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Title:
BRUSH HEAD ARRANGEMENTS AND MANUFACTURING METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/158370
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A brush head (100) having a neck (40) with a platen portion (42), a plurality of bristle tufts (21) inserted in retention elements (52) in a carrier element (50), the carrier element being secured to the platen portion with at least one pin (60), wherein at least a portion of the platen, carrier plate, retention elements and bristle tufts are secured in a flexible material matrix (30).

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Inventors:
MEIDL, Michael (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
KOPEINIG, Florian (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
STOEFFLER, Friedrich (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
SCHRATTER, Bernhard (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
REINISCH, Peter (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Application Number:
EP2019/052454
Publication Date:
August 22, 2019
Filing Date:
February 01, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS N.V. (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
International Classes:
A46B9/04; A46B1/00; A46B3/02; A46B3/04; A46B3/06; A46B7/00; A46B7/04; A46B9/06; A46D3/00; A46D3/04
Foreign References:
EP2512286A12012-10-24
EP1713413A12006-10-25
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FREEKE, Arnold et al. (Philips International B.V. – Intellectual Property & Standards, High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A brush head (100) for a toothbrush, comprising:

a neck (40) having a platen portion (42);

at least one carrier plate (50) having at least one retention element (52) therein;

a plurality of bristle tufts (21) comprising a plurality of bristle strands, at least one of which is inserted into the at least one retention element, retained at its proximal end by the formation of a proximal end head portion (26) of the bristle tuft;

at least one pin (60) securing the carrier plate to the platen portion; and

a flexible material matrix (30) formed by injecting a flexible material around at least a portion of the platen, carrier plate, retention elements and proximal end head portion of bristle tuft.

2. The brush head of claim 1, wherein the at least one pin projects upwardly from the platen portion and the carrier plate is secured thereon by means of openings (51) in the at least one carrier plate.

3. The brush head of claim 1, wherein the at least one pin (60) projects from a back side of the at least one carrier plate and is secured to the platen portion.

4. The brush head of claim 2, wherein the at least one pin is secured to the platen portion by means of an adhesive.

5. The brush head of claim 3, wherein the at least one pin is secured in an opening or slot (43) in the platen portion.

6. The brush head of claim 5, wherein the at least one pin is secured in the opening or slot by means of an adhesive.

7. The brush head of claim 5, wherein the at least one pin is secured in the opening or slot by means of application of heat to melt at least a portion of the at least one pin.

8. The brush head of claim 1, wherein the at least one pin is secured to the carrier plate and platen portion by adhesive means.

9. The brush head of claim 1, wherein the at least one pin is secured to the carrier plate and platen portion by melting means.

10. A method for manufacturing a brush head assembly (100), the method comprising the steps of:

providing a neck (40) having a platen portion (42);

providing at least one carrier plate (50) having at least one retention element (52) therein;

inserting at least one bristle tuft (21) comprised of a plurality of bristle strands into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate;

securing the at least one bristle tuft into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof;

securing the at least one carrier plate to the platen portion with at least one pin (60); and positioning the platen portion in relation to the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft, wherein the positioning of the platen portion in relation to the at least one carrier plate to define a space therebetween for injection of a flexible material to form a flexible material matrix (30) around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one pin, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft.

11. A brush head (100) for a toothbrush, comprising:

a neck (40) having a platen portion (42) with a lip (45);

at least one carrier plate (50) having at least one retention element (52) therein, an outer rim, and at least one arm (53) descending downwardly from the outer rim of the at least one carrier plate;

a plurality of bristle tufts (21) comprised of a plurality of bristle strands, at least one of which is inserted into the at least one retention element, retained at its proximal end by the formation of a proximal end head portion (26) of the bristle tuft;

wherein the at least one arm on the at least one carrier plate is slidable around the lip on the platen portion and holds the at least one carrier plate and the platen portion together; and a flexible material matrix (30) formed by injecting a flexible material around at least a portion of the platen portion, the lip, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one arm, the at least one retention element and the proximal end head portion of the bristle tuft to secure the components together.

12. A method for manufacturing a brush head assembly (100), the method comprising the steps of:

providing a neck (40) having a platen portion (42), the platen portion having at least one protrusion;

providing at least one carrier plate (50) having at least one retention element (52) therein;

inserting at least one bristle tuft (21) comprised of a plurality of bristle strands into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate;

securing the at least one bristle tuft into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof;

positioning the at least one carrier plate in contact with the at least one protrusion of the platen portion; and

forming a flexible matrix (30) around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one protrusion, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft to connect the at least one carrier plate and the platen portion.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein forming the flexible matrix comprises providing a force from the platen portion to the at least one carrier plate by the at least one protrusion.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the at least one protrusion comprises at least one rib extending along a length of the platen portion.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein the at least one protrusion comprises at least one rib extending along a width of the platen portion.

Description:
BRUSH HEAD ARRANGEMENTS AND MANUFACTURING METHOD

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/630,459 filed on February 14, 2018, which application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Field of the Invention

[0002] The present disclosure is directed generally to an improved brush head, and more particularly, to the arrangement, structure, securement, and resulting function of bristle tufts in a brush head assembly with bristle tufts retained within a flexible material matrix.

Background

[0003] Brush heads used with manual and power brushes, which have bristle tufts contained within retention elements seated within a brush head, are known. One or more bristle tufts are inserted in retention elements joined together in a carrier plate, and the proximal portion of the bristles are joined together to form a proximal end head portion to secure the bristles in the retention elements, which along with the brush neck, are surrounded and secured together by an injection molded flexible material, which is then allowed to cool in order to form the final brush head. One problem with this type of brush head is that the flexible material can dissolve when exposed to essential oils and/or under the dynamic conditions of motion induced by the power brush operation, for example, over time the retention elements, bristle tufts or molded flexible material tend to separate from the brush head.

[0004] Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved method of securing the retention elements to the brush head, especially for use with power brushes.

Summary of the Invention

[0005] The present disclosure is directed to an inventive arrangement, structure, securement, and resulting function of bristle tufts in a brush head. Various embodiments and implementations herein are directed to a brush head formed from a carrier plate having a plurality of hollow retention elements, which can be of differing sizes and shapes disposed therein. Each retention element includes at least one bristle tuft retained therein. The bristle tufts are secured in the retention elements in the carrier plate. The carrier plate is then secured to the brush neck, either by means of one or more pins that protrude from the front of the brush neck and onto which the carrier plate is secured, or one or more pins that protrude from the rear side of the carrier plate and are secured into openings in the brush neck. The carrier plate, along with the brush neck, are surrounded and secured together by an injection molded flexible material, which is then allowed to cool in order to form the final brush head. The one or more pins secure the carrier plate to the brush neck while still providing flexibility and movement of the bristle tufts during operation of the brush head.

[0006] It should be appreciated that all combinations of the foregoing concepts and additional concepts discussed in greater detail below (provided such concepts are not mutually inconsistent) are contemplated as being part of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. In particular, all combinations of claimed subject matter appearing at the end of this disclosure are contemplated as being part of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein.

[0007] Generally, in one aspect, a brush head for a toothbrush is provided. The brush head includes a neck having a platen portion, at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein, and a plurality of bristle tufts comprising a plurality of bristle strands. At least one bristle tuft is inserted into the at least one retention element, retained at its proximal end by the formation of a proximal end head portion of the bristle tuft. The brush head further includes at least one pin securing the carrier plate to the platen portion and a flexible material matrix formed by injecting a flexible material around at least a portion of the platen, carrier plate, retention elements and proximal end head portion of bristle tuft.

[0008] In various embodiment, the at least one pin projects upwardly from the platen portion and the carrier plate is secured thereon by means of openings in the at least one carrier plate.

[0009] In various embodiments, the at least one pin projects from a back side of the at least one carrier plate and is secured to the platen portion.

[0010] In various embodiments, the at least one pin is secured to the platen portion by means of an adhesive.

[0011] In various embodiments, the at least one pin is secured in an opening or slot in the platen portion and the at least one pin is secured in the opening or slot by means of an adhesive. The at least one pin can be secured in the opening or slot by means of application of heat to melt at least a portion of the at least one pin alternatively or additionally. [0012] In various embodiments, the at least one pin can be secured to the carrier plate and platen portion by adhesive means. The at least one pin can be secured to the carrier plate and platen portion by melting means alternatively or additionally.

[0013] Generally, in another aspect, a brush head for a toothbrush is provided. The brush head includes a neck having a platen portion with a lip and at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein, an outer rim, and at least one arm descending downwardly from the outer rim of the at least one carrier plate. The brush head further includes a plurality of bristle tufts comprised of a plurality of bristle strands, at least one of which is inserted into the at least one retention element, retained at its proximal end by the formation of a proximal end head portion of the bristle tuft. The at least one arm on the at least one carrier plate is slidable around the lip on the platen portion and holds the at least one carrier plate and the platen portion together. The brush head also includes a flexible material matrix formed by injecting a flexible material around at least a portion of the platen portion, the lip, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one arm, the at least one retention element and the proximal end head portion of the bristle tuft to secure the components together.

[0014] Generally, in still another aspect, a method for manufacturing a brush head assembly is provided. The method includes providing a neck having a platen portion and providing at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein. The method further includes inserting at least one bristle tuft comprised of a plurality of bristle strands into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate and securing the at least one bristle tuft into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof. The method further includes securing the at least one carrier plate to the platen portion with at least one pin and positioning the platen portion in relation to the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft. The positioning of the platen portion in relation to the at least one carrier plate defines a space therebetween for injection of a flexible material to form a flexible material matrix around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one pin, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft.

[0015] Generally, in a further aspect, a method for manufacturing a brush head assembly is provided. The method includes providing a neck having a platen portion, the platen portion having at least one protrusion and providing at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein. The method further includes inserting at least one bristle tuft comprised of a plurality of bristle strands into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate and securing the at least one bristle tuft into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof. The method further includes positioning the at least one carrier plate in contact with the at least one protrusion of the platen portion and forming a flexible matrix around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one protrusion, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft to connect the at least one carrier plate and the platen portion.

[0016] In various embodiments, forming the flexible matrix comprises providing a force from the platen portion to the at least one carrier plate by the at least one protrusion.

[0017] In various embodiments, the at least one protrusion comprises at least one rib extending along a length of the platen portion. The at least one protrusion can also comprise at least one rib extending along a width of the platen portion alternatively.

[0018] These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiment(s) described hereinafter.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0019] In the drawings, like reference characters generally refer to the same parts throughout the different views. Also, the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead generally being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.

[0020] FIG. 1 is a partially transparent side view representation of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0021] FIG. 2 is a perspective bottom/back side view schematic representation of the brush head assembly of FIG. 1 in accordance with an embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 3A is a partially transparent front view assembly of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0023] FIG. 3B is a partially transparent rear side perspective view assembly of the brush head shown in FIG. 3A in accordance with an embodiment.

[0024] FIG. 3C is a partially transparent side view assembly of a brush head assembly in accordance with another embodiment.

[0025] FIG. 3D is a partially transparent cross-sectional view of the brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment taken generally along line 3D-3D in FIG. 3C. [0026] FIG. 3E is a partially transparent cross-sectional view of a brush head assembly in accordance with another embodiment.

[0027] FIGS. 4A and 4B are partially assembled views of brush head assemblies in accordance with embodiments.

[0028] FIGS. 5 A through 5E are exploded views of various arrangements of brush head assemblies in accordance with embodiments.

[0029] FIG. 6 A is a partially assembled view of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0030] FIG. 6B is a partially transparent side view assembly of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0031] FIG. 6C is a partially assembled view of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0032] FIG. 6D is a partially assembled view of a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0033] FIG. 7 is a partially transparent side view assembly of a brush head assembly during production in accordance with an embodiment.

[0034] FIG. 8 is a flowchart of a method for manufacturing a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

[0035] FIG. 9 is a flowchart of a method for manufacturing a brush head assembly in accordance with an embodiment.

Detailed Description of Embodiments

[0036] The present disclosure describes various embodiments of an improved brush head for dental cleaning. More generally, Applicants have recognized and appreciated that it would be beneficial to provide a brush head formed from a carrier plate having a plurality of hollow retention elements, which can be of differing sizes and shapes disposed therein. Each retention element has at least one bristle tuft inserted therein. The bristle tufts are secured into the retention element. The carrier plate is then secured to the brush neck, by means of one or more pins that protrude from the front of the brush neck and onto which the carrier plate is secured, by means of one or more pins that protrude from the rear side of the carrier plate and are secured into an opening in the brush neck, or by means of an injection molded flexible material connecting the carrier plate and the brush neck without any mechanical interlock between the carrier plate and the brush neck. In embodiments including a mechanical interlock between the carrier plate and the brush neck, the carrier plate, along with the brush neck, are surrounded and secured together by an injection molded flexible material, which is then allowed to cool in order to form the final brush head. The one or more pins secure the carrier plate to the brush neck while still providing flexibility and movement of the bristle tufts during operation of the brush head. In embodiments with the injection molded flexible material as the sole means for connecting the carrier plate and the brush neck, one or more protrusions are provided on the neck to provide an improved method of manufacturing while still providing flexibility and movement of the bristle tufts during operation of the brush head.

[0037] A particular goal of utilization of the embodiments of the present disclosure is the ability of the embodiments of the improved brush head to provide improved adherence between the brush neck, and the carrier plate and the bristle tufts positioned therein. A further goal is to provide an improved anchor free production process for toothbrushes. Another goal is to provide improved and more complete teeth cleaning.

[0038] In view of the foregoing, various embodiments and implementations are directed to an apparatus in which a brush head is formed from a carrier plate having a plurality of hollow retention elements, which can be of differing sizes and shapes disposed therein. Each hollow retention element has at least one bristle tuft retained therein. The brush head also includes a brush head neck. The carrier plate with the bristle tufts retained therein is secured to the brush neck by means of one or more pins that join the two components together or an injection molded flexible material. At least a portion of the brush neck, carrier plate and bristle tufts, and one or more optional pins are encapsulated and joined together with a flexible material injection molded around the components.

[0039] Brush Head Assemblies

[0040] Referring to FIGS. 1 through 3 A, in one embodiment, a brush head assembly 100 is provided. More particularly, the brush head assembly 100 can include, but is not limited to, a flexible material matrix 30. A plurality of individual bristle tufts 21, each of which includes a plurality of bristle strands, are retained within at least one retention element 52 in the carrier plate 50 disposed in the flexible material matrix 30. A portion of the brush head neck 40, called a platen 42, is also at least partially enclosed in the flexible material matrix 30. The carrier plate 50 is connected and secured to the neck platen 42 by means of one or more pins 60. The pin(s) 60 may protrude upwardly from the neck platen, or rearwardly from the carrier plate, or both. The pins 60 that protrude upwardly from the platen 42 may be a formed part of the platen 42, or may be secured to the front surface of the platen (e.g., bonding through heat and pressure), or may be secured into an opening 43 in the platen 42 by heat, glue, or other bonding means. Alternatively, or additionally, the pin(s) may be formed from and descend from the rear or side of the carrier plate 50, or may be a separate component secured to the carrier plate and/or retention element by heat, glue or other bonding means, or may be secured in one or more openings or slots in the carrier plate. The pin(s) are used to secure the carrier plate (e.g., 50), and the bristle tufts secured in the retention elements therein, to the neck platen (e.g., 42) to ensure the parts remain secured together during operation of the brush. Even if the flexible matrix described herein dissolves, the bristles do not fall out due to the mechanical connection between the carrier plate and the neck. The pins on the platen can be fixated to the carrier plate via a heat piston, for example. The pins on the carrier plate can be fixated to the platen via a heat piston or any suitable alternative.

[0041] Although the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 3A includes four pins, embodiments can include two or more pins. The two or more pins can be any shape, including but not limited to, cylindrical, conical, frustoconical, rectangular, or polygonal depending on the design of the bristle tufts. The two or more pins can have a smooth exterior surface from top to bottom, or the pins can have different thicknesses at different heights (e.g., a stepped configuration). The two or more pins can have a constant thickness or varying thickness (e.g., tapering).

[0042] Referring to FIG. 2, in one embodiment, a perspective assembled bottom/back side view of a brush head assembly 100 is provided. The neck 40 is shown, which has platen portion 42. The opposite end of the neck 40 from the platen can be coupled to any manual brush shaft, or, more preferably, to any actuator and drive shaft (not shown) made or suitable for powered oral care devices now known or to be developed. At least one gate 41 is shown on the back side of the neck 40. The gate 41 is used for the injection molding of the material that forms the flexible material matrix 30, described further below.

[0043] Referring to FIG. 3A, in one embodiment, a partially see-through view of a brush head assembly 100 is provided. This view shows several retention elements 52 disposed in the flexible material matrix 30. Each individual retention element has at least one bristle tuft 21 contained therein. As can be seen, the retention elements 52 can be of a different shape and size. The gate 41 in the brush neck through which the flexible material was injected to form the flexible material matrix 30 is shown. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3B, the pins 60 used to secure the carrier plate 50 to the brush neck platen 42 can be seen. In this embodiment, pins 60 are extending from the carrier plate 50 and through openings in the platen 42. In contrast, in FIG. 3A, pins 60 are extending from the platen 42 through openings in the carrier plate 50. The connection can be done in either manner as described or otherwise envisioned herein.

[0044] Referring to FIG. 3C, another embodiment is shown, in which the carrier plate 50 has one or more arms 53 that descend from the carrier plate side or bottom that hold the carrier plate to a lip 45 that extends around at least a portion of the platen 42. The arms 53 on the carrier plate slide around the lip 45 to hold the carrier plate a prescribed distance away from the platen. Another view of this embodiment can be seen in FIG. 5E. The distance between the carrier plate and the platen can be filled with the flexible material matrix to allow flexibility and movement of the bristle tufts during operation of the brush head. The one or more arms 53 can be used in lieu of or in addition to the one or more pins described herein. This embodiment can also be seen in FIG. 3D. In this embodiment, the carrier plate 50 has an arm on either side of the carrier plate and the lip of the platen extends all the way around the platen.

[0045] Referring to FIG. 3E, another embodiment is shown, in which the carrier plate 50 has one or more arms 53A that descend from the carrier plate bottom. The one or more arms 53A hold the carrier plate to a slot or channel that extends at least partially along the platen. The slot or channel can open out at the front or rear end of the platen so that the arm 53A of the carrier plate can be inserted into the front or rear end, respectively, and slid along the length of the slot or channel until the arm contacts the end of the slot or channel. It can be appreciated that yet another variation of this arrangement is one wherein the arm protrudes upwardly from the front side of the platen 42 and the carrier plate 50 includes a slot that extends along part of the length of the carrier plate to receive the arm. In any of these arrangements, the arm(s) can be a formed part of the platen 42 or carrier plate 50, or can be a separate component that is secured to the platen and carrier plate. An embodiment in which the carrier plate has a pin that descends from the carrier plate and the platen has a slot to receive the pin is shown in FIG. 5D. The arm shown in FIG. 3E can slide just as the pin can slide in the embodiment shown in FIG. 5D.

[0046] Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, partially assembled brush head assemblies 100 in accordance with some embodiments are shown. A plurality of individual bristle tufts 21, are retained within the retention elements 52 in the carrier plate 50. The carrier plate 50 is connected and secured to the neck platen 42 by means of one or more pins 60. For example, ultrasonic welding or hot stamping can be used to secure the pins in openings in the carrier plate. The ultrasonic welding or hot stamping can be performed at the top surface of the carrier plate. Once connected, the pins secure the carrier plate, and the bristle tufts secured in the retention elements therein, to the neck platen to ensure the parts remain secured together during operation of the brush. As shown in FIG. 4A, the pin(s) 60 may protrude from the back side of the carrier plate 50. The pins 60 can be secured into openings or slots 43 in the platen 42 by heat, adhesive, or other bonding means. As shown in FIG. 4B, the pins 60 can be a formed part of the platen 42 that secure into openings 51 in the carrier plate 50. Alternatively, the pins 60 may be secured to the front surface of the platen, or may be secured into an opening 43 in the platen 42 by heat, glue, or other bonding means. In yet another arrangement (not shown), the one or more pins 60 are separate from both the carrier plate 50 and the platen 42, but are similarly used to secure the components together. The one or more pins can be embodied as a nail and the nail can be placed through the top of carrier plate and into the neck platen 42 or through the bottom of the neck platen and into the carrier plate.

[0047] In another arrangement, the pin 60 descends from the carrier plate 50, and is slid into a slot 43 that extends at least partially along the length of the platen, that opens out at the front end of the platen so the pin 60 of the carrier plate can be inserted into the front end of the slot and slid along the length of slot 43 until the pin contacts the back wall of the slot. This embodiment can also be seen in FIG. 5D. In a further embodiment, the slot can open at the rear end of the platen so that the pin can be inserted into the back end of the slot and slid along the length of the slot. In still further embodiments, the platen can include two or more slots that start at the front or the back.

[0048] In subsequent steps of the manufacturing method, after the carrier plate has been secured to the brush neck platen 42, the components will be encapsulated in a flexible material matrix, as can be seen in FIGS. 5A through 5E. FIG. 5A is an exploded view of the brush head assembly of FIG. 4A where the pins protrude downwardly from the back side of the carrier plate 50 and are secured into openings 43 in the platen 42. Once secured together, the components are encapsulated with a flexible material matrix 30. FIG. 5B is an exploded view of the brush head assembly of FIG. 4B wherein the pins protrude upwardly from the front of the neck platen 42 and are secured into openings 51 in the carrier plate 50. The pin(s) are used to secure the carrier plate, and the bristle tufts secured in the retention elements therein, to the neck platen to ensure the parts remain secured together during operation of the brush. FIG. 5C is an exploded view of the brush head assembly that is a variation of that shown in FIG. 5A, wherein a single pin or nose protrudes downwardly from the back side of the carrier plate 50 and is secured into an opening 43 in the platen 42.

[0049] FIG. 5D shows yet another variation of this arrangement in which the opening in the platen 42 is a slot 43. The pin 60 descends from the bottom of the carrier plate 50, and is slid into a slot 43 that extends along part of the length of the platen 42, that opens out at the front end of the platen so the pin 60 of the carrier plate can be inserted into the opening at the front end of the slot 43 and slid along the length of slot until the pin contacts the back wall of the slot. It can be appreciated that yet another variation of this arrangement is one wherein the single pin protrudes upwardly from the front side of the platen 42 and the carrier plate 50 includes a slot that extends along part of the length of the carrier plate to receive the pin. In any of these arrangements, the pin(s) can be a formed part of the platen 42 or carrier plate 50, or can be a separate component that is secured to the platen and carrier plate. The pin(s) are used to secure the carrier plate, and the bristle tufts secured in the retention elements therein, to the neck platen to ensure the parts remain secured together during operation of the brush. Once secured together, the components are encapsulated with a flexible material matrix 30. In example embodiments, the pin or nose can be overmolded with the material of the platen and afterwards with the flexible material (e.g., TPE).

[0050] FIG. 5E is an exploded view of the brush head assembly of FIG. 3D. FIG. 5E shows an alternative embodiment of the present application, in which the carrier plate 50 has one or more arms 53 that descend from the carrier plate side or bottom that hold the carrier plate to a lip 45 that extends around at least a portion of the perimeter of the platen 42. The arms 53 on the carrier plate slide around the lip 45 to hold the carrier plate a prescribed distance away from the platen. Once secured together, the components are encapsulated with a flexible material matrix 30. [0051] Referring to FIGS. 6A through 6D, in one embodiment, another arrangement of a brush head assembly 100 is provided. More particularly, the brush head assembly 100 can include, but is not limited to, a flexible material matrix 30, such as shown in FIG. 6B. A plurality of individual bristle tufts 21, each of which includes a plurality of bristle strands, are retained within at least one retention element 52 in the carrier plate 50 disposed in the flexible material matrix 30. A portion of the brush head neck 40, called a platen 42, is also at least partially enclosed in the flexible material matrix 30. One or more pin(s) 60 may protrude upwardly from the neck platen, or rearwardly from the carrier plate, or both. The pins 60 that protrude upwardly from the platen 42 may be a formed part of the platen 42, or may be secured to the front surface of the platen (e.g., bonding through heat and pressure), or may be secured into an opening 43 in the platen 42 by heat, glue, or other bonding means. Alternatively, or additionally, the pin(s) may be formed from and descend from the rear or side of the carrier plate 50, or may be a separate component secured to the carrier plate and/or retention element by heat, glue or other bonding means, or may be secured in one or more openings or slots in the carrier plate. The pin(s) are used to maintain the carrier plate and platen at a specific distance/spacing apart from each other, which spacing is retained when the flexible material matrix 30 is molded around the platen and carrier plate.

[0052] Although the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 3 A includes four pins, embodiments can include two or more pins. The two or more pins can be any shape, including but not limited to, cylindrical, conical, frustoconical, rectangular, or polygonal depending on the design of the bristle tufts. The two or more pins can have a smooth exterior surface from top to bottom, or the pins can have different thicknesses at different heights (e.g., a stepped configuration). The two or more pins can have a constant thickness or varying thickness (e.g., tapering).

[0053] Although FIGS 6A and 6B depicts an embodiment with four pins, emobidments can include any number of pins, which can be any design, shape, size, or geometry. The pins can be any shape, including but not limited to, cylindrical, conical, frustoconical, rectangular, or polygonal depending on the design of the bristle tufts. The pins can have a smooth exterior surface from top to bottom, or the pins can have different thicknesses at different heights (e.g., a stepped configuration). The pins can have a constant thickness or varying thickness (e.g., tapering). For example, referring to FIG. 6C, in one embodiment, the one or more pins can be embodied as a single longitudinal rib 61 that extends along at least part of the length of the top surface of the platen 42 of the neck. The longitudinal rib 61 can extend along the entire length of the top surface of the platen 42. Referring to FIG. 6D, in one embodiment, the one or more pins can be embodied as one or a plurality of transverse ribs 62 that extend along as least part of the width of the top surface of the platen 42 of the neck. The one or more transverse ribs 62 can extend along the entire width of the top surface of the platen 42. The designs of these ribs can be considered as examples of any geometry, shape, or design for the one or more pins that are included to provide extra support on the carrier plate to prevent the carrier plate from becoming loose due to the molding pressure. The one or more pins can be located at any position on the top surface of the neck.

[0054] Methods of Brush Head Assembly Manufacture

[0055] In manufacturing the brush head assembly, at least one retention element 52 is formed in a carrier plate 50. Retention elements 52 can be any of the shapes, sizes, and/or configurations described or otherwise envisioned herein. For example, a plurality of retention elements 52 can be the same size and shape, or multiple different sizes and shapes. At least one bristle tuft 21 (which comprises a plurality of bristle strands) is inserted into each of the at least one retention elements 52 in the carrier plate 50. Each of the bristle tufts 21 includes a proximal end and a free end, with the proximal end being inserted into the retention element. The bristle tufts 21 are secured in the retention elements so that they do not pull back through the retention element during manufacture or use of the finished brush head assembly 100. In one arrangement, this is accomplished by applying heat to the proximal end of the bristle tufts to melt the proximal ends to form a proximal end head portion. However, other methods of securing the bristle tufts in the retention elements can also be used.

[0056] The brush head neck 40 is then positioned to put the platen 42 in the proper location in relation to the carrier plate 50. The pins 60 can be then used to secure the platen 42 and the carrier plate 50 together, or to suspend the platen and carrier plate a set distance from each other. The pins can be secured by means of press fitting, heat, laser welding, or other methods that provide a secure bond. The carrier plate 50 and platen may be secured together so there is no gap between the components, or can be arranged so that there is a gap between the back side of the carrier plate and the front of the platen 42.

[0057] A flexible elastomeric material is injected around at least a portion of the platen 42, the carrier plate and the bristle tufts contained in the retention elements in the carrier plate. The injection is typically done through one or more gates 41 in the brush neck. The molded material forms a flexible material matrix 30 that provides flexible support to the carrier plate and soft touch to the user. In one embodiment, the flexible material matrix 30 is preferably made from a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), a vulcanized thermoplastic elastomer (TPE-V or TPV), or a Polyether Block Amide (PEBA) material, although many other materials can be used. According to an embodiment, each of the platen 42, the carrier plate 50, the retention elements 52 and the bristle tufts 21 are made from a material with a higher elastic modulus than the flexible material matrix 30, such as polypropylene or nylon, or other materials, although the neck, bristle tufts, carrier plates and retention elements can be made of different materials from each other.

[0058] In one arrangement, as shown in FIG. 6A, during overmolding of the carrier plate with the flexible matrix 30, one or more pins 60 can be included to provide extra support on the carrier plate to prevent the carrier plate from becoming loose due to the molding pressure. The flexible elastomeric material can pass by between the carrier plate and tooling. FIG. 6B shows the neck and carrier plate overmolded with the flexible matrix 30.

[0059] In manufacturing the brush head assemblies of FIGS. 6A-6D, the one or more pins or ribs are incorporated into the neck tool. After placing the molded neck and the tuft carrier plate assembly in the tool for incorporation of the flexible matrix (e.g., the TPE-shot), the carrier is subjected to an additional force that pushes the carrier into the pockets of the plate for the carrier. The one or more pins or ribs protruding from the neck provide the additional force. FIG. 7 describes the tooling situation when the flexible elastomeric material is incorporated and connects the tuft carrier plate with the neck of the brush head assembly. These embodiments differ from the previous embodiments in that the one or more pins or ribs are only contacting the tuft carrier plate at defined points. The pins or ribs do not provide a mechanical interlock between the carrier plate and the neck as described above, but serve to provide uniform distance and spacing.

[0060] Referring to FIG. 8, in one embodiment, is a method for manufacturing one or more of the various brush head embodiments and implementations described or otherwise envisioned herein. In step 800, a neck having a platen portion 42 is provided. In step 802, at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein is provided. In step 804, at least one bristle tuft having a plurality of bristle strands is inserted into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate. In step 806, the at least one bristle tuft is secured into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof. In step 808, the platen portion is positioned in relation to the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft. The positioning of the platen portion in relation to the at least one carrier plate defines a space therebetween for injection of a flexible material to form a flexible material matrix around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one pin, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft.

[0061] Referring to FIG. 9, in one embodiment, is another method for manufacturing one or more of the various brush head embodiments and implementations described or otherwise envisioned herein. In step 900, a neck having a platen portion is provided, the platen portion having at least one protrusion. In step 902, at least one carrier plate having at least one retention element therein is provided. In step 904, at least one bristle tuft having a plurality of bristle strands is inserted into the at least one retention element in the at least one carrier plate. In step 906, the at least one bristle tuft is secured into the at least one retention element at the proximal end thereof. In step 908, the at least one carrier plate is positioned in contact with the at least one protrusion of the platen portion. In step 910, a flexible matrix is formed around at least a portion of the platen portion, the at least one protrusion, the at least one carrier plate, the at least one retention element and the proximal end of the at least one bristle tuft to connect the at least one carrier plate and the platen portion.

[0062] All definitions, as defined and used herein, should be understood to control over dictionary definitions, definitions in documents incorporated by reference, and/or ordinary meanings of the defined terms.

[0063] The indefinite articles « a· and « an,· as used herein in the specification and in the claims, unless clearly indicated to the contrary, should be understood to mean *at least one.·

[0064] The phrase « and/or,· as used herein in the specification and in the claims, should be understood to mean « either or both· of the elements so conjoined, i.e., elements that are conjunctively present in some cases and disjunctively present in other cases. Multiple elements listed with · and/or· should be construed in the same fashion, i.e., · one or more· of the elements so conjoined. Other elements may optionally be present other than the elements specifically identified by the « and/or· clause, whether related or unrelated to those elements specifically identified.

[0065] As used herein in the specification and in the claims, · or· should be understood to have the same meaning as « and/or· as defined above. For example, when separating items in a list, « or· or « and/or· shall be interpreted as being inclusive, i.e., the inclusion of at least one, but also including more than one, of a number or list of elements, and, optionally, additional unlisted items. Only terms clearly indicated to the contrary, such as « only one of· or « exactly one of,· or, when used in the claims, « consisting of,· will refer to the inclusion of exactly one element of a number or list of elements. In general, the term « or· as used herein shall only be interpreted as indicating exclusive alternatives (i.e. « one or the other but not both·) when preceded by terms of exclusivity, such as « either,· « one of,· « only one of,· or « exactly one of.·

[0066] As used herein in the specification and in the claims, the phrase « at least one,· in reference to a list of one or more elements, should be understood to mean at least one element selected from any one or more of the elements in the list of elements, but not necessarily including at least one of each and every element specifically listed within the list of elements and not excluding any combinations of elements in the list of elements. This definition also allows that elements may optionally be present other than the elements specifically identified within the list of elements to which the phrase · at least one· refers, whether related or unrelated to those elements specifically identified.

[0067] It should also be understood that, unless clearly indicated to the contrary, in any methods claimed herein that include more than one step or act, the order of the steps or acts of the method is not necessarily limited to the order in which the steps or acts of the method are recited.

[0068] In the claims, as well as in the specification above, all transitional phrases such as •comprising,· « including,· « carrying,· « having,· « containing,· « involving,· « holding,· •composed of,· and the like are to be understood to be open-ended, i.e., to mean including but not limited to. Only the transitional phrases « consisting of· and « consisting essentially of· shall be closed or semi-closed transitional phrases, respectively.

[0069] While several inventive embodiments have been described and illustrated herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will readily envision a variety of other means and/or structures for performing the function and/or obtaining the results and/or one or more of the advantages described herein, and each of such variations and/or modifications is deemed to be within the scope of the inventive embodiments described herein. More generally, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that all parameters, dimensions, materials, and configurations described herein are meant to be exemplary and that the actual parameters, dimensions, materials, and/or configurations will depend upon the specific application or applications for which the inventive teachings is/are used. Those skilled in the art will recognize, or be able to ascertain using no more than routine experimentation, many equivalents to the specific inventive embodiments described herein. It is, therefore, to be understood that the foregoing embodiments are presented by way of example only and that, within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereto, inventive embodiments may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described and claimed. Inventive embodiments of the present disclosure are directed to each individual feature, system, article, material, kit, and/or method described herein. In addition, any combination of two or more such features, systems, articles, materials, kits, and/or methods, if such features, systems, articles, materials, kits, and/or methods are not mutually inconsistent, is included within the inventive scope of the present disclosure.