Title:
Portable dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spill proof, portable dispenser including a top attached to a bottom on a first side, a lid attached to the bottom on a second side, and wherein the top can only be opened after first opening the lid. Thus, when the dispenser is closed, the top is prevented from opening relative to the bottom unless the lid is first opened. The dispenser can be easily refilled by first opening the lid and then opening the top to access the dispenser's interior.



Inventors:
Fulscher, Ryan L. (Neenah, WI, US)
Schlaupitz, Robert Samuel (New London, WI, US)
Cowell, Christine M. (Neenah, WI, US)
Shoaf, Tim W. (Appleton, WI, US)
Nukuto, George I. (Neenah, WI, US)
Campbell, Jason Craig (Chicago, IL, US)
Bakker, Karl Antoine (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/399842
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PAGAN, JENINE MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. (Neenah, WI, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A dispenser comprising a top attached to a bottom on a first side, a lid attached to the bottom on a second side, and wherein the top can only be opened after first opening the lid.

2. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the bottom comprises a tub having a floor and an upstanding sidewall.

3. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the top comprises a main lid having an upper surface, a distending sidewall, and a dispensing orifice located in the upper dispensing surface.

4. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the top comprises a main lid having an upper surface and a distending sidewall.

5. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the lid comprises a mini-lid having an overlapping section and a pivoting extension and forming an L-shape.

6. The dispenser of claim 2 wherein the lid comprises a mini-lid having an overlapping section and a pivoting extension and forming an L-shape.

7. The dispenser of claim 3 wherein the lid comprises a mini-lid having an overlapping section and a pivoting extension and forming an L-shape.

8. The dispenser of claim 2 wherein the tub has an overall height, Hb, and the dispenser has an overall height, Hd, and ratio of Hd/Hb is between about 0.53 to about 0.75.

9. The dispenser of claim 3 wherein the main lid has an overall height, Ht, and the dispenser has an overall height, Hd, and Ht is less than about ½ Hd.

10. The dispenser of claim 5 wherein the mini-lid covers the dispensing orifice and only a portion of the top.

11. The dispenser of claim 7 wherein the mini-lid covers the dispensing orifice and only a portion of the upper surface.

12. The dispenser of claim 1 having an overall height, Hd, and wherein Hd is between about 0.5″ to about 1.5″.

13. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the top and the bottom are substantially rectangular in shape, and the top and the lid are hingedly attached on opposing sides of the bottom.

14. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the top and the bottom are substantially rectangular in shape, and the top and the lid are hingedly attached on adjacent sides of the bottom.

15. The dispenser of claim 7 wherein the mini-lid further comprises an opening tab attached to the overlapping section, the main lid comprises an opening recess adjacent to the dispensing orifice, and wherein the opening tab is lower in elevation with respect to the overlapping section such that at least a portion of the opening tab is disposed in the opening recess.

16. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the lid comprises a living hinge connecting the lid to at least one tab, and wherein the lid is attached to the bottom comprising at least one slot by placing the at least one tab into the at least one slot.

17. The dispenser of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of wet wipes contained within the dispenser.

18. The dispenser of claim 17 wherein the wet wipes are located in a flexible pouch having at least one seals and wherein the at least one seal has a seal height, Hs.

19. The dispenser of claim 18 wherein the bottom has a height, Hb, and Hb is greater than Hs such that when the flexible pouch is placed into the bottom, the at least one seal is folded up adjacent to the upstanding sidewall of the bottom.

20. The dispenser of claim 19 wherein the bottom has an overall height, Hb, and the dispenser has an overall height, Hd, and ratio of Hd/Hb is between about 0.53 to about 0.75.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Dispensers for wet wipes and other substrates come in a wide variety of types and styles. Frequently, there is a consumer desire to have a dispenser that is highly portable and suitable for placement in the car, the home, a purse, a diaper bag, or other luggage. There are dispensers that are small enough to be used in a portable manner. Current portable dispensers can open inadvertently subjecting the contents of the dispenser to dirt, contamination, or even having the wet wipes fall out ruining the contents. This can be especially true if the dispenser is accidentally dropped, and thereafter impacts a hard surface such as a floor. Thus, it is important that the dispenser have a secure closure to keep the contents from inadvertently spilling. Yet, at the same time, the contents of the dispenser need to be readily accessible without an undue struggle to access the wet wipes when needed. Frequently, wet wipes are used to clean up spills or during diapering of a child. The dispenser's ease of use is important for these tasks when speed or the capability to open the dispenser using only one hand is an advantage. Thus, there is a need for a dispenser that securely maintains the wet wipes within the dispenser while at the same time provides ready access to them when needed.

SUMMARY

The inventors have determined that such a need can be fulfilled by having a dispenser with a top, a bottom and a lid. The top is attached to the bottom on a first side, and the lid can be attached to the bottom on a second side opposite the top. Thus when the dispenser is closed, the top is prevented from opening relative to the bottom unless the lid is first opened. The dispenser can be easily refilled by first opening the lid and then opening the top to access the dispenser's interior.

Hence in one aspect, the invention resides in a dispenser including a top attached to a bottom on a first side, a lid attached to the bottom on a second side, and wherein the top can only be opened after first opening the lid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above aspects and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of a partially opened dispenser.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of a closed dispenser.

FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of a fully opened dispenser.

FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of the dispenser with the lid opened and the top closed.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of one embodiment of a lid.

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of one embodiment of the lid of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 illustrates a refill pouch housing a plurality of wet wipes.

Repeated use of reference characters in the specification and drawings is intended to represent the same or analogous features or elements of the invention.

DEFINITIONS

As used herein, forms of the words of “comprise”, “have”, and “include” are legally equivalent and are open-ended. Therefore, additional non-recited elements, functions, steps, or limitations may be present in addition to the recited elements, functions, steps, or limitations.

As used herein, “substrate” is a flexible sheet or web material, which is useful for household chores, personal care, health care, food wrapping, and cosmetic application or removal. Non-limiting examples of suitable substrates of the present invention include nonwoven substrates, woven substrates, hydro-entangled substrates, air-entangled substrates, paper substrates comprising cellulose such as facial tissue, toilet paper, or paper towels, waxed paper substrates, coform substrates, wet wipes, film or plastic substrates such as those used to wrap food, and metal substrates such as aluminum foil. Further examples of suitable substrates include a substantially dry substrate (less than 10% by weight of water) containing lathering surfactants and conditioning agents either impregnated into or applied to the substrate such that wetting of the substrate with water prior to use yields a personal cleansing product. Such substrates are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,980,931 entitled Cleansing Products Having A Substantially Dry Substrate, issued to Fowler et al. on Nov. 9, 1999. Other suitable substrates may have encapsulated ingredients such that the capsules rupture during dispensing or use. Other suitable substrates include dry substrates that deliver liquid when subjected to in-use shear and compressive forces. Such substrates are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,121,165 entitled Wet-Like Cleaning Articles issued to Mackay et al. on Sep. 19, 2000. Furthermore, laminated or plied together substrates of two or more layers of any of the preceding substrates are suitable.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It is to be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the present discussion is a description of exemplary embodiments only and is not intended as limiting the broader aspects of the present invention, which broader aspects are embodied in the exemplary construction.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, one embodiment of the substrate dispenser 20 is shown. The dispenser 20 can be made of suitable materials such as polyolefins, styrenics, or other semi-rigid plastics or any combination thereof. The dispenser 20 includes a top 22, a bottom 24, and a lid 26. The top 22 is attached to a first side 28 of the bottom 24 by a first hinge 30. The lid 26 is attached to a second side 32 of the bottom 24 by a second hinge 34. Since the lid 26 is hinged to the bottom 24, the lid 26 must be first opened to open the top 22 as best shown in FIG. 1. Thus, in the event that the dispenser 20 is dropped, the top 22 is less likely to open spilling the contents of the dispenser since the top 22 is restrained from opening by the lid 26 and by the bottom 24. The top 22 can be restrained from opening where it mates with the bottom 24, and the top 22 can be restrained from opening by the overlapping lid 26. Thus, two methods can be used to prevent the top from opening providing a more spill-proof dispenser. In one embodiment, the top 22 and the lid 26 were hinged on opposite sides of the bottom 24. In another embodiment, the top 22 and the lid 26 were hinged on adjacent sides of the bottom 24.

The top 22 and lid 26 can be attached to the bottom 24 by living hinges, separate hinge pieces, formed hinges using one or more pins that fit into one or more holes, flexible straps, adhesive tape seams or any other method to hingably attach two components as known to those of skill in the art. In one embodiment, the top 22 was attached to the bottom 24 by first hinge 30, that was a living hinge. As such, the top 22 and bottom 24 can be molded as one unitary piece. In one embodiment, the lid 26 was a separate piece that was attached to the bottom 24 by one or more tabs 33 that fit into one or more slots 35 in the bottom 24 as best seen in FIGS. 4, 5, and 6. The tabs and slots can be designed such that the parts snap-fit together making removal or separation difficult. The tabs 33 can be joined to the lid 26 by the second hinge 34, which can be a living hinge. Alternatively, the top 22, bottom 24, and lid 26 can be separately molded pieces that are attached to each other, or the three pieces can be molded as an integral assembly.

In one embodiment, the bottom 24 was a tub 36 having a floor 38 and an upstanding sidewall 40. Located on an upper edge 42 of the upstanding sidewall 40 is a sealing flange 44 extending substantially along the perimeter of the upper edge 42. The tub 36 is substantially rectangular in shape, although this is not necessary, and the tub 36 can be any convenient size or shape such as square, round, polygon, etc. The edges where the upstanding sidewall 40 meet with the floor 38 can be radiused, and the corners of the rectangular sidewall 40 can also be radiused or rounded. This can make the dispenser 20 more comfortable to hold.

In various embodiments, the overall height of the bottom, Hb, can be less than, equal to, or greater than about ½ the overall height of the dispenser 20. For example, the bottom 24 can comprise most of the dispenser's overall height and the top 22 can be relatively flat. Conversely, the top 22 can comprise most of the dispenser's overall height and the bottom 24 can be relatively flat. Alternatively, the top and bottom can be approximately the same height.

In various embodiments, the overall height of the bottom, Hb, can be between about 0.25″ to about 2 inches, or between about 0.25″ to about 1.5 inches, or between about 0.25″ to about 1 inch. The overall height of the dispenser, Hd, can be between about 0.5″ to about 4 inches, or between about 0.5″ to about 2.5 inches, or between about 0.5″ to about 1.5 inches.

In one embodiment, the top 22 was a main lid 46 allowing for access to the tub 36 and the main lid 46 included an upper surface 48 having a dispensing orifice 50 and a distending sidewall 52. With the main lid 46 opened, the tub 36 can be refilled with a plurality of wet wipes or other substrates. Located on a lower edge 54 of the distending sidewall 52 is a sealing recess 56 extending substantially along the perimeter of the lower edge 54. The sealing recess 56 and the sealing flange 44 can be sized to a slight interference fit such that the top 22 and the bottom 24 will mate together. Alternatively, the sealing recess 56 and sealing flange 44 can be sized to guide the top 22 and the bottom 24 while closing them with no interference.

Alternatively, the sealing flange 44 and/or sealing recess 56 can be modified such that the top 22 and the bottom 24 snap or removably lock together as known by those of skill in the art. For example, a bead can be located on the sealing flange 44 that snaps into a groove on the sealing recess 56. Alternatively, the sealing flange 44 can fit or mate between the sealing recess 56 and an additional flange that extends from the main lid 46 creating a groove for the sealing flange 44 to snap into. Alternatively, either the main lid 46 or the tub 36 can have one or more projections that mate with a suitable recess in the opposing part. Regardless of the specific mechanism used, it is desirable for the main lid 46 to latch, snap, or fit tightly with the tub 36 such that if the dispenser 20 is inverted and held by the tub 36 with the lid 26 opened, the main lid 46 and tub 36 do not separate or open due to the force of gravity acting on the main lid 46. The latch, snap or tight fit should be not too great so as to prevent a person from opening the main lid 46 relative to the tub 36 to refill the dispenser.

The top 22 is substantially rectangular in shape, although this is not necessary, and the top 22 can be any convenient size or shape such as square, round, polygon, etc. The edges where the distending sidewall 52 meet with the upper dispensing surface 48 can be radiused, and the corners of the rectangular distending sidewall 52 can also be radiused or rounded. This can make the dispenser 20 more comfortable to hold. The top 22 or main lid 46 can also have a surface texture 55 located opposite the first hinge 30 as best seen in FIG. 4. The surface texture, such as a series of molded lines or grooves, can assist with opening the main lid 46 to refill the tub 36.

In various embodiments, the overall height of the top, Ht, can be less than, equal to, or greater than about ½ the overall height of the dispenser 20. For example, the top 22 can comprise most of the dispenser's overall height and the bottom 24 can be relatively flat. Conversely, the bottom 24 can comprise most of the dispenser's overall height and the top 22 can be relatively flat. Alternatively, the top and bottom can be approximately the same height. In various embodiments, the overall height of the top, Ht, can be between about 0.25″ to about 2 inches, or between about 0.25″ to about 1 inch, or between about 0.25″ to about 0.75 inch.

It can be advantageous to make the top 22 shorter than the bottom 24 since this can make it easier to refill the dispenser with fresh wet wipes. For example, if the wet wipes are packaged in a refill pouch or other flexible packaging, having the tub 36 extend to a height, Hb, greater than ½ the dispenser's overall height, Hd, can help fold the seals of the refill pouch upward and out of the way to assist in closing the main lid 46 onto the tub 36. Alternately, if the bottom 24 is taller than the top 22, it can be easier to fill the tub 36 with a stack of wipes and have the stack less likely to fall out since it will be better contained by the tub. In various embodiments of the invention, the ratio of the bottom height to the dispenser's height, Hb/Hd can be between about 0.51 to about 0.9, or between about 0.53 to about 0.75, or between about 0.55 to about 0.65.

In one embodiment, the upper dispensing surface 48 of the main lid 46 included an opening recess 58 for easier access to an opening tab 60 located on the lid 26. The main lid 46 also included one or more orifice flange(s) 62 extending from the upper dispensing surface 48 for improved sealing of the dispensing orifice 50. The dispensing orifice 50 can be any shape or size. Preferably, the dispensing orifice is sized to be smaller than the lid or top dimensions to create resistance when dispensing the wet wipes and can be round, oval, or square. The dispensing orifice can be a flexible slit or opening in a rubber-like material as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,523,690; 6,592,004; and 6,766,919.

In one embodiment, the lid 26 was a mini-lid 64 that covered only a portion of the top 22 such as a portion of the upper surface 48 and the dispensing orifice 50. The mini-lid 64 can be hingedly attached to the upstanding sidewall 40 of the tub 36. As such, the mini-lid 64 must be first opened to open the main lid 46 as best seen in FIG. 1. Thus, in the event that the dispenser 20 is dropped, the main lid 46 is unlikely to open thereby spilling the contents of the dispenser 20. The main lid 46 is secured by both sealing flange 44 and the sealing recess 56, and by the overlapping mini-lid 64 hinged to the tub 36.

In one embodiment, the mini-lid 64 was “L” shaped having an overlapping section 66 that contacts the upper surface 48 and a pivoting extension 68. The pivoting extension 68 can be reinforced with one or more ribs 69 as known to those of skill in the art. Extending from the overlapping section 66 can be one or more dispensing flanges 70 that mate with the orifice flange 62. For example, there can be two dispensing flanges 70 such as a taller outer dispensing flange 72 and a shorter inner dispensing flange 74. The orifice flange 62 can mate between the two dispensing flanges (72, 74) when the mini-lid 64 is closed, forming a substantially air tight seal. Alternatively, other methods known to those of skill in the art can be used to form a substantially air tight seal when the mini-lid 64 is closed.

In one embodiment, the lid 26 or mini-lid 64 included an opening tab 60 located on the overlapping section 66 opposite the pivoting extension 68. The opening tab can be any convenient size or shape to assist in opening the lid 26. It can be located on any portion of the lid 26, but is desirably located on the overlapping section 66. Desirably the opening tab 60 has a downward turn or is lower in elevation with respect to the overlapping section 66 as best seen in FIG. 6. This protects the leading edge of the opening tab 60 since at least a portion of the opening tab is disposed in the opening recess 58 where it is much less likely to catch on the edge of a purse, pocket, or bag thereby inadvertently opening the mini-lid as best seen in FIG. 2.

The lid 26 or mini-lid 64 can further include a latching projection or latching recess 76 that mates with a locking projection or locking recess 78 on the top 22 to securely hold the lid 26 closed. For example, the lid 26 can have a latching projection and the top 22 a locking recess, or the lid 26 can have a latching recess and the top 22 a locking projection. Alternatively, the lid 26 and the top 22 can both have a projection such as two hooks or latches that mate with an interference that secures the lid 26 closed. To assist with opening the lid 26, at least a portion of the lid 26 or the top 22 is flexible such that when the opening tab 60 is engaged by a finger, the mechanism holding the lid 26 closed is more easily disengaged.

Referring now to FIG. 7, a plurality of wet wipes 80 are disposed in a flexible pouch 82 having at least one seal 84 or opposing seals 84 located on either end of the pouch. The pouch 82 includes a removable label 85 that can help to retain the moisture of the wet wipes during shipping. The label 85 can be removably attached to the pouch 82 by an adhesive. The label 85 is removed to expose a dispensing opening 86 for dispensing the wet wipes 80. The flexible pouch has a seal height, Hs, of the at least one seal 84 as shown. In one embodiment, the bottom 24 of the dispenser 20 has a height, Hb, that is greater than the seal height Hs. The bottom 24 can also have an overall width, W, or length, L, that is less then the overall seal length, Lp, of the flexible pouch 82 measured between the opposing sealed ends or measured from one side of the flexible pouch 82 to the end of the at least one seal 84. The seals 84 can be located on both ends, both sides, on just one side, or on all four sides.

By dimensioning the bottom 24 in this manner, the seals 84 of the pouch can be folded up adjacent to the upstanding sidewall 40 of the tub and out of the way from the upper edge 42 where they could prevent closing of the top 22 when the pouch 82 is inserted into the dispenser 20. Additionally, by having one or more seals 84 fold upwards and exert pressure on the upstanding sidewall 40, the pouch 82 is partially restrained from moving or sliding around within the dispenser's interior.

In an alternative embodiment of the dispenser, the dispensing orifice 50 in the upper surface 48 can be eliminated. In this embodiment, the lid 26 still locks or latches with the top and at least partially overlaps the top, but the dispenser 20 is intended for reach-in dispensing. To use the dispenser, the lid 26 must be opened and then the top 22 opened to access the dispenser's interior. Since the top 22 can be restrained by the lid 26 and a snap fit with the bottom 24, the dispenser is less likely to open inadvertently if accidentally dropped.

Other modifications and variations to the present invention may be practiced by those of ordinary skill in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention, which is more particularly set forth in the appended claims. It is understood that aspects of the various embodiments may be interchanged in whole or part. All cited references, patents, or patent applications in the above application for letters patent are herein incorporated by reference in a consistent manner. In the event of inconsistencies or contradictions between the incorporated references and this application, the information present in this application shall prevail. The preceding description, given by way of example in order to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the claimed invention, is not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined by the claims and all equivalents thereto.