US 20010030192 A1
A dispenser package and outlet forming structure include a package wall (20) and a flap (30). Flap (30) is folded over at any desirable location of the package (10) and is adhesively attached to the package wall (20) at any predetermined location. Flap (30) is folded so that the surface of flap (30) that is adhesed to the surface of the package wall (20) is one continuous surface. When a pulling force exerted by a user exceeds the adhesion force between the package wall (20) and the flap (30), the flap (30) will break away from the package wall (20) causing a locus, fault, or score (40) to rupture. The rupturing of the locus, fault, or score (40) also causes the aperture outlet (50) to rupture thereby forming an outlet hole at a predetermined location for allowing the flowable product contents to exit the package (10).
1. A sealed package for containing and dispensing flowable products having a flap which enfolds the locus of an aperture outlet to be created in said package wall which flap is sealingly attached to its own same wall surface and which flap, when raised, automatically develops an outlet hole in a predetermined location of said package wall.
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11. An independent unit comprising a hinged thermoformed plastic member having a cap which hinges over and is sealingly attached to a breakaway tip which may be attached to sealed containers to provide reclosable aperture forming means.
12. A sealed package of
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14. An aperture forming means for a [A] sealed package for containing and dispensing flowable products having flap which enfolds the locus of an aperture outlet to be created in said package wall which flap is sealingly attached to its own same wall surface and which flap, when raised, automatically develops an outlet hole in a predetermined location of said package wall.
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 The invention disclosed broadly relates to dispenser packages and more particularl y relates to easy opening, self-containing, easy to use, single or multiple use dispenser packages.
 Various attempts have been made to provide a dispenser package in which a product may be packaged in the quantity normally required for single or multiple uses, and from which the contained product may be dispensed.
 One type of such dispenser packages is a pillow pouch or sachet, typically made of relatively thin plastics and foils or combinations of laminated plastics and foils. These packages are most frequently encountered as containers for catsup, mustard, other condiments, homecare preparations such as hair conditioners, dyes and cremes, etc. Although this type of package is universally used, it is also universally disliked by the consumer. In order to access the contents, the pouch must be held in one hand while a tearing motion and force are applied by the other hand. Creating the initial tear to break the packages seal is often very difficult, often requiring the assistance of the user's teeth. Moreover, once the initial tear is created, the laminated foil and/or plastic material not only often tears in an uncontrolled fashion, but the holding pressure exerted by one of the user's hands often forces the contents out of the envelope not only before the user is ready to apply the contents, but even before the tearing motion is complete. Opening these packages leads to frayed tempers, broken fingernails, and chipped teeth, as well as other problems. The user must also use both hands to open the container. In the case of invalids, arthritis sufferers and other handicapped people, opening these packages is virtually impossible. Yet another problem associated with these prior packages is the impossibility of efficient reclosure, thereby precluding multiple use of the package, with consequent waste of the unused contents. Further disadvantages include the sachet's inability to function effectively with low viscosity products such as coffee cream, mouthwash or alcoholic beverages, due to the inability of the torn opening to control the direction of flow of such liquids from the package. These packages also are generally totally unrecyclable, and therefore become environmental pollutants. As above-mentioned however, should continued use of these sachets be preferred, then the easy opening feature of this application may be readily and economically adhered to the sachet to make for an easy opening, reclosable, high-barrier package.
 Another dispenser package is the peel-top cup used for butter, margarine, syrup, sauces, salad dressing, and other similar products. This type of package requires good eyesight and manual dexterity. Such packages are often used as coffee creamers and have many disadvantages, including difficulty in peeling off the top in order to open, as well as difficulty in pouring, accidental spilling, and the inability to be reclosed so as to preclude more than a single use. Again the inventions described herein can be adhered or integrally formed into these packages to make them easy opening and reclosable.
 Small, very expensive, metal capped bottles are used for alcoholic drinks and are either poured or consumed directly from the bottle. These bottles may be reclosed, but often are sized for a single drink so they do not have to be reclosed. Version of instant packages can be used for alcoholic beverages at a fraction of the cost of the bottles.
 Everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous gable top milk carton and everyone is familiar with the varying degrees of difficulty in opening them. These range from fingernail breaking to just plain unopenable without a knife or other tool.
 They never truly reclose and at best are messy and unclean looking. In the U.S. there has been a move toward mounting a screw-on cap combination comprising a threaded nozzle member which is sealed onto one of the slanted gables of the carton and the other is an unattached screw-on cap. This little injection molded duo is costly to make and to install, possibly on the order of 3 to 5 cents and is commonly used on large gable top juice containers in the half gallon size. These are expensive, high profit items selling for about three dollars each and can bear the extra tariff for the screw-on outlets. There are however billions of these gable top units sold annually for milk and cream in varying sizes from half-pints to half gallons. Producers however are reluctant to increase carton cost significantly and the public continues to use difficult to open cartons.
 The instant invention makes available a sealed and tamper evident outlet with a hinged cap, in a flap formed in a single, small plastic unit which can be readily sealed or adhesively attached to the gable over a small pre-made hole. It is ultra low cost and may be made of polypropylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC. Polyester etc. utilizing material costing small fractions of a cent. Another disadvantage currently experienced with dispensing packages is the closing of the outlet opening. Closing the outlet opening of tubes is presently accomplished by means of an injection molded screw-on cap, which normally includes a compressible gasketing material. The end of the tube requires a mating thread to match the cap. Both the separately molded gasketed cap and the threaded tube result in increased manufacturing costs. Additionally, the cap, as often as not, is dropped and/or lost while it is being threaded on or off. Furthermore, there has been a growing trend to manufacture such tubes at still greater cost by providing injection molded hinged caps with a flat end surface which permits the tube to stand upright. Thus, the cap members currently in use have the disadvantage that they tend to increase the overall cost of manufacture of the dispensing package. The tubes of this invention without the necessity of assembly inflates molded parts cost ⅓ that of the above mentioned tubes
 This invention relates to easy opening, self-contained, easy to use, single or multiple use dispenser packages capable of economical, high-speed production, manufactured from a broad range of materials, many of which are recyclable. They may contain such products as syrups, cream, cheeses, salad dressings, shampoo, hand-cream, liquid detergents, motor oil, toothpaste pates, pet food and many other products. It additionally relates to a package which has the capability of dispensing the contained product, e.g., mouthwash, cough syrup, confections, alcoholic beverages, etc., directly into the mouth of the user, and which also includes a new and unique way of accomplishing the creation of an outlet hole or aperture in a sealed dispenser package wall made of plastic film or other material capable of accepting the system. It will also be seen that the easy opening feature and creation of the outlet hole or aperture may be formed independently and sealed or adhered to the surface of many packages such as bags, milk containers, pouches, pillow packages (sachets), etc. to make for very efficient low cost dispensing packages or squeeze bags. These squeeze bag type packages could dispense food pastes such as pet food, cremes, grease, yogurt, certain types of dough, cake frosting and could be made of everything from treated, coated paperboard plastic films, foils, laminates or coextrusions of these materials. The easy opening means of this application in its preferred embodiment is comprised of a [In each case of this disclosure a] sheet or wall of material or laminates or other combinations of materials including plastics, foil, paper etc. is folded over to create a flap which enfolds the locus of the aperture to be created in said package wall and is sealingly attached or adhered to its own same wall surface, it being understood that the two inside walls of a flap are of the same surface. The flap when unfolded automatically produces an outlet hole either in the flap portion of the package wall or the portion of the package wall beneath the flap when folded over.
 In a reclosable version of this new system I will first refer to my earlier US patent filings, including Provisional Application No. 60/166,504, filed Nov. 19, 1999, herein incorporated by reference, and non-provisional application Ser. No. 08/788,713, filed Jan. 23, 1997, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,413, issued May 16, 2000, [for] entitled Reclosable Dispenser Package, Reclosable Outlet Forming Structure and Method and Apparatus For Making Same, herein incorporated by reference, wherein [I claimed] is disclosed an aperture forming means comprised of a breakaway tip formation formed on the top surface of a lower drum shaped protrusion integral with a hinged flap embodying a cap member which, when hinged over, seated itself around the lower drum shaped protrusion and over the breakaway tip or the aperture created after the tip had been “broken away”. This entire system, made of thermo-formed plastic, was either integrally formed into the wall of a container or sealingly attached to a container over a hole in said container wall. In use, the cap is hinged up and away from the lower formation it encloses revealing the breakaway tip which may be next broken off by sidewise finger pressure to create an aperture. The loose tip of course, must then be disposed of.
 One preferred embodiment includes an improved similar structure generally made of thermoformed plastic but not excluding plastic or laminates formed by other means or other formed materials. This improved unit does not require the breakaway tip be broken away manually or disposed of but instead embodies a system wherein the breakaway tip, preferably reduced in height, has its uppermost surface sealingly attached to the upper inner surface of the cap member. It may then be seen that the breakaway tip is automatically broken away from the lower formation at the fault line intersection of the tip and the upper surface of the lower formation when the cap is hinged up and away from its seat about said lower formation. It may further be seen that the breakaway tip remains sealed to the inside of the hinged cap and requires no disposal which hinged cap may be used normally to recap or open the aperture for dispensing or pouring out the contained product. It will of course be recognized that in most single use packages particularly small ketchup style pouches there is no need for reclosability and therefore the cap member is not necessary and the surface that is attached to the tip will simply be the unformed surface of the film extending above the locus of the aperture before the flap is folded over. Should cases arise where a cap is necessary it can readily incorporated in the package.
 In another preferred embodiment the breakaway tip should require a firm pull to break it away with an audible sound or snap to insure the user that it was not previously tampered with. Break resistance is fully adjustable during manufacture. It can also be seen that the unit may be made of clear plastic so that the tip may be seen before it has been broken away to show any evidence of tampering.
 To further insure tamper evidence, even though there will be a snap, at least one additional tacking point may be made between the flap containing the cap and the flat plastic around the lower breakaway tip protrusion to create a tamper evidence. These points can be highlighted by making a partial circular cut or a complete score about it with a tiny uncut tab portion. Thus if the flap is even raised partially it will tear out the sealed tiny tab and leave a hole in the flap.
 In further preferred embodiment the breakaway tip formed in the upper surface of the lower drum shaped formation is replaced with a preformed outlet hole at the center of the surface drum surrounded by a generally flat rim to which is applied a peelable adhesive preferably heat sealable although cold seal or pressure sensitive or other variety may be used or preferred in certain circumstances. The hinged cap member formerly sealed to the breakaway tip may also be peelably adhered to the rim surrounding the outlet hole to effectively seal off the outlet. When the hinged cap is pulled up, it peels away from the drum formation by rupturing the adhesive and effectively opens the outlet hole. This entire system, made of thermo-formed plastic, can be either integrally formed into the wall of the container such as a tube or sealingly attached to a container over a hole in said container wall as in a gable top carton. It may also be seen that the inner surface of the cap, which covers the lower drum, may have said adhesive applied to it rather than the rims around the hole. It may be desirable to have said adhesive applied to the flat upper rim surface of the drum as well as the inner mating surface of the cap. It may be seen that if the adhesive was applied to the walls of the drum it would be very difficult to rupture by hand. It must be realized that since there is no longer a tip protrusion, the inner surface of the cap should be so dimensioned as to bring the adhesive into contact with the upper surface of the drum.
 As above mentioned, in single use packages such as pouches for the containment of condiments such as ketchup and many other products a cap for reclosure isn't necessary. In this type of pouch it is usual to have an aluminum foil plastic laminate as the base material. This is a relatively costly material. The use of foil is generally considered necessary because foil is a high barrier material for oxygen, water vapor, and light (ultra violet) but, most importantly, it tears relatively easily whereas an all plastic pouch while significantly less costly is very difficult to open. The instant invention allows for all plastic pouches to be instantly and easily opened and at significantly lower material costs even with high barrier co extruded films on the order of 60% lower costs. In one version of the pouch a breakaway tip member of thermoformed plastic is made integral with the pouch or similar style package and is made part of a flap member which in its preferred embodiment if folded over after pouch has been filled with product and sealed and the upper surface of the breakaway tip is then sealed to its same surface which opposes it when the flap is folded over.
 The reason the breakaway tip is located on the flap is that when the flap is opened the aperture is located at the comer of the pouch. It however may also be located on the wall of the pouch beneath the flap with the outlet aperture located somewhat lower down. In both instances the raising of the flap, breaks out the tip and creates an outlet aperture.
 In still another embodiment of the easy opening pouch or other similar shape or form of packaging, one wall of the sealed, product-containing pouch has an outlet hole in it at the upper comer just inside the comer edge seals of the pouch. This portion of the pouch is then folded over to create a flap and the area surrounding the hole is peelably sealed and attached to the opposing portion of the same surface it faces by means of suitable pre-applied adhesive means of types similar to those used in peel top cups etc. Since the hole is sealed about its periphery to the surface of the pouch wall it opposes it is effectively no longer an outlet. The pouch however may be instantly opened by raising the flap which peels away from the outlet hole permitting the product to be dispensed.
 The viscosity of products put in these pouches may vary greatly for example cheese spreads etc. have a relatively high viscosity and normally have to be squeezed out of the pouch whereas products like alcoholic beverages soy sauce have very low viscosity and might spill or squirt out uncontrollably. This may be somewhat controlled by reducing the size of the outlet hole or holes but there is another means which has the remarkable ability to valve the rate of flow to where there will actually be no flow even after the flap is lifted and the outlet aperture open and exposed. That is accomplished by creating a narrowed channel for the product to flow through to get to the outlet hole. This is done by making at least one seal running from an edge seal towards the end seal which creates the comer but stopping it a measured distance of say ⅛ an inch short of meeting the end seal. This creates a flow channel ⅛″ wide through, which the low viscosity liquid has to flow. Various fluids and pouch materials will require varied channel widths. It will be seen that two seals, one coming from the top seal down and the other coming from the side seal towards the one coming from the side seal with a gap between them make for a more symmetrical system. These seals are very easy to make since they can be embodied in the edge sealing dies for the pouch. It was unexpectedly discovered that when the product channel is narrowed down, at some point the films will not permit the product to flow out without applying some pressure to the pouch. This is effectively a valving system which prevents dripping or spilling until the pouch is squeezed.
 In a further embodiment, instead of creating an actual hole, fault line score patterns which allow for parts of the wall to be torn out by sealing the flap to them may be made to function. Such fault line scores may be created by laser cuts and may be made in increments of less than a thousandth of an inch deep in thin films. It should be realized that these packages are all at least as tamper evident as peel top cups and coffee creamers and in fact with certain combinations of cold seal adhesives, where the seal material about the hole mates with another seal material in a matching position on the wall to which it is to be sealed, the two combine to create adhesion. When opened however one of the sealants is stripped from the surface its on and the flap cannot be resealed even with applied heat.
 In view of the fact that this application deals with dispensing packages sometimes referred to as pouches or sachets which are the well known rectangular packets usually with four fin sealed edges for the containment of ketchup, condiments and many other products I will occasionally mention tubes and tubelike packages. Actually these tubes, unlike the standard toothpaste tubes which have injection molded ‘shoulders’ and screw on caps which may have hinged opening features and an outlet at the end of the tube the tubes I mention have no injection molded parts and in fact really are single longitudinal seams pouches with fin seals at each end. The main difference, really not relevant in this application is that the tubelike members are generally of thicker material and in some instances have the end fin seals at 90° to each other creating a tetrahedral package disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,413 and the outlet is in the wall. They may be made of a single sheet (sometimes reinforced in some areas) but pouches are also sometimes made of single sheets of film with a fin seal at both ends and a single longitudinal seal. Therefore the use of the words tubes, sachets, pouches etc. may be used interchangeability in the specifications and claims on occasion. The use of any one should not restrict it from applying to all forms types of packages abovementioned.
 It will be understood that the foregoing preferred embodiments of the packages of the present invention may be thermoformed from a wide variety of plastic materials, including, e.g., PP (polypropylene) Barex, HDPE (high density polyethylene), HIPS (high impact polystyrene) and foamed HIPS, as well as various laminations and/or coextrusions of the aforesaid materials and other plastic materials, including, e.g., PP/EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol)/PP; Barex/PP; Barex/EVOH/PP; PET (polyethylene tetrafluoride)/LLDPE (linear low density polyethylene); PET/EVOH/LLDPE; PVC (polyvinylchloride)/LLDPE; NY (nylon)/LLDPE; and NY/EVOH/LLDPE. Alternatively, the aperture forming means and the dispenser packages of the present invention may be formed by injection molding.
 It also will be understood that the foregoing preferred embodiments of the dispenser packages of the present invention may be manufactured in a wide variety of sizes, as desired, although the preferred size range is from about 2 ml capacity to about 4 fluid ounce capacity. Similarly, the aforesaid package may be manufactured in a wide range of dimensions. Furthermore, the independent formations of aperture forming means and the tethered caps may be applied to a very wide range of packaged from single use sizes to half gallons.
 It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the foregoing various brief descriptions and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory of the present invention, but are not intended to be restrictive thereof or limiting of the advantages which can be achieved by the invention or various combinations thereof. The accompanying drawings, referred to herein and constituting in part hereof, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and, together with the detailed description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
FIG. 1A is a front view of a first embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 1B is an expanded view of a first attachment feature of the present invention.
FIG. 2A is a front view of the first embodiment with the flap in a folded configuration.
FIG. 2B is an expanded side view of a portion of FIG. 2A.
FIG. 3 is a side view of FIG. 2A.
FIG. 4 is an expanded view of a second embodiment in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 5 depicts the removal of an attachment feature for the embodiment shown in FIG. 4.
 FIGS. 6A-6C depict a third embodiment of the present invention.
 FIGS. 7A-7D depict a fourth embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 8A and 8B are respectively front and side views of a pouch container prior to flap folding.
FIG. 8C depicts an alternative position for the aperture outlet of the present invention.
FIGS. 9A and 9A are respectively front and side views of a pouch container subsequent to flap folding.
FIGS. 10A and 10B respectively show alternative bend line configurations.
FIGS. 11A and 11B respectively show front and side views of a fifth embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 12 depicts the use of the fourth embodiment with a milk/juice/beverage container.
 FIGS. 13A-13D depict a sixth embodiment according to the present invention.
FIGS. 14A and 14B depict a seventh embodiment according to the present invention.
FIGS. 15A and 15B depict an eighth embodiment in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 17 depicts a ninth embodiment in accordance with the present invention.
 FIGS. 18A-18C depicts a tenth embodiment in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 19 depicts an eleventh embodiment in accordance with the present invention.
 Referring now more particularly to the various figures of the accompanying drawings where common reference numbers identify common elements, there is illustrated a sealed package 10 for containing and dispensing flowable products contained therein according to the present invention. Package 10 is generally used as a single use container, but could be used as a multiple use container. As shown throughout the figures, package 10 includes a package wall 20 and a flap 30. Flap 30 is preferably folded over at any desirable location of the package 10 and is adhesively attached to the package wall 20 at any predetermined location. Flap 30, when adhesed to the package wall 20, enfolds a locus, fault, or score 40 of an aperture outlet 50, best shown in FIGS. 1B and 4. The flap 30 is folded so that the surface of the flap that is adhesed to the surface of the package wall 20 is one continuous surface. The locus, fault, or score 40 of the aperature outlet 50 is disposed in either the package wall 10 or the flap 30. Regardless of whether the locus, fault, or score 40 and the aperture outlet 50, are disposed in the package wall 10 or the flap 30, the aperture outlet 50 is, nonetheless, formed, in the same manner, when a user grasps the flap 30 and pulls it (flap 30) away from the package wall 10. When the pulling force exerted by the user exceeds the adhesion force between the package wall 20 and the flap 30, the flap 30 will break away from the package wall 20 causing the locus, fault, or score 40 to rupture the aperature outlet 50 forming an outlet hole at a predetermined location for allowing the flowable product contents to exit the package. At the time the adhesive loses it's holding force, the user will detect an audible snapping sound confirming the opening of the sealed package 10 at the aperture outlet 50.
 As is shown throughout FIGS. 1A-6C, 8A-11, 13A-17, and 19, the sealed package 10 may be formed, for example, as a pouch or a tube. It is should be understood, however, that the sealed package 10 may be formed as any type or shape conducive to carrying out the spirit of the various disclosed embodiments.
 As discussed earlier, the flap 30 is attached to the package wall 20 with an adhesive at a predetermined location. FIGS. 6A-6C show, for example, the package 10 is formed with a breakaway tip. In this embodiment, the package 10 does not require the breakaway tip 60 to be broken away manually or disposed of, but instead embodies a system wherein the breakaway tip 60, preferably having a low height profile, is sealingly attached to an upper inner surface of a cap member 70. Here, the breakaway tip 60 is automatically broken away from a fault line intersection disposed between the breakaway tip 60 and an upper surface of the lower formation when the cap is hinged up and away from its seat about said lower formation. The breakaway tip 60 remains sealed to the inside of the hinged cap 70 requiring no immediate disposal thereof and the hinged cap 70 may be used to later close and re-open the aperture outlet 50 for dispensing or pouring out the contained product. Additionally, the breakaway tip 60 preferably requires the application of a firm pulling force from a user to break it away with an audible snapping sound to audibly insure the user that the package 20 had not previously been tampered with. It should be understood that the force needed to overcome the resistance of the adhesive to break the seal and form the outlet hole is fully adjustable during manufacture. The package 10 may be made of clear plastic to for allowing a user to easily view and inspect the package 10 and breakaway tip for any evidence of tampering before use. To enhance the tamper evidence features, as shown in FIGS. 18A-18C, the flap 30 may be adhesed to the package wall 20 one or more additional tacking points 80. These additional tacking points 80 may be made at any location between the flap 30 containing the cap and the flat plastic around the lower breakaway tip protrusion. Furthermore, these additional tacking points 80 may also be highlighted by making a partial circular cut to completed score 90 about it with a tiny uncut tab portion. Thus, if the flap 30 is partially raised prior to use, the applied force will tear out the sealed tiny tab and leave a hole in the flap 30.
 In further embodiment, the flap 30 may contain a hole and the surface of the package wall 20 is provided with a peelable adhesive means located so as to peelably seal the flap 30 into proper position when folded over and attached to the package wall 20. This will also create a peelable seal encircling the aperture outlet when the aperture outlet is disposed on the flap 30. Alternatively, the package wall 20 may contain a hole and the surface of the flap 30 is provided with a peelable adhesive means so as to creating a peelable seal encircling the aperture outlet when the aperture outlet is disposed in the package wall 20.
 In a further embodiment, the surface of the flap 30 is configured to include a score at least partially encompassing an area proximate the flap 30 when the flap 30 is folded over and sealed to the surface of the package wall 20. In this arrangement, when flap 30 is pulled by the user, the at least partially encompassed area within the score will be lifted up at least partially away from the surface of the package wall 20 forming or leaving an outlet hole.
 In still further embodiment, the sealed package 10 includes at least one flat surface containing a hole to which a thermoformed hinged member may be sealingly attached which member has a cap formed in its flap which seats over and is sealed to a breakaway tip which is located directly over said hole in said flat surface. Additionally, the flap 30 may be seated over and peelably sealed to a protrusion having a hole located directly over said hole in the flat surface. In this configuration, the peelable seal encircles the outlet hole.
 The foregoing specific objects and advantages of the invention are illustrative of those which can be achieved by the present invention and are not intended to be exhaustive or limiting of the possible advantages which may be realized. Thus, these and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description herein or can be learned from practicing the invention, both as embodied herein or as modified in view of any variations which may be apparent to these of ordinary skill in the art, the same being realized and attained by means of the parts, constructions and instrumentations, and combinations thereof, as well as in the steps and processes pointed out in the appended claims. The present invention resides in the novel parts, constructions, arrangements, combinations, steps and processes, and improvements, herein shown and described.