Title:
Pull angle dependant resistive paper towel holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A paper towel holder is provided having a pad made of foam, rubber or the like for impeding (or resisting) the rotation of a paper towel roll with respect to a user initiated unfurling pull angle. The user pulls upward (i.e., in a direction proximal to the base) to unfurl the paper towel roll with a minimum level of resistance. The user pulls downward (i.e., in a direction distal to the base) to create resistance against the paper towel roll such that the rotation of the roll is slowed or halted to provide a user initiated perfect tear.



Inventors:
Amron, Scott L. (Plainview, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/801897
Publication Date:
11/15/2007
Filing Date:
05/11/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H16/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RIVERA, WILLIAM ARAUZ
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COZEN O''CONNOR (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A paper towel holder configured to impede rotation of a paper roll in response to a user initiated unfurling pull angle, the paper towel holder comprising: a base; a shaft attached to the base; and a pad arranged on the base and around the shaft of the base, said pad having frictional characteristics imparting a frictional force in a rotational direction that impedes the rotation of the paper roll based on a direction of the user initiated unfurling pull angle, such that a removal of a single unfurled square along a perforated line from the paper roll is achieved when a component of the unfurling pull angle toward the base along a longitudinal axis of the shaft exceeds a predetermined value.

2. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, further comprising: a circumferential recess disposed in the base receiving the shaft therethrough.

3. The paper towel holder according to claim 2, wherein the pad is placed in the circumferential recess of the base.

4. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the pad is one of a sheet of foam or rubber.

5. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the sheet of foam and rubber are circular.

6. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, further comprising: a press to hide and press to elevate handle arranged in an end of the shaft for hiding the handle when the paper towel holder is not in use.

7. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the pad is a circular sheet comprised of foam or rubber, said sheet having a circular cut-out for the shaft to slide through during assembly.

8. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the pad is made of rubber material having a durometer value of 30-60.

9. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the pad is made of a rubber material comprising one of silicone, neoprene, or santoprene.

10. The paper towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the pad is made of a material having frictional coefficient characteristics in the range of frictional coefficient characteristics of rubber materials having durometers values of 30-60.

11. A method for impeding rotation of a paper roll on a paper towel holder, in response to a user initiated unfurling pull angle, said paper towel holder having a base, a shaft attached to the base and a pad arranged on the base, the method comprising: unfurling a sheet of paper from the roll on the paper towel holder by pulling at an unfurling pull angle; and imparting a frictional force generated by the pad on the paper roll in a rotational direction that impedes the rotation of the roll when a component of the unfurling pull angle toward the base along a longitudinal axis of the shaft exceeds a predetermined value such that a removal of a single square along a perforated line from the paper roll is achieved.

12. The method according to claim 11, wherein a circumferential recess is disposed in the base.

13. The method according to claim 12, wherein the pad is placed in the circumferential recess of the base.

14. The method according to claim 11, wherein the pad is one of a sheet of foam or rubber.

15. The method according to claim 11, wherein the sheet of foam and rubber are circular.

16. The method according to claim 11, further comprising: activating a press to hide and press to elevate handle arranged in an end of the shaft to hide the handle when the paper towel holder is not in use.

17. The method according to claim 11, wherein the pad is a circular sheet comprised of foam or rubber; wherein the sheet has a circular cut-out for the shaft to slide through during assembly.

18. The method according to claim 11, wherein the pad is made of rubber material having a durometer value of 30-60.

19. The method according to claim 11, wherein the pad is made of a rubber material comprising one of silicone, neoprene, or santoprene.

20. The method according to claim 11, wherein the pad is made of a material having frictional coefficient characteristics in the range of frictional coefficient characteristics of rubber materials having durometers values of 30-60.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/799,824 which was filed on May 11, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to the field of paper towel holders and, more particularly, to a paper towel holder/dispenser configured to resist the rotation of a paper towel roll with respect to an unfurling pull angle to provide a user initiated and substantially perfect tear.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventional paper towel holders that are intended for use in the home or office are designed to offer a “perfect tear” feature. Such a perfect tear feature is referred to in the house-ware industry as an effortless pull of a single square from a roll of paper towels along a perforated line provided for separation of individual paper sheet of the roll. Many conventional paper towel holder designs comprise complicated and often spring loaded mechanisms to achieve this sought after perfect tear feature. These conventional methods for providing the perfect tear, however, fail to provide an intuitive means of controlling the point of tear beyond one square of paper towel. In fact, a simple and intuitive static method for providing the perfect tear feature is not currently available.

In general, conventional upright paper towel holders employ a shaft for centering the paper towel roll having a protruding and bulbous end that is provided for the user to grab and move the loaded device. This protruding and bulbous end is often made thicker and removable to permit improved handling and easier paper loading, respectively. In this case, a press-to-hide and press-to-elevate shaft handle is used in such an upright paper towel holder to provide a way to conceal this extended bulbous end when the power towel holder is not in use.

Another method for providing a perfect tear is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,895 to Michaud. As described therein, a friction-inducing area(s) is used to allow or prevent controlled rotation of a paper roll on smooth surfaces of the base plate and smooth edges of the roll spindle. However, the ability of such an apparatus to provide a perfect tear becomes impaired when the amount of paper remaining on the roll becomes reduced, since the roll will no longer engage the friction-inducing area(s). As a result, the ability to provide a perfect tear becomes lost.

It is therefore apparent that there is a need for a paper towel holder/dispenser that can overcome the foregoing problems associated with conventional paper towel holders and to thereby provide a way to achieve a perfect tear.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A paper towel holder is provided having a pad made of foam or rubber, such as silicone, neoprene, santoprene, cork, or the like, for impeding the rotation of a paper towel roll at a rate substantially dependant upon the angle at which the loose end of the paper towel roll is pulled during an unfurling procedure. The rate of rotation of the paper towel roll is dependant upon the frictional force that impedes the rotation of the roll. Here, the frictional force is proportional to the normal force generated by the frictional coefficients of the material comprising the pad. The vertical or longitudinal component of the pulling force is reduced or increased, depending on the direction and the effective weight of the paper towel roll with respect to the base of the paper towel holder. A normal force exerted on the paper roll has a magnitude that is equal and opposite to the effective weight of the paper towel roll exerted on the base. As a result, the magnitude of the frictional force is established by the pull angle imparted by the user on the paper towel roll.

In accordance with the contemplated embodiments of the invention, the pad provides the source of friction (i.e. the frictional coefficients of the material, both static and kinetic). The frictional force that impedes rotation has a greatest magnitude when the user pulls on the loose end of the paper towel roll in a direction that is downward toward the base of the paper towel holder (i.e., in the proximal direction), thereby causing the rotation of the paper towel roll to slow down or to cause the roll to not rotate at all. Here, the bottom end of the paper towel roll is pressed into the pad and, thus, does not spin.

When the user pulls upward on the loose end of the paper towel roll, i.e., in a direction distal to the base of the paper towel holder, the paper towel roll is pulled slightly upward (i.e., away from the base), thereby reducing the frictional force and allowing the paper towel roll to rotate more freely. The contemplated paper towel holder advantageously provides the desired perfect tear, irrespective of the amount of paper towels on the roll. Here, the inexpensive addition of a pad possessing the appropriate frictional coefficients for the material adds significantly to the user experience, i.e., the addition of the pad provides both an aesthetic and functional improvement of a paper towel holder by virtue of the optimal use of materials.

Conventional vertical paper towel holders often include a bar or plastic guide that is designed to keep the loose end of the paper towel roll within the perimeter of the base. However, such a bar adds clutter to the paper towel holder, and is often perceived as an eyesore. In accordance with the contemplated embodiments of the invention, however, the pad itself can be used to keep the paper towel roll and the loose end of the paper roll in the last position that was touched by the user to prevent an unwieldy loose end by way of any frictional forces. As a result, the free end of the paper towel roll remains in a position that is easy to grab for the user to grab, i.e., in a position right where the user left the free end of the towel.

In certain embodiments, the shaft of the paper towel holder is constructed at a slight angle to thereby enhance the tear angle. In this case, a translucent plastic guide (not shown) can be located on the back of the device to guide the user as to where and how the paper towel should be accessed. In addition, the translucent plastic also serves to guide the loose end of the paper towel forward to provide a user with the ability to easily grab the next paper towel.

In an alternative embodiment, the pad is sectioned into multiple pieces. Here, each sectioned portion of the pad is arranged around the shaft of the paper towel holder on the base. Sectioning the pad in this manner advantageously provides a way to reduce manufacturing costs because less material is use to manufacture the pad.

In another embodiment, the pad is provided on at least the shaft of the paper towel holder. In this case, since the area for providing the frictional force that impedes the rotation of the paper towel roll is located on the shaft itself, the area of the material on the base can be reduced. As a result, it becomes possible to configure the shaft such that it can be mounted in an interior wall of the base itself, where the shaft is configured in a flared inverted “T” shaped arrangement having each end of the inverted “T” engaged and mounted into an interior side wall of the base.

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The various features, functions and advantages characterizing the invention will be better understood by reference to the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein. In the drawings, wherein like reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a vertical paper towel holder in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the vertical paper towel holder of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the vertical paper towel holder of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the paper towel holder of FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5A and 5B are side views of a paper towel holder in accordance with an alternative exemplary embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are side views of a paper towel holder in accordance with alternative exemplary embodiments of the invention;

FIGS. 7A and 7B are side views of a paper towel holder in accordance with another embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 8A and 8B are side views of a paper towel holder in accordance with a further embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a horizontal paper towel holder in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a vertical paper towel holder 100 in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention. As shown therein, the paper towel holder 100 includes a base 102 and a shaft 104 that engages the base at a central location thereof. The base 102 includes a top 102a and a bottom 102b. The shaft 104 has a first end 104b proximate the base 102 and a second end 104a arranged distally from the base 102. A circular pad 116 is attached by way of adhesive to the top of the base 102. The pad 116 is inset flush within the perimeter of the base to provide for a substantially flat platform. It should be noted that a base including a raised pad is still within the scope of the present invention. The distal end 104a of the shaft 104 is made hollow to accept a removable handle, a vase insert or a press to hide and press to elevate (expose) handle mechanism.

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded illustration of the paper towel holder 100 of FIG. 1. Here, the pad 116 is shown removed from the base 102 to expose a recess 118 in the base 102 for accepting the pad 116. The pad 116 includes a circular hole 117 cut out of its center for accepting the shaft 104 such that the pad may be slid down the shaft to a final position, where the pad engages and rests in the recess 118 of the base. The pad is made of a rubber material, such as silicone, neoprene, santoprene, or the like, preferably possessing a durometer value in the range of 30 to 60. Alternatively, the pad may be made of cork or foam or a combination of foam and rubber, cork and rubber, or a combination of nylon/polyester affixed to a non-slip contact surface sheet which may be composed of a chloride rubber. Although specific materials are listed as preferred embodiments, the pad 116 may comprise any material having similar characteristics as the above examples and as further described below with respect to FIGS. 6A and 6B. The diameter of the shaft 104 is made smaller than the inner diameter of a conventional paper towel roll. In certain embodiments, the diameter of the shaft 104 is approximately 32 mm and has a smooth surface. In accordance with the disclosed embodiments, the roll fits loosely over the shaft with a minimum amount of restriction. Preferably, it is the pad 116 that provides the source of friction. However, it should be noted that in alternative embodiments, the shaft can also be made to provide a portion of the friction in conjunction with the pad.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a sectional view of a vertical paper towel holder 100 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 4. is a plan view illustration of the paper towel holder of FIG. 3. The shaft 104 attaches to the base 102 by way of screws at 330. In the preferred embodiment, two screws are used to attach the shaft to the base. A circular pad 116 is shown attached to the top of the base 102. A foam pad 320 is shown attached to bottom (i.e., underside) of the base 102 for providing a non-slip footing. Although the pad 116 is shown as having a hole therethrough, the pad may alternatively comprise a solid circle arranged between the bottom of the shaft 104 and the top of the base 102, with the screws 330 penetrating through the pad 116

FIG. 5A is an illustration of a loaded paper towel holder 100 having a non-recessed rubber pad 500 attached to the top of the base. Here, an arrow is used to indicate an upwardly directed unfurling pull angle. In this case, the paper towel roll spins freely when pulled because there is minimum amount of friction that is applied to the roll itself. FIG. 5B is an illustration of the loaded paper towel holder 100 of FIG. 5A. Here, however, the unfurling pull angle is downward, i.e., in a direction proximal to the base 102 of the towel holder 100. As a result, friction between the rubber pad and the power tower roll prevents the roll from spinning freely.

FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B are illustrations of the paper towel holder 100 of FIGS. 5A and 5B showing the forces present on the paper towel roll. In particular, FIG. 6A is an illustration of the unfurling pull force as a function of the vertical and horizontal components Fxy of the pulling force. In accordance with the contemplated embodiment, the vertical component of the pulling force lessens or reduces the effective weight Fw of the paper towel roll on the paper towel platform comprised of at least the rubber pad 500 and the base 102. As a result, the normal force FN exerted on the bottom of the paper towel roll is reduced. Here, the frictional force Ff is proportional to the normal force FN. Therefore, if the loose paper towel end is pulled upward, i.e., in a direction distal to the base, the frictional force Ff that impedes the rotation of the paper towel roll becomes reduced. Likewise, FIG. 6B is an illustration of the unfurling downward, i.e., in a direction proximal to the base, pull force as a function of the vertical and horizontal components F′xy of the pulling force. However, in this case, the vertical component of the pulling force increases the effective weight Fw of the paper towel roll on the paper towel base. As a result, the normal force FN exerted on the bottom of the paper towel roll is increased. Here, the frictional force Ff is also proportional to the normal force FN. Consequently, if the loose end of the paper towel is pulled downward, i.e., in a direction proximal to the base, the frictional force Ff that impedes the rotation of paper towel roll is increased.

FIGS. 7A and 7B are an illustration of the paper towel holder 100 FIG. 3. Here, a press-to-hide and press-to-elevate (i.e., expose) handle 725 is shown inserted at the second end 104a of the shaft 104. The handle 725 is shown in FIG. 7A in the exposed position. FIG. 7B, in contrast, shows the handle 725 in the hidden position, which is achieved by pressing the handle in a downward direction as indicated by the arrow in the figure. In accordance with the contemplated embodiment, the handle is also provided with a rubber grip 705. Those skilled in the art would readily appreciate that such a press-to-hide and press-to-elevate mechanism would function in a manner similar, for example, to the mechanism found in a press to hide and press to expose ball point pen. Consequently, the details of this structure are not being described.

FIGS. 8A and 8B is an illustration of another embodiment of the paper towel holder of FIG. 3. Here, a removable insert 875 is added to the shaft 104 at the second end 104a of the shaft 104. In the preferred embodiment, the insert is a vase insert that is made of a translucent plastic. As shown in FIG. 8A, the vase insert 875 is inserted into the top of the shaft 104 that loaded with a roll of paper towels 510. In FIG. 8B, the vase insert 875 is shown removed from the shaft 104 to permit loading and unloading of a roll of paper towel onto the shaft 104 of the paper towel holder.

FIG. 9 is an illustration of another exemplary embodiment of a paper towel holder in accordance with the invention. Here, the paper towel holder 900 is oriented in a horizontal position. The paper towel holder 900 includes a base 902 and the shaft 104. The base 902 of this contemplated embodiment, however, includes a top 902a and a bottom 902b, along with a flange portion 950 that extends from the base at a predetermined angle to permit mounting of the base on a rigid surface, such as a wall or kitchen cabinet. In the preferred embodiment, the predetermined angle is 90°. However, it should be readily appreciated that the predetermined angle could be any other angle that would permit the paper towel holder to function for its intended purpose, such as 45°.

Returning to FIG. 9, the shaft 104 has a first end 104b located proximate to the base 902 and a second end 104a arranged distally from the base 902. A square pad 916 with rounded corners is attached to the top of the base 902. Preferably, the pad 916 is attached to the top of the based using an adhesive. The distal end 104a of the shaft 104 is made hollow to accept and engage with a removable handle 996. Screws 955a and 955b are employed to attach the device to the wall or kitchen cabinet. It should be noted that although a generally rectangular base is shown, the base could be circular in the manner described with respect to any of the previously described embodiments, and that such a configuration of the base could change the shape of the pad 916 such that it would also be circular.

In certain embodiments, the shaft of the paper towel holder is constructed at a slight angle to thereby enhance the tear angle. In this case, a translucent plastic guide (not shown) can be located on the back of the device to guide the user as to where and how the paper towel should be accessed. In addition, the translucent plastic also serves to guide the loose end of the paper towel forward to provide a user with the ability to easily grab the next paper towel.

In an alternative embodiment, the pad is sectioned into multiple pieces. Here, each sectioned portion of the pad is arranged around the shaft of the paper towel holder on the base. Sectioning the pad in this manner advantageously provides a way to reduce manufacturing costs because less material is use to manufacture the pad.

In another embodiment, the pad is provided on at least the shaft of the paper towel holder. In this case, since the area for providing the frictional force that impedes the rotation of the paper towel roll is located on the shaft itself, the area of the material on the base can be reduced. As a result, it becomes possible to configure the shaft such that it can be mounted in an interior wall of the base itself, where the shaft is configured in a flared inverted “T” shaped arrangement having each end of the inverted “T” engaged and mounted into an interior side wall of the base.

Thus, while there have shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. Thus, for example, while the illustrative embodiments shown and described herein have employed a discrete rubber pad, a base made entirely of a material possessing the desirable friction coefficients and containing a weighted component is within the scope of the present invention. Moreover, it should be recognized that structures and/or elements and/or method steps shown and/or described in connection with any disclosed form or embodiment of the invention may be incorporated in any other disclosed or described or suggested form or embodiment as a general matter of design choice. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.