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Publication numberUS20080190048 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/981,803
Publication dateAug 14, 2008
Filing dateOct 31, 2007
Priority dateMay 30, 2001
Publication number11981803, 981803, US 2008/0190048 A1, US 2008/190048 A1, US 20080190048 A1, US 20080190048A1, US 2008190048 A1, US 2008190048A1, US-A1-20080190048, US-A1-2008190048, US2008/0190048A1, US2008/190048A1, US20080190048 A1, US20080190048A1, US2008190048 A1, US2008190048A1
InventorsToshimi Kitakado
Original AssigneeToto, Ltd.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Bathroom floor panel
US 20080190048 A1
Abstract
A bathroom floor panel for use in an airtight and water tight space is configured to be efficiently dried in a few hours under ambient conditions. When water drops onto the floor panel, the surface tension of the water is broken by irregular-shaped portions and the water spreads without forming waterdrops. Also, the irregular-shaped portions reduce the flow velocity of the water due to a gradient of the panel, so as to prevent the water flowing in channels to a drain from being discontinued. With this, although the drain velocity of the water is low, substantially no water remains as isolated drops. Further, even if some water remain on the irregular-shaped portions after the water flows out the channels to the drain, any amount of water remaining in the channels is evaporated in a relatively short period of time because the amount of the remaining water is very small.
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Claims(16)
1. A floor panel made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight booth where body-washing or bathing is performed comprising:
at least one of a drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel and a drain groove for helping the water on the floor panel to be drained to the drain hole;
a plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel; and
channels which are formed to surround the projections and connect to the drain hole or the drain groove continuously,
wherein the channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole or the drain groove, the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole or the drain groove without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels, and when waterdrops are formed on the surface of the floor panel by other water flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, the waterdrops come into contact with the water present in the channels so as to be brought into the channels, whereby the water in the channels disappears by primarily draining to the drain hole or the drain groove and by air drying any non-drained water remaining in the channels.
2. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein the channels are formed with a predetermined width and depth for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
3. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein the channels are formed with irregular-shaped portions in a direction resisting the water flow in the channels for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
4. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein the channels are formed with a gentler drain gradient on the downstream side of the channels compared with other portions thereof for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
5. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein the channels are formed to be frequently turned and branched and thereby obtaining a fine network configuration of the channels for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
6. The floor panel according to claim 5, wherein the projections are formed in a substantially rectangular shape and disposed in rows and columns in an alternating configuration and the channels are frequently turned and branched, for thereby controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
7. The floor panel according to claim 2, wherein the channels are formed to be frequently turned and branched and thereby obtaining a fine network configuration of the channels for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
8. The floor panel according to claim 7, wherein the projections are formed in a substantially rectangular shape and disposed in rows and columns in an alternating configuration and the channels are frequently turned and branched, for thereby controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels.
9. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein a size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on a top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with the water in the channels is 2 cc or less.
10. The floor panel according to claim 1, wherein a size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with the water in the channels is 0.2 cc or less.
11. A floor panel made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight booth where body-washing or bathing is performed comprising:
a plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel; and
channels which are formed to surround the projections and positioned to be lower than the projections,
wherein a size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with water in the channels is 2 cc or less,
wherein a height of each projection is configured so that waterdrops bridging the projections and the channels are broken, and
wherein the channels are configured to draw the broken waterdrops into the channels.
12. The floor panel according to claim 11 further comprising a drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel, wherein the channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole.
13. The floor panel according to claim 12, wherein the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels.
14. A method for automatically drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight booth where body-washing or bathing is performed, and wherein the floor panel includes
(A) at least one of a drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel and a drain groove for helping water on the floor panel to be collected and drained to the drain hole,
(B) a plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and
(C) channels which are formed to surround the projections and connect to the drain hole or the drain groove continuously, wherein the channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole or the drain groove, and the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole or the drain groove without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) forming a state where water is temporally retained in the channels to the drain hole or the drain groove continuously without being discontinued;
(b) bringing waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, gradually into the channels by contacting with the water present in a temporally retained state in the channels;
(c) introducing the water flowed into the channels to the drain hole or the drain groove slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained; and
(d) air drying a small amount of non-drained water remaining in the channels.
15. A method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight booth where body-washing or bathing is performed, and wherein the floor panel includes
(A) a plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and (B) channels which are formed to surround the projections and positioned to be lower than the projections, wherein a size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with water in the channels is controlled to 2 cc or less, a height of each projection being is configured so that waterdrops bridging the projections and the channels are broken, and
(the channels are configured to draw the broken waterdrops into the channels, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) breaking the waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel bridging the projections and the channels when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, by a vertical interval between the projections and the channels;
(b) drawing the broken waterdrops into the channels;
(c) allowing the water which is brought into the channels to flow slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained; and
d) air drying a small amount of non-drained water remaining in the channels.
16. A method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight booth where body-washing or bathing is performed, wherein the the floor panel includes
(A) a drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel,
(B) a plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and (C) channels which are formed to surround the projections and positioned to be lower than the projections, wherein a size of each projection is configured that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with water in the channels is 2 cc or less, a height of each projection is enough to break waterdrops bridging the projections and the channels, the channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole, the channels are configured to bring the broken waterdrops into the channels, and the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) forming a state where water is temporally retained in the channels to the drain hole continuously without being discontinued;
(b) breaking the waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel bridging the projections and the channels when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, by a vertical interval between the projections and the channels;
(c) bringing the broken waterdrops gradually into the channels by contacting with the water present in a temporally retained state in the channels;
(d) introducing the water flowed into the channels to the drain hole slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained; and
(e) air drying a small amount of non-drained water remaining in the channels.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part application of pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/479,117 filed 28 Nov. 2003, which is the U.S. National Phase of International Application PCT/JP02/05281 filed 30 May 2002, which claims priority under 35 USC §119 based on Japanese Patent Application Number 2001-163403, filed on 30 May 2001. The subject matter of each of the above-identified applications is incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a resin bathroom floor panel to be assembled as a part of a unit bath.

BACKGROUND ART

The floor panel of the present invention is applied to a booth, i.e., a prefabricated airtight unit room, whose components or parts are fabricated at a factory, which can be readily built on site by only assembling the components or parts.

Examples of such a booth include a unit bathroom and a shower room. The details thereof will be explained hereinafter.

Shower Room

Firstly, the basic structure of a shower room to which the floor panel of the present invention is applied will be explained with reference to FIG. 16. FIG. 16 shows a shower room which has been built.

As shown in FIG. 16, a shower room includes a floor panel supporting the weight of a user, plate-shaped wall panels standing upward to surround the four sides of the floor panel, and a ceiling panel which covers the top of the wall panels. An open-close door as the entrance and exit for a user is provided in a face of the wall panels.

The wall panels are mounted on the top of a water-stopping portion which is formed by extending upward from the periphery of the floor panel, and the wall panels are fixed by engaging with posts which are provided in corner sections. The ceiling panel is fixed by engaging with the top surfaces of the wall panels. The ceiling panel, the wall panels, and the floor panel are joined and sealed with watertightness by a sealing member such as silicone or joints.

A face of the wall panels is provided with a faucet body for spouting warm or cold water, a shower head connected to the faucet body by a flexible hose, a shower hook for retaining the shower head, and a rack shelf for accommodating small goods such as shampoo or body soap (not shown in the drawing). A drain hole is provided below the faucet so as to collect water flowed onto the floor panel and drain the water to the outside via a drain trap. The top surface of the drain hole is covered with a separate cover in a state where a gap is defined to flow water therethrough.

In this shower room, a watertight and airtight space is formed by the floor pan, the wall panels, and the ceiling panel. Consequently, a water-proof operation to a building is not required by using water-proof and water-resistant members. In addition, since the shower room is a prefabricated unit room, whose components or parts are fabricated at a factory, which can be readily built on site by only assembling the components or parts, the shower room has advantages that the construction period can be significantly shortened compared to a conventional method, and that stable quality can be achieved because prefabrication is performed at a well-controlled factory.

Unit Bathroom

Next, the basic structure of a unit bathroom to which the floor panel of the present invention is applied will be explained with reference to FIGS. 13-15. FIG. 13 shows a unit bathroom which has been built, FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view of a floor pan, and FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view of a unit bathroom.

As shown in FIG. 13, a unit bathroom includes a floor panel (washing place floor) where a user washes the body or the hair while sitting in a bath chair (not shown in the drawing), a bathtub provided adjacent to the washing place floor, plate-shaped wall panels standing upward to surround the four sides formed by the bathtub and the washing place floor, and a ceiling panel which covers the top of the wall panels.

The wall panel facing to the washing place is provided with a faucet for spouting warm or cold water, a counter for putting small goods such as shampoo or body soap or a basin thereon, a mirror, a rack shelf for accommodating small goods not in use, a shower device including a flexible hose whose one end is attached to a faucet and a shower head attached to the other end of the flexible hose, and a door as the entrance and exit. A window is provided in the wall panel facing to the bathtub. However, such a window is not necessary depending on the location and surroundings of the unit bathroom. An exhaust fan is provided in the ceiling to connect the unit bathroom to the outside air.

As shown in FIG. 14, a drain hole is provided in the vicinity of the side of the washing place adjacent to the bathtub so as to collect water flowed onto the washing place and drain the water to the outside via a drain trap. The top surface of the drain hole is covered with a separate cover in a state where a gap is defined to flow water therethrough.

Next, the assembled state of the floor panel, the bathtub, the wall panels and the ceiling will be explained with reference to FIG. 15. A full-pan-type where the floor panel of the washing place extends below the bathtub will be explained. In this connection, the floor panel refers to a floor panel on the washing place side.

The floor panel on which the whole bathtub is mounted has a wall-panel-mounting portion on the periphery which is one step higher to stop water. The wall panels are mounted on the wall-panel-mounting portion in a state of being sealed with watertightness and airtightness by a sealing member such as silicone or joints. There are a plurality of wall panels so as to facilitate carrying work. Each wall panel is fixed by engaging with a post (not shown in the drawing). The wall panels are joined and sealed with watertightness and airtightness by a sealing member such as silicone or joints with respect to the each other. The ceiling panel is fixed by engaging with the top surfaces of the four sides formed by the wall panels to cover the whole. The ceiling panel and the wall panels are joined and sealed with watertightness and airtightness by a sealing member such as silicone or joints.

In the unit bathroom, a watertight and airtight space is formed by the floor pan, the wall panels, and the ceiling panel. Consequently, a water-proofing operation relative to a building is not required, e.g., by using water-proof and water-resistant members. In addition, since the unit bathroom is a prefabricated unit room, whose components or parts are fabricated at a factory, which can be built only by assembling the components or parts on site, the unit bathroom has advantages that the construction period can be significantly shortened compared to a conventional method, and that stable quality can be achieved because prefabrication is performed at a well-controlled factory.

Floor Panel used in Shower Room or Unit Bathroom

Next, the floor panel used in the above-described shower room or unit bathroom will be explained in detail. A supporting base made of metal is provided below the floor panel so as to support the load of the floor panel and adjust the level of the floor panel surface with respect to the ground surface on which the floor panel is mounted. A bolt leg extendable and shrinkable in the vertical direction is attached to the supporting base, which makes it possible to adjust the level. It is also possible to adjust the level such that the floor panel surface has a gentle downward gradient toward the drain hole.

Since the floor panel requires properties such as a water-resistant property, a chemical-resistant property, or a shock-resistant property, there has been widely used an FRP material which is a resin material reinforced by fiber (Fiber Reinforced Plastics in which glass fiber and polyester resin are used).

The floor surface of the shower room or the unit bathroom is installed such that the floor panel surface has a downward gradient of 1/20- 1/100 (preferably 1/30- 1/70, more preferably 1/50) toward the drain hole. This gradient is for guiding water flowing on the floor panel to the drain hole. Although a steeper gradient can achieve better drainage, it causes a user to feel uncomfortable. Therefore, the gradient needs to be as gentle as necessary so that a user feels that they are standing on a flat surface.

Also, irregularities are formed on the floor panel surface so as to prevent a user from slipping when walking on the floor panel.

Next, the water flow in a case where water is flowed onto a conventional floor panel will be explained hereinafter.

The floor surface of a shower room and a unit bathroom has a drain gradient so as to maintain good drainage, which is important to a bathroom where water is used. However, as described above, since the floor material is made of FRP which has hydrophobic (water-repellent) properties and does not absorb water, there is a tendency for some water used in a shower room or a unit bathroom to be repelled on the floor surface and gather as large water drops so as to become hard to flow. Incidentally, most water is drawn by surface tension of water toward the drain hole so as to be drained.

Since the drain gradient is as gentle as necessary so that a user does not feel uncomfortable, once the water flowing toward the drain hole stops moving, the water remains in the same place as independent water drops. Consequently, a large amount of water drops remain on the floor surface. This is because water is hard to flow while bringing a dried surface into a wet state due to its surface tension or viscosity. The water easily stops even if there is a drain gradient.

Furthermore, in recent years, non-slip patterns having irregularities have been formed on the floor surface to improve safety properties corresponding to the demand of the market for the barrier free products. Such irregularities of the non-slip patterns prevent water drops from flowing, which results in a further increase in the amount of the remaining water, and consequently the problem has become more noticeable. Also, it takes a lot of time for such water drops to dry because the amount of water is too much compared to the surface area.

The remaining water drops still remain without drying after several hours, e.g., the next morning, because the characteristics of the material of the shower room and the unit bathroom such as highly airtight properties and low water-absorbing properties have bad effects in the same way as wet dust cloths do not dry in a vinyl bag. Consequently, the foot of a user gets wet when the user enters the bathroom to clean the bathtub or the like for maintenance, open or close the window, set a water-suction device of a washing machine into water left in the bathtub for reusing such water as water of the washing machine, and to hang or remove the laundry in the bathroom, etc. This is very uncomfortable and far from user-friendliness, and furthermore the inside of the bathroom is humid all the time because the moisture remains for a long period of time, which can easily cause mold to grow. This is very different from an ideal bathroom.

As described above, the shower room and unit bathroom has excellent waterproof, airtight and water-resistant properties which cannot be achieved in a conventional bathroom thanks to its component materials and the structure. However, the shower room and the unit bathroom has such disadvantages that water within the room is hard to dry compared to a conventional bathroom.

In addition, FRP, which almost all manufacturers employ, has hydrophobic (water-repellent) properties and does not absorb water, although it has excellent water-resistant properties or the like. Consequently, there is a tendency for water used in the bathroom to be repelled on the floor surface and gather as large water drops so as to become hard to flow, and a large amount of water drops remain on the floor surface without being drained.

In recent bathrooms of homes or the like, unit baths are in the mainstream. This is because the application of preliminary waterproofing works to the bathroom space of a building has become unnecessary by using a waterproof floor pan having a floor made of a waterproof material such as an FRP.

Moreover, in order to deal with the arrival of an aging society in recent years, the waterproof floor pan has been designed based on a non-slip specification in which irregularities are formed on the waterproof floor pan. With this, even when soapy water or the like is mixed with hot and cold water, it is possible to minimize or prevent the possibility of a user from slipping and falling down while body-washing is performed in a wash place. In addition, a rock pattern or a grain pattern has been adopted in the surface of the waterproof floor pan for the water place so as to improve the design.

As an example of the above-described unit bath, Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 6-93745 is known.

However, although the above-described waterproof floor pan of a unit bath has good feeling in use because it is not slippery at the time of performing body-washing in a wash place or the like, the irregularities adversely affect the capability of drainage on the surface of the wash place, and thereby the water to be drained remains as an island or isolated drops on the surface. Even on the next day, the water continues to remain without being air-dried because the drops contain a large amount of water relative to the surface area and are not easily dried. Consequently, when a user stands on the wash place portion in the bathroom with socks on, for example to clean a bathtub, the socks will get wet, which it is very uncomfortable. Also, it is troublesome to put off socks for every cleaning. In particular, it has been very unpleasant for elderly people because the remaining-water is cold in the winter season.

The present invention has been achieved to solve the above-described problems, and an object of the present invention is to provide a bathroom floor panel in which no water remains on a wash place portion of a unit bath on the next day without impairing the non-slip effect of the wash place portion of the unit bath. Another object of the present invention is to improve the drainage of a floor panel without using coating or painting which is easily stripped off during use and without being affected by water-repellent contaminants such as sebum which are inevitably generated in the bathroom. The present invention has solved the problems of a conventional technique by utilizing a physical arrangement of irregular patterns of the floor surface and design in which natural properties of water are taken into account with respect to water-repellent FRP.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to solve the above-described problem, a bathroom floor panel according to a first aspect of the present invention is comprised of projections for preventing slippage provided on the surface of the panel; channels connecting to a drain hole or a drain groove and provided between the projections; and irregular-shaped portions for breaking the surface tension of waterdrops provided at least on the channels.

With this structure, it is possible to achieve both of a non-slip effect and an effect of preventing the surface from remaining wet with water drops that have not drained.

Further, according to the first aspect of the present invention, the irregular-shaped portions for breaking the surface tension of waterdrops are formed in a direction resisting the water flow. With this, it is possible to control the flow velocity of water which flows in the channels, prevent the water from being disconnected and remaining as isolated drops, and thereby dry the surface of the floor in a shorter period of time.

A bathroom floor panel according to a second aspect of the present invention is comprised of projections for preventing slippage and breaking the surface tension of waterdrops provided on the surface of the panel; channels connecting to a drain hole or a drain groove and provided between the projections; and a means or mechanism for reducing the flow velocity in the channels so that the water in the channels is not discontinued.

With this structure, it is possible to achieve both of a non-slip effect and an effect of quickly drying the floor after use. Because the flow velocity of the water in the channels is reduced, the time during which the channels remain continuously wetted with the water is prolonged and more of the water drops are efficiently drained from the floor surface.

In the second aspect of the present invention, the above-described means or mechanism for reducing the flow velocity in the channels may, for example, be a curve on the downstream side of the channels or a gentler gradient on the downstream side of the channels.

Further, in the second aspect of the present invention, the above-described means or mechanism for reducing the flow velocity in the channels may, for example, be fine irregularities as obstacles to water flow which are provided in the channels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a bathroom floor panel according to a first aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the bathroom floor panel;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of a bathroom floor panel according to another embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line A-A of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line B-B of FIG. 3;

FIGS. 6( a) to (c) show the behavior of water on a floor panel;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a floor panel according to a second aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a floor panel according to another embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a detailed plan view of the floor panel according to another embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;

FIGS. 10( a) and (b) are sectional views of the shape of channels of the floor panel taken along line C-C of FIG. 9;

FIGS. 11( a) to (d) are detailed views of the shape of channels according to another embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing the state of disappearance of a waterdrop on a floor panel in another embodiment according to another embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 13 shows a unit bathroom which has been built;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view of a floor pan;

FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view of a unit bathroom; and

FIG. 16 shows a shower room which has been built.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION INCLUDING BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the appended drawings. FIG. 1 is a plan view of a bathroom floor panel according to a first aspect of the present invention; FIG. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the bathroom floor panel; FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of a bathroom floor panel according to another embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention; FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line A-A of FIG. 2; FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line B-B of FIG. 3; and FIGS. 6( a) to (c) show the behavior of water on a floor panel.

A floor panel 1 is prepared by molding a resin material (for example FRP) and comprised of a bathtub installing portion 2 and a water place portion adjacent thereto. The bathtub installing portion 2 may be a split type in which it is formed as a separate member from a water place side floor panel and these are connected afterwards, or a bathtub with a water place in which a bathtub side floor panel itself is formed into a bathtub shape.

A drain hole recess 4 for drainage is formed on the surface of the water place of the floor panel 1, and a drain hole 3 is disposed in the drain hole recess 4.

The floor panel 1 has a drain gradient so that the drain hole recess 4 is located in the lowest position. Water on the floor panel 1 flows along the drain gradient and is collected into the drain hole recess. 4. In this embodiment, a drain groove 5 is provided to help drainage together with the floor drain gradient, and water on the floor panel 1 is collected and allowed to flow into the drain hole recess 4.

In the first aspect of the present invention, projections 6 for preventing slippage and continuous channels 7 between these projections 6 are formed on the surface of the floor panel 1. The channels 7 are designed so as to be generally oriented toward the drain hole 3 or the drain groove 5. The projections 6 for preventing slippage may have a relatively long shape as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, or a circular shape as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, but not limited to these.

Even if waterdrops remain on the top surface of the projections, the water can be easily dried up before the next day by controlling the amount of waterdrops that can independently remain on the top surface of the projections without flowing into the channels defining the periphery of the projections to 2 cc or less. The amount of 2 cc or less can be air-dried in about eight hours under an average bathroom environment, for example, under an environment of a temperature of 15.3° C. and a humidity of 66%.

Further, irregular-shaped portions 8 for breaking the surface tension of water drops are formed at least on the channels 7 of the floor panel 1. The irregular-shaped portions 8 have a linear shape and are formed in a direction intersecting the projections 6 and the channels 7. Consequently, the velocity of water which flows in the channels 7 is controlled by the irregular-shaped portions 8, and the water is allowed to flow slowly in the channels 7 without being discontinued and forming isolated drops.

Furthermore, lattice-like boundaries 9 are provided on the surface of the floor panel 1 to improve the design, insofar as the functions of the projections for preventing slippage 6, the channels 7 and the irregular-shaped portions 8 for breaking the surface tension are not impaired.

In the above-described structure, when water drops to the surface of the floor panel 1, the surface tension is broken by the irregular-shaped portions 8 and the water spreads in the channels 7 without forming a waterdrop shown by an imaginary line in FIG. 6( a). The spreading water flows in the channels 7 which are formed continuously and enters the drain bole 3 directly or through the drain groove 5.

Since the irregular-shaped portions 8 not only break the surface tension so as to increase the surface area for evaporation of water, but also serve as a resistance to the water flowing in the channels 7 so as to control the flow velocity in the channels, the water flowing in the channels 7 is not discontinued as shown in FIG. 6( b). Specifically, the water in the channels 7 is surely drained in a state where the water flows slowly but continuously to the drain hole 3 or the drain groove 5, so that substantially no water will remain as an island or isolated drops.

Even if the water flowing in the channels 7 remains between the irregular-shaped portions as shown in FIG. 6( c), the amount of the remaining water is extremely small and the water will evaporate in a short period of time so as to present no practical problem.

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a floor panel according to a second aspect of the present invention. The structure of the floor panel is the same as the first aspect of the present invention except the surface shape. The floor panel of this embodiment is formed by providing projection-shaped portions 10 for preventing slippage and breaking the surface tension over the whole surface of the floor panel 1, channels 11 between the projection-shaped portions 10, and a means or mechanism for controlling the velocity of drain water in the channels 11.

Even if waterdrops remain on the top surface of the projection-shaped portions, the water can be dried up before the next day by controlling the amount of waterdrops that can independently remain on the top surface of the projection-shaped portions without flowing into the channels defining the periphery of the projection-shaped portions to 2 cc or less. The amount of 2 cc or less can be air-dried in about eight hours under an average bathroom environment, for example, under an environment of a temperature of 15.3° C. and a humidity of 66%.

In FIG. 7, the means or mechanism for controlling the flow velocity in the channels 11 is illustrated as an example in which the channels 11 at the downstream side of the water flow are formed in a state being curved in a direction resisting the drain gradient. However, other means may be used such as providing a gentler drain gradient on the downstream side of the channels compared with other areas or providing fine irregularities in the channel 11 so as to resist the drainage.

As mentioned above, in order to effectively dry water on the surface of the floor panel 1, it is important to eliminate the water remaining as an island or isolated drops by controlling the flow velocity of the water and preventing the drain water from being discontinued at the time of introducing the water which has dropped to the surface of the floor panel 1 into the drain hole 3.

Generally, a floor, in which the velocity of drain water is greater, is considered as “a floor with good drainage”. However, when the velocity of the water flowing down to be drained is great, the water which is continuously drained becomes discontinued so that the water is allowed form isolated drops and to remain on the surface. Consequently, a situation in which some of the water remains as an island is easily produced, which finally results in a floor that is difficult to be dried.

Thus, the embodiment shown in FIG. 7 has a structure in which drainage is not interrupted on the way by providing a curve on the downstream side of the channels 11 so as to reduce the rate of drainage on the downstream side and cause a somewhat stagnant state for the drain water in the channels 11.

The same effect can be obtained by other means, such as providing a gentler drain gradient on the downstream side of the channels.

Also, the means for controlling the drain velocity in the channels 11 may be fine irregularities provided in the channels 11 as obstacles. The same effect as mentioned above can be obtained in this case.

FIGS. 8 and 9 are a perspective view and a plan view, respectively, of the embodiment of a bathroom floor panel according to the second aspect of the present invention in which another means for controlling the flow velocity is provided. In the floor panel of this embodiment, there are formed projection-shaped portions 12 for preventing slippage and breaking the surface tension over the whole surface of the floor panel 1. The projection-shaped portions 12 have a substantially rectangular shape of about 5 mm×about 10 mm, and have a relatively large height of 0.5 mm. Also, the projection-shaped portions 12 are formed very close to each other at an interval of 2 mm, and thereby channels 13 defined between the adjacent projection-shaped portions 12 have a depth of 0.5 mm and a width of 2 mm, respectively. The channels 13 are connected to the drain hole 3 (not shown) or the drain groove 5 (not shown) on the downstream side of the water flow. In such a narrow and deep channel, the viscosity resistance of water is remarkably exerted as a flow velocity control effect, and the flow velocity in the channels 13 can be controlled effectively together with a surface tension effect which is produced in such a narrow channel.

In this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 9, the amount of water in the waterdrop that can independently remain on the upper surface of the projection-shaped portion 12 without flowing into the surrounding channel 13 is limited to a very small amount of about 0.2 CC by making the projection-shaped portion 12 small. Therefore, even if a waterdrop independently remains on the projection-shaped portion 12, it can be air-dried more quickly under the above-described bathroom environment, and the floor surface can surely be dried in a shorter period of time.

More specifically, the projection-shaped portions 12 having a basic shape of a rectangle are disposed in rows and columns in an alternating configuration. The channels 13 defined therebetween are allowed to be frequently turned and branched, and thereby a fine network configuration of the channels 13 can be obtained. Consequently, the flow resistance in the channels is increased, and the water flowing downstream can follow various paths.

As shown in FIGS. 10( a) and (b), the section profile of the channels 13 in this embodiment has a substantially V-shaped taking cleanability or the like into consideration. However, the channels 13 may have any other section profiles such as a substantially square shape or a substantially round shape as shown in FIGS. 11( a) to (c). In this connection, the width and the depth in the section profile of the channels 13 are defined by W and D, respectively, as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. Regardless of the section profile of the channels 13, when the profile is formed as a two-level shape in which the section profile is varied in the course as shown in FIG. 10( b), FIG. 11( b) and FIG. 11( d), the width of the channel-forming portion in which substantially minimum water can be stored is defined as the channel width W.

Moreover, the shape and configuration of the projection-shaped portions 12 may include any shapes such as a substantially circular shape, a substantially square shape and a geometrical pattern, other than a substantially rectangular shape described in this embodiment, in any configurations including combinations of different shapes. Specifically, any configuration, shape and path may be used as far as the effect of the dimension and path of the channels 13 defined between the projection-shaped portions, and the viscosity resistance or surface tension of the water that is generated in the channels 13 can produce the flow velocity controlling effect in which, when water is dropped onto the surface of the floor panel 1, the water flowing into the channels 13 can be retained temporally without being discontinued until the waterdrop formed on the surface is broken and the shape of the waterdrop disappears.

The operation of the present invention having the above-mentioned structure will now be described.

Firstly, in the first aspect of the present invention, the waterdrop formed in the course of using water on the surface of the floor panel 1 has a tendency to spread and flow into the channels 7 as shown by the imaginary line of FIG. 6( a). This is caused by a general physical phenomenon that the waterdrop is split by a vertical interval of the irregularities of the floor surface and flows from a higher projected portion to a lower recessed portion. The projections 6 for preventing slippage and irregular-shaped portions 8 serve to help the above operation.

The water flowing into the channels 7 passes through the channels 7 that are continuously formed, and is drained directly to the drain hole 3 or through the drain groove 5.

In the case of conventional common floors, a floor panel is made of a hydrophobic material such as plastics, which inherently repels water and makes the drainage in the channels excessively good so as to increase the flow velocity too much or generate non-uniformity in the flow velocity. Consequently, even if the waterdrop is pushed into the channel 7 by the effect of the surface shape of the floor, flow of the water is often discontinued at an early stage in the channel 7, and the remaining part of the water tends to stop. As a result, the water that is dropped onto the floor panel 1 cannot completely break its waterdrop shape and tends to remain as independent waterdrops.

The above-described irregular-shaped portions 8 of the first aspect of the present invention have an effect of breaking the surface tension of a waterdrop and introducing the water into the channels 7, and also serving as a resistance to the water that tends to flow into the channels 7 and downstream so as to reduce the flow velocity of the water and create a somewhat stagnant state where the water in the channels 7 passes slowly. With this, it is possible to create a water-retained state in which the channels 7 are filled with water continuously. Further, since the water in the channels 7 is drained only at a slow velocity, the water-retained state can be maintained for a long period of time. Therefore, even if the surface of the floor panel 1 is hydrophobic, the water flowing in the channels 7 is not discontinued at an early stage as shown in FIG. 6( b), and the above-described state in which water is retained temporally can be maintained for a long period of time.

Even if a user takes a bath in this state, other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel 1, and the water temporally forms waterdrops on the surface of the floor panel 1 due to its surface tension, since the waterdrops are in contact with the water which has already been present in a temporally retained state in the channels 7 on the floor panel 1, the water of the waterdrops gradually flows into the channels 7 by a synergistic effect of a water-attracting/introducing effect of the water in the channels 7 and the above-described surface tension-breaking effect of the projections 6 and the irregular-shaped portions 8. Then, the water is introduced to the drain hole 3 or the drain groove 5 slowly but without being discontinued and reliably drained. Consequently, the waterdrops on the floor panel 1 disappear and do not remain on the floor panel 1.

The water-attracting/introducing effect caused by the water temporally retained in the channels 7 utilizes the surface tension of water. Since water tends to form spherical drops due to its surface tension so as to minimize the surface area, it is stabilized as a waterdrop on a hydrophobic material. However, when a plurality of waterdrops which exist individually and stably by each drop's surface tension are brought into contact with each other, force to combine these waterdrops into one drop is generated at the time of the contact. This is because a larger waterdrop formed by combining the plurality of waterdrops results in a smaller total surface area and provides higher stability. This force is derived from the surface tension of an individual waterdrop, and even a waterdrop in a stagnant state where no other external forces operate can obtain power to move by the surface tension of the water itself at the time of being brought into contact with another waterdrop or water. In the first aspect of the present invention, when the water temporally retained in the channels 7 is brought into contact with the remaining water which has formed new waterdrops on the floor panel 1, force generated by the surface tension of these two kinds of water is utilized as the water-attracting/introducing force into the channels 7. Consequently, the waterdrops remaining individually are reduced, and thereby the time for drying the surface of the floor panel 1 is reduced.

The water flowing into the channels 7 and temporally retained does not completely stop, but is slowly flowing at a controlled velocity. Therefore, even after waterdrops disappear, the total amount of the water temporally retained in the channels 7 on the floor panel 1 can be securely reduced as the lapse of time, and thereby the floor panel 1 can be dried quickly. Even if some water remains between the irregular-shaped portions 8 as shown in FIG. 6( c) after the water flows out the channels 7, the remaining amount of the water in this case is very small, and it will evaporate in a short period of time. Therefore, there will be no problem in practical use.

Also, the temporally retained state of water in the channels 7 only needs to be maintained until the waterdrop produced on the surface of the floor panel 1 is mostly attracted and introduced into the channels 7. Even if the continuous state in the channels 7 is partly discontinued at any part on the floor panel 1 before the waterdrop disappears, the effect of the first aspect of the present invention will not be impaired. This is because, if the channel 7 which is actually in contact with the waterdrop is connected with the downstream portion of the floor panel 1 through any channel 7 in a water-retained state in any path, the water of the waterdrop flows along the path and is drained.

Also, even if the continuous and water-retained state in the channels 7 is discontinued just after disappearance of the waterdrop and water remains only in the channels 7, the remaining water spreads over a wide area of the floor panel 1, and thereby the water is more easily air-dried than water remaining in a individual waterdrop state. Therefore, the effect of the first aspect of the present invention is not impaired.

In addition to the above, the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projections for preventing slippage without being brought into contact with the water in the channel is controlled at a level of 2 CC or less. This amount can be dried in about eight hours under common bathroom ventilation conditions, average temperature and humidity environments. Since the amount of water can be air-dried in about eight hours after use of a bathroom, e.g., by the next morning, under a common bathroom environment, even if some waterdrops unfortunately are not brought into contact with the channel at all and remain independently, the amount of the water can be controlled to an amount that can be dried in a predetermined period of time, and thereby the object of the present invention can be achieved sufficiently. Therefore, there will be no problem.

In the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention shown in FIG. 7, projection-shaped portions 10 which have both a non-slip effect and a surface tension-breaking effect are formed over the whole area of the surface of the floor panel 1, and the channels 11 are defined between the projection-shaped portions 10. The water flowing on the surface of the floor panel 1 is split by the projection-shaped portions 10 and pushed or drawn into the channels 11. A somewhat stagnant state is produced in the drain water in the channels 11 by, for example, curving the channel on the downstream side of the water flow in a direction resisting the drain gradient or by providing a gentler drain gradient on the downstream side of the water flow compared with other areas as means for controlling a flow velocity so as to reduce the capability of the downstream side drainage in the channels 11. Specifically, there is provided a structure in which the water in the channels 11 is not discontinued on the way to the drain hole 3 or the drain groove 5. The means for controlling the flow velocity of the drain water in the channels 11 may also/alternatively involve fine irregularities provided in the channels 11 as obstacles to water flow.

According to common sense, a floor having a higher drain velocity is easily considered as “a floor with good drainage”. Therefore, various modifications to improve the capability of drainage in the drain channel have been proposed as disclosed in Japanese Patent Application Publication No. 4-243941. Especially in a floor made from a hydrophobic material such as plastics, if the velocity of the drain water which flows to the downstream is too high, the drain water in a continuous state is often easily discontinued on the way, the remaining water produces waterdrops which are isolated as islands. Therefore, although these modifications seem to improve drainage, they provide a floor actually difficult to be dried. Thus, the second aspect of the present invention as well as the first aspect of the present invention has adopted a structure in which the overall capability of drainage and drying is improved by controlling the flow velocity in the channel 11 so as to cause a somewhat stagnant state to the water flow on an area of the floor based on a conception which goes counter to the prior art.

According to this structure, by providing means for controlling the flow velocity in the channels 11, part of the water flowing on the floor panel 1 is temporally retained in the channels 11, and the water flow is allowed to be in a continuous state in the channels 11 for a while. With this, the waterdrops on the floor panel 1 can be attracted and introduced into the channels 11, and the waterdrops can be gradually broken. After that, the water slowly and securely flows in the channels 11 without being discontinued, is drained from the floor, and thereby can be securely reduced with the lapse of time. Also, by spreading the water widely on the floor panel 1, it is possible to promote efficient air-drying and significantly decrease the time for drying the floor.

In addition to the above, the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projections for preventing slippage without being brought into contact with the water in the channel is controlled at a level of 2 CC or less. This amount can be dried in about eight hours under common bathroom ventilation conditions, average temperature and humidity environments. Since the amount of water can be air-dried in about eight hours after use of a bathroom, e.g., before the next morning, under a common bathroom environment, even if some waterdrops unfortunately are not brought into contact with the channel at all and remain independently, the amount of the water can be controlled to an amount that can be dried in a predetermined period of time, and thereby the object of the present invention can be achieved sufficiently. Therefore, there will be no problem.

In the embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, by making the width and the depth of the channels 13, which are defined between the substantially rectangular projection-shaped portions 12 on the whole area of the surface of the floor panel 1, narrow and deep, respectively, it is possible to prevent the flow of water in the channels 13 from being discontinued. This can be achieved by both effects of the viscosity resistance and the surface tension of water. Also, since water has viscosity in itself, the viscosity resistance is easily exerted as an effect of controlling a flow velocity in the narrow and deep channels 13, and thereby a sufficient effect of controlling a flow velocity can be obtained. Further, an effect of temporally retaining water in the channels 13 is enhanced together with the effect of the surface tension generated in the narrow and deep channel shape. Therefore, even if the floor panel 1 is made from a hydrophobic material that inherently repels water, water in the channels 13 can be temporally retained in a continuous state without being repelled.

The viscosity resistance is also easily developed in water which flows downstream in the channels having a narrow pitch or a network configuration. Therefore, the flow velocity controlling effect can be obtained, and thereby water can be temporally retained in a continuous state in the channels 13, in the same manner as the case mentioned above.

In addition to the above, the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projections for preventing slippage without being brought into contact with the water in the channel is controlled at a level of 2 CC or less. This amount can be dried in about eight hours under common bathroom ventilation conditions, average temperature and humidity environments. Since the amount of water can be air-dried in about eight hours after use of a bathroom, e.g., by the next morning, under a common bathroom environment, even if some waterdrops unfortunately are not brought into contact with the channel at all and remain independently, the amount of the water can be controlled to the amount that can be dried in a predetermined period of time, and thereby the object of the present invention can be achieved sufficiently. Therefore, there will be no problem.

In the embodiment of FIG. 9, by making the projection-shaped portions 12 smaller, the above-described amount can be further reduced to 0.2 CC, for example, and thereby reliable drying in a shorter period of time can be achieved.

It should be noted that the state where the amount of water in a waterdrop that can remain on the top surface of the projection-shaped portions 12 on the floor panel I without being brought into contacting with the water in the channels 13 is controlled to a level of 2 CC or less, means a substantial state. Therefore, even if the amount of water that can remain on the projection-shaped portions 12 exceeds the level in some projection-shaped portions 12, this state shall be substantially the same as the above-mentioned state as far as the effect of drying the floor does not change the gist of the second aspect of the present invention.

In this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 9, the projection-shaped portions 12 have a size of about 5 mm times, about 10 mm, and are disposed in rows and columns in an alternating configuration. The channels 13 defined therebetween are frequently turned and branched, and thereby a fine network configuration of the channels 13 is formed. With this, the flow resistance in the channels is increased, and the water flowing downstream can follow various paths.

This is effective in that the water of the waterdrops can securely be drained through different paths even in a case where the water as retained in the channels 13 in a continuous state is partly discontinued.

Also, the width of the projection-shaped portions 12 is adjusted to about 5 mm, which is close to the average diameter of waterdrops. With this, it is possible to improve the effect of breaking waterdrops, in that the water on the floor panel 1 can be brought into contact with the water in the channels 13 with a high probability, and thereby it becomes difficult for the water to exist on the projection-shaped portions 12 as independent waterdrops. Therefore, the amount of water that may unfortunately remain on the projection-shaped portions 12 can be limited to a range where the water can be reliably dried up by air-drying. Also, as mentioned above, according to this embodiment, since only about 0.2 CC or less of water can exist independently on the projection-shaped portions 12, it is possible to break waterdrops and dry the floor surface more reliably.

By utilizing the effects of flow velocity control and surface tension, the water is temporally retained in a continuous state in the channels 13, and produces the same effects as the above-described first and second aspects of the present invention. With these effects, as shown in FIG. 12, it is possible to attract and introduce waterdrops into the channels 13, and then drain them completely. Consequently, the floor can be dried at an early stage in the same manner as the first and second aspects of the present invention.

Finally, four methods of drying a floor panel according to the present invention will be explained in detail.

Four Methods for Drying a Floor Panel in the Present Invention Method 1

A first method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight unit bathroom or shower booth involves the following elements:

  • (A) A drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel,
  • (B) A plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and
  • (C) Channels which are formed to surround the projections and connect to the drain hole continuously.

Preferably, the area of the projections is 0.25 cm2-4.0 cm2. Experiment results show that the maximum area is 4.0 cm2 to air-dry water by next morning even if water remains on the projections, and the minimum area is 0.25 cm2 to allow no water drop to remain on the projections.

The channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole, and the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels. The gradient is a downward gradient of 1/20- 1/100, preferably 1/30- 1/70, more preferably 1/50.

The steps of the first method involving the above elements, together with an explanation of same, are as follows:

  • (a) Forming a state where water is temporally retained in the channels without being discontinued.

The surface of the floor panel gets wet after it is used in a common way. According to the floor panel of the present invention, part of water is temporarily retained in the channels formed on the floor surface, so that the network of the continuous water channels leading downstream to the drain hole is formed in a state of being filled with water without being discontinued. This water-retaining effect is achieved by the intermolecular force of water which is utilized by adjusting the size and the arrangement of the channels on the floor surface and controlling the flow velocity. Incidentally, such network of the water channels does not exist in a floor with a conventional draining structure.

  • (b) Causing waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, to be drawn gradually into the channels by contacting them with the water present in a temporally retained state in the channels.

In the draining structure of the floor panel of the present invention, it is arranged such that water drops formed on the floor surface are in contact with water temporally retained in the continuous water channels. Accordingly, the water drops are not completely isolated, and the water drops are gradually drawn into the continuous water channels due to the water-guiding effect of water in the channels so as to be drained to the downstream drain hole. In contrast, since there are no continuous water channels which retain water in a floor with a conventional draining structure, water drops gathering on the floor surface are completely isolated, and the drainage completely stops if the gravity drainage by the drain gradient is not enough. Consequently, since there is no other way than air drying to remove the remaining drops, it takes a lot of time to dry.

  • (c) Causing the water flowed into the channels to be introduced into the drain hole slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained.

All the water of water drops formed on the surface of the floor panel are introduced into the channels, and the water drops completely disappear. The amount of water in the channels increases temporarily because the water drops are drawn into the channels. However, the water in the channels is not completely stagnated although the velocity is controlled. Accordingly, the water in the channels is gradually drained to the drain hole without being discontinued, and the amount of the water securely decreases as time passes. In the meantime, almost all the water in the channels is drained.

  • (d) Air drying a small amount of water remaining in the channels.

Although a very small amount of water might remain in the channels, the amount is so small and the surface area of the spread water is so large that the water can completely air dry in a short period of time

Method 2

A second method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight unit bathroom or shower booth involves the following elements:

  • (A) A drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel,
  • (B) A drain groove for helping water on the floor panel to be collected and drained to the drain hole,
  • (C) A plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and
  • (D) Channels which are formed to surround the projections and connect to the drain hole or the drain groove continuously.

The channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole or the drain groove, and the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole or the drain groove without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels.

The steps of the second method involving the above elements, together with an explanation of same, are as follows:

  • (a) Forming a state where water is temporally retained in the channels without being discontinued.

Since this is the same as (a) of the first method except that the continuous water channels continue to the drain hole or drain groove, explanations are omitted.

  • (b) Causing waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, to be drawn gradually into the channels by contacting them with the water present in a temporally retained state in the channels.

Since this is the same as (b) of the first method except that the continuous water channels continue to the drain hole or drain groove, explanations are omitted.

  • (c) Causing the water flowed into the channels to be introduced into the drain hole or the drain groove slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained.

Since this is the same as (c) of the first method except that the continuous water channels continue to the drain hole or drain groove, explanations are omitted.

  • (d) Air drying a small amount of water remaining in the channels.

Since this is the same as (d) of the first method, explanations are omitted.

Method 3

A third method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight unit bathroom or shower booth involves the following elements:

(A) A plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and

(B) Channels which are formed to surround the projections and positioned to be lower than the projections.

The size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with water in the channels is controlled to 2 CC or less. The height of each projection is enough to break waterdrops bridging the projections and channels. Preferably, the height of the projections is 0.2 mm-1 mm depending on the width of the projections.

The channels are configured to bring the broken waterdrops into the channels.

The steps of the third method involving the above elements, together with an explanation of same, are as follows:

  • (a) Causing the waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel bridging the projections and the channels when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, to be broken by a vertical interval between the projections and the channels.

While the waterdrops bridging the projections and the channels are brought into the surrounding channels by gravity due to a vertical interval between the projections and the channels, the surface tension of the waterdrops is broken by the edges of the projections.

  • (b) Causing the broken waterdrops to be drawn into the channels.

The broken waterdrops are gradually drawn into the channels by the gravity due to a vertical interval between the projections and the channels.

  • (c) Allowing the water which is brought into the channels to disappear.

Since the channels are formed widely, the water flowed into the channels spreads over a wide area and the surface area of the water is large, so that any of the water which is not drained and remains in the channels can completely dry for a short period of time.

Method 4

A fourth method for drying a floor panel which is made of a hydrophobic resin material and used for an airtight unit bathroom or shower booth involves the following elements:

  • (A) A drain hole for collecting water on the floor panel,
  • (B) A plurality of island-shaped projections for preventing slippage provided on a surface of the floor panel, and
  • (C) Channels which are formed to surround the projections and positioned to be lower than the projections.

The size of each projection is configured so that the amount of water that can remain on the top surface of the projection without being brought into contact with water in the channels is controlled to 2 CC or less. The height of each projection is enough to break waterdrops bridging the projections and channels.

The channels have a drain gradient so as to flow water into the drain hole, the channels are configured to bring the broken waterdrops into the channels, and the channels are formed to have flow resistance for controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels by the drain gradient to be enough to flow the water continuously to the drain hole without being discontinued when the water flows into the channels.

The steps of the fourth method involving the above elements, and a discussion of the same, are as follows:

  • (a) Forming a state where water is temporally retained in the channels without being discontinued.

Since this is the same as (a) of the first method, explanations are omitted.

  • (b) Causing the waterdrops, which are formed on the surface of the floor panel bridging the projections and the channels when other water is flowed onto the surface of the floor panel, to be broken by a vertical interval between the projections and the channels.

Since this is the same as (a) of the third method, explanations are omitted. -p0 (c) Causing the broken waterdrops to be drawn gradually into the channels by contacting with the water present in a temporally retained state in the channels.

Since this is the same as (b) of the first method, explanations are omitted.

  • (d) Causing the water flowed into the channels to be introduced into the drain hole slowly without being discontinued so as to be drained.

Since this is the same as (c) of the first method, explanations are omitted.

  • (e) Air drying a small amount of water remaining in the channels.

Since this is the same as (d) of the first method, explanations are omitted.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

As mentioned above, according to the present invention, by providing irregular-shaped portions to break the surface tension of waterdrops and prevent formation of waterdrops on the surface of a bathroom floor panel, the surface area of the water remaining on the floor surface can be increased, and thereby the water can be dried in a relatively short period of time. As a result, the floor surface can be brought into a dried state by the next day after use without impairing the non-slip effect.

Also, by providing the irregular-shaped portions for breaking the surface tension of waterdrops in a direction resisting the water flow, it is possible to control the flow velocity of the water which is drained to a drain hole or a drain groove, and prevent the draining water from being discontinued. As a result, it is possible to prevent the water from remaining as an island or isolated drops, and thereby dry the floor surface securely in a predetermined period of time.

Also, since the bathroom floor panel has projections for preventing slippage and breaking the surface tension of waterdrops, channels connecting to a drain hole or a drain groove and provided between the projections, and means for reducing the flow velocity in the channels to prevent the water in the channels from being discontinued, the water on the floor surface can be securely drained without being discontinued, and the drying performance of the floor surface can be improved.

Also, in the bathroom floor panel of the present invention, part of the water flowing onto the floor surface is temporally retained in a continuous state in the channels by controlling the flow velocity of the water in the channels, and the amount of water that can independently remain on the top surface of the projections without being brought into contact with the water that is temporally retained in the channels is controlled to 2 CC or less. Therefore the amount of water that may independently remain on the projections can be limited to an amount that can be sufficiently air-dried in a predetermined period of time under a common bathroom environment, and thereby the drying performance of the floor can be securely obtained.

Although there have been described what are the present embodiments of the invention, various changes and modifications may be made thereto within the spirit and scope of the invention as reflected by the appended claims.

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US7658040 *Jan 4, 2005Feb 9, 2010Huber Engineered Woods LlcPanel for sheathing system and method
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US8752219Jul 31, 2009Jun 17, 2014Masco Corporation Of IndianaBath system
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Classifications
U.S. Classification52/177
International ClassificationE04F15/00
Cooperative ClassificationE04F15/02
European ClassificationE04F15/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 21, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: TOTO LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KITAKADO, TOSHIMI;REEL/FRAME:020858/0717
Effective date: 20071129