US 3632024 A
An aerosol actuator assembly is described. The actuator comprises a cap member and an actuator button concentrically mounted thereon. The button moves axially over the cap member to effect dispensing of aerosol formulation and when the button is rotated a stepped configuration on the cap member engages the inner structure of the button in a manner whereby the button is either in a nondispensing position or in a position wherein dispensing is enabled. The cap member is structured to firmly engage an aerosol container with the outer surfaces of the cap member and actuator button shaped to blend with the container to effect a streamlined contour comprising a continuous cylindrical shape.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States atent Inventor Norman Usen West Haverstraw, N.Y. Appl. No. 16,343 Filed Mar. 4, 1970 Patented Jan. 4, 1972 Assignee Union Carbide Corporation New York, N.Y.
AEROSOL ACTUATOR ASSEMBLY HAVING AN ACTUATOR BUTTON THAT IS ROTATABLE BETWEEN DISPENSING AND NONDISPENSING POSITIONS 1 Claim, 6 Drawing Figs.
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,752,066 6/1956 Ayres 222/402.l I X 3,460,719 8/1969 ODonnellet al ZZZ/402.11 X
Primary Examiner-Stanley H. Tollberg AttrneysPaul A. Rose, John F. Hohmann and John R.
Doherty ABSTRACT: An aerosol actuator assembly is described. The actuator comprises a cap member and an actuator button concentrically mounted thereon. The button moves axially over the cap member to effect dispensing of aerosol formulation us. Cl 222/402.11 and whenbthe is B t a Stepped l i g Int. Cl B65d 83/00 cap mem g z e p o 5. "0" m Field ofSearch ..222/402.13, l 'f" ere Y. 8 a if." g lgfi 402, 182 tion or in a position w erem ispensmg IS ena e e cap member IS structured to firmly engage an aerosol container with the outer surfaces of the cap member and actuator button shaped to blend with the container to effect a streamlined contour comprising a continuous cylindrical shape.
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SHEET 1 OF 2 A TTORNE Y PATENTEU JAN 4W2 3 632 024 SHEET 2 BF 2 NORMAN USEN ATTORNEY AEROSOL ACTUATOR ASSEMBLY HAVING AN ACTUATOR BUTTON THAT IS ROTATABLE BETWEEN DISPENSING AND NONDISPENSING POSITIONS The present invention relates to aerosol-dispensing systems and more particularly to an actuator structure for an aerosol container.
Aerosol-dispensing systems generally comprise a can or container within which is stored aerosol fonnulation to be dispensed. A valve assembly fixedly mounted within the container operates to release aerosol fonnulation from within the container through a valve stem when appropriately actuated. Actuation of the valve stem is efiected through an actuator assembly which is mounted upon the container top in a position overlying the valve stem. The actuator assembly comprises suitable means including an actuator button which when manipulated by the user effects actuation of the valve stem thereby enabling emission of aerosol fonnulation from the valve stem through the actuator internal structure for dispensing and eventual use.
The actuator assembly of an aerosol system is usually required to serve several important utilitarian functions, the primary function, of course, being to provide means whereby the valve stem of the aerosol container may be selectively actuated by the user for dispensing aerosol formulation when desired. However, another important aspect of the actuator assembly relates to the role that such an assembly fulfills in providing an aerosol dispenser which is stylistically attractive and aesthetically appealing. Aerosol formulations in most cases relate to consumer items involving household or personal use. As such, the aerosol dispenser must provide an ap propriately attractive appearance to enhance the marketability of the product by appealing to a prospective purchaser. Such purchaser appeal can be a crucial factor in the commercial success of the product.
An additional significant consideration relates to the manufacture of the actuator assembly particularly the ease and cost with which such items can be produced. Actuator assemblies are usually molded of thermoplastic materials, and it is necessary that the structural configuration thereof be such that there can be provided the required performance and versatility of operation with enhanced aesthetic appeal. However, these features must be provided in a structure which is configured and arranged to permit molding in a relatively simple and economic manner. Inasmuch as cost is a crucial factor in any aerosol system component, the most desirable actuator arrangement would be one which provided all of the features enhancing performance and appeal of the aerosol dispenser at a cost which would not be prohibitive.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved aerosol actuator assembly featuring enhanced operational and utilitarian aspects with an appealing external appearance which involves ease and simplicity of manufacture and which can be produced at a commercially acceptable cost.
Briefly, the present invention may be described as an actuator assembly comprising a cap member defining step means and an actuator button movably mounted thereon covering said step means. The actuator button includes surface means formed interiorly thereof engaging said step means in a manner whereby rotation of said actuator button to a first angular position prevents movement thereof to a dispensing position, with rotation of said actuator button to a second angular position enabling movement thereof to a dispensing position. The cap member comprises a cylindrical wall including means for engaging an aerosol container to effect firm mounting thereon of the entire assembly in a manner whereby there is effected the appearance of a continuous cylindrical contour.
A better understanding of the invention may be had by reference to the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a view in perspective illustrating the actuator arrangement of the present invention mounted upon an aerosol container;
FIG. 2 is an exploded view showing part of an aerosol container and the actuator assembly of the present invention which is mounted thereon;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view the line 33 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 3, showing the actuator with the button in dotted form to illustrate two positions thereof during a dispensing action;
FIG. 5 is a top view of the cap member of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the actuator button of FIG. 1.
Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals represent similar structural elements, the actuator assembly of the present invention is depicted as comprising two basic structural elements, a cap member 10 and an actuator button 12 both made of molded thermoplastic material and mounted upon an aerosol container 14. The actuator button 12, when in the appropriate angular position, is movable vertically relative to the cap member 10 to effect actuation of the valve stem 16 of the aerosol container 14, in a manner to be more fully described hereinafter, thereby to produce dispensing of aerosol formulation.
The cap member 10 is generally cylindrical in configuration and comprises an upper cylindrical wall 18 shaped to provide step means defined by a series of arcuate horizontal edges 20a, 20b, 22a and 22b. It will be noted from the drawings that the horizontal edges 20a and 20b occupy one and the same vertical level, while horizontal edges 22a and 22b occupy one and the same vertical level higher than that occupied by edges 20a and 20b.
The outer surface of the cap member 10 slants by means of a conically shaped wall 24 to a lower, larger diameter cylindrical wall 26 which is of the same diameter as the container 14, and which forms a generally continuous cylindrical outer surface for the assembly when the actuator of the present invention is mounted upon the container. The step means are positioned between and on either side of two upper arcuate edges 28 and 30 of cap member 10, with stop means in the fonn of a pair of upstanding lips 32 and 34 being provided at an end of edges 28 and 30.
The actuator button 12 which is generally of an inverted cup shape comprises an outer cylindrical wall 36, which corresponds in outer diameter with the wall 26 of cap member 10, and a slanted upper surface generally labeled 38 having formed therein a recessed surface 40 shaped to accommodate the finger of a user of the aerosol container.
The interior of the actuator button 12 is generally formed as a hollow cavity having located therein a centrally positioned, depending leg 42 and radially extending ledges 44 and 46. The ledge 44 comprises a slanted edge 48 and a horizontal edge 50, with the ledge 46 comprising a thinner section 52 having a slanted edge 54, and a thicker section 56 comprising a slanted edge 58 and a horizontal edge 60.
The interior of the actuator button 12 comprises conduit means whereby aerosol formulation may be caused to flow from the stem 16 to a target area for use. The conduit means generally comprise a vertical conduit 62 and a slanted conduit 64 in flow communication therewith. The vertical conduit 62 comprises at its lower end an offcenter enlarged opening 66 which engages the valve stem 16 and enables downward actuation thereof by means of abutment of the top of the valve stem with a horizontal edge 68 formed between the enlarged opening 66 and the vertical conduit 62. The slanted conduit 64 extends to an enlarged cylindrical opening 70 in the front face of the actuator button 12 which is shaped and sized to receive therein a nozzle insert 72 which comprises an interior conduit 74 serving as the exit orifice means for the aerosol formulation to be dispensed. The nozzle insert 72 is mounted within the cylindrical opening 70 in any appropriate manner, which should be well known to those skilled in the art, and it may be interchangeable with other similar nozzle inserts havpartially broken away taken along ing differing exit orifice configurations thereby to adapt the spray pattern of the dispensed aerosol formulation to the particular use intended.
It will'be noted that the slanted conduit 64 extends internally within ledge 46. As previously described, the ledge 46 comprises a thinner section 52 and a thicker section 56. The thicker section 56 is provided to accommodate the noule insert 72 which requires a larger diameter opening than the diameter of conduit 64. Due to the increased thickness of section 56, opening 70 may be formed with a diameter sufficiently large to accommodate insert 72.
The aerosol container 14 upon which the actuator assembly of the present invention is to be mounted is conventionally configured and comprises an upper annular rim 76 and a centrally located column 78 through which the stem 16 extends. A lubricating washer 80, which is an optional element of the assembly, is loosely fitted around stem 16 atop column 78.
In mounting the actuator assembly of the invention upon the container 14, the cap member I-which comprises an inner annular ledge 82, a slanted internal surface 84 and a vertical internal surface 86 formed on the interior of cylindrical wall 26-is placed upon the container 14 with the vertical surface 86 surrounding the rim 76 and in frictional engagement therewith. In the formation of the inner surface of the cap member 10, the vertical surface 86 is formed with a diameter appropriately sized to permit frictional engagement with the rim 76. If the diameter of surface 86 is slightly undersized, the tapered surface 84 permits the cap member to slide over the rim 76 in a manner whereby downward pressure will snap the surface 86 into position around the rim 76. Downward movement of the cap member 10 as it is being fitted over the container 14 is limited by engagement of the rim 76 with the underside of ledge 82.
With the cap member 10 in place upon the container 14 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 and as described, the outer surface of wall 26 will be concentric and in alignment with the outer wall of the container 14 thereby giving the appearance of a generally continuous cylindrical outer configuration. Extending radially inwardly from the ledge 82 of cap member 10 and four rib members 90 which support a centrally located washer cup 92 shaped as an inverted cylinder having an upper surface 94 with an opening 96 extending therethrough. The opening 96 is adapted to receive therethrough the valve stem 16 in a manner permitting free axially sliding movement thereof. The purpose of the washer cup 92 is to retain in place about the valve stem 16 the lubricating washer 80. In view of the fact that the provision of a lubricating washer 80 is optional, the retaining cup 92 may be dispensed with in assemblies where no lubricating washer 80 is to be utilized. The ribs 90 are formed as frangible members thereby enabling removal of the inner section of the cap member 10, including the ribs 90 and retaining cup 92, merely by breaking the ribs 90 from the ledge 82 thereby permitting removal of the entire inner section.
With the cap member 10 in place upon the container 14, with or without the retaining cup 92 and the ribs 90, the valve stem 16 will protrude upwardly above the ledge 82 in a manner whereby it may be engaged by the actuator button 12 when it is positioned above and about the cap member 10. With the actuator button 12 in position, the valve stem 16 will be frictionally engaged within the opening 66 which is sized to firmly hold the stem 16 therein. Depression of the actuator button 12 by a user will, in a manner to hereinafter more fully described, effect flow of aerosol formulation from within the container 14 through the stem 16, and through the conduit members 62 and 64 to the exit orifice defined by the insert 72. The interior structure of the container 14 and the valving mechanism included therein whereby controlled aerosol formulation dispensing is enabled may be in accordance with known principles. The actuator assembly of the present invention may be utilized with a side variety of well-known valve structures, and in the specific embodiment depicted herein downward depression of valve stem 16, which is achieved by downward depression of the actuator button 12, will cause aerosol formulation flow from within the container 14 in a manner known to those skilled in the art. Release of the actuator button 12 will automatically cause the valve stem 16 to move upwardly to its original position by means of a valve spring (not shown) provided within the interior of the container 14. Accordingly, it will be understood that initiation and cessation of dispensing of aerosol formulation will be controlled due to the internal valving arrangement (not shown) of container 14, which may be constructed by those skilled in the art in accordance with known principles.
The relative angular positioning between the actuator button l2 and the cap member 10 is of significant importance in the completed assembly. Angular alignment between button 12 and cap member 10 must be such that the flat horizontal surfaces 50 and 60 of ledges 44 and 46, respectively, are engaged upon either edges 20a and 201), respectively, or edges 22a and 22b respectively.
The interreaction between the horizontal surfaces 50 and 60, and the step means of cap member 10, enables operation of the actuator assembly of the present invention in a manner whereby the actuator button 12 may be rotated between two angular positions, one of said positions being such that the actuator button 12 may be depressed to effect dispensing of aerosol formulation in the manner previously described, and the other of said two angular positions being such that downward depression of the actuator button 12 is prevented with the actuator button in a nondispensing position.
The manner whereby operation of the actuator assembly of the invention occurs is depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4. In FIG. 3, the actuator button 12 is shown in the angular position whereby dispensing of aerosol formulation is prevented. It will be seen in FIG. 3 that the surface 50 is engaged upon the edge 22a and that the surface 60 is engaged upon the edge 22b. Therefore, the actuator button 12 is held in its uppermost position and it is prevented from being downwardly depressed to drive the stem 16 into the dispensing position.
Rotation of the actuator button 12 to an angular position whereby the surfaces 50 and 60 are in alignment with the edges 20a and 20b, respectively, is depicted in FIG. 4. When in this position, the actuator button 12 may be depressed and moved between the two vertical positions depicted in dotted form in FIG. 4. When dispensing of aerosol formulation is to be efi'ected, the actuator button 12 may be depressed from the upper dotted position to the lower dotted position of FIG. 4. When in the lower dotted position, the actuator button 12 will cause depression of the valve stem 16, in the manner previously described, and aerosol formulation will be dispensed. When in this lower position, the surface 50 will be in abutment with the edge 20a and the surface 60 will be in abutment with the edge 20b. Release of downward pressure upon the actuator button 12 will cause the internal spring of the container 14 to drive the valve stem 16 upwardly to the nondispensing position thereby also driving the actuator button 12 to the upper dotted position of FIG. 4. It will be noted that when the actuator button is in the upper position the surface 50 will be lifted from the edge 20a and the surface 60 will be lifted from the edge 20b.
The stop means 32 and 34 are arranged to confine rotative movement of the actuator button 12 in a manner whereby the surfaces 50 and 60 are maintained, respectively, angularly disposed over the appropriate surfaces 20a-b and 22a-b. The stop means 32 and 34 are of sufficient elevation that even with the actuator button 12 in its uppermost position, neither of the surfaces 50 or 60 will be elevated above the stop means 32 and 34. Therefore, rotation to beyond the angular section defined by the step means of the cap member 10 will be prevented. This will occur due to engagement between the stop means 32, 34 and the sides of ledge 46.
It will be apparent that the relationship between the surfaces 50 and 60 and the step means may be reversed from that described and depicted herein. That is, in the description herein set forth the surface 50 is shown to be aligned either over edge 200 or edge 22a, with the surface 60 being aligned either over edge 20b or 22b. With the button 12 in this position, the ledge 46 is engaged between stop means 32, 34. It will be apparent that the positions of ledges 44, 46 may be reversed by a 180 rotation of actuator button 12 thereby to reverse the positions of ledges 44 and 46, and of surfaces 50 and 60, without altering or detracting from the operability of the invention as described herein.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention described herein, the cap member and the actuator button 12 are formed of molded thermoplastic material. It is a significant feature of the present invention that there is provided by the particular structure and configuration set forth herein an arrangement whereby an aerosol actuator assembly, which operates between a dispensing condition and a condition wherein dispensing cannot occur, may be constructed utilizing conventional plastic molding techniques with enhanced style and aesthetic appeal. It will be noted that the structure of the present invention when in the final assembled condition provides a smooth, streamlined, continuous cylindrical shaped due to the interrelationship between the container 14 and the cap member 10 and actuator button 12. Inasmuch as these elements combine structurally to produce a smooth form, they can be manufactured and assembled to give the appearance of one continuous body, particularly if they are made from similar material. Additionally, the step means which cooperates with internal structure of the actuator button to provide the important operational features of the assembly enables a functional result of significant value without detracting from the external appearance and aesthetic appeal of the assembly while contributing to the simplicity of structure and economy of manufacture.
What is claimed is:
1. An aerosol actuator assembly adaptable for mounting upon a cylindrical aerosol container to form therewith the appearance of a continuous cylindrical shape comprising:
a. a cap member having a lower cylindrical wall with an outer diameter generally equivalent to the outer diameter of said container and an upper cylindrical wall smaller in diameter than said low cylindrical wall defining an upper edge;
b. step means defined by said upper edge of said upper cylindrical wall, said step means comprising a first and a second pair of sections of said upper edge located, respectively, at a first and a second vertical level, each of said pairs positioned in a generally opposed relationship relative to each other;
c. a cylindrical actuator button, having an inverted cup shape and an outer diameter generally equivalent to the outer diameter of the lower cylindrical wall of said cap member, mounted upon said container concentrically with said cap member and movable to effect dispensing of aerosol formulation therefrom, said button extending to surround and cover said upper cylindrical wall including said upper edge; and
d. surface means defined internally of said actuator button engaging said step means in a manner whereby rotation of said button to a first angular position renders said button incapable of movement to a dispensing position, with rotation of said button to a second angular position enabling dispensing movement thereof;
e. wherein said cap member includes lubricating washer retaining means mounted thereon by frangible means enabling removal of said retaining means when use thereof is not required,
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