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Número de publicaciónUS20080256901 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 12/107,958
Fecha de publicación23 Oct 2008
Fecha de presentación23 Abr 2008
Fecha de prioridad24 Oct 2005
Número de publicación107958, 12107958, US 2008/0256901 A1, US 2008/256901 A1, US 20080256901 A1, US 20080256901A1, US 2008256901 A1, US 2008256901A1, US-A1-20080256901, US-A1-2008256901, US2008/0256901A1, US2008/256901A1, US20080256901 A1, US20080256901A1, US2008256901 A1, US2008256901A1
InventoresRichard Custer, Greg W. Melchoir, Paul Tilman
Cesionario originalReynolds Foil Inc, D/B/A Reynolds Consumer Products Company
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods
US 20080256901 A1
Resumen
A reclosable package, formed from at least one polymeric sheet, having a closure and a vacuum valve. The vacuum valve comprises a port, the port being aligned with an aperture in the first sidewall of the package. The vacuum valve allows gas to be removed from inside the package via a vacuum pump. A gas-impermeable layer, overlaying at least one of the aperture and the port, restricts gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the inside of the package.
Imágenes(32)
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Reclamaciones(53)
1. A storage system comprising:
at least one polymeric sheet sealed along a portion of the periphery thereof, thereby defining a storage bag having a storage space, the storage bag comprising a bottom edge, a top edge, and at least one side edge;
a closure coupled to the top edge of the storage bag;
an aperture in a first sidewall of the storage bag;
a vacuum valve coupled to the first sidewall of the polymeric sheet, the vacuum valve comprising a port, the valve aligned with the aperture in the first sidewall, and the vacuum valve configured to accommodate a vacuum pump for removal of fluid from the storage space of the storage bag; and,
a gas-impermeable barrier overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space.
2. The storage system of claim 1, the gas-impermeable barrier being a releasable film releasably coupled to at least one of the storage bag and the vacuum valve.
3. The storage system of claim 2, the releasable film comprising a tab, the releasable film configured for movement from a first position to a second position via the tab, wherein in the first position the gas-impermeable barrier restricts fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, and wherein in the second position the gas-impermeable barrier does not restrict fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space.
4. The storage system of claim 3, wherein the vacuum valve comprises the releasable film, and the tab is located outside an outer perimeter of the vacuum valve.
5. The storage system of claim 2, the releasable film being located on an internal surface of the storage bag, overlaying the aperture.
6. The storage system of claim 2, the releasable film being located on an external surface of the storage bag, overlaying the valve.
7. The storage system of claim 6, the releasable film being located between the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
8. The storage system of claim 1, the gas-impermeable barrier being a cap overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
9. The storage system of claim 1, the gas-impermeable barrier being a one-way breathable membrane.
10. The storage system of claim 1, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting liquid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space of the storage bag.
11. The storage system of claim 1, further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to at least one of the first sidewall and a second sidewall of the storage bag, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
12. The storage system of claim 11, the stand-off being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, and the channels providing a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
13. The storage system of claim 1, further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to the closure, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
14. The storage system of claim 13, the stand-off being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, and the channels providing a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
15. The storage system of claim 1, the closure comprising a pair of opposed interengaging profile members, the opposed interengaging profile members capable of repeated engagement and disengagement.
16. The storage system of claim 15, further comprising:
a caulking composition on a substantial portion of at least one of the interengaging profile members.
17. The storage system of claim 16, the caulking composition further comprising a first reactive material and a second reactive material.
18. The storage system of claim 1, further comprising a vacuum pump, the vacuum pump configured to mate with the vacuum valve, and when operated, remove fluid from the storage space of the storage bag.
19. A method for packaging food items, the method comprising:
receiving a storage bag, the storage bag comprising:
at least one polymeric sheet sealed along at least a portion of the periphery thereof, thereby defining a storage bag having a storage space, the storage bag comprising a top edge, a food item opening, and at least one periphery edge;
a closure coupled to the top edge of the storage bag;
an aperture in a first sidewall of the storage bag;
a vacuum valve coupled to the first sidewall of the storage bag, the vacuum valve comprising at least one port, the valve aligned with the aperture in the first sidewall, the vacuum valve configured to accommodate a vacuum pump for removal of fluid from the storage space of the storage bag; and,
a gas-impermeable barrier overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, the gas-impermeable barrier capable of being movable from a first position to a second position, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space when in the first position, and allowing fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space when in the second position, thereby allowing fluid to be removed from the storage space of the storage bag via the vacuum valve;
placing a food item in the storage space via the food item opening;
evacuating the storage space; and
sealing the food item opening.
20. The method of claim 19, the gas-impermeable barrier comprising a releasable film releasably coupled to at least one of the storage bag and the vacuum valve.
21. The method of claim 20, the resealable film being releasably coupled to the vacuum valve, the tab located outside an outer perimeter of the vacuum valve.
22. The method of claim 19, the releasable film located on an internal surface of the storage bag overlaying the valve.
23. The method of claim 19, the releasable film being located on an external surface of the storage bag overlaying the aperture.
24. The method of claim 23, the releasable film being located between the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
25. The method of claim 18, the gas-impermeable barrier being a cap overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
26. The method of claim 18, the gas-impermeable barrier being a one-way breathable membrane.
27. The method of claim 18, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space of the storage bag.
28. The method of claim 18, the storage bag further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to at least one of the first sidewall and a second sidewall of the storage bag, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
29. The method of claim 28, the stand-off structure being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on at least a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, the channels providing a communication passage for the removal of fluid from the storage bag.
30. The method of claim 18, the storage bag further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to the closure, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
31. The method of claim 30, the stand-off structure being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on at least a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, the channels providing a communication passage for the removal of fluid from the storage bag.
32. The method of claim 18, the closure comprising a pair of opposed interengaging profile members, the opposed interengaging profile members capable of repeated engagement and disengagement.
33. The method of claim 28, the storage bag further comprising a caulking composition on a substantial portion of at least one of the interengaging profile members.
34. The storage system of claim 33, the caulking composition further comprising a first reactive material and a second reactive material.
35. A method for producing a storage bag, the method comprising:
receiving at least one polymeric sheet;
sealing the at least one polymeric sheet along a portion of the periphery thereof, thereby defining a storage bag having a storage space, the storage bag comprising a top edge, a food item opening, and at least one periphery edge;
coupling a closure to the top edge of the storage bag;
coupling a vacuum valve to the first sidewall of the storage bag, the vacuum valve comprising a port, the vacuum valve aligned with an aperture in the first sidewall, the vacuum valve configured to accommodate a vacuum pump for removal of fluid from the storage space of the storage bag; and,
providing a gas-impermeable barrier which restricts fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, the gas-impermeable barrier capable of being moved from a first position to a second position, wherein in the first position the gas-impermeable barrier restricts fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, and wherein in the second position the gas-impermeable barrier does not restrict fluid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, thereby allowing fluid to be removed from the storage space of the storage bag via the vacuum valve.
36. The method of claim 35, the gas-impermeable barrier overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
37. The method of claim 35, the aperture formed prior to sealing the at least one polymeric sheet long a portion of its periphery.
38. The method of claim 35, the polymeric sheet further comprising at least one aperture when the polymeric sheet is received.
39. The method of claim 35, the gas-impermeable barrier being a releasable film releasably coupled to at least one of the storage bag and the vacuum valve.
40. The method of claim 37, the releasable film releasably coupled to the vacuum valve, the tab located outside an outer perimeter of the vacuum valve.
41. The method of claim 36, the releasable film located on an internal surface of the storage bag overlaying the aperture.
42. The method of claim 36, the releasable film being located on an external surface of the storage bag overlaying the aperture.
43. The method of claim 42, the releasable film being located between the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
44. The method of claim 35, the gas-impermeable barrier comprising a cap overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
45. The method of claim 35, the gas-impermeable barrier comprising a one-way breathable membrane.
46. The method of claim 35, the gas-impermeable barrier restricting liquid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space of the storage bag.
47. The method of claim 35, the storage bag further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to at least one of the first sidewall and a second sidewall of the storage bag, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
48. The method of claim 49, the stand-off structure being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, the channels providing a communication passage for the removal of fluid from the storage bag.
49. The storage system of claim 35, further comprising:
a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to the closure, the stand-off structure comprising a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
50. The storage system of claim 49, the stand-off being a strip of film, the strip of film comprising a series of channels on a first side thereof, the channels facing the vacuum valve assembly, and the channels providing a communication passage for removal of fluid from the storage bag.
51. The method of claim 35, the closure comprising a pair of opposed interengaging profile members, the opposed interengaging profile members capable of repeated engagement and disengagement.
52. The method of claim 51, the storage bag further comprising a caulking composition on a substantial portion of at least one of the interengaging profile members.
53. The storage system of claim 52, the caulking composition further comprising a first reactive material and a second reactive material.
Descripción
  • [0001]
    This application is a Continuation-in-Part of and claims priority from U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/382,143, filed May 8, 2006, entitled “Polymeric Package with Resealable Closure and Valve, and Methods” which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/729,778, filed on Oct. 24, 2005; U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/736,810, filed on Nov. 14, 2005; and, U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/763,063, filed on Jan. 27, 2006, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • [0002]
    This application includes material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
  • FIELD
  • [0003]
    The instant disclosure relates to the field of evacuable storage devices, and in particular to polymeric packages that include a resealable closure arrangement and a valve, and methods of vacuum storage utilizing the same.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0004]
    Flexible polymeric packages can hold a variety of products, including, without limitation, edible food products such as cheese, meat, crackers, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda; non-food products such as laundry detergent, sand, and medical supplies; and other products. Such packages may be resealable, thereby allowing an individual package to be opened and closed multiple times.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0005]
    The instant disclosure is directed to a polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods related thereto.
  • [0006]
    Features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from this disclosure, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in this written description, including any claims contained herein and the appended drawings.
  • [0007]
    Some embodiments comprise a storage system comprising: at least one polymeric sheet sealed along a portion of its periphery, thereby defining a storage bag having a storage space, wherein the storage bag comprises a bottom edge, a top edge, and at least one side edge; a closure on the top edge of the storage bag; an aperture in a first sidewall of the storage bag between the closure and the bottom edge; a vacuum valve coupled to the first sidewall of the polymeric sheet, wherein the vacuum valve comprises a port, wherein the port is aligned with the aperture in the first sidewall, and wherein the vacuum valve is configured to accommodate a vacuum pump for removal of gas from the storage space of the storage bag; and a gas-impermeable barrier overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve, wherein the gas-impermeable barrier restricts gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space.
  • [0008]
    In some embodiments, the gas-impermeable barrier is a releasable film releasably coupled to at least one of the storage bag and the vacuum valve.
  • [0009]
    In some embodiments, the releasable film comprises a tab, wherein the releasable film is configured for movement from a first position to a second position via the tab, wherein in the first position the gas-impermeable barrier restricts gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, and wherein in the second position the gas-impermeable barrier does not restrict gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space.
  • [0010]
    In some embodiments, the vacuum valve comprises the releasable film, and wherein the tab is located outside an outer perimeter of the vacuum valve.
  • [0011]
    In some embodiments, the releasable film is located on an internal surface of the storage bag, overlaying the aperture.
  • [0012]
    In some embodiments, the releasable film is located on an external surface of the storage bag, overlaying the aperture.
  • [0013]
    In some embodiments, the releasable film is located between the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
  • [0014]
    In some embodiments, the gas-impermeable barrier is a cap overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve.
  • [0015]
    In some embodiments, the gas-impermeable barrier is a one-way breathable membrane.
  • [0016]
    In some embodiments, the gas-impermeable barrier restricts liquid communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space of the storage bag.
  • [0017]
    In some embodiments, the storage system further comprises a stand-off structure positioned within the interior of the storage bag and coupled to at least one of the first sidewall and a second sidewall of the storage bag, wherein the stand-off structure comprises a channel that provides a communication passage for removal of gas from the storage bag.
  • [0018]
    In some embodiments, the stand-off is a strip of film, wherein the strip of film comprises a series of channels on a first side thereof, and wherein channels face the vacuum valve assembly, wherein the channels provide a communication passage for removal of gas from the storage bag.
  • [0019]
    In some embodiments, the closure comprises a pair of opposed interengaging profile members, wherein the opposed interengaging profile members are capable of repeated engagement and disengagement.
  • [0020]
    In some embodiments, the storage system further comprises a grease composition on a substantial portion of at least one of the interengaging profile members.
  • [0021]
    Some embodiments provide a method for storing food items, the method comprising: receiving a storage bag comprising a food item within a storage space of the storage bag, wherein the storage bag comprises: at least one polymeric sheet sealed along a portion of its periphery, thereby defining a storage bag having a storage space, wherein the storage bag comprises a bottom edge, a top edge, and at least one side edge; a closure on the top edge of the storage bag; an aperture in a first sidewall of the storage bag between the closure and the bottom edge; a vacuum valve coupled to the first sidewall of the polymeric sheet, wherein the vacuum valve comprises a port, wherein the port is aligned with the aperture in the first sidewall, and wherein the vacuum valve is configured to accommodate a vacuum pump for removal of gas from the storage space of the storage bag; and, a gas-impermeable barrier overlaying at least one of the aperture of the first sidewall and the port of the vacuum valve, wherein the gas-impermeable barrier restricts gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space; opening the storage bag via the closure; removing at least some of the food item from the storage bag; reclosing the storage bag via the closure; moving the gas-impermeable barrier from a first position to a second position, wherein in the first position the gas-impermeable barrier restricts gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space, and wherein in the second position the gas-impermeable barrier does not restrict gaseous communication between the vacuum valve and the storage space; and removing gas from the storage space of the storage bag via the vacuum valve.
  • [0022]
    In some embodiments, the moving occurs after the receiving the storage bag step, but before the removing gas from the storage bag step.
  • [0023]
    In some embodiments, the moving occurs after the opening the storage bag step.
  • [0024]
    In some embodiments, the moving occurs after the removing at least some of the food items step.
  • [0025]
    In some embodiments, the moving occurs after the reclosing the storage bag step.
  • [0026]
    In some embodiments, removing the gas comprises using a vacuum pump in combination with the vacuum valve.
  • [0027]
    It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the disclosed polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0028]
    The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the disclosed polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate various embodiments and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of at least one embodiment of the disclosed polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods.
  • [0029]
    In the drawings:
  • [0030]
    FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating a front view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure device including a compound suitable for at least incidental contact to food items within the storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 3 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure device including a compound suitable for at least incidental contact to food items within the storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure device including a compound suitable for at least incidental contact to food items within the storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure device including a compound suitable for at least incidental contact to food items within the storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure device including a compound suitable for at least incidental contact to food items within the storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 7 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a resealable closure according to an embodiment.
  • [0037]
    FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device having a clamping member to provide a resealable closure according to an embodiment.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating an exploded perspective view of a valve assembly according to an embodiment.
  • [0039]
    FIGS. 10 a-10 c are diagrams illustrating stand-off structures according to various embodiments.
  • [0040]
    FIGS. 11 a-11 c are diagrams illustrating perspective views of stand-off structures according to various embodiments.
  • [0041]
    FIGS. 12 a-12 b are diagrams illustrating cross-sectional views of stand-off structures according to various embodiments.
  • [0042]
    FIGS. 13 a-13 d are diagrams illustrating perspective views of storage devices according to various embodiments.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 14 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device in a folded arrangement according to an embodiment.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 15 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along section line 15-15 of the storage device of FIG. 14.
  • [0045]
    FIGS. 16 a-b are diagrams illustrating views of a closing clip according to an embodiment.
  • [0046]
    FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating a side view of an end stop according to an embodiment.
  • [0047]
    FIG. 18 is a diagram illustrating a front view of an engagement end comprising a receptacle according to an embodiment.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 19 is a diagram illustrating a side view of the engagement end of FIG. 18.
  • [0049]
    FIG. 20 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a closure system according to an embodiment.
  • [0050]
    FIG. 21 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a polymeric package according to an embodiment.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 22 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 23-23 of the polymeric package of FIG. 21.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 23 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0053]
    FIG. 24 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 25 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 26 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 27-27 of the storage device of FIG. 23.
  • [0056]
    FIG. 27 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0057]
    FIG. 28 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 29-29 of the storage device of FIG. 27.
  • [0058]
    FIG. 29 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a storage device according to an embodiment.
  • [0059]
    FIG. 30 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 31-31 of the storage device of FIG. 29.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 31 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a polymeric package according to an embodiment.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 32 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 33-33 of the polymeric package of FIG. 31.
  • [0062]
    FIG. 33 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a polymeric package according to an embodiment.
  • [0063]
    FIG. 34 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 35-35 of the polymeric package of FIG. 33.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 35 is a diagram illustrating a perspective view of a polymeric package according to an embodiment.
  • [0065]
    FIG. 36 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view taken along line 37-37 of the polymeric package of FIG. 35.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0066]
    In the accompanying drawings, like and/or corresponding elements are referred to by like reference numbers. In some embodiments, a vacuum system is provided comprising a portable vacuum pump and an evacuable package in communication through a vacuum conduit. The evacuable package may optionally include a stand-off structure, one or more secondary closures, and/or a resealable closure having a caulking composition disposed thereon. In some embodiments, the resealable closure comprises interlocking profiles on which the caulking compound is disposed to provide a gas permeation resistant seal. The vacuum conduit facilitates fluid communication between the portable pump and the storage portion of the evacuable bag, wherein the vacuum conduit comprises at least a valve assembly and optionally a stand-off structure. As used herein, the term fluid is intended to comprise liquids, gases, and solids in solution or carried therein. In some embodiments, the stand-off structure allows trapped air to be substantially eliminated from the storage area of the evacuable package. Each of the aspects of the interlocking profiles, the caulking composition, the vacuum valve assembly, the stand-off structure, and the vacuum pump are now discussed in greater detail.
  • [0067]
    Flexible, sealable storage devices, such as consumer storage bags, are commonly used to store items such as, but not limited to, food. These devices typically have a bag body made from a thin, flexible plastic material and include a resealable closure. While inexpensive and easy to use, these devices typically trap a quantity of air with the item being stored within. When storing food within a storage bag, the trapped air can react with the food, causing it to spoil. When storage bags containing food are placed in a below freezing environment, such as a freezer, “freezer burn” may also damage the food items. Freezer burn occurs when moisture is drawn from the food item and forms ice, typically on the food item. Freezer burn is reduced when entrapped air is substantially eliminated from the storage device with concomitant contouring of the bag wall of the storage device around the food item. Consequently, less moisture will be drawn out of the food item. To this end it is known to evacuate a flexible storage device prior to sealing it. However, such systems heretofore did not include a resealable opening in the storage device.
  • [0068]
    Prior systems that evacuate flexible storage bags typically include a large device having a vacuum unit and a heat sealer structured to bond sheets of plastic together. The user typically cuts a length of plastic and uses the heat sealer to form the plastic into a bag with an opening. After an item has been placed in the bag, the vacuum unit removes substantially all of the air from the bag and the bag is permanently sealed via the heat sealer. Due to the requisite electromechanical parts and electric current necessary to operate the heat sealer, the systems in the prior art are typically large and bulky, rendering them essentially non-portable. Furthermore, due to the mechanics involved in users making the requisite bags, the act of forming a bag is time consuming. There is also significant waste generated in forming the bags, and the fact that the bags are entirely heat sealed means that they are not reusable.
  • [0069]
    The instant application is directed to a vacuum storage system comprising a portable vacuum device and a resealable, evacuable, storage device. Resealable closure systems are known in the art and may include, but are not limited to, interlocking profiles used in plastic bags. However, in a typical resealable closure, engagement of the sealing structures is rarely perfect, leaving gaps in the profile seal. Moreover, during manufacture of reclosable devices, seals at the ends of the reclosable device frequently distort the engaging portions of the closure that can also provide an unsealed region in the closure. Consequently when a bag utilizing a resealable closure is subjected to a pressure differential, for example, when it is evacuated or when there is a partial pressure differential of a particular gas between the inside and outside of the bag, gas can leak through the closure. Thus, air may penetrate into a sealed bag, or water vapor may leak from a sealed bag.
  • [0070]
    The instant disclosure is directed to a flexible, resealable storage device, wherein the sealing structure resists fluid permeability under a pressure differential across the sealing device. Moreover, the instant disclosure is directed to a pre-made, inexpensive, flexible, reusable storage device having a valve structured to operate with a portable vacuum pump. In some embodiments, the storage device may comprise a resealable closure that provides for reduction in entrapped air, a flexible bag wall to maintain item conformance, and an air-tight seal providing reduced permeability to oxygen, or other atmospheric gases, bacteria, molds, and/or other sources of contamination. The instant disclosure is further directed to a portable vacuum pump for evacuating the storage device, thereby reducing freezer burn and food spoiling, while being convenient to the user.
  • [0071]
    Referring to FIG. 1, in some embodiments, the flexible, resealable storage device 10 comprises a flexible material 12 shaped as an evacuable package 14 (also referred to as “evacuable bag” and “polymeric package”). The flexible material 12 may comprise a plastic sheet 16, such as, but not limited to, polyolefin. The sheet 16 may be any shape, but in the illustrated embodiment it is rectangular. In some embodiments, the sheet 16 is folded over upon itself and two lateral sides 15 are sealed adjacent to the periphery to provide an opening 18 to storage space 22 via a heat seal. Additional sealing methods may include, but are not limited to, electrical sealing, ultrasonic welding, or the like.
  • [0072]
    In some embodiments, evacuable package 14 may be a multilayer bag comprising an inner sealant layer and a barrier/strength layer. The inner sealant layer may comprise LDPE (low density polyethylene), LLDPE (linear low density polyethylene), or other such food safe, relatively gas impermeable materials. The barrier/strength layer may comprise Nylon, PP (polypropylene), PET (Polyester), or other such materials. As used herein the term “low density” in conjunction with polyethylene denotes a material having a density of no greater than 0.925 g/cm3, as defined by ASTM standard D-15005-03, wherein the density may be adjusted with the addition of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). It will be appreciated that there are numerous interlocking profile geometries known which can be employed in the embodiments disclosed herein.
  • [0073]
    In some embodiments, evacuable bag 14 has an opening 18 to the storage space 22, the bag opening 18 comprising a resealable closure 20. The resealable closure 20 may include a set of interlocking profiles. In some embodiments, the set of interlocking profiles 21 may include resilient, selectively engaging male and female profiles 21 (also referred to herein as male and female heads respectively), e.g., a tongue-and-groove closure, structured to seal the opening 18.
  • [0074]
    With reference to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the selectively engaging profiles of closure 21 (also referred to herein as interengaging profiles) are positioned along two opposing flexible panels (also referred to herein as “flanges”) including a first panel 50 and a second panel 52. As shown in FIG. 2, the two flexible panels 50, 52 may include one or more raised surfaces 68, 69 on the inside surface of the panels disposed outside the resealable closure. The first flange 50 may include a male profile having at least one protrusion 54 that extends laterally across the bag 14. The second flange 52 may include a female groove 60 defined by at least two protrusions (56, 58). Still referring to FIG. 2, in some embodiments there may be multiple protrusions 62, 64, extending from the first and second flanges 50, 52 and forming multiple corresponding male profiles and female grooves. The protrusions are generally formed from a polyolefin material with a density of not less than approximately 0.925 g/cm3, such as, but not limited to, those materials described as High Melt Index polyolefin (HMI). More specifically, the protrusions 54, 56, 58, 62, 64 may comprise HMI Polyethylene materials and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) Copolymers, including those having a vinyl acetate content of from about 4 weight percent to about 12 weight percent. In addition, portions of the interengaging profiles and/or surrounding closure structures may include one or more features comprising low melt index or Ultra Low Density (ULD) Polyolefins. As used herein, the term “Ultra Low Density” denotes a density no greater than approximately 0.925 g/cm3. As will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, the density may be adjusted with the addition of EVA. In some embodiments, at least one protrusion may include a bead 66 of polyolefin material with a density of not more than approximately 0.925 g/cm3.
  • [0075]
    In some embodiments a bead 66 of softer material may be disposed at the tip of at least one protrusion, the bead 66 structured to engage the opposing side 50, 52. The bead 66 of softer material is also hereafter referred to as a bead of sealing material 66.
  • [0076]
    In some embodiments, the bead of sealing material 66 may have a lower density than the protrusions 54, 56, 58, 62, 64. During the engagement of closure 21, the lower density, and hence more compliant, bead of sealing material 66 conforms to the geometry of the higher density and more rigid material comprising the portion of the closure against which the head of the profile abuts upon engagement. The softer material abuts the closure with increased conformance to the abutting surface, advantageously providing a more effective seal against fluid exchange between the interior of the package and the ambient. The seal may reduce or eliminate the intrusion of gas and the external atmosphere into the evacuable bag 14. Regardless of the above-described embodiments, the resealable closure 21 and its associated interlocking structures can comprise resilient materials of varying densities and melt indexes.
  • [0077]
    In some embodiments, the protrusions forming the male profile may also be referred as a profile having a male head. The protrusions defining the female profile (also referred to as a groove) may also be referred to as profile having a fillet positioned to provide a groove. The resealable closure structure 20 may further comprise a closing clip structured to ensure the complete engagement of the closure profiles. The closure clip functions to more positively engage the interengaging profiles as the clip is moved in a first direction, but does not affect the engagement of the profiles when moved in the opposite direction.
  • [0078]
    Regardless of the specific details of construction or interaction of the profiles of resealable closure 21, the interengaging portions of the resealable closure of the disclosed embodiments may further comprise a caulking composition 99. By way of example, without limitation, the caulking composition may be positioned on at least one protrusion 54 on the first flange 50 and/or at least one protrusion 56, 58 on the second flange 52 of the closure 21, wherein the caulking composition 99 assists in creating an airtight seal to the storage space 22. During engagement of the first and second flange protrusions 54, 56, 58, 62, 64 of the male and female profiles, a portion of the caulking composition 99 is displaced into the groove 60 to ensure an air-tight seal of the male and female profile. Caulking composition 99 is positioned to infiltrate the void space defined between the engaged interlocking profiles of closure 21.
  • [0079]
    In some embodiments, the sealing compound may be introduced onto one or more members of the interengaging profiles of resealable closure 20 or onto a surface of the closure proximal to the interengaging profiles, by methods such as deposition or injection, whereby it is distributed during the interlocking process within the inherent gaps left between the interengaging profiles after interlocking. Alternately, prior to sealing the closure, the sealing compound can be placed proximal to known areas in which the sealing profile is prone to exhibit gapping, such as, but not limited to, the ends of the male and female profiles 21 at the bag's periphery. In some embodiments, portions of the male and female profiles at the bag periphery may be engaged by crush seal. The voids caused by the crush seal engagement at the male and female profile may be filled with caulking composition, thereby substantially reducing the incidence of leakage.
  • [0080]
    In some embodiments, the caulking composition 99 may comprise any material that provides a selectively reversible air tight seal between interengaging members of the resealable closure 21, in which the caulking composition 99 is suitable for at least incidental contact to food items. In some embodiments, the caulking composition maintains its chemical structure throughout the operable temperature range of storage device 10, such as, but not limited to, sub-freezing through room temperature. The term “suitable” for at least incidental contact denotes compounds that are eligible for compliance with or equivalent to being in compliance with the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations) standards for being Generally Recognized As Safe (“GRAS”). The term “at least incidental contact” includes at least the unanticipated contact of food items passing through the opening in proximity to the closure strip. In some embodiments the caulking composition may more directly contact the food, so long as the interaction between the food items and the caulking composition is in accordance with the regulations of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  • [0081]
    In some embodiments, suitable caulking compositions may include those compositions consistent with the classification of materials for “lubricants with incidental food contact” according to Title 21 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations §178.3570 (revised as of Apr. 1, 2003), so long as the materials are consistent with the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and have an operable temperature range suitable for food storage and packaging. In some embodiments, the operable temperature range of the storage device is defined as the temperature range that the storage bag is typically subjected to in shipping, packaging and food storage applications, for example, e.g., food storage applications ranging from approximately −10° F. to approximately 160° F. Suitable caulking compositions include, but are not limited to dimethylpolysiloxane; soy-based oils such as those distributed by Cargill Corp.; soy-based adhesives such as Pro-cota™ soy polymers, distributed by Dupont; or the like.
  • [0082]
    In some embodiments, in order to provide an air tight seal, the caulking composition 99 should be selected from those caulking compositions having a work penetration between approximately 290 and 340, in which the work penetration is measured at 60 strokes and 77° F. in accordance with the National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) system for rating greases by penetration and ASTM D217-97 titled “Standard Test Methods for Cone Penetration of Lubricating Grease” (1997). Caulking compositions having a work penetration within this range are classified as a having a NLGI consistency number equal to approximately 2. Although caulking compositions 99 having an NLGI consistency number equal to approximately 2 may be advantageous, because the caulking composition 99 may be applied to the interengaging profiles of closure 21 using conventional injection methods and the caulking composition 99 is generally contained within the closure 21 when exposed to temperatures consistent with food storage container applications, caulking compositions having a lower or higher NLGI consistency number may be utilized.
  • [0083]
    By way of example, without limitation, a caulking composition 99 that meets the above requirements is silicone grease. Silicone grease is an amorphous, fumed silica thickened, polysiloxane-based compound. Silicone grease is formed by combining liquid silicone with an inert silica filler. Inert silica fillers include, but are not limited to fumed silica. Fumed silica has a chain-like particle morphology and when incorporated into liquid silicone forms three dimensional networks that trap the liquid and effectively increases the liquid's viscosity. One non-limiting example of liquid silicone that may be utilized in forming silicone grease having suitable work penetration properties is polydimethylsiloxane having a specific gravity on the order of about 0.973 and a viscosity greater than about 300 centistokes, preferably on the order of about 350 centistokes.
  • [0084]
    Silicone grease may provide desired work penetration values and temperature range to produce an adequately air tight seal between the interengaged profiles of closure 21 by selecting the proper proportions of inert silica filler to liquid silicone. The proportion of inert silica filler to liquid silicone is generally selected to ensure that separation of liquid from solid in the silicone grease is substantially eliminated throughout the operable temperature range of the bag as applied to food container storage, while yielding a silicone grease viscosity that would not inhibit the application of the silicone grease onto the closure 21. In some embodiments, the proportion of inert silica filler to liquid silicone is less than approximately 30% by weight. In some embodiments, the proportion of inert silica filler to liquid silicone is approximately 6% by weight.
  • [0085]
    In some embodiments, caulking composition 99 may comprise Clearco Silicone Grease (food grade) provided by Clearco Products Co., Inc., of Bensalem, Pa. Clearco Silicone Grease (food grade) has a work penetration value of about 290 to about 340, in which the work penetration is measured at 60 strokes and a temperature of 77° F. Clearco™ Silicone Grease (food grade) comprises 94% dimethylpolysiloxane and 6% fumed silica by percentage weight and has a specific gravity of approximately 1.1. Clearco™ Silicone Grease may be utilized at temperatures ranging from approximately −40° F. to approximately 400° F. without chemical decomposition and is therefore well suited for food storage applications. In some embodiments, caulking composition 99 may be positioned along at least one of the male and female profiles of closure 21, whereby incidental contact to food being inserted into the storage space of the storage device typically results in less than 5.0 ppb of caulking composition 99 being incorporated into the food item being stored.
  • [0086]
    In some embodiments, caulking composition 99 may comprise a soy adhesive suitable for incidental food contact and has an operable temperature range suitable for food packaging and storage. One example of a suitable soy adhesive is Pro-cote™ soy polymer, which is available from DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del. In general, soy adhesive is prepared by extracting and refining soy oil from dehulled, flaked soybeans. The extracted material contains isolated soy protein in its native or globular form; and soluble, low molecular weight sugars. The extract is then processed in a controlled pH environment at tightly controlled temperatures to uncoil globular native soy protein into smaller units, and fractionating the material into uniform polymer fractions. The isolated protein molecule fractions are highly reactive and are chemically treated to modify the protein chain to provide desired adhesive properties. Unmodified soy-based oils may also be employed as caulking composition 99, such as, but not limited to the soy products available from Cargill™ Industrial Oils & Lubricants.
  • [0087]
    In some embodiments, caulking composition 99 may comprise reactive materials. Reactive materials may be coated as separate reactants onto separate interengaging portions of the closure that are admixed upon engagement of the interengaging portions of the closure. Accordingly, when the closure parts are engaged the admixed reactants are combined, reacting and forming in-situ a caulking composition that infiltrates any voids present between the engaged interengaging portions of the closure. By way of non-limiting example, such a system can comprise a free-flowing reactive polymer liquid and a liquid cross-linking agent, each coated on separate portions of the closure. When the closure is engaged, the separate portions contact, admixing the polymer and cross-linking agent, providing a viscous, cross-linked polymer caulking compound. Others examples include the provision of a free-flowing liquid and a gelling agent on separate portions of the closure to form a viscous caulking agent upon admixture, and the provision of a two-part adhesive material which react to form a pressure sensitive adhesive upon admixture.
  • [0088]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 3, the resealable closure structure comprises at least two sets of opposed interlocking profiles 150 respectively having interengaging profiles 24, 28 and 23, 26 selectively engaged in sealing the opening 18 to the storage space 22. Each pair of interengaging profiles comprise a geometry having a symmetrical head (32, 36) extending from a stem (30, 34). Each asymmetrical head is preferably offset on the stem to complimentarily fit into the void space defined by stem 34, post 38 and asymmetrical head 36. The term “asymmetrical head” denotes that the centerline of the head portion of the profile is substantially offset from the centerline of the stem portion of the profile to which it is affixed.
  • [0089]
    The void space defined by stem 34, post 38 and asymmetrical head 36 comprises a groove configured to selectively engage the asymmetrical head 32 of the corresponding interengaging profile 23, 24. Stem 34, post 38 and asymmetrical head 36 are spaced to selectively engage corresponding interengaging profiles 23, 24. The spacing between the post 38 and stem 34, and between post 38 and asymmetrical head 36 is sufficiently narrow to bias asymmetrical head 32 toward asymmetrical head 36 when profiles 23, 24, 26, and 28 are engaged. The biased positioning of the asymmetrical head 36 in combination with the spacing of post 38 to correspond to the width of asymmetrical heads 23, 24 defines a grove that reversibly interlocks asymmetrical head 23, 24 into the groove when the profiles are engaged.
  • [0090]
    In some embodiments, the resealable closure further comprises a caulking composition 99 positioned on at least one of the asymmetrical heads, whereas in some alternative embodiments, caulking composition 99 may be positioned between the asymmetrical heads. The caulking composition 99 may be deposited or injected onto the profiles 23, 24, 26, and/or 28, thereby insuring that an air tight seal is obtained when the profiles are interengaged under varying temperature and pressure conditions. The caulking composition 99 may be positioned along the entire length of the opposed interlocking profiles 150 or only a portion of the opposed interlocking profiles 150, such as the end portions of the opposed interlocking profiles 150 at the bag's periphery.
  • [0091]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 4 (in which certain reference numbers have been omitted for clarity), the resealable closure 20 can include a bead of caulking composition 100 in the gap between two parallel sets of opposed interlocking profiles 150. During closure, as each set of opposed interlocking profiles 150 are interengaged, the bead of caulking composition 100 contacts the ends of each set of opposed interlocking profiles 150, filling the void separating the parallel sets of opposed interlocking profiles 150, thereby increasing the integrity of the seal. In some embodiments, the resealable closure structure 20 includes a bead of caulking composition 100 in the gap between two parallel sets of opposed interlocking profiles 150 and additional caulking composition 99 between at least one set of interengaging profiles (23, 26) and (24, 28).
  • [0092]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 5, the resealable closure 20 can further comprise a bead of sealant material 45 in the gap between two parallel sets of opposed interlocking profiles 150. The sealant material 45 may comprise a composition of high EVA and HMI polymers selected to provide a high-conformance region in the closure, as previously described. In some embodiments, a bead of sealant material 53, 55 may be applied to the distal tip of each male profile 23, 24. By way of example, without limitation, suitable sealant materials may comprise compositions of polymers as described above, ultra-low density (ULD) polymers (as defined above) with EVA additives at a 2% or higher loading, or the like. Beads of sealant material 45, 53, 55 increase the integrity of the seal formed when the resealable closure structure 20 is engaged. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 6, a bead of sealing material 45 may also be positioned on both sides of a single set of opposed interlocking profiles 150. In some embodiments, a bead of caulking composition may be employed between parallel sets of opposed interlocking profiles and/or the caulking composition may be employed between at least one set of interengaging profiles (23, 26) and/or (24, 28).
  • [0093]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 7, the resealable closure 20 may be provided by resealable closure strips having independent and substantially symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66. Accordingly, the heads (described below) are not offset relative to the stems. That is, each symmetric element 60, 62, 64, 66 includes a head 70 and a stem 72. The head 70 is disposed generally symmetrically on the stem 72. The symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66 are disposed with two elements of each panel 12, 14 and are spaced and configured so that the gap between adjacent elements defines a void region which has a shape corresponding to the shape of the symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66. Some embodiments may further comprise outer elements 80, 82. The outer elements 80, 82 are offset toward the symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66 and bias the symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66 into each other. The outer elements 80, 82 are sized and shaped to correspond to the outer most two symmetric profiles 60, 66. In some embodiments, a bead of caulking composition may be employed between one or more of the symmetric profiles 60, 62, 64, 66. In some embodiments, the profiles may further comprise a region of sealing material, as described above, for example, by coextrusion of the sealing material with the base material comprising the profile.
  • [0094]
    In some embodiments, multiple sets of opposing interlocking profiles may be employed incorporating independent and substantially symmetric profiles, wherein a bead of caulking composition may be positioned between two sets of opposing interlocking profiles. It is noted that the disclosed embodiments are not limited to profile geometries disclosed above, as any profile geometry capable of providing an air-tight seal in a storage device may be utilized without departing from the spirit and scope of the instant disclosure.
  • [0095]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 8, the resealable closure 20 comprises an opening and a clamping means. The clamping means may comprise a clip 170 that is separate from the evacuable bag 14, in which the clip 170 seals the opening 18 of the bag 14 in clamp seal engagement. In some embodiments the clamping means may further comprise a mandrel 171, wherein the opening 18 of the evacuable bag 14 is rolled around the mandrel 171 and the clip 170 compresses the portion of the evacuable bag 14 rolled about the mandrel in clamp seal engagement.
  • [0096]
    Referring back to FIG. 1, the storage device 10 may further comprise a vacuum conduit having one end in fluid communication with the interior of the storage space 22 and a vacuum valve assembly 30. The vacuum valve assembly 30 is in fluid communication with the storage space 22 and defines a sealable passage through which liquids and/or gases may be evacuated.
  • [0097]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 9, the vacuum valve assembly 30 comprises a base 31 having a flat surface 33 with at least one opening 37 therethrough, a resilient valve element 35, and an alignment device 39. The base 31 is sealingly engaged to the evacuable bag 14. The valve element 35 is generally flat and disposed adjacent to the flat surface 33. The valve element 35 is structured to move between a first position, wherein the opening 37 is open, and a second position, wherein the opening 37 is sealed. The alignment device 39 is coupled to the base 31 and is structured to bias the valve element 35 to the second position, against the flat surface 33. In some embodiments the base 31 has a defined shape, such as, but not limited to a concave disk and the outer surface 41 of the base 31 is a flat torus.
  • [0098]
    In some embodiments, the vacuum valve assembly may be consistent with the valves disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,244,223, entitled “Food Bag Release Valve”, filed Sep. 29, 2005; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/100,301, entitled “Evacuatable Container”, filed Apr. 6, 2005; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/100,014, entitled “Evacuatable Container”, filed Apr. 6, 2005; and, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/758,705, entitled “Food Bag Release Valve”, filed Jun. 6, 2007, all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. In some embodiments, the sealing nature of the valve element 35 may be enhanced by incorporating a sealing material and/or a caulking composition into the sealing members of the valve assembly. In some embodiments, the vacuum valve assembly 30 may further include at least one rib extending from the interior side of the valve assembly base 31, thereby preventing the valve assembly from becoming obstructed during application of vacuum.
  • [0099]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 1, 10 a-10 c, 11 a-11 d, and 15, the storage device 10 may further comprise a stand-off structure 70. The stand-off structure 70 provides a communicating passage for the removal of liquids and gases while preventing the valve assembly from becoming obstructed during application of vacuum. In some embodiments, stand-off structure 70 comprises a strip 71 of film having a pattern of channels 72 embossed, or cut, therein. The channels 72 are designed not to collapse when the bag 14 is placed under a vacuum. By way of example, without limitation, channels 72 may be provided in one or more shapes, such as, but not limited to a honeycomb pattern (FIG. 10 a), a grid or partial grid (FIG. 10 b), a series of parallel grooves (FIG. 10 c), a series of polyhedron structures 100 (FIG. 11 a), a series of curvilinear columns 120 (FIG. 11 b), a series of triangular columns (FIG. 11 c), or the like. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 15, the cavity face 85 of the stand-off structure 70 faces the valve assembly 30 and the protrusion face 86 of the stand-off structure 70 faces the storage space 22.
  • [0100]
    Regardless of the geometry selected for providing the channels, the stand-off structure 70 produces a passage for the removal of liquids and gases by providing a cross-section with a series of raised surfaces and recessed surfaces. In some embodiments, the standoff structure is integral with a fluid conduit providing fluid communication between the interior of the storage device and a vacuum system by which the storage device is evacuated, and which comprises a vacuum valve, the standoff structure, optionally a quick-connect device, optionally a liquid/vapor separator and the suction side of a vacuum pump. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 12 a, channels 72 are provided in the area defined between the raised surfaces 74 and recessed surfaces 75 of the stand-off structure's 70 cross-section. The stand-off structure 70 may comprise a series of channels 72 on one side of the standoff structure 70, as depicted in FIG. 12 a, or on both sides of the stand-off structure 70, as depicted in FIG. 12 b. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 1I c, the cavity face 85 of the stand-off structure 70 comprises channels 72 and the protrusion side 86 comprises a series of communicating passages produced by a plurality of polyhedron structures 100.
  • [0101]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 13 a-13 d, 14 and 15, the stand-off structure 70 may be bonded to the inner side of the bag 14, on the same side of the evacuable bag 14 as the valve assembly 30. Stand-off structure 70 may be bonded to the inner side of bag 14 through various conventional bonding methods such as, but not limited to, thermal bonding, electrical welding, ultrasonic welding, or the like. In some embodiments, the stand-off structure 70 is positioned at a location corresponding to the location of the vacuum valve assembly 30. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 13 d, multiple valve assemblies 30 and multiple stand-off structures 70 may be utilized in a single storage device 10.
  • [0102]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 13 a, the coupling of the stand-off structure 70 may be accomplished prior to folding over the plastic sheet 16, wherein the entire side periphery 73 of the stand-off structure is bound to the plastic sheet 16. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 13 b, the coupling of the stand-off structure 70 to the storage device 10 may be accomplished by bonding only selected portions of the stand-offs side periphery 73 to the plastic sheet 16. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 13 c, the stand-off structure 70 may be coupled to extend across both sides of the bag 14. By way of example, without limitation, the stand-off structure 70 may be positioned to extend diagonally across the plastic sheet as depicted in FIG. 13 d. It is noted that examples depicted in FIGS. 13 a-13 d have been provided for illustrative purposes and that other configurations in the positioning of the stand-off 70 are within the scope of the present disclosure, so long as the stand-off 70 is positioned to be in fluid communication with the vacuum valve assembly 30 in a manner that facilitates the removal of fluids from the storage device 10.
  • [0103]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 14, the stand-off structure 70 is bonded to the plastic sheet 16 after the plastic sheet 16 is folded over upon itself and two lateral sides 15 are sealed adjacent to the periphery forming the storage space 22. The stand-off structure 70 is bonded to the face of the plastic sheet 16 within the storage space 22, wherein the channels 72 of the stand-off structure 70 face the surface of the plastic sheet 16 to which the stand-off structure 70 is bonded. In some embodiments, the stand off structure 70 may comprise channels 72 on both sides of the stand off structure 70 (FIG. 12 b), in which the channels on a first side of the stand-off structure 70 face the surface of the plastic sheet 16 to which the stand-off structure 70 is bonded and the channels 72 on the second side of the stand off structure 70 face the opposing plastic sheet.
  • [0104]
    FIG. 15 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of the storage device 10 depicted in FIG. 14 along reference line 15-15, in which the channels 72 of the stand-off structure 70 face away from the storage space 22, toward the vacuum valve assembly 30 as well as the surface of the plastic sheet 16 to which the stand-off structure 70 is bonded. In some embodiments the portion of the stand-off structure 70 opposing the valve assembly 30 may be separated from valve assembly 30 by a distance D1 ranging from approximately 0.003″ to about 0.25″ prior to the application of vacuum.
  • [0105]
    In some embodiments, a vacuum pump can be attached or applied to the vacuum valve, the vacuum pump applying a vacuum to the interior of the storage device through the vacuum valve assembly 30 and standoff assembly causing the storage space 22 to collapse upon a food article contained therein. During the application of the vacuum, the stand-off structure 70 separates the food article from the vacuum valve assembly 30, ensuring that the food article does not obstruct the flow of fluids to be removed from the storage space 22, and insuring that the walls of the storage device conform tightly to the food article. As the vacuum causes the portion of the plastic sheet 16 opposing the stand-off structure 70 to collapse upon the raised portions of the stand-off structure 70, any remaining fluid may be removed via the stand-off structure's 70 recessed channels. During the application of the vacuum, the distance D1 separating the valve assembly 30 from the opposing raised surfaces of the stand-off structure 70 may be substantially eliminated while maintaining an effective passageway for removing the remaining fluids from the storage device through the stand-off structure's 70 recessed channels.
  • [0106]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 1, 16 a and 16 b, the resealable closure 20 may further comprise a closing clip 80 and end clips 82. The closing clip 80 comprises a rigid U-shaped member 84 structured to fit snugly over at least the first and second side protrusions 54, 56, 58. The U-shaped member 84 structured to bias the male protrusion 54 into the groove 60 formed by the other protrusions 56, 58 as the U-shaped member 84 is moved over the protrusions 54, 56, 58. In the embodiments, the U-shaped member 84 may be structured to also fit snugly over multiple protrusions 62, 64, wherein the U-shaped member also biases at least one additional male protrusion 62 into at least one additional groove formed by the other protrusions 64. The closure clip 80 functions to ensure that the interlocking profiles 21 are engaged as the clip 80 is disposed along a first direction, but does not affect the engagement of the interlocking profiles 21 when disposed along the direction opposite to that of the first direction. In some embodiments, the closure clip 80 may separate the interlocking profiles when being traversed over engaged interlocking profiles 21. End clips 82 are bonded to the ends of the resealable closure 20 to prevent closing clip 80 from traversing past the side protrusions of the bag 14. FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of an exemplary end clip 82.
  • [0107]
    In some embodiments, a vacuum generating device such as, but not limited to a hand-held vacuum pump, a portable vacuum pump or the like may be utilized to evacuate a reclosable storage device. FIG. 20 is a diagram illustrating an exemplary portable vacuum pump 40, pump 40 comprising a power source, such as a battery, a vacuum pump having a suction side and an exhaust side, and a motor. In some embodiments, the vacuum pump 40 may be connected to the fluid conduit connected to the interior of the storage device by a quick-connect means, wherein one portion of the quick-connect means is integral with the vacuum pump assembly and another portion of the quick-connect means is integral with the flexible storage device.
  • [0108]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 1, engagement end 42 has a defined shape, such as, but not limited to, a convex disk, a concave disk, a disk, or the like, shaped to fit within the medial opening of the outer surface of a vacuum valve assembly's defining one end of a fluid conduit associated with a storage device. The engagement end 42 has a defined shape structured to engage the vacuum valve assembly 30 and defines a passage that is in fluid communication with the vacuum pump 40. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 18 and 19, portable vacuum pump 40 may comprise a quick-connect means, the quick-connect means comprising a suction cup tip 160, in which the suction cup tip 160 incorporates integrated stand off structures 161 to maintain suction during application of the vacuum.
  • [0109]
    Other quick-connect means, for example, vacuum tips (engagement end 42) have been contemplated and are within the scope of the present disclosure, so long as the engagement end 42 geometry provides a quick connect engagement with the vacuum valve assembly. A “quick connection engagement” requires sealing of the valve assembly 30 and engagement end 42 without separate fasteners or the removal of separable sealing members. It will be appreciated that the system may also utilize more conventional coupling means to join the vacuum system to the fluid conduit to provide fluid communication between the suction side of the vacuum pump and the interior of the storage device.
  • [0110]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 18 and 19, engagement end 42 may further comprise a receptacle 1826, the receptacle 1826 being in fluid communication with a tip 1830. In some embodiments, tip 1830 may be connected to receptacle 1826 by way of a flexible conduit 1824. The flexibility of conduit 1824 can help tip 1830 maintain proper orientation while operating portable vacuum pump 40. In some embodiments, conduit 1824 may allow portable vacuum pump 40 to be moved through approximately one-hundred-eighty degrees relative to tip 1830 without unseating tip 1830.
  • [0111]
    In some embodiments, tip 1830 may comprise a plurality of ribs or other structural supports 1832. Such supports can enable tip 1830 to maintain a desired shape, even as a vacuum is drawn. Supports 1832 can also reduce the likelihood that portions of the reclosable storage device will obstruct tip 1830.
  • [0112]
    In some embodiments, tip 1830 may further comprise O-ring 1834 or other, similar semi-rigid materials. the semi-rigid material can extend slightly from tip 1830, and thus provide a deformable interface between vacuum valve assembly 30 and tip 1830, thereby increasing the integrity of the seal between the two.
  • [0113]
    In some embodiments, O-ring 1834 may comprise a black nitrile (Buna-N) elastomer with a nominal 70 durometer hardness, silicon, neoprene, or other flexible material, and may be adhesively bonded to tip 1830, or press-fit into a channel proximate the end of tip 1830. In some embodiments, O-ring 1834 may be replaced by laminating or otherwise coating at least the end of tip 1830 with a semi-rigid material, such as, without limitation, silicone. In some embodiments, the semi-rigid material may be FDA approved as food safe. In some embodiments, the semi-rigid material may be slightly tacky or have a light adhesive applied thereto, thereby helping tip 1830 remain properly positioned proximate vacuum valve assembly 30 while operating portable vacuum pump 40.
  • [0114]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 21 and 22, package 210 may comprise a first side panel 212 and an opposite side panel 214 that are connected by side edges 215 (also referred to hereinafter as bottom edge 215), 216, and 218. Side panels 212, 214 and side edges 215, 216, 218 define a surrounding wall 213 enclosing interior 220. In some embodiments, interior 220 is configured for receiving a food item or other items for storage within package 210.
  • [0115]
    In some embodiments, the top end of package 210 may further comprise a resealable zipper 250. Zipper 250, disposed across the opening of package 210 allows access to interior 220. Zipper 250 comprises a first profile member 252 and a second profile member 254, wherein the first and second profile members 252, 254 are configured to engage and disengage each other, thereby providing a resealable closure. First profile member 252 is connected to first side panel 212 and second profile member 254 is connected to second side panel 214. In some embodiments, profile members 252, 254 are integrally formed with their respective side panel 212, 214, while in other embodiments they are thereto using conventional means such as, but not limited to heat seal, adhesive, or the like.
  • [0116]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 21, package 210 may further comprise a valve 230, positioned in side panel 212 to allow escape of air from interior 220 to the exterior of package 210. In some embodiments, package 210 may further comprise a sealant stripe 270 present on the interior of at least one of side panels 212, 214. Sealant stripe 270 may be provided as a peal seal, which can be sealed, readily opened, and resealed. In some embodiments the peal seal may be provided by those in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,290,393; 6,210,038, and 6,131,248, each of which is incorporated herein by reference. Sealant stripes and resealable zippers may be generally referred to as “closures” for closing portions of a package or storage device.
  • [0117]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 31 and 32, package 210 may further comprise a gas-impermeable barrier 275 present on the interior of at least one of side panels 212, 214. Suitable gas-impermeable barrier 275 include, but are not limited to peal seals, one-way breathable membranes, or the like.
  • [0118]
    In some embodiments, gas-impermeable barrier 275 can be located on the side panel 214 opposite valve 230 and have a shape similar to valve 230. By way of example, without limitation, when valve 230 is circular, gas-impermeable barrier 275 could also be circular and have a larger diameter than valve 230, thereby restricting gaseous communication between the exterior of package 210 and interior 220.
  • [0119]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 33 and 34, gas-impermeable barrier 275 can be provided on the exterior surface of package 210, the gas-impermeable barrier 275 further comprising a tab 276. Tab 276 is used to move gas-impermeable barrier 275 from a first position to a second position, wherein the gas-impermeable barrier 275 restricts gaseous communication between valve 230 and interior 220 in the first position, and wherein the gas-impermeable barrier 275 allows gaseous communication between valve 230 and interior 220 in the second position. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 35 and 36, gas-impermeable barrier 275 and tab 276 can be provided on the interior surface of package 210. In some embodiments, gas-impermeable barrier 275 can be provided in the form of a cap overlaying valve 230.
  • [0120]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated in FIGS. 21 and 22, package 210 can be used as a freezer bag. Package 210 comprises a textured standoff area 280, which can be integral with each of side panels 212, 214. In some embodiments, textured standoff area 280 can be attached to interior of one or both surface of panels 212, 214. Textured standoff area 280 can be employed in freezer bags, where it is desired to maintain a slight air gap or spacing between any items positioned within package 210 and side panels 212, 214.
  • [0121]
    In some embodiments, package 210 may further comprise a zipper 250, zipper 250 having first profile 252 and second profile 254, which engage and disengage each other to provide access to interior 20 of package 210. Profiles 252, 254 are constructed to be repeatedly sealed (e.g., closed, engaged, mated, etc.) and unsealed (e.g., opened, disengaged, unmated, etc.), for example, by pressure exerted by the user's fingers. In some embodiments, profiles 252, 254 are configured to provide an indication, for example by color change, when they are seal. In some embodiments, zipper 250 may be open and closed by a slider element.
  • [0122]
    In some embodiments, package 210 comprises a textured standoff area 280, which can be integral with each of side panels 212, 214. In some embodiments, textured standoff area 280 can be attached to interior of one or both surface of panels 212, 214. Textured standoff area 280 can be employed in freezer bags, where it is desired to maintain a slight air gap or spacing between any items positioned within package 210 and side panels 212, 214. By way of example, without limitation, textured standoff area 280 may extend to any side edges 216, 218 or may stop short of edges 216, 218. Similarly, textured standoff area 280 may extend to bottom edge 215 or may stop short of bottom edge 215. In some embodiments, textured standoff area 280 is not present proximate sealant strip 270.
  • [0123]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 21 and 22, package 210 comprises a valve 230, which is positioned between zipper 250 and sealant stripe 270. An alternate embodiment of a package according to the present disclosure is illustrated in FIGS. 23-26, as package 210′. Package 210′ is similar to package 210 in that it includes first panel 212, second panel 214, bottom end 215, side edges 216, 218, valve 230, sealant stripe 270 and textured standoff region 280. Package 210′ differs from package 210, however, in that sealant stripe 270 is positioned between zipper 250 and valve 230. That is, valve 230 is positioned closer to interior 220 then to zipper 250. Valve 230 allows fluid, usually air, to pass from interior 220 of package 210, 210′ to the exterior, and inhibits air (or other fluid) from entering into interior 220.
  • [0124]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIG. 26, zipper 250 may comprise zipper profiles 252, 254 having posts 251, 253, lock members 255, 256, and zipper flanges or tabs 258, 259. Many other zipper configurations are possible for use with the packages 210, 210′.
  • [0125]
    In some embodiments, the package may omit the zipper, utilizing a sealant strip for closing the package. In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 29 and 30, package 510 may comprise a sealant stripe 270 positioned at an end of the package opposite the bottom end 215. Package 510 further comprises a valve 230 in communication with an interior 220 of the package, and a standoff area 280 on opposing side panels 212, 214 of the package.
  • [0126]
    FIGS. 24 and 25 illustrate package 210′ in use, retaining an item 290 therein. Item 290 is illustrated as a food item, particularly, a chicken leg. To place item 290 in package 210′ (or in package 210), the general following procedure is followed. Zipper 250 is opened, if necessary, by unmating, unsealing, etc. first and second profiles 252, 254. Side panels 212, 214 are spread sufficiently far to place item 290 therebetween. Sometimes, it may be necessary to unseal sealant strip 270 to pass item 290 past stripe 270 toward bottom edge 215. Item 290 should be positioned between bottom edge 215 and sealant strip 270. In some embodiments, item 290 may be positioned in the area of textured standoff area 280, however, this is not necessary.
  • [0127]
    After positioning item 290 in package 210′, it is optional to push or otherwise urge air present in package 210′ out via zipper 250. Sealant stripe 270 is sealed, providing an air-tight seal across package 210′. Zipper 250 is also sealed, providing a seal across package 210′. It is understood that sealant stripe 270 may be sealed before or after zipper 250 is closed. When pressure is applied to package 210′ in an area between bottom edge 215 and sealant stripe 270, or vacuum is applied to valve 230, at least some of the air remaining in package 210′ is pushed through valve 230 and out from interior 220 of package 210′.
  • [0128]
    Due to the construction of package 210 of FIGS. 21 and 22, the order of steps for sealing an item 290 in package 210 may differ. For example, after positioning item 290 in package 210, it is optional to push or otherwise urge air present in package 210 out via zipper 250. Zipper 250 is then sealed, providing a seal across package 210. When pressure is applied to package 210 in an area between bottom edge 215 and zipper 250, at least some of the air remaining in package 210 is pushed through valve 30 and out from interior 220 of package 210. Sealant stripe 270 is sealed, providing an air-tight seal across package 210. Preferably, sealant stripe 270 is sealed after zipper 250 is closed and after the air has been evacuated from interior 220 of package 210.
  • [0129]
    Packages 210, 210′ may be made by generally any suitable process. For example, packages 210, 210′ may be made by a horizontal process (e.g., where the film forming side panels 212, 214 moves in a generally horizontal direction) or a vertical process (e.g., where the film forming side panels 212, 214 moves in a generally vertical direction). As mentioned above, any or all of edges 215, 216, 218 may be folds or seals between side panels 212, 214. Profile members 252, 254 may be attached to side panels 212, 214 before or after bottom edge 215 is formed. Similarly, a slider device (if present) may be applied to profile members 252, 254 before or after incorporation with side panels 212, 214. Packages 210, 210′ may include side gussets or gussets in panels 212, 214 to provide increased interiors 220. Various other configurations and methods of making packages 210, 210′ are suitable.
  • [0130]
    In some embodiments, as illustrated by FIGS. 27 and 28, package 310 has a first side panel 312 and an opposite side panel 314 that are connected by side edges 315, 316, 318. For clarity herein, side edge 315 can be referred to as a bottom edge 315. Side panels 312, 314 and side edges 315, 316, 318, top edge 335 and bottom edge 315, define a surrounding wall 313 with a storage interior 320 therebetween. Seal 370 also defines a portion of storage interior 320; seal 370 is described below. Various other configurations of surrounding walls 313 are known and are useable in accordance with the principles of this disclosure. Storage interior 320 is configured for receiving a foodstuff item 390 or other item(s) for storage within package 310. Food item 390, as depicted in FIGS. 27 and 28, is a collection of small food items, such as, but not limited to, shredded cheese, meats, fruits, vegetables, or the like.
  • [0131]
    Present within the interior formed by surrounding wall 330 is a resealable zipper closure 350. Zipper closure 350 extends from side edge 316 to side edge 318, and includes a first zipper profile 354 having a first profile member and a second zipper profile 352 having a second profile member; wherein the first and second zipper profiles 354, 352 are configured to engage and disengage with each other. In other words, first and second zipper profiles 354, 352 are selectively sealable and resealable.
  • [0132]
    In some embodiments, first zipper profile 354 is connected to first side panel 312, and second zipper profile 352 is connected to second side panel 314. Zipper profiles 354, 352 could be integral with their respective side panel 312, 314 or could be attached thereto, for example, by a heat seal or adhesive. Zippers 350, zipper profiles 354, 352 and profile members are well-known in the art, and a variety of configurations are useable in accordance with the principles of this disclosure. For example, see U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,524,002; 6,152,600; 5,839,831, and 5,252,281, each of which has been incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. In some embodiments, as illustrated in FIGS. 27 and 28, zipper closure 350, may include a crush area 410 at each side edge 316, 318, where zipper profiles 354, 352 are sealed together and may be partially crushed or deformed.
  • [0133]
    At top edge 335, package 310 includes header 336, which extends between top edge 35 and zipper closure 350 and forms a portion of surrounding wall 330. In this particular embodiment, header 336 is detachable from package 310 via weakness 360. Weakness 360 may be a perforation, a tear-strip, string or thread, a laser scribe, a die line, a thinner area, or other configuration that allows header 336 to be removed from side panels 312, 314. Header 336 is an element that provides a quick indication whether or not access has been gained to zipper closure 350 has been previously accessed. That is, access is not readily gained to the interior of surrounding wall 330, which has zipper closure 350 therein, without breaching header 336 or side panels 312, 314.
  • [0134]
    As mentioned above, package 310 includes seal 370, which is positioned between bottom edge 315 and top edge 335, and partially defines storage interior 320 of surrounding wall 313 and the interior of surrounding wall 330. Seal 370 is present on the interior of at least one of side panels 312, 314 and allows panels 312, 314 to be sealed together, preferably with a fluid-impermeable or hermetic seal. Seal 370 may be a repeatably reclosable seal or a one-time seal, such as an adhesive seal or a mechanical seal. Additional details regarding seal 370 are provided below.
  • [0135]
    Package 310 includes a valve 330, positioned in one of side panels 312, 314 to allow escape of air, gas or other fluid from storage interior 320 to the exterior of package 310; in FIG. 28, valve 330 is illustrated in side panel 312. Valve 330 is preferably a one-way evacuation valve, allowing fluid to flow therethrough in only one direction; preferably, that direction is from storage interior 320 of package 310 to the exterior of package 310. Valve 330 can be any suitable valve, such as those described above for valve 230. Valve 330 may be a manually activated valve or may be configured for use with an external device, such as the vacuum pump described above with reference to resealable storage device 10.
  • [0136]
    In some embodiments, a textured standoff material 380 may be located proximate to valve 330. Standoff material 380 can extend from zipper closure 350, typically from one of zipper profiles 354, 352. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 28, standoff material 380 extends from an end of zipper profile 354, forming a skirt-like construction 355. It is also foreseen that standoff material 380 may be positioned on, or integral with, a side of zipper profiles 354, 352, (for example, positioned in an area close to where the zipper profile members are), rather than extending away from an end of the profile. Textured standoff material 380 may be provided by those embodiments previously described or other suitable materials that allow fluids to be evacuated from within package 310. Textured standoff material 380 is desirable in package constructions to maintain a slight air gap or spacing between zipper members 354, 352 and valve 330, to inhibit valve 330 being blocked by zipper profiles 354, 352 or by side panel 314, so that fluids can pass through valve 330 and more completely evacuate container 310 of such fluids.
  • [0137]
    Returning to package 310, in detail, various specific details of package 310 will now be described. It is understood however, that the following descriptions are not limiting to features of package 310; alternate materials, elements, configurations, constructions, and the like, such as the configuration package 210, could be used.
  • [0138]
    Package 310 has side panels 312 and 314, which form the overall package 310. Side panels 312, 314 are flexible sheets, typically polymeric film. Examples of suitable films for forming side panels 312, 314 have been previously described in the instant disclosure and incorporated references. As provided above, side panels 312, 314 meet at bottom edge 315, side edges 316, 318 and top edge 335. Any or all of edges 315, 316, 318, 335 may be seals or may be folds.
  • [0139]
    As provided above, zipper closure 350 has first zipper profile 354 and second zipper profile 352, which engage and disengage from each other to provide access to storage interior 320 of package 310. Profiles 354, 352 are constructed to be repeatedly sealed (e.g., closed, engaged, mated, etc.) and unsealed (e.g., opened, disengaged, unmated, etc.), for example, by pressure exerted by the user's fingers. In some embodiments, zipper profiles 354, 352 are configured to provide an indication, for example by color change, when they are sealed. Although not illustrated in FIG. 27 or 28, zipper closure 350 may be opened and closed by a slider element, as is well known.
  • [0140]
    As provided above, seal 370 is present on the interior of at least one of panels 312, 314. Seal 370 allows panels 312, 314 to be sealed together, preferably with a fluid-impermeable or heretic seal. Seal 370 may be provided by any of the examples described above. In some embodiments, seal 370 extends from side edge 316 to side edge 318, and may be any suitable width (taken in the direction from bottom edge 315 to zipper closure 350). Seal 370 can be a material, e.g., adhesive, applied to a surface of panel(s) 312, 314 or seal 370 may be integral with or formed by panel(s) 312, 314. FIGS. 27 and 28 illustrate unopened package 310 retaining food item 390 therein. Package 310, as illustrated, is unopened, because header 335 remains intact.
  • [0141]
    Package 310, with food item 390 therein, may be produced by processes often referred to as “form fill and seal”. In these processes, the package, particularly storage interior 320, is manufactured (i.e., formed), the item is placed within storage interior 320 (i.e., filled), and then any last seals, such as bottom edge 315, are made (i.e., sealed). “Form fill and seal” will be referred to as “FFS” hereinafter. Package 310 may be made by a horizontal FFS process (e.g., where the film forming side panels 312, 314 and zipper closure 350 move in a generally horizontal direction) or a vertical FFS process (e.g., where the film forming side panels 312, 314 and zipper closure 350 move in a generally vertical direction). Typically, with horizontal FFS processes, the unfilled package 310 progresses through the process up-side-down. That is, bottom edge 315 is positioned above top edge 335. With vertical FFS process, the unfilled package progresses either up-side-down or sideways.
  • [0142]
    In some embodiments of a horizontal FFS process, two extended lengths of the film, each forming a side panel 312, 314, move in a generally horizontal direction. An extended length of zipper closure 350 may be attached to side panels 312, 314, before, after, or concurrently with the film being sealed together to form top edge 335. Standoff material 380 can be attached to zipper closure 350 prior to zipper closure 350 being attached to side panels 312, 314. Valve 330 will typically be installed into one of the extended lengths of film at predetermined intervals, to correspond to one valve 330 per package 310. Seal 370 can be formed between side panels 312, 314 before, after, or concurrently with edge 335 being formed or with zipper closure 350 being attached. Weakness 360 may be formed close to edge 335 either after edge 335 has been sealed or before.
  • [0143]
    After the various elements have been joined to form an extended length, seals, which will result in side edges 316, 318, are made. Crush areas 410 are usually made simultaneously with these side edge seals, but could be made in a separate step. After storage interior 320 has been made (i.e., between side panels 312, 314 having side edges 316, 318, seal 370), food item 390 is placed, for example, dropped, into storage interior 320, and then bottom edge 315, which is positioned above the rest of package 310, is sealed.
  • [0144]
    In an alternate embodiment of an horizontal FFS process, one extended length of film moves in a generally horizontal direction. This film is folded to form both panels 312, 314 with folded edge 335 therebetween. Any order of applying zipper closure 350, standoff material 380, valve 330, seal 370 and weakness 360 can be used. After the various elements have been joined to form an extended length, side edges 316, 318 and crush areas 410 are made. Food item 390 is placed into storage interior 320, and then bottom edge 315 is sealed.
  • [0145]
    In some embodiments of a vertical FFS process, two extended lengths of film, each forming a side panel 312, 314, move generally vertically downward direction. Similar to above, an extended length of zipper closure 350 may be attached to side panels 312, 314, before, after, or concurrently with the film being sealed together to form top edge 335. Standoff material 380 can be attached to zipper closure 350 prior to zipper closure 350 being attached to side panels 312, 314. Valves 330 will typically be installed into one of the extended lengths of film at predetermined intervals, to correspond to one valve 330 per package 310. Seal 370 can be formed between side panels 312, 314 before, after, or concurrently with edge 335 being formed or with zipper closure 350 being attached. Weakness 360 may be formed close to edge 335 either after edge 335 has been sealed or before. Bottom seal 315 can also be formed at any stage in this process.
  • [0146]
    After the various elements have been joined to form an extended length, a seal, which results in, for example, side edge 318 and a crush area 410, is made. After this step, storage interior 320 has been made between side panels 312, 314, edge 315, seal 370 and side edge 318; see FIG. 28, which is representative of a top view of the package during such as vertical FFS process. Food item 390 is placed, for example, dropped, into storage interior 320, and then side edge 316, which is positioned above the rest of package 310, is sealed. Such a FFS process moves in a generally downward vertical direction.
  • [0147]
    In an alternate embodiment of a vertical FFS process, one extended length of film moves in a generally horizontal direction. This film is folded to form both panels 312, 314 with folded edge 335 or edge 315 therebetween. Any order of applying zipper closure 350, standoff material 380, valve 330, seal 370 and weakness 360 can be used. Similar to the first embodiment, after the various elements have been joined to form an extended length, side edge 318 and crush areas 410 are made. Food item 390 is placed into storage interior 320, and then side edge 316 is sealed. Alternately, a tube of film could be used, thus resulting in two folded edges 315 and 335.
  • [0148]
    Prior to use, the consumer removes header 336 via weakness 360. To gain access to storage interior 320, zipper profiles 354, 352 are separated and seal 370 is breached, which allows access to item 390.
  • [0149]
    To close package 310, fluid can be removed from interior 320, for example by flattening package 310 prior to mating zipper profiles 354, 352. After zipper closure 350 is closed, additional fluid can be removed from interior 320 via valve 330. The fluid may be manually forced through valve 330, for example, by hand pressure or other squeezing applied to the region between edge 315 and zipper closure 350, or an external device, such as a vacuum pump may be utilized. After removal of the desired fluid, seal 370 may be resealed, if so configured. Removal of fluid from interior 320 decreases the opportunity for spoilage of, and extends the life of, food item 390 and extends its life. When seal 370 is resealed, it provides an air-tight seal across package 310. Zipper closure 350 is also sealed, providing a seal across package 310.
  • [0150]
    As previously discussed above, any or all of edges 315, 316, 318, 335 may be folds or seals between side panels 312, 314. A slider device (if present) may be applied to zipper profiles 354, 352 before or after incorporation with side panels 312, 314. Package 310 may include side gussets or gussets in panels 312, 314 to provide increased volume for interior 320. Various other configurations and methods of making package 310 are suitable.
  • [0151]
    While detailed and specific embodiments of the polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods have been described herein, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the polymeric package with resealable closure and valve, and methods. Thus, it is intended that the present disclosure cover these modifications and variations provided they come within the scope of any appended claims and/or their equivalents.
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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.53/405, 383/100, 383/64, 222/96
Clasificación internacionalB65D33/16, B65D81/20, B65D33/01, B65B31/04
Clasificación cooperativaB65D33/2533, B65D81/2038, B65D33/2591, B65D33/2541, B65D33/2508
Clasificación europeaB65D33/25A, B65D81/20B3, B65D33/25A1C, B65D33/25C, B65D33/25A3
Eventos legales
FechaCódigoEventoDescripción
11 Jul 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: REYNOLDS FOIL INC. D/B/A REYNOLDS CONSUMER PRODUCT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CUSTER, RICHARD;MELCHOIR, GREG W.;TILMAN, PAUL;REEL/FRAME:021227/0761;SIGNING DATES FROM 20080708 TO 20080710
26 Nov 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, NEW YORK
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:CLOSURE SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL INC.;REYNOLDS CONSUMER PRODUCTS INC.;REYNOLDS FOIL INC.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:023574/0312
Effective date: 20091105
Owner name: THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON,NEW YORK
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:CLOSURE SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL INC.;REYNOLDS CONSUMER PRODUCTS INC.;REYNOLDS FOIL INC.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:023574/0312
Effective date: 20091105