FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a bag-in-bottle type squeeze bottle having an inner receptacle incorporating a flexible bag for containing and dispensing various types of fluid products. More specifically, it pertains to flexible bag dispensers that include product bags which invert as they empty.
Squeeze type bottle dispensers are well known for use in packaging and dispensing various types of liquid products including those which are more viscous such as toothpaste. In order to improve the product expulsion of viscous materials, bag-in-bottle type dispensers have been employed because the more viscous products are difficult to expel from regular dispensers. Some dispensers include internal means for inverting the bag in upon itself to enhance their performance. Another general type is a pump dispenser which utilizes a piston pump to create the internal air pressure necessary to dispense the product. Since the pressure increase is not created by deformation of the dispenser walls, the walls may be rigid.
Since it is more economical to produce non-bag type dispensers, the less viscous and more liquid products are not routinely supplied in bag type squeeze bottles. This is also because they benefit just as much from gravity flow as from squeezing the bottle. Furthermore, without proper valving which maintains the internal bottle air pressure, the more liquid products tend to fall to the bottom of the bag leaving an air space at the top of the bag which must be expelled each time before the liquid is discharged. This adversely affects the performance of the dispenser. Hence, bag type squeeze dispensers are not used for liquid beverages.
A general problem with bag-in-bottle type squeeze dispensers of the prior art is that the discharge of dispensed product is less than complete, creating waste. This occurs because the bags and the inside of the bottles are not dimensioned and configured to closely match, nor are the bags sufficiently resilient so that they may conform to the shape of the inside surfaces of the bottle upon full expulsion. Many dispensers require gravity to create or assist the flow which can require an awkward position of the dispenser. In highly competitive sports, there is a need for a very efficient squeeze bottle for sports drinks that produces maximum output with minimum effort and little or no discharge delay.
There is therefore a need in the art for a liquid bag type squeeze bottle which eliminates trapped air in the product bag so that the liquid can be quickly and easily dispensed. There is a further need for a bag type squeeze bottle which provides near complete expulsion of product to reduce waste and which does not require gravity to produce or assist flow.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Prior art patents of which the applicant is aware which disclose squeeze bottle type dispensers having internal product bags include U.S. Pat. No. 2,608,320 issued to Harrison; U.S. Pat. No. 4,842,165 issued to Van Coney; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,305,920 issued to Reiboldt. While these dispensers are suitable for viscous products, they have the limitations discussed above with respect to dispensing less viscous, highly liquid products.
In order to overcome the deficiencies in the art described above, the present invention has been devised which employs a unique structure that provides a bag type squeeze bottle with excellent performance when used for dispensing highly liquid products such as water and sports drinks. It should be understood however that the present invention is not limited to these specific products.
This capability is provided by a combination of bottle valving and bag materials together with structural dimensions that are mutually compatible. A dispensing nozzle is employed which is not only substantially liquid-tight but also airtight. This prevents air from escaping back into the bag when pressure on the outside of the squeeze bottle is released. The tendency for re-admitting air into the bag is also mitigated by the use of an efficient umbrella type one-way bottle air valve with a high flow rate. These structures are utilized in combination with a highly resilient bottle that quickly snaps back to its normal shape when squeezing pressure is released. This allows the interior of the bottle to be recharged with air quickly and without producing any adverse effects on the product bag that would increase its tendency for drawing air back through the nozzle and into the bag.
The invention also uses an inversion collar to hold the bag at its midpoint so that the bag folds inwardly upon itself and up into the collar as liquid product is expelled. This enhances the performance of the bottle and prevents product from being trapped between irregular folds in the bag as it is compressed by the internal air pressure of the bottle. To ensure that the greatest amount of product is expelled to eliminate waste, both the bag and the internal surfaces of the inversion collar are tapered with the inside dimensions of the bag closely matched to the inside dimensions of the collar. This, together with the use of a bag material which has elasticity, permits the bag to readily conform to the inside shape of the inversion collar and/or the cap which holds the dispensing nozzle. The use of a resilient bag also permits it to be assembled by stretching it over the outside of the collar. This produces an extremely tight shrink fit between the bag and the outside surface of the collar so that product cannot become trapped around the outside of the collar thus further reducing waste. The collar may also include an upper inside dome-shaped surface which matches the shape of the inside surface of the bottom of the bag.
Constructed in this way, the present dispenser provides a high performance, pressurizable container which produces maximum discharge with minimum effort and little or no discharge delay. As a further attribute, the dispenser provides near complete expulsion of product to reduce waste. And finally, the dispenser does not require gravity to produce or assist flow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
While the present invention will be described with the reference to a specific embodiment, the following descriptive is illustrative of the invention and is not to be construed as limiting the invention. Various modifications to the present invention can be made to the preferred embodiment by those skilled in the art without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. It will be noted here that for better understanding like components are designated by the reference numerals throughout the various figures of drawing which follow.
FIG. 1 is a side view of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a side sectional view.
FIGS. 3-6 are side sectional views showing the sequence of product expulsion.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 7 is a side sectional view showing an alternate embodiment of the invention.
Referring now to FIG. 1, the squeeze bottle 11 of the invention generally includes a flexible outer wall which is highly resilient and dimensioned to fit comfortably within the consumer's hand for squeezing. At the top of the bottle is a removable threaded cap which carries a duckbill type dispensing nozzle 17. This duckbill nozzle known in the art includes opposing leaflets which are resiliently biased toward each other. The duckbill valve of the present invention is selected to include leaflets which are of sufficient surface area and closing force so that the valve provides both a liquid and airtight seal between the interior of the bottle and the surrounding environment. The bottom wall 12 of the bottle 11 includes a concavity 14 with an umbrella type air valve 10. This valve provides the one-way admission of air into the bottle caused by negative air pressure within which occurs when the squeezing pressure on the outside of the bottle is released and the expanding sidewalls draw a slight vacuum. Upon this occurrence, the umbrella valve 10 opens quickly to admit air into the bottle.
Referring now to FIG. 2, interior structures of the bottle can be seen. The cap 15 secures a downwardly extending collar 21 that has a product bag 23 secured to it by stretch fit. The bag holds a liquid of choice 25 such as a food beverage or a sport drink. The collar is held between the threaded-on cap 15 and the mouth of the bottle 13. The product bag 23 hangs downward within the bottle and is dimensioned to provide a substantial air space 27 between the bag and the bottle around the sides and at the bottom.
An important aspect of the invention depicted in FIG. 2 is the shape and configuration of the bag 23 which for efficient and economical manufacturing includes a slight downward taper. In order to match the internal dimensions of the bag which extends below the collar from about its midpoint, the collar includes matching upwardly extending taper on its inside surface. In addition, the inside of the cap 15 may include a dome-shaped inner surface 16 which matches the shape of the bottom of the bag. This is significant for providing near complete expulsion of the product as will be more clearly shown in FIGS. 3-6 which follow.
Referring now to FIGS. 3-6, the incremental expulsion of product from the squeeze bottle of the invention is shown. As shown in FIG. 3, when the product expulsion is first initiated, positive air pressure in the bottle forces the bag upward into the collar. Any air space initially present beneath the cap is expelled during the first discharge and because of the airtight nature of the nozzle, air is not readmitted into the bag. Thus, the bag is held in the position shown in this figure by the airtight nature of the duckbill valve. In FIGS. 3-6, the sides of the bottle have just expanded to their relaxed state and the umbrella valve is shown in the open position admitting air to replace the internal volume of the bottle increased by the discharge of liquid.
FIG. 4 shows the point at which product is further expelled due to additional squeezing of the bottle. As depicted in this figure, the interior walls of the bag now begin to conform to the interior walls of the collar. Further expulsion of the product is shown in FIG. 5 when interior sides of the bag begin to closely contact the walls of the collar from the bottle pressure and due to the compatible dimensions between the bag and the collar and resilience of the bag. Finally, as shown in FIG. 6, air pressure within the bottle causes the bag to be completely forced up through the collar and to expand against the underside of the dome-shaped cap such that there is close physical contact at all points between the bag and collar, and the bag and cap. This ensures almost complete expulsion of all product as depicted in this figure.
Referring now to FIG. 7, an alternate embodiment of the invention is depicted in which the dome-shaped interior surface which the inverted bag expands against at the point of complete product expulsion is provided by a dome-shaped upper inside surface 28 at the top of the collar 21 rather than a dome-shaped surface on the underside of the cap 15 as shown in the previous embodiment. This permits a standard cap without any particular underside configuration to be employed and thus provides economy of manufacture. For simplicity of illustration, only the cap and collar are shown in this figure.
It should be understood that there may be other modifications and changes to the present invention that will be obvious to those of skill in the art from the foregoing description, however, the present invention should be limited only by the following claims and their legal equivalents. For example, although the preferred embodiment was described with respect to liquid beverages, it should be understood that the dispenser of the invention may be used for non-food products as well. In addition, the dispenser may be used for highly viscous materials such as pastes.