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1. (WO1991007233) ADJUSTABLE NOZZLE ASSEMBLY
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ADJUSTABLE NOZZLE ASSEMBLY
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention:
The present invention relates to an adjustable nozzle assembly for mounting to a trigger sprayer which is used in dispensing liquids and more particularly to an assembly for dispensing liquid in a spray or jet mode and for containing the liquid in an off mode.
2. Description of the related art including information disclosed under 37 CFR ยงยง 1.97-1.99
A variety of simple and inexpensive hand-operated pumps for use as dispensers of liquid have been developed which include means for coupling to. a container from which a liquid is to be dispensed under pressure. Such a dispenser typically includes a trigger which is intended to be moved manually to operate a pump piston within a cylinder in a body of the dispenser, usually against the force of a return spring, so that liquid may be pumped from the container and dispensed through an ejection nozzle or outlet orifice.
To meet consumer demands for convenience it has been found highly desirable that the nozzle be adjustable to provide widely varying discharge patterns such as a spray pattern and a stream pattern. It is further preferable that the nozzle assembly not only be adjustable to accommodate a stream or spray mode of operation in a highly reliable fashion, but that it also conveniently engage into an off mode position to contain the liquid in the dispenser to prevent leakage or inadvertent discharge of the liquid and to promote easy storage of the container of liquid by the ultimate consumer.
To minimize cost, the various parts of the prior art dispensers are increasingly made of plastic resins suitable for injection molding. Further, it has been found to be highly desirable that the design of the dispenser be increasingly simplified such that the number of separately molded parts are minimized and so that the. assembly of the parts may be mechanized at minimum cost and with maximum economy.
Heretofore, various designs or configurations of nozzle assemblies have been proposed to accommodate the above referenced desirable features, particularly the feature that the nozzle assembly be adjustable to provide widely varying discharge patterns, i.e. a spray pattern and a stream pattern. Examples of prior dispensers, including adjustable nozzle cap assemblies for selectively dispensing a liquid in spray or stream mode, are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents:
U.S. PATENT NO. PATENTEE
4,767,060 Shay et al.
4,706,888 Dobbs
4,247,048 Hayes
4,234,128 Quinn et al.
3,843,030 Micallef
In U.S. Patent No. 4,767,060 there is disclosed a nozzle assembly which is capable of selectively dispensing a liquid product as a foam or a spray by means of a selectively movable member to establish a swirl chamber located in between and in liquid communication with a passageway and a nozzle outlet orifice. Such member can be moved forward into the nozzle cap where it offers no interference with the vortical liquid sheet to effect a spray mode of delivery. The member can be moved rearwardly to a point where the swirl chamber interferes with the vortical sheet to produce a stream pattern. Gas passageways are provided in this structure to achieve aeration of the turbulent fluid and the resultant dispensing of the liquid as a foam.
In U.S. Patent No. 4,706,888 there is disclosed a nozzle assembly capable of being opened and closed in selective rotative positions of a nozzle cap of the assembly with respect to two discreet passageways formed between a discharge conduit and a discharge orifice to provide an alternating off, stream and spray position for a liquid dispenser. Such multiple passages in a cylinder and the nozzle cap cooperate to move in and out of alignment and communication thus providing the spray and stream mode of operations depending upon alignment and registry of the various described passages and grooves. U.S.

Patent No. 4,706,888 alleges the following drawbacks in the devices disclosed in U.S. Patents Nos. 3,843,030 and 4,234,128:
"For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,843,030 has its
nozzle cap containing an off-centered discharge
orifice which must be shifted upon cap rotation
between alignment with the spin chamber at the end of an internal probe for producing a spray, and a
channel on the probe for producing a stream. The
off center location of the discharge orifice not
only presents problems for the consumer in
properly targeting the discharge, but gives rise
to a shearing action during cap rotation in that
the inner edge of the discharge orifice must
traverse the plug surface containing the spin
chamber and associated tangentials which could
cause abrasions or snags between the rotating
parts resulting in undue wear and leakage....The
nozzle assembly of U.S. Pat. No. 4,234,128 likewise requires the spin chamber and associated
tangential grooves to be formed on the underside
of the cap end wall, and passages and slots on an
internal plug arranged to produce a stream or
spray discharge or shut-off. Thus, some of the
details for the dispense function are on the cap
end wall and some others are on the plug
confronting this end wall, such that a shearing
action results between these details as they pass
one another upon cap rotation. Due to such
abrasive and interrupted engagement between
rotating parts, scoring, snags and/or undue wear
occurs with consequent leakage."

With respect to U.S. Patent No. 3,843,030 it is observed that the tubular extension described therein includes a free end having a staggered recess for cooperation with the cap in producing spray and stream modes of operation.
In U.S. Patent No. 4,247,048 there is disclosed a two-piece nozzle assembly which features a tubular member having a circular, planar face at its terminal end with a recess in the planar face. When a cap is rotatably mounted to the tubular member it has an end wall with a planar inside surface which will form an interface with the circular planar face of the tubular member. The dispensing orifice of the cap is radially displaced from the center axis of the cap which is registerable when properly aligned with the recess of the planar face.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The adjustable nozzle assembly comprises two parts, suitable for injection molding, namely, a nozzle cap and a nose bushing each of which are integral units designed to cooperate in a simplistic, economical and efficient manner. The rotatable nozzle cap contains an internally threaded flange skirt such that the nozzle cap can be screwed upon an externally threaded portion of the nose bushing. Inside the cap, forwardly of the threads, the flange skirt is stepped to an inner wall surface. An orifice extends through the cap from the inner wall surface to a front face of the cap. The inner wall surface is at least partially frusto-conical.
The nose bushing has a nose bushing face disc at its forward end having an outer annular periphery and at least a partially frusto-conical front surface. The outer periphery has two angular, spin-causing grooves therein to allow passage of liquid from axial and radial passageways in the nose bushing to the back of the nose bushing face disc. When the nozzle cap is fully screwed upon the externally threaded portion of the nose bushing, the front surface of the nose bushing face disc is in flush contact with the inner wall surface of the nozzle cap to provide an off mode position for the adjustable nozzle assembly to contain liquid within the dispenser. At the same time, the outer annular periphery of the face disc sealing engages an annular wall surface of the stepped portion of the cap.
As the rotatable nozzle cap is unthreaded from the externally threaded portion of the nose bushing, the frusto-conical seating surface of the nose bushing face disc is unseated from the frusto-conical inner wall surface of the nozzle cap with the outer annular periphery still sealing engaging the annular wall surface. This unseated position of the cap defines a swirl chamber between the front seating surface of the nozzle bushing face disc and the inner wall surface of the nozzle cap. Liquid then passes from the axial and radial passageways to and through the angular grooves in the annular outer periphery of the nose bushing face disc into the swirl chamber in a circular or spinning motion and discharges through the centrally located discharge orifice in the nozzle cap in a conical spray pattern.
When the nozzle cap is further unthreaded from the externally threaded portion of the nose bushing, the outer annular periphery of the nose bushing face disc is opposite a radially outwardly disposed surface such that liquid can now pass around the outer periphery and is not channeled solely through the angular grooves so that the liquid enters the swirl chamber radially inwardly as opposed to angular inwardly in a swirl. As a result, liquid exits the orifice in a stream or jet pattern.
Additional features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description and the accompanying figures illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention, the same being the present best mode for carrying out the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an adjustable nozzle assembly constructed according to the teachings of the present invention and shows a nozzle cap unthreadedly detached from a nose bushing which is mounted to the body of a trigger sprayer. FIG. 2 is a front view of the removed nozzle cap shown in FIG. 1 and shows an alternating rib and groove pattern on the exterior of the nozzle cap for facilitating engagement of the nozzle cap.
FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view, is taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and shows a flange skirt of the nozzle cap having a stepped inner surface forwardly of threads inside the flange skirt.
FIG. 4 is a top view of the nose bushing and shows one angular groove in the outer annular periphery of a face disc of the bushing.
FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional view of the nose bushing, is taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 4 and shows an axial central passageway in the bushing and two radial passageways through the bushing through which liquid passes.
FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the nose bushing and is taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 4.
FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of the integral nose bushing, is taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6 and shows an angular groove in the outer annular periphery of the nose bushing face disc.
FIG. 8 is a rear elevational view of the nose bushing and is taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 6.
FIG. 9 is a front and side perspective view of the nose bushing and shows the front seating surface of the nose bushing face disc, an externally threaded portion forward of a mid-bushing base, and rearwardly extending mounting flanges.
FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the nozzle cap fully threaded onto the nose bushing and a fragmentary top plan view of the front end of the nose bushing, is taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 2, and shows the front seating surface of the nose bushing face disc fully seated against an inner wall surface in the nozzle cap to provide an off mode position for the containment of a liquid.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view, similar to FIG. 10, of the nozzle cap, but showing the nozzle cap partially unthreaded from the nose bushing where the front seating surface of the nose bushing face disc is unseated from the inner wall surface of the nozzle cap with the outer annular periphery of the disc still sealingly engaging an annular wall surface of the stepped surface of the flange skirt to define a swirl chamber between the inner wall surface and the face disc and whereby liquid is channeled through the angular grooves in the outer annular periphery of the face disc into the swirl chamber to provide a spray mode position of the adjustable nozzle assembly where liquid is discharged in a generally conical spray pattern.
FIG. 12 is a sectional view, similar to FIG. 10, of the nozzle cap, but showing the nozzle cap further unthreaded from the nose bushing to space the inner wall surface of the cap further from the face disc to form a larger chamber and to disengage the outer annular periphery from the annular wall surface of the stepped surface to allow liquid to flow over the outer annular periphery of the face disc without any specified direction into the larger chamber to provide a stream or jet position wherein liquid is discharged in a stream or jet pattern.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
With reference to FIG. 1, the adjustable nozzle assembly

10 comprises two integral parts, namely a nozzle cap 12 and a nose bushing 14. The nose bushing 14 is adapted to be mounted to the front end 16 of the body 18 of a trigger sprayer 20 which is mounted on a container of liquid.
As observed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,247,048, a nozzle cap and a nose bushing preferably are made of dissimilar thermoplastic materials such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon, or ABS Plastic. In this way, the cap and nose bushing are of dissimilar materials with one material being harder than the other to provide high fidelity liquid seals as the harder material will "seat" into the softer material.
The nozzle cap 12 and nose bushing 14 of the nozzle assembly 10 are each integral pieces which may be fabricated of different materials by conventional injection molding techniques known to those skilled in the art.
Referring to the drawings in greater detail, there is illustrated in FIG. 1, the nozzle cap 12 disengaged from an externally threaded portion 22 of the nose bushing 14 which is mounted to the trigger sprayer 20.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the nozzle cap 12 has alternating, axially extending, grooves 24 and ribs 25 which facilitate finger and thumb engagement with the cap 12 for rotating same. A front face 26 of the cap 12 has indicia "OPEN

TWIST" plus an arrow thereon.
As shown in FIG. 3, the nozzle cap 12 includes a front wall 28 disposed between the front face 26 and an inner wall surface 30 and a rearwardly extending sleeve or flange skirt 32. The rear portion of the flange skirt 32 has internal threads 34 adapted to engage the threaded portion 22 of the nose bushing 14. Forwardly of the threads 34, inside the skirt flange 32 of the cap 12 is a stepped formation 36 including a first frusto-conical surface 38, a first annular surface 40, a second frusto-conical surface 42, and a second annular surface 44, extending to the inner wall surface 30 which is slightly frusto-conical at 46 inwardly to a flat radially extending surface 48.

The front wall 28 has an outlet orifice 49 extending therethrough in the center thereof between the inner wall surface 30 and the front face 26.
FIGS. 4-9, are views of the nose bushing 14 and show various portions thereof. The nose bushing 14 includes a face disc 50 having a front face 52 which is slightly frusto-conical at 54 and flat at 56 in the center thereof. The front face 52 is configured and sized to seat against the inner wall surface

30 of the nozzle cap (FIG. 3) . The face disc 50 is separated from the threaded portion 22 by an annular slot 58 and has an outer annular periphery 60. The annular periphery 60 has two angularly extending diametrically opposed grooves 61, 62 (FIG.

5) therein for directing liquid flowing therethrough in a swirl pattern between the front face 52 and the inner wall surface 30. The grooves 61-62 are tangential to a cylindrical envelope passing through the grooves 61, 62 and traverse or skew to the elongate axis of the nose bushing 14.
The portions of the nose bushing 14 are integral and at the rear end of the threaded portion 22 is a mid-bushing base 64 which is received against the front end 16 of the body 18 of the trigger.
Extending rearwardly from the base 64 is a tubular body portion 68 having an axial passageway 70 extending through to base 64 and the threaded portion 22 to the back of the nose disc 50 where two radial passageways 71, and 72 extend radially outwardly to the annular slot 58 and through a back side 73 of the nose disc 50 to the slots 61 and 62 as shown in FIG. 5.
The tubular body portion 68 of the nose bushing 14 is coupled to a liquid supply tube or conduit in a conventional manner.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 4 through 9, the nose bushing includes spaced apart; axially extending flanges 81 and 82 which extend rearwardly from rear wall face 84 of the mid-bushing base 64. Extending perpendicularly inwardly from the rearwardly extending flanges 81 and 82 are two pair of mounting shelves 91, 92.
The face disc 50 has rounded annular corners at the front and rear edges of its annular periphery 60 to facilitate movement of the nozzle cap 12 on the outer annular periphery 60 .
In FIGS. 10 through 12 there is illustrated, respectively, the off mode, spray mode, and stream mode positions of the adjustable nozzle assembly 10. In all such modes, a rubber 0-ring 94 is located in the annular slot 58 between the face disc 50 and the threaded portion 22 and sealingly engages the first annular surface 40.
More particularly, in FIG. 10 there is shown the off mode position of the adjustable nozzle assembly 10. In this mode, the nozzle cap 12 is screwed upon the externally threaded portion 22 of the nose bushing 14. In this off mode, the outer periphery 60 of the nose bushing face disc 50 is in flush contact with the second annular surface 44 in the nozzle cap flange skirt 32. Also, the front face 52 is in flush sealing contact with the inner wall surface 30 of the nozzle cap 12.

The spray mode position of the adjustable nozzle, assembly

10 is illustrated in FIG. 11. In FIG. 11, the rotatable nozzle cap 12 has been rotated outwardly off the threaded portion 22 of the nose bushing 14 a sufficient distance to a second position where the inner wall surface 30 of the nozzle cap 12 is moved forward from the front seating surface 52 of the nose bushing face disc 50 to an unseated position. This unseated position defines a swirl chamber 100 between the front seating surface 52 of the nozzle bushing face disc 50 and the inner wall surface 30 of the nozzle cap 12 and permits liquid from the axial passageway 70 (FIG. 5) and the radial passageways 71 and 72 (FIG. 5) to flow to and through the angular spin causing groves 61 and 62 (FIG. 7) into the swirl chamber 100 in a circular or spinning motion for discharge through the discharge orifice 49 in the front wall 28 of the nozzle cap 12 in a conical spray pattern. The swirl chamber 100 is defined between the second annular surface 44, the front seating surface 52 of the face disc 50 and the inner wall surface 30 of the nozzle cap 12.
In this respect, note that the outer periphery 60 of the face disc 50 is still in sealing engagement with the annular surface 44 whereby liquid flow is constrained to flow, or is channeled through the angular groves 61 and 62 (FIG. 7) to create a swirl flow in the swirl chamber 100. The conical spray mode of operation of the adjustable nozzle assembly 10 is characterized by the unseating of the front seating surface 52 from the inner wall surface 30, but with the annular periphery 60 of the nose bushing face disc 50 remaining in flush contact with the annular surface 44 in the nozzle cap flange skirt 32, so as to not permit liquid to move over or around the nose bushing face disc 50 into the swirl chamber 100 but only to only permit liquid to flow through the angular spin-causing -grooves 61, 62 into the swirl chamber 100 in a circular or spinning motion for discharge out of the nozzle cap discharge orifice 49 in a conical spray pattern.
In FIG. 12 there is illustrated a stream or jet mode position of the adjustable nozzle assembly 10 where the nozzle cap 12 is unthreaded further outwardly from the nose bushing 14 to create a larger chamber 102, the annular periphery 60 of the nose bushing face disc 50 is located opposite and spaced from the larger diameter annular surface 40 in the nozzle cap flange skirt 32. The discharge of liquid in this mode will be changed to a stream or jet pattern due to the fact that liquid from the radial passageways 71 and 72 (FIG. 5) can now pass over and around the annular periphery 60 of the nose bushing face disc 50 and is not constrained to flow through the angular spin-causing grooves 61, 62 for entry into the larger chamber 102 for discharge out of the nozzle cap discharge orifice 49. As a result, the liquid flow is not directed or channeled and the non-specific liquid flow is basically radially inwardly to the discharge orifice 49 and not in a swirl. This results in a stream discharged from the outlet orifice 49.
It is believed that the adjustable nozzle assembly 10 of the present invention and its numerous attendant advantages will be fully understood from the foregoing description, and that changes may be made in form, construction, and arrangement of the several parts thereof without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention, or sacrificing any of the attended advantages. The structures herein disclosed are preferred embodiments for the purpose of illustrating the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is only to be limited as necessitated by the accompanying claims.