US 20060278656 A1
A valve assembly has a spout having a central opening in communication with an interior of the bag, and a circumferential interior sidewall. There is a sliding valve disposed within the central opening, the sliding valve having an open position wherein contents of the bag can flow through the valve, and a closed position, where the valve is sealed against the interior sidewall of the spout. There is a valve actuator connected to a dispensing apparatus. The valve actuator moves the sliding valve from a closed position to an open position when the spout is placed on the actuator, and the actuator moves the sliding valve from an open position to a closed position when the spout is removed from the valve actuator. The sliding valve remains in its set open or closed position until it is moved by the actuator. This arrangement prevents leakage of the container when the container is not being used in a dispensing apparatus.
1. A valve assembly for dispensing liquid from a bag-in-box container, comprising:
a spout having a central opening in communication with an interior of the bag, and a circumferential interior sidewall;
a sliding valve disposed within the central opening, said sliding valve having an open position wherein contents of the bag can flow through the valve, and a closed position, where the valve is sealed against the interior sidewall; and
a valve actuator adapted to be connected to a dispensing apparatus, said valve actuator moving the sliding valve from a closed position to an open position when said spout is placed on said actuator, and said valve actuator moving said sliding valve from an open position to a closed position when said spout is removed from said valve actuator.
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This application claims priority under 35 USC 119(e) of United States Provisional Application No. 60/690,327 filed on Jun. 14, 2005.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a valve assembly for use with a bag-in-box type liquid container. The valve assembly comprises a spout, a sliding valve within the spout and an actuator for actuating the valve, along with a support handle, for use with a bag in box container intended to carry a liquid such as juice or other fluids therein.
Bag-in-box type fluid containers are well known. Such containers are usually formed by a bag created from a film material which is intended to carry a liquid therein, with the bag then being fully enclosed by a corrugated box. The bag is produced with a fluid exit opening to which is scaled an exit port sealingly engaged to the fluid exit opening. The method of securing the exit port to the fluid exit opening is usually dependent upon the material of which the bag is produced, and certainly includes such procedures as heat sealing, adhesive sealing, and the like. The box has an opening corresponding to the exit port of the bag so that the bag can be contained within the box and have the exit port extending outwardly from the corrugated box. In many applications, the bag-in-box assembly is installed in a device which has a valve assembly of some type such that once the box is installed in the assembly, the valve may be alternately opened and closed to permit fluid to exit from the bag for consumption.
The advantage that such containers have over other older containers is that the fluid contained within the bag will stay fresher for much longer periods of time and the product has an extended shelf life. Furthermore, such assemblies do not require air holes in the container in order to permit the fluid to flow and exit from the container into the consumer's vessel.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,390,814 describes a bag-in-box container for containing a pharmaceutical fluid. That invention provides a fitment which may be interposed between the plastic pouch with the box, and the valve so that the valve may be rigidly secured to the pouch. The fitment is constructed from a rigid plastic which is thermally welded to the pouch by a sealing sleeve and otherwise then affixed to the valve so that the valve is securely fitted to the pouch. The valve permits fluid to be extracted from the pouch with the fitment extending outwardly from the box through an aperture. The description indicates that various valve structures may be used in connection with the pouch, including a flap valve, or a ball check valve.
United States Pat. No. 6,561,386 to Martens discloses a ball check valve assembly for use with bag-in-box type containers, where the exit port of the container is fitted with a ball check valve. The valve is opened upon placement of the valve onto a fitting in the dispensing machine, which pushes the spring-loaded ball upward into the container to release the contents of the container. This system has many disadvantages, however, because the ball is easily released, and the contents are particularly prone to leaking out of the valve. In addition to the mess created by leaking containers, it also increases the risk of contamination of the contents inside the containers.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a bag-in-box liquid containing assembly having an improved valve assembly that permits a juice to be efficiently dispensed from the bag without the risk of leakage or contamination.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a valve assembly which has a support structure to prevent the valve from collapsing inside the container.
These and other objects are accomplished by a valve assembly comprising a spout having a central opening in communication with an interior of the bag, and a circumferential interior sidewall. There is a sliding valve disposed within the central opening. The sliding valve has an open position where contents of the bag are in communication with an aperture in the valve and can thus flow out of the spout, and a closed position, where the apertures in the valve are sealed against the interior sidewall of the spout. There is a valve actuator connected to a dispensing apparatus. The valve actuator moves the sliding valve from a closed position to an open position when the spout is placed on the actuator, and the valve actuator moves the sliding valve from an open position to a closed position when the spout is removed from the valve actuator. The actuator has a channel extending through the center of the actuator, to allow the liquid to flow through and into the dispensing appartus when the valve is in the open position. The sliding valve remains in its set open or closed position until it is moved by the actuator. This arrangement prevents leakage of the container when the container is not being used in a dispensing apparatus.
The sliding valve has a plurality of gripping fingers disposed around a circumference of the valve. The actuator has a corresponding circumferential groove. When the valve is in the closed position, the gripping fingers press against an interior sidewall of the spout and keep the valve closed, preventing inadvertent sliding of the valve. In the open position, actuator pushes the sliding valve inward toward the box and the gripping fingers are pressed inward and into the groove of the actuator, to allow the valve to slide within the central opening. This keeps the valve and actuator moving securely together.
There is a support structure surrounding the spout, to retain the spout on an outside of the bag-in-box container. In containers lacking the ring, excess inward pressure on the spout, either during transit or by the dispensing machine can cause the spout to collapse into the box and be difficult to use. The structure comprises a ring that surrounds the base of the spout and covers the opening of the box where the spout emerges, so that excess pressure on the spout is diffused by the ring and does not allow the spout to collapse. The support ring can be connected to a handle so that the bag-in-box container can be carried by the handle. The support ring and handle are preferably made from a stiff, durable molded plastic.
In a preferred embodiment, the sliding valve has a concave front surface and the actuator has a convex end portion, such that the convex end portion fits within the concave front surface to move the valve between open and closed positions. The rounded concave/convex arrangement also facilitates placement of the valve on the actuator, because the valve does not have to be aligned perfectly vertically in order to fit onto the actuator. This is important, because the containers can be heavy. The rounded shape provides a self-correcting alignment of the valve and actuator.
The spout preferably has an threaded exterior sidewall so that the spout can accommodate sealing caps.
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed as an illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.
Turning in detail to the drawings,
To open valve 30, an actuator 40 is inserted into the rounded inner cavity 32 of valve 30, as shown in
To close valve 30, actuator 40 is pulled out of spout 20, which slides valve 30 toward a distal end of spout 20, thus causing apertures 35 to be sealed against inside wall 32 and shut off any fluid flow. Pulling actuator 40 fully out of spout 20 then causes fingers 31 to spring out from groove 41 and come to rest again against the end portion of inside wall 21, to fix valve 30 in the closed position.
Because valve 30 cannot be easily moved unless it is pushed or pulled by actuator 40, valve 30 is less prone to inadvertent openings, thus, decreasing the risk if leakage and contamination. Standard ball valves are easily actuated during transit and leakage and contamination of the product is common.
Spout 20 can be equipped with external threads 24, to which a cap can be connected, if desired. In addition, threaded fittings from the dispensing machine could also be connected to spout 20 via threads 24.
As shown in
Accordingly, while only a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is obvious that many changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.