with this said actuating element.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may also be made for the movement mechanism to comprise at least one actuating element with the aid of which the movement of one of at least two closure elements is adapted to be selectively initiated. The number of actuating elements that have to be provided can be reduced in this way.

In this case, provision can be made for example for the actuating element to be actuatable in at least two mutually differing manners, wherein each manner of actuation initiates a movement of a closure element that is associated with the manner of actuation concerned.

Thus, for example, provision can be made for at least two of the manners of actuation of the actuating element to differ in regard to the duration of the effect produced by a user on the actuating element.

In particular, provision could be made for the one closure element to be moved in the event of a long duration of actuation of the actuating element and for another closure element to be moved in the event of a short duration of actuation.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may also be made for at least two of the manners of actuation to differ from one another in regard to the number of successive times that an effect is produced by the user on the actuating element within a given time interval.

Thus, provision could be made for a single actuating action by the user to initiate a movement of the one closure element, whereas two actuating actions by the user following each other within a given time interval would initiate the movement of another closure element.

The movement mechanism in accordance with the invention advantageously exhibits an additional overflow protective function, if the movement mechanism comprises at least one sensor which initiates a movement of the closure element associated with the basin concerned into the open position when a given level is reached in this basin of the sink or the washstand.

A capacitive sensor is preferably used as such an overflow sensor, this then initiating an actuating signal due to the change of capacitance occurring in the proximity of the sensor as a result of the water rising into the detection region of the overflow protection sensor.

In particular, provision may be made for the drive element to be controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into an open position if the level in the basin exceeds a first threshold value, and for the drive element to move the closure element into a closed position if the level in the basin falls below a second threshold value, wherein the second threshold value is lower than the first threshold value. Because the first and the second threshold values are different from each other, a switching hysteresis effect is thereby obtained which results in a stable switching behaviour of the automatic control loop comprising the overflow sensor, the drive element and a control device for the drive element.

For this purpose furthermore, it is expedient if the overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level in the basin lies above the first threshold value or below the second threshold value.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may be made for at least two overflow sensors to be arranged on the basin, wherein a first overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the first threshold value, and a second overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies below the second threshold value.

Furthermore, provision may be made in a special embodiment of the invention for the drive element to be controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into a first open position if the level in the basin exceeds a first threshold value, and for the drive element to move the closure element into a second open position if the level in the basin exceeds a second threshold value, wherein the second threshold value lies above the first threshold value and the waste outlet opening is opened to a further extent in the second open position than it is in the first open position.

A waste outlet opening is to be considered as being “opened to a further extent”, even if the size of the opened waste outlet opening does not change between the two open positions, but the closure element is further away from the waste outlet opening in the second open position than it is in the first open position so that the out-flowing water has easier access to the waste outlet opening and thus the water can flow away more rapidly.

In this embodiment of the invention, the level in the basin can be adjusted particularly finely and the basin volume used to a better extent.

Hereby in particular, provision may be made for the overflow sensor to produce a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level in the basin lies above the first threshold value or above the second threshold value.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may also be made for at least two overflow sensors to be arranged on the basin, wherein a first overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the first threshold value, and a second overflow sensor produces a signal from which it is apparent as to whether the level lies above the second threshold value.

Furthermore, provision may be made in a special embodiment of the invention for the drive element to be controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into an open position and leaves it in the open position for a given minimum period of opening if the level in the basin exceeds a threshold value. In this way, a stable switching behaviour of the movement mechanism can be obtained even if use is made of a digital overflow sensor which merely indicates the presence of water within the detection region of the overflow sensor although an indication as to the height of the level is not derivable from the sensor signal.

In this case furthermore, provision is advantageously made for the drive element to be controlled in such a way that it moves the closure element into a closed position at the expiration of the minimum period of opening if the level in the basin falls below the threshold value at the expiration of the minimum period of opening.

In order to prevent an overflow sensor from effecting an unnecessary opening of the waste outlet opening due to a sensor signal which was initiated by splashes of water and/or a brief high-sloshing of the water, provision may be made for at least two overflow sensors to be arranged on the basin, wherein a movement of the closure element is initiated by the drive element only if at least two of these overflow sensors indicate that the level in the basin has increased.

It is particularly expedient in this case, if the at least two overflow sensors are arranged on mutually differing side walls of the basin.

In order to keep a user of the sink or the washstand informed as to the operative state of the movement mechanism, it is expedient if the movement mechanism comprises a signalling device incorporating a signal generator which produces a signal perceptible to a user when the closure element is moved by means of the drive element.

It is particularly expedient, if the signalling device produces a signal that is perceptible by a user when the closure element is moved as a result of a signal from an overflow sensor, i.e. without the user being the cause for the movement of the closure element due to his own actuation of an actuating device.

Such a signalling device can comprise, in particular, an optical signal generator.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may be made for the signalling device to comprise an acoustic signal generator.

In order to protect the signal generator from contamination and the penetration of moisture, provision is preferably made for the signal generator to be arranged on the lower surface of a sink or a washstand.

In order to inform the user in as much detail as possible as to the operative state of the movement mechanism at any particular time, it is expedient if the signal generator produces at least two, preferably at least three, different signals which are associated with different operative states of the movement mechanism.

Furthermore, in a special embodiment of the movement mechanism in accordance with the invention, provision may be made for the movement mechanism to comprise at least one actuating element for initiating a movement of the closure element and a control device which is connected to the actuating element and is adapted to be switched into a “Teach” mode in which a manner of actuating the actuating element that is preferred by a user can be set.

If the “Teach” mode is switched on, the user of the sink or the washstand can himself record the particular manner in which he actuates the actuating element, i.e. in the “Teach” mode, the control device, learns” whether, for example, the user prefers a short or a long period of contact with the actuating element in order to initiate an actuation of the movement mechanism.

To this end with the “Teach” mode switched on, the user successively repeats his preferred manner of actuating the actuating element several times, whereby the control device registers the length of the duration of the actuation in each case.

After switching from the “Teach” mode into the normal working mode of the control device, the control device then only reacts to an actuation of the actuating element if the duration of the actuation agrees to within a given tolerance with the duration of the actuation that was “learned” during the “Teach” mode.

For example, apart from a preferred duration of the actuation, a preferred number of actuating pulses that succeed one another within a given time interval can also be “learned” by the control device in the “Teach” mode.

Claim 44 is directed towards a sink or a washstand which comprises at least one waste outlet opening and a closure element for sealing the at least one waste outlet opening as well as a movement mechanism in accordance with the invention for moving the closure element for the purposes of sealing the waste outlet opening.

Further features and advantages of the invention form the subject matter of the following description and the graphic illustration of exemplary embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic illustration of a movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing the waste outlet opening of a sink, which comprises a control device, an actuating device, a mains connector and a drive device for the closure element;

FIG. 2 a schematic perspective illustration of a sink incorporating a movement mechanism for moving the closure element for the purposes of sealing the waste outlet opening;

FIG. 3 a schematic plan view from below of the sink depicted in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 a schematic view from the rear of the sink depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3;

FIG. 5 a schematic side view from the left of the sink depicted in FIGS. 2 to 4;

FIG. 6 a schematic side view from the right of the sink depicted in FIGS. 2 to 5;

FIG. 7 a schematic section through the sink depicted in FIGS. 2 to 6 in the vicinity of an actuating device in the movement mechanism of the sink;

FIG. 8 an enlarged illustration of the region I depicted in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 a schematic plan view of a two-zone sensor field;

FIG. 10 a schematic section through a pressure-sensitive actuating device;

FIG. 11 a schematic side view of a waste outlet valve arrangement which comprises a waste outlet opening with a closure element and a servomotor for moving the closure element, wherein the closure element is in a closed position;

FIG. 12 a schematic section through the waste outlet valve arrangement depicted in FIG. 11, wherein the closure element is in a closed position;

FIG. 13 an illustration corresponding to FIG. 11, wherein the closure element is in an open position;

FIG. 14 an illustration corresponding to FIG. 12, wherein the closure element is in an open position;

FIG. 15 a schematic illustration of a second embodiment of a movement mechanism for moving a closure element for the purposes of sealing the waste outlet opening of a sink, wherein the movement mechanism comprises an electromagnet as the drive element;

FIG. 16 a schematic perspective illustration of a sink incorporating the second embodiment of a movement mechanism;

FIG. 17 a further perspective illustration of a sink incorporating the second embodiment of a movement mechanism;

FIG. 18 a plan view from below of the sink depicted in FIGS. 16 and 17;

FIG. 19 a schematic view from the rear of the sink depicted in FIGS. 16 to 18;

FIG. 20 a schematic side view from the left of the sink depicted in FIGS. 16 to 19;

FIG. 21 a schematic side view from the right of the sink depicted in FIGS. 16 to 20;

FIG. 22 a schematic section through a basin of a sink incorporating a third embodiment of a movement mechanism with an overflow sensor;

FIG. 23 a schematic section through a basin of a sink incorporating a fourth embodiment of a movement mechanism with two overflow sensors arranged one above the other;

FIG. 24 a schematic section through a basin of a sink incorporating a fifth embodiment of a movement mechanism with two overflow sensors arranged at the same height; and

FIG. 25 a schematic section through a basin of a sink incorporating a sixth embodiment of a movement mechanism with two overflow sensors and a signal generator.

Similar or functionally equivalent elements are designated by the same reference symbols in each of the Figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A sink which is illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 14 and bears the general reference 100 comprises a substantially horizontal sink surface 102 in which a main basin 104 and a smaller and less deep auxiliary basin 106 are arranged and above which there rises a tap-fittings bank 107 that is arranged behind the auxiliary basin 106.

The bottom of the auxiliary basin 106 is provided with a waste outlet opening 108.

The bottom of the main basin 104 is provided with a waste outlet opening 110.

As can best be seen from FIGS. 12 and 14, the waste outlet opening 110 of the main basin 104 is arranged at the bottom 126 of a waste outlet opening recess 112 which is bent out downwardly from the bottom 114 of a closure element seating recess 116.

For its part, the closure element seating recess 116 is bent out downwardly from the bottom 118 of the main basin 104.

The waste outlet opening 110 is adapted to be sealed by means of a closure element 120 which is substantially rotationally symmetrical about a vertical axis 122 of the closure element.

The closure element 120 comprises a substantially cylindrical closure element base body 124 which penetrates through a central through hole in the bottom 126 of the waste outlet opening recess 112.

The central through hole in the bottom 126 of the waste outlet opening recess 112 is surrounded by several further through holes 128 through which water can emerge downwardly from the waste outlet opening recess 112 into an angled piece of waste outlet pipe 130.

The upper section of the base body 124 of the closure element is surrounded in collar-like manner by a strainer basket element 132. The strainer basket element 132 is provided along its periphery with equidistantly distributed filter passage openings 134.

Below the strainer basket element 132, there is arranged a cup seal 136 which likewise surrounds the base body 124 of the closure element in collar-like manner, and extending from the outer edge thereof there is a flexible sealing lip 138 which surrounds the cup seal 136 in ring-like manner.

As can be seen from FIG. 12, this sealing lip 138 rests on the inner edge of the bottom 114 of the closure element seating recess 116 in the closed position of the closure element 120 and thus prevents water escaping from the closure element seating recess 116 into the waste outlet opening recess 112 in the closed position.

The closure element 120, the closure element seating recess 116 and the waste outlet opening recess 112 together form a waste outlet valve assembly 139.

Below the bottom 126 of the waste outlet opening recess 112, the base body 124 of the closure element is guided in a hollow, cylindrical retaining sleeve 140 such as to be displaceable along the axis 122 of the closure element.

A lever 144, which is connected in mutually non-rotatable manner to a rotary shaft 148 that is rotatable about the axis of rotation 146 thereof, engages the lower end 142 of the base body 124 of the closure element.

The rotary shaft 148 is adapted to be driven by means of an electric servomotor 150 (see FIGS. 11 and 13) into rotary motion about the axis of rotation 146.

The electric servomotor 150 forms a drive unit 152 for the closure element 120 which is connected to a control device 158 (see FIG. 1) by means of current supply lines 154, 156.

The control device 158 comprises a programmable micro-controller arranged in a housing 160.

The control device 158 is connected by signal lines 162, 164 to an actuating device 165 which comprises an actuating element 166 that is arranged on the lower surface of the tap-fittings bank 107 for example.

The actuating element 166 comprises a sensor 168 which may be in the form of a capacitive sensor 168a or a piezoelectric sensor 168b for example.

As is illustrated in FIG. 1, provision may be made for the actuating element 166 to comprise a housing 170 which is inserted into a matching recess 172 in the lower surface of the sink 100 and within which the sensor 168 is arranged on a sensor circuit board 169.

This recess 172 can, in particular, be an additional tap hole boring which is in any case usually present in the sink 100.

The housing 170 may, for example, be in the form of a substantially cylindrical plastic housing which is a tight press-fit in the recess 172.

Alternatively or in addition to being fixed by means of such a press-fit, provision may also be made for the housing 170 to be glued to the lower surface of the sink 100.

Furthermore, provision may be made for the housing 170 to be fixed to the lower surface of the sink 100 by means of screws and/or rivets which engage in mounting holes provided in the lower surface of the sink 100.

If the sink 100 is a sink moulded from a plastic material or a composite material, then provision may be made for an additional holding lug to be cast on to the lower surface of the sink 100 to which the housing 170 can be fixed by a suitable mounting means, for example, a screw or a fixing pin.

A capacitive sensor 168a is particularly suitable for use on a sink 100 made from a plastic material or from a composite material. Such a capacitive sensor can discern a change of capacitance which results from a user of the sink 100 moving a part of their body, a finger for example, into the detection region of the sensor 168.

In order for the capacitive sensor to be able to detect the change of capacitance caused by the finger of the user, it is necessary for a dielectric medium, which is not electrically conductive, to be arranged between the sensor 168a and the detection region.

A plastic material or a composite material fulfils this condition, so that the capacitive sensor 168a can simply be arranged on the lower surface of a sink 100 made from such a material without the need for further precautions.

In the case of a sink 100 which is made of an electrically conductive material, in particular, of a chrome nickel high-grade steel, the sink 100 must be provided with a passage opening into which there is inserted a dielectric material, a disk of a glass ceramic for example, in order to protect the sensor 168a arranged under the dielectric material from environmental effects, in particular, from water splashes, and at the same time enable the detection of a change of capacitance within the detection region 174 of the sensor to be effected.

In this case, the sensor 168 or a housing 170 in which the sensor 168 is arranged, can be fixed to the disk made from the dielectric material, for example, it can be glued or screwed to this disk.

In order to prevent the capacitive sensor 168 being triggered by water splashes occurring in the detection region 174, the sensitivity of the sensor 168 is adjusted in such a way that it will only produce an actuating signal that is transmitted to the control device 158 if it detects a change of capacitance within the detection region 174 that exceeds a minimum trigger level such as is produced when a finger of a user comes into contact with the top of the sink 100 within the detection region 174.

In order to prevent an actuating signal being produced unintentionally by the sensor 168 due to larger objects, for example pots, cleaning cloths etc. being placed on the sink, or due to a layer of water on the top of the sink, the capacitive sensor 168a can be in the form of a two-zone sensor comprising an inner sensor which detects a change of capacitance within a central, circular detection region 174a, and an outer sensor which detects a change of capacitance within an outer detection region 174b surrounding the inner detection region 174a in ring-like manner.

If only the inner detection region 174a is touched by a user, then only the inner sensor produces an actuating signal which is conveyed over the signal lines 162, 164 to the micro-controller in the control device 158.

If both detection regions 174a and 174b are touched by a larger article or by water present on the top of the sink, then both the inner and the outer sensor produce a respective actuating signal which is transmitted to the micro-controller. In this case, the micro-controller ignores the actuating signals since they are not attributable to a normal actuation of the actuating element 166.

In like manner, the micro-controller ignores each actuating signal which is produced only by the outer sensor due to a contact being made with the outer detection region 174b.

If the sink 100 consists of a metallic conductive material, of a chromium-nickel steel for example, then use is preferably made of a piezoelectric crystal sensor 168b which is arranged on the lower surface of the sink 100 and reacts to pressure which is transferred through the (relatively thin) material of the sink 100.

An electric current thereby ensues due to the mutual displacement of the lattice planes in the piezoelectric crystal, said current being transmitted in the form of an electrical signal over the signal lines 162, 164 to the micro-controller in the control device 158.

In the case of a sink 100 of relatively thin material, the latter will deflect over a large surface area in response to the application of a point-like pressure for which reason a piezoelectric crystal sensor might possibly be activated by such a point-like pressure even if it is applied in a region of the sink 100 lying outside the sensor field.

In order to exclude this source of error, provision may be made—as is illustrated in FIG. 10—for the actuating element 166 to comprise a moveable platelet 176, made of metal for example, which is inserted into an appropriately shaped cut-out in the sink 100 and is moveable relative to the sink 100 (substantially perpendicularly relative to the upper surface of the sink) so that the platelet 176 receives a compressive force represented by the double arrow 178, but does not pass it on to the sink 100.

The piezoelectric crystal sensor 168b is arranged on the lower surface of the platelet 176 and detects the application of pressure to the platelet 176.

Since, in this embodiment of the actuating element 166, the platelet 176 with the sensor 168b is decoupled from the remainder of the upper surface of the sink 100, false triggering of the sensor 168 due to the application of pressure to the sink 100 outside the platelet 176 is not possible.

In each case, i.e. when making use of a capacitive or a piezoelectric crystal sensor 168, the micro-controller of the control device 158 receives a signal over the signal lines 162, 164 when the sensor 168 responds, the micro-controller then controlling the servomotor 150 in dependence on said signal.

The reaction of the micro-controller to the signal coming from the sensor 168 is dependent on the software installed in each case in the micro-controller.

The micro-controller can be set-up in such a way that the sensitivity of the sensor 168 can be affected.

In particular, it can be set-up in regard to the minimum period of time for which the sensor 168 must respond before an actuation of the servomotor 150 is controlled by the micro-controller.

The micro-controller, the electric servomotor 150 and the actuating element 166 are supplied with the necessary electrical power by means of a power pack 180 which is connectible to the public electricity mains and is connected by a mains cable 182 to the control device 158.

The drive unit 152, the control device 158, the actuating device 165 and the power pack 180 together form a movement mechanism 183 for moving the closure element 120 of the waste outlet valve assembly 139.

In a variant of the movement mechanism, provision may also be made for the micro-controller and the sensor 168 not to be accommodated in different housings, but rather, in a common housing.

The micro-controller of the control device 158 can exhibit a so-called “Teach” mode which is adapted to be switched on and off by means of a switch arranged on the micro-controller for example.

If the “Teach” mode is switched on, the users of the sink 100 can indicate the manner in which they themselves actuate the actuating element 166, i.e. the micro-controller “learns” in “the Teach” mode as to whether the user prefers a short or a long period of contact with the sensor field in order to initiate the operation of the movement mechanism.

To this end with the “Teach” mode switched on, the user repeats his preferred manner of actuating the actuating element 166 several times in succession, whereby the micro-controller registers the length of the duration of the actuation in each case.

After switching the “Teach” mode off, the micro-controller then only reacts to an actuation of the actuating element 166, if the duration of the actuation agrees to within a given tolerance with the duration of the actuation “learned” during the “Teach” mode.

If the micro-controller of the control device 158 receives an actuating signal from the actuating element 166 which is recognized as a regular actuating signal based upon the conditions specified in the control program of the micro-controller, then, due to this actuating signal, the micro-controller controls a movement of the closure element 120 by means of the electric servomotor 150 by closing the electric circuit containing the current supply lines 154, 156 for the servomotor 150.

Hereby, the polarity of the servomotor current supply circuit is set by the micro-controller in such a way that following the closure of the electric circuit, the rotary shaft 148 rotates about the axis of rotation 146 in that direction which moves the closure element 120 from its current position (for example the closed position illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12) into the other respective position thereof (for example the open position illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14).

The electric servomotor 150 is set-up in such a manner that it rotates the rotary shaft 148 comparatively slowly, for example, at a rotational speed of approximately 5 revolutions per minute. This slow rotation of the rotary shaft 148 is achieved due to the fact that a transmission having a very low transmission ratio of 1000:1 for example is switched between the servomotor 150 and the rotary shaft 148. The comparatively slow rotation and therefore slow movement of the closure element 120 is generally felt to be more pleasant by the users of the sink 100 than a rapid opening or closing process.

The angular distance between the positions of the rotary shaft 148 and the lever 144 in the closed position on the one hand and the open position on the other amounts to approximately 40° for example.

The lever 144 strikes a respective lower or upper stop member in the closed position and in the open position of the closure element 120.

The electric servomotor 150 draws a larger current due to the blocking of the rotary shaft 148 upon reaching the upper or the lower stop member. This current increase is registered by the micro-controller of the control device 158, whereupon the micro-controller switches the electric servomotor 150 off by opening the current supply circuit.

The reaction of the micro-controller to the increase in current takes place within a very short time, within just a few milliseconds for example, thereby ensuring that the electric servomotor 150 is not loaded unnecessarily.

Alternatively or in addition to a disconnection of the servomotor 150 due to an increase of the current, provision may also be made for the servomotor 150 to be switched off by means of limit switches, in particular, limiter push-button switches which are operated upon reaching the closed position or the open position.

After opening the electric circuit, the micro-controller of the control device 158 commutates the polarity of the current supply circuit of the servomotor 150 so that the servomotor 150 will rotate in the respective other direction upon the next actuation of the actuating element 166 (thus, after a closing process by the closure element 120 back into the open position and after an opening process by the closure element 120 back into the closed position).

The electric servomotor used may, for example, be a direct current small gear motor such as is sold under the type number 1.61.065.428 by the company Bühler Motor GmbH in 90212 Nürnberg, Germany. This motor is provided with a spur gear.

In a variant of the previously described embodiment of a moving device for the closure element 120 of a sink 100, provision could also be made for the waste outlet opening 108 of the auxiliary basin 106 of the sink 100 to likewise be provided with a closure element which is movable from the closed position into the open position or from the open position into the closed position by means of an additional drive unit which is likewise controlled by the control device 158.

In order to enable the drive units of the closure elements for the waste outlet opening 110 of the main basin 104 and for the waste outlet opening 108 of the auxiliary basin 106 to be operated independently of one another, provision may hereby be made for the actuating device 165 of the movement mechanism 183 to comprise two sensors 168 which are respectively associated with one of the closure elements 120 so that the actuation of the one sensor initiates a movement of the closure element 120 for the waste outlet opening 110 of the main basin 104 and the actuation of the other sensor initiates a movement of the closure element for the waste outlet opening 108 of the auxiliary basin 106.

As an alternative thereto, provision may be made for only one sensor 168 to be provided for the actuation of both closure elements 120, whereby differentiating between which of the closure elements 120 is to be moved is effected on the basis of the manner in which the sensor 168 is actuated (so-called “intelligent control”).

In particular, provision could be made for the one closure element to be moved in the event of a long duration of actuation of the sensor 168 and for the other closure element to be moved when the duration of the actuation is short.

As an alternative thereto, provision could also be made for the micro-controller of the control device 158 to recognize which of the closure elements 120 is to be moved on the basis of the number of successive actuating actions occurring within a short period of time. Thus, provision could be made for a single actuating action to initiate a movement of the closure element 120 for the waste outlet opening 110 of the main basin 104, whereas two actuating actions following each other within a given time span would initiate a movement of the closure element for the waste outlet opening 108 of the auxiliary basin 106.

Furthermore, in addition to the actuating process by means of the actuating element 166, the movement mechanism 183 for the closure element or the closure elements 120 of the sink 100 could be triggered by an automatic actuating process upon the attainment of a predefined water level in the respectively associated basin 104 or 106 of the sink 100.

To this end, a (not illustrated) additional sensor is mounted on the relevant basin 104 or 106 in place of the conventional overflow valve.

This sensor is in the form of a capacitive sensor and thus serves as a water alarm unit which produces an electrical signal that is passed on to the micro-controller of the control device 158 in response to a change in the capacitance thereof when the water level rises up into the proximity of the sensor.

If this signal exceeds a given minimum period and thus indicates that the water in the particular basin 104 or 106 is continually at the height of the additional sensor, then the micro-controller of the control device 158 controls the electric servomotor 150 of the relevant drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 concerned is moved into the open position by rotating the rotary shaft 148.

In this way, the waste outlet opening of the basin concerned is opened so that the water can run off from this basin and overflowing of the water is prevented.

A second embodiment of a movement mechanism 183 for the sink 100 which is illustrated in FIGS. 15 to 21 differs from the previously described first embodiment only in that, instead of an electric servomotor 150, the drive unit 152 for effecting the movement of the closure element 120 comprises an electromagnet 184 which includes a (not illustrated) moveable armature that is moved—in dependence on the polarity of the current supply circuit for the electromagnet 184 that was set by the micro-controller—into one of two end positions of which a first is associated with the closed position of the closure element 120 and a second with the open position of the closure element 120 when the electromagnet 184 is switched-on by means of the micro-controller of the control device 158.

The moveable armature of the electromagnet 184 is connected by means of a Bowden cable 186 to the rotary shaft 148, wherein the rotary shaft end of the wire core of the Bowden cable 186 engages the periphery of the rotary shaft 148 in the circumferential direction so that a linear movement of the wire core of the Bowden cable 186 results in a rotation of the rotary shaft 148 about the axis of rotation 146.

Thus, in the second embodiment, the closure element 120 is moved by means of the electromagnet 184 and the Bowden cable 186 from the open position into the closed position or from the closed position back into the open position when the actuating element 166 is operated in a suitable manner or if an overflow protection sensor 104, 106 arranged on one of the basins is triggered in like manner to that in which it was moved by means of the servomotor 150 in the first embodiment.

In this embodiment too, the polarity of the current supply circuit for the electromagnet 184 is reversed by the micro-controller of the control device 158 after each movement of the closure element 120 in order to change the direction of motion of the closure element 120 for the next movement thereof.

In all other respects, the second embodiment of a movement mechanism 183 for the closure element 120 of the waste outlet opening 110 of the sink 100 conforms in regard to the construction and functioning thereof with the first embodiment so that insofar as they are concerned reference should be made to the previous description.

A third embodiment of a movement mechanism 183 for the closure element 120 of the waste outlet opening 110 of the basin 104 of the sink 100 that is illustrated in FIG. 22 differs from the two previously described embodiments in that the movement mechanism 183 comprises, as an alternative or in addition to an actuating element 166 actuated by a user of the sink, an overflow sensor 188 which is arranged in the upper region of a side wall 190 of the main basin 104 of the sink 100.

The overflow sensor 188 is in the form of a capacitive sensor which is connected by means of a (not illustrated) signal line to the control device 158 of the movement mechanism 182 and sends a sensor signal to the control device 158 if the level 192 of the water in the basin 104 rises into the detection region of the overflow sensor 188.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, the overflow sensor 188 could also be in the form of a resistance measuring sensor that comprises two electrodes which are set into one side wall or into two side walls of the basin at the desired height and to which different electrical potentials are applied so that a current will flow as soon as the water in the basin 104 has risen up to the height at which the electrodes are arranged.

The overflow sensor 188 can, in particular, be in the form of an analogue sensor whose sensor signal varies in dependence on the level 192 of the water in the basin 104 so that a certain level 192 can be associated with the magnitude of the sensor signal in each case.

If the level 192 (and thus the magnitude of the sensor signal) exceeds a first threshold value, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 of the actuating device 165 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved from the closed position into an open position in which the water can flow out from the basin 104 through the waste outlet opening 110.

If, due to the drainage of the water from the basin 104, the level 192 sinks below a second threshold value which is lower than the first threshold value, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved back from the open position into the closed position in which the closure element 120 seals the waste outlet opening 110 in such a way that no more water can flow out from the basin 104.

Due to the fact that the first and the second threshold values are different from one another, a switching hysteresis effect is obtained which results in a stable switching behaviour of the automatic control loop comprising the overflow sensor 188, the control device 158 and the drive unit 152.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, provision may also be made for a switching hysteresis effect to be produced by the provision of a dead time (by means of a delay element in the evaluating circuit of the sensor or in the control device 158).

As an alternative thereto, provision may also be made for the overflow sensor 188 to be in the form of a digital sensor which sends a sensor signal of constant magnitude to the control device 158 as long as the level 192 is in the detection region of the overflow sensor 188.

As soon as such a digital overflow sensor 188 signals to the control device 158 that the level 192 in the basin 104 has risen into the detection region of the overflow sensor 188, the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved into the open position and remains in the open position for a minimum period of opening. If, at the expiration of the minimum period of opening, the overflow sensor 188 is still signalling that the water is in its detection region, then the closure element 120 remains in the open position for a further given length of time, at the expiration of which the signal from the overflow sensor 188 is queried again. If, after the expiration of the given minimum period of opening or at the expiration of a further given length of time, the overflow sensor 188 is no longer signalling the presence of water in its detection region, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved back into the closed position.

A stable switching behaviour of the movement mechanism 183 is obtained in this way.

The process of controlling the drive unit 152 by the control device 158 can be effected in both cases, thus, when using an analogue or a digital overflow sensor 188, with or without a time delay.

If a sink 100 comprises several basins, an auxiliary basin 106 in addition to the main basin 104 for example, then each of these basins can be provided with a respective overflow sensor 188 which initiates a movement of the closure element 120 of the basin concerned into an open position in the event of a threshold value for the level 192 in the basin concerned being exceeded.

An overflow of the water from the basin of the sink 100 that is being monitored with the help of a particular overflow sensor 188 is reliably prevented with the help of the overflow sensor 188. The otherwise usual overflow opening can therefore be dispensed with in the case of basins being monitored with the help of an overflow sensor 188.

A fourth embodiment of the movement mechanism 183 that is illustrated in FIG. 23 differs from the previously described third embodiment in that two overflow sensors 188 and 194 are arranged on a monitored basin 104 of the sink 100, said sensors being arranged at different heights on one of the side walls 190 of the basin 104. As an alternative thereto, the two overflow sensors 188, 194 could also be arranged on different side walls of the basin 104.

Both overflow sensors 188, 194 may be comprised by an analogue or a digital sensor.

If the lower overflow sensor 194 signals to the control device that the level 192 has risen into its detection region, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved into a first open position in which the waste outlet opening 110 is partially opened for the drainage of water from the basin 104.

If, nevertheless, the level 192 continues to rise so that the upper overflow sensor 188 signals that the level 192 has reached its detection region, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved into a second open position in which the waste outlet opening 110 is completely opened for the drainage of water from the basin 104.

If, thereupon, the level 192 has dropped to such an extent that neither of the overflow sensors 188, 194 is signalling any longer the presence of water in its detection region, then the control device 158 controls the drive unit 152 in such a way that the closure element 120 is moved back into the closed position.

This embodiment has the advantage that the level 192 in the basin 104 can be regulated more finely and the basin volume can be better utilised.

Furthermore, the movement of the closure element 120 into the first open position serves as a preliminary warning to the user of the sink, this thereby drawing the user's attention to the excessive rise of the level 192.

Such a fine regulation of the level 192 can also be realized with just a single analogue overflow sensor 188, if, in dependence on the sensor signal, the control device 158 initiates a movement of the closure element 120 into the first open position when a first threshold value is reached and initiates a movement of the closure element 120 into the second open position when a second threshold value lying above the first threshold value is reached.

A fifth embodiment of the movement mechanism 183 that is illustrated in FIG. 24 differs from the third embodiment illustrated in FIG. 22 in that a second overflow sensor 196 is provided on the supervised basin 104 in addition to the first overflow sensor 188, said second sensor being arranged at the same height as the first overflow sensor 188 on a further side wall 198 of the basin 104 opposite the side wall 190.

In this embodiment, the closure element 120 is only moved into the open position if both the overflow sensor 188 and the overflow sensor 196 signal the presence of water within their respective detection regions. The sensor signals from the two overflow sensors 188, 196 are thus logically AND-ed by the control device 158.

In this way, an individual overflow sensor 188 or 196 is prevented from causing an unnecessary opening of the waste outlet opening 110 due to a sensor signal which was triggered by splashes of water and/or a brief high-sloshing of the water.

In a corresponding manner in the case of the fourth embodiment illustrated in FIG. 23, a further overflow sensor arranged at the same height on another side wall of the basin 104 could also be provided for each of the two overflow sensors 188, 194, whereby the sensor signal from one of the overflow sensors 188 or 194 will only then be taken into consideration by the control device 158 if it is confirmed by the respective second sensor that is associated with the overflow sensor 188 or 194 concerned.

A sixth embodiment of the movement mechanism 183 that is illustrated in FIG. 25 differs from the fifth embodiment illustrated in FIG. 24 in that the movement mechanism 183 additionally comprises a signal generator 200 which informs a user of the sink by means of a signal that is perceptible to the user of the fact that the closure element 120 is being moved by means of the drive unit 152.

The signal generator 200 can be an optical signal generator which produces a light signal (for example, by means of an LED). In order to protect the signal generator 200 from water splashes, provision is preferably made for the signal generator 200 to be arranged on the lower surface of the sink 100. Then, in the case of an optical signal generator 200, the thickness of the material in the region of the sink 100 located above the signal generator 200 is preferably made sufficiently thin as to let the light from the signal generator 200 penetrate through the sink 100.

As an alternative or in addition thereto, the signal generator 200 could also be in the form of an acoustic signal generator.

Preferably, the signal generator 200 is formed in such a way that it can produce different signals in dependence on the respective operative state of the movement mechanism 183.

For example, provision may be made for an acoustic signal generator 200 to produce the following signals in dependence on the respective operative state of the movement mechanism 183:

    • soft beep, whilst the closure element is being moved into the open position or into the closed position due to an actuation of the actuating device 165 by the user of the sink 100;
    • loud beep as a preliminary warning for the user if the level 192 in the basin 104 has reached a lower threshold value;
    • loud double beep, when the level 192 in the basin 104 has reached an upper threshold value and/or if the closure element 120 is moved into the open position or into the closed position automatically by the drive unit 152 due to a signal from one of the overflow sensors 188, 196, i.e. without actuation of the actuating device 165 by the user.

In the case of an optical signal generator 200, the latter is preferably arranged on the sink 100 in the proximity of the actuating element 166 of the actuating device 165, because the user pays special attention to this region of the sink.





 
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