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Publication numberUS20060272289 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/445,175
Publication dateDec 7, 2006
Filing dateJun 1, 2006
Priority dateJun 1, 2005
Also published asWO2006130818A2, WO2006130818A3
Publication number11445175, 445175, US 2006/0272289 A1, US 2006/272289 A1, US 20060272289 A1, US 20060272289A1, US 2006272289 A1, US 2006272289A1, US-A1-20060272289, US-A1-2006272289, US2006/0272289A1, US2006/272289A1, US20060272289 A1, US20060272289A1, US2006272289 A1, US2006272289A1
InventorsShay Pausa, Sherry Schumm, Robert Anders
Original AssigneeShay Pausa, Sherry Schumm, Robert Anders
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Foam cushion forming apparatus and methods
US 20060272289 A1
Abstract
An apparatus includes a containment member having a containment member interior cavity to contain foam precursor compartments, and a release member to release foam precursor components contained within the foam precursor compartments in response to a specific relative movement produced between the release member and the containment member. The apparatus may form a portion of a foam cushion forming apparatus.
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Claims(33)
1. An apparatus comprising:
a containment member having a containment member interior cavity to contain foam precursor compartments; and
a release member to release foam precursor components contained within the foam precursor compartments in response to a specific relative movement produced between the release member and the containment member.
2. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the containment member comprises:
a bottom portion, which defines a bottom of a containment member interior cavity; and
one or more sidewalls, which define sides of the containment member interior cavity.
3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein containment member comprises:
one or more openings, which are covered during at least a portion of the specific relative movement, and which become uncovered as the foam precursor components released from the foam precursor compartments react to form an expansive foam.
4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the release member comprises:
one or more precursor release portions;
one or more release member sidewalls sized to slidably contact one or more containment member sidewalls, wherein the one or more release member sidewalls define sides of a release member interior cavity; and
a release member top portion, which defines a top of the release member interior cavity.
5. The apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein the one or more precursor release portions comprise:
one or more openings through which the foam precursor components are to move into the release member interior cavity during the specific relative movement.
6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1, further comprising:
the foam precursor compartments, which include one or more first foam precursor compartments for containing one or more polyol-including foam precursor components, and one or more second foam precursor compartments for containing one or more isocyanate-including foam precursor components.
7. The apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein the foam precursor compartments are separable from the containment member.
8. The apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein at least a portion of the foam precursor compartments are fixed to the containment member.
9. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the release member comprises:
one or more release member openings, which are covered during at least a portion of the specific relative movement, and which become uncovered as the foam precursor components released from the one or more foam precursor compartments react to form an expansive foam.
10. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9, further comprising:
a dispersal member engaged with release member, wherein the dispersal member includes
a structure, which substantially covers the one or more release member openings during the specific relative movement, and which is to move away from the one or more release member openings when the expansive foam presses against the structure, and
one or more dispersal member openings in the structure, to enable the expansive foam to escape from the apparatus.
11. An apparatus comprising:
a first chamber portion; and
a second chamber portion, engaged with the first chamber portion, wherein the first chamber portion and the second chamber portion are to form a chamber when the first chamber portion and the second chamber portion have a compressed relative orientation, and wherein foam precursor components are mixable within the chamber, and wherein openings in the chamber are to result when an expansive foam is produced from a mixture of the foam precursor components, and wherein the openings are to enable release of the expansive foam from the chamber.
12. The apparatus as claimed in claim 11, further comprising:
two or more foam precursor compartments, which include one or more first foam precursor compartments to contain one or more isocyanate-including foam precursor components, and one or more second foam precursor compartments to contain one or more polyol-including foam precursor components; and
wherein the second chamber portion includes a precursor compartment opening mechanism to open the one or more precursor compartments as the first chamber portion and the second chamber portion are moved into the compressed relative orientation.
13. The apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the second chamber portion comprises:
a first structure, which forms a portion of the chamber; and
first openings in the first structure, to enable release of the resulting foam from the chamber.
14. The apparatus as claimed in claim 13, further comprising:
a dispersal member engagable with the second chamber portion, wherein the dispersal member includes
a second structure, which substantially covers the first openings when the first chamber portion and the second chamber portion are in the compressed relative orientation, and which is to move away from the first openings when the resulting foam presses against the second structure, and
second openings in the second structure, to enable release of the resulting foam from the apparatus.
15. A foam cushion forming apparatus comprising:
a flexible carrier; and
a mechanism that includes two or more members, wherein the mechanism forms a chamber within which foam precursor components are mixable when the two or more members have a first orientation relative to each other, and the mechanism includes one or more openings to allow a foam to disperse into the flexible carrier when the two or more members have a second orientation relative to each other.
16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 15, further comprising:
one or more first foam precursor compartments, within the mechanism, to hold one or more isocyanate-including foam precursor components; and
one or more second foam precursor compartments, within the mechanism, to hold one or more polyol-including foam precursor components.
17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 15, wherein the mechanism comprises:
a containment member having a containment member interior cavity;
a release member engaged with the containment member, wherein the release member is to release foam precursor components from two or more foam precursor compartments within the mechanism, in response to a specific relative movement produced between the release member and the containment member; and
a dispersal member, which is in contact with the release member in the first orientation.
18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 17, wherein the release member comprises:
one or more release member openings, which are covered by the dispersal member during at least a portion of the specific relative movement, and which become uncovered as the foam precursor components released from the one or more foam precursor compartments react to form the foam.
19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein the dispersal member comprises:
a structure, which substantially covers the one or more release member openings during at least part of the specific relative movement, and which is to move away from the one or more release member openings when the foam presses against the structure; and
one or more dispersal member openings in the structure, to enable dispersal of the foam into the carrier.
20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 15, further comprising the foam precursor components contained within the mechanism, wherein the foam precursors comprise:
a polyol-including foam precursor component that includes one or more polyols; and
an isocyanate-including foam precursor component that includes one or more isocyanates.
21. A packaging apparatus comprising:
a packaging container; and
a foam cushion forming apparatus having a flexible carrier, and a mechanism that includes two or more members, wherein the mechanism forms a chamber within which foam precursor components are mixable when the two or more members have a first orientation relative to each other, and the mechanism includes one or more openings to allow a foam to disperse into the flexible carrier when the two or more members have a second orientation relative to each other.
22. The packaging apparatus as claimed in claim 21, wherein the packaging container comprises:
a box.
23. The packaging apparatus as claimed in claim 21, wherein the packaging container comprises:
an envelope.
24. A body-part immobilizing apparatus comprising:
a flexible carrier; and
a mechanism that includes two or more members, wherein the mechanism forms a chamber within which foam precursor components are mixable when the two or more members have-a first orientation relative to each other, and the mechanism includes one or more openings to allow a foam to disperse into the flexible carrier when the two or more members have a second orientation relative to each other.
25. The apparatus as claimed in claim 24, further comprising:
a securement apparatus to secure the flexible carrier to a body part.
26. A method of making a foam cushion forming apparatus comprising:
fabricating two or more members of a mechanism;
inserting foam precursor components into a containment member of the two or more members;
engaging the two or more members in a pre-activation orientation with respect to each other; and
attaching the mechanism to the flexible carrier.
27. The method as claimed in claim 26, wherein inserting the foam precursor components into the containment member comprises:
dispensing one or more isocyanate-including foam precursor components into one or more first foam precursor compartments;
dispensing one or more polyol-including foam precursor components into one or more second foam precursor compartments; and
positioning the one or more first foam precursor compartments and the one or more second foam precursor compartments within the containment member.
28. The method as claimed in claim 26, wherein inserting the foam precursor components into the containment member comprises:
dispensing one or more isocyanate-including foam precursor components into one or more first foam precursor compartments attached to the containment member;
dispensing one or more polyol-including foam precursor components into one or more second foam precursor compartments attached to the containment member; and
sealing the one or more first foam precursor compartments and the one or more second foam precursor compartments.
29. A method of using a foam cushion forming apparatus comprising:
applying a physical force to a mechanism of the foam cushion forming apparatus, to cause a first chamber portion and a second chamber portion of the mechanism to obtain a first post-activation orientation, with respect to each other, and to form a chamber within the mechanism;
agitating foam precursor components within the chamber to form a mixture within the chamber; and
releasing the mechanism to allow openings in the chamber to occur as an expansive foam is produced from the mixture of the foam precursor components, wherein the openings are to enable release of the expansive foam from the chamber and into a flexible carrier.
30. The method as claimed in claim 29, wherein applying the physical force comprises:
applying a compressive force to the mechanism.
31. The method as claimed in claim 29, further comprising:
placing the apparatus into a packaging container, after agitating.
32. The method as claimed in claim 29, further comprising:
securing the apparatus to a body part, after agitating.
33. The method as claimed in claim 29, further comprising:
preheating the apparatus, prior to applying the physical force.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/686,322, filed Jun. 1, 2005, and entitled “Foam Cushion Forming Apparatus and Methods.”

TECHNICAL FIELD

The inventive subject matter relates generally to foam cushion forming apparatus, and methods of making and using such apparatus.

BACKGROUND

In the packaging industry, “foam-in-place” bag systems have been developed for immobilizing objects within shipping containers. In an un-activated phase, a foam-in-place bag includes an outer bag and a foam precursor pouch, which is located within the outer bag. The foam precursor pouch holds two chemicals in separation from one another. Prior to use, the foam-in-place bag (and thus the foam precursor pouch) is pre-heated within a pre-heating chamber (e.g., an oven) until the foam precursors reach a desired activation temperature. To achieve this temperature, preheating may be recommended for as long as 30 minutes or more. After that time, the foam-in-place bag is removed from the pre-heating chamber, and the foam precursor pouch is popped and kneaded by the user to cause the two chemicals to combine and react with one another. This reaction produces an expansive foam, which is extruded into the outer bag.

Shortly after initiation of the foam production, a user can place the foam-in-place bag within a shipping container in proximity to an object being immobilized. As the expansive foam fills the bag, the bag may contour around the object. After the foam hardens, the object may be completely or partially held in place by the hardened foam.

This packaging technology currently relies on the use of pre-heating equipment (e.g., ovens) and trained users. In part, because the costs for the foam-in-place bags, the pre-heating equipment, and the training can be substantial, this technology is not widely used by the general population. Instead, this technology typically is used by business entities having a significant volume of packaging work.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended claims point out, with particularity, different embodiments of the inventive subject matter described herein. However, the detailed description presents a more complete understanding of various embodiments of the inventive subject matter when considered in connection with the figures, wherein like-reference numbers refer to similar items throughout the figures and:

FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam cushion forming apparatus, prior to activation, in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive subject matter;

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam cushion forming apparatus of FIG. 1, after foam formation and expansion, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 3 illustrates a venting component formed from an intermittent seal between multiple panels of a flexible carrier, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam producing mechanism with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 4, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIGS. 4 and 5 with members in a foam-dispersal relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 7 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a containment member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 8 illustrates a ratcheted groove and projection, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a containment member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a containment member, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 11 illustrates a cross-sectional, top view of the containment member of FIG. 7 along section lines 11-11, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 12 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a release member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 13 illustrates a top view of a release member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 14 illustrates a side view of a release member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 15 illustrates a bottom view of a release member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 16 illustrates a bottom view of a precursor release portion, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 17 illustrates a bottom view of a release member, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 18 illustrates a bottom view of a release member, in accordance with still another embodiment;

FIG. 19 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a dispersal member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 20 illustrates a side view of a dispersal member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 21 illustrates a top view of a dispersal member, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 22 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 23 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 22, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 24 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of still another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 25 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 24, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 26 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of still another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 27 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 26, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other;

FIG. 28 illustrates a flowchart of a method for making a foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 29 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of an unfilled foam precursor compartment, prior to filling, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 30 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam precursor compartment of FIG. 29, after filling, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 31 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam precursor compartment of FIGS. 29 and 30, after sealing, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 32 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a foam precursor compartment, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 33 illustrates a top view of two foam precursor compartments, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 34 illustrates a top view of four foam precursor compartments, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 35 illustrates a top view of two foam precursor compartments, in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 36 illustrates a flowchart of a method for using a foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 37 illustrates a cut-away, perspective view of a shipping container within which a television is immobilized using one or more foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 38 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of an envelope within which an object is immobilized using one or more foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with another embodiment; and

FIG. 39 illustrates a perspective view of a foam cushion forming apparatus adapted as a splint for a body part, in accordance with another embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam cushion forming apparatus 100, prior to activation, in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive subject matter. Foam cushion forming apparatus 100 includes a flexible carrier 102 and one or more foam producing mechanisms 104. Although only one mechanism 104 is illustrated, more may be present.

Flexible carrier 102 is defined by an inner surface 108 and an outer surface 110. The inner surface 108 defines an interior space 112, within which an expansive foam may be substantially retainable, as will be described in more detail later. As the foam expands, the interior space 112 may be capable of expanding to a shape that is defined by expansion limits of the flexible carrier 102. In an embodiment, flexible carrier 102 has expansion limits within the following ranges: a) width (horizontal on page) within a range of about 10-90 centimeters (cm); b) depth (into page) within a range of about 10-90 cm; and c) height (vertical on page) within a range of about 10-90 cm. In alternate embodiments, the width, depth, and/or height may be greater or smaller than the above-given ranges.

In an embodiment, flexible carrier 102 includes one or more panels 118, 120 of flexible material. Panels 118, 120 may be sealed (e.g., via seals 122, 124) on one, two, three, or all edges to form a bag-like structure. In alternate embodiments, flexible carrier 102 may be formed substantially from a flexible material that is pressed and/or blown (e.g., using a blow film extrusion process), rather than sealed, to define the interior space 112.

The flexible material may include a single layer of plastic sheet or film material, and/or multiple, laminated layers of plastic sheet or film material, in various embodiments. The flexible material also or alternatively may include one or more layers of metallic foil, a composite material, or any other flexible material that is capable of substantially retaining a foam during foam formation and expansion.

In an embodiment, foam producing mechanism 104 is located within the interior space 112 of flexible carrier 102. In a further embodiment, foam producing mechanism 104 may be secured to an area of the inner surface 108 of flexible carrier 102, so that mechanism 104 is held in place with respect to the flexible carrier 102.

Foam producing mechanism 104 may be secured to inner surface 108, for example but not by way of limitation, by an adhesive or other securing component 106. In an embodiment, securing component 106 may include one or more bands or beads of adhesive (e.g., hot melt adhesive), which adhere mechanism 104 to inner surface 108. In an embodiment, securing component 106 includes an adhesive of a pressure sensitive type. In an embodiment, the position of the foam producing mechanism 104 may be indicated by markings (not illustrated) on the outer surface 110 of the flexible carrier 102, to make it easier for a user to identify the location of the unit 104.

In another embodiment, the foam producing mechanism 104 may initially not be located within the flexible carrier 102. Instead, the flexible carrier 102 may include an opening (not illustrated), which enables insertion of the foam producing mechanism 104 either before or during activation. Desirably, the opening is sealable, so that it would not allow significant amounts of foam to escape the flexible carrier 102 during foam formation.

In an embodiment, foam producing mechanism 104 includes two or more members, which will be described in detail later. The two or more members may form a chamber within which foam precursor components are mixable when the two or more members have a first orientation relative to each other. Further, in an embodiment, foam producing mechanism 104 may include one or more openings to allow a foam, which results from the foam precursor mixture, to disperse into flexible carrier 102 when the two or more members have a second orientation relative to each other.

In an embodiment, foam precursor components are held in separation within foam producing mechanism 104, prior to activation. A user of foam cushion forming apparatus 100 may provide one or more user inputs to release and combine the foam precursor components. As they react, the foam precursor components may start to form an expansive foam, which disperses out of the foam producing mechanism 104 and into the flexible carrier 102. The expanding foam may force the inner surface 108 outward toward the expansion limits of the foam containment member 102. Further, as the flexible carrier 102 expands under the pressure of the expanding foam, the outer surface 110 may contour around or displace any physical objects located within the expansion limits of the flexible carrier 102. The foam may then harden, producing a rigid structure.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam cushion forming apparatus of FIG. 1, after foam formation and expansion, in accordance with an embodiment. In this state, foam material 202 may be located within the interior space (e.g., interior space 112, FIG. 1) of the flexible carrier 102. Further, a portion of the flexible carrier 102 and foam material 202 may have contoured around a physical object 204, which may partially or completely immobilize the object 204.

In an embodiment, in which a foam producing mechanism 104 has been activated within the interior space (e.g., interior space 112, FIG. 1), foam producing mechanism 104 may end up being embedded within the foam material 202. In other embodiments, where the foam producing mechanism is external to the foam containment member 102, it may not end up being embedded within the foam material 202.

In an embodiment, the foam material 202 includes a polyurethane foam. The foam may have some, all, or none of the characteristics of being rapidly hardening, somewhat flexible, but substantially rigid, and relatively low-density, in an embodiment. In other embodiments, the foam material 202 may include another type of suitable foam material, as would be obvious to one of skill in the art, based on the description herein.

Polyurethane foam may be produced from the combination of two foam precursor components, in an embodiment. In other embodiments, polyurethane foam may be produced from the combination of more than two foam precursor components.

An isocyanate-including foam precursor component, which also may be referred to herein as an “isocyanate foam precursor” or “Part A,” may include one or more isocyanates and zero or more additives, in various embodiments. As used herein, the term “isocyanate” includes, but is not limited to, a group of materials that includes isocyanates, diisocyanates, and/or polyisocyanates. Isocyanates included in Part A may include, for example but not by way of limitation, one or more polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanates (MDI) (e.g., Lupranate M20S, sold by BASF, USA), in various embodiments. A polyol-including foam precursor component, which also may be referred to herein as a “polyol foam precursor” or “Part B,” may include one or more polyols and zero or more additives, in various embodiments. Polyols included in Part B may include, for example but not by way of limitation, one or more polyether polyols, in an embodiment.

Various additives may be included in the polyol-including foam precursor component, in an embodiment. In alternate embodiments, additives may be included in the isocyanate-including foam precursor component or in both the polyol-including and isocyanate-including foam precursor components. In an embodiment, additives may be selected from a group of additives that includes one or more surfactants (e.g., cell size control agents), one or more catalysts, one or more blowing agent precursors, one or more cross-linkers, and one or more flame retardants. In other embodiments, more, fewer, or additional additives can be included with either or both of the foam precursor components.

In an embodiment, the polyol-including foam precursor component and the isocyanate-including foam precursor component may be included in the apparatus in a ratio of about 1:1, by volume. By weight, about 100 parts of the isocyanate-including foam precursor component to about 90 parts of the polyol-including foam precursor component, may be included in the apparatus, in an embodiment. In another embodiment, about 100 parts of the isocyanate-including foam precursor component to about 72 parts of the polyol-including foam precursor component, by weight, may be included in the apparatus. In other embodiments, the polyol-including foam precursor component and the isocyanate-including foam precursor component may be included in different volume or weight ratios.

In an embodiment, foam precursors are selected to produce suitable foam for packing purposes without pre-heating the foam precursors. The foam precursors may or may not be preheated prior to activating the apparatus. In an embodiment, the isocyanate-including foam precursor component and the polyol-including foam precursor component, when mixed (e.g., hand mixed by stirring, shaking within a container, or other agitation method), may produce a “suitable foam” at a reaction temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (F). In another embodiment, the foam precursor components, when mixed, may produce a “suitable foam” at a reaction temperature of less than 75 F. In still another embodiment, the foam precursor components, when mixed, may produce a “suitable foam” at a reaction temperature within a range of about 75 F to 95 F. In still another embodiment, the foam precursor components, when mixed, may produce a “suitable foam” at a reaction temperature within a range of about 95 F to 135 F.

A “suitable foam,” as the term is used herein, may have some, all or none of the following characteristics, in various embodiments:

    • 1) cream time (e.g., time when foam starts to rise) of about 10-15 seconds (+15 seconds or −5 seconds);
    • 2) rise time (e.g., time from onset of rise until completion of rise) of about 20-25 seconds (+20 seconds or −10 seconds); and
    • 3) tack free time (TF) of about 25-30 seconds (+25 seconds or −15 seconds).
      A suitable foam may have a density of about 0.5-0.6 pounds per cubic foot (PCF) (±40%), in an embodiment.

When the polyol-including foam precursor component and the isocyanate-including foam precursor component are combined and mixed, one or more chemical blowing agents, which aid in the production of the foam, may be generated. In an embodiment, a blowing agent may include carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 may be generated by the reaction of an isocyanate (e.g., diisocyanate) in the isocyanate-including foam precursor component with a blowing agent precursor (e.g., water (H2O)) in the polyol-including foam precursor component, in an embodiment. In alternate embodiments, other chemical or physical blowing agents may be generated through the reaction of the polyol-including foam precursor component and the isocyanate-including foam precursor component. Alternative physical blowing agents include, but are not limited to, chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFC), hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), and/or hydrocarbons (e.g., pentane, butane, or other hydrocarbons), for example, but not by way of limitation.

As the above paragraph indicates, gaseous by-products may be produced during foam formation. Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, in an embodiment, flexible carrier may 102 include one or more venting components 116, which enable the gaseous by-products of the foam formation reaction to escape from the interior space 112. Venting component 116 may be a one-way mechanism, in an embodiment, which enables gasses to escape, but not to enter the interior space 112. In another embodiment, venting component 116 may include a two-way mechanism, which enables gasses to escape and enter the interior space 112, depending on the relative pressure between interior space 112 and the outside. In an embodiment, venting component 116 may include one or more openings (e.g., holes, slits, perforations, bands of perforations) through one or more panels 118, 120 of flexible carrier 102. In other embodiments, venting component 116 may include a valve, a filter or a membrane. In still another embodiment, flexible carrier 102 may not include a venting component.

In still another embodiment, gas venting may be provided by an intermittent seal. FIG. 3 illustrates a venting component 300 formed from an intermittent seal 302 between multiple panels 304, 306 of a flexible carrier, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, a flexible carrier (e.g., carrier 102, FIG. 1) may be formed by sealing together two or more panels (e.g., panels 118, 120, FIG. 1).

In an embodiment, two panels 304, 306 may be brought together and an “intermittent seal” 302 may be formed between the panels 304, 306. The intermittent seal is a seal that enables gaseous by-products to be vented out of a flexible carrier during foam formation.

In an embodiment, intermittent seal 302 includes alternating sealed sections 308 and open sections 310. Panels 304, 306 may readily part to produce apertures 312 at open sections 310 when the pressure within the interior space (e.g., interior space 112, FIG. 1) of the flexible carrier is sufficiently greater than the pressure on the outside of the flexible carrier. When the apertures 312 are formed, gaseous by-products may escape the interior space. In an embodiment, the widths of open sections 310 enable gasses readily to pass out through apertures 312, while not allowing significant amounts of foam to pass out through apertures 312.

Various embodiments of foam producing mechanisms will now be described in more detail, in conjunction with FIGS. 4-27. Methods of apparatus manufacture and use, and several example applications will then be described, in accordance with several embodiments.

A foam producing mechanism may be adapted to provide one or more of the following functionalities: 1) storage of foam precursors prior to mixing; 2) provision of a mixing chamber for the foam precursors; and 3) dispersal of the foam produced from the foam precursor mixture into a flexible carrier, in an embodiment. In some embodiments, one or more of the above listed functionalities may be provided by system elements other than the foam producing mechanism.

In several embodiments, a foam producing mechanism may include two or more members. The mechanism may be arranged to form a chamber within which foam precursors are mixable when the two or more members have a first, “chamber-forming” orientation relative to each other. Further, in various embodiments, the mechanism may include one or more openings to allow a foam to disperse into the flexible carrier when the two or more members have a second, “foam-dispersal relative orientation.”

FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam producing mechanism 400 with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, foam producing mechanism 400 includes at least two members: a containment member 402, and a release member 404. In addition, in an embodiment, foam producing mechanism further may include a dispersal member 406. Further, foam producing mechanism 400 may house, or have integrated therein, two or more foam precursor compartments 408, 410, within which two or more foam precursors 412, 414 may be releasably contained. In an embodiment, containment member 402, release member 404, and dispersal member 406 are slidably engaged. Containment member 402, release member 404, and dispersal member 406 are formed from substantially rigid materials (e.g., plastics), in an embodiment.

Containment member 402, in an embodiment, may include an interior cavity 416 to contain foam precursor compartments 410, 412. In an embodiment, interior cavity 416 may be defined by containment member sidewalls 418 and a containment member bottom 420. In an embodiment, foam precursor compartments 410, 412 are distinct from containment member 402. In alternate embodiments, some or all foam precursor compartments 410, 412 may be completely or partially integrated with containment member 402.

Interior cavity 416 may me adapted to house two foam precursor compartments 410, 412, in an embodiment. A first compartment 410 may include an isocyanate-including foam precursor component, and a second compartment 412 may include a polyol-including foam precursor component. In alternate embodiments, more than one compartment may be used to contain the isocyanate-including foam precursor component, the polyol-including foam precursor component, or both. In still other alternate embodiments, first compartment 410 and second compartment 412 may be housed by another member of mechanism 400.

Release member 404, in an embodiment, may include an interior cavity 430 and one or more precursor release portions 432. In an embodiment, interior cavity 430 may be defined by release member sidewalls 434 and a release member top 436. As will be described in more detail later, interior cavity 430 may form a portion of a mixing chamber within which released foam precursors 412, 414 may be mixed.

Further, in an embodiment, release member top 436 may include one or more first openings 438, and release member sidewalls 434 may include one or more second openings 440. First openings 438 may enable a foam, which results from the foam precursor mixture, to be released from the mixing chamber, as will be described in more detail later. Second openings 440, which may be referred to herein as “degassing openings,” may enable air and other gasses to escape from the interior cavity 430, as will also be described in more detail later.

Precursor release portion 432 may be distinct from or integrated with release member 404, in various embodiments. Precursor release portion 432 may include a surface having one or more openings, which are adapted to allow precursors 412, 414 to flow into interior chamber 430. For example, but not by way of limitation, precursor release portion 432 may include a mesh or other surface having one or more openings.

In various embodiments, precursor release portion 432 is adapted to cause precursor compartments 408, 410 to be “ruptured,” which includes any or all of crushing open, puncturing, tearing, bursting, popping or cutting, when precursor release portion 432 is compressed toward precursor compartments 408, 410.

Dispersal member 406, in an embodiment, may include an interior cavity 450. Interior cavity 450 may be defined by dispersal member sidewalls 452 and a dispersal member top 454. Dispersal member sidewalls 452 may include one or more first openings 456, and dispersal member top 454 may include one or more second openings 458. First openings 456 and second openings 458 may enable a foam, which results from the foam precursor mixture, to be released from the mechanism 400, as will be described in more detail later.

In an embodiment, the one or more second openings 458 in dispersal member top 454 are positioned so that the one or more second openings 458 are not open to the interior cavity 430 when the openings 458 are spanned by portions of release member top 436 (e.g., when dispersal member top 454 is in contact with release member top 436). Similarly, the one or more first openings 438 in release member top 436 are positioned so that the one or more first openings 438 are not open to the exterior of mechanism 400 when the openings 438 are spanned by portions of dispersal member top 454 (e.g., when dispersal member top 454 is in contact with release member top 436). In other words, the dispersal member 406 and the release member 404 have openings 438, 456, 458, which are non-intersecting when dispersal member 406 and release member 404 are in a pre-activation relative orientation.

FIG. 4 illustrates containment member 402, release member 404, and dispersal member 406 in a pre-activation relative orientation, with respect to each other. In an embodiment, a pre-activation relative orientation is an orientation in which release member 404 and containment member 402 have not been moved, with respect to each other, to cause foam precursor compartments 408, 410 to open.

In an embodiment, a specific relative movement may be produced (e.g., by a user) to cause release member 404 to release foam precursors 412, 414 contained within the foam precursor compartments 408, 410. The specific relative movement may include a movement to compress release and dispersal members 404, 406 toward containment member 402, in an embodiment. For example, but not by way of limitation, a user could pinch the mechanism to produce the compression, or could place the mechanism on a surface and push down on the top of the mechanism.

In an embodiment, containment member 402, release member 404, and dispersal member 406 are arranged in a nested configuration. As such, an outer diameter of the sidewalls of release member 404 is smaller than an inner diameter of the sidewalls of containment member 402, and an outer diameter of the sidewalls of containment member 402 is smaller than an inner diameter of the sidewalls of dispersal member 406. This configuration enables containment member 402 substantially to encompass release member 402, and enables dispersal member 406 substantially to encompass containment member 402, when the members are in a compressed relative orientation. In other embodiments, the members 402, 404, 406 may be differently nested, allowing the members 402, 404, 406 to encompass each other in different arrangements.

In an embodiment, release member 404 includes one or more projections 460 which slidably engage with one or more depressions 462 (e.g., grooves) located on inside surfaces of containment member 402. In an alternate embodiment, containment member 402 may include one or more projections and release member 404 may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members 402, 404. Further, as will be described in more detail later, projections 460 and depressions 462 may include ratcheting elements, which function to allow members 402, 404 readily to be compressed together, but which retain them in a compressed relative state and retard their separation, in an embodiment.

In an embodiment, dispersal member 406 includes one or more projections 470 which slidably engage with one or more depressions 472 (e.g., grooves) located on outside surfaces of containment member 402. In an alternate embodiment, containment member 402 may include one or more projections and dispersal member 406 may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members 402, 406.

As they are compressed, such as by providing forces indicated generally by arrows 480, 482, release member 404 causes foam precursor compartments 408, 410 to rupture, thus releasing precursor components 412, 414. Precursor components 412 414 may flow through or around precursor release portion 432 and into interior cavity 430. In addition, air or other gasses within interior cavity 430 may flow out through holes 440, in an embodiment. When they are fully compressed, members 402, 404, 406 may form a chamber, and thus are in a “chamber-forming relative orientation.”

FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 4, with members 402, 404, 406 in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment. In the chamber-forming relative orientation, openings 438, 440, 456, and 458 are substantially covered, and thus the interior cavity 430 provides for a substantially closed chamber 502. In addition, in an embodiment, foam precursor compartments 408, 410 may be compressed toward the bottom of mechanism 400. During compression, foam precursor compartments 408, 410 may open, enabling foam precursors 412, 414 to be released and to enter interior cavity 430.

In an embodiment, a user may then shake or otherwise agitate mechanism 400 to cause foam precursors 412, 414 to mix within chamber 502. Foam precursors 412, 414, when mixed, should react and begin to produce an expansive foam.

The expansive foam may cause pressure on the inner surfaces of the chamber 502, and thus may produce forces on the chamber's inner surfaces. These forces may include forces, indicated generally by arrows 504, 506 on portions of the dispersal member top 454 which are exposed to the chamber 502 through holes 438 in release member 404. In an embodiment, these forces 504, 506 may cause dispersal member 406 to move away (e.g., upward) from containment member 402 and release member 404. As discussed previously, release member 404 may have a stopping mechanism to retard its movement out of the compressed orientation, and thus it may not move significantly when the forces produced by the expansive foam act on its surfaces. As dispersal member 406 moves away from containment member 402 and release member 404, the members 402, 404, 406 may assume a “foam-dispersal relative orientation,” which will be described in more detail in conjunction with FIG. 6.

In the chamber-forming relative orientation, the members 402, 404, 406 are arranged to form a substantially closed chamber 502. Accordingly, a first member may be considered a “first chamber forming portion,” and a second member may be considered a “second chamber forming portion,” which is engaged with the first chamber portion. The first chamber portion and the second chamber portion form a chamber when the first chamber portion and the second chamber portion have a compressed relative orientation, and foam precursor components are mixable within the chamber. In an embodiment, openings in the chamber are to result when an expansive foam is produced from a mixture of the foam precursor components, and the openings are to enable release of the expansive foam from the chamber.

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIGS. 4 and 5 with members 402, 404, 406 in a foam-dispersal relative orientation with respect to each other, in accordance with an embodiment. In the foam-dispersal relative orientation, the top 436 of release member 404 and the top 454 of dispersal member 406 are in a separated configuration. Accordingly, the openings 438, 456, 458 in members 404, 406, which previously were covered, are now open to the interior of chamber 502. These openings 438, 456, 458 enable an expansive foam 602 being produced within chamber 502 readily to flow through openings 438, as indicated by arrows 604, and then through openings 456, 458, as indicated by arrows 606, 608, in an embodiment. More specifically, openings 456 which provide for foam to be released out the sides of the foam producing mechanism, and opening 458 provides for foam to be released out the top of the foam producing mechanism. In an embodiment, the foam flows into a flexible carrier, such as flexible carrier 102, FIG. 1.

The next series of Figures will illustrate features of containment members, release members, and dispersal members in more detail, in accordance with various embodiments. Specifically, FIGS. 7-11 illustrate various embodiments of containment members, FIGS. 12-18 illustrate various embodiments of release members, and FIGS. 19-21 illustrate various embodiments of dispersal members.

FIG. 7 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a containment member 700, in accordance with an embodiment. Containment member 700 may include an interior cavity 702, adapted to contain foam precursor compartments. In an embodiment, interior cavity 702 may be defined by containment member sidewalls 704 and a containment member bottom 706. Containment member 700 may be substantially open at the top, in an embodiment.

In an embodiment, foam precursor compartments (e.g., compartments 410, 412, FIG. 4) may be positioned within interior cavity 702, and may be distinct from containment member 700. In alternate embodiments, some of which are described in more detail later, some or all foam precursor compartments may be completely or partially integrated with the containment member.

In an embodiment, containment member 700 includes one or more depressions 710 (e.g., grooves or depressed portions) located on one or more outside sidewall surfaces 712. Depressions 710 are adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 470, FIG. 4) of a dispersal member (e.g., dispersal member 406, FIG. 4). In an alternate embodiment, containment member 700 may include one or more projections (not illustrated) and the dispersal member may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members.

In an embodiment, containment member 700 includes one or more depressions 714 (e.g., grooves) located on one or more inside sidewall surfaces 716. Depressions 714 are adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 460, FIG. 4) of a release member (e.g., release member 404, FIG. 4). In an alternate embodiment, containment member 700 may include one or more projections (not illustrated) and the release member may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members. In an embodiment, depressions 714 are adapted to provide for ratcheted, slidable engagement with projections (e.g., projections 460, FIG. 4) of the release member.

In an embodiment, containment member 700 has a width 720 in a range of about 5-10 cm, and a height 722 in a range of about 2-5 cm. In other embodiments, the width 720 and/or height 722 may be greater and/or smaller than the above given ranges.

FIG. 8 illustrates a ratcheted groove 802 and projection 804, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, ratcheted groove 802 corresponds to a depression (e.g., depression 714, FIG. 7) of a containment member, and projection 804 corresponds to a projection (e.g., projection 1402, FIG. 14) of a release member. In an alternate embodiment, ratcheted groove 802 may be located on the release member and projection 804 may be located on the containment member.

Ratcheted groove 802 may include one or more ratcheting elements 806, which enable projection 804 to be pushed in a downward direction through groove 802, but which retard upward motion of projection 804 within groove 802. The ratcheted groove 802 and projection 804 function to allow the containment and release members readily to be compressed together, and also function to retain them in a compressed relative state and retard their separation, in an embodiment. In other words, ratcheted groove 802 and projection 804 enable one-directional movement (e.g., compression) between the two containment and release members. In alternate embodiments, other ways of retarding two-directional movement may be employed, as will be described in more detail later.

FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a containment member 900, in accordance with an embodiment. Containment member 900 includes, in an embodiment, one or more grooves 902 located on one or more outside sidewall surfaces 904. Grooves 902 are adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 470, FIG. 4) of a dispersal member (e.g., dispersal member 406, FIG. 4). Grooves 902 may be wider or narrower than illustrated, in alternate embodiments. Further, more or fewer grooves 902 may exist than are illustrated. Containment member 900 additionally includes, in an embodiment, one or more ratcheted grooves 906 located on one or more inside sidewall surfaces 908. Grooves 906 are adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 460, FIG. 4) of a release member (e.g., release member 404, FIG. 4).

FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a containment member 1000, in accordance with another embodiment. Containment member 1000 includes, in an embodiment, a depressed circumferential area 1002 located on one or more outside sidewall surfaces 1004. Depressed circumferential area 1002 is adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 470, FIG. 4) or with a rim of a dispersal member (e.g., dispersal member 406, FIG. 4). Containment member 1000 additionally includes, in an embodiment, one or more ratcheted grooves 1006 located on one or more inside sidewall surfaces 1008. Grooves 1006 are adapted to receive and slidably engage with one or more projections (e.g., projections 460, FIG. 4) of a release member (e.g., release member 404, FIG. 4).

FIG. 11 illustrates a cross-sectional, top view of the containment member of FIG. 7 along section lines 11-11, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, containment member 700 may include one or more one or more grooves 1102 located on one or more outside sidewall surfaces 1104 and one or more grooves 1106 located on one or more inside sidewall surfaces 1108. In an embodiment, the cross-section of containment member 700 along lines 11-11, as illustrated in FIG. 11, is substantially circular. In other embodiments, the cross-section of the containment member may take other shapes, including but not limited to, rectangular, square, ovular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal, hourglass, figure-8, other standard geometric shapes, or irregular shapes. In these cases, a release member and/or dispersal member may also have a corresponding, different cross-sectional shape in order to engage with the containment member.

Various embodiments of release members, which may engage with a containment member and/or a dispersal member, will now be described. FIG. 12 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a release member 1200, in accordance with an embodiment. Release member 1200, in an embodiment, may include an interior cavity 1202 and one or more precursor release portions 1204. In an embodiment, interior cavity 1202 may be defined by release member sidewalls 1206 and a release member top 1208. In an embodiment, release member top 1208 includes one or more elevated portions 1210, which may nest into an opening of a dispersal member.

Further, in an embodiment, release member top 1206 may include one or more first openings 1212 and second openings 1214. As described previously, first openings 1212 may enable a foam to be released from a mixing chamber, which is partially defined by release member 1200. As also described previously, second openings 1214 may function as degassing openings, thus enabling air and other gasses to escape from the interior cavity 1202 as the release member 1200 is compressed into a containment member.

Precursor release portion 1204 substantially defines a bottom of interior cavity 1202, in an embodiment. Precursor release portion 1204 may be distinct from or integrated with release member 1200, in various embodiments. As described previously, precursor release portion 1204 may include a surface having one or more openings, which are adapted to allow precursors to flow into interior cavity 1202. In various embodiments, precursor release portion 1204 is adapted to cause precursor compartments (e.g., precursor compartments 408, 410, FIG. 4) to be ruptured. Several precursor release portion embodiments will be described later in conjunction with FIGS. 16-18.

In an embodiment, release member 1200 includes one or more projections 1216 which slidably engage with one or more depressions (e.g., grooves 462, FIG. 4) located on a containment member (e.g., containment member 402, FIG. 4). In an alternate embodiment, the containment member may include one or more projections and the release member may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members. Further, as was described previously in conjunction with FIG. 8, projections 1216 may be adapted to engage with ratcheting elements (e.g., elements 806, FIG. 8) within the containment member grooves (e.g., groove 802, FIG. 8).

In an embodiment, release member 1200 has a width 1220 in a range of about 5-10 cm, and a height 1222 in a range of about 2-5 cm. In other embodiments, the width 1220 and/or height 1222 may be greater and/or smaller than the above given ranges.

FIG. 13 illustrates a top view of a release member 1300, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, a release member top may include one or more openings 1302, through which a foam may be released from a mixing chamber. Further, in an embodiment, release member 1300 includes a central portion 1304, which is positioned to correspond to an opening in the top of a dispersal member (e.g., opening 458, FIG. 4). One or more ribs 1306 may interconnect a periphery 1308 of release member and the central portion 1304. Although four openings 1302 are illustrated in FIG. 13, more or fewer top openings may be included in a release member, in other embodiments.

In still other embodiments, a release member may alternatively have a centrally-positioned opening, particularly in an embodiment where the corresponding openings within a dispersal member are arranged in non-centralized positions. In other words, the openings of the release member and the dispersal member may be oppositely or differently arranged, so long as they provide a substantially closed surface when the release member top and the dispersal member top are in contact with each other.

In an embodiment, the cross-section of a release member, as indicated in FIG. 13, is substantially circular. In other embodiments, the cross-section of the release member may take other shapes, including but not limited to, rectangular, square, ovular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal, hourglass, figure-8, other standard geometric shapes, or irregular shapes.

FIG. 14 illustrates a side view of a release member 1400, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, release member 1400 may include one or more projections 1402 and one or more degassing openings 1404. Projections 1402 provide for ratcheted engagement with one or more grooves within a containment member, as described previously.

FIG. 15 illustrates a bottom view of a release member 1500, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, release member 1500 includes a central opening 1502, and may further include one or more projections 1504, which may slidably engage grooves within a containment member.

In an embodiment, a precursor release portion (not illustrated) may be separately formed, and may be attached to the bottom of release member 1500. Accordingly, release member 1500 may include an inner rim 1506, onto which the precursor release portion (not illustrated) may nest or otherwise attach.

FIG. 16 illustrates a bottom view of a precursor release portion 1600, in accordance with an embodiment. Precursor release portion 1600 may include, for example but not by way of limitation, a substantially flat mesh or other surface having openings through which foam precursors may flow. In an embodiment, precursor release portion 1600 may nest or otherwise attach to a portion of a release member (e.g., to inner rim 1506, FIG. 15). In an embodiment, precursor release portion 1600 may be substantially circular. In other embodiments, the precursor release portion may take other shapes, including but not limited to, rectangular, square, ovular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal, hourglass, figure-8, other standard geometric shapes, or irregular shapes.

FIG. 17 illustrates a bottom view of a release member 1700, in accordance with another embodiment. Release member 1700 includes an integrated precursor release portion, which includes a set of horizontally-arranged bars 1702, which define horizontal openings 1704 to the inner compartment (e.g., compartment 1202, FIG. 12) of the release member 1700. FIG. 17 illustrates a particular number of bars 1702. In alternate embodiments, more or fewer bars may be present. In an embodiment, the precursor release portion bars 1702 may be integrally formed with release member 1700. In another embodiment, the precursor release portion bars 1702 may otherwise be attached to release member 1700.

FIG. 18 illustrates a bottom view of a release member 1800, in accordance with still another embodiment. Release member 1800 includes an integrated precursor release portion, which is illustrated as a substantially planar structure 1802 in which multiple apertures 1804 are positioned. The apertures 1804 define openings to the inner compartment (e.g., compartment 1202, FIG. 12) of the release member 1800. FIG. 18 illustrates a particular number of apertures 1804 having hexagonal shapes. In alternate embodiments, more or fewer apertures may be present, and/or the apertures may have different shapes. In an embodiment, the planar structure 1802 may be integrally formed with release member 1800. In another embodiment, the planar structure 1802 may otherwise be attached to release member 1800.

Various embodiments of dispersal members, which may engage with a containment member and/or a release member, will now be described. FIG. 19 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a dispersal member 1900, in accordance with an embodiment. Dispersal member 1900, in an embodiment, may include an interior cavity 1902. Interior cavity 1902 may be defined by dispersal member sidewalls 1904 and a dispersal member top 1906. Dispersal member 1900 may have an opening 1908 at the bottom, in an embodiment.

Dispersal member sidewalls 1902 may include one or more first openings 1910, and dispersal member top 1906 may include one or more second openings 1912. First openings 1910 and second openings 1912 may enable a foam, which results from a foam precursor mixture, to be released from the foam producing mechanism, as was previously described.

In an embodiment, dispersal member 1900 includes one or more projections 1914 which slidably engage with one or more depressions (e.g., grooves 472, FIG. 4) located on outside surfaces of a containment member (e.g., containment member 402, FIG. 4). In an alternate embodiment, the containment member may include one or more projections and the dispersal member may include one or more depressions, which provide for slidable engagement of the two members. In still another alternate embodiment, the dispersal member may include a ridge or other protrusion into opening 1908, which may engage with one or more ring-like depressions around the containment member.

In an embodiment, dispersal member 1900 has a width 1920 in a range of about 5-10 cm, and a height 1922 in a range of about 2-5 cm. In other embodiments, the width 1920 and/or height 1922 may be greater and/or smaller than the above given ranges.

FIG. 20 illustrates a side view of a dispersal member 2000, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, dispersal member 2000 may include one or more side openings 2002, which provide for foam to be released out the sides of the foam producing mechanism. One or more ribs 2004 may interconnect a bottom portion 2006 of the dispersal member sidewall to a top portion 2008 of the dispersal member sidewall. Although three openings 2002 are illustrated in FIG. 20, more or fewer side openings may be included in a dispersal member. Further, the openings may have other than rectangular shapes, in other embodiments.

FIG. 21 illustrates a top view of a dispersal member 2100, in accordance with an embodiment. As described previously, dispersal member 2100 may include one or more top openings 2102, which provide for foam to be released out the top of the foam producing mechanism. Further, in an embodiment, opening 2102 is positioned to correspond to a central portion (e.g., central portion 1304, FIG. 13) in the top of a release member. Although one opening 2102 is illustrated in FIG. 21, more top openings may be included in a dispersal member. Further, a release member may alternatively have one or more non-centralized openings, particularly in an embodiment where the corresponding openings within a release member are arranged in centralized positions.

In an embodiment, the cross-section of the dispersal member, as indicated in FIG. 21, is substantially circular. In other embodiments, the cross-section of the dispersal member may take other shapes, including but not limited to, rectangular, square, ovular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal, hourglass, figure-8, other standard geometric shapes, or irregular shapes.

Various alternate embodiments for foam producing mechanisms will now be described. FIGS. 22 and 23 illustrate a first alternate embodiment, FIGS. 24 and 25 illustrate a second alternate embodiment, and FIGS. 26 and 27 illustrate a third alternate embodiment.

FIG. 22 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism 2200 with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other. Foam producing mechanism 2200 includes a containment member 2202, a release member 2204, and a dispersal member 2206, in an embodiment. [001261 Release member 2204 includes an integrated precursor release portion 2208, in an embodiment. The integrated precursor release portion 2208 may include, for example but not by way of limitation, one or more bars (e.g., bars 1702, FIG. 17), apertures (e.g., apertures 1804, FIG. 18), or other openings, which enable foam precursors 2210, 2212, to pass around or through the integrated precursor release portion 2208.

Release member 2204 may include, in an embodiment, one or more protrusions 2214, which are adapted to nest into one or more indentations 2216 within containment member 2202. In an embodiment, protrusion 2214 forms an annular ring, which encircles the outside surface 2218 of release member 2204, and indentations 2216 form cooperatively shaped annular indentations on the inside surface 2220 of containment member 2202. In a further embodiment, the cross-sectional area of protrusion 2214 may be substantially triangular, as illustrated in FIG. 22, which may facilitate protrusion 2214 sequentially ratcheting down into annular indentations 2216. In an embodiment, triangular protrusions 2214 and corresponding indentations 2216 may function to allow members 2202, 2204 readily to be compressed together, and further to retain them in a compressed relative state and retard their separation, in an embodiment.

In FIG. 22, protrusions 2214 are located in a top one of indentations 2216. As release member 2204 and containment member 2202 are compressed together, protrusions 2214 may sequentially ratchet down into lower indentations 2216.

FIG. 23 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 22, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other. In the illustrated embodiment, protrusions 2210 have ratcheted down into a bottom one of indentations 2212. During compression, foam precursors 2210, 2212 are released and flow into release member 2204. FIG. 23 illustrates protrusions 2214 being located in a bottom one of indentations 2216. In an embodiment, as a foam is produced from the mixture of foam precursors 2210, 2212, release member 2204 should substantially retain its position, with respect to containment member 2202, and dispersal member 2206 should move upward, with respect to containment member 2202.

FIG. 24 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of still another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism 2400 with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other. Foam producing mechanism 2400 includes a containment member 2402, a release member 2404, and a dispersal member 2406, in an embodiment.

Containment member 2402 includes integrated or attached walls 2408, which are adapted to form cups 2410 to contain foam precursor components 2412, 2414. In an embodiment, walls 2408 include a top rim 2416, onto which one or more rupturable precursor seals 2420 may be affixed.

Release member 2404 includes a protruding precursor release portion 2422, in an embodiment. When release member 2404 and containment member 2402 are compressed together, protruding precursor release portion 2422 may function to rupture precursor seal 2420 and press into cups 2410, thus releasing foam precursor components 2412, 2414. In an embodiment, protruding precursor release portion 2422 may include one or more bottom openings 2424, which enable foam precursors 2412, 2414, to pass around or through the bottom of protruding precursor release portion 2422. Protruding precursor release portion 2422 may include one or more interior openings 2426, which enable foam precursors 2412, 2414, once released, to be mixed.

FIG. 25 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 24, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other. Protruding precursor release portion 2422 is shown to have ruptured and compressed precursor seal 2420 toward the bottom of cups 2410, and to have released foam precursors 2412, 2414. In an embodiment, as a foam is produced from the mixture of foam precursors 2412, 2414, release member 2404 should substantially retain its position, with respect to containment member 2402, and dispersal member 2406 should move upward, with respect to containment member 2402.

FIG. 26 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of still another embodiment of a foam producing mechanism 2600 with members in a pre-activation relative orientation with respect to each other. Foam producing mechanism 2600 includes a containment member 2602, a release member 2604, and a dispersal member 2606, in an embodiment.

Containment member 2602 may house two or more foam precursor compartments 2608, 2610, within which foam precursor components 2612, 2614 are held. In an embodiment, foam precursor compartments 2608, 2610 are formed of a material suitable to be popped or punctured by a sharp object.

Release member 2604 includes one or more protruding precursor release portions 2612, in an embodiment. When release member 2604 and containment member 2602 are compressed together, protruding precursor release portions 2612 may function to pop or puncture foam precursor compartments 2608, 2610, thus releasing foam precursor components 2612, 2614. In an alternate embodiment, one or more protruding precursor release portions may be attached to dispersal member 2606, rather than or in addition to being attached to release member 2604.

FIG. 27 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of the foam producing mechanism of FIG. 26, with members in a chamber-forming relative orientation with respect to each other. Protruding precursor release portions 2612 are shown to have popped or punctured foam precursor compartments 2608, 2610, and to have released foam precursors 2612, 2614. In an embodiment, as a foam is produced from the mixture of foam precursors 2612, 2614, release member 2604 should substantially retain its position, with respect to containment member 2602, and dispersal member 2606 should move upward, with respect to containment member 2602.

FIG. 28 illustrates a flowchart of a method for making a foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with an embodiment. The method begins, in block 28, by manufacturing or otherwise obtaining the members of the foam producing mechanism (e.g., containment member, release member, and dispersal member).

The containment member, release member, and dispersal member may be formed from the same, similar, or different materials as each other. In an embodiment, some or all of the members are formed substantially from a plastic material. In various embodiments, the plastic material may include thermoset and/or elastomer materials, and consequently may be relatively rigid. In other embodiments, the plastic material may include thermoplastic material. For example, but not by way of limitation, some or all of the members may include plastics selected from a group of plastics that includes polyethylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), polypropylene (PP), vinyl/polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), acrylic, delrin, nylon, glycolized polyesther (PETG), phenolic, polycarbonate, ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polymers, other plastic or polymer materials, and combinations thereof. In other embodiments, some or all of the members, or portions thereof may additionally or alternatively be formed from metals, alloys, fiberglass, or other materials.

The members may be formed using one or more of a variety of manufacturing processes. For example, but not by way of limitation, one or more processes used to manufacture the members may include injection molding, reaction injection molding, casting, blow molding, thermoforming, dispersion molding, and compression molding. Other techniques suitable for forming the members may be used, in other embodiments.

Referring again to FIG. 28, in block 2804, foam precursor compartments may be filled with precursor components and sealed. FIGS. 29-31 illustrate an embodiment of a foam precursor compartment, and the process of filling and sealing the compartment. Although FIGS. 29-31 illustrate foam precursor compartments having only one “cup,” in other embodiments, foam precursor compartments may be integrally formed with multiple “cups.”

FIG. 29 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of an unfilled foam precursor compartment, prior to filling, in accordance with an embodiment. A foam precursor compartment may include a cup 2902 having an interior compartment 2904 defined by an opening 2906 at the top, sidewalls 2908, and a bottom 2910. In an embodiment, cup 2902 may further include a rim 2912.

In an embodiment, cup 2902 is formed from a material that provides a sufficient moisture and vapor barrier to achieve a reasonable shelf-life for the apparatus. In an embodiment, the material may include a plastic, metal, or other material. Further, in an embodiment, cup 2902 is formed from a material that may be readily crushed (e.g., by a release member of a foam producing mechanism). Sidewalls 2908 may be substantially straight, in an embodiment, or may include one or more ribs, which facilitate crushing in a direction indicated generally by arrow 2914. The cup material may be a homogenous, or may be formed in layers. In an embodiment, cup 2902 is formed from a plastic material using a thermoforming or other manufacturing process.

FIG. 30 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam precursor compartment of FIG. 29, after filling, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, a sufficient quantity of a liquid foam precursor component 3002 is injected into cup 2902. The quantity of foam precursor component 3002 is selected to be in the proper proportion to another foam precursor component (not illustrated), which may be injected into a separate cup. In addition, the quantity of foam precursor component 3002 is selected to produce a desired quantity of foam.

For example, in an embodiment, one or more first compartments may include about 88 grams of an isocyanate-including foam precursor component, and one or more second compartments may include about 63 grams of a polyol-including foam precursor component. In alternate embodiments, one or more first compartments may include a quantity of an isocyanate-including foam precursor component in a range of about 44 grams to about 176 grams, and one or more second compartments may include a quantity of a polyol-including foam precursor component in a range of about 31 grams to about 126 grams. In still other embodiments, more or less isocyanate-including foam precursor component and/or polyol-including foam precursor component may be included.

In still another alternate embodiment, the ingredients of either or both of the isocyanate-including foam precursor component or the polyol-including foam precursor component may be divided into multiple compartments. For example, but not by way of limitation, if the polyol-including foam precursor component includes two polyols and one or more additives, a first polyol may be included in a first compartment, a second polyol may be included in a second compartment, and one or more of the additives may be included in a third compartment. Other divisions of ingredients may be possible in various embodiments.

FIG. 31 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of a foam precursor compartment of FIGS. 29 and 30, after sealing, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, a seal 3102 is then applied (e.g., using an adhesive) to the rim 2912 of cup 2902. Seal 3102 may be formed from a material that provides a sufficient moisture and vapor barrier to achieve a reasonable shelf-life for the apparatus. In an embodiment, the material may include a plastic, metal, or other material. The seal material may be a homogenous, or may be formed in layers. In a particular embodiment, a foam precursor compartment is substantially similar to a cell of a “blister pack,” which includes a plastic cup (e.g., cup 2902) and a metallic or plastic seal (e.g., seal 3102).

In an embodiment, the foam precursor compartments may have roughly a split cylinder shape, so that two foam precursor compartments may fit together somewhat snugly within a containment member.

FIG. 32 illustrates a perspective, exterior view of a foam precursor compartment, in accordance with an embodiment. In an embodiment, a foam precursor compartment is adapted to occupy about one half of the bottom of a containment member. When two foam precursor compartments are placed in the bottom of the containment member, they two compartments may be adapted to occupy substantially all of the bottom of the containment member. In an embodiment, a top 3202 and bottom (not shown) of a foam precursor compartment may have roughly a semi-circular shape, which may correspond to a containment member having a circular cross-section (e.g., as illustrated in FIG. 11). Further, in an embodiment, a foam precursor compartment may have a first side 3204, which is substantially straight in a vertical direction, but arched along a horizontal plane, as illustrated. In an embodiment, the foam precursor compartment may have a second side 3206, which is substantially rectangular, along a vertical plane. The second side 3206 may contact a correspondingly similar side of another foam precursor compartment, when they are placed together in a containment member.

In alternate embodiments, a foam precursor compartment may have a significantly different shape, particularly when the containment member has a non-circular cross-section, when the relative quantities of foam precursor components are significantly different, when more than two foam precursor compartments are to fit within a containment member, or when the foam precursor compartments are in a nested configuration.

Viewed from the top, the foam precursor compartments, whether they are integrated with or placed within a containment member, may take on any of a variety of configurations. FIGS. 33-35 illustrate several examples. The illustrated embodiments are for example purposes, and are not meant to limit the scope of the inventive subject matter only to the illustrated embodiments. Particularly, more, fewer, or differently shaped compartments may be used, in other embodiments. Further, in an embodiment, compartments may be stacked on top of each other within a containment member, rather than situated side-by-side.

FIG. 33 illustrates a top view of two foam precursor compartments 3302, 3304, in accordance with an embodiment. Both compartments 3302, 3304 include substantially semi-circular top surfaces, which together substantially form an entire circle. In various embodiments, the size of the compartments 3302, 3304 may be different. FIG. 33 depicts one such embodiment, where the top of compartment 3302 consumes more of the circle than the top of compartment 3304.

FIG. 34 illustrates a top view of four foam precursor compartments 3402, 3404, 3406, 3408, in accordance with another embodiment. Each compartment 3402, 3404, 3406, 3408 includes a substantially quarter-circular top surface. In an embodiment, an isocyanate-including foam precursor component may be contained within one or more, but fewer than all of the compartments, and a polyol-including foam precursor component may be contained within the remainder of the compartments. For example, but not by way of limitation, an isocyanate-including foam precursor component may be contained within compartment 3402, and a polyol-including foam precursor component may be contained within compartments 3404, 3406, 3408.

FIG. 35 illustrates a top view of two foam precursor compartments 3502, 3504, in accordance with another embodiment. Foam precursor compartment 3502 includes a substantially circular top surface, and foam precursor compartment 3504 includes a substantially donut-shaped top surface. In the illustrated embodiment, foam precursor compartment 3502 nests inside an open center of foam precursor compartment 3504.

Referring again to FIG. 28, in block 2806, the filled and sealed foam precursor compartments may be placed within an unassembled foam producing mechanism. In an embodiment, the foam precursor compartments are placed within the bottom of the containment member. In an embodiment, the foam precursor compartments may be affixed to the bottom of the containment member, for example, with an adhesive. In other embodiments, the foam precursor compartments may be placed within, and possibly affixed to, another member.

In alternate embodiments, as described previously, the containment member may include two or more integrated cups (e.g., cups 2410, FIG. 24) within which precursor components may be placed and sealed (e.g., using seal 2420, FIG. 24). In such embodiments, blocks 2804 and 2806 may be appropriately modified.

In block 2808, the foam producing mechanism may be assembled. In an embodiment, assembly includes inserting the release member into the interior cavity of the containment member, so that the release member is in an uncompressed position (e.g., the release member is not compressing against the foam precursor compartments in a manner that they may rupture). Assembly may further include installing the dispersal member over the release member, and connecting the containment member within the interior cavity of the dispersal member, so that the dispersal member is in an uncompressed position. In an embodiment, the dispersal member top may make contact with the release member top, when the assembly is completed.

In block 2810, the assembled foam producing mechanism may be affixed within the interior space (e.g., interior space 112, FIG. 1) of the flexible carrier (e.g., flexible carrier 102, FIG. 1). The foam producing mechanism may be affixed, for example, by an adhesive or other securing component (e.g., securing component 106, FIG. 1). In an embodiment, the securing component may include one or more bands or beads of adhesive (e.g., hot melt adhesive), which adhere the mechanism to the inner surface of the flexible carrier. In an embodiment, the securing component includes an adhesive of a pressure sensitive type.

In block 2812, the flexible carrier may be sealed (e.g., heat or pressure sealed). In an embodiment, an intermittent seal may be formed during the sealing process, to enable gasses to escape the apparatus during use.

The flexible carrier may then be folded, and the apparatus may be packaged, in block 2814. In an embodiment, the apparatus is packaged within a container, so that the foam producing mechanism is not likely to be unintentionally compressed, prior to use. An apparatus may be packaged separately, or multiple apparatus may be packaged together. The method then ends.

FIG. 36 illustrates a flowchart of a method for using a foam cushion forming apparatus, in accordance with an embodiment. The method begins, in block 3602, when a user obtains a first unactivated foam cushion forming apparatus. An unactivated apparatus corresponds, in various embodiments, to an apparatus having a foam producing mechanism in a pre-activation relative orientation (e.g., as exemplified in FIGS. 4, 22, 24, and 26). Although an apparatus may be pre-heated prior to use, preheating the apparatus is bypassed, in an embodiment.

In block 3604, the user may provide a first user input to release the foam precursors. In an embodiment, the first user input may include the user grabbing the portion of the flexible carrier within which the foam producing mechanism is located (e.g., the user may place his or her thumb on the bottom of the containment member and his or her fingers on the top of the dispersal member), and may pinch the members together into a compressed or chamber-forming relative orientation (e.g., as exemplified in FIGS. 5, 23, 25, and 27). Alternatively, the user may place the apparatus on a surface, and may push down on the top of the dispersal member (through the flexible carrier) with his or her palm. Compressing the members may rupture the foam precursor compartments, and thus release the foam precursors. Further, compressing the members may result in the members forming a mixing chamber, within which the foam precursors are located.

In block 3606, the user may provide a second user input to mix the foam precursors. For example, in an embodiment, the user may shake the apparatus for a period of time to mix the foam precursors within the mixing chamber. In an embodiment, this initiates formation of a foam.

Before or during foam formation, the user may place the apparatus in a container (e.g., a box or envelope), in block 3608. If a container is not being used to assist in immobilization, or if the apparatus is already incorporated within a container, then this block may be bypassed.

As the foam expands out of the foam producing mechanism and into the flexible carrier, the user may place one or more objects in proximity to the apparatus, in block 3608. For example, if the apparatus is being used to immobilize an object in a shipping container, the user may place the apparatus in the bottom of the shipping container, and as the foam expands, the user may place the object onto the flexible carrier. Alternatively, for example, if the apparatus is being used as a splint to immobilize a body part, the user may place the body part onto the flexible carrier, as the foam expands. In this situation, the apparatus may be further secured to the body part, once the foam has hardened, using an attachment mechanism.

Optionally, the user may then obtain one or more additional unactivated foam cushion forming apparatus, in block 3612, and may repeat the processes described in blocks 3604, 3606, and 3610. For example, a user may activate a second apparatus, and place the apparatus on top of an object within a shipping container. In block 3614, the container, if one is being used, may be closed as the foam is forming. In an embodiment, the additional apparatus may substantially fill portions of the remaining unfilled container, and thus further immobilize the object. The method then ends.

Embodiments of the inventive subject matter could be used in a number of different applications. For example, but not by way of limitation, embodiments could be used within a shipping container (e.g., a box, envelope, or other container) to immobilize objects being shipped. As another example, embodiments could be used as a splint to immobilize a body part. As another example, embodiments could be used to produce a flotation device (e.g., a lifesaving ring, kickboard, raft, buoy, or another type of device), on demand. As another example, embodiments could be used to plug openings, for example, to temporarily plug channels, leaks or ruptures in air handling, liquid handling, or other systems. FIGS. 37-39 illustrate several example applications. It is to be understood that these Figures are for example purposes only, and are not meant to limit the applicability of the inventive subject matter only to the example applications shown.

FIG. 37 illustrates a cut-away, perspective view of a shipping container 3702 (e.g., a box) within which an object 3704 is immobilized using two foam cushion forming apparatus 3706, 3708, in accordance with an embodiment. To achieve the illustrated configuration, a first foam cushion forming apparatus 3706 may be activated and placed in the bottom of the shipping container 3702. As the foam expands, the first foam cushion forming apparatus 3706 may contact interior surfaces of the shipping container 3702.

Before or during foam formation or thereafter, an object 3704 (in this case a monitor) may be placed on or near the first foam cushion forming apparatus 3706. If the foam has not yet hardened completely, the first foam cushion forming apparatus 3706 may contour around a portion of the object 3704. If the foam has hardened, the object 3704 may rest atop the first foam cushion forming apparatus 3706.

A second foam cushion forming apparatus 3708 may be activated and placed on top of the object 3704. The shipping container 3702 may then be closed. The second foam cushion forming apparatus 3708 may contour around a portion of the object 3704 and may also contact interior surfaces of the shipping container 3702. After the foam has hardened, the object 3704 may be at least partially immobilized within the shipping container 3702.

In the embodiment described in conjunction with FIG. 37, the foam cushion forming apparatus 3706, 3708 are separable from shipping container 3702. In an alternate embodiment, one or more foam cushion forming apparatus may be attached within a shipping container, and the apparatus may be activated within or through the surfaces of the shipping container.

FIG. 38 illustrates a cross-sectional, side view of an envelope 3802 within which an object 3804 is immobilized using one or more foam cushion forming apparatus 3806, in accordance with another embodiment. To achieve the illustrated configuration, a foam cushion forming apparatus 3806 may be activated and placed in the envelope 3802. As the foam expands, the foam cushion forming apparatus 3806 may contact interior surfaces of the envelope 3802.

Before or during foam formation or thereafter, an object 3804 may be placed on or near the foam cushion forming apparatus 3806. If the foam has not yet hardened completely, the foam cushion forming apparatus 3806 may contour around a portion of the object 3804. If the foam has hardened, the object 3804 may rest atop the foam cushion forming apparatus 3806.

The envelope 3802 may then be closed. After the foam has hardened, the object 3804 may be at least partially immobilized within the envelope 3802.

In the embodiment described in conjunction with FIG. 38, the foam cushion forming apparatus 3806 is separable from envelope 3802. In an alternate embodiment, a foam cushion forming apparatus may be attached within an envelope, and the apparatus may be activated within or through the surfaces of the envelope.

FIG. 39 illustrates a perspective view of a foam cushion forming apparatus 3902 adapted as a splint for a body part, in accordance with another embodiment. In an embodiment, foam cushion forming apparatus 3902 may include a flexible carrier and a foam producing mechanism, as discussed previously in conjunction with various embodiments. Foam cushion forming apparatus 3902 may additionally include one or more rigid or semi-rigid support structures, which may be adapted to loosely contour around a body part, in an embodiment, where a foam cushion forming apparatus may be positioned between the support structure and the body part.

In an embodiment, a foam cushion forming apparatus 3902 may be activated, as described previously. As the foam is expanding, the apparatus 3902 may be placed in proximity to a body part being immobilized (e.g., a leg (as shown), an arm, a finger, a head/neck, etc.). The expanding foam within the apparatus may cause the apparatus to contour around the body part being immobilized. Once the foam hardens, the body part may be completely or partially immobilized.

In an embodiment, the expansion limits of the flexible carrier are selected with a particular body part in mind. In some cases, the flexible carrier may be designed so that the apparatus will not completely surround the body part, thus making subsequent removal of the apparatus easier, and less likely to cause damaging manipulation to the body part. During foam formation or after the foam has hardened, the apparatus 3902 may then be loosely secured (e.g., using straps 3904 or other securement mechanisms).

Various embodiments of foam cushion forming apparatus and methods have been described. The inventive subject matter is not to be construed as being limited to any particular configuration of its component parts. The inventive subject matter's use is extremely flexible, being readily adaptable to any application in which one or more of its advantages are desired to be achieved. The apparatus and methods depicted in the Figures are merely examples of applications in which the inventive subject matter can be used.

It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized, and that process, material, chemical or mechanical changes may be made, without departing from the scope of the inventive subject matter. Various permutations and combinations will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. In particular, but not by way of limitation, the arrangements and interconnections between various, illustrated functional blocks and method steps can be different, and other and different functional blocks and steps can be used to achieve the same function, in substantially the same way, to achieve substantially the same result.

Further, the arrangements of the various members of the foam producing mechanism can be different (e.g., it can include more, fewer or different components than those illustrated and described, or the components can be interconnected in different ways). The various members also may be engaged using different types of mechanisms than those described, and/or some or all of the members may be integrally connected together. Further, various features illustrated in the Figures may be used in different combinations than the combinations illustrated, in alternate embodiments. In addition, where various components and elements are illustrated singularly in the illustrated configurations, multiple ones of some or all of the components and/or elements may be included in alternate configurations.

Further, the compositions of the foam precursor components may be different. For example, foam precursors other than isocyanate-including and/or polyol-including foam precursors may be used. Accordingly, the terms “isocyanate-including” and “polyol-including” are not meant to limit the inventive subject matter only to these types of foam precursors.

Further, the dimensions also may be changed. For example, the illustrated embodiments depict a foam producing mechanism that has a width (in the horizontal direction) that is greater than its height. In alternate embodiments, the opposite may be the case, and the foam producing mechanism may be substantially tubular in shape. In addition, the various shapes (e.g., substantially circular, rectangular, etc.) may be varied.

The foregoing description of specific embodiments reveals the general nature of the inventive subject matter sufficiently that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt it for various applications without departing from the generic concept. Therefore, such adaptations and modifications are within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments. The phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation. Therefore, it is manifestly intended that the inventive subject matter be limited only by the claims and the equivalents thereof.

It is emphasized that the Abstract is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. §1.72(b), which requires an Abstract that will allow a reader to ascertain the nature and gist of the technical disclosure. The Abstract is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims.

In the foregoing Detailed Description, various features are occasionally grouped together in a single embodiment for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed embodiments of the subject matter require more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive subject matter lies in less than all features of a single disclosed embodiment. Thus, the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate preferred embodiment.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8006844Sep 21, 2007Aug 30, 2011Ivex Protective Packaging, Inc.Packaging system for producing a foam-in-bag and method of mixing foam
WO2009039036A1 *Sep 12, 2008Mar 26, 2009Ivex Protective Packaging CorpPackaging system for producing a foam-in bag and method of mixing foam
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/403
International ClassificationB65B31/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B55/20, B29C44/183, B65D81/051
European ClassificationB65B55/20, B65D81/05A, B29C44/18C2