Title:
Ironing Appliance Comprising a Steam Generator Connected to an Iron and to a Travel Steamer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention concerns an ironing apparatus comprising a steam generator connected to an iron (2) by a first cord (20), characterized in that said steam generator is connected to a travel steamer (3) by a second cord (30) mounted on a reel (4).



Inventors:
Robin, Jean Philippe (Communay, FR)
Application Number:
11/997111
Publication Date:
09/04/2008
Filing Date:
07/10/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
68/214, 68/222, 38/75
International Classes:
D06F75/00; D06F75/02; D06F75/06; D06F75/12; D06F75/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
IZAGUIRRE, ISMAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Browdy and Neimark, PLLC (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. 1-11. (canceled)

12. Ironing appliance comprising: a steam generator; an iron; and a first cord connecting said iron to said steam generator; wherein said appliance further comprises: a steam brush; a reel; and a second cord mounted on said reel and connecting said steam generator to said steam brush.

13. Ironing appliance according to claim 12, further comprising a device for switching steam and electricity to selectively feed steam and electricity either to said iron or to said steam brush.

14. Ironing appliance according to claim 13, wherein said device for switching comprises a manual selector connected to allow a user to select either said iron or said steam brush for use.

15. Ironing appliance according to claim 14, wherein said appliance further comprises a holding clip for storing said steam brush.

16. Ironing appliance according to claim 15, wherein: said appliance further comprises a base into which said steam generator is integrated; said base supports said reel and carries said holding clip; and said reel has a cord outlet located close to said holding clip.

17. Ironing appliance according to claim 12, wherein said steam brush comprises a heating body having a steam chamber to vaporize any condensates that are present in said second cord and that are carried by steam flowing from the generator.

18. Ironing appliance according to claim 12, wherein said iron comprises a heating soleplate fitted with a steam chamber to vaporize any condensates that are present in said first cord and that are carried by steam flowing from the generator.

19. Ironing appliance according claim 18, wherein: said steam brush comprises a heating body having a steam chamber to vaporize any condensates that are present in said second cord and that are carried by steam flowing from the generator; said appliance further comprises a control module operative to prohibit the issuance of steam in the direction of said iron or said steam brush when the respective steam chamber is at a temperature insufficient to ensure the evaporation of condensate present in the respective cord.

20. Ironing appliance according to claim 19, wherein said control module is operative to allow the issuance of steam towards said steam brush only after a determined period of operation of said heating body, which time is a function of the cumulative operating time of said heating body from starting of said appliance and of the time elapsed since the end of a previous session of use of said steam brush.

21. Ironing appliance according to claim 20, wherein said control module is operative to allow the issuance of steam towards said iron only after a determined period of operation of the heating soleplate, which time is a function of the cumulative operating time of said heating soleplate from starting of said appliance and the time elapsed since the end of the previous session of use of said iron.

22. Ironing appliance according to claim 21, further comprising: a device for switching steam and electricity to selectively feed steam and electricity either to said iron or to said steam brush, device for switching comprising a manual selector connected to allow a user to select either said iron or said steam brush for use; a steam distribution valve operative for guiding steam towards said steam brush or said iron; and a control valve disposed upstream of said steam distribution valve, with respect to the direction of flow of steam from said steam generator, and wherein said control module comprises a microprocessor operative for controlling the operation of said control valve and for controlling the supply of power to said heating body and to said heating soleplate as a function of a signal emitted by said selector.

23. Ironing appliance according to claim 20, further comprising: a device for switching steam and electricity to selectively feed steam and electricity either to said iron or to said steam brush, device for switching comprising a manual selector connected to allow a user to select either said iron or said steam brush for use; a steam distribution valve operative for guiding steam towards said steam brush or said iron; and a control valve disposed upstream of said steam distribution valve, with respect to the direction of flow of steam from said steam generator, and wherein said control module comprises a microprocessor operative for controlling the operation of said control valve and for controlling the supply of power to said heating body and to said heating soleplate as a function of a signal emitted by said selector.

24. Ironing appliance according to claim 19, further comprising: a device for switching steam and electricity to selectively feed steam and electricity either to said iron or to said steam brush, device for switching comprising a manual selector connected to allow a user to select either said iron or said steam brush for use; a steam distribution valve operative for guiding steam towards said steam brush or said iron; and a control valve disposed upstream of said steam distribution valve, with respect to the direction of flow of steam from said steam generator, and wherein said control module comprises a microprocessor operative for controlling the operation of said control valve and for controlling the supply of power to said heating body and to said heating soleplate as a function of a signal emitted by said selector.

Description:

The present invention relates to an ironing appliance having a steam generator connected by a first cord to an iron and relates more particularly to an ironing appliance in which the steam generator is connected by a second cord to a steam brush.

There are known multi-use steam generators in which drawout, or pull-out, plugs including at the same time the supply of electricity and steam, permit connection of various accessories, such as a steam cleaning tool or a steam iron. Such appliances, present, however, the disadvantage of requiring numerous connection and disconnection operations whenever the user wishes to use a new accessory. In addition, the removable accessories used only occasionally are most often stored at the bottom of a closet and are therefore not readily available.

It is known, from the document FR 2 714 401 filed by the applicant, to overcome these disadvantages by providing an ironing appliance with a steam generator connected to an iron by a cord, the generator also having means to bypass steam, mounted on an orifice for filling the tank of the generator with water, which can be permanently connected to an accessory such as a steam brush.

However, such a solution has the disadvantage of producing a significant bulk and of complicating the storage of the appliance, mainly because of the space taken by the cord connected to the accessory. Additionally, when the user uses the iron, the cord connecting the accessory to the generator drags around the appliance with the risk that it will be snagged inadvertently, which can cause the appliance to fall and cause injury.

Thus, a goal of the present invention is to overcome these disadvantages by providing an ironing appliance having a steam generator permanently connected to an iron as well as a steam brush, each with a cord, in which the integration of the brush, the ergonomics and the safety in use are greatly improved.

To this end, the invention has for an object an ironing appliance with a steam generator connected to an iron by a first cord, characterized in that the steam generator is connected to a steam brush by a second cord mounted on a reel.

Such a feature allows having a steam brush permanently connected to the steam generator and therefore available without complex handling, while providing greater ease of storage. The placement of the reel on the cord of the steam brush thus encourages use of this accessory, which is usually seldom used by the user, by making its use very simple. The appliance thus obtained is also very safe in use thanks to the presence of the reel on the cord of the steam brush which prevents the cord from dragging when using the iron.

According to another feature of the ironing appliance according the invention, the appliance includes a switching device for steam and electricity permitting selective feeding of steam and electricity either to the iron or to the steam brush.

Such a feature has the advantage of limiting the power consumed by the appliance by preventing simultaneous operation of the iron and the steam brush.

According to another feature of the ironing appliance according the invention, the switching device includes a manual selector allowing the user to specify which accessory, among the iron and the steam brush, he wishes to use.

According to another feature of the ironing appliance according the invention, the appliance includes a holding clip for storing the steam brush.

Such a feature allows easy storage of the steam brush while maintaining a compact appliance.

According to yet another feature of the invention, the steam generator is integrated into a base supporting the reel, and the holding clip is carried by the base near the cord outlet of the reel.

Such a feature allows a further limiting of the length of cord outside of the reel and thus of the risk of the cord becoming snagged.

According to another feature of the invention, the steam brush includes a heating body equipped with a steam chamber allowing vaporization of possible condensates present in the cord for supplying the steam brush which are carried by the flow of steam from the generator.

According to another feature of the invention, the iron has a heating soleplate equipped with a steam chamber allowing vaporization of possible condensates present in the cord for supplying the iron which are carried by the flow of steam from the generator.

According to yet another feature of the invention, the appliance includes a control module that prohibits the emission of steam to the iron or to the steam brush when the steam chamber of the latter is at a temperature insufficient to ensure evaporation of condensates present in the cord.

According to another feature of the invention, the control module allows the emission of steam to the steam brush only after a predetermined operating delay period of the heating body that varies as a function of the cumulative operating time of the heating body from the starting of the appliance and the length of time from the end of the previous session of use of the steam brush.

According to another feature of the invention, the control module allows the emission of steam to the iron only after a predetermined operating delay period of the heating soleplate that varies as a function of the cumulative operating time of the heating soleplate from the starting of the appliance and the length of time from the end of the previous session of use of the iron.

According to another feature of the invention, the control module includes a microprocessor that directs the opening of a control valve disposed upstream of a steam distribution valve allowing steam to be directed towards the steam brush or the iron, the microprocessor controlling the supply of electric power to the heating body of the steam brush and to the heating soleplate of the iron as a function of the signal emitted by the selector.

The goals, aspects and advantages of the present invention will be better understood from the description given below of a particular embodiment of the invention, presented as a non-limiting example, referring to the annexed drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an iron according to a particular embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded perspective view of the iron of the appliance of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a partially exploded perspective view of the appliance of FIG. 1, the reel cord of the steam brush being removed from the base of the appliance;

FIG. 4 is a partially exploded perspective view of the steam brush of the appliance of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 5a and 5b are perspective views of the steam generator of FIG. 1 when using, respectively, the iron and the steam brush;

FIGS. 6a and 6b are perspective views of the switching device during supply of steam to, respectively, the steam brush and the iron;

FIGS. 7a and 7b are longitudinal cross-sectional views of the supply valve of FIGS. 6a and 6b, respectively;

FIG. 8 represents the operating algorithm of the control module of the steam generator of the appliance.

Only the elements necessary for an understanding of the invention have been shown. To facilitate reading of the drawings, the same elements have the same references from one figure to another.

FIG. 1 shows an ironing appliance comprising a steam generator constituted conventionally by a tank for the production of steam under pressure, not shown in the drawings, integrated into a portable base 1, the tank being supplied with water from a reservoir 10 removably disposed on the rear of base 1.

Base 1 is advantageously electrically powered by a cable 12 mounted on a reel disposed behind the front face of base 1, cable 12 opening into a cavity 13 of the front face of base 1 and winding up automatically when the user presses a button 14 disposed close to the cavity. A switch 15 is also provided on the front face of base 1 to control starting or stopping of the appliance.

Generator base 1 is permanently connected to an iron 2 by a first connecting cord 20 advantageously having a length of the order of 1.8 m and has an inclined plane 11 for setting iron 2 down.

According to FIG. 2, the iron is fitted with a heating soleplate 21 includes a chamber 22 for vaporizing and superheating of steam disposed upstream of steam outlet holes in the soleplate, permitting vaporization of possible condensates in connecting cord 20. In a manner known per se, connecting cord 20 incorporates a conduit for supplying iron 2 with steam under pressure coming from the tank of the generator as well as an electrical cable to power the electric heating resistance of heating soleplate 21 of the iron. Iron 2 also includes a trigger 23 permitting control of the delivery of steam through steam outlet holes of heating soleplate 21.

More particularly according to the invention, the steam generator of base 1 is also permanently connected to a steam brush 3 by a second cord 30 having advantageously a length of the order of 1.6 m, cord 30 incorporating a conduit permitting supplying steam brush 3 with steam under pressure coming from the generator and incorporating an electric cable permitting the electrical supply to steam brush 3.

In accordance with FIG. 3, second cord 30 is mounted on a cord reel 4 installed in a cavity provided for this purpose under base 1, behind the reel for electric cable 12. This cord reel 4 comprises return means for allowing automatic winding of cord 30 within a drum when the user presses a button 41 arranged laterally to the reel. This cord reel 4 is identical to that described in the patent application FR 05 03125 filed by the applicant and will thus not be described in further detail in this patent application.

In an advantageous manner, base 1 has, on one of its sides, a holding clip 16 into which the body of steam brush 3 can be inserted, such an arrangement permitting having a steam brush 3 that remains very accessible once stored while maintaining a compact appliance.

Holding clip 16 is preferentially arranged on the side of base 1 where cord 30 exits from reel 4, so that the length of cord 30 remaining outside reel 4 when steam brush 3 is stored in clip 16 is very limited, of the order of 20 cm, this feature permitting the risks of snagging cord 30 to be reduced.

In order to allow the evaporation of potential condensates present in cord 30, steam brush 3, shown in greater detail in FIG. 4, contains a heating body 31 having a chamber 32 for vaporizing and superheating of steam closed by a lid 31′, this steam chamber 32 being heated by an electrical resistance disposed under heating body 31 and supplied with power by the electric cable integrated into connecting cord 30. Steam chamber 32 leads to steam outlet holes 32′, visible only in FIG. 5b, permitting the attainment of powerful jets of steam for vertical smoothing of linen. Steam brush 3 is equipped with a trigger 33 controlling the delivery of steam towards steam brush 3.

Preferably, the front face of base 1 of the generator is equipped with a rotary selector 17 that the user can move between a first position, shown in FIG. 5a, corresponding to the use of iron 2, and a second position, shown in FIG. 5b, corresponding to the use of steam brush 3.

In accordance with FIGS. 6a and 6b, selector 17 is connected by a rod 5 to a switching device for switching steam and electricity comprising a steam distribution valve 6 with a steam inlet 60 connected upstream to a control valve 7 disposed at the outlet of the tank of the generator and two steam outlets 61, 62 connected respectively to the conduits of cords 20, 30 supplying iron 2 and steam brush 3.

Valve 6 comprises a sleeve 63 driven in rotation by rod 5 and connected to the body of valve 6 by a screw-type connection, the outer surface of the valve body having a helical rib 64 engaging in a helical groove formed inside sleeve 63, so that the rotation of sleeve 63 is accompanied by a translation movement of the latter.

The switching device also includes two switches 66a, 66b actuated by bosses 65a, 65b arranged on the outer surface of sleeve 63, bosses 65a, 65b being arranged so that the first switch 66a is operated only when the selector 17 is in the position for use of iron 2 shown in FIG. 6a while the second switch 66b is operated only when the selector 17 is in the position to use the steam brush 3 shown in FIG. 6b.

These two switches 66a, 66b are connected to a control module 100, shown schematically in these FIGS. 6a and 6b, including a microprocessor, which determines from the actuating state of switches 66a, 66b, the position of valve 6 and therefore of selector 17.

According to FIG. 7a, which represents a cross sectional view of valve 6 when selector 17 is in the position for use of iron 2, the inlet opening 60 of the valve opens into a cylindrical steam distribution chamber 67 that is prolonged at each of its ends by a bore 68a, 68b of smaller diameter, the first bore 68a being in communication with the outlet opening 61, connected to connecting cord 20 for the iron, and second bore 68b being in communication with the outlet opening 62, connected to cord 30 of steam brush 3.

Sleeve 63 is fixed to a sliding piston 69 having a first lip seal 69a, which is in distribution chamber 67 when sleeve 63 is in the position to use iron 2, so that steam can pass by the periphery of seal 69a and escape to the iron, and a second joint 69b which is then introduced into the interior of second bore 68b to prevent the passage of steam towards steam brush 3. Piston 69 is also equipped with a third joint 69c disposed in first bore 68a downstream from the outlet opening to prevent the leakage of steam through the orifice of the body traversed by the axis of piston 69.

In accordance with FIG. 7b, when selector 17 is rotated into the position corresponding to the use of steam brush 3, sleeve 63 turns while being retracted into the body of valve 6, thus provoking displacement of piston 69 and driving in of first joint 69a through first bore 68a so that the steam can no longer move in the direction of iron 2. Conversely, second joint 69b is then moved into distribution chamber 67 of larger diameter so that the steam can pass by the periphery of second joint 69b and escape through opening 62 to steam brush 3.

In an advantageous manner, control module 100 controls valve 7 disposed in the outlet of the tank of the generator to prevent the supply of steam for iron 2 or steam brush 3 during a certain period of time that is a function of the time duration during which the selected accessory, namely iron 2 or steam brush 3, has not been supplied with electricity. Such security allows to avoid all projection of condensate by ensuring that steam chamber 22 of the iron or steam chamber 32 of the steam brush is at a temperature sufficient to allow the evaporation of any condensate present in the cords 20, 30.

For example, the microprocessor in control module 100 can control the authorization of the opening of valve 7 of the tank of the generator according to the algorithm shown in FIG. 8.

In conformance with this figure, control module 100 detects as a first step E1 which accessory is selected by the user between iron 2 and steam brush 3. This determination of the selected accessory is performed simply from the information provided by switches 66a, 66b.

Control module 100 then measures in a second step E2, the time that has elapsed since the end of the last session of use of the selected accessory 2, 3. By session of use of this accessory, is meant a session where the ironing appliance is turned on and selector 17 is in the position corresponding to the accessory.

In a third step E3, control module 100 verifies that the cumulative preheating time Tcs-i during the previous sessions of use of the accessory was sufficient to allow preheating of the accessory for a total time of 120 seconds.

If the cumulative preheating time Tcs-i in previous sessions is less than 120 seconds, then the control module 100 completes preheating of the accessory in a step E3′ during which the accessory is heated for a time Tc corresponding to the missing preheating time to reach the total of 120 seconds of preheating. During this period of preheating Tc, a diode 18 flashes, or blinks, on the front face of base 1 to indicate to the user that the selected accessory is in the heating period. After this complementary preheating period, control module 100 enters step E4.

Conversely, if the preheating time of 120 seconds has already been achieved during previous utilization sessions of this accessory, then control module 100 passes directly to step E4 in which it compares the time Tm elapsed since the previous session of the accessory with a threshold, which is set at 5 minutes in the example shown.

If the time Tm is less than 5 minutes, the control module allows for the immediate opening of the control valve in a step E5 after receiving the control signal from trigger 23, 33 of accessory 2, 3.

However, if the cumulative amount of time Tm exceeds 5 minutes, then the control module passes to a step E4′ of supplemental heating of the accessory to compensate for cooling of the accessory due to thermal losses during the period of non-use of the accessory.

During this step E4′ the accessory is heated for a supplementary time Ts, which is equal to the number of minutes Tm beyond the threshold of 5 minutes multiplied by a coefficient KA corresponding to the number of seconds of additional heating to be applied for each minute of shutdown of the accessory beyond the threshold of 5 minutes.

However, if the time Ts obtained by this calculation is greater than 120 seconds, then the additional heating time will be limited to Ts=120 s corresponding to the time of initial preheating necessary when the accessory is cold. During the heating period, diode 18 present on the front face of the base 1 flashes to indicate to the user that the selected accessory is in a heating period. After this additional heating period, control module 100 enters step E5 where it allows the opening of control valve 7 under control of trigger 23, 33 of the accessory.

Of course, the coefficient KA depends on the thermal mass and the heating power of the selected accessory. For example, the coefficient KA will have a value KA=1 s/min for steam brush 3 and KA=1.25 s/min for iron 2.

Thus, if the selected accessory is steam brush 3 and the time period Tm that has elapsed since the previous session of use of steam brush 3 is 9 minutes, then the extra preheating time Ts will be 4 seconds before control module 100 allows the delivery of steam through cord 30.

The ironing appliance thus produced has the advantage of greater ease of use of the accessories constituted by the iron and the steam brush, the latter being constantly connected to the base of the generator and therefore being able to be used without complex handling. When the user wishes to use the steam brush, it is sufficient for him to simply turn the selector 17 to the steam brush position and get hold of steam brush 3 by pulling on cord 30 so as to extract a length of cord 30 from reel 4. Once the operation of smoothing has been carried out, the user puts steam brush 3 away in holding clip 16 then press button 41 so that cord 30 winds itself automatically in reel 4.

The presence of a reel on the cord of the iron allows thus to greatly improve the safety and ergonomics of the appliance by ensuring that the cord is not dragged around and snagged during the ironing session or during transport of the appliance.

Finally, the module for control of the emission of steam has the advantage of greatly improving the safe use of the appliance by significantly reducing the risk of burns to users by projection of condensate through steam outlet holes of the soleplate of the iron or the steam brush. In effect, the module for control of the generator prevents sending steam through the newly selected accessory when the steam chamber of this accessory has not had the time to reach a temperature sufficient to ensure the evaporation of condensates present in the connecting cord. Thus, if the user presses the trigger of the selected accessory, the control module will cancel the command for opening the control valve until the end of the additional heating period calculated by the control module and the LED will flash on the base to alert the user that a waiting time is required.

On the other hand, if the accessory has been used recently, since less than 5 minutes ago in the example described above, then the control module immediately opens the control valve to send steam when the trigger is pressed.

Of course, the invention is by no means limited to the embodiment described and illustrated that has been given as an example only. Changes are still possible, especially from the point of view of the formation of various elements or by substitution of technical equivalents, without leaving for that matter the field of protection of the invention.