Title:
Balloon kit and method of assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A balloon and kit assembly includes an inflatable balloon having a port for inflating the balloon and a holder assembly including a tube and a base. The tube has an upper end designed to be selectively mated with the inflatable port and a lower end which may be used to inflate the balloon and to then be mated with the base in order to hold and display the balloon. The kit also includes a colorful tinsel assembly mountable on the tube.



Inventors:
Chou, Chen Hui Linda (Parlin, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/502649
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/10/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HENRY I. SCHANZER, ESQ (EDISON, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. a balloon kit comprising: an inflatable balloon having an inflating port and an inflating assembly attached to the inflating port for enabling the balloon to be inflated; a base having a top end and a bottom surface for enabling the base to be securely mounted on a selected surface; an elongated tube having a top end for securely mating with the inflating assembly and having a bottom end for enabling fluid to be injected into the bottom end of the tube and via the tube into said inflating assembly; and the bottom end of said tube being shaped for mating with the top end of the base for securely holding the balloon in an upright position, when the balloon is inflated and the tube mates with the inflating assembly.

2. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 1, further including a decorative cone extending along the tube and mountable along the tube, prior to the tube being mated with the base. .

3. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 2, further including means for holding the decorative cone securely in place along the tube.

4. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 1, wherein the bottom surface of the base includes at least one of suction and adhesive means for securing the bottom surface of the base to a selected surface when the tube is secured to the base and a balloon is attached to the top end of the tube.

5. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 1, wherein said balloon is formed of a material which inhibits a gas contained within the balloon cavity from escaping and wherein said inflatable assembly includes valve means for enabling a gas to flow into said balloon cavity to inflate the balloon while preventing the gas from escaping.

6. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 5, wherein said tube is selectively attachable and detachable from said balloon and said base.

7. A balloon kit as claimed in claim 1, wherein the balloon has a cavity to which is attached a neck portion which functions as an inflating port; and wherein the inflating assembly includes a hollow cylindrical pipe stem having an upper section, a mid section and a lower section, wherein the upper section is positioned within the cavity of the balloon, the neck portion is sealed to the mid section, and the lower section extends from the neck portion for coupling to the tube.

8. A method for displaying a decorative self supporting inflatable balloon having an inflating port in which an inflating assembly is positioned and part of which assembly extends externally from the end of the balloon comprising the steps of: mating the top end of an elongated tube with the part of the inflating assembly extending externally from the inflatable balloon; injecting a fluid into the bottom end of the tube for inflating the balloon to a desirable extent; and mating the bottom end of the tube with a base element, said base element having a bottom underside surface which may be selectively secured to a selected surface.

9. A method for displaying a decorative self supporting inflatable balloon as claimed in claim 7, further including the step of sliding a decorative cone along the outer periphery of the tube so it extends along the tube.

10. A balloon kit comprising an inflatable balloon having an inflating port, a hollow tube having an upper end attachable to the inflating port for inflating the balloon and having a bottom end for mounting the tube into a base designed to enable the balloon and tube assembly to be firmly positioned on a multiplicity of different surfaces and to support the tube and balloon assembly in an upright and erect position to display the balloon.

Description:

This application claims priority from a provisional application titled BALLOON KIT AND METHOD OF ASSEMBLY bearing Ser. No. 60/707,586 filed Aug. 12, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to balloons and to a balloon packaging kit which includes various components for: (a) enabling the balloon to be inflated and/or re-inflated; (b) placing the balloon in, or on, a selected location; and (c) selectively adding decorations to the balloon.

It is an object of the invention to enable a balloon to be easily filled and/or refilled and to be securely displayed at selected locations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A kit embodying the invention includes a deflated balloon having an inflatable port, an elongated tube, a base and a decorative cone containing assorted decorations which may be mounted on the tube. The balloon is easily inflated by mating the upper (proximal) end of the tube to the inflatable port of the balloon and blowing a fluid into the lower (distal) end of the tube. After the balloon is inflated the balloon may be held upright by mating the distal end of the tube into the base designed for that purpose. Prior to mating the distal end of the tube with the base, the decorative cone may be mounted on, and along, the tube. The proximal end of the tube may be mated to the balloon by securely and firmly coupling the tube and the balloon, the coupling being of such a form that the two components may be selectively decoupled or detached. Likewise, when the distal end of the tube is mated to the base there is a secure and firm coupling of the tube and the base. This coupling is such that these two components may be selectively detached.

Balloons of the type intended for use in practicing the invention are popular as toy or novelty items. These balloons may be formed of stretchable materials (e.g., latex and plastic) or non-stretchable materials (e.g., nylon, mylar, or metal fibers). In accordance with the invention, the balloons are normally sold, or provided, to a user in a deflated and/or folded condition. The balloons may be inflated with air or any suitable gas (e.g., helium) or fluid.

A balloon kit embodying the invention includes an inflatable balloon of stretchable or non-stretchable material, a hollow tube having an upper end attachable to the balloon for inflating the balloon and having a bottom end for attaching the tube to a base designed to enable the balloon and tube assembly to be firmly located, or securely placed, on a multiplicity of different surfaces and to support the assembly so it can be displayed in an upright position.

A balloon embodying the invention has pouch (cavity) to which is attached a neck portion forming port for inflating the balloon. An inflating assembly for inflating the balloon is inserted within the neck portion of the balloon. The inflating port (i.e., the neck portion) is fixedly and sealingly attached to the inflating assembly for enabling the balloon cavity to be inflated with air or any suitable gas (e.g., helium) or fluid, until a desired pressure is reached. The inflating assembly may include means (e.g., self-sealing or one way valve) for preventing the fluid within the balloon from escaping. The balloon may be constructed of any material(s) which can expand (from a folded condition) when filled with air/gas/fluid and which will remain in its filled, expanded, condition for a substantial period of time. The balloon is filled via the inflating assembly and may include a valve which is designed to impede and/or prevent the fluid with which the balloon is filled from easily escaping and/or exiting the balloon.

In some embodiments, the inflating assembly includes a hollow cylindrical tubular element (also referred to herein as a “pipe stem” or “stub” to differentiate it form the “tube” used to hold up the balloon) having an upper section lying within the balloon cavity, a mid section passing within and along the neck of the balloon, and a lower section extending below the neck of the balloon. The neck of the balloon is crimped about the midsection and permanently and is sealingly attached to the mid section. The lower section extends generally below the balloon to enable a tube to be mated with the lower extending section (e.g., press fitted about the extending section or screwed into it, if so formed). In accordance with the invention, the lower extending member is made sufficiently long and of sufficient diameter and/or width so it extends a predetermined distance within the proximal end of the tube and provides a very tight (e.g., air tight) fit with the tube. This ensures that any fluid blown into the lower (distal) end of the tube flows into the hollow cylindrical inflating assembly and via the valve into the balloon. The balloon and inflating assembly can thus be selectively firmly attached to the tube, when so desired, while also being selectively detachable, when so desired (and subsequently re-attached, when so desired).

The tube, which may range in length from several inches to several feet, may be used to inflate and/or re-inflate the balloon by mating (pressing, urging or screwing) the upper (proximal) end of the tube onto and about the extending section of the inflating (valve) assembly and blowing fluid into the other (distal) end of the tube. The fluid then goes through the inflating assembly and fills the balloon. After the balloon is filled to a desired level, a user can mate (press fit or screw) the bottom (distal) end of the tube into a base, provided with the kit. The base is specially designed to securely support the tube and balloon assembly in an upright position. The base has an underside which is specially formed or treated (e.g., with Velcro, tape, suction, magnets) to allow the tube and balloon assembly to be firmly located and securely placed on virtually any desired surface.

To add to the attractiveness of the balloon, a decorative cone shaped holder containing an assortment of tinsel, glittering sheets and strips, is provided with the kit, which can be selectively mounted on the tube and moved along the tube to add decorations and/or messages to the balloon. In general, the tinsel, sheets and strips may have many differently shaped cut-outs (hearts, stars, clovers) attached to them to highlight the occasion being celebrated with the balloon(s).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying diagrams, which are not drawn to scale, like reference characters denote like components; and

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional diagram of a balloon with its inflating assembly and a funnel shaped collar overlying part of the inflating assembly and part of a tube mating with a lower extending section of the inflating assembly, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 1A is a cross sectional diagram of the balloon with its neck (inflating port) attached to the mid-section of the inflating assembly, prior to the attachment of a funnel shaped collar, and is intended to also illustrate that there is a very tight fit between the outer diameter of the lower extending section of the inflating assembly and the inner diameter of the tube in the region where they mate;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional diagram illustrating a balloon being held in an upright position by a tube whose bottom end is inserted into a base, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional diagram of the assembly of FIG. 2 with a decorative cone mounted along the tube in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 4A is a drawing of a balloon with a funnel shaped collar mounted around the bottom and neck region of the balloon and portion of the inflating assembly with dashed lines and also showing the proximal end of a tube mated to the lower section of the balloon's inflating assembly;

FIG. 4B is an isometric drawing of the funnel shaped collar intended to be mounted along the bottom and neck portion of the balloon;

FIG. 4C is a drawing of an elongated hollow cylindrical pipe segment (pipe stem) intended to be inserted into the inflatable port (neck) of the balloon having a lower, bottom section extending below the balloon for mating with a tube, a middle section to be attached to the neck of the balloon, and an upper section extending within the cavity of the balloon and which may include valve means for allowing fluid to be blown into the cavity while blocking the fluid from escaping;

FIG. 4D is intended to illustrate that the neck portion of the balloon is permanently attached and sealed to the middle section of the elongated stem;

FIG. 5A is a drawing showing an isometric view of a base member suitable for holding the tube and balloon assembly in an upright position;

FIG. 5B is a drawing showing the underside of the base member;

FIG. 5C is a drawing showing the distal end of a tube inserted into the orifice of the base member;

FIG. 6 is a drawing of tubes of different sizes which may be included in a balloon kit; and

FIG. 7 is a drawing of four components of a kit embodying the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The figures illustrate various views of the components of a balloon kit or package embodying the invention and their assembly. FIGS. 1 and 1A show a balloon 10 having an inflatable pouch (or cavity) and a neck 10b which functions as an inflatable port. The inflatable port is illustratively shown to be located at the bottom of the balloon, but it could be placed at any other point along the surfaces or edges of balloon 10. The balloon 10 for use in practicing the invention may be made of stretchable or non-stretchable material which can be filled with air (or helium or any appropriate gas or fluid) by blowing air/gas/fluid into the balloon via this inflatable port.

An assembly for inflating the balloon includes a hollow cylindrical tubular pipe segment (pipe stem) 101 (see FIG. 4C and 4D, in particular) having a mid section 101b to which the neck of the balloon is fixedly attached, sealed and bonded (see FIGS. 1A and 4D). The neck 10b may be crimped and folded over region 10b. The pipe stem 101 of the inflating assembly includes a section 101a extending for a length “L” below, and external to, the balloon and the main portion of the inflating assembly. The length L is selected to be sufficiently long so that it can extend a predetermined distance within and/or along the upper part of a tube 20. The outer diameter (d1) of section 101a is made to have a value almost equal to the inner diameter (d2) of the tube 20 (see FIG. 1A) to ensure that section 101a firmly mates with the upper (proximal) end of tube 20. Given the (air) tight fit between the tube and section 101a and selecting an appropriate length “L” for extension section 101a (e.g., L may range from less than ½ inch to more than 3 inches) ensures that once the balloon 10 is attached to, and mounted on, the tube 20, the tube-balloon assembly will not separate easily and/or inadvertently and that air blown into the distal end of tube 20 will pass through pipe stem 101.

A press fit between the tube 20 and extension member 101a has been shown. But, it should be understood that other modes of securing the tube to the pipe stem assembly 101 may be used (e.g., a screwing arrangement). In accordance with the invention, section 101a and the proximal end of tube 20 intended to mate with it may have different forms and shapes so long as the portion of extension section 101a can mate securely with the support tube 20 to form a tight connection, when attached, while allowing the two components to be selectively detached.

The balloon 10 may be inflated by mating the proximal end 20a of tube 20 with section 101a. Once the tube is firmly attached to section 101a, any suitable fluid may be blown into the distal (opposite) end 20b of the tube to inflate the balloon to the desired pressure level. The tight fit between the extending member 101a and the proximal end of tube 20 ensures that the air being blown into the tube will pass via the valve assembly into the balloon. After the balloon is so inflated, the distal end 20b may be inserted into a base 30, designed to hold the end of the tube 20. This is illustrated in FIG. 2 where the base/stand 30 supports and holds erect tube 20 on which is mounted a balloon 10.

The balloon 10, as shown in the figures, has an inflatable port (neck 10b) which is fixedly attached and sealed, or crimped/bound, to mid section 101b of stem 101 (see FIG. 4D and 1A). The apparatus for inflating the balloon includes stem 101 which, as shown in FIG. 4C, has a lower section 101a, a mid section 101b, and an upper section 101c. Section 101a extends below the balloon for mating with tube 20. Mid section 101b is the section around which the neck 10b of the balloon may be wrapped and fixedly and securely attached. So attached air can enter or exit the balloon 10 only through and along the aperture in hollow pipe stem 101. Section 101c extends within the chamber (pouch) of the balloon. In the figures, a valve 106 is shown connected to the upper end of section 101c to allow fluid to be blown into the balloon while blocking fluid from flowing out of the balloon 10. Various types of valves may be used to prevent any appropriate fluid used to fill the balloon from escaping from the balloon. In a particular embodiment, the valve 106 includes two thin plastic sheets which allow fluid to pass from the pipe stem into the balloon cavity but which close upon each other and block any fluid from flowing back and out.

A funnel shaped collar 103 (see FIG. 1 and 4A) is fixedly placed over (and covers) the mid section 101 b and the neck portion 10b of the balloon. The collar 103 includes a conic region 104 which subtends the neck portion of the balloon and a hollow cylindrical region 105, which extends below region 104, which covers and extends along region 101b and compresses the underlying balloon end 10b connected to section 101b. Thus, as particularly shown in FIGS. 1 and 4A, the funnel shaped collar 103 is mounted over the end 10b of the balloon and region 101b of the stem to hold these components securely in place and protect them from being damaged, while masking the crimping of balloon neck 10b.

Section 101a of pipe stem 101 is shown to extend in a downward direction below the bottom of collar region 105. The pipe stem 101 is designed to enable any suitable fluid to be blown into the balloon 10 and includes a valve 106 to then block the fluid in the balloon from escaping. The length “L” of section 101a may be increased to extend further within and along the tube 20 to provide greater and more rigid support when the tube 20 is press fitted over section 101a.

Tube 20 shown in the figures is a hollow, rigid, generally cylindrical tube having opposite ends 20a, 20b. One of the functions of the tube is to act like a straw for inflating the balloon and it may be made of plastic and/or any material, so long as it is sufficiently sturdy to hold and/or support the air/fluid filled balloon. The tube 20 may be symmetrical and ends 20a (proximal) and 20b (distal) may be interchangeable. However, that need not be the case. The requirement is that tube be of the correct size and shape such that its proximal end can mate securely with extension member 101a (and vice-versa) and its distal end can mate securely with the base 30. In the figures, tube 20 is urged at its proximal end onto extension 101a and at its distal end onto base 30. At its upper (proximal) end tube 20 mates (mesh) with the insert 101a and preferably forms a relatively air tight connection. Alternatively, extension 101a may be made to have a square or oblong outer surface, in which case the inner diameter of the upper portion of tube 20 would then be made to conform to the outer shape of the insert 101a. As shown in FIG. 6, the tube 20 may be made to have different lengths (heights) and may be formed with different diameters to fit different sized orifices. In some instances the distal end 20b of the tube may be made such that it can be inserted into the ground or like substance. The tube 20 may also be formed with different telescopic sections so its height can be selectively increased or decreased.

Typically the balloon is packaged and sold in a deflated condition. A user of the balloon may inflate the balloon by first forcing/pressing the proximal end 20a of a tube 20 over the portion 101a of stem 101 and blowing air/fluid into the distal end 20b of tube 20. Thus, tube 20 is used to inflate the balloon. Once the balloon is inflated by blowing air/fluid into the balloon, the proximal end 20a of tube 20 may be kept attached to the balloon end while the other, distal, end 20b of tube 20 may be inserted into orifice 305 of a base 30. Note that where the distal end of tube 20 is force fitted into the base 30 and if an air tight connection is made, the tube and base assembly acts to prevent air/fluid from escaping from the balloon assembly and can then function as a valve.

The stand, or base, 30 as shown in the Figures, and in particular in FIGS. 5A-5C, has an underside 301 on which is formed an inverted cone with sloping sides 303 ending in a vertical hollow stub 304 for producing an orifice 305 into which the distal end of tube 20 can be mounted. The underside or bottom 301 of the stand 30 is made sufficiently large to provide a stable support for the balloon mounted via a tube into orifice 305. The bottom surface 301 may be formed of any material which can adhere to an underlying surface. The bottom may include one or more layers 307 of single or double sided tape. The underside may include a layer of Velcro, or may be a suction cup or tape or magnets, or any suitable substance or any means to selectively and firmly attach the bottom of the stand 30 to a desired surface. Obviously, the stand 30 may be selectively detached from one site and re-attached to another surface at any selected location to preferably display the balloon in an upright position.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, a significant aspect of the invention is the addition of a decorative cone 40. Decorative cone 40 includes a conic cup to hold assorted dangling tinsels and elongated strips or thin sheets and objects extending up towards the balloon surface. Cone 40 is designed to be mounted on tube 20 and can be readily moved up and down along the tube. A portion of tube 20 may be roughened or extended (see dashed lines 301 in FIG. 3) to provide more traction and/or support to hold the decorative cone in place. FIG. 7 is intended to illustrate that a kit embodying the invention includes at least one balloon 10 with its stem 101, a tube 20, a base 30, and a decorative cone 40. FIG. 3 illustrates how the components of the kit would be assembled. As already noted, a user can easily connect the proximal end of tube 20 to the pipe stem 101 of a deflated balloon. The user can then blow air into the distal end of tube 20 and then slide a decorative cone over the tube 20 and then attach the distal end of tube 20 to the base 30 (or just hold on to tube 20).

Any desirable message or image may be printed on the balloon, as is known in the art. The decorative cone 40 may include different shaped cut-outs attached to the tinsel to enhance the message and occasion associated with the image or message on the balloon. For example, tinsel with hearts to mark Valentine's Day, stars and clubs for birthdays and to wish a speedy recovery. Thus, as shown in the figures, each kit may come packaged for easy distribution and subsequent assembly and display.

The components shown are for purpose of illustration and it should be understood that the invention may include variations of what has been shown.