Title:
TUBE BARRIER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations is provided. The powered unit includes a blower tube, a barrier for preventing unintentional contact with moving parts in the powered unit, and a retention feature. The retention feature is located within the blower tube and the retention feature is configured for securing the barrier within the blower tube. The retention feature is included of an annular groove in the blower tube. The barrier is secured in the blower tube by a snap engagement with the retention feature. The barrier can also be deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube. The barrier then returns to its non-deformed shape when the barrier is secured in the retention feature in the blower tube.



Inventors:
Osterchill, Jeffery L. (Texarkana, AR, US)
Coffey, John R. (Texarkana, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/745664
Publication Date:
11/13/2008
Filing Date:
05/08/2007
Assignee:
HUSQVARNA OUTDOOR PRODUCTS INC. (Augusta, GA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/505
International Classes:
A47L9/08; B21D39/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MULLER, BRYAN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Burr Forman McNair (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations including: a blower tube; a barrier; a retention feature located within the blower tube configured for securing the barrier within the blower tube; the retention feature is included in an annular groove in the blower tube; and the barrier is secured in the blower tube by a snap engagement with the retention feature.

2. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the retention feature has an exterior appearance of a cosmetic annular protrusion.

3. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the barrier is difficult to remove.

4. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the barrier includes a unitary body of a circular shape that includes an outer ring of material and at least one spar that protrudes from the outer ring of material to a central hub located at a center of the barrier.

5. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the barrier includes a unitary body of a circular shape that includes an outer ring of material and at least one spar that protrudes from a point on the outer ring of material.

6. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the annular groove in the blower tube has a diameter that is relatively larger than the inner diameter of the blower tube.

7. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 1, wherein the barrier is deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube and the barrier returns to its non-deformed shape when the barrier is secured in the retention feature in the blower tube.

8. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations including: a blower tube; a barrier; a retention feature located within the blower tube is configured for securing the barrier within the blower tube; and the barrier is secured in the blower tube by a snap engagement with the retention feature and the barrier is deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube and the barrier returns to its non-deformed shape when the barrier is secured in the retention feature in the blower tube.

9. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 8, wherein the retention feature has an exterior appearance of a cosmetic annular protrusion.

10. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 8, wherein the barrier is difficult to remove.

11. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 8, wherein the barrier includes a unitary body of a circular shape that includes an outer ring of material and at least one spar that protrudes from the outer ring of material to a central hub located at a center of the barrier.

12. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 8, wherein the barrier includes a unitary body of a circular shape that includes an outer ring of material and at least one spar that protrudes from a point on the outer ring of material.

13. A powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 8, wherein the retention feature includes a channel formed from at least one first ramp section and at least one second ramp section.

14. A method of assembling a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations including the steps of: pushing a barrier into the interior of a blower tube; wherein the barrier is deformed as it enters the interior of the blower tube and is pushed into the blower tube; and securing the barrier within the blower tube in a secured position by allowing the barrier to return to its non-deformed shape as the barrier snaps into engagement with a retention feature located in the interior of the blower tube.

15. A method of assembling a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 14, wherein a fixture is used to push the barrier into the secured position for the barrier to engage the retention feature.

16. A method of assembling a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations according to claim 15, wherein a second fixture is used while pushing the barrier to force the barrier to engage the retention feature.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a powered unit for blowing or vacuuming operations, and more particularly, to a barrier that is placed in a tube portion of the powered unit to help block contact of an exterior object with the moving parts in the powered unit.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Current European safety standards require a protective barrier to prevent unintentional contact with moving parts in a handheld blower. A protective barrier should be easily installed on units that must meet these safety standards, but the installation features should be unobtrusive on units that do not require the barrier. It is desirable to have a barrier that is easily installed, but difficult to remove. The barrier should also have minimal impact on airflow through the blower.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The following presents a simplified summary of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of some example aspects of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. Moreover, this summary is not intended to identify critical elements of the invention nor delineate the scope of the invention. The sole purpose of the summary is to present some concepts of the invention in simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations is provided. The powered unit includes a blower tube, a barrier, and a retention feature. The retention feature is located within the blower tube and the retention feature is configured for securing the barrier within the blower tube. The retention feature includes an annular groove in the blower tube. The barrier is secured in the blower tube by a snap engagement with the retention feature.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations is provided. The powered unit includes a blower tube, a barrier, and a retention feature. The retention feature is located within the blower tube and the retention feature is configured for securing the barrier within the blower tube. The barrier is secured in the blower tube by a snap engagement with the retention feature and the barrier is deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube. The barrier then returns to its non-deformed shape when the barrier is secured in the retention feature in the blower tube.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a method of assembling a powered unit for performing blower operations or vacuuming operations is provided. The barrier is pushed into the interior of a blower tube. The barrier is deformed as it enters the interior of the blower tube and is pushed further into the blower tube. The barrier is secured within the blower tube in a secured position by allowing the barrier to return to its non-deformed shape as the barrier snaps into engagement with a retention feature located in the interior of the blower tube.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the present invention relates upon reading the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view showing generalized structure of an example vacuum/blower that incorporates the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an example barrier and an example tube fragment that provide one example embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the barrier and the tube of FIG. 2, with the barrier inserted into the tube;

FIG. 4 is a sectioned, perspective view of the barrier and the tube of FIG. 2, with the barrier inserted into the tube;

FIG. 5 is a sectioned, perspective view of the barrier inserted into the tube, with the barrier inserted into the tube;

FIG. 6 is a side view of an example barrier and the tube with the barrier in a deformed state and in the process of being inserted into the tube by an insertion arrangement;

FIG. 7 is a side view of an example barrier and the tube with the barrier in a secured position in a blower tube; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another example tube fragment.

DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENT

An example embodiment that incorporates one or more aspects of the present invention is described and illustrated in the drawings. The illustrated example is not intended to be a limitation on the present invention. For example, one or more aspects of the present invention can be utilized in other embodiments and even other types of devices. Moreover, certain terminology is used herein for convenience only and is not to be taken as a limitation on the present invention. Still further, in the drawings, the same reference numerals are employed for designating the same elements.

Turning to the shown example of FIG. 1, it is to be appreciated that a powered unit 10 is provided that performs blowing or vacuuming operations. Many different embodiments and configurations are contemplated by the subject invention. A handle 11 is provided, though it is appreciated that many types of handle configurations are possible. FIG. 1 represents only one example type of a powered blower/vacuum unit 10. The powered unit 10 includes a tube 12. The tube 12 provides the means for air to be vacuumed toward or blown from an air generating portion of the powered unit 10 along the tube. The tube 12 can have various dimensions, be made of a variety of materials, and have different structural features. In the shown example, the tube 12 is a blower tube. The example blower tube 12 has a circular cross-sectional shape as shown in FIGS. 2-5, though other cross-sectional shapes may be used.

An example barrier 16 is shown in FIG. 2. The barrier 16 is provided to prevent unintentional contact by a user with the moving parts in the handheld powered unit 10. This example barrier 16 includes a unitary body with a circular shape. Other shapes may be used. Shapes can also be selected to correspond to the shape of the blower tube 12.

The example barrier 16 includes an outer ring 50 of material and at least one spar 52 that protrudes from a point on the outer ring 50 to a central hub 54 located at the center of the barrier 16. In other examples, a plurality of spars 52 can be provided but the spars 52 do not intersect. Also in other examples, the spars 52 can have one end on a point on the perimeter of the outer ring 50 and the spars 52 can protrude to any other location, such as another point on the barrier 16, another point within the barrier, or a spar 52 that protrudes away from the outer ring 50 in various orientations. In additional examples, some of the spars 52 may extend only a partial distance (e.g., extending only a partial distance between the perimeter and the central hub). The spars 52 can also include straight and/or curved shapes.

FIG. 2 also shows a retention feature 18 located within the blower tube 12. The retention feature 18 is configured for securing the barrier 16 within the blower tube 12. In this example, the retention feature 18 includes an annular groove 20 in the blower tube 12. The annular groove 20 allows the barrier 16 to be placed in a secured position 30, as seen in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, regardless of the orientation of the barrier 16 as it is inserted into the blower tube 12. In the example shown, the annular groove 20 in the blower tube 12 has a diameter that is relatively larger than the inner diameter of the blower tube 12. If the blower tube 12 includes a non-circular shape, the dimension of the annular groove 20 can still have a relatively larger dimension than the dimension of the blower tube 12. In this embodiment, the barrier 16 can be secured in the blower tube 12 by the barrier 16 snapping into engagement with the annular groove 20. The barrier 16 engages the annular groove 20 because the barrier 16 has an axial length (as measured along the major axis of the tube) 12 that is relatively smaller than the axial length 26 of the annular groove 20 (See FIGS. 6-7). The retention feature 18 has an exterior appearance of a cosmetic annular protrusion 22, as also seen in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3. The cosmetic protrusion 22 can appear to be part of the blower tube 12 construction. Without a user viewing the interior 14 of the blower tube 12, the user would not appreciate that the cosmetic protrusion 22 has a functional purpose.

In another example, shown in FIG. 8, the blower tube 12 includes a retention feature 18 that includes a channel 64. The channel 64 is formed from at least one first ramp section 60 and at least one second ramp section 62. The spacing between each first ramp section 60 and each second ramp section 62 forms the channel 64 that is configured for securing the barrier 16. The channel 64 can have a channel width 66 that is relatively the same or slightly larger than the thickness 24 of the barrier 16. The first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 can include sloped segments of various shapes and sizes so as to deform a barrier 16 as it is placed into engagement with the retention feature 18. It is also appreciated that only one of the first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 needs to have a sloped segment and that the other portion does not need to include a sloped segment to form the retention feature 18. For example, a first ramp section 60 can be provided with a second ramp section 62 where the second ramp section 62 does not have any sloped segments. In this example, the second ramp section 62 protrudes from the tube 12 and a channel 64 is formed between the first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 to retain the barrier 16. In any of the examples, multiple sets of first ramp sections 60 and second ramp sections 62 can be used to form the channel 64. The sets of first ramp sections 60 and second ramp sections 62 can be evenly spaced around the tube 12 or can be located at various points around the tube 12. In another example, there can be only one first ramp section 60 and only one second ramp section 62 where each ramp section 60, 62 is formed across the entire surface of the blower tube 12. In each example, each ramp section 60, 62 can have a ramp length and ramp width of various dimensions. The first ramp section 60 can also have a different ramp length and ramp width than the second ramp section 62. In the example shown, a barrier 16 can be placed in the interior 14 of the tube 12. The barrier 16 then slides over the second ramp section 62 and the barrier 16 then expands to its original shape upon reaching the retention feature 18 that includes the channel 64. In other examples, the barrier 16 slides over the first ramp section 60, as opposed to the second ramp section 62. The geometry of the first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 prevent the barrier 16 from being moved from the secured position. The first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 can be visible from the exterior of the tube 12 as in FIG. 8, or the first ramp section 60 and the second ramp section 62 can be visible only from the interior 14 of the blower tube 12. In other examples, the retention feature 18 can include different structures, including structures that protrude inwards to engage the barrier 16. The barrier 16 can be installed within the blower tube 12 by the barrier 16 being deformed, distorted and/or folded upon insertion, and then snapping into engagement with the retention feature 18. Hereinafter such deformation, distortion and/or folding is simply referred to as being deformed.

In the shown example, the barrier 16 is deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube 12 because the blower tube 12 has a relatively smaller dimension than the barrier 16. A substantial portion of the barrier 16 can be deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube 12. In one example, the outer ring 50 is deformed inward toward the central hub 54. In one specific example, portions of the outer ring 50 are folded, possibly at fold lines on the outer ring. Also, the spars 52 may be deformed to reduce their radial extent. By having the majority of the barrier 16 be deformable, this can improve the engagement between the retention feature 18 and the barrier 16. In this example, the barrier 16 returns to its original or non-deformed shape when the barrier 16 is secured in the retention feature 18 in the blower tube 12. In this example, as the barrier 16 moves from a deformed state to a non-deformed state, the barrier 16 snaps into engagement with the retention feature 18 and is secured in the retention feature 18 in the blower tube 12. In another example, the barrier 16 can remain non-deformed until it reaches the retention feature 18, where the barrier 16 becomes deformed when it snaps into engagement with the retention feature 18. In this example, the blower tube 12 has an inner diameter that is generally equivalent to the diameter of the barrier 16.

Another way to consider the structure is that the powered unit 10 is provided with a blower tube 12 and a barrier 16. A retention feature 18 located within the blower tube 12 is configured for securing the barrier 16 within the blower tube 12. Other types of retention features 18 can provide the same snap-in process as previously discussed. For example, a retention feature 18 that engages a corresponding structure on the barrier 16 can provide engagement between the retention feature 18 and the structure on the barrier 16. In an example, the barrier 16 is deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube 12 because the blower tube 12 can have a relatively smaller dimension than the barrier 16. The barrier 16 can return to its original or non-deformed shape when the barrier 16 is secured in the retention feature 18 in the blower tube 12. In this example, as the barrier 16 moves from a deformed state to a non-deformed state, the barrier 16 snaps into engagement with the retention feature 18 and is secured in the retention feature 18 in the blower tube 12. A substantial portion of the barrier 16 can be deformed as it is inserted into the blower tube 12. By having the majority of the barrier 16 be deformable, this can improve the engagement between the retention feature 18 and the barrier 16.

The retention feature 18 in the second example can also have an exterior appearance of a cosmetic protrusion 22, where the cosmetic protrusion 22 can appear to be part of the blower tube 12 construction. Without a user viewing the interior 14 of the blower tube 12, the user would not appreciate that the cosmetic protrusion 22 has a functional purpose. In this example, the retention feature 18 can include an annular groove 20 that has a diameter that is relatively larger than the inner diameter of the blower tube 12. The annular groove 20 allows the barrier 16 to be placed in the secured position 30 regardless of the orientation of the barrier 16 as it is inserted into the blower tube 12. If the blower tube 12 includes a non-circular shape, the dimension of the annular groove 20 can be relatively larger than the dimension of the blower tube 12.

An example method for assembling can be seen in FIGS. 2-7. FIG. 2 shows the barrier 16 before it is inserted into the blower tube 12. FIGS. 3-5 show the barrier 16 in the secured position 30 engaging a retention feature 18. In this example, the barrier 16 is inserted into the interior 14 of a blower tube 12. The barrier 16 is then pushed into the interior of the blower tube 12. The barrier 16 can be deformed and/or have a reduction in size while being initially pushed into the interior of the blower tube 12. The barrier 16 is then moved along the tube 12 toward a final position, where the barrier 16 is secured within the blower tube 12 in the secured position 30 by allowing the barrier 16 to return to its original or non-deformed shape. The barrier 16 can return to its non-deformed shape, as seen in FIGS. 3-5, as the barrier 16 snaps into engagement with a retention feature 18 located in the interior 14 of the blower tube 12, and reaches the secured position 30. In one example, the secured position 30 for the barrier 16 is reached when the barrier 16 snaps into engagement with the retention feature 18. Various example retention features 18 can be provided which will still result in the barrier 16 returning to its original, non-deformed shape. In this example, the retention feature 18 can be an annular groove that has a relatively larger dimension than the dimension of the blower tube 12.

The example of FIGS. 6-7 also shows a fixture 40 (shown in section) that is used to push the barrier 16 into the secured position 30. FIG. 6 shows the barrier 16 after it is inserted into the blower tube 12. FIG. 7 shows the barrier 16 after it is pushed into a secured position 30 in the blower tube. The fixture 40 can be a blunt object that can have a solid contacting surface 44 for pushing the barrier 16. The contacting surface 44 of the fixture 40 engages the barrier 16 and pushes the barrier 16 until it reaches the secured position 30. A second fixture 42 (shown in section) can be provided on the opposite side of the retention feature 18 in case the barrier 16 is pushed too far into the blower tube 12. The second fixture 42 is used while pushing the barrier 16 to ensure that engagement between the barrier 16 and the retention feature 18 will occur. The second fixture 42 forces the barrier 16 to engage the retention feature 18. After the barrier 16 is placed in a secured position 30 in the blower tube 12, the blower tube 12 can be connected to additional tubing or other structure to complete the assembly of the powered unit 10. It is appreciated that the dimensions shown in FIGS. 6-7 are only examples, and varying dimensions for each of the structures can be used.

The example barrier 16 in any of the embodiments can be easily installed and secured in the blower tube 12 but is difficult to remove. The engagement between the barrier 16 and the retention feature 18 can increase the difficulty of a user simply removing the barrier 16. The structure of the retention feature 18 prevents the user from accidentally dislodging the barrier 16 from engagement with the retention feature 18.

The invention has been described with reference to the example embodiments described above. Modifications and alterations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. Example embodiments incorporating one or more aspects of the invention are intended to include all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims.