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Capsular toothpaste container and dispenser

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Title: Capsular toothpaste container and dispenser.
Abstract: A toothpaste capsule which includes a capsular wall defining an interior storage space. The capsular wall can be composed of a material that allows the wall to be flexible and/or pliable, i.e., such that the capsular wall can be deformed. The capsular wall can also include a toothpaste dispensing pathway. The toothpaste dispensing pathway may be extendable through the capsular wall such that when a pressure at or exceeding a threshold pressure is applied to the toothpaste capsule, the toothpaste dispensing pathway can allow toothpaste to flow to an area exterior to the capsule. The toothpaste dispensing pathway may be defined by a predetermined area of weakness within the capsular wall, such as an incision in the capsular wall. ...


- Hartford, CT, US
Inventors: Henry W. Withers, Robert J. Denya
USPTO Applicaton #: #20060113333 - Class: 222541600 (USPTO) - 06/01/06 - Class 222 


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Related Patent Categories: Dispensing, With Frangible Closure For Outlet, About Line Or Point Of Weakness
The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20060113333, Capsular toothpaste container and dispenser.

Sular   Toothpaste   



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/001,427, filed on Nov. 30, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention generally relates to personal hygiene product containers and dispensers. In particular, the invention relates to a capsular container and dispenser for toothpaste.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Preventative dental care and maintenance is a hallmark of modern society. Intrinsically associated with dental care and maintenance is the use of toothpaste and toothbrushes by an almost universal population segment of persons in developed countries. A typical toothpaste formulation includes cleaning and polishing agents as well as a variety of other components such as fluoride, peroxides, stabilizers, viscosity modifying agents, preservatives, and water. Toothpaste is conventionally packaged in a tube container formed from a receptacle having an open cylindrical end and a necked dispensing end. The tube container is manufactured from plastic and/or metal materials. The empty tube container is filled with toothpaste by injecting toothpaste into the open cylindrical end. Once the empty tube container is filled the open cylindrical end is crimp sealed. The toothpaste is then dispensable through the necked dispensing end which typically has a screw type cap.

[0004] Conventional toothpaste tubes suffer from numerous problems. For example, conventional toothpaste tubes are made from a substantially non-degradable material which creates additional unwanted volume at waste management facilities. Because of the mixed use of materials in the tube, for example, plastic and metal, recycling of the materials is cost prohibitive.

[0005] Conventional toothpaste tubes often contain several fluid ounces of toothpaste. This quantity of toothpaste can yield tens or even hundreds of individual use portions. This large quantity of toothpaste often leads to waste since a volume of the toothpaste is virtually impossible to recover from the tube due to the configuration of the tube. Furthermore, if a user wishes to transport only a limited volume of toothpaste for purposes of a trip, the user is forced to transport much more toothpaste than will actually be needed.

[0006] In addition, conventional toothpaste tubes are susceptible to forming hardened toothpaste deposits in and around the dispensing end of the tube. These hardened toothpaste deposits must be removed by a user prior to dispensing fresh toothpaste onto a toothbrush. Over the life cycle of the toothpaste tube the discarded hardened toothpaste can amount to a substantial wasted volume of toothpaste product.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] Briefly stated, the present invention in a preferred form is a toothpaste capsule which includes a capsular wall defining an interior storage space. The capsular wall can be composed of a material that allows the wall to be flexible and/or pliable, i.e., such that the capsular wall can be deformed. The capsular wall may be made from materials that are readily degradable or dissolvable in aqueous solutions. The capsular wall can also include a toothpaste dispensing pathway. The toothpaste dispensing pathway may be extendable through the capsular wall such that when a pressure at or exceeding a threshold pressure is applied to the toothpaste capsule, the toothpaste dispensing pathway can allow toothpaste to flow to an area exterior to the capsule. The toothpaste dispensing pathway in the capsular wall may be defined by a predetermined area of weakness in the capsular wall. For instance, the predetermined area of weakness may include an incision, which may be defined by opposing walls in contact with each other such that the toothpaste capsule is substantially sealed.

[0008] The present invention also encompasses a toothpaste capsule and filling needle assembly which includes a toothpaste capsule having a capsular wall defining a storage space and a filling needle having an injection pathway and an injection orifice. The injection pathway of the filling needle may be fluidly connected to a toothpaste reservoir. The needle injection orifice can protrude into the capsular storage space. The interior storage space of the toothpaste capsule may in some cases be substantially filled with toothpaste.

[0009] An object of the invention is to provide a convenient, easy to use, portable and inexpensive toothpaste storage and dispensing device.

[0010] Another object of the invention is to provide a single or limited use capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device.

[0011] A further object of the invention is to provide a new, simplified, and improved toothpaste storage and dispensing device in substantially sealed soft capsular form.

[0012] In one embodiment of the invention, a toothpaste capsule is provided. The toothpaste capsule comprises a capsular wall defining an interior storage space substantially filled with toothpaste, and a predetermined area of weakness within the capsular wall, the predetermined area of weakness being substantially intact when the interior storage space of the toothpaste capsule is below a threshold pressure, thereby confining the toothpaste to the interior storage space, and the predetermined area of weakness rupturing to define an opening for dispensing the toothpaste when a first pressure at or greater than the threshold pressure is applied to the interior storage space of the toothpaste capsular wall.

[0013] In another embodiment of the invention, a package of toothpaste capsules is provided. The package of toothpaste capsules comprises a plurality of toothpaste capsules contained in said package, each of said capsules comprising a non-consumable capsular wall defining an interior storage space substantially filled with a single application of toothpaste, wherein the plurality of toothpaste capsules are not attached to one another in said package.

[0014] In another embodiment of the invention, a method of dispensing toothpaste is provided. The method comprises providing a toothpaste capsule comprising a wall defining an interior storage space substantially filled with toothpaste and a predetermined area of weakness within the wall, applying a pressure to at least a portion of the wall, causing the predetermined area of weakness to rupture in response to the pressure applied, thereby forming an opening in the wall, and allowing toothpaste to flow to an area exterior to the capsule through the opening and onto an oral hygiene device.

[0015] Other advantages and novel features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of various non-limiting embodiments of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying figures. In cases where the present specification and a document incorporated by reference include conflicting and/or inconsistent disclosure, the present specification shall control. If two or more documents incorporated by reference include conflicting and/or inconsistent disclosure with respect to each other, then the document having the later effective date shall control.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] Other objects and advantages of the invention will be evident to one of ordinary skill in the art from the following detailed description made with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0017] FIG. 1 is an end view of a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device having an incision consistent with the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 2 shows a portion of a toothpaste storage and dispensing device capsular wall which includes a toothpaste flow pathway consistent with the present invention;

[0019] FIG. 3 is a cut-away view of a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device and needle assembly which is consistent with the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 4A through 4C show cross sectional views of needle configurations consistent with the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 5 is a cut-away view of a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device and needle assembly which includes a toothpaste filling consistent with the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 6 shows a pyramidal shaped capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device consistent with the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 7 shows a portion of the capsular wall of a toothpaste storage and dispensing device having a toothpaste flow pathway filled with toothpaste consistent with the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 8 shows a rotary die press capable of producing capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing devices consistent with the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 9 shows a toothpaste fill reservoir, a reservoir line, a needle and a toothpaste storage and dispensing device assembly consistent with the present invention;

[0026] FIGS. 10A through 10D show various shape configurations of the capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device consistent with the present invention; and

[0027] FIGS. 11A through 11C respectively show a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device in a retentive tray, a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device being filled with toothpaste, and a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device substantially filled toothpaste consistent with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] With reference to the drawings wherein like numerals represent like components throughout the figures, a capsular toothpaste storage and dispensing device in accordance with the present invention is designated by the numeral 10. The toothpaste capsule 10, in one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 3 includes a capsular wall 12 which defines an interior storage space 14. The interior storage space may be substantially filled with toothpaste. In some embodiments, the interior storage space has a volume suitable for a single application of toothpaste. For instance, the interior storage space may have a volume of less than 2 mL, less than 1.5 mL, less than 1.0 mL, or less than 0.5 mL. In one set of embodiments, the interior storage space has a volume of between about 0.2 mL and about 2 mL, or between about 0.5 mL and about 1.5 mL, or between about 0.8 mL and about 1.2 mL.

[0029] The capsular wall 12 can be flexible, pliable, and/or otherwise deformable. For example, the capsular wall 12 can be made from a material such as natural or synthetic polymers which allow the capsular wall to exhibit soft pliable characteristics. The capsular wall 12, in one embodiment of the invention, is formed from, for example, gelatin, collagen, lactic acid, starch based plastics, water soluble biopolymers, and/or polylactic acid. In addition, synthetic plastics and/or silicones known in the container arts may be used. The capsular wall 12 may be formed of materials that are biodegradable and/or are readily dissolvable in aqueous solutions.

[0030] In one embodiment of the invention, the capsular wall is made of gelatin, wherein the gelatin capsule is formed using a rotary die press as shown in FIG. 8. The rotary die press 20 utilizes two gelatin ribbons 22. The gelatin ribbons are fed through a pair of dies 24. The pair of dies 24 have cavities 26 which are filled with toothpaste by an injection needle 28. The toothpaste is fed to the injection needle 28 from a toothpaste reservoir 29. The pair of dies 24 form the filled toothpaste capsule 10. It should be understood that other methods of manufacturing the toothpaste capsule may be used. For example, a two-part capsule and a capsule formed of solidified liquid may be utilized.

[0031] In some embodiments, the capsular wall may comprise a predetermined area of weakness. The predetermined area of weakness may, in some instances, form a toothpaste (or other product; when "toothpaste" is used herein it is to be understood that other products can be used) flow path upon application of sufficient pressure. For example, the predetermined area of weakness may be substantially intact and able to confine toothpaste under typical conditions of handling and sale, when the interior storage space of the toothpaste capsule is below a threshold pressure, thereby confining the toothpaste to the interior storage space. However, upon application of a pressure at or greater than a threshold pressure to the interior storage space of the toothpaste capsule wall, the predetermined area of weakness may rupture to define an opening for dispensing the toothpaste. In some instances, the toothpaste capsule is constructed such that deformation of the capsule wall can cause pressure within the interior storage space to meet or exceed a threshold pressure, thereby rupturing the wall and dispensing the toothpaste.

[0032] Typically, the threshold pressure is easily applicable by the normal grasping strength of a human, but higher than that applied during normal, pre-use handling. For instance, the threshold pressure may be less than or equal to about 50 psi, less than or equal to about 30 psi, less than or equal to about 20 psi, less than or equal to about 15 psi, less than or equal to about 10 psi, less than or equal to about 5 psi, or less than or equal to about 3 psi. In other embodiments, the threshold pressure may be a particular pressure that is between about 3 psi and about 40 psi, between about 5 psi and about 20 psi, between about 7 psi and about 15 psi, or between about 10 psi and about 15 psi. In all cases where "psi" is used, this is measured relative to atmospheric pressure. E.g., 5 psi is 5 pounds pressure per square inch relative to (above) atmospheric pressure. Generally, upon application of a pressure less than the threshold pressure, the capsule wall will not rupture, and upon application of a pressure equal to the threshold pressure, the capsule wall will not rupture at regions other than at the predetermined area of weakness.

[0033] The threshold pressure is selected to be greater than that associated with typical packaging and handling of the capsule prior to the use of the toothpaste in an oral hygiene setting. That is, the capsule should not rupture during capsule preparation, packaging, shipping, and handling by retailers, wholesalers, and the consumer prior to use. The threshold pressure is selected to be readily applicable by a user of the capsule in an oral hygiene setting. For example, an adult and/or child should be able to grasp the capsule and, within relatively easy squeezing with an unaided hand, should be able to rupture the wall to define an opening for dispensing the toothpaste onto an oral hygiene device such as a toothbrush. Those of ordinary skill in the art can readily select a threshold pressure based upon these criteria.

[0034] Advantageously, in contrast to toothpaste applicators in which a cap must be removed, or a portion of the applicator must be torn before toothpaste can be dispensed, certain embodiments of the present invention may require only a single application of force to dispense toothpaste from a toothpaste capsule.

[0035] In one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 2, the capsular wall 12 forms a toothpaste flow path 16, which may be defined by a predetermined area of weakness within the capsular wall. For instance, the flow path 16 may be defined by a first wall 17 and a second wall 18 within the capsular wall. When the capsular wall is in an undeformed state (i.e., when the interior storage space of the toothpaste capsule is below a threshold pressure) the first wall 17 and the second wall 18 of the flow path 16 may be substantially in contact with each other. As the capsular wall 12 of a toothpaste filled toothpaste capsule 10 is deformed, (i.e., by applying a grasping pressure of a human) pressure is generated inside the storage space 14. When the pressure reaches or exceeds the threshold pressure of capsular wall 12, the first wall 17 can separate from the second wall 18 of the toothpaste flow pathway 16. Toothpaste 19 may then be allowed to extrude and/or to flow through the toothpaste flow pathway 16.

[0036] Another aspect of the invention includes a package of toothpaste capsules. The package of toothpaste capsules may comprise a plurality of toothpaste capsules contained in the package, each of the capsules comprising a non-consumable capsular wall defining an interior storage space essentially filled with a single application of toothpaste. In one embodiment, the plurality of toothpaste capsules are not attached to one another in said package (i.e., via the capsular walls). The toothpaste capsules may be arranged in any suitable arrangement inside the package. For instance, the toothpaste capsules may be arranged randomly, positioned in a tray within the package, or may be arranged according to the shape of the package the capsules are contained in.

[0037] The package of toothpaste capsules may comprise a number of (optionally non-interconnected) toothpaste capsules. For instance, the package may include at least 3, at least 7, at least 15, at least 20, at least 50, or at least 100 toothpaste capsules. Typically, each toothpaste capsule in the package is constructed and arranged for a single application of toothpaste. For instance, each toothpaste capsule may have an interior storage volume of less than 2 mL, less than 1.5 mL, less than 1.0 mL, or less than 0.5 mL.

[0038] In another aspect of the invention, a method of dispensing toothpaste is provided. The method comprises providing a toothpaste capsule comprising a wall defining an interior storage space substantially filled with toothpaste and a predetermined area of weakness within the wall, and applying a pressure to at least a portion of the wall to rupture the wall and release toothpaste. Pressure may be applied by applying a squeezing force, for instance, a squeezing force within the normal grasping strength of a human. In some cases, application of the pressure of less than or equal to about 50 psi, less than or equal about 30 psi, less than or equal about 20 psi, less than or equal to about 15 psi, less than or equal to about 10 psi, less than or equal to about 7 psi, less than or equal to about 5 psi, or less than or equal to about 3 psi, causes the predetermined area of weakness to rupture in response to the pressure applied, and may cause the formation of an opening in the wall. This opening can allow toothpaste to flow to an area exterior to the capsule through the opening and onto an oral hygiene device, such as a toothbrush. In another set of embodiments according to this aspect, pressure is applied in a range of between about 3 psi and about 40 psi, between about 5 psi and about 20 psi between about 7 psi and about 15 psi, or between about 10 psi and about 15 psi.

[0039] In another embodiment, the threshold pressure may be greater than that associated with typical human grasp, and the capsule may be designed to be inserted into a device (e.g., a toy or other fanciful device) which, when activated by a human (e.g., a lever is squeezed or the like), through a leverage force a pressure is applied to the capsule that is greater than typical human grasping force, and toothpaste then is dispensed out of the device and onto an oral hygiene device. Those of ordinary skill in the art can readily select a pressure suitable for this type of use, as well, and such a threshold pressure for this use can fall within a range of from about 5 psi to about 150 psi, or from about 10 to about 100 psi, or from about 15 to about 60 psi, or from about 20 to about 40 psi.

[0040] In one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 3, the capsular wall 12 is associated with a needle 30. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, needle 30 includes a flow path 34 which can extend through the center of the needle. At one end of the needle 30 is a tip 31. The needle tip 31 may be adjacent to an orifice 32 that is in fluid communication with the flow path 34.

[0041] In one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 4A, the needle has cutting structures. These cutting structures may extend away from the flow path 34 of the needle and form cutting splines 33. In one embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 4B, the needle cutting splines 33a may comprise a pair of cutters which extend away from the flow path opening 34 in opposite directions. In another embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 4C, the needle 30b does not include cutting splines.

[0042] As shown in FIG. 3, the capsular toothpaste capsule 10 and needle 30 assembly can be formed by a needle 30 being forced through the capsular wall 12 such that the orifice 32 and associated tip 31 are entirely contained within the storage space 14.

[0043] Forcing a needle 30 having cutting splines 33 through the capsular wall 12 can create, in one embodiment of the invention, a predetermined area of weakness within the capsular wall, i.e., defining a toothpaste flow pathway 16. The toothpaste flow pathway 16 may have various configurations which may include a center 42. If the needle 30 includes cutting splines 33, the toothpaste flow pathway 16 may include slits extending away from the center 42 which are positionally related to the position of the cutting splines 33 that formed the slits.

[0044] The toothpaste flow pathway 16 can extend from the outer surface 40 of the capsular wall 12 to an inner surface 41 of the capsular wall 12. It should be noted that if the needle 30 is not forced entirely across the capsular wall 12, then a predetermined area of weakness may be formed between the interior storage space 14 and the end of the partial toothpaste flow pathway formed by the partially inserted needle. The predetermined area of weakness can rupture when sufficient pressure (i.e., a pressure greater than a threshold pressure of the predetermined area of weakness) is generated within the interior storage space 14. A sufficient pressure may be applied, for instance, by deformation of the capsular wall 12. The rupturing of the predetermined area of weakness can allow toothpaste to be extruded from the interior storage space 14 to an oral hygiene device.

[0045] In one embodiment of the invention, the capsular wall is formed from a gelatin solution that is plasticized with, for example, propylene glycol, sorbitol, and/or glycerin. The capsular toothpaste capsule can be formed, filled and sealed in one continuous operation, i.e., utilizing the rotary die incapsulator press as shown in FIG. 8.

[0046] The dimensions of the toothpaste capsule 10 may, for example, be in the range of about 1/8.sup.th of an inch to about 2 inches in length, width, height, and/or diameter. The capsular wall 12, in one embodiment of the invention, may be formed into a variety of shapes. For example, the toothpaste capsule may be pyramidal 10a as shown in FIG. 6, spherical 10b as shown in FIG. 10A, ovoid 10c as shown in FIG. 10B, cubic 10d as shown in FIG. 10C, or diamond shaped 10e as shown in FIG. 10D.

[0047] Filling an empty capsular toothpaste capsule 10 can be accomplished by placing the toothpaste capsule 10 in a holding apparatus 50 as shown in FIG. 11. The holding apparatus 50 maintains the capsular wall 12 in a stable orientation such that a needle 30 can be forced through the capsular wall 12 into the interior storage space 14. The holding apparatus 50 may also retain the toothpaste capsule 10 as the needle 30 is withdrawn from the capsular wall 12. Once inside the interior storage space 14, toothpaste 19 can be injected into the interior storage space 14.

[0048] In one embodiment of the invention, the gas inside an empty toothpaste capsule 10f, as shown in FIG. 11A, can be vented as the toothpaste 19 is injected. Venting can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For example, as shown in FIG. 11B, the cutting splines 33 may be used to provide a ventilation pathway between the interior storage space 14 and an exterior of the toothpaste capsule 10. This may be accomplished by slightly rotating the needle 30 after insertion into the interior storage space 14. After filling the toothpaste capsule 10, needle 30 is withdrawn, as shown in FIG. 11C, and toothpaste capsule 10 may have a substantially sealed toothpaste flow pathway 16. As shown in FIG. 1, the toothpaste flow pathway 16 can be substantially sealed by first wall 17 and second wall 18 being in close proximity and/or in contact with one another. For example, the physical characteristics of capsular wall 12 may be selected for their elastic or semi-elastic properties. These properties can enable first wall 17 and second wall 18 to spring back into contact after having been formed by the cutting splines.

[0049] While preferred embodiments of the foregoing invention have been set forth for the purposes of illustration, the foregoing description should not be deemed a limitation of the invention herein. Accordingly, various modifications, adaptations and alternatives may occur to one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20060113333 A1
Publish Date
06/01/2006
Document #
File Date
04/20/2014
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
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Drawings
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