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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
SQUEEZABLE TWO-PIECE STAND-UP TUBE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/095313
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A container including a top piece, a bottom piece and a joining region. The top piece includes a tubular side wall formed from a first material, a dome covering one end of the tubular side wall of the top piece, and a hinged interconnection formed between the dome and the tubular side wall of the top piece. The bottom piece includes a tubular side wall formed from a second material. The joining region is formed between the top piece and the bottom piece for joining the top piece to the bottom piece.

Inventors:
Gomez, Norberto Oscar (Avenida del Fundador 1400, 5700 San Luis, AR)
Berrittella, Rafael Francisco (Luis Guillon, Teniente Ford 1515, 1838 Buenos Aires, AR)
Geoffrey, Richard LU. (313 Meadowcroft Lane, Lutherville, MD, 21093, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2003/013715
Publication Date:
November 20, 2003
Filing Date:
May 02, 2003
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Graham Packaging, Company L. P. (2401 Pleasant Valley Road, York, PA, 17402, US)
Gomez, Norberto Oscar (Avenida del Fundador 1400, 5700 San Luis, AR)
Berrittella, Rafael Francisco (Luis Guillon, Teniente Ford 1515, 1838 Buenos Aires, AR)
Geoffrey, Richard LU. (313 Meadowcroft Lane, Lutherville, MD, 21093, US)
International Classes:
B65B3/16; B65D1/00; B65D33/16; B65D35/44; B65D35/48; B65D51/18; B65D; (IPC1-7): B65D/
Foreign References:
US3326421A1967-06-20
US5226551A1993-07-13
US2628909A1953-02-17
US2758755A1956-08-14
US3599845A1971-08-17
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Burdett, James R. (VENABLE LLP, 575 7th Street NW, P.O. Box 3438, Washington DC, 20043-9998, US)
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Claims:
Claims:
1. An arrangement comprising: a top piece comprising: a tubular side wall formed from a first material; a dome covering one end of the tubular side wall of the top piece; and a hinged interconnection formed between the dome and the tubular side wall of the top piece; a bottom piece comprising: a tubular side wall formed from a second material; and a joining region formed between the top piece and the bottom piece for joining the top piece to the bottom piece.
2. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the top piece further comprises a neck finish formed on the dome, the neck finish having an opening.
3. The arrangement of claim 2, further comprising a cap having threads for twist closure with the neck finish.
4. The arrangement of claim 2, further comprising a cap having an opening and a post, wherein the post fits with the opening of the neck finish for opening or closing the opening of the neck finish.
5. The arrangement of claim 4, wherein the cap further comprises: a radially surrounding side wall; a top that radially extends from the opening of the cap to an end of the top at the sidewall of the cap; and a support structure supporting the post in a spaced position from the cap opening, where an outline of the support structure forms a passageway between the cap opening and a hollow space within the cap.
6. The arrangment of claim 5, wherein the cap further comprises: an internal cap ring formed on an inner surface of the side wall of the cap.
7. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the second material is different from the first material.
8. The arrangement of claim 7, wherein the second material has a different color than the first material.
9. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the second material is a same material as the first material.
10. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the joining region is a welded region.
11. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the bottom piece further comprises a sealed seam to form a sealed end of the tubular side wall of the bottom piece.
12. The arrangement of claim 11, wherein the bottom piece is filled with a product and the top piece further comprises a neck finish having an opening for dispensing the product.
13. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein the top piece comprises a standing ring formed between the hinged interconnection and the tubular side wall of the top piece, the arrangement is capable of standingup on the standing ring when the dome is in an inwardly projecting position so that the dome is below a cross sectional plane of the standing ring.
14. A method of making an arrangement, comprising: forming a top piece comprising: a tubular side wall formed from a first material; a dome covering one end of the tubular side wall of the top piece; and a hinged interconnection formed between the dome and the tubular side wall of the top piece; separately forming a bottom piece comprising: a tubular side wall formed from a second material; and joining the top piece to the bottom piece.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the molding a top piece further comprises molding a neck finish on the dome and creating an opening on the neck finish.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising fitting a cap on the neck finish, the cap having threads for twistclosure with the neck finish.
17. The method of claim 15, further comprising fitting a cap on the neck finish, the cap having an opening and a post, wherein the post fits with the opening of the neck finish for opening or closing the opening of the neck finish.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the cap further comprises: a radially surrounding side wall; a top that radially extends from the opening of the cap to an end of the top at the sidewall of the cap; and a support structure supporting the post in a spaced position from the cap opening, where an outline of the support structure forms a passageway between the cap opening and a hollow space within the cap.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein the cap further comprises: an internal cap ring formed on an inner surface of the side wall of the cap.
20. The method of claim 14, wherein the second material is different from the first material.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the second material has a different color than the first material.
22. The method of claim 14, wherein the second material is a same material as the first material.
23. The method of claim 14, wherein the joining comprises welding the top piece to the bottom piece.
24. The method of claim 15, further comprising filling the bottom piece with a product.
25. The method of claim 24, further comprising sealing an open end of the bottom piece with a seam.
26. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming a top piece comprises forming a standing ring between the hinged interconnection and the tubular side wall of the top piece and the arrangement is capable of standingup on the standing ring when the dome is in an inwardly projecting position so that the dome is below a cross sectional plane of the standing ring.
27. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming a top piece comprises at least one of compression molding and injection molding.
28. The method of claim 14, wherein the forming a bottom piece comprises extrusion molding the bottom piece.
Description:
SQUEEZABLE TWO-PIECE STAND-UP TUBE FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a squeezable two-piece stand-up tube.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Various products, such as beverages, are sold to consumers in flexible plastic pouches. For example ; U. S. Patent Nos. 5,941, 642 issued to Darmstadter, 5,884, 758 issued to Sigouin et al. , 5,860, 743 issued to Larkin et al. , 5,782, 344 issued to Edwards et al.,<BR> 5,350, 240 and 5,018, 646 issued to Billman et al. , 4,806, 021 issued to Koudstaal et al. , and 5,937, 617 issued to Yeager disclose flexible squeezable pouch containers for fluid or viscous food products. Most of the disclosed pouches require the use of a straw and are free standing on an end thereof in an upright position. All of the disclosed pouches are formed from sheet material which is folded at one end and fused together along the remaining confronting edges.

Another similar type of container typically utilized for packaging personal care or cosmetic products, such as toothpaste and lotions, is a squeezable tube-shaped container having a tubular body with one end heat-sealed along a straight line seam.

For instance, U. S. Patent Nos. 5,632, 951 issued to Smith, 3,197, 532 issued to Maass, 5,908, 124 issued to Klauke et al. and 5,213, 235 issued to Miranda disclose the use of blow molding techniques for forming tube-shaped containers. In addition, the Klauke patent discloses the formation of an integral twist-off closure to eliminate the need for providing a separately manufactured closure. U. S. Patent No. 4,540, 542 discloses a method of making an extrusion blow molded container with an integral removable closure, and U. S. Patent No.

5,141, 136 discloses a squeeze bottle having dual openings.

Another method for making a container for packaging a fluid, such as a carbonated beverage, is disclosed by U. S. Patent Nos. 4,529, 108 and 4,619, 797 issued to Chlystun. The method includes blow molding a container body with an open end and a closed end.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Although the above referenced, squeezable pouch, tube-shaped and other containers and methods for their manufacture may function satisfactorily for their intended purposes, there is a need for a novel squeezable plastic tube-shaped container which has a cost- effective two-piece construction and which can be utilized to efficiently package liquid products such as juice and other beverages, viscous products such as yogurt, applesauce,

pudding, lotions, and hand soaps, and solid products such as small bead-shaped pieces of candy or the like.

Thus, the present invention is directed to a container including a top piece, a bottom piece and a joining region. The top piece includes a tubular side wall formed of a first material, a dome covering one end of the tubular side wall of the top piece, and a hinged interconnection formed between the dome and the tubular side wall of the top piece. The bottom piece includes a tubular side wall formed from a second material. The joining region is formed between the top piece and the bottom piece for joining the top piece to the bottom piece. Preferably, the container can have a closed end providing a dispensing opening and a filling end which is sealed with a seam after filling. The tube-shaped container is capable of being free standing on its dispensing end and can be flexible to permit dispensing of its contents by squeezing of its side wall. In addition, when the container contents are food or drink, the dispensing end can be protected from contamination and/or unrecognizable tampering before ultimate consumer purchase and use.

Finally, the container can be formed of a plastic material, readily recyclable, capable of being manufactured in a cost effective manner, and adaptable to being made of different colors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The foregoing description of the invention will be apparent from the following, more particular description of an embodiment of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a squeezable container according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a squeezable container with a dome placed in an outwardly projecting position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 1 taken along line 3--3.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 1 in which the container is being grasped and squeezed and the cap is being removed.

FIG. 5 is an elevational view illustrating the method steps of filling and sealing the open end of the container to form a filled squeezable container.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a squeezable container having a neck finish and a cap according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Embodiments of the invention are discussed in detail below. In describing embodiments, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected. While specific exemplary embodiments are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations can be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates a squeezable tube-shaped container 110 embodying the present invention. The container 110 has a two-piece construction with a top piece 111 and a bottom piece 113. Each of the top piece 111 and the bottom piece 113 can be formed of any suitable material including, e. g. , plastic material. Suitable plastic material can include a monolayer plastic material, such as LDPE, or a multilayer plastic material. The top piece <BR> <BR> 111 can be formed of a material different (i. e. , any physical difference including color,<BR> material, texture, etc. ) from a material of the bottom piece 113. For example, the top piece 111 can have a different color, a different transparency or a different decorative appearance than the bottom piece. The top piece 111 can also be formed from the same material used for the bottom piece 113. Regardless of which materials are used for the top and the bottom pieces, each piece can have an in-mold or other labels applied to its surface while the other piece can be plain. Each of the top piece 111 and the bottom piece 113 can be formed by any suitable method in the art including, but not limited to extrusion, extrusion blow molding, stretch blow molding, injection molding, injection blow molding and compression molding. For example, the top piece 111 can be used by compression molding and/or injection molding and the bottom piece 113 can be formed by blow molding.

Turning first to the structural aspects of the tube-shaped container 110, it has a top piece 111 and a bottom piece 113, which are joined by a joining region 122. The joining region 122 can be formed by any method for joining, including welding, spin-welding, ultra- sonic welding, gluing, etc. The joining region 122 can be circumferential and can be spaced distantly from the standing ring 120. The joining region can prevent ovalization of a standing ring 120 and can reinforce the adjacent sections of the side wall 115 of the top piece 111 and the side wall 112 of the bottom piece 113. The joining region 122 joins the side wall 115 of the top piece 111 to the side wall 112 of the bottom piece 113. The side wall 115 of the top piece 111 can be substantially tubular and can have a circular transverse

cross section. The side wall 115 can be flexible and can be bounded by a circular standing ring 120 on which the container 110 can be freely stood with the seam 118 facing upwardly.

The side wall 112 of the bottom piece 113 can be flexible and can be flattened into the seam 118 at its bottom to provide a conventional tube-shaped configuration. The side wall 112 of the bottom piece 113 can have a label 124 applied during or after the forming stage of the bottom piece.

The bottom piece 113 can be manufactured with an open bottom end which is utilized to fill the container 110 and is thereafter sealed to preferably form a seam 118 as illustrated in FIG. 1. The seam 118 can be of any shape including a planar, straight or curved seam. The sealing can be done by any method for sealing, including heat sealing, compression sealing, and glueing.

As shown in FIG. 2, the top piece 111 has a dome 126 covering one end of the tubular side wall 115, and a hinged interconnection 134 formed between the dome 126 and the tubular side wall 115. The dome 126 can be of any geometrical shape, including spherical, cubical, and pyramidical shapes, that creates a convex section in an outwardly projecting position of the dome 126 and can be easily inverted into a corresponding concave section in an inwardly projecting position of the dome 126 by flipping the dome about the hinged interconnection 134 between the standing ring 120 and the dome 126. The dome 126 can be first formed in an outwardly projecting position.

On the dome 126, a neck finish 132 can be formed, wherein the neck finish 132 has an opening via which a product inside the container 110 can be dispensed. The opening of the neck finish 132 extends completely through the neck finish 132 and can be created by various methods. For example, the opening of the neck finish 132 can be created by forming a protrusion that extends out of the neck finish 132 at the time the neck finish 132 is formed and trimming the protrusion subsequently to create the opening. Alternatively, the opening of the neck finish 132 can be created by reaming an opening into the neck finish 132. Still another exemplary method of creating the opening of the neck finish 132 is by using the opening in a blow molded container as a blow hole or needle insertion point to blow-mold the rest of the neck finish. In any of these embodiments, the opening of the neck finish 132 can be reamed subsequently to form a smooth finish. The neck finish 132 can be any type including a threaded type for twist-closure as shown in FIG. 2, a snap-fit type, a friction-fit type, a push-pull type, etc. The neck finish 132 can be fitted with a cap 130, which can be formed from a material that is the same as or different from a material used for

the top piece 111. Alternatively, the neck finish 132 can be replaced by any other structure having an opening, including a simple opening in the dome 126. The cap can be any type that accommodates a corresponding neck finish, including a threaded type as shown in FIG.

2, a snap-fit type, a friction-fit type, a push-pull type, etc.

In FIG. 3, the dome 126 is provided in an inwardly projecting position so that the dome 126, the neck finish 132 and the cap 130 lie below a cross-sectional plane"P" extending through the standing ring 120. Thus, the dome 126 has a concave shape and can be said to be in a storage position since the dome 126 and the cap 130 do not interfere with the free standing of the container 110 on the standing ring 120 and permit a tamper indicating covering 128 to be bonded to the standing ring 120 as best illustrated in FIG. 3.

The covering 128 can be a foil or other sheet-like covering and can be utilized to prevent contamination or unrecognizable tampering of the neck finish 132 and the cap 130 of the container 110 before its removal by the purchasing consumer. Thus, when the dome 126 is is in an inwardly projecting position, the tamper indicating covering 128 can be bonded to the standing ring 20.

In FIG. 4, the hinged interconnection 134 can be formed from a material that is the same as or is different from a material of the top piece 111 and can be of any type that. allows the dome 126 to freely interchange between an outwardly projecting position and an inwardly projecting position, including a live hinge. Thus, in use, when the covering 128 is removed and the flexible side wall 112 is grasped and squeezed, the dome 126 extends to an outwardly projecting position. This elevates the cap to a readily accessible location for removal by a user to thereby expose an opening of the neck finish 132. Thereafter, a desired quantity of the product inside the container 110 can be dispensed by squeezing the side wall 112 of the bottom piece 113.

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary method of filling the container 110 with products and an exemplary method of creating a seam to close the container 110, according to an exemplary method of creating a filled container 110. After placing the dome of the container 110 from the as formed outwardly projecting position to an inwardly projecting position, an open end of the bottom piece of the container 110 can be filled (e. g. , a step X in<BR> FIG. 5) with a product and sealed (e. g. , a step Y in FIG. 5) with a seam. Alternatively, the container 110 can also be filled while the dome is in an outwardly projecting position.

FIG. 6 illustrates an alternate embodiment of a neck finish and a cap of a container 110 according to the present invention. The container 110 in FIG. 6 is identical to the

embodiment disclosed in FIG. 3, except for the neck finish 232 and the cap 230 in FIG. 6.

All of the previous discussion of the container 110 as discussed with respect to FIGS. 1-5 applies to the embodiment in FIG. 6 except where inconsistencies may arise. The neck finish 232 has an opening 248, which extends completely through the neck finish 232. The neck finish 232 can have a neck ring formed near the top of the neck finish 232. The cap 230 can have a radially surrounding side wall and a top that radially extends from a substantially central opening to the side wall of the cap. In the embodiment shown, the top of the cap 230 is a radial ramp and forms a ledge beyond the side wall of the cap. The ramp can have a linear slope as shown or a curved non-linear slope that can be concave or convex.

Alternatively, the top of the cap 230 can be any structure other than the depicted radial ramp, including a flat-spherical, square, rectangular or triangular structure. The post 245 is supported by a support structure internally within the cap 230, and outlines of the support structure and the post 245 form a passageway between the cap opening and a hollow space within the cap. The cap 230 has a cap ring formed at the bottom to operate as a sealing element with the neck finish 232 and also operate as a stopping element by engaging with the neck ring of the neck finish 232 when the cap 230 is pulled up from the neck finish 232.

When the cap 230 is pulled up from the neck finish 232 to release the post 245 from a position where the post 245 is blocking the opening 248 of the neck finish, a product of the container 110 can be released via the opening 248 of the neck finish, the hollow space of the cap formed around the post 245 and the opening of the cap 230. After use, the cap 230 can be pulled down to block the opening 248 of the neck finish 232 with the post 245 of the cap 230 and stop further dispensing of the product of the container 110. The push-pull mechanism shown in FIG. 6 is exemplary only and the present invention can employ any type of push-pull neck finish and cap mechanisms.

Thus, the container 110 provides a unique package particularly useful as a single serve food or drink package, or a package for cosmetic or other products, including juices, other beverages, yogurt, sauces, pudding, lotions, soaps in liquid or gel form, and bead shaped objects such as candy. The container 110 can be protected from contamination and unrecognizable tampering prior to use by a purchasing consumer. The container 110 can provide a retractable dome structure that permits the container 110 to be stood upright on the standing ring.

The embodiments illustrated and discussed in this specification are intended only to teach those skilled in the art the best way known to the inventors to make and use the

invention. Nothing in this specification should be considered as limiting the scope of the present invention. All examples presented are representative and non-limiting. The above- described embodiments of the invention may be modified or varied, without departing from the invention, as appreciated by those skilled in the art in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that, within the scope of the claims and their equivalents, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.