Title:
CONTAINER CLOSURE WITH MEMBRANE-PIERCING PUNCH
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container closure includes a body formed to include a product-dispensing spout and to mate with a filler neck of a bottle or other container. A thin membrane seal is coupled to the bottle filler neck to close and seal a top opening of the bottle filler neck.



Inventors:
Davidson, Ryan P. (Evansville, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/617010
Publication Date:
08/09/2007
Filing Date:
12/28/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/301, 215/388, 220/277
International Classes:
B65D39/00; B67D99/00; B65D17/42; B65D83/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDWARDS, BRETT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARNES & THORNBURG LLP (11 SOUTH MERIDIAN, INDIANAPOLIS, IN, 46204, US)
Claims:
1. A package comprising a container formed to include an interior region and an edge defining an opening into the interior region, a membrane seal coupled to the container to close the opening into the interior region to block discharge of any fluid material stored in the interior region from the container though the opening, and a closure including a body coupled to the container to cover the membrane seal and formed to include a product-discharge outlet and a membrane opener coupled to the body for movement relative to the body while the body is coupled to the container between a first position leaving the membrane seal intact and a second position piercing the membrane seal to produce a fluid-flow aperture therein to allow fluid material stored in the interior region to leave the container by passing through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal, the opening defined by the edge, and the product-discharge outlet formed in the closure.

2. The package of claim 1, wherein the closure further includes a flip-top cap and a hinge coupled to the body and to the flip-top cap to support the flip-top cap for movement relative to the body from a closed position on the body covering the membrane opener and the product-discharge outlet to an opened position away from the body uncovering the membrane opener and the product-discharge outlet to expose the membrane opener to allow a user to move the membrane opener relative to the body from the first position to the second position to pierce the membrane seal.

3. The package of claim 2, wherein the membrane opener includes a movable punch support coupled to the body and arranged to lie in an interior cavity formed in the flip-top cap upon movement of the flip-top cap to the closed position on the body, wherein the membrane opener further includes a membrane-piercing punch coupled to the movable punch support and formed to include a tip arranged to face toward an upwardly facing outer surface of the membrane seal and to pierce the membrane seal to produce the fluid-flow aperture therein upon movement of the flip-top cap to the opened position and movement of the membrane opener to the second position, and wherein a portion of the membrane-piercing punch is arranged to lie in the interior cavity formed in the flip-top cap upon movement of the flip-top cap to the closed position on the body.

4. The package of claim 1, wherein the membrane opener includes a movable punch support coupled to the body and a membrane-piercing punch coupled to the movable punch support and arranged to face toward an upwardly facing outer surface of the membrane seal and pierce the membrane seal to produce the fluid-flow aperture therein upon movement of the membrane opener to the second position.

5. The package of claim 4, wherein the movable punch support includes an upwardly facing exterior surface adapted to be contacted by a finger of a user as the user applies a downwardly directed force to the membrane opener and configured to define means for transferring a downwardly directed force applied by a user to the membrane-piercing punch so that the membrane-piercing punch is moved downwardly toward the interior region of the container to pierce the underlying membrane seal and thus form the fluid-flow aperture in the membrane seal.

6. The package of claim 4, wherein the membrane opener further includes means for spreading portions of the membrane seal in radially outward directions once pierced by the membrane-piercing punch to expand and maintain the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal during flow of any fluid material extant in the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture and the product-discharge outlet to exit the container.

7. The package of claim 4, wherein the movable punch support is made of a deformable material and is configured to undergo deformation and change shape during movement of the membrane opener between the first and second positions.

8. The package of claim 7, wherein the movable punch support has a convex shape and is arranged to extend away from the container upon movement of the membrane opener to the first position and wherein the movable punch support has a concave shape and is arranged to extend toward the container upon movement of the membrane opener to the second position.

9. The package of claim 8, wherein the movable punch support includes a frustoconical exterior surface when the movable punch support is arranged to lie in the first position and the second position.

10. The package of claim 4, wherein the movable punch support includes a ceiling and a frustoconical side wall having a narrow-diameter edge coupled to a downwardly facing interior surface of the ceiling and a relatively larger larger-diameter edge coupled to the body and the membrane-piercing punch is coupled to the ceiling.

11. The package of claim 10, wherein the membrane opener further includes a plurality of membrane spreaders coupled to a downwardly facing interior surface of the frustoconical side wall and configured to provide means for spreading portions of the membrane seal in radially outward directions once pierced by the membrane-piercing punch to expand and maintain the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal during flow of any fluid material extant in the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture and the product-discharge outlet to exit the container.

12. The package of claim 4, wherein the movable punch support includes a downwardly facing interior surface coupled to the membrane-piercing punch and an upwardly facing exterior surface adapted to be pushed downwardly by a user to move the membrane opener from the first position to the second position and wherein the upwardly facing exterior surface has a convex shape upon movement of the membrane opener to the first position and a concave shape upon movement of the membrane opener to the second position.

13. The package of claim 12, wherein the movable punch support includes a round ceiling and a frustoconical side wall, the frustoconical side wall is arranged to interconnect the round ceiling and the body and to cooperate with the round ceiling to define the downwardly facing interior surface and the upwardly facing exterior surface, and the membrane-piercing punch is coupled to a portion of the downwardly facing interior surface provided on the round ceiling.

14. The package of claim 13, wherein the membrane opener further includes a plurality of membrane spreaders coupled to a portion of the downwardly facing interior surface provided on the frustoconical side wall and configured to provide means for spreading portions of the membrane seal in radially outward directions once pierced by the membrane-piercing punch to expand and maintain the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal during flow of any fluid material extant in the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture and the product-discharge outlet to exit the container.

15. The package of claim 4, wherein the membrane-piercing punch is formed to include at least one fluid-discharge port to provide means for communicating fluid material discharged from the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal upon movement of the membrane opener to the second position past the membrane-piercing punch to the product-discharge outlet formed in the closure.

16. The package of claim 15, wherein at least a portion of the membrane-piercing punch is arranged to extend into the passageway formed in the filler neck upon movement of the membrane opener to assume the first position.

17. The package of claim 15, wherein the membrane-piercing punch has an inverted bulbous onion-dome shaped wall formed to include the at least one fluid-discharge port and terminating at a tip providing a downwardly projecting sharpened point.

18. The package of claim 1, wherein the container further includes a vessel formed to include the interior region and a filler neck coupled to the vessel and formed to include the edge defining the opening and a passageway leading from the opening to the interior region, the membrane seal is coupled to the edge of the filler neck, the body of the closure is mounted on the filler neck to locate the membrane opener above the membrane seal, and the membrane opener is arranged to be moved manually relative to the body in a downward direction toward the vessel to pierce the membrane seal to produce the fluid-flow aperture while the body remains mounted on the filler neck.

19. The package of claim 10, wherein the closure further includes a flip-top cap and a hinge coupled to the body and to the flip-top cap to support the flip-top cap for movement relative to the body from a closed position on the body covering the membrane opener and the product-discharge outlet to an opened position away from the body uncovering membrane opener and the product-discharge outlet to expose the membrane opener to allow a user to move the membrane opener relative to the body from the first position to the second position to pierce the membrane seal.

20. The package of claim 1, wherein the membrane opener includes a sharpened tip arranged to pierce the membrane seal to produce the fluid-flow aperture therein upon movement of the membrane opener to the second position.

21. A package comprising a closure including a body formed to include a product-discharge outlet and adapted to be coupled to a container formed to include a filler neck and seal breaker means coupled to the body for piercing a membrane seal coupled to the filler neck and arranged to lie under the product-discharge outlet formed in the body and close an opening into a passageway formed in the filler neck to establish a fluid-flow aperture in the membrane seal.

22. The package of claim 21, further comprising a container and a membrane seal, and wherein the container includes a vessel formed to include an interior region and a filler neck coupled to the vessel and formed to include an edge defining an opening into a passageway leading to the interior region of the vessel, the membrane seal is coupled to the filler neck to close the opening into the passageway formed in the filler neck, and the seal breaker means includes a membrane-piecing tip.

23. The package of claim 22, wherein the seal breaker means further includes spreader means adjacent to the membrane-piercing tip for spreading portions of the membrane seal in outward directions once pierced by the membrane-piercing tip to expand and maintain a fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal upon movement of the membrane-piercing tip to pierce the membrane seal so that any fluid material extant in the interior region of the vessel is free to flow through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal, passageway formed in the filler neck, and product-discharge outlet formed in the body to exit the container.

24. A package comprising a container formed to include an interior region and an opening into the interior region, a membrane seal coupled to the container to close the opening, and a closure coupled to the container to cover the membrane seal and formed to include seal breaker means for piercing the membrane seal while the closure is coupled to the container to establish a fluid-flow aperture in the membrane seal to allow any fluid material extant in the interior region to flow through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal and the opening formed in the container.

25. The package of claim 24, wherein the seal breaker means includes a membrane-piercing tip arranged to overlie the membrane seal.

26. The package of claim 25, wherein the seal breaker means further includes spreader means for spreading portions of the membrane seal in outward directions once pierced by the membrane-piercing tip to expand and maintain the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal during flow of any fluid material extant in the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal and the opening formed in the container.

27. The package of claim 26, wherein the seal breaker means includes a movable punch support including a ceiling and a side wall, the membrane-piercing tip is included in a punch coupled to the ceiling, and the spreader means in coupled to the side wall.

28. The package of claim 26, wherein the spreader means is formed to include at least one fluid-discharge port to provide means for communicating fluid material discharged from the interior region of the container through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the membrane seal to exit the container while an exterior wall of the spreader means engages a portion of the membrane seal defining a boundary of the fluid-flow aperture.

Description:

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/743,102, filed Jan. 6, 2006, which is expressly incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure relates to closures for mounting on the top of bottles or other containers, and in particular, to a container closure including a “flip-top” cap. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a container formed to include a top opening covered by a thin membrane arranged to close and seal the top opening.

SUMMARY

A package in accordance with the present disclosure includes a container, a seal arranged to close an opening into an interior region formed in the container, and a closure coupled to the container to cover the seal. In illustrative embodiments, the closure includes a body adapted to be coupled to the container and a seal opener mounted for movement relative to the body to pierce the seal while the closure body is coupled to the container. In illustrative embodiments, a thin membrane made of sealing material provides the seal.

According to the present disclosure, a closure includes a body formed to include a product-discharge outlet and adapted to mount on a filler neck of a bottle or other container. The closure also includes a membrane opener coupled to the body for movement relative to the body between a raised position lying away from a membrane seal closing an open mouth into the filler neck of the bottle or other container and a lowered position piercing the membrane seal. Once the membrane seal is pierced, fluid retained in an interior region of the bottle or other container can be discharged through the product-discharge outlet.

In illustrative embodiments, the closure also includes a flip-top cap appended to a hinge arranged to support the flip-top cap for movement from a closed position on the body covering the product-discharge outlet to an opened position away from the body uncovering the product-discharge outlet. In use, once the flip-top cap (or other cap) is moved to an opened position to expose the membrane opener, a user pushes downwardly on the opener to move the opener relative to the body to pierce the membrane. Fluid material retained in the bottle can then flow through the pierced membrane into and through the product-discharge outlet for consumption by the user.

In one illustrative embodiment, the membrane opener is coupled to a top wall of the body and located in side-by-side relation to the product-discharge outlet. In another illustrative embodiment, the membrane opener is coupled to the body and located, at least in part, in the product-discharge outlet and is formed to include fluid-discharge ports to allow fluid material to flow from the bottle, in sequence, through (1) the opening formed in the pierced membrane, (2) the fluid-discharge ports formed in the membrane opener, and (3) product-discharge outlet.

Additional features of the disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments exemplifying the best mode of carrying out the disclosure as presently perceived.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The detailed description particularly refers to the accompanying figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a closure formed to include a product-dispensing spout and a membrane opener shown diagrammatically in FIG. 1 showing that the closure is adapted to be mounted on a filler neck of a bottle or other container closed by a membrane seal also shown diagrammatically in FIG. 1 to provide a package for a fluid material;

FIG. 2A is a partial perspective view of a package including the closure of FIG. 1 mounted on a bottle, with a portion of the closure broken away to reveal a membrane seal coupled to a top edge of the filler neck of the bottle and showing that the closure includes a body coupled to the filler neck to cover the membrane seal and a flip-top cap that has pivoted on a hinge relative to the body to assume an “opened” position to expose (1) a product-dispensing spout included in the body and (2) a membrane opener including a push button located alongside the spout and coupled to a top wall of the body;

FIG. 2B is a side elevation view of the “opened” closure of FIG. 2A;

FIG. 2C is a front elevation view of the opened closure of FIGS. 2A and 2B;

FIG. 2D is a top plan view of the opened closure of FIGS. 2A-C showing (on the right) a closure mount comprising the body and the membrane opener and (on the left) a closure unit comprising the flip-top cap and a hinge interconnecting the body and the flip-top cap and showing the product-dispensing spout in a “6 o'clock” position on the closure body and the membrane opener labeled “PUSH” in a “12 o'clock” position on the closure body;

FIG. 2E is a sectional view taken along line 2E-2E of FIG. 2D showing that the membrane opener is mounted for movement on a top wall of the body and comprises a “raised” push button providing a punch support, a central downwardly extending membrane-piercing punch coupled to the underside of a ceiling of the raised push button, and several downwardly extending membrane spreaders coupled to the underside of a frustoconical side wall of the raised push button and arranged to surround the membrane-piercing punch;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the underside of the closure body shown in FIGS. 2A-2E showing twelve membrane spreaders arranged in a circle on the underside of the frustoconical side wall of the push button and the single membrane-piercing punch coupled to the underside of a round ceiling of the push button;

FIGS. 4-8 show manual “push-activated” movement of the membrane opener relative to the closure body to pierce the membrane seal mounted on the bottle filler neck to allow fluid material to flow out of the bottle past an “opened” membrane seal through the product-dispensing spout formed in the closure body;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2A showing arrangement of a thin membrane seal on a top edge of the bottle filler neck to cover and seal a top opening formed in the bottle filler neck so that fluid material stored in the interior region of the bottle is retained in the bottle and showing the push button of the membrane opener in an initial raised position relative to the bottle and a downwardly projecting sharpened tip of the membrane-piercing punch of the membrane opener located just above the membrane seal;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 4 showing downward movement of the punch and of the push button toward the lowered position shown in FIG. 6 in response to a downward force applied manually by a user to an exterior surface of the push button to cause the downwardly projecting sharpened tip of the punch to contact and begin to deform the “stretched” underlying thin membrane seal;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view similar to FIGS. 4 and 5 showing further downward movement of the push button relative to the closure body to reach the lowered position to cause the downwardly projecting sharpened tip of the punch to pierce the membrane seal and showing use of the membrane spreaders provided on the push button around the punch to spread the pierced membrane seal in radially outward directions to expand and maintain a fluid-flow aperture in the pierced membrane seal after the user has lifted a finger away from the lowered push button;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view similar to FIGS. 4-6 showing flow of fluid material from the bottle through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the pierced membrane seal and maintained by the membrane spreaders and then through the product-dispensing spout formed in the body of the closure without having first removed the closure from the bottle to break or remove the membrane seal;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 2A showing the push button included in the membrane opener after it has been moved manually as suggested in FIG. 6 to assume the lowered position shown in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view of the closure and bottle of FIG. 8, with portions broken away, showing the underside of the pierced membrane seal and showing portions of the membrane-piercing punch and the membrane spreaders extending downwardly into the fluid-flow aperture formed in the pierced membrane seal;

FIG. 10 is a transverse sectional view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 6 looking “upwardly” through the fluid-flow aperture formed in the pierced membrane seal toward the membrane-piercing punch mounted on the round ceiling of the push button and toward the twelve membrane spreaders mounted on the frustoconical side wall of the push button;

FIG. 11 is a partial perspective view, with portions broken away, of a package including a closure mounted on a bottle to cover a mouth opening into an interior region formed in the bottle (as shown in FIG. 16) and formed to include a flip-top cap that has been pivoted (relative to a body included in the closure and coupled to a filler neck of the bottle) to assume an “opened” position and expose a movable membrane opener coupled to the body and showing location of the membrane opener in a product-dispensing spout included in the body and formation of the membrane opener to include four fluid-discharge ports;

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of the closure of FIG. 11 showing (on the left) a closure mount comprising the body and the membrane opener and (on the right) a closure unit comprising the flip-top cap and a hinge interconnecting the body and the flip-top cap;

FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken along line 13-13 in FIG. 12 showing an exemplary shape and location of the membrane opener in an interior region of a tubular product-dispensing spout included in the body and showing that the membrane opener includes a central punch formed to include a downwardly projecting sharpened tip and fluid-discharge ports “orbiting” the sharpened tip and a frustoconical punch support that is arranged to extend around the central punch and retain the central punch in either a raised position away from an underlying membrane seal coupled to a top edge of a bottle filler neck as shown in FIG. 16 or a lowered position piercing the underlying membrane seal as shown in FIG. 18 when the closure is coupled to the bottle filler neck;

FIG. 14 is a right-side elevation view of the opened closure of FIG. 12;

FIG. 15 is a front elevation view of the opened closure of FIG. 12;

FIG. 16 is a sectional view taken along line 16-16 of FIG. 11 showing the central punch retained by the frustoconical punch support in a raised position above the underlying membrane seal and showing arrangement of the membrane seal on the top edge of the bottle filler neck to cover and seal a top opening formed in the bottle filler neck so that fluid material stored in the interior region of the bottle is retained in the bottle;

FIG. 17 is a view similar to FIG. 16 showing downward movement of the central punch and movement of the punch support toward the lowered position shown in FIG. 8 in response to a downward force applied manually by a user to an exterior surface of, for example, the central punch to cause the downwardly projecting sharpened tip of the central punch to contact and begin to deform the underlying membrane seal;

FIG. 18 is a view similar to FIGS. 16 and 17 showing further downward movement of the central punch to reach the lowered position and showing penetration of the membrane seal by the sharpened tip of the central punch and incidental discharge of fluid material from the interior region of the bottle through fluid-discharge ports formed in the central punch into a “basin” defined by an exterior surface of the membrane opener; and

FIG. 19 shows partial inversion of the bottle of FIGS. 11 and 16-18 while the central punch is retained in the lowered position to allow discharge of fluid material extant in the interior region of the bottle through the fluid-discharge ports and the surrounding upright tubular product-dispensing spout so that a user is able to use the product-dispensing spout to sip fluid material from the bottle through the opened closure without having first removed the closure from the bottle to break or remove the membrane seal.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A package in accordance with the present disclosure includes a container, a seal arranged to close an opening in the container, and a closure coupled to the container to cover the seal. A package 11 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present disclosure is suggested in FIGS. 1-10 and includes a seal opener 18 formed in a closure 10 away from a product-discharge outlet 45 formed in closure 10 as suggested, for example, in FIGS. 2A and 4. A package 211 in accordance with a second embodiment of the present disclosure is suggested in FIGS. 11-19 and includes a seal opener 218 formed in a closure 210 and located in a product-discharge outlet 245 formed in closure 210 as suggested, for example, in FIGS. 11 and 16.

A closure 10 in accordance with an illustrative embodiment of the present disclosure is adapted to be mounted on a bottle 16 to provide a package 11 as suggested in FIG. 1. Closure 10 includes a body 12 adapted to mount on a filler neck 14 of a bottle 16 (or other container), a membrane opener 18 mounted for movement on closure body 12, a hinge 20, and a flip-top cap 22 as suggested in FIG. 2. An illustrative closure 10 is shown in FIGS. 2A-2E. A seal 24 is interposed between closure 12 and bottle 16 as suggested diagrammatically in FIG. 1 and is coupled to a circular top edge 25 of filler neck 14 to close and seal an open mouth 26 of filler neck 14 as shown, for example, in FIG. 6. Seal 24 is a thin membrane made of sealing material in an illustrative embodiment. It is within the scope of this disclosure to use any suitable sealing material that can be pierced.

When flip-top cap 22 of closure 10 is moved away from body 12 to assume an opened position exposing membrane opener 18 as suggested in FIGS. 2A and 4, a downward force 28 can be applied, for example, by a consumer or user 30 to move membrane opener 18 downwardly relative to body 12 as suggested in FIG. 5 to cause a downwardly projecting sharpened tip 19 included in membrane opener 18 to pierce membrane seal 24 as suggested in FIG. 6. Then, consumer 30 can partially invert bottle 16 as suggested in FIG. 7 to allow fluid material 32 contained in an interior region 34 of bottle 16 to flow through a fluid-flow aperture or opening 36 pierced in membrane seal 24. Fluid material 32 discharged through opening 36 flows into a passageway 42 formed in an upright tubular product-dispensing spout 44 included in body 12 of closure 10. Product-dispensing spout 44 is formed to include product-discharge outlet 45 and is located alongside membrane opener 18 as shown, for example, in FIGS. 2A and 2D.

A closure 210 in accordance with another illustrative embodiment of the present disclosure is shown in FIGS. 11-19 closure 210 is adapted to be mounted on a bottle 216 to provide a package 211 in an illustrative embodiment. Closure 210 includes a membrane opener 218 formed to include fluid-discharge ports 238 as suggested in FIG. 12. Membrane opener 218 is arranged to extend into a fluid-discharge spout 244 included in closure 210 as shown, for example, in FIG. 13. Membrane opener 218 can be moved to pierce a membrane seal 224 coupled to bottle 16 while closure 210 is mounted on a bottle 216.

Closure 10 is shown, for example, in FIGS. 1-10. In an illustrative embodiment, closure 10 includes a mouthpiece 47 and a single piece of plastics material formed to include a closure mount 46 comprising body 12 and membrane opener 18 and a closure unit 48 comprising hinge 20 and flip-top cap 22 as suggested in FIG. 2D. Hinge 20 interconnects body 12 and flip-top cap 22 and supports flip-top cap 22 for movement relative to body 12 from a “closed” position shown, for example, in FIG. 1 to an “opened” position shown, for example, in FIG. 2A. Closure 10 is formed using any suitable injection-molding or compression-molding technique.

Body 12 of closure 10 also includes a neck anchor 50 adapted to mate with bottle filler neck 14 and to support membrane opener 18 and product-dispensing spout 44 as shown, for example, in FIG. 3. As suggested in FIG. 2E, neck anchor 50 includes an annular top wall 52 coupled to product-dispensing spout 44 and to membrane opener 18 and an annular side wall 54 arranged to depend from a perimeter portion of top wall 52. Annular top wall 52 is tiered in the illustrative embodiment. In the illustrated embodiment, an interior surface of annular side wall 54 is threaded or otherwise configured as suggested in FIG. 4 to mate with a companion finish on an exterior surface of bottle filler neck 14 when closure 10 is mounted on bottle filler neck 14.

As shown, for example, in FIGS. 2E and 4, membrane opener 18 includes a push button 55 (providing a punch support) and a central punch 56 including a downwardly projecting sharpened tip 19. Push button 55 includes a ceiling 57 and a side wall 59 that is arranged to extend around ceiling 57. Side wall 59 has a frustoconical shape in an illustrative embodiment. Frustoconical side wall 59 includes an outer edge 60 coupled to top wall 52 of body 12 at a first annular hinge joint 61 therebetween. Frustoconical side wall 59 also includes an inner edge 64 coupled to ceiling 57 at a second annular hinge joint 62 therebetween.

Membrane opener 18 is an “over-center” device mounted for movement on closure body 12 between a raised position shown in FIGS. 2A and 4 and a lowered position shown in FIGS. 8 and 6. Membrane opener 18 can be moved manually by a user as suggested in FIGS. 4-7 to cause central punch 56 to be retained in either a raised position away from underlying membrane seal 24 as shown in FIG. 4 or a lowered position piercing membrane seal 24 as shown in FIG. 6. In an illustrative embodiment, membrane opener 18 will remain in the raised position shown in FIG. 4 until it is pushed downwardly as shown in FIG. 5, and then, once membrane opener 18 is pushed far enough toward seal 24, membrane opener 18 will “move past center” and “snap” to assume the lowered position causing sharpened tip 19 to pierce membrane seal 24 to form a fluid-flow aperture 36 therein as suggested in FIGS. 6, 7, 9, and 10.

Central punch 56 is retained by frustoconical punch support 55 normally in a raised position above underlying membrane seal 24 as shown in FIG. 4. Membrane seal 24 is fixed, for example, to top edge 25 of bottle filler neck 14 to cover and seal a top opening formed in filler neck 14 of bottle 16 so that fluid material 32 stored in interior region 34 of bottle 16 is retained in bottle 16.

Downward movement of central punch 56 and deformation of punch support 55 toward the lowered position is shown in FIG. 5 in response to a downward force 28 applied manually by a user 30 to an exterior surface of, for example, central punch 56. Such a force could also be applied to other portions of membrane opener 18. Further downward movement of central punch 56 to reach the lowered position to cause penetration of membrane seal 24 by central punch 56 is shown in FIG. 6.

Partial inversion of bottle 16 while central punch 56 is retained in the lowered position is shown in FIG. 7 to allow discharge of fluid material 32 extant in interior region 34 of bottle 16 through upright tubular product-dispensing spout 44 and fluid-discharge outlet 45 so that a user is able to use product-dispensing spout 44 to sip fluid material 32 from bottle 16 through the opened closure 10 without having first removed closure 10 from bottle 16 to break or remove membrane seal 24.

Closure 10 is a two-piece flip-top style closure intended, for example, for sports drinks closure 10 could be a one-piece design if mouthpiece 47 and mouthpiece support 49 cooperate to form a monolithic component. One feature of closure 10 is the built-in provision for piercing the foil seal membrane on the bottle. This allows the user to drink directly from closure 10 without having to first take it off the bottle and then remove the foil membrane seal 24 underneath. There are two thin flexible “hinge” areas 61, 62 built into membrane opener 18. When membrane opener 18 is depressed, hinges 61, 62 flex and cause membrane opener 18 to “invert” and pierce foil 24. Closure 10 can be resealed by simply flipping the flip-top cap 22 back to the closed position shown in FIG. 1.

A package 11 comprises a container 16, a membrane seal 24, and a closure 12 as suggested, for examiner, in FIGS. 4-7. Container 16 is formed to include an interior region 34 and an edge 25 defining an opening 26 into interior region 34. Membrane seal 24 is coupled to container 16 to close opening 26 into interior region 34 to block discharge of any fluid material 32 stored in interior region 34 from container 16 though opening 26.

Closure 10 includes a body 12 coupled to container 16 to cover membrane seal 24 and formed to include a product-discharge outlet 45. Closure 10 also includes a membrane opener 18 coupled to body 12 for movement relative to body 12 while body 12 is coupled to container 16 between a first position leaving membrane seal 24 intact as suggested in FIG. 4 and a second position piercing membrane seal 24 as suggested in FIG. 6 to produce a fluid-flow aperture 36 therein to allow fluid material 32 stored in interior region 34 to leave container 16 by passing through fluid-flow aperture 36 formed in membrane seal 24, opening 26 defined by edge 25, and product-discharge outlet 45 formed in closure 10 as suggested in FIG. 7.

In the illustrated embodiment, closure 10 further includes a flip-top cap 22 and a hinge 20 coupled to body 12 and to flip-top cap 22 as suggested in FIG. 2A-2D. Hinge 20 supports flip-top cap 22 for movement relative to body 12 from a closed position on body 12 covering membrane opener 18 and product-discharge outlet 45 to an opened position away from body 12 uncovering membrane opener 18 and product-discharge outlet 45 to expose membrane opener 18 to allow a user to move membrane opener 18 relative to body 12 from the first position to the second position to pierce membrane seal 24.

Membrane opener 18 includes a movable punch support 55 coupled to body 12 and arranged to lie in an interior cavity 23 formed in flip-top cap 22 upon movement of flip-top cap 22 to the closed position on body 12 as suggested in FIGS. 1 and 2. Membrane opener 18 further includes a membrane-piercing punch 56 coupled to movable punch support 55 and formed to include a tip 19 arranged to face toward an upwardly facing outer surface of membrane seal 24 and to pierce membrane seal 24 to produce fluid-flow aperture 36 therein upon movement of flip-top 22 cap to the opened position and movement of membrane opener 18 to the second position as suggested in FIG. 4-6. A portion of the membrane-piercing punch 56 is arranged to lie in interior cavity 23 formed in flip-top cap 22 upon movement of flip-top cap 22 to the closed position on body.

Movable punch support 55 includes an upwardly facing exterior surface 63 adapted to be contacted by a finger of a user 30 as suggested in FIG. 5 as user 30 applies a downwardly directed force 28 to membrane opener 18 and configured to define means for transferring a downwardly directed force 28 applied by a user 30 to membrane-piercing punch 56 so that membrane-piercing punch 56 is moved downwardly toward interior region 34 of container 16 as suggested in FIGS. 5 and 6 to pierce the underlying membrane seal 24 and thus form fluid-flow aperture 36 in membrane seal 24. Membrane opener 18 further includes means for spreading portions of membrane seal 24 in radially outward directions once pierced by membrane-piercing punch 56 to expand and maintain fluid-flow aperture 36 formed in membrane seal 24 as suggested in FIGS. 6, 7, 10, and 11 during flow of any fluid material 32 extant in interior region 34 of container through fluid-flow aperture 36 and product-discharge outlet 45 to exit container 16.

In illustrative embodiments, movable punch support 55 is made of a deformable material and is configured to undergo deformation and change shape during movement of membrane opener 18 between the first and second positions as suggested in FIGS. 4-7. Movable punch support 55 has a convex shape and is arranged to extend away from container 16 upon movement of membrane opener 18 to the first position as suggested in FIGS. 2A, 2C, 2E, and 4. Movable punch support 55 has a concave shape and is arranged to extend toward container 16 upon movement of membrane opener 18 to the second position as suggested in FIGS. 6-10. Movable punch support 55 includes a frustoconical exterior surface when movable punch support 55 is arranged to lie in both of the first and second positions.

As suggested, for example, in FIGS. 1-7, 9, and 10, movable punch support 55 includes a ceiling 57 and a frustoconical side wall 59 having a narrow-diameter edge 61 coupled to a downwardly facing interior surface of ceiling 57 and a relatively larger larger-diameter edge 62 coupled to body 12 as suggested in FIG. 4. Membrane-piercing punch 56 is coupled to ceiling 57 as suggested in FIGS. 3 and 4.

Membrane opener 18 further includes a plurality of membrane spreaders 70 coupled to a downwardly facing interior surface of frustoconical side wall 59 and arranged to lie in circumferentially spaced-apart relation to one another. Membrane spreaders 70 are configured to cooperate with one another to provide means for spreading portions of membrane seal 24 in radially outward directions once pierced by membrane-piercing punch 56 to expand and maintain fluid-flow aperture 36 formed in membrane seal 24 prior to and during flow of any fluid material 32 extant in interior region 39 of container through fluid-flow aperture 36 and product-discharge outlet 45 to exit container 16.

In an illustrative embodiment shown in FIG. 3, each membrane spreader 70 includes a radially inwardly facing inner edge 70i rooted on side wall 59 at a point near narrow-diameter edge or hinge 61 and a radially outwardly facing outer edge 70o rooted on side wall 59 at a point near large-diameter edge or hinge 62. A wide base 70b extends radially between inner and outer edges 70i and 70o. A triangle-shaped plate 70p extends from wide base 70b in a direction toward wide unbroken membrane seal 24 as suggested in FIG. 4. Plate 70p has a thickness that is thinner that the lateral width of companion base 70b as shown, for example, in FIG. 3. Inner edge 70i provides one exposed edge of triangle-shaped plate 70p and outer edge 70o provides another exposed edge of triangle-shaped plate 70p and intercepts inner edge 70i at junction or tip 70j as suggested in FIGS. 3 and 4.

In an illustrative embodiment shown in FIG. 3, membrane-piercing punch 56 includes a wide base 56b mating with round ceiling 57 and extending along a “diameter” of round ceiling 57 and a triangle-shaped plate 56p extending from wide base 56b in a direction toward unbroken membrane seal 24 as suggested in FIG. 4. Plate 56p has a thickness that is thinner than the lateral width of companion base 56b as shown, for example, in FIG. 3. Plate 56p includes a steeply sloping edge 56s intercepting a gradually sloping edge 56g to define tip 19. Membrane-piercing punch 56 further includes a first stabilizer rib 56sr′ coupled to ceiling 57 and one side of plate 56p and a second stabilizer rib 56sr″ coupled to ceiling 57 and another side of plate 56p to locate plate 56p and tip 19 between first and second stabilizer ribs 56sr″.

Movable punch support 55 includes a downwardly facing interior surface 65 coupled to membrane-piercing punch 56 and an upwardly facing exterior surface 63 adapted to be pushed downwardly by a user 30 to move membrane opener 18 from the first position to the second position. Upwardly facing exterior surface 63 has a convex shape upon movement of membrane opener 18 to the first position as suggested in FIG. 4 and a concave shape upon movement of the membrane opener 18 to second position as suggested in FIG. 6. Movable punch support 55 includes a round ceiling 55 and a frustoconical side wall 59. Frustoconical side wall 59 is arranged to interconnect round ceiling 57 and body 12 and to cooperate with round ceiling 57 to define a downwardly facing interior surface 65 and upwardly facing exterior surface 63. Membrane-piercing punch 56 is coupled to a portion of downwardly facing interior surface 65 provided on round ceiling 57 as shown best in FIG. 3.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2E and 4-8, closure 10 is formed to include a product-dispensing spout 44 comprising a mouthpiece 47 formed to include product-discharge outlet 45 and a mouthpiece support 49 formed to include an internal fluid-flow channel 80 leading to product-discharge outlet 45. Mouthpiece 47 is made of a soft material and formed to include criss-crossing slits 81, 82 cooperating to define product-discharge outlet 45. In an illustrative embodiment, mouthpiece 47 is “overmolded” onto mouthpiece support 49 or vice versa.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2A, closure 10 includes child-resistant means 90 for retaining flip-top cap 22 in a closed position on closure body 12 as suggested in FIG. 1. Child-resistant means 90 comprises a cap-retainer latch 93 coupled to flip-top cap 22, a first retainer strip 91 having an anchor end 94 coupled to body 12, and a second retainer strip 92 having an “anchor” end 95 coupled to body 12 and a “free” end 96 coupled to a “free” end 97 to provide a frangible latch retainer 98 having a notch 99 mating with cap-retainer latch 93 as suggested in FIGS. 1 and 2C. When flip-top cap 22 is moved from a closed position shown in FIG. 1 to an opened position shown in FIG. 2, cap-retainer latch 93 is moved with flip-top cap 22 relative to body 12 to cause frangible latch retainer 98 to break as shown, for example, in FIG. 2A. The “broken” free end 96 of first retainer strip 91 and the broken free end 97 of second retainer strip 92 extend or otherwise project in radially outwardly extending directions to provide a visual signal to an observer that flip-top cap 22 has been moved at least once since manufacture from a closed position on body 12 to an opened position away from body 12.

As suggested in FIG. 11, a closure 210 in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure includes a body 212 adapted to mount on a filler neck 214 of a bottle 216 (or other container), a membrane opener 218, a hinge 220, and a flip-top cap 222. An illustrative closure 210 is shown in FIGS. 12-15. A thin membrane seal 224 is coupled to a circular top edge 225 of filler neck 14 to close and seal an open mouth 226 of filler neck 214 as shown, for example, in FIG. 16.

When flip-top cap 222 is moved away from body 212 to assume an opened position exposing membrane opener 218 as suggested in FIG. 16, a downward force 228 can be applied, for example, by a consumer or user 230 to move membrane opener 218 downwardly relative to body 212 as suggested in FIG. 17 to cause a downwardly projecting sharpened tip 219 included in membrane opener 218 to pierce membrane seal 224 as suggested in FIG. 18. Then, consumer 230 can partially invert bottle 216 as suggested in FIG. 19 to allow fluid material 232 contained in an interior region 234 of bottle 216 to flow through a fluid-flow aperture or opening 236 pierced in membrane seal 224 and four fluid-discharge ports 238 formed in membrane opener 218. Fluid material 232 discharged through ports 238 flows into a basin 240 established, for example, by an exterior surface of membrane opener 218 and into a passageway 242 formed in an upright tubular product-dispensing spout 244 included in body 212 of closure 210.

Closure 210 is monolithic in an illustrative embodiment and thus is formed of a single piece of plastics material to include a closure mount 246 comprising body 212 and membrane opener 218 and a closure unit 248 comprising hinge 220 and flip-top cap 222. Hinge 220 interconnects body 212 and flip-top cap 222. Closure 210 is formed using any suitable injection-molding or compression-molding technique.

Body 212 also includes a neck anchor 250 adapted to mate with bottle filler neck 214 and to support membrane opener 218 and product-dispensing spout 244 as shown, for example, in FIG. 13. Neck anchor 250 includes an annular top wall 252 coupled to product-dispensing spout 244 and an annular side wall 254 depending from a perimeter portion of top wall 252 as suggested in FIG. 13. Annular top wall 252 is tiered in the illustrative embodiment. In the illustrated embodiment, an interior surface of annular side wall 254 is threaded or otherwise configured as suggested in FIG. 16 to mate with a companion finish on an exterior surface of bottle filler neck 214 when closure 210 is mounted on bottle filler neck 214.

As shown, for example, in FIGS. 11 and 13, membrane opener 218 is located in passageway 242 formed in tubular product-dispensing spout 244. Membrane opener 218 includes a central punch 256 formed to include fluid-discharge ports 238 and downwardly projecting sharpened tip 219 and a frustoconical punch support 258 that is arranged to extend around central punch 256. Punch support 258 is interposed between and interconnects body 212 and central punch 256 as suggested in FIG. 13. Punch support 258 includes an outer edge 260 coupled to body 212 (e.g., product-dispensing spout 244) at a first annular hinge joint 261 therebetween. Punch support 258 also includes an inner edge 264 coupled to product-dispensing spout 244 at a second annular hinge joint 262 therebetween.

Membrane opener 218 is an “over-center” device configured to cause central punch 256 to be retained in either a raised position away from underlying membrane seal 224 as shown in FIG. 16 or a lowered position piercing membrane seal 224 as shown in FIG. 18. In an illustrative embodiment, membrane opener 218 will remain in the raised position shown in FIG. 16 until it is pushed downwardly as shown in FIG. 17, and then, once membrane opener 218 is pushed far enough toward seal 224, membrane opener 218 will “move past center” and “snap” to assume the lowered position causing sharpened point 219 to pierce membrane seal 224.

Central punch 256 is retained by frustoconical punch support 258 normally in a raised position above underlying membrane seal 224 as shown in FIG. 16. Membrane seal 224 is fixed to top edge 225 of bottle filler neck 214 to cover and seal a top opening formed in filler neck 214 of bottle 216 so that fluid material 232 stored in interior region 234 of bottle 216 is retained in bottle 216.

Downward movement of central punch 256 and deformation of punch support 258 toward the lowered position is shown in FIG. 17 in response to a downward force 228 applied manually by a user 230 to an exterior surface of, for example, central punch 256. Such a force 228 could also be applied to other portions of membrane opener 218. Further downward movement of central punch 256 to reach the lowered position to cause penetration of membrane seal 224 by central punch 256 and, perhaps, incidental discharge of fluid material 232 from interior region 234 of bottle 216 through fluid-discharge ports 238 formed in central punch 256 into a basin 240 defined by an exterior surface of membrane opener 218 is shown in FIG. 18.

Partial inversion of bottle 216 while central punch 256 is retained in the lowered position is shown in FIG. 17 to allow discharge of fluid material 232 extant in interior region 234 of bottle 216 through fluid-discharge ports 238 and the surrounding upright tubular product-dispensing spout 244 and product-discharge outlet 245 so that a user is able to use product-dispensing spout 244 to sip fluid material 232 from bottle 216 through the opened closure 210 without having first removed closure 210 from bottle 216 to break or remove membrane seal 224.

This is a single-piece flip-top style closure intended, for example, for sports drinks. One feature of closure 210 is the built-in provision for piercing the foil seal membrane on the bottle. This allows the user to drink directly from closure 210 without having to first take it off the bottle and then remove the foil membrane seal 224 underneath. There are two thin flexible “hinge” areas 261, 262 built into membrane opener 218. When membrane opener 218 is depressed, hinges 261, 262 flex and cause valve 218 to invert and pierce foil 224. Holes 238 are built into membrane opener 218 to allow fluid material 232 to flow through. Closure 210 can be resealed by simply flipping the flip-top cap 222 back to the closed position.

A package 211 comprises a container 216, a membrane seal 224, and a closure 210 as suggested, for examniner, in FIGS. 11-19. Container 210 is formed to include an interior region 234 and an edge 225 defining an opening 226 into interior region 234. Membrane seal 224 is coupled to container 210 to close opening 226 into interior region 234 to block discharge of any fluid material 232 stored in interior region 234 from container 210 though opening 226.

Closure 210 includes a body 212 coupled to container 210 to cover membrane seal 218 and formed to include a product-discharge outlet 245. Closure 210 also includes a membrane opener 218 coupled to body 212 for movement relative to body 212 while body 212 is coupled to container 216 between a first position leaving membrane seal 224 intact as suggested in FIG. 16 and a second position piercing membrane seal 224 as suggested in FIG. 18 to produce a fluid-flow aperture 236 therein to allow fluid material 232 stored in interior region 234 to leave container 216 by passing through fluid-flow aperture 216 formed in membrane seal 224, opening 226 defined by edge 225, and product-discharge outlet 245 formed in closure 210.

In the illustrated embodiment, closure 210 further includes a flip-top cap 222 and a hinge 220 coupled to body 212 and to flip-top cap 22 as suggested in FIGS. 11-14. Hinge 220 supports flip-top cap 222 for movement relative to body 212 from a closed position on body 212 covering membrane opener 218 and product-discharge outlet 245 to an opened position away from body 212 uncovering membrane opener 218 and product-discharge outlet 245 to expose membrane opener 218 to allow a user 230 to move membrane 218 opener relative to body 212 from the first position to the second position to pierce the membrane seal 224.

Membrane opener 218 includes a movable punch support 255 coupled to body 212 and arranged to lie in an interior cavity 223 formed in flip-top cap 222 upon movement of flip-top cap 222 to the closed position on body 212 as suggested in FIGS. 11 and 13. Membrane opener 218 further includes a membrane-piercing punch 256 coupled to movable punch support 255 and formed to include a tip 219 arranged to face toward an upwardly facing outer surface of membrane seal 224 and to pierce membrane seal 224 to produce fluid-flow aperture 236 therein upon movement of flip-top cap 222 to the opened position and movement of membrane opener 218 to the second position as suggested in FIGS. 16-18. A portion of the membrane-piercing punch 256 is arranged to lie in interior cavity 223 formed in flip-top cap 222 upon movement of flip-top cap 222 to the closed position on body 212.

Movable punch support 255 includes an upwardly facing exterior surface adapted to be contacted by a finger of a user 230 as suggested diagramatically in FIG. 17 as user 30′ applies a downwardly directed force 228 to membrane opener 218 and configured to define means for transferring a downwardly directed force applied by a user to membrane-piercing punch 256 so that membrane-piercing punch 256 is moved downwardly toward interior region 234 of container 216 to pierce the underlying membrane seal 224 and thus form fluid-flow aperture 236 in membrane seal 224. Membrane opener 218 further includes spreader means 231 for spreading portions of membrane seal 224 in radially outward directions once pierced by membrane-piercing punch 256 to expand and maintain fluid-flow aperture 236 formed in membrane seal 218 during flow of any fluid material 232 extant in interior region 234 of container through fluid-flow aperture 236 and product-discharge outlet 245 to exit container 216. Spreader means 231 is provided by a portion of membrane-piercing punch 256 as shown in FIGS. 18 and 19 in an illustrative embodiment.

In illustrative embodiments, movable punch support 255 is made of a deformable material and is configured to undergo deformation and change shape during movement of membrane opener 218 between the first and second positions as suggested in FIGS. 16-19. Movable punch support 255 has a convex shape and is arranged to extend away from container 216 upon movement of membrane opener 218 to the first position as suggested in FIG. 16. Movable punch support 255 has a concave shape and is arranged to extend toward container 216 upon movement of membrane opener 218 to the second position as suggested in FIGS. 18 and 19. Movable punch support 255 includes a frustoconical exterior surface when movable punch support 255 is arranged to lie in both of the first and second positions.

As suggested in FIGS. 16-19, wall 231 of membrane-piercing punch 256 is formed to include at least one fluid-discharge port 238 to provide means for communicating fluid material 232 discharged from interior region 234 of container 216 through fluid-flow aperture 236 formed in membrane seal 224 upon movement of membrane opener 218 to the second position past membrane-piercing punch 256 to product-discharge outlet 245 formed in closure 210. At least a portion of membrane-piercing punch 256 is arranged to extend into a passageway formed in the filler neck 214 upon movement of membrane opener 218 to assume the first position as suggested in FIGS. 18 and 19. Membrane-piercing punch 256 has an inverted bulbous onion-dome shaped wall 232 formed to include fluid-discharge ports 238 and terminating at a downwardly projecting sharpened tip 219 as shown, for example, in FIGS. 13 and 16-19.