US 3744662 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Zundel 1 1 1 3,744,662 14 1 July 10, 1973 OPENING DEVICE WITH NON-DETACIIABLE TAB Arthur P. Zundel, Chicago, Ill.
 Assignee: National Can Corporation, Chicago,
 Filed: Nov. 23, 1971  Appl. No.: 201,405
- 52 US. Cl 220/27, 220/38.5, 220/44 R, 220/60 R, 222/481, 222/545 51 Int. Cl 865d 17 00  Field of Search 220/27, 60 R, 38, i 220/5, 44 R; ZZZ/478,481, 482, 543, 545
561 1 7 References Cited V UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,021,976 2/1962 Tracy 220/60 R x 3 ,083,858 4/1963 Biedenstein 220/27 3,441,167 4/1969 Balocca 220/44 R x 42 3a 43 I O 36 35 27 lllllll l|i l| I lillillliil millll 11W 11111111 IIn Primary Examiner-Samuel B. Rothberg Assistant Examiner-James R. Garrett Attorney-James E. Anderson et a1.
[5 7] ABSTRACT The improvement in an easy opening type of container of a container end with an opening device having a non-detachable tab and made of a material such as certain resilient plastics, and having a lip portion airtightly connected to the container end with apertures in the lip portion and the container end aligned, a removable portion connected to the lip portion by a hinge at the inner ends of the two portions, the removable portion also being airtightly bonded over the apertures in the lip portion, and a pull tab with a grip adjacent the inner end and tab extension means connecting thepull tab to the removable portion adjacent its outer end. A preferred embodiment is reclosable by reattachment of the removable portion to the lip portion.
19 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures OPENING DEVICE WITH NON-DETACHABLE TAB BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates in general to an improvement in easy opening containers. In particular, it pertains to the pop-open member which is a part of the container end. Pop-open containers, such as are widely used for beer, soft drink and other beverages, have gained extreme popularity becuase of the convenience which they afford the consumer. Indeed, in this country use of the old church key type of opener is nearly a thing of the past.
Numerous improvements and variations have been made in the pop-open type of container and it seems apparent that in some form they are here to stay. How ever, some serious problems still exist, and this invention is directed to solving such problems.
In the most common type of easy opening container end, a portion of the metal end defined by score lines is removed upon application of a pulling force exerted through a pull tab attached to the scored section. After opening, the pull tab and attached scored section are completely detached from the remainder of the can. Some carelesss consumers often discard the tabs on the ground wherever they happen to be, even though they are careful to discard the main portion of the container in a trash barrel. In the past, numerous attempts have been made to produce a satisfactory opening device which is entirely non-detachable from the remainder of the container. However, because of numerous problems and certain requirements which must be met such attempts have resulted in either outright failure or the creation of some device which is impractical to put into production.
One of the difficulties in developing an opening device which is non-detachable arises becuase of the wide spread practice of drinking directly from a beverage container. Thus, it is required that no material interfere with the flow of beverage during drinking. It is also required that there be noprotrusions from the container which would interfere with the drinking process or the nose or face of the drinker.
Another limiting factor is that protrusions extending over the seam of the can cannot be tolerated as these would interfere with the normal can making procedures, with the filling procedures and even with the packaging procedures. Yet another factor for consideration is the thickness of any opening device mounted in a container end, that is, its height above the metal surface of the end. If the opening device, when unopened, would extend beyond the top of the container seam, numerous problems'would arise in can making, filling and packaging. Further, to increase the height of the seam has tremendous undesirable cost repercussions involving the amount and method of metal usage as well as other factors in manufacture of the can end. Therefore, it is highly desirable to have an opening device which does not extend beyond the top of the seam.
In particular, problems encountered in developing a non-detachable tab arise because the pull tab must normally be attached to the removable portion near the center of the can in order to provide space for the tab and proper leverage to start the opening. If attached to the outer end adjacent to the scam, the pull tab would either overlap the seam thus violating one of the aforementioned requirements or would lie over the potential opening in a manner rendering the opening operation most difficult or impossible.
Since the pull tab from a practical standpoint must be near the inner end of the potential opening, that is, near the center of the can, the logical way to make the tab and removable portion non-detachable would be to hinge the removable portion to the container at the outer end. However, to do this would interfere with the drinking or pouring operation and. thus violate another of the aforementioned requirements. Numerous other variations of these problems arise and the number and variety of devices contrived in attempting to solve these problems attest to the difficulty.
Another problem prevalent in the most common type of easy opening container is the breaking off of pull tabs from the container end without having completed the opening of the container. In some cases, the rivet will break or the scored portion will break adjacent the rivet from excessive bending in a futile attempt to tear the end along the score lines, thus rendering the tab detached and non-effective.
A problem to which a specific preferred embodiment of my invention is directed is the threat of injury to the upper lip of a consumer drinking directly from the can which is posed by the bare and occasionally sharp metal edge which is exposed in the common type of easyopening container.
A further problem to which a specific preferred embodiment of my invention is directed is the storage of beverage in opened, but unfinished containers. Because of the absence of adequate reclosures, the contained beverage spoils during storage. A preferred embodiment of my invetion incorporates apparatus which is the result of another invention and is the subject of s a tho-pending patent application filed concurrently herewith.
SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION My invention provides an easy opening type of container which successfully overcomes these problems. The inventive device described in detail hereinafter has a lip portion attached to the container end and a removable portion covering the apertures in the lip portion and hinged to. the lip portion at the inner end thereof, that is, the end away from the container seam. A pull tab is also located adjacent the inner end but is connected to the removable portion by tab extension means connected to the removable portion at the outer end thereof.
After the removable portion is torn away from the lip portion, the removable portion and the attached tab including the tab extension means can lie flat on the con-' tainer end and be away from thedrinking area. Therefore, this device does not interfere with beverage flow nor does it interfere with thedrinking process or the face of the drinker. Further, since the pull tab is near the center of the container end rather than near the V seam, it does not overlap the seam such that there is in terference in the can making process, the filling process or the packaging of filled cans. The device of using tab extension means further allows finger maneuverability and leverage such that the container may be opened with ease.
My invention may be used without the opening device extending above the upper edge of'the can seam. Thus, the related aforementioned problemsv may be avoided. In particular, the tab extension means may be two legs extending from the grip of the pull tab and encirling the removable portion to attach thereto at the outer end. Using this configuration, no height is added to the opening device.
The problems of sharp bare metal edges and storage of beverage in opened, but unfinished, containers are overcome in specific preferred embodiments of my invention which provide a reclosure device in which a resilient removable portion may be reclosably attached to a resilient lip portion mounted about aperture meansin a container end. Further, the problem of the breaking off of pull tabs from the container is also overcome since there is no requirement to tear out a scored metal section and since a riveted tab can be eliminated.
Another specific advantage of my invention resides in the possible ease of production by the can maker. The opening devices may be molded in one piece and simply pressed into apertures in the metal ends of containers. Thus, numerous steps including scoring and riveting may be by-passed.
Accordingly, it is an object of my invention to provide an easy opening container overcoming the aforementioned problems. 7
It is another object of my invention to provide a container of the easy opening type having a nondetachable tab.
It is a further object of my invention to provide an easy opening container having a non-detachable tab which is practical from a production standpoint and feasible in operation.
It is yet a further object of my invention to provide an easy opening container having an opening device with a non-detachable tab and removable portion which does not interfee with beverage flow or with drinking or the face of a drinker who is drinking directly from the container. I
It is still another object of my invention to provide a reclosable easy opening container with a nondetachable tab.
It is another object of my invention to provide an easy opening container hving a pull tab which does not break off prior to completion of opening the container.
It is a further object of my invention to provide a reclosable easy opening container having a container end which is easily produced by can manufacturer by insertion of a resilient molded piece in aperture means in the metal end.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS These and other important objects of my invention will become apparent from the following description and from the drawings showing preferred embodiments wherein:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of an unopened easy opening container having the nondetachable tab opening device of this invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the nondetachable tab openng device shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view as in FIG. 1 but with the container opened.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged plan view of the opening device of this invention.
FIG. 5 is a sectional view as indicated in Section 55 in FIG. 4.
FIGS. 6 11 are sectional views as in FIG. 5 showing the steps in operating a preferred embodiment of my invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED I EMBODIMENTS Referring in detail to the figures and particularly to FIG. 1, an easy opening type of container is designated by numeral 21. The container has sidewalls 22 and a container end 23 joined to walls 22 by seam 24. Attached to container end 23 is an opening device 25 having a resilient lip portion 26, a resilient removable portion 27 and a pull tab 28. Pull tab 28 has a pull tab grip 29 and tab extension means 30 integrally connected with resilient removable portion 27. Pull tab 28 is used in removing removable portion 27 from lip portion 26 to prepare the container for pouring or drinking.
As shown more clearly in FIG. 2, tab extension means 30 is connected to removable portion 27 by a tab connection means 31. Tab connection means 31 is integral with both pull tab 28 and removable portion 27.
As shown clearly in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, hinge means 32 connects removable portion 27 to lip portion 26. In the preferred embodiment shown, hinge means 32 is integral with both removable portion 27 and lip portion 26. Asshown best in FIGS. 1 and 3 hinge means 32 is adjacent inner end 34 of opening device 25 while tab connection means 31 is adjacent outer end 33.
As shown best in FIG. 3 and the sectional drawing of FIG. 5, resilient lip portion 26 has a top surface 35 which is above and adjacent to container end 23. Top surface 35 includes edges 36 about each of two apertures defined by lip portion 26. The function of edges of 36 will be described hereinafter.
Container end 23 of this preferred embodiment defines two aperture means consisting of two container apertures. Lip portion 26 has two protrusions 44 extending respectively through the two container apertures. Protrusions 44 of lip portion 26 define locking groove means 41 thereabout which grip container end 23 about each of the container apertures.
Lip portion 26 defines lip aperture means which in the case of this preferred embodiment consists of two lip apertures 46. Lip apertures 46 are aligned with the container apertures such that the beverage within container 21 may exit the container therethrough. Lip portion 26 also defines snap groove means 37 about each of lip apertures 46 below top surface 35 such that lip apertures 46 are larger below top surface 35 than at top surface 35. The purpose of snap grooves 37 will be explained hereinafter.
As shown most clearly in FIG. 5, resilient removable portion 27 is bonded by bond means 40 to edges 36 of lip portion 26 at top surface 35. Bond means 40 make removable portion 27 an airtight cap over lip apertures 46. In the preferred embodiment of my invention as shown, bond means 40 is integral with lip portion 26 and removable portion 27, that is, the same material forms lip portion 26, bond means 40 and removable portion 27.
FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5 clearly show the details of removable portion 27. Removable portion 27 is substantially planar and lying in a horizontal plane when the can is in an upright position and is unopened. Plug means 38, consisting of two plugs, protrude from the'under surface 42 of removable portion 27. In the embodiment shown, plug means 38 are integral with the remainder of removable portion 27. Plug means 38 are in positions corresponding to lip apertures 46.
Removable portion 27 is at a higher level when bonded to lip portion 26 prior to initial opening than when inserted in reclosing. As shown clearly in the figures plugs 38 have bulging portions 39 which during reclosure fit snugly into the aforementioned snap grooves 37 defined bylip portion 26. Plugs 38 are essentially complementary to snap grooves 37 and are airtightly engagable with snap grooves 37 such that removable portion 27 may be reclosable connected to lip portion 26. In this preferred embodiment, plugs 38 of the nondetachable removable portion and snap grooves 37 may be readily engaged such that reclosing is a convenient operation. Since both lip portion 26 and removable portion 27 are of resilient material, their tight engagement is sufficient to prevent loss of carbonation and to prevent off flavors from being exposed to the contained beverage.
As shown best in FIG. 4, pull tab28 has a pull tab grip 29 located adjacent inner end 34. This location removes it from the seam area to avoid the aforementioned problems. Pull tab 28 has tab extension means 30 consisting of two legs extending from tab grip 29 and encircling removable portion 27. Tab extension means 30 is connected to removable portion 27 at outer end 33. The necessity of hinge means 32 being located at inner end 34 makes'it impossible for a pull tab to be attached to removable portion 27 at inner end 34. Tab extension means 30 permits attachment at outer end 33 without relocation of tab grip 29. Tack 47, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, holds tab grip 29 down near container end 23 prior to initial opening. This removes it from operation areas during seaming of the container end to the container walls, during filling and during packaging and shipment. Tack 47 assures that pull tab 28 will not interfere in any of these operations.
In the preferred embodiment shown, tab extension means 30 extend from tab grip 29 and encircle removable portion 27 substantially on the same level therewith. The legs of tab extension means 30 are flat and thus stay well below the top level of the seam to avoid the problems associated therewith which were discussed above.
Referring now to FIGS. 6 through 11, the operation of the preferred embodiment of my invention is illustrated. FIG. 6 shows the non-detachable tab opening device of my invention in the initial stage, that is, prior to opening. Removable portion 27 is airtightly bonded to lip'portion 26. Bond means 40 and the connection of lip portion 26 to container end 23 by locking groove means 41 is suficient to provide an excellent seal such that under ambient temperatures and shipping conditions there will be no leakage. Tack 47 is unbroken and is holding the inner end of pull tab 28 substantially parallel with the container end so that it does not extend above the top of seam 24 which is not shown.
Referring to FIG. 7, the initial stages of the original opening are illustrated. The finger of an operator, not shown, is inserted in pull tab grip 29 and an upward force is applied to break tack 47.. Tack 47,which is plastic integral with removable portion 27 and pull tab 28 in this preferred embodiment, is easily ruptured since its size is quite small.
Referring to FIG. 8, the rupture of bond means 40 is illustrated. This rupturing is accomplished by the exertion of an upward and rightward force, as shown -in FIG. 3, through pull tab 28. Tab extension means 30 transmits the force exerted in pull tab grip 29 to outer 6 end 33 and the rupture is accomplished from left to right as shown in FIG. 8.
FIG. 9 illustrates the easy opening container of my invention with removable portion 27 and pull tab 28 fully-extended to the right, away from apertures 46 such that the container is in condition for drinking or pouring. Removable portion 27 and pull tab 28 can be held substantially flat against container end 23 by the finger of the drinker to insure that it remains away from the flow area. Pull tab 28, in this preferred embodiment, will extend beyond the far seam such that the drinker can hold it against the wall of the container substantially perpendicular to container end 23 and removable portion 27. Hinge means 32 may be grooved or the material trained such that removable portion 27 and pull tab 28 have a tendency to lie down without being held by a drinker. There are many well known ways which are suited for holding removable portion 27 and pull tab 28 away from the flow area.
It should be noted that neither removable portion 27 nor pull tab 28 pose any danger to the face of the drinker, particularly because of their location and, in
" the peferred embodiment shown, because it is made entirely of a resilient material such as certain plastics. Yet
they remain attached and indeed cannot be detached without a cutting action or violent pulling action of a type which would be quite abnormal.
Referring to FIG. 10, the initial stages of reclosing are illustrated. A downward force is exerted on removable portion 27 to insert plugs 38 into apertures 46 of lip portion 26.
FIG. 11 illustrates the opening device completely reclosed. Note that bulging portions 39 have mated with hollowed portions 43 in lip portion 26 and that removableportion 27 is now at a level lower than its level when bonded to lip portion 26 prior to rupture of the bond means during initial opening. Also note that pull tab 28 is now on a level with removable portion 27 well below the top of the container seam. By means of the same exertion of force through pull tab 28 as was used in the initial opening and thesam-e closing method just explained, the container may be reopened and reclosed repeatedly.
Hinge means 32 and tab connection means 31 may be of various configurations and materials. I highly prefer using a material integral with other portions of the opening device and indeed favor making all parts of the opening device of a single flexible material. If the opening device is made from a mateial such as plastic, as l have done, all portions and connecting portions may be molded together in a single mold. This provides the aforementioned ease in making a container of this invention. The old system of scoring and attaching a tab to the scored portion required several mechanical operations including riveting, forming and scoring. Ican use a single molded piece andyetgain all the aforementioned advantages.
Lip portion 26 may be airtightly sealed to container end 23 in a number of ways. However, in the preferred embodiment shown protrusions 44extend through container apertures in end 23 and locking grooves 41 in lip portion 26 grip container end 23 about the container apertures. Since locking grooves 41 are fairly deep, it is possible to get an excellent airtight seal between resilient lip portion 26 and container .end 23 without the use of any sealing compound. However, compounds maybe used and indeed other configurationsdiffering from the preferred embodiment shown may be used to form a sufficient airtight connection between container end 23 and lip portion 26. It will be noted that protrusions 44 are generally tapered. This tapering facilitates the can manufactures insertion of opening device 25 into the apertures of container end 23 by acting as a pilot.
As shown in the figures, plugs 38 have hollowed portion 43. Plugs may be either hollow or solid since both work satisfactorily.
In the preferred embodiments shown in the figures, opening device-25 is off-center and has two apertures which are radially aligned. The aperture farthest offcenter, that is, at the outer end of opening device 25, is a flow aperture for. the contained beverage. The smaller aperture near the center of container end 23 is a vent aperture which functions primarily to allow inward air passage as the liquid flows out the flow aperture. It will be noted that the apertures are similar in shape. This is not necessary as differing shapes may be used. Circular apertures are preferred because the airtight seal upon reclosing is quite satisfactory using that configuration. Further, circular apertures are quite satisfactory from the standpoint of rupturing the bond means initially connecting the removable portion to the lip portion. However, triangular configurations, or other regular or irregular configurations may be used.
While the preferred embodiment shows two apertures, a single aperture or more than two apertures are within the limits of my invention. A single aperture would normally be larger than the flow aperture of the embodiment shown and would normally be radially elongated so that the portion near the inner end would provide the venting function during drinking or pourmg.
The opening device may be made of a wide variety of plastic or other resilient materials. I have used polyvinyl chloride in initial testing with success. Other materials include low and high density polyethylene, polypropylene, certain polyesters of phthalic acid and ethylene glycol such as Mylar, certain nylons such as nylon 6-6, nylon 6, nylon 6-10, nylon 11 and nylon 12, styrene acrylonitrile copolymer, styrene butadiene acrylonitrile terpolymer, polyacetal, ionomer, polyallomer, and mixtures of any of the above with chlorinated polyolefins. Preferred materials include, polyvinyl chloride, high density polyethylene and isotactic polypropylene.
The resilient materials listed will form a good seal upon reclosing and yet have enough give that it is possible to snap the reclosure portion to the lip portion with ease. Further, all of the materials listed can provide hinge means, connection means, tab extension means and other parts of satisfactory strength to achieve the desired results in a single molded piece. Other materials and combinations of materials will be apparent to persons skilled in the art and familiar with my invention.
While in the foregoing specification this invention has been described in relation to certain preferred embodiments thereof, and many details have been set forth for purpose of illustration, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention is susceptible to additional embodiments and that certain of the details described herein can be varied considerably without departing from the basic principles of the invention.
1. ln an easy opening container, of the type having side walls and a container end wall joined in a seam,
such container end wall being provided with aperture means therethrough for drinking or pouring, such aperture means having one peripheral edge portion near said seam and another peripheral edge portion near the center portion of said container end wall, the improvement comprising:
a lip portion airtightly connected to said container end, said lip portion defining lip aperture means corresponding to said container aperture means and aligned therewith;
a removable lip aperture means closure portion airtightly connected by bond means to said lip portion about the periphery of said lip aperture means;
a hinge means connecting said removable closure portion to said lip portion adjacent said center portion of the container end wall;
a pull tab having a pull tab grip adjacent saidhinge means and having tab extension means connecting said pull tab grip to said removable closure portion adjacent the peripheral edge portion thereof nearest the said seam.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said tab extension means comprises two legs extending from said tab grip and encircling said removable portion substantially on the same level therewith.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said tab extension means is integral with said removable portion.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said hinge means is integral with said removable portion and said lip portion.
5. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said tab extension means is integral with said removable portion.
6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein said hinge means is integral with said removable portion and said lip por- 7 tion.
7. The apparauts of claim 6 wherein said bond means is integral with said lip portion and said removable portion.
8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein said container end and said lipportion define a single aperture. 7
9. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein said container end and said lip portion define a plurality of apertures.
10. In an easy opening container, of the type having side walls and a container end wall joined in a seam, said container end wall being provided with aperture means therethrough for drinking or pouring, such aperture means having one peripheral edge portion near said seam and another peripheral edge portion near the center portion of said container end wall, the improvement comprising:
said end wall defining two container apertures generally off-center of said end wall and radially aligned;
a resilient lip portion airtightly connected to said container end and having a top surface above and adjacent to said container end wall, said lip portion defining two apertures corresponding to said container apertures and aligned therewith, said top surface including edges about each of said lip portion apertures, said lip portion further defining snap grooves about each of said lip portion apertures below said top surface such that said lip portion apertures are larger below said top surface than at said top surface;
a substantially planar resilient removable portion having two plugs on one surface thereof, said plugs corresponding to said lip portion apertures and having circumferential bead portions complementary to and airtightly engageable with said snap grooves such that said removable portion may reclose said lip portion apertures after the first opening of said removable portion;
bond means airtightly connecting said removable portion to the edges defining said lip portion apertures;
hinge means connecting said removable portion to said lip portion adjacent said other peripheral edge portion;
a pull tab having a pull tab grip adjacent said hinge means and having tab extension means connecting said pull tab grip to said removable closure portion adjacent the peripheral edge thereof nearest said seam.
11. The apparatus of claim wherein said pull tab extension means comprises two legs extending from said tab grip and encircling said removable portion substantially on the same level therewith.
12. The.apparatus of claim 10 wherein said tab extension means is integral with said removable portion.
13. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein said hinge means is integral with said removable portion and said lip portion.
14. The apparatus of claim 1 1 wherein said tab extension means is integral with said removable portion.
15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein said hinge means is integral with said removable portion and said lip portion.
16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein said bond means connect said plugs to said edges of said lip portion apertures.
17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein saidbond means is integral with said lip portion and said removable portion.
18. The apparatus of claim ,17 wherein said lip portion is connected to said container end by means of locking grooves in said lip portion which grip said container end about said two container apertures.
19. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein said two'lip portion apertures consist of a flow aperture farthest offcenter and a smaller vent aperture near the center of said container end.