Title:
Adjustable napkin clip assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable napkin clip assembly which includes a pair of integrally molded one-piece napkin clips adjustably carried at opposite end portions of an elongated elastic cord that extends about a person's neck, wherein each of the napkin clips frictionally engages the cord in slidable relation to facilitate positional adjustment thereon and includes of a pair of hinged jaws that are resiliently biased toward an open position and movable to an interlocking closed position to pinch and hold the napkin in place.



Inventors:
Ahrenholtz, Ted Eric (Minnetonka, MN, US)
Boortz, Justin Paul (Waconia, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/980999
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/30/2007
Assignee:
Quadion Corporation
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/530, 24/543
International Classes:
A45F5/04; A44B99/00; A45F5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHROEDER & SIEGFRIED, P.A. (WAYZATA, MN, US)
Claims:
1. An adjustable napkin clip assembly, comprising: (a) an elongated cord; and (b) a napkin clip of one-piece integral construction, said napkin clip being constructed to receive and hold the napkin and to frictionally engage said cord in slidably movable relation to facilitate positional adjustment thereon.

2. The napkin clip assembly of claim 1, wherein said clip is integrally formed of a plastic material.

3. The napkin clip assembly of claim 1, wherein said clip is integrally molded from a thermoplastic material.

4. The napkin clip assembly of claim 1, wherein said clip is comprised of a pair of interacting jaws which are constructed to receive and hold the napkin therebetween.

5. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein said jaws are flexibly interconnected and movable relative to one another.

6. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein said jaws are hingedly interconnected.

7. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein one of said jaws forms an outer frame which extends around at least a portion of the other of said jaws.

8. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein one of said jaws forms an outer frame which surrounds the other of said jaws.

9. The napkin clip assembly of claim 8, wherein said outer frame includes a plurality of outwardly extending protrusions which facilitate gripping said outer frame for purposes of handling said napkin clip.

10. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein said jaws are biased toward an open position relative to one another and movable to a closed position.

11. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein said jaws are constructed to lockably interengage so as to pinch and hold the napkin therebetween.

12. The napkin clip assembly of claim 4, wherein one of said jaws includes a frictional fastening mechanism adapted to slidably receive said cord.

13. The napkin clip assembly of claim 12, wherein said fastening mechanism is comprised of a channel through which said cord extends, said channel including outer walls with inwardly protruding teeth to facilitate frictional engagement of said cord.

14. The napkin clip assembly of claim 1, wherein said cord is constructed of a smooth elastic material having a tensile strength in excess of approximately 2600 pounds per square inch.

15. The napkin clip assembly of claim 1, including a second napkin clip constructed to receive and hold the napkin, said second napkin clip being carried by said cord in opposite orientation relative to said napkin clip.

16. The napkin clip assembly of claim 15, wherein said second napkin clip is of one-piece integral construction and frictionally engages said cord in slidably movable relation thereto.

17. An adjustable napkin clip assembly, comprising: (a) an elongated smooth elastic cord; and (b) a napkin clip being carried by and slidably adjustable along the length of said cord, said napkin clip being of one-piece unitary construction and being comprised of a pair of hinged jaws which are movable relative to one another between an open position and a closed position and constructed to receive and hold the napkin therebetween.

18. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, wherein said napkin clip is integrally molded from a resilient thermoplastic material, and said jaws are constructed to be resiliently biased toward said open position.

19. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, wherein said napkin clip is constructed to frictionally engage said cord.

20. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, wherein one of said jaws forms an outer frame which surrounds the other of said jaws.

21. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, wherein said napkin clip includes a frictional channel lock mechanism which receives said cord and facilitates adjustment along the length thereof.

22. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, wherein said jaws are constructed to lockably interengage so as to pinch the napkin therebetween.

23. The napkin clip assembly of claim 22, wherein one of said jaws forms an outer frame with opposing side sections that surrounds the other of said jaws, said jaws being capable of being disengaged and unlocked from one another upon application of inward pressure on said opposing side sections.

24. The napkin clip assembly of claim 17, and: (c) a second napkin clip being carried by and slidably adjustable along the length of said cord, said second napkin clip being of one-piece unitary construction and being comprised of a pair of hinged jaws which are movable relative to one another between an open position and a closed position and constructed to receive and hold the napkin therebetween.

25. An adjustable napkin clip assembly, comprising: (a) an elongated elastic cord having a tensile strength in excess of approximately 2600 pounds per square inch; (b) a one-piece napkin clip frictionally engaging said cord and being slidably adjustable along the length thereof, said napkin clip being integrally molded from a plastic material and being comprised of a pair of flexibly interconnected jaws which are movable relative to one another between an open position and a closed position; and (c) said jaws of said napkin clip being resiliently biased toward said open position, and said jaws including a snap locking mechanism that is constructed to pinch and hold the napkin between said jaws when in said closed position.

26. The napkin clip assembly of claim 25, wherein said napkin clip is formed of a thermoplastic material having a flex modulus of approximately 0.7 Gigapascal or greater.

27. The napkin clip assembly of claim 3, wherein said napkin clip is formed of a thermoplastic material having a flex modulus which is greater than approximately 1.5 Gigapascal.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of holding devices intended for securing napkins, bibs and the like about a person's neck, particularly that of a dental patient. More specifically, the present invention pertains to an adjustable napkin clip assembly which is comfortable to wear, easy to use and constructed for either disposable or reposable use to maximize efficiency through savings of time, and to minimize the potential for the spread of bacteria.

The use of napkins or bibs to protect a person's clothing is widely known in both household and professional applications. Conventionally, it has been known to secure the napkin to the front of one's clothing by means of some sort of a napkin clip. In the field of dentistry, a ball and link neck chain with terminal metal napkin clips is commonly used to secure the napkin in place. The use of such napkin clip assemblies has been criticized, however, in that they can be a significant source for the development of bacteria and infectious disease. Dental detritus and other bacteria become easily lodged between the ball links of the chain and napkin clips, thus requiring time-consuming re-sterilization procedures between uses. This has become a growing concern for all dental care providers. In fact, OSHA regulations now require that contaminated napkin dental clips be disinfected immediately after each use so as to avoid the possible spread of bacteria.

The conventional napkin clip assembly with a ball and link neck chain is also uncomfortable and inconvenient to use. The metal chain and clips are cold to the touch upon a person's neck, and often become tangled with neck hair when applied or removed. This results in painful pulling and uprooting of the neck hair. Before re-sterilization of the assembly can even begin, the tangled hair must be removed, thus requiring additional costly staff time.

There is also no means for ready adjustment of the napkin around a patient's neck. Aside from tediously disengaging the ball and link chain from each napkin clip and reconnecting the same, the length of the chain extending around the patient's neck is basically incapable of adjustment. Therefore, depending on the size of the patient's neck, the conventional ball and link dental napkin clip assembly is oftentimes too tight or loose around the neck, thus adding to its discomfort and hindering its ability to properly cover the patient's clothing.

Attempts have previously been made to enhance the comfort and convenience of such dental napkin clip assemblies, but none have heretofore solved all of the above deficiencies. For instance, in one known assembly, the ball and link chain has been replaced with a flexible smooth tubular member that fits over the ends of each terminal napkin clip. While this increases the comfort level to the patient, the metal napkin clips still require sterilization between uses, and there is no means for adjustment by the dental care provider. In another device, described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,414,903 (Porteous), a single use, plastic disposable dental bib holder assembly is provided which eliminates the need for sterilization. Again, however, this device provides no means for adjusting the position of the napkin clips on the neck strap so as to properly position the napkin for patients having larger of smaller neck sizes.

From the foregoing, it is evident that there is a distinct need for a napkin clip assembly which provides comfort and ease of use to the user, is readily adjustable for proper positioning of the napkin, and which is durable and cost efficient to produce, thereby facilitating disposable or reposable use thereof. It is with these objects in mind that we have developed the present invention, which is described and claimed in detail hereafter.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the present invention, an adjustable napkin clip assembly is provided which includes a pair of integrally formed one-piece napkin clips adjustably carried at opposite end portions of an elongated elastic cord that is intended to extend around the nape of a person's neck. Each napkin clip is integrally molded from a relatively rigid, yet flexible, resilient plastic material to form a pair of interacting jaws which are flexibly interconnected at a hinged joint to facilitate movement relative to one another between established open and closed positions.

In a preferred embodiment, each napkin clip is configured the same. The napkin clips are each generally oval-shaped (but may be of other general configurations) with opposite end portions located on their major axis and connecting side portions extending therebetween. One of the jaws of each napkin clip comprises an outer flexible frame which surrounds the other inner jaw of the clip. At one end portion of the napkin clip, the inner jaw is integrally molded to the outer surrounding jaw to form a flexible hinged connection therebetween. The inner jaw is molded at an angle relative to the outer jaw, thereby resiliently biasing the jaws in an open position relative to one another so as to facilitate easier/quicker insertion of the napkin therebetween. At the opposite end portion of the clip, the inner and outerjaws are constructed to cooperatively interlock upon closure to pinch and hold the napkin in place between the jaws.

Along the side portions of each napkin clip and between opposite end portions thereof, the frame of the outer jaw is slightly spaced from the inner jaw. This spacing between jaws permits the frame of the outer jaw to be squeezed inwardly, which causes a slight elongation of the outer jaw to assist in the disengagement of the interlocked j aws and consequent release of the napkin. The opposing side portions of each jaw also converge slightly inwardly toward one another to form a convenient location to grasp the clip with one's fingers. The converging portions of the outer surrounding jaw include a plurality of minor protrusions which aide in gripping the napkin clip between the user's thumb and fingers.

A fastening mechanism adapted to slidably receive and frictionally engage the elastic cord is integrally formed in the outer surface of the inner jaw of each napkin clip. In a preferred embodiment, this fastening mechanism is formed as an elongated channel member extending longitudinally between opposite end portions of the clip. The channel member has sidewalls which are designed to pinch and hold the elastic cord in place within the channel so as to facilitate sliding positional adjustment of the clip along the length of the cord. A portion of the channel sidewalls preferably include a plurality of inwardly protruding ribs designed to engage the elastic cord and further facilitate frictional engagement thereof.

The elastic cord of the napkin clip assembly may be comprised of an extruded solid or tubular member, formed of a flexible plastic material. Although the use of rubber and other various elastomers of suitable tensile strength are certainly contemplated, the elastic cord is preferably constructed of a material that will more readily facilitate slidable engagement within the fastening mechanism of each napkin clip. Materials such as flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC), vinyl or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) are contemplated as being suitable for this purpose in that they are generally less sticky and have a lower coefficient of friction than rubber materials. Therefore, the napkin clips will slide more easily on the cord. Moreover, the smoother cord will reduce pulling of the neck hairs of the user.

In use, each terminal end of the elastic cord is simply pressed into the frictional fastening mechanism of a napkin clip with the jaws thereof opening toward the terminal end. The cord is then positioned about the nape of a person's neck in a conventional manner, and a napkin is inserted and pinched between the interlocking jaws of each clip. With relative ease, each clip may then be slidably adjusted on the cord for proper positioning of the napkin.

The present invention provides a low cost, durable and easy-to-use alternative to the costly conventional ball and link napkin clip assembly. Each of the napkin clips are integrally formed as one-piece disposable or reposable plastic units that are adjustably carried and readily removable from an equally low cost, disposable or reposable elastic neck cord. This not only facilitates ease of use, but also helps to prevent the accumulation of harmful and infectious bacteria, and provides enhanced comfort to the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will more fully appear from the following description, made in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference characters refer to the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a napkin clip assembly constructed in accordance with the present invention, shown as it is intended to be used on the body of a person;

FIG. 2 is an front elevational view of one of the napkin clips shown in FIG. 1, constructed in accordance with the present invention and shown in it normally open-biased position;

FIG. 3 is an cross-sectional view of the napkin clip shown in FIG. 2, taken along lines 3-3 thereof;

FIG. 4 is an cross-sectional view of the napkin clip shown in FIG. 2, also taken along lines 3-3 thereof, but depicting the napkin clip in its closed position;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the manner in which each napkin clip in the napkin clip assembly of FIG. 1 connects to the elastic neck cord and napkin;

FIG. 6 is an front elevational view of one of the napkin clips shown in FIG. 1, showing the integrally-formed frictional fastening mechanism for connecting the elastic neck cord of the assembly to the napkin clip;

FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of one of the napkin clips shown in FIG. 1, constructed in accordance with the present invention and showing how the napkin clip may be disengaged from its closed locked position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to FIG. 1 of the drawings, an adjustable napkin clip assembly 1 incorporating the principles of my invention is shown. The napkin clip assembly 1 includes a pair of integrally formed one-piece napkin clips 3 and 5 that are adjustably carried at opposite end portions 7 and 9 of an elongated elastic cord 11. Each napkin clip 3 and 5 is integrally molded from a relatively rigid, yet flexible, resilient plastic material to form a pair of interacting jaws 13 and 15 which are flexibly interconnected to facilitate movement relative to one another between established open (FIG. 3) and closed positions (FIG. 4). As shown in FIG. 1, the elastic cord 11 is intended to extend around the nape of a person's neck such that, in a manner to be described hereafter, napkin clips 3 and 5 engage the upper edge portion 17 of a napkin 19 that is positioned on the user's chest.

As shown and discussed herein, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, napkin clips 3 and 5 are configured and function identical to one another. Therefore, for ease of illustration, the following discussion will describe in detail the construction and function of napkin clip 3 only, it being understood that the construction and function of napkin clip 5 is intended to be the same. As shown in FIG. 2, in a preferred embodiment, the inner jaw 13 of napkin clip 3 is comprised generally of an elongated tongue or panel member, and the outer jaw 15 is comprised of a flexible frame which surrounds inner jaw 13. At one end portion 21 of napkin clip 3, the inner jaw 13 is integrally connected to the outer surrounding jaw 15 to define a flexible and resiliently hinged interconnection 23 therebetween.

As shown best in FIG. 3, the inner jaw 13 of napkin clip 3 is preferably formed at an angle relative to the outer jaw 15, thereby resiliently biasing the jaws 13 and 15 in an open position relative to one another so as to facilitate easier/quicker insertion of the napkin 19 therebetween (see FIG. 5). Depending on the length of the napkin clip 3, this angle may vary, it being of primary importance that the gap between jaws 13 and 15 at the respective ends 25 and 35 thereof be sufficiently wide to accommodate insertion of the napkin 19 without interference. In the embodiment shown, it is contemplated that the gap between ends 25 and 35, although not critical, be approximately ⅜ inch wide.

As seen in FIG. 2, the inner jaw 13 extends outwardly from hinged joint 23 toward its free end 25, thus defining opposite side sections 27 and 29 therebetween. From hinged joint 23, the outer frame-like jaw 15 extends toward end portion 35 of the napkin clip 3, with corresponding opposite side sections 31 and 33 extending therebetween and essentially contouring the outer confines of inner jaw 13 in slightly spaced relation thereto. As best shown in FIG. 6, upon closure of napkin clip 3, the defined spacing 37 between corresponding side sections of the inner jaw 13 and outer jaw 15 converges toward end 35 of the napkin clip 3, such that the free end 25 of inner jaw 13 is disposed closely adjacent but not touching the inner confines of the outer jaw 15 at end 35.

At end portion 35 of napkin clip 3, the inner and outerjaws 13 and 15 are constructed to be freely movable relative to one another but capable of cooperative interlocking engagement upon closure to pinch and hold the napkin 19 between jaws 13 and 15. As shown best in FIGS. 3 and 4, in order to facilitate such locking engagement of jaws 13 and 15, inner jaw 13 includes a protruding locking tab 39 extending outwardly from end 25 of napkin clip 3. In a manner to be described more fully hereafter, locking tab 39 is designed to flexibly snap into locking engagement within a recessed stop 41 formed in the outer jaw 15 at end portion 35 of napkin clip 3. As shown best in FIG. 3, the outer edge of locking tab 39 is preferably radiused slightly to facilitate easier engagement thereof with outer jaw 15 of napkin clip 3.

As shown best in FIGS. 2 and 5, a fastening mechanism 45 adapted to slidably receive and frictionally engage the elastic cord 11 is integrally formed in the outer surface 43 of the inner jaw 13 of napkin clip 3. In a preferred embodiment, this fastening mechanism 45 is formed as an elongated channel extending longitudinally along the major axis of jaw 13, from a point adjacent hinged joint 23 to a point adjacent the opposite end portion 25 thereof. This channel member 45 has a width which approximates or is slightly less than the thickness of cord 11, with channel sidewalls 47 and 49 designed to pinch and hold the elastic cord 11 in place so as to facilitate sliding positional adjustment of the napkin clip 3 along the length of the cord 11.

As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 6, a portion of the channel sidewalls 47 and 49 preferably include a plurality of inwardly protruding ribs 51 designed to further engage and pinch the elastic cord 11 so as to facilitate frictional engagement thereof. Also, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, shoulder or lip portions 53 extend inwardly from the top edges of sidewalls 47 and 49 adjacent each end of the channel member 45 so as to extend partially over cord 11 and further restrict the opening of channel member 45. This helps to retain or prevent dislodgement of the cord 11 from within the channel in the event the person adjusting the napkin clip 3 pulls the cord 11 outwardly away from the clip.

In the embodiment shown, napkin clip 3 be configured to be somewhat elongated and generally oval-shaped, having opposite curved end portions 21 and 35 located along its major axis, with connecting side sections 31 and 33 of the outerjaw 15 extending therebetween so as to define the outer confines of the napkin clip 3. In order to facilitate easier handling and operation of napkin clip 3, each of the side sections 27, 29 and 31, 33 of jaws 13 and 15, respectively, curve slightly inwardly so as to converge toward one another near their mid-section, thereby forming a convenient location to grasp the napkin clip 3 with one's fingers. The converging portions 55 and 57 of the outer surrounding jaw 15 include a plurality of minor protrusions 59 which further aide in gripping the napkin clip 3 between the user's thumb and fingers, as shown in FIG. 7. Although the above describes a preferred configuration of the napkin clip 3, it will be readily appreciated that other general configurations and shapes are certainly conceivable without departing from the invention herein. For instance, it is possible that napkin clip 3 could have a generally rectangular or more round shape and still be capable of functioning in the desired manner.

As noted previously, each napkin clip 3 and 5 are preferably integrally-molded as one-piece units from a relatively rigid, yet flexible, resilient plastic material to form interacting jaws 13 and 15. This helps to facilitate proper locking interengagement and disengagement of jaws 13 and 15, as described heretofore. In a preferred embodiment, it is contemplated that napkin clips 3 and 5 be formed of a thermoplastic material with high enough elongation at break (Tensile elongation corresponding to the point of rupture) to allow the material at the point of hinge 23 to deform without failure. Although 50% or greater elongation at break is deemed preferable, it could be less, provided the jaws 13 and 15 can be repeatedly worked without failure.

Additionally, the material utilized in the formation of the napkin clips 3 and 5 should also be resilient enough that it will not undergo mechanical yield failure when torque is applied to the hinged joint 23, since it is important that the jaws 13 and 15 of each napkin clip 3 and 5 rebound to about their initial position at rest when unsnapped and released from interengagement. Since movement of jaws 13 and 15 tend to cause the clips 3 and 5 to deform as torsion springs, it has been found that the clip material is best described in terms of its flexural modulus, which characterizes the material's ability to resist deflection under a bending load. While the use of a thermoplastic material having a flex modulus as low or lower than about 0.7 Gigapascal (GPa) is possible, for best results, it is contemplated that the napkin clip material preferably have a flex modulus of approximately 1.5 GPa, or greater, in order to achieve reliable engagement of jaws 13 and 15 during use, and the desired flexibility and resiliency thereof.

As shown in the drawings, the elastic cord 11 of the napkin clip assembly 1 is preferably comprised of an extruded solid or tubular member, having a tensile strength suitable to ensure its structural integrity and prevent breakage upon pulling the same through the channel member 45 of napkin clips 3 and 5. For purposes of the present invention, it is deemed preferable that the cord 11 be capable of supporting a ten pound (10 lb) load without failure, although it is certainly possible that a cord of lesser strength could still function adequately, provided it does not break upon pulling the same during use. By way of example, for a 0.07 inch diameter cord to support a 10 lb load, a tensile strength of at least 2600 PSI is preferred.

Although the elastic cord may be formed of rubber or other elastomeric materials of greater friction, in a preferred embodiment, it is deemed desirable that the elastic cord 11 be formed of a flexible plastic material that is readily slidable within the channel member 45 of napkin clips 3 and 5. Materials such as flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC), vinyl or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) having the desired strength characteristics are contemplated as being suitable for this purpose in that they are generally smoother, less sticky and have a lower coefficient of friction than rubber materials. Consequently, the napkin clips 3 and 5 will slide more easily on cord 11, and the smoother cord 11 will reduce pulling of the neck hairs of the user.

As shown best in FIGS. 1 and 5, in using the napkin clip assembly 1, terminal end portion 7 of the elastic cord 11 is simply pressed into the channel member 45 of napkin clip 3 such that it is positioned under the retaining lips 53, with end portion 7 adjacent end portion 35 of napkin clip 3. This facilitates proper positioning of the napkin clip 3 upon cord 11 such that jaws 13 and 15 of the napkin clip 3 open toward the terminal end portion 7 of the cord 11. In a similar manner, napkin clip 5 is mounted for slidable frictional engagement on cord 11 adjacent the opposite terminal end portion 9 thereof. The cord 11 is then positioned about the nape of a person's neck in a conventional manner, as shown in FIG. 1.

As seen in FIG. 5, with napkin clip 3 in its normally open position, napkin 19 may be inserted between the jaws 13 and 15 thereof. Upon closure of jaws 13 and 15, end portion 35 of the outer jaw 15 flexes slightly outward to permit passage of the locking tab 39 of the inner jaw 13, and the edge portion 17 of napkin 19 becomes crimped between jaws 13 and 15. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, upon completing the closure of jaws 13 and 15, the locking tab 39 snaps into seated locking engagement within the recessed stop 41 formed in the outer jaw 15. This effectively pinches and holds the napkin 19 in place between the jaws 13 and 15. Depending on the strength of material from which the napkin 19 is formed, locking tab 39 may or may not pierce the material upon final engagement of jaws 13 and 15. In the same manner described above, napkin clip 5, positioned adjacent end portion 9 of cord 11, may also be secured to napkin 19 in spaced relation to napkin clip 3, as shown in FIG. 1.

With relative ease, each napkin clip 3 and 5 may then be slidably adjusted on the cord 11 for proper positioning of the napkin 19. With reference to FIG. 1, to shorten the napkin clip assembly 1 and draw napkin 19 closer to the user's neck, one needs only grasp napkin clip 3 or 5 with one hand; grasp the adjacent end portion 7 or 9 of cord 11 with the other hand; and pull the cord 11 down through the frictional fastening mechanism 45 thereof. Upon release, the adjusted napkin clip 3 or 5 will then automatically lock at its new position on cord 11 through frictional engagement thereof.

Similarly, with reference again to FIG. 1, to lengthen the napkin clip assembly 1 one needs only grasp napkin clip 3 or 5 with one hand; grasp cord 11 immediately above the napkin clip with the other hand (at a point adjacent end portion 21 of the clip); and then pull cord 11 up through the frictional fastening mechanism 45 thereof. Since the material from which cord 11 is formed is preferably a smoother, less sticky flexible plastic, it will slide through the frictional fastening mechanism 45 with relative ease, and will not tend to tangle in the user's neck hair. One or both napkin clips may be adjusted as desired to properly position the napkin on the user.

Disengagement of the napkin 19 from napkin clips 3 and 5 may also be accomplished with relative ease. As shown best in FIG. 7, the spacing 37 between jaws 13 and 15 of napkin clip 3 permits the frame side sections 31 and 33 of the outer jaw 15 to be squeezed inwardly, thus causing a slight elongation of the outer jaw 15. Such elongation of outer jaw 15 consequently causes the locking tab 39 of the inner jaw 13 to withdraw from its seated engagement with the recessed stop 41 formed in the outer jaw 15, thus causing the interlocked jaws 13 and 15 to disengage. Since the jaws 13 and 15 are resiliently biased in an open position relative to one another, upon release of locking tab 39, the jaws 13 and 15 of the napkin clip will spring open, thus releasing the napkin 19.

Although the napkin clips 3 and 5, and the cord 11, are each constructed as one-piece, low-cost moldable units which may be readily disposed of after a single use, the entire napkin clip assembly 1 is also designed for reposable use, if desired. As is perhaps most evident from FIG. 5, the napkin clip assembly 1 of the present invention has been specifically designed for easy disassembly of its constituent parts for cleaning or sterilization in the event the assembly 1 is to be reused. In a preferred embodiment, the napkin clips 3 and 5, and cord 11, are all constructed of materials that are readily autoclavable. Since each napkin clip 3 and 5 are connected to cord 11 by mere frictional engagement with fastening mechanism 45, they may be readily removed for cleaning or autoclaving by simply sliding each of the clips 3 and 5 off the ends of the cord 11. In this manner, any damaged components may also be discarded without having to dispose of the entire assembly.

It is evident from the above that the present invention provides a low cost, durable and easy-to-use alternative to the costly conventional ball and link napkin clip assembly. Each of the napkin clips 3 and 5 of the present invention are integrally formed as one-piece disposable or reposable plastic units that are adjustably carried and readily removable from an equally low cost, disposable or reposable elastic neck cord 11. The use of such a smooth elastic cord 11 not only facilitates easy slidable adjustment of the napkin clips 3 and 5, but also helps to prevent the accumulation of harmful and infectious bacteria, and provides enhanced comfort to the user.

It will, of course, be understood that various changes may be made in the form, details, arrangement and proportions of the parts without departing from the scope of the invention which comprises the matter shown and described herein and set forth in the appended claims.