Title:
Container with interference projection
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A closure and container combination having an anti-splash up element is provided. The container includes an annular projection about the neck of the container at a point below the closure-engagements and within the closure skirt, when the closure is engaged. The placement of the annular projection stops the splashing up of liquid and solid adulterating materials from reaching the mouth of the container and either the liner on the mouth of the container or the actual product within the container. The annular projection of the present invention protects the product from splash up occurring after container capping, during hot fill cooling and washing, during transportation and storage and while in use by the consumer.



Inventors:
Ekkert, Len (Lemont, IL, US)
Application Number:
09/800256
Publication Date:
09/12/2002
Filing Date:
03/06/2001
Assignee:
EKKERT LEN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/329, 220/288, 215/45
International Classes:
B65D1/02; (IPC1-7): B65D41/04
View Patent Images:
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20010006164Flasks, in particular retractable feeding bottlesJuly, 2001De Begon
20050113746System for orally administering active substances, vitamins and/or foodstuffsMay, 2005Sedaghat Kerdar
20090218306Laboratory Culture Flask With Snap-On CapSeptember, 2009Menchel et al.
20090301989Easy open lever capDecember, 2009Foster et al.



Primary Examiner:
NEWHOUSE, NATHAN JEFFREY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A container and closure combination for preventing adulterating materials from contaminating said container within said closure, comprising: a container, with a neck portion, having an opening; a closure having a top and an annular skirt depending from said top, said annular skirt defining an inner wall; said neck portion, having at least one closure engagement for cooperation with one or more complimentary container engagements of said closure; an annular projection extending outwardly from said neck portion below said closure engagement of said neck portion, said projection extending proximate to said inner wall of said annular skirt when said closure is engaged on said container, such that adulterating material is prevented from contaminating said container neck portion and said opening.

2. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said projection prevents adulterating material from rising onto said container neck portion and to said opening.

3. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said opening of said container is sealed with a liner and said annular projection prevents contamination of said liner.

4. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said projection is an annular flexible thin web fin.

5. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein when said closure is engaged on said container said projection extends to said inner wall of said annular skirt.

6. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said annular projection has a greater diameter that the diameter of said inner wall such that said annular projection is bent by said inner wall of said closure when said closure is engaged on said container, forming a seal between said container and closure.

7. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said container and projection are molded from the same material

8. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said container engagements and said closure engagements are complimentary threads formed on said closure and neck

9. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said annular projection extends from said neck portion of said container to proximate to said inner wall of said closure, when said container and closure are engaged, and said annular projection defines at least one gap extending between said container neck portion and proximate said inner wall of said closure along said annular projection such that adulterating materials may rise said neck portion, but generally not onto said opening, and subsequently may fall back down through said gap.

10. The container and closure combination of claim 9, wherein said gap allows air circulation on said neck portion within said closure.

11. The container and closure combination of claim 1, wherein said annular projection extends from said neck portion of said container to proximate to said inner wall of said closure, when said container and closure are engaged, and said annular projection defines a plurality of gaps extending between said container neck portion and proximate said inner wall of said closure along said annular projection such that adulterating materials may rise onto said neck portion, but generally not onto said opening, and subsequently may fall back down through said gaps.

12. The container and closure combination of claim 11, wherein said gaps allows air circulation on said neck portion within said closure.

13. A container and closure combination for preventing adulterating materials from contaminating said container within said closure, comprising: a container with a neck portion having an opening; a closure having a top and an annular skirt depending from said top, said annular skirt defining an inner wall; said neck portion and closure each defining complimentary engagement threads; an annular flexible thin web fin extending outwardly from said neck portion below said closure engagement threads of said neck portion, said flexible thin web fin being in engagement with said inner wall of said annular skirt, when said closure is engaged on said container, such that adulterating material is prevented from contaminating said neck portion and said opening.

14. The container and closure combination of claim 13, wherein said annular flexible thin web has a greater diameter than the diameter of said inner wall such that said annular flexible thin web is bent by said inner wall of said closure when said closure is engaged on said container, forming a seal between said container and closure.

15. The container and closure combination of claim 13, wherein said thin web fin prevents adulterating material from rising onto said container neck portion and to said opening.

16. The container and closure combination of claim 13, wherein said opening of said container is sealed with a liner and said thin web fin prevents contamination of said liner.

17. The container and closure combination of claim 13, wherein said container is produced by injection molding and said annular thin web fin is molded integrally with said container.

18. A container and closure combination for preventing adulterating materials from contaminating said container within said closure, comprising: a container, with a neck portion, having an opening; a closure having a top and an annular skirt depending from said top, said annular skirt defining an inner wall and an outer wall and an inwardly projecting annular section on said inner wall of said annular skirt; said neck portion, having at least one closure engagement for cooperation with one or more complimentary container engagements of said closure; an annular projection, extending outwardly from said neck portion below said closure engagement of said neck portion, to engage said inwardly projecting annular section of said skirt, when said closure is engaged with said container.

19. The container and closure combination of claim 18, wherein said outward annular projection is constructed of pliant material so as to aid in the placement and subsequent removal of said closure from said container.

20. The container and closure combination of claim 18, wherein said outward annular projection is constructed with a thin cross-section of material so as to aid in the placement and subsequent removal of said closure from said container.

21. The container and closure combination of claim 18, wherein said outward annular projection is constructed between two generally parallel inward annular projections, on said neck portion, such that said outward annular projection bends upon the placement and subsequent removal of said closure from said container.

22. The container and closure combination of claim 18, wherein a flexible second outward projection extends from said outward annular projection so as to aid in the placement and subsequent removal of said closure from said container.

23. A container and closure combination for preventing adulterating materials from rising onto said container within said closure, comprising: a container, with a neck portion, having an opening; a closure having a top and an annular skirt depending from said top, said annular skirt defining an inner wall and a terminal end, said terminal end defining an inwardly projecting annular lip; said neck portion, having at least one closure engagement for cooperation with one or more complimentary container engagements of said closure; an annular projection extending outwardly from said neck portion below said closure engagement of said neck portion and extending to said inner wall above said annular lip of said skirt, when said closure is engaged with said container.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention concerns a novel container having an interference projection to prevent water, dust or other adulterating material from reaching the mouth area of the container. Specifically, the present invention provides a means to prevent cooling water or condensation, typically resulting from a hot fill process, from being splashed beneath a bottle cap.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Many products, such as pasteurized milk and fruit juices and others, are placed into bottles using a sanitary hot fill process which requires that the bottles be sealed, capped and cooled before being boxed and packaged for transportation. The hot fill process in most bottling situations brings certain problems that are inherent in this method of filling and cooling. Generally, while the process is sanitary, the subsequent activities of cooling and packaging may bring about a situation wherein such bottles carry water beneath their caps. This water is generally a potential breeding ground for bacteria which may grow thereon, and cause a diminution in product quality. Specifically, the hot fill process includes, the placement of a hot liquid in to a bottle, the immediate sealing and capping of the bottle and the cooling of the bottle by immersion (or dip) in, or spray, by cool water. Such bottles are subsequently dried off and packaged for shipping.

[0003] While the product remains sanitary within the container, it has been found that water used to cool the container, after hot fill, has typically risen beneath the cap and remains on the neck of the bottle. Such water is generally economically impossible to remove, as the drying of that water would require either the removal of the cap (typically causing the breaking of a sanitary or security seal) and physical drying of the bottle, followed by recapping, or the use of high heat drying equipment, which may cause deformation in the bottle and cap or degradation of the bottled product.

[0004] Further, containers of such products, and other products, are subjected to considerable jostling in every stage of their existence. Containers are jostled on the filling and assembly line and during their transportation to distributors and retailers. Even after a container is unsealed and put into everyday use the container is subjected to every manner of assault on its integrity. While a container generally survives jostling, the product inside, and/or the seals or liners used to protect the product are often imparted with considerable splashing or dusting from their surroundings, so as to leave the liner or, when the seal is removed or otherwise impaired, the product adulterated, contaminated or soiled beyond usability.

[0005] Products such as medicine and food or drink that are bottled and capped under sanitary conditions are often times quickly contaminated by the splashing of liquid or powder (often times the same substance that has been placed in the container, but which has spilled during filling or from other containers previously filled, or overfilled). While containers may be wiped clean if such splash up occurs prior to the capping and or the sealing of the container, once the container is capped and/or sealed (with a liner or otherwise), splash up that causes adulterating substances to rise to the neck or mouth of the capped container cannot be cleaned up without great cost in time and lost production. Further, the removal of the cap of a tamper resistant or tamper evident container of the types in common use, so as to clean off splash up, is likely to destroy the tamper evident seal causing the loss of the container and/or the closure.

[0006] Further, capped products may also be contaminated, in this same manner or through contamination by any other substance on or around the container, during transportation, either from the manufacturer to the distributor, or from the distributor to the product's final destination. Closed containers may also be contaminated at anytime during the life of the product and the container. For example, a bottle of milk may be contaminated by the splash up of spilled milk, water, or cleaning products on the assembly line, may be contaminated by the splash up of liquid condensation (which may form on the bottle as a result of temperature changes during transit), or may be dropped into the sink, or onto any splashable substance, while the consumer is attempting to open or after closing the container. In all of these situations, and particularly in those situations where liners have already been removed from the container, the product is likely to be ruined by the splashing of any substance under the cap, onto the neck, and into the mouth of the container. Further, even when a liner exists over the container's mouth, a consumer is apt to be displeased and return the sealed products if he finds that the liner is wet or dirty upon opening the container for the first time. While the liner may have prevented the product inside the container from having been contaminated, the proximity of a contaminant to the neck and mouth of a container may lead, at a later time, to contamination of the product via the consumer's hands or by other means.

[0007] In the past, product manufactures have attempted to solve the problem of splash up by sealing the packaging in external wraps, such as plastic film and the like. However, such protection is generally effective only after the likelihood of splash up during the container filling process on the assembly line has passed and is only useful until the plastic film is removed by the consumer prior to use. Manufacturers have also attempted to alleviate the splash up problem through the use of liner-less closures, which generally provide sealing means comprising thin annular projections extending downwardly from the inside of the closure top to the rim of the mouth of the container in a manner well known in the art. However, such container and closure combinations only seal the mouth of the container and do not protect the neck of the container. Liner-less closures cannot prevent the contamination of the neck of the container and the concomitant problems of product contamination from the soiling of the consumer's hands after contact with an unclean container neck. Further, liner-less closures cannot prevent the migration of the contaminant from the container neck to the container mouth (and subsequently to the product inside the container).

[0008] It would be desirable to have a means whereby any splashed substance, whether at the time of the hot fill and cooling process or at any time after, is inhibited from rising up onto the neck of a closed container. It would further be desirable to provide permanently attached or integral means that would prevent contamination of the neck, mouth and liner of a container that are constructed with the container and/or the closure and are inexpensive to manufacture.

[0009] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a means for preventing adulterating materials from being splashed-up or otherwise propelled-up onto the neck, mouth and liner of a closed container.

[0010] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the description proceeds.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] In accordance with the present invention, a container and closure are provided. The container is provided with a mouth (which may or may not be lined or otherwise sealed) and a neck portion having closure engagements for cooperation with complimentary container engagements on the closure. An annular projection is provided, extending outwardly from the neck portion of the container, below the closure engagements. The outward most edge of the annular projection is proximate to the inner wall of the closure when the closure is engaged on the container. The annular projection in cooperation with the closure prevents fluids, dust particles or other contaminants from splashing up onto the neck, mouth and (if present) liner of the container when the container and closure are engaged and are exposed to splashable substances or are cooled by spray or immersion after hot fill.

[0012] In one embodiment of the invention, the projection is an annular thin web fin comprised of extra material molded onto the container at the time of the molding of the container. The fin is of such a thin cross-section at its outward edge that it is flexible enough to bend against the inside wall of the skirt of the closure to form a seal with the closure when the closure is engaged with the container.

[0013] In another embodiment of the invention, the annular projection is molded between two inward annular projections, which provide flex points for the outward projection. The flex points, thus formed, allow the outward projection to bend so that it may fit within the closure and to allow for more tolerance in molding containers and closures.

[0014] In another embodiment a first annular projection is molded on the neck of a container and a smaller second projection extends from the first projection. The small second projection has a smaller cross-section than the first projection to allow for more flexibility at the end of the projection, enabling an easier fit with a closure. Greater flexibility at the end of the projection allows for greater ease in placement and removal of a closure. Further, a flexible end may be compressed against the inner wall of the closure, providing a better seal against splash up.

[0015] In another embodiment, the annular projection is formed with openings or gaps. While not providing as effective a splash up seal, such a projection would tend to slow splash up such that while the neck could be splashed upon, the mouth or liner would remain clean. Further, such gaps would allow the neck to dry more quickly after liquid splash up due to air circulation through the gaps.

[0016] Many variations of the annular projection explained herein, including variations on its cross-sectional shape, its thickness, the manner in which it is formed onto the container or added to the container, the manner in which it interacts with the closure, and whether it is made with or without gaps, may be made without departing from the novel scope of the present invention.

[0017] A more detailed explanation of the invention is provided in the following description and claims and is illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIG. 1 is a front elevational view, of a container neck having a thin annular fin as taught by the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a front vertical sectional view of a thin annular fin of the present invention in contact with the inner wall of a closure, showing, in broken lines, the position of the end of the fin when a closure is not present.

[0020] FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of a container, having a thin annular fin in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, with a closure, in sectional view secured upon the container.

[0021] FIG. 4 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 5 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, with a fragmentary vertical sectional view of a closure, associated therewith.

[0023] FIG. 6 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, with a fragmentary vertical sectional view of a closure, associated therewith.

[0024] FIG. 7 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 8 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 9 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another embodiment of a container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, with a fragmentary vertical sectional view of a closure, associated therewith.

[0027] FIG. 10 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the neck of another container having an annular projection made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, with a fragmentary vertical sectional view of a closure, associated therewith.

[0028] FIG. 11 is a top view of another container having an annular projection in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENT

[0029] Referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a container 10 having a neck 12 a mouth 16 and an outwardly projecting helical thread 18. Helical thread 18 provides a means to engage a closure 20 (FIG. 3) having inwardly projecting helical threads 22, in a manner well known in the art. In the illustrative embodiments of the present invention, the container and its constituent parts have been produced through a molding process, it is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be used on containers made in any manner without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. Container 10 may be constructed of any material, including, glass, metal or any polymeric or plastic material such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), polystyrene, or others, without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. It is to be further understood that while a single helical thread is shown in FIG. 1, any number and shape of threads, on both the container 10 and closure 20 may be used without departing from the novel scope of the present invention.

[0030] Closure 20 comprises a top 24 with an annular skirt 26 depending therefrom. Closure 20 may be of any type, including liner-less or lined, and may be made of any material, including glass, metal, or any polymeric or plastic material such as polypropylene, polyethylene, PET, polystyrene, or others, without departing from the novel scope of the present invention.

[0031] A thin web annular fin 28 is provided on neck 12 of container 10, below threads 18. In the illustrative embodiment, fin 28 (FIG. 2) has a triangular cross-sectional shape with the fin growing ever thinner and more flexible at its furthest point 30 from the neck 12 of container 10. In the illustrative example, annular fin 28 is constructed of the same material as container 10. However, fin 28 may be made of any type of flexible material, including steel or other metal, ruber, or a polymeric or plastic material, without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. Fin 28 may be molded as an integral part of container 10, when container 10 is molded or fin 28 may be added to container 10 after molding. It is to be understood that fin 28 may be made of any cross-sectional shape without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. The triangular cross-section of fin 28 of the illustrative embodiment allows fin 28 to bend, as shown in FIG. 2, when it is placed against a surface, such as the inner wall 32 of closure 20. The bending of the point 30, of fin 28, against the inner wall 32 of closure 20 provides a desirable sealing between container 10 and closure 20. Further as point 30 of fin 28 extends so that it may bend against closure 20, it may be seen that a seal may be achieved, and adulterating material may be stopped, even in situations where either the closure 20 or the container 10 is out of round. It is to be understood that such a sealing effect while desirable is not necessary to accomplish the goals of the present invention, as explained in greater detail below.

[0032] FIG. 4 shows a fragmentary cross section of another container 40, having a neck 42 a mouth 44 and an outwardly projecting helical thread 46, for engagement with a closure (not shown) in a manner well known in the art. Container 40 further comprises an interior wall 48. An outwardly extending annular projection 50 is shown on the neck 42 of container 40 and is further defined by two inwardly projecting rings 52 and 54. Inward projecting rings 52 and 54 provide flex points to allow projection 50 to bend as the closure is engaged or removed.

[0033] Referring to FIGS. 5, 6, 7 and 8, other embodiments of containers having outward projections which contact the inner wall of a closure, in the manner similar to that explained above, are illustrated. In FIG. 5 and 6 a closure 60 is shown engaged with a container 62. Closure 60 is shown to have threads 64 which are engaged with complementary threads 66 of container 62, to hold closure 60 to container 62. Container 62 comprises an annular projection 68, more clearly shown in FIG. 6, having a somewhat rounded-extended annular projection 70. Extended annular projection 70 extends towards inner closure wall 61, to resist the splash up of adulterating materials, when closure 60 and container 62 are tightly engaged. Extended annular projection 70 may be made of material that is more flexible than the material used for container 62 and projection 68 so as to allow bending and/or sealing properties as described above. Further, extended annular projection 70 may be of the same material as container 62, but may have inherent flexibility due to a smaller cross-section, depending on the shape chosen.

[0034] FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 show other embodiments of this type of closure and container combination. In FIGS. 7 and 8, extended annular projections 70a and 70b have triangular cross-sections, however, projection 70b presents a generally horizontal leading edge 72 in the direction that splash up is likely to occur. It may be seen, from these embodiments, that extended projection 70 may take any cross-sectional shape without diminishing the splash up protecting properties of the annular projection of the present invention or departing from the novel scope of the present invention. It is also to be understood that extended annular projection 70 may also provide added hoop strength to container 62 much in the way a barrel is strengthened by the addition of hoops about its circumference.

[0035] Further, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, splash up protection may also be achieved using any shape projection 87 on container 88 and a lip (or ledge) 89 depending inwardly, from below projection 87, on closure 90, without departing from the novel scope of the present invention.

[0036] Referring to FIG. 11, container 91 is shown with a final illustrated embodiment of annular projection 92. In FIG. 11, projection 92 defines a number of gaps 94. Gaps 94 provide a means through which liquid or solid which has splashed-up onto neck 96 may fall back down off of neck 96. While a container using a projection that defines gaps 94 will not seal the neck 96 and mouth 98 of container 91, it will generally tend to slow splash up such that adulterating materials generally cannot reach mouth 98 of container 91. Further, gaps 94 will allow any moisture, deposited between projection 92 and the mouth of container 91, to evaporate more readily as air is allowed to flow through gaps 94. It is to be understood that the solid elements of projection 92 may be of any of the types previously described without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. Further, projection 92 may define any number of gaps 94 without departing from the novel scope of the present invention. Finally, gaps 94 may be made in the molding process or through other means, such as by cutting away sections of projection 92 or by locally melting sections of the plastic material of projection 92, without departing from the novel scope of the present invention.

[0037] Although illustrative embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood that various modifications and substitutions may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the novel spirit and scope of the invention.





 
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