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1. (WO1993018981) GARDE-PLI DESTINE AUX DISTRIBUTEURS EN FORME DE TUBES
Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

Fold retainer for dispensing tubes.

Field of the Invention
This invention relates to fold retainers for flexible memoryless dispensing tubes.

Background of the Invention
Flexible dispensing tubes used for dispensing a product, such as toothpaste, through an opening by squeezing the flexible walls of the tube are well known. The flexible tube has an opening at one end and is sealed by a transverse seam at the other end. The contents of the tube are typically
dispensed in small amounts and a cap is placed over the opening to preserve the remaining contents.
To efficiently dispense the contents of such a tube, the sealed end is folded against the flexible wall to force the product through the opening. To dispense the next amount of the product, the sealed end of the tube is folded over again. This folding may continue until all of the product is expelled from the tube.
When the tube is made from a soft metal, such as zinc, the folded portion of the tube remains folded. However, plastic tubes do not remain folded, but are resilient enough to spring back into the original shape of the tube. Thus, when using plastic tubes, one must re-fold the tube from the sealed end each time material is dispensed. For this application, such resilient tubes that do not retain a folded condition are called memoryless. What is needed is a way to preserve the folded condition of tubes made from resilient material after each use.
sum-mary of the Invention
The problem of preserving the folded condition of a resilient tube is solved by the present invention which provides a tube having a flexible wall with a fold retainer secured at the sealed end thereof. The fold retainer permits the sealed end to be folded and the folded end encircled by the ring to preserve it in the folded condition.
In one aspect of the invention, the fold retainer includes a pair of rings attached to one another along a short segment. One ring encircles the sealed end of the tube and is made integral with the tube by a tight fit or is otherwise permanently attached to the tube. The other ring extends away from the tube, and encircles the folds to retain the folded portion of the tube.
In another aspect of the invention, the fold retainer is integrally formed with the tube. This is accomplished by sealing the tube at one end so an unsealed portion of the tube extends beyond the sealed end. The extending, unsealed portion of the tube is transversely cut to separate it from the tube, except for a short segment thereof. The short segment folds with the tube, while the remainder of the severed tube end, which is in the form of a ring, is used to encircle and hold the folded section. Preferably, the cut is an arcuate one to increase the diameter of the unattached portion.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention shall be made apparent by
reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
Brief Description of the Drawings
The accompanying drawings, which are
incorporated and constitute a part of this
specification, illustrate three embodiments of the invention and, together with the general
description given above, and the detailed
description given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
FIG. 1 is an elevational view of one
embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 1A is a fragmentary elevational view of an alternative version of transverse cut for the embodiment in FIG. 1,'
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary elevational view of another embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 3 is an elevational view illustrating the retaining ring of FIGS. 1 and 2 holding a
memoryless tube in a folded condition.
Detailed Description of the Invention
A preferred embodiment of a flexible,
dispensing tube that incorporates the principles of the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. The tube 10 includes a tube body 12 having a flexible wall 14 with none or relatively little memory retention characteristics when folded. As previously noted, such tubes are denoted as memoryless tubes for purposes of this disclosure. At an upper end 16 of the tube body 12, a shoulder 18 is formed with an opening 20 for dispensing the product from the tube 10. A cap (not shown) may be used to cover the opening 20 to preserve the product housed within the tube body 12. The lower end 22 is closed by sealing the flexible wall 14 along a seam 24. A fold-retainer 26 is integrally joined or secured by a tab 28 to the tube body 12 at the seam 24. The fold-retainer 26 also includes a retaining ring 30 that extends from seam 24 for holding the tube body 12 in a folded condition.
The tube of FIG. 1 is formed with the lower end 22 open so the product may be placed within the tube body 12. The lower end 22 is sealed along the seam 24 so that a portion of the tube body 12 extends from the seam 24. Preferably, this
extension is about 1/8" though other lengths may be. used. A transverse straight cut across most of the length of the seam 24 separates the fold retainer 26 from the seam 24 except for the tab 28.
Alternatively, the cut is arcuate, as shown in FIG. 1A, to form a curved ring 30 that is larger in diameter than the ring formed by the straight cut as depicted in Fig. 1.
Using like numbers for like structures,
another embodiment of a tube incorporating the present invention is shown in FIG. 2. The tube 10 has a tube body 12 with a shoulder 18 and opening 20 at one end. The seam 24 of this tube is made to terminate the tube body 12 without an extension from the seam. A fold-retainer 34 is made from an elastic material and includes a retaining ring 36 and a securing ring 38 which are attached to each other. The securing ring 38 encircles and is
attached to the seam 24 so the retaining ring 36 is free to encircle and retain the tube in a folded condition.
To use any of the embodiments, the retaining rings 30, 36 of the fold-retainers 26 and 34, respectively, are moved out of the folding path until folding of the tube is complete. The
retaining ring 30, 36 of the fold-retainers 26, 34, respectively, are then moved adjacent the tube body 12 and opened to encircle and hold the tube in the folded condition as shown in FIG 3. To expel a further portion of the tube's contents, the
retaining ring may be opened and moved away from the folded portion to permit a further fold of the flexible wall 14 and then returned to the position shown in FIG.4 to secure the tube in its new folded condition.
While two embodiments of the present invention have been described, further modifications and changes would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the principles of the invention. It is intended that all such changes and modifications apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art be covered by the appended claims.
What is claimed is: