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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
SHOULDER DESIGN FOR TUBE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2000/013981
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed is a tube (10) for containing and dispensing contents, comprising: (a) a body portion (12); (b) a shoulder portion sealingly attached to the body portion, the shoulder portion and the body portion bounding a shoulder area (5) in the interior of the tube, and the shoulder portion provided with at least one extension (18) extending into the interior of the tube from the shoulder portion in the direction of the body portion; and (c) a nozzle (16) sealingly attached to the shoulder portion and provided with an orifice through which the contents can be dispensed; wherein the contents contained in the shoulder area of the tube are substantially prevented from being dispensed when the tube is squeezed.

Inventors:
Chan, John Geoffrey (Apt. 1307 T.P. Plaza 9/109 Liu Hua Road Guangzhou 0, 51001, CN)
Li LI. (2505 Tianli Building Wushan Road Tianhe District Guangzhou 0, 51063, CN)
Aubert, Lawrence Joseph (2041 Broadhurst Avenue Cincinnati, OH, 45240, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US1999/020108
Publication Date:
March 16, 2000
Filing Date:
September 03, 1999
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (One Procter & Gamble Plaza Cincinnati, OH, 45202, US)
Chan, John Geoffrey (Apt. 1307 T.P. Plaza 9/109 Liu Hua Road Guangzhou 0, 51001, CN)
Li LI. (2505 Tianli Building Wushan Road Tianhe District Guangzhou 0, 51063, CN)
Aubert, Lawrence Joseph (2041 Broadhurst Avenue Cincinnati, OH, 45240, US)
International Classes:
B65D35/12; B65D35/24; (IPC1-7): B65D35/12; B65D35/24
Foreign References:
EP0351927A2
EP0351926A2
US4493439A
AT340307B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reed, David T. (The Procter & Gamble Company 5299 Spring Grove Avenue Cincinnati, OH, 45217-1087, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A tube for containing and dispensing a contents, comprising: (a) a body portion; (b) a shoulder portion sealingly attached to the body portion, the shoulder portion and the body portion bounding a shoulder area in the interior of the tube, and the shoulder portion provided with at least one extension extending into the interior of the tube from the shoulder portion in the direction of the body portion; and (c) a nozzle sealingly attached to the shoulder portion and provided with an orifice through which the contents can be dispensed; wherein the contents contained in the shoulder area of the tube are substantially prevented from being dispensed when the tube is squeezed.
2. The tube of claim 1 wherein the extension has a tapered shape.
3. The tube of claim 1 wherein the body portion has a diameter and the extension has a length of between about 3 mm and about the diameter of the body portion.
4. The tube of claim 1 wherein each of the orifice and the extension has a diameter, the diameter of the extension being about equal to or greater than the diameter of the orifice.
5. The tube of claim 1 wherein the extension is comprised of at least one ring radially extending from an imaginary centerline longitudinally drawn through the tube body from the center of the nozzle orifice.
6. The tube of claim 1 wherein the extension extends into the interior of the tube in a direction parallel to an interior wall of the nozzle.
7. The tube of claim 1 wherein the extension is formed at an angle of up to about 60 degrees formed with respect to an imaginary line drawn in the longitudinal direction of the tube from an interior wall of the nozzle.
8. The tube of claim 1 wherein the extension has a tip, the tip being formed at an angle of up to about 45 degrees with respect to an imaginary line drawn in the longitudinal direction of the tube from the extension.
9. The tube of claim 1 wherein the contents is a dentifrice.
10. The tube of claim 1 wherein the shoulder portion, the extension, and the nozzle are formed from a unitary piece of material.
Description:
SHOULDER DESIGN FOR TUBE FIELD The present invention relates to a shoulder design for tubes. More specifically, the present invention relates to a shoulder design for tubes wherein the dispensed amount of the product contained in the shoulder area of the tube is minimized, and is particularly useful for tubes containing dentifrice compositions such as toothpastes.

BACKGROUND Packaging for consumer products has previously been provided in the form of tubes and has been used to contain various types of products, e. g., food products, hair care products, cosmetic products, and dentifrice compositions such as toothpastes, gels, or combinations containing part paste and part gel.

Such tubes are generally formed with a shoulder area at which the tube body narrows down to a nozzle having an orifice that can be resealably closed or capped. When a user desires to dispense a certain amount of the product contained in the tube, he or she simply removes the cap, squeezes the tube until the desired amount of product is dispensed through the orifice in the nozzle, then replaces the cap for storage purposes. In standard tubes, the product is generally dispensed in a"plug flow"manner, i. e., the product located immediately below the nozzle is dispensed first, with the rest of the product gradually becoming mixed into the dispensing flow as the tube is squeezed during subsequent uses.

For containing dentifrice products, tubes formed from laminates comprising plastics such as polyethylenes, and sometimes additionally containing a foil or acetate layer, have previously been provided. The dentifrice

products contained therein typically include flavor additives for enhancing consumer acceptance of the product, in addition to the effective ingredients that promote oral health. However, the dentifrice contained in such laminate tubes may lose some of this flavor due to absorption and transmission losses into the packaging materials that comprise the tube.

This flavor loss effect tends to be particularly pronounced for the portion of the dentifrice that is contained in the shoulder area of the tube, which is also the portion that is first dispensed by the user. This is due to the fact that the flavor migration rate of the product in the shoulder area of the tube tends to be slower than that of its transmission rate though the shoulder material. Thus, a loss or alteration of the original flavor characteristic can be perceived by many consumers, especially for product dispensed during the first few squeezes of the tube. As a result, the consumer's perception of the product or the brand as a whole may be significantly and negatively influenced during the initial uses of the product, despite the fact that the original flavor characteristic of the remainder of the product is substantially unaffected.

Based on the foregoing, there is a need for a tube in which the flow of the product contained in the shoulder area of the tube can effectively be minimized, especially such that perceptible differences in the flavor of a dentifrice product contained in the various areas of such a tube are minimized. None of the existing art provides all of the advantages and benefits of the present invention.

SUMMARY The present invention is directed to a tube for containing and dispensing a contents, comprising: (a) a body portion; (b) a shoulder portion sealingly attached to the body portion, the shoulder portion and the body portion bounding a shoulder area in the interior of the tube, and the shoulder portion provided with at least one extension extending into the interior of the tube from the shoulder portion in the direction of the body portion; and (c) a nozzle sealingly attached to the shoulder portion and provided with an orifice through which the contents can be dispensed; wherein the contents contained in the shoulder area of the tube are substantially prevented from being dispensed when the tube is squeezed.

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the invention will become evident to those skilled in the art from a reading of the present disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS While the specification conclues with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the invention, it is believed that the present invention will be better understood from the following description of preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify identical elements and wherein: Fig. 1 shows a partial sectional view of a preferred embodiment of the tube of the present invention; Figs. 2a-c show a qualitative comparison of the initial dispensing of a dentifrice from a conventional tube and from a tube according to the present invention; Figs. 3-7 show partial sectional views of addition preferred embodiments of the tube of the present invention; and Fig. 8 is a graphical representation of the percentage of flavor additive present per dispensed gram of a dentifrice, showing conventional tube profiles and a profile for a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Although the following detailed description is given primarily in the context of a tube for containing a dentifrice product, it will be understood that the tube may be useful for containing and dispensing other products where it is desirable to prevent the portion of the product contained in the shoulder area from being dispensed, for example, food products, hair care products, cosmetic products, and the like. In addition, the use of the term"dentifrice"herein should be understood to non-limitingly include oral care compositions such as toothpastes, gels, and combinations of such pastes and gels.

The tube of the present invention is desirably provided with a cap to protect the contents from exposure to the atmosphere when the tube is not in use. Any type of cap or lid that is resealably fitted to the tube nozzle may be used with the tube of the present invention, for example, a screw-on type cap.

The cap may further be provided with a flip-open top for more convenient consumer use.. For ease of illustration, the cap is not shown in the accompanying Figures.

Referring to Fig. 1, a partial cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of the tube of the present invention is shown. The tube 10 is generally comprised of a tube body portion 12, a shoulder portion 14, and a nozzte 16. The nozzle 16 is provided with an orifice 20 through which the product is dispensed when the tube body 12 is squeezed by the user. The nozzle 16 may be provided with threads 22 in order to facilitate the fitting of a cap (not shown) to the nozzle 16.

The tube body 12 may be comprised of any materials known to those of skill in the art that provide adequate storage of the dentifrice or other product contained in the tube. The materials comprising the body 12 should have no reaction with the components that comprise the contents, such that the contents could be rendered unsafe or otherwise unsuitable for consumer use. They should, of course, also be durable enough to withstand normal consumer use without leakage, tearing or breakage, etc.

For containing a dentifrice product, non-limiting examples of suitable materials from which the tube body 12 may be comprised include polyethylenes, such as low density polyethylene ("LDPE"), linear low density polyethylene ("LLDPE"), and high density polyethylene ("HDPE"), ethylene acrylic acid ("EAA"), foils, such as aluminum foil, or any of the above materials in any combination, for example, formed as a laminate structure.

The shoulder portion 14 is attached to the tube body 12 in continuous bonded or sealed contact such that the contents of the tube are prevented from leaking out at this juncture. The nozzle 16 and the shoulder 14 are preferably continuously formed from a unitary piece of material (e. g., by injection molding) as shown in the Figures; alternatively, they may be comprised of separate pieces fused or otherwise securely attached to each other by any means known to those of skill in the art. In addition, the nozzle 16 and the shoulder 14 preferably have the same material composition, but alternatively may be comprised of different material compositions. Non-limiting examples of suitable materials from which the shoulder portion 14 and the nozzle 16 may be comprised include the polyethylenes described above.

The shoulder portion 14 is further comprised of an inward extension 18.

Preferably, the inward extension 18, the shoulder 14, and the nozzle 16 are all formed from a unitary piece of material (e. g., by injection molding) as shown in the Figures; alternatively, they may be comprised of separate pieces fused or

otherwise securely attached to each other by any means known to those of skill in the art. In addition, they preferably have the same material composition, but alternatively may be comprised of differing material compositions. At least one extension 18 is located in the interior of the tube 10, and extends from the shoulder portion 14 in the general direction of the body portion 12 (as opposed to extending in the general direction of the nozzle 16). This extension 18 may be provided in various configurations, as will be explained in greater detail below.

The extension 18 functions as a baffle or funnel that permits the portion of the contents contained in the central region C of the tube 10 (i. e., generally under the nozzle 16) to be dispensed, while substantially preventing the contents contained in the shoulder areas S (i. e., the interior region of the tube that is generally bounded by the body portion and the shoulder portion) from being dispensed, when the tube 10 is squeezed by the user. Without the extension 18, content contained in the shoulder areas S is free to mix into the dispensing flow.

Thus, the extension 18 maintains a static layer of the contents in the shoulder areas S.

In the context of a dentifrice product contained in a conventional dentifrice tube, the overall flavor characteristic of the product tends to be diminished as a result of the absorption and transmission of the flavor additive into the packaging materials such as the tube laminate, the shoulder, and the barrier insert. In addition, some flavor additives are comprised of several different components, and in such cases, there may be uneven rates of migration between these various components to the tube packaging materials. This causes a loss of the original flavor characteristic. In conventional tubes, the portion of the dentifrice that is most likely to have a diminished overall flavor and/or a loss of the original flavor characteristic is located in the shoulder areas S.

In the conventional tubes, the amount of flavor that is lost to transmission in the shoulder areas S tends to be particularly noticeable within the first 5-10 uses of the dentifrice. Thus, the consumer's first impression of the dentifrice product as a whole may be a negative one. This is especially undesirable since the initial uses of the product form a consumer's"first impression", and a negative first impression tends to adversely effect a consumer's opinion of the total product and of the overall brand.

The lack of or alteration of flavor at initial use is particularly noticeable in smaller tube sizes, e. g., 10g, 20g, 40g, and may be intensified during storage time before purchase and use. For the foregoing reasons, it is highly desirable to prevent the dentifrice contained in the shoulder area from being dispensed.

The design of the tube 10 of the present invention can substantially prevent the flow of the dentifrice contained in the shoulder area from dispensing out or mixing with the rest of the product. The extension 18 creates a static layer of dentifrice in the shoulder area S that is not dispensed as the tube 10 is squeezed. This static layer is comprised of the dentifrice that has experienced a loss and/or alteration of the original flavor characteristic due to migration and transmission of the flavor additive. Thus, by preventing that portion of the product from being dispensed, the tubes 10 of the present invention provide a truer and more uniform flavor characteristic to the user throughout the entire usage cycle of the tube 10.

The above-described phenomena can be qualitatively represented as follows. First, a conventional tube without an extension 18 is filled with colored gel G in the shoulder area, and with white paste W in the remainder of the tube.

The colored gel G represents that portion of the dentifrice that has a noticeable flavor loss or alteration of flavor characteristic, which is desired to be maintained within the tube (i. e., not dispensed). The white paste W represents the portion of the dentifrice having the full amount of original flavor characteristic and desired for dispensing. A tube filled in such a manner is represented in Fig. 2a.

Upon the initial dispensing from a conventional tube 100, represented in Fig. 2b, nearly all of the content dispensed from the tube 100 comprises the colored gel G. In addition, even past the initial dispensing, the white paste W that is later dispensed is coated with colored gel G at its periphery. Without being bound by theory, it is believed that the colored gel G continues to coat the white paste W for at least the initial 10 grams of dispensing. This indicates that dentifrice having a reduced or altered flavor characteristic is being dispensed for at least the first 5-10 consumer uses of the product. Depending on the amount of dentifrice a particular consumer prefers to dispense per use, the above- described effect may continue for a longer period of time.

In contrast, as shown in Fig. 2c, when the same procedure is carried out using the tube 10 of the present invention, almost no colored gel G is squeezed out during the initial dispensing. And, upon continued dispensing, there is no

colored gel G coating the white paste W at its periphery. This indicates that the colored gel G, i. e, the portion of the dentifrice in the shoulder area that loses or changes flavor, is successfully contained in the shoulder area S when the tube 10 of the present invention is used.

Many other preferred embodiments of the present invention in which the tube 10 is provided with the inward extension 18 are possible. The following non- limiting description illustrates additional preferred embodiments of the present invention.

Fig. 3 shows a preferred embodiment in which the extension 18 is of a tapered shape to provide it with a degree of flexibility. This shape can provide those users who do wish to dispense all of the product contained in the tube (i. e., those who do not want the product contained in the shoulder area to be left in the tube upon disposal) with the option of squeezing down the shoulder portion 14 to completely dispense the product in the shoulder areas S. Preferably, the tapered shaped is formed such that the extensions 18 can readily collapse when pressure is exerted at the shoulder portion 14.

Fig. 4 shows a preferred embodiment in which the extension 18 has dimensions defined by the overall tube dimensions. Without being bound by theory, and depending on size of the tube and the size of the nozzle opening, it is believed that the length c of the extension 18 can desirably be a minimum of 3 mm in length, and up to a maximum length equal to the diameter"d"of the body portion 12 of the tube. The diameter"e"of the extension 18 can desirably be equal to or greater than the tube's orifice diameter"f.

Figs. 5a-c show preferred embodiments in which the extension 18 is provided in the form of at least one ring 18. As shown in Figs. 5a-c, multiple rings 18a-c may be provided, each ring having a corresponding radius Ra-c that emanates outward from an imaginary centerline 25 longitudinally drawn through the tube 10 from the center of the nozzle orifice. Although the rings 18a-c are shown to be concentric and uniformly spaced from each other, the location, shape, and spacing of each ring 18a-c may be varied. For example, the shape may be circular, triangular, oval, square, or any other shape, and may be symmetrical or non-symmetrical. The rings 18a-c can be non-continuous (see rings 18b and 18c as shown in Fig. 5b), or continuous (see rings 18a-c as shown in Fig. 5c), or a combination of continuous and non-continuous rings (as shown in Fig. 5b). In addition, although three rings 18a-c are shown in Fig. 5, it should be

understood that the preferred embodiments of the present invention are not limited to three in number and may contain a larger or a smaller number of rings 18.

In the previously described preferred embodiments of the present invention, for example as shown in Fig. 5a, the extension 18 (or the multiple extensions 18) extends into the interior of the tube in a direction that is parallel to the nozzle 16 (and also parallel to the imaginary centerline 25 longitudinally drawn through the tube 10 from the center of the nozzle orifice). In the preferred embodiments shown in Figs. 6a and 6b, the extensions 18 are not parallel to the nozzle 16. Instead, the extensions 18 are provided at an angle a formed with respect to an imaginary line 27 drawn in the longitudinal direction of the tube 10 from the interior wall 16a of the nozzle 16. Preferably, the angle a may extend up to 60 degrees in either direction with respect to the imaginary line 27. For example, Fig. 6a shows the extension 18 angled toward the imaginary centerline 25, while Fig. 6b shows the extension 18 angled toward the body portion 12.

Without being bound by theory, it is believed that 60 degrees is an approximate functional maximum that if exceeded, may cause difficulties in the releasing the tube from the injection molding equipment that is typically used in the manufacture of the tube.

Figs. 7a and 7b illustrate preferred embodiments in which the extension 18 is further provided with a tip 19. The tip 19 is provided at an angle ß formed with respect to an imaginary line 29 drawn in the longitudinal direction of the tube from the extension 18. The ang) e p is preferably up to about 45 degrees with respect to the line 29. The tip 19 may be oriented in either direction with respect to the imaginary line 29. For example, Fig. 7a shows the tip 19 angled toward the body portion 12, while Fig. 7b shows the extension 18 angled toward the imaginary centerline 25. Without being bound by theory, it is believed that 45 degrees represents an approximate functional maximum that if exceeded, may cause difficulties in the releasing the tube from the injection molding equipment that is typically used in the manufacture of the tube. It should also be understood that the tip 19 may be provided with any of the preferred embodiments of the extension described herein and is not limited to the angled embodiments.

In addition to preventing the dentifrice contained in the shoulder area of the tube from being dispensed, use of the preferred embodiments of the present

invention can also provide lowered packaging costs. Conventional dentifrice tubes generally contain a barrier insert in the shoulder area, which is intended to provide oxygen and flavor barrier properties to the tube. This barrier insert is typically a pre-molded piece that is placed on a heading tool before the tube body portion itself is put in position. The barrier insert is often made of polybutylene terphthalate, which can withstand the injection pressures and temperatures of the heading plastic, and does not crack in the head. The head plastic portion of the tube, which is generally made of HDPE, locks the barrier insert in position as it is bonded to the remainder of the tube body portion.

These barrier inserts tend to be costly, and therefore the overall package cost is increased when they are used.

In the tube of the present invention, this costly barrier insert can be eliminated. The barrier insert is intended to help lessen the effects of the flavor inconsistencies by lessening the transmission of the flavor through the tube walls; however, the barrier insert itself still tends to absorb the flavor. Thus, it is not truly effective for preventing flavor inconsistency or alteration. The preferred embodiments of the present invention are believed to better serve the purpose of preventing flavor inconsistency or alteration, thereby eliminating the need for the barrier insert.

EXAMPLES The following examples further describe and demonstrate embodiments within the scope of the present invention. The examples are given solely for the purpose of illustration and are not to be construed as limitations of the present invention, as many variations hereof are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The following example represents a 20 gram size dentifrice tube. The percentage of flavor additive present at a given number of grams dispensed after the indicated period of storage time at the indicated temperature is measured for tubes of three constructions: (1)"With Extension"refers to a tube constructed according to the present invention; (2)"With Insert"refers to a conventional tube provided with a barrier insert; and (3)"Without Insert"refers to a conventional tube in which the barrier insert has been removed but which is not provided with an extension according to the present invention.

The same dentifrice formulation is used in all tubes. Herein,"% Flavor" refers to amount of flavor additive by weight of total composition. Initial weight percent of flavor additive present in the dentifrice formulation at the outset of storage is 1.0%.

Herein,"accelerated condition"refers to storage of a sample for specified number of months at 40°C. Such a condition is believed to be representative of a certain shelf life period at ambient conditions. For example,"1.5 months, accelerated conditionn is believed to be representative of a 1 year shelf life; and "4.5 months, accelerated condition"is believed to be representative of a 3 year shelf life.

Example: 20 gram tube, 1.5 months accelerated condition Grams Dispensed % Flavor-With % Flavor-With % Flavor-Without Extension Insert Insert 1 0. 821 0. 798 0.710 2 0. 948 0. 929 0.877 3 0. 960 0. 944 0.883 4 0. 962 0. 947 0.870 5 0. 960 0. 943 0.877 6 0. 947 0. 936 0.875 7 0. 919 0. 928 0.886 80.9000.9210.885 9 0. 882 0. 913 0.900 10 0. 857 0. 899 0.894 11 0. 832 0. 890 0.879 12 0. 825 0. 894 0.819 13 0. 839 0. 877 0.854 14 0. 814 0. 835 0.844

The foregoing Example is graphically represented in Fig. 8, in which the tube provided"With Extension"is represented by the circular-shaped data points, the conventional tube"With Insert"is represented by the diamond-shaped data points, and the conventional tube"Without Inserts ils represented by the triangular-shaped data points.

From Fig. 8, it can be seen that for at least about the first seven grams of dentifrice dispensed from the tubes, the tube 10 of the present invention permits

greater retention of the flavor additive than either of the other two conventional tube designs.

Although small package sizes such as 20g tubes are believed to represent the most severe case of flavor transmission and consequent flavor loss or alteration, it is further believed that larger tube sizes, e. g., 40g or 120g, would exhibit flavor profiles similar to that shown in Fig. 8, i. e., about the same amount of flavor loss would be expected. This may be explained as follows. The tube diameter is typically the same for a 20g dentifrice tube and a 40g dentifrice tube, and the diameter of a 120g dentifrice tube is typically only slightly larger than that of a 20g tube. Of course, the respective lengths of these tube sizes differ.

However, the diameter in the shoulder area is believed to be the most relevant dimension in determining the amount of dentifrice product that experiences the flavor loss or alteration. Without being bound by theory, it is believed that about the same amount of product would experience the flavor loss or alteration regardless of the tube volume, and that this amount would simply represent a greater overall percentage of the product contained in the tube for the smaller tube sizes. Thus, the preferred embodiments of the present invention are believed to provide similar advantages for any such tube size.

The embodiments represented by the previous examples have many advantages. For example, they can provide an improved product in which consumers can enjoy a pleasant, uniform flavor characteristic throughout the entire usage cycle of the product, from beginning to end. Lowered product cost is also possible, as there is no need to add more flavor to the dentifrice to compensate for the flavor loss in the product near the shoulder area. Elimination of the need for the barrier insert may reduce the overall packaging costs and is further believed to be environmentally-friendly. In addition, since some flavor additives escape very easily through insertless tubes, indicating that consumers may easily perceive a loss of original flavor characteristic, some dentifrice formulations cannot be placed in insertless tubes. However, all formulations may be provided in an equally advantageous manner when using the tubes according to the present invention.

As used herein the term"comprising"means that other steps and other ingredients which do not affect the end result can be added. This term encompasses the terms"consisting of"and"consisting essentially of." It is understood that the examples and embodiments described herein are for illustrative purposes only and that various modifications or changes in light thereof will be suggested to one skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention.