Title:
Child-resistant aerosol spray valve
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A valve for an aerosol spray can comprises a valve body and a valve stem. Alignment apparatus comprising a post member and a cutout is associated with the valve body and valve stem whereby axial alignment of the post member and the cutout allows relative axial motion between the valve body and the valve stem. Any other axial alignment of the post member and the cutout prevents axial movement of the valve stem relative to the valve body. A stop member is provided which limits the relative rotational movement between the valve stem and the valve body and axially aligns the post member with the cutout when the post member is located up against one side of the stop member



Inventors:
William Jr., Bettison L. (Caracas, VE)
Bettison, Maria E. (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Application Number:
09/733594
Publication Date:
10/18/2001
Filing Date:
12/08/2000
Assignee:
BETTISON WILLIAM L.
BETTISON MARIA E.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/153.11
International Classes:
B65D83/14; (IPC1-7): B65D83/00; B65D83/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILLATT, STEPHANIE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard M. Saccocio, P.A. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. Valve apparatus adapted to be fitted to an aerosol spray can, comprising a valve body, a valve stem positioned within said valve body, moveable in an axial direction relative thereto, and moveable in a rotational direction relative thereo, alignment members associated with said valve body and said vale stem, respectively arranged to allow axial movement between said valve body and said valve stem when said alignment members are in one relative position.

2. The valve apparatus of claim 1 including a second relative position of said alignment members to prevent axial movement between said valve body and said valve stem.

3. The valve apparatus of claim 1 wherein said alignment members comprise a post member and a cutout, said cutout being configured to fit said post member therewithin.

4. The valve apparatus of claim 3, wherein said axial movement is allowed to occur when said post member is positioned within said cutout.

5. The valve apparatus of claim 2, wherein said alignment members comprise a post member and a cutout, said cutout being configured to fit said post member therewithin.

6. The valve apparatus of claim 5, wherein said axial movement is prevented when said post member is not positioned within said cutout.

7. The valve apparatus of claim 3 including a stop member associated with said valve body and said valve stem, said stop member limiting the amount of relative rotational movement between said valve body and said valve stem.

8. The valve apparatus of claim 5 including a stop member associated with said valve body and said valve stem, said stop member limiting the amount of relative rotational movement between said valve body and said valve stem.

9. Valve apparatus adapted to be fitted to an aerosol spray can, comprising a valve body, a valve stem positioned within said valve body, moveable in an axial direction relative thereto, and moveable in a rotational direction relative thereto, alignment members associated with said valve body and said valve stem, and respectively arranged to allow axial movement between said valve body and said valve stem when said alignment members are in one relative rotational position, and to prevent axial movement between said valve body and said valve stem when said alignment members are in a second relative rotational position.

10. The valve apparatus of claim 9, wherein said alignment members comprise a post member and a cutout, said cutout being configured to fit said post member therewithin.

11. The valve apparatus of claim 10, including a stop member associated with said valve body and said valve stem, said stop member limiting the amount of relative rotational movement between said valve body and said valve stem.

12. The valve apparatus of claim 11, wherein said stop member is located adjacent to said cutout, said post member being axially aligned with said cutout only when said post member is positioned against one side of said stop member.

13. The valve apparatus of claim 11, including a plurality of post members, a plurality of cutouts and a plurality of stop members.

14. The valve apparatus of claim 11, wherein said alignment members comprise at least one post member and at least one cutout, said at least one cutout being configured to fit said at least one post member therewithin, and said stop member comprises at least one stop member.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/170,202, filed Dec. 10, 1999.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates in general to the field of aerosol spray cans activated by pressing downward on a spray head which opens a valve and releases the aerosol can contents during the time that the spray head is depressed, and in particular to safety spray can apparatus that prevent accidental release of the can contents and provides for spraying in one direction.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] In today's marketplace, the requirement for safe products has acquired a permanent place. The reason is twofold: to prevent injury to the user and to minimize economic loss sustained as a result of an injury. In the prior art, there exists a type of safety apparatus, which allows a user to determine if the product has been tampered with. These usually comprise a plastic wrap, which must first be removed before the product can be opened. There is another type of safety apparatus, which makes it difficult to open the product. This type of safety apparatus is termed as “child resistant,” the intent being to make the container difficult, if not impossible, for a child to open the product, yet allow an adult to open the product with relative ease. Many prescription drug containers are provided with this type of safety apparatus, so too are containers for nonprescription products which are dangerous to children. The present invention is concerned with this latter type of safety apparatus by providing safer aerosol containers so as to reduce the risk of accidental injuries to both children and adults.

[0006] The convenience and economics of aerosol spray cans has led to very widespread use of this type of container to dispense a large variety of products. Oven cleaners, paints, air fresheners, insecticides, degreasers, and other types of household and industrial cleaners are but a few examples of such products which, if accidentally dispensed by a child or an adult in the wrong direction, can cause serious injuries, some of which are even life threatening. There was a brief period of time when the propellant within a spray can caused damage to the environment which led to the use of pump spray containers, that is, spray containers which did not rely upon the use of a propellant to dispense the product. However, recent advancements in technology have produced a type of propellant, which will not damage the environment. This advancement has resulted in a resurgence of the use of aerosol spray cans. Manufacturers and consumers alike simply prefer the convenience of aerosol spray cans. Unfortunately, the resurgence in the use of aerosol spray cans has again resulted in the possibility of accidental injuries due to inadvertent spraying in the wrong direction.

[0007] Spray cans are actuated by simply pressing down on a member known as a spray head. The spray head includes an orifice, which provides the desired type of spray consistent with the type of product being sprayed. Pressing down on the spray head opens or unseats a valve, which allows the propellant and the product to flow through the spray head and out of the orifice. Since the can is pressurized, the product is sprayed with considerable force. It is, therefore, readily understood that a child can unknowingly cause the product to be sprayed directly into his or her face. Such accidental spraying can seriously injure a child, given the highly hazardous chemical contents of some spray cans. In order to help prevent such an occurrence, manufacturers have provided some spray cans with an overcap, which prevents immediate access to the spray head. By making the overcap difficult to be removed, it was hoped that injuries to children and adults would be prevented. While this prior art solution has some merit, it is not without problems. The overcap is an inconvenience to adults who sometimes throw the overcap away after the can is initially used. Then too, there are times when the overcap is lost or misplaced, which also defeats the safety aspect. In either event, any child or adult safety effectiveness is eliminated. Thus, this type of safety overcap, even those which require a pry bar, such as a screw driver, to pop off the cap in order to gain access to the spray head, are cumbersome and not particularly effective.

[0008] As noted above, adults are also susceptible to serious injuries from aerosol spray cans. The prior art aerosol spray cans allow spraying of the product in any direction, even directly into the face of the user. In order to lessen this type of accidental spraying, an adult user must make a conscious effort to determine the location of the spray orifice and then direct the spray orifice in the direction to be sprayed. It is readily envisioned that an older person or a distracted person, or a not-too-careful person can inadvertently cause the spray to be directed at the person instead of away from the person. Other than the cumbersome prior art overcaps, the inventor herein is not aware of any other type of safety apparatus which is presently being used with aerosol spray cans.

[0009] Accordingly, a primary object of the present invention is to provide safety apparatus for use with an aerosol spray can which aids in preventing accidental spraying by a child or an adult and does not consist of a one-time-use safety apparatus.

[0010] Another object of the present invention is to provide safety apparatus for use with an aerosol spray can which is simple to be used by an adult but not by a child.

[0011] Another object of the present invention is to provide safety apparatus for use with an aerosol spray can which is simple and inexpensive to manufacture.

[0012] Another object of the present invention is to provide safety apparatus for use with an aerosol spray can which retains its effectiveness for the life of the product being sprayed.

[0013] Another object of the present invention is to provide an aerosol spray can which helps in avoiding injuries to a person during use of the spray can.

[0014] The above-stated objects, as well as other objects which, although not specifically stated, but are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention, are accomplished by the present invention and will become apparent form the hereinafter set forth Detailed Description of the Invention, Drawings, and the claims appended herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The above objects, as well as others, are accomplished by the present invention, which comprises unidirectional spray valve apparatus, which is adapted to be used with an aerosol spray can. In one embodiment, the valve body is provided with a protruding post located within the hollow portion of the valve body. The mating stem is provided with one or more splines configured to fit the post therewithin. When the post is positioned within one of the splines, a flow path is created from the opening in the valve body through the opening in the stem. At all other positions of the stem relative to the valve body, no flow path is created. In another embodiment, the post is provided on the valve stem while the cutout for the post is positioned within the valve body. Again, only one relative position of the stem and the valve body creates a flow path, which opens the valve and allows spraying to occur.

[0016] A further embodiment of the inventive apparatus is a feature, which provides a stop to open the valve to allow spraying and to close the valve to prevent spraying. Thus, to allow spraying, the stem is rotated in a first direction until the stop is encountered; to prevent spraying, the stem is rotated in a reverse direction until the stop is again encountered.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a vertical cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the inventive valve.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a horizontal cross-sectional view of the valve of FIG. 1, taken along the line 2-2 thereof.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a horizontal cross-sectional view of the alternative valve of FIG. 1 taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the body of the valve of FIG. 1.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the valve body of FIG. 4.

[0022] FIG. 6 is a vertical plan view of the valve stem of FIG. 1.

[0023] FIG. 7 is a cross section of the valve stem of FIG. 6 taken along the line 7-7 thereof.

[0024] FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the alternative valve stem of FIG. 6.

[0025] FIG. 9 is a vertical cross section of another embodiment of the present inventive valve.

[0026] FIG. 10 is a cross section taken along the line 10-10 of FIG. 9.

[0027] FIG. 11 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the body of the valve of FIG. 9.

[0028] FIG. 12

[0029] FIG. 13 is a vertical cross section of the valve stem of FIG. 9.

[0030] FIG. 14 is a horizontal cross sectional view of the valve stem of FIG. 13 taken along the line 14-14 thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0031] As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.

[0032] Reference is now made to the drawings, wherein like characteristics and features of the present invention shown in the various figures are designated by the same reference numerals.

[0033] In the prior art, a spray valve is mounted to a prior art aerosol spray can. Typically, the spray can body is a cylindrical member to which is attached a can cover. A mounting cup is attached to the can cover. The spray valve is sealingly fitted to the mounting cup and attached thereto by crimping the base portion of the pedestal of the mounting cap around the valve body. A seal is provided between the upper surface of the valve body and a flanged-over portion of the pedestal. A spring biases the position of the valve stem up against the seal and the flanged-over portion of the pedestal.

[0034] Still referring to the prior art spray can, and now in particular to the details of the prior art valve body, a channel provides a flow path from the interior of the can to the interior of the valve body. A seal seat is provided at the top of the valve body. The upper end of the valve body is configured to be larger than the lower end of the valve body. The enlarged portion provides a configuration which locks the valve body within the pedestal 18 when the above noted crimping shown is made. A depending portion of the valve body includes an end which allows the attachment of a tube that extends down into the spray can, such that the can contents can be sprayed when an actuator attached to the top of the spray valve is depressed.

[0035] A typical prior art stem includes a top portion of which extends out of the pedestal when the stem is fitted to the valve body . The bottom portion of the valve stem includes a spring seating surface for the biasing spring. An annular cutout is provided between the top and bottom portions of the valve stem. One or more transverse holes provide a flow path from the exterior of the annular cutout to the channel within the valve stem This flow path through the valve stem is normally closed when the stem is biased against the flanged-over portion of the pedestal . Upon pushing down on the actuator attached to the valve stem, a flow path is created from the interior of the valve body, through the transverse holes, through the channel in the valve stem, and spraying occurs.

[0036] In accordance with the above, it is readily seen that in the prior art, spraying can occur regardless of the rotational positions of the valve stem relative to the valve body. The present invention prevents such indiscriminate spraying.

[0037] FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the inventive child-safe spray valve 110 which is configured to be fitted to the spray can body, can cover, mounting cup and the mounting cup pedestal of the prior art. Moreover, the assembly of the inventive valve 110 to the mounting cup is exactly the same as in the prior art, that is, by crimping the pedestal around the upper portion 125 of the valve body 114.

[0038] FIGS. 2 and 3 show the relative positions of post 130 and the cutout 131 which allow for spraying when aligned, and a stop member 134 which provides for aligning the post 130 and the cutout 131. Further details of this arrangement are discussed below.

[0039] FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the valve body 114 of the inventive spray valve 110 of the embodiment of FIG. 1. A post member 130 is provided within the hollow portion 122 of the valve body 114. The post 130 may be free standing or attached to the inner circumference of the hollow portion 122. The cross-sectional configuration of post member 130 is immaterial to the scope of the invention. Additionally, one or more post members may be used. For example, a second post 130A is shown in phantom in FIGS. 4 and 5, which additional post 130A is located approximately 180 degrees from post 130.

[0040] FIGS. 6, 7, and 8 illustrate the alternative embodiment of valve stem 115 of the inventive valve 110 which is to be used with the valve body embodiment of FIG. 4 having two posts, 130 and 130A. The bottom portion 127 of the stem 115 is provided with two depressions or cutout portions, 131 and 131A which are configured to fit therewithin the posts, 130 and 103A of the valve body 114.

[0041] In the single post 130 and single cutout 131 embodiment, when the post 130 is not axially aligned with the cutout 131, the valve stem cannot be pushed down. The post 130 interferes with the bottom surface 132 of the valve stem 115 preventing depressing of the stem 115. Hence, when the valve stem 131 is in any rotational position relative to the valve body 114 where the post 130 and the cutout 131 are not aligned, spraying cannot occur. This non-spraying condition occurs because the transverse flow channel 133 is blocked by seal 116.

[0042] A stop arrangement is provided whereby the stem 131 is prevented from turning a full 360° in either direction when the valve is in the non-spraying mode of operation. The stop arrangement comprises a protruding member 134 which can for example be located adjacent to the cutout 131, and depends from surface 128 to below the upper end 135 of post 130. When the stem 115 is turned in one direction to one side of stop 134, the post 130 and cutout 131 are aligned to allow depression of the valve stem 115; when the stem 115 is rotated in any amount in the other direction, the post 130 and valve stem 115are not aligned and the valve stem 115 cannot be depressed due to the interference between the top surface 135 of post 130 and the lower surface 128 of the valve stem 115, and spraying cannot occur. The open position of the inventive valve 110 is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, wherein FIG. 2 illustrates the use of one post 130, one cutout 131, and one stop 134, and wherein FIG. 3 illustrates the use two posts 130, 130A, two cutouts 131, 131A and two stops 134, 134A. As can be readily seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, rotation of the stem 115, in substantially any amount away from stop 134, causes interference between surfaces 135 and 128 which thereby prevents depression of valve stem 115.

[0043] FIGS. 9 and 10 depict, in cross section, another embodiment of the inventive valve 210 without the biasing spring (for purposes of clarity). FIGS. 10 and 11 show the valve body 214, while FIGS. 11 and 12 show the valve stem 215. FIGS. 13 and 14 show the valve stem 215. In FIGS. 11 and 12, it is seen that two cutouts 231 are rovided within the valve body 214. In FIGS. 13 and 14, it is seen that one post 230 is provided on the valve stem 215. In order to depress the valve stem 215, the post 230 must be axially aligned with either of the cutouts 231. In all other relative positions of the stem 215 and the valve body 214, spraying cannot occur.

[0044] A stop arrangement is also provided in the embodiment of FIGS. 914. The protruding member 234 is located on the valve body 214 which protruding member 214 extends above the lower end 233 of the post 230 as shown in FIG. 9 when the biasing spring maintains the valve stem 215 up against the flanged over portion of the pedestal. The stop member 234 further being configured to be located radially between the cutouts 231. In this embodiment, rotation of the valve stem 235 to either side of stop 234 allows depression of the valve stem 235 in that the post 230 is aligned with one of the cutouts 231, and accordingly, the valve opens which initiates spraying. In all other positions of the valve stem 215 relative to the valve body 214, the bottom end 233 of post 230 interferes with the transverse surface 235 in valve body 214 which prevents the valve stem 215 from being depressed and spraying cannot occur.

[0045] In all embodiments of the present invention, apparatus is provided to connect a spray head to the valve stem such that rotation of the spray head causes rotation of the valve stem. A flat surface 236 across the upper end of valve stem 215 comprises one means to accomplish the combined rotation of the valve stem 215 and the spray head.

[0046] While the invention has been described, disclosed, illustrated and shown in certain terms or certain embodiments or modifications which it has assumed in practice, the scope of the invention is not intended to be nor should it be deemed to be limited thereby and such other modifications or embodiments as may be suggested by the teachings herein are particularly reserved especially as they fall within the breadth and scope of the claims here appended.