TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to molded containers for liquids, gels, or similar materials, and more particularly, to a collapsible dispensing dome.
It is well known in the art to have a dispensing container such as a squeezable bottle that possesses a self-sealing valve at one end which allows for the contents of the dispensing container to be released when pressure is applied to the container. A variety of different inventions relate to self-sealing valve systems. Such examples of these types of inventions are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,213,236 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,293,437 B1 to Socier et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,427,874 B2 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,279,783 B1 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,439,143 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,377,877 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,339,995 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 2,758,755 to Schafler; U.S. Pat. No. 6,371,340, B1 to Pateman et al.; U.S. Application Serial No. 2002/0158083 A1 to Brown et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,367,668 B1 to Schwanenberg; U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,305 B1 to Fioravanti et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,296 B1 to Brown; U.S. Pat. No. 6,230,940 B1 to Manning et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,213,355 B1 to Schwanenberg; U.S. Pat. No. 6,112,951 to Mueller; U.S. Pat. No. 6,095,381 to Schwanenberg; U.S. Pat. No. 6,089,418 to Gaiser et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,566 to Mueller; U.S. Pat. No. 5,839,614 to Brown; U.S. Pat. No. 5,743,443 to Hins; U.S. Pat. No. 5,531,363 to Gross et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,033,655 to Brown; U.S. Pat. No. 4,728,006 to Drobish et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 1,607,993 to Loewy; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,405,901 B1 to Schantz et al. Most of these inventions increase the consistency of flow or deal generally with improvements to the self-sealing valve itself. These inventions range from simple slit type openings to complex valves employing the use of many different parts to accomplish the self-sealing action.
The contents of the container are generally pushed through the valve by some type of force. In most cases, this force is created by the user applying pressure to the sides of the container. This pressure forces the contents of the container to travel to areas of least resistance. As such, the contents are forced out of the container through an opening located somewhere in the container body. The container body opening generally contains a type of valve to regulate the flow of product from the container. This valve is normally closed and can withstand the weight of the product so that the product will not leak out of the container unless squeezed by the user. When the container is squeezed, however, and the interior is subject to sufficient increased pressure, the valve opens and the contents of the container begin to empty. Once the pressure differential across the valve decreases to a predetermined amount, the valve will close preventing the further release of the product. This simple dispensing technology is employed in this invention as well.
A popular feature exhibited by many dispensing containers is the ability to stand the container upright such that the dispensing valve is located at the bottom of the container. In such a configuration, the user does not have to expend time and energy to shake the container to force the contents to travel within the bottle to the area where the valve is located. This is especially bothersome when the contents of the container are significantly less than half full. With the valve at the bottom of the container, gravity naturally pulls the contents of the container to a position such that it is ready to be released through the valve opening as soon as the user applies sufficient force to the sides of the container.
In many of the valve systems, in order to allow the container to sit flat in an upright position with the valve located at the bottom of the container, the valve must be recessed into the container. When this is done, the areas of the container body adjacent to the valve system are generally lower than the recessed valve opening. As such, the contents, while traveling down the sides of the container, collect in these dead areas preventing complete emptying of the contents of the container. Obviously a consumer becomes dissatisfied when a portion of the container's contents cannot be accessed because it becomes trapped within the container.
Some containers attempt to solve this problem by utilizing a platform or base at the bottom of the container. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,213,236 to Brown et al. This platform houses the valve but otherwise is left hollow. None of the contents in the container are allowed access to the platform. Therefore no dead spaces are created because no portion of the storage container is located below the valve opening. With such a configuration, the valve is recessed within the entire structure therefore allowing the container to sit in a flat upright position and none of the contents become trapped in the dead areas created by a recessed valve system. However, this type of platform design creates added manufacturing costs and assembly time. Money must be expended to manufacture the platform piece and assembly workers must take extra time to connect the platform to the storage container. Furthermore, the platform merely provides structural rigidity to the base of the container. It cannot be used for storing any of the contents of the container without creating dead spaces.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
There is a need in the art for a bottom dispensing container that can sit in an upright position, that employs the use of a valve system, and that allows for complete discharge of the contents of the container without the need of a base or platform.
The invention disclosed herein is a dispensing container possessing an integrally molded collapsible blow dome. Such blow dome consists of a rolling sleeve that moves between two positions—one recessed position located within the container body and one extended position that protrudes out from the container base. The container body is molded such that there is at least one opening through which the contents of the container may be emptied. Surrounding the opening is a flexible rolling sleeve that is integrally molded with the container body. This sleeve is generally located in a recessed position within the storage area of the container body. The sleeve is flexible in nature and therefore when pressure is exerted upon it, the sleeve may extend to a position such that it extrudes from the base of the container. When in its extended position, the sleeve creates a generally uninterrupted funnel allowing otherwise inaccessible product within the container access to the opening. The sleeve contains a neck which is fitted with a dispensing cap. The dispensing cap is self-sealing in nature and merely contains several slits through which the contents of the container may exit. With this invention, it is unnecessary to employ the use of a complex valve system. Rather, the dispensing cap merely needs to prevent the release of the contents absent pressure on the container. However, even though not necessary, this invention may also be used in connection with the complex, multi-part valve systems mentioned herein.
The advantage of this invention is that complete excretion of the contents of the container may be obtained because of the flexible sleeve. As such, the consumer is able to use all of the product for which he/she has purchased and does not become frustrated that a portion of the product has become trapped in dead spaces created by the valve system.
In order to gain complete access to the product contained within this invention, the user merely exerts pressure on the sides of the container. The pressure is transferred to the product located within the container. The product travels to the areas within the container of least resistance. As such, the product pushes open the valve and exits the container. As the customer uses the product, the volume of product within the container decreases. Once the customer has used a majority of the product, the rolling sleeve located around the container opening may be extended from its recessed position to its extended position. The extended position removes all dead spaces that may have been created because of the recessed nature of the opening. When in its extended position, the product may travel down the interior of the container and get excreted without becoming trapped within the packaging. The extendible rolling sleeve solves the problem of the dead space created by the complex valve systems and does so in a manner that does not create the problems of added manufacturing costs and wasted space associated with the use of a base or platform.
Another advantage of this invention includes the decreased production costs associated with the manufacturing of the overall container. The container is manufactured such that the flexible sleeve is integrally molded with the container body. As such, the costs and assembly time associated with assembling a complex valve, attaching that valve, and possibly manufacturing and attaching a base have been eliminated.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, illustrate the embodiments of the present invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a side view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome.
FIG. 3 is a rear view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome.
FIG. 4 is a front view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome.
FIG. 5 is a bottom view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 6 is a partial cut away view of a container incorporating a collapsible blow dome.
Referring to the accompanying drawings in which like reference numbers indicate like elements, FIGS. 1-6 are varying views of the components of the present invention. As seen in these Figs., the container body 10 in this embodiment is shaped in a wedge type fashion with the larger portion of the body 10 located at the bottom of the container. The shape of the container body 10 is not limited to this configuration. Rather it may take any shape so long as there is an opening 20 through which its contents may exit. The container body 10 is generally made of a molded material such as a resin or plastic so that a user may provide the appropriate force to discharge the product contained within the container body 10 merely by squeezing the sidewalls 22 in a lateral fashion. Preferably the sidewalls 22 have sufficient resilience or stiffness that they automatically return to their original shape upon release of any external force applied by the user.
Surrounding the opening 20 is a flexible rolling sleeve 16. The rolling sleeve 16 is integrally molded with the container body 10 at the opening 20 and runs along the entire circumference of the opening 20. The shape of the rolling sleeve 16 can be described as a rounded half sphere with an opening at the pole of the half sphere defined by a neck feature 24. The rolling sleeve 16 is generally concave in nature when in its recessed position. The neck 24 of the rolling sleeve 16 is adaptable for connection with a dispensing cap 18.
The rolling sleeve 16 is generally located at a recessed position within the container body 10 such that the neck 24 does not extend out from the bottom of the container body 10. In this position, the container body 10 possesses a flat bottom surface so that it may stand upright on that surface. However, in this position, dead spaces 26 are created within the container body 10. As seen in these drawings, the dead spaces 26 are located adjacent to the rolling sleeve 16 and are at elevations that are lower than the opening 20. When the rolling sleeve 16 is in its recessed position, the product that gathers in the dead spaces 26 becomes trapped and is not able to exit the opening 20.
The rolling sleeve 16 may be moved from the recessed position to an extended position such that the neck 20 protrudes from the bottom surface of the container body 10. In this position, the rolling sleeve 16 forms a generally uninterrupted funnel leading towards the neck 24. Any product that may have been trapped in the dead space 26 created when the sleeve 16 was in the recessed position now has a direct path to the opening 20 and may be excreted from the container body 10 through the dispensing cap 18. In order to change the rolling sleeve 16 from its recessed position to its extended position, the user may pull down on the neck 24 of the rolling sleeve 16 or apply sufficient pressure to the walls of the container body such that the interior force created by the squeezing forces the sleeve into its extended position. Either approach creates force that causes the rolling sleeve 16 to extend rollingly from the recessed position to the extended position. In order to move from the extended position to the recessed position, the user must merely push up on the neck 24 of the rolling sleeve 16. This upward pushing forces the rolling sleeve 16 to roll back into the area within the container body 10.
The neck 24 of the rolling sleeve 16 is connected to the dispensing cap 18. The dispensing cap 18 in this embodiment has a cross-slit construction which includes two intersecting slits 12 and 14 that extend through the opposite sides of the center portion 28. The slits 12 and 14 define four flaps which flex inwardly or outwardly to selectively permit the flow of product through the dispensing cap 18. The slits 12 and 14 are preferably formed by slicing through the center portion 28 without removing any substantial amount of material therefrom so that a close seal may be formed once the pressure decreases to a point that the product is no longer being forced out of the container body 10. While the dispensing cap 18 of the preferred embodiment takes the form of cross-slit construction, the dispensing cap 18 may take a variety of different sizes and shapes depending upon the desired flow from the container body 10 and the density and/or contents of the product. For example, the dispensing cap 18 may contain one small slit for smaller, narrower streams of product or it may contain several slits for larger, wider streams. Furthermore, the dispensing cap 18 may also employ the use of the complex, multi-part valve systems as referenced previously herein.
In view of the foregoing, it will be seen that the several advantages of the invention are achieved and attained.
The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.
As various modifications could be made in the constructions and methods herein described and illustrated without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative rather than limiting. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims appended hereto and their equivalents.