Title:
High-volume package dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispenser package system for protective articles, having a new substantially vertical product storage orientation and package design, is described. The package includes a double or multi-chambered dispenser unit that can provide within substantially the same footprint as a conventional dispenser container a greater volume of product. The package can store and dispense at least 50%, up to about 200% or greater capacity than conventional dispenser for protective article products such as gloves or face masks.



Inventors:
Ellswood, Mark R. (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Shuman, Alan G. (Canton, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/416848
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
05/02/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RANDALL, JR., KELVIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. (Neenah, WI, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A package dispenser unit comprising a chamber with a substantially vertical orientation, adapted to contain a plurality of protective articles, and said chamber having an opening with a narrowing or tapering along an outline of said opening.

2. The package dispenser unit according to claim 1, wherein said opening is situated on a side of said chamber.

3. The package dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said opening has a narrowing located in between a first and a second terminus region, and said first and second terminus regions being either symmetrical or asymmetrically shaped.

4. The package dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said opening has an outline form of a dog-bone-like or substantially hour-glass-like shape.

5. The package dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said opening has an outline shaped like a triangle, a tear-drop, or a paddle.

6. The package dispenser unit according to claim 3, wherein said first terminus region is significantly larger in size than said second terminus region.

7. The package dispenser unit according to claim 1, wherein said protective articles are oriented within said chamber in a predetermined uniform manner, and said first terminus region is situated either over or proximal to a portion of said protective articles and adapted to facilitate access to said protective article.

8. The package dispenser unit according to claim 1, wherein said protective articles include gloves or face masks.

9. A package dispenser unit comprising at least a chamber adapted to contain a plurality of gloves, said gloves each having a cuff that is oriented in the same direction, said chamber having an opening with a substantially hour-glass-like shape, with a narrowing between a first end and a second end.

10. The package dispenser unit according to claim 9, wherein said first and second ends are asymmetrically shaped.

11. The package dispenser unit according to claim 9, wherein said first end is significantly larger than said second end, and said first end is situated proximal and to adapted to access said glove cuffs.

12. The package dispenser unit according to claim 9, wherein said unit includes at least two separate chambers, oriented symmetrically relative to each other.

13. The package dispenser unit according to claim 9, wherein said opening is situated either within or proximal to a face of said unit that has a largely curved or chamfered side.

14. The package dispenser unit according to claim 9, wherein said chamber contains at least about 20% to about 50% more gloves per unit volume than a comparable container of identical physical dimensions.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/781,617 filed on Mar. 10, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a package dispenser unit for storing and providing protective articles, such as gloves or face masks.

BACKGROUND

Conventional containers for protective articles such as glove or facemasks often resemble tissue boxes. Commonly, these tend to be rectangular in shape and oriented largely a horizontally, for instance, with the gloves layered one on top another, alternating cuff and finger direction every few pairs. The opening of the packaging through which one access the protective article is also like that in tissue boxes, simple rectangular or oval slots in the top surface of the container. Conventional glove dispensing containers typically can hold up to about 100 gloves. In laboratory or clinical setting, where gloves are used at a relatively high volume, this means that a box of gloves can be consumed in a short period of time (e.g., a few days to a week). To increasing the count of gloves by making the packaging a deeper box, while keeping the same footprint as conventional dispensers, creates an issue for the user. First, access to gloves towards the bottom, as gloves are used up, is challenging to grab hold. A deeper box forces one to reach deep into the dispenser, and may require a larger opening for one's hand to fit. A larger opening is bad because the opening permits more of the gloves to be exposed to possible contamination from outside of their container.

A need exists for a better packaging dispenser, which can address higher product count in a functional package, such that it can hold a larger volume of gloves as well as reduce the amount of packaging waste. A more economical, high volume pack can have several advantages. For the consumer, a larger package can provide greater convenience to the user, because one would not need to replace cartons as often, as well as lower consumer cost per unit. And, for the manufacturer, a larger package can reduce material and manufacturing cost per unit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a packaging system and design. The new design rotates the gloves from a conventional horizontal configuration to a largely vertical position. All of the gloves are orientated in one direction with the cuff side toward the top. The product orientation makes it easier for a user to access and dispense from the package. Whereas conventionally most gloves are dispensed by pulling near the middle of the product, or palm area, the present package design allows a user to grab the glove at the cuff area and avoid physical contamination of the rest of the glove body where a lab work may handle a sample or a healthcare worker may contact a patient.

The package dispenser unit 10 has an opening 2 to access the package contents. The opening is shaped with a narrowing or tapering 4 of the aperture, located in between a first 6 and a second terminus region 8. The first and second terminus regions can be either symmetrical or asymmetrically shaped, such as depicted in accompanying FIGS. 2A-D and 3A. The first can be terminus region is significantly larger in size than said second terminus region. The opening has an outline that is like can being dog-bone or hour-glass shaped, or either a rectangular, trapezoidal, triangular, tear-drop-like, or a paddle-like shape.

The package can be configured to dispense product from two sides simultaneously, if needed, without needing to flip the package 180 degrees. In certain embodiments, an internal insert or divide 12 separates the overall dispenser into two chambers 14a, 14b, each containing a product count, as well as adds mechanical strength to the package for structural integrity. A tote handle 16 on the top panel 17 of the package carton 10 makes the dispenser portable, and addresses a common issue associated with traveling home-based healthcare nurses and emergency medical technician (EMT) personnel. In certain embodiments, four rounded or chamfered corners 18 add to the overall design look and can help center the protective article for dispensing at the opening. The footprint of the base 20 of a double or multi-chambered package dispenser should be sufficiently large in area to ensure stability of the package; hence, the resulting combined dispensing feature. If the dispenser was single sided, it would tend to be unstable and likely to fall over when product is being dispensed. Or if the base was sufficiently large enough to be stable, yet only single sided, the depth would become too great and not allow for efficient dispensing near the end of the glove supply. Additional features and advantages of the present color indicator system, packaging, and associated methods will be disclosed in the following detailed description. It is understood that both the foregoing summary and the following description are merely representative of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

FIGS. 1A and 1B is a schematic of a conventional package container for holding protective articles such as gloves or face masks with an opening in a panel that will become the top panel of a box. FIG. 1A shows the components of the container laid out flat and unfolded, and FIG. 1B shows the container properly folded and assembled into a box, with the oval-shaped opening in a top panel.

FIGS. 2A-D depict schematic illustrations of different embodiments of package cartons according to the present invention.

FIG. 3A is another iteration of a carton unfolded and laid flat.

FIG. 3B is a three-dimensional illustration in three-quarter view of the carton of FIG. 3A as assembled.

FIGS. 4A and 4B show an assembled carton according to FIG. 3B with a tote handle projecting from an upper panel of the package, and adapted for ease accessibility for manual carriage.

FIG. 5A is a three-quarter view of a package container according to the embodiment of FIG. 3B, showing a flap or piece of card stock panel that covers the opening, partially detached from the face of a side panel face.

FIG. 5B is a schematic showing a transparent view of a number of gloves arrayed in a largely vertical orientation, with glove cuff up and accessible to a user by taking hold and pulling on the cuff to withdraw a glove from the container.

FIGS. 6A and 6B show a cut-away view of the package carton, with two chambers side-by-side. Each chamber adapted to hold a certain amount of protective articles. As indicated, for instance, on each side, the chamber holds up to about 250 gloves, making a combined total of about 500 gloves. This feature, however, in no way limits other possible permutations and number of articles that may be included within each chamber.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates in part to a package dispenser unit that includes has a housing surrounding a chamber with a substantially vertical orientation, unlike conventional package boxes 1, such as shown for comparison in FIG. 1A and 1B, which has an wide relatively opening 1a located in a top panel. The package in certain embodiments includes a double or multi-chambered dispenser unit that can provide within substantially the same footprint as a conventional dispenser container a greater volume of product. The package can store and dispense at least 50%, up to about 200% or greater capacity than conventional dispenser for protective article products.

Each chamber is adapted to contain a plurality of protective articles, such as medical examination gloves or face masks. The chamber has at least an aperture or opening along one side of the housing, so as to access the interior of the chamber from the side. The opening can be shaped having an outline with a narrowing or tapering along a part of the aperture. Desirably the narrow or taper is situated either near the middle or center of the opening, or to one end of the opening; hence, creating for instance, either a generally dog-bone, hour-glass, tear-drop, or paddle-like shapes. The accompanying FIGS. 2A-D present some illustrative examples of the opening shape 2. Each package carton is unfolded, and laid-out flat in two-dimensions showing various designs for the openings through which a user can access the protective articles inside, and other structural parts, such as tabs or flanges and folding zones of the package cartons. FIG. 2A shows an opening having an outline that is a relatively rectangular to trapezoidal shape, with straight and curving major sides narrowing toward each other and shorter rounded or archuit ends. FIG. 2B depicts an opening with an outline that has a generally circular or rounded portion 2a and a tapering, elongated tail-like portion 2b extending away from the rounded portion. FIG. 2C shows an asymmetric hour-glass or dog-bone-shaped aperture 2 with one end substantially larger than the other. A largely hour-glass shaped opening is also illustrated in FIG. 2D; however, part of a panel of the packaging carton is pre-perforated to allow a user to fold or pull out a carry handle 19, which is designed to extend from a top panel once the package carton is properly folded together.

Like the foregoing figures, FIG. 3A depicts the unfolded panels, laid out flat, of another package dispenser design. FIG. 3B shows in three-quarter profile, the same package dispenser when properly assembled. A handle extends from the top of the dispenser. The dispenser box contains two chambers positioned back-to-back. A dog-bone-like or hour-glass-like shape outlines the opening 2, which forms part of the face of a panel on one end of the package. The opening 2, as shown, has one end 2a being relatively wider or larger than the other 2b. The opening, is covered with a perforated card to protect the dispenser contents until ready to be opened for use. The opening, according to the embodiment, has a slightly larger upper end and smaller lower end. An identical opening is situated in the panel face of the box opposite the one shown.

A handle is show projecting from the top panel assembled package, as illustrated in FIGS. 4A and 4B. The tote handle desirably should permit a user to easily pick-up the handle without cutting into the hand of a user, be flexible, and strong enough to carry the weight of a full dispenser package without either tearing the top panel. Typically the handle can be made from either some kind of pliable plastic, hard thermoplastic, woven-cloth fabric, or nonwoven fabric material, or combination of such materials. For instance, the body of the handle can be a cloth or nonwoven fabric, while the anchors of the handle are made from a thermoplastic.

FIG. 5A demonstrates how one may access the contents of the dispenser's interior by means of pealing away and detaching the cover from the opening. FIG. 5B illustrates a transparent schematic view of a package dispenser having two identical chambers situated back-to-back. A feature of the present dispenser design is that all of the gloves can be oriented and packed in a unidirectional fashion. That is, the all gloves have cuffs on the same side, and all of the fingers point in the same direction. As shown here, in a preferred embodiment, all of the gloves are oriented in a vertical fashion, with cuff region upward and fingers pointing downward. FIG. 5B also demonstrates how a user can pull out gloves from either side of the dispenser by the cuff of each glove, thus avoiding contacting and contaminating the palm, back or finger regions of the glove. It is desirably for stability that the dispenser box generally has a larger area foot-print than its height, even though individual chambers may have a greater height to foot print area.

FIGS. 6A and 6B show that each chamber can hold, according to an embodiment, up to about 250 gloves, which in a package dispenser with two chambers can contain up to about 500 gloves. Other embodiments may contain more or less, such as up to about 275 gloves per chamber, or a total of up to about 550 gloves in a double pack. This is a significantly greater (˜2 or 2.5× to ˜5×) number of product articles per dispenser than available in current glove box packaging.

The combined two or multi-chambered (odd or even numbered, desirably even) (e.g., 3 or 4) package desirably take the form of a substantially square or rectilinear body. For instance, with four chambers, the combined package would be a cube with each chamber occupying one of the comers. The packaging container can have in certain design embodiments either square, rounded, or chamfered corners. The package dispenser opening is situated either within or proximal to a face of the unit that has a largely curved or chamfered side. The side or face panel of the package dispenser in which the opening or aperture is situated can be either flat planar and parallel with an opposing counterpart panel (shown) or substantially at right angles to an adjacent side panel, or slightly bowed outward and projecting forward from the container (not shown), to maximize the size of each chamber and accommodate a higher capacity of product articles within.

The protective articles, such as gloves or face masks, that are dispensed from the package unit are oriented within the chamber in a predetermined uniform manner, and the first terminus region is situated either over or proximal to a portion of said protective articles and adapted to facilitate access to said protective article. When the package unit is used to dispense gloves, it can have at least a chamber adapted to contain a plurality of gloves that have all of their cuffs oriented in the same direction. The chamber can have an opening with a substantially hour-glass-like shape, with a narrowing between a first end and a second end. The first and second ends, in desired embodiment, are asymmetrically shaped, wherein said first end is significantly larger than said second end, and said first end is situated proximal and to adapted to access the glove cuffs. The package dispenser unit can include two or more separate chambers. An even number of chambers are desired to have a symmetrical orientation relative to each other. Each chamber can contain at least about 20% to about 50% more gloves per unit volume than a comparable container of identical physical dimensions.

The package can further have a handle made from, for instance, either cardstock or plastic can be pulled out to form an arc over a top panel of the package container. This handle can facilitate transport, portable carriage or handling of the container box.

A double chamber increases the overall amount of gloves in a dispenser. Vertical orientation of the gloves one to pack more gloves per chamber than conventional allows for more the depth of the container is not as much of an issues as with horizontal orientation. For hygienic and sanitary reasons, it is preferred to grab gloves from a box by their cuff region, so as to avoid possible contact contamination with the palm or finger portions of the glove. One can reach in to the cuff and not contaminate the other gloves. The narrowing or tapered shape of the panel opening prevents the gloves from falling out of its chamber, while presenting the glove cuff outward.

The present invention has been described in general and in detail by way of the accompanying figures. Persons of skill in the art, however, will appreciate that various changes, modifications, or equivalents can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as described and claimed.