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Publication numberUS3438527 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 15, 1969
Filing dateAug 17, 1967
Priority dateAug 17, 1967
Publication numberUS 3438527 A, US 3438527A, US-A-3438527, US3438527 A, US3438527A
InventorsElton Berry Gamblin Jr
Original AssigneeElton Berry Gamblin Jr
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Drinking straws
US 3438527 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

April 1969 E. B. GAMBLIN, JR 3,438,527


ATTORNEY$ United States Patent 3,438,527 DRINKING STRAWS Elton Berry Gamblin, Jr., 3513 Rolling Hills Ave., Alexandria, Va. 22309 Filed Aug. 17, 1967, Ser. No. 661,307 Int. Cl. F16k 15/00, 21/04; F161 11/00 US. Cl. 215-1 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Drinking straws are provided with one-way flow valves to normally prevent flow of liquid into a straw. The application of suction interiorly of the straw collapses an elastic member and permits fluid to flow. Termination of the suction permits the elastic member to re-expand and seal the passage.

Prior art Attempts have been made in the prior art to provide one-way flow valves for drinking straws. Such devices employ a ball valve, which under suction of the user, moves from a straw sealing position to a liquid flow position and then reseats itself upon termination of suction. The difiiculty with such a valve is that the ball is returned to its seat either by gravity or by a spring. In the gravity device, the ball, of course, can be readily unseated due to movement or tipping the container while in the spring and ball device, the required suction is normally too great. The difiiculty in general with both of these devices is cost. Drinking straws are very cheap items, being figured in mils of cents per unit, and to apply a ball valve, whether gravity or spring operated, to such a device is not economically feasible.

Description of the present invention In the present invention, there is provided a conventional drinking straw which has arranged therewith a small preferably elastic hollow device which normally seals the entrance or is disposed completely across the interior of a drinking straw. The elastic device is made of rubber, plastic or other suitable elastic material and has an opening directed toward the end of the straw used by the person drinking. The device or valve, as it will be referred to hereinafter, is secured in place by one or more appropriate means. Upon the development of suction above the valve, the valve collapses, fluid flows past the collapsed valve until suction is terminated. Termination of suction permits the resilient device to expand to its original size, thereby again sealing the straw.

The straw of the present invention may be employed in numerous ways to prevent spillage of liquids in a container. Specifically, the straw may be inserted through an opening having a relatively tight fit about the straw in a soft drink can, for instance. This arrangement would prevent substantial spillage of liquid from the can even if it were dropped. The straw could be made integral with a lid for paper cups so that, when the lid was applied to the paper cup, no liquid could spill from the cup unless the lid was displaced. The device could also be applied to soda pop bottles by means of a stretchable membrane which could be integral with the straw and which would permit the straw to be inserted in the soft drink bottle and the flexible membrane then applied over the lip at the top to seal the bottle.

It is an object of the present invention to provide several embodiments of a novel valve arrangement for drinking straws which prevent flow of liquid through the straw except in the presence of suction developed by the use when it is desired to withdraw liquid from a container.

3,438,527. Patented Apr. 15, 1969 It is another object of the present invention to provide various arrangements for sealing soft drink and related containers with a straw arrangement in such a manner that fluid will not spill in any substantial quantity, even if the container is tipped over.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide valves for drinking straws which are very inexpensive, extremely simple to install, and which are relatively free of the problem of becoming unseated by movement of the liquid in the container.

The above and still further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of several specific embodiments thereof, especially when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIGURES 1-5 and 7 are side views in section of six.

Description of the preferred embodiment Referring now specifically to FIGURE 1 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a straw, generally designated by the reference numeral 1 having a generally spherical valve 2 located therein. The valve 2 comprises a hollow, elastic sphere having an opening 3 directed toward the end of the straw 1 which is normally engaged by the user. The relative diameters of the straw 1 and valve 2 are such that the valve is snugly received in straw 1 and the valve is retained in the straw by any conventional means, such as dimpling the straw as at locations such as designated by the reference numeral 4 immediately above and below the desired location of the valve 2. Alternatively, several spots of glue may be applied to the valve 2 before it is slipped into the straw. If a plastic extruded straw is employed, the straw may be extruded directly about the valve 2 which has glue or other sealant applied at spots about its intended line of engagement with the straw 1.

In use, when the user sucks on the top end of the straw, the resilient or elastic valve 2 is collapsed due to the difference in pressure on the interior of the valve and the exterior of the valve below the line of contact. The circular form of the valve insures side pressure on the valve which will cause it to collapse away from its line of en gagement with the straw except where held by glue if such is used.

An interesting feature of the valve arrangement of FIGURE 1 is that movement of the liquid in the container with which the straw 1 is to be employed, in the absence of suction at the top of the valve, tends to increase the sealing pressure against liquid flow. Specifically, pressure applied at the base or bottom of the valve 2 tends to cause the lower arc of the valve to become flatter and therefore increase the overall diameter of the valve, thus increasing the sealing pressure.

Referring specifically to FIGURE 2 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a valve 6 designed to enhance the latter effect discussed immediately above; that is, increase of sealing pressure upon pressure being applied to the bottom of the valve. In this design, there is only relatively small side pressure; that is, pressure transverse to the axis of the straw, tending to produce an unseating effect due to pressure at the bottom. This same feature makes it more difiicult to unseat the valve 6 than the valve 2 when using the straw since the area subjected to side pressure is smaller. In any given design, the radius of curvature of the bottom arc, which is generally designated by the reference numeral 7 of FIG- URE 2, is determined by the desired ability to seal against large internal pressures as opposed to the convenience of the user; that is, the suction that he must apply to produce liquid flow.

Referring specifically to FIGURE 3 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a valve 8 comprising a lower cone portion 9 and an upper cone portion 11 joined together along a circular region 12 of greatest diameter corresponding to inner diameter of the straw. The use of the lower cone portion 9 increases the area of the valve subject to the transverse pressure of the internal liquid and thus reduces the sucking force which must be employed by user to produce liquid flow through the straw in relationship to either of the valves of FIGURES 1 and 2.

In each of the valves of FIGURES 13, the valve is located wholly interiorly of the straw. This location of the valve is not an assential feature of the invention and the valves of FIGURES 4-7 illustrate embodiments not so restricted. Referring specifically to FIGURE 4 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a valve 13 which is quite similar to the valve 2 of FIGURE 1. In this arrangement, however, the valve 13 is somewhat larger in diameter than its associated straw 14 and a part of the valve is located below the straw or, more particularly, below the position of the straw 14 when vertical. The valve 13 may be held in the bottom of the straw by cementing at various points or over a continuous quarter or half section of the line of contact between the straw and the valve. Alternatively, elastic tabs may extend between the valve and the straw to hold the valve in place, such an alternative being illustrated, for instance, in FIG- URE and discussed more fully therein.

The valve 13 is provided with an opening 16 located interiorly of the straw 14 so that, upon suction at the top of the straw, a reduced pressure is developed interiorly of the valve 13, collapsing the valve and permitting fluid to flow between the valve 13 and the lower edge of the straw 14. With a given resiliency of a valve 13, the amount of suction required to produce fluid flow may be readily varied by controlling the size of the valve, at the time of manufacture and thus its position relative to the end of the straw 14. If the valve 13 is provided with a larger diameter than illustrated in FIGURE 4, it extends less into the straw 14 and a larger area is available to the external pressure so that less internal pressure reduction is required to produce liquid flow. On the other hand, if the diameter of the ball 13 is made smaller so that the ball sits higher in the straw then a lesser area is exposed to the pressure of the liquid internally of the container and a larger suction or greater reduction in pressure is required internally of the valve 13 to produce fluid flow.

It will be noted that, as the ball 13 is collapsed, there would be a tendency for it to rise in the straw and continue to block the end of the straw. However, by employing the proper number of holding flaps or number of glue points at the line of contact between the straw and the ball any tendency of the ball to rise in the straw is prevented. Other means for preventing this are illustrated relative to the embodiment of FIGURES 5 and 6.

Referring now specifically to FIGURES 5 and 6, a valve 17 is provided which is in the form of a cylindrical truncated cone. An opening 18 is provided at the top of the cone interiorly of the straw 19 with which it is to be arranged. In this embodiment of the invention, for purposes of illustration, resilient flaps 21 are secured to the bottom and side of the straw and extend into and are secured to the sides of valve 17. When suction is applied to the top of the straw, the cone 17 is collapsed and the flaps 21 prevent the cone from rising into the straw 19. The ease of flow of the liquid past the cone 19 may be further enhanced by initially forming the valve 17 with thickened regions 22 extending up the side of the truncated cone. The thickening is provided interiorly of the walls so that a smooth exterior surface is available for sealing the end of the straw. When suction is applied to the opening 18, the regions between the ribs 22 tend to collapse more than the ribs 22 thus providing a plurality of passages between the straw 19 and the valve 17.

Referring now specifically to FIGURE 7 of the accompanying drawings, there is provided a straw 23 which has its end cut off at an angle to provide an elliptical surface generally designated by the reference numeral 24. A ball 26 of a larger diameter than the straw 23, is disposed in the opening provided by the sloping surface 24 and may be sealed over half its circumference, more or less, to the ellipse provided by the surface 24. Preferably, the upper part of the ellipse is cemented to the valve 26 so as to reduce the unseating action of the liquid or internal pressure. Again upon the application of suction which is transmitted to the interior of the bulb 26 through an opening 27 at the upper end thereof the bulb becomes unseated over a relatively large area of the surface 24 and provides ready flow of fluid into the straw.

Referring now specifically to FIGURE 8 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a lid 28 for a drinking cup with a straw 29 sealed in an opening therein or otherwise held in relatively fluid type relationship within the lid 28. The straw 29 is provided with a valve 31 and, when the lid 28 is applied to a drinking cup, the cup is sealed against spillage except when the user sucks on the top of the straw 29 and unseats the valve 31 to permit fluid to flow therethrough. A small breather hole such as 32 may be provided in the lid 28, or a small opening located elsewhere, as at the lip of the lid, so as to permit air to enter the cup, unless the cup or other container is specifically designed to collapse as its contents are withdrawn.

Referring specifically to FIGURE 9 of the accompanying drawings, there is illustrated a saleable item for use with soda pop bottles. The device comprises a straw 33 having a valve 34 arranged therein and having secured near the top of the straw 33 and about the periphery thereof an elastic member 34 which can be brought over the lip of the bottle shown in the region generally designated by the reference numeral 36. Thus, the straw can be placed in the bottle, the resilient circular flap 36 pulled down over the mouth of the bottle, completely sealing the arrangement except when the user wishes to draw liquid from the container.

- It will be noted that these various arrangements all provide means for sealing the end of a straw which may then be used in conjunction with some means for sealing the entry of the straw through the top of the container. These devices have utility in a number of applications; for example, where the user is subjected to motion in a vehicle, such as an aircraft, and undesirable spillage would otherwise result. The present invention will permit a straw to be assembled into the container or made integral with the container and prevent the flow of liquid through the straw to the exterior except when the user wishes. At this time, he sucks on the top of the straw and partially collapses the valve. At all other times, the interior pressure of the fluid maintains the valve seated and prevents flow of liquid therethrough.

It may also be desirable to provide drinking straws of the type disclosed herein in combination with, i.e. either as an integral part of or separable from, a container having walls or an inner lining composed of an expansiblecollapsible material, such as any of the well known plastics suitable for that purpose. Such an arrangement is shown, for example, in FIGURE 9 if it is assumed that the bottle is of expansible-collapsible or merely collapsible nature.

In that event, no breather hole or other air access is required to maintain the fluid content of the bottle under the same pressure as the surrounding environment, as would ordinarily be required for removal of fluid via a straw if a rigid container were employed. Instead, as the contents of the container are withdrawn by the users suction on straw 33, the walls of the container collapse as a result of the pressure unbalance interiorly and exteriorly of the container. Of course, since the container (or inner lining thereof) is specifically designed to collapse, this is accomplished without need for any unusual labor by the user in sucking on the straw.

Of course, it is readily observed that the present invention also contemplates straws which may be bent or deformed to adopt a desired orientation without impeding the flow of liquid therethrough.

Moreover, if the straw is either bendable or extensible to a desired position or orientation relative to the flexible container with which it is associated, the present invention provides a convenient arrangement for consuming beverages without need for the use of hands, as may be required by weak, bed-ridden patients or otherwise incapacitated individuals.

I claim:

1. In combination, a soda-type straw comprising an elongated hollow tube having open ends, a hollow resilient body having a predetermined region with a cross-section of a shape and size the same as the shape and size of the cross-section of a predetermined region of said tube, said body having an opening into the interior thereof of a size less than the size of said predetermined region of said tube, and means securing said body to said tube with said opening located interiorly of said tube and said predetermined region of said body contacting said pre determined region of said tube.

2. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said body is located wholly within said tube.

3. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said body is generally spherical in shape and said tube is cylindrical.

4. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said body has a relatively flat convex surface located on a side of said predetermined region of said body opposite to said opening.

5. The combination according to claim 2 wherein said body has a concave conical region disposed on a side of said predetermined region opposite said opening.

6. The combination according to claim 1 wherein a further region of said body is larger in size than said predetermined region of said tube, said further region being located externally of said tube and said predetermined region being located in contact with one of said ends of said tube.

7. The combination according to claim 6 wherein said body is generally spherical.

8. The combination according to claim 6 wherein said body is a truncated circular cone having a base larger than said cross-section of said tube, said opening being located opposite said base.

9. The combination according to claim 6 wherein said tube is cylindrical and said predetermined region of said tube is an end thereof lying at an angle other than to the elongated axis of said tube.

10. The combination according to claim 1 further including a flexible container for liquid, into which said straw extends, said container being readily collapsible in response to internal container pressure less than the pressure exerted externally of said container, said container sealed tightly against said straw to prevent flow of fluid inwardly or outwardly of said container except via said straw.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,813,285 7/1931 Galetschky 23933 3,101,855 8/1963 Yat Chuen Yuen 2151 3,106,312 10/1963 Hitchcock 220-904 3,144,976 8/1964 Freshour 229-7 3,291,331 12/1966 Grisharn et al. 2151 DONALD F. NORTON, Primary Examiner.

U.S. Cl. X.R. l37525; 23933

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U.S. Classification215/388, 137/852, 239/33, 215/902, D07/300.2
International ClassificationA47G21/18
Cooperative ClassificationA47G2400/027, Y10S215/902, A47G21/18
European ClassificationA47G21/18