Title:
Device for securing chopsticks to dishwasher rack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In accordance with one embodiment, a device to be affixed to an automatic dishwasher rack in order to provide a means by which one can secure a number of chopsticks or similarly shaped items such that the items can be cleaned without risk of damaging either the dishwasher or aforementioned items.



Inventors:
Hamilton, Katherine Ann (Auburn, NH, US)
Minuti, Matthew Dino (Auburn, NH, US)
Application Number:
13/846464
Publication Date:
07/10/2014
Filing Date:
03/18/2013
Assignee:
Minuti, Matthew Dino (Auburn, NH, US)
Hamilton, Katherine Ann (Auburn, NH, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L15/50
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WRIGHT, KIMBERLEY S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Matthew Minuti (Auburn, NH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for holding one or more utensils securely within a dishwasher or any other cleaning or sterilization apparatus, said device comprising of both: a plurality of orifices shaped to hold said utensils; and a clip, clamp, or other fastening means for affixing said device to the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

2. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes, such that in typical use the utensils are held in place by friction; and the fastening means takes the form of an integral clip or set of clips, such that in typical use the claimed device clips onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

3. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes with radial or lateral protrusions, such that in typical use the elasticity of the material aids in grasping the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of an integral clip or set of clips, such that in typical use the claimed device clips onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

4. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of integral clips shaped to firmly grasp the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of an integral clip or set of clips, such that in typical use the claimed device clips onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

5. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in a single part, which when folded or hinged onto itself, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of an integral clip or set of clips, such that in typical use the claimed device clips onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

6. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in multiple separate parts, which when attached to each other, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of an integral clip or set of clips, such that in typical use the claimed device clips onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

7. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes, such that in typical use the utensils are held in place by friction; and the fastening means takes the form of a clamping mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device clamps onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

8. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes with radial or lateral protrusions, such that in typical use the elasticity of the material aids in grasping the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a clamping mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device clamps onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

9. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of integral clips shaped to firmly grasp the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a clamping mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device clamps onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

10. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in a single part, which when folded or hinged onto itself, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a clamping mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device clamps onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

11. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in multiple separate parts, which when attached to each other, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a clamping mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device clamps onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

12. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes, such that in typical use the utensils are held in place by friction; and the fastening means takes the form of a multi-part mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device attaches onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

13. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes with radial or lateral protrusions, such that in typical use the elasticity of the material aids in grasping the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a multi-part mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device attaches onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

14. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of integral clips shaped to firmly grasp the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a multi-part mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device attaches onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

15. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in a single part, which when folded or hinged onto itself, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a multi-part mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device attaches onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

16. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in multiple separate parts, which when attached to each other, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of a multi-part mechanism, such that in typical use the claimed device attaches onto a part of the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus.

17. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes, such that in typical use the utensils are held in place by friction; and the fastening means takes the form of the claimed device resting within the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus, such that the claimed device holds the utensils more securely than had the claimed device not been in use.

18. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of holes with radial or lateral protrusions, such that in typical use the elasticity of the material aids in grasping the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of the claimed device resting within the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus, such that the claimed device holds the utensils more securely than had the claimed device not been in use.

19. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of integral clips shaped to firmly grasp the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of the claimed device resting within the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus, such that the claimed device holds the utensils more securely than had the claimed device not been in use.

20. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in a single part, which when folded or hinged onto itself, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of the claimed device resting within the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus, such that the claimed device holds the utensils more securely than had the claimed device not been in use.

21. A device according to claim 1, wherein: the orifices take the form of matched indentations in multiple separate parts, which when attached to each other, clamp onto the utensils; and the fastening means takes the form of the claimed device resting within the interior of the cleaning or sterilization apparatus, such that the claimed device holds the utensils more securely than had the claimed device not been in use.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

This invention relates to the cleaning and sanitization of kitchen implements, cutlery, utensils, and related objects.

Although dishwashers typically contain a basket for holding utensils, many people have found that the standard size baskets have holes too large to allow for the cleaning of long, narrow utensils such as chopsticks. Attempting to use such a basket, one quickly finds that chopsticks fall vertically partway through and run the risk of damaging either the chopsticks or the dishwasher itself. Dishwasher baskets are available with small enough holes to prevent such damage, but these baskets are generally regarded as an inferior solution, because the smaller holes block most of the cleaning spray.

Each day, countless disposable wooden chopsticks are used and thrown away. Worldwide, wooden chopsticks are preferred for hygiene reasons. Reusable chopsticks tend to be novelty items, in part due to the previous impossibility of cleaning them in the dishwasher.

Prior to the invention of the claimed device, there was no convenient way to use a dishwasher to clean and sterilize chopsticks or similarly-shaped utensils such as skewers and straws. The availability of this device could reduce waste, solve longstanding frustrations, and help prevent the destruction of forests for chopstick wood.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment, a device to be affixed to an automatic dishwasher rack in order to provide a means by which one can secure a number of chopsticks or similarly shaped items such that the items can be cleaned without risk of damaging either the dishwasher or aforementioned items.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts one embodiment of the device described in this patent, with basic features noted.

FIGS 1b and 1c depict side and frontal views, respectively, of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 depicts the device seen in FIG. 1 with a chopstick being inserted into one of the chopstick-holding holes.

FIG. 3 depicts one embodiment of the device with one style of protrusions for holding chopsticks.

FIG. 4 depicts one embodiment of the device with a variant of the protrusions of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 depicts one embodiment of the device with a clip-like mechanism for holding chopsticks.

FIG. 6 depicts the device seen in FIG. 1 attached to an object such as a dishwasher wire rack.

FIG. 7 depicts one embodiment of the device in which it can be affixed to a rack with a two-part clamp, held together by bolts or screws.

FIG. 8 depicts one embodiment of the device in which it can be affixed to a rack with a two-part clamp, held together by interlocking protrusions.

FIG. 9 depicts one embodiment of the device in which it can be affixed to a rack with an integral clamp with a hinge, held closed by interlocking protrusions.

FIG. 10 depicts one embodiment of the device in which the means for affixing it to a rack is a separate part, which in turn attaches to the chopstick-holding part of the device.

FIG. 11 depicts one embodiment of the device described in this patent, with basic features noted.

FIG. 12 depicts the device seen in FIG. 11 with a chopstick being inserted into one of the chopstick-holding holes, and also depicts the device attached to an object such as a dishwasher wire rack.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

First Embodiment

One embodiment of the device is shown in FIG. 1, with side and front projections in FIG. 1b and FIG. 1c, respectively. In such an embodiment, a number of holes (1) are provided in a rigid body sized such that when a chopstick (21) is inserted into one, the chopstick (21) is held in place by means of a friction fit, as shown in FIG. 2. Consideration must be given to the sizing of these holes (1), to accommodate the greatest range of common chopstick sizes available. Due to the fact that many commonly available chopsticks are tapered, with proper hole sizing, the device should generally accommodate a wide variety of chopstick shapes, sizes, and styles.

Most dishwashers have a wire rack of some sort, and there is relatively little variance in the wire diameter of said rack, so if the device has appropriately sized clips (2), a single clip size can allow the device to be securely affixed to such a rack, as shown in FIG. 6. The device can attach to a variety of locations in the interior of a dishwasher, granting a great deal of flexibility in installation. Depending upon the number of chopstick-holding holes (1) in the device and/or the size of the device, any number of clips (2) may be necessary to appropriately secure the device to a rack.

Operation

To use the device, a person wishing to wash chopsticks (21) can insert the chopsticks (21) into the provided openings (1), ensuring the chopsticks (21) are secured via a friction-fit to the device's body, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The device can then be affixed to a convenient location within the dishwasher, such as a vertical or horizontal portion of a wire rack, such that the chopsticks cannot rotate into a position other than desired. FIG. 6 illustrates the device affixed to a portion of a wire rack (61). Operation of the dishwasher can continue as is customary, and upon completion of the washing cycle(s), the device can be disconnected from the rack and chopsticks removed from the device. Depending on the location and ease of access in a particular user's dishwasher, one may choose to leave the device affixed to the rack for convenience.

Alternative Embodiments

Instead of holding chopsticks with a friction-fit hole, the device can have a number of protrusions (31 or 41) within the hole (1) to grasp the chopsticks, as shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4. In FIG. 3, the protrusions have an iris-like configuration, ideally having the protrusions bend towards the walls when a chopstick is inserted, maximizing the surface area in contact with the chopstick. In FIG. 4, the protrusions are straight, bending towards the outside of the device when a chopstick is inserted. Another option is shown in FIG. 5, in which the chopsticks are held against the device body by means of a clip (51).

Instead of a flexible clip (2), a two-part clamp-type mechanism (71) can be used, as seen in FIG. 7. The two parts of such a clamp can be held together with threaded bolts (72), ensuring a higher degree of compression upon the rack than would be possible otherwise. Instead of using bolts (72) to hold the two parts together, a number of other similar parts can be used, such as screws, pegs, or clips.

FIG. 8 shows a variation on the embodiment shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, the two-part clamp (81) has specially-shaped protrusions (82) that mate with cutouts in the opposing piece such that the two parts lock together securely. Such a mechanism can be permanent, semi-permanent, or easily removable, depending upon the shape and accessibility of the protrusion-cutout pairs.

FIG. 9 shows another replacement mechanism for the flexible clip (2); in this embodiment a hinged (93) clamp-type mechanism (91) is used to affix the device to a dishwasher rack. In such a configuration, a portion of the device (92) can fold back upon the device, engaging a slot, clip, or similar locking mechanism, to effectively apply and maintain pressure to the dishwasher rack. In order to fold back as described, a hinge (93) or similar mechanism must be used. Such a mechanism can be a “living” hinge, such as a thin, flexible portion of the device, to allow the device to be produced as a single part. Alternatively, a more conventional pin-type hinge can be used, or some combination thereof.

FIG. 10 shows one example of how the device can be made with two functionally separate parts: one which holds chopsticks, and one which allows for mounting to a dishwasher rack. In this particular embodiment, a protrusion (101) from the mounting portion mates with a similarly shaped cutout in the chopstick-holding portion. Such a configuration may have benefits in ease of use, manufacturing, or reconfigurability.

FIG. 11 and FIG. 12 show an example of the device, such that it could be made from a single sheet of material through a process such as stamping. Because the rack (61) and chopsticks (21) would be mutually parallel in such a configuration, there may be greater flexibility in choice of mounting locations.