US 3888391 A
A no-spill, free-body, rinse-water-additive dispenser for use in automatic washing machines wherein the first spin portion of the machine's automatic cycle follows the wash portion of the cycle and precedes the agitated deep rinse portion of the cycle. The dispenser has a no-spill configuration and is provided with a centrifugally openable valve which opens during the spin portion of the machine's cycle. Due to the no-spill configuration, dispensing of additive is subsequently effected during the agitated deep rinse by rinse water flushing the additive from the dispenser. The no-spill configuration coupled with flush-dispensing obviates contact of concentrated additives with the articles being washed which might otherwise precipitate stained wash.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 1 Merz 1 1 DISPENSER FOR RINSE-WATER ADDITIVE  Inventor: Theodore Paul Merz, Cincinnati.
 US. Cl. 222/52; 222/463; 222/498;
222/500; 68/207  Int. Cl. D06f 39/02; 86511 47/14  Field of Search 222/52, 463, 498, 500,
[ June 10, 1975 Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves Assistant Examiner-Frederick R. Handren Attorney, Agent, or FirmThomas J. Slone; John V. Gorman; Richard C. Witte 5 7 ABSTRACT A nospill, free-body, rinse-wateradditive dispenser for use in automatic washing machines wherein the first spin portion of the machines automatic cycle follows the wash portion of the cycle and precedes the agitated deep rinse portion of the cycle. The dispenser has a no-spill configuration and is provided with a centrifugally openable valve which opens during the spin portion of the machine's cycle. Due to the no-spill configuration, dispensing of additive is subsequently  References Cit d effected during the agitated deep rinse by rinse water UNITED STATES PATENTS flushing the additive from the dispenser. The no-spill 945 G Mb 222/500 x configuration coupled with flush-dispensing obviates 2 x i?;i 222/463 X contact of concentrated additives with the articles 31101;}122 10/1963 Torongo et 51. 222/500 x being washed which might Otherwise precipitate 3,180,538 4/1965 Brown et a1. 222/500 awed Wash- N' l 222 500 X 3,2l5 31l 11/1965 ison et a 6 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures g l l I 1 1 1 l 45 i l I 1 k I l A y l l PATENTED JUN I 0 I975 U 8 88 91 I DISPENSER FOR RINSE-WATER ADDITIVE FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to providing a means for automatically mixing a liquid or granular rinsewater additive such as a fabric softener with rinse water in an automatic washer. More specifically, the present invention relates to free-body means for achieving such mixing of additives with rinse water in a manner which obviates contact of undiluted additives with articles being washed. Otherwise, some concentrated additives would precipitate stained or damaged wash.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Free-body dispensers for automatically introducing fabric softeners and/or other rinse-water additives into rinse water in automatic washers are disclosed in the prior art. Representative additive dispensers are disclosed in US. Pat. No. 2,956,709 issued Oct. I8, 1960 to Morris Nison et al.; US. Pat. No. 3,108,722 issued Oct. 29, 1963 to Albert I-l. Torongo, Jr. et al.; and US. Pat. No. 3,180,538 issued Apr. 27, I965 to Elwood B. Brown, et al. However, none of the discovered prior art discloses a free-body dispenser for the purpose described which has solved all of the problems associated with such dispensing in the manner of or to the degree of the present invention; particularly the problem of dispensing concentrated additives which, if undiluted, might precipitate stained wash.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION The nature and substance of the present invention will be more readily appreciated after giving consideration to its major aims and purposes. Principal objects of the invention are recited in the ensuing paragraphs in order to provide a better appreciation of its important aspects prior to describing the details of the preferred embodiment in later portions of this description.
A major object of this invention is providing a freebody dispenser for automatically introducing a predetermined quantity or charge of additives into the rinse water during the deep rinse portion of the cycle of an automatic washing machine.
Another major object of the present invention is providing a dispenser as described in the preceding paragraph which incorporates means for substantially obviating contact of undiluted or undissolved additives with the articles being washed.
Still another object of the present invention is providing a dispenser as described in the two preceding paragraphs which comprises means for internally retaining the charge of additive until agitated rinse water dilutes or dissolves the additive and flushes it out of the dispenser.
Yet still another object of the present invention is providing a free-body dispenser as described in the three preceding paragraphs which comprises means for facilitating the loading of a predetermined charge of additive into the dispenser, and for sealing the additive therein until the dispenser is acted upon by a predetermined level of centrifugal force during the post-wash spin-dry portion of the cycle of an automatic washer.
Yet another object of the present invention is providing a dispenser as described in the preceding object paragraphs which dispenser requires no disassembly or assembly operations to recharge it.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The above and other objects of the present invention are achieved by providing a dispenser comprising a body, a tubular member, and manually closeable, centrifugally openable valve means. The body has a substantially spherical-shape outer wall with an aperture through it. The tubular member has a proximal end sealingly secured to an annular area of the outer wall surrounding the aperture so that the member extends radially inwardly from the outer wall of the body. The tubular member is of sufficient length that its distal end is disposed centrally in the body of the dispenser. The valve means are provided for keeping the distal end of the tubular member closed during the operation of an automatic washing machine until the dispenser is subjected to a predetermined centrifugal force during the post-wash, spin-dry portion of an automatic cycle of the washing machine. The body and the tubular member are sized and configured to accommodate the predetermined volume of additive within the dispenser while the valve is open regardless of the orientation of the dispenser whereby the additive will be retained in the dispenser until flushed out by rinse water during the agitated deep rinse portion of the machines automatic cycle.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as forming the present invention, it is believed the invention will be better understood from the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. I is a vertical sectional view of a free-body dispenser which is a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view of the substantially spherical-shape body of the dispenser shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view ofa closure assembly employed in the dispenser shown in FIG. 1.
FIGS. 4 and 5 are top and side elevational views respectively ofa valve plug assembly employed in the dispenser shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of a flexible tether employed in the dispenser shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary top view of the dispenser shown in FIG. 1 after its valve has been centrifugally opened and the dispenser is being held by centrifugal force against the vertical wall of the inner tub of an automatic washer while the inner tub is spinning.
FIG. 8 is a vertical sectional view of a first alternate dispenser embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 9 is a vertical sectional view of a second alternate dispenser embodiment of the present invention with a charge of additive sealed therein by a manually closed, centrifugally openable valve.
FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the second alternate dispenser embodiment shown in FIG. 9 after its centrifugally openable valve has been opened.
FIG. 11 is a sectional view of a third alternate dispenser embodiment of the present invention which comprises a bistable, manually closed, centrifugally openable valve which valve is shown in its closed position.
FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the third alternate embodiment dispenser shown in FIG. 11 after its bistable valve has been opened.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIG. 1, dispenser is a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Dispenser 20 comprises a body 21, weight 22, a closure 23, a tether 24, and a valve 25. As shown in FIG. 1, dispenser 20 has a predetermined quantity or charge of a liquid rinse-water additive A disposed in it.
Briefly, dispenser 20 provides a means for automati cally introducing a predetermined quantity of a concentrated rinse-water additive such as a liquid or granular fabric softener into the deep-rinse water of an automatic washer having an automatic wash cycle comprising the sequential steps of washing, post wash spindrying, and agitated deep-rinsing. A manually closed, centrifugally opened valve seals a charge of additive in the dispenser 20 until the valve is opened. The dispenser has a no-spill configuration which, after the valve is opened, obviates issuing the additive therefrom until the dispenser is agitated during the deep-rinsing step of the cycle of the automatic washer.
Body 21, FIG. 2, comprises a top half 28 and a bottom half 29 which are sealingly secured together around a circumferentially extending equatorial seam 30. In the preferred embodiment dispenser 20, halves 28, 29 are injection molded of polyethylene, and are heat sealed or adhesively secured together to form equatorial seam 30. It is not intended, however, to limit the present invention to such injection molded parts, or to the use of polyethylene as body forming material or to the use of body halves which are irremovably secured together.
The top half 28, FIG. 2, of body 21, has a port 31 in it defined by a stubby neck 32. Neck 32 is provided with a closure engaging rim 33 so that port 31 can be sealingly closed by a closure as hereinafter described.
The bottom half 29, FIGS. 1 and 2, of body 21 is provided with an aperture 39, an integral, radially extending tubular extension or member 40, and a weight accommodating cavity 41.
By virtue of being integrally molded as a portion of bottom half 29, the tubular member 40 has its proximal end 42 sealingly secured to an area of body 21 of dispenser 20 which area surrounds aperture 39, FIG. 1. The tubular member 40 has a radially extending length which is sufficient to position its distal end 44 centrally in body 21. The distal end 44 is configured to provide the valve seat 45 of valve 25 as will be more fully de scribed below.
Weight 22, FIG. 1, is sized and configured to be secured in cavity 41, FIG. 2, of the bottom half 29 of the dispenser body 21. Weight 22 is of sufficient weight to cause the dispenser to be so oriented, while being spun in an automatic washer, that centrifugal force acting on the valve 25 is sufficiently great to open the valve 25.
In the preferred embodiment dispenser 20, weight 22 is made of lead and is not protected from contact with additive A. It is not intended, however, to limit the present invention to dispenser embodiments compris' ing unprotected lead weights. Rather, it is believed to be obvious to persons skilled in the art, that weight 22 must be of a material which is relatively non-reactive with the selected rinse-water additive or, alternatively,
that the weight must be coated or otherwise isolated from contact with a reactive rinse-water additive.
Closure assembly 23, FIG. 3, is a unitary structure comprising collar 50, strap 51, cap 52, and ring 53.
In the preferred embodiment dispenser 20, collar is provided with snap-on, snap-off means for removably securing it about the base of neck 32, and cap 52 is provided with snap-on. snap-off means for removably securing the cap 52 on rim 33 of neck 32 to sealingly close opening 31 as shown in FIG. 1. Strap 51 is flexible and is provided for convenience to tether the cap 52 to the dispenser while the dispenser is being recharged with additive. Ring 53 is provided as a grasping means to facilitate removing the cap 52 to empty the dispenser after use and to recharge the dispenser with additive prior to re-use.
Valve 25, FIG. 1, comprises valve seat 45, FIG. 2, and valve plug assembly 26, FIGS. 4 and 5.
Valve plug assembly 26, FIGS. 4 and 5, comprises a plug 60, a standoff 61, and a weight 62.
Plug 60, FIG. 5, is composed of resilient material such as neoprene. Plug is provided with flanges 63 and 64 which are spaced to provide a circumferentially extending V-shape groove 65 therebetween. The flanges 63, 64 and the groove 65 are sized and configured so that plug 60 can be manually seated in the distal end 44 of the tubular extension 40 within the dispenser body 21 as shown in FIG. 1 by squeezing flange 63 therethrough. Then, when sufficient centrifugal force is applied to dispenser 20, flange 63 is distorted sufficiently to unseat the plug 60 as shown in FIG. 7. After plug 60 has thus been unseated, it will remain unseated until manually re-seated.
Thus, valve 25 provides a manually closeable, centrifugally openable valve. When valve 25 is closed, FIG. 1, a charge of additive is sealed inside dispenser 20; after the valve has opened, FIG. 7, additive can be flushed out of dispenser 20 by agitated rinse water.
Standoff 61 is an L-shape member having a hole 66 through one end of it and weight 62 secured to its other end. Hole 66 is provided to enable securing one end of tether 24 to the valve plug assembly 26 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 7. Plug 60 is secured to standoff 61 intermediate hole 66 and weight 62. It is believed that the L-shape of standoff 61 enhances the opening of the valve by centrifugal force regardless of the orientation of weight 62 with respect to weight 22. However, orientation of weight 62 near weight 22 as shown in FIG. 1 is the preferred orientation.
Tether 24, FIG. 6, of the preferred embodiment dispenser 20 is neoprene which is flexible and elastic. Tether 24 has enlarged end portions 70, 71 which enable securing tether 24 intermediate body 21 and valve assembly 25 by squeezing end portion 70 through a hole in the bottom half 29 of the body 21, FIG. 1, and by squeezing end portion 71 through hole 66 in standoff 61 of the valve plug assembly 26. Thus, tether 24 can be pulled radially outwardly through tubular member 40 by a user to re-seat plug 60 to close valve 25.
The components of dispenser 20, FIG. 1, are sized so that, when assembled, a predetermined volume of a rinse-water additive can be contained in a chamber 27 therein, without spilling, regardless of the orientation of the dispenser. As shown in FIG. I, chamber 27 has an inverted U-shape vertical cross section. Thus, although valve 25 is opened during the post-wash, spindry portion of the automatic cycle of an automatic washer, the additive will not be dispensed from the dispenser until the deeprinse water has been admitted into the washer and agitation has begun. During the deep-rinse agitation, rinse water enters the dispenser via tubular extension 40 and mixes with the additive. This causes granular additives to be dissolved and liquid additives to be diluted before being flushed from the dispenser through continued agitation. In this manner, contact of concentrated additives with articles being washed is substantially obviated.
In order to operate dispenser 20, FIG. I, it is loaded with a predetermined volume of a rinse water additive A while closure assembly 23 is open and valve assembly 25 is closed. Then, preferably, after the closure assembly 23 is closed, the loaded dispenser is placed as a free body into the automatic washer prior to beginning a wash cycle. Then, during the post-wash spin, FIG. 7, while the dispenser is held by centrifugal force against the spinning wall W of the washing machine, the valve 25 will be opened by centrifugal force. However, because of the no-spill geometry of dispenser 20, substantial dispensing of the additive will not occur prior to beginning the agitated deep rinse portion of the washing machines automatic cycle. During the agitated deep rinse, the dispenser is agitated sufficiently to introduce rinse water into the dispenser which dilutes or dissolves the additive and flushes the resulting unconcentrated additive from the dispenser. After the wash cycle is completed, the dispenser is prepared for re-use by re seating the valve assembly 25, emptying any residual rinse water from the dispenser, and re-charging and closing the dispenser as described above.
FIRST ALTERNATE EMBODIMENT A first alternate embodiment dispenser 120, FIG. 8, comprises a top half 128, a bottom half 129, a weight 122, a tether 24, a discrete tubular member 140, and a valve 125. Valve 125 comprises a valve seat 145 disposed in the distal end of tubular member 140, and a valve plug assembly 26 as used in dispenser 20 and described hereinbefore. Like valve 25, valve 125 is a manually closeable, centrifugally openable valve.
Briefly, and without undue repetition in view of the foregoing description of the preferred embodiment dispenser 20, dispenser 120, FIG. 8, is the functional equivalent of dispenser 20 but for providing a discrete, removable tubular member 140 rather than the integral tubular member 40 provided in dispenser 20, FIG. 1. Removal of the discrete tubular member 140 facilitates installing the valve plug assembly 26 of valve 125 in the valve seat 145 in the distal end of the tubular member 140 as opposed to trying to close valve 25 disposed centrally in dispenser 20.
Top half 128, FIG. 8, and bottom half 129 have matting, circumferentially extending flanges which are sealingly secured together to form equatorial seam 130. Top half 128 is provided with a stubby neck 132 having a rim 133 which is adapted to provide snap-on, snap-off installation and removal respectively for the tubular member 140. The bottom 137 of bottom half 129 is concave inwardly for convenience so that the dispenser can be placed, without fear of spilling, on a counter or table after being charged with an additive but before being sealed closed.
Alternate dispenser 120, FIG. 8, is prepared for operation by removing the tubular member 140, tether 24, and valve plug assembly 26 therefrom; emptying any residual rinse water from the dispenser; placing a predetermined volume of additive therein; manually seating valve plug assembly 26 in seat 145 in the distal end of the tubular member/I40; and installing the tubular member/tether/valve plug assembly on the dispenser as a subassembly by snapping the skirt 142 of the tubular member 140 onto rim 133. The alternate dispenser is then placed in and operates in an automatic washer as described in conjunction with dispenser 20. That is, valve opens during the post-wash, spin-dry portion of the washers cycle, and the additive is flushed from the dispenser during the agitated deep rinse.
SECOND ALTERNATE EMBODIMENT A second alternate embodiment dispenser 220. FIGS. 9 and 10, comprises a top half 228, a bottom half 229, a weight 222, a discrete tubular member 240, and a valve 225 comprising a weighted valve plug assembly 226 and valve seat 245. The top half 228 is provided with a stubby neck 232 which is configured to cooperate with the discrete tubular member 240 to provide snap-on, snap'off installation and removal of member 240 as described above in conjunction with the first alternate dispenser embodiment 120.
Briefly, dispenser 220, FIGS. 9 and 10, is assembled, charged, and operated in substantially the same manner as dispenser 120, FIG. 8. However, in dispenser 220, valve plug assembly 226 comprises a weight 262 which abuts a resilient plug 260 rather than being offset or mounted on a standoff as in dispensers 20 and 120, FIGS. 1 and 8 respectively.
Weight 222, FIG. 9, is secured to the bottom of bottom half 229 and is sufficiently heavy to orient the dispenser 220 in the spinning inner tub of an automatic washer, during the post-wash spin-dry portion of the automatic washers cycle so that the weight 222 is disposed radially outwardly from the weighted valve plug assembly 229. During the post-wash spin, centrifugal force acts on the valve plug assembly 226 to unseat it as shown in FIG. 10. Thus, dispenser 220 is activated during the post-wash spin so that its contents can be flushed therefrom during the agitated deep rinse in the manner described in conjunction with dispensers 20 and 120.
THIRD ALTERNATE EMBODIMENT Briefly, a third alternate embodiment dispenser 320, FIGS. 11 and 12, is substantially like dispenser 220, FIGS. 9 and 10, except dispenser 320 further comprises a leaf spring 380 or other bistable means for biasing a valve plug assembly 326 to its closed position against seat 345, FIG. 11, and to its open position, FIG. 12. To avoid undue repetition, components and features which are identical to those of the previously described dispensers 20, 120, and 220 are identified by the same designators. Also, components and features having substantially similar roles as previously described are identified by designators in the three hundred series which have the same last two digits as the designators used in conjunction with dispensers 20, 120, and 220.
More specifically, dispenser 320 comprises a bistable valve 325 which comprises a valve seat 345 in the distal end of member 340, a valve plug assembly 326, and the leaf spring 380.
The valve plug assembly 326, FIG. 12, comprises a shaft 367, a resilient washer 360, a weight 362, and a retaining clip 368. The members of the valve plug assembly 326 are secured together and to the central portion of leaf spring 380 as shown in FIGS. H and 12. In turn, the ends 381, 382 of spring 380 are pivotally disposed in bottom half 329. Also, the distal end or top end of shaft 367 is configured to provide a grasping portion 369 for a user. Thus, the bistable valve 325 can be closed by pulling upwardly on the grasping portion 369, and valve 325 is centrifugally openable as in dispensers 20, 120 and 220 described hereinbefore.
After use, dispenser 320. FIG. 12, is prepared for reuse by: removing tubular member 340; dumping any residual rinse water from the dispenser; introducing a new charge of rinse water additive into the dispenser; snapping the tubular member 340 back on the neck 332 of the dispenser; and by closing valve 325 to the position shown in FIG. 11.
While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention and it is intended to cover in the appended claims, all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.
What is claimed is:
l. A free-body dispenser for automatically mixing a predetermined volume of a rinse water additive with rinse water during an agitated deep rinse portion of an automatic cycle ofa spin-dry type washing machine following a post-wash spin-empty portion of said cycle, said dispenser comprising:
a body having a substantially spherical-shape outer wall and an aperture through said outer wall;
a tubular member having a proximal end and a distal end, said proximal end being sealingly secured to an annular area of said outer wall surrounding said aperture so that said tubular member extends radially inwardly from said outer wall, said tubular member being of sufficient length so that said distal end is centrally disposed in said body; and
manually closeable, centrifugally openable valve means for keeping said distal end of said tubular member closed during said cycle until said dispenser is subjected to a predetermined contrifugal force during said spin-empty portion of said cycle, and for opening said distal end of said tubular member upon being subjected to said predetermined centrifugal force,
said body and said tubular member being sized and configured to accommodate said predetermined volume of additive within said dispenser while said valve means is open regardless of the orientation of said dispenser,
whereby said additive will be retained in said dispenser until flushed out by rinse water during said agitated deep rinse portion of said cycle.
2. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said body and said tubular member are provided with means for removably securing said proximal end of said tubular member to said body whereby said tubular member can be removed from said body to facilitate closing said valve means and to facilitate loading said predetermined volume of additive into said dispenser.
3. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said tubular member is an integral portion of said body.
4. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the distal end of said tubular member is provided with a valve seat, said valve means comprises a weighted valve plug, and said body is provided with means for orienting said dispenser during said spin-empty portion of said cycle so that said weighted valve plug is displaced from said valve seat by centrifugal force during said spin-empty portion of said cycle.
5. The dispenser of claim 4 wherein said means for orienting comprises a sufficiently heavy weight secured to a portion of said body disposed diametrically opposite from said aperture.
6. The dispenser of claim 5 wherein said valve means comprises a bistable biasing member operatively connected to said valve plug so that said valve plug is operable between a biased closed position where said valve plug is seated on said valve seat, and a biased open position where said valve plug is displaced from said valve seat.