Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
A TOOTHBRUSH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/069252
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A toothbrush (2) comprising a head (4) and a handle (6) wherein the handle (6) comprises a first part (8) and a second part (10), which first and second parts are 5 removably connectable to one another via a locking mechanism and wherein the handle (6) has a non-circular cross-section, where the locking mechanism comprises a bayonet element (30) and a socket (20); one of the bayonet element and the socket is integrally formed with the first part (8) of the handle (6); the other of the bayonet element (30) and the socket (20) is integrally formed with the second part (10) of the handle (6) and 10 wherein the socket (20) comprises an axis (21), an opening (22) and first and second channels (24) which channels are positioned transversely opposite one another, where each channel comprises: a first channel portion (25) extending axially from the opening (22) and having a first transverse dimension, and a second channel portion (26) extending axially from the first channel portion (25) having a second transverse 15 dimension larger than the first transverse dimension; and the bayonet element (30) comprises an axis (31) and first and second protrusions (32), which protrusions are positioned diametrically opposite one another, wherein each protrusion extends outwardly from the bayonet element (30), is axially receivable by a respective first channel portion (25) and is transversely receivable by a respective second channel 20 portion (26), where the bayonet element (30) further comprises one of a detent (38) and an indent (28), the socket further comprises the other of the detent (38) and the indent (28), and the detent (38) is receivable within the indent whereby the bayonet element (30) is lockably receivable within the socket (20) wherein the handle (6) has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section.

Inventors:
NEELY DEBORAH (GB)
Application Number:
EP2020/077150
Publication Date:
April 15, 2021
Filing Date:
September 28, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
UNILEVER IP HOLDINGS B V (NL)
UNILEVER GLOBAL IP LTD (GB)
CONOPCO INC D/B/A UNILEVER (US)
International Classes:
A46B5/00
Foreign References:
EP1276434A12003-01-22
AU4596272A1974-02-28
AU4596272A1974-02-28
EP1276434A12003-01-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TANSLEY, Sally, Elizabeth (Sharnbrook, Bedford Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A toothbrush (2) comprising a head (4) and a handle (6) wherein the handle (6) comprises a first part (8) and a second part (10), which first and second parts are removably connectable to one another via a locking mechanism and wherein the handle (6) has a non-circular cross-section, where the locking mechanism comprises a bayonet element (30) and a socket (20); one of the bayonet element and the socket is integrally formed with the first part (8) of the handle (6); the other of the bayonet element (30) and the socket (20) is integrally formed with the second part (10) of the handle (6) and where the socket (20) comprises an axis (21), an opening (22) and first and second channels (24) which channels are positioned transversely opposite one another, wherein each channel comprises: a first channel portion (25) extending axially from the opening (22) and having a first transverse dimension, and a second channel portion (26) extending axially from the first channel portion (25) having a second transverse dimension larger than the first transverse dimension; and the bayonet element (30) comprises an axis (31) and first and second protrusions (32), which protrusions are positioned diametrically opposite one another, wherein each protrusion extends outwardly from the bayonet element (30), is axially receivable by a respective first channel portion (25) and is transversely receivable by a respective second channel portion (26), and where the bayonet element (30) further comprises one of a detent (38) and an indent (28), the socket further comprises the other of the detent (38) and the indent (28), and the detent (38) is receivable within the indent whereby the bayonet element (30) is lockably receivable within the socket (20), wherein the handle has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section.

2. A toothbrush (2) according to claim 1, wherein each second channel portion (26) comprises a retention shelf (27) extending transversely along the second channel portion (26).

3. A toothbrush (2) according to claim 2, wherein the toothbrush is movable between a first configuration and a second configuration, wherein: the socket (20) and the bayonet element (30) are coaxial in both configurations; in the first configuration each of the first and second protrusions (32) is received in and aligned with a respective first channel portion (25); and in the second configuration each of the first and second protrusions (32) is received in a respective second channel portion (26) and in engagement with the retention shelf (27).

4. A toothbrush (2) according to claim 3, wherein the detent (38) is resiliently deformable between a neutral configuration and a depressed configuration, wherein the detent (38) is biased towards the neutral configuration.

5. A toothbrush (2) according to claim 3 wherein the detent (38) is configured to be receivable by the indent (28) when the toothbrush (2) is in the second configuration to thereby lock the toothbrush in the second configuration.

6. A toothbrush (2) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the second part of the handle (10) comprises a metal material and optionally wherein the metal material is Zamak.

7. A toothbrush (2) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the head (4) and the first part (8) of the handle are formed from a plastic material.

8. A toothbrush (2) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the head (4) comprises bristles (40).

Description:
A TOOTHBRUSH

Technical Field

This invention relates to a toothbrush comprising a handle and a head, the toothbrush being formed from two parts that may be lockably connected to one another during use.

Background and Prior Art

Known manual toothbrushes (herein described as toothbrushes) comprise a handle and a head integrally formed together wherein the head comprises bristles used to brush a user’s teeth. Over multiple uses the bristles become worn and frayed while the handle remains in relatively good condition. Therefore, when a user replaces a toothbrush because the bristles have become worn, the handle which remains in good condition may be considered as being wasted. Further, known toothbrushes are substantially formed of non-recyclable materials, hence increasing the associated issues of unsustainable waste.

The handle of known toothbrushes is relatively long to provide sufficient material to be gripped comfortably by a user. However this results in a product that can be an awkward size in certain situations, such as when the user is travelling. For example, known toothbrushes cannot typically be stored safely in a pocket.

AU4596272 A (Ruben A, 1974) discloses a toothbrush having a handle and a head, a housing for a dentifrice inside the handle and a passage connecting the housing to the head. The brush has a dispensing means slidably mounted on the handle for operatively engaging the dentifrice container to dispense the dentifrice.

EP1276434 A1 (Smithkline Beecham) discloses an electrically driven toothbrush having a replaceable head section with a plug part which is engageable with a socket in its handle to connect its driveable head to its motor in the handle. The head section has a resiliently deformable end surface, and there is an engaging concavity and convexity in the respective meeting end surfaces of the plug part and the socket. The concavity and convexity engage to facilitate locking together of the head and handle. A separate replaceable head section for such a toothbrush is also disclosed. Brief Description of the Invention

According to the invention there is provided a toothbrush comprising a head and a handle wherein the handle comprises a first part and a second part, which first and second parts are removably connectable to one another via a locking mechanism and wherein the handle has a non-circular cross-section, where the locking mechanism comprises a bayonet element (30) and a socket (20); one of the bayonet element and the socket is integrally formed with the first part (8) of the handle (6); the other of the bayonet element (30) and the socket (20) is integrally formed with the second part (10) of the handle (6) and where the socket (20) comprises an axis (21), an opening (22) and first and second channels (24) which channels are positioned transversely opposite one another, wherein each channel comprises: a first channel portion (25) extending axially from the opening (22) and having a first transverse dimension, and a second channel portion (26) extending axially from the first channel portion (25) having a second transverse dimension larger than the first transverse dimension; and the bayonet element (30) comprises an axis (31) and first and second protrusions (32), which protrusions are positioned diametrically opposite one another, wherein each protrusion extends outwardly from the bayonet element (30), is axially receivable by a respective first channel portion (25) and is transversely receivable by a respective second channel portion (26), and where the bayonet element (30) further comprises one of a detent (38) and an indent (28), the socket further comprises the other of the detent (38) and the indent (28), and the detent (38) is receivable within the indent whereby the bayonet element (30) is lockably receivable within the socket (20), wherein the handle has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section.

Herein the head and the associated first part of the handle may be referred to as the head assembly.

By means of the invention, the head assembly may be attached, and subsequently detached, from the second part of the handle. Therefore the second part of the handle may be used in combination with a number of different head assemblies, thereby considerably extending the lifetime of the second part of the handle relative to known toothbrushes. The head assembly, which may be replaced on a regular basis by the user (once every 3 to 4 months for example), may be formed from substantially less material than known toothbrushes, thereby reducing the waste associated with regularly replacing the head.

Further, because the head assembly is smaller than known toothbrushes, the packaging material required per head is much less than the packaging material required per toothbrush for known toothbrushes. Hence the waste associated with packaging of the invention is reduced compared with that of known toothbrushes.

Also, the reduced size and weight of the head assembly in comparison to known toothbrushes means that stock can be transported more efficiently. This increased efficiency can result in a reduction of transport costs that may increase profitability or be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices. The increased efficiency also results in a reduction in the product’s carbon footprint when compared to known toothbrushes.

It is possible for a user to connect the first and second parts of the handle in either a correct orientation or an incorrect orientation. In the correct orientation the cross-section of the first part of the handle aligns with the cross-section of the second part of the handle, and in the incorrect orientation the cross-section of the first part of the handle does not align with the cross-section of the second part of the handle.

As each part of the handle shares the same non-circular substantially trapezoidal cross- section, it may be clear to a user of the toothbrush when the respective cross-sections are aligned and therefore whether the two parts of the handle have been connected in the correct orientation.

The handle has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section.

The substantially trapezoidal cross-section makes it clear to a user whether the two parts of the handle have been connected in the correct orientation. This is because, by its nature, a trapezoidal shape comprises a narrow side and a broad side opposite to the narrow side. If the narrow side of one part of the handle were aligned with the broad side of the other part of the handle there would be a clear difference between the two parts of the handle and there would not be a smooth transition between them. However, if the trapezoidal cross-sections of both parts of the handle are correctly aligned there will be a smooth and aesthetic transition between the two parts of the handle, indicating that it has been connected correctly. In other words, the broad side of the first part will be aligned with the broad side of the second part, and the narrow side of the first part will be aligned with the narrow side of the second part.

Further, the cross-section of the handle may be ergonomically adapted to be held comfortably in the hand.

In accordance with the invention the locking mechanism comprises a bayonet element and a socket; one of the bayonet element and the socket is integrally formed with the first part of the handle; the other of the bayonet element and the socket is integrally formed with the second part of the handle.

In accordance with the invention the head assembly is connected to the second part of the handle when the bayonet element is received by the socket.

The bayonet element and the socket are positioned to connect two parts of the handle together. This allows the connections to be more durable than would be the case if there were a connection at a neck portion of the toothbrush because the dimensions of the handle are greater than those of the neck and head.

Also the head and neck may experience a variety of different forces during use which might cause wear to the locking mechanism. By positioning the locking mechanism in the handle, the locking mechanism is substantially protected from the variety of forces experienced by the head of the toothbrush during use.

The socket comprises an axis, an opening and first and second channels which channels are positioned transversely opposite one another, wherein each channel comprises: a first channel portion extending axially from the opening and having a first transverse dimension, and a second channel portion extending axially from the first channel portion having a second transverse dimension larger than the first transverse dimension; and the bayonet element comprises an axis and first and second protrusions, which protrusions are positioned diametrically opposite one another, wherein each protrusion extends outwardly from the bayonet element, is axially receivable by a respective first channel portion and is transversely receivable by a respective second channel portion.

The bayonet element may be inserted into the socket by first aligning each of the first and second protrusions with the respective first channel portion and then moving the bayonet element axially into the socket. Once the bayonet element is moved axially into the socket such that each protrusion moves through the respective first channel portion and into the respective second channel portion, the bayonet element may be rotated about its axis relative to the socket such that each protrusion moves transversely across the respective second channel portion.

The first transverse dimension may be adapted to prevent transverse movement of each protrusion within the respective first channel portion.

In embodiments of the invention each second channel preferably comprises a retention shelf extending transversely along the second channel portion.

In such embodiments of the invention, as the bayonet element is rotated about its axis relative to the socket and each protrusion moves transversely across the respective second channel portion, each protrusion also engages with the respective retention shelf. This engagement prevents the bayonet element from being withdrawn axially from the socket.

Further, engagement of the first and second protrusions with the respective retention shelves provides balanced retention of the bayonet element within the socket. This provides greater stability for the bayonet element within the socket and reduces any wobbling of the head assembly relative to the handle that may otherwise be experienced if there was only a single protrusion extending from the bayonet element.

In embodiments of the invention the toothbrush preferably is movable between a first configuration and a second configuration, wherein: the socket and the bayonet element are coaxial in both configurations; in the first configuration each of the first and second protrusions is received in and aligned with a respective first channel portion; and in the second configuration each of the first and second protrusions is received in a respective second channel portion and in engagement with the retention shelf. In such embodiments of the invention, in the first configuration each protrusion may move axially through the respective first channel portion which allows the bayonet element to be moved axially in and out of the socket. Further, in the first configuration, each protrusion may be restricted from moving transversely within the respective first channel portion, thereby preventing the bayonet element from rotating about its axis relative to the socket.

In the second configuration each protrusion may move transversely across the respective second channel portion which the allows bayonet element to be rotated about its axis relative to the socket. Further, in the second configuration, the socket and the retention shelf may be adapted to restrict each protrusion from moving axially within the second channel portion, thereby preventing the bayonet element from moving axially within the socket.

The bayonet element comprises one of a detent and an indent, the socket further comprises the other of the detent and the indent, and the detent is receivable within the indent whereby the bayonet element is lockably receivable within the socket.

The detent and the indent may be adapted such that when the detent is received by the indent, the bayonet element is unable to move within the socket and is thereby locked within the socket. Therefore, to disconnect the head from the handle, the detent must be removed from the indent in order for the bayonet element to be withdrawn from the socket.

In embodiments of the invention preferably the detent is resiliently deformable between a neutral configuration and a depressed configuration, wherein the detent is biased towards the neutral configuration.

In such embodiments of the invention the detent and the indent may be configured such that the detent must be deformed from its neutral configuration to its depressed configuration in order for the detent to be aligned with the indent. Once the detent is aligned with the indent, the detent is allowed to return to its neutral configuration from its depressed configuration and thereby the detent is received by the indent. The bias of the detent towards its neutral configuration means that the bias must be overcome in order to remove the detent from the indent. This bias therefore locks the bayonet element within the socket.

In such embodiments of the invention, the detent being resiliently deformable means that the connection and disconnection of the head to and from the handle is repeatable without the detent permanently deforming or breaking.

In embodiments of the invention the detent is configured to be receivable by the indent when the toothbrush is in the second configuration to thereby lock the toothbrush in the second configuration.

In such embodiments of the invention, the indent may be configured to receive the detent when each protrusion is: positioned in the respective second channel portion, engaged with the respective retention shelf, and positioned transversely away from the respective first channel portion. Therefore, the detent being received by the indent locks the bayonet element in the second configuration and hence the bayonet element is prevented from being axially withdrawn from the socket as each protrusion is engaged with the respective retention shelf.

In embodiments of the invention the second part of the handle preferably comprises a metal material and optionally wherein the metal material is Zamak.

In such embodiments of the invention, the handle may comprise metal materials that provide characteristics such as strength, rigidity, hardness and corrosion resistance that may further increase the potential lifespan of the handle when compared to known toothbrushes.

Further, metal materials, such as Zamak, may be considered by a consumer as being more attractive and indicative of a premium product that can be kept for several years rather than being replaced every few months.

In embodiments of the invention the head and the first part of the handle are preferably formed of a plastic material. In such embodiments of the invention, the head, which is to be replaced regularly, may be produced relatively efficiently and with a relatively low weight to reduce manufacture and transport costs. Further, the plastic material may be a recyclable plastic material, hence further reducing associations of unsustainable waste with the product in comparison to known toothbrushes.

In embodiments of the invention the head preferably comprises bristles.

In such embodiments of the invention, the bristles may be used to clean a user’s teeth and mouth. Different embodiments of the invention may include different bristle designs to achieve different types of cleaning, e.g. standard, sensitive, whitening. The user may interchange heads with different bristle designs to achieve different types of cleaning while using the same handle. Therefore, the invention allows a user to have greater flexibility in their teeth-cleaning habits without having to own multiple different toothbrushes.

The invention will now be further described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Brief Description of the Figures

Figure 1 is a schematic representation of a toothbrush according to an embodiment the invention.

Figure 2 is a schematic representation of part of a locking mechanism according to an embodiment of the invention, specifically a socket.

Figure 3 is a schematic representation of part of a locking mechanism according to an embodiment of the invention, specifically a bayonet element.

Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view of the socket shown in Figure 2.

Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view of the bayonet shown in Figure 3.

Each of the figures set out above represent the same embodiment of the invention, although they may not be to the same scale. Detailed Description of the Figures

Referring initially to Figure 1, a toothbrush according to an embodiment of the invention is defined generally by the reference numeral 2. The toothbrush 2 comprises a head 4 and a handle 6. The head 4 comprises bristles 40. The handle 6 comprises a first part 8 and a second part 10. In Figure 1 the first part of the handle 8 is shown connected to the second part 10 of the handle 6 via a locking mechanism.

Referring now to Figure 2, in this embodiment of the invention the locking mechanism comprises a socket 20 integrally formed with the second part of the handle 10. The socket comprises an axis 21 an opening 22 and first and second channels 24. The first and second channels are positioned transversely opposite to one another (therefore only one of the channels 24 is shown in Figure 2). Each channel 24 comprises a first channel portion 25 (not visible in this view) and a second channel portion 26, which second channel portion 26 comprises a retention shelf 27. The socket further comprises an indent 28.

Referring now to Figure 3, in this embodiment of the invention the locking mechanism further comprises a bayonet element 30 integrally formed with the first part of the handle 8. The bayonet element 30 is adapted to be receivable within the socket 20, which is present in the second part 10 of the handle 6. Further, the bayonet element 30 comprises an axis 31 and first and second protrusions 32. The first and second protrusions are positioned diametrically opposite one another (hence only one of the protrusions 32 is shown in Figure 3), wherein each protrusion 32 extends outwardly from the bayonet element 30 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the axis 31. Each protrusion 32 is adapted to be axially receivable by the first channel portion 25 and transversely receivable by the second channel portion 26. Further, when each protrusion 32 is transversely received by the second channel portion 26 the protrusion 32 is engageable with the respective retention shelf 27.

The bayonet element further comprises a detent 38 positioned in axial alignment with the first protrusion 32. The detent 38 is adapted to be receivable within the indent 28. The detent is further adapted to be resiliently deformable between a neutral configuration and a depressed configuration, wherein the detent is biased towards the neutral configuration (shown in Figure 3). Referring now to Figure 4, the first channel portion 25 has a first transverse dimension X and the second channel portion 26 has a second transverse dimension Y, wherein the second transverse Y is larger than the first transverse dimension X. In this embodiment, each retention shelf 27 (shown in Figure 2) may be considered as having a third transverse dimension Y-X which is equal to the second transverse dimension Y minus the first transverse dimension X.

Referring now to Figure 5, each protrusion 32 is further adapted such that, in use, it is prevented from moving transversely within first channel portion 25 of the respective channel 24. In other words, each protrusion is adapted to have a transverse dimension substantially the same as the first transverse dimension X.

In use, the first part of the handle 8, and the associated head 4 of the toothbrush 2, may be removably connected to the second part 10 of the handle 6 by:

(i) Aligning the bayonet element 30 with the socket 20 such that they are coaxial and the first and second protrusions 32 are aligned with the first channel portions 25 of the respective first and second channels 22.

(ii) Axially inserting the bayonet element 30 into the socket 20 so that each protrusion 32 moves axially through the respective first channel portion 25 and into the respective second channel portion 26. This step achieves a first configuration of the toothbrush 2. During this step the detent 38 follows the first protrusion 32 into the respective first channel portion 25 and holds its neutral configuration within the first channel 24.

(iii) Continuing axial insertion of the bayonet element 30 into the socket 20 until the first part 8 of the handle 6 abuts the opening 22 of the socket 20. Once this is achieved it is not possible to insert the bayonet element 30 further into the socket 20.

(iv) Rotating the bayonet element 30 about its axis 31 relative to the socket 20 so that each protrusion moves transversely across the respective second channel portion 26 and becomes engaged with the respective retention shelf 27. During this step the detent 38 is resiliently deformed to its depressed configuration so that it may move transversely out of the first channel 22. (v) Continuing rotation of the bayonet element 30 about its axis 31 relative to the socket 20 until the detent 38 is aligned with the indent 28, this allows the detent 38 to return to its neutral configuration whereby the detent is received by the indent 28. This step achieves a second configuration of the toothbrush 2 wherein the first part 8 and the second part 10 of the handle 6 are removably connected.

Once the detent 38 is received by the indent 28, the bias of the detent 38 to its neutral configuration locks the bayonet element 30 in place within the socket 20, thereby locking the toothbrush 2 in its second configuration and locking the first part of the handle 8 in connection with the second part 10.

Each protrusion 32 may be adapted such that the distance between the protrusion 32 and the first part of the handle 8 is substantially the same as the distance between each retention shelf 27 and the socket’s opening 22. This means that when each protrusion 32 is engaged with the respective retention shelf 27, the first part of the handle 8 is simultaneously abutted against the socket’s opening 22. This interaction allows the locking mechanism (bayonet element 30 and socket 20) to provide a stable connection between the two parts of the handle 6.

The steps set out above may be performed in reverse in order to disconnect the first part 8 of the handle from the second part 10.

The presence of the two diametrically opposed protrusions 32 and corresponding transversely opposed channels 22 adds strength to the locking assembly, although, their presence also means that a user could inadvertently connect the first and second parts of the handle 8,10 together incorrectly. (This would essentially involve inserting the first protrusion 32 in the second channel 22 and the second protrusion 32 into the first channel 22.). However, the non-circular cross section of the handle will provide an immediate and obvious indication that the connection is incorrect, since the shape of the first and second parts 8,10 will not be aligned.