Title:
Automatic ice making machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automatic ice making machine with enhanced heat discharge efficiency, is provided. An ice making machine body 22 has a machine room 50 provided with a freezing mechanism 60 such as a compressor 56, and air inlets 30, 30 provided in a front panel 24 and communicating with the machine room 50. A top panel 26 comprises an insulating material 72 formed with a plurality of air circulation paths 74 which allow communication between the machine room 50 and outside of the ice making machine body 22. These air circulation paths 74 communicate with an air outlet 44 open toward an outer surface of the front panel 24. Outside air taken in from the air inlets 30, 30 circulates through the machine room 50 and an ice making space 52, and thereafter is discharged to the outside of the ice making machine body 22 via the air circulation paths 74.



Inventors:
Yamaoka, Kiyoshi (Toyoake, JP)
Kondo, Nobuo (Toyoake, JP)
Application Number:
12/583785
Publication Date:
12/31/2009
Filing Date:
08/26/2009
Assignee:
Hoshizaki Denki Kabushiki Kaisha
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/407
International Classes:
F25C1/00; F25D17/04
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
JP2003172562A2003-06-20
JP2000139635A2000-05-23
Primary Examiner:
SCHERMERHORN, JON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DLA PIPER LLP (US) (SAN DIEGO, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An automatic ice making machine having a machine room defined within an ice making machine body and including a freezing mechanism; a stocker disposed above the machine room within the ice making machine body; and an air inlet provided in the ice making machine body and communicating with the machine room, and configured such that an inside of the machine room is cooled by outside air taken in from the air inlet, characterized in that air circulation paths are formed in an insulating material provided between a top panel constituting a top surface of the ice making machine body and a stocker to allow communication between the machine room and outside of the ice making machine body and to let the outside air taken in from the air inlet to be discharged to the outside of the ice making machine body via the air circulation paths.

2. The automatic ice making machine according to claim 1, wherein an ice making space communicating with the machine room and the air circulation paths is defined behind the stocker in the ice making machine body, and configured such that ice blocks produced in an ice making mechanism disposed in the ice making space are released into the stocker.

3. The automatic ice making machine according to claim 2, wherein the air inlet is provided on a front panel covering a front side of the machine room.

4. The automatic ice making machine according to claim 1, wherein the air circulation paths communicate with the outside of the ice making machine body via an air outlet open toward a front side of the ice making machine body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to an automatic ice making machine in which outside air taken into the automatic ice making machine body is circulated to air-cool the inside of the machine room thereof.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventionally, in the kitchens of coffee shops, restaurants or the like, ice making machines which produce ice blocks in a required shape are suitably used according to the intended uses and purposes, and among them is an auger-type ice-making machine which continuously produces ice blocks (compressed ice) in the form of flakes such as chip ice and flake ice (see, for example, Japanese Laid-open Patent [Kokai] Publication No. 2003-172562).

As an internal structure of this auger-type ice-making machine, various modes have been proposed. For example, there is an ice making machine comprising a stocker disposed above a machine room defined in a lower portion within an ice making machine body, and an ice making mechanism disposed in a space (ice making space) defined behind the stocker.

FIG. 4 shows an exterior appearance of such conventional auger-type ice-making machine 10. In the machine room 8, a freezing mechanism comprising an unillustrated condenser and a compressor is disposed, and a front panel 12 of an ice making machine body covers the front side of the machine room 8. On the front panel 12, a pair of opening portions 14, 16 apart to the left and right from each other when viewed from the front are provided. One of the opening portions (right side in FIG. 4) functions as an air inlet 14, and the other opening portion (left side in FIG. 4) as an air outlet 16. That is, outside air is taken into the ice making machine via the air inlet 14 by the operation of an air-cooling fan (not shown) provided within the machine room 8. It is configured such that while the outside air circulates through the machine room 8 and the ice making space, and discharged from the air outlet 16, the machine room 8 is air-cooled.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

However, in the conventional structure that outside air taken in from a lower portion (air inlet 14) of an auger-type ice-making machine 10 is discharged from the same lower portion (air outlet 16) of the ice making machine 10, the outside air mainly circulates in the lower region of the ice making machine body (i.e., machine room 8 side), and thus outside air does not sufficiently circulate to the ice making space defined in an upper portion of the machine room 8. In particular, while an ice making mechanism disposed in the ice making space releases heat during an ice making operation, the released heat (high temperature air) is likely to stay in an upper portion of the ice making space. Therefore, in the conventional structure that outside air mainly circulates on a lower portion side of the ice making machine, heat discharge within the ice making machine, in particular, on an upper portion side thereof is insufficient, resulting in an increase in temperature within the ice making machine, which leads to lowering of the ice making capability, generation of malfunctions, failures or the like of electric components.

In view of the aforementioned problems inherent to the conventional automatic ice making machines, the present invention is proposed to suitably solve them, and it is an object of the present invention to provide an automatic ice making machine capable of suppressing temperature increase within an ice making machine by enhancing the efficiency of heat discharge thereof.

To overcome the aforementioned problems and to achieve the predetermined object, an automatic ice making machine according to the invention of the present application having

a machine room defined within an ice making machine body and including a freezing mechanism;

a stocker disposed above the machine room within the ice making machine body; and

an air inlet provided in the ice making machine body and communicating with the machine room, and configured such that an inside of the machine room is cooled by outside air taken in from the air inlet, is characterized in that

air circulation paths are formed in the insulating material provided between a top panel constituting a top surface of the ice making machine body and a stocker to allow communication between the machine room and outside of the ice making machine body and to let the outside air taken in from the air inlet to be discharged to the outside of the ice making machine body via the air circulation paths.

In an automatic ice making machine according to the present invention, the efficiency of heat discharge is enhanced, and temperature increase in the ice making machine can suitably be suppressed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a side sectional view showing the entire configuration of an automatic ice making machine according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is an entire perspective view of an automatic ice making machine according to the embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a heat insulating material according to a modification.

FIG. 4 is an entire perspective view showing an appearance of an automatic ice making machine according to a conventional embodiment.

FIG. 5 is an entire perspective view showing an automatic ice making machine according to another modification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Next, an automatic ice making machine according to the present invention will be explained below by way of a preferred embodiment with reference to the accompanying drawings. The “front”, “rear”, “left”, and “right” in the following description are the terms used based on the view of an automatic ice making machine from the front side (the insulation door side).

FIGS. 1 and 2 show an automatic ice making machine 20 according to the embodiment, and an auger-type ice making mechanism is employed in the embodiment. The ice making machine body 22 of the automatic ice making machine 20 is formed into a box by joining a front panel 24, a top panel 26, side panels 28, 28, a back panel 29 and a bottom panel 31 with each other. The front panel 24 has a pair of air inlets 30, 30 apart widthwise from each other, and each air inlet 30 is provided with a louver 32 on the front side thereof. Furthermore, an ice take-out port 34 is provided above the front panel 24, and an insulation door 36 pivot-supported by the ice making machine body 22 is provided in an openable/closable manner to the ice take-out port 34.

A top panel 26 is a thin plate formed by bending into a lid form, and is disposed such that it covers the top of a region surrounded by the side panels 28, 28 and the back panel 29. On the front side of the top panel 26, a bent portion 38 bent downward and forming a design surface is formed, as shown in FIG. 1. The lower end of the bent portion 38 is bent back toward the ice making machine body 22 (backward) in a required thickness to form a blowing portion 40. Furthermore, the rear end of the blowing portion 40 is defined as a positioning portion 42 bent upward. In the blowing portion 40, a plurality of air outlets 44 open downward are arranged at predetermined intervals in a left-right direction (only one is shown in FIG. 1). Moreover, the rear surface of the positioning portion 42 abuts on the front surface of a front frame 46 extending in a left-right direction on a top portion of the ice take-out port 34 in a tight-sealed manner. By the front frame 46, a bent portion 38, etc., a front space 48 for circulating air (outside air) for heat discharge is defined on the front side of the top panel 26. It should be noted that the front frame 46 also has a function of positioning of the insulation door 36 as an upper portion of the rear surface of which abuts on the front frame 46 at the time of closing.

The inside of the ice making machine body 22 comprises, as shown in FIG. 1, a machine room 50 defined in a lower portion, an ice making space 52 extending upward from a rear portion of the machine room 50, and a stocker 54 disposed in a front portion of the ice making space 52. The machine room 50 is open on a front portion thereof, communicating with outside via the air inlets 30, 30. In the machine room 50, a freezing mechanism 60 comprising a compressor 56 and a condenser 58 is disposed, and is configured such that outside air is taken into the machine room 50 via the left and right air inlets 30, 30 by an air-cooling fan 62 disposed behind the condenser 58. Furthermore, a supporting member 64 is provided behind the machine room 50, and an auger-type ice making mechanism 66 is supported by and fixed to the supporting member 64. That is, the ice making mechanism 66 is disposed within the ice making space 52.

The stocker 54 to be disposed above the machine room 50 is an insulating box body open upward and frontward, and an ice releasing portion 68 expanding backward is formed at a back portion of the stocker 54. A top portion of the ice making mechanism 66 faces the interior of the ice releasing portion 68, and ice released from an upper end of the ice making mechanism 66 is released from the ice releasing portion 68 into the stocker 54. A top portion 54a of the stocker 54 (ice releasing portion 68) is disposed at a height apart from the top panel 26 with a predetermined space. Furthermore, the upper opening portion of the stocker 54 is closed by a thin plate-like supporting plate 70. That is, front and back edge portions of the supporting plate 70 are supported by a front end of the top portion 54a of the stocker 54 and an upper end of the front frame 46 in a tight-sealed manner. An insulating material 72 is disposed in a space between the supporting plate 70 and the top panel 26, and front and back surfaces of the insulating material 72 face the front space 48 and the ice making space 52, respectively.

As shown in FIG. 2, in the insulating material 72, a plurality of gutter-shaped air circulation paths 74 extending in a front-rear direction are arranged apart from each other in a left-right direction. That is, the air circulation paths 74 allow the ice making space 52 to communicate with the front space 48 spacially, so that outside air circulated in the ice making space 52 is introduced into the front space 48 via the air circulation paths 74. In other words, an automatic ice making machine 20 according to the embodiment comprises a heat discharge circulation pathway in which outside air taken in from the air inlets 30, 30 circulates through the machine room 50→the ice making space 52→the air circulation paths 74→the front space 48 and is discharged obliquely downward from the air outlet 44 (direction along the opening surface of the ice take-out port 34).

Operation of Embodiment

Next, operation of an automatic ice making machine 20 according to the embodiment will be explained. When the operation of an automatic ice making machine 20 is started, the air-cooling fan 62 is activated to suck outside air into a machine room 50 from right and left air inlets 30, 30 provided on a front panel 24. Outside air suck into the machine room 50 circulates backward of the machine room 50 and flows into an ice making space 52. Then, the outside air moves upward in the ice making space 52 and flows into air circulation paths 74 from the back of the insulating material 72. At this time, heat released from the ice making mechanism 66 during an ice making operation is sent to the air circulation paths 74 together with the outside air circulating the ice making space 52.

The outside air circulated through the air circulation paths 74 changes its flow path downward at a front space 48 and is discharged outside from the air outlets 44. At this time, the air outlets 44 are open downward, and outside air is discharged in such a manner to flow down along the surface of the front frame 46. Thus, outside air warmed by heat discharge blows to the front frame 46, the insulation door 36 when it is closed, or the like, which can suppress generation of dew condensation thereon. In this manner, in the ice making machine 20 according to the embodiment, a circulation pathway is secured which lets outside air taken in from the machine room 50 located below to move upward through the ice making space 52, and then to circulate through the air circulation paths 74 of the insulating material 72 to be discharged from a front side of the ice making machine body 22. Therefore, heat discharge efficiency within the automatic ice making machine 20 is enhanced, and lowering of ice making capability and failure of electronic components due to temperature increase in the ice making machine body 22 can be suppressed.

Modification

The air circulation paths 74 of the insulating material 72 according to the embodiment were formed in the shape of gutters on the insulating material 72. Here, however, any structure may be employed for air circulation paths 74 so long as they allow communication between an ice making space 52 (machine room 50) and outside of an automatic ice making machine. For example, a plurality of hollow air circulation paths 75 extending in a front-rear direction may be formed in a left-right direction inside of an insulating material 73 as shown in FIG. 3.

The embodiment has the structure that a front panel 24 is provided with two air inlets 30, 30, while outside air is discharged via only air outlets 44 provided at a bent portion 38 of a top panel 26. However, it is possible to employ the structure that, for example, an air inlet 30 is provided on one side of a front panel 24 (right side in FIG. 5), and a second air outlet 76 is provided on the other side (left side in FIG. 5) as shown in FIG. 5. In an automatic ice making machine 78 according to another modification, part of outside air taken in from an air inlet 30 circulates the machine room 50 and the ice making space 52, in the same way as the embodiment, and then is discharged from the air outlets 44 via the air circulation paths 74. Meanwhile, part of remaining outside air mainly circulates within the machine room 50 and is discharged from the second air outlet 76. That is, in an automatic ice making machine 78 according to the modification, two circulation pathways for outside air are secured within the ice making machine, and the intake and discharge of outside air can be done further efficiently. Moreover, since the structure of the air inlet 14 and air outlet 16 of a conventional auger-type ice making machine 10 can be used as they are as shown in FIG. 4, development cost can be reduced.

In the embodiment, as an ice making mechanism of the automatic ice making machine 20, an example employing an auger-type ice making mechanism 66 was shown, but any other different types of ice making mechanisms including a spray-type ice making mechanism and a flow-down type ice making mechanism can be employed as long as they have the structure that outside air is taken from a lower portion of the ice making machine body, and is discharged outside via air circulation paths in an insulation material.