US 3098721 A
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July 23, 1963 Filed Feb. 20, 1961 R. PJJEWELL 3,098,721
MULTIPLE STOPPER UNIT 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR RALPH P. JEWELL ATTORNEYS July 23, 1963 R. P. JEWELL MULTIPLE STOPPER UNIT 2 Sheets-Sheet? Filed Feb. 20, 1961 INVENTOR RALPH P. JEWELL ATTORNEYS United States Patent Ofi ice 3,098,72 1 Patented July 23, 1963 3,098,721 MULTllPLE STOPPER UNKT Ralph P. Jewell, Racine, Wis, assignor to Mueller Manufacturing Company, inc, Racine, Wis, a corporation Filed Feb. 20, M61, Ser. No. 90,486 8 Claims. (til. 23-259) This invention appertains to hospital and laboratory appliances and more particularly to the handling and closing of a plurality of containers, such as vials, test tubes and the like.
In hospitals, it is a common practice to take specimens, such as blood, from a number of patients. Each specimen is placed in an independent tube, suitably identified and the tubes are carried in a rack to the laboratory for the testing of the specimens. (During the testing, a selected chemical is usually added to the blood, the tubes are sterilized and effort is made to maintain the tubes in their sterile condition. Each tube is separately stoppered and this necessitates the handling of the stoppers with the fingers. Not only is the handling of individual stoppers for opening and closing the tubes a tedious and time-consuming operation, but the likelihood of contaminating the stoppers and consequently, the contaminating of the tube contents is always present.
With the tubes in the rack, with the specimens and additives, it is customary to rock the rack back and forth to commingle the specimens and additives. As the vials or tubes fit loosely in the rack, it is not uncommon for one or more tubes to slip from the rack onto the floor during the rocking process. This necessitates the bothering of the patient or patients for additional specimens and the consuming of additional time incidental thereto.
It is therefore, one of the primary objects of my invention to provide a novel and simple apparatus 'for simultaneously stoppering or unstoppering a plurality of tubes in a rack without the touching of any of the stoppers or individual handling of single stoppers.
Another salient object of my invention is the provision of means whereby selected groups of tubes in the racks can be stoppered or unstoppered without afiecting the remaining tubes in the rack.
A further object of my invention is the provision of a top plate carrying a plurality of individual expandable stoppers for test tubes, with means for simultaneously operating all or selected groups of the stoppers by swinging handle actuated cams carried by the stoppers and cooperating with the plate.
A further important object of my invention is the provision of means for locking all of the stoppers on the plate and for locking the tubes by the stoppers to the plate, the plate being of such a character as to overlie and cooperate with the rack, whereby the rack and plate can be simultaneously grasped by the hands of a technician so that the rack and tubes can be safely rocked back and forth without danger of any of the tubes slipping from the rack.
A still further object of my invention is to provide means whereby each stopper body completely surrounds and encloses adjacent metal parts of the apparatus, where by the contacting of metal with the contents of the tubes is eliminated.
A still further important object of my invention is the provision of a multiple stoppering unit for test tubes, which can be readily sterilized and easily maintained in a sterile condition.
With these and other objects in view, the invention consists in the novel construction, arrangement and formation of parts, as will be hereinafter more specifically described and claimed, and illustrated in the accompanymg drawings, in whcih drawings,
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of my novel stoppermg device showing the same applied to a plurality ofitest tubes positioned in a rack, parts of the figure being shown broken away and in section to illustrate structural detail, the view also showing the stoppers for one group of test tubes in a raised, released position;
FIGURE 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus in use on the test tubes and rack, parts of the view being shown in section, the parts in section being taken on the line 22 of FIGURE 1, looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIGURE 3 is a transverse sectional view through the apparatus showing the same applied to the test tubes and rack, the section being taken on the line 33 of FIGURE 1, looking in the direction of the arrows, the view showing one group of test tubes stoppered and another group W121 the stoppers in their released, contracted position, an
FIGURE 4 is an end elevational view of the multiple stoppermg apparatus attached to the test tubes and removed from the rack.
Referring to the drawings in detail, wherein similar reference characters designate corresponding parts throughout the several views, the letter A generally indicates my multiple stoppering unit or apparatus for use m con unction with a plurality of test tubes or the like T and a carrying rack R for the test tubes.
The test tubes T are of a type commonly used in laboratory and hospital work, and hence will not be described in detail. It is to be noted, however, that each of the tubes has an open top terminal.
The carrying rack for the tubes T is also of a common type used in laboratory and hospital work and the same includes end walls 5 and 6 rigidly secured to a bottom wall 7. Overlying the bottom wall 7 are longitudinally spaced partitions 8 and '9 and these partitions are rigidly secured to the end walls 5 and 6. The partitions 8 and 9 have formed thereon a plurality of vertically aligned openings 10 in which the test tubes T are inserted. The lower ends of the test tubes T rest on the bottom wall 7. It is to be noted that the openings 10 are of a greater diameter than the diameter of the test tubes T, whereby the tubes can be easily slipped into the openings.
The multiple stopper unit or apparatus A comprises a top carrier plate 11, preferably, but not necessarily formed from stainless steel. The plate 11 is strength erred by a longitudinally extending struck up rib 12. The longitudinal edges of the plate 11 are also provided with upstnuek and outwardly extending strengthening flanges 13. These flanges 13 also serve another purpose, as will later appear.
The top carrier plate 11 supports a plurality of expansible stoppers 14. The stoppers corresponding in number, of course, to the tubes T. As the tubes T are arranged in two longitudinal rows, the stoppers likewise are arranged in two longitudinal rows, and the stoppers are spaced one from the other to agree with the spacing of the tubes so that all of the stoppers can be simultaneously placed in the tubes and removed therefrom.
Each stopper is of identical construction and each in cludes the resilient expansible stopper body 15. This stopper body can be formed from rubber or other similar material. Anchored Within each stopper body is a threaded stem 16 "which extends outwardly of the stopper body and through an opening in the top carrier plate 11. The lower end of the threaded stem 16 is provided with a head 17 and this head is embedded in the stopper body and the stopper body completely surrounds this head. Threaded on each stem is an elongated sleeve nut 18. The sleeve nut extends into the stopper body and through the top carrier plate 11 and beyond the upper terminal of the threaded stem and the top carrier plate. Pivotally carried by the upper end of each sleeve nut, by a pivoted pin 19, is an operating cam it. The cam is preferably of a U-shape in cross-section and straddles the sleeve nut and is adapted to bear against the upper face of the carrier plate 11. When the cam lever 20 is in its lowered position as shown on the left hand side of FIGURE 3 and on both sides of FIGURE 4, the lobes of the cam engage the carrier plate and pull up on the stem and the body 15. This compresses We stopper body longitudinally and expands the stopper body circumferentially and this forces the stopper body in intimate sealing contact with the upper end of its tube. With the cam lever 20. in a raised position, as shown on the right hand side of FIGURE 3, then the lobes of the cam lever are moved away 'fnom the carrier plate allowing longitudinal expansion ot the stopper body and circumferential contraction. With the cam lever in its raised position, a stopper can be easily inserted or withdrawn from a tube. It is to be noted at this point that the stopper body being anchored to the threaded stem can be rotated so as to move the stem up and down and thus initially adjust the diameter size of the stopper body. Hence, each stopper body can be initially independently adjusted of another stopper body. This is advantageous where interior diameters of the test tubes might vary in size. Each cam lever terminates in an outwardly extending lip 21 and the lips of the cam levers are connected by rivets or the like, through the medium of a bar 22. In accordance with this invention, the bars do not extend the full length of the apparatus and the stoppers on each side of the carrier plate are divided into groups and a bar 22 is utilized for connecting the cam levers of a group of stoppers together. In the present showing, I have provided two groups of stoppers on each side of the longitudinal center of the carrier plate and hence the apparatus is divided into tour groups of stoppers. Hence, by manipulating one connector bar, one group of stoppers can be expanded or contracted by the movement of such bar and the operation of the group of cam levers. Each bar carries any desired type of manipulating handle 23. The arrangement of the stoppers and manipulation of a certain group of stoppers is advantageous, in that, it may be highly desirable to only unstopper a certain group of test tubes at one time, or to stopper one set of test tubes at one time.
The carrier plate itself preferably extends beyond the end Walls and 6 of the rack R but in all circumstances it is proposed to have the terminals of the plate 11 end adjacent to such end walls.
With the stoppers inserted within the test tubes and the connector bars in their lowered position, it is obvious that all of the test tubes are firmly locked to the carrier plate and dislodgement of any test tube of the gnoup tuom the plate can be eliminated.
Thus, if desired all of the test tubes can be bodily lifted from out of the rack by the carrier plate.
With the carrier plate positioned as shown and the test tubes connected to the carrier plate by the stoppers, then the rack can be grasped in the hands of a technician, with certain fingers overlying the terminals of the carrier plate. This holds the carrier plate on the rack and hence, the carrier plate, the rack and test tubes can be all rocked together back and forth to commingle a specimen and additive, without any danger of a tube or tubes slipping from out of the rack.
Great stress is laid on the fact that a plurality of stoppers are carried by the plate and that all of the stoppers can be simultaneously inserted within the tubes or removed from the tubes, and that after initial adjustment of the stoppers, the stoppers need never be touched by the hands of an operator or technician.
Thus, the tubes, stoppers, etc. can be easily maintained in a sterile condition. Actually, the entire apparatus A can be easily sterilized when necessary or desirable.
The levers when in'their lowered position strike against the reinforcing flanges 13, and hence, these flanges 13 form means for limiting the downward movement of the cam levers.
Changes in details may be made without departing from the spirit or the scope of this invention, but what I claim as new is:
1. A multipie stoppering unit comprising an elongated carrier plate, a plurality of equidistantly spaced expandable stoppers carried directly by the plate and extending outwardly from one face thereof, and means for simultaneously expanding and contracting the stoppers.
2. A multiple stoppering unit for a plurality of independent con-tainers comprising an elongated carrier plate, a plurality of independent expandable stoppers carried by the plate and extending outwardly from one face thereof, and means cperatively connected to the individual stoppers and cooperating with the plate for expanding and contracting the stoppers.
3. A multiple stoppering unit for a plurality of independent containers comprising a carrier plate, a plunality of equidistantly spaced expansible stoppers carried by the plate and extending outwardly from one face thereof, said stoppers being divided into groups, and means operatively connecting groups of stoppers together and for co-action with the plate for expanding and contracting groups of stoppers independently of other groups.
4. A multiple stoppering unit comprising a carrier plate, a plurality of independent stoppers carried by the plate, each of said stoppers including a resilient expandable body having a stem connected therewith extending through the plate, a sleeve connected with each stem and extending through the plate, a cam lever rockably mounted on each stem having lobes movable into and out of engagernent with the plate for contracting the resilient bodies longitudinally and expanding the bodies radially when the lobes are in a lowered position in engagement with the plate, and means connecting the levers together whereby s-aid levers can be simultaneously operated.
5. A multiple stoppering unit as defined in claim 4, and said resilient expa-nsible body completely enclosing its stem.
6. multiple stoppering unit as defined in claim 4, and said stern being anchored to its body for movement therewith, and said stem having threaded connections with the sleeves whereby each body can be turned independently of another stopper body to permit individual adjustment of the stopper bodies.
7. In a laboratory appliance, a rack, a plurality of spaced test tubes loosely fitted in the rack, each of said test tubes having an open end, and a multiple stoppering unit for the test tubes cooperating with the tubes and said rack including top carrier plate overlying said rack and in close proximity thereto whereby the rack and carrier plate can be simultaneously grasped, a plurality of independent stoppers carried by the plate and depending therefrom and inserted in the tubes, and means for simultaneously actuating the stoppers for expanding the stoppers in sealing contact with the tubes and for contracting the stoppers to release the stoppers from the tubes, the stoppers when in their expanded position defining means for connecting the tubes with the plate so that all the tubes will be connected to the plate against the loss thereof and so that the rack, tubes and plate can be rocked as a unit in the hands of an operator.
8. In a laboratory appliance, a rack, a plurality of open ended test tubes loosely iitted in the rack and said rack having end walls, and a multiple stoppering unit for association with the tubes and said rack including an elongated top carrier plate overlying the top of the rack and terminating adjacent to the end walls of the rack, a plu- References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Van der Heide Oct. 20', Willis Dec. 31, Fowler June 10, Scryrngeour July 17, Allen Jan. 13, Moeller Oct. 17,