(19)
(11)EP 2 266 698 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
29.12.2010 Bulletin 2010/52

(21)Application number: 10178896.6

(22)Date of filing:  19.09.2003
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B01L 3/14  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IT LI LU MC NL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 23.09.2002 US 412824 P

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
03754759.3 / 1542804

(71)Applicant: Becton Dickinson and Company
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey 07417-1880 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Manoussakis, Dimirios
    Wyckoff, NJ 07481 (US)
  • Bradshaw, Allen
    Sumter, SC 29153 (US)
  • Martin, Paul
    Plymouth, PL17PW (GB)

(74)Representative: von Kreisler Selting Werner 
Deichmannhaus am Dom Bahnhofsvorplatz 1
50667 Köln
50667 Köln (DE)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 23-09-2010 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)High bias gel tube and process for making tube


(57) The invention provides a process for fabricating a container comprising the steps of:
providing a container having an open upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls;
disposing into the container a geld at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the container; and
allowing the gel to slump.




Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0001] This application claims priority of provisional application number 60/412,824, filed on September 23, 2002.

Field of the Invention



[0002] The invention relates to body fluid collection containers, in particular blood collection tubes, capable of separating phases of different density, using a gel separating medium.

Discussion of the Related Art



[0003] Fluid collection tubes containing a thixotropic gel for separating phases of different densities, e.g., in blood, are well known. See, e.g., U.S. Patents Nos. 3,997,442, 4,257,886, 4,426,290, 4,770,779, and 6,238,578, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference. The gel is selected to have a density between that of the phases of blood which are to be separated. Upon centrifugation of a collected blood sample, the force of centrifugation forces the gel from a substantially non-flowing state to a more flowable state. In the flowable state, the gel migrates to a position between the two phases, e.g., between serum and clot portions. And upon cessation of centrifugation, the gel again becomes substantially non-flowable, thereby maintaining the separation between phases. Gel movement, i.e., getting adequate movement of the gel upon centrifugation, can sometimes be an issue. U.S. Patent No. 3,997,442 suggests one solution, but improvements are always desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0004] The invention relates to an improved fluid collection container, containing a gel separation medium. According to the invention, the gel is disposed in the tube in a manner and geometry that is readily manufacturable, and which overcomes potential gel movement issues.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0005] Fig. 1 shows a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0006] Fig. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0007] Fig. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0008] Fig. 4 shows a cross-sectional view of a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0009] Fig. 5 shows a cross-sectional view of a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0010] Figs. 6A-6C show cross-section profiles for a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0011] Figs. 7A-7G show cross-sectional profiles for a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

[0012] Fig. 8 shows a cross-sectional view of a tube containing a separator gel material according to an aspect of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0013] A typical blood collection tube according to the invention is shown in Fig. 1. The tube 10 contains an open upper end 12, a lower closed end 14, and sidewalls 16 having an inner wall 18 and an outer wall 20. A separating gel 22 is located within the container, at or adjacent the closed end 14.

[0014] The tube 10 is provided with a pierceable cap 24, that may be pierced by the non-patient end of a double ended blood collection needle. The tube 10 is generally evacuated, such that upon piercing by such a needle, blood is drawn into the tube. Details of evacuated blood collection tubes and blood collection are well known to those skilled in the art.

[0015] As noted above, upon sample collection, the tube is centrifuged to separate two phases of the blood sample, e.g., serum and red blood cells, or different cell types, as known in the art.

[0016] The invention provides the gel in the tube in an advantageous manner, that avoids or overcomes issues relating to gel movement.

[0017] According to the invention, a tube is provided with a gel separating material having an initial state that reflects an intermediate, transient state (during centrifugation) of a typical gel. In particular, the gel exhibits a state prior to any centrifugation that substantially resembles an intermediate state of an identical gel undergoing centrifugation in an identical container, wherein the initial state of the identical gel comprises an identical volume of the gel exhibiting a substantially planar exposed top surface. For example, where the exposed top surface of the identical gel exhibits a best-fit plane that exhibits an angle of 0 to 20° to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tube, the initial gel configuration of the invention would reflect an intermediate (during centrifugation) state of that identical gel.

[0018] Embodiments of the gel location/geometry, from the outside of the tube, as well as some cross-section views, are shown in Figs. 2 to 9. It is possible to obtain the advantages of the invention by disposing the gel into the tube using a variety of principles and guidelines. The Figures show one type of design only, which is representative of the design guidelines presented herein. Variations based on the principles and description herein are also contemplated.

[0019] In one embodiment, reflected in Fig. 2, the distance a between the uppermost point 30 at which the gel 22 contacts the inner wall 18, and the highest point 32 at which the gel contacts the inner wall roughly opposite to the uppermost point, i.e., from 90° to 270° circumferentially, typically from 120° to 240°, most often including at least 180° circumferentially, is at least about 8 mm, typically about 8 to about 21 mm. Typically in this embodiment the gel, along a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container and located halfway between the uppermost point and the highest point, exhibits less than 180° circumferential contact with the inner wall, typically less than 120°. (Circumferential contact indicates the extent to which the gel contacts the tube inner wall in a plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tube.) Another way to describe this embodiment is that it is a configuration where, over 140 to 220° of circumferential contact, the gel exhibits a substantially uniform height in the container, relative to the lower end, and where the highest point at which gel contacts the inner wall of the container is about 8 to about 21 mm above the average height of the area having substantially uniform height.

[0020] In another embodiment, reflected in Fig. 3, the gel comprises continuous first 40 and second 42 regions, the first region located at or adjacent to the closed lower end of the tube, and the second region extending upward from a portion of the first region.

[0021] Typically, the first region comprises an imaginary upper boundary 44 at which the first region exhibits 360° circumferential contact with the inner wall (typically 300 to 360° since some interruptions or regions without gel are possible in this planar upper boundary). The substantially planar upper boundary is typically defined as the surface having a best fit plane within 10° of a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tube.

[0022] Typically, the uppermost point 46 of the second region is located at least about 8 mm higher than the uppermost point 48 of the upper boundary 44, more typically about 8 to about 21 mm.

[0023] Typically, the first region contains at least about 80 vol.% of the total gel, more typically at least about 90 vol.%, with a typical upper limit being about 95%.

[0024] The interior surface of the gel at the intersection 50 of the first and second regions is generally concave, and typically exhibits a radius of curvature of about 4 to about 8 mm. (The radius of curvature is defined as the radius of a best-fit sphere along that intersection.)

[0025] Typically, as reflected in Fig. 4, a best-fit plane 60 to the exposed surface of the first region facing the interior of the container exhibits an angle of 25° or less, more typically 10° or less, with a plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container. The exposed surface of the second region facing the interior of the container defines a best-fit plane 62 exhibiting a 45 to 90° angle with a plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container. (Best-fit plane indicates a plane that mathematically best fits the contour of the described surface or outline.)

[0026] Typically, the best fit plane to the exposed surface of the first region facing the interior of the container exhibits an angle θ of 90 to 140° with the best-fit plane to the surface of the second region facing the interior of the container.

[0027] Typically, along a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container located halfway between the average height of the exposed surface of the first region and the uppermost point of the second region, the second region exhibits 80 to 140° circumferential contact with the inner surface.

[0028] Typically, the entirety of the second region exhibits less than 180° circumferential contact with the inner wall, generally less than 120°.

[0029] In a further embodiment, reflected in Fig. 5, at the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, the angle between the inner wall and the tangent to the gel surface at the point of contact with the inner wall is about 100 to about 180°, and wherein, at the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall opposite the uppermost point, the angle between the inner wall and the tangent to the gel surface at the point of contact with the inner wall is about 70 to about 100°.

[0030] In another embodiment, reflected in Figs. 6A to 6C, upon superimposing on the gel first 80 and second 82 planes perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and spaced a distance b apart, the intersection between the first plane 80 and the gel defines a filled substantially circular or substantially elliptical shape, and the intersection between the gel and the second plane 82 defines a filled substantially crescent or substantially half-moon shape, such as shown in Fig. 6C, with b being a distance less than the distance between the uppermost point of gel contact with the tube inner wall and the bottom of the tube, and greater than the distance between the highest point of gel contact opposite the uppermost point and the bottom of the tube. Typical values for b are greater than 15 mm and less than 26 mm. An example of the cross-section of this embodiment at numerous locations is shown by Figs. 7A to 7G. In particular, Figs. 7A-7F shows the gel geometry at numerous cross-sections of the tube.

[0031] In another embodiment, about 5 to about 20 vol.%, optionally about 10 to about 20 vol.%, of the gel is located within 8 to 12 mm of the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall.

[0032] In a further embodiment, reflected in Fig. 8, about 10 to about 40 vol.%, more typically about 20 to about 40 vol.% of the gel 22 is located above a plane 100 perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and located halfway between the uppermost point 102 of the gel and the lowermost point 104 of the gel.

[0033] Common to all these embodiments is the advantage that they provide, both in gel movement and manufacturability. Gel movement is enhanced by the portion of the gel that extends toward the open end of the tube, e.g., the second region. Specifically, it is believed that providing such a gel extension toward the open end of the tube promotes initiation of gel movement at lower centrifugation speeds than would otherwise be required. The parameters for the gel geometry/placement herein provide for such a region that enhances gel movement upon centrifugation. Moreover, the geometry of the gel is readily attainable in manufacture, as discussed in more detail below.

[0034] A variety of separator gels, known in the art, are capable of being advantageously used in the invention. See, e.g., U.S. Patents Nos. 4,101,422, 4,148,764, and 4,350,593. In particular, acrylic-based, polyester-based, and hydrocarbon-based gels have all been found to be of use as separator materials, where such gels typically contain a resin modified with a particle such as fumed silica in order to form a networked gel.

[0035] Both plastic and glass tubes are possible. It is possible to dispose the gel into a tube by a variety of techniques. Generally, a nozzle capable of being inserted into the interior of the tube is used, with either the nozzle, the tubes, or both being moveable for that purpose. Dispensing of gel through the nozzle is normally initiated with the nozzle close to the desired location for the gel (to avoid putting gel on undesired regions of the tube), and as dispensing continues, the nozzle is then slowly drawn up the tube to avoid immersion in the gel. The gel is typically dispensed using pressure or other techniques known in the art. In addition, a tray of tubes is generally processed row by row to expedite manufacturing.

[0036] The desired geometry may be provided by various techniques. For example, it is possible to dispose gel into a tube using a nozzle, and then centrifuge the tubes at a particular angle and speed to provide the desired geometry. Such centrifuging may be done with an entire tray of tubes.

[0037] It is also possible to dispose the gel into a tube (or group of tubes) while holding the tube at an angle, or by angling the tubes during or after placing the gel into the tubes. The angle and gel deposition steps are controlled to provide the desired geometry. The tubes may then be left at ambient temperature, either at an angle or vertical. Some slumping of the gel may occur, such slumping taken into account when determining the steps necessary to reach the desired geometry.

[0038] It is also possible to use a nozzle having an opening oriented at an angle to the tube's axis. For example, the nozzle opening is positioned such that gel is disposed at an angle to the longitudinal axis, i.e., at an angle to vertical (more than one such off-axis nozzle opening is also possible). (There are a variety of techniques to configure a nozzle opening to dispose gel in this manner, including an opening at an angle to the axis of the nozzle, or an angled nozzle tip.) The angled nozzle opening is able to dispense gel in an asymmetric geometry in the tube. Useful angles for such an angled nozzle opening or angle nozzle tip are 25 to 45° to the longitudinal axis of the overall nozzle device, advantageously about 45°.

[0039] In some cases, it has been found that dispensing the gel under conditions (shear, temperature, viscosity, etc.) that allows the gel to slump from its initial dispensed position, to a final (prior to blood collection and centrifuge) position can be used advantageously to provide a desired geometry such as shown in the Figures. Such slumping may occur under ambient conditions post-dispensing, with the tube remaining in a vertical or angled position, e.g., the tube or tubes are simply moved to a location at which slumping and hardening are allowed to occur - no further actions (e.g., centrifuging) are required to obtain the advantageous geometry. If such slumping is desired, the gel may be dispensed in a manner that provides significant shear, such that the gel exhibits properties that allow such slumping. Conventionally, those in the art would seek to avoid such shear, to prevent such slumping after a dispensing step.

[0040] Specific conditions for the gel dispensing depends on, among other things, gel type, tube size, gel dispensing apparatus and techniques, and gel volume, as known to those skilled in the art.

[0041] Once the gel is allowed to slump and harden, the tube of the invention generally must go through additional processing steps. For examples, additives useful in blood or urine analysis, e.g., procoagulants or anticoagulants, may be disposed into the tube. As known in the art, blood analysis is often performed on serum, and procoagulants are typically used to enhance the rate of clotting. Such procoagulants include silica particles or enzyme clot activators such as elagic acid, fibrinogen and thrombin. If plasma is desired for analysis, an anticoagulant is generally used to inhibit coagulation, such that blood cells can be separated by centrifugation. Such anticoagulants include chelators such as oxalates, citrate, and EDTA, and enzymes such as heparin. Additives are disposed in the containers in any suitable manner, liquid or solid, including dissolution in a solvent, or disposing in powdered, crystallized, or lyophilized form.

[0042] Then, after any such additional additives are put into the tube, the tube (or group of tubes) is subjected to an evacuated chamber with a pressure below atmospheric pressure. A seal such as an elastomeric stopper or pierceable membrane is applied, and the tube is sterilized by a process such as irradiation (e.g., with cobalt 60 radiation), ethylene oxide gas exposure, or electron-beam exposure. (Note that several of these steps may be performed in an order other than that presented above).

[0043] The containers of the invention are capable of being formed in any desired size. For example, standard blood collection tubes with outside diameters of 13 x 75 mm or 16 x 100 mm are contemplated.

[0044] Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. For example, while the gel geometry of the above embodiments reflects a single region that sweeps upward from a larger region of gel, it is possible to have more than one region sweeping upward, or to have one or more thin regions of gel (e.g., beads of gel) sweep upward.
  1. 1. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein the longitudinal distance between the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, and the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall substantially opposite the uppermost point is at least about 8 mm.

  2. 2. The container of 1, wherein the distance is about 8 to about 21 mm.
  3. 3. The container of 1, wherein the longitudinal distance between the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, and the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall 90° to 270° circumferentially from the uppermost point is at least about 8 mm.
  4. 4. The container of 1, wherein the longitudinal distance between the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, and the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall 120° to 240° circumferentially from the uppermost point is at least about 8 mm.
  5. 5. The container of 4, wherein the distance is about 8 to about 21 mm.
  6. 6. The container of 3, wherein the longitudinal distance between the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, and the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall 180° circumferentially from the uppermost point is at least about 8 mm.
  7. 7. The container of 6, wherein the distance is about 8 to about 21 mm.
  8. 8. The container of 1, wherein the gel, along a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container and located halfway between the uppermost point and the highest point, exhibits less than 180° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  9. 9. The container of 8, wherein the gel exhibits less than 120° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  10. 10. The container of 1, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  11. 11. The container of 1, wherein the container is a tube.
  12. 12. The container of 11, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  13. 13. The container of 1, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  14. 14. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein the gel comprises continuous first and second regions, the first region located at or adjacent to the lower end, and the second region extending upward from a portion of the first region.

  15. 15. The container of 14, wherein the first region comprises an imaginary upper boundary at which the first region exhibits 360° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  16. 16. The container of 15, wherein the imaginary upper boundary exhibits a best fit plane within 10° of a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tube.
  17. 17. The container of 14, wherein the uppermost point of the second region is located at least about 8 mm higher than the uppermost point of the first region.
  18. 18. The container of 17, wherein the distance is about 8 to about 21 mm.
  19. 19. The container of 14, wherein the first region comprises at least about 80 vol.% of the gel.
  20. 20. The container of 19, wherein the first region comprises about 80 to about 95 vol.% of the gel.
  21. 21. The container of 14, wherein the interior surface of the gel at the intersection of the first and second regions exhibits a radius of curvature between about 4 and about 8 mm.
  22. 22. The container of 14, wherein a best-fit plane to the exposed surface of the first region facing the interior of the container exhibits an angle of 25° or less with a plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container.
  23. 23. The container of 22, wherein the exposed surface of the second region facing the interior of the container defines a best-fit plane exhibiting a 45 to 90° angle with a plane substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container.
  24. 24. The container of 14, wherein the best-fit plane to the exposed surface of the first region facing the interior of the container exhibits an angle of 90 to 140° with the best-fit plane to the surface of the second region facing the interior of the container.
  25. 25. The container of 14, wherein the first region comprises an upper boundary at which the first region exhibits 300 to 360° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  26. 26. The container of 14, wherein, along a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the container located halfway between the average height of the exposed surface of the first region and the uppermost point of the second region, the second region exhibits 80 to 140° circumferential contact with the inner surface.
  27. 27. The container of 14, wherein the entirety of the second region exhibits less than 180° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  28. 28. The container of 27, wherein the entirety of the second region exhibits less than 120° circumferential contact with the inner wall.
  29. 29. The container of 14, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  30. 30. The container of 14, wherein the container is a tube.
  31. 31. The container of 30, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  32. 32. The container of 14, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  33. 33. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein, at the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall, the angle between the inner wall and the tangent to the gel surface at the point of contact with the inner wall is about 100 to about 180°, and wherein, at the highest point at which the gel contacts the inner wall opposite the uppermost point, the angle between the inner wall and the tangent to the gel surface at the point of contact with the inner wall is about 70 to about 100°.

  34. 34. The container of . 33, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  35. 35. The container of 33, wherein the container is a tube.
  36. 36. The container of 35, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  37. 37. The container of 33, wherein the lower end is closed, and
    wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  38. 38. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein upon superimposing on the gel first and second planes perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and spaced a distance b apart, the intersection between the first plane and the gel defines a filled substantially circular or substantially elliptical shape, and the intersection between the gel and the second plane defines at least one filled substantially crescent or substantially half-moon shape, wherein b is a distance less than the distance between the uppermost point of gel contact with the tube inner wall and the bottom of the tube, and greater than the distance between the highest point of gel contact opposite the uppermost point and the bottom of the tube.

  39. 39. The container of 38, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  40. 40. The container of 38, wherein the container is a tube.
  41. 41. The container of 40, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  42. 42. The container of 3 8, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  43. 43. The container of 3 8, wherein 15 mm < b < 26 mm.
  44. 44. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein about 5 to about 20 vol.% of the gel is located within 8 to 12 mm of the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall.

  45. 45. The container of .44, wherein about 10 to about 20 vol.% of the gel is located within 8 to 12 mm of the uppermost point at which the gel contacts the inner wall.
  46. 46. The container of 44, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  47. 47. The container of 44, wherein the container is a tube.
  48. 48. The container of 47, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  49. 49. The container of 44, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  50. 50. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall, the gel having a lowermost point of contact with the inner wall and an uppermost point of contact with the inner wall,

    wherein about 10 to about 40 vol.% of the gel is located above a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and located halfway between the uppermost point and the lowermost point.

  51. 51. The container of 50, wherein about 20 to about 40 vol.% of the gel is located above a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and located halfway between the uppermost point and the lowermost point.
  52. 52. The container of 50, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  53. 53. The container of 50, wherein the container is a tube.
  54. 54. The container of 53, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  55. 55. The container of 50, wherein the lower end is closed, and
    wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  56. 56. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein over 140 to 220° of circumferential contact, the gel exhibits a substantially uniform height in the container, relative to the lower end, and

    wherein the highest point at which gel contacts the inner wall of the container is about 8 to about 21 mm above the average height of the area having substantially uniform height.

  57. 57. The container of 56, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  58. 58. The container of 56, wherein the container is a tube.
  59. 59. The container of 58, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  60. 60. The container of 56, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  61. 61. A container comprising:

    an upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls; and

    a gel located in the container in contact with a portion of the inner wall,

    wherein the gel exhibits a state prior to any centrifugation that substantially resembles an intermediate state of an identical gel undergoing centrifugation in an identical container, wherein the initial state of the identical gel comprises an identical volume of the gel exhibiting a substantially planar exposed top surface.

  62. 62. The container of 61, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  63. 63. The container of 61, wherein the container is a tube.
  64. 64. The container of 63, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  65. 65. The container of 61, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  66. 66. The container of 61, wherein the exposed top surface of the identical gel exhibits a best-fit plane that exhibits an angle of 0 to 20° to the longitudinal axis of the tube.
  67. 67. A process for fabricating a container comprising the steps of:

    providing a container having an open upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls;

    disposing into the container a gel at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the container, wherein the angle is less than 90°.

  68. 68. The process of 67, wherein the gel is disposed asymmetrically into the container.
  69. 69. The process of 67, wherein the gel is disposed through an elongate nozzle having at least one nozzle opening that directs the gel at the angle to the longitudinal axis of the container.
  70. 70. The process of 69, wherein the container is arranged during the disposing step such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically.
  71. 71. The process of 67, wherein the gel is a thixotropic gel.
  72. 72. The process of 67, wherein the container is a tube.
  73. 73. The process of 72, wherein the tube comprises a pierceable closure therein.
  74. 74. The process of 67, wherein the lower end is closed, and wherein the gel is disposed at the closed lower end.
  75. 75. The process of 67, wherein the angle is about 25 to about 45°.
  76. 76. A process for fabricating a container comprising the steps of:

    providing a container having an open upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls;

    disposing into the container a gel at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the container; and

    allowing the gel to slump.

  77. 77. The process of 76, wherein the gel is disposed through an elongate nozzle having a nozzle opening that directs the gel at the angle to the longitudinal axis of the container.
  78. 78. The process of 77, wherein the angle is less than 90°.
  79. 79. The process of 76, wherein the container is arranged during the disposing step such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically.
  80. 80. The process of 76, wherein the gel is allowed to slump while the container is arranged such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically.
  81. 81. The process of 76, wherein the gel is disposed at the lower end of the tube.
  82. 82. The process of 78, wherein the angle is about 25 to about 40°.
  83. 83. A process for fabricating a container comprising the steps of:

    providing a container having an open upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls;

    disposing into the container a gel under conditions that promote slumping of the gel after the gel is disposed.

  84. 84. The process of 83, wherein the gel is disposed through an elongate nozzle having a nozzle opening that directs the gel at the angle to the longitudinal axis of the container.
  85. 85. The process of 83, wherein the container is arranged during the disposing step such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically
  86. 86. The process of 83, wherein the gel is disposed at the lower end of the tube.



Claims

1. A process for fabricating a container comprising the steps of:

providing a container having an open upper end, a lower end, and a sidewall between the upper and lower ends having inner and outer walls;

disposing into the container a gel at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the container; and

allowing the gel to slump.


 
2. The process of claim 1, wherein the gel is disposed through an elongate nozzle having a nozzle opening that directs the gel at the angle to the longitudinal axis of the container.
 
3. The process of claim 2, wherein the angle is less than 90°.
 
4. The process of claim 1, wherein the container is arranged during the disposing step such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically.
 
5. The process of claim 1, wherein the gel is allowed to slump while the container is arranged such that the longitudinal axis of the container is aligned substantially vertically.
 
6. The process of claim 1, wherein the gel is disposed at the lower end of the tube.
 
7. The process of claim 3, wherein the angle is 25 to 40°.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description