Title:
SPILL PROOF CONTAINER CAP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spill resistant cap includes a normally closed membrane. The membrane normally restricts a flow through the cap. The membrane includes a cut or slice through the membrane. The cut or slice is preferably and “X”. When pressure is applied to a volume below the membrane and when vacuum is applied to a volume above the membrane, the “X” opens outward, and a flow is allowed to pass through the resulting opening.



Inventors:
Young, John (Whittier, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/862005
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
09/26/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D51/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AVERILL & GREEN (WHITTIER, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A spill resistant container cap comprising: a passage; a normally closed membrane blocking the passage; and a slit through the membrane to allow the membrane to open when pressure is applied to a volume below the membrane and when vacuum is applied to a volume above the membrane.

2. The cap of claim 1, wherein the slit is two-dimensional when viewed from above the membrane.

3. The cap of claim 1, wherein the slit is an “X”.

4. The cap of claim 1, wherein the slit results in at least one flap in the membrane opening when pressure is applied to a volume below the membrane and when vacuum is applied to a volume above the membrane.

Description:

The present application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/847,847 filed Sep. 27, 2006, which application is incorporated in it's entirely herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to container caps and in particular to a container cap which reduces or prevents spilling.

A need exists for a sport closure, as used on beverage containers, which prevents or minimizes the everyday drips, leaks and spills that are so common with the cover in the open position. Self sealing valves have been developed to provide a positive seal to fluid openings (U.S. Pat. No. 6,279,783 Seaquist). Experience shows such valves to have three notable short comings: cost; not allowing a satisfying quantity of beverage to be drawn from the vessel; and not allowing equalizing air to reenter the vessel to replace the liquid volume removed.

A design also exist with a positive seal valve on the fluid opening and on a vent (U.S. Pat. No. 6,832,706 Alcoa). This design potentially allows equalizing air to enter the vessel, but is even more expensive than the Seaquist closure and is possibly too complex to manufacture.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the above and other needs by providing a solution to the three fold problems of low cost, unrestricted draw and no spill. By utilizing features of Young, U.S. Pat. No. 6,779,694, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/260,071 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/786,291, which define a non pouring vented closure, it is not necessary to have expensive self sealing valves. The problem then is simplified to preventing surging of beverage from the fluid opening. The '694 patent, and '071 and '291 applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, there is provided spill resistant container cap including a passage, a normally closed membrane blocking the passage, and a slice through the membrane. The slice allows the membrane to open when pressure is applied to a volume below the membrane and when vacuum is applied to a volume above the membrane. A preferred slice is an “X”.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following more particular description thereof, presented in conjunction with the following drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a cap including a spill proof membrane according to the present invention in a closed position.

FIG. 2 shows the spill proof membrane open to allow a flow through the cap.

FIG. 3 shows a three quarter view of the spill proof membrane.

FIG. 4 shows a top view of a second spill proof membrane.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding components throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following description is of the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of describing one or more preferred embodiments of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined with reference to the claims.

Referring to FIG. 1, a container cap 10 includes a thin plastic membrane 12 obstructing a fluid passage 14. The membrane 12 has an “X” shape slit cut through the membrane 12. Other shaped cuts, for example, a “Y” or star patterns may also be used, and preferably, the cuts are two-dimensional (i.e., not a straight line when viewed from above the membrane) so that at least one flap created by the slit opens under pressure from below or vacuum from above.

A second view of the cap 10 is shown in FIG. 2, with the membrane 12 open under pressure of squeezing the bottle or drawing (vacuum) a drink, to allow release of the beverage.

Stiffening ribs (or contours) 16 residing on a surface of the membrane 12 are shown in FIG. 3. The ribs 16 may further aid material flow across the thin membrane 12 and to maintain alignment for closing by preventing the membrane 12 sections from warping or taking a set from use.

Referring again to FIG. 3, it can be seen that membrane 12 forms the bottom of a recessed area defined by sidewall 20. The recessed area is shaped to provide hinges 18, for each section of the membrane.

FIG. 4 shows a top view of a second spill proof membrane 12a having inwardly curved hinges 18a and stiffening ribs 16a. The combination of the curved ribs 18a and the ribs 16a results in an over center condition in which the membrane 12a is biased to a closed position and to an open position.

In tests, a Young closure modified to include the new membrane had a 90% to 95% reduction in spillage over an unobstructed Young closure or a standard push/pull sport top, while retaining the unique unrestricted continuous flow offered by the Young vented design.

The membrane 12 is preferably from approximately 0.005 inches to approximately 0.015 inches in thickness and preferably made of polypropylene or polyethylene, although other suitable flexible materials may be used. The fluid opening is preferably between approximately 0.30 inches in diameter approximately 0.45 inches in diameter, but the effective opening is smaller because the presence of membrane 12 greatly reduces the actual open area of the fluid opening.

The integral membrane configuration and thickness is designed to be molded as part of the cap 10, although it could also be affixed to the cap 10 after molding as a separate piece.

The advantages of the present invention include:

  • No spill, No dribble, No pour, or reduces spill, reduced dribble or reduced pour;
  • Simple one piece construction with valve molded in;
  • Unequaled function and ease of use; and
  • Cost significantly less than valved tops.

While the invention herein disclosed has been described by means of specific embodiments and applications thereof, numerous modifications and variations could be made thereto by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention set forth in the claims.