Title:
Device and method for stabilzing laboratory ware
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for stabilizing laboratory ware includes a container body having a refillable interior space defined by a top wall, a bottom wall, an outer wall and an inner wall. The inner wall defines a centrally disposed passageway and has an exterior surface having a size and geometry for resting upon an outer surface of the laboratory ware. The outer wall includes at least one releasably sealable port arrangement for facilitating the introduction of a filler material therein.



Inventors:
Landsberger, David (Caldwell, NJ, US)
Application Number:
09/938440
Publication Date:
02/27/2003
Filing Date:
08/24/2001
Assignee:
Bel-Art Products, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B01L9/00; B65D8/06; B01L3/08; B01L7/02; (IPC1-7): B65D6/28; B65D8/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lawrence G. Fridman, Esq. (Clifton, NJ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A device for stabilizing laboratory ware, comprising: a container body having at least one interior space defined by a top wall, a bottom wall, an outer wall and an inner wall, the inner wall defining a centrally disposed passageway having an exterior surface sized and shaped for resting against an outer surface of said laboratory ware, and at least one container body opening extending into said at least one interior space; and sealing means for releasably sealing said at least one container body opening, wherein said at least one container body opening is sized and positioned for facilitating introduction of a filler material into said at least one interior space, so as to adjust the weight of the device.

2. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the exterior surface of said inner wall completely surrounds said lab ware during use.

3. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein said at least one container body opening further comprises a resealable port.

4. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 3, wherein said sealing means further comprising a threaded cap for twistingly engaging a threaded port.

5. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the exterior surface of said inner wall is adapted to rest on upon an outer surface of said laboratory ware in either an upright or upside-down container body orientation.

6. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 5, wherein the exterior surface of said inner wall further comprises a pair of inwardly tapering surfaces meeting at an interior edge.

7. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 6, wherein the exterior surface of said inner wall is substantially symmetrical about a horizontal plane intersecting said interior edge.

8. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the outer wall of said container body defines a generally rectangular perimeter.

9. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the outer wall of said container body defines a generally circular perimeter.

10. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein said container body has a frustro-conical geometry.

11. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the inner wall of said container defines a generally circular passageway.

12. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein the outer wall of said container body has an inward taper in the direction from said bottom side to said top side.

13. A stabilizing device as recited in claim 1, wherein said at least one container body opening extends through the outer wall of said container body.

14. Stabilizing apparatus for maintaining laboratory ware at a desired depth in a liquid bath, comprising: a container body having at least one interior space defined by a top wall, a bottom wall, an outer wall and an inner wall, the inner wall defining a centrally disposed passageway having an exterior surface sized and shaped for resting against an outer surface of said laboratory ware, and at least one container body opening extending into said at least one interior space; sealing means for releasably sealing said at least one container body opening; and a volume of fill material for at least partially filling said interior space through said at least one container body opening.

15. A stabilizing apparatus as recited in claim 14, wherein the type and volume of said filler material is adjustable to facilitate the partial submersion of said container body in said liquid bath, such that position of the lab ware relative to the bottom surface of said bath can be adjusted.

16. A stabilizing apparatus as recited in claim 14, wherein said filler material further comprises a solid material.

17. A stabilizing apparatus as recited in claim 14, wherein said filler material further comprises a liquid.

18. A method for stabilizing laboratory ware using a stabilizing container having an interior space, a releasably sealable port arrangement extending into the interior space, and a centrally disposed passageway extending substantially vertically therethrough, the passageway defined by an exterior surface of an inner wall, the method comprising the steps of: adjusting weight of the container by at least partially filling the interior space of said container through said releasably sealable port with a volume of a filler material; sealing said releasably sealable container port; and positioning said container body over said laboratory ware such that an upper portion of the laboratory ware extends through said centrally disposed passageway and at least a portion of the exterior surface of said inner wall rests against an outer surface portion of said laboratory ware.

19. A method for stabilizing laboratory ware as recited in claim 18, further comprising the step of positioning the laboratory ware in a liquid bath.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to stabilizing devices, and more particularly to a device and method for maintaining the stability of chemical laboratory ware.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Laboratory ware, such as flasks, graduated cylinders and the like, are designed to hold liquid or solid substances during heating, cooling and other operations. The instability of the laboratory ware in the upright position causing breaking thereof and spilling of its contents is well known.

[0005] It is often desirable to place certain lab ware, and particularly flasks, for the purposes of heating or cooling in a liquid or water bath. While situated in a liquid bath, flasks are unstable and susceptible to tipping due to liquid circulation, or other turbulent movement. Still further, such instability can be the result of liquid buoyancy forces acting on the flask. The instability introduces an inherent risk of breaking and content spillage from the open mouth of the flask and/or contamination of the flask contents. This instability, and the associated risks, can be exacerbated when a flask is placed in a relatively large or deep liquid bath.

[0006] Conventionally, flasks and the like have been stabilized by constructing a framework and using a clamping apparatus, wherein the clamping apparatus is fastened to the framework and has a clamping member engaging the neck of the flask. The laboratory clamp disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 1,895,156 is exemplary of such clamping frameworks. For various reasons, including the cumbersome nature of the framework structure and the amount of space taken up by the framework, this is generally considered an undesirable approach.

[0007] Smaller and less cumbersome devices have been developed. U.S. Pat. No. 4,015,940 discloses a helical spring joined at its ends to form a torus-shaped body with several turns loosely affixed to a dense plastic base. The device is particularly designed for supporting laboratory containers, bottles and the like, on a table or counter top surface. U.S. Pat. No. 5,000,331 discloses a stabilizing weight comprising a length of lead or other heavy flexible material coated with a cushioning material and bent around the base of the bottle being supported. Again, this device is designed only for table or counter top use. Significantly, the structure and geometry of the aforementioned prior art devices do not lend themselves to the support of lab ware in a liquid bath. Furthermore, their respective structures and geometries preclude such use. For instance, neither prior art device is adapted for securely engaging the outer surface of a laboratory flask in such a manner that the flask is weighed down for adequate stabilization in a liquid bath.

[0008] Other weighted devices have been developed for engaging the outer surface of a particular lab ware in a manner enabling stabilization thereof, including stabilization in a liquid bath. U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,969,080 and 4,398,643 are exemplary of such devices. The '080 patent discloses a solid heavy split torus that can be slipped over the neck of a flask for stabilizing the flask. This device is made of a solid heavy material such as lead, copper, and the like, and includes a split enabling the device to slide over a flask arm and/or to be adjusted to fit over different diameter containers. The '643 patent discloses a weight comprising a lead disk including a central hole sized to slip over the neck of a lab ware and having a plurality of pliable cushioned fingers for resting against a lower base or bulb portion of the lab ware.

[0009] However, these exemplary devices also have associated drawbacks and limitations. Significantly, the prior art devices are formed so as to have a predetermined, fixed weight. In some scientific applications, it is desirable to use the same stabilizing device to place a flask or other laboratory container at a particular depth within a liquid bath, such that the bottom of the stabilized lab ware remains at a distance above the floor of the liquid bath container; and also to use the same stabilizing device to position the flask at the bottom of the liquid bath. This requires convenient adjustment of the weight of the stabilizing device. Unfortunately, the prior art fixed-weight devices are only useful for stabilizing the lab ware having predetermined weight in certain positions within the bath. If either the weight or position has to be adjusted, another stabilizing device is required. Another drawback of the fixed-weighted construction of the prior art devices is that they require relatively high cost packaging and result in increased shipping costs.

[0010] Accordingly, there is an established need for a laboratory ware stabilization device overcoming the aforementioned drawbacks and limitations of the prior art. In particular, it would be desirable to provide a stabilizing device having a lightweight body adapted for being filled with a material to a desired weight using a fill material provided by an end user, so that the weight of the stabilizing device can be easily adjusted.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The invention is directed to a laboratory ware stabilization device configured to maintain laboratory ware in a substantially upright position. For example, it can be adapted for maintaining laboratory ware at a predetermined depth in a liquid bath, during a heating or cooling operation, in a manner preventing spillage and/or contamination of its contents.

[0012] One aspect of the present invention provides a laboratory ware stabilization device configured to maintain the laboratory ware in general at a substantially upright position and specifically at a desired depth within a liquid bath.

[0013] A further aspect of the present invention provides a laboratory ware stabilization device having weight adjustment means for enabling an end user to quickly and easily adjust the required weight of the device. In this manner, an end user can easily adjust the degree to which the stabilized lab ware is submersed within a liquid bath.

[0014] Still a further aspect of the present invention provides a laboratory ware stabilization device having a relatively lightweight construction adapted for use as independent weighted component supplied to an end user, thereby enabling reduced-cost transportation to the end user.

[0015] Yet another aspect of the present invention provides a laboratory ware stabilization device incorporating a hollow shell component usable with a weighted filler material, thereby enabling an end user to selectively fill the device for use with a wide variety of available filler materials.

[0016] These and other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent from the attached drawings and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments, which follow.

[0017] The invention provides, a stabilizing device including a main container body having an interior space defined by a top wall, a bottom wall, an outer wall and an inner wall, wherein the inner wall defines a centrally disposed passageway having an exterior surface sized and shaped for resting against an outer surface of said laboratory ware. At least one container body port arrangement provides access to the interior space for introduction of a predetermined volume of a user-selected filler material therein. A sealing means is provided for sealing engagement with the port.

[0018] In one embodiment of the invention, the container body is formed having a generally rectangular or cylindrical outer wall.

[0019] In another embodiment of the invention, the container can be formed having a frustro-conical geometry further improving stability through lowering position of its center of gravity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] The preferred embodiments of the invention will hereinafter be described in conjunction with the appended drawings provided to illustrate and not to limit the invention, where like designations denote like elements, and in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 is an elevated perspective view of a laboratory ware stabilization device in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2;

[0023] FIG. 3 is an elevated perspective view of a laboratory ware stabilization device in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 4 is an elevated perspective view of a laboratory ware stabilization device in accordance with another alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the device illustrated in FIG. 4 taken along line 5-5; and

[0026] FIG. 6 is a front view, shown in partial cross-section, illustrating application of the device of the present invention for stabilizing laboratory ware at varying depths in a liquid bath.

[0027] Like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] Shown throughout the figures, the present invention is generally directed towards a stabilizing device configured to maintain laboratory ware, such as flasks, beakers, graduated cylinders, and the like in a substantially upright, stable position. This is especially important in a liquid bath. Moreover, the present invention is also directed towards maintaining such lab ware while the laboratory ware is at least partially submerged at a desired depth in the liquid bath for controlled heating or cooling of its contents.

[0029] Referring now primarily to FIGS. 1-2, the laboratory ware stabilizing device, shown generally as reference numeral 100, is illustrated in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention. The device includes a substantially rectangular, and preferably square, hollow container body, or shell, shown generally as reference numeral 110, adapted for being seated against an outer surface the lab ware 200 to be stabilized. The container body 110 has an interior space 122 defined by top wall 112, bottom wall 114, side wall 116. Opening passes through a central region of the container body having inner walls 118 and 120. Preferably, the container body is constructed from a plastic formed into the desired geometry using any of a number of well-known molding process, such as blow molding.

[0030] Inner walls 118 and 120 taper inwardly toward a center of the body and terminate at a common interior edge 119. The inner walls 118, 120 define a centrally-disposed container opening adapted for having an upper end of the lab ware 200 received therethrough, such that lower interior wall 120 frictionally engages, or rests, against an outer surface of the lab ware 200. More particularly, as best illustrated in FIG. 2, lower interior wall 120 is preferably contoured and/or angled for resting substantially flush against the outer surface of the lab ware being stabilized. Preferably, the inner wall 120 contacts a relatively large area of the lab ware for improved stability vis-a-vis prior art devices. Significantly, the inner walls 118, 120 are symmetric about edge 119, enabling the device to be used in either an upright or upside-down orientation. In the latter case the inner wall 118 engages the outer wall of the lab ware in a manner similar to that discussed hereinabove. With the device fully seated, the bottom of the lab ware 200 extends a distance below the bottom side 114 of the container 110.

[0031] At least one sealable port arrangement 130 provides access to the interior space 122 of the container body 110 for introducing a filler material 500 therein. Preferably, the port arrangement 130 is provided having integral threading for cooperating with a corresponding threaded twist-on cap member 132. However, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art, various alternative sealing arrangements are possible without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the port arrangement 130 could comprise a detachable lid arrangement, a hinged flip-door arrangement, and an aperture sized and shaped for being plugged with a conventional tapered stopper, to name just a few. Regardless of the sealing arrangement employed, it is critical that the interior space is adequately sealed to assure proper containment of the filler material and to prevent seepage of liquid from the bath into the interior space 122 during use. Furthermore, the sealing arrangement should be adapted for quick and easy attachment and removal. Multiple sealable ports 130 can be provided as desired. For instance, multiple ports can be provided arranged symmetrically about a central vertical axis where it is contemplated that the weight and/or positioning of a single port might disturb the symmetric weight distribution of the filler material 500 within the container body 110.

[0032] The stabilizing device of the invention which includes among other elements the hollow shell, filler material and resealable port provides significant advantages over other known stabilizing devices. First, it enables shipment of the relatively lightweight container 110 in an unfilled state, thereby substantially reducing weight of the shipped item and providing for reduced transportation costs to an end user. Second, it enables an end user to utilize the filler material in the form of precisely controlled volume of virtually any available solid or liquid filler material, including, sand, lead particles, and silica beads, to name just a few. Third, by controlling the type and volume of filler material introduced through the port arrangement, the end user can control the weight of the stabilizing device, and if necessary can control corresponding depth of submersion of the container 110 and the engaged lab ware 200.

[0033] As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the lab ware stabilizing device of the present invention can incorporate myriad different container shapes and sizes, without departing from the scope of the invention. Referring now to FIG. 3, in one alternate embodiment of the present invention, the device, shown generally as reference numeral 300, comprises a generally cylindrical container body 310 defined by top wall 312, bottom wall 314, substantially cylindrical outer wall 316 and inner walls 318 and 320. At least one sealable port arrangement 330, 332 is provided for introduction of filler material therein.

[0034] Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, in another alternate embodiment of the present invention, the device 400, incorporates a container body, shown generally as reference numeral 410, having a frustro-conical geometry. The container has an interior space 422 defined by top wall 412, bottom wall 414, outer wall 416 and inner walls 418 and 420. At least one sealable port arrangement 430, 432 is provided for introduction of filler material therein. A significant benefit of the frustroconical geometry is that it further improves stability of the stabilizing device 400, primarily due to its lower center of gravity.

[0035] As mentioned hereinabove the ability to incorporate varying types and volumes of filler material enables an end user to precisely control the depth or degree to which the stabilized lab ware is submerged in a liquid bath. For example, referring specifically to FIG. 6, a partially submerged position may be necessary when the size of the laboratory container 200 is substantially smaller than the size of the liquid bath 600, such that placement against the floor 604 of the liquid bath would lead to undesirable complete submergence of the lab ware mouth. Furthermore, the partially submerged position may be desirable when the lab ware is only partially filled.

[0036] Referring now to FIG. 6, three identical flasks 200A, 200B and 200C, are illustrated to be stabilized by the device of the present invention at varying degrees of submersion in a liquid bath 600, in order to exemplify the principals of the invention. Through control of the volume of filler material 500 introduced into the containers 110, the flasks are maintained at various depths. More specifically, as the volume of filler is decreased from flask 200A to 200C, the depth at which the respective flasks are submerged in liquid 602 is correspondingly decreased. Thus, the distance between the bottom of the flasks 202A, 202B and 202C and the floor 604 is increased respectively. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the depth of submersion can be further controlled by introducing filler materials having different densities. More specifically, a relatively high density fill material can be used where greater submersion is desired.

[0037] Since many modifications, variations, and changes in detail can be made to the described preferred embodiments of the invention, it is intended that all matters in the foregoing description and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalence.