Title:
Household appliance with wave pattern
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A household appliance is provided with an external body portion that is formed from a substantially clear plastic material. The plastic material has a non-flat or wavy cross-section and a light reflecting coating provided on an interior surface of the body portion. The household appliance has a rich three-dimensional appearance.



Inventors:
Picozza, Augusto (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Jang, Stuart Raymond (Waltham, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/447381
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
06/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C15/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SIMONE, CATHERINE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sunbeam Products, Inc. (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Claims:
1. A household appliance, comprising: an external body portion comprising a substantially clear plastic material having a smooth outer surface and an interior surface provided with recesses and a light-reflecting coating applied over said recesses.

2. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said recesses define a wavy cross-section.

3. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said smooth outer surface is a non-wavy surface.

4. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said smooth outer surface is flat.

5. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said appliance is a kitchen appliance.

6. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said plastic has a tint.

7. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said plastic is a thermoplastic.

8. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said plastic is a polycarbonate.

9. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said plastic is an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic.

10. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said coating contains metallic fleck.

11. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said coating is taken from the group of materials consisting of liquid or solid applied paint, tape, plastic coating and plastic sheet.

12. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said plastic is approximately 2-3 mm. thick.

13. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein a major portion of said interior surface is free of appendages.

14. The household appliance as described in claim 1 wherein said appliance is powered electrically.

15. The household appliance as described in claim 2 wherein waves of said wavy cross-section vary in period.

16. The household appliance as described in claim 15 wherein said waves continually increase in period from one edge to another edge of said body portion.

17. The household appliance as described in claim 15 wherein waves of said wavy cross-section has apexes projecting randomly and being non-parallel spaced from each other.

18. An appliance, comprising: an external body portion comprising a substantially clear plastic material about 2-3 mm in thickness having a grooved inner surface and a smooth non-wavy outer surface and a light-reflecting coating provided on an interior surface of said body portion with a major portion of said interior surface being free of appendages.

19. An appliance, comprising: an external body portion comprising a substantially clear thermoplastic material having a wavy inner surface and a smooth non-wavy outer surface and a light-reflecting metal fleck containing coating provided on said inner surface with a major portion of said inner surface being free of appendages.

20. A household appliance as claimed in claim 19 wherein said body portion has first and second panels and wherein said waves of said panels have periods increasing from a common border.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates in general to exterior casings, panels and housings for household appliances and in particular to a plastic material having a smooth outer surface exhibiting a wavy or three-dimensional appearance.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is desirable to differentiate brands of household and other appliances by their aesthetics. Various decorative details for appliances have involved colored molded plastics, painted surfaces, and metal surfaces with various finishes such as brushed and polished stainless steel. It is desirable to provide a household appliance with a panel having a unique aesthetic look that provides a smooth, easy-to-clean outer surface which displays a three-dimensional appearance simulating a significant depth.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A household appliance is provided with an external body portion that is formed from a substantially clear plastic material through which light may freely pass. The plastic material has a smooth outer surface and a non-flat, rippled, grooved or wavy inner surface. A light-reflecting coating is provided on an interior surface of the body portion adjacent to or directly on the wavy portion. This provides the household appliance with a rich three-dimensional appearance when viewed through the smooth outer surface.

Other features of the invention will become more apparent to those skilled in the art as the invention is further revealed in the accompanying drawings and detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a coffeemaker having an exterior housing formed of panels constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective interior view of one of the panels of the coffeemaker shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a view in section, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of exterior portions of the coffeemaker panels shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a partial top plan view of a household platform scale having a platform constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5A is a view in section taken along line A-A of FIG. 5.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment household appliance panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6A is a view in section taken along a portion of line 6A-6A of FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment household appliance panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 7A is a view in section taken along a portion of line 7A-7A of FIG. 7.

FIG. 7B is an enlarged view of region 7B of FIG. 7.

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of a household appliance panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 8A is an enlarged view of region 8A of FIG. 8.

FIG. 8B is a view in section taken along a portion of line 8B-8B of FIG. 8A.

FIG. 9 is a partial top plan view of an alternative embodiment household appliance panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9A is a view in section taken along line 9A-9A of FIG. 9.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment household appliance panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 10A is a view in section taken along a portion of line 10A-10A of FIG. 10.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a toaster having an outer casing having panels constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a household platform scale having a panel constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the panel of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of the panel of FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a view in section taken along line 15A-15A of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a view in section taken along line 16B-16B of FIG. 14.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An electric powered household appliance in the form of a coffeemaker 7 is shown in FIG. 1. The coffeemaker 7 has an external body portion or outer casing formed by upper and lower plastic panels or shells 10 and 11. The upper casing or shell 10 encloses a brewhead 12. The lower casing or shell 11 encloses a water reservoir, heater, and pump in a well-known construction. A coffee pot 14 supported on a heated plate 16 is positioned under the brewhead 12.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the upper shell 10 is partially formed by a panel 20. The panel 20 has four apertures 22 to allow control buttons 24 (FIG. 1) to extend therethrough. The panel 20 is fabricated from an injection molded substantially clear plastic that is transparent or slightly tinted. Preferably, the plastic is a thermoplastic such as polycarbonate or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. The panel 20 in this application has a thickness of about 2 to 3 mm. Other embodiments of the present invention may have panels with a thickness above or below 3 mm.

As seen in FIG. 3, panel 20 as viewed along section line 3-3 of FIG. 2 has a mild, curvilinear, non-wavy smooth outer surface 28 extending perpendicular or transverse to a series of waves or ripples 32. The die tooling used to form the outer surface 28 in this example was finished to a SPI-A1 diamond polish to ensure the smoothness of the outer surface 28. The smooth outer surface 28 inhibits the entrapment of dirt or dust and is therefore easy to keep clean and is resistant to smudge and finger marks. Moreover, the smooth outer surface 28 promotes a wavy, three-dimensional visual appearance, as discussed further below. A significant if not major portion of the panel 20 is free of ribs, bosses, appendages, projections or surface irregularities so as to present a continuous or unbroken visual appearance.

As further seen in FIG. 3, an interior surface 30 of the upper shell 10 is formed with undulations defining a series of waves 32 having continuously varying widths. In this example, the waves 32 have a peak to valley or crest to trough height of approximately 0.8 mm to 1 mm. The interior surface 30 is covered with a light-reflective mirror-like coating 34, such as a silver metallic light-reflecting paint. The thickness of the coating 34 in FIG. 3 is exaggerated for illustration purposes. The coating 34 is typically silver, white or a light color. The coating may be a liquid or solid applied paint, a plastic coating or sheet, a foil of metal or plastic, or a reflective tape. In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the coating 34 is a silver color with metallic fleck that acts as a mirror to reflect and refract light back through the outer surface 28 and thereby produce the illusion of waves having a depth much greater than 0.8 to 1.0 mm.

Panel 20 of the upper shell 10 and panel 40 of the lower shell 11 are shown disposed adjacent to one another in FIGS. 1 and 4. Each panel 20, 40 has a series of waves defined by undulating crests or humps 34 and valleys or troughs 36. The spacing between the crests 34 and the corresponding width of each wave has a variable period 44 that decreases from one edge 46 of each panel to an opposite edge 48. A common border 52 (FIG. 1) between the juxtaposed panels 20, 40 may separate to form a lenticular or oval opening 54 to produce a grain effect.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 5 and 5A wherein a household scale 60 is provided with a display 62 formed in a top panel or platform 64. The top platform 64 of the external body portion of the scale 60 has a panel 66 similar to aforementioned panels 20 and 40. The panel 66 has wavy cross-section crests or apexes 68 as viewed from the exterior surface of the panel 66. The apexes 68 project randomly with non-parallel spacing providing a wave pattern that has non-constant or variable width waves. As seen in FIG. 5A, panel 66 is supported in a rectangular tray 67 supported on a rectangular pedestal 69. Pedestal 69 is supported on four corners on four load cells 71 in a known fashion.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 6 and 6A wherein a household scale top platform 64A has a champagne bubble appearance. The bubbles 65 are formed with varying diameters. Partial spherical recessed surface portions 63 (FIG. 6A) are formed in the bottom or underside of panel 66. Panel 66 in this embodiment has a thickness of about 3 mm and the maximum depth of each recessed portion 63 is about 2 mm.

Still another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 7, 7A, and 7B wherein a household scale top platform 64B has a compact wavy appearance formed by a series of equally spaced, domed or radiused, undulating grooves 61. Panel 66 in this example has a thickness of about 3 mm and the depth of grooves 61 is about 2 mm.

Yet another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 8, 8A, and 8B wherein a household scale top platform 64C has a wet string appearance. Each equally spaced bead or droplet 71 is formed as a small recessed flat-bottomed pocket 73 centered on a series of parallel grooves 75. The grooves 75 in this example have a width and depth of about 2 mm and the pockets 73 have a width of about 3 mm and a depth of about 2 mm. The panel 66 has a thickness of about 3 mm.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 9 and 9A wherein a household scale top platform 64D has a pattern or intersecting circles formed by arched circular grooves 77. Still another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 10 and 10A wherein a household scale top platform 64E has a wood grain appearance formed by free-formed recesses 79. Recesses 79 can be stepped in the form of constant elevation regions on a topographical map to give the illusion of a mountainous contour.

A toaster 70 having a housing constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 11. The toaster 70 has a substantially flat exterior surface end panel 72. The panel 72 is substantially similar to the aforementioned panels 20 and 40.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 12 through 16 wherein platform scale 60 is provided with a central panel 66 having an irregular shape. In this example, one end 80 of panel 66 is ungrooved and of uniform thickness. The opposite end also includes an ungrooved portion 82, as well as a rectangular opening 84 for a display 62.

As seen in FIGS. 15 and 16, the number of waves 32 is constant along the length of panel 66, but the spacing of the waves varies proportionately with the varying width of panel 66. As seen in FIG. 12, this produces the image of expanded and compressed waves radiating along panel 66. Waves 32 are formed as noted above, with similar depths and with panel 66 having a thickness of about 3 mm.

Each wave 32 acts as a lens formed of clear plastic with a smooth gloss finish on its top surface, and a ripple pattern on its inner or back surface. The back surface is painted with reflective metallic paint, except for the display area 62.

While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed, it is to be understood it has been described by way of example only, and various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as it is encompassed in the following claims. For example, panels constructed in accordance with the present invention can be used with virtually any appliance or household product, as well as outdoor appliances and outdoor products.