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Numéro de publicationUS20080276659 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandeUS 12/149,017
Date de publication13 nov. 2008
Date de dépôt24 avr. 2008
Date de priorité25 avr. 2007
Autre référence de publicationDE602008002626D1, EP1985742A1, EP1985742B1
Numéro de publication12149017, 149017, US 2008/0276659 A1, US 2008/276659 A1, US 20080276659 A1, US 20080276659A1, US 2008276659 A1, US 2008276659A1, US-A1-20080276659, US-A1-2008276659, US2008/0276659A1, US2008/276659A1, US20080276659 A1, US20080276659A1, US2008276659 A1, US2008276659A1
InventeursSang Hun Bae, Dong Geun Lee, Seon Il Heo, Yeon Sik CHOI, Sang Jin Kim, Ju Han Yoon
Cessionnaire d'origineSang Hun Bae, Dong Geun Lee, Seon Il Heo, Choi Yeon Sik, Sang Jin Kim, Ju Han Yoon
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Clothes treating apparatus
US 20080276659 A1
Résumé
A clothes treating apparatus is disclosed. The clothes treating apparatus includes a drum to hold laundry, a steam generating device to supply steam to the drum, a water supply source to supply water to the steam generating device, and a backflow inhibiting unit to inhibit water from flowing back from the steam generating device when the water supply source is removed. Accordingly, the clothes treating apparatus can inhibit or remove wrinkles generated at clothes, and can collect water from the steam generating device after operation of the steam generating device is terminated.
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Revendications(20)
1. A clothes treating apparatus comprising:
a drum to hold laundry;
a steam generating device to supply steam to the drum;
a water supply source to supply water to the steam generating device; and
a backflow inhibiting unit configured to inhibit water from flowing back from the steam generating device when the water supply source is removed.
2. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the backflow inhibiting unit is configured as a water supply hose, the water supply hose having an end connected to a water supply port formed at an upper portion of the steam generating device.
3. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the water supply port is positioned above a highest water level of the steam generating device.
4. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 3, further comprising:
a pump provided between the water supply source and the steam generating device to selectively supply or collect water through the water supply port,
wherein the water supply hose further has the other end connected to an outlet port of the pump.
5. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the outlet port of the pump is positioned below the water supply port of the steam generating device.
6. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the pump is capable of being rotated in forward and reverse directions.
7. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the steam generating device includes a housing formed with the water supply port, and a water pipe having a first end communicating with the water supply port and a second end positioned below the water supply port.
8. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the steam generating device further includes a water level sensor to sense a water level in the housing, and
the water pipe has a lower end positioned below a lower end of the water level sensor.
9. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the steam generating device further includes a heater, and
the water pipe has a lower end positioned above an upper end of the heater.
10. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the housing includes an upper housing formed with the water supply port, and a lower housing mounted with the heater.
11. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the lower housing includes a main portion mounted with the heater, and an expanded portion coupled to the upper housing, the expanded portion having a width larger than the main portion.
12. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the lower end of the water pipe is positioned on a left side or a right side of the heater.
13. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the water pipe is formed integrally with the housing.
14. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the water pipe is extended from the water supply port, and is bent downward.
15. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising:
a water supply unit capable of supplying water from the water supply source to the steam generating device while leaving little water in the water supply source.
16. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the water supply unit includes a pipe member removably connected to a water path through which water is discharged from the water supply source, and a fixing member to selectively fix the pipe member.
17. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the pipe member includes a connecting part removably connected to the water path of the water supply source, and an extended part extended from the connecting part.
18. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 17, wherein the extended part is bent from the connecting part at a predetermined angle.
19. The clothes treating apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the angle is substantially 90°.
20. A clothes treating apparatus comprising:
a drum to hold laundry;
a steam generating device including a housing having a water supply port, and a water pipe having a first end communicating with the water supply port and a second end positioned below the water supply port; and
a pump to selectively supply or collect water to/from the steam generating device through the water supply port.
Description

This application claims the benefit of Korean Patent Application No. 2007-0040316, filed on Apr. 25, 2007; Korean Patent Application No. 2007-0040319, filed on Apr. 25, 2007 and Korean Patent Application No. 2007-0097258, filed on Sep. 27, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a clothes treating apparatus, and more particularly, to a clothes treating apparatus capable of collecting water from a steam generating device which generates steam.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Clothes treating apparatuses are apparatuses for treating clothes through washing, drying, refreshing and other processes. Such clothes treating apparatuses include washing machines, laundry dryers, clothes refreshers, and so on.

Specifically, a washing machine is operated to wash laundry by use of water. In view of a principle of water washing, the washed laundry has wrinkles, and the wrinkles are not removed during a drying process in a laundry dryer.

Thus, in order to remove wrinkles from the dried laundry, a user should iron out the dried laundry.

Besides the washed laundry, when clothes are kept and used, the clothes may have wrinkles, crumples and fold marks (hereinafter, commonly referred to as “wrinkles”). Accordingly, there have been demands for development of devices capable of also easily removing wrinkles generated by common usage and storage of the clothes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a clothes treating apparatus that substantially obviates one or more problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

An object of the present invention is to provide a clothes treating apparatus capable of inhibiting or removing wrinkles generated at clothes.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a clothes treating apparatus capable of collecting water from a steam generating device mounted in the clothes treating apparatus after operation of the steam generating device is terminated.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a clothes treating apparatus capable of inhibiting back flow of water even when a water supply source for supplying water to the clothes treating apparatus is demounted.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a clothes treating apparatus capable of inhibiting erroneous operation of a water level sensor mounted in a steam generating device and damage of a heater.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a clothes treating apparatus capable of using as much water as possible supplied from a water supply source.

Additional advantages, objects, and features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will become apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following or may be learned from practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.

To achieve these objects and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, a clothes treating apparatus comprises: a drum to hold laundry; a steam generating device to supply steam to the drum; a water supply source to supply water to the steam generating device; and a backflow inhibiting unit to inhibit water from flowing back from the steam generating device when the water supply source is removed.

The backflow inhibiting unit may be configured as a water supply hose, the water supply hose having an end connected to a water supply port formed at an upper portion of the steam generating device.

Preferably, the water supply port is positioned above a highest water level of the steam generating device.

The clothes treating apparatus may further comprise a pump provided between the water supply source and the steam generating device to selectively supply or collect water through the water supply port. The water supply hose may further have the other end connected to an outlet port of the pump.

Preferably, the outlet port of the pump is positioned below the water supply port of the steam generating device.

Preferably, the pump is capable of being rotated in forward and reverse directions.

The steam generating device may include a housing formed with the water supply port, and a water pipe having a first end communicating with the water supply port and a second end positioned below the water supply port.

The steam generating device may further include a water level sensor to sense a water level in the housing, and a heater. Preferably, the water pipe has a lower end positioned below a lower end of the water level sensor and above an upper end of the heater.

The housing may include an upper housing formed with the water supply port, and a lower housing mounted with the heater. The lower housing may include a main portion mounted with the heater, and an expanded portion coupled to the upper housing, the expanded portion having a width larger than the main portion.

Preferably, the lower end of the water pipe is positioned on a left side or a right side of the heater.

Preferably, the water pipe is formed integrally with the housing. Preferably, the water pipe is extended from the water supply port, and is bent downward.

The clothes treating apparatus may further comprise a water supply unit capable of supplying water from the water supply source to the steam generating device while leaving little water in the water supply source.

The water supply unit may include a pipe member removably connected to a water path through which water is discharged from the water supply source, and a fixing member to selectively fix the pipe member.

The pipe member may include a connecting part removably connected to the water path of the water supply source, and an extended part extended from the connecting part.

Preferably, the extended part is bent from the connecting part.

To achieve these objects and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, a clothes treating apparatus comprising: a drum to hold laundry; a steam generating device including a housing having a water supply port, and a water pipe having a first end communicating with the water supply port and a second end positioned below the water supply port; and a pump to selectively supply or collect water to/from the steam generating device through the water supply port.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate embodiment(s) of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principle of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a laundry dryer in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the laundry dryer shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a steam generating device to supply steam to the laundry dryer shown in FIG. 1, and a water supply source to supply water to the steam generating device;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the steam generating device and the water supply source shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of the steam generating device shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the steam generating device shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view of an upper housing of the steam generating device shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view of a modified example of the steam generating device shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a partially cut-away perspective view of the water supply source;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of a “B” portion in FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a sectional view illustrating a first embodiment of the pipe member in FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a sectional view illustrating a second embodiment of the pipe member in FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is a partial sectional view of a water supply source in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view illustrating an opening/closing pin and an inner sealing member in FIG. 13; and

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a separation inhibiting member for inhibiting separation of an elastic member in FIG. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention associated with a clothes treating apparatus and a steam generating device mounted in the clothes treating apparatus, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

A clothes treating apparatus includes a washing machine, a laundry dryer, a clothes refresher, and so on. Hereinafter, a laundry dryer will be exemplarily explained. However, the present invention is not limited to a laundry dryer, and can also be applied to other types of clothes treating apparatuses, such as a washing machine or a clothes refresher.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a laundry dryer according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention comprises a cabinet 10 defining an exterior appearance of the laundry dryer, a drum 20 rotatably mounted in the cabinet 10, and a motor 70 and a belt 68 to drive the drum 20.

A heater 90 (hereinafter, referred to as “hot air heater”) is mounted in a predetermined portion of the cabinet 10 to create air of high temperature (hereinafter, referred to as “hot air”) by heating the air. A hot air supply duct 44 is mounted in a predetermined portion of the cabinet 10 to supply the hot air generated from the hot air heater 90 to the drum 20.

Also, there are provided an exhaustion duct 80 and a blower unit 60 in the cabinet 10. The damp air heat-exchanged with the laundry in the drum 20 is discharged outside the drum 20 through the exhaustion duct 80, and the damp air is sucked by the blower unit 60.

For convenience of explanation, this embodiment shows and describes an indirect drive type laundry dryer in which the drum 20 is rotated by the motor 70 and the belt 68, however the present invention is not limited to the indirect drive type. The present invention can also be applied to a direct drive type laundry dryer in which the drum 20 is directly rotated by directly connecting the motor to a rear surface of the drum 20.

Hereinafter, the aforementioned components will be explained in more detail.

The cabinet 10 defining the exterior appearance of the laundry dryer includes a base 12 forming a bottom surface, a pair of side covers 14 vertically mounted to the base 12, a front cover 16 mounted to front surfaces of the side covers 14, a rear cover 18 mounted to rear surfaces of the side covers 14, and a top cover 17 mounted to top surfaces of the covers 16 and 18.

A control panel 19 having various operational switches is generally positioned on the top cover 17 or the front cover 16. This embodiment shows that the control panel 19 is positioned on the front cover 16.

An air inlet 182 and an air outlet 184 are provided at the rear cover 18. External air is drawn through the air inlet 182, and the air in the drum 20 is discharged outside through the air outlet 184. It is preferred that a lifter 22 is mounted in the drum 20 so that the laundry is turned over to enhance drying efficiency.

A front supporter 30 and a rear supporter 40 are provided between the drum 20 and the cabinet 10. More particularly, the front supporter 30 is provided between the drum 20 and the front cover 16, and the rear supporter 40 is provided between the drum 20 and the rear cover 18.

The drum 20 is rotatably mounted between the front supporter 30 and the rear supporter 40, and sealing members (not shown) for inhibiting water leakage are provided between the front supporter 30 and the drum 20 and between the drum 20 and the rear supporter 40.

The front supporter 30 and the rear supporter 40 shield a front surface and a rear surface of the drum 20, respectively, to form a drying chamber, and support a front end and a rear end of the drum 20.

An opening 162 is formed at the front cover 16 to communicate the drum 20 with the outside of the laundry dryer. The opening 162 is selectively opened and closed by a door 164. A lint duct 50, through which the air in the drum 20 is discharged outside, is connected to the front supporter 30, and a lint filter 52 is mounted in the lint duct 50.

A portion of the blower unit 60 is connected to the lint duct 50, and an opposite portion of the blower unit 60 is connected to the exhaustion duct 80. The exhaustion duct 80 is in communication with the air outlet 184 provided at the rear cover 18.

Accordingly, if the blower unit 60 operates, the air in the drum 20 flows through the lint duct 50, the exhaustion duct 80 and the air outlet 184 in order, and is discharged outside. At this time, foreign substances including lint are filtered out by the lint filter 52.

The blower unit 60 typically includes a blower 62 and a blower housing 64. The blower 62 is commonly connected to the motor 70 for driving the drum 20 to be driven.

An opening portion 42 including a plurality of through-holes is formed at the rear supporter 40, and the hot air supply duct 44 is connected to the opening portion 42. The hot air supply duct 44 is in communication with the drum 20, and serves as a path for supplying hot air to the drum 20. For this, a hot air heater (not shown) is mounted in a predetermined portion of the hot air supply duct 44.

The steam generating device 200 is mounted in a predetermined portion of the cabinet 10 to generate steam and supply the steam to the drum 20.

As shown in FIG. 3, this embodiment shows that a water supply source 300 storing water is removably mounted in the laundry dryer to supply water to the steam generating device 200 (the steam generating device 200 is not directly connected to a water tap).

The reason for supplying water to the steam generating device 200 by use of the water supply source 300 is that the laundry dryer having no water washing process is not necessarily needed to be directly connected to a water tap, which might cause increase in installing costs due to an additional water supply hose, control unit and so on.

The water supply source 300 is removably mounted in the laundry dryer to supply water to the steam generating device 200. The water supply source 300 is positioned at the front side of the cabinet 10. Also, a water supply path 210 is mounted in the laundry dryer so as to supply water from the water supply source 300 to the steam generating device 200.

The water supply source 300 is formed with a space to hold water thereinside, and an outlet hole (not shown) at a predetermined portion, through which water flows out to the water supply path 210. The outlet hole is separably connected with the water supply path 210.

Preferably, the water supply source 300 is mounted in a drawer 100 so as to be put in or drawn out of the laundry dryer at the front surface of the front cover 16.

Also, a guide part 110 is mounted in the laundry dryer so as to guide the drawer 100 toward the water supply path 210.

The water supply path 210 serves as a path for supplying water flowing out of the water supply source 300 to the steam generating device 200, and is mounted between the water supply source 300 and the steam generating device 200. Preferably, a pump 120 is mounted in the water supply path 210, so as to smoothly supply water from the water supply source 300 to the steam generating device 200.

The laundry dryer may be designed such that water is supplied from the water supply source 300 to the steam generating device 200 by use of a height difference between the water supply source 300 and the steam generating device 200. However, because standardized components are employed in the laundry dryer and the laundry dryer designed to be compact, an inner space of the laundry dryer is structurally limited. Thus, if the size of the components is not changed, the water supply using a height difference between the water supply source 300 and the steam generating device 200 is, in fact, impossible. In this regard, it is preferable to mount the compact pump 120 in the water supply path 210 so as to smoothly supply water to the steam generating device 200.

Moreover, if the pump 120 capable of being rotated in forward and reverse directions is mounted, there is an advantage such that water is not only supplied from the water supply source 300 to the steam generating device 200 but also can be easily collected from the steam generating device 200 to the water supply source 300.

The reason for collecting water from the steam generating device 200 when the steam generating device 200 is in a non-operating state is to inhibit a problem such that residual water in the steam generating device 200 may be rotten and the rotten water may be supplied into the laundry dryer.

The water supply path 210 includes a connecting port 211 mounted to the guide part 110, corresponding to the outlet hole of the water supply source 300, a water supply hose 213 to connect the pump 120 and the steam generating device 200, and a connecting pipe 212 to connect the pump 120 and the connecting port 211.

As shown in FIG. 4, the steam generating device 200 is formed with a water supply port 501 at an upper portion thereof, and one end portion of the water supply hose 213 is connected to the water supply port 501. Accordingly, the water supply hose 213 connected to the water supply port 501 formed at the upper portion of the steam generating device 200 forms a backflow inhibiting means.

Preferably, the water supply port 501 formed at the upper portion of the steam generating device 200 is positioned above a highest water level (A) to which water can be supplied to the steam generating device 200. This is for inhibiting the water in the steam generating device 200 from flowing back due to a hydraulic pressure and leaking through the pump 120 when the water supply source 300 is removed from the cabinet 10. In other words, since the water supply port 501 is formed above the highest water level of the steam generating device 200, although water remains in the steam generating device 200, a hydraulic pressure of the residual water is inhibited from being exerted to the water supply hose 213 through the water supply port 501.

The other end portion of the water supply hose 213 is connected to the pump 120. Preferably, an outlet port 121, through which water is supplied from the pump 120 to the steam generating device 200, is formed at the pump 120, below the water supply port 501 of the steam generating device 200. Therefore, when the pump 120 is rotated in the forward direction and stops the water supply to the steam generating device 200, water always remains in the water supply hose 213 which connects the outlet port 121 of the pump 120 and the water supply port 501 of the steam generating device 200. The residual water in the water supply hose 213 inhibits deformation or damage of the pump 120, which might be caused by operation of the pump 120 without water.

Hereinafter, the steam generating device according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention will be explained in detail with reference to FIGS. 5 and 6.

The steam generating device 200 has a T-shape overall.

Describing in more detail, the steam generating device 200 includes a lower housing 400 which holds water and has a water chamber 410 mounted with a heater 420 for heating the water, and an upper housing 500 which is provided above the water chamber 410 and has a steam chamber 510 for storing steam generated by heating the water. The lower housing 400 and the upper housing 500 of the steam generating device 200 may be provided separately from each other as described above, or may be formed unitarily with each other.

The lower housing 400 includes a first portion 401 which is mounted with the heater 420 and has a predetermined horizontal length and a vertical length larger than the horizontal length (hereinafter, the first portion will be referred to as a “main portion”), and a second portion 402 which is extended upward from a top of the main portion 401 to be coupled to the upper housing 500 and has a width larger than the main portion 401 (hereinafter, the second portion will be referred to as an “expanded portion”).

Because the heater 420 is mounted in the main portion 401 of the water chamber 410, the relatively small amount of water is held in the main portion 401, and the relatively large amount of water is held in the expanded portion 402 and the upper housing 500. Preferably, the expanded portion 402 is formed to be slanted downward toward a center portion thereof. This is for inhibiting foreign substances such as lime from being deposited to an electrode of a water level sensor 520 mounted in the steam generating device 200.

The lower housing 400 is provided with a drain part 430 through which the water in the water chamber 410 is discharged outside. The drain part 430 is provided with an opening/closing member 431 to open or close the drain part 430. If the opening/closing member 431 opens the drain part 430, the water in the water chamber 410 can be discharged outside. Generally, if the steam generating device 200 is used successively, foreign substances such as lime are accumulated in the steam generating device 200. Since the foreign substances are discharged together with the water when the water in the water chamber 410 is discharged outside through the opened drain part 430, the foreign substances can be inhibited from being accumulated in the steam generating device 200.

The opening/closing member 431 may be configured as a drain cap which is manually handled to open or close the drain part 430 by a user or a repairman, or may be configured as a device which is automatically operated to perform the opening/closing operation. For example, the opening/closing member 431 may be configured as a solenoid valve. Also, the opening/closing member 431 may be formed by using a siphon principle.

Since the steam generating device 200 of this embodiment has a T-shape overall, a horizontal length of the steam generating device 200 can be reduced while the steam generating device 200 holds the same amount of water as a conventional one. Accordingly, interference between the drum 20 and the steam generating device 200 can be decreased.

Moreover, when the steam generating device 200 of this embodiment is controlled to generate the same amount of steam as a conventional one, the amount of water and a time necessary to generate steam can be reduced.

Hereinafter, the upper housing 500 formed with the steam chamber 510 will be explained in detail with reference to FIG. 7.

The upper housing 500 is provided with the aforementioned water supply port 501, through which water is supplied to the upper housing 500, and a steam discharge port 502, through which steam is discharged out of the upper housing 500, at predetermined portions. Preferably, the upper housing 500 has an upwardly-protruding portion, and the water supply port 501 and the steam discharge port 502 are provided at the protruding portion.

The aforementioned water supply hose 213 is connected to the water supply port 501 for water supply, and a steam hose 215 is connected to the steam discharge port 502 for steam supply. As such, because the upper housing 500 has the water supply port 501 connected with the water supply hose 213 and the steam discharge port 502 connected with the steam hose 215, the water supply hose 213 and the steam hose 215 can be inhibited from interfering with other components mounted in the laundry dryer when the steam generating device 200 is mounted into the laundry dryer.

Also, the upper housing 500 is mounted with the aforementioned water level sensor 520 and a temperature sensor 530.

The water level sensor 520 is positioned at a predetermined distance from the water supply port 501. Preferably, the water level sensor 520 is disposed at a deviated position from the water supply port 501 in the water supply direction. This is for inhibiting water discharged from the water supply port 501 from splashing and touching the water level sensor 520, thereby inhibiting erroneous operation of the water level sensor 520.

It is preferred that the water level sensor 520 is mounted adjacent to an inner wall of the upper housing 500 and positioned above the expanded portion 402 of the lower housing 400 rather than above the main portion 401. According to another aspect, it is also preferred that the water level sensor 520 is mounted at a predetermined distance from an inner wall of the main portion 401 defining the water chamber 410.

Such a mounting structure of the water level sensor 520 can effectively inhibit water or bubbles scattered at the beginning of heating operation of the heater 420 mounted in the main portion 401 from splashing to the water level sensor 520 and causing erroneous operation of the water level sensor 520.

Also, it is preferred that the steam generating device 200 of this embodiment has a receiving part 526 which protects the water level sensor 520. The receiving part 526 surrounds electrode parts 521, 522 and 523 of the water level sensor 520, and has an opened bottom.

The electrode parts of the water level sensor 520 include a common electrode 521, a low water level electrode 522 and a high water level electrode 523. The water level sensor 520 senses a high water level or a low water level depending on whether electric current flows between the common electrode 521 and the high water level electrode 523 or electric current flows between the common electrode 521 and the low water level electrode 522.

As described above, the upper housing 500 is provided with the steam discharge port 502 to discharge steam. The upper housing 500 is further provided with a separator 540 at a position adjacent to the steam discharge port 502 so as to separate a specific region, from which steam is discharged outside, from other regions.

When water is heated in the water chamber 410, specifically at the beginning of heating, water and bubbles are scattered severely. The separator 540 inhibits the scattered water from being introduced into the drum 20 through the steam discharge port 502. If water is introduced into the drum 20, stains may be generated at the laundry. Such a problem can be inhibited by the separator 540.

The separator 540 has a structure of accommodating the steam discharge port 502 and permitting steam to flow thereinto. It is preferred that the separator 540 is configured as a partition wall which is formed with openings 545 so that steam passes therethrough.

As described above, water is supplied to the water chamber 410 through the water supply hose 213, and steam in the steam chamber 510 is discharged to the drum 20 through steam discharge lines including the steam discharge port 502 and the steam hose 215.

When the steam generating device 200 is not used for a long period, water in the steam generating device 200 may be rotten. In order to inhibit the rotten water from being used in the steam generating device 200, the water in the steam generating device 200 is required to be collected to the water supply source 300. When collecting the water in the steam generating device 200 to the water supply source 300, the pump 120 mounted in the water supply path 210 is rotated in a direction opposite to the direction in which the pump 120 is rotated to supply water to the steam generating device 200.

So as to collect water existing in a region below the water supply port 501 when the water in the steam generating device 200 is collected to the water supply source 300 through the water supply port 501, the steam generating device 200 is provided with a water pipe 550 which has one end communicating with the water supply port 501 and the other end positioned below the water supply port 501. In this embodiment, because the water supply port 501 of the steam generating device 200 is formed above the highest water level (A) of the steam generating device 200, the water pipe 550 is required in order to remove the residual water in the steam generating device 200.

It is illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 that the water pipe 550 is extended from the top of the upper housing 500. Preferably, the water pipe 550 is formed integrally with the upper housing 500 by injection molding or the like.

It is also preferred that the lower end of the water pipe 550 is positioned below the lower end of the low water level electrode 522 of the water level sensor 520. This is for inhibiting the residual water in the steam generating device 200 after collected from the steam generating device 200 from touching the low water level electrode 522, thereby inhibiting generation of scales on the low water level electrode 522.

If scales are generated on the low water level electrode 522, the water level sensor 520 may be operated erroneously when sensing a low water level by electric current flow between the common electrode 521 and the low water level electrode 522.

As shown in FIG. 6, it is also preferred that the lower end of the water pipe 550 is positioned above the upper end of the heater 420. This is for leaving water to a certain extent in the steam generating device 200 so that the heater 420 can be immersed in water even after water is collected from the steam generating device 200.

The reason for leaving a certain amount of water in the steam generating device 200 is to inhibit the heater 420 from being overheated, when water is collected from the steam generating device 200 at inadequate circumstances or the steam generating device 200 is operated unexpectedly before water is supplied to the steam generating device 200.

The overheated heater 420 may cause a fire or damage of the heater 420 itself or other components mounted in the steam generating device 200.

Preferably, the lower end of the water pipe 550 is positioned on the left side or right side of the heater 420. This is for inhibiting steam or water boiled up by the heater 420 from flowing out through the water supply port 501.

As shown in FIG. 8, the water pipe 550 may be formed to be extended from the water supply port 501 and bent downward. In such a case, it is preferred that the water pipe 550 is provided separately from the upper housing 500 and connected to the water supply port 501. Also, it is preferred that the water pipe 550 is made of a copper material which resists rust.

By providing the water pipe 550, one end of which communicates with the water supply port 501 and the other end of which is positioned below the water supply port 501, water can be collected from the steam generating device 200 while a certain amount of water is left behind in the steam generating device 200, thereby inhibiting supply of steam generated from rotten water to the drum 20.

Further, by positioning the lower end of the water pipe 550 below the lower end of the water level sensor 520, generation of scales on the water level sensor 520 can be inhibited.

Further, by positioning the lower end of the water pipe 550 above the upper end of the heater 420, damage of the heater 420 can be inhibited.

This embodiment of the present invention shows that the water supply source 300 is configured as a cartridge which holds a predetermined amount of water.

Hereinafter, the cartridge used as the water supply source 300 and the water supply unit mounted in the cartridge will be described in detail with reference to the drawings.

FIG. 9 is a partially cut-away perspective view showing the interior of the cartridge shown in FIG. 3, and FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of a “B” portion in FIG. 9.

As described above, the laundry dryer according to the present invention comprises the cartridge 300 which is removably connected to the pump 120. Water is supplied to the cartridge 300 so as to be supplied to the steam generating device 200.

First, the disassemblable constitution of the cartridge will now be explained in detail with reference to FIG. 9.

The cartridge 300 includes a lower housing 310 to practically hold water, and an upper housing 320 removably coupled to the lower housing 310. As such, if the cartridge 300 is constituted by the lower housing 310 and the upper housing 320 which can be disassembled from each other, it is easy to remove contaminants from the cartridge 300 and to separate a filter 330, which will be described later, from the cartridge 300 to clean and reuse the filter 330.

Preferably, the upper housing 320 is mounted with the first filter 330. Particularly, the first filter 330 is mounted to a water inlet part 322 of the upper housing 320 so as to perform first-stage filtering operation for water supplied to the cartridge 300.

The lower housing 310 is provided with a water path 360, through which water in the cartridge 300 is selectively supplied outside. An opening/closing unit 380 (refer to FIG. 13) is provided in the water path 360, so as to inhibit the water in the cartridge 300 from flowing outside when the cartridge 300 is removed from the laundry dryer and permit the water in the cartridge 300 to flow outside when the cartridge 300 is mounted in the laundry dryer.

Preferably, a second filter (not shown) is connected to the water path 360 to filter the water flowing through the water path 360. More preferably, the second filter is removably connected to the water path 360. The concrete constitution of the opening/closing unit 380 mounted in the water path 360 will be explained in detail later.

Accordingly, by using the first filter 330 and the second filter (not shown), impurities such as fine dusts included in water can be doubly filtered out. A water-softening member (not shown) may be provided in the cartridge 300 to soften the water in the cartridge 300. The water-softening member may be removably mounted in the cartridge 300. When hardness of water supplied to the steam generating device 200 is large, the water-softening member serves to remove calcium ions and magnesium ions included in water beforehand, to thereby inhibit generation of lime.

Hereinafter, the water supply unit 340 will be explained in detail with reference to FIGS. 9 and 10.

The water supply unit 340 includes a pipe member 342 which is removably connected to the water path 360 for communicating the interior of the cartridge 300 with the exterior to discharge water, and a fixing member 349 which selectively fixes the pipe member 342 to the water path 360.

The water path 360 for communicating the interior of the cartridge 300 with the exterior includes an inner path 362 (refer to FIG. 11) which is inserted into the cartridge 300 by a predetermined length, and an outer path 366 (refer to FIG. 11) which communicates with the inner path 362 and is extended outside the cartridge 300 by a predetermined length.

The pipe member 342 is removably connected to the inner path 362. Particularly, the pipe member 342 includes a connecting part 343 removably connected to the inner path 362, and an extended part 348 extended from the connecting part 343. The extended part 348 is bent from the connecting part 343, preferably at an angle of 90°.

The fixing member 349 may be configured as a protrusion which is protruded from an outer peripheral surface of the inner path 362, and the connecting part 343 of the pipe member 342 is formed with a slot 350 corresponding to the protrusion 349. When the pipe member 342 is connected to the inner path 362, the protrusion 349 is fitted into the slot 350, and thus the pipe member 342 is fixed to the inner path 362.

In order to inhibit separation of the protrusion 349 from the slot 350, the slot 350 includes an insertion portion 352 into which the protrusion 349 is inserted, and a fixing portion 354 which is extended from the insertion portion 352 so as to fix the protrusion 349. Preferably, as shown in FIG. 10, the fixing portion 354 is formed to be bent from the insertion portion 352. When the pipe member 342 is fixed to the inner path 362, first, the pipe member 342 is put toward the inner path 362 so that the protrusion 349 is inserted into the insertion portion 352 of the slot 350. Subsequently, the pipe member 342 is rotated so that the protrusion 349 is fixed to the fixing portion 354 of the slot 350. Accordingly, unexpected separation of the protrusion 349 from the slot 350 is inhibited. Moreover, erroneous assembly of the pipe member 342 to the inner path 362 is inhibited.

When the pipe member 342 is connected to the inner path 362 as described above, it is preferred that the extended part 348 of the pipe member 342 is arranged perpendicularly to the bottom of the cartridge 300. This is for minimizing a flowing distance of the water moving through the pipe member 342, thereby more easily discharging the water.

To achieve this, it is preferred that when the protrusion 349 of the fixing member is fitted into the fixing portion 354 of the slot 350, the extended part 348 of the pipe member 342 is set to be located substantially perpendicularly to the bottom of the cartridge 300.

In order to use the water held in the cartridge 300 as much as possible, the present invention may be constituted such that the end of the extended part 348 is located as close to the bottom of the cartridge 300 as possible (first embodiment), or the end of the extended part 348 is contacted with the bottom of the cartridge 300 (second embodiment) when the pipe member 342 is connected to the inner path 362. FIG. 11 is a side view showing an extended part 348 a according to the first embodiment of the pipe member 342, and FIG. 12 is a side view showing an extended part 348 b according to the second embodiment of the pipe member 342.

The first embodiment of the pipe member 342 will now be described with reference to FIG. 11. The pipe member 342 may be formed such that the end of the extended part 348 a is located adjacent to the bottom of the cartridge 300 when the pipe member 342 is connected to the inner path 362. In such a case, in order to communicate the interior of the extended part 348 a with the interior of the cartridge 300, as shown in FIG. 11, the end of the extended part 348 a is positioned at a predetermined gap (C) from the bottom of the cartridge 300. Preferably, the gap (C) is set to be 1 to 2 mm, so as to smoothly discharge the water near the bottom of the cartridge 300 through the pipe member 342. However, the gap (C) is not limited to 1 to 2 mm.

The second embodiment of the pipe member 342 will now be described with reference to FIG. 12. The pipe member 342 may be formed such that the end of the extended part 348 b is contacted with the bottom of the cartridge 300. In such a case, in order to communicate the interior of the extended part 348 b with the interior of the cartridge 300, the end portion of the extended part 348 b is formed with a plurality of holes 344. Accordingly, the water in the cartridge 300 can flow into the pipe member 342 through the holes 344, and can be discharged outside through the pipe member 342. Since the end of the extended part 348 b is contacted with the bottom of the cartridge 300, the second embodiment can use a little more water near the bottom of the cartridge 300, when compared to the above-described first embodiment.

In a case where the cartridge 300 is selectively connected to the pump 120 as described above, it is preferable to provide the opening/closing unit 380 which permits the water in the cartridge 300 to be discharged only when the cartridge 300 is connected to the pump 120.

FIG. 13 is a sectional view showing the opening/closing unit provided in the water path of the cartridge according to the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 13, the opening/closing unit 380 includes an opening/closing pin 370 which is mounted in the water path 360 to selectively open or close the water path 360 for communicating the interior of the cartridge 300 with the exterior, and an elastic member 364 to apply an elastic force to the opening/closing pin 370. The opening/closing pin 370 is illustrated in FIG. 14 in detail.

The opening/closing pin 370 includes a moving part 374 and an opening/closing part 372 coupled to the moving part 374. As shown in FIG. 14, the moving part 374 has blades formed in a substantially cross shape. Water can flow through spaces between the blades of a cross shape. Preferably, the opening/closing part 372 is made of a rubber material.

An inner sealing member 376 is provided between the moving part 374 and a blocking wall 367 formed in the outer path 366. An outer sealing member 369 is provided on the outer peripheral surface of the outer path 366.

The elastic member 364 applies an elastic force to the opening/closing pin 370 in the water path 360 so that the opening/closing pin 370 is elastically biased to the outer path 366, and the opening/closing part 372 of the opening/closing pin 370 and the inner sealing member 376 close the outer path 366. As shown in FIG. 14, the inner sealing member 376 is formed in a ring shape. The inner sealing member 376 comes into close contact with the blocking wall 367 by the elastic force of the elastic member 364, and closes the outer path 366.

When the connecting port 211 extended from the pump 120 is connected to the outer path 366, the outer path 366 is inserted into the connecting port 211, and thus the outer sealing member 369 is sealingly contacted with the inner surface of the connecting port 211.

It is preferred that the connecting port 211 is provided with a protrusion at a center portion thereof. When the connecting port 211 and the outer path 366 are connected to each other, the protrusion provided in the connecting port 211 pushes the opening/closing pin 370 toward the interior of the cartridge 300, and accordingly the opening/closing pin 370 is moved toward the inner path 362 against the elastic force of the elastic member 364.

Since the opening/closing pin 370 is moved toward the inner path 362, a space is generated between the inner sealing member 376 and the blocking wall 367, and thus water can flow through the spaces between the blades of a cross shape of the moving part 374 and the space between the inner sealing member 376 and the blocking wall 367.

It is also preferred that the opening/closing unit 380 is provided with a stopper 390 which inhibits separation of the elastic member 364 when the pipe member 342 is removed. The stopper 390 may be press-fitted in the end portion of the inner path 362.

As shown in FIG. 13, if the stopper 390 is fixed in the end portion of the inner path 362, one end of the elastic member 364 is supported by the opening/closing pin 370, and the other end of the elastic member 364 is supported by the stopper 390. Therefore, even when the pipe member 342 is removed from the inner path 362, separation of the elastic member 364 from the inner path 362 is inhibited.

If the stopper 390 is eliminated from the constitution shown in FIG. 13, one end of the elastic member 364 is supported by the opening/closing pin 370, and the other end of the elastic member 364 is supported by the pipe member 342 (not by the stopper 390), as shown in FIG. 11 or 12.

Thus, without the stopper 390, when the pipe member 342 is removed from the inner path 362 to be cleaned or repaired, the other end of the elastic member 364 cannot be supported by the pipe member 342 any more, and as a result the elastic member 364 is separated from the inner path 362 by its own elastic force.

If the separation of the elastic member 364 occurs whenever the pipe member 342 is removed from the inner path 362, the elastic member 364 may be easily damaged or missing. In this regard, it is preferable to provide the stopper 390 in the inner path 362, so as to inhibit separation of the elastic member 364 from the inner path 362 even when the pipe member 342 is removed from the inner path 362.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view showing the stopper 390.

Referring to FIG. 15, it is preferred that the stopper 390 has a diameter a little larger than an inner diameter of the inner path 362 so as to be press-fitted in the inner path 362. Such press-fitting of the stopper 390 in the inner path 362 inhibits the stopper 390 from being easily separated from the inner path 362.

The stopper 390 is formed with an opening 392, through which water can flow.

Hereinafter, the operation of the laundry dryer as constituted above will be explained briefly.

Before driving the laundry dryer, a user dismantles the cartridge 300 from the cabinet 10, and fills water into the cartridge 300. Then, a user mounts the cartridge 300 to the cabinet 10.

If a user operates the laundry dryer to perform a steam supply mode, water is supplied from the cartridge 300 to the steam generating device 200 by the pump 120. The water in the steam generating device 200 is heated, and steam is supplied to the drum 20.

At this time, since the water supply unit 340 is provided in the cartridge 300, the water held in the cartridge 300, even near the bottom of the cartridge 300, can be used as much as possible.

When the operation of the steam generating device 200 is terminated, the pump 120 is rotated in a direction opposite to the direction in which the pump 120 is rotated to supply the water, so as to collect the residual water in the steam generating device 200 to the cartridge 300. At this time, a certain amount of water corresponding to a water level between the heater 420 and the water level sensor 520 remains in the steam generating device 200 by the water pipe 500 provided in the steam generating device 200.

Even when a user removes the cartridge 300 from the cabinet 10, backflow of water from the steam generating device 200 to the cartridge 300 is inhibited by the backflow inhibiting means.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the inventions. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Référencé par
Brevet citant Date de dépôt Date de publication Déposant Titre
US7882715 *4 mars 20088 févr. 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Method for cleaning foreign materials filtering apparatus
US79263104 mars 200819 avr. 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Foreign materials filtering apparatus and washing machine having the same
US7987616 *31 oct. 20072 août 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Laundry machine
US80204134 mars 200820 sept. 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Foreign materials filtering apparatus and washing machine having the same
US80331444 mars 200811 oct. 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Foreign materials filtering apparatus and washing machine having the same
US80377214 mars 200818 oct. 2011Lg Electronics Inc.Foreign materials filtering apparatus and washing machine having the same
Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis68/5.00C
Classification internationaleD06F21/00
Classification coopérativeD06F39/081, D06F39/008, D06F58/203
Classification européenneD06F39/00V, D06F58/20B, D06F39/08B
Événements juridiques
DateCodeÉvénementDescription
15 juil. 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: LG ELECTRONICS INC., KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BAE, SANG HUN;LEE, DONG GEUN;HEO, SEON II;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:021284/0719
Effective date: 20080710