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Title:
CATCH ASSEMBLY FOR RELEASABLY CONNECTING FLUID CONDUITS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/165375
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed herein are embodiments of a connector system for releasably connecting together tubes, for example medical tubing, and methods of making and using such a connector system, whereby the connector system includes a female coupler having a first passageway; a male coupler having a second passageway; and a catch assembly comprising a catch movably coupled to the female coupler, a catch-biasing member which biases the catch, and a follower responsive to a cam, whereby the catch is responsive to the follower and correspondingly, the catch assembly for releasably connecting fluid conduitscam.

Inventors:
CICCIONE, Paul, C. (4391 E. County Road 82, Wellington, CO, 80549, US)
COULSON, William, A. (224 Canyon Avenue, # 624Fort Collins, CO, 80521, US)
COULSON, Marcia (224 Canyon Avenue, # 624Fort Collins, CO, 80521, US)
Application Number:
US2018/021467
Publication Date:
September 13, 2018
Filing Date:
March 08, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WILMARC HOLDINGS, LLC (224 Canyon Avenue, #120Fort Collins, CO, 80521, US)
International Classes:
F16L39/00; A61M39/10; A61M39/24; F16L21/00; F16L29/00; F16L37/12; F16L55/07
Foreign References:
US20110127767A12011-06-02
US20150076815A12015-03-19
CA1084551A1980-08-26
US20170203089A12017-07-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILES, Craig, R. (Cr Miles P.c, 405 Mason Court Suite 11, Fort Collins CO, 80524, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
IV. CLAIMS

We claim:

1. A connector system for releasably connecting tubes, comprising:

a female coupler having a first passageway;

a male coupler having a second passageway; and

a catch assembly comprising:

a catch movably coupled to said female coupler;

a catch-biasing member which biases said catch; and

a follower responsive to a cam;

wherein said catch is responsive to said follower and correspondingly, said cam.

2. The connector system of claim 1, wherein said catch assembly comprises a one-piece construct.

3. The connector system of claim 2, wherein said catch, said catch-biasing member, and said follower are formed as said one-piece construct.

4. The connector system of claim 1, wherein said catch is movably coupled to said female coupler such that said catch is capable of:

inward movement toward a female coupler inner space defined by a female coupler inner surface of said female coupler; and

outward movement away from said female coupler inner space.

5. The connector system of claim 4, wherein said catch is movably coupled to said female coupler inner surface.

6. The connector system of claim 5, wherein said catch is movably disposed within a channel inset within said female coupler inner surface; and

wherein said channel communicates with said female couple inner space.

7. The connector system of claim 6, further comprising a catch-receiving element coupled to said male coupler;

wherein upon releasable matable axial coupling of said female and male couplers, said catch engages with said catch-receiving element to fix an axial position of said female coupler in relation to said male coupler, thereby achieving a connected condition of said connector system in which said first and second passageways dispose in fiuidic communication to provide a fluid flow path.

8. The connector system of claim 7, wherein said catch-receiving element comprises a retention groove disposed within a male coupler outer surface proximate said male coupler matable end.

9. The connector system of claim 8, wherein said retention groove comprises a circumferential retention groove extending around said male coupler outer surface proximate said male coupler matable end.

10. The connector system of claim 8, wherein upon releasable matable axial coupling of said female and male couplers, said retention groove aligns with said channel to allow said catch to move outwardly from said channel and inwardly toward said female coupler inner space for engagement with said retention groove to dispose said catch in an engaged condition to fix said axial position of said female coupler in relation to said male coupler.

11. The connector system of claim 10, wherein said catch is movably coupled to said female coupler such that said catch is capable of movement within in a plane which is generally orthogonal to a longitudinal axis of said female coupler.

12. The connector system of claim 11, wherein said catch is capable of vertical movement within said plane.

13. The connector system of claim 12, wherein upon releasable matable axial coupling of said female and male couplers, said retention groove, said channel, and said catch align in said plane to allow said catch to move outwardly from said channel and upwardly in said plane for engagement with said retention groove to dispose said catch in said engaged condition to fix said axial position of said female coupler in relation to said male coupler.

14. The connector system of claim 13, wherein said catch-biasing member normally biases said catch inwardly toward said female coupler inner space or upwardly in said plane.

15. The connector system of claim 14, wherein said catch-biasing member normally biases said catch toward said engaged condition.

16. The connector system of claim 14, wherein said catch-biasing member comprises a resiliently flexible member.

17. The connector system of claim 16, wherein said resiliently flexible member comprises a resiliently flexible arm outwardly extending from said catch;

wherein said resiliently flexible arm bears against a portion of said female coupler inner surface which defines said channel.

18. The connector system of claim 16, wherein said resiliently flexible member comprises a pair of said resiliently flexible arms outwardly extending from said catch in opposing directions.

19. The connector system of claim 1, wherein said cam is provided by a release element which is movably coupled to said female coupler.

20. The connector system of claim 19, wherein travel of said release element along a female coupler outer surface of said female coupler disengages said catch from said catch-receiving element to achieve a disconnected condition of said connector system.

21. The connector system of claim 20, wherein said travel comprises linear motion along said female coupler outer surface.

22. The connector system of claim 21, wherein said linear motion comprises sliding motion along said female coupler outer surface.

23. The connector system of claim 20, wherein said travel of said release element along said female coupler outer surface is achieved by the application of forces directed at an angle of between 0° to about ±45° in relation to said female coupler outer surface.

24. The connector system of claim 19, wherein longitudinal travel of said release element along a female coupler outer surface of said female coupler disengages said catch from said catch- receiving element to achieve a disconnected condition of said connector system.

25. The connector system of claim 24, wherein said longitudinal travel comprises sliding travel along said female coupler outer surface.

26. The connector system of claim 24, wherein said travel of said release element along said female coupler outer surface comprises only longitudinal travel along said female coupler outer surface between said female coupler first and second ends.

27. The connector system of claim 21, wherein said release element is configured to transform said linear motion along said female coupler outer surface into movement of said follower.

28. The connector system of claim 27, wherein said release element comprises a release element inner surface which provides a cam surface having a locking surface and an unlocking surface.

29. The connector system of claim 1, wherein catch assembly comprises an annular member. 30. The connector system of claim 29, wherein said annular member comprises a first portion which provides said catch and an opposing second portion which provides said follower.

31. The connector system of claim 30, wherein said catch-biasing member outwardly extends from said first portion of said annular member which provides said catch.

32. The connector system of claim 1, further comprising:

a first valve disposed within said female coupler, said first valve operable to interrupt fluid flow through said first passageway; and

a second valve disposed within said male coupler, said second valve operable to interrupt fluid flow through said second passageway.

33. The connector system of claim 32, wherein in a connected condition of said connector system, said female coupler urges said second valve toward a second valve open position and said male coupler urges said first valve toward a first valve open position to dispose said first and second passageways in fluidic communication to provide a fluid flow path.

34. The connector system of claim 33, further comprising:

a first valve-biasing member disposed outside of said first passageway, said first valve- biasing member operable to bias said first valve toward a first valve closed position; and

a second valve-biasing member disposed outside of said second passageway, said second valve-biasing member operable to bias said second valve toward a second valve closed position.

35. A method of making a connector system for releasably connecting tubes, comprising: providing a female coupler having a first passageway;

providing a male coupler having a second passageway; and

providing a catch assembly comprising:

a catch movably coupled to said female coupler;

a catch-biasing member which biases said catch; and

a follower responsive to a cam;

wherein said catch is responsive to said follower and correspondingly, said cam.

36. The method of claim 35, further comprising forming said catch, said catch-biasing member, and said follower as a one-piece construct.

37. The method of claim 35, further comprising movably coupling said catch to a female coupler inner surface of said female coupler.

38. The method of claim 37, further comprising movably disposing said catch within a channel inset within said female coupler inner surface.

39. The method of claim 35, further comprising coupling a catch-receiving element to said male coupler.

40. The method of claim 39, further comprising providing said catch-receiving element as a retention groove disposed within a male coupler outer surface proximate a male coupler matable end.

41. The method of claim 35, further comprising providing said catch-biasing member as a resiliently flexible member.

42. The method of claim 35, further comprising providing a release element which provides said cam.

43. The method of claim 42, further comprising movably coupling said release element to said female coupler.

44. The method of claim 35, further comprising providing said catch assembly configured as an annular member.

45. The method of claim 35, further comprising:

disposing a first valve within said female coupler, said first valve operable to interrupt fluid flow through said first passageway; and

disposing a second valve within said male coupler, said second valve operable to interrupt fluid flow through said second passageway.

46. The method of claim 45, further comprising:

disposing a first valve-biasing member outside of said first passageway, said first valve- biasing member operable to bias said first valve toward a first valve closed position; and

disposing a second valve-biasing member outside of said second passageway, said second valve-biasing member operable to bias said second valve toward a second valve closed position.

47. A method of using a connector system for releasably connecting tubes, comprising: obtaining said connector system comprising:

a female coupler having a first passageway;

a male coupler having a second passageway; and

a catch assembly comprising:

a catch movably coupled to said female coupler;

a catch-biasing member which biases said catch; and a follower responsive to a cam;

wherein said catch is responsive to said follower and correspondingly, said

coupling a first tube to said female coupler;

coupling a second tube to said male coupler; and

releasably coupling said female and male couplers to achieve a connected condition of said connector system in which said first and second passageways dispose in fluidic communication to provide a fluid flow path. 48. The method of claim 47, further comprising flowing fluid through said fluid flow path.

49. The method of claim 48, further comprising forcibly urging said cam to disengage said catch from a catch-receiving element coupled to said male coupler to achieve a disconnected condition of said connector system.

50. The method of claim 49, further comprising forcibly urging a release element which provides said cam to travel along a female coupler outer surface of said female coupler to disengage said catch from said catch-receiving element to achieve said disconnected condition of said connector system.

Description:
CATCH ASSEMBLY FOR RELEASABLY CONNECTING FLUID CONDUITS

This International Patent Cooperation Treaty Patent Application is a continuation of United States Non-Provisional Patent Application No. 15/912,280, filed March 5, 2018, which claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/468,800, filed March 8, 2017, each hereby incorporated by reference herein.

I. DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

A broad object of a particular embodiment of the invention can be to provide a connector system for releasably connecting together tubes, for example medical tubing, and methods of making and using such a connector system, whereby the connector system includes a female coupler having a first passageway; a male coupler having a second passageway; and a catch assembly comprising a catch movably coupled to the female coupler, a catch-biasing member which biases the catch, and a follower responsive to a cam, whereby the catch is responsive to the follower and correspondingly, the cam.

Naturally, further objects of the invention are disclosed throughout other areas of the specification, drawings, and claims.

II. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is an illustration of a method of using a particular embodiment of the connector system, whereby female and male couplers are releasably matably engaged to dispose in a connected condition. Figure 2A is a perspective view of a particular embodiment of the connector system, whereby female and male couplers are releasably matably engaged to dispose in a connected condition.

Figure 2B is a top view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A. Figure 2C is a bottom view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A.

Figure 2D is a first side view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A. Figure 2E is a second side view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A.

Figure 2F is a first end view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A. Figure 2G is a second end view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2A.

Figure 2H is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 2F.

Figure 3A is a perspective view of a particular embodiment of the connector system, whereby female and male couplers are in adjacent axial relation but are not releasably matably engaged, thus disposing in a disconnected condition.

Figure 3B is a top view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3A.

Figure 3C is a bottom view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3 A.

Figure 3D is a first side view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3 A.

Figure 3E is a second side view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3 A. Figure 3F is a first end view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3 A.

Figure 3G is a second end view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3 A.

Figure 3H is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3F.

Figure 31 is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3D. Figure 3 J is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 3D.

Figure 4A is a top view of a particular embodiment of the connector system, whereby female and male couplers are releasably matably engaged to dispose in a connected condition, and whereby the release element disposes in a first position.

Figure 4B is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 4A.

Figure 5A is a perspective view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 4A. Figure 5B is a perspective view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 4A.

Figure 5C is a first side view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 4A.

Figure 5D is a first end view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 4 A.

Figure 5E is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 5D.

Figure 6A is a top view of a particular embodiment of the connector system, whereby female and male couplers are in adjacent axial relation but are not releasably matably engaged, thus disposing in a disconnected condition, and whereby the release element disposes in a second position.

Figure 6B is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 6A.

Figure 7A is a perspective view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 6A.

Figure 7B is a perspective view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 6A. Figure 7C is a first side view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 6A.

Figure 7D is a first end view of isolated components of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 6A. Figure 7E is a cross-sectional view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 7D.

Figure 8A is an exploded first side view of isolated components of a particular embodiment of the connector system.

Figure 8B is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 8 A.

Figure 8C is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 8A.

Figure 8D is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 8A. Figure 8E is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 8A.

Figure 9A is an exploded first side view of a particular embodiment of the connector system.

Figure 9B is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 9A.

Figure 9C is a perspective view of the particular embodiment of the connector system shown in Figure 9A.

III. MODE(S) FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Now referring primarily to Figure 1, which illustrates a method of using a particular embodiment of a connector system (1) including an inventive catch assembly (2) for releasably connecting together tubes (3), such as medical tubing employed in a bio-medical environment. Advantageously, the connector system (1) can be relatively easily and securely connected, and yet relatively easily intentionally disconnected. Generally, the connector system (1) includes a female coupler (4) having a first passageway (5) and a male coupler (6) having a second passageway (7). Upon releasable matable axial (or longitudinal) coupling of the female and male couplers (4)(6) (or, stated more concisely, upon connection of the female and male couplers (4)(6)), a connected condition of the connector system (1) is achieved, disposing the first and second passageways (5)(7) in fluidic communication to provide a fluid flow path (9).

For the purposes of the present invention, a longitudinal direction can be considered generally parallel to the first passageway (5), the second passageway (7), and/or the fluid flow path (9). Now more specifically, to achieve the connected condition of the connector system (1), a male coupler matable end (10) of the male coupler (6) can be matably received within a female coupler inner space (11) of the female coupler (4), whereby the female coupler inner space (11) can be defined by a female coupler inner surface (12) proximate a female coupler matable end (13) (as shown in the example of Figure 3 A).

The connector system (1) further includes an inventive catch assembly (2) comprising a catch (14) movably coupled to the female coupler (4) and a catch-receiving element (15) coupled to the male coupler (6). Upon connection of the female and male couplers (4)(6), the catch (14) engages with the catch-receiving element (15) to fix an axial position of the female coupler (4) in relation to the male coupler (6), thereby achieving the connected condition of the connector system (1).

For the purposes of the present invention, the term "catch" means a restraint which, upon matable engagement with a catch-receiving element (15), can function to partially or completely restrain travel of an associated component, such as a female coupler (4).

For the purposes of the present invention, the term "catch-receiving element" means a restraint which, upon matable engagement with a catch (14), can function to partially or completely restrain travel of an associated component, such as a male coupler (6).

Now referring primarily to Figure 2H, Figure 3H, Figure 4B, Figure 5 A through Figure 5E, Figure 6B, Figure 7A through Figure 7E, and Figure 8A through Figure 9C, the catch assembly (2) can comprise a catch (14), a catch-biasing member (16) which can bias the catch (14), and a follower (17) which can be responsive to a cam (18). The catch (14) can be responsive to the follower (17) and correspondingly, the catch (14) can be responsive to the cam (18). For the purposes of the present invention, the term "cam" means a movable element in a mechanical linkage, whereby the cam (18) can have an irregular periphery and may be useful in transforming motion, for example transforming motion in a first direction into motion in a second direction. For the purposes of the present invention, the term "follower" means a movable element in a mechanical linkage, whereby movement of the follower (17) results from movement of the cam (18).

The catch assembly (2) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4) such that the catch (14) can move inwardly toward or into the female coupler inner space (11) as illustrated by the first arrow (19) shown in Figure 4B, or the catch (14) can move outwardly away from or out of the female coupler inner space (11) as illustrated by the second arrow (20) shown in Figure 6B.

Further, the catch assembly (2) can be movably coupled to the female coupler inner surface (12) which defines the female coupler inner space (11). As but one illustrative example, the catch (14) can be movably disposed within a channel (21) inset within the female coupler inner surface (12), whereby the channel (21) communicates with the female coupler inner space (11). When a majority of the catch (14) or the entirety of the catch (14) is received within the channel (21), the catch (14) can dispose outwardly and away from the female coupler inner space (11). Conversely, when the catch (14) moves inwardly toward or into the female coupler inner space (11), a majority of the catch (14) or the entirety of the catch (14) can dispose outside of the channel (21).

Now referring primarily to Figure 3A through Figure 3E, Figure 3H, and Figure 8A through Figure 9C, the catch-receiving element (15) can be configured as a retention groove (22) coupled to the male coupler matable end (10). For example, the retention groove (22) can be disposed within a male coupler outer surface (23) proximate the male coupler matable end (10).

As to particular embodiments, the retention groove (22) can be configured as a circumferential retention groove (22) extending around the male coupler outer surface (23) proximate the male coupler matable end (10).

Thus, upon matable reception of the male coupler matable end (10) within the female coupler inner space (11), the retention groove (22) can align with the channel (21) and the catch (14) can move outwardly from the channel (21) and inwardly toward the female coupler inner space (11) for engagement with the retention groove (22), thereby disposing the catch (14) in an engaged condition (24) to fix an axial position of the female coupler (4) in relation to the male coupler (6).

In contrast, the catch (14) can move outwardly from the female coupler inner space (11) and into the channel (21) to dispose the catch (14) in a disengaged condition (25) wherein the catch (14) is disengaged from the retention groove (22), allowing the female and male couplers (4)(6) to disconnect by axial movement away from one another.

Now referring primarily to Figure 2A and Figure 3 A, said another way, the catch assembly (2) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4) such that the catch (14) can move within a plane (26) which is generally orthogonal to (i) a longitudinal axis of said female coupler or (ii) the first passageway (5). For example, the catch (14) can move vertically within the plane (26); for the purposes of the present invention, the term "vertical" and derivatives thereof means positioned up and down rather than from side to side, whereby "vertical" is not intended to be limiting, particularly as to the position, orientation, or use of the invention, but instead, is intended to provide a directional reference for the depiction of the connector system (1) shown in the Figures to aid the reader's understanding of the present invention.

Following, upon matable reception of the male coupler matable end (10) within the female coupler inner space (11), the retention groove (22), the channel (21), and the catch (14) can align in the plane (26) to allow movement of the catch (14) outward from the channel (21) and upward in the plane (26) for engagement with the retention groove (22), thereby disposing the catch (14) in the engaged condition (24) to fix an axial position of the female coupler (4) in relation to the male coupler (6).

On the other hand, the catch (14) can move downwardly in the plane (26) and into the channel (21) to dispose the catch (14) in the disengaged condition (25) wherein the catch (14) is disengaged from the retention groove (22), allowing the female and male couplers (4)(6) to disconnect by axial movement away from one another.

The catch (14) can be normally biased toward the engaged condition (24) (or inwardly toward the female coupler inner space (11) or upwardly in the plane (26)) by a catch-biasing member (16), as shown in the examples of Figure 4 A through Figure 5E. Correspondingly, the catch (14) can be normally biased toward engagement with the retention groove (22). As but one illustrative example, the catch-biasing member (16) can be configured as a springing element (27), such as a resiliently flexible member (28) which following flexing, can return toward or to its original unflexed condition (29).

As to particular embodiments, the resiliently flexible member (28) can comprise one or more resiliently flexible arms (30) which extend outwardly (for example, radially outwardly) or downwardly (for example, radially downwardly) from the catch (14) and bear against the female coupler inner surface (12). For example, the resiliently flexible arm(s) (30) can bear against a portion of the female coupler inner surface (12) which defines the channel (21). Thus, the resiliently flexible arm(s) (30) can dispose within the channel (21) and further, can be coplanar with the catch (14) whereby both the catch (14) and the resiliently flexible arm(s) (30) move within the plane (26).

Hence, when the resiliently flexible member (28) disposes in the unflexed condition (29), which is the normal biased condition, the resiliently flexible member (28) biases the catch (14) toward the engaged condition (24) (or inwardly toward the female coupler inner space (11) or upwardly in the plane (26)).

Upon forcible urging, the resiliently flexible member (28) can be flexed toward a flexed condition (31) (as shown in the examples of Figure 6A through Figure 7E), which allows the catch (14) to move outwardly away from the female coupler inner space (11) or downwardly in the plane (26) to disengage from the catch-receiving element (15) and achieve a disconnected condition of the connector system (1).

As to particular embodiments, the catch -biasing member (16) can be configured as a living hinge.

As inward or upward movement of the catch (14) for engagement with the retention groove (22) can be facilitated, at least in part, by the catch-biasing member (16), movement of the catch (14) outward or downward to disengage the catch (14) from within the retention groove (22) can be facilitated, at least in part, by a release element (32) which can function as a cam (18) configured to actuate the follower (17) and correspondingly, the catch (14). The release element (32) is described in further detail in US Patent Application No. 15/410,636 and US Patent Application No. 15/447,033, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. The release element (32) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4), whereby travel of the release element (32) along or over a female coupler outer surface (66) disengages the catch (14) from the catch-receiving element (15) to achieve the disconnected condition of the connector system (1). For example, linear or sliding motion of the release element (32) along the female coupler outer surface (66) can be transformed into movement of the follower (17), whereby this movement of the follower (17) can forcibly urge the catch-biasing member (16) away from the normal unflexed condition (29) and toward the flexed condition (31) to allow the catch (14) to move outwardly away from the female coupler inner space (11) or downwardly in the plane (26) to disengage from the retention groove (22).

Thus, the follower (17) can be operably coupled to the catch-biasing member (16) and correspondingly, the catch (14). Additionally, the follower (17) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4) proximate the female coupler outer surface (66). For example, the follower (17) can be movably disposed within an opening (33) defined by the female coupler outer surface (66) (as shown in the example of Figure 9A), whereby the opening (33) can be sufficiently configured to allow movement of the follower (17) through the opening (33) and inward toward the female coupler inner space (11) or downward in the plane (26), or outward away from the female coupler inner space (11) or upward in the plane (26). Further, the follower (17) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4) beneath the release element (32). Now referring primarily to Figure 4B, Figure 5E, Figure 6B, and Figure 7E, a release element inner surface (34), which disposes proximate (or adjacent) the female coupler outer surface (66), can provide a cam surface (35) having a locking surface (36) and an unlocking surface (37), both of which can separately interact with or directly contact the follower (17) to result in movement of the catch (14). The unlocking surface (37) extends downwardly toward the female coupler outer surface

(66) a greater distance than the locking surface (36), thereby disposing the unlocking surface (37) closer to the female coupler outer surface (66) than the locking surface (36). Said another way, the locking surface (36) extends upwardly away from the female coupler outer surface (66) a greater distance than the unlocking surface (37), thereby disposing the locking surface (36) farther from the female coupler outer surface (66) than the unlocking surface (37).

Correspondingly, movement of the cam surface (35) over the follower (17) to align (or contact) the locking surface (36) with the follower (17) allows the catch (14) to be biased inwardly or upwardly by the catch-biasing member (16) toward engagement with the retention groove (22) to achieve the connected condition of the connector system (1). Conversely, movement of the cam surface (35) over the follower (17) to align (or contact) the unlocking surface (37) with the follower (17) biases the catch-biasing member (16) toward the flexed condition (31), accordingly biasing the catch (14) outwardly or downwardly and away from the retention groove (22), thereby permitting the catch (14) to disengage from the retention groove (22) to achieve the disengaged condition (25).

Now referring primarily to Figure 2H, Figure 3H, and Figure 4A through Figure 5E, a release element-biasing member (38), for example a resiliently compressible member (39), can bias the release element (32) toward a release element first position (40) when in a non- compressed condition (41), which is the normal biased condition. When in the release element first position (40), the locking surface (36) aligns with (or contacts) the follower (17) and correspondingly biases the catch (14) inwardly or upwardly and toward engagement with the retention groove (22) to achieve the connected condition of the connector system (1). Now referring primarily to Figure 6A through Figure 7E, upon forcible urging, the resiliently compressible member (39) can be compressed toward a compressed condition (42), disposing the release element (32) in a release element second position (43) in which the unlocking surface (37) aligns with (or contacts) the follower (17), biasing the catch-biasing member (16) toward the flexed condition (31), allowing the catch (17) to move outwardly away from the retention groove (22) to achieve the disconnected condition of the connector system (1).

As to particular embodiments, the catch (14), the catch-biasing member (16), and the follower (17) can be integrated to provide a catch-assembly (2) which (i) can be a one-piece construct or (ii) can be formed as a one-piece construct. Said another way, the catch (14), the catch-biasing member (16), and the follower (17) can be integrally formed, meaning connected together so as to make up a single complete piece or unit, or so as to work together as a single complete piece or unit, and so as to be incapable of being easily dismantled without destroying the integrity of the piece or unit.

As to particular embodiments, the catch assembly (2) can comprise an annular member (44), whereby a first portion (45) of the annular member (44) can provide the catch (14) and an opposing second portion (46) of the annular member (44) can provide the follower (17). As to this particular embodiment, the catch-biasing member (16) can extend outwardly from the first portion (45) of the annular member (44) which provides the catch (14). As to particular embodiments, the annular member (44) can be movably coupled to the female coupler (4) such that the catch (14) can move inwardly toward or into the female coupler inner space (11) as illustrated by the first arrow (19) shown in Figure 4B, or the catch (14) can move outwardly away from or out of the female coupler inner space (11) as illustrated by the second arrow (20) shown in Figure 6B.

Further, the annular member (44) can be movably coupled to the female coupler inner surface (12) which defines the female coupler inner space (11). As but one illustrative example, the annular member (44) can be movably disposed within the channel (21) inset within the female coupler inner surface (12). Thus, upon matable reception of the male coupler matable end (10) within the female coupler inner space (11), the male coupler matable end (10) can pass through an annular member opening defined by the annular member (44) to achieve the connected condition of the connector system (1); correspondingly, the fluid flow path (9) can pass through the annular member opening. First Valve

As to particular embodiments, the connector system (1) can further include at least one conduit (47)(48) and at least one valve (49)(50) operable to interrupt fluid flow through the conduit (47)(48).

Now referring primarily to Figure 2H and Figure 3H, the female coupler (4) can include a first conduit (47) defining a first passageway (5) (which as to particular embodiments, may include a fixed or removable filter) and a first valve (49) operable to interrupt fluid flow through the first passageway (5). The first valve (49) can be movable within a first valve seat (51) to sealably occlude a first port (52) in fluid communication with the first passageway (5), thereby providing a first passageway closed condition (53) in which fluid flow through the first port (52) and accordingly, through the first passageway (5), is interrupted.

The first valve (49) can be biased by a first valve-biasing member (54) which biases the first valve (49) toward a first valve closed position (55) in which the first valve (49) sealably occludes the first port (52), for example by sealably overlaying the first port (52), to provide the first passageway closed condition (53). The first valve (49) and the first valve-biasing member (54) are described in further detail in US Patent Application No. 15/410,636 and US Patent Application No. 15/447,033, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Second Valve Again referring primarily to Figure 2H and Figure 3H, the male coupler (6) can include a second conduit (48) defining a second passageway (7) (which as to particular embodiments, may include a fixed or removable filter) and a second valve (50) operable to interrupt fluid flow through the second passageway (7).

The second valve (50) can be movable within a second valve seat (56) to sealably occlude a second port (57) in fluid communication with the second passageway (7), thereby providing a second passageway closed condition (58) in which fluid flow through the second port (57) and accordingly, through the second passageway (7), is interrupted.

The second valve (50) can be biased by a second valve-biasing member (59) which biases the second valve (50) toward a second valve closed position (60) in which the second valve (50) sealably occludes the second port (57), for example by sealably overlaying the second port (57), to provide the second passageway closed condition (58).

The second valve (50) and the second valve-biasing member (59) are described in further detail in US Patent Application No. 15/410,636 and US Patent Application No. 15/447,033, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Tubing

Now referring primarily to Figure 1, as to particular embodiments, the connector system (1), as described above, can further include at least one tube (3) coupled to a connector system end (61)(62), which can be configured as a barb (63). Accordingly, the tube (3) can engage with the barb (63), for example via frictional engagement about the barb (63), to securely couple the tube (3) to the connector system (1). As to particular embodiments, a first tube (64) can be coupled to connector system first end (61) and a second tube (65) can be coupled to the connector system second end (62), wherein the connector system (1) functions to fiuidicly connect the first and second tubes (64)(65).

As to other particular embodiments, the connector system first and/or second ends (61)(62) can be configured as a luer lock fitting, a threaded fitting which can be threaded externally or internally, or any conventional or non-conventional end fitting which may be useful for coupling a tube (3) to a connector system end (61)(62).

As to other particular embodiments, the connector system first and/or second ends (61)(62) can be configured as a flange which may be useful for coupling a tube (3) to a connector system end (61)(62).

A method of making a particular embodiment of a connector system (1) for releasably connecting tubes (3) can include providing a female coupler (4) having a first passageway (5); providing a male coupler (6) having a second passageway (7); and providing a catch assembly (2) including a catch (14) movably coupled to the female coupler (4), a catch-biasing member (16) which biases the catch (14), and a follower (17) responsive to a cam (18); whereby the catch (14) is responsive to the follower (17) and correspondingly, the cam (18).

The method of making the connector system (1) can further include providing additional components of the connector system (1) as described above and in the claims.

Components of the connector system (1) can be formed from one or more of any of a numerous and wide variety of materials capable of providing a functional connector system (1). By way of illustrative example, the material can include or consist of: rubber, rubber-like material, plastic, plastic-like material, acrylic, polyamide, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride-based materials, silicone-based materials, or the like, or combinations thereof. Additional illustrative examples can include polymeric materials or resins, for example thermoplastics, such as acrylic, nylon, polybenzimidazole, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, polytetrafluoroethylene, or the like, or combinations thereof; thermosets, such as polyester fiberglass, polyurethanes, rubber, polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, urea-formaldehyde foam, melamine resin, epoxy resin, polyimides, cynate esters, polycyanurates, polyester resin, or the like, or combinations thereof; elastomers, such as natural polyisoprene, synthetic polyisoprene, polybutadiene, chloropene rubber, butyl rubber, styrene-butadiene rubber, nitrile rubber, ethylene propylene rubber, epichlorohydrin rubber, polyacrylic rubber, silicone rubber, fluorosilicone rubber, fluoroelastomers, perfluoroelastomers, polyether block amides, chlorosulfonated polyethylene, ethylene-vinyl acetate, thermal plastic elastomer (TPE), or the like, or combinations thereof. As to particular embodiments, one or more components of the connector system (1) can be formed from an antibacterial material(s). As to particular embodiments, one or more components of the connector system (1) can be formed entirety from non-metallic material(s).

Additionally, components of the connector system (1) can be produced from any of a wide variety of processes depending upon the application, such as press molding, injection molding, fabrication, machining, printing, additive printing, or the like, or combinations thereof, as one piece or assembled from a plurality of pieces into a component of the connector system (1).

As to particular embodiments, one or more components of the connector system (1) can be disposable or reusable, depending upon the application.

A method of using a particular embodiment of a connector system (1) for releasably connecting tubes (3) can include obtaining the connector system (1) as above described, coupling a first tube (64) to the female coupler (4); coupling a second tube (65) to the male coupler (6); and releasably coupling the female and male couplers (4)(6) to achieve the connected condition of the connector system (1).

As to particular embodiments, the method can further include flowing fluid through the fluid flow path (9).

As to particular embodiments, the method can further include forcibly urging the release element (32) to travel along the female coupler outer surface (66) to disengage the catch (14) from the catch-receiving element (15) to achieve the disconnected condition of the connector system (1). As can be easily understood from the foregoing, the basic concepts of the present invention may be embodied in a variety of ways. The invention involves numerous and varied embodiments of a connector system and methods for making and using such a connector system, including the best mode.

As such, the particular embodiments or elements of the invention disclosed by the description or shown in the figures or tables accompanying this application are not intended to be limiting, but rather exemplary of the numerous and varied embodiments generically encompassed by the invention or equivalents encompassed with respect to any particular element thereof. In addition, the specific description of a single embodiment or element of the invention may not explicitly describe all embodiments or elements possible; many alternatives are implicitly disclosed by the description and figures. It should be understood that each element of an apparatus or each step of a method may be described by an apparatus term or method term. Such terms can be substituted where desired to make explicit the implicitly broad coverage to which this invention is entitled. As but one example, it should be understood that all steps of a method may be disclosed as an action, a means for taking that action, or as an element which causes that action. Similarly, each element of an apparatus may be disclosed as the physical element or the action which that physical element facilitates. As but one example, the disclosure of a "connector" should be understood to encompass disclosure of the act of "connecting"— whether explicitly discussed or not— and, conversely, were there effectively disclosure of the act of "connecting", such a disclosure should be understood to encompass disclosure of a "connector" and even a "means for connecting". Such alternative terms for each element or step are to be understood to be explicitly included in the description.

In addition, as to each term used it should be understood that unless its utilization in this application is inconsistent with such interpretation, common dictionary definitions should be understood to be included in the description for each term as contained in the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, second edition, each definition hereby incorporated by reference.

All numeric values herein are assumed to be modified by the term "about", whether or not explicitly indicated. For the purposes of the present invention, ranges may be expressed as from "about" one particular value to "about" another particular value. When such a range is expressed, another embodiment includes from the one particular value to the other particular value. The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all the numeric values subsumed within that range. A numerical range of one to five includes for example the numeric values 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, 5, and so forth. It will be further understood that the endpoints of each of the ranges are significant both in relation to the other endpoint, and independently of the other endpoint. When a value is expressed as an approximation by use of the antecedent "about," it will be understood that the particular value forms another embodiment. The term "about" generally refers to a range of numeric values that one of skill in the art would consider equivalent to the recited numeric value or having the same function or result. Similarly, the antecedent "substantially" means largely, but not wholly, the same form, manner or degree and the particular element will have a range of configurations as a person of ordinary skill in the art would consider as having the same function or result. When a particular element is expressed as an approximation by use of the antecedent "substantially," it will be understood that the particular element forms another embodiment.

Moreover, for the purposes of the present invention, the term "a" or "an" entity refers to one or more of that entity unless otherwise limited. As such, the terms "a" or "an", "one or more" and "at least one" can be used interchangeably herein.

Further, for the purposes of the present invention, the term "coupled" or derivatives thereof can mean indirectly coupled, coupled, directly coupled, connected, directly connected, or integrated with, depending upon the embodiment.

Thus, the applicant(s) should be understood to claim at least: i) each of the connector systems herein disclosed and described, ii) the related methods disclosed and described, iii) similar, equivalent, and even implicit variations of each of these devices and methods, iv) those alternative embodiments which accomplish each of the functions shown, disclosed, or described, v) those alternative designs and methods which accomplish each of the functions shown as are implicit to accomplish that which is disclosed and described, vi) each feature, component, and step shown as separate and independent inventions, vii) the applications enhanced by the various systems or components disclosed, viii) the resulting products produced by such systems or components, ix) methods and apparatuses substantially as described hereinbefore and with reference to any of the accompanying examples, x) the various combinations and permutations of each of the previous elements disclosed. The background section of this patent application, if any, provides a statement of the field of endeavor to which the invention pertains. This section may also incorporate or contain paraphrasing of certain United States patents, patent applications, publications, or subject matter of the claimed invention useful in relating information, problems, or concerns about the state of technology to which the invention is drawn toward. It is not intended that any United States patent, patent application, publication, statement or other information cited or incorporated herein be interpreted, construed or deemed to be admitted as prior art with respect to the invention.

The claims set forth in this specification, if any, are hereby incorporated by reference as part of this description of the invention, and the applicant expressly reserves the right to use all of or a portion of such incorporated content of such claims as additional description to support any of or all of the claims or any element or component thereof, and the applicant further expressly reserves the right to move any portion of or all of the incorporated content of such claims or any element or component thereof from the description into the claims or vice-versa as necessary to define the matter for which protection is sought by this application or by any subsequent application or continuation, division, or continuation-in-part application thereof, or to obtain any benefit of, reduction in fees pursuant to, or to comply with the patent laws, rules, or regulations of any country or treaty, and such content incorporated by reference shall survive during the entire pendency of this application including any subsequent continuation, division, or continuation-in-part application thereof or any reissue or extension thereon.

Additionally, the claims set forth in this specification, if any, are further intended to describe the metes and bounds of a limited number of the preferred embodiments of the invention and are not to be construed as the broadest embodiment of the invention or a complete listing of embodiments of the invention that may be claimed. The applicant does not waive any right to develop further claims based upon the description set forth above as a part of any continuation, division, or continuation-in-part, or similar application.