Title:
Hair curler/hair brush
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved hair curler/hair brush device that converts from a curling iron to a hair brush with the addition of a hollow tube that slides over the curling iron barrel that has bristles thereon for brushing the hair. A radiant energy heat source is placed within the barrel of the curling iron. A plurality of perforations in the barrel allow radiant energy from the heat source to escape the barrel to the hair of the user. Openings in the hollow tube that forms the hair brush are in substantial alignment with the perforations in the barrel to enable radiant energy from the heat source to escape the barrel and the hollow tube to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair. A non-heat conducting end cap is rotatably mounted to the outer end of the barrel to enable both hands of the user to be used simultaneously to manipulate the device. The device can be both portable (cordless) or non-portable (power cord attached).



Inventors:
Evanyk, Walter R. (Plano, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/255298
Publication Date:
04/26/2007
Filing Date:
10/21/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ATKISSON, JIANYING CUI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WALTER R. EVANYK (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of improving a hair curling iron/hair brush having a non-heat conducting handle, a barrel attached to the handle, a heat source in the barrel, and an elongated hair clip for curling the hair; the curling iron being convertible to a hair brush by sliding a hollow tube, having a wall with an interior surface and an exterior surface with bristles associated with the exterior surface and with at least some openings formed in the wall of the hollow tube, over the curling iron barrel and hair clip for attachment thereto to form a hair brush for brushing the hair of the user; the improvement comprising the steps of: forming the heat source in the barrel as a radiant energy heat source; forming a plurality of perforations in the barrel to allow radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during curling the hair with the curling iron; and causing at least some of the openings in the hollow tube, when slid over the barrel, to be in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair with the hair brush.

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of: affixing a rotatable end cap on the end of the barrel opposite the handle for enabling both hands of the user to be used to manipulate movement of the curling iron/hair brush.

3. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of: providing a DC power source in the handle of the curling iron to provide power to the radiant energy heat source and cause the curling iron/hair brush to be portable.

4. The method of claim 1 further comprising the steps of; coupling an external AC power source to the curling iron/hair brush for providing power to the radiant energy heat source for the curling iron/hair brush.

5. The method of claim 4 further comprising the steps of: providing batteries as a DC power source in the handle of the curling iron/hair brush to provide power to the radiant energy heat source; coupling an AC/DC converter between the associated AC power source and the DC power source for providing DC power to the curling iron/hair brush; and coupling at least one switch between the radiant energy heat source and a selected one of the AC/DC converter and DC power source to select one of charging the batteries and powering the radiant energy heat source with the AC/DC converter.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of forming the power source in the barrel as a radiant heat source further comprises the steps of: placing a ceramic heat conducting rod within the barrel of the curling iron/hair brush, the ceramic rod having opposing inner and outer ends; and associating a length of radiant energy generating resistance wire with the ceramic heat conducting rod, the length of wire having opposing first and second ends and having sufficient resistance to cause the desired radiant energy to be generated and radiated through the perforations in the barrel to the hair during use of the curling iron and through the aligned tube openings and barrel perforations during use of the hair brush.

7. The method of claim 6 further comprising the steps of: forming the ceramic heat conducting rod as a unitary element; and wrapping a length of nickel-chromium wire, as the resistance wire heat generating source, for generating radiant energy along the length of the ceramic rod from the inner end to the outer end.

8. The method of claim 7 further comprising the steps of: associating electrical connectors with the opposing first and second ends of the resistance wire; forming an elongated orifice through the center of the length of the ceramic rod to accommodate an electrical conductor having inner and outer ends with the outer end coupled to the connector associated with the outer opposing end of the length of resistance wire; and selectively coupling the power source to the inner end of the electrical conductor and to the electrical connector associated with the inner opposing end of the length of resistance wire.

9. An improved hair curling iron/hair brush having a non-heat conducting handle, a barrel, a heat source within the barrel, and an elongated hair clip for curling the hair; the curling iron being convertible to a hair brush by sliding a hollow tube, having an interior surface and an exterior surface with openings formed in the hollow tube and having bristles associated with the exterior surface, over the curling iron barrel and elongated hair clip for attachment thereto to form a hair brush for use in brushing the hair of the user; the improved hair curling iron/hair brush comprising: a radiant energy generating device in the curling iron barrel for use as the heat source; a plurality of perforations in the curling iron barrel to allow radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during use of the curling iron to curl the hair; and at least some of the openings in the hollow tube being in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the curling iron barrel to enable the generated radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during use of the hair brush.

10. The convertible hair curler of claim 9 further comprising: a rotatable non-heat conducting end cap on the end of the barrel opposite the handle for a enabling both hands of the user to manipulate movement of the curling iron/hair brush.

11. The convertible hair curler of claim 9 further comprising: a DC power source in the handle of the curling iron to provide power to the radiant energy heat source and cause the curling iron/hair brush to be portable. during operation thereof.

12. The convertible hair curler of claim 11 further comprising: batteries as the DC power source located in the handle of the curling iron/hair brush to provide power to the radiant energy heat source; an AC power source; and an AC/DC converter coupled between the AC power source and the DC power source for enabling the curling iron/hair brush to receive power for a selected one of charging of the batteries and powering the radiant energy heat source.

13. The convertible hair curler of claim 12 further comprising a switch for selectively coupling the AC/DC converter to a desired one of charging the batteries and powering the load.

14. The convertible hair curler of claim 9 wherein the radiant heat source further comprises: a ceramic heat conducting rod within the barrel of the curling iron/hair brush, the ceramic rod having an inner end and an outer end; and a length of radiant energy generating resistance wire associated with the ceramic heating conducting rod, the length of wire having opposing outer and inner ends and having sufficient resistance to cause the desired radiant energy to be generated and radiated through the perforations in the barrel to the hair during use of the curling iron and through the aligned tube openings and barrel perforations during use of the hair brush.

15. Apparatus as in claim 14 further comprising: a unitary ceramic heat conducting rod having an inner end and an outer end; and a length of nickel-chromium wire as the radiant energy generating resistive wire being wrapped about the length of the ceramic rod from the inner end to the outer end.

16. Apparatus as in claim 15 further comprising: electrical connectors associated with opposing inner and outer ends of the resistance wire; an elongated orifice formed through the center of the length of the ceramic rod to accommodate an electrical conductor having inner and outer ends with the outer end coupled to the connector associated with one of the opposing first and second ends of the length of resistance wire; and a DC power source selectively coupled between the inner end of the electrical conductor and to the electrical connector associated with the other opposing end of the length of resistance wire.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates in general to hair manipulation devices and in particular to an improved hair curling iron that is convertible to a hot air brush. The improvement comprises a radiant energy heat source in a curling iron barrel, perforations in the barrel to enable radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during curling of the hair, and a member slidable over the barrel and hair clip of the curling iron, the member having bristles associated therewith and having at least some openings therein that are in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the curling iron barrel to enable radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair.

2. Description of Related Art Including Information Under 37 CFR §1.97 and §1.98

There are many different types of hair management devices such as curling irons, hair blower/dryers, hair straighteners, and hot air brushes. To applicant's knowledge, the majority use alternating current to supply energy to their load and, therefore, are connected by cords that have an electrical plug that must be inserted into an AC voltage socket in order to operate them. Applicant is a co-inventor of the Portable Hair Dryer disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,449,870, commonly owned, and has pending applications related thereto.

Whether portable or non-portable, many existing hair management devices use an elongated element, such as a cylindrical shape, made of a material such as steel or relatively thick aluminum and such material has a mass that requires long heating periods and cooling periods.

In addition, the heating elements themselves are of ceramic or other materials that are sandwiched between conductive metal plates that are in heat transfer relationship to the elongated metal member. This construction requires heat transfer from the heating elements through electrical insulation, such as mica, to the conductive metal plates to the elongated metal member. Such construction causes an increased time for the elongated metal element to heat and to cool and causes inefficient operation of the device.

Also, in commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 6,449,870, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, there is disclosed a portable device with a circuit for prolonging the life of the batteries by using a pulser circuit that includes an oscillator, a shift register, and a temperature selector that selects a certain stage in the shift register. The selected stage enables only those pulses in the selected stage to be applied to the power transistor that drives the load, i.e. the heating element, to maintain the heat attained by the heating element without having continuous power applied thereto. In commonly owned, commonly assigned, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/055,235, there is disclosed a hair curler and a separate hot air brush, each of which generates radiant energy and allows the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user.

Among the many different types of hair management devices available to the public, there is shown in FIGS. 1-9 a mobile Tong (hair curler 10) that serves as a hair curler that can be converted to a hot hair brush when needed as shown in FIG. 6.

A thumb operated lever 18 is pivotally coupled to the handle 12 in any well known manner for moving the hair clip 16 away from the barrel 14 to receive the hair of the user for curling the hair. A switch 20 is provided to connect the batteries (not shown) in the handle 12 to the heat source (not shown) in the barrel 14. An LED, not shown but located under a colored lens 22, provides the user with an indication that the switch 20 has been activated as is well-known in the art and that the curling iron 10 heat source in the barrel, not shown, is receiving power from the batteries. Under cover 24 is a power input jack (not shown but well-known in the art) that enables an external DC power supply to charge the batteries. This is accomplished by placing the curling iron 10 in a cradle (well known in the art), when not in use, that has a mating jack thereon and that functions similar to that shown in FIG. 7 of commonly assigned, copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/094,000, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and entitled “Portable Energy Consuming Device”. Such cradle, or base unit, enables an external DC power source to charge the batteries. The external DC power source is connected to the mating jack in the cradle (cover 24 must be removed) and provides power to the power input jack for charging the batteries. A cap 26, made of a non-heat conducting material, is rigidly attached to the outer end of the barrel 14 to enable the user to touch the outer end of the barrel without burning the skin. A removable cover 30 enables the batteries in the handle 12 to be replaced as needed. FIGS. 2 and 3 are side views of the hair curler 10.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the hair curler 10. It shows a screw or other well-known fastener 27 that holds the cap 26 rigidly to the barrel 14. FIG. 4 also shows screw holes 32 that hold the barrel 14 and its related assembly to the handle 12.

FIG. 5 is a rear view of the hair curler 10 illustrating screw holes 28 for attaching the rear cap 30 to the handle 12.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the curling iron 10 after it has been converted to a hot hair brush by sliding a hollow tube 34, having an interior surface and an exterior surface, over the curling iron barrel 14 and hair clip 16 for attachment to the handle portion 12.

FIG. 7 is also a perspective view of the prior art hair curler/hair brush with a cover 37, formed of any desirable material such as high impact plastic, placed over the barrel 14 of hair curler 10 or over the hollow tube 34 having bristles 36 thereon for esthetic improvement and for storage.

FIG. 8 is a side view of the hollow tube 34 that converts the curling iron 10 into a hot hair brush as shown in FIG. 6. It can be seen in FIG. 8 that bristles 36 are integrally formed on the exterior surface 38 of rings 50 (see FIG. 9) each of which is separated from its neighbor by a space 42 shown in FIG. 8. The hollow tube 34 may be formed in any well known fashion such as by injection molding. The spaced rings 50 forming the hollow tube 34 also have an interior surface 40. As will be seen in FIG. 9, an end view of the hollow tube 34, eight columns of bristles 36 are formed on twenty-two spaced rings 50 used in this version of the hair curler/hair brush. More or less columns of bristles 36 may be used as needed and more or less rows (or spaced rings) of bristles 36 may be used depending on the length of the curling iron barrel 14. Each of the spaced rings 50 is integrally formed with two longitudinally extending bars 48 spaced in opposed relationship as shown in FIG. 8. Again, more than two longitudinally extending bars 48 could be used as desired for rigidity of the hollow tube 34.

To attach the brush 34 to the curling iron 10, it must slide not only over the curling iron barrel 14 but also over the hair clip 16 on the barrel 14 (see FIGS. 1-3). This is accomplished as shown in FIG. 9 by a recess 52 on the interior surface 40 of each of the spaced rings 50 with the recess 52 being of a depth sufficient to allow the hair clip 16 to be received therein.

A notch or recess 54 is shown in FIG. 8 to be formed in the end of the brush 34 that attaches to the handle 12. As can be seen in FIG. 8, projections 44 and 46 are formed to extend inwardly on the outer end of the notch or recess 54 and engage dimples 56 and 58 (shown in FIGS. 2 and 3) in press fit contact to enable the brush 34 to be placed on, held in place, and removed from the barrel 14 of curling iron 10.

It is well known that curling irons and other hair manipulation devices operate at very high temperatures sufficient to burn the skin of the user. Further, it is known that the use of radiant energy has advantages over the prior art. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,602,143, there is disclosed an infrared hair styling device in the form of a hair curling iron with an air blower fan therein. It employs an infrared heating source within its curling barrel that provides heat in the form of radiation having a wavelength of 1 to 7 microns. The barrel is transparent to such radiation to allow radiation to pass through the barrel and penetrate the hair tresses. This patent is cited by Cafaro in U.S. Pat. No. 6,363,215 who states that while this arrangement may function adequately in a curling iron, it is not readily adaptable to a curling brush because the transparency of the heating barrel reduces its heat absorption and renders the barrel too cool.

Cafaro then discloses a curling brush having a heat source comprised of a convection heater and a halogen bulb. The brush barrel is opaque to and absorbent of the heat emitted by the bulb so that it can operate at a temperature sufficient for setting curls.

Cafaro has a second patent, U.S. Pat. No. 6,285,828 that also discloses an improved hair dryer including a traditional fan-forced heating system that is enhanced with radiant heat having wavelengths in the infrared and visible light spectrum. The halogen light bulb generates visible light as well as infrared energy and the visible light provides an indicator of the presence of infrared energy. Cafaro states that the use of such combined heating system results in less damage to the hair and skin which, Cafaro states, is most likely the result of added caution a user employs in the presence of heat with visible light.

It would be advantageous to improve the curling iron/hair brush of the prior art by forming a heat source in the barrel of the curling iron as a radiant energy heat source, forming a plurality of perforations in the barrel to allow radiant energy to escape from the radiant energy heat source within the barrel to the hair of the user during use of the curling iron and causing at least some of the openings in the hollow tube, when slid over the barrel of the curling iron to form the hair brush, to be in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair with the hair brush.

It would also be advantageous to enable the curling iron/hair brush to be operated with an internal power supply as a portable (cordless) device, as a non-portable device (with cord attached) to be powered with the use of external circuits, and as a device that can be placed in a holder during non-use wherein the internal power source (batteries) can be recharged while the unit is in the holder.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an improved hair curler/hair brush that is so designed as to enable radiant energy from a radiant energy heat source located in the barrel of the curling iron to be applied to the hair during use of the device both as a curling iron and as a hair brush. The radiant energy generated by the heat source passes to the hair of the user by means of perforations in the barrel during use of the device as a curling iron.

When the device is converted to a hot hair brush, a hollow tube having brush bristles thereon and formed with at least some openings in the hollow tube, is slid over the curling iron barrel and associated hair clip with at least some of the openings in the hollow tube being in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair with the hair brush.

A non-heat conductive cap is rotatably mounted on the outer end of the barrel to enable a user thereof to use both hands to rotate the curling iron/hair brush during manipulation of the hair.

The curling iron/hair brush is made portable by placing a DC power source in the handle to provide power to the radiant energy heat source and any associated electronics.

A base stand (well-known in the art) is provided in which to place the hair manipulation device when not in use to automatically disconnect the internal batteries from the load and to enable the internal batteries to be charged from an AC/DC converter output that is removably attached, with an electrical cord, to the base stand.

The output of the AC/DC converter may be coupled directly to a power input jack on the curling iron/hair brush to enable the device to be powered externally if desired. A manually operated electronic switch in the device is coupled between the external power source power input jack and the load and, if desired, is used to directly couple the external power source to the load, bypassing the internal batteries and thus preventing the internal batteries from being connected to the load in any event, thereby making the device non-portable, a term that is defined herein as “having an external power source cable continuously connected to the hair manipulation device to enable the device to be operated.”

In typical operation, the base of the hair manipulation device is placed in, and held by, the base stand with an electrical female (or male) contact extending upwardly from the base stand. The base of the device, when placed in the base stand, has a corresponding male (or female) contact that mates with the contact extending upwardly from the base stand. Thus, in this position, the output of the AC/DC converter is used to automatically charge the internal batteries of the device. The contact extending upwardly from the base stand is inserted in an electrical jack in the base of the device and that automatically operates a spring-loaded internal switch in the device to automatically open the internal switch and disconnect the internal batteries from the load and connect the external power to the batteries to recharge them. When the device is removed from the base stand, the internal switch automatically closes and, once again, connects the internal batteries to the load so that the device can be used as a portable unit.

If it is desired to use the device as a “non-portable” device (cord attached), a manually operated switch on the device is activated as explained earlier.

The radiant heat source may include a ceramic heat conducting rod placed with the barrel of the curling iron/hair brush, the ceramic rod having an inner end and an outer end. In the preferred embodiment, a length of nickel-chromium wire is associated with the ceramic heat conducting rod to provide radiant energy. The nickel-chromium wire is the preferred radiant energy heat source but those skilled in the art will realize that other elements such as, for a example only, heat generating ceramic and halogen light bulbs could also be used.

In the preferred embodiment, the nickel-chromium wire is of a length that has sufficient electrical resistance to cause the desired radiant energy to be generated and radiated. The perforations in the curling iron/hair brush barrel allow the generated radiant energy to be transferred to the hair of the user during use of the device as a curling iron. When the device is used as a hair brush, at least some of the openings in the elongated bristle member, such as a tube, that slides over the curling iron barrel are aligned with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable the generated radiant energy to be transferred to the hair of the user as it is being brushed.

The ceramic heat conducting rod may be formed in any well-known manner but is preferably formed as a single, unitary item. Again, in the preferred embodiment, the nickel-chromium electrical resistance wire is wrapped evenly around the length of the ceramic rod from its inner end to its outer end. Electrical connectors are formed on inner and outer ends of the ceramic rod to which electrical connections may be made to corresponding ends of the resistance wire. In the preferred embodiment, an elongated orifice is formed through the center of the length of the ceramic rod and an electrical conductor is placed therein with one end electrically attached to the electrical connector associated with the outer end of the ceramic rod and the power source is associated with the electrical connector associated with the inner end of the ceramic rod and with the other opposing end of the electrical conductor placed in the elongated orifice. In use, with the switches in the device properly positioned, the power source may be selectively coupled to the load or to the internal batteries for either operating the device as a non-portable device with the cable of the external power source connected directly to the device or to charge the batteries automatically when the device is placed in its base stand, and to make the device portable by using the internal batteries as the power source when the device is removed from its base stand.

Thus it is an object of the present invention to improve a hair curler/hair brush by placing a radiant energy heat source in the barrel of the hair curler/hair brush and providing means for the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during both curling and brushing.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a plurality of orifices in the curling iron barrel to allow the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user when using the device as a hair curler.

It a still another object of the present invention to align at least some openings in a hollow bristle carrying member, such as an elongated tube, that is slid over the curling iron barrel to form a hair brush with at least some of the openings in the curling iron barrel to enable radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user when the device is used as a hair brush.

It is yet another object of the present invention to place a rotatable, non-heat conducting cap on the outer end of the curling iron barrel opposite the handle for enabling both hands of the user to be used to manipulate movement of the curling iron/hair brush.

It is an important object of the present invention to provide a hair curler/hair brush that can be operated as a portable device using only the internal batteries to power the heat source, that can be operated directly from an external power source in a non-portable fashion using a selector switch on the device, and that can be placed in a base stand where the internal batteries are automatically charged and automatically disconnected from the load during the time the device is on the base stand.

Thus, the present invention relates to a method of improving a hair curling iron that is formed with a non-heat conducting handle, a barrel attached to the handle, a heat source in the barrel, and an elongated hair clip for curling hair; the curling iron being convertible to a hair brush by sliding a hollow tube, having an interior surface and an exterior surface with bristles associated with the exterior surface and with at least some openings formed in the hollow tube, over the curling iron barrel and hair clip for attachment thereto to form a hair brush for brushing the hair of the user, the improvement comprising the steps of forming the heat source in the barrel as a radiant energy heat source; forming a plurality of perforations in the barrel to allow radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during curling the hair with the curling iron; and causing at least some of the openings in the hollow tube, when slid over the barrel, to be in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during brushing of the hair with the hair brush.

The invention also relates to an improved hair curling iron/hair brush having a non-heat conducting handle, a barrel, a heat source within the barrel, and an elongated hair clip for curling the hair, the curling iron being convertible to a hair brush by sliding a hollow tube, having an interior surface and an exterior surface with openings formed in the hollow tube and having bristles associated with exterior surface, over the curling iron barrel and elongated hair clip for attachment thereto to form a hair brush for use in brushing the hair of the user, the improved hair curling iron/hair brush comprising a radiant energy generating device in the curling iron barrel for use as the heat source, a plurality of perforations in the curling iron barrel to allow radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during use of the curling iron, and at least some of the openings in the hollow tube in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the curling iron barrel to enable the generated radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user during use of the hair brush.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other important features of the present invention will be more fully disclosed when taken in conjunction with the following Detailed Description of the Drawings in which like numerals represent like elements, and in which:

FIGS. 1-9 are various views of a prior art hair curling iron that is convertible to a hair brush;

FIG. 10 is a partial cross-sectional view of the modified hair curler of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the novel radiant energy heating element associated with a ceramic rod that is placed within the barrel of the curling iron/hair brush of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the barrel of the curling iron/hair brush of the present invention illustrating the orifices therein for enabling radiant energy from the heat source to escape to the hair of the user; and

FIG. 13 is an electronic circuit that enables the curling iron/hair brush to be used as a portable device, to be used as a non-portable device, and to automatically allow the internal power source (batteries) to be charged from an external power source when the device is placed in a base stand when not in use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-9 are various views of a prior art curling iron that can be converted to a hair brush as has been explained earlier

As stated earlier, this unit can be improved by forming a heat source in the barrel of the curling iron as a radiant energy source, forming a plurality of perforations or orifices in the barrel to allow the radiant energy to escape from the barrel to the hair of the user during use of the curling iron and causing at least some of the openings in the hollow tube, when slid over the barrel of the curling iron to form the hair brush, to be in alignment with at least some of the perforations in the barrel to enable the radiant energy to escape to the hair of the user when the hair brush is being used.

FIG. 10 is a side view of the improved curling iron with the barrel 14 shown in cross-section. It includes an externally activated switch 96 that enables the device 10 to be operated as a non-portable device as will be explained hereinafter. In the barrel 14 is placed a heat source support 60, which in the preferred embodiment is formed of non-electrically conducting ceramic. The heat source 66 may be formed of any radiant energy generating material but in the preferred embodiment is a nickel-chromium wire, #26 AWG, having a sufficient length to provide the desired temperature and generation of radiant energy. In the preferred embodiment, the wire is 9.0 inches in length and has a resistance of 2.1 ohms. With a DC power source of 7.2 volts, this provides 3.5 amperes of current to the heat source to generate heat and radiant energy. The nickel-chromium wire 66 is wound around the heat support 60 in a substantially evenly spaced manner as shown in FIG. 11.

As can be seen in FIG. 10, and as can be seen more clearly in FIG. 11, the preferred embodiment of the ceramic support 60 has a hollow interior 63 and has two enlarged cylindrical ends 62 and 64 for supporting the barrel 14 with multiple perforations 58. Obviously, the ceramic support 60 does not have to be hollow. The electrical conductor 66 could be placed on the outside of the ceramic support 60 instead of on the inside. The outer end 70 of the nickel-chromium wire 66 is returned to the power supply through the hollow interior 63 of the ceramic support. Thus, the inner end 68 of the nickel-chromium heating element and the outer end 70 are coupled to the power supply as will be shown in relation to FIG. 13. Also, as can be seen in FIG. 10, the non-heat conducting outer end cap 74 has a screw 72 or other fastening means well-known in the art that attaches the end cap 74 to the ceramic support in a rotatable manner so that when the device is being used as either a hair curler or a hair brush, it can be rotated and the user can use both hands to manipulate the device because one hand can twist or move the handle as needed whereas the other hand can be use to hold the end cap 74 in a fixed position while the device is being used to curl or brush the hair. The end cap 74 can be made rotatable in many well-known ways. For example, the depth of the screw receiving orifice 71 (shown best in FIG. 11) can be made a slight bit shorter than the screw 72. Thus, when the screw 72 is fully inserted in orifice 71, there is sufficient space between the end cap 74 and the outer cylindrical ceramic end 64 to enable the end cap 74 to rotate.

The perforated barrel is shown in detail in FIG. 12. It has two flexible tabs 76 and 78 on the inner end thereof for holding the barrel within front end plate 57 in any well-known manner. A screw (not shown) may also be used in any well-known fashion to hold the inner end of the perforated barrel 14 to the ceramic support 60.

FIG. 13 is an electrical diagram for the curling iron/hair brush 10. It is designed such that the device 10 can be operated as a portable device without any external power cord attached, as a non-portable device with the power cord attached with the use of switch 96, and as a device wherein the internal batteries can be charged whenever device 10 is placed on its base.

As can be seen in FIG. 13, the device 10 has a base jack 80 for receiving power when it is placed on a base (not shown) and is mated with a power jack 82 for receiving power from the base. Base power jack 82 receives its power from an AC/DC converter jack 84 and the AC/DC converter (not shown) receives its power from wall plug 88 that is plugged into any AC wall plug. Note that there are three output connectors on AC/DC converter jack 84. Connectors 1 and 3 provide positive DC voltage and connector 2 provides negative DC voltage. The same three polarity voltages are connected to the three terminals of base charger jack 82. However, the power jack 80 in the base of the hair curler/hair brush 10 has only connectors 1 and 2 contacting connectors 1 and 2 of base charger jack 82.

When the hair curler/hair brush 10 is being used as a portable device with NO cord attached, it is not on the base and no external electrical connection is made to the connectors power jack 80. However, switches are automatically switched by a probe on the base in a well-known manner when the device 10 is placed on, and taken off, the base. The contact switch positions 88, 90, and 92 shown in FIG. 13 indicate the switch position when the device 10 is placed ON the base. Therefore, when it is desired to use the hair curler/hair brush (device) 10 as a portable (cordless) device and it is removed from the base, the switches 88, 90, and 92 are in the opposite positions as shown in FIG. 13. Thus, in that case, switch 88 is closed, switch 90 is opened and switch 92 is closed. This enables the power from the internal power source 94 (batteries) to pass through switch 88, the load 66 (nickel-chromium resistive wire), through closed switch 92, normally closed contacts 100 of switch 96 and back to the positive terminal of the battery 94. The device 10 is thus a portable device.

When the device 10 is placed back on the base, the switches 88, 90, and 92 assume the positions shown. A positive voltage on connector 1 of the power jack 80 is connected to the positive terminal of battery 94 as shown. Switch 88 and switch 92 are now open so no voltage can get to the load. However, switch 90 is now closed so that the negative terminal of the battery 94 is connected as shown to connector 2 (the negative connector) of power jack 80 and the battery 94 is charged through closed switch 90. Contact 100 of switch 96 is closed so that the circuit to the battery 94 is complete.

If for any reason it is desired to use the device with the external power source attached to the unit by electrical extension cord 83, plug 85 of extension cord 83 is connected to plug 82 of the base charger or may be directly connected to the output of the AC/DC converter plug 84. It will be noted that pins 2-3 of each of the plugs or jacks 80, 82, 85, and 87 are the only active pins in cord plug 85 and are connected only to the negative and positive supply voltage polarity voltages respectively. Thus, if extension cord 83 is used, and plug 85, on one end of the extension cord 83, is connected either to the base connector jack or plug 82 or directly to the AC/DC converter plug or jack 84, and cord plug 87 on the other end of the extension cord 83 is connected to power jack 80 of the hair curler/hair brush device 10, only pins 2 and 3 are used and the positive voltage on pin 3 of power jack 80 on the device 10 is coupled to switch section 98 of externally operated double pole, single throw switch 96. The negative voltage on pin 2 is coupled directly to one end of load 66 by means of line 65.

When the device 10 is used as a non-portable device (extension cord 83 is attached), externally operated switch 96 shown on the handle 12 in FIG. 10, is manually activated. As can be seen in FIG. 13, the switch 96 has a first normally open contact 98 that is located in line 102 from the load 66 to pin 3, through closed switch 88, (the positive voltage) of jack 80. In this position, (normally open switch contacts 98), the device 10 cannot operate with a cord 83 attached to either base charger or the AC/DC output jack 84. Switch 96 also has a second contact 100 that is normally closed. This allows the device 10 to be operated as a portable (cordless) device and to charge the device batteries 94 automatically when the device is placed on its base (not shown).

Because the device 10 is removed from its base (not shown) in the portable (cordless) arrangement, switches 88 and 92 close, switch contact 100 is already closed, and switch 90 opens. This allows the device 10 to operate with the internal batteries coupled to the load 66 through closed switch 92, load 66, and closed switch 88. The device is therefore portable (cordless).

However, pin 1 of the jack 80, when plug 85 of extension cord 83 is connected thereto, is not connected to any voltage source and the positive voltage on pin 3 is dropped through the load 66 and returns to the negative pin 2 on jack 80 of the device 10. Switch 96, contacts 100, is open and prevents the battery 94 from being placed in parallel with the external power source. While switch 92 is closed in the external cord operation with the device 10 off the base (not shown), the circuit is coupled through closed switch contact 92 to pin 1 (that shorts pins 1 and 2 of plug 80); however, the cord 83 has no voltage on pin 1 of either of its plug jacks 85 and 87 and no detrimental operation occurs.

Thus there has been disclosed an improved hair curler/hair brush device that uses radiant energy to curl and to brush the hair. The device has a barrel with perforations therein that enable radiant energy from a heat source to pass through the barrel to the hair of the user when the device is being used as a hair curler.

The device also includes openings in the hollow brush attachment that are substantially in alignment with the perforations in the barrel when the device is converted into a hair brush. This alignment allows the radiant energy from the heat source to pass to the hair of the user when the device is being used as a hair brush.

The device also has a non-heat conducting rotatable end cap that enables both hands of the user to manipulate the hair curler/hair brush to either curl or brush the hair, one hand on the handle and the finger of the other hand on the rotatable end cap.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described in detail, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications of the present invention, in its various embodiments, may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Other elements, steps, methods, and techniques that are insubstantially different from those described herein are also within the scope of the invention. Thus, the scope of the invention should not be limited by the particular embodiments described herein but should be defined by the appended claims and equivalents thereof.