Title:
Flexible multi-compartment packet and method for making the same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Flexible, multi-compartment packets and methods for making the same are described. One described packet includes a a flexible front sheet, and a flexible back sheet having substantially the same size and shape as the flexible front sheet, the flexible back sheet joined to the flexible front sheet to form a peelable packet having a first compartment and a second compartment. The first compartment of the packet is configured to substantially contain a material, and the second compartment is configured to contain at least part of an applicator for applying the material. In one described packet, the applicator has two ends and a shaft. The first end is contained in the first compartment, the second end is contained in the second compartment, and the seal between the first and second compartments is formed around the shaft of the applicator.



Inventors:
Patrick, Michael K. (Greensboro, MD, US)
Speicher, Jeffrey R. (Madison, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/398391
Publication Date:
12/21/2006
Filing Date:
04/05/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/219, 206/363
International Classes:
B65D71/00; B65D25/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20050252820Sampling kits, devices and uses thereofNovember, 2005Sanchez-felix et al.
20030029736Contact lens packageFebruary, 2003Phillips et al.
20070187274Clamshell package for holding and displaying consumer productsAugust, 2007Dalea et al.
20080296189Scrap Book Storage Device and SystemDecember, 2008Walters
20060076260Container and lid with multiple chambers and related methodsApril, 2006Luburic
20100051485RETAIL DISPLAY OF FLAT ROLL GIFT WRAP PRODUCTSMarch, 2010Morrissey et al.
20030234192Optical disc case structureDecember, 2003Yang et al.
20060151348RACK-HUNG LOADABLE DEBIT CARD PACKAGEJuly, 2006Willard
20050000833Radiator packaging systemJanuary, 2005Nettleton
20040118711Water soluble containers comprising at least two compartmentsJune, 2004Duffield



Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - Winston-Salem (Atlanta, GA, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed:

1. A flexible multi-compartment packet, comprising: a flexible front sheet; and a flexible back sheet having substantially the same size and shape as the flexible front sheet, the flexible back sheet joined to the flexible front sheet to form a peelable packet having a first compartment and a second compartment, wherein the first compartment is configured to substantially contain a material and the second compartment is configured to contain at least part of an applicator for applying the material.

2. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the flexible front sheet and the flexible back sheet are part of a single flexible sheet that has been folded to create the flexible front sheet and flexible back sheet.

3. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the flexible front sheet and flexible back sheet are joined by one or more seals.

4. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein, the flexible front sheet comprises a first side and a second side, which are parallel to one another, and a third and a fourth side, which are parallel to one another and perpendicular to the first side and the second side.

5. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 4, further comprising a first seal extending between the corresponding first and second sides of the front flexible sheet and the second flexible sheet to form the first compartment.

6. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 5, wherein the first seal resembles the letter “V.”

7. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the first and second compartment are substantially the same size.

8. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the applicator extends from the second compartment into the first compartment.

9. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 8, wherein the applicator comprises a shaft and wherein a seal between the first flexible sheet and second flexible sheet extends around the shaft of the applicator.

10. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 9, wherein the shaft comprises a first end and a second end, the first end at least partially covered by a tip, the shaft extending from the second compartment into the first compartment, the first end contained within the first compartment, and the second end contained in the second compartment.

11. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 10, wherein the tip comprises at least one of cotton, foam, or rayon.

12. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the material comprises one of a liquid, a gel, a solid, or a powder.

13. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the material comprises one of a burn ointment, a tooth whitener, or a makeup product.

14. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the applicator is completely contained within the second compartment.

15. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the applicator comprises one of a cotton ball, a gauze pad, foam pad, or a sponge.

16. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 1, wherein the flexible front sheet and the flexible back sheet comprise a peelable film.

17. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 16, wherein the peelable film comprises a lidding film.

18. A method of manufacturing a flexible multi-compartment packet, the method comprising: partially sealing two layers of multilayered film to create a first compartment and a second compartment, the first compartment having a fill opening defined by the seal between the first compartment and the second compartment; injecting a material into the first compartment; sealing the two layers of multilayered film to close the fill opening; inserting an applicator into the second compartment; and completing the seal between the two layers of multilayered film complete the packet.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the applicator comprises a shaft and further comprising before sealing the two layers of multilayered film to close the fill opening, inserting a first end of the applicator through the fill opening into the first compartment and wherein sealing the two layers of multilayered film to close the fill opening comprises sealing the two layers of multilayered film across the shaft of the applicator.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein partially sealing the two layers of multilayered film comprises folding the multilayered film.

21. The method of claim 18, further comprising cutting the multilayered film to complete the multi-compartment packet.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein cutting the multilayered film to complete the multi-compartment packet comprises die cutting the packet to form a pre-defined shape.

23. The method of claim 18, further comprising perforating the packet.

24. The method of claim 18, further comprising cutting a hang hole into the packet.

25. The method of claim 18, further comprising stamping a date on the packet.

26. The method of claim 18, further comprising sterilizing the packet.

27. The method of claim 18, wherein sealing the packet comprises applying a metal tool to the packet.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein the metal tool comprises two surfaces, each of the two surfaces having a layer of rubber capable of sealing the multilayer film around a shaft of an applicator.

29. A flexible multi-compartment packet, comprising: a flexible front sheet; and a flexible back sheet having substantially the same size and shape as the flexible front sheet, the flexible back sheet joined to the flexible front sheet to form a peelable packet having a first compartment and a second compartment, a surgical instrument having a shaft, a first end, and a second end, the first end contained in the first compartment and the second end contained in the second compartment, and the shaft extending through a seal between the first compartment and the second compartment.

30. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 29, wherein the surgical instrument comprises an applicator.

31. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 30, wherein the first end of the applicator comprises a tip.

32. The flexible multi-compartment packet of claim 31, wherein the tip comprises at least one of cotton, foam, or rayon.

33. A method of manufacturing a flexible multi-compartment packet, the method comprising: partially sealing two layers of multilayered film to create a first compartment and a second compartment, the first compartment having a fill opening defined by the seal between the first compartment and the second compartment; inserting a surgical instrument having a first end, a second end, and a shaft through the fill opening such that the first end is in the first compartment, and the second end is in the second compartment; sealing the two layers of multilayered film around the shaft of the surgical instrument to close the fill opening; and completing the seal between the two layers of multilayered film complete the packet.

34. The method of claim 33, wherein surgical instrument comprises an applicator swab.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/669,098, entitled “FLEXIBLE MULTI-COMPARTMENT PACKET,” which was filed on Apr. 7, 2005 as attorney docket no. 51437-314886, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to product packaging. The present invention relates more particularly to a flexible, multi-compartment packet.

BACKGROUND

Peelable packages are utilized in a variety of consumer and health-care applications. For example, breakfast bars are commonly packaged in a peelable packet. Sterilized medical kits are also often sealed in peelable package.

One use of peelable packages is for barrier lotion for the treatment of bedsores. The conventional packet includes a swab and the barrier lotion. When a caregiver opens the package, the lotion often covers not only the applicator tip of the swab but the handle as well. When the caregiver or the patient applies the barrier lotion, the barrier lotion ends up on their fingers.

Often, a caregiver in a medical environment wears protective gloves, obviating the problem of residue on their hands. However, as these peelable packages become more prevalent, the consumer is often the person applying the product in the packet. And the consumer is unlikely to wear gloves.

One approach to avoiding this problem would be to maintain the package in an upright position. However, maintaining the package in an upright position is often not practical given the shape and use of these packets.

Other types of packaging are used for liquids, gels, and other materials that are applied with an applicator, such as a swab. For instance, some of these products are packaged with an applicator built into the cap. This approach avoids the problem of spreading the product on the consumer's hands; however, each use of the applicator brings with it a chance of contaminating the product. For example, when a tooth-whitening product is used, each time the tooth whitener is applied and the applicator is dipped back in solution, germs from the consumer's mouth are transferred into the solution.

Other packages include separately wrapped applicators. With such a package, the consumer must take care not to lose the applicators. Further, accurately predicting the number of applicators that will be used may be difficult, resulting in too many or too few applicators being supplied.

SUMMARY

An embodiment of the present invention provides a flexible, multi-compartment packet and method for making the same. One embodiment of the present invention comprises a flexible front sheet, and a flexible back sheet having substantially the same size and shape as the flexible front sheet, the flexible back sheet joined to the flexible front sheet to form a peelable packet having a first compartment and a second compartment. The first compartment of the packet is configured to substantially contain a material, and the second compartment is configured to contain at least part of an applicator for applying the material. In one embodiment, the applicator comprises two ends and a shaft, wherein the first end is contained in the first compartment, the second end is contained in the second compartment, and the seal between the first and second compartments is formed around the shaft of the applicator.

These embodiments are mentioned not to limit or define the invention, but to provide examples of embodiments of the invention to aid understanding thereof. Embodiments are discussed in the Detailed Description, and further description of the invention is provided there. Advantages offered by the various embodiments of the present invention may be further understood by examining this specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention are better understood when the following Detailed Description is read with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible multi-compartment packet according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view along line 1-1 of a flexible multi-compartment packet similar to the one shown in FIG. 1 in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view along line 1-1 of another flexible multi-compartment packet similar to the one shown in FIG. 1 in one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a laid-open sterile procedural kit according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating one method for manufacturing a flexible multi-compartment packet according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a flexible multi-compartment packet. Illustrative embodiments are described below.

First Aid Packet

In one illustrative embodiment, a flexible multi-compartment packet is configured to contain a liquid burn ointment and an applicator swab. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible multi-compartment packet in one embodiment of the present invention.

The packet 100 shown comprises two sheets of multilayer material, a first sheet 102 and a second sheet 104. The film shown in FIG. 1 is a multi-layer, peelable, heat sealable film typically used for lidding applications, such as those used on yogurt cups. Other suitable films may be utilized by an embodiment of the present invention, including any suitable peeling film.

The two sheets 102, 104 are formed into a packet and are sealed at a first side 106, a second side 108, and a third side 110 by a form, fill, and seal machine. The two sheets 102, 104 are also sealed between sides 106 and 108 at a point 112 along the sides to form a first compartment 114. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the seal 112 is in the shape of the letter “v.” In other embodiments, the seal 112 may take other shapes, such as a straight or curved line between the sides 106, 108.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the first compartment 114 is configured to substantially contain a liquid, such as a burn ointment. While the first compartment is configured to substantially contain the liquid, some seepage may occur between the first and second compartments. Other types of material, including, for example, gels, solids, and powders, may also be contained in the first compartment 114.

The first sheet 102 and second sheet 104 are also sealed at a third seal 116, creating a second compartment 118. The seals 112, 116 on the packet 100 shown in FIG. 1 are peelable. In other words, a consumer can pull the seals apart using a force.

The packet 100 shown in FIG. 1 also includes an applicator swab (not shown). The swab includes a shaft with a cotton tip at one end. The end of the swab with the cotton tip extends into the first compartment. The other end of the swab is contained in the second compartment 118. The shaft of the swab is sealed at seal 112, i.e., the seal 112 extends around the shaft. Seal 112 provides a leak-proof seal around the shaft to contain the liquid burn ointment in the first compartment. In such an embodiment, waste of the burn ointment is kept to a minimum since the ointment is not spread on the side of the swab to be grasped by a user. It may be possible to use less material in the first compartment 114 than would otherwise be necessary. Also, such packaging may avoid compromising the sterility of the ointment by, for example, transmitting bacteria along the swab.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view along line 1-1 of a flexible multi-compartment packet similar to the one shown in FIG. 1 in one embodiment of the present invention. The packet 200 includes a front sheet 202 and a back sheet 204. The two sheets 202, 204 are sealed at a first side 206 and at a second point 208. The seals 206, 208 form a first compartment 210. The sheets 202, 204 are also sealed at a second end 212, forming a second compartment 214 between seal 212 and seal 208. As described above, the seals 206, 208, and 212 are peelable seals. The peelable seals may extend along the sides of the packet 200.

The packet 200 also includes an applicator swab 216. The applicator swab 216 includes a shaft having a first end 218 and a second end 220. The shaft may be of any suitable shape including cylindrical or substantially flat. In some embodiments, a flat shaft may be easier to seal around. Also, while the applicator swab 216 shown in FIG. 2 is in approximately the center of the packet and aligned with the axis of the packet, in other embodiments the applicator swab 216 may be off to one side or the other or diagonal within the package.

The second end 220 of the applicator swab 216 shown in FIG. 2 includes a cotton tip 222. Although a cotton tip is shown, any suitable material, including, for example, foam or rayon, may be used for the tip. The second end 220 and cotton tip 222 are contained in the first compartment 210. The first compartment 210 also contains the liquid burn ointment (not shown). The seal 208 seals around the shaft of the applicator swab 216, minimizing seepage of the burn ointment from the first compartment 210 to the second compartment 214. In some embodiments, the seal between the first compartment 210 and the second compartment 214 may prevent seepage between the two.

When a consumer wishes to use the burn ointment, the consumer peels the seal 212 to access the end 218 of the applicator swab 216 opposite the cotton tip 222. The consumer then pulls the applicator swab 216 out of compartment 210, breaking the seal 208 at the center. Alternatively, the consumer may pull the sheets 202, 204 apart so that the mid-seal 208 is separated somewhat at the center. The cotton tip 222 is immersed in the burn ointment in compartment 210. Thus, when the applicator swab 216 is withdrawn, the cotton tip 222 is saturated with burn ointment.

As the consumer applies the burn ointment, the cotton tip 222 becomes unsaturated. The consumer may reinsert the applicator swab 216 into the first compartment 210 to again saturate the cotton tip 222 and apply additional burn ointment. By providing the seal 208, the packet 200 helps to keep the first end 218 of the applicator swab 216 dry so that the consumer does not have burn ointment on her hand and prevents the consumer from contaminating the burn ointment before the seal 208 is broken.

This introduction is given to introduce the reader to the general subject matter of the application. By no means is the invention limited to such subject matter. Other illustrative embodiments are described below.

Other Illustrative Packets

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view along line 1-1 of another flexible multi-compartment packet similar to the one shown in FIG. 1 in one embodiment of the present invention. The packet 300 shown in FIG. 3 comprises two sheets, a front sheet 302 and a rear sheet 304. As with the packet shown in FIG. 2, the sheets 302, 304 shown are sealed at a first end 306 and at another point 308 along the edge of the first 302 and second sheet 304, forming a first compartment 310.

The first compartment contains a liquid, gel, powder, solid, or other type of material, such as a liquid band-aid, antiseptic, burn ointment, tooth-whitener, makeup product, or other material. In the embodiment shown, the compartment 310 holds approximately 0.5-1 milliliters of liquid or gel or a corresponding volume of powder or solid. Other embodiments of the present invention are configured to contain different volumes of material. For instance, one embodiment of the present invention is configured to contain 10 milliliters of fluid in the compartment 310.

The sheets 302, 304 shown in FIG. 3 are three-layer sheets. The outer layer is a varnish or finish layer. The middle layer is a foil. And the inner layer is the sealing layer. One or more adhesives bond the three layers of the film to the adjacent layer or layers.

The inner layer has the lowest melting point of the three layers. Thus, when the multilayer film is heated, the inner layer melts and forms a seal without destroying the integrity of the rest of the film. The inner layer also prevents chemicals in the packet from corroding the foil. The foil provides a light, moisture, and vapor barrier. Other types of film may be used, depending on, for example, the type of material to be contained in the packet. For instance, particular types of inner layers may be used to effectively contain the material placed in the compartment 310.

The seal 308 may be at any point along the edge of the sheets 302, 304. For instance, the seal 308 may be at a point that is approximately equidistant from the seal 306 at one edge of the sheets 302, 304 and the seal 312 at the other edge of those sheets. The seal 308 may be referred to a mid-seal or center seal. However, a mid-seal is merely between the two edges and not limited to a position equidistant from the two edges where the two seals 306, 312 are located. If the mid-seal is at the mid-point, the two compartments will be of substantially the same size.

The sheets 302, 304 are also sealed at a second end 312, forming a second compartment 314 between seal 312 and seal 308. The seals 308, 312 are peelable seals. Although the seal 312 is shown at one end of the two sheets 302, 304, the seal 312 may be at a position other than the end of the sheets 302, 304. For example, a small portion of the sheets 302, 304 on the opposite side of the seal 312 from the compartment 314 may be unsealed to provide a consumer with material to grasp in order to peel the two sheets 302, 304 apart.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the second compartment 314 comprises a cotton or synthetic applicator 316, such as a cotton ball, foam pad, a sponge, or sterile gauze pad. The applicator 316 is kept separate from the material contained in the first compartment 310 by the mid-seal 308. The applicator is thus kept clean and dry until the mid-seal 308 is broken.

Sterile Procedural Kit

One embodiment of the present invention provides a sterile procedural kit. FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a laid-open sterile procedural kit according to one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a sterile procedural kit 400 comprises two multilayered sheets 402 and 404. The sheets 402, 404 have a seal 406 one end. Although the sterile procedural kit 400 is shown laid open, before opening, the sheets 402, 404 are also sealed at the perimeter ending at a seal 412. The film extending beyond the seal 412, opposite the end seal 406, provides an area for a user of the kit 400 to grasp to separate the seal 412.

The sheets 402, 404 are also sealed at a mid point, mid-seal 408, forming a first compartment 410 between the mid-seal 408 and the end seal 406 and a second compartment 414 between the mid-seal 408 and the seal 412.

The sterile procedural kit 400 shown in FIG. 4 also comprises a surgical instrument, which is a swab 416 in the embodiment shown. The swab 416 has a first end 418, which is located in the second compartment 414 before the kit is laid open. The swab also has a second end 420 that includes a tip 422. The second end 420 and tip 422 are contained in the first compartment 410 before the kit 400 is laid open. The tip 422 may be pre-moistened. The swab 416 is affixed to the second sheet 414 at a point 424 in the mid-seal 408. Thus, the mid-seal 408 not only isolates the tip 422 but also stabilizes the swab 416 when the kit 400 is laid open. Although the point 424 is approximately equidistant from the sides of the sheets 402, 404, in other embodiments, the point 424 may be closer to one side or the other.

When a physician, clinician or other caregiver opens the kit 400, unless the kit 400 were sterilized on the outside, the user would be contaminating their hands by opening the kit, necessitating the inclusion of a secondary sterile pouch. In contrast, in an embodiment of the present invention, the sterile procedural kit may be laid open in preparation for a procedure on, for example, an instrument tray without the need for a secondary sterile pouch for the swab.

Methods of Manufacturing an Illustrative Packet

Various methods may be utilized to manufacture a flexible multi-compartment packet according to embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating one method for manufacturing a flexible multi-compartment packet according to one embodiment of the present invention. The process 500 shown begins when a section of multilayered film is folded 502. The film may be, for example, a portion of a roll of film. The film is folded so that one piece of film becomes two sheets as shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. In some embodiments, individual sheets are oriented face-to-face and cut to size. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the two sheets are approximately rectangular in shape after folding.

The sheets are next sealed at one end 504. For example, in one embodiment, rectangular heating bars are applied to a first end of the sheets to melt the inner layer of the multilayered film to create the seal. The sheets are also sealed at two edges 504. The edges are parallel to one another and perpendicular to the end sealed in step 502.

In some embodiments of the present invention, a material, such as a liquid, is inserted in a first compartment formed when the mid-seal is created. The process 500 shown in FIG. 5 next determines whether a material is to be inserted 508. If so, the material is inserted 510. For example, if a liquid is to be inserted, the sheets, which are sealed on three ends, are oriented so that the end seal is at the bottom. An injector is then used to inject a measured amount of the liquid into the compartment through a fill opening.

The process 500 next determines whether an applicator is to be inserted in the mid-seal 512 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. If so, an applicator is inserted such that when the mid seal is created, a first end of the applicator will be contained in the first compartment, a second end will be contained in a second compartment, and the shaft of the applicator will be sealed at the mid-seal. In such an embodiment, the first end is inserted through the fill opening.

The mid-seal is then created 518. The mid-seal may be created in the same manner as the end seal created in step 504. The mid-seal forms the first compartment, not allowing any material inserted in the first compartment to escape.

The process 500 shown in FIG. 5 next determines whether an applicator is to be inserted in the second compartment 520. The second compartment is formed between the mid-seal and another seal. If the applicator is to be inserted, it is inserted 522. The applicator in such an embodiment is contained within the second compartment and substantially isolated from the material in the first compartment. Such an applicator is illustrated in FIG. 3.

Once the applicator and material have been inserted, another seal is created 524. This completes the packet. The seals may be created using conventional means, such as, for example, by using a peelable film, such as a lidding film. The sealed film is then cut, forming the individual packet.

Additional steps may be performed on the packet. In one embodiment, the packet is die cut into a desired shape (e.g., create oversized outer seals and the cut through them). In another embodiment, a set of packets is perforated rather than cut. In another embodiment, a hang-hole is punched in the packet. In yet another embodiment, a date is stamped on the package. In one embodiment, the packet is sterilized using a radiation sterilization process after the packaging process in a separate operation.

In one method for manufacturing a flexible multi-compartment package, a metal tool is used to affect the seals. The metal tool is set to a temperature of approximately 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit. The dwell is set to between approximately 0.5 and 0.6 seconds. The pressure is set at approximately 6-8 psi on a 4″ air cylinder with a spring return function. The net pressure on the film is equal to the cylinder pressure less the force of the return spring.

Multiple layers of rubber are affixed to the surfaces of the heating tool such that the layers of rubber are able to slide against one another. Thus the rubber is able to form the film around the handle of the applicator, e.g., the swab, or any three-dimensional object without ripping or tearing the film, which would ruin the packet.

While one method of manufacturing a flexible, multi-compartment packet has been described above, many other methods of manufacture will be apparent to one of skill in the art of packet manufacturing.

General

The foregoing description of the embodiments of the invention has been presented only for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Numerous modifications and adaptations thereof will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.





 
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