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Brevets

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Numéro de publicationUS20010015082 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandeUS 09/748,873
Date de publication23 août 2001
Date de dépôt27 déc. 2000
Date de priorité27 déc. 1999
Autre référence de publicationCN1301893A, CN2505502Y
Numéro de publication09748873, 748873, US 2001/0015082 A1, US 2001/015082 A1, US 20010015082 A1, US 20010015082A1, US 2001015082 A1, US 2001015082A1, US-A1-20010015082, US-A1-2001015082, US2001/0015082A1, US2001/015082A1, US20010015082 A1, US20010015082A1, US2001015082 A1, US2001015082A1
InventeursHiroko Minayoshi, Masamitsu Mihara, Masami Fukumoto, Shinichi Matsuda
Cessionnaire d'origineHiroko Minayoshi, Masamitsu Mihara, Masami Fukumoto, Shinichi Matsuda
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Combination washer - drier
US 20010015082 A1
Résumé
There are provided an outer tub suspended elastically in an enclosure, an inner tub for containing clothes supported rotatably within the outer tub, and a rotary impeller held rotatably on an inner bottom portion of the inner tub. The inner tub and/or the rotary impeller are driven by a motor. A drying blower delivers air into the inner tub, and a heater heats the air delivered by the blower unit. A controller controls operation of the motor, the drying blower, the heater, and the like, thereby controlling each process of washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction, and drying. In the hydro-extraction process, the controller drives the inner tub while also driving the drying blower to maintain delivery of air into the inner tub.
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Revendications(8)
What is claimed is:
1. A combination washer-dryer comprising:
an outer tub suspended elastically within an enclosure;
an inner tub for containing clothes, supported rotatably within said outer tub;
a rotary impeller held rotatably on an inner bottom portion of said inner tub;
a drive unit for driving said inner tub and said rotary impeller;
a blower unit for delivering air into said inner tub;
a heating unit for heating the air delivered by said blower unit; and
a controller for controlling operation of said drive unit, said blower unit and said heating unit, so as to control each process of washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction and drying, said controller activating said blower unit to deliver air into said inner tub, and also driving said inner tub during the hydro-extraction process.
2. The combination washer-dryer according to
claim 1
, wherein said controller activates said heating unit to deliver warm air into said inner tub during said hydro-extraction process.
3. The combination washer-dryer according to
claim 1
, wherein said controller repeats driving said inner tub intermittently during said hydro-extraction process.
4. The combination washer-dryer according to
claim 3
, wherein said controller drives said rotary impeller intermittently while spinning of said inner tub is suspended during said hydro-extraction process.
5. The combination washer-dryer according to
claim 2
, wherein said controller repeats driving said inner tub intermittently during said hydro-extraction process.
6. The combination washer-dryer according to
claim 5
, wherein said controller drives said rotary impeller intermittently while spinning of said inner tub is suspended during said hydro-extraction process.
7. A combination washer-dryer comprising:
an outer tub suspended elastically within an enclosure;
an inner tub for containing clothes, supported rotatably within said outer tub;
a rotary impeller held rotatably on an inner bottom portion of said inner tub;
a drive unit for driving said inner tub and said rotary impeller;
a blower unit for delivering air into said inner tub;
a heating unit for heating the air delivered by said blower unit; and
a controller for controlling operation of said drive unit, said blower unit and said heating unit, so as to control each process of washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction and drying,
wherein said controller activates said blower unit and said heating unit to deliver warm air into said inner tub, and also intermittently drives said rotary impeller and said inner tub alternatively at least during said hydro-extraction process.
8. The combination washer-dryer according to any one of
claim 1
through
claim 7
, further comprising a garments amount detector for detecting an amount of clothes in said inner tub, wherein said controller changes a driving duration or a spinning speed of said inner tub according to amount of clothes detected by said garments amount detector.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a combination washer-dryer having a process of drying washed clothes by delivering warm air into an inner tub containing the clothes.

[0003] 2. Description of Related Art

[0004] In a combination washer-dryer of the prior art, a hydro-extraction process and a drying process are accomplished in a manner as described hereinafter.

[0005] Hydro-extraction Process

[0006] After washing is completed, a drain valve is opened, and water in an inner tub containing clothes is drained.

[0007] Next, a clutch of a transmission mechanism is shifted to a hydro-extraction side, and a motor is connected to the inner tub. The motor spins the inner tub, and extracts water in the clothes with centrifugal force.

[0008] Drying Process

[0009] After the hydro-extraction process is completed, the clutch is shifted to a wash side to connect the motor with a rotary impeller provided in a bottom portion of the inner tub for agitating the clothes and like objects being dried. Then the motor 8 swiftly rotates forward and reverse directions, so as to remove clothes clinging on an inner wall of the inner tub off the wall. Warm air is delivered into the inner tub, while the rotary impeller is kept rotating forwardly and reversely. Under this condition, projections for agitation provided on the rotary impeller catches and agitates the clothes.

[0010] Moist warm air containing water removed from the clothes is sent to a heat exchanger and cooled. As a result, condensation occurs, and the moist warm air is dehumidified. Further, the dehumidified warm air is heated and delivered to the inner tub. Accordingly, the clothes and the like objects to be dried within the inner tub 4 are dried by circulation of the warm air.

[0011] As described, the combination washer-dryer of the prior art dries clothes by agitating the clothes forward and reversely with the rotary impeller while circulating warm air during the drying process. However, it produces uneven dryness, or takes a long drying time, since it lacks ability of moving the clothes between upper position and lower position within the inner tub.

[0012] Although it is desirable to increase a number of the forward rotations as well as the reverse rotations of the rotary impeller in order to shorten the drying time, the agitation tends to make the clothes entangle with each other, thereby increasing uneven dryness and wrinkles. Moreover, it increases damages to clothes due to friction with the rotary impeller and among the clothes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] A combination washer-dryer of the present invention is devised in consideration of the above problems of the prior art, and its first object is to reduce drying time without increasing a number of forward and reverse rotations of a rotary impeller, to reduce damages to clothes, and to decrease uneven dryness and wrinkles during a drying process.

[0014] Furthermore, a second object is to improve a drying performance by facilitating dispersion and evaporation of water contained in the clothes in the drying process, so as to reduce uneven dryness and wrinkles.

[0015] The combination washer-dryer of this invention is provided with an enclosure, in which an outer tub is suspended elastically. The outer tub rotatably supports an inner tub for containing clothes, and a rotary impeller is held rotatably in an inner bottom portion of the inner tub. The inner tub and the rotary impeller are driven by a drive unit. A blower unit delivers air into the inner tub, and the air delivered by the blower unit is heated with a heating unit. A controller controls operation of the drive unit, the blower unit, the heating unit, and the like, so as to carry out each process of washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction, and drying.

[0016] In the hydro-extraction process, the controller drives the inner tub while also driving the blower unit to deliver air into the inner tub.

[0017] Furthermore, the controller drives the blower unit and the heating unit at least during the drying process. The controller also drives the rotary impeller intermittently for a predetermined time period while delivering warm air into the inner tub. It then executes a process of driving the inner tub for another predetermined time period at least once thereafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018]FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a combination washer-dryer of a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

[0019]FIG. 2 is a circuit block diagram of the combination washer-dryer of the first exemplary embodiment of this invention;

[0020]FIG. 3 is an operational flowchart of a hydro-extraction process of the combination washer-dryer of the first exemplary embodiment of this invention;

[0021]FIG. 4 is an operational flowchart of a hydro-extraction process of a combination washer-dryer of a second exemplary embodiment of this invention;

[0022]FIG. 5 is an operational flowchart of a hydro-extraction process of a combination washer-dryer of a third exemplary embodiment of this invention;

[0023]FIG. 6 is an operational flowchart of a hydro-extraction process of a combination washer-dryer of a fourth exemplary embodiment of this invention; and

[0024]FIG. 7 is an operational flowchart of a drying process of a combination washer-dryer of a fifth exemplary embodiment of this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERED EMBODIMENT

[0025] Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will be described hereinafter with reference to accompanying figures.

[0026] First Exemplary Embodiment

[0027]FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a combination washer-dryer of a first exemplary embodiment of this invention. There is provided an outer tub 3, suspended elastically in an enclosure 1 with a plurality of suspensions 2. The suspensions 2 are so constructed as to absorb vibrations during a hydro-extraction process. An inner tub 4 for containing clothes and like objects to be dried is disposed rotatably within the outer tub 3. The inner tub 4 spins around a wash/dry axle 5 having a double-axle structure with a hollow center. A rotary impeller 6 for agitating the clothes and the like objects to be dried is disposed rotatably on an inner bottom portion of the inner tub 4.

[0028] Numerous small holes (not shown in the figure) are provided in an inner peripheral wall of the inner tub 4, and a fluid balancer 7 is provided on an upper part of it. The rotary impeller 6 has a sloped surface 10 around its periphery so as to have generally a shape of pan. In a drying process, the objects being dried receive a centrifugal force due to rotation of the rotary impeller 6. The sloped surface in the shape of pan provides for a function of facilitating the clothes to be blown up easily. Further, the rotary impeller 6 is provided with projections 11 formed on it for the purpose of agitation.

[0029] A motor 8 mounted on a bottom portion of the outer tub 3 is connectable by means of a clutch 9 to the inner tub 4 or to the rotary impeller 6 through the wash/dry axle 5.

[0030] One end of a heat exchanger 12 for dehumidifying moist warm air is connected to a lower part of the outer tub 3 through a circulation-path switching valve 13 and an extensible lower bellows-like hose 14. And, the other end of it is connected to one end of a drying blower 15.

[0031] The other end of the drying blower 15 is connected to a warm air supply path 17 having a heater 16 defining a heating unit, and communicates to the inner tub 4 through an upper bellows-like hose 18. The drying blower 15 and the heater 16 constitute a warm air blower unit.

[0032] The outer tub 3 is provided with an outer tub cover 19 for airtightly closing an upper side of the outer tub 3. The outer tub cover 19 has a supply port 20 for the warm air from the extensible upper bellows-like hose 18. There is also provided on the outer tub cover 19 with an inner lid 21 in a manner to be freely openable for taking in and out clothes to be washed.

[0033] An enclosure cover 22 for closing an upper part of the enclosure 1 has an opening lid 23. A control unit 28 and a water supply valve 25 for supplying water into the inner tub 4 are mounted on the enclosure cover 22. Furthermore, a drain valve 26 for draining water in the outer tub 3 is positioned on a bottom portion of the outer tub 3. A cooling blower 27 is mounted on a side surface of the enclosure 1, and it delivers air to cool the outer tub 3, the heat exchanger 12, and the like located within the enclosure 1.

[0034]FIG. 2 is a circuit block diagram of the combination washer-dryer of the first exemplary embodiment of this invention.

[0035] A controller 29 comprised of a microcomputer controls operation of the motor (drive unit) 8, the clutch 9, the circulation-path switching valve 13, the drying blower (blower unit) 15, the heater (heating unit) 16, the water supply valve 25, the drain valve 26, the cooling blower 27, and so on via a power switching unit 30. In other words, power supply to each of the motor 8, the clutch 9, the circulation-path switching valve 13, the drying blower (blower unit) 15, the heater (heating unit) 16, the water supply valve 25, the drain valve 26, and the cooling blower 27 is controlled independently via the power switching unit 30. Individual processes of washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction and drying are thus accomplished by a variety of combinations of controlling the above units.

[0036] A selection of operation program, a setting of operation start and temporary stop, and so on are set with an input setting unit 31. The controller 29 displays a progress of the selected operation program, a remaining time of the process, and the like in a display unit 32, to inform the user.

[0037] A water level detector 33 detects a level of water in the inner tub 4, and inputs an information of the detected water level to the controller 29. A memory 34 stores data necessary for the controller 29 to execute its control functions.

[0038] A garments amount detector 35 detects an amount of clothes put into the inner tub 4. In practice, the motor 8 is turned on to spin the inner tub 4 for a predetermined time with the clothes placed in the inner tub 4. The motor 8 is turned off thereafter, and the amount of clothes is determined from a change in inertial speed of rotation of the motor 8 or the inner tub 4. The detected amount of the clothes is inputted to the controller 29.

[0039] The controller 29 starts with a hydro-extraction process automatically before going into a drying process, even if the user sets a “drying operation program” for a sole purpose of drying clothes and any such objects to be dried. The hydro-extraction process is automatically executed before going into the drying process, even when the hydro-extraction process is not programmed, that is, in the case the user sets only the “drying operation program” for the sole purpose of drying clothes and any such objects to be dried. In the hydro-extraction process, the motor 8 drives the inner tub 4 while the drying blower 15 is also in operation to deliver air into the inner tub 4.

[0040] In the foregoing configuration, a washing process, a hydro-extraction process, and a drying process operate in a manner which will be described hereinafter.

[0041] Washing Process

[0042] A user opens the opening lid 23 and the inner lid 21, and puts clothes, and detergent into the inner tub 4. When the user turns on a power supply switch 37, and a start switch (not show in the figure) located in the input setting unit 31, the controller 29 opens the water supply valve 25 to supply water up to a predetermined level.

[0043] At the same time, the clutch 9 of the transmission mechanism connects the motor 8 with the rotary impeller 6 through a washing axle. The motor 8 is started, and the rotary impeller 6 begins to rotate. As a result, the clothes are caught by the projection 11 for agitation provided on the rotary impeller 6, and pulled in toward a center area. In addition, the clothes located in a lower-center area of the inner tub 4 are thrust upward to an upper area of the inner tub 4 by the newly drawn clothes. Accordingly, the clothes in the inner tub 4 are agitated by physical force and power of water current effected by the clothes themselves and contacts with an inner wall of the inner tub 4 and the rotary impeller 6.

[0044] Hydro-extraction Process

[0045] After the washing ends, the drain valve 26 is opened and water in the inner tub 4 is drained.

[0046] The clutch 9 of the transmission mechanism is shifted to a hydro-extraction side, and the motor 8 is connected to the inner tub 4 via a hydro-extraction axle. The motor 8 spins the inner tub 4 at high speed. As a result, the centrifugal force extracts water from the clothes.

[0047] Drying Process

[0048] The clutch 9 is shifted to a wash side, and the motor 8 is connected to the rotary impeller 6. Swift rotations in forward and reverse directions of the rotary impeller 6 remove clothes off an inner wall of the inner tub 4, as they stay clinging on the wall after the hydro-extraction process.

[0049] Next, the drain valve 26 is closed, and the circulation-path switching valve 13 is opened. The clothes are then agitated by being pulled with the projections 11 for agitation on the rotary impeller 6, which keeps rotating forwardly and reversely. At the same time, the warm air blower unit consisting of the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 delivers warm air through the warm air supply port 20.

[0050] The warm air blown into the inner tub 4 through the warm air supply port 20 becomes moist warm air, after it evaporates water from the clothes. After coming out from the inner tub 4 to an inside of the outer tub 3, the moist warm air passes through the lower bellows-like hose 14, and reaches at the heat exchanger 12.

[0051] An external air introduced by the cooling blower 27 disposed on a sidewall of the enclosure 1 cools the outer tub 3 and an outer wall of the heat exchanger 12. The moist warm air is thus cooled while it passes by an inner wall of the outer tub 3 and through an inside of the heat exchanger 12. This causes condensation, so as to dehumidify the moist warm air when it returns to the drying blower 15. Circulation of the warm air can dry the objects being dried in the inner tub 4 in the manner as described above.

[0052] Next, an operation of the hydro-extraction process will be described in detail according to a flowchart of FIG. 3, when a “continuous wash-to-dry operation program”, which performs a series of processes including washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction and drying, is set with the input setting unit 31 at a beginning of the operation.

[0053] Step 41

[0054] Make determination as to whether a drying process is programmed after the hydro-extraction process.

[0055] Proceed to step 42 if a drying process is programmed, or proceed to step 46 if not programmed.

[0056] Step 42

[0057] Turn on the drying blower 15 to deliver air into the inner tub 4. Shift mechanical transmission to a hydro-extraction side so as to connect the motor 8 and the inner tub 4 with the clutch 9, while the air is kept delivered. Rotate the motor 8 to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed, to begin the hydro-extraction.

[0058] Step 43

[0059] Proceed to step 44 when hydro-extraction time (t43) exceeds a predetermined time (T43).

[0060] Step 44

[0061] Turn off the drying blower 15 to stop delivery of air into the inner tub 4.

[0062] Return the mechanical transmission to the wash side with the clutch 9 to stop rotation of the motor 8 and the inner tub 4, then proceed to the drying process.

[0063] Step 46

[0064] Shift the mechanical transmission to the hydro-extraction side with the clutch 9 so as to connect the motor 8 and the inner tub 4. Rotate the motor 8 to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed, to begin the hydro-extraction.

[0065] Step 47

[0066] Proceed to step 48 when hydro-extraction time (t47) exceeds a predetermined time (T47).

[0067] Step 48

[0068] Return the mechanical transmission to the wash side with the clutch 9. Stop the motor 8 and the inner tub 4 to complete the hydro-extraction process.

[0069] What has been described above is the operation of the hydro-extraction process, when the “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation.

[0070] If a “dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation, the processes from step 41 to step 44 in FIG. 3 are performed first, followed to execute the drying process.

[0071] According to the present exemplary embodiment, as described, the drying blower 15 is activated to deliver air into the inner tub 4, while the inner tub 4 is spun at the high hydro-extraction speed during the hydro-extraction process. Delivery of the air facilitates dispersion and extraction of water contained in the clothes, thereby improving performance of the hydro-extraction. As a result, there provides for the possibility of shortening drying time without increasing a number of forward and reverse rotations of the rotary impeller 6 in the subsequent drying process, so as to reduce damages to the clothes due to friction with the rotary impeller 6 as well as among the clothes themselves.

[0072] In this exemplary embodiment, the inner tub 4 is spun at the high hydro-extraction speed without delivering air into the inner tub 4, when the drying process is not programmed after the hydro-extraction process. However, the inner tub 4 may be spun at the high speed while delivering air into the inner tub 4, even if the drying process is not programmed. Delivering the air in this way can disperse water contained in the clothes, improve performance of the hydro-extraction, and extract water with a finish of fine appearance.

[0073] Second Exemplary Embodiment

[0074] A combination washer-dryer of this exemplary embodiment has a configuration analogous to that of the first exemplary embodiment. Its sectional view is identical to what is shown in FIG. 1. In addition, a circuit block is also identical to the one shown in FIG. 2.

[0075] A controller 29 executes a hydro-extraction process automatically before going into a drying process, in the same manner as the first exemplary embodiment, when a “drying operation program” is set. In this exemplary embodiment, a drying blower 15 and a heater 16 are activated during the hydro-extraction process, so that an inner tub 4 is driven by a motor 8 while maintaining delivery of warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0076] Next, operation of the hydro-extraction process will be described according to a flowchart of FIG. 4, when a “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with an input setting unit 31.

[0077] Step 51

[0078] Make determination as to whether a drying process is programmed after the hydro-extraction process.

[0079] Proceed to step 52 if a drying process is programmed, or proceed to step 46 if not programmed.

[0080] Step 52

[0081] Turn on the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4. Shift mechanical transmission to a hydro-extraction side with a clutch 9 so as to connect the motor 8 and the inner tub 4, while the warm air is kept delivered. Rotate the motor 8 to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed. This begins the hydro-extraction.

[0082] Step 53

[0083] Proceed to step 54 when hydro-extraction time (t53) exceeds a predetermined time (T53).

[0084] Step 54

[0085] Turn off the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to stop the delivery of warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0086] Return the mechanical transmission to a wash side with the clutch 9. This stops rotation of the motor 8 and the inner tub 4, and proceed to the drying process.

[0087] Steps 46 through 48

[0088] Description will be skipped for these steps, since they are same as the steps 46 through 48 described in the first exemplary embodiment.

[0089] What has been described above is the operation of the hydro-extraction process, when the “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation.

[0090] If a “dry operation program” is programmed with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation, the processes of steps 51, 52, 53 and 54 of FIG. 4 are performed, followed by the operation of a drying process.

[0091] According to the present exemplary embodiment, as described, the inner tub 4 is spun at the high hydro-extraction speed, while the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 are activated to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4 during the hydro-extraction process. The warm air facilitates dispersion and evaporation of water contained in the clothes. It further improves performance of the hydro-extraction, since the warm air circulates easily throughout the entire clothes. As a result, there provides for the possibility of shortening a drying time without increasing a number of forward and reverse rotations of the rotary impeller 6 in the subsequent drying process, so as to reduce damages to the clothes due to friction with the rotary impeller as well as among the clothes themselves. It also reduces uneven dryness and wrinkles due to the agitation.

[0092] In this exemplary embodiment, the inner tub 4 is spun at the high hydro-extraction speed without delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, when the drying process is not programmed after the hydro-extraction process. However, the inner tub 4 may be spun at the high speed while delivering the warm air into the inner tub 4, even if the drying process is not programmed. Delivering warm air in this way can disperse and evaporate water contained in the clothes, improve performance of the hydro-extraction, and remove water with a finish of fine appearance.

[0093] Third Exemplary Embodiment

[0094] A combination washer-dryer of this exemplary embodiment has a configuration analogous to that of the first exemplary embodiment. Its sectional view is identical to what is shown in FIG. 1. In addition, a circuit block is also identical to the one shown in FIG. 2.

[0095] A controller 29 executes a hydro-extraction process automatically before going into a drying process, in the same manner as the first exemplary embodiment, when a “drying operation program” is set. In this exemplary embodiment, a drying blower 15 and a heater 16 are activated during the hydro-extraction process, to maintain delivery of warm air into an inner tub 4, while the motor 8 makes the inner tub 4 repeat spinning and a pause.

[0096] Next, operation of the hydro-extraction process will be described according to a flowchart of FIG. 5, when a “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with an input setting unit 31.

[0097] Step 61

[0098] Make determination as to whether a drying process is programmed after the hydro-extraction process.

[0099] Proceed to step 62 if a drying process is programmed, or proceed to step 46 if not programmed.

[0100] Step 62

[0101] Turn on the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4. Shift mechanical transmission to a hydro-extraction side with a clutch 9 so as to connect the motor 8 and the inner tub 4, while warm air is kept delivered. Rotate the motor 8 to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed. This begins the hydro-extraction.

[0102] Step 63

[0103] Proceed to step 64 when hydro-extraction time (t63) exceeds a predetermined time (T63).

[0104] Steps 64 and 65

[0105] Turn off the motor 8 to stop the inner tub 4. Proceed to step 66 when an elapsed time (t65) after the motor 8 is turned off exceeds a predetermined time (T65).

[0106] Steps 66 and 67

[0107] Turn on the motor 8 in step 66, to spin the inner tub 4. This continues operation of the hydro-extraction.

[0108] Proceed to step 51 when a number of operations (n) repeated for step 66 becomes equal to a predetermined number (n1). Or, return to step 63, if the number of operations is less than n1.

[0109] Step 68

[0110] Turn off the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to stop the delivery of warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0111] Return the mechanical transmission to a wash side with the clutch 9. Turn off the motor 8 to stop spinning of the inner tub 4, then proceed to the subsequent drying process.

[0112] Steps 46 through 48

[0113] Description will be skipped for these steps, since they are same as the steps 46 through 48 described in the first exemplary embodiment.

[0114] What has been described above is the operation of the hydro-extraction process, when the “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation.

[0115] If a “dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation, the processes of steps 61 through 68 of FIG. 5 are performed, followed thereafter by the operation of a drying process.

[0116] According to the present exemplary embodiment as described, the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 are activated to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4 during the hydro-extraction process. Since the inner tub 4 repeats spinning and a pause alternately while receiving blown air, the air either cool or warm can facilitate dispersion and evaporation of water contained in the clothes, thereby improving performance of the hydro-extraction. Furthermore, delivery of the warm air prolongs duration for the warm air to stay circulating throughout the entire clothes, thereby rising a drying temperature and further improving performance of the hydro-extraction.

[0117] With the hydro-extraction as described above, the drying time can be shortened in the succeeding drying process without increasing a number of forward and reverse rotations of the rotary impeller 6. It can therefore reduce damages to the clothes due to friction with the rotary impeller 6 as well as among the clothes themselves. It can also reduce uneven dryness and wrinkles due to the agitation.

[0118] In this exemplary embodiment, the inner tub 4 is- spun at the high hydro-extraction speed without delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, when the drying process is not programmed as a succeeding process. However, the inner tub 4 may be spun at the high speed while delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, even if the drying process is not programmed. Delivering the warm air in this way can disperse and evaporate water contained in the clothes, so as to improve performance of the hydro-extraction. It can also remove water with a finish of fine appearance.

[0119] Moreover, although both the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 are activated to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4 during the hydro-extraction process in this exemplary embodiment, only the drying blower 15 may be activated.

[0120] Fourth Exemplary Embodiment

[0121] A combination washer-dryer of this exemplary embodiment has a configuration analogous to that of the first exemplary embodiment. Its sectional view is identical to what is shown in FIG. 1. In addition, a circuit block is also identical to the one shown in FIG. 2.

[0122] A controller 29 executes a hydro-extraction process automatically before going into a drying process, in the same manner as the first exemplary embodiment, when a “drying operation program” is set. In this exemplary embodiment, a drying blower 15 and a heater 16 are operated during the hydro-extraction process, to maintain delivery of warm air into an inner tub 4. The motor 8 makes the inner tub 4 repeat spinning and a pause alternately while delivering the warm air. A garment untangling process is then carried out by driving the rotary impeller 6, in order to agitate clothes while the inner tub 4 is at a standstill.

[0123] Operation of the hydro-extraction process will be described according to a flowchart of FIG. 6, when a “continuous wash-to-dry operation program”, which performs a series of processes including washing, rinsing, hydro-extraction, and drying successively, is programmed with an input setting unit 31.

[0124] Step 71

[0125] Make determination as to whether a drying process is programmed after the hydro-extraction process.

[0126] Proceed to step 72 if a drying process is programmed, or proceed to step 46 if not programmed.

[0127] Step 72

[0128] Turn on the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4. Shift mechanical transmission to a hydro-extraction side with a clutch 9 so as to connect the motor 8 and the inner tub 4, while air is kept delivered. Rotate the motor 8 so as to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed. This begins the hydro-extraction.

[0129] Step 73

[0130] Proceed to step 74 when hydro-extraction time (t73) exceeds a predetermined time (T73).

[0131] Steps 74 and 75

[0132] In step 74, return the mechanical transmission to a wash side with the clutch 9. Turn off the motor 8 to stop spinning of the inner tub 4.

[0133] Proceed to step 76 when an elapsed time (t75) after the motor 8 is turned off exceeds a predetermined time (T75).

[0134] Step 76

[0135] Rotate the rotary impeller 6 intermittently for a predetermined period of time to start the garment untangling process in which clothes are agitated.

[0136] Step 77

[0137] Proceed to step 78 when the garment untangling process is completed.

[0138] Steps 78 and 79

[0139] Shift the mechanical transmission to the hydro-extraction side with the clutch 9, and turn on the motor 8, to spin the inner tub 4.

[0140] Proceed to step 80 when a number of operations (n) repeated for step 78 becomes equal to a predetermined number (n2). Or, return to step 73, if the number of operations is less than n2.

[0141] Step 80

[0142] Turn off the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to stop the delivery of warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0143] Return the mechanical transmission to the wash side with the clutch 9. Turn off the motor 8 to stop spinning of the inner tub 4, then proceed to the subsequent drying process.

[0144] Steps 46 through 48

[0145] Description will be skipped for these steps, since they are same as the steps 46 through 48 described in the first exemplary embodiment.

[0146] What has been described above is the operation of the hydro-extraction process, when the “continuous wash-to-dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation.

[0147] If a “dry operation program” is set with the input setting unit 31 at the start of the operation, the processes of the steps 71 through 80 of FIG. 6 are performed, followed thereafter by an operation of the drying process.

[0148] According to the present exemplary embodiment as described, the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 are activated to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4 during the hydro-extraction process. The inner tub 4 repeats spinning and a pause alternately while receiving the blown air. Because of the garment untangling process, which is carried out by driving the rotary impeller 6 to agitate clothes while the inner tub 4 is at a standstill, the clothes move their positions, thereby lessening unevenness of water contained in the clothes. This helps the air, either cool or warm, facilitate uniform dispersion and evaporation of the water, so as to improve performance of the hydro-extraction. In addition, the garment untangling process helps the warm air circulate throughout the entire clothes, since the inner tub 4 spins at the high speed while the clothes move their positions in a manner to receive the warm air in different portions. Accordingly, this can further improve performance of the hydro-extraction.

[0149] With the hydro-extraction as described above, the drying time can be shortened in the succeeding drying process without increasing a number of forward and reverse rotations of the rotary impeller 6. It can also reduce damages to the clothes due to friction with the rotary impeller 6 as well as among the clothes themselves. Moreover, it reduces uneven dryness and wrinkles due to the agitation. Furthermore, since it does not spin the inner tub for a long duration of time at the high speed, it reduces the clothes to cling on an inner wall of the inner tub 4, so as to reduce uneven dryness and wrinkles.

[0150] In this exemplary embodiment, the inner tub 4 is spun at the high hydro-extraction speed without delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, when the drying process is not programmed as a succeeding process. However, the inner tub 4 may be rotated at the high speed while delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, even if the drying process is not programmed. Delivering the warm air in this way during the hydro-extraction process can disperse and evaporate water contained in the clothes, so as to improve performance of the hydro-extraction, and to remove the water with a finish of fine appearance.

[0151] Moreover, although both the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 are activated to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4 during the hydro-extraction process in this exemplary embodiment, only the drying blower 15 may be activated to deliver cool air into the inner tub 4.

[0152] Fifth Exemplary Embodiment

[0153] A combination washer-dryer of this exemplary embodiment has a configuration analogous to that of the first exemplary embodiment. Its sectional view is identical to what is shown in FIG. 1. In addition, a circuit block is also identical to the one shown in FIG. 2.

[0154] In a drying process, a controller 29 activates a drying blower 15 and a heater 16, and repeats “N” times, a series of processes that consist of driving an inner tub 4 for a predetermined time period after driving a rotary impeller 6 intermittently for another predetermined time period while delivering warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0155] Operation of the drying process in this exemplary embodiment will be described according to a flowchart of FIG. 7.

[0156] Step 91

[0157] Turn on the drying blower 15 and the heater 16 to deliver warm air into the inner tub 4.

[0158] Steps 92 and 93

[0159] Turn on a motor 8 (in a forward direction) to rotate the rotary impeller 6 in the forward direction.

[0160] Proceed to step 94 when an elapsed time (t93) after the motor 8 is turned on exceeds a predetermined time (T93).

[0161] Steps 94 and 95

[0162] Turn off the motor 8 to stop the rotary impeller 6.

[0163] Proceed to step 96 when an elapsed time (t95) after the motor 8 is turned off exceeds a predetermined time (T95).

[0164] Steps 96 and 97

[0165] Turn on the motor 8 (in a reverse direction) to rotate the rotary impeller 6 in the reverse direction.

[0166] Proceed to step 98 when an elapsed time (t97) after the motor 8 is turned on exceeds a predetermined time (T97).

[0167] Steps 98 and 99

[0168] Turn off the motor 8 to stop the rotary impeller 6.

[0169] Proceed to step 100 when an elapsed time (t99) after the motor 8 is turned off exceeds a predetermined time (T99).

[0170] Step 100

[0171] Proceed to step 101 when an elapsed time (t100) after the start of the drying process exceeds a predetermined time (T100). Or, return to step 92 if not.

[0172] Steps 101 and 102

[0173] Shift the mechanical transmission to a hydro-extraction side with a clutch 9, and turn on the motor 8 to spin the inner tub 4 at a high hydro-extraction speed.

[0174] Proceed to step 103 when a high-speed spinning time (t102) of the inner tub 4 exceeds a predetermined time (T102).

[0175] Step 103

[0176] Return the mechanical transmission to a wash side with the clutch 9, and turn off the motor 8. This stops the inner tub 4.

[0177] Step 104

[0178] Return to step 92 if a number of operations (n) of the step 103 is less than “N”. Or, proceed to step 105, when operation of the step 103 is repeated “N” number of times.

[0179] Steps 105 through 112

[0180] Each of steps 105 through 112 respectively corresponds with the steps 92 through 99. Details of these steps will be skipped, since their operations are analogous to the corresponding steps.

[0181] Step 113

[0182] Proceed to step 114 when an elapsed time (t100) after an execution of the step 105 exceeds a predetermined time (T100). Or, return to step 105 if not.

[0183] Step 114

[0184] Turn off the drying blower 15 and the heater 16.

[0185] According to the present exemplary embodiment as described, a series of processes comprising the steps of circulating warm air for drying, agitating the rotary impeller 6 for a third predetermined time, and spinning the inner tub 4 at the high speed, for the “N” number of times. In other words, the inner tub 4 is spun at the high speed while delivering warm air during the drying process, only after the agitation of the rotary impeller 6 warms up the clothes. This facilitates dispersion and evaporation of the water contained in the clothes widely, thereby improving performance of the drying process.

[0186] In addition, since the inner tub 4 is spun at the high speed while changing portions of the clothes where the warm air is blown at, by way of moving the clothes with agitation of the rotary impeller 6, the warm air can circulate throughout the clothes. This further improves performance of the drying process. Moreover, since the agitation of the rotary impeller 6 prevents the clothes from clinging on an inner wall of the inner tub 4, it reduces uneven dryness and wrinkles.

[0187] In this exemplary embodiment, although the series of processes comprising the steps of delivering warm air into the inner tub 4, driving the rotary impeller 6 intermittently for the predetermined time, and spinning the inner tub 4 at the high speed, for the “N” number of times, this series of the processes may be carried out only once (i.e. N=1).

[0188] A hydro-extraction process preceding the drying process of this exemplary embodiment may be any one of the hydro-extraction processes described in the foregoing first through fourth exemplary embodiments. Or, it may be an ordinary hydro-extraction process in which the inner tub 4 is spun at a high hydro-extraction speed.

[0189] Sixth Exemplary Embodiment

[0190] A combination washer-dryer of this exemplary embodiment has a configuration analogous to that of the first exemplary embodiment. Its sectional view is identical to what is shown in FIG. 1. In addition, a circuit block is also identical to the one shown in FIG. 2.

[0191] In any of the hydro-extraction processes or the drying process described in the foregoing first through fifth exemplary embodiments, a controller 29 changes a duration of high-speed spinning or a spinning speed of the inner tub 4 according to an amount of loaded clothes detected by a garments amount detector 35. In other words, it shortens the time of high-speed spinning, or reduces the spinning speed, if clothes are light. It extends the time of high-speed spinning, or sets the spinning speed faster, if the clothes are heavy.

[0192] Accordingly, this can reduce likelihood of the clothes to cling on an inner wall of the inner tub 4, and reduce uneven dryness and wrinkles, when amount of the clothes is light. It can also improve performance of the hydro-extraction, and reduce a drying time when amount of the clothes is heavy.

Référencé par
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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis68/19.2, 68/20, 68/23.6
Classification internationaleD06F25/00, D06F58/02, D06F33/02, D06F58/00
Classification coopérativeD06F25/00
Classification européenneD06F25/00
Événements juridiques
DateCodeÉvénementDescription
9 avr. 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO, LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MINAYOSHI, HIROKO;MIHARA, MASAMITSU;FUKUMOTO, MASAMI;ANDOTHERS;REEL/FRAME:011672/0774
Effective date: 20010222