Title:
Drawer Actuator and Latch System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A drawer manipulation system adapted to facilitate opening of a drawer supported within a cabinet. The system includes at least one biasing actuator adapted for mounting in supported relation at projecting edge elements within the cabinet housing the drawer. The actuator incorporates an arrangement of slotted engagement surfaces adapted to accept supporting edge structures. The actuator may be used in conjunction with a push-push latch assembly.



Inventors:
Wong, Chong B. (Vernon Hills, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/127465
Publication Date:
02/12/2009
Filing Date:
05/27/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B88/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC. (GLENVIEW, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drawer manipulation system adapted for use within a cabinet housing a moveable drawer to urge the drawer towards an open position when the drawer is in an unlatched condition, the drawer manipulation system comprising at least one biasing actuator, said at least one biasing actuator comprising: a cylinder including a first end defining a base and a second end defining a piston acceptance port, the cylinder having a cylinder axis extending along the length of the cylinder; a piston disposed in inserted relation within the piston acceptance port and arranged in substantially coaxial relation with the cylinder, the piston including a distal portion projecting in a first direction away from the cylinder towards a rear surface of the drawer, the piston being moveable along the cylinder axis; a biasing spring housed within the cylinder between the piston and the base of the cylinder; a rearwardly projecting engagement slot disposed at a surface adjacent the base of the cylinder, the rearwardly projecting engagement slot projecting in a second direction facing away from the first direction, the rearwardly projecting engagement slot being adapted to slidingly engage a supporting rib member projecting in the first direction away from a rear surface of the cabinet; and a downwardly extending bracket structure projecting away from the cylinder at a position forward of the base of the cylinder, the bracket structure defining a channel extending in a plane transverse to the cylinder axis, the channel adapted to slidingly engage a support member projecting away from a floor surface of the cabinet.

2. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, further comprising at least one push-push latch adapted to selectively secure the drawer in a closed position.

3. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, including a pair of biasing actuators.

4. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein said rearwardly projecting engagement slot disposed across a downwardly projecting tongue structure disposed adjacent the base of the cylinder.

5. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein the supporting rib member comprises a lip of a channel frame support disposed within the cabinet.

6. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein the support member projecting away from a floor surface of the cabinet comprises a localized upstanding plate disposed at a channel frame support within the cabinet.

7. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein the downwardly extending bracket structure comprises a pair of opposing leg elements of substantially equivalent length such that the channel is characterized by a substantially “U” shaped profile.

8. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein the downwardly extending bracket structure comprises a first leg having a first length in opposing relation to a second leg of a second length, wherein the first length is greater than the second length such that the channel is characterized by a substantially inverted “J” shaped profile.

9. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 8, wherein the first leg is disposed forward of the second leg.

10. A drawer manipulation system adapted for use within a cabinet housing a moveable drawer to urge the drawer towards an open position when the drawer is in an unlatched condition, the drawer manipulation system comprising at least one push-push latch adapted to selectively secure the drawer in a closed position and at least one biasing actuator, said at least one biasing actuator comprising: a cylinder including a first end defining a base and a second end defining a piston acceptance port, the cylinder having a cylinder axis extending along the length of the cylinder; a piston disposed in inserted relation within the piston acceptance port and arranged in substantially coaxial relation with the cylinder, the piston including a distal portion projecting in a first direction away from the cylinder towards a rear surface of the drawer, the piston being moveable along the cylinder axis; a biasing spring housed within the cylinder between the piston and the base of the cylinder; a rearwardly projecting engagement slot disposed across a downwardly projecting tongue element adjacent the base of the cylinder, portions of the rearwardly projecting engagement slot being disposed outboard of opposing sides of the cylinder axis, the rearwardly projecting engagement slot projecting in a second direction facing away from the first direction, the rearwardly projecting engagement slot being adapted to slidingly engage a supporting rib member projecting in the first direction away from a rear surface of the cabinet; and a downwardly extending bracket structure projecting away from the cylinder at a position forward of the base of the cylinder, the bracket structure defining a channel extending in a plane transverse to the cylinder axis, the channel adapted to slidingly engage a support member projecting away from a floor surface of the cabinet.

11. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 10, including a pair of biasing actuators.

12. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 10, wherein the supporting rib member comprises a lip of a channel frame support disposed within the cabinet.

13. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 10, wherein the support member projecting away from a floor surface of the cabinet comprises a localized upstanding plate disposed at a channel frame support within the cabinet.

14. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 10, wherein the downwardly extending bracket structure comprises a pair of opposing leg elements of substantially equivalent length such that the channel is characterized by a substantially “U” shaped profile.

15. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 1, wherein the downwardly extending bracket structure comprises a first leg having a first length in opposing relation to a second leg of a second length, wherein the first length is greater than the second length such that the channel is characterized by a substantially inverted “J” shaped profile.

16. The drawer manipulation system as recited in claim 15, wherein the first leg is disposed forward of the second leg.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This Non-Provisional Application claims benefit to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/964,299 filed Aug. 10, 2007, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a drawer manipulation system to facilitate opening and, more particularly, to a system incorporating a biasing drawer actuator mountable in supported relation relative to projecting edge portions of a cabinet frame structure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Drawer manipulation systems using biasing actuators and cooperating latch structures are generally known. Such drawer actuators operatively engage a rear portion of the drawer when the drawer is in a closed position so as to urge the drawer towards an open position to permit access to the interior by a user. When the drawer is in the closed position, a latch assembly is engaged to resist the biasing opening force provided by the actuator. Upon disengagement of the latch assembly, the biasing force of the actuator urges the drawer forward towards the open position.

So-called “push-push” latch assemblies are generally known. Such latch assemblies typically lockingly engage a striker element when the striker element is pushed into an acceptance opening within the latch assembly. When a second pushing force is subsequently applied to the striker the locking relation is released and the striker is urged outwardly from the latch assembly by an internal spring or other biasing element.

In a number of drawer environments the mounting of actuators has proven to be difficult due to the need to secure the actuators in a fixed and stable position so as to promote consistency of the applied biasing force to the rear of the drawer over an extended life of the system. By way of example only, and not limitation, drawers located in appliances or other structures incorporating metal or plastic cabinet structures with adjustable legs may require particular skill and effort to provide a consistent mounting arrangement.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides advantages and alternatives over the prior art by providing a drawer manipulation system incorporating a biasing actuator which may be used in combination with a cooperating push-push latch wherein the actuator is adapted for mounting in supported relation at edge portions of a support frame structure within a cabinet housing the drawer.

According to one exemplary feature, a biasing actuator adapted for mounting within a drawer cabinet at a position behind a sling drawer is provided. The biasing actuator includes a rearwardly projecting slot adapted to slidingly engage a support frame rib member extending at least partially across the width of the drawer cabinet and projecting away from the rear wall of the cabinet. The biasing actuator further includes a downwardly projecting bracket structure adapted to engage a support structure projecting away from a bottom surface of the cabinet.

Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the following detailed description, claims and drawings in which like numerals are used to designate like features.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic of an appliance system incorporating drawers housed within appliance cabinet structures.

FIG. 2 is a cut-away schematic drawing illustrating components of a drawer system.

FIG. 3 is a partial cut-away perspective view illustrating an arrangement of biasing actuators within a drawer system.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary mounting arrangement for a biasing actuator at a frame member of a drawer cabinet.

FIG. 5 is a partial cut-away view of the actuator illustrated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of the actuator illustrated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is a schematic view illustrating another embodiment of a biasing actuator.

FIG. 8 illustrates the actuator of FIG. 7 in mounted relation at a support frame of a drawer cabinet.

Before the embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including” and “comprising” and variations thereof is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items and equivalents thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to the drawings, in FIG. 1 there is illustrated an appliance system 10 such as a clothes washer and dryer or the like. In the illustrated arrangement, each of the appliances in the appliance system 10 includes a user manipulated drawer system 12 including a cabinet structure 14 and a user manipulated sliding drawer 16. Of course, it is to be understood that the drawer system 12 is in no way limited to use within an appliance system. Rather, a drawer system 12 consistent with the present disclosure may be utilized in any suitable environment where storage is required.

As best illustrated through joint reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the illustrated exemplary drawer system 12 incorporates a latch assembly 20 mounted adjacent an edge of a drawer acceptance opening within the cabinet structure 14. The latch structure 20 is preferably a so called “push-push” latch assembly of a type well known to those of skill in the art adapted to matedly engage a strike element 22 extending away from an inwardly projecting shoulder surface of a drawer fascia structure 24.

In operation, when the drawer 16 is pushed to a closed position the strike element 22 is inserted into the latch assembly and becomes locked against outward withdrawal. Applying a subsequent pushing force causes the strike element 22 to be released from locking engagement within the latch assembly 20. The latch assembly 20 typically includes a spring biasing element to urge the strike element 22 outwardly when the strike element is disengaged.

In order to promote the outward opening movement of the drawer 16, the drawer system 12 includes one or more biasing actuators 30 adapted to apply an opening biasing force against a rearwardly projecting surface of the drawer 16. By way of example only, and not limitation, according to the arrangement illustrated in FIG. 3, a pair of such actuators 30 may be disposed adjacent rear corners of the cabinet structure 14. Of course, any other suitable positioning arrangement may likewise be utilized if desired.

As best illustrated in FIG. 5, according to one contemplated arrangement the actuators 30 may include a biasing piston element 32 including an outwardly projecting distal end adapted to engage a rear surface of the drawer 16 and a proximal end disposed within a cylinder 34. As illustrated, the cylinder 34 may include a biasing spring element 36 which is compressed as the piston element 32 moves into the cylinder 34 along the cylinder axis. Thus, the spring element 36 applies a constant biasing force urging the piston element 32 towards an outward projecting position thereby applying force against a rear surface of the drawer 16.

In operation, when the drawer 16 is moved to a closed position, the piston element 32 moves along a plane and is forced into the cylinder 34 thereby compressing the spring element 36. While the strike element 22 is held in locked relation within the latch assembly 20, the spring element 36 is retained in a state of compression. However, upon the release of the strike element 22 from locked relation within the latch assembly 20, the spring element 36 urges the piston element 32 to an outward position thereby causing the drawer 16 to also move. Thus, the actuators 30 may operate in concert with the latch assembly 20 to permit controlled outward movement of the drawer 16.

As best illustrated through joint reference to FIGS. 4 and 6, the actuators 30 may be adapted for positional mounting using projecting edges of a supporting channel frame structure 40 disposed adjacent a rear wall of the cabinet structure 14. As illustrated, according to one contemplated arrangement, the actuator 30 may include a downwardly projecting tongue 42 disposed adjacent to the base of the actuator and including a rearwardly projecting slot 44. As shown, the depth dimension of the slot 44 resides in a plane substantially parallel to the axis of the cylinder 34 with the width dimension being in a substantially transverse horizontal orientation relative to the axis of the cylinder 34 such that portions of the rearwardly projecting engagement slot are disposed outboard of opposing sides of the cylinder axis.

According to the illustrated exemplary configuration, the actuator 30 further includes a downwardly projecting bracket structure 46 disposed at a position forward of the tongue 42. In the illustrated arrangement the bracket structure includes a first leg 48 and a second leg 50 defining boundary surfaces for a substantially “U” shaped channel 52. As shown, the channel 52 projects downwardly in a plane oriented at a substantially right angle to the plane defined by the slot 44.

As best illustrated in FIG. 4, the arrangement of the slot 44 and the channel 52 facilitates a secure placement of the actuators 30 utilizing slotted engagement with protruding edge portions of the channel frame structure 40. In particular, the slot 44 is adapted to engage a rib member 56 extending across at least a portion of the width of the drawer cabinet structure. By way of example only, and not limitation, the rib member 56 may be an inwardly projecting lip of the channel frame structure 40. As shown, the rib member projects generally away from a rear wall of the cabinet structure 14 and towards a back surface of the drawer 16. The engagement between the slot 44 and the rib member 56 is preferably a substantially sliding engagement so as to permit a sliding motion of the actuator 30 during installation.

As shown in phantom lines in FIG. 4, during installation the actuator 30 may first be arranged in engaged relation to the rib member 56 to establish the proper vertical placement. The actuator 30 may then be moved to the proper position along the width of the cabinet structure 14 by sliding along the rib member 56 as shown by the directional arrow until the channel 52 engages an upstanding support plate member 60. Upon reaching this position, the upstanding support plate member 60 is held between the first leg 48 and the second leg 50. The actuator 30 may then be secured in place by a screw 62 or other fastening structure as may be desired. The actuator 30 is thus restrained against both horizontal and vertical displacement. As shown, the upstanding support plate member 60 may have a slightly reduced thickness relative to the channel frame structure 40 thereby defining a step 64 which engages the lower terminal surface of the first leg 48 of the bracket structure 46 to further assist in positioning of the actuator 30. Such an arrangement may provide additional support against tilting.

As illustrated, the edge structures engaging the actuator 30 may be portions of a channel frame structure 40 disposed at an interior portion of the cabinet structure 14. However, the invention is in no way limited to the use of such a separate channel frame structure. To the contrary, it is contemplated that virtually any arrangement of corresponding edge elements may be utilized if desired. By way of example only, and not limitation, the rib member 56 and/or the upstanding support member 60 may be integral with the cabinet structure 14 if desired.

Of course, the present invention is susceptible to a number of different embodiments. By way of example only, and not limitation, FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of an actuator 130 wherein elements corresponding to those previously described are designated by like reference numerals increased by 100. As illustrated, the actuator 130 incorporates a modified bracket structure 146 having a first leg 148 and a substantially shorter second leg 150 opposing the first leg 148 so as to define a generally inverted “J” shaped profile with a shallow channel 152 between the first leg 148 and the second leg 150.

FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary orientation of the actuator 130 relative to a rib member 156 and upstanding support plate 160 as previously described in relation to FIG. 4. As will be noted, in this arrangement, the second leg 150 extends only a portion of the distance from the upper edge of the support plate 160. However, the actuator 130 is nonetheless provided with full support.

Variations and modifications of the foregoing are within the scope of the present invention. It is understood that the invention disclosed and defined herein extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text and/or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the present invention. The embodiments described herein explain the best modes known for practicing the invention and will enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention. The claims are to be construed to include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted by the prior art.

Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.