WO2004032676A1 - Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool - Google Patents

Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2004032676A1
WO2004032676A1 PCT/US2003/032011 US0332011W WO2004032676A1 WO 2004032676 A1 WO2004032676 A1 WO 2004032676A1 US 0332011 W US0332011 W US 0332011W WO 2004032676 A1 WO2004032676 A1 WO 2004032676A1
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WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
cleaning
motor
power
housing
output shaft
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2003/032011
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Lawrence A. Blaustein
John Osher
Jay Tapper
Douglas A. Gall
John R. Nottingham
John W. Spirk
Patrick W. Brown
Original Assignee
The Procter & Gamble Company
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

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L17/00Apparatus or implements used in manual washing or cleaning of crockery, table-ware, cooking-ware or the like
    • A47L17/04Pan or pot cleaning utensils
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B13/00Brushes with driven brush bodies or carriers
    • A46B13/02Brushes with driven brush bodies or carriers power-driven carriers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B7/00Bristle carriers arranged in the brush body
    • A46B7/04Bristle carriers arranged in the brush body interchangeably removable bristle carriers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47KSANITARY EQUIPMENT NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; TOILET ACCESSORIES
    • A47K11/00Closets without flushing; Urinals without flushing; Chamber pots; Chairs with toilet conveniences or specially adapted for use with toilets
    • A47K11/10Hand tools for cleaning the toilet bowl, seat or cover, e.g. toilet brushes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B08CLEANING
    • B08BCLEANING IN GENERAL; PREVENTION OF FOULING IN GENERAL
    • B08B1/00Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members
    • B08B1/04Cleaning by methods involving the use of tools, brushes, or analogous members using rotary operative members

Abstract

A hand held cleaning tool is powered by commonly available batteries. Preferably a momentary switch selectively delivers power from the batteries to a motor. An output shaft of the tool includes an expandable coupling, such as, for example a set of swaging cams. Torque delivery arms radiate outward from the output shaft. For example, the torque delivery arms are carried by a hub. The hub is attached to the output shaft with a pin. The hub also acts to secure a power train including the motor and output shaft to a housing of the cleaning tool. The torque delivery arms are received in slots or interdental spaces associated with a cleaning head. Torque is delivered to the cleaning head with a reduced stress concentration.

Description

HAND-HELD, BATTERY POWERED CLEANING TOOL

Background

[0001] The invention is related to the art of cleaning tools. The invention will be described in terms of a household cleaning tool, such as, for example, a kitchen or bathroom cleaning tool. However, the invention can be applied to other cleaning, polishing, sanding or similar applications.

[0002] Known battery powered cleaning tools suffer from at least one of the following three drawbacks. They require non-standard power sources or batteries that are not readily available; they include slide-type switches, which are not momentary in nature; and/or they apply torque, and, therefore, stresses, to cleaning heads or brushes at relatively narrow portions of cleaning attachments.

[0003] For example, U.S. Patent No. 5,870,790 to Root, et al. discloses several battery powered scrubbing devices. Each disclosed scrubbing device includes a single rechargeable battery. Root does not disclose the size or type of battery. However, the relative size and shape of the battery shown in the illustrations, as well as a probable power requirement of a scrubbing device, indicate that the battery contemplated by Root is of a type not readily available to the general public.

[0004] Rechargeable batteries have a limited lifetime. Additionally, rechargeable batteries are known to have preferred operating and care conditions. For example, the useful lifetime of some rechargeable batteries is diminished if the batteries are not fully discharged before recharging. Many users of battery powered cleaning tools are unaware of, or are unwilling to devote the required attention to, a rechargeable battery care regime. Therefore, the difficulty in replacing the rechargeable batteries of Root, due to their uncommon nature, may lead to a shortened useful lifetime of the overall device. [0005] The scrubbing devices of Root also include switches. Root does not disclose the type of switch. However, it appears that the switches disclosed in Root are of the push on/push off or slide type. For example, one switch is disposed at a back end of a scrubbing device. In that position, the switch cannot be reasonably held in an on position while the tool is being used. Non-momentary switches can be problematic in cleaning tools because a distracted user can forget to shut the tool off before placing it, for example, on a counter top. For instance, a user may be distracted, by a telephone or a child, and place a cleaning tool with a spinning cleaning head on a counter top. In that case, the cleaning tool may run across the counter top possibly knocking glasses and dishes to the floor. If, on the other hand, a cleaning tool were to incorporate a momentary switch, the cleaning head would stop moving as soon as the tool was released. Furthermore, the inclusion of a momentary actuation switch in a cleaning tool helps conserve energy. For example, through the use of a momentary switch the tool is de- powered during every pause in the cleaning operation, or whenever the user is not making a conscious effort to actuate the machine. Therefore, battery life is extended. [0006] Lastly, Root discloses several cleaning heads. The cleaning heads include relatively narrow hexagonally shaped jacks that are received in a hexagonally shaped socket of the cleaning tool main body. Therefore, when the tool is operated, torque is applied with a very short moment arm to the edges and surfaces of the hexagonally shaped jack. Because the torque is applied with a relatively short moment arm, a working cleaning head, such as disclosed by Root, undergoes undue mechanical stresses that can lead to premature aging and, eventually, fatigue and brush failure.

[0007] Similarly, U.S. Patent No. 6,295,681 Bl to Dolah discloses a rotary brush cleaning device including a rechargeable battery enclosed in a power source case, a switch of undisclosed type that appears to be a slide switch, and a plurality of cleaning heads. While Dolah suggests that replaceable batteries may be used, Dolah does not suggest a replaceable battery arrangement that would be adequate to provide the required power, nor does Dolah suggest a brush design that could accommodate replaceable batteries while maintaining an ergonomic form factor and pleasing design. The brushes disclosed by Dolah include base portions that are used to connect the brushes to the main body of the cleaning device. The base portions include L-shaped slots for receiving pins of the cleaning device. While no dimensions are given in either reference, the base portions of Dolah might be of a larger diameter than the jacks of Root. Therefore, Dolah may deliver torque to the brushes with a slightly larger moment arm. However, the brushes of Dolah include relatively narrow elongated intermediate shafts. The relatively narrow elongated intermediate shafts can undergo undue stress concentration which may lead to premature failure.

[0008] A third reference, U.S. Patent No. 4,137,588 to Sandt, et al. discloses a portable cleaning device. Like Root and Dolah, Sandt discloses a cleaning device having a switch of undisclosed type. However, the switch appears to be a non-momentary slide type. The portable cleaning device includes a rechargeable battery of undisclosed size and type. However, the size and shape of the battery shown in the figures appear to be that of a battery that is not readily available to the general public. The brushes of Sandt appear to receive torque in a manner similar to the brushes of Dolah. That is, while no dimensions are given in any of the references, it appears that the brushes of Sandt receive torque at a slightly larger moment arm than do the hexagonal jacks of Root. However, the brushes of Sandt include relatively narrow shafts where damaging stress due to torque can be concentrated.

[0009] Therefore, there exists a desire for a battery operated hand-held cleaning tool powered by commonly available batteries. There is a desire for a hand-held cleaning tool that is actuated with a momentary switch that de-powers the tool automatically when the tool is released. Additionally, there is a desire for a cleaning tool that delivers lower stress to cleaning heads thereby extending cleaning head life.

Summary

[0010] A first embodiment of a cleaning system includes a power compartment including, a power source housed within the power compartment, a motor mounted within the power compartment, the motor powered by the power source, a switch for selectively connecting the motor to the power source, and, a power output driven by the motor for delivering power to a device connected to the power compartment, a transmission module selectively connectable to the power compartment; and a cleaning head selectively connectable to the transmission module

[0011] For example, the power source can include four AA size batteries. The switch can be a momentary switch. The cleaning head can include a cleaning element preheated with a cleansing agent. Preferably, the power compartment includes a gripping portion sized and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand of a user. The cleaning head can be selectively connected to the transmission module via a swaging cam associated with an output of the transmission, the swaging cam being operative to mate with and retain a mating portion of the cleaning head. Additionally or alternatively, the cleaning head can be selectively connected to the transmission module via an output hub associated with an output of the transmission, the output hub including a torque arm, the toque arm being operative to be received within interdental spaces of torque teeth of the cleaning head when the cleaning head is connected to the transmission module, the torque arm thereby providing a moment arm for the delivery of torque to the cleaning head. [0012] A second embodiment takes the form of a cleaning wand configured for handheld cleaning. The cleaning wand includes an elongated power compartment. A power source is housed within the power compartment. A motor is mounted within the power compartment. The motor can be selectively connected to the power source. The power compartment also houses a power output driven by the motor for delivering power to a device connected to the power compartment. The cleaning wand also includes an elongated transmission module having threads for selectively connecting the transmission module to or disconnecting the transmission module from the power compartment. The transmission module includes a mechanism for transforming power from the power output to a form selected for a particular cleaning task. The cleaning wand can drive a cleaning head. A switch for selectively connects the motor to the power source. [0013] For example, the cleaning head can be connected to the cleaning wand via an expandable coupling received in a socket of the cleaning head. For instance, the expandable coupling can be a swaging cam. The switch can include a switch support mounted to a back end of the motor and a resiliently biased arm mounted too the switch support. For instance, the resiliently biased arm can be resiliently spaced, in an over lapping manner, from a power terminal of the motor. The switch can further include a flexible membrane sealingly engaging an aperture in the power compartment. The membrane is positioned in overlapping relation with the resiliently biased arm. Deflecting the membrane caused the resiliently biased arm to deflect and come into contact with the power terminal of the motor.

[0014] A third embodiment includes a cleaning system comprising a handle, a power source housed within the handle, an upper housing selectively connectable to the handle, a transmission mounted within the upper housing, a motor mounted to a power input portion of the transmission, a contact holder mounted to a back end of the motor, a switching element mounted to the contact holder, the switching element being resiliently bias away from a power contact of the motor, a hub comiected to an output of the transmission, and a cleaning head selectively connectable at the hub. [0015] For example, the power source can include four AA size batteries. The switch can be a momentary switch. The cleaning head can include a cleaning element pretreated with a cleansing agent. Preferably, the handle includes a gripping portion sized and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand of a user. The cleaning head can be selectively comiected to the transmission via a swaging cam associated with an output of the transmission, the swaging cam being operative to mate with and retain a mating portion of the cleaning head. Additionally or alternatively, the cleaning head can be selectively connected to the transmission via an output hub associated with an output of the transmission, the output hub can include a torque arm, the toque arm being operative to be received within interdental spaces of torque teeth of the cleaning head when the cleaning head is connected to the transmission module, the torque arm thereby providing a moment arm for the delivery of torque to the cleaning head.

[0016] A fourth embodiment takes the form of cleaning wand configured for handheld cleaning. The cleaning wand includes an elongated handle. The wand includes a power source housed within the handle, an elongated upper housing including threads for selectively connecting the upper housing to or disconnecting the upper housing from the handle, a mechanism for transforming input power to a movement selected for a particular cleaning task, a motor mounted to the mechanism for providing input power to the mechanism. A switch selectively connects the motor to the power source. The wand also includes a cleaning head and an interconnect for selectively connecting the cleaning head to a movement output of the mechanism.

[0017] The wand can include a battery charging circuit. The interconnect can include an expandable coupling for being matingly received in a socket of the cleaning head. For example, the expandable coupling can include a swaging cam. The switch can include a switch support mounted to a back end of the motor a conductive resiliently biased arm mounted too the switch support, the resiliently biased arm being resiliently spaced, in an over lapping manner, from a power terminal of the motor.

[0018] A fifth embodiment is considered to be an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool. The cleaning tool includes a detachable cleaning head, a generally cylindrical housing, a battery located in a battery compartment in the housing, an electric motor located in the housing, a contact holder mounted to the motor, the contact holder including contacts for receiving power from the batteries and a switch element in overlapping relation to a motor contact. The switch element is resiliently biased away from the motor contact. The cleaning tool further includes an output shaft, and a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft. The output shaft extends outside the housing. The cleaning tool also includes means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft.

[0019] The means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft can include a swaging cam molded into the output shaft and a socket for receiving the swaging cam, the socket being associated with the cleaning attachment. The generally cylindrical housing can include a gripping portion sized and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand of a user. For example, the gripping portion is at least about 3.5 inches in length, thereby allowing the gripping portion to be comfortably cradled in a palm of a user. The gripping portion can be about one inch in width, thereby allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. The gripping portion is at about 1.4 inches in height, thereby allowing the gripping section to be cradled comfortably in a palm of a user and allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. A center of the switch can be spaced about 3/4 to about 1 inch from a first end of the gripping portion along a longitudinal axis of the housing, along an upper edge of the housing, so that when a heel of a hand of a user rests comfortably on the upper edge of the power compartment, a thumb of a user can comfortably actuate the switch. The gripping portion can be hollowed for forming a battery compartment for housing the replaceable batteries.

[0020] A sixth embodiment is considered to be an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool. The cleaning tool includes a detachable cleaning head, a generally cylindrical housing including a lower housing including a gripping portion, and an upper housing connected to the lower housing and extending away from the lower housing. An attachment point for the detachable head is located at a distal end of the upper housing. A battery is located in a battery compartment in the housing. An electric motor is also located in the housing. The cleaning tool includes a switch for actuating the cleaning tool by directing power from the battery to the electric motor. The switch is disposed in relation to the gripping portion to allow the switch to be comfortably operated by a finger of a hand gripping the gripping portion. The upper housing being dimensioned to space the detachable cleaning head from the gripping portion and the switch to allow the cleaning tool to be gripped, actuated and the cleaning head to be brought in contact with a work piece while preventing the work piece from interfering with the hand gripping the gripping portion or the finger operating the switch. Additionally the cleaning tool includes an output shaft, a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft, the output shaft extending outside the upper housing at the distal end, and a means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft. [0021] For example, the switch can be a momentary switch. The output shaft can include a swaging cam molded into the output shaft and the cleaning attachment can include a socket for receiving the swaging cam. The gripping portion can be sized and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand of a user. For example, the gripping portion is at least about 3.5 inches in length, thereby allowing the gripping portion to be comfortably cradled in a palm of a user. The gripping portion is at about one inch in width, thereby allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. The gripping portion is at about 1.4 inches in height, thereby allowing the gripping section to be cradled comfortably in a palm of a user and allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. The switch can be spaced about 3/4 to about 1 inch from a first end of the gripping portion along a longitudinal axis of the housing, along an upper edge of the housing so that when a heel of a hand of a user rests comfortably on the upper edge of the power compartment, a thumb of a user can comfortably actuate the switch.

[0022] A seventh embodiment is considered to be an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool. The cleaning tool includes a detachable cleaning head, a generally cylindrical housing including a lower housing including a gripping portion, and an upper housing connected to the lower housing and extending away from the lower housing. An attachment point for the detachable head is located at a distal end of the upper housing. A battery is located in a battery compartment in the housing. An electric motor is also located in the housing. The cleaning tool includes a momentary switch for actuating the cleaning tool by directing power from the battery to the electric motor. The momentary switch is disposed in relation to the gripping portion to allow the momentary switch to be comfortably operated by a finger of a hand gripping the gripping portion. The upper housing being dimensioned to space the detachable cleaning head from the gripping portion and the momentary switch to allow the cleaning tool to be gripped, actuated and the cleaning head to be brought in contact with a work piece while preventing the work piece from interfering with the hand gripping the gripping portion or the fmger operating the switch. Additionally the cleaning tool includes an output shaft, a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft, the output shaft extending outside the upper housing at the distal end, and a means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft.

[0023] For example, the output shaft can include a swaging cam molded into the output shaft and the cleaning attachment can include a socket for receiving the swaging cam. The gripping portion can be sized and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand of a user. For example, the gripping portion is at least about 3.5 inches in length, thereby allowing the gripping portion to be comfortably cradled in a palm of a user. The gripping portion is at about one inch in width, thereby allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. The gripping portion is at about 1.4 inches in height, thereby allowing the gripping section to be cradled comfortably in a palm of a user and allowing the fingers of a user to be comfortably wrapped around the gripping portion. The momentary switch can be spaced about 3/4 to about 1 inch from a first end of the gripping portion along a longitudinal axis of the housing, along an upper edge of the housing so that when a heel of a hand of a user rests comfortably on the upper edge of the power compartment, a thumb of a user can comfortably actuate the momentary switch.

[0024] An eighth embodiment takes the form of a durable cleaning tool. The durable cleaning tool includes a housing having a power compartment for holding a power source, a motor mounted within the housing, a switch for selectively connecting the motor to the power source if the power source is installed within the compartment, an output shaft, extending from within the housing to outside the housing, the output shaft being powered directly or indirectly by the motor, torque transmission arms extending radially outward from the portion of the output shaft extending outside the housing, a cleaning head, and, torque receiving elements associated with the cleaning head for receiving torque from the torque transmission arms.

[0025] For example, the cleaning tool further includes a hub attached to the portion of the output shaft extending outside the housing, the hub can carry the torque transmission arms. The torque receiving elements can comprise teeth. The torque transmitting arms can be receivable in interdental spaces between the teeth.

[0026] Advantages and benefits of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

Brief Description of the Drawing(s)

[0027] The invention may take form in various components and arrangements of components, and/or in various procedures and arrangements of procedures. The drawings are only for purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments and are not to be construed as limiting the invention.

[0028] FIG. 1 is a sectional elevation view of a battery powered cleaning tool.

[0029] FIG. 2 is a sectional plan view of the battery powered cleaning tool of FIG.1.

[0030] FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the battery powered cleaning tool of FIG. 1.

[0031] FIG. 4A - 4B are sectional views of working or cleaning heads that can be included in battery powered cleaning tools similar to the cleaning tool of FIG. 1.

[0032] FIG 5A - 5B perspective views of working or cleaning heads that can be included in battery powered cleaning tools similar to the cleaning tool of FIG. 1.

[0033] FIG. 6 is a diagram depicting elements of a means for connecting a working or cleaning head to an output shaft of battery powered cleaning tool of FIG. 1

[0034] FIG. 7 is an elevation view of a battery powered cleaning tool in the hand of a user.

[0035] FIG. 8 is a plan view of the battery powered cleaning tool of FIG. 7 in the hand of the user.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments [0036] Referring to FIG. 1 - FIG. 3, an ergonomic battery operated cleaning tool 100 includes a housing 102 and a cleaning head 104. The housing can be divided into sections. For example, the housing 102 includes a lower housing or power compartment 106 and an upper housing or transmission module 108. The lower housing 106 and the upper housing 108 include threads 110, 112, respectively. The threads 110, 112 are used to connect the upper housing or transmission module 108 to the lower housing or power compartment 106. The lower housing or power compartment 106 is sized to accommodate at least one readily available battery. For example, the power compartment can be sized to accommodate AAA, AA, C, D or 9V batteries. Both disposable and rechargeable batteries are available in these sizes. Additionally, chargers for these size rechargeable batteries are also readily available.

[0037] The exemplary lower housing or power compartment 106 is sized to accommodate four AA size batteries. Sizing the power compartment to accommodate four AA size batteries 114 allows the lower housing or power compartment to include an ergonomic gripping portion 116 while providing a six-volt power source with a 3,000 milliamp-hour (mA-hr) capacity (assuming commonly available alkaline-manganese dioxide cells are used).

[0038] Other power sources may be selected. However, selecting other power sources may require a reduction in the ergonomic features of the cleaning tool 100 in general and the gripping portion 116 in particular. For example, accommodating C-type or D-type batteries may require the gripping portion 116 to be wider. Additionally, accommodating the larger cells (C type, D type) might require a more complicated construction. If, for example, the power source included two C-type batteries, it might be necessary to run a wire from a contact at a bottom end 118 to a first motor terminal 120. [0039] In an embodiment sized to accommodate four AA batteries, a spring contact plate 122 located at the bottom end 118 of the housing 102 is held in place by a spring contact cover 123. For example, the spring contact cover snaps into a groove inside the bottom end 118 of the housing. The spring contact cover may include markings to indicate proper battery orientation. Alternatively, the spring contact plate 122 and/or cover 123 may be glued into place. The sprint contact 122 completes a series connection of the four AA batteries 114. Therefore, four properly installed batteries 114 provide positive and negative power delivery terminals 124, 126 from the batteries themselves at a convenient location within the housing 102.

[0040] Power is taken from the power delivery terminals 124, 126 and delivered to a motor 128 via contacts 130, 132. The contacts 130, 132 are supported by a contact holder 134. The contact holder 134 can be secured to the housing 102. For example, the contact holder 134 can be mounted to the lower housing or power compartment 106 with an adhesive or fastener. [0041] In the exemplary embodiment, the contact holder 134 is mounted to the motor 128. For example, fasteners, such as screws 136 are used to secure the contact holder 134 to a back end 138 of the motor 128. As will be explained in greater detail below, in the illustrated embodiment, the motor is associated with the upper housing 108. Therefore, the contact holder 134 is not mounted to the lower housing. Instead, the contact holder 134 (along with a portion of the motor 128) is simple slide into position within the lower housing 106. A keying arrangement (not shown), such as, for example, a tongue molded into the lower housing 102 and a groove included in the contact holder 134, ensures that the contact holder 134 is installed in a proper orientation and prevents the contact holder 134, as well as the motor 128 from rotating within the housing 102 during operation. For example, the keying arrangement ensures that the contacts 130, 132 line up with and engage the power tenninals 126, 124 respectively.

[0042] However, the contact holder 134 is mounted, it is sandwiched between the motor 128 and the positive and negative power delivery terminals 124, 126 of the set of batteries 114. The first contact 130 is positioned on the contact holder so as to provide a connection between, for example, the negative power delivery terminal 126 and the first motor terminal 120. The switch contact 132 is positioned and supported by the contact holder 134 to be in contact with, for example, the positive power delivery terminal 124. The switch contact 132 overlaps either a second motor terminal 140 or a contact plate 142, which is, for example, pressed in contact with the second motor terminal 140 by the contact holder 134. The switch contact 132 is resiliently biased away from the second motor contact 140 and/or the contact plate 142. The contact holder 134 is positioned and oriented, for example by the keying arrangement (not shown) so the switch contact 132 is adjacent a switch aperture 144 in the housing 102. For example, the aperture 144 is in the lower housing or power compartment 106. A button 146 is mounted adjacent the spring contact 132. For example, the button is made of a resilient material such as rubber, plastic or spring metal. Preferably, the button 146 seals the aperture 144. Pressing the button 146 brings the button 146 into contact with the spring contact 132 and presses it against the second motor contact and/or the contact plate 142, thereby completing the power circuit and delivering power to the motor 128.

[0043] The motor 128 is mounted to the housing 102. For example, where the contact holder 134 is secured to the lower housing or power compartment 106, the attachment of the motor 128 to the contact holder 134 by the screws 136 may be sufficient to secure the motor 128 to the lower housing or power compartment 106. Alternatively, additional bracketing, fasteners or adhesives may be used to secure the motor 128 to some part of the housing 102.

[0044] In the exemplary embodiment, the motor 128 is indirectly mounted to the upper housing or transmission module 108. For example, a motor mount 148 is secured to the motor 128 with fasteners, such as screws 149. Alternatively, adhesive can be used to secure the motor mount 148 to the motor 128. The motor mount 148 includes tabs or swaging cams 150. The tabs 150 are received or snap fit into slots 152 in a peripheral gear housing 154. The peripheral gear housing 154 includes gear teeth (not shown) on an inner wall (not shown) thereof. An outer bushing 156 is secured within the peripheral gear housing 154. For example, the outer bushing 156 is made of metal. For example, the outer bushing is friction fit or glued into the peripheral gear housing 154. An inner bushing 157 is friction fit, glued or otherwise fastened to a portion of a transmission output shaft 158. The transmission output shaft 158 and inner bushing 157 are installed within the outer bushing 156 and peripheral gear housing 154. An outer surface of the inner bushing 157 engages the inner surface of the outer bushing 156. A lubricant such as grease or petroleum jelly may be included therebetween. The periperal gear housing 154 and associated components are inserted into the upper housing or transmission module 108. When so installed, an output portion 160 of the output shaft 158 extends through the peripheral gear housing 154 and an output aperture 162 at a distal end 164 of the upper housing or transmission module 108. A seal 166 installed around the output portion, between the output portion 160 and the output aperture 162 prevents liquids and debris from entering the housing 102. A pin 168 secures a hub 170 to the output portion 160 of the transmission output shaft 158. The pin 168 extends through a first mounting aperture 172 in a shaft collar 174 of the hub 170. The pin 178 also extends through a second mounting aperture 176 in the output portion 160 of the transmission output shaft 158. The pin 168 is held in place by friction fit or adhesive. Alternatively, the pin 168 is a cotter pin, screw, or other fastening means.

[0045] The transmission output shaft is connected to an output 178 of the motor 128 by a mechanism or transmission 180. For example, a pinion gear 182 is mounted to an output shaft 184 of the motor 128. The pinion gear 182 mates with the first set of planetary gears 186. The first set of planetary gears 186 are supported by a first gear holder 188 and held in place by a gear retainer plate 187. The first gear holder 188 includes a second pinion gear 190. The second pinion gear 190 mates with the second set of planetary gears 192. The second set of planetary gears 192 are supported by a second gear holder 194 and held in place by a flange portion of the first gear holder 188. The second gear holder 194 is attached to the transmission output shaft 158. For example, the second gear holder 194 is molded to in unitary width a proximal end 196 of the transmission output shaft 158. An alignment bushing 197 is installed in or molded into the second gear holder 194 or proximal end 196 of the transmission output shaft 158. The alignment bushing 197 is coaxial with the transmission output shaft 158. An alignment pin 198 is received in alignment apertures 200, 201 in the first pinion gear 182 and the alignment bushing 197. The alignment pin 198 is coaxial with and aligns the motor 128, first pinion gear 182, first gear holder 188, and second gear holder 194. [0046] Alternatively, the alignment pin may be an additional molded and unitary component of the transmission output shaft 158. For example, when the motor 128 is mounted in the lower housing 106, modular assembly of the cleaning tool 100 is facilitated by including the alignment pin 198 as a molded-in component of the transmission output shaft 158.

[0047] In operation, when the button 146 is depressed, the resilient biasing of the switch contact 132 is overcome and the switch contact 132 engages the second motor terminal 140 or the contact plate 142 thereby completing the power circuit and delivering electrical energy from the batteries 114 to the motor 128. The motor output shaft rotates at a motor output speed. The first set of planetary gears 186 is engaged with the first pinion gear 182 and the gear teeth (not shown) of the peripheral gear housing 154. The rotation of the motor output shaft 184 causes the first pinion gear 182 to rotate. The rotation of the first pinion gear 182 causes the first set of planetary gears 186 to revolve around the first pinion gear 182 and drive the first gear holder 188 at a reduced speed and with an increased torque according to a first gear ratio between the first pinion gear 182 and the first planetary gears 186. Similarly, the second pinion gear 190 is driven by the rotation of the first gear holder 188. The rotation of the second pinion gear 190 causes the second set of planetary gears 192 to revolve around the second pinion gear 190 and drive the second gear holder 194 to rotate at a further reduced speed and a further increased torque according to a second gear ratio between the second pinion gear 190 and the second planetary gears 1192. The rotation of the second gear holder 194 causes the attached transmission output shaft 158 to rotate. The rotation of the transmission output shaft 158 causes the hub 170 to rotate as well as any attached cleaning head 104. [0048] Cleaning heads, such as, for example, cleaning head 104 are held in place by swaging cams 202. The swaging cams are attached to the transmission output shaft 158. For example, the swaging cams are molded to and unitary with a distal end 204 of the transmission output shaft 158.

[0049] It can be important to prevent water and other contaminants from entering the housing 102 of the cleaning tool 100. Therefore, as mentioned above, the cleaning tool includes the seal 166 for preventing water and contaminants from entering the housing 102 near the point where the transmission output shaft 158 extends out of the housing 102. An o-ring 203 seals the peripheral gear housing 154 against an inner wall of the upper housing or transmission module 108. Additionally, as explained above, the button 146 performs a sealing function. Alternatively, the button 146 may have additional sealing components associated therewith. If the housing 102 includes a plurality of sections, such as, for example, lower housing or power compartment 106 and upper housing or transmission module 108, a sealing component, such as a gasket 206, should be included therebetween. Where the housing 102 includes a removable battery door 208 for gaining access to a power source or batteries 114, a sealing element, such as an o-ring 210, should be included thereon.

[0050] Referring to FIG. 4A, FIG 4B, FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B, a wide variety of work heads, such as cleaning head 104, can be detachably connected to the hub 170 to complete the cleaning system 100. For example, the cleaning head 104 can be a pot scrubber 404, a glass washer 410, a bottle washer 420, or a general-purpose brush 430. Each work head includes elements directed toward a particular task. For example, pot scrubber 404 includes relatively short, stiff and abrasive bristles 440. It is anticipated that pot scrubbing may be a most demanding application of the cleaning system 100. For example, pot scrubbing may require that the pot scrubbing head 404 be pressed firmly against the work piece such as, for example, a cooking pot having food particles tenaciously adhered thereto, with a relatively high level of force. Therefore, in order to minimize cleaning head deflection, the pot scrubbing head 404 includes a relatively short stout body 444. Other work pieces, such as, for example, drinking glasses, are less likely to require the high level of cleaning effort associated with pots. Nevertheless, glassware provides its own set of cleaning challenges. For example, cleaning glasses can include long throats which make the recessed portions difficult to reach. Therefore, the glass washer 410 includes a long, narrow body 448 and somewhat softer bristles 452 as compared to the relatively stiff bristles 440 of the pot scrubber. The long body 448 and relatively soft, bendable bristles 452 allow the glass washer 410 to reach and clean portions of a work piece that may be inaccessible to other work heads. [0051] The bottle washer 420 includes features that make it preferable for cleaning bottles, such as, for example, baby bottles. Cleaning an individual baby bottle is not likely to be a particularly difficult task. However, where there is one baby bottle, there is likely to be a large number of other baby bottles. Therefore, a useful bottle washer quickly makes contact with all portions of the inner surface of a baby bottle in order to wipe away any residual, dried on milk or baby formula. Therefore, the bottle washer 420 includes a large number of individual brash filaments 464 distributed along a flexible wire shaft 468 and at a distal end 470 of the shaft. The wire shaft 468 is longer than a typical baby bottle. The brush filaments 464 are distributed along a portion of the shaft that is about at least as long as the depth of a typical baby bottle. The brush filaments 464 can be relatively soft and be directed more toward wiping than scraping. The bottle washer 420 includes short, stout connector portion 472 for connecting the wire shaft 468 to the hub 170.

[0052] The general purpose cleaning head 430 is of an intermediate length and may combine features of the pot scrubber 404 and, for example, the glass cleaner 410. For example, it can include the relatively stiff bristles of the pot scrubber 404 and the somewhat softer bristles 452 of the glass cleaner 410. A body portion 484 of the general purpose cleaning head 430 can be somewhat longer than the short, stout body 444 of the pot scrubber 404.

[0053] Referring to FIG. 6, with continued reference to FIG. 4A, FIG 4B, FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B, work heads, such as, for example, the cleaning heads 104, 404, 410, 420 and 430 share certain features in common. For example, all the work heads include a connector section 610. The connector section 610 includes a socket element 164 centered on a longitudinal axis 168 of the cleaning head. The socket includes a beveled leading edge 622 and a beveled trailing edge 624. Additionally, the connector section 610 includes a ring of torque-receiving teeth 630. The ring of torque-receiving teeth is concentric with the socket 614 about the longitudinal axis 618 of the cleaning head. In the exemplary embodiment, the socket element 614 is recessed into the cleaning head relative to the ring of torque-receiving teeth 630. There are, for example, eight torque- receiving teeth in the ring, hi some embodiments there are only 4 torque receiving teeth. Between adjacent torque-receiving teeth is an interdental space 634. In the exemplary embodiment, there are eight interdental spaces 634. In some embodiments there are 4 interdental spaces. The torque-receiving teeth 630 extend from a ring base 638. [0054] As explained above, the connecting hub 170 includes a collar 174 that is fitted over an output portion 160 of transmission output shaft 158. Pin 168 secures the collar 174 and, therefore, the hub 170, to the transmission output shaft 158. The hub 170 also includes, for example, four torque transmission arms 644.

[0055] During an installation or connection process, the swaging cams 202 of the distal end of the transmission output shaft 204 contact the leading beveled edge 622 of the socket 614. As mating pressure is increased, the swaging cams 202 are deflected inwardly toward the longitudinal axis 618 of the working head. Eventually, the swaging cams slide over the beveled trailing edge 624 of the socket expanding outward away from the longitudinal axis 618, firmly engaging an interior shoulder 650 of the socket 614, thereby pulling the working head toward the hub 170 and securing the head as part of the cleaning system 100.

[0056] During this connection or mating process, the torque delivery arms 644 are received within at least some of the interdental spaces 634. If an initial misalignment does not permit the torque-delivering arms 644 to be received within interdental spaces 634, then the working head can be twisted slightly until the torque transmission arms 644 and the interdental spaces 638 are properly aligned.

[0057] As explained above, when the transmission output shaft 158 is driven into rotation by the motor 128 and the transmission or drive mechanism 180, the hub 170 is also driven into rotation by the pin 168 comiecting the hub 170 to the transmission output shaft 158. Therefore, the torque delivering arms 644 are also driven to rotate. By the time a work head is pressed against a work piece, the torque-delivering arms 644 are driven against respective teeth of the torque-receiving ring 630, and the working head is driven to rotate. The ring of torque-receiving teeth 630 is spaced radially away from the longitudinal axis 618 of the working head. For example, an outer diameter of the ring of torque-receiving teeth 630 can be about 1 inch. The torque transmitting arms 644 extend away from the longitudinal axis 648 of the cleaning system 100. For example, the torque transmitting arms 644 extend from the hub 174 to an inner wall 652 of the hub 170. For example, the inner wall 652 and, therefore, a distal end 656 of the torque-delivering arms is at a radius of about J inch from a longitudinal axis 648 of the cleaning system 100. Torque-receiving teeth of the ring 630 are engaged by the torque transmission or delivery arms 644 at the distal end 656 of the arms 644. The resulting moment arms provide for the delivery of torque to the work head at a reduced level of stress on the torque-receiving elements of the work head as compared to the level of stress delivered in prior art devices. Additionally, an increased radius of connecting elements such as the hub 170 and the connector section 610 of the work head allow additional material to be used in their manufacture, thereby increasing an overall ruggedness of the cleaning system 100 while maintaining an ergonomic design.

[0058] Referring to FIG. 7, the housing 102 has a generally cylindrical shape. However, portions are tapered away from the cylindrical to provide an ergonomically comfortable design. For example, a portion of the housing 102 is tapered to provide the ergonomic gripping portion 116. For example, the gripping portion 116 can have a rounded rectangular cross section. Gripping portion 116 has a length 710 at least long enough to allow it to fit comfortably in a hand 714 of an intended user. For instance, the length 710 is between about 3 inches and about 5 inches. In one embodiment, the length 710 is about 3.5 inches. This length provides enough room for four gripping fingers 718 of the hand 714 of the intended user to fit comfortably within the gripping portion 116 while allowing a compact and comfortable overall length for the housing 102. Similarly, a width 722 and a height 726 of the gripping portion are selected to allow the gripping portion 616 to fit comfortably within a palm 730 of the hand 714 of the intended user and allow the four gripping fingers 718 to wrap comfortably and securely around the gripping portion. Additionally, in the exemplary embodiment, the length 710, width 722 and height 726 of the gripping portion 116 are selected to allow an internal portion or chamber within the gripping portion 116 to accommodate a power source, such as, for example, four commonly available AA size batteries 114. [0059] In the exemplary embodiment, the width 722 of the gripping portion is about one inch in width. For example, in one embodiment the width of the gripping portion 116 is tapered. The width of that gripping portion 116 varies from about 0.98 inches to about 1.1 inches. The height 726 of the gripping portion is about 1.4 inches. For example, in one embodiment the height of the gripping portion 116 is tapered. The height of that gripping portion 116 varies from about 1.34 inches to about 1.525 inches. [0060] The actuating button 146 is adjacent to a first or proximal end 731 of the gripping portion 116. The button 146 is positioned so that a thumb 734 of the hand 714 gripping the gripping portion 116 can comfortably actuate the cleaning system 100 by pressing the button 146. For example, a center 738 of the button 146 is spaced 742 from the first end of the gripping portions 116 by about % of an inch to about 1 inch. It should be noted that the designation of the location of the first end of the gripping portion is somewhat arbitrary. Some observers consider the button 146 to be within a differently defined gripping portion of the cleaning system 100. The description above is intended to be exemplary only and is not intended to limit the invention.

[0061] When the housing 102 includes a plurality of sections, such as the lower housing or power compartment 106 and the upper housing or transmission module 108, the cleaning system 100 can be readily adapted to particular cleaning tasks. For example, the upper housing or transmission module 108 can have a length 750 that is relatively short when the cleaning system 100 is directed toward kitchen cleaning tasks such as the washing of dishes, glasses and pots and pans. One embodiment directed toward these tasks includes an upper housing having a length 750 of about 2-1/2 inches. [0062] When the cleaning system 100 is directed toward other tasks, the upper housing 108 can include features directed toward those tasks. For example, when the cleaning system 100 is directed toward cleaning a shower or bathtub area, the length 750 of the upper housing 108 can be longer. For instance, the length 750 of the upper housing 108 can be selected to give the overall cleaning system 100 a longer reach. For example, overall cleaning system lengths of about 14 inches to about 40 inches can be directed toward using the cleaning system to reach across a tub to clean walls adjacent thereto or to clean the tub itself without stooping or kneeling. Other sizes can accommodate the cleaning of a sink or other bathroom fixtures. [0063] When the housing 102 includes, for example, a lower housing 106 and an upper housing 108, the cleaning system can be further adapted to particular cleaning tasks. For example, pot scrubbing may benefit from high torque being delivered to the cleaning head. On the other hand, bottle washing may benefit from high-speed brush rotation. Bathroom bowl cleaning may benefit from a slow brash rotation speed. Accordingly, an upper housing with a higher torque motor or a transmission that provides high torque at reduced speed can be installed when the cleaning system is to be directed toward cleaning pots and other items with baked and burned on food. In contrast, an upper housing with a high-speed motor or a lower gear ratio may be used in conjunction with a bottle-washing cleaning head such as bottle washer 420 so that all surfaces of the bottle can be quickly wiped clean and a next bottle can quickly be washed. [0064] The invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments. Modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the specification. It is intended that all such modifications and alterations are included insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A cleaning system characterized in that it comprises: a power compartment including: a power source housed within the power compartment; a motor mounted within the power compartment, the motor powered by the power source; a switch for selectively connecting the motor to the power source; and, a power output driven by the motor for delivering power to a device connected to the power compartment; a transmission module selectively connectable to the power compartment; and a cleaning head selectively connectable to the transmission module.
2. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising a cleaning wand configured for hand-held cleaning, wherein: the power compartment is elongated and the motor is selectively connected to the power source; and the transmission module is elongated and includes threads for selectively connecting the transmission module to or disconnecting the transmission module from the power compartment, the transmission module including a mechanism for transforming power from the power output to a form selected for a particular cleaning task.
3. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising: a handle including said power compartment, wherein the power source is housed within the handle; an upper housing selectively connectable to the handle, wherein said transmission module comprises a transmission that is mounted within the upper housing, said transmission comprising a power input portion and an output; and said motor comprises a back end and a power contact, and said motor is mounted to the power input portion of the transmission; a contact holder mounted to said back end of the motor; said switch comprises a switching element mounted to the contact holder, the switching element being resiliently biased away from the power contact of the motor; and a hub connected to the output of the transmission, wherein said cleaning head is selectively connectable at the hub.
4. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising a cleaning wand configured for hand-held cleaning, the cleaning wand comprising: an elongated handle including said power compartment, wherein said power source is housed within the handle; an elongated upper housing including threads for selectively connecting the upper housing to or disconnecting the upper housing from the handle; a mechanism for transforming input power to a movement selected for a particular cleaning task; wherein said motor is mounted to the mechanism for providing input power to the mechanism, the motor being selectively connected to the power source; and an interconnect for selectively connecting the cleaning head to a movement output of the mechanism for transforming input power.
5. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool comprising: a detachable cleaning head; a generally cylindrical housing including said power compartment; wherein said power source comprises a battery located in a battery compartment in the housing; wherein said motor comprises an electric motor that is located in the housing; a contact holder mounted to the motor, the contact holder including contacts for receiving power from the battery and said switch comprises a switch element in overlapping relation to a motor contact, the switch element being resiliently biased away from the motor contact; an output shaft; said transmission module comprises a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft, the output shaft extending outside the housing; and means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft.
6. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool comprising: a detachable cleaning head; a generally cylindrical housing including said power compartment, and a lower housing including a gripping portion; an upper housing connected to the lower housing and extending away from the lower housing, an attachment point for the detachable head being located at a distal end of the upper housing; wherein said power source comprises a battery located in a battery compartment in the housing; wherein said motor comprises an electric motor located in the housing; said switch is used for actuating the cleaning tool by directing power from the battery to the electric motor, the switch being disposed in relation to the gripping portion to allow the switch to be comfortably operated by a finger of a hand gripping the gripping portion, the upper housing being dimensioned to space the detachable cleaning head from the gripping portion and the switch to allow the cleaning tool to be gripped, actuated and the cleaning head to be brought in contact with a work piece while preventing the work piece from interfering with the hand gripping the gripping portion or the finger operating the switch; an output shaft; said transmission module comprises a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft, the output shaft extending outside the upper housing at the distal end; and means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft.
7. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising an ergonomic, hand held, battery powered cleaning tool comprising: a detachable cleaning head; a generally cylindrical housing including said power compartment, and a lower housing including a gripping portion; an upper housing connected to the lower housing and extending away from the lower housing, an attachment point for the detachable head being located at a distal end of the upper housing; wherein said power source comprise a battery located in a battery compartment in the housing; wherein said motor comprises an electric motor located in the housing; wherein said switch comprises a momentary switch for actuating the cleaning tool by directing power from the battery to the electric motor, the momentary switch being disposed in relation to the gripping portion to allow the switch to be comfortably operated by a finger of a hand gripping the gripping portion, the upper housing being dimensioned to space the detachable cleaning head from the gripping portion and the momentary switch to allow the cleaning tool to be gripped, actuated and the cleaning head to be brought in contact with a work piece while preventing the work piece from interfering with the hand gripping the gripping portion or the finger operating the momentary switch; an output shaft; wherein said transmission module comprises a transmission for coupling the motor to the output shaft, the output shaft extending outside the upper housing at the distal end; means for attaching the detachable cleaning head to the output shaft.
8. A cleaning system according to Claim 1 comprising a durable cleaning tool comprising: a housing including said power compartment; wherein said motor is mounted within the housing; and said switch selectively connects the motor to the power source if the power source is installed within the compartment; an output shaft, extending from within the housing to outside the housing, the output shaft being powered directly or indirectly by the motor; torque transmission arms extending radially outward from the portion of the output shaft extending outside the housing; and, torque receiving elements associated with the cleaning head for receiving torque from the torque transmission arms.
9. A cleaning system according to any of the preceding claims wherein the power source comprises at least one battery, and preferably comprises four AA size batteries.
10. A cleaning system according to any of Claims 1-6 and 8-9 wherein the switch is a momentary switch.
PCT/US2003/032011 2002-10-08 2003-10-08 Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool WO2004032676A1 (en)

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US10266402 US20040064907A1 (en) 2002-10-08 2002-10-08 Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool

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AU2003282522A AU2003282522A1 (en) 2002-10-08 2003-10-08 Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool
EP20030774714 EP1549175A1 (en) 2002-10-08 2003-10-08 Hand-held, battery powered cleaning tool

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JP2006501963A (en) 2006-01-19 application
EP1549175A1 (en) 2005-07-06 application
CA2413216A1 (en) 2004-04-08 application
US20040064907A1 (en) 2004-04-08 application

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