Title:
Freezer bags with integral closure means
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bag useful for forming ice cubes or the like has a pouch-like fill chamber which may extend across the whole of the width of the bag. The fill chamber has an outlet opening connecting to the interior of the bags which comprises at least two passageways in parallel relationship. An internal seal is provided to isolate the fill chamber from the interior of the bag. The seal may comprise a zip type fastener, or a simple flap valve disposed in each of the passageways. The arrangement facilitates the handling of the bags to permit larger bags that may be filled more rapidly and with little or no air trapped within the bag, in comparison to other known bags.



Inventors:
Folkmar, Jan (Arosa, CH)
Application Number:
09/841563
Publication Date:
10/24/2002
Filing Date:
04/23/2001
Assignee:
FOLKMAR JAN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
249/105, 249/119, 249/127
International Classes:
B65D30/22; A23L3/36; B65D30/24; B65D33/25; B65D33/34; F25C1/24; (IPC1-7): B65D30/22; B65D33/16; F25C1/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HECKENBERG JR, DONALD H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
C/o, Kenneth Garrett Folkmar M. J. (392 Lakeshore Road East, Oakkville, ON, L6J 1J8, CA)
Claims:
1. A bag for freezing liquids comprising a pair of similar flexible walls each having a rectangular shape with an upper margin extending in a transverse direction, a lower margin, and side margins extending therebetween, arranged in mutually confronting relationship and sealed together about said lower margin and said side margins; upper portions of said bag walls together defining a fill chamber having an entrance thereto in communication with the exterior of said bag and an outlet opening thereto disposed beneath said entrance in communication with the interior of said bag, characterized wherein said outlet opening comprises at least two passageways disposed in parallel relationship, and formed by interconnecting opposed wall portions of said bag; said passageways serving to constrain the outward movement of said walls of said bag; and means disposed within the chamber for isolating said outlet opening from said entrance.

2. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 1 wherein said passageways together have a combined transverse dimension of not less than about 35 percent of the transverse dimension of said bag.

3. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 1 wherein said passageways are formed by interconnecting opposed wall portions of said bag by welds.

4. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 3 wherein said welds are of a releasable type.

5. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 4 wherein said isolating means comprises a zip fastener.

6. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 5 wherein said zip fastener is of a push-together type.

7. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 6 wherein said side margins are united together in a welded joint, and wherein said zip fastener has a pair of opposed ends united in said welded joints at a juncture and wherein said juncture extends transversely along said zip fastener by an amount at least equal to about 5 mm.

8. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 6 wherein said passageways together have a combined transverse dimension equal to not less than 90 percent of the transverse dimension of the interior of said bag.

9. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 6 wherein said chamber has an entrance opening having a transverse dimension equal to not less than 90 percent of the transverse dimension of the interior of said bag.

10. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 6 wherein said walls are joined together in the interior of said bag by an open grid of welds to form ice cube compartments.

11. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 10 wherein said welds are of a releasable type.

12. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 10 wherein said bag has an interior transverse dimension so as to provide at least six passageways in parallel each having a transverse dimension of not less than about 40 mm.

13. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 1 wherein said isolating means comprises a flap valve associated with each of said passageways.

14. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 13 wherein there are at least three said passageways which together have a combined transverse dimension of not less than about 35 percent of the transverse dimension of the interior of said bag.

15. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in 13 wherein said walls are joined together in the interior of said bag by an open grid of welds to form ice cube compartments.

16. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 15 wherein said welds are of a releasable type.

17. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 16 wherein the mutually opposed surfaces of the bag are joined together to form a small passage adjacent to the lower margin of the bag in flow relation with the interior of the bag.

18. A bag for freezing liquids as defined in claim 1 wherein said bag is closed by a tamper resistant barrier that must be removed to permit the use of the bag.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to bags which are useful in containing liquids for freezing, particularly where it is desired to form a number of relatively small portions of frozen liquid rather than a large block.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Ice cube bags are well known in commerce, and are described in the patent art. They may be exemplified by the bag described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,783,042, of common inventorship herewith. Such bags include a pair of generally rectangular bag walls of a thin plastic foil arranged in mutually confronting relationship. The walls have a margin therearound including an upper margin portion, and are sealed together to leave a relatively small opening in the upper margin portion, to provide an inlet opening. The confronting walls are sealed together on each side of the inlet opening along downwardly converging lines to form a funnel like structure, the outlet of which connects to the interior of the bag. The walls in the interior are interconnected by a plurality of spaced apart joints arranged in an open grid pattern, to define a plurality of compartments connected in flow relationship with the funnel and with each other. When the bag is filled with water it is closed using a clip which is clamped about the bag walls at the most restricted part of the funnel. When the bag is frozen, the water will form a plurality of ice cubes which are joined together by small ice bridges, which may be easily broken apart. The interconnects forming the grid are also of a nature whereby they may be easily ruptured, to provide a bag filled with individual ice cubes. The bag may be cut open, or alternatively, one or more seams of the bag may be of a pull-apart type, to permit the ice cubes to be removed from the interior of the bag.

[0003] In published European Patent Application 0129,072, also of common inventorship herewith, improvements are described in ice cube bags wherein an internal seal comprising a simple flap valve is disposed in the outlet to the funnel structure, thereby avoiding the use of an external clamp for closing the bag after filling with liquid. One of the problems associated with this type of internal closure is that of air being trapped inside the bag. This may act to reduce the effective capacity of the bag, and it may cause spoilage of air-sensitive material stored within the bag.

[0004] While there are no absolute limits to the physical dimensions of ice cube bags, it will be understood that for reasons of economy, the bag walls are made from very thin foils. Accordingly, a bag that is too wide will be impractical to handle when filling. Moreover, there are limits to the size of the simple flap valves that may be used, which if exceeded, will lead to leakage from the bags.

[0005] An examination of several different commercially available ice cube bags shows there to be a de facto standard for the si7e of the ice cubes, most of which have a width of 40 to 42 mm; additionally, the bags are all dimensioned to produce four ice cubes across, and accordingly have an interior transverse dimension of about 165 mm. Moreover, the bags all have funnel mouth openings having a width extending along the upper margin of the bag of between about 60 to 75 mm, which is some 25 to 35 percent of the transverse dimension of the interior of the bag, and the funnel outlets to have a transverse opening dimension of some 18 to 25 mm, or about 12 to 15 percent of the bag's width. The relatively small size, particularly of the funnel outlet, makes the filling of the bag with water a rather slow operation, particularly where it is desired to fill many bags. Where it is desired to fill the bag with a thin food slurry such as a puree, the small size of both the inlet and the outlet to the funnel will make the operation impractical, at least for a domestic application. For various reasons it is not possible simply to enlarge the outlet openings of the above funnel like structures to make filling progress more quickly, and any substantial enlargement of the physical size of the bags to increase their capacity would exacerbate the problem.

[0006] It is known to provide freezer bags with zip type closures which can be fully opened to permit the addition of solid foods to the bag. However, if such a bag is filled with liquid, the walls of the bag will balloon outwardly in an uncontrollable manner, making the bag difficult to close. Moreover, the zip structure of commercially produced bags usually permits leakage of liquid adjacent to the juncture of the zipper ends and the side margins of the bag.

[0007] It is an object of this invention to provide improved freezer bags which are of particular use with liquids.

[0008] It is another object of this invention to provide bags of the foregoing type which may be filled more readily than commercially available bags.

[0009] It is still another object of this invention to provide freezer bags for liquids which may be used for freezing relatively thick liquids such as purees.

[0010] It is yet another object of this invention to provide freezer bags for liquids that may be substantially larger than is usual, but which may be handled in a controllable manner.

[0011] It is a further object of this invention to provide freezer bags wherein little or no air remains in the bag when it is closed.

[0012] In accordance with a broad aspect of the invention, in a bag which comprises a pair of mutually confronting bag walls having a generally rectangular form, including an upper margin portion, the upper portion of the bag is configured to define a pouch-like fill chamber. The fill chamber has an entry opening thereto in communication with the exterior of the bag, which opening suitably extends across at least 50 percent and preferably across the substantially the whole of the length of the upper margin of the bag. The fill chamber has an outlet opening thereto in communication with the interior of the bag. The outlet opening comprises at least two passageways disposed in parallel relationship formed by joining mutually confronting surfaces of the bag, which passageways suitably and preferably define the zone of greatest restriction between the inlet opening and the interior of the bag. The passageways together may suitably provide a transverse opening having a total width of not less than about 45 mm, which is to say about 35 percent of the transverse dimension of standard size bags. The bag further comprises an internal seal disposed within or adjacent to the outlet opening. In accordance with one embodiment, the internal seal comprises a zip type fastener disposed intermediate the entry opening and the outlet opening, and the outlet opening may extend substantially across the whole of the transverse width of the bag if desired, so as not to provide a significant impediment to the flow of liquid from the fill chamber.

[0013] The passageways which define the outlet to the fill chamber interconnect the confronting surfaces of the bag, and serve to prevent the walls of the bag from ballooning outwardly in an uncontrolled manner in the vicinity of the closure means when the bag is filled with liquid, and concomitantly, to retain the confronting portions of the zip fastener in proximity. The passageways in this embodiment suitably comprise a plurality of small welds which are transversely spaced apart across the bag, and which in their totality may have a transverse dimension less than about 3 percent of the transverse dimension of the bag.

[0014] The bag of this first embodiment may be filled to any desired extent with liquid, and any air within the bag may be totally expelled by squeezing the sides of the bag together before sealing the bag. Should it be desired, the bag may be overfilled to ensure that all air is displaced prior to closure, and the excess liquid discarded. In either of these modes of use, the bag may be partially closed shortly prior to it being filled to completion, thereby facilitating the complete expulsion of air from the bag.

[0015] The internal seal is not limited to zip type fasteners, and in accordance with a second embodiment to be described hereinafter, it may be of a self-closing type. Still other means are contemplated and will occur to persons skilled in the art, including, for example, adhesive seals.

[0016] The wall thickness of the chamber portion of the bag in this first embodiment is suitably and preferably greater than that of the interior of the bag, so providing greater stability and increased ease of handling of the bag during the filling process. Given the marked increase in filling speed, it is quite feasible for bags of this embodiment to be appreciably larger in their width than the above mentioned industry standard bags, and bags for making six or more standard ice cubes across their width are quite practical.

[0017] The term ‘weld’ as used throughout the specification includes the thermal fusion of the walls together, or a bonding together of the walls through the use of an agent. Suitably and preferably, the welds defining structure within the bag are of a releasable type, which is to say that they may be ruptured without destroying the integrity of the walls of the bag, as is known in the art. Accordingly, following the freezing of liquid within the bag, it may be removed in a frozen condition by rupturing the interior welds.

[0018] In accordance with a second embodiment, which is subsequently described in greater detail, the passageways are defined by axially elongated welds disposed at transversely spaced apart intervals, and the seal means comprises a simple flap valve disposed in each of the passageways, which valves may be similar to the valve described in the aforementioned European patent application. Such valves may be suitably formed by simply folding the upper portion of the bag wall inwardly, in a generally known manner. However, if it is attempted to make the transverse dimension of valves of this type too large, the flaps will distort and leakage will result. By providing a plurality of separate ones of the valves, the total opening between the fill chamber and the interior of the bag can be sufficiently large to permit a ready flow of liquid into the interior of the bag, while individual ones of the valves remain sufficiently small so as to produce a reliable liquid tight seal. Moreover, valves of this type will remain open until such time as they are closed by a small head of liquid. Accordingly, the provision of more than one passageway and valve permits air to escape through the valve of one passageway while the bag is being filled through the other, thereby reducing problems associated with air being trapped within the bag.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 shows in elevation a bag in accordance with a first embodiment;

[0020] FIG. 2 shows upper portions of the bag partially opened for filling;

[0021] FIG. 3 shows schematically a section on line 3-3 of FIG. 2, on enlarged scale;

[0022] FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 1, but shows a second embodiment;

[0023] FIG. 5 shows upper portions of the bag of FIG. 4 partially open for filling;

[0024] FIG. 6 shows schematically a section on line 6-6 of FIG. 5; and

[0025] FIG. 7 shows schematically a section on line 7-7 of FIG. 5.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0026] Referring to the drawings in detail, with reference first to FIGS. 1-3, a bag in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention is identified therein by the numeral 10. Bag 10 comprises a pair of mutually confronting walls 12, 14 which are generally identical, and differentiated here primarily to facilitate the description. Walls 12, 14 are generally rectangular in shape, and have an upper margin 16, a lower margin 18 and side margins 20. The lower margin 18 and side margins of walls 12, 14 are joined together by continuously welded seam 22.

[0027] A push together zip fastener 40 comprises a first continuous channel portion 42 and a second continuous barbed portion 44 disposed in confronting relationship on the inner surfaces of walls 12, 14 to span continuously between opposed side margins 20. The opposed ends of fastener 40 will normally be incorporated into and form a part of seams 22 at a juncture 46. Suitably and preferably, as seen in FIG. 1, juncture 46 will extend transversely by a small amount, typically not less than the greater of about 5 mm and about five times the width of channel portion 42, so as to ensure the tightness of the seal when zip 40 is closed. Also preferably, channel portion 42 and barbed portion 44 will have cooperating cross sections to permit fastener 40 to be peeled apart by a force applied to the upper margins 16 of bag 10, while resisting an unintended separation under the influence of pressure within bag 10.

[0028] The walls 12, 14 of bag 10 are joined together at transversely spaced apart spot welds 50 which are disposed adjacent to upper margin 16. Walls 12, 14 are additionally joined together at spot welds 52 which together form an open grid 54 within the interior of bag 10, and which define a plurality of interconnected compartments 56. A plurality of small perforations 58 are provided on walls 12, 14 across the whole of the width of bag 10 adjacent to upper margin, to form a tear-off tamper-proof barrier.

[0029] Referring now particularly to FIGS. 2 and 3, when bag 10 is to be used, a suitable force will be applied to margins 16, causing the rupture of safety barrier welds 58 and the peeling apart of the mating portions 42, 44 of zip 40, to form a pouch-like chamber 60 having a mouth opening 62 formed by upper margins 16. It will be appreciated that as liquid is introduced into chamber 60, liquid pressure will cause walls 16 to bow outwardly between adjacent welds 50, whereby in effect these welds define passageways 66 which connect chamber 60 to the interior to bag 10.

[0030] The wall thickness of bag 10 in the portion thereof defining chamber 60 will normally be substantially increased in comparison to the wall thickness in the interior portions of the bag, so as to stabilize zip fastener 40. The effect of this increased rigidity, together with that provided by zip fastener 40 itself, is to provide a significantly increased stiffness to the walls of the chamber portion 60. Accordingly, it is found that the transverse dimension of bag 10 may be significantly increased, i.e. by some 50 percent or more, to provide a bag for producing at lest six standard width ice cubes across, while ensuring an ease of handling bag 10 during the filling operation, and a very marked increase in the speed of filling. Conveniently, when bag 10 is filled near to completion, zip 40 may be partially closed, following which the remainder of the bag is filled to a point where free liquid remains in compartment 56; at this point, any air remaining within bag 10 can be expelled either by a suitable orientation of the bag or by squeezing the sides together, following which zip 40 is completely closed to seal the bag.

[0031] Welds 50, 52 are preferably of a type wherein they may be ruptured without destroying the integrity of walls 12, 14. Accordingly, when a liquid is frozen within bag 10 to form cubes within the compartments 56, welds 50, 52 may be ruptured, and the cubes will be free within the confines of bag 10, in an analogous manner to that described in the previously mentioned U.S. Patent. In order to gain access to the cubes, it is merely required to open zip 40, and following the removal of the quantity of cubes desired, zip 40 may be closed to permit the remaining cubes to be stored within bag 10.

[0032] Referring now to FIGS. 4-7, a bag 110 in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention comprises walls 112, 114 having an upper margin 116, a lower margin 118 and side margins 120. Walls 112, 114 are joined together around lower margin 118 and side margins 120 in a continuous seam 122. Each of walls 112, 114 is folded over inwardly at upper margin 116 to form a pair of similar flaps 124, 126. Walls 112,114 and flaps 124, 126 are united along axially extending, transversely spaced apart weld lines 128; the walls and flaps are further united along generally transversely extending weld lines 130 which intersect weld lines 128 and seams 122 to form a plurality of inverted U shapes 132 and a plurality of passages 134 therebetween. Flaps 124, 126 are respectively joined to an adjacent overlaying wall 12, 14 along transversely extending weld lines 136 which bridge between adjacent ones of passages 134 at the upper end thereof. Flaps 124, 126 extend into the interior of bag 110 somewhat below the lower end of passages 134, and terminate at edge 138. The flaps 124, 126 are respectively joined adjacent their lower ends to walls 112, 114 at transversely spaced apart spot welds 139 which are offset from passageways 134. Walls 112, 114 in the interior of bag 110 are joined together by releasable welds 152 forming an open grid 154 in an analogous manner to the first embodiment. An additional line of welds 156 which may be of a releasable type or otherwise is formed across the whole of the width of bag 110 marginally apart from lower margin 118, to form therewith a small tubular member 158 connected in flow relationship with the interior of bag 110.

[0033] Referring now to FIG. 5, it may be seen that walls 112, 114 and flaps 124, 126 therewith may be outwardly bowed above passageways 134 to form a pouch-like chamber 160 extending across the whole of the width of bag 110 and it will be appreciated that liquid poured into chamber 160 will readily drain into the interior of bag 110 through the several passageways 134. When bag 110 is being filled with liquid, the bag may be oriented in the final stages of filling so that one of passageways 134 is superior to the remaining passageways. liquid within chamber 160 will then flow into the interior of bag 110 through the lower one or ones of the passageways 134, and air will be expelled through the uppermost of the passageways. When bag 110 is completely filled in this manner, the bag is inverted, thus causing liquid to flow between a flap 124, 126 and the adjacent wall 112, 114, and to exert a closure pressure on the flaps within each of the passageways 134, whereby the flaps form simple, non-return valves 136. Typically, each of passages 134 may have a transverse dimension of between about 15 to 18 mm, so as to ensure a leak-free operation of the valves. Accordingly, the combined transverse dimensions of each of passageways 134 in this embodiment may have a value of between about 45 to 54 mm, which will permit bag 110 to be filled with liquids much more rapidly than bags of the prior art.

[0034] Access to the frozen contents of bag 110 may conveniently be gained by hinging the bag about weld line 156, causing the bag to stretch and tear open along this weld line. This will permit the opposed walls 112,114 of bag 110 to be grasped and pulled outwardly, to release the welds forming grid 154, whereby the ice cubes will be free within the confines of the bag.