Title:
PACKAGING SYSTEM WITH AN IMPROVED LOCK AND RELEASE MECHANISM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A package includes a slide card that can be releasably locked in an outer sleeve. The slide card includes an engaging tab that provides part of a locking mechanism that is used to lock the slide card in the outer sleeve. A support element is positioned and secured to the slide card to maintain the resilience of the slide card at a hinged connection between the engaging tab and a base panel along a fold line. The support element is dimensioned and positioned to define a minimum angle between the engaging tab and the base panel. Thereby, the resiliency of the slide card is not compromised as the engaging tab is repeatedly folded or depressed toward the base panel.



Inventors:
Hession, Christopher J. (Richmond, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/536412
Publication Date:
03/29/2007
Filing Date:
09/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D83/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PRANGE, SHARON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTROCK COMPANY (Richmond, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A slide card that can be releasably locked in an outer sleeve, said slide card comprising: a base panel; an engaging tab hingedly connected to said base panel along a fold line; a support element secured to one of said engaging tab and said base panel; wherein said support element is dimensioned and positioned so as to be disposed between said base panel and said engaging tab when said slide card is folded along said fold line.

2. The slide card of claim 1, wherein said support element is secured to said slide card by means for securing.

3. The slide card of claim 2, wherein said slide card includes a blister pack and said support element is integral to said blister pack.

4. The slide card of claim 1, wherein said support element provides an angle between said base panel and said engaging tab.

5. The slide card of claim 1, wherein the slide card includes a plurality of support elements, each of said support elements being secured to one of said base panel and said engaging tab.

6. The slide card of claim 5, wherein support elements are secured to both said base panel and said engaging tab, wherein at least one support element secured to said base panel contacts at least one support element secured to said engaging tab to provide an angle between said base panel and said engaging tab.

7. A package, comprising: an outer sleeve; a slide card that can be releasably locked in said outer sleeve, said slide card comprising: a base panel; an engaging tab hingedly connected to said base panel along a fold line; a support element being secured to one of said engaging tab and said base panel; wherein said support element is dimensioned and positioned so as to be disposed between said base panel and said engaging tab when said engaging tab is folded along said fold line.

8. The slide card of claim 7, wherein said support element is secured to said slide card by means for securing.

9. The slide card of claim 8, wherein said slide card includes a blister pack and said support element is integral to said blister pack.

10. The slide card of claim 7, wherein said support element provides an angle between said base panel and said engaging tab.

11. The slide card of claim 7, wherein the slide card includes a plurality of support elements, each of said support elements being secured to one of said base panel and said engaging tab.

12. The slide card of claim 11, wherein support elements are secured to both said base panel and said engaging tab, wherein at least one support element secured to said base panel contacts at least one support element secured to said engaging tab to define an angle between said base panel and said engaging tab.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 60/721,409, filed Sep. 28, 2005, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a packaging system for packaging and dispensing articles, and more specifically to a packaging system that includes an improved lock and release mechanism for releasably locking an internal slide card in an outer sleeve.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A known packaging system for packaging blisters packs and/or other articles includes a slide card that is received in an outer sleeve. In certain applications, a blister pack is secured, mounted, or integral to the slide card. Such a packaging system is a convenient packaging format for certain pharmaceutical applications because the slide card can be repeatedly removed from and returned to the outer sleeve, for example, to dispense unit doses from a blister pack. The packaging system is also child resistant in that the slide card can be retained within the outer sleeve by a locking mechanism and released from the outer sleeve by a release mechanism. Operation of the release mechanism in order to release the slide card from the outer sleeve requires a set of actions that are counter-intuitive to a child.

Child resistance is a feature particularly desired for pharmaceutical packaging and, with regard to certain products, is mandated by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. For example, to achieve a desired child resistance (CR) rating of F=1, the number of subject packages that are compromised by children of a specific age may not exceed a pre-set failure rate. This general guideline is designed to ensure that the package has sufficient integrity against tampering by children.

Although many packaging systems include child-resistant locking features, the locking mechanism of some packaging systems includes elements that are constructed from materials that may deform or lose their resiliency with repeated use. In such packaging systems the locking mechanism may not properly engage or can be disengaged to remove the slide card from the outer sleeve without properly operating the release mechanism, thereby inadvertently allowing access to the blister pack and/or other articles therein.

Accordingly, there remains in the art a need for a packaging system that facilitates easy access to articles by the intended user and that has an improved locking mechanism so as to be less susceptible to manipulation by an unintended user, such as a child.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the deficiencies of the known art and the problems that remain unsolved, by providing a packaging system that includes an improved slide card which is received in an outer sleeve. The improved slide card includes a support element that is disposed between a base panel and an engaging tab of the slide card as the engaging tab is folded along a hinge that connects the engaging tab and the base panel. The engaging tab is an element of a locking mechanism for locking the slide card in the outer sleeve. The support element maintains the structural integrity and the spring back capability of the hinge. Thereby, the slide card can be repeatedly inserted into and removed from the outer sleeve without compromising the functionality of the lock and release mechanism.

In the exemplary embodiment, the packaging system includes elements that provide a locking mechanism for retaining the slide card within the outer sleeve as well as elements that provide a release mechanism for releasing the slide card from the locking feature. Thereby, the slide card can be repeatedly removed to dispense articles to an intended user and reinserted in the outer sleeve to prevent the articles from being dispensed to an unintended user. The elements that provide the locking feature include an engaging tab of the slide card and an engaging aperture of the outer sleeve. The engaging edge of the engaging tab engages an edge of the engaging aperture to releasably lock the slide card in the outer sleeve. The elements that provide the release mechanism include a release button of the outer sleeve that can be pressed to disengage the engaging edge of the engaging tab from the edge of the engaging aperture such that the slide card can be at least partially removed from the outer sleeve.

The engaging tab is hingedly connected to a base panel of the slide card. The resiliency of the slide card ensures that the engaging tab tends to rotate away from the base panel such that the engaging edge of the engaging tab is forced into the engaging aperture. After repeated use and/or if the engaging tab is folded too far toward the base panel, the slide card can lose its resiliency such that the engaging edge of the engaging tab is not properly forced into the engaging aperture. The exemplary slide card includes a support element that is secured to the engaging tab or the base panel. The support element is dimensioned and positioned so as to be disposed between the base panel and the engaging tab when the engaging tab is folded toward the base panel. The support element defines a minimum angle between the base panel and the engaging tab. This angle is determined such that the engaging tab is prevented from being folded too far toward the base panel, thereby retaining the resiliency of the slide card.

In the exemplary embodiment, the support element and blister packs are secured to the slide card. The exemplary support element includes a flanged portion and a support blister. Advantageously, the support element can be formed by a process that is similar to that used to form the blister packs. The support blister can be formed from sheet material as the blisters of the blister packs are formed from sheet material. In the embodiment shown, the support element is independent of the blister packs. However, in alternative embodiments, the support element can be integrally formed as part of a blister pack.

In alternative embodiments the slide card may be configured to hold articles on structures other than a blister pack, such as a tray as taught in one or more co-pending applications that claim priority to U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/591,677, and incorporated herein by reference. Still other alternative embodiments include articles attached directly to the slide card, without first being placed in primary packaging.

Further, in alternative embodiments, the support element can be structure that functions to prevent the engaging tab from being folded toward the base panel such that there is at least a minimum angle between the engaging tab and the base panel. For example, the blank that forms the slide card can include panels that can be folded and secured to provide a support structure between the engaging tab and the base panel. A wedge, disc, series of pegs, or similar protruding object can be secured to the base panel and/or to the engaging tab to provide a support element.

In the exemplary embodiment, the support element and the blister packs are secured to the slide card as the support blister and the blisters of the blister packs are received in apertures of a blank that forms the slide card and the flange portions of each are sandwiched between panels of the blank that forms the slide card. In alternative embodiments, the support element can be secured to the base panel and/or to the engaging tab by any suitable means for securing including, but not limited to, glue or other adhesives, mechanical fasteners, chemical bonding, VELCRO®, tape, a combination thereof, and the like.

In the exemplary embodiment, a support element is secured to the base panel and that support element contacts the engaging tab at a contact point. In alternative embodiments, a support element is secured to the engaging tab and that support element contacts the base panel at a contact point. In other alternative embodiments, each of the engaging tab and base panel include one or more support elements that contact one another.

The foregoing has broadly outlined some of the aspects and features of the present invention, which should be construed to be merely illustrative of various potential application of the invention. Other beneficial results ran be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by combining various aspects of the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of an exemplary embodiment of a blank for forming an outer sleeve, according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a partially erected outer sleeve that is formed from the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of components for forming an exemplary embodiment of a slide card, according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a slide card formed from the components of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a fully erected outer sleeve that is formed from the blank of FIG. 1 which is shown to receive the slide card of FIG. 4 to form an exemplary package, according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the package of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of the package of FIG. 5 that illustrates an alternative position of a support element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It must be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms, and combinations thereof. As used herein, the word “exemplary” is used expansively to refer to embodiments that serve as illustrations, specimens, models, or patterns. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. In other instances, well-known components, systems, materials, or methods have not been described in detail in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

The present invention is applicable to the packaging, storing, and dispensing of various products. Specifically, the invention is illustrated in the context of a package that includes a slide card that can be releasably locked in an outer sleeve. The illustrated package can provide primary or secondary packaging for many different products and especially for products that require child-resistant packaging. For example, in certain of the embodiments described herein, the present invention provides secondary packaging for blister packs that are secured to or integral to the slide card so as to be releasably locked in the outer sleeve. In alternative embodiments, a tray for receiving a product is integral to or directly attached to the slide card.

Referring now to the drawings in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the drawings illustrate certain of the various aspects of exemplary embodiments of a package that includes a slide card and an outer sleeve, according to the present invention. In the embodiments described herein, the slide card includes an engaging tab and a base panel that are hingedly connected to one another along a fold line. The slide card further includes a support element that is disposed between the engaging tab and the base panel such that the resiliency of the slide card is not compromised, as described in further detail below.

Referring to FIG. 1, an outer sleeve blank 10 for forming an outer sleeve 12, shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, is first described. Generally described, the outer sleeve blank 10 is formed from a foldable sheet material such as paperboard, corrugated board, plastic, cardboard, any other flexible and durable material, a combination thereof, and the like. The selection of this material may be made according to the packaging needs. For example, a material selected for medicines should be recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. In certain embodiments the material may be selected from a sheet of bleached sulfate board, a sheet of solid unbleached sulfate board (SUS), clay-coated newsback (CCNB), or any other suitable board material. In other examples, the paperboard may be clay coated on one side (C1S) or both sides (C2S) with a coating such as a fluidized blend of mineral pigments. The mineral pigments may be coating clay, calcium carbonate, or titanium dioxide and may be combined with starch or adhesive. Successive densification and polishing (via calendering) finishes each coated surface to a high degree of smoothness and renders it suitable for printing graphics of superior quality. Text or graphic information may be printed on the outer sleeve 12 or on the surface of a slide card according to any means conventionally known in the art. Similarly, a slide card blank as described herein can be formed from a foldable sheet material such as those described above.

At least a part of one or both sides of the blank 10 may be laminated with a polymer film. In this manner, the outer sleeve 12 is made more resistant to tearing. Optionally, this lamination may not extend over the entire surface of the blank 10 since only tear prone regions of the outer sleeve 12 may require lamination. Suitable laminating materials may be selected from biaxially oriented or cross-laminated polymeric films such as high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyolefins, polyesters, or combinations thereof. In a related embodiment, tear resistance may be provided at stress points, such as the corners and exposed edges of the outer sleeve 12, by applying one or more strips of polymeric film over these areas. The polymeric film may be applied by extrusion, adhesive lamination, or by any other suitable means known in the art. Polymeric film is typically applied to the side that is the interior surface of the blank 10. Similar lamination with polymeric film may be used to treat the surface of a slide card.

The blank 10 includes a number of primary panels that are substantially rectangular and that are aligned along the longitudinal axis L of the blank 10. For reference, a transverse axis V is provided to illustrate a transverse direction, which is substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis L. The primary panels are folded and secured to form a tubular structure T, as described in further detail below. The primary panels are hingedly connected one to the next along transverse fold lines, which are substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis L of the blank 10. The primary panels of the blank 10 include an inner panel 20, a bottom panel 22, a top panel 24, and side panels 32, 33. The panels 20, 22 are hingedly connected to opposite edges of the first side panel 32 along fold lines 34, 36. The panels 22, 24 are hingedly connected to opposite edges of the second side panel 33 along fold lines 38, 40.

The blank 10 further includes a number of extension panels that are hingedly connected to an end edge of certain primary panels along fold lines that are substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis L of the blank 10. An inner extension panel 50 is hingedly connected to the inner panel 20 along a fold line 52 and a bottom extension panel 54 is hingedly connected to the bottom panel 22 along a fold line 56. Apertures A1, A2 are disposed in the blank 10 so as to interrupt fold lines 52, 56 and thereby each aperture A1, A2 is partially disposed in a respective primary panel and partially disposed in a respective extension panel. Specifically, aperture A1 is partially disposed in inner panel 20 and partially disposed in inner extension panel 50. Aperture A2 is partially disposed in bottom panel 22 and partially disposed in bottom extension panel 54. In addition, the top panel 24 includes a notch N1. When the extension panels are folded relative to the respective primary panels, the apertures define notches which facilitate removing the slide card from the outer sleeve. The notches are positioned relative to one another to provide child resistance, as described in further detail below.

End wall panels are hingedly connected to an end edge of certain primary panels along fold lines that are substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis L of the blank 10. The end wall panels can be folded and secured as described below to form an end closure structure at an open end of the tubular structure T defined by certain primary panels and thereby define an end wall of the outer sleeve 12. A first end wall panel 62 is hingedly connected to the bottom panel 22 along a fold line 64 and a second end wall panel 66 is hingedly connected to the top panel 24 along a fold line 68.

The blank 10 includes elements that define a false end wall 102, shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, in the outer sleeve 12 when folded and secured as described below. Referring to FIG. 1, a plurality of panels for forming a false end wall 102 are defined in the inner panel 20 by a cut line 70 and two fold lines 76, 78. Specifically, a false bottom panel 80 is at least partially defined by the fold lines 76, 78 and the cut line 70. In addition, a glue flap 82 is at least partially defined by the fold line 76 and the cut line 70. The cut line 70 extends from a transverse free edge 72 of the inner panel 20 toward the fold line 34 and is orientated substantially parallel to a longitudinal free edge 74 of the inner panel 20. The first fold line 76 and the second fold line 78 extend between the longitudinal free edge 74 and the cut line 70. Specifically, the second fold line 78 extends transversely between the distal end of the cut line 70 and the longitudinal free edge 74. The first fold line 76 is offset from and substantially parallel to the second fold line 78.

The top panel 24 and the inner panel 20 include elements that at least partially define a locking mechanism and a release mechanism of the outer sleeve 12, as described in further detail below. The top panel 24 includes a release button 90 that is defined by a contoured cut line 91 and the inner panel 20 includes an engaging aperture 86 that defines a node 88 and an edge E2. The release button 90 and engaging aperture 86 are disposed in their respective panels 24, 20 such that when the top panel 24 overlaps the inner panel 20, as described in further detail below, the release button 90 functionally aligns with the node 88.

It is envisaged that, in any embodiment of the present invention, the outer sleeve can be formed from the outer sleeve blank by a series of sequential folding and gluing operations, which can be performed by a straight-line automatic packaging machine so that the outer sleeve is not required to be rotated or inverted to complete its construction. It is also envisaged that the series of sequential folding and gluing operations can be manually performed. The folding process is not limited to that described below and can be altered according to particular manufacturing or user requirements. In addition, alternative embodiments may be made from multiple individual blanks, panels, or panel portions, rather than the illustrated single blank, without varying from the scope of the claims.

Turning now to the erection of the outer sleeve blank 10, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the particular sequences of folds discussed below are neither limiting nor the only sequence of folds possible to erect the outer sleeve 12 from the outer sleeve blank 10. The outer sleeve blank 10 may be initially folded to form a collapsed tubular structure with a collapsed false end wall such that the collapsed tubular structure and collapsed false end wall can be simultaneously erected to form the outer sleeve 12 having the false end wall 102, best shown in FIG. 2. Arranging the outer sleeve 12 in a collapsed condition facilitates shipping or stacking the outer sleeve 12. For purposes of clarity, the side or surface of the outer sleeve blank 10 that is shown in FIG. 1 is designated as the outside surface of the outer sleeve blank 10 and the opposite side is designated as the inside surface of the outer sleeve blank 10.

According to a first exemplary method for forming a collapsed tubular structure with a collapsed false end wall, the inner extension panel 50 and the bottom extension panel 54 are folded along respective fold lines 52, 56 such that the inside surface of each of the extension panels 50, 54 is substantially in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the panels 20, 22, respectively. The bottom extension panel 54 can be optionally secured to the bottom panel 22. Adhesive is applied to the inside surface of the glue flap 82 and the inner panel 20 is folded along fold line 34 such that the inside surface of the glue flap 82 is secured to the inside surface of the bottom panel 22. Adhesive is further applied to the outside surface of the inner panel 20 and the blank 10 is folded along fold line 38 such that the inside surface of top panel 24 overlaps and is secured in a face contacting arrangement with the outside surface of the inner panel 20.

The collapsed tubular structure, which is formed from the method described above, can be erected to form the outer sleeve 12, best shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, by pulling the bottom panel 22 from the inner panel 20 such that the panels 20, 22, 24 are substantially parallel to one another and substantially perpendicular to each of the side panels 32, 33. In addition, a false end wall 102 is erected as the bottom panel 22 is pulled from the inner panel 20 such that the false bottom panel 80 is substantially perpendicular to the panels 20, 22 and substantially parallel to the side panels 32, 33. When arranged as a tubular structure T, the top panel 24 and the inner panel 20 define a composite top wall 224, the bottom panel 22 defines a bottom wall 222, and the side panels define side walls 232, 233. To complete the folding sequence for the outer sleeve 12, the end panels 62, 66 are folded and secured to form an end closure structure that defines an end wall 104 of the outer sleeve 12, as shown in FIG. 5.

It should be noted that the outer sleeve 12 illustrated in FIG. 2 is partially formed in that the top panel 24 is not shown as being secured to the inner panel 20. FIG. 2 is illustrated in this manner to best show certain elements of the outer sleeve 12.

An exemplary slide card is now described which is suitable for use with the outer sleeve 12. Slide cards with means for receiving and securing an item, including those that receive and secure blister packs, those with integral trays, those with trays mounted thereon, and those with articles mounted directly thereon, are known or have been developed by the Applicant and are the subject of issued patents and/or co-pending applications. However, the present invention is not limited to the exemplary embodiments of slide cards described herein or previously developed by the Applicant. Rather, the scope of the invention includes any slide card that includes a support element which maintains the resiliency of the slide card at a hinged connection between an engaging tab and a base panel, as described in further detail below.

Referring to FIG. 3, exemplary embodiments of a slide card blank 310, a support element 312, and blister packs 314 can be assembled to form an exemplary slide card 400, best shown in FIG. 4. The slide card blank 310 includes a first series of panels aligned in a longitudinal direction which are hingedly connected to one another along fold lines which are oriented in a transverse direction. The first series of panels includes an engaging tab 320a, a base panel 322a, a spine panel 324a, and a cover panel 326a. The engaging tab 320a is hingedly connected to the base panel 322a along a fold line 330a, the base panel 322a is hingedly connected to the spine panel 324a along a fold line 332a, and the spine panel 324a is hingedly connected to the cover panel 326a along a fold line 334a. The exemplary embodiment of the slide card blank 310 further includes a second series of panels that are substantially similar to the first series of panels. Further, certain of the first series of panels are hingedly connected to respective ones of the second series of panels along a fold line 340. It should be understood that, in alternative embodiments, the first series of panels and the second series of panels can be separated from one another, for example, by a cut line that is substituted for the fold line 340. In these embodiments, each series of panels defines a separate card, which is desirable in certain manufacturing applications.

The second series of panels includes an engaging tab 320b, a base panel 322b, a spine panel 324b, and a cover panel 326b that are hingedly connected one to the next along fold lines 330b, 332b, 334b. Thus, the base panels 322a, 322b are hingedly connected along fold line 340, the spine panels 324a, 324b are hingedly connected along fold line 340, and the cover panels 326a, 326b are hingedly connected along fold line 340. The slide card blank 310 can be folded along the fold line 340 to form a two ply thick slide card 400, as described in further detail below.

In the exemplary embodiment, the base panel 322b and the cover panel 326b each include a pattern of apertures A3. The base panel 322a and the cover panel 326a each include a similar pattern of apertures A4. Further, the base panel 322b includes an aperture A5. These elements will be described in further detail below as they relate to elements of the support element 312 and to elements of the blister pack 314.

The blister pack 314 includes a flange portion 348 from which blisters 350 extend. Blister packs 314 can be formed in numerous ways including by thermoforming blisters 350 in a sheet of plastic-type material and attaching a foil or paperboard backing to the sheet of plastic-type material to enclose the cavities defined by the blisters 350. Thereby, the flange portion 348 is the composite planar portion of the blister pack 314 that is formed by the backing and the planar portion of the sheet material. The blisters 350 are sized and dimensioned to receive products, such as medicaments. In the exemplary embodiment, the blisters 350 are arranged in a matrix configuration having two columns and seven rows, but this configuration is merely a design choice. The products in each of the blisters 350 are accessible through the backing of the blister pack 314. For example, a foil backing can be broken or a paperboard backing can include detachable gates in order to access articles in blisters 350.

The support element 312 can be formed in a manner that is similar to that which is used to form the blister packs 314 such that the support element 312 includes a flange portion 352 and a support blister 354. The support blister 354 can be any suitable size or shape to provide support to elements of the slide card, as described in further detail below. Further, the support blister 354 is dimensioned to be received in the aperture A5. In the exemplary embodiment, the support blister 354 and the aperture A5 each have an oval shape. However, the support blister 354 and the aperture A5 can have any suitable shape. It should be understood that, in alternative embodiments, the support blister 354 can be integral to a blister pack 314 so as to extend from the flange portion 348. This arrangement is advantageous in that the support element 312 and the blister pack 314 do not have to be independently positioned on and secured to the slide card blank 310.

For clarity, it is noted that the inside surface of the slide card blank 310 is shown in FIG. 3. It should be understood that, the support element 312 and the blister marks 314 can be secured to the slide card blank 310 by means for securing including adhesive, mechanical fasteners, chemical bonding, slits for receiving corners, VELCRO®, tape, a combination thereof, and the like.

In the exemplary embodiment, the support element 312 and the blister packs 314 are secured between respective panels of the first series of panels, designated by the suffix “a”, and the second series of panels, designated by the suffix “b”, as the slide card blank 310 is folded along the fold line 340. According to an exemplary method, the blisters 350 of each blister pack 314 are received in apertures A3 such that the surface of the flange portion 348 of one of the blister packs 314 is disposed in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the base panel 322b and the surface of the flange portion 348 of the other of the blister packs 314 is disposed in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the cover panel 326b. Further, the support blister 354 is received in the aperture A5 such that the surface of the flange portion 352 of the support element 312 is in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the base panel 322b. The slide card blank 310 is then folded along the fold line 340 such that the flange portions 348, 352 of the blister packs 314 and the support element 312 are sandwiched between the base panels 322a, 322b and between the cover panels 326a, 326b, respectively. Thereby, the apertures A4 that are defined in the panels 322a, 326a are aligned with the blisters 350 of each blister pack 314.

The apertures A4 are dimensioned and positioned to align with the blisters 350 such that articles in the blisters 350 can be accessed therethrough. In alternative embodiments, the panels 322a, 326a can provide at least a portion of the backing of the blister pack 314. In other words, the blister pack 314 can be integral to the slide card blank 310. For example, blisters 350 can be formed from a sheet of material, as described above, and the planar portion of the sheet of material can be secured to the panels 322a, 326a of the slide card blank 310 such that the blisters align with gates or other features that can be substituted for the apertures A4.

It should be noted that adhesive can be applied to the inside surface of the slide card blank 310 to secure the panels ending in the suffix “a” to the panels ending in the suffix “b” when the slide card blank 310 is folded along the fold line 340. Alternatively, the panels may be secured together by means for securing described above or by heat-sealing processes, hot-glues and adhesives, all known and foreseeable types of mechanical fasteners including engaging elements, staples, all known and types of chemical bonding, any combinations thereof, and the like.

According to an alternative method for forming the slide card 400, the flange portions 348, 352 of the blister packs 314 and the support element 312 can be disposed in a face contacting arrangement with corresponding panels 322a, 326a. The slide card blank 310 is then folded along the fold line 340 such that the apertures A3, A5 receive blisters 350 of the blister pack 314 and the support blister 354 of the support element 312.

Thereby, the exemplary slide card 400 is formed as shown in FIG. 4. Specifically, the engaging tabs 320a, 320b are secured together to form a composite engaging tab 420, the base panels 322a, 322b are secured together to form a composite base panel 422, the spine panels 324a, 324b are secured together to form a composite spine panel 424, and the cover panels 326a, 326b are secured together to form a composite cover panel 426. The engaging tab 420, the base panel 422, the spine panel 424, and the cover panel 426 are hingedly connected one to the next along fold lines 430, 432, 434. The fold line 430 is defined by fold lines 330a, 330b, the fold line 432 is defined by fold lines 332a, 332b, and the fold line 434 is defined by fold lines 334a, 334b. In alternative embodiments, the slide card includes only a base panel and an engaging tab that are hingedly connected along a fold line.

Referring to FIG. 4, the engaging tab 420 includes an engaging edge 428 that is provided at the distal end of the engaging tab 420. The distal end of the engaging tab 420 is that which is distal to the hinged connection between the engaging tab 420 and the base panel 422 along fold line 430. The support element 312 is positioned to be adjacent to the hinged connection between the base panel 422 and the engaging tab 420 so as to control a minimum angle X that is allowed between the engaging tab 420 and the base panel 422 as the engaging tab 420 is folded along the fold line 430.

Referring to FIG. 6, the support element 312 has a contact point P where the engaging tab 420 contacts the support element 312 when the engaging tab 420 is folded along the fold line 430. The angle X is approximately a function of the distance S between the contact point P and the fold line 430 and the distance H between the contact point P and the base panel 422. It should be understood that the location of the contact point P is a design choice that is dependent on the size and shape of the support element 312 as well as the position of the support element 312 relative to the fold line 430. In addition, in alternative embodiments, the slide card 400 can include multiple contact points provided by one or more support elements. In other alternative embodiments, at least one support element is positioned to extend from the engaging tab such that the contact point is determined where the base panel contacts the support element. In still other alternative embodiments, each of the engaging tab and the base panel include at least one support element and the contact point is defined where the support elements contact one another.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate an exemplary package 500 formed from the outer sleeve 12 and the slide card 400 according to the present invention. To construct the package 500, the following method, which is presented for purposes of teaching and not limitation, is described. Beginning with the folding of the slide card 400, the slide card 400 is folded inwardly along fold lines 432, 434 such that the cover panel 426 is substantially parallel to the base panel 422 and such that the spine panel 424 extends between and substantially perpendicular to the panels 422, 426 so as to form an end wall, as described in further detail below. In this configuration the blisters 350 are sandwiched between, and protected by, the cover panel 426 and base panel 422. The engaging tab 420 is then folded inwardly along fold line 430 so that the engaging tab 420 is at an acute angle with respect to the base panel 422 and such that the support element 312 is disposed between the engaging tab 420 and the base panel 422. The engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 points generally toward the end wall defined by the spine panel 424.

Referring to FIG. 5, to insert the slide card 400 into the outer sleeve 12, the edge of the slide card 400 that is formed by the fold line 430 is positioned toward the open end of the outer sleeve 12. The outer sleeve 12 is oriented such that the engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 is matingly aligned with the edge E2 of the engaging aperture 86 of the inner panel 20, best shown in FIG. 2. The slide card 400 may then be fully inserted into the outer sleeve 12 between inner panel 20 and bottom panel 22, so that the engaging edge 420 releasably engages the edge E2 of the engaging aperture 86. In this configuration, the slide card 400 is fully encased by, and releasably locked in, the outer sleeve 12. When the slide card 400 is fully inserted in the outer sleeve 12, the spine panel 424 closes the open end of the sleeve 12 and thereby forms an end wall closure for the sleeve 12 that is opposite the end wall closure 104. Further, the edge of the slide card 12 that is defined by the fold line 430 is adjacent to or can abut the innermost vertical edge of the false end wall 102.

It should be understood that the illustrated engaging tab 420 and the illustrated engaging aperture 86 are provided for teaching and not limitation. Accordingly, the engaging tab 420 and the engaging aperture 86 can have any suitable size and shape such that at least one engaging tab 420 and at least one engaging aperture 86 are dimensioned and positioned to releasably engage one another. The slide card 400 can include multiple engaging tabs 420 and the outer sleeve 12 can include multiple engaging apertures 86 for receiving the engaging tabs 420. The engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 can be any suitable shape for engaging the edge E2 of one or more engaging apertures 86 or for engaging the edge of another element that provides an edge, such as a detent or ridge. The engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 can be shaped as an arc, several arcs, a series of peaks and valleys, one or more pointed ends, combinations thereof, and the like.

The engagement of the slide card 400 and outer sleeve 12 is now further discussed in further detail with reference to FIGS. 2, 5 and 6. When folded along fold line 430, the resilience of the slide card 400 causes the engaging tab 420 to resist the fold and inherently spring back toward its unfolded position. This spring resistance holds the engaging edge 428 of the folded engaging tab 420 against the inner panel 20 wherein, when the slide card 400 is fully received in the outer sleeve 12, the engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 is forced into the engaging aperture 86. The engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 abuts an edge E2 of the inner panel 20 that is defined by the engaging aperture 86 such that the slide card 400 is releasably locked in the outer sleeve 12. Further, this connection between the edge E2 defined by the engaging aperture 86 and the engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 prevents the slide card 400 from being removed from the outer sleeve 12 unless the release button 90 is depressed. Referring to FIG. 6, the release button 90 and the node 88 cooperate such that, when a force F is applied to the release button 90, the release button 90 and the node 88 deflect into the outer sleeve 12 thereby pushing against the engaging tab 420 to release the engaging edge 428 from the edge E2 of the engaging aperture 86. The slide card 400 may then be at least partially withdrawn from the outer sleeve 12. In the exemplary embodiment, as the slide card 400 is withdrawn, the spring resistance of the engaging tab 420 holds the engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 against the inner panel 20 such that the engaging edge 428 abuts an edge of, or otherwise the engaging tab 420 interlocks with, the inwardly folded extension panel 54 so as to prevent the slide card 400 from being fully removed from the outer sleeve 12.

The support element 312 can be positioned to provide a physical stopping point for the release button 90 and node 88 and to provide feedback to a user applying the force F that indicates that the release button 90 is fully depressed and the slide card 400 is able to be removed. As the release button 90 is fully deflected, the engaging tab 420 is folded along the fold line 430 until the engaging tab 420 contacts the support element 312. When the engaging tab 420 is in contact with the support element 312, the engaging tab 420 is approximately at an angle X with respect to the base tab 422. Depending on the position of the support element 312 and the location of the applied force F, the engaging tab 420 can be held against or flexed over the support element 312. By restricting how far the engaging tab 420 can be folded along the fold line 430 toward the base panel 422, the hinged connection between the engaging tab 420 and the base panel 422 retains its resiliency.

Referring to FIG. 7, the support element 312 can alternatively be positioned and dimensioned to provide a leverage point P about which the engaging tab 420 flexes as the force F is applied to the release button 90. In such an embodiment, the engaging tab 420 can contact the support blister 354 of the support element 312 at or near the leverage point P as the engaging edge 428 of the engaging tab 420 is releasably engaged with the edge E2 of the engaging aperture 86. As the force F is applied to the release button 90, the release button 90 contacts the engaging tab 420 at a point that is offset from (from the perspective of FIG. 7, to the right of) the leverage point P. Thus, the leverage point P does not provide a stopping point for the push button 90 and the engaging tab 420 does not rotate or hinge about the fold line 430. The relative positions of a first portion of the engaging tab 420, which is substantially defined between the point P and the fold line 430, and the base panel 422 are substantially fixed at an angle X. In other words, the fold line 430 merely provides an attachment point between the engaging tab 420 and the base panel 422. A second portion of the engaging tab 420 that is distal of the leverage point P flexes relative to the plane defined by the first portion about the fulcrum defined by the leverage point P. The inherent rigidity and elasticity of the engaging tab 420 provides that the engaging tab 420 can return to the locking position, wherein the first and second portions of the engaging tab 420 are substantially aligned, and to repeatedly flex between a locking position and a release position.

The false end wall 102 enhances the structural integrity of the outer sleeve 12 by providing a brace between the top and bottom walls 224, 222 of the outer sleeve 12 and thereby allows the outer sleeve 12 to be more resistant to deformation from squeezing or crushing. Squeezing or crushing the outer sleeve 12 can inadvertently disengage the locking mechanism of the package, thereby providing inadvertent access to the items therein. As best illustrated in FIG. 2, the false end wall 102 obstructs an opening at one end of the tubular structure T to additionally prevent the articles in the package from being inadvertently accessed.

When the extension panels 50, 54 are folded and secured as described above, the edges of the apertures A1, A2, define notches at the open end of the outer sleeve 12 to facilitate removal of the slide card 400. The aperture A1 is substantially centered with respect to inner panels 20 and the aperture A2 is off center with respect to the bottom panel 22. Thus, the notch that is defined by aperture A1 aligns with the notch N1 when the panels 20, 24 overlap to form the outer sleeve 12 and the notch that is defined by the aperture A2 is offset from or is otherwise intentionally misaligned with the notch defined by the aperture A1 and with the notch N1 with respect to the perpendicular direction between the top and bottom walls 224, 222. The offset relationship between the notches provides an additional child-resistance feature in that, to open the package, the user must grasp the slide card 400 at the positions defined by the offset notches. Grasping the slide card 400 in this manner requires asymmetric placement of the fingers, which is counter-intuitive to children, and thus their ability to grasp and withdraw the slide card 400 from the outer sleeve 12 is greatly reduced. It should be understood that the position of the apertures A1, A2 as well as the position of the notch N1 can be varied such that the notches along the edges of the open end of outer sleeve 12 are offset from one another to produce the same relationship. For example, the location of the notches may be varied depending on the overall dimensions of the package.

The present invention offers advantages in that it is lightweight, tamper resistant, senior friendly, durable, easy to assemble, economical, and offers protection of the articles contained therein. Moreover, the invention provides a child resistant, yet user-friendly, unit dose packaging container that may be used to contain and dispense a variety of products. The improved tamper resistant features of the package may be attributed, at least in part, to the presence of the false bottom structural support, the offset notch placement, and the use of partially or fully laminated structural materials in construction of the package sleeve and slide card.

It must be emphasized that the law does not require and it is economically prohibitive to illustrate and teach every possible embodiment of the present claims. Hence, the above-described embodiments are merely exemplary illustrations of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the claims. All such modifications, combinations, and variations are included herein by the scope of this disclosure and the following claims.