Title:
Wiping substrate dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A convertible wiping-substrate dispenser that may be mounted on an upright surface such as a wall or mirror, or combined with a stand for placement on horizontal surface. The dispenser may have a durable or disposable container for the wiping substrate.



Inventors:
Rippl, Carl G. (Appleton, WI, US)
Lemke, Sarah A. (Appleton, WI, US)
Thoms, Craig A. (Appleton, WI, US)
Mcmanus, James D. (Hortonville, WI, US)
Berger, Maggie V. (Appleton, WI, US)
Nukuto, George I. (Neenah, WI, US)
Foley, Edward J. (Greenville, WI, US)
Application Number:
12/271005
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
11/14/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/146
International Classes:
A47K10/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. (Neenah, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A dispenser for a wiping substrate, the dispenser comprising, a container defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel, a top panel, and a bottom panel; wherein a first flange extends from an edge located between first side and the back panel, and a second flange extends from an edge located between second side and the back panel; a bracket comprising a pair of side rails connected to a bottom rail, the pair of side rails having a pair of spaced apart slots for engaging the first flange and the second flange; and at least one additional structure selected from a group consisting of a connector and a stand; wherein the container defines a volume and has an opening therein for access to the wiping substrate.

2. The dispenser according to claim 1 wherein the first flange and the second flange comprise a carton support that is attached to the back panel.

3. The dispenser according to claim 1 wherein the bracket further comprises a rail spanning the pair of side rails.

4. The dispenser according to claim 3 wherein the bracket comprises tubing.

5. The dispenser according to claim 1 wherein the additional structure comprises a stand that is selectively attachable to the bracket so that the container may be elevated from a surface and disposes the back panel in an upright position.

6. The dispenser according to claim 5 wherein the stand has an L-shaped profile defined by an upright portion and a horizontal portion, and wherein the stand has a proximal edge at the upright portion, a distal edge at the horizontal portion, and two side edges.

7. The dispenser according to claim 6 wherein the proximal edge of the stand is selectively attached to a horizontal portion of the bracket.

8. The dispenser according to claim 5 wherein the stand comprises a U-shaped member comprising a front bar connected to a pair of side bars, and posts extending upwardly from each of the pair of side bars.

9. The dispenser according to claim 8 wherein the stand is comprised of tubing.

10. The dispenser according to claim 8 wherein each post has a distal end comprising a socket for adjoining to the bracket.

11. The dispenser according to claim 1 wherein the container is comprised of a clear material.

12. The dispenser according to claim 1 wherein the top panel is connected to the back panel by a hinge.

13. The dispenser according to claim 1 further comprising a bumper disposed on a rear surface of the bracket.

14. The dispenser according to claim 13 wherein the connector comprises a suction cup disposed at a rear surface of the bracket, and spaced apart from the bumper.

15. A wiping substrate dispenser comprising: a container defining a volume for holding a stack of wiping substrate, the container having an opening; wherein the container is defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel and a bottom panel; a U-shaped bracket for holding and maintaining the container in a desired position; and a suction cup connector for attachment to a rear surface of the bracket.

16. The dispenser according to claim 15 wherein the container is rectilinear and has an opening positioned on both the front panel and the bottom panel.

17. The dispenser according to claim 16 further comprising a top panel.

18. A kit for dispensing a sheet substrate comprising: a stack of wiping substrate; a container defining a volume for holding the stack of wiping substrate, the container having an opening; wherein the container is defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel, a top panel, and a bottom panel; a U-shaped bracket for holding and maintaining the container in a desired position; a stand that is selectively attached to the U-shaped bracket, the stand defined by a horizontal member and an upright portion so that the U-shaped bracket and container may be elevated above a surface; and a connector for selectively attaching the bracket to an upright structure.

Description:

This application claims priority to provisional application Ser. No. 61/003,388, entitled Wiping Substrate Dispenser, and filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Nov. 16, 2007. The entirety of provisional application Ser. No. 61/003,388 is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Drying hands on a towel that has been used by another is unsanitary. Germs start multiplying on a damp towel immediately after it is used. Especially at a party or in a family where multiple persons are using the same towel, germs are easily transferred and viruses spread. One solution to this problem is to provide a stack of clean towels for each hand drying session. One reasonable way to do this is to provide paper towels.

Paper towels typically come in roll form. Many consumers have roll dispensers in their kitchens, but it is not something most persons would want to have in a bathroom. Mostly, it is not aesthetically pleasing to see a roll of paper towels in a bathroom setting. Another problem is space. Roll dispensers are usually bulky on a counter top or extend too far out from a wall. In addition, it may take two hands to tear off a towel.

What is needed is a towel dispenser that is aesthetically pleasing and does not take up valuable space in a small bathroom. Further, it is desirable to have a dispenser that does not require two hands to retrieve a towel therefrom.

BRIEF SUMMARY

In one aspect of the invention there is a dispenser for a wiping substrate, the dispenser including, a container, a bracket, and at least one additional structure selected from a group consisting of a connector and a stand. The container is defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel, a top panel, and a bottom panel. A first flange extends from an edge located between first side and the back panel, and a second flange extends from an edge located between second side and the back panel. The bracket includes a pair of side rails connected to a bottom rail, the pair of side rails having a pair of spaced apart slots for engaging the first flange and the second flange. The container defines a volume and has an opening therein for access to the wiping substrate.

In one aspect of the invention there is a wiping substrate dispenser including a container defining a volume for holding a stack of wiping substrate, the container having an opening, and wherein the container is defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel, a top panel, and a bottom panel. The dispenser further includes a bracket for holding and maintaining the container in a desired position, and a stand that is selectively attached to the bracket. The stand is defined by a horizontal member and an upright portion so that the bracket and container may be elevated above a surface.

In yet another aspect of the invention is a kit for dispensing a sheet substrate that includes a stack of wiping substrate; a container defining a volume for holding the stack of wiping substrate, the container having an opening; wherein the container is defined by a first side, a second side, a front face, a back panel, a top panel, and a bottom panel; a U-shaped bracket for holding and maintaining the container in a desired position; a stand that is selectively attached to the U-shaped bracket, the stand defined by a horizontal member and an upright portion so that the U-shaped bracket and container may be elevated above a surface; and a connector for selectively attaching the bracket to an upright structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective, cut-away view of a first embodiment of the dispenser of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial view of the dispenser of FIG. 1, showing one embodiment of a stand;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a second embodiment of the dispenser of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a third embodiment of the dispenser of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a rear partial perspective view of the bracket of FIG. 4;

FIG. 5a is a plan view of the bracket of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of one embodiment of a carton blank that could be used with the dispensers of FIGS. 1, 3 and 4;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a carton support used in conjunction with the dispensers of FIGS. 1, 3 and 4;

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the dispenser of the present invention, installed on a mirror;

FIG. 9 is a side view of the dispenser shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a top elevation of a carton with the carton support of FIG. 7 attached thereto; and

FIG. 11 is a top elevation of a carton with a pair of tabs attached thereto to form flanges.

DEFINITIONS

As used herein, the terms “configure” or “configuration” means to design, arrange, set up, or shape with a view to specific applications or uses. For example: a military vehicle that was configured for rough terrain; configured the computer by setting the system's parameters.

As used herein, the term “hinge” refers to a jointed or flexible device that connects and permits pivoting or turning of a part to a stationary component. Hinges include, but are not limited to, metal pivotable connectors, such as those used to fasten a door to frame, and living hinges. Living hinges may be constructed from plastic and formed integrally between two members. A living hinge permits pivotable movement of one member in relation to another connected member.

The terms “a” or “an”, as used herein, are defined as one or more than one. The term plurality, as used herein, is defined as two or more than two.

The term “attached,” is a connection of two or more objects that is not necessarily direct, and not necessarily mechanical.

These terms may be defined with additional language in the remaining portions of the specification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to one or more embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example and embodiment is provided by way of explanation of the invention, and is not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment may be used with another embodiment to yield still a further embodiment. It is intended that the invention include these and other modifications and variations as coming within the scope and spirit of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, the dispenser 10 of the present invention includes a container 12 for dispensing wiping substrates 14, and a bracket 16 for supporting the container 12. An optional stand 18 may be connected to the bracket 16 so the dispenser may be placed on a horizontal surface. In addition to the stand 18 or in the alternative thereto, each bracket 16 may have a connector 56 for attaching the bracket 16 to a mirror or wall as shown in FIG. 4.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the bracket 16 is the basic structure of the dispenser 10 common to all the embodiments described herein. The bracket 16 may have many configurations that serve to support a container 12. In a desired embodiment, bracket 16 is a U-shaped member generally defined by a pair of side rails 70 and a bottom rail 72. The side rails 70 and bottom rail 72 may be joined from separate components, or integrally connected as shown. In the embodiments of FIGS. 1-4, there may be a slot 76 located at an inner surface of each side rail 70. Slots 76 are aligned with the longitudinal axis 79 of each side rail 70, and are used to receive a flange or carton support 25, described below.

An optional rail or brace 74 may span between the side rails 70 to provide rigidity to bracket 16. On the rear surface 81 of brace 74 may be one or more slot members 75. Slot members 75 are used to connect the bracket 16 to a connector as described herein so that the bracket may be hung from a wall or mirror. Other possible structures could take the place of slot member 75, such as hook and loop, adhesive, a clip, or the like.

In one embodiment, the bracket 16 is constructed from PVC tubing. However, this example is not meant to be limiting and it is thought that other tubing types and/or shapes (e.g. rectangular) could be used. Further, this bracket may be constructed from other materials such as an injection molded material. Overall, it is contemplated that bracket 16 may be constructed from tubing or solid materials made from plastic, wood, metal, glass, or any substance that can support the container 12 and a plurality of wiping substrate. Further, bracket 16 may include aesthetic features (not shown) to mimic a lathed, natural wood, or carved surface.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 6, the container 12 may have a plurality of sides that generally define an interior volume 40. The sides of the container 12 may completely enclose the interior volume 40 and be defined by a first side 42, a second side 44, a front face 45, a back panel 49, a top panel 50, and a bottom panel 48.

The container 12 may be made from any material that is appropriate to contain and dispense the wiping substrates 14, and allow the container 12 to be mounted to bracket 16. Non-limiting examples of materials suitable for the container 12 includes glass, plastic, metal, paperboard, corrugated board or any combination thereof. The non-limiting example of FIG. 6 shows a blank from which the carton 12 may be made from a sheet material such as paperboard. The blank includes not only the sides mentioned, but a plurality of tabs 51 extending from the sides that are not visible when carton 12 is constructed. The purpose of tabs 51 is to provide a surface to which sides 42, 44 and 49 may be adhered, as is known in the art. Tabs 51 may have other configurations as known in the art of packaging.

Container 12 may be configured so that it is refillable. For example, a side or panel of container 12 may be hinged such that additional wiping substrate may be added, e.g. top panel 50. In another embodiment, the top panel 50 of container 12 may be open and uncovered. Alternatively, the container 12 may be configured to be non-refillable, as seen in FIG. 1. Such containers would be delivered to the consumer filled with the product to be dispensed. Once all the substrate has been completely dispensed, the empty container 12 may be removed from the bracket 18. In a desired embodiment of the present invention, the non-refillable container 12 may be made from materials such that are recyclable and made in part from recycled material.

Such a disposable/recyclable container 12 would allow for a change in color or container design. For instance, it may be desirable to have containers 12 with seasonal designs. Desirably, a disposable container 12 is a paperboard such as that commonly used to package facial tissues.

Additional functionality may be included in the design of the container 12. The container 12 may include a secondary opening or window in a front or a side panel (not shown) such that the consumer may see the amount of product remaining to be dispensed from the container 12 in order to gauge when the container 12 may need to be refilled or replaced. In the alternative, container 12 may be made from a clear material, as seen in the embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 9.

A dispensing opening is an opening in the container 12 that allows wiping substrates to be removed therefrom. Such an opening may be of a size and shape to help with the dispensing of the product and may include additional features, such as a tear bar (not shown) to help tear off roll substrate being dispensed, or a presentation bar 62 to hold each sheet of wiping substrate 14 in a ready position for dispensing. In FIG. 1, the opening is located in the bottom panel 48 of the container 12. In FIG. 8, the opening is located in the top 50 of container 12. In yet another embodiment as seen in FIG. 6, the opening is located at or near the intersection of the front face 45 and the bottom panel 48 of container 12. The container 12 may have a removable surfboard 53 as shown in FIG. 6. The surfboard 53 is defined by a perforated outline, and once removed, forms the opening to the container 12.

Referring to FIG. 7, a carton support 24 is used for the selective or permanent connection between container 12 and bracket 16. Carton support 24 may be a substantially rectangular sheet having a contact face 80, such that when contact face 80 is attached to the back panel 49 of the container 12, the bracket 24 extends outwardly and normally from the first and second sides walls 42, 44 at the edge between the back face and the first and second sides 42, 44, see FIG. 10. Desirably, the height 90 of bracket 24 is the same or slightly less than the height 91 of carton 12 (see FIG. 1). The length 92 is longer than the length 93 of carton 12. This configuration creates a pair of flanges 25 that extend in the X-direction from each side wall 42, 44. Each flange 25 is configured to be disposed in the slots 76 of bracket 16. To ease insertion of the flanges 25 into slots 76, the corners 89 at the leading edge 91 may be rounded. Referring to FIG. 1 by way of example, the carton support 24 supports the container 12 between the two side rails 70, above the bottom rail 72.

Carton support 24 may be constructed from paperboard, cardboard, plastic, metal, or any material that can be attached to the container 12 (either by adhesive or other attachment methods), and have enough stiffness to create an effective flange. In the alternative, rather than using a single rectangular carton support to create a pair of flanges, two separate rectangular tabs 27 may be used to create a pair of flanges 25. Tabs 27 are attached to the container 12, such as at each end of the rear wall, see FIG. 11. Each tab 27 may have a height that is the same or slightly less than the height 93 of carton 12.

Referring to FIG. 1, so that the flange 25 does not accidentally slide out from slots 76, it may be desirable to cap each side rail 70 with a rail cap 54. This will allow the dispenser shown in FIG. 4 to be oriented as shown, or turned up to 180 degrees to an upside-down position without the container 12 falling out of bracket 16. The rail cap is a plug that is snap fitted or screwed into an aperture located at the distal ends of the side rails 70. If the rail cap 54 includes an aperture 55 and the aperture in the side rail is deep enough, the side rail 70 could hold items such as flowers (see FIG. 8), toothbrushes, pencils or other elongated articles of choice.

Referring now to FIG. 4, regardless of whether the bracket 16 is attached to a stand 18, the bracket 16 may be “releaseably connected” to a support surface such as a mirror or wall. The connection is stable once made, but is capable of being disconnected/detached when desired. This releasable connection is made possible by a connector 56.

The connectors 56 may be attached to the back of bracket 16 (e.g. at brace 74) and are configured to releaseably couple the dispenser 10 to a surface such as a wall or mirror. Such a connector 56 may be an integral portion of the bracket 16, or it may be an additional piece that is affixed thereto, such as at the slot member 75 (FIG. 5). The connector 56 may be any fastener that attaches bracket 16 to the surface. Non-limiting examples of such fasteners may include suction cups (as shown), magnets, hook and loop fasteners, pressure-sensitive adhesives, tapes, screws, nails, or other such fasteners as are well known.

Any variety of wiping substrates may be dispensed with the dispenser 10 including, but not limited to wipers, towels, and the like. Such substrates may be stacked, folded, interfolded, rolled, or in any format as are known for such substrates.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, it may be desirable to support the container 12 and bracket 16 above a horizontal surface, such as a counter top. Therefore, any structure that can be attached to the bracket and that is strong enough to support the required load of the container 12, wiping substrate 14, bracket 16, and pulling forces (from the substrate 14 removal) will suffice. While many stand configurations are possible, two non-limiting examples are shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.

Referring to the stand embodiment of FIG. 2, the stand 80 includes a defined horizontal support member 82 and a vertical support member 84. In particular, the horizontal support member 82 is a U-shaped member having a front bar 86 and a pair of side bars 88. Rising up from the end of each side bar 88 is a post 90. There may be an integral joint between the post 90 and side bar 88, such as an elbow 92.

As with bracket 16, stand 80 may be made from tubing or a solid material. At the top end of each post is a socket 94 that is configured to hold the bracket 16. Socket 94 may have an integral connection to post 90 or a separate connection, such as when the post 90 is hollow tubing. As shown by way of example, the socket 94 is shaped to hold the elbow joint 96 (FIG. 5) located between the bottom rail 72 and each side rail 70 of bracket 16. A clamp or other attachment could be used instead of a socket member.

If desired, a pin member 100 may be added to the socket 94 for added stability. Pin member 100 would engage an aperture located at the bottom of joint 96 (not shown). In the alternative, permanent connection between the bracket 16 and stand 18 may be made with an adhesive, welding, or the like.

In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the stand 18 is made from an L-shaped member constructed from a sheet of material that has about a 90 degree bend therein. However, it is contemplated that the bend could be 75-90 degrees. A proximal edge 100 of the L-shaped member stand may be welded or otherwise attached to the bottom rail 72. For example, there may be a slot 84 located on the bottom surface 86 of the bottom rail 72 for receiving the proximal edge 100. The proximal edge 88 of the stand fits within slot 84. This allows for disassembly and storage of the dispenser 10.

Referring now to the embodiments of FIGS. 8 and 9, the container 12 is attached to a surface such as a mirror 99. While components such as the bracket 16 and stand 18 (not shown) remain the same as in the previous embodiments, container 12 differs from the container of FIG. 1 in several ways. For example, the top panel 50 of container 12 may be sloped slightly toward the user. This allows easier access to the wiping substrate 14, presented through an aperture 60. The top 50 is in the form of a hinged lid 66 that covers most of the opening 60, leaving only a small lip of substrate 14 exposed. Container 12 may be a clear material as shown, or an opaque material. Desirably, container 12 is a refillable or replaceable plastic receptacle, but it could be disposable after each use.

Further shown in FIG. 9 is a bumper 58 extending outward from the rear of bracket 16. The bumper or bumpers 58 may be located or spaced along the bottom rail 72 of the bracket 16 as seen in FIG. 5. Desirably, bumpers 58 are buttons of elastomeric material that are friction fit into apertures at back surface of bracket 16, or adhered thereto. Bumpers 58 may be used with any of the embodiments shown herein.

The container 12 may be filled with wiping substrate 14 and sold as a kit along with the stand 18 and the connectors 56.

It will be appreciated that the foregoing examples and discussion, given for purposes of illustration, are not to be construed as limiting the scope of this invention, which is defined by the following claims and all equivalents thereto.