Title:
Toothpaste tube having an integral flip-up end cap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein is a tube to dispense a pair of liquids, such as, for example, different colored gels or pastes that are combined to form a toothpaste to be applied to a toothbrush. First and second exit ports from which the pair of liquids are dispensed communicate with first and second fluid chambers that are created by a partition wall that extends completely across the interior of a hollow tube body. A flip-up end cap is integrally connected to the tube body by means of a thin, flexible hinge so that the end cap is rotatable from a closed position at which to cover the first and second exit ports to an open position at which the exit ports are uncovered. A pair of exit port closures project from the flip-up end cap to be received within and block respective ones of the first and second exit ports when the end cap is rotated to the closed position.



Inventors:
Wright, Howard (Sunset Hills, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/636516
Publication Date:
06/12/2008
Filing Date:
12/11/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/288, 220/553
International Classes:
B65D57/00; B65D41/04; B65D85/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BOMBERG, KENNETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Morland C. Fischer (Suite 1300 2030 Main Street, Irvine, CA, 92614, US)
Claims:
1. A tube comprising: a hollow tube body in which to store and from which to dispense a liquid, said hollow tube body having a closed top and a closed bottom; at least a first exit port extending through said closed top to communicate with the interior of said hollow tube body and from which the liquid stored within said hollow tube body is dispensed; an end cap integrally connected to said tube body and carried therewith as an inseparable unit; and a flexible hinge coextensively extending between said end cap and said tube body so that said end cap is rotatable from a closed position over said closed top at which to cover said first exit port extending therethrough to an open position off said closed top at which said first exit port is uncovered.

2. The tube recited in claim 1, wherein said end cap has a first exit port closure projecting therefrom, said first exit port closure sized to be received within and block said at least first exit port when said end cap is rotated to the closed position over the closed top of said hollow tube body.

3. The tube recited in claim 1, further comprising a partition wall extending across the interior of said hollow tube body to create first and second internal chambers in which to store and from which to dispense first and second liquids.

4. The tube recited in claim 3, further comprising a second exit port extending through the closed top of said hollow tube body, said first exit port communicating with said first internal chamber at the interior of said hollow tube body from which the first liquid is dispensed, and said second exit port communicating with said second internal chamber from which the second liquid is dispensed.

5. The tube recited in claim 4, wherein said end cap also has a second exit port closure projecting therefrom, said first exit port closure sized to be received within and block said first exit port, and said second exit port closure sized to be received within and block said second exit port when said end cap is rotated to the closed position over the closed top of said hollow tube body.

6. The tube recited in claim 3, wherein said partition wall extends across the interior of said hollow tube body so as to lie between said first and second exit ports.

7. The tube recited in claim 3, wherein said partition wall has a curved configuration across the interior of said hollow tube body.

8. The tube recited in claim 3, wherein said hollow tube body and said partition wall are manufactured from a thermoplastic material.

9. The tube recited in claim 8, wherein one end of each of said hollow thermoplastic tube body and said partition wall are crimped and melted together to create a heat seal by which to form the closed bottom of said tube body.

10. The tube recited in claim 1, further comprising a recess formed in said hollow tube body below said closed top thereof, said recess being sized to receive the thumb of a user so that a lifting force can be applied to cause said end cap to rotate at said flexible hinge from the closed position to the open position.

11. A tube comprising: a hollow tube body having a closed top and a closed bottom; a partition extending across the interior of said hollow tube body to create a plurality of liquid chambers in which to store and from which to dispense a corresponding plurality of liquids; a plurality of exit ports extending through said closed top to communicate with respective ones of said plurality of liquid chambers at the interior of said hollow tube body from which the liquids stored in said plurality of liquid chambers are dispensed; an end cap integrally connected to said tube body and carried therewith as an inseparable unit; and a flexible hinge coextensively connected between said end cap and said tube body so that said end cap is rotated from a closed position over said closed top at which to cover said plurality of exit ports to an open position off said closed top at which said plurality of exit ports are uncovered.

12. The tube recited in claim 11, further comprising a plurality of exit port closures projecting from said end cap and sized to be received within and block respective ones of said plurality of exit ports when said end cap is rotated to the closed position over the closed top of said hollow tube body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a multi-chamber tube in which to store different liquid toothpaste ingredients to be dispensed from respective exit ports formed through a closed top of the tube so that the ingredients can be combined as a mixture to be applied to a toothbrush. A flip-up end cap is integrally connected to the tube by means of a flexible hinge so as to be manufactured with the tube as a single piece, whereby to reduce manufacturing costs and prevent a separation of the cap from the tube.

2. Background Art

Tubes have long been used to dispense a variety of liquids in response to a compressive force that is applied to a flexible tube body in which the liquids are stored. In the case of toothpaste, a liquid paste or gel is typically squeezed from the tube body to be applied to a toothbrush. It is common for a single paste or gel to be carried within and dispensed from the tube body. What would now be desirable is a tube having the ability to dispense different toothpaste ingredients from separate internal compartments to be combined so that a mixture of the ingredients can be applied to the toothbrush of a user.

It is also common for the toothpaste tube to be manufactured from a tube body, a shoulder, and a screw-on cap to close the tube when not in use. Because the tube body and shoulder must first be handled and then sealed together, the manufacturing costs are increased. If the seal is defective, the contents of the tube may be susceptible to leakage and/or bacterial contamination should the sealed parts separate from one another. When the screw-on cap is removed from the tube, it may become misplaced or altogether lost. In this case, it may not be possible to adequately close the tube to prevent the escape and waste of the toothpaste. Moreover, the contents of the tube will remain exposed to the environment and subjected to additional bacterial contamination. What would also be desirable is an end cap that is integrally connected to and carried with the tube as a single piece so as to reduce manufacturing costs, prevent the end cap from separating from the tube body and becoming lost, and minimize the risk that the toothpaste contents will leak from the tube body or become contaminated.

Examples of known toothpaste tubes are available by referring to one or more of the following United States patents and published patent application:

Patent/Pub. No.Date
5,244,120Sep. 14, 1993
5,269,441Dec. 14, 1993
US2004/0026822Feb. 12, 2004

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A toothpaste tube is disclosed having a hollow tube body that is preferably manufactured from a flexible thermoplastic material. A partition wall extends across the tube body to establish separate internal tube chambers. Each of the chambers is filled with a different toothpaste ingredient such as a different colored paste or gel to be dispensed from the tube body and applied as a mixture to the toothbrush. The tube body has a closed top and a closed bottom. A pair of exit ports extend through the closed top to communicate with corresponding chambers at the interior of the hollow tube body. When the flexible tube body is subjected to a compressive force by a user, the different toothpaste ingredients will be dispensed through the exit ports. The closed bottom of the tube body is formed by simultaneously crimping together and heating one end of each of the thermoplastic tube body and the partition wall to create a heat seal therealong.

The toothpaste tube also has a flip-up end cap integrally connected to the tube body by means of a relatively thin, flexible hinge so that the tube body and the end cap are manufactured (e.g., injection molded) as a single piece, whereby the end cap will not separate from the body and become lost. The flip-up end cap is capable of rotating at the flexible hinge from a closed position over the closed top of the tube body so as to cover the exit ports to an open position off the closed top so as to uncover the exit ports. A recess formed in the tube body below the closed top receives a lifting force (e.g., from the thumb of the user) to cause the flip-up end cap to rotate off the tube body to the open position. A pair of exit port closures (i.e., plugs) project from the flip-up end cap. When the cap is rotated to the closed position, the pair of exit port closures are correspondingly moved into receipt by respective ones of the exit ports which extend through the closed top of the tube body. Accordingly, the exit port will be blocked to prevent leakage of the toothpaste ingredients if the toothpaste tube is inadvertently squeezed while not in use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a toothpaste tube and an integral flip-up cap according to a preferred embodiment with the cap rotated to a closed position over top the toothpaste tube body;

FIG. 2 shows the toothpaste tube of FIG. 1 with the lift-off cap rotated at a flexible hinge to an open position off the tube body;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the toothpaste tube body through an open bottom end taken in the direction of lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is cross-section of the toothpaste tube body taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a cross-section of the toothpaste tube body and the lift-off cap rotated to the open position;

FIG. 6 is a cross-section of the toothpaste tube body and lift-off cap rotated to the closed position with a heat seal closure formed at the bottom of the tube body; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the toothpaste tube body of FIG. 6 with the heat seal closure running along the bottom thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring initially to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings, there is shown a combination toothpaste tube 1 and integral flip-up cap 3 according to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention. As will soon be described, the toothpaste tube 1 is adapted to dispense a pair of liquid ingredients that can be combined to create a toothpaste mixture to be applied to a toothbrush of a user. By way of example only, the liquid ingredients stored within the toothpaste tube 1 may be first and second gels or pastes that have different colors. When the pair of gels or pastes are dispensed from the tube 1, a multi-colored toothpaste is produced to enhance the appearance and commercial appeal thereof.

Toothpaste tube 1 has a hollow body 5 that is preferably manufactured (e.g., injection molded) from a flexible thermoplastic material. The body 5 of tube 1 is responsive to a compressive force so that the contents thereof (e.g., the different colored gels or pastes) can be squeezed outwardly therefrom for application to the user's toothbrush. To this end, a pair of exit ports 7 and 8 extend through a closed top 10 of body 5. Exit ports 7 and 8 communicate with the interior of tube 1 so as to dispense the different liquid toothpaste ingredients that are to be combined when the body 5 is compressed. The tube 1 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with an open bottom end 6 prior to being sealed closed after the tube body 5 has been filled with the liquid toothpaste ingredients to be dispensed therefrom.

In accordance with an important aspect of this invention, the flip-up cap 3 is integrally connected to the closed top 10 of the body 5 of toothpaste tube 1 by means of a relatively narrow, flexible hinge 12. The flexible hinge 12 is coexistensively connected between the flip-up cap 3 and the top 10 of body 5. Thus, the integral toothpaste tube 1 and flip-up cap 3 will always travel together as a unit, whereby to prevent the cap 3 from separating from the tube body 5 and possibly becoming lost. In this same regard, the cap 3 and body 5 can be molded as a single piece to advantageously reduce the handling of parts as well as the cost of manufacture.

By virtue of the flexible hinge 12, the flip-up cap 3 is adapted to rotate from a closed position (best shown in FIG. 1) covering the exit ports 7 and 8 through the closed top 10 of body 5 to an open position (best shown in FIG. 2) lifted off the top 10. A finger recess 14 is formed in one side of the tube body 5 below the closed top 10 at which to receive the user's thumb so that a lifting force can be applied for causing the flip-up cap 3 to rotate off the tube body 5 from the closed to the open position.

When the flip-up cap 3 is rotated to the closed position of FIG. 1, the exit ports 7 and 8 are securely closed to prevent leakage of the toothpaste ingredients should a compressive force be inadvertently applied to the body 5 of tube 1 during handling or while being carried in a travel kit. More particularly, a pair of exit port closures (i.e., plugs) 16 and 17 project from the inside of the flip-up cap 3. Depending upon how the toothpaste ingredients are to be dispensed from tube 1, the exit ports 7 and 8 at the closed top 10 of tube body 5 can be located close to one another (as shown in FIG. 2) or spaced farther apart. The location and size of the exit port closures 16 and 17 which project from the flip-up cap 3 correspond with the location and size of exit ports 7 and 8.

When the flip-up cap 3 is rotated at flexible hinge 12 to the closed position over the closed top 10 of tube body 5, the pair of exit port closures 16 and 17 are correspondingly rotated towards and into receipt by respective ones of the exit ports 7 and 8. The port closures 16 and 17 fill the exit ports 7 and 8 and thereby block the escape of the liquid contents that are stored within toothpaste tube 1. Of course, when the flip-up cap 3 is rotated to the open position, the exit port closures 16 and 17 are correspondingly moved out of and away from the exit ports 7 and 8, whereby the exit ports are now open to permit the toothpaste ingredients to flow from tube 1 to the toothbrush of the user.

Details concerning the interior of the body 5 of the toothpaste tube 1 are now disclosed while referring concurrently to FIGS. 3-5 of the drawings. As earlier disclosed, a pair of exit ports 7 and 8 formed through the closed top 10 of body 5 communicate with the interior of tube 1 to dispense different ingredients for making a toothpaste. Each of the exit ports 7 and 8 communicates with one of a pair of internal chamber 20 and 22 that are surrounded by tube body 5. The internal chambers 20 and 22 are separated from one another by a continuous partition wall 24 that is preferably manufactured from the same material as the toothpaste tube body 5.

As is best shown in FIG. 3, the partition wall 24 extends between the exit ports 7 and 8 and runs completely across the toothpaste tube 1 so as to divide the tube body 5 into the pair of internal chambers 20 and 22. Thus, first and second toothpaste ingredients can be dispensed from the internal chambers 20 and 22 via exit ports 7 and 8 in response to a compressive force applied by the user to the tube body 5 after flip-up cap 3 is first rotated at the flexible hinge 12 to the open position of FIGS. 4 and 5. As is also best shown in FIG. 3, the partition wall 24 has a curved configuration across the toothpaste tube 1. However, it is within the scope of this invention for partition wall 24 to have other (e.g., planar) configurations.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7 of the drawings, details of the toothpaste tube 1 having a closed bottom are now described. Once the interior chambers 20 and 22 of hollow tube body 5 are filled with toothpaste ingredients, the open bottom of the tube body 5 is preferably closed by means of a heat seal 30. However, the bottom of tube body 5 may also be closed by an ultrasonic seal, an adhesive bond, or any other suitable conventional means of closure. More particularly, the partition wall 24 and the body 5 are crimped into side-by-side engagement with one another by means of a suitable crimping tool. A high temperature is applied to melt the thermoplastic material of the partition wall 24 and the tube body 5. With the simultaneous application of heat and the crimping force, the partition wall 24 and the tube body 5 will be bonded together to create a reliable heat seal closure 30 across the bottom of the tube body 5 to prevent the undesirable leakage of the toothpaste ingredients from the internal chambers 20 and 22 when the tube body 5 is subjected to a compressive force.

Although the toothpaste tube 1 has been shown and described herein as having particular application for dispensing a pair of toothpaste ingredients, the tube also has other useful applications. By way of example only, the body 5 of the tube 1 of the present invention can have different sizes to be used to dispense from the internal chambers 20 and 22 thereof such complementary liquid ingredients as peanut butter and jelly, an epoxy resin and a hardener, etc. Moreover, while a pair of internal chambers 20 and 22 are shown, three or more chambers having respective exit ports may dispense a variety of different liquid ingredients that are stored within the hollow tube body 5.