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Dokumentenidentifikation EP1854954 27.12.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001854954
Titel Rouleaukupplung mit internem Getriebe
Anmelder Rollease, Inc., Stamford, Conn., US
Erfinder Fraczek, Richard, North Hollywood CT 91605, US;
Balta, Martin, Milford CT 06460, US;
Cross, David, Westport CT 06880, US
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IT, LI, LU, MC, NL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, TR
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 20.03.2003
EP-Aktenzeichen 070163340
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 14.11.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 27.12.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse E06B 1/00(2006.01)A, F, I, 20071016, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse E06B 9/56(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   E06B 9/322(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a bi-directional clutch, and, more particularly, to a clutch having internal gears to provide a mechanical advantage. The clutch is particularly useful for operating a window dressing such as a roller shade.

Description of the Prior Art

Roller shades are often used as window dressing and provide both a practical and an aesthetic function. Typically, a roller shade includes a tubular mandrel and a decorative panel wound on the mandrel. The mandrel can be selectively rotated by a user either in one direction or the other causing the panel to be either raised or lowered, depending on how it is wound on the mandrel. The roller shade is provided at its two ends with mounting means so that it can be mounted on a window frame or other similar location, using suitable brackets. Normally, one end of the roller shade is a simple rotatable coupling that allows the roller shade to rotate with respect to the bracket. The other end is provided with a bi-directional clutch that provides a mechanical advantage during the operation of the roller shade. Bi-directional clutch mechanisms of this type are disclosed in U. S. Patent Nos. 4,433, 765 and 4,372, 432 , incorporated herein by reference. These references disclose clutch mechanisms in which the mechanical advantage is developed between a large pulley and a small shaft. One or more springs are also provided as a means for locking the mandrel to prevent undesirable rotation. Other clutch mechanisms are also known which are based on frictional braking. U. S. Patents Nos. 3,135, 369 and 3,920, 106 also disclose bi- directional clutches useable for roller shades.

Recently there has been an increased need for roller shades having larger sizes and/or weights which in turn require stronger clutch mechanisms with a larger mechanical advantage, normally requiring more space. However, in the existing roller blinds, since mechanical advantage is dependent on the relative diameters of a pulley and a small shaft, and since the shaft has already been minimized, the mechanical advantage can be increased by increasing the size of the pulley. However, this is not a practical solution because space is too limited to accommodate a larger pulley, and in addition, a larger pulley may not be aesthetically unacceptable.

In addition, a stronger clutch mechanism requires more springs for locking the roller blind to prevent its undesirable rotation. However, more springs complicate the structure of the clutch mechanism, and increase the force required to operate the same.

OBJECTIVES AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is abroad objective of the present invention to provide an improved bi-directional clutch particularly suited for roller shades and other window dressings.

It is a further objective to reduce the number of springs required and thereby reduce the inherent friction associated with the operation of the bidirectional multi-spring clutch.

It is still a further objective to locate the gear box between the user interface (for example, a cord or a bead chain) and the wrap springs of the clutch to permit the use of less force in releasing the wrap spring of the clutch to yield a user interface with a smother performance.

Yet another objective is to provide a clutch mechanism that can provide a larger mechanical advantage then previous clutch mechanisms but without a corresponding increase in size.

According to the present invention there is provided a clutch for operating a window dressing as defined in claim 1. Additional, alternative or preferred features are defined in the dependent claims.

Embodiments of the invention may include features of a related aspect providing a clutch, particularly useful for operating a window dressing, that includes an input member arranged to be activated by a user for operating the window dressing; an output member coupled to the window dressing, antirotational means adapted to prevent the output member from rotation in response to a rotational torque from the window dressing, and a gear box coupled to the input member and adapted to transmit a rotational motion at a mechanical advantage to the output member in response to the activation of said input member. The input member may include an elongated element such as a cord, a string, a chain, etc., arranged for pulling by the user. The gear box includes a gear pulley coupled to the elongated member and arranged to rotate in response to the pulling of the elongated element.

The gear box includes a stationary gear, a stationary drum attached to the stationary gear, a rotating member mounted coaxially on the drum and a planetary gear arranged between the gear pulley and the stationary gear to transfer rotation to the rotating member.

The antirotational means is associated with the stationary drum and the rotating member and it includes spring coils adapted to selectively form an interference fit with the stationary drum, thereby preventing undesirable rotation of the rotation member.

Embodiments of the invention may include features of another aspect, in which the clutch is provided for operating a window dressing mounted on a stationary structure, and includes an end member adapted for mounting the window dressing to the stationary structure. The end member receives a cord adapted for manipulation by a user to operate the window dressing. The end member includes a gear box adapted to translate a movement of the cord into a rotation at a preselected mechanical advantage. An output member is adapted to couple the rotation to the window dressing. In addition, an antirotational member is coupled to the output member to prevent undesirable rotation.

Further objectives, features and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of preferred, but nonetheless illustrative embodiments, when considered in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

  • Fig. 1 shows an exploded orthogonal view of a bi-directional clutch mechanism constructed in accordance with this invention and that can incorporated into a roller blind;
  • Fig. 2 shows an exploded orthogonal view of the mechanism of Fig. 1 taken from a different angle;
  • Fig. 3 shows an orthogonal view of an assembled bi-directional clutch mechanism in accordance with this invention; and
  • Fig. 4 shows a cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 in Fig. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to Figs. 1 and 2, a clutch 10 constructed in accordance with this invention includes an end member consisting of a protective guard 12 including an outer disk 14. The outer disk 14 is adapted to couple to a bracket (not shown) used to mount a respective window dressing to a structure (such as a window frame) in a conventional manner. A lip 16 is disposed circumferentially around the disk 14 and is cut at one location to form a mouth 18. Attached to an inner surface of the guard 12 is a cylindrical drum20. Disposed at the distal axial end of this drum 20, adjacent to the inner wall of guard 12, there is provided a toothed gear 22. The opposite or free end of the drum 20 is provided with two semicircular extensions 24 separated by a slot 26. All the remaining elements of the clutch 10 are mounted telescopically on drum 20 as described in more detail below.

Next, the clutch has a gear pulley 30. Gear pulley 30 has the shape of a ring with the outer surface being formed with a plurality of teeth 32 separated by depressions 34. The teeth 32 and depressions 34 are constructed and arranged to entrain a beaded cord described below in conjunction with Fig. 3. The inner surface of the gear pulley 30 has a plurality of gear teeth 36.

Next, the clutch 10 has a spring drive 40 formed of a ring-shaped hub 42 and a tubular boss 44. The ring-shaped hub 42 has on its surface facing guard 12 two or more axles 46 (in Fig. 2 three such axles are shown). Each of the axle supports a planetary gear 48. The intermediate gears are rotatably supported on the axles 46. Each planetary gear 48 has outer teeth 48A.

The boss 44 has an inner diameter that is larger than the diameter of drum 20 so that when the boss 44 is slipped over the drum 20, there is an annular space therebetween. The clutch 10 has two identical coil springs 50A, 50B that are mounted between the drum 20 and the boss 44. Each of the springs 50A, 50B has an inner tang 52A, 52B and an outer tang 54A, 54B. These tangs extend radially outwardly as shown. The coil springs are wound precisely with a diameter that is preferably slightly smaller than the diameter of drum 20. Moreover, the coil springs are preferably made of a high quality steel and preferably have a rectangular cross section. As a result, the coils of the springs present an almost continuous inner cylindrical surface that rests on, and forms an interference fit with, the outer surface of drum 20. The coil springs 50A, 50B are mounted on the drum by squeezing their respective inner and outer tangs together thereby causing the coils of the springs to expand and slip over the drum 20. When the tangs are released, the springs settle snugly over the drum 20.

Boss 44 is formed with slots 46,48. Slot 46 is defined between two axial edges 46A, 46B. The angular dimension of these slots is slightly larger than the angular separation between the tangs of one of the coils 50,52. The front end of the boss 44 as seen in Fig. 1 is terminated with a circular hole 49. When the spring drive 40 is inserted over the drum 20, its hub 42 defines an annular chamber with the outer disk 14. This annular chamber houses and protects the gear pulley 30 and planetary gears 48.

Finally, a tubular housing 60 fits over the boss 44. The tubular housing has a front end with a small axial hole 62. This hole 62 is sized and shaped to receive the extensions 24 on drum 20.

The housing 60 has in its cylindrical surface 64 two axial troughs or keys 66 and 68. The trough 66 is formed with two interior axial walls 66A, 66B and trough 68 is formed with two axial walls 68A,68B. The angular distance between these walls is smaller than the angular spacing between the tangs of the coils.

Typically, window dressings consist of a tubular member supporting a decorative panel. The housing 60 is arranged and constructed so that it can be mated with the tubular member (not shown) of a decorative panel. In this manner the decorative panel is supported at least at one end by the clutch 10.

The clutch is assembled as follows. First, a cord 90 is trained around the gear pulley 30. Preferably the cord 90 is formed with spherical beads 92 or other protrusions that fit between the teeth 32. Alternatively, cord 90 may have a uniform cross section, in which case an alternative pulley design can be implemented. Gear pulley 30 is positioned adjacent to disk 12, with the cord 90 extending through the mouth 18.

Next, the coil spring 50A, 50B are installed on the drum 20 the planetary gears 48 are installed on axles 46 and the spring drive is telescopically positioned over the drum 20, with the planetary gears48 engaging the teeth 36 on the gear pulley and gear 22. The spring drive 40 is positioned over the drum 20 and coil springs 50A, 50B so that the tangs of each coil are disposed in one of the slots 46,48. For example, the tangs 52A, 54A of coil spring 50A can be positioned in slot 48 while the tangs 52B, 54B of coil spring50B can be positioned in slot 46. The tangs maintain their angular separation as they are seated in these slots.

Next, the housing 60 is moved telescopically over the boss 44, with axial troughs 66,68 being positioned over slots 47,48. The troughs 66,68 are dimensioned angular so that each trough fits radially and angularly between the tangs of one of the coil springs. As the housing 60 is being moved toward the disk 14, the extensions 24 exit through hole 62. The separation between the two extensions 24 is slightly larger than the diameter of the hole 62. As a result, when the housing 60 reaches its final position over the boss 44, the extensions 26 extend outwardly of the hole 62. They flex slightly radially toward each other and cooperate with the housing to hold all the clutch elements together as a single assembly, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4.

The clutch 10 operates as follows. Normally, there are no rotational forces or torques applied to the clutch and the tangs 52A, 54A, 52B, 54B are positioned in the slots 46,48, respectively, and are separated by troughs 66,68. The housing 60 is coupled to a window dressing (not shown). Any rotational force on the window dressing causes a torque X to be applied to the housing 60 in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, as shown in Fig. 4. If the torque is in the clockwise direction, the housing 60 tries to move in response in the clockwise direction. This movement causes the axial wall 66B of trough 66 to move clockwise and apply a clockwise angular force on tang 52B. The coil spring 52 is wound in such a manner that this force on tang 52B causes the coil spring to tighten around drum 20. In this manner, the spring coil 52 resists the torque X. A similar resistance force is generated between the axial wall68B and tang 54A of coil 50A. If the torque X is applied in the counterclockwise direction, the axial wall 66A applies a similar force on tang54B. Thus the coil springs 50A, 50B, the spring drive 40 and the housing 60 are constructed and arranged to form a counter-rotational locking means that prevents the rotation of housing 60 from rotating in response to a torque applied to the housing.

Pulling cord 90 causes the gear pulley 30 to turn around the common axis of the clutch 10. As the gear pulley turns, it forces the planetary gears to turn in a planetary motion around gear 22. This rotation forces the spring drive 40. The speed of rotation of the housing 60 and the force applied to it (and hence the mechanical advantage of the clutch) depends on the relative sizes of the gear pulley 30 and planetary gears 48. Thus, the protection guard 12, the gear pulley 30 and the planetary gears 48 are arranged and constructed to transfer a rotational motion in either direction to the spring drive 40 at a predetermined mechanical advantage. Therefore, these elements cooperate to forma bidirectional gear box for transferring rotational motion in either direction from the cord 90 to the spring drive 40.

Referring again to Fig. 4, as the spring drive 40 starts rotating in either direction, as indicated by arrow Y, one of the axial edges 46A, 46B comes into contact and applies a tangential force on one of the tangs 52B or 54B. This force causes the spring coil 50B to expand radially outward, thereby eliminating, or at least reducing the interference fit between the spring coil 50B and the surface of the drum 22. A similar action takes place in slot 47 to cause spring coil 50A to expand. As a result, the spring drive 40 is free to rotate with respect to drum 22. As the spring drive 40 continues to rotate, one of the edges 46A, 46B comes into contact (through respective tangs) with the walls of the troughs 66, N8. in this manner the rotation of the spring drive 40 is transmitted to the housing 60. Thus the counter-rotational locking means is disabled by the rotation of the spring drive 40.

Importantly, because of the arrangement of the gears in the gear box, the directions of rotation of the gear pulley and the housing 60 are the same, and therefore the clutch is easier and more intuitive to operate.

The housing is used to support and rotate or otherwise operate a standard window treatment.

The present invention provides several advantages over the prior art. It provides a higher mechanical advantage without an increase in size. It makes use of at least some of the components of a standard clutch to perform multiple functions. It provides rotation of the input member (the gear pulley) and the output member (the housing) in the same direction because the improved mechanical advantage of the / clutch requires less spring coils then the prior art. Another advantage is that because of the clutch mechanism, the friction exerted by the coil spring is lower than in standard systems and, hence, require less force to raise and lower the window dressing. Moreover, placing the gear box between the coil springs and the pulley results in a device that operates more smoothly.

While the invention has been described with reference to several particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles of the invention. Accordingly, the embodiments described in particular should be considered as exemplary, not limiting, with respect to the following claims. For example, the cord could be replaced by a chain, a rope, a string, or any other similar elongated member known in the art. Similarly, the antirotational means may be implemented using other means besides the coiled springs.


Anspruch[en]
A clutch for operating a window dressing comprising: an input member (90) arranged to be activated by a user for operating the window dressing; an output member (60) coupled to said window dressing; anti-rotation means (50A, 50B) adapted to prevent said output member (60) from rotation in response to a rotational torque from the window dressing; and a gear arrangement adapted to transmit a rotational motion at a mechanical advantage to said output member (60) in response to the activation of said input member (90), said gear arrangement including a planetary gear (48A) and characterised in that said gear arrangement comprises a gear pulley (30) coupled to said input member (90), the gear pulley having teeth (36) for engaging said planetary gear (48A), and said gear arrangement is configured so that, in response to activation of said input member (90), rotation of said gear pulley (30) is transmitted through said planetary gear (48A) to rotate said output member (60). The clutch of claim 1, wherein said anti-rotation means (50A, 50B) is configured to be disabled by rotation of said gear pulley (30) in response to activation of said input member (90). The clutch of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein said gear arrangement includes a central gear (22) with external teeth, said planetary gear (48A) being engaged between the external teeth of said central gear and the internal teeth of said gear pulley (30). The clutch of claim 3, wherein said central gear (22) is a stationary gear, said gear arrangement further comprising a drum (20) attached to said stationary central gear (22),

wherein said central gear (22) and a rotating member (42) are mounted coaxially relative to said drum (20), the planetary gear (48A) being arranged between the gear pulley (30) and said stationary gear (22) to transfer rotation from said gear pulley (30) to said rotating member (42), the output member (60) being coupled to said rotating member (42) by the anti-rotational means (50A, 50B), and

wherein the stationary central gear (22) is a sun gear and said planetary gear (48A) is drivingly rotated around said sun gear in response to rotation of the gear pulley (30), the rotating member (42) being mounted on said stationary drum.
The clutch of claim 4 wherein said input member (90) includes an elongated element for pulling by a user, the gear pulley being coupled to said elongated element and arranged to rotate in response to the pulling of said elongated element The clutch of claim 5 wherein said input member (90) is a cord. The clutch of any preceding claim wherein the anti-rotational means includes spring coils (50A, 50B) adapted to form selectively an interference fit with said stationary drum (20). The clutch of claim 7 wherein said spring coils (50A, 50B) are configured to tighten around the stationary drum (20) when a torque is applied to the output member (60) via the window dressing to prevent rotation of the output member (60) and the window dressing. The clutch of claim 7 or claim 8 wherein said spring coils (50A, 50B) are configured to expand radially outwardly away from the stationary drum (20) when a torque is applied to the gear pulley (30) which transfers rotation to said rotating member (42) to disengage the antirotational means (50A, 50B) and allow the output member (60) and window dressing to rotate together with said rotating member (42). The clutch of claim 9 wherein said gear arrangement includes a disk (14) formed with said stationary central gear (22), the rotating member (42) being shaped to form a chamber with said disk (14) so that said gear pulley (30), said planetary gear (48A) and said fixed gear (22) are disposed in said chamber. The clutch of any preceding claim wherein said planetary gear (48A) is mounted on an axle, said axle being attached to said rotating member (42).






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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