US 20080134641 A1
A packaged diaper that is compact and portable comprises a diaper that is vacuum-packaged. The packaged diaper is dimensioned to fit within the pocket of an article of clothing to be worn on one's person. The vacuum-packaged diaper includes packaging made from a substantially flexible, substantially air impermeable material; and a diaper contained within said packaging in a compressed condition. The packaging is hermetically sealed and a negative pressure exists within said packaging such that said diaper is maintained in the compressed condition.
16. A method for vacuum-packaging a single disposable diaper to yield a single individually packaged disposable diaper that is compact and portable, comprising the steps of:
(a) compressing the disposable diaper from a first condition to a second, compressed condition such that each of at least two dimensions of the disposable diaper is reduced, and such that at least one of the reduced dimensions is reduced by at least 30%, said step of compressing being performed without folding of the disposable diaper and without rolling of the disposable diaper; and
(b) retaining the disposable diaper in the second, compressed condition by,
(i) locating the diaper in an interior space defined by a substantially flexible material,
(ii) creating a negative pressure within the interior space, and
(iii) hermetically sealing the diaper at the negative pressure within the interior space of the flexible material such that a pressure differential acts upon the flexible material to maintain the diaper in the compressed condition;
(c) wherein the disposable diaper is the only diaper located within the interior space of the flexible material.
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163. A method of folding a disposable diaper for packaging, comprising folding the diaper along three fold lines, each fold line generally extending in a transverse direction, wherein the diaper is folded such that the diaper is disposed in a generally “M” shaped folded arrangement with a first transverse end edge of the diaper being disposed on the same side of the diaper as a second transverse end edge of the diaper.
164. A method of packaging a diaper, comprising the steps of:
(a) folding the diaper along three fold lines, each fold line generally extending in a transverse direction, wherein the diaper is folded such that the diaper is disposed in a generally “M” shaped folded arrangement with a first transverse end edge of the diaper being disposed on the same side of the diaper as a second transverse end edge of the diaper; and
(b) vacuum-packaging the diaper while disposed in the folded arrangement.
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168. The packaged compressible absorbent article of
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170. The packaged compressible absorbent article of
This application is a continuation-in-part of, and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 to, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/421,754, filed Jun. 1, 2006, which '754 application published as U.S. patent application publication no. US 2006/0206078 A1, and which '754 application is a continuation-in-part of, and claims priority to, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/560,246, filed Apr. 26, 2000. Each of these patent applications and patent publication is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
Additionally, both of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/907,389 and its corresponding publication—U.S. patent application publication no. U.S. Ser. No. ______, are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
All of the material in this patent document is subject to copyright protection under the copyright laws of the United States and of other countries. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
The present invention relates to absorbent articles such as diapers and sanitary napkins. More particularly, the present invention relates to absorbent articles that are packaged at reduced volume to become ultra-compact and highly portable.
One of the drawbacks of disposable diapers is portability, particularly during travel, whether long-distance travel or simply to the neighborhood store. Parents need to pack a sufficient number of diapers in a diaper bag to last the duration of the trip. However, while not necessarily heavy, disposable diapers are bulky and occupy a large amount of space. Accordingly, a diaper bag in tow with a traveling parent is cumbersome and a nuisance. Indeed, a single disposable diaper may not fit into most purses or a jacket breast pocket even for short trips. In view of the foregoing, there remains a need in the art for absorbent articles that are compact and portable.
According to one aspect of the invention, a set of compact absorbent articles includes a plurality of absorbent articles and a packaging. Each of the absorbent articles, such as a diaper or a sanitary napkin, is reconfigurable from a normal condition to a compressed condition. The packaging includes a plurality of compartments each for receiving one of the absorbent articles in the compressed condition. Each of the absorbent articles has three dimensions, at least one of which is reduced when the absorbent article is in the compressed condition, with each of the absorbent articles being retained by the packaging when in the compressed condition.
According to various aspects of the invention, the packaging may have release seams disposed between the compartments, so that a user can remove an individual article in its compartment from the other articles in the packaging. Also, each of the absorbent articles may be are vacuumed sealed at negative pressure in the packaging. In addition, the dimension that is reduced may be reduced by at least 30% when the absorbent articles are in the compressed condition. Further, each of the absorbent articles may be reconfigured from the normal condition to the compressed condition by negative pressure, physical force, rolling, or folding.
Regarding advantages, the individually packaged compressed absorbent articles are highly compact and, accordingly, readily portable. In addition, a packaged absorbent article can be easily carried in a purse or a breast pocket of a blazer. In a multipack packaging embodiment, the multipack may be conveniently carried in, e.g., a bag, with individual absorbent articles removed from the multipack as needed.
Additional aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
As a preliminary matter, it will readily be understood by one having ordinary skill in the relevant art (“Ordinary Artisan”) that the present invention has broad utility and application. Furthermore, any embodiment discussed and identified as being “preferred” is considered to be part of a best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. Other embodiments also may be discussed for additional illustrative purposes in providing a full and enabling disclosure of the present invention. Moreover, many embodiments, such as adaptations, variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements, will be implicitly disclosed by the embodiments described herein and fall within the scope of the present invention.
Accordingly, while the present invention is described herein in detail in relation to one or more embodiments, it is to be understood that this disclosure is illustrative and exemplary of the present invention, and is made merely for the purposes of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the present invention. The detailed disclosure herein of one or more embodiments is not intended, nor is to be construed, to limit the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention, which scope is to be defined by the claims and the equivalents thereof. It is not intended that the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention be defined by reading into any claim a limitation found herein that does not explicitly appear in the claim itself.
Thus, for example, any sequence(s) and/or temporal order of steps of various processes or methods that are described herein are illustrative and not restrictive. Accordingly, it should be understood that, although steps of various processes or methods may be shown and described as being in a sequence or temporal order, the steps of any such processes or methods are not limited to being carried out in any particular sequence or order, absent an indication otherwise. Indeed, the steps in such processes or methods generally may be carried out in various different sequences and orders while still falling within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention is to be defined by the appended claims rather than the description set forth herein.
Additionally, it is important to note that each term used herein refers to that which the Ordinary Artisan would understand such term to mean based on the contextual use of such term herein. To the extent that the meaning of a term used herein-as understood by the Ordinary Artisan based on the contextual use of such term-differs in any way from any particular dictionary definition of such term, it is intended that the meaning of the term as understood by the Ordinary Artisan should prevail.
Furthermore, it is important to note that, as used herein, “a” and “an” each generally denotes “at least one,” but does not exclude a plurality unless the contextual use dictates otherwise. Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having an apple” describes “a picnic basket having at least one apple” as well as “a picnic basket having apples.” In contrast, reference to “a picnic basket having a single apple” describes “a picnic basket having only one apple.”
When used herein to join a list of items, “or” denotes “at least one of the items,” but does not exclude a plurality of items of the list. Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having cheese or crackers” describes “a picnic basket having cheese without crackers”, “a picnic basket having crackers without cheese”, and “a picnic basket having both cheese and crackers.” Finally, when used herein to join a list of items, “and” denotes “all of the items of the list.” Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having cheese and crackers” describes “a picnic basket having cheese, wherein the picnic basket further has crackers,” as well as describes “a picnic basket having crackers, wherein the picnic basket further has cheese.”
Referring now to the drawings, an absorbent article is shown in
For example, the absorbent article 10 is shown in
The absorbent article 10 is illustrated schematically in the drawings but may be configured as any type of absorbent article as known in the art, for example, a diaper, either infant or adult, a feminine sanitary napkin, and so on. The absorbent article 10 is made from resilient and compressible material that is able to retain fluid. Examples of diapers are disclosed in U.S. Statutory Invention Registration No. H1674 and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,520,674; 5,522,810; 5,855,574; 5,876,393; and 5,980,500. Examples of feminine sanitary napkins are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,490,847; 5,653,702; 5,792,131; 5,797,894; and 6,015,934. The disclosure of each of these patents is incorporated herein by reference.
Being made from resilient absorptive material, exemplary article 10 is compressible in at least one dimension. However, to minimize the amount of compressed volume Vc, it is preferable for the absorbent article 10 to be compressible in three dimensions, as mentioned above. More specifically, as shown in
To compress, the absorbent article 10 may be subject to compressive force, thereby forcing air out of the inter-fiber spaces 14 and compressing the absorptive material 12. Alternatively, the absorbent article 10 may be subject to vacuum, thereby drawing air out of the inter-fiber spaces 14 and compressing the absorptive material 12. Once compressed, the absorbent article 10 is retained to maintain the compact and highly portable configuration, for example, by shrink-wrap thermoplastic packaging at a vacuum or negative pressure, which will be discussed in more detail below. To use, the retaining packaging is disengaged or opened, allowing the absorbent article 10 to return to expand under the resiliency and elasticity of the absorptive material 12, which is also discussed in more detail below.
As mentioned above, the absorbent article 10 is shown in a normal condition in
After being placed in a reconfigured condition, the absorbent article 10 may then be compressed as discussed above, thereby placing the article in a compressed condition. If reconfigured by rolling as shown in
After being compressed, the absorbent article 10 may then be retained to maintain the compressed condition, for example, with packaging 16 as shown in
Other examples of how an absorbent article may be reconfigured are illustrated by
After the diaper 82 is reconfigured, it may be compressed and maintained in the compressed configuration by vacuum-packaging. For example,
Another example of a diaper 82 that has been reconfigured and then vacuum-packaged within an encasement 84 is shown in
Yet another example of reconfiguring a diaper and then packaging the diaper is illustrated by
From the rectangular configuration of the diaper 20 shown in
The diaper 20 may then be vacuum-packaged within an air and moisture impermeable encasement 32. The resulting vacuum-packaged diaper is illustrated in
As shown in
In addition to individually compressed and packaged absorbent articles such as articles 18,80,118, a plurality of compressed absorbent articles may be packaged together in various multipack arrangements. One multipack of individually compressed and packaged absorbent articles 110 is shown in
Another example of a multipack of individually compressed and packaged absorbent articles is shown in
Another example of a multipack 150 of individually compressed and packaged absorbent articles is shown in