Title:
REFILLABLE AEROSOL CONTAINER
United States Patent 3613960


Abstract:
A refillable aerosol container capable of being filled with a liquid formulation to a predetermined level, comprising a cylindrical shell having a first annular disc connected to one end of the shell and a second annular disc connected to the other end of the shell. A first valve cap having a two-way dual-purpose valve positioned therein for receiving and dispensing liquids is connected to the first annular disc and a second valve cap having a second dual-purpose valve located therein for dispensing liquids is connected to the second annular disc. Nozzle heads may be added to the dual-purpose valves so that the valves can be used to spray liquids. Additionally, a dip tube having an internal diameter of one thirty-second to eight thirty-seconds of an inch is located on the first dual-purpose valve and a straight dip tube having an internal diameter of three-sixteenths to ten-sixteenths of an inch is located on the second dual-purpose valve. In place of the straight dip tube, a U-shaped dip tube having an internal diameter of one thirty-second to eight thirty-seconds of an inch may be used on the second valve.



Inventors:
BEARD WALTER C
Application Number:
04/781819
Publication Date:
10/19/1971
Filing Date:
12/06/1968
Assignee:
AEROSOL SYSTEMS INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/397, 222/402.1
International Classes:
B65D83/14; (IPC1-7): B65D83/14
Field of Search:
222/4,330,331,397,402
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
BE514803A
Primary Examiner:
Reeves, Robert B.
Assistant Examiner:
Handren, Frederick R.
Claims:
What is claimed is

1. A refillable aerosol container capable of being filled with a liquid formulation to a predetermined level, comprising

2. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein the second dip tube has an internal diameter of four-sixteenths to eight-sixteenths of an inch and the first dip tube has an internal diameter of four thirty-seconds to six thirty-seconds of an inch.

3. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein the first and second annular discs are connected to the flanges of the first and second valve caps respectively by means of a circular folded joint, and wherein the first and second annular discs are connected to the cylindrical shell by flat folded joints.

4. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein said first and second annular discs are connected to the flanges of the first and second valve caps respectively by means of an O-ring joint, and wherein said first and second annular discs are connected to the cylindrical shell by flat folded joints.

5. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein the first dual-purpose valve comprises

6. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein the second liquid-dispensing valve comprises

7. The refillable aerosol container of claim 1, wherein the second annular disc is concave to the extent that when the nozzle head is in place on the second valve the top of said nozzle head is just below the level of the edge of the cylindrical shell, and wherein the first annular disc is convex.

8. A refillable aerosol container capable of being filled with a liquid formulation to a predetermined level, comprising

9. The refillable aerosol container of claim 8, wherein said second dip tube has an internal diameter of four thirty-seconds to six thirty-seconds of an inch and the first dip tube has an internal diameter of four thirty-seconds to six thirty-seconds of an inch.

10. A refillable aerosol container capable of being filled with a liquid formulation to a predetermined level, comprising

11. The refillable aerosol container of claim 10, wherein the first valve cap and the first dual-purpose valve with the exception of the dip tube, are similar in construction to the corresponding second valve cap and second liquid-dispensing valve, such that the parts are interchangeable.

Description:
This invention relates to aerosol containers and more particularly to a refillable aerosol container which can be filled with a liquid formulation to a predetermined level.

Refillable aerosol containers have recently been introduced into the aerosol container field. The advantages of such containers over the usual aerosol containers are obvious. In the usual aerosol container, after the liquid formulation has been depleted, the container is discarded and a new container has to be acquired. Since the cost of the container is a substantial part of the total cost of the aerosol package, the consumer suffers a substantial economic loss in having to discard the empty aerosol container. Thus, the introduction of a refillable aerosol container which can be reused with different types of liquid formulations would result in a substantial saving to the consumer. Such a refillable aerosol container would be particularly attractive to beauty salon operators and operators of other similar establishments. In such grooming establishments, the customers often desire to acquire some of the liquid formulations to which they are attracted, such as hair lacquers. In the case of national brands packaged in aerosol containers, this poses no problem. However, the owner of a local beauty salon may desire to market or make available to his customers a limited amount of his own formulation. In such case, the operator does not desire to be put to the expense of large-scale packaging of his formulations. Rather, a small-scale operator would prefer to acquire a supply of aerosol containers which he can fill with his own formulations and sell to his customers under his own label. A small-scale operator would also prefer to use aerosol containers which are capable of being refilled, so that his customers could acquire a new supply of the same formulation or a different type of formulation periodically in the same container.

With such refillable aerosol containers, after the initial cost of the container has been paid by the consumer on his first purchase, in subsequent purchases the consumer would only have to pay for the liquid formulations. Thus, the small-scale operator would be able to sell his formulations to his customers at a price which would be attractive to them in comparison to the prices of National brand formulations sold in individual aerosol containers.

At the present time, there are small refillable aerosol containers available on the market, which are fillable from large supply containers. One such example is a small, purse-size aerosol bottle of hair lacquer which can be carried in the purse of the consumer and is refillable when empty, from a larger container. The valve in the large container has an actuator, which is removable to allow the engagement of the valve stem in the large container with the valve stem on the smaller container. The valves are operated by forcing the two together, such that the valve in each container is opened and a transfer of the formulation takes place. However, before such transfer can be accomplished, there must be a pressure differential between the two containers. This may be created by cooling or venting the smaller container.

The disadvantages of the large supply container are pointed out in a copending application which was filed simultaneously with this application. The copending application is directed to a valve system fitting for producing superior transfer of a liquid formulation into a refillable small container. Additionally, the refillable small aerosol container of the prior art has a number of disadvantages. A basic disadvantage is that there is no way of knowing how much liquid formulation has been transferred to the aerosol container or to what extent it has been filled. The operator or consumer usually presses the valve of one container against the valve of the other container until he believes the small container is filled. He has no knowledge whatsoever as to what extent the small container has been filled.

In view of the foregoing, there is a need for means on refillable aerosol containers for determining that the aerosol container is filled to a certain predetermined level. Such means are necessary if a container is to be used by the consumer for liquid formulations purchased from a beauty salon or other retail establishment. Further, the aerosol container must have means for bleeding off excess gases and trapped air from within the container, so that it can be refilled to a certain level. The present refillable containers provide no such means for accomplishing these purposes.

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a new and improved refillable aerosol container.

Another object of this invention is to provide a new and improved refillable aerosol container which can be filled to a predetermined level.

A further object of this invention is to provide a new and improved refillable aerosol container having means which can permit the escape of excess gases and trapped air.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a new and improved refillable aerosol container which can be refilled to a predetermined level and which is simple and inexpensive to construct.

Still other objects and advantages of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part appear hereinafter.

The invention accordingly comprises the features of construction, combination of elements and arrangement of parts which will be exemplified in the construction hereinafter set forth in the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference is had to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of the refillable aerosol container according to this invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the refillable aerosol container according to the invention, indicating the manner in which it is filled;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the nozzle head used on the liquid dispensing valve of the aerosol container according to the invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the refillable aerosol container according to the invention.

The refillable aerosol container of this invention comprises a cylindrical shell having a first annular disc connected to one end of the shell and a second annular disc connected to the other end of the shell. Connected to the first annular disc is a first valve cap containing a first dual-purpose valve and connected to the second annular disc is a second valve cap containing therein a second liquid-dispensing valve which can be used to dispense liquids or gases. The dip tube attached to the first dual-purpose valve should have an internal diameter of one thirty-seconds to eight thirty-seconds of an inch. On the other hand, the dip tube attached to the liquid-dispensing valve may be a straight, large-diameter dip tube having a diameter of three-sixteenths to ten-sixteeths of an inch, or a small diameter U-shaped dip tube having a diameter of one thirty-second to eight thirty-seconds of an inch. Further, a nozzle head may be attached to each of the two valves so that they can be used to spray the liquid formulation.

Referring to FIG. 1, the refillable aerosol container is shown at 10, at the top of which there is connected a dual-purpose valve 11 having a nozzle head 12 attached thereto. When the nozzle head 12 is depressed, the valve 11 is opened and the pressure of the gases 13 above the liquid level 14 forces the liquid formulation up into dip tube 15 through the open valve 11 and out through the opening in the nozzle head 12 in the form of a spray. Located at the bottom of the container 10 is a liquid-dispensing valve 16 which, in the preferred embodiment, is a dual-purpose valve similar in construction to valve 11. There is a nozzle head 17 located on the valve 16 for spraying liquid formulations or excess gases or air when the container is being refilled. In FIG. 1, the container is in the upright position in which it is used. The container is able to stand on one end since the end wall on which the valve 16 and the nozzle head 17 are located is depressed, such that the top of said nozzle head lies above the edge of the container 10.

FIG. 2 shows the aerosol container 10 in an inverted position as it is about to be filled with a liquid formulation. The container comprises a cylindrical shell 18 which may be of a metal, glass, plastic, or the like. Connected to the cylindrical shell 18 by means of a folded joint 19, is an annular disc 20 which is bent in a concave manner. The liquid-dispensing valve 16 is located in valve cap 22 having a flanged end 21 which is connected to the annular disc 19 by means of a circular folded joint 23. The folded joint 19 and the circular folded joint 23 are preferred, although it is to be understood that other suitable joints may be used. The folded joints are preferred because they are easier to form with the above-described parts and because they result in good, permanent seals. Further, because a durable container is desired which can withstand high pressures, the annular discs and the valve caps are preferably constructed of metal. As can be seen, in the valve cap 22 there is a circular opening for the insertion of an actuator 24 of the nozzle head 17. At the top of the valve cap 22 and pressing against it, there is a valve seat 25, preferably constructed of an elastic plastic, having a circular opening. Pressing against the valve seat 25 is a hollow plug 26 having a flanged end or external shoulders 27 and internal shoulders 28, which plug is preferably constructed of plastic or other elastic material. The plug 26 and valve seat 25 are maintained in place by crimping the sides of the valve cap 22 against the shoulders 27.

Located in the plug 26 is a female valve head 29 in the upper part of which is a depression into which an actuator 24 fits. The walls of the valve head surrounding the depression taper to tips which press snugly against valve seat 25 to form a seal which prevents the passage of liquids and gases when the valve head 29 is in a rest position. The sides of the valve head, below the part where the depression is located, broaden out to form shoulders which fit snugly against the channel in plug 26. The sides of the valve head then narrow, to form a tapered part. As can be seen, a notch 30 cuts diagonally through the valve head, such that the upper side of the notch wall is just above the part of the valve head where the shoulders are formed. The valve head 29 is spring biased by means of spring 31 which rests on the inner shoulders 28 of the plug 26, so that the tips of the valve head press against valve seat 25 when the valve is in a rest position.

The nozzle head 17 comprises an actuator 24 having a channel therein. The channel in the actuator opens into a chamber 33 on the top of the nozzle head. At one end of the chamber 33 there is a nozzle opening. Directly below the external side of the opening there is located a concave lip 34 which is attached to the nozzle head, such that any fluid spray emerging from the opening will be deflected upwardly by the lip and away from the annular disc 20 and the flange 21.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown the nozzle head 17 and the relative size of the lip 34. Further, as can be seen from FIG. 2, the top of nozzle head 17 is just below the top edge of the joint 19, such that the container can be turned around and placed on a flat surface (FIG. 1).

Attached to the bottom of the plug 26, there is a large-diameter dip tube 35, preferably constructed of a plastic material. The length of the dip tube 35 is determined by the level to which it is desired to fill the container 10 and should be at least 0.25 inch below the shoulders 28 on the plug 26. With a dip tube of the length shown in FIG. 2, it is desired to fill the container 10 to the level 36. Thus, when the liquid formulation has reached the level 36, the valve 11 will be able to spray the liquid formulation, thereby indicating to the operator that the container is filled to the desired level. It should be emphasized that the diameter of the dip tube 35 is most important. The large diameter of the tube, which is generally three-sixteenths to ten-sixteenths of an inch and, preferable, four-sixteenths to eight-sixteenths of an inch, prevents the passage of liquid formulation up the straight dip tube 35 through capillary action. Thus, if a small-diameter dip tube were used, liquid formulation which has been splashed against the dip tube and liquid formulation in the form of excess foam, will pass up the dip tube 35 by capillary action before the container is filled to the level 36. This formulation will be sprayed, thereby prematurely indicating to the operator that the container is filled to the required level. When the container 10 is filled to the level 36, the gases above the liquid formulation will force the liquid up the dip tube 35 through the channel in plug 26, as shown by the arrow 37. The liquid will then pass into the notch 30, up against the top wall of the notch and out to the space between the valve head 29 and the wall of the plug 26, as shown by the arrow 38. When the valve is opened by depressing the nozzle head 17, the liquid formulation will pass through the opening created by the movement of the tips on the valve head, through the opening in actuator 24 and up into the chamber 33, as shown by the arrow 39. The liquid will then pass out through nozzle opening in the form of a spray which is deflected upwardly by the lip 34, as shown by the arrow 40. Thus, when the container 10 is filled to the level 36, the valve 16 will be able to spray the liquid formulation. Further, the valve 11 can be used to remove excess gases from the container while the container 10 is being filled. When the container is being filled, some air in the container will be trapped and compressed and such trapped air can be removed from the container by means of valve 16 since the rising level of the liquid transferred to the container will force the trapped air adjacent to the opening in dip tube 35. It should be understood that, although a particular type of dual-purpose valve has been described above, any liquid-dispensing valve, suitable for aerosol containers, may be used.

At the other end of the shell 18 there is a convex annular disc 41 which is joined to shell 18 by means of a folded joint 42 similar to joint 19. The annular disc 41 is shown as being convex, although it may also be of a flat configuration. A convex configuration is preferred however, since this enables the container to hold more of the liquid formulation. Further, as a result of the convex configuration, the nozzle head which is attached to the valve on that end of the container can protrude outwardly from the container so that the spray formed will not contact any part of the container.

Connected to the annular disc 41 is a valve cap 43 with a flange end 44 by means of circular folded joint 45. As can be seen, the construction of cap 43, flange 44 and joint 45 is similar to the construction of valve cap 22, flange 21 and joint 23. Located in the valve cap 43 are the parts of valve 11 which are similar in construction and operation to the parts of valve 16. The dip tube 15, connected to plug 26a, is the usual dip tube which is constructed of a plastic material. As illustrated, the dip tube 15 has a narrow diameter, that is, a diameter of generally one thirty-second to eight thirty-seconds of an inch and, preferably, four thirty-seconds to six thirty-seconds of an inch. The dip tube may also be of a larger diameter although a small diameter is preferred since it permits capillary action, such that nearly all of the liquid formulation in the container can be sprayed before it is necessary to refill the container.

There is also shown in FIG. 2, a cross section of part of the fitting 46 which is attachable to a large pressurized container (not shown) which contains the liquid formulation. The construction of this fitting is described and claimed in the copending application previously mentioned. The fitting comprises a threaded cylindrical body 47 having inner shoulders at one end thereof. Resting on the inner shoulders is a hollow plastic plug 48 having a flange at one end thereof, similar to plug 26. Resting on the flanged end of the plug 48 is a valve seat 49 which is similar to valve seat 25 and is similarly constructed of an elastic or rubber material. Connected to the lower end of plug 48 there is a dip tube 50 whose lower end (not shown) is immersed in the liquid formulation. Located in plug 48 there is a valve head 51 comprising a lower cylindrical part, a middle rectangular part having protruding shoulders, and an upper cylindrical part. Cutting diagonally across the lower cylindrical part is a notch. Connected to the valve head 51 and formed integrally therewith is a valve rod 53 having a notch at its top end. The valve rod 53 has a channel therein having an opening 54 at one end of the rod. The channel also opens out at the other end of the rod. A spring biases the valve head 51 so that it presses against valve seat 49. Thus, the hole 54 is closed by the valve seat when the valve is in a rest position. Maintaining the valve seat 49 and the plug 48 in position, is a valve cap 55 which is locked in place by threaded nut 56.

The container 10 is filled by inverting the container and moving it downwardly, as shown by the arrow 57, to insert valve rod 53 into the openings in valve cap 43 and valve seat 25, so that it presses against the female valve head 29. By exerting sufficient pressure downward, the valve heads will move to open both valves. Under the force of gas pressure, liquid formulation will pass up through dip tube 50, through the channel in plug 48 and into the notch in valve head 51. The liquid formulation will then pass from the top of the notch along the side of valve head 51 and into the hole 54, as shown by the arrow 58. From the hole 54, the liquid formulation will pass up the channel in valve rod 53 and into the depression in female valve head 29. The flow of the liquid in valve 11 is the same as that described with reference to valve 16, only in the reverse direction. Thus, the liquid eventually passes through dip tube 15 into container 10.

It can be seen that the container can be filled very easily. With one hand, one can exert downward pressure to keep the engaging valves open, using a finger to periodically exert pressure on nozzle head 17 to see if a liquid is emitted and, thus, determine that the container is filled to the required level. When a spray is emitted by nozzle head 17, the downward pressure is released to close the valve. The container 10 is then removed from the valve rod 53 and turned right side up. A nozzle head 12 may then be attached to valve 11, as shown in FIG. 1, and depressed in the direction of the arrow to spray the formulation.

In the preferred embodiment, the valve cap 22 and the valve 16 are similar in construction and size to valve cap 43 and valve 11. Additionally, the circular folded joints and flat folded joints on both ends of the container are the same. However, it should be understood that this does not have to be the case. Thus, valve 16 may be any typical liquid-dispensing valve which may differ in construction from dual-purpose valve 11. The advantage of having these parts the same, however, is that this decreases the cost of manufacturing the container and simplifies the repair of the container. The interchangeability of parts does not require the manufacturer of the container to produce a large number of different parts, such as valve heads, etc., which would result in a marked increase in the cost of the container. Further, the simplicity ,nd durability of the valves described results in a container which is relatively inexpensive to manufacture and which will withstand substantial use.

It should also be understood that when the gas pressure in the container is reduced below the required level, new aerosol gases can be introduced into the container by means of the described valves.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is illustrated a partial cross-sectional view of the container of FIGS. 1 and 2, with the exception that, in place of the straight dip tube 35 connected to the valve 16, there is a U-shaped dip tube 59. Thus, in place of the large-diameter tube 35, a small diameter U-shaped dip tube 59 can be used, such that its open end is at the level 60 to which it is desired to fill the container 10. The diameter of the dip tube 59 is about the same as that of dip tube 15, which is generally one thirty-second to eight thirty-seconds of an inch and, preferably, four thirty-seconds to six thirty-seconds of an inch. As noted from FIG. 4, the open end of the dip tube 59 is placed away from the open end of the dip tube 15. As a result of the U-shape of dip tube 59 and the distance between the open ends thereof and the dip tube 15, the liquid formulation cannot splash into the opening of the dip tube 59 and pass up the tube by capillary action. Rather, as with the large-diameter dip tube, the liquid formulation will only enter the dip tube when the liquid reaches the desired level 60. As can be appreciated with this type of dip tube, it is important for the operator filling the container to deep the vertical axis of the container perpendicular to the horizontal, otherwise the container will not be filled properly. In the valve arrangement of FIG. 2, this is accomplished by the close-fitting engagement of valve rod 53 and valve head 29.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of one end of a container 61, similar in construction to container 10 of FIGS. 1-4, and illustrates the use of an alternate type of joint to those shown in FIG. 2. As in FIG. 2, an annular disc 62 (similar to disc 20) is joined to shell 63 by means of a flat folded joint 64. The flanged end 65 of valve cap 66 is joined to the disc 62 by means of a O-ring seal joint 67. The joint 67 is formed by folding the flanged end 65 over most of the circumferential area of an O-ring 68 constructed of rubber or an elastic plastic material, and then covering the remaining exposed area of the O-ring with the edge of the disc 62. The flanged end 65, wrapped about the O-ring, is then crimped against the edge of the disc 62 to thereby hold it in place and form a seal. Both joints 67 and 23 form equally good seals. However, the joint 23 is preferred because of the ease in construction.

The preferred embodiment of this invention has been described above with reference to particular types of valves, valve components and joints. However, it is to be understood that other valve parts, valves, joints, etc., may be substituted therefor which are capable of performing substantially the same functions, without departing from the scope of the invention.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and since certain changes may be made in the above construction without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

It should also be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all the generic and specific features of the invention herein described and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.