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1. WO1991006272 - APPLICATEURS DE TAMPONS EN DEUX ELEMENTS

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

2-piece tampon applicators.

This invention relates to tampon applicators for placing sanitary tampons in position within the body of a user of the tampon.

It is known to provide applicators in which an outer tube for storing a tampon therein has a distal discharge end for insertion into the body and the tampon is ejected by slidably moving an inner tube within the outer tube.

It has been convenient to make such applicators of paper or cardboard for ease of disposal and such applicators have been supplied in an initial
condition in which the inner tube is only partially inserted into the outer tube in readiness for a single stroke dispensing operation. Consequently such applicators are relatively bulky.

In order to provide less bulky applicators a number of arrangements have been proposed in which the inner tube is initially received telescopically within the outer tube and must be partially withdrawn before the dispensing operation. Such applicators necessarily include some means of preventing the tampon being withdrawn from the outer tube with the inner tube as the inner tube is withdrawn.

One way of preventing the tampon being
withdrawn with the inner tube is to include a
projection formed on the inside of the outer tube. An example of such an applicator is shown in GB
8914426.5 which was developed by the applicants.
Alternatively, the tampon can be made such that its distal end is wider than the open distal end of the outer tube. Since the material of most tampons is compressed this can be achieved merely by allowing the distal end of the tampon to protrude from the open distal end of the outer tube.

Of those compact flushable applicators which are known none provide for the fact that once the inner tube has been withdrawn and the applicator is primed for use the inner tube will often pass back between the tampon and inner surface of the outer tube when the user pushes the inner tube inwards to discharge the tampon into the body. When this occurs the inner tube will simply relocate itself between the tampon and outer tube without discharging the tampon - this effect is often referred to as
"re-tubing".

According to the present invention there is provided a tampon applicator comprising an inner tube for storing a tampon therein, an outer tube slidably disposed over the inner tube and having a distal discharge end for insertion into the body of a user and means for resisting movement of the tampon towards the proximal end of the outer tube when the inner tube is partially withdrawn from the outer tube, which outer tube has a first projection
extending into a first longitudinal slot in the inner tube for limiting the sliding movement of the inner tube and resisting complete withdrawal of the inner tube from the outer tube wherein the inner tube and outer tube are provided with means such that when the inner tube is withdrawn and the applicator is primed for use the distal end of the inner tube is deformed slightly when the inner tube is pushed back into the outer tube to prevent the tampon from re-entering the distal end of the inner tube during expulsion of the tampon from the applicator.

Preferably, the compressing means comprises a second longitudinal slot in the inner tube extending from the distal end along part of its length and means provided between inner and outer tubes to deform the inner tube during expulsion of the tampon from the applicator.

Preferably, the second longitudinal slot in the inner tube comprises first and second longitudinal portions circumferentially displaced from each other, the first and second longitudinal portions being linked by a transverse slot and the means to deform the distal end of the inner tube is a second
projection of the outer tube which extends into the slot during the initial part of the withdrawal
movement, the transverse slot being configured to force the projection between the inner and outer tubes for the latter part of the withdrawal movement and the initial part of the expulsion movement.

Preferably, the second longitudinal slot in the inner tube is a diagonal slot and the means to deform the distal end of the inner tube is a second
projection of the outer tube which extends into the slot during the initial part of the withdrawal
movement and is forced out of the slot and between the inner and outer tubes for the latter part of the withdrawal movement and the initial part of the expulsion movement.

Preferably, the first projection is formed by taking a discontinuous cut in the side wall of the outer tube and folding the cut material about a line extending in a substantially circumferential direction between the end portions of the cut such that the cut material extends in a substantially radially inward direction with respect to the outer tube.

Preferably, a part of the first projection is wider as viewed in axial projection than the width of the first slot adjacent the distal end of the inner tube to thereby captively retain the inner tube.

Preferably, the second projection is formed by making a discontinuous cut in the side wall of the outer tube and folding the cut material along a substantially axially extending line extending between the end portions of the cut such that the cut material projects substantially radially inwardly with respect to the outer tube.

Preferably, the first longitudinal slot has a flared portion adjacent its proximal end.

Preferably, the flared portion includes a proximal end portion of reduced width, a shoulder being defined between said end portion and a wider part of the flared portion.

Preferably, the ends of the first longitudinal slot are "squared".

Preferably, the first longitudinal slot in the inner tube comprises a wider portion near the distal end and a wider portion at the middle region and the first projection is formed by taking a discontinuous cut in the side wall of the outer tube and folding the cut material along a substantially axially extending line between the end portions of the cut such that the cut material projects substantially
radially inwardly with respect to the outer tube.

Preferably, the second longitudinal slot in the 5 inner tube comprises a wider portion at the distal
end and there is a second projection which extends
into the second slot formed by taking a discontinuous cut in the side wall of the outer tube and folding
the cut material along a substantially axially
10 extending line between the end portions of the cut
such that the cut material projects substantially
radially inwardly with respect to the outer tube, the second projection being folded inwardly in the
opposite sense to the first projection.
15
Preferably, the means to deform the distal end of the inner tube is either the first or the second projection, which, in use, performs its deforming
function during twisting of the inner tube in either

20. direction within the outer tube when the inner is
withdrawn to its fullest extent thereby forcing one of the projections to lie between the inner and outer tubes.

25 Preferably, the first projection is a square tab and the second projection is a rectangular tab.

Preferably, the second longitudinal slot in the inner tube comprises a first longitudinal portion

30 extending from the distal end of the inner tube to a widened portion and the means to deform the inner
tube is a second projection of the outer tube formed by taking a discontinuous cut in the outer tube and folding the cut material about a line extending in a

35 circumferential direction between the end portions of the cut such that the cut material is able to extend in a substantially radially inward direction with respect to the outer tube.

Preferably, the second projection folds back flush with the outer tube during withdrawal of the inner tube until the distal end of the inner tube passes the second projection at which point the second projection will project back into the outer tube such that when the inner tube is pushed back into the outer tube to expel the tampon the second projection will be forced to fold back on itself to lie between the inner and outer tubes thus deforming the distal end of the inner tube.

Preferably, the junction of the first
longitudinal portion and the widened portion of the second longitudinal slot acts as a shoulder which urges the second projection to lie flush with the outer tube during withdrawal of the inner tube.

Preferably, the first projection is formed by taking a discontinuous cut in the side wall of the outer tube and folding the cut material in the opposite sense to the second projection about a line extending in a substantially circumferential
direction such that the cut material extends in a substantially radially inward direction with respect to the outer tube.

Preferably, a part of the first projection is wider as viewed in axial projection than the width of the first slot adjacent the distal end of the inner tube to thereby captively retain the inner tube.

Preferably, the first projection is axially spaced from the second projection and is closer to the proximal end of the outer tube.

Preferably, the first longitudinal slot has a flared portion adjacent its proximal end.

Preferably, the flared portion includes a proximal end portion of reduced width, a shoulder being defined between said end portion and a wider part of the flared portion.

Preferably, the ends of the first longitudinal slot are "squared".

Preferably, the sides of the second projection flare outwardly from the line in the outer tube about which the projection is folded.

Preferably, the widened portion of the second longitudinal slot is substantially octagonal in shape.

Preferably, the movement resisting means for the tampon comprises the inter-engagement of a distal end portion of the tampon with the open distal end of the outer tube.

Preferably, the outer surface of the outer tube is coated to provide increased lubricity of the outer tube.

Preferably, the length of the inner tube is less than 63mm and the length of the outer tube is less than 60mm.

A preferred embodiment of the present invention will now be described in detail, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which :
Fig. 1 shows an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of an applicator in accordance with the present invention;
Fig. 2 is a sectional elevation of the
applicator of Fig. 1 and a tampon in its stored position;
Fig. 3 is a sectional elevation of the tampon and applicator of Fig. 2 when primed for use;
Fig. 4 is a sectional view taken along A-A in

Fig. 3;
Fig. 5 is a plan view of a preferred embodiment of the inner tube;
Fig. 6 is a plan view of a further preferred embodiment of the inner tube;
Fig. 7 is a plan view of a further preferred embodiment of the inner tube;
Fig. 8 is an exploded perspective view of a further embodiment of an applicator in accordance with the present invention;
Fig. 9 is a sectional elevation of the
applicator of Fig. 8 with a tampon in its stored position;
Fig. 10 is a sectional elevation of the tampon and applicator of Fig. 9 when primed for use;
Fig. 11 is a sectional view taken along A-A in Fig. 10.
Fig. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a further embodiment of an applicator in accordance with the present invention;
Fig. 13 is a sectional elevation of the
applicator in Fig. 12 with a tampon in its stored position;
Fig. 14 is a sectional elevation of the
applicator in Fig. 13 when primed for use;
Fig. 15 is a sectional elevation of the applicator in Fig. 14 during expulsion of the tampon;

Fig. 16 is a sectional view taken along A-A in Fig. 15;
Figs. 17 to 18 are plan views of preferred embodiments of the inner tubes.

Fig. 19 is an exploded perspective view of a further embodiment of an applicator in accordance with the present invention.

Fig. 20 is a sectional elevation of the
applicator in Fig. 19 with a tampon in its stored position.

Fig. 21 is a plan view of the inner tube in Fig. 19.

Fig. 22 is a sectional view of the applicator in Fig. 19 when the inner tube has been pushed back into the outer tube to expel the tampon.

Referring first to Figs 1 to 3, an applicator 1 comprises an outer tube 2 of cardboard material formed by wrapped layers of paper bonded together with a suitable adhesive.

The outer tube 2 has an open distal end 3 and an open proximal end 4.

A series of six circumferential indentations 5 are axially spaced from one another and located adjacent to the proximal end 4 and are provided to facilitate gripping of the proximal end by a user.

A first projection 6 extends radially inwardly of the outer tube 2 at a location adjacent to the proximal end 4. The first projection 6 comprises part of the side wall of the outer tube which is cut around three sides of the projection and then bent radially inwardly about a fold line 7 to form a projection which is trapezoidal in shape having a free end 8 extending parallel to and of greater length than the fold line 7.

A second projection 9 extends radially inwardly of the outer tube 2 at a location adjacent to but distally spaced from the first projection 6 and diametrically opposed with respect to the outer tube 2. The second projection 9 is rectangular in shape and is also formed by a portion of the outer tube 2 which is cut around three sides and is bent inwardly about a fold line 10 extending axially with respect to the outer tube 2.

The applicator 1 further comprises an inner tube 12 which is slidably received within the outer tube 2 and is of greater length.

The inner tube 12 has a proximal end 13
adjacent to which are formed a series of six
circumferential indentations 14 to assist gripping by a user.

The inner tube 12 has an open distal end 15. A first slot 16 extends axially along part of the length of the inner tube 12 and has a proximal end 17 which is axially spaced from the proximal end 13 of the inner tube 12, a distal end 18 of the first slot similarly being axially spaced from the distal end 15.

The first slot 16 includes a flared portion 19 adjacent its proximal end 17 which is of greater width than the free end 8 of the first projection 6, the remainder of the first slot being greater in width than the fold line 7 but narrower than the free end 8. The first projection 6 normally extends into the first slot 16 as shown in the assembled view of Figure 2.

The inner tube 12 also includes a second slot 20 extending longitudinally from the distal end 15 of the inner tube to a proximal end location 21 which is axially spaced from the proximal end 17 of the first slot 16. The second slot 20 is diametrically
opposite the first slot 16 and is "stepped" in the middle portion of the inner tube 12.

The second projection 9 normally extends through the second slot 20 as shown in the assembled view of Figure 2 and is of sufficient length to project radially inwardly with respect to the inner tube 12.

A circumferential groove 22 is provided on the external surface of the inner tube 12 towards its distal end 15 adjacent to the distal end 18 of the first slot 16 in order to indicate the correct extent of withdrawal of the inner tube.

In Fig. 2 a sanitary tampon applicator 23 is shown to comprise the applicator 1 of Figure 1 together with a tampon 24 of compressed absorbent material located within the inner tube 12. The sanitary tampon applicator 23 is shown in Figure 2 in its compact condition in which such a tampon would normally be stored and in which the inner tube 12 is compactly inserted within the outer tube 2 in the position shown in Figure 2 at which the first projection 6 abuts the proximal end 17 of the first slot 16.

Fig. 3 shows the tampon and applicator of Fig. 2 when primed for use and it can be seen that the shape of the slot 20 has folded the projection 9 up through the cut-away stepped portion and against the inner surface of the outer tube 2. The projection 9 rests between inner and outer tubes for the second half of the withdrawal movement of the inner tube which occurs after projection 9 passes the stepped portion of slot 20. The location of projection 9 between the inner and outer tubes forces the inner tube 12 to compress slightly at its distal end 15. The narrowing of the distal end of the inner tube 12 has the effect that when the user pushes the inner tube 12 back into the outer tube 2 to discharge the tampon from the applicator, the distal end of the inner tube 12 will abut against the proximal end of the tampon to push the tampon from the outer tube 2 rather than allowing the tampon to be pushed back inside the inner tube 12.

Fig. 4 is a sectional end view taken at A-A in Fig. 3 which shows clearly how the projection folds back during the second half of the withdrawal
movement.

In use the sanitary tampon 24 and the
applicator 1 are supplied to the user in the compact form described above, with reference to and as shown in Figure 2. In order to prime the applicator, the user first withdraws the inner tube 12 from the outer tube 2 to an extent sufficient for the distal end of inner tube 12 to clear the proximal end of tampon 24. This movement is limited by engagement of the first projection 6 with the distal end 18 of the first slot 16 which prevents complete withdrawal of the inner tube 12 from the outer tube 2. When the inner tube has reached its withdrawn position as shown in Figure 3 the circumferential groove 22 provides a visible indication to the user that the correct limit of withdrawal has been reached. During the first part of this withdrawal movement, proximal movement of the tampon 24 is resisted by action of the second projection 9 which abuts against a
proximal end 30 of the tampon. In the open-end embodiment of Figures 1 to 3, movement of the tampon to the right as shown in Figure 2 will also be
resisted by the engagement of the distal end of the tampon 24 with the open distal end of outer tube 2 as shown in Figure 2.

In the second part of the withdrawal movement, as explained earlier, the projection 9 is forced to lift out of the slot 20 into the cut-away stepped portion of the slot 20 and then becomes trapped between the outer tube 2 and inner tube 12 for the remainder of the withdrawal movement. This will only occur if there is an insignificant relative
rotational movement between the inner end outer tubes and, in this case, the trapezoidal tab 6 prevents such movement. In the fully primed condition the projection 9 is pressing on the distal end 15 of the inner tube causing the sides of slot 20 to be
squeezed together slightly. The deformity of the inner tube 12 ensures that the distal end 15 will not ride over the outside of the tampon and will make good contact with the tampon base to enable a clean expulsion from the applicator.

It should be noted that where the term "primed" is used it is intended to refer to the action of moving the inner tube out of its stored position relative to the outer tube such that the tampon can be expelled when the inner tube is pushed back into the outer tube.

When the tampon has been discharged into the body of the user the projection 9 will have fallen back into the slot 20 on passing through the stepped portion to extend radially inwardly once again. The projection 9 will then serve to hold the two tubes together as the applicator is withdrawn from the body.

It is preferable if the stepped portion of slot 20 is located diametrically opposite the first slot

16 with the first and second longitudinal portions of slot 20 located to either side of slot 16 when seen in plan view as in Figs. 5 and 6.

In yet a further modification of the tampon applicator the first longitudinal slot 16 depicted in Figs 1 to 4 may be extended as shown in Fig. 5 so that the flared portion 19 of the slot narrows at the proximal end. The narrowed portion 19a ensures that, if a user mistakenly pushes the inner tube 12 into the outer tube 2 rather than first withdrawing the inner tube 12 to prime the applicator, there will be no premature folding of the first projection.

Furthermore, the distal end 18 of the first longitudinal slot 16 need not be rounded as shown in Fig. 5 it can be "squared" as shown in Fig. 6.

The second longitudinal slot can merely be slanted as depicted in Fig. 7 rather than "stepped".

An alternative embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figs. 8 to 11. The outer tube 2 has a first projection 6 which extends radially inwardly of the outer tube 2 adjacent to the proximal end 4. The first projection in this embodiment, however, is square in shape and is folded along an axially extending fold line 7. A second projection 9 also extends radially inwardly of the outer tube at a location which is diametrically opposite the first projection 6. The second projection 9 is rectangular in shape and is folded along an axially extending fold line 10 in the opposite sense to projection 6.

The applicator 1 further comprises an inner tube 12 which is slidably received in the outer tube 2 and is of greater length. The inner tube 12 has an open distal end 15 and an open proximal end 13. A first slot 16 extends axially along part of the length of the inner tube 12 having a wider portion 16a at the distal end and a wider portion 16b
approximately half way between the proximal and distal end of slot 16. The first projection 6 normally extends into the first slot 16 as shown in the assembled view in Fig. 6. The proximal end 17 of the slot 16 stops short of the proximal end 13 of the inner tube 12.

The inner tube 12 also includes a second slot 20 extending longitudinally from the distal end 15 of the inner tube to a proximal end location 21 which stops short of the proximal end of the inner tube 13. The second slot 20 is diametrically opposite the first slot 16 and has a wider portion 20a at the distal end of the slot 20. The second projection 9 normally extends through the second slot 20 as shown in the assembled view in Fig. 6.

Fig. 9 shows a sanitary tampon applicator 23 which comprises the applicator of Fig. 8 together with a tampon 24 of compressed absorbent material located within the inner tube 12. The first and second projections 6 and 9 can be clearly seen
extending through first and second longitudinal slots 16 and 20 respectively.

Fig. 10 shows the tampon and applicator of Fig. 9 when primed for use. The user is required to withdraw the inner tube 12 from the outer tube 2 to its full extent. The inner tube 12 must then be twisted in either direction within the outer tube 2 such that either projection 6 or projection 9 is folded back on itself and forced between the inner and outer tubes thereby forcing the inner tube 12 to compress slightly at its distal end 15. The
narrowing of the distal end 15 has the same effect as explained in connection with the embodiment depicted in Figs. 1 to 4 in that it prevents the tampon 24 re-entering the inner tube 12 when the inner tube 12 is pushed inwardly to expel the tampon 24. In this case, the inner tube 12 is twisted anticlockwise thus folding projection 9 between the inner and outer tubes.

In the embodiment depicted in Fig. 10 it is clear that the term "primed" refers to both the withdrawal and twisting of the inner tube within the outer tube.

Fig. 11 is a sectional view taken at A-A in Fig. 10 which shows clearly how the projection 9 has folded back after the inner tube 12 has been twised anticlockwise. The projection 6 merely folds outwards again due to the fact that it was folded in the opposite sense to projection 9.

Although the embodiment depicted in Figs. 8 to 11 has straight distal ends it is possible to make the distal ends of the inner and outer tubes with petal ends.

Fig. 12 shows yet a further embodiment of the present invention. The outer tube 2 has a first projection 6 as in the embodiments depicted in Figs. 1 to 7 but the second projection 9 is square in shape and is folded along a circumferentially extending fold line 10. In Figs. 12 to 18 like reference numerals represent similar features to those depicted in Figs. 1 to 7.

The applicator also comprises an inner tube 12 which is slidably received in the outer tube 2 and is of greater length. The inner tube has an open distal end 15 and an open proximal end 13. A first slot 16 extends axially along part of the length of the inner tube 12 and is identical to that depicted in Fig. 6 having "squared" ends with a flared portion 19. The first projection 6 normally extends into the first slot 16 as shown in the assembled view in Fig. 13.

The inner tube 12 also includes a second slot 20 extending longitudinally from the distal end 15 to a proximal end location 21 which stops short of the proximal end 13 of the inner tube. The slot 20 is located such that a widened stepped portion 20a is diametrically opposite the first slot 16. The second projection 9 is folded back on itself between the inner and outer tubes as shown in the assembled view in Fig. 13.

If the user accidentally pushes the inner tube 12 into the outer tube 2 rather than withdrawing the inner tube 12, the projection 6 which is located in the narrowed portion 19a of slot 16 will resist premature folding of projection 6 as explained earlier in connection with Fig. 5.

In order to prime the applicator for use, the inner tube 12 is withdrawn from the outer tube 2 to its full extent as shown in Fig. 14. During the withdrawal movement projection 9 flips back into the square hole to lie flush with the outer tube 2 until the distal end 15 of the inner tube passes the projection 9. At this point, the projection 9 will tend to extend back into the interior of the outer tube 2. The user is then required to push the inner tube 12 back into the outer tube 2 to expel the tampon. During this movement the distal end 15 of the inner tube 12 forces the projection 9 to fold back on itself such that it lies between the inner and outer tubes. The inner tube 12 will then be forced to deform slightly to assume a non-circular configuration of decreased diameter which will prevent "re-tubing" of the tampon during expulsion.

Fig. 16 is a sectional view taken in direction A-A in Fig. 15 which shows clearly the deformation of the inner tube 12 as a result of projection 9
locating itself between the inner and outer tubes.

Figs. 17 and 18 show variations of the slot 20 in the inner tube 12 in plan view. Each of these embodiments will work in a similar manner to that depicted in Figs. 12 to 16 with the outer tube 2.

Figs. 19 to 21 show yet a further variation of the embodiment described in connection with Figs. 12 to 16. In these Figs, like reference numerals represent like features in previous embodiments. The applicator 1 works in a similar manner to that depicted in Figs. 12 to 16 but in this embodiment the inner tube 12 has a second slot 20 which has a widened portion 20a which is octagonal in shape and the outer tube 2 has a second projection 9 which is trapezoidal in shape. The projection 9 is preferably slightly smaller than projection 6.

The provision of a trapezoidal projection 9 ensures that if the inner tube 12 twists slightly with respect to the outer tube 2, the octagonal portion 20a of slot 20 will guide the trapezoidal tab 9 to the centre of the slot 20 such that its tips are prevented from "catching" under the edges of the octagonal portion 20a as the tab 9 moves into the position where it lies flush with the outer tube surface.

Fig. 20 is an assembled view of the applicator with a tampon in its stored position. In this position projection 9 extends radially inwardly as in Fig. 13. The projection 9 will be forced to lie flush with the outer tube 2 when the inner tube 12 is withdrawn and will then be forced to fold back on itself in a similar manner to Fig. 15 when the inner tube 12 is push back within outer tube 2 to expel the tampon.

Fig. 21 is a plan view of the inner tube 12 showing the relative orientation of the slot 16 with respect to slot 20.

Fig. 22 is a sectional view of the applicator when the inner tube 12 has been pushed inside the outer tube 2 to expel a tampon.

A tampon applicator as depicted in Figures 1 to 22 is further advantageous in that its dimensions can be reduced considerably with respect to products currently available. Previously, the inner tubes of such products have been approximately 76mm in length and the outer tubes approximately 70mm in length, whereas a tampon applicator in accordance with the present invention can be manufactured with the length of the inner tube as short as 63 to 57mm and the outer tube as short as 60 to 50mm.