Preinsulated tube end cap, end capped preinsulated tube and...

Stock material or miscellaneous articles – Hollow or container type article – Polymer or resin containing

Reexamination Certificate

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C428S034100, C138S149000

Reexamination Certificate

active

06291043

ABSTRACT:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides an easy to install one-piece end cap to protect the cut end of insulation over preinsulated tubing, a method of applying such an end cap and a preinsulated tube with at least one end capped with the end cap.
BACKGROUND
Preinsulated tubing is typically used to transport any of a variety of fluids, including low and high temperature fluids such as steam from one point to a distant point. Preinsulated tubing is characterized by having one or more conduits, typically steel or copper tubing, surrounded by insulation, typically fiberglass insulation, which is commonly contained within an outer sleeve or jacket of a waterproof, oil-resistant, corrosive-resistant material such as flame-resistant polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One example of such preinsulated tubing is that sold under the trade designation TEMPTUBE™ preinsulated tubing by Parker Hannifin Corporation of Ravenna, Ohio. There are many other suppliers of such tubing.
When such preinsulated tubes are cut to make connections, it is customary to cut the tube and then cut away a small segment of the insulation adjacent the end of the tube to facilitate making the connection. When doing this the manufacturer of the preinsulated tubing cautions that it is absolutely necessary to seal the ends of the insulation against contamination from moisture and/or corrosive liquids.
DESCRIPTION OF RELATED PRIOR ART
Heat shrinkable end boots are commercially available under the trade designation SEAL-TITE END BOOTS™ from Furon, Inc. of Cape Coral Fla. The heat shrinkable boots are made of thermally stabilized, modified polyolefin and are shaped to provide a flexible boot to slide over the cut end of the conductor and insulation and are then shrunk in place by use of a heat gun which requires the user to come prepared with a heat gun and hope that there is an electrical outlet to power it. The supplier also provides clamps for the ends of the boot which appears to indicate that the heat shrunk boot per se is not sufficient to provide the necessary protection.
Furon, Inc. also offers an end cap under the trade designation SPEED CAP™ apparently for faster installation than that provided by the SEAL-TITE END BOOT™ equipment. The SPEED CAP device is characterized by being formed of conformable sheet metal, preformed in the shape of a side slit tubular body folded in on one end to provide a truncated cone shape. In use, silicon sealant is applied to the inner portion of the tubular body or the cut end of the insulation and the edges of the slit are joined and a clamp is applied to permanently hold it together.
Furon, Inc. offers yet another way of protecting the cut end of the insulation by use of an end sealing silicone rubber grommet with end sealant. The insulation is pushed back under the jacket, a rubber grommet is slid in place over the tubing under the jacket end so that the grommet's outer edge coincides with the end of the jacket, the sealant is applied over the tubing and the inner surface of the jacket and a plastic clamp is attached over the jacket so that it clamps down on the grommet.
A need exists for a simpler way of protecting the cut end of the insulation on preinsulated tubing.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a one-piece device for conveniently protecting the cut end of insulation on a preinsulated tubing. The device requires no clamp and it is simple to install.
More specifically, the present invention provides an end cap to cover the cut end of compressible insulation surrounding a fluid conduit having an exposed end which extends beyond the cut insulation end. The end cap comprises a rigid body being comprised of a rigid material preferably having a low heat conductivity and at least one open-ended passageway having an inner wall therethrough. The passageway includes a first passageway portion dimensioned to receive the uncompressed end of the insulation, a second intermediate passageway portion dimensioned to compress the uncompressed end of the insulation as the cut end is forced into the second passageway portion so that once forced into the second intermediate passageway portion, the end cap will fit snugly over a portion of the insulation adjacent the cut end and a third passageway portion having a portion dimensioned to block the further passage of the cut end and being dimensioned to slidably fit over the exposed end of the conduit so that a portion of the exposed end of the conduit extends beyond the end cap.
The end cap may be comprised of any rigid material which will maintain its dimensions in use and preferably is comprised of a material having a low heat conductivity if used on an insulated tube used to transfer fluids that are at other than ambient temperature. The term “rigid” is not intended to imply that the shaped body is inflexible. On the contrary, it may have some flexibility as long as it retains its dimensions in use. The term “rigid” is intended to exclude elastic materials. Suitable materials from which the end cap may be formed include, for example, thermoset plastics, thermoplastic materials, hard rubber materials and ceramic materials. Thermoplastic materials and hard rubber materials should be selected to maintain structural integrity and dimensions at the temperature of use. The end cap for use with insulated steam conduits is preferably comprised of a heat-resistant plastic material such as tetrafluoroethylene-perfluro (propyl vinyl ether) copolymer (TFE-PPVE Copolymer) commercially available from DuPont Fluoroproducts of Wilmington, Delaware under the trade designation TEFLON™ 340 PFA fluoropolymer resin.
The end cap of the invention may have more than one third passageway portion to accommodate more than one fluid conduit within the same compressible insulation. The end cap may also include one or more additional passageway portions to accommodate various accessories which may be contained within the insulation, running along side the conduit but may not be conduits themselves. Examples of such accessories include electric tracings for heating the conductor or other sets of wires or tubes.
The end cap of the invention may also have one or more ribs extending around or along the inner wall of the second passageway to provide addition resistance to removal of the insulation end inserted therein or one or more ribs extending around or along the inner wall of the third passageway to improve the seal with the conduit contained therein.
The invention further provides an insulated conduit comprising:
a. a conduit having a tubular body having an inner surface and an outer surface, the tubular body preferably being capable of withstanding the passage of high temperature fluid, an inlet opening at one end and an exit opening at an opposite end;
b. a length insulation having a first cut end and a second cut end deployed over the outer surface of the conduit wall except for a portion of the outer surface adjacent at least one end of the conduit to leave at least one exposed end of the conduit which extends beyond the exposed end of the length of insulation; and
c. an end cap comprising a rigid body, preferably being comprised of a rigid, preferably high-temperature-resistant material having a low heat conductivity and at least one open-ended passageway having an inner wall therethrough including a first passageway portion dimensioned to receive the uncompressed end of the insulation and a second intermediate passageway portion dimensioned to compress the uncompressed end of the insulation as the cut end is forced into the second passageway portion so that, once forced into the second intermediate passageway portion, the end cap will fit snugly over a portion of the insulation adjacent the cut end and a third passageway portion having a portion dimensioned to block the further passage of the cut end dimensioned to slidably fit over the exposed end of the conduit so that a portion of the exposed end of the conduit extends beyond the end cap.
The end-capped insulated conduit of the invention preferably includes a high temperature

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