US 3367535 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 6, 1968 w. G. TANGUAY 3,367,535
' PILL DISPENSER Filed Nov. 16, 1966 I NVENTOR. MLL/AM 6/1 MAA/ 7/l/V6U4V ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,367,535 PILL DISPENSER William Gilman Tanguay, Mount Airy Road, Rte. 12$, Croton, N.Y. Filed Nov. 16, 1966, Ser. No. 594,845 9 Claims. (Cl. 221-71) This invention relates to pill dispensers, and more particularly relates to pill dispensers for dispensing pills one at a time on a continuous web.
The term pill is used herein to include 'any small and discrete body used internally for medicinal purposes, such as small solid bodies and small bodies of liquid or semiliquid or powder, Whether normally cohesive or not. Additionally, the invention is applicable to the dispensing, one at a time, of small objects which are pill-like in size and shape, e.=g. the dispensing of buttons on a continuous web for use in 'a sewing kit. Those skilled in the art will appreciate other uses to which the invention can be employed that directly follow from its principal employement as a pill dispenser.
When medicines are prescribed in pill form, or when non-prescription medicines such as aspirin are purchased for consumption, it is generally desirable to take such pills at regular intervals. In addition, pills that do not perform a strictly medicinal function, such as birth control pills, are also taken at regular intervals, it being desirable to know both the number of the pill and the day it is taken. Also, sequentially oriented pills in a strip may have varied amounts of certain ingredients in order to reduce their costs or elfects or dosage.The packaging, dispensing, and metering of such pills presents a practical problem both for the vendor of the pills and for their ultimate consumer.
It is highly desirable to have a pill container which is compact and easily portable, for example in a wom'ans purse, so as to protect the pills from damage or contamination, and that is at the same time a dispenser capable of dispensing a continuous web of spaced pills with indication as to what number in the sequence of dispensed pills any pill just emerging from the dispenser represents. It will be appreciated that by this device daily dosages or hourly dosages need not be remembered specifically, the indicating means always recording the number of pills that have previously been consumed.
It is highly desirable that such means for packaging and dispensing pills should be capable of economical fabrication so as not to add appreciably to a pill manufacturers cost in merchandising his pills, it thereby being possible to employ the dispenser itself as the packaging for the pills at the time of vending. Alternatively, it is equally highly desirable that such 'a dispenser be capable of economical fabrication so that the dispenser itself Will have appeal to consumers as an item for their purchase for their own convenience for the dispensing of various kinds of pills supplied in continuous web form.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a small, hand-held pill dispenser for packaging a continuous web of spaced pills and dispensing same one at a time by a manually operated positive drive which gives positive indication of the sequence and number of pills dispensed.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a dispenser having means for re-indexing an external sequential indicator to the web of spaced pills without tampering with the web itself or opening the dispenser.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a dispenser which is capable of highly economical production so as to be feasible as a packaging means for the retail vending of the strip of pills.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a dispenser comprised of few parts, all capable of fabrica- 3,367,535- Patentecl Feb. 6, 1968 tion in a biologically inactive substance such as a plastic, and having an outside contour which is both pleasing to the eye and pleasant to grasp and operate.
Another object of the invention is to provide means for packaging pills so that they are protected from damage or contamination when carried on the person for periods of time and yet are available for dispensing one at a time without in any Way opening the dispenser.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a dispenser which relieves the user of the necessity of remembering the number of pills previously taken in a given preceding interval of time.
These and other objects and advantages of the.invention will be more fully understood 'as a detailed descrip tion of one presently preferred but merely illustrative embodiment of the inventive principles proceeds hereinbelow, with reference to the appended drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pill dispenser according to the invention shown with a portion of a continuous web bearing spaced pills thereon expelled from the dispenser body;
FIG. 2 is a section view of one-half of the dispenser taken along line 22 of FIG. 1; I
FIG. 3 is a section view of the assembled dispenser shown in FIG. 1 taken along line 4-4 in FIGS. 2 and 3.
Referring now to the figures, there is shown in FIG. 1 a pill dispenser according to the invention indicated generally at 10, having a generally egg-shaped or essentially ellipsoidal general outline. It has been found that such an outline is both pleasing to the eye and pleasant to grasp and hold for the purpose of dispensing pills. The dispenser 10 comprises a first shell half 11 mated to a second shell half 12 to form the aforesaid generally eggshaped outline. A manually operable knob 13 is recessed into the outline of shell half 12 at a depressed portion thereof for the purpose of allowing the user to dispense the pills P one at a time as will presently be described.
As may best be seen in FIGS. 2-4, the dispenser 10 is provided internally with various parts which store the continuous web CW of pills P and respond to proper manipulation of knob 13 by dispensing the pills P one at a time with the strip CW. The shell half 11 is provided with a peripheral lip 11a (FIGS. 3 and 4) extending around its periphery at the edge thereof, except for a gap therein between opposed ends thereof 11b, 110, for egress of the pills P in a manner presently to be described. The lip 11a is of an appropriately dimensioned outline to mate with the peripheral recess 12a of the shell half 12 (FIGS. 2 and 4) so that the two halves 11, 12 may be pressed to snap-fit together or may be pulled apart for access to the interior of the dispenser 10.
At an intermediate portion of shell half 11 is a web 1 1d which extends from the left-hand side thereof as viewed in FIG. 3 across a major port-ion of the trans-verse cavity within shell half 11 arid terminates at end Me which is spaced from the right-hand portion of lip 11a (as viewed in FIG. 3). Web 11d is preferably formed integrally with shell half 1 1, and extends to the plane of lip 11a as may be seen in FIG. 4. Web 11d thereby divides the cavity within shell half 'l l-a into two portions, a first portion indicated at 11 f and a second portion indicated at 11g. Near the center of portion 11 is a post 11h preferably formed integrally with shell 11 and, as may be seen best in FIG 4, extending to the plane of lip I la. Near the center of portion 11g is a tubular post 111 which extends only a portion of the distance to the plane of lip 11a, as may be best seen in FIG. 4. T uIbu-lar post 111' includes a central longitudinal aperture 11 and post 111 is connected to the righthand portion of shell half 11 by a pair of radial webs l lk, 11m, which do not extend toward the plane of lip 11a any [further than does tubular post '11i. These parts are also preferably integrally formed with shell half 11.
A notch 11p is formed partially in shell half 11, extending the gap between lip end-s 11b, 110, and this notch cooperates with a corresponding notch in shell half 12 (presently to be described) to form an egress aperture tor the continuous web CW and pills P. The webs 1 1k, 11m do not extend any further toward the plane of lip 11a than the edge of notch 11p. A generally S-shaped spring clip '14 (preferably of spring steel) is provided having a first end 14a formed to provide a narrow opening adapted to clip securely to the free end 116 of web 11d, and a second end 14b adapted when the first end is so clipped to be spaced slightly from the adjacent right-hand wall of sell half 11, as illustrated in FIG. 3. Spring 14 can :alternatively be integrally formed with web 11d, when a sufficiently resilient plastic is employed.
Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 4, the other shell half 12 includes an internal cavity which is divided into portions 12 12g which correspond to portions 11f, 11g 'of shell 'half 11. A post 1211 is essentially centered within portion 12 A wall portion 12b is indented into the outline of shell half 12 as may be seen in FIG. 1, so that the internal cavity portion 12g is much shallower than the port-ion 12]. As may be lbest seen in FIG. 4, an aperture 120 appears in wall portion 12b essentially at the center thereof. A n otch 12p appears in the rim of shell half 12 at a position corresponding to that of aperture 1112 in shell half 11, to cooperate as aforesaid to form an egress aperture.
Knob 13 comprises an outer portion 1311 which may be grasped manually, and 'an integrally formed central post 1312 which is of sufiicient length to extend through aperture 120 and into the cavity portion 12g within dispen'ser when the outer portion 13a of knob 1B is hottomed against the outer periphery of shell hall 12 at indented wall portion 12b. The 'free end of kniob post 16b is provided with an aperture 130. A sprocket wheel 15, which may be seen in FIGS. 2 and 4, is axially mated with aperture 130 by means of an axial sprocket wheel extension 15a which is either 'keyed, glued, pressed, or otherwise fixed into aperture 15a so that sprocket wheel 15 rotates with knob 13.
A compression coil spring 16 is coiled coaxially around knob post 13b between shell portion 12b and sprocket wheel 15 to hold knob 13 against the shell half 12. Ratchet-tooth-shaped detent means i12d is provided for engagement with corresponding notches in knob 13 so that the knob may be turned clockwise only (as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 1) in discrete unitary steps, each corresplonding to a length of strip CW adv ance bearing one pill P. The spring 16 allows the axial movement at post 13b within aperture 1'2c necessary for the appropriate detent action. By such means turning of the knobs proceeds click by click at detent 12d giving a better controlled advance of the dispensed pills. Further control is provided by the spring 14 as will presently be described. Indicia 1B are provided on the outer portion 13a of knob 13 to indicate the sequence of pills expelled. Preferably six indicia points are included for a reason to appear hereinbelow.
Sprocket wheel 15 includes seven equispa'ced sprocket teeth 15b, which extend radially outward from a sprocket hub 15 a distance sufficient to pass closely, but not to touch, the lateral walls of shell half 12. Each adjacent pair of teeth 15b define an intermediate pocket 1 5d, so that there are six pockets 15d, corresponding to the six indicia 13 on knob 13. The peripheral width of teeth 15b is small enough to fit between successive ones of pills P on the continuous web CW, and ea ch of the pockets 15d are of sufiicient tlepth and width to accommodate a pill P.
When the shell halves 1'1, 12 are snapped together of. 11a, 120, the posts 11h, 12h meet or closely approach at their free ends to form a single post or a single post in efiect, and the free end of sprocket wheel shaft 15c is rotatably captured within aperture -11j so that sprocket 15 is properly supported for rotation. Also, the notches 11p, 12p meet to rnutually define the egress laperture 1011 (FIG. 4) tor the strip CW with pills P.
The continuous web CW with the pills P is coiled around the pair of posts 11h, 12h when the shell halves 1 1, 12 are assembled as shown in FIG. 4. The cavity formed by the mated internal cavity portions 11 12f thereby serves to store a large quantity of lpills P on the continuous web CW. As may be seen in FIG. 3, the spring end 14b acts to prevent pills from being accidently turned back into cavity 12 and also to retain the adjacent pill P, thus providing a spring-bias against discharge of pills from the dispenser 10. This expedient together with the optional detent 12a guarantees that pills will not be accidently discharged from the dispenser 10 while in the users purse or pocket by slight forces at knob '13.
Rather, a certain predetermined torque is required at knob 13 in order to expel a pill, land this predetermined torque will be set at the appropriate level for the convenience of the user and the prevention of such inadvertent expulsion of pills. When the sprocket wheel 15 is torqued sufficient to turn it in the clockwise direction as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 2, the successive pills P are engaged between successive sprocket teeth to be driven together with their continuous web CW one at a time to and out of egress aperture 10a.
It is an important feature of the invention that initial indexing and re-indexing of the strip CW to the knob indicia 13 is rendered simple and efficient. When knob 13 is pulled away from the body of the dispenser 11 against the bias of compression spring 16, sprocket wheel 15 is pulled against wall 12b thus removing it from the plane of pills P, i.e. from the median plane of strip CW in the illustrated embodiment. This disengages sprocket wheel 15 from the pills P, allowing the knob 13 to be turned to index or re-index the indicia 13b to the strip CW in any manner desired, and without discharging pills P in the process. The seven indicia 13], corresponding to the seven teeth 15b, can be labelled for the days of the week when the dispenser 10 is to be used with birth control pills. Indexing the current day of the week to the first pill P on strip CW, and re-indexing the current day of the week to the next emerging pill when days have been missed or the like, is thus rendered simple and efficient. Since the strip CW need not be moved or molested and since the dispenser 10 need not even be opened to achieve this indexing or re-indexing, a very appreciable contribution to convenience is made by this feature. Release of knob 13 of course once again engages sprocket 15 with pills P for further dispensing.
The radial webs 11k, 11m serve to guide the continuous web CW in its traverse toward egress aperture 10a by holding it at one longitudinal edge thereof and against wall portion 12b so that the plane of sprocket teeth 15b approximately bisects the longitudinal median line of con tinuous web CW through the successive pills P. Thus, the continuous web CW with pills P is controlled by the spring 14, the torque on knob 13, the detent 12d, and the guidance of the wall portion 12b and the radial webs 12k, 12m, so that the expulsion of pills P is positive and the continuous web CW is under firm control at all times. This desirable operation is achieved with very few parts, which can be molded or otherwise fabricated in biologically inactive and economical materials such as molding plastics. The structure combines economy with efiiciency so that it is practical both as a package and as a dispenser.
The continuous strip CW may be plastic, paper, or any other suitable material. The pills P may be encapsulated in blisters thereon, may be adhered thereto, or may otherwise be fixed relative to strip CW. Similarly, the emitted pills P may be broken out of their blisters, or torn away with the adjacent portion of strip CW, or otherwise retrieved therefrom.
The invention has been described with reference to a particular embodiment. As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, many variations in the form and arrangement of parts can be made in the illustrated embodiment without departure from the scope of the invention. The embodiment is merely illustrative of the principles of the invention, and is in no way limiting of the scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A dispenser suitable for palming in the hand and manipulating to emit a series of pills on a continuous web, comprising:
(a) a shell formed in two halves, having mating edges adapted to be snapped together and apart, a dispensing aperture for egress of said continuous web with said pills, and mutually defining first and second internal chamber portions;
(b) a post extending across said first chamber portion to form a coil of said continuous web therein;
() a sprocket wheel carried between said shell halves within said second chamber portion, having an axis of rotation essentially parallel to the axis of said post, the teeth thereof being long enough to closely approach the walls of said chamber, and the pockets between said teeth being of sufficient size to each accommodate one of said pills;
(d) and control means for advancing said continuous web and pills off said coil and out said dispensing aperture under an impetus of predetermined magniture but to prevent such advance under lesser impetus, including (i) a manually manipulatable knob located externally on one of said shell halves and secured for rotation with said sprocket wheel, and
(ii) spring means situated at a position along the path of said continuous web from said coil to said sprocket wheel, adapted to closely bear upon said pills so that a certain tension force is required each time in said continuous web to load said spring means sufiicient to squeeze a pill therepast.
2. A dispenser according to claim 1 wherein, said control means additionally includes a detent means associated with said knob, and spring loading means on said knob to load said detent.
3. A dispenser according to claim 1 wherein, said control means additionally includes means for guiding said continuous web toward said dispensing aperture so that the median plane of said sprocket teeth is approximately coplanar with the median plane of the series of said pills in the vicinity thereof.
4. A dispenser according to claim 3 wherein, said guide means includes a shallow portion of said second chamber portion, for guiding the edges of said continuous web.
5. A dispenser according to claim 4 wherein said shallow portion is formed by an indentation in one of said halves at said knob, and one or more webs built out from the other of said halves opposite thereto.
6. A dispenser according to claim 3 wherein said shell halves together form a generally ellipsoidal outline.
7. A dispenser according to claim 6 wherein said generally ellipsoidal outline is varied at one portion, by an indented wall upon which said knob is externally carried.
8. A dispenser according to claim 1 wherein said knob bears peripheral indicia which indicate the position along said continuous web of the pill last ejected and the pill next in position for ejection from said dispensing aperture,
9. A dispenser suitable for palming in the hand and manipulating to emit a series of pills on a continuous web, comprising:
(a) a shell having a dispensing aperture for egress of said continuous web with said pills, and defining first and second internal chamber portions;
(b) means within said first chamber portion adapted to form a coil of said continuous web therein;
(0) a sprocket wheel carried within said second chamber portion, the teeth thereof being long enough to closely approach the walls of said second chamber, and the pockets between said teeth being of sufiicient size to each accommodate one of said pills;
(d) and control means for normally advancing said continuous web and pills off said coil and out said dispensing aperture but adapted to be disengaged for indexing and re-indexing, including (i) a rotatable knob located externally on said shell, (ii) a rotatable shaft connecting said knob and said sprocket wheel, and (iii) a compression spring on said shaft adapted to normally position said sprocket wheel in driving engagement with said continuous web,
said shaft being of sufficient length so that axial movement of said knob away from said shell can disengage said sprocket wheel from said continuous strip against the bias of said compression spring, for indexing and re-indexing of said knob with said continuous strip.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS STANLEY H. TOLLBERG, Primary Examiner.