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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
FLUID MATERIAL DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/201737
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 is hand-held and comprises a hand-held main body 12, a cartridge module 14 and a cartridge 16. The hand-held main 12 body comprises a user control 18 and supports an electric motor. The electric motor operates in dependence on user operation of the user control. The cartridge module 14 is removably received within the main body 12. The cartridge module 14 supports a transmission which engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission. The cartridge 16 is removably received within the cartridge module 14. The cartridge 16 comprises a rigid cartridge body 30 and a compressible container 32 supported by the cartridge body. The compressible container 32 contains fluid material which is ejected from the compressible container upon its compression. The transmission engages with the compressible container when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body, whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Inventors:
HEATH DAVID (GB)
HOCHFIELD BARRY (GB)
KELLY STUART (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2020/050852
Publication Date:
October 08, 2020
Filing Date:
March 30, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CUTITRONICS LTD (GB)
International Classes:
A45D34/04; A61M35/00; B05B11/00; A45D34/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017102451A12017-06-22
WO2017172838A12017-10-05
WO2004028574A12004-04-08
WO2016034878A22016-03-10
Foreign References:
DE202018102229U12018-05-24
US20120067977A12012-03-22
CN109248373A2019-01-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETER, Kenneth (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus being hand-held and comprising:

a hand-held main body comprising a user control and supporting an electric motor, the electric motor operating in dependence on user operation of the user control;

a cartridge module which is removably received within the main body, the cartridge module supporting a transmission which engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission; and

a cartridge which is removably received within the cartridge module, the cartridge comprising a rigid cartridge body and a compressible container supported by the cartridge body, the compressible container containing fluid material which is ejected from the compressible container upon its compression, the transmission engaging with the compressible container when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body, whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

2. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein the compressible container defines a fluid material space which contains the fluid material, the fluid material space being defined at least in part by a flexible part of the compressible container, the flexible part flexing upon compression to reduce a volume of the fluid material space.

3. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the cartridge module further comprises a cartridge module body which supports the transmission, the transmission mounted on the cartridge module body for movement of the transmission relative to the cartridge module body when torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor.

4. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 3, wherein there is substantially no relative rotation of the main body and the cartridge body and substantially no relative rotation of the cartridge module body and the cartridge body when the cartridge has been received within the cartridge module and torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor.

5. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the main body defines a main body space which receives the cartridge module, the main body having an open end through which the cartridge module is admitted into the main body space, the main body space being otherwise substantially closed.

6. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 5, wherein a part of the cartridge module closes the open end of the main body when the cartridge module has been received in the main body space.

7. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the electric motor is supported by the main body inside the main body space and towards an end of the main body space opposite an end of the main body space at which the open end of the main body is defined.

8. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the cartridge module has a first end which is shaped to close the open end of the main body and a second end opposite the first end, the second end of the cartridge module being adjacent the electric motor when the cartridge module is received in the main body space, the transmission engaging with the electric motor beyond the second end of the cartridge module.

9. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the cartridge module defines a cartridge module space which receives the cartridge, the cartridge module having an open end through which the cartridge is admitted into the cartridge module space, the cartridge module space being otherwise substantially closed.

10. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the cartridge has first and second ends, the first end adjacent an end of the cartridge module space opposite the open end of the cartridge module and the second end adjacent the open end of the cartridge module when the cartridge is received in the cartridge module space, the second end being shaped to close the open end of the cartridge module space, the second end of the cartridge defining a cartridge aperture in fluid communication with an interior of the compressible container and through which the fluid material is ejected from the compressible container upon

compression of the compressible container.

11. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the compressible container is formed at least in part from a flexible corrugated structure, the compressible container being of a resilient nature on account of its flexible corrugated structure whereby the compressible container expands upon cessation of compression of the compressible container.

12. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 3 or 4, wherein the transmission comprises a lead screw which is mounted for rotation on the cartridge module body and is rotated by the electric motor when the transmission is engaged with the electric motor, the transmission further comprising a compression member mounted for movement along the lead screw as the lead screw rotates, the compression member and the compressible container disposed relative to each other when the cartridge is received in the cartridge module such that the

compression member bears against the compressible container to thereby compress the compressible container as the compression member moves along the lead screw.

13. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the lead screw extends alongside the compressible container, a proximal end of the lead screw mounted on the cartridge module body at an end of the cartridge module shaped to close an open end of the main body, a distal end of the lead screw extending beyond an end of the compressible container. 14. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the compression member engages with the lead screw towards a proximal end of the compression member with the compression member extending from its proximal end over an end of the compressible container.

15. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 12 to 14, wherein the cartridge module further comprises a lead member which is mounted stationarily on the cartridge module body and which is substantially parallel to the lead screw, the compression member mounted for sliding movement along the lead member as the lead screw rotates.

16. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising a clutch mechanism, the clutch mechanism comprising first and second clutch parts, the first clutch part comprised in the electric motor and the second clutch part comprised in the transmission, the first and second clutch parts coupling torque from the electric motor to the transmission when engaged with each other.

17. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the first clutch part defines a first clutch part profile and the second clutch part defines a second clutch part profile, the first and second clutch part profiles shaped to mesh with each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved towards each other in an axial direction of an output shaft of the electric motor and to disengage from each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved apart in the axial direction of the output shaft.

18. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 17, wherein the first and second clutch part profiles are shaped to mesh with each other and thereby provide for coupling of torque from the electric motor to the transmission when an output shaft of the electric motor rotates in a clockwise direction and in anti clockwise direction.

19. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the cartridge comprises a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges, the unique identification code being read by the main body whereby the main body can identify the cartridge presently received in the cartridge module when the cartridge module is received in the main body.

20. A method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a hand-held main body, a cartridge module and a cartridge, the method comprising: removably receiving the cartridge within the cartridge module, the cartridge comprising a rigid cartridge body and a compressible container supported by the rigid cartridge body, the compressible container containing fluid material which is ejected from the compressible container upon its compression;

removably receiving the cartridge module within the main body, the main body supporting an electric motor, the cartridge module supporting a transmission which engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission, the transmission further engaging with the compressible container to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission by the electric motor; and

operating a user control comprised in the main body, the electric motor operating in dependence on operation of the user control to compress the

compressible container by way of the transmission whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Description:
Title of Invention: Fluid material dispensing apparatus and method

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a fluid material dispensing apparatus and, in particular but not exclusively, to fluid material dispensing apparatus which is hand held and for dispensing fluid material for cosmetic or medical purposes. The present invention also relates to a method of dispensing fluid material from a such a fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Background Art

Devices for application of cosmetics are known. For example, WO 2016/034878 A2 discloses a hand-held device for topical application of material for cosmetic purposes. The device of WO 2016/034878 A2 changes the permeability of skin by electrical stimulation before applying material to the thus prepared skin.

The present inventors have recognised known devices for application of cosmetics, such as the device of WO 2016/034878 A2, to have shortcomings. The present invention has been devised in light of the inventors’ appreciation of such

shortcomings. It is therefore an object for the present invention to provide a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form which dispenses fluid material contained in the fluid material dispensing apparatus upon user operation of an electric motor comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus. It is a further object for the present invention to provide a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form upon user operation of an electric motor comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Statement of Invention

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus being hand-held and comprising:

a hand-held main body comprising a user control and supporting an electric motor, the electric motor operating in dependence on user operation of the user control;

a cartridge module which is removably received within the main body, the cartridge module supporting a transmission which engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission; and

a cartridge which is removably received within the cartridge module, the cartridge comprising a rigid cartridge body and a compressible container supported by the cartridge body, the compressible container containing fluid material which is ejected from the compressible container upon its compression, the transmission engaging with the compressible container when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body, whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus is hand-held, such as grippable in one hand whereby a user’s other hand may be left free for use. The fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a hand-held main body. The hand-held main body comprises a user control, which may be operable from an exterior of the main body, and supports an electric motor, which may be supported inside the main body. The electric motor operates in dependence on user operation of the user control. The fluid material dispensing apparatus also comprises a cartridge module and a cartridge.

The cartridge module is removably received within the main body. A first cartridge module may therefore be exchanged for a second cartridge module by removing the first cartridge module from within the main body and inserting the second cartridge module into the main body. The cartridge module supports a transmission. The transmission engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission.

The cartridge is removably received within the cartridge module. The cartridge comprises a rigid cartridge body and a compressible container supported by the rigid cartridge body. The compressible container contains fluid material to be dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus. A first cartridge, such as a first cartridge having a now empty compressible container, may therefore be exchanged for a second cartridge, such as a second cartridge having a compressible container full of fluid material, by removing the first cartridge from within the cartridge module and inserting the second cartridge into the cartridge module. When the cartridge is received within the cartridge module and when the cartridge module with the cartridge is received within the main body, the transmission engages with the compressible container to compress the compressible container when torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor. Compression of the

compressible container by the transmission ejects fluid material from the

compressible container whereby the ejected fluid material is dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The above described structure of main body, cartridge module and cartridge may allow for ease of replenishment of fluid material for a specific cartridge module while allowing for ease of change from one fluid material to another fluid material by changing from one cartridge module to another cartridge module. For example, and where the fluid material is cosmetic material, a user of the fluid material dispensing apparatus may have four cartridge modules which each contain a different cosmetic material with removability of each cartridge module from within the main body providing for ease of change of cosmetic material and removability of the cartridge from each second cartridge module providing for ease of replenishment of cosmetic material.

The compressible container may define a fluid material space which contains the fluid material, the fluid material space being defined at least in part by a flexible part of the compressible container, the flexible part flexing upon compression to reduce a volume of the fluid material space.

The compressible container may be shorter than the like of a syringe which comprises a push rod. Furthermore, the compressible container may have less stick-slip than a syringe. This is generally desirable for precision in dispensing of fluid material and, in particular, where the fluid material is a medical product.

As described above, the cartridge module comprises the transmission. Furthermore, the cartridge is received within the cartridge module. In view of the cartridge module comprising the transmission, a first such cartridge module in any state, i.e. full, partially full or empty, can be exchanged for a second such cartridge module in a different state and without the need to apply movement to the transmission when the cartridge module is exchanged.

The cartridge module may further comprise a cartridge module body which supports the transmission. Furthermore, the transmission may be mounted on the cartridge module body for movement of the transmission relative to the cartridge module body when torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor. As described below, a part of the transmission may rotate relative to the cartridge module body when torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor. When torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor after the cartridge module is received within the main body, the cartridge module body may exhibit substantially no movement, and more specifically substantially no rotation, relative to the main body and the cartridge body.

There may be substantially no relative movement, and more specifically substantially no relative rotation, of the main body and the cartridge body when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module, the cartridge module is received in the main body and torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor.

There may be substantially no relative movement, and more specifically substantially no relative rotation, of the cartridge module body and the cartridge body when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module, the cartridge module is received in the main body and torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor.

The main body may define a main body space which receives the cartridge module. The main body may have an open end through which the cartridge module is admitted into the main body space. Otherwise, i.e. apart from the open end, the main body space may be substantially closed. One end of the cartridge module may be inserted first through the open end and thereafter the cartridge module may be moved in a linear direction into the main body space until the cartridge module is received properly in the main body space. The cartridge module and the main body may have relative dimensions such that the cartridge module is slidably received in the main body space.

When the cartridge module has been received in the main body space, a part of the cartridge module may close the open end of the main body. The cartridge module may be appropriately shaped. An end of the cartridge module, and more specifically an end opposite the end first inserted into the main body space, may be shaped to close the open end of the main body by being at least coextensive with the open end of the main body and by abutting against a part of the main body defining the open end.

The electric motor may be supported inside the main body. More specifically, the electric motor may be supported by the main body inside the main body space. The electric motor may be supported by the main body inside the main body space and towards one end of the main body space. Furthermore, the electric motor may be located towards an end of the main body space opposite an end of the main body space at which the open end is defined.

The cartridge module may have a first end which is shaped to close the open end of the main body and a second end opposite the first end. When the cartridge module is received in the main body space, the second end of the cartridge module may be adjacent the electric motor. The transmission may engage with the electric motor beyond the second end of the cartridge module.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a first fastener mechanism which is operative to resist removal of the cartridge module from within the main body. The first fastener mechanism may be user operable, for example by way of user movement of a part of the first fastener mechanism, such as by way of a user pressing such a part, to release the first fastener mechanism and thereby allow removal of the cartridge module from within the main body. The first fastener mechanism may engage of itself when the cartridge module is received within the main body.

The first fastener mechanism may comprise first and second fastener parts, the first fastener part may be comprised in the cartridge module and the second fastener part may be comprised in the main body, the first and second fastener parts cooperating with each other to resist removal of the cartridge module from within the main body.

The first and second fastener parts may define cooperating surface profiles. The cooperating surface profiles may bear against each other during insertion of the cartridge module to move the first and second fastener parts apart. On further insertion, the cooperating surface profiles may cease to bear against each other whereupon the first and second fastener parts move together under spring bias, the cooperating surface profiles then abutting to resist withdrawal of the cartridge module from within the main body. The cartridge module may define a cartridge module space which receives the cartridge. The cartridge module may have an open end through which the cartridge is admitted into the cartridge module space. Otherwise, i.e. apart from the open end, the cartridge module space may be substantially closed. One end of the cartridge may be inserted first through the open end of the cartridge module and thereafter the cartridge may be moved in a linear direction into the cartridge module space until the cartridge is received properly in the cartridge module space. The cartridge and the cartridge module may have relative dimensions such that the cartridge is slidably received in the cartridge module space.

The cartridge may have a first end and a second end opposite the first end. When the cartridge is received in the cartridge module space, the first end may be adjacent an end of the cartridge module space opposite the open end of the cartridge module and the second end may be adjacent the open end of the cartridge module.

When the cartridge has been received in the cartridge module space, a part of the cartridge may close the open end of the cartridge module space. The cartridge may be appropriately shaped. An end of the cartridge, and more specifically the second end, may be shaped to close the open end of the cartridge module space by being at least coextensive with the open end of the cartridge module space and by abutting against a part of the cartridge module defining the open end.

The second end of the cartridge and more specifically a second end of the cartridge body may define a cartridge aperture in fluid communication with an interior of the compressible container and through which the fluid material is ejected from the compressible container upon compression of the compressible container.

The open end of the cartridge module may be covered by way of a cover.

Alternatively or in addition, the open end of the cartridge module may be covered by way of the cover when the cartridge is received within the cartridge module. The cover may be movable relative to the cartridge module between a first disposition in which the open end is uncovered to allow insertion of the cartridge into the cartridge module space and a second disposition in which the open end is covered to retain the cartridge within the cartridge module space. The cover may be hingedly attached to the cartridge module to thereby allow for movement of the cover between the first and second dispositions.

The cartridge module may comprise a second fastener mechanism which is operable to maintain the cover in the second disposition.

The second fastener mechanism may comprise first and second fastener parts, the first fastener part being comprised in the cover and the second fastener part being comprised in the cartridge module, the first and second fastener parts cooperating with each other to maintain the cover in the second disposition.

The second fastener mechanism may engage upon movement of the cover from the first disposition to the second disposition. Engagement may be by way of

cooperation of surface profiles on the first and second fastener parts. The second fastener mechanism may be configured for release upon user operation, for example by way of user movement of a part of the second fastener mechanism, such as the user pressing such a part.

The cartridge module may comprise a retaining member which is hingedly attached to the cartridge module for movement relative to the cartridge module between a first disposition in which the open end is unobstructed to allow insertion of the cartridge into the cartridge module space and a second disposition in which the open end is obstructed to retain the cartridge within the cartridge module space. The retaining member is configured to allow dispensing of fluid material past the retaining member when the retaining member is in the second disposition. The retaining member may fasten towards its free edge to the cartridge module to hold the retaining member in the second disposition.

The compressible container may define a substantially fluid tight space, which contains the fluid material, with the exception of a cartridge aperture through which fluid material is ejected upon compression of the compressible container. The compressible container may be supported on and extend from an end of the cartridge, such as an end of the cartridge adjacent an open end of the cartridge module. When uncompressed, the compressible container may be elongate.

Alternatively or in addition, the compressible container may be of generally cylindrical form with, for example, one end of the cylinder being mounted on the end of the cartridge.

The compressible container may be formed at least in part from a flexible corrugated structure. The compressible container may be of a resilient nature whereby the compressible container may expand upon cessation of compression of the compressible container. The compressible container may be of a resilient nature on account of its flexible corrugated structure and the material from which the compressible container is formed at least in part. Alternatively, the compressible container may not be of a resilient nature, with the electric motor being reversed to expand the compressible container instead. The compressible container may be formed by blow moulding. Where the compressible container is of a resilient nature, at least a part of the compressible container may be formed of a resilient

thermoplastic polymer, for example Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP) or Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), such as Hitrel (RTM). Where the

compressible container is not of a resilient nature, at least a part of the compressible container may be formed of a thermoplastic polymer of low resilience, for example High-density polyethylene (HDPE) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Having a compressible container of a resilient nature may be advantageous in respect of cessation of dispensing of fluid material. Upon cessation of compression of the compressible container, the resilience of the compressible container results in expansion of the compressible container and thereby clean cessation of dispensing of fluid material. Alternatively, reduction in residual pressure after cessation of compression may be achieved by reversing the direction of rotation of the electric motor. Otherwise, residual pressure after cessation of compression may result in undesired continued dispensing of fluid material. The compressible container may be compressed by application of force to the compressible container. Force may be applied by the transmission, as described further below. The force may be applied at an end of the compressible container. For example, the force may be applied at an end of the compressible container opposite an end of the compressible container which is supported on an end of the cartridge, such as on an end of the cartridge adjacent an open end of the cartridge module when the cartridge is received in the cartridge module.

The transmission may comprise a lead screw which is mounted for rotation on the cartridge module body and is rotated by the electric motor when the transmission is engaged with the electric motor. The transmission may further comprise a compression member mounted for movement along the lead screw as the lead screw rotates. The compression member and the compressible container may be disposed relative to each other when the cartridge is received in the cartridge module such that the compression member bears against the compressible container to thereby compress the compressible container as the compression member moves along the lead screw.

The lead screw may extend alongside the compressible container. A proximal end of the lead screw may be mounted on the cartridge module body and more specifically at a first end of the cartridge module which is shaped to close an open end of the main body. A distal end of the lead screw may extend beyond an end of the compressible container and more specifically beyond a distal end of the compressible container.

A thread of the lead screw may provide less than 10mm, 8 mm, 6 mm, 4 mm or 2 mm travel of the compression member along the lead screw per revolution of the lead screw. In a form, the thread of the lead screw may provide 1 mm travel of the compression member along the lead screw per revolution of the lead screw.

The lead screw may provide for at least 10 mm, 20 mm, 30 mm or 40 mm travel of the compression member along the lead screw between the compressible container being substantially full and the compressible container being substantially empty. In a form, the lead screw may provide for 50 mm travel of the compression member along the lead screw between the compressible container being substantially full and the compressible container being substantially empty.

Where the compressible container has a fluid material capacity of X ml_, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured to dispense X ml_ divided by Y of fluid material per step of the stepper motor, where Y is at least 1000, 2000, 4000, 6000 or 8000. In a form, Y may be 10000. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured in this regard by at least one of: the number of steps of the stepper motor per revolution; the amount of travel of the compression member along the lead screw per revolution of the lead screw; and the length of the lead screw.

The compression member may engage with the lead screw towards a proximal end of the compression member with the compression member extending from the proximal end over an end of the compressible container.

The cartridge module may further comprise a lead member which is mounted stationarily on the cartridge module body and which is substantially parallel to the lead screw. The compression member may be mounted for movement and more specifically sliding movement along the lead member as the lead screw rotates. The compression member may, for example, define an aperture towards its proximal end and through which the lead member passes. Having such a structure comprising lead screw and lead member may reduce susceptibility to loads applied by the electric motor which are off the longitudinal axis of the lead screw.

A proximal end of the lead member may be mounted on the cartridge module body and more specifically at a first end of the cartridge module which is shaped to close an open end of the main body. A distal end of the lead member may extend beyond an end of the compressible container and more specifically beyond a distal end of the compressible container.

As described above, the transmission engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission. The transmission is brought into engagement with the electric motor upon reception of the cartridge module within the main body. When the cartridge module is removed from within the main body the transmission may disengage from the electric motor.

The transmission and the electric motor may be engaged with and disengaged from each other by way of a clutch mechanism. The clutch mechanism may comprise a first clutch part and a second clutch part which when engaged with each other couple torque from the electric motor to the transmission. The first clutch part may be comprised in the electric motor and the second clutch part may be comprised in the transmission. When the electric motor comprises a gear arrangement, as described below, the first clutch part may be on an output shaft of the gear arrangement. Otherwise, the first clutch part may be on an output shaft of the electric motor.

The first clutch part may define a first clutch part profile and the second clutch part may define a second clutch part profile. The first and second clutch part profiles may be shaped to mesh with each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved together in an axial direction of an output shaft of the electric motor and to disengage from each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved apart in an axial direction of the output shaft.

The first and second clutch part profiles may be shaped to mesh with each other and thereby provide for coupling of torque from the electric motor to the transmission when an output shaft of the electric motor rotates in a clockwise direction and in anti clockwise direction. Providing for clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation allows for compression of the compressible container and for reduction of residual pressure inside the compressible container.

One of the first and second clutch parts may define plural protrusions which are spaced apart around an axis of rotation of the clutch part whereby a recess is defined between adjacent protrusions. The plural protrusions may be circularly disposed around the axis of rotation. Each protrusion and hence each recess may extend in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation. The clutch part may therefore be of contrate form in respect of the direction of extension of the

protrusions.

The plural protrusions may be substantially equally spaced apart. In a form, the clutch part may define three protrusions. The other of the first and second clutch parts may be of corresponding shape whereby the protrusions of the one of the first and second clutch parts are received in respective recesses in the other of the first and second clutch parts and the recesses of the one of the first and second clutch parts receive respective protrusions of the other of the first and second clutch parts.

A distal surface of each protrusion may be inclined to a plane of rotation of the clutch part. The distal surface may be inclined to the plane of rotation at an average angle of between 6 and 12 degrees and more specifically 9 degrees. Furthermore, a base of each recess (or bottom land between adjacent protrusions) may be inclined. The base of each recess may be inclined to the plane of rotation at an average angle of between 7 and 13 degrees and more specifically 10 degrees. Having such inclinations allows the first clutch part and hence the electric motor to rotate relative to the second clutch part and hence the transmission until the first and second clutch parts mesh properly when flanks of their respective protrusions abut. The flanks of the protrusions may extend substantially at a right angle to the plane of rotation of the clutch part. Opposing flanks of adjacent protrusions may each extend

substantially at a right angle to the plane of rotation of the clutch part.

The first clutch part may be urged away from an output shaft of the electric motor by a spring bias. The first clutch part may therefore be urged towards the second clutch part. The spring bias may be of sufficiently low spring constant whereby the surface profiles of the first and second clutch parts may slide over each other until the relative angles of the first and second clutch parts are such that they mesh with each other and yet of sufficiently high spring constant that the first and second clutch parts remain meshed with each other while torque is coupled from the electric motor to the transmission. Torque required to overcome friction of the electric motor may be lower than torque required to overcome friction of the transmission. If this condition is satisfied, the transmission is less liable to move, with consequential avoidance of inadvertent dispensing of fluid material, when the cartridge module is being inserted into the main body.

The electric motor may be a stepper motor. A stepper motor has been found to provide for improved control of dispensing of fluid material. Use of a stepper motor in combination with the compressible container and the lead screw has been found to provide for improved control in respect of varying dispense speed, varying dispense amount and accommodating fluid materials having different rheological properties. The stepper motor may have at least 20, 50, 100, 120, 140, 160 or 180 steps per revolution. In a form, the stepper motor may have 200 steps per

revolution. Otherwise, the stepper motor is of conventional form and function.

The electric motor may drive the transmission directly. Alternatively, the main body may support a gear arrangement with an output from the electric motor driving the gear arrangement and an output from the gear arrangement engaging with the transmission when the cartridge module is received within the main body.

The cartridge may comprise a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges. The unique identification code may be readable by the main body whereby the main body may identify the cartridge presently received in the cartridge module when the latter is received in the main body.

The unique identification code may be electrically readable and more specifically wirelessly readable. The unique identification code may be stored in the cartridge such that it may be wirelessly read by the main body. The unique identification code may be read by way of short-range radio frequency communication. The cartridge and the main body may be configured accordingly. In one form, the unique identification code may be read in accordance with the NFC protocol. A wireless tag, such as an NFC tag, may therefore be comprised in the cartridge and a wireless reader, such as an NFC reader, may be comprised in the main body. Identification of a cartridge allows the fluid material dispensing apparatus to record information relating to the cartridge, such as the identity of fluid material contained in the cartridge, the amount of fluid material dispensed from the cartridge, and the level of fluid material in the cartridge. If the identity of fluid material contained in the cartridge is known, the fluid material dispensing apparatus can be controlled appropriately having regard to a property of the identified fluid material and more specifically at least one rheological property, such as in respect of its compressibility. Compressibility of fluid material has an effect on its expansion when dispensed. A fluid material that expands more than another fluid material when dispensed may benefit from earlier release of the compressible container from compression to prevent too much fluid material being dispensed.

The main body may therefore comprise a data store which stores plural unique identification codes and plural sets of fluid material data, each set of fluid material data being associated with one of the plural unique identification codes, such as by way of a look up table. Each set of fluid material data may comprise at least one of: at least one parameter for controlling dispense of fluid material from the fluid material dispensing apparatus; data identifying the fluid material; and a level of fluid material in the cartridge.

The main body may comprise a processor which is operative to control at least one electrical component of the fluid material dispensing apparatus. The at least one electrical component may comprise the electric motor. The at least one electrical component may further comprise a wireless reader, and a data store which stores plural unique identification codes and plural sets of fluid material data. The processor may be operative in dependence on execution of processor instructions stored in at least one of static memory and dynamic memory comprised in the main body.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be liquid material dispensing apparatus. Liquid material may comprise semi-solid material as well as semi-liquid material. The fluid material may be material for cosmetic purposes. The fluid material may be material for medical purposes.

The main body may be grippable in one hand. The main body may be of a size that the fingers and thumb of a hand may extend around the main body to an extent that the fluid material dispensing apparatus may be held firmly.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be for topical application of fluid material. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured accordingly.

For example, the fluid material may be dispensed from a dispensing aperture at an end of the fluid material dispensing apparatus whereby the fluid material dispensing apparatus can be held in one hand with the end having the aperture adjacent or against the skin. The end of the fluid material dispensing apparatus having the dispensing aperture may lie in a plane which is substantially orthogonal to hand grippable sides of the main body.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a hand-held main body, a cartridge module and a cartridge, the method comprising:

removably receiving the cartridge within the cartridge module, the cartridge comprising a rigid cartridge body and a compressible container supported by the rigid cartridge body, the compressible container containing fluid material which is ejected from the compressible container upon its compression;

removably receiving the cartridge module within the main body, the main body supporting an electric motor, the cartridge module supporting a transmission which engages with the electric motor when the cartridge module is received within the main body whereby torque from the electric motor is coupled to the transmission, the transmission further engaging with the compressible container to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission by the electric motor; and

operating a user control comprised in the main body, the electric motor operating in dependence on operation of the user control to compress the compressible container by way of the transmission whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Embodiments of the second aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first aspect of the present invention.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus being hand-held and comprising:

a hand-held main body comprising a user control;

a stepper motor supported in the main body, the stepper motor operating in dependence on user operation of the user control;

a compressible container supported in the main body, the compressible container containing fluid material; and

a transmission supported in the main body, the transmission mechanically coupled to the stepper motor and to the compressible container whereby operation of the stepper motor drives the transmission and the transmission compresses the compressible container to eject fluid material from the compressible container and thereby dispense the ejected fluid material from the fluid material dispensing apparatus,

wherein the compressible container is formed at least in part of a flexible corrugated structure, the compressible container being compressed by compression of the flexible corrugated structure.

The compressible container is formed at least in part of a flexible corrugated structure. The compressible container is compressed by compression of the flexible corrugated structure. Compression of the flexible corrugated structure reduces the volume of the compressible container whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container.

As mentioned above, a stepper motor has been found to provide for improved control of dispensing of fluid material. Use of a stepper motor in combination with the compressible container has been found to provide for improved control in respect of varying dispense speed, varying dispense amount and accommodating fluid materials having different rheological properties.

The compressible container may be of a resilient nature whereby the compressible container may expand upon cessation of compression of the compressible container. The compressible container may be of a resilient nature on account of its flexible corrugated structure and a material from which the compressible container is formed at least in part. As mentioned above, having a compressible container of a resilient nature may be advantageous in respect of cessation of dispensing of fluid material. Alternatively, the compressible container may not be of a resilient nature or may be of insufficiently resilient nature with expansion of the compressible container being by way of reversing a direction of rotation of at least one of the electric motor and the lead screw.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may have the three-part structure described above with reference to the first aspect of the present invention. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may therefore comprise a main body, a cartridge module and a cartridge with each of these three main components configured as described above.

Alternatively, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may have a two-part structure in which the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a main body as one part and a replaceable compressible container as the other part. In one form, the replaceable compressible container may be comprised in the cartridge module described above and such that there is no cartridge which is removable from the cartridge module. Exchange of the compressible container may therefore be by exchange of the cartridge module. In another form, the replaceable compressible container may be comprised in the cartridge with the cartridge module described above being absent and features of the cartridge module being comprised in the main body. Further embodiments of the third aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first embodiment.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a hand-held main body, the hand-held main body supporting a stepper motor, a transmission and a compressible container, which contains fluid material, the method comprising:

operating the stepper motor in dependence on user operation of a user control comprised in the main body;

driving the transmission by operation of the stepper motor, the transmission being mechanically coupled to the stepper motor;

compressing the compressible container in dependence on the transmission being driven, the transmission being mechanically coupled to the compressible container; and

ejecting fluid material from the compressible container in dependence on compression of the compressible container,

wherein the compressible container is formed at least in part of a flexible corrugated structure, the compressible container being compressed by compression of the flexible corrugated structure.

Embodiments of the fourth aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first or third aspect of the present invention.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus being hand-held and comprising:

a hand-held main body comprising a user control and supporting an electric motor, the electric motor operating in dependence on user operation of the user control;

a cartridge module supporting a compressible container which contains fluid material to be dispensed, the cartridge module being removably received within the main body, the cartridge module supporting a transmission to which torque is coupled from the electric motor when the cartridge module is received in the main body, the transmission engaging with the compressible container to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission from the electric motor whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container and dispensed from the fluid material dispensing apparatus; and

a clutch mechanism comprising first and second clutch parts, the first clutch part attached to an output shaft of the electric motor and the second clutch part attached to the transmission, the first and second clutch parts being separable from each other whereby the cartridge module is removable from within the main body, the first and second clutch parts engaging with each other when the cartridge module is received within the main body to couple torque from the electric motor to the transmission.

As described above, the first clutch part may define a first clutch part profile and the second clutch part may define a second clutch part profile. The first and second clutch part profiles may be shaped to mesh with each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved together in an axial direction of the output shaft of the electric motor and to disengage from each other when the first and second clutch parts are moved apart in an axial direction of the output shaft.

The first and second clutch part profiles may be shaped to mesh with each other and thereby provide for coupling of torque from the electric motor to the transmission when an output shaft of the electric motor rotates in a clockwise direction and in anti clockwise direction.

One of the first and second clutch parts may define plural protrusions which are spaced apart around an axis of rotation of the clutch part whereby a recess is defined between adjacent protrusions. The plural protrusions may be circularly disposed around the axis of rotation. Each protrusion and hence each recess may extend in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation.

The other of the first and second clutch parts may be of corresponding shape whereby the protrusions of the one of the first and second clutch parts are received in respective recesses in the other of the first and second clutch parts and the recesses of the one of the first and second clutch parts receive respective

protrusions of the other of the first and second clutch parts.

Further embodiments of the fifth aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first or third aspect of the present invention. For example, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may have a three-part structure as described above with reference to the first and third aspects. By way of further example, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may have a two-part structure as described above with reference to the third aspect in which the first clutch part is comprised in the main body and the second clutch part is comprised in a cartridge module lacking a removable cartridge.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus of hand-held form, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a hand-held main body, a cartridge module supporting a compressible container which contains fluid material to be dispensed, and a clutch mechanism, the method comprising:

receiving the cartridge module within the main body, the cartridge module supporting a transmission to which is attached a second part of the clutch

mechanism, a first part of the clutch mechanism being attached to an output shaft of an electric motor supported by the main body, the first and second clutch parts engaging with each other when the cartridge module is received within the main body to couple torque from the electric motor to the transmission;

dispensing fluid material from the fluid material dispensing apparatus by user operation of a user control comprised in the main body, the electric motor operating in dependence on user operation of the user control to couple torque to the transmission by way of the clutch mechanism, the transmission engaging with the compressible container to compress the compressible container as torque is coupled to the transmission whereby fluid material is ejected from the compressible container; and

removing the cartridge module from within the main body, the first and second clutch parts separating from each other upon removal of the cartridge module. Embodiments of the sixth aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first, third or fifth aspect of the present invention.

Brief Description of Drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following specific description, which is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figures 1 A and 1 B show in perspective view a fluid material dispensing apparatus according to the invention progressing from a disassembled state to an assembled state;

Figure 2A is a side view in section of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B when assembled;

Figure 2B is a front view in section of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B when assembled;

Figure 3 is a perspective view of a cartridge module of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B with a cartridge received within the cartridge module;

Figure 4 is a perspective view of a second clutch part of a clutch mechanism comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B; and

Figure 5 is a block diagram representation of parts of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B and ancillary components.

Description of Embodiments

A fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 according to the invention is shown in Figures 1 A and 1 B as the fluid material dispensing apparatus progresses from a disassembled state to an assembled state. The top drawing in Figure 1 A shows the fluid material dispensing apparatus when dissembled and the bottom drawing in Figure 1 B shows the fluid material dispensing apparatus when assembled. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 comprises three main parts, namely a hand-held main body 12, a cartridge module 14 and a cartridge 16. The hand-held main body 12 is of elongate form and generally rectangular cross section. The width and depth of the hand-held main body 12 are such as to allow the hand-held main body to be gripped by the fingers and thumb of one hand of the user. User controls and a display 18 are provided on a side of the hand-held main body 12. The hand-held main body 12 defines a main body space 20 which is enclosed by the main body apart from an open end of the main body. Access to the main body space 20 is gained by way of the open end of the main body. The hand held main body 12 is formed for the most part from a plastics material.

The cartridge module 14 is of elongate form and comprises a cartridge module body formed of plastics material. The cartridge module body comprises an elongate barrel portion 22 and a base portion 24. The elongate barrel portion 22 is integrally formed with and extends from the base portion 24. The elongate barrel portion 22 is shaped to be a snug fit inside the main body space 20. The base portion 24, which makes up about a quarter of the length of the cartridge module body, is of generally rectangular cross section and of greater width and depth than the elongate barrel portion 22. When the cartridge module 14 is inserted by the user into the main body space 20, the end of the main body defining the open end of the main body 12 abuts against the surface of the base portion 24 from which the elongate barrel portion 22 extends, whereby the base portion 24 remains outside the main body space 20 although the elongate barrel portion 22 is entirely received in the main body space. Exterior dimensions of the base portion 24 are such that the exterior of the base portion is flush with the exterior of the main body 12.

The cartridge module 14 defines a cartridge module space 26 which is enclosed by the cartridge module body apart from an open end of the cartridge module body.

The cartridge module space 26 extends through the base portion 24 and the elongate barrel portion 22. Access to the cartridge module space 26 is gained by way of the open end of the cartridge module body and more specifically an opening in the base portion 24. The cartridge module 14 comprises a cover 28 which is hingedly attached to the base portion 24 adjacent the open end of the cartridge module body. The cover 28 is rotatable by the user between a position which allows access to the cartridge module space 26 and a position in which the open end of the cartridge module body is covered.

The cartridge 16 comprises a rigid cartridge body 30 which is formed for the most part from a plastics material. The rigid cartridge body 30 comprises a thin cartridge base of generally square cross section and a shroud which extends from the cartridge base. External dimensions of the shroud are such that the shroud is a snug fit inside the cartridge module space 26. The cartridge base is shaped and has external dimensions such that the cartridge base is received in a recess present in the base portion 24 adjacent the open end of the cartridge module body. The cartridge 16 further comprises a compressible container 32 which is mounted on and extends from the cartridge base within a space defined by the shroud. A passage 34 extends from the side of the cartridge base from which the compressible container 32 extends to the opposite side of the cartridge base. The passage 34 is in fluid communication with the inside of the compressible container 32. Furthermore, a normally closed valve is present in the passage. The valve is a DS 067.002-151.01 from Minivalve International of Lubeckstraat 21 , 7575 EE Oldenzaal, The

Netherlands.

The compressible container 32 is elongate and of generally cylindrical form and contains a fluid material, such as a cosmetic material. As can be seen from Figures 2A and 2B, the side of the compressible container 32 has a corrugated structure which in combination with the material of which the compressible container is formed allows for compression of the compressible container by way of its flexibility upon application of force at the distal end of the compressible container. The length and hence volume of the compressible container 32 is thus reduced upon application of force at the distal end of the compressible container. Furthermore, the compressible container 32 is of a resilient nature on account of the flexible corrugated structure and the material from which the compressible container is formed whereby the compressible container expands upon removal of the compressive force from the distal end of the compressible container. The compressible container is formed by blow moulding of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Alternatively, the compressible container 32 is not of a resilient nature or of insufficiently resilient nature with expansion of the compressible container being achieved by reversal of direction of rotation of the stepper motor to pull on and hence lengthen the compressible container. The stepper motor is described below. In this latter form, the

compressible container is formed by blow moulding of High-density polyethylene (HDPE) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Compression of the compressible container 32 increases pressure inside the compressible container until the increased pressure opens the normally closed valve in the passage 34 whereupon fluid material held in the compressible container is ejected from the cartridge by way of the passage. Upon release of force compressing the compressible container 32, expansion of the compressible container on account of its resilient nature or reversal of direction of rotation of the stepper motor gives rise to negative pressure inside the compressible container which draws fluid material through the passage 34 back towards the compressible container. Over dispensing of fluid material is thus obviated.

The top drawing in Figure 1 A shows the main body 12, the cartridge module 14 and the cartridge 16 apart from one another. A first step in bringing the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 into use involves insertion of the cartridge 16 into the cartridge module space 26 and such that the shroud of the cartridge is completely received in the cartridge module space 26 and the cartridge base is received in the recess in the base portion 24 adjacent the open end of the cartridge module body. The cartridge 16 when received in the cartridge module space 26 is shown in the bottom drawing in Figure 1 A. A clip 36, which is hingedly attached to a first edge of the base portion 24 adjacent the open end of the cartridge module body and between the cover 28 and the open end, is rotated until its free end fastens to a second edge of the base portion opposite the first edge, as shown in the top drawing in Figure 1 B. The clip 36 holds the cartridge 16 inside the cartridge module space 26.

A further step in bringing the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 into use involves insertion of the cartridge module 14 into the main body space 20 until the base portion 24 abuts against end of the main body 12 defining the open end of the main body, as shown in the middle drawing in Figure 1 B. A first fastener mechanism 38 has first and second fastener parts which are comprised respectively in the main body 12 and the base portion 24. The first and second fastener parts engage with each other upon insertion of the cartridge module 14 to hold the base portion against the main body. The first fastener mechanism 38 is disengaged by the user pressing against a part of the first fastener mechanism whereby the cartridge module 14 can be withdrawn from the main body space 20. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 is as shown in the middle drawing in Figure 1 B when fluid material is being dispensed, i.e. with the cover 28 open. When use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 is over, the cover 28 is rotated on its hinge to cover the aperture 34 through which fluid material is dispensed, as shown in the bottom drawing in Figure 1 B. A second fastener mechanism 40 has first and second fastener parts which are comprised respectively in the main body 12 and the cover 28. The first and second fastener parts engage with each other upon closure of the cover 28 to keep the cover in the closed position. The second fastener mechanism 40 is disengaged by the user pressing against a part of the second fastener mechanism whereby the cover can be opened.

A side view in section and a front view in section of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 of Figures 1A and 1 B and when assembled are shown respectively in Figures 2A and 2B. Components in common with the fluid material dispensing apparatus as shown in Figures 1 A and 1 B are designated with like reference numerals. The reader’s attention is directed to the description provided above with reference to Figures 1 A and 1 B for description of such components in common. Further detail of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 will now be described with reference to Figures 2A and 2B. A stepper motor 42 is mounted on the main body 12 inside the main body space 20 and towards a base of the main body space opposite the open end of the main body through which the cartridge module 14 is received. An axis of rotation of an output shaft of the stepper motor 42 is generally parallel to a direction of insertion of the cartridge module 14 into the main body space 20. The stepper motor provides 200 steps per revolution. Otherwise, the stepper motor is of conventional form and function. The stepper motor 42 comprises a gear arrangement whereby the output shaft of the stepper motor rotates at a lower rotational speed than the stepper motor itself. The fluid material dispensing apparatus further comprises a clutch mechanism 44. As described below with reference to Figures 3 and 4, the clutch mechanism 44 comprises a first clutch part and a second clutch part which are attached respectively to the output shaft of the stepper motor 42 and to a transmission supported on the cartridge module 14. The first and second clutch parts are brought into engagement with each other when the cartridge module 14 is inserted into the main body space 20 whereby torque from the stepper motor 42 is coupled to the transmission. The first and second clutch parts are disengaged from each other when the cartridge module 14 is withdrawn from the main body space 20.

A perspective view of a cartridge module 14 with a cartridge received within the cartridge module is shown in Figure 3. Components in common with the fluid material dispensing apparatus as shown in Figures 1 A, 1 B, 2A and 2B are

designated with like reference numerals. The reader’s attention is directed to the description provided above with reference to Figures 1 A, 1 B, 2A and 2B for description of such components in common. Further detail of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 will now be described with reference to Figure 3.

As described above, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a clutch mechanism 44. The second clutch part 46 of the clutch mechanism is shown in Figure 3 attached to an end of a transmission 48. The second clutch part 46 is described further below with reference to Figure 4. The cartridge module 14 further comprises the transmission 48 and a lead member 50. The transmission 48 comprises a lead screw 52 and a compression member 54. The lead member 50 and the lead screw 52 are mounted on the cartridge module body such that they are parallel with each other, they are spaced apart across the base portion 24 and they extend away from the base portion 24. As can be seen from Figure 3, the lead member 50 and the lead screw 52 extend alongside the compressible container 32 and extend beyond the distal end of the compressible container. The lead member 50 is stationarily mounted on the cartridge module body and the lead screw 52 is mounted for rotation on the cartridge module body. A described above, torque is coupled from the stepper motor 42 to the transmission by way of the clutch mechanism with the second clutch part 46 being attached to the distal end of the lead screw whereby the lead screw 52 rotates when the stepper motor operates.

The compression member 54 is mounted at its proximal end for movement along the lead screw 52 by way of threaded engagement. Furthermore, the compression member 54 is mounted at its proximal end for sliding movement along the lead member 50. Thus, the compression member 54 is driven to and fro along the lead screw 52 and the lead member 50 upon operation of the stepper motor 42. A thread of the lead screw provides 1 mm travel of the compression member 54 along the lead screw 52 per revolution of the lead screw.

The compression member 54 has two spaced apart and parallel fingers 56 which extend from the proximal end of the compression member in an orthogonal direction to the lead member 50 and the lead screw 52 and such that the fingers extend over the distal end of the compressible container 32. The fingers 56 are attached to the distal end of the compressible container 32. Upon operation of the stepper motor 42, the lead screw 52 rotates and drives the compression member 54 towards the base portion 24 whereby the fingers 56 apply force to the distal end of the compressible container 32. Application of force to the distal end of the compressible container 32 compresses the compressible container. As described above, compression of the compressible container 32 ejects fluid material from the compressible container and dispenses the fluid material from the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. Upon reversal of direction of rotation of the stepper motor, the compression member 54 moves in the opposite direction whereby the fingers 56 pull the distal end of the compressible container 32 to thereby increase the internal volume of the

compressible container. The lead screw provides for 50 mm travel of the

compression member along the lead screw between the compressible container being full and the compressible container being empty.

Where the compressible container has a fluid material capacity of 30 ml_, the fluid material dispensing apparatus dispenses 0.003 ml_ of fluid material per step of the stepper motor. The fluid material dispensing apparatus is configured in this regard by: the number of steps of the stepper motor per revolution; the amount of travel of the compression member along the lead screw per revolution of the lead screw; and the length of the lead screw. The structure of the clutch mechanism 44 will now be described with reference to Figure 4. As shown in Figure 4, the second clutch part 46 defines three protrusions 58 which are equally spaced apart around an axis of rotation 60 of the second clutch part whereby a recess 62 is defined between adjacent protrusions. The three protrusions 58 are circularly disposed around the axis of rotation 60. Each protrusion 58 and hence each recess 62 extends in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation 60. The first clutch part is of corresponding shape to the second clutch part 46 in respect of protrusions and recesses whereby the

protrusions of one of the first and second clutch parts are received in respective recesses in the other of the first and second clutch parts and the recesses of the one of the first and second clutch parts receive respective protrusions of the other of the first and second clutch parts. The first and second clutch parts thus mesh to couple torque from the stepper motor 42 to the second clutch part 46.

A distal surface 64 of each protrusion 58 is inclined to a plane of rotation of the clutch part 46. The distal surface 64 is inclined to the plane of rotation at an average angle of 9 degrees. Furthermore, a base 66 of each recess 62 is likewise inclined at an average angle of 10 degrees. Both flanks 68 of each protrusion 58 extend substantially orthogonally to the plane of rotation of the clutch part 46. Flaving such orthogonally extending flanks 68 on each protrusion 58 provides for coupling of torque by the clutch mechanism in a clockwise direction and in an anti-clockwise direction. The first clutch part is urged away from the stepper motor by a spring (not shown) whereby the first clutch part is urged towards the second clutch part 46.

A block diagram representation of parts of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figures 1 A and 1 B and ancillary components is shown in Figure 5. Components in common with the fluid material dispensing apparatus as shown in Figures 1 A to 3 are designated with like reference numerals. The reader’s attention is directed to the description provided above with reference to Figures 1 A to 3 for description of such components in common. The dispensing mechanism comprising the second clutch part 46 and the transmission 48 is represented in Figure 5 by way of reference numeral 82. Further detail of the fluid material dispensing apparatus will now be described with reference to Figure 5. The cartridge 16 comprises an NFC tag 84 containing a unique identifier for the cartridge. The main body 12 comprises an NFC reader 86 which reads the unique identifier contained in the NFC tag 84 under control of a processor 88 when the cartridge 16 is received in the cartridge module 14 and the cartridge module is received in the main body. The main body 12 further comprises data memory 90 which stores plural unique identifiers, including the unique identifier read from the cartridge 16, and plural sets of fluid material data with each set of fluid material data being associated with one of the plural unique identifiers by way of a look up table. Each set of fluid material data comprises: parameters for controlling dispense of fluid material from a uniquely identifiable cartridge; data identifying the fluid material in a uniquely identifiable cartridge; and a level of fluid material in a uniquely identifiable cartridge. The parameters for controlling dispense of fluid from a uniquely identifiable cartridge are determined during calibration procedures involving tests performed on different fluid materials having regard to their different rheological properties. Thus, when a cartridge 16 is inserted, the NFC read unique identifier is used to recover from the look up table the corresponding parameters for controlling dispense of fluid material whereby dispensing is carried out in a fashion appropriate to the rheological properties of the fluid material in the cartridge.

The main body 12 also comprises a transmission position determining function 92 which is operative to determine a position of the transmission 48. The position of the transmission 48 reflects a level of fluid material contained in a cartridge 16.

Positions of the transmission 48 are stored in the look up table in the data memory 90 under direction of the processor 88. The main body is thus able to store the position of the transmission 48 of a first cartridge module 14 before the first cartridge module is exchanged for a second cartridge module and to set the position of the transmission appropriately in dependence on the stored position when the first cartridge module is reinserted in the main body.

The main body 12 further comprises an electrode arrangement and driver circuitry 94 for performing measurement of skin properties and stimulation of the skin. Measurement and stimulation of the skin is in accordance with the content of WO 2016/034878 A2. The main body 12 comprises a rechargeable battery which provides power for the electrical and electronic components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. The rechargeable battery is charged wirelessly by way of a wireless interface 96, 98 that is operative in accordance with the Qi standard. The main body 12 is in wireless communication, such as in accordance with the

Bluetooth (RTM) standard, with an external computing device 100, such as a smartphone. The external computing device 100 is used for enhanced control and display and enhanced user interaction. For example, the external computing device 100 is used to log and display treatment procedures carried out over time for a particular user in respect of different fluid materials dispensed. By way of further example, the external computing device 100 is used to create treatment regimes which are uploaded to the main body 12 and used to prompt the user during use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. The external computing device 100 is also used for receiving updates which are then uploaded to the main body 12, such as fresh parameters for controlling dispense of a newly available cosmetic material.

In an un-illustrated embodiment, the fluid material dispensing apparatus has a two- part structure with a main body being one part and a replaceable compressible container being the other part. In one form, the replaceable compressible container is comprised in the cartridge module 14 described above and such that there is no cartridge which is removable from the cartridge module. Exchange of the

compressible container is therefore by exchange of the cartridge module. In another form, the replaceable compressible container is comprised in the cartridge described above with the cartridge module described above being absent and features of the cartridge module being comprised in the main body.