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Publication numberUS20070262686 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/798,008
Publication dateNov 15, 2007
Filing dateMay 9, 2007
Priority dateMay 10, 2006
Publication number11798008, 798008, US 2007/0262686 A1, US 2007/262686 A1, US 20070262686 A1, US 20070262686A1, US 2007262686 A1, US 2007262686A1, US-A1-20070262686, US-A1-2007262686, US2007/0262686A1, US2007/262686A1, US20070262686 A1, US20070262686A1, US2007262686 A1, US2007262686A1
InventorsSun Kook Ji
Original AssigneeLg Electronics Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Refrigerator
US 20070262686 A1
Abstract
There is provided a refrigerator. The refrigerator include a drawer that is selectively drawn in a storage space, a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer, a container cover for closing the storage container, and an opening device that restricts the container cover when the drawer is drawn out by a predetermined distance, thereby slide-opening the storage container.
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Claims(20)
1. A refrigerator comprising:
a drawer that is selectively drawn in a storage space;
a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer;
a container cover for closing the storage container; and
an opening device that restricts the container cover when the drawer is drawn out by a predetermined distance, thereby slide-opening the storage container.
2. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the opening device includes:
a restricting projection extending rearward from the container; and
a restricting damper that is formed on a side of the storage space to selectively restrict the restricting projection.
3. The refrigerator according to claim 2, wherein the restricting damper is formed of an elastic material.
4. The refrigerator according to claim 2, wherein the restricting damper is provided with a projection receiving hole having a diameter less than a diameter of the restricting projection.
5. The refrigerator according to claim 2, wherein the restricting damper is provided with a shock absorbing wrinkles for attenuating compression impact generated when the restricting damper is received in the restricting projection.
6. The refrigerator according to claim 1, further comprising:
a hook projection protruding from one of the container cover and the storage space; and
an interference projection protruding from the other of the container cover and the storage space,
wherein the hook and interference projections restrict the movement of the container cover out of the storage space when the storage container is drawn out.
7. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the opening device is designed to allow the storage container to be drawn out by elastic force stored by a spiral spring.
8. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the opening device comprises:
a spiral spring provided on a side of the storage container;
a rack mounted on the container cover and provided with gear teeth; and
a pinion moving relative to the rack at a corresponding location to the rack and connected to a rotational center of the spiral spring to selectively compress the spiral spring.
9. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the opening device comprises inclined portions formed on the storage container and the container cover to guide a slide motion of the container cover on the storage container.
10. The refrigerator according to claim 9, wherein a stopper is formed on a location where the inclined portions contact each other to restrict the container cover when the container cover is drawn out by a predetermined distance.
11. The refrigerator according to claim 9, wherein a friction reducing member is provided on a location where the inclined portions contact each other so that the container cover effectively slides on the storage container.
12. The refrigerator according to claim 11, wherein the friction reduction member is formed of a plastic material containing oil or a roller.
13. The refrigerator according to claim 9, further comprising a shaking preventing rib formed on a top of the storage container to prevent the container cover from moving leftward and rightward.
14. A refrigerator comprising:
a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space;
a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer;
a container cover for selectively closing the storage container; and
a restricting projection formed on a rear surface of the container cover; and
a restricting damper that is formed on a rear surface of the storage space corresponding to the restricting projection to receive the restricting projection,
wherein the restricting projection and the restricting damper restrict selectively the container cover when the storage cover slides out of the storage space.
15. The refrigerator according to claim 14, wherein the restricting damper is provided with a plurality of shock absorbing wrinkles.
16. A refrigerator comprising:
a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space;
a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer;
a container cover for selectively closing the storage container;
a spiral spring provided on a side of the storage container;
a rack mounted on the container cover and provided with gear teeth; and
a pinion moving relative to the rack at a corresponding location to the rack and connected to a rotational center of the spiral spring to selectively compress the spiral spring.
17. A refrigerator comprising:
a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space;
a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer;
a container cover for selectively closing the storage container;
a container inclined portion formed on a side of the storage container and having an inclined surface;
a cover inclined portion formed on a side of the container cover and having an inclined surface corresponding to the inclined surface of the container inclined portion so that the storage container is opened by sliding on the container cover; and
a stopper that is formed between the container inclined portion and the cover inclined portion to restrict the container cover when the container cover is drawn out by a predetermined distance.
18. The refrigerator according to claim 17, wherein the stopper is formed on each other container inclined portion and the cover inclined portion.
19. The refrigerator according to claim 17, further comprising a friction reduction member that is disposed between the container inclined portion and the cover inclined portion to reduce friction between the container inclined portion and the cover inclined portion.
20. The refrigerator according to claim 17, further comprising a shaking preventing rib that is formed on a top of the container inclined portion and protrudes upward along the container inclined portion to prevent the container cover from moving leftward and rightward.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a refrigerator. More particularly, the present invention relates to a refrigerator having a structure where a container cover of a storage container disposed in a storage drawer is automatically opened when drawing out the storage drawer.

2. Description of the Related Art

Generally, a refrigerator is an electronic appliance that can preserve foodstuffs for a long time by maintaining a temperature of an enclosed space to be lower than a temperature of an indoor space.

Recently, the refrigerators have been variously classified as the refrigerators are multi-functionalized due to the variation of the user's liking and food life. Particularly, Kimchi refrigerators that are configured to be appropriate for storing Kimchi as well as fruits, fishes, and the like have been widely spread.

The Kimchi refrigerator includes storage drawers in which storage containers are received. Particularly, a container cover for closing the storage container is coupled to the storage container through a snap-fitting manner or is provided with a folded outer end that is coupled to a side of the storage container.

However, such methods for closing/opening the storage container using the container cover is inconvenient for the user as the user manually closes and opens the storage container.

In addition, when the container cover is used for a long time, it may be worn. This causes the leakage of liquid stored in the storage container and thus the surroundings may get dirty.

Furthermore, when the user is using one hand, it is difficult for the user to put and take the foodstuffs in and from the storage container.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a refrigerator that substantially obviates one or more problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

An object of the present invention is to provide a refrigerator that is configured such that a storage container received in a storage drawer is automatically slide-opened as the storage drawer is opened.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a refrigerator that is configured such that such that a container cover of a storage container received in a storage drawer is automatically opened as the storage drawer is drawn out.

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.

To achieve these objects and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, there is provided a refrigerator including: a drawer that is selectively drawn in a storage space; a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer; a container cover for closing the storage container; and an opening device that restricts the container cover when the drawer is drawn out by a predetermined distance, thereby slide-opening the storage container.

In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator including: a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space; a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer; a container cover for selectively closing the storage container; and a restricting projection formed on a rear surface of the container cover; and a restricting damper that is formed on a rear surface of the storage space corresponding to the restricting projection to receive the restricting projection, wherein the restricting projection and the restricting damper restrict selectively the container cover when the storage cover slides out of the storage space.

In still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator including: a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space; a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer; a container cover for selectively closing the storage container; a spiral spring provided on a side of the storage container; a rack mounted on the container cover and provided with gear teeth; and a pinion moving relative to the rack at a corresponding location to the rack and connected to a rotational center of the spiral spring to selectively compress the spiral spring.

In still yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator including: a drawer that is selectively inserted in a storage space; a storage container for storing foodstuffs, the storage container being received in the drawer; a container cover for selectively closing the storage container; a container inclined portion formed on a side of the storage container and having an inclined surface; a cover inclined portion formed on a side of the container cover and having an inclined surface corresponding to the inclined surface of the container inclined portion so that the storage container is opened by sliding on the container cover; and a stopper that is formed between the container inclined portion and the cover inclined portion to restrict the container cover when the container cover is drawn out by a predetermined distance.

According to the refrigerator of the present invention, since the storage container received in the drawer is automatically opened and closed as the drawer is opened and closed, the use convenience can be improved.

Further, since the container cover can be automatically opened and closed, the abrasion of the container cover may be reduced.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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 embodiment(s) of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principle of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator having a storage container that can be automatically opened and closed according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a storage container according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where a drawer depicted in FIG. 2 is closed;

FIG. 4 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where a drawer depicted in FIG. 2 is opened;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an opening device according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view of an opening device according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side sectional view of an opening device according to a third embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a state where a drawer is closed;

FIG. 8 is a side sectional view of the opening device of FIG. 7, illustrating a state where a drawer is opened;

FIG. 9 is a rear view of the closing device of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a storage container according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of a friction reducing member and a stopper according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a schematic view of a friction reduction member and a stopper according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where the drawer is opened; and

FIG. 14 is a schematic view a storage container according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention may be applied to a variety of refrigerators having drawer type storage space as well as Kimchi refrigerators. For understanding more clearly, the following description will take a Kimchi refrigerator for example.

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. The invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as being limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the concept of the invention to those skilled in the art.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator having a storage container that can be automatically opened and closed according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, a main body 10 of a Kimchi refrigerator is formed in an almost rectangular parallelepiped shape. Upper and lower storages spaces 100 and 200 are respectively formed on upper and lower portions of the main body 10.

The upper storage space 100 is opened upward of the main body 10. The upper storage space 100 is concaved by a predetermined depth. If necessary, the upper storage space 100 may be divided into left and right halves.

The upper storage space 100 is selectively closed by an upper door 120. The upper door 120 is provided to selectively close the upper storage space 100. The upper door 120 is hingedly coupled to a top-rear end of the main body 10. The upper door 120 has a corresponding shape to the upper storage space 100.

The lower storage space 200 is opened frontward at the lower portion of the main body 10. The lower storage space 200 is concaved rearward by a predetermined depth. If necessary, the lower storage space 200 may be divided into left and right halves.

A drawer 220 is provided in the lower storage space 200. The drawer 220 is installed in the lower storage space to be drawn in and out. By drawing in the drawer 220, the opened front end of the lower storage space 200 is selectively closed.

A storage container 300 for storing Kimchi, vegetables, fruits, rice, and the like is received in the drawer 220. The storage container 300 is formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape having an opened top.

The opened top of the storage container 300 is selectively closed by a container cover 320. The container cover 320 has a corresponding shape to the opened top of the storage container 30 so as to close the opened top of the storage container 30.

First Embodiment

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a storage container according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 2, a storage space R opened frontward is formed on a lower portion of the main body 20. The storage space R is defined by an inner case 120 concaved rearward and defining an inner shape of the main body 10. The storage space R is substantially formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape that is opened frontward.

A drawer 200 is installed in the storage space R. The drawer 200 is capable of being drawn in and out of the storage space R. The storage space R is a space for receiving the storage container 200.

The drawer 200 includes a drawer door 220 and a drawer basket 240.

The drawer door 220 is formed to correspond to the opened front portion of the storage space R. When the drawer is closed, the drawer door 220 substantially closes the opened front portion of the storage space R.

The front surface of the drawer 200 may be formed in a same material as the main body so that it can harmonize with the main body 100. A handle may be formed on an upper end of the drawer door 220 so that the user can graph the same when drawing in and out the drawer 200.

The drawer basket 240 may be formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape having an opened top. The drawer basket 240 is mounted on a rear surface of the drawer door 220 so that it can be drawn in and out of the storage space R together with the drawer door 220.

Drawer rails 260 that are configured to be capable of extending in a multiple-step may be mounted on both side surfaces of the drawer basket 240. The rear ends of the draw rails 260 are respectively fixed on an inner surface of the storage space R, i.e., on inner-left and inner-right side surfaces of the inner case 120.

Accordingly, the drawer basket 240 is capable of reciprocating frontward and rearward. The foodstuffs are received in the drawer basket 240 in a state where the drawer basket 240 is drawn out of the storage space R, after which the drawer basket 240 is completely drawn in the storage space R so as to keep the foodstuffs refrigerated.

Meanwhile, the storage container 300 is for receiving the foodstuffs that are required to be kept in a freezing compartment or a refrigerating compartment. The storage container 300 is configured to be disposed in the drawer basket 240. That is, the storage container 300 is formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape having an opened top. A container cover 320 is mounted on the opened top of the storage container 300.

The container cover 320 is provided for selectively closing the opened top of the storage container 300. Therefore, the container cover 320 is formed to correspond to the opened top of the storage container 300.

The storage container 300 may be selectively opened by an opening device 700 that will be described later.

At this point, the container cover 320 is synchronized with the reciprocating motion of the drawer 200 by the opening device 700 to be slide-opened and slide-closed on the top of the storage container.

FIG. 3 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where the drawer is closed, FIG. 4 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where the drawer is opened, and FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an opening device according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 3 through 5, an opening device 400 of this embodiment is provided for selectively restricting the container cover 320 so that the storage container 300 is selectively slide-opened as the drawer 200 is drawn out. The opening device 400 includes a restriction projection 420 and a restriction damper 440.

The restriction projection 420 is formed on a recess 322 formed on a rear end (right end in FIG. 5) of the container cover 320. The recess 322 is recessed inward from a central portion of the rear end of the container cover 320. A depth of the recess 322 is less than a length of the restriction projection 420 so that the restriction projection 420 can be effectively inserted in the restriction damper 440. In addition, a width of the recess 322 is greater than a width of the restriction damper 440.

The restriction projection 420 protrudes rearward from the central portion of the recess 322. The restriction projection 420 may be formed in a cone-shape so that it can be easily inserted in the restriction damper 440.

Meanwhile, the restriction damper 440 is disposed on the inner case 120 to correspond to the restriction projection 420. The restriction damper 440 selectively restricts the restriction projection 420. The restriction damper 440 may be formed of an elastic material such as rubber or silicon.

The restriction damper 440 may be formed in a cylindrical shape having a diameter less than the recess 322. The restriction damper 440 is provided at a roughly central portion with a projection receiving hole 442 in which the restriction projection 420 is inserted.

A diameter of the projection receiving hole 442 is less than a sectional area of the restriction projection 420 to restrict the restriction projection 420. Therefore, when the restriction projection 420 is inserted in and drawn out of the projection receiving hole 442, external force should be applied.

The restriction damper 440 is provided at an outer circumference with a plurality of shock absorbing wrinkles 444.

The shock absorbing wrinkles 444 are formed to absorb impact generated when the rear end of the recess 322 collides with the front end of the restriction damper 440 during the insertion of the restriction projection 420.

The restriction damper 440 is formed of an elastic material and has an overall shape similar to a wrinkle hose.

The following will describe the above-described automatic opening structure of the storage container of the refrigerator with reference to FIGS. 3 and 4.

In a state where the drawer 200 is closed, the drawer door 220 closes the opened front end of the storage space R and the drawer basket 240 maintains an inserted sate in the storage space R.

The top of the storage container 300 disposed in the drawer basket 240 is closed by the container cover 320. At this point, the restriction projection 420 is inserted in the projection receiving hole 442 of the restriction damper 440 provided on the rear surface of the inner case 120.

At this point, when the user pulls the drawer 200 frontward, the drawer door 220 and the drawer basket 240 are drawn frontward. At this point, the storage container 300 is drawn frontward together with the drawer basket 240 in a state where the storage container 300 is received in the drawer basket 240.

Meanwhile, the restriction projection 420 formed on the rear end of the container cover 320 moves frontward in a state where it is received in the restriction damper 440. That is, since the diameter of the projection receiving hole 442 formed through the restriction damper 440 is less than the diameter of the restriction projection 420, the restriction projection 420 is not easily separated.

That is, when the drawer 200 is pulled continuously, the storage container 300 is opened frontward and thus the opened top is exposed.

As the restriction damper 440 formed of the elastic material is stretched, the restriction projection 420 is taken out of the projection receiving hole 442. Further, the container cover 320 moves frontward together with the storage container 300.

Meanwhile, the user pushes the drawer 200 rearward to close the storage space R. As the drawer 200 moves rearward, the storage container 300 and the container cover 320 that are disposed in the drawer basket 240 move rearward.

When the drawer 200 is completely drawn in, the container cover 320 is disposed to be adjacent to the rear surface of the storage space R and thus the restriction projection 620 formed on the rear end of the container cover 320 is snapped in the projection receiving hole 442 of the restriction damper.

Accordingly, the container cover 320 maintains the restriction state by the opening device 400.

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view of an opening device according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 6, a drawer 200 includes a drawer door 220 and a drawer basket 240.

A storage container 300 for storing the foodstuffs is disposed in the drawer basket 240 and an opened top of the storage container 300 is selectively closed by a container cover 320. The container cover 320 is selectively restricted when the drawer 200 is drawn out to automatically open the storage container 300.

An opening device 400 of this embodiment includes a hook projection 460 and an interference projection 480.

The hook projection 460 contacts the interference projection 480 when the drawer 200 is drawn out so as to prevent the container cover 320 from being drawn out. The hook projection 460 protrudes from a top surface of the container cover 320.

Meanwhile, the hook projection 460 includes a vertical portion 462 and an inclined portion 464. The vertical portion 462 is vertically formed on the top surface of the container cover 320 at a front end (a left end in FIG. 6) of the hook projection 460. The vertical portion 462 of the hook projection 460 is configured to contact the interference projection 480 when the drawer 200 is drawn.

The interference projection 480 may be formed of an elastic material such as rubber so as to attenuate impact when the hook projection 460 contacts the same.

The following will describe an operation of the opening device of this second embodiment with reference to FIG. 6.

In a state where the drawer 200 is closed, the storage container 300 is disposed in the drawer basket 240 in the storage space R. The container cover 320 closes the opened top of the storage container 300. Accordingly, the hook projection 460 is spaced apart rearward from the interference projection 480.

When the user pulls out the drawer 200 to store or take out the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300, the storage container 300 is drawn out together with the drawer 200 and the container cover 320 is also moves frontward.

When the drawer 200 is further pulled, the interference projection 480 contacts the hook projection 460.

That is, when the drawer 200 is drawn out by almost half, the vertical portion 462 of the hook projection 460 contacts the interference projection 480. In this state, when the drawer 200 is further pulled, the container cover 320 is restricted by the interference between the hook projection 460 and the interference projection 480. Therefore, the storage container 300 that is further moving frontward is opened.

After the storage container 300 is opened, the user stores or takes the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300 and pushes the drawer 200 rearward.

When the drawer 200 is pushed rearward, the storage container 300 and the container cover 30 that are disposed in the drawer 200 are also moved rearward together with the drawer 200. After the drawer 200 moves rearward by a predetermined distance, the container cover 320 contacts the rear surface of the storage space R and stops.

Meanwhile, in order to initially receive the storage container 300 and the container cover 320 in the drawer basket 240, after the storage container 300 is disposed in the drawer basket 240 in a state where the container cover 320 closes the storage container 300, the drawer 200 is pushed rearward so that the drawer 200 can be drawn in the storage space R.

When the drawer 200 is drawn in by a predetermined distance, the hook projection 460 formed on the top surface of the container cover 320 contacts the interference projection 480. The drawer 200 is further pushed, the interference projection 480 moves rearward of the container cover 320 while contacting the inclined portion 464 of the hook projection 460, as a result of which the hook projection 460 is to be located in rear of the interference projection 480.

FIG. 7 is a side sectional view of an opening device according to a third embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a state where a drawer is closed, FIG. 8 is a side sectional view of the opening device of FIG. 7, illustrating a state where a drawer is opened, and FIG. 9 is a rear view of the closing device of FIG. 7.

Referring to FIGS. 7 through 9, in a state where the drawer 200 is closed, the drawer door 220 closes the opened front end of the storage space R and the drawer basket 240 maintains an inserted sate in the storage space R.

The top of the storage container 300 disposed in the drawer basket 240 is closed by the container cover 320. An opening device 500 for opening the storage container 300 by allowing the container cover 320 to synchronize with the opening operation of the drawer 200 by selectively restricting the container cover 320 is provided around the container cover 320 and the storage container 300.

Describing the opening device 500 in more detail, the opening device 500 includes a rack 520, a pinion 540, and a spiral spring 560.

The rack 520 and the pinion 540 selectively compress or release the spiral spring 560 as the drawer 20 is drawn in and out.

The rack 520 is horizontally arranged on a bottom surface of the container cover 320. The teeth of the rack 520 are formed on a bottom surface thereof.

The pinion 540 is provided on a side surface of the storage container 300, which corresponds to the location of the rack 520 and engaged with the rack 520. Therefore, the pinion 540 moves relative to the rack 520 mounted on the container cover 320 when the drawer 200 moves frontward or rearward.

The pinion 540 rotates by the relative motion with the rack 520. A rotational shaft is formed on a central portion of the pinion 540. The rotational shaft protrudes in a direction and connected to the spiral spring 560.

The spiral spring 560 is formed by rolling a leaf spring. The rotational shaft of the pinion 540 is connected to the central portion of the spiral spring 560. Therefore, as the pinion 540 rotates, the spiral spring 560 is wound to have compression force.

If necessary, the pinion gear 540 may be formed by a combination of a plurality of gears. In this case, one of the gears moves relative to the rack 520 and another gear engaged with the gear moving relative to the rack 520 is connected to the central portion of the spiral spring 560.

As the drawer 200 is drawn in, the pinion 540 rotates to move from a front end of the rack 610 to a rear end of the rack 520. As a result, the spiral spring 560 is wound to increase the compression force.

That is, the spiral spring 560 is in a normal state where no compression force is generated when the drawer 200 is completely opened and in a state where the compression force is maximized when the drawer 200 is completely closed.

Needless to say, the compression force of the spiral spring 560 may be equalized to the weight and frictional force of the drawer 200 in order to prevent the drawer 200 from not being completely closed due to the compression force of the spiral spring 560.

Meanwhile, a supporting member 580 is provided on a rear surface of the storage space R corresponding to the rear end of the container cover 320, i.e., on a side of the inner case 120. The supporting member 580 protrudes frontward from the rear surface of the storage space R to support the rear end of the container cover 320 when the drawer 200 is completely drawn in, thereby preventing the container cover 320 from being opened by the opening device 500 when the drawer 200 is completely drawn in.

The supporting member 580 is formed of an elastic material such as rubber to attenuate the impact when the drawer 200 is drawn in.

The following will describe an operation of the opening device of the third embodiment with reference to FIGS. 7 and 8.

In a state where the drawer 200 is closed, the drawer door 220 closes the opened front end of the storage space R and the drawer basket 240 maintains an inserted sate in the storage space R. The top of the storage container 300 disposed in the drawer basket 240 is closed by the container cover 320.

At this point, the pinion 540 is located on the rear end of the rack 520 and the spiral spring 560 is in a completely compressed state by the rotation of the pinion 540. Therefore, the pinion 540 intends to rotate by the compression force of the spiral spring 560 and thus the container cover 320 is applied with rearward force.

However, since the supporting member 580 is provided in rear of the container cover 320 to restrict the rearward movement of the container cover 320. However, since the weight and frictional force of the drawer 200 is greater than the compression force 560, the drawer 200 is not drawn out but maintains the inserted state.

Meanwhile, when the user indents to store or take the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300, he/she pulls the drawers 200 frontward to draw out the drawer 200. At this point, the storage container 300 disposed in the drawer basket 240 is drawn out together with the drawer 200.

As the storage container 300 moves frontward, the container cover 320 is pushed rearward by the compression force of the spiral spring 560. When the storage container 300 further moves frontward, the pinion 540 moves relative to the rack 520 and thus the compression force of the spiral spring 560 is gradually reduced.

The compression force of the spiral spring 560 is applied until the pinion 540 reaches the front end of the rack 520 and pushes the container cover 320 rearward. When the drawer is completely opened and thus the pinion 540 is located on the front end of the rack 520, the spiral spring 560 is released, to the normal state.

Accordingly, when the drawer 200 is completely opened, the top of the storage container 300 is opened. Then, the user puts or takes the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300.

Subsequently, when the drawer 200 is drawn in again, the storage container 300 disposed in the drawer basket 240 also moves rearward. At this point, the container cover 320 maintains a state where the rear end thereof is supported by the supporting member 580.

As the storage container 300 moves rearward, the pinion 540 rotates along the rack 520 and thus the spiral spring 560 is compressed.

In a state where the drawer 200 is completely drawn in, the compression force of the spiral spring 560 is maximized. At this point, since the compression force is equalized with the frictional force and weight of the drawer 200, the drawer 200 can maintain the inserted state.

Second Embodiment

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a storage container according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 10, a storage space 120 opened frontward is formed on a lower portion of the main body 10.

The storage space 120 is defined by an inner case 120 concaved rearward and defining an inner shape of the main body 10. The storage space 120 is substantially formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape that is opened frontward. If necessary, the storage space 120 may be divided into left and right halves.

A drawer 200 is installed in the storage space 120. The drawer 200 includes a drawer door 220 for selectively closing the opened front portion of the storage space 120 and a storage container for storing the foodstuffs. The drawer 200 is capable of being drawn in and out of the storage space 200.

The drawer door 220 has a corresponding shape to the opened front portion of the storage space 120 so that it can close the opened front portion of the storage space 120. That is, the drawer door 220 is configured to harmonize with an outer appearance of the main body 10.

A supporting bracket 240 is mounted on a rear surface of the drawer door 220. The supporting bracket 240 is configured to correspond to the circumferential surface of the storage container 300. Rails 260 are mounted on both sides of the supporting bracket 240.

Meanwhile, the storage container 300 is provided to preserve the foodstuffs such as rice or vegetables under a lower temperature. The storage container 300 includes a container main body 700 for receiving the foodstuffs and a container cover 600 for selectively closing the container main body 700 in accordance with the movement of the drawer 200.

An opening mechanism O having corresponding inclined surfaces are provided under the container cover 600 and above the container main body 700. The opening mechanism O automatically opens the storage container 300 as the container cover 600 slides rearward when the container main body 700 moves frontward. The opening mechanism O includes container inclined portions 620 and 620′ formed on the container main body 700 and cover inclined portions 610 and 610′ formed on the container cover 600.

The container main body 700 is configured to receive the supporting bracket 240. That is, the container main body 700 is formed in a rectangular parallelepiped shape having an opened top.

Further, the container inclined portion 620 is formed on an upper portion of the container main body 700. The container inclined portion 620 contacts a side of the container cover 600 to guide the sliding-open of the container cover 600. The container inclined portion 620 extends from a front end to a rear end (from a left end to a right end in FIG. 10) of upper ends of both sides of the container main body 700.

The container inclined portion 620 is inclined downward as it goes rearward (rightward in FIG. 10).

Meanwhile, a shaking preventing rib 640 is formed on an inner side of the container inclined portion 620, i.e., an inner side of the upper end of the container main body 700, extending upward along the inclined surface of the container inclined portion 620.

The shaking preventing rib 640 contacts left and right sides of an inner portion of the container cover 600 to prevent the container cover 600 from shaking leftward and rightward. The shaking preventing rib 640 protrudes up to a predetermined height to allow the container cover 600 to effectively slide down.

A sealing portion 660 is formed on a front-upper end of the container main body 700 adjacent to the drawer door 220. The sealing portion 660 protrudes upward to be higher than the upper ends of the both side surfaces of the container main body 700.

The sealing portion 660 contacts the front end of the container cover 600 when the container cover 600 closes completely the container main body 700. The sealing portion 660 is configured to seal the inside of the container main body 700 as the container cover 600 contacts the container main body 700.

Meanwhile, the container cover 600 is formed with a rectangular plate corresponding to the opened top of the container main body 700. The cover inclined portions 610 are formed on the left and right side ends of the container cover 700. The cover inclined portions 610 slide while contacting the container inclined portions 620. The cover inclined portions 610 are formed downward to be vertical to the container cover 600.

The cover inclined portion 610 has an inclination corresponding to the container inclined portion 620 so that it can effectively slide while contacting the container inclined portion 620. That is, the cover inclined portion 610 has an inclined surface formed on a bottom thereof. That is, a thickness of the cover inclined portion 610 increases as it goes from a front end to a rear end. As the thickness of the cover inclined portion 610 increases as it goes toward the rear end, a weight center of the container cover 600 is naturally sided to a rear half. As a result, the container cover 600 can effective slide on the container main body 700. However, such a movement of the weight center may not be enough. Therefore, an additional structure may be added to the rear half of the container cover 600.

The inclined surface of the cover inclined portion 610 contacts the inclined surface of the container inclined portion 620. The inner surface of the cover inclined portion 610 is adjacent to the shaking preventing rib 640 formed on the container main body 700 so as to prevent the container cover 600 from being removed and thus to allow the container cover 600 to be stably drawn out.

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of a friction reducing member and a stopper according to a first embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 12 is a schematic view of a friction reduction member and a stopper according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 11 and 12, the container inclined portion 620 and the cover inclined portion 610 are respectively provided with stoppers 626 and 622 and friction reduction members 628, 628′, 624, and 624′.

The stoppers 626 and 622 prevent the container cover from being separated when the container cover 600 opens the storage container 300 while sliding on the upper portion of the container main body 700. The stoppers 626 and 622 include a container stopper 626 protruding upward from the rear half of the inclined surface of the container inclined portion 620 and the cover stopper 622 protruding downward from the front half of the inclined surface of the cover inclined portion 610.

The container stopper 626 has a front end that is vertical with respect to the inclined surface of the container inclined portion 620, a top end that is horizontally formed, and a rear end that is inclined or rounded.

The cover stopper 622 has a rear end that vertically extends with respect to the inclined surface of the cover inclined portion 610 and lower and front ends that are inclined or rounded.

Accordingly, when the container cover 600 slides down rearward, the inclined surfaces of the container stopper 626 and the cover stopper 622 contact each other. At this point, the cover stopper 622 is restricted by the container stopper 626 and thus the separation of the container cover 600 from the container main body 700 by the container cover 600 keeping sliding down rearward can be prevented.

The friction reducing members 628 and 624 are respectively mounted on the inclined surfaces of the container inclined portion 620 and the cover inclined portion 610. The friction reduction members 628, 628′, 624, and 624′ contact the respective container and cover inclined portions 620 and 610 so that the container cover 600 can more smoothly slide.

For example, as shown in FIG. 11, as the friction reduction members 628 and 624 that respectively protrude from the inclined surfaces of the container and cover inclined portions 620 and 610 further protrude, a space between the container inclined portion 620 and the cover inclined portion 610 is reduced.

At this point, the friction reduction member 628 and 624 are formed of a material having a relatively lower frictional coefficient to enhance the sliding motion of the container cover. The friction reduction members 628 and 624 may be formed of POM or lubricant plastic that is formed by mixing oil with resin.

Meanwhile, as shown in FIG. 12, the friction reduction members 624′ and 628′ may be formed of roller or bearings mounted on the container inclined portion 620 in rear of the container stopper and the cover inclined portion 610 in front of the cover stopper 622.

An operation of the above-described automatic opening structure will be described hereinafter with reference to FIGS. 10 through 13.

FIG. 13 is a side sectional view illustrating a state where the drawer is opened.

Referring to FIGS. 10 through 13, in a state where the drawer door 220 is closed, the storage container 300 is received inside the storage space 120 and the container cover 600 completely closes the top of the container main body 700.

When the user opens the drawer to put or take the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300, the storage container 300 received in the supporting bracket 240 is exposed together with the drawer door 220.

At this point, the storage container 300 is drawn out together with the drawer 200 and the container cover 600 closing the opened top of the container main body 700 slides down on the container main body 700 by inertia.

That is, the container main body 700 moves frontward as the drawer is drawn out. At this point, the cover inclined portion 610 of the container cover 600 slides down along the container inclined portion 620.

At this point, the container inclined portion 610 slides down on the cover inclined portion 620 while line-contacting or point-contacting the friction reduction members 628, 628′, 624, and 624′ such as rollers or bearings. Since the weight center of the container cover 600 is sided rearward, the container cover 600 keeps sliding down rearward, thereby completely opening the container main body 700.

Meanwhile, when the container main body 700 is almost opened, the container stopper 626 and the cover stopper 622 that are respectively formed on the container cover 600 and the container main body 700 contact each other.

At this point, the vertical portions of the container and cover stoppers 626 and 622 contact each other so that the cover stopper 622 is hooked on the container stopper 626, thereby preventing the container cover 600 from being separated.

After the storage container 300 is completely opened, the user can put or take the foodstuffs in or from the storage container 300. Subsequently, the user pushes the drawer door 220 rearward so that the drawer 200 and the storage container 300 can be inserted into the storage space 120.

During the insertion of the drawer 200, the drawer door 220 and the storage container 300 move rearward and, at the same time, the storage container 300 is closed again.

Accordingly, when the container main body 700 keeps moving rearward, the container covers 600 slides up along the inclined surface of the container inclined portion 620 of the container main body 700.

As the cover inclined portion 610 of the container cover 600 moves frontward while contacting the container inclined portion 620 of the container main body 700, the container cover 600 gradually closes the opened top of the container main body 700.

The container cover 600 completely closes the opened top of the container main body 700.

FIG. 14 is a schematic view a storage container according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 14, container inclined portions 620′ are formed on upper portions of both side surfaces of a container main body 700.

At this point, upper ends of the both sides of the container main body 700 may be inclined in response to the inclination of the container inclined portions 620′. Alternatively, the upper ends of the both sides of the container main body 700 may be horizontally formed in response to the shape of the container cover 600.

Meanwhile, cover inclined portions 610′ are formed on both side ends of the container cover 600 closing the container main body 700. The cover inclination portions 610′ are formed extending vertically downward at the both side ends of the container cover 600. The lower ends of the container cover 600 extend to contact the top surface of the container inclined portion 620′ of the container main body 700.

The cover inclined portions 610′ are also inclined downward to correspond to the container inclined portion 620′. The extending length of the rear half of the cover inclined portion 610′ is greater than that of the front half. Accordingly, the weight center of the container cover 600 is sided rearward.

The container stopper 626 and the cover stopper 622 and the friction reduction members 628 and 624 may be mounted on the container and cover inclined portions 620′ and 610′. This structure is identical to that of the foregoing embodiment and thus a detailed description thereof will be omitted herein.

According to the refrigerator having the storage container that is automatically opened in accordance with the present invention, since the storage container received in the storage space is automatically closed and opened by the movement of the drawer, the use convenience can be improved.

Further, since the container cover is automatically opened and closed, the abrasion of the container cover can be reduced.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention. 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.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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DE102009029145A8 *Sep 2, 2009Jun 1, 2011BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbHKältegerät und Einbaubehälter dafür
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WO2010121958A2 *Apr 16, 2010Oct 28, 2010BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbHRefrigeration appliance comprising a drawer
WO2011026746A1 *Aug 23, 2010Mar 10, 2011BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbHRefrigeration device comprising an extractable drawer
WO2011026747A1 *Aug 23, 2010Mar 10, 2011BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbHRefrigeration device with an extractable drawer
WO2011026749A2 *Aug 23, 2010Mar 10, 2011BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbHRefrigeration device with a vegetable drawer
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/402
International ClassificationA47B96/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47B2210/08, F25D25/025, A47B2088/0011, F25B2500/13, F25D2400/10, A47B88/00, F25D23/021
European ClassificationA47B88/00, F25D25/02C2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 9, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: LG ELECTRONICS INC., KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:JI, SUN KOOK;REEL/FRAME:019330/0872
Effective date: 20070426