Title:
Pickup cleaning device with static electric bar/roller
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is directed to a device used for cleaning up hair, fibers and other debris from surfaces, furnishings and carpets. More specifically, the invention relates to picking up such items using a mechanized apparatus with a static electric charged bar or roller and rotating gears that transfer torque to rotate a collecting roller. The collecting roller picks up and stores the hair, fibers and other debris that have been lifted by the static electric charged bar or roller and deposits them in a collection section of the device for disposal.



Inventors:
Park, Sung K. (Waban, MA, US)
Dayton, Douglas C. (Harvard, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/982529
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
11/01/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L13/40
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SCRUGGS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STRATEGIC PATENTS P.C. (NEEDHAM, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for picking up hair, fibers and other debris on a surface comprising: a housing; a handle connected to said housing; two opposing wheels mounted to said housing; a collection roller connected to said housing and disposed between said two opposing wheels; a static roller connected to said housing and disposed below and at a parallel, vertically offset position relative to said collection roller; a stripper bar adapted to periodically engage with said collection roller to remove hair, fibers and other debris along said collection roller; wherein said static bar obtains a static electric charge during back and forth motion of said device along said surface.

2. An apparatus of claim 1, wherein a static bar is connected to said housing and disposed at a parallel, vertically offset position relative to a collection roller

Description:

PRIOR PATENT APPLICATION

This application is a non-provisional patent application claiming priority to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/856,204 filed on Nov. 1, 2006, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention is directed to an apparatus used for cleaning up hair, fibers, and other debris from surfaces, furnishings and carpets.

BACKGROUND

Prior art cleaning apparatuses use a variety of methods to remove hair, fibers, and other debris from a surface to be cleaned, such as moving brushes, suction, and adhesives. Electric vacuum cleaners often use suction and moving brushes to clean surfaces. Vacuum cleaners are usually heavy and need to be plugged into an electrical outlet to function properly. In addition, vacuum cleaners typically require a supply of bags that must be replaced from time to time to be effective, and long hairs and fibers can become entangled in the mechanical parts of vacuum cleaners. Other prior art includes lighter weight floor cleaning devices that are quieter than electric vacuums. These, however, are designed to work on solid hard floors, not carpeted or fabric surfaces. Lint removers are typically designed in a small format, such as a hand-held brush or roller, and can quickly become saturated with hair and debris, losing their effectiveness. Due to their small size, lint removers do not have the attracting and collecting capabilities necessary for cleaning large surfaces or floors.

SUMMARY

In general, in an aspect, the invention provides a pickup apparatus comprising a housing, a handle mounted to the housing, two wheels connected to the housing, and a collection container. A static roller is connected to the housing and disposed at a parallel, vertically offset position relative to a collection roller that is connected to the housing. A stripper bar periodically engages with the collection roller and is adjacent to the collection container. A pivot arm engages with the collection container. The housing has rotatable drive wheels mounted on it for enabling the housing to roll along a surface. Also, the rotation of the wheels causes the collection roller to rotate.

Capabilities and advantages of the invention may include one or more of the following. The static electric charged bar or roller on the leading edge of a device may attract hair, fibers, and other debris, lifting them from the surface to be cleaned toward the charged bar or roller. This lifting may promote easier ensnaring and collecting of the hair, fibers, or debris by a collection roller. The static bar may be disposed below and at a parallel and vertically offset position relative to the collection bar. Unidirectional bristles along a surface of the collection roller may comb forward at a rate faster than the forward motion of the device and help to ensnare and gather the static standing hairs/fibers onto points of the bristles. The bristles extend at an angle from the roller's surface to maximize their engagement with the collected hairs/fibers. Therefore, short hairs/fibers may become collected entirely within the protruding bristles of the collection roller, and longer hairs may become partially intertwined. Hairs, fibers, and other debris may be collected continually when the device is in forward motion.

When the drive wheels are rotated in reverse, the collection roller rotates in reverse and a friction clutch engages a stripper bar. The stripper bar may easily remove hairs/fibers by combing the hair/fibers against the orientation of the unidirectional bristles on the collection roller. Hair/fibers may then be collected in a bundle along an edge of the stripper bar. When forward motion again commences, the bundle of hair/fibers may be entangled by adhesive covered flanges of the collection box and may stay attached while more hair/fibers are collected. The hair/fibers and/or the box containing the hair/fibers can ultimately be disposed of.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary pickup device according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another exemplary pickup device according to the invention;

FIGS. 4A-4E are cross sectional views of rollers of the device shown in FIG. 1 or FIG. 2 during operation; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a further exemplary pickup device according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, in an aspect, the invention provides a device 8 including drive wheels 10, a static bar 12, a collection roller 14, a collection box 16, and a handle 18, which can be long or short for use of the device 8 on any of a variety of surfaces, such as, for instance, floors or furniture. Hand pressure exerted on the handle 18 causes the drive wheels 10, which have high friction outer surfaces 20, to roll against a surface from which hair, fibers, and other debris are to be removed. As forward pressure is exerted on the handle 18, the drive wheels 10 roll in a forward motion, as shown by arrow 22 in FIG. 1, causing the collection roller 14 to rotate via a gear train (as described below). Movement of the drive wheels 10 powers the collection roller 14 in the same direction as drive wheels 10, but at a higher rotational speed.

The static bar 12 is disposed and attached to the device 8 at a parallel and vertically offset position relative to the collection bar 14. In addition, the static bar 12 is preferably offset below the collection roller 14. The position of the static bar 12 relative to the collection roller 12 helps to ensure the collection roller 14 will contact and ensnare at least some of the hair, fibers, and/or other debris disposed along the static bar 12. A plurality of unidirectional bristles 50, as shown on FIG. 2, are disposed along at least a portion of a surface of the collection roller 14. Each bristle 50 is configured to protrude from the collection roller 14 surface at an angle, in a direction corresponding to arrow 46 in FIG. 2. As the collection roller 14 rotates, at least a portion of the bristles 50 contact the static bar 12.

The static bar 12 is electrically insulated from the remainder of the device 8 and is composed of a dielectric material. Therefore, the contact between the bristles 50 on the collection roller 14 and the static bar 12 may produce a static electric charge along the static bar 12. Also, contact between the static bar 12 and surface over which the device 8 is moving, for example, a carpet, may produce a static electric charge along the static bar 12. Once charged, the static bar 12 may attract hair, fibers, and other debris from a surface beneath the bar 12 that causes hair, fibers, and other debris to lift from the surface to thereby help to make contact with the collection roller 14. The bristles 50 on the collection roller 14 face in a forward direction and engage and hold onto the hair, fibers, and other debris that the collection roller 14 encounters.

When the device 8 is rolled in reverse, the drive wheels 10 and collection roller 14 rotate in the direction opposite to that shown by arrow 22 in FIG. 1. The backward motion engages a stripper bar (not visible in this view), which presses against the collection roller 14 and strips off the hair, fibers, and other debris that have collected on it. Such hair, fibers, and other debris are stripped off the collection roller 14 and become trapped in the collection box 16.

Referring to FIG. 2, the drive wheels 10 have an internal gear 40 that drives the collection roller 14 through a spur gear 38 mounted to a roller axle 44. The collection roller 14 is connected to, removable from, and rotated by the roller axle 44 with the spur gear 38. A second spur gear 32, driven by the same internal gear 40 within the driving wheel 10, rotates a pivot axle 34. A pivot arm 36 is mounted on the pivot axle 34 that is connected to a friction clutch 30. The friction clutch 30 moves the pivot arm 36 forward, when the driving wheels 10 are rotating in a forward direction, as shown by the arrow 46 in FIG. 2, and moves rearward when the wheels 10 drive in a reverse direction. The pivot arm 36 pivots to engage with the collection box 16. The pivot arm 36 also pivots rearward away from the collection roller 14 when the device 8 is driven forward in collecting mode, as shown by arrow 46 in FIG. 2, and is caused to pivot forward toward the collection roller 14 when device 8 is driven in reverse.

A plurality of unidirectional bristles 94, similar to those on the collection roller 14, are disposed along at least a portion of the front edge of the pivot arm 42. Each bristle 94 is configured to protrude up from the front edge of the pivot arm 42, as shown in FIG. 4E and described below. When the collection roller 14 rotates in reverse, the front edge of the pivot arm 42 is pressed against the collection roller 14. The bristles 94 on the pivot arm 42 strip at least a portion of the ensnared hair, fibers, and other debris off the collection roller 14 and deposit removed hair, fibers, and other debris in the collection box 16.

The static bar 12 is disposed on the front of the devise 8. Made of dielectric material, the static bar 12 is electrically insulated from the frame 48 and lightly touches the bristles 50 of the collection roller 14. This contact with collection roller 14 may cause static electrical charge to build up on the static bar 12, which could cause the hair, fibers, and other debris to lift from a surface and be more likely to be captured by the bristles 50 of the collection roller 14.

Referring to FIG. 3, in another aspect, the invention provides the device 8 as shown and described with reference to FIGS. 1-3 with the exception that the static bar 12 is replaced with a static roller 86. The static roller 86 is disposed and attached to the device 8 at a parallel and vertically offset position relative to the collection bar 14. In addition, the static roller 86 is preferably offset below the collection roller 14. The static roller 86 is electrically insulated from the remainder of the device 8 by a mounting 80 and is composed of a dielectric material. Forward motion of the device 8, as shown by arrow 84 in FIG. 3, may cause the static roller 86 to build up static electric charge. Such build up can occur in several ways. The dielectric material of the roller 86 rubbing lightly on the collection roller 14 and/or a surface, a carpet or fabric may build up static charge. The roller 86, may rotate on an inner shaft 82. The outer surface of inner shaft 82 may be covered in a material suitable to build up a static charge, including, but not limited to, fur, synthetic fabric, standing-weave fabric, and any other material. When the outer surface of the shaft 82 is rubbed against the collection roller 86, static charge may build along the roller 86.

Referring to FIGS. 4A-4E, operation of the device 8 is described. The device 8 is moved in a forward motion, as shown by arrows 90 and 92 in FIG. 4A, toward hair, fibers, or other debris embedded in a surface, such as a carpet, fabric surface, wood surface or other surface. This forward motion can be accomplished by manually pushing the device 8, or by motorized propulsion of the device 8. The collection roller 14 rotates forward at a rotational speed greater than that of the drive wheels 10, and the static bar 12 may be charged by its forward motion. In operation, the device 8 is rolled over the surface being cleaned in a back and forth motion. The drive wheels 10 may be made up of a special material to maximize its grip on the surface and to maximize the torque generated by the device 8. The drive wheels 10 may have a high-traction surface, such as rubber or a tread surface, including knurled, knobby, or protrusions, to grip the surface being cleaned.

When the device 8 encounters hair, fibers, and other debris on the surface, the static electric charge on the static bar 12 may attract the hair, fibers, and other debris and lift the hair up toward it, as shown in FIG. 4B. This lifting promotes grabbing of the hair, fibers and other debris by collection roller 14 for removal from the surface being cleaned. As the collection roller 14 rotates forward, the bristles 50 capture hair, fibers and other debris that have been lifted by static bar 12, as shown in FIG. 4C, and start to wrap the hair, fibers and other debris onto the collection roller 14. The hair, fibers and other debris are collected and wrap around the collection roller 14, as shown in FIG. 4D, as the device 8 moves forward. The device 8 then moves backward, as shown by arrows 96 and 98 in FIG. 4E, causing the stripper bar 66 to be engaged against the collection roller 14. As the collection roller 14 rotates backwards, the unidirectional bristles 94 on the stripper bar 66 scrape against the bristles 50 on the collection roller 14, removing the hair from the bristles 50 and into the collection box 16 where they are stored for subsequent disposal.

Referring to FIG. 5, in a further aspect, the invention provides the device 8 as shown and described with reference to FIGS. 1-4 with a stripper bar assembly 62 as an alternative to the pivot arm 42. The assembly 62 includes an internal gear 40 that is integral with the drive wheels 10 and engages a spur gear 32. The spur gear 32 is affixed to a drive shaft 64 on which a stripper bar assembly 62 is suspended. The stripper bar assembly 62 is free to rotate by a hollow tube 60 (or bearing or other mechanism) with minimal clearance and low friction. The stripper bar assembly 62 is engaged to the drive shaft 64 by a friction device that causes the stripper bar assembly 62 to rotate with the drive shaft 64 so far as it may before encountering an impediment which is a designed part of the system. When the drive shaft 64 is rotating in forward motion, in concert with the drive wheels 10 and the device 8, as shown by the arrow 78, the stripper bar assembly 62 moves the stripper bar 66 away from the surface of the collection roller 14. When the direction of motion is reversed, the drive shaft rotates rearward and pulls the stripper bar 66 and its frictional surface 68 against the collection roller 14.

In one configuration, a friction clutch to provide such motion consists of an internally threaded cylinder 80 affixed to the hollow bearing tube 60. The bearing tube 60 is drilled through on the axis of the threaded bore so that a friction disk 72 bears against the drive shaft 64, creating a frictional connection to the drive shaft 64. The friction disk 72 is loaded by a coil spring 74, which is also placed into the threaded bore following friction disk 72. The coil spring 74 is held by a set screw 76 or other threaded fastener which, when threaded into the bore, compresses the coil spring 74 and increases the load on the friction disc 72. In such manner can the amount of friction be adjusted.

Having described at least one illustrative embodiment of the invention, various alterations, modifications and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications and improvements are intended to be within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description is by way of example only and is not intended as limiting. The invention's limit is defined only in the following claims and the equivalents thereto.





 
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