Title:
Pushdown openings with purchase, leverage and gas-tight resealability for can ends
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An easy-to-open and optionally resealable beverage can end provides opening by pressing downward. An actuator lies flat initially to conform to stackability requirements, but is readily repositionable to a ready-to-open state.

In the ready-to-open state a planer surface of the actuator or tab is at a substantial angle to the can's top. A rigid body is interposed between it and the can's tear panel. The actuator is secured to the can top. Downward force ruptures the tear panel, opening the can.

Using a wide actuator, a shallow protrusion on the actuator enables gas-tight resealability of a can opening. The shallow protrusion has an interrupted helix and fits into the can opening. Providing tab attachment via a radiused slot allows the small degree of rotational movement needed for the helix to be turned and pull the actuator bottom sealingly abutted proximate to the perimeter of the opened area.




Inventors:
Hoffman, Jonathan H. (Malibu, CA, US)
Lazich, Matthew (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/583008
Publication Date:
02/04/2010
Filing Date:
08/11/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/492
International Classes:
B65D17/34; B65B43/38
View Patent Images:
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20090127271Method for Manufacturing Liner ComponentMay, 2009Muraoka
20020139805Beverage can end with reduced countersinkOctober, 2002Chasteen et al.
20090152270ORIENTATION SYSTEM FOR A CLOSUREJune, 2009Crowe et al.
20080217330Produce containers and interchangeable, high-density packing system using sameSeptember, 2008Baum
20070125787Thermally-insulating cup holding sleeveJune, 2007Oathout et al.
20020074247Folding funnel and its storage caseJune, 2002Tremblay
20080173652Integral heat-resisting structure of a disposable drinking cupJuly, 2008Chou



Primary Examiner:
THOMAS, KAREEN KAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JONATHAN H. HOFFMAN (MALIBU, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A can end for closing a vessel comprising: (a) a generally planer top panel having an inner surface for facing into the vessel and an opposite outer surface, said top panel having an openable region portion that is substantially delimited from other portions of said top panel by a frangible area of weakness, the frangible area being ruptureable by a suitable, normal, opening force; (b) an elongated, generally planer actuator, non-removably attached to said top panel such that said actuator is held initially in a substantially flat state against the outer surface of said top panel; (c) a foot connected to said actuator, said foot so connected, shaped and configured such that, in the initial state, no portion extends above the plane of the top panel to a degree to effectively impede stackability of can ends; said actuator so configured and attached to said top panel as to be readily moveable from the initial flat state to a ready-to-open state by one or more user manually engendered translations during which no appreciable opening force is inherently applied to the openable region; a ready-to-open state comprises: i. the major plane of said actuator is at an acute angle to a substantial portion of the openable region, ii. said foot is interposed between said actuator and the openable region such that a downward force on said actuator would be mechanically transmitted, through said foot, to the openable region with effective leverage to allow a readily applied degree of manual force to rupture the area of weakness; further, the configuration of foot and actuator is such that sufficient travel is permitted for the downward force to displace the openable area to a degree that effectively opens the can end for dispensing.

2. The can end of claim 1 wherein the one or more manually engendered translations comprise no more than two continuous motions.

3. The can end of claim 1 wherein the one or more manually engendered translations comprise one translation in a single direction that substantially accomplishes the movement from initial state to ready-to-open state.

4. The can end of claim 1 wherein the one or more manually engendered translations includes lifting a distal terminus of said actuator up from the plane of said top panel and through an angle of greater than 90-degrees in a plane substantially perpendicular to the plane of said top panel; further, that lifting inherently engenders a self-assembly of said foot.

5. The can end of claim 1 wherein: the one or more manually engendered translations include rotating said actuator about a pivot point in a plane generally at an acute angle of less than 90-degrees to the plane of said top panel; further, an effective amount of the actuator rotation inherently places said actuator in a ready-to-open state.

6. The can end of claim 5 wherein the actuator rotating engenders a self-erecting of the foot.

7. The can end of claim 5 wherein: the foot is protruding substantially perpendicular from the major plane of said actuator; in the initial flat state said foot extends downward into a depressed area of said top panel to a degree to be effective in allowing said actuator to rest in a flat state; further, the depressed area comprises a ramp configuration such that its surface declines at its edge proximate to the center of the can end from the major plane of the outer surface of the top panel to a depth effective to accommodate the full height of said foot when the actuator is in the initial state.

8. The can end of claim 5 further providing an alternate mode of opening comprising: the one or more manually engendered translations further include lifting the distal extremity of said actuator up from the plane of said top panel; further, the attachment of said actuator to said top panel is such as to constitute a fulcrum providing a degree of freedom of movement such that said actuator being raised by its distal extremity causes its opposite extremity portion move downward toward the openable region to apply an effective leveraged force to rupture the area of weakness.

9. A re-closeable can end comprising: (a) a generally planer top panel for covering the cavity of a vessel, said top panel having an inner surface for facing into the cavity and an opposite outer surface; said top panel having a generally co-planer, delimited tear panel portion, the tear panel portion being openable by a rupturing force producing an opening of a substantially predetermined size, shape, orientation, and location; (b) an elongated, generally planer actuator attached substantially flat to said top panel's outer surface in an initial state; said actuator having a shallow seal lock protrusion depending from one of its surfaces; further, the seal lock having a size, shape and configuration relative to the size and shape of the opening such that, if unconstrained postionally, the seal lock would be a loose fit in the opening in at least one orientation; further, said actuator so attached to said top panel as to allow at least two distinct degrees of freedom of relative movement comprising: i. a first freedom of movement permitting a manual translation of said actuator from the initial state to a state in which the actuator and opening region are in parallel planes with the seal lock extending through the opening, disposed in a so-called ready-to-seal state; ii. a second freedom of movement permitting, from the ready-to-seal state, a rotational movement pivoting about a point generally central to the seal lock and providing a degree of angular rotation to allow the seal lock to be manually pivoted in-place; further, the portion of the seal lock that is below the inner surface when in the ready-to-seal state has shape comprising an interrupted thread, the twisting of which pulls the actuator sealingly down against the top panel's outer surface that surrounds the opening.

10. The re-closable can end of claim 9 wherein the interrupted thread is comprised of two or more opposed wings forming a helix shape.

11. The re-closable can end of claim 9 wherein said first freedom of movement is rotational in a plane approximately parallel to the major plane of the top panel and centered proximate to the center of said top panel.

12. The re-closeable can end of claim 9 wherein the attachment of said actuator to said top panel is through an arcuate slot in said actuator; the geometry of the arc of that slot has a center proximate to the center of the opening.

13. The re-closeable can end of claim 9, further comprising an elastomeric layer interposed between a surface surrounding the opening and opposed actuator surface portions, when the actuator is sealing against the outer surface.

14. A pop-top can end comprising: a generally planer can end base having a region that is openable by application of a suitable degree of an opening force normal to the major plane of that region; a lever initially retained flat against the can end base's upper surface; said lever being user repositionable to a ready-to-open state without exerting an opening force; wherein the ready-to-open state is of a configuration and orientation such that a readily applied downward force to the lever mechanically transmits an opening force to the opening region with effective leverage and effective throw travel to open the can end.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 further comprising: a can vessel that said pop-top can end closes and to which it is secured, in combination, comprising a complete can.

16. The can end of claim 14 wherein the ready-to-open state is such that the major plane of the actuator is at an acute angle to the openable region.

17. The can end of claim 14 wherein the repositioning from the initial state to the ready-to-open state is accomplishable in a single motion.

18. A resealable pop-top can end comprising: a generally planar base having an openable region, an upper side and a lower side; a generally planar tab; a lock having a shape and configuration such that when the openable region is open: a lower portion of the lock is insertable into the opening from the upper side with an upper portion of the lock resting on the upper side perimeter of the opening; from that state, an appropriate manual manipulation applied only on the upper side of said base can bring aspects of the inserted portion forcefully into contact with the lower side with a face such that the upper seal portion is sealingly pressed against the upper side proximate to the perimeter of the opening; further, the lock is an aspect of the generally planer tab, the major plane of which is initially secured flat to the base.

19. The can end of claim 18 wherein said tab is configured to also be useable as a lever in applying a force tending to open the can end.

20. The can end of claim 18 wherein the securement of said tab to said base is at a single pivot point, and further, said appropriate manual manipulation is a rotation about the center of the opening region which engages an inclined plane, situated in a plane generally perpendicular to that of the open region, with an opposing structure to urge a sealing force.

21. The can end of claim 20 wherein said inclined plane is an aspect of the lower portion of the seal lock.

22. The can end of claim 20 wherein said inclined plane is an aspect of the underside of the base, proximate to the perimeter of the opening.

23. A readily openable can end with resealability comprising: a generally planer can end with an upper surface and having an openable region that is openable by application of a suitable degree of an opening force normal to the major plane of that region; a lever initially attached flat against the can end's upper surface; said lever user-repositionable to a ready-to-open state without exerting an opening force; wherein the ready-to-open state is of a configuration and orientation such that a readily applied downward force to the lever mechanically transmits an opening force with adequate leverage and throw to open the can end; further, said lever has a seal lock region protruding generally perpendicular to its major plane, said seal lock having an interrupted thread feature, and being sized and shaped as to be a loose fit in the openable region when open; the attachment of the base and actuator having a degree of freedom of movement allowing the actuator to be user-repositionable to place the protrusion into the opening, achieving a so-called ready-to-seal state; the retention of actuator to base is such that an additional degree of freedom of movement is provided in the ready-to-seal state to allow and guide the seal lock to be rotatable in-place, about its center; the seal lock, its interrupted thread feature, and opening, together being so shaped and configured such that a rotation about the center of the seal lock engenders a force from the threads against the underside of the can end that surrounds the opening; the force tending to pull the tab against the base to seal the opening.

24. A can end as in claim 23 wherein said actuator is repositionable to said ready-to-open state by lifting the actuator extremity in a flop-over motion and separately is positionable into, and out of, the ready-to-seal state by its rotation substantially in the plane of the can end about a point proximate to the center of the base; further, said interrupted thread feature comprises at least two wings in a configuration of a helix.

25. A method of opening a pop-top can comprising: i. initiate rotation of a tab in a plane roughly parallel to that of a can end about a point generally central to the can end, ii. raising the extremity of the tab an effective distance from the surface of the can end as a mechanical side-effect of said rotation, iii. pressing downward on the tab; iv. opening the can as a consequence of forces transmitted via a rigid foot from said pressing downward on the tab.

26. The can opening method of claim 25 further comprising a ramped floor aspect of the can end and an actuator aspect that is an elongated post generally perpendicular to the major plane of the actuator, and wherein said rising is urged by said post's interaction with the ramped floor upon which it rests.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims U.S. provisional application 61/188,494 filed on Aug. 11, 2008 and PCT/US 09/01503 filed on Mar. 4, 2009 for priority. Both of the above previous applications and U.S. provisional application 61/067,906 filed on Mar. 3, 2008 are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

FIELD

The field of this invention is closures for receptacles particularly those closures with a frangible portion that breaks along a point or line of weakness.

BACKGROUND

A common category of closures, particularly for aluminum cans containing carbonated drinks, is the so-called pop-top or stay-on-tab. Typically the attached tab initially lies flat against the top surface of the can end and is lifted by its extremity closest to the rim. With one point held to the can by a rivet, the tab acts as a lever for applying force against a tear panel. A lifting action causes a line of weakness surrounding the tear panel to be severed or ruptured. Both the tab and the tear panel are retained to the can end, called an “end” or “end wall”. There are many known variations of similar and related closures.

One area of perceived deficiency in existing designs may be in the ease of opening. Opening can be difficult in some cases because of a lack of “purchase” particularly at the initial stage of movement of the tab. Unfortunately this is the point at which the initial rupture of the line of weakness occurs thereby requiring the greatest effort. It can be particularly difficult and painful for persons with long fingernails. Long nails tend to magnify the load on the fingernail bed. Using your fingernails to open current pop-top cans may also damage or break polished or decorated fingernails. Opening could also be difficult for those lacking strength or dexterity.

Many solutions to this problem have been proposed. Some include variants of a lifted lever design. A feature of some of these designs is that the full resistive force of the tear panel is only encountered after the lever is raised somewhat to a position providing a slightly improved purchase. Other solutions include using purpose-designed tools to open a standard end. Also, there are designs that involve the user pushing down on a structure that is at a small angle to the plane of the can end. These later versions may present problems due to providing little leverage and having a very short throw.

Another generally present drawback is the inability to reseal a can after its initial opening. Some approaches that might be adequate to reduce spillage or keep out insects do not seal well enough to keep a carbonated drink from quickly going flat. Proposed designs generally fall into two classes: (1) a stopper attached or integral to the tab that has a complementary shape to the dispensing opening and is repositioned over the opening and simply pressed into it; (2) a plate or other body inside the can that can be repositioned from the outside to block the opening from underneath.

The latter approach tends to be complicated and would likely interfere with the stackability of the ends. The former relies on a friction fit, possibly augmented by a plastic coating or even a retaining latch. Those schemes would tend to either (a) not be gas-tight, (b) be pushed open by the force of the carbonation, or (c) be so close a fit as to be difficult to close and re-open.

While the deficiencies mentioned above have given rise to many attempts at a solution, meeting the constraints for a cost-effective and practical implementation is difficult. In order to be compatible with existing can fill and assembly equipment, any structure above or below the primary plane of the can end must be extremely low profile to allow stacking of ends. At many steps in a production process ends are stacked directly upon each other, rim-to-rim. The protective coating on the bottom of a can end should not get touched by any aspect of the top of the can end below it in such a stack. This is to avoid the risk of coating damage that would cause an end to be defective

Other constraints involve the cost of manufacturing. Although it may seem that only a small amount of material is used, the extremely high volume nature of beverage cans places a premium on each fraction of a gram of metal required and each fold or other discrete step in the manufacturing process. A practical solution should avoid an excess of material, mechanism, and complexity in order to be cost-effective to manufacture. Last, users are very familiar with the current style of can openings and are likely to assume that something outwardly resembling it, in fact, works like the current design. It would be desirable for a proposed new design to address this issue.

SUMMARY

Beverage can ends employing the principles of this invention solve the problem of easy opening while accommodating the constraints of low profile for stackability and of low complexity. They employ an attached actuator configured to open the can by a short sequence of motions. An initial movement presents minimal resistance by not applying an opening force to the frangible area. The initial movements translate the actuator from a flat or stowed position to an elevated position of significantly improved purchase. That ready-to-open position also has adequate leverage to allow a modest applied force to easily rupture the frangible region. The force is transmitted via a rigid member or assembly situated between the actuator and the so-called tear panel, the frangibly openable region of the can end.

Implementations following the principles of this invention allow the advantageous modality of pushing downward to impart the opening force. A user could apply a downward force with the pad of the thumb, heel of the palm, or any such means as may be desired. Pushing down is a more convenient manner of applying force in this case since the user has unobstructed access to the surface to which the force must be applied. They can also “get their weight behind it” if necessary. Some can ends consistent with the principles taught herein offer convenient, gas-tight resealability with the inclusion of little additional mechanism or material.

Several approaches consistent with the principles taught herein are available for can end and actuator implementations that are initially substantially flat yet readily transform into a significantly upright position. The geometry of these upright positions provide an effective amount of leverage and adequate travel distance to rupture and then displace a tear panel into the can.

Some examples of implementations consistent with this invention include a rigid foot stowed in a depression in the can end. Others include various self-erecting rigid foot structures.

Can ends employing the resealability teachings of this invention have a generally squat cylindrical shaped structure called the “seal lock” that can be inserted into an opening. The seal lock can include an interrupted thread on its inserted portion for urging the actuator to sealing abutment with the surface surrounding the opening. The seal lock may be a portion of an actuator. Alternatively, urging the sealing surfaces together may be via inclined plane features of the top panel interacting with relatively flat under hang aspects of the insertable portion of the seal lock.

One way of sealingly engaging the seal lock is to provide for an amount of rotational degree of freedom about the center of the seal lock to allow turning an interrupted thread and locking the seal. Suitable rotational geometry can be implemented by a structure as low cost as a pin in an arcuate slot.

This summary is intended to introduce the inventive concepts, principles and embodiments, not to define them.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a can with one version of an end consistent with the teachings of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the end of the can of FIG. 1 in the initial, closed position;

FIG. 3A is an exploded view of the can end of FIG. 2;

FIG. 3B is an exploded view as in FIG. 3A but from a lower vantage point;

FIG. 4A is a cross section view of the end of FIG. 2 taken on the line A-A;

FIGS. 4B and 4C are the view of 4A with the end in other states of openness;

FIG. 5A shows a perspective view of the end of FIG. 2 with the actuator's extremity partially lifted upward from the plane of the top panel, and FIG. 5B is the same view with the actuator lifted to the extent that the can is opened;

FIG. 5C shows the end of FIG. 2 with the actuator returned to the drinking position;

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the end of FIG. 2 with the actuator turned 45-degrees clockwise from its initial position;

FIG. 6B is a cutaway view along the line B-B of FIG. 6A with the actuator at 90-degrees from its initial position;

FIG. 6C is a cutaway along the line C-C of FIG. 6A with the actuator at 135 degrees clockwise from its initial position;

FIG. 6D is an enlarged portion of FIG. 6C;

FIG. 7A is the can end and point of view of FIG. 6A with the actuator at the 180-degree from stowage position, and ready-to-open; it includes a user's finger in position to press downward on the actuator;

FIGS. 7B and 7C show the can end of FIG. 6A in a just-opened state from various points of view;

FIGS. 7B and 7C are cutaway views along C-C, from a higher and a lower point of view respectively;

FIG. 7D is a perspective view showing only the opened base of the can end of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7E is a perspective view showing the can end of FIG. 2 in the drinking configuration;

FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C are perspective views of a second version of a can end having a self-erecting foot design; the actuator is shown respectively in the initial position, 135-degree turned position and 180-degree, ready-to-open position;

FIG. 9 shows the actuator of the design of FIG. 8A in isolation;

FIGS. 10A, 10B, and 10C are views of the actuator and stop of FIG. 9 (in isolation) from the line Z-Z with reference to the actuator; each shows a different state of rotation of the actuator, respectively at 135-degrees, at about 170-degrees, and at 180-degrees in the ready-to-open position;

FIG. 11A is a plan view of an alternate third version of a can end in its initial closed state;

FIG. 11B is a perspective view of the can end of FIG. 11A, and FIG. 11C is an exploded view of that same can end;

FIG. 12A is a plan view and FIG. 12B is a bottom view of only the actuator of FIG. 11A, both reoriented 90-degrees from the view of FIG. 11A;

FIG. 12C is a perspective view of the actuator of FIG. 12A from below;

FIG. 12D is an elevation view of the actuator of FIG. 12A along the line Y-Y;

FIG. 13A is a perspective view of only the base of the apparatus of FIG. 11A; FIG. 13B is a plan view of that base;

FIG. 14A is a sectional view of the can end of FIG. 11A taken along the line X-X;

FIG. 14B and FIG. 14C are the same view as FIG. 14A but with the device in its lifted-open state, and its ready-to-be-opened-by-a-downward-push state, respectively;

FIG. 15A shows the can end of FIG. 11A in a perspective view in the just-opened-by-lifting state;

FIG. 15B shows the apparatus and point of view of FIG. 15A with the can end in the ready-to-drink state;

FIGS. 16A and 16B show perspective views of the apparatus of FIG. 11A with the actuator pivoted from its initial state to a 45-degree and a 90-degree position respectively;

FIG. 16C shows the apparatus in ready-to-open-by-pushing state in a cutaway along the line D-D of FIG. 11A;

FIG. 16D shows a cutaway along the line D-D in a just-opened-by-pushing state;

FIGS. 17A and 17B show a plan view of the can end of FIG. 11A, respectively they depict a ready-to-seal state and a sealed state;

FIGS. 17C and 17D show a bottom view of the can end of FIG. 11A; respectively they depict a ready-to-seal state and a sealed state, in these two figures the tear panel is not shown to better illustrate the relationship of the wings and the opening;

FIGS. 17E-17H are variations of a resealable unit.

FIGS. 17E and 17F are exploded views from above and below respectively.

FIGS. 17G and 17H are bottom plan views in the ready-to-seal and the sealed states respectively.

FIG. 18A, FIG. 18B, FIG. 18C, FIG. 19A, and FIG. 19B illustrate a so-called pile driver embodiment;

FIG. 18A shows a perspective view of the end in an initial state; FIG. 18B is a plan view while FIG. 18C shows the actuator-only of FIG. 18A separated into constituent portions; FIG. 19A shows an enlarged view of the actuator in a 70-degree position and FIG. 19B is in a ready-to-open 45-degree position to the tear panel;

FIG. 20A shows a just-opened state in a cutaway view along the line of L-L of FIG. 18B;

FIG. 20B is a schematic sectional view of the can version of FIG. 18A shown in the just-opened state, hatching illustrates various sub-portions of the integral actuator;

FIGS. 21A and 21B depict a fifth version having a reseal feature, both are perspective views showing states of opening, and 21A has a cut-away portion to better display the central region of the can end;

FIGS. 22A and 22C show a sixth, so-called “stacked bump” version in perspective;

FIG. 22B shows the stacked bump implementation in plan view;

FIG. 23 shows an exploded, schematic view of only the actuator of the can end of FIG. 22A;

FIGS. 24A-24C are sectional elevation views along the line W-W of FIG. 22B; they depict respectively: the initial state, raised about 90-degrees, and ready-to-open;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Overview

In conjunction with the included drawings this detailed description is intended to impart an understanding of the teachings herein and not to define their metes and bounds. Six particular implementations, each illustrating aspects of the present teaching, are presented below. Some of the many possible variations and versions are also described.

The first, second, and third examples are “rotating” versions in that a ready-to-open state is obtained via a rotational motion from the initial state. Some implementations in this category are “two-way” in that they have two modes of opening. In those designs one mode of opening involves rotating an actuator while the other involves lifting an actuator. The forth, fifth, and sixth examples detailed are “flop-over” versions. The flop-over designs provide a mode of opening in which the users' initial action is the familiar tab lifting. However the action that meets resistance and opens the can results from a downward force imparted to the tab later in the opening cycle.

As used in this document the terms up, upward, down, and downward are in reference to a can or can end with its bottom standing perpendicularly to the ground and its openable end facing away from the ground. Distal and central are with regard to the center of the can end's major plane and clockwise and counterclockwise are from an observer looking down on the upper surface of a can end. Also, the term translate is not limited to purely linear changes of position.

Rotating Versions

The three initial implementation examples to be described are capable of opening in two distinct ways. They each have an actuator that pivots around a centrally located point of the can end. This pivoting or rotating is initially in a plane parallel to that of the top panel. That rotating results in the actuator being disposed in a raised, push-to-open position. The first implementation to be described outwardly resembles the current standard design. The second implementation has a self-erecting structure and the third implementation has features providing resealability.

First Presented Version—Two-Way Opening Resembling Current Units

This first version resembles current designs at first look but adds a new mode of opening.

Two-Way Opening Example

Structure

One version of a can consistent with the teachings herein and which has a rotating actuator lever is seen in FIG. 1. Secured to a cylindrical vessel 1 which it closes, is a can end 2 comprising a base 3 with a pivotally attached elongated actuator 4. The base has an annular rim 5 and a generally planer circular end wall or top panel 6. The end is for covering and closing the open cavity of the vessel. As seen in more detail in the enlarged plan view of the end in FIG. 2, a generally oval portion of the top panel functions as a tear panel 7. This portion occupies about one half of the surface area of the top panel between the rim and a centrally located rivet 11. The tear panel is largely perimeterally delineated from other areas of the top panel by a frangible line of weakness 10 possibly made by scoring or by a partial die cut. The actuator is secured by a rivet or pin flat against the top panel.

As seen in FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B, a hole 15 in the actuator to accommodate the rivet is reinforced by a surrounding donut 13 deformation. That hole sets the actuator off into a longer actuator portion 34 and a shorter actuator portion 35. The shorter portion starts at the hole and terminates in an arcuate nose 9. The longer portion starts at the hole and terminates in a finger grip 8, initially proximate to the rim 5.

In the base beneath the actuator's initial position is a ramp pocket 12. This ramp area is a region of the top panel directly opposite the tear panel. The ramp pocket is seen in the exploded views of FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B. It is approximately semicircular in the plane of the top panel and semi-circumscribes a hole 19 in the base that is proximate to the center of the top panel. The flat side of the semicircle of the ramp pocket is flush with the adjacent areas of the top panel 6 and ramps downward uniformly as it extends in the direction of the rim.

As shown in the aforementioned figures, a foot 17 is integral to the actuator and depends from it. The foot's height is fully accommodated by the deepest part of the ramp pocket 12. This allows the actuator to lie flat against the top panel in its initial position with its foot resting in the ramp pocket. In the implementation pictured in FIG. 3B, the foot is a debossed region integral to the actuator. It might also be implemented as a separate component affixed to the body of the actuator. The tear panel 7 and line of weakness 10 are also shown in FIG. 3A. The tear panel has a neck 16 region providing a hinge function. Near the neck is a bead or an embossed multiplier bump 14 aspect of the tear panel. The nose 9 of the actuator rests over this bump in the initial state.

Cross sectional views along the line A-A of FIG. 2 are seen in FIGS. 4A-4C with the apparatus in three different states. FIG. 4A shows the initial state. The actuator 4 is seen flat against the top panel 6 with its foot 17 resting in the ramp pocket 12. The nose 9 is resting just above the multiplier bump 14. The just-opened state of one opening mode is seen in FIG. 4B. The tear panel 7 is partially severed from the top panel and hinged downward. FIG. 4C shows the ready-to-open state when using the second method of opening. The actuator is displaced from its initial position and the foot, rather than the nose 9, rests on the multiplier bump. In this position the nose rests in the ramp pocket's floor.

Two-Way Opening Example

Operation

The two methods of opening the present example can end are the familiar lift-to-open method and a push-to-open method.

Lift-to-Open Way—Operation

The lift-to-open method of opening this can end is essentially that of popular existing designs. Its inclusion provides many benefits. A novel design that looks similar to a traditional unit can avoid user frustration by allowing optional operation as a traditional unit. This mode might be said to make this version backward compatible.

FIG. 5A shows the actuator tab 4 being lifted by its finger grip 8 from a plane parallel to the top panel 6. In that mode of opening the actuator is a class 1 lever with the rivet 11 as the fulcrum. The nose 9 presses down on the tear panel region 7. The shorter tab portion 35 acts as the resistance arm and the longer tab portion 34 as the effort arm. (These two portions are best indicated in FIG. 3B). As seen in FIG. 5B, when the finger grip is lifted, the line of weakness 10 is severed and the end is opened. In the particular drinking position shown in FIG. 5C, the actuator has been returned to its initial position out of the way of the dispensing opening. Also shown is a frustum shaped pivot-point support 18 between the hole and the ramp floor.

Push-to-Open Way—Operation

To initiate the push-to-open, no-lift mode of operation of the present version, the finger grip 8 extremity is first pivoted about the rivet 11. The direction can be either clockwise or counterclockwise. This motion presents very little resistance. FIG. 6A shows the actuator rotated to a 45-degree clockwise position. The finger grip end of the actuator is slightly raised from the surface of the top panel. That is due to its foot 17 being moved in the ramp pocket 12 to a location of shallower depth and thus raising the grip extremity of the actuator upward.

As the actuator is further turned through the 90- and 135-degree positions shown in FIG. 6B, and 6C the finger grip end of the actuator continues to rise and the nose 9 turns and drops into the ramp pocket 12. The details of the nose entering the ramp pocket are seen in the partial, expanded view of FIG. 6D. The nose entering the ramp pocket insures that minimal resistance is encountered between the nose and the top panel 6 as the actuator progressively inclines at a greater angle due to the decreasing depth of the ramp pocket.

As mentioned above, when at 180-degrees from its initial position the actuator foot 17 rests on the multiplier bump 14 of the tear panel as seen in FIG. 7A. This is a ready-to-open position. A user could press downward on the face of the actuator and sever the tear panel, opening the can end. This could be done with a finger, palm, first, or otherwise. Many implementations of this scheme may be opened using only one hand.

In this mode, opening the longer segment 34 of the actuator is configured as a class 2 lever. The fulcrum is the rivet 11 securing one end of the segment. The portion of the actuator from the rivet to the foot's 17 effective attachment point acts as the resistance arm and the portion from the foot's effective attachment point to the location of user-applied force is the effort arm. While this arrangement does not necessarily afford more leverage than the standard lift method it maintains a comparable mechanical advantage.

The geometry of this mode of opening primarily affords a significantly improved purchase. By improved purchase it is meant an enhancement in the ability and ease for a person to apply a force. In the push-down-to-open way of opening, the direction normal to the surface to which the user must deliver force is unobstructed and is free to be approached in a straightforward manner. The force may be delivered with a body part or an implement not unduly limited by size or dimension. At the typical physical relationship between a user and a can that user desires to open, pressing down is much easier than lifting upward. This results in a convenient and easy to open can end.

The just-opened state is seen in FIGS. 7B and 7C showing the tear panel 7 hinged downward from the top panel 6. The base 3 only is seen in its open state in FIG. 7D. This figure allows a more complete view of the tear panel severed at the line of weakness and hinged at its off center neck 16. As pictured here, to conveniently drink from the can, the actuator may be moved back to its initial position in this version. A user can accomplish this either by continued rotation in the initial clockwise direction as seen in FIG. 7D or by reversing the direction and retracing its path. Either motion can return the actuator 4 to its initial position, resulting in the ready-to-drink state as seen in FIG. 7E. This can end design is symmetric along a line through the centers of the multiplier bump 14 and the rivet 11 so the initial opening motions described above can be performed either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Variations

There are many possible variations of the version described above. One is to eliminate the backward compatibly. Another variation would be to make the design asymmetric allowing only one direction of initial rotation. An asymmetric version might include only one half of the ramp pocket 12. This could be combined with an asymmetric actuator tab having an upturned rest or finger hold on one edge. That design could suggest the required rotational direction and method of opening to a user.

Second Presented Version—Self-Erecting on Rotation

An implementation seen in FIGS. 8A through FIG. 10C features a self-erecting foot that is established as a side effect of the rotation of an actuator 44 into a ready-to-open position. The self-erecting foot “trips” out of the bottom of the actuator as it is rotated through 180-degrees to move into a push-to-open position.

Self-Erecting on Rotation—Structure

In FIG. 8A a version is seen to include a base 43 having a tear panel 47 and an elongated actuator 44. The tear panel includes a wedge-shaped stop 150. The actuator is rotatably held to a top panel 46 by a rivet 41 or pin. In this design the actuator is asymmetric with a folded foot assembly structure 51 of a deformable material extending perpendicular to the major axis of the actuator.

As seen in FIGS. 10A-10C in views taken along the line Z-Z of FIG. 9, the foot assembly 51 shown is implemented as a single continuous metallic piece formed in the general shape of a parallelogram. One side of the parallelogram, a top leg 57, is shown as integral to the major plane of the actuator. Opposite it in the initial state is a foot support leg 53 that is proximate and parallel to the plane of the top panel 46. The side facing in the direction of the allowed actuator rotation is a foot 52 and its opposite side is a base leg 55.

Self-Erecting on Rotation—Operation

FIGS. 8A-8C show this can end version, respectively: in an initial state, rotated 135-degrees, rotated 180-degrees, and ready-to-open. FIGS. 10A-10C are partial, section views of the unit at approximately the 170-degree, 175-degree and 180-degree positions. As mentioned above these section views are taken along the line Z-Z of FIG. 9, remaining referenced to the actuator as it is rotated. FIG. 10A shows a living hinge point 54 between the foot 52 and the foot support leg 53 contacting the stop 50. As further rotational force is applied to the actuator the living hinges at the hinge point and the opposite corner are bent open and the angles of the other two corners of the parallelogram are correspondingly reduced.

This changing of shape of the foot assembly 51 raises the actuator from the plane of the top panel, as seen in FIG. 10B. Further rotation folds the shorter base leg 55 backward and generally in the plane of the top, effectively changing the four-sided shape into a three-sided shape. In its final configuration, seen in FIG. 10C, the base leg is restricted from further deformation by abutting a portion 56 of the underside of the actuator and the foot assembly. Together they form the general shape of an equilateral triangle. This structure provides a rigid foot extending from the actuator to the tear panel and completes the can end's transformation to a ready-to-open state.

Constraints are put on the material and structure of the foot assembly in order for it to bend into position as a foot. The actuator is rotated with only a low to moderate force so at least the hinge points need to be soft. Of course, the most cost effective construction of the foot assembly is likely as an integral piece. It must bend into position relatively easily but have sufficient strength to effectively carry out its role as a foot when in the ready-to-open configuration. Particular plastics, aluminum, steel, and alloys of these and other metals are well known to those skilled in the art as possible materials. Alternatively, the various sub-parts of the foot assembly might be individual components connected by distinct hinges. In that case, the material and construction of the sub-components and that of the hinges need not be the same.

Various complete can end designs that are consistent with this version may provide for an effective dispensing or drinking position in various manners. The actuator might be broken off, it might be pushed into the can opening, or it might be snapped into the opening in such a configuration as to not block a desired fluid flow. Those implementations would have a thin actuator perimeter with a shape and features complementary to those of the opening and a relatively large open central region allowing for the effective flow of liquid.

In some designs it might be desirable to be able to counter-rotate the actuator back to its initial position while unfolding the foot assembly. A design of that nature would put additional constraints on the material and structure of the foot assembly. They would be such as to provide for the various hinge points connected with some more constrained hinge structures, at least to the extent of providing for one folding followed by one unfolding.

Third Presented Version—Resealable, Two-Way Opening

The third specific implementation example is also a two-way opening design. One way to open is a rotate and then push-to-open mode. The other way is a so-called “backward compatible”, lift-to-open mode. In addition, this example embodiment has the feature of resealability in a secure and gas-tight manner.

Resealable, Two-Way Opening—Structure

This example can end, shown in FIGS. 11A-11C, comprises a base 103 with a pivotally attached, generally planer, asymmetric teardrop shaped actuator 104. The base of this can end has an annular rim 105 surrounding a generally circular top panel 106. A tear panel 107 occupies a portion of the top panel. That panel is largely perimeterally delineated from other areas of the top panel by a frangible line of weakness 110. FIG. 11C shows a closed line of weakness. If a device was implemented in that manner it could risk the tear panel completely separating from the can end. A portion relatively less weakened, or an incomplete line of weakness setting off a neck would be alternative approaches.

A rivet accommodating hole 119 goes through the base proximate to its center. An actuator 104 is secured to the top panel 106 by a rivet 111 or pin through an arcuate slot 132 in the actuator and the base's hole's. The radiused slot is reinforced by a surrounding oval donut 113 deformation. A relatively small arcuate nose 109 is at the extremity of the actuator closest to the radiused slot. The distal extremity 108 of the teardrop terminates proximate to the rim 105 and has an arcuate edge of approximately the same radius as the rim's. It may be desirable to modify the design shown in the drawings to allow a larger finger-hold at that extremity. The slot 132 in the actuator 104 is generally transverse to the major axis of the actuator. The slot is somewhat skewed from that transverse axis and is about 85-degrees to the major axis. The plan view of the actuator in FIG. 12A shows this geometry.

Seen in the exploded view of FIG. 11C is a shallow debossed, roughly truncated-pear shaped, planer seal lock home 137 area in the base. This depressed area is opposite the tear panel and is of a similar shape and size as the portion of the actuator under which it sits in the initial state. Within the seal lock home is an even deeper ramp pocket 112. That ramp is further described below.

A generally planer bottom face 136 region of the actuator seen in FIG. 12B has a somewhat distorted oval shaped area depending from it called a seal lock 133. The seal lock is located towards the distal extremity of the actuator with its major axis transverse to the major axis of the actuator bottom face. The seal lock is about 80% the width of the actuator. The particular version shown in FIGS. 12B, 12C, and 12D has two wings 134a 134b generally on opposite sides of the seal lock and tilted downward. A line from the center of one wing to the center of the other wing would be about 30-degrees off the major axis of the seal lock. FIG. 12C is an enlarged perspective view of the underside of the actuator. It shows the seal lock 133, the two wings 134a 134b and a foot 117. This foot operates similarly to foot elements described in previously presented versions. FIG. 12D is an elevation view from the line Y-Y in FIG. 12A. It shows that both wings are generally tilted away from the bottom surface of the actuator, approximately at an angle of five degrees from the plane of the actuator bottom face 136. That downward angle is lessened at the counterclockwise extreme in comparison with the angle at the clockwise extreme of each wing. The result is the configuration of an interrupted helix or auger thread.

The base 103 in isolation is shown in a perspective view in FIG. 13A and a plan view is shown in FIG. 13B. The tear panel 107 is seen to have its major axis approximately transverse to the major axis of the seal lock home 137. Within the tear panel, proximate to the base's hole 119, is a raised oval displacement adder or boost 14 about one third the width of the tear panel. Centered within the raised boost is a depressed oval stop 135 with the same orientation as the enclosing oval boost. When the foot drops into it, this stop provides an alignment function stopping the pivoting of the actuator at the proper location. The surrounding oval boost increases the displacement of the primary plane of the tear panel without requiring a longer foot and deeper pocket. It also serves to strengthen the tear panel and better distribute any downward opening force of the actuator. The ramp pocket 112 starts flush with the top panel just outside the line of weakness 110 and proximate to one side of the rivet hole 119. It turns in an arcuate manner around the pivot point support 118 as it descends to a depth accommodative of the height of the foot as the ramp floor extends toward the rim 105.

Similar to the previously described rotating actuator version, this version has two modes of opening. The operations are discussed below. FIGS. 14A-14C are cross sectional views of the device of FIG. 11A all taken along the line X-X. FIG. 14A shows the device in its initial state as pictured in plan view in FIG. 11A. The actuator 104 is seen flat against the top panel 106 with its foot 117 resting in the ramp 112.

FIGS. 14B and 14C depict the two modes of opening. They are analogous to the modes of opening of a previously presented implementation. In FIG. 14B the can has been opened in a manner in which the major axis of the actuator remains in a plane generally perpendicular to the top panel 106. The distal end 108 of the actuator is raised and the nose 109 is pushed down to the tear panel. In FIG. 14C, the actuator has been rotated 180-degrees about the rivet 111 (not visible in these sectional views) and the foot 117 is over the depressed stop 135.

Resealable, Two-Way Opening—Operation

Lift-to-Open Way

FIG. 15A shows the actuator 104 being lifted, thus creating a lever action with the rivet 111 as the fulcrum. The nose 109 presses down on the tear out region 107, the line of weakness 110 is severed and the end is opened. FIG. 15B shows the drinking position with the actuator returned to its original, flat position.

Push-to-Open Way

To initiate the push-to-open, low effort mode of operation of this version, the actuator 104 is pivoted about the rivet 111 in a clockwise direction. As seen in FIG. 16A this can be accomplished by a tangential force on the finger holds 131a 131b. Similar to the previously described device, the foot 117 (unseen from this view) rides up the ramp, raising the distal end 108 of the actuator as it is pivoted. As the actuator 104 is further turned through the positions shown in FIGS. 16B and 16C, its distal end continues to rise from the plane of the top panel 106 and the nose 109 turns in to the ramp pocket 112. The pivot-surrounding oval donut 113 rests on the pivot-point support 118.

When 180-degrees from its initial position, the foot of the actuator rests on the raised oval boost 114 of the tear panel 107 as seen in FIG. 16C and is in a ready-to-open position. A user can press downward on the upward facing surface of the actuator to easily open the container. The just-opened state is seen in FIG. 16D showing the tear panel hinged downward.

To conveniently drink from the can, the actuator 104 is moved back to its initial position by reversing the direction rotation as seen in FIG. 15B. The drinking position is the same whether opened by lifting or by rotation.

Reseal—Operation

This implementation has the feature of resealability. The seal lock 133 depending from the bottom surface 136 of the actuator 104 is of a size that is slightly smaller than the tear panel 107. FIGS. 17A-17D illustrate the locking action. FIGS. 17A and 17B are plan views. FIGS. 17C and 17D are views from below with the tear panel 107 removed for clarity. FIGS. 17A and 17C show the ready-to-lock state, while FIGS. 17B and 17D show the locked state.

To reseal, the actuator is rotated in a clockwise direction 138, as it was originally turned to open the can. Since the foot 117 no longer has the tear panel to ride across, the foot falls into the opening. In the specific version shown in FIGS. 12B, 12C, and 12D, the last part of the actuator's traverse places the leading wing 134a under the lip of the opening. The trailing wing 134b falls into the opening as seen in FIG. 17C.

The last action the user takes to complete resealing and to lock in place is to turn the actuator 104 counterclockwise as diagramed in FIG. 17A. In this motion direction 139 the actuator rotates about a point centered in the seal lock 133. This motion is allowed and governed by the radiused slot 132. That slot is a segment of a circle centered at the center of the seal lock. That small rotation turns the interrupted helical wings 134a 134b under a portion of the opening's lip region 130 as seen in FIG. 17D. The wings pull the bottom face 136 of the actuator down tightly flush with the top panel area surrounding the opening. The can end is sealed and locked. To unseal, the steps for sealing are reversed. While ease of unsealing cans consistent with these teaching is not expected to be an issue, unsealing convenience may be effected by a build up of carbonation of the top panel.

Variations—Two-Way with Reseal

There are many possible variations of the implementation described above consistent with the teaching of the present disclosure. There could be more than two wings. An elastomeric material or coating between the bottom surface 136 of the actuator 104 and the top panel's 106 surface just outside tear panel 107 may be employed to achieve an improved seal. That optional elastomeric material might be coated on the bottom surface of the actuator or might be an aspect of the upper surface of the top panel, for example. The shape of the opening and seal lock 133 could differ from that presented. A circular opening could allow for a taper-to-taper mating between a raised area of an actuator's bottom surface and raised area surrounding a tear panel.

Alternatively, rather than being fixed to a tab or actuator, a seal lock similar to that described above might be rotatably mounted to a tab rather than employing an arcuate slot to provide the second degree of freedom of movement. Rather than rotating an interrupted thread, the inserted portion of a seal lock might be expanded and raised upward by a lever or other means on the outside of the can.

Variation—Alternate Site of “Interrupted Thread”

There are other versions with alternate structures used to urge the sealing abutment of the bottom face of an actuator with the surrounding area. One alternative is to have a seal lock 173 with two or more flat topped underhang protrusions in place of the angled wings. To have the same screw action as the previously described system, the opposing surface to the flat underhang portions must have an “interrupted inclined plane” feature. In this version, the area of the top panel surrounding the opening is configured, possibly by stamping, to have three or more inclined plane areas 169a 169b 169c along the edge of the opening. The interaction of the flat-topped seal lock underhang with the inclined plane areas of the top panel provides the screw action sealing force.

FIG. 17E shows an actuator 164 and base 163 exploded in perspective from above. FIG. 17F is similar but viewed from below. The three protrusions 174a 174b 174c extend straight down from the seal lock 173. They might be thought of as in the shape of an upside-down mushroom. Unlike the wings in previous versions the underhang surfaces are roughly parallel to the major plane of the seal lock. As mentioned above, the screw action the perimeter of the opening is comprised of three debossed inclined plane areas 169a 169b 169c.

FIG. 17G is a bottom plan view of the unit in a ready-to-seal state. Note that protrusion 174a is adjacent to inclined plane area 169a. Turning the seal lock 173 in a counterclockwise direction 165 (as viewed from above) will bring the unit to a sealed state. The pivoting about the center is provided for in an analogous manor as that of the previously presented resealable version. The sealed state is shown in FIG. 17H note that the underhang of the protrusion 174a is engaged by the openings incline plane 169a.

Variation—Cupped Spring Washer Approach

In any resealing implementation consistent with the principles herein, regardless of the site of the interrupted inclined plane, if any, it may be advantageous to employ curved mating areas. To better apply a continued sealing force, either or both of the top panel regions surrounding the opening and the sealing face of a seal lock assembly could have convex aspects that acted much as a Belleville washer.

Making Particular can Ends Consistent with this Teaching

The implementations described are manufacturable by processes well known to those skilled in the art. Some particular manners of forming a seal lock include:

1—Each “wing” (whether it is 2, 3, or more) is started in the progressive die as a well being stamped into the flat floor of the tab placed close to the edge in strategic locations. The well may be long and narrow, but not necessarily so. After the well is formed for each wing it is then folded over and flattened to the outside of the tab so that it protrudes past the edge of the tab, thus creating an undercut or wing that can grab the underside of the can opening sheet metal once the tab is twisted into sealing position.

2—The sheet metal that the actuator is formed out of is folded under all the way around the perimeter so as to make a rounded edge and not expose a sharp sheet metal edge. In the areas where a wing is called for on the seal lock, the sheet metal is folded back on itself again to then protrude past the edge of the tab. It might be folded back towards the center of the tab again to not expose sharp edges. The sheet metal could be rolled and then flattened so that there are no sharp, raw, or unfinished edges exposed.

3—Separate wing pieces made of the same material as the tab or actuator (aluminum) are spot welded (or otherwise permanently attached) onto the underside of the actuator. These pieces might be folded one or more times so as not to expose any sharp edges.

4—A formable material such as plastic is made into wing shapes and is then attached to the underside of an actuator. This could be a thermoplastic or thermoset material that is molded then attached. Alternatively a thermoset, such as a fast curing UV curing resin, is formed right on the bottom surface of the actuators while they are running through the production line. This might employ a mold to cause the resin to cure in a certain shape. An elastomeric sealant gasket could be pre-made with the wings and then applied to the bottom of the actuator. The wings could be part of the sealant but of a harder durometer material.

5—In the case of a seal lock implementation with a flat overhang rather than angled wings, another method of forming the seal lock would include stamping an elongated post near the edge of seal lock and hitting the “head” of the post to produce a mushroom shape appendage. This manufacturing technique is well known and used in the construction of rivets used in current pop-top units.

Flop-Over Versions

The previous example implementations provide for rotating into a ready-to-open state. The three particular examples that follow use a “flop-over” action rather than rotation in the plane of the actuator to get into configurations of comparable properties.

Forth Presented Version—Pile Driver—Structure

The so-called pile driver can end design example that is illustrated in FIGS. 18A-18C, 19A, 19B, 20A, and 20B, has a can end base 203 with an oval tear panel 207 region of a circular, planar top panel 206. As in other presented embodiments, a frangible line 210 delineates a tear panel from the rest of the can end. A rivet 211 or pin secures an elongated actuator 204 to the base. The actuator 204 of the unit pictured in FIGS. 18A and 18B is constructed substantially as a single part comprised of four segments. The four segments are: (a) an actuator base 240, (b) a tab 241, (c) a foot 217, and (d) a foot support 243. As shown in these figures these segments are interconnected by living hinges and are a single stamped part.

The actuator is shown in its initial position in the plan view of FIG. 18B. FIG. 18C shows only the example actuator 204 isolated and separated at its internal hinge points. One part of the actuator, the actuator base 240, is roughly letter “W” shaped. The two lower peaks are flattened. The center, upward, peak is represented by a circular area surrounding a hole 215. When secured to the can end base via that hole, the “W” lies flat against the top panel 206. The open side of the W's center peak faces the center of the tear panel 207. The largest segment of the actuator, the tab 241, is shaped similar to an elongated, upside-down letter “U”. The two symmetric extremities of the upside down U are each, respectively, attached to the two symmetric upper extremities of the actuator base's “W”. That attachment is via living hinges 245a 245b with their openable sides facing downward toward the top panel in the initial state.

The third segment of the actuator, the foot support 243, is also shaped as an upside down letter “U”. This smaller U sets within the larger U of the tab 241, both facing in the same direction. The extremities of the foot support U attach to symmetric locations on the actuator base corresponding to the regions of the two flattened peaks of the “W” shaped actuator base. Those attachments are also via living hinges 246a 246b that are openable in the direction towards the top panel 207. The last segment, the foot 217, is generally rectangular. At one end it is hingeably connected 260 to the inside extremity of the tab's upside-down “U” shape. At the foot's opposite end a hinge point 247 connects it to the outside of the foot support's U-shape. The former hinge opens away from the surface of the top panel while the later hinges open towards that panel. Details of the construction of the actuator can vary in numerous ways including being composed of multiple subcomponents.

Pile Driver—Operation

To open a can end 202 of the pile driver design of FIG. 18A the user initiates a positional translation by lifting the tab's extremity 208 that is proximate to the rim 205. While this is the same initial movement with the same purchase as those associated with current standard units, the similarity stops there. Unlike in standard units, no force is applied to the tear region through the range of this first movement.

As the tab is raised, the hinges 245a 245b between the actuator base 240 and the actuator tab 241 open, allowing the tab end of the actuator to rise from the plane of the top panel 206 with minimal resistance. No structure is yet engaging the tear panel 207. In FIG. 19A the hinge point 247 between the tab and the actuator base is closer to the distal end of the tab than are the foot support's hinge points 246a 246b to that same actuator base. Therefore as the tab rises the distance will shorten between the upper (distal) terminus 248 of the foot-foot support combination and its two lower, more central extremities 246a 246b.

This shortening forces the foot 217 and foot support 243 to swing out of the original plane of the actuator. Due to the directionality of the hinges, the direction of this self-erecting triangle is toward the tear panel 207. As seen in FIG. 19B, this stage of the rotational displacement of the actuator concludes with the foot support 253 stopped by the actuator base and the foot approximately normal to the tear panel. The tab rests over the tear panel at an angle of about 30-degrees to the plane of that panel.

These segments reach this state due to the central portion of the foot support abutting the actuator base 240 and due to the limits on the hinge connecting the tab and the distal end of the foot. As seen in FIG. 19A, the hinge 247 connecting the tab to foot has mutual mating surfaces 250 which are mitered. When the hinge reaches the position at which these mitered surfaces contact each other, the joint angle hits a limit.

As continued force is applied to the actuator's face, a secondary hinging within the foot support 243 occurs. FIGS. 20A and 20B are both views of the can in the just-opened state. FIG. 20A is a cutaway along the line L-L line of FIG. 18B. FIG. 20B is a schematic view of the actuator 204 and tear panel 207. Although the actuator shown is composed of one piece with various segments connected by living hinges, the various portions are shown with distinct hatchings for clarity. The foot support has two portions 252 253 connected by a crease acting as another living hinge 249. With the more central portion of the foot support stopped by the actuator base at a level orientation, the distal portion of the foot support 252 can hinge downward into the opening as the tear panel is ruptured and pushed down. This geometry effectively creates a shorter ‘swing radius’ which now causes greater radial displacement of the tear tab per unit of displacement of the actuator, thereby clearing the tab from the opening. In other words, the variable geometry initially trades off displacement for power, and then vice versa.

Fifth Presented Version—Self-Erecting with Reseal

One example, now described, includes a self-erecting foot and resealability, combining characteristics of some designs described above.

Self-Erecting with Reseal—Structure & Operation

This design uses an actuator 304 that is generally oval. Similar to other presented embodiments, the actuator is connected to a can end base 302 by a rivet or pin 311. The present actuator comprises an actuator base 340, a foot 317, a foot support 343, and an actuator body 341 shown in FIG. 21A. The actuator base, foot support, and foot are each generally rectangular in shape. Hinges connect the foot, foot support and distal edge of the base, respectively end-to-end in that order. Those two connecting hinges are living hinges in this particular example as seen in FIG. 21A. They both open, initially, in the direction of the plane of the top panel. The distal end of the foot is hingeably connected to the actuator body. That hinging connection opens in the direction opposite to that of the top panel.

The actuator body 341 is hingeably attached, at its most central edge, to the actuator base 340 at an edge of the actuator base opposite to the edge to which the foot support 343 is attached. The resulting geometry has similar properties to that of the pile driver detailed above. The actions to lift the actuator and flop it over, thereby erecting a triangular structure, are analogous to those of the pile driver. The ready-to-open state with the foot 317 oriented to facilitate application of normal force to a tear panel 307 is also analogous to that of the pile driver.

Other features differ from the pile driver, but are in common with the resealable version discussed previously herein. The bottom surface of the actuator body 341 is visible in FIG. 21B. It includes a seal lock 333 with wings 334a 334b in an interrupted helical configuration. This structure can seal the opening in an analogous manner to that of the rotate-to-open, resealable design presented above. An arcuate slot 350 first provides a degree of freedom of a pivoting movement about the center of the can end to allow the seal lock to be moved into position above the opening. The slot also provides a degree of rotational movement about the center of the seal lock. This allows a turning action in which the interrupted helix pulls the actuator's bottom surface securely against the top panel.

Sixth Presented Version—Stacked Bumps

Stacked Bump Design—Structure

A stacked bump implementation of a flop-over approach is shown in FIGS. 22A-22C. Similarly to other herein described versions, a base 403 includes top panel 406 region that, in turn, includes a tear panel region 407. The tear panel has a multiplier bump 414 proximate to the can end's center. In this version the “foot” is not a single identifiable structure or subcomponent. Rather it is formed by the combined height of three bumps 450 451 452. When in a ready-to-open configuration they are stacked, one on top of another.

An elongated actuator 404 is composed of four sections and is attached flat to the top panel 406. As shown, those four sections are comprised by a single stamped metal part with living hinges interconnecting the sections. FIG. 23 shows an actuator of this design, for clarity, split into its four sections: (1) an upside down U shaped tab 441, (2) a smaller U shaped base 440, (3) a rectangular central leg portion 443, and (4) a rectangular distal leg portion 417. The tab portion and the two leg portions each, respectively, have a debossed bump 450 451 452. They are arranged co-linearly. The base and tab are connected by living hinges 445a 445b. The central and distal leg portions are connected by a living hinge 447. The distal edge of the distal leg portion is attached to the inside of the tab's U by a living hinge 448. Another living hinge 446 connects the base to the lower part of the central leg portion.

Stacked Bump—Operation

As seen in FIGS. 22A, and 22B, to open, a finger-grip extremity of the actuator 408 is lifted from the surface of the top panel 406. The only resistive force at that point of the operation would be a small one from bending the living hinges 445a 445b between the actuator tab 441 and the actuator base 440. This change in the actuator's configuration shortens the distance available for the leg segments. Due to the living hinge between the legs portions 447 being partially cut from the back side of the actuator, these portions hinge out toward the tear panel 407 as the actuator is raised. FIG. 22C shows a perspective view the can end of this version in a ready-to-open state.

In FIGS. 24A-24C the actuator 404 is seen: in its initial position, 90-degrees up, and ready-to-open, respectively. The three bumps 450 451 452 are located on three distinct portions of the actuator and are seen stacked in FIG. 24C, one upon the other. This occurs when the actuator has completed its translation of about 160-degrees. The bumps stacked, together constitute a foot 449, or foot assembly. That foot is positioned over the multiplier bump 414 of the tear panel 407. The sum of the bumps can transfer a force applied to the actuator tab 441 to the tear panel 407 and open the can.

Those skilled in the art will be aware of materials, techniques and equipment suitable to produce the example embodiments presented as well as variations on the those examples. This teaching is presented for purposes of illustration and description but is not intended to be exhaustive or limiting to the forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. The embodiments and versions help to explain the principles of the invention, the practical application, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand it. Various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated are expected.

In the following claims, the words “a” and “an” should be taken to mean “at least one” in all cases, even if the wording “at least one” appears in one or more claims explicitly. The scope of the invention is set out in the claims below.