US 20050035134 A1
A threader for a wipe dispenser to withdraw the initial wipe from the container. The threader has a base that attaches over the opening in the cap of the dispenser and includes a stem and a pair of arms extending down into the container. The threader is inserted into the container within a roll of wipes. When the threader is pulled from the container the arms contact the innermost wipe and pull the wipe through the cap opening.
1- A wipe dispenser comprising:
a roll of pre-moistened wipes having an inner diameter;
a container enclosing said roll of pre-moistened wipes, said container having an opening for dispensing said wipes;
a threader removably attached to said opening, said threader closing said opening, and including a stem, a first arm, and a second arm, said stem extending into said container through said inner diameter of said roll; and
a snag on said first arm;
said first and second arms flexibly attached to said stem and folded back towards said stem to fit inside said inner diameter of said roll, such that when said threader is removed from said opening, said arms engage said inner diameter of said roll and flex outwards, said snag catching on a sheet of said wipes and pulling said sheet through said opening.
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8- A threader for dispensing the initial wipe of a roll of wipes from a conventional wipe dispensing container comprising:
an opening for dispensing the wipes;
a stem having a first end and a second end;
a base on said first end interfitting with said opening of said wipe dispensing container, said base preventing the threader from falling into said container;
a grip on said base opposite said stem, said grip allowing a user to grab and pull the threader;
first and second arms attached to said second end of said stem, said arms each attached to said stem such that when the threader is inserted into the wipe dispensing container said arms fold back against said stem to pass through the opening and when said stem passes into the inner diameter of the roll of wipes and said arms flex to fit the inner diameter of the roll; and
a snag on said first arm, said snag capable of catching at least one wipe from the inner diameter of the roll such that when the threader is pulled out of the wipe dispensing container said first and second arms engage the inner diameter of the roll and press out against the roll, said snag catching said at least one wipe, said arms flexing downward to fit through said opening, said snag pulling said at least one wipe from the container as the threader is removed from the container.
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14- A wipe dispensing container comprising:
a cap attached to said container, having an opening for dispensing wipes;
a threader removably attached to said opening; and
threading means for threading an initial wipe through said opening when said threader is manually removed from said opening.
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25- A sheet dispenser comprising:
a generally cylindrical container having an end defining an opening;
a generally cylindrical roll of continuously connected sheets within said container; and
a threader including a stem extending through said opening and into said roll, said threader further including a handle portion connected to a first portion of said stem outside said container, said threader further including a sheet-grasping means connected to a second portion of said stem inside said container and within said roll for engaging and retaining at least one of said sheets as said threader is withdrawn from said container.
26- A threader for withdrawing a portion of a continuous coil of sheets from a container through an opening in the container, said threader comprising:
an elongated stem having an upper portion and a lower portion;
a manually graspable device connected to said upper portion of said stem; and
a pair of opposed arms each having a first end hingedly connected to said lower portion of said stem and a second end, at least one of said second ends including a snagging means (a) for snagging the portion of the coil of sheets when the threader is moved in a first direction within the container and (b) for avoiding snagging the portion of the coil of sheets when the threader is moved in a second direction within the container.
27- A sheet dispenser kit comprising:
a container defining an opening;
a coil of sheets within said container; and
a threader capable of insertion into and withdrawal from said container through said opening, said threader including a grasping portion, said grasping portion adapted to slide along said coil as said threader is inserted into said container, said grasping portion adapted to grasp a portion of said coil as said threader is withdrawn from said container.
The present invention relates generally to containers for dispensing pre-moistened wipes, and more particularly to a device for threading an initial wipe through the opening of the wipe dispenser.
Wipe dispensers have long been well known in the art of pre-moistened wipes, especially baby wipes, and have recently become well known for use with similar products such as hand wipes and wipes for car washing. A typical wipe dispenser consists of a container, often cylindrical in shape, with a cap attached to one end. The cap generally includes a small opening that allows a user to pull wipes through the opening without having to remove the entire cap and reach into the container. To increase the ease of dispensing the wipes, the wipes are generally joined together inside the container in roll form or accordion form so that once a first wipe has been pulled through the opening, each additional wipe will consequently follow through the opening. Lines of weakening separate the wipes, and consequently the pulled wipe tears from the web as the wipe clears the opening. This leaves the next wipe exposed and eliminates the need to open the cap and pull each individual wipe through the opening.
A typical wipe dispensing container such as that described above is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,364,101 to Shultz.
The difficulty in conventional prior art dispensers such as that shown above is the process of removing the initial wipe. Generally, when a consumer purchases a conventional wipe dispenser the entire roll of wipes is inside the container. This means that to access the initial wipe, the user must remove the cap and reach into the container to pull out the first wipe in the roll. Not only can it be difficult to find the location of the first wipe on the inner diameter of the roll while reaching inside of the container, it is equally cumbersome to thread the first wipe through the opening in the cap before reattaching the cap to the container.
In some cases, manufacturers have attempted to solve this problem by threading the initial wipe through the cap opening before the container is purchased by the consumer. These designs generally utilize the secondary cap 20 (
The aforementioned difficulties are overcome by the present invention wherein a threader is provided for a conventional wipe dispenser to dispense the initial wipe from the container. In a preferred embodiment, the threader has a base that attaches over the opening in the cap and includes a stem and a pair of arms extending down into the container. The stem extends straight down from the base through the inner diameter of a roll of pre-moistened wipes. A pair of arms are flexibly attached to the end of the stem, preferably with a hook on the end of one or both of the arms. The base includes a finger loop opposite the stem and exterior to the container so that a user may grip the loop and remove the threader from the container.
In another preferred embodiment, the base fits over the opening of a conventional wipe dispenser cap, and can be removably attached over the opening. The stem is attached on the lower side of the base, and a device for gripping the threader is attached on the upper side. The gripping device is preferably a finger loop, which is a ring that a user can either grab or place a finger through in order to pull up on the threader for removal. The finger loop is external to the container when the base is attached.
In another preferred embodiment, the stem extends into the inner diameter of the roll, and a pair of arms is flexibly attached to the stem. The arms are preferably attached to the stem by flexible rods that allow the arms to flex from a first position folded back against the stem, to a second equilibrium position where the angle between the arms and the stem is such that the arms contact the inner diameter of the wipes, to a third position folded completely downward. In another preferred embodiment, there is a hook at the end of one of the arms. The point of the hook faces the stem when the arms are in the first position. A number of barbs are located on the outer surface of the hook to increase the friction between the arm and the inner diameter of the wipes.
In another preferred embodiment, the threader is inserted into the container by the manufacturer. When the threader is inserted, the arms flex back towards the stem to fit through the opening in the cap. The stem and arms extend into the container through the inner diameter of the roll and the base is removably attached over the opening. Upon first use, the consumer pulls on the finger loop to remove the threader from the container. As the stem is drawn upwardly, the arms contact the roll and the friction between the roll and the arms forces the arms to flex away from the stem, pressing out on the roll. As the arms press on the roll, the hook on the first arm catches on the inner layered wipe in the roll. As the threader is withdrawn from the container, the arms flex completely downward to fit back through the opening with the initial wipe caught on the hook. The hook may then be removed from the wipe and the threader discarded.
The present invention is capable of dispensing the initial wipe from a wipe dispensing container such that the consumer does not have to remove the cap, reach into the container, or thread the first wipe through the opening in the cap. The present invention therefore greatly eases the wipe dispensing process and also saves time in accessing the first wipe. The amount of flex provided by the flexible bars can be adjusted in the manufacturing process to accommodate any type of wipe material, so that the threader only catches on the inner layered wipe.
These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be readily understood and appreciated by reference to the detailed description of the preferred embodiment and the drawings.
A wipe dispenser in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in
The present invention is shown in
The threader 38 is preferably molded from a conventional thermoplastic or other suitable material. Shown in
The stem 42 is a plastic rod that is attached normal to the base 40 opposite the finger loop 68. A pair of arms 44 and 46 are hingedly attached to opposite sides of the lower end of the stem 50. When the base 40 is attached over the opening 54, the stem 42 extends down into the container 34 through the inner diameter 56 such that the arms 44 and 46 are below the upper edge 55 of the wipes 32. The arms 44 and 46 are preferably plastic rods that extend normal to the stem 42, with the combined length of both arms 44 and 46 substantially larger than the inner diameter 56 of the roll 32. Referring now to
In operation, a roll of wipes 32 is placed in the container 34 by a manufacturer, and the cap 36 is then secured onto the container 34. The manufacturer then attaches the threader 38 by inserting it into the container 34 through the opening 54. When inserting the threader 38 into the container 34, the manufacturer aligns the lower end 70 of the stem 42 with the opening 54 and simply pushes the stem 42 and arms 44 and 46 through the opening 54 so that the arms 44 and 46 fold back towards the stem 42 to fit through the opening 54. The threader 38 is pushed into the container until the base 40 engages the opening 54 and is conventionally attached.
After the wipe dispenser 30 has been purchased, the consumer gains access to an initial wipe by removing the threader 38 from the container 34. To start, the consumer opens the secondary cap 20 and grips or inserts a finger through the finger loop 68 and pulls it out of the container 34. As the threader 38 is pulled from the container 34, friction is created between the arms 44 and 46 and the inner diameter 56 of the wipes 32. The barbs 84 help to increase this friction to a point where the arms 44 and 46 are drawn outward from the stem 42 as the stem 42 is pulled up. Shown in
Finally, as shown in
IV. Alternative Embodiments
In alternative embodiments, the hook 52 may be replaced with any number of designs that will catch on a single wipe and pull it from the container 32. For example,
In a second alternative embodiment, the threader is not disposable and does not attach to the wipe dispensing container. In this embodiment, a consumer would simply use the threader with a pre-existing wipe dispenser to achieve the same result as in the preferred embodiment. After purchasing a conventional wipe dispenser containing a roll of wipes, the consumer would push the threader through the opening in the same manner described above, and then immediately pull the threader out of the opening to expose the initial wipe. In this embodiment, the threader could be saved and reused with any number of pre-existing wipe dispensers.
In a third alternative embodiment, the wipe dispenser does not include a removable cap. Because the present invention allows a user to access the wipes without reaching into the container, it is possible to have a container that completely encloses the wipes except for a wipe dispensing opening in the container.
The above descriptions are those of preferred embodiments of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents. Any reference to claim elements in the singular, for example, using the articles “a,” “an,” “the” or “said,” is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.