Title:
Pumps for vacuum containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hand operated pump for evacuating air from a vacuum container having: (1) a barrel defining a conduit therethrough; (2) a plunger having a hand at one end and a piston at the opposite end, the plunger mounted within the barrel and capable of moving reciprocatingly within the plunger; (3) a cap closing a first end of the barrel and having an opening to receive and guide the plunger; and (4) an adapter connected to a second end of the barrel for engaging a valve on a vacuum container.



Inventors:
Anderson, Brent (Barrington, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/012948
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
02/05/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/79, 417/437
International Classes:
F04B33/00; B65B31/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KELLY, TIMOTHY PATRICK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENSFELDER, HEMKER & GALE, P.C. (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hand operated pump for evacuating air from a vacuum container comprising: a barrel defining a conduit therethrough; a plunger having a hand at one end and a piston at the opposite end, the plunger mounted within the barrel and capable of moving reciprocatingly within the plunger; a cap closing a first end of the barrel and having an opening to receive and guide the plunger; and an adapter connected to a second end of the barrel for engaging a valve on a vacuum container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/899,513 filed on Feb. 5, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and made a part hereof.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention provides an interface on a pump for docking to a fitment of a vacuum storage container and pumps for use with vacuum storage containers. Vacuum storage containers come in numerous shapes, styles and sizes and include flexible bags, semi-rigid and rigid type containers.

2. Background Art

Collapsible, evacuable storage containers typically include a flexible, fluid-tight bag, an opening through which to place an article or food item in the bag, and a fixture through which to evacuate excess air. A user places an article into the enclosure through the opening, seals the opening, and then evacuates the fluid through the fixture. With the chamber thus evacuated, the article contained therein may be significantly compressed, so that it is easier to transport and requires substantially less storage space. For articles of food, storage life can be increased by removing air from the container and by maintaining this reduced oxygen environment.

Collapsible, evacuable storage containers are beneficial for reasons in addition to those associated with compression of the stored article. For example, removal of the air from the storage container inhibits the growth of destructive organisms, such as moths, silverfish, and bacteria, which require oxygen to survive and propagate. Moreover, such containers, being impervious to moisture, inhibit the growth of mildew.

One such container was developed by James T. Cornwell (U.S. Pat. No. 5,203,458). That patent described a disposable, evacuable container for sealing and compressing contaminated surgical garments for ease of storage and transportation prior to disposal.

Another such container is described in a patent to Akihiro Mori and Ichiro Miyawaki (Japanese Pat. No. 1767786). In that device, the opening through which the stored article is placed requires the application of a heat source, such as a home iron, to form an effective seal.

United States Patent Application Publication No. 2007/0209326 A1 discloses an evacuable, food storage container having a one way valve for access by an electric vacuum pump.

U.S. Pat. Application No. 7,178,555 B2 discloses a pressure relief valve for flexible storage containers.

Commonly owned, United States Patent Publication No. 2006/0131328 A1 discloses evacuable vacuum storage containers having a fitment with a moveable cap and a diaphragm for use with a vacuum pump.

Vacuum storage containers also include multiple piece containers including a bottom part providing a storage compartment and a top part for releasably attaching to the bottom part and to provide an air tight seal. These containers can be rigid or semi-rigid. The top or bottom part can include a fitment or a one-way valve mechanism for docking to a pump to evacuate air from the container.

These and other aspects and attributes of the present invention will be discussed with reference to the following drawings and accompanying specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a proximal end portion of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a barrel of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an adapter of the hand operated pump for interfacing with generally flat pressure release valves;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a plunger of a hand operated pump;

FIG. 8 is an alternative embodiment of a hand operated pump for having a liquid collector;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of a barrel of the pump of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of an evacuable, recloseable vacuum container having a fitment;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of an evacuable, recloseable vacuum container having a fitment generally coplanar with a wall of the container;

FIGS. 12-15 are various views of a generally flat, pressure relief valve for attachment to an evacuable, recloseable vacuum container;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of an adapter having a liquid connector for connecting to a valve shown in FIGS. 18 and 19;

FIG. 17 is side view in partial cross-section showing the adapter of FIG. 16; and

FIGS. 18 and 19 show a perspective view of a cutaway of a one way valve respectively in an open and a closed position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings, and will be described herein in detail, specific embodiments thereof with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments illustrated.

FIGS. 1-4 show a hand operated pump 10 having a plunger 12, a barrel 14, a cap 16 and an adapter 18. The pump 10 has a proximal end 20 and a distal end 22. The hand operated pump 10 is useful in evacuating excess air from a vacuum storage container, such as those shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, to increase the shelf life of food within the container. FIG. 2 shows the hand operated pump 10 in a disassembled state. The plunger 12 has a handle 30 at a proximal end, a piston 32 at a distal end and a stem 39 therebetween. The piston 32 has annular recess 33 about a circumferential portion thereof that is dimensioned to receive an elastomeric O-ring 34. The O-ring 34 when mounted in the annular recess slidingly engages an inner wall 36 of the barrel 14 to pressurize a chamber of the barrel 14. The cap 16 has a male half 16a and a female half 16b.

FIGS. 2 and 6 show the adapter 18 having an annular wall 35 defining an opening 36 and the wall having a flared distal end to define a flange 37. The opening is dimensioned to form an interference fit with a portion of the distal end 18 of the barrel 14. The adapter 18 is preferably made from a material having elastomeric properties such as synthetic or natural rubber.

FIG. 5 shows a cross-shaped member 40 spanning an opening 42 at the distal end 22 of the barrel 14 and a screen member 44 that spans an entire diametrical dimension of the opening 42. The screen 44 and the cross-shaped member 40 prevent a container wall from entering the barrel and blocking the evacuation of air from a vacuum container. FIG. 5 also shows an outer wall 46 having a reduced thickness portion 47 and an annular stop 48. The reduced thickness portion 47 is dimension to receive the annular wall 35 of the adapter 18 and the annular stop 48 abuts a top annular surface 49 of the adapter 18 when the adapter 18 is properly fitted to the barrel.

FIGS. 8 and 9 show an alternative embodiment of the hand operated pump 10 like numbers will refer to like parts. In this embodiment the adapter 18 is configured to form a fluid tight seal, or in other words dock, to a fitment 100 shown in an open position in FIG. 18 and a closed position in FIG. 19. The adapter 18 can be integrally molded with the barrel 14, overmolded or two shot molded to the barrel, or otherwise attached to the barrel by snap fitting, interference fit or by threaded engagement. In a preferred form of the invention the adapter will be releasably attached to the barrel for ease of cleaning followed by reassembly for reuse.

FIG. 10 shows a resealable, evacuable vacuum storage container 60 having a fitment 100 as shown in detail in FIGS. 18 and 19 and is as disclosed in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2006/0131328 A1, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and made a part hereof. The fitment 100 has a valve body 120, a plunger body 122 and a diaphragm 124. The valve body 120 has an annular flange 122 with a centrally positioned axially extending, upstanding cylindrical wall 124. The container has a portion of the wall 62 removed to define an opening in which is inserted the valve body such that the annular flange 122 is positioned on an inside surface of the container and sealed thereto with the upstanding wall 124 extends outward through the opening and provides fluid access to the interior chamber of the container when the valve is in an open position as shown in FIG. 18.

The plunger body 122 is rotatably mounted to the valve body 120 through a set of mating threads to move the valve between open and closed positions, FIGS. 18, 19 respectively. The plunger body 122 has a first, interior annular wall 150 circumjacent a fluid flow path 152, and a second, exterior annular wall 154 defining an annular gap 156 between the first and second annular walls. The upstanding cylindrical wall 124 is positioned in the annular gap 156 and the interior annular wall 150 extends into a chamber 158 defined by the upstanding cylindrical wall 124. When in the closed position the interior annular wall 150 presses the diaphragm 124 against a valve seat 130 of the upstanding wall 124 thereby sealing an opening 132 that provides fluid communication to the interior of the container. When the plunger body 122 is moved to an open position the diaphragm can be moved by pressure upward away from the valve seat into contact with a distal end of the interior annular wall 150 and provide a fluid pathway marked with an arrow 140 around the diaphragm, through a portion of the plunger body 124 and then upward through a plurality of circumferentially spaced holes 134.

The diaphragm 124 is dimensioned to fit within the valve body and has a generally uniform thickness across its entire diametric dimension. The diaphragm is preferably fabricated from a material that has a density that allows it to be moved in response to a suction applied by the pump through passageway 152. Suitable materials for the diaphragm include paper, plastic, rubber, cork or metal. In another preferred form of the invention, the diaphragm will have a density of less than about 1.2 g/cc. In yet another preferred form of the invention, the diaphragm will be fabricated from silicone or polyvinyl chloride.

FIG. 11 shows a resealable, evacuable vacuum storage container 60 having a fitment 100 that is essentially coplanar with a wall 62 of the container. The container has a zipper 64 for repeated opening and closing of the container. One suitable vacuum storage container is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,290,660 and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2007/0209326 A1, each of which are incorporated in their entirety herein by reference and made a part hereof. The pump having the adapter 18 shown in FIG. 6 is adapted to form a fluid tight seal with a “flat” or low profile fitment 100 such as the one shown in FIG. 10.

Another suitable valve that can be affixed to a sidewall of a flexible container is shown in FIGS. 12-15 and is sold by Plitek and is described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,178,555 B2 which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and made a part hereof.

FIGS. 16 and 17 show the adapter 18 that is suitable for use with the fitment 100 shown in FIGS. 18 and 19. FIG. 17 shows the adapter docked to the fitment 100 in the open position. The adapter 18 has a first annular wall 200, a second annular wall 202, of lesser diametrical dimension than the first annular wall, and a tapered wall 204 connecting the first and second annular walls 200, 202. The first annular wall defines a chamber 206 that is dimensioned to attach to a distal end of a pump barrel 14 either through an interference fit or by a threaded connection. The second annular wall 202 is dimensioned to fit about the fitment 100 and a sealing ring 207 forms a fluid tight seal between the pump and the container.

The adapter 18 has a through hole 210 through which a suction can be applied with the pump to draw any excess air from the container. To reduce the amount of liquid that may be entrained in the air flow 140 an air gap 212 is provided between a top surface 222 of the plunger member and a bottom surface 224 of the adapter.

It should be understood that any of the adapters 18 disclosed herein could be used with an electric powered pump or batter powered pump in addition to the manual pumps disclosed herein.

From the foregoing, it will be observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.





 
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