Title:
REFRIGERATOR AND RAIL ASSEMBLY THEREOF
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rail assembly for a refrigerator includes a fixing rail on at least one sidewall of a storing chamber, a moving rail along which the fixing rail moves, and a guide unit allowing the moving rail to slide out along the fixing rail step by step.



Inventors:
Ji, Sun Kook (Changwon-shi, KR)
Application Number:
12/440585
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
09/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/401, 312/405.1
International Classes:
F25D23/12; F25D23/00; F25D23/02
View Patent Images:
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20100007250MEDICAL SERVICES CARTJanuary, 2010Sharpe
20080282505REFRIGERATOR AND DOOR HANDLE FOR REFRIGERATORNovember, 2008Kim
20080203870Kitchen Appliance Configured to Allow Variation of Aesthetic Appearance ThereofAugust, 2008Riley et al.
20080100187Adjustable-Height BaseMay, 2008Tomasello et al.
20100011997DOCKABLE COMPUTER STATIONJanuary, 2010Hancock
20050179348Wall mount cabinet systemAugust, 2005Caveney et al.



Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIRCH, STEWART, KOLASCH & BIRCH, LLP (FALLS CHURCH, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A rail assembly for a refrigerator, comprising: a fixing rail on at least one sidewall of a storing chamber; a moving rail along which the fixing rail moves; and a guide unit allowing the moving rail to slide out along the fixing rail step by step.

2. The rail assembly according to claim 1, wherein the guide unit comprises: a bearing unit between the fixing rail and the moving rail for reducing frictional force between the fixing rail and the moving rail; and a plurality of catching projections that are formed at predetermined intervals on one of the fixing rail and the moving rail to catch the bearing unit during a sliding motion of the moving rail.

3. The rail assembly according to claim 2, wherein the moving rail slides step by step by a distance between the adjacent catching projections.

4. The rail assembly according to claim 2, wherein the bearing unit comprises: a plurality of ball bearings; and a retainer provided with a plurality of grooves for receiving the respective ball bearings.

5. The rail assembly according to claim 2, wherein the catching projections are formed on inner-top and bottom surfaces of the fixing rail or inner-top and bottom surfaces of the moving rail; and the bearing unit is provided in a space defined between inner-top and bottom surfaces of the fixing rail and inner-top and bottom surfaces of the moving rail.

6. A rail assembly for a refrigerator, comprising: a fixing rail on at least one sidewall of a storing chamber; a guide rail slidably coupled to the fixing rail; a moving rail along which the fixing rail moves; and a guide unit allowing one of the guide rail and the moving rail to slide out along the fixing rail step by step.

7. The rail assembly according to claim 6, where in the guide unit comprises: a bearing unit between the fixing rail and the guide rail for smoothly moving the guide rail; and a plurality of catching projections that are formed at predetermined intervals on one of the fixing rail and the guide rail to allow the guide rail to slide in and out step by step.

8. The rail assembly according to claim 7, wherein the guide unit comprises: a bearing unit between the guide rail and the moving rail for smoothly moving the moving rail; and a plurality of catching projections that are formed one of the guide rail and the moving rail to allow the moving rail to slide in and out step by step.

9. The rail assembly according to claim 6, wherein the guide unit comprises: a bearing unit between the guide rail and the moving rail for smoothly moving the moving rail; and a plurality of catching projections that are formed one of the guide rail and the moving rail to allow the moving rail to slide in and out step by step.

10. The rail assembly according to claim 6, further comprising a stopper provided on one of front and rear end portions of the fixing rail and front and rear end portions of the guide rail to limit a maximum sliding out distance.

11. A refrigerator comprising: a main body defining a storing chamber; a receiving box installed in the storing chamber and being capable of going in and out of the storing chamber; a door provided in front of the storing chamber; and a rail assembly of claim 1, which is provided on both inner-side surfaces of the storing chamber to support the receiving box.

12. The refrigerator according to claim 11, wherein both side ends of the door slide in and out at an identical speed by the rail assembly.

13. A refrigerator comprising: a main body defining a storing chamber; a receiving box installed in the storing chamber and being capable of going in and out of the storing chamber; a door provided in front of the storing chamber; and a rail assembly of claim 6, which is provided on a both inner-side surfaces of the storing chamber to support the receiving box.

14. The refrigerator according to claim 13, wherein both side ends of the door slide in and out at an identical speed by the rail assembly.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a refrigerator.

BACKGROUND ART

Generally, a refrigerator is a home appliance maintained at a low temperature in order to keep food fresh for a long time.

The refrigerator has a refrigerating compartment that is maintained at a temperature of 1-4° C. in order to keep food such as vegetables and fruits fresh and a freezing compartment that is maintained at a temperature of −18° C. or less in order to keep food such as meats and fishes frozen.

The refrigerators may be classified into a top mount type where the freezing compartment is located above the refrigerating compartment, a bottom freezer type where the freezing compartment is located below the refrigerating compartment, and a side-by-side type where the refrigerating and freezing compartments are located left and right.

The refrigerator is maintained at the refrigerating and freezing temperatures as air and a refrigerant are heat exchanged with each other in the respective refrigerating and freezing compartments.

A plurality of shelves for supporting or laying food thereon are arranged along a vertical direction in the refrigerating and freezing compartments and/or receiving boxes are disposed in the refrigerating and freezing compartments to be capable of sliding in and out.

For the bottom freezer type refrigerator, the freezing compartment is provided in the form of a drawer that can be slide in and out of the refrigerator. For the sliding motion of the drawer type freezing compartment, a rail assembly for guiding the sliding motion of the drawer type freezing compartment is provided in the refrigerator.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Technical Problem

Embodiments provide a rail assembly for a refrigerator, which allows receiving boxes including a drawer type freezing compartment to accurately slide in and out of a storing chamber, and a refrigerator having the rail assembly.

Embodiments also provide a rail assembly for a refrigerator, which allows receiving boxes including a drawer type freezing compartment to accurately slide in and out of a storing chamber in phases, and a refrigerator having the rail assembly.

Technical Solution

In one embodiment, a rail assembly for a refrigerator includes a fixing rail on at least one sidewall of a storing chamber; a moving rail along which the fixing rail moves; and a guide unit allowing the moving rail to slide out along the fixing rail step by step.

In another embodiment, a rail assembly for a refrigerator includes a fixing rail on at least one sidewall of a storing chamber; a guide rail slidably coupled to the fixing rail; a moving rail along which the fixing rail moves; and a guide unit allowing one of the guide rail and the moving rail to slide out along the fixing rail step by step.

In still another embodiment, a refrigerator includes a main body defining a storing chamber; a receiving box installed in the storing chamber and being capable of going in and out of the storing chamber; a door provided in front of the storing chamber; and the above-described rail assembly provided on a both inner-side surfaces of the storing chamber to support the receiving box.

Advantageous Effects

According to the rail assembly and the refrigerator having the rail assembly, the receiving boxes can more accurately slide in and out of the storing chamber by the rail assembly. Therefore, the noise and damage of the receiving boxes or the rail assembly, which may be caused by the sliding motion of the receiving boxes into or out of the storing chamber, can be minimized.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a refrigerator having a rail assembly according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a rail assembly of a refrigerator according to an embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a partial sectional view of the rail assembly of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 4 through 9 are views illustrating an operation of the rail assembly of FIGS. 2 and 3.

MODE FOR THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a refrigerator having a rail assembly according to an embodiment.

Referring to FIG. 1, a storing chamber is defined in a refrigerator main body 1. A receiving box (not shown) is installed in the storing chamber 3 to be capable of sliding in and out. A receiving space is defined in the receiving box. The receiving box is provided in the form of a drawer that can slide in and out of the storing chamber 3. Although not shown in FIG. 1, a door for selectively opening and closing the storing chamber 3 is provided in front of the receiving box installed in the storing chamber 3. A rail assembly is provided on left and right inner walls defining the storing chamber 3. The rail assembly includes fixing rails 50 fixed in a front-to-rear direction on the left and right inner walls defining the storing chamber 3, and guide and moving rails 60 and 70 that are coupled to the respective fixing rails 50 to be capable of sliding in and out. Here, the guide rails 70 are selectively provided in accordance with a size of the refrigerator or a size of the receiving box. The following will describe a case where the guide rails 60 are provided by way of example.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a rail assembly of a refrigerator according to an embodiment, and FIG. 3 is a partial sectional view of the rail assembly of FIG. 2.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, as described above, the rail assembly of this embodiment includes the fixing rails 50, the guide rails 60, and the moving rails 70.

In more detail, the fixing rails 50 are longitudinally fixed in a front-to-rear direction on the left and right inner walls defining the storing chamber 3. Each of the fixing rails 50 has a -shaped section. That is, each of the fixing rails 50 is opened toward the center of the storing chamber. Stoppers 51 and 53 are formed on respective inner-front and inner-rear end portions of each of the fixing rails 50. The stoppers 51 and 53 serve to prevent the guide rails 60 from moving over a predetermined distance along the fixing rails frontward and rearward.

The guide rails 60 are provided inside the respective fixing rails 50 to be capable of moving forward and rearward along the respective fixing rails 50. Like the fixing rails 50, each of the guide rails 60 is formed having a -shaped section opened toward the center of the storing chamber. The guide rails 60 are completely received inside the respective fixing rails 50.

A stopper projection (not shown) is provided on an outer-rear end portion of the guide rail 60. Stoppers 61 and 63 are provided on inner-front and inner-rear end portions of the guide rail 60. The stopper projection contacts the stoppers 51 and 53 of the fixing rail 50 while the guide rail 60 moves frontward and rearward along the fixing rail 50. As the stopper projection is hooked by the stoppers 51 and 53, the guide rail 60 cannot moves frontward and rearward over a predetermined distance along the fixing rail 50. The stoppers 61 and 64 also function to limit the moving distance of the moving rail 70 along the guide rail 60 frontward and rearward. Needless to say, a stopper projection contacting the stoppers 61 and 63 is also formed on the moving rail 70.

A plurality of first ball bearings 65 are provided between the fixing rail 50 and the guide rail 60. Inner-top and bottom surfaces of the fixing rail 50 are respective spaced apart from outer-top and bottom surfaces of the guide rail 60. The first ball bearings 65 are provided between the spaces defined between the fixing rail 50 and the guide rail 60.

The first ball bearings 65 function to reduce frictional force between the guide rail 60 and the fixing rail 50 as the guide rail 60 moves along the fixing rail 50. The first ball bearings 65 are disposed between the inner-top surface of the fixing rail 50 and the outer-top surface of the guide rail 60 and between the inner-bottom surface of the fixing rail 50 and the outer-bottom surface of the guide rail 60.

A first retainer 67 is provided between the fixing rail 50 and the guide rail 60. The first retainer 67 functions to prevent the removal of the first ball bearings 65 provided between the fixing rail 50 and the guide rail 60. The first retainer 67 is formed having a -shaped section and extends lengthwise. A plurality of first bearing holes 671 on which the respective first ball bearings 65 seat are formed on outer-top and bottom surfaces of the first retainer 67. The bearing holes 671 are spaced apart from each other on the first retainer 67. The first ball bearings 65 seat downward on the top-surface of the first retainer 67 and the first ball bearings 65 seat upward on the bottom-surface of the first retainer 67. To realize this, a diameter of each of the bearing holes 671 is less than that of the first ball bearing 65.

The moving rail 70 is provided inside the guide rail 60 to be capable of sliding frontward or rearward along the guide rail 60. Like the guide rail 60 and the fixing rail 50, the moving rail 70 is also formed having a -shape section and extends lengthwise.

In more detail, the moving rail 70 is mounted facing the guide rail 60. That is, the guide rail 60 is opened toward the centre of the storing chamber while the moving rail 70 is opened toward the inner side surface of the storing chamber. The moving rail 70 is connected to a door (not shown) for selectively opening and closing the storing chamber. In more detail, the door is provided perpendicular to the front surface of the main body 1 of the refrigerator. Door frames each having a predetermined length are formed on both side ends of the rear surface of the door. The moving rail 70 is fixed on the corresponding door frame. In more detail, the moving rail 70 is formed having the -section and the vertical surface of the moving rail 70 closely contacts the door frame.

Therefore, when the door slides frontward to open the storing chamber 3, the moving rail 70 moves relative to the guide rail 50, after which the guide rail 60 moves relatives to the fixing rail 50. That is, the moving rail 70 and the fixing rail 60 slide frontward sequentially. A stopper projection (not shown) is provided on an inner-rear end portion of the moving rail 70.

As described above, the stopper projection of the moving rail 70 contacts the stoppers 61 and 63 of the guide rail 60 and thus the moving rail 70 cannot move along the guide rail 60 over a predetermined distance frontward or rearward. That is, the stopper projection of the moving rail 70 functions to limit the moving distance of the moving rail 70.

In addition, a plurality of second ball bearings 75 are provided between the guide rail 60 and the moving rail 70. The second ball bearings 75 are disposed between an inner-top surface of the guide rail 60 and the outer-top surface of the moving rail 70 and between an inner-bottom surface of the guide rail 60 and an outer-bottom surface of the moving rail 70. A second retainer 77 is provided between the guide rail 60 and the moving rail 70 to prevent the removal of the second ball bearings 75. The second retainer 77 is also formed having a -shaped section and extends lengthwise. A plurality of second bearing holes 771 on which the respective second ball bearings 75 seat are formed on outer-top and bottom surfaces of the second retainer 77. The second bearing holes 771 are spaced apart from each other on the second retainer 77.

As shown in FIG. 3, a plurality of catching projections 69 are formed on the inner-top and bottom surfaces of the guide rail 60. The catching projections 69 are spaced apart from each other by a distance identical to that between the adjacent second bearing holes 771 of the second retainer 77. The catching projections 69 function to allow the moving rails 70 to move relative to the guide rails 60 at an identical speed to each other. That is, the second bearings 75 seating on the bearing holes 771 of the second retainer 77 are sequentially caught by the catching projections 69 when the moving rail 70 moves frontward or rearward along the guide rail 60. At a result, the moving rail 70 moves relative to the guide rail 60 by a distance between the catching projections 69 step by step.

The catching projections 69 protrude from the inner-top and bottom surfaces of the guide rail 60 by a height that allows the second ball bearing 75 goes over the catching projections 69 by pushing/pulling operation by a user. Therefore, the height of the catching projections 69 may be properly set in accordance with elasticity of the moving rail 70 or guide rail 60.

The catching projections 69 may be also formed protruding from the inner-top and bottom surfaces of the fixing rail 50 so that the pair of the guide rail 60 can slide in and out at an identical speed.

The following will describe a sliding process of the receiving box by the rail assembly for the refrigerator.

FIGS. 4 through 9 show an operation process of the rail assembly for the refrigerator.

First, in a state where the receiving box is received in the storing chamber 3 (see FIG. 1), the door is pulled to take the receiving box out of the storing chamber 3. Then, the storing chamber is opened by the door and the receiving box starts sliding out.

At this point, the taking the receiving box out of the storing chamber 3 is guided by the rail assembly. In more detail, FIG. 4 shows a state where the receiving box is received in the storing chamber 3. When pulling the door frontward from this state, the moving rail 70 starts moving frontward along the guide rail 60 as shown in FIG. 5.

Referring to FIG. 6, when the moving rail 70 moves frontward along the guide rail 60, the second retainer 77 moves frontward along the guide rail 60. In addition, when the moving rail moves frontward along the guide rail 60 over a predetermined distance, the second ball bearings 75 seating on the bearing holes 771 of the second retainer 77 start sequentially going over the catching projections 69.

Referring to FIG. 7, the second ball bearings 751 located at the right side in FIG. 7 go over the catching projections 691 located at the left side and are caught by the next catching projections 692. In addition, the ball bearings 752 located at the left side are caught by the catching projections located at the left side. By performing this process repeatedly, the moving rail 70 moves frontward along the guide projection 60 by a distance corresponding to the distance between the adjacent catching projections 69.

Referring to FIG. 8, when the stopper projections of the moving rail 70 contacts the stopper provided inside the guide rail 60, the movement of the moving rail 60 relative to the guide rail 60 stops. In addition, as shown in FIG. 9, the guide rail 60 starts moving frontward along the fixing rail 50. The guide rail 60 moves frontward until the stopper projection thereof contacts the stopper 51 provided on the fixing rail 50. As the guide rail 60 moves frontward relative to the fixing rail 50, the receiving box is completely taken out of the storing chamber 3. In addition, when the guide rail 60 moves frontward along the fixing rail 50, the retainer 67 moves frontward.

Meanwhile, the process for pushing the receiving box into the storing chamber 3 is done in an opposite order to that for pulling the receiving box out of the storing chamber 3. That is, when the door is pushed rearward, the moving rail 70 moves rearward along the guide rail 60. At this point, the second ball bearings 75 go sequentially over the catching projections 69 and thus the moving rail 70 moves rearward step by step by a distance corresponding to the distance between the catching projections 69. Further, when the stopper projection of the moving rail 70 contacts the stopper provided on the rear end portion of the guide rail 60, the moving rail stops moving relative to the guide rail 60. Accordingly, the guide rail 60 moves rearward along the fixing rail 50 until the stopper projection thereof contacts the stopper 53 provided on the inner-rear end portion of the fixing rail 50. As the guide rail 60 moves rearward relative to the fixing rail 50, the receiving box is installed in the storing chamber 3.

Although embodiments have been described with reference to a number of illustrative embodiments thereof, it should be understood that numerous other modifications and embodiments can be devised by those skilled in the art that will fall within the spirit and scope of the principles of this disclosure. More particularly, various variations and modifications are possible in the component parts and/or arrangements of the subject combination arrangement within the scope of the disclosure, the drawings and the appended claims. In addition to variations and modifications in the component parts and/or arrangements, alternative uses will also be apparent to those skilled in the art.

For example, in this embodiment, the catching projections are provided on the guide rails and the ball bearings provided between the guide rail and the moving rail go sequentially over the catching projections. However, the present invention is not limited to this embodiment. That is, the catching projections may be further provided on the fixing rail so that the ball bearings provided between the fixing rail and the guide rail go sequentially over the catching projections.

Further, in this embodiment, the rail assembly includes the fixing rails, the guide rails, and the moving rails. However, the present invention is not limited to this embodiment. For example, the rail assembly includes only the fixing rail and the moving rail and the ball bearings provided between the fixing rail and the moving rail go sequentially over the catching projections provided on the fixing rail.