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Publication numberUS20080252189 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/100,877
Publication dateOct 16, 2008
Filing dateApr 10, 2008
Priority dateApr 11, 2007
Also published asCA2584573A1
Publication number100877, 12100877, US 2008/0252189 A1, US 2008/252189 A1, US 20080252189 A1, US 20080252189A1, US 2008252189 A1, US 2008252189A1, US-A1-20080252189, US-A1-2008252189, US2008/0252189A1, US2008/252189A1, US20080252189 A1, US20080252189A1, US2008252189 A1, US2008252189A1
InventorsPaul Regan
Original AssigneePaul Regan
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Storage and Drying Unit for Storing and Drying Outerwear, Sports Clothing and Equipment
US 20080252189 A1
Abstract
A storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment is provided. The unit comprises an enclosure having a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front. The chamber may also include shelf members for supporting the outerwear, sports clothing or equipment. The walls and any shelf members include aeration holes for allowing movement of air through the chamber in order to facilitate the drying of the outerwear, sports clothing or equipment placed in the chamber. The unit may be provided with a drying fan to encourage an airflow past the outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in the chamber to facilitate drying of same. The unit may also be provided with hangars for hanging the outerwear, sports clothing or equipment. These hangars are sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of the aeration holes.
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Claims(27)
1. A storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said storage and drying unit comprising:
an enclosure having at least a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front;
a plurality of aeration holes disposed on at least one of said back wall, top wall, bottom wall and two side walls; and
a drying fan in communication with said chamber to direct airflow past said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in said chamber to facilitate drying the same.
2. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, wherein said enclosure further has a bottom wall.
3. A storage and drying unit according to claim 2, wherein said bottom wall has a plurality of aeration holes.
4. A storage and drying unit according to claim 2, further comprising at least one roller mounted to said bottom wall for ease of location and relocation of said unit along a floor.
5. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, wherein said enclosure is formed from a single wall element.
6. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, wherein said enclosure is formed from a plurality of wall elements.
7. A storage and drying unit according to claim 6, wherein each one of said plurality of wall elements is identical in size and shape.
8. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further including at least one hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably attached to any one of said aeration holes.
9. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising at least one roller mounted to a bottom portion of said unit for ease of location and relocation of said unit along a floor.
10. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising at least one shelf member disposed within said chamber, said shelf member having a plurality of aeration holes.
11. A storage and drying unit according to claim 10, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by said at least one shelf member, wherein said vertical frame elements and said at least one shelf member form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall, top wall, and two side walls of said enclosure.
12. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising a name plate attached to a top, front portion of said storage and drying unit.
13. A storage and drying unit according to claim 12, wherein said name plate is attached to said top wall.
14. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by said top wall, wherein said vertical frame elements and said top wall form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall and two side walls of said enclosure.
15. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising a means to deodorize air emanating from said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment.
16. A storage and drying unit according to claim 15, wherein said means to deodorize air comprises a means to remove airborne particles.
17. A storage and drying unit according to claim 16, wherein said airborne particles comprise bacteria, mold spores, dust particles, pollen, or odour particles.
18. A storage and drying unit according to claim 17, wherein said means to remove said airborne particles is an ionizer.
19. A storage and drying unit according to claim 18, wherein said ionizer is positioned in the airflow directed by said drying fan.
20. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, wherein said drying fan is controlled by a programmable timer.
21. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, wherein said enclosure is made of one or more of plastic, metal, wood, and fibre board.
22. A storage and drying unit according to claim 1, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by a plurality of horizontal frame elements, wherein said vertical frame elements and horizontal frame elements form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall, top wall, and two side walls of said enclosure.
23. A storage and drying unit according to claim 22, wherein said vertical frame elements, and said horizontal frame elements are made of angled metal.
24. A storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said storage and drying unit comprising:
an enclosure having a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front;
a plurality of aeration holes disposed on at least one of said back wall, top wall, and two side walls; and
at least one hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.
25-50. (canceled)
51. A storage and drying unit kit having components capable of being assembled into a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said kit comprising:
a plurality of frame elements, at least one back wall element, a top wall, and at least two side wall elements adapted to form an enclosure defining at least one chamber with an open front, wherein one or more of said back wall element, top wall, and two side wall elements have a plurality of aeration holes disposed thereon; and
a hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.
52-54. (canceled)
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to storage units such as lockers and, more particularly, to lockers for storing outerwear, sports clothing, equipment and accessories.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Professional athletes such as baseball, basketball and football players have personal lockers in the locker rooms of stadiums and the like in which their personal equipment is stored. Such lockers are constructed of heavy gauge metal frame members which are welded together, and sheet metal wall and shelf panels which are either welded, riveted or bolted to the frame members to provide the necessary structural integrity for the intended use and expected abuse of the locker during use. Having such a locker is coveted as being a symbol of belonging or having made a certain team.

Sports teams market their entertainment to various groups, including young people, such as preteen and teenagers, who may identify with such professional athletes and athletic teams. Indeed many young people emulate their sports heros and pursue similar athletic pursuits at age appropriate levels. Many sports also involve the use of protective equipment, some of which is bulky and not easily washed. In the case of hockey equipment, it is usually stored in a hockey bag, which is convenient for transporting and collecting all of the gear, but tends to cause the sweaty gear to be left in a closed airless bag between uses which can result in bacterial and mold growth, leading to foul smells and unsanitary conditions. This applies to other sports having wearable protective equipment such as football.

A problem with such protective equipment is that it is not easily washable. Often it is composed of combinations of special fabrics and plastic components which are not machine washable. Thus, in the event that the equipment becomes foul, the only recourse is to have it sent out for expensive custom cleaning. Being able to extend the time between such expensive cleaning is desirable. Thus, many types of drying stands and racks have been proposed in the past for the sports equipment to be hung on to permit it to air dry. However, often the children are not motivated to use the drying rack. In not using the drying racks the sports equipment becomes foul and is no longer tolerable in the bedrooms or even in the dwelling space, and may have to be consigned to garages and porches where the smell is excluded from the living space.

In addition to drying racks, specialised lockers have been proposed for the purpose of containing such sports clothing and equipment, as set out in the following examples.

One attempt at a dressing locker for home use is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,974,524 to Long, II. However, while this design is an improvement over prior sports lockers due to its open air design, it is still largely unsuitable for locations of a house lacking in sufficient air circulation. Since the shelves of this locker are of a solid construction, they block any air flow up or down through the locker. Wet clothing and/or sports equipment placed inside the locker will still remain moist for quite some time before the moisture evaporates and the contents dry. Thus bacterial and mold formation and the resulting foul odours are still a problem with designs of this type.

There have been prior attempts to create an air flow in lockers or to remove foul odours from lockers. For, example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,664,997 to Hess, there is disclosed an apparel equipment locker incorporating contamination and toxic materials extraction and evacuation system. However, lockers of this type require complicated ducting and venting paths to be built into the building and connected to the locker and are difficult and expensive to install. Moreover, the lockers are designed to be hermetically sealed so that inside air can be actively sucked out and passively replaced with outside air through separate pipes.

As another example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,889,449 to Silver, there is disclosed a sanitizing cabinet for sports equipment. This design incorporates a system of fans for circulating ozone containing gas inside a closed cabinet. These cabinets are also intended to be hermetically sealed to prevent ozone from seeping from inside the cabinet into the room. Moreover, sanitizing cabinets of this sort are intended to be used on a commercial basis for sanitizing sports equipment and are not suitable for home use, such as for children to store and dry their sports clothing and equipment in a bedroom.

It is also known in the art, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,892, that one may use self-contained dryers for accommodating sports equipment. The dryers have walls which cause heated air to circulate in the drying chambers to decrease the moisture content of the air and increase the drying energy efficiency. Blowers and fans associated with electric heaters operate to circulate heated air through the drying chambers. However, such drying cabinets are similarly not intended for children to store and dry their sports clothing and equipment in their bedroom.

A problem with such prior inventions is that they are generally too expensive to be widely implemented. Further they require some adult supervision and maintenance and so are not so suitable for young athletes. What is desired is a simple yet reliable system of eliminating the problem of moisture laden equipment becoming bacteria and mold laden and foul, and which is suitable for use by young athletes. A device that would encourage the use of the device by such young athletes is also desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a simple and yet effective device to prevent the moisture associated with recently worn outerwear, sports clothing and sports equipment from encouraging the growth of bacteria and mold which tend to generate foul odours. The device encourages rapid drying of sweat and other moisture and is attractively designed to encourage its use by young athletes.

In one aspect the present invention is directed to a storage and drying unit to be used by children and adults alike to store and dry their outerwear, sports clothing and sports equipment in their home. In one embodiment the unit emulates a professional sports team locker and includes, among other things, a name plate for the owner. The locker of the present invention may be decorated to simulate a locker used by the owner's favourite professional athlete or team.

In another aspect the present invention provides a simple kit of structural elements which are light weight and easy to make, use and assemble, but on the other hand include functional elements to promote the drying of wet outerwear, sports clothing and equipment. These elements include an open front and walls having ventilation openings. Shelving can be included in the locker which can also include air passageways for improved ventilation. Most preferably the device includes a drying fan, and the ventilation openings are positioned relative to the fan to promote the flow of air past objects stored in the locker to facilitate drying. An ionizer can also be included to deodorize the air, and is functionally positioned relative to the drying fan to have an optimum deodorizing effect, such as by being able to remove airborne particles, including, bacteria, mold and odour particles from the air circulated by the fan through the locker.

Therefore, according to the present invention, there is provided a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear sports clothing or equipment, said storage and drying unit comprising:

an enclosure having at least a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front;

a plurality of aeration holes disposed on at least one of said back wall, top wall, and two side walls; and

a drying fan in communication with said chamber to direct airflow past said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in said chamber to facilitate drying the same.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said storage and drying unit comprising:

an enclosure having a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front;

a plurality of aeration holes disposed on at least one of said back wall, top wall, and two side walls; and

at least one hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage and drying unit kit having components capable of being assembled into a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said kit comprising:

a plurality of frame elements, at least one back wall element, a top wall, and at least two side wall elements adapted to form an enclosure defining at least one chamber with an open front, wherein one or more of said back wall element, top wall, and two side wall elements have a plurality of aeration holes disposed thereon; and

a drying fan adapted to be in communication with said chamber for directing airflow past said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in said chamber to facilitate drying the same.

According to a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage and drying unit kit having components capable of being assembled into a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said kit comprising:

a plurality of frame elements, at least one back wall element, a top wall, and at least two side wall elements adapted to form an enclosure defining at least one chamber with an open front, wherein one or more of said back wall element, top wall, and two side wall elements have a plurality of aeration holes disposed thereon; and

a hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made, by way of example only, to drawings illustrating the preferred embodiments of the invention, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the assembled locker according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the assembled locker of FIG. 1 in use;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the inside of a drying fan unit of the locker of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the locker of FIG. 1 showing the assembled frame, a plurality of wall elements, and a name plate;

FIG. 5 a perspective view of the frame of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the frame of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a hangar having a L-shaped connector;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the hangar of FIG. 7 removably attached to an aeration hole on a side wall via the L-shaped member;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional side view showing the insertion of the hangar of FIG. 7 into the aeration hole;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional side view of the hangar of FIG. 7 removably attached to the side wall via the aeration hole;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a hangar with a peg connector;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the hangar of FIG. 11 removably attached to an aeration hole on a side wall via the peg connector;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional side view showing the insertion of the hangar of FIG. 11 into the aeration hole;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional side view of the hangar of FIG. 11 removably attached to the side wall via the aeration hole;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a hangar having two load bearing hook portions according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a portion of the locker of FIG. 1 showing garment rods attached to a topmost shelf member; and

FIG. 17 is an exploded view of FIG. 16 showing the attachment of the garment rods to the shelf member according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described in more detail with reference to exemplary embodiments thereof as shown in the appended drawings. While the present invention is described below including preferred embodiments, it should be understood that the present invention is not limited thereto. Those of ordinary skill in the art having access to the teachings herein will recognize additional implementations, modifications, and embodiments which are within the scope of the present invention as disclosed and claimed herein. In the figures, like elements are given like reference numbers.

The present invention is a storage and drying unit, or locker, for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing, sports equipment, and related accessories. The locker according to one embodiment of the present invention, intended for outerwear, sports clothing, sports equipment, and related sports accessories, is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and is generally referred to by reference number 20. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that while the present invention is particularly suited for sports equipment, it is also suited for other types of clothing that may become wet, such as safety clothing, construction clothing, fire fighter uniforms and the like.

As shown in FIG. 1, the locker 20 has an enclosure having a back wall 22, a top wall 24, a bottom wall 26 and two side walls 28. The back, top, bottom, and side walls 22, 24, 26, 28 define a chamber 30 with an open front. According to a preferred embodiment, the locker 20 is configured to have a height 32 that is greater than its width 34, and to simulate a locker of the type used by, for example, professional athletes. Furthermore, the height 32, width 34 and depth 36 of the locker 20 are preferably sized and shaped to ensure that the chamber 30 is large enough to hold objects 38 such as, outerwear, sports clothing and equipment (see FIG. 2). Conveniently, the locker 20, may be provided with shelf members 40 within the chamber 30 for supporting objects 38. However, it will be appreciated that the locker may be provided with more or fewer shelf members 40, or that the shelf members 40 may be omitted altogether, since the bottom wall 26 is also suitable for supporting objects 38.

Having described the general structure of the present invention, some of the aspects of the invention that make it particularly suitable for drying and deodorizing objects stored in the enclosure will now be described with reference to FIG. 1.

According to a preferred embodiment, the present invention provides that the locker 20 has walls 22, 24, 26, 28 and/or shelf members 40 which allow moisture evaporating from the objects 38 within the chamber 30 to leave the chamber 30. Ensuring that moisture is not trapped in the chamber 30 helps to reduce the relative humidity within the enclosure, where the objects are hung, to help speed the drying of the objects 38, thereby preventing the development of bacteria and mold which are known to generate foul odours.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, a breathable enclosure is accomplished by forming at least some of, the back wall 22 top wall 24, bottom wall 26, side walls 28 and shelf members 40, with a plurality of perforations, or aeration holes 42. Good results have been obtained with round perforations measuring about 1 cm in diameter disposed throughout the wall surfaces, however, other sizes and shapes of aeration holes 42 may also be suitable. What is important is that sufficient ventilation be provided through at least some of, and preferably most of, the walls 22, 24, 26, 28 and shelf members 40 to allow air to move freely through the chamber 30. The movement of air through the chamber 30 facilitates the drying of objects 38 within the chamber 30 by increasing the rate of evaporation of the moisture from the objects 38. As mentioned above, drying the objects 38 helps prevent odour producing bacterial and mold growth, thereby reducing or preventing the generation of foul odours. In this regard it can now be understood that the aeration holes facilitate the circulation of air through the walls and shelf members of the locker 20 to permit moisture to evaporate from the objects 38 in the chamber 30, and leave the chamber 30.

It will also be appreciated that by means of both the aeration holes 42, and the open front, light is able to get to the objects, it being understood that light also inhibits the growth of certain noxious types of mold.

According to a most preferred embodiment of the invention, an electric drying fan is also provided, and is sized, shaped and positioned within the locker 20 to help move air through the chamber 30 and in particular, to encourage airflow 44 past objects 38 placed in the chamber 30. Most preferably the drying fan should have a slim profile so as not to take up too much space in the chamber 30 while at the same time providing sufficient movement of air within the chamber 30 for the purpose of drying the objects 38 placed therein. Good results have been obtained with a drying fan built into the top wall 24 as a one piece unit having a height of 0.13 metres, a width of 0.92 metres, and a depth of 0.461 metres. The preferred drying fan unit 46 draws air from an air intake 48 at its top and redistributes it downwards through the chamber 30, by two, ten inch, high velocity fan blades 45 attached to two separate twenty-nine watt motors 47 that can be operated together or individually (see FIG. 3). While the preferred embodiment of the drying fan unit 46 is described as having two drying fans, it will be understood that more or fewer drying fans may be used. Fans and electric motors such as these are well known in the art and will therefore not be described in further detail. The drying fan unit 46 may be controlled with a simple on/off switch or it may be outfitted with a programmable timer 50 which may be set to turn off automatically after a set time has expired (i.e. 120 minutes). Preferably, the drying unit also includes a control switch 52 for controlling the speed of the fans, (i.e. Hi/Low).

Other locations within the chamber 30 may also be suitable for positioning the drying fan. For example, the drying fan may be positioned under and separate from the top wall 24. Furthermore, the drying fan may be incorporated into the bottom wall 26 as a unit, or positioned under and separate from the bottom wall 26 to encourage airflow past objects 38 placed in the chamber 30 in an upward direction. What is important is that if the drying fan is provided, it be sized, shaped and positioned within the locker 20 to be capable of moving air past objects 38 placed in the chamber 30 in order to facilitate their drying. It is also contemplated that electric heating elements (not shown) or the like may be associated with the drying fan (i.e. within the drying fan unit 46) to heat the air prior to being distributed through the chamber 30. However, good results have been obtained without the use of such heating elements, and with the fan positioned above, blowing down on the objects to be dried.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the drying fan, described above, may be associated with a means to deodorize the air, for example to a means to remove airborne particles, including bacteria, mold and odour particles, from the air surrounding the locker 20. A preferred means to remove the airborne particles from the air is with an ionizer 49 built into the drying fan unit 46. The ionizer 49 is an electrical device which produces negative ions, and is used to improve the air quality in a room by removing dust, odours, allergens, such as pollen, mold spores, and other common pollutants, from the air. It is believed that the negative ions generated by the ionizer 49 attach themselves to the airborne particles, causing them to be attracted to, and stick to, one another, forming clumps of particles. Individually, these airborne particles are light enough to remain suspended in the air where they can be breathed in. However, the clumps of particles are heavy enough that gravity pulls them down to the floor, where they can be vacuumed up and disposed of.

The preferred ionizer 49 is one which has a low power consumption, such as 6 watts or less, has a static electricity output of 15 KV, and an ion output of 2-3×106/cm3, which results in a purified airflow output of greater than 25 feet/minute, preferably removes particles as small as 0.01 microns, and has a coverage of about 400 square feet (i.e. a 20′×20′ room).

Other forms of disinfectant, such as a UV ozonator, a chemical disinfectant, filter, or the like can also be used. It will be now understood that the preferred form of the present invention includes positioning the ionizer 49 relative to the fan to maximize the deodorizing effect. This is accomplished by placing the ionizer 49 in the air stream developed by the fan, so the circulated air becomes more highly concentrated with the ions. This improves the deodorizing effect, by ensuring the ions are continually directed at the drying objects. In the most preferred form of the invention the ionizer 49 will continually produce negative ions, even if the fan has stopped, for example, due to the timer. This will permit a higher concentration of ions to accumulate in the enclosure of the present invention, and will help to ensure the beneficial effects of ionization continues. As the ionizer 49 is located above the objects to be dried, and as the ions tend to fall, the objects are continually exposed to a supply of fresh ions.

Having described some of the air flow deodorizing and health aspects of the invention, the construction of the locker 20 which forms the enclosure for the objects will now be described according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 4, there is shown an exploded view of an embodiment of the locker 20. In particular, there is shown a frame 54, a name plate 56, and eight equally sized and shaped wall elements 58. The name plate 56 is sized and shaped for attachment to the top of the frame 54 and may be decorated with the name of a professional athlete, the name of a professional team, various graphics, the name of the locker's owner, or a combination thereof. Each of the wall elements 58 are sized and shaped for attachment to the frame 54 and include a plurality of aeration holes 42. When attached to the frame 54, the wall elements 58 form the side walls 28 and back wall 22 of the locker 20. The back and side wall elements are preferably made of a uniform size, so all sections can be packed into a box of reasonable dimensions for shipping. The wall elements 58 and name plate 56 may be attached to the frame 54 by any means known in the art, such as by adhesives, separate fasteners, friction fit coupling, or the like. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the wall elements 58 and name plate 56 may be made of various materials, including plastic, metal, wood, plywood, laminates, and fibre board.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown the assembled frame 54 without the wall elements 58 or name plate 56. The frame 54 is made up of a plurality of vertical frame elements 60 which connect to the top wall 24, bottom wall 26, and shelf members 40 by friction fit joints as described in more detail below. The top wall 24 includes the drying fan as a unit 46 as described above. The bottom wall 26 has legs 62 attached thereto, by friction fit joints, for supporting the assembled locker 20. It is also contemplated that the bottom wall may be integrally formed with the legs 62. Furthermore, the legs 62 may be substituted with wheels (not shown), so that the assembled locker 20 may be easily moved along a floor to aid location and relocation of the locker 20. Attaching the back and side walls 22, 28 to the frame 54 forms an enclosure, wherein the back, top, bottom, and side walls 22, 24, 26, 28 define a chamber 30 with an open front, as best seen in FIG. 1. While shown with a bottom wall, it is appreciated that a bottom wall is not required but is preferred for structural and aesthetic reasons. Also, other walls can be left off to improve air flow, but the most preferred form is as shown, i.e. an open faced enclosure.

Preferably the frame is constructed as shown in FIG. 6. As can be seen the bottom wall 26 and two shelf members 40 are identical, and have a plurality of aeration holes 42 therethrough, while the top wall 24 differs in that it includes the drying fan as a unit 46. However, each of the bottom wall 26, drying fan unit 46 and shelf members 40 have apertures at each corner. The apertures 64 are sized and shaped to frictionally engage corresponding male connectors 66 from both sides. The bottom wall 26 and shelf members 40 are spaced apart vertically by a plurality of vertical frame elements 60. All of the vertical frame elements 60 are identical, and include a male connector 66 at one end and a female connector 68 at the opposite end. The male connector 66 on each vertical frame element is sized and shaped to frictionally engage a corresponding aperture 64 on one side of the bottom wall 26, shelf member 20 and drying fan unit 46. Furthermore, the male connector 66 on each vertical frame element 60 is sized and shaped to frictionally engage the female connector 68 of another vertical frame element 60. The end of the vertical frame element 60 having the female connector 68 may be connected to a corresponding aperture 64 via a connector fitting 70 having male connectors 66 on both ends: one for frictionally engaging the female end of the vertical frame element 60, and one for frictionally engaging the aperture 64. This design permits two shelf members 40, a shelf member 40 and a bottom wall 26, or a shelf member 40 and a drying fan unit 46 to be spaced apart by at least two different lengths by using identical vertical frame elements 60, which saves on manufacturing costs. Although the preferred embodiment has two shelf members 40, it will be appreciated that more or fewer shelf members 40 may be accommodated within the chamber 30 in a similar fashion as described above.

As mentioned above, the bottom wall 26 may be configured to include the drying fan as a unit, instead of the top wall 24. Furthermore, it is also contemplated that the drying fan may be separate from the top wall 24 or bottom wall 26, in which case, the top wall 24, bottom wall 26, and shelf members 40 may be made to be identical. It will be understood that according to this embodiment, the drying fan will need to be adapted to attach either to the topside or underside of the top wall 24. Furthermore, the drying fan may be adapted to attach either to the topside or underside of a shelf member 40, or bottom wall 26. Moreover, there is nothing preventing the use of more than one drying fan except for manufacturing cost considerations.

Although the above description of the preferred frame 54 construction utilizes a friction fit coupling system, it will be appreciated that in other embodiments the drying fan unit 46 (or top wall 24), bottom wall 26, and/or shelf members 40 may be connected to the vertical frame elements 60 by the use of fasteners, adhesives or the like, as is well known in the art.

Furthermore, it is also contemplated that the locker 20 may be constructed with a frame made of vertical frame elements connected to horizontal frame elements. According to this embodiment the horizontal frame elements function to horizontally space apart the vertical frame elements. The vertical and horizontal frame elements may be formed of angled metal as is known in the art. The back wall 22, top wall 24, bottom wall 26, and side walls 28 may then be attached to the frame to form the chamber 30, and one or more shelf members may be attached to the frame, back wall 22 or side walls 28 within the chamber 30.

Furthermore, while it is preferable that the locker 20 be constructed as above with a frame 54, it is also contemplated that the locker 20 may be constructed without a frame, in which case, the wall elements 58 and shelf members 40 may be assembled in a known manner to form the chamber 30. What is important is to form a chamber 30 for holding objects 38, and positioning a drying fan in the locker 20 so as to move the air past the objects 38 in the chamber 30.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the locker 20 may be fitted with one or more hangars 72 for hanging objects 38 such as outerwear, sports clothing and equipment in the locker 20. These hangars 72 may come in various shapes and sizes and can be user positioned within the chamber 30 of the locker 20. As shown in FIG. 7, the hangars 72 have a load bearing or hook portion 74, and an anchor portion 76 adapted to engage the aeration holes 42 formed in the walls of the locker 20, so that the position of the hangars 72 can be individualized to suit personal tastes. The hangars 72 may also be user positioned outside of the locker chamber 30 via aeration holes on the back 22 and/or side walls 28. Although, the hangars 72 may be removably attached to the walls 22, 24, 26, 28 and/or shelf members 40 of the locker 20 by several means known in the art, good results have been achieved by attaching the hangars 72 to the aeration holes 42 either by a friction fit connection via an L-shaped member 78 as shown in FIGS. 7 to 10, or by a peg 80 as shown in FIGS. 11 to 14. FIG. 8 shows a hangar 72 connected to an aeration hole 42 via the L-shaped member 78, and FIGS. 9 and 10 show the connection in sequence in blown up drawings. FIG. 12 shows a hangar 72 connected to an aeration hole 42 via a peg 80, and FIGS. 13 and 14 show the connection in sequence in blown up drawings. Either hangar 72 may be made from plastic or shaped metal as is known in the art. FIG. 15 shows a hangar 72 having two hook portions 74 according to another embodiment of the present invention.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the locker 20 may be fitted with one or more garment rods 82 for supporting conventional garment hangars 84 (see FIG. 2), or the like, as shown in FIG. 16. The garment rods 82 may be of any material, so long as they are sufficiently rigid to support a load suspended therefrom, while supported at their ends. Preferred materials include, plastic, metal, and wood. As best seen in FIG. 17, three such garment rods 84 are suspended from the underside of the topmost shelf member 40 via clip members 86 at the ends of each garment rod 82. The clip members 86 have two ends. One end has a loop 88 sized and shaped to permit the garment rod 82 to pass therethrough. The other end of the clip member 86 is configured to frictionally engage a corresponding slot 92 on the shelf member. For example, the other end of the clip member 86 may be formed with an arrow head shape 90, which when forced into a slot 92 in the shelf member 40 causes the slot 92 to deform into an open position allowing the arrow head 90 to pass through. However, because the slot 92 is biased to its natural closed position, once the arrow head 90 passes therethrough, the slot 92 closes and locks the clip member 86 to the shelf member 40. Other means for suspending garment rods 82 from the topmost shelf member 40 will be apparent to a person skilled in the art, all of which are contemplated by the present invention.

It is contemplated that the locker 20 described above may be provided either in a fully constructed form, or in the form of an easy to assemble kit, whereby the components of the locker 20 are assembled by the user.

Finally, as will be understood by those skilled in the art, locker 20 may be decorated to simulate the look of a professional sports team/league, by for example displaying the name of the team/league (i.e. NFL® or NHL®, etc.), graphics, logos and the player's name on the name plate 56 as well as the surfaces of the walls 22, 24, 26, 28 and shelf members 40 of the locker 20.

The invention is also directed to the following embodiments as described in the statements below:

1. A storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said storage and drying unit comprising:

an enclosure having a back wall, a top wall, and two side walls defining at least one chamber with an open front;

a plurality of aeration holes disposed on at least one of said back wall, top wall, and two side walls; and

at least one hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.

2. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, wherein said enclosure further has a bottom wall.

3. A storage and drying unit according to statement 2, wherein said bottom wall has a plurality of aeration holes.

4. A storage and drying unit according to statement 3, further comprising at least one roller mounted to said bottom wall for ease of location and relocation of said unit along a floor.

5. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, wherein said enclosure is formed from a single wall element.

6. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, wherein said enclosure is formed from a plurality of wall elements.

7. A storage and drying unit according to statement 6, wherein each one of said plurality of elements is identical in size and shape.

8. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising at least one roller mounted to a bottom portion of said unit for ease of location and relocation of said unit along a floor.

9. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising at least one shelf member disposed within said chamber, said shelf member having a plurality of aeration holes.

10. A storage and drying unit according to statement 9, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by said at least one shelf member, wherein said vertical frame elements and said at least one shelf member form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall, top wall, and two side walls of said enclosure.

11. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising a name plate attached to a top, front portion of said storage and drying unit.

12. A storage and drying unit according to statement 11, wherein said name plate is attached to said top wall.

13. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by said top wall, wherein said vertical frame elements and said top wall form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall and two side walls of said enclosure.

14. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising a means to deodorize air emanating from said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment.

15. A storage and drying unit according to statement 14, wherein said means to deodorize air comprises a means to remove airborne particles.

16. A storage and drying unit according to statement 15, wherein said airborne particles comprise bacteria, mold spores, dust particles, pollen, or odour particles.

17. A storage and drying unit according to statement 16, wherein said means to remove said airborne particles is an ionizer.

18. A storage and drying unit according to statement 17, further comprising a drying fan in communication with said chamber to direct airflow past said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in said chamber to facilitate drying the same, wherein said ionizer is positioned in the airflow directed by said drying fan.

19. A storage and drying unit according to statement 18, wherein said drying fan is controlled by a programmable timer.

20. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, wherein said enclosure is made of one or more of plastic, metal, wood, and fibre board.

21. A storage and drying unit according to statement 1, further comprising a plurality of vertical frame elements which are held in position by a plurality of horizontal frame elements, wherein said vertical frame elements and said horizontal frame elements form a frame, said frame supporting said back wall, top wall, and two side walls of said enclosure.

22. A storage and drying unit according to statement 21, wherein said vertical frame elements, and said horizontal frame elements are made of angled metal.

23. A storage and drying unit kit having components capable of being assembled into a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said kit comprising:

a plurality of frame elements, at least one back wall element, a top wall, and at least two side wall elements adapted to form an enclosure defining at least one chamber with an open front, wherein one or more of said back wall element, top wall, and two side wall elements have a plurality of aeration holes disposed thereon; and

a drying fan adapted to be in communication with said chamber for directing airflow past said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment in said chamber to facilitate drying the same.

24. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 23, further comprising a bottom wall.

25. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 24, wherein said bottom wall has a plurality of aeration holes.

26. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 23, further comprising at least one shelf member adapted to be disposed within said chamber, said shelf member having a plurality of aeration holes.

27. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 23, further comprising an ionizer adapted for positioning in the airflow directed by the drying fan.

28. A storage and drying unit kit having components capable of being assembled into a storage and drying unit for storing and drying outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said kit comprising:

a plurality of frame elements, at least one back wall element, a top wall, and at least two side wall elements adapted to form an enclosure defining at least one chamber with an open front, wherein one or more of said back wall element, top wall, and two side wall elements have a plurality of aeration holes disposed thereon; and

a hangar for hanging said outerwear, sports clothing or equipment, said hangar being sized and shaped to be removably inserted into any one of said aeration holes.

29. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 28, further comprising a bottom wall.

30. The storage and drying unit kit according to statement 29, wherein said bottom wall has a plurality of aeration holes.

31. A storage and drying unit kit according to statement 28, further comprising at least one shelf member adapted to be disposed within said chamber, said shelf member having a plurality of aeration holes.

The contents of CA 2584573 from which this application claims priority is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

While reference has been made to various preferred embodiments of the invention other variations are comprehended by the broad scope of the appended claims. Some of these have been discussed in detail in this specification and others will be apparent to those skilled in the art. All such variations and alterations are comprehended by this specification are intended to be covered, without limitation.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8250885 *Apr 29, 2009Aug 28, 2012Lg Electronics Inc.Laundry machine
US8307567Apr 29, 2009Nov 13, 2012Lg Electronics Inc.Laundry machine
US8691158Jan 29, 2010Apr 8, 2014Sharp Kabushiki KaishaIon generation apparatus
US8771599Mar 17, 2009Jul 8, 2014Sharp Kabushiki KaishaIon detecting apparatus and ion generating apparatus
US20100083710 *Apr 29, 2009Apr 8, 2010Lg Electronics Inc.Laundry machine
US20110074256 *Sep 24, 2010Mar 31, 2011Manasek Acquisition Company, LlcDrying Locker Array For Firefighter Turnout Gear
EP2413443A1 *Jan 29, 2010Feb 1, 2012Sharp Kabushiki KaishaIon-generation device
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/249.8
International ClassificationA47B96/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B81/00, A47B87/0223, A61L9/22, F26B25/066, D06F58/10
European ClassificationA47B81/00, A47B87/02B2, A61L9/22, D06F58/10, F26B25/06C