US 3642126 A
A package which is easily opened without visualization is provided by providing a plurality of tear-initiating areas on one edge of the package and on any other edge of substantially similar shape and length. The package comprises two adjacent sheets joined at the margins to provide a sealed compartment for an object, such as a sterile suture, between the sheets. One edge of the package is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas, such as slots or notches, and the package is opened by tearing through that edge. By providing a plurality of notches on the edge, it is unnecessary for the user to hold the edge at a single, precise point on that edge thus rendering it virtually unnecessary to look at the edge during tearing. In order to render it unnecessary to visualize the package during tearing, all edges of the package, or at least each edge that is the same shape and length as said one edge, is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas in the same manner.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Kurtz et al.
[ Feb. 15, 1972  SUTURE PACKAGE  lnventors: Leonard D. Kurtz, Woodmere; William H. Shave, Roosevelt, Long Island, both of 1211 Appl. No.: 8,171
FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLlCATlONS 215,019 9/1941 Switzerland ..206/56AB 1,001,226 10/1951 France ..206/56 AB Primary Examiner-Donald F. Norton Attorney-Larson and Taylor [5 7] ABSTRACT A package which is easily opened without visualization is pro' vided by providing a plurality of tear-initiating areas on one edge of the package and on any other edge of substantially similar shape and length. The package comprises two adjacent sheets joined at the margins to provide a sealed compartment for an object, such as a sterile suture, between the sheets. One edge of the package is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas, such as slots or notches, and the package is opened by tearing through that edge. By providing a plurality of notches on the edge, it is unnecessary for the user to hold the edge at a single, precise point on that edge thus rendering'it virtually unnecessary to look at the edge during tearing. In order to render it unnecessary to visualize the package during tearing, all edges of the package, or at least each edge that is the same shape and length as said one edge, is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas in the same manner.
3 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures FIG. 3
PATENTEDFEB 15 I972 III. -IAI'I'III FIG 5 mvmmns LEONARD D. KURTZ WILLIAM H. SHAVE ATTURN I-IYS SUTUREPACKAGE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to packages. More particularly, the invention relates to packages comprising two adjacent sheets joined at their margins forming a compartment therebetween for holding an object such as a suture, suture needle, dressing, bandage, medicinal pill, or the like. In another aspect, the invention relates to such packages which are easily opened for easy removal of the objects contained therein.
There is a general class of package which comprises two adjacent sheets joined to one another at the margin thereof and which can be fabricated from a single sheet or two separate sheets. Such packages have wide utility, particularly for small or flat objects such as medical dressings, bandages, lengths of sutures, medicinal pills and the like. Most of these packages are provided with means to open same to enable the packaged item to be removed. The previous means to open the package include strings, tear tabs, perforations, notches, and the like, all of which require either visualization (such as location of a string or notch) or precise physical orientation (such as location ofa notch).
It is an object of the present invention to provide a package of the type described which is easily opened without visualization and without requiring precise physical orientation. It is a further object to provide such a package for containing an object such as a suture, dressing, bandage, or the like.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing and other objects which will be apparent from the detailed description which follows are achieved according to the invention by providing a package comprising a first sheet, a second sheet adjacent to and coextensive with said first sheet and joined to said first sheet at the margins thereof forming a package therewith having a sealed compartment for containing an object, said package having at least one edge formed by the edges of said first and second sheets, a plurality of tear-initiating areas being provided in the package material on one edge of said package, and a plurality of tearinitiating areas being provided in the package material on each edge of said package which has a shape and length substantially the same as the shape and length of said one edge. By providing a plurality of tear-initiating areas along the one edge it is a simple matter to hold the edge properly for opening since it is unnecessary to locate a single, precise, point for opening the package. In order to eliminate the need for visualizing the package, a plurality of tear-initiating areas may be provided on each edge of the package, or at least on any edge otthe package which has a length and shape substantially the same as the length and shape of the one side. In either case it is unnecessary to look at the package to locate an operable edge and only slight physical orientation of the package is necessary.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Preferred embodiments of the invention are described in the following detailed description including the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a package according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of the package of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a suture package contained in the package of FIG. 1; and
FIGS. 4-7 are diagrammatic views of various packages of various shapes according to the invention.
With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a package according to the invention comprises a first polygonal sheet 1 and a second polygonal sheet 2 adjacent and coextensive with the first sheet. As shown, the package is made by adhesively bonding two separate sheets but it is to be understood that the sheets may be made from a single folded sheet or from tubular stock. In any event, the sheets are joined together at the margins thereof forming a package having a sealed compartment 3 for containing an object 4, in this case a suture 5 wrapped .in a paper wrapper 6 bearing suitable identifying indicia which is visible through a transparent package wall. The package wall, of course, is not necessarily transparent and may be provided with identifying indicia whether transparent or not. One edge 8 of the package is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas 9, in this case slots extending through sheets 1 and 2 from the outer edge of the package towards the sealed compartment 3. A second edge of substantially the same length and shape is provided with a plurality of similar shots. This package can be easily opened without looking at the package and without any tedious physical orientation of the package to locate tear-initiating areas such as a notch. One simply grasps the package and, in doing so, necessarily detects a short edge or a long edge. One using the package knows that the short edge of the package includes the tear-initiating areas 9. Since a plurality of tear-initiating areas are provided on the edges, a tear-initiating area can be easily located without the necessity of looking at the package. Since both short edges are provided with tearinitiating slots, it is of no consequence which short edge is detected. Since the short side is detected immediately without looking at the package, an operable edge can be located without looking at same virtually as quickly and effectively as if it had been looked at during the opening procedure. Since a plurality of slots are provided on that edge, very little physical orientation of the packagebeyond grasping it-is required to open the package.
The tear-initiating areas 9 are provided on the one edge 8 of the package, and on any other edge of a substantially similar length and shape, in a manner to effectively expose the contents for easy removal after opening. The tear-initiating areas are thus located on the edge such that the tear is directed towards the compartment 3. Continued tearing thus opens the compartment 3 and exposes the packaged object or objects for easy removal. Where a package is formed by adhesively bonding two sheets as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, there will frequently be sealed marginal areas 10 extending along a side of the package such that a tear-initiating area provided in area 11 of edge 8 above the sealedarea 10 might not ensure that the tear would proceed into the sealed compartment 3. It is therefore to be understood that while the invention contemplates the location of a plurality of tear-initiating areas on one or more edges of the package, only the operable portion of that edge is meant: the operable portion, of course, is that which is adjacent the sealed compartment and not portions such as areas 11 indicated by dashed lines in FIG. 1 which are remote from the sealed compartment.
The tear initiating areas are conveniently located on the package edge or edges such that the tear will proceed through the sealed compartment without being impeded by the object in the package. Thus, as shown in FIG. 1, the tear-initiating areas are provided adjacent one side of edges 8. This arrangement is particularly preferred where the package is rectilinear or substantially so. In order to more easily locate the tear-initiating areas on edges 8 of the package shown in FIG. I, the package sheets 1 and 2 are preferably noticeably different in design or appearance such that one grasping the package will always know, in general, the location of the tear-initiating areas relative to the package. For example,in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the operator would know the location of slots 9 relative to the printed indicia observed when grasping the package. In the embodiment shown, the slots are provided adjacent opposite ends of the package edges 8. It will be understood from the foregoing, however, that the slots could be provided adjacent the same ends of package edges 8 since the location thereof would be known relative to the printed indicia. It is not necessary, however, to observe the printed indicia. For example, the sheets 1 and 2 could be noticeably different in texture or appearance and one grasping the package would readily discern one of the two sheets, such as a transparent sheet 1. Thus, one would know, in the sense of FIG. 1, that the tear-initiating slots are present at the upper left and lower right sides of the short edges irrespective of which edge 8 was uppermost.
In order to make the location of the tear-initiating areas on an edge more easily to locate, the tear-initiating areas may be provided generally symmetrically on an edge either along the entire length of the package edge or edges such as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, or the tear-initiating areas may be provided adjacent both sides of each edge as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7. An arrangement of this general symmetrical type is preferred since it becomes easier to locate the tear-initiating areas. However, where the packaged object is large, it is preferable to confine the tearinitiating areas to the outer portions of the sides of the edges as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7 such that the tear will not be greatly impeded by the object. Furthermore, where more than two edges are provided with tear-initiating areas, it is preferable that they are symmetrically arranged. Accordingly, in a rectilinear package such as shown in FIG. 1, it is preferred to locate the tear-initiating areas symmetrically on the edges by locating a plurality of tear-initiating areas at the sides of each edge provided with those areas according to the invention.
The tear-initiating areas may be of any conventional type such as weakened areas, slots, perforations, notches, or the like. However, the areas are preferably in the material itself and are thus preferably capable of initiating a tear by grasping the package material and not an extraneous item such as a string, pull tab, or the like. Weakened areas may be provided by conventional techniques such as making the material thinner in cross section. The thin, weakened areas, extend generally longitudinally from the outer edge of the package towards the sealed compartment 3 and will initiate a tear through the compartment to expose the object therein for easy removal. Similarly, longitudinal slots as shown in FIG. 1 may be employed, as well as other conventional arrangements such as notches, perforations and the like, all of which are known per se.
The package material can be any conventional sheet material such as paper, plastic, metal foil, and combinations thereof. Plastic material is preferred since it is inexpensive. Oriented plastics may also be used. These plastics preferentially tear in a predetermined direction or directions and strongly resist tearing in other directions. In use in the present invention, the tear initiating areas are aligned with a predetermined direction ofeasy tearing such that a tear initiated in accordance with the invention continues in the predetermined direction into the package to expose the contents. Transparent materials which are easily sealed are known and widely used. Transparent materials are preferred for easy identification of the object or objects in the package.
The package is formed by adhesively bonding the adjacent package sides. Where two separate sheets are employed, the entire periphery of the package is adhesively bonded to form the sealed compartment. Where a folded sheet or tubular stock is utilized, of course, less than the entire periphery is required to be adhesively bonded to form the sealed compartment. To adhesively bond the adjacent sheets which form the walls of the package, any conventional technique such as heat sealing or adhesives can be employed. Several thermoplastic resins, such as polyolefins, are heat sealable by fusion without the use of adhesives and these are preferred. In any event, the sheets are adhesively bonded in the appropriate areas by conventional techniques to provide a sealed compartment.
The package may be of any suitable shape, either rectilinear or curvilinear, or a combination thereof. When the package is a regular polygon (including a circle) the tear-initiating areas are preferably provided on the outer edges making up the entire periphery of the package to avoid the necessity of determining by visualization or tactile sense, which edge or which portion of the periphery is useable to open the package. Where the package is an irregular polygon (including ovoid) one edge of the package is provided with the tear-initiating areas and any edges which are not readily distinguished therefrom by simply grasping the package are also provided with tear-initiating areas. Thus, each edge of the package which corresponds substantially in length and shape to said one side is provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas according to the invention. Several typical package shapes are shown in the drawings. A round package is shown in FIG. 4. Since the package has a single edge 12, the entire edge is preferably provided with a plurality of tear-initiating areas 13. A part rectilinear, part curvilinear package is shown in FIG. 5 and the rectilinear edge 14, which is readily distinguished from curvilinear edge 15, is provided with tear-initiating slots 16. An irregular polygon is shown in FIG. 6 having an edge 17. which is readily distinguished from edges 18, provided with a plurality of tear-initiating perforations 19 on the entire length of edge 17. An ovoid shape is shown in FIG; 7. In this package. while the edge is continuous, it has rather well defined edges ofdiffering shape. Accordingly, only those areas of similar size and shape, such as areas 20, are provided with tear-initiating areas 21 according to the invention.
The spacing between the slits is selected such that the package will open to expose the contents for removal when the operative edge is grasped and manipulated to tear open the package. This will depend to a large extent on the size of the package, the length of the side in question, and to a lesser extent, on the size of the object or objects in the package. In general, the spacing in a small package or along a small side will be less than in a large package or along a larger side and the spacing will be smaller for smaller objects. In general, the spacing will be not more than about one-fourth the length of the side of an irregular polygon shaped package and not more than about l/lO the periphery of a package in the shape of a regular polygon. The minimum spacing is largely a matter if choice and can be as small as convenient for the particular technique involved. A slit, for example, can be easily spaced more closely than a slot or notch. In general, it will not serve any advantage to provide tear-initiating areas more closely than about 0.05 inch and, for most packages a minimum distance of 0.10 inch will suffice. While the size of the object contained in the package is not directly related to the spacing between the tear resistant areas, there does appear to be a rough empirical relationship between them in several instances: the spacing is frequently larger than the smallest dimension of the object and smaller than the largest dimension thereof.
The objects which can be packaged vary widely in nature and generally comprise any objects which can be packaged as described herein. The package is particularly useful for packaging solid objects but is also useful to package a liquid or finely divided solids. The invention is particularly well suited to packaging single items and particularly to packaging solid objects which are large relative to the compartment in which they are packaged such as those which conform generally in size and shape to the size and shape of the sealed compartment.
In practicing the invention, the object may be located between plastic sheets and the margins sealed by heat. Two large sheets may be superposed and a plurality of objects sealed in separate compartments by heat sealing. The packages are then separated by cutting to provide individual packages and the tear-initiating areas provided by conventional means. Alternatively, the tear-initiating areas may be provided during the heat sealing step by using platens which corrugate the appropriate edges to provide thin, weak, elongate tear-initiating areas therein.
Packages made as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 are provided with tear-initiating slits across the entire length of edges 8laccording to the invention have been prepared and have been found to be opened easily without any visualization. The packages are made by locating a sterile suture with attached needle in a stiff paper wrapper and placing the wrapped suture between two sheets of clear plastic (Mylar-polyethylene laminate) each measuring 1 5/16 X3 inches. The package is formed by heat sealing the edges and 8 slits were provided in each of the shorter edges of the package. Each slit extended from the edge of the package about Vs inch towards the suture compartment. Packages so made are easily opened without visualization and without any tedious physical manipulation of the package to locate a tear-initiating notch or the like. With a rectangular, or elongate, package of this type, it is generally preferred to locate the tear-initiating areas on the shorter sides as shown because it has been found to be unnecessary to pull the object from the package, even if relatively stiff packaging material is employed. Providing the tear-initiating areas on the short edges induces a long tear lengthwise of the package, and it has been found that with almost all conventional packaging materials the object will simply fall out of the torn package, or can be shaken out with little effort. It is thus possible to remove sutures, for example, without the necessity of handling the suture or suture wrapper.
What is claimed is:
l. A suture package having a sealed compartment containing a suture in an elongate configuration, said package being substantially four sided and having two opposite sides substantially shorter than the other two sides, a plurality of tear-initiating areas being provided in said pair of shorter sides, said tear-initiating areas comprising slots in the package material extending from the edges of the shorter sides of the package inwardly towards the sealed compartment whereby upon pulling one end of the package adjacent the tearinitiating area a section of one of the longer sides of the package may be readily removed to expose the suture along the elongate face thereof.
2. A suture package according to claim 1 wherein the package is rectangular and the slots comprising the tear-in itiating areas on the shorter sides of the package are aligned.
3. A suture package according to claim 2 wherein the slots are spaced apart a distance equal to not more than about onefourth of the length of the shorter side of the package.