US 3747791 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 Fouser INFANT NURSING DISPENSER  Inventor: John P. Fouser, 287 Juanita Way,
San Francisco, Calif. 94127 22 Filed: Mar. 17, 1971 21 Appl.No.: 125,216
Primary Examiner-Donald F. Norton Attorney-12m. M. NaylorJohn K. Uilkema et al.
[1111 3,747,791 July 24, 1973 s71 ABSTRACT An infant nursing dispenser and method of manufacturing same. The dispenser includes a body portion, which is at least partially collapsible and includes a fluid outlet having a seal cap affixed thereto. Piercing means is operatively associated with the seal cap and with a relatively movable actuator whereby relative movement between the actuator and piercing means causes said piercing means to break the seal eap when dispensing of the liquid in the body portion is desired. A postive locking arrangement is provided for maintaining the movable actuator and piercing means in fixed relative positions after breaking of the seal cap to insure the free flow of liquid in the body portion through the fluid outlet and a soft, pre-perforated nipple extending upwardly from the actuator. An overwrap is provided to insure the sanitary condition of the nipple prior to its use by an infant. In addition, support means in the form of an open ended tube at least partially surrounds the body portion to protect the body portion and provide a support therefore.
13 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENIED-MZWH 3.747. 791
sum 1 or g I N VEN TOR.
JOHN P. FOL/55R ATTORNEYS PAIENIEUJ L 3,147. 791
SHEEI 2 0F 2 INVENTOR.
JOHN R F0055 ATTOKNEVS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to an improved fluid dispenser, and more particularly, to a dispenser particularly adapted to infant nursing. In addition, the invention is directed to a method of manufacturing an infant nursing dispenser wherein the component parts may be readily maintained in a sterile condition during assembly.
In the prior art, various arrangements have been provided to nurse infants with artificial devices simulating, to some extent, a mothers breast. The most typical of these devices simply take the form of a rigid bottle having a nipple secured over the open end thereof. These devices are generally of the reusable type and require cleaning and refilling prior to each use. In these devices there is generally no provision to avoid the creation of a vacuum within the bottle as fluid is drawn therefrom by an infant. The absence of such provision is particularly detrimental, since the vacuum impedes the free flow of contents from the bottle and results in flatulence and the excessive ingestion of air by the infant.
In an effort to avoid the shortcomings of conventional nursing bottles such as that described above, various types of dispensing devices have been developed. These devices provide various arrangements to eliminate the creation of a vacuum therein during nursing and also, in many cases, provide disposable, prepackaged units which alleviate the need for cleaning and refilling. Some of these prior art devices incorporate seal arrangements which are internally confined within the nipple or associated structure which must be broken prior to nursing the infant. The mechanisms utilized to accomplish this are often complex thereby causing manufacturing difficulties. Quite often, actuation of these mechanisms requires direct finger contact of the nurser nipple by the operator, thereby opening the way to possible contamination thereof prior to use by the infant. A further defect of prior internal seal breaking mechanisms is that they break their associated seals in such a manner as to allow inadvertent cutoff of fluid flow by the seal material due to the fact that no means is provided to maintain the seal material out of the path of fluid flow once pressure is removed from the seal breaking mechanism, as by removal of the operators finger pressure.
In addition to the above noted difficulties which have hampered commercial acceptance of prior art dispensable, prepackaged nurser units, such units have occasionally incorporated collapsible portions which are relatively unprotected thus resulting in leakage and contamination prior to end use. In the event such units collapse at or near the bottoms thereof, as had been the case with some prior art arrangements, it is difficult to store them in an upright condition which is often desirable at both point of sale and in the home.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is, accordingly, a principal object of this invention to provide an infant nursing dispenser incorporating internal seal means which may be broken by the operator without contaminating the nipple portion thereof.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an infant nursing dispenser incorporating an arrangement for positively maintaining broken seal material out of the fluid flow path into the nipple during nursing to prevent clogging thereof.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide an infant nursing dispenser incorporating a collapsible fluid retaining wall and an inexpensive means whereby such wall is protected prior to and during dispenser use and which functions as a support for the dispenser for storage purposes.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a method of packaging a fluid foodstuff in an infant nursing dispenser in a quick, efficient and inexpensive manner.
DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS The above noted and other objects of this invention will be understood from the following description taken with reference to the drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view, in partial cross-section, of an assembled infant nursing dispenser constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.
FIGS. 2 and 3 are enlarged, cross-sectional, elevational views illustrating details of the infant nursing dispenser of the present invention in differing stages of the operation thereof.
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken on plane 4-4 of FIG. 3. I
FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the order in which selected elements of the infant nursing dispenser of FIG. 1 are assembled during manufacture.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view of an alternative form of infant nursing dispenser constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIG. 1, the dispenser incorporating the teachings of the present invention includes a container or body portion which is generally designated by means of reference 10. Body portion 10 comprises shell elements 12 and 14 sealingly secured together by flanges l6 and 18, respectively, thereon. The shell element 12 is completely closed, except for the open side thereof formed with the flange 16. The shell element 14 has an aperture or orifice 20 in the end thereof opposite the side formed with the flange 18. Thus, when the shell elements 12 and 14 are secured together, they define a container having only one aperture 20 opening thereinto. Through this aperture, as will become apparent subsequently, fluid can be both introduced and exhausted from the body portion 10. i
The shell elements 12 and are of such relative flexibilities that the element 12 is adapted to collapse into the element 14 when fluid is withdrawn from the container 10. Specifically, the element 12 is very flexible so that it will readily collapse upon the creation of a vacuum within the container, whereas the element 14 is quite rigid relative to the element 12. The materials from which the elements 12 and 14 are fabricated may take various forms without departing from the spirit of the invention. In a preferred form, both elements are constructed of laminated polypropylene having different degrees of rigidity. Examples of other materials from which the element 12 may be formed are: polyallomer'; coated aluminum foil; and :nylon polylaminate. Examples of other materials of which the element 14 may be satisfactorily fabricated are: polyallomer; steel foil, aluminum; or coated paper board. Depending on the materials used, various techniques may be employed for joining the flanges 16 and 18 in sealed relationship. For example, where one or both of the elements l2 and 14 are fabricated of a thermoplastic material, joining may be accomplished by employing sealing techniques of the following types: heat, thermo inpulse, radio frequency, or ultrasonic. Where the ele ments l2 and 14 are fabricated of very thin thermoplastic material, the utilization of techniques, such as ultrasonics, subjecting the elements to a minimum of heat has the advantage that flow of the material and weakening of the juncture is avoided. Spin welding may also be advantageously employed where the elements are formed of thermoplastic material.
Once the container has been formed and filled with fluid through the aperture 20, the aperture is closed by means of a seal cap 22. As may most readily be seen with reference to FIGS. 2 and 5, seal cap 22 includes a housing or cup element 24 which is closed at the bottom thereof. A first flange 26 is integrally connected to the housing 24 at the open end thereof so that the first flange 26 extends radially outwardly from the housing about the full periphery thereof. The upper surface of the first flange 26, as viewed in the drawings, along with the inner surface of integrally formed circular side wall 28 define a radially extending niche 30 which communicates with the interior of housing 24. The purpose of radial extending niche 30 will be brought out in greater detail below. Extending radially outwardly from the upper end of circular side wall 28 is a second flange 32. Second flange 32 is adapted to sealingly engage the upper surface of inwardly turned wall 34 of container 10, said inwardly turned wall defining orifice 20. The seal cap 22 is preferably of unitary, molded construction. A material which has been found suitable for use in fabrication of seal cap 22 is polypropylene. However, the seal cap may be formed of other readily rupturable material such as: nylon, Mylar, polyallomer, aluminum or steel foil, or polypropylene-coated paper. After the interior of container 10 has been cleaned as by means of high pressure steam and filled with desired foodstuff, seal cap 22 is secured in the illustrated position by being spin welded in place in a nitrogen atmosphere.
The next principal component to be secured into position is the piercing element 40 which includes a circular top wall 42 and a depending circular side wall 44 which is adapted to be snapped over and secured to the container neck portion 46 as by means of cooperating indents and detents formed on the neck portion and the piercing element circular side wall. Connected to circular side wall 42 and defining a central opening in the piercing element 40 is an inner circular side wall 48 which is adapted to be positioned against seal cap circular side wall 28 in the manner illustrated. A plurality of support elements 50 are connected to the bottom of inner circular side wall 48. As may be seen most clearly with reference to FIGS. 3 and 5, support elements 50 extend inwardly and then downwardly so that they are positioned adjacent to first flange 26 and housing 24 of seal cap 22. At their respective bottoms support elements 50 are integrally attached to a piercing element base member 52 which is adapted to seat upon the bottom horizontal wall of cup element or housing 24. Connected to the enlarged central portion of base member 52 are a plurality of upwardly extending piercing members 54. Piercing members 54 are of relatively thin construction at their points of connection with base member 52, gradually increasing in thickness as the piercing members proceed upwardly therefrom. At their respective upper ends piercing members 54 terminate in outwardly extending piercing points 56 which are adapted to be positioned on seal cap first flange 26 when piercing element 40 is positioned on container 10, FIG. 2
Piercing members 54 are staggered with respect to support elements 50 so that the piercing members are in registry with slots 58 defined by support elements 50. See, in particular, FIG. 5 in this regard. If desired, outwardly extending piercing points 56 may be frangibly interconnected to piercing element inner circular side wall 48 as by means of score lines. However, in the illustrated embodiment, the only point of interconnection of the piercing members 54 is at their respective lower ends to piercing element base member52. The piercing element 40 is preferably of molded one piece construction and may suitably be formed of high temperature polypropylene or glass-filled polypropylene.
After piercing element 40 has been snapped into position over container 10 and seal cap 22, a subassembly comprising an actuator element 60, a nipple 62, and a lock ring 64, is positioned over the piercing element 40. Lock ring 64 includes a top wall 66 and a circular side wall 68 depending downwardly therefrom. Projecting inwardly from side wall 68 at the bottom thereof is a locking rib 70 which extends all the way around the inner periphery of the side wall. A central aperture is formed in lock ring top wall 66 and the top wall is turned downwardly as at 72 to form a detent extending all the way about the aperture. Materials suitable for construction of the lock ring 64 are high temperature polypropylene or glass-filled polypolyene.
The nipple 62, which comprises an element of the abovementioned subassembly, includes a hollow body portion 74 and an annular flange 76. An annular groove 78 is formed in the body portion 74 to accomodate therein lock ring circular detent 72. The nipple 62 is constructed of sufficiently soft resilient material to permit deformation thereof as it is snapped into position with respect to lock ring 64. In a preferred embodiment, pure gum, non-toxic, heat resistant rubber may be utilized in the construction of a nipple; however, it is to be understood that other suitable materials may be utilized in the fabrication thereof, such as: ethylenevinyl-acetate, low density polyethylene, and latex. The nipple is perforated as at 82 in the usual manner.
A second annular groove 82 is formed in the bottom of the nipple flange 76. Second annular groove 82 accomodates therein a circular support plate 84 which comprises a portion of the third and final element of the subassembly, i.e., actuator element 60. The actuator element circular support plate 84 is positioned within second annular groove 82 after the nipple 62 has been positioned with respect to lock ring 64 with the three subassembly elements cooperating in an obvious manner to form a liquid-tight seal therebetween. A throughbore 86 is formed in support plate 84 with a plurality of downwardly extending columns 88 being secured to support plate 84 about the periphery of the throughbore in the manner illustrated. At their lowermost ends columns 88 are secured to an apertured ring 90 at spaced intervals so as to provide open spaces therebetween.
After the three element subassembly has been formed, the subassembly is placed into position over piercing element 40 in the manner illustrated in FIG. 2. To accomplish this locking rib 70 or lock ring 64 is snapped into position within a first cooperating annular groove 92 formed along the outer periphery of the piercing element. With the three element subassembly in such position, apertured ring 90 of actuator element 60 is in engagement with all of upwardly extending piercing members 54. At their respective points of engagement with ring 90 each of the piercing members 54 has a cammed surface formed thereon which corresponds to the configuration of the apertured ring 90 at that point. This cooperating shoulder or cam arrangement is important since it provides a positive means whereby inward movement of piercing members 54 due to any internal pressure which may be present within container or body portion is prevented. The ring 90, as well as the remainder of actuator element 60, is constructed of relatively rigid material such as high temperature polypropylene or glass-filled polypropylene.
After the three element subassembly comprising actua'tor element 60, nipple 62, and lock ring 64, has been positioned in the manner illustrated in FIG. 2, a flexible overwrap 94 of polypropylene film or the like is heat sealed or otherwise secured to container or body portion 10 about the periphery thereof so that nipple 62 and the structure associated therewith is protected from possible contamination from external sources. The respective elements of the present invention remain in the relative positions illustrated in FIG. 2 until dispensing of the foodstuff in the container 10 is desired.
With the present arrangement communication between the interior of nipple 62 and the interior of container 10 may be readily accomplished by the application of a downward pressure upon lock ring 64. Sufficient pressure in this direction results in the downward movement of the lock ring, the nipple 62 and the actuator element 60 so that these parts assume the respective positions illustrated in FIG. 3. Downward movement of locking rib 70 with respect to first cooperating annular groove 92 of the piercing element is facilitated by the cooperating downwardly cammed surfaces of the groove and locking rib. These downwardly cammed surfaces are designated by means of reference numberals 92a and 70a respectively. Downward movement of lock ring 64 continues until the locking rib 70 thereof enters into a second cooperating annular groove 96 formed on the piercing element 40. Once the locking rib has entered this second cooperating annular groove upward movement of the lock ring is prevented due to the cooperating shoulders formed at the top of locking rib 70 and that portion of piercing element 40 which protrudes outwardly to define the upper extent of second cooperating annular groove 96.
As previously stated, the downward movement of lock ring 64 causes a corresponding downward movement of actuator element 60. As the actuator element 60 proceeds downwardly apertured ring 90 thereof continually bears against piercing members 54 forcing the piercing points 56 thereof in a downwardly and outwardly direction until they assume the positions illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4. This movement of the piercing members 54 is restrained only by the seal cap 22 since the piercing members may freely move outwardly through the slots 58 formed in piercing element 40. In this manner, upon application of sufficient downward force on lock ring 64 the downward and outward movement of piercing members 54 causes the seal cap material to rupture thereby establishing communication between the interior of container 10 and nipple 62. Fluid flow out of the container and into the nipple may then be had as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 3 through the rupture formed within the seal cap 22, the open spaces between downwardly extending columns 88, and through the throughbore 86 formed in the actuator element 60.
Due to the fact that locking rib of lock ring 64 is maintained within second cooperating annular groove 96 of piercing element 40, the piercing members 54 will retain their respective positions illustrated in FIG. 3 by virtue of the fact that apertured ring 90 of the actuator element 60 is continually maintained in engagement therewith. This assures that the holes formed in seal cap 22 by the piercing members will remain relatively unobstructed by the ruptured seal cap material. The foodstuff contained within nipple 62 will then be free to flow outwardly through perforation 80 formed in the nipple. It should be noted from the foregoing description that the nipple 62 need not be contacted to break the seal cap. In this manner the sterile condition of the nipple is maintained until actual insertion into the infants mouth. If desired, downward movement of lock ring 64 may actually be occasioned by means of one or more of the operators fingers with the relatively thin overlap 94 remaining in position. Alternatively, however, the overwrap 94 may be removed prior to depression of the lock ring.
Referring now to FIG. 6 an alternative form of lock ring 64a and piercing element 40a are illustrated. In this arrangement, the lock ring and piercing element wall 44a are provided with cooperating screw threads 98 and 100, respectively. The lowermost portion of lock ring screw thread 98 is positioned in operative association with the upper portion of screw thread 100 until dispensing is desired. At that time, the lock ring 64a is rotated clockwise so that the cooperating threads cause the lock ring to assume a lower position with respect to piercing element wall 44a. This lowering movement causes the downward and outward movement of piercing members 54, as in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, by virtue of their interaction with the actuator element (not shown) disposed in operative relationship with lock ring 64a.
Returning once again to FIG. 1, a support means is provided in operative association with container 10 to enable the container to be stood in an upright condition as well as to provide some degree of protection for relatively thin walled shell element 12 which collapses upon removal of foodstuff from the interior of the container. The support means comprises a section of polyallomer coated paper board which has been shaped to form a circular side wall 102, turned inwardly at the bottom as at 104, and crimped at the upper extremity thereof around flanges l6 and 18 to provide a circular shoulder portion 106. In addition to providing support and protection for the container 10, the support means may accomodate suitable labels on the circular side wall 102 thereof to provide information regarding the product. The inwardly turned portion 104 provides a simple and inexpensive means whereby a desired degree of strength and rigidity may be imparted to the remainder of the support means.
From the foregoing detailed description, it is believed apparent that the present invention enables the attainment of the objects initially set forth herein. In addition, it is noted that the invention provides a nurser capable of heat sterilization after filling and assembly. This ability is provided, in part, by the provision of the piercing element 40 and the disposition which it assumes within the seal cap 22. Through this disposition the piercing element functions to maintain the seal cap in desired position against compression responsive to pressure within the container 10. Such pressure, necessarily results upon heating of the container during sterilization. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the details of the illustrated embodiments, but rather is defined by the accompanying claims.
I claim as my invention:
1. Apparatus for dispensing a prepared fluid foodstuff comprising, in combination:
a container defining an interior adapted to hold a fluid foodstuff and having a fluid outlet;
frangible seal means covering said fluid outlet in a fluid-tight manner, said means including a housing extending into said container; piercing means including a plurality of piercing members positioned within said housing, said members being hingedly connected to a common base member seated within said housing and each comprising an elongated body curved at the free end thereof in a direction radially outwardly of said base member and terminating in a point, and wherein said members are movable from a first position adjacent to said seal' means to a second position extending through said housing, said piercing members being adapted to rupture said frangible seal means when moving from said first position to said second position; a soft nipple secured to said container over said frangible seal means and defining an interior; and
means relatively movable with respect to said container and disposed at least partially externally of said nipple in operative association with said piercing means and adapted to move said piercing members from said first position to said second position whereby fluid communication is established between the interior of said container and the interior of said nipple.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said means relatively movable with respect to said container comprises an actuator element depending from said nipple and in communication with the interior of said nipple and a separate element disposed exteriorly of said nipple and adapted to secure said nipple to said container.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said separate element comprises a lock ring having a top wall having an aperture formed therein and a circular side wall depending from said top wall, said nipple extending through said aperture in sealed engagement with said top wall, and said lock ring side wall and said piercing means having cooperating interconnecting means formed thereon permitting relative movement therebetween.
4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said cooperating interconnecting means includes a locking rib on said lock ring side wail and a plurality of grooves formed in said piercing means selectively engageable by said locking rib whereby said lock ring may assume a plurality of positions with respect to said piercing means.
5. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said cooperating interconnecting means comprises a screw thread arrangement formed on said lock ring side wall and said piercing means. i
6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said means relatively movable with respect to said container includes an actuator element depending from said nipple and in communication with the interior of said nipple and a lock ring sealingly engaged around said nipple, said actuator element, said nipple, and said lock ring being adapted to move together with respect to said piercing means.
7. The apparatus according to claim 6 wherein said nipple has an annular groove formed in the interior wall thereof and wherein said actuator element comprises a support plate disposed within said annular groove and defining a throughbore, said actuator element further comprising a plurality of spaced columns depending from said support plate about said throughbore and a member connected to the free ends of said spaced columns and engageable with said plurality of piercing members.
8. The apparatus according to claim 7 wherein said piercing means includes a side wall disposed in communication with the exterior of said container, said side wall having two spaced annular grooves formed thereon, and wherein said lock ring includes a side wall having an inwardly extending rib formed thereon selectively engageable with each of said spaced annular grooves, said actuation member being adapted to move toward said piercing means base plate and urge the free pointed ends of said piercing members outwardly and downwardly through said housing when said rib cooperatively engages one of said annular grooves.
9. The apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said actuator member and said piercing members have cooperating cammed shoulder surfaces formed thereon which are in engagement when said piercing members are disposed within said housing to prevent inward movement of the piercing members under the influence of pressures exerted within the interior of said container.
10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said container comprises a first collapsible shell connected to a relatively rigid second shell by means of cooperating flanges on said shells, said second shell having the fluid outlet formed therein, a support member having a circular side wall having a top end and a bottom end disposed about said first shell, said top end being secured about said cooperating flanges and said bottom and being disposed below said first shell to support said container.
11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein said support member is constructed of polyallomer coated paperboard material.
12. Apparatus for confining and containing a fluid for thermal processing, storage and selective dispensing, said apparatus comprising:
a container defining an interior adapted to hold a fluid, said container having an opening therein;
a flexible, frangible seal covering said opening to hermetically seal said container, said seal having an area extending over said opening;
a piercing member extending over said seal, said contained therein.
13. Apparatus according to claim 12, wherein:
said seal is concave in the area thereof extending over said opening; and,
said piercing member comprises a cagelike portion extending into and in juxtaposition with the area of said seal extending over said opening and outwardly deflectable elements extensible through said area to effect the rupture of said area responsive to the application of selective external pressure to the piercing member.
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