Dispensing – Processes of dispensing
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to devices for facilitating the emptying of collapsible tube dispensers.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART
As is well known in the art, collapsible tube dispensers that store viscous materials, commonly referred to as “squeeze tubes,” have a wide variety of applications in housewares, industrial, medical, military, food and beverage industry, and other uses. A common example of the squeeze tube is the toothpaste dispenser.
Customary usage of squeeze tubes involves squeezing the end of the tube opposite the dispensing end and rolling the end of the tube toward the dispensing end. Because squeeze tubes were customarily constructed of malleable and ductile metallic compounds, the tubes would retain their shape following squeezing, and thus, the tube would remain largely in its rolled position following the rolling operation.
However, the application of flexible synthetic resins and plastics to squeeze tubes has resulted in the tubes that unwind after being squeezed and rolled. This result may create voids within the plastic tube. These voids make the tube to appear empty when it is not or allow for possible contamination of the remaining contents of the tube. As a result, squeeze tubes are often thrown out before all of their contents have been dispensed.
The prior art discloses numerous devices for dispensing material stored in collapsible tubes. One approach is the turn-key device of Powers U.S. Pat. No. 5,480,065. As the handle of the turn key device is turned, the collapsible tube is wound about the turn key, thereby collapsing the tube and dispensing its contents. Hill U.S. Pat. No. 5,014,879 and Dickens U.S. Pat. No. 5,094,362 disclose similar turn-key devices.
Another approach is that disclosed in McGanty U.S. Pat. No. 5,178,301. McGanty employs a slotted device, which has one slot for the squeeze tube end to be inserted and another for a locking mechanism to be inserted following rolling of the tube. The tube is first inserted into the long slot and wound about the device. Once the tube has been adequately squeezed, the locking mechanism is inserted into the second slot. The tube is then retained in the squeezed position until its next use.
Still other alternative approaches are disclosed in Okami et al. U.S. Pat. No. 5,167,348 and Sundstrom U.S. Pat. No. 5,082,144.
These approaches have many disadvantages. Often, as is the case with the Powers device, the squeezing apparatus is bulky making it disadvantageous for certain uses. Moreover, many of the device are comprised of several or relatively complicated parts resulting in more expensive manufacturing and shipping costs.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to tube squeezers, and in particular a tube squeezer that is simple to use, of simple construction, and inexpensive to manufacture and ship.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an effective and easy method of dispensing material stored in collapsible tube dispensers. It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device with only one component, having the ability to reliably and easily dispense material and retain the collapsible tube in a collapsed condition.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a dispensing mechanism that sufficiently exerts enough pressure against the collapsible tube to dispense all of the material stored in the collapsible tube, thereby eliminating voids in the tube and contamination of the contents of the tube.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a dispenser capable of accommodating a variety of squeeze tube widths.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a dispenser that is inexpensively and easily manufactured. It is still another object of the present invention to provide a dispenser that may be cost-effectively shipped and stored, and that may be thrown away following its use.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a dispenser capable of providing dispensing functions, and yet allow for advertising or promotion in conjunction with the dispensing function.
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Doerrler William C.
Klemchuk Darin M.
Thompson & Knight L.L.P.
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