Title:
Contour spa basin with impeller enclosure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pedicure spa, including a fluid retaining basin including a plurality of channels defined in a lower portion of the basin. A contour bulge is aligned between two channels on each side of the basin. There is also provided an impeller, the impeller operatively coupled to the basin and an enclosure removably coupled to the basin. The enclosure includes an upper region and a lower region, and defines a plurality of orifices in the upper region and the lower region, with the enclosure configured to enclose the impeller and direct fluid flow through the plurality of channels towards a foot region of the basin defined between a wall of the basin and the lower region of the enclosure.



Inventors:
Patterson, James Robert (Milwaukee, WI, US)
Dang, Thai Hoang (Milwaukee, WI, US)
Fugate, Norman (Russellville, AR, US)
Qian, Yin (Buffalo Grove, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/011488
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
01/25/2008
Assignee:
European Touch Holdings, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/022
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAN, KO HUNG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pedicure spa, comprising: a fluid retaining basin including a plurality of channels defined in a lower portion of the basin, with at least one channel on one side of the basin and one channel on another side of the basin; a contour bulge defined by the lower portion of the basin, the contour bulge aligned between two channels on each side of the basin, the contour bulge configured to support an arch of a foot; an impeller operatively coupled to the basin; and an enclosure removably coupled to the basin, the enclosure including an upper region and a lower region, and defining a plurality of orifices in the upper region and the lower region, including an intermediate baffle positioned in the impeller housing and separating the upper region and the lower region, with the baffle defining an opening, wherein the upper region is in fluid communication with the lower region, with the enclosure configured to enclose the impeller and direct fluid flow through the plurality of channels towards a foot region of the basin defined between a wall of the basin and the lower region of the enclosure.

2. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the channels are open to the basin interior.

3. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the channels extend radially from a center portion of the lower portion of the basin, with each channel orientated at an angle other than 90° to an adjacent channel.

4. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the enclosure is a cylindrical impeller housing having a closed end proximate the upper region and an open end proximate the lower region.

5. The pedicure spa of claim 4, including a lock plate coupled to the basin, with the lock plate defining a tab on the lock plate circumference edge, and the enclosure defines a key slot proximate the open end and configured to engage the tab, wherein the enclosure is secured to the basin.

6. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the impeller and enclosure are configured to direct fluid flow from the basin into the upper region of the enclosure and from the lower region of the enclosure back into the basin.

7. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the orifices are one of circular holes and elongated slots.

8. The pedicure spa of claim 9, wherein the orifices are configured to produce a predetermined fluid pressure in the basin.

9. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the enclosure is composed of material from a group consisting of metal, plastic, and a combination of metal and plastic.

10. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the orifices are defined in a side wall of the enclosure.

11. The pedicure spa of claim 1, wherein the contour bulge includes a plurality of protuberances configured to contact a foot of a user of the pedicure spa.

12. The pedicure spa of claim 11, wherein the protuberances are coupled to the contour bulge with a fastener.

13. A fluid basin in a pedicure spa, comprising: a walled structure including a bottom portion; a drain defined in the bottom portion; a plurality of channels defined in the bottom portion; and a contour bulge defined by the bottom portion, with the contour bulge disposed adjacent to at least one channel.

14. The fluid basin of claim 13, including an impeller enclosure coupled to the bottom portion and in fluid communication with each of the channels.

15. The fluid basin of claim 14, including another contour bulge disposed a spaced distance from the other container bulge with the another contour bulge adjacent to another channel.

16. The fluid basin of claim 13, wherein the channels are open to the basin interior.

17. The fluid basin of claim 13, wherein the channels extend radially from a center portion of the lower portion of the basin, with each channel orientated at an angle other than 90° to an adjacent channel.

18. The pedicure spa of claim 13, wherein the contour bulge includes a plurality of protuberances configured to contact a foot of a user of the pedicure spa.

19. The pedicure spa of claim 18, wherein the protuberances are coupled to the contour bulge with a fastener.

20. A method supporting an arch of a user foot in a pedicure spa, comprising: providing a fluid retaining basin including a plurality of channels defined in a lower portion of the basin, with at least one channel on one side of the basin and one channel on another side of the basin; providing a contour bulge defined by the lower portion of the basin, the contour bulge aligned between two channels on each side of the basin; coupling operatively an impeller to the basin; and enclosing the impeller in an enclosure, the enclosure removably coupled to the basin, wherein the contour bulge is configured to support the arch of the user foot and align the foot with the channels.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the enclosure includes an upper region and a lower region, and defining a plurality of orifices in the upper region and the lower region, including an intermediate baffle positioned in the impeller housing and separating the upper region and the lower region, with the baffle defining an opening, wherein the upper region is in fluid communication with the lower region, with the enclosure configured to enclose the impeller and direct fluid flow through the plurality of channels towards a foot region of the basin defined between a wall of the basin and the lower region of the enclosure.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of prior Patent Application Number PCT/US2007/073442, filed Jul. 13, 2007 which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/831,071, filed Jul. 14, 2006 and this application is a continuation-in-part of prior Patent Application Number PCT/US2007/070736 filed Jun. 8, 2007 which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/451,674 filed Jun. 13, 2006, each of which is incorporated herein in its entirety. A related design patent application titled CONTOUR BULGES AND CHANNELS IN A BASIN, filed Jan. 25, 2008 (Atty. Docket No. 024376-0129) is incorporated herein in its entirety.

FIELD

The present invention relates generally to the field of spa devices. More specifically, the invention relates to a basin and enclosure for an impeller to provide a massaging effect in a pedicure spa.

BACKGROUND

It is generally known to provide for a spa device, such as pedicure spas, health spas, whirlpools, jet stream exercisers, foot spas, etc. Such known spa devices are typically used in commercial and recreational settings for hydrotherapy, massage, stimulation, pedicure, and bathing purposes. However, such spa devices have several disadvantages including being difficult to thoroughly clean, requiring complicated maintenance schedules.

Water quality can become a problem in systems that use circulating water that comes into contact with the human body where the spa is not thoroughly cleaned. Several actions have been taken in an attempt to overcome this difficulty, including the addition of chemicals (e.g., bleach) into the water to help control bacteria growth.

SUMMARY

There is provided a pedicure spa, including a fluid retaining basin including a plurality of channels defined in a lower portion of the basin, with at least one channel on one side of the basin and one channel on another side of the basin. A contour bulge is defined by the lower portion of the basin. The contour bulge is aligned between two channels on each side of the basin and is configured to support an arch of a foot. An impeller is operatively coupled to the basin. An enclosure is removably coupled to the basin. The enclosure includes an upper region and a lower region, and defines a plurality of orifices in the upper region and the lower region, including an intermediate baffle positioned in the impeller housing and separating the upper region and the lower region, with the baffle defining an opening, wherein the upper region is in fluid communication with the lower region, with the enclosure configured to enclose the impeller and direct fluid flow through the plurality of channels towards a foot region of the basin defined between a wall of the basin and the lower region of the enclosure.

There is further provided a fluid basin in a pedicure spa which comprises a walled structure including a bottom portion. A drain is defined in the bottom portion. A plurality of channels is defined in the bottom portion. A contour bulge is defined by the bottom portion, with the contour bulge disposed adjacent to at least one channel.

There is further provided a method supporting an arch of a user foot in a pedicure spa. The method includes providing a fluid retaining basin which includes a plurality of channels defined in a lower portion of the basin, with at least one channel on one side of the basin and one channel on another side of the basin. Providing a contour bulge defined by the lower portion of the basin. The contour bulge is aligned between two channels on each side of the basin. Coupling operatively an impeller to the basin and enclosing the impeller in an enclosure. The enclosure is removably coupled to the basin. The contour bulge is configured to support the arch of the user foot and align the foot with the channels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a spa including an enclosure (in broken lines) for an impeller according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the spa in FIG. 1 including an enclosure for an impeller according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a partial top plan view of the spa in FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the spa in FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-section of the spa in FIG. 1 taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 3 showing contour bulges including a plurality of protuberances and channels provided in the basin that direct streams of water towards the feet of a user.

FIG. 6A is a partial cross-section of the spa basin in FIG. 1 taken along the line 6A-6A in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6B is a partial cross-section of the spa basin in FIG. 1 taken along the line 6B-6B in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 is a partial cross-section of the spa in FIG. 1 taken along line 7-7 in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an enclosure for an impeller for a pedicure spa 10 is shown according to an exemplary embodiment. According to an exemplary embodiment, a spa 10 includes a fluid-retaining basin 12 that is configured for use in foot massages, pedicures and other activities related to the feet, including bathing, soaking, stimulating, etc. It should be understood that other spa uses, for example a full body spa or a bath tub can employ the impeller enclosure system.

Basin 12 includes upright walls 13 and is configured to retain fluid (e.g., water) for use with various cleaning and/or massage activities. A foot region 15 is defined between the walls 13 of the basin 12 and the enclosure 20. Basin 12 further includes a bottom or lower portion 16. Spa 10 also includes an impeller 14 operatively coupled to basin 12, and a motor 17 located external to basin 12 for rotating the impeller 14. An impeller coupling assembly secures the impeller 14 to the motor 17 while providing a water tight seal to prevent water from leaking from the basin 12. Impeller coupling assembly includes a keyed shaft 23 that is received within a keyed opening 52 of impeller 14.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-7, in one exemplary embodiment, enclosure 20 is configured to substantially enclose impeller 14 and separate impeller 14 from the interior of basin 12. Enclosure 20 includes a lock plate 22 and a cylindrical impeller housing 24. As explained further below, fluid is pulled into enclosure 20 by the action of impeller 14 and expelled from enclosure 20 wherein the massage effect is created.

Lock plate 22 is a generally flat member that is coupled between impeller housing 24 and basin 12. Lock plate 22 is an annular body with a central opening 30, a plurality of apertures 32 and an outer circumference edge 34. Lock plate 22 may also provide a sealing function and may be formed from any material that is suitable for substantially sealing the space between impeller housing 24 and basin 12 (e.g., silicone, polychloroprene rubber, etc). Central opening 30 receives a shaft from the motor 17. Apertures 32 may be provided circumferentially in lock plate 22 to receive a fastening member, for example a screw, used to couple lock plate 22 to basin 12. Outer circumference edge 34 includes one or more generally evenly spaced coupling features, shown as tabs 38 (e.g., protrusions, projections, extensions, flaps, etc.). Tabs 38 are configured to engage features in impeller housing 24 to couple lock plate 22 to impeller housing 24.

Impeller housing 24 is a generally thin-walled member with an inner diameter approximately equal the outer diameter of lock plate 22. Impeller housing 24 has an open end 40 and a closed end 42 opposite open end 40. Open end 40 has a plurality of L-shaped key slots 44 spaced approximately equal to the spacing of tabs 38 on lock plate 22. Impeller housing 24 is coupled to lock plate 22 by sliding impeller housing 24 over lock plate 22, fitting tabs 38 into the vertical portions of key slots 44. Impeller housing 24 is then rotated slightly, sliding tabs 38 into the horizontal portions of key slots 44, substantially trapping tabs 38 in key slots 44 and compressing lock plate 22 between impeller housing 24 and basin 12. The closed end 42 of the impeller housing 24 has a plurality of upper key slots 43 spaced approximately equal to the spacing of upper tabs 45 on the enclosure 20. The closed end 42 is coupled to the enclosure 20 by fitting upper tabs 45 into the upper key slots 43 and rotating slightly the closed end 42 substantially trapping the upper tabs 45 in the upper key slots 43.

Impeller housing 24 also includes one or more orifices 49 about the periphery of impeller housing 24 proximate open end 40. Orifices 49 are openings (e.g., apertures, holes, outlets etc.) that allow fluid to be expelled from the enclosure 20 by impeller 14. Impeller housing 24 also includes one or more arcuate slots 47 evenly spaced about the periphery of impeller housing 24 proximate closed end 42. Arcuate slots 47 are openings (e.g., apertures, holes, inlets etc.) that allow fluid to be drawn into enclosure 20 by impeller 14. Impeller housing 24 may be composed of various materials including plastic, metal, or some combination of plastic and metal.

Impeller 14 includes a multitude of blades 50 that extend outward from a central portion with a keyed opening 52 that engages keyed shaft 23 of upper impeller shaft. As impeller 14 rotates, blades 50 directs fluid out of orifices 49. A baffle disk 54 is coupled to the enclosure 20. Baffle disk 54 is an annular body with an outer edge and an inner edge where outer edge is higher than inner edge. The profile of baffle disk 54 between outer edge and inner edge may be generally linear or may be concave. The inner edge defines a central opening 60 through which a fluid may flow. According to one exemplary embodiment, baffle disk 54 is integrally formed with impeller 14. According to other exemplary embodiments, baffle disk 54 may be formed separately and mechanically coupled to the enclosure 20.

Enclosure 20 defines an upper region 27 and a lower region 29. Enclosure 20 directs fluid flow towards the foot region 15 which in one exemplary embodiment is defined between a wall 13 of basin 12 and lower region 29 of enclosure 20. Upper region 27 and lower region 29 of enclosure 20 are separated by baffle disk 54. The circular opening 60 in the baffle disk 54 provides fluid communication between upper region 27 and lower region 29 of enclosure 20 and provides a funneling effect of the fluid from upper region 27 to lower region 29. This provides enhanced flow from impeller 14 to orifices 49 in the impeller housing 24.

According to other exemplary embodiments, the fluid pressure may be raised or lowered by changing the shape or number of either orifices 49 or arcuate slots 47.

Orifices 49 are aligned with depressed regions or channels 62 and 66 (e.g., canals, slots, passages) provided in basin 12. In an exemplary embodiment (see FIG. 6B), channels 62 and 66 are open passages having a curved radius at an end portion, such that the fluid that exits orifices 49 is directed along the channel and then upward at the terminal end of the channel. According to an exemplary embodiment, orifices 49 are offset from the centerlines of the corresponding channels 62 and 66 by an angle of approximately 6 degrees, as shown in FIG. 2. The offset compensates for the force applied to the fluid exiting orifices 49 by impeller 14 that causes the stream to be angled slightly, urging the fluid flow into the channel. According to an exemplary embodiment, the spa 10 includes two front channels 62 and two rear channels 66. The front channels 62 are configured to direct fluid flow towards the ball of the user's feet. The rear channels 66 are configured to direct fluid flow towards the heels of the user's feet.

The open channels 62 and 66 provide an easy way to clean the surfaces of the channels 62 and 66. However, it is also possible for the fluid to be directed from orifices 49 to closed tubes in other configurations. Channels 62 and 66 extend below foot region 15 of the basin 12 such that a user places his or her feet in the foot region 15 above the channels 62 and 66. The fluid is then directed upwardly under a user feet providing a cleaning and massaging action.

A contour bulge 64 is disposed and aligned between the front channel 62 and the rear channel 66. The contour bulge is configured to contact and support the arch of a foot of a user of the pedicure spa 10. For example, a user would place one foot on one side of the enclosure 20 and one foot on the other side of the enclosure 20. The arch of each foot would contact the contour bulge 64 thereby positioning each foot to align with the front channel 62 and the rear channel 66 as explained above. The contour bulge 64 can be integrally molded in the lower portion 16 of the basin 12. In an exemplary embodiment, the contour bulge 64 can be a separate member and mechanically coupled to the lower portion 16 of the basin 12 with suitable fasteners or suitable adhesives.

The contour bulge 64 may be provided with a plurality of protuberances 65 coupled to a surface of the contour bulge 64. The protuberances 65 may be molded integrally with the contour bulge 64. Another embodiment provides the protuberances mechanically coupled to the contour bulge 64 with suitable fastener or suitable adhesives. The protuberance 65 may be of any size, shape and number. The figures illustrate an exemplary embodiment of a contour bulge 64 including six, round protuberances 65.

Impeller housing 24 includes an outwardly extending finger 70 that houses a magnet 72. Magnet 72 is held within finger 70 by a retaining plate 74. According to an exemplary embodiment, plate 74 is ultra-sonically welded to the underside of finger 70. Other methods of welding such as vibration weld, chemical weld, heat stake weld, or the like, can also be performed. According to other exemplary embodiments, plate 74 may be otherwise coupled to finger 70. When impeller housing 24 is coupled to lock plate 22, magnet 72 interfaces with a switch (not shown) coupled to the underside of basin 12 and allows motor 17 to operate and to turn impeller 14. If impeller housing 24 is removed, magnet 72 is moved away from the switch, disengaging the switch and preventing motor 17 from activating. In this way, magnet 72 provides an interlock measure that allows impeller 14 to turn only if impeller housing 24 is locked in place.

For purposes of this disclosure, the term “coupled” means the joining of two components (electrical or mechanical) directly or indirectly to one another. Such joining may be stationary in nature or movable in nature. Such joining may be achieved with the two components (electrical or mechanical) and any additional intermediate members being integrally defined as a single unitary body with one another or with the two components or the two components and any additional member being attached to one another. Such joining may be permanent in nature or alternatively may be removable or releasable in nature.

The present disclosure has been described with reference to example embodiments, however workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. For example, although different example embodiments may have been described as including one or more features providing one or more benefits, it is contemplated that the described features may be interchanged with one another or alternatively be combined with one another in the described example embodiments or in other alternative embodiments. Because the technology of the present disclosure is relatively complex, not all changes in the technology are foreseeable. The present disclosure described with reference to the example is manifestly intended to be as broad as possible. For example, unless specifically otherwise noted a single particular element may also encompass a plurality of such particular elements.

It is also important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of the system as shown in the preferred and other exemplary embodiments is illustrative only. Although only a certain number of embodiments have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, colors, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter recited. For example, the pitch of the blades of impeller 14 may be changed to change the direction of fluid flow from the bottom to top of the impeller housing. The pitch of the blades could also be configured to increase the pressure of the fluid flow if this is desired. Additionally, the blades of the impeller could be arranged such that the water flowed into the impeller housing through orifices 49 and exited through slots 47. It is also contemplated that slots 47 could be located on the lower region of impeller housing 20 and orifices 49 could be located on the upper region of impeller housing 20. Impeller as used herein covers both an impeller and propeller. Further, elements shown as integrally formed may be constructed of multiple parts or elements shown as multiple parts may be integrally formed, the operation of the assemblies may be reversed or otherwise varied, the length or width of the structures and/or members or connectors or other elements of the system may be varied, the nature or number of adjustment or attachment positions provided between the elements may be varied. It should be noted that the elements and/or assemblies of the system may be constructed from any of a wide variety of materials that provide sufficient strength or durability. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present disclosure. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present subject matter.