Title:
TEAR-OPEN SEAL PACKAGING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a tear-open seal packaging (10), with a packaging element (12) having an opening (30) and a tear-open film (14), which closes opening (30) and is connected along its outer edge portion (16) with the opening edge (32) of packaging element (12) by a sealing seam (18). Sealing seam (18) has at least one indentation (26,28) which extends inwards from the outer edge of sealing seam (18), and whose depth of extension is less than width (B) of sealing seam (18) at the point of the indentation (26,28).



Inventors:
Naroska, Rainer (Bad Salzuflen, DE)
Application Number:
12/194893
Publication Date:
09/17/2009
Filing Date:
08/20/2008
Assignee:
Rainer Naroska Engineering GmbH (Lemgo, DE)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/276
International Classes:
B65D17/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD M. GOLDBERG (HACKENSACK, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Tear-open seal packaging, comprising a packaging element having an opening and a tear-open film, which closes said opening and is connected along an outer edge portion thereof with an opening edge of said packaging element by a sealing seam, said sealing seam having at least one indentation which extends inwards from an outer edge of the sealing seam, and the at least one indentation having a depth of extension which is less than the width of the sealing seam at the point of the indentation.

2. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein at least one said indentation is disposed on an approximately arc-shaped section of the sealing seam.

3. Seal packaging of claim 1, wherein at least one said indentation is disposed in a region between an imaginary tangent of the outer edge of the sealing seam and an imaginary parallel tangent of an inner edge of the sealing seam.

4. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein at least one said indentation is shaped like a recess with an arc-shaped edge.

5. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein the tear-open film is provided with a free tear-open tab at one edge portion on one indentation in the sealing seam.

6. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein at least two said indentations are contrived in the sealing seam, and are located at a distance from each other along the sealing seam.

7. Seal packaging according to claim 6, wherein the tear-open film is provided with a free tear-open tab at one edge portion on one indentation in the sealing seam and the free tear-open tab is disposed between two indentations in the sealing seam.

8. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein the indentations are disposed at opposite points in the sealing seam.

9. Seal packaging according to claim 1, wherein the packaging element is an intermediate ring which forms a top edge of a container and is connected to another part of the container.

Description:

The present invention relates to a tear-open seal packaging with a packaging element having an opening and a tear-open film which closes the opening according to the preamble of claim 1.

Seal packagings of this type are used for food, for example. A container to accommodate the product is closed with a sealing film made of aluminium, plastic or a composite material. An impermeable connection is created along the sealing seam between the opening edge of the container and the outer edge of the film, e.g. by melting a sealing coating onto the underside of the film, or onto the top of the container or packaging element. In this way, the film and the edge of the packaging enter into a material-locking connection with each other.

Whilst in many cases, the container is formed as a single moulded part, one may also provide one part of the packaging only with tear-open film, and then connect this part to the rest of the packaging. Such a part may be an intermediate ring, whose opening is initially seal with the tear-open film, before it is then impermeably connected with another part of the container by means of crimping or some other prior art method. Within the meaning of this invention, then, the term packaging element is understood to designate both entire packagings such as pots, sealed bowls or such like, as well as parts thereof, such as the aforementioned intermediate rings.

Seal packagings must satisfy various requirements. On the one hand, the contents must be reliably protected. The packaging must, therefore, be impermeable, stable and resistant to damage. On the other hand, it should also be easy to open. Meeting both needs simultaneously is problematic in some cases, especially in terms of the shape and strength of the sealing seam. Reliable sealing can be achieved by widening the sealing seam, but this makes the film more difficult to tear open. The sealing seam in the vicinity of any tear-open tab part of the film is especially critical. As a general rule, this is where, at the start of the opening process, the greatest tear-open forces occur, and yet the consumer is only given a small tab to grip and pull on the film. If an arc-shaped seam is torn open from the exterior, the force required to continue tearing open initially increases considerably because the length of the tear-open edge, i.e. the width of the seal connection between the film and the opening edge of the packaging, is very large at the outset.

A high tear-open force at the outset of the opening process may cause the already detached part to become torn off from the rest of the film, thereby making it far more difficult, or even impossible, to open the packaging further, because the consumer can no longer grip the film. Frequently, a hole therefore has to be made in the film with a sharp object, from where the film can then be pulled off.

When a high tear-open force is applied, the film also frequently tears on one side of the tab, so that the film can then only be partly removed, whilst the rest remains seal to the packaging and has to be removed in a second tear-open operation.

Various proposals have therefore been made to contrive the sealing seam in such a way that the tear-open force is reduced, especially at the outset of the opening process. The seam can, for example, have a tapering or wave-shaped section in the vicinity of the tab, thereby departing from the arc-shaped path of the seam. This does, however, weaken the seam on the inside. This is a problem, particularly in packagings which have to withstand high interior pressure. At points where the path of the seam is not curved, i.e. where it zig-zags, stress peaks may occur if the tear-open film bulges towards the outside, and said peaks may destroy the seam, causing impermeability. The path of the seam on such packagings should therefore be as curved as possible in order to distribute the occurring inner pressure forces as evenly as possible along the seam. This type of seam path is not compatible with the use of pre-determined tear-open points in the above-described manner.

The task of this invention is, therefore, to create a seal packaging of the aforementioned type which is capable of withstanding a relatively high interior pressure and yet can still be easily torn open by the consumer with a low level of force that is as evenly spread as possible.

This task is solved according to the invention by a tear-open seal packaging with the features of claim 1.

According to the invention, the sealing seam has at least one indentation from the exterior, extending inwards from the outer edge of the sealing seam. The depth of extension is less than the width of the sealing seam at the location in question.

As a result of the indentation or indentations, the sealing seam is slightly weakened in places from the exterior in such a way that when the film is torn open at the point where there is an indentation towards the middle of the film, the force is reduced to the level required to break the seam connection. The length of the tear-open edge, i.e. the width of the seal connection between film and opening edge of the packaging, is reduced by the indentations as will be explained in more detail further on in the description. As the depth of extension of the indentations is less than the width of the seam, the sealing seam is not weakened from its inner edge and is capable of withstanding even high degrees of stress such as those which may be caused by high pressure on the inside of the seal packaging.

In particular, such indentations can be applied without difficulty to curved sealing seams.

In the context of this invention, the term “indentation” designates a recess of any shape in the outer edge of the sealing seam, without the shape of said recess being specified. The person skilled in the art may adapt the shape, width and depth of this recess in suitable manner to the respective requirements of the seal packaging.

The indentation or indentations are preferably disposed on an approximately circular-shaped section of the sealing seam.

The indentation(s) is/are preferably disposed in a portion between an imaginary tangent of the outer edge of the sealing seam and a parallel imaginary tangent of the inner edge of the sealing seam.

Further, the indentation(s) is/are preferably shaped as a recess with an arc-shaped edge.

In a preferred form of embodiment, the tear-open film is provided with a free tear-open tab along an edge portion at an indentation in the sealing seam.

The sealing seam preferably has at least two indentations at a distance from each other along the sealing seam.

In this case, the tab can preferably be disposed between two indentations.

Pulling on the tab thus produces a tear-open edge which extends between the indentations and is shortened at both ends by the latter. This decisively reduces the material resistance, and hence the tensile force required to continue pulling the tab back further.

According to another preferred form of embodiment, recesses are disposed at opposite points on the sealing seam.

Whilst the tear-open film can be torn open at a point at which there are notches to reduce the required tear-open force, in this form of embodiment opposite indentations additionally ensure that the process of fully detaching the film from the opening edge proceeds evenly, rather than causing, here too, a sudden increase in the level of force required.

In one preferred form of embodiment, the packaging element is an intermediate ring which forms the upper edge of a container and is mechanically or materially connected to the other part of the container.

A preferred example of an embodiment will be described in more detail below with reference to the drawings, in which

FIG. 1 is a top-plan view of an embodiment of the tear-open seal packaging according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view of parts of the seal packaging as seen in FIG. 1, before being joined together;

FIG. 3 shows the parts of the seal packaging as seen in FIG. 2, during joining-up;

FIG. 4 is a section through the seal packaging as seen in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 shows the sealing seam of the seal packaging as seen in FIG. 1 to 4;

FIG. 6 to 8 show a perspective view of a conventional seal packaging as per FIG. 1, during the tear-open process;

FIG. 9 shows the seal packaging according to the invention, in a tear-open position as per FIG. 7; and

FIG. 10 is a force-path diagram to illustrate the forces during the tear-open process.

The tear-open seal packaging 10 shown in FIG. 1 comprises a ring-shaped packaging element 12, namely an intermediate ring forming the top edge of a packaging. The ring opening is sealed by a tear-open film 14 with an essentially circular peripheral edge 16. To this end, the outer edge portion 16 of tear-open film 14 is connected to the opening edge of packaging element 12 by a circular-shaped sealing seam 18. This sealing seam 18 is created, for example, by melting a meltable coating onto the underside of tear-open film 14 by means of a stamp tool, so that tear-open film 14 and packaging element 12 enter into a material-locking connection with each other. Sealing seam 18 can therefore be created under the action of heat. Another means of connection, such as adhesion, could conceivably also be used.

Along the edge portion disposed uppermost in FIG. 1, tear-open film 14 is provided with a free tear-open tab 20. This tear-open tab 20 lies folded on the top side of tear-open film 14 and can be finger-gripped by the user of seal packaging 10. By pulling on tear-open tab 20, tear-open film 14 can be torn open, thereby exposing the opening of packaging element 12.

In this figure, the path of sealing seam 18 (not visible in the top-plan view shown in FIG. 1) underneath the edge 16 of tear-open film 14 is diagrammatically illustrated by hatching. The inner edge 22 of sealing seam 18 is circular. Along its outer edge 24, sealing seam 18 has an indentation 26,28 on each side of tear-open tab 20. Indentations 26,28 are thus distanced from each other along sealing seam 18, and extend inwards from the outer edge 24 of sealing seam 18. The depth of this extension is less than the width of sealing seam 18 between its inner edge 22 and outer edge 24. Thus sealing seam 18 is not completely broken by indentations 26,28, but rather the seal remains intact from the inside. As will be explained in more detail below, indentations 26,28 make it easier to tear open tear-open film 14 by pulling on tear-open tab 20 disposed between indentations 26,28.

At this point, the manufacturing process used for the seal packaging 10 according to the invention will be described. FIG. 2 and 3 show the ring-shaped packaging element 12, namely the intermediate ring, with, at its centre, a circular opening 30. The edge 32 of this opening 30 is formed by an inward and downward graduation of the cross-section of packaging element 12, i.e. towards the interior of the packaging, which is not shown. Packaging element 12 can, however, also have a different cross-section to the one shown in FIG. 3.

The unit shown in FIG. 1, comprising packaging element 12 and tear-open film 14, is formed by lowering the punched-out tear-open film 14 onto packaging element 12, so that the outer edge portion 16 of tear-open film 14 rests on the opening edge 32 of packaging element 12, and by material-locking connection of superposed edges 16 and 32, resulting in the configuration in FIG. 4. The material-locking connection creates sealing seam 18, which seals edges 16 and 32 together impermeably. In particular, the sealing is impermeable to liquid and/or gas.

As shown in FIG. 2, tear-open film 14 and tear-open tab 20 are contrived from a single blank. Tear-open tab 20 can be folded back onto the circular surface of tear-open film 14 in a manner not illustrated in more detail as film 14 is sealed onto packaging element 12.

Edges 16 and 32 can be sealed together with a suitable stamp tool, by means of which tear-open film 14 and packaging element 12 are pressed together from above and below. The sealing point is heated during the pressing process. Alternatively, the heat required for sealing can be supplied to packaging element 12 before pressing.

The unit shown in FIG. 4, comprising packaging element 12 and tear-open film 14, is then connected to a container not shown in more detail, e.g. by crimping the outer edge 34 of packaging element 12 with the top edge of the container. Alternatively, one may contrive the packaging as one piece and seal off its opening with a tear-open film 14. Hence the term “packaging element” refers, in the context of this invention, both to parts of the packaging, such as the intermediate ring of this form of embodiment, as shown in the figures, or to packagings contrived as one piece.

The shape of the sealing seam is shown in more detail in FIG. 5. As already explained in connection with FIG. 1, sealing seam 18 is essentially circular. The width B of sealing seam 18, i.e. the distance between its inner edge 22 and its outer edge 24 in the radial direction remains the same around the greater part of its circumference. In one portion 36 only, which is disposed at the top in FIG. 5, sealing seam 18 has two indentations 26,28, which are located at a distance from each other along the path of sealing seam 18. As already illustrated in FIG. 1, the tear-open tab 20 of the tear-open film 14 on seam 18 is disposed in the gap between the two indentations 26,28.

Indentations 26,28 are each contrived as an arc-shaped recess in the outer edge 24 of sealing seam 18. The depth of each recess is less than the width B of the sealing seam at the point of each indentation. Thus the path of sealing seam 18 is never completely broken at any point. In particular, the inner edge 22 of sealing seam 18 retains its round shape and is not touched by indentations 26,28. Indentations 26,28 are relatively flat, i.e., their width in the circumferential direction is substantially greater than their depth in the radial direction. The radii of the arcs of the recess edges of indentations 26,28 are greater than the width B of sealing seam 18, i.e. the centre point of these arcs 38 lies relatively far outside seam 18.

Indentations 26,28 need not necessarily have the recess shape shown here, the shape may differ. In particular, flatter, or less flat, indentations 26,28 are also conceivable, as well as V-shaped recesses, etc. The distance between indentations 26,28 may also vary.

The mode of functioning of indentations 26,28 will now be explained in more detail with reference to the following figures. For the sake of better comprehension, the mode of functioning of a conventional seal packaging will be described first.

FIGS. 6 to 8 show a top plan view of a conventional seal packaging 110, whose packaging element 112 is contrived like the intermediate ring 12 of the seal packaging 10 according to the invention, and whose tear-open film 114 has the same shape as tear-open film 14 of seal packaging 10. Tear-open film 114 is also provided with a tear-open tab 120. Running underneath the edge portion 116 of tear-open film 114 there is a round sealing seam 118 to seal tear-open film 114 onto the opening edge of packaging element 112. In contrast to sealing seam 18 according to the invention, the conventional sealing seam 118 is not provided with indentations, i.e. both its inner edge 122 and outer edge 124 are circular and unbroken, and the width B around the complete periphery of sealing seam 118 is the same as that of sealing seam 18 according to the invention.

If one pulls on tear-open tab 120, thereby exerting tensile force F on tab 120 towards the opposite edge area of tear-open film 114, this force F acts along a line separating the already detached part of tear-open film 114 from the surface area of film 114 that is still firmly connected to packaging element 112 by means of sealing seam 118, and lies flat on the opening thereof. This line, which will be referred to below as separating line 50, runs perpendicular to the direction of pull of tab 120 and corresponds to a chord connecting two points on the circular outer edge 116 of tear-open film 114. As the pulling movement progresses, tab 120 grows longer by the detached part of the film as sealing seam 118 gives way to tensile force F, and separating line 50 moves towards the middle of tear-open film 114, becoming longer as it does so.

The amount of force required to pull tab 120 further depends on the momentary material resistance along separating line 50. This in turn depends on the length of the section(s) of separating line 50 running over sealing seam 118, i.e. via which there is contact with sealing seam 118, contact which has to be overcome by exerting tensile force. In FIG. 6, tab 120 is partially pulled away from sealing seam 118, but only to the extent that separating line 50 has not yet moved inwards beyond the full width B of sealing seam 118. That is, sealing seam 118 is still intact from the inside of the sealing packaging, and the opening is still closed. Separating line 50 therefore cuts through two points 52 and 54 on the outer edge 124 of sealing seam 118, but not inner edge 122. The required tensile force F is thus determined by the length L1 of a tear-open edge 56 between these points 52 and 54, which is only slightly shorter than the entire length of separating line 50. Tear-open edge 56 corresponds to a chord connecting the two points 52,54 on the arc of the outer edge 124 of sealing seam 118.

As can be seen in FIG. 7, separating line 50 lengthens as tab 120 is pulled further, as does tear-open edge 56, as the latter moves radially inward together with separating line 50, and the chord between points 52 and 54 on the outer edge 124 of sealing seam 118 becomes longer. The tensile force F required for tearing open also increases as this happens. This is clearly illustrated in the force-path diagram in FIG. 10. The section of curve designated by a 1 in a circle indicates the position in FIG. 6, the maximum in position 2 equates with FIG. 7, etc. The curve increases sharply on the way from the not yet torn-open position in which sealing seam 118 is still intact, to the position in FIG. 7, in which separating line 50 touches the inner edge 122 of sealing seam 118. As tearing-open proceeds, separating line 50 moves beyond inner edge 122 of sealing seam 118 (see FIG. 8). As a result, only the end portions of separating line 50 remain in contact with sealing seam 118. The contact is reduced to two narrow tear-open edges 58,60, which cut through sealing seam 118 at two points around the circumference positioned at a distance from each other. As tab 120 is pulled back further, tear-open edges 58,60 move, together with separating line 50, further along sealing seam 118, without substantially changing in length. Thus the force F required for tearing open is hardly any greater, as the flat section of curve clearly shows in FIG. 10 (position 3).

The above description reveals that the force, F, required for tearing open, increases with the length L1 of tear-open edge 56. The maximum force occurs in the situation in FIG. 7, in which length L1 of tear-open edge 56 is at its maximum, and sealing seam 118 offers the greatest amount of material resistance.

The way in which the present invention considerably reduces this force peak, thereby substantially facilitating the process of opening seal packaging 10, will be described below.

FIG. 9 shows the seal packaging 10 with the sealing seam 18 of FIG. 5, provided with the two indentations 26,28. The situation in FIG. 9 coincides with that in FIG. 7, in which separating line 50 between the detached and the still attached part of tear-open film 14 has just gone beyond the full width B of sealing seam 18 and reached the inner edge 22 of seam 18. Note here that tear-open edge 62 is substantially shorter than tear-open edge 56 in FIG. 7. This is achieved by indentations 26,28, past which separating line 50 moves during the pulling open movement. In the situation shown in FIG. 9, indentations 26,28 shorten the length of tear-open edge 62 from the lateral ends, and diminish the contact area with film 14. This lessens the material resistance, and the force F required for pulling back is less (see path of curve marked 2′ in FIG. 10).

Indentations 26,28 are disposed at an angular distance around the periphery of sealing seam 18 in such a way that separating line 50, which moves inwards during the pulling back movement, parallel to the progression thereof, passes just beyond indentations 26,28 at the moment at which the inner edge 22 of sealing seam 18 has already been reached, and no further critical force peaks can occur. Hence indentations 26,28 are advantageously disposed in a strip-shaped area limited by two parallel straight lines, of which one straight line is a tangent of outer edge 24 of sealing seam 18 and the other straight line forms a tangent of inner edge 22, which simultaneously forms a secant of outer edge 24.

As can be seen in the force-path diagram in FIG. 10, a further force peak can occur at the end of the opening path, just before tear-open film 14 is completely torn off, caused by separating line 50 coming into contact with the opposite inner edge 22 of sealing seam 18. As this happens, the two tear-open edges 58 and 60 join up to re-become a single tear-open edge with a width as shown in FIG. 7, requiring, once again, application of maximum force. By providing indentations opposite indentations 26,28 on the side of tear-open tab 20 on sealing seam 18, the width of the tear-open edge can be reduced here too, and hence the tear-open resistance of film 14 as well.

Indentations 26,28 have virtually no weakening impact on sealing seam 18 on the inside portion of the opening of seal packaging 10. The invention is therefore especially well suited for use with seal packagings which have to resist a high level of inner pressure, as the pressure force can distribute itself evenly along the circular inner edge 22 of sealing seam 18, and no stresses occur in tear-open film 14. And yet the tear-open process is made considerably easier, and proceeds more evenly, by providing indentations 26,28.

Departing from the embodiment described in connection with the Figures, the desired effect of weakening the material resistance at the tear-open point can also be achieved with a single indentation. If, for example, one omits one of the two indentations 26 or 28 of the above-described embodiment, so that the other indentation remains, tear-open edge 56 is shortened at one end only. The effect of reducing the required tensile force may be slightly less in this case. The user will still, however, find the process of tearing open the film much easier.

Further, the indentations can of course be contrived in sealing seams shaped differently to that shown in FIG. 5, and are not circular. It would be conceivable, for example, to contrive indentations in an arc-shaped rounded corner in an essentially square sealing seam, or in an oval sealing seam or such like. In this respect, too, the above-described embodiment deriving from FIGS. 1 to 10 is not limiting for the invention.