Title:
FUNNEL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved funnel allows for easier filling of containers. The funnel allows containers to be filled more completely and to be more easily filled with viscous or granulated material. The funnel is also stabilized during use to minimize the risk of spilling.



Inventors:
England, Lan (Midvale, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/845644
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/27/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/1, 141/98, 206/216
International Classes:
B65B39/00; B65B3/04; B65B39/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ARNETT, NICOLAS ALLEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DURHAM JONES & PINEGAR (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A funnel comprising: a body having a first end having a first opening and a second end having a second opening smaller than the first opening; and threads formed about the second opening to allow releasable attachment of the second opening to an opening of a container.

2. The funnel of claim 1, further comprising a shoulder formed adjacent the threads and configured for contacting a rim of the container.

3. The funnel of claim 1, wherein the shoulder forms a lip configured for extending into the opening of the container.

4. The funnel of claim 1, further comprising gripping means formed on the second end.

5. The funnel of claim 1, wherein the body is conical.

6. The funnel of claim 1 wherein the threads formed in the second opening are configured to receive a 38-400 standard thread opening.

7. The funnel of claim 1, wherein the funnel has an upper end defining the first opening, the first opening having at least one corner.

8. The funnel of claim 7, wherein the opening is polygonic.

9. A structure for receiving and holding material, the structure comprising: a container, the container having an opening defined by a threaded collar; and a funnel the funnel having a first, upper opening and a second, lower opening, the second opening having a threaded collar, and wherein the threaded collar of the funnel is configured to engage the threaded collar of the container to thereby secure the funnel to the container.

10. The structure of claim 9, wherein the funnel has a generally circular first, upper opening and a generally circular second, lower opening.

11. The structure of claim 9, wherein the first, upper opening has at least one corner.

12. The structure of claim 9, wherein the first, upper opening is generally square.

13. The structure of claim 9, wherein the first, upper opening is polygonic.

14. The structure of claim 9, wherein the threaded collar of the container has a top wherein the funnel has a shoulder disposed adjacent the second, lower opening for engaging the top of the collar of the container.

15. The structure of claim 9, wherein the funnel comprises a lip configured for extending into the collar of the container.

16. A method for filling a container comprising: selecting a container having a opening defined by a threaded collar; selecting a funnel having a threaded collar which mates with the threaded collar of the container; and attaching the funnel to the container.

17. The method for filling a container of claim 16, wherein the method comprises selecting a container having a collar with male threads and a funnel having a collar with female threads.

18. The method for filling a container of claim 17, wherein the method comprises tightening the funnel on the container until a shoulder in the funnel engages a top of the collar of the container.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/841,433, filed Aug. 31, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. The Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to funnel. More specifically, the present invention relates to an improved funnel which allows for easier use in filling containers such as jugs, bottles, and the like.

2. State of the Art

Currently available funnels allow a person to more easily fill a container, but suffer from several setbacks. Existing funnels tend to drain slowly, cause air to become trapped in the container, tend to easily fall out of the container, and require supporting of the funnel during use. These and other limitations of existing funnels make them difficult to use in many situations.

There is thus a need for an improved funnel which overcomes the limitations of available funnels and which is more convenient to use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved funnel.

According to one aspect of the invention, a funnel is provided which attaches to a container. Attachment to a container provides a more secure funnel, allowing for easier use and reducing the risk of spills.

According to another aspect of the invention, a funnel is provided without an elongate neck extending into the container. Such a funnel allows for faster filling of the container and allows for easier use with highly viscous or granulated materials.

These and other aspects of the present invention are realized in a funnel as shown and described in the following figures and related description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various embodiments of the present invention are shown and described in reference to the numbered drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a funnel known in the prior art;

FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of the funnel of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of a funnel of the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows a cut away view of the funnel of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 shows a top view of a funnel made in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 6 shows a top view of a funnel made in accordance with the present invention.

It will be appreciated that the drawings are illustrative and not limiting of the scope of the invention which is defined by the appended claims. The various embodiments shown accomplish various aspects and objects of the invention. It is appreciated that not all aspects of the invention may be clearly shown in a single figure. Thus, multiple figures may be used to illustrate the various aspects of a single embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention and accompanying drawings will now be discussed in reference to the numerals provided therein so as to enable one skilled in the art to practice the present invention. The drawings and descriptions are exemplary of various aspects of the invention and are not intended to narrow the scope of the appended claims.

Turning now to FIG. 1, a perspective view of a funnel known in the prior art is shown. The funnel 10 includes a larger cone 14 having an open mouth 18 into which a substance may be placed. The substance is directed towards the smaller end of the cone 14, typically via gravity, and into a neck 22. The neck 22 is elongate and may taper further towards opening 26; the funnel egress. The neck 22 allows the funnel to be placed into the opening of a container to thereby fill the container. Funnels thus allow a person to more easily fill the container, as the mouth 18 of the funnel is larger than the container opening.

Turning now to FIG. 2, a cross-sectional view of the funnel of FIG. 1 and a container is shown. Several problems arise in using prior art funnels. The neck 22 of the funnel is elongate and may taper to a relatively small opening. Such a neck slows the material flowing through the funnel. Both viscous materials and coarse granular particles tend to get stuck in or flow slowly through the neck 22. Additionally, the neck 22 tends to seal against the container 30 at the mouth of the container 34. Thus, the air in the container 30 being displaced by the material placed through the funnel 10 must exit through the neck 22. A long neck 22 which seals against the container opening 34, especially when used with more viscous liquids, tends to hinder the filling of the container and make a mess as bubbles exit the neck.

Additionally, such a funnel is relatively unstable during use. It is appreciated that much of the material passing through the funnel 10 resides in the cone 14. The cone 14 filled with material is supported only by the neck 22. Thus, the funnel 10 tends to move when material is poured into the funnel, possibly causing a some of the material to spill out of the cone 14 and on to the outside of the container 30 of the area around the container. The funnel 10 may even fall out of the container 30.

A further limitation of such a funnel 10 is that the neck 22 extends downwardly into the container 30. In such a configuration, granular solids can not be filled above the neck 22, requiring the person to only partially fill the container or to try to lift the funnel while pouring material. Liquids may fill the container 30 above the neck 22, but coat the lower portion of the neck in the process, making the funnel dirty. When transferring a liquid such as used motor oil, additional mess is undesirable.

Turning now to FIG. 3, a perspective view of a funnel of the present invention is shown. The funnel 42 includes a body 46 (such as a cone, pyramid, etc.) having an open mouth 50 at a first end thereof, the open mouth being a first, upper opening. The funnel may include a tab 54 with a hole 58 to facilitate hanging of the funnel for storage, display, sales, etc. A second end of the body 46 is narrow and forms a second, lower opening. The second, lower opening is defined by a threaded portion or collar 62, the threads being disposed on the inside of the collar to form female threads which receive male threads from the collar of the container. The collar 62 facilitates attachment to a bottle or other container as will be shown in greater detail in FIG. 4. The threaded portion or collar 62 may include ridges 66 or other texture to form a gripping means and make it easier to grip the funnel 42 and to facilitate attachment of the funnel to the container.

Turning now to FIG. 4, a cut-away view of the funnel of FIG. 3 is shown. The funnel 42 is attached to a container 70. The threaded portion or collar 62 includes threads 74 which engage threads 78 on the opening of the container 70. Typically, the threads are a common size, such as the 38-400 continuous thread (38 mm American standard thread) found on most 1 gallon bottles or jugs in the United States. Other size threads and openings can be used to facilitate use of the funnel 42 with other size containers.

Additionally, the funnel 42 may include a slight shoulder or lip 82 which overlaps the rim 86 of the container 70. A lip 82 of some degree is typically desirable so that the funnel may be tightened onto the container 70. A lip 82 providing an opening the same size as the container opening may aid in filling the container 70, especially if the interior surface 90 of the funnel 42 does not present any ridge or shoulder at the lip 82, as is shown in FIG. 4. The lip 82 may even extend downwardly 82a to provide a tortuous path to thereby minimize the risk of liquids leaking out between the structure defining the lower opening of the funnel 42 and the structure defining the opening in the container 70.

The funnel of FIGS. 3 and 4 provides several advantages over the prior art. By attaching securely to the container, the funnel 42 is stabilized during use. Thus, there is minimal risk that the funnel 42 moves or falls from the container 70 during use. A further advantage of the funnel 42 is that the funnel does not need an elongate neck such as neck 22 of FIG. 1. The elimination of an elongate neck allows material to flow more easily through the funnel, allows larger granulated particles to pass through the funnel, and allows the container to be more completely filled.

It will also be noted that the opening in the container 70 becomes the size limiting factor for flow of liquid, granules, etc. rather that the interior of the neck. Thus, the flow rate into the container is substantially higher.

An additional advantage of the present invention is that the funnel can be left on the container. Gallon containers are often used to store granulated items, such as ice melting material so that it can be spread more easily than when it is contained in its traditional plastic bag. With the present invention the funnel can be left attached to the top of the container while the salt is being spread by turning the container on its side and shaking it back and forth. With a conventional funnel, the funnel would first be removed prior to applying salt or other granulated material. The user must then remember to return the container to the location at which he or she left the funnel for later refilling of the container. With the present invention, the funnel can be left on the container and thus the risk of misplacing the funnel or otherwise separating the funnel and the container is eliminated.

Additionally, if the container is being used to pour items out, the funnel can be used as a pouring mechanism so as to minimize splatter. For example, if paint were to be poured into a one gallon container, the funnel could then be used to help pour the paint out of the container without splashing etc. This may be facilitated by having the funnel include a one or more corners such as is shown at FIGS. 5 and 6.

FIG. 5 shows a top view of a funnel 92 which is substantially the same as the funnel shown and discussed in FIG. 4. The one difference is that rather than having a wall which defines a circular opening at the first, upper end of the funnel 92, the wall has been modified to provide a corner 94. The corner 94 facilitates porting of liquids and small granules into another container.

Likewise, FIG. 6 shows a top view of another funnel 96 made in accordance with the principles of the present invention. Rather than providing a circular opening, the opening is generally square so as to provide a funnel which is substantially the shape of an inverted pyramid. (A triangular or other plygonic opening could be provided if desired). The corners facilitate pouring of a liquid or small granules from the container if such is needed.

Thus there is disclosed an improved funnel. It will be appreciated that numerous changes can be made to the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the disclosure. The appended claims are intended to cover such modifications.