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Patentsuche

  1. Erweiterte Patentsuche
VeröffentlichungsnummerUS20130341365 A1
PublikationstypAnmeldung
AnmeldenummerUS 13/986,430
Veröffentlichungsdatum26. Dez. 2013
Eingetragen2. Mai 2013
Prioritätsdatum30. Mai 2012
Veröffentlichungsnummer13986430, 986430, US 2013/0341365 A1, US 2013/341365 A1, US 20130341365 A1, US 20130341365A1, US 2013341365 A1, US 2013341365A1, US-A1-20130341365, US-A1-2013341365, US2013/0341365A1, US2013/341365A1, US20130341365 A1, US20130341365A1, US2013341365 A1, US2013341365A1
ErfinderPatrick C. Ryan
Ursprünglich BevollmächtigterPatrick C. Ryan
Zitat exportierenBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Externe Links: USPTO, USPTO-Zuordnung, Espacenet
Multiport valved dispenser for toothpaste and the like
US 20130341365 A1
Zusammenfassung
A multiport valved dispenser for a viscous material such as toothpaste is provided. A first member is attached to a tube of toothpaste, and a second member is turned with respect to the first so as to align mating ports therein, and thus to allow flow of the toothpaste through a single dispensing nozzle at any given time.
Bilder(5)
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Ansprüche(35)
What is claimed is:
1. A valved multiport dispenser for toothpaste or the like, comprising:
first and second members, mounted to one another for relative rotation about an axis,
a first one of said members adapted to be secured to a dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like, and having an internal passageway connected to said dispensing opening;
one of said members defining a plurality of dispensing nozzles, whereby a plurality of users may each be provided with an individually-assigned dispensing nozzle;
the one of said members being secured to the tube of toothpaste being rotated with respect to the other of said members so as to selectively connect one of said dispensing nozzles to the internal passageway and thereby to the dispensing opening.
2. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said first member and said second member are generally tubular in form and are coaxial, such that one of said members rotates within the other, and said dispensing nozzles are formed in the wall of the outer member.
3. The dispenser of claim 2, wherein the inner member is secured to a dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like, and has said internal passageway connected to said dispensing opening.
4. The dispenser of claim 3, wherein the inner member is threadedly secured to the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
5. The dispenser of claim 3, wherein the inner member is integral with the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
6. The dispenser of claim 2, wherein the outer member is secured to a dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like, and has said internal passageway connected to said dispensing opening.
7. The dispenser of claim 6, wherein the outer member is threadedly secured to the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
8. The dispenser of claim 6, wherein the outer member is integral with the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
9. The dispenser of claim 2, wherein the outer member rotates with respect to the inner member and the tube of toothpaste so as to selectively align one of a plurality of dispensing nozzles extending through the wall of the outer member with one of a corresponding plurality of ports extending through the wall of the inner member.
10. The dispenser of claim 9, wherein said dispensing nozzles comprise tubular members extending from the wall of said outer member.
11. The dispenser of claim 10, wherein caps are provided to seal said tubular members.
12. The dispenser of claim 11, wherein said caps are retained by living hinges molded integrally with said outer member, tubular members, and caps.
13. The dispenser of claim 1, further comprising a dental floss dispenser comprising components defining a compartment for receiving a spool of dental floss, a pivot means for accepting said spool and allowing it to be rotated by tension applied to the dental floss, and a cutter for cutting off a desired length of dental floss.
14. The dispenser of claim 13, wherein said components defining a compartment of said dental floss dispenser are molded integrally together with one of said first and second members.
15. The dispenser of claim 1, where the one of said members that is not secured to said tube of toothpaste comprises a gripping handle for being gripped by a user to rotate one member with respect to the other, and wherein said gripping handle is sized so as to preclude said dispensing nozzles from contacting a flat surface on which the assembly of said dispenser and a tube of toothpaste are disposed.
16. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said first and second members are provided with cooperating detent structures, defining predetermined relative positions of the first and second members, whereby as the user turns one member with respect to the other in order to align a dispensing nozzle with the internal passageway, a tactile sensation is felt as a dispensing nozzle is aligned with the internal passageway.
17. The dispenser of claim 16, where one of said predetermined relative positions of the first and second members is a safety position where no one of the dispensing nozzles is aligned with the internal passageway.
18. The dispenser of claim 16, wherein said first and second members comprise cooperating indicia whereby a user is provided with a visible indication that a particular one of the dispensing nozzles is aligned with the internal passageway.
19. The dispenser of claim 18, wherein said cooperating indicia comprise identifiers disposed on an inner one of said first and second members, one of said identifiers being visible through windows in an outer one of said first and second members when one of the dispensing nozzles is aligned with the internal passageway.
20. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said first one of said members adapted to be secured to a dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like, and having an internal passageway connected to said dispensing opening, comprises internal threads for being threaded onto external threads of a preexisting threaded orifice in the tube of toothpaste, whereby the dispenser can be threaded onto the external threads of the preexisting threaded orifice, and further comprises structure for thereafter being retained by the tube of toothpaste such that the other one of said members can be rotated in either direction with respect to the first one of said members without unthreading said first one of said members from the tube of toothpaste.
21. The dispenser of claim 20, wherein said structure comprises asymmetrical axial ridges cut into the threads, such that the internal threads can be turned in a first direction onto the external threads of said preexisting threaded orifice but cannot be turned in the opposite direction, preventing removal of said first one of said members from said preexisting threaded orifice.
22. The dispenser of claim 20, wherein said structure comprises a ring of teeth surrounding the portion of said the first one of said members comprising said internal threads and extending axially downwardly therefrom, whereby as said internal threads are threaded onto said external threads, said teeth engage the material of said tube of toothpaste surrounding said threaded orifice, resisting removal of said first one of said members therefrom.
23. The dispenser of claim 22, wherein said teeth of said ring of teeth are asymmetrical, each having an inclined side ramp surface extending in the direction of clockwise rotation and a substantially axially extending surface, said surfaces of each tooth meeting at a sharp edge, whereby as said internal threads are threaded onto said external threads, one or more of said edges engage the material the material of said tube of toothpaste surrounding said threaded orifice, resisting removal of said first one of said members therefrom.
24. The dispenser of claim 23, wherein the material of said tube of toothpaste surrounding said threaded orifice is formed to define an approximately frustoconical surface, and wherein said edges of said teeth are inclined so as engage said frustoconical surface over substantially the length of the edges.
25. The dispenser of claim 23, wherein the material of said tube of toothpaste surrounding said threaded orifice is formed to define an approximately frustoconical surface, and wherein said edges of said teeth are shaped to define sharp points engaging said frustoconical surface.
26. The dispenser of claim 20, wherein said structure comprises one or more elongated members extending into the threaded orifice so as to engage its inner surface, and/or the inner surface of the tube of toothpaste.
27. The dispenser of claim 26, wherein said elongated members are fingers molded integrally with the first one of said members, comprising retaining lips fitting over the joint between the interior of the threaded orifice of the tube of toothpaste and the body thereof.
28. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said first one of said members adapted to be secured to a dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like, and having an internal passageway connected to said dispensing opening, is a disc-like member having a distal surface comprising means for being secured to said dispensing opening, and a proximal surface, said first one of said members further defining an exit opening of said internal passageway formed in said distal surface, and wherein said second one of said members is a second disc-like member secured to said first one of said members by means for permitting relative rotation thereof, and wherein said second one of said members defines said plurality of dispensing nozzles, and comprises passageways connecting said dispensing nozzles to inlets in a surface of said second member juxtaposed to said proximal surface of said first member, such that by rotation of said second member with respect to said first member, a selected one of said inlets in said second member can be aligned with said exit opening in said first member, thereby establishing a flow path between said dispensing opening of said tube and a selected one of said dispensing nozzles.
29. The dispenser of claim 28, wherein said dispensing nozzles comprise tubular members extending from the wall of said second member.
30. The dispenser of claim 29, wherein caps are provided to seal said tubular members.
31. The dispenser of claim 30, wherein said caps are retained by living hinges molded integrally with said second member, tubular members, and caps.
32. The dispenser of claim 28, further comprising a dental floss dispenser comprising components defining a compartment for receiving a spool of dental floss, a pivot means for accepting said spool and allowing it to be rotated by tension applied to the dental floss, and a cutter for cutting off a desired length of dental floss.
33. The dispenser of claim 32, wherein said components defining a compartment of said dental floss dispenser are molded integrally together with second member.
34. The dispenser of claim 28, wherein said first one of said members is threadedly secured to the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
35. The dispenser of claim 28, wherein said first one of said members is integral with the dispensing opening of a tube of toothpaste or the like.
Beschreibung
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority from Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/689,091, filed May 30, 2012.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates to a multiport valved dispenser for toothpaste and the like, whereby a number of persons, such as the members of a family, can share a tube of toothpaste without spreading germs by way of their respective toothbrushes all contacting the same orifice in a tube of toothpaste.
  • BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    It will be apparent that if the members of a family all dispense toothpaste onto their toothbrushes from a single tube of toothpaste by way of the single orifice that is provided, a substantial risk of spread of disease is presented; that is, if one family member contacts the orifice of the tube of toothpaste with his or her toothbrush, he or she may leave germs, bacteria or the like thereon which can then be picked up undesirably by the next family member to use the toothpaste, and so on. Of course this possibility could be eliminated if each family member had his or her own tube of toothpaste, but this might be unworkably complicated in many families.
  • [0004]
    It is known to provide a multi-ported dispenser to be fitted to a tube of toothpaste, such that if a family were all using toothpaste from a single tube, each would have a unique dispensing orifice, so as to limit the spread of germs and the like. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,591,053 to Thomas, U.S. Pat. No. 6,253,958 to Coletti, U.S. Pat. No. 5,505,337 to Littman et al, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,193,114 to Hopkins, and Shih application 2011/0031274, all generally intended for this purpose. However, these patents simply show manifolds with plural dispensing orifices, each separately capped, and have various defects. For example, the patents mentioned all include rather large-capacity manifolds which would be filled with toothpaste; presuming that the dispensers were discarded along with the toothpaste tube when the latter was emptied, this quantity of the toothpaste would be wasted. Further, these devices all show separable caps for the various dispensing orifices, which caps are liable to be lost; if the caps are lost, or if the caps are not securely attached to the orifices (both likely in households with children), squeezing of the tube is likely to cause toothpaste to be squirted from several of the orifices, making a mess. Absent some positive means of securing the caps to the orifices, they could become loose during travel, making a mess.
  • [0005]
    According to an important aspect of the present invention, a multiport dispenser for toothpaste is provided that can be affixed to a standard tube of toothpaste by a threaded connection to the tube's usual opening, which comprises external threads to which a cap may be affixed or removed, as desired. The individual ports of the dispenser are selectively connected to the interior of the tube of toothpaste by valves formed integrally with the dispenser in such a way that only one port is operably connected to the tube of toothpaste at any given time, limiting the potential for messiness. Preferably, a “safety” position is provided, in which none of the ports are connected to the tube of toothpaste, so as to avoid accidental discharge of toothpaste. Further, the internal volume of the dispenser of the invention is limited, such that a very limited amount of toothpaste is wasted, again presuming that the dispenser is discarded along with the tube of toothpaste when the tube is emptied. Still further, caps for the individual ports are attached to the dispenser by “living hinges” so that they cannot be lost. Other features of the invention will be apparent from the discussion below.
  • [0006]
    Prior art references located in a search of the invention show various valve arrangements for multiport dispensers of various kinds, but none show or suggest the structure of the dispenser of the present invention. For example, Balister U.S. Pat. No. 3,094,283 shows a lubricator for directing variously-shaped streams of lubricant toward a workpiece and a tool. The lubricator comprises a disc-shaped inner member having a radially-extending passageway connecting a centrally-located port for connection to a source of lubricant to an aperture at the edge of the disc-shaped member. An outer member having a flange that fits over the edge of the disc-shaped member has a plurality of orifices of different areas and shapes formed therein; by orienting one of these with the aperture, a stream of desired volume and shape is selected.
  • [0007]
    Ennis, III et al U.S. Pat. No. 5,290,258 shows a syringe for administering multiple doses of a medicament. A syringe has a port located off center that can be sequentially aligned with nozzles in a cap rotatable with respect to the syringe.
  • [0008]
    Gach U.S. Pat. No. 4,699,299 shows a closure for a bottle of, e.g., a foodstuff such as catsup or syrup, which allows differently-sized streams of the product to be dispensed. An inner cap that is apparently to be threaded onto the bottle at manufacture of the product has a first orifice formed off-center in its outer surface. An outer cap rotatably fixed to the inner cap has a plurality of differently-sized orifices formed around its surface, so that one of the differently-sized orifices can be selectively aligned with the orifice in the inner cap, controlling the effective size of the discharge passage. Iba et al U.S. Pat. No. 5,730,322 is generally similar.
  • [0009]
    Getsy U.S. Pat. No. 7,766,197 shows a closure for a squeezable container of a viscous comestible such as cheese, peanut butter, or jelly, wherein a disc having a plurality of differently-shaped orifices therein can be rotated about an axis off-center with respect to the closure, so that one of the differently-shaped orifices can be selectively aligned with a central orifice in the closure. Mengeu U.S. Pat. No. 7,513,399, directed to the same goal, shows an outer disc with differently-shaped orifices spaced around its center. The orifices are selectively connected to a central orifice in a lower cap portion by radially-extending passages formed in the outer disc.
  • [0010]
    Also of interest is U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,085 to Brun, Jr. which shows a recyclable plastic container for a soft drink or the like, wherein an inner cap has a number of ports formed therein; an outer cap has a single port formed in it. The outer cap is indexed to the inner cap, so that the outer cap can be rotated with respect to the inner cap and the ports in the inner cap aligned in sequence with that of the outer cap. This allows a bottler to fill the container through a first one of the ports in the inner cap, and rotate the outer cap to seal the container. The consumer then turns the outer cap to align the port therein with one of the ports in the inner cap, opening the container, and can turn the outer cap further or in the opposite direction to reseal the container.
  • [0011]
    Several of the above references, e.g., Ennis, Brun and Balister, show ratcheting and/or indexing connection between the rotatable components, to control the alignment of the various ports to one another.
  • [0012]
    As mentioned above, according to the present invention, a multiport valved dispenser for a viscous material such as toothpaste is provided. Several embodiments are disclosed in detail. In each, a first member is attached to a tube of toothpaste, and a second member is turned with respect to the first so as to align mating ports therein, and thus to allow flow of the toothpaste.
  • [0013]
    In a first construction of a first embodiment, a generally tubular central member is threaded onto the tube of toothpaste at one end. A plurality of ports are formed in the wall of the tubular central member, spaced axially therealong and radially therearound. A tubular outer member fits over and can be rotated with respect to the inner member, and has a like number of ports and dispensing nozzles formed therein, also spaced axially therealong and radially therearound, but differently than the ports in the inner member, such that by turning the outer member with respect to the inner member, only one pair of corresponding ports in the inner and outer members is aligned at any time, so that toothpaste can be dispensed from only one nozzle at any given time, limiting messiness. The dispenser may also provide a “safety” position wherein none of the ports are connected to the tube of toothpaste, so that even if the caps become detached, and the tube squeezed, as might occur during travel, no toothpaste can escape to make a mess. In an alternative construction, the outer member can be secured to the tube of toothpaste and the inner member turned therewithin.
  • [0014]
    In a second embodiment, a disc-like lower member is secured to the tube of toothpaste, and has an internal passageway formed therein extending from a central location in communication with the tube of toothpaste to an off-axis port in an upper surface. A disc-like upper member mounted to the lower member for relative rotation has a number of internal passageways, extending from entry orifices in a lower surface of the upper member that can be selectively aligned with the off-axis port in the upper surface of the lower member, to dispensing nozzles in the peripheral edge surface of the outer member. Accordingly, as the upper member is rotated with respect to the lower member, only one of the entry orifices in the upper member is aligned with the off-axis port in the lower member, so that toothpaste can flow through only one of the internal passageways in the upper member at any given time. In an alternative construction of this embodiment, the passageway in the lower member can extend to its periphery, and the upper member comprise a downwardly extending skirt with the dispensing nozzles formed therein. As above, a “safety” position may be provided wherein none of the dispensing nozzles are connected to the tube of toothpaste.
  • [0015]
    In each embodiment, the dispensers of the invention principally comprise components molded of plastic, which has numerous advantages, both in terms of manufacturing convenience and cost, and in that the resilient characteristics of the plastic can be employed to yield useful results. For example, the dispensing nozzles are provided with caps secured to the corresponding member by “living hinges”, typically integrally-molded small strips of plastic that are sufficiently flexible to allow the cap to be repetitively moved between open and closed positions without failure. The resilient quality of the plastic can also be employed to allow the dispensers to be assembled in “snap-together” fashion, and to provide detent mechanisms, so that as the user rotates one member with respect to the other, a tactile “click” sensation is felt as the ports are aligned with one another.
  • [0016]
    The dispensing nozzles preferably comprise short tubular members so that the toothpaste is dispensed from orifices spaced away from the body of the dispenser, reducing messiness.
  • [0017]
    In a still further preferred embodiment, a dispenser for dental floss can be combined with the dispenser for toothpaste; from the user's perspective, this will simplify organization of these items, and will be advantageous in packing for travel and similar circumstances. It will also encourage better dental hygiene, as the continued presence of the floss together with the toothpaste will encourage use of the floss.
  • [0018]
    In each embodiment, the dispenser of the invention is designed with use by households with small children in mind. To the end of encouraging good dental hygiene in children, the individual dispensing nozzles may be identified with colored beads, numbers or like indicia exposed when a particular pair of ports is aligned for dispensing toothpaste, so that children can readily identify which dispensing nozzle is “theirs”, again so that the child will use the correct port to dispense toothpaste, limiting the spread of germs and the like.
  • [0019]
    Further features and advantages of the invention will appear as the discussion below proceeds.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0020]
    The invention will be better understood if reference is made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • [0021]
    FIG. 1 is a part cross-section, part elevation of a first embodiment of the invention;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 1(A) is a partial view corresponding to FIG. 1, showing an alternative wherein a dental floss dispenser 60 is incorporated with the toothpaste dispenser of the invention;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 2 is a cross-section taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 3 is a partial cross-section taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 4 is a part cross-section, part elevation of a second embodiment of the invention;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 5 is a cross-section taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 6 is a part cross-section, part elevation of an alternative construction of the second embodiment of the invention, illustrating certain further optional features and advantages;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 7 is a cross-section taken along the line 7-7 of FIG. 6;
  • [0029]
    FIG. 8 shows an alternative construction for the embodiment of FIG. 1;
  • [0030]
    FIG. 9 is a partial cross-section taken along the line 9-9 of FIG. 8;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 10 is a partial cross-section taken along the line 10-10 of FIG. 8;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 11 is a partial cross-section taken along the line 11-11 of FIG. 8;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 12 is a view corresponding to part of FIG. 8, showing an alternative method for securing the dispenser to a tube of toothpaste;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 13 is a cross-section taken along line 13-13 of FIG. 12;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 14, comprising FIGS. 14 (a)-(c), shows a partial cross-sectional view of an alternative construction applicable to several embodiments of the invention; and
  • [0036]
    FIG. 15 is a part cross-section, part elevation of an alternative construction of the second embodiment of the invention, illustrating certain further optional features and advantages.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0037]
    As discussed above, the toothpaste dispenser of the invention is intended to be attached to a tube of toothpaste, typically by way of the conventional threaded connection provided for the cap of the tube, and to provide several individual dispensing nozzles for the dispensing of toothpaste, so that different persons, e.g., the members of a family, need not all have separate tubes of toothpaste in order to avoid touching the same dispensing nozzle with the toothbrushes of different individuals. Further, it is desired that the these multiple ports be valved, so that squeezing the tube of toothpaste does not result in the toothpaste being squirted from plural orifices, making a mess. It is further desired that the individual nozzles be closed when not in use, in order to keep the dispensing nozzles free from germs, by caps or other devices that are connected to the dispenser, so as not to be lost. Still further, it is preferred that as the dispenser is operated to align the discharge nozzles in turn with communicating passageways, a positive “click” or detent be detected by the user, simplifying alignment. Finally, in a particularly preferred embodiment, a dental floss dispenser is incorporated with the toothpaste dispenser, so as to bring these commonly-used items together in a convenient package.
  • [0038]
    FIGS. 1-3 show an embodiment of the invention in which the multi-port valve function is provided by concentric inner and outer tubes 10 and 12 respectively. The outer tube 12 is provided with a plurality of short tubes, forming dispensing nozzles 14. The outer tube 12 can be rotated with respect to the inner tube 10 so that one of dispensing nozzles 14 is aligned with one of a like number of exit orifices 16 in the inner tube 10. As illustrated, the exit orifices 16 and the dispensing nozzles 14 are both disposed along the respective tubes at the same longitudinal spacings, but are disposed at radially different points around the circumference of the respective tubes, so that only one dispensing nozzle 14 lines up with an exit orifice 16 at any given time. This ensures that when the toothpaste tube 20 is squeezed to dispense toothpaste, it is forced out of only one dispensing nozzle 14, limiting messiness. Preferably, there is provided a “safety” position wherein none of the orifices are aligned with a dispensing nozzle, so that even if the tube is squeezed inadvertently, as might occur during travel, no toothpaste is dispensed, limiting the potential for messiness.
  • [0039]
    As illustrated, the inner tube can be threadedly connected to the toothpaste tube 20, at the threaded connection normally provided for the cap of the tube, so that the dispenser of the invention is useful with conventional tubes of toothpaste. In the embodiment shown, the outer tube 12 is accordingly rotated with respect to the inner tube 10 and the tube of toothpaste 20. In an alternative arrangement, shown by FIGS. 8-11, the outer tube 12 can be threaded onto the tube of toothpaste, in which case the inner tube 10 would be rotated with respect to the outer tube 12 and the tube of toothpaste. A snap-on connection of inner or outer tube to the tube of toothpaste is also possible; see FIG. 15, discussed below. The dispenser of the invention could also be supplied together with the tube of toothpaste, possibly with one of the inner and outer members integral with the tube. See FIGS. 6 and 7.
  • [0040]
    A gripping handle 22 may be provided to make it easier for the user to turn one tube with respect to the other. Preferably, this handle 22 is circular, hexagonal, or the like, and its diameter sufficient that when the assembly of the tube of toothpaste and the dispenser of the invention is laid on a counter or the like, the dispensing nozzles 14 do not touch the surface, further improving sanitation.
  • [0041]
    As discussed above, it is desired that each of the dispensing nozzles 14 be provided with a cap, for sanitation, and that the cap be retained so as to not be lost. Further, it is preferred that the dispensing nozzles 14 each include a short tubular member 14 a, so that as the user applies toothpaste to his or her toothbrush, and then wipes the toothbrush against the nozzle, as is naturally done, the toothpaste does not become smeared over the whole of the dispenser. Accordingly, each of the dispensing nozzles 14 is provided with a snap-on cap 24 retained by a flexible “living hinge” 26 formed integrally with the short tubular member 14 a. As noted, the entire dispenser can be manufactured inexpensively by molding of a small number of molded plastic components, as illustrated, so that the living hinges 26 are thin ribbons of plastic designed to allow the caps 24 to be secured over the respective tubular members 14 a, sealing off the dispensing nozzles 14, and removed therefrom repeatedly without failure.
  • [0042]
    In the embodiment shown, the outer tube 12 is retained on the inner tube 10 by snap-fitting fingers 25. Other methods of retention may include circumferential cooperating ridges and grooves, one on the outer surface of the inner tube and another on the inner surface of the outer tube, such when the tubes are assembled, a ridge on one member fits into a groove on the other, retaining the outer tube on the inner tube while allowing relative rotation. A similar arrangement is shown in FIGS. 6 and 8, as discussed below.
  • [0043]
    A ratchet arrangement can be provided between the inner and outer tubes 10 and 12, as shown by FIG. 3; this would allow the outer tube to be turned in only one direction with respect to the inner tube, clockwise in FIG. 3. This would allow the assembly to be first threaded onto the toothpaste tube using gripping handle 22; after the inner tube 10 was firmly seated on the tube 20, further clockwise turning would result in the successive alignment of the ports in the inner tube 10 with the dispensing nozzles in the outer tube 12. This might be convenient in developing habits of use. Counterclockwise turning would be prevented by the ratchet arrangement; the connection of the dispenser of the invention to the tube of toothpaste could be made such that once the dispenser was threaded onto the tube of toothpaste, it would be retained there against counterclockwise rotation. See FIGS. 11, 14 and 15, discussed below. This would result in a sealed assembly, good for maintaining sanitary conditions in that the dispenser would have to be discarded when the toothpaste tube were emptied, and so that the assembly would not tend to be unscrewed from the toothpaste tube 20 by counterclockwise rotation.
  • [0044]
    Alternatively, relative rotation in either direction might be permitted; cooperating vertical ridges and corresponding valleys formed in the juxtaposed surfaces of the two tubes might be employed to provide detents corresponding to the positions at which the various ports line up. See FIG. 9. Provision of such detents would be helpful to the user in aligning the ports and dispensing nozzles. Another way to provide such detents would be to form a circular ridge protruding slightly from around each of either of the ports 14 or orifices 16 where they meet, such that the protruding ridge would “snap” into the corresponding port or orifice as the tubes were turned with respect to one another and the ports and orifices became aligned. See FIG. 15.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 1(A) shows as mentioned a partial view corresponding to FIG. 1, showing an alternative wherein a dental floss dispenser 60 is built into the top of the outer tube 12, replacing gripping handle 22, providing that function but also incorporating a floss dispenser. The floss dispenser 60 comprises a spool 62 of dental floss, confined between an upper cap 64 and a planar member 66, and located over a central pin 68. Cap 64, planar member 66 and pin 68 are preferably all formed integrally with outer tube 12, as indicated by the section lines shown. Cap 64 can be connected to planar member 66 by a living hinge 70, so as to be pivoted upwardly to allow assembly or replacement of the spool 62 of dental floss, and can be retained in the position shown by one or more friction tabs 72, cooperating with the edge of planar member 66 as illustrated. Cap 64 can also be formed to comprise an internal passageway leading the floss from spool 62 to an orifice 64 a also formed in cap 64. A cut-off blade 74 can be assembled to cap 64 as shown to have a cutting edge exposed in orifice 64 a; in use, a length of floss would be drawn though orifice 64 a and cut off by tension exerted against the cutting edge.
  • [0046]
    As mentioned above, several significant advantages are obtained by thus incorporating a floss dispenser with a toothpaste dispenser. One is simply in providing a better-organized collection of one's personal needs, convenient in use and travel. Further, by affixing the floss dispenser to the toothpaste dispenser, one is reminded to use both, improving dental hygiene.
  • [0047]
    FIGS. 4 and 5 show a second embodiment of the toothpaste dispenser of the invention. In this embodiment, a lower disc-shaped valve member 30 is threaded onto the toothpaste tube 20, in lieu of the cap; again, a snap-fit connection is an alternative, as is providing member 30 integral with the tube of toothpaste. An upper valve member 32, also disc-shaped in overall configuration, is juxtaposed to lower member 30 at cooperating surfaces 30 a and 32 a, and is retained on the lower member 30 by either or both of legs 34 having tangs 34 a fitting over the lower end surface of the lower member 30, a “split mushroom” fastener 36 received in a corresponding recess in the lower member 30, or otherwise, for example a circumferential groove formed in one member and a cooperating circumferential ridge in the other member, as discussed in connection with FIG. 6, below. The lower member 30 defines an internal passageway 40, which runs between the interior of the toothpaste tube 20 and an off-axis exit port 42. This exit port 42 can be placed in effective communication with one of a plurality of passageways 44 formed in the upper member 32 by rotation of the upper member 32 with respect to the lower member 30. The passageways 44 are each in communication with a dispensing nozzle including a tube 46, each again being capped by a cap 50 retained by a flexible living hinge member 52.
  • [0048]
    Thus, in use, the upper member 32 is rotated with respect to the lower member 30 until the desired passageway 44 in the upper member 32 is aligned with the internal passageway 40 in the lower member 30. A handle as indicated in phantom at 55 might be provided on the upper member 32 to facilitate turning. A dental floss dispenser 60, as in FIG. 1(A), could be molded into the upper member 32. As above, preferably the handle would be generally circular, hexagonal or the like and would extend radially outwardly beyond the dispensing nozzles 46 and their caps 50, so that when the assembly of the toothpaste tube and the dispenser of the invention is laid on a counter or the like, the dispensing nozzles are precluded from contacting the surface of the counter, further limiting the spread of germs and the like. If handle 55 is to be provided, the location of the living hinges 52 might be revised so that the caps 50 open in the opposite direction from that shown, to avoid interference with handle 55. As above, a “safety” position might also be provided, wherein none of the ports are aligned, preventing inadvertent discharge of toothpaste.
  • [0049]
    A ratcheting arrangement similar to that of FIG. 3 could be provided between the juxtaposed surfaces of members 30 and 32, so that the entire assembly would be threaded onto the toothpaste tube by clockwise rotation; after the lower member 30 became seated on the toothpaste tube, further rotation of the upper member would cause the upper member to rotate with respect to the lower member until the appropriate ports were aligned. Alternatively, as above, relative motion in either direction may be permitted.
  • [0050]
    In order that the user can determine readily when one of the ports 44 is aligned with the duct 40, detents can be provided so that a tactile and possibly also audible “click” is felt as each port 44 lines up with the duct 40. This could be accomplished by molding recesses on the juxtaposed surfaces of one of the upper and lower members cooperating with corresponding members standing proud of the corresponding surface, so that as the upper member 32 is rotated with respect to the lower member 30, the members click into the corresponding recesses. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate this possibility. Another possibility, as discussed above, would be to have the upstanding circular ridges formed around the entry apertures of each of the ports 44, fitting into cooperating circular recesses formed around the duct 40 in the lower member. See FIG. 15.
  • [0051]
    FIGS. 6 and 7 show an alternative construction for the embodiment of FIGS. 4 and 5 that illustrates certain further improvements and alternatives to be considered within the scope of the invention. These include the following, as discussed further below: The dispenser of the invention is manufactured integral to and sold with the tube of toothpaste, rather than being an add-on to a preexisting tube of toothpaste. This would have self-apparent advantages for hygiene and convenience. The upper member is assembled to the lower member by an interfitting circumferential ridge-and-groove pair that allows relative rotation of the upper member with respect to the lower member, while precluding removal of the upper member from the lower member. Radially-extending ridge-and-groove pairs provide a detent action as the upper member is rotated with respect to the lower member, so that the user feels a “click” as the dispensing nozzles line up with the passageway in the lower member. Indicia identifying the port that is aligned for dispensing toothpaste at any given time are provided. Finally, a handle for being gripped to rotate the upper member with respect to the lower is again provided, extending radially outwardly beyond the extent of the dispensing nozzles and their caps, for improvement in hygiene, and incorporating a receptacle for a spool of dental floss.
  • [0052]
    Thus, in FIG. 6, the lower member 80 is shown as having been molded together with the tube of toothpaste 82; if preferred for reasons of manufacturing convenience, the lower member 80 might instead be assembled to the tube of toothpaste 82, by adhesive or the like. The upper member 84 includes a depending skirt 86 that fits over a cylindrical end portion of lower member 80, and is retained thereon by an interfitting circumferential ridge-and-groove pair, 90, 92 respectively, permitting rotation of the upper member with respect to the lower member. The upper member is thus “snap-fit”, that is, is assembled to the lower member simply by pressing the upper member downwardly until the skirt 86 is deflected outwardly by the ridge 90 sufficiently to allow the groove 92 to receive the ridge 90. The skirt 86 may be slit as at 94 to reduce the amount of force required.
  • [0053]
    The upper member 84 is formed to comprise dispensing nozzles 96, comprising short tubular sections closable by caps 98 retained by living hinges 100, as previously, and with internal passageways 102 arranged to be aligned with an internal passageway 104 in lower member 80, so as to establish a flow path for toothpaste from the interior of tube 82 to the dispensing nozzle 96. A particular one of the internal passageways 102 can be retained in alignment with the internal passageway 104 in lower member 80 by a detent mechanism, for example one or more radially-extending cooperating ridge 106 and groove 108 assemblies. See FIG. 7. Thus, as the upper member is rotated with respect to the lower member, the molded-plastic upper member will deform slightly, and the ridges will snap into the grooves, so that the user will feel a “click”, as the passageways 102 and 104 become aligned. It will be appreciated that this could be implemented using a number of ridges 106, grooves 108 or both equal to the number of dispensing nozzles, and disposed in suitable alignment with the passageways 102. However, numerous alternative arrangements of detent mechanisms to the same end will occur to those of skill in the art, and are within the scope of the invention. Also within the scope of the invention as above is the provision of a “safety” position, in which no dispensing nozzle is connected to the passageway 104.
  • [0054]
    As mentioned above, the upper end of the upper member 84 may be formed to comprise a gripping handle 110, extending radially beyond the dispensing nozzles 96 so as to prevent their touching a counter on which the assembly of toothpaste tube and dispenser is laid. Handle 110 can be connected to the remainder of upper member 84 by a living hinge 112, to allow its pivoting, and can be retained in the closed position shown by a catch 114. Handle 110 can be lifted to enable access to and replacement of a spool 116 of dental floss 118, retained for rotation on a central post 120. As described above, a cutter 122 may be provided adjacent an aperture 124 for the passage of the floss, to enable the user to conveniently cut off a length of floss 118. In order that tension can be exerted on the floss 118, so as to exert a cutting force against the cutter 122, the handle 110 can be pressed downwardly, exerting a frictional force on spool 116 and preventing it from rotation.
  • [0055]
    Numerous further improvements and modifications will occur to those of skill in the art, and are to be considered within the scope of the invention where not excluded by the following claims. For example, means could also be provided in any of the embodiments for indicating which of the exit ports were connected to the toothpaste tube at any given time. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, the outer member 84 could have a window 126 formed in its skirt 86 so as to selectively expose a number 128 or other indicia, e.g., differently-colored inserts, formed on or assembled to the lower member 80 as one is rotated with respect to the other. A similar number or indicia would then be provided at each of the dispensing nozzles. In this way, a user such as a young child could know that when, say, the yellow marker was exposed the yellow dispensing nozzle would be available for dispensing toothpaste. Alternatively, as discussed below in connection with FIGS. 8 and 10, the indicia could simply be disposed adjacent the corresponding port.
  • [0056]
    As mentioned, FIGS. 8-11 show an alternative arrangement to that of FIGS. 1-3, wherein the dispenser 140 of the invention again comprises concentric outer and inner tubular members, 130 and 142 respectively, with a series of ports arranged so that only one of the nozzles in the outer tubular member 130 is connected to the interior of the toothpaste tube at any given time, but in which the outer tubular member 130 is threaded onto a conventional tube of toothpaste. Thus, in FIG. 8, the outer tubular member 130 comprises an internally-threaded collar 132 that can be threaded onto the conventional threaded dispensing orifice of a tube 134 of toothpaste. In a preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 11, the threads on the collar 132 can be formed to comprise asymmetrical “ramps” 136, so that the collar and outer tubular 130 can be rotated clockwise, as indicated by arrow 138, in order to assemble the dispenser 140 to the threaded connector 134 a of the tube 134 of toothpaste, but cannot thereafter be removed.
  • [0057]
    This function could alternatively be provided by a metallic barbed member 170 assembled to collar 132 that would comprise teeth that, after assembly of the dispenser to the tube of toothpaste, would tend to dig into the plastic of the threaded connector 134 a, or to the plastic surrounding connector 134 a, preventing its removal. See FIGS. 12 and 13, illustrating a barbed member 170 having asymmetrical teeth 172 formed thereon, shaped so that the dispenser can be threaded onto the connector 134 a, but so that teeth 172 will dig into the tube of toothpaste, preventing subsequent removal. Such a barbed member 170, if made of material different than that of the outer member 130 and collar 132, e.g., brass or stainless steel, could be disposed in the mold in which member 130 is to be molded, prior to injection of the plastic material of member 130; after injection of the plastic the member 170 will be securely retained thereby. The asymmetrical teeth 172 of the member 170 can be shaped so that their outer edges are parallel to the frustoconical surface 134 b of the tube of toothpaste, or so as to form sharp points for digging into frustoconical surface 134 b. In this way, as the dispenser is threaded onto the threaded connector 134 a, that is, being turned right-to-left in the view of FIG. 12, the longer sloped faces 172 a of teeth 172 gradually contact and deform the plastic of the conical surface 134 b, until friction therebetween prevents further turning. Rotation in the opposite direction and removal of the dispenser is thereafter prevented by the sharp edge of the right edge 172 b of each tooth, edges 172 b being substantially parallel to the axis of the threaded orifice, digging into the plastic of the conical surface 134 b.
  • [0058]
    Provision of a ported, valved dispenser 140 that could be readily assembled to but not thereafter readily removed from the tube 134 of toothpaste would have the advantage that the dispenser 140 would need to be discarded when the tube was emptied and a fresh dispenser installed with each new tube of toothpaste, improving hygiene. It would also allow rotation of one member of the dispenser with respect to the other in either direction without unscrewing the dispenser from the tube of toothpaste, which would be particularly helpful where the dispenser of the invention is to be used by children. Further, this feature would allow the user to rotate one member with respect to the other to align the ports by gripping the handle 168 in one hand and the tube of toothpaste 134 in the other; this would be much preferable to designing the dispenser so that the user had to grasp two different members thereof. The same feature could of course be used with the other embodiments of the invention, providing the same advantages.
  • [0059]
    In this connection, it will be appreciated that in order that the user be able to rotate one member with respect to the other in either direction by gripping the handle 168 in one hand and the tube of toothpaste 134 in the other it is not strictly necessary that the first member be fixed to the tube of toothpaste, merely that counterclockwise rotation of the first member with respect to the tube of toothpaste require more torque than that required to turn one member of the dispenser with respect to the other. However, in order to require that the dispenser be discarded together with the tube of toothpaste when the latter is empty, it is necessary that the first member indeed be fixed to the tube of toothpaste, at least to the extent that substantial force would need to be applied to remove the dispenser from the tube of toothpaste.
  • [0060]
    In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 8, the inner tubular member 142 is retained within the outer tubular member 130 by cooperating circumferential ridge 144 and groove 146, so that the assembly can be made simply by inserting the inner tubular member 142 into the outer tubular member 130 until the ridge 144 snaps into the groove 146. Other cooperating structures for thus retaining the inner tubular member 142 in the outer tubular member 130, as discussed above and otherwise, are within the scope of the invention.
  • [0061]
    FIGS. 8 and 9 also illustrate a structure for providing a detent function on the relative rotation of the tubular members 130 and 142, comprising a number of cooperating ridges 148 and grooves 150 (the number of at least one of the ridges and grooves being equal to the number of dispensing nozzles 152 provided), extending longitudinally along the interface between the tubular members 130 and 142. Thus, as one member is rotated with respect to the other, the ridges will snap into the grooves, so that the user will feel a tactile sensation indicating that one of the pairs of ports 154, 156 in the tubular members are aligned. As above, a “safety” position in which none of the pairs of ports are aligned is optionally provided.
  • [0062]
    FIGS. 8 and 10 also illustrate a structure whereby the user can be conveniently informed as to which of the pairs of ports 154, 156 are aligned at any given time. This structure can comprise indicia, such as differently colored beads 160, disposed in recesses 142 a in the inner tubular member 142 so as to be aligned with windows 162 formed in the outer tubular member 130 when the corresponding ports 154, 156 are aligned. More specifically, the beads 160 will be disposed at different longitudinal spacings along the length of the inner tubular member 142, aligned with the respective ports 154 therein, while the windows 162 will be disposed at corresponding longitudinal spacings along the outer tubular member 130, aligned with the ports 156 therein. A similar mechanism comprising cooperating indicia carried by one member and windows in the other can be employed with the other embodiments of the invention. In this way when a child, for example, turns the inner tubular member 142 with respect to the outer tubular member 130 when his or her colored bead appears he or she will know that the adjacent dispensing nozzle 152 is connected to the tube of toothpaste 134 for dispensing toothpaste.
  • [0063]
    Other aspects of the design of the embodiment of FIG. 8 are as discussed previously, such as the provision of caps 164 retained by living hinges 166 formed integrally with tubular dispensing nozzles 152, and the provision of a gripping handle 168 extending radially beyond the dispensing nozzles 152 so as to prevent their contacting a counter surface or the like. A dispenser for dental floss may also be incorporated in the handle 168, as above.
  • [0064]
    FIGS. 14 (a)-(c) show a further construction for securing the dispenser of the invention to a tube of toothpaste so as to allow one member to be essentially fixed to the tube, while allowing rotation of the other member in either direction without unscrewing the dispenser from the tube. This alternative construction is useful in connection with any of the several embodiments of the invention in which the dispenser is threadedly attached to a conventional tube of toothpaste by threading it onto the externally-threaded orifice conventionally provided.
  • [0065]
    In this embodiment, the member 180 of the dispenser that is to be threadedly connected to the externally-threaded orifice 134 a of the tube of toothpaste 134 is provided with a number, e.g., four, of downwardly-extending fingers 182, which fit inside the orifice 134 a and engage its interior wall, and preferably fit closely against the ridge 134 b formed where the generally-tubular orifice meets the body of the tube 134, thereby exerting sufficient friction therebetween as to resist rotation in either direction, and so that the dispenser cannot thereafter be removed from the tube 134.
  • [0066]
    Thus, FIG. 14 (a) shows the dispenser prior to assembly, FIG. 14( b) an intermediate stage in assembly, and FIG. 14( c) the completed assembly. As illustrated, fingers 182 are formed to define outwardly-extending lips 182 a. As the dispenser is threaded onto the externally-threaded orifice 134 a, fingers 182 are forced inwardly, as shown by FIG. 14( b); when the assembly is completed, as shown by FIG. 14( c), the fingers 182 spring outwardly, so that the lips 182 a extend over the ridge 134 b, securing the dispenser assembly in place, and exerting substantial friction, so that one member of the dispenser can be turned in either direction with respect to the other by a user gripping the handle, e.g., 168 in FIG. 8, in one hand and holding the tube 134 in the other.
  • [0067]
    Finally, FIG. 15 shows a further embodiment illustrating certain alternatives applicable to various of the embodiments discussed above. For example, in this embodiment the dispenser 194 is assembled to the tube of toothpaste by a snap-fit connection comprised by the lower member 190 so that the dispenser is merely pressed firmly onto the threaded orifice 134 a of the tube 134; the downwardly depending internally threaded aperture 190 a formed integrally with the lower member 190 may be slit longitudinally, as indicated at 190 c, so that it can spring outwardly to enable this method of assembly. Fingers 190 b as in FIG. 14 may be provided to lock the dispenser to the tube 134.
  • [0068]
    In this embodiment the internal passageway 190 e in the lower member 190 extends from a central location over the threaded orifice 134 a of the tube 134 to its periphery, while the ports 192 b in the upper member 192 are formed in a downwardly-extending skirt 192 c.
  • [0069]
    Further, FIG. 15 illustrates another method for provided the detent function as the upper member 192 is rotated with respect to the lower member 190, that is, that circular protrusions 192 a extending around the ports 192 b fit into a circular groove 190 d around the passageway 190 e. Again, a safety position may be provided where a protrusion 192 a not surrounding a port 192 b fits into groove 190 d.
  • [0070]
    Other features of this embodiment are generally as discussed above.
  • [0071]
    While various of the embodiments of the invention have been described in connection with its use with conventional toothpaste tubes, so as to be useful with various manufacturers' tubes without modification, it is of course within the invention to redesign the tube of toothpaste to cooperate with the dispenser of the invention to implement the features described. In particular, the threads of the tube could readily be modified to allow the dispenser of the invention to be threaded thereonto, but not thereafter removed, while not interfering with use of the conventional cap provided. For example, the ratcheting arrangement shown in FIG. 3 between the first and second members of the dispenser could be employed between the cooperating threads of the tube and dispenser to provide this function.
  • [0072]
    Therefore, while several preferred embodiments of the invention and various alternatives have been disclosed in detail, the invention is not to be limited thereby, but only by the following claims.
Patentzitate
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Referenziert von
Zitiert von PatentEingetragen Veröffentlichungsdatum Antragsteller Titel
US9718586 *9. Sept. 20151. Aug. 2017Ataollah YazdaniAdhesive tube-dispenser
Klassifizierungen
US-Klassifikation222/482
Internationale KlassifikationB67D3/00
UnternehmensklassifikationB65D35/38