US 3674026 A
A tampon insertion device which comprises the combination of a tapered or round-nosed tampon having a detachable inserter rod seated in its base, and an outer protective tube having a tapered insertion-aiding forward end. The trailing end of the protective tube is closed off by a snap-in, pressure fit, or adhesively attached cap which functions as a closure, guide, and lock for the insertion rod.
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United States Patent Werner et a1.
[ July 4, 1972  TAMPON INSERTION DEVICE  Inventors: Edward E. Werner; Edward G. Wollank,
211 App1.No.: 101,913
2,386,590 10/1945 Calhoun 1 28/263 X 3,034,508 5/1962 Nalle ..l28/263 3,347,234 /1967 Voss 1 28/260 Primary Examiner-L. W. Trapp Attorney-Daniel J. Hanlon, Jr., William D. Herrick and Raymond J. Miller  ABSTRACT A tampon insertion device which comprises the combination  of a tapered or round-nosed tampon having a detachable ing /03 serter rod seated in its base, and an outer protective tube hav- 1 o are 7 26 ing a tapered insertion-aiding forward end. The trailing end of the protective tube is closed off by a snap-in, pressure fit, or  References cued adhesively attached cap which functions as a closure, guide,
' UNITED STATES PATENTS and lock for the insertion rod.
940,519 1 1/1909 Eastman 128/263 X Claims, 21 Drawing Figures l7 3| 2? I70 I70 |7b 7 29 lo 3lo 28 28 32 30 33a 33b 33b A 32. 3O 4A 320 320 5AH 32b 32b P'A'TENTEDJUL 4 I972 3.674, 026 SHEET 2 [IF 2 1 TAMPON INSERTION DEVICE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION A catamenial tampon product presently on. the market comprises an absorbent pledget compressed to a self-sustaining base into which an inserter rod is detachably seated. A more detailed description may be found in US. Pat. No. 3,068,867 to Bletzinger et aL'dated Dec. 18, 1962.,
This tampon-inserter rod combination is normally enclosed in a protective wrapper comprising a closed-end sleeve of light-weight paper, which wrapper must be removed to uncover the tampon before insertion. Since this arrangement requires that the absorbent surface of the tampon be uncovered before insertion, it follows that at least the leading edge of this absorbent surface must contact the body-orifice walls as it is being inserted. While .the removablewrapper preserves the hygienic aspects of the tampon up until the time it is ready for use, and while there are no real objections to the above-described body contact, it would appear more desirable if a way could be devised to provide the absorbent tampon element with some type of cover which would protect the tampon from inadvertent contamination while being prepared for insertion and which would remain in place until after insertion is essentially completed. Tampon insertion devices comprised of a pair of telescoping tubes already serve this purpose, of course, since the tampon-containing tube element is inserted by the user before the tampon is ejected. However, tampons which employ an inserter rod or stick offer better placement control and are therefore preferred by many users. Ac-
cordingly, it is the object of this invention to provide an insertion device which employs a protective tube cover for inserter rod or stick type tampons while maintaining the other well known advantages of this latter style tampon.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with this invention, a tapered or roundnosed, absorbent tampon having an inserter rod detachably seated in a socket provided at the base of the tampon, is disposed within a protective tube so that the entire tampon body and a front portion of the inserter rod are substantially enclosed. The protective tube comprises a cylindrical member having a tapered forward end structure adapted to be opened automatically when the leading end of the tampon is urged thereagainst during the ejection step by the user. Typical outer tube structures with a tapered forward end of this type may be found'in US. Pat. No. 3,204,635 to Voss et al. dated Sept. 7, 1965 and US. Pat. No. 3,433,225 to Voss et al. dated Mar. 18, 1969. The former patent describes a paperboard tube in which abutting dovetail folds form the tapered forward end. The latter patent describes a flexible plastic tube in which the tapered front end is comprised of multiple adjoining petal-like segments. In this invention the structure of either of these tubes is modified by having the trailing end closed off with a fitted cap in the form of a snap-in or pressure fitted disc. The cap may also be adhesively attached. The cap has a central aperture in which the inserter rod. is slidably positioned. Another aperture or cut-out portion is provided to interrupt the peripheral edge portion of the cap. This latter aperture is disposed adjacent the tube wall when the cap is in place, where it provides an opening through which the withdrawal string of the tampon may extend without interference; In the preferred embodiments, the peripheral cut-out portion communicates with the central aperture by means of a slot-like channel. Both apertures may take various configurations. In one embodiment, the central aperture is cylindrical and cooperates with a cylindrical rod of like diameter, so that the latter may be rotated while in place. In another embodiment, that portion of the rod coincident with the cylindrical central aperture may have a non-cylindrical cross-section which forms a temporary lock with the central aperture. In still another embodiment, the central aperture may be non-cylindrical and have a rod of like cross-section disposed therein for non-rotational movement. In yet another embodiment, a portion of the roddisposed within the tube and immediately adjacent the inner wall of the cap' may be larger in cross-section than the diameter of the central aperture to lock the rod against rearward movement.
The fitted cap permits easy assembly. In one method, the rod is first fitted into the base of the tampon, the cap is slipped over the free end of the rod, the tampon is inserted into the tube, and the cap is snapped into place, by means of mated ribs and grooves, to lock tampon and rod in position.
In another method the tampon and attached rod is inserted into the tube, the cap with connecting slot is slipped onto the stick from the side, and the cap moved into place.
In still another method, the cap with slot is connected to the tube by a flexible hinge, the tampon and attached rod are inserted in the tube and the cap is then swung on its hinge, at which time the-stick slides through the slot, and the cap is snapped in place. 7
In the finished assembly, the cap may also be held in place by a pressure fit or by adhesive attachment. I
The above features and other advantages of the invention will become more apparent by reference to the following specification and accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation of one embodiment of a tampon insertion device according to this invention.
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal section of the tampon, tubular element, and cap of the device of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an end view of the interior face of one form of cap or disc closure as used in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3A is a sectional view taken along line 3A-3A of FIG. 3.
FIG. 4 is an end view of the interior face of another form of disc closure.
FIG. 4A is a sectional view taken along line4A4A of FIG. 4.
FIG. 5 is an end view of the interior face of still another form of closure.
FIG. 5A is a sectional view taken along line 5A5A of FIG. 5.
FIG. 6 is a partial longitudinal section of another form of the device.
FIG. 7 is an end view of the disc closure utilized in FIG. 6.
FIG. 7A is a sectional view taken along line 7A-7A of FIG. 7.
FIG. 8 is a side elevation of another embodiment of the tube and disc closure portion of the device, with the closure shown in both open and closed position.
FIG. 8A is an outer end view of the disc in closed position as disposed on the trailing end of the tube of FIG. 8.
FIG. 9 is a side elevation of another embodiment of a tampon device in accordance with this invention.
FIG. 10 is a longitudinal section of the device of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is an end view of the interior face of the disc closure used in the device of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11A is a sectional view taken along line 11A11A of FIG. 1 1.
FIG. 12 is a top view of a rod suitable for use with the disc closure of FIG. 4.
FIG. 12A is a side view of the FIG. 12 rod.
FIG. 13 is a top view of a rod suitable for use withthe disc closure of FIG. 5. a
FIG. 13A is a side viewof the FIG. 13 rod.
In FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings, one embodiment of the tampon insertion device of this invention comprises a tampon enclosing tubular element 15, an inserter rod 16, and a fitted disc-shaped cap 17. Cap 17 closes the trailing end of tube 15, and also serves as a guiding and locking member for rod 16 which is slideably disposed therein.
The forward end of tube tapers down to a substantially closed tip 18 of small diameter. The tapered tip comprises multiple flexible segments 19 capable of flexing outward when the tampon 20 is pressed forward, as during insertion. Tampon 20 has a rounded or tapered forward end, and is provided with the usual withdrawal string 14. Rod 16 is detachably seated in a shallow socket 21 in the base of tampon 20. The leading end 22 of rod 16 is preferably mated with socket 21 in a manner to prevent relative rotation between rod 16 and tampon 20, as described in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 3,068,867. In accordance therewith, rod 16 is also preferably provided with a flattened trailing end 23 which provides the user with a tactile indication of the relative axial disposition of the tampon for placement purposes.
In this embodiment, rod 16 is also provided with a raised ring portion 24 disposed adjacent the inner wall of disc-like closure member 17 to lock the rod against rearward movement.
The outer circumference of the trailing end of tube 15 is preferably provided with a raised collar 25 which acts as a finger grip means. Other friction-increasing grip means may, of course, be employed.
The inner portion of the trailing end of tube 15 is provided with an annular raised rib 26 which cooperates with annular groove 29 of the closure cap.
As shown in more detail in FIGS. 3 and 3A closure' cap 17 is in the shape of a disc with a substantially flat outer face 27. The opposite, inner face 30 of cap 17 is provided with an annular ledge portion 28 of less diameter than the cap. Ledge portion 28 protrudes from inner face 30 sufficiently to provide space for an annular groove 29 disposed immediately adjacent inner face 30. Cap 17 is also provided with a first, centrally disposed, aperture 31 to receive rod 16, and a second, marginally disposed, aperture 32 which interrupts the peripheral edge of the cap and through which withdrawal string 14 extends. In this instance centrally disposed aperture 31 is circular, but other configurations may be used. Some of these being described below.
Cap 17, and other variations described herein, are preferably made of flexible plastic such as polyethylene, so that ledge portion 28 will flex sufficiently to pennit the cap to snap into the end oftube 15 to engage rib 26 in groove 29.
In this embodiment, aperture 31 is of slightly larger diameter than rod 16, but of less diameter than ring 24. This arrangement prevents rearward movement, while permitting forward longitudinal movement of rod 16 for ejection of the tampon. In this embodiment, rod 16 is also freely rotatable within aperture 31, permitting axial rotation of tampon 20 within tube 15 without causing rotation of tube 15. The tampon may thus be axially positioned by the user to the desired alignment within the tube before ejection.
17a in FIGS. 4 and 4A identifies another embodiment of a suitable closure cap. This embodiment is also provided with a centrally disposed circular aperture 31a and a marginally disposed aperture 32d. However, it is additionally provided with slot-like channel 33a connecting the two apertures. Channel 33a is of narrower dimension than either aperture. The edge walls of the channel are of sufficient flexibility to permit rod 16 to be pushed sideways therethrough before the cap is snapped in place.
While rod 16 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is also suitable for use with closure cap 17a, the style of rod indicated as 16a in FIGS. 12 and 12A is preferred. This rod comprises a round stick having its ends and 41 flattened, along with an interior portion 42. It is preferred that the planar disposition of flattened portions 41 and 42 be perpendicular to flattened portion 40, although this is not essential. When flattened portion 40 is perpendicular it will act as a stop against aperture 31a when the tampon is completely ejected. Portion 42 is spaced away from the leading edge of rod 16a a sufficient distance to permit it to cooperate with aperture 31a and channel 33a of cap 17a as described hereinafter. In assembling the device using the 16a style rod, tampon 20 is first seated thereon and the tampon then partially inserted into tube 15. Next, cap 17a is slid over flattened portion 42 by means of channel 330. Withdrawal string 14 is then aligned with, and extended through, aperture 320 whereupon cap 17a is snapped in place. In the assembled state, it will be seen that the upper edge 43 of the flattened portion 42 of rod 16a will abutt against the top of aperture 31a causing the center of rod 16a to be slightly out of alignment with the center of aperture 31a. As a result, the lower edge portion 44 will seat itself between the edges of channel 33a, and shoulders 45 and 46 of rod will prevent backward or forward movement of the rod to temporarily lock the rod in position. The interference between shoulders 45 and 46 and edges of channel 33a is such that while accidental rearward or forward displacement of the rod is prevented during shipment and handling, digital pressure on the end of rod 16a by the user will prevent forward human movement for insertion of the tampon.
Still another embodiment of a suitable closure cap is indicated at 17b in FIGS. 5 and 5A. In this embodiment, centrally disposed aperture 31b is in the form of an elongate slot with circular ends. One end communicates with marginally disposed aperture 32b by connecting channel 33b.
When the cap style shown in FIGS. 5 and 5A is employed, a rod of the style shown in FIGS. 13 and 13A and indicated at 16b is used. In this embodiment of the rod a stick of initially round cross section may be flattened along almost its entire length as shown at 50 and 51. The only portions which are not flattened are trailing end portion 52 and two spaced portions 53 and 54, producing protuberances disposed at a distance from the leading edge of the rod the to cooperate with aperture 31b. The arrangement employing this style rod and cap may be assembled in the same way as described for the arrangement employing rod style 16a and cap style 17a. Instead of starting with a round stick and pressing it into the described shape for the rod, the rod may be initially formed in the desired shape.
While in the arrangement using rod style 16 and cap style 17, the rod and tampon may be rotated independently of tube 15, in the latter two styles described above and identified with letters a and b in the description, the tampon and tube must be rotated as a unit because of the non-rotational association of rod and cap. However, this arrangement still permits axial alignment of the tampon and tube for proper placement as desired by the user, since the tampon is placed in a predetermined position within the tube during manufacture.
FIGS. 6, 7 and 7A show still another embodiment of the invention. In this arrangement, the style of tube 15 and tampon 20 are unchanged from that described above. Cap 17c is also shown as being capable of snapping into place by using cooperative elements in the same manner as the arrangements previously described. However, rod 160 may be completely round except for a flattened trailing edge and is held in place by flexible leaves 61 through which rod 160 is pushed. The spring-like engagement of leaves 61 against the rod surface is sufficient to prevent longitudinal movement of the rod until desired by the user. The usual peripheral aperture 62 in the cap is also provided for the withdrawal string in this arrangement. While a round rod 16c is shown, it is apparent that almost any cross-sectional configuration may be used in this embodiment, permitting a broad range of design for structural or ornamental reasons.
FIG. 8 shows still another embodiment of the invention wherein tube 65 and cap 67 are of unitary construction. The tube 65 and cap 67 are cast or molded as a single unit with the cap attached to the trailing end of the tube by a small flexible connecting strip 68 which serves as a hinge. The disposition of the cap as molded being shown by phantom lines at 67a. In assembling this embodiment, the stick and tampon are inserted into tube 65. The cap in position 67a is then rotated on hinge 68 to the closed position shown at 67. In the process of closing the cap, the rod will pass through channel 63 and snap into position in central aperture 65. The string, of course, is positioned to extend through peripheral aperture 64. The cap is held in place by the rib and groove arrangement previously described. It is also understood that the positions of rib and groove are interchangeable. That is, the groove may be provided in the tube wall and the rib on the cap ledge.
Still another embodiment of the invention may be found by reference to FIGS. 9, 10, I1 and 11A. In this embodiment, tube 75 is a paperboard structure in which the tapered forward end 78 comprises abutting dovetail folds of the type described in US. Pat. No. 3,204,635. The trailing end of tube 75 has smooth interior, rather than being provided with an annular rib. Cap 77 comprises a corklike structure with an offset tapering portion on one side which fits into tube 75 by a pressure fit. The primary difference from the other embodiments is the use of a cork-like cap, which is squeezed into the tube end and held in place by the pressure-fit obtained thereby. The various other cooperating means between rod and cap previously described may be readily incorporated into this arrangement.
In addition to providing a protective tube for stick-type tampons, this invention has an additional advantage in that the socket at the base of the tampon in which the rod is seated need not be as deep as is required when a protective tube is not employed. The locking arrangement between cap and rod permits a stable structure which insures that the rod will remain seated in place until after ejection. While a snap-in or pressure fit arrangement have been shown and described, it is also contemplated that the cap may be secured in place by adhesive attachment, whereby neither the snap-in or pressure fit is necessary. The adhesive attachment may be achieved by a simple application of adhesive to mated parts. Alternatively, the cap or tube may be thermoplastic and sealed together by heat applied in the usual well-known manner.
The rod may be of various constructions. For example, it may be made of relatively stiff paper helically wound into a solid rod or a hollow tube. It may also be made from cast, extruded, pressure-formed or injection molded plastic.
What is claimed is:
I. An insertion aiding device for a tampon of the type having an inserter rod detachably fitted into the base thereof and equipped with the usual withdrawal string, said device comprising a tampon-enclosing tubular element with a substantially closed tapered forward end portion of a construction capable of opening radially as axial force is applied against the interior thereof and a trailing end closed off by a disc-shaped member, said member having a first centrally disposed aperture for reception of said inserter rod and a second marginally disposed aperture interrupting the outer periphery of said member, said withdrawal string extending through said second aperture, and the front portion of said rod extending through said member in detachable engagement with the base of said tampon.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein said first aperture is circular and said rod is of matching circular cross-section and capable of rotation therein while being in non-rotatable engagement with said tampon base.
3. The device of claim 2 wherein the free end of said rod has prised of flexible segments to frictionally engage said rod.
7. The device of claim 1 wherein a narrow channel connects said first aperture to said second aperture.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein a portion of said rod disposed within said tubular element and adjacent said member is of larger cross-section than the diameter of said first aperture. I
9. The device of claim 4 wherein a portion of said rod disposed within said tubular element and adjacent the interior face of said member is provided with protuberances which temporarily prevent rearward displacement of said rod.
10. The device of claim 9 wherein a second portion of said rod disposed outside said tubular element and adjacent the exterior face of said member is provided with protuberances which temporarily prevent forward displacement of said rod.
11. The device of claim 4 wherein the free end of said rod has touch sensitive means adapted to indicate the axial disposition of said tampon with respect to said touch sensitive means.
12. The device of claim 1 wherein said tubular element comprises a paperboard tube and the tapered forward end portion is comprised of abutting dovetail folds.
13. The device of claim 12 wherein said disc-shaped member and is pressure-fitted inside the trailing end of said tube.
14. The device of claim 12 wherein said disc-shaped member is adhesively bonded to the trailing end of said tube.
15. The device of 'claim 1 wherein said tubular element is comprised of flexible plastic and the tapered forward end portion is comprised of multiple adjoining petal-like segments.
16. The device of claim 15 wherein the inner wall adjacent the trailing end of said tubular element and the interior face portion of said disc-shaped member have cooperating portions which mate to provide a snap-fit.
17. The device of claim 15 wherein the inner wall adjacent the trailing end of said tubular element is provided with an annular raised portion and said disc-shaped member is provided with an annular ledge portion on one face of less diameter than said member, said ledge being provided with an annular groove adjacent said face, said rib and said groove being in mated engagement.
18. The device of claim 16 wherein said disc-shaped member is connected to the trailing end of said tubular element by a flexible hinge.
19. The device of claim 17 wherein said disc-shaped member is connected to the trailing end of said tubular element by a flexible hinge.
20. The device of claim 15 wherein said disc-shaped member is adhesively bonded to the trailing end of said tubular element.
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