Title:
Dual compartment flexible pouch and a fitment with dual-dispensing capabilities therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a dual-dispensing plastic fitment comprising (a) a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends; (b) the dividing rib extending from the body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib; (c) at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of the body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom. Also disclosed are dual compartment flexible pouches and packages incorporating the fitment.



Inventors:
Bourque, Raymond Anthony (Plymouth, MA, US)
Chung, Daniel Young-doo (Chicago, IL, US)
Estabrook, Richard M. (Milford, MA, US)
Kornick, Joseph (Chicago, IL, US)
Olivares-cordoba, Jose Tirso (Chicago, IL, US)
Visioli, Donna Lynn (Lower Gwynedd, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/987424
Publication Date:
05/26/2005
Filing Date:
11/12/2004
Assignee:
BOURQUE RAYMOND A.
CHUNG DANIEL Y.
ESTABROOK RICHARD M.
KORNICK JOSEPH
OLIVARES-CORDOBA JOSE T.
VISIOLI DONNA L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/107, 222/129, 222/566
International Classes:
B65D75/00; B65D81/32; (IPC1-7): B65D35/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090089214CONDUCTING FUEL DISPENSING TRANSACTIONSApril, 2009Weston et al.
20060144866Gating system for flowable material and conveying apparatus including sameJuly, 2006Haitin et al.
20070253687WAX DISPENSER FOR HOT WAXING APPLICATIONSNovember, 2007Palkie et al.
20040118870Grease dispensing device with illumination effectJune, 2004Wu
20100001026PISTONS WITH A LIP SEAL AND CARTRIDGE SYSTEMS USING SUCH PISTONSJanuary, 2010Springhorn et al.
20090101020Automatic single cup brewing venderApril, 2009Webster et al.
20080095570Leveling tool for applying fluent materialApril, 2008Lepage
20090095769Collapsible tube with roll-up fastener structureApril, 2009Avraham
20070114248Double barrel caulking gun caddyMay, 2007Kovac
20060060614Remote aerosol dispensing systemMarch, 2006Garner



Primary Examiner:
NGO, LIEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DUPONT SPECIALTY PRODUCTS USA, LLC (WILMINGTON, DE, US)
Claims:
1. A dual-compartment flexible pouch comprising a fitment and two compartments wherein the compartments are contiguous to each other; each compartment is in fluid communication with a through passage of the fitment; and the compartments are separated by a dividing seal.

2. The pouch of claim 1 wherein each compartment comprises a fitment and each compartment is in fluid communication with a through passage of the fitment.

3. The pouch of claim 1 wherein the pouch comprises one fitment; the fitment comprises two through passages; and each compartment is separately in fluid communication with one of the through passages.

4. The pouch of claim 1 comprising a dual-dispensing fitment comprising a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends and at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of the body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom wherein the dividing rib extending from the body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

5. The pouch of claim 1 that is a stand up pouch.

6. The pouch of claim 5 comprising (i) a first sheet of polymeric film; (ii) a second sheet of polymeric film superimposed on the first sheet of polymeric film wherein the first and second sheets of polymeric film are sealed to each other directly or indirectly through a third intervening polymeric film thus defining a sealed perimeter forming a closed pouch; and (iii) a seal internal to the perimeter of the closed pouch wherein the seal divides the closed pouch into separated compartments.

7. The pouch of claim 6 comprising a fitment comprising two through passages wherein one of the compartments is in fluid communication with a first through passage of the fitment and the other of the compartments is in fluid communication with the second through passage of the fitment.

8. The pouch of claim 7 wherein the fitment comprising a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends and at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of the body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom; and the dividing rib extending from the body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

9. A dual-dispensing plastic fitment comprising a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends and at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of the body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom; and the dividing rib extending from the body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

10. The pouch of claim 9 being a flexible pouch or package.

11. A package comprising (a) a dual-compartment flexible pouch and (b) two different beverages or viscous fluids wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 1 and a first beverage or viscous fluid is confined to one of the compartments and a second beverage or viscous fluid is confined to the other of the compartments.

12. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 2.

13. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 3.

14. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 4.

15. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is a stand up pouch.

16. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 6.

17. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 8.

18. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch is as recited in claim 8.

19. The package of claim 11 wherein the pouch comprises a fitment as recited in claim 9.

20. The package of claim 19 comprising the beverage.

21. The package of claim 19 comprising the viscous fluid.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/519,297, filed Nov. 12, 2003, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

This invention relates to dual compartment flexible pouches and packages. This invention also relates to dual-dispensing fitments and packages incorporating the fitments.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Flexible pouches are known for use in packaging liquid, fluid or paste-like products. The pouches are often intended for single-use (i.e., a single serving) applications, but in some instances may be reclosable for multiple uses. Particularly notable are pouches for beverages such as juices and other flavored drinks that are consumed directly from the pouch. Currently, flexible beverage pouches are typically provided with a plastic-wrapped pointed straw removably adhered to the pouch that is intended to pierce the pouch in a predefined location to access the contents of the pouch (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 3,380,646). However, these pouches may be difficult to open, particularly by children, because of the force and dexterity needed to pierce the pouch with the straw. A portion of the contents also may be ejected from the pouch due to the pressure needed to grip the pouch and insert the straw.

Also notable are pouches for more viscous fluids such as puddings, custards and yogurts that may be consumed directly from the pouch. These pouches are typically hermetically sealed. Tearing off one end of the pouch provides access to the contents of the pouch. Again, the force and dexterity needed to tear off the end off these pouches can make these pouches difficult to open, especially for children.

Moreover, these pouches are not resealable if the contents are not consumed in a single serving.

Alternatively, pouches may be provided with plastic fitments to provide access to the contents. A typical fitment is designed to fit between the webs of packaging film that form the pouch. The connection between the fitment and the film forming the remainder of the pouch is generally produced by means of an ultrasonic welding process or a heat-sealing process. With known fitments, a cap (for example, a screw cap) is provided for sealing a through passage so that the latter can be repeatedly closed after opening the sealed fitment. Hermetic sealing of the through passage by means of an integrally formed, pierceable foil is also known. The pierceable foil additionally acts as a tamper-proof seal. A combination of a pierceable foil and a screw cap has also been proposed. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,000,848 and 6,138,849 and US Patent Application 2003/029138.

Dual compartment pouches and packages are known. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,865,345; U.S. Pat. No. 5,954,234; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,164,822. These packages are not suitable for selective dispensing of the contents of one of the compartments because it is difficult to selectively apply pressure to only one of the compartments.

Combinations of yogurt and fruit puree have been packaged in twin-tube pouches made of flexible film (Müller UK Corner Squeezers). Instructions for use indicate that the package is to be folded so that the two tubes are arranged in a facing manner and then squeezed to simultaneously eject the contents. These pouches have top seals that are torn off to access the contents and as a consequence are not resealable.

It is desirable to provide dual compartment pouches suitable for selectively dispensing two different fluids (e.g., different flavored beverages) from the same container. Such selective dispensing requires a pouch design that allows for manipulation of the compartments individually or collectively as desired. This allows the consumer to selectively dispense (and consume) either fluid separately or a combination of the two fluids. For example, different flavored beverages may be dispensed and tasted individually or dispensed simultaneously for a pleasing “mix in mouth” experience. It is also desirable to provide such pouches with plastic fitments for ease of opening and reclosability, suitable for selective or simultaneous dispensing of two different fluids having a flexible multiple-compartment, and robust enough to withstand conventional shipment and customer handling.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention includes a dual-compartment flexible pouch wherein the dual compartments are arranged in a contiguous (edge-to-edge) manner; and one of the compartments is in fluid communication with a through passage of a fitment and the other of the compartments is in fluid communication with a different through passage of a fitment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 represents a frontal perspective view of a dual-compartment, flat film embodiment of the flexible pouch incorporating at least one fitment (two are shown).

FIG. 2 represents a cross-sectional view of the pouch shown in FIG. 1 as seen through line A-A′.

FIG. 3 represents a cross-sectional schematic view of a beverage container in the form of a two-compartment stand-up pouch with a plastic fitment comprising two through passages.

FIG. 4 represents a frontal view of a fitment according to a preferred embodiment.

FIG. 5 represents a frontal view of a fitment according to another preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A preferred embodiment of the dual-compartment pouch comprises a plastic fitment comprising two through passages wherein one of the compartments is in fluid communication with a first through passage of said fitment and the other of the compartments is in fluid communication with the second through passage of said plastic fitment.

The dual-dispensing plastic fitment can comprise a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends and at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of the body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom; and the dividing rib extending from the body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

The invention also provides the use of the fitments described above in dual-compartment flexible pouches and packages.

The dual compartments can be arranged in a contiguous (edge-to-edge) manner and comprise the dual-dispensing plastic fitment.

When the compartments are used as beverage package, a first beverage is confined to one of the compartments and a second beverage is confined to the other.

The dual component flexible pouch of component (a) can comprise or be produced from (i) a first sheet of polymeric film; (ii) a second sheet of polymeric film superimposed on the first sheet of polymeric film in which the first and second sheets of polymeric film can be sealed to each other directly or indirectly through a third intervening polymeric film thus defining a sealed perimeter forming a closed pouch; and (iii) a seal internal to the perimeter of the closed pouch wherein the seal divides the closed pouch into separated compartments.

Component (a) may also comprise a plastic fitment comprising two through passages in which one of the compartments is in fluid communication with a first through passage of said fitment and the other of the compartments is in fluid communication with the second through passage of the plastic fitment.

The package can also be used for viscous fluids where one of the compartments is in fluid communication with a through passage of a plastic fitment and the other is in fluid communication with a different through passage of a plastic fitment and the package comprises two different viscous fluids in which a first fluid is confined to one of the compartments and a second fluid is confined to the other.

As indicated above, this invention provides a dual compartment flexible pouch wherein the dual compartments are arranged in a contiguous (edge-to-edge) manner and incorporating at least one plastic fitment.

Although the invention is predominantly disclosed and illustrated herein in the preferred form or embodiment of a flexible, dual-compartment beverage pouch, the underlying concepts and functionality of the invention are applicable to any flexible film pouch packaging system wherein two fluids (i.e., liquid, gas, paste, gel, slurry, or the like) are held in separate compartments to be selectively or simultaneously dispensed. Of note is a beverage package containing two different beverages in the two compartments. A beverage pouch includes not only drinks such as juice, milk, tea, coffee and the like but also include yogurt and even more viscous fluids such as custards. Selecting a polymer film or multi-layered film, sealing the perimeter of a pouch, and forming an internal seal dividing the pouch into separate compartments are common to both pouch and beverage container embodiments.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the flexible container according to the present invention (reference numeral 10) can involve two superimposed sheets 12 and 14 (FIG. 2) of polymer film circumferentially sealed at the perimeter or edge 16, thus forming a pouch 18. Alternatively, the flexible container involves a single sheet of film (not shown) folded back on itself and sealed along essentially three sides to form the pouch. Internal to the pouch 18 is a dividing seal 20 dividing the container 10 into two separated compartments 22 and 24. The container is also equipped with reclosable fitments 25 and 26, in fluid communication with compartments 22 and 24 respectively, integrally sealed in the upper portion of the perimeter 16 of the pouch 18.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional perspective of the pouch in FIG. 1 viewed along the line A-A′. In this view, the bow tie or dumbbell cross-sectional shape of the pouch can be observed. Applying pressure to compartment 22 along the axis defined by the line B-B′ (e.g., by squeezing) causes the contents of compartment 22 to be forced out of the compartment into the through passage of the fitment 25 and expelled (i.e., dispensed). Similarly, applying pressure to compartment 24 along the axis C-C′ causes the contents of compartment 24 to be forced out of the compartment into the through passage of the fitment 26. The dividing seal 20 prevents the pressure exerted on one compartment to be transferred to the other compartment, allowing one to selectively dispense the contents of an individual compartment. Simultaneously applying pressure along the axes B-B′ and C-C′, or alternatively applying pressure along the axis defined by the line A-A′ allows one to dispense the contents of both compartments simultaneously.

An alternate embodiment of a flexible container of this invention is in the form of a two-compartment stand-up flexible film pouch. Of note is a stand-up flexible film pouch used as a beverage package containing two different beverages in the two compartments. A stand-up pouch can comprise a pleat or gusset in one end of the pouch to provide a bottom side that the pouch can rest on to remain in a substantially vertical orientation. Standup pouches may be fabricated from two or three webs of film depending on their design. An embodiment of this invention is a stand up pouch that comprises (i) a first sheet of polymeric film; (ii) a second sheet of polymeric film superimposed on the first sheet of polymeric film wherein the first and second sheets of polymeric film are sealed to each other directly or indirectly through a third intervening polymeric film thus defining a sealed perimeter forming a closed pouch; and (iii) a seal internal to the perimeter of the closed pouch wherein the seal divides the closed pouch into separated compartments.

More preferred is a stand up pouch as described above comprising a plastic fitment comprising two through passages wherein one of said compartments is in fluid communication with a first through passage of said fitment and the other of said compartments is in fluid communication with the second through passage of said plastic fitment. Preferred is a stand up pouch comprising a dual-dispensing plastic fitment comprising (a) a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends; (b) at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of said body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom; and optionally (c) the dividing rib extending from said body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

In addition to the rib form, the fitment can be bridge or the bow-tie form as shown in FIG. 2.

Optionally the film can be extended beyond the fitment and sealing its edges when the fitment is sealed in place thereby creating a “dust cover” over the fitment. The “dust cover” can be torn away along a perforation at the fitment seal to remove it.

FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional schematic view of an alternate embodiment of a flexible container 10 in the form of a two-compartment stand-up flexible film beverage pouch. The respective elements comprising this embodiment are identified by using the corresponding reference numerals employed in describing the beverage container illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. This embodiment differs from the previous container of FIGS. 1 and 2 in that the bottom 28 involves a folded gusset structure 30 allowing the container 10 to be freestanding. Such an embodiment also typically involves a more complex perimeter seal and/or folding configuration to create the gusset 30 and bottom surface 28. FIG. 3 also illustrates a fitment 27.

Flexible pouches can be constructed of flexible packaging films. The sheets of polymeric film employed to make the wrapper sheet of the flexible pouch can be a single layer or multilayer polymeric film. Also, any such film grade polymeric resin or material as generally known in the art of packaging can be employed. Preferably, a multilayer polymeric film structure is to be employed. Typically the multilayer polymeric sheet can involve at least three categorical layers including, but not limited to, an outermost structural or abuse layer, an inner barrier layer, and an innermost layer making contact with and compatible with the intended contents of the package and capable of forming the necessary seals (e.g., most preferably heat-sealable) to itself and the fitment. Other layers may also be present to serve as adhesive or “tie” layers to help bond these layers together.

The outermost structural or abuse layer can be oriented polyester or oriented polypropylene, but can also include oriented polyamide (nylon) or paper or foil. This layer preferably is reverse printable and advantageously unaffected by the sealing temperatures used to make the package, since the package is sealed through the entire thickness of the multilayer structure. The thickness of this layer can control the stiffness of the pouch, and may range from about 10 to about 60 μm, preferably about 50 μm.

The inner layer can include one or more barrier layers, depending on which atmospheric conditions (oxygen, humidity, light, and the like) that potentially can affect the product inside the pouch. The barrier layer also contains the contents within the pouch. Barrier layers can be, for example, metallized polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), polyvinylidene chloride, aluminum foil, nylon, blends or composites of the same as well as related copolymers thereof. Barrier layer thickness may depend on factors such as the sensitivity of the product and the desired shelf life.

The structure and barrier layers can be combined to comprise several layers of polymers that provide effective barriers to moisture and oxygen and bulk mechanical properties suitable for processing and/or packaging the product, such as clarity, toughness and puncture-resistance. Examples of multilayer barrier structures suitable for use in this invention include, from outermost to innermost:

polyethylene/tie layer/polyamide/tie layer/sealant;

polyethylene/tie layer/EVOH/tie layer/sealant;

polyethylene/tie layer/polyamide/EVOH/polyamide/tie layer/sealant; and

polypropylene/tie layer/polyamide/EVOH/polyamide/tie layer/sealant.

The innermost layer of the package is the sealant. The sealant preferably has minimum effect on taste or color of the contents, is unaffected by the product, and withstands sealing conditions (such as liquid droplets, grease, dust, or the like). The sealant also bonds to the fitment by means of an ultrasonic welding process or a heat-sealing process. The sealant can be a polymeric layer or coating that can be bonded to itself (sealed) at temperatures substantially below the melting temperature of the outermost layer so that the outermost layer's appearance may not be affected by the sealing process and may not stick to the jaws of the sealing bar. Sealants include ethylene polymers, such as low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), metallocene polyethylene (mPE), or copolymers of ethylene with vinyl acetate (EVA) or methyl acrylate or copolymers of ethylene and acrylic (EA) or methacrylic acid (EMA), optionally as ionomers (i.e., partially neutralized with metal ions such as Na, Zn, Mg, or Li); polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), polypropylene copolymers, and combinations of two or more thereof. Sealant layers can be about 25 to about 100 μm thick.

Polyamides (nylon) suitable for use herein include aliphatic polyamides, amorphous polyamides, or a mixture of two or more thereof including copolyamides. Preferred aliphatic polyamides for use in the invention are nylon 6, nylon 6.66, blends and mixtures thereof. Nylon 6.66 is commercially available under the trademarks “Ultramid® C4” and “Ultramid® C35” from BASF, or under the tradename “Ube® 5033FXD27” from Ube Industries Ltd. Nylon 6 is commercially available under the tradename Capron® from Honeywell International.

The film may further comprise other polyamides such as those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,408,000; 4,174,358; 3,393,210; 2,512,606; 2,312,966 and 2,241,322, which are incorporated herein by reference.

The film may also comprise partially aromatic polyamides. Some embedded image
suitable partially aromatic copolyamides include the amorphous nylon resins 6-I/6-T commercially available under the trademark Selar® PA from E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, Del. (DuPont) or commercially available under the tradename Grivory® G 21 from EMS-Chemie AG.

Polyolefins can include polypropylene or polyethylene polymers and copolymers comprising ethylene or propylene. Polyethylene polymers can include linear polyethylenes such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), LLDPE, very low or ultralow density polyethylenes (VLDPE or ULDPE) and branched polyethylenes such as LDPE. The densities of polyethylenes suitable for use in the present invention range from 0.865 g/cc to 0.970 g/cc. Linear polyethylenes for use herein can incorporate alpha-olefin comonomers such as butene, hexene or octene to decrease their density within the density range so described. The impermeable film useful in the present invention can comprise ethylene copolymers such as ethylene vinyl acetate and ethylene methyl acrylate and ethylene (meth)acrylic acid polymers. Polypropylene polymers useful in the practice of the present invention include propylene homopolymers, impact modified polypropylene and copolymers of propylene and alpha-olefins.

Ionomers are copolymers of an olefin such as ethylene and an unsaturated carboxylic acid, such as acrylic acid or methacrylic acid and optionally softening monomers wherein at least one or more alkali metal, transition metal, or alkaline earth metal cations, such as Na, K or Zn, are used to neutralize some portion of the acidic groups in the copolymer, resulting in a thermoplastic resin exhibiting enhanced properties. For example, ethylene/(meth)acrylic acid (E/(M)AA) is a copolymer of ethylene and acrylic acid and/or ethylene/methacrylic acid (MAA) are at least partially neutralized. Terpolymers can also be made from an olefin such as ethylene, an unsaturated carboxylic acid and other comonomers such as alkyl (meth)acrylates to provide “softer” resins that can be neutralized to form softer ionomers. Ionomers are known conventionally and their method of preparation is described in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,344,014. Ionomers and blends thereof with other polymeric resins are sold by DuPont under the trademark “Surlyn®”.

Anhydride or acid-modified ethylene and propylene homo- and co-polymers can be used as extrudable adhesive layers (also known as “tie” layers) to improve bonding of layers of polymers together when the polymers do not adhere well to each other, thus improving the layer-to-layer adhesion in a multilayer structure. The compositions of the tie layers can be determined according to the compositions of the adjoining layers that need to be bonded in a multilayer structure. Various tie layer compositions are commercially available under the trademark Bynel® from DuPont.

EVOH having from about 20 to about 50 mole % ethylene can be used. Suitable polyethylene vinyl alcohol polymers are commercially available under the tradename Evalca® from Kuraray or commercially available under the tradename Noltex® from Nippon Goshei.

PVDC polymers and copolymers suitable for use herein as coatings or films can be obtained commercially from Dow Chemical under the tradename Saran®.

Films useful in the present invention can additionally comprise optional materials, such as the conventional additives used in polymer films including plasticizers, stabilizers, antioxidants, ultraviolet ray absorbers, hydrolytic stabilizers, anti-static agents, dyes or pigments, fillers, fire-retardants, lubricants, reinforcing agents such as glass fiber and flakes, processing aids, antiblock agents, release agents, and/or mixtures thereof.

Pouches can be formed from web stock by either cutting and heat-sealing separate pieces of web stock or by a combination of folding and heat sealing with cutting. Pouch making equipment such as that made by Totani Corporation, Kyoto, Japan, or Klockner Barlelt Co., Gordonsville, Va., can be used. The heat-sealed perimeter of the pouch and the internal dividing seal can be achieved by superimposing the first and second sheets of polymeric film and then heat sealing each directly to the other or heat sealing them indirectly through the use of an intervening third polymeric film, again as generally known to one skilled in the art.

It is contemplated that the sheet of polymeric film (i.e., the so-called “web stock”) may be produced using any combinations of the processes known in the art, such as monolayer or multilayer casting, blowing film, extrusion lamination, and adhesive lamination and combinations thereof. A laminate film can be prepared by coextrusion as follows. Granulates of the various components can be melted in extruders. The molten polymers can be passed through a die or set of dies to form layers of molten polymers that are processed as a laminar flow and then cooled to form a layered structure. Molten extruded polymers can be converted into a film using a suitable converting technique. For example, a film can also be made by (co)extrusion followed by lamination onto one or more other layers.

The thermoplastic film may also be laminated to a substrate such as foil, paper, or nonwoven fibrous material to provide a packaging material useful in this invention. The packaging material may also be processed further by, for example without limitation, printing, embossing, and/or coloring to provide a packaging material to provide information to the consumer about the product therein and/or to provide for a pleasing appearance of the package.

A film useful in this invention can also be processed on a film fabrication machine at a speed from about 5 meters per minute (m/min) to a speed of about 200 m/min.

The pouch can provide a mechanism to allow the consumer easy access to the contents by use of at least one fitment or spout, such as those sold by Menshen Packaging USA, Waldwick, N.J., or Portola Packaging, San Jose, Calif. The fitment or spout is preferably sealed inside the top or side of the pouch. The fitment or spout is molded from a material that can be sealed to the pouch by induction, heat, or laser energy. The sealing can be done before or after filling the pouch, depending on the equipment used. Preferably when the fitment is employed for youth beverage pouch applications the fitment is designed to be childproof such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,138,849, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The fitments disclosed herein include a one-piece molding of an appropriate synthetic material, preferably PP or PE, including LDPE, medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) and HDPE. Of note are PE fitments that can be adhered to multi-layer films wherein the layer to which the fitment is adhered comprises an ionomer. Of note are fitments prepared from polyethylene having a density of typically about 0.952 g/cc at 23° C. with a melt flow index of about 6.2.

The upper end (the end that extends beyond the perimeter seal of the pouch whereby the contents of the pouch are accessed) of the fitment may be hermetically sealed by a cover. The cover may be a pierceable or peelable monolayer or multilayer sheet comprising polymeric material, paper and/or foil that is sealed onto the upper end of the fitment by adhesive or heat sealing. Hermetic sealing of the through passages of the fitments may be accomplished by means of integrally formed, pierceable foils. The pierceable foil additionally can act as a tamper-proof seal. Alternatively, the cover may be a cap or stopper that is formed such that the shape and dimensions of the cap member are adapted to those of the body portion such that the cap member can be placed onto the body portion for repeatedly sealing the through passages. In other words, the shape of the cap is complementary to the shape of the body portion of the fitment so that it can be held tightly to the body portion by means such as friction fitting or screw threads. The cap (for example, a screw cap) is provided for covering the through passages so that the latter can be repeatedly closed after opening the sealed fitment. A combination of a foil, providing initial hermetic sealing, and a screw cap, providing a means for reclosing the through passages, is also contemplated.

Alternatively, the capping means is a cap member that is integrally formed on the upper end of the fitment near the through passages. The cap member hermetically seals the adjacent end of said through passages in that the cap member is attached to the body portion through a weakened portion adapted to break when a rotational force is exerted by hand on the cap member. The shape and dimensions of the cap member may be adapted to those of the body portion such that the cap member can be placed onto the body portion for repeatedly sealing the through passages after it has been separated from the body portion.

Optionally, the cap is connected to the body portion by means of a strap extending between the cap and body portion. The strap provides a permanent connection between the cap member and the tubular body portion so that the two parts remain connected to one another.

In some applications, cap members may be provided such that each through passage can be capped individually with its own cap member, allowing one to access one compartment of the pouch while keeping the other compartment closed.

A dual-dispensing plastic fitment can comprise (a) a substantially tubular body portion having a dividing rib integrally formed therein defining two through passages having axially spaced open ends; (b) at least one basal welding rib integrally formed near the base of said body portion on the outer periphery thereof and outwardly projecting therefrom; and optionally (c) said dividing rib extending from said body portion to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib.

This invention also provides for the use of the dual-dispensing plastic fitment in a flexible pouch or beverage package.

FIG. 4 illustrates a frontal view of an embodiment of a dual dispensing fitment of this invention (31) comprising a tubular body portion 34 having a dividing rib 36 that divides the body portion 34 into two through passages 38 and 40, which are open at their base axial ends 39 and 41. In this embodiment, the through passages 38 and 40 diverge from the point below the dividing rib 36 and extend downward. Basal welding ribs 46 (two groups of three ribs each are shown in FIG. 4) are provided at the base of the tubular body portion 34. The welding ribs 46 may be constructed in a manner as described in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,383 to which reference may therefore be made and incorporated herein. Partitions 47 traversing centrally through the welding ribs 46 and projecting outwardly from diametrically opposite sides of the through passages may be provided for strengthening the welding ribs 46 and for maintaining their relative spacing. The welding ribs and the partitions facilitate proper joining of the fitment (typically by heat-sealing) to the packaging film to provide a pouch. A fitment of this embodiment may be inserted between the polymeric films 12 and 14 that form the pouch 18 (see FIG. 1) such that the base axial end of through passage 38 is in fluid communication with compartment 22 and the base axial end of through passage 40 is in fluid communication with compartment 24 of the pouch. The fitment is sealed in the upper part of the perimeter seal 16 with the dividing seal 20 joining the perimeter seal 16 in the region between the basal ends of the through passages.

A substantially flat cap member 48 can be integrally formed on the upper end of the fitment at the upper ends of the through passages 38 and 40 to close the upper axial ends of the through passages until the user wishes to access the contents of the pouch. Cap member 48 is joined to the tubular body portion 34 by extensions 50 and 52 that have weakened portions (i.e. thin regions of material) adapted to break when a rotational force is exerted by hand on the cap member 48. On removing the cap, the upper axial ends of the through passages are open, providing fluid communication from the compartments of the pouch to the exterior of the fitment.

FIG. 3 illustrates a frontal cross-section of an alternate fitment 27 in accordance with this invention, in which the fitment is incorporated into a two-compartment pouch 18 by placing the fitment between the sheets of polymeric film 12 and 14 and sealing the fitment into the perimeter seal 16 at the top of the pouch. For simplicity in description, components of the fitment of this embodiment that do not change in function from the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4 and described above are labeled using identical numbers. The fitment 27 comprises a tubular body portion 34 having a dividing rib 36 that divides the body portion 34 into two through passages 38 and 40. The through passages extend beyond the body portion into articulated straw ends 42 and 44 respectively. The through passages 38 and 40 are in respective fluid communication with the compartments 22 and 24 of the pouch. Basal welding ribs 46 formed near the base of the body portion 34 facilitates sealing the fitment 27 to the pouch 18 by providing an area in contact with the polymeric films 12 and 14 that can be sealed in the perimeter seal 16.

A flanged cap member 49 can be integrally formed on the upper end of the fitment at the ends of the through passages 42 and 44. The cap member 49 is joined to the through passage ends 42 and 44 by weakened portions (i.e. circumferentially thin regions of material) adapted to break when a rotational force is exerted by hand on the cap member 48. As described above, removal of the cap allows the user to access the contents of the package.

The dividing rib 36 extends downward from the body portion 34 to provide a downwardly projecting welding rib 54 (optional element (c) of a fitment). The downwardly projecting welding rib 54 is positioned such that it is contiguous to the internal dividing seal 20 and can be sealed to the film web concurrently with forming and sealing the dividing seal 20.

As is illustrated in FIG. 5, an alternate fitment (reference numeral 56) includes a tubular body portion 34 having an integrally formed dividing rib defining two through passages (not shown).

The dividing rib extends downward from the body portion near the base axial end 58 to provide at least one downwardly projecting welding rib 50 (three welding ribs are shown in the present example) that are formed integrally with the dividing rib. The welding ribs 50 may be constructed in a manner as described in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,383 to which reference may therefore be made and incorporated herein. A partition 60 traversing centrally through the welding ribs 50 may be provided for strengthening the welding ribs 50 and for maintaining their relative spacing. The partition 60 may also facilitate proper joining of the fitment 1 to the packaging film to provide a pouch.

A plurality of axially spaced basal welding ribs 46 (3 welding ribs in the present example) can be formed integrally on a peripheral portion of the tubular body portion 34 near the base open axial end 58. Partitions 47 traversing centrally through the welding ribs 46 and projecting outwardly from diametrically opposite sides of the tubular body portion 34 may be provided for strengthening the welding ribs 46 and for maintaining their relative spacing. The partition 47 may also facilitate proper joining of the fitment 56 to the packaging film to provide a pouch.

Pouches disclosed here can be prepared by providing a continuous web of packaging film in which the film is oriented in a U- or V-shaped trough. A stand-up pouch of the present invention can be prepared by providing a continuous web of packaging film in which the film comprises a gusset or pleat to provide a W-shaped trough.

The continuous web of packaging film used to prepare a flexible pouch may comprise a single sheet of film that is oriented into a trough as described above. Alternatively, the web may comprise two or three sheets of packaging film that are bonded together by, for example, heat sealing seam(s) at the bottom of the trough. In this alternative, the sheets may be the same or different. For example, one sheet may be opaque, optionally with graphic elements, and another sheet may be transparent to allow visualization of the contents of the pouch. A particular form of stand-up pouch comprises three sheets of packaging film, one of which forms the bottom of the pouch and is pleated, and two that form the sides of the pouch. The sheets are joined together by two seams at the bottom of the trough. The seams provide sufficient rigidity to the pouch to enable it to stand upright.

The trough-shaped web is divided into blanks the size of individual dual compartment pouches by transverse seals prepared typically by means of heat sealing to define a sealed perimeter forming an open-ended pouch. A transverse seal internal to the perimeter of the pouch provides a dividing element that divides the pouch into separated compartments.

The fitment can be inserted between the margins of the film web, and the fitment can be attached to the pouch by sealing the fitment to the margins of the web. The downwardly projecting welding rib(s) (element (b) of a fitment of this invention) is positioned such that it is contiguous to the internal transverse seal and can be sealed to the film web concurrently with forming and sealing the dividing element. In this manner, the two compartments of the pouch are separated throughout the package by the dividing internal transverse seal and the dividing rib in the fitment.

Each of the compartments of the pouch can be filled with the desired amount of its respective fluid contents, typically by means of metering valves. Each compartment can contain a different fluid.

A top seal of the pouch can be made by sealing the fitment to the margins of the web along the basal welding rib(s) (element (c) a fitment) and sealing the margins to each other.

The individual pouches can be cut from the web by means of transverse cutters. The operations of forming, filling, and sealing the pouch can be prepared by performing the steps described above concurrently and/or sequentially.

Individual pouches are sized according to the amount of fluids they are intended to contain. Single-serving dual compartment beverage pouches may be about 10 to 16 cm tall, about 7 to 10 cm wide with a wide base about 4 to 5 cm in depth and a bow or dumbbell-shaped cross section and contain a total of about 150 to 250 ml of liquid in the two compartments. For example, a pouch can be about 14 cm tall, 9 cm wide and contain 200 ml of liquid (100 ml in each compartment), to provide a single serving for a child. Pouches may also be larger, to contain larger amounts (for example, a pouch may contain more than a single serving). Pouches may also be smaller.

Although pouches are herein primarily illustrated and disclosed with two compartments of equal size, pouches with compartments of different sizes are also contemplated. For example, a pouch may have one compartment that contains 150 ml of liquid and a second compartment that contains 50 ml of liquid.

Similarly, fitments in accordance with this invention may also have through passages of different size. For example, a fitment may have a large through passage in fluid communication with a large compartment of a pouch and a small through passage in fluid communication with a small compartment of a pouch. Alternatively, fitments with through passages of different sizes may be used to allow fluids of different viscosities to pass through the fitment at comparable flow rates.

In an alternative embodiment, the pouch may be prepared, a fitment inserted and attached, and the pouch subsequently filled. The “preformed” pouch of this embodiment is prepared generally as described above, in which flexible packaging film(s) are formed into a pouch shape and the fitment inserted between the margins of the film(s) and joined to the film(s), for example by heat sealing. In this embodiment, portions of the film margins are not sealed together, providing openings for subsequent filling of the pouch. For example, the fitment is inserted and joined to the pouch at the junction of the internal transverse seal and the open end of the pouch, and the remainder of the open end is left unsealed, providing openings for filling the two compartments. Pouches prepared in this embodiment can be collected and transported to a separate filling operation to be filled with contents. In the filling operation, the desired amount of the contents of each pouch compartment is placed into the pouch through its respective opening, typically by means of metering valves. The openings are sealed by joining the margins of the film(s) that form the openings (for example, by heat sealing) to form a top seal.

Pouch making equipment such as that made by Totani Corporation, Kyoto, Japan, or Klockner Barlelt Co., Gordonsville, Va., can be advantageously used practicing this invention.

A beverage package can comprise (a) a dual-compartment flexible pouch wherein one of said compartments is in fluid communication with a through passage of a plastic fitment and the other of said compartments is in fluid communication with a different through passage of a plastic fitment; and (b) two different beverages wherein a first beverage is confined to one of said compartments and a second beverage is confined to the other of said compartments.

The beverages can be any liquid for drinking, such as water, fruit or vegetable juices or juice drinks, soy-based products, dairy products, teas, coffees, other flavored drinks and the like, optionally including additional ingredients such as nutrients, electrolytes, vitamins, fiber, flavoring agents, coloring agents, preservatives, antioxidants and the like suitable for human consumption.

A package for viscous fluids can comprise (a) a dual-compartment flexible pouch wherein said dual compartments are arranged in a contiguous manner and wherein one of said compartments is in fluid communication with a through passage of a plastic fitment and the other of said compartments is in fluid communication with a different through passage of a plastic fitment; and (b) two different viscous fluids wherein a first fluid is confined to one of said compartments and a second fluid is confined to the other of said compartments. Said viscous fluids may be food items such as puddings, custards, yogurts or condiments. For example, a package of this invention may contain two differently flavored puddings such as chocolate and vanilla or two different condiments such as ketchup and mustard. The viscous fluids may also be personal care products such as toothpaste, soaps, lotions, shampoos and the like. For example, a package of this invention may contain a shampoo and a hair conditioner. Other fluids that may be packaged in containers of this invention include fluids such as ointments, creams, medicines and the like. The viscous fluids may also be fluids that must remain separated until they are mixed at time of use such as the two components (resin and hardener) of epoxy glues, etc.