WO1999054903A2 - Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements - Google Patents

Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements

Info

Publication number
WO1999054903A2
WO1999054903A2 PCT/GB1999/001219 GB9901219W WO1999054903A2 WO 1999054903 A2 WO1999054903 A2 WO 1999054903A2 GB 9901219 W GB9901219 W GB 9901219W WO 1999054903 A2 WO1999054903 A2 WO 1999054903A2
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
element
heating
control
connector
spring
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB1999/001219
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO1999054903A3 (en )
Inventor
Robert Andrew O'neill
Stephen Roger Brook
Original Assignee
Otter Controls Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H37/00Thermally-actuated switches
    • H01H37/02Details
    • H01H37/04Bases; Housings; Mountings
    • H01H37/043Mountings on controlled apparatus
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H37/00Thermally-actuated switches
    • H01H37/002Thermally-actuated switches combined with protective means
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H37/00Thermally-actuated switches
    • H01H37/02Details
    • H01H37/32Thermally-sensitive members
    • H01H37/52Thermally-sensitive members actuated due to deflection of bimetallic element
    • H01H37/54Thermally-sensitive members actuated due to deflection of bimetallic element wherein the bimetallic element is inherently snap acting
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01RLINE CONNECTORS; CURRENT COLLECTORS
    • H01R13/00Details of coupling devices of the kinds covered by groups H01R12/70 or H01R24/00-H01R33/00
    • H01R13/66Structural association with built-in electrical component
    • H01R13/70Structural association with built-in electrical component with built-in switch
    • H01R13/713Structural association with built-in electrical component with built-in switch the switch being a safety switch
    • H01R13/7137Structural association with built-in electrical component with built-in switch the switch being a safety switch with thermal interrupter

Abstract

An inlet connector for a cordless electrical water heating appliance is of a kind adapted to be mated with a complementary base connector throughout 360° of relative rotational orientation between the appliance and its base and is adapted to be secured centrally to the underside of the heating element of the appliance, preferably a thick film heating element. Two heating element overtemperature controls are integrated with the inlet connector by being received in pockets formed around the circumferential periphery of a moulded plastics body part of the inlet connector. In one emobiment each control consists of a bimetal supported in a spring metal carrier which has an integral part formed into a bistable, overcentre switch-operating mechanism. In another embodiment one control comprises a fusible component. Resetting of the or each bimetallic control is effected in response to lifting the applicance off its base and then reseating it on the base. The fusible component control holds the fusible component under spring tension so that when it melts in response to an overtemperature condition, the spring is released and causes rapid opening of a set of switch contacts. A steam sensor can be coupled directy to the connector.

Description

IMPROVEMENTS RELATING TO THE CONTROL OF

ELECTRIC HEATING ELEMENTS

Field of the Invention:

This invention concerns improvements relating to the control of

electric heating elements and, more particularly, is concerned with

overtemperature controls for switching off the supply of electricity to an

electric heating element in the event of the heating element temperature rising

above a safe level, such controls commonly being referred to as element-protector controls.

Background of the Invention:

Element protector controls are commonly used in domestic water

heating appliances, such as kettles and hot water jugs for example, but are also

used widely in other domestic and industrial applications. In the following,

the invention will be described with particular reference to the control of

electric heating elements in domestic kettles and hot water jugs, but it is to be

well understood that the invention has wider application.

Electric heating elements for domestic kettles and hot water jugs have

conventionally been of the type comprising a resistance heating wire housed

within an elongate tubular sheath packed with a mineral insulating material,

and such sheathed heating elements were most commonly utilised in an

immersion heating configuration where the heating element proper was

affixed to a head plate enabling the heating element to be affixed in a vessel wall with the heating element proper immersed in the vessel contents. Planar

or underfloor heating element configurations have also been known which

comprised a plate, commonly of aluminium, having a sheathed heating

element as aforementioned clamped or clenched to the undersurface thereof,

and heating elements of this kind have been employed both as integral parts of

water heating appliances and also as hot plates for use with separate water

vessels, for example in coffee making machines.

More recently, so called thick film heating elements comprising an

electrically insulating substrate having a resistance heating track or layer

formed thereon have attracted the attention of manufacturers of domestic

electric water heating appliances, inter alia on account of the increased power

density of such heating elements as compared to the more conventional

heating elements abovementioned which means that water can be heated much more quickly.

Bimetallic element-protector controls have commonly been utilized for

the protection of conventional sheathed heating elements, both of the

immersion heating type and of the planar or underfloor type, and bimetallic

element-protector controls have also been proposed to be used with thick film

heating elements. Such bimetallic element-protector controls have commonly

comprised a bimetallic switch-actuating element arranged to be held in close

heat transfer relationship with the electric heating element and to operate a

pair of switch contacts via a push rod. Proposals have been made to provide more than one bimetallic switch-actuating element in close heat transfer

relationship with the electric heating element, the rationale for this being two

fold, namely to provide primary and secondary (or back-up) levels of

protection such that safety is assured even in the unlikely event of failure of

the primary control to operate, and/or to provide thermal sensing at multiple

locations of the heating element in an endeavour to ensure safety even if an

appliance is operated on an inclined surface, a domestic draining board for

example, so that if the appliance boils dry a specific part (the higher part) will

boil dry and overheat whilst the remainder of the heating element surface is

still covered with water and thus is at a normal operating temperature.

Other proposals for providing primary and secondary protection have

utilized a bimetallic switch-actuating element for providing primary

protection, and a fusible element with a melting temperature above that at

which the primary bimetal would normally operate for providing secondary

protection.

Reference may be made to our British Patents Nos. 2 176 055 and

2 194 099 for examples, respectively, of dual bimetal element protector

controls and controls incorporating bimetallic primary protection in

conjunction with fusible element secondary protection. Other such

arrangements are disclosed in Strix Limited's British Patents Nos. 2 299 454 and 2 181 598. Element-protection controls as described hereinbefore have been

proposed to be used with both corded and cordless water heating appliances,

corded appliances, as is well known, having an integral electricity supply cord

or cable and cordless appliances comprising a base unit and an appliance

proper, the base unit being corded and co-operating electrical connectors

being provided on the appliance proper and on the base to enable a heating

element in the appliance proper to be powered via the base when the appliance

proper is appropriately seated with respect to the base. Cordless appliances

and their co-operating electrical connectors were originally such that in order

to effect proper connection, the appliance proper had to be set down onto its

base in a predetermined relative orientation with respect to the base, but the

disadvantages and inconveniences of this were appreciated and led to the

development of 360° connector sets, that is to say cooperating base and

appliance proper connectors which enabled the appliance proper to be set

down on its base irrespective of its rotational orientation relative to the base.

Reference may be made to our British Patents Nos. 2 241 390 and

2 285 716 for examples, respectively, of cordless connection systems which

required a particular orientation of the appliance proper with its base and 360°

cordless connection systems. Other such arrangements are disclosed in Strix

Limited's British Patent Application No. 2 263 364 and International Patent

Publication No. WO95/08204. The Russell Hobbs Millenium TM kettle is an example of a recently

launched and highly successful product which combines thick film heating

element and 360° cordless technology with bimetallic heating element

protection. We have made various proposals for integrating our CS4/CP7

360° cordless connector system as currently manufactured with our X2 series

element protector control and examples of these proposals are described in our

British Patent Application No. 2 306 801. As is well known, the X2 element

protector control which is described in our British Patent Applications

Nos. 2 315 366 and 2 248 724 utilizes a snap-acting bimetallic switch actuator

for providing a primary level of protection and has the bimetal mounted in a

collapsible thermoplastics carrier for providing a secondary or back-up level

of protection operative in the event of failure ofthe primary protection.

The present invention results from further work that we have

undertaken to integrate a 360° cordless connection system with an element

protector control providing primary and secondary levels of protection,

particularly for use with planar heating elements including both thick film

heating elements and heating elements comprising a planar substrate having a

sheathed heating element mounted in or on the underside thereof.

Objects and Summary of the Invention:

One of the objects of the present invention is to provide a 360°

cordless connector having integrated heating element overtemperature protection which can be fitted to smaller sized heating elements for use with

"mini" and "midi" sized appliances.

According to the present invention, in one of its aspects, a part of a

360° cordless connector system that is designed to be affixed to the underside

of a planar heating element is formed with a moulded plastics material body

part and the circumferential periphery of said body part has a plurality of

circumferentially spaced-apart integrally moulded formations enabling the

assembly of bimetallic heating element overtemperature controls to the

connector part, each of said formations serving to locate the respective

overtemperature control in close proximity with the connector part, preferably

with a bimetallic switch actuating element of the control at least partially

overlapping the connector part.

According to a preferred feature and further aspect of the present

invention the bimetallic heating element overtemperature controls comprise a

bimetallic switch-actuating element mounted in a spring metal carrier which,

when the control is assembled with the 360° cordless connector part, presents

the bimetallic switch-actuating element for making close thermal contact with

a heating element to which the cordless connector part is affixed, the spring

metal carrier furthermore being formed to form an integral part of a bistable,

overcentre mechanism adapted to be operated in one sense by the bimetallic

switch-actuating element but to require a separate resetting operation. The resetting of the overcentre mechanism is, in accordance with

another aspect of the present invention, effected as a function of the normal

operation of the 360° cordless connector system. Namely, the operation of

removing the appliance proper from its base and then replacing it is arranged

to effect a reset function upon the bimetallic controls or at least one of them.

As will be described hereinafter, in connection with exemplary

embodiments of the invention, the combination of the abovementioned

features provides a 360° cordless connector part having integrated primary and

secondary heating element overtemperature controls which not only is capable

of being manufactured to such small size as to enable it to be fitted to the

smallest heating elements presently contemplated, but also exhibits other significant advantages.

According to a preferred feature of the present invention, a combined

heating element protection control and 360° cordless connector part in

accordance with the present invention has provision made for the direct

connection thereto of a steam sensor control.

In our British Patent Application No. 9811400.2 filed 27 May 1998

there is described an improved steam sensor control which is marketed by us

as the Z5 control. This control takes advantage of a generally E-shaped spring

in which the central element of the E is formed as a C-spring and the outer

(top and bottom) elements of the E carry switch contacts at their free ends.

The C-spring central element is assembled with a pivotally mounted trip lever of the switch in an overcentre arrangement which is movable with a snap

action between two opposite-of-centre stable positions. A

thermally-responsive actuator, such as a bimetal or shape memory effect

(SME) device for example, is arranged to determine the status of the

overcentre arrangement. The movements of the outer elements of the

E-shaped spring which accompany the movements of the overcentre

arrangement effect substantial movements of the switch contacts at their free

ends and advantages result as regards contact separation distances and

reliability of switch operation when these contacts are utilized as moving

contacts of the switch. As described hereinafter, the Z5 steam sensor control

is an ideal candidate for integration with an element protector control

according to the present invention to provide integrated control facilities in or

for an electrically heated water boiling appliance.

In accordance with a further aspect ofthe present invention, one ofthe

bimetallic actuators of the connector cum control aforementioned is replaced

by a fusible component which is arranged to soften or melt when the heating

element temperature rises to a predetermined level, the melting of the fusible

component causing the heating element to be switched off.

It has long been known to protect an electric heating element against

overheating by use of a fusible material which is arranged to soften or melt

when the heating element temperature rises to a predetermined level, the

melting ofthe fusible material causing the heating element to be switched off. Early examples of such arrangements are described in GB-A-141820,

GB-A-322851, GB-A-330100, GB-A-434553, GB-A-1 127 212,

GB-A-1 408 387 and GB-A-1 479 364 and more recent arrangements are

described in GB-A-2 181 598, GB-A-2 194 099, GB-A-2 248 724,

GB-A-2 025 995 and EP-A-0 014 102 where the fusible material is arranged

to provide a back-up or secondary level of protection operable to ensure safety

in a situation where a primary level of protection provided by a bimetallic

device fails to operate.

A problem that can arise with the more recent control arrangements

above described wherein the opening of switch contacts to disable the heating

element is dependent upon the forced collapse of a fusible member spring

biassed towards the heating element, is that the switch contacts may open only

relatively slowly. For heating elements having a relatively high thermal mass,

such as sheathed heating elements ofthe immersion heating type or underfloor

heating elements comprising a die cast metal mass incorporating a sheathed

heating element or a metal plate having a sheathed heating element clamped

or clenched to the underside thereof, this may not be a significant problem,

but for the newly popular thick film heating elements which have only a

relatively low thermal mass coupled with a high watts density (namely a high

heat output per unit area) the problem of slow switch off can be significant.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, therefore, it

is proposed to make use of a fusible component in a quick break switching arrangement. For example, the control might comprise a fusible component,

means holding said fusible component in a forward position for closely

thermally contacting the heating element in use, and a spring urging said

fusible component away from said holding means, the fusible component

being arranged to release from its holding means in the event of the heating

element overheating whereupon the spring is able to resile and open a set of

switch contacts.

The fusible component might for example comprise a push-rod formed

of synthetic plastics material having a well defined melting or softening

temperature, the rod having a forward head portion engaged with a retaining

member constituting said holding means and, more rearwardly along its

length, having a formation engaged by a spring arranged, in the normal (cold)

condition of the arrangement, to urge the push-rod rearwardly against the

retention of its head portion. In use of the control, the head portion of the

push-rod is held in close thermal contact with the heating element and softens

or melts in the event of the heating element temperature rising above a

predetermined level, whereupon the retaining member and the push-rod

disengage, the push-rod is driven rearwardly by the spring and causes a set of

switch contacts to open. The switch contacts open rapidly once the heating

element reaches the limit temperature at which the push-rod material softens

or melts and furthermore will open to an extent which is independent of the melting of the fusible material of the push-rod and independent of the degree

of overheating ofthe heating element.

Described hereinafter is an arrangement wherein the fusible

component holding means is integral with the spring. According to this

arrangement, the fusible component holds together two limbs of a spring

metal component which otherwise would spring apart and when, in use, the

fusible component is overheated and releases from one limb of the spring,

constituting the holding means, the other limb is freed from constraint and can

resile.

In a particularly advantageous arrangement according to the present

invention, the fusible component holding means itself comprises a bimetallic

switch actuator arranged to determine the condition of a set of switch contacts

different from those whose condition is determined by the fusible component.

In the abovementioned arrangement wherein the fusible component is a

push-rod, for example, the retaining member which engages the head of the

push-rod could thus comprise a snap-acting bimetal arranged to change its

shape at a predetermined first heating element over-temperature and thereby

cause the push-rod to open a first set of switch contacts. In the event of the

heating element temperature continuing to rise, on account of failure of the

first set of contacts to open for example because they have welded together or

because the bimetal has failed, which is unlikely but not impossible, the

melting of the head portion of the push-rod at a somewhat higher heating element temperature can ensure that the heating element is switched off. An

arrangement is required to ensure that the operation of the secondary or

back-up protection, afforded by the melting of the push-rod head portion and

its separation from its bimetallic retaining member, is not prejudiced by

movement of the bimetal and this can be achieved by use of appropriate

contact spring arrangements and/or by spring mounting of the bimetal and/or

by thermal conduction through the bimetal.

The present invention thus contemplates the provision of an integrated

control cum 360° cordless connector component for a cordless water heating

vessel. The 360° cordless connector component is adapted to be engageable

with a complementary connector component in a base part of the appliance

irrespective ofthe relative rotational orientation of the vessel and base parts of

the appliance, the two components being available from us as the CS4/CP7

cordless connector set. The control can have first and second bimetallic

switch actuators mounted adjacent to the CP7 vessel connector part of a

CS4/CP7 cordless connector set for sensing the temperature of a thick film

heating element arranged to be powered via the respective connector part.

Each bimetal is mounted in a respective spring metal carrier which is formed

with a bistable part capable of moving overcentre with a snap action, and a

push-rod is engaged with the bistable part. The bimetal is not affixed to the

push-rod, but when the bimetal changes shape in response to overheating of

the thick film heating element, it acts upon the push-rod which in turn causes the bistable part of the spring metal carrier to move overcentre, with the

push-rod, which causes a set of switch contacts to be opened. The bimetals

can be automatically resetting, so that they will return to their original state

when the heating element cools and a camming arrangement can be provided

in the connector part for resetting the switch contacts when the vessel part of

the appliance is lifted off its base part and subsequently replaced thereon. The

invention further contemplates that one of the bimetallic switch actuators of

the control may be replaced by a fusible component which is held, in use,

against the thick film heating element so as to be subject to the temperature

thereof and is biassed away from the heating element by means of a spring,

the arrangement being such that on release of the fusible component at a

predetermined heating element overtemperature, a set of switch contacts is

opened. Such an arrangement could have the fusible component retained by a

snap-acting bimetal as hereinbefore mentioned, in which case an additional

level of protection would be afforded to the heating element. Yet a further

level of protection could be achieved by substituting both of the bimetals of

the control with such a fusible component arrangement.

The above and further features of the present invention are set forth in

the appended claims and, together with the advantages thereof, will become

clear from consideration of the following description given with reference to

the accompanying drawings. Description of the Drawings:

Figures 1A to ID illustrate a first embodiment of the invention,

Figures 1A and IB showing different perspective views of the embodiment,

Figure IC showing reduced scale side elevation and top plan views, and

Figure ID showing an exploded perspective view;

Figures 2A to 2D illustrate a second embodiment of the invention in

views which are similar in each case to the corresponding views of Figures 1A

to ID;

Figures 3A and 3B show enlarged perspective views, from opposite

sides, of a spring metal carrier employed in the embodiments of Figures 1A to

ID and Figures 2A to 2D;

Figures 4A to 4D are schematic views illustrating a reset mechanism

incorporated into the embodiments of Figures 1 A to ID and Figures 2 A to 2D;

Figure 5 is a perspective view illustrating an alternative means of

mounting the embodiments to a thick film heating element;

Figure 6 is a perspective view of an exemplary combined heating

element protection control and 360° cordless connector part incorporating

means for the coupling thereto of a steam sensor control;

Figure 7 is a perspective view showing the device of Figure 6 from the

opposite side and including a steam sensor control coupled thereto;

Figure 8 is a perspective view showing the arrangement of Figure 7

mounted to a heating element; Figure 9 is a perspective view of the steam sensor control shown in

Figure 7;

Figures 10A and 10B are perspective views of a modified steam sensor

control incorporating an integral steam inlet;

Figure 1 1 is a schematic side elevation view of a fusible component

thermally-responsive control which can replace one of the bimetallic controls

of the preceding embodiments, the fusible control being shown in its normal

low temperature condition;

Figure 12 is a perspective view ofthe Figure 11 fusible control;

Figure 13 is a further perspective view ofthe Figure 1 1 fusible control;

Figure 14 is a perspective view similar to Figure 12 but showing the

high temperature condition ofthe fusible control;

Figure 15 is a side elevation view similar to Figure 1 1 but showing the

high temperature condition ofthe fusible control;

Figure 16 is a schematic side elevation view of yet another

thermally-responsive fusible control shown in its normal low temperature

condition;

Figure 17 is a schematic side elevation view of a slightly modified

form ofthe fusible control of Figure 16;

Figure 18 is a perspective view of the Figure 17 control from one side;

Figure 19 is a perspective view of the Figure 17 control from the

opposite side; Figure 20 is a more detailed sectional side elevation view of the

fusible control of Figures 17, 18 and 19; and

Figure 21 is a perspective view showing the combined heating element

protection control and 360° connector part of Figure 6 modified by

replacement of one of the bimetallic switches by a fusible component switch

arrangement ofthe kind shown in Figures 17 to 20.

Detailed Description of the Embodiments:

The embodiments of the present invention that are described

hereinafter are configured as modifications of the CP7 360° cordless plug

(male) connector that we manufacture and sell for use with the CS4 360°

socket (female) connector that we also manufacture and sell. In a cordless

water heating appliance the CP7 plug connector would normally be mounted

in the bottom of the appliance part and the CS4 socket connector would be

mounted on the upper surface of the base part. The CS4 and CP7 cordless

connector parts are based upon the cordless connector parts described in our

British Patent No. 2 285 716 with reference to Figures 7 to 11 of the drawings

of the patent, and further information regarding the detailed construction of

the CP7 connector part is to be found in our British Patent Application

No. 2 306 801. In the following, for the sake of brevity, details of

construction of the CP7 360° plug connector that are disclosed elsewhere will

not be described in detail. Referring first to Figures 1A to ID, it can be seen from Figures 1A and

IB that the illustrated embodiment comprises a CP7 360° cordless plug (male)

connector part 1 having integrated heating element overtemperature protection

controls 2 and 3 circumferentially spaced apart from each other around the

circumferential periphery of the CP7. As shown in Figures 1A and IB, the

CP7 is essentially an upturned cup-shaped moulded plastics body 4, and

within the body 4 (though not visible in Figures 1 A and IB, but see Figure 5)

there is an integrally moulded plastics material upstand 5 which is hollow in

its centre. A central earth pin 6 is mounted within the hollow upstand 5, and

the upstand itself is formed so as to accommodate first and second electrical

terminal springs one of which faces inwardly of the upstand and the other of

which faces outwardly. The CS4 socket (female) connector part (not shown)

is shaped complementarily to the CP7 with a hollow central upstand of

moulded plastics material within which there is provided a complementary

spring terminal for electrically contacting the earth pin 6 of the CP7, and first

and second ring-shaped terminals are provided, one on the outside of the

central upstand of the CS4 and the other on the opposite, inwardly-facing

surface of the moulded plastics CS4 body, for making electrical contact with

the first and second terminal springs ofthe CP7.

The exploded view of Figure ID shows how the first embodiment is

constructed. The moulded plastics body 4 of the CP7 cordless connector part

1 is provided with first and second sets of integral formations 7 which are spaced apart from each other around the circumferential periphery of the

moulded plastics body 4 as shown. These formations 7, together with

formations 8 provided on a separate, moulded plastics capping part 9, define

pockets 10 for accommodating the various parts of the bimetallic heating

element overtemperature controls 2 and 3, the parts of the controls 2 and 3

being captured, as appropriate, in the pockets 10 when the capping part 9 is

mounted onto the upturned base of the body part 4 of the CP7 cordless connector part.

The first and second spring terminals of the CP7 connector are

designated 11 and 12 and each of these spring terminals has a first part, 11 '

and 12' respectively, which extends down into the CP7 connector, a second

part, 11 " and 12" respectively, which extends across the base ofthe body part

4 and a third part, 11 '" and 12'" respectively, which extends into respective

ones of the pockets 10 and carries at its end an electrical contact 13

constituting the fixed contact of a set of switching contacts of the respective

bimetallic overtemperature control.

A separate spring terminal 14 is provided for each of the controls 2, 3

and carries a contact 15 which constitutes the moving contact of the set of

switching contacts of the control. This spring terminal 14 is captured between

the formations 7 on the CP7 moulded plastics body 4 and the co-operating

formations 8 on the capping part 9 when the capping part is fitted onto the

CP7 body. Each of the overtemperature controls 2, 3 has a bimetallic switch

actuator 16 which is dished so as to be movable with a snap-action between

oppositely dished configurations as the temperature to which it is subjected

rises above a predetermined level. In the arrangements illustrated, the bimetal

is upwardly-curved in its cold (normal) configuration and snaps into a

downwardly-curved configuration as its temperature rises. The bimetals 16

are mounted in spring-metal carriers 17 which are shown to an enlarged scale

in Figures 3A and 3B.

The spring-metal bimetal carriers 17 each comprise a base portion 18

and upwardly- and inwardly-turned end portions 19 which are formed into

side portions 20 flanking a central portion 21, the side portions 20 and central

portion 21 being formed to enable the ends of a generally-rectangular bimetal

blade to be received therein with the portions 22 locating the blade against

transverse movement, the portions 23 overlying the blade ends and the

portions 24 underlying the blade ends. With the bimetals 16 thus supported,

operational movement ofthe bimetals will be towards and away from the base

portions 18 ofthe spring metal carriers 17 and will be greatest at the centres of

the bimetals.

Two C-spring tongues 25 are released from opposite ends of the base

portions 18 of the spring metal carriers 17, the tongues 25 extending towards

each other as shown and having spaced-apart free ends, and push-rods 26 are

designed to be received in the spacing between these free ends, the push rods being dimensioned so as to bias the free ends of the tongues 25 further apart

from each other than in the free and unstressed state of the spring-metal

bimetal carriers 17. This has the effect of forming bistable overcentre

arrangements each capable of movement between a stable "cold" condition

where the upper end of the push rod 26 is raised up towards the respective

bimetal and closely underlies or abuts the bimetal and a stable "hot" condition

where reversal of the bimetal curvative forces the push-rod 26 downwardly

and moves the ends of the C-spring tongues 25 through an unstable central

position so that they snap into the opposite stable condition.

The push-rods 26 have side formations 26' which coact with the leaf

springs 14 which carry the moving contacts 15 of the heating element

overtemperature controls so that a change in bimetal condition from "cold" to

"hot" such as to cause the bimetal to snap into its oppositely dished

configuration will result in opening of the set of switch contacts 13, 15 within

the respective control.

For affixing the thus described arrangement to the underside of a

planar heating element, a mounting bracket 27 is provided, the bracket 27

preferably being a metal pressing with feet 28 for attachment to the heating

element. The bracket can be secured to the control by any convenient means,

but in the example illustrated the earth pin 6 is employed as a securing means

by virtue of being riveted to the mounting bracket 27. The mounting bracket

27 services also to shield the CP7 cordless connector part 1 from the heat of the heating element to which the arrangement is secured in use, and may be

provided with a reflective or polished surface to enhance this effect.

The two bimetallic switch actuating elements 16 may be selected for

operation nominally at the same temperature, or may be selected such that

there is an operating temperature difference between them. In the former case

both bimetals will normally respond to a heating element overtemperature

condition, and in the latter case one of the bimetals will normally respond and

will be responsible for effecting primary protection and the other, set to

operate at a higher temperature, may not operate except in the case of failure

of the primary protection or may operate only on temperature overshoot of the

heating element after proper operation of the lower temperature bimetal. The

bimetals furthermore can be set to operate at different temperatures according

to the heat outputs of the different areas of the heating element to which they are juxtaposed.

The bimetals 16 can be arranged to reset automatically back to their

"cold" conditions when the associated heating element cools down after being

switched off by operation of one or other or both of the element

overtemperature controls. However, since the bimetals are not attached to the

push-rods 26, resetting of the bimetals 16 will not reset the switches within

the controls. To reset the switches, a reset arrangement must be provided and

an example of a particularly convenient reset arrangement will be described

hereinafter with reference to Figures 4A to 4D. Alternatively, the bimetals 16 could be attached to the push-rods 26 so that the switches would automatically

reset if the bimetals were of a kind such as to reset automatically; such an

arrangement is, however, not preferred in view of the fact that it is considered

to be strategically unwise to effect automatic reset of a switch designed to

protect against an overtemperature condition, particularly a designated

secondary protection switch. The preferred arrangement is that neither the

bimetals nor the associated switches reset automatically and both have to be

manually reset.

The bimetallic switch actuators 16 in the above-described embodiment

are generally rectangular with an X-shaped central cut-out such as to develop

increased movement at the centre of the bimetal when it switches between its

oppositely dished configurations. The X-shaped cut-out could however be

omitted so long as sufficient movement remains to push the overcentre

arrangement in the carrier springs 17 over centre, the switch-opening

operation thereafter being dependent only upon the characteristics of the

overcentre arrangement and being independent ofthe bimetal.

The side elevation views of Figure IC show that when the assembled

integrated 360° cordless connector and element protector controls are mounted

to the underside of a planar heating element, the two bimetallic switch

actuators 16 will be resiliently held by the spring carriers 17 in close thermal

and physical contact with the heating element. Since the spring carriers 17

develop a spring force urging the bimetals 16 upwardly towards the heating element, any distortion of the heating element will not give rise to any

detrimental effect on the responsiveness of the bimetal blades since the

bimetals will be moved by the spring carriers so as to follow the distortion.

Note furthermore in this connection that the feet 28 on the mounting bracket

27 are close to the bimetal blades 16 so as to limit the effect of heating

element distortion upon the position of the bimetal blades relative to other

components of the controls. The top plan view of Figure 1 C shows this and

additionally shows that the bimetals 16 partly overlap the footprint of the CP7

cordless connector part whereby the overall dimensions of the combined

arrangement are much reduced as compared to prior proposals. The circle

drawn around the arrangement as shown in plan view in Figure IC has a

diameter of only 65 mm. This same arrangement also ensures that the

bimetals are located close to the centre of the heating element, assuming that

the CP7 cordless plug connector is mounted centrally which would normally

be the case, which is the best position for their location to be responsive to a

boil dry condition while the appliance is on a sloping surface. Note also from

the top plan view of Figure IC that a third bimetallic switch actuator and

associated control parts could if desired be added to the illustrated

arrangement without increasing its overall dimensions.

In the described arrangement, the bimetals 16 are not electrically

connected to each other, as neither are their spring metal carriers 17, and both

the bimetals and their carriers are isolated from electrical parts of the arrangement. This has advantages, particularly when the arrangement is to be

used with thick film heating elements where the different bimetals and their

carriers might well be exposed to different electrical potentials if the bimetals

are arranged to contact the heating element at locations whereat windows are

opened in the upper electrically insulating layer of the heating element to

ensure a rapid thermal response. In this connection, the material ofthe spring

metal carriers 17 can be selected to have an influence upon the thermal

environment ofthe bimetals 16.

The abovedescribed embodiment is primarily intended for use with

heating elements of a kind where electrical connection to the heating element

is made by means of lead wires that are plugged into the element

overtemperature protection controls 2 and 3 and mechanically connected to

terminations provided on the heating element. Thus in the embodiment, the

spring terminals 14 of the controls are formed with receptacles 29 for

receiving spade terminations ofthe lead wires. The electrical path through the

embodiment to an associated heating element is thus via the terminals 11 and

12 of the cordless connector part 1 and through the respective controls 2, 3 to

the heating element terminations. Operation of either or both of the controls

2, 3 in an element overtemperture situation will thus serve to disconnect the

heating element from its power supply. Resetting of the controls 2, 3 will be

described hereinafter. The embodiment of Figures 2A to 2D is in many respects identical to

the embodiment of Figures 1 A to ID and therefore only the differences will be

described . Whereas the embodiment of Figures 1 A to ID is designed to be

connected to a heating element by use of separate lead wires as

abovementioned, the embodiment of Figures 2 A to 2D is particularly intended

to be used with thick film heating elements where electrical connection to

terminal pads provided on the heating element is by means of spring fingers.

To this end, the spring terminals 14 that are provided in the controls 2, 3 are

provided with spring terminations 30 which project upwardly out of the

controls as shown so that when the embodiment is secured to a heating

element the uppermost ends of the spring terminations 30 resiliently contact

the terminal pads of the heating element. Another difference resides in the

form of the spring terminal 60 of the Figures 2A to 2D embodiment, this

corresponding to the spring terminal 11 of the Figures 1A to ID embodiment,

and the provision of a further terminal 65 which carries the fixed contact of

the overtemperature control 2 (in the Figures 1A to ID embodiment this was

carried by the spring terminal 11). As shown in Figure 2D, the spring

terminal 60 has a first spade terminal 60' and has no part corresponding to the

part 11 '" shown in Figure ID. The terminal part 65 has a second spade

terminal portion 65' and a contact carrying porting 65". In use, the first and

second spade terminals 60' and 65' serve for the connection of a steam sensor

control, such as our J-series steam control as described in our British Patent No. 2 212 664 for example, in circuit with the element overtemperature

controls, the steam control serving to switch off the heating element of an

associated water boiling appliance when water boils in the appliance.

Figures 4A to 4D schematically illustrate a reset mechanism which

advantageously can be associated with either or both of the element protector

controls 2 and 3 in the individual controls. Thus, for example, if both controls

were set to respond to an element overtemperature condition such as might be

caused by switching on a water heating appliance without first filling it with

water, it might be appropriate to arrange for easy resetting of both controls.

On the other hand, if one of the controls was set to a higher temperature so

that it would operate only if the other control failed, then it might be

appropriate to provide a user operable reset facility for the lower temperature

control, but to provide no such facility for the higher temperature control to

ensure that a user could not reset the appliance into a potentially dangerous situation.

In Figure 4A, which shows the normal "cold" condition of the

abovedescribed embodiments wherein the bimetal 16 is in its

upwardly-curved condition and the overcentre arrangement of the

spring-metal bimetal carrier (not shown) is in its up condition so that push-rod

26 is likewise in its up position and the formation 26' does not affect the

position of leaf spring 14, the moulded plastics body 4 of the CP7 plug part of

the cordless connector system is shown to be formed with a chamber 40 within which there is located a camming member 41 which is able to move

freely within the confines of the chamber 40. An opening 42 through the

outermost cylindrical wall ofthe moulded plastics body part is dimensioned to

allow the camming member 41 to protrude into the annular passageway 43

that exists within the CP7 plug part between its outer wall and its

aforementioned central upstand, this annular passageway 43 being occupied

by a complementary part of the CS4 socket part of the CS4/CP7 cordless

connection system when the plug and socket parts are mated together. In

Figure 4A, the respective part of the CS4 socket is designated 44. As shown

in Figure 4A, a space exists between the lower end of push-rod 26 and the camming member 41.

Figure 4B shows what happens when the bimetal 16 snaps to its

oppositely dished "hot" configuration, thereby causing push-rod 26 to be

depressed by the overcentre mechanism of the bimetal carrier (not shown) so

that leaf spring 14 is depressed by the formation 26'. The bottom end of the

push-rod 26 moves closer to the camming member 41 but there remains a

small spacing between the two parts.

In order to reset the overcentre mechanism of the bimetal carrier,

which would remain in its downward condition in the absence of a resetting

stimulus even if the bimetal reset automatically, the CS4 part has to be

withdrawn from the CP7 part as represented by the arrow shown at the bottom

of Figure 4C, this corresponding to lifting of the appliance off its base. This allows the camming member 41 to slide under its own weight (a driving

spring could be provided) generally in the direction of the arrow shown to the

left of the camming member 41 until an abutment on the cam abuts the edge

ofthe opening 42. In this position, as shown, the camming member 41 sits in

the opening 42 with a nose portion 45 of the camming member 41 projecting

into the region 43 vacated by the CS4 socket part of the cordless connector

set. When the appliance is subsequently replaced on its base, hopefully

having been refilled in the meantime, the entering CS4 socket part 44

encounters the nose portion 45 ofthe camming member 41 as shown in Figure

4D and this causes the camming member to be driven generally in the

direction indicated by the arrow shown to the left of the camming member in

Figure 4D, namely upwardly and outwardly with respect to the CP7 plug part

ofthe cordless connection system. Under this impetus, the opposite side 46 of

the camming member 41 rides up an inclined surface 47 formed in the body

moulding 4 and the cam engages the bottom end of the push-rod 26, drives it

upwardly and thereby resets the overcentre mechanism and resets the bimetal

16. As the engaging movement of the CP7 plug part and the CS4 socket part

continue, so the nose portion 45 ofthe camming member 41 eventually moves

out of control with the forward end of the CS4 socket part whereby the

camming member drops back to the position shown in Figure 4A.

The arrangement of the reset camming member 41 could

advantageously be such that when the overcentre mechanism operates so as to depress the push-rod 26 and open the switch contacts, the end of the push-rod

continues to exert a downwards pressure on the camming member 41 so that,

when the two cordless connector parts are separated as the appliance is lifted

off its base, the camming member is positively driven down and its nose

portion 45 forced out through the opening 42. This would effectively avoid

any tendency ofthe camming member 41 to stick in its upward position.

In use of the abovedescribed embodiments, the fixing bracket 27 can

be secured to the heating element by any convenient means, such as by

riveting, welding or by nut and screw connections for example, and may or

may not be removable from the heating element for servicing or repair of

either the heating element or the cordless connector/overtemperature controls

combination. The bracket itself, however, is designed to be permanently

affixed to the cordless connector/overtemperature controls combination. In

the arrangement of Figure 5, an alternative form of fixing bracket 50 is

provided which, as with the previously described bracket 27, has three feet 51

adapted to be secured to a heating element by laser welding for example and

has three screw receptacles 52 enabling the cordless

connector/overtemperature controls combination to be affixed to the bracket

50 in a removable manner by means of fixing screws 53. The use of a

cordless connector/overtemperature controls combination which is removable

from its fixing bracket is advantageous in that it enhances the reclaim of

working components from a faulty assembly and provides supply opportunities that otherwise would not be available, for example the supply of

brackets to heating element manufacturers and controls (ie the cordless

connector/overtemperature controls combination) to the final assembler of the

heating elements and controls into appliances. Also the same bracket

configurations can be supplied for use with different control configurations.

Referring to Figures 6 to 10, there will now be described a combined

heating element protection control and 360° cordless connector part

substantially as hereinbefore described which furthermore has provision made

for the direct connection thereto of a Z5 steam sensor control in accordance

with the invention of our British Patent Application No. 9811400.2 aforementioned.

Referring first to Figure 6, shown therein is a combined heating

element protection control and 360° cordless connector part which is

substantially as described hereinbefore with reference to Figures 1A to ID.

The embodiment comprises a CP7 360° cordless plug (male) connector part 1

having integrated heating element overtemperature protection controls 2 and 3

circumferentially spaced apart from each other around the circumferential

periphery of the CP7. As shown in Figures 7 and 8, the CP7 is essentially an

upturned cup-shaped moulded plastics body 4, and within the body 4 there is

an integrally moulded plastics material upstand 5 which is hollow in its centre.

A central earth pin 6 is mounted within the hollow upstand 5, and the upstand

itself is formed so as to accommodate first and second electrical terminal springs 1 1 and 12 one of which faces inwardly of the upstand and the other of

which faces outwardly. The CP7 connector is adapted for use with a CS4

socket (female) part (not shown) which is shaped complementarily to the CP7

with a hollow central upstand of moulded plastics material within which there

is provided a complementary spring terminal for electrically contacting the

earth pin 6 of the CP7, and first and second ring-shaped terminals are

provided, one on the outside of the central upstand of the CS4 and the other

on the opposite, inwardly-facing surface of the moulded plastics CS4 body,

for making electrical contact with the first and second terminal springs 11, 12 ofthe CP7.

The construction and operation ofthe heating element overtemperature

protection controls 2 and 3 is described hereinbefore. Each of the controls 2

and 3 has a bimetallic switch actuator 16 which is dished so as to be movable

between oppositely dished configurations with a snap action as the

temperature to which the bimetal is subjected rises above a predetermined

level. The bimetals 16 are mounted in respective spring carriers 17 which are

formed to constitute respective bistable overcentre arrangements with

respective switch-actuating push-rods (not shown), the arrangement being

such that, on movement of either of the bimetals 16 from its "cold" to its

"hot" condition, the corresponding overcentre arrangement operates to open a

set of switch contacts within the respective control 2, 3. The bimetals 16 are

not themselves physically attached to the overcentre arrangements so that whilst the bimetals can be arranged to reset automatically when their

temperature cools, the overcentre arrangements and their associated switch

contacts require to be actively reset. A resetting mechanism operates in

response to the vessel part of a cordless appliance being lifted off its base and

subsequently replaced. Other reset arrangements would, however, be possible.

As compared to the arrangement described hereinbefore, the

arrangement shown in Figure 6 of the accompanying drawings has an

additional pair of male spade terminals 100 and 100' and an additional pair of

female receptacle terminals 200 and 200', the latter being partially enclosed

by U-shaped shrouds 201 which are moulded integrally with the moulded

plastics body 4 of the CP7 connector part 1. The terminals 100 and 200 are

electrically commoned and connected to one of the terminal springs 11, 12,

and the terminals 100' and 200' are electrically commoned and connect to one

of the heating element overtemperature protection controls 2, 3 and thence, by

way of a spade terminal 250 provided on the control, can be connected

through the heating element to the other of the heating element

over-temperature protection controls 3, 2, again by way of its spade terminal

250, the last-mentioned heating element overtemperature protection control 3,

2 then being connected to the other ofthe terminal springs 12, 11.

The terminals 200 and 200' are designed for the attachment to the

arrangement shown in Figure 6 of a Z5 steam sensor control as described in British Patent Application No. 9811400.2 abovementioned. Figure 7 of the

accompanying drawings shows such an arrangement, the steam sensor control

being designated 300, and Figure 8 shows such an arrangement mounted onto

an electric heating element of the kind comprising a metal plate 325 having a

heating element 350 of the mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed, wire-wound

type cast or clenched into its surface, the mounting ofthe combined steam and

element protector control cum socket inlet connector 1, 2, 3, 300 to the

heating element being effected by use of a mounting bracket 375 as described

hereinbefore. It will be understood that in the arrangement of Figure 8 the

terminals 250 of the heating element overtemperature protection controls 2, 3

will be connected to the terminal ends of the heating element 350 by means of connecting leads (not shown).

It will be understood that the arrangement of Figure 8 places the steam

sensor control 300 in electrical series with the heating element 350 and the

two heating element overtemperature protection controls 2, 3 between the

terminals 11, 12 of the socket inlet connector part 1. This arrangement

ensures that the heating element 350 will be disconnected from its electrical

power supply in the event of one or both of the heating element

overtemperature controls 2, 3 operating, or in the event of operation of the

steam control 300.

The two additional terminals 100 and 100' provide for the connection

of an indicator, a small neon lamp for example, across the steam sensor control 300. So long as the control 300 is in closed circuit condition, namely

not operated by exposure to steam, the control 300 acts as a short circuit

across the terminals 100 and 100' so that the indicator does not operate.

However, when the steam sensor control 300 goes open circuit in response to

the sensing of steam, the short circuit across the indicator is removed and the

indicator operates. The current passed by the indicator, which is arranged to

have a high electrical resistance, is insufficient to have any significant heating effect upon the heating element 350.

Figure 9 shows the steam sensor control 300 inverted as compared to

its showing in Figures 7 and 8 and it will be seen that the bimetal actuator 301

of the steam control faces downwardly and is shrouded by the moulded plastics material cover 302 of the control when the heating element 325 is

fitted into the bottom of a water boiling vessel. In this connection, it is to be

appreciated that the view of Figure 8 shows the arrangement inverted as

compared to the way it would actually be when fitted into a vessel. By virtue

ofthe bimetal actuator, 301 of the steam control 300 facing downwardly, and

the internal switch components of the control 300 being contained within the

cover 302 with only a push-rod (not shown) penetrating the cover for

transmitting the operating movement of the bimetal actuator 301 to the

internal switch components, it is ensured so far as is possible that the internal

switch components of the control are not liable to be contaminated by debris

or scale which travels down the vessel steam duct, namely the duct which transfers steam from a high level within the vessel to the location ofthe steam

sensor control in the bottom of the vessel. A further advantage of arranging

the bimetal actuator 301 so that it faces downwardly is that it is thus arranged

further from the heating element 325 and from hot water contained in the

associated vessel, which enhances the resetability of the bimetal actuator 301

after it has operated in response to the generation of steam; namely, the

proximity of the bimetal actuator 301 to the heating element 325 and to the

hot water in the vessel is not such as significantly to impede the cooling down

of the bimetal actuator after the steam sensor control 300 switches off the

heating element 325 so that hot steam ceases to be ducted onto the bimetal actuator 301.

Note additionally that the terminals 303, 303' of the steam sensor

control 300 which mate with the terminals 200, 200' of the arrangement

shown in Figure 6 are completely shrouded within the moulded plastics body

302 of the control 300. By virtue of this arrangement it is ensured that the

mated terminals 303, 303' and 200, 200' are unlikely to suffer contamination

from the steamy operating environment ofthe steam sensor control.

The steam sensor control 300 is intended to be used in a water boiling

vessel formed with ducting, for example formed integrally with a moulded

plastic body part of the vessel, for transporting steam from within the vessel to

the location of the steam sensor control in the vessel base. In the alternative

arrangement shown in Figures 10A and 10B, the steam sensor control 300 is formed with a spigot 304 which is adapted to mate sealingly with features of

the vessel body. Steam is directed to the bimetal actuator 301 by means of

baffles (not shown) which are preferably part of the steam sensor control

housing but could additionally or alternatively be part ofthe appliance.

Rather than being coupled directly to the combined inlet connector

cum overtemperature protection controls as shown in Figures 7 and 8, the

steam sensor control 300 could alternatively be coupled indirectly thereto by

means of electrical leads connecting the terminals 200, 200' to the steam

control terminals 303, 303'. In some appliances it is preferred that the steam

control be mounted at a position in the appliance closely adjacent to the vent

through which steam exits the appliance interior when water boils in the

appliance. Such an arrangements is shown in GB 2 212 664 for example.

Some appliances may not require the provision of a steam control

sensor and in such a case a suitable connector could be provided to connect

the terminals 200, 200' together. Alternatively, the terminals 200, 200' could

be arranged such that they are normally interconnected and their

interconnection is broken when the steam sensor control 300 is attached. For

example, spring terminals could be provided which normally interconnect the

terminals 200, 200' and which are displaced when the steam sensor control is

attached.

In the arrangement of Figures 7 and 8, the steam sensor control 300

extends horizontally. The arrangement could readily be modified so that the steam sensor control 300 extends vertically which could provide the overall

arrangement with a smaller footprint enabling it to be used with even smaller

appliances.

In the embodiments described hereinafter, one ofthe bimetallic switch

actuators of the control described hereinbefore is replaced by a fusible

component which is arranged to be held, in use, against the thick film heating

element so as to be subject to the temperature thereof and is biassed away

from the heating element by means of a spring, the arrangement being such

that on release of the fusible component at a predetermined heating element overtemperature, a set of switch contacts is opened.

The proposal is to replace one of the two bimetal actuators of the

previously described embodiments with a thermal fuse adapted and arranged

to allow as many common components as possible in the two switches. In the

thermal fuse version, the melting component is formed by a variant of the

push rod held captive at its outer end by a retaining component which is

clipped into a groove close to the extremity of the rod. This retaining

component replaces the bimetal of the previously described embodiments and

holds the tip of the rod in thermal contact with the heating element that is to

be protected. It may be resilient in itself, or it may be resiliently mounted; it

may be metal and similar in shape to the bimetal blade, or it may be of plastics

material with a higher melting point than the rod. The rod is urged away from

the heater by a variant of the overcentre spring mechanism of the previously described embodiments, which is no longer bistable, but is a simple spring

(possibly a cantilever) which engages the rod at a suitable point along its

length. The electrical contacts are similar to those of the previously described

control. In action, when the surface ofthe heating element reaches a sufficient

temperature, the tip of the rod melts and the rod becomes free of the metal

part holding it in contact with the heating element. When the rod is freed, the

spring which is urging the rod away from the heater is able to move the rod in

a similar way to the push-rod of the previously described embodiments, to open the electrical contacts and switch off the heater. This proposed

mechanism opens the contacts rapidly and will always open them fully, regardless ofthe degree of overshoot.

A metal plate could be used to replace the bimetal to retain the rod, but it would be preferable that the metal part which forms the spring would also

form the retaining part, thus eliminating a component. The accompanying

Figures 11 to 15 illustrate this version. Fig 11 shows a side view and Figs 12

and 13 isometric views of a replacement for the spring bimetal carrier of the

previously described control. A spring metal retaining part 1 has a base part 2

which engages the tip 4 of the push-rod replacement 8 pushing it towards the

heater (not shown). The arms 3 of the retaining part 1 are cantilever springs

and engage arms 5 on the push-rod 8, tending to push the rod away from the

heating element. The end 6 ofthe rod 8, remote from the heater, is positioned

close to a spring contact arrangement 7. Figs 14 and 15 show the arrangement after operation of the fuse in response to a heating element overtemperature

condition. The tip 4 ofthe rod has melted and has released from the retaining

part 2. The arms 3 ofthe retaining part 1 have relaxed, moving the rod 8 away

from the heater to engage the end of one of the contact springs 7 and open the

contacts.

A variant of this thermal fuse could be a modification of our X3

control which is substantially as described in GB-A-2194099 with reference to

Figure 3 thereof. The bimetal blade of the X3 control would form the

retaining metal part, with the rod retained by the tips of the two longer centre

legs of the X-shaped cut-out provided in the blade. These could be formed

with a joggle to retain the substantially flat element interface presently

provided by the X3, or the rod end could protrude beyond the bimetal into a

depression formed in the heater, as was the case with our original XI control.

Under normal conditions, the X3 bimetal would open the primary set of

contacts, via the rod, exactly as at present. However, a spring would be

provided which urges the rod away from the heater, as described above.

Normally the motion of the rod would be limited by the movement of the

bimetal as it reverses curvature. However if the heater temperature rises

above normal levels, the tip of the rod would melt, releasing the rod. The

spring would then be free to move the rod further away from the heater, and

this additional movement would open a second set of contacts, providing a

second level of protection. The resilient mounting of the primary contacts, as in the present X3

design, would allow this further movement, even if they had become welded

(this being the cause of the excess temperature). The changes to the present

X3 to implement this would require the replacement of the thermoplastic

bimetal carrier by a metal carrier as in the embodiments previously described

herein, which would also provide the spring to move the rod away from the

element. The secondary contacts which presently provide the force to collapse

the carrier during secondary operation would be replaced by a simpler spring

contact arrangement which would require lower forces and may only act on

one pole of the supply. The neutral pin could for example be formed with a

right angled bend on its inner end, like a walking stick, under which the

secondary leaf spring would be trapped. The rod would act on the end of the

leaf spring to push it away from the angled end ofthe pin. There is no reason,

however, why the rod may not have a "T" shape, and operate on both poles of

the supply. The existing contacts could be used, but would require a form of

latch, normally holding the secondary springs against the terminal pins, which

would be released by the movement ofthe rod.

The enclosed Figures 16 to 19 illustrate this proposal applied as a

replacement for the present X3 plastics material bimetal carrier. Referring

particularly to Fig 16, which shows a basic layout, the metal retaining part 9

and bimetal blade 10 are the same as in the present X4 product design. The

rod 8 is identical to the rod in Figs 11 to 15 and is clipped to the bimetal blade 10 at its tip 4 in the same way that the original XI push-rod was as described

in GB-A-2194099. Not shown is a version of the bimetal blade with the tips

ofthe centre legs engaged with the head of rod 8 set back to give a flush front

face to the actuator, but this is just an adjustment of geometry. The spring

arms 11 are shown as the "C" form of the previously described embodiment,

but could be simple straight cantilevers as in the previous example. The other

tip 6 of the rod is close to the primary contact set 12, while a projection 5 on

the rod 8 is spaced a little way from the secondary contacts 13.

In operation, under normal dry boil, the bimetal reverses curvature and

acts on the primary contacts 12 as is conventional, the movement of the rod

being allowed by the resilience of the arms 11. Note that the force applied by

the arms will have to be low enough to have only a minimal effect on the

action of the bimetal. Typically the bimetal can exert 150 - 200 gms, so the

arms 11 may exert 40 - 80 gms for example. When the bimetal cools, it

returns the rod to its initial position and closes the contacts 12. On occurrence

of a fault condition, for example if the contacts 12 weld, then the heater will

overheat, melting the tip of the rod. The arms 11 will then urge the rod away

from the heater, first engaging the contact set 12 at 6 and deflecting both

springs (as a result of the weld) and then engaging the secondary contact set

13 with the arms 5 and opening it. The drawings do not show this version in

an operated state, but this should be clear from comparison with Figs 14 and

15. Figs 17, 18 and 19 show a more practical layout for such a

modification of the X3 and show the neutral terminal pin 14 arranged with a

right angle bend 15 at its inner end. This pin could for example be made from

lmm brass strip folded along its length to give a 2mm x 4mm pin, with the

bend being formed in the lmm section as more clearly seen in the isometric

views of Figs 18 and 19. The leaf spring 13a is a modified neutral leaf spring

which engages the bent end 15 of the terminal pin. A discrete contact 16 is

shown attached to the leaf spring, but this may not be necessary and the

arrangement may be as in the present X3 where silver plating is used. This

contact pair is only called upon to operate once in anger. The action of this

arrangement is the same as previously described. It should be noted that so long as the gap between the tip 6 and the primary contacts 12 is less than the

gap between the arms 5 and the secondary contacts 13, then the circuit will

always be broken by the primary contacts during normal use although the

secondary contacts may part, and accordingly the secondary contact life will

not be comprised by switching current. Only the neutral terminal arrangement

is shown, but clearly a similar arrangement could be provided on the live side,

worked by the second arm 5.

The metal retaining part 9 is intended to be secured to the outside of

the X3 inner moulding (the pale cream one) by means of the four star shaped

holes 17 visible in Fig 19. The whole of this metal assembly is outside the

control, making the provision of electrical isolation simpler. There may be some advantage in retaining the form of overcentre spring shown in Figures

3A and 3B as compared to a simple cantilever in this embodiment. The

overcentre spring has a non-linear force displacement curve and can be

arranged to have a low force in the region of movement of the bimetal, but to

exert a stronger force as the displacement increases. This would combine a

lesser disturbance ofthe bimetal operating characteristics with a more positive

action to open the second contacts. The tolerance that the X3 blade carrier

gives to element distortion would be less necessary, since the metal blade

carrier does not have to collapse and could be arranged to be a positive height

stop within the control assembly to define the distance between the bimetal

and the primary contacts, rather than using close control of the element pillar heights and flatness as is done at present.

Figure 20 is a sectional side elevation view showing the fusible

component thermal control of Figures 17 to 19 in more detail, and Figure 21

shows a combined 360° appliance inlet connector and heating element

overtemperature protection control similar to that shown in Figure 6 but with

one of the thermally responsive bimetallic switches replaced by a fusible

component thermal control as shown in Figures 17 to 20, the fusible

component thermal control being designated 2' in Figure 21. In this

arrangement, the member 10 retaining the uppermost end 4 of the fusible rod

8 is a stainless steel plate similar in size and shape to the bimetal 16 of the

bimetallic switch 3 and formed with a slot for engagement with the necked upper end of fusible rod 8. The plate 10 is retained in the spring carrier 17,

similarly to the bimetal 16, and the fusible rod 8 is held under tension by the

spring parts 1 1 of the carrier 17. As will be well understood from the

explanations previously provided, in the event of the fusible rod 8 being

subjected in use of the device to a temperature such as to cause its head

portion to soften or melt, the rod 8 will be released from its holding plate 10

and will be driven downwards (as shown in Figure 20) by the spring parts 11

so that the lug 5 causes the contacts 13 to open and thereby disrupt the supply of electricity to the associated heating element.

Another difference shown in Figure 21 is the provision of spring

contacts 500 and 500' for contacting terminal portions of a thick film heating element.

The advantages of the above proposals of Figures 11 to 21 include the following:

• the provision of a fast contact opening independent ofthe rate or overshoot of the heater.

• making the mounting and alignment of the X3 bimetal independent of the

secondary contacts.

• simplifying the form of the thermal fuse of the X3 so that it may be made

from less amenable materials, such as Ryton, which have better thermal

stability, but do not have the necessary resilience to assemble the X3

bimetal or to absorb shock without breaking. • removing the effects of element tolerance from the bimetal to contacts

distance, making the action ofthe control more consistent.

• the non linear force/displacement characteristic of the X4 spring form as

shown in Figures 3A and 3B allows the thermal fuse to be combined with a

bimetal actuator without substantial change to the bimetal actuator

properties.

Having thus described the present invention by reference to preferred

embodiments, it is to be well appreciated that the described embodiments are

exemplary only and that modifications and variations are possible without

departure from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the

appended claims. For example, whereas the invention has been described

with particular reference to 360° cordless appliances, the invention is equally

applicable to cordless appliances of other kinds and could even be applied to

corded appliances such as those incorporating conventional plug and socket

type electrical connectors. Furthermore, while the embodiments described

incorporate 360° cordless connectors, the invention could also be applied to

the more conventional cordless connection systems which required the

appliance to be set down onto its base in a particular orientation. The aspect

of the invention whereby a bimetallic switch actuator is retained by a spring

metal carrier formed to provide its own integral overcentre mechanism is

particularly well adapted to wider application. Similarly, whilst the described

embodiments have shown specific forms of heating element, other kinds of heating element could be used. Furthermore, the safety interlock that is the

subject of our British Patent Application No. 9724799.3 filed 24 November

1997 could be employed in the practice of the present invention. The

mechanism which switches off the steam sensor control can be mounted on

the appliance inlet connector and, in the case of direct attachment ofthe steam

sensor control, can act directly on the trip lever 305 of the steam sensor

control. In the case where the steam sensor control is remotely mounted and

connected electrically to the appliance inlet connector by means of electrical

leads, the necessary actuating movement may be transmitted by a lever or, if

the distance is excessive for a lever, by a Bowden cable or the like extending

between the appliance inlet connector and the remotely mounted steam sensor

control. Such a safety interlock mechanism could be applied to any kind of

cordless connection system. Furthermore, a safety interlock of this kind could

be applied to a corded appliance such that the steam sensor control is switched

off (open circuit) when the appliance connector plug is inserted into the inlet

socket.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. An electrical connector for an appliance including a heating element,
said electrical connector including a moulded plastics body part having
formed integrally therewith one or more sites for the assembly with the
electrical connector of a control responsive to an overtemperature condition of
the heating element.
2. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 1 adapted for use with a planar heating element.
3. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 2 wherein the or each said
control is adapted to determine the supply of electricity through the electrical
connector to the heating element.
4. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 3 wherein at least one said
control comprises a bimetallic switch-actuating element arranged to determine
the status of a set of switch contacts.
5. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 4 wherein the bimetallic
switch-actuating element is arranged to operate the switch contacts via an
overcentre mechanism.
6. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 5 wherein said overcentre
mechanism is formed as a part of a spring metal carrier for the bimetal.
7. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 6 wherein said spring
metal carrier comprises end portions spaced apart from each other and
defining, at one level, locations for supporting a bimetallic blade therebetween
and, at another level, spaced-apart spring elements adapted to receive a
push-element therebetween so as to form an overcentre mechanism wherein
the push-element is movable, in response to movement of the bimetal,
between first and second stable positions on either side of a central unstable position.
8. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 6 or 7 wherein said
plastics body part of the electrical connector has formed integrally therewith
means defining one or more pockets for receiving said spring metal carrier(s).
9. An electrical connector as claimed in any of the preceding claims
wherein said electrical connector is adapted for use with a cordless electrical
appliance.
10. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 9 wherein said electrical
connector is a 360┬░ connector adapted to be mated with a complementary electrical connector irrespective of the relative rotational orientation of the
two connectors.
11. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 10 wherein a plurality of
said sites are arranged around the circumferential periphery of a generally
cup-shaped body part of said connector.
12. An electrical connector as claimed in any of the preceding claims
including reset means associated with at least one of said one or more
controls.
13. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 12 wherein said reset
means is operable in response to disconnection and subsequent reconnection
of said electrical connector to a complementary connector.
14. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 13 wherein said reset
means comprises a camming member which is arranged to be moved, when
said complementary connectors are disconnected, into a position where it will
be urged to reset the respective control upon reconnection of said
complementary connectors.
15. An electrical connector as claimed in any of the preceding claims
wherein there are a plurality of overtemperature controls associated with the
connector, and said plurality of controls are set to respond at substantially the
same temperature.
16. An electrical connector as claimed in any of claims 1 to 14 wherein
there are a plurality of overtemperature controls associated with the connector,
and said plurality of controls are set to respond at different temperatures.
17. An electrical connector as claimed in any of claims 1 to 14 wherein at
least one of said controls comprises a fusible component adapted to soften or melt at a predetermined temperature.
18. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 17 wherein said fusible
component is coupled with switch means arranged to change state rapidly in
response to softening or melting of said fusible component.
19. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 17 or 18 comprising means
holding said fusible component in a forward position for closely thermally
contacting the heating element in use, and a spring urging said fusible
component away from said holding means, the fusible component being
arranged to release from its holding means in the event of the heating element overheating whereupon the spring is able to resile and open a set of switch
contacts.
20. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 19 wherein the fusible
component holding means is integral with said spring.
21. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 20 wherein the fusible
component is arranged to hold together two limbs of a spring metal
component which otherwise would spring apart, the arrangement being such
that in the event ofthe heating element overheating the interconnection of said
two limbs by the fusible component is disrupted whereby one of the limbs can resile and open the switch contacts.
22. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 19 wherein the fusible
component holding means comprises a bimetallic switch actuator.
23. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 22 wherein the fusible
component comprises a push-rod having a head portion engaged with said
bimetallic switch actuator such that switch-operating movements of said
bimetallic switch actuator are transfeπed to said push-rod for operating a first
set of switch contacts, a second set of switch contacts being provided for
operation by said push-rod under the action of said spring when the push-rod separates from the bimetallic switch actuator as a result ofthe heating element
overheating.
24. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 22 or 23 wherein the
bimetallic switch actuator is mounted in a spring metal carrier and said fusible
component is biased away from the bimetallic switch actuator by an integral part of said spring metal carrier.
25. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 24 wherein said carrier is
mounted on a wall portion of the control and the fusible component extends
through said wall portion for operating switch contacts provided on the other side of said wall portion.
26. An electrical connector as claimed in claim 19 wherein the fusible
component has a head portion engaged with a retaining member, and a spring
metal carrier has a forward portion supporting said retaining member and a
rearward portion engaged with said fusible component and biasing said fusible
component rearwardly of said retaining member.
27. An electrical connector as claimed in any of the preceding claims
including means providing for the connection of a steam sensor control to the
electrical connector.
28. An electrical connector as claimed in any of the preceding claims in
combination with an electrical heating element, the connector providing for
the supply of electricity to the heating element and the or each said control
being responsive to the temperature ofthe heating element.
29. An electrical connector and heating element combination as claimed in
claim 28 wherein the heating element is a planar heating element comprising a
metal plate having a sheathed, resistance wire heating element clamped or
clenched to the underside thereof.
30. An electrical connector and heating element combination as claimed in
claim 28 wherein the heating element is a thick film heating element.
31. An electrical connector and heating element combination as claimed in
claim 30 wherein spring terminals on the connector engage terminal portions
of said thick film heating element.
32. An electric water heating appliance including an electrical connector
and heating element combination as claimed in any of claims 28 to 31.
33. A bimetallic switch actuator comprising a spring metal carrier for a
bimetallic member and an integral overcentre mechanism.
34. A thermally responsive control for opening a set of switch contacts in
response to a sensed overtemperature condition, said control comprising a
spring arrangement held in loaded condition by a fusible component under
spring tension and free to resile in response to said fusible component softening or melting.
35. A thermal control for a heating element, said control comprising a
fusible component held under spring tension and arranged to be exposed, in
use of the control, to heat generated by the heating element, the arrangement
being such that in response to the heating element temperature exceeding a
predetermined level the fusible component will release the spring which will
move to open a set of switch contacts of the control.
36. A thermal control for a heating element in which the melting of a
fusible component in response to a heating element overtemperature condition
is arranged to release a spring to open a set of switch contacts, the fusible
component being held, so as in use ofthe control to be in thermal contact with
the heating element, by holding means forming part ofthe control and not part ofthe heating element.
37. A thermal control for a heating element, the control comprising a
fusible component mounted to be juxtaposed but not engaged with the heating
element so as to subject to the temperature thereof, and a spring held in
tension by said fusible component, the arrangement being such that in
response to a heating element overtemperature condition the fusible
component will soften or melt thereby releasing said spring.
38. A thermal control as claimed in claim 37 wherein the fusible
component is engaged with a bimetallic actuator aπanged to be responsive to
the heating element temperature for operating a first set of switch contacts,
and on softening or melting of the fusible component so that the spring is
released a second set of switch contacts is operated.
39. A thermally sensitive control for a heating element, said control
comprising a snap-acting bimetal which is arranged to operate a first set of
switch contacts of the control via a push-rod, the push-rod being formed of a
material having a predetermined softening or melting temperature and having
a head portion engaged with an aperture in the bimetal, and wherein a spring
urges the push-rod away from the bimetal so that, if the head portion of the
push-rod melts in an overtemperature situation, the push-rod will detach from
the bimetal and, under the action ofthe spring, will move to open a second set of switch contacts of the control, the arrangement being such that if the
bimetal fails to open the first set of switch contacts in a heating element
overtemperature situation, the release of the push-rod from the bimetal will
release the spring which thus can open the second set of switch contacts very
quickly.
40. A plug or socket connector adapted to be mated with a complementary
socket or plug connector and wherein an integral heating element
overtemperature control of the first-mentioned connector is arranged to be
reset by disconnecting and then reconnecting the two connectors.
41. A connector as claimed in claim 40 which is adapted to be secured to
the underside of a planar heating element and wherein the integral heating
element overtemperature control is arranged so that with the connector
secured to the heating element a temperature-responsive member of the
control is held in thermal contact with the heating element.
42. A connector as claimed in claim 41 wherein said
temperature-responsive member comprises a bimetal.
43. A connector as claimed in claim 42 wherein said bimetal is arranged to
determine the condition of a set of switch contacts ofthe control.
44. A connector as claimed in claim 43 wherein the bimetal is arranged to
co-operate with the switch contacts via a bistable mechanism.
45. A connector as claimed in claim 44 wherein said bistable mechanism
comprises an overcentre mechanism.
46. A connector as claimed in claim 45 wherein the bimetal is mounted in
a spring metal carrier which additionally has component parts constituting or
included in said overcentre mechanism.
47. A connector as claimed in claim 46 wherein the connector has a
moulded plastics material body portion formed with an integral external
pocket for location of said spring metal carrier.
48. A connector as claimed in any of claims 40 to 47 wherein a plurality of
controls are integrated with the connector in similar fashion.
49. A connector as claimed in claim 48 wherein at least one of said
controls comprises a fusible component.
50. A connector as claimed in any of claims 40 to 49 wherein said
connector comprises a connector for a cordless appliance.
51. A connector as claimed in claim 50 wherein said connector is a 360┬░
connector which can be mated with its complementary connector irrespective
ofthe relative rotational orientation ofthe two connectors.
52. A connector as claimed in claim 50 or 51 wherein said connector is
adapted to be fitted to the appliance part of the cordless appliance and the
complementary connector is adapted to be fitted to the base part.
53. A connector as claimed in any of claims 40 to 52 wherein a camming
element is provided in the connector for resetting the control.
54. A connector as claimed in claim 53 wherein said camming element is
provided in a chamber of said connector which has an opening into a void
within the connector which is occupied by the complementary connector when
the two connectors are mated together, a portion of said camming element
being arranged to project out of said chamber and into said void via said
opening when the two connectors are disconnected and to be urged back into
said chamber by contact with the complementary connector when the two connectors are reconnected after being disconnected, the resulting movement
ofthe camming member being utilized for resetting the control.
55. A connector as claimed in claim 54 wherein the operation of said
control in response to an element overtemperature condition is arranged to
apply a spring force to the camming member within said chamber, such spring
force urging the camming member to move so as to project its said portion
through said opening when the two connectors are disconnected.
56. An appliance incorporating a heating element and an inlet connector
for said heating element, said inlet connector comprising a connector as
claimed in any of claims 40 to 55 having said control(s) in close thermal
contact with the heating element.
57. A spring metal carrier for a bimetallic switch actuator, said carrier
comprising a first portion adapted for the mounting of said bimetal and a
second, integral part defining part at least of a bistable overcentre mechanism.
58. A carrier as claimed in claim 57 comprising a base part and turned up
and over end parts at opposite ends of said base part, said end parts having
formations for receiving the respective end of a bimetal and said base part
having released therefrom first and second spring parts which extend towards each other, said first and second spring parts comprising said bistable
overcentre mechanism.
59. A carrier as claimed in claim 58 wherein a member is disposed
between the opposed ends of said first and second spring parts so as to bias them further apart.
60. A 360┬░ connector for a cordless appliance, the connector having
integrated therewith a first, bimetallic element protector control and a second
fusible component element protector control operable at a temperature above
the operating temperature of the bimetallic control, both of said controls
comprising a spring metal carrier providing, respectively, a resilient mounting
for the bimetal ofthe bimetallic control and an integral overcentre mechanism
of the bimetallic control and a mounting for a retaining member engaged with
the fusible component and an integral spring biasing the fusible component away from its mounting.
PCT/GB1999/001219 1998-04-21 1999-04-21 Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements WO1999054903A3 (en)

Priority Applications (8)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9808484A GB9808484D0 (en) 1998-04-21 1998-04-21 Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements
GB9808484.1 1998-04-21
GB9815894A GB9815894D0 (en) 1998-04-21 1998-07-21 Improvements relating to controls for water boiling vessels
GB9815894.2 1998-07-21
GB9903652.7 1999-02-17
GB9903652A GB9903652D0 (en) 1999-02-17 1999-02-17 Improvements relating to controls for electric heating elements
GB9904908.2 1999-03-03
GB9904908A GB9904908D0 (en) 1999-02-17 1999-03-03 Improvements relating to controls for electric heating elements

Applications Claiming Priority (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
DE1999602456 DE69902456D1 (en) 1998-04-21 1999-04-21 Improvements in control of electric heating elements
EP19990918131 EP1075701B1 (en) 1998-04-21 1999-04-21 Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements
DE1999602456 DE69902456T2 (en) 1998-04-21 1999-04-21 Improvements in control of electric heating elements

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1999054903A2 true true WO1999054903A2 (en) 1999-10-28
WO1999054903A3 true WO1999054903A3 (en) 1999-12-02

Family

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Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/GB1999/001219 WO1999054903A3 (en) 1998-04-21 1999-04-21 Improvements relating to the control of electric heating elements

Country Status (5)

Country Link
EP (1) EP1075701B1 (en)
CN (2) CN1292446C (en)
DE (2) DE69902456D1 (en)
GB (1) GB2339088B (en)
WO (1) WO1999054903A3 (en)

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WO2001064084A1 (en) 2000-03-02 2001-09-07 Otter Controls Limited Control for a liquid heating vessels
WO2001093732A1 (en) 2000-06-05 2001-12-13 Otter Controls Limited Improvements relating to liquid heating vessels
EP1233649A1 (en) * 2001-02-19 2002-08-21 Strix Limited Thermally sensitive control for a liquid heating vessel
US7021963B2 (en) 2002-08-15 2006-04-04 3M Innovative Properties Company Electrical contact
CN104682122A (en) * 2013-12-03 2015-06-03 钟志刚 Embedded intelligent power supply socket

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GB2349508B (en) * 1999-04-26 2003-04-16 Otter Controls Ltd Improvements relating to thermally-responsive controls
GB2365319B (en) 2000-08-07 2004-02-25 Otter Controls Ltd Improvements relating to liquid heating vessels
GB2365752B (en) 2000-08-14 2003-11-19 Otter Controls Ltd Improvements relating to water boiling vessels
CN2504753Y (en) * 2001-10-25 2002-08-07 邵志成 Socket with improved temp induction control structure
DE60309213D1 (en) * 2003-01-16 2006-11-30 Otter Controls Ltd Improving the control of electric heating elements
GB2410615B (en) * 2003-01-16 2005-10-26 Otter Controls Ltd Mounting for a bimetallic actuator
GB0329140D0 (en) 2003-12-16 2004-01-21 Otter Controls Ltd Improvements relating to thermal control units
FR2926394B1 (en) 2008-01-10 2010-01-22 Seb Sa Thermal safety device
CN102446405B (en) * 2011-08-24 2014-02-26 美的集团股份有限公司 Sensor control method and control device thereof
DE102013113650A1 (en) * 2013-12-06 2015-06-11 INTER CONTROL Hermann Köhler Elektrik GmbH & Co KG Thermal switching device, heater assembly and method of assembling a thermal switch means to a heating device

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WO2001093732A1 (en) 2000-06-05 2001-12-13 Otter Controls Limited Improvements relating to liquid heating vessels
EP1233649A1 (en) * 2001-02-19 2002-08-21 Strix Limited Thermally sensitive control for a liquid heating vessel
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CN104682122A (en) * 2013-12-03 2015-06-03 钟志刚 Embedded intelligent power supply socket

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
CN1139089C (en) 2004-02-18 grant
CN1495820A (en) 2004-05-12 application
DE69902456D1 (en) 2002-09-12 grant
GB2339088B (en) 2002-07-24 grant
EP1075701B1 (en) 2002-08-07 grant
DE69902456T2 (en) 2003-04-24 grant
EP1075701A2 (en) 2001-02-14 application
CN1305635A (en) 2001-07-25 application
GB9909171D0 (en) 1999-06-16 grant
WO1999054903A3 (en) 1999-12-02 application
GB2339088A (en) 2000-01-12 application
CN1292446C (en) 2006-12-27 grant

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