US 20070072537 A1
An improved air diffuser for shooting ranges and the like is both inexpensive, easy to transport, and easy to maintain. Flexible plastic is utilized for the diffuser plates providing easier manufacture and shipment of an unassembled diffuser.
1. An air diffuser configured for use in a ballistic environment comprising:
a first side disposed at a first end of the back and a second side disposed at a second end of the back;
an air inlet; and
an air diffuser plate, the diffuser plate being formed from plastic and being attached to the diffuser such that air exiting the diffuser flows through the plate.
2. The diffuser of
3. The diffuser of
4. The diffuser of
5. The diffuser of
6. A method for purifying air in a ballistic environment comprising:
selecting a diffuser, the diffuser having a cavity, a first opening, and a second opening;
placing a diffuser plate over the first opening, the diffuser plate being formed of non-electrically conductive plastic and having a plurality of air exit holes formed therein;
connecting the second opening to an air source; and
operating the air source such that air is moved into the cavity and through the air exit holes and such that a static charge is formed on the diffuser plate.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. A method for forming a diffuser plate, the method comprising:
selecting a first end piece and a second end piece, each end piece having an arcuate surface;
bending a resilient diffuser plate having a plurality of holes formed therein over the arcuate surfaces; and attaching the resilient diffuser plate to the arcuate surfaces.
11. The method according to
12. The method according to
13. The method according to
The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/710,007, filed Aug. 19, 2005, which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
1. The Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an air diffuser. More specifically, the present invention relates to an improved air diffuser for use in shooting ranges and other environments.
2. State of the Art
In shooting ranges and other areas where bullets are fired, it is desirable to control the movement of air. Specifically, it is desirable to create movement which draws smoke and air-born particles away from the shooter and, typically, down range.
In order to promote a uniform flow of air across all of the shooters and down the shooting range, diffusers have been utilized. A diffuser is an air box having an air inlet and a plurality of air outlets, and is designed to release air uniformly from the outlets, such that each outlet releases a similar amount of air as compared to the other air outlets. Thus, a diffuser which extends across the width of a shooting range and is disposed behind or above the shooters can release air evenly across the width of the shooting range. The even flow of the air is important because it prevents eddies or other turbulent current which might inhibit gasses and airborne particles from being carried down range with Suitable air vents can be made downstream in the shooting range so that air flows from behind the shooters and down the shooting range, carrying smoke and particles away from the shooters.
Shooting range diffusers are typically formed from steel. The diffusers are formed with a steel air box which extends across the shooting range and is covered by parallel sheets of steel which have a plurality of small holes formed therein. When air is introduced into an inlet in the air box, the box becomes pressurized inside and air flows out of the holes formed in the sheets of steel to develop consistent airflow. These boxes are expensive as they require considerable labor to construct, and as steel is increasingly expensive. These air diffusers are also expensive to ship, as many of the parts for the diffuser are 3-dimensional in nature. Additionally, existing air diffusers can be somewhat difficult to clean and maintain, and can be damaged during shipping.
There is thus a need for an range air diffuser which is less expensive to produce and transport, and which is easier to maintain.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an air diffuser for shooting ranges and other environments which is less expensive and more convenient to use than existing diffusers.
According to one aspect of the present invention, a diffuser is provided which utilizes a plastic diffuser surface instead of a metal surface. A plastic surface is less expensive than a metal surface as plastic is cheaper and easier to form than metal. Additionally, diffusers commonly have curved surfaces and a plastic diffuser front may be formed and shipped flat and bent as it is installed, making the diffuser easier to make and ship.
According to another aspect of the invention, a diffuser is provided which is easier to clean and maintain. A diffuser according to the present invention may be formed with hinges so as to allow a person to open the diffuser from the top and the bottom.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, the diffuser with plastic surfaces better prevents denting caused by impacts.
These and other aspects of the present invention are realized in an air diffuser as shown and described in the following figures and related description.
Various embodiments of the present invention are shown and described in reference to the numbered drawings wherein:
It will be appreciated that the drawings are illustrative and not limiting of the scope of the invention which is defined by the appended claims. The various embodiments shown accomplish various aspects and objects of the invention.
The drawings will now be discussed in reference to the numerals provided therein so as to enable one skilled in the art to practice the present invention. The drawings and descriptions are exemplary of various aspects of the invention and are not intended to narrow the scope of the appended claims.
Turning now to
The front plate 18 is typically formed with attachment holes 34 whereby the front plate may be attached to the frame of the diffuser 10. Additionally, the front plate 18 is formed with air holes 38 through which air exits the diff-user 10. The holes 34, 38 may be formed in many ways, including drilling, punching, molding, etc. In a diffuser 10, air is pushed into the diffuser body by a blower or fan. The air holes 38 are sized such that the air inside of the diffuser 10 is pressurized by the blower or fan and a pressure drop is generated as air moves through air holes 38. The pressure drop across the front plate 18, and the corresponding increased pressure inside of the diffuser 10, generates a fairly uniform flow out of the air holes 38, such that a similar amount of air flows out of each air hole 38. Thus, the number and size of air holes 38 is adjusted according to the size of the diffuser 10, the amount of air moving through the diffuser, the size of the blower or fan, etc. Additionally, multiple diffuser plates 18 may be used such that the air passes through a first diffuser plate 18 and a second diffuser plate 18.
Turning now to
The diffuser 10 may also be formed with a top hinge 54 and a bottom hinge 58. While a single top hinge 54 and single bottom hinge 58 are shown in this side view, it will be appreciated that a number or top hinges 54 and bottom hinges 58 may be used along the top and bottom edges of the diffuser 10. The hinges are mounted to the diffuser such that the sides 14 and diff-user plates 18 may be pivoted away from the back 46. The hinges 54, 58 may be arranged such that a top hinge 54 is used with a bottom catch, allowing the sides 14 and diffuser plates 18 to be released and pivoted upwards for cleaning or maintenance, or such that a bottom hinge 58 and top catch is used, allowing the sides 14 and diffuser plates 18 to be pivoted downwardly.
According to one aspect of the present invention, top and bottom hinges 54, 58 may be used, and formed such that the hinge pin 62 may be removed from the hinge 54, 58 allowing the hinge to separate. Thus, any or all of the top and bottom hinges 54, 58 may be released. Releasing the bottom hinge 58 allows the sides 14 and diffuser plates 18 to be pivoted upwardly. Releasing the top hinge 54 allows the sides 14 and diffuser plates 18 to be pivoted downwardly. Releasing both of the hinges 54, 58 allows the sides 14 and diffuser plates 18 to be removed completely. The hinges 54, 58 may be plates with holes formed therein, and having a pin or bolt passed through the holes to form a hinge. The hinges 54, 58 may also be formed from tubes with hinge pins placed inside of the tubes. Many types or hinges, including releasable hinges, are suitable.
Turning now to
Turning now to
The edge of a diffuser plate 18 may be attached to the connecting rail 70 to further strengthen the diffuser 10 and to seal air leaks. Accordingly, the connecting rail 70 may have a flange 82 configured to receive a diffuser plate 18. The flange 82 may typically be formed with holes 86 whereby the diffuser plate 18 may be attached. Flange 82 provides a location whereby an inner diffuser plate 18 may be attached. Thus, it will be appreciated that the connecting rails 70 and other parts of the diffuser may easily be designed to accommodate varying numbers and sizes of diffuser plates 18.
A channel 90 may also be formed whereby an edge of a diffuser plate 18 may be inserted. The channel 90 may be formed between two flanges 94. The channel 90 may be designed such that once a diffuser plate is attached to brackets 74, no attachment is necessary to secure the diffuser plate 18 into the channel 90 and to prevent excessive air leakage around the edge of the diffuser plate 18. Alternatively, holes 98 may be formed through the flanges 94 so as to permit fastening of the diffuser plate 18. A simple single flange, such as one of flange 94, may be used in place of a channel. It will be appreciated that internal bracing may be used to strengthen the diffuser, such as corner braces or diagonal braces extending between connecting rail 70 and side 14 as may be necessary for a particular size or design of diffuser.
It will be appreciated that a diffuser according to the present invention may be made in varying sizes according to the needs of a particular use. It will also be appreciated that a diffuser according to the present invention may be significantly less expensive than conventional shooting range diffusers. Conventional difflusers have been made from steel in order to provide a diffuser which is strong enough to withstand the abuse of a shooting range. Steel is expensive, and is more difficult to machine. Thus, available diffusers are somewhat expensive. Applicant has found that plastic diffuser plates are strong enough for a shooting range, and may even be more durable as they do not dent as a metal plate would when accidentally bumped. Applicant has also found that a diffuser with plastic diffusion plates is less expensive to ship, as the diffuser may be shipped unassembled, and all of the pieces are relatively flat. Existing diffusers have a steel diffusion plate which must be bent to the desired shape before shipping and assembly, requiring a larger object be shipped at additional cost. If a replacement diffuser plate is required, a replacement plate may be shipped flat to the customer. The diffuser plates are easily bent into the desired shape as they are installed.
In all, the cost of the diffuser can be reduced by more that 80 percent while providing comparable performance. Additionally, the diffuser of the present invention can be readily cut down to size in the event measurements were not accurate. With a conventional steel diffuser, a new diffuser would have to be ordered.
A diffuser according to the present invention is easier to service than existing diffusers. Existing diffusers may be sealed, or may have a piano hinge on the top of the diffuser. Shooting range operators have found existing diffuser designs difficult to clean and maintain. As previously discussed, applicant's design involving top and bottom releasable hinges allows easy access to the diffuser for cleaning and maintenance.
Applicant has also found that the plastic diffuser plates provide another unique advantage. The diffuser plates can act as an air filter. As most plastics do not conduct electricity or effectively diffuse electrical charge, the constant air flow through the plastic diffuser plates creates an electrostatic charge on the plates. The electrostatic charge on the diffuser plates attracts dust particles from the air. The additional filtration provides an important benefit in a shooting range, where dust particles in the air may commonly include smoke or even metal particles such as from the lead bullets which are not desirable to inhale.
There is thus disclosed an improved air diffuser. It will be appreciated that numerous changes may be made to the present invention without departing from the scope of the claims.