US 3717244 A
A flat package for items which are to be kept sterile has upper and lower panels secured together along a sealing band which surrounds the item. At the top of the package the panels project a substantial distance beyond the top sealing band, and the projecting portion of the top panel forms a first dust flap which is folded over on the top of the package and adhesively connected or heat sealed in folded-down position. The projecting portion of the bottom panel forms a second dust flap and is folded over the sealed-down portion of the first dust flap, the arrangement providing for easy separation of the dust flaps when it is desired to open the package. The invention also includes the method of manufacturing the package whereby the packages may be cut from continuous webs along transverse lines at the edges of the flaps.
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United States Patent [191 Smith [451 Feb. 20, 1973 54 PACKAGE WITH EASY OPENING 2,429,505 10/1947 Ashman ..229/62 DUST FLAP AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING THE SAME Primary ExaminerWilliam T. Dixson, Jr.  Inventor: Richard W. Smith, Racine, Wis. Att0meyM0rse" & Morse  Assignee: Pratt Manufacturing Corp., Milwau-  ABSTRACT A flat package for items which are to be kept sterile  Filed: Feb. 10, 1971 has upper and lower panels secured together along a sealing band which surrounds the item. At the top of  Appl' 114509 the package the panels project a substantial distance beyond the top sealing band, and the projecting portion of the top panel forms a first dust flap which is 53/38 folded over on the top of the package and adhesively 1111- CL 365d 365d 75/46, connected or heat sealed in fo1ded-down position. The 365d 83/00 projecting portion of the bottom panel forms a second Fleld Search-106532 63-3, 46 R, 56 AA; dust flap and is folded over the sealed-down portion of 53/38; 229/62 66 the first dust flap, the arrangement providing for easy separation of the dust flaps when it is desired to open  defences Cited the package. The invention also includes the method UNITED STATES PATENTS of manufacturing the package whereby the packages may be cut from continuous webs along transverse 3,062,371 1 1/1962 Patience ..206/63.2 R lines at the edges of the flaps. 3,189,174 6/1965 Cormack ..206/63.2 R 3,388,789 6/1968 Simandl et a1 ..229/66 5 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PATENTED FEB 2 0 I973 WVENTOR fJm//dw- ATTORNEYS PACKAGE WITII EASY OPENING DUST FLAP AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING THE SAME BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention pertains to packages for flat surgical supplies such as surgical sponges which must be kept in sterile condition until used, the package having doubled-down dust flaps to retard the entry of bacteria.
2. Description of the Prior Art Packages of the type with which the present invention is concerned have heretofore been manufactured with dust flaps. In the manufacture of some of these packages the bottom web is wider than the top web, and the dust flap extends longitudinally of the web so that the packages generally extend transversely of the web with the cut-off occurring transversely of the dust flap ends. By having one of the webs wider than the other an extra length is easily provided for one of the flaps to facilitate separation of the flaps when it is desired to open the package. This method of manufacture, however, has disadvantages, one of which is the necessity of having one web wider than the other, and another of which is that the dust flap extends in the same direction as the direction of the fiber in the web. This is undesirable, it being advantageous to have the dust flap portions extend transversely of the fibers of the web.
It has also been attempted in the prior art to manufacture dust flap packages with dust flaps of equal length. However, where this has been done it has been considered necessary to notch the inner flap in order to make it easier to separate the two flaps when opening the package. This is objectionable, as the waste material which is cut out from the notches can get into the package during manufacture to contaminate the packages or to produce an undesirable loose element therein.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an improved package and method of manufacturing the same wherein the dust flap ends of the packages may extend transversely of the web and transversely of the fibers in the web, and wherein the upper portion of the seal around the item in the package is at a lower position to provide a finger insertion space, one end of each package being folded down to provide inner and outer dust flaps, with the inner dust flap being adhesively secured in position by an adhesive band which is spaced outwardly of the ad jacent seal around the product, the outer dust flap being loose whereby it can be readily raised and gripped between the thumb and forefinger of one hand while the thumb of the other hand is inserted between panels with the folded-down edge of the top panel being gripped between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand to provide for quick and easy opening of the package.
A further object of the invention is to provide an im proved package with easy opening dust flaps which is adapted to maintain the contents in sterile condition but which permits ready separation of the dust flaps when it is desired to open the package.
A further object of the invention is to provide a package as above described in which both the upper and lower panels can be of the same dimension.
A further object of the invention is to provide a package as above described in which it is unnecessary to notch one of the dust flaps.
A further object of the invention is to provide an improved method of manufacturing the package from continuous webs, with the dust flap portions extending transversely of the web and transversely of the direction of the web fibers.
With the above and other objects in view the invention consists of the improved package with easy opening dust flaps, and method of manufacturing the same, and all of its parts, combinations, and steps, and all equivalents thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING In the accompanying drawing, in which the same reference numerals designate the same parts in all of the views:
FIG. 1 is a partially diagrammatic plan view illustrating the method of manufacture from continuous webs;
FIG. 2 is a partially diagrammatic side view showing the first part of the method;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken on the line 3-3 of one of the packages of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view through the upper portion of a package showing how the dust flaps are separated during opening of the package.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring more particularly to the drawing, first to FIG. 1, the numeral 10 designates an endless conveyor for feeding items 11, such as surgical sponges which are to be wrapped. An upper continuous web 12 is fed from a suitable supply roll beneath an upper guide roll 13, and a lower continuous web 14 is fed from a suitable supply roll over a lower guide roll 15. In the preferred embodiment the webs are formed from suitable packaging material such as white sulphite or bleached Kraft, the materials preferably being sufficiently porous to permit steam sterilization of the items within the completed packages.
One of the webs is preferably preprinted on the side which is to face the other web with spaced adhesive patterns 16, each of which is of a size to surround an item 11. The printed pattern may be any suitable sterilizable heat-scalable material or a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Longitudinally spaced adhesive bands 24 are also preprinted on the top of the web 12, or otherwise applied at a suitable time. This may be a suitable sterilizable heat-scalable material or a pressure-sensitive adhesive. For certain uses one or both of the panels may be formed of a film which is inherently heat sealable to either a like film or to a panel of white sulphite or the like. In such case it is unnecessary to apply the adhesive pattern 16 as the scaling is accomplished by the pressure outline of the heat sealing elements 18 of FIG. 2. If the upper panel is of such inherently heat scalable material then the transverse bands 24 of adhesive may also be omitted. In such case the inner dust flap 27 will have to be heat sealed to the top of the package by a suitable heat sealer before the outer dust flap 28 is folded down.
It is apparent from FIG. 2 that the conveyor 10 delivers the items in spaced relationship between the webs 12 and 14, one within each pattern 16, just as the webs arrive between the guide rollers 13 and 15. Thereafter the web is advanced by side draw rolls l7, and it travels through the sealing stage where upper and lower sealing elements 18 come together at intervals timed with the spacing between sponges 11 to cause sealing of the upper and lower webs together at 16 around the item 11. Where the adhesive 16 is heatsealable type the seals 18 will have suitable electric heating elements therein. If the adhesive is a pressuresensitive type, the heating elements may be omitted from the sealers. Thereafter the draw rolls 19 move the web through cutoff knives 20 which open and close in timed relationship to cause cutoff intermediate the items 11 and just in advance of the adhesive strips 24. The placement of the cutoff members 20 is such as to provide a relatively long forward overhand 21 beyond the forward seal portion 16' of the seal pattern 16.
Thereafter the cutoff packages are dropped onto a conveyor 22 which travels at right angles to the first direction of movement of the items 11. The conveyor 22 may be an endless belt having spaced sets of upwardly projecting pusher lugs 23. In the preferred procedure it is to be noted that the package, as it enters the conveyor 22, has an upwardly facing strip of adhesive 24 spaced just inwardly of the leading edge of the top panel, the length of the projecting portions 21 still providing a substantial spacing between the adhesive strip 24 and the adhesive pattern portion 16'. Thereafter the packages are conveyed through a folding plow 25 which may be of any suitable type but which is preferably constructed in accordance with the disclosure of Harrison U.S. Pat. No. 3,054,242. This plow folds the upper portions of the top and bottom panels over, as at 26, to provide inner and outer dust flaps 27 and 28, which when the package panels are both formed of white sulphite or the like, as in the preferred form of the invention, are then rolled down by the sealing and creasing wheel 29. This wheel also causes the adhesive strip 24 to adhere to the portion of the top panel which it meets to thereby hold the inner flap down. If the adhesive material 24 is a heat-scalable type, the sealing wheel can have a suitable electric heating element therein. If it is a pressure-sensitive adhesive, the heating element may be omitted from the wheel 29. This completes the package which is shown in its completed form at the end of the run in FIG. 1.
Referring now to FIG. 3, the finished package includes a bottom panel 30 and top panel 31. The sealeddown dust flap 27 is, of course, folded from the projecting end of the panel 31, and the loose dust flap portion 28 is folded from the projecting end of panel portion 30. These panels, in the folded condition, minimize the possibility of bacteria entering the package and getting beyond the seal band 16'. It is to be noted that the flaps 27 and 28 are of the same length and that these flap portions extend transversely of the web 12 14 of FIG. 1 and transversely of the direction of the fibers in said webs. I-Ieretofore, when it was attempted to have flaps 27 and 28 of the same length, it became difficult to separate the two flap portions when it was desired to open the package. During surgery it is important that no problems which might delay procedures be encountered in opening the packages. One prior method of reducing this problem was to notch out the center of the inner flap 27. This enabled a person to more readily separate the flaps. However, when notching was performed, there were pieces of scrap created during manufacture which could readily get into the packages to cause an undesirable situation. With the present invention no notching is necessary and yet the flaps may be of the same length and can thus extend transversely of the web 12-14.
Referring to FIG. 4, the present package can be readily opened by pulling up on the dust flap portion 28 with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and then by inserting the thumb between panels to grip the foldedover portion of the panel 31. The package can then be readily opened by pulling the panels apart as shown in FIG. 4. Because of the fact that the adhesive 27 holds the inner dust flap down, there is no initial problem of separating the two dust flaps. Also, by having the spacing at 21 outwardly of the seal line portion 16, there is ample room to insert the thumb of the right hand between panels as in FIG. 4, when compressing the folded-over portion of the panel 31.
It is to be understood that I do not desire to be limited to the exact details of construction shown and described, for obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art.
What I claim is:
1. In a package having an upper panel and a lower panel in superimposed relationship, said panels being secured together by a surrounding seal pattern and there being upper and lower panel portions which project substantially the same distance beyond said pattern at one edge of the package, a flat article between the panels and within the seal pattern, the projecting portions of said upper and lower panels constituting inner and outer dust flaps which are folded together on a common fold line over the top of the package, wherein the improvement resides in having said fold line forming an end margin of the package, only the inner dust flap being sealed to the top of the package and the outer dust flap being free whereby the outer dust flap may be readily separated and swung on said fold line for ease in pulling the panels apart to open the package.
2. A package as claimed in claim 1 in which the seal between the inner dust flap and the top of the package is an adhesive band which is spaced outwardly beyond the adjacent end of said surrounding sealpattern, and there being a free finger insertion space between the projecting panel portions to facilitate separation.
3. A method of packaging a flat article comprising: placing a flat article to be packaged on a lower panel, superimposing an upper panel portion over said lower panel and article, sealing the panels together in a pattern surrounding the article, which pattern is positioned to provide for projecting panel portions of substantially equal length at one end which project a substantial distance beyond the seal pattern, folding the projecting panel portions over on top of the package to provide inner and outer dust flaps, and causing sealing of only the inner dust flap to the top of the package.
4. A method of packaging flat articles comprising: continuously feeding upper web material with the fibers extending in the direction of feed to form the upper portions of packages, continuously feeding lower web material with the fibers extending in the direction of feed to form the lower portions of packages, applying bands of surrounding seal patterns in longitudinally spaced relationship to a side of one of said webs which faces the other web, placing flat articles one after another in position between the web portions each within a surrounding seal pattern, pressure sealing the webs to each other in the bands of surrounding seal patterns, severing the packages one after another along transverse lines between the seal patterns, folding an edge of each package over on top of the package along a fold line extending transversely of the direction of extent of the web fibers to provide inner and outer dust flaps, and causing only the inner flap to be sealed down
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