Title:
Cigarette lighter with limited flint wheel turning radius
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cigarette lighter has a housing, a fluid reservoir, an outlet valve, a flint, at least one flint wheel, a valve actuator and a flint wheel turning radius limiting element. The flint wheel turning radius limiting element is adapted to limit the exposed turning radius of the flint wheel to between about 70° and about 98°.



Inventors:
Ruan, Junjun (GuangZhou, CN)
Application Number:
11/375604
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/13/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F23Q1/02
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Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BASICHAS, ALFRED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl (PASADENA, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cigarette lighter comprising: (a) a housing having an upper end, a lower end, a forward side and a rearward side, the upper end having a flame nozzle; (b) a reservoir disposed within the housing for retaining an inflammable fluid, the reservoir defining an outlet opening which is in communication with the flame nozzle; (c) an outlet valve disposed across the outlet opening, the outlet valve being capable of alternatively moving between (i) an open position wherein the outlet valve does not impede the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet valve, and (ii) a closed position wherein the outlet valve prevents the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet opening; (d) a flint disposed within the housing; (e) at least one flint wheel disposed within the housing such that it defines an exposed turning radius, the flint wheel being disposed in close proximity to the flint and being adapted to cooperate with the flint to create a spark proximate to the flame nozzle when the flint wheel is rotated; (f) an outlet valve actuator for causing the outlet valve to move from the closed position to the open position, the outlet valve being disposed rearwardly of the flint wheel and at a lesser elevation than the flint wheel such that the thumb of a user can rotate the flint wheel to create a spark and, in the same downward and rearward motion, open the outlet valve with the outlet valve actuator; and (g) a flint wheel turning radius limiting element which limits the exposed turning radius of the flint wheel to between about 70° and about 98°.

2. The cigarette lighter of claim 1 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element is attached to the outlet valve actuator.

3. The cigarette lighter of claim 1 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element is attached to the housing.

4. The cigarette lighter of claim 1 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element comprises a vertical portion disposed proximate to the flint wheel.

5. The cigarette lighter of claim 1 wherein the flint wheel is disposed between opposed side wall portions of the housing and wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element comprises rearward portions of those opposed side wall portions.

6. A cigarette lighter comprising: (a) a housing having an upper end, a lower end, a forward side and a rearward side, the upper end having a flame nozzle; (b) a reservoir disposed within the housing for retaining an inflammable fluid, the reservoir defining an outlet opening which is in communication with the flame nozzle; (c) an outlet valve disposed across the outlet opening, the outlet valve being capable of alternatively moving between (i) an open position wherein the outlet valve does not impede the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet valve, and (ii) a closed position wherein the outlet valve prevents the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet opening; (d) a flint disposed within the housing; (e) at least one flint wheel disposed within the housing such that it defines an exposed turning radius, the flint wheel being disposed in close proximity to the flint and being adapted to cooperate with the flint to create a spark proximate to the flame nozzle when the flint wheel is rotated; (f) an outlet valve actuator for causing the outlet valve to move from the closed position to the open position, the outlet valve being disposed rearwardly of the flint wheel and at a lesser elevation than the flint wheel such that the thumb of a user can rotate the flint wheel to create a spark and, in the same downward and rearward motion, open the outlet valve with the outlet valve actuator; and (g) a flint wheel turning radius limiting element which limits the exposed turning radius of the flint wheel to between about 88° and about 98°.

7. The cigarette lighter of claim 6 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element is attached to the outlet valve actuator.

8. The cigarette lighter of claim 6 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element is attached to the housing.

9. The cigarette lighter of claim 6 wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element comprises a vertical portion disposed proximate to the flint wheel.

10. The cigarette lighter of claim 6 wherein the flint wheel is disposed between opposed side wall portions of the housing and wherein the flint wheel turning radius limiting element comprises rearward portions of those opposed side wall portions.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cigarette lighters have been known for more than 50 years. Somewhat more recently, wickless cigarette lighters have become very popular. A typical wickless cigarette lighter of the prior art is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.

The problem with all cigarette lighters, and especially wickless cigarette lighters, is the ease with which a child can produce a potentially lethal flame. Accordingly, much effort has been exerted in attempting to produce cigarette lighters, especially wickless cigarette lighters, which are difficult for a small child to operate. Some of these efforts have been more successful than others. Virtually all such of the more successful efforts, however, have required complex, expensive and/or awkward add-on features to the lighter, making the lighter less useable for an adult.

Accordingly, there is a need for a wickless cigarette lighter which is difficult for a child to use, easy for an adult to use and avoids the aforementioned problems in the prior art.

SUMMARY

The invention satisfies this need. The invention is a cigarette lighter comprising (a) a housing having an upper end, a lower end, a forward side and a rearward side, the upper end having a flame nozzle; (b) a reservoir disposed within the housing for retaining an inflammable fluid, the reservoir defining an outlet opening which is in communication with the flame nozzle; (c) an outlet valve disposed across the outlet opening, the outlet valve being capable of alternatively moving between (i) an open position wherein the outlet valve does not impede the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet valve, and (ii) a closed position wherein the outlet valve prevents the flow of fluids from the reservoir through the outlet opening; (d) a flint disposed within the housing; (e) at least one flint wheel disposed within the housing such that it defines an exposed turning radius, the flint wheel being disposed in close proximity to the flint and being adapted to cooperate with the flint to create a spark proximate to the flame nozzle when the flint wheel is rotated; (f) an outlet valve actuator for causing the outlet valve to move from the closed position to the open position, the outlet valve being disposed rearwardly of the flint wheel and at a lesser elevation than the flint wheel such that the thumb of a user can rotate the flint wheel to create a spark and, in the same downward and rearward motion, open the outlet valve with the outlet valve actuator; and (g) a flint wheel turning radius limiting element which limits the exposed turning radius of the flint wheel to between about 70° and about 98°.

DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a cigarette lighter of the prior art;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view of a first cigarette lighter having features of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 3 showing a user rotating the pair of flint wheels;

FIG. 8 is a rear view of the cigarette lighter illustrated in FIG. 3 showing a user rotating the pair of flint wheels;

FIG. 9 is a side view of a second cigarette lighter having features of the invention;

FIG. 10 is a side view of a third cigarette lighter having features of the invention; and

FIG. 11 is a diagrammatic illustration of a cigarette lighter having features of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following discussion describes in detail one embodiment of the invention and several variations of that embodiment. This discussion should not be construed, however, as limiting the invention to those particular embodiments. Practitioners skilled in the art will recognize numerous other embodiments as well.

The invention 10 is a cigarette lighter 10 with a unique safety feature which makes it very difficult for a small child to operate the lighter 10. The lighter of the invention 10 is illustrated in FIGS. 3-11.

The cigarette lighter 10 comprises a housing 12 having an upper end 14, a lower end 16, a forward side 18 and a rearward side 20. The upper end 14 of the lighter 10 comprises a flame nozzle 22.

A reservoir 24 for retaining an inflammable fluid, such as butane, is disposed. within the housing 12. The reservoir 24 defines an outlet opening 26 which is in communication with the flame nozzle 22.

The cigarette lighter 10 further comprises an outlet valve 28 disposed in fluid tight communication with the outlet opening 26 in the reservoir 24. The outlet valve 28 is capable of alternatively moving between (i) an open position wherein the outlet valve 28 does not impede the flow of fluids from the reservoir 24 through the outlet opening 26, and (ii) a closed position wherein the outlet valve 28 prevents the flow of fluids from the reservoir 24 through the outlet opening 26.

A flint 30 of the type commonly used in prior art cigarette lighters is provided within the housing 12. The lighter 10 further comprises at least one flint wheel 32 disposed within the housing 12 such that it defines an exposed turning radius α. As illustrated in the drawings, the at least one flint wheel 32 is typically disposed between opposed side wall portions 34 of the housing 12. In the embodiment illustrated in the drawings, the cigarette lighter 10 comprises a pair of spaced apart flint wheels 32.

The at least one flint wheel 32 is disposed in close proximity to the flint 30 and is adapted to cooperate with the flint 30 in a manner known to those of skill in the art to create a spark proximate to the flame nozzle 22 when the flint wheel 32 is rotated.

An outlet valve actuator 36 is provided for causing the outlet valve 28 to move from the closed position to the open position. The outlet valve actuator 36 is typically disposed rearwardly of the at least one flint wheel 32 and at a lesser elevation than the at least one flint wheel 32, such that the thumb 38 of the user can rotate the at least one flint wheel 32 to create a spark and, in the same downward and rearward motion, open the outlet valve 28 with the outlet valve actuator 36 (as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8).

The critical feature of the invention is a turning radius limiting element 40 which limits the exposed turning radius α of the flint 30 to between about 70° and about 98°, preferably between about 88° and about 98°. The reduced exposed turning radius α of the at least one flint wheel 32 necessarily results in a reduced ability to rotate the at least one flint wheel 32 with sufficient velocity to cause a spark. This increased effort precludes the ability of most small children to operate the lighter 10 of the invention. Turning radii α less than about 88°, and especially less than about 70°, make it unduly difficult for an adult user to create a spark by rotating the at least one flint wheel 32. Radii α greater than about 98° tend to make it unduly easy for a small child to operate the lighter 10 to create a potentially lethal flame.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 3-8 and 11, the flint wheel turning radius limiting element 40 is attached to the outlet valve actuator 36 and comprises a vertical portion 42 disposed proximate to the at least one flint wheel 32.

In an alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 9, the flint wheel turning radius limiting element 40 also comprises a vertical portion 42 disposed proximate to the at least one flint wheel 32, but the flint wheel turning radius limiting element 40 is attached to the housing 12.

In a second alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10, the flint wheel turning radius limiting element 40 is provided by rearward portions 44 of the opposed side walls 34 in the housing 12 disposed on opposite sides of the at least one flint wheel 32.

The invention is to be contrasted with cigarette lighters of the prior art (such as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2) wherein the exposed turning radius of the at least one flint wheel is much larger, typically between about 112° and about 122°. Such cigarette lighters are relatively easy for a small child to operate to produce a flame. Accordingly, such prior art cigarette lighters must employ other more expensive, complex and/or awkward safety devices to minimize the dangers to small children. Thus, the cigarette lighter of the invention is much simpler than prior art safety lighters, while also being quite safe and reliable.

Having thus described the invention, it should be apparent that numerous structural modifications and adaptations may be resorted to without departing from the scope and fair meaning of the instant invention as set forth hereinabove and as described hereinbelow by the claims.