US 3652173 A
A retractable ballpoint pen has a standard size, replaceable ink cartridge. The retracting mechanism is designed to pass over the ink cartridge along the entire length of the mechanism, allowing the use of a pen enclosure whose only length limitation is the length of ink cartridge utilized.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1451 Mar. 28, 1972 United States Patent Miller et al.
154] RETRACTABLE BALLPOINT PEN WITH 2,905,147 9/1959 Johmann.................. ....4o1/11o x VARIABLE ENCLOSURE  Inventors: Louis W. Miller; Leonard G. Lipic; Louise FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS E Ke flr;W|fligmM,Mgm, 11 fSt 1.216.026 4/1966 G6m6ny.........................401/1o9 Louis,Mo.
Primary Examiner-Lawrence Charles  Assignee. Joseph Lipic Pen Co., St. Louis, Mo. Attorney polster and Polster  Filed: June 11, 1970  ABSTRACT A retractable ballpoint pen has a standard size, replaceable ink cartridge. The retracting mechanism is designed to pass 211 App]. 196.; 45,491
401 110 343k 24/08 over the ink cartridge along the entire length of the 491 99.1 17 mechanism, allowing the use of a pen enclosure whose only length limitation is the length of ink cartridge utilized.
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13 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,778,337 Lovejoy.... ........40l/li6 $16 $2 Wad i? i PATENTEnMms I972 INVENTOF? LOUIS UV. MILLEF? Leo/vane q. LIPIC LOU/5E E. KESTLER WILLIAM r1. MAR-r2 RETRACTABLE BALLPOINT PEN WITH VARIABLE ENCLOSURE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to ballpoint pens and in particular to retractable ballpoint pens having replaceable ink cartridges.
A variety of shapes, sizes and ink capacity ballpoint pens, of both the retractable and non-retractable types, have been manufactured and made available to the consuming public. A non-retractable pen can be made any length, and no standard size has evolved, as individual manufacturers use the size and shape of their product as a badge of identification with their customers.
Retractable pens, however, have tended to become standardized. The more popular varieties of retractable pens are enclosed in a casing whose overall length measures approximately 5-5/32 inches. While an exact length is recited in several measurements herein, those skilled in the art recognize that variations of :l/l6 inch or more from a predetermined nominal length, measured from tip to tip along the object, is not uncommon. This pen has become known in the pen industry, and is referred to hereinafter, as a standard, retractable ballpoint pen. Standardization of the retractable pen is a result of several factors. Many manufacturers utilize the same retracting mechanism, which mechanism is supplied by a limited number of producers. This necessarily reduces the variation between pen manufacturers found in non-retractable pens. Additionally, the retractable pen is designed to be carried in the shirt pocket when not in use. Only certain length pens can be carried conveniently in this manner.
In general, a standard pen has a lower casing where a spring and ink cartridge are inserted, and a cap containing the retracting mechanism. Commonly, the cap has a series of annular grooves alternating between a deep retracted position groove, and a shallow, writing position groove, molded in a plastic liner. The liner itself may be coated with a decorative material, inserted within a protective cap, or used as is. A ratchet and a plunger, both conventionally closed at one end, ride atop the ink cartridge. The ratchet is adapted to hold the cartridge in the extended, writing position by lodging in the shallow grooves while the plunger functions to alternately move the ratchet from the shallow writing grooves to the deep retracted grooves.
The ink cartridge used in this standard pen has also come to be known in the art as being a cartridge of approximately 4- 3/l6 inches in length, measured tip to tip. The difference in length between the pen enclosure and the standard cartridge is taken up by the retracting mechanism which, as recited above has been placed atop the ink cartridge in prior pens. The cartridge is generally of uniform, cylindrical shape, with the exception of a writing end and a crimp near the writing end. Commonly, it is all metal or has a plastic body and metal writing tip.
Smaller size retractable pens have been manufactured, and it is common to use an enclosure of approximately 4-7/16 inches in length, subject again to small manufacturing variations. This pen has shown sporadic popularity, but general acceptance has been limited by two major deficiencies. First, the manufacturing of a smaller pen required the use of a different size casing or enclosure. Manufacturers then reasoned that a smaller enclosure required a reduced ink cartridge length. Because the retracting mechanism in the standard size pen rode above the ink cartridge, manufacturers without exception adopted the same techniques for reduced size pens. Until the invention disclosed herein, a reduced size retractable pen always has had a reduced length ink cartridge. Secondly, once purchased, the consumer, attracted in the first instance by the convenient size of the pen, found that replacement ink cartridges were not available generally. Consequently, when the ink supply of the original ink cartridge was exhausted, the user discarded the pen or purchased a completely new one. The nonstandard and smaller size of the cartridge not only made replacement difficult or impossible, it compounded the problem by having a smaller ink supply available for use in the first place. The lack or non-availability of correct size refill cartridges severely limits repeat sales for smaller pens.
The invention disclosed herein provides a pen utilizing a standard ink cartridge with an enclosure effectively equal to the length of that standard ink cartridge, heretofore unavailable in the pen industry.
One of the objects of this invention is to provide a low cost, easy to manufacture, reduced size, retractable ballpoint pen.
Another object of this invention is to provide a reduced size, retractable pen whose only length limitation is the length of the enclosed ink cartridge.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide a reduced size, retractable pen that accepts a standard size cartridge.
Other objects will become apparent to those skilled in the art in view of the following description and accompanying drawings.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with this invention, generally stated, a retractable ballpoint pen utilizes a standard size ink cartridge and has an enclosure whose overall length effectively may be the same as that ink cartridge. A freely movable retracting mechanism, in the preferred embodiment having a ratchet and a plunger, is provided which permits the ink cartridge free ingress and allows the ink cartridge to extend into a finger actuator section of the pen. The ratchet works against a spacer operatively arranged with the ink cartridge enabling the ratchet to hold alternately a writing and a retracted position for the cartridge, as determined by the plunger command.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings,
FIG. 1 is an enlarged longitudinal sectional view showing an internal pen mechanism in perspective for one illustrative embodiment of pen of this invention; and
FIG. 2 is an enlarged view in perspective, partly broken away of a second illustrative embodiment of a retracting mechanism for use with pen of this invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIG. 1 for one illustrative embodiment of this invention, reference numeral 1 indicates a pen with a hollow lower casing 16. Casing 16 has an interior wall and open ends 2 and 3. Wall 110 forms an interior circumferential shoulder 11] near open end 2. A decorative sleeve 70 is conical in shape and has a flared end 112 which abuts shoulder 111 and holds sleeve 70 in place. Decorative embellishments, such as sleeve 70, are commonly used throughout the pen industry. However, the entire casing, including the sleeve, may be constructed of a single material. For example, plastic or thin gauge metal are used successfully in such integral construction. Sleeve 70 closes open end 2 with the exception of an egress opening 113 for a standard length ink cartridge 15. Casing 16 has a series of threads 5 near its open end 3.
A hollow cap 4 has open ends 6 and 7. End 6 has a series of threads 8 complementary to threads 5 for intermounting cap 4 and casing 16. When so intermounted the cap and easing define a single, open ended tubular enclosure 40 with a longitudinal opening 41 therethrough. In the preferred embodiment, cap 4 has a larger diameter than casing 16, but either the casing or the cap may have the larger diameter. While the preferred embodiment utilizes threading for intermounting the cap and casing, other forms of interconnection may be used. For example, a friction fit works well. The enclosure itself is conventional and is provided with a decorative band 9 near the juncture of cap 4 and casing 16. The silhouette of enclosure 40 is a matter of design choice, and in the preferred embodiment, the enclosure narrows to form a holding area 30 near end 2.
A conventional clasp 10 is L-shaped in side elevation. The short leg of clasp l0 terminates at an O-ring 11. A grommet 120 passes through O-ring 11 and is frictionally fitted to cap 4 at end 7.
An actuator 12 has a hollow, cylindrical shaped body with a closed end 13 and a flared, open end 14. Flared end 14 abuts a shoulder 45 and acts to retain actuator 12 within open end 7. Shoulder 45 results from the joining of grommet 120 with end 7 and the differences in diametric dimensions of those parts when so joined. Actuator 12 closes end 7 and is sized to permit free longitudinal movement toward end 2 and to accept freely the diameter of standard ink cartridge 15 along its hollow interior portion.
A standard ink cartridge 15 is slidably mounted in longitudinal opening 41 and is adapted for writing at one end. Cartridge 15 is generally a uniform cylinder with the exception of its writing end and a crimp 50. Crimp 50 acts as a stop against a spring 18 which is biased between shoulder 111 and crimp 50 to constantly urge cartridge 15 towards the retracted position.
Cap 4 has an interior wall 49 which defines a retaining ridge 60. Ridge 60 prevents a retracting mechanism 61-from exiting through open end 6 of cap 4 whenever the cap and ca'sing are separated, for example, when replacing cartridge 15. While it retains the retracting mechanism, ridge 60 allows free longitudinal movement for cartridge 15. Ridge 60 is resilient and retracting mechanism 61 may be removed intentionally by exerting pressure on actuator 12 until the mechanism is free.
Wall 49 additionally delimits a sequential series of deep and shallow annular grooves 19 which correspond to the retracted and writing positions respectively for cartridge 15. Retracting mechanism 61 conventionally has a ratchet 20 and a plunger 22. Ratchet 20 is cylindrical in shape and has a crown 100 with four fin projections 101 extending radially outwardly therefrom. Projections 101 ride grooves 19. In the prior art, the ratchet was open bottomed and closed topped so that it engaged the ink cartridge for approximately %inches effectively riding atop the cartridge. The ratchetof this invention however, is open ended. This is important as it allows ratchet 20 to ride freely over the cartridge length and to move independently from the ink cartridge.
Plunger 22 is cylindrical in shape and has a crown 102 complementary to that of ratchet 20. In the prior art, plungers narrowed near their top and extended through the open end of the pen enclosure. Plunger 22 however, allows cartridge 15 to pass along the entire length of the plunger. The diameters of the ratchet and plunger are chosen so that the plunger engages the ratchet until their corresponding crowns meet. The plunger functions to place the ratchet 20 into the shallow or deep grooves 19 alternately when either the writing or retracting position is desired.
Actuator l2 closes end 7 and receives the top of cartridge 15. Actuator 12, plunger 22 and ratchet 15 are in juxtaposition and rest upon a spacer 51 when cartridge 15 is retracted. In the writing position shown in FIG. 1, a degree of play, corresponding to the transverse length difference between the deep and shallow grooves 19, exists between the actuator, plunger and ratchet. Spacer 51 is a hollow cylindrical body which abuts crimp 50 at one end and ratchet 20 at its second end. Spacer 51 may be constructed of any material suitably rigid to prevent deformation over the life of the pen. An inverse wound steel coil works well.
As can thus be seen, particularly in FIG. 1, cartridge 15 is free to extend from the top of actuator 12 to just above egress opening 113 when the cartridge is in the retracted position. To extend the cartridge to its writing position, actuator 12 is pushed downwardly. This motion is transmitted to the plunger, ratchet and spacer and through the spacer to the ink cartridge. The method and mode of operation between the plunger 22, ratchet 20 and grooves 19 is well known in the art and forms no part of the invention disclosed herein. Other common retracting mechanisms may be utilized, providing they are modified so as to move independently from the ink cartridge.
Numerous other variations in the construction of the pen of this invention within the scope of the appended claims will occur to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing disclosure. Thus open end 7 may be enlarged to permit a uniform size plunger 55 to extend therethrough. The plunger also functions as the actuator, and such a variation is shown in FIG. 2. Likewise, a second crimp 56, shown in FIG. 2, may be used for spacer 51. Such an embodiment loses the inherent advantages of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in that the cartridge, while of a standard length, is technically no longer the standard cartridge defined herein and the closed end plunger requires modification of the cap 4 at its open end 7. Different materials may be used in the construction of spacer 51, cap 4 or casing 16. For
example, the cap and easing may be metal and the spacer Having thus described the invention, what is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is: 1. In a combination for a retractable ballpoint pen having a bottom casing assembly with open upper and lower ends and means for intermounting near said upper end, a top cap assembly having open upper and lower ends and means for intermounting near said lower end whereby said cap and easing assembly are intermounted to form a tubular instrument open at both ends, said instrument having a longitudinal opening therethrough; replaceable writing means slidably mounted in said instrument having a writing point at its forward end adapted to be projected and retracted through said lower end of said tubular assembly, spring means biased so as to urge said writing means towards a retracted position wherein said writing point is concealed within said assembly, means in said tubular instrument for defining annular sequential deep and shallow grooves, said deep grooves corresponding to said retracted position and shallow grooves corresponding to said projected position of said writing means, and actuator means extending outwardly from said top cap assembly, the improvement comprising a freely movably retracting mechanism operatively arranged to allow passage of said ink cartridge along the entire length of said retracting mechanism and a spacer for aligning said retracting mechanism with said means for defining annular grooves, said spacer acting to transmit motion from said actuator and said retracting mechanism to said ink cartridge.
- 2. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 1 wherein said spacer means comprises an open ended cylindrical tube adapted to be placed over said writing means.
3. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 2 wherein said writing means is a standard size ink cartridge.
4. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 1 wherein said spacer means comprises a crimp in said writing means.
5. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 1 wherein said retracting mechanism comprises a ratchet and a plunger, said ratchet being operatively arranged with said ink cartridge for independent movement between said ink cartridge and said ratchet.
6. A retractable ballpoint pen comprising:
a bottom casing assembly;
a top casing assembly intermounted with said bottom casing assembly to form an instrument with a first and a second open end having a longitudinal opening therethrough;
replaceable writing means slidably mounted in said instrument having a writing point at its forward end, adapted to be projected and retracted through one of said first and second open ends of said instrument;
spring means bias so as to urge said writing means toward a retracted position wherein said writing means is concealed within said assembly;
actuator means extending from the other of said first and second open ends of said instrument;
means for defining annular sequential deep and shallow grooves, said deep grooves corresponding to one of said retracted and projected positions of said writing means and said shallow grooves corresponding to the other of said retracted and projected positions of said writing means;
a retracting mechanism operatively arranged to allow passage of said ink cartridge along the entire length of said retracting mechanism; and
spacer means for aligning said retracting mechanism with said means for defining annular grooves, said spacer means acting to transmit motion from said actuator and said retracting mechanism to said ink cartridge.
7. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 6 wherein said spacer means comprises an open ended cylindrical tube adapted to be placed over said writing means.
8. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 6 wherein said spacer means comprises a crimp in said writing means, said retracting mechanism being adapted to permit passage of said ink cartridge along the entire length of said writing means.
9. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 6 wherein said writing means has at least one crimp in it and said retracting mechanism permits passage ofsaid crimp.
10. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 6 wherein said retracting mechanism comprises a ratchet and a plunger, said ratchet being operatively arranged with said ink cartridge for independent movement between said ink cartridge and said ratchet.
11. A retractable ballpoint pen including a replaceable ink cartridge, which comprises:
an enclosure having at least one open end, adapted to mount said ink cartridge so as to permit said ink cartridge to be projected and retracted through said open end;
spring means bias so as to urge said ink cartridge toward one of said projected and retracted positions;
actuator means mounted to said enclosure adapted to command projection and retraction of said ink cartridge;
means for defining annular sequential deep and shallow grooves, said deep grooves corresponding to one of said retracted and projected positions and said shallow grooves corresponding to the other of said retracted and projected positions;
a retracting-projecting mechanism operatively arranged to permit passage of said cartridge along the entire length of said retracting-projecting mechanism; and
a spacer for aligning said retracting mechanism with said means for defining annular grooves, said spacer acting to transmit motion from said actuator and said retracting mechanism to said cartridge.
12. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 11 wherein said retracting-projecting mechanism comprises a ratchet and a plunger, said ratchet having an axial opening through it whereby said ratchet is mountable over said ink cartridge and is free to move independent of said ink cartridge, and said plunger has an axial opening in it running between a first open end of said plunger and a closed second end of said plunger.
13. The retractable ballpoint pen of claim 12 wherein said plunger has an open second end.