Title:
DIAPHRAGM PUMP AND THIN CHANNEL STRUCTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A diaphragm pump includes a duct structure capable of connecting an inlet port and an outlet port without using a tube. In the diaphragm pump, each of an inlet channel hole and an outlet channel hole is formed as a depression without the provision of inlet and outlet ports each formed as a protrusion on a housing, and a tubular protrusion provided on a plate forming a channel is fit in the depression.



Inventors:
Onishi, Hitoshi (Niigata-ken, JP)
Application Number:
11/872225
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
10/15/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F04B39/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACOBS, TODD D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Crowell/BGL (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A diaphragm pump comprising: a vibrating diaphragm supported between a pair of housings, having a sealed edge to prevent leakage of liquid, and forming a pump chamber; an inlet channel hole in which an inlet check valve is disposed and an outlet channel hole in which an outlet check valve is disposed, the inlet channel hole and the outlet channel hole being formed through at least a first housing of the pair of housings so as to communicate with the pump chamber; an inlet channel having a first inlet channel plate and a second inlet channel plate laminated together with the first inlet channel plate, the first inlet channel plate including a tubular protrusion communicating with the inlet channel hole, the second inlet channel plate forming an inlet channel communicating with the tubular protrusion; and an outlet channel having a first outlet channel plate and a second outlet channel plate laminated together with the first outlet channel plate, the first outlet channel plate including a tubular protrusion communicating with the outlet channel hole, the second outlet channel plate forming an outlet channel communicating with the tubular protrusion.

2. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein the inlet channel hole and the outlet channel hole are substantially parallel to each other.

3. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein the first inlet channel plate and the first outlet channel plate are made of a single plate material, and the second inlet channel plate and the second outlet channel plate are made of a single plate material.

4. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein the first housing includes an annular groove used for receiving each of the tubular protrusions and being concentric with the each of the inlet channel hole and the outlet channel hole, and an O ring is disposed between an inner surface of the annular groove and an outer surface of the tubular protrusion fit in the annular groove.

5. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein each of the tubular protrusions has a flange at an end thereof.

6. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein each of the inlet channel and the outlet channel is non-circular in cross section, the inlet channel has a flat shape that has a greater width in a direction substantially perpendicular to a protruding direction of the tubular protrusion of the first inlet channel plate, and the outlet channel has a flat shape that has a greater width in a direction substantially perpendicular to a protruding direction of the tubular protrusion of the first outlet channel plate.

7. The diaphragm pump according to claim 1, wherein the diaphragm is a piezoelectric vibrator in which a piezoelectric element is disposed on at least one of both sides of a shim made of a conductive metal sheet.

8. A thin channel structure comprising: a channel block in which a channel hole is formed; a first plate having a tubular protrusion communicating with the channel hole of the channel block; and a second plate laminated together with the first plate and forming a liquid channel communicating with the tubular protrusion.

Description:
This application claims benefit of the Japanese Patent Application No. 2006-285842 filed on Oct. 20, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a diaphragm pump using a vibrating diaphragm to produce a pumping action, and in particular, to a diaphragm pump and a thin channel structure that can be reduced in size and thickness.

2. Description of the Related Art

The applicant is developing a diaphragm pump (piezoelectric pump) for use as, for example, a cooling-water circulating pump for a water-cooled notebook personal computer (PC). A notebook PC has a limited space for storing parts, so a smaller and thinner pump is increasingly demanded. A technique for providing such a pump is disclosed in, for example, U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005-0231914 A1 and Japanese Unexamined Patent Application Publication Nos. 2005-229038 and 2005-282386.

However, according to typical known techniques, an inlet port and an outlet port for a piezoelectric pump are each formed as a protrusion protruding from a housing, and a flexible tube is used as a duct connected to both ports. The inlet and outlet ports as a protrusion and the structure of connection including the tube connected to both ports and its surroundings prevent size and thickness reduction in the entire system, even when the piezoelectric pump is reduced in size and thickness in itself.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a diaphragm pump that has a duct structure capable of connecting a duct to an inlet port and an outlet port without using a tube.

According to a first aspect, a diaphragm pump includes a vibrating diaphragm, an inlet channel hole in which an inlet check valve is disposed, an outlet channel hole in which an outlet check valve is disposed, an inlet channel, and an outlet channel. The diaphragm is supported between a pair of housings, has a sealed edge to prevent leakage of liquid, and forms a pump chamber. The inlet channel hole and the outlet channel hole are formed through at least a first housing of the pair of housings so as to communicate with the pump chamber. The inlet channel has a first inlet channel plate and a second inlet channel plate laminated together with the first inlet channel plate. The first inlet channel plate includes a tubular protrusion communicating with the inlet channel hole. The second inlet channel plate forms an inlet channel communicating with the tubular protrusion. The outlet channel has a first outlet channel plate and a second outlet channel plate laminated together with the first outlet channel plate. The first outlet channel plate includes a tubular protrusion communicating with the outlet channel hole. The second outlet channel plate forms an outlet channel communicating with the tubular protrusion.

In one embodiment, the inlet channel hole and the outlet channel hole may be substantially parallel to each other.

In one embodiment, the first inlet channel plate and the first outlet channel plate may be made of a single plate material, and the second inlet channel plate and the second outlet channel plate may be made of a single plate material. Therefore, the number of parts can be reduced, and assembly can be facilitated.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, a thin channel structure includes a channel block in which a channel hole is formed, a first plate having a tubular protrusion communicating with the channel hole of the channel block, and a second plate laminated together with the first plate and forming a liquid channel communicating with the tubular protrusion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a piezoelectric pump to which the disclosed structure is applied, with a part of the surface being removed to show the inside thereof.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line II-II in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the piezoelectric pump.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

According to the present embodiment, the disclosed pump is applied to a two-valve piezoelectric pump 20. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3, the piezoelectric pump 20 includes a lower housing 21 and an upper housing 22 in sequence from the bottom.

The lower housing 21 has an inlet channel hole 24 and an outlet channel hole 25 for allowing cooling water (liquid) to pass therethrough. The inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25 are substantially perpendicular to the through-thickness plane of the lower housing 21 and are preferably substantially parallel to each other. A piezoelectric vibrator (diaphragm) 28 is supported between the lower housing 21 and the upper housing 22 via an O ring 29 so as to be sealed against leakage of liquid. A pump chamber P is formed between the piezoelectric vibrator 28 and the lower housing 21. An air chamber A is formed between the piezoelectric vibrator 28 and the upper housing 22. According to the present embodiment, the axis of the inlet channel hole 24 and that of the outlet channel hole 25 are preferably substantially perpendicular to the piezoelectric vibrator 28.

The piezoelectric vibrator 28 may be of a unimorph type and may have a central shim 28a and a piezoelectric element 28b laminated on one of both sides of the shim 28a (in FIG. 2, on the upper surface). The shim 28a is made of a conductive metal sheet, for example, a metal sheet having a thickness of approximately about 50 μm to about 300 μm made of stainless steel, 42 alloy, or other materials. The piezoelectric element 28b is made of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) (Pb(Zr,Ti)O3) and has a thickness of the order of about 300 μm. The piezoelectric element 28b is poled in the direction of both sides thereof. Such a piezoelectric vibrator is well known.

The inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25 of the lower housing 21 are provided with (umbrella) check valves 32 and 33, respectively. The check valve 32 is disposed adjacent to the pump chamber P and is an inlet check valve for permitting a fluid to flow from the inlet channel hole 24 to the pump chamber P and preventing reverse flow of the fluid. The check valve 33 is disposed adjacent to the outlet channel and is an outlet check valve for permitting a fluid to flow from the pump chamber P to the outlet channel hole 25 and preventing reverse flow of the fluid.

The check valves 32 and 33 have the same form. The check valves 32 and 33 have perforated substrates 32a and 33a and elastic umbrellas 32b and 33b attached thereto, respectively. Such umbrella check valves are well known. In the present embodiment, the perforated substrates 32a and 33a are separated from the lower housing 21. However, they may be integrally molded with the lower housing 21.

According to the present embodiment, the lower housing 21 has the inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25, as described above. In addition, the inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25 are connected to an inlet channel 26 and an outlet channel 27, respectively. Both the inlet channel 26 and the outlet channel 27 are formed by a first channel plate 40 and a second channel plate 50. The lower housing 21 includes annular grooves 24a and 25a whose outer surfaces are opened (see FIG. 2). The annular grooves 24a and 25a are concentric with the inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25, respectively. The annular grooves 24a and 25a may be eccentric as needed. The first channel plate 40 serves as both a first channel plate for the inlet side and that for the outlet side and is formed as a plate in which both the first channel plates are integrated with each other. The first channel plate 40 includes an inlet tubular protrusion 41 to be fit in the annular groove 24a, an outlet tubular protrusion 42 to be fit in the annular groove 25a, an inlet channel recess 43 communicating with the inlet tubular protrusion 41, an outlet channel recess 44 communicating with the outlet tubular protrusion 42, and a partition 45 separating the inlet channel recess 43 and the outlet channel recess 44.

The second channel plate 50 serves as both a second channel plate for the inlet side and that for the outlet side and is formed as a plate in which both the second channel plates are integral with each other, as in the case of the first channel plate 40. The second channel plate 50 includes an inlet channel recess 53 (which corresponds to the inlet channel recess 43 in the first channel plate 40), an outlet channel recess 54 (which corresponds to the outlet channel recess 44), and a partition 55 (which corresponds to the partition 45). The first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50 are joined together by joining of a joint surface 46 including the partition 45 and a joint surface 56 including the partition 55 by, for example, brazing using solder, thereby forming the inlet channel 26 extending to the inlet tubular protrusion 41 and the outlet channel 27 extending to the outlet tubular protrusion 42. Each of the first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50 is constructed of a sheet made of, for example, aluminum, copper, or stainless steel and having a thickness of approximately 0.1 mm to 0.3 mm, and the thickness of the channel is equal to or smaller than 1 mm. Therefore, the thickness of the entire pump can be reduced. The inlet channel 26 and the outlet channel 27 are noncircular in cross section. The inlet channel 26 has a flat shape that has a greater width in a direction substantially perpendicular to the protruding direction of the inlet tubular protrusion 41. Similarly, the outlet channel 27 has flat shape that has a greater width in a direction substantially perpendicular to the protruding direction of the outlet tubular protrusion 42. One of the outlet channel recesses 44 and 54 may be omitted such that only one of the first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50 has an outlet channel recess.

The inlet tubular protrusion 41 is fit into the annular groove 24a such that an O ring 47 is disposed between the outer surface of the inlet tubular protrusion 41 and the inner surface of the annular groove 24a. Similarly, the outlet tubular protrusion 42 is fit into the annular groove 25a such that an O ring 57 is disposed between the outer surfaces of the outlet tubular protrusion 42 and the inner surface of the annular groove 25a. This maintains sealing to prevent leakage of liquid. The inlet tubular protrusion 41 and the outlet tubular protrusion 42 include internal flanges 41a and 42a at the respective ends such that the inlet tubular protrusion 41 and the outlet tubular protrusion 42 are mechanically strengthened to avoid both protrusions from becoming flattened easily. In the present embodiment, the internal flanges 41a and 42a project toward the inside of the end of the inlet tubular protrusion 41 and that of the outlet tubular protrusion 42, respectively. However, the internal flanges 41a and 42a may outwardly project. In this case, the O rings 47 and 57 are prevented from falling when the lower housing 21 and the first channel plate 40 are attached or detached from each other.

For the piezoelectric pump 20 having the above described structure, when the piezoelectric vibrator 28 is elastically deformed (vibrated) in forward and reverse directions, on a stroke for increasing the volume of the pump chamber P, because the inlet check valve 32 is opened and the outlet check valve 33 is closed, liquid flows from the inlet channel 26 and the inlet channel hole 24 into the pump chamber P; on a stroke for reducing the volume of the pump chamber P, because the outlet check valve 33 is opened and the inlet check valve 32 is closed, the liquid flows from the pump chamber P to the outlet channel hole 25 and the outlet channel 27. Therefore, a pumping action is produced by continuously causing the piezoelectric vibrator 28 to be elastically deformed (vibrated) in forward and reverse directions.

In the present embodiment, both the channel from the inlet channel 26 to the pump chamber P and the channel from the pump chamber P to the outlet channel 27 are formed by the first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50, and the first channel plate 40 includes the inlet tubular protrusion 41 and the outlet tubular protrusion 42, which are fit in the annular grooves 24a and 25a being concentric with the inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25, respectively. As a result, the size and the thickness of the entire system can be reduced. That is, the lower housing 21 and the upper housing 22 do not have a protrusion for connecting the pump chamber P to the inlet channel 26 and the outlet channel 27, and a flexible tube also is not present.

In the embodiment described above, the first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50 form both the inlet and outlet channels. However, the first channel plate and the second channel plate can be provided for each of the inlet channels and the outlet channels, i.e., the first channel plate 40 and the second channel plate 50 can be separated by the partition 45 and the partition 55, respectively, into different portions. In this case, the arrangement of the inlet channel hole 24 and the outlet channel hole 25 and the orientations thereof can be designed more flexibly.

In the embodiment described above, the unimorph piezoelectric vibrator 28 is illustrated as a diaphragm. However, a bimorph piezoelectric vibrator can also be used. In the embodiment described above, the present invention is applied to a two-valve diaphragm pump in which the pump chamber P is disposed on only one side of the piezoelectric vibrator 28. However, the present invention is applicable to a diaphragm pump in which a pump chamber is disposed on each of both sides of a piezoelectric vibrator. In addition, the present invention is applicable to general diaphragm pumps, which produce a pumping action by causing the volume of a pump chamber to increase and decrease in cycles.