US 3805562 A
A system for dispensing a treating agent into the wash tub of an automatic fabric washing machine at a predetermined time during the washing cycle. The dispenser is mounted on the lid of the washing machine and is rotated to an operative position when the lid is closed. The dispenser is provided with a chamber and a cover operable to provide access to the chamber to permit the housewife to insert a treating agent into the chamber when the lid is in its open position. With the lid closed and the dispenser in its operative position, the cover becomes the bottom wall of the dispenser. There is also provided liquid supply means having a liquid outlet arranged for normally applying liquid to the wash tub and a second outlet positioned to communicate with a liquid inlet opening in the dispenser when the dispenser is located in its operative position.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Waugh et al.
[451 Apr. 23, 1974 TREATING AGENT DISPENSER Primary E xaminerWilliam l. Price  Inventors: Richard Waugh; Thomas Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Frederick P. Weidner;
Mitchell, both of Louisville, Ky. Francis H. B005  Assignee: General Electric Company,
Louisville, Ky.  ABSTRACT  Filed, Jan 8 1973 A system for dispensing a treating agent into the wash tub of an automatic fabric washing machine at a prei i PP 321,742 determined time during the washing cycle. The dispenser is mounted on the lid of the washing machine 52 .8. Cl. 68 17 R, 134 93 and is rotated to an operative position when the lid is i5 1i iiit. Cl. D06f 3902 closed- The dispenser is Provided with a chamber and  Field of H 68/17 R NA a cover operable to provide access to the chamber to permit the housewife to insert a treating agent into the chamber when the lid is in its open position. With the  References Cited lid closed and the dispenser in its operative position, the cover becomes the bottom wall of the dispenser. UNlTED STATES PATENTS There is also provided liquid supply means having a 2.712.746 7/l955 Bochan 68/17 R liquid outlet arranged for normally applying liquid to 3,l27,067 3/1964 gall et al. 221:; K the wash tub and a second outlet positioned to com 3,248.9l2 5/l966 ochan municate with a liquid inlet p g in the dispenser when the dispenser is located in its operative position.
5 "new 993'" Fi li 36 l6, \A- 43 M l fi 2% i 51 44 /V y 54- f I z 8 I: 4'1 i ILLLA- 46 2 27 S i PATENTED APR 2 3 I974 SHEET 1 BF 2 F'lCmZ 1 GARMENT FINISHING APPARATUS This invention relates to apparatus for dewrinkling clothes by subjecting them to a steaming and hot air drying operation and more particularly to garment dewrinkling apparatus and steam generator therefor which generates steam instantaneously and in a predetermined amount irrespective of random fluctuations in pressure of the water supplied to the apparatus from which the steam is generated.
In recent years, particularly as a consequence of the rising popularity of garments made of synthetic fibers,
it has been the practice to dewrinkle, and in effect, press synthetic fiber garments by subjecting them to high temperature moisture, preferably steam, followed by drying in which the garments are subjected to a continuous stream of hot air. Garment dewrinkling apparatus of the type described typically includes a cabinet in which the garments are placed, suspended from hangers, during the moisturizing and drying cycles, a source of steam for subjecting the garments to a moisturizing environment, and a source of warm air for drying the garments after they have been steamed.
The dewrinkling cabinets which first appeared in use were designed for installation in commercial drycleaning establishments where the daily volume of garments is large. These machines were relatively elaborate and complex. Typically, such machines used a separate pressurized steam boiler and condensate return system which would generate steam on a more or less continuous basis throughout the day. An operator, desiring to subject garments in the cabinet to a specified amount of steam equivalent to, for example, 8 ounces of water, would merely leave the garments in the cabinet for a specified length of time. Since steam was being generated continuously and at some controlled, but substantial pressure and at a relatively constant rate, a garment, with relatively good accuracy, could be subjected to a given quantity of steam, which has been found to be desirable, by leaving it in the steam cabinet for a specified length of time.
With the increase in popularity of synthetic fiber garments which are efficiently dewrinkled by steam treatment, and with the trend toward coin-operated, selfservice laundry and drycleaning establishments, there has arisen a need for a selfcontained garment dewrinkling cabinet of the steam type which is suitable for installation in coin-operated, self-service dry-cleaning establishments and which can be operated with uniform and satisfactory results by unskilled customers rather than trained operator-employees of commercial drycleaning establishments of the non-self-service type. Unfortunately, and due to the differing circumstances existing in coin-operated, self-service drycleaning establishments vis-a-vis commercial drycleaning establishments, the steam cabinet heretofore satisfactory for large-scale commercial drycleaning establishments utilizing trained personnel to operate the equipment on a continuous basis has not proven satisfactory for the self-service, coin-operated dry-cleaning establishment having considerably smaller volume, intermittent operation, and customers untrained in the operation of the equipment.
First the separate steam boiler present in large-scale commercial steaming units requires substantial floor space. This problem is particularly acute in coinoperated, self-service installations where floor space is expensive. Second, large-scale commercial steaming units with their separate pressurized boilers and return system often conflict with local building code restrictions relating to pressure vessels and water discharge, with the result that installation is complicated, and in some cases prevented. Third, with commercial boiler installations the expense of boiler water treatment is substantial. Fourth, the pressurization of the boiler unit in a large-scale commercial unit poses a hazard from explosion. Fifth, the substantial cost of the large-scale commercial steam cabinet, a significant cost factor of which is the cost of the steam generator, while tolerable in a large volume operation, is intolerable in a smallscale, coin-operated, self-service establishment where the unit may be used only l5 minutes each hour. While attempts have been made to reduce the cost of commercial installation dewrinkling apparatus by substituting, for the large-scale steam generating boiler, a simplified steam generator of the immersion heater type wherein a specified amount of water, for example, 8 ounces, is dumped into a pan containing a heat coil, the results have been generally unsatisfactory. The delay with an immersion heater between the time the water is inserted in the pan until steam begins to be generated is still significant, on the order of 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Additionally, there is no guarantee that all the water dumped into the pan will be converted into steam inasmuch as some of the water in the bottom of the pan may not come into contact with the immersion heater and, hence, may not become heated sufficiently to be converted into steam.
It has, therefore, been an objective of this invention to provide a steam cabinet operable by customers having no special machine-operating skills, which in smallscale, coin-operated, self-service drycleaning and laundering establishments or other likely locations, e.g., motel and hotel lobbies, vending areas, etc. having no special machine-operating skills. This objective has been accomplished in accordance with certain principles of this invention by providing a steam-cabinet having a highly novel and unobvious steam generating unit utilizing the combination of a heat sink having a waterreceiving cavity which is maintained at a temperature substantially above the boiling point of water to convert water input to it into very low pressure steam on an instantaneous basis, and a means for supplying to the heat sink cavity a predetermined quantity of water for steam generation which, in a preferred from, includes a timer-controlled valve connectable to an unregulated pressure city water main which provides a water flow output which is constant irrespective of fluctuations in the pressure of the water main. In operation, in this invention, the water valve under the control of the timer is opened for a specified time, for example, 10 seconds, during which a predetermined quantity of water, such as 8 ounces, is dumped into the heat sink cavity, and as a consequence of the elevated temperature of the heat sink and the fact that all the water is in contact with it, the water is converted into steam without any delay and continues until the entire amount of the water has been converted to steam. thereby producing a predetermined quantity of steam on an instantaneous basis.
The steam generator of this invention, particularly by virtue of the timer-controlled, pressure-insensitive valve, is particularly advantageous for use in commercial coin-operated, self-service drycleaning and laundry establishments. in such establishments, which typically have from 20 to 50 water consuming washing machines, the pressure in the city water main at the installation varies considerably and in an unpredictable manner due to the unscheduled operation of the clothes washers, which is random both with respect to time of operation and number of machines operating at any given time. With this invention the timer-controlled valve is insensitive to pressure variations in the local supply main, and a constant charge of water, dependent only on the time duration of valve operation, is obtained. Thus, uniformity in quantity of steam generation per garment treating cycle is obtained.
These and other advantages and objectives of the invention will be more readily apparent from a detailed description of the drawings in which:
FIG. I is a perspective view, partially cut-away, of the steam cabinet of this invention; and
FIG. 2 is a vertical cross-sectional view through the lower portion of the steam cabinet showing the relationship of the air circulating passages, steam generator, and air heater.
The preferred embodiment of the garment conditioner depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 includes as its principal components a cabinet 10 in which the garments to be conditioned or dewrinkled are placed, a steam generator 16 for introducing into the cabinet interior to dewrinkle the garments a predetermined quantity of steam each operating cycle, an air circulating system 12 for recirculating air within the cabinet, and an air heating unit 14 which heats the circulating air to facilitate drying the garments which have been steamed.
The cabinet 10 is generally box-like and includes opposite side walls l-l and -2, a top 10-3, a bottom 10-4, a back 10-5 and a front l0-6 having an opening l0-7 provided with a hinged door 10-8 for selective placement and removal of garments in the cabinet interior 10-9. A stationary support bracket 18 spanning the back and front walls 10-5 and 10-6 has hangers 20 suspended from it for supporting garments in vertical disposition within the cabinet interior l0-9. A false ceiling is provided having planar sections 21 and 22 which slope downwardly and outwardly from a common junction line 23 extending from front to back along the interior of the cabinet top 10-3. The downwardly and laterally extending slope of false ceiling sections 21 and 22 reduces the likelihood that steam condensing on the false ceiling will drip onto garments suspended from hangers 20. Condensed steam will have a tendency to roll down the sloping false ceiling sections onto the interior of side walls l0-1 and false side wall 26 and thence to the bottom of the cabinet where it is removed via evaporation. The cabinet 10 as noted is provided with the false side wall 26 which runs from the lower edge of the false ceiling section 22 to the bottom panel 111-4. The false side panel 26 and false ceiling panel 22 enclose components of the air circulating system 12 to be described in more detail hereafter. A false bottom 27 having a rectangular opening 28 is also included in the cabinet 10. The false bottom functions to enclose the steam generator 16 and in combination with the lower portions of the front wall 10-6, rear wall l0-5, and side walls 10-1 and 26, and bottom panel 10-4, forms a duct, passage or cavity 36 for distributing air from the air circulating system 12 to the cabinet interior 10-9 via the opening 28. Located over the opening 28 is the air-pervious heater 14 for heating air entering the cabinet interior 10-9 via opening 28. The cabinet 10, including its various walls, panels and the like, are preferably fabricated of sheet metal.
The air circulating system, considered in more detail, includes a blower motor unit 25 located in the space between false ceiling panel section 22 and cabinet top 10-3. The blower unit 25 has an inlet port or duct 31 which communicates with the interior of the cabinet 10-9 via an opening in the false ceiling panel section 22 and an outlet 32. A duct 34 located in the space between false side wall 26 and side panel 10-2 connects the outlet 32 of the blower 25 to the cavity 36 lying between the false bottom 27 and the bottom panel 10-4. The lower end 38 of the duct 34 communicates with the cavity 36 via a suitable opening in the lower portion of false side wall 26, which lower side wall portion forms one side of the structure defining cavity 36. When the blower motor unit 25 is energized, air from the cabinet interior 10-9 enters the motor inlet duct 31 at the top of the cabinet interior and exits under pressure from the motor outlet 32 where it is transported downwardly by the duct 34 to the cavity 36 underlying the false bottom 27. The air in the cavity 36 is then distributed upwardly through the false bottom opening 28, passing through the heater 14, wherein it becomes heated, to the interior of the cabinet 10-9, drying garments on hangers 20 previously subjected to a steam cycle to be described. Eventually the air again enters the blower motor inlet 31 and the recirculation process is repeated. A portion, eg 10 percent, of the air entering the blower inlet 31 exhausts to the atmosphere via a vent hole 67 provided in the blower outlet side of the motor 32, to facilitate removal of moisture from the cabinet interior 10-5. By design, cracks exist in the cabinet 10 by virtue of imperfect sealing of the door 10-8 with cabinet opening 10-7 to permit make-up air to enter the cabinet interior 10-9 and avoid creation of a significant vacuum in the cabinet interior as a controlled quantity of air is exhausted at opening 67 to remove moisture when the blower motor unit 25 is energized.
The air heater which overlies the opening 28 in false bottom 27 may take a variety of forms. Preferably the heater is a resistance heating coil having a number of strands 40-1, 40-2, 40-3 spanning the opening 28 in a horizontal plane. Strands 40-1, 40-2 and 40-3 are anchored at each end to square cross-section transverse channel members 33, 33 mounted to the upper surface of false bottom 27 adjacent the opposite sides of opening 28. The resistance heating strands 40-1, 40-2 and 40-3 are connected to a suitable source of electrical current (not shown) and when energized from such current source becomes sufficiently elevated in temperature to heat the recirculating air as it passes upwardly into the cabinet interior 10-9 via opening 28 in the false bottom 27.
The air heater 14 also preferably includes an air pervious, perforated cover plate 42 disposed in a horizontal plane to the opening 28 and overlying the heating strands 40-1, 40-2, 40-3. The perforated plate 42 protects garments, which inadvertently may fall from the hangers 20 to the bottom of the cabinet, from being burned which would otherwise result were the plate omitted and the falling garments to come into direct contact with the heating strands 40-1, 40-2, 40-3. Also, since the perforated plate 42, by virtue of its proximity to the heating strands 40-1, 40-2, 40-3, be-
comes heated, it provides additional heat transfer surface for heating the circulating air entering the cabinet interior -9 via opening 28.
A pair of upwardly and inwardly disposed plates 30, 30 are secured to false bottom 27 adjacent the front and rear edges of the opening 28 and deflect the air issuing from opening 28 to the center of the cabinet interior 10-9.
The steam generator 16, which is located in the cavity 36 underlying the false bottom 27, provides two principal and highly advantageous operating characteristics. These are, first, the generation of steam instantaneous upon introduction of water into the steam generator from a local supply such as a water main and, second, the generation of steam in a predetermined quantity per garment conditioning cycle irrespective of variations in pressure of the local water supply to which the steam generator is connected. To accomplish these advantages, the steam generator 16 includes a heat sink 50 in the form of a block having a planar horizontal surface 51, the circumferential edge of which is completely surrounded by an upstanding wall 52 to form a cavity or receptacle 53. The heat sink 50 is preferably fabricated of material such as cast iron having a low specific heat and high density. The cavity 53 is sealed by a metal plate 54 which seats on the upper edge of upstanding wall sections 52. A heater 55, preferably of the electrical resistance type, is mounted to the bottom surface of the heat sink block 50 for heating the block when energized from a power supply 41 under the control of a thermostatic regulator 56 which responds to a temperature sensor 57 imbedded or attached to the heat sink 50. Preferably two temperature-sensing elements 57 (only one of which is shown) are provided. One of the temperature-sensing elements causes the thermostatic regulator 56 to terminate energization of the heat 55 when the heat sink 50 has reached a desired upper temperature limit, e.g., 450F. while the other temperature sensor precludes the commencing of another cycle until the heat sink has at least reached some predetermined lower temperature limit, such as 400F. The temperature sensors 57 and thermostatic regulator 56 are conventional and well known components in the heating field and, accordingly, are not further described herein.
When a predetermined amount, or charge, of water is introduced into the cavity 53, by means to be described, a conversion of water to steam occurs instantaneously as the water contacts the heat sink surface 51 which is maintained at a high temperature substantially above the temperature at which water boils under the atmospheric air pressure conditions present in cavity 53. The heat sink 50 preferably has a mass and specific heat selected to store heat in an amount sufficient to prevent the temperature of the surface 51 from drop ping below, or even near, the boiling point of water in the course of converting to steam the predetermined quantity of water, or charge, introduced into the cavity 53 per garment conditioning cycle. in this way the charge of water introduced into cavity 53 will continue to be converted into steam from the moment of its introduction into the cavity until all of the water has been boiled.
Communicating with the cavity 53 of the heat sink 50 is a water conduit 60 which connects to a conventional unregulated pressure water supply 61 via a constant flow output, pressure insensitive valve 62 controlled by a timer 63. It is essential that the valve 62 be of the general type which provides at its output a constant flow rate per unit time independent of fluctuations in pressure of the fluid entering its inlet. Controlling the valve 62 is a timer 63 which, under command of a signal from a control circuit (not shown) functions to open the valve 62 for a predetermined period of time, thereby effecting delivery of a predetermined quantity of water, for example, l2 ounces, from unregulated pressure water supply 61 to the heat sink cavity 53, irrespective of variations in the pressure of the water supply 61 to which the steam generator 16 may be connected.
Provision of means to provide a constant quantity of water to the steam generator 16 irrespective of pressure fluctuations in the water supply to which the steam generator is connected is particularly advantageous when the steam cabinet is utilized in a conventional self-service, coin-operated laundry and drycleaning installation having a large number, for example, 20-50, clothes washers. In such an installation, the pressure of the local water supply 61, for example, the city water main, will vary to a large extent dependent upon the number of clothes washers being utilized at any given time. Obviously, every time a clothes washer begins to draw water from the city main, there is a drop in pressure of the water supply, at least temporarily. The combination of valve 62 and timer 63 of this invention provides a predetermined quantity of water to the steam generator cavity 53 for generation into steam and subsequent conditioning of clothes in the steam cabinet 10, notwithstanding unpredictable fluctuations in pressure of the city water main which are prevalent in selfservice, coin-operated installations where clothes washers utilize water at unpredictable times and rates.
Communicating with the interior 53 of the steam generator heat sink is a tubular fitting 64 which has extending from opposite arms thereof tubular branch conduits 65 and 66 which pass through the false bottom 27 of the steam cabinet and channels 33, 33 terminating with their exit ends 65' and 66' in the cabinet interior 10-9. Tubular fitting 64, in combination with the branch conduits 65 and 66, are unrestricted and distribute steam to the interior of the cabinet 10-9 generated in the cavity 53 when the water input thereto via conduit vaporizes upon contact with the heated sink surface 51.
An important aspect of this invention is the fact that by maintaining the heat sink 50 at a temperature substantially above the boiling point of water, steam is instantaneously generated as an incident to introduction of water into the heat sink cavity 53 via conduit 60. Thus, the normal delays commonplace when conventional immersion water heaters and the like are used are avoided. Another important characteristic of this invention is that the steam generator provides a predetermined quantity of steam per garment conditioning cycle irrespective of fluctuations in pressure of the city water main to which the steam generator is connected. A third advantage of this invention is that all the water introduced into the cavity 53 is converted to steam since at all times the water is in contact with the heated surface 51. This is contrary to the operation of immersion heaters where often some of the water in the bottom of the pan in which the immersion heater is located is out of contact with the immersion heating element and, hence, is not converted to steam. Additionally,
since the cavity 51 is open to the atmosphere via tubes 65 and 65', the steam produced is at a low pressure and non-hazardous. Finally, by locating the heat sink 50 in the path of the recirculating air, the air will be heated by the heat sink as well as by heating strands 401, 40-2, 40-3 as it flows through cavity 36.
While the invention has been described as useful in vaporizing water, it will be understood that other fluids susceptive of vaporization with the apparatus of this invention may be employed, and accordingly the term water" as used in the claims includes such other fluids.
The invention has been described in conjunction with a steam cabinet, but it is of euqal value in other steam operated devices such as steam irons, spotting boards and form finishers and it is intended that this invention apply to these and other devices using evaporated fluids. For example, when the invention is used in a steam iron, the timer 63 controlling the 62 is replacedby a manually operated switch which opens the valve for a variable interval dependent upon the deviation of manual actuation of the switch to provide a charge of water which is independent of water supply pressure variations and dependent only upon the duration of switch actuation. Of course, when used in a steam iron the steam tubes 65 and 6S communicate with the steam emission holes in the bottom of the iron.
Having described my invention, 1 claim:
1. Garment dewrinkling apparatus comprising:
a cabinet having an internal chamber into which garments are positioned for dewrinkling treatment,
a steam generator having a steam outlet communicating with said chamber for introducing steam into said chamber to moisturize garments therein, said generator including a. a heat sink,
b. a heater in heat transfer relation to said heat sink for heating said heat sink to a specified temperature substantially above the boiling point of water at atmospheric pressure,
0. a valve having an outlet connected to said heat sink and having an inlet connectable to an unregulated pressure water supply, said valve constructed to provide, when actuated, an output water flow at a constant rate per unit time independent of water supply pressure fluctuations, and
d. a timer for controlling the actuation of said valve for a perdetermined interval to cause said valve to deliver to said heat sink a specified quantity of water directly correlated to the time duration of said interval, and
hot air circulating means having a hot air outlet communicating with said chamber for drying garments previously subjected to a moisturizing cycle.
2. Garment dewrinkling apparatus comprising:
a cabinet having an internal chamber into which garments are positioned for dewrinkling treatment,
a steam generator having a steam outlet communicating with said chamber for introducing steam into said chamber to moisturize garments therein, said generator comprising a. a heat sink having a high temperature surface defining a cavity therein for containing in contact therewith a charge of water which boils at a specified temperature,
b. a heater in heat transfer relationship to said heat sink for heating said heat sink surface to said high temperature, said high temperature being substantially above said specified boiling temperature,
c. a thermostatic regulator for maintaining said heat sink surface at approximately said high temperature,
d. means for charging said cavity with a predetermined charge of water, and
hot air circulating means having a hot air outlet communicating with said chamber for drying garments previously subjected to a moisturizing cycle.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heat stored in said heat sink at said specified temperature exceeds the heat necessary to boil said specified quantity of water without reducing the temperature of said heat sink substantially below said specified temperature.
4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the heat stored in said heat sink exceeds the heat necessary to boil said predetermined charge of water without reducing the temperature of 'said cavity surface substantially below said specified high temperature.
5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein said high temperature exceeds approximately 400F.
6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said hot air circulating means includes an air passage upstreamof said hot air outlet, and wherein said heat sink is located in said passage in heat transfer relationship to air flowing therein for heating said air as it flows in said passage to said hot air outlet.
' Patent No.
UNITED STATES PATENT ()FFKIF, CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION 3,805,562 Dated April 23, 1974 Richard A. Waugh et a1 I Inventor(s) It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Cancel the original columns 1 through 8 and substitute the corrected columns 1 through 6 ;as shown on the attached sheet.
Signed and sealed this 8th day of October 1974.
C. MARSHALL DANN McCOY M. GIBSON JR. Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents USCOMM'DC 60376-PUD ORM PO-105O (10-69) u s covumntnr nmmnn OFFICE 930