US20090238499A1 - Multi-compartment flexible package - Google Patents

Multi-compartment flexible package Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090238499A1
US20090238499A1 US12417877 US41787709A US2009238499A1 US 20090238499 A1 US20090238499 A1 US 20090238499A1 US 12417877 US12417877 US 12417877 US 41787709 A US41787709 A US 41787709A US 2009238499 A1 US2009238499 A1 US 2009238499A1
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compartment
panel
package
multi
internal
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Abandoned
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US12417877
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Mark Steele
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Mark Steele
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D81/00Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents
    • B65D81/32Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents for packaging two or more different materials which must be maintained separate prior to use in admixture
    • B65D81/3261Flexible containers having several compartments
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D31/00Bags or like containers made of paper and having structural provision for thickness of contents
    • B65D31/12Bags or like containers made of paper and having structural provision for thickness of contents with two or more compartments
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B31MAKING ARTICLES OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER; WORKING PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31BMAKING CONTAINERS OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31B2155/00Flexible containers made from webs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B31MAKING ARTICLES OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER; WORKING PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31BMAKING CONTAINERS OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31B2155/00Flexible containers made from webs
    • B31B2155/002Flexible containers made from webs by joining superimposed webs, e.g. with separate bottom webs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B31MAKING ARTICLES OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER; WORKING PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31BMAKING CONTAINERS OF PAPER, CARDBOARD OR MATERIAL WORKED IN A MANNER ANALOGOUS TO PAPER
    • B31B2160/00Shape of flexible containers
    • B31B2160/20Shape of flexible containers with structural provision for thickness of contents
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D75/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes, or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D75/008Standing pouches, i.e. "Standbeutel"

Abstract

A flexible package is provided having a main package compartment and a segregated internal or secondary compartment. The main package generally includes a plurality of outer panel portions. An internal compartment panel can include a transverse portion operatively joined to one of the main package panel portions to define the secondary compartment. Further, the secondary compartment can include a plurality of passageways providing fluid communication between the secondary compartment and the main package compartment.

Description

    PRIORITY APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a Continuation-In-Part Application of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/857,292, filed Sep. 18, 2007, which in turn is a Divisional Application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/456,971, filed Jun. 6, 2003 and now abandoned, which in turn claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/386,798, filed Jun. 6, 2002; wherein each of the above-referenced applications and disclosures are hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to flexible packaging and, more particularly, to flexible packaging having at least one segregated internal compartment capable of fluid communication with a main package compartment.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Conventional flexible packaging does not generally include compartments within the internal cavity of the package. Typically, a wall is simply positioned down a section of the internal cavity of the main packaging such that a division is merely created for the internal cavity. Distinct and selectively usable compartments within the cavity are not provided for in these conventional package designs. More specifically, conventional packaging lacks selectively usable and distinct compartments capable of fluid communication with each other.
  • As a result, there is a need for a flexible package that substantially solves the above-referenced problems with conventional package designs, configurations, and manufacturing methods.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention solves many of the problems that plague conventional flexible packages and packaging methods. Various embodiments of the present invention are directed to a main package and a segregated internal compartment package. The main package generally includes a plurality of outer panel portions. These panel portions can include a front panel portion, a back panel portion, and a bottom panel portion. In addition, the main package can include a first side panel portion and a second side panel portion. The formation of these panels into the main package defines a main internal compartment or cavity for holding material contents. Any of the panels can be gusseted with the processes and techniques known to one skilled in the art. The compartment package can include at least one internal compartment panel portion disposed between the main panel portions (e.g., back and front) to define a separate internal secondary compartment.
  • In one embodiment, the secondary internal compartment is some size generally smaller than the vertical or longitudinal length of the front and back panels, of varying available width. Further, the internal compartment panel can include a plurality of defined passageways providing distinct channels of fluid communication between the secondary internal compartment and the main internal compartment.
  • The secondary internal compartment having such passageways can be of varying sizes and shapes, and can be formed or sealed to define a plurality of internal compartments in communication with the main package compartment. Such an internal compartment can be utilized to hold or contain sauces, condiments, frozen contents, gelatinous contents, or like contents or substances, thus permitting selective communication of the contents within the internal compartment with the space or contents of the main package compartment through the passageways. The passageways can be of varying sizes, shapes, designs, configurations and can vary greatly in number depending on the particular needs of the manufacturer and end users.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a front view of a multi-compartment package in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a side section schematic view of a multi-compartment package in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 a is a perspective view of a multi-compartment package in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 b is a perspective view of a multi-compartment package having side panels in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a front view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 a is a front view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a side section schematic view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 5 is a top view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 5 a is a top view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 3 a.
  • FIG. 5 b is a perspective view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal and side panels in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 c is a perspective view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 d is a perspective view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 e is a front view of a multi-compartment package having a longitudinal seal and notch in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a front view of a multi-compartment package having a temporary seal in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 7 is a side section schematic view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 8 is a side view of feeding and aligning stations and methods used in forming multi-compartment packages in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a top view of sealing, cooling, and cutting stations and methods used in forming multi-compartment packages in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an opened or unsealed multi-compartment package with an inter-compartment passageway portion and seal area in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 11 is a top view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 10.
  • FIG. 12 is a front view of a multi-compartment package with an inter-compartment passageway portion and seal area in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a side section schematic view of the multi-compartment package of FIG. 11 with an inter-compartment passageway and seal area in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 14 is a close-up view of a portion of the inter-compartment passageway portion of FIG. 12 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an opened or unsealed multi-compartment package with an inter-compartment passageway portion and seal area, and multiple secondary compartments, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. For illustrative purposes, hatching or shading in the figures is generally provided to demonstrate sealed portions and/or integrated devices for the package.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • Referring generally to FIGS. 1-15, a flexible package 10 in accordance with the present invention, and the manufacturing steps for forming said flexible package 10, are shown. The package 10 generally includes a main package compartment 12 and a segregated internal compartment or package 14. The main package 12 generally includes a front panel portion 16, a back panel portion 18, and a bottom panel portion 20. The panels can be formed of one or more film webs or separately joined to define the various structures of the package 10.
  • Further, a top panel portion 21 and/or at least one side panel portion 22 can be included in various embodiments, as demonstrated with side panels 22 in FIGS. 2 b and 5 b. Panel portions 16-20 can be operatively joined, connected, or formed (e.g., directly or indirectly sealed, or folded from one or more film materials) to define an inner cavity 26 of the main package 10 for holding, transporting, or otherwise containing material contents. At least one of the front 16 or back 18 panel portions includes a main sealant surface 27 for bondable joining with selectively positioned portions of the internal compartment package 14. The front panel portion 16 can include front longitudinal edges 17 a, 17 b and the back panel portion 18 can include back longitudinal edges 19. The cross-hatching in the figures can be utilized to generally denote the seal lines which are further described herein.
  • The segregated internal compartment package 14 generally includes at least one internal compartment panel portion 24, wherein the compartment panel portion 24 is peripherally joined to the inner surface of at least one of the main package 10 panel portions to create a second compartment cavity 28. The at least one internal compartment panel 24 includes an internal panel sealant surface 30, longitudinal compartment panel edges 32 a, 32 b and a transverse compartment panel edge or portion 34.
  • The package portions 12-22 are generally constructed of flexible sheet material such as polyethylene, polyester, metal foil, polypropylene, or polyethylenes laminated with other materials such as nylon, polyester, and like films. To provide for higher barriers, embodiments can use combination layers of said materials and material of the like. Generally, the confronting or joinable materials of the main package 12 and the internal compartment package 14 must have acceptable sealing characteristics for bonding to the respective target material. For instance, the sealant surface 30 of the internal panel 24 is constructed of a plastic web of polyethylene, or a material with like characteristics and heat bonding qualities for joining to the target main sealant surface 27 of one of the main package panels, such as the front 16 or back 18 panel portions. One skilled in the art will understand that a myriad of materials and material laminates are available for selective use for the main sealant surface 27 and the internal sealant surface 30 to facilitate the bonding attachment described herein. In one embodiment, at least one of the sealant surfaces 27, 30 will comprise “contaminants” that permit a varying level of bonding, wherein the level of bondable attachment is dependent on the heat applied from a corresponding heat sealing bar or other device. Higher temperatures will create “destructive”, e.g., permanent, bonds while lower temperatures will create a more temporary bond for selective disengagement. Such bonding techniques can be applied at any sealable surface or region of the main package 12 or the internal compartment package 14 to create the desired level of bonding.
  • Preferably, the package of the present invention is to be formed into a stand-up pouch, but it could be a three-side-seal pouch, a pouch that displays lying down, or other known pouch or packaging designs and configurations. The internal panel or web 20 can be of the same width and height as the back and/or front panels, or it can be some size smaller, depending on the compartmental needs of the manufacturer or end user. Regardless, and unlike conventional techniques, the transverse compartment panel edge 34 of the internal panel 24 will generally not be bound to the main body of both the front and back panel portions. Instead, the edges 32 of the internal compartment panel 24 will be bonded intermediate the front 16 and back panels 18 and the transverse edge 34 will be bonded to only one of the front 16 or back 18 panels, generally some distance intermediate the bottom and top edges of said one of the front 16 and back 18 panels. In embodiments including the at least one side panel 22, the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b will also be bonded to the same one of the front 16 or back 18 panels at respective edges 17, 19. Bonding descriptions of the internal compartment panel 24 to various panel designations herein will generally require particular panel portion descriptions for ease of explanation, e.g., panels 16 and 18, but it must be noted that each of the panel portions 16, 18 are interchangeably capable of providing the inner target surface for the internal panel 24 attachment, and the transverse edge 34 in particular. For instance, specific embodiments will require attachment or bonding of the internal panel 24 to the inner surface 27 of the back panel 18 where the outside surface of the front panel 16 includes graphical indicia. Attachment of the internal panel 24 to the back panel 18 will protect the indicia on the front panel 16 as specific sealing processes may require sealing bars to contact the outside of the package to bond the internal panel 24 in place.
  • In FIGS. 1-2 a, one embodiment of the package 10 of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, the internal compartment package 14 is defined by bonding the internal sealant surface 30 at the transverse edge 34 of the at least one internal compartment panel portion 24 to the main sealant surface 27 of the front panel 16, with the back panel 18 being free from bonding contact with the transverse edge 34. Again, the orientation of the panels 16, 18 in relation to the attachment of the internal panel portion 24 is merely for demonstrative purposes and can be interchangeable. Further, the bottom panel or panel portion 20, or the bottom panel portion 20 defined by joining the ends of the front 16 and back panel 18 portions, is gusseted to create a bottom gusseted panel portion 20g. For ease of explanation and differentiation, gusseted panels may be denoted herein with a subscript “g” character. As best demonstrated in FIG. 1 and 2 a, the internal panel portion 24 spans substantially the full width of the front panel 16 but is closeably sealed some distances short of the complete longitudinal length of the front panel 16. In this embodiment, the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel portion 24 are substantially and correspondingly matched and bonded to the longitudinal edges 17 a, 17 b of the front panel 16 and the bottom transverse compartment panel edge 34 of the internal panel portion 24 is bonded across the front panel 16 some distance above the bottom panel portion 20 g. As such, the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 is attached at a transverse seal 36, transverse to the longitudinal edges 17 a, 17 b of the front panel portion 16 and the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24 itself. To prevent the internal panel 24, and the transverse edge 34 in particular, from sealing to the back panel 18 during formation and sealing at the transverse seal 36, a barrier material 40 such as Teflon™ (Polytetrafluoroethylene), Teflon™ coated materials, or materials of like heat barrier qualities and characteristics can be selectively disposed between the back panel 18 and the internal panel 24 proximate the line of the transverse edge 34. During formation of the package 10, the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24 are bonded intermediate the edge portions 17, 19 of the front 16 and back panel 18. The described attachment of the internal panel portion 24 creates the compartment cavity 28, wherein the capacity or volumetric capacity of the compartment cavity 28 is measurably smaller than that of the inner cavity 26 of the main package 10.
  • In FIGS. 3-5 e, another embodiment of the package 10 of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, the internal compartment package 14 is also defined by bonding the internal sealant surface 30 at the transverse edge 34 of the at least one internal compartment panel portion 24 to the main sealant surface 27 of the front panel 16, with the back panel 18 being free from bonding contact with the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24. Further, the bottom panel 20, or the bottom panel portion 20 defined by joining the ends of the front 16 and back panel 18 portions, is gusseted to create a bottom gusseted panel portion 20 g. As best demonstrated in FIGS. 3 and 3 a, the internal panel portion 24 substantially spans the entire width of the front panel 16 and is closeably sealed some distance short of the complete longitudinal length of the front panel 16 at the transverse edge 34 and seal 36. However, while the longitudinal edges 17 a, 17 b of the front panel 16 are bonded with the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24, respectively, an intermediate longitudinal seal 38 is provided at some location intermediate the edges 32 a, 32 b, as demonstrated in FIGS. 3-3 a, and 5 b-5 d. The bonding at the longitudinal seal 38 traverses from the top of the package 10 down to the transverse edge 34 and seal 36. As such, this creation of the longitudinal seal 38 between or intermediate the longitudinal edges 17 a, 17 b, 32 a, 32 b creates an internal compartment 14 measurably smaller in width than the overall width of the front panel 16 and the main package 10.
  • While the transverse seal 36 can create a continuous bond between the front 16 panel and the internal panel 24 along the transverse edge 34, attachment of the back panel 18 to the transverse edge 34 and seal 36 is preferably avoided to maintain the capacity and configuration of the inner cavity 26. Since seal bars and other bonding mechanisms and techniques known to one skilled in the art are easily utilized and often implement a seal bar across the entire width of the package 10 at the line defined by the transverse edge 34, it may be necessary to include a material barrier 40 protection along the line of the transverse edge 34 extending from the longitudinal seal 38 to the longitudinal edges 17 b, 32 b. Like the previous embodiment, a barrier material 40 such as Teflon™, Teflon™ coated materials, or materials of like heat barrier qualities and characteristics can be selectively disposed between the back panel 18 and the front panel 16 along the width of the panels. This barrier 40 will prevent bonding of the back panel 18 to the transverse edge 34 along the seal 36 between the edges 17 a, 32 a and the edges 17 b, 32 b, thus also providing a barrier along the seal 36 between the longitudinal seal 38 and the edges 17 b, 32 b. At the same time, a bond is created between the front 16 panel and the internal panel 24 along the length of the transverse seal 36. Various applications of such a barrier material to a selected portion of a package panel known to one skilled in the art can be employed without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The described attachment of the internal panel portion 24 creates the compartment cavity 28, wherein the capacity or volumetric limitations of the compartment cavity 28 are measurably smaller than that of the inner cavity 26 of the main package 10. The boundaries of the compartment 14 and compartment cavity 28 are generally defined in this embodiment by the u-shaped sealed continuity of the longitudinal edge 32 a, the transverse edge 34, and the longitudinal seal 38.
  • With such an embodiment, it may be necessary to additionally bond at least a portion of the top region of the internal panel 24 to the top portion of the front panel 16, distal the transverse seal 36, as shown in FIGS. 5-5 a, and 5 d. In FIG. 5, this top portion of the internal panel 24 is sealed to the top portion of the front panel 16 only from the longitudinal seal 38 to the longitudinal edges 17 b, 32 b. Accordingly, the openings into the internal compartment cavity 28 and the main inner cavity 26 are distinctly defined. In FIGS. 5 a and 5 d, the top portion of the internal panel 24 confronting the top portion of the back panel 18 is sealed between the longitudinal edges 17 a, 32 a and the longitudinal seal 38, and the top portion of the internal panel 24 confronting the top portion of the front panel 16 is still sealed to the top portion of the front panel 16 from the longitudinal seal 38 to the longitudinal edges 17 b, 32 b. Each of the seals defined herein and shown in FIGS. 5-5 a, and 5 d can be temporary or permanent and can be created using materials, techniques, and methods known to one skilled in the art. These embodiments create more defined and distinct openings into the compartment cavity 28 and the inner cavity 26 such that filling of each of said cavities 26, 28 with material and/or fluid contents is easily accomplished by various packagers using known filling techniques and machines. Upon filling of either or both of the cavities 26, 28, the top portions of the front 16 and back 18 panels can be sealed together.
  • Various embodiments of the present invention can include a temporary seal 42 bond along any of the edges or seals of the internal panel 24. Preferably, the temporary seal 42 is provided along the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 to create at least a portion of the transverse seal 36, as shown in FIGS. 6-7. In one embodiment of the temporary seal 42, an adhesive, tape, or other selectively engageable material or substance comprises at least a portion of the transverse seal 36 such that when it is closeably engaged to temporarily bond the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 to the inner surface of one panel of the main package 10, i.e., the sealant surface 27 of the front panel 16, the compartment cavity 28 is segregated from the inner cavity 26. However, when the temporary seal 42 is opened or disengaged, the compartment cavity 28 is brought into fluid communication with the inner cavity 26. Such temporary seal embodiments can be utilized to isolate material contents of the two cavities 26, 28 until such time as it is needed and/or desirable. Medical materials and contents, food, liquids, solids, and a myriad of other materials and substances can be segregated for a desired period of time or use and then selectively brought into communication with such an embodiment. Further, communication between the cavities 26, 28 can be closed by engaging or actuating the temporary seal 42 to again provide desired segregation in those embodiments using adhesives, tapes, and the like.
  • In one embodiment, the temporary seal 42 will include a compatible tape material such that the temporary bond is broken upon sufficient pressure by the end user on the internal compartment 14 and/or main package 10 structures. In another embodiment, the temporary seal 42 is created by heat sealing the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 to the front 16 or back panel 18 portions in such a manner as to not create a permanent bond. As described herein, this temporary seal 42 generated from a heat sealing technique can comprise selectively utilizing materials with known contaminant characteristics such that a relatively low heat application along the seal 42 provides temporary sealing and avoids a destructive or permanent seal. Various selective and temporary bonding techniques known to one skilled in the art can be employed to implement and create the temporary seal 42 without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Further, the temporary seal 42 techniques and methods can be included along the longitudinal seal 38 rather than the transverse edge 34 in those packages 10 implementing the compartment package 14 of FIGS. 3-5 d.
  • Various embodiments can further include a notch 44, as shown in FIG. 5 e. This notch 44 is preferably located proximate the longitudinal seal 38 at the top of the package 10 and traverses down into at least the internal panel 24 and one of the front 16 or back 18 panels. A slit can be further provided transversely running into the notch 44 to facilitate selective tearing. This notch 44 permits the end user or packager to selectively open one or both of the compartments 12, 14 to gain access into the corresponding cavities 26, 28. Distinct access is thus permitted. For instance, a user can rip the notch 44 across to edges 17 a, 32 a to access the internal compartment 12, while ripping the notch 44 the opposite direction toward edges 17 b, 32 b will provide access into the main package compartment 12.
  • Each of the embodiments of the present invention can further include a tab or lip portion 39 at the top end portion of the internal panel 24 as shown in FIGS. 2, 4, and 7. The lip portion 39 generally extends some distance outside of the opened package 10 after formation to provide yet another means of facilitating the filling of the inner cavity 26 and/or the compartment cavity 28 with contents. By providing the lip 39, a filling machine, such as a pouch machine, a form-fill-seal machine, a premade pouch filling machine or other like machines known to one skilled in the art can easily push back the internal panel 24 toward a panel (e.g., the back panel 18) of the package 12 opposite the panel having the sealing surface 27 (e.g., the front panel 16). In those packages and embodiments of the present invention attaching the internal panel 24 to the front panel 16, this pushes the internal panel 24 towards the back panel 18 to more clearly define and separate the opening of the inner cavity 26 and the compartment cavity 28 such that contents designated for one cavity will not accidentally enter the other cavity.
  • In the embodiments of FIGS. 2 b and 5 b, the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 is similarly bonded to only one of the front 16 or back 18 panels. In addition, the inclusion of the at least one side panel 22 makes it possible to only bond the edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24 to the same of the front 16 or back 18 panels. For instance, the edges 19 of the back panel 18 are free from bondable sealing with the edges 17 of the front panel 16 and the edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24. Instead, the edges 32 a are bonded to edges 17 a and edges 32 b are bonded to edges 17 b. As with the other embodiments, the longitudinal seal 38 can be included, as shown in FIG. 5 b. To prevent the edges 32 a, 32 b from bonding to the back panel 18, the barrier 40 and the various barrier techniques described herein can be employed at any of the sealing regions. With such an embodiment having a side panel 22, expansion of the bottom panel 10, or gusseted bottom panel 20 g, and expansion of the side panel 22, or side panel 22 g, is not substantially hindered by the bonded internal panel 24 or its sealed portions.
  • Referring to FIGS. 8-9, the manufacturing process generally includes placing the internal panel portion 24 between the front 16 and back 18 panel portions such that the segregated multi-compartment package 10 of the present invention is formed. This formation process generally comprises a roller feed station 50, a gusseting/folding station 52, an alignment station 54, a first seal station 56, and a side seal station 58. The formation process can further include a cooling station 60 and a cut-off station 62. Each of the base steps in forming the package 10 of the present invention can be performed by known pouch machines, form-fill-seal machines, and like machines known to one skilled in the art for forming pouches and/or forming and filling pouches in the confines of the same manufacturing process.
  • During formation of the package, the internal panel 24 is fed between the front 16 and back 18 panel portions such that the internal panel 24 extends from the top of the pouch down a distance short of where the folded gusset bottom 20g starts, depending on the length of longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b. As shown in FIG. 8, at the roller feed station 50, a front panel web roll 64, a back panel web roll 66, an internal panel web roll 68, and a bottom panel web roll 70 are each individually positioned and fed along a general web direction using rollers, brackets, guides, and other techniques and mechanism known to one skilled in the art for forming flexible packages. The sealant surface 27 of the front panel web roll 64 is facing inward toward the alignable internal web 68 and the internal panel sealant surface 30 of the internal panel web roll 68 is likewise facing out toward the alignable front panel web roll 64. Prior to final alignment of the webs 64-70 before bondable sealing, the bottom web 70 can be gusseted at the gusseting station 52 using known techniques, mechanisms and methods known to one skilled in the art. For instance, a v-bracket can be inserted along an intermediate portion of the bottom web 70 as it is being fed through the process such that a gusset fold forms web 70 g to define what will be bottom panel 20 g for each of the packages 10.
  • Referring primarily to FIG. 9, the aligned webs 64, 66, 68, and 70 g are positioned or laid upon each other and fed into the first seal station 56. At this station, seals running along the line of the web direction but transverse to the orientation of the final package 10 can be employed. Specifically, a first seal bar 72 can contact the outer surface of a panel, such as a portion of the front panel web 64 (or the back panel web 66) to create the transverse seal 36, and/or the temporary seal 42 to bondably attach the transverse edge 34 of the internal web 68. Further, a second seal bar 74 can contact the outer surface of the front panel web 65 (or the back panel web 66) to fully seal the bottom gusseted panel web 70 g to the front web 65 and/or the back web 66. Following these seals at the first seal station 56, the now partially-sealed webs 64, 66, 68, and 70 g continue along the web direction to the side seal station 58. The side seal station 58 can include at least one side seal bar 76, and preferably two side seal bars 76, positioned and designed to contact the outer portion of the webs to intermediately seal the longitudinal edges 32 of the internal panel web 68 to the respective confronting edges 17, 19 of the front 64 and back 66 panel webs. A seal bar can be implemented at this stage to selectively seal along the package to form the longitudinal seal 38 described herein. As previously indicated, pieces or strips of Teflon™, or similar materials having beneficial heat resistant qualities have been placed at the designated target regions described herein so that unwanted bonding of particular panel portions is avoided. Following the sealing at the side seal station 58, the boundaries and seals for the internal compartment package 14 and the main package 12 are defined for each contiguous package 10 passing along the web path of the machine.
  • As the now forming package 10 leaves the side seal station 58 along the web path of the machine, each package 10 can enter a cooling station 60. The cooling station 60 can include at least one cooling bar 78 which is applied along the various seals, e.g., the seals created at the side seal station 58, to lower the web material temperature to further promote and stabilize the bonds created. Once the cooling bars 78 have performed the cooling functions required upon application, each package 10, still contiguously linked, can be separated to define the distinct package 10 at the cut-off station 62. The cut-off station 62 can include a cutting device 80 such as a blade or other known mechanism that can trim the edges of the package 10 and cut the end package 10 from the adjacently joined package 10. Other trimming devices and mechanisms can further be employed to trim the various edges of the package 10.
  • With this manufactured package product, a compartmentalized package is created such that there is no mingling or intrusion of the contents of the distinct compartments 12, 14 and corresponding cavities 26, 28. In addition, the transverse edge 34 of the internal panel 24 is generally bonded only to one of the selected target panels 16, 18. This leaves the remaining panel not targeted for receiving the internal panel 24 free for movement. For instance, a bottom panel 20 g and/or a side panel 22 g are free to expand or contract contingent upon the insertion or removal of contents within the inner cavity 16, thus not detrimentally affecting the functionality of the package 10 or the capacity or functionality of the compartment cavity 28. Each cavity 26, 28 and package portion 12, 14 is substantially independent from the other. Various handles, graphics, closeable and re-closeable devices, gusseted portions, and like features known to one skilled in the art are also envisioned for use with this invention and can be implemented without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. All references to front, back, bottom, and the like are merely for demonstrative purposes and are not intended to limit the variations and positional references and orientations of the panels in the present invention.
  • Referring generally to FIGS. 10-15, an embodiment is depicted having a plurality of inter-compartment passageways. In such an embodiment, the main package compartment or package cavity 26 and internal/secondary compartment or cavity 28 are again distinct or separate compartments within the package 10. Likewise, the general formation and structure of the package 10 of such an embodiment can include the various steps, configurations and designs depicted or described herein.
  • In this passageway embodiment, the internal compartment package 14 can be defined by bonding or otherwise operatively joining (e.g., directly or indirectly) the transverse edge 34 of the at least one internal compartment panel portion 24 to the main sealant surface 27 of one of the front 16 or back 18 panels, with the other of the panels 16, 18 being free from bonding contact with the transverse edge 34. Again, the orientation of the panels 16, 18 in relation to the attachment of the internal panel portion 24 is merely for demonstrative purposes and can be interchangeable. Further, the bottom panel or portion 20 defined by joining or forming the ends of the front 16 and back panel 18 portions, can be gusseted to create a bottom gusseted panel portion 20 g.
  • As best demonstrated in FIGS. 11-12, the internal panel portion 24 can span substantially the full width of the front or back panels 16, 18 but is generally closeably sealed some distances short of the complete longitudinal length of the panels. As such, the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel portion 24 are substantially and correspondingly matched and joined to the longitudinal edges 19 and the bottom transverse compartment panel edge 34 of the internal panel portion 24 is operatively across the front or back panels 16, 18 (e.g., back panel 18 in FIGS. 10, 12-13) some distance above the bottom panel portion 20 g to form a passageway portion 100. The corresponding seal can be a “destruct” or permanents seal, or a more temporary seal, such as a peel seal application.
  • The passageway portion 100 provides fluid communication between the secondary compartment 28 and the main package compartment 26. For example, in one embodiment, the passageway portion 100 can include a plurality of seal segments or lands 102 spaced or otherwise provided to define a plurality of passageways or channels 104. A seal bar or other known device or process can be employed to seal the spaced land portions 102 to the inner sealant surface of the back panel 18, while leaving the channels or openings 104 generally free of such bonding. The seal bar can include defined and extending segments to achieve the limited or selective contact surfaces for sealing the edge 34 to create the desired spaced lands 102. This selective sealing of the transverse edge 34 along the inner surface of one of the main package panels can occur along any distance between the bottom and top portions of the panels 16, 18. In addition, like other package configurations detailed herein, the passageway embodiment of the current invention can also include side panel portions, gusseted or non-gusseted. Further, the formation of the lands 102 and channels 104 can be accomplished by any means of bonding, sealing or forming package portions known to one of ordinary skill in the art. The shape, size, and spacing of the lands 102 and channels 104 can vary greatly according to content and package formation needs.
  • Like other embodiments described or depicted herein, an intermediate longitudinal seal 38 can be provided at some location intermediate the edges 32 a, 32 b. The bonding at the longitudinal seal 38 traverses from the top of the package 10 down to the transverse edge 34. As such, this creation of the longitudinal seal 38 between or intermediate the longitudinal edges of the package creates an internal compartment 28 divided into two or more compartments 28 a, 28 b, as demonstrated in FIG. 15. The multiple secondary compartments 28 a, 28 b are shown in FIG. 15 opened or otherwise not sealed closed at the top of the package, but could be sealed along the top of the package, e.g., to the top of the back panel 18. The longitudinal seal 38 can be a temporary seal, such as a peel seal, or a destructive or permanent seal. As such, the contents of the two or more compartments within internal compartment 28 can be brought into selective communication with the other of the compartment 28, or the main compartment 26. This can be accomplished by manual force or pressure, cooking or heating, or a myriad of other techniques. Further, the transverse edge 34 can include the passageway portion 100 across its entire length, or just across a limited length or width of the package with the remainder of the edge beyond seal 38 being free of passageways.
  • To prevent the internal panel 24, and the transverse edge 34 in particular, from sealing to one or more of the panels (e.g., front and/or back) during formation and sealing, a barrier material 40 such as Teflon™, Teflon™ coated materials, or materials of like heat barrier qualities and characteristics can be selectively disposed between the panels and the internal panel 24 proximate the line of the transverse edge 34. During formation of the package 10, the longitudinal edges 32 a, 32 b of the internal panel 24 are bonded intermediate the edge portions of the front 16 and back panel 18. The described attachment of the internal panel portion 24 creates the compartment cavity 28, wherein the capacity or volumetric limitations of the secondary compartment 28 can be measurably smaller than that of the inner cavity 26 of the main package 10.
  • In use, the secondary compartment 28 can be filled with material contents capable of selective communication with the main package compartment 26. For instance, frozen, semi-frozen, gelatinous, granular, solid, and other like material contents 11 can occupy the secondary compartment 28 such that they do not readily traverse the channels 104 of the passageway portion 100 until desired. However, traversal can be initiated by heating and transforming the structure of the contents, squeezing or otherwise forcing the contents through the channels 104, or via a myriad of other techniques or methods. For example, the secondary compartment 28 could include a frozen fluid, such as a sauce, that melts upon the application of heat, which in turn causes the fluid to flow through the channels 104 and into the main compartment 26 where compatible contents, such as pasta or rice, are present. This allows for the contents 11 of the secondary compartment 28 to remain distinct and separate from the contents of the main compartment 26 until a time when inter-compartmental communication is desired. The selection of contents 11 that can be included in compartments 26, 28 is nearly limitless and the examples provided herein are for demonstrative purposes only.
  • Various handles, graphics, closeable and re-closeable access devices, gusseted portions, and like features known to one skilled in the art are also envisioned for use with this invention and can be implemented without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. In addition, various passageway embodiments of the present invention can further include one or more notch or tear portions located proximate a longitudinal edge or top portion of the package 10 adapted for access through an opening. These notch portions permit the end user or packager to selectively open one or both of the compartments 12, 14 to gain access into the corresponding cavities 26, 28. Distinct access is thus permitted.
  • The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is, therefore, desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Similarly, the above-described methods and techniques for manufacturing the present invention are illustrative sequential processes and are not intended to limit the methods of manufacturing the present invention to those specifically defined herein. It is envisioned that various depicted steps can be performed in differing substantive and sequential order. In addition, various unspecified steps and procedures can be performed in between those steps described herein without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the method of manufacturing the sam

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A multi-compartment flexible package, comprising:
    a main package portion having at least;
    a first panel including an inner first panel surface; and
    a second panel including an inner second panel surface, with at least the first panel and second panel operatively connected to define a main package compartment;
    an internal compartment panel including a generally transverse bottom portion operatively joined to the inner surface of the first panel to define a secondary compartment generally distinct from the main package compartment, the transverse bottom portion including a plurality of passageways providing fluid communication between the secondary compartment and the main package compartment.
  2. 2. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 1, further including an access device to provide access into at least one of the secondary and main package compartments through an access opening.
  3. 3. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 1, wherein the internal compartment panel includes at least one intermediate longitudinal seal portion operatively joined to the inner surface of the first panel.
  4. 4. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 1, wherein the secondary compartment is adapted to contain at least partially frozen contents.
  5. 5. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 1, wherein the secondary compartment is adapted to contain contents selected from a group consisting of: frozen substances, semi-frozen substances, solid substances and gelatinous substances.
  6. 6. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 1, further including a gusseted bottom panel portion.
  7. 7. A multi-compartment flexible package, comprising:
    a first panel including an inner first panel surface;
    a second panel including an inner second panel surface, with at least the first panel and second panel operatively connected to define a main package compartment; and
    an internal compartment panel including a transverse bottom portion operatively joined to the inner surface of the first panel to define a secondary internal compartment generally distinct from the main package compartment, the transverse bottom portion including a plurality of spaced seal segments and a plurality of spaced unsealed openings to provide fluid communication between the secondary internal compartment and the main package compartment.
  8. 8. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, further including an access device to provide access into at least one of the secondary and main package compartments through an access opening.
  9. 9. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 8, wherein the access device is a re-closeable access device.
  10. 10. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, further including a tear portion provided to facilitate access into at least one of the main and secondary compartments.
  11. 11. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, wherein the internal compartment panel includes at least one intermediate longitudinal seal portion operatively joined to the inner surface of the first panel such that the secondary compartment defines at least two distinct compartments.
  12. 12. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, wherein the secondary compartment is adapted to contain at least partially frozen contents.
  13. 13. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, wherein the secondary compartment is adapted to contain contents selected from a group consisting of: frozen substances, semi-frozen substances, solid substances and gelatinous substances.
  14. 14. The multi-compartment flexible package of claim 7, further including a gusseted bottom panel portion.
  15. 15. A multi-compartment package, comprising:
    a first outer panel including an inner first panel surface; and
    a second outer panel including an inner second panel surface;
    an internal compartment panel operatively provided between the first and second panels to define a main package compartment and a secondary internal compartment; and
    an inter-compartment passageway portion including a plurality of land segments and a plurality of openings providing fluid communication between the secondary internal compartment and the main package compartment.
  16. 16. The multi-compartment package of claim 15, wherein the plurality of land segments are spaced seal segments defined by the joining of portions of a transverse bottom portion of the internal compartment panel to a portion of the inner first panel surface.
  17. 17. The multi-compartment package of claim 16, wherein the transverse bottom portion of the internal compartment panel is joined to the inner first panel surface a distance above a bottom portion of the first outer panel.
  18. 18. The multi-compartment package of claim 15, wherein the secondary internal compartment is adapted to contain at least partially frozen contents.
  19. 19. The multi-compartment package of claim 15, further including a gusseted bottom panel portion.
  20. 20. The multi-compartment package of claim 15, wherein the internal compartment panel includes at least one intermediate longitudinal seal portion operatively joined to the inner first panel surface.
US12417877 2002-06-06 2009-04-03 Multi-compartment flexible package Abandoned US20090238499A1 (en)

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US38679802 true 2002-06-06 2002-06-06
US10456971 US20040031244A1 (en) 2002-06-06 2003-06-06 Multi-compartment flexible package
US11857292 US20090080810A9 (en) 2002-06-06 2007-09-18 Multi-compartment flexible package
US12417877 US20090238499A1 (en) 2002-06-06 2009-04-03 Multi-compartment flexible package

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US20120006702A1 (en) * 2002-06-06 2012-01-12 Mark Steele Multi-Compartment Flexible Package
US9108381B2 (en) * 2002-06-06 2015-08-18 Mark Steele Multi-compartment flexible package
US20080279485A1 (en) * 2004-11-05 2008-11-13 Mark Steele Packages having fluid-filled chamber closures
US7883268B2 (en) 2004-11-05 2011-02-08 Mark Steele Package having a fluid actuated closure
US8613547B2 (en) 2004-11-05 2013-12-24 Mark Steele Packages having bubble-shaped closures
US20070189641A1 (en) * 2004-11-05 2007-08-16 Mark Steele Package Having a Fluid Actuated Closure
US20090180716A1 (en) * 2007-10-31 2009-07-16 Mark Steele Package handle
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US20090245699A1 (en) * 2008-03-07 2009-10-01 Mark Steele Gusseted package with impact barrier
US8540427B2 (en) 2008-03-07 2013-09-24 Mark Steele Gusseted package with impact barrier
US20090277916A1 (en) * 2008-05-06 2009-11-12 Mark Steele Package with strap handle
US20160152380A1 (en) * 2008-05-28 2016-06-02 MaBelle Bray Multi-Compartment Resealable Storage Bag And Container
US20100226600A1 (en) * 2009-02-26 2010-09-09 Mark Steele Package with releasable film access opening
US20100284630A1 (en) * 2009-05-06 2010-11-11 La Fuente Brian H Multiple pocket reclosable disposable plastic bags and methods for making them
US8870458B2 (en) * 2009-05-06 2014-10-28 Brian H. La Fuente Multiple pocket reclosable disposable plastic bags and methods for making them
US20110182531A1 (en) * 2009-12-18 2011-07-28 Mark Steele Package having a fill and seal feature
US9309036B2 (en) 2012-10-25 2016-04-12 Mark Steele Package with enclosed utensil
US20140233868A1 (en) * 2013-02-20 2014-08-21 James P. Knutzon Multi-compartment bag and method of making same
US9963284B2 (en) 2015-04-09 2018-05-08 Mark Steele Package valve closure system and method
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