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United States Patent Application 20170342635
Kind Code A1
SONG; Il Keun ;   et al. November 30, 2017

WASHING MACHINE AND LIQUID ADDITIVE SUPPLY DEVICE FOR A WASHING MACHINE

Abstract

Embodiments of the present invention provide a washing machine, having a drum configured to accommodate laundry, a water supply unit configured to supply water into the drum, and a liquid additive supply device configured to supply a liquid additive into the drum, where the liquid additive supply device includes a reservoir tank configured to store the liquid additive, and a floater installed in the reservoir tank and configured to float upward by a buoyant force to determine a fill-level of the liquid additive. The floater has a slanted portion having a width narrowing toward a top thereof to reduce a resistance of the liquid additive when the floater floats upward by the buoyant force.


Inventors: SONG; Il Keun; (Seoul, KR) ; KIM; Hyeon Gyu; (Seoul, KR)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Dongbu Daewoo Electronics Corporation

Seoul

KR
Family ID: 1000002342578
Appl. No.: 15/365809
Filed: November 30, 2016


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: D06F 39/028 20130101
International Class: D06F 39/02 20060101 D06F039/02

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
May 27, 2016KR10-2016-0065954

Claims



1. A washing machine comprising: a drum configured to hold laundry; a water supply unit configured to supply water into the drum; and a liquid additive supply device configured to supply a liquid additive into the drum, wherein the liquid additive supply device comprises: a reservoir tank configured to hold liquid additive; and a buoyant floater disposed in the reservoir tank and configured to float on a surface of the liquid additive, wherein a position of the buoyant floater indicates a fill-level of the liquid additive, and wherein the buoyant floater comprises a slanted portion and a pointed top to reduce a resistance of the liquid additive when the buoyant floater floats upward.

2. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the reservoir tank comprises a first tank and a second tank, wherein the first tank is configured to hold a first type of liquid additive and comprises a first buoyant floater, and wherein the second tank is configured to accommodate a second kind of liquid additive and comprises a second buoyant floater.

3. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the buoyant floater comprises: a buoyant portion configured to generate a buoyant force; a rotatable connecting arm coupled to the buoyant portion at a first side of the buoyant floater and coupled to one side of the reservoir tank by a hinge; and a weight provided at a second side of the buoyant floater and configured to apply a load to the rotatable connecting arm, wherein the first side and the second side are opposite sides.

4. The washing machine of claim 3, wherein the liquid additive supply device further comprises a sensing unit disposed on a side of the reservoir tank facing the buoyant portion, and configured to sense a proximity of the buoyant portion, and a magnetic member disposed inside of a lower portion of the buoyant portion and wherein the sensing unit is configured to detect the magnetic member.

5. The washing machine of claim 3, wherein the buoyant portion covers 60% to 90% of a lower surface of the reservoir tank.

6. The washing machine of claim 3, wherein the weight is fastened to the rotatable connecting arm by at least one of a screw and a bolt.

7. The washing machine of claim 4, wherein the liquid additive supply device further comprises: a control unit configured to identify a shortage of liquid additive in response to a shortage signal transmitted from the sensing unit; and a display unit configured to display an indication of the shortage of the liquid additive in response to a control signal transmitted from the control unit.

8. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the slanted portion comprises curved surfaces and wherein the buoyant floater comprises a streamlined vertical cross section.

9. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the slanted portion comprises flat surfaces and wherein the buoyant floater has a triangular vertical cross section.

10. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the slanted portion comprises curved surfaces with a round top end and wherein the buoyant floater has a semicircular vertical cross section.

11. A liquid additive supply device, the device comprising: a removable reservoir tank disposed within an interior space of a detergent dispenser and configured to hold a liquid additive; and a buoyant floater disposed on one side of a lower portion of the removable reservoir tank and configured to float upward to determine a fill-level of the liquid additive, wherein the buoyant floater comprises a slanted portion having a width narrowing toward a top end of the slanted portion, wherein the slanted portion reduces a resistant force exerted on the buoyant floater by the liquid additive when the buoyant floater floats upward due to a buoyant force.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein the removable reservoir tank comprises a first tank and a second tank, wherein the first tank and the second tank are configured to separately hold different kinds of liquid additives, wherein the first tank comprises a first buoyant floater, and wherein the second tank comprises a second buoyant floater.

13. The device of claim 11, wherein the buoyant floater comprises: a buoyant portion configured to generate the buoyant force; a rotatable connecting arm disposed on the buoyant portion and coupled to one side of the removable reservoir tank by a hinge; and a weight disposed at an end of the rotatable connecting arm and configured to apply a load to the rotatable connecting arm.

14. The device of claim 13, further comprising: a sensing unit disposed on one side of the removable reservoir tank facing the buoyant portion and configured to sense proximity of the buoyant portion; and a magnetic member disposed inside the buoyant portion and configured to be detected by the sensing unit.

15. The device of claim 13, wherein the buoyant portion covers 60% to 90% of a lower surface of the reservoir tank.

16. The device of claim 13, wherein the weight is coupled to the rotatable connecting arm by at least one of a screw and a bolt.

17. The device of claim 11, wherein the slanted portion comprises curved surfaces with at a pointed top end and wherein the buoyant floater has a streamlined vertical cross section.

18. The device of claim 11, wherein the slanted portion comprises flat surfaces with at a pointed top end and wherein the buoyant floater has a triangular vertical cross section.

19. The device of claim 11, wherein the slanted portion comprises curved surfaces with a round top end and wherein the buoyant floater has a semicircular vertical cross section.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is based on and claims priority to Korean Patent Application No. 10-2016-0065954, filed on May 27, 2016, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] Embodiments of the present disclosure generally relate to the field of washing machines, and more specifically, to a liquid additive supply device for a washing machine.

BACKGROUND

[0003] A washing machine is an apparatus that removes contaminants from clothing, bedding or the like, using a detergent, friction created by a flow of water and the rotation of a pulsator, and forces or impacts applied to the laundry by the pulsator. Newly developed fully automatic washing machines are capable of automatically performing a series of steps such as washing, rinsing, and removing excess water, without the assistance of the user between steps.

[0004] Depending on the type of washing tub used to hold objects to be washed, washing machines may be classified into top-loading washing machines, where a washing tub stands upright, and drum-type washing machines where the washing tub is disposed horizontally. Compared to top-loading washing machines, drum-type washing machines have a reduced overall height and an increased washing capacity, and rarely cause fabric to become twisted. As such, the demand for drum-type washing machines is increasing.

[0005] Generally, washing machines are provided with a detergent supply device for supplying a proper amount of detergent depending on the quantity of laundry to be washed. When water is supplied into the tub, the detergent supply device is operated so that detergent is supplied into the tub to mix with the water. Examples of the detergent used in washing laundry include powder detergents and liquid detergents.

[0006] The structure of the detergent supply device may vary depending on the kind of detergent used, and a washing machine that uses a liquid detergent may have some advantages over a washing machine that uses a powder detergent. For example, it is often difficult to move a powder detergent upward. As such, the installation position of the detergent supply device is limited to an upper portion of the tub. In contrast, a liquid detergent can be easily moved upward by a device capable of forcibly moving fluids, such as a pump or the like. For a washing machine that uses a liquid detergent, the detergent supply device may be installed under the tub. In other words, for washing machines that use liquid detergent, components can be arranged more freely than for washing machines that use a powder detergent.

[0007] Furthermore, liquid detergent may be diluted with water and produces a better washing/foaming action. Thus, liquid detergent has become popular in recent years. A detergent supply device of a washing machine may be provided with a reservoir tank capable of storing liquid detergent. However, it is difficult to visually confirm the fill-level of the liquid detergent through the reservoir tank. In order to prevent an insufficient amount of liquid detergent from being used, the detergent supply device may be provided with a separate detergent detecting sensor.

[0008] The detergent supply device of a washing machine may detect the existence of, or the absence of, detergent by using a buoyant floater. However, a detergent or a fabric softener (hereinafter referred to as a "liquid additive") stored in the detergent supply device may be very high in viscosity. In this case, the buoyancy of the floater may be compromised. Even when the liquid additive is used in a large amount, the floater may fail to float upward due to the viscosity of the liquid. As a result, a sensing failure may occur, and it may not be possible to detect the lack of liquid additive.

SUMMARY

[0009] Embodiments of the present invention provide a washing machine with a liquid additive supply device configured to supply a liquid additive into the drum.

[0010] According to one embodiment, a washing machine is disclosed. The washing machine includes a drum configured to hold laundry, a water supply unit configured to supply water into the drum, and a liquid additive supply device configured to supply a liquid additive into the drum. The liquid additive supply device includes a reservoir tank configured to hold the liquid additive, and a buoyant floater disposed in the reservoir tank and configured to float on the liquid additive, where a position of the buoyant floater indicates a fill-level of the liquid additive, and where the buoyant floater includes a slanted portion and a pointed top to reduce a resistance of the liquid additive when the buoyant floater floats upward.

[0011] According to another embodiment, a liquid additive supply device is disclosed, including a removable reservoir tank disposed within an interior space of a detergent dispenser and configured to hold a liquid additive, and a buoyant floater disposed on one side of a lower portion of the reservoir tank and configured to float upward to determine a fill-level of the liquid additive. The buoyant floater includes a slanted portion having a width narrowing toward a top end of the slanted portion, where the slanted portion reduces a resistant force exerted on the buoyant floater by the liquid additive when the buoyant floater floats upward due to a buoyant force.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary washing machine including an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating a schematic structure of the washing machine illustrated in FIG. 1 according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0014] FIG. 3A is an exploded perspective view illustrating the removal of an exemplary reservoir tank in a liquid additive supply device according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0015] FIG. 3B is a diagram illustrating an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a side view of an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a partially-cutaway perspective view illustrating a detailed configuration and structure of an exemplary floater of a liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0018] FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 are diagrams illustrating structures of an exemplary buoyant portion of a floater of a liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0019] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. The illustrative embodiments described in the detailed description, drawings, and claims are not meant to be limiting. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the subject matter presented here.

[0020] One or more exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which one or more exemplary embodiments of the disclosure can be easily determined by those skilled in the art. As those skilled in the art will realize, the described exemplary embodiments may be modified in various different ways, all without departing from the spirit or scope of the present disclosure, which is not limited to the exemplary embodiments described herein.

[0021] It is noted that the drawings are schematic and are not necessarily dimensionally illustrated. Relative sizes and proportions of parts in the drawings may be exaggerated or reduced in size, and a predetermined size is merely exemplary and not limiting. The same reference numerals designate the same structures, elements, or parts illustrated in two or more drawings in order to exhibit similar characteristics.

[0022] The exemplary drawings of the present disclosure illustrate ideal exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure in more detail. As a result, various modifications of the drawings are expected. Accordingly, the exemplary embodiments are not limited to a specific form of the illustrated region, and for example, include modifications of form due to manufacturing.

[0023] The configuration and operation according to one embodiment of the present disclosure will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

[0024] FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary washing machine including an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating a schematic structure of the washing machine illustrated in FIG. 1 according to embodiments of the present disclosure. FIG. 3A is an exploded perspective view illustrating the removal of an exemplary reservoir tank in a liquid additive supply device according to embodiments of the present disclosure. FIG. 3B is a diagram illustrating an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. FIG. 4 is a side view of an exemplary liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. FIG. 5 is a partially-cutaway perspective view illustrating a detailed configuration and structure of an exemplary floater of a liquid additive supply device according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0025] Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the drum type washing machine 1 includes a liquid additive supply device 10 capable of storing a liquid additive such as a detergent or a fabric softener. The liquid additive supply device 10 may be disposed in a front upper portion of the washing machine 1. The liquid additive supply device 10 may be selectively opened and closed using a cover 2.

[0026] As illustrated in FIG. 2, the drum type washing machine 1 may include: a drum 5; a drying device 20 configured to dry laundry contained in the drum 5; a water supply unit 30 configured to supply water to the drum 5; a water drain 40 configured to drain the water; a power supply device or cord 45 configured to supply electric power to the washing machine 1; and a liquid additive supply device 10 configured to supply a liquid additive used to wash the laundry.

[0027] The drum 5 holds the laundry to be dried. The drum 5 may be connected to the drying device 20 and the water supply unit 30. When drying laundry, air may be supplied to the drum 5 from the drying device 20. When washing laundry, water may be supplied from the water supply unit 30. The water contained in the drum 5 may be drained through the water drain 40.

[0028] The drying device 20 may dry laundry contained in the drum 5. The drying device 20 may include a circulation device configured to circulate air within the drum 5, an exhaust port configured to release water vapor generated when the laundry is being dried, and a heater configured to heat the air within the drum 5.

[0029] The water supply unit 30 supplies the water into the drum 5. The water supply unit 30 may be connected to the liquid additive supply device 10, where the water supplied from the water supply unit 30 is supplied into the drum 5 by the liquid additive supply device 10. The water supply unit 30 may include, for example, a pipe or a hose and may be disposed in an upper portion of the washing machine 1.

[0030] The water drain 40 allows water discharged from the drum 5 to be drained out of the washing machine 1. The power supply device 45 supplies electric power to the washing machine 1.

[0031] The liquid additive supply device or reservoir 10 may hold a liquid additive used to wash laundry. The liquid additive may be mixed with the water and supplied to the drum 5. According to some embodiments, multiple liquid additive supply devices are disposed within the washing machine 1. For example, the liquid additive supply device 10 may be divided into compartments for separately storing liquid detergent, powdery detergent, and fabric softener.

[0032] Referring to FIGS. 3A to 4, the liquid additive supply device 10 may include a reservoir tank 100 and a floater 200, according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0033] The inclusion of the aforementioned components in one embodiment of the present disclosure does not mean that one embodiment of the present disclosure consists of only the aforementioned components but means that one embodiment of the present disclosure includes these components. One embodiment of the present disclosure may further include other components (e.g., the well-known components of a liquid additive supply device). The well-known components will not be described herein because they may obscure the scope of the present disclosure.

[0034] The reservoir tank 100 may be removably disposed within an interior space 71 of a detergent dispenser 70 to store a liquid additive such as a detergent or a fabric softener.

[0035] As illustrated in FIG. 3A, the reservoir tank 100 may be accommodated within the interior space 71 of the detergent dispenser 70 so that the reservoir tank 100 can be removed from the detergent dispenser 70.

[0036] As illustrated in FIG. 4, a removal sensing unit 600 may be included for sensing removal of the reservoir tank 100. The removal sensing unit 600 may include a removal sensing magnetic member 610 and a removal sensor 620. The removal sensing magnetic member 610 may be disposed on a lower surface of the reservoir tank 100, for example.

[0037] Furthermore, the removal sensor 620 may be disposed within the detergent dispenser 70 facing the removal sensing magnetic member 610 so that the removal sensor 620 can sense the removal sensing magnetic member 610. The removal sensor 620 may generate a signal upon sensing a magnetic field of the removal sensing magnetic member 610. The signal is transmitted to a control unit 400 so that the control unit 400 is aware of the removal of the reservoir tank 100.

[0038] As illustrated in FIG. 3B, the reservoir tank 100 may be divided into a first tank 110 and a second tank 120 to separately store different liquid additives (e.g., a detergent and a fabric softener). The dimensions of the reservoir tank 100 may vary based on the kind of liquid additives to be stored therein.

[0039] When using the washing machine 1, the user places laundry into the washing machine 1 and selects the kind of liquid additives before starting a washing operation. If the liquid additive is selected and the washing operation is started (e.g., by operating selection keys disposed on an outer surface of the washing machine 1), a pump (e.g., a suction pump) is driven when the water is supplied to the tub 5 so that the liquid additive stored in the reservoir tank 100 is supplied to the tub 5.

[0040] At this time, the floater 200 senses a fill-level of the liquid additive. If the fill-level of the liquid is below a threshold, the floater 200 may notify the user of the shortage of liquid additive, and the user may add more liquid additive to the reservoir tank.

[0041] A filter 50 may be disposed in the reservoir tank 100 to filter extraneous materials out of the liquid additive. The liquid additive passed through the filter 50 may be moved along by a suction nozzle 60 disposed on one side of the reservoir tank 100, and may be supplied into the tub 5 through a supply line (not shown).

[0042] The floater 200 may be disposed on one side of a bottom surface of the reservoir tank 100. The floater 200 may float upward due to buoyancy when the liquid additive is added, and a position of the floater is used to determine the fill-level of the liquid additive.

[0043] When the floater 200 is moved upward, a slanted portion 201 having a width that narrows toward a top of the slanted portion 201 may be coupled to the floater 200 to reduce resistance or friction caused by the liquid additive.

[0044] When the reservoir tank 100 includes the first tank 110 and the second tank 120 as described above, a plurality of floaters 200 may be used, where the first tank 110 and the second tank 120 include independent floaters 200.

[0045] Specifically, as illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, the floater 200 may include a buoyant portion 210, a connecting arm 220 and a weight 230.

[0046] The buoyant portion 210 is configured to generate a substantial buoyant force so that the floater 200 floats upward in the liquid additive due to the buoyant force. The buoyant portion 210 may include the slanted portion 201 described above. Different examples of the floater 200 will be described later with reference to FIGS. 6 and 8 according to embodiments of the present invention.

[0047] The connecting arm 220 may be connected to the buoyant portion 210 and may be coupled to one side of the reservoir tank 100 using hinge 221 so that the buoyant portion 210 can rotate about the hinge 221.

[0048] The weight 230 is disposed at an end of the connecting arm 220 opposite from the buoyant portion 210. The weight 230 may apply a load (e.g., a downward force) to the connecting arm 220, and may help the buoyant portion 210 easily float upward due to the buoyant force.

[0049] In this regard, the liquid additive supply device 10 may further include a sensing unit 300 as illustrated in FIG. 4.

[0050] The sensing unit 300 may be disposed on one side of the reservoir tank 100 facing the buoyant portion 210, and may sense the buoyant portion 210, which indicates a shortage of the liquid additive. If liquid additive is added to the reservoir tank 100, the fill-level of the liquid additive increases. Thus, the buoyant portion 210 moves upward due to the buoyant force, and moves away from the sensing unit 300. The fill-level of the liquid additive will be lower when the amount of liquid additive is deficient. Thus, the buoyant portion 210 moves toward the sensing unit 300. At this time, the sensing unit 300 senses the proximity of the buoyant portion 210 and, therefore, identifies a shortage of the liquid additive.

[0051] A magnetic member 211 to be sensed by the sensing unit 300 may be disposed within the buoyant portion 210 so that the sensing unit 300 can sense the proximity of the buoyant portion 210. Since the magnetic member 211 generates a magnetic field, the sensing unit 300 may sense the magnetic field of the magnetic member 211 and may sense the proximity of the buoyant portion 210 without making contact with the buoyant portion 210.

[0052] When the magnetic member 211 is disposed at a distal end of the buoyant portion 210 relatively far from the hinge 221, the upward movement of the buoyant portion 210 may be impeded by the weight of the magnetic member 211. As such, the magnetic member 211 may be disposed at the center of a lower portion of the buoyant portion 210 so that the weight of the magnetic member 211 does not impede the upward movement of the buoyant portion 210.

[0053] In order to increase the buoyant force, the buoyant portion 210 may have a size corresponding to a majority of a surface (e.g., 60% to 90% of the surface) of the lower portion of the reservoir tank 100. If the area of the buoyant portion 210 increases, the overall volume of the buoyant portion 210 may increase. Thus, even if the liquid additive has a large viscosity, the increased buoyant force of the floater 200 causes the floater 200 to float easily.

[0054] If a size of a lower surface of the buoyant portion 210 is smaller than 60% of a lower surface of the reservoir tank 100, the volume of the buoyant portion 210 required for generating the buoyant force may be too small. In this case, it is difficult for the buoyant portion 210 to move upward when opposed by the resistance of the liquid additive. If the size of the lower surface of the buoyant portion 210 is larger than 90% of the lower surface of the reservoir tank 100, the buoyant force may be too great. If the buoyant portion 210 is too large, a capacity of the reservoir tank 100 for holding the liquid additive may be unacceptably small.

[0055] An air chamber 212 may be formed in an interior space of the buoyant portion 210 so that the buoyant portion 210 is sufficiently buoyant.

[0056] The weight 230 is configured to provide a load so that the buoyant portion 210 can be easily moved upward by the buoyant force. The weight 230 may be fastened to the connecting arm 220 by a screw or a bolt 231.

[0057] The liquid additive supply device 10 may further include a control unit 400 and a display unit 500 so that the user can easily detect a shortage of the liquid additive or a removal of the reservoir tank 100.

[0058] The control unit 400 may detect a shortage of the liquid additive upon receiving a signal sent from the sensing unit 300. The control unit 400 may detect the removal of the reservoir tank 100 upon receiving a signal sent from the removal sensor 620.

[0059] The display unit 500 displays indications of a shortage of the liquid additive and a removal of the reservoir tank 100 in response to a control signal transmitted from the control unit 400 to notify the user of the shortage of the liquid additive and the removal of the reservoir tank 100.

[0060] Different examples of the floater 200 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 6 to 8, according to embodiments of the present invention.

[0061] Referring to FIG. 6, the slanted portion 201 of the floater 200 may include curved surfaces with a pointed top so that the floater 200 (e.g., the buoyant portion 210) has a streamlined vertical cross section.

[0062] As illustrated in FIG. 7, the slanted portion 201 may include flat surfaces meeting at a point such that the floater 200 has a triangular overall vertical cross section.

[0063] As illustrated in FIG. 8, the slanted portion 201 may include curved surfaces with a round top such that the floater 200 has a semicircular vertical cross section.

[0064] For the embodiments depicted in FIG. 7 and FIG. 8, even if the liquid additive has a relatively high viscosity, the resistance of the liquid additive is smaller than when the upper surface of the buoyant portion 210 is a flat surface. This enables the buoyant portion 210 to easily float upward.

[0065] Although exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure are described above with reference to the accompanying drawings, those skilled in the art will understand that the present disclosure may be implemented in various ways without changing the necessary features or the spirit of the present disclosure.

[0066] Therefore, it should be understood that the exemplary embodiments described above are not limiting, but only an example in all respects. The scope of the present disclosure is expressed by claims below, not the detailed description, and it should be construed that all changes and modifications achieved from the meanings and scope of claims and equivalent concepts are included in the scope of the present disclosure.

[0067] From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that various embodiments of the present disclosure have been described herein for purposes of illustration, and that various modifications may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present disclosure. The exemplary embodiments disclosed in the specification of the present disclosure do not limit the present disclosure. The scope of the present disclosure will be interpreted by the claims below, and it will be construed that all techniques within the scope equivalent thereto belong to the scope of the present disclosure.

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