Title:
UTENSIL HOLDER FOR A DISHWASHER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A utensil holder for holding a utensil to limit the rotation of the utensil.



Inventors:
Lindgren, Gary Mark (THREE OAKS, MI, US)
Smith, John Irven (COLOMA, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/843121
Publication Date:
02/26/2009
Filing Date:
08/22/2007
Assignee:
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION (BENTON HARBOR, MI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/37.6, 248/37.3
International Classes:
A47F7/00; A47B55/00; A47B81/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KRYCINSKI, STANTON L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION - MD 3601 (BENTON HARBOR, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A utensil holder for holding a utensil having a working face and a first portion of a greater dimension than a second portion in a wire-frame dish rack of a dishwasher, the utensil holder comprising: a coupler configured for mounting to the wire-frame dish rack; a first support element having a first recess; and a second support element having a second recess that is smaller than the first recess; wherein the first support cradles the first portion of the utensil within the first recess and the second support cradles the second portion of the utensil within the second recess.

2. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the support elements are spaced from each other.

3. A utensil holder according to claim 2 wherein the support elements are aligned with each other.

4. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the support elements each have a first recess and a second recess.

5. A utensil holder according to claim 4 wherein the second recess opens into the first recess.

6. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the recesses are configured to prevent the utensil from freely rotating when received within the recesses.

7. A utensil holder according to claim 1 and further comprising a rib projecting from at least one of the first and second support elements and into corresponding first and second recess.

8. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the support elements extend from the coupler.

9. A utensil holder according to claim 1 and further comprising at least one hook projecting from the coupled for attaching the coupler to the dish rack.

10. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the coupler further comprises a stop for preventing the utensil holder from rotating relative to the dish rack.

11. A utensil holder according to claim 1, where at least one of the first and second support elements comprises both a first and second recess.

12. A utensil holder according to claim 11 wherein the second recess diverges away from the first recess.

13. A utensil holder according to claim 12 wherein the first recess has a smaller cross-sectional area than the second recess.

14. A utensil holder according to claim 13, wherein each of the first and second supports comprises both a first and second recess.

15. A utensil holder according to claim 1 wherein the support elements are substantially rigid.

16. A utensil holder for holding a utensil having a first portion of a greater dimension than a second portion on a wire-frame dish rack of a dishwasher, the utensil holder comprising: a body; a coupler mounted to the body and configured for mounting to the wire-frame dish rack; a first recess formed in the body; and a second recess formed in the body and smaller than the first recess; wherein the first recess can receive the first portion of the utensil and the second recess can receive the second portion of the utensil.

17. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the recesses are spaced from each other.

18. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the body has two first recesses and two second recesses arranged in pairs of first and second recesses.

19. A utensil holder according to claim 18 wherein the second recess opens into the first recess.

20. A utensil holder according to claim 19 wherein the first recess diverges away from the second recess.

21. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the recesses are configured to prevent the utensil from freely rotating when received within the recesses.

22. A utensil holder according to claim 16 and further comprising a rib projecting into at least one of the first and second recesses.

23. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the coupler further comprises a hook for attaching the coupler to the dish rack.

24. A utensil holder according to claim 23 wherein the coupler further comprises a stop for preventing the utensil holder from rotating relative to the dish rack.

25. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the first recess is longitudinally aligned with the second recess.

26. A utensil holder according to claim 16 wherein the body is substantially rigid to minimize compressive forces on the utensil.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to a removable holder for supporting a utensil in a dishwasher basket.

2. Description of the Related Art

Utensil holders are well-known for supporting utensils in a dishwasher, especially utensils that are not readily supported by the vertical tine configurations commonly found in the upper and lower wire-frame rack of contemporary automatic dishwashers. An illustrative group of utensils are elongated utensils having multiple discrete cross sections or varying diameters along their length, such as serving spoons, spatulas, carving knives, etc. These utensils normally have a handle that varies in size and diameter to the working face, such as a spoon, blade, etc, which usually defines a somewhat planar surface.

Prior holders for these utensils support the utensil using spring hooks or clips or supporting the utensil. Contemporary spring hooks and clips rely on a compressive or gripping force to hold the utensil in place. This compressive or gripping force is typically achieved by using resilient materials to fabricate the hook or clip. Repeated exposure of the utensil holder to heat and moisture of the dishwasher often affects the resiliency of the material, with a consequent loss in the gripping force exerted on the utensil. This can result in the utensil being moved due to gravity or vibration, the force of the dishwasher liquid against the utensil, or both. Consequently, the utensil may move to a position in which the surface to be cleaned is not optimally positioned. A common situation is for the spring hooks or clips to hold the utensil by the handle so that the working face is exposed to the wash dishwasher liquid and not covered by the spring hooks or handle. When the spring hooks or clips lose their resiliency, the handle will rotate in response to the spray of dishwasher liquid contacting the generally planar surface of the working face until the handle is rotated such that the generally planar surface is parallel to the direction of the spray. In such a position, the spray of dishwasher liquid does not as effectively clean the working face.

There is a need for a utensil holder which can be utilized in a dishwasher rack which securely holes a utensil in a preselected position, can be readily removed when not needed, is resistant to deterioration from heat and moisture, and can hold a variety of utensils of different sizes and shapes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A utensil holder for holding a utensil having a working face and a first portion of a greater dimension than a second portion in a wire-frame dish rack of a dishwasher. The utensil holder comprises a coupler configured for mounting to the wire-frame dish rack, a first support element having a first recess, and a second support element having a second recess that is smaller than the first recess. The first support cradles the first portion of the utensil within the first recess and the second support cradles the second portion of the utensil within the second recess.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portion of a dishwasher rack having an embodiment of a utensil holder according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view from the front of the utensil holder illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the utensil holder illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of the utensil holder illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of a portion of the utensil holder illustrated in FIG. 1 showing a first embodiment of a hook for attaching the utensil holder to the dishwasher rack

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of a second embodiment of a hook for attaching utensil holder to the dishwasher rack having a rotation stop.

DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a utensil holder 10 according to the invention is illustrated attached to a dishwasher rack 12. The dishwasher rack 12 is well known in the art and does not form part of the invention. The dishwasher rack 12 will only be described to the extent necessary to explain one possible environment for the invention. The dish rack 12 has a generally vertical side wall 14 fabricated of a plurality of parallel, spaced-apart vertical wires 16 intersecting a plurality of parallel, spaced-apart horizontal wires 18. The utensil holder 10 is illustrated holding a utensil 20, having a handle 20a, with a first cross section, a stem 20b, with a second cross section, and a working face in the form of a generally planar, shallow scoop 20c. The utensil 20 as disclosed is for illustration purposes and does not form part of the invention.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the utensil holder 10 may have a body 30 having an obverse side 22 and an opposed reverse side 24. A coupler 32 forming a central portion of the body 30 transitions to a pair of support elements 34, 36. The coupler 32 may have a pair of parallel, spaced-apart side members 38, 40 joined by an upper crosspiece 42 and a lower crosspiece 44 extending therebetween. The support elements 34, 36 may extend away from the obverse side 22 and open upwardly. Alternatively, the lower crosspiece 44 may be omitted, with only the upper crosspiece 42 joining the side members 38, 40.

Each support element 34, 36 defines a cradle that may be formed by a pair of spaced-apart support arms 58, 60 terminating in and joined by an upwardly disposed tongue 66. A first rib 62 may extend along an interior periphery of the support arm 58, and a second rib 64 may extend along an interior periphery of the support arm 60.

Referring to FIG. 3, each of the cradles may be formed by first and second recess 54, 56, which may be defined by a lower portion 50 and an upper portion 52, respectively. The second recess 56 may be contiguous with and open away from the first recess 54. The recesses 54, 56 may be longitudinally aligned and sufficiently elongated to prevent a utensil 20 inserted therein from rotating within the recesses 54, 56.

Referring to FIG. 4, a pair of hooks 46, 48 may extend away from the reverse side 34 adjacent the upper crosspiece 42. The hooks 46, 48 may open downwardly to enable the utensil holder 10 to be suspended from a horizontal wire 18 of the dish rack 12. The hooks 46, 48 may be configured so that, when the holder 10 may be suspended from the horizontal wire 18, the reverse side 24 will extend along the vertical side wall 14.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, the hook 46 may be provided with inwardly-disposed, bosses 70, 72 to define a recess 74 for receipt of the horizontal wire 18 therein. The bosses 70, 72 may be configured to provide an interference fit of the horizontal wire 18 within the cradle 74 to securely hold the hook 46 to the wire 18, and to enable the wire 18 to be removed from the hook 46 by applying sufficient upward force to the hook 46 to enable the utensil holder 10 to be removed from the dishwasher rack 12. Hook 48 may also be provided with bosses 70, 72 to form a recess 74.

A preferred embodiment of the utensil holder 10 is illustrated in FIG. 6. As illustrated in FIG. 6, the hook 48 may be provided with an elongated stop 76 extending laterally away from the recess 74 along the apex of the hook 48. The stop 76 may be configured to engage vertical wires 16 when the utensil holder 10 may be supported on a horizontal wire 18, thereby preventing the utensil holder 10 from pivoting completely about the horizontal wire 18 to a position outside and/or behind the dishwasher rack 12, which may interfere with the movement and proper positioning of the rack 12 in the dishwasher. The hook 46 may also be provided with the elongated stop 76. However, to prevent the rotation of the utensil holder 10, only one such stop 76 may be needed.

The utensil holder 10 may be fabricated of any suitable material having sufficient strength and durability for the purposes described herein. Preferably, the utensil holder 10 may be fabricated of a plastic resistant to deterioration through the repeated exposure to a hot, wet environment characteristic of a dishwasher. A suitable plastic material may be an acetal copolymer, such as CelconĀ® M 90-34 manufactured by the Ticona unit of Celanese Corporation. The material may have sufficient rigidity to minimize the flexing of the support elements 34, 36 against the utensil 20.

Referring again to FIG. 1, with the utensil holder 10 supported on a horizontal wire 18, a utensil such as a spoon 20 may be cradled, for example, by inserting the shaft 20b of the spoon 20 into one of the support elements 34 and inserting the handle 20a into the other of the support elements 36. The smaller cross-sectional shaft 20b may be inserted into the first recess 54, and the larger cross-sectional handle 20a may be inserted into the larger second recess 56. The ribs 60, 62 may help hold the shaft and the handle to minimize the contact area of the shaft and the handle with the lower and upper portions 50, 52 in order to maximize the area of the utensil 20 contacted by the dish washing liquid. In this position, the utensil 20 will not rotate relative to the support elements 34, 36 when dishwasher liquid is sprayed against the scoop 20c as is common with other utensil holders because the cross-sectional configuration of the recesses 54, 56 relative to the shaft 20b and handle 20a do not permit such rotation. The recesses 54, 56 function somewhat like a slot receiving part of the utensil.

The recesses 54, 56 are relatively sized such that they receive various cross sections found in contemporary utensils while preventing their relative rotation thereby maintaining the utensil 20 in a preselected optimal position relative to the dishwashing sprayers. Thus, the utensil 20 will be securely, but loosely, cradled in the support elements 34, 36 and may be easily inserted into and removed from the utensil holder 10. With each support 54, 56 having multiple recesses, it increases the number of utensil configurations that may be received and supported without rotation.

It should be noted that the utensil holder 10 may have more than two supports 54, 56. The supports 54, 56 may have fewer or more than two recesses. The supports 54, 56 may have a different number of recesses along with differently sized recesses. The recesses need not be longitudinally aligned and could be longitudinally offset from each other.

The utensil holder 10 may be a single body with no moving parts, thereby simplifying its manufacture and minimizing the potential for operational defects. The utensil holder 10 may be supported on virtually any horizontal wire in the dish rack 12, including the top wire and middle wires, thereby optimizing the positioning of the utensil relative to the dishwashing spray jets to maximize cleaning effectiveness. The utensil holder 10 may be securely held to the dish rack 12, yet may be readily removed when not needed in order to enable the area occupied by the utensil holder 10 to be used for other dishes or utensils. The configuration of the recesses and the ribs enables the utensil to be securely, but loosely, held in order to maintain the selected orientation of the utensil relative to the dishwashing spray jets, yet facilitate the easy removal and effective rinsing and drying of the utensil at the end of the wash cycle.

While the invention has been specifically described in connection with certain specific embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that this is by way of illustration and not of limitation. Reasonable variation and modification are possible within the scope of the forgoing disclosure and drawings without departing from the spirit of the invention which is defined in the appended claims.





 
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