Sign up
Title:
Plastic Bottle
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to an improved plastic bottle, in particular a PET bottle comprising: a bottle body, a neck connecting to the bottle body, which neck is provided with at least one engaging element adapted to enable mechanical engaging of the bottle at least during the production process of blow moulding of the bottle, and coupling means connected to the neck for releasable coupling of the bottle to a closing element closing the bottle, wherein the shortest distance between an upper edge of the neck defining an upper outer end of the bottle and at least one engaging element lies between 0 and 7 millimetres. The invention also relates to an assembly of such a bottle and a closing element which is connected releasably to the bottle and closes the bottle.


Inventors:
Perra, Antonio Giuseppe (Bergen, NL)
Application Number:
12/990388
Publication Date:
05/05/2011
Filing Date:
04/29/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D1/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090178998Closed cover for medicinal vialJuly, 2009Knight
20080290063INTEGRAL LABEL HANDLENovember, 2008Marco
20070138125Stopper capsules and method for production thereofJune, 2007Granger
20090261054Infant Feeding PouchOctober, 2009Shelby
20080142467Expandable preformed linersJune, 2008Giles et al.
20080264895Double opening wide mouth food jar with screw capsOctober, 2008Prieto et al.
20090065377DUAL USE CUP ASSEMBLYMarch, 2009Olomi et al.
20090039048Venting System and the Use ThereofFebruary, 2009Tien et al.
20020166832Hand-held container for predissolving a compositionNovember, 2002Silud et al.
20090301991Thin-walled container with sidewall protrusions and reinforced cavitiesDecember, 2009Yarro et al.
20090159551Universal Adapter for Baby Nipple/PacifierJune, 2009Viggiano
Claims:
1. A plastic bottle, in particular a PET bottle, comprising: a bottle body, a neck connecting to the bottle body, which neck is provided with at least one engaging element adapted to enable mechanical engaging of the bottle at least during the production process of blow moulding of the bottle, and coupling means connected to the neck for releasable coupling of the bottle to a closing element closing the bottle, wherein the shortest distance between an upper edge of the neck defining an upper outer end of the bottle and the at least one engaging element lies between 0 and 7 millimetres.

2. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the at least one engaging element is positioned at a distance from the upper edge of the neck, and that a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element is adapted for sealing co-action with a closing element closing the bottle.

3. The bottle as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that the shortest distance between the upper edge of the neck and the at least one engaging element lies between 0.5 and 7 millimetres.

4. The bottle as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that the ratio of the shortest distance between the at least one engaging element, positioned at a distance from the upper edge, and the upper edge on the one hand and the wall thickness of the neck on the other lies between 0 and 3.

5. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the neck is provided with a plurality of engaging elements adapted to enable mechanical engaging of the bottle during production of the bottle.

6. The bottle as claimed in claim 5, wherein the shortest distance between the upper edge of the neck and each engaging element lies between 0.5 and 7 millimetres.

7. The bottle as claimed in claim 5, wherein at least one engaging element is formed by a sealing ring adapted for sealing co-action with a closing element coupled to the bottle.

8. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one engaging element is formed by a recess arranged in the neck.

9. The bottle as claimed in claim 8, wherein the neck is provided with a plurality of engaging elements formed by recesses, these recesses being arranged distributed in a peripheral side of the neck.

10. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the bottle is provided with sealing means for sealing a space located between the bottle and a closing element coupled releasably to the bottle.

11. The bottle as claimed in claim 10, wherein at least a part of the sealing means is arranged on at least a part of the at least one engaging element.

12. The bottle as claimed in claim 10, wherein at least a part of the sealing means is arranged on at least a part of the upper edge of the neck.

13. The bottle as claimed in claim 10, wherein the sealing means form an integral part of the bottle.

14. The bottle as claimed in claim 10, wherein the sealing means comprise at least one elastomer.

15. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one engaging element protrudes laterally relative to the neck.

16. The bottle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the at least one engaging element is formed by a support ring protruding laterally relative to the neck.

17. The bottle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the at least one engaging element, in particular the support ring, protrudes at least 1.5 millimetres relative to the neck.

18. The bottle as claimed in claim 16, wherein a peripheral side of the support ring lying at a distance from the neck is given a cross-sectional form which is substantially round.

19. The bottle as claimed in claim 16, wherein a peripheral side of the support ring lying at a distance from the neck is given a cross-sectional form which is substantially angled.

20. The bottle as claimed in claim 16, wherein a peripheral side of the support ring lying at a distance from the neck is given a hexagonal form.

21. The bottle as claimed in claim 16, wherein a peripheral side of the support ring lying at a distance from the neck is provided with at least one recess.

22. The bottle as claimed in claim 16, wherein the dimensioning of the support ring corresponds to a standardized dimensioning.

23. The bottle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the ratio of the protrusion of the at least one engaging element relative to the neck and the wall thickness of the neck amounts to at least 0.45.

24. The bottle as claimed in claim 15, wherein at least one laterally protruding engaging element is connected to the upper edge of the bottle.

25. The bottle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the ratio of the shortest distance between the at least one engaging element and the upper edge on the one hand and the protrusion of the at least one engaging element relative to the neck on the other lies between 0.2 and 3.33.

26. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least a part of the coupling means forms part of the at least one engaging element.

27. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least a part of the coupling means forms part of the neck.

28. The bottle as claimed in claim 27, wherein at least part of the coupling means is positioned in a space enclosed by the neck.

29. The bottle as claimed in claim 28, wherein at least part of the coupling means is arranged on an inner side of the neck.

30. The bottle as claimed in claim 29, wherein the coupling means connect to the upper edge of the bottle.

31. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the coupling means comprise at least one screw thread.

32. The bottle as claimed in claim 31, wherein the screw thread takes an interrupted form.

33. The bottle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the dimensioning of the bottle body of the bottle corresponds to a standardized dimensioning.

34. An assembly of a bottle as claimed in claim 1 and a closing element connected releasably to the bottle and closing the bottle.

35. The assembly as claimed in claim 34, wherein the closing element and the bottle are mutually connected by means of a clamp connection, a snap connection, a bayonet fitting or a screw connection.

36. The assembly as claimed in claim 34, wherein the closing element is coupled to at least one engaging element.

37. The assembly as claimed in claim 34, wherein the closing element is coupled to the neck of the bottle.

38. The assembly as claimed in claim 37, wherein the closing element is arranged at least partially in the neck of the bottle.

39. The assembly as claimed in claim 34, wherein the closing element is adapted to engage under bias on a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element for the purpose of realizing a substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle.

40. The assembly as claimed in claim 39, wherein the closing element is adapted to engage multilaterally under bias on a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element.

41. A preform for manufacturing a plastic bottle as claimed in claim 1, comprising a sleeve-like body provided with the at least one engaging element adapted to enable mechanical engagement of the preform or the formed bottle during the production process of the bottle, wherein the shortest distance between an upper edge of the sleeve-like body defining an upper outer end of the bottle to be formed and the at least one engaging element lies between 0 and 7 millimetres, in particular between 0.5 and 7 millimetres.

42. A method for manufacturing a preform as claimed in claim 41, comprising the steps of: A) arranging melted plastic in a mould cavity enclosed by a mould and forming the preform provided with the at least one engaging element, B) arranging coupling means on an inner side of the preform, and C) removing the preform from the mould.

43. The method as claimed in claim 42, wherein step A) and step B) are performed simultaneously.

44. The method as claimed in claim 42, wherein step B) is performed after step C).

45. The method as claimed in claim 42, wherein the coupling means arranged during step B) connect to an upper edge of the preform.

46. The method as claimed in claim 42, wherein the coupling means arranged during step B) are formed by an internal screw thread.

47. A closing element for closing a bottle as claimed in claim 1.

48. The closing element as claimed in claim 47, wherein the closing element comprises counter-coupling means, which counter-coupling means are adapted to be at least partially received in a neck of the bottle for co-action with coupling means arranged in the neck.

49. The closing element as claimed in claim 48, wherein the counter-coupling means are arranged on an outer side of a bush-like element forming part of the closing element, this bush-like element being adapted to be at least partially received in the neck of the bottle.

50. The closing element as claimed in claim 49, wherein the counter-coupling means are formed by an external screw thread.

51. The closing element as claimed in claim 50, wherein the external screw thread takes an interrupted form.

52. The closing element as claimed in claim 47, wherein the closing element is provided with at least one sealing element.

53. The closing element as claimed in claim 52, wherein the sealing element takes an annular form and is adapted to engage the neck of the bottle under bias.

54. The closing element as claimed in claim 53, wherein the sealing element is adapted to engage the neck of the bottle multilaterally under bias.

55. The closing element as claimed in claim 54, wherein the sealing element comprises an annular receiving space for receiving the upper edge of the neck.

56. The closing element as claimed in claim 55, wherein the sealing element has an at least partially wedge-shaped form in cross-section.

57. The closing element as claimed in claim 52, wherein the sealing element is manufactured at least partially from a flexible material.

Description:

The present invention relates to a plastic bottle, in particular a PET bottle. The invention also relates to an assembly of such a bottle and a closing element which is connected releasably to the bottle and closes the bottle. The invention of further relates to a plastic preform for the manufacture of such a bottle. In addition, the invention relates to a method for manufacturing such a preform. The invention also relates to a closing element for closing a bottle according to the invention.

It is estimated that more than 11 million tonnes of packages manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) were marketed in 2007. It is expected that more than 16 million tonnes of these PET packages will be marketed in 2013. More than 90% of all PET packages are embodied as PET bottle for packaging of beverages, including carbonated (soft) drinks, water, juice, milk and so on. On the basis of the European guideline for packaging and packaging waste 94/62/EC, manufacturers, at least within Europe, are being stimulated to market relatively environmentally-friendly (plastic) packaging in order to minimize the environmental effects of this packaging. It is of particular importance here to maximize the recyclability of the plastic packages, and consequently minimize the amount of waste. An important aspect here is represented by realizing a weight-saving of the plastic packages, which will result in a substantial reduction in waste. In addition to a substantially reduced environmental impact, realizing a weight-saving of for instance 1 or 2 grams also results in a cost-saving of billions of euros per year in material and transport costs. Diverse initiatives have resulted in new standardized bottles manufactured from plastic, in particular PET bottles. Each of the known PET bottles is constructed here from a bottle body to which a neck connects, wherein the neck is provided with an external screw thread enabling the PET bottle to be closed by means of a cap. In addition, the neck is provided with a conventional support ring for the purpose of being able to mechanically engage the bottle in stable manner during different steps in the production process of the bottle, including the manufacture of a so-called PET preform, transforming the PET preform into a PET bottle by means of blow moulding, and transporting the PET bottle. With a view to the future however, there will continue to be a need to realize further weight-saving in the plastic bottles, wherein a saving of one or several grams will already result in a substantial financial cost-saving for manufacturers, wherein the adverse environmental effects can also be drastically reduced.

The invention has for its object to provide an improved plastic bottle, using which a further weight-saving can be realized.

The invention has the further object of providing a lightweight plastic bottle which can be closed substantially medium-tightly using a closing element.

The invention provides for this purpose a plastic bottle of the type stated in the preamble, comprising: a bottle body, a neck connecting to the bottle body, which neck is provided with at least one engaging element to enable mechanical engaging of the bottle at least during the production process of blow moulding of the bottle, and coupling means connected to the neck for coupling the bottle to a closing element closing the bottle, wherein the shortest distance between an upper edge of the neck defining an upper outer end of the bottle and the at least one engaging element lies between 0 and 7 millimetres. By substantially shortening the overall length of the neck of the bottle relative to the neck length of conventional plastic bottles, as a result of which the at least one engaging element, in particular a conventional support ring, comes to lie considerably closer to the upper edge of the bottle, the bottle according to the invention results in a further weight-saving of about 3 to 4 grams and a length reduction of up to about 15 millimetres, this being particularly advantageous from both a financial and logistical viewpoint as well as from the viewpoint of environmental friendliness. The positioning of the at least one engaging element relative to the bottle body, usually also referred to as belly, will generally not change here in order to be able to retain as far as possible a standardized dimensioning of the bottle, apart from the smaller design of the neck. This has the advantage that existing production means need be modified as little as possible to enable production of the bottle according to the invention. The use of at least one engaging element is necessary in almost all existing production lines to enable mechanical engagement of the bottle in a stable manner. During production of the bottle according to the invention a thick-walled plastic preform is generally manufactured first by means of injection moulding, this preform already being provided with the at least one engaging element. The preform, or at least the part of the preform positioned under the at least one engaging element, is then stretched and inflated to form the actual bottle. Relatively high pressures of about 200 bar are generally employed during inflation of the bottle. In order to enable the stretching and inflation of the bottle to be performed in controlled manner the bottle (to be formed) is held mechanically via the at least one engaging element. The at least one engaging element applied can be of diverse nature, but must however be adapted to engage the bottle mechanically in stable manner so as to enable manufacture, in particular blow moulding, and transport of the bottle. The engaging element must here be of sufficiently large dimensions in order to effect a stable mechanical engagement of the bottle. Tests have shown that, where an engaging element protruding laterally relative to the neck is applied, the engaging element must protrude at least 1.5 millimetres relative to the neck to enable a reliable mechanical engagement during the blow moulding process. The plastic bottle according to the invention, in particular the bottle body, is adapted to hold a food product, in particular a beverage or other type of liquid or solid substance, such as for instance a cleaning agent.

The at least one engaging element is more preferably positioned at a distance from the upper edge of the neck, wherein a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element is adapted for sealing co-action with a closing element closing the bottle. Positioning the engaging element at a distance has the important advantage that a part of the neck lying above the engaging element can be optimally designed for co-action with a closing element for the purpose of enabling substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle. The wall thickness of this upper part of the neck preferably lies here between 1 and 2.5 millimetres, on the one hand so that the wall thickness is kept sufficiently limited with a view to weight-saving and on the other so that it is strong enough to realize a substantially medium-tight closure. The design of the engaging element can then also be optimized in this manner to enable mechanical clamping of the bottle (to be formed) during the blow moulding process. A maximum design freedom can thus be obtained by positioning at a distance from each other the upper edge of the neck on one hand and the at least one engaging element on the other, as a result of which the mass of the bottle can not only be reduced relative to the conventional PET bottle, but a substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle can also be realized in relatively efficient manner. In order to enable a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element to be adapted as well as possible for realizing a substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle in co-action with a closing element, it is particularly advantageous when the shortest distance between the upper edge of the neck and the at least one engaging element lies between 0.5 and 7 millimetres, preferably between 1 and 7 millimetres, more preferably between 1 and 5 millimetres. Tests have shown that a minimum upright edge height of 0.5 millimetre considerably facilitates being able to realize a substantially medium-tight closure. Because there is a shortest distance between the upper edge of the neck on the one hand and the engaging element on the other, the (shortest) distance is in fact defined between the upper edge of the neck on the one hand and an uppermost boundary (directed toward the upper edge of the neck) of the engaging element on the other.

In a preferred embodiment the neck is provided with a plurality of engaging elements adapted to enable mechanical engaging of the bottle during the production process. In this way a segmented support ring can for instance be formed, wherein preferably equally large intermediate spaces (recess) are in fact located between the engaging elements, whereby on the one hand a further weight-saving can be realized and whereby on the other the functioning of a peripheral side of the engaging elements as screw thread can be optimized. It is also possible to envisage only two engaging elements being applied which are attached to opposite parts of the neck. The engaging elements are preferably formed here by lips. In a particular preferred embodiment each engaging element is formed by a ring protruding laterally relative to the neck, wherein at least one ring is adapted to be engaged mechanically during the blow moulding process, and the other ring(s) is/are adapted for mechanical engagement during other steps in the production process and/or transport of the bottle. As already stated, a ring adapted for mechanical engagement during the blow moulding process must protrude at least 1.5 millimetres relative to the neck. The other ring(s), which is/are not adapted for mechanical engagement during the blow moulding process of the bottle, can have smaller dimensions. However, each (protruding) engaging element, in particular each support ring, must protrude at least 0.3 millimetre, preferably at least 0.5 millimetre relative to the neck in order to enable mechanical engagement. The use of a plurality of support rings has been found to be particularly advantageous when a bottle is transferred from one production line to a subsequent production line during the production process and/or transport, wherein for instance the lower support ring of a bottle supports in a first production line on a first pair of transport fingers and wherein a second pair of transport fingers of a second production line is then arranged under the upper support ring, after which the first pair of transport fingers are removed and the bottle can be further transported in the second production line. When a plurality of support rings lying one above another are applied to enable mechanical transfer of the bottle, it is advantageous when the mutual distance between the support rings amounts to at least 1 millimetre, and more preferably lies between 1 and 5.5 millimetres, in order to enable placing of the transport fingers or other type of transport element between the adjacent support rings. In a particular preferred embodiment the shortest distance between the upper edge of the neck and each engaging element lies between 0.5 and 7 millimetres. This makes it possible to adapt the part of the neck lying above the engaging elements for the purpose of realizing a substantially medium-tight seal.

In a preferred embodiment at least one engaging element is formed by a recess arranged in the neck. A further weight-saving of the bottle can be realized by having the engaging element formed by a recess. The neck is more preferably provided with a plurality of engaging elements formed by recesses, these recesses being arranged distributed in a peripheral side of the neck. Applying a plurality of recesses will generally enhance the stability and reliability of the mechanical engagement of the bottle.

In another preferred embodiment the at least one engaging element protrudes laterally relative to the neck, wherein the at least one engaging element is more preferably formed by a support ring protruding laterally relative to the neck. In order to be able to ensure sufficiently stable mechanical engagement of the bottle during the production process, particularly during the blow moulding process, and transport, it is advantageous when the at least one engaging element, in particular the support ring, protrudes at least 1.5 millimetres laterally relative to the neck. This minimum dimensioning is essential particularly when the bottle is manufactured from PET. PET bottles are manufactured by inflating an already manufactured preform at relatively high pressure, wherein the ring must be sufficiently large during the blow moulding of the PET bottles to be able to hold the bottle mechanically in stable manner. When the bottle is manufactured from a material other than PET, for instance PVC, PP, HDPE and LDPE, the support ring can then optionally have smaller dimensioning. This is because a bottle manufactured from a plastic other than PET is generally not manufactured on the basis of an already formed preform, but is manufactured directly in a single blow moulding die of an extrusion blowing machine. The mechanical engagement of the support ring during the blow moulding of the bottle is then less critical, whereby the dimensioning of the support ring could be reduced. However, the use of a support ring or an equivalent engaging element will generally remain necessary for the subsequent transport, filling and closing of the plastic bottle. The dimensioning of the support ring preferably corresponds here to a standardized dimensioning, whereby existing production lines require minimum modification to the bottle according to the invention. A peripheral side of the support ring located a distance from the neck can herein be given a cross-sectional form which is substantially round (this being standard) or angled, in particular hexagonal. The hexagonal form is particularly advantageous because a further material-saving can in this way be realized relative to a support ring of round cross-section, while sufficient angles are still present to enable stable mechanical engagement of the bottle. The angled support ring is moreover adapted as coupling element to enable coupling to the support ring of a closing element provided with internal screw thread. The peripheral side of the support ring can be provided with one or more recesses for the purpose of improving the coupling to the closing element.

The ratio of the protrusion of the at least one engaging element relative to the neck on the one hand and the wall thickness of the neck on the other preferably amounts to at least 0.45. By applying a ratio of at least 0.45, and more preferably at least 1, it is possible at a standard wall thickness of between 1.45 and 5.05 millimetres to realize sufficient protrusion of the at least one engaging element to enable mechanical engagement of the bottle in stable manner for the purpose of producing and/or transporting the bottle.

In a preferred embodiment at least one laterally protruding engaging element is connected to the upper edge of the bottle. In this preferred embodiment the at least one engaging element, in particular a support ring, likewise forms part of the upper edge of the bottle. Having the upper edge of the bottle formed partly by the at least one engaging element is advantageous because a maximum reduction in a part of the neck lying above the least one engaging element, and thereby a maximum weight-saving, can in this way be realized. In another preferred embodiment however, at least one engaging element is positioned at a distance from the upper edge. According to this preferred embodiment, a (small) part of the neck protrudes a maximum of 5 millimetres relative to a part of the at least one engaging element remote from the bottle body. The advantage of applying a small upright edge is being able to realize a medium-tight closure of the bottle in facilitated manner, which will be particularly advantageous when the bottle is or will be filled with a carbonated drink. In a particular preferred embodiment the ratio of the shortest distance between the at least one engaging element and the upper edge on the one hand and the protrusion of the at least one engaging element relative to the neck on the other lies between 0 and 3.33, in particular 0.2 and 3.33. By selecting the above stated ratio between 0 and 3.33, in particular 0.2 and 3.33, an optimum ratio is obtained which on the one hand allows the at least one engaging element to protrude sufficiently for the purpose of mechanical engagement and which on the other enables optimum sealing of the bottle, wherein a substantial weight-saving is still realized. In another particular preferred embodiment the ratio of the shortest distance between the at least one engaging element and the upper edge on the one hand and the wall thickness of the neck on the other lies between 0 and 3 and, when the at least one engaging element lies at a distance from the upper edge, between 0.10 and 3, more preferably between 0.20 and 3. At a standard wall thickness of between 1.45 and 5.05 millimetres an optimal balance can in this way be found between the realization of a maximum weight-saving and the realization of an optimum sealing of the bottle according to the invention.

Because the neck of the bottle according to the invention is considerably shorter than the neck of a conventional plastic bottle for the purpose of realizing the intended weight-saving, the positioning of the coupling means will generally have to be modified relative to a conventional positioning of the coupling means. In a traditional bottle the coupling means are formed by a screw thread arranged on an outer side of a part of the neck lying above the support ring. Because this latter part of the neck protruding above the support ring is either no longer present in the bottle according to the invention or is of minimal dimensions, it can be advantageous for at least a part of the coupling means to form part of the at least one engaging element. By having the at least one engaging element form at least a part of the coupling means it is no longer necessary to arrange separate coupling means, such as for instance a screw thread, this being advantageous from a financial and logistical viewpoint. In this latter preferred embodiment a peripheral side of the one or more engaging elements remote from the neck can herein function as external screw thread adapted for co-action with a closing element provided with an internal screw thread. It is however also possible to envisage at least a part of the coupling means forming part of the neck, wherein in particular at least part of the coupling means is positioned in a space enclosed by the neck. An improved closure of the bottle by means of a closing element can be realized by applying separate coupling means since the design and dimensioning of the coupling means can be fully adapted to enabling optimum, i.e. medium-tight closure of the bottle. In a particular preferred embodiment at least a part of the coupling means is arranged on an inner side in the neck.

The coupling means preferably comprise at least one screw thread. Depending on the positioning of the screw thread relative to the neck, this will be an external or internal screw thread. At least a part of the screw threads of the screw thread connection is optionally interrupted in order to conditionally allow a certain degree of ventilation, in particular venting, between the space inside the food product container and the ambient atmosphere. When an internal screw thread is applied, the screw thread will be arranged on an inner side of the neck. When an external screw thread is applied, the screw thread, or at least the part thereof, will be arranged on an outer side of a part of the neck lying below the at least one engaging element.

In order to enable a medium-tight closure of the bottle to be realized in facilitated manner it is advantageous when the bottle is provided with sealing means for sealing a space located between the bottle and a closing element coupled releasably to the bottle. The use of sealing means will be particularly advantageous when the bottle has been or is filled with a carbonated drink, wherein it will be possible to maintain the carbon dioxide content in the bottle, this enhancing conservation of flavour and the like. Substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle can moreover prevent, or at least counter, micro-organisms being able to move from outside the bottle to a location inside the bottle in its closed state. A constant composition of the beverage received in the bottle can therefore be guaranteed by a medium-tight closure of the bottle, wherein the beverage can also be conserved in relatively hygienic manner in the closed food product container. In a particular preferred embodiment at least a part of the sealing means is arranged on at least a part of the at least one engaging element. A substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle can herein be realized by allowing the closing element to engage under bias on the at least one engaging element in the closed state. It is usually also advantageous to optionally additionally arrange at least a part of the sealing means on at least a part of the upper edge of the bottle in order to enable realization of a substantially medium-tight closure. The seal will generally be formed by a flexible, sealing material strip optionally connected integrally to the bottle and/or the closing element. Various conventional materials can be applied as sealing material. A thermoplastic rubber (TPR), such as a thermoplastic elastomer, and/or a flexible foam with a closed cell structure are preferably applied. Examples of applicable materials are: ethylene vinyl acetate rubber (EVA), ethylene vinyl ethanol (EvOH) and silicone rubber. In a particular preferred embodiment the sealing means are provided with one or more additives, wherein at least one additive is formed by an oxygen scavenger in order to prevent contact of oxygen with beverage received in the bottle. The beverage can in this way be conserved in improved manner.

In a preferred embodiment the dimensioning of the bottle body of the bottle corresponds to a standardized dimensioning. By having the bottle body correspond to a standardized dimensioning hardly any modification need be made to the conventional production process for the purpose of manufacturing the bottle according to the invention, this being particularly advantageous from a logistical and commercial viewpoint.

The invention also relates to an assembly of a bottle according to the invention and a closing element connected releasably to the bottle and closing the bottle. The releasable, and preferably medium-tight, coupling between the closing element and the bottle is preferably realized by a clamp connection, a snap connection, a bayonet fitting or a screw connection. The closing element can herein be coupled to at least one engaging element. An inner side of the neck will usually be provided with coupling means for realizing the coupling between the closing element and the bottle, whereby in the closed state of the bottle the closing element is arranged at least partially in the neck of the bottle. The closing element will generally be manufactured from plastic or metal. The at least one engaging element is preferably positioned at a distance from the upper edge of the neck of the bottle, wherein the closing element is adapted to engage under bias on a part of the neck above the at least one engaging element for the purpose of realizing a substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle. In this way a substantially liquid-tight, and usually also substantially medium-tight closure of the bottle can be realized. The closing element is more preferably adapted to engage multilaterally under bias on a part of the neck lying above the at least one engaging element. A multilateral sealing can be realized by having the closing element engage multilaterally under bias on the neck wall, thereby guaranteeing an improved, substantially medium-tight sealing. This latter preferred embodiment is particularly advantageous when the bottle is filled with a carbonated drink, wherein it will be possible to maintain the carbon dioxide content in the bottle, this enhancing conservation of flavour and the like.

The invention further relates to a plastic preform for manufacturing the bottle according to the invention. The preform comprises a sleeve-like body provided with the at least one engaging element adapted to enable mechanical engagement of the preform or the formed bottle during the production process of the bottle, wherein the distance between an upper edge of the sleeve-like body defining an upper outer end of the bottle to be formed and the at least one engaging element lies between 0 and 7 millimetres, in particular between 0.5 and 7 millimetres, more particularly between 1 and 5 millimetres. The preform will ultimately be transformed into the bottle according to the invention by means of stretching and inflation. It is noted here that only a part of the preform will generally be stretched and inflated during manufacture of the bottle; the at least one engaging element and a part of the preform possibly lying above the engaging element will generally not deform during production of the bottle according to the invention. The ratios and dimensioning referred to in this patent document which relate to the at least one engaging element and/or a part of the bottle possibly lying thereabove are consequently also applicable to the at least one engaging element and/or a part of the preform possibly lying thereabove. It is possible to envisage the preform being marketed separately, after which the preform is transformed into the actual PET bottle.

In addition, the invention relates to a method for manufacturing such a preform, comprising the steps of: A) arranging melted plastic in a mould cavity enclosed by a mould and forming the preform provided with the at least one engaging element, B) arranging coupling means on an inner side of the preform, and C) removing the preform from the mould. In a preferred embodiment step A) and step B) are performed simultaneously. In an alternative preferred embodiment step B) is performed after step C). The coupling means arranged during step B) preferably connect to an upper edge of the preform, this being advantageous from a production engineering viewpoint. The coupling means arranged during step B) will preferably be formed here by an internal screw thread. A further elaboration of the method according to the invention is provided in the figure description.

The invention also relates to a closing element for closing a bottle according to the invention. The closing element herein comprises counter-coupling means, which counter-coupling means are adapted to be at least partially received in a neck of the bottle for co-action with coupling means arranged in the neck. Because the closing element is positioned at least partially in the neck of the bottle, the closing element functions in fact as stopper, whereby a relatively reliable and durable sealing of the bottle can be realized. The counter-coupling means are preferably arranged for this purpose on an outer side of a bush-like element forming part of the closing element, this bush-like element being adapted to be at least partially received in the neck of the bottle. In a particular preferred embodiment the counter-coupling means are formed by an external screw thread, in particular an external interrupted screw thread. The closing element preferably comprises at least one sealing element in order to realize a medium-tight sealing of the bottle. The sealing element preferably takes an annular form here and is adapted to engage the neck of the bottle under bias. Particularly when the bottle is provided with a carbonated drink, it is advantageous when the sealing element is adapted to engage the neck of the bottle multilaterally under bias. The sealing element preferably comprises for this purpose an annular receiving space for receiving at least the upper edge of the neck, and usually also (at least a part of) a part of the neck lying above the highest placed engaging element. In a particular preferred embodiment the sealing element has an at least partially wedge-shaped form in cross-section, whereby the upper edge of the neck is in fact clamped in the wedge-like receiving space of the sealing element, which can ensure the best possible medium-tight seal. It is advantageous here when the sealing element is manufactured at least partially from a flexible material, in particular an elastomer.

The invention will be elucidated on the basis of non-limitative exemplary embodiments shown in the following figures. Herein:

FIG. 1a shows a side view of a prior art PET bottle,

FIG. 1b shows a side view of a PET bottle according to the invention modified relative to the prior art,

FIG. 2a is a side view of a first embodiment variant of a preform for manufacturing a PET bottle according to the invention,

FIG. 2b is a side view of a PET bottle according to the invention manufactured on the basis of the preform according to FIG. 2a,

FIG. 3a is a perspective view of an assembly of a second embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 3b shows a side view of the assembly according to FIG. 3a,

FIG. 4a is a perspective view of an assembly of a third embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 4b shows a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 4a,

FIG. 5a is a perspective view of an assembly of a fourth embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 5b shows a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 5a,

FIG. 6a is a perspective view of an assembly of a fifth embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 6b shows a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 6a,

FIG. 7a is a perspective view of an assembly of a sixth embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 7b is a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 7a,

FIG. 8a shows a perspective view of an assembly of a seventh embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 8b shows a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 8a,

FIG. 9a is a perspective view of an assembly of an eighth embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element adapted for co-action with the preform,

FIG. 9b is a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 9a in an opened position,

FIG. 9c shows a side view of the assembled assembly according to FIG. 9a in a closed position,

FIG. 10a shows a side view of an assembled assembly of a ninth embodiment variant of a preform according to the invention and a closing element co-acting with the preform,

FIG. 10b shows a detailed perspective view of a part of the assembly according to FIG. 10a in an opened position,

FIG. 10c shows a detailed perspective view of a part of the assembly according to FIG. 10a in a closed position,

FIG. 11 shows a cross-section of a part of a neck of a bottle according to the invention,

FIGS. 12a-12d show different production stages in the manufacture of a plastic PET bottle on the basis of a preform,

FIG. 13a shows a perspective view of a closing element according to the invention for closing a bottle according to the invention,

FIG. 13b shows a cross-section of the closing element according to FIG. 13a,

FIG. 13c shows a cross-section of an assembled assembly of the neck according to FIG. 11 and the closing element according to FIGS. 13a and 13b,

FIG. 14a is a perspective view of an alternative preform according to the invention,

FIG. 14b shows a cross-section of the preform according to FIG. 14a,

FIGS. 15a-15d show successive process steps of a first method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 16a-16f show successive process steps of a second method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 17a-17d show successive process steps of a third method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 18a-18d show successive process steps of a fourth method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIG. 18e is a perspective view of a pin for use in an injection mould as shown in FIGS. 18a-18d,

FIGS. 19a-19d show successive process steps of a fifth method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 20a-20d shows successive process steps of a sixth method for manufacturing a preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 21a-21c show cross-sections of an assembly of a preform according to the invention and a closing element in successively a closed position, an intermediate position and an opened position,

FIG. 21d shows a perspective cross-section of the opened position of an upper part of the assembly according to FIGS. 21a-21c,

FIGS. 22a-22e show perspective views of different positions of another assembly of a preform and a closing element according to the invention,

FIG. 22f shows a side view and a cross-section of the preform according to FIGS. 22a-22e,

FIG. 23a is a side view of yet another plastic preform according to the invention,

FIGS. 23b and 23c show cross-sections of a part of the preform according to FIG. 23a, and

FIG. 23d shows a partial cross-section of an assembly of the preform according to FIGS. 23a-23c and a closing element connected to the preform.

FIG. 1a shows a prior art PET bottle 1 comprising a bottle body 2 and a neck 3 connected to bottle body 2. Neck 3 is provided with a support ring 4 (engaging ring) enabling mechanical engagement of PET bottle 1 during production and transport of PET bottle 1. A part 5 of neck 3 located above support ring 4 is provided with an external screw thread 6 adapted for co-action with an internal screw thread forming part of a closing element (not shown) enabling closing of PET bottle 1.

FIG. 1b shows a side view of a PET bottle 7 according to the invention modified relative to the prior art. PET bottle 7 according to the invention likewise comprises a bottle body 8 to which a tapering neck 9 connects, wherein neck 9 is provided with a support ring 10 to enable mechanical engagement of PET bottle 7 during production and transport. PET bottle 7 according to the invention is modified relative to the conventional PET bottle 1 by no longer applying, and thus omitting, the original part 5 of neck 3 located above support ring 4 (shown separately in FIG. 1b), whereby a substantial weight-saving of several grams, and thereby a substantial cost-saving, can be realized. As shown in FIG. 1b, the upper edge of neck 9 defining an upper outer end of bottle 7 is also formed by support ring 10 which, in addition to a considerable weight and cost-saving, also results in an improved taste sensation when a consumer consumes the beverage held in PET bottle 7 directly from PET bottle 7. It is noted that bottle body 8 and neck 9 are generally manufactured as one whole and are therefore integrally connected to each other. The function of support ring 10 is further elucidated in FIGS. 12a-12d. It will be apparent that bottle 7 according to the invention need not necessarily be manufactured from PET (polyethylene terephthalate); it is also possible for instance to envisage bottle 7 being manufactured from another plastic, such as for instance HDPE (high-density polyethylene).

FIG. 2a shows a side view of a first embodiment variant of a preform 11 for manufacturing a PET bottle 12 (see FIG. 2b) according to the invention. The plastic preform 11 comprises a sleeve-like body 13, on an open outer end 14 of which is arranged a support ring 15. During manufacture of PET bottle 12 on the basis of preform 11 the dimensioning of support ring 15 will not change at all. Preform 11 will first of all be stretched in lengthwise direction, after which the stretched preform 11 is inflated in a mould to form the final PET bottle 12.

FIG. 3a shows a perspective view of an assembly 16 of a second embodiment variant of a preform 17 according to the invention and a closing element 18 (cap) adapted for co-action with preform 17. Preform 17 comprises a sleeve-like body 19, at an open outer end 20 of which a support ring 21 of hexagonal shape is arranged. Closing element 18 is provided with an internal screw thread 22, which internal screw thread 22 is adapted for co-action with the support ring 21 of angular shape for the purpose of closing preform 17, and thereby the bottle to be formed on the basis of preform 17. Because support ring 21 is of hexagonal shape, a further weight-saving, and thereby cost-saving, is on the one hand realized, and furthermore a plurality of contact surfaces lying at a distance from each other are in fact realized which are adapted to enable guiding of the internal screw thread 22 of closing element 18 in durable and stable manner, whereby preform 17 and closing element 18 can be mutually coupled (see FIG. 3b). The cross-section according to FIG. 3b further shows that in the assembled position the closing element 18 lies partially in a space enclosed by sleeve-like body 19 for the purpose of realizing an improved sealing of preform 17, and thereby of the bottle to be finally formed. In this exemplary embodiment support ring 21 protrudes 3.75 millimetres relative to sleeve-like body 19 and the thickness (height) of support ring 21 is 1.5 millimetres.

FIG. 4a shows a perspective view of an assembly 23 of a third embodiment variant of a preform 24 according to the invention and a closing element 25 (cap) adapted for co-action with preform 24. Preform 24 comprises a sleeve-like body 26, close to an open outer end 27 of which is arranged a support ring 28 of round cross-sectional design. Closing element 25 is provided with an interrupted external screw thread 29, this external screw thread 29 being adapted for co-action with an interrupted internal screw thread 30 arranged in sleeve-like body 26. The actual screw thread connection is hereby thus formed in a space enclosed by sleeve-like body 26, and therefore in a space enclosed by a neck to be formed. As shown in FIG. 4a, support ring 28 is positioned close to (a short distance from) an upper edge 31 of sleeve-like body 26. The distance between support ring 28 and upper edge 31 amounts to a maximum of 5 millimetres. The upper edge 31 protruding relative to support ring 28 is adapted to be received in a circular groove 32 forming part of closing element 25 in order to enable realization of a medium-tight seal of preform 24, and thereby of the bottle to be formed. The realizing of a medium-tight seal is particularly advantageous when the bottle to be formed is filled with a carbonated drink.

FIG. 5a shows a perspective view of an assembly 33 of a fourth embodiment variant of a preform 34 according to the invention and a closing element 35 (cap) adapted for co-action with preform 34. Preform 34 comprises a sleeve-like body 36, close to an open outer end 37 of which a laterally protruding segmented support ring 38 is arranged. Closing element 35 is provided with an inward protruding segmented coupling flange 39, this segmented coupling flange 39 being adapted for co-action with the segmented support ring 38 in order to enable coupling of closing element 35 to preform 34, and thereby to the bottle to be formed, by means of a kind of bayonet fitting (see FIG. 5b).

FIG. 6a shows a perspective view of an assembly 40 of a fifth embodiment variant of a preform 41 according to the invention and a closing element 42 (cap) adapted for co-action with preform 41. Preform 41 comprises a sleeve-like body 43, close to an open outer end 44 of which a laterally protruding segmented support ring 45 is arranged. Closing element 42 is provided with a bush-like element 46 provided with a laterally protruding coupling edge 47. Coupling edge 47 is adapted for co-action with a groove 48 arranged in sleeve-like body 44 in order to enable realization of a snap connection between closing element 42 and preform 41 so as to close preform 41, and thereby a bottle to be formed. An upper edge 49 protruding a maximum of 5 millimetres relative to support ring 45 is adapted to be received in a circular groove 50 forming part of closing element 42, in order to improve the sealing of preform 41, and thereby of a bottle to be formed.

FIG. 7a shows a perspective view of an assembly 51 of a sixth embodiment variant of a preform 52 according to the invention and a closing element 53 (cap) adapted for co-action with preform 52. Preform 52 comprises an elongate sleeve-like body 54, close to an open outer end 55 of which a laterally protruding, segmented support ring 56 is arranged. Closing element 53 is provided with a circular groove 57 adapted for co-action with support ring 56 of preform 52 to enable realization of a snap connection between preform 52 and closing element 53 (see FIG. 7b).

FIG. 8a shows a perspective view of an assembly 58 of a seventh embodiment variant of a preform 59 according to the invention and a closing element 60 adapted for co-action with preform 59. Preform 59 comprises a sleeve-like body 61, close to an open outer end 62 of which a laterally protruding, segmented support ring 63 is arranged. Closing element 60 comprises a closing member 64 and a locking member 65 connected for axial displacement to closing member 64. Closing member 64 comprises a segmented skirt 66 which is in fact constructed from a plurality of clamping fingers 66a, this skirt 66 being adapted for co-action with support ring 64 in order to enable fastening of closing element 60 onto preform 59, and thereby onto a bottle to be formed (see FIG. 8b). Locking member 65 is adapted to lock the segmented skirt 66 relative to support ring 63 in order to enable realization of a reliable closure of preform 59, and thereby of a bottle to be formed. This closed, locked situation is shown in FIG. 8b. By subsequently displacing locking member 65 in a direction away from closing member 64 the segmented skirt 66 is unlocked, after which closing element 60 can be removed relatively easily from preform 59. In this case the locking member 65 alone can optionally be removed from preform 59, after which beverage can be removed from the bottle (to be formed) via a passage opening 67 arranged in closing member 64.

FIG. 9a shows a perspective view of an assembly 70 of an eighth embodiment variant of a preform 71 according to the invention and a closing element 72 adapted for co-action with preform 71. Preform 71 comprises a sleeve-like body 73 provided with a support ring 74 arranged close to an open outer end 75 of sleeve-like body 73. An inner side of preform 71 is provided close to open outer end 75 with an internal screw thread 76. Closing element 72 is provided with an external screw thread 77 adapted for co-action with internal screw thread 76 of preform 71. As shown in FIG. 9a, internal screw thread 76 does not run through as far as an upper edge 78 of preform 71, whereby unintentional removal of closing element 72 from preform 71 after assembly of assembly 70 can be prevented. Closing element 72 can be positioned in an opened situation (FIG. 9a) or in a closed situation (FIG. 9b) by axial rotation of closing element 72 relative to preform 71. Closing element 72 is provided with a plurality of passage openings 79 for beverage in order to enable removal of beverage from the bottle (to be formed) in the opened situation. It is noted that the upper part of preform 71 provided with support ring 75 and the internal screw thread 77 will not deform during transformation of preform 73 into a bottle by means of stretching and blow moulding, whereby the design and dimensioning of internal screw thread 77 can be fully optimized in advance for co-action with external screw thread 78 of closing element 72.

FIG. 10a shows a side view of an assembled assembly 80 of a ninth embodiment variant of a preform 81 according to the invention and a closing element 82 co-acting with preform 81. Preform 81 comprises a sleeve-like body 83 provided with a support ring 84 arranged close to an open outer end 85 of sleeve-like body 83. Closing element 82 comprises an intermediate ring 86 which is arranged fixed in preform 81. Intermediate ring 86 is here provided with a (longitudinal) groove 87 extending in axial direction. An operating element 88 is connected rotatably to intermediate ring 86 via a coupling flange 89. Operating element 88 is provided with a beverage passage opening 90 and an internal screw thread 91. Closing element 82 further comprises a closing member 92 connected to operating element 88. Closing member 92 is provided with external screw thread 93 which co-acts with internal screw thread 91 of operating element 88. Closing member 92 also co-acts with a longitudinal groove 87 of intermediate ring 86 in order to prevent axial rotation of closing member 92. Closing member 92 will be displaced upward or downward in axial direction by rotating operating element 88 relative to intermediate ring 86. When closing member 92 is herein displaced in downward direction, the beverage passage opening 90 will be opened, whereby taking a drink from the bottle (to be formed) is possible (FIG. 10b). Displacing of closing member 92 in upward direction via operating element 88 is possible until the closing member engages on intermediate ring 86 such that the beverage passage opening 90 is closed in substantially medium-tight manner (FIG. 10c). This closing element 82 is particularly suitable for enabling long-lasting conservation of carbonated drinks.

FIG. 11 shows a cross-section of a part of a neck 94 of a bottle according to the invention. The neck is provided with an internal screw thread 95 which continues up to an upper edge 96 of neck 94, which facilitates removal of a closing element (not shown) closing the bottle and which is moreover advantageous from a production engineering viewpoint. Neck 94 is also provided with a support ring 97 enabling mechanical engagement of the bottle during production and transport. Support ring 97 is positioned at a distance from upper edge 96. In this exemplary embodiment the wall thickness TN is 1.9 millimetres, the ring thickness TR 3.75 millimetres, the ring height HR 1.5 millimetres and the distance HN between support ring 97 and the upper edge 1.5 millimetres.

FIGS. 12a-12d show different production stages for manufacturing a plastic PET bottle 101 on the basis of a preform 100, wherein a support ring 102 forming part of respectively preform 100 and PET bottle 101 plays a particularly important part. FIG. 12a shows that preform 101 is removed from a forming pin 103 by rotating preform 100 axially and simultaneously exerting an axially directed force on support ring 102. FIG. 12b shows that preform 100 is inflated to form PET bottle 101, wherein support ring 102 supports on a plate 104 to enable stabilizing of preform 101 during blow moulding. Support ring 102 and a shown internal screw thread 105 of preform 101 will not otherwise deform during the blow moulding. FIG. 12c shows the transport of PET bottle 101 by having support ring 102 of the PET bottle support on a mechanical engaging member 106. FIG. 12d then shows that a cap 107 is arranged on PET bottle 101, wherein support ring 102 functions for the purpose of fixing PET bottle 101.

FIG. 13a shows a perspective view of a closing element 108 according to the invention for closing a bottle 109 according to the invention. Closing element 108 comprises a bush-like element 110 provided with an external interrupted screw thread 111. The bush-like element is adapted to be at least partially received in a space enclosed by bottle 109. Closing element 108 further comprises a circular groove 112 for receiving an upper edge 113 of bottle 109. Circular groove 112 is provided with a sealing ring 114 which is manufactured from an elastomer and which can optionally form an integral part of closing element 108. In addition, closing element 108 comprises an inward protruding flange 115 adapted for co-action with a support ring 116 forming part of bottle 109. Closing element 108 is particularly suitable for medium-tight sealing of bottle 109, wherein the actual sealing is realized in that bush-like element 110 is positioned at least partially in bottle 109, wherein the external screw thread 111 co-acts with an internal screw thread 117 arranged in bottle 109 in that the upper edge 113 of bottle 109 is clamped in the circular groove 112 provided with sealing ring 114 and in that the inward protruding flange 115 engages under bias on an underside of support ring 116 (FIG. 13c).

FIG. 14a shows a perspective view of an alternative preform 118 according to the invention. Preform 118 is manufactured from plastic and adapted to form a bottle. The most important difference with the preforms shown in the foregoing figures is the replacement of the conventional support ring by a plurality of recesses 119 arranged in preform 118. Just as the conventional support ring, the recesses 119 shown here are adapted for mechanical engagement of preform 118 (and the bottle to be formed on the basis thereof) for the purpose of production and transport. The advantage of applying recesses 119 compared to applying a support ring is the realization of a further weight-saving in preform 118, and thereby in the bottle to be formed. Preform 118 is further provided with an internal screw thread 120 which runs through to an upper edge 121 of the preform.

FIGS. 15a-15d show successive process steps of a first method for manufacturing a preform 122 according to the invention. Preform 122 is manufactured in an injection mould 123, which injection mould 123 comprises a mould and two closing parts 125a, 125b connecting onto mould 124. In addition, injection mould 123 comprises a forming pin 126. Forming pin 126 is partly enclosed by a displaceable jacket 128 provided with an external screw thread 127. Preform 122 can be provided with an internal screw thread 129 by applying the external screw thread 127. After forming of preform 122 (FIG. 15a) the mould 124 is removed (FIG. 15b), after which jacket 128 is removed from preform 122 by rotating forming pin 126 (FIG. 15c). Forming pin 126 and closing parts 125a, 125b will then be removed from preform 122 (FIG. 15d), after which preform 122 can be transformed into a bottle.

FIGS. 16a-16f show successive process steps of a second method for manufacturing a preform 130 according to the invention. Preform 130 is manufactured by means of an injection mould 131, comprising a mould 132, a forming pin 133 and a plurality of closing parts 134a, 134b. After removal of mould 132 (FIG. 16b), forming pin 133 and closing parts 134a, 134b (FIG. 16c), an internal screw thread 135 is arranged in preform 130 by applying a bush 137 provided with an external screw thread 136. Bush 137 is here arranged for axial rotation in preform 130 to form the internal screw thread 135 (FIGS. 16d-16f).

FIGS. 17a-17d show successive process steps of a third method for manufacturing a preform 138 according to the invention. Preform 138 is manufactured in an injection mould 139, which injection mould 139 comprises a mould 140 and two closing parts 141a, 141b connecting onto mould 140. In addition, injection mould 140 comprises a forming pin 142. Forming pin 142 is partially enclosed by a displaceable jacket 144 provided with an external screw thread 143. Preform 138 can be provided with an internal screw thread 145 by applying the external screw thread 143. After forming of preform 138 (FIG. 17a) the mould 140 is removed (FIG. 17b), after which the forming pin 142 and both closing parts 141a, 141b are removed. Jacket 144 is then removed from preform 138, after which preform 138 can be transformed into a bottle.

FIGS. 18a-8d show successive process steps of a fourth method for manufacturing a preform 146 according to the invention. Preform 146 is manufactured in an injection mould 147, which injection mould 147 comprises a mould 148 and two closing parts 149a, 149b connecting to mould 148. In addition, injection mould 147 comprises a forming pin 150. Forming pin 150 is enclosed by three displaceable jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c, wherein each jacket segment 151a, 151b, 151c is provided with an external screw thread 152. Preform 146 can be provided with an internal screw thread 153 by applying the external screw thread 152. After forming of preform 146 (FIG. 18a) the mould 148 is removed (FIG. 18b), after which forming pin 150 is removed from preform 146. During removal of forming pin 150 from preform 146 jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c will connect to a less thick part of forming pin 150, whereby jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c will displace toward each other (FIG. 18c) such that jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c can only be removed from preform 146 by axial displacement of forming pin 150 (FIG. 18d). Closing parts 149a, 149b will here also be removed from preform 146. FIG. 18e shows a perspective view of forming pin 150 for use in an injection mould 147 as shown in FIGS. 18a-18d. An upper part of forming pin 150 is given a conical form and provided with three guide elements 154 for guiding jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c. A lower part of forming pin 150 is relatively thin relative to the upper part of forming pin 150, whereby jacket segments 151a, 151b, 151c can be displaced as far as possible toward each other in order to facilitate removal of forming pin 150 from preform 146.

FIGS. 19a-19d show successive process steps of a fifth method for manufacturing a preform 155 according to the invention. Preform 155 is manufactured in an injection mould 156, which injection mould 156 comprises a mould 157 and two closing parts 158a, 158b connecting onto mould 157. In addition, injection mould 156 comprises a forming pin 159 for forming an inner side of preform 155. Forming pin 159 is provided with an external screw thread 160. Preform 155 can be provided with an internal screw thread 161 by applying the external screw thread 160. After forming of preform 155 (FIG. 19a) mould 157 is removed (FIG. 19b), after which closing parts 158a, 158b are removed from preform 155. Finally, preform 155 will be removed from forming pin 159 by axial rotation of preform 155. It will generally be advantageous here to cool forming pin 159, whereby some shrinkage of forming pin 159 will occur and removal of preform 155 from forming pin 159 can take place in facilitated manner.

FIGS. 20a-20d show successive process steps of a sixth method for manufacturing a plastic preform 162 according to the invention. Preform 162 is manufactured in an injection mould 163, which injection mould 163 comprises a mould 164 for forming a lower part of the outer side of preform 162. Injection mould 163 also comprises a plurality of closing parts 165a, 165b connecting onto mould 164 for the purpose of forming an upper part of the outer side of preform 162, including a support ring 197 to enable mechanical holding of the preform, and the bottle to be formed therefrom, during a subsequent blow moulding process. Injection mould 163 further comprises a segmented forming pin 166 provided with an external screw thread 167 for forming an inner side of preform 162. Forming pin 166 comprises two jacket parts 166a, 166b, between which jacket parts 166a, 166b a removable plate-like pin core 166c is arranged (FIG. 20a). After forming of preform 162 (FIG. 20a) the mould 164 is removed, wherein pin core 166c is also removed from jacket parts 166a, 166b of forming pin 166 (FIG. 20b), after which jacket parts 166a, 166b are displaced toward each other. Owing to the transformation of forming pin 166 the volume enclosed by forming pin 166 is reduced such that forming pin 166 can be removed relatively easily from preform 162 (FIGS. 20c and 20d). Closing parts 165a, 165b will here also be removed from preform 162. It will then be possible to deform the preform 162 to form a plastic bottle for food products, in particular beverages. This takes place by mechanical clamping of support ring 197, after which the preform is stretched (inflated) to the final bottle by means of a blowing process. This blowing process is also referred to as blow moulding.

FIGS. 21a-21c show cross-sections of an assembly 170 of a preform 171 according to the invention and a closing element 172 in successively a closed position (FIG. 21a), an intermediate position (FIG. 21b) and an opened position (FIG. 21c). Preform 171 comprises a sleeve-like body 173. Sleeve-like body 173 is provided with a support ring 174 and a flange 175 protruding relative to a top side of support ring 174. Flange 175 herein protrudes a maximum of 5 millimetres relative to support ring 174 in order to realize an intended weight-saving in preform 171, and thereby in a bottle to be formed. An inner wall 176 of sleeve-like body 172 is provided at the position of support ring 173 with an annular groove 177. Closing element 172 is in fact constructed from two parts: a closing base structure 178 and a locking top structure 179 connected displaceably to base structure 178. Base structure 178 is herein provided with a plurality of resilient pins 181 which are provided with a stop 180 and around which the top structure 179 is positioned by means of snapping. Base structure 178 is adapted to be received substantially wholly in preform 171. Base structure 178 comprises a segmented skirt 182 provided with a peripheral protrusion 183. The peripheral protrusion 183 is adapted for co-action with annular groove 176 in order to enable realization of a sealing of preform 171, and thereby a sealing of a bottle to be formed on the basis of preform 171. This sealing can be consolidated by displacing top structure 179 against skirt 182 of base structure 178 (FIG. 21a), whereby skirt 182 is urged in an outward direction, and the peripheral protrusion 183 is thereby urged into groove 177. Unintentional removal of closing element 172 from preform 171 can be prevented by this locking. The removal of closing element 172 from preform 171 can be brought about by displacing top structure 179 in a direction away from base structure 178 (FIG. 21b), whereby skirt 182 can displace in an inward direction. Pulling top structure 179 further in a direction away from preform 171 will result in a deformation of skirt 182, and thereby in uncoupling of closing element 172 relative to preform 171. A prospective cross-section of the opened position of an upper part of assembly 170 is shown in FIG. 21d. It is noted that the closed position of assembly 170 can optionally be stabilized by providing for instance an outer side of pins 181 of base structure 178 with screw thread, whereby a threaded coupling is realized between base structure 178 and top structure 179. It is also possible to envisage having top structure 179 co-act with support ring 174 by means of for instance a snap connection to enable stabilizing of the closed position.

FIGS. 22a-22e show perspective views of different positions of another assembly 184 of a preform 185 and a closing element 186 according to the invention, and FIG. 22f shows a side view and cross-section of preform 185 as according to FIGS. 22a-22e. Preform 185 comprises a sleeve-like body 187 adapted to be transformed into a bottle. Preform 185 also comprises a top structure 188 connected integrally to sleeve-like body 187. Top structure 188 will not deform during transformation of sleeve-like body 187. An underside of the top structure is formed by a laterally protruding first (lower) ring 189, usually also referred to as so-called saturn ring. Top structure 188 also comprises an intermediate neck part 190 and a laterally protruding second (upper) ring 191, wherein second ring 191 also defines an upper edge of preform 185. The distance between a top side of first ring 189 and a top side of second ring 191 amounts to a maximum of 5 millimetres. Closing element 186 is provided with a removable tamper-evident strip 192, this tamper-evident strip 192 being provided with a pull-tab 193. The tamper-evident strip 192 is provided with an inward protruding edge 194, this edge 194 being adapted for co-action with second ring 191 in order to enable tamper-evident sealing of preform 185. Closing element 186 also comprises a tubular element 195 adapted to be at least partially received in top structure 188 of preform 185. An external side of tubular element 195 is here provided with sealing ribs 196 adapted for connection to an inner side of top structure 188 in order to guarantee a substantially medium-tight, or at least substantially liquid-tight, closure of preform 185. Closing element 186 is preferably made from a (somewhat) flexible material in order to enable optimization of the sealing of preform 185. FIGS. 22a-22e show successively a side view of a sealed situation of assembly 184 (FIG. 22a), a cross-section of the sealed situation of assembly 184 (FIG. 22b), a side view of assembly 184 wherein tamper-evident strip 192 has been partially detached (FIG. 22c), a side view of assembly 184 wherein tamper-evident strip 192 has been completely removed (FIG. 22d) and a side view of assembly 184 wherein closing element 186 has been removed from preform 185 (FIG. 22e). FIG. 22f shows clearly that both the diameter and the height (thickness) of first ring 189 are greater than the diameter and height of second ring 191. First ring 189 is applied particularly to enable clamping of the preform during the production process of the bottle. Second ring 191 also contributes toward realizing an improved closure of the preform and/or the formed bottle by applying closing element 186. Provided it is sufficiently largely dimensioned, second ring 191 could optionally be applied to allow mechanical engagement by a transport fork for the purpose of transporting the preform and/or the formed bottle. Although closing element 186 is arranged on preform 185 in the shown FIGS. 22a-22e, the shown closing element 186 will in practice generally be arranged only on the bottle formed on the basis of preform 185.

FIG. 23a shows a side view of yet another plastic preform 198 according to the invention. Preform 198 comprises a sleeve-like body 199 and neck 200 connecting to sleeve-like body 199. As also shown in further detail in the cross-sections according to FIGS. 23b and 23c, neck 200 is provided with two rings 201, 202 protruding laterally relative to neck 200. Also shown is that both rings 201, 202 lie at a distance from an upper edge 203 of neck 200. An inner side of neck 200 is provided with an internal screw thread 204 which extends from upper edge 203 of neck 200 to a position beyond the lower protruding ring 201. As shown in FIGS. 23d and 23e, screw thread 204 functions as coupling means to enable coupling of preform 198 to a closing element 205. Both rings 201, 202 are adapted for mechanical engagement of preform 198 (and the bottle to be formed therefrom) during the production process and/or transport. As shown clearly in the figures, lower ring 201 has larger dimensions than upper ring 202, since lower ring 201 is also adapted to enable mechanical holding of preform 198 during blow moulding of preform 198 to a plastic bottle at increased temperature and pressure. The use of a plurality of rings 201, 202 has the important advantage that preform 198 (and the bottle to be formed therefrom) can be transferred mechanically in relatively simple and efficient manner from a first transport element to a second transport element (not shown). As shown in FIG. 23b, the large ring 201 protrudes a distance a of 2.40 mm relative to neck 200, and the small ring 202 protrudes a distance b of 1.30 mm relative to neck 200. As shown in FIG. 23c, the shortest distance c between upper edge 203 of neck 200 and the large ring 201 equals 5.20 mm, and the shortest distance d between upper edge 203 of neck 200 and the small ring 202 equals 1 mm. The distance e between the two rings 201, 202 amounts to 4.20 mm in this exemplary embodiment. The part of neck 200 above the small ring 202 has a wall thickness f equal to 1.30 mm. This wall thickness f is smaller than the wall thickness of a lower-lying part of neck 200, since the higher part of neck 200 is adapted for co-action with closing element 205 for the purpose of realizing a substantially medium-tight closure of preform 198 (and the bottle to be formed therefrom). This co-action is shown in more detail in FIGS. 23d and 23e. Shown is that in the closed position of preform 198 the upper edge 203 of neck 200, as well as an upper part of neck 200 connecting to upper edge 203 of neck 200, is received in a sealing element 207 which is provided with a receiving space 206 and which forms part of closing element 205. Sealing element 207 has a wedge-shaped cross-section, whereby sealing element 207 can engage multilaterally, and in this case trilaterally, under bias on the upper part of neck 200, whereby a substantially medium-tight seal is realized. This medium-tight seal can be optimized to further extent by arranging a sealing ring (not shown) on upper edge 203 of neck 200 and/or in receiving space 206 of sealing element 207. Is also possible here to envisage the sealing element 207 as such already being at least partially manufactured from a substantially flexible material. In addition, closing element 205 initially co-acts with the large ring 201 in order to realize a tamper-evident closure of preform 198 (and the bottle to be formed therefrom). Closing element 205 is provided for this purpose with a tear-off sealing edge 208 which engages initially (prior to first use) on large ring 201. Also shown is that closing element 205 is provided with a protruding central bush 209 provided with an external screw thread 210 for the purpose of realizing a threaded connection in neck 200 of preform 198 (and the bottle to be formed therefrom). It is noted that closing element 205 is in practice generally arranged on the bottle after manufacture of the bottle, and is so generally not arranged directly on preform 198. As already noted in the foregoing description however, the design and dimensioning of neck 200 will not change at all during blow moulding of preform 198 into a bottle, whereby the shown coupling between neck 200 and closing element 205 are shown accurately.

It will be apparent that the intention is not limited to the exemplary embodiments shown and described here, but that within the scope of the appended claims numerous variants are possible which will be self-evident to the skilled person in this field.