Title:
Attachable spout for affixation to pouch-like container of liquid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An attachable spout for a pouch-like container of liquid. A spout assembly includes a substantially-planar base having a spout and a backing plate fixed to a surface of the base. A transverse crease defines a fold line for folding the base to capture an edge of the container between opposed surfaces of the folded base. The spout and the backing plate are located equidistant from the transverse crease to align in when the assembly is in a folded attitude.



Inventors:
Gunn, Jonathan R. (Newbury Park, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/217170
Publication Date:
01/08/2009
Filing Date:
07/01/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/105, 220/288
International Classes:
B65D25/40; B65D33/00; B65D41/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NICHOLS II, ROBERT K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Elliott N. Kramsky. Esq. (Suite 400 5850 Canoga Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA, 91367, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An attachable spout assembly for a pouch-like container of liquid comprising, in combination: a) a substantially-planar base having a pair of opposed surfaces defining a thickness therebetween; b) a spout fixed to a surface of said base; c) a backing plate fixed to said surface of said base; d) said base including a transverse crease of reduced thickness defining a line for folding said base; and e) said spout and said backing plate being arranged so that said spout is aligned with said backing plate when said base is in a folded attitude.

2. An attachable spout assembly as defined in claim 1 further including: a) said spout being of open cylindrical shape aligned perpendicular to said base; b) a cap for engaging said spout, said cap being symmetrical about an axis of rotation whereby said axis of rotation is coincident with the axis of rotation of said cylindrical spout when said cap is engaged to said spout; c) said cap including an elongated penetrator, said penetrator being symmetrical with respect to the axis of rotation of said cap; and d) said penetrator being arranged to extend through the plane of said base when said cap is closed on said spout.

3. An attachable spout as defined in claim 2 further including a) said elongated penetrator having opposed upper and lower ends; b) said upper end being fixed to said cap and said lower end terminating in a sharpened tip for extending through the plane of said base when said cap is closed on said spout.

4. An attachable spout as defined in claim 2 further including: a) a tamper-evident ring; b) said tamper-evident ring surrounding said spout; and c) said tamper-evident ring being located beneath said cap.

5. An attachable spout as defined in claim 4 wherein said tamper-evident ring is joined to said cap by a plurality of vertical ribs.

6. An attachable spout as defined in claim 1 further including: a) a first aperture in the portion of said base on one side of said transverse crease; b) a second aperture in the portion of said base the other side of said transverse crease; and c) said first and second apertures being aligned and located equal distances from said transverse crease whereby said apertures form a through-hole when said assembly is in said folded attitude.

7. A package comprising, in combination: a) pouch-like container comprising opposed flexible surfaces joined at a common seam; b) said container enclosing a volume of liquid; c) a spout assembly being fixed to said container adjacent said common seam, said assembly including (i) a substantially-planar base having a pair of opposed surfaces defining a thickness therebetween, (ii) a spout fixed to a surface of said base, (iii) a backing plate fixed to said surface of said base, (iv) said base including a transverse crease of reduced thickness defining a line for folding said base (v) said spout and said backing plate being arranged so that said spout is aligned with said backing plate when said base is in a folded attitude; and d) said base being folded to capture said container therebetween.

8. A package as defined in claim 7 further including; a) adhesive material for fixing said assembly to said container; and b) said adhesive material being located on facing surfaces of said folded base adjacent said surfaces of said container.

9. A package as defined in claim 8 wherein said adhesive material is fixed to facing surfaces of said folded base in regions surrounding said spout and said backing plate.

10. A package as defined in claim 9 further including: a) said spout being of open cylindrical shape aligned perpendicular to said base; b) a cap for engaging said spout, said cap being symmetrical about an axis of rotation whereby said axis of rotation is coincident with the axis of rotation of said cylindrical spout when said cap is engaged to said spout; c) said cap including an elongated penetrator, said penetrator being symmetrical with respect to the axis of rotation of said cap; and d) said penetrator being arranged to extend through the plane of said base when said cap is closed on said spout.

11. A package as defined in claim 10 further including: a) said elongated penetrator having opposed upper and lower ends; b) said upper end being fixed to said cap and said lower end terminating in a sharpened tip for extending through the plane of said base when said cap is closed on said spout.

12. A package as defined in claim 10 further including: a) a tamper-evident ring; b) said tamper-evident ring surrounding said spout; and c) said tamper-evident ring being located beneath said cap.

13. A package as defined in claim 12 wherein said tamper-evident ring is joined to said cap by a plurality of vertical ribs.

14. A package as defined in claim 7 further including: a) a first aperture in the portion of said base on one side of said transverse crease; b) a second aperture in the portion of said base the other side of said transverse crease; and c) said first and second apertures being aligned and located equal distances from said transverse crease whereby said apertures form a through-hole when said assembly is in said folded attitude.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims the priority of provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/948,160 of inventor Jonathan Gunn titled “Adhesive Liquid Dispensing Spout For Flexible Liquid Packages Which is Designed to Open the Package by Allowing the End User to Pierce the Flexible Material it is Attached to” filed Jul. 5, 2007 in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to pouch-like, sealed containers for liquids. More particularly, this invention pertains to an attachable spout for affixation to a liquid-filled, sealed pouch.

2. Description of the Prior Art

The advantages of sealed, pouch-like containers for liquids are well-known. Such containers offer low packaging cost, versatility in use and other advantages that make them suitable alternatives to bottle and can containers of rigid structure. Such containers can range in capacity from smaller pouches having a capacity of 200 m.l. to one liter (often found in medical applications) to those as large as 10 liters. They are currently very common in Europe and Asia as beverage containers although they are also found in numerous other applications including, but not limited to the fields of medicine, the food and beverage industries, industrial fluid storage and dispensing.

Pouch-like fluid container/dispensers are generally formed of sheets of liquid-impermeable material that are sealable joined along laser or heat-welded edge seams. Access to the interior is often provided by an edge perforation that permits the user to tear or cut a corner portion of the pouch to open it. Spouts are sometimes formed with the pouch, enabling post-initial opening fluid storage.

Commonly, the provision of a spout with a pouch-like fluid container is accomplished through the retrofitting of standard (“horizontal” or “vertical”) form, fill and seal machinery to include apparatus for the heat or ultrasound welding of the spout to the pouch prior to or after the container filling step and prior to welding the film. The inclusion of spout fixation in the container manufacturing process increases costs and can compromise the process of making an aseptic fill of the container. Furthermore, the storage of vast numbers of pouch-like containers with spouts is vastly more complicated than that of storage of spoutless-containers that pose a lesser risk of rupture or leakage due to the intermixture of the rigid spouts with the otherwise-pliable containers when stored in close proximity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses shortcomings of the prior art by providing, in a first aspect, an attachable spout assembly for a pouch-like container of liquid.

The assembly includes a substantially-planar base having a pair of opposed surfaces defining a thickness therebetween. A spout and a backing plate are fixed to a surface of the base. The base includes a transverse crease of reduced thickness defining a line for folding the base. The spout and the backing plate are arranged so that the spout is aligned with the backing plate when the base is in a folded attitude.

In another aspect, the invention provides a package. Such package includes a pouch-like container comprising opposed flexible surfaces joined at a common seam. The container encloses a volume of liquid.

A spout assembly is fixed to the container adjacent the common seam. The assembly includes a substantially-planar base having a pair of opposed surfaces defining a thickness therebetween. A spout is fixed to a surface of the base. A backing plate is fixed to the surface of the base. The base includes a transverse crease of reduced thickness defining a line for folding the base. The spout and the backing plate are arranged so that the spout is aligned with the backing plate when the base is in a folded attitude.

The base is folded to capture the container between the surfaces of the base.

The preceding and other features of the invention are described in a detailed description that follows. Such description is accompanied by a set of drawing figures. Numerals of the drawing figures, corresponding to those of the written description, point to the features of the invention. Like numerals refer to like features throughout both the written description and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1(a) and 1(b) are side elevation views of an attachable spout assembly in accordance with the invention in flat and folded configurations, respectively;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of an attachable spout assembly in flat configuration in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is a flow chart for illustrating a method of attachment of a spout in accordance with the invention to a pouch-like container of liquid employing known automated apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of a pouch-like container of liquid with spout in accordance with the invention; and

FIGS. 5(a) and 5(b) are side elevation views in cross-section, FIG. 5(a) being taken at line 5(a)-5(a) of FIG. 4 illustrating the pouch-like container of liquid with spout in accordance with the invention prior and subsequent to puncture of the container respectively.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning now to the drawings, FIGS. 1(a) and 1(b) are side elevation views of an attachable spout assembly 10 in accordance with the invention in flat and folded configurations, respectively. FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the attachable spout assembly in flat configuration.

Referring to FIGS. 1(a), 1(b) and 2, the assembly 10 comprises a pair of injection molded pieces, a screw-type removable cap 12 and a base 14 having a backing plate 16 and a dispensing spout 18 formed integral therewith. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the cap 12 includes a centrally located penetrator 20 terminating in a sharpened tip for penetrating the flexible material of a pouch-like container.

The planar base 14 includes a crease 22 of reduced thickness defining a fold line whereby the assembly 10 can be readily configured in accordance with the folded configuration of FIG. 1(b). As can be seen, the spout 18 and the backing plate 16 are equidistant from the crease 22 so that, when the assembly 10 is folded, the spout 18 is aligned with the backing plate 16.

Apertures 24, 26 are also arranged equidistant from the crease 22 to form a single through-hole for hanging a pouch-like container with assembly 10 attached thereto.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart for illustrating a method of attachment of a spout in accordance with the invention to a pouch-like container of liquid employing known automated apparatus. Referring to the flow chart, the process of attachment is begun at step S-1 by entering the assembly 10 (in the flat configuration of FIG. 1(a)) into apparatus such as a rotary bowl feeder. The assembly 10 is fed to a first robotic arm at step S-2, then delivered to a glue head at step S-3. Thereafter, an appropriate pressure sensitive adhesive such as the FDA approved high contact pressure adhesive marketed by Ellsworth Adhesives of Germantown, Wis. under the commercial designation HM-633 is applied by the head in predetermined annular patterns 28, 30 at the bottom of the base 14 surrounding the spout 18 and the backing plate 16 respectively at step S-4.

The adhesive bearing assembly 10 is delivered from the first robotic arm to a holder at step S-5, then transferred therefrom to a second robotic arm at step S-6. The second robotic arm positions the assembly 10 with respect to a sealed pouch like container of liquid at step S-7. Thereafter, at step S-8, the second robotic arm performs the functions of grasping, folding the assembly 10 with respect to the container and applying sufficient force between the opposed spout 18 and the backing plate 16 to assure fixation of the assembly to opposed flexible surfaces of the container.

FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of a pouch-like container of liquid 32 with spout in accordance with the invention and formed in accordance with the above-described process. As can be seen, the aligned spout 18 and backing plate 16 sandwich an upper edge region of the container 32. A display unit 33 comprising the container 32-and-assembly 10 is shown suspended by a hook 34 fixed to a point-of-sale display (not shown). The hook 34 supports the display unit 33 at the through-hole formed by the aligned apertures 24 and 26 of the folded assembly 10.

FIGS. 5(a) and 5(b) are side elevation views in cross-section, FIG. 5(a) being taken at line 5(a)-5(a) of FIG. 4, illustrating the pouch-like container of liquid with spout in accordance with the invention prior and subsequent to puncture of the container respectively. Referring first to FIG. 5(a), the cap 12 includes a tamper-evident ring 36 that is joined to the bottom of a twist top 38 by means of a plurality of surrounding vertical ribs 40. The axes of rotation 41 of the symmetrical cylindrical spout 18, the penetrator 20 and the cap 12 coincide. Internal threading 42 of the twist top 38 faces and interacts with the external threading 44 of the upper portion of the spout 18 while a pair of outwardly-directed circumferential barbs 46, 48 interact with a plurality of circumferential, inwardly-directed fingers 50 to support the ring 36, and, thus, the cap 12 prior to twisting of the cap 12.

The location of the tamper-evident ring 36 with respect to the vertical spout 18 is a safety feature that provides the end user with an indication of whether or not the spout has previously been opened to expose the contents of the attached container 32. As noted in FIG. 5(b), upon twisting of the cap 12 with respect to the spout 18, the cap 12, the vertical ribs 40 that attach the ring 36 are broken and the ring 36 pushed downwardly, over the circumferential barbs 46 and 48. Thus, the ring 36, which was previously locked above the base 14 of the assembly 10 between the barbs 46 and 48 by the inwardly-directed fingers 50, will now be locked beneath the lower barb 48 by the fingers 50 so that, upon removal of the twist top 38, the ring 36 remains seated at the top of the base 14, continually indicating that the spout has previously been opened.

In addition to the activation of the tamper evident ring 36 that occurs upon twisting of the top 38, the sharpened tip of the penetrator 20 located at the center of the cap 12 travels downwardly toward the backing plate 16 aligned with the spout 18. Comparing FIGS. 5(a) and 5(b), such downward travel moves the tip of the penetrator 20 from a position above the portion of the container 32 that is sandwiched between the folded surfaces of the base 14 into the channel therebetween to puncture at least the proximal upper flexible surface of the container 32, opening the container (but not opening the spout 18).

The distance between the facing surfaces of the folded base 14 will vary in accordance with the degree to which the container 32 is filled with liquid a the edge that is captured by the assembly 10. Thus, in some situations, such distance may be relatively small. Alternatively, as liquid is drained from the container over time, such distance may narrow. In either event, the possibility may exist for the tip of the penetrator 20 to puncture both of the opposed flexible surfaces of the container 32. Should this occur, the presence of the backing plate 16, with an internal recess 52 assures that any liquid flowing though such an inadvertent puncture of the remote surface of the container 32 will be captured and not affect the successful operation of the combined assembly 10-and-container 32.

Thus it is seen that the present invention provides an attachable spout for a pouch-like container of liquid. By employing the teachings of the invention, one can provide such a container with the advantages of a spout at a low cost without compromising such important features as aseptic fill and bulk storage.

While this invention has been described with reference to its presently preferred embodiment, it is not limited thereto. Rather, the invention is limited only insofar as it is defined by the following set of patent claims and includes within its scope all equivalents thereof.