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Title:
DOMESTIC APPLIANCE FOR PROCESSING FOOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/109196
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A domestic appliance (1) for processing food comprises a jar (10) for receiving and containing food, a knife assembly (20) for rotatable arrangement inside the jar (10), comprising at least one knife blade (21) designed for cutting food in the jar (10) and imposing movement upon food in the jar (10) during rotation of the knife assembly (20), and driving means for rotating the knife assembly (20) about a rotation axis (24) that extends in a substantially horizontal direction in an operational orientation of the appliance (1). A diameter of the knife assembly (20) is in a range of 3 to 20 cm, and an axial dimension of the knife assembly (20) is adapted to an axial dimension of the jar (10) so that the knife assembly (20) is designed for extending along at least a substantial part of the length of the jar (10) in the substantially horizontal direction.

Inventors:
TE VELDE MART (NL)
VAN DER JAGT WOUTER (NL)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2017/083120
Publication Date:
June 21, 2018
Filing Date:
December 15, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS NV (NL)
International Classes:
A47J43/046; A47J43/07
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014198225A12014-12-18
WO2016071310A12016-05-12
Foreign References:
CN2231076Y1996-07-17
US4655701A1987-04-07
US20100012639A12010-01-21
US20040252581A12004-12-16
EP1466544A12004-10-13
US3450179A1969-06-17
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEENBEEK, Leonardus, Johannes et al. (Intellectual Property & StandardsHigh Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. Domestic appliance (1, 2) for processing food, comprising:

a jar (10) for receiving and containing food,

a knife assembly (20) for rotatable arrangement inside the jar (10), comprising at least one knife blade (21) designed for cutting food in the jar (10) and imposing movement upon food in the jar (10) during rotation of the knife assembly (20), and

driving means (30) for rotating the knife assembly (20) about a rotation axis (24) that extends in a substantially horizontal direction in a normal, operational orientation of the appliance (1, 2),

wherein a diameter of the knife assembly is in a range of 3 to 20 cm, and - wherein an axial dimension of the knife assembly (20) is adapted to an axial dimension of the jar (10) so that the knife assembly (20) is designed for extending along at least a substantial part of the length of the jar (10) in the substantially horizontal direction.

2. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to claim 1, wherein the driving means (30) comprise a rotatable outgoing shaft (32) for coupling to the knife assembly (20), the outgoing shaft (32) extending in the substantially horizontal direction in the normal, operational orientation of the appliance (1, 2), thereby defining the substantially horizontal rotation axis (24) of the knife assembly (20). 3. Domestic appliance (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the knife assembly

(20) is designed for double-sided mounting inside the jar (10).

4. Domestic appliance (2) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the knife assembly (20) is designed for single-sided mounting inside the jar (10).

5. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-4, comprising a housing (31) for accommodating the driving means (30), the housing (31) being positioned in a side-by- side configuration with the jar (10) in the normal, operational orientation of the appliance (1, 2).

6. Domestic appliance (1) according to claim 5, wherein the housing (31) and the jar (10) share a base portion (15) of the appliance (1) that serves for supporting the appliance (1) on a surface.

7. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-6, wherein the jar (10) comprises a food receptacle (11) having an open top side and a top cover (12) for covering the open top side of the food receptacle (11), wherein sealing means are provided for sealing the top cover (12) on the food receptacle (11) when the top cover (12) is in position on the food receptacle (11).

8. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-7, wherein the knife assembly (20) is shaped like a drum being rotatable about the substantially horizontal rotation axis (24) and having a number of elongated knife blades (21) extending from one axial position (A) of the drum-shaped knife assembly (20) to another axial position (B) of the drum-shaped knife assembly (20), at different angular positions of the drum-shaped knife assembly (20) with open spaces (23) between them.

9. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to claim 8, wherein the knife blades (21) are positioned at a maximum radius (r) of the drum- shaped knife assembly (20).

10. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to claim 8 or 9, wherein a wall (16) of the jar (10) is designed for encompassing at least a portion of the drum- shaped knife assembly (20) at close distance, and wherein a distance (d) between the wall (16) of the jar (10) and the drum-shaped knife assembly (20) is in a range of 3 to 4 mm.

11. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 8-10, wherein the drum- shaped knife assembly (20) has a conical appearance, a radius (r) of the drum-shaped knife assembly (20) increasing from the one axial position (A) to the other axial position (B).

12. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-7, wherein the knife assembly (20) comprises a rotatable central shaft (25) and knives (26) positioned on the shaft (25) in a spiraling arrangement or knives (27) protruding from the shaft (25).

13. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-12, wherein the driving means (30) are configured and arranged for rotating the knife assembly (20) at a rotational speed of at least 1 ,600 rpm.

14. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-13, wherein the driving means (30) are configured and arranged for rotating the knife assembly (20) at a rotational speed in a range of 5,000 to 10,000 rpm.

15. Domestic appliance (1, 2) according to any of claims 1-13, wherein the driving means (30) are configured and arranged for rotating the knife assembly (20) at a rotational speed in a range of 10,000 to 20,000 rpm.

Description:
Domestic appliance for processing food

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a domestic appliance for processing food, comprising: a jar for receiving and containing food, a knife assembly for rotatable arrangement inside the jar, comprising at least one knife blade designed for cutting food in the jar and imposing movement upon food in the jar during rotation of the knife assembly, and driving means for rotating the knife assembly about a rotation axis, wherein a diameter of the knife assembly is in a range of 3 to 20 cm.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A domestic appliance for processing food as mentioned in the opening paragraph is a type of domestic appliance that is well known and often referred to as food processor or blender. In the context of the present description, the word "blender" is used. In this respect, it is noted that this should not be understood such as to imply that the invention involves other limitations than those defined in the opening paragraph. In comparison to industrial appliances for processing food, a domestic appliance for processing food has relatively small dimensions. In this respect, it is noted that the invention relates to an appliance in which a diameter of the knife assembly is in a range of 3 to 20 cm. Other ranges of the diameter of the knife assembly which are applicable in a domestic context are ranges having an upper limit of 15 cm, 13 cm, and 10 cm, respectively. Furthermore, in many cases, a rotational speed at which the knife assembly can be driven is significantly higher in the domestic context than in the industrial context.

WO 2016/071310 Al discloses a hand blender comprising a chopping accessory, a container, a chopping element, a cover and a power unit, wherein the chopping accesory and the chopping element form a chopping unit. At the centre of the bottom of the container, a pin is arranged for locating and bearing the chopping element after assembly. The chopping accesory is cup-shaped, which both restricts and forms a chopping space therein. The chopping element is used to chop food ingredients within the chopping space, and comprises a central shaft and layer of rotating chopping knives. After assembly, the bottom end of the chopping element sits on the pin and the top end of the chopping element is coupable to the power unit through the cover, wherein the central shaft of the chopping element extends in a substantially vertical direction. The chopping accessory is not an essential component of the hand blender and may be omitted, in which case the chopping space is defined only by the container.

Before operation of the hand blender including the chopping accessory is initiated, the container, the chopping accessory, the chopping element and the cover are assembled. The chopping accessory is placed into the container. Then, the chopping element is inserted into the chopping accessory, with knife tips thereof passing vertically through channels arranged on an inner side wall of the chopping assembly. The ingredients to be chopped are introduced into the chopping space of the chopping accessory and then the cover is put on top to close the container. Finally, the power unit is assembled onto the cover and its driving shaft is coupled to the top end of the chopping element. During operation, the power unit is activated to drive the chopping element. As a result of the rotary motion of the chopping element about the longitudinal axis of the central shaft thereof, the knives are enabled to chop the ingredients as present in the chopping space into small pieces.

An important function of a blender is making a fine blend of food ingredients. For example, a blender may be used for preparing baby food by making a fine blend of vegetables and/or fruits. Other possible applications of a blender include applications aimed at making smoothies, milkshakes, etc., or crushing ice. When a blender is used for making a fine blend of food ingredients, it is desired to have a smooth texture without any large pieces. Fine blending involves beneficial health aspects, as breaking the cell walls of vegetables and fruits releases nutrients that can be absorbed by the stomach.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide a blender that is capable of making an even finer blend of food ingredients than known blenders. To this end, according to the invention, the basic layout of the blender is changed as far as the orientation of the axis about which the knife assembly is rotatable is concerned. In particular, according to the invention, the overall layout of the blender is chosen so as to allow for a positioning of the knife assembly in which the knife assembly is rotatable about a rotation axis that extends in a substantially horizontal direction in a normal, operational orientation of the appliance, wherein the driving means are configured and arranged to actually realize the intended rotational motion of the knife assembly in the orientation as mentioned. In view thereof, the invention relates to a domestic appliance for processing food, comprising: ajar for receiving and containing food, a knife assembly for rotatable arrangement inside the jar, comprising at least one knife blade designed for cutting food in the jar and imposing movement upon food in the jar during rotation of the knife assembly, and driving means for rotating the knife assembly about a rotation axis that extends in a substantially horizontal direction in a normal, operational orientation of the appliance, wherein a diameter of the knife assembly is in a range of 3 to 20 cm, and wherein an axial dimension of the knife assembly is adapted to an axial dimension of the jar so that the knife assembly is designed for extending along at least a substantial part of the length of the jar in the substantially horizontal direction.

In the following description of the blender according to the invention, the conventional layout of the blender with the substantially vertical rotation axis of the knife assembly will be referred to as vertical layout, whereas the inventive layout of the blender with the substantially horizontal rotation axis of the knife assembly will be referred to as horizontal layout. Furthermore, a blender having a vertical layout will be referred to as vertical blender, whereas a blender having a horizontal layout will be referred to as horizontal blender.

Advantageously, the horizontal layout of the blender according to the invention allows for adapting an axial dimension of the knife assembly to an axial dimension of the jar so that the knife assembly is designed for extending along at least a substantial part of the length of the jar in the substantially horizontal direction. In the horizontal layout, the knife assembly can extend along almost the entire length of the jar in the substantially horizontal direction, which is completely different from the vertical layout, in which the knives are only present at one or more layers. In this respect, it is noted that the at least one knife blade may have an elongated shape and may extend in the substantially horizontal direction or in a near horizontal direction. Having a knife assembly that is as long as possible contributes to cutting efficiency of the knife assembly.

The horizontal layout of the blender according to the invention appears to involve a number of further advantages. In the first place, it appears that it is possible, indeed, to obtain a finer blend with a horizontal blender than with a vertical blender. This was confirmed in tests performed in the context of the invention. An explanation is found in a difference of the extent to which the flow in the jar is defined. In the case of the horizontal blender, the flow in the jar is well defined, being determined by the rotating knife assembly, the geometry of the jar and the substantially horizontal orientation. In the case of the vertical blender, the rotating knife assembly has limited influence on the blend movement at parts of the jar which are remote from the knife layer(s). Moreover, in the horizontal layout, it is possible for the knife assembly to be designed so as to comprise knife blades extending at a maximum radial distance from the substantially horizontal rotation axis, in which case the knife blades are moved at maximum speed during operation of the blender, resulting in optimal cutting efficiency of the knife blades.

In the second place, in the horizontal layout, especially when the knife assembly comprises knife blades extending at a maximum radial distance from the rotation axis, it appears to be possible to have a layout of the knife assembly in which relatively large spaces are present between the respective knife blades, which allows for processing relatively large food items without needing to pre-cut those.

In the third place, it appears that it is possible to have a more appealing appearance, particularly a less bulky appearance, of the blender. A vertical blender is relatively high in view of the fact that a unit accommodating the motor for driving the knife assembly is positioned underneath or above the jar. The width of such unit is often adapted to the width of the jar. What's more, the jar in its filled status renders the blender top-heavy, and the base unit is made even wider for providing stability. Contrariwise, a horizontal blender can be relatively slim and low, and is therefore better suited for use on a countertop. A housing for accommodating the motor (driving means) can be positioned in a side-by-side configuration with the jar in the normal, operational orientation of the blender, allowing for having a more elongated and slim appearance of the jar at the same volume.

Many options existing within the context of the vertical blender are also applicable to the context of the horizontal blender. In the following, a few of those options will be listed. It is possible for the horizontal blender to be equipped with more than one knife assembly. Two knife assemblies may be arranged at substantially the same level or at different levels, whatever is appropriate in view of a given situation. The at least one knife blade of the knife assembly can have any suitable shape, including a straight shape. The jar may be equipped with a handle for ease of manipulation by a user and/or a spout for ease of a jar emptying action. Also, one or more additional tools may be used with the horizontal blender, such as an additional tool by means of which a user is capable of influencing a flow of food items inside the jar during operation of the blender. It is preferred for both the jar and the knife assembly to have a removable arrangement in the blender, so that it is possible for a user of the blender to take the blender apart for cleaning purposes, wherein the housing accommodating the motor can remain on a countertop, and wherein the jar and the knife assembly can be rinsed under a tap in a sink, can be put in a dishwasher, etc. The jar may be made of any suitable material or combination of materials, wherein it is advantageous if at least a part of the jar is transparent so that a user of the blender may inspect the content of the jar during a blending operation. Examples of materials suitable for use in the jar are glass, plastic and stainless steel. The at least one knife blade can be made of stainless steel or another appropriate material.

In a practical embodiment, the horizontal blender is an electric appliance in which the driving means comprise an electric motor. The horizontal blender may be connectable to the mains and/or comprise a battery for powering the motor. In order to allow for use of the blender over a broad range of applications, it is advantageous if measures aimed at allowing for more than one speed setting of the knife assembly are taken. For example, at a relatively low speed, the blender can be used for mixing, kneading and/or coarse cutting, whereas at a relatively high speed, the blender can be used for making a fine blend of ingredients.

Preferably, the jar comprises a food receptacle having an open top side and a top cover for covering the open top side of the food receptacle. In that case, in order to prevent fluid flowing against the top cover from leaking from the jar, it is advantageous if sealing means are provided for sealing the top cover on the food receptacle when the top cover is in position on the food receptacle. Such sealing means may also have a function in securing the top cover so that it will not fall off during blending operation. Alternatively, an additional lock or other securing means may be applied. The top cover may be configured and arranged so as to be completely removable from the food receptacle, to be slidable with respect to the food receptacle, to be hingable with respect to the food receptacle, whatever is appropriate in a given situation for allowing for movement of the top cover between an opened position, i.e. a position for allowing access to the interior of the jar, and a closed position, i.e. a position for sealing the jar. Irrespective of the exact layout of the top cover, it is practical if safety measures are taken in order to avoid a situation in which the interior of the jar may be accessible while the knife assembly is rotating. For example, a safety switch and a relay may be used, wherein the safety switch may be arranged at a position on the blender where it is put in a state for shutting off power supply to the driving means when the top cover is put to the opened position, and the relay may be arranged on the driving means.

As mentioned in the foregoing, the driving means of the blender according to the invention may comprise an electric motor, as usual in the field of domestic appliances. In any case, it is practical for the driving means to comprise a rotatable outgoing shaft for coupling to the knife assembly, the outgoing shaft extending in the substantially horizontal direction in the normal, operational orientation of the appliance, thereby defining the substantially horizontal rotation axis of the knife assembly. In such practical embodiment, the driving means are oriented such that the outgoing shaft thereof is in the substantially horizontal direction, so that the direction in which the outgoing shaft extends is the same as the intended direction of the rotation axis of the knife assembly, which contributes to the realization of an uncomplicated layout of the blender.

Various constructional possibilities exist within the framework of the invention. For example, it may be so that the knife assembly is designed for double-sided mounting inside the jar. Alternatively, it is possible for the knife assembly to be designed for single-sided mounting inside the jar. Mounting the knife assembly at two sides, i.e. at two different axial positions, in the jar yields a very robust construction. Mounting the knife assembly at only one side in the jar is possible if the knife assembly is lightweight to a sufficient extent and if the construction can be made robust enough for withstanding forces exerted on the knife assembly by food items during operation. Single-sided mounting involves the advantage that it suffices to have bearings at only one side of the knife assembly, as a result of which removing the knife assembly from the jar and positioning of the knife assembly in the jar are relatively easy to do.s

As mentioned in the foregoing, the blender according to the invention may comprise a housing for accommodating the driving means, the housing being positioned in a side-by-side configuration with the jar in the normal, operational orientation of the appliance. The particular arrangement as mentioned is enabled as a direct consequence of the

substantially horizontal orientation of the rotation axis of the knife assembly, as such orientation allows for an arrangement in which the driving means are arranged behind the knife assembly as seen from the side of the jar in the substantially horizontal direction, which is an arrangement in which the housing accommodating the driving means is positioned in a side-by-side configuration with the jar. Thus, among other things, the horizontal blender can have a relatively low appearance which is advantageous in view of its intended use on a countertop. In the side-by-side configuration of the housing and the jar, the housing and the jar may share a base portion of the appliance that serves for supporting the appliance on a surface.

The knife assembly may have any appearance that is suitable for allowing the knife assembly to perform its functions of cutting food in the jar and imposing movement upon food in the jar during rotation of the knife assembly. In one advantageous embodiment, the knife assembly is shaped like a drum being rotatable about the substantially horizontal rotation axis and having a number of elongated knife blades extending from one axial position of the drum-shaped knife assembly to another axial position of the drum-shaped knife assembly, at different angular positions of the drum- shaped knife assembly with open spaces between them. When the drum-shaped knife assembly is rotated, food items as present in the jar are effectively cut by the knife blades, and the content of the jar is put in motion under the influence of the rotation of the knife assembly. When the knife blades are positioned at a maximum radius of the drum-shaped knife assembly, it is achieved that the knife blades are moved at maximum speed during rotation of the knife assembly, and also that the open spaces between the knife blades can be as large as possible, which enables the knife assembly to grab and process relatively large food items.

When the horizontal blender is equipped with a drum-shaped knife assembly as mentioned, it is advantageous for a wall of the jar to be designed for encompassing at least a portion of the knife assembly at close distance, as in such case, an effective flow can be obtained inside the jar. However, the distance is preferably not too small, as that would result in high viscous friction between the knife assembly and the jar. A practical range for a distance between the wall of the jar and the drum- shaped knife assembly is a range of 3 to 4 mm.

The drum-shaped knife assembly may have a straight appearance, i.e. a diameter that is constant along the axial length of the knife assembly, but it is also possible for the drum-shaped knife assembly to have a conical appearance, a radius of the drum- shaped knife assembly increasing from the one axial position to the other axial position. A conical shape may contribute to the creation of more flow in axial direction, which is beneficial for achieving good blending results. In any case, the drum-shaped knife assembly may be equipped with a central shaft, the knife blades being arranged so as to surround the central shift at discrete intervals, at a certain radial distance from the central shaft.

Other possible embodiments of the knife assembly include embodiments in which the knife assembly comprises a rotatable central shaft and knives positioned on the shaft in a spiraling arrangement or knives protruding from the shaft, wherein the latter knives may have any suitable shape.

In view of the intended functionality of the horizontal blender, it is practical if the driving means are configured and arranged for rotating the knife assembly at a rotational speed of at least 1,600 rpm. Possible ranges of the rotational speed are a range of 5,000 to 10,000 rpm, or even a range of 10,000 to 20,000 rpm. As mentioned in the foregoing, it is a feasible option to have a way of varying the rotational speed in a blender, wherein the rotational speed may be set at one of several predetermined values, or may be continuously variable in a certain range.

The above-described and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the following detailed description of two embodiments of a blender comprising ajar for receiving and containing food, a knife assembly for rotatable arrangement inside the jar, and driving means for rotating the knife assembly about a rotation axis, a notable feature of the blender being the fact that the layout of the blender is chosen so as to have a substantially horizontal orientation of the rotation axis in a normal, operational orientation of the blender.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be explained in greater detail with reference to the figures, in which equal or similar parts are indicated by the same reference signs, and in which:

Fig. 1 diagrammatically shows a perspective view of a blender according to a first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 diagrammatically shows a top view of ajar of the blender as shown in Fig. 1 and a knife assembly arranged in the jar, with a top cover of the jar being removed;

Fig. 3 illustrates a general layout of a blender according to a second embodiment of the invention; and

Figs. 4 and 5 diagrammatically show alternative embodiments of the knife assembly that is part of the blender according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Fig. 1 shows a blender 1 according to a first embodiment of the invention. The orientation of the blender 1 as can be seen in the figure is the normal, operational orientation of the blender 1.

The blender 1 is intended for processing food, particularly by cutting food and imposing movement upon food. Examples of types of food to be processed by means of the blender 1 are vegetables and fruits. For the purpose of receiving and containing food, the blender comprises ajar 10 having a food receptacle 11 with an open top side and a top cover 12 for covering the open top side of the food receptacle 11. In the shown example, at least a standing wall of the food receptacle 1 1 is made of a transparent material so that a user of the blender 1 is enabled to keep an eye on the content of the jar 10 during operation of the blender 1. The jar 10 has a slim appearance, a periphery of the jar 10 as seen from the top having a rectangular shape with rounded edges and a long side that is significantly longer than a short side. Preferably, the jar 10 is removable from the blender 1, so that a user is enabled to pick up the jar 10 and empty it at a desired location after operation of the blender 1. In that case, it is preferred if the blender 1 is equipped with suitable means for locking the jar 10 in place, so that there is no risk of the jar 10 getting detached unexpectedly.

The top cover 12 serves for sealing the food receptacle 11 during operation of the blender 1. Also, the top cover 12 may serve for keeping dust and dirt out of the food receptacle 11 during the times that the blender 1 is not used. In the shown example, the top cover 12 is completely removable from the food receptacle 11, but that does not alter the fact that other options of the arrangement of the top cover 12 exist within the scope of the invention. In order to enhance the sealing effect of the top cover 12, it is advantageous if the food receptacle 11 and/or the top cover 12 are provided with appropriate sealing means. For example, the top cover 12 may be provided with a ring of a flexible/deformable material along its periphery. Such sealing means may also have a function in preventing the top cover 12 from falling off during operation, when a food flow moves against the top cover 12 from the inside of the jar 10. Friction in the sealing may be sufficient, but it is also possible that some kind of lock or other securing means is applied for temporarily securing the top cover 12 to the food receptacle 11.

The blender 1 furthermore comprises a knife assembly 20 for rotatable arrangement inside the jar 10. The knife assembly 20 serves for cutting food items during operation of the blender 10, and also for imposing movement upon a content of the jar 10. To that end, the knife assembly 20 comprises at least one knife blade 21. Fig. 2 shows the jar 10 and the knife assembly 20 arranged in the jar 10, with the top cover 12 of the jar 10 being removed. In the shown example, the knife assembly 20 comprises a central shaft 22 and two knife blades 21 extending substantially parallel to the central shaft 22 and to each other, on either side of the central shaft 22, at a certain distance from the central shaft 22 so that open spaces 23 are present in the knife assembly 20. Hence, the knife blades 21 extend from one axial position A of the knife assembly 20 to another axial position B of the knife assembly 20. Advantageously, the knife blades 21 are long enough for extending from one side of the food receptacle 11 to another side of the food receptacle 11 , thereby being effective along the entire length or almost the entire length of the food receptacle 11 in the axial direction. The appearance of the knife assembly 20 as shown in Figs. 1 and 2 is generally referred to as a drum-shaped appearance, wherein it is possible for the knife assembly 20 to comprise more than two knife blades 21. For example, the knife assembly 20 may comprise three or four knife blades 21 evenly distributed about the central shaft 22.

In the blender 1 according to the first embodiment of the invention, the knife assembly 20 is designed for double-sided mounting inside the jar 10. The knife assembly 20 may have a fixed arrangement inside the jar 10, but it is preferred if the knife assembly 20 is detachably arranged, so that the knife assembly 20 may be removed from the jar 10, particularly for cleaning purposes. In the shown example, when the knife assembly 20 is in place in the jar 10, the knife assembly 20 is rotatably supported by two bearings 13, 14 which are located inside the jar 10. A rotation axis 24 of the knife assembly 20, which coincides with a central axis of the central shaft 22 of the knife assembly 20 in the shown example, extends in a substantially horizontal direction in the normal, operational orientation of the blender 1.

For the purpose of driving the knife assembly 20 during operation of the blender 1 , the blender 1 is equipped with an electric motor. The electric motor is

accommodated in a housing 31 and has an outgoing shaft for coupling with the knife assembly 20. The outgoing shaft extends in the substantially horizontal direction as well, a central axis of the outgoing shaft coinciding with both the central axis of the central shaft 22 of the knife assembly 20 and the rotation axis 24. The housing 31 is positioned in a side-by- side configuration with the jar 10 in the normal, operational orientation of the blender 1. In the shown example, the housing 31 is arranged directly besides the jar 10 in the direction of the long side of the jar 10, while having a transverse dimension that is not larger than the length of the short side of the jar 10, as a result of which the blender 1 has a slim overall appearance. Elements (not shown) such as buttons and/or a touchscreen for allowing a user to control the operation of the blender 1 may be positioned on the housing 31. The jar 10 and the housing 31 may have a common base 15 as illustrated in Fig. 1. It is furthermore noted that the blender 1 may be equipped with any suitable means for establishing and releasing the coupling between the outgoing shaft of the motor and the knife assembly 20.

When a user decides to use the blender 1 for making a fine blend of food items, the following takes place. In the following description, it is assumed that initially, the jar 10 is in place in the blender 1, the top cover 12 is present on the food container 11, and the knife assembly 20 is in place inside the jar 10. In the first place, the user removes the top cover 12 from the food receptacle 11. Subsequently, the user puts the food items to be processed in the food receptacle 11 and closes the jar 10 by putting the top cover 12 back in place on the food receptacle 11. It is possible for the jar 10, particularly the top cover 12, to be equipped with an opening and some kind of valve arrangement for allowing a user to add ingredients at a later stage, during operation of the blender 1. As soon as the motor is activated, the knife assembly 20 starts to rotate about the rotation axis 24. In the process, food items are cut and a flow of food items through the jar 10 is obtained, wherein the food items get smaller and smaller as a result of cutting actions performed by the knife assembly

20 on the food items every time the food items are encountered by one of the knife blades 21. After some time, a fine blend of food ingredients is obtained and the operation of the blender 1 is stopped. At that point, the user removes the top cover 12 from the food receptacle 11 once again and picks up the food receptacle 11 from the base 15 for bringing the food receptacle 11 to another position for emptying it and removing the knife assembly 20. At a later stage, the user can assemble the blender 1 again by putting the food receptacle 11 , the knife assembly 20 and the top cover 12 back in place again.

Fig. 3 is related to a blender 2 according to a second embodiment of the invention. In the figure, only a schematic representation of the knife assembly 20 is given. Furthermore, a schematic representation of the motor for driving the knife assembly is shown and indicated by reference numeral 30. The outgoing shaft of the motor 30 is illustrated as well and indicated by reference numeral 32. A notable difference between the blender 1 according to the first embodiment of the invention and the blender 2 according to the second embodiment of the invention is related to the way in which the knife assembly 20 can be arranged inside the jar 10. In the case of the first blender 1, as explained in the foregoing, double-sided mounting of the knife assembly 20 is envisaged, whereas in the case of the second blender 1 , single-sided mounting of the knife assembly 20 is envisaged. In the latter case, bearings 13, 14 for rotatably supporting the knife assembly 20 are only present at a side of the knife assembly 20 where the knife assembly 20 is coupled to the outgoing shaft 32 of the motor 30.

It is advantageous to have the knife blades 21 of the knife assembly 20 arranged at a maximum radial distance r of the knife assembly 20, i.e. at an outer periphery of the knife assembly 20, so that the knife blades 21 move at maximum speed during rotation of the knife assembly 20. Furthermore, it is advantageous for a distance d between a wall 16 of the jar 10 and the knife assembly 20 to be relatively small along at least a portion of the knife assembly 20, for example as small as a value in a range of 3 to 4 mm. Having the relatively small distance d contributes to effectiveness of the flow inside the jar 10 during operation of the blender 1, wherein interaction between an entire content of the jar 10 and the knife blades

21 is guaranteed throughout the duration of the operation. Figs. 4 and 5 illustrate two of many possible alternative embodiments of the knife assembly 20, wherein Fig. 4 relates to an embodiment in which the knife assembly 20 comprises a rotatable central shaft 25 and knives 26 positioned on the shaft 25 in a spiraling arrangement, and wherein Fig. 5 relates to an embodiment in which the knife assembly 20 comprises a rotatable shaft 25 and knives 27 protruding from the shaft 25. In both cases, the knife assembly 20 is intended to be rotated about a central axis of the central shaft 25. In respect of the second embodiment mentioned here, it is noted that the knives 27 may have any suitable shape, including a shape with paddle-like portions 28 at free ends of the knives 27 as shown.

It will be clear to a person skilled in the art that the scope of the invention is not limited to the examples discussed in the foregoing, but that several amendments and modifications thereof are possible without deviating from the scope of the invention as defined in the attached claims. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such amendments and modifications insofar they come within the scope of the claims or the equivalents thereof. While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the figures and the description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary only, and not restrictive. The invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. The drawings are schematic, wherein details that are not required for understanding the invention may have been omitted, and not necessarily to scale.

Variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by a person skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the figures, the description and the attached claims. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other steps or elements, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention.

Elements and aspects discussed for or in relation with a particular embodiment may be suitably combined with elements and aspects of other embodiments, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Thus, the mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage.

The term "comprise" as used in this text will be understood by a person skilled in the art as covering the term "consist of. Hence, the term "comprise" may in respect of an embodiment mean "consist of, but may in another embodiment mean "contain/include at least the defined species and optionally one or more other species". The invention and the examples thereof described in the foregoing are in the context of domestic appliances, that is to say, appliances intended for use in homes, restaurants, canteens, etc. and relate to an application of a blender for processing food. That does not alter the fact that the general concept of the invention, which resides in the horizontal layout of the blender, is also relevant to other contexts such as a laboratory context in which a blender is used for processing substances such as chemical and/or medical substances. The general features of the appliance according to the invention are in no way restricted by the type of substance to be processed by means of the appliance, i.e. by the intended use of the appliance.

The invention may be summarized as follows. A domestic appliance 1, 2 for processing food comprises ajar 10 for receiving and containing food, a knife assembly 20 for rotatable arrangement inside the jar 10, comprising at least one knife blade 21 designed for cutting food in the jar 10 and imposing movement upon food in the jar 10 during rotation of the knife assembly 20, and driving means 30 for rotating the knife assembly 20 about a rotation axis 24 that extends in a substantially horizontal direction in a normal, operational orientation of the appliance 1, 2. A diameter of the knife assembly 20 is in a range of 3 to 20 cm, and an axial dimension of the knife assembly 20 is adapted to an axial dimension of the jar 10 so that the knife assembly 20 is designed for extending along at least a substantial part of the length of the jar 10 in the substantially horizontal direction. Thus, a horizontal layout of the appliance 1, 2 is obtained, which is advantageous for realizing fine blending, wherein furthermore a design of a knife assembly 20 comprising two or more knife blades 21 can be such that relatively large food items can be processed without pre-cutting.