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Publication numberUS20030047466 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/948,817
Publication dateMar 13, 2003
Filing dateSep 10, 2001
Priority dateSep 10, 2001
Also published asWO2003022696A1
Publication number09948817, 948817, US 2003/0047466 A1, US 2003/047466 A1, US 20030047466 A1, US 20030047466A1, US 2003047466 A1, US 2003047466A1, US-A1-20030047466, US-A1-2003047466, US2003/0047466A1, US2003/047466A1, US20030047466 A1, US20030047466A1, US2003047466 A1, US2003047466A1
InventorsAlan Matthews
Original AssigneeMatthews Alan B.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Unit-dose packaging system
US 20030047466 A1
Abstract
A device for storing and mixing materials including gases, liquids, solids, and semi-solids is disclosed. In one embodiment, the device includes an outer shell and a plurality of cartridges. The outer shell is preferably cylindrical, however, it may be any of a variety of shapes including box shaped. The outer shell has an opened interior space, used for storing mixable materials. The cartridges are preferably separately sealed vesicles encasing the mixable material within frangible membranes at both ends of the vesicle as well as separately encased mixable materials contained within the holder's inner surface and may include a capping membrane. Cartridges may be separated by a stop member which serves to create multiple mixing and storage areas for the cartridges. A plurality of such devices may be mounted on a perforated sheet for convenient storage and removal or distribution. Alternatively, the device may include a variety of cartridges detachably engaged to one another in a linear fashion, preferably with a reinforcing wall protecting each cartridge and the contents therein. Alternatively, the device may include one or more gaskets each with a frangible membrane to separate different mixable materials. The devices are preferably disposable and include premeasured amounts of mixable materials. The device may also include a mixing instrument such as a brush or spatula.
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Claims(29)
I claim:
1. A device for storing a mixable material comprising:
an elongated outer shell; and
a plurality of cartridges installed within the outer shell, each cartridge useful for encasing mixable materials.
2. The device of claim 1, further comprising a stop member affixed to the outer shell.
3. The device of claim 1 wherein a plurality of outer shells are affixed to a mounting sheet.
4. The device of claim 3, wherein the mounting sheet is perforated so as to facilitate removal of the outer shells individually.
5. The device of claim 1, wherein the one or more cartridges includes a first cartridge and a second cartridge and said first cartridge is affixed at one end of the outer shell, and said second cartridge is affixed adjacent to said first cartridge.
6. The device of claim 5, wherein each of the cartridges comprises a mixable material encased within a frangible membrane.
7. The device of claim 5, wherein each of the cartridges comprises a mixable material loaded into the outer shell between a plurality of frangible membranes.
8. The device of claim 5, further comprising a third cartridge affixed adjacent to the second cartridge, opposite said first cartridge, and separated from the second cartridge by a frangible membrane.
9. The device of claim 1, wherein the outer shell is constructed of a relatively opaque material.
10. The device of claim 1, wherein the outer shell further comprises an interior lining.
11. The device of claim 10, wherein the interior lining is constructed from a relatively impermeable material.
12. A device for storing a mixable material comprising:
an elongated outer shell;
an inner sleeve attached within the outer shell;
a bottom seal attached to one end of the outer shell;
a first mixture component loaded within the inner sleeve, and adjacent to the bottom seal;
a first frangible membrane attached across the inner sleeve and adjacent to the first mixture component to seal the first mixture component;
a second mixture component loaded within the inner sleeve, and adjacent to the first frangible membrane; and
a second frangible membrane attached across the inner sleeve and adjacent to the second mixture component to seal the second mixture component.
13. The device of claim 12 further comprising:
a third mixture component loaded within the inner sleeve, and adjacent to the second frangible membrane; and
a third frangible membrane attached across the inner sleeve and adjacent to the third mixture component to seal the third mixture component.
14. A device for storing flowable materials comprising:
an outer shell having an interior space; and
a plurality of cartridge assemblies contained within the outer shell, each cartridge assembly selected from the group consisting of:
a mixture component sandwiched between two frangible membranes, and
a mixture component encased within a frangible membrane.
15 The device of claim 14 further comprising:
a stop member affixed to the outer shell to help preserve the integrity of the cartridge assemblies.
16. A device for storing flowable materials comprising:
a plurality of cartridge assemblies each having one or more frangible membranes defining an interior space and one or more engagement members for removably attaching the cartridge assembly to one or more other cartridge assemblies.
17. The device of claim 16 further comprising:
a reinforcement wall laterally protecting each cartridge assembly.
18. The device of claim 16 wherein one or more cartridge assemblies are manufactured by extrusion.
19. A method for storing a plurality of mixable materials comprising the steps of:
sealing multiple mixable materials separately within frangible membranes to form cartridges; and
placing the cartridges within an outer shell.
20. A method for mixing a plurality of materials comprising the steps of: piercing a plurality of frangible membranes which are encasing mixable materials and are mounted within an outer shell so as to allow the mixable materials to combine with one another with an instrument such as a brush or spatula; and agitating the mixable materials with an instrument such as a brush or spatula to cause them to blend together.
21. A device for storing a mixable material comprising:
an outer shell and;
one or more gaskets shaped to fit within the outer shell, each gasket comprising a holding member with a hollow area defined by an interior edge and a frangible membrane affixed to the interior edge and across the hollow area.
22. The device of claim 21, further comprising one or more mixable materials held within the outer shell by the one or more gaskets.
23. The device of claim 21 further comprising a fixed bottom portion.
24. The device of claim 21, further comprises a conformable device attached to the periphery of the gasket.
25. The device of claim 21, wherein the holding member has a shaped interior side.
26. A device of claim 15 further comprising:
a plurality of additional outer shells affixed to the stop member.
27. A gasket to separate materials within an outer shell comprising:
a holding member of a predetermined size and shape constructed to fit within the outer shell having an interior edge defining an opening; and
a frangible membrane attached to the holding member across the opening.
28. The gasket of claim 27 further comprising:
a conformable device to aid in effecting a seal between the holding member and the inner surace of the outer shell wherein the conformable device is attached to the periphery of the holding member.
29. The gasket of claim 27 wherein the holding member has a beveled side shaped so as to slope towards the frangible membrane.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention generally relates to receptacle type devices. More particularly, the invention relates to devices which serve as containers.

BACKGROUND

[0002] There are many different instances where two or more materials are measured out and mixed immediately prior to use, typically because the usefulness of the mixture deteriorates with time and must be used soon after the components are mixed together. This usually involves measuring different portions of the various ingredients and then combining them in a common container for application. The difficulty of accurately measuring these materials, and then mixing them in such a manner to ensure that they remain contaminant-free is often a cause for improper mixtures that are either not properly proportioned, not properly and thoroughly mixed, or that are contaminated during mixing. Further, the measuring of such materials often involves some waste of materials, since once opened and exposed, even if only briefly, the shelf-life of the materials is significantly compromised. Proper measuring may also be time-intensive and slow down the process of applying the mixture to its intended use.

[0003] Commercially available packaging materials for mixable substances include a flexible laminate foil formed into cells and attached to some mounting or backing material. These packages are designed so that a user presses on one or more cells and forces the materials together into a separate mixing area. This system provides for mixing of only two components and relies upon the user's ability to force the various portions together in order to achieve proper mixing. Thus, mixing is achieved by manipulating the cells, and the result is often inadequate mixing. This system also does not provide adequate protection for the cells and they may be inadvertently pierced or ruptured, thereby destroying the integrity of the system. A need exists for a system that provides a degree of protection for the mixable substances and enables complete mixing of the substances to form a relatively homogenous mixture.

SUMMARY

[0004] The present invention relates to a device for storing and, in some embodiments, dispensing, mixable materials. For purposes of this disclosure, mixable materials include any flowable material including fluids, liquids, gases, and semisolid materials, however, the device is not confined to flowable materials, since solids may be used. This is particularly true when the solids and/or semisolids are combined with sufficient flowable materials to give the entire mixture fluid or fluid-like properties.

[0005] Certain embodiments of the presently described invention provide a greatly improved device for physically agitating the various ingredients together to achieve a higher level of mixing and a more homogeneous solution. In some embodiments, the presently described invention may also allow for mixing more than two components and may include the mixing of solids and semi-solids. In certain embodiments of the present invention, the materials are pre-measured in unit-dose quantities, for quick and easy mixing and dispensing and assurance of a properly proportioned mixture.

[0006] In one embodiment, the device includes an outer shell and one or more cartridges. The outer shell is preferably elongated with one or more cartridges installed longitudinally within the outer shell. Each of the cartridges is useful for encasing mixable materials. Preferably, each of the cartridges is separated from the other cartridges by a frangible membrane. In certain embodiments, the device includes a stop member. The stop member may be used to preserve the integrity of the cartridges within the outer shell. In another embodiment, the stop member may be used to separate the cartridges within the outer shell so as to create multiple mixing or storage areas within a single outer shell.

[0007] The concept of frangible cartridges provides for degree of flexibility in a premeasured disposable package that is heretofore unseen. Certain embodiments of the present invention are particularly useful where small portions of ingredients are to be mixed together. The devices disclosed herein are not, however, limited to small portions, as the devices allow for the instant preparation and mixing of virtually any proportions using a plurality of different ingredients.

[0008] The outer shell may be constructed in any of a variety of ways. In one embodiment, the outer shell is cylindrical. In another embodiment, the outer shell is box-shaped. The outer shell may take on any of a number of different shapes without departing from the true scope and spirit of the presently disclosed invention. The walls of the outer shell are preferably constructed from a relatively rigid, sturdy material and may be relatively opaque to preserve the integrity of light sensitive materials encased within the cartridges. This helps to avoid damage to the device's contents, including cartridges. A bottom end of the outer shell is preferably sealed with a protective material that, much like the walls of the outer shell, helps to ensure that the cartridges within are not damaged and remain intact. The bottom end may be constructed from the same material as the walls of the outer shell or may be constructed from an entirely different material as may be desirable for manufacturing or other purposes. The outer shell is preferably of a length sufficient to not only hold all of the cartridges, but also to include a gap between the uppermost cartridge and the upper end of the outer shell. This gap may provide a location for storing an applicator-mixing stick, or other instrument. The outer shell may be elongated with a relatively narrow diameter, in one embodiment, 2.1 mm, to lessen the likelihood of inadvertent cartridge piercing, rupture, or other damage. Additionally, the outer shell may be molded with a shallow ridge, indentation or detent along its inner wall at the upper edge of the top cartridge that would allow cartridges to be pushed into position in the outer shell, but would prevent them from shifting during shipping and handling. In this embodiment, the cartridges fit relatively snugly within the outer shell.

[0009] In another embodiment, multiple outer shells may project from a common bottom end. This bottom end is of a suitable size to accommodate a plurality of outer shells. This embodiment permits the packaging, storing and/or mixing of multiple components as required by a user.

[0010] In yet another embodiment, the outer shell is constructed to hold two cartridges, a first cartridge and a second cartridge. The first cartridge is affixed near one end of the outer shell, while the second cartridge is fixed longitudinally adjacent to the first cartridge. Each of the cartridges may be elongated and are of a diameter to fit within the outer shell. The two cartridges are sealed to prevent the cartridge contents from escaping. In the case of the first cartridge, the end adjacent to the second cartridge is sealed with a frangible membrane. The other end of the first cartridge may be sealed with a frangible membrane if the outer shell is equipped with an impenetrable wall, otherwise, the end of the first cartridge nearer to the base of the outer shell is preferably sealed with a relatively impenetrable seal. The second cartridge is equipped with frangible membranes at each end to permit the user to penetrate entirely through the second (top) cartridge and into the first (bottom) cartridge, thereby facilitating mixing the contents of both the first and second cartridges.

[0011] The frangible membranes described herein may be constructed from any of a variety of materials. Such materials would include foil, plastics such as polyethylene or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene resin (ABS), laminates of foil and polymer, or a variety of other suitable materials that provide barrier protection while permitting penetration with a suitable instrument.

[0012] To use the device, a user pierces the outer frangible membrane with an applicator, such as a brush or spatula, and presses this instrument through the first cartridge to pierce both frangible membranes between the first and second cartridges. Once pierced, the material in the first cartridge may flow into the second cartridge or be carried into the second cartridge by the instrument. The instrument may then be used to agitate the materials that were formerly sealed within the first and second cartridges and thoroughly combine them into a relatively homogeneous solution or mixture.

[0013] A capping membrane may be used to seal the outermost cartridge from the environment. The capping membrane is such that it may be peeled away prior to use. To use the device, a user peels off the capping membrane, exposing a frangible outer membrane, and pierces the frangible membranes to mix the contents of the first and second cartridges as previously described.

[0014] In another embodiment of the present invention, a third cartridge is affixed within the outer shell, adjacent to the second cartridge. The second and third cartridges are separated by frangible membranes similar to the membranes used to separate the first and second cartridges. This embodiment permits the combination of three separately-contained mixture components. Other embodiments of the invention might employ still more cartridges.

[0015] In another embodiment of the invention, a plurality of outer shells are affixed to a mounting sheet. The outer shells each contain one or more filled cartridges, separated by suitable frangible membranes as previously described. The mounting sheet may be constructed from any of a variety of suitable materials including metals and plastics such as foils or polymers. Each outer shell is affixed to its own portion of a mounting sheet and a mounting sheet is perforated to facilitate removal of one or more individual outer shells.

[0016] In yet another embodiment of the invention, cartridges are constructed so that they may be attached to other cartridges without use of a outer shell. Each cartridge includes at least one engagement member that may be used to attach the cartridge to the engagement member of another cartridge. Thus, multiple cartridges may be attached in a linear fashion using the engagement members affixed to or constructed as part of the cartridges. The engagement members are constructed so as to permit the flow of liquid or other mixable materials between the cartridges once the one or more membranes between the cartridges are ruptured. This facilitates the mixture of the contents of the cartridges. This is achieved by piercing or rupturing any frangible membranes that would otherwise separate the contents of various cartridges. Preferably each of these cartridges includes a reinforcement wall laterally affixed to the circumference or other outer edge of each cartridge. In the simplest embodiment of this type, where there are only two cartridges, one of the cartridges must have frangible membranes at both ends, while the other one requires only a single frangible membrane (but may also have two frangible membranes if a suitable capping membrane is also utilized to prevent this outer membrane from rupturing). When mated, the cartridge with a single frangible membrane must be connected to the other cartridge so that the frangible membranes are adjacent to one another. In this manner, the user is then able to pierce the outer membrane, penetrate the first cartridge and then pierce the two adjacent membranes, allowing the contents of the first cartridge to flow into, or be mixed into, the second cartridge.

[0017] Another embodiment employs an outer shell. An inner sleeve may be used as a lining for the outer shell. The outer shell is adapted to accommodate gaskets that include a frangible membrane. In this embodiment, gaskets are constructed to effect a separation of materials. The gaskets are constructed to fit within the outer shell and have a holding member with a hole of a predetermined size through the inner portion that runs essentially parallel to the (long) edge of the outer shell. A frangible membrane is affixed across and covers the hole. Optionally, a conformable device is used to aid in containing mixable materials on either side of the gasket. For purposes of this disclosure, a conformable device is a device that aids in effecting a separation between two adjacent sections of the outer shell, such as an o-ring or other separating system. Typically, the conformable device contacts the outer shell or inner sleeve, if one is used, and the gasket thereby providing a seal or separation between the space above and below the gasket. The cross-section of the outer shell and consequently the gaskets may be any shape, although a circular cross-section is preferred. The use of the gaskets in conjunction with the outer shell helps to ensure that mixable materials can be separated from each other for storage and then later mixed.

[0018] It can be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the gasket may be of a significant thickness to provide adequate structural support for the membrane. This gasket may be beveled or otherwise shaped to slope inward so as to promote the transfer of materials through the membrane once the membrane is pierced.

[0019] Additional advantages and novel features of the present invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following or may be appreciated further by practice of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] Features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description with reference to the drawings, in which:

[0021]FIG. 1 depicts an elevated perspective view of one embodiment of the invention;

[0022]FIG. 2 depicts an elevated perspective view of another embodiment of the invention;

[0023]FIG. 3 depicts an exaggerated cross-sectional top plan view of one embodiment of the invention;

[0024]FIG. 4 depicts an elevated perspective view of another embodiment of the invention;

[0025]FIG. 5 depicts an elevated cross-sectional perspective view of one embodiment of the invention;

[0026]FIG. 6 depicts an exaggerated cross-sectional top plan view of another embodiment of the invention;

[0027]FIG. 7 depicts a lateral cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the invention;

[0028]FIG. 8 depicts a lateral, cross-sectional plan view of an othe r embodiment of the invention;

[0029]FIG. 9 depicts a lateral, cross-sectional plan view of another embodiment of the invention;

[0030]FIG. 10 depicts a lateral, cross-sectional plan view of another embodiment of the inventions;

[0031]FIG. 11a depicts a top down cross-sectional plan view of one embodiment of the invention;

[0032]FIG. 11b depicts a lateral cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the invention; and

[0033]FIG. 12 depicts an elevated perspective view of one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0034] For simplicity and illustrative purposes, the principles of the present invention are described by referring mainly to various exemplary embodiments thereof. Although the preferred embodiments of the invention are particularly disclosed herein, one of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that the same principles are equally applicable to, and can be implemented in, a variety of other systems, and any such variation would be within the modifications that do not part from the true spirit and scope of the present invention. Before explaining the disclosed embodiments of the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of any particular arrangement shown, since the invention is capable of other embodiments. The terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation.

[0035]FIG. 1 depicts an elevated perspective view of one embodiment of a packaging system 10. In this embodiment of the packaging system 10 an outer shell 8 is shown and includes a first cartridge 14 and a second cartridge 12. In the embodiment shown, the outer shell 8 is an elongated cylindrical tube with an open end 15. The outer shell 8 is preferably made out of a sturdy, rigid material and is useful to protect the contents thereof, namely the cartridges. The outer shell 8 may also be useful to hold or store an instrument such as a mixer or applicator as in the case of a spatula or brush 20 and may be equipped with a removable stop (not shown) over the open end 15 and positioned to hold the instrument in place and prevent its escape from the packaging system 10 or to prevent inadvertent rupturing of the outer frangible membrane 18. The outer shell 8 is preferably of a sufficient length so that there is space between an outer frangible membrane 18 at the top of the second cartridge 12, and the open end 15. The preferable difference between the inner diameter of the outer shell and the outer diameters of the first and second cartridges, 14 and 12, are relatively small to provide a relatively tight fit within the outer shell 8. These two characteristics help to insure that the cartridges contained within the outer shell 8 are not inadvertently pierced, ruptured, or damaged. In a preferred embodiment, the outer shell 8 has an inner diameter of 2.1 mm and is of sufficient length such that the lengths of the first cartridge 14 and second cartridge 12 combined are less than half of the overall length of the entire outer shell 8.

[0036] In the embodiment of the packaging system 10 depicted in FIG. 1, the bottom end of the outer shell 8 may be sealed by a barrier that is relatively impenetrable. The bottom end 17 may be sealed in any of a variety of ways. This includes heat sealing, ultrasonic sealing, capping, or other similar technology. Alternatively, the bottom end 17 may be sealed during an extrusion manufacturing process used to created the outer shell 8. Alternatively, the bottom end 17 may exist as a stop member which is later affixed to the outer shell 8.

[0037] The first cartridge 14 occupies the space within the outer shell 8 adjacent to the relatively impenetrable bottom end 17. Prior to assembly in the outer shell 8, a frangible membrane is applied to one of the ends of the first cartridge 14. Any desirable material is then loaded in through the open end of the first cartridge 14 and the first cartridge is sealed with another frangible membrane. The assembled first cartridge 14 is then loaded into the outer shell. The second cartridge 12 is filled in a similar manner and positioned adjacent to the first cartridge in the outer shell 8. Thus, a frangible membrane 18 is presented to the open end of the outer shell 8, two frangible membranes are positioned adjacent to one another at the interface 16 to the first and second cartridge and a final frangible membrane is affixed to the end of the first cartridge 14 adjacent to the relatively impenetrable bottom end 17 of the outer shell 8. Using two frangible membranes for the first cartridge 14, facilitates easy assembly, especially if the process is automated. Often, it then becomes unnecessary to align the cartridges so that the interface between the first and second cartridges are both frangible membranes. This process may be repeated to load as many cartridges as desired.

[0038]FIG. 2 depicts an elevated perspective view of another embodiment of the packaging system 21, however, in this embodiment, the outer shell 19 is box shaped. This embodiment includes a first cartridge 26 with a frangible membrane 28 affixed to the top end of the first cartridge 26 and a second cartridge 24 similar to that depicted in FIG. 1. A third cartridge having frangible membranes at both ends is then loaded above the second cartridge 24. A capping membrane (not shown) may be installed on the outer shell 19 to protect the interior from contamination by dirt, dust, etc. during shipping/storage, or inadvertent rupture of the frangible membranes; this can be of any sort of protective, moldable material such as plastic, foil, or laminates that can be affixed to the end of the outer shell 19 either by induction seal, adhesion, pressure fitting, etc.

[0039] The embodiment depicted in FIG. 2 shows how a plurality of cartridges may be installed within an outer shell 19. It should be appreciated that while this embodiment depicts a box shaped outer shell 19, the outer shell 19 could be any of a variety of shapes without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.

[0040]FIG. 3 depicts an exaggerated cross-sectional top plan view of one embodiment of the packaging system 40. This drawing also depicts the circular shape of an outer shell 42. Within the outer shell 42 is an inner sleeve 46 which is preferably fixedly attached to the outer shell 42. The inner sleeve 46 is preferably constructed from a relatively nonporous and relatively impermeable material such as foil, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene resin, or any of a variety of other metallic or polymeric materials. The inner sleeve 46 may be constructed from the same material as the frangible membranes depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2. The inner sleeve is preferably such that it contains the mixture components and prevents their lateral passage or contact with the outer shell 42.

[0041] Within the inner sleeve 46, the contents of the cartridge 44 are shown. Although FIG. 3 depicts an exaggerated view, it may be appreciated from the drawing that, in the embodiment of the packaging system 40 depicted, the contents of the cartridge 44 may directly contact the inner sleeve 46. In this way, the inner sleeve 46 may form the outermost lateral boundary for each of the different cartridges of a packaging system 40. Alternatively, each of the cartridges may be a fully self-contained unit within the outer shell 46.

[0042]FIG. 4 depicts an elevated perspective view of another embodiment of the packaging system 50. In this embodiment, a variety of outer shells 52 containing filled cartridges with appropriate frangible membranes are affixed to a mounting sheet 54. The mounting sheet 54 may be constructed from any of a variety of materials including metallic and plastic materials such as foils and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene resin. The mounting sheet 54 is of a width slightly greater than the length of the outer shells 52. This permits a plurality of outer shells to be mounted to a mounting sheet 54. Preferably, the mounting sheet 54 includes perforations 56 so that a section of the mounting sheet 54 may be removed while the remainder of the mounting sheet 54 is left intact. The mounting sheet 54 may be used to store a variety of outer shells 52. Mounting sheets 54 may be stored flat or they may be rolled up for use in a dispenser or other suitable apparatus.

[0043]FIG. 5 depicts an elevated cross-sectional perspective view of another embodiment of the outer shell 58. In this embodiment, a different technique is used to store a first cartridge 62 and a second cartridge 60 within the outer shell 64 by actually constructing the cartridges within the outer shell 64. As previously described in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the outer shell 64 includes a bottom end 70. The first cartridge 62 may be assembled inside of the outer shell 64 by sealing the bottom end of the first cartridge 62 with a frangible membrane (not shown). The mixable material for the first cartridge is then loaded directly into the first cartridge 62 with a frangible membrane 68 as a seal directly on top of the mixable material. The second cartridge 60 may be assembled in a similar fashion, using its own bottom membrane or the previously installed top membrane 68. A capping membrane may be attached at the end of the outer shell 64.

[0044] As described, the aforementioned examples may be constructed using a single frangible membrane to separate the cartridges where cartridges are positioned adjacent to one another and where they have been described as having separate frangible membranes, one per each cartridge. In such embodiments, a single frangible membrane is shared by a pair of adjacent cartridges. In this embodiment, the frangible membrane must be capable of sealing on both sides. For simple systems, it could be an acceptable alternative to the aforementioned designs that utilize frangible membranes sealing both ends of cartridges.

[0045] One skilled in the art will appreciate how other membranes may be employed to provide additional separation and/or protection of the cartridges. Additionally, it may be appreciated that an outer shell 64 such as that depicted in FIG. 5 is not limited to two cartridges as they may be used with a number of different cartridges. Further, it should be appreciated that the outer shell 64 may be constructed with an inner sleeve 46 such as that depicted in FIG. 3 and then either of the cartridge assembly types previously described may be employed either exclusively or along with the other cartridge assembly type.

[0046]FIG. 6 depicts an exaggerated cross-sectional top plan view of one embodiment of the packaging system 80. In this embodiment, the outer shell 88 has a generally circular cross-section and includes within it an inner sleeve 82. Much like the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3, the inner sleeve 82 is preferably fixedly attached to the outer shell 88. The drawing also depicts the mixable material 86 encased within a frangible membrane as a cartridge 84. This cartridge 84 can be manufactured outside of the outer shell 88, as previously described. As is evident from FIG. 6, the cartridge 84 is sized relative to the inner sleeve 82 such that the cartridge 84 will fit inside the inner sleeve 82. Preferably, the cartridge will fit relatively snugly within the inner sleeve 82. In one embodiment of the invention, the cartridge 84 is secured within the inner sleeve 82. The cartridge 84 may be secured using any off a variety of suitable attachment means such as adhesives, e.g. glue, or small protrusions or indentions (not shown) within the outer shell 88 and liner 82.

[0047] Alternatively, the cartridge 84, may be secured within the outer shell 88, without use of an inner sleeve 82. Use of the inner sleeve 82 may be advantageous in certain instances I I however, as it enables use of different types of cartridges as previously described, and provides added protection for the cartridges.

[0048]FIG. 7 depicts a lateral cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the package system 90. In this embodiment the package system 90 is used to store a two-part adhesive. A resin mixture is present in a volume of approximately 100 μL and sealed within a first cartridge 96 installed near one end of an outer shell 92. This first cartridge 96 is approximately 10 mm in length. A second cartridge 94 is installed adjacent to the first cartridge 96 and includes an activator mixture in a volume of approximately 25 μL. The second cartridge 94 is approximately 5 mm in length. Each of the first cartridge 96 and second cartridge 94 have an outer diameter of approximately 2.0 mm. The outer shell 92 has an inner diameter of approximately 2.1 mm so that the first cartridge 96 and second cartridge fit relatively snugly within the outer shell 92. To further assure correct placement in the outer shell, a shallow concentric ring, indentation, detent 97 or the like can be molded into the inside wall of the outer shell at the upper edge of the upper cartridge 94 such that it would permit insertion of the cartridges past the ring, indentation, detent, etc., but would prevent their escape from the holder. This is important because during use, the two (or more) cartridges should be closely associated to ensure passage of the contents of one cartridge to the other. Other means of ensuring that cartridges are interconnected at time of use may be employed, such as gluing, snapping, or screwing them together.

[0049] The first cartridge 96 and second cartridge 94 are each sealed with frangible membranes, or with a shared frangible membrane, as previously described. In use, both of the cartridges may be pierced or ruptured with some instrument such as a brush or spatula and their contents thoroughly blended together. Once properly mixed, the adhesive may be used in the desired application employing the same brush or spatula that was used to mix the contents of the paired cartridges. Following use, both the instrument and the outer shell can easily be disposed of to prevent interpersonal transfer of fluids. This package system 90 is suitable for a wide variety of adhesive and other applications, and may be of particular use in the dental field.

[0050]FIG. 8 depicts yet another embodiment of the invention utilizing a cartridge assembly 100, in a lateral, cross-sectional plan view. The cartridge assembly 100 includes one or more cartridges 105. Each cartridge 105 includes a frangible membrane at each of its ends 110 which defines an interior space 115. The interior space 115 may be used to hold any of a variety of mixable materials. Each cartridge assembly 100 also includes one or more engagement members 125 affixed to either the top or bottom of the cartridge 105. The engagement members 125 are constructed so that they may be removably affixed to complementary features on the engagement member of another cartridge.

[0051]FIG. 8 shows a first cartridge 105 detachably connected to a second cartridge 135 by the engagement members 120 of each cartridge 105 and 135. In FIG. 8, the engagement members 120 of the first cartridge 105 and second cartridge 135 are shown engaged, and as a singular unit. The engagement members may be constructed to snap together and form a resilient, yet separable bond. Likewise, FIG. 8 also depicts a singular engagement member 125 on the first cartridge 105 and a singular engagement member 130 on the second cartridge 135. Each of the engagement members 125, 130 are constructed so that the fluid contents or other mixable materials within the cartridges 105 and 135 may flow between the cartridges 105 and 135 when the frangible membranes 110 and 145 located between the cartridges 105 and 135 are pierced, or ruptured with a mixing instrument. Alternatively, one engagement member 125 or 130 may be replaced by a relatively impermeable barrier.

[0052] In this way, a variety of cartridges 105 may be linearly interconnected for mixing of their contents. For instance, a user might attach cartridges together each of which contains a separate component of an adhesive formulation and then add a third cartridge containing a coloring component so that when mixed together the contents of three cartridges creates an adhesive having a desirable color. Alternatively the user might employ a different component to achieve a different color or perhaps an entirely different chemical characteristic such as added bonding strength, quicker drying and fixing time, or a harder final product.

[0053] Each cartridge 135 may also include a reinforcement wall 140. The reinforcement wall 140 is laterally disposed on a cartridge 135 so as to protect the cartridge 135 from inadvertent piercing, rupture, or other damage. The reinforcement wall 140 wraps around the outer circumference of the cartridge 135. The reinforcement wall 140 may be constructed from any of a variety of materials, or may be installed as part of the extrusion process used to manufacture each cartridge 135, or added as a separate assembly step.

[0054]FIG. 9 shows a lateral cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the invention. In FIG. 9, an outer shell 190 is open on either end and includes a stop member (relatively impenetrable wall) 200. The stop member 200 is a more substantial element with a thickness and strength such that it is relatively difficult to pierce or rupture with the instrument provided with the package. As depicted in FIG. 9, the stop member 200 prevents mixing of the separate cartridges within the outer shell 190. While the stop member 200 may be affixed at one end of the outer shell 190 and used as previously described as a bottom end, in this embodiment the stop member 200 is affixed at a predetermined position between the ends of and within the outer shell 190. When affixed within the outer shell 190, the stop member 200 creates two mixing and/or storage areas. The stop member 200 acts as a barrier between these two areas, each of which extends between the stop member 200 and an exterior end of the outer shell 190. The first cartridge 210 and a second cartridge 220 are set within the outer shell 190 and on one side of the stop member 200. This enables the user to pierce the frangible membranes on the first cartridge 210 and the second cartridge 220 without disturbing the contents of the outer shell 190 beyond the stop member 200. When the user is finished with mixing and application of the contents of the first cartridge 210 and the second cartridge 220, the user may pierce the third cartridge 230, fourth cartridge 240, and fifth cartridge 250 to mix the contents thereof together and apply the resulting mixture as appropriate. It should be appreciated that any variety of cartridge combinations may be used with the embodiment including the stop member 200. For instance, the outer shell 190 might include a total of cartridges with three cartridges on either side of the stop member 200, or the outer shell might include four cartridges on one side of the stop member 200 and a singular cartridge upon the opposite side of the stop member 200. In addition, a plurality of outer shells may project outward from a common stop member (not shown). In this embodiment, multiple mixing/storage areas can be joined into one unit.

[0055] The stop member 200 is preferably constructed from a relatively durable, resilient material that will help to prevent inadvertent piercing or rupture of the stop member 200. This material includes the variety of metal and plastics, for instance, the stop member 200 may be constructed from a reinforced foil or polymer material. As such, a stop member 200 may be of varying thickness in order to achieve the desired effect.

[0056] Thus, it can be appreciated that the invention might have application to a wide variety of embodiments. The cartridges used to contain and store the mixable materials have varying components and may be assembled in a variety of different ways. In certain embodiments, the single outer shell may include a combination of different cartridge types.

[0057]FIG. 10 depicts a lateral cross-sectional plan view of a packaging system 290. In this figure the outer shell 330 has a bottom 335 portion affixed. Alternatively, a gasket that is relatively impermeable and unbreakable throughout its cross section may form the bottom portion 335. A gasket 320 fits inside the outer shell 330 and separates the first mixable material 360 from the second 350 mixable material. The gasket 320 includes a holding member 325 affixed with a frangible membrane 365. The position of this gasket 320 may be predetermined. Additionally, a conformable device 340 such as an O-ring (or similar gasket-type device) aids in the separation of the materials. A second gasket 310 contains the second mixable material 350 from exposure. A plurality of stops 345 may be installed within or as part of the outer shell 330 to prevent undesired movement of the gasket 310 and 320. Preferably these stops 345 are molded or otherwise affixed to the outer shell. These stops 345 may take the form of rings, tabs, or other physical restraints. FIG. 10 also shows the brush, spatula, or other device 300 used to pierce the frangible membrane and mix the materials 350 and 360. Both or either of the gaskets 310 and 320 may include a holding member 325 with a beveled or shaped side that slopes toward the membrane 365 to aid in mixing the materials after the penetration of the membrane 365.

[0058] Although FIG. 10 depicts an embodiment with two mixable materials, it can be appreciated that a number of mixable materials could be stored between gaskets in one packaging system.

[0059]FIG. 11 a depicts a top down cross-sectional plan view of a component 320. In this drawing, a frangible membrane 365 is mounted within a holding member 325. The holding member 325 may be lined at its periphery with a conformable device (e.g., an o-ring) 340 that fits snugly within an inner sleeve (not shown) preventing intermingling of materials on either side of the frangible membrane 365 and aids in positioning the component 320 within the outer shell (not shown). As previously described, the holding member 325 may be beveled or otherwise shaped to slope toward the membrane 365 so as to aid in the mixing of materials. Although the cross-sectional shape is depicted as circular, other shapes may be employed.

[0060]FIG. 11b depicts a lateral cross-sectional view of a gasket 320. In this drawing, a frangible membrane 365 is attached to a holding member 325, similar to that depicted in FIG. 11a. The holding member 325 may be lined at its periphery with a conformable device 340 that aids in separating material on either side of the gasket 320. As previously described, the holding member 325 may be beveled or otherwise shaped to slope toward the membrane 365 so as to aid in the mixing of materials.

[0061]FIG. 12 depicts a schematic view of another embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment 440, a plurality of outer shells 460, 470, 480, 490, 500, and 510 extend from a common bottom end 450. The outer shells 460, 470, 480, 490, 500, and 510 may extend at a variety of angles from the bottom end 450. These outer shells may be constructed so that they are detachable, and allow a user to make different combinations to suit the particular mixture desired. Each of the outer shells may contain more than one component and where they contain more than one component, each component is separated from the others by frangible membranes. Additionally, the outer shells, may be separated from the common chamber 450 by frangible membranes in order to permit multiple combinations of ingredients in the common chamber. It should be appreciated that such a device may include fewer or more outer shells.

[0062] While the invention has been described with reference to certain exemplary embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art may make various modifications to the described embodiments of the invention without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. The terms and descriptions used herein are set forth by way of illustration only and are not meant as limitations. In particular, although the present invention has been described by examples, a variety of devices would practice the inventive concepts described herein. While the invention has been described and disclosed in various terms and certain embodiments, the scope of the invention is not intended to be, nor should it be deemed to be, limited thereby and such other modifications or embodiments as may be suggested by the teachings herein are particularly reserved, especially as they fall within the breadth and scope of the claims here appended. Those skilled in the art will recognize that these and other variations are possible within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7625114 *Oct 23, 2003Dec 1, 2009Kettenbach GmbH & Co. KG GmbHDevice having sealed breakable chambers for storing and dispensing viscous substances
US7887231Oct 16, 2009Feb 15, 2011Kettenbach Gmbh & Co. KgDevice having sealed breakable chambers for storing and dispensing viscous substances
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/219
International ClassificationB65D81/32
Cooperative ClassificationB65D81/3255
European ClassificationB65D81/32G
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 27, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: MCNEIL-PPC, INC., NEW JERSEY
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Effective date: 20051221
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Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:DEN-MAT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:014600/0615
Effective date: 20040429
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Effective date: 20011002