Title:
Ice machine with removable liner
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is an ice machine. The machine has i) a cabinet, ii) an icemaker, iii) a bin, and iv) a liner. The icemaker is adapted to making ice and is situated in the cabinet. The bin has an interior therein. The liner is situated at least partly in the interior of the bin and at least generally conforms to the shape thereof. The liner is adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker. The liner is removable from the bin. The liner defines an opening such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand.



Inventors:
Sowa, Casimer S. (Racine, WI, US)
Andresen, Michael J. (Lake Villa, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/148855
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
04/23/2008
Assignee:
SCOTSMAN ICE SYSEMS, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/459, 62/498
International Classes:
F25C5/18; F25B1/00; F25D23/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JULES, FRANTZ F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul D. Greeley (Stamford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An ice machine, comprising: i) a cabinet; ii) an icemaker adapted to making ice, wherein the icemaker is situated in the cabinet; iii) a bin having an interior therein; and iv) a liner situated at least partly in the interior of the bin and at least generally conforming to the shape thereof, the liner being removable from the bin the liner being adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker, the liner defining an opening such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand.

2. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the liner has a bottom surface and the bin has a bottom surface, the liner being situated within the bin such that the bottom surface of the liner and the bottom surface of the bin define a cavity therebetween.

3. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the icemaker includes a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator.

4. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the bin is at least partially insulated.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO A RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/007,735, filed Dec. 13, 2007 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/925,999, filed Apr. 24, 2007, both of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an ice machine in which the entire contents of the ice can be removed at one time.

2. Description of the Related Art

Ice machines have been employed in commercial and restaurant applications to make clear, aesthetically attractive ice cubes that are substantially pure and free of aftertaste associated with mineral impurities normally found in water. After ice cubes are formed in the icemaker, the cubes typically drop into a stationary storage bin for storage and dispensing. The cubes are usually removed from the storage bin by hand either directly or indirectly with a scoop or other implement.

For convenience sake, it would be desirable to have an ice machine in which the entire contents of the ice can be removed at one time.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided an ice machine. The machine has i) a cabinet, ii) an icemaker, iii) a bin, and iv) a liner. The icemaker is adapted to making ice and is situated in the cabinet. The bin has an interior therein. The liner is situated at least partly in the interior of the bin and at least generally conforms to the shape thereof. The liner is adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker. The liner can be removed from the ice maker facilitating removal of the entire contents of the bin. The liner defines an opening such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a side view of an embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention with a door in open position and in which a liner is shown apart from a bin in which it is to be situated.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the ice machine of FIG. 1 with the liner situated in the bin.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the ice machine of FIG. 1 without the door.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention with a door in open position and in which a liner is shown apart from a bin in which it is to be situated.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The ice machine preferably takes the general shape or form of an upright cabinet. The cabinet may be configured to stand alone or be built in to a kitchen or service area. Although the icemaker may be situated anywhere in the ice machine, it is preferably situated in the top or upper portion thereof so that ice may fall into the storage bin via gravity.

The storage bin is adapted to receive and retain ice produced in the ice maker. The bin is preferably substantially non-refrigerated and is preferably in the nature of a drawer that can be pulled at least partially out of the cabinet. It is preferred that the bin be capable of being pulled only partly out of the cabinet so that ice will not inadvertently be deposited behind the bin when the bin is pulled out.

The bin is adapted to receive a removable liner therein. The presence of a liner facilitates easy removal and transport of the entire contents (ice) of the bin. The bin has an interior therein in which the liner is at least partly situated. The liner and the bin are preferably of the same general shape. The liner has an opening in or is open at its top thereof so that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by a scoop or other implement. Preferably, the bin is entirely open at the top thereof to ensure easy access.

The liner and the bin are preferably positioned or situated with respect to each other as to define a cavity therebetween. Preferably, the cavity will extend along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the liner. If desired, the cavity may also optionally further extend up from the underside of the liner to extend along the sides of the liner toward the top of the liner and the top of the bin.

The cavity between the liner and the bin functions to temporarily collect melt water from ice inside the liner and to ensure that moisture is not trapped between the liner and the bin. The cavity may be formed by any conventional means known in the art, such as the placement of one or more elevated spacers between the liner and the bin or design of the contact surfaces of the liner and the bin such that the liner is suspended inside of and above the bin. In a preferred design, the liner has two or more outwardly protruding flanges or overhangs that are adapted to be draped over upwardly disposed sides of the bin.

The cabinet has a door that secures entry therein. The door may be of a drop-down type or an outwardly opening or side-by-side type. A drop-down door is pivotally connected to cabinet at the bottom. A side-by-side door is pivotally connected to the cabinet vertically along the left or right face thereof. If the door is of the drop-down type, the bin may optionally be coupled with, i.e., connected to, the door such that the bin is pulled out of the cabinet when the door is opened and pushed into the cabinet when the door is closed.

The storage bin and liner each may optionally have drains therein to permit melt water to drain out. The drains typically take the form of one or more orifices or holes in the bottom of each. Drainage may be unassisted, i.e., dependent on gravity, or be assisted by a pump. Hoses, pipe, or other conduit may be connected to the orifices to assist in removal of melt water. Preferred ice machines employ a pump, which typically is activated periodically for a few seconds.

The refrigeration means (icemaker) in the ice machine is of the conventional type employed in commercial and restaurant ice machines. A conventional icemaker typically has a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, and a refrigerant. The conventional icemaker has two distinct cycles: freeze and harvest. Ice is formed during the freeze cycle. Ice is released from the icemaker during the harvest cycle.

During the freeze cycle, the compressor pumps refrigerant to the evaporator, wherein expansion of the refrigerant absorbs heat from the surroundings, creating a refrigerated surface(s). Water is sprayed onto the refrigerated surface(s) to form ice. The refrigerated surface(s) optionally takes the form of a plurality of cube-shaped molds in which ice cubes are formed. The water spraying process forms ice with substantially reduced mineral/impurity content as water with reduced mineral/impurity content is selectively frozen while water carrying minerals/impurities falls away without freezing. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the refrigerated surface(s) and is warmed. The compressor pumps the warmed refrigerant to the condenser where the refrigerant is cooled. The cooled refrigerant is then recycled to the evaporator to effect additional cooling. After sufficient ice has formed on the refrigerated surface(s), the freeze cycle stops and the harvest cycle begins.

During the harvest cycle, the refrigerated surface(s) are warmed via circulation of hot gases or liquids. A thin layer at the surface of the ice melts and the ice falls from the refrigerated surface(s) into the storage bin. The bin it usually insulated to reduce heat infiltration therein but is substantially non-refrigerated. The bin is substantially non-refrigerated to prevent pieces, e.g., cubes, of ice from freezing together or clumping. The temperature in the bin is normally cool but above the freezing temperature of water. The cool temperature is maintained by absorption of heat by melting ice.

A preferred ice machine has sensors that automatically turn off the icemaker when ice accumulation reaches a predetermined level in the storage bin. The sensor may be any known in the art, such as a thermostat or an ultrasonic device. An ultrasonic device is preferred.

An embodiment of the ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 and represented by the numeral 10. Ice machine 10 has a cabinet 12, a door 14, a storage bin 16, an icemaker 18, and a liner 20. Icemaker 18 (location shown only) is adapted to making ice (not shown). Liner 20 is adapted to be situated in bin 16 and is also adapted to receive and retain ice from icemaker 18. Icemaker 18 is situated in cabinet 12 preferably in the upper portion thereof over bin 16. Bin 16 is substantially non-refrigerated and is in the nature or general configuration of a drawer and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of cabinet 12. Liner 20 is open at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by scoop or other implement. Liner 20 can also be removed at will from bin 16 to permit removal of the entire contents (ice) of liner 20, if desired. Liner 20 is positioned within bin 16 so that a cavity (not shown) is defined along the underside of liner 20 between liner 20 and bin 16. Liner 20 has upwardly protruding matching handles 22 and 24 to facilitate handling. Liner 20 has flanges 26, 28, 30, and 32 that protrude outward from two or more top edges of liner 20 such that they overhang or drape over two or more top edges of liner 20 when liner 20 is inserted into bin 16.

An embodiment of the ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIG. 4 and represented by the numeral 40. Ice machine 40 has a cabinet 42, a door 44, a storage bin 46, an icemaker 48, and a liner 50. Icemaker 48 is adapted to making ice (not shown). Liner 50 is adapted to be situated in bin 46 and is also adapted to receive and retain ice from icemaker 48. Icemaker 48 is situated in cabinet 42 preferably in the upper portion thereof over bin 46. Bin 46 is substantially non-refrigerated and is in the nature or general configuration of a drawer and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of cabinet 42. Liner 50 is open at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by scoop or other implement. Liner 50 can also be removed at will from bin 46 to permit removal of the entire contents (ice) of liner 50, if desired. Liner 50 is positioned within bin 46 so that a cavity (not shown) is defined along the underside of liner 50 between liner 50 and bin 46. Liner 50 has upwardly protruding matching handles 22 and 24 to facilitate handling. Liner 50 has matching handles 54 and 56 (the latter not shown) that are received by handle receivers 58 and 60 (the latter not shown) when liner 50 is in resting position within bin 46. Liner 50 also has a continuous, running edge 52 that protrude outward from the top edges of liner 50 such that they overhang or drape over the top edges of bin 46 when liner 50 is in resting position within bin 46. Bin 46 is in gliding attachment with cabinet 42 at its sides along glides 62 and 64 (latter not shown) such that bin 46 can be drawn in and out of cabinet 42. Alternately, glides can be attached along the bottom of bin 46 (not shown) in addition to or instead of attachment along the sides of bin 46.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the present invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances that fall within the scope of the appended claims.