US 3434628 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
8- A. GERALD] AUTOMATIC SOAP DISPENSER Ma ch 25, 1969 Filed Jan. 23, 1967 I INVENTOR BERNARD A. CERALO/ ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,434,628 AUTOMATIC SOAP DISPENSER Bernard A. 'Ceraldi, 3886 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, Ohio 44111 Filed Jan. 23, 1967, Ser. No. 610,862 Int. Cl. B67d /08; H01h 47/12 US. Cl. 2Z2-52 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates generally to dispensers and more particularly, as indicated, to an automatic soap dispenser particularly designed for use in environments where sterile procedures are required.
In medical establishments such as hospitals, doctors oflices and the like, it is highly desirable in order to avoid contamination to provide dispensing equipment operable without requiring physical contact by the person using the same. Dispensing equipment has been known and used for quite some time fulfilling this objective but being disadvantageous in certain other respects. A common such dispenser operates on the interrupted beam principle in which a photoelectric device produces a beam, which, when interrupted, closes a circuit to actuate the dispensing mechanism to dispense soap into the hand of theuser. Dispensers operating on this principle have the disadvantages of requiring rather precise positioning of the hand to actuate the same, requiring maintenance in the event of tube burnout, and arefurther characterized by an inherent inability to prevent dispensing of the soap in the event of a power failure. Soap dispensers operating on the reflected beam principle are also known, with these also requiring the noted maintenance and, in addition, are relatively insensitive in operation.
With the above in mind, a primary object of the present invention is to provide a dispenser which is automatically actuated in response to the placing of a grounded object, for example a persons hand, within a relatively large area proximate the dispensing opening but without requiring contact therewith. A further object of the present invention is to provide a dispenser which can be actuated without precise positioning of the persons hand being required. Specifically, in accordance with the invention, an electrode plate is carried by the dispenser housing adjacent the dispensing outlet, with the electrode plate, in the presence of a grounded object placed proximate thereto, changing the current flow in the circuit to initiate the dispensing of the material.
A still further object of the invention is to provide a dispenser which is essentialy free of maintenance and in which dispensing of the material is prevented in the event of a power failure.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an automatically actuated dispenser which is simply constructed and inexpensive to manufacture.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds.
To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, the invention, then, comprises the features hereinafter fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description and the annexed drawing ice setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principle of the invention may be employed.
In said annexed drawing:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of the dispenser of the present invention, with the hand of the user being shown in dashed lines in position to actuate the proximity switch for effecting the dispensing operation;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary sectional view of the dispen ser taken on line 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged, sectional view taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 2, and
FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of the preferred circuit of the invention.
Referring now in more retail to the drawings, wherein like parts are indicated by like reference numerals, the dispenser constructed in accordance with the present invention is generally indicated at 10 and comprises a housing 12 having a cover 14 hinged thereto by hinge pins 16 or the like permitting lifting of the cover 14 for refilling the dispenser. The housing 12 is mounted in any desirable location on a supporting surface, for example a wall or the like 18, shown fragmentarily in FIG. 1.
The dispenser housing 12 includes downwardly converging side Walls 20 and 22 and in integral bottom wall 24, with the latter being formed with an outlet 26. The dispenser further includes bottom side wall sections 28 and 30 which define with the bottom 24 a compartment 32 for housing the dispensing mechanism and the electrical components for actuating the same. A bottom cover plate 34 is provided for closing the compartment 32, with the cover being releasably secured to the housing by a plurality of retaining screws commonly designated at 36 which are received by threaded openings formed in the respective side walls.
The housing 12 is preferably constructed of a plastic material to avoid contamination of the dispenser contents, which comprises in the form shown liquid soap S. It will become apparent as the description proceeds that other materials, for example soft drinks, solid materials, etc., could be dispensed as well in accordance with the invention concepts.
Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, a preferably plastic dispensing member is generally indicated at 40 and is formed with an axial opening 42 adapted to be aligned with and slightly larger than the outlet 2-6 formed in the bottom wall 24 of the dispenser housing. The member 40 is formed with a plurality of threaded openings commonly designated at 44 for receiving retaining screws 46 which extend through openings 48 in the bottom wall 24 for mounting the member thereto.
The dispensing member 40 further includes a diametrically reduced, slightly tapered bottom section 50 which extends through opening 52 formed in the cover plate 34 with the section 50 being formed with an axial discharge passage 54. The upper end of such axial passage 54 communicates with a transverse passage 56 the open end of which is defined by a flat seat 59 adapted to be engaged by the leading end 58 of plunger 60 of a solenoid 62 shown fragmentarily in FIG. 3. The solenoid 62 is formed with an externally threaded neck 64 adapted to threadedly receive a cap 66 formed with a diametrically reduced threaded portion 68 for securing the cap in threaded opening 70 formed in the member 40. In this manner the solenoid 62 is supported by the member 40 which is in turn supported by the dispenser housing.
The solenoid plunger 60 is formed with a reduced diameter neck portion 72 just rearwardly of the forward end 58 thereof, with the neck 72 telescopically receiving the adjacent end convolution of compression spring 74 the opposite end of which is seated on the front face of the threaded neck 64 of the solenoid 62. It will thus be seen that the plunger '60 is urged to the right, as viewed in FIG. 3, thereby seating the forward end 58 thereof on the annular valve seat 59 surrounding the open end of the passage 56 and preventing fluid flow from the upper axial passage 42 to the discharge passage 54. When the solenoid 62 is actuated in a manner to be presently described, the solenoid plunger 60 will be withdrawn thereby unseating the leading end 58 thereof and permitting fluid flow from the passage 42 to the discharge passage 54. To prevent leakage of such fluid along the face of the solenoid plunger, an O-ring 76 is preferably carried in an annular groove or recess formed in the threaded neck portion 64 of the solenoid 62.
An electrode plate generally indicated at 80 is mounted by the described retaining screws 36 on the lower side walls 28 and 30 of the dispenser housing, with the electrode plate 80 being centrally apertured as indicated at 82 for receiving the lower discharge end 50 of the dispensing member 40. In the form shown, the electrode plate 80 comprises downwardly extending side flanges 84 and 86 and a connecting web portion 88 which is flat and lies contiguous to the removable cover 34. As
will be presently described, the electrode plate 80 is operative in response to the presence of a persons hand when the same is inserted adjacent the same to initiate the dispensing operation. As will be apparent, the exact shape of the electrode plate 80 could vary considerably without impairing the intended operative function thereof.
A conventional on-off switch 104 is mounted on the dispenser wall 28 for turning ofi? the apparatus if desired during non-working hours, and a power cord 103 is provided for plug-in to a source of current, for example a Wall outlet.
Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown therein a schematic diagram of the preferred circuit of the present invention. Input power is supplied at terminals 100, 102 which is typical line voltage of 120 volts and 60 cycles. The on-off switch 104 controls the application of power to the circuit which for portions thereof is converted to DC voltage by rectifier 105 and capacitor 107. One side of the switch is grounded, with the switch also being connected to solenoid 62, schematically shown in this figure, through contact 106. The solenoid 62 is operable in response to energization of relay 108, which applies AC power to the solenoid, with the other side of the solenoid being connected to terminal 102.
The electrode plate 80 and variable capacitor 114 form a voltage divider across the AC line causing a voltage to occur at point 116 dependent upon the setting of capacitor 114, the area of the side flanges 84 and 86 of the plate 80, stray capacities and the nearness of any grounded object. A neon lamp 118 is connected between point 116 and line terminal 102 in series with a resistance 120. When no hand is near the electrode plate 80, capacitor 114 may be adjusted so that the voltage appearing between point 116 and terminal 102 is insufficient to ignite the neon lamp 118. When a grounded object, for example a persons hand, is placed near the electrode plate 80, point 116 will drop in voltage toward the ground potential causing a greater voltage to be placed across the neon bulb 118 and causing the ignition thereof.
Transistors 122 and 124 comprise a voltage amplifier and relay driver circuit which sense the ignition of neon lamp 118 and cause the energization of relay 108. Transistor 122 is a typical AC amplifier stage having an emitter resistor 126 and a collector resistor 120. Resistors 130 and 132 serve to bias the transistor 122 so that when neon lamp 118 is not conducting, there will be insuflicient base swing of point 134 to cause a variation in voltage at the collector of transistor 122. When neon lamp 118 is initiated, however, a voltage will be coupled through capacitor 136 to cause an increase in the base swing at point 134 and a consequent amplification of the signal in transistor 122. This signal will be coupled through capacitor 138 to relay drive transistor 124 which has collector resistor 140, base biasing resistor 142 and relay 108 connected in the emitter circuit of the stage.
The increased signal supplied through capacitor 138 will be suificient to drive transistor 124 to cause energization of relay 108. Capacitor 144 is provided to smooth out the voltage applied to the relay 108 so that the relay will remain energized as long as the hand is in proximity to the plate 80. Relay 108 then closes its contact 106 to connect the solenoid 62 directly across the AC line causing the solenoid plunger 60 to be withdrawn to allow soap to flow through the discharge passage 54. It is readily seen that when the hand is withdrawn from proximity to the electrode plate 80, the voltage at point 116 will return to its initial level, neon lamp 118 will extinguish, thereby causing a dropout of relay 108, the opening of contact 106 and the de-energization of solenoid 62 to allow the solenoid plunger 60' to be biased to its seated position by spring 74 thereby to terminate the soap dispensing operation.
Although the described circuit provides merely an onoff dispensing action, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the circuit may be modified to allow the energization of solenoid 62 for a specified time interval to dispense a predetermined, metered quantity of soap even though the hand may remain in proximity to the electrode plate 80.
It will thus be seen that the dispenser of the present invention provides significant advantages over present dispensing equipment of this general type. The dispenser can be actuated by placing the persons hand proximate to but not touching the electrode plate in the. region below the discharge passage 54, with the region within which the dispenser can be actuated being relatively large owing to the electrode plate thereby making the unit more convenient to use. The hand of the user can thus be inserted several inches below the dispenser opening proximate one of the side flanges 84 or 86 to commence the dispensing of the soap, with the hand thereafter simply lowered away from such flange to terminate the dispensing. In this manner direct contact with the dispenser parts is unecessary and potential contamination eliminated. The dispenser is, moreover, simply constructed, essentially maintenance free, and not susceptible to uncontrolled dispensing in the event of a power failure.
Other modes of applying the principle of the invention may be employed, change being made as regards the details described, provided the features stated in any of the following claims or the equivalent of such be employed.
I therefore particularly point out and distinctly claim as my invention:
1. A dispenser of the type described comprising a housing defining a compartment for receiving and storing the material to be dispensed, dispensing means communicating with said compartment and formed with a dispensing outlet for controlled dispensing of said material from said outlet, movable valve means for normally closing said dispensing outlet, means responsive to an electrical signal for opening said valve means, circuit means for energizing said means for moving said valve means, the improvement comprising electrode means in the form of an electrode plate mounted on said housing and having downwardly depending side flanges disposed on either side of said dispensing outlet and extending substantially therebelow, the positioning of a grounded object within a predetermined distance of either one or both of said flanges without regard to vertical orientation resulting in the flow of current through said circuit to energize said means for moving said valve means thereby to initiate the dispensing operation, the withdrawal of said grounded object from the proximity of said flanges terminating the dispensing operation.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said means responsive to an electrical signal for moving said 'valve means comprises a solenoid and wherein said mova'ble valve means comprises a solenoid plunger, said dispensing means comprising a dispensing member mounted on said housing, said dispensing member being formed With an axial passage communicating with said compartment, a valve seat in the material flow path between .said axial passage and said dispensing outlet, said valve seat :being adapted to receive the leading end of said solenoid plunger, and means for biasing said solenoid plunger into seated position in the absence of a grounded object being positioned in proximity to said electrode plate.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,033,248 5/ 1962 Ritchie 222-76 X 3,327,901 6/1967 Yerkovich 222-52 5 1,082,249 12/ 1913 Watrous 222P-453 X 2,387,359 10/ 1945 Scarry 222--76 X 2,842,400 7/ 1958 Booth et a1 222-76 X 3,314,081 4/ 1967 Atkins et al 4-249 X U.S. Cl. X.R.