Title:
Easy opening closure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A closure for receptacles such as bottles which includes a solid cylindrical core. The cylindrical core includes a helically or spirally shaped frangible structure along which the cylindrical core can be pulled, stripped, unwound or torn apart. The closures can be pressed into receptacles using conventional methods. To remove the closures, one pulls, strips or tears the cylindrical core apart.



Inventors:
Gzybowski, Michael S. (Ann Arbor, MI, US)
Rose, Donald G. (Paso Robles, CA, US)
Boudreau, Mark S. (Wilmington, NC, US)
Application Number:
10/467186
Publication Date:
12/02/2004
Filing Date:
12/03/2003
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/254, 215/255, 215/256, 215/296
International Classes:
B65D39/00; B65D39/16; (IPC1-7): B65D39/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20150239599TRANSVERSELY DEFORMABLE BOTTLEAugust, 2015Leroux et al.
20100072162BABY BOTTLEMarch, 2010Park
20060175277Lotion bottle with dynamic ornamentAugust, 2006Ho
20150108082REUSABLE LABELS FOR INFANT'S BOTTLES OR CHILDREN'S CUPSApril, 2015Brown Boyle
20040178167Container stoppersSeptember, 2004Lin
20040065977Closure device and container equipped with sameApril, 2004Bron et al.
20090261057Closure with Barrier LinerOctober, 2009Druitt et al.
20070062905Leak-proof bottle capMarch, 2007Hung



Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael S Gzybowski (Ann Arbor, MI, US)
Claims:

What is claimed:



1. A closure for receptacles which comprises: a solid cylindrical core member having a frangible structure along which the solid cylindrical core member can be stripped apart along an axial direction by pulling an end thereof.

2. A closure for receptacles according to claim 1, wherein the frangible structure comprises a groove or a perforation.

3. A closure for receptacles according to claim 2, wherein the frangible structure has a non-linear cross-section.

4. A closure for receptacles according to claim 1, wherein the frangible structure extends along an axis of the solid cylindrical core member without extending through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

5. A closure for receptacles according to claim 1, wherein solid cylindrical core includes two spiral shaped frangible structures that are aligned along an axis of the solid cylindrical core member and which are spaced apart from one another near a center of the solid cylindrical core member and individually extend through opposite ends of the solid cylindrical core member.

6. A closure for receptacles according to claim 2, wherein the frangible structure has a spiral shape.

7. A closure for a receptacle according to claim 1, further comprising a pulling structure on at least one end thereof.

8. A method of removing a closure from a receptacle which comprises: providing a receptacle which is sealed with a closure having a strippable solid core member; and pulling the strippable core member apart along a frangible structure provided therein.

9. A method of removing a closure from a receptacle according to claim 8, wherein the frangible structure comprises a groove or a perforation.

10. A method of removing a closure from a receptacle according to claim 9, wherein the frangible structure has a non-linear cross-section.

11. A method of removing a closure from a receptacle according to claim 9, the frangible structure extends along an axis of the solid cylindrical core member without extending through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

12. A method of removing a closure from a receptacle according to claim 8, further comprising a pulling structure on at least one end thereof.

13. A closure for receptacles which comprises: a solid cylindrical core member having a spiral cut that is centered about an axial center of the solid cylindrical core member and extends along the axial center of the solid cylindrical core member without extending through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

14. A closure for receptacles according to claim 13, wherein the spiral cut has a non-linear cross-section.

15. A closure for receptacles according to claim 13, wherein the solid cylindrical core includes two spiral shaped cuts that are aligned along an axis of the solid cylindrical core member and which are spaced apart from one another near a center of the solid cylindrical core member and individually extend through opposite ends of the solid cylindrical core member.

16. A method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure which comprises: providing a solid cylindrical core member; forming a spiral cut along an axial center of the solid cylindrical core member which spiral cut does not extend through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

17. A method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure according to claim 16, wherein the solid cylindrical core member includes an outer cylindrical surface and the spiral cut does not extend through the outer cylindrical surface.

18. A method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure according to claim 16, wherein the solid cylindrical core member includes an outer cylindrical surface and the spiral cut extends through the outer cylindrical surface and the method further comprises forming a coating over the outer cylindrical surface and over the spiral cut therein.

19. A method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure according to claim 18, wherein the solid cylindrical core member and the coating are made of similar materials.

20. A method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure according to claim 18, wherein the solid cylindrical core member and the coating are made of different materials.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention is directed to closures for receptacles and containers. More particularly, the present invention is directed to closures for receptacles and containers which seal the contents thereof and which closures can be easily removed without the use of auxiliary tools.

BACKGROUND ART

[0002] Various materials are often stored in receptacles and containers in a sealed manner using closures such as caps, stoppers, corks, plugs, etc. In order to access the contents of such receptacles or containers, the closures have to be removed or transgressed. In the case of threaded or “screw-off” caps, one merely has to grasp and unscrew the cap. Closures such as corks are typically removed using a corkscrew or a similar device.

[0003] The present invention provides closures for receptacles or containers which can be easily removed without the use of auxiliary tools.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

[0004] According to other features, characteristics, embodiments and alternatives, the present invention provides a closure for receptacles which includes:

[0005] a solid cylindrical core member having a frangible structure along which the solid cylindrical core member can be stripped apart along an axial direction by pulling an end thereof.

[0006] The present invention further provides a method of removing a closure from a receptacle which involves:

[0007] providing a receptacle which is sealed with a closure having a strippable solid core member; and

[0008] pulling the strippable core member apart along a frangible-structure provided therein.

[0009] The present invention also provides a closure for receptacles which includes:

[0010] a solid cylindrical core member having a spiral cut that is centered about an axial center of the solid cylindrical core member and extends along the axial center of the solid cylindrical core member without extending through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

[0011] The present invention further provides a method of manufacturing a rupturable solid closure which involves:

[0012] providing a solid cylindrical core member;

[0013] forming a spiral cut along an axial center of the solid cylindrical core member which spiral cut does not extend through at least one end of the solid cylindrical core member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0014] The present invention will be described hereafter with reference to the attached drawings which are given by way of non-limiting examples only, in which:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a closure according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of the closure of FIG. 1 which depicts how the cylindrical core member is pulled, stripped or unwound to remove the closure.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the present invention which can be used in conjunction with a conventional wine cork.

[0024] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the wine cork of FIG. 9.

[0025] FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of a closure according to the present invention that includes integral portions on both ends thereof.

[0026] FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of a closure according to the present invention that includes an integral portion at an intermediate location between the ends of the closure.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

[0027] The present invention is directed to closures for receptacles and containers which seal the contents thereof and which closures can be easily removed without the use of auxiliary tools. The closures of the present invention are designed to lose their structural integrity and thereby be removable from a receptacle or container.

[0028] The closures of the present invention include cylindrical core members which can be used alone or in conjunction with various annular sealing members which are radially supported by the cylindrical core members. The cylindrical core members comprise strippable or tearable structures that can be pulled apart in a helical or spiral manner. According to one embodiment, the cylindrical core members can be integral tubular structures which include a helical or spiral perforation, groove, scoring, notch or other weakened or frangible structure which allows the core members to be pulled-apart, stripped apart or unwound as if they were made from a helically or spirally wound web. In this regard, the cylindrical core members of the present invention can be considered (and are described herein) as being helically or spirally wound webs which are joined along their edges by the weakened or frangible structures. The cylindrical core members can be fabricated by molding or tooling the weakened or frangible helical or spiral structure into the walls of the cylindrical core members.

[0029] In another embodiment, the cylindrical core members can comprise helically or spirally wound web elements that are held in a tubular form by the annular sealing member.

[0030] In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the cylindrical core members can be provided with a pair or more of grooves, perforations or other weakened or frangible structures which extend axially and which can be parallel or non-parallel to one another. In this embodiment, one or more longitudinal web strips can be pulled internally from the cylindrical core members to relieve radial pressure or compression acting or the annular sealing members and allow the cylindrical core members to be removed.

[0031] Due to the manner in which the cylindrical core members are pulled apart, striped or unwound to effect removal of the closures of the present invention, the closures have an inherent tamper-evident characteristic which can be an important safety factor.

[0032] The cylindrical core members can be made from various plastic materials such as polyvinyl chloride, nylons, fluorocarbons, polypropylene and other synthetic and resilient materials, including those materials that are known for used in synthetic wine corks. The cylindrical shape of the core members enable these members to withstand or support large radial forces, due to the manner in which such forces are evenly distributed around the core members. Thus, as will be understood from the following description of the invention, than in certain embodiments, the cylindrical core members can be suitable thin-walled, thereby enabling them to be easily pulled or torn apart along their frangible structures.

[0033] The annular sealing members provide a seal between the cylindrical core members and the inner surface of a receptacle or container which is sealed by the closures of the present invention. The annular sealing members are compressed or pressed into a sealing relationship with the inner surface of a receptacle or container by the cylindrical core members. In this regard, the closures of the present invention can pressed into an opening of a receptacle or container, e.g. a bottle, in much the same way that a conventional cork or stopper is pressed into the opening in a neck of a bottle or similar receptacle or container. Once the closures of the present invention are pressed into a receptacle or container, the cylindrical core members ensure that the compressive sealing forces of the annular sealing members are maintained against the inner surfaces of the receptacle or containers.

[0034] The annular sealing members can comprise any suitable material which is sufficiently compressible or resilient to create a seal between the cylindrical core members and the inner surface of a receptacle or container. Suitable materials from which to manufacture the annular sealing members include, cork, buna rubber, butyl-nitrile rubber, chlorosulfonated polyethylene, cork filled rubbers, ENBR, EPDM, EPR, ethylene acetate copolymers, fluorocarbon polymers such as Vikon, hydrin rubbers, hydrogenated nitrile rubber, nitrile rubber, natural rubber, neoprene rubber, polyacrylates, polynorborene, polyurethane, silicon, styrenebutadiene rubber, Teflon, and similar materials. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the annular sealing members can made from cork and have the appearance of conventional wine corks.

[0035] According to one embodiment of the present invention, the annular sealing members can be coupled or partially coupled to the cylindrical core members so that the annular sealing members are removed from a receptacle or container as the cylindrical core members are pulled apart, stripped or unwound and removed from the receptacles or containers. According to another embodiment of the present invention, the annular sealing members are not coupled to the cylindrical core members, so that the cylindrical core members can be pulled apart, stripped or unwound and removed from the receptacles or containers independently of the annular sealing members. In this embodiment, the annular sealing members can be easily removed once they are no longer radially supported by the (removed) cylindrical core members.

[0036] The coupling of the annular sealing members to the cylindrical core members can be accomplished using suitable adhesives, thermal bonding, or by manufacturing the annular sealing members from a resinous, elastomeric, or polymeric material which is coated on the outer surface of the cylindrical core members.

[0037] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a closure according to one embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 1 the closure is depicted as being positioned in the neck of a bottle 1. The closure includes a cylindrical core member 2 and an annular sealing member 3. As depicted in FIG. 1, the annular sealing member 3 is positioned between the inner surface 4 of the bottle 1 and the cylindrical core member 2. The sealing member 3 is preferably compressed between the inner surface 4 of the bottle 1 and the cylindrical core member 2 to provide a seal therebetween. The cylindrical core member 2 includes a helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure generally identified by reference numeral 5. This frangible structure 5 allows the cylindrical core members to be pulled apart as if they were helically or spirally wound webs (as depicted in FIG. 2).

[0038] In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 1 the closure includes a bottom 6 which is integral with the annular sealing member 3. Also in this embodiment, the closure is provided with a cover or top 7 which is integral with the cylindrical core member 2. The top 7 can be grasped, lifted from the mouth of the bottle 1 and used to pull apart, strip or unwind the cylindrical core member 2. The top 7 can include a perforated tab 8, opening, or other structure by which one can lift the top 7 from the mouth of the bottle 1. Although the top 7 is shown as fitting in the mouth of bottle 1, it is possible to use a top which extends above the mouth of the bottle or one which even extends partially over the sides of the bottle.

[0039] According to one embodiment of the present invention, the cylindrical core member 2 is removed and separated from the annular sealing member 3, by grasping a leading end of the helically or spirally wound web that makes up the cylindrical core member 2. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 1, the top 7 of the closure is connected to the leading end of the helically or spirally wound web at 9. Once the cylindrical core member 2 is removed, any compressive forces which the cylindrical core 2 maintained on the annular sealing member 3 are released and the annular sealing member 3 can be pulled out of the mouth of the bottle 1 with little resistance.

[0040] In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 1 a tab 10 is coupled to the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3 and can be used to pull the annular sealing member from the mouth of the bottle 1. Tab 10 can comprise an elongate strip or cord which can be rigid enough to extend towards the open end of annular sealing member 3. Otherwise, tab 10 can be a non-rigid strip, cord, etc., in which case the act of pulling, stripping or unwinding the cylindrical core member 2 would cause tab 10 to be pulled towards and out the open end of the annular sealing member 3.

[0041] Tab 10 is depicted as being anchored to the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3 by an anchor member 11 which extends through the bottom 6. Other manners of anchoring or coupling tab 10 to the bottom could be used, including gluing tab 10 to the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3 or embedding tab 10 into the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3.

[0042] In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 1, the bottom of the closure has a tapered portion 12 which rises above the lowest point 13 of the cylindrical core member 2. This configuration will ensure that all the compressive forces on the annular sealing member 3 are released once the cylindrical core member 2 is removed from the annular sealing member. While the use of a tapered portion 12 is useful for eliminating substantially all the compressive forces on the annular sealing member 3, it has been determined that there would not be sufficient compressive forces acting on the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3, absent a tapered portion 12 to prevent easy removal of the annular sealing member 3 once the cylindrical core member 2 is removed. Accordingly, the bottom 6 can be flat or curved.

[0043] In an alternative embodiment which can be similar to that depicted in FIG. 1, the lower portion of the cylindrical core 2 can be coupled to the annular sealing member 3 by a suitable adhesive, glue, etc. In this embodiment, as the bottom portion of the cylindrical core member 2 is pulled, stripped or unwound from the annular sealing member 3, the coupled, lower portion of the cylindrical core member 2 will pull out and remove the annular sealing member 3 from the mouth of the bottle 1, so that tab 10 will not be required.

[0044] It is noted that the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 1 and similar embodiments which allow for the cylindrical core member 2 to be removed independently of the annular sealing member 3, will allow for the bottle 1 to be resealed by merely inserting a cylindrical element into the center of the (removed) annular sealing member 3 and reinserting the thus reinforced annular sealing member 3 into the opening of the bottle 1.

[0045] As discussed above, the annular sealing member can be made from various materials, including cork. The use of cork will give the closures of the present invention the appearance of conventional cork closures, which may be desirable when using the closures of the present invention for packaging wine. The closures of the present invention can be covered with a label or seal which will enhance the appearance of the closures, and the marketability of the products contained in the bottles, receptacles, containers, etc. Such labels can also include pictorial instructions regarding the operation, i.e., removal of the closures.

[0046] FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of the closure of FIG. 1 which depicts how the cylindrical core member is pulled, stripped or unwound to remove the closure. In FIG. 2 the upper portion of the cylindrical core member 2 is depicted as being pulled apart, stripped or unwound, so that the web 14 of the cylindrical core member 2, which is otherwise maintained in a wound state by the weakened or frangible structure, can be seen in its unwound state. Arrow “a” illustrates the direction in which the lead end of the web 14 is pulled to remove the cylindrical core member 2 from the annular sealing member 3. In FIG. 2 the lower portion of the annular core member 2 is coupled to the annular sealing member 3 by a suitable adhesive 15, so that pulling the tailing end portion of web 14 from the annular sealing member 3 will effect removal of the annular sealing member 3. It is noted that the lead end of the web 14 does not have to be coupled to the cover or top 7 which is depicted in FIG. 1. In one alternative embodiment, the lead end of web 14 can merely extend radially inward or have a radially inwardly directed tab which can be grasped and pulled to remove the cylindrical core member 2. Such a structure can be covered by a separate cover or label which can be positioned in or above the mouth of the bottle, receptacle or container.

[0047] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 3, tab 10 is coupled to the bottom 6 of the annular sealing member 3 by means of an anchoring structure 16 which is structurally coupled in a groove 17 formed in the annular sealing member 3. In this embodiment, the tab 10 is coupled to the anchoring structure 16. In this embodiment, the anchoring structure 16 can comprise a disk or any suitable shaped structure.

[0048] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 4, the bottom 6 of the closure is integrally formed at the lower portion of the cylindrical core member 2 or at the tailing end of the web 14 in a manner similar to how the top 7 is coupled to the upper portion of the annular core member (also depicted in FIG. 1). In this embodiment, the bottom 6 of the closure is removed after the cylindrical core member 2 is pulled apart, stripped or unwound, and as the tailing end of web 14 is pulled from the mouth of bottle 1. In this embodiment, an adhesive material 15 is provided at the lower portion of the cylindrical core 2 to effect removal of the annular sealing member 3, as discussed above.

[0049] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. The embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 5 is similar to that depicted in FIG. 4, the difference being that in FIG. 5 the annular sealing member 3 includes a bottom 6′ which extends beneath the bottom 6 of the cylindrical core member 2. In this embodiment, an adhesive layer 15 is provided between the bottom of the annular sealing member 3 and the bottom of the cylindrical core member 2, so that as the bottom of the cylindrical core member 2 is removed, i.e. pulled from the mouth of bottle 1, the annular sealing member 3 is also removed.

[0050] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. The closure of FIG. 6 includes a cylindrical core member 2 which is similar to that discussed above and an annular sealing member 3 which is coupled to the outer peripheral surface of the cylindrical core member 2. For example, in this embodiment of the invention, the annular sealing member 3 can comprise a resinous, elastomeric, or polymeric material which is coated on the outer peripheral surface of the cylindrical core member 2. Such coating can be accomplished by dipping the cylindrical core member 2 in an uncured resin or polymeric composition and thereafter curing the same to form a compressible sealing element which is bonded to the cylindrical core member 2. In this embodiment, as the cylindrical core member 2 is pulled apart, stripped or unwound, the annular sealing member 3 bonded thereto is also pulled apart, stripped or torn and removed. Suitable materials from which the annular sealing member 3 can be fabricated in this embodiment include polymerizable, curable or moldable materials including those listed above and similar materials which demonstrate sufficient compressible characteristics for purposes of forming a seal and which can be torn by relatively moderate sheer forces. These materials can be applied by conventional coating techniques, including dipping, spraying, brushing, etc. It is possible to form a helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure on or in the annular sealing members 3 and thereby use a sealing material which would be otherwise less subject to being pulled apart, stripped or torn.

[0051] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. In FIG. 7 the cylindrical core member 2 is provided with a pair of frangible structures 5′ which define a web 16 that can be striped or pulled from the side of the cylindrical core member 2. In this embodiment a pull tab 10′ is connected to the bottom of the web 16 to allow it to be pulled from the bottom up. The tapering of the side edges of the web 16 will allow it to gradually relieve radial forces as it is torn from the side of the cylindrical core member.

[0052] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a further alternative embodiment of a closure according to the present invention. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 8, the annular sealing member has been eliminated. Instead of incorporating an annular sealing member, the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 8 includes a cylindrical core member 2 in which a helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure is formed on the inside of the cylindrical core member 2. Forming the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure on the inside or inner surface of the cylindrical core 2 allows the cylindrical core 2 to have a smooth outer surface which can, by itself (without an annular sealing member) form a seal against the inner surface 4 of a bottle 1.

[0053] It is noted that the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 8 can include a perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure similar to that depicted in FIG. 7, which can extend into the bottom 6, if desired. It is also possible to provide the outer surface of the cylindrical core member 2 with a textured, e.g. ribbed, surface structure which helps assist effecting a seal.

[0054] It is to be understood that there is no particular limit to the wall thickness of the cylindrical core members 2 which can be used as closures for the present invention. Thin wall thickness may be suitable for more rigid materials and thicker wall thickness may be more suitable for less rigid materials. As discussed below, wall thickness up to diameter of the cylindrical core members 2, i.e. solid cylindrical members, offer characteristics and properties that may be particularly appealing to some consumers, and may further be adaptable to different manufacturing and bottling techniques.

[0055] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the present invention which can be used in conjunction with a conventional wine cork and cork screw. In FIG. 9, the wall thickness of the cylindrical core member 2 is equal to the diameter thereof so that the cylindrical core member 2 is essentially solid. In this case, the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 extends to, or near to, the center of the cylindrical core member 2. The outer surface 19 of cylindrical core member 2 is continuous. That is, the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 does not extend through the outer surface 19.

[0056] The embodiment of the cylindrical core members 2 depicted in FIGS. 1-8 can be manufactured by conventional molding methods. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the embodiment of the cylindrical core member 2 depicted in FIG. 9 can be fabricated by cutting a synthetic or plastic cork, made from conventional materials, in a helical or spiral manner from the outer surface to, or near to, the axial center. Thereafter, the outer surface is subjected to a process such as coating, melting, welding, cementing, bonding, curing, gluing, etc. which makes the surface continuous so as to provide a seal against the inner surface of a receptacle. According to one alternative embodiment; the cylindrical core member 2 depicted in FIG. 9 could be fabricated by driving a cutting blade along the axial center, thus forming the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 without having it extend through the outer surface 19. According to a further embodiment, an under-diameter core member 2 can be formed by molding or extruding, thereafter the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 can be cut into the core member 2 from the outer surface toward the center axis, and then a coating can be applied by any convenient manner such as molding, extruding, etc. It is to be understood that when a coating is used to seal a core member 2 that has been cut as described, the coating and core member 2 can be made from the same or different materials. It is also possible to extrude a spiral shaped core structure and subject the outer surface to a process such as coating, melting, welding, cementing, bonding, curing, gluing, etc.

[0057] The embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 9 can be stripped or torn apart along an axial direction by pulling an end thereof. In this regard, a pulling tab, ring, etc. can be provided on an end as discussed above. A pulling ring 20 is depicted in FIG. 9.

[0058] The embodiment of the closure depicted in FIG. 9 can also be removed by a conventional cork screw and thus, may be more appealing to persons who want to open wine bottles in a traditional manner. The embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 9 can be installed in wine bottles using conventional techniques. Once removed from a receptacle, the closure depicted in FIG. 9 can replaced to close or reseal the receptacle.

[0059] According to another embodiment of the present invention which is somewhat similar to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 9, the cylindrical core member 2 depicted in FIG. 9 can be fabricated by cutting a synthetic or plastic cork in a helical or spiral manner from the outer surface to, or near to, the axial center, and thereafter not processing the outer surface or otherwise providing a continuous outer surface on the cylindrical core member 2. According to this embodiment the bottom portion of the cylindrical core member which is integral, i.e. extends beyond the point where the helical or spiral cut terminates, provides a fluid tight seal and the remaining portion of the cylindrical core member 2 which is cut through to, or near to, the axial center can be sufficiently pressed in the mouth or neck of a receptacle to maintain the integrity of the closure and ensure that it retains its position and provides a fluid tight seal for the receptacle.

[0060] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the wine cork of FIG. 9. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 9, the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 which extends to, or near to, the center of the cylindrical core member 2 has a planar shape. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 10, the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 has a V-shape (exaggerated for illustration purposes).

[0061] It has been determined that such a V-shape will cause adjacent surfaces of the cork to interlock and thereby prevent sliding which can occur between the adjacent surfaces when the cork is pressed along the axial direction.

[0062] It is to be understood that although a V-shaped groove is illustrated in FIG. 10, any non-planar or non-linear, interlocking shape can be used, including, but not limited to, inverted V-shaped, angular shaped, curved shaped, compound curved and/or angular shapes.

[0063] The interlocking of the surfaces of the cork that are adjacent to the perforation, groove, etc. and opposed to each other, will prevent radial shifting of the cork as it is pressed into the mouth of a bottle. This enables easier insertion of the cork into the mouth of a bottle and also prevents the continuous outer surface from being breached or broken as could occur with excessive radial shifting of the cork.

[0064] The embodiment of the cork depicted in FIG. 10 can be produced by similar methods used to make the embodiment of the cork depicted in FIG. 9, and described above.

[0065] As noted above, the closures of the present invention can have wall thicknesses that are up to diameter of the cylindrical core members. The use of a non-planar or non-linear groove, perforation, etc. as discussed above in reference to FIG. 10 can be incorporated into closures which have wall thicknesses which are less than the diameter of the cylindrical core members.

[0066] According to the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIGS. 9 and 12, the bottom portion of the cylindrical core member which is integral, i.e. extends beyond the point where the helical or spiral cut terminates, provides a fluid tight seal and the remaining portion of the cylindrical core member 2 which is cut through to, or near to, the axial center can be sufficiently pressed in the mouth or neck of a receptacle to maintain the integrity of the closure and ensure that it retains its position and provides a fluid tight seal for the receptacle.

[0067] As shown in the drawings, a portion, typically the bottom of the closure, can be integral, i.e. the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 does not extend through this integral portion of the closure and it can thus serve as an integral plug to seal a receptacle when the remaining portion of the closure is being stripped apart.

[0068] In order to provide a closure that can be used in any orientation, i.e., does not have a functionally specific “top” or “bottom”, integral portions can be provided on both ends or at an intermediate position between the ends, such as the middle of the closure.

[0069] FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional side view of a closure according to the present invention that includes integral portions on both ends thereof. FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional side view of a closure according to the present invention that includes an integral portion at an intermediate location between the ends of the closure.

[0070] In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 11 the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 extends along the central portion of the cylindrical core member 2, which can comprise a conventional synthetic or plastic cork, and terminates at a short distance “d” from either end of the cylindrical core member 2. In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 11, the closure is provided with integral portions 21 and 22 at either end 23 and 24 either of which can serve as an integral plug to seal a receptacle when the remaining portion of the closure is being stripped apart. Each end 23 and 24 can also include a pulling tab or other pulling structure 25 if desired so that when the closure is inserted into a receptacle to seal the same, the upper end which is exposed at the mouth of the receptacle can be grasped and pulled to strip the closure out of the receptacle.

[0071] In the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 12 the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 extends along either end portion of the cylindrical core member 2, which can comprise a conventional synthetic or plastic cork, and terminates in at an intermediate point so as to form an integral portion having a thickness “d.” This intermediate integral portion 26 defined between the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 which extends from either side thereof to or near the opposite ends 23 and 24 of the closure, can serve as an integral plug to seal a receptacle when one or both of the end portions of the closure is being stripped apart. Each end 23 and 24 can also include a pulling tab or other pulling structure 25 if desired so that when the closure is inserted into a receptacle to seal the same, the upper end which is exposed at the mouth of the receptacle can be grasped and pulled to strip the closure out of the receptacle.

[0072] In FIG. 12 it is noted that the two portions of the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 which extend from either side of the integral portion 26 are provided in opposite rotational directions, i.e. clockwise and counter clockwise as viewed from either end 23 or 24. In an alternative embodiment the two portions of the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure 5 which extend from either side of the integral portion 26 could be provided in the same rotational direction, i.e. both being either clockwise or counter clockwise as viewed from either end 23 or 24. It is also to be understood that the pitch of the helical or spiral perforation, groove, or other weakened or frangible structure in any of the embodiments of the invention does not have to be uniform. That is, the pitch could vary along the axis of the closure or cylindrical core member as desired. In the embodiments of the closure depicted in FIGS. 11 and 12, the helical or spiral perforation, groove or other weakened or frangible structure(s) can either extend through the side wall of the cylindrical core member or the side wall of the core member can have an integral structure as discussed above.

[0073] As mentioned above, the bottom of closures of the present invention can be tapered, flat or curved. It has also been found that a slanted bottom, i.e. one that is planar, but not perpendicular to the central axis of the closure, will aid in resealing a solid, stripped apart closure. Alternatively, a non-planar slanted bottom can also be used.

[0074] The closures of the present invention can be used in conjunction with a variety of products including, but not limited to wines and other beverages, medical and laboratory materials, food products, etc. The materials from which the annular sealing member 3 is made should be compatible with a desired use, e.g. non-toxic, non-reactive, inert, etc. Likewise, the materials from which the cylindrical core member 2 is made should be compatible with a desired use.

[0075] The closures of the present invention are compatible with conventional bottling techniques which compress and press corks, stoppers and similar closures into bottles, receptacles, containers.

[0076] A significant advantage of the closures of the present invention is that they an be removed without the need for auxiliary tools such as corkscrews. Thus, products which are packaged and sealed by the closures of the present invention, such as for example wine, can be opened easily at picnics, and other events or locations wherein opening tools such corkscrews may not be-available. It is believed that the closures of the present invention can be manufactured so as to have the appearance of conventional wine corks, and thus, in addition to reducing the use of cork, will be readily accepted by wine consumers. The closures also have use to close or seal any bored structure such as pipe fittings, hydraulic devices, pneumatic devices, etc.

[0077] Another advantage of the closures of the present invention which relates to safety is that due to the manner in which the cylindrical core members are pulled apart, striped or unwound to effect removal of the closures of the present invention, the closures have an inherent tamper-evident characteristic which can be an important safety factor.

[0078] Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, from the foregoing description, one skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of the present invention and various changes and modifications can be made to adapt the various uses and characteristics without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the following claims.