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Publication numberUS3876314 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 8, 1975
Filing dateMay 17, 1974
Priority dateMay 17, 1974
Also published asCA1017103A1
Publication numberUS 3876314 A, US 3876314A, US-A-3876314, US3876314 A, US3876314A
InventorsNehring John R
Original AssigneeInt Paper Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pre-filled applicator or scrubber
US 3876314 A
Images(2)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

I United States Patent [1 1 [111 3,876,314 Nehring Apr. 8, 1975 PRE-FILLED APPLICATOR OR SCRUBBER Primary Examiner-Lawrence Charles I t h h [75] men or J0 n R Ne Bergen N J Attorney, Agenl. 0r Firm.lames D. Bock {73] Assignee: International Paper Company, New

NY 57 ABSTRACT [22] Filed: May Applicator such as a scrubber, swab or spreader hav- IZH App| 7 744 ing a hollow handle prefilled with a liquid, a head made of absorbent material, such as a sponge, for scrubbing or swabbing with or spreading of said liquid [52] ml/133; mtg/269 and at least one communicating opening in the handle [5i] lltl. Cl A6" 15/00 in position to exude Contained liquid into body of [58] Field Of Search 4Ul/l 32. l33. l98, 199; head. Communicating Opening or openings dosed f l28/269' 252 shipment and storage prior to use by elongated plug. preferably a plastic monofilament, with portion of [56] References C'ted length exposed for ready removal when applicator is UNITED STATES PATENTS to be used. Construction of handle from tubular extru- 2.491.274 0 1949 McNeil] .7 128/269 Sion and Provision of morlflfilameflt P results in 2.628,)!2 2/l953 Horun l28/252 X very low cost particularly appropriate for single-use 1072.953 l/I963 Bunke H 401/132 disposable applicators such as surgical skin scrubbers. 3.324.855 6/1967 Hcimlich 40mm x 3,418,059 12/1968 Robe 401/132 x 1 ClalmS. 12 Drawing Figures FIGB.

HEATER AND SEALER g EXTRUDER FIG.6.

PRE-FILLED APPLICATOR ()R SCRUBBER BACKGROL'ND OF INVENTION IIS. Pat. No. 2.490. l (18 discloses a simple applicator for nasal medication in which a sponge head is applied o\er openings formed in an elongated tube. Medication .naI/oi lul icant may be applied to the head just before use and liquid medication may be pumped through the tube to exude into the sponge head after the latter has been placed in the nasal passages to be treated. No provision is made for prefilling of the tube with liquid or for optional closing and opening ofthe communicating passageways between the tube and the interior of the sponge head.

LES. Pat. Nos. 3.324.855: 3.495.917; and 3.519.364 disclose applicators having tubular handles with sponge heads with provision for prefilling the handles with a liquid which is kept out of communication with the sponge head until it is desired to use the applicator. In the first of these patents the liquid is stored in a rupturable ampule or behind a rupturable barrier in the handle while in the latter two patents the liquid is stored behind a displace-able plug and the handle is provided with a plunger to apply sufficient pressure to the stored liquid to displace the plug after which operation of the plunger is effecthc to force the stored liquid into inner regions of the sponge head. These three patents each disclose devices made up of several parts especially made for the purpose and involve fairly complicated assembly steps which are costly and in which maintenance of sterility. for example. is difficult.

In US. Pat. Nos. 2.638.912 and 3.117.874 directed to infant feeding packages the use of an elongated flexible plug. such as a cord. to close a preformed nursing opening is disclosed. In these patented structures the cord plug is withdrawn and discarded when the package is to be put into use.

US. Pat. No. 3.774.609 discloses a simple prefilled applicator with which a piercing device must be used to release the liquid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION A primary objective of the present invention is to provide a handled applicator having a sponge or other scrubbing type of head useful for scrubbing or swab hing with or spreading of liquids or thin pastes. which includes provision for storing of the liquid or paste within the handle. communicating openings in the handle through which the liquid or paste may be exuded, by squeezing the handle. into interior portions of the head and a cord type plug. such as a length of plastic monofilament for maintaining said communicating openings closed until it is desired to put the applicator into use. at which time the plug is removed or otherwise manipulated to permit exudation of the liquid or paste into the head.

In all forms of the invention herein disclosed it is a particular feature that the applicator is made from parts so readily available and assembled in such a simple manner as to fulfill the need for a single use disposable applicator of remarkably low cost. To this end the handle is made from a length of continuously extruded plastic tubing, the head is made. for example, ofa block of sponge-like material of rectangular or other suitable shape and the plug may be a short length of readily available plastic morioiilamentv All of these materials may be purchased as stock items in the market. although it is within the purview of this invention to combine the extruding of the handle tubing with simple steps of heat and pressure sealing and cutting off of handle lengths therefrom.

In some forms of this invention the plastic monofilament plug is removed and discarded when the applicator is to be put into use. In another form the monofilament is made of an elastomeric material which. when stretched. will assume a diameter smaller than that of the communicating openings. In the latter form of the invention the elastomeric plug may be repeatedly stretched to modulate the flow of liquid to the head during a single use. Also. when the applicator is to be used repeatedly over a relatively long period of time the elastomeric plug. when relaxed. will maintain the communicating openings in closed condition. thus pre serving and protecting the remaining liquid stored within the handle.

DESGRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a vertical sectional view of an applicator embodying the present invention. with parts broken away. and taken generally along the line lI in FIG. 5;

FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. I, but showing the handle of the applicator before final assembly of the applicator:

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic illustration of certain steps in the manufacture of the handle;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic elevational view illustrating a step in the filling of the handle;

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the completed applicator;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view illustrating a modified form of handle for use in this invention:

FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of a modified form of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view with parts in section taken generally along the line 8-8 in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary sectional view showing a modified form of cord-type plug useful in connection with any of the forms of the invention disclosed herein;

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of a still further modified form of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a side elevational view with parts in section taken generally along the line llll in FIG. 10; and

FIG. 12 is a view similar to FIG. 11 but showing the cord type plug stretched to permit exudation of liquid from the interior ofthe handle to the interior of the applicator head.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to FIGS. I through 5 of the drawings there is shown a first form ofthe present invention which. because of simplicity of construction and assembly and very low cost. is admirably adapted for use as a disposable single-use applicator. For example it may be used as a surgical skin scrubber or as a spreader for caustic. acidic or staining materials where contact with the hands of the user is undesirable or dangerous. The assembled device is shown in the section in FIG. 1 and in elevation in FIG. 5 while certain steps in the forming. filling and assembling of the device are illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4.

Referring first to FIG. I the applicator generally indicated at I is shown as comprising a tubular handle 12 preferably made of a semi-rigid plastic material. such as a medium density polyethylene. extruded or molded. The thickness of the wall of the handle 12 should be such as to afford sufficient rigidity for use as a handle to apply a required amount of pressure to a surface being treated while at the same time to permit squeez ing of the handle to force liquid contained therein into the applicator head from time to time as required. With the polyethylene material just referred to. a wall thickness of about 30 mils (0.030 inch) will be adequate for accomplishment of both of these purposes, when the applicator is to be used. for example. as a surgical skin scrubber where vigorous action and relatively high rubbing pressures are involved. Other plastic materials such as polyamides (nylon) or polyvinyl chlorides also may be used. Wall thickness in all cases may be chosen for various intended uses and thinner walls are chosen when scrubbing or high pressures are not required.

The handle I2 may be generally circular in cross section and is securely closed and sealed at the bottom to pre\ent leakage of contained liquid under the pressure of handling and use. The bottom closure generally indicated at 14 may be formed simultaneously with other manufacturing operations. as will be described hereinbelow. or it may be formed after filling the handle with an appropriate liquid. In this preferred form the closure 14 is effected by transversely flattening the tube and sealing the inner wall surfaces together by means of heat and pressure. adhesive or the like.

At the upper end of the handle 12. as viewed in FIG. I. the wall of the tube has been flattened and sealed transversely of the tubular axis to form a closure generally indicated at I6. The closure 16 is elongated consid erably beyond such length as might be required solely for closure purposes, the elongation thereof providing a flexible web or spatula upon which a head 18, made of a suitable absorbent material. is secured to serve as the scrubber or applicator head. Preferably the head 18 is made of a sponge material such as regenerated cellulose or foamed plastic such as foamed polyurethane in which the pores are at least partially open. The head 18 is secured to the closure 16 by relatively narrow lines of adhesive 20 extending transversely across both sides of the closure 16. The head 18, as well known in the art. may be folded or wrapped into a generally rectangular configuration. Preferably however the head 18 is formed as a rectangular block of sponge material hav ing a pocket in the form of a narrow slit 19 formed or cut centrally therein to fit rather snugly on the closure 16 and the upper sloping portions 21 and 22 of the handle 12. As shown in FIG. I the skirt like portions of head 18 surrounding the slit 19 are somewhat compressed and distorted where they fit upon the sloping shoulders 21 and 22.

In the sloping shoulder portion 22 of the handle 12 a relatively small opening 24 is punched or pierced in such position as to lie beneath the adjacent skirt portion of the head I8 and to serve as a communicating passageway through which liquid material contained in the handle 12 may be discharged into the absorbent body of the head. The opening 24 is closed. during as sembly of the applicator. by an elongated cord-type member 26 which remains within the opening 24 to seal the same until such time as it is desired to use the applicator. The plug member 26 extends for a short distance into the interior of the handle 12, to guard against inadvertent removal and extends beneath the adjacent skirt region of the head 18 to project outwardly in a length such that it may be conveniently grasped by the user and pulled out of the opening 24 when the applicator is to be put into use.

The elongated plug member 26 preferably is a readily commercially available monofilament such as a polyamide or polyester material which is strong and springy and thus may be readily inserted through the opening 24 during assembly of the applicator as will be described hereinbelow. Preferably the opening 24 will be formed by punching or by a hot needle so as to have a diameter somewhat less than the cross sectional diame ter of the particular plug or filament 26 which is to be used for closing that opening. thus assuring a snug. leakproof fit. Also when filament 26 is larger in diameter than the opening 24 and when it is inserted through the opening from the outside of the handle I2 the wall regions of the handle 12 surrounding the opening 24 will bulge inwardly as shown in FIG. 2. As will be readily apparent. pressure incident to squeezing of the handle I2 during handling and shipment and prior to use of the applicator will tend to tighten the grip of the wall upon filament 26 whereby there is almost no possibility that such pressure will result in inadvertent dislodgement of the filament 26. This feature is not essential to success of the applicator since the elongate portion of the filament which extends into the handle 12 is a very inefficient piston and thus is unlikely to be dislodged by fluid pressure in any event.

Since. in the form of the invention shown in FIGS. I and 2, the opening 24 is formed in only one shoulder 22 of the handle 12 the liquid discharged from the handle into the head 18 after filament 26 has been removed will at first. wet only the lower right-hand portion of the head I8 as viewed in FIG. 1. Nevertheless by manipulation incident to use the liquid will spread rapidly throughout the entire body of the sponge or other absorbent material forming the head 18. If so desired one or more openings 28 may be formed in the elongated portion of the closure I6 to promote more rapid flow ofliquid from the right-hand portion into the left-hand portion of head 18 as viewed in FIG. 1.

The applicator. as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 may be made by flattening and sealing the closure 16 leaving the closure 14, at the lower end. open. After inserting the filament 26 and securing the head 18 upon the closure 16 the handle 12 may be filled with the desired liquid, preferably having a substantial volume thereof unfilled to serve as an air cushion, through the open bottom of the handle. Thereafter the closure I2 may be sealed, as by flattening and securing the inner wall surfaces by heat and pressure or adhesive. or by crimping or by the use of a clip. all as well known in the art of flexible tube packaging.

In FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 there is illustrated an alternative. and preferable, manner of making and assembling the applicator 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Thus. in FIG. 3, an extruder 30 is diagrammatically shown from which a suitable plastic material, for example a medium density polyethylene or a polyvinyl chloride is extruded in the form of a continuous, seamless hollow tube 32 having an outer diameter suitable for the intended purpose. for example from about one-half inch to one inch or more. The wall thickness of tube 32, as suggested above may be about 0.030 inch or whatever may be suitable for the particular plastic material used to provide a handle of useful stiffness which also may be squeezed to expel liquid into head 18.

In FIG. 3 the extruded tube 32 is conducted directly to a station 34 in which the wall of the tube 32 is flattened and sealed, as by heat and pressure, to form a closed portion 36 adequate in length to provide the closures 14 and 16. From station 34 the tube is conducted to a severing station comprising a blade 38 arranged to cut the flattened portion 36 transversely thereby forming and separating the top closure 16 and the bottom closure 14 of two successive handles 12. Alternatively, of course, the tube 32 coming from extruder 30 may be stored or transported in coiled form from the location of the extruder 30 to another location in which the stations 34 and 36 may be positioned. Also, alternatively, the stations 34 and 36 may be combined as a single station in which both the sealing and cutting steps are performed.

The separated empty handles 12 made as shown in FIG. 3 next will have openings 24 punched or pierced in the shoulder portion 22 (as illustrated in FIG. 2). In FIG. 4a hollow filling needle 40 is inserted through the opening 24, or indeed, may be used to pierce the opening 24 in shoulder 22, whereupon the desired quantity of the selected liquid is delivered through needle 40 to the interior of handle 12. Filament 26 is now inserted (as shown in FIG. 2) to close opening 24. Head 18 is now secured to closure 16 in position to overlie the opening 24 and a portion of the length of filament 26 to form the completed applicator illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 5. To thus secure the head 18 to the handle 12 the lines of adhesive may first be applied to closure 16 or may be applied to the interior of the slit pocket 19 formed in head 18.

In FIG. 6 an alternative arrangement for securing head 18 to the handle of any of the forms of the invention herein disclosed. including the handle 12 described above. In this FIG. 6 a handle 112 is shown wherein a series of barbs 117 and 119 have been cut, respectively along the edges of the closure 116. The barbs 117 and 118 are so disposed and faced that when the closure 116 is inserted into a slit pocket (such as 19 in FIG. 1) of a head 18, made ofa sponge material as preferred herein, the barbs will prevent withdraw! of the handle 112 from the head.

In FIGS. 7 and 8 an alternative form of applicator 210 is shown. While otherwise identical with the handle 12 shown in FIGS. I through 5 or handle 112 shown in FIG. 6, the handle 212 in FIGS. 7 and 8 has two liquid dispensing openings 224 and 225 in shoulders 222 and 221. When the closure 216 of handle 212 is inserted into slit pocket 219 the openings 224 and 225 will be located beneath the head 218. A filament 226, otherwise similar to filament 26 described above, is formed into an open-ended loop and the opposite ends thereof are inserted into openings 224 and 225 to close the same after the handle 212 has been filled with desired liquid and before assembly with head 218.

When the applicator 210, shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 is to be put into use the looped filament 226 is pulled out and discarded whereupon the liquid contained in handle 212 may be squeezed through openings 224 and 225 into both of the lower portions of head 218 as viewed in FIG. 8.

In FIG. 9, an alternative form of filament 326 is shown for use in either of the preceding forms of this invention. The filament 326, instead of being made from an incompressible, stiff, filament-forming material such as a polyamide or a polyester, is made of an elastomeric material having stretch characteristics such as had by natural rubber. The elastomer may be any suitable natural or synthetic rubber, closed foam or skin foam polymeric material or the like. When such a filament is inserted into an opening 324 in a shoulder 322 of a handle 312, the filament 326 being of larger cross-sectional diameter than that of opening 324, will be radially compressed as indicated in FIG. 9, thus to securely seal opening 324. To insert such a filament 326 into an opening such as 324 it may be desirable to use a needle, with or without an eye or barb, to facilitate insertion.

When an applicator fitted with the filament 326 of FIG. 9 is put into use the filament, whether it be singleended as shown in FIG. I or double-ended as shown in FIG. 7, will be pulled out and discarded. The applicator is then ready for use as described above in connection with FIGS. 1 through 5.

In FIGS. l0, l1 and 12a further modified form of the present invention is shown. In these Figures an applicator 410 which otherwise may be identical with the applicator 210 shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 is provided with a filament 426 in the form of a closed loop made of stretchable elastomeric material. This form of the invention provides for repeated opening and closing of the fluid discharge openings which may be desirable even in a single-use applicator and which is of particu lar desirability in an applicator which may be used a number of times at spaced periods before the liquid content is finally exhausted.

Thus, in FIGS. 10, 11 and 12 an applicator 410 comprising a hollow handle 412 with lower end closure 414, upper end closure 416 and a suitable head 418. secured by adhesive or barbs as above disclosed, is provided with a filament 426 threaded consecutively through openings 424 and 425. The opposite ends of filament 426 are extended outwardly from the slit pocket 419 of head 418 into an accessible position and they are united as by a knot or fastener 427 to form a closed loop. The filament 426 is made from a stretchable elastomeric material such as natural or synthetic rubber, rubber-like elastomers or non-porous foamed elastomeric materials, and has a cross-sectional diameter such that, when in relaxed or unstretched condition, it will snugly fit and close the openings 424 and 425.

When the applicator 410 of FIGS. l0, l1 and 12 is put into use the user will grasp filament 426, as by the knot or fastener 427, and tension the same in the direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 12. This action will stretch the entire length of filament 426 reducing its cross-sectional diameter and thus opening a portion of the area of each of the openings 424 and 425 in the handle 412. By squeezing handle 412 at this time a desired amount ofliquid contained in the handle 412 will be transferred to the head 418. The rate of flow of liquid under any given squeezing pressure may be modulated by applying differing degrees of tension upon the looped filament 426. Within rather wide limits greater tension will cause greater reduction in cross section of the filament with consequent increase in area opened in openings 424 and 425. When tension on filament 426 is relaxed the filament will resume its original cross-sectional diameter and thus will reclose the openings 424 and 425. The liquid remaining in handle 412 thereupon will be protected from leakage during use of the applicator. will be available for further moistening of the head during such use and when desirablev will be preserved for further use on subsequent occasions.

The term liquids as used in the claims is intended to embrace liquids such as water. alcohol and the like as well as solutions. emulsions or relatively thin pastes which may or may not require shaking before being exuded into the applicator head. The use of the elongate flexible plug to seal the pretilled handle makes it practical to provide. at an appropriate low cost. very small single use applicators containing only a few drops ofalcohol or other antiseptic liquid, which may be used to treat a small area of the skin of a patient preparatory to injection. or vaccination. ln larger sizes the low cost makes the applicators of the present invention attractive for such diverse uses as surgical prepping, window washing. applying liquid polish to automobiles, cleaning and disinfecting toilet bowls or sinks. applying oven cleaning compounds. paint removers, rust removers. or for inclusion in kits for building furniture where limited amounts of staining and finishing materials of the wipeon type may be required.

The terms and expressions which have been employed are used as terms of description and not of limitation. and there is no intention in the use ofsuch terms and expressions of excluding any equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof, but it is recognized that various modifications are possible within the scope of the invention claimed.

What is claimed is:

1. An applicator for liquids which comprises an elongated hollow handle adapted to contain a supply ofliquid. an applicator head made of absorbent material se cured to and overlying a portion of one end ofsaid han dle. at least one opening formed in said one end of said handle in a position underlying said head to serve as a passageway for flow of liquid from said handle into said head. and an elongate flexible plug having a portion of its length extending with a friction fit through said opening into the interior of said handle to seal said passageway against flow of liquid therethrough, said plug having another portion of its length extending outside said handle beneath said head and outwardly from said head into a position where it may be grasped and pulled lengthwise by a user to unseal said passageway.

2. An applicator as set forth in claim 1 in which said plug is constituted by a length of plastic monofilament.

3. An applicator as set forth in claim 1 in which said handle is constituted by a length of semi-rigid plastic tubing flattened and sealed transversely at said one end to form a semi-rigid web upon which said head is se cured.

4. An applicator as set forth in claim 3 in which said plug is constitued by a length of plastic monofilament.

5. An applicator as set forth in claim 2 in which said plastic monofilament is made of a plastic material which is substantially incompressible in planes normal to the lengthwise axis thereof and is highly resistant to elongation and in which said plastic monofilament when grasped and pulled lengthwise by a user is withdrawn from said opening to unseal said passageway.

6. An applicator in accordance with claim 1 in which said plug is constituted by a length of elastomeric material readily compressible in planes normal to the lengthwise axis thereof.

7. An applicator in accordance with claim 6 in which said plug when grasped and pulled lengthwise by a user is withdrawn from said opening to unseal said passageway.

8. An applicator in accordance with claim 1 in which there are two openings formed in said one end of said handle and in which one end of said plug extends through one of said openings into the interior of said handle and the other end of said plug extends through the other of said openings into the interior of said handle and in which said portion of the length of said plug which extends outwardly of said head is in the form of a loop.

9. An applicator in accordance with claim 8 in which said plug is constituted by a length of plastic monofilament.

10. An applicator in accordance with claim 8 in which said plug is constituted by a length of elastomeric material readily compressible in planes normal to the lengthwise axis thereof.

1]. An applicator for liquids which comprises an elongated hollow handle adapted to contain a supply of liquid. an applicator head made of absorbent material secured to and overlying a portion of one end of said handle. at least one pair of openings of predetermined diameter formed in said one end of said handle in positions underlying said head to serve as passageways for flow of liquid from said handle into said head, and an elongate flexible plug made of stretchable and compressible elastomeric material which when relaxed has a diameter greater than said predetermined diameter of said openings, said flexible plug having a central portion of its length extending from outside said handle through one opening of said pair of openings into said handle and thence outwardly through the other opening of said pair of openings, the opposite end portions of said flexible plug both extending outside said handle beneath said head and outwardly from said head into a position in which they may be grasped and pulled lengthwise by a user, said flexible plug when relaxed serving to seal both of said passageways against flow of liquid therethrough, and said flexible plug when pulled lengthwise by a user will stretch in length and shrink in diameter to a diameter less than that of said openings thereby to unseal said passageways to permit a modulated flow of liquid from the interior of such handle through said passageways into said head.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification401/133, 604/289, 401/198, 604/2
International ClassificationA61F13/40
Cooperative ClassificationA61M35/006
European ClassificationA61M35/00B2