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Publication numberUS20050022472 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/884,020
Publication dateFeb 3, 2005
Filing dateJul 2, 2004
Priority dateJul 31, 2003
Also published asEP1723037A2, WO2005012107A2, WO2005012107A3
Publication number10884020, 884020, US 2005/0022472 A1, US 2005/022472 A1, US 20050022472 A1, US 20050022472A1, US 2005022472 A1, US 2005022472A1, US-A1-20050022472, US-A1-2005022472, US2005/0022472A1, US2005/022472A1, US20050022472 A1, US20050022472A1, US2005022472 A1, US2005022472A1
InventorsDavid Brakes, Hongyu Wu, Charles Albritton
Original AssigneeDavid Brakes, Hongyu Wu, Albritton Charles Wade
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Resealable vacuum packaging bags and methods for using and manufacturing resealable vacuum packaging bags
US 20050022472 A1
Abstract
Resealable vacuum packaging bags and methods of manufacturing and using the bags are disclosed herein. In one embodiment, a bag includes a first panel and a second panel coupled to the first panel. The first and second panels each have a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer. The bag further includes a first mating member projecting from the first panel and a second mating member projecting from the first or second panel. The second mating member is configured to selectively engage the first mating member to substantially seal the bag. In another embodiment, a method of using a resealable vacuum packaging bag includes opening a thermally sealed vacuum packaging bag and engaging a first complementary member on a first panel of the bag with a second complementary member on a second panel of the bag to substantially seal the vacuum packaging bag after opening the vacuum packaging bag.
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Claims(46)
1. A resealable vacuum packaging bag, comprising:
a first panel having a first gas impermeable layer and a first heat sealable layer coupled to the first gas impermeable layer;
a second panel coupled to the first panel so that the bag has a first open end and a second open end opposite the first open end, the second panel having a second gas impermeable layer and a second heat sealable layer coupled to the second gas impermeable layer;
a first mating member projecting from the first panel; and
a second mating member projecting from the second panel, the second mating member configured to selectively engage the first mating member to at least substantially seal the first open end of the bag.
2. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first mating member comprises a rib; and
the second mating member comprises a channel sized to removably receive the rib.
3. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first panel further includes a plurality of intercommunicating channels; and
the first mating member is attached to the first panel.
4. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first and second panels include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge; and
the first and second mating members extend from the first edge to the second edge.
5. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first mating member is spaced apart from the first open end by a first distance;
the second mating member is attached to the second panel and spaced apart from the first open end by a second distance at least approximately equal to the first distance; and
the first and second panels include a heat seal zone between the first open end and the first and second mating members.
6. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein the first mating member has a first length and the second mating member has a second length at least approximately equal to the first length.
7. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first and second panels each include an inner surface;
the first mating member projects from the inner surface of the first panel; and
the second mating member projects from the inner surface of the second panel.
8. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein the first and second mating members are configured to releasably engage each other.
9. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 1 wherein:
the first mating member is attached to the first panel; and
the second mating member is attached to the second panel.
10. A resealable vacuum packaging bag, comprising:
a first panel having a plurality of intercommunicating channels, a first gas impermeable layer, and a first heat sealable layer coupled to the first gas impermeable layer;
a second panel coupled to the first panel, the second panel having a second gas impermeable layer and a second heat sealable layer coupled to the second gas impermeable layer; and
a means for selectively resealing the bag coupled to the first and/or second panel.
11. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein the means for selectively resealing the bag comprise a rib and a channel sized to removably receive the rib.
12. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein:
the first and second panels include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge; and
the means for selectively resealing the bag extend from the first edge to the second edge.
13. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein:
the first and second panels define an interior region with an open end; and
the means for selectively resealing the bag are coupled to the first and/or second panel proximate to the open end to at least substantially seal the interior region.
14. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein:
the first and second panels define an interior region with an open end;
the means for selectively resealing the bag are spaced apart from the open end; and
the first and second panels include a heat seal zone between the open end and the means for selectively resealing the bag.
15. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein:
the first panel further includes an opening; and
the means for selectively resealing the bag are coupled to the first panel at least proximate to the opening to selectively close the opening and at least substantially seal the bag.
16. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 10 wherein:
the first panel is coupled to the second panel so that the bag has a first open end and a second open end opposite the first open end; and
the means for selectively resealing the bag is configured to selectively reseal the first open end of the bag.
17. A resealable vacuum packaging bag, comprising a first panel, a second panel coupled to the first panel, a first complementary member coupled to the first panel, and a second complementary member coupled to the second panel, the first and second panels defining an interior region with an open end, the first and second panels each including a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer coupled to the gas impermeable layer, the heat sealable layer of the first panel being configured to be thermally bonded to the heat sealable layer of the second panel across a heat seal zone proximate to the open end to at least substantially hermetically seal the interior region, the first complementary member being configured to selectively interlock with the second complementary member to substantially seal the interior region, the heat seal zone being disposed between the open end and the first and second complementary members.
18. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein:
the first complementary member comprises a rib; and
the second complementary member comprises a channel sized to removably receive the rib.
19. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein:
the first panel further includes a plurality of intercommunicating channels; and
the first complementary member is coupled to the channels.
20. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein:
the first and second panels include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge; and
the first and second complementary members extend from the first edge to the second edge.
21. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein the first complementary member has a first length and the second complementary member has a second length at least approximately equal to the first length.
22. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein:
the first and second panels each include an inner surface;
the first complementary member projects from the inner surface of the first panel; and
the second complementary member projects from the inner surface of the second panel.
23. The vacuum packaging bag of claim 17 wherein the first and second complementary members are configured to releasably engage each other.
24. A method of using a resealable vacuum packaging bag having a first panel, a second panel coupled to the first panel, an interior region between the first and second panels, and an open end, the method comprising:
at least substantially evacuating the interior region of the vacuum packaging bag with a vacuum packaging appliance;
thermally sealing the open end of the vacuum packaging bag with the vacuum packaging appliance to at least substantially hermetically seal the bag;
opening the vacuum packaging bag after thermally sealing the open end; and
at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag by interlocking a first mating member and a second mating member after opening the vacuum packaging bag, the first mating member projecting from the first panel and the second mating member projecting from the first or second panel.
25. The method of claim 24 wherein:
the first mating member comprises a rib;
the second mating member comprises a channel sized to removably receive the rib; and
at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag comprises inserting the rib into the channel.
26. The method of claim 24 wherein:
thermally sealing the vacuum packaging bag comprises coupling the first panel to the second panel along a heat seal zone; and
opening the vacuum packaging bag comprises cutting the vacuum packaging bag between the heat seal zone and the first and second mating members.
27. The method of claim 24 wherein:
opening the vacuum packaging bag comprises cutting the vacuum packaging bag; and
at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag comprises engaging the first mating member on the first panel with the second mating member on the second panel.
28. The method of claim 24 wherein:
the second mating member projects from the first panel;
the first panel includes an aperture between the first and second mating members;
opening the vacuum packaging bag comprises disengaging the first and second mating members to open the aperture; and
at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag comprises engaging the first mating member with the second mating member.
29. The method of claim 24 wherein:
the first and second panels include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge;
the first and second mating members extend from the first edge to the second edge; and
at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag comprises engaging the first and second mating members between the first and second edges to seal the bag.
30. The method of claim 24, further comprising opening the vacuum packaging bag by disengaging the first and second mating members after at least substantially sealing the vacuum packaging bag.
31. A method of using a resealable vacuum packaging bag, the method comprising:
opening a thermally sealed vacuum packaging bag; and
engaging a first complementary member on a first panel of the bag with a second complementary member on a second panel of the bag to at least substantially seal the vacuum packaging bag after opening the vacuum packaging bag.
32. The method of claim 31 wherein:
the first complementary member comprises a rib;
the second complementary member comprises a channel sized to removably receive the rib; and
engaging the first and second complementary members comprises inserting the rib into the channel.
33. The method of claim 31 wherein:
the thermally sealed vacuum packaging bag includes a heat seal zone in which the first panel is thermally coupled to the second panel; and
opening the thermally sealed bag comprises cutting the bag between the heat seal zone and the first and second complementary members.
34. The method of claim 31 wherein:
the first and second panels include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge;
the first and second complementary members extend from the first edge to the second edge; and
engaging the first and second complementary members comprises engaging the first and second complementary members between the first and second edges to seal the bag.
35. The method of claim 31, further comprising opening the vacuum packaging bag by disengaging the first and second complementary members after engaging the first and second complementary members.
36. A method for manufacturing a resealable vacuum packaging bag, the method comprising:
forming first and second panels, each including a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer coupled to the gas impermeable layer;
forming a first mating member on the first panel; and
forming a second mating member on the first or second panel, the second mating member configured to selectively interlock with the first mating member to at least substantially seal the bag.
37. The method of claim 36 wherein:
forming the first mating member comprises attaching a rib to the first panel; and
forming the second mating member comprises attaching a channel to the second panel.
38. The method of claim 36 wherein:
the first and second panels each further include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge;
forming the first mating member comprises forming the first mating member on the first panel from the first edge to the second edge; and
forming the second mating member comprises forming the second mating member on the second panel from the first edge to the second edge.
39. The method of claim 36 wherein:
the first mating member has a first length and the second mating member has a second length at least approximately equal to the first length;
forming the first mating member comprises forming the first mating member with the first length; and
forming the second mating member comprises forming the second mating member with the second length.
40. The method of claim 36 wherein:
the first panel further includes an opening with a first side and a second side opposite the first side;
forming the first mating member comprises forming the first mating member on the first side of the opening in the first panel; and
forming the second mating member comprises forming the second mating member on the second side of the opening in the first panel.
41. The method of claim 36 wherein:
the first and second panels each further include an inner surface;
forming the first mating member comprises forming the first mating member on the inner surface of the first panel; and
forming the second mating member comprises forming the second mating member on the inner surface of the second panel.
42. A method for manufacturing a resealable vacuum packaging bag, the method comprising:
coupling a first complementary member to a first panel of the resealable vacuum packaging bag, the first panel including a first gas impermeable layer and a first heat sealable layer coupled to the first gas impermeable layer; and
coupling a second complementary member to a second panel of the resealable vacuum packaging bag, the second complementary member being configured to selectively interface with the first complementary member to at least substantially seal the bag, the second panel including a second gas impermeable layer and a second heat sealable layer coupled to the second gas impermeable layer.
43. The method of claim 42 wherein:
coupling the first complementary member comprises attaching a rib to the first panel; and
coupling the second complementary member comprises attaching a channel to the second panel.
44. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the first and second panels each further include a first edge and a second edge opposite the first edge;
coupling the first complementary member comprises attaching the first complementary member between the first edge and the second edge of the first panel; and
coupling the second complementary member comprises attaching the second complementary member between the first edge and the second edge of the second panel.
45. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the first complementary member has a first length and the second complementary member has a second length at least approximately equal to the first length;
coupling the first complementary member comprises attaching the first complementary member having the first length; and
coupling the second complementary member comprises attaching the second complementary member having the second length.
46. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the first and second panels each further include an inner surface;
coupling the first complementary member comprises attaching the first complementary member to the inner surface of the first panel; and
coupling the second complementary member comprises attaching the second complementary member to the inner surface of the second panel.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/491,722, filed Jul. 31, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to vacuum packaging. More particularly, the invention is directed to resealable vacuum packaging bags and methods for using and manufacturing resealable vacuum packaging bags.

BACKGROUND

Vacuum packaging involves removing air or other gases from a storage container and then sealing the container to prevent the contents from being exposed to the air. Vacuum packaging is particularly useful in protecting food and other perishables against oxidation. Oxygen is a main cause of food spoilage and contributes to the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Accordingly, vacuum packaged food often lasts three to five times longer than food stored in ordinary containers. Moreover, vacuum packaging is useful for storing clothes, photographs, silver, and other items to prevent discoloration, corrosion, rust, and tarnishing. Furthermore, vacuum packaging produces tight, strong, and compact packages, reducing the bulk of articles and allowing for more space to store other supplies.

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic isometric views of a conventional appliance 10 for vacuum packaging an object 2 (shown in broken lines) in accordance with the prior art. The vacuum packaging appliance 10 includes a base 20, a lid 40 pivotably coupled to the base 20, a lower trough 26, an upper trough (not shown) aligned with the lower trough 26, and a vacuum pump (not shown) operably coupled to the upper trough. The lid 40 pivots between an open position (shown in FIG. 1B), in which a bag 60 can be placed between the lid 40 and the base 20, and a closed position (shown in FIG. 1A), in which the bag 60 can be evacuated and thermally sealed. In the closed position, the upper trough and the lower trough 26 form a vacuum chamber to remove gas from the interior of the bag 60. The base 20 also includes a seal 24 surrounding the vacuum chamber to seal the chamber from ambient air while gas is removed from the interior of the bag 60. The vacuum packaging appliance 10 further includes a heating element 28 to thermally seal the bag 60 after the gas has been evacuated. A vacuum packaging appliance of this type is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,941,310, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Conventional vacuum packaging bags include two panels attached together with an open end. Typically, the panels each include two or more layers. The inner layer can be a heat sealable material, and the outer layer can be a gas impermeable material to provide a barrier against the influx of air. The plasticity temperature of the inner layer is lower than the outer layer. Accordingly, the bag can be heated to thermally bond the inner layer of each panel together to seal the bag without melting or puncturing the outer layer. A vacuum packaging bag of this type is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. Re. 34,929, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

A conventional vacuum packaging process includes depositing the object 2 in the bag 60 and positioning an open end 62 of the bag 60 in the lower trough 26 of the vacuum packaging appliance 10. Next, the lid 40 pivots downward to form the vacuum chamber with the open end 62 of the bag 60 disposed within the vacuum chamber. The vacuum pump then removes gas from the vacuum chamber and the interior of the bag 60, which is in fluid communication with the vacuum chamber. After the gas has been removed from the interior of the bag 60, the heating element 28 heats a strip of the bag 60 proximate to the open end 62 to melt the inner layer of each panel and thermally seal the bag 60.

One problem with conventional vacuum packaging methods is that thermally sealed bags cannot be resealed and reopened numerous times. More specifically, a thermally sealed bag is opened by cutting the bag below the seal. The bag can be subsequently resealed; however, each time the bag is reopened, another portion of the bag is cut off. Accordingly, there is a need to improve the process of sealing vacuum packaging bags.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic isometric views of a conventional appliance for vacuum packaging objects in accordance with the prior art.

FIG. 2 is a schematic isometric view of a vacuum packaging system including a resealable vacuum packaging bag and a vacuum packaging appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic isometric view of the vacuum packaging bag of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the vacuum packaging bag of FIG. 2 with a first panel and a second panel pressed together.

FIG. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the vacuum packaging bag of FIG. 2 including a first mating member and a second mating member.

FIG. 6 is a schematic top plan view of the vacuum packaging bag of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating one method of sealing, opening, and resealing the vacuum packaging bag of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a resealable vacuum packaging bag in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the bag of FIG. 8 taken generally along the line 9-9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A. Overview

The present invention is directed to resealable vacuum packaging bags and methods for using and manufacturing resealable vacuum packaging bags. In the following description, numerous specific details are provided of particular configurations of resealable vacuum packaging bags and vacuum packaging appliances to provide a thorough understanding of and an enabling description for embodiments of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art, however, will recognize that the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details explained in the following description. In other instances, well-known structures and operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the invention.

Several aspects of the invention are directed to resealable vacuum packaging bags. In one embodiment, a bag includes a first panel and a second panel coupled to the first panel. The first and second panels each have a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer. The bag further includes a first mating member projecting from the first panel and a second mating member projecting from the first or second panel. The second mating member is configured to selectively engage the first mating member to substantially seal the bag. In one aspect of this embodiment, the first mating member includes a rib and the second mating member includes a channel sized to removably receive the rib. The first and second mating members can extend across the entire width of the bag.

In another embodiment, a vacuum packaging bag includes a first panel, a second panel coupled to the first panel, a first complementary member coupled to the first panel, and a second complementary member coupled to the second panel. The first and second panels define an interior region with an open end. The first and second panels each include a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer coupled to the gas impermeable layer. The heat sealable layer of the first panel is configured to be thermally bonded to the heat sealable layer of the second panel across a heat seal zone to substantially hermetically seal the interior region. The heat seal zone is disposed between the open end and the first and second complementary members. The first complementary member is configured to selectively engage the second complementary member to substantially seal the interior region.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to methods of using resealable vacuum packaging bags. In one embodiment, a method includes opening a thermally sealed vacuum packaging bag and engaging a first complementary member on a first panel of the bag with a second complementary member on a second panel of the bag to substantially seal the vacuum packaging bag. In one aspect of this embodiment, the method further includes opening the vacuum packaging bag by disengaging the first and second complementary members after engaging the first and second complementary members.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to methods for manufacturing resealable vacuum packaging bags. In one embodiment, a method includes forming first and second panels, each including a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer coupled to the gas impermeable layer. The method further includes forming a first mating member on the first panel and forming a second mating member on the first or second panel. The second mating member is configured to selectively engage the first mating member to substantially seal the bag.

B. Embodiments of Vacuum Packaging Systems Including Resealable Vacuum Packaging Bags and Vacuum Packaging Appliances

FIG. 2 is a schematic isometric view of a vacuum packaging system 100 including a vacuum packaging appliance 110 and a resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The vacuum packaging appliance 110 includes a base 120 and a lid 140 pivotably coupled to the base 120. The lid 140 is movable between an open position (shown in FIG. 2) and a closed position. The base 120 includes a first chamber portion 126 and a first seal 124 surrounding the first chamber portion 126. The lid 140 can include a second chamber portion 146 and a second seal 144 surrounding the second chamber portion 146. When the lid 140 is in the closed position, the first and second chamber portions 126 and 146 form a vacuum chamber. In other embodiments, the vacuum packaging appliance 110 can have other configurations. For example, the base 120 and/or the lid 140 might not include a chamber portion and/or a seal. Moreover, the vacuum packaging appliance 110 may be lidless.

The vacuum packaging appliance 110 further includes a vacuum pump (not shown) operably coupled to the first and/or second chamber portion 126 or 146 to remove gas from the vacuum chamber when the lid 140 is in the closed position. The vacuum pump can also remove gas from the interior of the bag 160 when an open end 162 of the bag 160 is positioned in the vacuum chamber. The bag 160 is configured so that the interior of the bag 160 is in fluid communication with the vacuum chamber when the lid 140 is in the closed position, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 4. Accordingly, the vacuum pump can remove gas from the vacuum chamber and the interior of the bag 160.

In the illustrated embodiment, the vacuum packaging appliance 110 further includes a heating element 128 and a member 150 for pressing the bag 160 against the heating element 128. The heating element 128 can be carried by the base 120, and the member 150 can be carried by and project from the lid 140. The heating element 128 is configured to thermally seal the bag 160 after the gas has been substantially evacuated from the interior of the bag 160. The heating element 128 heats the bag 160 and the member 150 presses the bag 160 against the heating element 128 to ensure a seal is formed across the bag 160, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 7.

C. Embodiments of Resealable Vacuum Packaging Bags

FIG. 3 is a schematic isometric view of the resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 of FIG. 2. The bag 160 includes a first panel 164 and a second panel 174 coupled to the first panel 164. The first panel 164 can include a first edge 168 a, a second edge 168 b, a third edge 168 c opposite the first edge 168 a, and a fourth edge 168 d opposite the second edge 168 b. The second panel 174 can include a first edge 178 a, a second edge 178 b, a third edge 178 c opposite the first edge 178 a, and a fourth edge 178 d opposite the second edge 178 b. The first edge 168 a, the second edge 168 b, and the third edge 168 c of the first panel 164 are attached to the first edge 178 a, the second edge 178 b, and the third edge 178 c, respectively, of the second panel 174. The first and second panels 164 and 174 define an interior region 184 into which an object(s) can be placed.

The illustrated resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 further includes a first mating member 190 (shown in FIG. 5) projecting from the first panel 164 and a second mating member 195 projecting from the second panel 174. The first and second mating members 190 and 195 are aligned and configured to selectively engage each other to at least substantially hermetically seal the interior region 184 of the bag 160, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 5 and 6. The first and second mating members 190 and 195 can be attached to the first and second panels 164 and 174, respectively, or the first and second mating members 190 and 195 can be integral portions of the corresponding first and second panels 164 and 174. In other embodiments, such as those described below with reference to FIGS. 8 and 9, both of the first and second mating members 190 and 195 can be attached to one of the first or second panels 164 or 174.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 with the first and second panels 164 and 174 pressed together. The first and second panels 164 and 174 each include a gas impermeable layer 180 (identified individually as 180 a-b) and a heat sealable layer 182 (identified individually as 182 a-b) coupled to the corresponding gas impermeable layer 180. The gas impermeable layers 180 a-b provide a barrier against the influx of air. The heat sealable layers 182 a-b have a different temperature of plasticity than the gas impermeable layers 180 a-b so that the bag 160 can be heated to bond the heat sealable layers 182 a-b together without melting or puncturing the gas impermeable layers 180 a-b. In other embodiments, the first and second panels 164 and 174 can further include an additional layer(s), such as a structural layer to increase the strength and rigidity of the bag 160.

In the illustrated embodiment, the second panel 174 includes a plurality of intercommunicating channels 175 configured to exhaust gas from the interior of the bag 160 when the first and second panels 164 and 174 are pressed together as shown in FIG. 4. Accordingly, when the lid 140 (FIG. 2) of the vacuum packaging appliance 110 (FIG. 2) is in the closed position and the bag 160 is sandwiched between the first and second seals 124 and 144 (FIG. 2), gas can be evacuated from the interior region 184 (FIG. 3) of the bag 160 through the channels 175. In other embodiments, the second panel 174 may not include the channels 175.

FIG. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 including the first mating member 190 and the second mating member 195. In the illustrated embodiment, the first mating member 190 includes a base portion 191 and a rib 192 projecting from the base portion 191. The base portion 191 can be attached to the heat sealable layer 182 a of the first panel 164 or be an integral part of the heat sealable layer 182 a. In the illustrated embodiment, the second mating member 195 includes a base portion 196 and two spaced-apart ribs 198 a-b projecting from the base portion 196. The ribs 198 a-b form a channel 197 sized to receive the rib 192 of the first mating member 190.

In the illustrated embodiment, the bag 160 is sealed by exerting a force F against the first panel 164 to cause the first mating member 190 to engage the second mating member 195. More specifically, the rib 192 moves into the channel 197 and thereby prevents ambient gas from entering the interior region 184 of the bag 160. The first and second mating members 190 and 195 can be sized and configured to remain removably engaged until an external force is applied to the bag 160 to disengage the first and second mating members 190 and 195. In other embodiments, the first and second mating members 190 and 195 can have other shapes and/or configurations. For example, the first mating member 190 can include three spaced-apart ribs with two channels sized and configured to receive the ribs 198 a-b of the second mating member 195. In additional embodiments, the first and second mating members 190 and 195 can include a configuration similar to the sealing mechanism on zipper bags or ZiplocŪ bags.

FIG. 6 is a schematic top plan view of the resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 with the object 2 disposed in the bag 160. The illustrated bag 160 has a generally rectangular configuration with a width W and a length L. The width W can be greater than or less than the length L of the bag 160. In the illustrated embodiment, the first mating member 190 extends across the width W of the bag 160 from the first edge 168 a to the third edge 168 c of the first panel 164, and the second mating member 195 extends across the width W of the bag 160 from the first edge 178 a to the third edge 178 c of the second panel 174. Accordingly, when the first and second mating members 190 and 195 engage each other, they form a seal across the open end 162 of the bag 160.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating one method of sealing, opening, and resealing the vacuum packaging bag 160. Referring to FIGS. 2, 6, and 7, at block 200, the object 2 to be vacuum packaged is deposited in the interior region 184 of the bag 160. At block 202, the open end 162 of the bag 160 is positioned in the first chamber portion 126 of the base 120 and the lid 140 is closed to form the vacuum chamber around the open end 162 of the bag 160. At block 204, the vacuum packaging appliance 110 evacuates gas from the interior region 184 of the bag 160 through the channels 175 (FIG. 4). At block 206, after the gas is evacuated, the heating element 128 heats a heat seal zone 186 of the bag 160 to bond the heat sealable layers 182 a-b together to at least substantially hermetically seal the interior region 184 of the bag 160. The heat seal zone 186 extends from the first edges 168 a and 178 a to the third edges 168 c and 178 c and is located between the first and second mating members 190 and 195 and the fourth edges 168 d and 178 d. At block 208, after the bag 160 has been evacuated and thermally sealed, the bag 160 and the object 2 can be stored. At block 210, the bag 160 is cut along a line A1-A1 between the first and second mating members 190 and 195 and the heat seal zone 186 to open the bag 160 and access the object 2. At block 212, the bag 160 can be subsequently resealed and reopened by engaging and disengaging the first and second mating members 190 and 195, as described above with reference to FIG. 5.

In other embodiments, the bag can have a first open end and a second open end opposite the first open end. The first open end of the bag can be thermally sealed with the vacuum packaging appliance 110. The first and second mating members can be positioned proximate to the second open end to selectively seal the second open end of the bag.

One feature of the resealable vacuum packaging bag 160 of the illustrated embodiment is that the bag 160 can be resealed and reopened repeatedly without consuming and/or damaging the bag 160. An advantage of this feature is that the life of the bag 160 is significantly extended, and accordingly, the cost associated with replacing the bag 160 is reduced. Prior art vacuum packaging bags do not include integral mating members, and accordingly, the bags must be resealed thermally. Each time a prior art bag is thermally sealed, the bag must be cut to be opened. Cutting damages and consumes a portion of the bag, and therefore, thermally sealed prior art bags have a limited life and must be replaced frequently.

D. Other Embodiments of Resealable Vacuum Packaging Bags

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a resealable vacuum packaging bag 360 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The illustrated bag 360 includes a first panel 364, a second panel 374 coupled to the first panel 364, an interior region 384 between the first and second panels 364 and 374, and an open end 362. The first panel 364 includes a first edge 368 a and a second edge 368 b opposite the first edge 368 a, and the second panel 374 includes a first edge 378 a and a second edge 378 b opposite the first edge 378 a. In the illustrated embodiment, the first and second panels 364 and 374 can be thermally sealed across a heat seal zone 386 to hermetically seal the interior region 384 of the bag 360. The heat seal zone 386 can be proximate to the open end 362 and extend from the first edges 368 a and 378 a to the second edges 368 b and 378 b. In other embodiments, the heat seal zone 386 can have other shapes and/or orientations.

In the illustrated embodiment, the first panel 364 further includes an opening 361 through which the interior region 384 of the bag 360 can be accessed. The opening 361 can be selectively closed to at least substantially seal the bag 360, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 9. In the illustrated embodiment, the opening 361 extends between the first edge 368 a and the second edge 368 b and is proximate to the heat seal zone 386. In other embodiments, the opening 361 can have other sizes and/or orientations.

FIG. 9 is a schematic cross-sectional side view of a portion of the bag 360 of FIG. 8 taken generally along the line 9-9. In the illustrated embodiment, the first panel 364 includes a first portion 364 a and a second portion 364 b spaced apart from the first portion 364 a. The bag 360 further includes a first mating member 390 coupled to the first portion 364 a and a second mating member 395 coupled to the second portion 364 b. The first and second mating members 390 and 395 are sized and configured to selectively engage each other to close the opening 361 and seal the interior region 384 of the bag 360. In the illustrated embodiment, the first mating member 390 includes a base portion 391 and a rib 392 projecting from the base portion 391. The second mating member 395 includes a base portion 396 and two spaced-apart ribs 398 (identified individually as 398 a-b) projecting from the base portion 396. The ribs 398 a-b define a channel 397 sized and configured to removably receive the rib 392 of the first mating member 390.

In one aspect of this embodiment, the rib 392 of the first mating member 390 includes a neck 393 and a head 394 projecting from the neck 393. The neck 393 can have a width W1, and the head 394 can have a width W2 greater than the width W1 of the neck 393. The ribs 398 of the second mating member 395 can also include corresponding heads 399 (identified individually as 399 a-b) spaced apart by a distance approximately equal to the width W1 of the neck 393. In this embodiment, the ribs 398 a-b of the second mating member 395 can be made of a flexible material to allow the head 394 of the first mating member 390 to move between the heads 399 a-b and into or out of the channel 397. Because the width W2 of the head 394 of the first mating member 390 is greater than the distance between the heads 399 a-b of the second mating member 395, the first and second mating members 390 and 395 remain engaged until an external force is applied to disengage them. In other embodiments, the first and second mating members 390 and 395 can have other configurations to selectively seal the interior region 384 of the bag 360.

The resealable vacuum packaging bag 360 of the illustrated embodiment can be evacuated, thermally sealed, and subsequently opened and resealed repeatedly by engaging and disengaging the first and second mating members 390 and 395. The bag 360 is opened by exerting a force in a direction S on the first portion 364 a to disengage the first and second mating members 390 and 395 and separate the first portion 364 a from the second portion 364 b. Once the first and second mating members 390 and 395 are disengaged and the first portion 364 a is separated from the second portion 364 b (as shown in broken lines), the interior region 384 of the bag 360 can be accessed through the opening 361 to place objects into or remove objects from the bag 360. The bag 360 can be subsequently closed and sealed by engaging the first and second mating members 390 and 395.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8430244Nov 30, 2007Apr 30, 2013Doug KennedySystems and methods for electrical storage device isolation
WO2006095945A1 *Jul 12, 2005Sep 14, 2006Cse Co LtdVacuum packing back equipped with zipper and usage thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/434
International ClassificationB65D33/00, B65B31/02
Cooperative ClassificationB65B31/024, B65D33/00, B65B31/046
European ClassificationB65D33/00, B65B31/04E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 12, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: TILIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ALBRITTON, CHARLES WADE;WU, HONGYU;BRAKES, DAVID;REEL/FRAME:015882/0894
Effective date: 20040924