US 3805786 A
The combination in which an absorbent tampon in compressed self-sustaining form and having a detachable inserter rod seated in its base is frictionally engaged with an outer inserter tube having a tapered insertion-aiding forward end. The tampon is of substantially uniform diameter which is not greater than the inner diameter of the tube, except for the presence of at least one small protuberance on its circumference. The protuberance is of sufficient magnitude to provide the tampon body at the point of the protuberance with a diameter slightly greater than the inner diameter of the tube, and is adapted to provide sufficient frictional resistance to prevent disassociation of the tampon and the tube during shipping and handling while permitting easy ejection and radial orientation when the combination is used for tampon insertion.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 11 1 Bernardin et al.
11] 3,805,786 1451 Apr. 23, 1974 1 TAMPON APPLICATOR COMBINATION  Inventors: Leo J. Bernardin; Michael D. Radl,
both of Appleton, Wis.
, Assignee: Kimberly-Clark Corporation,
22 Filed: Mar. 28, 1973 21 App]. No.2 345,572
Primary Examiner-Aldrich F. Medbery Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Daniel J. Hanlon, .lr.; William D. Herrick; Raymond J. Miller 5 7] ABSTRACT The combination in which an absorbent tampon in compressed self-sustaining form and having a detachable inserter rod seated in its base is frictionally engaged with an outer inserter tube having a tapered insertion-aiding forward end. The tampon is of substantially uniform diameter which is not greater than the inner diameter of the tube, except for the presence of at least one small protuberance on its circumference. The protuberance is of sufficient magnitude to provide the tampon body at the point of the protuberance with a diameter slightly greater than the inner diameter of the tube, and is adapted to provide sufficient frictional resistance to prevent disassociation of the tampon and the tube during shipping and handling while permitting easy ejection and radial orientation when the combination is used for tampon insertion.
8 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION One of the catamenial tampon products presently on the market comprises an absorbent pledget compressed to form a self-sustaining round-nosed tampon with a withdrawal string attached near its trailing end, and having a socket in its base in which an inserter rod is detachably seated. A more detailed description of such a tampon may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 3,068,867 to Bletzinger et al. dated Dec. 18, 1962.
This tampon-inserter rod combination is normally enclosed in a protective wrapper comprising a sleeve of lightweight paper closed on both ends, which wrapper is removed to uncover the tampon in preparation for insertion. Since this arrangement requires that the protective wrapper be removed to expose the absorbent surface of the tampon before insertion, it follows that at least the leading portion of the tampons absorbent surface must necessarily contact moist body tissue as it is being inserted into a body orifice. While the removable wrapper preserves the hygienic aspects of the tampon up until the time the tampon is ready for insertion, and while there are noreal objections to the abovedescribed contact of the absorbent surface with body tissue during insertion, it would be more desirable if a way could be devised to prevent such contact to permit easier insertion while at the same time affording some type of cover to protect the tampon from inadvertent contamination while being prepared for insertion, and in addition which would remain in place until after insertion is essentially completed. Tampon insertion devices comprised of a pair of telescoping tubes already serve this latter purpose, of course, since in these devices the tampon-containing tube element is normally inserted into the body cavity by the user before the tampon is ejected. However, tampons which employ an inserter rod or stick offer better placement control and for that reason are preferred by many, users, even though the protective cover must first be removed.
In U.S. Pat. No. 3,674,026, Werner et al., there is described the combination of a tampon with an inserter stick detachably seated in its base disposed in. an outer tube provided with a tapered forward end to aid insertion. The combination set forth in that patent entails a number of variations of snap-in, pressure-fit, or hingedly-attached cap which functions as a closure, guide, and lock for the insertion stick and which cap fits (into the trailing end of the tapered-tip applicator tube. As further set forth in that patent, this is considered to be a desirable arrangement because, in addition to the protective cover and easier insertion provided by the tube, the stick provides better placement control than a tube type applicator in which the ejector is merely another tube telescoped within the outer tube.
However, the arrangement described in the Werner et al. patent is admittedly rather complicated and requires the careful fitting together of several component parts. It would be much more desirable if the advantages of inserter-rod and tube type applicators could be combined in simpler fashion.
It is the object of this invention to provide an insertion device which does combine the inserter-rod tampon and a tapered-end inserter tube in a simple but effective fashion.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTlON In accordance with this invention, a tapered or round-nosed, absorbent tampon compressed to selfsustaining form and having an inserter rod detachably seated in a socket provided at the base of the tampon, is disposed within a protective tube comprising a cylindrical member having a substantially closed, tapered forward end structure adapted to open automatically when the leading end of the tampon is urged against the forward closed end of the tube during the ejection step by the user.
The tampon is of substantially uniform diameter which diameter may be slightly less but no greater than the inner diameter of the tube. The tampon is temporarily held in place in the tube by frictional means pro vided by at least one protuberance disposed on the circumference of the tampon. This protuberance provides the tampon at the point of the protuberance with a diameter slightly larger than the inner diameter of the tube. The protuberance is preferably provided by shaping the fibrous tampon body during compression. Al-
ternatively when the withdrawal string is added after compression the protuberance may be formed by a needle punch used to thread the withdrawal string through the trailing end of the tampon. The protuberance is best located near the trailing end of the tampon, but other locations may also be used. In any event, it is preferred that the protuberance be disposed in the rear half of the tampon length. One protuberance is all that is required, but it may be desired to employa multiplicity of such protuberances. The function of the protuberance is to prevent disassociation of the tampon and tube during shipment and handling while permitting sliding movement of the tampon in the tube when suitably manipulated by the user Typical outer tube structures with tapered forward ends ofa type suitable for use in this invention may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 3,204,635 to Voss et al. dated Sept. 7, 1965, and in U.S. Pat. No. 3,433,225 to Voss et al. dated Mar. 18, 1969. The former patent describes a paperboard tube in which abutting dovetail folds form the tapered substantially closed forward end. The latter patent describes a flexible plastic tube in which the substantially closed tapered front end is comprised of multiple adjoining petal-like segments which flex open easily when the tampon is pressed therethrough. Either of these style tubes, or other suitable tapered front end structures, may be used as the tube element in this invention.
The above features and other advantages of the in-.
vention will become more apparent by referring to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 4 is a section similar to FIG. 3 but illustrates the tampon only, showing two diametrically opposed protuberances.
FIG. 5 is a section similar to FIG. 4 but showing three circumferentially spaced circumferential protuberances.
FIG. 6 is a longitudinal section of still another tampon embodying the invention and showing in greatly exaggerated style how insertion of the withdrawal string after compression forms a functional protuberance.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS A preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 1 through 3 of the drawings. As shown, therein, the invention comprises a tampon-enclosing tube 12, a compressed tampon body 14 disposed therein and an inserter stick l6 detachably disposed in axial cavity 18 in the base of tampon 14.
The forward end of tube 12 is tapered to a substantially closed leading end 13 of small diameter which permits easier insertion. In the embodiment shown in the drawings, the tapered tube tip comprises multiple flexible segments 15 which open outward readily when tampon 14 is ejected longitudinally therethrough. Tampon 14 preferably has a rounded or tapered leading end 17 and is provided with the usual withdrawal string 28 at its trailing end. Detachably seated stick 16 is preferably mated with cavity 18 in the base of the tampon in a manner to prevent relative rotation between stick l6 and tampon 14 by using a flattened cavity 18, as shown in FIG. 3, and a conforming flat stick structure. Stick 16 is also preferably provided with a flattened trailing end 19 or the like which operates as tactile or visual means for rotative tampon placement as described in detail in the aforementioned US. Pat. No. 3,068,867. Other directional placement indicators may be used.
The outer circumference of the trailing end of tube 12, is also usually provided with a raised collar 20 or other suitable finger gripping means. The tube is preferably made of flexible plastic such as polethylene, polypropylene or the like, but suitably formed paper tubes may also be used as indicated earlier.
Tampon 14 is preferably of uniform diameter substantially throughout its length. This tampon diameter is preferably slightly less than, but not more than, the inner diameter of tube 12, which may also have a slight forward taper or longitudinal ribs. 7
The important part of this invention is the provision of at least one knob-like protuberance near the trailing end of the tampon, which protuberance is an integral part of the tampon structure. The protuberance 25 gives an effective diameter to the tampon at a section taken coincident with the protuberance, which diameter is slightly larger than the inner diameter of the tube. When properly selected, protuberance 25 provides a frictional resistance between tampon 14 and tube 12 which does not permit the tube 12 to fall away from the tampon 14 during normal handling. In other words, the tampon and tube remain physically, but temporarily, associated as the result of the frictional resistance provided at the protuberance. At the same time the tampon may be radially adjusted or rotated within the tube by the user with a minimum of effort and may also be ejected through the front end of the tube with minimum effort.
In one example of a preferred embodiment, the uniform outer diameter of the tampon 14 was 0.5 inch and inner diameter of the tube 12 was 0.56 inch. The protuberance 25 added approximately 0.1 inch to the diameter of the tampon so that its effective diameter at that location was about 0.6 inch, or 0.04 inch greater than the inner diameter of the tube.
With this construction, and with the tampon in place inside the tube, it was possible to grasp the combination by stick 16 and give the combination several vigorous downward shakes without dislodging the tube from the tampon. It was also possible to grasp the stick 16 at flattened portion 19 and rotate the tampon within the tube without difficulty. In addition when the tube was grasped at collar 20 with the thumb and third finger and longitudinal force was applied on stick 16 with the index finger, it was possible to easily eject the tampon 12 through flexible petals 15.
The tampon could be easily ejected from the tube in the same manner after insertion, and the tube could then be removed while keeping the stick in place, permitting rotational adjustment by the user after such tube removal, if desired.
Thus, with this simplified structure, one is able to combine the advantages of an outer protective tube having a tapered substantially closed end, with the advantages of a stick tampon which permits rotative placement both during and after insertion. In other embodiments shown in the drawings, FIG. 4 illustrates in sectional view, a tampon 14b having a pair of diametrically opposed protuberances 25b and 26b which provide frictional resistance similar to that described for single protuberance 25.
In FIG. 5, three circumferentially spaced protuberances 25c, 26c and 270 provide similar functions.
While a number of protuberances may be provided, a single protuberance is preferred because of its simplicity and yet effective function. The single protuberance also permits greater variations in dimensions of tube and tampon without disturbing the intended function. It also allows for greater expansion of the tampon due to humidity or other climatic effects without hampering slidability. The tube also has more free area-and may be distorted to a larger extent without binding.
In still another embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the string threading operation may be used to advantage in forming the protuberance. As illustrated therein compressed tampon body 14d is shown in the form it takes when string 28d is attached to the tampon after compression. In such an operation a needle is used to carry the string through the tampon by punching it therethrough. In so doing, because of the normal resistance of a fibrous body to penetration by even a sharp pointed needle, a protuberance 25d is formed at the spot of exit by the needle. In the past, when this type of string attachment was used in the stick tampon, the resulting bulge was considered undesirable and was ironed out by subsequent operation to provide the tampon with an overall uniform diameter. However, by controlling the height of the bulge, it has now been found possible to turn this former defect into an advantage by using the protuberance structure as described herein.
It will be noted that in the above discussion all of the described embodiments refer to the employment of one or more discrete protuberances to provide the frictional resistance characteristic. A continuous circumferential bulge or raised portion would also provide frictional resistance but if such were used, would require such close control of dimensions and tolerances to prevent binding between tampon and tube that it would not be economically feasible in high speed production. In addition, such structure does not permit reasonable distortion of the tube to take place in order to accommodate variations in fiber expansion and still permit easy expulsion. Accordingly, a continuous circumferential bulge is not considered to be a useful embodiment of this invention.
What is claimed is:
1. In the combination of an absorbent tampon compressed to self-sustaining cylindrical form and having one end of an insertion stick detachably seated in an axial cavity at the base thereof with an insertion-aiding tube having a substantially closed tapered front end adapted to open outwardly when said tampon is ejected therethrough; the structure wherein said tampon is of substantially uniform overall diameter which diameter is no greater than the inner diameter of said tube; wherein said tampon has at least one knob-like protuberance on the circumference thereof at which protuberance the transverse dimension is greater than the inner diameter of said tube; and wherein said protuberance is adapted to cooperate with the inner wall of said tube to provide sufficient frictional resistance to prevent disassociation of said tampon and said tube while permitting sliding movement of said tampon within said tube when suitable forces are exerted on the free end of said insertion stick to rotate said tampon within said tube or longitudinally eject said tampon from said tube.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein the overall diameter of the tampon is slightly less than the inner diameter of the tube.
3. The combination of claim 1 wherein the tampon has a multiplicity of said protuberances spaced around its circumference.
4. The combination of claim 3 wherein the tampon has two diametrically opposed protuberances.
5. The combination of claim 3 wherein the tampon has three circumferentially spaced protuberances.
6. The combination of claim 1 wherein said tube is comprised of flexible plastic.
7. The combination of claim 6 wherein said tube is comprised of polyethylene.
8. The combination of claim 1 wherein said tube is comprised of paperboard.