Title:
Foam dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a dispenser for dispensing a mixture of two or more fluids, e.g. liquid and gas (e.g. air) as a foam and/or mist, the dispenser comprising a flexible container for a liquid including a conduit having first and second end portions, the first end portion terminating in an opening in the container through which the mixture is expelled from the container and the second open end portion being close to the base of said container, wherein the conduit includes a third open end portion which is located close to the top of the container and laterally inclined or opposed to the second open end portion.



Inventors:
Briozzo Fernandez, Diego Sebastian (Fraga, AR)
Application Number:
10/543474
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
01/21/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/190
International Classes:
B65D37/00; B05B11/04; B05B15/30; B65D1/32; B05B7/00; B05B15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAINBRIDGE, ANDREW PHILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
UNILEVER PATENT GROUP (ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. A dispenser for dispensing a mixture of two or more fluids, e.g. liquid and gas (e.g. air) as a foam and/or mist, the dispenser comprising a flexible container for a liquid including a conduit having first and second end portions, the first end portion terminating in an opening in the container through which the mixture is expelled from the container and the second open end portion being close to the base of said container, wherein the conduit includes a third open end portion which is located close to the top of the container and laterally inclined or opposed to the second open end portion.

2. Dispenser according to claim 1 characterized in that it comprises a means for manually pressurizing the container.

3. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the conduit is branched, curved or kinked or a combination thereof to effect the relative orientation of the second and third conduit end portions.

4. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the conduit is curved or kinked in a section e.g. mid or upper section, so as to incline the second open end portion between 10-60 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the container, preferably 15-45 degrees, more preferably 15-30 degrees, even more preferably 20 degrees.

5. Dispenser according to claim 4 wherein the conduit is kinked in a upper section by 20 degrees.

6. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the third open end portion extends from an upper section of the conduit, e.g at right angles.

7. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the conduit has a tee (T-shaped) configuration at the top, wherein the third open end portion branches off orthogonally from a main section of the conduit.

8. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the top of the conduit is aligned with the central longitudinal axis.

9. Dispenser according to any of claims 1-8 wherein the top of the conduit is offset from the central longitudinal axis.

10. Dispenser according to any preceding claim wherein the conduit is in the form of or include a dip tube which co-operates with a container closure or cap.

11. Dispenser according to any preceding claim in combination with a liquid wherein the liquid may be an edible liquid such as cream or milk, or a surface treatment liquid e.g paint or a cleaning liquid.

12. Dispenser according to claim 11 characterised in that the liquid is a cleaning liquid comprising a foaming surfactant.

13. Dispenser according to claim 11 or 12 characterised in that the cleaning liquid does not contain any undissolved solids.

14. Dispenser of any preceding claim wherein the dispenser is filled to less than 95% of its internal volume with the liquid.

15. Dispenser of claim 11 or 12 further including instructions for use.

16. A method of dispensing a foam or mist using a dispenser according to any of the claims 1-13, the dispenser containing a liquid and comprising the step of squeezing the dispenser to expel the liquid as a foam or mist.

17. A method of treating or cleaning a surface with a foam or mist using a dispenser or combination according to any of the claims 1-13 , the dispenser containing a surface treatment or cleaning composition.

Description:

The present invention concerns dispensers which dispense an mixture of fluids, particularly but not exclusively portable dispensers which dispense, under pressure, foam from a mixture of fluids e.g. gas and liquid.

The term “portable” as used herein in intended to mean hand-held dispensers, preferentially dispensers that can be held with only one hand, such as commercially available dispensers for deodorants, shaving-foam, or liquid cleaning compositions. The invention is also suitable for large portable dispensers, that cannot be held with only one hand.

Foam dispensers to dispense a mixture of liquid and gas as a foam are known. As a common characteristic, they comprise a container and a dispensing cap, said cap comprising a dispensing opening which, at least during dispensing, is in open connection with the upper end of a flow pipe (known as dip tube), of which the opposite end is located near the bottom of the container. Liquid and gas are pushed out of the dispensing opening together due to the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the container. Conveniently the pressurised gas in the containers is air but it may be another suitable gas. The increased or ‘positive’ (relative to external pressure) internal pressure is permanent in pressurised containers. For non-pressurised containers the internal pressure can be decrease/increased manually and temporarily with a pump system to draw air into container and then expel this. Some pump systems raise the internal pressure sufficient to provide for a multitude of dispensing operations. Other pump systems e.g. those forming part of various pump dispensing heads or caps increase internal pressure as part of the dispensing operation. Examples of such dispensing systems are trigger spray heads. Dispensers of this and similar kind are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,053,364, 5,271,530, 5,443,569, etc. One problem with such trigger spray head dispensers is that they are expensive and are not economic in use of plastic resource.

Mist dispensing systems which operate by manual squeezing of a liquid filled flexible-walled container or ‘squeeze bottle’ are also known. Such containers are used for dispensing a mist or spray. Manual compression of the container increases the internal pressure in the head space above the liquid, compelling the liquid to rise upward through the dip tube and be ejected from the container.

Due to the configuration of the cap dispensing orifice and/or the use of two-dimensional structures the liquid can be expelled as a spray.

An exemplary embodiment of such dispenser is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,642,313, published in 1953.

Known foam or mist dispensers are sold with a solution inside the container and a flat mesh or net in the flow path of the liquid to form the mist. However, such foam forming elements can be expensive to manufacture and are often not very efficient for creating a desired thick foam.

The present invention seeks to solve or at least reduce the above mentioned problems by the provision of a simple, cost effective foam dispenser which does not require complicated foaming elements in the flow path of the liquid i.e. somewhere in the dip tube that conveys the liquid from the bottom of a container towards the container cap or above the dip tube in the container cap.

Therefore the invention provides a dispenser for dispensing a mixture of two or more fluids, e.g. liquid and gas (e.g. air) as a foam and/or mist, the dispenser comprising a flexible container for a liquid including a conduit having first and second end portions, the first end portion terminating in an opening in the container through which the mixture is expelled from the container and the second open end portion being close to the base of said container, wherein the conduit includes a third open end portion which is located close to the top of the container and laterally inclined or opposed to the second open end portion.

With this arrangement a cost effective foam dispenser is provided which does not require complicated foaming elements in the flow path of the liquid. A mixture of fluids e.g liquid and air can be ejected from the container simply by squeezing the container. The provision of openings at the top and bottom of the container allow the device to function whether it is orientated upright (top above base) or inverted.

Further, as the second and third conduit openings are mutually laterally inclined or opposed the device also operate when it is tilted sideways.

The conduit may be branched, curved or kinked or a combination thereof to effect the relative orientation of the second and third conduit end portions.

The conduit may be curved or kinked in a section e.g. mid or upper section, so as to incline the second open end portion between 10-60 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the container, preferably 15-45 degrees, more preferably 15-30 degrees, even more preferably 20 degrees.

The third open end portion may extend from an upper section (ie. Toward the top of the container when it is orientated upright) of the conduit, e.g at right angles.

The conduit may have tee (T-shaped) configuration at the top, wherein the third open end portion branches off orthogonally from a main section of the conduit, preferably generally longitudinally aligned.

The top of the conduit may be offset from the central longitudinal axis.

The conduit may be in the form of or include a dip tube which may co-operate with a container closure or cap also provided.

The container may be flexible by means of one or more flexible portions, and the invention is not restricted to an entirely flexible container. Rigid sections eg. Base, corners etc may be included e.g.for increasing strength.

A dispenser of this invention can have any shape suitable to portability and handling, without excluding any shape.

The cap of the dispenser of the invention can be of any shape, aimed at the function of closing the container after it has been filled with the liquid and allowing same to be dispensed.

The dispenser parts may be made of any material suitable for the purpose. A majority, if not all, of the parts are suitably made from polymeric material.

The dispensers according to the invention may be used for any liquid intended to be dispensed as a foam or mist. Examples are: edible liquids such as cream or milk, paint or cleaning liquids. They are particularly suitable for dispensing cleaning liquids as a foam. Such cleaning liquids generally contain a foaming surfactant, preferably in completely dissolved form. They may also contain other components known in the art as components of cleaning liquids. They may even contain solid particulate matter provided it is in stable suspension in the liquid.

Preferred, however, are cleaning liquids that do not contain any undissolved solid matter.

Non-limiting embodiments of the invention are outlined below with reference to the drawings attached hereto.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic diagram of one embodiment of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a dispenser 1 for dispensing a mixture of two or more fluids 2, 4, e.g. liquid 2 and gas i.e. air 4 as a foam and/or mist. The dispenser 1 comprises a flexible container 6 for containing the liquid and includes a conduit 8 comprising a dip tube 8a having first and second end portions 11,12 the first end portion 11 terminating in an opening in the container 6 through which the mixture 2, 4 is expelled from the container and the second open end portion 12 being close to the base 14 of said container 6, wherein the conduit 8 includes a third open end portion 13 which is located close to the top 16 of the container 6 and laterally inclined or opposed to the second open end portion 12.

With this arrangement a cost effective foam dispenser is provided which does not require complicated foaming elements in the flow path of the liquid. A mixture of fluids e.g liquid and air can be ejected from the container simply by squeezing the container. The provision of openings at the top and bottom of the container allow the device to function whether it is orientated upright (with central longitudinal axis upright, and top above base) or inverted (base above top).

Further, as the second and third conduit openings 12, 13 are laterally opposed the dispenser 1 also operates when it is tilted sideways.

The conduit is kinked or bent (at Y) generally in its upper section 18, so as to incline the second open end portion 12 approximately 20 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the container 6.

The third open end portion 13 extend from an upper section 18 (ie. Toward the top of the container when it is orientated upright) of the conduit 8, e.g at right angles. The conduit may have tee (T-shaped) configuration at the top, wherein the third open end portion branches off orthogonally from a main section of the conduit, preferably generally longitudinally aligned.

The conduit comprises a dip tube in co-operation with the container closure 20 having dispensing opening 22.

The container is flexible by means of a generally flexible body portion 24. However certain sections e.g. the base 26 and optionally corner portions may have increased rigidity e.g.for increasing strength.

The dispenser parts may be made of any material suitable for the purpose. A majority, if not all, of the parts are suitably made from polymeric material.

In use, the dispenser 1 is filled with liquid 2 to leave a head space of air 4.

The container is then simply compressed by squeezing the body portion 24 to expel the liquid/air mixture from the container.

It will be clear one skilled in the art, with the aid of the text and the figures presented herein, that there are many possible alternative embodiments permitted by this invention without departing from the scope of protection provided by the following claims.