Title:
EXTERIOR COMPONENTS OF HOME APPLIANCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided is an exterior component of a home appliance. The exterior component of the home appliance includes a first exterior component and a second exterior component. The first exterior component defines one portion of the exterior of the home appliance. The second exterior component defines the other portion of the exterior of the home appliance. The second exterior component has a material different from that of the first exterior component. The second exterior component has the same surface pattern as that of the first exterior component.



Inventors:
Koo, Ja Hun (Gyeongsangnam-do, KR)
Application Number:
12/747199
Publication Date:
10/14/2010
Filing Date:
12/10/2008
Assignee:
LG ELECTRONICS INC. (Seoul, KR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/352
International Classes:
F25D23/02; A47B97/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JAYNE, DARNELL M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (DC) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. An exterior component of a home appliance, the exterior component being installed on the home appliance to define the exterior of the home appliance, the exterior component comprising: a first exterior component defining one portion of the exterior of the home appliance; and a second exterior component defining the other portion of the exterior of the home appliance, the second exterior component having a material different from that of the first exterior component, wherein the second exterior component has the same surface pattern as that of the first exterior component.

2. The exterior component according to claim 1, wherein the first exterior component is formed of a metal material, and the second exterior component is formed of a plastic material.

3. The exterior component according to claim 1, wherein the second exterior component comprises: a base on which the surface pattern is processed; and a colored layer having the same color tone as that of the first exterior component, the colored layer being fabricated using a plating or deposition process.

4. The exterior component according to claim 3, wherein a protection layer fabricated by coating or printing a clear pigment is further disposed on the colored layer.

5. The exterior component according to claim 3, wherein the surface pattern of the base comprises a hairline pattern.

6. The exterior component according to claim 3, wherein the surface pattern is disposed on a portion constituting the exterior of the base of the home appliance.

7. The exterior component according to claim 3, wherein the base is fabricated using an injection molding technology.

8. The exterior component according to claim 1, wherein the home appliance comprises a refrigerator.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

Embodiments relate to exterior components of a home appliance.

BACKGROUND ART

In general, the exteriors of home appliances such as a refrigerator, an air-conditioner, a washing machine, and an oven are formed of a plastic or metal material. Recently, such a home appliance has various colors, patterns and textures in order to cater to consumer's various needs and propensities.

The exterior of the home appliance may be formed of materials different from each other. That is, one portion of the exterior of the home appliance may be formed of the metal material, and the other portion of the exterior may be formed of the plastic material.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Technical Problem

Embodiments provide an exterior of a home appliance in which the same texture can be visualized at a variety of different materials to improve a sense of beauty when the exterior of the home appliance is formed of the different materials.

Technical Solution

In one embodiment, an exterior component of a home appliance includes: a first exterior component defining one portion of the exterior of the home appliance; and a second exterior component defining the other portion of the exterior of the home appliance, the second exterior component having a material different from that of the first exterior component, wherein the second exterior component has the same surface pattern as that of the first exterior component.

Advantageous Effects

According to the proposed embodiments, since the exterior components formed of materials different from each other constitute a portion of the exterior of the home appliance, and also are visualized as the same texture, a sense of beauty of the home appliance can improved.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of a refrigerator to which an exterior component of a home appliance is applied according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a dispenser of a refrigerator, the dispenser constituting a portion of the exterior of a home appliance according to an embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal sectional view of a second exterior component.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a process of fabricating a second exterior component according to an embodiment.

MODE FOR THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the embodiments of the present disclosure, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front view of a refrigerator to which an exterior component of a home appliance is applied according to an embodiment, and FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a dispenser of a refrigerator, the dispenser constituting a portion of the exterior of a home appliance according to an embodiment.

A home appliance applicable to an exterior component in this embodiment is not limited. For example, a refrigerator to which the exterior component is applied will be described as an illustrative example.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the exterior of a refrigerator 100 belonging to a home appliance includes a body and a door 120 coupled to the body.

For example, at least portions of the body and the door 120 may be formed of a metal material such as a stainless steel (STS) plate to use natural texture of metal, i.e., STS for an exterior image.

The exterior components formed of the metal material as one example may refer to as a first exterior component. For example, hairlines may be disposed on a portion of the exterior of the exterior component. A surface form or pattern of the first exterior component refers to as a surface pattern.

The door 120 additionally includes exterior components such as a dispenser 200 and a home bar 300 for user's convenience.

For example, the dispenser 200 and the home bar 300 may be formed of a plastic material. In this embodiment, the dispenser 200 and the home bar 300 are processed and fabricated such that them have the same texture (surface pattern) as the first exterior component.

The body includes an exterior component such as a hinge cover 140 receiving a hinge to rotatably couple the door 120 to the body. The exterior component has texture corresponding to that of the first exterior component.

That is, in this embodiment, the exterior components, which constitute the exterior of the home appliance, formed of materials different from each other may be fabricated such that the exterior components are visualized as the same texture to achieve an entirely unified exterior image.

Hereinafter, among the above-described exterior components, the dispenser 200 that is an exterior component constituting a portion of a front exterior of the refrigerator 100 will be described as one example. Descriptions with respect to the dispenser 200 may apply equally to different exterior components such as the home bar 300 and the hinge cover.

Referring to FIG. 2, the dispenser 200 is installed in a dispenser mounting part 160 provided in the door. The dispenser 200 includes a rear bracket 230 providing a space for dispensing water or ice, a dispenser frame 210 disposed in a front direction of the rear bracket 230 to define the exterior of the dispenser 200, and an electronic part 250 disposed in a rear direction of the dispenser frame 210. The electronic part 250 is protected by an electronic part cover 232.

The rear bracket 230 includes a push button 220 which is pushed by a user in order to dispense the ice or the water. The rear bracket 230 includes a gutter mounting part 232 in which a gutter 240 for collecting the water or ice when the dispensed ice or water drops is installed.

For example, the push button 220, the gutter 240, and the dispenser frame 210 may be formed of the plastic material and constitute the exterior components defining the exterior of the home appliance. The exterior components formed of the plastic material as one example may refer to as a second exterior component.

For example, the second exterior component may be fabricated using an injection process. Hairline patterns are formed using an injection molding technology such that the second exterior component has the same texture as the first exterior component formed of the metal material in the injection process.

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal sectional view of a second exterior component.

Referring to FIG. 3, the second interior component (the push button 220, the gutter, and the dispenser frame 210) includes a base 320, a colored layer 340, and a protection layer 360. The base 320 is fabricated using the injection molding technology. A surface of the base 320 is plated or deposited to form the colored layer 340. A surface of the colored layer 340 is coated or printed to form the protection layer 360.

In detail, a coupling position and an entire configuration of the base 320 are decided according to its installation position at which the base 320 is installed in the body or the door 120 and its function. The decided configuration is reflected in a mold. Then, a fluid prepared by heating a plastic material is injected into the mold, and then is cooled to fabricate the base 320.

A hairline part 322 is provided on a portion of the base 320 exposed to the outside in a state where the body or the door 120 is installed.

That is, provided is the hairline part 322 having shapes corresponding to those of the hairline patterns formed of the metal material that is the material of the first exterior component, e.g., the STS material. For this, a process for forming the hairline patterns is also performed on only a portion of the mold corresponding to the hairline part 322.

Of course, the hairline part 322 may be provided on an entire surface of the base 320. The colored layer 340 is further provided on the surface of the case 320. The plating process is performed on the surface of the base 320 using a pigment having a texture corresponding to that of the first exterior component, or the deposition process is performed on the surface of the base 320 using a coating film having a texture corresponding to that of the first exterior component to the colored layer 340 to form the colored layer 340.

A clear pigment is coated on a surface of the colored layer 340, or a protection film is deposited on the surface of the colored layer 340 to further form the protection layer 360, thereby fabricating the exterior component.

Hereinafter, a process of fabricating the second exterior component will be described in detail.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a process of fabricating a second exterior component according to an embodiment.

Referring to FIG. 4, in order to fabricating a second exterior component, a mold fabrication process is performed in operation S100. In the mold fabrication process (S100), a mold having a shape corresponding to that of a base 320 to be formed is fabricated.

Also, in the mold fabrication process (S100), an upper mold and a lower mold are formed to provide an entire configuration of the base 320 according to a position at which the base 320 is installed on the first exterior component (body or door) and a shape of the base 320.

A hairline formation process is performed to form the hairline part 322 on the base to be formed on inner surfaces of the upper mold and the lower mold.

That is, in the hairline formation process, striations are formed on the inner surfaces of the molds such that the base has the texture corresponding to that of the first exterior component.

The mold fabrication process is completed in operation S100, a projectile fabrication process in which a melted plastic material is injected into the molds, and then is cooled is performed in operation S200. As a result, the base 320 including the hairline part 322 having hairline patterns corresponding to those of the first exterior component on a portion of a surface thereof is formed.

After the base 320 is formed, a colored layer formation process is performed using a pigment or a coating film on the surface of the base 320 such that the base 320 has the same texture as that of the first exterior component in operation S300.

That is, in the colored layer formation process (S300), the base 320 is immersed into the pigment having the same color tone as that of the first exterior component to plate the pigment onto the surface of the base 320, or the coating film having the same color tone as that of the first exterior component is deposited onto the surface of the base 320 to form a colored layer 340.

Since the colored layer 340 is formed along a surface of the hairline part 322 formed on the base 320, it is not necessary to perform a process in which separate hairline patterns are formed on the colored layer 340 formed on the base 320.

After the colored layer 340 is formed, a protection layer formation process is performed using a clear pigment or a protection film to form a protection layer 360 in operation S400.

That is, in the protection layer formation process (S400), a coating layer is formed to prevent the colored layer 340 from being damaged from an external impact and scratched. Here, the clear pigment may be coated on an outer surface of the colored layer 340, or the protection film may be printed on the colored layer 340.

When the second exterior component formed as the above-described is installed on the first exterior component, the hairline part 322 is disposed on a portion constituting the exterior thereof. Thus, due to the hairline part 322 and the colored layer 340, the second exterior component and the first exterior component may have the same texture.

In this embodiment, the hairline patterns formed of the STS material are disposed on the base in order to realize the texture of the metal material, e.g., the STS material. The colored layer is disposed on the base including the hairline patterns using the pigment having the STS texture or the coating film. The protection layer is disposed in order to protect the colored layer. However, it may be possible to realize a texture different from that realized with the STS material, and also, it is certainly within the spirit and scope of this embodiment.