Patent application title: EXTENDABLE RACK MOUNTING SYSTEM FOR AN OVEN APPLIANCE
Jonathan Kyle Sprigler (Louisville, KY, US)
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY
IPC8 Class: AF24C1516FI
126 19 R
Class name: Stoves cooking ovens
Publication date: 2013-05-16
Patent application number: 20130118471
An extendable oven rack mounting system for an oven appliance is
provided. The racks can be readily withdrawn, or inserted into, a cavity
of the oven appliance. One or more features are provided for securing the
racks within the oven cavity during use.
1. An oven with a rack system, the oven having a cavity with opposing
side walls, the oven comprising: a pair of frames, one each mounted in
opposing fashion on the side walls of the cavity, each frame having a
plurality of horizontal supports extending between a pair of vertical
supports; a plurality of oven rack assemblies positioned on the
horizontal supports, each oven rack assembly comprising: a pair of
extendable slide assemblies positioned at opposing ends of an oven rack,
each slide assembly supported by one of the horizontal supports, the pair
of slide assemblies having a pair of tabs positioned at a front of the
slide assemblies and projecting downwardly at a position proximate to the
horizontal supports so as to prevent the horizontal displacement of the
slide assemblies while still allowing extension of the oven rack from the
cavity; and wherein each vertical support includes a plurality of stops
projecting towards the side wall on an opposite side of the cavity, each
stop positioned above a rear of a respective slide assembly so as to
limit the upward movement of the slide assembly when a respective rack is
extended from the oven cavity.
2. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, further comprising a pair of stops, one each extending from one of the opposing sidewalls of the cavity and extending over the rear of the top pair of slide assemblies.
3. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, wherein said frames comprise elongated wire members.
4. An oven with a rack system as in claim 2, wherein said elongated members are coated.
5. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, wherein the oven racks define handles at the front of the racks.
6. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, wherein the horizontal supports project away from said vertical supports and outwardly into the oven cavity.
7. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, wherein each of pair of said slide assemblies further comprise a pair of slides attached to a pair of brackets, and wherein the pair of tabs of each said pair of slide assemblies extend downwardly from the front of the pair of brackets.
8. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of under-racks, wherein each said pair of brackets of said side slide assemblies are attached to opposing sides of a respective under-rack.
9. An oven with a rack system as in claim 8, wherein said under-racks remain stationary when the racks of said oven rack assemblies are extended out of the cavity.
10. An oven with a rack system as in claim 1, wherein said stops are orthogonal to said horizontal supports.
11. An oven rack and support system for positioning in the cooking cavity of an oven appliance, comprising: a plurality of oven rack assemblies, each assembly comprising a rack that is extendable from the cooking cavity; a pair of frames for positioning on opposing sidewalls of the oven appliance, wherein said oven rack assemblies extend between, and are supported by, said pair of frames, wherein each frame comprises a pair of vertical supports; a plurality of horizontal supports extending between and projecting from said pair of vertical supports; and a plurality of stops projecting from said vertical supports, said stops extending over a rear portion of said oven rack assemblies to as to limit a tilting movement of said oven rack assemblies when a respective rack is extended from the oven cavity.
12. An oven rack and support system as in claim 11, wherein each of said oven rack assemblies further comprise: pair of slides attached to opposing sides of the oven rack; and a pair of outer brackets attached to said pair of slides, each outer bracket having a tab that extends downwardly and is positioned proximate to a horizontal support so that contact between the tab and horizontal support limits the horizontal displacement of the rack assembly when a respective rack is extended from the oven cavity.
13. An oven rack and support system as in claim 12, wherein the tab of each outer bracket is positioned at a front portion of the outer bracket.
14. An oven rack and support system as in claim 12, further comprising a plurality of under-racks, wherein said pair of outer brackets of said oven rack assemblies are each attached to opposing sides of a respective under-rack.
15. An oven with a rack system as in claim 14, wherein said under-racks remain stationary when the racks of said oven rack assemblies are extended out of the cooking cavity.
16. An oven with a rack system as in claim 11, wherein said stops are orthogonal to said horizontal supports.
17. An oven with a rack system as in claim 11, wherein said frames comprise elongated wire members.
18. An oven with a rack system as in claim 17, wherein said elongated wire members are coated.
 This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/558,726, filed Nov. 11, 2011, which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The subject matter of the present disclosure relates generally to a rack mounting system for an oven appliance.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Conventional oven appliances are typically equipped with one or more racks located in the cooking chamber of the appliance. The interior walls of the oven cavity are provided with grooves into which the racks are received. The racks can slide back and forth on these grooves. Additionally, grooves at multiple levels may be provided so that a user of the appliance can adjust the height to accommodate utensils of various sizes and/or determine the distance between the utensil and one or more heating elements used for cooking food in the utensil.
 Movement of the racks within the grooves depends on a sliding movement by the rack across a surface of the interior wall that forms the oven cavity and defines the grooves. Thus, the amount of friction between the rack and this surface determines the level of difficulty a user may have in withdrawing or inserting the rack from the oven cavity. The rack and/or interior surface may be provided with coatings that provide protection or other desirable properties within the extreme temperatures of the oven cavity. However, these coatings may also increase the amount of friction encountered in sliding the racks in and out of the oven, requiring additional effort by a user attempting to move the racks.
 Additionally, the grooves of the oven rack may be provided with one or more features for limiting the sliding movement of the rack and/or prevent tilting of the rack when it is extended from the oven. The guides may include, for example, features that limit the amount by which the oven rack can be slid into or out of the oven. Some users may prefer to slide a rack out of the oven while leaving the cooking utensil in place on the rack. However, depending on the size of utensil and the guide's limit on how far the rack can be slid out of the oven cavity, this procedure may not provide enough room to e.g., view the interior of the cooking utensil and/or remove a top from the utensil. Also, the removal of the rack can be cumbersome due the shape of the guides and or positioning of the features that limit the overall movement and/or tiling of the rack.
 Accordingly, an oven appliance having one or more racks for holding cooking utensils and/or food during the cooking process would be useful. More particularly, an oven appliance having one or more racks that can be extended, without undesirable tilting, from the interior of the oven cavity in order to improve access to the rack would be beneficial. An oven rack that can reduce the friction or effort to insert or withdraw the rack from the cavity would also be useful. An oven rack system that can employ multiple racks that are readily removable and/or positionable within the oven cavity would be particularly beneficial.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures, in which:
 FIG. 1 provides a front view of an exemplary embodiment of an oven as may be used with the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of the cavity or cooking chamber of the oven of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a front view of an exemplary embodiment of a frame or ladder system as may be used to support one or more oven racks according to the present invention.
 FIG. 4 is side view of the exemplary frame of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the exemplary frame of FIG. 3.
 FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a rack assembly as may be used with the oven of FIGS. 1 and 2.
 FIG. 7 is an end view of a portion of an exemplary embodiment of an oven rack assembly and frame as mounted to the interior wall of an oven.
 FIG. 8 is a side view of a portion of the exemplary embodiment of an oven rack assembly and frame as shown in FIG. 7.
 FIG. 9 is a side view of an exemplary embodiment of multiple rack assemblies mounted to a frame support system.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides an extendable oven rack mounting system for an oven appliance. The racks can be readily withdrawn, or inserted into, a cavity of the oven appliance. One or more features are provided that can be used for securing rack assemblies within the oven cavity during use including features that can prevent tilting and horizontal displacement of the rack assembly. Height adjustability of the racks can also be provided. Reference now will be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.
 Referring to FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of an oven 100 according to the present invention is shown. FIG. 1 provides a front view of oven 100 while FIG. 2 provides a partial perspective view into the cooking chamber or cavity 116 into which an oven rack and support system 117 has been installed. Cooking chamber 116 is defined by interior walls including opposing side walls 118, bottom wall 119, and top wall 121. Multiple oven racks 132 are positioned within cavity 116, the support of which will be further described.
 Oven 100 includes a door 104 with handle 106 that provides for opening and closing access to a cooking chamber 116. A user of the appliance 100 can place a variety of different items to be cooked in chamber 116. Cooking chamber 116 is equipped with an extendable rack mounting system 117 for racks 132 as will be further described herein. One or more heating elements (not shown) can be positioned e.g., at the top of chamber 116 to provide heat for cooking and cleaning Such heating element(s) can be e.g., gas, electric, microwave, or a combination thereof. Other heating elements could be located at the bottom of chamber 116 as well. A window 110 on door 104 allows the user to view e.g., food items during the cooking process. For purposes of cooling, vent 108 allows for an inflow of ambient air into a ventilation system while vent 134 allows for the outflow of such air after it has been heated by oven 100.
 Oven 100 includes a user interface 102 having a display 103 positioned on top panel 114 with a variety of controls 112. Interface 102 allows the user to select various options for the operation of oven 100 including e.g., temperature, time, and/or various cooking and cleaning cycles. Operation of oven appliance 100 can be regulated by a controller (not shown) that is operatively coupled i.e., in communication with, user interface panel 102, heating element(s), and other components of oven 100 as will be further described.
 For example, in response to user manipulation of the user interface panel 102, the controller can operate heating element(s). The controller can receive measurements from a temperature sensor (not shown) placed in cooking chamber 116 and e.g., provide a temperature indication to the user with display 103. By way of example, the controller may include a memory and one or more processing devices such as microprocessors, CPUs or the like, such as general or special purpose microprocessors operable to execute programming instructions or micro-control code associated with operation of appliance 100. The memory may represent random access memory such as DRAM, or read only memory such as ROM or FLASH. In one embodiment, the processor executes programming instructions stored in memory. The memory may be a separate component from the processor or may be included onboard within the processor.
 The controller may be positioned in a variety of locations throughout appliance 100. In the illustrated embodiment, the controller may be located under or next to the user interface 102 or otherwise within top panel 114. In such an embodiment, input/output ("I/O") signals are routed between the controller and various operational components of appliance 100 such as heating element(s), controls 112, display 103, sensor(s), alarms, and/or other components as may be provided. In one embodiment, the user interface panel 102 may represent a general purpose I/O ("GPIO") device or functional block.
 Although shown with touch type controls 112, it should be understood that controls 112 and the configuration of appliance 100 shown in FIG. 1 is provided by way of example only. More specifically, user interface 102 may include various input components, such as one or more of a variety of electrical, mechanical or electro-mechanical input devices including rotary dials, push buttons, and touch pads. The user interface 102 may include other display components, such as a digital or analog display device designed to provide operational feedback to a user. The user interface 102 may be in communication with the controller via one or more signal lines or shared communication busses. Also, oven 100 is shown as a wall oven but the present invention could also be used with other appliances such as e.g., a stand-alone oven, an oven with a stove-top, and other configurations as well.
 Referring now to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, front view and side views of an exemplary embodiment of a frame or ladder 120 as may be used to support one or more oven racks 132 according to the present invention are illustrated. A perspective view of frame 120 is shown in FIG. 5. Frame 120 includes a plurality of horizontal supports 122 that extend from vertical supports 124. As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 4, horizontal supports 122 extend away from vertical supports 124 and into oven cavity 116. Each vertical support 124 has two tabs 126, one each positioned near the top 143 and bottom 145 of vertical support 124. Tabs 126 each include an aperture 127 (FIG. 3) for attachment using a fastener to a respective side wall 118 of oven 100. For this exemplary embodiment, a pair of frames 120 is mounted within cavity 116--one each along the opposing side walls 118. As will be further described, horizontal supports 122 can be used to provide support for an extendable rack. For the exemplary embodiment shown in the figures, five racks can be supported at five different levels within cavity 116. The levels are provided by opposing horizontal supports 122--one each extending from a frame 120 positioned on opposing sides walls 118.
 Frame 120 is provided by way of example, and other configurations may be used as well. For example, a different number of horizontal supports 122 may be employed for more or less racks as desired. Frame 120 can be constructed from elongated wire members that are welded together as shown. One or more coatings may also be applied to protect frame 120 from the extreme temperature conditions that can be encountered in oven 100. Other materials may also be used to construct frame 120.
 FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of an oven rack assembly 128, one or more of which may be used with the oven of FIGS. 1 and 2. As shown, oven rack assembly 128 includes rack 132, a pair of slide assemblies (further described below), and under-rack 144. For this exemplary embodiment, rack assembly 132 is constructed from elongated rods 133 that are joined together to provide a shelf or baking surface for the receipt of food items and/or cooking utensils. As with frame 120, the elongated rods may be coated with one or more materials for e.g., protection from oven temperatures and easier cleaning
 Rack 132 includes a handle 146 for use in inserting or removing rack 132 from chamber 116. Loops 148 and 150 can serve to prevent items from sliding off the back of rack 132 and as additional handles for rack 132. The shape and configuration of rack 132 as shown in FIG. 6 is exemplary only--other configurations may be used as well including e.g., different materials for the construction of the rack 132 other than elongated rods 133.
 As stated, each opposing side 165 and 167 of rack 132 is attached to a slide assembly that, for this exemplary embodiment, includes an inner bracket (152 or 154), slide (136 or 138), and outer bracket (140 or 142). More specifically, each rack 132 is connected as shown in FIG. 6 to inner brackets 152 and 154. In turn, inner brackets 152 and 154 are attached to slides 136 and 138 on opposing sides 165 and 167 of rack 132, respectively. Slides 136 and 138 are attached to outer brackets 140 and 142, respectively.
 The construction of slides 136 and 138 facilitates the insertion, extension, and removal of rack 132 from cavity 116 with less effort than conventional designs where a rack slides on a surface of the oven wall. For example, slides 136 and 138 can be configured with one or more ball bearings to reduce friction from sliding movement. Slides 136 and 138 can also allow for a full extension of rack 132 from cavity 116 for more complete access to food and/or utensils placed on rack 132.
 Slides 136 and 138 are attached to an under-rack 144. More particularly, slide 136 is attached to outer bracket 140 while slide 138 is attached to outer bracket 142. Outer brackets 140 and 142 are connected to under-rack 144. Under-rack 144 is constructed from parallel elongated members 156 and a support 157 that extends within elongated members 156 as shown.
 Rack assembly 128 can be placed onto the opposing pair of frames 120 that are attached to opposing walls 118 within oven chamber 116. In such position, each bracket 140 and 142 is placed onto a horizontal support 122 within cavity 116 of oven 100. As desired by a user, multiple rack assemblies 128 can be placed on, and supported by, horizontal supports 122 as shown in FIG. 9. A user could, for example, use a rack assembly on each level provided by horizontal supports 122 as illustrated. Alternatively, the user can select just one of the levels provided by a pair of opposing horizontal supports 122 as desired for cooking The user could then place a rack assembly 128 at such level and remove one or all of rack assemblies from any of the other levels.
 Returning to FIG. 6, locking tabs 158 and 160 extend downwardly from front portions of outer brackets 140 and 142 as shown in FIG. 6. As such, tabs 158 and 160 can make contact with the curved end portions 123 (FIGS. 3 and 5) of horizontal supports 122 (see FIGS. 3 and 9) to limit horizontal displacement of a respective oven rack assembly 128. More specifically, tabs 158 and 160 prevent the entire rack assembly from sliding out of the oven when the user pulls on rack 132 to slide it out of cavity 116. However, by lifting up on the entire rack assembly 132 using e.g., handle 146 and loops 148, 150, the user can raise any particular rack assembly 132 out of a pair of frames 120 and remove the same from oven cavity 116 as desired.
 FIG. 7 is an end view of one corner of rack assembly 128 positioned on frame 120, as would be observed from the rear of cavity 116 along one of the walls 118 forming oven chamber 116. FIG. 8 is a side view of another corner of rack assembly 128 as positioned on frame 120. As shown, outer bracket 140 (and 142) rest on the horizontal supports 122 provided by frames 120 that are mounted on opposing walls 118.
 When a user withdraws a rack 132 from cavity 116, a moment is created that will attempt to lift the rear portion of rack assembly 128 as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 in an upward direction U. This moment will be increased by the weight of a food item and/or cooking utensil placed on rack 132. Also, the amount by which rack 132 is extended from cavity 116 will also increase this moment.
 Accordingly, each vertical support 124 is provided with a stop 162 that extends over the rear portions of outer bracket 140 and outer bracket 142 on each side of rack assembly 128. For the exemplary embodiment, stops 162 are project outwardly form an opposing side wall, into oven cavity 116, and are orthogonal to horizontal supports 122. By way of example, stop 162 can be a metal sheet or other element that is welded to vertical support 124. Stop 162 operates to prevent the movement of rack assembly 128 along upward direction U when rack 132 is extended from the oven cavity 116. At the same time, stop 162 does not prevent a user from removing rack assembly 128 from oven 100 by sliding assembly 128 along horizontal supports 122 and out from under stop 162. As will be understood by one of skill in the art using the teachings disclosed herein, a variety of other configurations shapes may be used for stops 162 as well.
 For the top-most rack assembly 128 in oven 100, a stop 175 is located on each opposing side wall 118 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 9. Stop 175 extends over the rear portion of each of the slide assemblies associated with the top-most rack assembly 128. Other configurations can be used to provide stop 175 as well. For example, frame 120 can also be equipped to provide a stop for the top-most rack assembly 128.
 This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they include structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.
Patent applications by GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY
Patent applications in class Ovens
Patent applications in all subclasses Ovens