Title:
Jet Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A jet assembly includes a casing defining a fluid flow path. The casing is adapted to couple to a basin. An impeller is disposed in the flow path and adapted to generate a flow through the flow path. A motor is coupled to the casing and the impeller and adapted to rotate the impeller. A nozzle is in the flow path adapted to receive flow from the casing and direct the flow in at least two distinct, divergent streams.



Inventors:
Le, Thanh Van (Richardson, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/737449
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
04/19/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/022; A61H33/00; A61H33/02; A61H33/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (DA) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pedicure basin assembly, comprising: a basin body adapted to hold a fluid; and only one jet assembly coupled to the basin body, the jet assembly adapted to receive fluid from the basin body and direct the fluid back into the basin body in at least two distinct divergent streams.

2. The pedicure basin of claim 1, wherein the jet assembly comprises: a casing defining a fluid flow path, the casing adapted to couple to a basin; an impeller disposed in the flow path and adapted to generate a flow through the flow path; and a motor coupled to the casing and the impeller and adapted to rotate the impeller.

3. The pedicure basin of claim 2, further comprising an air intake disposed through the casing, the air intake adapted to introduce air into the flow path.

4. The pedicure basin of claim 1, wherein the jet assembly comprises: an intake cover adapted to allow passage of fluid from the basin body into an interior of the jet assembly; and a nozzle adapted to direct fluid from the interior of the jet assembly in the at least two divergent streams.

5. The pedicure basin of claim 4, wherein the intake cover comprises a solid portion adjacent the nozzle and an apertured sidewall portion about a perimeter of the intake cover.

6. The pedicure basin of claim 4, wherein the nozzle comprises a V-shaped flow divider.

7. The pedicure basin of claim 1 wherein the basin body is adapted to receive the feet of a user and the jet assembly is adapted to direct flow toward both of the user's feet concurrently.

8. The pedicure basin of claim 1 further comprising a chair, and wherein the jet assembly and chair reside on opposite sides of the basin body.

9. A jet assembly comprising: a casing defining a fluid flow path, the casing adapted to couple to a basin; an impeller disposed in the flow path and adapted to generate a flow through the flow path; a motor coupled to the casing and the impeller and adapted to rotate the impeller; and a nozzle in the flow path adapted to receive flow from the casing and direct the flow in at least two divergent streams.

10. The jet assembly of claim 8, further comprising an air intake disposed through the casing, the air intake adapted to introduce air into the flow path.

11. The jet assembly of claim 8, further comprising an intake cover adapted to allow passage of fluid from the basin body into an interior of the jet assembly, the intake cover having a solid portion adjacent the nozzle and an apertured sidewall portion about a perimeter of the intake cover.

12. The jet assembly of claim 10, wherein the solid portion is frusto-conical.

13. The jet assembly of claim 8, wherein the nozzle comprises a V-shaped flow divider.

14. The jet assembly of claim 8, wherein the nozzle is adapted to direct the flow in at least two divergent streams in substantially the same plane.

15. The jet assembly of claim 8, wherein the nozzle is adapted to divide the flow from the casing substantially equally between the divergent streams.

16. The jet assembly of claim 8, wherein the nozzle has a substantially spherical portion that is received in a spherical receptacle carried by the casing.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/958,930, filed Oct. 10, 2004, which claims foreign priority benefits under 35 U.S.C. §119 of Taiwanese patent application number 093105126 filed Feb. 27, 2004 and Taiwanese patent application number 093111340 filed Apr. 23, 2004.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure relates to water jets, and particularly to jet assemblies for use in a spa or tub.

With reference to FIG. 1, a prior art bath 1 is illustrated. In the prior art, a suction inlet motor 2, a plurality of tubes 3, an inlet 4, and a plurality of water outlets 5 are installed in the bath 1. In use, the motor 2 is actuated so that the suction inlet 4 will draw water into the motor 2 and force the water out of the motor through the tubes 3 to the outlets 5. The water is transferred to the outlets 5 through the tubes 3 so as to be propelled into the bath 1.

Upon use of the prior art system, the tubes 3, inlet 4 and outlets 5 are never fully purged. The constant presence of water in the system facilitates the growth of bacteria, mold, and algae. Additionally, the inlets 4 and outlets 5 are fixed so that they typically cannot be detached for cleaning. The tubes 3 also become difficult to clean, often requiring the use of bleach or cleaning agent added to the bath 1 and operation of the system for a period of time for cleaning. Failure to undertake the time-consuming and cumbersome process of forcing a cleaning solution through the prior art system, especially for systems used by many different people, can result in the spread of infectious bacteria and other disease, and results in a general unsanitary state of the bath.

SUMMARY

In one aspect, jet assembly includes a casing defining a fluid flow path. The casing is adapted to couple to a basin. An impeller is disposed in the flow path and adapted to generate a flow through the flow path. A motor is coupled to the casing and the impeller and adapted to rotate the impeller. A nozzle is in the flow path adapted to receive flow from the casing and direct the flow in at least two distinct divergent streams.

In another aspect, a pedicure basin assembly includes a basin body adapted to hold a fluid. Only one jet assembly is coupled to the basin body. The jet assembly is adapted to receive fluid from the basin body and direct the fluid back into the basin body in at least two distinct divergent directions.

Various of the aspects can include one or more of the following features. For example, the jet assembly can include a casing defining a fluid flow path and adapted to couple to a basin, an impeller can be disposed in the flow path and adapted to generate a flow through the flow path, and a motor coupled to the casing and the impeller and adapted to rotate the impeller. In some aspects the jet assembly can also include an air intake disposed through the casing and adapted to introduce air into the flow path. In some aspects the jet assembly can include an intake cover adapted to allow passage of fluid from the basin body into an interior of the jet assembly, and a nozzle adapted to direct fluid from the interior of the jet assembly in the at least two divergent streams. The intake cover can include a solid portion adjacent the nozzle and an apertured sidewall portion about a perimeter of the intake cover. The nozzle can include a V-shaped flow divider. The basin body can be adapted to receive the feet of a user and the jet assembly can be adapted to direct flow toward both of the user's feet concurrently. The pedicure basin can include a chair, and the jet assembly and can chair reside on opposite sides of the basin body.

The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a prior art bath system.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an illustrative jet assembly in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the water jet assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the jet assembly of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 5 and 5A are a cross sectional view and a detail cross sectional view of a portion of the jet assembly of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 6 and 6A are a cross sectional view and a detail cross sectional view of another portion of the jet assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of the water jet assembly of FIG. 2 that illustrates a mode of operation of a jet assembly.

FIGS. 8 and 8A are a cross sectional view and a detail cross sectional view of the nozzle of the jet assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 9 is an illustrative bath system including a plurality of jet assemblies in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 10 is a partial view in cross section of a jet assembly including an air inlet.

FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view of an illustrative water jet assembly that includes a water sensor in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 12 is a schematic of an illustrative water sensor for use with a water jet assembly in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 13 is a cross sectional view of the water jet of FIG. 11 illustrating a water level that is insufficient to allow operation of the jet.

FIG. 14 is a cross sectional view of the jet assembly of FIG. 2 including a multi-directional nozzle and alternate face plate configuration.

FIG. 15 is a an illustrative pedicure bath system including a single jet assembly.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, an illustrative water jet assembly 10 constructed in accordance with the invention includes a motor 40 with a housing 41, an intake cover 12 having a nozzle aperture 14 and one or more intake apertures 16, and a locking ring 34. A fastener 18 may also be included to secure the cover 12 to a casing 32. The motor 40 provides rotational energy via a drive shaft 42 through the casing 32 to a cycling unit 20. The intake apertures 16 may be sized such that debris such as dirt, foreign objects, hair, or other matter may not enter the casing 32 when the cover 12 is secured to the casing 32.

In the implementation shown, the cycling unit includes a mask 22, a nozzle 24 movably secured within flanges 23, an impeller 26, and an impeller seat 28. A casing assembly 30 may include the jet casing 32, a locking ring 34, and a sealing ring or O-ring 36. Additionally, the casing 32 may be coupled to the motor housing 41. As shown in FIG. 4, the jet casing 32 includes a flange 39 that may be sized such that the body of the casing 32 may be inserted from the interior of a tub or basin 46 through a jet aperture 48 and the flange 39 seats against an interior surface 47 proximate to the jet aperture 48 of the basin 46. Once the body of the casing 32 is inserted through the interior of the basin 46, the O-ring 36 and the locking ring 34 may be tightened against the exterior of the tub to hold the casing 32 in place to prevent leakage of fluids from within the basin 46 through the jet aperture 48. It should be understood that various components, such as the casing 32, intake cover 12, one or more components of the cycling unit 20, and one or more components of the casing assembly 30 may be manufactured from suitable materials, such as polymers, copolymers, plastics, nylons, olefins, polybenzothiazole composite, metals, or other suitable materials having sufficient properties for jet assembly components.

In the implementation shown in FIG. 4, the locking ring 34 is threaded to mate with threads on the exterior of the body of the casing 32. In alternative implementations, other configurations such as a J-latch may be used to secure the locking ring 34 to the casing 32 to hold the casing 32 in place.

FIGS. 4 and 5 show a cross-sectional view of the water jet assembly 10. The motor 40 with drive shaft 42 is coupled to the jet casing 32 such that the drive shaft 42 operably engages a drive bushing 50. The drive bushing 50 may be positioned such that it protrudes through a drive aperture 52 in the casing 32. In the implementation shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the drive bushing 50 has a drive receiver portion 54 adapted to receive the drive shaft 42 and an impeller receiver portion 56. Additionally, the impeller 26 includes an impeller shaft 58 adapted to be inserted into the impeller receiver portion 56 of the drive bushing 50.

FIG. 4 also shows fasteners 18 and 43, which may be used to secure the intake cover 12 to the casing 32. The fastener 18 may be a screw, bolt, or other suitable fastener that extends through the intake cover 12 and is secured into a screw tab 37. Alternatively or additionally, a J-latch 43 may be utilized such at the latch may be rotated into a secured position opposite the intake cover 12 proximate to a J-latch tab 41. The fasteners 18 and 43 may be hand manipulable. Alternatively, the fasteners 18 or 43 may be required to be manipulated by a tool, such as a screwdriver.

The impeller 26 includes fins 25 when the impeller 26 is rotated. The fins 25 draw fluid axially across the impeller 26 through the flowpath 70 (see FIG. 7). As shown in FIGS. 3 and 6, the impeller 26 may include a shroud receiver 60. The shroud receiver 60 is adapted to receive a shroud shaft 29. In operation, the shroud 27 and shroud shaft 29 operate to maintain the position of the impeller 26 in the cycling assembly 20 during the operation of the jet assembly 10. It should be understood that the shroud 27 is not necessary for the operation of the jet assembly 10. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, however, the impeller shroud 27 may be received in an interior of the mask 22 to prevent wear on the impeller 26 through excessive movement within the cycling assembly 20. Additionally, the impeller seat 28 may be coupled to the mask 22 to lock the impeller 26 into position within the cycling assembly 20. The impeller seat 28 may be coupled to the mask 22 by any suitable method, such as a J-latch, a rotational locking mechanism, or other suitable means. During operation of the water jet 10, the impeller shroud 27 may be static with respect to the rotation of the impeller 26. Accordingly, a bearing 62 may be installed at the shroud receiver 60 to bear against the impeller 26. The bearing 62 may be manufactured of any suitable wear-resistant material that allows rotation of the impeller 26 with respect to the shroud 27, such as nylon, graphite, metal, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) composite or other suitable material to prevent wear of the shroud 27, the impeller 26, or both during operation of the water jet assembly 10.

FIG. 7 illustrates the operation of an implementation of the water jet 10. Upon activation of the motor 40, the drive shaft 42 rotates and imparts rotation to the drive bushing 50. The impeller shaft 58, inserted into the impeller receiver portion 56 of the drive bushing 50, in turn rotates the impeller 26. The rotation of the impeller 26 draws water, air, or other fluid or fluid mixture through the intake apertures 16. The impeller seat 28 may be positioned such that fluid flow, illustrated by directional arrows 70, may be drawn into the impeller 26 and thrust out of the nozzle 24. This thrust through the nozzle 24 provides a concentrated stream of fluid out of the jet assembly 10. The mask 22 and casing 32 define a fluid flow 70 through the jet assembly to that partitions fluid to drawn in at intake apertures 16 from fluid flow 70 thrust out of the impeller 26 and out nozzle 24. Partitioning fluid in this manner reduces any turbulence that could occur by fluid moving in opposite directions interacting.

In an alternate implementation the motor 40 may be reversed, so that the drive shaft 42 rotates in the opposite direction to that described above with respect to FIG. 7. Accordingly, operation of the jet assembly 10 in this manner would draw fluid through the nozzle 24 and force the fluid out of the jet assembly 10 through the intake apertures 16.

FIG. 8 illustrates an implementation of the jet assembly 10 in which the nozzle 24 is movably coupled to the mask 22 by flanges 23. In the implementation shown, the nozzle 24 includes a spherical portion adapted to fit into a substantially spherical cavity defined by the flanges 23 of the mask 22. The nozzle 24 may protrude through the nozzle aperture 14 such that the nozzle 24 may be manipulated into alternative positions by hand.

FIG. 9 illustrates an implementation that includes a plurality of jet assemblies 10 installed in a basin 46. It should be understood that any number of jet assemblies 10 might be installed in a basin 46 or similar container to provide fluid streams 70 within the basin. For example, in some situations a basin, for example a foot basin, may have only one jet assembly 10.

FIG. 10 illustrates an alternative implementation of a jet assembly 10 that includes an air intake 72. During operation of the jet assembly 10, the air intake 72 may provide an air stream 74 into the fluid 70, and the fluid 70 mixes with the air stream 74 to provide a fluid/air mixture 76 that is propelled through the nozzle 24. The air stream 74 may be forced through the air intake 72 by a compressor or other pressurized air source (not shown), or the air stream may be drawn through the air intake 72 through the creation of a vacuum by the velocity of the fluid 70 through the jet assembly 10.

Referring to FIGS. 11, 12 and 13, another implementation includes an automatic shutoff system 100. The automatic shutoff system includes a plurality of sensors 102, a sensing element 104, a control element 106, and a switch 108. The sensors 102 may be connected to the sensing element 104 to detect the conductivity between the sensors 102.

As best seen in FIG. 13, the jet assembly 10 may be positioned in a basin such that when a fluid level 110 within the jet assembly 10 is sufficiently high, the fluid completes the circuit between sensors 102, the sensing element 104 senses the completed circuit, and transmits a signal to the control element 106 that activates the switch 108. Conversely, if the fluid level 110 is too low, the circuit between sensors 102 is not complete, the sensing element 104 does not transmit a signal to the control element 106, and the control element 106 deactivates the switch 108. When the switch is deactivated, the motor 40 is shut off, so that the jet assembly 10 does not operate with insufficient fluid levels. Alternatively, the sensing element 104 may be operable to detect the resistivity of the fluid between the sensors 102, such that when the fluid level 110 is too low to contact all of the sensors 102, the sensing element 104 provides a signal to the control element 106, whereby the control element 106 deactivates the switch 108 to shut off power from the motor 40.

FIG. 14 illustrates an implementation of the jet assembly 10 including a multi-directional nozzle 80 configured to direct the fluid flow 70 in a plurality of distinct, divergent streams. By referring to the streams as distinct, it is meant to distinguish the divergent streams from the natural tendency of a flow to fan (substantially continuously) as it reacts against a body of fluid. In other words, although the distinct streams may eventually merge, they are two separate, distinct streams, not a single steam that fans outward. The streams are divergent in that the streams are substantially centered about diverging trajectories. In the implementation shown, nozzle 80 defines an interior flow chamber 84 having a curvilinear V-shaped flow divider 86 affixed therein. The flow divider 86 is offset from an inlet 88 of the nozzle 80 and substantially bisects the flow chamber 84 into two divergent passages 90 and 92. The fluid flow 70 entering the inlet 88 is divided between the two passages 90 and 92 by the flow divider 86. The passages 90 and 92 are elongate in the direction of flow to guide the fluid flow 70 into a stream. In other configurations, the flow divider 86 can be configured to divide the flow chamber 84 into three or more passages. For example, a three sided pyramid-shaped flow divider can divide the flow among three passages, a four sided pyramid-shaped flow divider can divide the flow among four passages and so on. In the configuration of FIG. 14, the fluid flow 70 is directed in two trajectories approximately 60° apart and in substantially the same plane. In other configurations, the nozzle 80 can direct flow at other trajectories in obtuse or acute angles (e.g. 15°, 30°, 45°, 90° or other angle) and/or in differing planes. Also, although depicted with curvilinear sides, other configurations of the flow divider 86 (or flow dividers of other configurations), can be provided with substantially planar sides. In the implementation shown, a cross-sectional area of the passages 90 and 92, orthogonal to the direction of fluid flow, is substantially equal, so that flow is divided substantially equally between the divergent passages 90 and 92. A portion of the nozzle 80 adjacent the passages 90 and 92, respectively, flares open to define outlets 94 and 96 that substantially maintain the cross-sectional area through the passages 90 and 92. In other instances, the outlets can have a smaller cross-sectional area than the passages 90 and 92 to increase the velocity of fluid from the jet assembly 10. Also, the cross-sectional area defined in the passages 90 and 92 may be substantially circular, oval, rectangular, square or other shape.

Also, similar to that described above, the nozzle 80 has a spherical portion adapted to fit into a substantially spherical cavity defined by flanges 23. The nozzle 80 can be manipulated into various alternate positions to direct the fluid flow from the jet assembly 10 in different directions.

FIG. 14 also depicts and alternate configuration of intake cover 82. The intake cover 82 includes an inwardly sloping frusto-conical front face 98 having an inner diameter that receives the nozzle 80. A perimeter sidewall 78 extends from front face 98 to receive the casing 32. The intake cover 82 can be secured to the casing 32 with a fastener and/or a J-latch as described above (not specifically shown) and/or may thread, snap lock and/or otherwise attach to the casing 32. The front face 98 of the intake cover 82 adjacent the nozzle 80 is solid (unapertured), and the intake cover 82 includes a plurality of apertures 16 about the sidewall 78. The apertures communicate fluid flow 70 into the interior of casing 32. By omitting apertures 16 on the front face 98, the fluid flow 70 into the interior casing 32 does not cross and is not disrupted by the divergent fluid flow 70 out of the nozzle 80. In other instances, one or more apertures can be provided on the front face 98. Of note, the casing 32 depicted in FIG. 14 is similar to the casing described above, in that it is formed as a single piece of material and has no leak paths from the basin to the exterior of the casing between the flange 39 and drive aperture 52.

Although shown with the nozzle 80, it should be appreciated that the alternate intake cover 82 can be used with any of the other configurations of the jet assembly 10 described herein. For example, the intake cover 82 can be used with nozzle 24. Likewise, the nozzle 80 can be used with any of the other configurations of the jet assembly 10 described herein. For example, the nozzle 80 can be substituted for nozzle 24. Moreover, the intake cover 82 and/or nozzle 24 can be configured to retrofit existing jet assemblies 10, for example to upgrade the jet assembly 10.

FIG. 15 shows the jet assembly 10 with a multi-directional nozzle 80 and alternate intake cover 82 in a pedicure basin assembly 146. The pedicure basin assembly 146 includes a chair 148 in which a user of the pedicure basin sits and a well 150 into which the user may place their feet (location of feet represented by dashed lines 152). The well 150 contains the water in which the user's feet will be bathed. The pedicure basin assembly 146 of FIG. 15 includes only a single jet aperture 48 and only a single jet assembly 10 residing therein. However, because of the multi-directional nozzle 80, the jet assembly 10 can direct fluid flow 70 to impinge on both of the users feet (about dashed lines 152) concurrently. In other configurations, the pedicure basin assembly 146 can contain two or more jet apertures 48 with jet assemblies 10 residing therein. For example, in certain instances, the pedicure basin assembly 146 can be provided with two jet assemblies 10, one configured to jet from the front of the user and another configured to jet from the rear of the user. Also, although the jet assembly 10 is depicted in FIG. 15 as jetting from the front of the user (i.e., the chair 148 and jet assembly 10 reside on the opposite sides of basin assembly 146), the jet assembly 10 can be provided to jet from any direction about the pedicure basin assembly 146. In certain instances, the jet assembly with or without multi-directional nozzle 80 and/or alternate intake cover 82 can be provided in different types of basins, tubs, bowls, sinks, fountains or other fluid receptacles.

Though the subject matter contained above describes implementations of a jet assembly in detail, it should be understood that various modifications, substitutions, and/or additions might be made to various implementations without departing from the spirit and scope of the claims.