US 3563426 A
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United States Patent  Inventor Benjamin M. Bartilson  References Cited coluglgusl Ohm UNITED STATES PATENTS gm" 323 3.409,1ss 11/1968 Wright 222/565X  patented Feb 16,1971 3,499,588 3/1970 Bartilson et a1 222/565X  Assignee Morton International, Inc. Primary Examiner-Stanley l-I Tollberg Chicago, Ill. Attorney-Pendleton, Neuman, Williams & Anderson a corporation of Delaware ABSTRACT: This low-cost, one-piece integrally molded  Q COMBINATION plastic container top for containers of particulate substances P D in such as salt features a wall member having an opening with a 1 Chums 0 g hingedly-attached cover and a recessed perforated sprinkler  [1.8. CI 222/556 pl across he pening Access openings for mold parts ad-  Int.Cl 865d 47/00 jacent the sprinkler plate are effectively sealed against un-  Field ofSearch 222/565, desired k ge y a nap flap molded substantially normal to 556, 485, 545, 480 said sprinkler plate and flexed athwart said opening.
PLASTIC CONTAINER TOP WITH COMBINATION CLOSURE AND SPRINKLER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the invention The present invention relates to a plastic closure and sprinkler device for particulate materials and more specially to a low-cost, one-piece, integrally molded closure and sprinkler which lends itself to production by conventional techniques, preferably injection molding with simple two-section opposed dies.
For convenience herein, the invention will be described with particular reference to salt (sodium chloride) sprinkler and closure devices. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited thereto and can be embodied in the form of a sprinkler (or shaker) device to a wide variety of a materials, but, most advantageously, for particulate solids,
e.g., various condiments in granular form, granular sugar, granular foodstuffs and other edible and nonedible granular substances.
2. Description of the Prior Art The dispensing of particulate material, such as salt, presents a number of problems. Among these problems is the requirement of providing at extremely low cost a convenient, sanitary, stackable, attractive and structurally-sound package from which the salt can be dispensed selectively by pouring or sprinkling but which can be rescaled after each use. The stringent cost limitation has led to efforts to' mold one-piece snapon container tops including resealable pouring spouts and sprinkler devices.
Such efforts have met with only limited success. For example, in one case, the resulting combination top did not present a substantially planar surface in the closed position for convenience of stacking, but instead employed upstanding nibs or projecting buttons for securing the closure. Another disad vantage arose from the fact that undesired spaces had to be included in the sprinkler plate for mold parts, thus presenting excessive sifting or bypass leakage problems and defeating the function of the foraminous sprinkler plate, e.g., tine sifting and the retention of undesired large particles. This shortcoming is particularly apparent when using small-diameter spaced perforations for extra-fine distribution of particles. Certain efforts successfully coped with this latter. problem but utilized movable sealing means for the mold spaces which for certain applications are undesirable.
lt is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a low-cost resealable sprinkler which is integrally molded as part of a container top and copes with these problems. It is a more specific object to provide 'a low-cost, integrally molded closure and sprinkler which can be molded by simple two-section injection molding techniqueslt is another object to provide a low-cost closure and sprinkler combination which is free from projecting nibs and presents a planar top surface in the closed position for ease of stacking. It is another object to provide a closure and sprinkler combination which is free from undesired open areas on or adjacent the recessed sprinkler plate or grate in all positions of the closure from the open to the closed position. it is still another object to provide a closure and sprinkler combination wherein spaces for mold parts are closed by nonmovable seals. These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent as a detailed description proceeds.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In brief, these objects are achieved in a particular embodiment by a one-piece molded plastic closure and sprinkler which comprises a preferably-flat wall member having an opening preferably with at least one straight side and securing means adjacent peripheral portions for attachment to a vessel such as a salt container. The securing means is preferably in the form of a snap fitting, e.g., depending flanges on the wall member with enlarged engageable surfaces adjacent the lower extremity which engage depending flanges on the open end of the container. The wall member is preferably reinforced for structural strength by transverse flanges or the like, e.g., depending transverse webs.
A cover for, and substantially registering with, the opening is integrally molded in an upstanding position (i.e., vertical with respect to the flat wall member), usually along the straight side, by means of a thinned section whereby the cover can be hingcdly flexed from the upstanding molded position to a preferably-coplanar closed position. The cover has means for releasably securing the cover in the closed position, e.g., detent means or equivalents. A tab portion on the cover periphery preferably overhangs the wall member in the closed position so as to facilitate digital opening of said cover. I A perforated sprinkler plate or sifter grate is integrally molded to the undersurface of the flat wall member and extends substantially across the opening. It terminates spacedly from the inner, straight side so as to provide an access space for mold parts associated with molding the cover, including detent portions and inner portions of the cover and the thinned hinge section.
The resulting access space, which is essential so that all surfigurations, including cylindrical, frustoconical (funnel,
shaped), rectilinear, combination curved and straight sided polygonal orifices and the like. The sprinkler plate itself may be substantially flush with the underside of the flat wall member or substantially recessed below said wall member.
Because of recognized advantages, the structure of the present invention is molded as a unitary structure in plastic. The selected plastic should be readily moldable by conventional low cost techniques and should preferably have high strength, reasonable resilience and sufficient body to maintain shape under normal usage. It should also be inert, nontoxic, free from objectionable odors, and should otherwise meet structural, sanitary and aesthetic requirements.
Suitable plastics may include, but are not limited to, polyethylenes, polypropylenes, polyamides, accetate-butyrate copolymers, polyvinyl chloride polymers and copolymers, polystyrene, and compatible combinations thereof, preferably polyethylenes and/or polypropylenes, which have what the art refers to as excellent living hinge" properties. The plastic those with little tolerance to the normal flexure, may also contain necessary or desirable additives, such as dyes, plasticizers, extenders, and the like, as those skilled in the plastic molding art will recognize.
While plastics having excellent living hinge properties are employed, the life of the hinge can be adjusted, if desired, by proper selection and formulation of the plastic composition, as those skilled in the art will recognize. Thus, while the plastic may be formulated to outlive the normal span of usage of the salt container, it may be adjusted for sanitary reasons to prevent repeated reusage thereof.
A particular feature of the apparatus is the fact that when the cover and sealing snap flap are disposed at right angles to the flat wall member, the apparatus can be molded in one piece by conventional, inexpensive dual-mold techniques. Yet, after the snap flap is flexed into sealing position, the structure is free of undesired mold-access spaces which cause leakage and defeat the purposes of the perforated sprinkler. Thus, a relatively inexpensive, simplified, high-speed two-section injection mold, one section approaching in a direction substantially perpendicular to the wall member and the other section approaching from the opposite direction, can be employed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be more clearly understood from the following detailed description of a specific embodiment, read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention in place on a fragmentaIly-illustrated salt container, the combination closure and sprinkler being shown in the open or sprinkling position and the snap flap flexed into the sealing position;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 with the combination closure and sprinkler in the nondispensing position;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary elevation view in section showing a preferred embodiment of the closure and sprinkler with the closure and snap flap in the upstanding or molding positions;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary overhead plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 3 viewed from the left side;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary elevation view in section of the embodiment of FIG. 3 with the closure flexed into the closed position and the snap flap flexed into the sealing position;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary elevation view in section of another embodiment illustrating a variation of the detent means for releasably securing the closure in the closed position;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary overhead plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 7;
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 7 viewed from the left side; and
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary elevation view in section of another embodiment featuring a snap flap molded in a downwardly-depending position, the snap flap being flexed upwardly for sealing purposes as indicated in broken lines.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawings, a preferred embodiment of the plastic container top of the present invention is indicated generally as top member 10 and is mounted, preferably by an internal snap fitting, on vessel 12, such as a cylindrical salt container having a narrowed intermediate waist. While vessel 12 is not, per se, part of the present invention, there are manifestly cooperating and interacting structures between top I0 and vessel 12. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, top 10 may have a depending flange 14 with shoulder or rim 16 which engages an internal flange 18 on container or vessel 12 to form a snap fitting.
'The top member I0 comprises wall member 20, which in the illustrated embodiment is substantially flat, except for outwardly and downwardly extending peripheral edge flange 22. While top member 10 is depicted as the whole top for an open ended container, it may also constitute a plug-type insert or the like with peripheral recesses, grooves or equivalents, which insert is snap fitted into an aperture in the top wall of a container. Manifestly, wall member 20 could have elongated depending sides which could constitute the walls of the vessel, thus requiring only a bottom fitting or closure. The depending sides could take the form of elongated downward extensions of either edge flange 22 (in which case depending flange 14 could be eliminated) or depending flange 14 (in which case edge flange 22 could be eliminated).
In this specific embodiment, top member I0 is injectionmolded from injection-molding grade, high-density polyethylene having a density of about .95, and vessel 12 on which it is snap fitted is blow-molded from blow-molding grade high-density polyethylene having a density of about .96. Wall thicknesses may vary from 25 to 50 mils. Different colors for the top and vessel may be selected for utilitarian and decorative purposes. Either or both components may be opaque, translucent or transparent. Wall member 20 has at least one opening therethrough, generally indicated at 24, said opening preferably having at least one straight side 26 (FIGS. 3, 4 and 6) to which cover 28 is integrally molded along a thinned section 30. Straight side 26 would not be apparent in an overhead plan view when the cover is in the closed position as shown in FIGS. 2 and 6 because thinned section 30 is integrally molded therewith, presenting an unbroken exterior surface to the viewer.
In a preferred embodiment, wall member 20 may also have a second opening, preferably opposite opening 24, as indicated in dashed lines at 32 (FIGS. 1 and 2). In this opening is mounted an integrally formed dispensing spout, the specific structure of which not being, per se, part of the present invention. A preferred form of dispensing spout is disclosed, for example, in a copending application of Albert Yochim, Ser. No. 766,720, filed Oct. 1 l, 1968, and entitled DISPENSING AP- PARATUS.
Cover 28 comprises a substantially flat web 34 which is molded in the vertical position shown in FIGS. 1, 3, 4 and 5. Because of thinned section 30, it can be flexed to the closed position shown in FIGS. 2 and 6 so as to register with opening 24, whereby its upper surface is disposed in coplanar relationship with the upper surface of wall member 20. This facilitates stacking during storage, shipping and display and presents an aesthetically-appealing appearance. Tab 36, adjacent the center of cover 28, projects outwardly beyond wall member '20, whereby tab 36 can be digitally engaged so as to open cover 28, as is best depicted in FIG. 6. Alternatively, flange 22 can be indented or cut back inwardly to expose peripheral portions of the inner surface of the cover to permit insertion of a fingernail or tip of a finger for opening the same.
Perforated sprinkler plate 38 is integrally molded to the undersurface of wall member 20 and extends substantially across opening 24. It extends to edge flange 22 which is cut back so as to form shoulder 40, thereby exposing the outer peripheral edge of sprinkler plate 38. This outer peripheral edge is inwardly cut back to form a detent receiving offset 42.
Cover 28 has at its outer extremity a complementary peripheral detent 44 which is snapped into offset 42 to hold cover 28, in a closed position, as shown in FIG. 6. To open cover 28, tab 36 is digitally engaged to flex detent 44 out of offset 42.
Perforated sprinkler plate 38 terminates in spaced relation, horizontally and vertically, from side 26, whereby an access space S (FIGS. 3 and 6), generally bounded by transverse strengthening flanges 46 and 48, is provided Space S provides an access for mold parts which approach vertically upwardly in FIGS. 3 and 6 to fonn, in conjunction with mold parts approaching from the opposite direction, cover 28, including detent 44 and thinned section 30, as those skilled in the molding arts will appreciate. Mold access space S manifestly would cause gross leakage problems if not sealed.
In the present invention this problem is solved by integrally molding snap flap 50 at right angles to thinned extension 52 of plate 38, in a plane generally parallel to that of cover 28. Snap flap 50 is dimensioned so that it can be flexed across access space S and snapped beneath straight edge 26 as shown in FIG. 6 whereby access space S is sealed. The natural resiliency and memory" of thinned section 52 firmly biases flap 50 against the undersurface of wall member 20 adjacent side 26.
Thus, once flap 50 is snapped into the sealing position shown in FIG. 6, it is substantially nonmovable and the flow of particulate materials is limited to the perforations in sprinkler plate 38 but only when the cover 28 is not closed. In a sense, snap flap 50 provides a permanent seal for access space S, whereas cover 28 provides a selectively releasable seal for the sprinkler plate perforations.
Another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 79 which is substantially the same as the embodiment of FIGS. 16 except that the detent arrangement for holding the cover closed is reversed. For ease of reference, identical parts in the two embodiments bear the same reference numerals. In the embodiment of FIGS. 79, sprinkler plate 60 is recessed further below wall member 20 whereby it is below shoulder 61. A detent-receiving offset 58 is formed on the inner periphery of shoulder 61 above and adjacent sprinkler plate 60. Offset 58 receives in releasably-securing engagement the semicircular complementary detent 62 on the undersur-' face of web 64 of cover 66.
Another embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIG. wherein the-snap flap 68 is molded as an extension to strengthening flange 46in a'direction opposite to that of the embodiments of FIGS. 1-9. Snap flap 68 is then flexed upwardly in a counterclockwise direction in FIG. 10 so as to snap past flange 48, whereby the edge thereof is biased against flange 48, as depicted in broken lines. This also effectively seals access space S. This embodiment may be used on connection with the cover embodiments of either FIGS. 1-6 or 7-9.
The capability of molding container top 10 in a simple twosection injection mold is a particularly advantageous aspect of the present invention. Thus, when covers 28 or 66 are in a fully upright position, that is, webs 34m 64 are perpendicular to wall member 20, and snap flaps 50: or 68 are perpendicular to plates 60 or 38, respectively, the structure can be molded in its entirety using an injection-type mold, the two sections of which move in opposite or opposed vertical directions as viewed in FIGS. 3 and 7. The two mold sections are brought together, the plastic injected, the two mold sections are separated and the resulting container top is readily removed. This avoids the high cost of, and lower production rates associated with, complex multisection molds. This simplicity of molding is vitallyimportant in meeting the critical, low-cost requirement. t 1
Conventional molding techniques are employed. For example, A tapers are provided onve'rtical surfaces to facilitate removal of the molded structure from the mold. Recesses, 011- sets (e.g., 42 and 58) and the like are sized and configured so that they can be readily flexed or otherwise snapped from the mold. High-speed, multicavity molds are used. These and other techniques are well-known to those skilled in the molding arts.
Because thinned section 30 is, as aforementioned, a memory" hinge, the stresses therein tend to hold cover 28 or 66 in the open position. When cover 28 or 66 is flexed to a closed position, it is releasably secured in such position by means, of the detent means already described. Various equivalent combinations of detents and offsets and equivalents thereof may be substituted as those skilled in the art will recognize in the light of the present disclosure.
Transverse flanges 46 and 48 in conjunction with depending flange l4 and peripheral edge flange 22 or 56 provide substantial rigidity to the container top, particularly whenit is snap fitted to vessel 12. In fact, the combination of dispensing top 10 and container 12 interact to provide a substantially rigid unitary structure even when molded with relatively thin plastic walls, e.g.,25 to50 mils. a
From the above description it is apparent that the objects of the present invention have been achieved. While only certain embodimentshave been illustrated, many altemative-modifications will be apparent from the-above description to those sidered within the spirit and scope ofthe present invention, and coverage thereof is intended by this application. Iclaim:
l..-A one-piece molded plastic closure and sprinkler device for particulate materials comprising:
a. a wall member having an' opening therethrough and securing means adjacent peripheral portions thereof for attachment to another wall portion of a vessel b. a cover for said opening integrally molded in an upstand ing position to said wall member along one side of said opening by means of a thinned section, whereby said cover can be hingedly flexed along said, thinned section from said upstanding molded position to a closed positron;
c. a perforated plate integrally molded to inner surfaces of said wall member and extending substantially across said opening and terminating in spaced relation from said one side, whereby an access space is provided for mold portions associated with said cover; and v v d. flap means molded substantially normal to the plane of a sprinkler plate and dimensioned and disposed relative to the access space toebe flexed athwart thereto and snapped into nonmovable sealing engagement with the opposed side of the access space so as to substantially seal the same against granular flow.
v 2. The device of claim 1 wherein said flap means is integrally molded to a thinned extension of said perforated plate adjacent said access space, said thinned extension permitting said flap to be flexed so that the opposed extremity of said flap is engaged adjacent said one side.
3. The device of claim 1 including a plurality of depending transverse webs on the inner surface of said wall member and wherein said flap means is integrally molded as an extension of one of said webs whereby the extremity of said flap engages another of said webs when flexed athwart said access space to seal the same.
4. The device of claim 1 including recess and complementary detent means for releasably securing said cover in a closed position.
5. The device of claim 1 wherein peripheral portions of said cover member when in the closed position project beyond said wall member whereby said peripheral portions can be digitally engaged for opening said cover.
6. The device of claim 5 wherein said peripheral portions comprise a central projecting tab.
7. The device of claim 1 wherein said securing means comprises a depending flange with enlarged engageable surfaces adjacent the lower extremity thereof for snap fitting said device to a vessel.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein substantially all surfaces are engageable by dual mold cavities approaching from two opposite directions when said cover and-said flap means are skilled in the art. For example, snap flap 68 could be integrally molded as an extension of transverse flange 48, rather than 46,
disposed in planes normal to said wall member.
9. The device of claim 1 wherein said apparatus is integrally molded of high density polyethylene.
10. The device of claim 1 wherein said wall member is substantially flat and the exterior surface of said cover is substantially coplanar therewith when said cover is in the closed position.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Dated February 16 1971 Inventor(s) Bpnjamin M. Bartilson It is certified that: error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column Column Column Column Column Column line specially" should read --specifically--;
before "those" insert particularly-;
cancel "the normal" and insert repeatedafter provided insert a period on should read in-;
after "vessel insert a semicolon (SEAL) Attest:
Attesting Officer WILLIAM E. SCHUYLER, JR. Commissioner of Patents