US 3918614 A
A childproof actuator cap for a hand-held aerosol dispenser having a container with a top closure member and a valve assemblage carried therein. The cap comprises a cap body having an annular, depending skirt which engages and is supported by the rim of the top closure member. The cap body movably carries a depress button having a hollow, depending boss engageable with the valve to actuate the same. The skirt has diametrically opposed, aligned holes which slidably carry a movable plunger constituting an abutment for the boss on the depress button. A finger-piece is connected with the plunger and is exposed at the rear of the cap, to enable engagement by the same finger which is employed to actuate the depress button. The plunger is movable between a locking position wherein it interferes with the boss on the depress button and prevents depressing movement thereof and actuation of the valve, and an unlocked position wherein a clearance hole in the plunger is aligned with the boss to receive and provide clearance for the latter when the button is depressed. The arrangement is such that the same finger which is employed to depress the button is first used to actuate the plunger and unlock the dispenser, whereby an especially convenient and simple, one-finger unlocking and dispensing operation is realized.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Steiman 1 Nov. 11, 1975 1 1 CHILDPROOF ACTUATOR CAP  Inventor: Wolf Steiman, Bridgeport, Conn.
 Assignee: VCA Corporation, Greenwich,
22 Filed: Jan.17, 1974 21 Appl. No: 434,331
 US. Cl 222/153; 222/402.l3  Int. Cl. B65D 83/14; B67D 5/32  Field of Search. 222/153, 182, 402.11, 402.13,
Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves Assistant E.raminer-Francis J. Bartuska Attorney, Agent, or Firm-11. Gibner Lehmann; K. Gibner Lehmann; E. Donald Mays  ABSTRACT A childproof actuator cap for a hand-held aerosol dispenser having a container with a top closure member and a valve assemblage carried therein. The cap comprises a cap body having an annular, depending skirt which engages and is supported by the rim of the top closure-member. The cap body movably carries a depress button having a hollow, depending boss engageable with the valve to actuate the same. The skirt has diametrically opposed, aligned holes which slidably carry a movable plunger constituting an abutment for the boss on the depress button. A finger-piece is connected with the plunger and is exposed at the rear of the cap, to enable engagement by the same finger which is employed to actuate the depress button. The plunger is movable between a locking position wherein it interferes with the boss on the depress button and prevents depressing movement thereof and actuation of the valve, and an unlocked position wherein a clearance hole in the plunger is aligned with the boss to receive and provide clearance for the latter when the button is depressed. The arrangement is such that the same finger which is employed to depress the button is first used to'actuate the plunger and unlock the dispenser, whereby an especially convenient and simple, one-finger unlocking and dispensing operation is realized.
1 Claim, 9 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 11, 1975 45 1 6 975 I 44 9 1 Q 11 ,1 111 A ml, 54 53 CHILDPROOF ACTUATOR CAP BACKGROUND This invention relates to small dispensers of the handheld type, such as those involving pressurized liquids, or liquids which are ejected by a pumping action. More particularly the invention relates to dispenser actuator caps of the type which tend to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized operation by infants, young children or other unauthorized personnel.
In the past a number of different types of childproof actuator caps have been proposed and produced. Some merely prevented inadvertent actuation and discharge of the dispenser before purchase by the consumer; others were made so as to prevent unauthorized actuation unless the user undertook special manipulative operations required to effect the actuation. In some prior dispensers, there were provided cooperable stop shoulders which could be brought into registration by turning of the cap body, collar, or other piece rotatably mounted at the dispenser top. Still other devices involved relatively turnable cap members which had cooperable indicator means which required that the user have special knowledge as to the proper operational procedure, in order to effect a discharge of the dispenser. Actuator caps of the tamperproof variety have also been produced, involving either tear strips which required removal prior to use of the dispenser, or removable means of one type or another. All of these prior devices either prevented inadvertent actuation or indicated unauthorized operation and discharge if the cap had previously been actuated. While many of these prior actuator caps generally performed their intended functions satisfactorily, some were not completely foolproof or childproof, nor were they especially inexpensive to produce due to the multiplicity of parts involved and the necessary assembly operations in attaching the parts to each other and to the dis penser. Moreover, in some instances, the operations required of the consumer were sufficiently complex as to cause difficulty and hindrance to an authorized person attempting to use the device.
SUMMARY The above disadvantages and drawbacks of prior childproof actuator caps are obviated by the present invention, which has for its principal object the provision of a novel and improved childproof actuator cap for small hand-held dispensers which is extremely simple in construction and reliable in operation and use. A related object is the provision of an improved childproof actuator cap as above characterized, which is especially effective in minimizing the likelihood of its being actuated by a young child even though prior actuation by an informed user is observed by such a young person. These objects are accomplished by the provision of a novel, molded plastic cap body comprising an annular depending skirt adapted to be supported on the top closure member of a dispenser, a depress button movably carried in the cap body, and movable abutment means on the cup body for normally maintaining the depress button in a raised or locked, nondischarging position. The abutment means includes a plunger which is carried in diametrically opposite holes in the depending skirt. The plunger has an externally engageable finger piece which is disposed toward the rear of the cap body and is adapted to be engaged by the same finger used to actuate the depress button. Movement of the plunger momentarily unlocks the actuator button, enabling the latter to be readily depressed to effect discharge of the dispenser contents. The arrangement is such that there results an especially simple one-finger operation for effecting both the unlocking and discharging functions of the dispenser.
Other features and advantages will hereinafter appear.
In the drawings illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention:
FIG. 1 is a vertical sectional view of a pressurized dispenser incorporating the improved locking-type actuator cap of the present invention, the cap being shown in the locked, non-discharging position.
FIG. 2 is a view like that of FIG. 1 except showing the plunger being engaged by the finger of the user prior to actuation of the valve via the depress button, the cap being shown in the unlocked, non-discharging position.-
FIG. 3 is a view like FIGS. 1 and 2, except illustrating both the plunger and the depress button being engaged by the same finger of the user, the cap thus being shown in the unlocked discharging position.
FIG. 4 is a section taken on line 44 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the actuator cap of FIGS. 1-4.
FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the actuator cap of FIGS. 15.
FIG. 7 is a rear elevational view of the actuator cap of FIGS. 16.
FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of the plunger part of the actuator cap of FIGS. 1-7.
FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the plunger part of the actuator cap of FIGS. l8.
Referring to FIGS. 1-3 there is illustrated an aerosol dispenser of the hand-held, pressurized type generally designated by the numeral 10. The dispenser includes a container 12 having a top closure member 14 and a valve assemblage 16 including a dip tube 18 and a hollow valve stem 20 for effecting discharge of the pressurized contents of the container, all in the usual manner.
In accordance with the present invention there is provided an improved childproof actuator cap for handheld dispensers, the cap being generally designated by the numeral 22 and comprising a cap body having an annular depending skirt 24 adapted to be held on the top rim of the closure member, a depress button 26 movably carried in the cap body and a novel abutment means for locking the depress button in its raised, nondischarging position of FIG. 1. The cap skirt terminates in an annular external shoulder 21 and an internal bead 23 which are received by and snapped into an annular groove 25 in the periphery of the top closure member 14, adjacent the can-to-closure member crimp 27. The button 26 is connected with the cap body for tilting or pivotal movement with respect thereto by means of a hinge 28, and has a hollow, depending boss 30 for receiving the valve stem 20 and for actuating the valve 16. A passageway 32 provides communication between the hollow boss 30 and a discharge nozzle 34 on the actuator or depress button 26. 4
The cap body 22 has a front portion 36 adjacent the nozzle 34 and a diametrically opposed rear portion 38. The skirt 24 has oppositely disposed aligned holes 40, 42 which slidably carry a plunger 44, constituting part of the abutment means. The plunger is illustrated particularly in FIGS. 8 and 9 and has an external finger piece 46 which, after assembly of the plunger onto the cap, is adjacent the location of the hinge 28 in FIG. 1. There is provided in the plunger a central aperture 48 of sufficient size to enable the hollow boss 30 of the depress button to be received therein, as will be explained below. In FIG. 1, a compression spring 52 is carried near one end of the plunger 44 inside the annular skirt and engaging the wall thereof. The spring biases the plunger to a position wherein the central aperture thereof is out of alignment with the depending boss 30 of the depress button 26 (FIG. 4).
As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the plunger is movable between extreme positions defined respectively by the engagement of the finger piece 46 and the outer surface of the skirt 24 (hereinafter referred to as the unlocked position, illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3), and the engagement of detent nibs 53 on the plunger body with the inner surface of the same skirt (hereinafter referred to as the locked position, illustrated in FIG. 1). Alternately, the nibs 53 can be ommited, in which case the engagement of an enlargement 54 (at the end of the plunger opposite the location of the finger piece) with the annular skirt 24 will limit the movement of the plunger to the position of FIG. 1.
Referring now to FIGS. and 7, it can be seen that the cap has a finger notch 56, indicating the position for applying the users finger to the depress button 26. The finger piece 46 of the plunger 44 is closely adjacent to this notch whereby the same finger can be employed to actuate the plunger as is used to effect depressing movement of the button 26 and discharge of the dispenser.
The operation of this improved childproof actuator cap can now be understood by referring to FIGS. 1-3. The position of FIG. 1 represents the locked condition of the dispenser. Direct depressing movement of the button 26 is prevented by the plunger 44 which is disposed in a position to interfere with any downward movement of the depending boss 30. In connection with this interference, the underside of the plunger is disposed just above the valve-to-closure member crimp (indicated 58 in FIGS. 1-3); even a substantial force applied to the button will not cause actuation of the valve, since the force will merely be transmitted through the plunger to the can crimp, which constitutes an unyielding support. To effect discharge of the dispenser, the user must first depress the plunger 44 to its unlocked position by applying his finger to the piece 46 in the manner of FIG. 2. This will align the aperture 48 in the plunger with the depending boss 30 of the depress button. Under these circumstances, the aperture can receive the boss 30 when the button is depressed; thus, no interference occurs and the discharge of the can contents is readily effected with the plunger and depress button in the positions illustrated in FIG. 3.
By the present invention the location of the finger piece and plunger are especially arranged whereby both the unlocking movement of the plunger and the depressing movement of the button can be readily and conveniently effected by the same finger. As a result, as especially practical and easyto-use one finger operation is realized. The unlocked position of the plunger is illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, and the button is shown in the depressed condition in FIG. 3. Following use of the dispenser, the button 26 is released and the pressure from finger piece 46 removed, whereby the dispenser will again assume the locked, non-discharging condition of FIG. 1.
It will be readily understood that the childproof feature resides in the provision of an abutment or plunger which must first be moved to a predetermined position before the actuator button can be depressed. I have found that small children do not readily comprehend this unlocking sequence and thus cannot effect operation of the dispenser. However, the operation is still sufficiently straightforward to provide convenient and quick access by an authorized person such as a consumer.
The above construction has a number of distinct advantages. The cap body and depress button can be molded as a single, integral piece, and thus manufacturing and fabrication costs can be kept to a minimum. The arrangement wherein the underside of the plunger is supported by the valve-to-closure member crimp minimizes the likelihood of damage to the plunger from an excessive depressing force applied to the actuator button when the plunger is in the locked position. Also, an especially simple one-finger operation results, which can easily be learned by an adult or other authorized person, yet which has been found to present substantial obstacles to an infant or young child even after he has observed operation of the dispenser.
From the above it can be seen that I have provided a novel and improved childproof actuator cap which is both simple in construction and effective and reliable in operation. The construction is thus seen to represent a distinct advance and improvement in aerosol dispenser technology.
Variations and modificatons are possible without departing from the spirit of the invention.
1. A childproof actuator cap for a hand-held aerosol dispenser having a container with a top closure and a valve assemblage, including a valve stem, carried by said closure member comprising in combination:
a. a cap body having a top wall provided with an elongated opening therein and having an annular, integral skirt, with a front and rear portion, depending from said top wall and engageable with and adapted to be supported by the container;
b. an elongated depress button disposed within said elongated opening in said top wall portion of said cap body and hingedly connected thereto at its rear end, said button being movable between a raised, non-discharging position and a depressed, discharging position, and having means engageable with said valve stem for actuating said valve in response to depressing movement of the button by the users finger;
c. means on the cap top wall for positioning a users finger in a direction extending between said front and rear portions of said cap skirt thereby adapting it to depress said button;
(1. a plunger having its front and rear ends received in opposed openings provided in the front and rear portions of said skirt below said means engageable with said valve stem provided on said depress button, said plunger having an opening therein receiving said valve stem, said opening being defined by a straight, transverse front wall and a semicircular rear wall connected by straight, parallel sidewalls provided on said plunger, the front end of said plunger having an integral, cylindrical boss carry- 5 6 ing a spiral spring in compression which normally ing an upturned end terminating adjacent the rear forces said transverse front wall against said stem d f id depress b d to prevent said depress button from being actuated; f. Said finger piece being disposed at a location p|ac fi finger i g the i ing it under the same finger employed to depress san p unger pro ecting roug t e opening 1n 5 the rear ponion of said skin for effecting m (W the button during the use of the dispenser, whereby mem f Said plunger to an unlocked position both the unlocking and actuating operations can be abling depressing movement of the button and ac- Simultaneously effected y the same fingertuation of the valve to occur, said finger piece hav-