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1. (WO2017093893) CONTAINER FOR PASTY OR SEMI-LIQUID PRODUCTS.
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DESCRIPTION

CONTAINER FOR PASTY OR SEMI-LIQUID PRODUCTS

Technical field

This invention relates to a container for pasty or semi-liquid products, preferably made of a multilayer material having a paper component and at least one other component consisting of heat-sealable plastic material. The product contained may, for example, be a food product (for example, tomato paste, mustard or other condiments) or any of a variety of other products (for example, toothpaste, shoe polish).

Background art

As is known, it is common practice to package products of this kind in containers of substantially tubular shape, closed at one end and provided, at the other end, with a dispensing element which has a cap associated with it.

These containers, whose contents are extracted by manually squeezing the tube to cause the product contained to be discharged through the dispensing element, are usually made of plastic or metal and making them is a relatively complex and expensive process.

Furthermore, in many cases, when the product is dispensed, the product discharged is replaced by air which is sucked in and finds its way to the closed end of the container. If the product inside the container is quickly perishable, the presence of air inside the containers is likely to trigger the process which spoils the remaining product.

When a container of this kind for pasty or semi-liquid products is made of flexible plastic material, it is impossible to remove the air present inside the container after some of the contents have been discharged because the flexibility prevents lasting deformation capable of permanently displacing the air.

Moreover, it is often impossible to extract all the product from the container.

If the container in question is made of thin aluminium sheeting, on the other hand, the closed end of the container can be rolled up: this operation is, however, relatively impractical and unsatisfactory.

Patent US3065898 discloses a container made of a deformable material such as aluminium foil and provided with a plurality of lines of weakness transverse to its longitudinal axis. These lines of weakness divide the first side wall into zones which can be pressed selectively in pairs towards each other in such a way as to squeeze the pasty product out of the container. These transverse lines of weakness are useful for the set purpose but are not well suited to guarantee accurate dispensing of precise doses of the product.

Disclosure of the invention

The aim of this invention is to overcome the above mentioned disadvantages.

This aim is achieved by proposing a container for pasty or semi-liquid products according to the accompanying claims.

Advantageously, the container proposed by the invention allows discharging all the product from it, as well as discharging the air while the product is being dispensed. Consequently, product wastage and spoilage are avoided.

Moreover, the container of this invention is simple and inexpensive to make compared to prior art solutions.

Brief description of the drawings

The invention is described below with reference to the accompanying drawings, which illustrate two non-limiting embodiments of it and in which: - Figure 1 represents a blank which can be used to make a first embodiment of the container of this invention;

- Figures 2 to 7 illustrate a container obtained using the blank of Figure 1 during different steps in its production and use;

- Figure 8 illustrates a blank which can be used to make a second embodiment of the container according this invention; and

- Figures 9 to 12 illustrate a container obtained using the blank of Figure 8 during different steps in its production.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

Illustrated in Figures 2-7 and 9-12 is a container 2, 19 for pasty or semi-liquid products which has a substantially tubular shape and extends along a longitudinal axis A.

The container 2, 19 comprises a first longitudinal end 50 which is closed and flattened and a second longitudinal end 51 , opposite to the first longitudinal end 50 and comprising an opening 14 and a dispensing element 15.

The container 2, 19 also comprises a first side wall 60 and a second side wall 61 , opposite each other and interposed between the first longitudinal end 50 and the second longitudinal end 51 .

More specifically, the container 2 comprises, at the first side wall 60 and second side wall 61 , a plurality of first lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"' which are transverse to the longitudinal axis A and which define a plurality of corresponding zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 on the first side wall 60 and second side wall 61 ; the first lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"' are such that the zones (7, 8, 10, 1 1 ) of the first and second side walls 60 and 61 are selectively squeezable, in twos, towards each other and progressively from the first longitudinal end 50 to the second longitudinal end 51 , defining corresponding stable configurations for the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 .

The opening 14 is, obviously, located at the dispensing element 15 to allow the product to be dispensed.

Squeezing the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 (that is, their compression towards each other) causes the product to be discharged through the opening 14 at the dispensing element 15.

By "stable configurations" of the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 is meant that once squeezed towards each other, the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 remain in the position determined by the squeezing action. That means, in other words, that the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 of the first side wall 60 and of the second wall 61 each have two stable configurations: a first configuration, defined before they are squeezed towards each other, and a second configuration, defined after they have been squeezed towards each other. The term "lines of weakness" is used to denote lines along which the material the article (in this case, the container) is made of is weakened in order to facilitate bending the material to make it adopt a predetermined configuration.

Advantageously, the fact that the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 are squeezable selectively in twos towards each other and progressively from the first longitudinal end 50 to the second longitudinal end 51 , adopting a stable configuration after being squeezed, allows the product to be optimally dispensed from the container while at the same discharging the air from inside the container.

Consequently, product wastage and spoilage are avoided.

Preferably, the zones of the first side wall 60 are aligned with the zones of the side wall 61 : that is to say, each zone of the first side wall 60 is opposite to a corresponding zone of the second side wall 61 .

The dispensing element 15 may be provided with a cap 16. The cap 16 may, for example, be screwable to the rest of the dispensing element 15.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the lateral edges of the first side wall 60 are directly connected to the lateral edges of the second side wall 61 . For example, the lateral edges of the first side wall 60 are directly connected to the lateral edges of the second side wall 61 by a seal (as will become clearer as this description continues). Advantageously, this specification prevents "concertina-like" folds (that is, portions flattened along the longitudinal direction of extension of the container), which might block the discharge of air and product when the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 are compressed.

Preferably, when the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 are squeezed, the first side wall 60 and the second side wall 61 are in contact with each other. In that case, product and air can be completely discharged from the container.

Preferably, at the first side wall 60 and second side wall 61 , the container 2, 19 comprises a plurality of second lines of weakness 3, 9, 1 1 a, 20 transverse to the first lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"' of the container 2; 19. These second lines of weakness 3, 9, 1 1 a, 20 facilitate squeezing (that is, compression) of the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 .

For example, the second lines of weakness 3, 9, 1 1 a are perpendicular to the first lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"'. Alternatively, the second lines of weakness 20 are oblique to the first lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"'.

In the preferred embodiment, the zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 define sections of the container corresponding to predetermined doses of product. Thus, the container 2, 19 can advantageously be used to dispense precise doses of product, thereby avoiding undesirable wastage.

For example, the quantity corresponding to the predetermined doses of product may be indicated on the first side wall 60 and/or on the second side wall 61 of the container 2, 19, for example by means of a printed scale in millilitres.

For example, the second longitudinal end 51 is preferably quadrilateral (square or rectangular) in shape, as in the case illustrated.

Preferably, the container 2, 19 is made from a blank 1 , 18 of sheet material, as described in detail below (illustrated, for example, in Figures 1 , 2, 8).

Preferably, the sheet material is defined by a plurality of superposed layers. For example, the material is a multilayer material having a paper component and at least one other component consisting of heat-sealable plastic material.

With reference to Figure 1 , the blank 1 from which the container 2 can be made is rectangular in shape.

The blank 1 , viewed with its longitudinal dimension disposed vertically in Figure 1 , has two longitudinal lines of weakness 3 juxtaposed with respective vertical edges 4 of the blank 1 itself, and a plurality of transverse lines of weakness, generically denoted by the reference numeral 5, which connect the vertical edges 4 to each other. The top and bottom transverse lines 5 of the blank 1 are juxtaposed with respective horizontal edges 6 of the blank 1 itself.

The two bottom transverse lines of weakness 5 and the vertical edges 4 together define a rectangular zone or panel 7 and, similarly, the two top transverse lines of weakness 5 and the vertical edges 4 together define a rectangular zone or panel 8.

Between the transverse lines 5 which respectively delimit the top of the panel 7 and the bottom of the panel 8, the blank 1 comprises a plurality of transverse lines of weakness 5 equispaced from each other in pairs. There are nine of these lines 5 in Figure 1 (this number should not be considered binding). The transverse line of weakness vertically half way up in Figure 1 is labelled 5', whilst the two transverse lines 5 adjacent to the line 5' and positioned, relative to the line 5', on the side of the transverse line 5 which delimits the top of the panel 7 and on the side of the transverse line 5 which delimits the bottom of the panel 8 are labelled 5" and 5"', respectively.

Between the transverse lines 5 which respectively delimit the top of the panel 7 and the bottom of the panel 8, the blank 1 also comprises two lines of weakness 9 parallel to the longitudinal lines of weakness 3 and each juxtaposed with one of these lines of weakness 3 and situated between the lines of weakness 3 themselves. Each line of weakness 9 is spaced from the line of weakness 3 juxtaposed therewith by a stretch having (for example) a length which is substantially equal to the distance between two mutually juxtaposed transverse lines of weakness 5, so that each line of weakness 3, the line of weakness 9 juxtaposed therewith and the transverse lines of weakness 5 which intersect the lines 3 and 9 themselves together define a plurality of substantially square zones or panels 10 whose perimeters are defined by lines of weakness formed in the surface of the blank 1 .

From the median regions of the transverse lines 5 which respectively delimit the top of the panel 7 and the bottom of the panel 8 there extend two further lines of weakness 1 1 a parallel to the longitudinal lines of weakness 3 and stretching as far as the transverse lines 5" and 5"', respectively.

The lines of weakness 1 1 a are spaced from the lines of weakness 3 juxtaposed therewith by stretches having (for example) a length which is substantially equal to the distance between two mutually juxtaposed transverse lines of weakness 5, so that each line of weakness 1 1 a, the line of weakness 3 juxtaposed therewith and the transverse lines of weakness 5 which intersect the lines 3 and 1 1 a themselves together define a plurality of substantially square zones or panels 1 1 whose perimeters are defined by lines of weakness formed in the surface of the blank 1 .

Each of the panels 10 and 1 1 has a diagonal 12 defined by a line of weakness.

In the two panels 10 which each have one side defined by a portion of the transverse line 5"' and the opposite side defined by a portion of the transverse line 5', the diagonals 12 have one end located at a point of intersection between the transverse line 5"' itself and the line of weakness 9, and the other end located on the line of weakness 3; and in the two panels 10 which each have one side defined by a portion of the transverse line 5" and the opposite side defined by a portion of the transverse line 5', the diagonals 12 have one end located at a point of intersection between the transverse line 5" itself and the line of weakness 9, and the other end located on the line of weakness 3.

At each of the points of intersection of one longitudinal line of weakness 3 with one between the top and bottom transverse lines of weakness 5 of the blank 1 there are located respective ends of arcuate lines of weakness 13, the other end of each of which coincides with an endpoint of the longitudinal line of weakness 9 located in proximity to the line 3 itself. The concavity of each arcuate line 13 faces towards the longitudinal line 3 on which one end of the arcuate line 13 itself lies.

In a central region of the blank 1 , straddling the line of weakness 5', the blank 1 itself may comprise a circular region 14 intended to form a hole. For example, at this circular region 14, a dispensing element 15 may be fixed which is provided with a cap 16 that is screwable to the rest of the dispensing element 15 and provided with suitable teeth (not illustrated). The teeth on the cap 16 are used to make the hole in the circular region 14 when the cap 16 is unscrewed for the first time (that is, the first time the container is opened). This circular region 14 is designed to guarantee the asepticity of the products, especially of food products.

With reference to Figures 2-4, the container 2 is constructed from a blank 1 by folding the blank 1 through 180° about the transverse line 5' in such a way that the portions of the blank 1 extending between the line 5' and respective horizontal edges 6 of the blank 1 are positioned face to face (Figure 2).

Preferably, according to an embodiment of the container described above, the edges of the blank 1 on the outside of the lines of weakness 3 and of the top and bottom transverse lines 5 are subjected to heat and compression by means of a customary sealing device not illustrated in order to form sealed regions around the upper and lateral portions of the folded blank 1 . In other words, this forms the seal between the lateral edges of the first side wall 60 and the lateral edges of the second side wall 61 , according to the previously described embodiment of the container.

The portion of the blank 1 included between the transverse lines 5" and 5"' and the lines of weakness 9 and made up of two superposed rectangular panels P separated by the transverse line 5' is thus laid out flat, whilst the lateral portions of the blank 1 folded in the manner described above are folded in known manner as shown in Figure 3. In this situation, the container 2 being formed has two substantially triangular wings 17 at the bottom of it which protrude axially from the body of the container 2 being formed.

Next, the wings 17 are folded about the respective portions of line 9 which partly delimit them through 180° and flat against respective flanks of the container 2 being formed (Figure 4) and then sealed or glued to the flanks themselves.

As shown in Figures 5-7, after the container 2 has been used to dispense the product inside the container 2 itself through the dispensing element 15, the container 2 can be acted upon to also prevent or at least appreciably reduce the presence of air in contact with the product remaining inside it.

This action consists in manually compressing the container 2 under the mutually sealed horizontal edges 6 of the blank 1 along a direction

perpendicular to the large faces of the container 2 itself in such a way as to press together first the panels 7 and 8 (Figure 5).

Continuing to empty the container 2 can be done by continuing to compress the zones of it further away from the panels 7 and 8 (Figures 6 and 7) in such a way as to successively press together zones of the blank 1 included between pairs of mutually adjacent transverse lines 5 located in zones corresponding to the opposite large side walls of the container 2. It should be noted that the transverse lines of weakness 5 have the function of weakening the container 2 in predetermined zones and, thanks to their shape, allow controlling the squeezing action applied to it. If necessary, the folding lines of weakness 5, 9, 1 1 a, 12, 13 which define the selectively and progressively squeezable zones 7, 8, 10, 1 1 may define predetermined or residual doses of product; preferably these doses are indicated on the container 2, 19 (for example by means of a printed scale in millilitres).

Further, the lines of weakness defining the diagonals 12 and the lines of weakness (forming part of the lines 5, 3, 9 and 1 1 a) which delimit the panels 10 and 1 1 have the function of weakening the large side walls of the container 2 to make it easier to squeeze and manipulate. In effect, thanks to these lines of weakness, it is possible to discharge all of the content without damaging the container 2 because its rigidity is locally reduced by the lines of weakness themselves which, besides, also give it an aesthetically more pleasing appearance than a container without such lines of weakness would have.

Figure 8 shows a blank 18 constituting a variant of the blank 1 and usable to make a container 19 illustrated in Figures 9-12. The container 19 constitutes a variant of the container 2 made from the variant 18 of the blank.

In the blank 18, whose description uses, where possible, the same reference numerals as those used to describe the blank 1 , the arcuate lines 13 of the blank 2 and the portions of the longitudinal lines of weakness 9 included, respectively, between the panels 7, 8 and the transverse lines of weakness 5" and 5"' are substituted by four straight lines of weakness 20, each extending between a respective point of intersection between a vertical edge 4 and a horizontal edge 6 and the corner nearest that point on one of the rectangular panels P.

Owing to the presence and shape of the lines of weakness 20, the panels 10 and 1 1 of the blank 18 have a different shape from the substantially square shape of the panels 10 and 1 1 of the blank 1 , and more precisely, they have the shape of right-angled trapeziums.

Generally speaking, the lines of weakness 3, 9, 1 1 a, 20 are transverse to the lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"' of the containers 2, 19 in which they are formed. More specifically, in the blank 1 , the lines of weakness 3, 9, 1 1 a are perpendicular to the lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"', whereas in the blank 18, the lines of weakness 20 are oblique to the lines of weakness 5, 5', 5", 5"'.

The blank 18 is used to make the container 19, illustrated in Figures 9-12 during different steps in its production.

The container 19 is assembled in the same way as described above with reference to the container 2 and it is used in the same way as the container 2.

The shape of the large walls of the container 19, and the shape of the container 19 as a whole, is much like an isosceles trapezium.

The second longitudinal end 51 of the container 19 is preferably quadrilateral (square or rectangular) in shape.

From what is set out in the foregoing, it is evident that the containers 2 and 19 described above do not suffer from the previously mentioned disadvantages of the prior art.

Once their contents have been discharged completely, the containers 2 and 19 are substantially flattened, without folded or rolled up sections perpendicular to their longitudinal direction of extension.

Moreover, the containers 2 and 19 described allow their contents to be squeezed out progressively and emptied completely and conveniently without allowing air to enter and/or stagnate inside them.

The possibility of squeezing the contents out easily and completely is particularly useful when the containers 2, 19 contain a product that would not otherwise be discharged - for example, thick tomato paste, ketchup or mayonnaise.

Furthermore, providing the containers 2 and 19 with dispensing elements 15 and caps 16 of suitable shape makes it possible to keep the containers 2 and 19 in what is usually known as the "top down" position.