Title:
HAIR BRAIDING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hair braiding device (49) comprises two plates (11, 12) forming a handle and including an opening (48) for inserting hair to be braided by the actions of two braiding wheels (2, 3) in coordination with a transfer mechanism (4) adapted to intermittently move one of three stands that the hair is automatically divided into such that each strand is intermittently received in a slot (29) in each of the braiding wheels (2, 3). Alternate, coordinated movement of the braiding wheels (2, 3) causes the three strands to be braided. A motor (9) is supported by the plates (11, 12) for powering a gear system which causes the two braiding wheels (2, 3) to rotate in opposite directions, in an alternating pattern.



Inventors:
Brouillard, Patrick (Sainte-Foy, CA)
Application Number:
12/192538
Publication Date:
11/19/2009
Filing Date:
08/15/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D44/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KALACH, BRIANNE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lawrence Cruz (STAMFORD, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hair braiding device for braiding a tuft of hair into a braided pattern comprising three stands of hair woven into a single braid, said device comprising a body housing an electric motor; a first driven braiding wheel adapted to be intermittently rotationally driven by said motor in a first direction; a pair of first notches on said first driven braiding wheel, each adapted to receive a strand of hair and move it with said first driven braiding wheel as said first driven braiding wheel rotates; a second driven braiding wheel adapted to be intermittently rotationally driven by said motor in a second direction; a pair of second notches on said second driven braiding wheel, each adapted to receive a strand of hair and move it with said second driven braiding wheel as said second driven braiding wheel rotates; a transfer member comprising a body mounted to be intermittently driven in both of said first and second directions; and a hair engaging tip on said transfer member adapted to intermittently engage said strands of hair, one at a time, and cause them, respectively, to be moved into engagement with one of said first and second driven braiding wheels.

2. A device according to claim 1, further comprising a spring-loaded clasp movably mounted to said housing and adapted to selectively open and close a hair space opening for introducing a tuft of hair into said device.

3. A device according to claim 1, further comprising a first pair of arms adjacent to said first pair of notches adapted to engage and advance one of said strands of hair with rotation of said first driven braiding wheel; and a second pair of arms adjacent to said second pair of notches adapted to engage and advance one of said strands of hair with rotation of said second driven braiding wheel.

4. A device according to claim 1, further comprising a handle section formed on said housing.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application relates to and claims priority from previously filed U.S. Provisional No. 60/965,489, filed on 21 Aug. 2007, titled “HAIR BRAIDING DEVICE”.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to hair styling appliances and, more particularly, to appliances for creating braids in hair of a person, animal or doll.

2. Description of Related Art

Various known devices exist in the prior art for creating braids in human hair. Such devices may be manually powered or electrically powered. Certain electrically powered devices provide an advantage over manually powered devices because they do not require the user to move his or her hands to cause the hair to be braided. This can be advantageous where timing and synchronization of a braiding method are critical since a mechanized system of moving members is more easily and precisely synchronized than a system relying on human performance. It is difficult, however, to provide a well-executed system that is engineered for ease of use, durability, economy, automatic operation, and synchronized movement of parts.

OBJECT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a hair braiding device that is superior to known devices in the areas of for ease of use, durability, economy, automatic operation, and synchronized movement of parts. It is a further object to provide a hair braiding device that braids hair in a true, three-stranded braid rather than, for example a mere twisting of a tuft of hair or a two-stranded braid.

These an other objects are achieved by the present invention disclosed herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, a hair braiding device comprises two plates forming a handle and including an opening for inserting hair to be braided by the actions of two braiding wheels in coordination with a transfer mechanism. A motor is supported by the plates for powering a gear system which causes a pair of gears to alternately rotate in synchronized fashion. A gear locking system selectively immobilizes certain portions of the gear system. The arrangement of the gears permits the two braiding wheels to rotate in opposite directions, in an alternating pattern, in order to perform a braiding action on hair inserted into the wheels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an isometric, partial view of the present invention.

FIG. 4A is an isometric view of a first side of a component of the present invention.

FIG. 4B is an isometric view of a second side of the component of the present invention shown in FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5A is an isometric view of a component of the present invention.

FIG. 5B is a top, partial view of the component of the present invention shown in FIG. 5A.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of a component of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a component of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a component of the present invention.

FIG. 9A is a partial, top view of the present invention shown in a first operating position.

FIG. 9B is a partial, top view of the present invention shown in a second operating position.

FIG. 9C is a partial, top view of the present invention shown in a third operating position.

FIG. 10A is a top view of the present invention shown in a first operating mode.

FIG. 10B is a top view of the present invention shown in a second operating position.

FIG. 10C is a top view of the present invention shown in a third operating position.

FIG. 10D is a top view of the present invention shown in a fourth operating position.

FIG. 10E is a top view of the present invention shown in a fifth operating position.

FIG. 10F is a top view of the present invention shown in a sixth operating position.

FIG. 10G is a top view of the present invention shown in a seventh operating mode.

FIG. 10H is a top view of the present invention shown in an eighth operating position.

FIG. 10I is a top view of the present invention shown in a ninth operating position.

FIG. 10J is a top view of the present invention shown in a tenth operating position.

FIG. 10K is a top view of the present invention shown in an eleventh operating position.

FIG. 10L is a top view of the present invention shown in a twelfth operating position.

FIG. 10M is a top view of the present invention shown in a thirteenth operating mode.

FIG. 10N is a top view of the present invention shown in a fourteenth operating position.

FIG. 10O is a top view of the present invention shown in a fifteenth operating position.

FIG. 10P is a top view of the present invention shown in a sixteenth operating position.

FIG. 10Q is a top view of the present invention shown in a seventeenth operating position.

FIG. 10R is a top view of the present invention shown in an eighteenth operating position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Referring to the drawing Figures, a hair braiding device 49, according to the present invention comprises: a coordination wheel 1, a first braiding wheel 2, a second braiding wheel 3, a transfer member 4, a hair clasp 5, a fork 6, a pushbutton 7, a spiral bevel gear 8, a motor 9, a bevel gear 10, a top plate 11, a bottom plate 12, a gear 13, a locking section 14, a transfer locking section 15, a geared section 16a, a geared section 16b, a locking gear 17a, a locking gear 17b, a transfer locking gear 18, a transfer wheel 19, a pin 20, a slot 21, an extension spring 22, an extension spring 23, a compression spring 24, a transfer member center of rotation 25, a shaft 26, a transfer gear 27, a transfer gear 28, notches 29, arms 30, and empty space 31, a gear 32, a braiding wheel body 33, a braiding wheel receiving member 34, an intermediate piece 35, a center of rotation 36, an anti-reverse member 37, and anti-reverse member 38, a gearing support 39, a spring fitting 40, a spring fitting 41, a spring fitting 42, a spring fixation shaft 43, a gar 44, a gear 45, a transfer member tip 46, a locking section 47, and a hair space opening 48.

The present invention hair braiding device 49 is adapted to braid hair into three-stranded braids. Two plates 11, 12 form a handle having finger impressions 51 to facilitate gripping and having a proximal end 52. The opening 48 is provided to receive a user's hair to be braided. The two braiding wheels 2, 3 cooperate with the transfer member 4. A motor 9 is housed between the plates 11, 12 and powers a series of gears 8, 10, 13 to cause the coordination wheel 1 to rotate with the shaft 26 as the center of rotation. The coordination wheel 1 comprises a geared section 16A which controls the rotation of gears 17A, 17B in an alternating manner. The coordination wheel 1 also comprises a locking section 14 that immobilizes the locking gears 17A, 17B when they are moved to a position out of contact with the geared section 16A. The locking gears 17A, 17B each include a locking section 47, as shown in FIG. 8, where only gear 17A is illustrated, rather than both gears 17A and 17B, because gears 17A and 17B are identical. Each locking section 47 interacts with the locking section 14 of the coordination wheel, and each locking section 47 is provided with an inner gear 44 and an outer gear 45. Each inner gear 44 cooperates with the geared section 16A and each outer gear 45 transmits rotational motion from the locking gears 17A, 17B to the gear 32 of each braiding wheel 2, 3. Since braiding wheels 2, 3 are identical to each other only one of them, wheel 2, is illustrated in detail in FIGS. 5A and 5B. Transmission of rotation to each of the braiding wheels 2, 3 is achieved through the intermediate gears 27, 28.

The electric motor 9 may be powered by conventional means (not shown) such as a disposable battery, a rechargeable battery, or an external power source.

Anti-reverse members 37, 38 prevent the gearing system from losing synchronization through reversed direction rotation of the locking gears 17A, 17B or the transfer locking gear 18. The coordination wheel 1 contains geared sections 16B that permit rotation of the transfer locking gear 18 and that contain the transfer locking sections 15 to immobilize the transfer locking gear 18 at times when it is not interacting with the geared sections 16B. The transfer locking gear 18 rests on the gearing support 39. A pin 20 links the transfer locking gear 18 and the transfer wheel 19 slides in a slot 21 in the transfer member 4. This constrains the motion of the transfer member 4 to a back-and-forth horizontal motion, serving to transfer the hair strands from one braiding wheel 2, 3 to the other in an alternating manner.

The tip 46 of the transfer member 4 is flexible to allow the correct transfer of the hair strands from the notches 29 of one braiding wheel 2, 3 to the other (see FIGS. 10A to 10D). Both braiding wheels 2, 3 are each marked by two notches 29 which extend through the gear teeth a distance into the body 33 of the braiding wheels 2, 3. These notches 29 hold the hair strands tightly. The braiding wheels 2, 3 move alternately, one at a time, and in directions opposite to each other. The movement of each braiding wheel 2, 3 is one-hundred and eighty degrees and is coordinated with the movement of the transfer member 4.

The shape of the braiding wheels 2, 3 creates two areas of empty space 31 around each braiding wheel 2, 3 to accommodate a hair strand upon initial insertion into the device 49. The braiding wheels 2, 3 each possess two arms 30 which push the hair strands upon rotation of the braiding wheels 2, 3 toward the transfer member 4. The device 49 also comprises a push-button 7 which, when activated, exerts a force on the extension spring 23 and the compression spring 24 to push the fork 6 up from a resting position to a hair-splitting position. At this position, the extension spring 23 is fully extended and further pressing the bush-button 7 extends the extension spring 22 and causes the hair clasp 5 to open. The position of the fork 6 causes the compression spring 24 to compress. When the push-button 7 is fully depressed, insertion of the hair 53 into the opening 48 is facilitated. The hair 53 is split into three strands 50, 51, 52 when the push-button 7 is released due to the actions of the extension springs 22, 23 causing the hair clasp 5 to retract, thus forcing the hair around between the two teeth of the fork 6 (see FIGS. 9A and 9B). When the fork 6 retreats it leaves two of the three hair strands in the spaces 31 around the braiding wheels 2, 3 and the third strand is positioned in the space 48 between the two braiding wheels 2, 3.

FIGS. 10A-10R illustrate the sequential movement of a hair strand being braided in accordance with the device described above. After the hair strand is placed in the opening 48, as described above, it is divided into three separate strands, as described above, and those three strands are shown in FIGS. 10A-10R referenced as first hair strand 50, second hair strand 51, and third hair strand 52.

As can be seen in FIG. 10A, the transfer member 4 is initially positioned so that its tip 46 is adjacent to the second braiding wheel 3, and the tip 46 is positioned just to the right hand side of the third hair strand 52, which is generally positioned in the middle between the first and second braiding wheels 2, 3. As the gear arrangement operates as described above, the transfer member 4 pivots counter-clockwise about axis 26 so that the tip 46 moves to the left, toward the first braiding wheel 2, while moving the third hair strand 52 to the left, engaging the third hair strand 52 with the first braiding wheel 1, as shown in FIG. 10B. Continued movement of the transfer member 4 in the same direction results in flexing of the tip 46 as shown in FIG. 10C, ensuring that the third hair strand 52 gets seated in the notch 29 of the first braiding wheel 2. Referring to FIGS. 10D and 10E, while the transfer member 4 is stationary, the first braiding wheel 2 rotates clockwise causing the third hair strand 52 to travel with it in a clockwise direction.

Continued clockwise movement of the first braiding wheel 2 causes the arm 30 of the first braiding wheel 2 to engage and move the first hair strand 50 from its initial position (see FIGS. 10A-10E) to the position shown in FIG. 10F. At the same time, the continued movement of the first braiding wheel 2 causes third hair strand 52 to move to the position shown in FIG. 10F. As shown in FIG. 10G, the movement of the first braiding wheel 2 stops and the transfer member 4 now begins to move in a clockwise direction so that the tip 46 engages the left side of the first hair strand 50. As shown in FIGS. 10H-101, the continued movement of the transfer member 4 sweeps the first hair strand 50 to the right so it engages the second braiding wheel 3. As shown in FIGS. 10J-10L, the second braiding wheel 3 moves counter-clockwise thereby causing both the first hair strand 50 and the second hair strand 51 to travel counter-clockwise in engagement with the second braiding wheel 3 until it stops in the position shown in FIG. 10L. Referring to FIGS. 10M-10R, the transfer member 4 again switches direction and the cycle described above repeats itself.

The above process continues until a desired length of hair is braided into a three-strand braid. After a desired length of braided hair is created, the device 49 is drawn away from the user's head and the three strands' remaining lengths of unbraided hair slide out of the device. A user may then fasten, tie or clamp the end of the braided hair in any one of known ways.

While the preferred embodiment of the present invention has been disclosed herein, it is understood that various modification can be made without departing from the scope of the presently claimed invention.