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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
CLAMPS AND HANGERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/099083
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A garment hanger having at least one component that has been moulded in a plastics material and two biasing component, wherein the or a moulded component alone has provided or still provides two pairs of linked jaws, and wherein each biasing component biases each pair of jaws to a clamping condition from which condition they can be released by reproducible relative movement of the jaws against the bias.

Inventors:
Lindsay, Brendan Jon (11A Burwood Crescent, Remuera Auckland, NEW ZEALAND, NZ)
Application Number:
PCT/NZ2003/000072
Publication Date:
December 04, 2003
Filing Date:
April 24, 2003
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Lindsay, Brendan Jon (11A Burwood Crescent, Remuera Auckland, NEW ZEALAND, NZ)
International Classes:
A47G25/14; A47G25/48; B29C45/00; (IPC1-7): A47G25/48; D06F55/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2001031108A12001-05-03
Foreign References:
GB2327975A1999-02-10
US5325570A1994-07-05
US5212854A1993-05-25
US4984721A1991-01-15
US4714183A1987-12-22
US4658996A1987-04-21
GB2167659A1986-06-04
US4395799A1983-08-02
US4192441A1980-03-11
Other References:
DATABASE WPI Derwent World Patents Index; Class A84, AN 1991-156357/21
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Adams, Matthew D. (A J Park, 6th Floor Huddart Parker Building PO Box 949, 6015 Wellington, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:
1. A clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device two jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) under such bias to a clamping condition.
2. A device of claim 1 wherein said moulded component has or has had at least prior to assembly an integral link, one jaw to the other, in the material from which the moulded component has been created.
3. A device of claim 1 or 2 in use the link can assume (e. g. by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias and to provide a fulcrum effect.
4. A device of claim 2 wherein said link includes a region adapted to distort or otherwise reconfigure as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide a pivot line or a zone of pivot lines between the jaws about which articulation to and from the clamping condition can occur (e. g. in the nature of a knuckle or the like female/male engagement).
5. A device of claim 4 wherein said biasing component is adapted to hold the jaws together.
6. A devbice of claim 5 wherein said biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or like shaped member that holds the jaws together on the distorted or redeployed link of said moulded component.
7. A device of claim 2 wherein said link includes a region adapted to flex as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide articulation about a region to enable the relativity of movement of said jaws against and/or with the bias of the biasing component.
8. A device of claim 7 wherein there is some jaw to jaw location characteristic of the biasing component with each jaw which can enable said flex need not be to a condition defining a fulcrum.
9. A device of claim 2 wherein said jaws include an integral extension thereof to the other side of the pivot and/or flexure axis (axes) or zone to be provided by the link of said moulded component and/or biasing component, such extensions when pressed towards each other having the effect of opening the jaws against the bias.
10. A device of claim 1 wherein said clamping device is part of a garment hanger.
11. A device of claim 10 wherein said garment hanger includes a two spaced pairs of jaws, one jaw of each pair of jaws being fixed relative to the arms of the hanger disposed to either side of its rail or other engaging region, whilst the other jaw of each pair is moveable relative to its complementary fixed jaw.
12. A device of claim 11 wherein, when engaging a garment for which the hanger has been designed, the jaws open to an extent such that abutment of like garment engaging hangers in a wardrobe or otherwise supported will not have the affect of opening the jaws to release a garment, i. e. preferably there is a capability of a direct line of force through each jaw pair substantially in alignment with the link (or residue thereof) between the jaws.
13. A clamping device having any of the characteristics herein described with or without reference to any one or more of the accompanying drawings.
14. A moulded component for a clamping device to be assembled from the moulded component, and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded is to define two jaws of a pair of jaws openable from a clamping condition against the bias to provided by a suitable and suitably engaged biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close under such bias to a clamping condition, and wherein said moulded component exmould has an integral link between the jaws, said being capable of being reconfigured (whether frangibly or non frangibly) to define a knuckle type pivot or pivot zone.
15. A clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein inmould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an inmould defined link, and wherein at least in part exmould the link holds or has held the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.
16. A clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein inmould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part exmould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, through a curve including section bestowing some flexure so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.
17. A clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein inmould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defied link, and wherein at least in part exmould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component, at least in part, holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, by squeezing the jaw pair together through the link region so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.
18. A clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein inmould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part exmould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other at least prior to association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component, at least in part, holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, by squeezing the jaw pair together so that a female form in the link can receive (at least if the link breaks) a male form therein.
19. A device of claim 18 wherein the biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or the like where each arm of the spring is separately engaged by a respective jaw thereby (i) to bias the jaws together and (ii) to retain, the jaws in a reproducible relationship.
20. A garment hanger assembled from a moulded component that defines two regions that, in the assembled hanger, are jaws biased relatively towards each other by an associated biasing component yet which can be splayed against the affect of the biasing component about (i) a knuckle or the equivalent and/or (ii) a region of flexure and/or (iii) a region of frangibility provided by an appropriate use of an inmould defined link of said moulded component jaws.
21. A clip or peg (e. g. a clip or clothes pegging member of a clothes hanger) where the in mould defined jaws articulate about flexure zone or pivot zone (e. g. knuckle line pivot zone) provided by in mould defined forms that (i) integrally linked the jaw providing members in the mould, and (ii) have been biased together by an element or elements subsequently engaged with the jaws.
22. A clip or peg wherein the linking member includes, when viewed normal to the pivot or pivot zone axis or range of axes, a curved or other female form capable of receiving a male part of the link to provide for a knuckle line like pivot or pivot zone interaction.
23. A garment hanger having a clamping device assembled from a moulded component which defines at least much of the hanger, and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the hanger device two jaws openable (relatively) from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) under such bias to a clamping condition.
24. Apparatus as claimed in claim 23 wherein there are two such clamping devices.
25. Apparatus of claim 23 wherein each clamping device is spaced from the other at the distal region of arms of the garment hanger that extend to either side of a rail or the like engaging feature (e. g. a hook).
26. Apparatus of claim 23 wherein said moulded component has or has had at least prior to assembly an integral link one jaw to the other in the material from which the moulded component has been created.
27. Apparatus of claim 26 wherein said link includes a region adapted to flex, to distort or otherwise to reconfigure as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide a flexure, pivot and/or frangible zone between the jaws about which articulation to and from the clamping condition can occur.
28. Apparatus of claim 2 wherein said biasing component is adapted to hold the jaws together.
29. Apparatus of claim 23 wherein said biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or like shaped member that holds the jaws together on the flexed, distorted or redeployed link of said moulded component.
30. Apparatus of claim 26 wherein said jaws include, as part of a squeeze actuation arrangement, an integral extension thereof to the side of the link of said moulded component away from the jaws proper.
31. Apparatus of claim 26 wherein said biasing component reproducibly locates one jaw relative to the other over the range of different relativities arising from the open and close condition and movement therebetween.
32. A garment hanger having a main plastics member moulded as a unitary moulding yet not necessarily persisting in the assembly as a unitary moulding, the unitary moulding defining to spaced pairs of jaws each capable of being opened against the bias of a located spring engaging with each jaw or extension thereof of a pair, the assembly being characterised in any one or more of the following j) there is or has been an integral moulded link between each jaw or a pair or extension thereof and its complementary jaw or extension thereof, and/or ii) each part of the spring has a distal region thereof located by a jaw or extension thereof so as to confer a floating or pivoted relationship with respect to the other and thus reproducibility of relative movement between the jaws,.
33. A moulded component of or for a hanger, said component defining a main hanger region defining at least part of the hanger support (e. g.; hook), a pair of amis disposed on either side therebelow and, distally on each arm, a jaw defining form having at least one engagement feature, a complementary jaw defining form for each jaw form of the main hanger region, each complementary jaw form having at least one engagement feature, and a link between each pair of jaw forms, wherein during moulding there has been injection of a plastics material and a flow through the mould regions to define the links, in each case, from one jaw defining form to its complementary jaw defining form.
34. A component of claim 33 wherein each pair of jaw forms is adapted to receive an appropriate biasing component (such as a spring) engageable by the respective complementary engagement features thereby (i) to provide a bias towards closure of the and/or (ii) to hold, at least in part, the jaw forms in proximity, one to the other, so as to provide for reproducibility of movement with and against the bias provided by the biasing component.
35. A hanger assembled from a moulded component of claim 33 or 34, there being a biasing component for each jaw pair.
36. A hanger of claim 35 wherein said biasing component is a spring having arms each adapted to be received in an opening and/or recess so as to hold the jaw forms together (if such holding is needed) as well as to bias the same together.
37. A garment hanger having at least one component that has been moulded in a plastics material and two biasing component, wherein the or a moulded component alone has provided or still provides two pairs of linked jaws, and wherein each biasing component biases each pair of jaws to a clamping condition from which condition they can be released by reproducible relative movement of the jaws against the bias.
38. A garment hanger wherein the moulded component has defined a link between jaws which subsequently has or has been reconfigured by one or more of flexure, plastic deformation and rupture.
39. A garment hanger of claim 38 wherein the links define in their reconfigured state a pivot between the jaws.
40. A mould assembly having first and second components, each with a cavity, capable of coacting to define at least in part the hanging region and anus of a garment hanger outwardly thereof, and third and fourth components or assemblies, each for defining the distal region of the inmould created hanger form, each third or fourth component or assembly being capable of being advanced inwardly to define distally at the end of its arm jaw components in mould linked by a bridging region.
41. A product moulded by a mould assembly of claim 40.
42. A hanger component or a clamp component having the characteristics or at least some of the characteristics herein described of linked jaws substantially as shown in any one or more of the accompanying drawings.
43. A jigged assembly of a hanger or clamp using an inmould created form of a kind substantially as herein described with or without reference to any of the accompanying drawings. <BR> <BR> <P>44.
44. In a clothes hanger or clamp form, the use of a"U", "C", W or the like shaped spring to both hold (in part at least) jaws together, where jaws have been provided by a unitary moulded form.
45. A method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded <BR> <BR> component and a biasing component or biasing components ("biasing component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, the or each link upon removal of the moulded component from the mould being able to assume (eg; by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias to be provided by the biasing component to be associated therewith, removing the moulded component from the mould, inserting or presenting the moulded component in or to a jig, engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair, and removing the completed clamping device from the jig.
46. A method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded <BR> <BR> component and a biasing component or biasing components ("biasing component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, the or each link upon removal of the moulded component from the mould being able to assume (eg; by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias to be provided by the biasing component to be associated therewith, removing the moulded component from the mould, and engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair.
47. A method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded <BR> <BR> component and a biasing component or biasing components ("biasing component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, removing the moulded component from the mould, and engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair.
48. A method of claim 46 or 47 wherein the engagement step involves a robotic function.
49. A method of claim 48 wherein the removal of the moulded component from the mould involves a robotic removal function from the at least in part open mould.
50. A method of claim 47 wherein the tooling for moulding purposes comprises or includes (i) at least three mould parts where a single jaw pair is defined either or (ii) at least four mould parts where two jaw pairs are to be defined.
51. A method of claim 50 wherein two main mould components are adapted to define the bulk of a garment hanger and are to be movable towards and away from each other at least substantially normal to the general plane of the hanger.
52. A method of claim 51 wherein the additional mould components are adapted for removal at least substantially in and/or parallel to the aforementioned plane for each jaw pair being defined by the moulded component.
53. A method of claim 51 wherein each jaw (at least in part) defining mould component ("jaw mould component") is adapted to be moved away from the moulded component under the action of a cam or other component associated with one other mould component.
54. A method of claim 53 wherein said cam or other component includes finger like arrangements adapted on mould opening to spread the jaw mould components and adapted on mould closing to move the jaw mould components towards each other.
55. A garment hanger when produced at least in part by a method in accordance with any one of claims 45 to 54.
56. A jig, a use of a jig or the result of jigging substantially as herein described with or without reference to any one or more of the accompanying drawings.
Description:
"CLAMPS AND HANGERS" TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention relates to clamping devices such as garment hangers, components therefor, methods of formation of such apparatus and related uses and methods.

BACKGROUND ART Many forms of garment hanger are known. Likewise many forms of clamping device useful as a clothes peg or useful in holding one or more sheets of material are known (e. g. including those with a magnet for attachment to refrigerators).

The present invention relates to an alternative to those currently known.

In its preferred form the present invention relates to a form of garment hanger (by term "garment"is included any item that might be usefully clamped and held by the hanger) and the term"hanger"refers to any device (with or without a hook) engageable by hanging or otherwise to some form of support capable of supporting an item in turn carried or supported by the hanger.

One form of hanger that finds favour is one incorporating two pairs of jaws, each pair of jaws having one jaw stationary relative to the main body of the hanger and the other jaw moveable relative thereto, whereby opposite sides of, for example, a trouser leg can be gripped by the respective pairs of jaws of the hanger.

The present invention relates to an improved form of such a clamping device and/or hanger and to related methods of manufacture of all of the clamp or hanger or the main moulded component thereof and related uses of such a component.

The present invention recognises an advantage can be derived from the provision of a single moulded component which has the capability of being associated for each clamping device, (ie; for each pair of jaws) with an appropriate biasing member. The present invention also recognises an advantage is available particularly for garment hangers where a more rigid mouldable material (e. g.; a plastics material) can be utilised over a flexible material (usually plastics) since a greater bulking up of certain regions of the overall hanger will not be necessary with the more rigid material of lesser bulk owing to its inherent stiffness and loading support capability.

By way of example, if a moulded component of a relatively stiff plastics material such as a suitable styrene can be moulded as a single component as opposed to an articulating flexible material such as a polypropylene that will requiring bulking up for the loading supporting regions there is an immediate manufacturing advantage.

In preferred forms of the present invention therefore the present invention is directed to enhancements in componentry, assemblies made using such componentry, collapsed but in assembly forms of such componentry taking advantage of the features hereafter to be described, related processes and tooling and uses of any such processes, tooling, components, subassemblies and assemblies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In one aspect the present invention consists in a garment hanger having at least one component that has been moulded in a plastics material and two biasing component, wherein the or a moulded component alone has provided or still provides two pairs of linked jaws, and wherein each biasing component biases each pair of jaws to a clamping condition from which condition they can be released by reproducible relative movement of the jaws against the bias.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in a garment hanger wherein the moulded component has defined a link between jaws which subsequently has or has been reconfigured by one or more of flexure, plastic deformation and rupture.

Preferably the links define in their reconfigured state a pivot between the jaws.

In other forms the links can reconfigure, deform, rupture, etc. to allow free movement of the jaws under the control of the biasing component.

In another aspect the invention consists in a clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device two jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) under such bias to a clamping condition.

Preferably said moulded component has or has had at least prior to assembly an integral link, one jaw to the other, in the material from which the moulded component has been created.

Preferably in use the link can assume (e. g. by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias and to provide a fulcrum effect.

Preferably said link includes a region adapted to distort or otherwise reconfigure as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide a pivot line or a zone of

pivot lines between the jaws about which articulation to and from the clamping condition can occur (e. g. in the nature of a knuckle or the like female/male engagement).

Preferably said biasing component is adapted to hold the jaws together.

Preferably said biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or like shaped member that holds the jaws together on the distorted or redeployed link of said moulded component.

Alternatively or in addition said link includes a region adapted to flex as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide articulation over a region to enable the relativity of movement of said jaws against and/or with the bias of the biasing component and (preferably) in conjunction with some jaw to jaw location characteristic of the biasing component and its engagement with each jaw.

Preferably said jaws include an integral extension thereof to the other side of the pivot and/or flexure axis (axes) or zone to be provided by the link of said moulded component, such extensions when pressed towards each other (preferably) having the effect of opening the jaws against the bias.

Preferably said clamping device is part of a garment hanger.

Preferably said garment hanger includes a spaced pair of jaws, one of each pair of jaws being fixed relative to the arms of the hanger disposed to either side of its rail or other engaging region, whilst the other jaw of each pair is in the assembled product relatively moveable to its complementary fixed jaw.

Preferably when engaging a garment for which the hanger has been designed the jaws open to an extent such that abutment of like garment engaging hangers in a wardrobe or otherwise supported will not have the affect of opening the jaws to release a garment, i. e. preferably there is a capability of a direct line of force through each jaw pair substantially in alignment with the link (or residue thereof) between the jaws.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in a clamping device having any of the characteristics hereinafter described with or without reference to any one or more of the accompanying drawings.

In yet another aspect the invention consists in a mould component for a clamping device to be assembled from the moulded component, and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component when the device is assembled will define two jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the biasing

component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) under such bias to a clamping condition, and wherein said moulded component ex-mould has an integral link between the jaws, said link when the biasing component is associated having been reconfigured (whether frangibly or non frangibly) to define a knuckle type pivot or, should there be a failure in flexure, to define a knuckle type pivot.

Preferably said knuckle type pivot is kept together by said biasing component.

In another aspect the invention consists in a clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein in-mould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part ex-mould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.

In another aspect the invention consists in a clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein in-mould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part ex-mould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, through a curve including section bestowing some flexure so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.

In another aspect the invention consists in a clamping device assembled from

a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein in-mould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part ex-mould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other for association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component, at least in part, holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, by squeezing the jaw pair together through the link region so as to provide for reproducibility of relative jaw movement.

In another aspect the invention consists in a clamping device assembled from a moulded component and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws openable (relatively) against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) to a clamping condition, and wherein in-mould the or each jaw pair is bridged by an in mould defined link, and wherein at least in part ex-mould the link holds the jaws indexed one to the other at least prior to association with said biasing component, and wherein the biasing component, at least in part, holds the jaws in proximity, one to the other, by squeezing the jaw pair together so that a female form in the link can receive (at least if the link breaks) a male form therein.

Preferably the biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or the like where each arm of the spring is separately engaged by a respective jaw thereby (i) to bias the jaws together and (ii) to retain, as if the jaws are pivoted or the like, a fulcrum region thereof apart.

In still another aspect the present invention is a garment hanger assembled from a moulded component that defines two regions that, in the assembled hanger, are jaws biased relatively towards each other by an associated biasing component yet which can be splayed against the affect of the biasing component about (i) a knuckle or the equivalent and/or (ii) a region of flexure and/or (iii) a region of frangibility provided by an appropriate use of an in- mould defined link of said moulded component jaws.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in a clip or peg (e. g. a clip or clothes pegging member of a clothes hanger) where the in mould defined jaws articulate about flexure zone or pivot zone (e. g. knuckle line pivot zone) provided by in mould defined forms that (i) integrally linked the jaw providing members in the mould, and (ii) have been biased together by an element or elements subsequently engaged with the jaws.

Preferably the linking member includes, when viewed normal to the pivot or pivot zone axis or range of axes, a curved or other female form capable of receiving a male part of the link to provide for a knuckle line like pivot or pivot zone interaction.

In another aspect the invention consists in as part of a garment hanger, a clamping device assembled from a moulded component which defines at least much of the hanger, and a biasing component or components ("biasing component"), wherein said moulded component defines in the assembled device two jaws openable (relatively) from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the biasing component from whence they can be allowed to close or almost close ("close") (relatively) under such bias to a clamping condition.

Preferably the garment hanger has two such clamping devices.

Preferably each clamping device is spaced from the other at the distal region of the arms of the garment hanger that extend to either side of a rail or the like engaging feature (e. g. a hook).

Preferably said moulded component has or has had at least prior to assembly an integral link one jaw to the other in the material from which the moulded component has been created.

Preferably said link includes a region adapted to flex, to distort or otherwise reconfigure as a consequence of assembly with the biasing component so as to provide a flexure, pivot and/or frangible zone between the jaws about which articulation to and from the clamping condition can occur.

Preferably said biasing component is adapted to hold the jaws together.

Preferably said biasing component is a spring in the form of a C, U, W or like shaped member that holds the jaws together on the flexed, distorted or redeployed link of said moulded component.

Preferably said jaws include as part of a squeeze actuation arrangement an integral extension thereof to the side of the link of said moulded component away from the jaws proper.

In another aspect the present invention consists in a garment hanger having a main plastics member moulded as a unitary moulding yet not necessarily persisting in the assembly as

a unitary moulding, the unitary moulding defining to spaced pairs of jaws each capable of being opened against the bias of a located spring engaging with each jaw or extension thereof of a pair, the assembly being characterised in any one or more of the following i) there is or has been an integral moulded link between each jaw or a pair or extension thereof and its complementary jaw or extension thereof, and/or ii) each part of the spring has a distal region thereof located by a jaw or extension thereof so as to confer a floating or pivoted relationship with respect to the other and thus reproducibility of relative movement between the jaws In still another aspect the present invention consists in a moulded component of or for a hanger, said component defining a main hanger region into which the plastics material is first injected, the main hanger region defining at least part of the hanger support, a pair of arms disposed on either side therebelow and, distally on each arm, a jaw defining form having at least one engagement feature, a complementary jaw defining form for each jaw form of the main hanger region, each complementary jaw form having at least one engagement feature, and a link between each pair of jaw forms, wherein each complementary jaw defining form has been defined by a flow through of plastics material thereto from the main hanger region via its link.

Preferably each pair of jaw forms is adapted to receive a spring with one part of the spring being engageable by the respective engagement features thereby (i) to provide a bias towards closure of the jaws against which bias the jaws can be opened by application to each jaw form distally of the jaw regions proper beyond the link and/or (ii) to hold, at least in part, the jaw forms in proximity, one to the other, so as to provide for reproducibility.

Preferably each pair of jaw forms is adapted to receive an appropriate biasing component (such as a spring) engageable by the respective complementary engagement features thereby (i) to provide a bias towards closure of the and/or (ii) to hold, at least in part, the jaw forms in proximity, one to the other, so as to provide for reproducibility of movement with and against the bias provided by the biasing component.

Preferably there is a biasing component for each jaw pair.

Preferably said biasing component is a spring having arms each adapted to be received in an opening and/or recess so as to hold the jaw forms together (if such a holding is needed, e. g.;

there is no reconfiguration of the link to a pivot defining abutment) as well as to bias the same together against any opening force.

Preferably said link provides an indexing of each jaw form to another during a jigged or other support of the moulded component during assembly with a spring or other bias providing member for each jaw pair.

Preferably said link is one capable without rupture of providing by appropriate flexure an ability to articulate one jaw form relative to the other of the pair.

In addition or alternatively, preferably said link is such that upon assembly with an appropriate biasing component (frangibly or otherwise) said link can assume (whether in flexure or otherwise) an articulating connection or abutment between the jaw forms.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in a hanger assembled from such a moulded component, there being a biasing component for each jaw form pair, such component spanning between the proximate jaw forms and being retainable for the biasing component reliant on at least one engagement feature of each jaw form.

Preferably said biasing component is a spring having arms each adapted to be received in an opening and/or recess so as to hold the jaw forms together (if such holding is needed) as well as to bias the same together.

Preferably the biasing component has any of the characteristics hereinafter described.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a moulded component or a hanger formed therewith which has the characteristics substantially as hereinafter described.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a clamp type hanger having jaws linked by an in-mould linkage between the jaws which has sufficient flexure and/or, after rupture, provides together with a biasing component sufficient location of one jaw relative to the other about an articulation axis.

Preferably said biasing component biases the jaws relatively towards each other.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a clamp or region of a hanger or clamp where a bridging or linking region between jaws (and/or the residue thereof) and/or the biasing component interaction thereof has any of the characteristics hereinafter described with or without reference to any one or more of the accompanying drawings.

In yet a further aspect the present invention consists in a mould assembly having first and second components, each with a cavity, capable of co-acting to define at least in part the hanging region and arms of a garment hanger outwardly thereof, and third and fourth

components or assemblies, each for defining the distal region of the in-mould created hanger form, each third or fourth component or assembly being capable of being advanced inwardly to define distally at the end of its arm jaw components in mould linked by a bridging region.

In another aspect the invention is a moulded output of such a mould assembly.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in tooling of any kind (preferably as previously defined) capable of providing a moulded component or component of a garment hanger or clamp of the present invention.

In yet a further aspect the present invention consists in a hanger component or a clamp component having the characteristics or at least some of the characteristics herein described of linked jaws substantially as shown in any one or more of the accompanying drawings.

In yet a further aspect the present invention consists in a jigged assembly of a hanger or clamp using an in-mould created form of a kind substantially as herein described with or without reference to any of the accompanying drawings.

In yet a further aspect the present invention consists in, in a clothes hanger or clamp <BR> form, the use of a"U", "C", W or the like shaped spring to both hold (in part at least) jaws together, where jaws have been provided by a unitary moulded form.

In another aspect the invention is a method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded component and a biasing component or biasing components ("biasing <BR> <BR> component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, the or each link upon removal of the moulded component from the mould being able to assume (eg; by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias to be provided by the biasing component to be associated therewith, removing the moulded component from the mould, inserting or presenting the moulded component in or to a jig, engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair, and removing the completed clamping device from the jig.

Preferably the jig is a support and the engaging or engagement of the biasing component (s) is achieved by manual direct or indirect intervention. More preferably however

robotics attend to one, some or all of the (i) removal, (ii) insertion or presentation and (iii) engagement steps.

Preferably a robot applies the biasing component (s) to the moulded component.

As used herein"jig"takes its broadest possible form, ie; can be any support which in part holds or locates the moulded component sufficiently to allow the engagement of the biasing means thereto.

In another aspect the present invention consists in a method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded component and a biasing component or <BR> <BR> biasing components ("biasing component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, the or each link upon removal of the moulded component from the mould being able to assume (eg; by flexure and/or collapse) a stable relationship to provide a reactive force in part against the bias to be provided by the biasing component to be associated therewith, removing the moulded component from the mould, and engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair.

Preferably the engagement step involves a robotic function.

Preferably the removal of the moulded component from the mould involves a robotic removal function from the at least in part open mould.

Preferably the tooling for moulding purposes comprises or includes (A) at least three mould parts where a single jaw pair is defined and/or (B) at least four mould parts where two jaw pairs are to be defined, eg; as in a garment hanger.

Preferably two main mould components are adapted to define the bulk of a garment hanger and are to be movable towards and away from each other at least substantially normal to the general plane of the hanger (which is to be at least substantially parallel to the resultant pivot axis of each jaw pair in the completed garment hanger).

Preferably additional mould components adapted for removal at least substantially in and/or parallel to the aforementioned plane for each jaw pair being defined by the moulded component is provided, ie; one at each end of the hanger.

Preferably each jaw (at least in part) defining mould component ("jaw mould component") is adapted to be moved away from the moulded component under the action of a cam or other component associated with one other mould component.

Preferably said cam or other component includes finger like arrangements adapted on mould opening to spread the jaw mould components and adapted on mould closing to move the jaw mould components towards each other.

In a further aspect the present invention consists in a method of manufacturing a clamping device [being an assembly of a moulded component and a biasing component or <BR> <BR> biasing components ("biasing component (s) ") where the moulded component defines in the assembled device at least one pair of jaws (relatively) openable from a clamping condition against the bias provided by the or that biasing component associated therewith], said method comprising or including the steps of injection moulding the moulded component such that a moulded link exists between the jaws of the or each jaw pair being moulded, removing the moulded component from the mould, and engaging to the moulded component a biasing component for the or each jaw pair.

Preferably the engagement step involves a robotic function.

Preferably the removal of the moulded component from the mould involves a robotic removal function from the at least in part open mould.

Preferably the tooling for moulding purposes comprises or includes either (i) at least three mould parts where a single jaw pair is defined either or (ii) at least four mould parts where two jaw pairs are to be defined.

Preferably said two main mould components are adapted to define the bulk of a garment hanger and are to be movable towards and away from each other at least substantially normal to the general plane of the hanger.

Preferably the additional mould components are adapted for removal at least substantially in and/or parallel to the aforementioned plane for each jaw pair being defined by the moulded component.

Preferably each jaw (at least in part) defining mould component ("jaw mould component") is adapted to be moved away from the moulded component under the action of a cam or other component associated with one other mould component.

Preferably said cam or other component includes finger like arrangements adapted on mould opening to spread the jaw mould components and adapted on mould closing to move the jaw mould components towards each other.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a moulded component of a clamp or garment hanger when produced by a method in accordance with the present invention insofar as the moulding is concerned.

Preferably the moulded component is robotically removed from the moulding tool assembly upon the opening thereof.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a jig, a use of a jig or the result of jigging substantially as herein described with or without reference to any one or more of the accompanying drawings.

In still a further aspect the present invention consists in a use of apparatus or methods in accordance with the present invention and/or the resulting product of any such use.

This invention may also be said broadly to consist in the parts, elements and features referred to or indicated in the specification of the application, individually or collectively, and any or all combinations of any two or more of said parts, elements or features, and where specific integers are mentioned herein which have known equivalents in the art to which this invention relates, such known equivalents are deemed to be incorporated herein as if individually set forth.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A preferred form will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which, Figure 1 is a perspective view from the side of an assembled garment hanger remote from the main hanger body with its fixed jaws, the jaws that are moveable relative to said fixed jaws being in the forefront, Figure 2 is a reverse view of the arrangement shown in Figure 1, Figure 3 is a view of the moulded component of a hanger of Figure 1 and Figure 2 showing the component from the same side as depicted in Figure 1, Figure 4 is a similar view to that of Figure 3 but of the reverse side, i. e. from a similar side to that as depicted in Figure 2, Figure 5 is the section along the complex section line CC depicted in Figure 3, Figure 6 is the simple section AA, Figure 7 is the simple section AA as it configures in response to association therewith of the depicted spring, Figure 8 is the complex section BB shown in Figure 3,

Figure 9 is a perspective view of one form of spring capable of being utilised, such a spring form being substantially"W"shaped, Figure 10 is a diagrammatic view showing (view into its cavity) a first mould component, in broken lines a second mould component, and flanking on either side of the first component, third and four components or assemblies each capable of being moved in the reciprocating direction depicted so as to clear the double jaw and link forms depicted, Figures 11A and 11B shows part of tooling in accordance with the present invention adapted to form several moulded components at once, fingers for camming the jaw mould components, which jaw mould components are shown in their spread condition, Figure 11B showing the cavities after the mouldings shown in Figure 11A have been pushed or blown out or otherwise removed (e. g.; by robot), Figure 12 shows in the condition as shown in Figure 11 the other mould component, Figure 13 shows the two components of Figures 11 and 12, showing a completed moulded component still being retained by that part of the tool, Figure 14 shows a manual intervention jig adapted at each end to receive a feed of a biasing component and when the moulded component is jigged as shown to allow the pressing home much in the manner of a staple of such biasing component, eg; as shown in Figure 9, to provide the resultant garment hanger, such a jig arrangement if necessary in part or totally being replaceable by a robotic system or the human intervention, eg; taking from the moulding tooling to the jig being itself replaced by a robotic system, Figure 15 showing how each end of a moulded component in accordance with the present invention has the pair of jaws appropriately splayed by lowering of the moulded component down into the jig such that there can then subsequently be a movement inwardly of the thus supported clamp at each end of the garment hanger of the mechanism shown which with the piston shown is capable of pressing a biasing means home to its final condition, Figure 16 is a side elevational view of a different embodiment for a complementary pair of linked jaws, the linkage still being one that will reconfigure by flexure, collapse, plastic deformation or rupture to a pivot providing form, the version however showing appendages from the jaws themselves better adapted to grip clothing, and Figure 17 is a sectional view of part of the moulding of Figure 17 showing how the clothing engaging projections mesh to allow a better grip owing to the torturous locus therebetween to be assumed by any clamped clothing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION In the preferred form of the present invention a clamp device which is a double clamp garment hanger will be described. It should be appreciated however that this is just one of several different types of product that can be manufactured using the techniques of the present invention and/or moulded components of the present invention. Others include pegs, clamps, etc.

The present invention recognises that a great number of injection moulded garment hangers in the past have been in a material of a flexible nature (e. g. polypropylene) thereby necessitating greater cross-sectional areas to confer some degree of rigidity to the structure where it is needed.

The present invention offers a capability where a plastics material less flexible than, for example, polyproperlene may be utilised. One such material is that of solid polystyrene.

The hanger of Figures 1 and 2 is an assembly of three components only. These components are the moulded component 1 and two metal (e. g. spring steel) springs 2 (see Figure 9).

The moulded component is capable of being moulded in groups in a mould assembly but for simplicity Figure 10 shows a single mould cavity showing how there can be a cavity to define the hanger region proper (e. g. similar to that of New Zealand Patent No. 227834) plus the arms disposed therefrom and how sliding blocks (whether single components or assemblies) can be utilised to both form and then clear the jaw pairs and their links to be described in more detail hereafter.

In the arrangement shown in the figures preferably the injection of the plastics material into the cavity is such that it enters at 3 (see Figure 2). This material when so injected provides the hanger supporting hook 4 and the arms 5 supported therefrom. Thereafter the material flows outwardly to define the fixed jaws 6 with their jaw proper regions 7, a fulcrum region 8 and an extension 9 thereof beyond the fulcrum region 8. The material (if of a suitable melt flow index for the bridging link at the injection pressures) also flows through the bridging link depicted in the figures. In this respect, see the region 10 in Figure 8 and 6.

The material by passing through the passageway that provides the bridge or link 10 then defines the outer jaw component 11 which, as with the fixed jaw 8, has a jaw proper region 12, a fulcrum region 13 and an extension 14. A small flashing may eventuate.

The extension 9 and 14 in the assembled clamp at each end of the arm of the garment hanger is to allow squeezing together of those regions, in use of the assembled hanger, against the bias of the spring (which acts directly and/or indirectly through the fulcrum region and onto

each of the jaw members 7 and 12) thereby to separate the jaw regions proper 7 and 12 from whence they can be returned under the bias to a clamping condition.

Figure 6 shows the jaws as they are ex-mould during any carriage thereof from the mould (by suction pick up or otherwise) and indexing thereof to a jig or other arrangement where a work person or robot can then insert the spring in each pair of jaws to result in the holding together (yet preferably apart to the extent of at least the reconfigured link) of the jaws in the manner best depicted in Figure 7. In this respect it can be seen that the spring 2 in Figure 7 passes through openings of each jaw such that the arm thereof locates on the jaw proper away from what might be considered the fulcrum region.

In the preferred form of the present invention the link or bridge 10 has certain characteristics. One characteristic is that there is preferably the indexing during removal of the moulded component from the mould. Preferably also there is sufficient location relative to each other to enable easy jigging of the thus indexed jaw regions for the purpose of spring or other engagement therewith.

As depicted in the drawings the link includes an arcuate region over which extends another region such that under pressure in use after spring association therewith, the other region, as a male member, is received in the arcuate region, as a female member. This may occur where the elastic limits of the material have been exceeded or there is sufficient spring and/or other pressure to assume that condition, and thereby provide a knuckle type joint line.

In some forms of the present invention however the link or bridge has sufficient flexure such that over at least initial periods of use there is no such exceeding of the elastic limit of the material, and thus partial or total rupture. It does not matter however if there is rupture since there is the male into female location if there is not otherwise a sufficient reproducibility in the holding of the jaws by the spring itself.

In the preferred form of the present invention however the spring co-acts with the link to provide the reproducibility of locus of clamping/unclamping movement desired for the jaw pairs.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate how the region I-I when assembled but squeezed outwardly to that condition against the bias (when present in use) provides for no mechanical advantage that will affect the clamping effect, and thus release garments, owing to mutual hanger to hanger abutment whilst on a support rail.

Figures I IA onwards deal with preferred moulding and jigging apparatus although preferably robotics are used for both moulding removal and for jigging placement etc. for the purpose of the application of the biasing member.

Figures 11 B and 12 show the complementary moulding components, ie; no moulding being shown whilst Figures 11A and 13 show a moulding still being retained in part of the assembly.

In Figure 11B there is a cavity 15 for each moulding including part of the jaw pairs. The remainder of the jaw pairs is defined or is definable by the outwardly and inwardly slidable tooling components 16 carried by the assembly of which the cavity 15 forms part and the mating cavity 17 of the other assembly shown in Figure 12.

Shown in the assembly of Figure 11B are passageway openings 18 each adapted to receive a camming, finger or the like member 19 such that as the assemblies of Figures 11B and 12 are brought together there is an inward sliding towards each other and over part of the cavity between the remainder of the assemblies of each part 16 thereby to define the final mould cavity when the tooling is fully closed for a plastics injection. The same fingers 19 when the two assemblies are being separated will have the effect of moving the parts 16 outwardly to the condition as shown in Figure 11B at the conclusion of a moulding step such that the then complete mouldings 20 as shown in at least Figure 1 lA can then be pushed out, lifted out or the like. In some forms they are dropped to a bin for subsequent assembly whilst in other forms they can be robotically removed from the respective cavity 15 under the action, for example, of a robot that either grips the moulding or uplifts or takes it reliant upon a vacuum uplift.

Any appropriate ejection process for the components 20 from a cavity 15 can be used such as direct air ejection or a push out procedure reliant on hydraulics or pneumatics or a solenoid.

Indeed some mechanical drive for such purpose can also be provided.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate from the drawings other ways in which the moulding can be provided.

Figures 14 onwards show a simple jigging arrangement whereby a moulding 21 is located with its jaw defining members received within a cavity 22 of an inwardly moveable arrangement 23 under the action of a ram assembly 24 thereafter to have biasing members 25 pushed downwardly on to the respective ends of the moulding under the action of a ram assembly 26.

Any alternative procedure for such an approach can be utilised but the preferment is some form that reproducibly supports the jaws relative to each other reliant upon the taking of the link between the jaw components to a stable pivot defining condition in order to receive the biasing member 25 destined therefor.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate how robotic variations of such apparatus can involve jigging in seeming open space (ie; the robot in part being the jigging, etc. ) or jigging at a station to which robotics or the like bring the component 21 and from thence take the assembled hanger. Similar procedures attach to other variations of the present invention.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate how the present invention provides the prospect of garment hangers, pegs, clamps, etc. that will find wide spread acceptance.