Title:
Safer hand-held hair care appliances
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for substantially minimizing injury and hazards in using hand-held hair styling appliances comprises a spring mechanism disposed between opposing handles of a hand-held hair styling appliance, a normally-open power activation switch recessed within an interior surface of a first handle of the hand-held hair styling appliance, this switch being disposed in a circuit for connecting electric power supply to heating elements of a rapid-heating hand-held hair styling appliance, and a substantially rigid pin protruding from an interior surface of a second handle of the hand-held hair styling appliance, this rigid pin positioned opposing and mating with the power switch such as to create heating only when the handles are drawn together into the use position.



Inventors:
Tackett, Tiffany T. (Richmond, KY, US)
Tackett, Joseph E. (Richmond, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/788543
Publication Date:
11/01/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
STEITZ, RACHEL RUNNING
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES RAY & ASSOCIATES (MONROEVILLE, PA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An apparatus for substantially minimizing injury in using hand-held hair styling appliances comprising: a spring mechanism disposed between opposing handles of said hand-held hair styling appliance; a normally-open power delivery switch recessed within an interior surface of a first handle of said hand-held hair styling appliance, said switch disposed in a circuit for connecting electric power supply to heating elements of said hand-held hair styling appliance; and a substantially rigid pin protruding from an interior surface of a second handle of said hand-held hair styling appliance, said rigid pin positioned opposing and mating with said normally open power activation switch.

2. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said circuit for electric power supply to heating elements is a rapid-heating type.

3. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said opposing handles are covered with a predetermined insulating material.

4. The apparatus, according to claim 3, wherein said predetermined insulating material is a substantially resilient and ergonomically contoured polymer.

5. The apparatus, according to claim 3, wherein said predetermined insulating material is a substantially resilient and ergonomically contoured rubber.

6. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said heating elements are encased with a sheath equipped with cooling slits.

7. The apparatus, according to claim 1, wherein said hand-held hair styling appliance is one of a hair straightener and a scissors-like hair curler.

8. The apparatus, according to claim 7, wherein said spring mechanism of said scissors like hair curler includes a resting stand to at least one side to enable placement on a surface without heated parts of said hand-held hair styling appliance touching said surface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application is related to and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/793,361 filed Apr. 20, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to hair care appliances and, more particularly, this invention relates to safety devices for hair straighteners and curlers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Prior to the conception and development of the present invention, personal hair styling appliances, such as hair curlers and straighteners, need a preheat time of one-half to several minutes preceding use, thus creating situations where the appliances are turned on and left unattended to heat up. This poses certain safety risks, such as burns and fires. The hazards are as great or worse if the user forgets to turn it off after use.

Some, such as Leung in U.S. Pat. No. 5,345,055 have addressed the issue of obtaining a more desirable rapid heat up for curling irons, but the device was still allowed or expected to be sitting powered up for some finite time prior to use.

The safety issue is addressed somewhat for a curling iron design by Contri in U.S. Pat. No. 4,673,798, which teaches a timing circuit built into the handle of a curling iron, such as to shut off power after a period of non-use, specified as 15 minutes. This still poses a hazard for that period of time during preheating, and after use.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,602,143 discloses a curling iron design that purports rapid heat-up on the order of seconds using infrared radiant heating. Such a rapid heat-up design could be incorporated by reference into the preferred embodiment of the instant invention. Another example would be the commercially available CHI Turbo Ceramic Straightener by Farouk.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an apparatus for substantially minimizing injury and hazards in using hand-held hair styling appliances comprises a spring mechanism disposed between opposing handles of a hand-held hair styling appliance and a normally-open power activation switch recessed within an interior surface of a first handle of hand-held hair styling appliance, this switch being disposed in a circuit for connecting electric power supply to heating elements of a rapid-heating hand-held hair styling appliance, and a substantially rigid pin protruding from an interior surface of a second handle of the hand-held hair styling appliance, this rigid pin positioned opposing and mating with the heater power switch such as to create heating only when the handles are drawn together into the use position. In a preferred embodiment, the hair styling appliance is equipped with a combination of heating elements and circuitry enabling a very rapid heat-up so as the limit the time the user must hold the handles closed before beginning use.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, various optional features are added, including ergonomic grips, cooling vents in the heated arms, and a side resting stand.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, one of the primary objects of the present invention to reduce the hazards associated with use of hair styling appliances such as straighteners and scissors-like hair curlers.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a fail-safe method for stopping electric power flow to the heaters of a hair styling appliance as soon as the user puts down the appliance.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide for an instant and passive start for the cool-down period as soon as the user is done with the hair styling appliance.

In addition to the various objects and advantages of the present invention described with some degree of specificity above, it should be obvious that additional objects and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent to those persons who are skilled in the relevant art from the following more detailed description of the invention, particularly, when such description is taken in conjunction with the attached drawing figures and with the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a hair straightener illustrating the operation of the safety switch.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a scissors-like hair straightener incorporating the safety switch parts into the handles.

FIG. 3 is a perspective enlargement of the portion of the handles containing the safety switch parts.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the invention applied to a scissors-like curling iron.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF A PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Prior to proceeding to the more detailed description of the present invention, it should be noted that, for the sake of clarity and understanding, identical components which have identical functions have been identified with identical reference numerals throughout the several views illustrated in the drawing figures.

Referring to FIG. 1, a scissors-like hair straightener 10 is shown in a side elevation sectional view. Attached to base handle 12 are an integral heating arm 16, a power supply cord 42, and a selection switch 34 with off, low, medium, and high positions. A second handle 14 with an integral heating arm 18 is pivotably connected to base handle 12 by pivot pin 15, and torsion spring piece 24 keeps the two handle sections separated while at rest. Contained within base handle 12 are a circuit board 32 connected by wiring to power cord 42, the depressible button 28 portion of the safety switch, the associated contacts 36 and 38, and a coil spring 30 that passively keeps stationary contact 36 and flexible contact 38 in a normally-open position. These contacts would typically be made of copper, but any electrical conducting material would be acceptable. Heating elements 20 and 22 are incased within the two heating arms 14 and 12 respectively, and wired on one side directly to the circuit board 32, and on the other side to flexible contact 38. A rigid protrusion 26 on the internal side of second handle 14 aligns with depressible button 28, and when the handles 12 and 14 are drawn together, the protrusion 26 depresses the button 28 sufficiently to push flexible contact 38 to touch stationary contact 36 thus completing the electrical circuit to both heating elements 20 and 22. When the handles are released, torsion spring 24 pushes the handles apart and coil spring 28 lifts the depressible button 28 such that contact 38 separates from contact 36 immediately stopping electrical flow to heaters 20 and 22, thus allowing cooling to begin immediately.

Referring to FIG. 2, a scissors-like hair straightener 10 is shown including the power cord 42, an optional power booster or modulator 13, a base handle 12, a second handle 14, a heat element arm 16 integral to base handle 12 and a heat element arm 18 integrated with second handle 14. Optionally, the handles 12 and 14 may be covered with a grip-enhancing material 17. In addition, the outer surfaces 44, not typically engaging hair during use, can be constructed with air vents 46 for aiding in cooling more rapidly.

FIG. 3 is an enlargement of the safety switch area of the two handles illustrating the base handle 12 and the second handle 14, with the torsion spring 24 normally keeping the handles apart. The rigid protrusion 26 is attached to the underside of second handle 14 opposing the depressible button 28 disposed within base handle 12. This design can be applied to scissor-like hair straighteners and curlers, and also hair straighteners hinged at one end only.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a scissors-like curling iron 11 also incorporating the safety apparatus much the same as shown above. In this kind of device, typically only the main arm 46 attached to the base handle 12 contains a heating element. An alternative location for the main power selector switch 34 is shown on the second handle 14. Also shown is an optional resting stand 50 built in near the pivot point to enable placement of the appliance on a horizontal surface without the hot arms touching the surface.

While a presently preferred and alternative embodiment of the present invention have been described in sufficient detail above to enable a person skilled in the relevant art to make and use the same it should be obvious that various other adaptations and modifications can be envisioned by those persons skilled in such art without departing from either the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.