(19)
(11)EP 3 764 039 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
13.01.2021 Bulletin 2021/02

(21)Application number: 19199569.5

(22)Date of filing:  25.09.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
F25D 25/02(2006.01)
A47B 88/453(2017.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 12.07.2019 KR 20190084449

(71)Applicant: LG ELECTRONICS INC.
Yeongdeungpo-Gu Seoul 07336 (KR)

(72)Inventor:
  • Choi, Seonwoo
    08592 Seoul (KR)

(74)Representative: Ter Meer Steinmeister & Partner 
Patentanwälte mbB Nymphenburger Straße 4
80335 München
80335 München (DE)

  


(54)REFRIGERATOR


(57) The present invention relates to a refrigerator including a rack gear assembly provided on a lower surface of a drawer, wherein the rack gear assembly has a first rack member and a second rack member sequentially moved forward such that an opening distance of the drawer is maximized, and a wing end of the second rack member and a blocking part of a bottom of a storage chamber are provided such that exact engagement of a rack gear with a pinion is maintained during opening of the drawer. In addition, while the drawer is opened, an unwanted movement of the drawer in a closing direction thereof is prevented.




Description


[0001] The present application claims priority to Korean Patent Application No. 10-2019-0084449, filed July 12, 2019.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention



[0002] The present invention relates to a refrigerator having a drawer automatically moved forward and backward.

Description of the Related Art



[0003] Generally, a refrigerator is a home appliance that is provided to store various foods or beverages for a long time by cold air generated by circulation of a refrigerant according to a refrigeration cycle.

[0004] The refrigerator is divided into two types of refrigerators: a common refrigerator that can store storage items a user wants to store regardless of a type of food or drink, and an exclusive-use refrigerator that varies in size or function on the basis of a type of storage item to be stored.

[0005] The exclusive use refrigerator includes a kimchi refrigerator, a wine refrigerator, and so on.

[0006] In addition, the refrigerator may be classified into various types depending on a door opening and closing method of a storage chamber in a cabinet, such as a swinging door-type refrigerator, a drawer-type refrigerator, and a hybrid-type refrigerator having both doors and drawers. Herein, the hybrid-type refrigerator has a structure in which a swinging door is provided in an upper portion of the cabinet and a drawer is provided in a lower portion thereof.

[0007] The drawer provided in the drawer refrigerator or the hybrid-type refrigerator is opened from an inside space of the cabinet in a sliding manner by user's operation. In addition, the drawer is closed by being pushed into the inside space of the cabinet by user's pushing operation, thereby allowing an open front portion of the cabinet to be closed.

[0008] The drawer includes a front panel and a storage room, the front panel forming a front surface of the refrigerator and being pulled out/pushed in, thereby allowing the inside space of the cabinet to be opened/closed and the storage room being provided in rear of the front panel and received in the inside space of the cabinet. By pulling the front panel, the storage room is opened from the inside space of the cabinet, thus various foods can be stored in and taken out from the storage room.

[0009] Meanwhile, the drawer provided in the drawer refrigerator or the hybrid-type refrigerator is mainly provided in the lower portion of the cabinet. This is because, due to the weight of storage items stored in the storage room of the drawer, the drawer may be removed from the cabinet and fall down forward when the drawer is opened.

[0010] However, inconveniently, when the drawer is provided in the lower portion of the cabinet, the user should bend over at the waist while keeping away from the front panel by an appropriate distance for opening of the drawer.

[0011] Accordingly, in recent years, the refrigerator in which the drawer is configured to be automatically opened has been researched and developed in various ways. This is disclosed in Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2009-0102577, Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2009-0102576, Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2013-0071919, and Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2018-0138083.

[0012] Meanwhile, in a structure of automatically moving forward the drawer of the prior arts in the prior documents, which are described above, a rack and a pinion are usually used.

[0013] That is, the rack and the pinion are installed at each of the drawer and the storage chamber in the cabinet opposed to the drawer such that the drawer is automatically moved forward and backward.

[0014] However, in the prior arts described above, a guide rack having a rack gear is provided on each of inner opposite side wall surfaces of the cabinet, and the pinion is provided on each of opposite side wall surfaces of the storage room (or each of opposite sides of a rear surface thereof) constituting the drawer such that the drawer is moved forward and backward. Accordingly, an opening distance of the drawer is limited.

[0015] That is, when the opening distance of the drawer is considered to be in proportion to a length of the guide rack, the storage room of the drawer cannot be completely opened from an inner space of the cabinet when the guide rack is not installed to protrude to the outside from the inner space of the cabinet. Accordingly, taking out items stored in the storage room is inconvenient.

[0016] Furthermore, as for the drawer of the refrigerator according to a prior art, which is described above, a center portion of the storage room is deformed to be bent downward by weight of the items stored in the storage room. In spite of this, since the storage room sits on the guide rack positioned at each of the opposite sides thereof and moves, exact engagement of the guide rack with the pinion is not maintained and thus the guide rack and the pinion are spaced apart from each other. Accordingly, the pinion runs idly or gear teeth of the pinion and the guide rack are not exactly engaged with each other and hit each other.

[0017] Particularly, collision between the teeth of the pinion and the guide rack causes damage of the pinion or the guide rack and generates noise. Accordingly, reliability of the refrigerator is lowered.

[0018] In addition, according to the refrigerator according to the prior art described above, when items stored in the storage room is stored or taken out while the drawer is completely opened, an unwanted movement of the drawer in a closing direction thereof may occur.

[0019] That is, a predetermined state of the drawer is not maintained but moved by impact or shaking which may occur while the items are stored in the storage room of the drawer or taken out therefrom. Accordingly, a user may experience discomfort.

Documents of Related Art



[0020] 

(Patent Document 1) Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2009-0102577;

(Patent Document 2) Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2009-0102576;

(Patent Document 3) Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2013-0071919; and

(Patent Document 4) Korean Patent Application Publication No. 10-2018-0138083.


SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0021] Accordingly, the present invention has been made keeping in mind the above problems occurring in the related art, and the present invention is intended to propose a new type of refrigerator, wherein an opening distance of a drawer is maximized such that items stored in a storage room are easily stored or taken out.

[0022] In addition, the present invention is intended to propose a new type of refrigerator, wherein exact engagement of a pinion with a guide rack is always maintained irrespective of various external factors such as downward bending or operational vibration of the storage room which may occur by weight of items stored in the storage room.

[0023] Furthermore, the present invention is intended to propose a new type of refrigerator, wherein operational malfunction of the drawer which may occur while the drawer is moved forward is prevented.

[0024] Additionally, the present invention is intended to propose a new type of refrigerator, wherein while the drawer is completely moved forward, unwanted movement of the drawer in a closing direction thereof is prevented.

[0025] The objects are solved by the independent claim. Features of preferred embodiments are set out in the dependent claims. According to the refrigerator of the present invention, there may be provided a rack gear assembly configured to extend sequentially such that the storage room constituting a drawer is completely opened.

[0026] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the storage room may be configured to be opened and closed by being guided by a guide rail provided at opposite sides thereof. A lower part of the storage room may be moved with the lower part supported by the rack gear assembly. Accordingly, although the storage room is heavy, operation malfunction of the storage room may be prevented.

[0027] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a first rack member of the rack gear assembly may be fixed to a lower surface of the storage room and a second rack member of the rack gear assembly may be provided to slidably move in the first rack member. Accordingly, a width of the rack gear assembly may be minimized.

[0028] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a linkage part may be provided at an opposing portion of the first rack member and the second rack member to allow the second rack member to move forward in cooperation with the first rack member when the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance. Accordingly, the two rack members may be allowed to properly operate in cooperation with each other.

[0029] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a movement guiding groove may be configured to be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member from a front end portion of a lower surface of the first rack member such that the second rack member is exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove. Accordingly, movement of the second rack member may be stable.

[0030] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the rack gear of the first rack member and the rack gear of the second rack member may be provided to be sequentially engaged with the pinion. Accordingly, exact sequential movement of each rack member may be performed.

[0031] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a wing end may be provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member by protruding to the outside, and a blocking part may be provided on a bottom surface of an inner part of the storage chamber to block an upward movement of each of the wing ends. Accordingly, the rack gear of the second rack member may be prevented from deviating from the pinion.

[0032] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the blocking part may be made of a metal plate having a length ranging from a positioning portion of the pinion to a rear side of the pinion. Accordingly, the blocking part may stably support each of the wing ends.

[0033] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the wing ends may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof, and a rear end of the blocking part may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof. Accordingly, each of the wing ends may be efficiently positioned in a lower part of the blocking part.

[0034] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a confining module may be configured to include a confining protrusion part and a locking member. Accordingly, the second rack member may not be moved until the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance.

[0035] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a lifting guide step may be provided in the second rack member and an extending step may be provided in the locking member. Accordingly, when the second rack member is moved forward, the locking member efficiently may escape from the confining protrusion part.

[0036] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a stopper member may be provided and accordingly, the second rack member may be moved backward only to a predetermined position.

[0037] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a holder may be provided and confine the stopper member until the locking member escapes from the confining protrusion part.

[0038] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the holder may be configured to be exposed to an upper part of the second rack member by passing therethrough. Accordingly, the holder may move away from the stopper member at the same time when the second rack member is moved.

[0039] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a distance defined between a rear surface of a first receiving groove and a rear surface of a second receiving groove may be longer than a distance defined between a rear surface of the holder and a rear surface of the locking member. Accordingly, the holder and the locking member may be sequentially operated.

[0040] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, an upper surface of the first rack member may be replaced with a first rack cover. Accordingly, manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0041] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the linkage part may be provided. Accordingly, the second rack member may properly follow the first rack member.

[0042] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the stopper member may be provided to move forward and backward in the second rack member. Accordingly, the extending step of the locking member may properly climb on the lifting guide step.

[0043] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a confining member may be provided and accordingly, an unwanted backward movement of the first rack member may be prevented.

[0044] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining member may be provided as a coil spring. Accordingly, manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0045] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a confining hook of the stopper member may be provided. Accordingly, a backward moving distance of the second rack member may be limited.

[0046] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a second rack cover made of a metal plate may be provided. Accordingly, twisting or deformation of the second rack member may be prevented.

[0047] As described above, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the storage room constituting the drawer may be completely opened by the rack gear assembly configured to extend sequentially.

[0048] Particularly, the storage room may be configured to be opened and closed by being guided by a guide rail provided at each of opposite sides thereof, and a lower part of the storage room may be moved with the lower part supported by the rack gear assembly. Accordingly, although the storage room is heavy, operation malfunction of the storage room is prevented.

[0049] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the first rack member of the rack gear assembly may be fixed to a lower surface of the storage room. The second rack member of the rack gear assembly may be provided to slidably move in the first rack member. Accordingly, a width of the rack gear assembly is minimized.

[0050] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the linkage part may be provided at an opposing portion of the first rack member and the second rack member to allow the second rack member to move forward in cooperation with the first rack member when the first rack member is moved by a predetermined distance. Accordingly, the two rack members are allowed to properly operate in cooperation with each other.

[0051] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the movement guiding groove may be configured to be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member from a front end portion of a lower surface of the first rack member such that the second rack member is exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove. Accordingly, movement of the second rack member is stable.

[0052] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the rack gear of the first rack member and the rack gear of the second rack member may be provided to be sequentially engaged with the pinion. Accordingly, exact sequential movement of each rack member is performed.

[0053] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the wing end may be provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member by protruding to the outside. The blocking part may be provided on a bottom surface of an inner part of the storage chamber to block the upward movement of each of the wing ends. Accordingly, the rack gear of the second rack member is prevented from deviating from the pinion.

[0054] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the blocking part may be made of a metal plate having a length ranging from a positioning portion of the pinion to a rear side of the pinion. Accordingly, the blocking part stably supports each of the wing ends.

[0055] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the wing ends may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof. A rear end of the blocking part may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof. Accordingly, each of the wing ends is efficiently positioned in the lower part of the blocking part.

[0056] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining module may be configured to include the confining protrusion part and the locking member. Accordingly, the second rack member is not moved until the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance.

[0057] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, while the second rack member is moved forward, the locking member may efficiently escape from the confining protrusion part due to the lifting guide step provided in the second rack member and the extending step provided in the locking member.

[0058] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack member may be moved backward only to a predetermined position since the stopper member is provided.

[0059] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the holder may be provided and may confine the stopper member until the locking member escapes from the confining protrusion part.

[0060] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the holder may be configured to be exposed to an upper part of the second rack member by passing therethrough. Accordingly, the holder moves away from the stopper member at the same time when the second rack member is moved.

[0061] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, since a distance defined between a rear surface of the first receiving groove and a rear surface of the second receiving groove may be longer than a distance defined between a rear surface of the holder and a rear surface of the locking member, the holder and the locking member may be sequentially operated.

[0062] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, an upper surface of the first rack member may be replaced with the first rack cover. Accordingly, manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0063] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack member may properly follow the first rack member due to provision of the linkage part.

[0064] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the stopper member may be configured to move forward and backward in the second rack member. Accordingly, the extending step of the locking member properly climbs on the lifting guide step.

[0065] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining member may be provided such that the first rack member is prevented from unwantedly moving backward.

[0066] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining member may be provided as the coil spring and thus manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0067] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a backward moving distance of the second rack member may be confined by the confining hook of the stopper member.

[0068] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack cover made of a metal plate may be provided and accordingly, twisting or deformation of the second rack member is prevented.

[0069] According to one embodiment, a refrigerator comprises a cabinet having a forward open storage chamber; a drawer provided with a front panel and a storage room provided at a rear of the front panel, the front panel being provided so that the open front portion of the storage chamber is opened and closed, and the storage room being received in the storage chamber; a driving part provided on a bottom surface of an inner part of the storage chamber of the cabinet and having a pinion, a portion of the pinion being exposed to the bottom surface; and a rack gear assembly including a rack gear provided on a lower surface of the storage room and engaged with the pinion, a first rack member and a second rack member sequentially moving forward and a confining module confining a forward movement of the second rack member until the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance and releasing the confining of the second rack member when the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance.

[0070] According to another embodiment, a refrigerator comprises a cabinet having a storage chamber, a drawer provided in the storage chamber and having a front panel for opening and closing the storage chamber, a driving part installed in the storage chamber, the driving part including a pinion; and a rack gear assembly for moving the drawer into and out of the storage chamber. The rack gear assembly includes a first rack member mounted on the drawer and including a first rack gear configured to be engaged with the pinion; a second rack member slidably provided on the first rack member and including a second rack gear configured to be engaged with the pinion; a confining module provided at the second rack member and configured to prevent an outward movement of the second rack member until the first rack member is moved outward by a predetermined distance; and a linkage part for coupling the first rack member and the second rack member when the first rack member is moved outward by the predetermined distance.

[0071] One or more of the following preferred features can be combined with any one of the above described embodiments.

[0072] The first rack member may include a movement guiding groove configured to slidably accommodate the second rack member.

[0073] The linkage part includes a linkage protrusion coupled to one of the drawer (preferably at a rear portion thereof) and the second rack (preferably at a front portion thereof). The linkage part includes a linkage step coupled to the other of the drawer (preferably at a rear portion thereof) and the second rack (preferably at a front portion thereof). The linkage step may be configured to engage with the linkage protrusion, when the first rack member is moved outward by the predetermined distance, in order to pull the second rack member outward. The linkage protrusion or the linkage step may be coupled to the drawer via the first rack member, i.e. may be formed at the first rack member, or via the first rack cover.

[0074] The first rack gear and the second rack gear may be configured to be sequentially engaged with the pinion. In a state where the drawer is fully moved into, i.e. fully inserted in the storage space, only the first rack gear may be engaged with the pinion. Thus, until the first rack member is moved outward by the predetermined distance, only the first rack gear may be engaged with the pinion. When the first rack member is moved outward by more than the predetermined distance, only the second rack gear may be engaged with the pinion. The second rack gear may become engaged with the pinion, when the second rack member has been pulled by the linkage part to move together with the first rack member.

[0075] A front portion or front end of the first rack member, i.e. a portion of the first rack member adjacent to the front panel, may extend further along an outward or forward direction or closer to front panel than a front portion or front end of the second rack member, in the fully inserted state of the drawer. The front end of the first rack gear may have a larger width than the remaining portion of the first rack member. In the fully inserted state of the drawer, the remaining portion of the first rack gear may be adjacent to the second rack gear. In the fully inserted state of the drawer, the second rack gear or the second rack member may be positioned rearward of the pinion and confined by the confining module. Here, front portion may refer to a portion of an element facing the front panel or closer to the front of the refrigerator, rear elements being opposite thereto, i.e. rear portion may refer to a portion facing away from the front panel or being farther from the front of the refrigerator. The movement direction of the drawer may be along a front-rear direction of the refrigerator. Thus, rearward may refer to inward, and forward may refer to outward.

[0076] The movement guiding groove may be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member from a front end portion of a lower surface of the first rack member such that the second rack member is exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove. That is, the movement guiding groove may have an open rear end, i.e. an end of the movement guiding groove facing away from front panel is open. By these means, the second rack member may be configured to slidably move out of the movement guiding groove at its rear end.

[0077] The first rack gear and the second rack gear are positioned in parallel and adjacent to each other. The pinion may have a width corresponding to a sum of the widths of the first rack gear and the second rack gear.

[0078] The confining module may include a confining protrusion part mounted on an inner surface of the storage chamber, e.g. on an inner bottom surface, to protrude therefrom, the confining protrusion part facing the second rack member.

[0079] The confining module may include a locking member provided in a through hole of the second rack member and being movable between an engaging position to engage with the confining protrusion part for preventing an outward movement of the second rack member and a releasing position to release the confining protrusion part for allowing an outward movement of the second rack member.

[0080] The through hole may be longer than the locking member in the movement direction of the drawer.

[0081] Lifting guide steps may be provided on the second rack member at opposite sides of the through hole. Preferably, the lifting guide steps are inclined with respect to a movement direction of the drawer, e.g. such that a front end of the lifting guide steps may be closer to the inner surface of the storage chamber or to the confining protrusion part than a rear end thereof.

[0082] An end of the locking member may pass through the through hole of the second rack member. An extending step may extend from opposite sides from said end of the locking member. The extending step may be configured to be guided by the lifting guide steps when the locking member moves from the engaging position to the releasing position, such that the locking member is moved away from the confining protrusion part.

[0083] The second rack member may include a motion groove having a front end and a rear end.

[0084] The confining module may include a stopper member configured to move in the motion groove between the front end and the rear end thereof. An elastic confining member may be provided between the stopper member and the rear end of the motion groove and being configured to pull the stopper member towards the rear end of the motion groove (of the second rack member.

[0085] The stopper member may include a locking member through hole overlapping the through hole of the second rack member. The locking member may pass through the through hole of the second rack member and the locking member through hole of the stopper member.

[0086] The stopper member may include a holder groove recessed in a surface of the stopper member that faces the second rack member.

[0087] A holder may be provided in a further through hole of the second rack member. A portion of the holder may be received in the holder groove of the stopper member for confining a position of the stopper member at the front end of the motion groove until the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance.

[0088] In the movement guiding groove of the first rack member, a first receiving groove and a second receiving groove are sequentially provided along a moving direction of the first rack member.

[0089] When the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance, the through hole of the second rack member may overlap with the second receiving groove of the first rack member and the further through hole of the second rack member may overlap with the first receiving groove of the first rack member.

[0090] The holder may be configured to be pushed out of the holder groove of second rack member into the first receiving groove of first rack member by the stopper member and the elastic confining member, for coupling the first rack member and second rack member to each other and for releasing the confinement of the position of the stopper member, when the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance. When the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance and the confinement of the stopper member is released, the stopper member may be configured to be then pulled by the elastic confining member to the rear end of the motion groove, thereby pushing the locking member in the through hole of the second rack member to its releasing position allowing an outward movement of the second rack member.

[0091] The stopper member may have a confining hook extending from the stopper member in a direction away from the second rack member to engage with the confining protrusion part for confining a position of the stopper member at the front end of the motion groove.

[0092] A wing end may protrude from opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member. A blocking part may be provided on an inner surface of the storage chamber to block a movement of the wing end in a direction away from the inner surface.

[0093] The first rack member of the rack gear assembly may be fixed to a lower surface of the storage room. The second rack member of the rack gear assembly may be provided to slidably move in the first rack member.

[0094] The first rack member may include a movement guiding groove provided in the lower surface thereof by being recessed therefrom, the movement guiding groove supporting a sliding movement of the second rack member while the second rack member is received in the movement guiding groove. The first rack member may include further a linkage part provided at an opposing portion of the first rack member and the second rack member to allow the second rack member to be moved forward in cooperation with the first rack member when the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance.

[0095] The movement guiding groove may be configured to be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member from a front end portion of a lower surface of the first rack member such that the second rack member is exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove.

[0096] The rack gear of the first rack member may be provided at a side part of the movement guiding groove of a lower surface of the first rack member along a moving direction of the first rack member. The rack gear of the first rack member may be provided to a portion located at a further front side compared to the movement guiding groove. The rack gear of the second rack member may be positioned in parallel with the rack gear of the first rack member of a lower surface of the second rack member at a side portion thereof. The rack gear of the second rack member may be provided in a moving direction of the second rack member. The pinion may be configured to have a width of a size of the rack gear of the first rack member and the rack gear of the second rack member overlapped together.

[0097] A wing end may be provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member by protruding to the outside. A blocking part may be provided on a bottom surface of an inner part of the storage chamber to block an upward movement of each of the wing ends. The blocking part may be made of a plate having a length ranging from a positioning portion of the pinion to a rear side of the pinion.

[0098] The wing end may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or rounded backward. A rear end of the blocking part may be configured to be gradually inclined upward or rounded backward.

[0099] The confining module may include a confining protrusion part provided on a bottom surface of an inner part of the storage chamber by protruding upward therefrom. The confining module may include further a locking member provided to move vertically in the second rack member. The locking member may be for confining the forward movement of the second rack member by being positioned at a rear of the confining protrusion part until the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance and releasing the second rack member confined by the confining protrusion part while being moved upward to a position higher than the confining protrusion part such that the second rack member is moved together with the first rack member when the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance.

[0100] A through hole may be provided at a front end of the second rack member. A front to rear length of the through hole may be longer than a front to rear length of the locking member. A lifting guide step may be provided at each of opposite sides of the through hole of the upper surface of the front end of the second rack member. The lifting guide step may be gradually inclined or round upward toward a rear thereof. An upper end of the locking member may be configured to pass through the through hole of the second rack member. An extending step may be provided at an upper end of the locking member by extending to opposite sides thereof such that the locking member climbs on the lifting guide step.

[0101] The confining module may further include a stopper member having a confining hook provided by protruding downward therefrom. The stopper member may be configured for preventing an additional movement of the second rack member by hitting the front surface of the confining protrusion part when the second rack member having a lower surface recessed at a front end is moved backward to a predetermined position. The locking member may be installed to vertically pass through a rear end of the stopper member.

[0102] A holder groove may be provided by being recessed on an upper surface of the front of the stopper member to be gradually inclined downward backward. A holder may be provided in the second rack member. A portion of the holder may be received in the holder groove of the stopper member. The holder may be configured for confining the stopper member until the first rack member is moved forward by a predetermined distance and moving away from the stopper member while moving together with the first rack member when the first rack member is moved forward by the predetermined distance.

[0103] The holder may be configured to be exposed to an upper part of the second rack member by passing therethrough. A first receiving groove in which an upper end of the holder is received and a second receiving groove in which the upper end of the locking member is received may be sequentially provided along a moving direction of the first rack member by being recessed on an upper surface of an inner part of the movement guiding groove of the first rack member.

[0104] An inner portion of the movement guiding groove of the first rack member may be configured to be open. A first rack cover may be provided on an upper surface of the first rack member to cover an open upper portion of the movement guiding groove. A lower surface of the first rack cover may constitute an upper surface of the inner portion of the movement guiding groove. Each of the first receiving groove and the second receiving groove may be provided on the lower surface of the first rack cover.

[0105] A motion groove may be provided by being recessed on a lower surface of the second rack member. A front to rear length of the motion groove may be longer than a front to rear length of the stopper member. The stopper member may be installed to move forward and backward in the motion groove. A confining member may be positioned between a wall surface of a moving direction side of the stopper member and the motion groove opposed thereto to confine a position of the stopper member so that a state of the extending step of the locking member climbing on the lifting guide step is maintained when the second rack member is in a state of moving together with the first rack member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0106] The above and other objects, features and other advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating the refrigerator according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view illustrating the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a state view of an important part roughly illustrating an opened state of a drawer of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a state view of an important part roughly illustrating a state of a container moving upward in the opened state of the drawer of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating a state of a cable guide module connected to the drawer of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the cable guide module of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an assembled perspective view illustrating the cable guide module of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating a state in which the cable guide module of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention is installed in a storage chamber of the refrigerator;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view, from a rear side of the drawer, illustrating a state in which the cable guide module of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention is connected to the drawer;

FIG. 11 is a bottom view illustrating installation states of rack gear assemblies of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view illustrating the installation state of each of the rack gear assemblies of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention from a lower portion thereof;

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention from an upper portion thereof;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged view of an "A" portion of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention from the lower portion thereof;

FIG. 16 is an enlarged view of a "B" portion of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the rack gear assembly upside down to illustrate a structure of a lower surface of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 18 is an enlarged view of a "C" portion of FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is an enlarged view of a "D" portion of FIG. 17;

FIG. 20 is a bottom view illustrating a structure of the lower surface of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 21 is an enlarged view of an "E" portion of FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 is a top plan view illustrating a state of an inner part of a lower storage chamber of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 23 is an enlarged view of an "F" portion of FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of an important part illustrating a state in which a wing end of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention is pressed by a blocking plate;

FIG. 25 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a confining protrusion part of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 26, 28, 30, and 32 are operation state views illustrating operation states of the rack gear assembly in a process in which a storage room of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention is opened;

FIG. 27 is an enlarged view of a "G" portion of FIG. 26;

FIG. 29 is an enlarged view of an "H" portion of FIG. 28; and

FIG. 31 is an enlarged view of an "I" portion of FIG. 30.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0107] Hereinbelow, an exemplary embodiment of a refrigerator of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 1 to 32.

[0108] FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 is a front view illustrating the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention; and FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention.

[0109] As illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention includes a cabinet 100, a drawer 200, a driving part 400, and rack gear assemblies 600. Particularly, each of the rack gear assemblies 600 is configured to extend in multiple steps such that the drawer 200 is completely moved forward out of a lower storage chamber 3 in the cabinet 100.

[0110] The refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described by each of the above-described components.

[0111] First, the cabinet 100 of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described.

[0112] The cabinet 100 is a part constituting an outer surface of the refrigerator.

[0113] The cabinet 100 includes a roof 110 constituting an upper wall, a bottom 120 constituting a lower wall, a rear wall 140 and opposite side walls 130 constituting opposite side walls, and is configured as a box body, which is open forward, i.e. at a front side. In this case, an inner space of the cabinet 100 is provided as a storage space.

[0114] In addition, a plurality of partition walls 150 are provided in the cabinet 100. The partition walls 150 are installed to partition the storage space of an inner part of the cabinet 100 into a plurality of spaces. Accordingly, the storage space includes a plurality of storage chambers 1, 2, and 3, which are partitioned vertically.

[0115] Of course, the partition walls 150 may be provided to partition the storage space in the cabinet 100 from left to right.

[0116] In the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention, a storage space is provided to be vertically divided into three chambers, and an upper storage chamber 1 may be used as a refrigerating compartment, and the center storage chamber 2 and the lower storage chamber 3 may be used as the refrigerating compartment, a freezer compartment, or as an independent space.

[0117] Particularly, each storage chamber 1, 2, and 3 of the cabinet 100 is provided to be opened and closed by each door thereof. In this case, the upper storage chamber 1 is opened and closed by the swinging door 4, and the center storage chamber 2 and the lower storage chamber 3 are opened and closed by the drawer 200. This is illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0118] Of course, although not shown, the center storage chamber 2 may be configured to be opened and closed by the swinging door 4.

[0119] The swinging door 4 is hingedly combined with the cabinet 100 and opens or closes the upper storage chamber 1.

[0120] In addition, a display part 5 may be provided on a front surface of the swinging door 4 to output information. That is, the display part 5 can display various information such as an operation state of the refrigerator or temperature of each storage chamber 1, 2, and 3, and the like.

[0121] The display part 5 may be provided as various components such as a liquid crystal display or an LED.

[0122] Next, the drawer 200 of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described.

[0123] The drawer 200 is a door of a structure opening or closing by sliding. In the following embodiment, the drawer 200 is a drawer provided in the lower storage chamber 3.

[0124] Such a drawer 200 includes a front panel 210 and a storage room 220.

[0125] Here, the front panel 210 is a part closing an open front of the lower storage chamber 3 and has an installation space therein.

[0126] Particularly, the front panel 210 is provided to have each wall surface (an upper surface, opposite side surfaces, a front surface, and a lower surface) by bending a thin metal plate, and includes an inner frame of a resin material provided therein to reduce weight and improve productivity. Of course, the front panel 210 may be made of a material which may approximate the feel of metal.

[0127] In addition, the storage room 220 is provided at a rear of the front panel 210 and is received in the lower storage chamber 3.

[0128] The storage room 220 is configured to be a box body, which is open upward, and a front surface of the storage room 220 is provided to be combined with and fixed to a rear surface of the front panel 210 while the front surface of the storage room 220 is in close contact with the rear surface of the front panel 210. In this case, the storage room 220 may be variously combined with the front panel 210 by hooking, bolting, screwing, engaging or fitting.

[0129] Particularly, guide rails 230 are provided on each of opposite outer surfaces of the storage room 220 and each of opposite wall surfaces of an inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 opposed thereto such that the guide rails 230 are engaged with each other and support stable forward and backward movements of the storage room 220.

[0130] Although not shown, each of the guide rails 230 may be provided on each of a lower surface of the storage room 220 and a bottom surface of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 opposed thereto such that the guide rails 230 are engaged with each other. In addition, the guide rail 230 may be configured to extend in multiple steps.

[0131] In addition, a container 240 may be further provided in the storage room 220. That is, although various kinds of food may be stored in the storage room 220, the container 240 may be received into the storage room 220 such that various kinds of food is stored in the container 240. In this case, the container 240 may be, for example, a kimchi container, or a container having an open upper part.

[0132] Particularly, when the storage room 220 is opened from the lower storage chamber 3, the container 240 is preferably configured to move upward in the storage room 220.

[0133] That is, a sufficient gap is required for a user's finger to enter a gap between the storage room 220 and the container 240 such that the user can lift the container 240 received in the storage room 220. Accordingly, a size of the container 240 is bound to decrease by the gap. Accordingly, to maximize the size of the container 240, it is the most preferable to allow the container 240 to be automatically removed from the storage room 220. Of course, when the container 240 is automatically removed from the storage room 220, the withdrawal of the container 240 by the user is not required.

[0134] To this end, the storage room 220 may further include a lift module 300 of automatically raising and lowering the container 240.

[0135] The lift module 300 may be implemented in various forms. For example, the lift module 300 may be configured to have a scissor-type link structure, wherein when the lift module 300 is folded, height thereof is minimized and when the lift module 300 is spread, the height thereof is maximized. This is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5.

[0136] In addition, electric components 310 (See FIG. 6) (for example, a driving motor), which provide a driving force for lifting and lowering the lift module 300, are preferably provided in the installation space inside the front panel 210.

[0137] Of course, when the lift module 300 operates before the storage room 220 of the drawer 200 is completely opened, the container 240 or the cabinet 100 may be damaged. Accordingly, it is further preferred that a control program (not shown) programmed to control the operation of the lift module 300 is programmed to operate only when the storage room 220 is completely opened.

[0138] Next, the driving part 400 of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described.

[0139] The driving part 400 is a part providing the driving force to allow the drawer 200 to automatically move forward and backward.

[0140] As illustrated in FIGS. 3 to 5, the driving part 400 is provided at the bottom 120 of the cabinet 100 and includes a pinion 410 and the driving motor 420.

[0141] Particularly, a portion of the pinion 410 is provided to be exposed to the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 by being upward formed through a bottom surface (an upper surface of the bottom) of the lower storage chamber 3, and the driving motor 420 is fixed to the bottom 120 of the cabinet 100 so as to transmit power to the pinion 410.

[0142] In the embodiment of the present invention, the pinion 410 is positioned on each of opposite sides of the bottom surface of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3. Each of the opposite pinions is configured to be connected to a power transmission shaft 411, and the driving motor 420 is connected to the power transmission shaft 411 by a belt, a chain, or a gear to transmit power thereto.

[0143] That is, each of the opposite pinions 410 is simultaneously rotated at the same speed and in the same direction by driving of the driving motor 420.

[0144] Of course, a reduction gear (not shown) may be further provided at a connection portion of the power transmission shaft 411 with the driving motor 420.

[0145] Particularly, each of the opposite pinions 410 is preferably positioned at a front side of a bottom surface of the lower storage chamber 3. This is to allow the drawer 200 to be maximally opened.

[0146] The driving motor 420 may be operated by detecting proximity of a user or by manipulation of a button 6 by the user.

[0147] In this case, the button 6 may be a touch-type button provided on the display part 5 of the swinging door 4. Of course, the button 6 may be a press button provided at a position separate from the display part 5.

[0148] Meanwhile, a cable guide module 500 is connected to the bottom surface (the upper surface of the bottom) of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 and the front panel 210.

[0149] The cable guide module 500 is configured to protect power lines or cables (hereinbelow, referred to as "cable") connected to electrical components in the front panel 210 among various kinds of power lines or cables connected along an inner part of the bottom 120.

[0150] Particularly, the cable guide module 500 is configured to prevent the cable from being damaged by being twisted or scratched during the forward or backward movement of the drawer 200.

[0151] To this end, the cable guide module 500 includes a cover plate 510, a guiding head 520, multiple connecting members 530, a swinging connection member 540 and a mounting plate 550. This is shown in FIGS. 7 to 10.

[0152] The cable guide module 500 will be described in greater detail by each configuration thereof hereinbelow.

[0153] First, the cover plate 510 of the cable guide module 500 is combined with the upper surface of the bottom 120.

[0154] Preferably, a front portion of the upper surface of the bottom 120 is configured to be open, and the cover plate 510 is combined with the bottom 120 so as to cover the open portion of the bottom 120.

[0155] Particularly, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, a pinion exposure hole 511 is provided on each of opposite sides of the cover plate 510 by being formed therethrough such that the pinion 410 constituting the driving part 400 is exposed to the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3.

[0156] In addition, a motor receiving part 512, into which the driving motor 420 constituting the driving part 400 is received, is provided on the cover plate 510. The motor receiving part 512 is provided by protruding a portion of the cover plate 510 upward or is provided by being combined with the cover plate 510 after being manufactured independently of the cover plate 510. Of course, the motor receiving part 512 may also be formed in other shapes or methods not shown or described.

[0157] In addition, a protrusion passing hole 513 is provided on a rear of each of opposite sides of the cover plate 510 by being formed therethrough so as to install a confining protrusion part 650 therein, which will be described later. In this case, the confining protrusion part 650 is positioned so that an upper end thereof is exposed to the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 while the confining protrusion part 650 is received in the protrusion passing hole 513. The confining protrusion part 650 will be described again in a later description of the rack gear assembly 600.

[0158] In addition, an open/close sensing part 514 is provided on any one side of the cover plate 510 so as to detect closing and opening of the drawer 200. The open/close sensing part 514 may be provided as a Hall sensor, and in this case, a magnet (not shown), which can be detected by the Hall sensor, is preferably provided on the lower surface of the storage room 220. Of course, the open/close sensing part 514 may also be composed of various structures such as optical sensors and switches, and may also be positioned at any opposing portions of the cabinet 100 and the drawer 200.

[0159] Next, the guiding head 520 of the cable guide module 500 is a part that is combined with the front panel 210.

[0160] Preferably, an installation hole 212 is provided at a center lower portion of a rear surface of the front panel 210, and the guiding head 520 is configured to pass through a portion of the installation hole 212 and be combined with the rear surface of the front panel 210.

[0161] Next, each of the connecting members 530 of the cable guide module 500 is a part flexibly connecting the swinging connection member 540 with the guiding head 520.

[0162] Each of the connecting members 530 is configured to be a tube body having an empty inner part and be continuously connected to each other such that the cable sequentially passes through an inner part of each of the connecting members 530. In this case, the above-mentioned connection structure may be a chain-type connection structure.

[0163] Particularly, a connection portion between each of the connecting members 530 is configured to be rotatable in a horizontal direction, wherein the connecting member 530 of any one end of each of the connecting members 530 is rotatably connected to the swinging connection member 540 and the connecting member 530 of the remaining end is rotatably connected to the guiding head 520. When the drawer 200 moves forward or backward, the connecting members 530 move the cable together therewith by operating in cooperation with each other due to such a structure.

[0164] Next, the swinging connection member 540 of the cable guide module 500 is a part rotatably connected to the cover plate 510.

[0165] A cable through hole 515 is provided in the cover plate 510 so as to allow the cable to pass therethrough, and the swinging connection member 540 is provided to have a pipe structure, wherein an end of the swinging connection member 540 is configured to be in close contact with an upper surface of the cover plate 510. In this case, an extension end 541 of a dome structure is provided at an end portion of the swinging connection member 540, the extension end gradually extending toward the end thereof.

[0166] Particularly, an extension hole 516 is provided on any one circumference of the cable through hole 515 by extending therefrom, and a confining protrusion 542 is provided on a circumference of the extension end 541 constituting the swinging connection member 540 by protruding outward from the circumference of the extension end 541 to pass through the extension hole 516.

[0167] In this case, the extension hole 516 is formed to have only a width to allow the confining protrusion 542 to pass therethrough. That is, after the confining protrusion 542 passes through the extension hole 516, the swinging connection member 540 is slightly rotated to maintain a state of being prevented from being removed from the cable through hole 515 of the cover plate 510.

[0168] Next, the mounting plate 550 of the cable guide module 500 is a part provided to prevent deviation of the swinging connection member 540 connected to the cover plate 510.

[0169] The mounting plate 550 is combined with and fixed to the cover plate 510, and a communicating hole 551 is provided in a portion corresponding to the cable through hole 515, and a covering end 552 is provided on a circumference of the communicating hole 551 by protruding therefrom to cover the extension end 541 of the swinging connection member 540. In this case, an inner surface of the covering end 552 is configured to have the same curved surface (a spherical surface) as an outer surface of the extension end 541 so as to be in close contact therewith.

[0170] Next, the rack gear assembly 600 of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described.

[0171] The rack gear assembly 600 is a device operating to allow the drawer 200 to be automatically moved forward and backward by a driving force of the driving part 400 provided in the cabinet 100.

[0172] As illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12, the rack gear assembly 600 is provided on opposite sides of the lower surface of the storage room 220 constituting the drawer 200. The rack gear assembly 600 has the rack gears 611 and 621 provided on a lower surface thereof such that the pinion 410 exposed to the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 is engaged with each of the rack gears 611 and 621.

[0173] In addition, the rack gears 611 and 621 of the rack gear assembly 600 are configured from a front side of the lower surface of the storage room 220 to a rear side thereof. Accordingly, the drawer 200 provided with the rack gear assembly 600 can moved away from or moved close to the lower storage chamber 3 while the drawer 200 is moved forward and rearward by a rotating movement of the pinion 410.

[0174] Of course, the pinion 410 and the rack gear assembly 600 may be provided so that at least three thereof are paired with each other.

[0175] Meanwhile, as a distance of the drawer 200, which is automatically opened, increases, convenience of use thereof improves.

[0176] That is, as the storage room 220 is maximally moved away from the lower storage chamber 3 by the drawer 200, it becomes easy to house the container 240 in the storage room 220 or to store items or food in the storage room.

[0177] Furthermore, since the container 240 is automatically raised by the lift module 300 when the drawer 200 is opened, it is preferable for the storage room 220 to maximally move away from the lower storage chamber 3.

[0178] To this end, each of the opposite pinions 410 is preferably located at a front portion of the lower storage chamber 3, and each of the rack gears 611 and 621 is preferably configured to be maximally extended.

[0179] That is, as each of the opposite pinions 410 is located close to a front end of the lower storage chamber 3 and the rack gears 611 and 621 extend, an opening distance of the storage room 220 may increase.

[0180] However, in consideration that the bottom surface of the storage room 220 is configured to be shorter in length from front to rear than an open upper surface of the storage room 220, there is a limitation in extending the rack gears 611 and 621.

[0181] Accordingly, according to the embodiment of the present invention, the rack gear assembly 600 is configured to extend such that the opening distance of the storage room 220 increases.

[0182] That is, although a length between the front to rear of the storage room 220 is short, the rack gear assembly 600 extends such that the storage room 220 is opened farther.

[0183] To this end, in the embodiment of the present invention, there are provided a first rack member 610, a second rack member 620, and a confining module 670 moved forward sequentially while the rack gear assembly 600 moves forward.

[0184] The rack gear assemblies 600 will be described in detail by each configuration thereof hereinbelow referring to FIGS. 13 to 21.

[0185] In this case, FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention from an upper portion thereof; FIG. 14 is an enlarged view of an "A" portion of FIG. 13; FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention from the lower portion thereof; FIG. 16 is an enlarged view of a "B" portion of FIG. 15; FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the rack gear assembly upside down to illustrate a structure of a lower surface of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 18 is an enlarged view of a "C" portion of FIG. 17; FIG. 19 is an enlarged view of a "D" portion of FIG. 17; FIG. 20 is a bottom view illustrating a structure of the lower surface of the rack gear assembly of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention; and FIG. 21 is an enlarged view of an "E" portion of FIG. 20.

[0186] First, the first rack member 610 is configured to allow the storage room 220 to be moved forward and backward by rotation of the pinion 410, wherein the first rack member 610 includes the rack gear 611.

[0187] The first rack member 610 is configured to be fixed to the storage room 220 while an upper surface of the first rack member 610 is in close contact with a lower surface of the storage room 220. In this case, a plurality of coupling holes 612 are provided in the first rack member 610 such that the first rack member 610 is screwed to the storage room 220.

[0188] In addition, the first rack member 610 includes a movement guiding groove 613 provided in the lower surface thereof by being recessed therefrom, the movement guiding groove supporting a sliding movement of the second rack member 620 while the second rack member 620 is received in the movement guiding groove 613.

[0189] The movement guiding groove 613 is configured to be recessed from a front end portion of the first rack member 610 and to be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member 610. That is, the second rack member 620 received in the movement guiding groove 613 may be exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove 613.

[0190] In addition, the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 is provided at any one side of the movement guiding groove 613 (an opposing direction side of each of the opposite rack gear assemblies) in a longitudinal direction of the first rack member 610.

[0191] Particularly, the rack gear 611 is formed to a portion located at a further front side compared to the movement guiding groove 613.

[0192] Meanwhile, the first rack member 610 is further provided with a first rack cover 614.

[0193] In this case, an inner portion of the movement guiding groove 613 provided in the first rack member 610 is configured to be open upward and downward. Accordingly, the movement guiding groove 613 is configured to allow a holder 672 and a locking member 673 of the confining module 670, which will be described later, to pass therethrough. The first rack cover 614 is combined with the first rack member 610 to cover the upper surface of the first rack member 610, wherein a lower surface of the first rack cover 614 is configured to cover the open portion of the movement guiding groove 613 provided in the first rack member 610 and to constitute an upper surface of the movement guiding groove 613.

[0194] Preferably, the first rack cover 614 is provided to be a metal plate so as to reinforce an insufficient rigidity of the first rack member 610.

[0195] In addition, a lower surface (an upper surface of an inner part of the movement guiding groove) of the first rack cover 614 includes receiving grooves 614a and 614b provided thereon, wherein the holder 672 and the locking member 673 of the confining module 670, which will be described later, are received into the receiving grooves 614a and 614b, respectively.

[0196] The receiving grooves 614a and 614b include a first receiving groove 614a receiving the holder 672 and a second receiving groove 614b receiving the locking member 673. The two receiving grooves 614a and 614b are configured to be spaced apart from each other along a moving direction of the first rack member 610. Particularly, a distance defined between a rear surface of the first receiving groove 614a and a rear surface of the second receiving groove 614b is still longer than a distance defined between a rear surface of the holder 672 and a rear surface of the locking member 673.

[0197] That is, after the holder 672 is first received into the first receiving groove 614a, the locking member 673 is received into the second receiving groove 614b.

[0198] Of course, unlike the aforementioned embodiment, the first rack cover 614 and the first rack member 610 may be provided as a single body by injection molding.

[0199] However, when the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are formed as the single body, injection molding, which is difficult to be performed, is required. That is, since a recessed shape or direction of each portion of the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 may be different, injection molding is actually avoided.

[0200] Accordingly, the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are preferably manufactured independently of each other as in the embodiment, and then are combined with each other.

[0201] Next, the second rack member 620 is a part provided to move the storage room 220 forward and backward in cooperation with the first rack member 610.

[0202] When the first rack member 610 moves forward by a predetermined distance while the second rack member 620 is positioned to be received into the movement guiding groove 613 of the first rack member 610, the second rack member 620 is moved forward by being pulled by the first rack member 610 and receives a rotational force of the pinion 410. Subsequently, the second rack member 620 is moved forward by the rotational force of the pinion 410. Accordingly, although the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 moves away from the pinion 410, the first rack member 610 is further extended.

[0203] In this case, the first rack member 610 is configured to pull and move the second rack member 620 in cooperation with a linkage part 680.

[0204] The linkage part 680 includes a linkage protrusion 681 (See FIG 15) provided on a lower surface (the upper surface of the inner part of the movement guiding groove) of the first rack cover 614, which will be described later, and a linkage step 682 (See FIG. 13) provided on an upper surface of the second rack member 620. When the first rack member 610 moves forward by a predetermined distance, the linkage protrusion 681 and the linkage step 682 are configured to collide with each other and move the second rack member 620 forward. This is illustrated in FIGS. 26 and 28.

[0205] Although not shown, the linkage protrusion 681 may be provided in the first rack member 610. In addition, although not shown, the linkage protrusion 681 may be provided on the upper surface of the second rack member 620 and the linkage step 682 may be provided on a lower surface of the first rack member 610.

[0206] Furthermore, while the second rack member 620 is completely received into the movement guiding groove 613 of the first rack member 610, a distance defined between the linkage step 682 and the linkage protrusion 681 is a distance set such that the first rack member 610 moves forward without influencing the second rack member 620, and the set distance is preferably determined in consideration of a size of the storage room 220 or the entire opening distance of the storage room 220.

[0207] In addition, the rack gear 621 is provided in the second rack member 620. The rack gear 621 is provided to be positioned in parallel with the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 at a side portion thereof, wherein a front end of the rack gear 621 is provided to be positioned at a rear side compared to a front end of the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610, and a rear end of the rack gear 621 is configured to extend to a further rear side compared to a rear end of the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610.

[0208] Particularly, the rack gears 611 and 621 of the first rack member 610 and the second rack member 620 are configured to efficiently receive the driving force generated by the pinion 410. That is, the pinion 410 is configured to have a width of a size of the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 and the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 overlapped together such that each of the rack gears 611 and 621 accurately receives the driving force caused by the pinion 410.

[0209] In addition, a motion groove 622 is formed to be recessed in a lower surface of a front end of the second rack member 620. The motion groove 622 provides a moving space allowing a stopper member 671 of the confining module 670, which will be described later, to move forward and backward while the stopper member 671 is mounted in the motion groove 622 by being received thereinto.

[0210] In addition, a plurality of through holes 622a and 622b are provided in the motion groove 622 by being formed through an upper part thereof. In this case, the through holes 622a and 622b include a first through hole 622a through which the holder 672 of the confining module 670, which will be described later, passes and a second through hole 622b, through which the locking member 673 passes.

[0211] Particularly, the second through hole 622b is formed to be a longitudinal hole in forward and backward directions such that the locking member 673 moves forward and backward.

[0212] In addition, a second rack cover 624 is provided on a lower surface of the second rack member 620. That is, the second rack cover 624 is configured to cover the lower surface of the second rack member 620.

[0213] The second rack cover 624 functions to prevent the stopper member 671 mounted to the motion groove 622 of the second rack member 620 from deviating to the outside.

[0214] In addition, the second rack cover 624 is made of a metal plate and is provided to cover the lower surface of the second rack member 620. Accordingly, the second rack member 620 can be prevented from being deformed, e.g. twisting or bending. Of course, a partial open portion may exist in the second rack cover 624 to reduce weight thereof.

[0215] Particularly, a folded end 624a is configured to be folded on each of opposite side surfaces and a rear surface of the second rack cover 624 so as to cover a portion of each of the opposite side surfaces and the rear surface of the second rack member 620, thereby preventing twisting of the second rack member 620.

[0216] In addition, a stopper exposure hole 624b is provided at a front end portion of the second rack cover 624 and is configured to allow a portion of the stopper member 671, which will be described later, to be exposed therethrough.

[0217] Meanwhile, since the second rack member 620 is inclined forward due to weight of the storage room 220 when the second rack member 620 moves forward by being engaged with the pinion 410, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 may not be exactly engaged with the pinion 410 and the second rack member and the pinion may be spaced apart from each other.

[0218] Accordingly, in the embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a structure in which a rear end of the second rack member 620 is pressed downward such that the rack gear 621 of the second rack member is exactly engaged with the pinion 410 when the second rack member 620 is moved.

[0219] That is, a wing end 691 is provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member 620 by protruding to the outside (See FIGS. 13, 15, 17, and 18), and a blocking part 692 is provided on a bottom surface (an upper surface of the bottom) of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 to block an upward movement of each of the wing ends 691 (See FIGS. 21 to 23). Accordingly, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is moved while being properly engaged with the pinion 410. Of course, as illustrated in the drawings according to the embodiment, the blocking part 692 may be fixed to the cover plate 510 of the cable guide module 500 provided on the bottom surface of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3.

[0220] In addition, the blocking part 692 is made of a metal plate having a length ranging from a positioning portion of the pinion 410 to a rear side of the pinion 410, and is configured to be engaged with and fixed to a fixing step 3a (See FIG. 24) protruding from the bottom surface (or the upper surface of the cover plate) of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3.

[0221] Particularly, an upper surface of the wing end 691 is configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof, and a rear end of the blocking part 692 is configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a rear thereof (See FIG. 18). Due to such a structure, the wing end 691 is efficiently inserted into a lower part of the blocking part 692 during the forward movement of the second rack member 620.

[0222] Of course, since a front end of the blocking part 692 is configured to be gradually inclined upward or round toward a front thereof, the storage room 220 to which the rack gear assembly 600 is initially mounted is easily received in the lower storage chamber 3.

[0223] Next, the confining module 670 is a portion provided to confine the second rack member 620 until the first rack member 610 is completely extended.

[0224] Such a confining module 670 is configured to include the confining protrusion part 650, the stopper member 671, the holder 672, and the locking member 673.

[0225] Here, the confining protrusion part 650, an upper surface of which is closed and a lower surface of which is open, is provided at a front of the upper surface of the bottom 120 constituting the cabinet 100.

[0226] More particularly, the confining protrusion part 650 is installed in the protrusion passing hole 513 provided by being formed through the cover plate 510. Of course, when the cover plate 510 does not exist, the confining protrusion part 650 is installed on an upper surface of the bottom 120 of the cabinet 100.

[0227] The confining protrusion part 650 is installed to be elastically lifted in the protrusion passing hole 513 by an elastic member 651 for raising, and is configured to protrude to the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 from the protrusion passing hole 513 when the confining protrusion part 650 is not pressed. In this case, the elastic member 651 for raising is made of a coil spring, and an upper end of the elastic member 651 for raising is provided to be combined with a spring engagement protrusion 652 in the confining protrusion part 650 by passing through a lower surface of the confining protrusion part 650. As illustrated in FIGS. 25, 27, 29, and 31.

[0228] In addition, a slope 653 is provided at a middle of an upper surface of the confining protrusion part 650, wherein the slope 653 gradually is inclined upward toward a rear of the confining protrusion part 650 from a front thereof. As the locking member 673 of the confining module 670 moves backward on the slope 653, the confining protrusion part 650 is configured to move downward.

[0229] In addition, a lower end of the confining protrusion part 650 is configured to be extended compared to the remaining portions thereof, and a confining holder 654 is provided on an outer surface of an upper side of the confining protrusion part 650 so as to block the extended portion of the confining protrusion part 650. The confining holder 654 is fixed to the cover plate 510 to prevent deviation of the confining protrusion part 650.

[0230] The confining protrusion part 650 is positioned behind the pinion 410, but is positioned to be maximally adjacent to the pinion 410.

[0231] In addition, the stopper member 671 is provided in the motion groove 622 of the second rack member 620 and functions to restrict a backward movement of the second rack member 620. In this case, a length of the stopper member 671 from a front of the stopper member 671 to a rear thereof is configured to be shorter than a length of the motion groove 622 from a front of the motion groove 622 to a rear thereof. Accordingly, the stopper member 671 is installed to move in forward and backward directions in the motion groove 622.

[0232] In addition, a confining hook 671a is provided on a lower surface of the front end of the stopper member 671 by protruding downward therefrom. In this case, when the drawer 200 is moved backward by a predetermined distance, the confining hook 671a hits the front surface of the confining protrusion part 650 such that the stopper member 671 and the first rack member 610 are not moved backward any longer.

[0233] In addition, a holder groove 671b is provided on an upper surface of the front of the stopper member 671, and a locking member through hole 671c is provided on a rear portion of the stopper member 671 by being vertically formed therethrough.

[0234] The holder groove 671b is configured to gradually incline downward toward a rear thereof. Accordingly, when the holder 672 received into the holder groove 671b moves forward, the holder 672 can efficiently move away from the holder groove 671b.

[0235] In addition, the holder 672 is a part provided to restrict forward and backward movements of the stopper member 671.

[0236] A lower end of the holder 672 is received into the holder groove 671b of the stopper member 671, and an upper end of the holder 672 is provided to pass through the first through hole 622a of the second rack member. When the first rack member 610 moves forward by a predetermined distance and pulls the second rack member 620, the holder 672 is configured to escape from the holder groove 671b while moving forward together with the second rack member 620 and to be received into the first receiving groove 614a of the first rack cover 614.

[0237] In addition, each of a front upper edge of the holder 672 and a front lower edge thereof is configured to be inclined. In this case, the inclination of the front lower edge of the holder 672 is configured to be the same as inclination of the holder groove 671b. Accordingly, the holder 672 can efficiently escape from the holder groove 671b.

[0238] Furthermore, the holder 672 includes a cut groove 672a provided in an upper surface thereof by being cut in forward and backward directions, and an insert protrusion 614c received into the cut groove 672a is provided on a lower surface of the first rack cover 614 facing the upper surface of the holder 672, wherein the insert protrusion is provided from a front end of the first rack cover 614 to an inner part of the first receiving groove 614a. That is, due to a structure of each of the cut groove 672a and the insert protrusion 614c, while the first rack member 610 moves, leftward and rightward movements of the holder 672 are prevented such that the insert protrusion is accurately received into the first receiving groove 614a. In this case, the cut groove 672a and the insert protrusion 614c may be provided in plural.

[0239] In addition, the locking member 673 is positioned at a rear of the confining protrusion part 650 and held thereby until the first rack member 610 is moved forward by a predetermined distance and accordingly, prevents the forward movement of the second rack member 620.

[0240] While the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624 move together with the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 due to the forward movement of the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 by the predetermined distance, the locking member 673 moves upward and is received in the second receiving groove 614b of the first rack cover 614 positioned to correspond to the upper part thereof. Accordingly, the locking member 673 confined by the confining protrusion part 650 is released.

[0241] To this end, an extending step 673a is provided at an upper end of the locking member 673 by extending to opposite sides thereof, and a lifting guide step 623 (See FIG. 14) formed to be round (or inclined) is provided at each of opposite sides of the second through hole 622b of an upper surface of the front end of the second rack member 620 such that the extending step 673a is lifted while the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are moved forward by a predetermined distance and move together with the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624.

[0242] That is, when the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are moved forward by a predetermined distance and move together with the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624, the lifting guide step 623 provided in the second rack member 620 allows the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 to be lifted. Accordingly, the locking member 673 moves upward to a height at which the locking member 673 does not hit the confining protrusion part 650.

[0243] The lifting guide step 623 is configured to be gradually inclined or round upward toward a rear thereof. Particularly, the lifting guide step 623 is preferably configured to gradually incline upward toward a rear of the second through hole 622b from a middle portion of each of opposite sides thereof. That is, when the locking member 673 is positioned at the front of the second through hole 622b, the locking member 673 is not influenced by the lifting guide step 623. However, as the locking member 673 is moved to the rear of the second through hole 622b by a forward movement of the second rack member 620, the locking member 673 is influenced by the lifting guide step 623 and is gradually moved upward.

[0244] Of course, the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 is also preferably configured to be round or inclined as the lifting guide step 623.

[0245] In addition, a lower surface of the locking member 673 is configured to gradually incline upward toward a rear thereof. Inclination of the lower surface of the locking member 673 is configured to be the same as inclination of the slope 653 provided at the middle of the upper surface of the confining protrusion part 650.

[0246] Meanwhile, the locking member 673 of the confining module 670 according to the structure of the embodiment described above is required to allow a state of the extending step 673a thereof climbing on the lifting guide step 623 to be maintained when the second rack member 620 is in a state of moving in cooperation with the first rack member 610.

[0247] That is, when the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 does not maintain the state of climbing on the lifting guide step 623 and slides downward on the lifting guide step 623 forward along inclination thereof, the first rack member 610 moves backward from the second rack member 620 and the drawer 200 is closed. Accordingly, inconvenience or accidents may be caused.

[0248] Accordingly, in the embodiment of the present invention, a confining member 693 is provided to allow a confined state of the locking member 673 to be maintained at an upward moving state of the locking member 673 until the second rack member 620 is completely moved backward.

[0249] The confining member 693 is positioned between a wall surface of a moving direction side of the stopper member 671 and the motion groove 622 opposed thereto to confine the stopper member 671 such that the stopper member maintains a state thereof positioned at a rear side of an inner part of the motion groove 622. Accordingly, a forward movement of the locking member 673 is also prevented by the confined stopper member 671, so that a state of the extending step 673a climbing on the lifting guide step 623 is maintained.

[0250] In this case, the confining member 693 is provided as a coil spring, a first end of the confining member being connected to a rear surface of the stopper member 671 and a second end thereof being connected to a rear side of the motion groove 622 of the second rack member 620. This is illustrated in FIGS. 26 to 31.

[0251] Hereinbelow, operation of the refrigerator according to the embodiment of the present invention will be described referring to FIGS. 26 to 32.

[0252] First, when the drawer 200 is not additionally manipulated, the drawer 200 maintains a closed state thereof. This is shown in FIGS. 26 and 27.

[0253] In the closed state, when an opening manipulation of the drawer 200 is performed due to needs of a user, power is supplied to the driving part 400 and the driving motor 420 operates.

[0254] In this case, the opening manipulation of the drawer 200 is performed by manipulation of a button 6 (a touching or pressing type) or by a control program detecting proximity of a user.

[0255] In addition, when the driving motor 420 is operated by the manipulation, the opposite pinions 410 are simultaneously rotated. Accordingly, while the rack gears 611 and 621 of the opposite rack gear assemblies 600 engaged with the opposite pinions 410 are operated, the drawer 200 is moved forward.

[0256] More particularly, after the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are first moved forward while operating simultaneously, the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624 are moved forward.

[0257] In this case, while the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are moved forward while operating simultaneously, the locking member 673 maintains a state confined by the confining protrusion part 650. Accordingly, the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624 maintain initial positions thereof.

[0258] Furthermore, when the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 614 are moved forward by a preset first distance and the linkage protrusion 681 comes into contact with the linkage step 682, the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624 also move forward together with the first rack member 610 from the contact time at which the linkage protrusion 681 comes into contact with the linkage step 682. This is shown in FIGS. 28 and 29.

[0259] However, in this case, since the locking member 673 is in the state confined by the confining protrusion part 650, the stopper member 671 through which the locking member 673 passes maintains an initial position thereof, but the second rack member 620 moves forward. In this process, as the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 gradually climbs on the lifting guide step 623 provided in the second rack member 620, the locking member 673 moves upward and moves away from the confining protrusion part 650. This is shown in FIGS. 30 and 31.

[0260] Next, while the stopper member 671 moves forward together with the second rack member 620 with the stopper member 671 being in collision with an inner rear surface of the motion groove 622, the stopper member 671 passes the confining protrusion part 650.

[0261] Subsequently, while the second rack member 620 and the second rack cover 624 move following the first rack member 610 and the first rack cover 620, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is engaged with the pinion 410 immediately before the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 moves away from the pinion 410, and at the same time when the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 moves away from the pinion 410 due to the rotation of the pinion 410, only the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 moves by being engaged with the pinion 410 so as to further move the drawer 200 forward. This is shown in FIG. 32.

[0262] In addition, when the movement of the second rack member 620, which is described above, is completed, the storage room 220 of the drawer 200 is at a maximum open state. When such a maximum open state of the storage room 220 is detected (for example, detection by the open/close sensing part), the lift module 300 operates and moves upward the container 240 in the storage room 220.

[0263] Accordingly, a user can efficiently perform taking out the container 240 or items stored in the container 240, or storing items in the container 240.

[0264] Meanwhile, when a closing manipulation of the drawer 200 starts after the use of the drawer 200 by a user is completed, the driving motor 420 constituting the driving part 400 operates and the pinion 410 rotates counterclockwise. Accordingly, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 engaged with the pinion 410 operates and moves the second rack member 620 backward.

[0265] In this case, since the first rack member 610 is pulled by the second rack member 620 due to the linkage part 680, the first rack member 610 moves backward together with the second rack member 620.

[0266] Next, when the front end of the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is positioned to be engaged with the pinion 410, the rear end of the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 is also positioned to be engaged with the pinion 410. Subsequently, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 moves away from the pinion 410, and only the first rack member 610 is moved backward by the rack gear 611 thereof.

[0267] Particularly, as described above, immediately before the second rack member 620 completely moves backward, the confining hook 671a of the stopper member 671 is blocked by the confining protrusion part 650 and does not move backward any longer. In spite of the stopper member 671, which is blocked, as the second rack member 620 additionally moves by a distance by which the stopper member 671 is provided to move in the motion groove 622, the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 is removed from the lifting guide step 623 and the locking member 673 moves downward.

[0268] Next, the second rack member 620 is also prevented from moving further backward by the stopper member 671, and the confining protrusion part 650 is positioned between the confining hook 671a of the stopper member 671 and the locking member 673 and confines the second rack member 620.

[0269] Accordingly, while only the first rack member 610 is additionally moved backward, the first rack member 610 is restored to an initial position thereof (a position at which the storage room is completely received). When completion of such a restoring movement is detected, the operation of the driving motor stops and the closing movement of the drawer stops.

[0270] Meanwhile, when the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is moved by being engaged with the pinion 410 while the opening or closing of the drawer 200 due to the above-described movement is performed, the wing end 691 provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member 620 is prevented from being moved upward while passing a lower part of the blocking plate 692 positioned on a bottom of the lower storage chamber 3.

[0271] Accordingly, although the first rack member 610 is bent downward by weight of the storage room 220, engagement of the second rack member 620 with the pinion 410 is prevented from being released due to a rear end of the second rack member 620 moved upward.

[0272] In addition, while the second rack member 620 is moved forward or when the second rack member 620 is completely moved forward, a state of the stopper member 671 positioned at a rear side of an inner part of the motion groove 622 is maintained by the confining member 693. Accordingly, the locking member 673 is also prevented from being moved forward, and a state of the extending step 673a climbing on the lifting guide step 623 is maintained.

[0273] That is, although impact or shaking occurs, the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 is prevented from deviating from the lifting guide step 623. Accordingly, unwanted backward movement of the first rack member 610 is prevented.

[0274] Accordingly, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, there is provided the rack gear assembly 600 configured to extend sequentially such that the storage room 220 constituting the drawer 200 is completely opened.

[0275] Particularly, the storage room 220 is configured to be opened and closed by being guided by a guide rail 230 provided at opposite sides thereof, and a lower part of the storage room is moved while being supported by the rack gear assembly 600. Accordingly, although the storage room is heavy, operation malfunction of the storage room 220 is prevented.

[0276] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the first rack member 610 of the rack gear assembly 600 is fixed to a lower surface of the storage room, and a second rack member 620 of the rack gear assembly 600 is provided to slidably move in the first rack member 610. Accordingly, a width of the rack gear assembly 600 is minimized.

[0277] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the linkage part 680 provided at an opposing portion of the first rack member 610 and the second rack member 620 to allow the second rack member 620 to move forward in cooperation with the first rack member when the first rack member 610 is moved forward by a predetermined distance.

[0278] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the movement guiding groove 613 is configured to be formed through a rear surface of the first rack member 610 from a front end portion of a lower surface of the first rack member 610 such that the second rack member is exposed to the rear of the movement guiding groove 613. Accordingly, the second rack member is stably moved.

[0279] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the rack gear 611 of the first rack member 610 and the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is provided to be sequentially engaged with the pinion 410. Accordingly, exact sequential movement of each rack member is performed

[0280] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the wing end 691 is provided at each of opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member 620 by protruding to the outside, and the blocking part 692 is provided on a bottom surface of the inner part of the lower storage chamber 3 to block the upward movement of each of the wing ends 691. Accordingly, the rack gear 621 of the second rack member 620 is prevented from deviating from the pinion 410.

[0281] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the blocking part 692 is made of a metal plate having a length ranging from a positioning portion of the pinion 410 to a rear side of the pinion 410. Accordingly, the blocking part stably supports each of the wing ends 691.

[0282] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, each of the wing ends 691 is configured to be gradually inclined upward or rounded backward, and a rear end of the blocking part 692 is configured to be gradually inclined upward or rounded backward. Accordingly, each of the wing ends 691 is efficiently positioned in the lower part of the blocking part 692.

[0283] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining module 670 is configured to include the confining protrusion part 650 and the locking member 673. Accordingly, the second rack member is not moved until the first rack member 610 is moved forward by a predetermined distance.

[0284] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, while the second rack member 620 is moved forward, the locking member 673 efficiently escapes from the confining protrusion part 650 due to the lifting guide step 623 provided in the second rack member and the extending step 673a provided in the locking member 673.

[0285] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack member 620 is moved backward only to a predetermined position since the stopper member 671 is provided.

[0286] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the holder 672 is provided and confines the stopper member 671 until the locking member 673 escapes from the confining protrusion part 650.

[0287] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the holder 672 is configured to be exposed to an upper part of the second rack member 620 by passing therethrough. Accordingly, the holder moves away from the stopper member 671 at the same time when the second rack member 620 is moved.

[0288] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, since a distance defined between a rear surface of the first receiving groove 614a and a rear surface of the second receiving groove 614b is longer than a distance defined between a rear surface of the holder 672 and a rear surface of the locking member 673, the holder 672 and the locking member 673 are sequentially operated.

[0289] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, an upper surface of the first rack member 610 is replaced with the first rack cover 614 and accordingly, manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0290] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack member 620 properly follows the first rack member 610 due to provision of the linkage part 680.

[0291] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the stopper member 671 is provided to move forward and backward in the second rack member 620. Accordingly, the extending step 673a of the locking member 673 properly climbs on the lifting guide step 623.

[0292] Additionally, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining member 693 is provided and accordingly, an unwanted backward movement of the first rack member is prevented.

[0293] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the confining member 693 is provided as the coil spring and thus manufacturing thereof is easy.

[0294] Furthermore, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, a backward moving distance of the second rack member 620 is confined by the confining hook 671a of the stopper member 671.

[0295] In addition, according to the refrigerator of the present invention, the second rack cover 624 made of a metal plate is provided. Accordingly, twisting or deformation of the second rack member 620 is prevented.


Claims

1. A refrigerator comprising:

a cabinet (100) having a storage chamber (3);

a drawer (200) provided in the storage chamber (3) and having a front panel (210) for opening and closing the storage chamber (3);

a driving part (400) installed in the storage chamber (3), the driving part (400) including a pinion (410); and

a rack gear assembly (600) for moving the drawer (200) into and out of the storage chamber (3), the rack gear assembly (600) including:

a first rack member (610) mounted on the drawer (200) and including a first rack gear (611) configured to be engaged with the pinion (410);

a second rack member (620) slidably provided on the first rack member (610) and including a second rack gear (621) configured to be engaged with the pinion (410);

a confining module (670) provided at the second rack member (620) and configured to prevent an outward movement of the second rack member (620) until the first rack member (610) is moved outward by a predetermined distance; and

a linkage part (680) for coupling the first rack member (610) and the second rack member (620) when the first rack member (610) is moved outward by the predetermined distance.


 
2. The refrigerator of claim 1, wherein the first rack member includes a movement guiding groove (613) configured to slidably accommodate the second rack member (620) therein.
 
3. The refrigerator of claim 1 or 2, wherein the linkage part (680) includes a linkage protrusion (681) coupled to one of the drawer (200) and the second rack (620) and a linkage step (682) coupled to the other of the drawer (200) and the second rack (620), the linkage step (682) being configured to engage with the linkage protrusion (681), when the first rack member (610) is moved outward by the predetermined distance, in order to pull the second rack member (620) outward.
 
4. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein in a state where the drawer (200) is fully inserted in the storage space (3), only the first rack gear (611) is engaged with the pinion (410); and/or
wherein until the first rack member (610) is moved outward by the predetermined distance, only the first rack gear (611) is engaged with the pinion (410); and/or
wherein when the first rack member (610) is moved outward by the predetermined distance, the second rack gear (611) becomes engaged with the pinion (410); and/or
wherein when the first rack member (610) is moved outward by more than the predetermined distance, only the second rack gear (611) is engaged with the pinion (410).
 
5. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein in the fully inserted state of the drawer (200), the second rack gear (621) is positioned rearward of the pinion and is confined by the confining module (670).
 
6. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first rack gear (611) and the second rack gear (621) are positioned in parallel and adjacent to each other and the pinion (410) has a width corresponding to a sum of the widths of the first rack gear (611) and the second rack gear (621).
 
7. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the confining module (670) includes:

a confining protrusion part (650) mounted on an inner surface of the storage chamber (3) to protrude therefrom, the confining protrusion part (650) facing the second rack member (620); and

a locking member (673) provided in a through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620) and being movable between an engaging position, at which the locking member (673) is engaged with the confining protrusion part (650) for preventing an outward movement of the second rack member (620), and a releasing position, at which the locking member (673) is released from the confining protrusion part (650) for allowing an outward movement of the second rack member (620).


 
8. The refrigerator of claim 7, wherein the through hole (622b) is longer than the locking member (673) in the movement direction of the drawer (200),
lifting guide steps (623) are provided on the second rack member at opposite sides of the through hole (622b), the lifting guide steps (623) being inclined with respect to a movement direction of the drawer (200), and
an end of the locking member (673) passes through the through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620) and has an extending step (673a) extending from opposite sides from the locking member (673), the extending step (673a) being guided by the lifting guide steps (623) when the locking member (673) moves from the engaging position to the releasing position, such that the locking member (673) is moved away from the confining protrusion part (650).
 
9. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims,
wherein the second rack member (620) includes a motion groove (622) having a front end and a rear end,
wherein the confining module (670) further includes a stopper member (671) configured to move in the motion groove (622) between the front end and the rear end thereof, and an elastic confining member (693) provided between the stopper member (671) and the rear end of the motion groove (622) and being configured to pull the stopper member (671) towards the rear end of the motion groove (622) of the second rack member (620).
 
10. The refrigerator of claim 9, wherein the stopper member (671) further includes:

a locking member through hole (671c) overlapping the through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620), the locking member (673) passing through the through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620) and the locking member through hole (671c) of the stopper member (671), and

a holder groove (671b) in a surface of the stopper member (671) that faces the second rack member (620),

wherein a holder (672) is provided in a further through hole (622a) of the second rack member (620), a portion of the holder (672) being received in the holder groove (671b) of the stopper member (671) for confining a position of the stopper member (671) at the front end of the motion groove (622) until the first rack member (610) is moved forward by the predetermined distance.


 
11. The refrigerator of claim 10,
wherein in the movement guiding groove (613) of the first rack member (610), a first receiving groove (614a) and a second receiving groove (614b) are sequentially provided along a moving direction of the first rack member (610),
wherein when the first rack member (610) is moved forward by the predetermined distance, the first receiving groove (614a) of the first rack member (610) overlaps with the further through hole (622a) of the second rack member (620) and the second receiving groove (614b) of the first rack member (610) overlaps with the through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620).
 
12. The refrigerator of claim 11,
wherein when the first rack member (610) is moved forward by the predetermined distance, the holder (672) is pushed, by the stopper member (671) and the elastic confining member (693), out of the holder groove (671b) of second rack member (620) into the first receiving groove (614a) of first rack member (610) for coupling the first rack member (610) and second rack member (620) to each other and for releasing the confinement of the position of the stopper member (671), and the stopper member (671) is pulled by the elastic confining member (693) to the rear end of the motion groove (622), thereby pushing the locking member (673) in the through hole (622b) of the second rack member (620) to its releasing position allowing an outward movement of the second rack member (620).
 
13. The refrigerator of claim 11 or 12, wherein the predetermined distance corresponds to a distance between a front end of the first rack member (610) and a position of the first receiving groove (614a) of the first rack member (610).
 
14. The refrigerator according to any one of claims 7 to 13, wherein the stopper member (671) has a confining hook (671a) extending from the stopper member (671) in a direction away from the second rack member (620) to engage with the confining protrusion part (650) for confining a position of the stopper member (671) at the front end of the motion groove (622).
 
15. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein
a wing end (691) protrudes from opposite sides of a rear end of the second rack member (620), and
a blocking part (692) is provided on an inner surface of the storage chamber (3) to block a movement of the wing end (691) in a direction away from the inner surface.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description