US 3848776 A
A disposable reservoir for water-coolers, or similar liquid dispensers, comprising a package preferably consisting of a bag, box and valve with operating float assembly, the valve and operating float being of such a nature that when the package is mounted on a water-cooler or the like as its reservoir, the valve opens automatically to supply water into the well of the cooler and is closed by the float, which is positioned in the well, whenever necessary, to maintain a predetermined level of water in the well.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
PATENIEL MIN 1 9 I974 SHEET 1 BF 7 PATENTELHSV I 9l974 76 SHEET 30F 7 PATENIE NOV 1 9 I974 848.776 sum 5 or 7 DISPOSABLE RESERVOIR PACKAGE FOR LIQUID-DISPENSER HAVING VALVE AND OPERATING FLOAT This invention will be described with reference to the reservoirs for water-coolers but it is to be understood that the reservoir can be used on various liquiddispensing devices which require periodic replacement of the emptied reservoir with a filled one.
As is well-known, water-dispensers or coolers now in use have a cabinet designed to receive a replaceable water-supply receptacle or reservoir at the upper end thereof to gravity-feed into a well from which the water is withdrawn by a spigot orfaucet. The most commonly used reservoir is a large heavy glass returnable bottle which has the well-recognized disadvantages of being unwieldly, difficult to transport filled and empty, requiring sterilization before filling, sealing after filling, etc. For these reasons it has been proposed in recent years to replace the glass bottles with disposable-type packages consisting of a fibre-box enclosing a waterfilled plastic bag. However, because of the fact that the bag is flexible and will collapse under atmospheric pressure as water is withdrawn therefrom, as compared to the rigid glass bottle which resists that pressure, it has been necessary to modify the water-cooler itself to provide controlled-flow from the bag into the receiving well on the water-cooler. These modifications of the water-cooler have ordinarily consisted of complicated valve arrangements, sometimes float-operated, which are expensive as original equipment or added attachments on the water-cooler, diflicult to maintain, unsanitary, etc. Some water dispensers also include heating means and attempts have been made to use flexible bags for the reservoir thereof, the bag being so mounted that it is sealed to the well. However this arrangement has not been practicable because steam from the well must be vented into the bag and, even if the seal can be maintained, this is not desirable. Therefore, disposable-type packages have not met with much success with the result that the heavy bottle type reservoirs are still in almost universal use.
The present invention provides a simple complete disposable package assembly which can serve as the reservoir for water-coolers or similar liquid-dispensing units. The package preferably is in the form of a bag and box which is relatively inexpensive so that it is economical to use it once and then discard it. The bag is preferably plastic and the box is preferably fibreboard. An important feature of the invention is that the package assembly itself includes a valve with an operating float which controls flow of water from the bag into the well of the water-cooler, from which it is allowed to flow under control of the spigot. This valve and cooperating float is preferably of plastic, of a very simple nature, which opens by gravity and is automatically closed to maintain the desired level of water in the well by means of a simple float attached thereto, which may also be of plastic. No structural modification of the water cooler itself will be necessary and it will not be necessary to provide expensive and hard-to-maintain valve attachments on the cooler since the control valve and cooperating float is part of the package assembly and is disposable therewith.
The best mode contemplated in carrying out this invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing one form of a disposable package assembly mounted on a watercooler to serve as the reservoir thereof.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the end portion of a water-filled package assembly as supplied for use as a reservoir on the water cooler.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary top plan view of the end of the filled package assembly showing the opening-producing tear-out sections.
FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the package assembly with the covered valve in the bag pulled up through the opening in the end of the box created by tearing out the sections thereof.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view of the end of the box of FIG. 5 but with the protective cover and float removed from the valve.
FIG. 7 is a flat view of the blank used in forming the box.
FIG. 8 is an enlarged sectional view taken on line 8-8 of FIG 1 showing the disposable package assembly of FIGS. 5 and 6 inverted with the float attached and mounted on the water cooler.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of the valve with float attached showing it in the position it occupies on the water cooler.
FIG. 10 is a horizontal sectional view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 9.
FIG. 1 1 is a vertical sectionalview through the upper end portion of the package before it is opened and mounted on the water cooler.
FIG. 12 is a horizontal sectional view taken along line 12-12 of FIG. 8.
FIG. 13 is a similar view showing tear-out sections in one end of the box for producing an opening therein of a different shape.
FIG. 14 is an enlarged axial sectional view similar to FIG. 9 but showing another form of valve and attached float.
FIG. 15 is a horizontal sectional view taken along line 15-15 of FIG. 14.
FIG. 16 is a view similar to FIG. 14 but showing a different form of valve and attached float.
FIG. 17 is a horizontal sectional view taken along line 17-17 of FIG. 16.
FIG. 18 is a sectional view showing a different type of float which could be substituted for the float of FIG. 16.
FIG. 19 is a similar view which shows still another type of float.
FIG. 20 is a view similar to FIG. 16, showing the float detached and a cover applied.
FIG. 21 is a similar view with a different float which also serves as a cover.
FIG. 22 is a similar view showing a float which can be reversed as a cover.
With reference to the drawings, in FIG. 1 there is shown a bag and box disposable package assembly 20 which is removably mounted on the upper end of a water cooler 25 of a common type and provides a disposable reservoir for the cooler. As indicated, this package assembly is not limited to use on this particular type of water dispenser but may be used on various liquid-dispensing units. The water cooler shown includes the cabinet 21 which has a flat upper end 22 and the package assembly 20 is supported on this flat upper end preferably by means of an adapter support member 23.
The package assembly 20 preferably includes the box 30, the bag 31, and the valve 32, as indicated in FIGS. 2 to 6, and 8 to 11. The bag and box shown are generally similar to these commonly in use for packaging liquids and similar to the assembly shown in US. Pat. No. 3,173,579 dated Mar. 16, 1965. However, the valve 32 is completely different in structure and operation and the box is designed with an end which has a removable section through which the valve can be pulled before the package is mounted on the water cooler 25. Also, the box is provided with means which cooperates with the adapter 23 to lock it in dispensing position on the water cooler.
The box 30 can be made from the blank 30a shown in FIG. 7. This blank is preferably made from a single flat sheet of material generally referred to as fiberboard and which may be corrugated board, paperboard or the like. The sheet is properly scored and slit to provide the joined side wall panels 41, 42, 43 and 44 with a connector flap 45 joined to the outer free edge of the panel 44, this flap overlapping the outer free edge of the panel 41 and being secured thereto when the box is set up. At the one edge of the blank the outwardly extending end closure flaps 41a, 42a, 43a and 44a are formed by scoring and slitting the blank and are hinged to the respective panels 41, 42, 43 and 44. At the other edge of the blank the outwardly extending end closure flaps 41b, 42b, 43b and 44b are formed and are hinged to the respective panels. The panel 41 has therein, adjacent the flap 41a, a hinged tab 41c which is produced by a U- shaped slit and a hinge score line so that it can be pushed inwardly to provide a locking slot when the box is mounted on the water cooler. The panel 43 has a similar tab 430 formed therein. The flaps 41a and 43a have formed in their respective outer edges the arcuate notches 41d and 43d. The flaps 42a and 44a have formed in their respective outer edges the tear-out sections 42d and 44d. The section 42a is provided by parallel slits 46 extending inwardly from the flap edge and a joining arcuate perforated portion 47. At the inner extremity of the are 47 is a tab 48 provided by a U- shaped slit and an inner perforated line 48a. The section 44d is provided by the parallel slits 49 extending inwardly from the flap edge, the opposed inwardly extending perforated lines 51 and a tab 50 provided by a U-shaped slit and an inner perforated line 50a.
When the blank is setup as indicated in FIGS. 2 to 11, the one end will be formed by cooperation of the flaps 41a, 42a, 43a and 44a. The flaps 41a and 43a will be the inner flaps and will extend inwardly with their edges meeting. The notches 41d and 43d will meet forming a continuous opening. The flaps 42a and 44a will extend inwardly in overlapping relationship to the flaps 41a and 43a with their inner edges meeting and at these edges the tear-out sections 42d and 44d will align (FIG. 2). The sections 42d and 44d may be torn out by tearing from the inner edges of the respective flaps, to the respective lines 48a and 50a where the final tearing permits complete removal of the sections 42d and 44d.
The bag 31 which is to be enclosed within the box preferably is of plastic, as indicated in said patent, for example polyethylene. It is indicated in FIG. 6, 8 and 11 as being provided with a neck 55 at one end which may be used both for filling and dispensing. The valve 32 is adapted to be mounted on the neck 55 by a sealing snap fit, in the example shown, although it could be formed as-a part thereof. It will be noted best from FIGS. 8 and 11 that the neck has an outer edge 56 and an adjacent exterior locking groove 57. The neck 55 is also provided with an inner peripheral shoulder 54 and an outer peripheral flange 58 spaced axially therefrom to provide an outwardly opening locking groove. The bag 31 is filled with water either through the neck 55 or the valve 32 mounted thereon. The valve may be on the neck of the bag when supplied and be removed for filling or, as indicated, may be formed in the neck and the filling occur through it. At this time the box will have its one or lower end closed by the overlapping closure flaps 41b, 42b, 43b and 44b and its opposite or upper end open with the closure flaps 41a, 42a, 43a and 44a extending outwardly. The bag is usually inserted in the box before filling and, when filled, will rest on the closed bottom thereof. The valve 32 will receive a combination cover and float 32a as indicated in FIG. 1 1. The box can then be closed by folding the flaps 41a, 42a, 43a and 44a inwardly into superimposed relationship as indicated in FIGS. 2 to 4. In FIGS. 2 to 6 and 11 the box is shown in such a position that the valve 32 will be at the top, since the bag 31 will be in the position it is in for filling, shipping or storage of the package assembly. However, for dispensing, the package is inverted to position the valve downwardly in dependent position, as indicated in FIGS. 1, 8, 9 and 11 and the details of this valve will be described with reference to these figures.
The valve 32 includes a flanged cap portion 59, which is used in mounting the valve on the neck 55, and which includes an internal axially extending sealing flange 60 and an external axially locking flange 61. The two flanges are concentric and provide an axially inwardly opening annular slot for receiving the outer lip 56 on the neck 55. The internal sealing flange is tapered at its inner edge at 62 to facilitate insertion in the mouth of the neck and the external locking flange 61 is provided with an inwardly extending annular locking rib 61a which will snap into the annular groove 57 in the exterior of the neck 55. Thus, the cap portion 59 when snapped on the neck 55 will be effectively sealed thereon.
The cap portion carries an axially outwardly extending tubular valve guide 64, which has a valve member 65 mounted therein for axial sliding movement. The guide 64 has a radially inwardly extending stop flange 66 at its outer extremity surrounding an outlet opening 66a. The valve member has formed thereon a guide section 67, of cross-shaped cross-section to permit passage of water, which fits slidably within and is guided by the tubular guide sleeve 64. The outer end of this section 67 will contact the flange 66 to limit outward movement of the member 65. The inner end of the member 65 is provided with a valve surface 68 preferably of spherical form. The outer end of the member 65 has an outwardly-opening central socket 69. The valve surface 68 is adapted to cooperate with an annular valve seat surface provided by an annular flange 70, on the interior of the cap portion 59, which converges axially inwardly to provide the annular concave valve seat surrounding a central opening, but, the seat and valve surfaces could be reversed or other complemental seating surfaces could be provided.
It will be apparent that if the package is in dispensing position with the valve 32 in a dependent posiition, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, the valve member 65 of the valve shown will drop by gravity, aided by water pressure, until the lower end of the guide section 67 rests on the stop flange 66. This will unseat the valve surface 68 from the flange 70, allowing the liquid to flow out through the guide tube 64 of the valve. To close the valve and interrupt this flow, it is necessary to push upwardly on the valve member 65 to seat the surface 68 on the flange 70.
As indicated, the bag 31 is filled with water while it is in the box 30 and may be filled through the neck 55 with the valve 32 removed. Then the valve is positioned on the neck. A combined cover and float 32a is slipped over the projecting guide tube 64. This cover, preferably of plastic is shown best in FIG. 5 and 11 and comprises a large float section 71 which in the position shown is the lower section and comprises an annular skirt depending from an annular radially outwardly projecting flange 72. Extending upwardly from this flange 72 is a tapering portion 73 which has a tubular sealing portion 74 projecting upwardly therefrom and which is closed at its upper end and which is provided with axially spaced annular sealing ribs 74a in its inner surface. On the closed upper end of the sealing portion 74 is a stern projection 75 which has a spherical extremity 75a.
In using the cover 32a to cover the valve 32 (FIG. 11) the float section 71 is passed downwardly over the valve and the tubular sealing portion 74 is forced downwardly over the guide sleeve 64 so as to frictionally engage therewith with a tight seal. The closed upper end of the portion 74 is further provided with a depending hook-shaped sealing flange 77 which snaps beneath the flange 66 on the guide sleeve 64 to further enhance the seal. At this time, the flange 77 will engage the outer end of the valve guide 67 to hold the valve surface 68 seated on the valve seat. Thus, the valve 32 is held in closed position by the cover 32a and the valve is enclosed especially at its outer extremities so as to protect it hygienically.
The package 20, with the bag 31 filled with water, is supplied to the user with the box closed and sealed in the condition illustrated in FIGS. 2 to 4 and 11. When the user wishes to open the package, he tears out the sections 42d and 44d from the end of the box. This exposes the valve 32 with its combined cover and float 32a which will be below the opening on the inner flaps created by the flap notches 41d and 43d. Then the covered valve is pulled outwardly through the opening as indicated in FIG. 5. If the cover and float 32a is removed, the guide sleeve 64 of the valve memeber 65 will be exposed as indicated in FIG. 6, the valve stem projecting upright from the end of the box. Adapter 23 is preferably positioned on the valve end of the box before inversion to dispensing position. The adapter frame 23 is preferably made of plastic and comprises a flat support plate or panel 23a upon which the end of the box is rested. This plate has a keyhole slot 76 located centrally thereof through which the valve 32 and neck 55 are adaptd to extend as shown in FIG. 8 and 12. The plate 23a has opposed upstanding, inwardly angled, resilient box-gripping flanges 79a at opposite edges. These flanges carry inwardly extending locking lugs 78 adjacent their upper edges which will press the tabs 41c and 430, respectively, on the box sides 41 and 43 inwardly so as to interlock with the resulting slots to hold the package 20 firmly in place in the receiving socket on the frame 23. The other two edges of the frame 23 carry the upstanding locating flanges 79 for the box. The plate 23a has a depending annular locating lip 80 on its lower surface around the slot 76. In mounting the package 20 on the cooler 25, the valve 32 and neck 55 are first passed through the enlarged circular part of the keyhole slot 76. Then the neck 55 is pushed laterally into the position indicated in FIG. 12 to lock it in the narrow circular part of the keyhole slot, the flange 58 on the neck being on one side of the plate 23a and the flange 54 of the neck being on the other side thereof to lock the neck from axial movement in a centered position in the plate. Before inversion of the box 30 with the adapter 23 locked thereon, the cover 32a is reversed by inserting the stem in the socket 69 of the valve member 65 and will be frictionally held thereon. The unit 32a will thereafter function as a float after the box is inverted, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, since the float section 71 will extend downwardly as indicated.
As shown in FIG. 8, the water cooler 25 has the flat upper wall 22 and below this wall is the annular well 85 in which a supply of water is to be maintained and from which it can be withdrawn through the spigot 86. Above the well 85, is a central opening surrounded by the usual annular gasket 87, upon which the large bottle reservoir is usually rested. However, when the reservoir package 20 of this invention is placed on the water cooler, the annular guide lap of the adapter frame 23 projects within the annular gasket 87 and the plate 23a thereof rests on the upwardly projecting gasket. The member 65 of the valve 32 will, at this time, drop downwardly by gravity and open the valve allowing water to flow into the well 85.
The depending float 71 will function to control the level of the water in the well 85. This float is of less diameter than the internal diameter of the well so that it will be free of the wall of the well85 in which it is centered. As long as the water in the well 85 is below a predetermined level, due to dispensing through the spigot 86, the valve member 65 will drop downwardly with the connected float 71 and unseat the valve surface 68 from the seat 70, allowing water to be supplied to the well. However, as the water in the well rises, the float 71 will rise, moving valve member 65 upwardly until the valve surface 68 seats on the seat 70 and closes the valve. The valve will not open again until the float moves downwardly, due to a drop in water level in the well 85, caused by withdrawal from the well through the spigot 86.
When the package 20 is completely emptied, it can be easily removed and discarded. Then it can be replaced with a filled package.
It is possible to form the keyhole slot, for locating the valve axially, in the box end instead of the plate 23 as indicated in FIG. 13. In this instance, the tear-out portions 42a and 44e will be in the respective box flaps 42a and 44a and will be shaped to produce a keyhole slot through which the neck 55 of the bag can be passed and then moved laterally to lock it axially. A more simple frame or other locating means can then be used instead of the frame 23 to locate the package assembly on the water cooler. If the keyhole slot is formed in the split panel at the box end, the material of that end is preferably moisture resistant.
The arrangement shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 provides a valve 32b which is slightly different and has a different combined float and cover 32c. The valve is shown in full lines in FIG. 14 in the position it occupies for storage and shipping and in broken lines with the float in lowered operative position. The valve 32b is mounted on the neck 55c substantially as before and includes the movable valve member 650 which is like that previously described except it has a tubular externally tapered stem 90 projecting axially out from the tubular guide 640. In the stem 90, a second stem 91 is telescoped to project therefrom and this stem carries a combined float and cover 92. The member 92 is slidably mounted on guide 64c and has an inner socket 93 which encloses the valve guide 640 for sanitation when in its inner position shown in full lines. The member 92 is held in its inner valve-covering position by its friction fit with member 64c but can be withdrawn to an outer or lower position indicated in broken lines in FIG. 14 and when so extended it can serve as a float. Member 92 preferably is of foamed plastic or other buoyant material. When the float 32c is extended or retracted the stem 91 moves therewith and is held in its respective positions by axially spaced grooves 94a and 95 in the outer stem 90 which are engaged by annular shoulders 91c on stem 91.
The arrangement of FIGS. 16 and 17 is similar but the float 92d is detachable from the stem 90d at the interfitting joint 96. The valve 32d is mounted on the neck 55d and in sleeve 64d in the same manner as before but the valve member 65d is modified to provide the different stem 90d. The float 92d will preferably be of foamed or cellular plastic.
The float 92e in FIG. 18 is the same as float 92d except it is a hollow bulb. In FIG. 19 the float 92f is hollow and inverted cup-shaped.
In FIG. 20 cover 32e is shown for the valve 32d of FIG. 16. This cover includes a tubular inner pan 74d, which frictionally engages the guide sleeve 64d and provides a seal, and a frusto-conical outer part 75d which encloses the stem 90d. The closed outer end of part 75d engages the stem 90d and holds the valve member 65d in seated position. I
The structure shown in FIG. 21 is similar to that shown in FIG. 16 except that the float 92g is different. It is in the form of a bell-shaped float which is made of flexible plastic. It is fastened to the lower end of the valve stem 90g by means of an interfitting joint96g. While in the package and before use as a float, the bell is flexed upwardly into the broken line position so as to enclose the cap portion 59g and the guide sleeve 64g of the valve. It is provided with a peripheral flange 61g on its edge which will snap beneath the skirt of the cap portion at 61e to provide an effective seal. Also, the structure will be sanitary since all parts of the valve will be enclosed until the assembly is used in the watercooler. When it is so used, the float is flexed down into the full-line position indicated in FIG. 21. In this position it will function like the other floats.
The structure in FIG. 22 is similar to that shown in FIG. 21 except that the seal and float 92h is tubular and reversible rather than bell-shaped and flexible. It is mounted as before at a joint 96h on the end of the stem 90h. It is provided with a sealing lip at 61h which engages the inner edge of the flange of cap portion 59h when itfunctions as a cover. The action as a cover and as a float is similar to the combined cover and float 92g of FIG. 21.
It will be apparent that this invention provides a simple complete disposable package assembly which can serve as the reservoir for water coolers or similar liquid-dispensing units. The bag and box type package preferably used is inexpensive so that it is economical to use it once and discard it. No structural modification of the water cooler itself will be necessary and it will not be necessary to provide expensive and hard to maintain valve attachments on the cooler since the control valve is part of the package assembly and is disposable therewith.
What is claimed is:
l. A package assembly for use as a disposable reservoir in a liquid dispensing unit comprising an outer protective box and an inner flexible bag disposed within and protected by the outer box, said box having a substantially flat wall adapted to rest on a support surface when in dispensing position on the dispensing unit with the bag filled with liquid, said bag having a neck which is adjacent said flat wall with the bag filled, a valve member on the neck for controlling discharge of liquid through said neck in cooperation with a valve seat on the neck, a guide sleeve in which said valve member is slidably mounted for axial movement between seated and unseated positions relative to said seat, said valve guide sleeve extending axially outwardly of the neck, said substantially flat box wall having an opening through which the valve guide sleeve and neck can project, means for locking the neck in said opening in a position such that the axis of the valve guide sleeve will be substantially normal to the flat wall and the neck will be locked in fixed axial position, said valve member seating on said valve seat when moved axially inwardly but dropping downwardly by gravity when the box with the filled bag is resting on said flat wall in dispensing position, a float for attachment to the slidable valve member, said valve member being movable to closed position by said float when attached thereto and positioned in said well to maintain a predetermined level of liquid in the well, said means for locking the neck in said opening comprising a locking panel at said flat wall having a keyhole slot at said opening, said neck having a radially outwardly opening locking groove on its exterior, said keyhole slot having a wide portion through which the neck can pass axially and a communicating narrow portion into which the neck can be moved laterally to lock it axially at said locking groove, said locking panel being part of an adapter which is adapted to support the box on the support surface of the dispensing unit which is substantially horizontally disposed, said panel of the adapter having a flat surface providing said flat support surface on which the flat wall of the box rests, said panel having said keyhole slot formed therein, and locating means extending from said flat support surface of said panel for locating the flat wall of the box on said flat support surface of the panel to locate said opening in said box wall in cooperation with said keyhole slot in said adapter panel, said box having side walls at right angles to said flat wall, said locating means on the adapter panel including a pair of opposed resilient box-gripping flanges which extend outwardly from said flat support surface of the panel and are adapted to extend over and grip said side walls of the box when the box is inserted therebetween, said box side walls having locking slots therein adjacent said box flat wall, and inwardly extending locking lugs on said box gripping flanges for interlocking with said slots to retain the box on the adapter with its flat wall resting on the support surface of the adapter panel.
2. A package assembly according to claim I in which the panel of the adapter has a second flat surface opposite the flat support surface, and an annular centering guide lip on said second flat surface surrounding said keyhole slot and concentric with the narrow portion thereof.
3. A package assembly according to claim 1 in which the valve guide sleeve is tubular and extends axially outwardly from said neck and has an outer outlet end with the said valve seat formed therein axially inwardly of said outlet end, said valve member having a valve surface at its inner end for cooperating with said valve seat, said float including a tubular cover portion adapted to be fitted over said valve guide sleeve to enclose the outer outlet end thereof to prevent contamination thereof and to seal said outlet end prior to dispensing through said outlet end.
4. A package assembly according to claim 3 in which said float has its tubular cover portion engaging and covering said guide sleeve to seal it in one position but is reversible relative to said guide sleeve to uncover its outlet and to serve as the float.
5. A package assembly according to claim 4 in which said cover portion has a closed outer end which engages a portion of the valve member to hold it in its innermost position with said valve surface on said valve seat when the cover portion is positioned on said guide sleeve.
6. A package assembly according to claim I mounted as a disposable reservoir on a liquid dispensing unit having a well from which the liquid is to be dispensed and in which a selected level of liquid is to be maintained, said unit having a support surface around said Well upon which said adapter is adapted to rest, and means for locating said adapter to locate said extending valve guide sleeve substantially centrally of said well.
7. A package assembly according to claim 6 in which said locating means comprises an annular centering guide lip on a second flat support surface of the adapter opposite the said flat support surface surrounding said keyhole slot and concentric with the narrow portion thereof for fitting into said well which is circular.