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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
REFRIGERATOR PANEL FASTENING APPARATUS AND METHOD THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/120061
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention is an apparatus and method for fastening refrigerator panels (70) securely to each other by using fastening locks that are able to accommodate different joining angles so that an infinite number of designs may be assembled from a set number of panels (70). This invention allows the assembly to take place at the end user location, thus reducing the volume required for, and therefore cost of shipping and storing individual panels (70) as opposed to complete refrigerator units. The smaller size of the individual panels (70) requires less costly Polyurethane (PU) injection equipment, as a lower pressure is required to inject PU into smaller sized panels (70). This invention also replaces welding as a joining technique for the panels (70), thus allowing for subsequent disassembly and reassembly of the panels (70) in a repeatable fashion.

Inventors:
CHAN, Kee, Sieng (No. 39, Jalan Bukit MidahTaman Midah, 56 000 Kuala Lumpur, MY)
Application Number:
MY2009/000043
Publication Date:
October 01, 2009
Filing Date:
March 25, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CHAN, Kee, Sieng (No. 39, Jalan Bukit MidahTaman Midah, 56 000 Kuala Lumpur, MY)
International Classes:
F25D23/06; E04B1/61; E04B2/72; E04H5/10; F16B5/00; F16S1/02; F25D3/08; F25D23/08; F25D23/10
Foreign References:
US5107648A
US4067165A
US6594870B1
GB1153803A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOK CHOON HONG (Suite 6.03, 6th Floor Wisma Miram, Jalan Wisma Putra 50 460 Kuala Lumpur, MY)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

. 1. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) comprising: a first lock base (20) fixed to a side surface of a first panel (701); a pair of lock members (30, 31), a first end of each lock member being fastened to the lock base (20); a lock collar (40), located in between the two lock members (30, 31); a second lock base (21) fixed to a side surface of a second panel (702) to be joined to the first panel (701); at least one lock pin (50) securing a second end of the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) to the second lock base (21).

2. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to claim 1 wherein the lock pin (50) is extended through openings located near the second end of the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) and tunnels (26) located on each side of the second lock base (21) so that the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) are fixed to the second lock base (21).

3. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein each of the lock bases (20, 21) comprises a housing (24) adapted to receive one end of the lock collar (40) sandwiched in between the pair of lock members (30, 31).

4. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to claim 3 wherein the housing (24) is provided with a pair of tunnels (26) on each side aligned with said openings located on the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) when the lock member (30, 31) and lock collar (40) is inserted into the housing (34) so that the lock pin (50) can extend through the openings and the tunnels (26) to fasten the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) to the lock base (20, 21).

5. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein the diameter of the lock pin (50) is just smaller than the diameter of any one of the said openings or the tunnels (26) such that when the lock pin (50) is extended through the said openings and tunnels (26), a friction between the lock pin (50) and an inner surface of the openings and/or tunnels causes the lock pin (50) to be substantially fixed within the said openings and tunnels (26).

6. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein a protrusion (34) located on each lock member (30, 31) slides into a tunnel (26) located on each side of the housing (24) of the lock base (20) such that the pair of lock members (30, 31) and lock collar (40) are substantially secured to the lock base (20).

7. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein the lock base (20, 21) is located within the volume of the panels (70) such that an outer surface of the lock base (20, 21) is flush with said side surface of the panels (70).

8. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein the first panel (701) and second panel (702) can be joined at any angle in relation to one another.

9. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein the panels comprise two sheets (710, 711) sandwiched around an inner core (720).

10. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to claim 9 wherein the inner core (720) has insulating properties.

11. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to claim 9 wherein the inner core (720) is made from Polyurethane foam.

12. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein a plurality of panels (70) are joined together to form a refrigeration unit.

13. A fastening apparatus for securing panels (70) according to any of the preceding claims wherein the joint between the panels (70) is substantially airtight.

14. A method for securing panels (70) comprising the steps of: fixing a first lock base (20) to a side surface of a first panel (701); attaching a first end of a first lock member (30) to one side of the lock base (20); attaching a first end of a second lock member (31) to an opposite side of the lock base (20); placing a lock collar (40) in between the two lock members (30, 31); ^ fixing a second lock base (21) to a side surface of a second panel (702) to be joined to the first panel (701); attaching a second end of the lock members (30, 31) and lock collar(40) to the second lock base (21); and extending a lock pin (50) through openings located on the second end the lock members (30, 31) and lock collar (4.0) wherein the lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) are substantially fixed to the first (20) and second lock base (21).

15. A method for securing panels (70) according to claim 14 wherein the panels comprise two sheets (710, 711) sandwiched around an inner core (720).

16. A method for securing panels (70) according to claim 15 wherein the inner core (720) is injected Polyurethane foam.

17. A method for securing panels (70) according to claim 16 wherein the lock base (20, 21) is temporarily secured within the hollow in between the two sheets (710, 711) and the Polyurethane foam is then injected in between the two sheets (710, 711) and solidifies around the lock base (20, 21).

18. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 17 further comprising a protrusion (34) located on a first end of each lock member (30, 31).

19. A method for securing panels (70) according to any. of claims 14 through 18 wherein each of the lock bases (20, 21) comprises a housing (24) adapted to receive one end of the lock collar (40) sandwiched in between the pair of lock members (30, 31),

20. A method for securing panels (70) according to claim 19 wherein the housing (24) is provided with tunnels (26) on each side aligned with said protrusions (34) so that the protrusions (34) slide into said tunnels (26) such that the lock members (30, 31) are substantially secured to the lock base (20, 21) after the lock collar (40) is placed in between the lock members (30, 31).

21. A method for securing panels (70) according to claim 19 wherein the housing (24) is provided with runnels (26) on each side aligned with openings located on the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) so that the lock pin (50) can extend through the openings and the tunnels (26) to fasten the pair of lock members (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) to the lock base (21).

22. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 21 wherein the lock base (20, 21) is located within the volume of the panels (70) such that an outer surface of the lock base (20, 21) is flush with said side surface of the panels (70).

23. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 22 wherein the first panel (701) and second panel (702) can be joined at any angle in relation to one another.

24. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 23 wherein a plurality of panels (70) are joined together to form a refrigeration unit.

25. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 24 wherein the joint between the panels (70) is substantially airtight.

26. A method for securing panels (70) according to any of claims 14 through 25 wherein the sheets (710. 711) have a metal composition.

Description:

REFRIGERATOR PANEL FASTENING APPARATUS AND METHOD

THEREOF

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to an apparatus for joining and fastening refrigerator panels and the method thereof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Currently, the manufacturing of industrial refrigerators and cooling units is usually carried out by building the complete structure of the refrigerator including pre- welding before the insulation material, polyurethane (PU) is injected into the hollow within each panel. The whole assembled unit is then delivered to the end user.

This practice has three major disadvantages. Firstly, shipping and storing whole assembled units of industrial refrigerators consumes a large transportation and storage space. Since shipping and storage costs are usually based on volume, this translates into a high cost. ' As the inside of the refrigerator is empty by design, the total volume used in shipping and storing refrigerators could be significantly reduced if the refrigerator could be shipped in pre-assembled panel form, with a system for easy assembly at the end user's location. The second disadvantage of the current practice is the more complex and therefore costlier requirements of the equipment needed for assembly. This includes the design of the PU injecting equipment needed for an assembled refrigerator. Assembled whole refrigerator, units have larger panels with larger hollows thus requiring a PU injector with a higher pressure. If the PU injection process could be performed on loose, single panels as opposed to whole refrigerator units, the PU injecting equipment would not ne.ed to have such a high pressure capability and the cost could therefore be reduced. The third disadvantage of the current assembly method involves using welding to join the walls, floor and roof of the unit together. Welding not only requires a substantial input of energy, but is also a permanent joining technique. In some cases, it may be desirable to disassemble the unit

after being in operation for a length of time, and having welded joints significantly limits the possibility for subsequent disassembly of the unit.

Therefore, it is much desired to have a system and apparatus thereof for easy assembly of refrigerator panels with minimal skill or tools, and preferably after the PU has been injected within each panel.

It is also desired to have an apparatus and method thereof for joining of individual panels that are smaller than a complete refrigerator unit and at the location of the end user.

What is further desired is to have an apparatus and method thereof for joining panels to form a complete refrigerator that allows subsequent disassembly of the unit in a repeatable fashion.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for fastening refrigerator panels securely to each other by using fastening locks that are able to accommodate different joining angles so that an infinite number of designs may be assembled from a set number of panels. This invention allows the assembly to take place at the end user location, thus reducing the volume required for, and therefore cost of shipping and storing individual panels as opposed to complete refrigerator units. The smaller size of the individual panels requires less costly Polyurethane (PU) injection equipment, as a lower pressure is required to inject PU into smaller sized panels. This invention also replaces welding as a joining technique for the panels, thus allowing for subsequent disassembly and reassembly of the panels in a repeatable fashion.

This invention also relates to a fastening apparatus for securing panels comprising: a first lock base fixed to a side surface of a first panel; a pair of lock members, a protrusion on a first end of each of the lock members being inserted into tunnels located on the first lock base, a lock collar placed in between the lock members thus

securing the lock members to the first lock base; a second lock base fixed to a side surface of a second panel to be joined to the first panel; a second end of the lock members and lock collar being inserted into a housing on the second lock base; a lock pin securing the lock collar and lock members to the second lock base. The. lock pin is extended through openings located on the second end of the lock collar and the lock members such that the lock collar and lock members are fixed in relation to each other and the lock bases. A protrusion located on a first end of each lock member slides into a tunnel opening on each side of the first lock base such that the lock members and the lock collar is substantially secured to the first lock base. The lock bases are located within the volume of the panels such that an outer surface of the lock base is flush with the side surface of the panels. The panels can be joined at any angle in relation to one another. Each of the panels comprises two metal sheets sandwiched around an inner core of Polyurethane foam. In this fashion, any number of the fastening apparatus of this invention can be used to join a plurality of panels to form a complete refrigeration unit. The panels can be joined at any angle in relation to one another so that a multitude of refrigeration unit designs is achievable from only a set number of panel types.

This invention also relates to a method for securing refrigerator panels to each other to form a complete refrigeration unit comprising the steps of: a. fixing a first lock base to a side surface of a first panel;

• b. attaching a first end of a first lock member to one side of the first lock base; c. attaching a first end of a second lock member to an opposite side of the first lock base; d. placing a lock collar in between the first and second lock members; e. fixing a second lock base to a side surface of a second panel to be joined to the first panel; f. attaching a second end of the lock members and lock collar to the second lock base; and g. extending a lock pin through openings located on the second end the lock members and lock collar.

The lock collar is substantially fixed in relation to the lock members by the lock pin. The panels comprise two sheets sandwiched around an inner core of injected Polyurethane foam. The lock base is first temporarily secured within the hollow in between the two sheets by tape, and the Polyurethane foam is then injected in between the two sheets and solidifies around the lock base. The lock base is hence located within the volume of the panels such that an outer surface of the lock base is flush with the side surface of the panels. Using this method, any number of the fastening apparatus of this invention can be used to join a plurality of panels to form a complete refrigeration unit. The panels can be joined at any angle in relation to one another so that a multitude of refrigeration unit designs is achievable from only a set number of panel types.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows an exploded view of the fastening device in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 2a to 2c show the lock base in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 3 a to 3 c show the lock member in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 4a to 4c show the lock collar in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 5a and 5b show the lock pin in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 6a and 6b show the panel in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 7 to 9 show the assembly method of the fastening device in an embodiment of the present invention.

Figures 10a to 1 Od show the assembly method of a refrigeration unit in an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

It should be noted that the following detailed description is directed to a refrigerator panel fastening apparatus and method thereof and is not limited to any particular size, shape or configuration of any individual parts of the device or the device as a whole.

Referring to Figure 1, there can be seen an exploded view the fastening device of the present invention with a pair of lock bases (20, 21) having a housing (24) at a central location and flanked by two tunnels (26) that lead to an opening on each side of the lock base (20, 21). A lock collar (40) sandwiched in between a pair of lock members (30, 31), the lock collars having a side protrusion (34) at a first end. This sandwich of the lock collar (40) and the lock members (30, 31) forms a shape that fits snugly at each end into the housing (24) on each of the lock bases (20, 21). A lock pin (50) slides through the openings aligned through a second end of the sandwich of the lock collar (40) and the lock members (30, 31), and extends through a pair of tunnels (26) that flank a housing (24) located on the second lock base. A cap (55) located on a proximal end of the lock pin (50) stops the lock pin from sliding all the way through the openings and tunnels (26).

Figures 2a to 2c show perspective, side and top views of the lock base (20, 21) of the present invention having a curved housing (24) adapted to receive and house a sandwich comprising the lock collar and lock members of this invention. Flanking the sides of the housing (24) and running all the way to the sides of the lock base are two tunnels (26) with a cylindrical hollow within the tunnels that allow a lock pin of this invention to slide through.

Figures 3 a to 3 c show perspective, top and front views of a lock member (30, 31) of the present invention having a side protrusion (34) on one side at a first end adapted to slide substantially into a tunnel located on a lock base of this invention. There is a cylindrical through opening at a second end of the lock member (30, 31) and a second larger through opening at a location substantially central to the lock member (30, 31).

Figures 4a to 4c show perspective, top and front views of a lock collar (40) of the present invention having a pair of through openings at each end that allow for a lock pin of this invention to pass through. This lock collar functions as a spacer in between a pair of lock members of this invention so that the lock members will fit snugly into a housing located on the lock base of this invention.

Figures 5a and 5b show a perspective and front view of the lock pin (50) of the present invention having a tapered distal end with a hollow length within the distal end that allows a stopper to be fastened to the distal end of the lock pin (50). The proximal end of the lock pin (50) has a cap (55) with a diameter substantially larger than that of the lock pin and that functions as a stopper to prevent the lock pin (50) from sliding all the way through openings and tunnels of this invention.

With reference to any of Figures 1 to 5, the fastening apparatus of this invention is further described herein. A first lock base (20) is fixed to a side surface of a first panel; a pair of lock members (30, 31), a protrusion (34) located on a first end of each of the lock members (30, 31) being inserted into a pair of tunnels (26) located on each side of a housing (24) on the first lock base (20); a lock collar (40) placed in between the lock members (30, 31) to fasted the lock members (30, 31) to the lock base (20). A second lock base (21) is fixed to a side surface of a second panel to be joined to the first panel. A second end of the lock members (30, 31) and lock collar (40) is inserted into a housing (24) located on the second lock base (21). A lock pin (50) is extended through a through-hole created by the alignment of openings on the lock member (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) and a pair of tunnels (26) located on each side of a housing (24) on the second lock base (21), thus securing the lock collar (40) and lock members (30, 31) to the second lock base (21). The diameter of the lock pin (50) is only a fraction smaller than the diameter of the tunnels (26), thus making it difficult for the lock pin (50) to slide back out. This results in the first and second panels being securely fastened to each other.

Figures 6a and 6b show how the lock base (20) is attached to the panels (70) in the present invention. A plurality of lock bases (20) is temporarily attached (by tape or

other means) at a side surface of a volume created by placing two metal panels (710, 711) close to each other. Polyurethane foam is then injected into the space between the two panels (710, 711) to form the inner core (720). The lock base (20) is hence located within the volume of the panels (70) such that an outer surface of the lock base (20) is flush with the side surface of the panels. The inner core (720) acts as a heat insulator for the refrigerator. The panels (70) are now ready for fastening using a method of the present invention as described below.

Now referring to Figures 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a and 9b, there is described the method for fastening refrigerator panels of the present invention. This method comprises the steps of: a. fixing a first lock base (20) to a side surface of a first panel (701) (using a method as described in the preceding paragraph above, but also achievable by other methods); b. attaching a first end of a first lock member (30) to one side of the lock base (20) by c. inserting a protrusion (34) on a first end of the first lock member (30) into a tunnel (26) located on one side of a housing (24) of the first lock base (20); d. attaching a first end of a second lock member (31) to an opposite side of the lock base (20) by inserting a protrusion (34) on a first end of the second lock member (31) into a tunnel (26) located on an opposite side of the housing (24) of the first lock base (20); e. placing a lock collar (40) in between the two lock members (30, 31) thereby securing the lock members (30, 31) to the first lock base (20); f. fixing a second lock base (21) to a side surface of a second panel (702) to be joined to the first panel (701) (using a method as described in the preceding paragraph above, but also achievable by other methods); g. inserting a second end of the lock members (30, 31) and lock collar (40) into a housing (24) of the second lock base (21); and h. extending a lock pin (50) through a through-hole created by the alignment of openings on the lock member (30, 31) and the lock collar (40) and a pair of tunnels (26) located on each side of a housing (24) on the second lock base (21), thus securing the lock collar (40) and lock members (30, 31) to the second lock base (21).

The diameter of the lock pin (50) is only a fraction smaller than the diameter of the tunnels (26), thus making it difficult for the lock pin (50) to slide back out. This results in the first panel being securely fixed to the second panel.

Using this method, any number of the fastening apparatus of this invention can be used to join a plurality of panels to form a complete refrigeration unit. The panels (70) can be joined at any angle in relation to one another so that a multitude of refrigeration unit designs is achievable from only a set number of panel types.

Figures 10a to -1Od explain how a plurality of the fastening apparatus of this invention can be used to join plurality of panels (70) to form a complete refrigeration unit, using the methods of this invention. In Figure 10a, a first panel (701) is joined to a second panel (702) to form the rear wall of a refrigeration unit. In Figure 10b this rear wall is joined to the floor panel (703). The top panel (704) is then attached along with the front vertical beam (706) as illustrated by Figure 10c. In Figure 1Od, a pair of side wall panels (705) are attached to the assembly, as well as a front horizontal beam (707). The front horizontal (707) and vertical beams (706) as well as the front edges of the side wall panels (705), top panel (704) and floor panel (703) form the frame allowing the refrigerator doors to be installed.

It is a huge benefit of this invention that a multitude of refrigerator unit designs can be a achieved by only a small number of panel types. This greatly lowers the cost of transportation and storage of refrigeration units on the way to the end user. This invention also allows for subsequent dismantling of the panels in the case that the refrigerator unit need to be moved.

While several particularly preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described and illustrated, it should now be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the following claims are intended to embrace such changes, modifications, and areas of application that are within the spirit and scope of this invention.