US 3861179 A
An apparatus for steaming wrinkles out of wearing apparel includes a cabinet having means for suspending and, preferably, vibrating items of wearing apparel therein; means for introducing outside air into the cabinet, preferably through the lower portion thereof; and means for introducing steam into the cabinet coupled with means for varying the composition of the steam from dry through medium dry, medium wet, and wet. Means, such as an exhaust fan, is also included for removing the heated air and steam from the cabinet, preferably through the top thereof. The apparatus can have means if desired for injecting into the steam one or more chemical compounds having a beneficial effect on the wearing apparel.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Orchard APPARATUS FOR STEAMING WEARING APPAREL  Inventor: Melvin C. Orchard, Salt Lake City,
 Assignee: K. S. Cornaby, Salt Lake City, Utah  Filed: Apr. 10, 1972  Appl. No.: 242,664
 US. Cl. 68/6  Int. Cl. D06c 1/04  Field of Search 68/5 C, 6; 8/149.3
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,738,946 12/1929 Chapin et a1. 8/149.3 2,120,844 6/1938 Wolfenden 8/149.3 X 2,767,568 10/1956 Pope 68/5 C 2,845,786 8/1958 Chrisman.. 68/5 C 3,049,903 8/1962 Sussman.... 68/5 C 3,103,450 9/1963 Janson 68/5 C 1 Jan. 21, 1975 Primary Examiner-Robert L. Bleutge Assistant ExaminerPhilip R. Coe
Attorney, Agent, or Firm1(ay S. Cornaby  ABSTRACT An apparatus for steaming wrinkles out of wearing apparel includes a cabinet having means for suspending and, preferably, vibrating items of wearing apparel therein; means for introducing outside air into the cabinet, preferably through the lower portion thereof; and means for introducing steam into the cabinet coupled with means for varying the composition of the steam from dry through medium dry, medium wet, and wet. Means, such as an exhaust fan, is alsoineluded for removing the heated air and steam from the cabinet, preferably through the top thereof. The apparatus can have means if desired for injecting into-the steam one or more chemical compounds having a heneficial effect on the wearing apparel.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTED JANZI I975 sum 3 or 3 APPARATUS FOR STEAMING WEARING APPAREL BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention is related to apparatus for removing winkles from wearing apparel.
In the course of normal use, virtually all items of wearing apparel, from pants and dresses to coats and blouses, become wrinkled to some degree. Many articles of clothing become sufficiently wrinkled to require pressing or other treatment for the removal of wrinkles, although they may not be so soiled as to require cleaning. A substantial industry has arisen over the years to care for wearing apparel by pressing or other means to remove winkles either as a step following dry cleaning, or independently of a dry cleaning procedure.
Accordingly, there has been considerable demand for equipment which would be capable of removing wrinkles from clothing and of providing a finished appearance to the articles with as little manual handling as possible. Various proposals have been made for exposing clothing to steam in an enclosed area for the purpose of relaxing the fibers in the clothing and permitting the fibers to return to their original, unwrinkled shape. These earlier devices have failed to gain commercial acceptance, because there has been no way to control the degree of wetness of the steam and the amount of heat to which the wearing apparel was subjected. Exposure to steam having the incorrect humidity content or excessively high temperatures for the particular type of fibers in the garment, either resulted in inadequate wrinkle removal or caused the fibers to become so relaxed that the garment would lost its shape. Furthermore, any fabric-finishing chemicals had to be applied in a separate step preceding or following SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The apparatus of the invention includes an enclosed cabinet which has means, such as a door or the like, for ready access to the cabinet interior. Within the cabinet, means, such as a laterally-extending rod, is disposed for suspending the wearing apparel therefrom, with a small space between each garment to permit the rapid and thorough exposure of all parts of the garment to the atmosphere within the cabinet. Preferably, means is included for reciprocating the rod longitudinally to vibrate the items of apparel and aid in removing the wrinkles.
Means, e.g., an aperture or the like, is also provided for introducing external air into the cabinet. Preferably, air-inflow is accomplished through an aperture in the bottom of the cabinet. The air is heated by heating means, for example, a steam coil preferably disposed at the aperture so that the air is heated as it enters the cabinet.
The apparatus also has means, such as a perforated pipe, for introducing steam into the cabinet to surround the wearing apparel and aid in relaxing the fibers of the apparel. In a preferred embodiment, the steam means includes a laterally extending pipe with-a plurality of spaced-apart apertures therein, which pipe is disposed. for example, immediately above the air-heating means. Additional means is included in the apparatus for varying the composition of the steam by controlled admixing ofa source of dry steam with a source of wet steam, the source of wet steam can be the return flow of spent steam from the air-heating means. In this manner. the precise composition of the steam coming into the cabinet can be controlled and adjusted to best benefit the wearing apparel.
Means for removing the steam and heated air from the cabinet is included in the apparatus. Preferably, this means includes an aperture at or near the top of the cabinet with an exhaust fan or the like to draw the air out of the cabinet. If desired, means can be incorporated into the apparatus for admixing one or more chemical compounds, e.g., fabric finishers, with the steam to improve the apearance, texture and wrinkle resistance of the apparel.
Means can also be present for automatedly cycling the operation of the apparatus through a predetermined sequence of steps for treating apparel in the cabinet to steam of a particular composition and specific chemicals for fabric finishing prior to exhausting the steam and heat from the apparatus.
THE DRAWINGS The best mode presently contemplated of carrying out the invention is illustrated. in the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of the apparatus showing the interior of the cabinet;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation of the apparatus with the central portion cut away;
FIG. 3 is a vertical section of the apparatus taken along line 3-3 of FIG. I;
FIG. 4' is a vertical section taken along line 44 of FIG. 3 with the central portion cut away; and
FIG. 5 is a partial view in elevation taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2, showing the motor and gears for driving a laterally extending, reciprocating suspension rod.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT As illustrated in FIG. I, a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a four'sided cabinet 10 which has a large door 11 for rapid and convenient access to the interior of the cabinet. Although preferably constructed of sturdy sheet metal, cabinet 10 can be fabricated of any heat-resistant material, and can be insulated to reduce heat loss through convection and provide a cool exterior surface for safety of users. For convenience of access, a pair of doors can be substituted for single door 11.
Cabinet 10 rests upon four legs 12 respectively disposed at each corner thereof, thereby providing sufficient space between the cabinet bottom 13 and a supporting surface 14 to permit adequate air-flow from the exterior to the interior of the cabinet. The means for introducing air into the cabinet in this embodiment includes a longitudinal aperture or vent 15 extending along cabinet bottom 13.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, means for heating the incoming air includes a V-shaped trough 16 extending longitudinally along the length of vent in cabinet bottom 13. The angular bottom of trough 16 extends through vent 15 below cabinet bottom 13, but remains within the lower portions of the cabinet walls and the free air space 17 below cabinet bottom 13. The outwardly and upwardly sloping walls of trough 16 extend laterally only far enough toward the edges of vent 15 to provide air-inflow passages between the vent edges and the trough sides, so that incoming air flows both upwardly and outwardly toward the sides of the interior of the cabinet. Trough 16 is enclosed at both ends and is secured to cabinet bottom 13 with braces 18 at either end thereof. The trough can be constructed of any suitable heat-conducting material, including a metal, such as a copper alloy.
Also forming part of the air-heating means is a U- shaped stem coil 19 having arms 19a and 19b. Coil 19 extends longitudinally from one cabinet side to the other underneath cabinet bottom 13, with coil arms 19a and 19b respectively disposed along either side of trough 16 adjacent the angular bottom of the trough. As illustrated, the coil arms are preferably constructed of metal pipe. A roughened exterior with numerous small metal protuberances extending outwardly from the circumference of the pipe provide for rapid dissemination of heat from the coil interior to trough l6 and also to the air flowing past the coil into cabinet 10. Coil 19 is preferably constructed of a heat-conducting metal, such as a copper alloy, but other suitable materials can be employed. Other pipe configurations can also be utilized, so long as the major objective is met, i.e., to heat trough l6 and raise the temperature of the incoming air.
As illustrated in both FIGS. 1 and 2, the end of arm 19a of coil 19 is attached to a live, dry steam input line 20. A valve 21 on line regulates the amount of steam entering coil arm 19a. The opposite end ofthe coil, i.e., the end of arm 19b, is connected to an exhaust steam line 22 for recirculating the spent, wet steam to the steam boiler (not shown). Dry steam from line 20 circulates through coil 19 to heat the incoming air and trough l6, and then exits as spent, wet steam through line 22.
The means for introducing steam into cabinet 10 to aid in removing the wrinkles from clothing includes an elongate steam pipe 23 extending longitudinally along the center interior of trough 16 approximately midway between the upper edge and angular bottom of the trough. Pipe 23 is closed at its outer end and has a plurality of spaced-apart apertures 24 therein for releasing the steam along the length of the pipe. In this embodiment, the apertures are located along the underside of the pipe 23, which is inch in diameter. However, the apertures can also be advantageously disposed along both lateral sides of pipe 23. The diameter of the apertures are uniform in size, and in this embodiment are about 11/64 inch in diameter to provide an approximately even rate of flow along the entire length of pipe 23. Thus, steam under pressure is forced out of apertures 24 downwardly or laterally outwardly against trough 16 and is further heated by contact with the hot surface of trough 16 before rising to envelop the apparel in the cabinet.
Steam pipe 23 is connected with an extension 20a of steam input line 20 beyond the point at which heating coil arm 19a connects into line 20. The flow of steam through line 200 into pipe 23 is controlled by an electrically operated solenoid valve 25, which is actuated by an electrical timer (described below) connected with the valve through electrical lead 26. When valve 25 is open, live steam passes through line 20a into pipe 23.
An additional feature is the inclusion of means for injecting chemical compouds, such as fabric finishers and the like, into the steam flowing through line 20a into pipe 23. A line 27 for feeding the chemical compound into the steam line connects with line 20a between valve 25 and pipe 23. The flow of chemicals into the steam is regulated by a valve 28 attached to line 27. Valve 28 can either be manually operated (as shown) or can be attached to a solenoid for automated operation. Line 27 advantageously extends into a container for chemicals (not shown), or can be connected to a permanently installed line from an outside source of chemicals.
The composition of the steam entering pipe 23 can be varied according to need by manually adjusting a valve 29 which controls the flow of spent or wet steam from steam return line 22 through line 30 to line 20a. Valve 29 can also be operated by a solenoid or the like for automated operation. Dry steam contains virtually no moisture or condensed water in it; whereas wet steam from the steam return line often contains 50 percent condensed moisture. By adjusting valve 29, the composition of steam entering cabinet 10 can be varied from about 0 percent moisture (dry steam) to about 10 percent moisture (medium dru), to about 25 percent moisture (medium wet), and upwards to about 50 percent moisture (wet steam). In this manner, use is made of the spent steam from the heating coil to admix with the live, dry steam to effect a significant economy of cost and equipment.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, and 5, the means for suspending articles of clothing in cabinet 10 includes an elongate reciprocable rod 31 which extends longitudinally across the width of cabinet 10 and appropriate distance above cabinet bottom 13 so that the clothing does not touch trough 16 or bottom 13. Rod 31 has a plurality of spaced-apart notches 32 along its upper surface adapted to accommodate clothing hangers. Rod 31 is secured within cabinet 10 by means ofa pair of brackets 33, 34 fixedly attached respectively to each end of rod 31 and adapted to reciprocate within respective guide ways 35, 36 attached to the side walls of cabinet 10.
Rod 31 is adapted to be reciprocated within cabinet 10 to impart motion to the clothing to shake out the wrinkles as they are exposed to steam. As shown in FIG, 5, the reciprocating means includes bracket 34 which extends through guide way 36 exteriorly of the cabinet and is moveably connected at its outer end to one end of a short bar 37, which is pivotally connected at its other end to drive wheel 38. As drive wheel 38 is rotated by a pulley 39 and a motor 40, mounted on control box 41, clothing rod 31 is smoothly reciprocated within the cabinet, so as to retain the hangers within the notches and to avoid hanger fatigue.
At timed intervals, the heated air and steam within cabinet 10 are removed through a duct 42, in the upper end of cabinet 10, as shown in FIG. 4, and exhausted to the ambient atmosphere by means of an exhaust fan 43 mounted in a housing 44 on top of cabinet 10. Although fan 43 is shown axially horizontal in the illustrated embodiment, the fan can also be disposed with its axis disposed along the vertical at duct 42. Fan 43 is rotated by a motor 45 which is controlled through a timed switch in control box 41.
Control box 41 contains a timer and switch 46 for controlling the length of time live steam is introduced into cabinet 10. An exhaust timer and switch 47 control the period of time for exhausting the heated air and steam from the cabinet. Other controls include a power switch 48 and a power light 49 to indicated when the apparatus is on. Additional controls can be added to provide for timed introduction of chemicals into the steam, and for varying the composition of steam according to pre-determined sequences.
Other embodiments of the invention have a double or triple set of air heating and steam injection means in the cabinet bottom for larger cabinets holding greater numbers of garments.
Whereas this invention is illustrated and described herein with respect to certain preferred forms, it is to be understood that many variations are possible without departing from the inventive concept particularly pointed out in the claims.
1. Apparatus for steaming wrinkles out of wearing apparel, comprising in combination:
an enclosed cabinet having means for access to the interior thereof;
means for suspending items of wearing apparel within the cabinet;
means for introducing air into the cabinet including an elongated aperture extending laterally along the cabinet bottom, through which exterior air can flow into the cabinet;
means for heating said incoming air comprising at least one U-shaped coil extending laterally along the aperture in the cabinet bottom, and at least one elongate, V-shaped trough extending longitudinally along the aperture disposed between, and extending above, the lateral arms of the U-shaped coil;
said coil being adapted for connection to a source of steam for heating the coil and the V-shaped trough;
means forintroducing steam into the cabinet;
means for varying the composition of said steam from dry steam to wet steam; and means for exhausting said heated air and steam from the cabinet.
2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 including means for introducing a chemical compound having a beneficial effect on the wearing apparel into the steam.
3. Apparatus as set forth in claim I, wherein the means for introducing steam into the cabinet includes an elongate pipe extending laterally along and within the V-shaped trough, said pipe being adapted for connection at one end thereof with a source of steam and having a plurality of spaced-apart apertures disposed along the lateral sides of the pipe.
4. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the means for varying the composition of the steam introduced into the cabinet includes valving means for admixing a source of dry steam and a source of wet steam in predetermined proportions for introduction of the admixture into the cabinet.
5. Apparatus as set forth in claim 4, wherein the means for heating the incoming air is a steamline, and the source of wet steam for admixing with thesource of dry steam comprises the spent steam from the air heating line.
6. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the means for exhausting the heated air and steam from the cabinet includes a vent in the top of the cabinet and an exhaust fan disposed at the vent.
7. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said means for suspending wearing apparel includes a laterally disposed bar having a plurality of spaced apart notches along the upper surface thereof and having means, for inducing lateral, reciprocating motion in the bar.