Title:
DRIP-FREE GARMENT STEAMER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A drip-free garment steamer includes a steamer body having an inlet end and an outlet end, and defining an inner cavity through which steam passes. A plate at least partially covers the outlet end of the steamer body. A plurality of nozzles extend from the plate into the inner cavity of the steamer body, the nozzles defining apertures through the plate for the passage of steam from the inner cavity.



Inventors:
Tobias, Andrew J. (Pacific Palisades, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/463540
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
08/09/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06C7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030115913Washing machine with an improved water tubJune, 2003Lee et al.
20050257326Appliance panel with increased natural frequencyNovember, 2005Schneider et al.
20060010611Washing machine water level controllerJanuary, 2006Snow
20050241072Method of controlling water supply in washerNovember, 2005Kim et al.
20060162393Lather backflow preventive structure in washing machine and washing machine with the sameJuly, 2006Kwon et al.
20090272155Washing machine generating and using the steamNovember, 2009Jeong et al.
20080250819Laundry Machine and Method for Controlling the SameOctober, 2008Park et al.
20090293552Modular Laundry System with Work SurfaceDecember, 2009Gilboe et al.
20070240457Washing machine having a filtering drain pumpOctober, 2007Jang et al.
20100024491HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCEFebruary, 2010Galassi et al.
20080078209Deodorization apparatus and washing machine having the sameApril, 2008Kim et al.



Primary Examiner:
IZAGUIRRE, ISMAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KELLY & KELLEY, LLP (WOODLAND HILLS, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drip-free garment steamer, comprising: a steamer body having an inlet end and an outlet end, and defining an inner cavity through which steam passes; a plate at least partially covering the outlet end of the steamer body; and a plurality of nozzles extending from the plate into the inner cavity of the steamer body, the nozzles defining apertures through the plate for the passage of steam from the inner cavity.

2. The garment steamer of claim 1, wherein each nozzle comprises a hollow tube connected to the plate, extending into the inner cavity.

3. The garment steamer of claim 2, wherein the hollow tubes are configured to minimize water within the inner cavity of the steamer body which has condensed from the steam passing therethrough, from flowing through the apertures.

4. The garment steamer of claim 1, wherein the plate snap-fits to the steamer body.

5. The garment steamer of claim 1, wherein the plate engages the steamer body in a manner that provides the garment steamer with an angled work surface ranging from forty five to ninety degrees relative to an axis extending centrally through the steamer body.

6. A drip-free garment steamer, comprising: a steamer body having an inlet end and an outlet end, and defining an inner cavity through which steam passes; a plate at least partially covering the outlet end of the steamer body; and a plurality of nozzles extending from the plate into the inner cavity of the steamer body, the nozzles defining apertures through the plate for the passage of steam from the inner cavity, wherein the nozzles are configured to minimize water within the inner cavity of the steamer body which has condensed from the steam passing therethrough, from flowing through the apertures.

7. The garment steamer of claim 6, wherein each nozzle comprises a hollow tube connected to the plate, extending into the inner cavity.

8. The garment steamer of claim 6, wherein the plate snap-fits to the steamer body.

9. The garment stead of claim 6, wherein the plate engages the steamer body in a manner that provides the garment steamer with an angled work surface ranging from forty five to ninety degrees relative to an axis extending centrally through the steamer body.

10. A drip-free garment steamer, comprising: a steamer body having an inlet end and an outlet end, and defining an inner cavity through which steam passes; a plate at least partially covering the outlet end of the steamer body and engaging the steamer body in a manner that provides the garment steamer with an angled work surface ranging from forty five to ninety degrees relative to an axis extending centrally through the steamer body; and a plurality of nozzles, each nozzle comprising a hollow tube connected to the plate, extending from the plate into the inner cavity of the steamer body, the nozzles defining apertures through the plate for the passage of steam from the inner cavity, wherein the nozzles are configured to minimize water within the inner cavity of the steamer body which has condensed from the steam passing therethrough, from flowing through the apertures.

11. The garment steamer of claim 6, wherein the plate snap-fits to the steamer body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a device for treating fabric articles, including garments. More particularly, the present invention relates to a drip-free garment steamer.

There is a great need for portable, efficient devices to steam garments. It is well-known to use a steaming iron when ironing clothes and other garments. Non-iron devices called “steamers” have also been used to remove wrinkles and creases from clothes on a hanger or hanging from a rack by jetting steam to the clothes. These steamers do not have an ironing function because they lack the hot pressing plate found on irons. Both steam irons and steamers have been used for apply steam to remove creases and crinkles from hanging garments and other cloth materials. Steam has also been used in the cleaning of a variety of objects such as curtains, couches, furniture covers (e.g., couch covers), etc.

Many different types of steaming irons and steam devices have been employed to steam objects such as clothing. However, these devices have their limitations. More particularly, devices used to steam garments suffer from a problem with liquid water spitting and dripping from the area where steam emerges from the devices (i.e., the steamer). As seen in FIGS. 1-3, a conventional steamer 20 suffers from water 22 spitting and dripping from the steamer 20 because a portion of the steam 24 generated by the garment steamer or steaming device (not shown) condenses into the water 22 which then passes through apertures or holes 26 in a plate 28 connected to a housing 30 of the steamer 20. The water exits the housing 30 through the holes 26 and then comes in contact with a garment or other object being steamed. Only steam 24 is intended to pass through the holes 12 from the interior of the housing 30 of the steamer 20 but, a portion of the steam condenses back into liquid water while still inside the housing 16. It is this water that spits and drips through the holes 26 in the garment steamer 20 and onto the garment or other object being steamed. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,886,373 discloses a garment steamer. However, this appliance discloses only the traditional nozzles used for venting steam from the garment steamer. In another example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,986,217 discloses a hand held garment steamer. However, this appliance also only discloses traditional nozzles used for venting steam from the garment steamer. While some garment steamers include a run back system that allows condensed liquid water in the garment to run back down into the boiler of the garment steamer where the liquid water will heat up and become steam again, this run back system does nothing to stop condensed liquid water that does not run back down into the boiler from spitting and dripping onto the garment.

While devices such as the ones described above may provide a means for steaming garments and the like, such devices can always be improved to reduce and/or eliminate the dripping and spitting of condensed liquid water onto the garment being steamed.

Accordingly, there is a need for a drip-free garment steamer. There is an additional need for a garment steamer that has improved nozzles to prevent dripping and spitting of condensed water from the steamer garment. The present invention satisfies these needs and provides other related advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention resides in an apparatus and process that provides a multi-component bat. As illustrated herein, a drip-free garment steamer includes a steamer body having an inlet end and an outlet end, and defining an inner cavity through which steam passes. A plate at least partially covers the outlet end of the steamer body. A plurality of nozzles extend from the plate into the inner cavity of the steamer body, the nozzles defining apertures through the plate for the passage of steam from the inner cavity.

Each nozzle comprises a hollow tube connected to the plate, extending into the inner cavity. The hollow tubes are configured to minimize water within the inner cavity of the steamer body which has condensed from the steam passing therethrough, from flowing through the apertures.

The plate snap-fits to the steamer body. The plate engages the steamer body in a manner that provides the garment steamer with an angled work surface ranging from forty five to ninety degrees relative to an axis extending centrally through the steamer body.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate the invention. In such drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective front view of a conventional garment steamer plate;

FIG. 2 is a perspective rear view of the conventional garment steamer plate of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a conventional garment steamer having the garment steamer plate of FIG. 1, illustrating the conventional garment steamer in operation, spitting and dripping water;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of a garment steamer embodying the present invention showing a rear view of a garment steamer plate after removal from the garment steamer;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the garment steamer of FIG. 4 with the plate attached to the garment steamer;

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a rear elevational view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a left side elevational view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a right side elevational view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5;

FIG. 11 is a bottom plan view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the garment steamer of FIG. 5 illustrating the garment steamer in operation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is useful in a variety of applications that require drip-free steaming. This device is usable in any situation where an object needs to be steamed. These situations can occur anywhere there is a need to steam an object, such as in the home, in a hotel, at the office, or the like.

As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the present invention resides in a drip-free garment steamer 40. With reference to FIGS. 4-12, a garment steamer 40 is of single-piece construction with or attachable to a hand-held steam generating device (not shown) or a portable steam generating device (not shown) used in conjunction with a wheeled truck carriage (not shown) upon which the steam generating device rests. In general, the steam generating device includes a housing for electrical and mechanical parts, and a water tank for holding a certain amount of water that is to be converted into steam. Water within the water tank drains to a steam chamber within the housing. The steam chamber holds a certain amount of water and includes a heater which heats the water in the steam chamber in order to produce steam from the water. The steam produced by the heater is passed into a steam passage within the housing that leads directly into the steamer 40 or into a steam hose through which the steam passes on the way to the steamer 40.

The garment steamer 40 includes a body 42, a tubular neck 44 and a nozzle plate 46. The body 42 comprises an inner cavity or hollow chamber 48 having a first aperture 50 providing an opening between the neck 44 and the chamber 48. The body 42 further includes a second aperture 52, generally opposite on the body 42 from the first aperture 50, within which the nozzle plate 46 is received on a circumferential groove 54 running along the internal perimeter of the second aperture 52. A raised portion 56 of the nozzle plate 46 is snugly received within the second aperture 52 to create an atmospheric/water-tight seal therebetween. The body 42 may have a symmetrical or asymmetrical shape. In the alternative, a gasket may be disposed along the groove 54 between the nozzle plate 46 and the second aperture 52 to assist in providing an atmospheric/water-tight seal therebetween

The nozzle plate 46 comprises front and rear sides 58, 60. A plurality of nozzle apertures 62 are disposed on the front side 58 in a variety of patterns (e.g., the pattern seen in FIG. 5) that include, without limitation, elliptical patterns, diamond patterns, rectangular patterns, oval patterns, circular patterns, triangular patterns or the like. A plurality of small hollow tubes 64, each tube 64 aligned with a particular nozzle aperture 62, extending from the rear side 60 of the nozzle plate 46 into the chamber 48 of the body 42. These tubes 64 do not stop the condensation process but the tubes 64 do stop water 86 (condensed from steam 88) from spitting and dripping onto garments by preventing liquid water 86 from reaching the nozzle apertures 62. Instead, the tubes 64 help to keep the water 86 confined within the chamber 48 since the water 86 drips from the exterior of the tubes 64, no matter the orientation of the steamer 40, to the lowest portion of the chamber 48 and does not drip into a bore 66 extending through each tube 64 to the nozzle aperture 62. The tubes 64 may be a variety of shapes including, but not limited to, cylindrical, tapered or the like. When the first aperture 50 and the neck 44 are at a lower orientation to the ground than the nozzle plate 46, gravity causes the condensed water to run back down through the neck 44 to the boiler of the attached steamer where the liquid water 86 once again becomes steam 88 that can pass through the bores 66 and out through the nozzle apertures 62.

The second aperture 52 is oriented on the body 42 such that the nozzle plate 46 engages the body 42 in a manner that provides the steamer 40 with an angled work surface 67 (e.g., as seen in FIGS. 8 and 9) ranging from forty five to ninety degrees relative to a common axis 68 extending through the neck 44 and body 42.

A number of structural supports 70 extend away from the rear side 60 of the nozzle plate 46 to engage an interior surface of the chamber 48 when the nozzle plate 46 engages the body 42. The supports 70 are sized and shaped so as to engage the interior surface of the chamber 48. At least two pairs of fasteners 72 connect the nozzle plate 46 to the steamer 40. The fasteners 72 may be in a variety of forms including, but not limited to, male/female connecters (e.g., interlocking, press-fit, interference-fit, threaded, rod and bayonet or the like) or the like. As seen in FIG. 4, two female tubular receptacles 74 are formed within the chamber 48 of the body 42 for receiving respective male plugs 76 that are attached to and extend from the rear side 60 of the nozzle plate 46. The fasteners 72 keep the nozzle plate 46 engaged with the steamer 40. In the alternative, the fasteners 72 may pivotally connect the nozzle pate 46 to the body 42 in a manner that allows the nozzle plate 46 to swivel relative thereto, with a gasket maintaining a water-tight environmental seal therebetween.

The neck 44 comprises a hollow tube having a mechanism 78 for connecting the steamer 40 to the steam generating device and/or a steamer hose at a first end 80 and a second end 82 that engages the body 42. The mechanism 78 may be in a variety of forms including, without limitation, male/female connection (e.g., interlocking, press-fit, interference-fit, threaded, rod and bayonet or the like, including various well-known conventional mechanisms used to secure attachments to devices (e.g., such as those used to secure a brush attachment to a vacuum cleaner). The neck 44 may be of single piece construction with the body 42 or the neck 44 and body 42 include a means for engaging each other (not shown). In the alternative, the neck 44 and body 42 may be pivotally connected so as to allow the neck 44 to swivel with respect to the body 42.

The nozzle plate 46 includes a tab 84 that allows a user to disengage the nozzle plate 46 from the body 42 when a user pulls the tab 84 which in turn disengages the fasteners 72 connecting the nozzle plate 46 to the body 42.

Although the garment steamer 40 has been described in terms of steaming garments, the steamer 40 is also able to be modified for use as a brush attachment, squeegee attachment, floor cleaning attachment, crevice tool, upholstery cleaning attachment, window cleaning attachment or the like.

The above-described embodiment of the present invention is illustrative only and not limiting. It will thus be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from this invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the appended claims encompass all such changes and modifications as falling within the true spirit and scope of this invention.