FIELD OF THE INVENTION.
The present invention relates to an end member of a container, such as an aluminum beverage container, having an aperture defining a pour opening set in an end wall of a container. Such a container will be pressurize, caused by dissociating gasses released from the beverage product, resulting in high pressure gasses collecting within the container. Such gasses are required to be contained to protect the freshness of the product.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A search of prior art reveals many patents issued that address the opening, venting and resealing of a container, such as a beverage can. The benefits of a can containing these features would eliminate having the contents splash or eject under pressure during opening.
Once the can is open, if all the contents are not consumed, any remaining beverage could be resealed, and remain fresh for later consumption. This would eliminate the present practice of disposing of the unconsumed contents, which is wasteful, and can be inconvenient or inappropriate.
Numerous U.S. Pat. Nos. such as 4,008,832, 4,433,792, 4,442,950, 4,887,712, and 5,011,037 attest to the desire to provide the public with the aforementioned features.
Various structures have been proposed, and prior art teaches the incorporation of a central stopper positioned to work in concert with a pour opening to create such a sealing device.
Examples of a few such patents would incorporate U.S. Pat. No. 3,952,911, Bozek et al. disclosing a plastic rim, having an annular groove seated about the marginal edges defining a pour opening aperture, working in concert with a tab to provide sealing of a container.
A similar method is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,580,692, LaBarge et al. where a plastic sealing member is tightly inserted in to a pour opening aperture, having a rupturable overlay at the junction of the plastic sealing members forming an initial seal.
Vogt, discloses in U.S. Pat. No. 3,952,914, a removable plastic seal element set within the confines of the metal pour opening aperture, and opening in toward the container interior, to be raised back to an original position to effect a seal.
In U.S. Pat. No. 4,431,110 Roth disclose an upper hinged plastic member, having a plug attached, that, on closing, inserts the plug into an orifice set in a lower sealing member.
The foregoing examples disclose some of the efforts that have been directed toward providing the public with a resealable container.
Field of search.
Cl. 220-269, 272, 281, 339, 351.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a novel re-closure device for a substantially liquid and gas tight sealing engagement, set within an aperture defining a pour opening in a container end wall. Such a container may contain carbonated beverages of various types. Dissociating gasses being released from the beverage product can result in a pressure of approximately 95 psi. within the container.
It is an object of this present invention to provide a substantially liquid and gas tight seal, and that this sealing means be available for the initial sealing of a container, and for subsequent resealing of the container, as described within the body of this application.
It is an object of this invention to utilize the internal pressure within a container to operate against, and place in compression, the interior portion of a sealing member, thereby providing a more effective seal.
It is an object of this invention to release the internal pressure within a container prior to providing a pour opening in an end wall of such a container.
Another object of this invention is to selectively contain or release pressurized gasses within a container, and further to provide a mechanism to secure portions of the device in a horizontal sealed position, or a vertical pour open position.
It is a further object of this invention to control the pressurized beverage spray that sometimes emits on opening such a container, so as to enclose and direct this spray away from a consumer.
Yet another objective of the present invention is to separately produce a closure, of a suitable elastomeric material, that can be inserted into an aperture set in the end wall of a container, at an appropriate manufacturing operation.
A marketing advantage included in this device is that after opening, a hidden surface on the underside of the device is revealed for the first time, giving the opportunity to display promotional, or other ‘instant winner’ type messages
In a preferred embodiment, the closure device, manufactured of a suitable elastomeric material, includes a rim with an annular locking recess surrounding the marginal edges defining a pour opening, such as to provide a substantially liquid and gas tight sealing engagement. Such rim includes an internal narrow strip hinge, located on a lower aspect of the rim, and locking members, located on an upper aspect of the rim, as will be discussed in greater detail hereinafter.
The rim includes a tapered inner wall, protruding within the container body, with the larger diameter open to the container interior.
A sealing panel, set within the aforementioned rim, connected to the rim by the internal narrow strip hinge, having a tapered outer wall with a like taper to the rim inner wall, such that both elements cooperate in sealing engagement, one with another. The rim and sealing panel could be constructed with one member in a more elastic, and one member in a less elastic state, so that compliance of fit would more easily be achieved. Of note is the internal pressure acting to compress the internal area of the sealing panel, forcing the tapered walls into tighter engagement, providing a more efficient seal.
Notably, a small diameter gas vent hole is set within the sealing panel, and an external hinge connects the sealing panel to a tab member placed on the upper aspect of the sealing panel. The tab member has four main parts, a rigid portion connected to the external hinge, including a sealing means; a relatively flat covering panel; a narrowed securing portion; and a distal flexible portion forming a lifting end.
The tab, acting as a lever, supplies the means to manually rotate the device between a closed, sealing position and an open, pouring position.
With the tab in a closed, sealing position relative to the sealing panel, a gas vent cover and gasket, located on a lower aspect of the tab, covers and seals the previously mentioned gas vent hole. The invention provides tab locks that secure the tab in a closed, sealing position, and an open position, secured within the interior of the container, whereby a pour opening is available.
Grasping and lifting the flexible lifting end of the tab, rotating about the external hinge, severs a tamper evident strip, disengages the tab locks, and rotates the tab up and outward, away from the container.
This action progressively separates the gas vent cover and gasket from a sealing position over the gas vent hole, allowing gas under high pressure to exhaust. Since the exhausting process occurs as the tab is only slightly open, any pressurized liquid that could erupt is contained under the covering panel portion of the tab, shielding the consumer, providing a dry venting feature.
With the pressure released, using a small downward force on the tab, the sealing panel is pushed into the container interior, rotating about the internal strip hinge, forming a pour opening.
Located at an approximate midpoint of the tab, the narrowed portion interacts with the tab locks, which spread apart and snap back when a small force is applied, to captured the tab within the tab locks, securing the sealing panel in an open position. The flexible lifting end of the tab, now protruding above the rim seal, is in an arcuate position, reducing drinking obstruction while offering a subsequent grasping opportunity.
Lifting the finger lift, and removing the tab from the tab locks, the sealing panel is raised back into the rim seal, assisted by the self guiding action of the tapers, engaging the tapered walls in their original sealing position.
Rotating the tab around the external hinge toward the container, and pressing down on the midpoint area between the tab locks, causes the bulbous portion of the tab locks to spread apart and snap back to capture the midpoint area, this rotation also repositions the gas vent cover and compresses the gasket over the gas vent hole, establishing a gas tight seal.
Subsequent dissociating gasses from remaining beverage re-pressurize the container, once again acting to force the sealing panel into tighter engagement within the rim seal, providing a gas and liquid tight resealed container.
During the initial opening of the tab, the underside of the tab, hidden to this point, becomes visible. A message can be displayed on this space of the ‘instant winner’ type, wherein a message becomes available to the consumer. Such methods of promoting and advertising are well known, and are frequently used to offer messages under the sealing caps of plastic container bottles containing beverage products.