US20110056045A1 - Dirt Cup Latch Mechanism - Google Patents

Dirt Cup Latch Mechanism Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110056045A1
US20110056045A1 US12556712 US55671209A US2011056045A1 US 20110056045 A1 US20110056045 A1 US 20110056045A1 US 12556712 US12556712 US 12556712 US 55671209 A US55671209 A US 55671209A US 2011056045 A1 US2011056045 A1 US 2011056045A1
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Prior art keywords
lid
cup
position
latch
vacuum cleaner
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Abandoned
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US12556712
Inventor
Arnold Sepke
John Morphey
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Electrolux Home Care Products Inc
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Electrolux Home Care Products Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L5/00Structural features of suction cleaners
    • A47L5/12Structural features of suction cleaners with power-driven air-pumps or air-compressors, e.g. driven by motor vehicle engine vacuum
    • A47L5/22Structural features of suction cleaners with power-driven air-pumps or air-compressors, e.g. driven by motor vehicle engine vacuum with rotary fans
    • A47L5/28Suction cleaners with handles and nozzles fixed on the casings, e.g. wheeled suction cleaners with steering handle
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L9/00Details or accessories of suction cleaners, e.g. mechanical means for controlling the suction or for effecting pulsating action; Storing devices specially adapted to suction cleaners or parts thereof; Carrying-vehicles specially adapted for suction cleaners
    • A47L9/10Filters; Dust separators; Dust removal; Automatic exchange of filters
    • A47L9/16Arrangement or disposition of cyclones or other devices with centrifugal action
    • A47L9/1658Construction of outlets
    • A47L9/1666Construction of outlets with filtering means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L9/00Details or accessories of suction cleaners, e.g. mechanical means for controlling the suction or for effecting pulsating action; Storing devices specially adapted to suction cleaners or parts thereof; Carrying-vehicles specially adapted for suction cleaners
    • A47L9/10Filters; Dust separators; Dust removal; Automatic exchange of filters
    • A47L9/16Arrangement or disposition of cyclones or other devices with centrifugal action
    • A47L9/1683Dust collecting chambers; Dust collecting receptacles

Abstract

A vacuum cleaner dust cup having a sidewall surrounding an open bottom end, and a shelf extending from the sidewall. A lid is pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the bottom end and is movable between a first position in which it covers the open bottom end, and a second position in which it does not cover the open bottom end. A latch is attached to the lid and has a contact surface adapted to engage the shelf to hold the lid in the first position. An actuator is mounted adjacent the cup sidewall and is movable in a first direction to move the contact surface of the latch out of engagement with the shelf to allow the lid to move about the hinge to the second position. In some embodiments, the actuator does not apply any substantial force to move the lid out of the first position.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to features for use with vacuum cleaners having a dirt cup. More specifically, the present invention relates to a latch mechanism for release of a bottom lid of a dirt cup to allow access to or emptying of the dirt cup.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • It is well known that some vacuum cleaner types, such as upright and canister type vacuum cleaners, use a dirt cup for collection of dirt and debris. The dirt cup typically is removably mounted to the housing of the vacuum cleaner to allow a user to easily remove the dirt cup to empty the contents thereof or to change an internally mounted filter in the dirt cup. It is also well known that dirt cups employ different configurations to address how the contents, i.e., dirt and debris, are emptied. Some dirt cups use a lid detachably or rotatably mated with the upper portion of the dirt cup. Such a configuration requires the dirt cup to be inverted to empty the contents after removing or opening the lid. Other dirt cups employ a lid detachably or rotatably mated to the lower portion of the dirt cup, which allows the contents of the dirt cup to fall out with the assistance of gravity after the user removes or opens the lid. Other dirt cup lid configurations are also possible.
  • The lid, whether top- or bottom-mounted as described above, typically is secured to the dirt cup in some manner such that it remains in a closed position during the operation of the vacuum cleaner. The lid typically must be released to open it, and can only be opened when the cup is released from the housing. The lid typically is attached to the cup by a securing mechanism, such a latching mechanism, that must be actuated to release the lid. Various types of latching mechanisms are well known in the art. Examples of such mechanisms include, but are not limited to, friction fits, interference fits, bayonet fittings, clasps, hasps, clips, latches, and screws. Ideally, the latching mechanism should be easily manipulated by the user.
  • Some lid latching mechanisms employ a remote actuator that allows the user to actuate the mechanism from a location removed from the lid itself. For example, a cable may be used to remotely pull a pin or move a latch that holds the lid in place. The use of a stick or rod as an actuator to release or actuate the latching mechanism is also well known. The user typically actuates such an actuator mechanism by applying a downward force to the actuator causing the actuator to apply a force to the latching mechanism. This force drives the latching mechanism away from its attachment point or otherwise disengages the latching mechanism, to allow the lid to open, and also applies a force to the lid structure to move the lid away from the dirt cup. Other lid and lid latch actuation means are also known. Such remote actuators may be desired to allow the user to easily actuate the latching mechanism, from a location where it is less likely for dirt in the cup to contact the user. For example, a remote actuator may transmit the opening force from the top of the dirt cup, to open a lid at the bottom of the dirt cup.
  • Often, a hinge mechanism is used in conjunction with a latching mechanism to attach the lid to the dirt cup. This allows the lid to open to allow access to the interior of the dirt cup and allows the lid to remain attached to the dirt cup. The hinge mechanism typically is located opposite the locking mechanism. Once the locking mechanism is actuated and the lid is released, the lid will be supported by the hinge mechanism and remain attached to the dirt cup.
  • Exemplary dirt cup lid mechanisms that include locking and/or latching mechanisms, along with actuators, are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,055,039; 6,192,550; 6,991,666; 7,014,675; and 7,175,682, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • While various prior art devices, such as those described above, are known in the art, there exits a need to provide alternatives to such devices.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In a first exemplary aspect, there is provided a vacuum cleaner dust cup having a cup with a sidewall surrounding an open bottom end, and a shelf extending from the sidewall, a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge. The lid is movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup. A latch is attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, and has a contact surface adapted to engage the shelf to hold the lid in the first position. An actuator is mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, and is movable in a first direction to move the contact surface of the latch out of engagement with the shelf to allow the lid to move about the hinge to the second position. The actuator does not apply any substantial force to move the lid out of the first position.
  • In another exemplary aspect, there is provided a vacuum cleaner dust cup having a cup with a sidewall surrounding an open bottom end and a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge. The lid is movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup. A latch is attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, and is configured to selectively engage the cup to hold the lid in the first position. An actuator is mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, and is movable in a first direction to disengage the latch from the cup to thereby allow the lid to move about the hinge to the second position. An air passage extends through the cup and terminates adjacent the open bottom end of the cup. The lid has a lid opening positioned to abut the air passage when the lid is in the first position. The lid is elastically deformed by contact with the air passage when the lid is in the first position, thereby generating a restoring force that biases the lid away from the first position.
  • In still another exemplary aspect, there is provided a vacuum cleaner dust cup having a cup with a vertically-extending sidewall surrounding an open bottom end, and a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge. The lid is movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup. A latch is attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, and is configured to selectively engage the cup to hold the lid in the first position. An actuator is mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, and includes a first member located generally adjacent the sidewall, and a second member movably attached to the first member. The first member is movable in a generally vertical direction. The second member has a contact surface that is adapted to move in a direction generally perpendicular to the sidewall as the first member moves in the generally vertical direction. The second member is positioned to disengage the latch from the cup when the contact surface has moved a predetermined distance from the sidewall.
  • The recitation of this summary of the invention is not intended to limit the claimed invention. Other aspects, embodiments, modifications to and features of the claimed invention will be apparent to persons of ordinary skill in view of the disclosures herein. Furthermore, this recitation of the summary of the invention, and the other disclosures provided herein, are not intended to diminish the scope of the claims in this or any prior or subsequent related or unrelated application.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention is described in detail with reference to the examples of embodiments shown in the following figures in which like parts are designated by like reference numerals.
  • FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary vacuum cleaner with which embodiments of the invention may be used.
  • FIG. 2A is a fragmented cutaway view of a dirt cup having a lid and lid latch according to a first embodiment, in which the latch is shown in the closed position.
  • FIG. 2B is a fragmented cutaway view of the dirt cup of FIG. 2A, shown with the lid and latch in an opened position.
  • FIG. 3A is a detail view of the lid latch of FIG. 2A shown in the latched position.
  • FIG. 3B is a detail view of the lid latch of FIG. 2A shown in the unlatched position, but with the lid still closed.
  • FIG. 4A is a detail view of an alternative lid latch assembly according to an alternative exemplary embodiment, shown in the latched position.
  • FIG. 4B is a detail view of the lid latch assembly of FIG. 4A, shown partially actuated.
  • FIG. 4C is a detail view of the lid latch assembly of FIG. 4A, shown in the unlatched position, but with the lid still closed.
  • FIG. 5 is a fragmented isometric view of one exemplary embodiment of the bottom of the outlet air passage of the dirt cup assembly of FIG. 2A.
  • FIG. 6 is a fragmented isometric view of an alternative exemplary embodiment of a bottom of the outlet air passage of the dirt cup assembly of FIG. 2A.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTIONS
  • The present disclosure provides numerous inventive features relating to a latch mechanism. The latch mechanism may be used as a feature for a dirt cup for a vacuum cleaner. Accordingly, the latch mechanism may be configured to release a bottom lid of a vacuum cleaner dirt cup. While the embodiments of latch mechanisms described herein are provided in the context of a dirt cup for a vacuum cleaner, the invention may be used in other applications where a lid or other closure requires are latching and/or releasing mechanism. In addition, various features and alternative embodiments of the invention are described with reference to their exemplary use in certain particular embodiments, but it will be readily appreciated that the features could alternatively be mixed in other combinations in other embodiments. Furthermore, the various features described herein may be used separately from one another or in any suitable combination. The invention includes the foregoing and other variations, as will be appreciated by persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the present disclosure. The present disclosure illustrating various exemplary embodiments is not intended to limit the invention in any way.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a typical upright vacuum cleaner 10 with which embodiments of the present invention may be used. The vacuum cleaner 10 includes a base 12 that is supported by wheels 14 at the rear, and wheels (not shown) or another support surface at the front. The base 12 includes a downwardly-facing inlet nozzle 13, as well know in the art. The base 12 may include a height adjustment mechanism 16, as known in the art. A rear housing 17 is pivotally connected to the base 12. The rear housing includes a grip 20 for directing the vacuum cleaner 10, and may include a suction hose 22 for cleaning off the floor, a post-motor filter 24, and a dirt cup assembly 19 comprising a lid 58 and a cup 18. A filter 26, located within the cup, fluidly covers an outlet passage 28 that passes through the middle of the cup 18 to direct air downward to the inlet of a vacuum fan (not shown). The dirt cup assembly 19, including the lid 58 and cup 18, may be removably connected to the remainder of the rear housing 17. Alternatively, only the cup 18 may be removable. Vacuum cleaners of this and other types are known in the art, and shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,829,804 and 7,544,244, which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • It will be understood that other embodiments of the invention may be used in the foregoing or other kinds of upright vacuum cleaner, or in autonomous vacuums, canister vacuum cleaners, central vacuum cleaners, and so on. In autonomous vacuums, the dirt cup and inlet nozzle are mounted on a vehicle frame, and in canister and central vacuum cleaners, the base is replaced by an inlet nozzle that is connected to a suction source and dirt receptacle by a flexible hose, as opposed to a pivoting joint. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,781,960, 5,813,085 and 6,502,277 provide examples of such devices, and are incorporated herein.
  • A first exemplary embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B, which illustrate a removable dirt collection assembly 200 for a vacuum cleaner. The assembly 200 includes a dirt cup 202, that is closed at the top by a filter basket 204 and a removable upper cover 206. The dirt cup 202 may be, but is not required to be, generally, cylindrical. The dirt cup 202 is illustrated with a portion of its central region removed to make the illustration more compact, but it will be understood that the dirt cup 202 may have any suitable length. The bottom of the dirt cup 202 is closed by a lid 208, such as described below. The filter basket 204 includes an air outlet passage 210 that directs cleaned air to a central hole 212 through the lid 208. The outlet passage 210 may include a cage 211 that protrudes from the lower end, such as shown in FIG. 5. In such an embodiment, the cage 211 protrudes into the lid hole 212, as shown in FIG. 2A, which helps center the parts and also prevents large particles or objects from passing through the hole 212. A seal seat 213 may surround the cage 211 to receive a seal 236 such as the ones discussed below. In an alternative embodiment, such as shown in FIG. 6, the cage 211 may be replaced by a simple cylindrical or tapered section 602 that extends from the bottom of the outlet passage 210 to help center the outlet passage 210 in the hole 212. It is believed that providing a protrusion on the outlet passage 210 is beneficial to help align the various parts, and will help prevent assembly when the parts are misaligned, which could result in poor performance and the ingestion of dirt directly into the vacuum fan (not shown). In addition, the use of a protrusion facilitates the use of a bottom lid 208 having a flat interior (i.e., dirt-facing) surface, which is useful to help prevent dirt from clinging to the lid 208 when it is opened for emptying. Although these features are useful, they are not necessary in all embodiments, and in other embodiments a cage, cylindrical tapered section, or other structure to help orient the parts may not be provided.
  • A filter 214 is provided in the filter basked 204 to cover the air outlet passage 210. In this exemplary dirt collection assembly 200, the air enters the dirt cup 202, swirls around the filter basket in a cyclonic manner, and eventually passes through a perforated wall 204 a of the filter basket 204, passes through the filter 214, and then exits via the air outlet passage 210. In other embodiments, other filtration systems may be used, as known in the art.
  • As noted above, the dirt cup 202 and dirt collection assembly 200 may be part of an upright, canister, central or any other type of vacuum cleaner as is well known in the art. In other embodiments, only the dirt cup 202 may be removable, and the lid 206, filter basket 204 (if used) and outlet 210 (if used) may remain in place on the cleaner, or be removable with the dirt cup 202.
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B show, in greater detail, a latch assembly 300 that may be used with the foregoing dirt cup 202 and bottom lid 208, or with other embodiments of the invention. The exemplary latch assembly 300 includes an actuator 216, a latch 218, and a shelf 220. The actuator 216 may be located generally adjacent to an exterior surface of the cup sidewall. The actuator 216 is mounted such that it may slide along the length of the cup 202 towards the lid 208. The actuator 216 may be constrained to prevent it from moving away from the cup sidewall, or in directions other than generally towards and away from the lid 208. For example, the actuator 216 may be mounted within one or more sleeves 218 that are attached to or integrally formed with the sidewall 112. It should be appreciated that the actuator 216 may be mounted to the cup 202 in a variety of configurations and locations. A remote actuating mechanism, such as a remote button 219 formed on the end of the actuator 216, a series of levers or abutting rods, a cable, and so on, may be employed with the actuator 216. A spring 222 may be provided to bias the actuator 216 away from the lid 208 and into a resting position during periods of nonuse.
  • The latch 218 may be located generally vertically below a lower end 224 of the actuator 216. The exemplary latch 218 has a head 226 which may optionally have a generally triangular cross section, such as shown. In the exemplary embodiment, the head 226 has a contact surface 228 (see FIG. 3B). The contact surface 228 rests against the shelf 220 to hold the latch 218 in place adjacent the dirt cup 202. The contact surface 228 and shelf 220 preferably are arranged to be flat against one another, but this is not strictly required. In addition the shelf 220 and/or the contact surface 228 may be inclined so that the latch 218 will release—rather than break—if a user pulls downward on the lid 208 without first attempting to release the latch 218. The shelf 220 may be formed as part of the cup sidewall, formed separately and attached to the cup 202, or detachably mounted to the cup 202.
  • The latch 218 is attached to one side of the lower lid 208. At the other side, the lid 208 may be pivotally attached to the dirt cup 202 by a hinge 230. Thus formed, the lid 208 provides a pivoting door through which contents of the dirt cup 202 can be released. In such an embodiment, the door 208 is pivotally mounted at one side of the dirt cup 202 by the hinge 230 (which may comprise any suitable hinge, such as a simple pin in a hole, as known in the art), and secured in sealing contact with the bottom edge of the dirt cup 202 by the latch 218. The hinge 230 preferably is remote from the latch 218, to provide at least two spaced connection points between the lid 208 and the cup 202. For example, the hinge may be located on the opposite side of the cup 202 as the latch 218. Of course, more than one latch may be used, and the latch or latches need not be directly opposite the hinge 230.
  • In the closed position shown in FIGS. 2A and 3A, the latch 218 engages the shelf 220, and a friction and/or vector forces keep the latch 218 in place and the lid closed. When a user desires to open the lid, the latch 218 must be disengaged from contact with the shelf 220. To do so, the actuator 216 is urged towards the latch 218 by the user exerting a downward force directly upon the actuator 216, which may be done via the actuator button 219 or other any other suitable operating mechanism. As the actuator 216 is urged downward, its lower end 224 contacts the head 226 of the latch 218. As can best be seen in FIG. 3A, the head 226 may have an inclined surface 302. The lower end 224 of the actuator 216 may have a rounded or beveled shape that slides on the inclined surface 302, but it is more preferable for the end 224 of the actuator 216 to be essentially squared off so that only an edge or relatively small surface of the actuator 216 contacts the inclined surface 302. Upon further downward movement, the lower end 224, the actuator 216 wedges between the dirt cup 202 and the inclined surface 302, translating the downward force of the actuator 216 into horizontal movement of the latch 218. This movement flexes the latch 218 outwards axially with respect to the axis of the dirt cup 302, and approximately perpendicular to the direction of movement of the actuator 216. FIG. 3B is an exemplary illustration of this motion. In this Figure, Arrow D1 shows the general direction of movement of the actuator 216, and Arrow D2 shows the general direction of movement of the latch 218. The amount of force required to flex the latch 218 may be modified by adjusting the shape of the hinge 218, as will be appreciated by persons of ordinary skill in the art. While the illustrated latch 218 uses a living hinge (i.e., a flexible portion that allows pivoting movement), it will be understood that the latch 218 may include a true mechanical pivot having a pivot pin and a spring to bias the latch 218 into the latched position.
  • Once the actuator 216 is fully depressed, as illustrated in FIG. 3B, the actuator's lower end 224 rests upon the shelf 220. At this point, the latch 218, specifically the head 226, is flexed outward and beyond face contact with the shelf 220, and the lid 208 is free to open. In addition, if the actuator 216 is approximately the same width as the shelf 220, it will apply no further opening force to the latch 218. In such an embodiment, the actuator 216 generally only applies a force to disengage the latch 218 that holds the lid closed, but does not apply any force to actually open the lid 208. In such an embodiment, other forces, such as gravity or the resilient forces described further below apply all of the force necessary to open the lid 208.
  • A perimeter seal 232, mounted around the circumference of the door 208 (or to the bottom edge of the dirt cup 202), may be provided to help prevent dirt and air from passing between the lid 208 and the dirt cup 202. The seal may be constructed of any suitable material, such as rubber, silicone, flexible plastic, and so on. Releasing the latch 218 provides a way to empty the dirt cup 202 of collected dirt and dust. The perimeter seal 232 may seal between the parts in any suitable way. For example, as shown, the seal 232 may include a compression seal 232 a that is compressed axially between the cup 202 and lid 208 by the force of pressing the lid 208 in place, and a wiping or lip seal 232 b that slides against the inner wall of the dirt cup 202 and is compressed thereto when the lid 208 is closed. Perimeter sealing arrangements such as these are known in the art. It has been found, however, that typical perimeter seals, and other kinds of dirt cup lid seal, often tend to bind the lid to the cup, making it difficult to open the lid to empty the dirt cup. It is believed that part of this binding force is caused by tactile adhesion between the seal and the cup, and another part of this binding force is caused by the tendency of the lip seal 232 b to expand against the inner wall of the cup 202, and slide along the cup wall over a distance before the lid 208 can pivot freely with respect to the cup 202.
  • To address the problem with seals and debris holding the lid closed, in many instances, the prior art has provided a pushrod-type actuator that not only disengages the latch that holds the lid in place, but also pushes against the lid to drive it open against the binding forces applied by the lid seal(s). Such designs typically require the user to drive the actuator through an additional distance to complete the opening procedure, which may result in a failed attempt to open the lid if the user does not fully depress the actuator through its relatively long travel path. In addition, in such systems the user may apply the opening force too slowly to overcome the friction between the seal and the cup (which can be exacerbated by the presence of dirt that helps bind the seal), resulting in a failed opening. Conversely, the user may apply the opening force too quickly or with too great a force, potentially opening the lid in such a way that the dirt in the cup escapes with less control than may be desired. The additional travel distance required for the actuating rod can be lesser or greater, depending on the circumstances, but it is believed that the use of lip seals that contact the inner walls of the dirt cup require a greater travel distance for the pushrod to continue applying force until the lip seal is finally clear of the cup walls.
  • In order to alleviate the need for the user to manually apply a force to open the cup lid, the actuator 216 may be only wide enough to move the latch 218 out of engagement with the cup 202, but not shaped to apply any downward force on the lid 208 after the latch 218 is released, such as described above. In such a case, gravity or other forces may be relied upon to open the lid 208 against friction forces that hold the lid 208 closed, but the friction generated by lip seals is expected, in most instances, to hold the lid 208 closed even against gravity. Thus, and additional force may be needed to successfully and reliable open the lid 208. In one embodiment, a spring (not shown), such as the spring 222 used to bias the actuator 216 to its inactive position, may be located between the lid 208 and the cup 202 to force the lid 208 open once the latch 218 is clear of the shelf 220. In embodiments in which a central air passage 210 directs the air through an outlet opening 212 through the lid 208, additional provisions may be made to apply a force to open the lid 208. For example, in the shown embodiment, the outlet passage 210 includes a compression seal 236 that seals between the outlet passage 210 and the lid 208. This seal 236 may be formed on either the passage 210 or the lid 208, and is shown in the exemplary embodiment being formed on the passage 210. The compression seal 236 and perimeter seal 232 may be molded of a flexible thermoplastic elastomer that retains its “as-molded” memory of shape. Thus, when the lid 208 is closed, the seals 232, 236 are compressed to generate restoring forces that tend to drive the lid 208 away from the cup 202 as soon as the latch 218 is released. Thus, according to this exemplary embodiment, the seals 232, 236 are designed to function as springs, exerting a spring force against the closure members following compression thereof. When the latch 218 is released, the seals 232, 236 (or either one of the seals, if only one is used), drives the lid 208 open to allow the cup's contents to be emptied and to allow the user to perform other functions that require access to the interior of the dirt cup, such as replacing a filter contained in the dirt cup. Preferably, the opening force generated by the seals 232, 236 is applied over a sufficient distance to move the lid 208 until at least the portion of any lip seal opposite the hinge is clear of the cup to help ensure the lid opening. This is illustrated in FIG. 2B, which shows the side of the compression seal 236 surrounding the outlet passage 210 still in contact with and thus applying a restoring force to the lid 208, until the perimeter seal 232 is fully clear of the cup 202 at a location opposite the hinge 230.
  • The restoring force generated by the seals 232, 236 also may apply a downward force to the latch 218 when the lid 208 is closed, generating friction between the shelf 220 and the latching surface 228 to assist in keeping the lid 208 securely closed.
  • While exemplary embodiments may work effectively as described above, due to manufacturing tolerances of the parts, potential wear of components over repeated release operations, and interference that may be caused by dirt, a release handle 234 (shown only in FIG. 2A) may be added to the outer edge of the dirt cup lid 208. Such a handle 234 may be positioned anywhere on the lid 208, but preferably is located where forces applied to the handle 234 tend to move the latch 218 out of engagement with the shelf 220 before opening the lid 208. For example, as shown in FIG. 2A, the handle 234 is located on the latch 218, so that a downward force on the latch 218 will tend to rotate the latch 218 out of engagement with the shelf 220. In the event the actuator 216 does not force the latch 218 beyond the shelf 220, or if the restoring force in the seals 232, 236 is insufficient to overcome friction to open the lid 208, the handle 234 allows the user to open the lid. The handle 234 also may be used to assist in closing and securing the lid.
  • In other exemplary embodiments, the outlet passage 210 (or its seal 236) may be formed such that it contacts the lid 208 at a point where the lid 208 must be elastically deformed somewhat in order to engage the latch 218 with the shelf 210. Doing so generates a restoring force in the lid 208, effectively converting the lid 208 into a spring that tends to open itself as the latch 218 is released. The location of such deformation can be controlled by providing flexible regions in the lid, 208, such as a relatively flexible annular ring surrounding the outlet 212, and the effect of such flexing on the establishment of a suitable perimeter seal between the cup 202 and the lid 208 should be considered when using such an embodiment. In addition, in such an embodiment, or in any embodiment in which a restoring force is generated in the parts, consideration should be given to whether the restoring force will diminish with repeated engagements and disengagements of the latch, and whether such forces will induce creep or cold flow in the material during long storage periods. Where stored restoring forces are great, materials that resist cold flow or creep may be preferred.
  • A further exemplary embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4C, which illustrate an alternative latch assembly 400 that may be used in the foregoing or any other suitable dirt cup. As with the latch previously described, the latch assembly 400 of FIGS. 4A and 4B holds a lid 408 in place against a dirt cup 402. FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate the latch assembly 400 in a latched position in which it holds a lid 408 closed. FIG. 4C illustrates the latch assembly 400 in a disengaged position, in which the lid 408 is free to open under a suitable force, such as the force of gravity, a spring, restoring forces in seals, and so on.
  • The exemplary latch assembly 400 includes a cup 402, an actuator 416, a latch 418, a shelf 420, and a compressible lip seal 432. The cup 402 may have any shape, such as generally cylindrical, with a top plane and a bottom plane. The bottom plane is covered by a lid 408. As with the previous embodiment, the actuator 416 may be located adjacent an exterior surface the cup 402, and mounted to slide toward the lid 408. As before, the latch 418 may be attached to the lid and have a head 426 that contacts the shelf 420.
  • In the embodiment of FIGS. 4A-4C, the lower end 424 of the actuator 416 is narrower than the shelf 420. Although the actuator 416 may be moved between the cup wall and the latch head 426, it is not wide enough, alone, to displace the head 426 far enough to disengage it from the shelf 420. To provide the force necessary to move the head 426 out of engagement with the shelf 420, a cam 430 is pivotally connected to the bottom of the actuator 416. The cam 430 may be positioned between two legs (only one is visible in the cross-section view of the Figures) depending from the bottom of the actuator 416, and pivotally mounted on a shaft 434 that extends between the two legs, but other suitable pivoting arrangements may be used. The cam 416 may be molded of a low surface tension plastic, such as acetal, or any other suitable material like metal or other plastics. The cam 416 may be designed to rotate through a limited range of motion, so that it does not move into a position in which it does not operate as described below. Rotation travel stops, as are well-known in the art, may be provided for this purpose. According to exemplary embodiments, the cam 416 is designed to rotate through an approximately 45 degree range of motion during normal operation of the latch mechanism as shown and described.
  • As shown in FIG. 4A, the cam 430 includes a radial protrusion 432 that extends further from the cam's pivot axis than other parts of the cam 430. When the actuator 416 is in its resting position above the latch head 426 as shown in FIG. 4A, the protrusion extends generally towards the head 426, but hangs at a downward angle. As the actuator 416 is moved downward, the cam protrusion 426 eventually contacts the head 426 and may begin moving the head 426 away from the cup 402, such as shown in FIG. 4B. The angles of the contact surfaces between the protrusion 432 and head 426 are selected such that friction between these parts does not cause the cam 430 to rotate towards the head 426 until the cam protrusion 432 (or some other part of the cam 430) contacts the shelf 420. Once the cam 430 contacts the shelf 420, contact between the cam protrusion 432 and the shelf 420 causes the cam 430 to rotate towards the latch head 426 (counterclockwise in these Figures). Further downward movement of the actuator 416 causes the cam 430 to continue to rotate until the protrusion 432 has pushed the latch head 426 clear of the shelf 420, such as shown in FIG. 4C. At this point, the lid 408 may be opened by gravity or other forces, such as forces generated by springs, seals or part flexure, as described above.
  • It will be appreciated that using the foregoing mechanism, the vertical force applied to move the actuator 416 downward is entirely converted into a lateral force by the time the actuator 416 bottoms out on the shelf 420. This prevents the actuator 416 from applying any downward force to the latch 418 that would tend to move the lid 408 from the closed position to the open position. Instead, the opening force must be provided by other means, such as gravity, springs, stored restoring forces in elastic members, and so on. While such force isolation is preferred, it is not strictly necessary in all embodiments, and it is expected that a cam such as the one disclosed may be used to apply an opening force in other alternative embodiments.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the actuator 416 may be sized such that it contacts the head, instead of the cam 430 contacting the head, until contact with the shelf 420 rotates the cam 430 towards the head 426. In other embodiments, the cam may be replaced by a flexible end of the actuator. In still other embodiments, the cam maybe replaced by a separate part that expands laterally when it is pressed vertically by the actuator 416, such as a an expanding “scissor” linkage or a pneumatic chamber that expands laterally when pressed vertically. Such a separate part (or even the illustrated cam), may be mounted on the cup 402, instead of the actuator 416. In still another embodiment, the cam may be replaced by wedge or other moving member that is interposed between the cup sidewall and the latch head and applies a force perpendicular to the cup wall to move the latch out of engagement with the shelf.
  • The present disclosure describes a number of new, useful and nonobvious features and/or combinations of features that may be used alone or together with cyclonic vacuum cleaners and other kinds of suction cleaning devices having a dirt cup to hold collected dirt and debris. The embodiments described herein are all exemplary, and are not intended to limit the scope of the inventions in any way. It will be appreciated that the inventions described herein can be modified and adapted in various ways and for different uses. For example, the latching mechanism and actuator may be located inside the dirt cup, such as on the inner cup wall or on the wall forming the outlet passage (if an outlet passage is provided). These and all other modifications and adaptations are included in the scope of this disclosure and the appended claims.

Claims (20)

I claim:
1. A vacuum cleaner dust cup comprising;
a cup comprising a sidewall surrounding an open bottom end, and a shelf extending from the sidewall;
a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge, the lid being movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup;
a latch attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, the latch having a contact surface adapted to engage the shelf to hold the lid in the first position;
an actuator mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, the actuator being movable in a first direction to move the contact surface of the latch out of engagement with the shelf to thereby allow the lid to move about the hinge to the second position;
wherein, the actuator does not apply any substantial force to move the lid out of the first position.
2. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 1, further comprising an air passage extending through the cup, the air passage terminating adjacent the open bottom end of the cup, and wherein the lid comprises a lid opening positioned to abut the air passage when the lid is in the first position.
3. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 2, wherein at least a portion of the air passage extends into the lid opening when the lid is in the first position.
4. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 3, wherein the air passage terminates at a cage that extends into the lid opening when the lid is in the first position.
5. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 2, further comprising an air passage seal positioned to seal the air passage to the lid when the lid is in the first position, wherein the air passage seal is dimensioned to be compressed when the lid is in the first position, thereby generating a restoring force that biases the lid away from the first position.
6. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 5, wherein the air passage seal is mounted to the air passage.
7. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 5, further comprising a perimeter seal positioned to seal the open end of the cup to the lid when the lid is in the first position.
8. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 7, wherein the perimeter seal comprises a lip seal that contacts an inner surface of the sidewall.
9. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 8, wherein the restoring force biases the lid away from the first position at least until the lid is moved about the hinge away from the first position a sufficient distance to remove a portion of the lip seal opposite the hinge from contact with the sidewall.
10. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 1, further comprising a handle mounted to the latch, the handle being configured to allow a user to apply a manual force thereto to assist in opening the lid.
11. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 1, wherein the actuator is adapted to move between the contact surface of the latch and the sidewall and contact the shelf, wherein the actuator comprises movable member adapted to rotate about an axis to thereby move the contact surface away from the sidewall and out of engagement with the shelf.
12. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 11, wherein the movable member comprises a cam, the cam having a protrusion adapted rotate, by contact with the shelf, towards the latch.
13. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 1, wherein the actuator is located adjacent an outer surface of the sidewall.
14. A vacuum cleaner dust cup comprising;
a cup comprising a sidewall surrounding an open bottom end;
a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge, the lid being movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup;
a latch attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, the latch being configured to selectively engage the cup to hold the lid in the first position;
an actuator mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, the actuator being movable in a first direction to disengage the latch from the cup to thereby allow the lid to move about the hinge to the second position;
an air passage extending through the cup, the air passage terminating adjacent the open bottom end of the cup, and wherein the lid comprises a lid opening positioned to abut the air passage when the lid is in the first position;
wherein the lid is elastically deformed by contact with the air passage when the lid is in the first position, thereby generating a restoring force that biases the lid away from the first position.
15. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 14, wherein the actuator does not apply any substantial force to move the lid out of the first position.
16. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 14, wherein at least one of the lid and the air passage comprises an air passage seal positioned to seal the air passage to the lid when the lid is in the first position.
17. A vacuum cleaner dust cup comprising;
a cup comprising a vertically-extending sidewall surrounding an open bottom end;
a lid pivotally connected to the cup adjacent the open bottom end by a hinge, the lid being movable about the hinge between a first position in which the lid substantially covers the open bottom end of the cup, and a second position in which the lid does not substantially cover the open bottom end of the cup;
a latch attached to the lid at a location remote from the hinge, the latch being configured to selectively engage the cup to hold the lid in the first position;
an actuator mounted adjacent the cup sidewall, the actuator comprising a first member located generally adjacent the sidewall and being movable in a generally vertical direction, and a second member movably attached to the first member and having a contact surface that is adapted to move in a direction generally perpendicular to the sidewall as the first member moves in the generally vertical direction; wherein the second member is positioned to disengage the latch from the cup when the contact surface has moved a predetermined distance from the sidewall.
18. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 17, wherein the actuator does not apply any substantial force to move the lid out of the first position.
19. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 17, wherein the first member comprises a pushrod, and the second member comprises a cam pivotally mounted to the pushrod.
20. The vacuum cleaner dust cup of claim 19, wherein the cup comprises a shelf and the latch comprises a latch surface that contacts the shelf to hold the lid in the first position, and wherein the cam contact surface is adapted to move in the direction generally perpendicular to the sidewall when the cam contacts the shelf.
US12556712 2009-09-10 2009-09-10 Dirt Cup Latch Mechanism Abandoned US20110056045A1 (en)

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US20130333156A1 (en) * 2012-06-14 2013-12-19 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US20130333155A1 (en) * 2012-06-14 2013-12-19 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US20150013100A1 (en) * 2013-07-10 2015-01-15 Shop Vac Corporation Vacuum cleaner with sliding latch
DE102014113797A1 (en) * 2014-09-24 2016-03-24 Miele & Cie. Kg Separating vessel for a bagless vacuum cleaner
EP3177193A4 (en) * 2014-08-07 2018-05-16 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Cleaner and dust separating device applying the same

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* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
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WO2012113821A1 (en) * 2011-02-22 2012-08-30 Aktiebolaget Electrolux Vacuum cleaner dust container and a vacuum cleaner
US20130333156A1 (en) * 2012-06-14 2013-12-19 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US20130333155A1 (en) * 2012-06-14 2013-12-19 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US9427124B2 (en) * 2012-06-14 2016-08-30 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US9427125B2 (en) * 2012-06-14 2016-08-30 Dyson Technology Limited Vacuum cleaner
US20150013100A1 (en) * 2013-07-10 2015-01-15 Shop Vac Corporation Vacuum cleaner with sliding latch
US9320397B2 (en) * 2013-07-10 2016-04-26 Shop Vac Corporation Vacuum cleaner with sliding latch
EP3177193A4 (en) * 2014-08-07 2018-05-16 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Cleaner and dust separating device applying the same
DE102014113797A1 (en) * 2014-09-24 2016-03-24 Miele & Cie. Kg Separating vessel for a bagless vacuum cleaner

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Owner name: ELECTROLUX HOME CARE PRODUCTS, INC., OHIO

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SEPKE, ARNOLD;MORPHEY, JOHN;REEL/FRAME:023800/0042

Effective date: 20090914