Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050178166 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/965,761
Publication dateAug 18, 2005
Filing dateOct 18, 2004
Priority dateFeb 13, 2004
Publication number10965761, 965761, US 2005/0178166 A1, US 2005/178166 A1, US 20050178166 A1, US 20050178166A1, US 2005178166 A1, US 2005178166A1, US-A1-20050178166, US-A1-2005178166, US2005/0178166A1, US2005/178166A1, US20050178166 A1, US20050178166A1, US2005178166 A1, US2005178166A1
InventorsJae Kim, Gean Kim, Chi Hur, Yu Kang, Sang Je
Original AssigneeKim Jae K., Gean Kim, Hur Chi W., Kang Yu B., Je Sang M.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Button assembly for electric home appliance and control panel assembly using the same
US 20050178166 A1
Abstract
A button assembly for an electric home appliance and a control panel assembly using the same are provided. The button assembly includes a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively; and a unifying member for joining the button sleeves, the unifying member having at least one flexible portion. The unifying member has a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves, and the at least flexible portion has at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers. The plurality of button sleeves may be made up of at least two button sleeve groups, each button sleeve group having at least one button sleeve, adjacent button sleeve groups of the at least two button sleeve groups being separated by a predetermined distance. The at least one flexible portion has a predetermined length, the predetermined length being greater than the predetermined distance, to compensate for dimensional discrepancies in a control panel assembly resulting from normal manufacturing processes. The control panel assembly includes a panel having a plurality of through holes formed in an exterior surface; and a substrate disposed behind the panel. The button assembly is disposed between the panel and the substrate, and the plurality of button sleeves of the button assembly are respectively inserted into the plurality of through holes.
Images(6)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(36)
1. A button assembly for an electric home appliance, comprising:
a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively; and
a unifying member for joining the button sleeves, the unifying member having at least one flexible portion.
2. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the plurality of button sleeves comprises at least two button sleeve groups, each button sleeve group having at least one button sleeve, adjacent button sleeve groups of the at least two button sleeve groups being separated by a predetermined distance.
3. The button assembly as claimed in claim 2, wherein the at least one flexible portion has a predetermined length, the predetermined length being greater than the predetermined distance.
4. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one flexible portion has a U-shaped form.
5. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one flexible portion has a V-shaped form.
6. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one flexible portion has a semicircular form.
7. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of button sleeves is formed to be inserted into one of a plurality of through holes formed in a panel.
8. The button assembly as claimed in claim 7, further comprising at least one catch, protruding from a perimeter of one end of each button sleeve, for preventing the one end from passing through a corresponding through hole when the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes.
9. The button assembly as claimed in claim 7, wherein the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes from a rear side of the panel.
10. The button assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the unifying member comprises a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves, and wherein the at least flexible portion comprises at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers.
11. A button assembly for an electric home appliance, comprising:
a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively;
a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves; and
at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers.
12. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one group joining member has a U-shaped form.
13. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one group joining member has a V-shaped form.
14. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one group joining member has a semicircular form.
15. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein the button sleeve couplers are formed of a rigid material.
16. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein each of the plurality of button sleeves is formed to be inserted into one of a plurality of through holes formed in a panel.
17. The button assembly as claimed in claim 16, further comprising at least one catch, protruding from a perimeter of one end of each button sleeve, for preventing the one end from passing through a corresponding through hole when the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes.
18. The button assembly as claimed in claim 16, wherein the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes from a rear side of the panel.
19. The button assembly as claimed in claim 11, wherein the button sleeves of the predetermined group are arranged in one of a linear pattern, a curved pattern, and a grid pattern.
20. A button assembly for an electric home appliance, comprising:
a plurality of button sleeves;
a plurality of push buttons respectively captured in the plurality of button sleeves;
a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves; and
at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers.
21. A control panel assembly, comprising:
a panel having a plurality of through holes formed in an exterior surface;
a substrate disposed behind the panel; and
a button assembly disposed between the panel and the substrate, the button assembly comprising:
a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively; and
a unifying member for joining the button sleeves, the unifying member having at least one flexible portion.
22. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 21, wherein each of the plurality of button sleeves is inserted into one of the plurality of through holes of the panel.
23. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 21, wherein each of the plurality of push buttons has one end extending through one of the plurality of through holes of the panel.
24. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 22, further comprising at least one catch, protruding from a perimeter of one end of each button sleeve, for preventing the one end from passing through a corresponding through hole when the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes.
25. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 21, wherein the unifying member comprises a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves, and wherein the at least flexible portion comprises at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers.
26. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 25, wherein the button sleeves of the predetermined group are arranged in one of a linear pattern, a curved pattern, and a grid pattern.
27. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 25, wherein the button sleeve couplers are formed of a rigid material.
28. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 21, wherein each of the plurality of push buttons is captured in one of the plurality of buttons sleeves.
29. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 21, further comprising a plurality of tactile switches mounted on the substrate, wherein each of the plurality of push buttons has one end in contact with one of the plurality of tactile switches.
30. A washing machine, comprising:
a cabinet; and
a control panel assembly mounted with respect to the cabinet, the control panel assembly comprising:
a panel having a plurality of through holes formed in an exterior surface;
a substrate disposed behind the panel; and
a button assembly disposed between the panel and the substrate, the button assembly comprising:
a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively; and
a unifying member for joining the button sleeves, the unifying member having at least one flexible portion.
31. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 30, wherein each of the plurality of button sleeves is inserted into one of the plurality of through holes of the panel.
32. The control panel assembly as claimed in claim 30, wherein each of the plurality of push buttons has one end extending through one of the plurality of through holes of the panel.
33. The washing machine as claimed in claim 31, further comprising at least one catch, protruding from a perimeter of one end of each button sleeve, for preventing the one end from passing through a corresponding through hole when the button sleeves are inserted into the through holes.
34. The washing machine as claimed in claim 30, wherein the unifying member comprises a plurality of button sleeve couplers, each button sleeve coupler ganging together a predetermined group of the plurality of button sleeves, and wherein the at least flexible portion comprises at least one group joining member for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers.
35. The washing machine as claimed in claim 34, wherein the button sleeves of the predetermined group are arranged in one of a linear pattern, a curved pattern, and a grid pattern.
36. The washing machine as claimed in claim 34, wherein the button sleeve couplers are formed of a rigid material.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of Korean Application No. 10-2004-0009707, filed on Feb. 13, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The present invention relates to an electric home appliance, and more particularly, to a button assembly for an electric home appliance and a control panel assembly using the same, in which the button assembly is made up of a plurality of sleeves, which are joined by a unifying member for collectively inserting the sleeves into a corresponding plurality of through holes formed in a panel of the control panel assembly.
  • [0004]
    2. Discussion of the Related Art
  • [0005]
    Contemporary washing machines are typically provided with control means comprising a plurality of switches, such as tactile switches, mounted on a substrate of a control panel assembly for controlling one or more wash cycles. The tactile switches are respectively positioned behind a corresponding plurality of push buttons, each of which is inserted into one of a plurality of sleeves installed in a panel of the control panel assembly, so that each push button has one end operably coupled to the tactile switches and the other end protruding from the panel's outer surface to allow manipulation by a user. An exemplary drum-type washing machine having such display means is shown in FIG. 1, and FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrates an exemplary control panel assembly of a general home appliance such as a washing machine.
  • [0006]
    Referring to FIG. 1, a cabinet 2 forms the exterior of a washing machine 1 in which a tub (not shown) is mounted. A drum 4 for accommodating laundry is rotatably disposed inside the tub, to be rotated by a motor (not shown) coupled to the rear of the drum. A plurality of lifters 8, for lifting the laundry in the drum 4 to a predetermined height from which the laundry may fall due to gravity, is installed on an inner surface of the drum. A cabinet cover 12, having a laundry opening 10 centrally formed in the cabinet cover for accessing the laundry in the drum 4, is mounted on a front side of the cabinet 2, and a door 16 for closing the laundry opening is hinged with respect to the cabinet cover. A control panel assembly 14, for controlling operation of the washing machine 1, is disposed above the cabinet cover 12 and is mounted with respect to the cabinet 2.
  • [0007]
    Referring to FIG. 2, the control panel assembly 14 includes a panel 20 in which a plurality of through holes 26 are formed as an arrangement for facilitating user operation of the washing machine 1, a substrate 30 disposed behind the panel, and a plurality of button sleeves 40 respectively inserted into the through holes formed in the panel. A rotary switch 32 and a plurality of tactile switches 34 are mounted on the substrate 30. To operate these switches, the panel 20 is provided with a rotary dial 22 and a plurality of push buttons 24 to be coupled with corresponding elements mounted on the substrate 30, i.e., the rotary switch and tactile switches, respectively, to allow a physical force to be transmitted from the panel to the substrate. Thus, the rotary dial 20 is used to select a wash cycle of a washing machine, and the push buttons 24 are used to control the operation of the washing machine.
  • [0008]
    When the control panel assembly 14 is assembled, the button sleeves 40, which are individually inserted into the through holes 26 from the rear side of the panel 20, respectively receive the push buttons 24. Thus, one end of each push button 24 extends through a corresponding button sleeve 40 inserted in a corresponding through hole 26 formed in the panel 20, while the other end makes contact with a corresponding tactile switch 34 mounted on the substrate 30. Each button sleeve 40, which is generally annular to correspond to the shape of the through hole 26, serve to guide the manipulation of the push button 24 for a smooth and stable operation and to guard against an abrasion of the push button's circumference on sharp edges of the panel 20, which would result due to the contrasting hardnesses of the material (e.g., molded plastic) forming the push button and the material (e.g., sheet metal) forming the panel. Upon insertion into the through holes 26, one end of each button sleeve 40 is exposed on the user's side of the panel 20, to thereby form part of the washing machine's exterior surface by joining a push button surface with the surrounding panel surface and by creating a visual outline around the push button 24. Therefore, for aesthetic purposes, the exposed ends of the button sleeves 40 are contoured, and the material forming the button sleeves is typically imparted with a coordinated color, i.e., a color matching or contrasting that of the push buttons 24. For this reason, the button sleeves 40 are sometimes referred to as “button decorations.”
  • [0009]
    The button sleeves 40 are injection-molded members formed for an insertion into a corresponding through hole 26 and simultaneous reception of a corresponding push button 24. The button sleeves 40, which are individually formed, are respectively assembled with the panel 20, by an assembly step of insertion into and fixing to each through hole 26, which makes for a tedious and cumbersome assembly process, since the number of assembly steps corresponds to the number of push buttons/button sleeves. Furthermore, the large number of components (i.e., button sleeves) increases the part count for manufacturing the control panel assembly 14, thereby complicating the assembly process, burdening assembly component storage and tracking requirements for the control panel assembly, and increasing the likelihood that some number of the button sleeves may be misplaced or lost.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0010]
    Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a button assembly for an electric home appliance that substantially obviate one or more problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.
  • [0011]
    An object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, by which a plurality of button sleeves are formed as a unified body.
  • [0012]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, which enables a compensation of dimensional discrepancies in a control panel assembly resulting from normal manufacturing processes.
  • [0013]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, which enhances assembly efficiency of a control panel assembly.
  • [0014]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, which resolves a product deficiency caused by dimensional discrepancies resulting from normal manufacturing processes.
  • [0015]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, which enables a plurality of button sleeves to be joined by a unifying member having at least one flexible portion.
  • [0016]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a button assembly for an electric home appliance, which enables a manufacturing operation to increase an error tolerance.
  • [0017]
    Another object of the present invention is to provide a control panel assembly suitable for implementing the button assembly of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    Additional advantages, objects, and features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will become apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following or may be learned from practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.
  • [0019]
    To achieve these objects and other advantages in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, there is provided a button assembly for an electric home appliance. The button assembly comprises a plurality of button sleeves for receiving a plurality of push buttons, respectively; and a unifying member for joining the button sleeves, the unifying member having at least one flexible portion.
  • [0020]
    In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a control panel assembly comprising a panel having a plurality of through holes formed in an exterior surface; a substrate disposed behind the panel; and the above button assembly disposed between the panel and the substrate, the button assembly, which is disposed between the panel and the substrate, such that the plurality of button sleeves are aligned with and respectively inserted into the plurality of through holes.
  • [0021]
    In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a washing machine comprising a cabinet and the above control panel assembly, which is mounted with respect to the cabinet.
  • [0022]
    The unifying member of a first embodiment may be comprised of a plurality of button sleeve couplers and at least one group joining member in accordance with a second embodiment. In each case, the elements perform a function of joining adjacent sets of button sleeves and maintaining a mean separation distance between the adjacent sets. The flexible portion and the group joining members are formed of a flexible material, such as a pliable plastic, to provide dimensional flexibility between adjacent button sleeve groups and may be have a U-shaped form or may have a V-shaped form, a semicircular form, or a similar form providing an excess length to the flexible material.
  • [0023]
    It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description of the present invention are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0024]
    The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principle of the invention. In the drawings:
  • [0025]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a general drum-type washing machine;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view showing an example of a control panel assembly of the washing machine of FIG. 1;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a control panel assembly according to the present invention;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 4 is a plan view of a button assembly according to a first embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0029]
    FIG. 5 is a plan view of a button assembly according to a second embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0030]
    Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.
  • [0031]
    Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, a button assembly 80 according to the present invention includes a plurality of button sleeves 82 for receiving a plurality of push buttons 70 and a unifying member 84 joining the button sleeves 82 and having at least one flexible portion. Though not specifically shown in the drawings, the push buttons 70 may be respectively captured in the button sleeves 82, so that the button assembly according to the present invention may include the push buttons in a unified assembly to be collectively assembled to a panel of a control panel assembly. In doing so, the above flexible portion also serves to join (combine) the push buttons 70 indirectly.
  • [0032]
    The control panel assembly 110 according to the present invention includes a panel 60 having a plurality of through holes 72, a substrate 90 disposed behind the panel 60 and having a plurality of push buttons 70, and a button assembly 80 provided between the panel 60 and the substrate 90. The button assembly 80 includes the plurality of button sleeves 82, having a plurality of holes for receiving the plurality of push buttons 70 and being respectively inserted in the plurality of through holes 72, and a unifying member 84 joining the button sleeves 82 and having at least one flexible portion 86.
  • [0033]
    The washing machine according to the present invention includes a cabinet 2 and a control panel assembly 110 formed on the cabinet 2. The control panel assembly 110 includes a panel 60 having a plurality of push buttons 70, a substrate 90 disposed behind the panel 60, and a button assembly 80 provided between the panel 60 and the substrate 90. The button assembly 80 includes a plurality of button sleeves 82, for receiving the plurality of push buttons 70 and being respectively inserted in the plurality of through holes 72, and a unifying member 84 joining the button sleeves 82 and having at least one flexible portion 86, wherein the flexible portion has a U-shaped form, a V-shaped form, or a semicircular form.
  • [0034]
    As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 5, the unifying member 84 may include a plurality of button sleeve couplers 85 and a plurality of group joining members 86′ for flexibly joining the plurality of button sleeve couplers 85. Each button sleeve coupler 85 gangs together the button sleeves 82 of a button sleeve group, and similar to the flexible portion 86 of the first embodiment, each group joining member 86′ has a U-shaped form, a V-shaped form, or a semicircular form.
  • [0035]
    A button assembly and a control panel assembly of an electric home appliance (e.g., a washing machine) according to the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 3 to 5. The control panel assembly 110 includes a panel 60 mounted on a cabinet 2 of a drum-type washing machine 1, a substrate 90 disposed behind the panel 60 and having a rotary switch 92, a plurality of tactile switches 94, and a plurality of push buttons 70 connected to and coupled with each tactile switch 94. The control panel assembly 110 also includes a button assembly 80 being simultaneously inserted into the plurality of through holes 72 formed in the panel 60 and having a structure that can compensate for a dimensional discrepancy due to minute variations in size, shape, and/or positioning of the through holes or button assembly. The panel 60, which is an assembly component for controlling the operation of the washing machine and displaying the operation status of the washing machine, is connected to the front surface of the cabinet 2 by engaging a plurality of hooks 60 a with a corresponding plurality of slots 52 a formed in surfaces of or adjacent to the cabinet. A rotary dial 62 and a plurality of push buttons 70 are provided on an exterior surface of the panel 60.
  • [0036]
    As described above, a rotary switch 92 and a plurality of tactile switches 94 are provided on a forward-facing surface of a substrate 90, to oppose the rotary dial 62 and the push buttons 70 of the panel 60. The rotary switch 92 is activated by the rotary dial 62, thereby setting up the wash cycle of the drum-type washing machine. The tactile switches 94 are activated by the push buttons 70, thereby controlling the operation of the drum-type washing machine. A display screen 96 for displaying a current washsing status of the drum-type washing machine may be provided on the forward-facing surface of the substrate 90, to be viewed through a view screen 100. A plurality of display elements, such as light-emitting diodes 98 protruding through a corresponding plurality of display holes 101, may be used to indicate the washing machine's operation and controlled conditions.
  • [0037]
    In the first embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 4, the button assembly 80 includes the plurality of button sleeves 82, each being inserted into and received by the inner circumference of each through hole 72, and the unifying members 84 joining the button sleeves 82 to form a unified body and having a plurality of flexible portions 86 that can absorb a dimensional discrepancy in each through hole 72 occurring during the assembly process of the control panel assembly 110.
  • [0038]
    On the other hand, in the second embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 5, the button assembly 80 includes the plurality of button sleeves 82, each being inserted into and received by the inner circumference of a through hole 72; the button sleeve couplers 85, for ganging together the button sleeves 82 to form a unified body, each button sleeve coupler being connected to a flexible portion that can absorb a dimensional discrepancy in each through hole 72 occurring during the assembly process of the control panel assembly 110; and at least one group joining member 86′ for flexibly joining the button sleeve couplers 85 to form a unified body while absorbing the above dimensional discrepancy. Here, the group joining member 86′ is a flexible portion.
  • [0039]
    Each flexible portion 86 or group joining member 86′ has a sufficient length for absorbing any dimensional discrepancies occurring due to normal variations in fabricating components of an electric home appliance such as a washing machine having a control panel. The flexible portion is formed of a flexible material, such as a pliable plastic, to provide dimensional flexibility between adjacent button sleeve groups and may be have a U-shaped form, as shown in FIGS. 3-5, or may have a V-shaped form, a semicircular form, or a similar form providing an excess length to the flexible material.
  • [0040]
    More specifically, the unifying member 84 of the button assembly according to the second embodiment of the present invention consists of the plurality of button sleeve couplers 85 for ganging together the button sleeves 82 of each of a predetermined set of button sleeve groups G1, G2, and G3, and the plurality of group joining members 86′ flexibly connecting the button sleeves 82, which are divided into the groups G1, G2, and G3 by joining the button sleeve couplers 85. The button sleeves 82 are injection-molded members disposed between the inner edge of a corresponding through hole 72 and the outer perimeter of a corresponding push button 70, by being inserted into the through hole and receiving the push button. The button sleeves 82 are stably inserted into the through holes 72 from the rear side of the panel 60.
  • [0041]
    At least one catch 88 is formed on the outer surface of one end of each button sleeve 82. Preferably, an opposing pair of catches 88 are provided. When the button sleeves 82 are inserted into each corresponding through hole 72 from the rear side of the panel 60, each catch 88 prevents the corresponding sleeve 82 from passing through the through hole by catching on a rear surface of the panel 60. Therefore, the catches 88 determine the inserting position for each button sleeve 82.
  • [0042]
    As described above, the unifying member 84 of the first embodiment and the button sleeve couplers 85 and the group joining members 86′ of the second embodiment each perform a function of joining adjacent sets of button sleeves and maintaining a mean separation distance between the adjacent sets. A predetermined number (i.e., a set) of button sleeves 82 of any group, e.g., two adjacent button sleeves, can be arranged in variety of control panel patterns, as desired, for example, a linear, curved, or grid pattern. Also, in the second embodiment of the present invention, the group joining members 86′ join the groups G1, G2, and G3, which are divided by the button sleeve couplers 85, to form an assembly of button sleeves as a unified body. Therefore, the button sleeves 82 of the button assembly 80 are simultaneously inserted into the through holes 72, thereby simplifying the assembly process of the control panel assembly 110.
  • [0043]
    The flexible portions 86 of the first embodiment and the group joining members 86′ of the second embodiment are formed to have a U-shape (or a V-shape or a semicircular shape) and absorb the dimensional discrepancy occurring between each of the button sleeves 82. Meanwhile, the dimensional discrepancy occurs during the fabrication process of the button sleeves 82 and the through holes 72 of the button assembly 80. In other words, the dimensional discrepancy may occur during the injection-molding process of the button assembly 80 or may occur during the perforation process of the through holes 72 in the panel 60. Since the button assembly 80 is formed as a single body, to enable the button sleeves 82 of the button assembly 80 to be simultaneously assembled with the through holes 72 of the panel 60, the influence of the dimensional discrepancy may be greater in the present invention than as compared with the related art button assembly, where the button sleeves are individually inserted into the through holes.
  • [0044]
    In the second embodiment of the present invention, however, the plurality of group joining members 86′ can flexibly expand and contract in back-and-forth directions and in left-and-right directions, thereby compensating the degree of modification caused by the dimensional discrepancy occurring between each of the groups G1, G2, and G3. In addition, although a small degree of dimensional discrepancy may occur between the button sleeves 82 and the through holes 72, the dimensional discrepancy can be compensated by the flexible portions of the button assembly according to the first embodiment of the present invention, which are formed of a flexible material, thereby facilitating the assembly of the button assembly 80 to the panel 60.
  • [0045]
    The assembly process of the control panel assembly of the drum-type washing machine according to the present invention will now be described in detail. The button assembly 80 is assembled to the panel 60 from the rear side thereof, so that the plurality of button sleeves 82 are simultaneously inserted into the plurality of through holes 72 formed in the panel 60. At this point, when dimensional discrepancy occurs during the injection-molding process of the button assembly 80 or during the perforation process of the through holes 72 in the panel 60, some of the button sleeves 82 may be misaligned and misassembled with the corresponding through holes 72. Meanwhile, the flexible portions 86 or group joining members 86′ of the button assembly 80 may expand and contract in back-and-forth directions or in left-and-right directions in order to compensate the misaligned assembly position. In other words, the flexible portions 86 or group joining members 86′ absorb the dimensional discrepancy occurring between the button assembly 80 and each through hole 72.
  • [0046]
    As described above, after coupling the button assembly 80 with the rear surface of the panel 60, the substrate 90 is coupled with the rear surface of the panel 60, such that the push buttons 70 are respectively inserted into the button sleeves 82, which are in turn inserted into each through hole 72. At the same time, the rotary switch 92 and the tactile switches 94 mounted on the substrate 90 are respectively engaged with the rotary dial 62 and the push buttons 70 mounted on the panel 60. When the user turns the rotary dial 62, the rotary switch 92 rotates accordingly, thereby setting up the washing cycle of the drum-type washing machine according to the present invention. When the user presses the push buttons 70, the corresponding tactile switches 94 are also pressed accordingly, thereby controlling the operation of the drum-type washing machine.
  • [0047]
    In the button assembly for an electrical home appliance according to the present invention, at least one unifying member joins the button sleeves to form a unified body, thereby facilitating the assembly of the control panel assembly. Furthermore, since the flexible joining members can also compensate the dimensional discrepancies, high fabrication accuracy is not required when forming the button assembly and the through holes. Thus, the productivity of the control panel assembly can be enhanced. Finally, since the unifying members are formed of a flexible material that can expand and contract in back-and-forth directions and in left-and-right directions, the dimensional discrepancy occurring between the button sleeves and the through holes can be compensated, thereby preventing deficiency in the control panel assembly.
  • [0048]
    It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the inventions. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6336732 *Jul 11, 2000Jan 8, 2002Shoei-Shuh ShiauFlashlight with a waterproof switching device
US6552282 *Sep 19, 2001Apr 22, 2003Palm, Inc.Floating button design for a handheld computer
US6964532 *Aug 12, 2004Nov 15, 2005Lite-On It CorporationKey array structure
US20030150699 *Jun 22, 2002Aug 14, 2003Song Young HanControl panel assembly for home appliances and method for manufacturing the same
US20040061686 *Sep 17, 2002Apr 1, 2004Shen-Chang TsaoPushbutton of touch pad of electronic device
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8178802Jul 31, 2008May 15, 2012Electrolux Home Products, Inc.Unitized appliance control panel assembly and components of the assembly
US8179697 *Aug 17, 2009May 15, 2012Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Control panel assembly and washing machine having the same
US20100177494 *Aug 17, 2009Jul 15, 2010Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Control panel assembly and washing machine having the same
CN102535096A *Feb 10, 2012Jul 4, 2012深圳市振邦实业有限公司Cleaning product, and cleaning control method and cleaning controller for cleaning product
Classifications
U.S. Classification68/12.23
International ClassificationD06F37/00, D06F39/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F39/005, H01H2233/004, H01H2229/064, H01H2231/012
European ClassificationD06F39/00P
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 18, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: LG ELECTRONICS INC., KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KIM, JAE KYUM;KIM, GEON;HUR, CHI WAN;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015906/0595
Effective date: 20040720