US 3759371 A
Containers are disclosed for such small articles as pills that are to be removed and used one at a time. Each container has a bottom section provided with a plurality of article-receiving collapsible pockets and a cover section to overlie and close the pockets with its pocket-closing portion provided with score lines rupturable when an article is forced against it when a pocket is collapsed by digital pressure applied to the bottom thereof. The sections have portions that are interengageable to provide locks to hold them together so that the pockets and pocket-closing portion become pods and also prevent adjacent pockets from opening when a pod is ruptured.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent n91 Marks Sept. 18, 1973 1 CONTAINERS FOR SMALL ARTICLES SUCH AS PILLS  Inventor; Robert G. Marks, 256 East St.,
 Filed: July 12, I972  Appl. No.: 271,191
3,552,595 1/1971 Gerner et a1. 220/31 S X Primary Examiner-Samuel B. Rothberg Assistant Examiner-Steven E. Lipman Attorney-Abbott Spear  ABSTRACT Containers are disclosed for such small articles as pills that are to be removed and used one at a time. Each container has a bottom section provided with a plurality of article-receiving collapsible pockets and a cover section to overlie and close the pockets with its pocketclosing portion provided with score lines rupturable when an article is forced against it when a pocket is collapsed by digital pressure applied to the bottom thereof. The sections have portions that are interengageable to provide locks to holdl them together so that the pockets and pocket'closing portion become pods and also prevent adjacent pockets from opening when a pod is ruptured.
12 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures 2 Sheets-Sheet l O O O O O O O O QC) Patented Sept. 18, 1973 0 030 0 0 0 O 0 0g 2 9" CERES 0 2 i O O O C 0260C) G g 0 0 o o G QQ Q L 1 Q 0 O OVO O 24 20 0 0 $0 (Q0 Q0 G O C O O O 0 0 0 0 6 Q 6 Patented Sept. 18, 1973 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 CONTAINERS FOR SMALL ARTICLES SUCH AS PILLS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It is often desirable that articles be so packaged that they may be seenand desired units, usually but not necessarily a single article, removed without releasing other units. Various types of containers have been proposed for this purpose but none is well suited for uses best illustrated by the dispensing of pills by prescription by a pharmacist either for a single patient or for a group of hospitalized patients.
Purchase of pills at a drug store requires simply the placing of the correct number of the prescribed drug in a suitable container properly labeled as to dosage, etc. In a hospital, however, the problem issomewhat different as pills aqe prepared for administration to a patient and ht is important both to make a rdcord of the particular drug pqescribed and also to emable an inventory of the supoly for that patient to be easily [nd quickly made without risk of contamination as by a nurse when coming on or going off duty. In addition, it isdesirable to have a basis for determining the number of pills actu- In accordance with the invention, containers are provided that are not only well adapted to meet various requirements in the dispensing and use of pills but also are suitable for the packaging of 23 small articles that are desirably removed, one at a time, without opening the cover. The containers can be either hand-filled or machine filled.
, A container in accordance with the invention is molded from suitable plastic stock with a bottom section and a cover section preferably but not necessarily joined together by anintegralhinge and the plastic, at least in the cover section, is sufiiciently transparent so that the packaged articles may be seen therethrough. The bottom section is provided with a plurality of article-receiving pockets each with its wall structure such that is maybe collapsed by pressure digitally applied to the bottom thereof.
Each portion of the cover that is to overlie a pocket when the container is closed has score lines arranged to rupture when thearticle is pressed against it with sufficient, force and the sections have complemental, interengageable portions that when pressed together establish locks to hold the sections securely together with the pockets and the cover portions seated thereon constituting article-containing pods, there being a sufficient number of such locks as to enable one pod to be opened by rupturing its cover portion without any adjacent cover portion being released to permit the escape of an article from the subjacent pocket. When a pill is made available by rupturing its pod, it may be dischargedwithout handling directly the usual paper cup or other sterile holder.
Desirably, particularly when the packaged articles are pills, the free margins of the sections are formed with complemental, engageable portions that, when the sections are closed together, provide a seal.
It is preferred that the article-receiving pockets be so arranged that, with such usual numbers as 25, 50, or 100, there be space provided for an insert that gives information as to the articles, in the case of pills, their identification and prescribed use, for examples.
SHORT DESCRIPTION OF-THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings. a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown of which FIG. I is atop plan view of the closed container;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the container when opened;
FIG. 3 is a section taken approximately along the indicated line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a section, on a substantial increase in scale, taken vertically through one of the pods;
FIG. 5 is a like view but indicating the initial rupturing thereof;
FIG. 6 is a like'view showing the next stage of the rupture; I
FIG. 7 is another like view but with the rupture completed to permit the contained article to be expelled;
FIG. 8 is a section on a substantial increase in scale taken vertically through the male and female members of one of the locks showing them as they would be when the container is being closed;
FIG. 9 is a like view but with the locking members mated;
FIG. 10 is a section, also on a substantial increase in scale, taken transversely of the baffle;
FIG. I is an enlarged plan view of one of the pocketclosing portions of the cover section; and
FIG. I2 is a like view of another arrangement thereof.
THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION rows of pockets 23. The container shown in the drawings is designed to receive one hundred pills 24, one pocket for each pill. With four adjacent rows containing 10 pockets and five rows containing 12 pockets, a space 25 is provided in .both sections that may be slighlty recessed to accommodate an insert 26, a card bearing the names of patients for whom the medication is indicated, the description of the contained pills,'dating, dosages, and the like.
Each pocket 23, as may best be seen in FIGS. 4 7, has a flat bottom 23A and sidewalls 233 whose thickncss decreases towards the bottom 23A and with the bottom 23A substantially thinner than the thickness of the section 20 marginally thereof. The bottom of such a pocket may be easily pushed in and the pocket partially crushed or collapsed while its side wall adjacent its mouth resists such crushing and adds stiffness to the bottom section. The depth of the pockets 23 is so related to the thickness of the pills 24 that such collapsing causes the contained pills 24 to protrude therefrom.
The section 20 when folded over against the section 21 becomes the bottom section and closes each pocket 23 and, to ensure such closing, the sections arefsecured together adjacent each pocket 23 by locks, generally indicated at 27. The locks 27 extend marginally of the sections from one end of the hinge 22 to the other end thereof and between the pockets 23 in a manner such that each pocket, except those in the row adjacent the hinge 22, is within-a square defined by four locks 27. In containers where the hinge does not hold the cover section against the pockets adjacent thereto, the sections may be provided with a row of locks between the hinge and the proximate row of pockets as would also be necessary with a container consisting of separate, unhinged bottom and cover sections.
As may best be seen in FIGS. 8 and 9, each lock 27 consists of complemental male and female socket-like members 28 and 29, respectively, the male member 28 shown as formed in and protruding from the bottom section 20 and the female member 29 formed in the cover section 21. It will be noted that each male member 28 has its closed end 28A of greater diameter than the open end of the associated female member 29 and approximately of the same diameter as the closed end 29A of that female member. It will also be noted that the inner surface of the side walls 288 of the male members are cylindrical while their outer surface is inwardly inclined towards their inner, open ends to provide a minimum wall thickness in and adjacent their annular junction 28C with the adjacent portions of the cover section'21. The side walls 298 of the female members 29 are complementa'l to those of the malemembers 28 with their outer surfaces cylindrical and their inner surfaces inclined outwardly towards the bottom wall 29A, so that its thickness decreases to the minimum in the bottom wall 29A. The female members are relatively rigidadjacent their open ends and their thinnerclosed ends are sufficiently yield-able to accommodate the enlarged closed end or head of the male members 28.
The changein the wall'thicknesses of the lock mem bers 28 and 29 is effected by chilling the molds for the locking members to freeze the plastic where it is desired to prevent stretching-and thinning as the coacting forming molds are brought together. With the construction of the'lock members, the female lock member able portions. 7
it will also be noted that the margins of the sections are provided with acontinuous seal, generally indicated at 30, when the'container is closed. If the containeris formedof separate, unhinged sections, the seal members are snapped together to bring and hold portions of the cover section 21 against the mouths of the pockets 23 thereby to establish pill holding pods.
In order that the pills 24 may be dispensed without releasing the lacks 27, each such portion of the cover section 21 that overlies a pocket 23 is ruptured by pressing against the bottom of a pocket while holding the cover section 21 marginally thereof so that a pill 24 is forced against the overlying portion of the cover section. In order that the thus Pressed pills 24 may easily rupture that portion of their pods, each overlying cover portion is formed with score lines shown as including four radial lines 33, arranged in the form of an X with each line 33 interrupted as at 33A, the length of the interruptions being desirably about equal to the thickness of the material. The inner ends of the score lines 31 are separated by a central dot-sized web 34 and their outer ends terminate in arcuate portions 35 overlying the periphery of the pockets 23. The pressure of a pill 24 against the covering portion of its pod first breaks the overlying cover section at the intersection of its radial score lines 33, see FIG. 5, after overcoming the resistance of the central web 34 which functions to prevent accidental openingif the container is flexed. The tears progress with the interruptions 33A serving as control points to make sure that the tear is occurring along all four lines 33. Thereafter, the tears continue and extend along the terminal portions until the sectors are so weakened as to become yieldable flaps, see FIGS. 6 and 7, thereby changing the direction of the tear and decrease the chord length to provide a suitable hinge base. it is preferred that thescore lines be oriented relative to the locks 27 as shown in FIG. 11 to minimize the possibility of a tear continuing to release a look. In
extends entirely about its margins. The seal 30 is shown, seeFlG. 10, as consisting of an upwardly'opening channel'3l extending marginally of the bottom section 20 from one end of the hinge 22 to the'other end thereof and the topcover section 21 hasa marginal, channeLentering flange or baffle 32 that is desirably tapered to.a thin flexible edge and is dimensioned to seat against the bottom'of thechannel 31 and be flexed by such engagement to provide an effective seal.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that, with the container open, the pharmacist may easily place a pill 24 in each pocket 23 without the necessity of counting them. An insert 26, hearing the required data is then the dispensing of each pill 24, the cover section is held tightly against adjacent pockets 23 since the adjacent locks are not affected and the number of remaining pills is easily determined as a check on the proper administration.
- It is preferred that the score line be formed with a heated die with the material backed by a hard surface having heat insulating qualities, Masonite, for one example, with the temperature so controlled that the material will soften but not melt. With the sheet materials in thicknesses between Sand 10 mils satisfactory pod opening is attained if the score lines penetrate to within 0.002 to0.003 inches of the bottom. surface of the cover section 21.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that containers in accordance with the inventionare well adapted for use in dispensing pills or other articles from separate pockets and the'term article as used herein is meant to include a plurality thereof if all are to be used at the same time. i
1. A molded container of flexible plastic comprising abottom section anda cover section, said cover section includ-ing a plurality of article receiving pockets each of a wall structure enabling it to be collapsed by digitally applied pressure to the bottom thereof, said sections also including complemental interengageable male and female locking members distributed throughout the sections to be operable when inter-engaged to hold the cover section closed with reference to each pocket, each section also including interengageable portions extending continuously about the periphery thereof to provide a marginal seal when the container is closed, each of the portions of the bottom section that closes a pocket defining therewith an articlecontaining pod and having score lines that rutpure to open the pod when a contained article is forced against that underlying portion by said pressure, said score lines of each pod-containing portion of the cover section radiating from the center thereof to a point close to the boundary of that portion and also including transversely extending terminal portions.
2. The container of claim 1 in which a hinge integrally connects said sections and the continuous peripheral interengageable portions extend from one end of the hinge to the other end thereof.
3. The container of claim 1 in which one portion of said continuous peripheral interengageable portions is a channel and the other portion is a channel-entering flange dimensioned to engage with the bottom of the channel and suf-ficiently thin to be flexed by such engagement.
4. The container of claim 1 in which there is a small central web separating the inner ends of the radial score lines. I
5. The container of claim 4 in which each radial line is interrupted with the length of the interruption being approximately equal to the thickness of the podcontaining portion.
6. The container of claim Sin which the terminal portions are arcuatc.
7. The container of claim 5 in which each podcontaining portion includes four equally spaced radial score lines.
8. The container of claim 1 in which the terminal portions of each radial score line terminate short of the other terminal portions. 7 9. The container of claim 1 in which there are a plurality of locks adjacent each pocket with the radial score lines being disposed out of alignment with the adjacent locks.
10. The container of claim 1 in which the bottom of each pocket is flat and is substantially thinner than the side wall thereof adjacent its open end.
11. The molded container of claim I in which the male and female locking members are tubular sockets, the outer surface of the side wall of the male members tapering inwardly towards their open ends and the inner surfaces of the side walls of the female locking members tapering outwardly towards their closed ends.
12. The molded container of claim 11 in which the male members are in the bottom section and the female members are in the cover section.