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new patent Washing machine appliance and a method for operating the same / General Electric Company




Washing machine appliance and a method for operating the same


A washing machine and a method for operating a washing machine appliance. After the user selects a wash cycle, the washing machine appliance may perform a load sensing routine, during which a standard water fill amount and standard agitation intensity are determined. The washing machine appliance includes a controller that receives a user input of a supplemental water fill amount and provides the tub with an amount of water equal to the standard water fill amount plus...



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USPTO Applicaton #: #20170073877
Inventors: Stephen Edward Hettinger, Richard Dean Suel, Ii, Ryan James Scheckelhoff, Joseph Zekoski


The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20170073877, Washing machine appliance and a method for operating the same.


FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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The present subject matter relates generally to washing machine appliances and methods for operating washing machine appliances.

BACKGROUND

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OF THE INVENTION

Washing machine appliances generally include a tub for containing wash fluid, e.g., water and detergent, bleach, and/or other wash additives. A basket is rotatably mounted within the tub and defines a wash chamber for receipt of articles for washing. During normal operation of such washing machine appliances, wash fluid is directed into the tub to a fill amount and onto articles within the wash chamber of the basket. The basket or an agitation element can rotate at various speeds to agitate articles within the wash chamber in the wash fluid, to wring wash fluid from articles within the wash chamber, etc.

During operation of certain washing machine appliances, a volume of water is directed into the tub in order to form washing fluid and/or rinse articles within the wash chamber of the basket. The volume of water can vary depending upon a variety of factors. For example, large loads can require a large volume of water relative to small loads that can require a small volume of water.

Certain washing machine appliances allow for user selection of the wash cycle of the washing machine appliance. These washing machine appliances also typically have automatic load sensing, which determines an appropriate amount of water for a given load in the wash chamber. However, washing machine appliances do not typically have a way for the user to adjust the water fill amount once the wash cycle has been selected and automatic load sensing is complete. The ability to adjust the water fill amount is a generally commercially desirable feature and increases the user's positive perception of the wash process generally.

In addition, adjusting the water fill amount may affect the wash action in the wash chamber. More specifically, additional water in the chamber has a tendency to mute the intensity of the agitation action. Therefore, if water is added to the tub, the wash action in the tub may not be as effective, unless there is also an appropriate adjustment to the agitation intensity.

Accordingly, a method for operating a washing machine appliance that provides a user with more control over the water fill amount is desirable. In particular, a method for operating a washing machine appliance that can maintain washing action within a wash chamber while accounting for changes in water fill amount initiated by the user would be useful.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter provides a washing machine and a method for operating a washing machine appliance. More particularly, the present subject matter allows a user to adjust the water fill amount of the washing machine while maintaining the agitation stroke intensity. In one exemplary aspect, after the user selects a wash cycle, the washing machine appliance may perform a load sensing routine, during which a standard water fill amount and standard agitation intensity are determined for the load in the wash tub. A user can provide an input or instruction calling for the washing machine to add a supplemental water fill amount. The washing machine provides the tub with an amount of water equal to the standard water fill amount plus the supplemental water fill amount. An increased agitation intensity is determined based at least in part on the supplemental water fill amount and the washing machine operates in order to rotate an agitation element according to the increased agitation intensity. Additional aspects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be apparent from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.

In one exemplary embodiment, a washing machine appliance is provided. The washing machine appliance includes a tub, a basket rotatably mounted within the tub that defines a wash chamber for receiving articles for washing, and an agitation element rotatably mounted within the basket. A motor is in mechanical communication with at least one of the basket and the agitation element and is configured for selectively rotating at least one of the basket and the agitation element within the tub. A controller is in operative communication with the motor and is configured to receive a user input of a user-selected wash cycle of the washing machine appliance. The controller determines a characteristic of a load in the wash chamber of the washing machine appliance and determines a standard water fill amount and a standard agitation intensity associated with the user-selected wash cycle based on the determined characteristic of the load in the wash chamber. The controller receives a user input of a supplemental water fill amount and provides the tub with an amount of water equal to the standard water fill amount plus the supplemental water fill amount. The controller determines an increased agitation intensity based at least in part on the supplemental water fill amount and operates the motor in order to rotate at least one of the basket and the agitation element according to the increased agitation intensity.

In another exemplary embodiment, a method of washing articles in a wash chamber of a washing machine appliance is provided. The method includes the steps of receiving a user input of a user-selected wash cycle of the washing machine appliance and determining a characteristic of a load in the wash chamber of the washing machine appliance. The method includes determining a standard water fill amount and a standard agitation intensity associated with the user-selected wash cycle based on the determined characteristic of the load in the wash chamber. The method includes receiving a user input of a supplemental water fill amount and providing a tub with an amount of water equal to the standard water fill amount plus the supplemental water fill amount. The method includes determining an increased agitation intensity based at least in part on the supplemental water fill amount and operating a motor in order to rotate at least one of a basket and an agitation element according to the increased agitation intensity.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, a washing machine appliance is provided. The washing machine appliance includes a tub having a maximum fill water level, a basket rotatably mounted within the tub which defines a wash chamber for receiving articles for washing, and an agitation element rotatably mounted within the basket. A motor is in mechanical communication with at least one of the basket and the agitation element and is configured for selectively rotating at least one of the basket and the agitation element within the tub. The washing machine appliance includes a user input button for adjusting a water level in the tub and at least one controller in operative communication with the motor. The controller is configured to provide the tub with a standard water fill amount based at least in part on a user-selected wash cycle and a determined load characteristic. The controller operates the motor at a standard agitation intensity based at least in part on a user-selected wash cycle and a determined load characteristic. The controller receives a user input of a supplemental water fill amount from the user input button and provides the tub with the supplemental water fill amount.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures.

FIG. 1 provides a perspective view of a washing machine appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

FIG. 2 provides a front, section view of the exemplary washing machine appliance of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 provides a flow chart of an exemplary method for operating a washing machine appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

FIG. 4 provides a decision tree that may be used to determine the water fill amount and implement a water fill cycle according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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OF THE INVENTION

Reference now will be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a washing machine appliance 50 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter. As may be seen in FIG. 1, washing machine appliance 50 includes a cabinet 52 and a cover 54. A backsplash 56 extends from cover 54, and a control panel 58, including a plurality of input selectors 60, is coupled to backsplash 56. At least one of the input selectors 60 is a wash cycle selector capable of allowing a user to manually select a wash cycle, e.g., Whites, Normal, or Bulky load wash cycles. In addition, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter, a Deep Fill button 62 may be located on the backsplash 56. As described in detail below, the Deep Fill button 62 allows a user to add water to reach the desired water fill amount. As used herein, the term “water fill amount” may refer to the amount of water provided during e.g., a wash cycle and/or a rinse cycle of the washing machine appliance 50. Additionally, or alternatively, however, in other embodiments, “water fill amount” may instead refer to a level or height to which the water is filled during, e.g., a wash cycle and/or a rinse cycle of the washing machine appliance 50.

Control panel 58 and input selectors 60 collectively form a user interface for operator selection of machine cycles and features, and in one embodiment, a display 64 indicates selected features, a countdown timer, and/or other items of interest to machine users. For example, the control panel 58 may include a Deep Fill feature indicator 66, such as an LED that indicates the operational status of the Deep Fill feature. It should be appreciated, however, that in other exemplary embodiments, the control panel 58, input selectors 60, and display 64, may have any other suitable configuration. For example, in other exemplary embodiments, one or more of the input selectors 60 may be configured as manual “push-button” input selectors, or alternatively may be configured as a touchscreen on, e.g., display 64.

A lid 68 is mounted to cover 54 and is rotatable between an open position (not shown) facilitating access to a wash tub 70 (FIG. 2) located within cabinet 52 and a closed position (shown in FIG. 1) forming an enclosure over tub 70. Lid 68 in exemplary embodiment includes a transparent panel 72, which may be formed of, for example, glass, plastic, or any other suitable material. The transparency of the panel 72 allows users to see through the panel 72, and into the tub 70 when the lid 68 is in the closed position. In some embodiments, the panel 72 may itself generally form the lid 68. In other embodiments, the lid 68 may include the panel 72 and a frame 74 surrounding and encasing the panel 72. Alternatively, panel 72 need not be transparent.

FIG. 2 provides a front, cross-section view of the exemplary washing machine appliance 50 of FIG. 1. As may be seen in FIG. 2, tub 70 includes a bottom wall 76 and a sidewall 78. A wash drum or wash basket 80 is rotatably mounted within tub 70. In particular, basket 80 is rotatable about a vertical axis V. Thus, washing machine appliance is generally referred to as a vertical axis washing machine appliance. Basket 80 defines a wash chamber 82 for receipt of articles for washing and extends, e.g., vertically, between a bottom portion 84 and a top portion 86. Basket 80 includes a plurality of openings or perforations 88 therein to facilitate fluid communication between an interior of basket 80 and tub 70.

A nozzle 100 is configured for flowing a liquid into tub 70. In particular, nozzle 100 may be positioned at or adjacent to top portion 86 of basket 80. Nozzle 100 may be in fluid communication with one or more water sources 102, 104 in order to direct liquid (e.g. water) into tub 70 and/or onto articles within wash chamber 82 of basket 80. Nozzle 100 may further include apertures 106 through which water may be sprayed into the tub 70. Apertures 106 may, for example, be tubes extending from the nozzles 100 as illustrated, or simply holes defined in the nozzles 100 or any other suitable openings through which water may be sprayed. Nozzle 100 may additionally include other openings, holes, etc. (not shown) through which water may be flowed, i.e. sprayed or poured, into the tub 70.

Various valves may regulate the flow of fluid through nozzle 100. For example, a flow regulator may be provided to control a flow of hot and/or cold water into the wash chamber 82 of washing machine appliance 50. For the embodiment depicted, the flow regulator includes a hot water valve 108 and a cold water valve 110. The hot and cold water valves 108, 110 are utilized to flow hot water and cold water, respectively, therethrough. Each valve 108, 110 can selectively adjust to a closed position in order to terminate or obstruct the flow of fluid therethrough to nozzle 100. The hot water valve 108 may be in fluid communication with a hot water source 102, which may be external to the washing machine appliance 50. The cold water valve 110 may be in fluid communication with a cold water source 104, which may be external to the washing machine appliance 50. The cold water source 104 may, for example, be a commercial water supply, while the hot water source 102 may be, for example, a water heater. Such water sources 102, 104 may supply water to the appliance 50 through the respective valves 108, 110. A hot water conduit 112 and a cold water conduit 114 may supply hot and cold water, respectively, from the sources 102, 104 through the respective valves 108, 110 and to the nozzle 100.

Moreover, as is shown, the exemplary washing machine appliance 50 defines a plurality of water-fill amounts. At least certain water fill amounts may be selected by a user using, e.g., one of input selectors 60. For example, the washing machine appliance 50 may define at least three user-selectable water fill amounts. More particularly, for the embodiment depicted, the exemplary washing machine appliance 50 defines at least four user-selectable water fill amounts—a small water fill amount 116, a medium-low water fill amount 118, a medium-high water fill amount 120, and a large water fill amount 122. Additionally, for the embodiment depicted, the washing machine appliance 50 also defines a maximum water fill amount 124.

Alternatively, water fill amounts may be determined by the washing machine appliance 50 prior to the start of the wash cycle in response to the user selecting a wash cycle using, e.g., one of input selectors 60. In this regard, after the wash cycle is selected and initiated, the washing machine appliance 50 may perform a load sensing operation. Automatic load sensing is a standard feature on conventional washing machines whereby the washing machine predicts that amount of water required to wash the items in the wash basket 80. Automatic load sensing may be achieved by sensing the load during the water filling portion of the cycle to determine how much water is needed, for example, by measuring the weight and absorbency of the articles to be washed as water is added.

An amount of water associated with the maximum water fill amount 124 is greater than an amount of water associated with the large water fill amount 122, which may be selectable by the user. The amount of water associated with the maximum water fill amount 124 may be the maximum amount of water the washing machine appliance 50 is capable of handling. It should be appreciated, however, that in other exemplary embodiments, the washing machine appliance 50 may instead define any other suitable number of user selectable water fill amounts, and/or additional water fill amounts between the large water-fill amount 122 in the maximum water fill amount 124.

An additive dispenser 130 may additionally be provided for directing a wash additive, such as detergent, bleach, liquid fabric softener, etc., into the tub 70. For example, dispenser 130 may be in fluid communication with nozzle 100 such that water flowing through nozzle 100 flows through dispenser 130, mixing with wash additive at a desired time during operation to form a liquid or wash fluid, before being dispensed into tub 70. For the embodiment depicted, nozzle 100 is a separate downstream component from dispenser 130. In other exemplary embodiments, however, nozzle 100 and dispenser 130 may be integral, with a portion of dispenser 130 serving as the nozzle 100, or alternatively dispenser 130 may be in fluid communication with only one of hot water valve 108 or cold water valve 110. In still other exemplary embodiments, the washing machine appliance 50 may not include a dispenser, in which case a user may add one or more wash additives directly to wash chamber 82. A pump assembly 132 (shown schematically in FIG. 2) is located beneath tub 70 and basket 80 for gravity assisted flow to drain tub 70.




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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20170073877 A1
Publish Date
03/16/2017
Document #
14851359
File Date
09/11/2015
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
/
Drawings
5


Agitation User Input Washing Machine

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20170316|20170073877|washing machine appliance and a operating the same|A washing machine and a method for operating a washing machine appliance. After the user selects a wash cycle, the washing machine appliance may perform a load sensing routine, during which a standard water fill amount and standard agitation intensity are determined. The washing machine appliance includes a controller that |General-Electric-Company
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