Title:
Structure of check valve and vacuum sealing container for food and other objects
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structure of vacuum sealing container for food and other objects that can prevent reverse flow of air while preventing content and water inside the vacuum sealing container. The vacuum sealing container is able to create a vacuum condition so that a content such as food or medicine can be stored inside the vacuum sealing container for a long period of time. The vacuum sealing container has a check valve that allows to expel air inside the vacuum sealing container to the outside to create a substantially vacuum condition, a re-sealable zipper that can air-tightly close the vacuum sealing container. The check valve is made of films that prevents reverse flow of air, part of which includes moisture permeation waterproof material to prevent flow of liquid inside the vacuum sealing container to the outside.



Inventors:
Saitoh, Fusako (Takasaki-shi, JP)
Application Number:
11/485235
Publication Date:
01/17/2008
Filing Date:
07/12/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/524.8
International Classes:
B65D51/16
View Patent Images:
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20060289547Cooler with integrated solar lightDecember, 2006Ewing et al.
20080121630Portable food containerMay, 2008Simard



Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Locke Lord LLP (P.O. BOX 55874, BOSTON, MA, 02205, US)
Claims:
1. A structure of check valve for use in a vacuum sealing container, comprising: a first outer film; a second outer film where the first outer film and the second outer film form a vacuum sealing container; a check valve film sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film where the check valve is located at an opening portion of the vacuum sealing container while contacting to or overlapping with a zipper for closing the vacuum sealing container; an air passage formed between the check valve film and one of the first or second outer film, where seal portions are provided to create the air passage that also produce resistance against smooth flow of air; and a moisture permeation waterproof material having property to allow penetration of air and moisture but to prevent penetration of liquid, where the moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of the liquid through the air passage.

2. A structure of check valve as defined in claim 1, wherein the seal portions include a narrow down portion that is shaped in a V-shape that gradually narrows the air passage toward a flow direction of the air.

3. A structure of check valve as defined in claim 1, wherein the moisture permeation waterproof material is nonwoven fabric material.

4. A structure of check valve for use in a vacuum sealing container, comprising: a first outer film; a second outer film where the first outer film and the second outer film form a vacuum sealing container; a pair of check valve films sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film where the check valve is located at an opening portion of the vacuum sealing container while contacting to or overlapping with a zipper for closing the vacuum sealing container; an air passage formed between the check valve films, where seal portions are provided to create the air passage that also produce resistance against smooth flow of air; and a moisture permeation waterproof material having property to allow penetration of air and moisture but to prevent penetration of liquid, where the moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of liquid through the air passage.

5. A structure of check valve as defined in claim 1, wherein the seal portions include a narrow down portion that is shaped in a V-shape that gradually narrows the air passage toward a flow direction of the air flow.

6. A vacuum sealing container, comprising: a bag portion that accepts an object to be stored therein, the bag porting having a first outer film and a second outer film; a re-sealable zipper provided on one end of the bag portion having an inlet portion for loading a product in the vacuum sealing container, the re-sealable zipper opening or closing the inlet of the bag portion; and a check valve, comprising: a check valve film sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film; an air passage formed between the check valve film and one of the upper or lower out films, where seal portions are provided in the air passage that resist smooth flow of air; and a moisture permeation waterproof material having property to allow penetration of air and moisture but to prevent penetration of liquid, where the moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of liquid through the air passage; where the check valve is located at the inlet portion of the vacuum sealing container while contacting to or overlapping with the re-sealable zipper.

7. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein at least a part of inner surface of the bag portion includes protuberances or irregularities that prevent smooth flow of liquid thereon.

8. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein at least a part of inner surface of the bag portion includes protuberances or irregularities that prevent smooth flow of liquid thereon where the protuberances or irregularities produce symbolic representation, logo, or aesthetic effects.

9. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein the first outer film is a film of the bag portion and the second outer film is another part of the film of the bag portion.

10. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein the first outer film is a film of the bag portion and the second outer film is also a part of the re-sealable zipper.

11. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein the check valve has a straw-shape opening that protrudes from an end of the check valve.

12. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 11, wherein the check valve has a cap that fits to the protruding straw-shape opening.

13. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein the re-sealable zipper is a sliding zipper seal with a sliding knob.

14. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein the re-sealable zipper is a sliding zipper seal with a sliding knob for opening and closing the bag portion of the vacuum sealing container.

15. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, wherein a plurality of re-sealable zippers run parallel with one another and a single sliding knob that slides along the plurality of re-sealable zippers to open and close the bag portion of the vacuum sealing container.

16. A vacuum sealing container as defined in claim 6, further comprising an outer re-sealable zipper that is placed further outside of the re-sealable zipper, wherein the openings of the check valve are placed between the two re-sealable zippers.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a check valve and a vacuum sealing container using the check valve, and more particularly, to a structure of vacuum sealing container for food and other objects that can maintain a vacuum condition by preventing reverse flow of air while preventing liquid from flowing out where the vacuum sealing container has a re-sealable zipper that air-tightly seals an opening such that a content such as food can be stored inside the vacuum sealing container for a long period of time.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A container bag having a re-sealable zipper is widely used to store food, such as vegetable, meat, sea-food, clothes, medicine, etc. A user may put in food or other objects into an opening of the container and seal its opening. In the case of food, typically, the container may then be placed in a freezer or a refrigerator so that the food stored in the container may be used later.

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic view showing an example of such a container bag having a re-sealable zipper such as “Ziploc”. Specifically, FIG. 1A shows the condition where the container bag 9 having a re-sealable zipper 11 is opened. In this condition, the user is able to place an object such as food, clothes, medicine, etc. in the container bag 9 through the opening

FIG. 1B shows the same container bag 9, but the re-sealable zipper 11 is closed. The re-sealable zipper 11 is a seal where an elastic groove and fitting projectile are provided on the container bag. By pressing down the projectile into the groove, the zipper 11 is closed. When an adequate force is applied to apart the projectile from the groove of the zipper 11, the zipper 11 is separated to establish the opening of the container bag 9 and the object inside the container bag 9 can be taken out.

Vacuum sealing is a well known technique for increasing the shelf life of a wide variety of objects. This is a technique to deflate the bag by removing the air inside so as to create a vacuum condition inside the container bag. Since less air is inside the container bag, objects such as food can be prevented from chemical reaction that can degrade the quality of the object.

Vacuum sealing is used widely in an industrial setting as well as in a household. Many kinds of products are commercially available for vacuum sealing to store food, such as “FoodSaver” that requires a special plastic sheet and an apparatus that heat seals the plastic sheets and suck airs out to create the vacuum state inside the plastic sheets. However, such an apparatus can take up a relatively large space, requires electricity for pumping out the air, and plastic sheets are not readily reusable.

Moreover, a sealing container with a check valve is used to store objects therein. The check valve promotes to remove the inside air by allowing the forward flow (inside to outside) of the air while preventing the reverse flow of the air. In the case of special foods, such as coffee beans or other grains, the food sometimes releases gas, and thus, effective ventilation is necessary to avoid build-up of such gas in the container. To that end, recently, a one-way valve such as a check valve noted above is provided to a coffee bean bag to remove the gas.

In general, such a check valve is made of plastic that is installed in the container bag. However, the drawbacks exist in that such a container bag involves high cost of production and complexity of construction. Thus, there is a demand that the problems noted above be solved. There is also a demand for a vacuum sealing container that can be readily used with ease. Moreover, it is desirable that the vacuum sealing container can be easily reused.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide a structure of a vacuum sealing container that allows to easily remove the air or other gas from the vacuum sealing container by having a re-sealable zipper and a check valve.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a check valve for a vacuum sealing container which is capable of preventing a reverse flow of air or gas while preventing forward flow of liquid.

A check valve for use in a vacuum sealing container, in accordance with the invention, comprises a first outer film, a second outer film, a moisture permeation waterproof material having the property to allow penetration of air and moisture but prevent liquid penetration, a check valve film sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film, an air passage formed between the check valve film and one of the upper or lower out films, where seal portions are provided in the air passage that resist smooth flow of air. The moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of liquid through the air passage.

Moreover, a check valve for use in a vacuum sealing container may also comprise a first outer film, a second outer film, a moisture permeation waterproof material having the property to allow penetration of air and moisture but prevent liquid penetration, a pair of check valve films sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film, an air passage formed between the check valve films, where seal portions are provided in the air passage that resist smooth flow of reverse air flow. The moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of liquid through the air passage.

The check valves may have the seal portions that include a narrow down portion that is shaped in a V-shape that gradually narrows the air passage toward a flow direction of the air.

In a further aspect, a vacuum sealing container comprises a bag portion that accepts an object to be stored therein where the bag porting has a first outer film and a second outer film, a re-sealable zipper provided on one end of the bag portion for opening or closing the bag portion, and a check valve. The check valve includes a check valve film sandwiched between the first outer film and the second outer film, an air passage formed between the check valve film and one of the upper or lower outer film, where seal portions are provided in the air passage that resist smooth flow of air, and a moisture permeation waterproof material having property to allow penetration of air and moisture but to prevent penetration of liquid, where the moisture permeation waterproof material forms a part of the air passage to prevent flow of liquid through the air passage.

The portion of the inside of the bag portion has protuberances that prevent smooth flow of liquid, thereby preventing liquid from flowing toward the check valve. The resistance portion of the bag portion may create symbolic representation.

The check valve may have a straw-shape opening that protrudes from an end of the check valve. The check valve may have a cap that fits to the protruding straw-shape opening.

As another aspect, in the vacuum sealing container, the re-sealable zipper is a sliding zipper seal with a sliding knob that slides along the sliding zipper for opening and closing the sliding zipper seal. The vacuum sealing container may also have a plurality of re-sealable zippers that run parallel with one another and a single sliding knob that slides along the plurality of re-sealable zippers to open and close the sliding zipper seals.

The vacuum sealing food container may further comprise an outer re-sealable zipper that is placed further outside of the re-sealable zipper, wherein the openings of the check valve are placed between the two re-sealable zippers.

According to the present invention, the structure of vacuum sealing container has a re-sealable zipper and a check valve, thereby allowing to easily remove the air or other gas from the vacuum sealing container. The vacuum sealing container is capable of allowing a forward flow of the air while preventing a reverse flow of the air to maintain the vacuum condition of the vacuum sealing container. At the same time, the vacuum sealing container prevents liquid from flowing out from the vacuum sealing container. Thus, an object such as meat can be preserved in the vacuum sealing container for a long period of time without being exposed to the atmosphere. Because the inside liquid is prevented by the check valve from flowing out, the vacuum sealing container maintains the liquid such as juice of the meat within the vacuum sealing container so that the taste and freshness of the meat are unchanged for a long period of time.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic views of a container having a re-sealable zipper for storing an object where FIG. 1A shows the condition in which the container is closed, and FIG. 1B shows the condition where the container is opened.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are schematic cross sectional diagrams showing an example of a re-sealable zipper that can be utilized in the vacuum sealing container under the present invention where FIG. 2A shows the condition where the zipper is opened and FIG. 2B shows the condition where the zipper is closed.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are perspective views showing the vacuum sealing container under the present invention where FIG. 3A shows the condition in which the re-sealable zipper is opened and food is inserted there through and FIG. 3B shows the condition in which the re-sealable zipper is closed and the air inside is expelled out to create a substantially vacuum condition.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing an example of situation where the air or gas is removed from the inside of the vacuum sealing container through the check valve after closing the zipper.

FIGS. 5A-5C are perspective views showing examples of vacuum sealing container under the present invention each having a check valve at a location different from one another where a check valve is provided separately from the re-sealable zipper in FIG. 5A, a check valve is provided at a side edge of the re-sealable zipper in FIG. 5B, and a check valve is provided at an intermediate position of the re-sealable zipper in FIG. 5C.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view of the vacuum sealing container in the present invention where a bag portion, a re-sealable zipper, a check valve are separated from one another to show a structure of the vacuum sealing container under the present invention.

FIGS. 7A-7B are cross sectional diagrams showing an example of a bonding structure of the check-valve in the present invention where FIG. 7A shows a cross sectional plan view thereof and FIG. 7B shows a cross sectional side view thereof.

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional side view corresponding to that of FIG. 7B of the check valve of the present invention for explaining an operation of the check valve including how the two check valve films in pairs are tightly closed when the reverse flow happens.

FIGS. 9A and 9B are schematic cross sectional views showing another example of structure of a check valve to describe the principle of operation of the check valve that prevents the reverse flow of air.

FIGS. 10A-10D are simplified schematic side views showing examples of structure of a check valve for the vacuum sealing container in the present invention where a location of moisture permeation waterproof material is different from one another.

FIG. 11 is a schematic perspective view showing an embodiment of the vacuum sealing container under the present invention where a cylindrical opening is provided to an end of the check valve.

FIGS. 12A and 12B are schematic side views showing examples of structure of the bag portion sheet for the vacuum sealing container under the present invention where an inner surface of the bag portion sheet has protuberances or irregularities to produce resistance to the liquid inside the vacuum sealing container.

FIGS. 13A and 13B are schematic views showing examples of the vacuum sealing container in the present invention where a sliding re-sealable zipper is provided at the top of the container where FIG. 13A shows a single zipper and FIG. 13B shows a double zipper.

FIG. 14 is a schematic diagram showing a further example of the vacuum sealing container in the present invention where an upper zipper is provided separately from a check valve and a lower zipper.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The vacuum sealing container with a re-sealable zipper has a check valve that promotes to easily remove the air or gas from the inside of the vacuum sealing container and to prevent the air from coming in the container. By manually compressing the vacuum sealing container to release air inside the vacuum sealing container to the outside, the vacuum sealing container can create a vacuum packing condition therein. Although the present invention will be described mainly for the case of packing food in the vacuum sealing container, various other objects such as clothes, pharmaceutical, chemicals, cosmetics, fibers, etc. can also be stored in the vacuum sealing container of the present invention.

Since the check valve is able to allow a flow of air in one direction (forward flow) while preventing the flow in the opposite direction (reverse flow), the air inside of the vacuum sealing container can be easily released while the outside air cannot enter the vacuum sealing container from the check valve opening. Thus, the object such as food can be stored in the vacuum sealing container for a long period of time since it is not exposed to the atmosphere. Further, clothes packed in the vacuum sealing container can be stored in a closet or a suitcase with a minimum size.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are schematic cross sectional side views of a re-sealable zipper 11 that may be used in the vacuum sealing container under the present invention. FIG. 2A shows the condition where the re-sealable zipper 11 is separated (the vacuum sealing container is opened) and FIG. 2B shows the condition where the re-sealable zipper 11 is engaged (the vacuum sealing container is closed). As shown, the re-sealable zipper 11 is configured by a groove portion 12 and a projectile portion 13.

When the groove portion 12 and the projectile portion 13 are pushed toward each other, the protrusion portion 13 will snugly fits in the groove portion 12 thereby closing the zipper 11. The groove portion 12 and the projectile portion 13 have appropriate elasticity and tightness to allow the re-sealable zipper 11 to be tightly fastened. Air and water will not easily leak from the container when the re-sealable zipper 11 is closed.

This type of zipper for sealing a container bag is widely used today. The re-sealable zipper that can be used under the vacuum sealing container in the present invention is not specifically limited to the one described above with reference to FIGS. 2A and 2B. One skilled in the art can readily appreciate that many other types of re-sealable zipper may be used as well. In the present invention, a check valve is formed on the container in combination with the re-sealable zipper as described below.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are perspective views of the vacuum sealing container in a preferred embodiment under the present invention. FIG. 3A shows a vacuum sealing container 80 having a check valve 38 and a re-sealable zipper 88 where an object such as food 91 is inserted in the vacuum sealing container 80. FIG. 3A shows the condition where the re-sealable zipper 88 is opened and FIG. 3B is similar to that shown in FIG. 3A except that the re-sealable zipper 88 is closed and the air inside the vacuum sealing container 80 is exhausted to the outside through the check valve 38.

Thus, the inside of the vacuum sealing container is substantially void of air and thus in a vacuumed condition. As noted above, this allows the object 91, such as meat, to have a longer life. The vacuum sealing container 80 in the present invention is able to keep many kinds of food, such as meat, cheese, vegetables, tea, coffee beans, fish, etc. for a long period-of time. Moreover, as noted above, the vacuum sealing container under the present invention can store not only food product, but also medicine, chemical products, clothes, etc.

Further, the vacuum sealing container under the present invention can also be used to store grains, such as coffee beans, soy beans, etc., that release gas. As is known in the art, grains such as coffee beans generate gas during a relatively long period of time because of chemical reactions. In such a case, the vacuum sealing container of the present invention will not be collapsed to release gas, but the gas generated by the coffee beans in the vacuum sealing container will be automatically released to the outside through the check valve.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view showing the vacuum sealing container 80 such as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B to indicate the flow of air inside the vacuum sealing container 80 toward the outside as a user presses the vacuum sealing container 80 to remove the air. As the user insert an object in the vacuum sealing container 80 and closes the re-sealable zipper 88, the vacuum sealing container 80 can be sealed such that water or liquid and the product can be securely held inside.

In this example, the check valve 38 is provided at the side edge of the re-sealable zipper 88 on the vacuum sealing container 80. The arrows indicate the flow (forward flow) of the air when the vacuum sealing container 80 is pressed or squeezed. Since the check valve 38 prevents reverse flow, the air from the outside will not enter the vacuum sealing container 80. The structure and operation of the check valve 38 that can be advantageously used under the present invention will be described in detail later with reference to FIGS. 7A-7B and 8.

FIGS. 5A-5C are schematic perspective views showing alternative examples of structure of the vacuum sealing container similar to those shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. In FIG. 5A, the vacuum sealing container 80 has a check valve 38A that is located at one side of the bag that is separated from the re-sealable zipper 88. Although the check valve 38A is still located close to the re-sealable zipper 88, it can be formed away from the re-sealable zipper 88 such as at an end of the vacuum sealing container 80 opposite to the side where the re-sealable zipper 88 is formed.

FIG. 5B shows still another example where a part of the check valve 38B protrudes from the vacuum sealing container 80. In all cases of FIGS. 5A-5C, the vacuum sealing container 80 is able to deflate by removing the inside air in a manner similar description above, i.e, pressing or squeezing the vacuum sealing container 80 or sucking out the inside air. Although only one check valve is provided for each vacuum sealing container 80, a plurality of check valves may be provided for each vacuum sealing container 80 as well to more easily exhaust the inside air toward the outside.

It is also possible to place a check valve 38C on an intermediate location of the re-sealable zipper 88 as shown in FIG. 5C. This configuration has the advantage that the space necessary for placing the check valve 38C can be saved since additional space is unnecessary. The number of the check valve for the vacuum sealing food container is not limited to one, but a plurality of small size check valves may be installed to the vacuum sealing container 80 as well to more easily exhaust the inside air toward the outside.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view of the vacuum sealing container under the present invention where a bag portion 39, a check valve 38, and a re-sealable zipper 88 are separated to show a structural relationship among these elements. The bag portion 39 is a bag container that can hold an object to be packed, such as food, clothes, medicine, etc, and is preferably made of elastic film such as thermoplastic film. The bag portion 39 has an opening into which objects can be introduced.

The re-sealable zipper 88 is a seal or fastener that can be used repeatedly as described above. The re-sealable zipper 88 is attached to the opening of the bag portion 39. The check valve 38, which will be described later in detail, is also attached at the opening of the bag portion 39. The means to attach the re-sealable zipper 88 and the check valve 38 may include heat bonding, adhesive, etc. As a result, the vacuum sealing containers 80 such as shown in FIGS. 3A-3B and 5A-5C are created.

The check valve 38 used in the vacuum sealing container 80 under the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings. The construction of check valve 38 under the present invention allows to significantly reduce the size of the check valve itself such that more freedom is attained in designing the vacuum sealing container 80. In the application of the vacuum sealing container 80, the check valve 38 includes a member made of moisture permeation waterproof material to allow the air (gas or moisture) to pass through but to disallow the liquid (water) to pass through.

Namely, in addition to a check valve that is used in an ordinary air-packing device that inflates by a compressed air to safely pack a product therein, the check valve in the present invention has an additional member made of the moisture permeation waterproof material. Due to the moisture permeation waterproof material used for a part of the check valve, the check valve has improved capacity to prevent the liquid from flowing out through the check valve. Thus, the liquid such as juice of meat remains in the vacuum sealing container 80 while the inside air is removed therefrom. Moreover, the check valve 38 under the present invention can be flexibly attached to the vacuum sealing container 80 at any location.

FIGS. 7A-7B are cross sectional diagrams showing an example of an inner structure of the check-valve in the present invention in more detail. FIG. 7A shows a cross sectional plan view of the check valve 38 and FIG. 7B shows a cross sectional side view of the check valve 38 that is taken along the line 7B-7B shown in FIG. 7A. In FIGS. 7A and 7B, two plastic films of the vacuum sealing container 80 and two plastic films of the check valve 38 are overlapped with one another.

In the vacuum sealing container 80 having the configuration shown in FIG. 7A and 7B where the check valve 38 is located adjacent to the re-sealable zipper 88, reference numbers 31a and 31b represent the plastic films or sheets (first and second outer films) that make up the bag portion 39 of the vacuum sealing container 80. Reference numbers 32a and 32b represent the plastic films or sheets that make up the check valve 38. Typically, the plastic films 31a, 31b, 32a and 32b are thermoplastic films that can bond or heat-sealed to one another when appropriate heat is applied thereto.

The upward portion of the check valve 38 in FIGS. 7A and 7B is arranged to face the outside 34 of the vacuum sealing container 80. The downward portion of the check valve 38 in FIGS. 7A and 7B is arranged to face the inside 33 of the vacuum sealing container 80. An air passage 48 is established within the check valve 38 as shown in FIG. 7A which also shows the flow of the air indicated by white arrows 47a, 47b and 47c.

In this example, a moisture permeation waterproof material layer 90 is provided on the check valve film 32b as shown in FIG. 7B. The moisture permeation waterproof material layer 90 is made of a material that has the capacity to permit penetration of gas such as air, moisture, etc. while preventing liquid such as water from passing there through. The moisture permeation waterproof material is typically nonwoven fabrics, which are porous sheets that are not made by weaving or knitting.

To simplify the view, the moisture permeation waterproof material layer 90 is not shown in FIG. 7A, but is shown as a hatched layer in FIG. 7B. In FIGS. 7A and 7B, seal portions, 35, 37, 41-42 are formed to establish a particular structure of the check valve 38. At these seal portions, the check valve films 32a and 32b are bonded to one of the container films (first and second outer films) 31a and 31b. In the present invention of the check valve, some of the seal portions may not be essential and can be omitted.

In the vacuum sealing container 80, the two check valve films 32a and 32b are juxtaposed (superposed) and sandwiched between the two container films (first and second outer films) 31a and 31b. The seal portion 41 and the reinforcing seal portions 42 are referred to as outlet portions, the seal portion 35 is referred to as an extended (or widened) portion, and the seal portion 37 is referred to as a narrow down portion. These seal portions also form the structure of the check valve 38 and fix the check valve 38 to one of the container films 31a and 31b. As a result of this bonding (seal portions), the check valve 38 is constructed in the vacuum sealing container 80.

As has been described, the check valve 38 is made of the two flexible thermoplastic container films 31a-31b and the check valve films 32a and 32b where an air passage 48 is created between the first check valve film 32b and the second check valve film 32a. How the air passes through the check valve 38 is shown by the white arrows indicated by the reference numbers 47a, 47b and 47c. As the user compresses or squeezes the vacuum sealing container 80 or suck the inside air manually or with use of a sucking device, the air inside the vacuum sealing container 80 is expelled out through the check valve 38.

In the check valve 38, the air from the inside 33 can flow (forward flow) relatively easily through the air passage 48 toward the outside 34. Although there exist the seal portions 35, 37 and 41-42 when the air flows in the direction shown by the arrows 47a, 47b and 47c, such seal portions do not obstruct the forward flow of the air. However, the reverse flow of the air (from the outside 34 to the inside 33) will not easily pass through the air passage 48 in the check valve 38.

As has been described, in FIGS. 7A-7B, the seal portions 35, 37 and 41-42 also work for guiding the air to flow in the check valve 38. As shown in the side view of FIG. 7B, the seal portions are comprised of the portions 41a, 42a, 35a and 37a which bond the two check-valve films 32a (and also moisture permeation waterproof material 90) and 32b together, and the portions 41b, 42b, 35b and 37b which bond the first container film 31a and the first check valve film 32b together. Accordingly, the air passage 48 in the check valve 38 is created as a space formed between the two check valve films 32a and 32b and the seal portions 41, 42, 35 and 37 as shown in FIG. 7A.

Further in FIG. 7A, the seal portions 37 are composed of two symmetric line segments (narrow down portions) extended in an upward direction (flow direction) of the drawing, and a width of the air passage 48 is narrowed down by these portions 37. In other words, the regular flow can easily pass through the fluid pipe to the outside 34 when it passes through the wide space to the narrow space created by the narrow down portions 37. On the other hand, the narrow down potions 37 tend to stop the reverse flow from the outside 34 when the air goes back through the narrow space created by the narrow down portions 37.

The extended portion 35 is formed next to the narrow down portions 37 close to upper end thereof. The shape of the extended portion 35 is similar to a heart shape to divert the air flow. By passing the air through the extended portion 35, the air diverts and flows around the edge of the extended portion 35 (indicated by the arrow 47b). When the air is expelled from the vacuum sealing container 80 to the outside 34, the air flows naturally in the extended portion 35. On the other hand, the reverse flow cannot directly flow through the narrow down portions 37 because the reverse flow hits the extended portion 35 and is diverted its direction.

The outlet portions 41-42 are formed next to the extended portion 35 close to the outside 34. In this example, the outlet portion 41 is formed at the upper center of the check valve 38, and the two outlet portions 42 are placed symmetrically with respect to the outlet portion 41. The outlet portions 41 and 42 are arranged in the directions which are perpendicular to one another.

There are several spaces among these outlet portions 41 and 42. These spaces constitute a part of the air passage through which the air can pass as indicated by the arrows 47c to the outside 34. The outlet portions 41-42 are formed as a final passing portion of the check valve 38 when the inside air is expelled to the container member 34 and the air diverts in four ways by passing through the outlet portions 41-42.

Accordingly, the reverse flow from the outside 34 cannot easily pass through the air passage 48. Thus, the reverse flow is stopped in some degrees by the outlet portions 41 and 42. As has been described, the inside air passing from the inside 33 of the vacuum sealing container 80 to the outside 34 is relatively smoothly propagated through the check valve 38. Further, the narrow down portions 37, extended portions 35 and outlet portions 41-42 formed in the check valve 38 work to prevent the reverse flow (from outside 34 to the inside 33).

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view showing an operation and effect of the check valve 38 of the present invention as it prevents the reverse flow. This example shows a condition of the check valve 38 when the reverse flow is about to occur in the check valve 38. First, the air hardly enters into the air passage 48 because the outlet portions 41 and 42 work for the air such that the reverse flow will not easily enter the check valve 38.

Instead, the air flows in a space between the second container film 31b and the second valve film 32a such as indicated by the arrows 51, and the space is inflated such as shown in FIG. 8 because of the atmospheric air. Thus, the second check valve film 32a is pressed to the right, and at the same time, the first check valve film 32b is pressed to left. As a result, the two check valve films 32a and 32b are brought into tight contact as indicated by the arrows 52, thereby closing the check valve 38.

Thus, the forward flow of the air is easily achieved while the reverse flow of air is prevented. Due to the moisture permeation waterproof material 90, the liquid or water involved in the product packed in the vacuum sealing container is prevented from flowing through the check valve 38. In other words, the inside air is removed from the vacuum sealing container 80 whereas the inside liquid will not escape from the inside because of the moisture permeation waterproof material 90 in the check valve 38.

FIGS. 9A and 9B are cross-sectional views of another example of check valve to describe the principle of structure and operation that promotes the forward flow and prevents the reverse flow of the air. In this example, the check valve portion is similar to that shown in FIGS. 7A, 7B and 8, but only one sheet of check valve film is used. FIG. 9A shows the condition where the air is being expelled out through the check valve from the vacuum sealing container. FIG. 9B shows the condition where the check valve prevents the reverse flow of air.

The sheets 131a and 131b may be plastic films for the bag portion of the vacuum sealing container or they may be films dedicated to the check valve provided separately from the plastic films for the bag portion. The moisture permeation waterproof material 190 is placed on the check valve sheet 132. The check valve sheet 132 is similar to the check valve sheet 32b in FIGS. 7A-7B and 8 in that the check valve sheet 132 bends to touch the opposing sheet to seal the check valve due to the atmospheric pressure.

As indicated by an arrow 195 in FIG. 9A, as the air is expelled out by compressing or squeezing the vacuum sealing container, the air will escape to the outside through an air passage formed between the sheet 131a and the waterproof material 190 in the check valve. Unless a force to collapse the vacuum sealing container is applied, the check valve film 132 and the moisture permeation waterproof material 190 are bent by the atmospheric air pressure to touch the film 131a. Thus, as shown in the condition of FIG. 9B, the check valve is closed. Due to the structure of the check valve noted above, the reverse flow of the air is unlikely to occur as the air opening in the reverse direction has been prohibited.

FIGS. 10A-10D are simplified side views of the check valve portion showing various configurational examples that may be implemented to the check valve portion, especially with regard to the configuration of the moisture permeation waterproof material 90. FIG. 10A shows the configuration that is identical to the previous example. That is, the moisture permeation waterproof material 90 is placed on one of the check valve film 32b. It is also possible to place the moisture permeation waterproof material 90 on another check valve sheet 32a.

FIG. 10B is a simplified side view of the check valve portion where the moisture permeation waterproof material 90a is placed to cover the opening (outlet) of the check valve on the check valve sheets 32a and 32b. In this configuration, a small piece of moisture permeation waterproof material 90a is placed to cover the opening formed by the ends of the check valve sheets 32a and 32b to prevent the flow of liquid such as water. Rather than being placed on the overall surface of the check valve sheet, the moisture permeation waterproof material 90a is placed at the end of the check valve sheets 32a and 32b. Thus, the amount of the moisture permeation waterproof material 90a required to form the check valve may be decreased.

FIG. 10C shows another example of the check valve portion where the moisture permeation waterproof material 90b are placed on the multiple locations on the check valve sheet. Specifically, two pieces of moisture permeation waterproof material 90b are placed on the check valve sheet 32b. In this example, two pieces of moisture permeation waterproof material 90b are placed close to the inlet and outlet, respectively, of the check valve, which effectively prevents the flow of the liquid.

FIG. 10D shows still another example where the moisture permeation waterproof material 90c is adhered to both the check valve sheets 32a and 32b. In principle, the configuration shown in FIG. 10D is similar to that in FIG. 10B in that the moisture permeation waterproof material is placed between the opening formed between the check valve sheets. However, the moisture permeation waterproof material is provided on the inner surfaces of the check valve films 32a and 32b.

In any of the examples shown in FIGS. 10A to 10D, the check valve function is the same as described with reference to FIGS. 7A, 7B and FIG. 8. Thus, the check valve can effectively work to prevent the reverse air flow into the vacuum sealing container to maintain vacuumed condition inside the vacuum sealing container. At the same time, the check valve can effectively work to prevent the forward flow of the liquid to maintain the liquid such as juice of meat inside the vacuum sealing container.

Although the check valves in the examples shown and described above with reference to the drawings are solely made of plastic films, the check valve may also be equipped with a straw shape (cylindrical) opening 65 that protrudes from the check valve as shown in the schematic view in FIG. 11. The opening 65 has a circular opening which allows a vacuum device to be inserted to suck the air inside the vacuum sealing container. The opening 65 can also be used to suck air by the user's mouth.

A cap that covers the opening 65 may additionally be provided (not shown in the drawing). Although the opening 65 in FIG. 11 has a circular shape, other shapes, such as triangular or square shape, may also be used. The size of the opening may also be varied as well to fit for the purpose of the vacuum sealing container.

The bag portion 39 such as shown in FIG. 6 may use a specially structured film that prevents liquid from flowing easily on its surface. Thus, when the vacuum sealing container 80 is to be compressed or squeezed to exhaust the air inside the container, the water in the vacuum sealing container 80 is prevented from moving toward the check valve 38. FIGS. 12A and 12B are side views showing examples of such sheets that can be used for the bag portion in the vacuum sealing container under the present invention.

FIG. 12A is a side view of the bag portion of the vacuum sealing container where a sheet 32d has protuberances or irregularities that prevent smooth flows of the liquid in the vacuum sealing container. In this example, only the sheet 32d has protuberances on its inner surface while the sheet 32c opposite to the sheet 32d is a smooth sheet. The protuberances may be formed so as to form a maze on the surface of bag sheet for the liquid.

FIG. 12B shows a side view of the bag portion of the vacuum sealing container where both of the sheets 32f and 32e have protuberances or irregularities. The shape of the protuberances may be varied as long as they effectively prevent the smooth flow of the liquid in the vacuum sealing container. The protuberances may be formed so as to form a maze on the surface of bag sheet for the liquid.

In the examples of FIGS. 12A and 12B, it is possible to provide symbolic representation such as aesthetic drawings, ichnographic works or letters on the inside of the bag sheet to prevent the smooth flow of the liquid as well as to achieve an aesthetic effect when the sheets 32f and 32e are transparent. For example, corporate logos may be provided on the bag sheet to function as protuberances that prevent smooth flow of liquid and serve to provide intended information and logos as well. Alternatively, the sheet may be made of coarse material to prevent smooth flow of liquid. Thus, the protuberances having symbolic representation can act to prevent the smooth flow of liquid, to represent information, and to produce the aesthetic effect.

The re-sealable zipper used in the vacuum sealing container in the present invention may utilize a sliding zipper as well. A sliding zipper is similar in structure to the re-sealable zipper described above, but has a sliding knob that slides along a re-sealable zipper to open and close the vacuum sealing container. Such examples are shown in the perspective views of FIGS. 13A and 13B.

FIG. 13A shows the sliding zipper where one strip of the re-sealable zipper 188 is used. By sliding the sliding knob 158 along the re-sealable zipper 188 in one direction, the vacuum sealing container is closed. By sliding the sliding knob 153 along the re-sealable zipper 188 in another direction, the vacuum sealing container is opened. FIG. 13B shows the case where two strips of the re-sealable zippers 188a and 188b run parallel with each other. The sliding knob 158b is able to open and close the re-sealable zippers 188a and 188b both at the same time. The sliding zipper is well known in the art and thus its detailed explanation is omitted.

The check valve of the present invention described in the foregoing has an improved capacity to create the vacuum condition of the container and prevent the flow of liquid. However, it still may be desirable to provide an extra sealing effect to assure that the liquid does not leak from the vacuum sealing food container. FIG. 14 shows an example where the vacuum sealing container is constructed to achieve an extra outer re-sealable zipper 88k as well as an inner re-sealable zipper 88j. The construction of the re-sealable zippers 88k and 88j can be identical to the re-sealable zipper described above.

In this embodiment example, the check valve 38h, whose construction is similar to that described in the foregoing, is placed in combination with the inner re-sealable zipper 88j. The outer re-sealable zipper 88k is placed at the location that is closer to the edge of the opening of the vacuum sealing container. The inner re-sealable zipper 88j and the outer re-sealable zipper 88k are independent from one another in the operation.

When an object is placed in the vacuum sealing container 80J, both the inner re-sealable zipper 88j and the outer re-sealable zipper 88k are opened. After closing the inner re-sealable zipper 88j, the inside air is expelled from the vacuum sealing container 80J through the check valve 38h to create a vacuum condition. Then, the outer re-sealable zipper 88k is closed. Even if the liquid leaks from the check valve 38h, the liquid will not leak from the vacuum sealing container 80J since the outer re-sealable zipper 88k is tightly sealed.

As has been described above, according to the present invention, the structure of vacuum sealing container has a re-sealable zipper and a check valve, thereby allowing to easily remove the air or other gas from the vacuum sealing container. The vacuum sealing container is capable of allowing a forward flow of the air while preventing a reverse flow of the air to maintain the vacuum condition of the vacuum sealing container. At the same time, the vacuum sealing container prevents liquid from flowing out from the vacuum sealing container. Thus, an object such as meat can be preserved in the vacuum sealing container for a long period of time without being exposed to the atmosphere. Because the inside liquid is prevented by the check valve from flowing out, the vacuum sealing container maintains the liquid such as juice of the meat within the vacuum sealing container so that the taste and freshness of the meat are unchanged for a long period of time.

Although the invention is described herein with reference to the preferred embodiment, one skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various modifications and variations may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Such modifications and variations are considered to be within the purview and scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.