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Title:
CONTAINER SEALING DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/070326
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid. The apparatus including a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source, a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus, a sealing element disposed within each of the plurality of containers, the sealing element configured to couple the container to the apparatus and automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus, a retaining mechanism including an adhesive disposed on each of the plurality of containers to position the sealing element in a neck of each of the plurality of containers.

Inventors:
KHUBANI, Ajit (79 Two Bridges RoadFairfield, NJ, 07004, US)
DOWD, Paul (79 Two Bridges RoadFairfield, NJ, 07004, US)
KELLY, Ryan (79 Two Bridges RoadFairfield, NJ, 07004, US)
Application Number:
US2018/041850
Publication Date:
April 11, 2019
Filing Date:
July 12, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TELEBRANDS CORP. (79 Two Bridges Road, Fairfield, NJ, 07004, US)
International Classes:
B65B7/02; A63H27/00; A63H27/10; B65B3/04; B65B3/17
Foreign References:
US20170121040A12017-05-04
US20170043270A12017-02-16
US20170240304A12017-08-24
US9051066B12015-06-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAN, Benjamin, Y. (Cooper & Dunham LLP, 30 Rockefeller Plaza 20th F, New York NY, 10112, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED:

1 . An apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid, the apparatus comprising:

a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source; a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus;

a sealing element disposed within each of the plurality of containers, the sealing element configured to couple the container to the apparatus and automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus; and,

a retaining mechanism including an adhesive disposed on each of the plurality of containers to position the sealing element in a neck of each of the plurality of containers.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the sealing element includes a valve.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the valve includes at least one of a channel and a sealing member, a reed valve, a duckbill valve, and a bullet valve.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the sealing member includes a flap.

5. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the sealing member includes a first wall of a slit and a second wall of the slit.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the plurality of containers includes balloons.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 , further comprising a mixing mechanism disposed in the flow path and configured to receive an additive and introduce the additive into the flow path.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 , further comprising an additive in at least one of the plurality of containers.

9. An apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid, the apparatus comprising:

a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source; a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus;

a plurality of conduits;

a valve within each of the plurality of containers, the valve including sealing members and a channel through which one of the plurality of conduits is received, the sealing members being configured to be maintained in an open position by the conduit received in the channel while coupled to the apparatus and to automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus; and,

an adhesive disposed on a surface of the valve, the adhesive configured to substantially prevent radial expansion of the container and position the valve within the neck of the container.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the valve includes at least one of a reed valve, a duckbill valve, and a bullet valve.

1 1 . The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the plurality of containers includes balloons.

12. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a mixing mechanism disposed in the flow path and configured to receive an additive and introduce the additive into the flow path.

13. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising an additive in at least one of the plurality of containers.

14. An apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid, the apparatus comprising:

a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source; a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus; and,

a sealing element configured to couple the container to the apparatus and automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus, wherein the sealing element is adhered within a neck of each of the plurality of containers using an adhesive.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein the sealing element includes a valve.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the valve includes a channel and a sealing member, a reed valve, a duckbill valve, and a bullet valve.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the sealing member includes a flap.

18. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the sealing member includes a first wall of a slit and a second wall of the slit.

19. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein the plurality of containers includes balloons.

20. The apparatus of claim 14, further comprising a mixing mechanism disposed in the flow path and configured to receive an additive and introduce the additive into the flow path.

21 . The apparatus of claim 14, further comprising an additive in at least one of the plurality of containers.

Description:
CONTAINER SEALING DEVICE

CROSS REFERENCE TO PRIOR APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 15/823,314, filed November 27, 2017, which is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. Application No. 15/722,930, filed on October 2, 2017, which is a continuation application of U.S. Application Serial No. 15/407,985, filed on January 17, 2017, which is a continuation-in- part application of U.S. Application Serial No. 15/359, 134, filed on November 22, 2016, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Application Serial No. 15/123,434, filed on September 2, 2016, which is a U.S. National Stage Application of International Application No. PCT/US16/18912, filed on February 22, 2016, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/182, 122, filed on June 19, 2015, U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/254,487, filed on November 12, 2015, and U.S. Application Serial No. 14/997,230, filed on January 15, 2016. U.S. Application Serial No. 15/359, 134, filed on November 22, 2016, is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. Application Serial No. 15/123,453, filed on September 2, 2016, which is a U.S. National Stage Application of International Application No. PCT/US16/18922, filed on February 22, 2016, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/182, 122, filed on June 19, 2015, and U.S. Application Serial No. 14/978,839, filed on December 22, 2015. These applications are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties. FIELD

[0002] The present application generally relates to devices, apparatus, systems and methods for filling containers with a fluid. Specifically, the present application relates to automatically filling multiple balloons with a fluid mixture.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Some containers, particularly fluid-inflatable containers such as balloons, can be difficult to fill with a fluid, especially when there is a need to fill multiple containers simultaneously and/or quickly. To make the filling of these containers easier and more efficient, various products are currently available that facilitate the filling of fluid-inflatable containers. These fluid-inflatable containers may be filled or inflated using various fluids, such as, e.g., liquids such as water, gases such as helium, or medications. Examples of fluid-inflatable containers include those used for recreational purposes, such as balloons.

[0004] Additionally, there may be times where it may be desirable to be able to introduce an additive, such as a dye or other soluble or insoluble material, to the fluid used to fill the fluid-inflatable containers. Nevertheless, it may be difficult, impossible, inefficient, or undesirable to first mix the fluid with the additive and subsequently fill the containers with the mixture. Further, many of the existing products may connect directly to a fluid source, such as a hose or faucet, thereby making it impracticable to pour a mixture to fill fluid-inflatable containers using such products. SUMMARY

[0005] Embodiments of the present invention can provide an apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid. The apparatus can include a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source, a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus, a sealing element disposed within each of the plurality of containers, the sealing element configured to couple the container to the apparatus and automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus, a retaining mechanism including an adhesive disposed on each of the plurality of containers to position the sealing element in a neck of each of the plurality of containers.

[0006] According to some embodiments, the sealing element can include valves. The valve can include a channel and a sealing member. The sealing member can include a flap and/or a first wall of a slit and a second wall of the slit. The valve can include at least one of a reed valve, a duckbill valve, and a bullet valve. According to certain exemplary embodiments, the plurality of containers can include balloons and/or the apparatus can be reusable.

[0007] Another embodiment of the present invention can provide an apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid. The apparatus can include a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source, flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus, a plurality of conduits, a valve within each of the plurality of containers, the valve including sealing members and a channel through which one of the plurality of conduits is received, the sealing members being configured to be maintained in an open position by the conduit received in the channel while coupled to the apparatus and to automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus, and an adhesive disposed on a surface of the valve, the adhesive configured to substantially prevent radial expansion of the container and position the valve within the neck of the container.

[0008] Another embodiment of the present invention can provide an apparatus for filling a plurality of containers with a fluid. The apparatus can include a connector configured to removably couple the apparatus to a fluid source, a flow path providing fluid communication between the fluid source and a plurality of containers coupled to the apparatus, and a sealing element configured to couple the container to the apparatus and automatically seal the container when the container is decoupled from the apparatus, wherein the sealing element is adhered within a neck of each of the plurality of containers using an adhesive.

[0009] According to some embodiments, the apparatus can include a mixing mechanism disposed in the flow path and configured to receive an additive and introduce the additive into the flow path.

[0010] According to some embodiments, the apparatus can include an additive in at least one of the plurality of containers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Figure 1 A is an illustration of an exemplary fluid filling apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention; [0012] Figure 1 B is an illustration of an exemplary fluid filling apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention;

[0013] Figures 2A-2C are illustrations of exemplary sealing elements according to embodiments of the present invention;

[0014] Figures 3A and 3B are a perspective views of an exemplary connector according to embodiments of the present invention;

[0015] Figure 4A is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary fluid filling apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention; and

[0016] Figure 4B is a top view of an exemplary fluid filling apparatus according to embodiments of the present invention.

[0017] Figure 5 is a flow diagram of an exemplary method according to embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] Embodiments of the present invention are generally directed to devices, apparatus, systems, and methods for filling containers with a fluid. Specifically, embodiments of the present invention provide an apparatus for filling multiple balloons at substantially the same time. Certain embodiments of the present invention facilitate introducing an additive to a fluid source to enable automatic filling of multiple containers in a substantially simultaneously manner with a fluid mixture. Although the embodiments of the present invention are primarily described with respect to dyes and fluid-inflatable containers, it is not limited thereto, and it should be noted that the apparatus and systems described herein may be used to fill any type of containers with any type of fluid and/or fluid mixture.

[0019] In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, Figure 1 A shows an exemplary fluid filling apparatus 100. As shown in Figure 1A, fluid filling apparatus 100 may include connector 1 10, conduits 130, containers 150, and sealing elements 140. In use, fluid filling apparatus 100 is coupled to a fluid source, and when the fluid source is activated, the fluid passes through connector 1 10, conduits 130 and into containers 150, thereby filling containers 150 with the fluid at substantially the same time. Optionally, connector 1 10 may include an additive which may mix with the fluid as the fluid is passing through connector 1 10 so that containers 150 are filled with a mixture of the fluid and the additive. The fluid used to fill containers 150 may include any type of fluid, such as, water and other liquids, as well as helium and other gases.

[0020] Figure 1 B shows another embodiment of the present invention. As shown in Figure 1 B, certain embodiments of the present invention provide a fluid filling apparatus 100 having conduits 130 which are arranged such that the distal end of conduits 130 (e.g. , the end of conduit 130 furthest from connector 1 10) are disposed at different distances from a first end 1 12 of connector 1 10. Accordingly, each distal end may be disposed at a respective distance from first end 1 12 of connector 1 10 and all the respective distances may be different. For example, as shown in Figure 1 B, conduits 130 and containers 150 may be arranged in a cascading spiraling arrangement, where the distal end of each conduit 130 is disposed at a different distance from first end 1 12 of connector 1 10. Although a cascading spiraling arrangement is shown in Figure 1 B, conduits 130 may take be arranged in any arrangement. For example, conduits 130 and containers 150 may be arranged in any arrangement or pattern in which the distal end of each conduit 130 is disposed at a different distance from first end 1 12 of connector 1 10. Alternatively, conduits 130 may be arranged in a sequential arrangement such as, e.g., a zig-zag pattern, a linear pattern, an arcing pattern, a shaped pattern (e.g., a star shape, a moon shape, a rectangle, a square, a circle, a triangle, etc.). According to one embodiment, when conduits 130 are arranged in a sequential arrangement, the distance from the distal end of a given conduit 130 to first end 1 12 of connector 1 10 may be greater than the distance from the distal end of the preceding conduit to first end 1 12 of connector 1 10. Additionally, although the distal end of conduits 130 are disposed at different distances from a first end 1 12 of connector 1 10, conduits 130 may all be substantially the same length. This may be achieved, for example, by coupling conduits 130 at different distances from first end 1 12 within connector 1 10.

[0021] According to embodiments of the present invention, sealing elements 140 may be self-sealing. For example, sealing elements 140 may automatically seal containers 150 when containers 150 are decoupled from fluid filling apparatus 100. This may be accomplished when the force that each sealing element 140 exerts in coupling each respective container 150 to fluid filling apparatus 100 is overcome. This may be accomplished, for example, by the weight and/or pressure each container 150 exceeding a certain threshold thereby causing the container to become detached from the conduits 130, manual removal of the containers 150, or some other action, such as shaking fluid filling apparatus 100, to remove containers 150 from fluid filling apparatus 100. As this force is overcome, the respective container is detached from fluid filling apparatus 100, and sealing elements 140 automatically seal the end of respective container 150 that was attached to fluid filling apparatus 100. According to certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention, containers 150 may include balloons.

[0022] According to certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention, sealing elements 140 may include a mechanism by which the containers are automatically sealed when they are detached from fluid filling apparatus 100. For example, sealing elements 140 can include rubber bands or clamps, which simply clamp and/or seal the containers by exerting a compressive force around a neck of containers 150. Alternatively, sealing elements 140 can include other mechanisms to seal containers 150. For example, sealing elements 140 can include a liquid-activated material positioned in the neck of containers 150 that are configured to expand and seal the neck of containers 150 when a fluid such as water is introduced to containers 150. Alternatively, sealing elements 140 can include a self-healing membrane positioned in the neck of containers 150, such as a closed-cell foam, that allow conduits 130 to be inserted there-through, and self-heals when conduit 130 is removed so as to seal container 150. According to certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention, sealing elements 140 can also include a valve as shown in Figures 2A-2C.

[0023] As shown in Figure 2A, sealing element 140 can include a valve 2000 positioned in the neck of container 150. Valve 2000 can include a channel 2002 and a sealing member 2004, such as a flap. As shown in Figure 2A, conduit 130 can be received through channel 2002 to allow fluid to fill container 150. According to certain exemplary embodiments, conduit 130 can be positioned in channel 2002 such that a portion of conduit 130 extends beyond a lower surface 2006 so that it maintains sealing member 2004 in an open position while conduit 130 is received in channel 2002. Alternatively, conduit 130 can be positioned so that it does not extend beyond lower surface 2006, and sealing member 2004 is opened by the flow pressure of the fluid filling containers 150 as containers 150 are being filled. Channel 2002 can be sized, shaped, dimensioned, and configured to receive conduit 130 and apply a desired frictional force to ensure that container 150 is coupled to conduit 130 and automatically detaches container 150 from conduit 130 when the weight and/or pressure of container 150 exceeds a certain threshold. For example, the shape, length, dimensions of channel 2002 can be selected to obtain the desired frictional force. For example, the length of the channel (e.g., the longer the channel the greater the frictional force on conduit 130), the diameter of the channel (e.g., a smaller diameter channel would have a greater frictional force), the shape of the channel (e.g., cylindrical, rectangular, triangular, oval-shaped, tapered, having ribs, etc.) can all be adjusted to achieve the desired frictional force. In operation, fluid is introduced to container 150 via conduit 130, and once container 150 reaches the threshold at which it detaches from conduit 130, the pressure within container 150 causes sealing member 2004 to close against lower surface 2006 of valve 2000, thereby sealing container 150. According to certain exemplary embodiments, valve 2000 is made of silicone. Alternatively, valve 2000 can be made of other suitable thermoplastics, rubbers, non-thermoplastic rubbers, etc.

[0024] As shown in Figure 2A, valve 2000 can include ring members 2008 and 2010. Preferably, ring members 2008 and 2010 are substantially rigid, and prevent container 150 from radially expanding at the positions where ring members 2008 and 2010 are positioned. This allows valve 2000 to remain positioned in the neck of container 150 so that it cannot be displaced out of container 150 through the opening or into the main body of container 150 as it expands and is filled with fluid. Alternatively, ring member 2008 and 2010 can be replaced with other mechanisms, components or features that substantially prevent radial expansion of the container, so as to allow valve 2000 to remain positioned in the neck of container 150, such as, for example, a sleeve, an adhesive, etc. For example, an adhesive may be disposed on a surface of valve 2000 so as to adhere at least a portion (e.g., the neck) of container 150 to the surface of valve 2000 to substantially prevent radial expansion of the container and position valve 2000 within the neck of container 150.

[0025] Although valve 2000 shown in Figure 2A is a reed type valve mechanism, other valves can be employed. For example, as shown in Figure 2B, sealing element can include a duckbill valve 2000' or a bullet valve 2000" as shown in Figure 2C. Each of duckbill valve 2000' and bullet valve 2000" operates similarly to valve 2000. Each of duckbill valve 2000' and bullet valve 2000" is configured to be positioned in a neck of container 150 and includes a channel (2002' and 2002", respectively) configured to receive conduit 130 therethrough. Each of duckbill valve 2000' and bullet valve 2000" also includes a sealing members (2004' and 2004") that seals container 150. For example, sealing members 2004' of duckbill valve 2002' can be pressed together to form a seal. Alternatively, another embodiment can provide a valve member including a slit through which conduit 130 is received and the slides/walls of the slit can form a seal when conduit 130 is removed. Although embodiments of the present invention have been described with respect to a reed valve, a bullet valve, and a duckbill valve, other valve mechanisms can be employed where the pressure within container 150 is used to close and seal the valve. [0026] According to certain embodiments of the present invention, sealing elements 140 including valve 2000 can facilitate fluid filling apparatus 100 to be reusable. For example, containers 150, including sealing elements 140 having valve 2000 already inserted in the neck of containers 150, can be provided separate and apart from fluid filling apparatus 100, which can be installed onto fluid filling apparatus 100 by a user. For example, fluid filling apparatus 100 can be provided preassembled with a certain number of containers 150. After a user has used all containers 150 that were initial coupled to fluid filling apparatus 100, replacement containers 150, including sealing elements 140 including valve 2000 already inserted in the neck of containers 150, can be provided, and a user can install containers 150 onto conduits 130 of fluid filling apparatus 100. Accordingly, a user or consumer would not need to purchase the entire fluid filling apparatus 100 again.

[0027] Figures 3A and 3B show an exemplary connector 1 10 according to embodiments of the present invention. As shown in Figures 3A and 3B, connector 1 10 may be substantially cylindrical and may include a first portion 1 10a and a second portion 1 10b. According to certain embodiments, first portion 1 10a and second portion 1 10b may be two distinct components that can be removably or permanently coupled together. Alternatively, according to other embodiments, first portion 1 10a and second portion 1 10b may be formed from a single piece. As shown in Figures 3A and 3B, connector 1 10 includes coupling element 122, flow path 124, and openings/channels 126. Openings/channels 126 may include an interior end and an exterior end and provides fluid communication between the exterior of connector 1 10 and the interior of connector 1 10. Further, openings/channels 126 may be dimensioned and sized to receive, or otherwise connect with, conduits 130. Coupling element 122 is configured to removably couple connector 1 10, and thereby couple fluid filling apparatus 100, to an upstream component, such as a fluid source. Coupling element 122 may include threads, as shown in Figure 3A, or any other type of clamping or coupling mechanism. Although connector 1 10 is shown to be substantially cylindrical, connector 1 10 may take on any shape (e.g., square, rectangular, etc.) that may be desired. Additionally, the shape of connector 1 10 may differ depending on the type of upstream component that is to be used with connector 1 10. Further, according to certain exemplary embodiments, second portion 1 10b may be an adapter that enables connector 1 10 to be coupled to different upstream components. For example, second portion 1 10b may include various different types of coupling element 122 and may removably couple to first portion 1 10a so that connector 1 10 can be coupled to a variety of upstream components. Further, connector 1 10 may include features on the exterior to assist a user in actuating coupling element 122 to couple end cap 120 to an upstream component. According to an embodiment of the present invention, coupling element 122 may include standardized threads for receiving the threads of a standard faucet or hose.

[0028] As shown in Figure 3A, flow path 124 and openings/channels 126 may define a flow path that the fluid may follow from the upstream component, such as a fluid source, through connector 1 10 to conduits 130. Preferably, conduits 130 are received in or otherwise connected to openings/channels 126. Accordingly, fluid entering connector 1 10 may flow through flow path 124 and through openings/channels 126 to conduits 130. The number and dimensions of the openings/channels 126 correspond to the number and dimensions of conduits 130. According to certain embodiments of the present invention, the number, size, and dimensions of openings/channels 126 may be selected in view of the number of containers 150 to be filled at one time and the speed at which they are to be filled. Accordingly, connector 1 10 may include any number of openings/channels 126 that is desired. As shown in Figures 3A and 3B, according to an embodiment of the present invention, connector 1 10 may include forty openings/channels 126.

[0029] As shown in Figures 3A and 3B, openings/channels 126 may be configured in a spiraling helical arrangement. As shown in Figure 3B, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the exterior of connector 1 10 may include a plurality of faceted surfaces 128 in a spiraling helical arrangement. The configuration of faceted surfaces 128 may correspond to the position of openings/channels 126 so that the exterior end of openings/channels 126 may be disposed on faceted surfaces 128. Although Figure 3B is shown as each faceted surface 128 have a single opening/channel 126 disposed therein, alternatively, each faceted surface 128 can have any number of openings/channels 126 disposed therein, and each faceted surface 128 could have a different number of openings/channels 126 disposed therein. For example, each faceted surface 128 could have two openings/channels 126 disposed therein, alternatively, a first stepped surface 128 could have a single opening/channel 126 disposed therein and a second stepped surface could have three openings/channels 126 disposed therein. According to other embodiments, faceted surfaces 128 can be arranged in any configuration or arrangement. Alternatively, connector 1 10 may not include faceted surfaces 128 and openings/channels 126 may, for example, be disposed in a smooth spiraling helix or in a spiral on a flat exterior surface. [0030] As shown in Figure 3A, the interior end of openings/channels 126 may also be disposed in a plurality of faceted surfaces disposed in a spiraling helical arrangement in the interior of connector 1 10 corresponding to the plurality of faceted surfaces 128 disposed on the exterior of connector 1 10. Alternatively, the interior end of openings/channels 126 may disposed on a flat surface within the interior of connector 1 10.

[0031] Figure 4A shows a cross sectional view of fluid filling apparatus 100 according to embodiments of the present invention. As shown in Figure 4A, connector 1 10 may be substantially cylindrical, and may define a flow path 124. Further, connector 1 10 preferably includes coupling element 122. Coupling element 122 may include any type of coupling mechanism, such as, e.g., threads or clamps. Coupling element 122 may be configured to couple connector 1 10 to an upstream component such as a fluid source. According to an embodiment of the present invention, coupling element 122 may include standardized threads for receiving the threads of a standard faucet or hose. Alternatively, coupling elements 122 may include various other types of coupling mechanisms. In operation, connector 1 10 is preferably coupled to a fluid source via coupling element 122. Once the fluid source is activated, the fluid travels into connector 1 10, through flow path 124 and into each of the openings/channels 126. The fluid then passes through openings/channels 126 to conduits 130, which are coupled to openings/channels 126. The fluid then passes through conduits 130 to fill containers 150.

[0032] As shown in Figure 4A, connector 1 10 can include an additive 200 and an additive mixing mechanism. For example, additive mixing mechanism may include a separator 202 which secures additive 200 within the interior of connector 1 10 and defines two chambers 204 and 206, which are in fluid communication with each other, within the interior of connector 1 10. Separator 202 secures additive 200 within chamber 206 of the interior of connector 1 10 during operation of the fluid filling apparatus 100. For example, when the fluid source is activated, the fluid comes into contact with additive 200 in chamber 204 and mixes with additive 200 in chamber 206 and/or chamber 204. The mixture of the additive and the fluid passes through openings/channels 126 to conduits 130, which are coupled to openings/channels 126. The fluid and additive mixture then passes through conduits 130 to fill containers 150. Although additive 200 is shown in pellet form in Figure 4A, additive 200 may take any form. For example, additive 200 may be in the form of, e.g., a pellet, a powder, or a gel, and may be any material or substance for which a fluid mixture is desired. According to certain exemplary embodiments, additive 200 may include any substance, such as, e.g., soda ash, bicarbonate, lactose, citric acid, mineral oil, or a dye. Additionally, although only one additive 200 is shown in Figure 4A, any number of additives may be disposed within chamber 206 of connector 1 10.

[0033] Figure 4B shows a top-view of connector 1 10 with the mixing mechanism. As shown in Figure 4B, connector 1 10 includes separator 202 and additives 200. Preferably, separator 202 substantially secures additives 200 to the interior of connector 1 10 so that additives remain within chamber 206 of connector 1 10 while fluid filling apparatus 100 is in use. Preferably, separator 202 substantially secures additives 200 within chamber 206 of connector 1 10 even as additives 200 experience turbulence introduced by the fluid flowing through chamber 206. Accordingly, additives 200 substantially remain within chamber 206 while ensuring that chambers 204 and 206 remain in fluid communication with each other. It is contemplated that separator 202 may not secure additive 200 in chamber 206 permanently. For example, as the mixture is being created and additive 200 becomes smaller, portions of additive 200 may become sufficiently small that portions of additive 200 may pass through the portions of separator 202 that provide the fluid communication between chambers 204 and 206 into chamber 204. Although separator 202 is shown in Figure 4B to have a star configuration with an annular ring and a circular center, separator 202 may include any mechanism that can secure additives 200 within chamber 206 while maintaining fluid communication between chambers 204 and 206. For example, separator 202 can include a mesh, a component with holes or openings in any configuration, etc.

[0034] In use, connector 1 10 may be coupled to a fluid source via coupling element 122. When the fluid source is activated, the fluid flows through flow path 124 of connector 1 10. The fluid then chamber 206 of connector 1 10 and interacts with additive 200. As the fluid mixes with additive 200, the mixture exits chamber 206 and enters exits chamber 206 through openings/channels 126. From there, the mixture flows through openings/channels 126 to conduits 130. The mixture then passes through conduits 130 to containers 150, thereby automatically filling containers 150 with a mixture of the fluid and additive 200 in a substantially simultaneous manner.

[0035] Figure 5 shows an exemplary method 400 in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. According to certain embodiments, method 400 may be performed, for example, using fluid filling apparatus 100. As shown in Figure 5, in step 410, a balloon filling apparatus can be coupled to a fluid source. If method 400 is being performed using fluid filling apparatus 100, this can include coupling connector 1 10 via coupling elements 122 to a fluid source. In step 420, the fluid source can be activated. In step 430, an additive can be introduced to the fluid provided by the fluid source, thereby creating a fluid-additive mixture. If method 400 is being performed using fluid filling apparatus 100, this can include introducing an additive using a mixing mechanism, such as those described herein. For example, the fluid can come into contact with additive 200 in chamber 204 and mix with additive 200 in chamber 206 and/or chamber 204, thereby creating the fluid-additive mixture. In step 440, the balloons can be filled with the fluid- additive mixture. With respect to fluid filling apparatus 100, after the mixture of the fluid- additive is created, it can pass through openings/channels 126 to conduits 130, which are coupled to openings/channels 126, and then pass through conduits 130 to fill containers 150.

[0036] The embodiments and examples shown above are illustrative, and many variations can be introduced to them without departing from the spirit of the disclosure or from the scope of the appended claims. For example, elements and/or features of different illustrative and exemplary embodiments herein may be combined with each other and/or substituted with each other within the scope of the disclosure. For a better understanding of the disclosure, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which there is illustrated exemplary embodiments of the present invention.