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Publication numberUS20050069227 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/954,153
Publication dateMar 31, 2005
Filing dateSep 29, 2004
Priority dateSep 29, 2003
Publication number10954153, 954153, US 2005/0069227 A1, US 2005/069227 A1, US 20050069227 A1, US 20050069227A1, US 2005069227 A1, US 2005069227A1, US-A1-20050069227, US-A1-2005069227, US2005/0069227A1, US2005/069227A1, US20050069227 A1, US20050069227A1, US2005069227 A1, US2005069227A1
InventorsMark Steele
Original AssigneeMark Steele
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flexible package having integrated slit member
US 20050069227 A1
Abstract
A flexible package having front, back, and bottom panel portions (preferably gusseted). The front and back panel portions each preferably include longitudinal edges that can be joined together to create respective side seals. Each of the respective side seals can include a slit portion having a slit member. The slit member preferably includes a detachment portion and an anchor portion. The detachment portion of the slit member is detachable from a portion of the side seal to provide a tie or a looped handle for use in tying and/or handling the flexible package. The anchor portion provides support and reinforcement to prevent complete detachment of the slit member.
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Claims(36)
1. A flexible package comprising:
a plurality of generally flexible panel portions defining an inner cavity capable of holding material contents, the plurality of flexible panels comprising:
a front panel portion having first and second generally parallel longitudinal edge portions;
a back panel portion having first and second generally parallel longitudinal edge portions, the first and second generally parallel longitudinal edge portions of the front and back panel portions being joinable to define the inner cavity; and
at least one slit member being provided to at least a portion of one of the generally parallel longitudinal edge portions, the slit member having an anchor portion and at least one land portion such that a portion of the at least one slit member remains attached to the flexible package at the anchor portion and a portion of the at least one slit member proximate the at least one land portion is detachable from the flexible package.
2. The flexible package of claim 1, further including a bottom panel portion extending between the front and back panel portions.
3. The flexible package of claim 2, wherein the bottom panel portion is gusseted to facilitate generally upright standing of the front and back panel portions.
4. The flexible package of claim 1, further including at least one re-closeable device disposed to at least the front panel portion to provide re-closeable access to the cavity.
5. The flexible package of claim 4, wherein the re-closeable device is a re-closeable zipper device.
6. The flexible package of claim 1, wherein the at least one land is a perforated region in the flexible package.
7. The flexible package of claim 1, wherein the generally parallel longitudinal edges portions are joinable to define at least one side seal, the at least one slit member being partially provided with the at least one side seal.
8. The flexible package of claim 4, wherein at least one of the anchor portions is shaped to facilitate reinforcement of the slit member with the at least one of the longitudinal edge portions.
9. The flexible package of claim 1, wherein the at least one slit member includes at least one aperture extending therethrough to facilitate handling of the flexible package.
10. The flexible package of claim 1, wherein the at least one slit member is provided along at least a portion of the longitudinal edge portions and a bottom edge portion of at least one of the front and back panel portions to form a generally looped handle portion.
11. The flexible package of claim 1, wherein the at least one slit member is provided on at least a portion of the longitudinal edge portions and a top edge portion of at least one of the front and back panel portions to form a generally looped handle portion.
12. A flexible package comprising:
at least one web material formable to define an inner cavity capable of holding material contents, wherein the at least one web material comprises:
a front panel portion;
a back panel portion, wherein the front and the back panel portions are joined together to define at least two generally parallel longitudinal side seals, wherein at least the front panel portion has an access opening to facilitate access to the cavity; and
at least one slit portion being formed along at least a portion of one of the side seals to provide at least one slit member, the slit member having an anchor portion and at least one land portion such that a portion of the at least one slit member remains attached to the flexible package at the anchor portion and a portion of the at least one slit member proximate the at least one land portion is detachable from the flexible package.
13. The flexible package of claim 12, further including a bottom panel portion extending between the front and back panel portions.
14. The flexible package of claim, 13, wherein the bottom panel portion is gusseted to facilitate generally upright standing of the front and back panel portions.
15. The flexible package of claim 13, wherein the bottom panel portion and at least one of the front and back panel portions form a bottom edge portion, wherein the at least one slit member is provided with the at least two side seals and the bottom seal to define a looped handle portion.
16. The flexible package of claim 12, further including at least one re-closeable device disposed about the access opening to provide re-closeable access to the cavity.
17. The flexible package of claim 16, wherein the re-closeable device is a re-closeable zipper device.
18. The flexible package of claim 12, wherein the at least one land is a perforated region in the flexible package.
19. The flexible package of claim 12, wherein the at least one land is one member in communication with the at least one slit member and at least one of the side seals to facilitates detachment of a portion of the at least one slit member from the flexible package.
20. The flexible package of claim 12, wherein the at least one anchor portion is shaped to facilitate reinforcement of the at least one slit member to at least one of the side seals.
21. The flexible package of claim 12, further including a reinforcement member provided with the at least one anchor portion to facilitate reinforcement of the at least one slit member to at least one of the side seals.
22. The flexible package of claim 12, wherein the at least one slit member includes at least one aperture extending therethrough to facilitate handling of the flexible package.
23. The flexible package of claim 12, wherein the at least one slit member is provided on at least a portion of the two side seals and a top edge portion of at least one of the front and back panel portions to form a generally looped handle portion.
24. The flexible package of claim 12, further including at least two generally parallel side panel portions extending between the front and back panel portions.
25. The flexible package of claim 24, wherein the at least two side panel portions are gusseted.
26. A method of forming a flexible package with at least one integrated slit member member, the method comprising the steps of:
providing a roll of flexible front panel web material to a package forming machine, wherein the front panel web material includes at least two generally parallel longitudinal edges, and at least one bottom edge disposed generally transverse to the at least two generally parallel longitudinal edges, wherein the at least two generally parallel longitudinal edges include a sealant surface portion;
providing a roll of flexible back panel web material to a package forming machine, wherein the back panel web material includes at least two generally parallel longitudinal edge portions, and at least one bottom edge portion disposed generally transverse to the at least two generally parallel longitudinal edge portions, wherein the at least two generally parallel longitudinal edge portions include a sealant surface portion;
feeding the flexible front and back panel web material into and through the package forming machine along a machining path into an alignment station of the package forming machine for alignment such that the sealant surface portions of the generally parallel longitudinal edge portions of the front and back panel web material are generally confronting;
joining the at least one bottom edge portion of the front and back panel web material by feeding the front and back panel web material through at least one first seal station of the package forming machine, wherein the joined bottom edge portions defines at least one bottom seal;
joining the generally parallel longitudinal edge portions of the front and back panel web material by feeding the front and back panel web material through at least one side seal station, wherein the joined generally parallel longitudinal edge portions define at least two side seals; and
forming at least one slit member by feeding the front and back panel web material into a die-cut station, wherein the die-cut station perforates at least a portion of at least one of the two side seals to define the at least one slit member member, and wherein at least one anchor portion secures the at least one slit member to at least one of the front and back panels.
27. The method of claim 26, further including the steps of:
feeding a roll of flexible bottom back panel web material into the package forming machine;
feeding the bottom panel web material into an aligning station, wherein the bottom panel web material is aligned at an end portion of the front and back panel web material; and
joining the bottom panel web material to the end portions of the front and back panel web material.
28. The method of claim 27, further including the step of gusseting the bottom panel web material.
29. The method of claim 26, wherein the step of providing a roll of flexible front panel web material includes providing a roll of flexible front panel web material with a generally integral re-closeable device to facilitate access to an inner cavity of the formed package.
30. The method of claim 26, wherein the step of forming at least one slit member includes perforating a portion of the two side seals to define at least two slit members.
31. The method of claim 26, further including the step of joining corresponding top edges of the front and back panel web material to define a top seal and perforating at least a portion of the top seal and at least a portion of the two side seals to define a handle portion having a general loop shape.
32. The method of claim 26, wherein the step of forming the at least one slit member further includes the step of forming at least one land region extending between the at least one slit member and the corresponding side seal.
33. The method of claim 31, further including the step of removing at least a portion of the top seal to gain access into an inner cavity of the formed package.
34. The method of claim 26, further including the step of forming an aperture in the at least one slit member to facilitate handling of the formed flexible package.
35. A flexible package capable of holding material contents, the flexible package comprising:
a plurality of flexible web material portions including at least a front panel portion and a back panel portion defining an inner cavity, wherein each of the front and the back panel portions include generally parallel longitudinal edge portions; and
at least one slit member provided along at least a portion of at least one of the generally parallel longitudinal edge portions and a top edge portion of at least one of the front and back panel portion, the at least one slit member defined by at least a portion of a perforated region, wherein the perforated region is removable to define a handle for the flexible package.
36. The flexible package of claim 35, further including a re-closable device being disposed to one of the plurality of web material portions to provide re-closeable access to the inner cavity.
Description
Related Applications

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/506,912 filed Sep. 29, 2003, entitled, “FLEXIBLE PACKAGE HAVING INTEGRATED SLIT”, which is fully incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to flexible packaging and, more particularly, to flexible packaging having at least one slit member formed and integrated therein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional flexible packages generally include integrated closeable devices, sliding means, or other devices designed to allow a user to selectively gain access into the pouch or package. Other simpler packages can come with external, non-integrated, twist ties and other tying means. In use, an end user must pinch or compress an open-end portion of the applicable package such that a twist tie is wrapped around the pinched area to provide selective closure.

Such simplistic tying techniques lack meaningful application in storage and handling of materials such as food, liquid, and the like. In addition, durability and efficiency is lacking as twist ties can become undesirably detached and lost. Further, unattached and distinct twist ties are often stored remote from the flexible packages thus imposing potential inconveniences on the user. Traditional twist ties are also often too short to accommodate storage and handling functions. Traditional twist ties and techniques lack flexibility for use as handles.

As a result, there is a need for a flexible package that substantially solves the above-referenced problems with conventional package designs, configurations, and manufacturing methods.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention solves many of the problems that plague conventional flexible packages and packaging methods. Embodiments of the present invention are directed to a package generally including at least one slit, tie and/or handle member formed or integrated therein. The flexible package can include front and back panels. Further, a bottom panel can be included. Any of the panels can be gusseted or otherwise formed with the processes and techniques known to one skilled in the art.

In one embodiment, the package of the present invention includes a front panel, a back panel, and a bottom panel (preferably gusseted). The front and back panels can be sealed together at longitudinal edges of the same front and back panels to create respective side seals. Each of the side seals for the front and back panels can include a slit portion having a slit member or a slit member may be disposed generally adjacent to each of the side seals. The slit member can follow or extend along at least a portion of the longitudinal length of the side seals to define a detachment portion and an anchor portion. In use, the detachment portion of the slit member is detachable from the side seal to provide a tie for use in handling and tying the flexible package. The anchor portion of the slit member provides support and reinforcement such that employment of the slit member will be limited to the released detachment portion. As such, complete removal of the at least one slit member from the longitudinal edge(s) is limited up to the anchor portion. However, alternative embodiments can provide means of providing complete detachment of the slit member at or proximate the anchor portion to allow complete removal for use in tying the opening of the package. As such, a temporary slit member would be attached or integrated with the package until use. The slit member of the present invention can be utilized to selectively re-usably close or pinch off the flexible package opening. In addition, the slit member or slits can be utilized for hanging of the package for use, filling, and handling.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated slit members.

FIG. 1 a is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated slit members.

FIG. 1 b is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members.

FIG. 1 c is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having an integrated loop handle slit with a top access device.

FIG. 1 d is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having an integrated and detached single loop handle slit with a top access device.

FIG. 1 e is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members tied off to contain an object therein.

FIG. 1 f is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having a cut out portion for forming an integrated and detached single loop handle.

FIG. 1 g is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having an integrated and detached single loop handle.

FIG. 1 h is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having front and back panel portions spaced generally apart for joinder.

FIG. 1 i is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having an integrated loop handle slit member formed on a seal portion. Crosshatching is provided for generally indicating the seal portions.

FIG. 1 j is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible package having an integrated and detached single loop handle slit member formed on a seal portion. Crosshatching is provided for generally indicating the seal portions.

FIG. 2 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members having a length generally less than a total length of the flexible package.

FIG. 3 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated slit members having a length generally equal to a length of the flexible package.

FIG. 4 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members having a length generally equal to a length of the flexible package.

FIG. 5 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated slit members and a bottom seal portion.

FIG. 6 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members and a bottom seal portion.

FIG. 7 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated slit members with a transverse access device and/or reinforcement strip.

FIG. 8 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members with a transverse access device and/or reinforcement strip.

FIG. 9 is a front view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members with at least one hanging aperture therethrough.

FIG. 10 is a side view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members.

FIG. 11 is a top view of one embodiment of a flexible package having integrated and detached slit members.

FIG. 12 depicts one embodiment of the feed, alignment, and folding stations for a method of manufacturing or forming a flexible package having integrated and detachable slit members.

FIG. 13 depicts one embodiment of the first seal, side seal, cooling, die-cut, and cut-off stations for a method of manufacturing or forming a flexible package having integrated and detachable slit members.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1-11, a flexible package 10 in accordance with the present invention is shown. The package 10 generally includes a front panel portion 12, a back panel portion 14 and at least one slit portion 30. Further, a bottom panel portion 15, gusseted or non-gusseted, can be included, especially in those embodiments defining a stand up package. The joining and/or shaping of the panel portions 12, 14, 15, generally define an inner cavity 19 having an adjustable internal volumetric capacity. The panel portions 12-15 are often referred to as “webs.”

The package panel portions 12-15 are generally constructed of flexible sheet material such as polyethylene, polyester, metal foil, polypropylene, or polyethylenes laminated with other materials such as nylon, polyester, and other materials known to one skilled in the art. To provide for higher barriers, embodiments can use combination layers or laminates of said materials, and material of the like. Generally, in such embodiments, a material having preferred sealing characteristics can be joined or bonded to a material having a different preferred characteristic (i.e., beneficial oxygen barrier properties). Preferably, the package of the present invention is to be formed into a stand-up pouch, but it could be a pouch that displays lying down, or in other package and pouch shapes and configurations known to one skilled in the art.

In one embodiment the front panel portion 12 and the back panel portion 14 will be formed of one contiguous web material. In alternative embodiments, at least one of the panel portions 12-15 can be distinct web materials joined or sealed to other respective panel portions to form the package 10 of the present invention. For instance, the front panel portion 12 and the back panel portion 14 can be joined to each other from distinct non-contiguous web sheets of material, and one of the panel portions 12-14 can further extend to define the bottom panel portion 15. The bottom panel portion 15 in the various configurations forming a stand up pouch can include a gusset known to those skilled in the art to further promote operative expansion and contraction of the package 10 and its respective capacity in accordance with the receipt and removal of material within the package 10.

Referring to FIG. 1 h, the front panel portion 12 generally includes a first front longitudinal edge 20 and a second front longitudinal edge 22. Both of the panel edges 20, 22 are substantially parallel to each other and extend generally along the longitudinal length of the front panel portion 12. Likewise, the back panel portion 14 can include a first back longitudinal edge 24 and a second back longitudinal edge 26, also substantially parallel to each other and spanning the longitudinal length of the back panel portion 14.

In one embodiment, the first front longitudinal edge 20 can be sealably joined to the first back longitudinal edge 24 along the length of the edges 20, 24 to form a first side seal 16. Similarly, the second front longitudinal edge 22 can be sealably joined to the second back longitudinal edge 26 along the length of edges 22, 26 to form a second side seal 18. These side seals 16, 18 generally define the side boundaries of the package 10 and can be sealably joined using heat, adhesive, and other bonding techniques known to one of ordinary skill in the art.

Each of the side seals 16, 18 define the material comprising the slit portions 30, 40 of the present invention. As illustrated in FIGS. 1, 1 b-c, le, and 2-10 generally, the first side seal 16 can include a first slit portion 30 and the second side seal 18 can include a second slit portion 40. As described herein, the slit portions 30, 40 are defined by cutting, perforating, or otherwise shaping or forming a portion of the side seals 16, 18, or the material proximate the side seals or edges to include detachable slit members in accordance with the present invention. The first slit portion 30 can generally include a first slit member 32 having a detachment portion 34 tethered to the first and/or second side seals 16, 18 by an anchor portion 36. Likewise, the second slit portion 40 can generally include a second slit member 42 having a detachment portion 44 and an anchor portion 46. The slit portions 30, 40 can extend along substantially the entire longitudinal length of the side seals 16, 18, as shown in FIGS. 3-4, or along a length short of the entire longitudinal length of the side seals 16, 18, such as those embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-2, and 5-6. Further, as illustrated in FIG. 9, each of the detachment portions 34, 44 can include at least one hanging/handling aperture 35, 45 to facilitate hanging of the package 10 by the slit members 32, 44.

The slit members 32, 42 can be formed from the side seals 16, 18 utilizing die-cutting and other techniques known to one of ordinary skill in the art. Regardless, the slit members 32, 42 are adapted to add tying, hanging and/or handling functionality to the package 10. The detachment portions 34, 44 are selectively detachable from the side seals 16, 18 up to a termination point at the respective anchor portions 36, 46. The anchor portions 36, 46 can be reinforced or formed in a predefined shape to increase strength and durability of the slit members 32, 43 during use. For instance, in one embodiment, the anchor portions 36, 46 are formed in an arcuate or spiral shape to reinforce the slit members 32, 42 and limit complete detachment of the slit members 32, 42 during operational tugging or hanging of the slit members, as shown in FIGS. 1-6. In another embodiment, an additional reinforcement material 13 can be placed or bonded to the anchor portions 36, 46 to limit undesirable detachment from operational forces on the slit members 32, 42. The reinforcement material 13 can be applied with a continuous strip, relatively small and targeted patch portions of material, and like applications to protect and reinforce the anchor portions 36, 46.

In yet another embodiment, a re-closeable access device 50 can be integrated or attached to the panels 12, 14 in substantial alignment with the anchor portions 36, 46, as best shown in FIGS. 7-8. As such, the ends of the access device 50 can be crushed and/or joined at its end region to the anchor portions 36, 46 to increase the material thickness and durability to substantially eliminate tearing of the slit members 32, 42 away from the side seals 16, 18 as a result of operational forces. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,909,017, 5,972,396, 5,461,845, 5,672,009, 5,782,733, 5,902,047, 5,954,433, and 6,177,172 are directed to some exemplary re-closeable devices, and other features and techniques for flexible packaging, and are therefore incorporated herein by reference.

In addition to the incorporated access devices, known zipper devices for providing selective access in through the top of the package 10 are also envisioned for use with the present invention, as shown in FIG. 1 a-1 b. Conventional “peel seals” known to one skilled in the art can also be implemented in conjunction with access devices 50. Furthermore, any other known package access devices (e.g., spouts, tear slits, adhesives, etc.) can be used as well without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The anchor reinforcement 13, alternatively can include external devices or reinforcement techniques. For instance, reinforcement clips, rivets, button devices, metal or plastic members, and like devices proximate or joined to the anchor portions 36, 46 on the outside of the package 10 can limit tearing of the package 10 at the anchor portion 36, 46 during operation and strain. In addition, a hole could be punched in a portion of the anchor portions 36, 46 to provide a breaking point for any line or tear on the anchor portions 36, 46, from the slit members 32, 42, during use. Yet another embodiment can simply include additional heat bonding to the package material at a target point on or around the anchor portions 36, 46 to further reinforce the bond and limit tearing during operation.

Further, the length of the slit portions 30, 40 defining the length of the slit members 32, 42 can include at least one perforations and/or designated land regions 33 (FIG. 1) at predefined locations along a length of the side seals 16, 18 to further increase usability. For instance, it may be desirable to limit detachment of the slit members 32, 42 away from the respective side seals 16, 18 until the actual time of use. A plurality of perforations, land regions 33, and/or tabs along at least a limited portion of the slit members 32, 42 provide temporary connectivity. The detachment portions 34, 44 of the slit members 32, 42 remain attached to the side seals 16, 18 at these perforations, land regions or tabs until the time of use. At the time of use, the user simply applies a measurable level of pulling force on the detachment portions 34, 44 to disengage or tear the slit members 32, 42 from the side seals 16, 18 at the perforations or land regions, up to the point of the anchor portions 36, 46. As such, entanglement or tearing of the slit members 32, 42 is substantially eliminated during formation of the package, shipping, and the like.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 1 c-1 d, the package 10 of the present invention is shown with a single loop slit member/handle 48. With such a package 10, the slit portions generally include the first slit portion 30, the second slit portion 40, and a bottom slit portion 41. Alternatively, the bottom slit portion 41 can be incorporated into the top or other end of the package 10 to create a handle at the top of the package rather than the bottom, as further described below. The slit member/handle 48 can serve as a single loop handle 48, and/or it can be subsequently torn, cut, or otherwise disjoined somewhere along its length to provide the two slit members 32, 42 of other embodiments. The bottom slit portion 41 is formed in the bottom portion of the package 10 along a bottom seal 43 of the package 10. The bottom seal 43 is generally proximate the bottom panel portion 15. The bottom slit portion 41 is in material communication with the other slit portions 30, 40 to enable the single slit member/handle 48 cutout beginning at the anchor portion 36 for the first slit portion 30, extending to the bottom slit portion 41, and on to termination at the anchor portion 46 of the second slit portion 40. The single loop slit member/handle 48 provides an integrated unitary handle, rather than the two distinct slit members 32, 42 of other embodiments. This handle can facilitate pouring, handling, storage, filling, and the like. The die cutting of the slit portions 30, 40, and 41 during formation of the package creates a continuous unitary handle 48 integrated into the package. In alternative embodiments, the two distinct slit members 32, 42 can be tied together at their detached end portions to form a single loop slit member/handle 48.

An alternative embodiment of the loop slit member/handle 48 package is shown in FIGS. 1 f-1 g and 1 i-1 j. In such an embodiment a loop handle 48 is cut into a top portion of the package 10 (proximate the opening), rather than the bottom seal 43 disclosed above. This embodiment can be implemented in stand up pouches, lay down pouches, side fill pouches, and a myriad of other package configurations known to one skilled in the art. The package 10 of FIGS. 1 f-1 g and 1 i-1 j generally includes a top seal 92, a die cut line or perforation 94, a handle portion 96, a tear notch 98, and a cut out portion 100. The manufacturing process for the package 10 formation will include, at the die cut section, a cut or perforation generally as depicted with cut 94 in FIG. 1 f. Upon initiation of the cut 98, a portion of the top seal 92 below the cut 94 defines the cut out or removable portion 100. As such, the handle portion 96, 48 is livably hingeable to expose the cut out portion 100. The removable cut out portion 100 is defined from the cut line 94 down to the package top/boundary 102. To remove this excess cut out portion 100, the at least one tear notch 98 can be implemented as known to one skilled in the art to rip away the material laterally across to a correspondingly aligned second tear notch 98. Alternatively, perforations, plurality of holes or tears, or other known means and techniques could be implemented to facilitate tearing away of the cut out portion 100. Once the cut out portion 100 has been removed, the handle loop 96, 48 is accessible by the user for transportation, hanging, pouring, and the like, as shown in FIG. 1 g. Such varied loop embodiments can be implemented along any of the sides or end portions (bottom and top) of the package 10 without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Again, the handle 96, 48 can be torn, cut or otherwise disjoined during or after use to provide the two slits 32, 42 described in various other embodiments, and other regions of the package; and the handle and cut out portion 100 can be implemented to other portions of the package 10, such as the bottom portion depicted and described hereinabove.

The slit members 32, 42 can be utilized by the end user to tie off or closeably cinch an access opening of the package 10 proximate the anchor portions 36, 46. In those embodiments having two slit members 32, 42, the ends of the detachment portions 34, 44 can be tied together to close off an access or opening in the package 10. FIG. 1 e shows such an embodiment wherein the slit members 32, 42 are tied off and utilized to contain a bottle, e.g., a champagne bottle, within the package 10. In addition, handling of the package can be directed to the slits 32, 42 as well. In those embodiments having the at least one hanging aperture 35, 45 in one or more of the detachment portions 34, 44, the package 10 can be hung for storage, filling, and the like.

Referring to FIGS. 12-13, the manufacturing process for the present invention generally includes forming the package 10 by aligning the front panel portion 12 and back panel portion 14 in a machining process such as those known in the art for pouch machines, form, fill and seal machines (“FFS”), and the like. In addition, a bottom panel portion 15, and/or two side gusseted panel portions, can be included to form known packages such as those utilized for stand up and other pouch configurations. This formation process generally comprises a roller feed station 60, a gusseting/folding station 62, an alignment station 64, a first seal station 66, a side seal station 68, a cooling station 70, and a die-cut station 72. The formation process can further include a cut-off station 74. Each of the base steps in forming the package 10 of the present invention can be performed by known pouch machines, FFS machines, and like machines known to one skilled in the art for forming pouches and/or forming and filling pouches in the confines of the same manufacturing process.

As shown in FIG. 12, at the roller feed station 60, a front panel web roll 80, a back panel web roll 82, and a bottom panel web roll 84 are each individually positioned and fed along a general web direction using rollers, brackets, guides, and other techniques and mechanisms known to one skilled in the art for forming flexible packages. The sealant surface of the front panel web roll 80 is typically facing inward toward the alignable back panel web roll 82. Prior to final alignment of the web rolls 80-84 before bondable sealing, the bottom web roll 84 can be gusseted at the gusseting station 62 using techniques, mechanisms and methods known to one skilled in the art. For instance, a v-bracket can be inserted along an intermediate portion of the bottom web roll 84 as it is being fed through the process such that a gusset fold forms gusseted web roll 84 to define what will be bottom gusseted panel 15 for each of the packages 10. The brackets and/or other machine components depicted in the referenced figures are for demonstrative purposes and are not intended to limit the angular positioning, shape, placement and/or display attributes of the components in forming the present invention. In addition, the reinforcement material 13 and/or 50 described herein to increase strength and resistance to pull and operations forces on the anchor portions 36, 46 can be aligned and feed into the web direction intermediate the web rolls 80-82, as shown in FIG. 12. The reinforcement material 13, 50 can be aligned proximate an end portion of the web rolls 80-82. For instance, in those embodiments formed to define a stand up pouch configuration, the material 13, 50 is generally aligned proximate the package end distal the bottom panel portion 15 to contact and reinforce predefined locations on the side seals 16, 18 designated for termination of the anchor portions 36, 46.

Referring primarily to FIG. 13, the aligned web rolls 80-84 are generally positioned or laid upon each other and fed into the first seal station 66. At this station, seals running along the line of the web direction but transverse to the longitudinal orientation of the final package 10 can be employed. Specifically, a first seal bar 67 a can be employed to seal the reinforcement material 13 or transverse access device 50 to the respective web roll 80, 82 and a second seal bar 67 b can be employed to seal the bottom web 84, gusseted or non-gusseted. With those embodiments including a transverse access device 50, this first seal station 66 can crush the ends of the access device 50 on the region of the package 10 defining the anchor portions 36, 46 to provide the reinforcement described herein. Following these seals at the first seal station 66, the now partially sealed webs continue along the web direction to the side seal station 68. The side seal station 68 can include at least one side seal bar 69, and preferably two side seal bars, positioned and adapted to contact the outer portion of the webs to seal the first longitudinal edges 20, 24 together, and likewise the second longitudinal edges 22, 26 together. A seal bar can be implemented at this stage to selectively seal along the package to form the first side seal 16 and the second side seal 18. Following the sealing at the side seal station 68, the boundaries and seals for the package 10 are substantially defined for each contiguous package 10 passing along the web path of the machine.

As the now forming package 10 leaves the side seal station 68 along the web path of the machine, each package 10 can enter a cooling station 70. The cooling station 70 can include at least one cooling bar 71 which is applied along the various seals, i.e., the seals created at the side seal station 68, to lower the web material temperature to further promote and stabilize the bonds created. Once the cooling bars 71 have performed the cooling functions upon application, each package 10, still contiguously linked with adjacent package 10, can be configured to have the at least one slit portion 30, and preferably both the first slit portion 30 and the second slit portion 40, or the loop 48.

While various perforation, cutting, and like apparatus can be employed, at least one embodiment will utilize a steel-rule die 72 at the die cut station 73 to cut out or define the slit portions 30, 40 from at least a portion of the respective side seals 16, 18. As such, at least a portion of the slit members 32, 42 will be detached from the seals 16, 18 at the detachment portions 34, 44. Again, the cut at the die cut station 73 can initiate a cut for the slit members 32, 42 that avoids complete detachment until tearing or actuation by the end user is later initiated along perforations, land regions, and the like. Other cutting, slicing, and a myriad of various mechanisms and techniques known to one skilled in the art can be employed at the die cut station 73 for forming and defining the slit portions 30, 40 and their respective component structures.

Separation of the distinct package 10 generally occurs at the cut-off station 74. The cut-off station 74 can include a cutting device such as a guillotine, blade or other known mechanism that can trim the edges of the package 10 and cut the end package 10 from the adjacently joined package 10. Other trimming devices and mechanisms can further be employed to trim the various edges of the package 10.

With this manufactured product, a package having at least one integrated slit member is created. Various handles, graphics, closeable and re-closeable devices, gusseted portions, and like features known to one skilled in the art are also envisioned for use with this invention and can be implemented without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. All references to front, back, bottom, and the like are merely for demonstrative purposes and are not intended to limit the variations and positional references and orientations of the panels in the present invention.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is, therefore, desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Similarly, the above-described methods and techniques for manufacturing the present invention are illustrative sequential processes and are not intended to limit the methods of manufacturing the present invention to those specifically defined herein. It is envisioned that various depicted steps can be performed in differing substantive and sequential order. In addition, various unspecified steps and procedures can be performed in between those steps described herein without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the method of manufacturing the same.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7207717Nov 7, 2005Apr 24, 2007Mark SteelePackage having a fluid actuated closure
US7883268Apr 20, 2007Feb 8, 2011Mark SteelePackage having a fluid actuated closure
US7971720Jun 24, 2009Jul 5, 2011The Clorox CompanyVertically stacking litter bag with handle
US8282280 *Oct 27, 2006Oct 9, 2012Scensible Source Co., LlcDisposable bag for hygienic disposal of a feminine hygiene product
US8387793May 17, 2011Mar 5, 2013The Clorox CompanyVertically stacking litter bags
US8540427Mar 9, 2009Sep 24, 2013Mark SteeleGusseted package with impact barrier
US8613547May 7, 2008Dec 24, 2013Mark SteelePackages having bubble-shaped closures
US8690429 *Apr 11, 2008Apr 8, 2014The Scensible Source Co., LLCLiner bag for feminine hygiene waste receptacles
US20110026858 *Jul 27, 2010Feb 3, 2011Bimbo, S.A.Bag for different products
US20110306945 *Dec 17, 2008Dec 15, 2011Sca Hygiene Products AbAbsorbent article with disposal wrapper
Classifications
U.S. Classification383/7, 383/120, 383/77, 383/104, 383/63, 383/62, 383/14
International ClassificationB65D33/16, B65D33/25, B65D33/06
Cooperative ClassificationB65D33/065, B65D33/2533, B65D33/165
European ClassificationB65D33/16D4, B65D33/06B, B65D33/25A1C