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1. (WO2019002897) ADJUSTABLE DOSING DISPENSING ASSEMBLY AND DISPENSING DEVICE HAVING SUCH A DISPENSING ASSEMBLY, AND LOCKING ASSEMBLY FOR THE DISPENSING ASSEMBLY
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Adjustable dosing dispensing assembly and dispensing device having such a dispensing assembly, and locking assembly for the dispensing assembly

The present invention relates to an adjustable dosing dispensing assembly for dispensing a liquid or semi-liquid material, and to a dispensing device having such a dispensing assembly. The invention further relates to a locking assembly for said dispensing assembly.

US Patent No. 6,401 ,987 describes a liquid dispensing device suitable for dispensing more than one dose after each other. The amount of each dose is determined by locking positions of a locking assembly having a plurality of locking positions, thus it would be possible to dispense different doses, but the amounts of the doses cannot be changed by the user. A further disadvantage of the device is that after dispensing one or more doses, the locking assembly cannot be reset to its initial position, i.e. the device cannot be used further after its container is emptied.

US Patent Application No. 2007/0145077 discloses a dispensing device adapted for precisely dispensing metered doses of a composition stored in its container. The amount of doses is constant and cannot be changed.

Document AU 2016/100990 discloses a dispensing head suitable for precisely dispensing metered doses of liquids, particularly medical compositions. The chamber of the dispensing head communicates with a liquid storage container through a non-return valve and a further non-return valve is disposed at the outlet, thus the liquid may flow only from the container to the chamber and from the chamber to the environment. When raising the head, the volume of the inner chamber increases and liquid is drawn up from the container into the chamber and when the head is pressed down, the volume of liquid previously drawn up is dispensed. Raising the dispensing head is carried out by rotating an annular element surrounding the dispensing head and being in threaded connection therewith. The dose has to be set before dispensing. The dispensing head is returned to its initial position after each dispensing action, i.e., when the dispensing head is pressed down completely to its lower final position, the locking element closes and thus the dispensing head is secured against unintentional refilling. A disadvantage of said dispensing head is that the desired dose has to be set every single time separately before dispensing by rotating the ring-shaped element at least once, and the dispensing head is in a state ready for dispensing immediately after the dose has been set, and at this point, an unintentional dispensing is not prevented.

An object of the present invention is to provide an improvement over the known adjustable dosing dispensing assemblies. An object of the invention is particularly to provide an

adjustable dosing dispensing assembly that is automatically locked in its unfilled state after dispensing, and thus it prevents unintentional refilling and unintentional dispensing.

A further object of the invention is to provide an adjustable dosing dispensing assembly, wherein the dose to be dispensed can be changed before each dispensing action and the dispensing assembly automatically keeps the setting according to the new dose.

A further object of the invention is to provide an adjustable dosing dispensing assembly, wherein the filling operation is carried out automatically according to the current dose setting without any further user intervention after the manual release of the lock.

The above objects are achieved by providing an adjustable dosing dispensing assembly comprising

- a housing with an outlet;

- an operating member arranged at one end of said housing and movable with respect to the housing along an operating direction;

- a dosing chamber formed inside the housing, said dosing chamber having an inlet adapted for closing by a valve, wherein said dosing chamber comprises a stationary wall part secured to the housing and a movable wall part secured to the operating member, said wall parts being coupled to each other in a sealing manner, wherein said dosing chamber is in fluid communication with said outlet, said fluid communication being closable by a valve;

- a locking assembly for locking the operating member to the housing;

- and at least one release member arranged at least partly on the outer surface of the housing and configured to release the operating member from its locked state.

The locking assembly is configured to prevent the operating member, in its initial state, from moving relative to the housing along the operating direction. The operating member is rotatable with respect to the housing around a longitudinal axis of the dispensing assembly in an initial state of the dispensing assembly, thereby adapted for turning into various positions corresponding to the different dose adjustments. The operating member is mechanically biased with respect to the housing in the initial state of the dispensing assembly. There are at least two limiting elements arranged inside the housing in different angular positions around the longitudinal axis of the dispensing assembly. The operating member is provided with at least one stopping element, wherein each dose setting of the dispensing assembly is associated with at least one pair of a limiting element and a stopping element, and wherein the at least two limiting elements of the housing and the at least one stopping element of the operating member are arranged with respect to each other so that in the initial state of the operating member, the distance between a stopping element and an associated limiting element along the operating direction is different for each different dose adjustment.

The aforementioned objects have been achieved secondly by a dispensing device comprising a container for storing a liquid or semi-liquid material; on one side of the container, a dispensing assembly according to the invention, and a vacuum plug arranged within the container in a sealing manner.

Furthermore, the aforementioned objects have been achieved by providing a locking assembly for the aforementioned adjustable dosing dispensing assembly, wherein the locking assembly comprises at least one edge arranged inside the operating member, and at least one catch element extending in parallel with the operating direction and being releasably coupled to said at least one edge; wherein each of said at least one catch element is rigidly connected to a release member, said release member being resiliently coupled to the housing; and wherein the end portion of each catch element that is engaged with the at least one edge and the edges are mutually configured to allow, when the operating member is pressed down, the edges and the catch element to move relative to each other substantially unhindered, while in a locked state of the operating member the catch element is stably engaged with an edge; and wherein the release member is configured to disengage the associated catch element from the at least one edge in response to displacing the release member from outside towards the inside of the housing.

Finally, the above objects have been achieved by providing a locking assembly for the adjustable dosing dispensing assembly according to the present invention, wherein the locking assembly comprises at least one locking element arranged inside the housing, and at least one catch element extending in parallel with the operating direction and being releasably coupled to said at least one locking element; wherein each of said at least one catch element is resiliently connected to a locking insert, said locking insert being coupled to the operating member; and wherein each catch element has a plurality of teeth for engaging with a plurality of teeth of the at least one locking element, said teeth of said locking element being arranged above one another, and wherein the catch element and the associated locking element are mutually configured to allow the teeth of the catch element, when the operating member is pressed down, to move relative to the teeth of the locking element without substantial resistance, while in a locked state of the operating member, the teeth of the catch element are stably engaged with the teeth of the locking element; and wherein the release member is configured to disengage the associated catch element from the at least one locking element when the release member is displaced from outside towards the inside of the housing.

In what follows, the invention is described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein

- Figures 1 a and 1 b show a preferred embodiment of the dispensing assembly according to the invention in perspective view and sectional view in the locked state of the dispensing assembly;

- Figures 2a-h show different components of the dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1 a-b, in perspective view;

- Figures 3a and 3b show a preferred embodiment of the dispensing device according to the invention in perspective view and in sectional view;

- Figures 4a-c show the dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1a-b in sectional view, in the locked initial state of the dispensing assembly, an intermediate state of dispensing and a completely filled state;

- Figures 5a-d show the open and closed state of each operating valve in sectional view;

- Figures 6a-c show a further preferred embodiment of the housing of the dispensing assembly in different views;

- Figure 7 shows a further preferred embodiment of the dispensing assembly according to the invention in sectional view;

- Figures 8a-b show a dispensing device comprising a dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in sectional view in the locked initial state and in the completely filled state of the dispensing assembly;

- Figure 9 shows an exemplary embodiment of the locking insert of the dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in perspective view;

- Figures 10a-b show the region surrounding the outlet of the dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in sectional view in the initial state of the dispensing assembly and during a dispensing operation, respectively;

- Figure 10c shows an exemplary embodiment of the membrane closing the outlet of the dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in perspective view;

- Figures 11 a-b show a third embodiment of the dispensing assembly in sectional view in its initial state and in a filled state corresponding to a specific dose setting; and - Figures 12a, 12b and 12c respectively show exemplary embodiments of the housing, the operating member and the locking insert of the invented dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1 1a-b.

In the drawings, like elements are denoted by like reference numbers.

Figures 1a and 1 b show a preferred embodiment of the dispensing assembly 1 according to the invention in perspective view and sectional view. Figures 2a-h show different components of the dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1a-b, in perspective view.

The dispensing assembly 1 comprises a housing 2, and control elements and guide elements necessary for adjustable dosing dispensing formed in said housing. The housing 2 comprises a cylindrical sidewall, which is preferably open at the bottom and the top.

The top opening of the housing 2 is closed by an operating member 9, which is movable with respect to the housing 2 along an operating direction M. The operating direction M is preferably, but not necessarily, linear as can be seen in the embodiments shown in the drawings. In the embodiments disclosed in the present specification, the operating direction M of the dispensing assembly 1 is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the dispensing assembly 1. The operating member 9 is mechanically biased in the initial position of the dispensing assembly 1 (i.e. in its unfilled state) in the direction of the operating direction M. As shown in Figures 1 a-b, the mechanical bias of the operating member 9 is provided by a spring 10, where the lower end of the spring abuts on the housing 2 and the upper end of the spring is secured to the inner side of the operating member 9. As shown in Figure 1 b, the spring 10 is preferably a coil spring, but the bias may be provided by different types of springs, e.g. a flat spring. The mechanical bias of the operating member 9 can be provided not only by a spring, but also hydraulically or pneumatically.

At the outer end (i.e. upper end, as shown in the figure) of the dispensing assembly 1 , an outlet 91 is formed on the operating member 9, wherein said outlet 91 is adapted for closing by a valve 7 and through which the liquid or semi-liquid material (e.g. gel) may be dispensed. An important advantage of the dispensing assembly according to the invention is that the valve 7 and the outlet 91 are preferably formed so as to provide dripless dispensing at least when a liquid is dispensed. Such valves and shapes of suitable outlets are well known to a person skilled in the art. In the case of medicaments, a particularly important requirement is to prevent the medicament from escaping from the dispensing assembly through unintentional dripping or flowing into the environment, because a medicament escaping into the environment may cause pollution. In the case of different products it may be important for a user to keep the outside of the dispensing device clean for the full life cycle of the product in order to prevent contamination of objects coming into contact with the dispending device, e.g. a bag or clothing.

The outlet 91 , as shown in Figures 1a-b, through which the liquid or the semi-liquid material can be dispensed, may be formed as a central opening in the surface of the operating member 9. In a further embodiment it is also possible that a larger opening is formed in the surface of the operating member 9, and the outlet 91 closable by the valve 7 is arranged within that opening.

A dosing chamber 26 is formed inside the housing 2 and the dosing chamber is provided with an inlet 41 which is closable by a valve 4. The liquid or semi-liquid material stored in the container connected to the dispensing assembly can enter through the inlet 41. In Figure 1 b, the dispensing assembly 1 is shown in its locked state, wherein the inlet 41 is closed by said valve 4.

The volume of the dosing chamber 26 can be changed by means of a piston 5.

In the embodiment shown in the drawings, the stationary wall of the dosing chamber 26 is formed by the cylindrical side wall 26a together with a bottom closing element 3, while the movable wall is formed by the bottom wall 5a of the piston 5 (facing toward the bottom closing element 3). Accordingly the dosing chamber 26 is closed from above in a sealing manner by the piston 5, which is, in this case, fixedly secured to the operating member 9. The bottom wall 5a of the piston 5 contacts the side wall 26a of the dosing chamber 26 in a sealed manner with respect to the material to be dispensed, optionally by means of interposed sealing element(s), so that the piston 5 can move along the side wall 26a of the dosing chamber 26 along the operating direction M. The working space of the dosing chamber 26 is in fluid communication with the outlet 91.

It can be seen in the embodiment shown in Figure 1 b that the fluid communication between the working space of the dosing chamber 26 and the outlet 91 may be provided by forming a through-hole 83 on the face of the piston 5 that faces toward the inside of the dosing chamber 26, where the through-hole 83 opens into a dispensing passage 82. In this embodiment the dispensing passage 82 is formed by an inner hollow of an outlet insert 8, which forms the piston rod of the piston 5. The outer end of the outlet insert 8 has a head portion 81 , through which the dispensing passage 82 is in fluid communication with the outlet 91. However, the fluid communication between the dosing chamber 26 and the outlet 91 may be provided in a different manner, e.g. outside the piston 5, or by a channel (not shown on the drawings) formed inside the operating member 9. These types of fluid communications are obvious to a person skilled in the art.

In the initial state, the outlet 91 is closed by the valve 7 in an air-tight manner in order to ensure that ambient air does not enter the dispensing assembly after dispensing.

Inside the operating member 9 and within the housing 2, a locking assembly is formed, the different elements of which are in cooperating connection with each other. The function of the locking assembly is to automatically secure the operating member 9 to the housing 2 when the operating member 9 is completely pressed down (i.e. when it is pressed into the housing 2 to the maximal extent) and thus to prevent movement of the operating member 9 with respect to the housing 2 along the operating direction M. However, the locking assembly does not hinder the rotation of the operating member 9 with respect to the housing 2 in the locked state of the operating member 9. In said secured position, the operating member 9 contacts the housing 2, thus the housing 2 prevents the operating member 9 from being further pressed in. In this case the only function of the locking assembly is to prevent the operating member 9 from moving outwardly along the operating direction M.

In the preferred embodiment shown Figures 1 a-b, a locking insert 11 is secured to the side wall of the operating member 9 inside the operating member 9. The insert comprises series of edges 1 11 arranged after each other along the operating direction M (above each other in the figure). The operating member 9 comprises at least one, but preferably, for the sake of more stable locking, more than one groups of edges at different circumferential positions along the circumference of the operating member 9. At least one group of edges is associated with each dose of the dispensing assembly. At a given dose setting, one or more catch elements 24 are releasably connected to the group of edges 1 11 associated with said dose and moving together with the operating member 9. The catch elements 24 are parts of the housing 2 and extend in a direction parallel with the operating direction M.

A further part of the dispensing assembly 1 is at least one release member 22 disposed on the outer side of the housing 2 for releasing the operating member 9 from its locked position. In the embodiment shown in Figures 1 a-b, the release member 22 is formed by two zones of the housing, which are cut around and are connected to the housing 2 through a resilient connecting member. Each zone is rigidly connected to one (or more) catch element(s) 24. This arrangement allows the movement of said zones toward the inside of the housing 2 when the zones are pressed toward the inside of the housing 2. In this way the catch element 24 connected to the zones may also be moved toward the inside of the housing 2 and thus the catch element 24 may be removed from the edges 111 (i.e. it may be disengaged therefrom). If the dispensing assembly 1 comprises more than one release members 22, e.g. for the sake of higher security, all of the release members 22 have to be operated simultaneously in order to release the operating member 9 from the locked state,

i.e. they have to be pressed in toward the inside of the housing 2 in the embodiment shown in Figures 1a-b.

Figures 6a-c show a further preferred embodiment of the housing 2 in perspective views from above and from below, and in bottom view. In this configuration of the housing 2 the catch element 24 is resiliently connected to the housing 2 and is connected to the push-button 22 formed on the outer mantle surface of the housing 2 through a resilient member 130. The resilient member 130 in the embodiment shown in Figures 6a-c is formed by a multiple times folded sheet made of a resilient material. One end of the resilient member is connected to the push-button 22 carrying the catch element 24, the other end of the resilient member is connected to the internal structure of the housing 2. Releasing of the catch element 24 is carried out similarly to the method described above.

If the dispensing assembly comprises a plurality of edges 11 1 in a ladder-like configuration, the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 engaging with the edges 1 11 , and the edges 1 11 are mutually formed so as to allow substantially unhindered movement of the edges 1 11 downward along the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 when the operating member 9 is pressed down even without releasing the catch element 24. This can be achieved by forming the end portions 241 of the catch element 24 with sloped or curved top faces and thus the edges i nformed in a ladder-like formation can move along the catch element 24 in a ratchet-like manner. On the other hand, in the locked state of the operating member 9, the catch element 24 is stably engaged with an edge 1 11 , preferably with the uppermost edge(s) 1 11. The uppermost edges 111 may be formed as a single circumferential rim 1 11' as shown in Figure 2c.The locking action is achieved by an abutment of the bottom face of the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 on the top face of the edges 1 11 (or in some embodiments, the top face of the circumferential rim 11 1'). It is hereby noted that even a single edge 1 11 ' engaging with the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 in the completely pressed-down state of the operating element 9 may be enough for locking. Edges 11 1arranged above each other in a ladder-like manner, as shown in Figures 1 b and 2c, are preferred, because during the relative movement of the catch element 24 along the edges 11 1 , they prevent the movement of the operating member 9 in the opposite direction, and thus for example in the case where a dose has been dispensed only partially, upon the release of the operating member 9, the dispensing assembly 1 cannot automatically refill itself.

Adjustable dosing is made possible by the fact that the volume of the working space of the dosing chamber 26 can be set to more than one different predefined values by changing the upper end position of the movable wall, such as the piston 5. The upper end position of the piston 5 is defined by the height to which the operating member 9 moving together with the piston 5 can raise from the housing 2 from its completely pressed-down, i.e. locked, state under the influence of mechanical bias, produced, for example, by the spring 10. The height to which the operating member 9 can be raised is defined by the relative arrangement of at least two limiting elements inside the housing and at least one stopping element of the operating member 9. A pair of a limiting element and a stopping element corresponds to each dose setting, limiting the further outward movement (i.e. upward movement shown in the drawings) of the operating member 9 along the operating direction M to an extent that is different for each dose setting, i.e. they allow different extent of movement of the operating member 9 along the operating direction M relative to the housing 2. Different pairs of a stopping element and a limiting element correspond to different dose settings. The limiting elements corresponding to different dose settings are arranged in the housing 2 around the operating direction M (in this case, around the longitudinal axis) of the dispensing assembly 1 at different angular positions so that in the different dose settings in an initial state (i.e. unfilled state) of the dispensing assembly 1 , the stopping element and corresponding limiting elements are at different distances. The pairs of a limiting element and a stopping element corresponding to different dose settings are defined by the relative angular position of the operating member 9 with respect to the housing 2.

The preferred embodiment shown in Figures 1 a-b and 2a-h comprises a plurality of limiting elements for each dose setting, and these associated limiting elements together form a group of limiting elements.. Each of the limiting members are preferably formed by transversal ribs 206 formed on the inner side of the outer cylindrical wall 201 of the housing 2. Said ribs 206 are perpendicular to the operating direction M and are arranged at different heights and at different circumferential positions around the circumference of the housing 2. In said embodiment, the groups of the limiting elements corresponding to each of the doses are formed by two ribs 206, which are disposed on the mantle surface of the housing 2 in diametrically opposite positions. The ribs 206 corresponding to different dose settings are arranged at different heights along the operating direction M.

In the embodiment of the dispensing assembly according to the invention shown in the drawings, transversal ribs or a transversal stopping flange 207 is/are provided on the lower rim 9a of the operating member 9 (or in the proximity thereof, on the outer surface of the operating member 9) extending outwardly from the side surface of the operating member 9 to a small extent. Said stopping ribs or stopping flange 207 abut(s) on a rib 206 at certain predefined relative angular positions of the operating member 9 and the housing 2, corresponding to the different dose settings, due to the mechanical bias, e.g. the spring force of the spring 10. In said embodiment, two stopping flanges 207 are provided on opposite

locations of the cylindrical wall of the operating member. The use of more than one pairs of a limiting element and a stopping member corresponding to each dose setting is preferred because it allows a more reliable operation of the dispensing assembly.

If the dispensing assembly according to the invention is adapted to dispense two different doses, the operating member 9 may be rotatable by 90 degrees with respect to the housing 2 according to the two doses. If the dispensing assembly is adapted to have three dose settings, the operating member 9 may be rotated twice by e.g. 60 degrees with respect to the housing 2 from a position corresponding to a first dose, to set the second and third dose amounts. The accurate rotation of the operating member 9 with respect to the housing 2 may be assisted for the user by e.g. markings formed on the outer surface of the housing 2 or mechanical members slightly encumbering further rotation.

The circumferential locations of the transversal ribs 206 functioning as limiting elements and the stopping flanges 207 functioning as stopping elements are selected so that when one of the doses is selected, the "inactive" elements are not affecting the movement of the stopping element corresponding to said dose or, in the case of using more than one stopping elements, the movement of the "inactive" stopping elements. "Inactive" limiting and stopping elements are to be understood as limiting and stopping elements that are not associated with the current dose setting. In the embodiment shown in the drawings, three doses can be set, and accordingly the ribs 206 functioning as limiting elements are disposed at three different height positions on the inner surface of the cylindrical outer wall of the housing 2 in such a manner that at each height position, at least one rib 206 is arranged (in the embodiment shown, two opposite ribs are arranged for each height positions).

It is hereby noted that the limiting elements and the stopping elements can be formed in a way different from the one shown in the drawings. The at least one limiting element in the housing 2 and the at least one stopping element on the operating member 9 may be arranged in any different manner with the restriction that in any setting of the dispensing assembly corresponding to a dose, there is a specific pair of a limiting element and a stopping element, wherein the stopping element is located under the corresponding limiting element, and wherein the distances between the limiting elements and the stopping elements of the various pairs of a stopping element and a limiting element corresponding to the different dose settings are different when the dispensing assembly is in its locked state, in order to allow the development of working spaces of at least two different volumes in the dosing chamber 26. These criteria may also be met by using a single limiting element and multiple stopping elements or by using multiple stopping elements and multiple limiting

elements, wherein a limiting element and a stopping element may be associated with each other by the rotation of the operating member 9.

It is also noted that a limiting element and a stopping element may not only be formed as a rib, but also as an element having any other suitable shape (e.g. pin, wedge etc.), with the restriction that the limiting element has to be able to stably block the further movement of the corresponding stopping element in the operating direction M.

Any further configurations of the limiting elements and the stopping elements meeting the aforementioned criteria are obvious to a person skilled in the art.

As shown in Figure 2a, at the ends of the ribs 206 functioning as limiting elements, longitudinal ribs 205 are formed along the operating direction M, which function as lateral limiting elements and prevent the crosswise movement (perpendicular to the operating direction M) or rotation of the stopping flanges 207 when the dosing chamber 26 is filled up according to the desired dose and thus also preventing the crosswise movement or rotation of the operating member 9 within the housing 2.

The valve 7 closing the outlet 91 is preferably provided in the form of a vacuum valve made of a resilient material, which is deformed by the liquid or semi-liquid material compressed in the dosing chamber by the piston 5 attached to the operating member 9 during dispensing so as to open the outlet 91 and thus the liquid or semi-liquid material can flow out through the outlet 91. The valve 7 is shown in Figures 5c-d in its deformed open position and closed position, respectively.

Although it is not an essential part of the solution according to the invention, the preferred embodiment of the dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1 a-b comprises a cap 30 connected to the operating member 9 through a hinge 31. Said cap may be secured to outer surface of the operating member by e.g. snap-fitting. The cap 30 facilitates to keep the outlet 91 clean.

In what follows, a dispensing device adapted for storing a liquid or semi-liquid material and for dispensing thereof in multiple doses of various amounts, which is also an object of the invention, is described with reference to Figures 3a-b. The dispensing device 100 comprises a container 101 for storing a liquid or semi-liquid material, said container having two open ends, a dispensing assembly 1 according to the invention as described above for closing the container 101 on one end thereof. Before the use of the dispensing device 100, the other end of the container 101 is closed in a sealing manner by a vacuum plug 6 arranged and guided within the container 101. During the use of the dispensing device 100, the volume of the

liquid or semi-liquid material in the container 101 is reduced, which is followed by said vacuum plug 6 via its movement toward the dispensing device.

A significant advantage of the dispensing device according to the invention is that the liquid or semi-liquid material in the container 101 and partly in the dispensing assembly 1 is hermetically sealed from the environment during the use of the dispensing device 100 due to the vacuum plug 6 and the valve 7. In this way, ambient air is prevented from entering the vacuum dispensing system and thus the microbiological purity of the liquid or semi-liquid material stored in the container is maintained, which is especially important in the case of medical use.

In what follows, the operation of the embodiment of the dispensing assembly shown in Figures 1a-b is described with reference to Figures 4a-c. Figure 4a shows the dispensing assembly according to the invention in sectional view, in locked state, when the operating member 9 is completely pressed down. Figure 4b is a sectional view of the dispensing assembly in an intermediate state of dispensing. Figure 4c is a sectional view of the dispensing assembly in a completely filled state, when the operating member 9 is raised from the housing 2 to the height corresponding to the desired dose and thus the volume of the working space of the dosing chamber 26 is corresponding to said dose.

As shown in Figure 4a, in the locked state of the dispensing assembly 1 , the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 is engaged with the uppermost rim 11 1'. As the locking insert 11 attached to the inner side of the operating member 9 is pressed upward by the spring 10, the end portion 241 of the catch element 24 abutting on the rim 1 11 ' is stably engaged and thus the operating member 9 cannot move upward. In this state, the zero working space of the dosing chamber cannot increase, and the dispensing assembly cannot draw any material from the container 101.

In order to fill the dispensing assembly, all of the 22 release members, in this case, two opposite zones of the housing 2, which are at least partially cut around and adapted to be resiliently pressed in, as shown in Figures 1 a-b and 4a-c, each release member being associated with a catch element 24, have to be pressed radially inward (perpendicularly to the cylindrical wall of the housing 2), thus disengaging the end portions 241 of the catch elements 24 from the rim 1 11 ' forming the uppermost edges and thus the operating member 9 is released from its locked state. When this happens, the biased spring 10 starts to move the operating member 9 (and the piston moving together therewith) along the operating direction M away from the container 101. As a result of the upward movement of the piston 5, the working space 261 in the dosing chamber 26 is formed and starts expanding. This, in turn, results in a suctioning effect, which lifts the valve 4 sitting on the bottom closing element 3 of the dosing chamber 26, thus the inlet 41 becomes open and the liquid or semi-liquid material starts to flow therethrough into the working space of the dosing chamber 26, while the volume of the working space of the dosing chamber increases. The open and closed positions of the valve 4 are shown in the enlarged views in Figures 5a-b, respectively.

When the stopping element, in this case the stopping flange 207 or rib, of the operating member 9 engages with the rib 206 functioning as the limiting element corresponding to the selected dose, the operating member 9 reaches its upper end position, i.e. the working space of the dosing chamber 26 automatically reaches its maximum volume corresponding to the selected dose due to the action of the spring 10. In this way, the dispensing assembly 1 reaches its completely filled state.

At dispensing, the operating member 9 has to be pressed down, i.e. toward the container, against the spring force of the spring 10. While the operating member 9 is moving downward, the edges 11 1 located above each other move along the end portions 241 of the catch elements 24 in a ratchet-like manner. At the same time, the piston 5 moves downward together with the operating member 9, and thus the lower valve 4 closes and the pressure inside the working space of the dosing chamber 26 increases. Due to the overpressure, the material in the working space of the dosing chamber 26 and the material remaining in the dispensing passage 82, which has remained from the previous dispensing operation, applies pressure on the flexible valve 7, thus the valve 7 opens and the outlet 91 is opened, and the liquid or semi-liquid material starts to flow through the outlet out from the dispensing assembly 1. During the downward movement of the piston 5, the liquid or semi-liquid material flows from the working space of the dosing chamber 26 through the through-hole 83 into the dispensing passage 82.

The dispensing assembly is preferably designed so that when a user stops dispensing too early and releases the operating member 9, the dispensing assembly 1 does not start the refilling of the dosing chamber 26 despite the pressing force exerted by the biased spring 10, because the catch elements 24 stay in engaged position with the intermediate edges 1 11 , and due to the ratchet-like operation of the catch elements 24, the operating member 9 can still be pressed only downwardly, toward the lower end position.

When a full dose is dispensed, the bottom side of the piston 5 reaches the lower bounding surface of the working space of the dosing chamber 26, i.e. the volume of the working space becomes zero. Now the piston 5 is in abutment with the lower closing element 3, thus any further movement of the piston 5 is prevented. The operating member 9 thus reaches its lower end position, i.e. its initial position, the pressure acting on the liquid or semi-liquid material remaining in the dispensing passage 82 is relieved and thus the pressure acting on the valve 7 is relieved, and thus the resilient valve 7 resumes its initial shape and seals the outlet 91 in an air-tight manner.

When the operating member 9 reaches its lower end position, the catch elements 24 engage with the uppermost edges 1 11 ', which may also be formed as a single circumferential rim, as shown in Figure 2c. Due to the pressing force exerted by the spring 10, the catch elements 24 stably engage with the uppermost edges 1 11', thus the operating member 9 automatically becomes locked, and thus the dispensing assembly returns to its unfilled initial state.

The desired dose can be adjusted in the locked state, i.e. initial state, of the dispensing assembly 1. If the uppermost edges 11 1' are separate edges, which prevent the crosswise movement (perpendicular to the operating direction M) of the catch element 24, the engagement of the operating member 9 has to be released by the release members 22, i.e. the catch elements 24 have to be disengaged from the uppermost edges 1 11 '. Subsequently, the operating member 9 can be rotated with respect to the housing 2 to the position corresponding to the desired dose, where the movement of the resilient release member 22 in the opposite direction may allow the catch element 24 to re-engage with the uppermost edge 11 1 (or in some embodiments, the rim 1 11 '), and thus the operating member 9 is locked at the position corresponding to the new dose. During the rotation of the operating member 9, the operating member 9 remains in a locked state and at the same time, in a mechanically biased condition.

If the uppermost edges are formed as a circumferential rim 1 11 ' as shown in Figures 1 b and 2c, the catch elements 24 do not have to be disengaged by the release members for adjusting the dose, because they can slide on the edge in a crosswise direction, thus the operating member 9 can be rotated in its locked state with respect to the housing 2 into a position corresponding to the desired dose. In this case, the position of the operating member 9 has to be adjusted relatively accurately with respect to the housing 2 in order to allow unhindered raising of the operating member 9 after its release by the release members 22, and thus to allow filling of the dosing chamber 26 of the dispensing device 1.

It is hereby noted that the filling of the dispensing assembly in forbidden positions of the operating member 9 is preferably prevented by a cooperation between crosswise elements (e.g. stopping rims 207') formed on the side wall of or inside the operating member 9 and vertical (parallel with the operating direction M) elements (e.g. ribs 205) formed on or inside the wall of the housing 2. However, the same function can be achieved by different elements formed on the operating member 9.

Figures 7-10c show another preferred embodiment of the dispensing assembly according to the invention in different views. This embodiment of the dispensing assembly 1 differs from the first embodiment primarily in the mechanism of locking. As shown in Figure 7, the catch element 24' is shorter than the catch element 24 used in the first embodiment, and thus in the locked initial state of the dispensing assembly 1 , the end portion 241 of the catch element 24' engages with the lowermost edge 1 11 of the locking insert 11. The lowermost edges 11 1 may be formed as a single circumferential rim 11 1" as shown in Figure 9. An advantage of this embodiment is that the shorter catch element 24' is less flexible, and thus provides more stable locking than the first embodiment.

Figures 8a-b show a dispensing device comprising the dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in sectional view in the locked initial state (Figure 8. a) and in the completely filled state (Figure 8.b) of the dispensing assembly.

As shown in Figure 8a, in the locked state of the dispensing assembly 1 , the catch element 24' is engaged with the lowermost edge 1 11 ". The spring 10 pushes the locking insert 1 1' fixed to the inner side of the operating member upward, thus the end portion 241 of the catch element 24' abutting on the lowermost edge 11 1" is stably engaged, and thus the operating member 9 cannot move upward. Therefore, in this state, the zero volume working space of the dosing chamber 26 cannot expand, i.e. the dispensing assembly cannot draw up any material from the container 101.

In order to fill the dispensing assembly, all of the release members 22 associated with the catch elements 24' have to be pressed in laterally (i.e. in a direction perpendicular to the cylindrical wall of the housing 2). This causes the disengagement of the catch elements 24' from the lowermost edges 1 11 , and thus the operating member 9 is released from the locked state. The biased spring 10 starts pushing the operating member 9 in a direction away from the container 101 and the movement of said operating member 9 being followed by the piston 5 along the operating direction M. As a result of the upward movement of the piston 5, the working space 261 in the dosing chamber 26 is formed and starts expanding. This, in turn, results in a suctioning effect, which lifts the valve 4 sitting on the bottom closing element 3 of the dosing chamber 26, thus the inlet 41 becomes open and the liquid or semi-liquid material starts to flow therethrough into the working space of the dosing chamber 26, while the volume of the working space of the dosing chamber 26 increases.

When the stopping element of the operating member 9, for example the stopping flange 207 (or rib) like the one(s) used in the first embodiment, engages with the rib 206 functioning as a limiting element corresponding to the selected dose, the operating member 9 reaches its upper end position, i.e. the working space of the dosing chamber 26 automatically reaches

its maximum volume corresponding to the selected dose due to the action of the spring 10. In this way, the dispensing assembly 1 reaches its completely filled state. This is shown in Figure 8b.

At dispensing, the operating member 9 has to be pressed down in the operating direction M, i.e. toward the container, against the force of the spring 10. The piston 5 moves downward together with the operating member 9, and thus the lower valve 4 closes and the pressure inside the dosing chamber 26 increases. Due to the overpressure, the material in the dosing chamber 26 and the material remaining in the dispensing passage 82, which has remained from the previous dispensing operation, applies pressure on the valve 7a arranged at the outer end of the dispensing passage 82, thus the valve 7a is raised and opens the flow path to the outlet 91. During the downward movement of the piston 5, the liquid or semi-liquid material flows from the working space of the dosing chamber 26 through the through-hole 83 into the dispensing passage 82, and from there through the valve 7a to the outlet 91.

The outlet is preferably closed by a membrane 7b, shown in Figure 10c, which is provided with one or more slits 70 on its exposed surface. The slits 70 permit the flow of the liquid or semi-liquid material therethrough under pressure, but in the absence of overpressure, the slits 70 no longer permit the flow of the liquid or semi-liquid material therethrough.

When a full dose is dispensed, the bottom side of the piston 5 reaches the lower boundary surface of the working space of the dosing chamber 26, i.e. the volume of the working space becomes zero. The operating member 9 thus reaches its lower end position, i.e. its initial position, the pressure acting on the liquid or semi-liquid material remaining in the dispensing passage 82 is relieved and thus the pressure acting on the valve 7a is also relieved, and thereby the valve 7a sits back on the upper end of the dispensing passage 82 and seals the flow path to the outlet 91. In the case of using liquids of higher viscosity, it is possible that the valve 7a is not closed back completely when the dispensing is finished, but provides an airtight seal at the top of the dispensing passage 82 due to the suctioning effect created in the dispensing passage 82 when the next filling operation is started.

When the operating member 9 reaches its lower end position, the catch elements 24' engage with the lowermost edges 1 11 , which may also be formed as a single circumferential rim 1 11 ", as shown in Figure 9. Due to the pressing force exerted by the spring 10, the catch elements 24' stably engage with the lowermost edges 11 1 (or with the single circumferential lower rim 1 11 "), thus the operating member 9 automatically becomes locked, and thus the dispensing assembly 1 returns to its unfilled initial state and gets locked there.

The desired dose is selected in the locked state, i.e. in the initial state, of the dispensing assembly 1. During the rotation of the operating member 9, the operating member 9 remains in a locked state and at the same time, in a mechanically biased condition.

Figures 10a-b show the region surrounding the outlet of the dispensing assembly shown in Figure 7, in sectional view in the initial state of the dispensing assembly and during a dispensing operation, respectively. In the initial state (Figure 10a), the valve 7a closes the upper end of the dispensing passage 82 of the dosing chamber, while during dispensing, the increased pressure of the liquid or semi-liquid material lifts the valve 7a, and thus opens the dispensing passage 82. Thus the material to be dispensed flows out from the working space of the dosing chamber 26 through the dispensing passage to the outlet 91 , where the membrane 7b is deformed by the overpressure so that the slits 70 (shown in Figure 10c) are opened, thus the liquid or semi-liquid material can exit through the outlet 91.

A third embodiment of the dispensing assembly according to the invention is shown in Figures 11 a-b and Figures 12a-c. This embodiment differs from the previous ones in that the catch element is a part of the locking insert and the edges are formed as parts of the housing.

Figures 1 1a-b show the third embodiment of the dispensing assembly in sectional view in its initial state, i.e. in its unfilled state (Figure 11 a), and in a filled state corresponding to a specific dose setting (Figure 1 1 b). Figure 12a shows an exemplary housing, Figure 12b shows an exemplary operating member and Figure 12c shows an exemplary locking insert of this embodiment in perspective view. The operating member 9 is pressed down completely in the initial state, and dose selection may be carried out in the same manner as described above.

In the initial state of the dispensing assembly, locking is provided in any dose setting by means of a plurality of teeth 341 formed on the lower end portion of the downwardly extending catch element 241 of the locking insert 1 1 and the lower teeth 311 of a locking element 21 1 of the housing 2. The catching element 224 of the locking insert 11 is arranged in a radially inner position relative to the mantle surface of the locking insert, thus the locking element 21 1 of the housing 2 loosely fits in the opening on the mantle surface of the locking insert. Thus the locking insert 11 and the housing 2 cannot turn relative to each other and the locking insert may be displaced relative to the housing in the operating direction (M).

During the change of the dose setting, the operating member 9 has to be turned away with respect to the housing 2. The locking insert 11 is held by the operating member 9 so that the inwardly extending pins 250 of the operating member 9 fit into a recess 251 formed at the

upper end of the locking insert 1 1. This arrangement allows the operating member 9 to turn relatively to the locking insert 1 1 in this embodiment.

In order to fill the dispensing assembly, all of the release members 22 associated with a catch element 224 have to be pressed in a radially inward direction (perpendicularly to the cylindrical wall of the housing 2). In response to this, the teeth of the catch element 224 disengage from the teeth 31 1 of the locking element 21 1 of the housing 2 and thus the operating member 9 gets released from its locked state. When this happens, the biased spring 10 starts to move the operating member 9 (and the piston 5 moving together therewith) along the operating direction M away from the container 101. As a result of the upward movement of the piston 5, the working space 261 in the dosing chamber 26 is formed and starts expanding. This, in turn, results in a suctioning effect, which lifts the valve 4 sitting on the bottom closing element 3 of the dosing chamber 26, thus the inlet 41 becomes open and the liquid or semi-liquid material starts to flow therethrough into the working space of the dosing chamber 26, while the volume of the working space of the dosing chamber is increasing.

In said embodiment, a longitudinal strip 230 is provided on the inner side of the push-button 22 formed on the side of the housing 2 to disengage the locking. When the push-button 22 is pressed in, the strip 230 is pressed to the upper portion of the catch element 224 of the locking insert 11 , thus the catch element 224 is pressed in to incline so that the end portion thereof (comprising the teeth 341) is moved away from the teeth 31 1 of the locking element 211 of the housing 2 to an extent that is sufficient for the locking effect to cease. As the mantle surface of the operating member 9 is arranged between the mantle surface of the housing 2 and the mantle surface of the locking insert 11 , disengagement of the locking requires the strip 230 located on the inner side of the push-button 22 to be allowed to contact the catch element 224. To this end, some longitudinal slots 231 are provided in the mantle surface of the operating member 9. The strip 230 can pass through these slots in the positions of the operating member 9 which correspond to different dose settings. When the locking is released, the biased spring 10 starts to push the operating member 9 (and the locking insert 11 connected thereto) upward.

When the stopping element of the operating member 9, for example the stopping flange 207 (or rib) like the one(s) used in the first embodiment, engages with the rib 206 functioning as a limiting element corresponding to the selected dose, the operating member 9 reaches its upper end position, i.e. the working space of the dosing chamber 26 automatically reaches its maximum volume corresponding to the selected dose due to the action of the spring 10. In this way, the dispensing assembly 1 reaches its completely filled state. This is shown in Figure 1 1 b.

At dispensing, the operating member 9 has to be pressed down in the operating direction M, i.e. toward the container, against the force of the spring 10. The piston 5 moves downward together with the operating member 9, and thus the lower valve 4 closes and the pressure inside the dosing chamber 26 increases. Due to the overpressure, the material in the dosing chamber 26 and the material remaining in the dispensing passage 82, which has remained from the previous dispensing operation, applies pressure on the valve 7a arranged at the outer end of the dispensing passage 82, thus the valve 7a rises and opens the flow path to the outlet 91. During the downward movement of the piston 5, the liquid or semi-liquid material flows from the working space of the dosing chamber 26 through the through-hole 83 into the dispensing passage 82, and from there through the valve 7a to the outlet 91.

When a full dose is dispensed, the bottom side of the piston 5 reaches the lower boundary surface of the working space of the dosing chamber 26, i.e. the volume of the working space becomes zero. The operating member 9 thus reaches its lower end position, i.e. its initial position, the pressure acting on the liquid or semi-liquid material remaining in the dispensing passage 82 is relieved and thus the pressure acting on the valve 7a is also relieved, and thereby the valve 7a sits back on the upper end of the dispensing passage 82 and seals the flow path to the outlet 91.

When the operating member 9 reaches its lower end position, the teeth 341 of the catch elements 244 engage with the lowermost teeth 311 of the locking elements 211. The shape and the material of the teeth 31 1 and 341 are selected so that the spring 10 alone be unable to move them relative to each other in the operating direction M and so as to allow the teeth 311 and 341 to move relative to each other in a ratchet-like manner without significant resistance during dispensing when the user exerts a force against the force of the spring 10. Therefore the movement of the operating member 9 relative to the housing 2 is limited (it is defined by the vertical dimension of the teeth 311 , 341) in a situation when a user unintentionally releases the operating member during dispensing, and thus the unintended refilling of the dispensing assembly 1 is prevented. The teeth 31 1 , 341 may be formed in the manner shown in Figure 1 1a (i.e. in a saw tooth-like manner) or with profiles similar to those ones used in the first and second embodiment.

The dispensing assembly 1 according to the invention is preferably adapted to allow the setting of at least two, preferably three or more doses containing different predetermined liquid amounts. Unambiguous markings are provided on the outer surface of the operating member 9 and the housing 2 for setting the different doses. Such a marking may be formed

by notches 70 formed on the side wall of the housing 2 and arrows 71 presented on the operating member 9 (or on its cap 30), as shown in Figure 1 a. The doses dispensable by a single pressing action are preferably in the range of 1-15 ml, with two, three or more arbitrary doses as mentioned above distributed in this range. A dispensing device having dose settings of 1 ml / 2 ml / 4 ml, or 2 ml / 3 ml / 5 ml, or 5 ml / 7.5 ml / 10 ml is particularly preferable when the dispensing assembly has three dose settings.

The dispensing assembly according to the invention is primarily adapted for dispensing medical, domestic chemical or cosmetic liquids or semi-liquid materials.

A liquid or semi-liquid material is meant to be e.g. solutions, gels, syrups, suspensions, emulsions, dispersions.

The viscosity of the liquid or semi-liquid material is preferably at most 100 000 cP.

The use of the dispensing assembly is not limited to the aforementioned examples, it can also be used for dispensing liquid or semi-liquid materials in the field of the food industry (e.g. dietary supplements), joining technology (e.g. adhesives) and others.

The components of the dispensing assembly 1 are preferably made of plastic with the exception of the spring 10, said spring 10 is preferably made of metal. The container 101 and the vacuum plug 6 is preferably made of plastic. The components of the dispensing device 100 may be made of materials other than those mentioned above, the selection of materials is always determined by manufacturing constraints, the field of use, and the physical and chemical properties of the liquid or semi-liquid material to be stored in the dispensing device.

Examples of the plastic materials that may be used for manufacturing the dispensing device include crystalline or amorphous plastics, thermoplastics or thermosetting plastics. Regarding their chemical composition, polyolefins, such as straight or branched polyolefins, including polyethylene (PE) such as LDPE, MDPE, HDPE or polypropylene (PP), and polyesters, polyamides, polyacrylates and polymethacrylates, polycarbonates and polyurethanes may be used.

Polymers among technical plastics may also be used. Examples of suitable plastic materials are polyamides, polymethyl-methacrylates, polyoxymethylene (POM), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) copolymer, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), epoxy polymers, polyketones such as PEEK, melamine formaldehyde polymers, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), silicone polymers or polysulphones.

Only a few preferred embodiments of the dispensing assembly and the dispensing device according to the invention are described in the present specification with reference to the drawings. It is obvious to a person skilled in the art that several variants of both the dispensing assembly and the dispensing device can be elaborated within the scope of protection defined by the claims.