Title:
Package for pouring a granular product
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A package for dispensing a granular product has a first hollow body member, a second hollow body member, and a pouring spout. The first hollow body member has a first exterior surface and opposite therefrom a first interior surface which defines a first internal volume. The second hollow body member has a second exterior surface, a second interior surface, a flow-regulating passage, and a dispensing passage separate from the flow-regulating passage. The second exterior surface defines a second external volume smaller than the first internal volume. Opposite the second exterior surface, the second hollow interior surface defines a second internal volume. The pouring spout is operatively connected to the dispensing passage. When the first internal volume is at least about 50% full of a granular product, the package may be tilted for dispensing at a dispensing angle which causes the granular product to flow from the first internal volume through the flow-regulating passage into the second internal volume and from the second internal volume through the dispensing passage out of the package. When the flow rate is measured and calculated at dispensing angles of 120°, 150° and 180°, the standard deviation is less than about 30% of the average flow rate for each dispensing angle.



Inventors:
Yamane, Satoshi (Kobe, JP)
Application Number:
11/196969
Publication Date:
02/16/2006
Filing Date:
08/04/2005
Assignee:
The Procter & Gamble Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D35/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NICHOLS II, ROBERT K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A package for dispensing a granular product, the package comprising: A. a first hollow body member comprising: i. a first exterior surface; and ii. a first interior surface opposite the first exterior surface, the first interior surface defining a first internal volume; B. a second hollow body member, wherein the second hollow body member comprises: i. a second exterior surface defining a second external volume smaller than the first internal volume; ii. a second interior surface opposite the second exterior surface, the second interior surface defining a second internal volume; iii. a flow-regulating passage leading from the second exterior surface to the second interior surface; and iv. a dispensing passage leading from the second interior surface to the second exterior surface, wherein the dispensing passage is separate from the flow-regulating passage, wherein at least a portion of the second hollow body member is within the first internal volume; and C. a pouring spout operative connected to the dispensing passage, wherein when the first internal volume is at least about 50% full of a granular product therein the package may be tilted for dispensing, whereby when tilted for dispensing at a dispensing angle the granular product flows from the first internal volume through the flow-regulating passage into the second internal volume and from the second internal volume through the dispensing passage out of the package, and wherein when the flow rate is measured and calculated at dispensing angles of 120°, 150° and 180°, the standard deviation is less than about 30% of the average flow rate for each dispensing angle.

2. The package according to claim 1, wherein the first hollow body member further comprises a mouth, and wherein the second exterior surface is affixed to the mouth.

3. The package according to claim 1, wherein the first hollow body member further comprises a mouth, and wherein the flow-regulating passage further comprises an edge, and wherein the edge is located at the portion of the second exterior surface which is affixed to the mouth.

4. The package according to claim 1, wherein the second hollow body member comprises the pouring spout.

5. The package according to claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the flow-regulating passage is distal from the dispensing passage.

6. The package according to claim 1, wherein the granular product has an average particle diameter, and wherein the flow-regulating passage has a width, and wherein the width is at least about 5 times wider than the average particle diameter.

7. The package according to claim 1, wherein the first hollow body member and the second hollow body member are distinct.

8. The package according to claim 1, wherein the second hollow body member further comprises a base opposite the dispensing passage, and wherein the flow-regulating passage extends to the base.

9. The package according to claim 1, wherein the second internal volume is from about 1% to about 25% of the first internal volume.

10. The package according to claim 1, further comprising a cap which removably covers the dispensing passage.

11. The package according to claim 7, wherein the first hollow body member and the second hollow body member are affixed to each other.

12. The package according to claim 1, further comprising a granular product therein.

13. The package according to claim 12, wherein the granular product is a granular detergent.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/600,970, filed on Aug. 12, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to packages for granular products. Specifically, the present invention relates to packages for granular products which are used to pour the granular products.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Packages for storing and dispensing granular products, such as foods, detergents, powders, and especially free-flowing granular products such as salt, flour, laundry detergents, automatic dishwash detergents, spices, etc., are known. Such packages often may be used for pouring out the granular product therein and typically consist of a standard hollow bottle with a round mouth or other-shaped opening. When the granular product is to be dispensed, the hollow bottle is tilted to dispense the product out of the mouth. Depending upon the angle to which the bottle is tilted, the granular product will dispense either slowly or quickly—the greater the angle, the more quickly the granular product is dispensed.

While such a package is useful for many applications, it is not useful where it is desirable to dispense the granular product at a constant speed, for example, when attempting to accurately measure the amount of the granular product which has been dispensed. For such granular products, other dispensing mechanisms such as dosing devices which provide a predetermined single “unit dose” of the granular product, or small holes which shut off the flow of the granular product when the bottle is rotated have been developed. But in such cases, either the granular product flow is not continuous (i.e., in the unit-dose case), is still greatly dependent upon the angle at which the package is held, or does not easily pour to the desired location. In addition, such packages tend to be complicated and inconvenient to use when one is in a rush, by the young, or by the elderly.

Accordingly, the need exists for a package for dispensing a granular product which provides substantially the same flow rate over a large range of dispensing angles, which accurately pours to a desired location, and which is easy and convenient to use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a package for dispensing a granular product having a first hollow body member, a second hollow body member, and a pouring spout. The first hollow body member has a first exterior surface and opposite therefrom a first interior surface which defines a first internal volume. The second hollow body member has a second exterior surface, a second interior surface, a flow-regulating passage, and a dispensing passage separate from the flow-regulating passage. The second exterior surface defines a second external volume smaller than the first internal volume. Opposite the second exterior surface, the second hollow interior surface defines a second internal volume. The pouring spout is operatively connected to the dispensing passage. When the first internal volume is at least about 50% full of a granular product, the package may be tilted for dispensing at a dispensing angle which causes the granular product to flow from the first internal volume through the flow-regulating passage into the second internal volume and from the second internal volume through the dispensing passage out of the package. When the flow rate is measured and calculated at dispensing angles of 120°, 150° and 180°, the standard deviation is less than about 30% of the average flow rate for each dispensing angle.

It has now been found that the package of the present invention can dispense a granular product at substantially the same average rate, over a large range of dispensing angles. This in turn makes the package easier and more convenient to accurately dispense the correct amount of the granular product, especially for the young and the elderly. In addition, it has been surprisingly found that the flow-regulating passage may keep the granular particles accurately flowing to the targeted location more accurately, by preventing sudden “avalanches” within the first internal volume from disrupting the orderly and accurate flow of the granular particles out of the dispensing passage. In addition, the package herein accurately pours to a specific location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the invention, it is believed that the invention will be better understood from the following description of the accompanying figures in which like reference numerals identify like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a cut-away side view of an embodiment of the package of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cut-away side view of an embodiment of the package of the present invention during dispensing;

FIG. 3 is a partial cut-away side view of a comparative package; and

FIG. 4 is a close-up side view of an embodiment of a second hollow body member.

The figures herein are not necessarily drawn to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

All temperatures herein are in degrees Celsius (° C.) unless otherwise indicated. As used herein, the term “comprising” means that other steps, ingredients, elements, etc. which do not adversely affect the end result can be added. This term encompasses the terms “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of”.

The present invention comprises a package for dispensing a granular product such as for example, a granular food, a granular detergent, chemicals, etc. In an embodiment of the invention herein, the granular product is selected from the group consisting of salt, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and a mixture thereof. In an embodiment of the invention herein, the granular detergent is selected from the group consisting of a laundry detergent composition, an autodishwash composition, a disinfecting composition, a cleaning composition, a personal cleansing composition, and a mixture thereof. The granular product should be a free-flowing granular product. In an embodiment herein, the granular product has an approximately regular shape, preferably a regular shape, such as a sphere, a crystal, a cube, etc. Without intending to be limited by theory, it is believed that typically, the more regular the shape of the particles in the granular product, the better the free-flowing properties of the granular product. In another embodiment herein, the granular product has an average particle diameter, which is the number average particle diameter which can be calculated by methods known in the art, and where the particle diameter is defined as the straight distance between the two farthest points on an individual particle. In an embodiment herein, the granular product has an average particle size and a standard deviation of less than about 30% of the average flow rate, or from about 0% to about 30% of the average flow rate.

Turning to FIG. 1 which shows a cut-away side view of a package, 100, having a first hollow body member, 110, having a first exterior surface, 112, and a first interior surface, 114, opposite the first exterior surface, 112. The first interior surface, 114, defines a first internal volume, 116, which is further bounded by the mouth, 118, which is formed where the first exterior surface, 112, meets the first interior surface, 114. Thus, in this embodiment, the first internal volume, 116, ends at the plane formed by the mouth, 118. Opposite the mouth, 118, is a package bottom, 120, which in FIG. 1 is flat so as to allow the package, 100, to stably rest.

FIG. 1 also shows a second hollow body member, 122, which in this embodiment is distinct from the first hollow body member, 110. The second hollow body member, 122, has a second exterior surface, 124, which defines a second external volume, 126, which is smaller than the first internal volume, 116. In an embodiment herein, the second external volume is less than about 50% of the first internal volume. The second hollow body member, 122, also has a second interior surface, 128, opposite the second exterior surface, 124. The second interior surface defines a second internal volume, 130. In an embodiment herein, the second internal volume is from about 1% to about 25% of the first internal volume. In another embodiment herein, the second internal volume is from about 2% to about 15% of the first internal volume. The second hollow body member, 122, contains a flow-regulating passage, 132, which leads from the second exterior surface, 124 to the second interior surface, 128. Distal and separate from the flow-regulating passage, 132, is a dispensing passage, 134, that leads from the second interior surface, 128, to the second exterior surface, 124.

The package and/or any portion thereof may be formed of a variety materials such as a plastic or polymers, rubber, glass, metal, wood, or a combination thereof. An embodiment of the package and/or container includes rubber, plastic, polyester, and a combination thereof, and another embodiment includes polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polystyrene, ethyl vinyl alcohol, thermoplastic elastomer, or a combination thereof. Flexible package and/or container parts preferably contain at least a portion of thermoplastic elastomer. Textured surfaces may also be employed so as to enhance gripping and/or friction, if desired. Preferred production processes are blow molding, injection molding, vacuum forming, thermoforming, casting, stereo lithography, selective laser scintering, any rapid prototyping technology, and a combination thereof. The various individual package and/or portions thereof may be formed with different materials, and/or by different processes, as desired. Optional, but preferred characteristics of the package material include color, tinting, UV blocking agents, translucency, transparency, or opaqueness. Examples of the UV blocking agent useful herein include titanium dioxide, benzophenone, hydroxy-benzophenone, benzotriazole, and a mixture thereof. Such UV blocking agents are commonly available from, for example, Sumitomo Chemical, Tokyo Japan; Kyodo Chemical, Tokyo Japan; Asahi Denka, Tokyo Japan; Ciba Giegy, Tokyo Japan; and others. An embodiment of the package is transparent or translucent and optionally contains a UV blocking agent to absorb, reflect, or otherwise reduce the amount of UV light penetrating the container to reach the granular product so as to thereby reduce possible UV damage thereto, fading of the product color, especially if colored speckles are present, and/or yellowing of the granular product caused by exposure to UV radiation. Other optional characteristics of the package material include easy formation to the desired shape(s), resistance to the product and the applicable pH ranges, temperature, durability, coloration, coatings and/or resiliency. In an embodiment of the invention, the package material should be resistant to damage and deformation at temperatures from about −10° C. to about 90° C. The package may be sized to hold whatever volume is desirable. In an embodiment herein, the first internal volume is from about 0.5 mL to about 10 L, or from about 1 mL to about 5 L. In an embodiment herein for a granular detergent the first internal volume is from about 150 mL to about 3 L or from about 200 mL to about 1 L.

In FIG. 1, the second exterior surface, 124, is affixed to the mouth, 118, via an adhesive, 136. However, the second exterior surface may also be affixed to the mouth by, for example, a pressure seal, an adhesive seal, a locking closure, a screw-type closure, a snap-fit closure, a heat seal, an ultrasonic seal, and/or a plug-seal and may optionally be air-tight and/or water-tight as desired for example, to prevent oxidation of the granular product, absorption of moisture from the air, and/or water damage to the granular product. In an embodiment herein, the second exterior surface is removably affixed to the mouth. Also in FIG. 1, the dispensing passage, 132, is bounded by an edge, 138, at the second exterior surface, 124. The edge, 138, is affixed to the mouth, 118, so that a majority of the second hollow body member, 122, is contained within the first internal volume, 116, but this not need be the case. In the present invention, the second hollow body member need only be at least partially within the first internal volume.

In FIG. 1, connected to the dispensing passage, 134, is a pouring spout, 140, which helps direct the granular product when the package, 100, is tilted for dispensing (see FIG. 2.). The second hollow body member, 122, has a base, 142, opposite the dispensing passage, 134. The flow-regulating passage, 132, extends from near the mouth, 118, to the base, 142. In addition, the base, 142, is slanted towards the flow-regulating passage, 132, so that when the package, 100, is placed flat on the package bottom, 120, granular product which remains in the second internal volume, 130, will flow back through the flow-regulating passage, 132, and into the first internal volume, 116.

FIG. 2, shows a cut-away side view of the package, 100, of the present invention tilted during dispensing. A line, A-A, drawn perpendicular to the package bottom (not shown in FIG. 2) and in FIG. 2, line A-A is also perpendicular to the plane formed by the mouth, 118, forms a dispensing angle, a, with a vertical line, B-B, drawn perpendicular to the ground. When the package, 100, contains the granular product, 144, and is tilted to a dispensing angle, a, of about 150°, the granular product, 144, flows from the first internal volume, 116 through the flow-regulating passage, 132, into the second internal volume, 130, as indicated by arrow C. The granular product, 144 then flows from the second internal volume, 130, through the dispensing passage, 134, and off of the pouring spout, 140, as indicated by arrow D, and into the cap, 146. The cap, 146, has a dosing device, 148, and a measuring indicator, 150, to advise the user how much of the granular product, 144, to dose. Since the granular product flows out of the second internal volume and therefore the pouring spout at a substantially constant rate, it is easy to accurately measure and dose the granular product. Furthermore, in the embodiment of FIG. 2, the flow-regulating passage, 132, extends from near the mouth, 118 to the base, 142, so that at a given dispensing angle of, for example, 150°, substantially all of the granular product, 144, will flow out of the first internal volume, 116, through the flow-regulating passage, 132, into the second internal volume, 130, and out of the dispensing passage, 134. In FIG. 2, the base, 142, is flat and defines the imaginary line E-E. The mouth, 118, also defines the imaginary line F-F. A base angle, y, is formed by the intersection of imaginary lines E-E and F-F.

FIG. 3 shows a partial cut-away side view of a comparative package, 200, for dispensing a granular product with a pouring hole, 210, and an inclined plane, 212, to the interior of the pouring hole, 210. However, when the comparative package, 200, is tilted at various degrees from about 100° to about 180°, the granular product therein flows out of the pouring hole, 210, at dramatically different rates.

FIG. 4 shows a close-up side view of a second hollow body member, 122, and the flow-regulating passage, 132, therein. The flow-regulating passage, 132, extends from the base, 142, to almost to the edge, 138. The flow-regulating passage, 132, has a width, β, which is defined as the widest part of the flow-regulating passage, and is substantially wider than the average particle diameter of the granular product. In FIG. 4, the width extends from near the mouth to the base. In an embodiment herein, the width is adjacent to the mouth. In another embodiment herein, the width is near the base. In an embodiment herein, the width is at least about 5 times wider than the average particle diameter, or from about 5 times to about 1,000 times wider than the average particle diameter, or from about 10 times to about 100 times wider than the average particle diameter. Without being limited by theory, it is believed that such a wide flow-regulating passage will enhance the free-flow properties of the granular product.

Flow Rate Test Method:

As used herein, the phrase “average rate” describes the rate at which the granular product flows from the dispensing passage when the dispensing angle is about 150°. To measure the average rate, the first internal volume is filled with a predetermined volume, typically at least 50%, preferably 90% of the granular product. The package is tilted to a dispensing angle of 150° for a period of 5 seconds, and the volume of beads which flow out of the dispensing passage during this time is collected and measured by weight, and the flow rate per second is calculated by dividing the weight by 5 seconds. In the case where the granular product stops flowing and/or is completely emptied from the package before the 5 second period is finished, then the weight is divided by amount of time required for the granular product to stop flowing/completely empty from the package. The flow rate is measured and calculated 5 times. From these 5 calculated flow rates the average flow rate, standard deviation, and standard deviation as a percentage of the flow rate are calculated.

As used herein, the term “substantially constant rate”, indicates that when the dispensing angle is measured at dispensing angles of 120°, 150°, and 180°, the granular product continuously flows out of the package at the average rate where the standard deviation for each dispensing angle is less than about 30% of the average flow rate, or from about 0% to about 30% of the average flow rate. To determine whether or not the flow rate has these characteristics, the above flow rate test method is also conducted at a dispensing angle of 120° and a dispensing angle of 180°, instead of a dispensing angle of 150°.

Examples of the invention are set forth hereinafter by way of illustration and are not intended to be in any way limiting of the invention. The examples are not to be construed as limitations of the present invention since many variations thereof are possible without departing from its spirit and scope.

EXAMPLE 1

The package of FIGS. 1 and 2, including the cap, is formed from blow-molded polyethylene terephthalate, containing 0.01% by weight of a UV blocker . . . . The first internal volume is about 550 mL and the distinct and separately-formed second internal volume is about 65 mL. The mouth is round and has a diameter of 4 cm, and the second hollow body member has a snap-fit closure which forms an airtight seal with the mouth. The flow-regulating passage has a width of 14 mm and the base angle is about 15°. When tested at dispensing angles of about 120°, 150°, and 180° according to the flow rate test method herein, the granular product flows out of the dispensing passage and therefore the pouring spout where the standard deviation for each dispensing angle is as follows: The package is packed with a granular laundry detergent having an average particle diameter of about 400μ. . . The pouring spout indicates the right direction of tipping for better product pouring with reduced spillage. The bottom of the base has a concave outside to guide product in bottle to the flow-restriction passage to further improve product flow. The first hollow body member is formed from extrusion blow molded or injection blow molded polypropylene, while the cap is made from injection molded polypropylene. The second hollow body member is formed form injection molded polyethylene.

All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention. To the extent that any meaning or definition of a term in this written document conflicts with any meaning or definition of the term in a document incorporated by reference, the meaning or definition assigned to the term in this written document shall govern.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.





 
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