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Title:
METHOD FOR PACKAGING A FLUID PRODUCT IN A PACKAGE COMPRISING A CONTAINER MADE OF FLEXIBLE MATERIAL AND AN OPENING AND CLOSING DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/215639
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device for such container, in turn comprising a cap (4). The above method comprises the steps of providing the above-mentioned open container made of flexible material, such opening and closing device and a film (80) made of flexible double-sealing material, as well as the step of coupling the latter with said opening and closing device, thereby obtaining an opening and closing device coupled with a film made of flexible double-sealing material. Finally, it is envisaged a step of dispensing a fluid product in the container and closing the latter by means of said opening and closing device coupled with such film, thereby obtaining a package (99) comprising a compartment, containing a fluid product, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight. According to a preferred embodiment, the method of the present invention is carried out by a continuous process.

Inventors:
CANEGALLO, Pierottavio (Carrer Joan Xico n. 17 - P01 - B, Ibiza - Isole Baleari, 07800, ES)
Application Number:
EP2018/063750
Publication Date:
November 29, 2018
Filing Date:
May 25, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GRC PACK LUXEMBOURG S.A. (6 rue Guillaume Schneider, 2522 Luxembourg, 2522 Luxembourg, 2522, LU)
International Classes:
B65B61/18; B65B3/02; B65B7/01; B65B7/02; B65B7/28; B65D75/58
Foreign References:
EP2454169A12012-05-23
EP2143658A12010-01-13
EP0661208A11995-07-05
EP2143658A12010-01-13
EP2454169A12012-05-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZAMBARDINO, Umberto (Botti & Ferrari S.R.L, Via Cappellini 11, Milano, 20124, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device, said method comprising the steps of:

a) providing a flexible container (50) comprising a first wall (52) and a second wall (53) opposite to each other and laterally sealed except for respective end upper portions (52c; 53c) ending at the respective upper edges of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53), respectively, said container (50) being open along a mouth (56) defined between said end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53), said mouth allowing to enter inside a compartment (55) for the containment of said fluid product;

b) providing a film (80) made of flexible double-sealing material, having a primary surface (80a) and an opposite secondary surface (80b), said film being placed on a substantially horizontal plane;

c) providing an opening and closing device (1) for said container (50), said device (1) comprising a pourer body (3), comprising a portion (6) of predetermined external profile, an opening and closing element (4) associated to said pourer body (3) in a removable way, and a base (2) substantially flattened, said base (2) being suitable for being sealed from below on said primary surface (80a) of said film (80);

d) coupling said opening and closing device (1) with said film (80), by sealing said base (2) on said opening and closing device on a portion on said primary surface (80a) of said film;

e) dispensing a fluid product inside said container (50) and sealing said film (80) made of flexible double-sealing material, thereby coupled with said opening and closing device (1), , to said end portions (52c, 53c) of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53) of said container (50), in order to make said compartment (55) for the containment of said fluid product of a package (99), thereby obtained, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

2. Method for packaging a fluid product according to claim 1 , wherein in said step c) said pourer body (3) of said device (1) comprises a spout (22) for the disposal of said fluid product having a prefixed axis and said base (2) is formed as one piece with said pourer body (3) under or at the lower end of said spout (22) and has a hole coaxial with said spout (22) of said pourer body.

3. Method for packaging a fluid product according to claim 2, wherein, in said step c) said pourer body (3) comprises a collar (5) formed as one piece with said base (2), said spout (22) is provided with cutting means (42) suitable for perforating said double-sealing film and said spout (22) is also rotatably movable in said collar (5) between an upper end stop position, wherein said cutting means (42) are situated in said collar (5) in the condition of maximum removal from the base (2), and a lower end stop position, wherein said cutting means (42) are in a position of maximum advancement and are capable of perforating said film (80), cutting the primary surface (80a) of said film (80).

4. Method for packaging a fluid product according to anyone of preceding claims, in which said step e) is carried out by means of the following steps: - filling said open flexible container (50) with a fluid product through said hole;

- reciprocally diverting said end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53) of said container (50) until having them laid down along a substantially horizontal plane;

- arranging said opening and closing device (1) on said laid down end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall and of said second wall, so that said secondary surface (80b) of said film (80) extends on said end upper portions (52c; 53c), and sealing said secondary surface (80b) of said film (80) to said end upper portions of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53), making a coupling between said opening and closing device (1) and said container (50);

- folding the free portions (85) of said film (80) together with said laid down end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall and of said second wall, and sealing the primary surface (85a) of said folded free portions (85) of said film (80) around a portion (6) of predetermined external profile of said pourer body (3) of said opening and closing device (1) and, possibly, sealing said folded end portions (52c, 53c) of said first wall and of said second wall to each other.

5. Method for packaging a fluid product according to preceding claims 1-3, in which said step e) is carried out in turn by means of the following steps: - folding the free portions (85) of said film (80) and sealing said primary surface of said free portions (85) of said film (80) around a portion (6) of predetermined external profile of said pourer body (3) of said opening and closing device (1) and sealing possible residual portions of said film (80) to each other, where said primary surface (80a) of said film is not sealed around said portion (6) of predetermined external profile of said pourer body (3);

- filling said open flexible container (50) with a fluid product through said hole;

- putting said opening and closing device (1) inside said hole defined between said end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall and of said second wall of said container, and sealing said secondary surface (80b) of said film (80) to said end upper portions (52c; 53c) of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53) and, possibly, sealing said folded end upper portions (52c, 53c) of said first wall and of said second wall to each other.

6. Method for packaging a fluid product in continuous in a plurality of packages comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device, said method comprising the steps of:

a') providing a plurality of flexible containers comprising a first wall (52) and a second wall (53) opposite to each other and laterally sealed except for respective end upper portions (52c, 53c) ending at the respective upper edges of said first wall and of said second wall, respectively, said container being open along a mouth defined between said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, said mouth allowing to enter inside a compartment for the containment of said fluid product;

b') providing a film made of flexible double-sealing material in form of a strip (180), wherein said strip has a primary surface (180a) and an opposite secondary surface and is placed on a substantially horizontal plane;

c') providing a plurality of opening and closing devices for said plurality of containers, wherein each device comprises a pourer body, comprising a portion of predetermined external profile, an opening and closing element associated to said pourer body in a removable way, and a base substantially flattened, said base being suitable for being sealed from below on said primary surface (180a) of said strip (180); d') coupling said plurality of opening and closing devices with said strip (180), by sealing the base of each opening and closing device to said primary surface (180a) of said strip (180) at predetermined distances, and splitting said strip (180) into a plurality of portions (181), so as to obtain a plurality of opening and closing devices, each of them being coupled to a portion (181) of said strip (180);

e') dispensing a fluid product inside each one of said plurality of containers and sealing a portion of said strip (180) thereby coupled with an opening and closing device (1), , to said end portions (52c, 53c) of said first wall (52) and of said second wall (53) of each container (50), in order to make each compartment for the containment of said fluid product of each package of said plurality of packages, thereby obtained, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

7. Method for packaging a fluid product in continuous according to claim 6, wherein in said step d') said strip (180) is split into said portions (181) by means of a cutting operation.

8. Method for packaging a fluid product in continuous according to claims 6 or 7, wherein in said step d'), after having coupled said plurality of opening and closing devices (201) and said strip (280), and before splitting said strip (280) into a plurality of portions, a sealing operation takes place between free portions of said strip, folded on said portion (206) of predetermined external profile of the pourer body of each opening and closing device (201), wherein said sealing operation is carried out by means of a couple of heating chain conveyors (292).

9. Method for packaging a fluid product in continuous according to claims 6 or 7, wherein said strip (180), provided in said step b'), comprises weakening lines (182) suitable for assisting in the splitting of said strip (180) in said portions (181) in said step d').

Description:
Title: Method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device

DESCRIPTION

Field of Application

In its more general aspect, the present invention relates to the sector of packaging of fluid products.

In particular, the present invention relates to a method for packaging fluid products, such as for example food products and consumer goods such as house cleaning or personal care products, in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device.

Prior art

The use of opening and closing devices on containers made of flexible material, in particular bags, sachets and the like, for packaging liquid, even very viscous, food products, such as for example beverages or juices, and also solid food products having appropriate characteristics of fluidity (or flowability), such as for example food products in powder or granular, is well known.

The use of opening and closing devices on containers made of flexible material such the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph to package liquids such as detergent solutions for house cleaning or personal care is also well known.

These containers are generally obtained from a sheet (or also several sheets) made of an appropriate flexible material which is folded and sealed, at least laterally, so as to define a bottom and two opposite side walls between which an inner compartment is formed for the food product, wherein said opposite walls end above with a mouth for the insertion of the food product required.

In particular, opening and closing devices are known for flexible containers of the aforesaid type comprising a pourer body in a rigid plastic material provided with a spout for the administration of the liquid product, and an opening and closing element, usually a cap stopper, associated removably with the upper end of the spout, for example by means of a threaded coupling for the unscrewing and the screwing of the cap stopper from and on the spout according to needs. The pourer body is moreover provided with appropriate sealing surfaces by means of which it is sealed to corresponding opposite flaps of the mouth of the flexible container previously filled with the food product required according to known technologies, for example by hot pressing the opposite flaps of the mouth one towards the other and against the sealing surfaces of the pourer body previously placed between said flaps.

However, with the current technologies, it is difficult to seal optimally, that is to say with liquid tightness, an opening and closing device of the aforesaid type between the flaps of the mouth of the flexible container which is still open, in particular in zones close to the ends of the sealing surfaces of the pourer body where the walls of the opposite flaps of the mouth stop being joined reciprocally and start to divert for adapting to the sealing surfaces of the pourer body, and that despite the general good compatibility of the materials subjected to sealing which make up the container and the pourer body.

An ameliorative method for packaging is described in the European patent application EP 2143658. According to said method, the flexible container filled with the food product required is first hermetically closed and then the opening and closing device is inserted with its own pourer body in a designated pocket obtained by folding end portions ending at the upper edges of the walls of the flexible container and therefore partially enclosed in said pocket by moving closer the opposite walls of the pocket until sealing them with each other and with the pourer body at the respective sealing surfaces. The spout of the opening and closing device is inferiorly equipped with a blade or similar cutting means and is movable in the pourer body between a condition of maximum removal of the blade from the container and a position of maximum advancement in which the spout is irreversibly blocked and is capable of perforating the container through said blade, thereby putting itself in fluid communication with the food product inside the container.

However, in the above-mentioned method for packaging, the application of an opening and closing device as showed above in the designated pocket of the respective flexible container is sometimes difficult and laborious.

Another method for packaging is described in the European patent application EP 2454169. Such method for packaging suggests to solve the drawbacks of the method described in the above-mentioned application EP 2143658 using an opening and closing device, with structural and functional characteristics similar to the ones of the device described in EP2143658, but further comprising a base substantially flattened and shaped so as to be foldable, by means of designated folding lines, around a peripheral portion of predetermined external profile of the pourer body and peripherally sealable to it.

During packaging operations, the flexible container is filled at the opening with the predetermined food product and possibly sealed and the above- mentioned base is welded from below to a predetermined end portion of the flexible container containing the above-mentioned opening or, in case the container is sealed after filling, to a predetermined end portion of the flexible container, which can be open later by an opening mechanism purposely arranged in the opening and closing device.

Subsequently, the base with the respective end portion of the flexible container to which it is welded are folded and the base is welded around the portion of predetermined external profile of the pourer body of said opening and closing device. Finally, the end edges not coupled with the base of the pourer body are possibly sealed with each other.

However, also the above method for packaging is not free of drawbacks, among which the fact that, since the base has a certain compactness and it has therefore to be provided with weakening zones to facilitate its folding, the operations of folding and sealing of the base to the pourer body can be long and difficult, thereby considerably protracting the packaging times and/ or resulting in a non-optimal or lasting sealing.

The problem underlying the present invention is therefore to provide a method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device, wherein said elements can be sealed with each other with more ease and efficacy, in order to overcome the above-mentioned drawbacks with reference to the prior art.

Summary of the invention

This technical problem is solved by a method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device, said method comprising the steps of:

a) providing a flexible container comprising a first wall and a second wall opposite to each other and laterally sealed except for respective end upper portions ending at the respective upper edges of said first wall and of said second wall, respectively, said container being open along a mouth defined between said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, which allows to enter inside a compartment for the containment of a fluid product;

b) providing a film made of flexible double-sealing material, having a primary surface and an opposite secondary surface; wherein said film made of flexible double-sealing material is placed on a substantially horizontal plane;

c) providing an opening and closing device for the above-mentioned container, wherein the device comprises a pourer body, comprising in turn a portion of predetermined external profile, an opening and closing element associated to said pourer body in a removable way, and a base substantially flattened, wherein said base is suitable for being sealed from below on the primary surface of the above-mentioned film;

d) coupling said opening and closing device with said film, by sealing the base of said opening and closing device on a portion of the primary surface of said film;

e) dispensing said fluid product inside the above-mentioned container and sealing said film made of flexible double-sealing material, thereby coupled with the opening and closing device, , to said end portions of said first wall and of said second wall of the above-mentioned container, so as to make said compartment for the containment of a fluid product of the package, thereby obtained, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

Preferably, in said step c), the pourer body of such device comprises a spout for the disposal of said fluid product having a prefixed axis for the disposal of said fluid product and the base is formed as one piece with the pourer body under or at the lower end of said spout and has a hole coaxial with the spout of said pourer body.

More preferably, in said step c), the pourer body comprises a collar formed as one piece with said base, the spout is provided with means for cutting the double-sealing film and, moreover, the spout is rotatably movable in said collar between an upper end stop position, wherein said cutting means are situated in said collar in the condition of maximum removal from the base, and a lower end stop position, wherein said cutting means are in a position of maximum advancement and are capable of perforating the above-mentioned film, cutting the primary surface of said film.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the method for packaging a fluid product in a package comprising a container made of flexible material and an opening and closing device, said step e) can in turn be carried out through the following steps:

- filling said open flexible container with a fluid product through the above-mentioned mouth;

- reciprocally diverting said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall of said container until having them laid down along a substantially horizontal plane;

- putting said opening and closing device on said laid down end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, so that said secondary surface of said film extends on said end upper portions, and sealing the secondary surface of said film to said laid down end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, making a coupling between said opening and closing device and said container by mean of said film;

- folding the free portions of said film (i.e. the portions of the film which are not sealed to the base of the opening and closing device) together with the laid down end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, and sealing the primary surface of the folded free portions of said film around said portion of predetermined external profile of the pourer body of said opening and closing device and, possibly, sealing said folded end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall to each other.

In a equally preferred way, according to a different embodiment of the method according to the present invention, said step e) can be in turn carried out through the following steps:

- folding the free portions of said film and sealing the primary surface of said free portions of the film around said portion of predetermined external profile of the pourer body of said opening and closing device and/ or sealing possible residual portions of said film to each other wherein the primary surface of said film is not sealed with said portion of predetermined external profile of said pourer body; - filling said open flexible container with a fluid product through the above-mentioned mouth;

- putting said opening and closing device inside said mouth defined between said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall of the above-mentioned container, and sealing the secondary surface of the film made of flexible double-sealing material to said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall and, possibly, sealing said folded end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall to each other.

Preferably, the above-mentioned technical problem can be solved through a preferred embodiment of the method according to the present invention which can be carried out according to a continuous process performing the following steps:

a') providing a plurality of flexible containers, each container comprising a first wall and a second wall opposite to each other and laterally sealed except for respective end upper portions ending at the respective upper edges of said first wall and of said second wall, respectively, wherein said container is open along a mouth, defined between said end upper portions of said first wall and of said second wall, which allows to enter inside a compartment for the containment of a fluid product;

b') providing a film made of flexible double-sealing material in form of a strip, wherein said strip has a primary surface and an opposite secondary surface and is placed on a substantially horizontal plane;

c') providing a plurality of opening and closing devices for the above- mentioned container, wherein each device comprises a pourer body, comprising in turn a portion of predetermined external profile, an opening and closing element associated to said pourer body in a removable way, and a base substantially flattened, wherein said base is suitable for being sealed from below on the primary surface of the above-mentioned strip; d') coupling said plurality of opening and closing devices with said strip, sealing the base of each opening and closing device to the primary surface of said strip at predetermined distances, and splitting said strip into a plurality of portions, to obtain a plurality of opening and closing devices, each of them being coupled to a portion of said strip;

e') dispensing said fluid product inside each container of said plurality of containers and sealing a portion of said strip, thereby coupled with an opening and closing device, , to said end portions of said first wall and of said second wall of each container, so as to make each compartment for the containment of a fluid product of each package of the plurality of packages, thereby obtained, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

Preferably, according to the latter embodiment of the method according to the present invention, during step d'), the strip is split in portions by way of a cutting operation.

In an equally preferred manner, during said step d'), after coupling said plurality of opening and closing devices and said strip, and before the operation of splitting said strip into a plurality of portions, a sealing operation takes place between free portions of the strip, folded on the flange of the pourer body of each opening and closing device, wherein said sealing operation is carried out by means of a couple of heating chain conveyors.

In an equally preferred manner, still according to the latter embodiment of the method according to the present invention, said strip made of flexible double-sealing material, provided during step b'), comprises weakening lines suitable for assisting in the splitting of said strip in portions in said step d').

Preferably, according to the method according to the present invention, the portion of predetermined external profile of the pourer body of said opening and closing device has a peripheral (or external) profile substantially concentric or with the same shape and perimeter as a peripheral (or external) profile of the base of such opening and closing device.

In equally preferred manner, the above-mentioned film of flexible double- sealing material is made in a material which is compatible for sealing with the opening and closing device, and with the above-mentioned flexible container.

Preferably, the above-mentioned film made of flexible double-sealing material is a multi-layer film.

More preferably, said flexible double-sealing material can comprise a first layer made of a material compatible with the above-mentioned opening and closing device, so that said primary surface of the film is sealable with the base of the pourer body of such device, and it can comprise a second layer made of material compatible with the above-mentioned container, so that said secondary surface of the film is sealable with said end upper portions of said first wall and said second wall of the above-mentioned container.

In the above described embodiments, any such sealing performed during the method according to the present invention can be performed according to conventional techniques such as for example heat-sealing ( or heat- welding), ultrasonic welding or use of adhesives.

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become clearer from the description given below of some preferred embodiments, said description being given by way of a non-limiting example with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

In the accompanying drawings:

- Figure 1 shows an overall perspective view of an opening and closing device provided according to an embodiment of a step of the method according to the invention;

- Figure 2 shows an overall perspective view of an opening and closing device of Figure 1 coupled with a film made of flexible double-sealing material according to a step of the method according to the invention, which is subsequent to the step Figure 1 refers to;

- Figure 3 shows a step of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a first embodiment of the invention, wherein the opening and closing device coupled with a film of Figure 2 is arranged on laid down end upper portions of said first wall and said second wall of a container made of flexible material and wherein it is sealed thereto;

- Figure 4 shows the step of the method for packaging of Figure 3 with some further graphical details;

- Figure 5 shows a step of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a first embodiment of the invention, subsequent to the step showed in Figure 3;

- Figure 6 shows the step of the method for packaging of Figure 5 with some further graphical details;

- Figure 7 shows a step of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a second embodiment of the invention, wherein a film made of flexible double-sealing material coupled with an opening and closing device of Figure 1 is folded on the latter;

- Figure 8 shows a step of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a second embodiment of the invention, wherein the opening and closing device coupled with a film of Figure 7 is inserted between laid down end upper portions of said first wall and said second wall;

- Figure 9 shows a step of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a first embodiment of the invention, subsequent to the step showed in Figure 8, wherein the opening and closing device coupled with a film of Figure 7 is sealed to said first wall and to said second wall of the container made of flexible material;

- Figures 10 and 1 1 show some steps of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a further embodiment of the invention, wherein the bases of a plurality of opening and closing devices of Figure 1 , coupled in sequence on a strip of flexible double-sealing material, are sealed to it and, subsequently, wherein said strip is cut in single portions;

- Figures 12 and 13 show some steps of the method for packaging a fluid product according to a further embodiment of the invention, during which a sealing operation takes place between portions of a film strip and the flange of the pourer body of each opening and closing device of a plurality of devices of Figure 1 , wherein such sealing operation is carried out by means of a couple of heating chain conveyors.

- Figures 14 and 15 represent overall perspective views and exploded view respectively of an opening and closing device according to a further embodiment of the invention;

- Figures 16- 18 show each a front view and a partial cross-section view of the package obtained by the method of the present invention in respective operative steps of opening the same and wherein the container is showed in partial cross section.

Detailed description

Referring to the figures, as disclosed in the summary, the method for packaging according to the present invention envisages in fact providing a flexible container 50 comprising a first wall 52 and a second wall 53 opposite to each other and laterally sealed except for respective end upper portions 52c and 53c ending at the respective upper edges 52d and 53d of said first wall 52 and of said second wall 53, respectively, said container being open along a mouth defined between said end upper portions 52c and 53c of said first wall 52 and of said second wall 53.

In particular, the flexible container provided in accordance with the method according to the present invention can essentially consist of a bag made preferably of a single multilayer (composite) or single-layer flexible sheet of an appropriate material, possibly a material for food. By way of a non-limiting example, it can be formed from a sheet in metallic material, in particular aluminum, or a composite sheet comprising a metal and a plastic material for food and/ or board or cardboard. Alternatively, it is possible to make the bag 50 with a plurality of sheets of a flexible material such as those indicated above.

In particular, the bag 50 comprises a bottom 51 , a first wall 52 and a second wall 53 substantially opposite one to the other and peripherally sealed at respective first side edges 52a and 53a and respective second side edges 52b and 53b, and an inner compartment 55 for the containing of a fluid product, i.e. liquid or solid (free-flowing), inside the first wall 52 and the second wall 53.

The lateral sealing between the first wall 52 and the second wall 53 extends from the bottom 51 along the first side edges 52a and 53a and the second side edges 52b and 53b and ends at an end upper portion 52c of the first wall 52 and of a corresponding end upper portion 53c of the second wall 53 ending at the upper edge 52d of the first wall 52 and the upper edge 53d of the second wall 53 respectively.

Afterward, the method for packaging according to the present invention envisages providing a film 80 made of flexible double-sealing material, having a primary surface 80a and an opposite secondary surface 80b.

Then, the method for packaging according to the present invention envisages providing an opening and closing device 1 for the container 50, wherein the device 1 comprises a pourer body 3, comprising in turn a portion 6 of predetermined external profile, an opening and closing element 4 associated to said pourer body in a removable way, and a base

2 substantially flattened, wherein said base is suitable for being sealed from below on the primary surface 80a of the above-mentioned film 80.

With particular reference to Figure 1 , the opening and closing device 1 comprises, as main elements, a flattened base 2, a pourer body denoted as a whole by 3, and a cap stopper 4, coaxially associated one with the other along a longitudinal axis X-X.

Preferably, the method according to the present invention envisages that during step c) the pourer body of device 1 , thereby provided, comprises a spout 22 for the disposal of a fluid product having a prefixed axis and the base 2 is formed as one piece with the pourer body 3 under or at the lower end of the spout 22 and has a hole coaxial with the spout 22 of the pourer body 3.

More preferably, in said step c) of providing an opening and closing device 1 , the pourer body 3 comprises a collar 5 formed as one piece with the base 2, the spout 22 is provided with cutting means of the double-sealing film 80 and, possibly, of a predetermined part of the flexible container 50 and, further, the spout 22 is also rotatably movable in the collar 5 between an upper end stop position, wherein said cutting means are situated in the collar 5 in the condition of maximum removal from the base 2, and a lower end stop position, wherein said cutting means are in a position of maximum advancement and are capable of perforating the film 80, cutting the primary surface 80a of the film 80, as it will be better explained below.

In particular, with specific reference to Figures 14 and 15, which show a specific opening and closing device which can be provided according to step c) of the method according to the present invention, the pourer body

3 comprises a substantially cylindrical collar 5 formed as one piece with the base 2 and extended above it, the collar 5 internally defining a channel 8 coaxial in relation to the above-mentioned axis X-X for the passage of a fluid product, for example a food product or a personal care product, and a spout 22 rotatably engaged in said channel 8, said spout 22 being inferiorly provided with cutting means for opening a flexible container that are specified below.

The collar 5 has externally, and at a predetermined distance from the base 2, a flattened flange 6 of predetermined external profile and predetermined thickness along the longitudinal axis X-X, the flange 6 being extended along the entire circumferential perimeter of the collar 5. In particular, the flange 6 is formed as one piece with collar 5 and has a substantially hexagonal peripheral (or external) profile 7 with surfaces along its whole perimeter, which are defined by its thickness, for sealing film 80.

The collar 5 has moreover externally an annular band 9 formed as one piece with and situated over the flange 6 in close proximity thereto. The annular band 9 has a plurality of teeth 10 in circumferential sequence whose function will be explained below.

As an alternative to the annular band 9 a separate ring may be envisaged having said teeth formed as one piece in circumferential sequence, said ring being fitted on the collar 5 and restrained thereto by means of appropriate bridges.

The flattened base 2 is intended to be welded on a film 80 depicted below, in a way that will be better explained below, and has a first surface 2 a (located opposite to flange 6 of the pourer body) and a lower, opposite secondary surface 2b or surface sealable to the film 80. Moreover, the base 2 has a through hole 1 1 coaxial with the channel 8 inside the collar 5.

Preferably, in accordance with the method according to the present invention, the flange 6 of predetermined external profile of the pourer body 3 of the above-mentioned opening and closing device has a peripheral (or external) profile 7 substantially concentric or with the same shape and perimeter with respect to a peripheral (or external) profile 2c of the base 2 of such opening and closing device. As showed in Figure 15, the flange 6 can have a profile 7 with substantially polygonal shape, specifically with hexagonal shape, concentric with respect to perimeter 2c of the underlying base 2, said perimeter being hexagonal too.

Some details of the opening and closing system depicted in Figures 14 and 15 are described below.

With regard to the stout 22, it has to be said that it comprises a substantially cylindrical body 30 coaxial in relation to the above- mentioned axis X and having an upper terminal part 31 provided with external threading 32 along one of its axial section, a lower terminal part 33 also provided with external threading 34 along one of its axial section and an intermediate part 35 between the upper terminal part 31 and the lower terminal part 33 without threading.

The cylindrical body 30 has internally a channel 40 for the passage of a fluid product coaxial with the channel 8 of the collar 5, said channel 40 extending axially along the entire upper terminal part 31 , the lower terminal part 33 and the intermediate part 35 and being open at the lower end and at the upper end of the stout 22.

The lower part 33 of the cylindrical body 30 ends below with a blade 42 which is eccentric in relation to the axis X-X for opening a flexible container, wherein said blade is obtained by inferiorly cutting the cylindrical body 30 along a cutting plane which is slanted in relation to the axis X-X.

The spout 22 has moreover a cylindrical shell formed as one piece with it which is above the intermediate part 35 of the cylindrical body 30, the cylindrical shell being provided above with a plurality of teeth 38 in circumferential sequence along an annular band and projecting therefrom, and below with an internal annular recess intended to couple substantially with interlocking coupling with the teeth 10 of the collar 5 of the base upon the first opening of a flexible container to which the opening and closing device 1 is applied.

The cap stopper 4 comprises a head 45 and an annular shell 46 provided externally with knurling and internally with a threading which, together with the external threading 32 of the upper terminal part 31 of the spout 22, forms a threaded coupling for the screwing and unscrewing of the cap stopper 4 from and on the spout 22 of the pourer body 3 as needed.

The cap stopper 4 has moreover a guarantee band made up of a ring 49 fitted on the annular shell 46 and restrained thereto by means of appropriate bridges (not showed), the ring 49 being internally provided with a plurality of teeth, not showed as they are fully conventional, which engage between the teeth 38 of the cylindrical shell of the intermediate part 35 of the spout 22 according to a substantially toothed coupling.

In this way, the cap stopper 4 is made rotatably integral with the spout 22 of the pourer body 3.

The spout 22 is rotatably engaged inferiorly in the collar 5 by means of a threaded coupling between the external threading 34 of the lower terminal part 33 and the internal threading of the channel 8 of the collar 5. More particularly, this threaded coupling allows a rotary movement of the spout 22 from an upper end stop position wherein the eccentric blade 42 of the upper terminal part 31 is situated inside the channel 8 in the condition of maximum removal from the flexible container to which the opening and closing device 1 is applied, to a lower end stop position, corresponding to the interlock engagement of the internal annular recess of the spout 22 with the teeth 10 of the collar 5, wherein the eccentric blade 42 goes beyond the hole of the base 2 and is able to perforate the primary surface 80a of the film 80, bringing into fluid communication the internal compartment 55 of the container with the pourer body 3 and specifically with the channel 40 of the spout 22.

Advantageously, the threading 32 of the upper terminal part 31 of the spout 22 and the threading 34 of the lower terminal part 33 are made in substantially opposite directions. As it will be showed herein below, this advantageously allows the user, on first opening, to perforate the flexible container whereto the opening and closing device 1 is applied, and to subsequently unscrew the cap stopper 4 from the spout 22 through a rotary movement in a single direction.

Once the container, the film and the opening and closing device are provided, the method for packaging according to the present invention envisages to perform step d) of coupling the opening and closing device on a portion of the primary surface 80a of the film 80.

Firstly, the opening and closing device is arranged on the film 80 made of flexible double-sealing material: the base 2 of the opening and closing device is placed on the film 80 so that the base itself lies on a portion on the primary surface 80a of the film 80.

Subsequently, the base 2 of the opening and closing device and the film 80 is sealed on the primary surface 80a of the film 80. After the latter operation, an opening and closing device as the one previously described is obtained, whose base 2 is coupled to a portion of the primary surface 80a of the film 80 of flexible double-sealing material, as showed in Figure 2.

Finally, in accordance with the method according to the present invention, step e) follows, during which said fluid product is dispensed inside the above-mentioned package and during which the opening and closing device coupled with the film 80 is sealed to the end upper portions 52c and 53c of the first wall 52 and of the second wall 53 of the container 50. In accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the method according to the present invention, step e) can be carried out through a further sequence of substeps, partially exemplified in Figures 3-6.

Firstly, the container 50 is filled with a fluid product according to completely conventional techniques, dispensing the fluid product through the above-mentioned mouth comprised and defined between the end upper portions 52c and 53c of said first wall 52 and said second wall 53.

Then, with particular reference to Figure 3, the end upper portion 52c and the end upper portion 53c are reciprocally diverted so as to fold the end part of the first wall 52 and the end part of the second wall 53 of 90° with respect to the first wall 52 and to the second wall 53, respectively, so as to have them laid down along a plane, which is substantially horizontal to the walls of the container 50.

Subsequently, the opening and closing device coupled with the portion of film 80 is arranged (following the order indicated by the dashed arrows A in Figures 3 and 4) on the end portions 52c and 53c laid down in this manner so as to extend the secondary surface 80b of the film 80 on the end portions 52c and 53c: as showed in Figure 3, the secondary surface 80b is in full contact to the end portions 52c and 53c. Then, during this operation, the secondary surface 80b is at the same time sealed at the end portions 52c and 53c laid down in this manner, thereby making a coupling between the opening and closing device 1 and the container 50 through the film 80.

Figure 4 shows a cross-sectional enlargement of device 1 placed on the container 50 (showed in its upper part and comprising part of the liquid with which it was previously filled) .

Advantageously, in the present embodiment, the sealing of the secondary surface 80b of the film 80 on the end portions 52c and 53c is carried out with the aid of two opposite rigid blocks 60 with a substantially wedge shape, said blocks 60 being arranged through a movement of reciprocal approaching in close proximity to the first wall 52 and the second wall 53 respectively, slightly below the end upper portion 52c of the first wall 52 and of the end upper portion 53c of the second wall 53.

Said blocks 60 have each an upper surface 61 substantially horizontal on which the end upper portion 52c of the first wall 52 and the end upper portion 53c of the second wall 53 are advantageously supported and held up.

Then, the method according to the particular embodiment of the present invention envisages, after moving apart the rigid blocks 60 from the first wall 52 and from the second wall 53, the step of folding the free portions 85 of the film 80, i.e. the portions of film 80 not sealed to the base 2 of the opening and closing device, and at the same time folding said laid down end portions 52c and 53c of said first wall 52 and said second wall 53, and sealing the primary surface 85a of the folded free portions 85 of the film 80 around the flange 6 of predetermined external profile 7 of the pourer body 3 and, in a totally preferred manner, sealing the end portions 52c and 53c of said first wall 52 and of said second wall 53 to each other.

Figure 6 shows through dashed lines B an exemplification of the movement that the free portions 85 of the film 80 and the end portions 52c and 53c perform during the operations of folding towards flange 6 of the pourer body 3. In particular, the same figure shows the position of the end portions before the folding operations (dashed lines substantially perpendicular to the length of the pourer body 3, and parallel to the length of the flange 6, as previously showed in Figure 4), and after folding operations (indicators 52c and 53c) with contact with the peripheral portion 7 of the flange 6 of predetermined external profile and predetermined thickness, the latter particularly evident.

After all the above-mentioned steps have been carried out, with reference to the first embodiment of the method according to the present invention partially exemplified by the Figures 3-6, a package 99 for fluids is obtained whose compartment 55 for the containment of a fluid product is substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

In accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the method according to the present invention, step e) can be carried out through a further sequence of substeps, partially exemplified in Figures 7-9.

After providing a device 1 coupled with a film 80 made of double-sealing material as envisaged for according to step d) of the method according to the present invention, the embodiment at issue envisages that the free portions 85 of the film 80 (i.e. the portions of the film 80 not sealed to the base 2 of the opening and closing device) are folded to the flange 6 of the pourer body 3: the movement of the free portions 85 of the film 80 is exemplified by arrow C depicted in Figure 7.

With reference to the same figure and at the same time of the operation of folding said portions of the film 80, the primary surface 85a of the free portions 85 of the film 80 is sealed around the flange 6 of predetermined external profile 7 of the pourer body 3 of the device 1 ; optionally, the possible residual free portions 85 of the film 80, wherein the primary surface 85a of the residual free portions is not sealed with the flange 6, are sealed to each other during the folding and sealing step at issue.

In this way, an opening and closing device is advantageously provided whose base 2 is coupled with a film 80 made of flexible double-sealing material, wherein the latter exhibits outwards only the secondary surface 80b, as it is showed in Figure 7.

Then a step follows of filling the container 50 with a fluid product according to totally conventional techniques, disposing the fluid product through the above-mentioned mouth comprised and defined between the end upper portions 52c and 53c of the first wall 52 and of the second wall 53.

Afterwards, the device 1 coupled with the film 80 and sealed thereto is arranged, according to a movement exemplified by dashed arrows D in Figure 8, inside the mouth defined between the end upper portions 52c and 53c of the first wall 52 and of the second wall 53 of the container 50

Preferably, the device 1 coupled with the film 80 and sealed thereto is inserted in the mouth of the container 50 in vertical position, i.e. achieving that the secondary surface 80b of the film 80 is substantially parallel to the inner surface of the walls 52 and 53 of the container 50.

At the same time of the above described positioning operation, the secondary surface 80b of the film 80 is sealed with the end portions 52c and 53c, more precisely with the inner surface of the walls 52 and 53 of the container 50. Optionally, it is envisaged that the end portions 52c and 53c are sealed to each other in zones non- involved in the coupling with the secondary surface 80b, i.e. sealing the inner surface of wall 52 with the inner surface of wall 53 directly to each other.

By way of example, Figure 9 shows an exemplification through dashed arrows of possible sealings to be performed between the secondary surface 80b of the film 80 and the end portions 52c and 53c, arrows which are marked with the letter F, as well as the possible sealings to be performed between the end portion 52c and the end portion 53c themselves, arrows marked with the letter E.

After all the above-mentioned steps have been carried out, with reference to the first embodiment of the method according to the present invention partially exemplified by the Figures 7-9, also according to this second preferred embodiment of the method according to the invention, a package 99 for fluids is advantageously obtained whose compartment 55 for the containment of a fluid product is substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

As disclosed in the summary, in accordance with a preferred embodiment, the method according to the present invention can be carried out in continuous using a film in form of a strip made of a flexible double-sealing material.

The embodiment at issue envisages firstly that, during a step a'), a plurality of flexible containers is provided of the same type of those described till now.

Subsequently, during a step b'), a strip made of flexible double-sealing material is provided.

Figures 10- 1 1 show a strip made of flexible double-sealing material provided according to a way of performing the embodiment at issue of the method according to the invention: it is indicated with the identification element 180.

Subsequently, according to step c'), a plurality of opening and closing devices of the above-mentioned type is provided.

The strip 180 provided during step b^ has a primary surface 180a sufficiently extended to house the bases 2 of the opening and closing devices comprised in such plurality of opening and closing devices thereby provided. The strip 180 comprises also a plurality of weakening lines 182 suitable for assisting in the subsequent splitting of the strip 180 in single portions in the following steps.

Figure 10 schematically shows the following step d') during which the plurality of devices 101 is coupled with the strip 180 made of flexible double-sealing material, by sealing the base 102 of each opening and closing device to the primary surface 180a of said strip at predetermined distances. The dashed lines G depicted in Figure 10 indicate the direction of the movement according to which each device 101 is arranged and sealed on the strip 180.

Once the sealing operations are completed, during step d'), a splitting operation is performed during which the strip 180 is split in a number of portions equal to the number of devices 101 arranged and sealed thereon. Preferably, such splitting operation can be performed by means of cutting means specifically suitable for such function.

Figure 1 1 shows an exemplification of the splitting operation of the strip 180 by means of cutting means, where a portion 181 is clearly separated from the strip 180: the dashed line H indicates the direction of the cut made, which is substantially perpendicular to the major dimension (the length) of the strip 180.

Then, a plurality of opening and closing devices 101 is provided whose bases 102 are singularly coupled with corresponding portions 181 of said strip 180 made of flexible double-sealing material.

Finally, step e') of the method according to the invention is carried out during which a fluid product is dispensed inside each container of the plurality previously provided during the previous step a'), and in which each device 101 , coupled with a single portion 181 made of double-sealing film, is sealed to the end upper portions of the walls of each single container, so as to make each compartment for the containment of a fluid product of each package of the plurality of packages, thereby obtained, substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

Figures 12- 13 show a strip (indicated with the identification element 280) made of flexible double-sealing material provided according to a preferred way of performing the embodiment at issue of the method according to the invention. According to the embodiment at issue, the above-mentioned steps a'), b^ and c') are carried out as described for the embodiment described in the previous paragraphs.

Differently, during the step d'), after a plurality of devices 201 is coupled with a strip 280 made of flexible double-sealing material, by sealing the base 202 of each opening and closing device to the primary surface 280a of the strip 280 at predetermined distances, the strip 280 is placed on a conveyor belt 290 comprising a central area 290a and a peripheral area 290b.

In particular, the strip 280, on which the base 202 of each opening and closing device are sealed, is placed corresponding to the central area 290a; differently, the peripheral area 290b comes just in a minor contact with the strip 280.

At a specific level of the production line, following the direction of movement of the conveyor belt 290, indicated in Figure 12 by the arrow marked by the letter M, the peripheral area 290b gradually assumes an increasing slope, until becoming substantially perpendicular with respect to the ideal plane on which the central area 290a, the strip 280 and the bases 202 of each device 201 lie. In this way, the peripheral area 290b takes the form of two folding walls with substantially vertical extension, which are symmetrical to each other: a first wall 290c extends from a side of the strip 280, while a second wall 290d, symmetric to the first wall 290c, extends from the opposite side of the strip 280.

In this way, according to the embodiment at issue, while the strip 280 (on which a plurality of devices have been placed and sealed) is being transported on the conveyor belt 290, the folding of the free portions of the strip 280 (i. e. the portions of the strip 280 not sealed at the base 202 of each opening and closing device 201) towards the flange 206 of the pourer body of each of the devices 201 is facilitated.

At a different level of the production line, more downstream following the direction of movement of the conveyor belt 290, the first wall 290c and the second wall 290d end, as it is clearly showed in Figure 13.

Slightly more downstream of such interruption, in proximity of the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290, there is a couple of sealing chain conveyors 292, symmetric to each other. The chains 292 rotate according to a predetermined elliptical rotation route and according to a rotation axis perpendicular to the ideal plane on which the strip 280 and the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290 lie. Each chain 292 rotates according to its own direction of rotation, one opposite to the other, as depicted in Figure 12 with dashed arrows, marked with the letter N. In this way, when they come in contact with the strip 280, the chains 292 facilitate the movement of the latter in the direction of the movement of the conveyor belt 290.

More particularly, each of the chains 292 comprises a plurality of cams or plates 295, depicted in Figure 13 connected with each other by a plurality of pivots 296, which allow each single cam 295 to rotate partially, thus following the direction of rotation of each chain 292, in a totally conventional manner.

Further, each of the chains 292 has a notched profile 293 comprising a plurality of cavities 293a and a plurality of protrusions or teeth 293b, arranged in alternate sequence, as showed in Figures 12- 13.

The chains 292 are positioned with respect to each other in such a way that the teeth 293b of each chain are aligned with the ones of the other chain, when - due to the rotation of each chain 292 - they come in proximity of the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290. In a similar way, by virtue of the regular alternation of the teeth 293b and the cavities 293a of each chain 292, also the cavities 293a of each chain 292 align with the ones of the other chain, when these are in proximity of the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290.

The arrangement of the chain conveyors 292, as it is described in the previous paragraph, allows the conveyor belt 280 to be transported by them, facilitating at the same time the housing of the plurality of devices 201 in the free space which is thereby prepared among corresponding cavities 293a of the profile 293 of each of the chains 292, when such cavities come in proximity of the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290. Said free space has such a size to be strictly sufficient to allow the housing of each device 201 and of the free portions of the strip 280, previously folded on the flange 206 of the pourer body 203 of each device 201.

In the same way, the distance between each tooth 293b of each chain 292 and a corresponding tooth 293b of the other chain 292, when these teeth come in proximity of the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290, is barely sufficient to allow the housing of the residual free portions of the strip 280 in which the primary surface 280a thereof is not folded on the flange 206 of the pourer body 203 of each device 201.

By virtue of the free space confined between the corresponding cavities 293a of each chain 292, when the plurality of devices 201 and the free portions of the strip 280 are housed in said free space, such devices 201 and such free portions of the strip 280 come into tight contact and, due to the pressure exerted by the chains 292, as well as due to the heat conducted thereby, a sealing operation between said elements takes place.

In a totally similar way, by virtue of the free space confined between the corresponding teeth 293b of each chain 292, when the residual free portions of the strip 280 (in which the primary surface 280a thereof not folded on the flange 206 of the pourer body 203 of each device 201) are housed in said free space, such free portions of the strip 280 comes into tight contact and, due to the pressure exerted by the chains 292, as well as due to the heat conducted thereby, a sealing operation takes place between them.

Then, at a specific level of the production line, corresponding cavities 293a and corresponding teeth 293b of the chain conveyors 292 move away from the central area 290a of the conveyor belt 290, due to the rotation of the chains 292, each along a predetermined rotation route. Indeed, as it is clear from Figures 12- 13, the latter at such level of the production line diverts from the predetermined rotation route of the other chain 292 of the couple. At the same time, when the two rotation routes of the single chains 292 divert, i.e. when the cavities 293a and the teeth 293b of a chain 292 move away from the ones of the other chain 292 of the couple, by means of a blade, not showed since it is totally conventional, an operation of cutting the strip 280 takes place, more precisely in correspondence of the sealing between the residual free portions where the primary surface 280a of the strip 280 is not sealed with the flange 206 of the pourer body of each device 201.

The above described operation is continuously repeated for each device 201 moving on the conveyor belt 280, thereby providing a plurality of devices 201 coupled with a portion of the strip 280 and sealed thereto. Finally, the above-mentioned step e') is operated as described for the previously described embodiment, i.e. dispensing a fluid product in a container, sealing the latter with one of the devices 201 , coupled to a portion of strip 280 according to the embodiment at issue in the previous step d'), and providing thereby a package substantially airtight with respect to the outside and watertight.

In conclusion, the method according to the present invention, especially the embodiment which envisages providing and subsequently processing a strip made of flexible double-sealing material, is extremely advantageous, since operations of sealing each opening and closing device to each single flexible container for fluid material are simplified.

Indeed, by means of a double-sealing film, which can be preferably provided in form of a strip, firstly the operations of sealing between the opening and closing device and the walls of the container at issue need less accuracy and, as a consequence, they contemplate a smaller error possibility by the machinery.

Such ease in performing is clear especially when sealing the primary surface of the film to the portion with peripheral extension of the pourer body of the opening and closing device: such sealing operation is definitely easier and more effective compared to direct sealing the base of the device and the end upper portions of the walls of the container, operation which commonly takes place with reference to the prior art.

In addition, in an extremely advantageous way, the method according to the present invention solves the problems of compatibility between the materials subjected to sealing which constitute the container and the pourer body of the opening and closing device; in fact, between said elements is interposed a film made of flexible double-sealing material which is compatible with both the walls of the container and with the base and the pourer body of the opening and closing device at issue.

Moreover, as disclosed in the summary, the compatibility between the double-sealing film and the container at issue can be further facilitated, together with the one between the double-sealing film and the opening and closing device, by making the double-sealing film with more layers, which are individually consisting of different materials.

With reference to Figures 16- 18, to open the package 99 according to the invention (first opening), it is sufficient for the consumer to turn the cap stopper 4 in a predetermined direction (for example the anticlockwise direction indicated by the arrow L), advantageously gripping on the knurling of the cylindrical shell 46, until reaching the lower end stop position of the eccentric blade 42 corresponding to the maximum advancement of said blade in the bag 50. This rotation entails the lowering of the spout 22 (Figure 17) with the relative blade 42 and of the cap stopper 4 rotatably integral therewith and the perforation of the film 80 by the blade 42 after the blade 42 has traversed the hole 1 1 of the base 2. In particular, the lowering of the spout 22 from the upper end stop entails the passage of its annular ridge below the lower annular ridge of the collar 5 (thanks to the force of the rotation and to the fact that the component material of the annular ridges has adequate elasticity) and ends on reaching of the lower end stop with the blocking of the spout 22 to the collar 5 by means of interlock coupling of the cylindrical shell 46 at its internal annular recess with the teeth 10 of the annular band 9.

At this point, continuing the rotation of the cap stopper 4 in the same direction (indicated as before by an arrow marked by the letter L in Figure 17) will cause the laceration of the ring 49 constituting the guarantee band and the cap stopper 4 can be unscrewed from the spout 22, thus accessing the content of the bag 50. The final result of the first opening of the package 99, after unscrewing the stopper 4, is showed in Figure 18.

It should also be noted that the package 99 can also be readily closed again given that the consumer, on each dispensing of a required quantity of the fluid product contained in the bag 50, can easily close again the package 99 by screwing the cap stopper 4 to the end upper portion 31 of the spout 22, the latter being restrained firmly in position by the interlock coupling of the cylindrical shell 46 at its internal annular recess with the teeth 10 of the annular band 9.