Title:
Aperture for dispensing wipes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to provide a dispensing aperture for a container comprising vertically stacked wipes, which provides improved sequential dispensing of the contained wipes while permitting enhanced accessibility to the wipes within the container.



Inventors:
Bendor, Yarron (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Cole-yocom, Marcia (Scoottsdale, AZ, US)
Barker, Donna (Mesa, AZ, US)
Bartolucci, Stefano (London, GB)
Mensink, Johannes Lambertus Maria (Tervuren, BE)
Menif, Rached (Longuevill, BE)
Application Number:
11/712776
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/01/2007
Assignee:
The Procter & Gamble Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070228066Vacuum based napkin dispenserOctober, 2007Almas et al.
20060118571Versatile label sheet and sheet feeding mechanismJune, 2006Presutti et al.
20090159609Chewing gum disposal container and dispenserJune, 2009Tussy
20070145062Supply roll surface drive for a dispensing apparatusJune, 2007Formon et al.
20070295742Plastic Knife For Sensor-Dispensing InstrumentDecember, 2007Kheiri et al.
20040200852Cigarette rolling paper dispenserOctober, 2004Allison et al.
20080210703Wipes Being Formed Into A Non-Planar Form And Dispenses For Storing Said WipesSeptember, 2008Abbosh et al.
20070221679TIMED SINGLE UNIT PRODUCT DISPENSERSeptember, 2007Chandler et al.



Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dispensing aperture (1) for a container (2) comprising vertically stacked wipes (3), wherein said dispensing aperture (1) comprises at least three flaps (4) extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture (1), and wherein said dispensing aperture (1) is provided in a plane (5) defined by said container (2) which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

2. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said plane (5) forms an angle of from about 30 to about 90 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

3. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said plane (5) forms an angle of from about 80 to about 90 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

4. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said plane (5) is substantially orthogonal with a virtual vertical plane.

5. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1, wherein said container (2) comprises a body portion (7) and a cover member (8) attached thereto.

6. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 5, wherein said body portion (7) has a substantially rectangular shape.

7. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 5, wherein said cover member (8) is in the form of a substantially rectangular box-like body comprising a top wall (9), a front wall (10), a back wall (11), a pair of sidewalls (12) and an open bottom defining a cavity for receiving edges of the stack of wipes (3).

8. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 7 wherein said dispensing aperture (1) is provided in said top wall (9), and wherein the upper edges of said vertically stacked wipes (3) are placed near or in contact with said top wall (9) and adjacent to said dispensing aperture (1).

9. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 5, wherein said cover member (8) is removably mounted in said body portion (7).

10. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said at least three flaps (4) extend from opposite sides of said dispensing aperture (1).

11. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 10 wherein said opposite flaps (4) are tapered.

12. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 10 wherein said opposite flaps (4) are inclined with an angle of from about −90 degrees to about 90 degrees with respect to said plane (5).

13. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said at least three flaps (4) are offset and co-planar.

14. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said at least three flaps (4) are co-linear and non-adjacent to each other.

15. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein each of said flaps (4) has a tip (13) terminating the flap before an edge of an opposing side of said aperture.

16. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said dispensing aperture (1) is provided with a substantially ovoid shape having a central longitudinal axis (X-X).

17. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 14 wherein said at least three flaps (4) are substantially orthogonal to said central longitudinal axis (X-X).

18. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 10 wherein said opposite flaps (4) are provided with a length such that said opposite flaps (4) are not in contact with each other.

19. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said dispensing aperture is in communication with a secondary aperture (14).

20. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said container (2) further comprises a hinged lid (6) intended to sealingly cover said dispensing aperture (1).

21. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 20 wherein said lid (6) is provided with a fastening means.

22. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said container (2) further comprises a spring element.

23. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said wipes (3) are interleafed.

24. A dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1 wherein said wipes (3) are pre-moistened with a cleaning lotion.

25. A dispensing container (2) suitable for comprising vertically stacked wipes (3), wherein said container (2) comprises a dispensing aperture (1) according to claim 1.

26. A dispensing container (2) according to claim 25 which is a rigid container (2).

27. A process of manufacturing a container (2) for dispensing vertically stacked wipes (3), wherein said process comprises the steps of: (a) providing a container (2) suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes (3), wherein said container (2) defines a plane (5) which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane; (b) providing a dispensing aperture (1) located in said plane (5), wherein said dispensing aperture comprises at least three flaps (4) extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture (1).

28. A process of dispensing wipes (3) contained within a container (2), wherein said process comprises the steps of: (a) providing a container (2) suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes (3), wherein said container (2) defines a plane (5) which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane; (b) providing a dispensing aperture (1) located in said plane (5), wherein said dispensing aperture comprises at least three flaps (4) extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture (1); (c) disposing vertically stacked wipes (3) inside said container (2), each wipe (3) being releasably attached to an adjacent wipe (3); (d) partially drawing at least one first wipe (3) through said dispensing aperture (1) by reaching therethrough; (e) withdrawing said at least one first wipe (3) from said container (2); (f) separating said at least one first wipe (3) from said adjacent wipe (3), whereby said adjacent wipe (3) is prevented from falling back inside said container (2) by said at least three flaps (4); and (g) repeating steps (e) and (f) until all the wipes (3) contained within said container (2) are depleted.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/783,003 filed on 16 Mar. 2006.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to containers for dispensing wipes. More specifically, the invention is directed to a pop-up dispensing aperture for a container containing vertically stacked wipes.

BACKGROUND

Containers for dispensing wipes, and in particular pre-moistened wipes, are well known in the art. Wipes are typically supplied as a stack in sheet form from a generally rectangular-shaped box or dispenser. The dispenser has an opening, typically at the top, through which individual wipes are removed by the user. Wipes may also be stacked and packaged in a refill softpack.

Early wipe dispensers were of the “reach-in type”. The user had to insert his or her fingers through the dispensing opening, grasp a wipe, and pull it out through the dispensing opening.

Over time, the desire for increased convenience led to sequential or pop-up dispensers. In such dispensers, a wipe usually extends through the dispensing opening to an elevation above that of the dispenser package. The user simply grasps the exposed portion of the wipe, without the necessity of inserting fingers through the dispensing opening. In order to facilitate the removal of the wipes from the dispenser, the wipes are interfolded, which means that the wipes are folded into one-another, so that they form a chain of wipes being interconnected by folded portions. In this manner, when removing the top wipe from the stack of wipes and pulling the wipe completely through the dispensing opening in the dispensing box, the pulled-out wipe will automatically bring a portion of the next wipe in the stack through the opening thereby making it readily available for gripping and removing form the dispenser.

One problem frequently encountered in the pop-up dispensing packages of the prior art is the transition from the reach-in dispensing mode in which the product is shipped to the pop-up dispensing mode which is preferred by the consumer. The dispensing opening must be large enough to allow the consumer to reach his or her fingers therethrough to grasp the wipe and begin the pop-up dispensing process. On the other hand, the dispensing opening must be small enough to constrict the wipes dispensed therethrough, so that a wipe may be separated from the succeeding wipes.

A partial solution to the above-mentioned drawbacks has been provided with for example in U.S. Pat. No. 4,534,491, which discloses a canister-type dispensing device. However, the latter does not provide satisfactory accessibility to the contained wipes and the force required for the dispensing operation may be regarded as excessive by some users.

Another solution is proposed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,516,001 which describes a dispensing package for tissues comprising a dispensing opening having a large aperture in connection with a arcuate second smaller aperture. Still another solution is suggested in U.S. Pat. No. 6,905,025 disclosing a container for stacked tissue sheets comprising a dispensing opening provided with elongated projections. Although these solutions partially alleviate the above-mentioned drawbacks, the disclosed dispensing openings are strictly designed to function with horizontally stacked wipes and the associated dispensing containers tend to occupy excessive surface on the shelves or on cupboards. This partially explains why consumers generally prefer vertically standing packages.

Incidentally, the problem of accessing the initial wipe is particularly exacerbated in the case of vertically standing packages as the corresponding vertically stacked wipes typically provide even less grabbing surface than in the case of horizontally stacked wipes.

It is therefore an objective of the present invention to provide a dispensing aperture for a container comprising vertically stacked wipes, which provides improved sequential dispensing of the contained wipes while permitting enhanced accessibility to the wipes within the container.

It has now been found that this objective can be met by providing a dispensing aperture 1 for a container 2 comprising vertically stacked wipes, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1, and wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

Advantageously, the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention provides the user with a completely safe wipe dispensing experience, without the danger of finger injury. Also, the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention allows the user with a better viewing of the content of the container 2 and permits quick determination of the number of wipes 3 remaining within the container 2.

A further advantage associated with the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention is that it is operable with low dispensing force both with wet and dry wipes 3. Also, the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention efficiently prevents the dispensed wipes 3 from falling back through the dispensing container 2 during the dispensing process.

It is still another advantage that, due its particular configuration and shape, the dispensing container 2 associated with the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention is substantially thin profile, substantially flat, lightweight, easy to stack, and occupies less space per volume of wipes 3 enabling more effective storage and transport.

It is still a further benefit that the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention performs with low failure rate and provides in particular reduced “roping”, which is a phenomenon associated with most of the prior art dispensing openings wherein more than one wipe is dispensed through at a time.

Other advantages and more specific properties of the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention will be clear after reading the following description of the invention in combination with the attached drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a dispensing aperture 1 for a container 2 comprising vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1, and wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

In another embodiment, the present invention is directed to a dispensing container 2 suitable for comprising vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 comprises a dispensing aperture 1 as above-defined.

In still another embodiment, the present invention encompasses a process of manufacturing a container 2 for dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the process comprises the steps of: (a) providing a container 2 suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 defines a plane 5 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane; (b) providing a dispensing aperture 1 located in the plane 5, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1.

The present invention is further directed to a process of dispensing wipes 3 contained within a container 2, wherein the process comprises the steps of: (a) providing a container 2 suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 defines a plane 5 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane; (b) providing a dispensing aperture 1 located in the plane 5, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1; (c) disposing vertically stacked wipes 3 inside the container 2, each wipe being releasably attached to an adjacent wipe; (d) partially drawing at least one first wipe through the dispensing aperture 1 by reaching therethrough; (e) withdrawing the at least one first wipe from the container 2; (f) separating the at least one first wipe from the adjacent wipe, whereby the adjacent wipe is prevented from falling back inside the container 2 by the at least three flaps 4; and (g) repeating steps (e) and (f) until all the wipes 3 contained within the container 2 are depleted.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided with three flaps 4.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 which is substantially orthogonal with a virtual vertical plane.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided with four flaps 4.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided with seven flaps 4.

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is in communication with a secondary aperture 14.

FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is in communication with an alternative secondary aperture 14.

FIG. 7 is a detailed perspective view of an aperture according to another embodiment of the invention, wherein the flaps 4 are not co-planar.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

For the purposes of promoting and understanding the principles of the present invention, reference will be made to the embodiment illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. While this invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms, this specification and the accompanying drawings discloses specific forms as examples of the invention. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiment so described.

In a first embodiment, the present invention is directed to a dispensing aperture 1 for a container 2 comprising vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1, and wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

Referring to FIG. 1, a dispensing container 2 comprising a dispensing aperture 1 according to the invention and provided with three flaps 4, is represented. The embodied dispensing container 2 is further provided with a lid 6 in an open position to expose the dispensing aperture 1.

Container 2

In accordance with the present invention, and as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the dispensing container 2 typically comprises a body portion 7 having a generally upright and open-ended shape for receiving and holding wipes 3. Preferably, said body portion 7 comprises a lower closed end for supporting said body portion 7, and an upper open end delimiting a dispensing opening.

Suitable body portions 7 are well known in the art of wipe packaging. Body portion 7 for use in the present invention are preferably relatively rigid, such as that described e.g. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,905,025 or in WO-A-2005/091981. Typically, rigid or semi-rigid body portions 7 are made from thermoformed material, molded plastic, polymeric material, metallized or laminate structures, lined paperboards or cardboard materials. Alternatively, a suitable body portion 7 for use herein may be made from flexible material such as a multilayered polymeric film.

The body portion 7 for use in the present invention being preferably rigid, the disclosure herein will be primarily directed towards rigid embodiments of the present invention, but it is not so limited. Preferably, said body portion 7 is constructed from lightweight thermoplastic material.

Rigid body portions 7 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention may have virtually any suitable configuration, form or dimension for accommodating vertically stacked wipes 3. Suitable shapes for the body portion 7 of the present invention include but are not limited to cylindrical or upright rectangular.

In a preferred execution of the present invention, the body portion 7 for use herein is substantially rectangular in shape, and defines a substantially rectangular profile (see FIG. 1). Preferred body portion 7 defines an upper open end and has a bottom wall joined to a front and rear wall, and a pair of sidewalls.

The body portion 7 forms an internal space or pocket for housing the vertically stacked wipes 3 contained within the dispensing container 2. The wipes 3 may be packaged in the dispensing container 2 in any convenient configuration which allows easy removal of a single or multiple wipes 3 from the dispensing container 2.

Cover Member 8

The dispensing container 2 for use in the present invention preferably further comprises a cover member 8.

Cover member 8 for use herein, may virtually have any suitable configuration, form or dimension for accommodating the upper open end of the body portion 7. Suitable configuration for the cover member 8 will be readily recognized by those skilled in the art. Suitable shapes for cover member 8 for use in the present invention include, but are not limited to, cylindrical box-like body or rectangular box-like body.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, and as represented in FIG. 1, the cover member 8 is in the form of a substantially rectangular box-like body comprising a top wall 9, a front wall 10, a back wall 11, a pair of sidewalls 12 and an open bottom defining a cavity for receiving edges of the stack of wipes 3.

In one embodiment of the present invention (not represented), the cover member 8 is an integral part of the body portion 7 which permanently covers the upper open end of said body portion 7. According to this execution of the present invention, the cover member 8 is totally integrated within the structure of the body portion 7 such as no delimitation exists between those two parts. A dispensing container 2 according to this embodiment will preferably include a separate loading opening (not represented) so as to permit the dispensing container 2 to be loaded with a set of vertically stacked wipes 3.

According to a preferred embodiment, the cover member 8 is a separate element from the body portion 7, which is preferably removably mounted in the upper open end of said body portion 7. The cover member 8 may be easily removed to permit access to the interior of the body portion 7, and therefore remove any wipe not drawn through the dispensing container 2 or refill the body portion 7 with a new set of vertically stacked wipes 3. Typically, the cover member 8 is press fit into the upper open end of the body portion 7.

Dispensing Aperture 1

As above-indicated, the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention is provided with at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture 1, and wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane.

The dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention may virtually have any suitable configuration, form or dimension for accommodating the dimension and shape of the cover member 8 as well as the characteristics of the wipe material. Suitable configuration for the dispensing aperture 1 for use herein will be readily recognized by those skilled in the art.

According to a highly preferred execution, and as represented in FIG. 1 to FIG. 5, the dispensing aperture 1 according to the invention is provided with a substantially ovoid shape having a central longitudinal axis (X-X). While preferred shapes and sizes of the dispensing apertures 1 are represented in the accompanying drawings, other configurations may be used within the confines of the invention.

As above-mentioned, the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane. Preferably, the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of from about 30 to about 90 degrees, more preferably from about 80 to about 90 degrees, with a virtual vertical plane (see FIG. 1; FIG. 3 and FIG. 4). In a highly preferred execution of the invention, the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 which is substantially orthogonal with a virtual vertical plane. This specific embodiment is represented in FIG. 2, FIG. 5 and FIG. 6.

According to a preferred embodiment, the dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention is located in said cover member 8. Even more preferably, but not necessarily, the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in the top wall 9 of said cover member 8.

The dispensing aperture 1 according to the present invention further comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture 1.

Flaps 4 for use herein may virtually have any suitable configuration, form or dimension for accommodating the dimension and shape of the dispensing aperture 1 as well as the characteristics of the wipe material. Suitable configuration for the flaps 4 for use herein will readily be recognized by those skilled in the art. However, flaps 4 for use herein shall extend substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture 1.

By “extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture”, it is meant herein that the main axis of each flap points substantially towards the opening created by said aperture and not towards the direction opposite to the opening created by said aperture.

It has been surprisingly discovered that by providing a dispensing aperture 1 comprising at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of said dispensing aperture 1, and wherein the dispensing aperture 1 is provided in a plane 5 defined by the container 2 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane, a number of benefits is obtained, including improved access to the wipe 3, improved reach into the container 2, improved visibility of the wipes 3 and reduced failure rate during the dispensing process, and reduced dispensing force. In particular, the improved access to the container 2 makes the removal of the first and the last wipe 3 much easier, particularly in the case of pre-moistened wipes 3.

Also, the provision of at least three flaps 4 to the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention efficiently prevents the dispensed wipes 3 from falling back through the dispensing aperture 1 and into the dispensing container 2.

According to a highly preferred execution, and as represented in the accompanying drawings, the flaps 4 for use herein are preferably in the form of elongated protrusions or fingers. The purpose of said flaps 4 is to provide a gripping action so as to allow dispensed wipes 3 to be retained in the normal course of dispensing operation and being prevented from falling back through the dispensing aperture 1 and into the dispensing container 2.

More specifically, when the first wipe is being pulled out through the aperture, the flaps 4 will be slightly raised upwards by the wipe. The pulled-out wipe will automatically bring a portion of the next wipe out through the dispensing aperture 1, where it will pass between the flaps 4. As the first wipe is removed, the following wipe will be held in position and prevented from falling back into the container 2 by the gripping action of the flaps 4. Therefore, the flaps 4 shall be sufficient flexible to allow a wipe to be pulled out, while at the same time being sufficiently stiff to retain the wipe and prevent it from falling back into the container 2.

Accordingly, the thickness and stiffness of suitable material used for making the flaps 4 shall be selected to match the properties of the dispensed wipes 3. Preferably, the flaps 4 are tapered to be as less damaging as possible for the wipes 3.

The at least three flaps 4 or protrusions for use herein may be attached to the inner or outer surface of the top wall 9 in a suitable configuration and using suitable means of attachment.

Suitable configuration and suitable means of attachment will be readily recognized by those skilled in the art of dispensing packaging. Alternatively, and according to a preferred execution, said flaps 4 may be integrated into the top wall 9 itself, by e.g. making the flaps 4 integrally part of the top wall 9. This may be realized by having the flaps 4 punched or cut in said to-become top wall 9.

According to a preferred execution of the present invention, the at least three flaps 4 extend from opposite sides of said dispensing aperture 1. According to this specific execution, the dispensing aperture 1 of the present invention comprises two sets of opposing flaps 4, as represented e.g. in FIG. 4.

Suitable configurations and arrangements of the at least three flaps 4 comprised in said dispensing aperture 1 may take various forms depending upon the desired effect, the intensity of the gripping action and the properties of the wipe material. Those will be easily recognized by the persons skilled in the art of dispensing packaging.

Preferably, the at least three flaps 4 are placed in the same plane (co-planar). In a preferred execution, flaps 4 for use herein are disposed in an overlapping arrangement, i.e. the flaps 4 extending form opposite directions are placed in between each other (see FIG. 4 or FIG. 5). According to this specific embodiment, the at least three flaps 4 are offset and co-planar.

In another preferred embodiment, said at least three flaps 4 are inclined with an angle of from about −90 degrees to about 90 degrees with respect to the plane 5 wherein said dispensing aperture 1 is provided in. According to this execution, the flaps 4 are said non co-planar, as represented in FIG. 7.

Alternatively, the flaps 4 may be placed in a non-overlapping configuration such as represented in FIG. 3, wherein said at least three flaps 4 are facing with each-other. According to the execution embodied in FIG. 3, at least two flaps 4 from opposite sides of said dispensing apertures 1 are co-linear and adjacent to each other. In an alternative execution represented in FIG. 4, said at least three flaps 4 are co-linear and non-adjacent to each other. Still another alternative execution of the dispensing aperture 1 according to the invention is represented in FIG. 6, wherein said at least three flaps 4 are non co-linear and offset.

In the specific embodiment wherein the at least three flaps 4 are co-linear, it is preferred that the latter be substantially orthogonal to the central longitudinal axis (X-X) of said dispensing aperture 1.

Although said at least three flaps 4 may be provided with various shape and size, it is preferred that each of said flaps 4 has a tip 13 terminating the flap before an edge of an opposing side of said aperture, preferably before the tip 13 of an opposing flap. According to this preferred execution, said opposite flaps 4 are provided with a length such that said opposite flaps 4 are not in contact with each other at any moment.

According to an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the dispensing aperture 1 is in communication with a secondary aperture 14, as represented in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6.

The dispensing aperture 1 and the secondary aperture 14 may be co-planar or non co-planar, preferably non co-planar.

Preferably, said secondary aperture 14 is larger than said dispensing aperture 1. More preferably, the dispensing aperture 1 and the secondary aperture 14 are in communication with each other via a guiding channel 15, preferably a V-shaped guiding channel, as represented in FIG. 6. According to a preferred execution of this alternative embodiment of the present invention, the secondary aperture 14 shall be adapted so as to permit the user to insert a finger and grab onto the leading edge of a wipe 3 contained within the dispensing container 2.

According to a very preferred execution, the secondary aperture 14, is located in the front wall 10 and partially extends over the top wall 9 of said cover member 8. As for the dispensing aperture 1, it is located in the top wall 9 of said cover member 8. In a highly preferred embodiment, the configuration of the dispensing aperture 1, the secondary aperture 14 and the guiding channel 15 is such that part of said at least three flaps 4 are formed from said guiding channel 15 reaching into said dispensing aperture 1.

While preferred shapes and sizes of the dispensing and secondary apertures 14 are represented in the accompanying drawings, other configurations may be used within the confines of the invention.

In a preferred execution, the edges of the dispensing aperture 1 and the secondary aperture 14 are provided with a soft material so that neither the wipe nor the user's finger may be caught or damaged when drawing the wipe from the dispensing container 2.

Lid 6

The container 2 for use herein may optionally, but preferably, comprise a lid 6 intended to cover the cover-member, the contained dispensing aperture 1, and if present the secondary aperture 14 (see e.g. FIG. 1).

A lid 6 for use herein may virtually have any suitable configuration, form or dimension for accommodating the dimension and shape of the cover member 8 as well as the characteristics of the contained wipes 3. Suitable lid 6 for use herein will easily be recognized by those skilled in the art of packaging.

Preferably, the lid 6 for use in the present invention is capable of providing air-tight sealing with respect to the content of the dispensing container 2. The lid 6 is typically constructed from the same material as the body portion 7, preferably of lightweight molded thermoplastic. The body portion 7 and the lid 6 may be manufactured from a single mold therefore lowering production costs.

The lid 6 is preferably attached to the body portion 7 via a suitable articulation means, which is preferably a hinge or any hinge-type assembly commonly known in the art. When deployed in the open position, the cover member 8 is exposed. The lid 6 may preferably include any fastening means commonly known in the art, in order to securely close the lid 6 and to keep the wipes 3 from drying out, when pre-moistened wipes 3 are contained within the dispensing container 2. According to a preferred aspect of the invention, the lid 6 is further provided with a gripping means, which is preferably a finger grip. Any gripping means commonly known in the art may be used in the context of the present invention. In a very preferred embodiment, the gripping means is especially adapted to provide suitable gripping by pinching with two fingers.

The exterior configuration of the lid 6 for use herein may be varied as desired for aesthetic appearance. The latter may be e.g. provided with incrustations, serrations, grooves, indentations or any other operation commonly know in the art.

Spring Element

As another optional, but preferred feature, the container 2 for use herein may further include a spring element (not represented), preferably in the form of a leaf spring. The leaf spring is intended to press the wipes 3 toward one wall of the body portion 7 and toward the upper end of the body portion 7. The leaf spring substantially retains the vertically stacked wipes 3 in an upright fixed position to help dispense preferably one wipe at a time.

Wipe 3

As used herein, the term wipe refers to e.g. cleaning wipe, baby wipe, facial wipe, cosmetic and/or hygiene wipe, and the like. The intended use, however, does not limit the final product. By way of a non-limiting example, a preferred wipe 3 for dispensing from the container 2 of the present invention is a surface cleaning wipe, preferably a hard surface cleaning wipe.

In a preferred execution of the present invention, the wipes 3 are pre-moistened wipes, sometimes referred to as wet wipes 3, or towelettes. In that specific preferred embodiment of the present invention, pre-moistened wipes 3 are impregnated with an appropriate cleansing or cleaning lotion. In a highly preferred embodiment, the pre-moistened wipes 3 for use in the present invention, are impregnated with a hard-surface cleaning lotion.

Suitable lotions for use in the context of the present invention as well as optional ingredients which may be incorporated in said lotion are described for example in WO 03/031557 under the paragraph entitled “Aqueous Composition” from page 12 to page 36.

As above-indicated, the body portion 7 for use herein forms an internal space or pocket for housing the vertically stacked wipes 3 contained within the dispensing container 2. The wipes 3 may be packaged in the dispensing container 2 in any convenient configuration which allows easy removal of a single or multiple wipes 3 from the dispensing container 2. Preferably, the wipes 3 are packaged stacks and are interleafed. According to any of these configurations, each wipe 3 is releasably attached to an adjacent wipe 3.

More preferably, the wipes 3 provided in a stacked configuration may comprise any number of wipes 3. Typically, the stack comprises from 2 to 150, more preferably from 5 to 100, most preferably from 10 to 60 wipes. Moreover, the wipes 3 may be provided folded or unfolded. Most preferably, the wipes 3 are stacked in a folded configuration.

The stack of non-leafed or interleafed wipes 3 may be placed directly into the body portion 7. The longitudinal axis of the stack runs parallel to longitudinal axis of the body portion 7. The wipes 3 can generally be described as having two opposing planar faces and edges surrounding the perimeter of the faces. The stack of wipes 3 is loaded vertically into the body portion 7, so that the wipes 3 are loaded on their edge with the planar faces of the wipes 3 facing the front and back walls of the body portion 7. The stack of wipes 3 may be oriented in a direction such that the planar surface and a leading edge of the wipes 3 faces the front of the body portion 7.

When fully loaded with wipes 3, the pressure on the wipes 3 will force the uppermost edge of the wipes 3 at the front of the container 2 to fan or pivot forward, presenting the leading edge of the wipe that can be easily reached by the user through the dispensing aperture 1. The user can then withdraw the wipe through the dispensing aperture 1. According to the alternative executions embodied in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, that user will easily reach the wipe 3 through the secondary aperture 14, and then channel the wipe 3 through the guiding channel 15 into the dispensing aperture 1, to be withdrawn by the user from the dispensing container 2.

The user can remove the individual wipe 3 from the edge of the stack by grasping an edge of a wipe 3 rather than grasping the middle of the planar surface of the wipe 3. Once an interfolded wipe 3 is dispensed, a second interfolded wipe 3 pops up through the dispensing aperture 1. In contrast to prior art dispensing container 2 and methods, the wipe 3 is peeled or slid away from the rest of the stack of wipes 3, rather than unleaving the wipe 3 as in other containers and methods. The front wipe 3 is pulled at the leading edge of the wipe in a direction parallel to the direction of the wipe 3. This makes it easier to dispense one wipe 3 at a time. Depending on the fold pattern of the wipes 3, the cover member 8 permits a single wipe 3 at a time to dispense with the next wipe's tail trailing or the cover member 8 may be rethreaded for each use.

In use, and according to a highly preferred execution of the present invention, the lid 6 may be flipped open by the user to expose the wipe drawn through the dispensing aperture 1 in the cover member 8. If the wipe 3 is not exposed, the user may either grasp one of the wipes 3 through the dispensing opening of the cover member 8, or temporarily remove the cover member 8 to gain access to the interior of the dispensing container 2. Similarly, when the dispensing container 2 is empty, it may be refilled by removing the cover member 8, inserting the refill stack of vertically configured wipes 3, and replacing the cover member 8 followed by drawing of the wipe through the dispensing aperture 1, respectively.

According to an alternative execution of the invention, wherein the cover member 8 is integrally part of the body portion 7, the dispensing container 2 will preferably include a separate loading opening (not represented), preferably a bottom loading opening so as to permit the dispensing container 2 to be refilled with a new set of vertically stacked wipes 3.

Once the wipe has been removed, the lid 6 may be securely snapped closed to conveniently store or transport the wipe dispensing container 2 until next use. The wipe may be dispensed whether the container 2 is positioned horizontally or vertically on a surface or within a drawer.

A Process of Manufacturing a Container 2 for Dispensing Vertically Stacked Wipes 3

In another embodiment, the present invention encompasses process of manufacturing a container 2 for dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the process comprises the steps of:

    • (a) providing a container 2 suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 defines a plane 5 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane;
    • (b) providing a dispensing aperture 1 located in the plane 5, wherein the dispensing aperture 1 comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1.

A Method of Dispensing Wipes 3 Contained within a Container 2

The present invention is further directed to process of dispensing wipes 3 contained within a container 2, wherein the process comprises the steps of:

    • (a) providing a container 2 suitable for containing and dispensing vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 defines a plane 5 which forms an angle of at least about 20 degrees with a virtual vertical plane;
    • (b) providing a dispensing aperture 1 located in the plane 5, wherein the dispensing aperture comprises at least three flaps 4 extending substantially towards the interior of the dispensing aperture 1;
    • (c) disposing vertically stacked wipes 3 inside the container 2, each wipe 3 being releasably attached to an adjacent wipe 3;
    • (d) partially drawing at least one first wipe through the dispensing aperture 1 by reaching therethrough;
    • (e) withdrawing the at least one first wipe from the container 2;
    • (f) separating the at least one first wipe 3 from the adjacent wipe 3, whereby the adjacent wipe 3 is prevented from falling back inside said container 2 by the at least three flaps 4; and
    • (g) repeating steps (e) and (f) until all the wipes 3 contained within the container 2 are depleted.

Dispensing Container 2

In still a further embodiment, the present invention is directed to a dispensing container 2 suitable for comprising vertically stacked wipes 3, wherein the container 2 comprises a dispensing aperture 1 as herein-described.

Although a particular embodiment of the invention has been described in detail for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be limited, except as by the appended claims.

The dimensions and values disclosed herein are not to be understood as being strictly limited to the exact numerical values recited. Instead, unless otherwise specified, each such dimension is intended to mean both the recited values and a functionally equivalent range surrounding that value. For example, a dimension disclosed as “40 mm” is intended to mean “about 40 mm”.

All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention. To the extent that any meaning or definition of a term in this written document conflicts with any meaning or definition of the term in a document incorporated by reference, the meaning or definition assigned to the term in this written document shall govern.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.