US 3926339 A
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[ Dec. 16, 1975 Assistant ExaminerDavid A. Scherbel Attorney, Agent, or FirmNeuman, Williams, Anderson & Olson  ABSTRACT A liquid dispenser apparatus for use in gravity dispensing of liquid beverages contained in can type containers is provided which includes a frame for securing a can containing liquid to be dispensed, a piercing tool adapted to penetrate the bottom of a can for withdrawing the liquid contents thereof, and a conduit for conducting liquid from the piercing tool through a valve for controlled dispensing. A second piercing tool located on the top of the frame is adapted to penetrate the top of the can and is similarly interconnected with the valve to permit on the opening of the valve the bleeding of air to the top portion of the can, thereby PLURAL CAN PIERCING TOOLS Inventor: Richard A. Openchowski, Woodridge, Ill.
 Assignee: National Can Corporation, Chicago,
June 21, 1974 US. Cl. 222/83; 222/85; 222/528; 222/530 B67B 7/26; B67B 7/28 222/83, 83.5, 85, 86, 528, 222/530; 251/9; 137/588, 587, 589
United States Patent ()penchowski LIQUID DISPENSING APPARATUS HAVING  Filed:
 Appl. No.: 481,553
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US. Patent Dec. 16, 1975 Sheet10f3 3,926,339
US. Patent Dec. 16, 1975 Sheet 2 of 3 U.S. Patent Dec. 16, 1975 Sheet 3 of3 3,926,339
LIQUID DISPENSING APPARATUS HAVING PLURAL CAN PIERCING TOOLS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to beverage dispensers, particularly an apparatus for dispensing liquid or beverages from commercial sealed can type containers which are concomitantly opened for dispensing of the beverage at the time they are inserted into the dispenser apparatus.
2. Description of the Prior Art The dispensers of the prior art which have been traditionally employed for dispensing of beverages from large volume containers fall into several general classes. The first type of container is the conventional beer or soft drink dispenser which normally includes a container or barrel for the beverage which is pressurized from a large gas cylinder under the control of a diaphragm type regulator. The product is dispensed from a remotely located valve unit. These are commonly employed in bars, taverns and soda fountains. These units, of course, are large, bulky and have expensive installations.
Other types of dispensers are those in which the dispenser and regulator are built integrally in a medium size container such as a 2%. gallon beer or soft drink barrel. These constructions are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,232,485; 3,243,085; 3,239,101; and 3,195,788. In these devices the container is returnable and refillable since the regulator is built into the container and represents a substantial part of the cost of the unit.
Fruehling, US. Pat. No. 3,424,346, describes another type of dispenser unit which accommodates a plurality of metal cans and employs piercing devices to open the cans when installed in the dispensing unit. In this equipment several cans of juice or other beverages are placed in the unit and closure of the top of the dispensing unit on the cans causes penetration at the bottoms and tops thereof by aseries of piercing devices. Fluid beverages contained within the can flow out through the bottom piercing devices through a tube and then through a dispensing valve for consumption. The top piercing devices penetrate the tops of the cans and a series of gas passages connect the piercing devices with a source of pressurized gas, which pressurized gas serves to drive the beverage out of the container when the valve is opened.
Thus, the greater number of prior art dispensers which are used to dispense liquids from can type containers employ pressure systems which involve separate gas supplies or self-pressurized containers which contain their own gas supply. All of these devices are both complicated and contain expensive component parts which contribute substantially to the cost of the beverage to the consumer.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a liquid dispenser unit adapted for the gravity dispensing of liquid beverages from can type containers which comprises a frame means for securing a can type container for controlled liquid dispensing. The frame comprises a base, interconnecting front and rear walls, and a top which is hingedly secured to the rear wall of the frame. A first can piercing means is located on the interior of the base of said unit, adapted to pierce the bottom of a container held within the frame, said means having a fluid conducting aperture formed therein. A second can piercing means is located on the top of said frame adapted to pierce the top of said container simultaneously with the first piercing means by closure action of the top. The second piercing means is similarly provided with an annular aperture formed therein to conduct air. A valve means is mounted on said frame and conduit means respectively communicate with the valve and the first and second piercing means, said conduit means including a fluid conducting conduit for carrying the beverage to the valve and an air conducting conduit connected to the valve for equalization of air pressure within the can during the dispensing ope ration. The dispensing valve is so designed as to simultaneously open the air equalization passage and the fluid dispensing conduit during the dispensing step, permitting fluid to dispense and permitting air to flow in and equalize pressure in the can.
The apparatus also includes a pressure plate circumferentially mounted around the first piercing tool which is spring loaded or biased. When a can is inserted into the frame and the top is closed, the piercing means penetrate the top and bottom of the can and the pressure plate is forced down compressing the spring biasgThe pressure exerted by the compressed spring urges the, plate upwardly against the bottom of the can which is forced up against the top of the frame. The pressure compresses gaskets disposed around the second piercing means and on the pressure plate around the first piercing means providing a sealing action.
The conduit providing communication between the piercing means located in the top of the frame is formed within the top frame member and its point of termination in the top member is on the lower front edge surface thereof and communicates with another conduit or channel formed in the front wall terminating at the top and extending downwardly to a valve orifice or inlet in the front or outer face of the frame adjacent the valve means. When the top or cover portion is lifted, the air conduit between the second piercing means and the valve is broken, and when the top is closed, the ends of the conduit sectors, located in the top and front wall, are in register and establish a passage between the valve and said piercing means.
The apparatus of the present invention has as one object the provision of a liquid dispensing apparatus which permits the simultaneous insertion and piercing of can type containers which hold a liquid to be dispensed and making available the liquid contained therein for portionwise dispensing.
Another object is the provision of an apparatus for dispensing liquid from can type containers which do not require super atmospheric gas pressure to drive the liquid from the container either in the form of super atmospheric gases from a separate gas supply or dissolved gases contained in the liquid such as in beer or carbonated drinks.
A still further object is the provision of a dispensing apparatus which operates to dispense liquid by gravity.
A still further object is the provision of a dispensing apparatus which can be used as a cooling or heating chamber for the liquid in the can type container.
A still further object is the provision of a dispensing apparatus which can be used to dispense liquids from sealed can type containers in a rapid, simple and sanitary fashion.
3 These and other objects may be readily seen from the following specification, attached drawings and appended claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the dispenser apparatus of the present invention shown in operative and dispensing position;
FIG. 2 is a partial fragmentary view in partial cross section of the dispenser taken along the line 22 of FIG. 1 and showing the valve in dispensing position;
FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the dispenser of FIG. 1, also taken along the line 22, but illustrating the valve in closed position;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary partial exploded cross-sectional view in partial perspective illustrating an alternate form of valve means employed in the dispenser unit;
FIG. 5 is another fragmentary cross-sectional view of still another form of valve used in the present invention; and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of the dispenser unit of this invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 of the drawings, there is illustrated a liquid dispenser unit 10 comprising a case or can holding frame construction 12, including a base or bottom 14, front wall 16, rear wall or frame 18, side walls and 20a and top or cover 22. The case 12, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, is generally in the form of a box-like receptacle and is adapted to receive a can type container 24 insertable in the container 12 through the opening at the top 21 when top 22, which is hingedly connected to the rear wall 18 by hinge 26, is held open.
The container 12 is provided with a pair of piercing means or tools 28 and 30. Piercing means 28 is located on the interior of the cover or top 22 and it is adapted to pierce the top 24a of can 24 when the top 22 of container 12 is closed on a can placed therein preparatory to dispensing liquid contents thereof. Closure of top 22 causes penetration of the metal of the can at 27 by the tip 28a of piercing tool 28. A gasket 29 of rubbery material forms a seal between the piercing tool 28 and the can top. A channel or conduit 32 is integrally formed in piercing means 28 and serves as an air passage. An extension 34 of the conduit 32 is formed in the top 28, terminating in an orifice 35 in the lower front edge of the top cover. Orifice 35 interconnects to another orifice 36a and conduit or passage 36 formed in the front wall 16 of container 12 when the top is closed, terminating in an outlet or vent aperture 36b. A gasket or O- ring 37 seals the point of contact between 35 and 36a when top 22 is closed. A valve or plug means 38, fitted with a resilient or rubbery plug end 38a, seals the vent aperture 36b.
A second piercing tool 30 is mounted on the interior surface 14a of the base 14. A spring'loaded pressure plate and sealing means 40 of cylindrical or annular construction circumferentially surrounds the piercing tool 30 in sliding fashion, the tool 30 being fixed in the base by threaded engagement shown at 41 and the plate 40 being provided with a cylindrical aperture 42 for close sliding fit with the tool 30. A rubbery gasket or O-ring 44 is fitted into a circular groove 46 formed in the top surface 400 of plate 40. Pressure provided by a compressed spring bias or similar means 48 engaging and surrounding circular shoulder 45 on the under surface 40b of plate 40 and set in cavity 49 presses the plate 40 upwardly against the can bottom 24b, and the O-ring 44 carried on plate 40 makes a seal therewith when the can is inserted and held in the liquid dispensing position as shown in FIG. 3. FIG. 2 shows the plate 40 in its uncompressed position when the can is removed and the spring 48 is fully extended. In this position the plate 40 extends out of cavity 49 and the top surface 40a is almost even with the piercing tip 300 of tool 30. When can 24 is inserted in the container as shown in FIG. 2, and the container top 22 is closed, piercing tools 28 and 30 penetrate the top and bottom (24a and 24b) of the can 24 simultaneously at 27 and 31 as shown in FIG. 2, and the plate 40 is forced downward compressing spring 48 which then urges plate and gasket 44 against the bottom of the can for a liquid seal around piercing means 30, and the top 24b of the can 24 against the gasket 29 to form a seal around piercing tool 28 when cover 22 is closed.
As in the case of piercing tool 28, piercing tool 30 is provided with orifices 50 in the top 30a, a conduit or passage 52 in the tool 30 and a conduit 54 in the base 14 for carrying liquid contents of the can to the dispenser valve 58.
The valve mechanism 58 of FIGS. l-3 comprises a valve lever 60 terminating at the one end in a handle 62 and pivoted at a point 64 spaced from the other end 68 on pivot pin 66. The valve closure end 68 of lever 60 extends from the pivot point 64 to engage a resilient flexible extension 70 of generally tubular form, which extends from conduit 54 at outlet 54a to dispenser nozzle 72. The nozzle 72 is slidably carried adjacent outward surface 60a of lever 60 by U-shaped bracket 74 mounted thereon which loosely fits around nozzle 72.
When lever 60 is in the open position, illustrated by FIGS. 1 and 2, or is moved downwardly in the direction of arrow A of FIG. 2 of the drawings, the resilient tube 70 is open by its resilient nature and liquid 24c, held in can 24, is passed through conduits 54 and 52, tube 70, and is dispensed through nozzle 72. At the same time, valve plug 38 is disengaged from the aperture 36b permitting access of atmospheric air which passes through conduits 36, 34 and 32 to the interior of can 24 to equalize pressure in the can, and break any vacuum which will ordinarily occur when the liquid 240 in can 24 flows out by gravitational feed causing, in the absence of such a vent, a reduced pressure air dome which tends to halt or at least interfere with a smooth drainage of the liquid contents of the can.
When valve arm 60 is closed as shown in FIG. 3, the arm 60 is in the vertical position, essentially parallel to wall 16. The pivoting of lever 60 on pivot pin 66, which in turn, is mounted between bosses 75 on mounting bracket 76, causes lower extension 68 to engage the tube 70 and crimp it against pressure plate 77 of bracket 76 at point 78 as shown in FIG. 3, thereby closing tube 70 and stopping the flow of liquid therethrough. Dispenser nozzle 72 slides in bracket 74 to accommodate for the upward movement of arm 60 during the valve closing movement. At the same time, valve plug tip 38a of closure 38 seals orifice 36b preventing air from flowing through the conduits associated therewith and providing an additional seal since the flow of liquid from the can causes vacuum or reduced pressure in can 24 and stops the flow of liquid through 52 in case the valve crimping action fails or is incomplete. The air closure by plug 38 also cuts off free access of air to the can contents which frequently causes flavored beverages to become stale by oxidation, an undesirable factor in the dispensing of any beverage. Springclip 43 frictionally secures the lever 60 in place to prevent accidental falling and opening of the valve unit 58.
The operation of the unit is made simpler and more positive by the provision of a can locating and holding ring or groove 80 formed in cover 22. Groove or detent 80 secures the rim 24d of can 24 by first engaging the same at the rear portion of cover or top 22 close to hinge 26 and tends to direct the closing force of the cover 22 on the can 24 downward toward-the base and prevents slippage of the rim on the surface of cover 22. The groove also assists in locating the point of entry of piercing tool 28 on the top surface 24a of the can. A similar can rim locating groove 82 is formed in the interior base surface 14a of the container 12.
A separable latch 84 of conventional construction is mounted on the front wall 16 of the housing and top 22 to hold down the top 22, secure the can 24 against the spring pressure of the plate 40, provide the necessary resistance or back pressure for gasket seal at 44 and at 29 (against the bias or force of spring 48) and also to compress the gasket 37 and make a tight connection between conduits 34 and 36 where the orifices 35 and 36a are in register.
In the particular embodiment shown in FIGS. 13, the case or frame forms a cavity or chamber 13 which properly dimensioned can be used to hold a cooling medium such as chipped ice, cold water or even hot water in the event it is desired to keep a liquid (such as soup) in the can 24 warm.
FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of valve 88 which may be employed with the dispensers of FIG. 1 and FIG. 6. In this alternative valve form, conduit 36 and conduit 54 are operatively connected to valve chamber 88 and to rotating valve stem 89 which has passages 90 and 91 formed therein which simultaneously close and open to conduits 36 and 54 by rotary movement of handle 92.
FIG. 4 shows. still another simple embodiment of valve unit 93 representing a modification of valve 58 shown in FIGS. 1-3. Here the nozzle 94 does not ride on the pivot arm 95 as was the case of the valve in FIG. 1, but rather is stationarily mounted on wall 16 and the crimping action of tube 70 occurs as shown at point 97 by pivot of arm 95a against detent or pressure plate 96. Valve closure per se thus operates in the same manner as disclosed in FIGS. 1-3.
FIG. 6 is another embodiment of the dispenser of this invention reduced to a simple bracket. type of frame 98. The dispenser 98 employs the piercing units, conduits, valves and pressure means shown in FIGS. 1-3 but has no side walls, and thus, does not form a box-like container or receptacle. The front and rear walls,top and base, are abbreviated to bar-like elements. The rear wall 18 can be affixed to a wall by screws or other fasteners (not shown), if desired, or alternately, the base can be secured to a surface by brackets 99.
Generally, the apparatus of the present invention is designed to be used with a specific size of can, usually a larger size where a considerable amount of beverage is to be dispensed. This is necessitated by the fact that the piercing and sealing action of the unit requires a can of certain dimensions to reach the piercing and sealing units.
The advantage of the dispenser of the invention is that cans of liquid beverage can be placed in the dispenser unit, the cover or top 22 closed and latched, and in essentially a single act the can is pierced and ready to dispense its liquid contents immediately. When empty, the can is removed for disposal and a new can inserted. The dispenser readily lends itself for use in restaurants and other similar situations, as well as in home or wherever beverages are dispensed in a portionwise manner and it is desired to avoid transferring the liquid contents to another container.
A further advantage is seen in the sanitary aspects of the dispenser of the invention since the contents of the can are not transferred to other containers, especially of the open type which permit access to dust or other contaminants. The sealing feature aids in keeping the can contents relatively fresh due to minimal exposure to air which would contribute to ofi-flavors or tastes in some cases. These and other advantages make the dispenser unit an especially desirable item both from the point of view of cost savings and also of convenience as a means for dispensing liquids held in can type containers with a minimum of effort.
A further advantage is seen in the constructions where the container 12 serves as a receptacle for cooling or heat media.
Finally, the dispensing unit does not require the force of superatrnospheric gas pressure to drive the liquid from the container but rather relies on gravity feed which represents a simplification in equipment and a reduction of the cost of the dispensing operation.
What is claimed is:
1. A liquid dispenser unit adapted for use in the gravity dispensing of liquids held with can type containers which comprises:
a. a frame means for holding a can type container in a liquid dispensing situation, said frame comprising a base, front and rear walls and a top hingedly connected to the rear wall;
b. a first can piercing means mounted on the interior surface of said frame base between said front and rear walls and located to pierce the bottom of a container held in said frame, said piercing means having a fluid conducting passageway form ed therein; I
c. a second can piercing means mounted on the low er surface of the top of said frame located to pierce the top of a container held in the frame when the top is closed, said piercing means having a central passageway formed therein;
d. a valve means mounted on the front wall of said frame, including means for simultaneously separately closing and opening first and second valve passageways;
e. a first conduit means between said first valve passageway and said fluid conducting passageway, said first conduit being formed in the base of the frame means;
f. a second conduit means between said second valve passageway and said central passage formed in the front wall and top of the frame means; and
g. a pressure exerting means associated with said first piercing means, said means exerting a positive upward sealing pressure on the bottom of a can 'held in the frame to effectuate a seal between the said can and first and second piercing means when the top member is closed.
2. A dispenser according to claim 1 wherein said second conduit means comprises a first passageway formed in said top member extending between said second piercing means and an orifice formed in the lower surface of the forward edge of said top member and a second passageway formed in said front wall member extending from the valve means to an orifice in the top edge of the front wall, said orifices being so located as to be in communicating register and form the continu ous second conduit when said top is in the closed position.
3. dispenser according to claim 1 wherein said pressure exerting means comprises an annular shaped pressure plate having a central aperture formed therein, said aperture being in sliding engagement with the outer surface of said first piercing means, and wherein the base is formed with a circular cavity communicating with the interior surface thereof, generally centrally located therein between the front and rear walls of the dispenser and of a size and shape to accommodate said pressure plate, and the said piercing means being centrally located within said cavity.
4. A dispenser according to claim 3 wherein spring bias means are cooperatively disposed between the said pressure plate and the base of said cavity and circumferentially around said piercing means.
5. A dispenser according to claim 4 wherein said annular pressure plate has circular, centrally disposed gasket means on the top surface thereof and a centrally located cylindrical spring engaging shoulder on the bottom surface thereof.
6. A dispenser according to claim 3 wherein said frame means includes a pair of side walls extending between said front and rear walls and upwardly from the base to form a box-like receptacle for holding the can type container.
7. A dispenser according to claim 3 wherein said base, front and rear walls and top are of strip-like form and a container held therein extends laterally outward therefrom.
8. A valved dispenser-container according to claim 1 wherein said valve means comprises:
a. a pair of vertically spaced apart valve ports in the front wall of said frame means connected to the first and second valve passageways;
b. a valve arm bracket affixed to the surface of said front wall adjacent the lower one of said valve ports comprising a pair of horizontally spaced apart bosses extending outwardly from said surface having a pivot mounting thereon and a pressure plate extending from said surface spaced from and below said bosses;
c. a tubular resilient conduit extending from said lower valve port between the pivot mounting and the pressure plate and terminating in a dispensing nozzle;
d. a valve closure arm pivotally mounted between said bosses, the point of pivot being spaced inwardly from the one end of the arm to permit the said one end to pivot between a vertical position 8 parallel to the support surface, crimping said resilient tubular member against the pressure plate and closing the conduit thereof, and a horizontal position wherein the one end disengages from contact with said tubular member to permit the conduit to resiliently open;
e. a valve plug mounted on one surface of the other end of said pivot arm and located to close the upper valve port when said arm is pivoted to the vertical position parallel to said supporting surface, said valve plug being withdrawn and the valve port open when said valve arm is pivoted to a position away from the vertical.
9. A liquid dispenser apparatus for dispensing liquids held in can-type containers which comprises:
a. a frame for holding a can-type container having a base, front and rear walls affixed to the base, a pair of side walls extending between the front and rear walls and upwardly from the base to form a boxlike cavity, and a top hingedly secured to said rear wall;
b. a first, centrally apertured, piercing tool mounted on the interior upper surface of said base adapted to pierce the bottom of a container held in said 7 frame;
c. a second, centrally apertured, piercing tool mounted on the interior surface of the top of said frame and adapted to pierce the top of a container held therein when the said top frame is closed;
d. a valve means mounted on the exterior surface of said front wall, including means for simultaneously closing and opening first and second valve passages;
e. a first conduit means connected between said first valve passageway and the first piercing tool;
f. second conduit means connected between said second valve passageway and the second piercing tool, said second conduit comprising two separate connectable passageways formed respectively in the front wall and top and being interrupted by opening of the top and completed by closing the top;
g. a pressure exerting means associated with said first piercing means which exerts an upward pressure on the bottom of a can held in said frame when the top is in the closed position to effectuate a sealing action between the piercing tools and the can, said pressure exerting means including an annular plate having a central aperture formed therein which is slidably engaged with the outer surface of the first piercing tool and a spring means disposed between the bottom of said plate and the base, the plate being depressable against the tension of spring to additionally expose a portion of said piercing tool and permit penetration of a can bottom by said tool when the top is closed on a can type container.