Title:
Blister package for display of a toothbrush
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The blister package 10 for display of a toothbrush 12 comprises a from cover 14 and a back cover made of a printed first and second plastic film 16, respectively. The front cover 14 and the back cover each comprises three-dimensionally moulded accommodation portion 22 and a web portion 24 surrounding the protruding from the respective accommodation portion 24. The front cover 14 and the back cover are connected to one another by sealing in a sealing area 38 continuously surrounding the accommodation portions 22.



Inventors:
Fischer, Herbert (Reitnau, CH)
Hafliger, Andreas (Triengen, CH)
Grob, Werner (Schotz, CH)
Stoll, Rainer (Pfalzgrafenweiler, DE)
Application Number:
11/905932
Publication Date:
04/09/2009
Filing Date:
10/05/2007
Assignee:
TRISA HOLDING AG (TRIENGEN, CH)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/477
International Classes:
B65D75/32; B65B51/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OLIFF PLC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A blister package for display of a toothbrush comprising: a three-dimensionally moulded front cover made of a first plastic film; a three-dimensionally moulded back cover made of a second plastic film; the front cover having a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion and a first web portion, the first web portion surrounding the first accommodation portion and protruding from the first accommodation portion; the back cover having a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion and a second web portion, the second web portion surrounding the second accommodation portion and protruding from the second accommodation portion; the front cover being connected to the back cover by a direct sealing of the first web portion and the second web portion; the sealing defining a sealing area continuously surrounding the first and second accommodation portion; the first and second accommodation portion providing an accommodation for the toothbrush, and at least the front cover or the back cover being printed directly on at least one side of the respective plastic film.

2. The blister package as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least the front cover or the back cover being printed on an inner side, the inner side being directed towards the accommodation.

3. The blister package as claimed in claim 2, wherein the front cover being printed on the inner side and the back cover being printed on an outer side, the outer side directing away from the accommodation.

4. The blister package as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least the front cover or the back cover being printed on an inner side, the inner side being directed towards the accommodation.

5. The blister package as claimed in claim 4, wherein at least the front cover or the back cover comprising a metallized surface area or a surface area treated with lacquer on the inner side, the first and the second web being free of the metallized surface area and the surface area treated with lacquer in the sealing area.

6. The blister package as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first web portion and the second web portion having equal edges forming an outer edge of the blister package, the sealing joining this outer edge.

7. The blister package as claimed in claim 6, wherein the sealing area having a width of at least 0.5 mm and of maximal 1.5 mm.

8. The blister package as claimed in claim 7, wherein the sealing area at least in part directly adjoining the first and second accommodation portion.

9. The blister package as claimed in claim 1, wherein the back cover comprising a perforation defining an opening tab for a withdrawal of the toothbrush.

10. The blister package as claimed in claim 9, wherein the perforation being arranged in a planar region of the back cover.

11. The blister package as claimed in claim 9, wherein the perforation being arranged in the second accommodation portion.

12. A blister package for display of a toothbrush comprising: a three-dimensionally moulded front cover made of a first plastic film; a three-dimensionally moulded back cover made of a second plastic film; the front cover having a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion and a first web portion, the first web portion surrounding the first accommodation portion and protruding from the first accommodation portion; the back cover having a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion and a second web portion, the second web portion surrounding the second accommodation portion and protruding from the second accommodation portion; the front cover being connected to the back cover by sealing of the first web portion and the second web portion; the sealing defining a sealing area continuously surrounding the first and second accommodation portion; the first and second accommodation portion providing an accommodation for the toothbrush; and at least the front cover or the back cover being printed on an inner side in at least a region of the sealing area, the inner side being directed towards the accommodation.

13. A blister package for display of a toothbrush comprising: a three-dimensionally moulded front cover made of a first plastic film; a three-dimensionally moulded back cover made of a second plastic film; the front cover having a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion and a first web portion, the first web portion surrounding the first accommodation portion and protruding from the first accommodation portion; the back cover having a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion and a second web portion, the second web portion surrounding the second accommodation portion and protruding from the second accommodation portion; the front cover being connected to the back cover by sealing of the first web portion and the second web portion; the sealing defining a sealing area continuously surrounding the first and second accommodation portion and being arranged in a plane; the first and second accommodation portion providing an accommodation for the toothbrush; and the toothbrush being arranged with an angle with respect to the plane.

14. The blister package as claimed in claim 13, wherein the angel being between 350 and 500.

15. A blister package for display of a toothbrush comprising: a three-dimensionally moulded front cover made of a first plastic film; a three-dimensionally moulded back cover made of a second plastic film; the front cover having a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion and a first web portion, the first web portion surrounding the first accommodation portion and protruding from the first accommodation portion; the back cover having a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion and a second web portion, the second web portion surrounding the second accommodation portion and protruding from the second accommodation portion; an intermediate layer being arranged between the front cover and the back cover; the front cover and the back cover being connected to the intermediate layer by sealing; the sealing defining a sealing area continuously surrounding the first and second accommodation portion; and the first and second accommodation portion providing an accommodation for the toothbrush.

16. The blister package as claimed in claim 15, wherein the intermediate layer being a further plastic film.

17. The blister package as claimed in claim 15, wherein the intermediate layer being a cardboard provided with a sealing lacquer.

18. The blister package as claimed in claim 15, wherein a label being applied to the front cover or the back cover and the label extending into the sealing area.

19. The blister package as claimed in claim 18, wherein the label is applied on an inner side of the front cover or the back cover facing the accommodation.

20. A method for producing a blister package for display of a toothbrush comprising the steps of: deep-drawing of a first plastic film thereby forming a three-dimensionally moulded front cover having a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion and a first web portion, the first web portion surrounding the first accommodation portion and protruding from the first accommodation portion; deep-drawing of a second plastic film thereby forming a three-dimensionally moulded back cover having a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion and a second web portion, the second web portion surrounding the second accommodation portion and protruding from the second accommodation portion; introducing of a toothbrush into the first or second accommodation portion; bringing together of the front cover and the back cover, thereby forming an accommodation in which the toothbrush is arranged; sealing of the front and back cover continuously around the accommodation in a sealing area; and cutting the front cover and the back cover off a residual portion of the first and second film.

21. The method in claim 20, wherein at least the first plastic film or the second plastic film is pre-printed before deep-drawing.

22. The method in claim 20, wherein at least the first plastic film or the second plastic film is pre-metallized before deep-drawing.

23. The method in claim 21, wherein an inner side of the first plastic film or the second plastic film facing the accommodation is pre-printed or pre-metallized.

24. The method in claim 20, wherein a label is applied on at least the first plastic film or the second plastic film before deep-drawing.

25. A blister package for display of a toothbrush produced according to the method in claim 20.

Description:

The present invention relates to a blister package for display of a toothbrush as claimed in claim 1. The invention also relates to a blister package for display of a toothbrush as claimed in the claims 15, 16 and 19. The invention further relates to a method for producing a blister package for display of a toothbrush as claimed in claim 24.

By way of example, a plastic blister package for display and storage of a toothbrush is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,106. The plastic blister package has a base member and a closure member connected to one another by an integrally moulded hinge. The base member and the closure member have a pair of flanges, one overlying the other with the package in the closed position. A lip is provided on the edge of the flange of the base member for receiving the edge of the closure member to seal the cavity formed by the base member and the closure member. A pair of protuberances extend from the flange of the base member and are received in interfitting engagement with a pair of openings formed in the flange of the closure member to effectively lock the package in the closed position. The sealing is done by a few sealing points so that the package is not completely closed. The presentation of the brush happens in a sidewise position by viewing the package from the front the brush is seen from the side.

This one-piece plastic blister package meets a demand to transport a toothbrush on a person, either for use in required frequent brushing or in travel, and it may be opened and closed a number of times during the useful life of the toothbrush. But this known blister package is of complex design in order to provide for a reasonable protection against pollution of the toothbrush.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a blister package for display of a toothbrush which is space-saving and provides a solid protection against pollution of a toothbrush arranged in an accommodation of the blister package. The toothbrush may be arranged with an angle to highlight important product features.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method for producing a blister package for display of a toothbrush which is place-saving and provides a solid protection against pollution of a toothbrush arranged in an accommodation of the blister package.

These objects are achieved by a blister package for display of a toothbrush as specified in the claims 1, 12, 13 and 15 and by a method for producing a blister package for display of a toothbrush as specified in claim 20.

A blister package according to the present invention especially comprises a three-dimensionally moulded front cover made of a first plastic film and an also three-dimensionally moulded back cover made of a second plastic film. The front cover and the back cover are connected to one another by sealing of web portions surrounding and protruding from a first accommodation portion and a second accommodation portion of the front cover and the back cover, respectively. The sealing continuously surrounds the first and second accommodation portions in a continuous sealing area preferably forming a closed sealing loop around an accommodation for the toothbrush provided by the first and second accommodation portions.

Thus, the accommodation is reliably separated from the environment and completely protects the toothbrush against pollution.

Since the front cover as well as the back cover are at least in part three-dimensionally moulded according to the shape of the toothbrush and the front cover and the back cover are sealed continuously around the accommodation a highly space-saving design of the blister package is achieved.

Furthermore, printing of the first and/or second plastic film allows the renouncement of additional printed elements.

The sealing is preferably made by ultrasonic welding. Ultrasonic welding allows the sealing area directly adjoining the three-dimensionally moulded first and second accommodation portions and avoids a distortion or destruction of the plastic films due to heat.

Preferred embodiments of the blister package and the method for producing a blister package according to the present invention are specified in the residual dependent claims.

An exemplary embodiment of the invention is described in the following text and is illustrated in the drawing, in which, illustrated purely schematically:

FIG. 1 shows a blister package according to the present invention in a front view;

FIG. 2 shows the blister package according to FIG. 1 in a back view;

FIG. 3 shows the blister package according to FIGS. 1 and 2 in a side view;

FIG. 4 shows the blister package according to FIGS. 1 to 3 in a perspective view;

FIG. 5 shows the blister package according to FIGS. 1 to 6 with a toothbrush in an accommodation of the blister package;

FIG. 6 shows the blister package and the toothbrush in a view in a direction according to arrow V of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 shows the blister package according to the FIGS. 1 to 6 in a front view and provided with a label;

FIG. 8 shows a sequence of operation diagram for the production of a blister package according to the present invention;

FIG. 9 shows a pre-printed first plastic film in a perspective view;

FIG. 10 shows the first plastic film with three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portions in a perspective view;

FIG. 11 shows the first plastic film with toothbrushes introduced into first accommodation portions in a perspective view;

FIG. 12 shows a pre-printed second plastic film in a perspective view;

FIG. 13 shows the second plastic film with three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portions in a perspective view;

FIG. 14 shows the second plastic film with moulded second accommodation portions, punched positioning holes and a perforation defining an opening tab in a perspective view;

FIG. 15 shows a cut section of the second plastic film having a row of second accommodation portions in a perspective view;

FIG. 16 shows the section shown in FIG. 15 turned such that the undersurface is now the upper surface in a perspective view;

FIG. 17 shows the first plastic film with toothbrushes introduced into the first accommodation portions and two sections as shown in FIG. 16 deposited on the first plastic film in a perspective view;

FIG. 18 shows the first plastic film with sections as shown in FIG. 16 deposited thereon and at least partially sealed in a perspective view;

FIG. 19 shows a row of punched blister packages in a perspective view;

FIG. 20 shows a feasible configuration of the first and/or second plastic film outside of a sealing area;

FIG. 21 shows the feasible configuration of the first and/or second plastic film according to FIG. 9 or 12 in the sealing area;

FIG. 22 shows a feasible configuration of an intermediate layer with cardboard and metallic layers;

FIG. 23 shows a feasible configuration of the intermediate layer with painted cardboard;

FIG. 24 shows a cross-section of a blister package without an intermediate layer in a sealing area;

FIG. 25 shows a cross-section of a blister package with an intermediate layer in the sealing area;

FIG. 26 shows a portion of a sequence of operation diagram for the production of a blister package according to the present invention having a label or an imprinting; and

FIG. 27 shows a portion of the blister package in a cross-section.

A blister package 10 for display of a toothbrush 12 as shown in the FIGS. 1 to 9 consists of a three-dimensionally moulded front cover 14 made of a first plastic film 16 and a three-dimensionally moulded back cover 18 made of a second plastic film 20.

The front cover 14 has a three-dimensionally moulded first accommodation portion 22 and a first web portion 24. This first web portion 24 surrounds the first accommodation portion 22 in a loop without interruption, protrudes from the first accommodation portion 22 and is located in a plane 26.

The back cover 18 has—similar to the front cover 14—a three-dimensionally moulded second accommodation portion 28 and a second web portion 30. The second web portion 30 continuously surrounds the second accommodation portion 28, protrudes from the second accommodation portion 28 and is also located in the plane 26. That is to say that the first and second web portion 24, 30 about each other in the plane 26 and the first and second accommodation portions 22, 28 project out of the plane 26 in opposite directions so as to conjointly form an accommodation 32 for the toothbrush 12.

The first web portion 24 and the second web portion 30—and consequently the front cover 14 and the back cover 18—have equal edges 34, 34′ forming together an outer edge 36 of the blister package 10. Along the outer edge 36 runs a continuous sealing area 38 in a form of a band and preferably forming a closed loop. It is also possible to seal areas additional to the sealing loop. The sealing area 38 is defined by a direct sealing 40 made by ultrasonic welding of parts of the first and second web portions 24, 30.

The width of the sealing area 38 measures in the final blister package at least 0.3 mm and maximal 2.5 mm preferably at least 0.5 mm and maximal 1.5 mm in the finished, punched out embodiments shown in the FIGS. 1 to 7. However, during production of the blister packages according to the present invention the sealing area has a width of at least 1 mm and of maximal 3 mm preferred minimal 1.5 mm and of maximal 2.5 mm. The first and the second accommodation portions 22, 28 comprise in succession a head section 42, 42′, a neck section 44, 44′ and a handle section 46, 46′ for accommodating a head portion 48, a neck portion 50 and a handle portion 52 of the toothbrush 12, respectively, as can be best seen in FIG. 3. The first and the second accommodation portion 22, 28 are asymmetrical in respect to plane 26. The maximal depth, measured in a perpendicular direction to the plane 26, of the first accommodation portion 22 and its head section 42, neck section 44 and handle section 46 is larger than the maximal depth of the respective counterparts of the back cover 18. That serves a stable arrangement of the toothbrush 12 in the first accommodation portion 22 in the production of the blister package 10 as described in more details later on.

The head section 42 of the front cover 14 and the head section 42′ of the back cover 18 are, as seen in the front view (FIGS. 1, 5, 7) and back view (FIG. 2), substantially of an oval shape.

To allow a stable fit of the toothbrush 12 within the blister package the neck sections 44, 44′ and/or the handle sections 46, 46′ may at least in part closely follow the shape of the toothbrush handle. However neck sections 44, 44′ and/or handle sections 46, 46′ following closely the toothbrush handle shape may be formed on the back cover 18 only or on the front cover 14 only or on both covers 14, 18 in view of one section of the toothbrush 12.

The shape of the neck section 44′ of the back cover 18 substantially corresponds to the dedicated part of the neck portion 50 of the toothbrush 12, whereas the shape of the neck section 44 of the front cover substantially corresponds to the dedicated part of the neck portion 50 only in about that half of the length of the neck section 44 that joins the handle section 46. In about the other half of length joining the head section 42 the neck section 44 comprises two merging bulges 54, 54′ of different depth, whereby this depths are smaller than or at maximum the same size as the maximal depth of the head section 42.

The bulges 54, 54′ can for example serve a pre-printed inscription or other additional packaging decoration elements such as printed labels or tactile elements. They can be realized as cylinder or ashlar and the like with various heights. In addition to the visible function the bulge 54, 54′ can be designed for positioning or stabilization of the blister package 10 in the shipping carton.

That portion of the neck section 44 of the front cover 14 substantially corresponding to the dedicated part of the neck portion 50 of the toothbrush 12 and the neck section 44′ of the back cover 18 procure a stable fit to the toothbrush 12 such that the toothbrush 12 is arranged with an angle α with respect to plane 26 as show in FIGS. 5 and 6. Thus, a bristle area 56 of the head portion 48 is visible—in perspective view—from the front side of the blister package 10. The angle α can be between 0° and 55°, preferably between 35° and 50°. It is also possible to form some additional thermoformed means which help to stabilize the toothbrush 12 at the angle α.

The second accommodation portion 28 has in the handle section 46′ approximately the form of a cube with a planar support surface 58 parallel to the plane 26 and protruding relative to the plane 26 at a distance that substantially corresponds to the maximal protuberance of the residual part of the back cover 18. The support surface 58 procures a stable position to the blister package 10 when deposited on a support or in the shipping cardboard.

The first accommodation portion 22 has in its handle section 46 approximately the form of a semi-cylinder and comprises nearby the end of the blister package 10 a projecting nose 60 with a further planar support surface 58′ procuring a stable position to the blister package 10 when deposited on the support with the front cover 18 directed downwards, alike the support 58 when the blister package 10 is deposited on the support with the back cover 18 directed downwards, or several blister packages 10 are stacked back cover to front cover in a display tray.

The second web portion 30 has—as seen in axial elongation of the second accommodation portion 28—the form of a planar hook 62 protruding from the head section 42′. The first web portion 24 is consistently formed, whereby it comprises following the sealing area 38, which runs along the edge of the region of the hook 62, a small bulge 64 to reinforce the blister package 10 in the region of the hook 62. The depth of the bulge 64 is less than 3.5 mm preferably between 2.2 mm to 2.8 mm.

The second web portion 28 forms on both sides of the neck section 44′ planar flange regions 66, 66′ on the back cover 18. The flange region 66 spans the distance between the head section 42′, the neck section 44′ and the handle section 46′, whereas the flange region 66′ has the form of an acute-angled triangle joining the handle section 46′.

In the range of the flange regions 66, 66′ is the sealing area 38 spaced apart the second accommodation portion 28 whereas it directly adjoins the second accommodation portion 28 in the head section 42′—as the exception of the region of the hook 62—and in the handle section 46′.

A perforation 68 in the second web portion 30 defines an opening tab 70 of the back cover 18. The perforation 68 defines in the region of the hook 62 a tongue 72 joining the head section 42′ and then runs of both sides of the head section 42′ and the neck section 44′ into the planar flange regions 66, 66′ where it ends. For the withdrawal of the toothbrush 12 the blister package 10 can be opened by detaching the opening tab 70 from the residual part of the back cover 18 along the perforation 68 beginning with the tongue 72. The moulded head section 42′ of the back cover 18 may be used as a finger rest while opening the blister pack allowing a better grip than only holding the tongue 72.

The perforation 68 is arranged in a planar region 74 of the back cover 18. It is also possible to arrange the perforation 68 at least in part in a three-dimensionally formed region of the back cover 18 and/or to build the perforation 68 in the front cover 14 or a combination thereof. The perforation 68 is preferably arranged in a region of the second web portion 30 that rests against the first web portion 24. The distance between successive hold points of the perforation 68 is 3 mm to 8 mm, preferably 5 mm to 7 mm, and the length of the hold points is 0.1 mm to 0.8 mm, preferably 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm. The exact definition of the size of the hold points and the distance between the hold points is defined by the opening force needed and the stability during ultrasonic welding.

For the sake of completeness be mentioned that the front cover 14 and the back cover 18, in the end region opposing the hook 62, form a bead shape 76 to strengthen the blister package 10. The sealing area 38 runs in the edge region of the bead shape 76.

The front cover 14 and the back cover 18 have an inner side 78, 78′ directed toward the accommodation 32 and an outer side 80, 80′ directed away from the accommodation 32.

The front cover 14 and/or the back cover 18 is/are printed on the inner side 78, 78′ and/or outer side 80, 80′. In the blister package 10 as shown in the FIGS. 1 to 7 is the front cover 14 printed on its inner side 78 and the back cover 18 on its outer side 80′. At least the printing of the front cover 14 or of the back cover 18 reaches into the sealing area 38. The printing on the inner side of the front cover results in higher gloss and more scratch resistance for the front cover printing on the finished package.

Furthermore, a label 82 preferably extending into the sealing area 38 can be applied to the front cover 14 or back cover 18 on its inner side 78, 78′ or its outer side 80, 80′. The label 82 shown in FIG. 7 is applied to the front cover in the handle section 46 and extends on both sides of the handle section 46 into the sealing area 38. Self-adhesive labels 82 are preferably applied in regions of the blister package 10 with a substantially planar surface.

The front cover 14 and/or the back cover 18 can comprise a metallized surface area or a surface area treated with a lacquer. But preferably, these areas do not extend into the sealing area 38. It is to get back to this embodiment in connection with the FIGS. 20 and 21.

The sealing area 38 has a structured surface, preferably a ribbing. In the embodiment as shown in the FIGS. 1 to 7 comprises the back cover 18 in the whole sealing area 38 a ribbing whereas the sealing area of the front cover 14 is not structured.

A method for producing a blister package 10 for display of a toothbrush 12 will now be described in connection with the FIGS. 8 to 19. Thereby, a same section of the first and second plastic films 16, 20, respectively, is watched during the different steps of the production of blister packages 10.

Providing toothbrushes 12, producing front covers 14 and producing back covers 18 primarily occur independently as shown in FIG. 8 by the three dashed rectangles marked with “prepare toothbrushes”, “front side plastic cover” and “back side plastic cover”. After each group of steps are completed, the outputs are brought together to go through the common steps.

In the step “providing toothbrushes” the toothbrushes 12 are manually or by means of a robot or a handling system deposited one after another and sorted by the same colour on a feed band conveyor.

Thereafter, in the step “mix and feed toothbrushes”, the toothbrushes 12 are removed from the feed band conveyor by means of a robot or handling means and deposited on a transport band conveyor in a customized colour order.

In the following step “take out toothbrushes” a number of successive toothbrushes 12 are removed from the transport band conveyor by a further robot or further handling means. The number of removed toothbrushes 12 relates to the number of blister packages 10 and the number of toothbrushes 12 inside a single blister package that can be processed in one cycle or in an integer number of cycles. In the present embodiment the preferred number of six toothbrushes 12 are removed per cycle and each toothbrush 12 is packed afterwards in a single blister package. Other possible number of toothbrushes removed could be 4, 8, 10 or 12.

In the step “position toothbrushes horizontal and angular” the six toothbrushes 12 individually held by the further robot or further handling means are brought in a parallel horizontal direction, in a predetermined distance relative to each other which is equivalent to the distance of the first accommodation portions 22 in the first plastic film 16 and in a predetermined angular position, such that later on the angle α—see FIG. 6—is achieved.

For the simultaneous production of six front covers 14 a first plastic film 16 of a width of 190 mm to 250 mm, preferably of 210 mm to 230 mm, is used. As a matter of course, a first plastic film 16 of greater width—for example up to 470 mm—can be used, either to produce more than six front covers 14 per a cycle or to produce front covers 14 of greater width. The even first plastic film 16 is wound to a coil to a total diameter of 300 mm to 1200 mm preferred 500 mm to 900 mm most preferred maximal 800 mm and has a thickness of 100 μm to 450 μm, preferably 200 μm to 350 μm. The first plastic film 16 comprises polyethyleneterephtalate (PETA, PETG, PETGAG), polyvinylchloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP) or styrol-butadiene-blockcopolymer (SBS), preferred PVC.

A film manufactured from renewable primary products, for example of cornstarch, sugar (polyhydroxybutyrat/−valerat), cellulose diacetat, cellulose nitrate, polyactid (PLA), polyhydroxybutyrat (PHB) can also be used.

The first plastic film 16 is pre-printed preferably on its upper side which will become the inner side 78 of the front cover 14. FIG. 9 shows a portion of the first plastic film 16 and the pre-printing for each front cover 14 is indicated by a rectangular printing area 84. Rows 86 of six printing areas 84 are arranged at intervals as seen in a feed direction F of the first plastic film 16. The rows 86 run at right-angles with respect to the feed direction F and the longitudinal direction of the first plastic film 16. Thus, six front covers 18 are produced per cycle. However it is also possible but not preferred to arrange the rows 86 parallel to the feed direction F.

In the step “feed film” a respective portion of the first plastic film 16 is unwound from the coil and fed by a predefined infeed in the feed direction F, to a measuring station.

In the measuring station the position of a printer's imprint 88—see FIG. 9—printed on the first plastic film 16 at an exact position in relation to each row 86 is detected. This step is indicated with “measure film” in the rectangle “front side plastic cover” of FIG. 8.

This step is not necessary if front covers 14 are produced without a printing in the area of first accommodation portion 22.

In a next cycle the first plastic film 16 is stretched in a stretching station in dependence of the result of the measurement, as mentioned by the step “stretch film” in FIG. 8. This step is necessary for having the pre-printed film on the correct position with regards to the thermoforming. The machine has a constant draw, if there are any differences between the draw and the size of the printing it causes a visible displacement of the printing on the blister package and the accommodation does not match with the printing. To make sure the printing is always positioned correctly the position of the printing on the film has a negative positioning tolerance which is the distance between the individual rows of printing areas 86. The tolerance is at maximum +0 mm/−1 mm preferred is a tolerance between +0 mm/−0.1 mm and +0 mm/−0.5 mm. Therefore this negative tolerance always allows to adjust the printing position by stretching.

For stretching the first plastic film 16 is heated up to a ranging from 100° C. to 170° C., preferably 125° C. to 145° C., in a segment between the respective row 86 and the following row 86 of printing areas 84, the following row being the one upstream the respective row 86 in feed direction. Then the first plastic film 16 is fixed downstream said heated segment and stretched in the negative feed direction F by means of stretching element acting on the first plastic film 16 upstream the heated segment, so that the distance between the respective row 86 and the following row 86 results at the correct dimension. The first plastic film 16 is then held for a short time to cool down such that it does not contract again. The heat phase and the hold phase each last about 0.1 s to is, preferably 0.3 s to 0.6 s; by such a procedure the printing areas 84 are not damaged and not distorted. Stretching in the feed direction is also possible.

The first plastic film 16 is than fed forward to a heating station. There, as mentioned in FIG. 8 by the rectangle “heat film”, the first plastic film 16 is heated to a temperature of 100° C. to 170° C., preferably 125° C. to 150° C., during two following cycles so that an optimal deep-drawing/thermoforming can occur in the following station and cycle. The heating process occurs during two cycles of is to 1.7 s, preferably 1.3 s to 1.5 s, each. These temperatures offer the best possible properties to the deep-drawing station naturally depend on the geometries and depths of the accommodations. Therefore there are differences between the first and second plastic film 16, 20. For that purpose, a heating plate is lowered on the first plastic film 16 and again lifted before the respective next forward movement of the first plastic film 16 in the direction F.

In the step “thermoform film” the first plastic film 16 prepared as described above is deep-drawn in a deep-draw station. Thereby, at the one hand the three-dimensional first accommodation portions 22 for the respective six front covers 14 and on the other hand positioning dogs 90 or other positioning devices are created as schematically shown in FIG. 10. Preferably, in each case two positioning dogs 90 are formed upstream the row of the first accommodation portions 22 and outside that areas used for the front cover 14. For the deep-draw process a three-dimensionally formed positive or negative die can be used, it is supported by vacuum and/or compressed air.

In the present case, a combination of positive and negative dies is used in a two step process. By means of a positive die, a pre-stretching die, the first plastic film 16 is deep-drawn to about 80% to 98%, preferably 90% to 98%, of the final depth of the first accommodation portion 22. After said pre-stretching by means of compressed air blown in from the side of the positive die the first plastic film 16 is moved up against a negative die defining the final shape of the first accommodation portion 22.

Immediately after pre-stretching the positive die can be drawn back so that the positive die does not heat up too much due to the contact with the heated first plastic film 16. Furthermore, by means of a cooler positive die a correct moulding of the printing areas 84 and an optimal distribution of the plastic material is achieved.

20 ms to 160 ms, preferably 30 ms to 60 ms, after closing of the mould the positive die is inserted into the negative die and 60 ms to 160 ms, preferably 80 ms to 120 ms, after closing of the mould compressed air is applied and stays for above 1 s to 1.8 s, preferably 1.3 s to 1.6 s. The film is guided by the compressed air to the exact shape of the negative die. The compressed air is released immediately before the opening of the mould for the cyclic movement.

For the simultaneous production of six back covers 18 per cycle a second plastic film 20 of a width of 180 mm to 240 mm, preferably 200 mm to 220 mm, is used. The second plastic film 20 can be of the same material as the first plastic film 16 and can also be pre-printed as schematically shown by further printing areas 84′ in FIG. 12. The printing is preferrably provided at the underside of the second plastic film 20 that will become the outer side 80′ of back cover 18. In each case six further printing areas 84′ are arranged in a further row 86′ running at right-angles with respect to the feed direction F′ and the longitudinal direction of the second plastic film 20. The further rows 86′ are arranged at intervals as seen in the feed direction F′ analogous the rows 86 at the first plastic film 16.

The second plastic film 20 is preferably smaller in width than the first plastic film 16 to allow clamp like conveying means to clamp the first plastic film 16 in the lateral border areas without conflict with the second plastic film 20 when bringing together the moulded first and second plastic films 16, 20.

The steps “feed film”, “measure film” and “stretch film” as shown in the rectangle “back side plastic cover” of FIG. 8 run like the respective steps in connection with the first plastic film 16 described above.

Since the second accommodation portion 28 of the blister package 10 as shown in the FIGS. 1 to 7 is of a smaller depth than the first accommodation portion 22, the temperature to which the second plastic film 20 is heated can be reduced to 80° C. to 150° C., preferably to 105° C. to 130° C., as compared to the temperature of the first plastic film 16. For the rest of the steps “heat film” and “thermoform film” run like the respective steps described above in connection with the first plastic film, but no positioning dogs 90 are formed. Thereby, in each cycle a row 86′ of six second accommodation portions 28 is formed as shown in FIG. 13.

In the step “perforate plastic cover” the perforation 68 for the opening tab 70—see FIG. 2—is produced by punching in a punching station. The properties of the perforation are shown in FIG. 2 and described in related text.

The step “cut recess” comprises the die cutting of positioning holes 92—see FIG. 14—corresponding to the positioning dogs 90 or other positioning means of first plastic film 16 in a die cutting station. The positioning holes 92 have a diameter of 5 mm to 11 mm, preferably 7 mm to 9 mm. The positioning holes 92 can also have the form of a long hole having a width of 5 mm to 11 mm, preferably 7 mm to 9 mm, and a length of 8 mm to 19 mm, preferably 14 mm to 17 mm. The positioning holes 92 are such formed and positioned that they fit, in a later step, with the dogs 90 and thereby ensure an accurate position of the second accommodation portions 28 in relation to the first accommodation portions 22.

It is also possible, to die cutting positioning holes in the first plastic film 16 instead of deep-drawing of dogs 90. In this case, the clamp like conveying means for the first plastic film comprise positioning bolts for cooperation with these positioning holes in the first plastic film 16 and the positioning holes 92 of the second plastic film 20 in this case fit to the positioning bolts. In general both plastic films 16, 20 comprise corresponding positioning means which are preferably formed during the process and which are aligned with the printing of the stretched films.

In the next step denoted in FIG. 8 with “cut back side plastic cover” the fed continuous second plastic film 29 is cut at right-angles to the feed direction F′ and in the middle through the respective two positioning holes 92, thereby in each cycle a separate section 94 comprising a row 86′ of six second accommodation portions 28 is produced as shown in FIG. 15.

The number of accommodation portions 28 in the section 94 is defined by the width of the film and the size of the single package. There are 4 to 12 packages in width preferred 4 to 8 packages mostly preferred 6 packages, where the number of packages is directly linked to the number of accommodation portions 28.

In the step “provide back side plastic cover” of FIG. 8, the separate section 94 is allocated by means of a robot and/or a handling device and rotated by 180° about a horizontal axis so that the underside becomes the upper side and the second accommodation portions 28 protrude in upward direction as shown in FIG. 16.

Now back to FIG. 11 and the step “fill in toothbrushes” of FIG. 8. Six toothbrushes 12 individually held by the further robot or further handling means, aligned and rotated in the predetermined position and angle are simultaneously deposited in a row 86 of first accommodation portions 22. FIG. 11 shows at the right hand side further six toothbrushes 12 already deposited in the previous cycle into a downstream row 86 of first accommodation portions 22.

The dashed rectangle of FIG. 8 lettered “place intermediate layer” gives an indication to an optional step concerning the introduction of an intermediate layer, for example a cardboard or a further plastic film. Such an intermediate layer would have cutouts for the respective toothbrushes 12 or at least parts of the toothbrushes 12 and would be placed onto the first plastic film 16 loaded with toothbrushes. The alignment of this intermediate layer would be done by the same positioning dogs 90 or other positioning devices.

The next step mentioned with the rectangle “place back side plastic cover” is also shown in FIG. 17. The separate section 94 of the second plastic film 20 as shown in FIG. 16 is placed by means of the respective robot and/or handling device onto the first plastic film 16 to cover a respective row 86 of first accommodation portions 22 each equipped with a toothbrush 12. The positioning dogs 90 of the first plastic film 16 and the positioning holes 92 (or semi-positioning holes, they have been cut in the meantime) serve as centering devices of the separate section 94 relative the first plastic film 16 and the respective first accommodation portions 22. Thus, the first and the second accommodation portions 22, 28 build the accommodations 32.

In the next step it is verified whether the thickness of the combination of first plastic film 16 with the deposited toothbrushes 12 and the second plastic film 20 in the form of the separate section 94 does not exceed a predetermined thickness. Thus, it is checked by a simple method whether the toothbrushes 12 and the separate section 94 are correctly placed. This step is indicated by the rectangle “check level” in FIG. 8.

The “check level” station is followed by successive ultrasonic sealing stations mentioned with “sealing 1” and “sealing 2” in FIG. 8. Each of these ultrasonic sealing stations 96, 98—see FIG. 18—comprises three sonotrodes and cooperating anvils. By means of the sonotrodes and anvils of the first ultrasonic sealing station 96 the first and second web portions 24, 30 of the first, third and fifth blister packages 10 of a row 86 are ultrasonically welded and by means of the sonotrodes and anvils of the second ultrasonic station 98 the residual blister packages 10 of that row 86 are ultrasonically welded. Thereby the sealing areas 38 as shown in FIGS. 1 to 7 and schematically indicated by dashed lines in FIG. 18 are generated. The sealing in two steps is an effect of the configuration of such sonotrodes respectively their drive mechanism which is wider and longer than one single sonotrode.

Sealing by ultrasonic welding brings several advantages. Very differently formed sealing areas 38 are possible compared to the actual possibilities of other sealing processes. Very narrow sealing areas 38 are achievable having a width as described above namely of 1 mm to 3 mm preferably 1.5 mm to 2.5 mm during processing and 0.3 mm to 2.5 mm preferably 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm on the finished, punched out blister package 10. Furthermore, it is possible to produce a sealing directly adjoining the three-dimensionally moulded accommodation 32 what means that the accommodation 32 can be realized close to the sonotrode, the film can be formed very steep and high adjoining the sonotrode. As indicated in FIG. 27 a minimum distance D between on the one hand the first and second accommodation portions 22, 28 and on the other hand the sonotrode and the anvil during the welding process is about 0.25 mm to 1.75 mm preferably 0.75 mm to 1.25 mm which is substantially equivalent to the distance in the sealing area 38 between the inner end of the sealing and the accommodation 32. An angle β between the sealing area 38 and the accommodation 32 is between 91° and 130° preferably between 91° and 105°. In addition different materials for films 16, 20 may be used.

In the embodiment as shown and described above, the sealing area 38 runs in a plane; but it is also possible to produce a sealing area within a three-dimensional area.

During 300 ms to 600 ms, preferably 400 ms to 500 ms, the sonotrodes and anvils activate a very small relative motion of the first and second web portions 24, 30 in the sealing area 38 with a frequency of 15 kHz to 30 kHz, preferably 18 kHz to 22 kHz. Thereby the sonotrodes and anvils are pressed against the first and second plastic film 16, 20 arranged therebetween with a pressure of 1.5 bar to 6 bar, preferably 2 bar to 4.5 bar. Thus, welding takes only place where the sonotrodes and anvils press against each other. A third factor, the amplitude, is a dimension that is just relative because it depends on the detailed construction and configuration of the sealing system with sonotrode and anvil.

Preferably, the sonotrodes and/or the anvils comprise in the sealing active area a structured surface, in particular a ribbing, to create a mechanical interaction to prevent a displacement of the first plastic film 16 relative to the second plastic film 20. Preferably only the sonotrode or the anvil surface area comprises a ribbing. In the present embodiment the sonotrode acting upon the second plastic film 20 comprises a ribbing so that a respective ribbing in the second web portion 30 is produced.

If complicated geometries need to be sealed or for other reasons the sonotrode can also be divided into some individual parts. Each part provides a portion of the sealing area. All these individual parts are assembled to form a complex sonotrode. The difference from the multi-part sonotrode to the single part sonotrode can be seen on in the sealing area on the sonotrode change.

The sonotrode is made of a high-strength material, for example of an aluminium alloy or a titan alloy.

The detachment of the individual blister packages 10 from a residual grid of the first and second plastic films 16, occurs in two successive steps as indicated in FIG. 8 by the two rectangles “cut” and “separate”. In the “cut” step in a cutting station a lock-out steelplate, comprising cutouts for the second accommodation portions 28 arranged in a row 86′, is lowered from above onto the second web portions 30 and than a shaped flat steel is lifted from the bottom and pressed against the lock-out steelplate thereby cutting the first and second web portions 24, 30 preferably in but close to the outer border of the sealing area 38. The cut has 5 to 15, preferably 6 to 10, linear and where necessary curved cut segments, the intervals between successive cut segments represent ligaments connecting the blister packages 10 and the residual grid.

In the next cycle and the station “separate” the ligaments are cut so that the individual blister packages 10 drop on a slide or another transport system conveying the blister packages 10 to a further handling device. This handling device grips the blister packages 10 arranged in the slide and brings them on a transfer band conveyor that conveys the blister packages 10 to a further processing or packaging station. FIG. 19 shows a row of individual blister packages 10 each comprising a toothbrush 12 and cut off the residual grid of plastic film. The handling step can also be solved in a different way, depending on the further packaging steps.

The further processing station can for example be a label applying station where a label is applied to the outer side of the sealed blister package 10. The label can serve the decoration, the demonstration or the marking. These labels are preferably applied in planar areas of the blister package 10.

It is also possible to completely cut out the blister packages 10 in one cutting step. Furthermore, it is possible to seal each blister package 10 in two or more steps. For the sake of completeness be mentioned that the sonotrodes and anvils comprise protruding embossments whose front side is the welding surface. During the ultrasonic welding the three-dimensionally formed first and second accommodation portions 22, 28 are arranged between the embossments without being damaged. The embossments of the sonotrode can be arranged in various angles to the sealing area preferably they are arranged rectangular to the sealing area.

The process steps as described above run in parallel, each product goes through all the steps. The processing machine works with 12 to 25 cycles a minute preferably 18 to 22 cycles a minute. That means that one process step has a duration between 2.4 and 5 seconds preferably between 2.7 and 3.3 seconds to produce the 6 pieces in a row 84, 84′.

The first and second plastic films 16, 20 can be printed on the outer side and/or inner side. If the print is on the side of the thermoforming die the colour stays shiny whereas in case it is on the reverse side it gets more matt. Furthermore, it is not necessary that both plastic films 16, 20 are printed. Areas of the first and second plastic films 16, 20 covering interesting portions of the toothbrush, for example the important handle portions, the brush head, the bristles or functional elements on the brush, are preferably not printed so that these portions can be seen and examined through the clear plastic.

The first and second plastic films 16, 20 are printed respectively pre-printed in a flat status before deep-drawing. That printing area being later on situated in a three-dimensionally moulded portion of the blister package 10 are accordingly contorted printed so that they get the correct appearance by the deep-drawing process. The printing is realized by offset, rotogravure or screen printing preferably by rotogravure printing. By realizing the printing by rotogravure printing the highest print density can be achieved so the print is still dense enough after the thermoforming process. In addition at least some colours will be printed multiple times.

Furthermore, the printing on the first and second plastic films 16, 20 preferably reaches into the sealing area 38. This feature is only not shown in the drawing due to the sake of better clarity.

The first plastic film 16 and/or the second plastic film 20 can comprise a metallized surface area, preferably on the side that will become the inner side of the accommodation 32. However the metallized surface area preferably does not reach into the sealing area 38. Further, a lacquer can be applied on printed paints and the metallised surface area. This lacquer does preferably also not reach into the sealing area 38. The metallized surface area and the surface area treated with the lacquer will become surface areas of the front and/or the back cover 14, 18. Since the sealing area is free of metallized surface area and surface area treated with a lacquer a reliable ultrasonic welding is ensured.

A possible makeup of a first or second plastic film 16, 20 provided with a metallized surface area and an area with paint partially covering the metallized surface area is shown in FIGS. 20 and 21. FIG. 20 shows the makeup outside of the sealing area 38 and FIG. 21 in the sealing area 38. A metallic layer constituting the metallized surface area is applied directly onto the first or second plastic film 16, 20 by an embossing process. Thereafter paint is applied onto an area of the metallic layer and directly onto an area of the first or second plastic film 16, 20. The paint and the metallic layer are covered by the lacquer which protects them from abrasion or scratching. As shown in FIG. 21, the paint, i.e. printing area, can reach into the sealing area 38 whereas the sealing area 38 is free of lacquer and metallic layer.

In a further embodiment of the blister package 10 an intermediate layer is arranged between the front cover 14 and the back cover 18. The first and second web portions 24, 30 rest against the intermediate layer and are connected with the intermediate layer by ultrasonic welding. The intermediate layer may comprise at least one partial cutout for the toothbrush 12.

The intermediate layer can be a further printed plastic film or a cardboard. Two different makeups of an intermediate layer comprising a cardboard are shown in FIGS. 22 and 23.

According to FIG. 22 a metallic layer is applied to the cardboard in surface areas on both sides of the cardboard. The metallic layers are partially overprinted with paint and the paint as well as the metallic layers are covered by means of a lacquer. In this case the sealing area is free of metallic layer. But in this case the lacquer is different from the one on the plastic film because the lacquer is needed for sealing the plastic film against the cardboard, therefore in this case the lacquer may also be applied in the sealing area as showed in FIG. 23. FIG. 23 shows the setup of the cardboard in the sealing area. The cardboard has a grammage of 100 gramm/m2 to 700 gramm/m2 preferably 250 gramm/m2 to 450 gramm/m2. The grammage together with the dimension and the shape of the cardboard defines the stability of the cardboard. Large cardboards tends to have higher grammage. The printing technology may be the same as for the plastic film.

The intermediate layer as shown in FIG. 23 comprises a cardboard printed on both sides.

FIG. 24 shows a cross section of the sealing area 38 of a blister package 10 according to FIGS. 1 to 8 without a welded intermediate layer. The first and second plastic films 16, 20 directly abut against each other. Each of these plastic films 16, 20 is built up as shown in FIG. 21 maybe the paint layer is dropped. The orientation of the layers can be both ways whereby the paint layer is either on the outside or on the inner side of the finished package. The other layers such as the metallic and the laquer layer are on the same side as the paint layer, but just outside of the sealing area 38.

FIG. 25 also shows a cross section of the sealing area 38 but of a blister package 10 comprising an intermediate layer welded on the one side to the first plastic film 16 and on the other side to the second plastic film 20. The plastic films 16, 20 are prepared as shown in FIG. 21, the orientation of the film can be arranged in both ways. If the intermediate layer is cardboard as shown in FIG. 23 and in case of being a plastic film as in FIG. 21 but probably with a paint layer on both sides of the plastic film. The thickness of the intermediate layer in case of being a plastic film is between 0.1 mm and 0.3 mm preferably between 0.15 mm and 0.25 mm.

Finally, FIG. 26 shows an alternative for the preparation of the first and/or second plastic film 16, 20 for producing a blister package 10 as shown in FIG. 7. As described in connection with FIG. 8 a first and second plastic film 16, 20, respectively, is unwound from the coil. In the present case the plastic film is either pre-printed or not printed at all. In a processing step “labelling film” a label 82 is applied to the plastic film or in a processing step “stamp film” a for example metallized surface area is applied to the planar plastic film which is a big advantage. Preferably, the label 82 is applied and the stamped surface area is produced on that side of the first or second plastic film 16, 20 that will become the inner side 78, 78′. Thereafter, the first and second plastic film 16, 20 comprising the label, respectively, is heated, deep drawn and further processed as described in connection with FIG. 8.

The label as described is especially designed for being thermoformed. The label itself is made from polypropylene or polyethylene or any material mentioned above for the films preferably from polypropylene. The thickness of the label is about 0.05 mm to 0.11 mm preferably 0.06 to 0.09 mm. The label is printed on one side and coated with an adhesive on the reverse side. For the optimal processing the label is attached with his adhesive containing side to a carrier which is wound up onto a coil.

Nevertheless it is also possible to add a non thermoformable label onto the blister package. For the application of such a label a planar surface is needed. Such a label has a thickness of about 0.03 mm to 0.15 mm preferably 0.04 mm to 0.10 mm.

The application and the deep-drawing of the label can be realized either by a sealing process as described or it can be realized with another sealing technology for example heat-sealing.

It is also possible to cut the blister package 10 such that a tongue like section of the first and second web portions 24, 28 remain outside of the sealing. Since the first and second web portions 24, 28 are not welded in the tongue like section they can be grasped for opening the blister package 10 by disintegration of the sealing 40. In this case a perforation for providing an opening tab 70 is not necessary.

The blister package 10 as described realized by the process as described has a width of 25 mm to 140 mm preferably 15 mm to 50 mm and a length of 130 mm to 240 mm preferably between 200 mm and 240 mm. The thickness of the package is in total 15 mm to 30 mm preferably between 18 mm and 27 mm. Thereby the thickness of the thermoformed front cover 14 measures between 8 mm to 17 mm preferably 10 mm to 14 mm and the thickness of the thermoformed back cover 18 measures between 7 mm and 13 mm preferably between 9 mm and 12 mm.

Blister packages according to the present invention can also be used for the packaging of other oral hygiene devices, such as dental floss or interdental brushes, wet shavers or for body care products in general.