FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present disclosure relates to devices for dispensing a material under pressure and, more particularly, but not exclusively, to devices for dispensing liquids, pastes, foams, and the like, under pressure. The invention is defined by the appended claims.
Aerosol spray cans are known throughout modern society, and are used in myriad products found in food stores, pharmacies, tool shops, and more. Fire extinguishers also provide a stream of material under pressure.
Aerosol canisters typically deliver material pressurized to seven or eight bars. A few methods are popular. Single Compartment methods mix a deliverable material with a propellant (a compressed gas), and spray both through a valve. Dual Compartment methods separate the deliverable material from the propellant to avoid interaction between them, to increase shelf life of the product, and for various other reasons. Some Dual Compartment methods use a bag for deliverable material. Some separate material from propellant using a piston barrier. In both cases a compartment with a pressurized propellant is used to pressurize a compartment with a deliverable material, which can then be delivered under pressure through a valve. Practical considerations and in some jurisdictions also laws and regulations require that containers for aerosol products using a propellant (typically compressed to 7-8 bars) to be cylindrical in format, for safety reasons. Containers are also required to be metal or of thick glass or of rigid plastic, or in any case to be of sufficient strength and thickness to safely withstand this pressure. If made of metal other than aluminum (which is relatively expensive), containers are usually made out of TinPlate and coated with lacquers or other coatings to prevent them from rusting and releasing the pressure in unintended ways. As a result, aerosol containers are often relatively expensive to make, to transport, and to handle in bulk, are constrained to be in a standard shape, and are difficult to dispose of in an ecologically desirable manner.
For low pressure dispensing applications, the state of the art is generally that users use manual pressure to pump or squeeze products from containers, for example to get food and suntan lotion out of plastic squeeze bottles, or to get toothpaste and pharmaceuticals out of collapsible tubes, or press on a mechanical pump to deliver the product. In addition to the potential inconvenience attached to the use of many such packages, they suffer from the additional potential disadvantage that air entering such packages interacts with the material therein, reducing shelf life. An additional possible disadvantage is that it is often difficult or impossible to empty them completely, leading to either a messy operation or wastage of products, frustration of users, and/or unnecessary expense.
discloses "This invention comprises a dispenser for dispensing a fluid at a pressure of at least one kg/cm2 comprising a container in which the fluid is contained under sufficient pressure to dispense the fluid at a pressure of at least one kg/cm2, a fluid discharge passageway extending from the interior of the container to the exterior thereof and a flow regulator in said passageway characterized in that the container is an elongate expansible elastomeric bladder... having an unexpanded inside length which is not less than 4 times its unexpanded inside diameter..."
The following patent documents may be relevant to this field.
- US4121737: Apparatus for pressure dispensing of fluids
- WO9509784: Package as dispenser for a pressurized fluid substance
- US4222499: Pressurized fluid dispensing apparatus having expansible bladder held in place with compressive forces
- DE102004028734: Environmentally friendly aerosol especially for cosmetic applications has the contents held in an elastic inner liner which contracts to expel the charge without any pump or propellant
- US5127554: Aerosol power system
- WO2004080841: Spray device
- US2966282: Dispensing package for fluids
- GB2209056: Liquid container
- WO0115583: Food Container
- US3981415: Dispenser with expansible member and contracting fabric
- US2006243741: Aerosol can
- GB2278823: Liner for dispensing container
- US4077543: Propellantless aerosol container
- FR2707264(A1) : Device for dispensing a substance and system adapted for filling the latter
- US3791557 : Non-aerosol container with expansible bladder and expelling force providing sheath
- US5111971(A) : Self-pressurized container having a convoluted liner and an elastomeric sleeve
- US4251032 : Appliance for discharging gaseous, liquid or pasty product, and process of its manufacture
- US5927551 : Power assembly apparatus
- US4964540 : Pressurized fluid dispenser and method of making the same
- US5060700 : Dispenser for a viscous substance
- US4981238 : Dispensing can for viscous substances
- DE 43 33 627 A1
- US 5 143 260 A
 U.S. Patent No. 4,251,032
discloses an appliance for discharging gaseous, liquid or pasty product. The appliance incudes an inner pouch of deformable non-extensible material for holding the product, an outer enveloping element of caoutchouc-type macromolecular material about the inner pouch, a product outlet associated with the pouch, a valve device for controlling the discharge of product from the pouch through the outlet and being located intermediate the latter and the pouch, and a rigid core associated with the pouch. The cross-sectional area of the core is 40% or more larger than the cross-sectional area, taken in the same plane, of the interior of the outer enveloping element in unexpanded condition. The maximum fillable volume available in the pouch when the latter is completely unfolded without expansion of its walls constitutes the maximum limit of expansion of the outer enveloping element. The maximum limit is within the range of linear stretching of the caoutchouc-type macromolecular material.
 U.S. Patent No. 4,964,540
discloses a dispenser for dispensing a fluid by applying pressure on a container. The dispenser includes a bag assembly with a tubular pleated bag, a ribbed coating being formed over the bag by dipping. After the bag is selectively discharged causing the bag to collapse, the bag folds along the pleats under the influence of the coating until substantially all of the fluid has been removed. The assembly is made by forming the bag into a pleated shape and then dipping the bag into a suitable material to form a coating with beads. After the coating dries the bag is inserted into the energy tube.
French publication FR 2 707 264
discloses a dispenser device which includes a container body, a reservoir made of elastic material, which contains the substance to be dispensed, a dispensing head which communicates with the reservoir and which is capable to be controlled to the opening or closure, a tent adapted to be attached to the top of the container body and which carries the dispensing head, and elastic means adapted to exert a constant pressure on the reservoir and allow a distribution of the substance on one command to the opening of the dispensing head. The dispenser device has means type valve controlled opening in the tank base.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a device for dispensing a material under pressure according to claim 1, and a method of producing a device according to claim 10.
An elastic sleeve is used to compress a bag comprising or connected to a valve. The bag is filled or partially filled with a liquid or paste or foam or mixture or other fluidly deliverable substance, or a powder, which is the material to be dispensed. Pressure from the sleeve pressurizes material in the bag, which consequently flows out of the bag under pressure when the valve is opened.
A device for dispensing a material under pressure may comprise
- a) a flexible bag for containing the material and a valve positioned at a first extremity of the bag and operable to control exit of the material from the bag; and
- b) an elastic sleeve which comprises a lumen, the sleeve being fitted over the bag and containing the bag within the lumen;
the sleeve and the bag being sized and positioned so that elastic contraction forces in the sleeve exert compressive pressure on the bag when the bag is at least partially filled with the material.
The sleeve optionally comprises the and first and second open ends.
The elastic contraction optionally forces in the sleeve exert compressive pressure on the bag when the bag is substantially empty of the material.
The pressure on the bag when the bag is empty is optionally between 1.05 bar and 4 bar.
The ratio of pressure on the bag when the bag is full to pressure on the bag when the bag is empty is optionally greater than 2/1 and less than 4.5/1.
The bag is optionally comprised within a Bag-on-valve assembly.
The bag is optionally adapted for Bag-in-can assembly.
The sleeve is optionally constructed of a material which comprises nano-particles.
The nano-particles optionally comprise a clay.
The nano-particles are optionally selected from at least one of a group comprising Nanoclay, Nanosilica, Graphene, and CarbonNanotubes.
The valve is optionally held by a valve assembly structure, and the first open end of the sleeve surrounds a portion of the valve assembly structure and compressive forces exerted by the sleeve on the valve assembly structure anchor the first open end of the sleeve to the valve assembly structure.
The pressure exerted by the sleeve on the bag is optionally at least 2 bar when the bag is empty and at least 6 bar when the bag is full.
The sleeve is optionally of consistent profile along its length.
The sleeve is optionally cut from an extruded tube.
The tube optionally comprises a plurality of layers at least some of which have differing physical characteristics.
The tube optionally comprises a plurality of longitudinal strips at least some of which have differing physical characteristics.
The second open end of the sleeve optionally extends beyond the bag when the first open end of the sleeve is positioned around the valve assembly structure.
The device optionally further comprises an external container which contains the bag and the sleeve.
The external container is optionally airtight.
The external container is optionally sealed in a manner not designed to maintain a pressure differential between contents of the container and room pressure outside the container.
The device optionally further comprises an external container which contains the bag and the sleeve, and wherein the first end of the sleeve is near the valve and the second end of the sleeve is supported by a bottom of the external container.
The device optionally further comprises an external container which contains the bag and the sleeve, and wherein a bottom of the bag is supported by a bottom of the external container.
The external container is optionally non-cylindrical.
The external container optionally cannot hold a pressure above 2 bar.
The external container optionally attaches to the bag and sleeve combination by means of an attachment which comprises one of
- a) a screw thread;
- b) a locking snap mechanism;
- c) a glue; and
- d) a weld.
The sleeve is optionally extruded in at least first and second layers, and the first layer forms the outer external surface of the sleeve, and presents aesthetic properties which differ from those of the second layer.
The sleeve optionally comprises at least first and second layers, and the first layer forms a surface of the lumen of the sleeve, and has at least one of
- a) Permeability lower than that of the second layer; and
- b) Reactivity lower than that of the second layer.
The sleeve optionally comprises at least first and second layers, and the first layer has different elastic properties than the second layer.
The sleeve optionally comprises a metallic spring.
The sleeve optionally comprises an elastic band.
A wall of the sleeve is optionally less than 3mm in thickness, and wherein the sleeve exerts a pressure of at least 7 bar on the bag.
The device optionally further comprises surfaces which support portions of the bag which are not in contact with the sleeve, when the bag is filled.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is a food.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is a cosmetic product.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is selected from a group consisting of a paint, a lacquer, a glue, a lubricant, a sealant and a paste.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is a selected from a group consisting of a personal care gel, a soap, a shampoo, and a sun care product.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is a toothpaste.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is selected from a group consisting of a cleaner, a polish, and an insecticide.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is a medication.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the material is effective in extinguishing fires.
The compressive pressure is optionally above 9 bar.
The bag and sleeve combination is optionally less than one inch in diameter.
A method for creating a pressurized dispenser for a fluidly dispensable material, may comprise
- a) providing an elastic sleeve with open first and second ends and a lumen extending from end to end;
- b) causing the sleeve to expand elastically in a manner which increases diameter of the lumen;
- c) inserting a flexible bag into the lumen while the lumen is expanded;
- d) relaxing the elastic expansion of the sleeve; and
- e) filling the bag with the material through a valve attached to the bag.
A method for creating a pressurized dispenser for a fluidly dispensable material, may comprise
- a) providing an elastic sleeve with open first and second ends and a lumen extending from end to end;
- b) filling a flexible bag with the material;
- c) causing the sleeve to expand elastically in a manner which increases diameter of the lumen;
- d) inserting the filled bag into the expanded sleeve;
- e) relaxing the elastic expansion of the sleeve so that it contracts onto and pressurizes the bag and its contents.
The sleeve optionally comprises a plurality of externally graspable shapes and the method further comprises expanding the sleeve by grasping the graspable shapes and pulling the shapes away from each other.
The method optionally further comprises expanding the sleeve by inserting a plurality of objects into the lumen and then moving the objects away from each other, thereby expanding the lumen.
The method of expansion of the sleeve optionally comprises using a pressure differential to expand the sleeve.
The method optionally comprises inserting bag and sleeve into an opening in a standard aerosol can top, prior to filling the bag with the material through a valve attached to the bag.
The method optionally comprises providing the elastic sleeve with open first and second ends and a lumen extending from end to end, by cutting the sleeve from a continuous roll of extruded sleeve material according to a user-selected length specification.
A method for constructing pressurized dispensers of fluidly dispensable materials, may comprise;
- a) using a mechanical tool to forcibly expand an elastic sleeve;
- b) inserting in the expanded sleeve a flexible bag which connects to a valve; and
- c) filling the bag with the material.
The method optionally comprises filling the bag through the valve while the elastic sleeve is exerting compressive pressure on the bag.
The method optionally comprises filling the bag prior to inserting the bag in the sleeve.
The flexible bag is optionally comprised in a Bag-on-valve module.
The method optionally further comprises inserting an open first end of the sleeve around a valve assembly structure containing a valve of the Bag-on-valve module while the sleeve is expanded, and allowing the sleeve to contract around the valve assembly structure so that compression forces exerted by sleeve serve to fix the valve assembly structure within the sleeve end.
An aerosol device may comprise an elastic sleeve which exerts pressure on a flexible bag equipped with a valve.
A device may be provided for dispensing a fluidly dispensable material at a pressure of less than 4.5 bar.
The device optionally does not comprise a propellant gas.
A transfusion device may be operable to supply a liquid for transfusion into the bloodstream of a patient, and which operates in any orientation independent of gravity.
The device optionally comprises a bag containing the liquid, and an elastic sleeve compressing the bag.
A method for modifying a production line for aerosol products to produce aerosol products without gas propellants, may comprise
- a) providing equipment which encloses bags for containing a dispensable material with a constricting sleeve which compresses the bags to aerosol pressures;
- b) modifying product assembly equipment to insert the sleeve-enclosed bags instead of bags without sleeves in an aerosol product's external container; and
- c) modifying the product assembly equipment so that it does not introduce a propellant into the external container.
The method optionally further comprises filling the bags with the dispensable material before the bags are enclosed in the sleeve.
The method optionally further comprises filling the bags with the dispensable material after the bags are enclosed in the sleeve.
A method for producing a product which dispenses a material under pressure, may comprise
- a) providing a bag for holding the material connected to a valve for controlling passage of the material from the bag;
- b) enclosing the bag in a sleeve which compresses the bag;
- c) filling the bag with the material, thereby causing expansion of the sleeve and pressurizing the material.
The method optionally further comprises inserting the bag enclosed in the sleeve in an external container, and subsequently filling the bag with the material under pressure through the valve.
A method for producing a product which dispenses a material under pressure, may comprise
- a) providing a bag for holding the material;
- b) filling the bag with the material;
- c) closing the bag with a cap which comprises a valve for controlling passage of the material out of the bag;
- d) enclosing the bag in a sleeve which compresses the bag, thereby pressurizing the material; and
- e) inserting bag, material, and sleeve in an external container.
Unless otherwise defined, all technical and/or scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains.
In the drawings:
FIGs. 1 and 2 are based on photographs of a device for dispensing materials under pressure;
FIG. 3 is a simplified schematic of an alternative filling scheme;
FIGs. 4 and 5 are simplified schematics showing alternative methods of construction of a sleeve;
FIG. 6 is a simplified schematic showing details of a method for mounting a sleeve and bag so that they are anchored to each other;
FIG. 7A is a simplified schematic of a delivery module combined with a container;
FIGs. 7B and 7C are simplified schematics of an alternative arrangement for bag and sleeve;
FIGs. 8A-8D are simplified schematics of sleeves which comprise multiple layers and/or multiple strips of elastic material;
FIG. 8E is a simplified schematic of a sleeve having an external shape which differs from a shape of its internal lumen;
FIG. 8F is a simplified schematic of a transfusion module 305;
FIGs. 9-11 are simplified schematics showing a method for expanding a sleeve by pulling its sides outward during a manufacturing process;
FIGs. 12-15 are simplified images of an apparatus 400 for expanding a sleeve by applying pressure from within outwards;
FIGs. 16 and 17 are simplified flow charts of processes for mass production of products.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
The present disclosure relates to devices for dispensing a material under pressure, and, more particularly, but not exclusively, to devices for dispensing a fluidly deliverable material, under pressure. The invention is defined by the appended claims.
In some devices a liquid or paste or foam or powder or mixture or other fluidly deliverable substance may be dispensed under pressure provided by an elastic sleeve used to compress a bag comprising or connected to a valve, which bag contains the material to be dispensed. Compressive pressure from the sleeve pressurizes material in the bag, which consequently flows out of the bag under pressure when the valve is opened.
Some embodiments are aerosol dispensers and provide an alternative to prior art aerosol containers by providing a propellant-free device which stores contents at pressures appropriate for aerosol, and dispenses them through a valve. Some dispensers do not require tough, metallic, cylindrical containers: the bag+sleeve combination, which may optionally be placed within an external container for distribution and sale, does not subject that container to pressure. In some aerosol embodiments compressive pressure generated by the device is greater than 6 bar when the device is full (for example between 6.5 and 9 bar, for example between 7 and 8.5 bar), and is less than 5 bar (e.g. between 2-4 bar) when the device is empty.
Some devices provide a felicitous means for dispensing food, cosmetics, creams, ointments, medicines, IV transfusion materials, and other materials, under low pressure (e.g. slightly above ambient atmospheric pressure, or between 1-2 bar, 2-3 bar or 2-4.5 or 2-6 bar), and/or at low delivery rates.
It is anticipated that devices may comprise a bag+sleeve combination will open up markets for, inter alia:
- self-dispensing food containers (e.g. for mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sauces, desserts, spreads, oil, pastry components),
- containers for cosmetics such as creams and lotions, skin care products and hair gels,
- industrial/technical applications such as paints, lacquers, glues, grease and other lubricants, sealants, pastes and other viscous materials,
- personal care products such as shaving, shower and shampooing gels, toothpaste, liquid soap and shampoo, sun care products,
- household products such as polishes and glass, bathroom and furniture and other cleaners, insecticides, air fresheners, and for plant irrigation,
- pharmaceutical and medical products such as medications (including dosage packages) and ointments, oral and nasal sprays,
- intravenous and intra-arterial transfusion of blood and/or fluids.
The scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims.
The device may provide pressures of between 8-20 bar, useful for example in fire extinguishers and other specialized devices.
Some embodiments provide devices for dispensing material under pressure which are simpler and cheaper to make, lighter, require less expensive components, enable greater variety of shapes and sizes, can be adapted to a greater ranger of products, and are more ecologically sound than prior art devices.
Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not necessarily limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of the components and/or methods set forth in the following description and/or illustrated in the drawings and/or the Examples. The invention is capable of other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in various ways.
The present invention relates to a device according to claim 1, and a method according to claim 10.
A section of an extruded rubber-based sleeve may be used.
Other mechanisms for producing compressive (i.e. centripetal) pressure on a bag contained within a compressing device are presented herein, and all sleeves and all such other mechanisms are included in the term "sleeve" as used herein.
For simplicity of exposition, in some cases, reference is made to the "top" and "bottom" of a dispensing device or a component thereof. As used herein, "top" refers to a portion of a device near the valve of the device, and "bottom" refers to the opposite end of the device, so that the "top" and "bottom" of the device are defined with respect to the device structure without reference to the device's temporary position in space.
In some embodiments the bag and valve are comprised in a "Bag-on-valve" (herein "BOV") module, a module well known in the art and used in many Dual Compartment aerosol product dispensers. The well-known "Bag-in-can" (herein "BIC") structure may be used.
EXEMPLARY SLEEVE/BAG MODULE FOR PRESSURIZING DISPENSABLE MATERIALS:
Referring now to the drawings, Figures 1 and 2 are photographs of a pressure dispenser 100 (also called a "delivery module 100" herein) for dispensing fluidly dispensable materials under pressure.
Dispenser 100 may be placed within and connected to an external container. Dispenser 100 may be provided with only a cosmetic external layer. Dispenser 100 may be sold and used without any external covering.
Figure 1 presents at position 'A' a flexible bag 110 attached to a valve 120. Bag 110 is a bag or pouch capable of holding a material to be dispensed, and capable of being connected to a valve. Bag 110 will generally be constructed of a substance not expected to interact chemically with whatever material it is expected to hold and to dispense.
In the figure, bag 110 is shown as a Bag-on-valve combination ("BOV" herein), here labeled BOV 150. BOV 150 is a standard component of aerosol products and is well known in the industry.
A BOV 150 shown in the figure comprises a valve 120 and a valve assembly structure 130 which holds valve 120 and attaches it to bag 110. As shown in the figure, bag 110 is empty and partially rolled upon itself below valve 120. BOV valves generally comprise a spring holding the valve closed. When these valves are pressed against the spring a pathway is opened, enabling pressurized material to flow past the valve. However it is to be understood that other valves known in the art may be used.
At position 'B' in Figure 1 an elastic sleeve 200 is presented. In Figure 1 a cut section of a continuously extruded rubber-based tube is used as sleeve 200. However, the example of sleeve 200 shown in the figure should be considered exemplary and not limiting. Sleeve 200 is not necessarily extruded and not necessarily cut from a longer tube of similar material. Some additional optional constructions of sleeve 110 are shown in Figures 2 and 3. In general, sleeve 200 is characterized being sized and shaped to be able to contain bag 110 and to exert pressure on bag 110 when bag 110 is filled with material to be dispensed. In various examples discussed in detail below sleeve 200 is open on top and bottom, yet in some optional examples sleeve 200 is closed at the bottom. Optionally, sleeve 200 may be of non-uniform thickness or have a non-uniform distribution of other physical characteristics. For example, a sleeve 200 might be thinner near the ends, where less force is required.
At position 'C' in Figure 1, sleeve 200 is shown enclosing bag 110, thereby forming a pressure dispensing module 100. According to manufacturing processes discussed below, bag 110, before or after being inserted into sleeve 200, may be filled with a dispensable material. Once bag 110 is filled and sleeve 200 is in place, sleeve 200 exerts a centripetal pressure on bag 110 by virtue of its elasticity. In some examples sleeve 200 exerts centripetal pressure on bag 110 even when bag 110 is empty, and sleeve 200 must be stretched to some degree in order for bag 110 to be inserted therein.
Figure 2 shows dispensing module 100 after bag 110 has been filled with a material to be dispensed. In some examples, bag 110 is filled through valve 110, dispensable material being optionally forced under pressure into bag 110 after bag 110 is positioned within sleeve 200. As may be seen in the figure, sleeve 200 is stretched to give place to material contents which have been inserted in bag 110, and which are being held under pressure, with bag 110 holding the contents and sleeve 200 applying the pressure. Figure 2 is an example of a BOV implementation shown without a container so as to make visible the shape of sleeve 200 when a BOV bag within is filled. In some examples and in normal use, assembly of a BOV aerosol comprises placing the BOV bag within a sleeve 200 (methods for doing this are discussed below), optionally placing the bag/sleeve combination in a container (such as a prior art type of aerosol container), and then filling bag 110 through its valve under pressure, precisely as is done with prior art aerosol products.
In some examples, a bag 110 may be filled, at least in part, before bag 110 is subjected to pressure from sleeve 200. For example, Figure 3 is a simplified schematic of an alternative filling scheme, using components known in the industry as "Bag in can", or "BIC". Filling stages 1-6 are shown in the figure.
- Stage 1 shows an empty BIC pouch 112, a form of bag 110.
- Stage 2 shows pouch 112 attached to a top plate 114, which will become the top of an aerosol can.
- Stage 3 shows pouch 112 being filled with a material 115 to be dispensed. (Gravity or low-pressure filling is often used in BIC manufacture.)
- Stage 4 shows a valve 120 added to top plate 114.
- Stage 5 shows a sleeve 200 positioned around filled pouch 112. (Methods for accomplishing this are presented below.)
- At stage 6, pouch 112 and sleeve 200 are together introduced into a can or canister 116, which is then attached to top plate 114, completing the assembly process.
Typical (non-limiting) dimensions
- Sleeve 200 length: 60-260 mm
- Diameter of lumen 250 before expansion: 4-8 mm
- Thickness of sleeve 200 before stretching: about 2-3 mm
- Diameter of lumen 250 after stretching (i.e. after filling of bag 110): 30-70 mm (BOV and BIC)
ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTIONS FOR SLEEVE 200:
Figures 4 and 5 are simplified schematics showing alternative methods of construction of sleeve 200, according to an embodiment of the present invention. In Figure 4, at least one spring 210, optionally of metallic or plastic construction, is used to compress a bag 110 (optionally, a BOV 150). Spring 210 may be a helical spring expanded beyond its natural resting position, and which therefore exerts a centripetal force on bag 110 so long as it is so expanded. This configuration is shown in Figure 4. Alternatively spring 210 may be formed of geometrical shapes (for example, squiggles and polygons) arranged circumferentially and having a tendency to contract and thereby apply radial pressure to a volume within the spring(s), such as configurations used in medical stents.
In Figure 5, a helical elastic band 220 is wrapped under tension around a bag 110, optionally from top to bottom. Elastic qualities of elastic band 220 cause it to apply centripetal pressure to bag 110 in a manner similar to that of solid sleeve 200 shown in Figure 2.
It is to be noted that Figures 1-5 present several examples of types of sleeve 200. These examples are exemplary only, and should not be considered limiting. Sleeve 200 may be an extruded rubber tube, or a rubber tube made in some manner other than extrusion, and/or may be made of other elastic materials (for example Silicone, Polyethylene, EPDM, EP, SBR, Natural Rubber, and similar materials) or a combination of materials, may comprise nano-particles as discussed below, or may be constructed of one or more springs 210 or one or more elastic bands 220, or comprise a combination of these and/or other elements capable of containing a bag 110 and exerting and sustaining an elastic force towards bag 110 while at least partially surrounding it. It is contemplated that a sleeve 200 may be presented in an airtight container (closed at ambient pressure or at a slightly higher pressure, for example a pressure between 1-1.5 bar) which will present some resistance to shocks or pressure from outside sources. Most of the examples presented by the figures herein comprise a sleeve 200 cut to a selected length from a long tube of continuously extruded rubber, but this example is exemplary and not limiting, and the word "sleeve" and the designation "sleeve 200" should be understood to include all examples mentioned in the present paragraph, and all examples which are physically similar or have similar effects.
EXEMPLARY PRESSURE RANGES:
With reference to the amount of pressure made available by sleeve 200, for some uses, called "low pressure" applications herein, such as for example, dispensers for food or food components, cosmetics, medicines, salves, creams, ointments, glue, toothpaste and the like, a maximum pressure of 1.5-4 bar when bag 110 is full may be appropriate. Optionally, for aerosol applications, pressure in the neighborhood of 7-8 bar when bag 110 is full is considered appropriate, with a minimum pressure optionally falling two between 2-5 bar as the device is emptied. For some applications, higher pressures are indicated: between 10 and 20 bar might be indicated for a fire extinguisher, for example. All such pressure ranges, and indeed any pressure above room pressure and up to 20 bar or more may be appropriate, though those specific ranges are not to be considered limiting.
Delivering a material at low pressure but at a fast rate, or at high pressure but at a slow rate, is also contemplated.
PROVIDING RESIDUAL PRESSURE AS BAG EMPTIES:
With reference to the minimum pressure provided by sleeve 200, little or no significant pressure may be applied by sleeve 200 to bag 110 unless and until bag 110 is filled or partially filled with a dispensable material 115. However, sleeve 200 may provide a minimum pressure, for example a pressure of between 1.5 and 4.5 bar, even when bag 110 is empty, and that pressure rises when bag 110 is filled. One possible purpose of this minimum pressure, which is the residual pressure that remains when bag 110 empties out during use, is to force substantially all or almost all of contents 115 to exit bag 110 as bag 110 empties out. Under that residual pressure, free-to-flow contents of bag 110 will find their way to valve 120, if valve 120 is held open and every other flow direction encounters a residual pressure of somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5 bar. It should be noted that this fact constitutes a potentially significant advantage of low pressure devices over prior art low-pressure systems, where the difficulty of getting the last bit of contents out of, say, a ketchup bottle or a toothpaste tube, are well known to all.
It may be considered desirable to minimize the difference between maximum and minimum pressures, but in general these values will be chosen with specific uses and materials in mind. Some exemplary ranges include max/min pressure values of about 8/3 or 7/3 or 9/3.5, the choice for a particular application depending, among other considerations, on the viscosity of the material and the delivery rate that is required. A pressure of 8 bar, diminishing to 3 bar as bag 110 empties, may be considered to provide adequate performance for some aerosols.
ATTACHMENT OF SLEEVE TO BAG OR 'BOV':
A first end portion of a sleeve may be positioned so that it surrounds a portion of the BOV valve assembly structure 130 (or any other structure that comprises a valve and attaches that valve to a bag), so that pressure applied by the sleeve end portion on the valve assembly structure binds sleeve, valve, and bag to each other. According to the invention, pressure and induced friction between sleeve and valve assembly structure 130 suffice to hold the two together, though some movement may take place during construction or operation. This arrangement comprises a method for mounting sleeve and BOV (or other bag and valve module) together, and is convenient for manufacture because no gluing, welding, screwing, crimping, nor other similar methods of attachment are needed. (Optionally, a pressure adhesive can be used.)
Figure 6 is a simplified schematic showing details of such a method for mounting a sleeve 200 and bag 110 (optionally a BOV 150) so that they are anchored to each other, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Figure 6 shows a valve assembly structure 130 of a BOV or of any other configuration combining a valve 120 with a bag 110. Valve assembly structure 130 contains valve 120, connects to bag 110, and possesses a surface which can come in contact with a top end region 240 of sleeve 200. In some embodiments, as discussed in detail herein below, during manufacture of dispenser 100 sleeve 200 is caused to expand so that bag 110 may be inserted therein. In some embodiments valve assembly structure 130 is also introduced into internal lumen 250 of sleeve 200. On the figure, for clarity, a space is shown at positions 'A' between valve assembly structure 130 and top end 240 of sleeve 200, as might be the case during insertion of bag 110 and structure 130 into sleeve 200. However, once insertion is completed and sleeve 200 is cause to relax, sleeve 200 optionally contracts around bag 110 and top end 240 of sleeve 200 optionally contracts around valve assembly structure 130, effectively grasping structure 130 and binding structure 130 and sleeve 200 together. (If desired, a spacer can optionally be added between bag and sleeve or between sleeve and valve assembly structure, to ensure a desired minimal pressure and/or contact quality.)
This method of construction can be significant, because of its simplicity: sleeve 200 is caused to expand, bag 110 and structure 130 are inserted, and sleeve 200 contracts, and no crimping, gluing, welding, snapping, screwing, or other complex forms of attachment are necessarily required.
PROVIDING A SLEEVE LONGER THAN A BAG CONTAINED IN THE SLEEVE:
The sleeve may be longer than the bag, so that when a top end of a sleeve is attached to a valve or to a portion of a bag near a valve, the bottom end of the sleeve) extends beyond the end of the bag.
Figure 6 shows such a configuration. As seen in the figure, "top" end 240 of sleeve 200 (the end which will be near the valve) is positioned near and somewhat above the top end of bag 110, while the 'bottom' end 242 of sleeve 200 (also called "distal end 242") extends well below the bottom of bag 110. For example, in an exemplary device using a bag 110 15 cm long from top to bottom, a sleeve 200 might extend between 1 and 2 cm below the bottom of bag 110.
This configuration may help to provide adequate pressure containment for the pressurized contents of bag 110, despite the fact that sleeve 200 is open at both ends. If sleeve 200 were no longer than bag 110 and open at top and/or bottom, the related top and/or bottom of bag 110 would be unsupported and subjected to a high pressure differential, with highly pressurized contents 115 within bag 110 and no support outside the bag ends. However, as may be seen in the optional configuration shown in the Figure 6, sleeve 200 extends both above the top of bag 110 and below the bottom of bag 110. Since sleeve 200 is not expanded by pressure from bag 110 at this top and bottom ends, these ends tend to be forced into a somewhat funnel-like configuration, as may be seen in Figure 2. Material from bag 110 (and in particular the content-empty supporting edges of the bag of a BOV according to standard BOV manufacture) may 'bunch up', folding upon itself within these funnel-like end sections above and below the content-filled portions of bag 110, where they may provide support and strength in these end regions which would otherwise receive less direct support than that received by the sides of bag 110, since sleeve 200 presses directly on the sides of bag 110 but does not press directly on the ends of bag 110 because of the open-ended construction of sleeve 200. In some devices wherein a standard BOV bag is used, it is the non-fillable bag material which surrounds the fillable portion of the bag which may bunch up near valve assembly structure 130 and within distal end 242, where it adds sufficient support to enable bag 110 to hold contents pressurized to 7 or 8 bar or higher without danger of a 'blowout'.
(Optional additional methods for providing support for portions of bag 110 at positions near an open end of sleeve 200 include positioning a foam spacer or similar object within the sleeve end, closing or partially closing an and of sleeve 200 by cutting or folding its end, adding an end-cap, and providing a funnel-shaped end portion of bag 110 so that it better conforms to sleeve 200.)
An additional potential advantage of a configuration in which distal end 242 of extends beyond a distal end of bag 110 is shown in Figure 7A, which is a simplified schematic of a delivery module 100 combined with a container 180 to form a contained dispenser 101 (also called a contained delivery module 101 herein).
Bag 110 and sleeve 200 may be contained in and attached to an external container, and the bottom end of sleeve 200 may be sized so as to touch (and optionally be supported by) the bottom of that external container, which may optionally be shaped to facilitate this contact. This configuration may immobilize or inhibit movement of the sleeve within the container, and may provide support against gravity for the sleeve/bag combination, which in some examples may be filled with 200-500 grams or more of material 115. Without support provided to delivery module 100, bag 110 would be left hanging on the valve assembly, and would be in danger of tearing off that assembly, resulting in catastrophic decompression, if the package were mishandled or subject to sudden acceleration, for example if it were to fall and sharply strike a hard floor.
Figure 7A shows a configuration which may solve this potential problem. To the configuration of Figure 6, a container 180 has been added. Note the position of distal end 242 with respect to container 180: the length of sleeve 200 is adjusted so that distal end 242 can rest on the distal (i.e. the bottom) end of container 180. In this position end 242 provides support for bag 110, whether bag 110 is empty or full. (Note: in Figure 7A a slight separation is present for clarity of the figure, but it is to be understood that in some embodiments, distal end 242 touches the bottom of container 180 and is supported by it.) This configuration may be contrasted to some configurations of prior art, in which an expandable bag containing content to be dispersed hangs unsupported from its connection near a valve, and swings around within its container without support from beneath it.
ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS WITH SLEEVE AND BAG OF SIMILAR LENGTHS:
Figures 7B-7C are simplified schematics of an alternative arrangement for bag and sleeve. In these figures a sleeve 200 has approximately the same length as a bag 110.
Figure 7B shows bag 110 empty, and a loose or partially contracted sleeve 200 around it. Above bag and sleeve, a top disk 170 is provided, optionally attached to a valve assembly structure 130, or optionally attached to sleeve 200. Below bag and sleeve, a bottom disk 172 is provided, also optionally attached to sleeve 200. Optionally, top disk 170 may be attached to a rod or cable connecting top disk 170 to bottom disk 172. In another option, disks 170 and 172 may optionally be components of or attached to an external container 180.
Figure 7C shows the same example after bag 110 has been filled, causing sleeve 200 to expand laterally. Top disk 170 and bottom disk 172 are designed to provide adequate support to top and bottom of bag 110 under conditions of the pressure exerted by sleeve 200 on bag 110. While the contents of bag 110 are under pressure from sleeve 200, lateral walls of bag 110 are not in danger of a 'blowout' because pressure exerted outward by contents of bag 110 meet an equal pressure exerted inward by sleeve 200. However since sleeve 200 is optionally open at one or both ends, the top and/or bottom of bag 110 could be subject to outward pressure from contents of bag 110, not matched by inward pressure of sleeve 200. Top disk 170 and bottom disk 172 are provided to support the top and bottom of bag 110.
Top disk 170 and bottom disk 172 are optionally embodied as top and bottom of an external container 180. Optionally, sides 174 may also be provided outside sleeve 200 to hold disks 170 and 172 in place, and these may optionally be sides of an external container 180.
COMPATIBILITY WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS:
A delivery module 100 (including bag 110, valve 120 and associated hardware, and sleeve 200) is sized to be insertable into a container sized and shaped as an aerosol can, for example an aerosol can such as is used in prior art devices which use a gas propellant. During device manufacture, a bag (e.g. a BOV) may be inserted into a sleeve during expansion of the sleeve as described above, then the bag and sleeve combination is inserted in a can, then the bag is filled through the valve under pressure from the material source. The bag-filling process is therefore optionally similar to the way BOV bags have traditionally been filled, and standard filling machines can be used with some embodiments of the present invention with relatively minor modifications. Indeed, the filling process is potentially simplified because with some embodiments of the present invention the stages of filling with propellant and testing for leaks are eliminated, and since the joining of bag and sleeve to external container is not pressure-sensitive, crimping is unnecessary and can optionally be replaced by a simpler and cheaper methods of attachment.
A BOV bag, wrapped around itself and contained in a sleeve 200, can optionally be made small enough to pass through the standard opening (about 1" diameter) made to fit the standard top of a BOV, making it compatible with a size standard of the aerosol industry. As shown in the Figure 7, a container 180 is positioned for connection to such a top. Using a bag and sleeve which can be inserted into an external container and then subsequently filling the bag not only enables a manufacturer to use existing production lines with relatively minor changes, it also optionally enables a manufacturer to use existing containers (e.g. existing aerosol cans, for existing product lines, having standard-sized openings on top, graphics designs familiar to customers, etc.) and existing BOVs, valves, and other parts, while yet producing and selling embodiments of the present invention. Similarly, BIC containers can be used and BIC production sequences can be used with minor modifications.
EASE OF ATTACHMENT OF PRESSURE DISPENSER TO AN EXTERNAL CONTAINER:
Prior art aerosol cans contain a propellant under pressure. Consequently, when attaching a BOV or other bag arrangement to an external container, care must be taken to provide a solid and reliable airtight connection able to withstand aerosol pressures, which are typically in the 7-8 bar range. Accordingly, aerosol valve assembly structures typically comprise a solid cap with a gasket, which is attached to the body of an aerosol can by crimping, or by a similar process, to produce a reliable seal able to stand up to high pressure without leaking. The materials and process involved add cost and complexity as compared to some means and methods which may be used to attach a pressure dispenser 100 to a container 180. Since pressure is supplied a tendency of elastic sleeve 200 to contract to its resting state, no gas pressure need be maintained within container 180. Therefore, a BOV 150 or other pressure dispenser 100 can be attached to an external container 180 using lighter, simpler, and cheaper materials and/or methods than those used by the prior art. For example, a standard P.E.T plastic can be used, with one part simply snapping to another, or one part screwing into another, or a glue or any other simple attaching mechanism can be used. This fact makes this attaching process cheaper and simpler than those required to connect a BOV to a container according to methods of prior art.
Optionally, container 180 may be made airtight, e.g. containing air at room pressure or at somewhat elevated presssure, so as to help it withstand external impacts to which a product might be subjected during distribution or during use.
Optionally, container 180 may be made intentionally not airtight, for example to prevent pressure differentials in low or high pressure contexts such as air transportation or decompression chambers.
FREEDOM IN DESIGN OF EXTERNAL CONTAINER:
Since in some examples container 180 is not required to hold a pressurized propellant, these examples are neither practically nor legally required to be of cylindrical shape and/or to be very solidly constructed, as is the case for at least some prior art aerosol containers. As a result, some examples may comprise external containers 180 which are constructed of weaker, cheaper, and simpler materials (for example P.E.T, carton, glass, thin metal), and/or using simpler and more economical construction processes, than those which can be used by aerosol containers according to prior art. In consequence, products which comprise embodiments of the present invention may be constructed in a variety of external shapes selected according to aesthetic or marketing or other considerations. Containers of a variety of shapes and materials are contemplated. For example, curved shapes, shapes which are triangular, hexagonal, rectangular, oval, other geometric shapes, shapes which are concave on multiple sides, have straight sides, or have sides which are combine concave and/or convex and/or straight sides, and entirely irregular shapes may be selected and used for aesthetic reasons, to individualize or draw attention to a product, to facilitate packing and handling, or for a variety of commercial reasons. In contrast to the practical and in some cases regulatory limitations of prior art aerosol containers, some examples optionally present an aerosol or other pressure dispenser 100 in one of the shapes mentioned in this paragraph or in other non-cylindrical shapes.
SLEEVES WITH MULTIPLE LAYERS OR STRIPS OR SECTIONS:
Attention is now drawn to Figures 8A-8D, which are simplified schematics of sleeves 200 which comprise multiple layers and/or multiple strips of elastic material. Such sleeves are labeled 209 in Figures 8A-8D, but it is to be understood that any of sleeves 200 mentioned herein can be constructed utilizing multiple layers and/or multiple strips of differing material compositions. Such multiple layers or strips can optionally be extruded together, or a layer can be applied or attached or sprayed or painted onto an existing other layer to make a sleeve 209, or a sleeve or sleeve portion can be used as a mold for injection molding. Optionally, sleeves can be stretched during any of these processes. Optionally, layers and surfaces need not necessarily be flat but can be created with undulations or other surface features.
Note that these figures are not to scale, some layers being of exaggerated thickness in the figures, for clarity of the drawing. Also, it is to be understood that any of the various features presented separately in Figures 8A-8D may also be used in combination, and may be used in conjunction with any of the various examples described herein.
EXAMPLES WITHOUT CONTAINERS:
In some examples, a sleeve 209, optionally produced by a multi-layer extrusion process or by an attaching or painting or spraying or molding or similar process, provides an external layer having selected aesthetic characteristics (e.g. desirable shape, color, surface texture, etc.) or mechanical characteristics (e.g. a non-slip surface, adaptation to particular environmental conditions) covering a sleeve body whose physical characteristics are optionally chosen to enhance its elastic and energy-storing capacity. Figure 8A presents a cross-section of a sleeve 200 with an inside layer 202 designed to enhance its elastic energy-storing capability, surrounded by an outside layer 204 designed for selected aesthetic and/or tactile qualities and/or other presentational qualities, which can be produced simultaneously by a combined extrusion process.
EXAMPLES WITHOUT INDEPENDENT BAGS:
In some examples, a sleeve 200 comprises layer 206 (which may be thought of as a surface or a coating) covering an inner wall 208 which defines a lumen 250 within a sleeve 200. Layer 206 can be designed, for example, to minimize or prevent interaction between a material 115 introduced into lumen 250 and elastic material comprising a layer 202 made of material selected for its elastic energy-storing capabilities. In these embodiments, layer 202 may be porous and/or may react with a material 115, and layer 206 may be designed for impermeability and for minimal reactivity. Figure 8B can be used to produce a device in which a material can be stored under pressure and dispensed through a valve, wherein layer 206, though an extruded layer of sleeve 200, serves as bag 110 and provides the functionality of bag 110 as described herein. (In some of these examples, where layer 206 functions as a bag 110, lumen 250, within layer 206, will be closed at least at its bottom, e.g. by welding or gluing of the bottom and optionally the top ends of sleeve 200, optionally to top and bottom disks similar to those shown in Figure 7B and 7C or to a cap of similar construction.)
WHICH COMBINE EXTRUDED STRIPS OR LAYERS TO TAILOR EXPANSION CHARACTERISTICS:
In some examples, multi-layer extrusion is used to create a sleeve in which each of a plurality of layers, strips, or regions combines different properties of elasticity, strength, and/or different resting diameters, and/or differences in other physical characteristics which cause them to respond differently under applied force and/or thermal energy and/or electric potential, or which differ in other physical properties. Figure 8C is constructed with a multi-layer extrusion wherein each of a plurality of layers (in the figure, layers 209, 211, 213) has different physical properties. In some examples, 2, 3, 4, or more layers may be used, and in some examples, a continuous variance of physical characteristics over all or part of an extrusion cross-section or extrusion length may be used.
In some examples, multi-material extrusion is used to create a sleeve in which each of a plurality of regions (optionally longitudinal strips) have different properties of elasticity and strength and/or different resting diameters, and/or differences in other physical characteristics which cause them to respond differently under applied force. Such strips can optionally be combined to produce an elastic performance with desirable characteristics. Such a structure is shown in Figure 8D, and may be used, for example, to produce a sleeve 200 which provides a relatively uniform amount of pressure under differing conditions of expansion, thereby creating a dispenser with relatively uniform performance (pressure, dispensing rate), while, during use, a bag 110 contained within is gradually emptied of its contents. Figure 8D is optionally constructed with a multi-strip extrusion wherein each of a plurality of strips (in the figure, strips 217, 219, 221, 223) has different elastic properties.
WITH SLEEVES WITH SELECTED EXTERNAL SHAPES:
Attention is now drawn to Figure 8E, which is a simplified schematic of a sleeve 200, here labeled sleeve 231 having an external shape which differs from a shape of its internal lumen, according to an example. In the example shown in the figure, lumen 250 is of circular cross-section, whereas external wall 233 of sleeve 221 is of square cross section. It is to be understood that these shapes are exemplary and not limiting. External shape of sleeve 221 might, for example, be triangular, or oval, have convex and/or concave sides, or have some other geometric or irregular shape. Examples with sleeves 200 with designed external shapes optionally different from shapes of internal lumen 250 of the sleeves may be used with external containers (which they are optionally designed to fit) or without external containers (optionally with an external surface 'presentational' layer, as described in Figure 8B.
USE OF ENHANCED RUBBER:
When pressurizing a bag of deliverable material by means of an elastic sleeve 200, it can be useful to have a sleeve with a high elasticity modulus, providing a high energy storage density. In some examples, threads or narrow bands or other connecting or elastic materials may be added to a rubber or other material to enhance elastic characteristics of a sleeve.
In some embodiments, nano-particles of clay or other materials are added to rubber used to construct sleeve 200. In general, rubbers having high ultimate elongation have low modulus. In some embodiments, a reinforcing material is incorporated in a rubber, to increase rigidity of the rubber while enabling a desired level of elongation (elasticity). In some embodiments nano-particles are used as the reinforcing material.
Selection of quantity and type of nano particles and/or other reinforcing materials, and methods of processing them, may depend on desired performance characteristics and/or thickness or other desired physical characteristics of an apparatus designed for a particular application.
The published articles listed below describe research in this field. The Stress-Strain curves shown in each article compare various rubber formulations with and without nano particles. They show lower stress-strain curves showing performance of a rubber without nano-particles, as a control groups, and upper curves showing stress-strain performance of formulations combining rubber-based composition with nano particles such as Nanoclay (NC), Graphene, Nanosilica (NS) and Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). As the experimental results show, these formulations provide improved modulus at adequate elongation. As may be seen from the curves shown in the articles, nano-particles dramatically increase the elasticity modulus of a rubber, for which reason in some examples, we use them in rubber used to construct sleeve 200. In some experiments tensile strength of 20 MPa was achieved with rubber of 1.5-2.0mm thickness, which is well beyond what normal rubber without nano particles can achieve. (Stress-strain curves in the following articles are based on standard material test procedures using material of 1.5mm to2mm thickness.) Examples in which sleeve 200 is constructed of rubber treated with nano particles can compress a bag 110 to 7-8 bar of pressure, using a sleeve as little as 3mm thick. In other words, addition of nano particles to rubber enhances the capacity of that rubber to serve as an energy storage device.
Here are the articles:
- Amit Das, Francis Reny Costa, Udo Wagenknecht, Gert Heinrich. Nanocomposites based on chloroprene rubber: Effect of chemical nature and organic modification of nanoclay on the vulcanizate properties, European Polymer Journal 44 (2008) 3456-3465, available at www.elsevier.com/locate/europolij;
- Das, R.N. Mahaling, K.W. Stöckelhuber, G. Heinrich. Reinforcement and migration of nanoclay in polychloroprene/ethylene-propylene-diene-monomer rubber blends. Composites Science and Technology, Issue 71 (2011), Pages 276-281, available at www.elsevier.com/locate/compscitech;
- Yoong Ahm Kim, Takuaya Hayashi, Morinobu Endo,Yasuo Gotoh, Noriaki Wada, Junji Seiyama. Fabrication of aligned carbon nanotube-filled rubber composite. Scripta Materialia, Issue 54 (2006), Pages 31-35, available at www.sciencedirect.com; and
- Xin Bai, Chaoying Wan, Yong Zhang, Yinghao Zhai. Reinforcement of hydrogenated carboxylated nitrile-butadiene rubber with exfoliated graphene oxide. Carbon, Volume 49, Issue 5, April 2011, Pages 1608-1613, available at www.elsevier.com/locate/carbon.
SOME SPECIFIC USES:
A bag/sleeve combination may be formed as a transfusion module operable to provide gravity-independent transfusions of blood and/or other liquids into to the blood stream of a patient, e.g. in hospital and in first-aid situations. Such an example can provide greater comfort to a patient, eliminating the need for IV stands and long trailing tubes beside the bedside, but rather can optionally be positioned near the transfusion site and taped or otherwise conveniently attached to the limb of a patient, who is then able to move around with less difficulty than using prior art transfusion methods. Emergency transportation of patients could also be greatly facilitated using such a module.
Transfusion modules can adapted to providing transfusion materials at selected pressures, e.g. to simulate a standard hospital drip bag, or alternatively to provide a rapid transfusion source for emergency situations.
Figure 8F is a simplified schematic of a transfusion module 305. Module 305 comprises a bag 110 filled with blood or other transfusion fluids, a sleeve 200 compressing bag 110 at a desired pressure, and optionally comprises or connects to a valve 120 (which may be embodied as a mechanical valve and/or an electronic dosage machine and/or another dosage control mechanism) formed as a dispensing control 350 for controlling delivery rate of the transfusion fluid, and optionally comprises attachments 310, (optionally, straps comprising Velcro attachments 320 or something similar) for attaching module 305 to a bed or stretcher or to a patient's body. A pressure of between 1.5 and 4 bar may be used in module 305. In the opinion of some physicians, residual pressure in module 305 should not fall below 1.5 bar as bag 110 of module 305 empties out. Maximum pressures selected for module 305 may depend on its intended use, and depend on the viscosity of the material being transfused and the desired delivery rate. For example, a sleeve providing between 4 and 6 bar of pressure might be used, or a sleeve providing 2-3 bar of pressure might be used with a dispensing control 350 which is able to provide a high deliver rate.
EXEMPLARY CONSTRUCTION METHODS:
Some examples comprise methods and apparatus for manufacturing devices as described hereinabove. In some examples, sleeves 200 are provided with graspable fins or other forms running along the length of the sleeve, or other graspable shapes (for example, the corners of a square or triangular shape) comprised on a sleeve, integral to the sleeve or attached to it, and during construction these graspable shapes are grasped and pulled away from each other by a mechanism which thereby expands the sleeve so that a bag (e.g., full or empty) can be inserted therein. In some examples, a set of rods or other thin, elongate and optionally bend-resistant elements are inserted into the lumen of a sleeve, and then are pulled apart, expanding the sleeve and enabling insertion of a bag. In some examples, high pressure within a sleeve and/or low pressure outside a sleeve expand the sleeve and enable bag insertion.
Attention is now drawn to Figures 9-11, which are simplified schematics showing a method for expanding a sleeve 200 by pulling its sides outward during a manufacturing process.
Figure 9 presents the problem to be solved: in some examples, it is desirable that sleeve 200 provide residual pressure on bag 110 even when bag 110 is empty or nearly empty. To accomplish this, in some examples, it is necessary to introduce bag 110 into internal lumen 250 of sleeve 200, although that lumen has a diameter smaller than the diameter of rolled-up bag 110. This situation is shown in Figure 9.
An exemplary solution is presented in Figure 10. In some examples, an assembly apparatus (not shown in its entirety) comprises a set of at least three grippers 320. Grippers 320 are designed to grasp graspable shapes 322, which are part of or attached to sleeve 200, as shown in Figure 9. In some examples, graspable shapes 322 are constructed as continuous extensions from an external wall of sleeve 200. In some embodiments sleeve 200 is constructed by an extrusion process which produces a long tube which is subsequently cut into segments of a length appropriate for a specific application. Graspable shapes 322 are optionally constructed as integral parts of sleeve 200 extending outward and formed in a shape which is convenient for being grasped and pulled by grippers 320. In some embodiments, shapes 322 are simply corners or other graspable portions of sleeve 200.
Grippers 320 may have jaws or surfaces which come together to grasp all or parts of shapes 322, and to pull them, optionally moved by a motor or servo-mechanism such as a robotic arm.
In some alternate examples for example in Figure 10, shapes 322 of sleeve 200 comprise a thick portion (e.g. the arrowhead shapes of shapes 322 in Figure 9) connected to a narrower portion (e.g. the short arrow bodies connected to the arrowhead shapes 322 in Figure 9), and grippers 320 comprise a slot 324 sized and shaped for receiving therein, in a longitudinal sliding motion, at least the thick portions of shapes 322. (Optionally, grippers can be moved to slide over the shapes, or the sleeve can be moved to slide the shapes within the grippers.) These thick portions are able to slide longitudinally within slots 324 (i.e. in a direction perpendicular to the plane of Figure 10, but are designed not to be pulled laterally from slots 324 under the pressures required to stretch sleeve 200 sufficiently to insert bag 110 (empty or full, depending on the application and dispenser design), and the narrow portions are designed to resist tearing under pressures required to expand sleeve 200 to that extent. Consequently, pulling a gripper 320 laterally away from an extension 322 engaged within it (i.e. in the direction of arrows 328), results in pulling a portion of an external wall of sleeve 200 away from the center of sleeve 200. To insert a BOV into a sleeve 200, expansion of the sleeve to a diameter of a bit more than an inch may suffice, since the sleeve/BOV combination may in some embodiments be expected to be introducible into a aerosol can with a standard one-inch opening. The degree of expansion sufficient to enable placing the pouch of a BIC within a sleeve will typically be much larger, and may approximate the diameter of the can to be used.
During assembly of some devices, grippers 320 equipped with jaws or the equivalent may grip at least parts of shapes 322 and pull them as indicated by arrows 328. During assembly of some devices, grippers 320 having slots 324 sized for graspable shapes 322 may be slid over those shapes, and then pulled as indicated by arrows 328.
Figure 11 shows the result: sleeve 200 is expanded, and lumen 250 becomes big enough to accommodate a bag 110, which can be inserted therein, (optionally using an introducer tube which is then retracted) after which sleeve 200 is allowed to relax, whereon it will apply pressure to bag 110. If a top portion of a BOV 150 comprising a valve assembly structure 130 is inserted within a top of sleeve 200, sleeve 200 will grasp and hold valve assembly structure 130, connecting sleeve to BOV, as explained earlier with reference to Figure 6.
In prior art assembly methods, BOV bags are typically filled after insertion in a canister and pressurization of that canister. The optional method shown in Figures 9-11 produces a BOV/sleeve combination which can be inserted in such a canister, and then optionally filled, optionally under pressure through the valve, as is usual using the equipment and techniques usual in the aerosol industry today (the equipment optionally modified to in that no gas propellant is introduced). Alternatively, the method shown in Figures 9-11 can be used to stretch sleeve 200 sufficiently for inserting therein a filled bag 110.
Attention is now drawn to Figures 12-15, which are simplified images of an apparatus 400 for expanding a sleeve 200 by applying pressure from within lumen 250 outwards.
Figures 12-15 show a method which can be used to enable insertion of a bag 110 (filled or not yet filled) into sleeve 200.
Figure 12 shows a sleeve 200 positioned above a set of expanding arms 410 which can be pushed upwards by a movement mechanism 420. Figures 13 and 14 show two views of a stretching operation in progress, with sleeve 200 in a semi-expanded state. Figure 15 shows sleeve 200 in an expanded state, arms 410 having been forcibly pushed outward from within lumen 250 as extensions 415 of arms 410 are pushed downward (as arms 410 are pushed upward) by extensions 417 of mechanism 400. It is to be understood that details of the examples shown in Figures 12-15 are exemplary only and are not to be considered limiting. Any mechanical arrangement for expanding sleeve 200 outward by exerting pushing pressure from within is considered disclosed, including pushing sleeve outward by means of arms or rods pushed from one end (as shown in the figure) or held and pushed from both ends, and also comprising pushing sleeve 200 outward by means of a pressure differential existing between lumen 250 and the environment outside sleeve 200.
Pushing the walls of sleeve 200 outwards and enlarging lumen 250 enable to insert a bag 110 into lumen 250. Relaxing sleeve 200 after insertion of bag 110 exerts pressure on bag 110 and, optionally on a valve assembly structure 130 associated with bag 110, as described above.
Bag 110 may be inserted in sleeve 200, then optionally positioned in a container, then filled under pressure. This process is optionally compatible with standard BOV filling procedures, with the exception of the process described above for inserting bag 110 into sleeve 200, instead of pressurizing a container surrounding bag 110.
Bag 110 may be inserted full into sleeve 200. This process is optionally compatible with standard BIC filling procedures, and Figure 15 shows a filled BIC bag 110 inserted into an expanded sleeve 200, after which sleeve 200 will be relaxed by withdrawal of arms 410, and the BIC/sleeve combination can be inserted into a standard BIC canister, or into any other package.
Some exemplary dimensions are as follows: in BOV technology currently in use, a rolled BOV ready for insertion in a sleeve is usually between about 12mm and 18mm in diameter, and often near 15mm in diameter. In some embodiments sleeve 200 will be stretched to a diameter of between 20 and 25 mm, to accommodate the BOV. In an example of BIC technology currently in use, a pouch about 32mm in diameter may be used, e.g. for a standard Shaving Gel canister. Sleeve 200 may will be stretched to a diameter of between 35mm and 45mm, for example about 40mm, to allow insertion of the pouch. In any specific operational context a dimension for stretching of sleeve 200 will be selected taking into account the stretching mechanism used, a desired speed of operation, and other preferences and limitations.
Attention is now drawn to Figures 16 and 17, which are simplified flow charts of processes for mass production of products.
Figure 16 shows a method for producing some BOV examples. As shown in the chart, extruded tubing from a reel is cut into appropriate lengths, placed on a mounting machine, and expanded, optionally using one of the expansion methods presented above. Empty and rolled BOV units from a supply of such units are fed to the mounting machine, which positions each BOV in an expanded sleeve 200, and allows the sleeve to contract. The BOV/sleeve combination, dispenser 100, is then inserted into a container, and the BOV bag 110 is filled with the material to be dispensed.
Note that to accomplish this process, minor modifications in a production line previously adapted to aerosol production according to methods of prior art may suffice to modify the line from producing products using a BOV compressed by a gas propellant, to producing products using a BOV compressed by a sleeve 200. Where a traditional process typically uses an inserting line to introduce a pre-prepared BOV into a pre-prepared can, introduce propellant, seal the can, fill material, test for leaks and weight, and package for shipment, an optional process according to an embodiment of the present invention comprises pre-preparing sleeves 200 (by extrusion and cutting to size) and mounting sleeves 200 on Bags, (optionally using one of the stretching procedures described above), thereby producing dispensers 100 (BOV + sleeve). At that point the BOVs with their sleeves can be handled in a manner similar to that used traditionally, but simplified. The BOVs prepared can be moved to BOV position in normal or slightly modified production machinery, where it is inserted in a container in a procedure which differs little (if at all) from prior art procedures for inserting a BOV into a container. The BOV may then be sealed into its container, either using prior art methods, materials and machinery (e.g. by crimping), or optionally using a simpler type of attachment, which is possible since a pressure-resistant seal is not needed. The prior art procedures for filling the container with propellant and testing for leaks may be skipped since they are not needed, and the product, now externally identical or very similar to a prior art product, is packaged for shipment. (Note also that shipping and handling can be simplified, since disclosed examples, as contrasted to those of prior art, will not be considered a hazardous product requiring special handling.) In summary, sleeves 200 may be produced off line, and a standard production line may be used with only the addition of inserting BOV into sleeve before handling the BOV normally except for optionally using a simpler attachment method, and skipping because they are unnecessary, the prior art steps of insertion of propellant and testing for leaks.
Figure 17 shows an optional method for producing BIC examples. As shown in the chart, extruded tubing from a reel is cut into appropriate lengths to produce sleeves 200, which sleeves are placed on a mounting machine, and expanded, optionally using one of the expansion methods presented above. Figure 17 shows a process by which BIC bags filled on a filling line may be taken from the filling line, inserted in a sleeve 200, returned to the filling line, and thereafter be treated normally, i.e. according to the methods and optionally using the machines of prior art, except for skipping the production stages of filling with propellant and testing for leaks, pack and handle as is usual in the industry.
Attention is drawn to the fact that examples of the present disclosure may in some ways be safer than devices of prior art which use gas propellants. Dispensers with propellants may explode if overheated (left in a car in the sun, for example) because as their temperature goes up their internal pressure increases. If such a canister is punctured or otherwise fails, its contents may be likely to disperse under pressure. In contrast, with respect to examples deriving pressure from a sleeve 200 compressing a bag of materials, in the case of puncture or rupture of the sleeve, the pressurization of the bag contents may be reduced or eliminated when the sleeve fails, without the bag contents necessarily being dispersed, and should such a device be heated, the rubber of the sleeve could become softer, probably resulting in a reduction of its internal pressure rather than an increase.