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Publication numberUS20080247682 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/061,788
Publication dateOct 9, 2008
Filing dateApr 3, 2008
Priority dateApr 3, 2007
Also published asWO2008124472A1
Publication number061788, 12061788, US 2008/0247682 A1, US 2008/247682 A1, US 20080247682 A1, US 20080247682A1, US 2008247682 A1, US 2008247682A1, US-A1-20080247682, US-A1-2008247682, US2008/0247682A1, US2008/247682A1, US20080247682 A1, US20080247682A1, US2008247682 A1, US2008247682A1
InventorsR. C. Murray
Original AssigneePouch Pac Innovations, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Stand-up flexible pouch and method of forming
US 20080247682 A1
Abstract
A stand-up flexible pouch for packaging a product and a method of forming and filling the pouch is provided. The pouch includes a panel forming a body of the pouch using a flexible material having an inner surface and an outer surface. A rib is integrally formed in the pouch body, and the rib is spaced a predetermined distance from an edge of the pouch body. The pouch also includes opening means integral with the panel for accessing a product contained within the pouch. The method of forming the pouch thermoforms a rib in each panel of material across multiple lanes of a high speed machine.
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Claims(18)
1. A stand-up flexible pouch for packaging a product, said pouch comprising:
a panel forming a body of the pouch using a flexible material having an inner surface and an outer surface;
a rib integrally formed in the pouch body, wherein the rib is spaced a predetermined distance from an edge of the panel and forms a shaped edge of the pouch; and
an opening means integrally formed in said panel for accessing the product contained within the pouch.
2. The pouch as set forth in claim 1 wherein the pouch holds up to 20 L of the product.
3. The pouch as set forth in claim 1 wherein the rib has a height that is less than a thickness of the flexible material.
4. The pouch as set forth in claim 1 wherein a second rib is spaced a predetermined distance apart from a first rib.
5. The pouch as set forth in claim pouch 1 wherein the rib is thermoformed in the panel, such that the outer surface of the flexible material is convex in shape.
6. The pouch as set forth in claim pouch 1 wherein a shape of the rib corresponds to a shape of a side edge of the pouch body.
7. The pouch as set forth in claim pouch 1 wherein the pouch body includes a front wall and a back wall and a gusset positioned between the front wall and the back wall.
8. The pouch as set forth in claim 1 wherein said opening means includes a fitment and a cap removably attached to said fitment.
9. A stand-up flexible pouch for packaging a product, said pouch comprising:
a panel forming a body of the pouch using a flexible material having an inner surface and an outer surface;
a plurality of ribs integrally formed in the pouch body, wherein each rib is thermoformed in a wall of the pouch body and forms a corresponding shaped edge of the pouch body; and
an opening means integrally formed in said panel for accessing the product contained within the pouch.
10. The pouch as set forth in claim 9 wherein the rib has a height that is less than a thickness of the flexible material.
11. The pouch as set forth in claim 9 wherein the pouch holds up to 20 L of the product.
12. The pouch as set forth in claim pouch 9 wherein the rib is spaced a predetermined distance form a side edge of the pouch body.
13. The pouch as set forth in claim pouch 9 wherein the pouch body includes a front wall and a back wall and a gusset positioned between the front wall and the back wall.
14. The pouch as set forth in claim 9 wherein said opening means includes a fitment and a cap removably attached to said fitment.
15. A method of forming a stand-up flexible pouch on a machine, said method comprising the steps of:
unrolling a laminate material across lanes of a high speed machine;
thermoforming a rib in the material;
forming a body of the pouch from the material, wherein the body of the pouch includes a wall having an edge, and the rib is positioned to form a shaped edge of the pouch; and
applying an opening means to the pouch.
16. The method as set forth in claim 15, further including the steps of:
opening the pouch;
filling the pouch with the product; and
closing the pouch.
17. The method as set forth in claim 15 further including the step of thermoforming a plurality of ribs to form a corresponding shaped edge of the pouch.
18. The pouch as set forth in claim 15 wherein said opening means includes a fitment and a cap removably attached to said fitment.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/909,797 filed on Apr. 3, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to a flexible pouch for packaging a product and, more specifically, to a stand-up flexible pouch for packaging a product and a method of manufacturing the same.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART
  • [0003]
    Various factors influence the type of disposable, portable container used to store a product, including volume of the product. Examples of containers include a box, a can, a bottle, or a flexible pouch. A larger volume of the product may be stored in a barrel or keg or the like. While barrels and kegs work well for larger quantities, they are expensive, and may be subject to abuse by consumers, which impedes reusability. Flexible pouches are available for storing limited quantities of a product, such as fruit juice and the like. Flexible pouches are convenient to both the consumer and manufacturer. However, their use in storing larger quantities of a product is limited, since the flexible pouch tends to collapse as the product is removed. Thus, there is a need in the art for a flexible pouch capable of retaining its shape even as the product is removed, and an improved method of making such a flexible pouch.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0004]
    Accordingly, the present invention is a stand-up flexible pouch for a product, and a method for manufacturing the pouch. A stand-up flexible pouch for packaging a product and a method of forming and filling the pouch is provided. The pouch includes a panel forming a body of the pouch using a flexible material having an inner surface and an outer surface. A rib is integrally formed in the pouch body, and the rib is spaced a predetermined distance from an edge of the pouch body. The pouch also includes opening means integral with the panel for accessing a product contained within the pouch.
  • [0005]
    One advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch for a product and an improved method of making the flexible pouch is provided. Another advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch and method of making the flexible pouch is provided that utilizes a laminate material that includes a laminate structure of PET, foil, nylon, LLDPE and cast polypropylene layers. Still another advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch and the method of making the flexible pouch is provided that has a barrel shape. Yet a further advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch and method of making the flexible pouch is provided that includes an integrally formed rib to add rigidity to the pouch and assist the pouch in retaining its shape as the product is removed. A further advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch and method of making the flexible pouch is provided that is cost effective to manufacture. Still a further advantage of the present invention is that the flexible pouch can stand upright unsupported. Yet still a further advantage of the present invention is that a stand-up flexible pouch and method of making the flexible pouch is provided that can store a liquid product, including a carbonated product or a product having an alcohol content.
  • [0006]
    Other features and advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood after reading the subsequent description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0007]
    FIG. 1 is an elevational view of stand-up flexible pouch for a product, according to the present invention.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a stand-up pouch for a product, according to the present invention.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 3 is an elevational view of another shaped stand-up flexible pouch, according to the present invention.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along line 4-4 of a rib formed in the panel of the pouch, according to the present invention.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 5 is an elevational view of another stand-up flexible pouch, according to the present invention.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 6 is a perspective view of still another example of a stand-up flexible pouch, according to the present invention.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a further example of a stand-up flexible pouch, according to the present invention.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 8 is a flowchart of a method of forming the stand-up flexible pouch of FIGS. 1-7, according to the present invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 9 is a diagrammatic view of a form-fill-seal machine for use with the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0016]
    Referring to FIGS. 1-7 a stand-up flexible pouch 10 is illustrated. The pouch 10 may be filled with a product (not shown) and sealed. It is contemplated that the pouch may contain a single portion or multiple portions of the product. For example, the pouch may contain twenty liters of the product. Various shapes are contemplated for the pouch. The pouch 10 may have a generally cylindrical shape, a box-like shape, an hourglass shape, a barrel shape or another shape. In this example, the product is a liquid. The liquid may be a consumable product having an alcohol content, such as wine, beer or liquor, or the like. The product may be a carbonated product, such as a sparkling wine or juice or the like. The liquid may be any other type of product, such as shampoo or liquid soap or the like. An example of a pouch for a carbonated liquid is disclosed in commonly assigned PCT Patent Application No. PCT/US03/034396, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0017]
    The stand-up flexible pouch 10 is preferably formed from a roll of preprinted material of extruded or laminate layers. The material is typically a three, or four, or five or more gauge material or multiple laminations of material or the like. The outer layer is usually preprinted. Alternatively, at least a portion of the material may be not printed, i.e. translucent, in order to view the contents contained therein, as shown in FIG. 7 at 48 as a window. The clear portion could also be in a gusset or insert. The outer layer may include preprinted information, as with a label or shrink sleeve. The pouch may include more than one type of material.
  • [0018]
    The choice of sheet layer material is non-limiting, and is influenced by factors such as the product contained in the pouch, the shape of the pouch, or the anticipated use of the pouch. One example of a laminate material structure includes at least one layer of virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET), at least one layer of aluminum foil and another layer such as EVOH, PET, polyethylene or nylon or the like. Another type of laminate material structure may also include a metalized foil paper layer laminated to a cast polypropylene layer and another layer of PET, polyethylene or EVOH. There may be a fourth layer of nylon. Similarly, the laminate structure may include a cast polypropylene (CPP) layer, a polyethylene (PET) layer, a foil (AL) layer, a nylon (ONO) layer and another CPP layer. Another structure is the use of nylon, foil, nylon and cast polypropylene (ONO/AL/ONO/CPP) or CPP/NY/AL/CPP, or PET/AL/NYLON/CPP, or ONO/AL/COEX-ONO-LDPE.
  • [0019]
    For certain products, such as a carbonated liquid or beverage, certain materials are somewhat permeable, thereby allowing loss of the internal carbon dioxide gas from the pouch and its replacement with oxygen. The presence of oxygen in the filled pouch increases the chance of bacteria forming, or may affect the taste. Therefore, material structures that include CPP are well suited for packaging a beverage, such as wine or beer or other carbonated fluids, to add strength to the walls of the pouch, preserve the carbonation, and protect with the nylon the AL layer from cracking. Carbonation is beneficial since it acts as a microbiocide and preserves the flavor and aroma of the products. The use of cast polypropylene laminate material also assists in retaining the filled shape of the container, even as the product is removed from the pouch 10. A further example of a laminate material structure is CPP/AL/ONO/PE. This structure works well when the product has a short shelf life, and the nylon eliminates stretching or cracking of the AL layer. Still a further example of a material structure is a co-extruded laminate such as PET/CO-PP/AL/NY/LLDPE. It should be appreciated that the CO-PP layer can include multiple layers, such as three in this example. An example of a material structure for a white wine product is PET/EVOH/PE or AL/PET/NY/PE. Similarly, a material structure for a red wine product includes PET/EVOH/PE or AL/NY/PET/PE.
  • [0020]
    Other film structures may also be utilized that offer protection from sunlight, as well as organoleptic protection from the development of undesirable flavors. In addition, the selected material may be organoleptic compliant in order to avoid the transfer of odor contaminates to the product, or product contamination during the shelf life period of the product.
  • [0021]
    It should be appreciated that for certain types of filled pouches stored at ambient temperature, the laminate material may start to creep after a period of time, such as within ten days. For a carbonated product, the creepage results from carbonation expansion. The use of a laminate material with an extrusion layer contains “creepage” or “stretch” of the film.
  • [0022]
    The pouch 10 is formed from at least one panel of material. The panel has an inner surface 11 a that is adjacent the product, and an outer surface 11 b. The pouch formed out of the panel has a front wall 12 and a back wall 14. Each wall 12, 14 is further defined by an upper edge 16, an opposed lower edge 18, and side edges 20 extending therebetween the upper and lower edges 16, 18. The edges of the panel are joined to form a sealed seam 22. In an example of a pouch formed using a single panel of material, the panel edges may be joined along a center seam. The seam may be a flat seam or a fin style seam or the like. In an example of a pouch 10 formed using two sheets of material, the panel edges may be joined along two side seams 22. Again, the side seam may be a flat seam, a fin style seam or the like.
  • [0023]
    The wall of the pouch includes an integral rib 50 formed in the panel of material, and a wall may include a plurality of ribs. The rib 50 is selectively shaped to form a shaped edge of the pouch as shown at 26 and oriented to provide structural rigidity to the pouch 10. The arrangement and shape of the rib adds structural strength to the pouch wall, so that the pouch can stand upright unassisted, regardless of the pouch volume. Further, the rib 50 may have a shape and arrangement that generally defines an overall shape of the pouch 10. The pouch 10 may include a plurality of ribs in order to define the shape and structure of the pouch. The rib 50 is positioned a predetermined distance from the edge, such as 1″. In an example, the rib 50 has a generally vertical orientation, and is positioned adjacent a side edge 20 of the pouch. In another example, one or more ribs 50 are positioned adjacent each side edge 20 of the pouch. In still another example, the ribs 50 are positioned a varying distance apart. In yet another example, the ribs 50 are spaced an equidistance apart. Each rib 50 has a predetermined length and cross-sectional shape. The rib length may be selectively determined, depending on factors such as the size of the pouch 10, or desired structural rigidity for the pouch 10, or the like. For example, the rib 50 may extend along about 80% of a length of the finished pouch 10. Referring to FIG. 4, the rib 50 may have a uniform cross-sectional shape extending the length of the rib. Similarly, the rib 50 may have a cross-sectional shape that varies along the length of the rib 50. An overall height H of the rib 50 may be less than a thickness T of the panel material. The rib 50 is formed in the inner surface of the panel of material, so that the outer surface of material is concave. The rib 50 is formed by the application of heat to the panel of material. For example, a heat seal bar may be utilized to form the rib 50 in the panel of material.
  • [0024]
    The pouch 10 retains its predetermined shape even as product is removed from the pouch, due to the structural rigidity provided by the ribs. For example, the predetermined shape may be generally cylindrical, similar to a traditional metal barrel, or a cubical shape, similar to a carton, or the like. Other shapes are contemplated, depending on factors such as the product contained therein, volume and use of the pouch.
  • [0025]
    The pouch 10 may also include an insert, sidewall or gusset 24. The gusset 24 may be integrally formed in the panel, or a separate piece of material. The insert, sidewall or gusset material may be a different structure than that of the pouch body. The gusset 24 may be disposed between the front and back walls 12, 14, and positioned between the side edges of the walls, the lower edges, the upper edges, or any desired combination. It should be appreciated that the shape of the gusset 24 is non-limiting. For example, the gusset 24 may be generally wider at one end and taper upwardly towards the opposite end. The gusset 24 may also be of a uniform width. The use of the gusset may be functional, i.e. it may allow the pouch 10 to acquire another shape, such as cylindrical, or to stand upright. The gusset also enhances the strength and rigidity of the pouch 10 during filling and processing. A side gusset is advantageous since it allows the walls of the pouch to expand as the internal pressure within the pouch increases. A gusset positioned between the lower edges 18 of the pouch 10 may form a base, enabling the pouch 10 to stand upright unsupported. The edges of the gusset may be sealed against the wall of the pouch, as shown in FIG. 6 at 25.
  • [0026]
    Similarly, the pouch may include an insert. The insert is a generally planar member that is inserted between the walls 12, 14 of the pouch 10. The shape of the insert is non-limiting, i.e. square, round or oval or rectangular, and generally influences the shape of the flexible pouch. The insert may be positioned internally within the pouch or externally. Various materials may be utilized for the insert, such as foil, cardboard, plastic, nylon, laminate or the like. Further, the insert may be formed from a printed material, or it may be clear. In one example, the insert is inserted between the lower edges of the panel and sealed to the walls of the panel. The seal may be an ultrasonic seal or a heat weld or a combination of both or the like. The insert may include an integral opening means, such as a fitment. Similarly a first insert may be positioned between the lower edges of the panel, and a second insert positioned between the upper edges of the panel. The first insert may include an integral opening means, such as a fitment.
  • [0027]
    The pouch 10 also incorporates an opening means 28 for accessing the contents of the pouch. Various types of opening means 28 are known in the art for this purpose, and are non-limiting. The position of the opening means 28 is determinable by many factors, such as the type of product contained or type of opening means or use of the pouch or the like. For example, the opening means 28 may be positioned in an upper edge, a lower edge or side edge, or front wall or back wall, or on an insert or gusset. It should be appreciated that the opening means 28 may be incorporated into the pouch 10 prior to filling the pouch 10, or after filling.
  • [0028]
    An example of an opening means is a tear-off portion 30. The tear-off portion 30 usually has an integral tear notch 32 and tear line, for removing a designated portion of the pouch to access the product contained therein. The tear-off portion 30 could be utilized in conjunction with another opening means, such as a zipper. The zipper opening means is a resealable zipper that provides a hermetic seal through interlocking teeth, such as a zipper that is sold under the name TopTite™. The zipper may be used with another opening means. Another example of an opening means 28 is a weakened, straw-pierceable portion in the pouch for receiving a straw within at least one of the compartments. A further example of an opening means 28 is a pull tab covering an opening in the pouch.
  • [0029]
    Still another example of an opening means is a spout fitment 34 that includes a cap 36 for containing the product within the pouch. The fitment 34 includes a base 38, and a spout 40 projecting upwardly from the base 38. The base portion includes a centrally located passageway extending through the center of the fitment, to provide access to the contents of the pouch. An outer surface of the base portion forms a seal-engaging surface that is sealed to the panel in a manner to be described. The spout 40 is generally cylindrical in shape, and includes a centrally located passageway that is continuous with the central passageway of the base portion 38. The spout 40 may be sealed, such as by a sleeve or a cap. Various styles of caps 36 may be utilized in conjunction with the spout, such as a removable cap, or a slideable cap or the like. The removable cap can be the traditional round shape. Alternatively, the cap 36 can have another shape, such as oval. The cap 36 may include a tamper-evident feature. In addition, the cap 36 may be permanently retained on the spout to be environmentally friendly. The cap 36 and fitment 34 can be made from a variety of materials. For example, the cap 36 may be made from plastic, such as reground resins. The fitment 34 may be made of polypropylene (PP), depending on the product. The fitment base 38 is sealed into the upper edges of the panel using a sealing means, such as an ultrasonic seal or a heat weld, or the like. The spout 40 may include a removable seal to prevent leakage of the product or evidence of tampering. The cap 36 may include an insert of an oxygen absorbent material.
  • [0030]
    The pouch 10 may include an angled top seal 42 as described in commonly assigned U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/779,796, which is incorporated herein by reference. The position of the angled top seal 42 is dependent on the location of the opening means 28. In one example, the angled top seal 42 extends between one side edge and the upper edge, and the opening means 28 is located between the other side edge 20 and the upper edge 16. The shape and position of the angled top seal 42 facilitates the removal of product from the pouch 10 by directing the flow of the product towards the opening means 28. The angle top seal may have a radius to keep the interior of the pouch rounded. The angle top seal preferably reduces the right angle corner headspace. This is advantageous because it assists in pouring the product, reduces headspace (and oxygen), and influences the shape of the pouch.
  • [0031]
    It should be appreciated that the barrel-shaped flexible pouch 10 may advantageously include other features that are known in the art. For example, the pouch 10 may include a guide pocket formed in a wall 12, 14 of the pouch 10 prior to filling and sealing, to facilitate the separation of the front and back walls 12, 14 prior to the filling of the pouch 10. An example of such a pouch is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/310,221.
  • [0032]
    The pouch 10 may include other features, such as an ergonomic shape. An example of an ergonomically shaped pouch for a carbonated beverage is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/454,241 which is incorporated by reference. The flexible pouch 10 may include a feature such as an outer layer or sleeve covering the outer surface of the pouch. The sleeve may be a label containing information about the product, such as a barcode or the like. The sleeve may cover only a portion of the pouch outer surface. Preferably, the sleeve is shrunk over the outer surface of the pouch 10 after the pouch 10 is formed and filled with the product. The sleeve is advantageous because it covers the side seam. It also adds one or more layers of material to strengthen the pouch and improve its durability. Various types of material may be utilized for the sleeve, such as paper or plastic including PET or PVC and the choice is non-limiting.
  • [0033]
    Another example of a feature is a hanging aperture 44 formed in a seam for supporting the pouch by a support means. One or more hanging apertures may be formed along an edge of the pouch 10 for receiving a fastener, such as a clip or the like. The aperture may be used to transport or display the pouch. The aperture 44 may have various shapes, such as round or curved. Advantageously attaching the pouch another object via the hanging aperture enhances the convenience of the flexible pouch.
  • [0034]
    A further example of a feature is a tracking device 46 integrally located within the pouch 10 that includes electronic tracking information relevant to the pouch 10, as described in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/686,666, which is incorporated by reference. The tracking device 46 may be an electronic tag, such as a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) transmitter. The tracking device 46 can store a predetermined amount of electronic information. An example of the information is unique tracking information for a particular package 10. For example, the tracking device 46 can provide information about the status of the pouch 10, such as physical location of the pouch 10, or age of the pouch 10 or the like. In addition, the tracking device 46 can be utilized for inventory control, delivery, purchase behavior, returns, pricing, and other tracking purposes. The tracking device 46 is in communication with a receiver (not shown) for reading the information. The receiver may be a computer system having a memory and a processor, a handheld device for receiving an RFID signal, or any other type of device capable of electronic communication with the tracking device 46. The receiver may be a transceiver capable of emitting a radio signal that initiates transmission of information from the tracking device 38. Although the packages are individually read, the RFID tag may be advantageously read at a faster rate than using a barcode in conjunction with a barcode scanner, since the packages are not physically scanned on an individual basis. In addition, the signal from the RFID tag may be advantageously read through an outer layer of material, such as a packaging material, or under various environmental conditions. Another advantage is that the tracking of the physical location of the package may be electronically monitored within a predetermined geographical range. The tracking device 46 may be integrally embedded in the pouch 10. The tracking device 46 may be inserted in an air pocket formed within one of the gusset apertures. Alternatively, the tracking device 46 may be inserted in a sealed portion of the pouch, and an air pocket is formed around the tracking device 46 during application of the seal. The tracking device may be integrally formed in the opening means.
  • [0035]
    The pouch 10 may include other features as a result of a secondary process after it is filled with the product. For example, the filled pouch 10 may be frozen. Alternatively, the filled pouch 10 may be pasteurized in order to have an extending shelf stable life under ambient temperature.
  • [0036]
    It is contemplated that the flexible pouch 10 may incorporate any of the above-described features in any combination. For example, the pouch 10 may include an insert in the bottom portion of the pouch and a tapered top portion, or an insert in the bottom portion of the pouch and a spout and cap in the top portion of the pouch. In addition, the finished pouch may assume various shapes, such as cylindrical, cubical, and conical, hourglass or barrel shaped or the like, as influenced by the type of product and intended usage of the pouch. The pouch may assume a traditional shape for a product, such as a keg for beer.
  • [0037]
    In addition the barrel-shaped flexible pouch may include an outer frame to allow for stacking of the pouches. The frame can be of a suitable material, such as metal, plastic or corrugated paper or the like.
  • [0038]
    Referring to FIG. 8, a method for forming and filling the stand-up flexible pouch 10 using a high-speed machine is illustrated. The method begins in block 100 at a first station with the step of forming the body of the pouch. For example, a roll of laminate material, as previously described, is unrolled along a horizontally oriented plane. The initial width of the roll of material is determined by the desired finished size of the pouch 10 and the number of pouches to be obtained from the width. For example, three or four or six pouches, representing six to twelve panels, can be obtained from a width of the roll of material on a multiple lane machine. Each panel has an inner surface and an outer surface. One layer of the material is preferably preprinted with information or locating indicia (not shown), such as a registration mark. The registration marks are located on the material to denote an edge of a wall 12, 14. The registration marks are read by an optical reading device (not shown), such as a scanner or registration eye, to index the material in a predetermined position at the cutting station. The preprinted information may include labeling information that describes the product contained within the pouch. In this example, the layer of preprinted information is located on an outer layer of the material.
  • [0039]
    The methodology advances to block 105 and a rib 50 is formed in the panel of material corresponding to each pouch formed from the panel of material. In this example, the rib 50 is formed using a thermoform technique, such as a heat bar. As previously described, features of the rib 50, such as orientation, shape, number, size, height, curvature, etc., are dependent on various factors, such as the size of the pouch, the product contained in the pouch or the shape of the pouch 10. Additional ribs 50 may be spaced a predetermined distance apart from a first rib, or otherwise positioned where necessary to provide strength or shape to the pouch. It should be appreciated that for multiple panels and lanes, the rib is simultaneously formed in each panel across each lane.
  • [0040]
    The methodology advances to block 110 and a feature, such as a gusset 24 or insert, is optionally positioned between the aligned first and second unrolling sections of material. In addition, an opening means 28 may be applied at this time. For example, an opening means, such as a spout fitment 34 may be applied.
  • [0041]
    The methodology advances to block 115 and the edges of the panel are sealed together to form the body of the pouch, such as the side edges, or the upper edge or the lower edge. An edge, such as the upper edge, may be left open for filling, or all of the edges may be sealed. In this example, the open edge is designated the upper edge, as a reference. For example, fitment 34 may be sealed between an edge, if the pouch 10 is filled through the fitment 34. The edges to be sealed generally depends on the type of fitment, product or filling technique.
  • [0042]
    The seal used to form the seam 22 can be a permanent seal, a temporary seal, or a frangible seal. Various types of seals are available, such as a single seal, a double seal, or an insulating seal, or the like. Various sealing techniques are known in the art to form each seal, and a combination of sealing techniques may be utilized. The seals may be a heat weld formed by applying heat and compression, or an ultrasonic seal formed using vibrational energy, or a combination of heat and ultrasonic seals. It should be appreciated that a previous seal may be absorbed during the sealing process.
  • [0043]
    The side seal may be an overlap seal, whereby the side seal extends along the side edge of the panel and a predetermined distance along the upper edge, and a closing seal for the upper edge overlaps the side seal. An angled top seal 42 may also be applied at this time. Advantageously, the seals may be shaped. The seal may have a curvilinear shape so as to avoid sharp radiuses at the interior corners of the pouch. A seal having an interior edge that is rounded facilitates removal of the product.
  • [0044]
    Various sealing techniques are contemplated. For example, an ultrasonic sealing process may be used. In another example, a heat weld that includes the application of heat and compression is applied. In still another example, the edges are sealed using a seal bar or forming plate having a plasma coating. One advantage of the plasma coating is that the line speed may increase. Another advantage is that the coating makes the surface of the seal bar or forming plate more resilient. When the seal bar is heated, the coating expands due to this resiliency. The shear stress on the inner edge of the seal is reduced; resulting in reduced creepage of the material and greater durability of the seal. The plasma coating reduces the opportunity for potential damage to the material during the sealing step. In this example, the plasma coating is a smooth, hard plastic that mimics glass. Since the outer layer of material is not weakened, there is no creepage of the outer layer.
  • [0045]
    A seal bar or forming plate may be used to apply any of the seals. An example of a seal bar is a generally rectangular member. The seal bar may include a cavity used to create an air pocket, or to conform to the shape of a member. The seal bar or forming plate may have a plasma coating that makes the surface of the seal bar or forming plate more resilient. When the seal bar is heated, the coating expands due to this resiliency. The shear stress on the inner edge of the seal is reduced; resulting in reduced creepage of the material and greater durability of the seal. The plasma coating reduces the opportunity for potential damage to the material during the sealing step. In this example, the plasma coating is a smooth, hard plastic that mimics glass. Since the outer layer of material is not weakened, there is no creepage of the outer layer. An advantage of the plasma coating is that the line speed may increase.
  • [0046]
    In still another example of a sealing technique, the side seal is a two-step seal formed using more than one seal bar. One seal bar may include the previously described seal bar cavity for forming an air pocket in the sealed portion. An example of a two-step seal is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/551,071. The two-step seal advantageously avoids the generation of ketones due to application of heat to the material. The first or inner seal is a low temperature seal. The second or outer seal is a high temperature seal. The second seal is spaced apart from the first seal by a predetermined distance, to create an air gap. The first seal is a tack seal, such as 6 mm wide, and is of a sufficient temperature so as to melt the layers of material and tack the edges together. The predetermined distance between the first and second seal is -1 mm. The second seal is applied at a higher temperature and pressure than the first seal. As a result, any gas, such as steam, ketones, aromatics or the like, is pushed in an outwardly direction, out through the open edges of the panels, and not into the pouch. Thus, the first seal prevents entry of contaminates into the pouch to avoid organoleptic contamination. The heat weld may include a heat weld followed by a cold weld.
  • [0047]
    In an example, a feature, such as the fitment 34, as previously described, may be sealed within the walls of the pouch 10, such as between the upper edges 16. The fitment may be sealed using an ultrasonic seal, or a heat weld, or by a combination of ultrasonic seal and heat weld, as previously described. An example of an ultrasonic seal for a fitment is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/195,906, which is incorporated herein by reference. Accordingly, the base portion of the fitment is sealed between the walls of the pouch using an ultrasonic seal, a heat seal, and then a cool seal. The heat seal melts a layer of the pouch material, and the material flows around the sealing ribs on the base portion, and fills in any void between the base portion and the wall of the pouch. The cool seal sets the seal and provides an attractive finish to the overall seal. Advantageously, fewer stations are required to seal the fitment between the walls of the pouch, since a tack seal is eliminated.
  • [0048]
    The methodology advances to block 120, and each of the pouches formed in the roll width of material are separated from each other in a cutting operation. For example, each section of material may be first separated along its width, or along the side edge of the panel. The section is then separated into individual pouches. In this example, the width of unrolling represents the side edges of the finished pouch. The material is cut into a pouch 10 using a known cutting apparatus, such as a laser or punch or the like. The cutting apparatus forms a single cut in the material to separate the pouches. The length of the pouch 10 is controlled by the distance between the cuts.
  • [0049]
    Alternatively, consecutive pouches 10 are separated using a double cut process, whereby two cuts are made at the same time to separate the adjoining edges of the consecutive pouches at the same time. Advantageously, forming two pouches during the cutting operation effectively doubles the assembly line speed.
  • [0050]
    The methodology advances to block 125 and the pouches 10 are finished. For example, an edge may be further trimmed to achieve a desired shape. In another example, the edge of the pouch may be trimmed to accommodate an opening means 28. It may be advantageous for the pouch corners to have a radius, to eliminate right angles at the corners. In another example, two legs are formed during the trimming operation, in order to recess the fitment. The hanging aperture 44 may be formed at this time. This operation may be performed using a cutter or a die cut or the like.
  • [0051]
    In another example of a finishing operation, a crease or guide pocket may be formed in a top portion of each wall 12, 14 in a creasing operation, in order to facilitate opening and filling of the pouch. An example of a method of forming a crease in a wall to facilitate opening the pouch is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/310,221, which is incorporated herein by reference. In still another example of a finishing operation, the sleeve is applied over the individual pouch and shrunk to fit using an application of heat to the pouch.
  • [0052]
    The methodology advances to block 130 and the premade pouch 10 is discharged from the form machine. The completed pouch may include any combination of the above-described features. Further, the pouch may be filled through an open edge, i.e. upper or lower, or through the fitment.
  • [0053]
    The methodology advanced to block 25. The pouch is then transported to the filling machine. The pouches may be loaded into a carrier and transferred to a filling machine. It should be appreciated that the filling machine may be integral with the pouch forming machine, or a separate machine. This portability increases the flexibility of the pouch and may result in a manufacturing cost savings. The premade pouch may be lifted from a box, magazine, vacuum belt and placed into the grippers by a robot device, as shown in FIG. 9.
  • [0054]
    The pouch is unloaded from the carrier and placed in a holder for moving the pouch between stations. An example of a holder is a cup or base or puck having a shape corresponding to the shape of the pouch. Alternatively, the pouch 10 may be held using grippers (not shown) or a rail as is known in the art. The methodology advances to block 140.
  • [0055]
    In block 140, the pouch 10 is opened in an opening operation. Various techniques are conventionally known in the art for opening the pouch 10. For example, the guide pocket formed by the crease in the front wall 12 and back wall 14 facilitates opening of the pouch. A nozzle (not shown) may be mechanically lowered into the guide pocket to direct a stream of compressed gas into the guide pocket, to force the walls of the pouch 10 away from each other. An example of a gas is carbon dioxide or nitrogen or the like. The blowing station may include a manifold, with a hood extending over the top of the edges of the pouch as known in the art. The manifold has rows of apertures (not shown) formed above the upper edges 16 of the pouch 10. The hood is placed over the pouch 10 to assist in maintaining the air pressure in the pouch 10. The supply of pressurized gas is directed through the aperture to form a plurality of jets of pressurized gas or air. The jets are directed downwardly at the diamond-shaped openings formed at the upper edges 16 to assist in overcoming the surface tension of the pouch and assist in separation of the walls 12, 14. A diving rod (not shown) may then be used to make sure the pouch 10 is fully opened. If the pouch has a fitment, gas may be injected through the spout fitment. After the pouch is opened, it may be injected with super-saturated steam to eliminate any pathogens or the like.
  • [0056]
    In block 145, the pouch 10 is filled with the product 58 in a filling operation. For example, a fill tube is lowered into the pouch a predetermined distance and the product 58 is dispensed into the opened pouch. The pouch 10 may be filled through an open edge, or through the spout 40 using the fill tube. If the pouch 10 is large, the pouch 10 may be filled at more than one station. The product 58 is preferably dispensed at a predetermined temperature, depending on the type of product. The fill tube may be raised out of the pouch at a predetermined rate as the product is dispensed. For example, the fill tube may be removed just ahead of the filling product 58.
  • [0057]
    If the product 58 is naturally carbonated, such as wine, beer or the like, the pouch is preferably filled while immersed in a nitrogen atmosphere. If the product is not naturally carbonated and carbonation is desirable, it is immersed in a carbonator to introduce carbon dioxide into the product. For example, carbon dioxide is introduced into cold water or juice to provide a carbonated beverage. The product 58 may contain a mixture of up to four volumes of carbon dioxide. It should be appreciated that the carbon dioxide masks any undesirable taste from ketones and other solvents released during the sealing process. The carbon dioxide also increases the pressure within the product so that the walls of the pouch are rigid after the top is sealed. The product 58 is preferably filled at a temperature ranging from 29 F. to ambient temperature. The filled pouch may have oxygen removed from the pouch. For example, the pouch may be flushed with carbon dioxide.
  • [0058]
    The pouches 10 may be moved to a station where any oxygen in the pouch residing above the product is removed, if necessary. This can be done by providing a hood or diving nozzle where oxygen is either evacuated or replaced with carbon dioxide or nitrogen into the pouch to displace the oxygen. A diving nozzle may be used to inject the gas.
  • [0059]
    In block 150, the filled pouch 10 is closed. For example, if the pouch is filled through open edges, the open edge of the pouch is closed by sealing the edges together. The first or closing seal 52 may be an ultrasonic seal, or an ultra pulse seal, or a heat weld or the like. The closing seal along an upper edge may overlap a side edge seal as shown at 54. If the pouch holds a carbonated beverage, the pouch may be sealed as described in commonly owned PCT Patent Application No. PCT/US03/034396, which is incorporated herein by reference. A second cosmetic seal 56 may be applied above the first seal 52 for a carbonated product. The second seal 56 may be a heat weld. For a carbonated seal, some of the product may be trapped between the first and second seals. This is advantageous since there is no gas in the head space, i.e. the region between the product and the heat seal, and less pouch material is required. Another cosmetic seal may be applied across the first and second closing seals. If desired, an end of the seam may be tacked down in this operation as shown at 24.
  • [0060]
    Alternatively, the pouch 10 is filled through the spout fitment 34 and the cap 36 is applied to close the pouch 10. The cap 36 may be a tamper-evident cap for a carbonated product, containing an arrangement of thread and grooves as described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/551,071, as previously described. The cap 36 contains the product in the filled pouch 10, to prevent leakage of the product from the pouch 10. The complementary arrangement of threads and grooves in the cap and spout provides for the controlled release of pressure from the pouch.
  • [0061]
    In an example of a push-pull cap, the plug is preassembled to the push-pull cap and the plug and push-pull cap are pushed onto the spout and retained by the spout. A tamper-evident outer cap may be disposed over the tube or slidable cap and fixedly retained by the tube spout fitment as previously described. It should be appreciated that the tamper-evident outer cap may be pre-assembled to the slidable cap. This operation is advantageous because it is fast, and cost efficient since it can be done at a high speed. In the example of an open-ended external tube, the open end of the tube is sealed by applying a closing seal to the upper edges of the cap. The closing seal may be an ultrasonic seal, or an ultra pulse seal, such as a heat weld or the like.
  • [0062]
    In an example of a zipper opening means, the open upper edge of the pouch is closed by engaging the zipper teeth. A closing seal may be applied to the portion of the pouch outboard of the zipper, to further seal the upper edges 16 together using a closing sealing process as previously described.
  • [0063]
    The methodology advances to block 155 and the pouch 10 is finished in a finishing operation. For example, the edges of the pouch 10 are trimmed to achieve a predetermined shape. In addition, the pouch 10 may be cooled at a cooling station, where the pouch 10 is cooled using a conventionally known cooling technique. Optionally, the sleeve may be placed over the filled pouch and shrunk to fit over the pouch by applying heat. The sleeve layer forms an outer layer of the pouch.
  • [0064]
    In block 160 the filled pouch 10 is discharged from the machine. A plurality of pouches may be placed in a package for sales or shipping purposes.
  • [0065]
    It should be appreciated that the pouch may undergo other processing steps, such as an upstream oxygen purging station, a downstream oxygen purging station, pasteurization or the like. For example, the filled pouch 10 may be pasteurized in an integral retort chamber (not shown) that heats and then cools the pouch 10. The pouch 10 may be tested, such as burst testing or the like prior to packaging for shipping. These additional processing steps may take place at a station on the form/fill/seal apparatus, or on another apparatus.
  • [0066]
    It should be appreciated that the order of steps may vary depending on the pouch and its features. Also, a particular manufacturing station may perform one or a plurality of operations, to enhance the efficiency of the methodology and apparatus.
  • [0067]
    Referring to FIG. 9, an example of a form-fill-seal machine 200 for carrying out the method described with respect to FIG. 8 is illustrated. Various styles of machines 200 are contemplated for forming or filling and sealing the pouch 10, such as a flat bed, conveyor or the like. An example of such a machine is manufactured by Nishibe, such as the model number SBM500, SMB600 or SMB700. The machine 200 may include form stations 210 and/or fill-seal stations 258. It should be appreciated that a particular manufacturing station may perform one or a plurality of operations, to enhance the efficiency of the methodology and apparatus. The stations may be arranged in a linear manner, rotary manner, or a combination thereof.
  • [0068]
    The machine includes a base 216 and a transport device 212 that transports the material through the various stations. Various styles of transport devices are contemplated, and a particular machine may include more than one style. An example of a transport device is a conveyor, rollers, a turret or the like. The roll of material 204 is initially mounted along a horizontally oriented axis, and is unrolled along at a material feed station.
  • [0069]
    The machine 200 includes an alignment station 218 that aligns the unrolling material 204. For example, at the alignment station 218, the material rolls pass through sensing device, such as an optical reader, that identifies a predefined point on the material 204. This predefined point may be a registration mark on the material, or the edge of the material 204. The machine 200 utilizes the registration marks to automatically adjust the orientation of the unrolling material position along an axis. For example, rollers 220 are used to adjust the position of the unrolling material 2 degrees relative to a vertically oriented center axis.
  • [0070]
    The machine may include a fitment application station 222 that applies an opening means 28, such as a zipper fitment to the unrolling material at a predetermined location on the material. The machine includes a feeder mechanism 223, which supplies the opening means to the machine. In this example, a feeder mechanism 223 supplies the unrolling material roll with the opening means at a 90 degree angle to the direction of material 204 flow. It should be appreciated that the opening means may be simultaneously applied across all lanes in the predetermined panel location.
  • [0071]
    The machine includes a cutting station 224 where the material is cut into a predetermined number of sections. For a pouch made from two panels of material, one of the sections is rotated 180 degrees, and the first and second sections of this example are positioned such that inner sides face one another. The sections are used to form the front panel and back panel of the pouch, respectively.
  • [0072]
    The machine may include a feature insertion station that adds a feature, as previously described, between the facing sheets of material. The facing sections are transferred along the conveyer to a sealing station.
  • [0073]
    The machine includes a station 228 that applies a rib 50 and seals the edges of the pouch. Various techniques are known in the art for this purpose, and more than one technique may be used. The rib 50 may be thermoformed. The edge seal may be a heat weld formed by applying heat and compression, or an ultrasonic seal formed using vibrational energy, or a combination of heat and ultrasonic seals. In addition, a previous seal may be absorbed during the sealing process.
  • [0074]
    The sealing station may include one or more seal bars 229 to form the rib or to apply the seal. In an example, there are two opposed seal bars, and the pouch fits between the seal bars. The seal bar may include a surface that corresponds to a predetermined shape or the seal or rib. The sealing station 228 may form the seams joining the edge of each panel to delineate each pouch. In this example, the side edges of each of the pouches along the width of material are heat-sealed. By precise alignment of the material sheets, the width of the side edge seam may be reduced, such as 4 mm, with a tolerance of 1 mm.
  • [0075]
    The machine includes a cutting station 230 and the sealed panels are separated into individual pouches. For example, the pouch is separated along an edge seam. The pouch may also be separated from the unrolling material along the upper edge and lower edge. The cut may be a double cut, so as to separate two pouches at one time. It should be appreciated that the pouches 10 are fully formed, and are now ready for filling.
  • [0076]
    The machine includes an unloading station 232. The transport device transfers the individual pouches to an unloading station 232, wherein the individual pouches are removed. The pouches may be placed into a receptacle, such as a holder, or magazine or the like. In this example, the pouches may be placed directly on a fill-seal line 258 associated with the machine, using a robotic transfer device 252.
  • [0077]
    For a form-fill-seal machine, the line speed between the form stations 210 and the fill-seal stations 258 can be coordinated to output filled pouches at a predetermined rate, and such coordination may increase the overall pouch production rate. The fill-seal line 258 includes a pouch receiving station 234 for receiving the pouch that includes a pouch carrier 262 that moves the pouch, arranged in a predetermined manner, through each of the stations in the fill-seal line 258. The fill-seal stations may be associated with a second frame 284. The stations of the fill seal line 258 of the machine 200 may be arranged in various configurations, such as a linear manner, or a circular manner. An example of a circular transport means is a rotational transport table. The linearly arranged stations may be further oriented transversely or vertically. Various types of pouch carriers are available, such as a holder 262 or a gripper, a combination thereof or the like. An example of a holder 262 is a cup-shaped member, as disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/336,601, which is incorporated herein by reference. Another example of a holder is a pair of opposed edge grippers 264 that each hold a corresponding side edge of the pouch. The side edge grippers 264 may be operatively connected to an actuating device for displacing the side edge gripper to open the pouch. The holder 262 is operatively connected to a transport device 282 for moving the pouch carrier between stations.
  • [0078]
    The machine includes an opening station 236, in order to separate the upper edges of the pouch for filling. The opening station 236 may include panel grippers 266 that grip the outside panels of the pouch. The opening station 236 may also includes a pouch opening device for fully opening the pouch. An example of a pouch opening device is disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/933,784 which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0079]
    After the pouch is fully opened, a stream of heated air may be directed toward the upper edges of the pouch, or through the spout. In addition, a nozzle may be mechanically lowered into the pouch opened 10. The nozzle is secured to a gas supply means. For example, a stream of compressed gas downwardly into the pouch to further force the walls of the pouch 10 away from each other to further the pouch as shown at 238. An example of a gas is carbon dioxide or nitrogen.
  • [0080]
    In addition, the opening station 236 may include a manifold, with a hood extending over the top of the edges of the pouch. The manifold has rows of apertures (not shown) formed above the upper edges of the walls of the pouch. The hood is placed over the pouch to assist in maintaining the air pressure in the pouch. The supply of pressurized gas is directed through the aperture to form a plurality of jets of pressurized gas or air. The jets are directed downwardly at the diamond-shaped openings formed at the upper edges to assist in overcoming the surface tension of the walls and assist in separation of the walls. A diving rod may then be used to make sure the pouch is fully opened. Steam or another type of sterilizer may be utilized to clean an inside wall of the opened pouch.
  • [0081]
    The opened pouch moves to a filling station 240, and the pouch is filled with the product. For example, a product is stored in a storage device, and one end of a feed line is in communication with the product in the storage device. The other end of the feed line is secured to a nozzle that dispenses a predetermined amount of product into the opened pouch. The product may be dispensed directly through the opened edges of the pouch or through the spout. The feed line is operatively controlled by an actuator that lowers the nozzle into the opened pouch, and dispenses the product into the opened pouch. The nozzle may be raised at a predetermined rate out of the pouch that corresponds to the rate of filling the pouch. The controlled delivery of product may reduce any overspray. Depending on the size of the pouch, there may be multiple fill nozzles or fill stations.
  • [0082]
    If carbonation is desired, and the product is naturally carbonated, such as beer or soda or the like, the pouch may be filled while immersed in a nitrogen atmosphere. If the product is not naturally carbonated, it may be immersed in a carbonator to introduce carbon dioxide into the product. For example, carbon dioxide is introduced into cold water or juice to provide a carbonated beverage. The product may contain a mixture of up to four volumes of carbon dioxide. It should be appreciated that the carbon dioxide may also mask any undesirable taste from ketones and other solvents released during the sealing process. The carbon dioxide also increases the pressure within the product so that the walls of the pouch 10 are rigid after the top is sealed. The product is preferably filled at a temperature ranging from 29 F. to ambient temperature. The carbonation is also advantageous as a microbiocide that can enhance the flavor or prevent mold or contamination.
  • [0083]
    The machine includes a gas removal station for removing any oxygen from the pouch as shown at 242. The gas removal station may include a hood that evacuates the oxygen, or a diving nozzle that delivers a gas, such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen, or liquid nitrogen or the like, into the pouch to displace the oxygen.
  • [0084]
    The machine includes a closing station 244 that closes the pouch. In an example of a pouch includes a zipper fitment, the zipper is closed using a closing apparatus that engages the zipper, and a portion of the pouch outboard of the zipper may be sealed. In another example of a pouch filled through the open edges of the pouch, the closed edges of the pouch are sealed using a closing seal. The closing seal may be a thermal seal. For example, a moveable heat sealing member is positioned over the upper edge of the pouch to seal the upper edges together through the application of heat or heat and pressure. Another example of a closing seal for a product utilizes an ultrasonic sealing process that includes a first closing seal. The ultrasonic seal may include sound waves and is formed using a horn and anvil.
  • [0085]
    The machine may include a second closing station for applying a second closing seal. The second closing seal may be applied using a heat seal means to form a second heat seal spaced apart a predetermined distance from the first closing seal. It should be appreciated that the second closing seal may be spaced slightly outboard of the first closing seal. The second heat-sealing station is conventional and utilizes heat or a combination of heat and pressure to form the seal. The second closing seal may also be a cosmetic seal or another type of seal, such as ultrasonic, ultra pulse or the like. The first and second seals are applied for a carbonated product as disclosed in commonly assigned Patent Application No. PCT/US03/34396, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0086]
    If the pouch 10 is filled through the spout fitment, the pouch 10 is closed by securing a cap 36 to the spout 34 using a cap application device. The cap 36 may have a tamper-evident feature. In addition, the cap 36 may contain a tracking device 26.
  • [0087]
    The machine includes a removal station 246 for finishing and removing the pouch from the machine 200. A feature, such as a hanging aperture 44, may be formed at this time using a cutting device, such as a punch. In another example of a finishing operation, the edges of the pouch 10 may be trimmed to achieve a desired shape using a cutting device.
  • [0088]
    The machine includes a pouch transfer device such as a robotic transfer device for removing the pouches 10 from the machine 200. The pouch may be placed into a box or moved to another device or machine for additional processing.
  • [0089]
    It should be appreciated that the automated machine 200 may include other operations. For example, the filled pouch may be transferred to another transport device, or otherwise collected. Alternatively, other stations may include a straw pierceable opening station, an upstream oxygen purging station, downstream oxygen purging station, or the like. In another example, the pouch is transferred to a packaging machine, which may be integral with the fill-seal machine or a separate line. Still another example of additional processing is the pouch may be transferred to a pasteurization station. Pasteurization enhances the shelf life of the product. The pouch is inserted into an enclosed chamber. For example, a combination of steam and water is used to heat the pouch to a predetermined temperature for a predetermined period of time to pasteurize the product contained within the pouch. The package is then cooled. In certain instances, it may be desirable to apply steam to sterilize the pouch 10 and to wet the inner surface of the walls to facilitate handling.
  • [0090]
    The finished pouch is available for use. It should be appreciated that the ribs 50 provide structural rigidity to the filled pouch 10, and the pouch 10 stands upright unassisted even as the product is removed.
  • [0091]
    The present invention has been described in an illustrative manner. It is to be understood that the terminology which has been used is intended to be in the nature of words of description rather than of limitation.
  • [0092]
    Many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. Therefore, the present invention may be practiced other than as specifically described.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification383/104, 53/457
International ClassificationB65D30/16, B65B43/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B31/042, B65B61/186, B65D75/5805, B65B61/28, B65B61/02, B65B31/041, B65B53/02, B31B23/00, B65D75/5866, B65B61/06, B65B43/465, B65B61/16, B31B2237/10, B65B61/18, B31B2237/406, B65B43/50, B65D2575/565, B65D75/566, B65B61/188, B65B55/06, B65B31/024, B31B2237/40, B65B3/02, B65D75/008, B65B3/045, B65B61/005
European ClassificationB31B23/00, B65D75/00E, B65D75/58B, B65D75/58G1, B65B3/04B, B65D75/56C, B65B55/06, B65B31/04B, B65B43/50, B65B43/46B, B65B3/02, B65B31/04B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 3, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: POUCH PAC INNOVATIONS, LLC, FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MURRAY, R. CHARLES;REEL/FRAME:020748/0656
Effective date: 20080325