US 20070108158 A1
A flexible tube check valve is introduced within a fluid path for leakage protection from flexible liquid containers. The flexible check valve can be a crossbill valve comprising multiple flexible members that restrict the flow of fluid in a tubular member. The flexible check valve is preferably functionally integrated with the container itself to prevent liquid from exiting a container. Preferably, the flexible check valve is a crossbill valve that is encapsulated within a flexible tube and mechanically attached to the flexible container. Alternatively, the check valve is manufactured as part of the flexible container. Liquid is designed to only flow through when an external compressive force (e.g. users fingers or lips) is applied to the valve. When force is no longer applied to the valve section, the valve returns to its normally closed position and fluid is wholly or substantially prevented from exiting. An alternative medical embodiment uses a flexible tube extension between the flexible liquid container and the flexible tube valve. A coupling connector may be added between the flexible tube extension and flexible tube valve.
1. A fluid retaining flexible pouch with leakage protection, said pouch comprising:
a flexible fluid retaining section;
a fluid withdrawing section, said fluid withdrawing section having a proximate and distal end, said distal end used as an exit for said fluid;
a functionally integrated flexible check valve encapsulated within said fluid withdrawing section, said flexible check valve comprising two or more flexible members oriented in a direction opposite said distal end that are pressed together in a normally closed configuration and prevent unwanted leakage of fluid from said distal end, and
a base section integrated at said proximate end of said fluid withdrawing section comprising a circumferentially extending section which is retained by one or more surfaces of said flexible fluid retaining section.
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10. A medical fluid retaining flexible pouch system with leakage protection, said flexible pouch system comprising:
a flexible medical fluid retaining section;
a fluid exit nozzle retained by said flexible medical fluid retaining section;
a fluid conduit having a proximate and distal end, said proximate end operatively attached to said fluid exit nozzle;
a fluid withdrawing section operatively connected to said distal end of said fluid conduit, said fluid withdrawing section having a proximate and distal end, said distal end used as an exit for said medical fluid;
a functionally integrated flexible check valve encapsulated within said fluid withdrawing section, said flexible check valve comprising two or more flexible members oriented in a direction opposite said flexible check valve distal end that are pressed together in a normally closed configuration and prevent unwanted leakage of said medical fluid from said flexible check valve distal end.
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The present application claims priority to U.S. provisional application 60/597,201 filed Nov. 16, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Applicants' co-pending application Ser. No. 10/095,550, filed on Jan. 10, 2005, published as US 2002-0159454 A1, is also incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
1. Field of Invention
The present invention is related to fluid flow control and more specifically, leakage protection in a closed flexible container application with tubular egress.
2. Discussion of Prior Art
Juice boxes and pouches are well known sealed drinking containers. Typically, these containers have attached a plastic sealed straw, which is removed and used to puncture and drain the liquid within. These containers are predominantly used by children, who through various means enable liquid to escape the straw during non-drinking situations. One problem associated with the straws is the forced evacuation of liquid through squeezing of the container or by vacuum related capillary action. Tipping of the container may also cause liquid spills. A second problem associated with such applications is the loss or damage to the straw making the use of the product difficult or impossible. The present invention reduces or eliminates the unwanted draining of the container and eliminates the detachable straw.
Whatever the precise merits, features, and advantages of the prior art, it does not achieve or fulfill the purposes of the present invention.
The present invention uses a valve within a fluid path for leakage protection. The valve is preferably a flexible check valve such as a duckbill or crossbill. The valve comprises two or more flexible members that restrict the flow of liquid from a container during non-drinking situations. The flexible members of the valve limit pressurized flow and substantially prevent liquid from exiting while remaining normally closed. To open a valve section, external compressive force is applied (e.g., by a user's fingers or lips) which separates the flexible members allowing liquid to flow through. When external compressive force is no longer applied to the valve section, the valve returns to its normally closed position and fluid is prevented from exiting. Pressurized forces, such as liquid trying to escape when a user squeezes the drinking container, only serve to press the flexible members together with greater force.
The flexible check valve is preferably used within a tubular section having a fluid path and functionally integrated into the exit of the container. An alternative embodiment includes the flexible check valve integrated as part of the drinking container itself. The attachment/integration and flexible members of the valve may comprise several embodiments.
One embodiment comprises a flexible drinking liquid container with silicon valve functionally integrated.
An alternative embodiment comprises a flexible medical liquid delivery system container with silicon valve functionally connected thereto by connected extended tubular conduit.
While this invention is illustrated and described in a preferred embodiment, the device may be produced in many different configurations, forms and materials. There is depicted in the drawings, and will herein be described in detail, a preferred embodiment of the invention, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and the associated functional specifications for its construction and is not intended to limit the invention to the embodiment illustrated. Those skilled in the art will envision many other possible variations within the scope of the present invention. In the description below it should be noted that the term “fluid” should include any type of liquid, gas, powder, particulate, gel, or colloid. Also, the attachment methods shown in the preferred embodiment can be used with other flexible check valves without departing from the scope of the invention.
In the prior art, the liquid is typically extracted by piercing a straw receiving section and drawing the liquid out through the straw. At least two problems exist, leakage and loss or damage to the straw. The present invention seeks to eliminate the detachable straw and add leakage protection.
In a first embodiment, a flexible valve tube 102 with encapsulated cross-bill valve (as fully described in Applicants' commonly-owned U.S. publication number 2002-0159454 A1) is directly attached to the drinking pouch 100 without a straw. The valve may be laminated or heat sealed between the two layers of the foil. The valve comprises operatively joined multiple flexible flaps orientated away from the fluid exit direction. The attachment method 110 shown comprises entrapping an enlarged base section 110 (circumferentially extending) within a two wall reinforced exit section of the container. Other known attachment methods are envisioned without departing from the scope of the present invention.
The user compresses the flexible tube valve 102 with their lips or teeth to open the valve and extract liquid. Compressive forces 202 on the container 100 as shown in
An alternative medical embodiment 300 is shown in
A system and method has been shown in the above embodiments for the effective implementation of an integrated valve for a flexible liquid container. While various preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be understood that there is no intent to limit the invention by such disclosure, but rather, it is intended to cover all modifications and alternate constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the present invention should not be limited by size, materials, or specific manufacturing techniques.
In addition, the flexible check valve structure, manufacturing and attachment techniques (e.g. overmolding) can be used to prevent pressurized loss/retention of any liquid, gas, powder, particulate, gel, or colloid. The completeness of leakage prevention may be based on the quality of materials, manufacturing techniques, attachment techniques, and pressures encountered. In any embodiment, the configuration should substantially prevent fluids from escaping past the flexible check valve and ideally provide a 100% check.
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