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Publication numberUS20060101552 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/988,789
Publication dateMay 18, 2006
Filing dateNov 15, 2004
Priority dateNov 15, 2004
Also published asCA2588101A1, CN101056678A, EP1812122A1, WO2006055152A1
Publication number10988789, 988789, US 2006/0101552 A1, US 2006/101552 A1, US 20060101552 A1, US 20060101552A1, US 2006101552 A1, US 2006101552A1, US-A1-20060101552, US-A1-2006101552, US2006/0101552A1, US2006/101552A1, US20060101552 A1, US20060101552A1, US2006101552 A1, US2006101552A1
InventorsPeter Lee, Desmond Curran, Richard Williams
Original AssigneeLee Peter D, Curran Desmond T, Williams Richard D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Frictionally engaged supplied air helmet face seal
US 20060101552 A1
Abstract
A supplied air helmet 10 that has a visor 14, and a face seal 12 that includes a frame member 16 and a sealing member 18. The frame member 116 can be secured to the visor 14 by frictional engagement. The use of frictional engagement as opposed to pegs, adhesives, and hook and look type fasteners, may reduce the number of parts, may permit face seal installation and/or removal in a less onerous manner, and may reduce the opportunity for fastener failure.
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Claims(17)
1. A supplied air helmet that comprises:
(a) a visor; and
(b) a face seal that includes a frame member and a sealing member, wherein the frame member is secured to the visor by frictional engagement.
2. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, wherein the frictional engagement occurs at first and second temporal locations.
3. The supplied air helmet of claim 2, wherein the frictional engagement also occurs at a third location on the visor.
4. The supplied air helmet of claim 3, wherein the third location is proximal to a wearer's forehead when the supplied air helmet is worn.
5. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, further comprising a crown member that is secured to the visor at first and second engagement points.
6. The supplied air helmet of claim 2, wherein the frictional engagement occurs at the first and second engagement points.
7. The supplied air helmet of claim 6, wherein first and second spacer elements are disposed at the first and second engagement points, the face seal being rotatable about the first and second spacer elements.
8. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, wherein the frame member has brow and chin portions that are offset from each other at an angle α of 50 to 80 degrees.
9. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, wherein the sealing member is elastically stretchable.
10. The supplied; air helmet of claim 9, further comprising a tab for drawing a chin portion of the sealing member underneath the wearer's chin when donning the supplied air helmet.
11. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, further comprising an air duct and a crown member for supporting the air duct, the air duct directing clean air into a breathing zone of the supplied air helmet.
12. The supplied air helmet of claim 11, being adapted for connection to a powered air purifying system.
13. The supplied air helmet of claim 11, being adapted for connection to a self-contained breathing apparatus.
14. The supplied air helmet of claim 1, being a welding helmet.
15. A supplied air helmet that comprises:
(a) a visor; and
(b) a face seal that includes a frame member and a sealing member, the frame member being held in the visor by means that consists essentially of configuration of the frame member and the visor such that the frame member and visor are frictionally held together.
16. A supplied air helmet that comprises:
(a) a visor;
(b) a face seal that includes a frame member and a sealing member; and
(c) a means for causing frictional engagement between the face seal and the visor.
17. The supplied air helmet of claim 16, wherein the frame member is adapted to conform in response to manual pressure and to return to an original configuration once the manual pressure ceases.
Description
BACKGROUND

Supplied air helmets are regularly worn in environments where the surrounding ambient air contains contaminants. These helmets have a fluid impermeable visor that is pulled down in front of the wearer's face. The visor has a window through which the wearer can see the surrounding environment. A face seal is attached to the visor to provide a breathing zone or interior gas space that is separate from the ambient, exterior gas space. The interior gas space is located in front of the wearer's face and is defined, for the most part, by the face seal that is attached to the visor, the visor body, and the wearer's face. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,250,299, 6,016,805, 6,014,971, 4,462,399, and 4,280,491 disclose examples of supplied air helmets that use face seals.

To furnish the wearer with a safe supply of air for breathing, clean air is forced into the interior gas space from a supply tank or from a powered air system that drives the ambient air through a filter. The wearer breathes this clean air and exhales it back into the breathing zone. This exhaled air, along with excess clean air that is forced into the breathing zone exits the interior gas space through openings in the face seal. The positive pressure that generally occurs within the interior gas space precludes contaminants from entering the interior gas space through the openings. Welders often wear supplied air helmets as protection from breathing contaminants that are generated during welding procedures. Examples of welding helmets are shown in the following patent documents: U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,557,174, 6,591,424, 6,185,739, 5,533,206, 5,191,468, 5,140,707, 4,875,235, 4,853,973, 4,774,723, 4,011,594 and Des. 398,421; and WO 00/59421 and WO 99/26502.

Known face seals typically have been secured to the helmet by fasteners such as pegs, clips, adhesive tape, and hook and loop type devices. The use of such fasteners has required additional equipment that must be provided on the supplied air helmet or the face seal frame. In addition, when the face seal is secured to the supplied air helmet through use of pegs, these pegs must be disengaged from the face seal during its installation and replacement. Because a crown support member (for supporting the helmet on the wearer's head) typically also has been secured to the helmet through the same pegs, it has been a cumbersome process to replace the face seal. The use of adhesive tape and hook and loop type fasteners can be onerous as well, and they have provided locations for dirt and contaminants to accumulate, which accumulation can cause the fastener to cease functioning. Hook and loop type fasteners also tend to “peel-off” the helmet after repeated use in response to repeated tugging on the hook and loop material. Heat, for example, in a welding environment, also can cause the adhesive to soften, which softening may cause delamination of the fastener. Examples of supplied air helmets that use various methods for securing a face seal to a helmet are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,250,299 B1 and 6,014,971 to Danisch et al. (adhesive or mechanical attachment), U.S. Pat. No. 6,016,805 to Burns et al. (pegs or protrusions that mate with holes or use an adhesive), U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,479 to Yelland et al. (adhesive), and U.S. Pat. No. 4,280,491 to Berg et al. (adhesive).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention involves a new manner of securing a face seal to a supplied air helmet. In brief summary, the present invention provides a supplied air helmet that comprises a visor and a face seal where the face seal includes a frame member and a sealing member and where the frame member is secured to the visor by frictional engagement.

The present invention differs from known supplied air helmets in that the face seal is secured to the supplied air helmet using frictional engagement rather than fasteners such as pegs, clips, and hook and loop materials. Because the present invention uses this new method of engagement, the use of separate fastening elements is avoided. Thus, less parts are needed to manufacture the final product, which can save on manufacturing costs. Further, installation and removal of the face seal may be achieved in less onerous manner. There also is less opportunity for failure over time, and the surface area onto which contaminants and dirt may accumulate is substantially less.

These and other advantages of the invention are more fully shown and described in the drawings and detailed description of this invention, where like reference numerals are used to represent similar parts. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings and description are for illustration purposes only and should not be read in a manner that would unduly limit the scope of this invention.

GLOSSARY

In this document, the terms set forth below will have the meanings as defined:

“breathing zone” means an interior gas space or a portion of the interior gas space where oxygen is inhaled by a wearer of a supplied air helmet;

“clean air” means air that has been filtered or that has otherwise been made safe to breathe;

“elastic” means the ability of a strained material (e.g., the sealing member or the yarns that comprise the sealing member) to substantially recover its original size and shape immediately after being stressed to about twice its original length.

“exterior gas space” means the ambient atmospheric gas space that surrounds the exterior of a supplied air helmet when worn on a person;

“face” means the area on the front of a person's head, defined mainly by the cheeks and temporal area (or side portions of the facial regions), chin, forehead, and facial area located therebetween;

“face seal” means a structure that contacts a person's face and/or neck and/or other portions of the head to help separate an interior gas space of a supplied air helmet from an exterior gas space;

“filtered air” means air that has been passed through a filter material to reduce the amount of any contaminants that may have been present in the air before it was filtered;

“frame member” means a structural part(s) that plays a role in supporting a sealing member;

“frictionally” means essentially through use of friction;

“frictional engagement” means that the engagement occurs as a result of friction between the two parts intending to be joined without need for additional fastening from elements such as pins, pegs, clips, and/or hook and loop materials;

“helmet” means a device that is worn on a person's head for safety and/or protection purposes;

“interior gas space” means the space that exists between a visor, a face seal, and a person's face when a supplied air helmet is being worn;

“sealing member” means a structure or combination of parts that may be solid and/or porous and that conformably contacts at least a portion of a person's face to assist in defining a separation between an interior gas space and an exterior gas space;

“supplied air helmet” means a helmet that receives a supply of clean air for a wearer of the device to breathe;

“visor” means a structure that is located in front of a person's face when worn and that has a window to allow the person to see through it; and

“welding helmet” means a helmet that has a darkened or darkening window.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a rear perspective view of a supplied air helmet 10 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a rear perspective view of a supplied air helmet 10, in accordance with the present invention, with the face seal 12 being disengaged from the visor 14;

FIG. 3 shows a left side view of a supplied air helmet 10, in accordance with the present invention, with the frame member 16 of the face seal 12 being shown in phantom lines; and

FIG. 4 illustrates a supplied air helmet 10, in accordance with the present invention, which helmet 10 has an air duct 60 for supplying clean air to the interior gas space of the helmet 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In describing preferred embodiments of the invention, specific terminology is used for the sake of clarity. The invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected, and it is to be understood that each term so selected includes all technical equivalents that operate similarly.

In the practice of the present invention, a new face seal is provided that can be frictionally secured to a visor of a supplied air helmet at multiple locations. The frictional securement enables less parts be used in the manufacture of the supplied air helmet and, as opposed to a commonly-used hook and loop fastening means, can provide a cleaner, more durable, and simpler form of engagement.

FIG. 1 illustrates a supplied air helmet 10 that includes a face seal 12 and a visor 14. The face seal 12 has a frame member 16 and a sealing member 18. A window or lens 20 is provided on visor 14 so that a wearer of the helmet 10 can see in the forward direction. If the helmet is used for welding purposes, the window can be an auto-darkening lens (ADL) that darkens immediately in response to light from a welder's torch, (see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,097,451 and 5,825,441, issued to Homell and Palmer). A head harness or crown member 22 may be attached to the visor 14 at first and second locations 24 and 26. The crown member 22 allows the supplied air helmet 10 to be comfortably supported on a wearer's head. An example of a crown member is shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,481,763 and 5,394,568 to Brostrom et al. Threaded members 28 and 30 may be provided at first and second locations of hinged assemblies 24 and 26, respectively, to secure the crown member 22 to the visor 14. First and second spacer elements or washers 32 and 34 may be used to provide sufficient spacing between the visor 14 and the crown member 22 and to allow the crown member 22 to rotate easily relative to the visor 14. The rotational movement of the visor 14 can enable it to be temporarily lifted above a wearer's face when not in use. The hinged assembly at locations 24 and 26 allows the wearer to rotate the visor or face shield 14 away from the wearer's face during periods of non-use and to rotate it downwardly over the face when working. The hinged assembly may be designed so that the visor 14 can be temporarily fixed at different incremental positions between uppermost in lowermost positions, or it may be freely movable between these positions. Alternatively, the visor 10 may be fixed so that it does not rotate with respect to the crown member 22.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the first and second spacer elements 32 and 34 also provide a guide means for placing the face seal 12 in proper location for frictional engagement with the visor 14. The guide means also could be provided by the visor contour itself, by grooves or ribs in the visor, or by protrusions and/or detents, or a combination of such features. The face seal frame member 16, thus, frictionally contacts the visor 14 at first and second temporal locations 24 and 26. A third location 36 (proximal to a wearer's forehead when worn) for frictional engagement between the frame member 16 and the visor 14 may also be provided to preclude rotational movement of the face seal 12 relative to the helmet 10 and to ensure that the face seal 12 is adequately secured to the visor 14. Additional locations for friction engagement between face seal 12 also may be provided as desired. A head top or hard hat may also be furnished to the helmet 10 as a means for protecting the head or skull of the wearer. An example of the head top/face shield combination is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,016,805 to Burns et al.—see also International Patent Publication WO 99/26502.

FIGS. 2 and 3 further illustrate how the face seal 12 can be secured to the visor 14. The frame member 16 may be flexible or conformable to allow for its frictional placement within the more rigid visor. The frame member 16 has first and second side portions 38 and 40 that can be pushed centrally inward or towards each other so that they can be squeezed between respective first and second visor side portions 42 and 44. The frame member 16 thus may be adapted to conform in response to manual pressure and to return towards an original configuration when that pressure ceases. The frame member 16 also is provided with first and second receptacles 46 and 48, respectively, that are fashioned to rotatably reside against the spacer elements 32 and 34 at locations 24 and 26. The spacer elements 32 and 34 act as pivot points at first and second temporal locations 24 and 26. Once the frame member 16 is placed within the helmet 10 such that receptacles 46 and 48 are juxtaposed against the hinge assembly at locations 24 and 26, the frame assembly 16 may be rotated clockwise as shown in FIG. 3. This clockwise rotation continues until the front portion 50 of the frame member 16 engages the third engagement point 36 or shelf 52. When the front portion 50 of the frame member 16 is juxtaposed upon shelf 52, further rotational movement is prohibited and the face seal 12 remains essentially statically held within the face shield 14. Although the drawings illustrate three frictional engagement points, the invention contemplates the use of further engagement points (e.g., 4, 5, 6 or more) if necessary or desirable.

As shown in FIG. 3, the frame member 16 has brow and chin portions 53 and 55, respectively. These portions may be rigidly and integrally joined together and preferably define an included angle α that is less than 90°. Preferably, the angle α is less than about 50 to 80 degrees. Use of a frame member that has such an angle α can allow a good fit to be achieved for prohibiting contaminant entry into the interior gas space.

An understanding of how to wear the supplied air helmet 10 can be gathered from FIGS. 1 and 2. To don the helmet 10, the wearer places the crown member 12 on their cranium and rotates the visor 14 downwardly such that it resides directly in front of the wearer's face. The wearer then pulls on tab 52 to draw the chin portion 54 of sealing member 18 underneath their chin. The remainder of the periphery 56 of the sealing member 18 draws tightly against the forehead, cheeks, and temporal area of the wearer. The periphery 56 of sealing member 18 defines an opening 57 that is elastically stretchable and is sized to be smaller than the typical wearer's face to enable the face seal to fit snugly against faces of various sizes. A breathing zone or interior gas space is thus created, defined by the face of the wearer, the sealing member 18, and the face shield or visor 14. Pores are generally provided in the sealing member 18 to allow air to escape from the interior gas space. Despite the generally porous nature of the sealing member 18, contaminants are generally precluded from entering the interior gas space because of the positive pressure that generally exists within it.

In operation, air is supplied to the interior gas space under pressure from a powered air supply source. Examples of these types of devices are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,279,572B1, 6,250,299B1, 6,014,971, 5,125,402, 4,965,887, 4,462,399, and 4,280,491. The air may be channeled into the interior gas space via an air duct that is in fluid communication with the powered air supply source (not shown). When using a powered air supply source, the ambient air is powered or forced through an air filter before being directed into the interior gas space. Examples of blowers that may be used in connection with a supplied air system for directing clean air into the interior gas space are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,575,165B1 and D449,099S. A flow sensor may be used on the supplied air helmet to provide an indication of when air flow into the breathing zone falls below a safe level—see U.S. Pat. No. 6,615,828 B1 to Petherbridge. In addition, a non-volatile memory device may be attached to the filter element to keep a record of the filter element's usage—see U.S. Pat. No. 6,186,140 B1 to Hogue.

FIG. 4 illustrates an example of an air duct 60 that could be used to direct air into the interior gas space of the helmet 10. This air duct 60 is also shown in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/202,969, filed on Apr. 7, 2004 and entitled Air Duct, now U.S. Pat. No. ______ to Hind et al. The air duct 60 has an air inlet 62 and an air outlet 64 and is supported by the crown member 22. The inlet 62 is connected to the clean air source, and the outlet 64 is disposed between the sealing member 18 and the wearer's forehead (not shown). As indicated, air flow exits the interior gas space through, for example, pores that may be present in the sealing member 18 (FIGS. 1 and 2). The air duct 60 can be fixed to the crown member 22 in two places. The rear of the air duct 60 can be held a fixed distance from the back of the head harness 22 by a stamped out plastic part 66. The front of the air duct 60 can be stapled to the front of the head harness 22 at the brow. In this way, the air duct 60 is prevented from moving or wobbling when in use. At the brow, the air duct 60 passes between the face seal 12 and the head harness 22. An elastomeric face seal material can allow the face seal to form a good seal around the air duct. An adjustment knob 67 can be provided on the crown member so that its tension can be altered to fit various head sizes.

The sealing member can take the form of a knitted fabric that comprises, for example, a blend of acrylic and cotton. The fabric may be elastomeric or may include elastomeric yam to improve stretchability. The fabric also can be fashioned to be inherently flame retardant, which may be important for welding and grinding applications. The fabric can be essentially any color and can be made from materials such as polyester, modified acrylic, or a mixture or blend of these polymeric materials. With respect to its thickness, the fabric may have a thickness of a single fifties count yam, although other thicknesses may be suitably used. What is important is that the face seal is comfortable to wear and that it allows exhausted air to be rapidly purged from the interior gas space. A knitted fabric that contains elastic yam and has a fold where the periphery of the seal member makes predominant contact with the wearer's face has been found to be particularly comfortable. The knitted fabric may be secured to a frame member made of, for example, a 1 mm thick polypropylene plastic. The frame member desirably has a matted surface on at least one side to avoid reflection that could interfere with the user's vision. In general, the plastic frame may be about 0.4 mm to 3 mm thick and can be structured such that it is not overly flimsy and such that it retains its intended shape when not being subjected to manual forces or pressure.

An example of a face seal that has a porous knitted sealing member is described in more detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. __/______, entitled Supplied Air Helmet Having Knitted Face Seal, filed on Nov. 12, 2004 under attorney docket number 60019US002. The face seal may have a differentiated permeability design to improve airflow through the breathing zone—see U.S. patent application Ser. No. __/______, entitled Supplied Air Helmet Having A Face Seal With Differentiated Permeability, filed on Nov. 12, 2004 under attorney docket number 60020US002. Another example of a face seal is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,016,805 to Burns et al.

In addition to the supplied air systems mentioned above, the present invention also could be used in conjunction with a compressed air system such as a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that has a tank of air or oxygen, typically under pressure, for supplying clean air to a person. Examples of SCBA systems are shown in the following U.S. Pat. Nos.: 6,478,025, 4,886,056, 4,586,500, and 4,437,460. For purposes of construing this invention, a SCBA system is considered to be a supplied air system. Further, the inventive supplied air systems may be used not only in conjunction with welding helmets or welding environments but may also be used, for example, in helmets fashioned for surgical environments and clean air rooms—see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,901,716, 4,055,173, 4,019,508, and 3,955,570.

This invention may take on various modifications and alterations without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. Accordingly, it is to be understood that this invention is not to be limited to the above-described, but it is to be controlled by the limitations set forth in the following claims and any equivalents thereof.

It is also to be understood that this invention may be suitably practiced in the absence of any element not specifically disclosed herein.

All patents and patent applications cited above, including those in the Background section, are incorporated by reference into this document in total.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7810937Aug 13, 2009Oct 12, 20103M Innovative Properties CompanyControl of an automatic darkening filter
US7884888Dec 4, 2008Feb 8, 20113M Innovative Properties CompanyAutomatic darkening filter with offset polarizers
US8042958Nov 9, 2009Oct 25, 20113M Innovative Properties CompanyAutomatic darkening filter with automatic power management
US8047664Sep 7, 2010Nov 1, 20113M Innovative Properties CompanyControl of an automatic darkening filter
WO2006098881A2Mar 2, 2006Sep 21, 20063M Innovative Properties CoAutomatic darkening filter with offset polarizers
Classifications
U.S. Classification2/9, 2/171.3
International ClassificationA41D13/00
Cooperative ClassificationA62B18/082, A62B18/04
European ClassificationA62B18/08A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 23, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: 3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LEE, PETER D.;CURRAN, DESMOND T.;WILLIAMS, RICHARD D.;REEL/FRAME:016268/0456;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050504 TO 20050519