Title:
Floor Finish Applicator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A floor finish applicator is provided to uniformly and controllably apply and distribute liquids to the surface of exposed floors. The floor finish applicator comprises a tank, an applicator head, and elongated handle, and, in one preferred embodiment, a cover. The liquid to be distributed flows from the tank through a conduit to the applicator head through which it flows to the floor. In a preferred embodiment, a series of channels inside the applicator head provides for even distribution of the liquid. The floor finish applicator's cover, when included, increases the relative humidity of the system during storage and keeps the liquid inside the assembly in good condition.



Inventors:
Lim, Gunsang (Cordova, TN, US)
Lim, Sanghyun (Cordova, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/426620
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
06/27/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L13/00; A47L1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GUNSANG LIM (MAUMELLE, AR, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A floor finish applicator for distributing liquids on a floor area comprising: (a) an elongated handle having a proximal end and a distal end; (b) an applicator head pivotally attached to the distal end of said elongated handle, said applicator head having: an entry opening for receiving liquid to be distributed, a plurality of at least four exit openings, and a plurality of channels connecting said entry opening to said plurality of at least four exit openings, wherein said plurality of channels comprises a plurality of at least two levels, a level comprising channels such that a channel within a level divides equally into two channels in a successive level at a node; (c) a pad covering the bottom of said applicator head; (d) a tank having a upper side and a lower side, the tank having an opening for receiving the liquid to be distributed on the top side of said tank and an opening on said lower side of said tank for distributing said liquid to be distributed; and (e) a conduit connecting said opening on said lower side of said tank to said entry opening of said applicator head.

2. The floor finish applicator of claim 1 wherein said nodes are orifices.

3. The floor finish applicator according to claim 1, further comprising a cover.

4. The floor finish applicator according to claim 3 wherein said cover contains a flat pad or sponge capable of containing liquid.

5. A floor finish applicator for distributing liquids on a floor area comprising: (a) an elongated handle having a proximal end and a distal end; (b) an applicator head pivotally attached to the distal end of said elongated handle, said applicator head having: an entry opening for receiving liquid to be distributed, a plurality of at least four exit openings, and any means connecting said entry opening to said plurality of at least four exit openings; (c) a pad covering the bottom of said applicator head; (d) a tank having a upper side and a lower side, the tank having an opening for receiving Me liquid to be distributed on the top side of said tank and an opening on said lower side of said tank for distributing said liquid to be distributed; (e) a conduit connecting said opening on said lower side of said tank to said entry opening of said applicator head; and (f) a cover.

6. The floor finish applicator according to claim 5 wherein said cover contains a flat pad or sponge capable of containing liquid.

7. The floor finish applicator according to claim 5 further comprising a plurality of channels connecting said entry opening to said plurality of at least four exit openings, wherein said plurality of channels comprises a plurality of at least two levels, a level comprising channels such that a channel within a level divides equally into two channels in a successive level at a node.

8. The floor finish applicator of claim 7 wherein said nodes are orifices.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. ยง 119, based upon U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/704,387, filed Aug. 1, 2005. The entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a floor finish applicator for applying a liquid to a floor. The liquid to be distributed could include waxes, wax strippers, cleaning solution, insecticides, or any other liquid that one might desire to distribute over the surface of a floor.

2. Description of the Related Art

Although the traditional mop and mop bucket method, as described below, is the oldest way to distribute liquids over a floor surface, this method is still being used predominantly. Several new apparati for applying liquids to floors have recently been introduced to the market; however, none of them have been accepted as a replacement of the traditional mop and mop bucket method due to various limitations.

The main reason for the general failure of products in this area is that some liquids have very unique natures that are unpredictable and make them difficult to handle. Since floor wax is one of the most hard to handle materials, the following descriptions are written keeping wax in mind. For example, if a thin layer of wax has contact with exterior air, the wax changes its physical characters in few minutes; viscosity is increased, and the wax dries and hardens. None of the new products have overcome this problem caused by the unique nature of wax and become a reliable replacement of the traditional mop and mop bucket method.

The most commonly found methods of applying waxes and other liquids to floors are as follows:

(1) Mop and Mop Bucket Method (Traditional Method)

This method requires frequent interruption of dipping the mop into a bucket containing the liquid to be distributed and results in uneven poor quality, excessive time involved in preparing the wax or other liquid to be distributed, cleaning the system after each use, and disposing of quite a bit of unused liquid after each use. The costs involved in this method can become high because a large amount of liquid that cannot be re-used is wasted with each use. Significant pollution to the environment occurs with this method in the form of contaminated water used to clean the mop and bucket and dirty left-over liquid which must be disposed of after each use.

(2) Mop Bucket-Less System 1

Liquid stored in a back pack (i.e. plastic bag) is sprayed directly on the floor and is spread by a pad or a mop. Problems with this system include increased wax cost due to the high price of backpack wax, and significant pollution and expense of time because after operation all equipment must be cleaned, taking typically ten to twenty minutes and resulting in polluted cleaning water entering the environment.

(3) Mop Bucket-Less System 2

This method is similar to above (2) but liquid is released through pad instead of being released directly to floor. In this system, the liquid is released through distribution holes located along a straight pipeline. In this system, the liquid to be distributed is not distributed evenly across the mop head, so more liquid is released through the pad in the center of the mop head than along the sides. This causes an uneven distribution of the liquid over the floor surface. For the products currently available, after operation all equipments must be cleaned and dirty water used in cleaning the equipment must be disposed thereby causing a waste of time and pollution to the environment.

All of the above methods have deficiencies involved with the excessive time required for preparing and cleaning the equipment with each use, the difficulties of providing an even distribution of the liquid to be distributed, and pollution to the environment related to disposal of dirty liquid and dirty water used in cleaning the equipments. The present invention solves the problems of the prior art with an applicator that does not need to be cleaned with each use, that provides for even distribution of the liquid to be distributed, and that has the ability to store the liquid to be distributed for an extended period of time without a degradation of the quality of the liquid or the applicator head even without cleaning between uses.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The aforementioned problems are overcome in the present invention which has either an applicator head structured such that liquid distribution is even or a cover structure which provides for storage of the floor finish applicator with the liquid in it for at least three months with little or no degradation of the liquid or both. The floor finish applicator comprises a tank, an elongated handle, an applicator head and, in the preferred embodiment, a cover. The tank has an opening for easy filling on the top and a conduit on the bottom attaching the tank to the applicator head. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the tank is mounted on the elongated handle. The applicator head, in the preferred embodiment, has a plurality of channels arranged like a binary tree such that the path from the entry opening of the applicator head to any of the exit openings on the bottom of the applicator head is constant. This structure of the channels provides for even distribution of the liquid to be distributed unlike any of the prior embodiments. In the preferred embodiment, the floor finish applicator also has a cover that attaches to the applicator head and may contain a moistened pad or sponge. The cover raises the relative humidity of the inside of the system where the liquid is contained and increases the duration of the time for which the liquid remains in good condition. The cover also keeps the applicator head in good condition and not dried out, so it need not be cleaned after each use and it is ready to be used immediately upon removing the cover without any pre-soaking required.

Another advantage of the present invention is that there is a continuous stream of clean liquid emerging from the applicator head. The liquid flows through the pad on the bottom of the applicator head and keeps the applicator head relatively clean and free of debris. Thus, if the liquid to be distributed on the floor surface is a wax, and the floor starts out relatively clean, any dirt or debris on the floor will stay where it is and not all collect at the end of the mopped floor area.

Another advantage of the present invention is its environmental friendliness. In most current mop systems, quite a bit of the liquid to be distributed must be wasted or thrown away at the end of each use. In the present invention, however, the liquid may remain in the system until a user is ready to use the floor finish applicator again. This reduces the amount of liquid, such as floor wax or cleaning solution, which is dumped into the environment. Similarly, the reduced need to purchase more liquid to fill the floor finish applicator saves cost for the user.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be more readily understood and appreciated with reference to the detailed description of the preferred embodiment and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A perspective view of the floor finish applicator 15 showing the floor finish applicator 15 detached and separate from the cover 17.

FIG. 2 An exploded view of the internal components of the applicator head 16, along with a portion of the elongated handle 21.

FIG. 2A A magnified view of area 113 from FIG. 2.

FIG. 3A A frontal view of the top part of the applicator head 16.

FIG. 3B A sectional view from below of the top part of the applicator head 16 along line 213-213 from FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3C A cross sectional view of the top part of the applicator head 16 along line 211-211 from FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3D A cross sectional view of the top part of the applicator head 16 along line 212-212 from FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3E A frontal view of part 2 of the applicator head 16 separated from the rest of the floor finish applicator 15.

FIG. 3F A magnified view of section 205 from FIG. 3E.

FIG. 4 An exploded view of the cover 17.

FIG. 5A A sectional frontal view of the applicator head 16 in contact with the cover 17 along the applicator head's long axis indicated by line 216-216 of FIG. 5B.

FIG. 5B A sectional side view of the applicator head 16 in contact with the cover 17 along the short axis of the applicator head, indicated by line 215-215 of FIG. 5A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

In FIGS. 1 & 2, there is illustrated a floor finish applicator 15 for distributing liquids on a floor area comprising an elongated handle 21 having a proximal end 20 and a distal end 35; an applicator head 16, pivotally attached to the distal end 35 of the elongated handle 21; a pad 8 covering the bottom of the applicator head 16; a tank 27 having a upper side and a lower side, the tank having an opening 22 for receiving liquid to be distributed on the top of the side of the tank 27, said opening having a filler screen 23, for filtering liquid to be distributed entering the tank and a filler cap 24 for closing the opening and an opening 28 on the lower side of the tank 27 for distributing the liquid to be distributed; and a conduit 34 connecting the opening 28 on the lower side of the tank 27 to the entry opening 100 of the applicator head 16.

In the preferred embodiment, the pad 8 covering the bottom of the applicator head 16 has sufficient texture 111 on the side of the pad 8 that contacts the bottom of the applicator head 16 such that it sticks to Velcro strips 45 with sticky back positioned on either side of the exit holes 46 on the bottom of the applicator head 16. The pad 8 is micro-fiber in the preferred embodiment but could also be made of synthetic lambs wool or other similar materials. In alternate embodiments, the pad 8 could be attached to the bottom of the applicator head 16 by other means, including a molded sticky texture surface or button structure.

In the preferred embodiment, the pivotal attachment of the distal end 35 of the elongated handle 21 to the applicator head 16 is achieved with a universal joint 36, 37, and 103.

As seen in FIGS. 2, 3E and 3F, the applicator head 16 has an entry opening 100 for receiving liquid to be distributed, a plurality of at least four exit openings 101, and a plurality of channels 112 connecting the entry opening 100 to the exit openings 101. The plurality of channels 112 is of a structure such that it comprises a plurality of at least two levels, 201, 202, 203, and 204. In the preferred embodiment, there are four levels 201, 202, 203, and 204 as shown in FIGS. 3E and 3F. When the liquid enters the applicator head 16 at the entry opening 100, it splits evenly into two channels 112 in the top level 201 of the structure. At the end of each of those two top channels 112, the channels 112 split into two equal channels at the next level 202 such that there are four channels 112 in the second level 202. The channels split again at the next level 203 and the lowest level 204 such that the lowest level 204 contains sixteen channels 112. The channels 112 terminate at the exit openings 101. There is one exit opening 101 for each channel 112 on the lowest level 204. While there are four levels 201, 202, 203, and 204 in the preferred embodiment of the invention, one skilled in the art would know that there could be any number of levels more than or equal to two.

The place where a channel 112 splits into two channels 112 on a lower level 202, 203, or 204, is called a node 102. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the nodes 102 are orifices, where an orifice is defined as an opening with cross-sectional area less than the cross-sectional area of a channel. The purpose of these orifices is to ensure that the liquid to be distributed evenly splits between the two channels 112 on the lower level 202, 203, or 204, where a larger opening could allow the liquid to be distributed to flow down only one of the channels 112 on the lower level 202, 203, or 204 if the flow of the liquid to be distributed was small.

The best construction currently known for the applicator head 16 has four main components, 1, 2, 5, and 38 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Part 2 is shown in more detail in FIGS. 3E and 3F. Parts 1, 2, and 5 are made in the preferred embodiment of molded plastic. Part 1 is a flat piece of plastic which attaches to part 2 which contains the channels 112 through which the liquid flows. A softer material 38 is placed between parts 1 and 2 to form a seal keeping the liquid in the channels 112. In the preferred embodiment, these pieces 1, 2, and 38 are connected via self-tapping screws 40 inserted through molded screw holes 107 so the pieces may be separated if necessary for cleaning, although in alternative embodiments, they could be attached by any other means. Parts 1, 2, and 38 are aligned by alignment pegs 105, shown in FIG. 2, which fit into alignment holes 106 and 108, shown in FIG. 3E These three parts 1, 2, and 38 are then connected to the base 5 of the applicator head 16 with a flat gasket 44 between them and more screws 39. These could also be connected by different means if so desired. In the preferred embodiment, Velcro strips 45 are attached to the bottom of the applicator head 16 for attaching the pad 8 to the applicator head 16. The bottom piece 5 of the applicator head 16 also has holes or indentations 109 for receiving the spring draw catches 9 of the cover 17.

In the preferred embodiment, the opening 22 in the top side of the tank 27 has a cap 24 which may be loosened during use to allow air to enter the tank 27 and tightened during nonuse to stop the air from entering the tank 27. While the preferred embodiment has the elongated handle 21 passing through the tank 27 and connected thereto with connecting pieces 25, it would be apparent to one skilled in the art that the tank 27 could be attached to the elongated handle 21 by any alternate means. In fact, the tank 27 need not be attached to the elongated handle 21 at all or could be detachably attached. To prevent clogging of the system, there are screen parts 23, shown in FIG. 2, and 41, shown in FIG. 2A, at the opening 22 to the tank 27 and at the entry opening 100 to the applicator head 16.

During operation, the liquid to be distributed contained in the tank 27 passes through the opening 28 on the lower side of the tank 27 through an on/off valve 29, which controls whether fluid flows through the conduit 34 to the applicator head 16, then through a flow control valve 32, which regulates the flow of the liquid to be distributed, then through the conduit 34 and into the entry opening 100. There are connectors 28, 30, and 33 between the opening 28 on the lower side of the tank 27 and the on/off valve 29, the on/off valve 29 and the flow control valve 32, and the flow control valve 32 and the conduit 34. The flow control valve 32, has an indicator handle 31 so that the user can tell how much of the liquid is being distributed at any time. The conduit 34 is connected to the enter opening 100 with a leader 42. The leader 42 is connected to the entry opening 100 by screws 43, and a screen 41 is placed between the leader 42 and the entry opening 100 to filter the liquid to be distributed and keep the applicator head 16 from becoming clogged.

In another preferred embodiment, the floor finish applicator 15 has a cover 17 which can be attached to the applicator head 16 with spring draw catches 9 when the floor finish applicator 15 is not in use. The purpose of the cover 17 is to keep the relative humidity within the floor finish applicator 15 high when the applicator is not in use to prevent the channels 112 from clogging and to keep the liquid to be distributed in its prime state. If the liquid to be distributed is a wax, the higher tie relative humidity in the system during storage, the longer the wax will stay useable. In a preferred embodiment of the invention the cover 17 contains a flat pad or sponge 10, which may be moistened. The moistened flat pad or sponge 10 adds to the relative humidity of the system.

The structure of the cover 17 is better illustrated by FIGS. 4, and 5. The cover 17 is comprised of a tray 11 which in the best mode of the invention is made of plastic. In the best mode of the invention, the tray has Velcro strips 48 inside the bottom of the tray 11 for removably attaching the flat pad or sponge 10 to the bottom of the tray 11. The tray also has a rim on its outside edge for receiving a gasket 12. The gasket 12 forms a seal with the applicator head 16 when seated in the cover 17 to keep moisture from escaping the system.

While the best embodiment of the invention includes both the disclosed internal structure of the head and the cover, both are not necessary and the invention is novel and has advantages over the prior art with one or the other. The internal structure of the applicator head solves the problem of providing for an even distribution of the liquid to be distributed, and the cover solves the problems of excessive time expense and environmental harm caused by the necessity to clean the floor finish applicator with each use and the pre-soaking required for optimal liquid distribution. If the disclosed internal head structure is not used, any means could be used to connect the entry opening to the plurality of at least four exit openings including any configuration of channels or open space through which the liquid to be distributed could flow from the entry opening to the exit openings. It should be understood that the foregoing represents merely an exemplary embodiment of the present invention and that various changes and modifications can be made in the arrangements and details of construction of the elements described and shown herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.