Patent application title: Airpot Lid Assembly
Hsu Jin Yu (Chenghai, CN)
IPC8 Class: AB65D3700FI
Class name: Dispensing resilient wall fluid pressure generating pump or pulsator and/or removable flexible wall closures
Publication date: 2009-04-30
Patent application number: 20090108026
An airpot beverage has a receptacle with an interior space capable of
holding a liquid and a top opening near an upper edge of the receptacle.
A lid assembly covers the top opening and has a lid cover, an actuator on
the lid cover, and a lid bottom. The lid cover and the lid bottom
together define an interior cavity within the lid assembly. A bellows
housing is defined within the interior cavity and forms a chamber
therein. A bellows is housed within the chamber and has a flexible
sidewall substantially and closely surrounded by the bellows housing. The
bellows is capable of being expanded and compressed. The bellows chamber
can change in size to accommodate compression and expansion of the
1. An airpot beverage container comprising:a receptacle with an interior
space capable of holding a liquid and a top opening near an upper edge of
the receptacle;a lid assembly that covers the top opening, the lid
assembly having a lid cover, an actuator on the lid cover, and a lid
bottom, the lid cover and the lid bottom together defining an interior
cavity within the lid assembly;a bellows housing defined within the
interior cavity and forming a chamber therein; anda bellows within the
chamber and having a flexible sidewall substantially and closely
surrounded by the bellows housing, the bellows capable of being expanded
and compressed and,wherein the bellows chamber can change in size to
accommodate compression and expansion of the bellows.
2. An airpot beverage container according to claim 1, wherein the bellows housing includes a bellows cap positioned on a top of the bellows and movable with the bellows as the bellows is compressed and expanded.
3. An airpot beverage container according to claim 2, wherein the bellows housing includes a movable annular wall projecting downward from the bellows cap and a fixed annular wall projecting upwardly from the lid bottom.
4. An airpot beverage container according to claim 3, wherein the movable annular wall telescopes relative to the fixed annular wall.
5. An airpot beverage container according to claim 4, wherein the movable annular wall telescopes inside the fixed annular wall.
6. An airpot beverage container according to claim 4, wherein the fixed annular wall telescopes inside the movable annular wall.
7. An airpot beverage container according to claim 1, wherein the bellows sidewall includes a plurality of convolutions.
8. An airpot beverage container according to claim 1, wherein the bellows housing is a circular cylinder capable of changing in height.
9. An airpot beverage container comprising:a receptacle having an interior space capable of holding a liquid and having a liquid outlet spout;a lid assembly defining an interior cavity;an actuator for pressurizing the interior space via compression of the bellows;a bellows housing in the interior cavity and having a first annular wall projecting downward and a second annular wall projecting upward, the first and second annular walls movable telescopically relative to one another; anda bellows chamber formed within the first and second annular walls; anda flexible bellows within the bellows chamber and closely surrounded by the first and second annular walls, wherein the bellows and the bellows chamber can expand and compress upon movement of the actuator.
10. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the first annular wall fits telescopically inside the second annular wall.
11. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the second annular wall fits telescopically inside the first annular wall.
12. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the bellows has a convoluted circumferential sidewall.
13. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the actuator is a lever on the lid assembly.
14. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the bellows housing is a circular cylinder.
15. An airpot beverage container according to claim 9, wherein the bellows housing has a bellows cap on a top of the bellows, the first annular wall depending from the bellows cap and the second annular wall projecting up from a surface of the lid assembly.
16. An airpot lid assembly for an airpot beverage container comprising:a lid cover having a top, a circumferential wall, a bottom, an interior cavity between the top and bottom within the circumferential wall, and an actuator on the lid cover;a bellows in the interior cavity and capable of expanding and of being compressed by movement of the actuator; anda bellows housing including an annular wall surrounding the bellows, wherein the annular wall can change in height as the bellows is compressed and expanded.
17. An airpot lid assembly according to claim 16, wherein the bellows has a convoluted sidewall
18. An airpot lid assembly according to claim 16, wherein the annular wall is a circular cylinder.
19. An airpot lid assembly according to claim 16, wherein the annular wall includes a fixed part and a movable part vertically and telescopically movable relative to one another.
20. An airpot lid assembly according to claim 19, wherein the fixed part projects up from a surface of the bottom of the lid and the movable part depends from a bellows cap on a top of the bellows.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Disclosure
The present disclosure is generally directed to beverage dispensers, and more particularly to a lid assembly for an airpot beverage dispenser.
2. Description of Related Art
Airpot beverage containers or dispensers are known in the art. Airpots are generally comprised of a wide-mouthed receptacle with a cavity that can contain a liquid such as a hot or cold beverage. Airpots typically have a lid with an actuator for pumping air into the receptacle above the liquid, which causes the beverage to be dispensed or discharged. Typically, an airpot functions to discharge a beverage from within the cavity upon operation of the actuator. In many airpots, pumping the actuator mechanism compresses a bellows inside the lid to force air from within the bellows into the cavity of the vessel. The increased air pressure inside the receptacle forces the liquid to be directed to and exit via a spout for dispensing.
Such a bellows is commonly formed of a flexible plastic or elastomer material in order to minimize the effort required to pressurize the airpot and selectively dispense the beverage contained therein. The bellows is commonly shaped with pleated, convoluted, corrugated, or crimped sidewalls and vertically collapses and expands during use. One problem with such airpots is that the force upon the bellows from the actuator and/or the pressure within the bellows can laterally deform the flexible pleats or convolutions. When the bellows laterally deforms, the pleats or convolutions can buckle, bind, or bulge outwardly, which can either reduce pumping efficiency or prevent further pumping altogether.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which:
FIG. 1 is one example of an airpot in an assembled configuration and having a lid constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the airpot lid shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the airpot lid assembly minus the cover and with the bellows in a fully expanded condition.
FIG. 4 is a cut away side view of the airpot lid assembly of FIG. 1 with the bellows in a compressed condition during use.
FIG. 5 is a cut away side view of the airpot lid assembly of FIG. 1 with the bellows in an expanded or uncompressed condition during use.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE
The present invention is directed to airpots for dispensing liquid beverages. The disclosed airpot lid assembly solves or improves upon one or more of the above-noted and other problems with known airpot lids. In one example, the disclosed airpot lid assembly reduces or eliminates the stability problem with the bellows that occurs in known airpot lids. In another example, the disclosed airpot lid assembly can yield consistent and complete pumping action of the lid assembly. The disclosed airpot lid assembly laterally or circumferentially confines the vertically collapsible bellows to inhibit or prevent binding or deformation of the pumping mechanism during use.
Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows an airpot 10 according to the present invention. The airpot 10 has a receptacle 12 for holding a beverage and an airpot lid assembly 14. The lid assembly has an actuator 16 on a top of the lid assembly that can be manipulated to pressurize the airpot 10.
The receptacle 12 is generally a vertically elongate vessel with an exterior wall 18, an interior liquid space 20, a closed bottom 22 at the lower end of the wall, and a top opening 24 surrounded by an upper edge 26 of the wall. The top opening 24 typically is a wide-mouth opening, but the top opening can vary. The receptacle 12 can be single walled or doubled walled and vacuum insulated. The receptacle 12 could be formed of molded plastic, glass, metal, or a combination thereof. The receptacle 12 has a known liquid dispensing tube or channel (not shown) in communication with a spout 27 through which the liquid may be dispensed from the space 20. The design of the receptacle 12 can vary and remain within the teachings of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows one example of the airpot lid assembly 14 constructed according to the teachings of the present invention. The lid assembly 14 in this example has a lid cover 32 with the actuator 16 carried on the lid cover. The lid assembly 14 also has a lid bottom 36 on the underside of the cover, and a flexible bellows 38 within the cover. The airpot lid assembly 14 according to the present disclosure covers the top opening 24 of the receptacle 12, as in FIG. 1, and couples to the upper edge 26 in a conventional manner. In this embodiment, the lid assembly 14 has a pair of spring biased latches 28 and buttons 30 configured to activate the latches 28. The latches and buttons are provided at a front end of the lid assembly 14 for attachment to and removal from the receptacle. A hinge 39 (see FIG. 4) can be provided to pivotally couple (not shown) the lid assembly to the rear of the receptacle 12. Other attachment arrangements are certainly within the spirit and scope of the present invention.
The lid cover 32 of FIG. 2 has a domelike shape that is primarily cylindrical with a slightly convex circular top 40, a relatively vertical circumferential sidewall 42 depending from the top, and a perimeter bottom edge 44 on the sidewall. When assembled, the bottom 22 attaches to and closes off the bottom edge of the cover. A downward extending recess 46 is formed into the top 40. The recess 46 and the actuator 16 are sized and shaped such that the actuator is mounted within the recess and can lay generally flush with the top 40 in a down position. A spout extension 34 renders a portion of the lid cover 32 non-circular or non-cylindrical and projects forward relative to the sidewall 40. The extension 34 is defined in part by extensions of the top 40 and the sidewall 42. The actuator 16 can be positioned within the recess 46 in the top 40 and oriented to align with the spout extension 34. The spout extension 34 has holes in the sidewall 42 sized so that the buttons 30 can extend outward and be pushed inward.
An interior lid cavity 48 of the cover 32 is defined within the general dome shape of the cover 32 within the sidewall 42 below the top 40. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the lid bottom 36 is generally flat and has a perimeter edge 52 that defines a generally circular portion 54 and an extended portion 56. The bottom is sized and shaped to be coupled to the bottom edge 44 of the lid cover 32 so as to enclose the interior cavity 48. The circular portion 54 of the lid bottom 36 also has a central circular depression 55 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. In the disclosed example, the lid bottom 36 has holes 58 in the extended portion 56. The latches 28 project below the lid bottom and are actuable via the buttons 30 to attach the lid assembly 14 to the receptacle. The latches 28 also can optionally serve to help fasten the lid cover 32 to the lid bottom 36. Furthermore, the outer edge 52 of the bottom can have notches 53, indents, recesses, or a combination thereof that are configured to engage mating components on the cover 32 to establish a secure connection between the bottom edge 44 of the lid cover 32 and the lid bottom 36.
Also revealed in FIGS. 2 and 3, the lid bottom 36 has an annular wall 60 that concentrically surrounds the depression 55 and projects upwardly within the circular portion 54 of the lid bottom 36. In the disclosed example, the annular wall 60 has a downward notch or cut out 62 adjacent the rear end of the lid assembly 14. The lid bottom 36 further has an outlet hole 63 that is concentrically aligned with the circular depression and concentric with the circular portion 54 and the annular wall 60.
FIG. 2 shows the components of the bellows 38. In this example, the bellows 38 has a bellows cap 64 positioned on a top 72, an inlet valve 66, and a spring 68 within the interior of the bellows. The bellows 38 also has a bottom 74 and a cylindrically-shaped pleated or convoluted sidewall 76. In this example, the sidewall 76 is pleated or convoluted but could be otherwise configured. The bellows 38 has a generally vertical axis A-A (see FIG. 3) oriented extending between the top 72 and bottom 74. The top 72 has a centrally located hole sized to receive the inlet valve 66. The bottom 74 has a circular indent on an inside surface 77. The spring 68 in this example is coaxially mounted along axis A-A inside the bellows 32. The spring 68 can be seated and held firmly in the indent 75 on the inside surface 77 of the bottom 74 by the force of the spring or with a snap-fit indent, or other suitable structure.
The bellows 38 further has a bellows outlet tube 70 with a through passage 71, which projects downwardly from the bottom 74. The outlet tube 70 fits through a hole 89 in an outlet gasket 88. The hole 89 in the gasket 88 is sized to snugly receive the tube 70. The gasket 88 has a groove formed on one end between a pair of spaced apart, radially extending annular flanges. The groove fits snugly in the outlet hole 63 of the lid bottom 36 and the flanges assist in retaining the gasket in place. The opposite end of the gasket extends beneath the bottom 36 and also has a groove between two flanges, which can be configured to connect with part of the receptacle if desired. When the bellows 38 including tube 70, the lid bottom 36, and the gasket 88 are assembled, the flanges on gasket 88 sits flat against either side of the circular depression 55 of the lid bottom 36 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, thereby forming an airtight seal around the outlet tube 70 of the bellows 38. When the assembled airpot lid 14 is coupled with the receptacle 12, the inside of the bellows 38 communicates with the interior liquid space 20 of the receptacle 12 by means of the passage 71 in the tube and the hole 89 in the gasket 88 in this example.
The bellows cap 64 has a generally flat disc 78 with a circular perimeter 80 and an annular wall 82 projecting downward from the perimeter. The cap 64 also has a circular ridge 84 around a hole 86 situated concentrically in the top 78. The cap hole 86 corresponds to a bellows inlet hole 79 that is centrally situated on the top 72 of the bellows. The inlet valve 66 has a flat disc-shaped top 65 and a downward projecting cylinder 67 that is sized to fit within the hole 86 84 of the cap 38. The spring 68 in this example is a cone shaped helix that seats inside the bellows 38 as described above and couples with the cylinder 67 of the inlet valve 66 through the inlet hole 79 and through the cap hole 86. In this example the cylinder is perforated to accept a top loop of the spring. When assembled, the inlet valve 66 seats through both the cap hole 86 and the bellows inlet hole 79. The configuration of the spring 68 is such that it biases the bellows 38 toward the expanded condition and biases the inlet valve 66 upward and away from the top of the bellows cap 64. During pumping action, the biasing force of the spring 68 is overcome and the inlet valve 66 is closed by the pumping force.
FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the airpot lid assembly with the lid cover 32 removed and the bellows 38 installed and fully expanded. The inlet valve 66 is in an open position and not seated on the ridge 84.
As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the actuator 16 in this example employs a series of connected levers with an actuation lever 90, a lock-release lever 92, and a pumping lever 94. The actuation lever 90 is pivotally attached to the lid cover 32 at a hinge end 93. The actuation lever 90 is retained in the recess 46 when in a stored configuration. The other end of the actuation lever 90 and the lock-release lever 92 are coupled together at a midpoint hinge 96. The lock-release lever 92 has a free end 97 which fits and pivots through an opening 91 in the actuation lever 90. The lock-release lever 92 can move from a position substantially parallel with the lever 90 to a position that is substantially perpendicular to the lever 90. The pumping lever 94 is pivotally attached to the lid cover 32 at an end 95. The pumping lever 94 engages the lock-release lever 92 at a midpoint protrusion 98. A pressing end 99 of the lock-release lever 92 a seats against the protrusion 98 on the pumping lever 94 in an in-use arrangement. When the lock-release lever 92 is engaged against the protrusion 98, the free end 97 and the actuation lever 90 are raised up from the recess 46 into a ready position. A pumping end 100 of the pumping lever 94 then bears against the top of the inlet valve 66 as shown in FIG. 5.
As shown in FIG. 2, when the end 99 of the lock-release lever 92 is not engaged against the protrusion 98, the lever 92 pivots to lie substantially parallel with the actuation lever 90 and is visible through opening 91. When the levers are in a storage condition the lock-release lever 97 is unseated from the protrusion 98. The lock release lever 97 can pivot about the midpoint 96 and all three lever components lay flat relative to each other, with the actuation lever 90 laying flat in the depression 46.
When the airpot pot lid assembly is in the ready state as shown in FIG. 5 and by the dashed lines of FIG. 4, the actuation lever 90 is raised and the pressing end 99 of the lock-release lever 92 bears against the midpoint protrusion 98 of the pumping lever 94. A user applies a downward force B to the actuator lever 16 to dispense a beverage from the airpot with the lever that is in this ready state. The force B is then transferred from the actuator lever 90 to rotate and move the lock-release lever 92 downward. The pressing end 99 transfers the force to the pumping lever 94, which in turn pivots and moves the pumping end 100 downward. The pumping end 100 closes the inlet valve 66 and collapses the bellows 38. The downward force of the actuator 16 on the bellows 38 closes the inlet valve 66 against the ridge 84 as the bellows 38 compresses. Air is forced out of the bellows 38 through the passage 71 of the outlet tube 70 and into the space 20 of the receptacle 12. The increased pressure in the receptacle 12 forces liquid out of the space 20 through the beverage spout.
When the force B is released, the resiliency of the bellows 38 and the upward bias of the spring 68 both opens the inlet valve 66 and expands the bellows 38. As the bellows expands, it is refilled with air drawn through the inlet valve 66 after each compression stroke. The airpot 10 is then ready for the user to repeat the pumping stroke with the actuator 16 and the actuation lever 90 returned to the ready state as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The actuator lever 16 can optionally be stowed flush with the cover 32 by moving the lock-release lever from the protrusion 98 back to a position parallel with the lever 90.
In an alternative embodiment the actuator can employ a push-button. The actuator 16 could be any suitable mechanism that is capable of transferring a force from the user to compress the bellows 24.
In accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the bellows 38 is confined within a bellows housing forming a chamber or space 83. The space in the disclosed example is comprised of a combination of the bellows cap 64 including the first annular wall 82 and the lid bottom 36 including the second annular wall 60. As in FIGS. 3-5, the space within the first and second annular walls 82 and 60 the second annular wall 60 create the expandable space or bellows chamber 83. The bellows housing and chamber 83 is vertically expandable but circumferentially confining. In this example, the annular wall 82 of the bellows cap 64 can telescopically move with respect to the stationary annular wall 60 of the lid bottom 36. In order to prevent binding or buckling of the bellows convolutions during compression, the walls 60 and 82 closely match the perimeter shape of the bellows sidewall 76. The bellows chamber 83 can change height as the bellows 38 expands and collapses or is compressed.
In this example, the diameter of the cap annular wall 82 is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bottom annular wall 60 on the lid bottom 36. Thus, the wall 82 slides or telescopes inside the wall 60. The bellows chamber 83 confines and supports the sidewall 76 of the bellows 38 and ensures that the pleated sides or the bellows body 24 do not deform laterally outward, which would otherwise reduce or prevent further pumping action. The cap annular wall 82 could alternatively be configured to slide or telescope over or exterior to the bottom annular wall 60 and yet remain within the teachings of the present invention. In this example, the annular walls 60 and 82 are circular in shape. However, the shape of the bellows sidewall 76 and each annular wall 60 and 82 can vary, for example, and be circumferentially non-circular. For example, each can be hexagonal, octagonal, oblong, or other suitable shape that can accommodate a like-configured bellows 38.
Although certain airpot lid assemblies and features have been described herein in accordance with the teachings of the present disclosure, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all embodiments of the teachings of the disclosure that fairly fall within the scope of permissible equivalents.
Patent applications by Sunchaser Corporation
Patent applications in class Fluid pressure generating pump or pulsator and/or removable flexible wall closures
Patent applications in all subclasses Fluid pressure generating pump or pulsator and/or removable flexible wall closures