Patent application title: Universal Lids and Methods for Making and Using the Same
Hans O. Ribi (Hilsborough, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D5100FI
Class name: Receptacles closures combined or convertible
Publication date: 2009-08-20
Patent application number: 20090206080
Patent application title: Universal Lids and Methods for Making and Using the Same
Hans O. RIBI
BOZICEVIC, FIELD & FRANCIS LLP
Origin: EAST PALO ALTO, CA US
IPC8 Class: AB65D5100FI
Universal lids, as well as methods of making and using the same, are
provided. Universal lids of the invention are compliant and to
accommodate multiple different sizes of containers, such that they may
effectively cover at least two different containers that differ from each
other in terms of size of the opening of the container. In certain
embodiments, the lids are fabricated from a compliant material. In
certain embodiments, the lids include an undercut. Embodiments of the
lids include one or more of a detector component, e.g., for detecting
temperature, time, etc.; a gas permeable component, e.g., for allowing
certain gases to pass into and out of the sealed container; etc.
1. A compliant lid configured to seal at least two different containers
that differ from each other by container opening size, wherein said
compliant lid further comprises a detector component.
2. The lid according to claim 1, wherein said two different containers have container opening sizes that differ from each other by 5% or more.
3. The lid according to claim 2, wherein said compliant lid comprises an elastomeric component.
4. The lid according to claim 3, wherein said detector component is a temperature detector component.
5. The lid according to claim 3, wherein said detector component is a time detector component.
6. The lid according to claim 3, wherein said detector component is an analyte detector component.
7. The lid according to claim 3, wherein said detector component provides a visual signal.
8. The lid according to claim 7, wherein said visual signal is a color signal.
9. The lid according to claim 1, wherein said compliant lid further comprises a gas permeability component.
10. The lid according to claim 1, wherein said compliant lid is disc-shaped.
11. The compliant lid according to claim 1, wherein said compliant lid comprises an undercut.
12. A method of sealing a container, said method comprising:a) providing a container having an opening; andb) placing a lid according to claim 1 over said opening of said container in order to seal said container.
18. A sealed container comprising:a container having an opening; anda compliant lid configured to seal at least two different containers that differ from each other by container opening size, wherein said lid is sealing said opening and further comprises a detector component.
19. The sealed container according to claim 18, wherein said two different containers have container opening sizes that differ from each other by 5% or more.
20. The sealed container according to claim 19, wherein said compliant lid comprises an elastomeric component.
21. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said detector component is a temperature detector component.
22. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said detector component is a time detector component.
23. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said detector component is an analyte detector component.
24. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said detector component provides a visual signal.
25. The sealed container according to claim 18, wherein said visual signal is a color signal.
26. The sealed container according to claim 18, wherein said lid further comprises a gas permeability component.
27. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said lid is disc shaped.
28. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said lid comprises an undercut.
29. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said container contains food.
30. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said container is a disposable container.
31. The sealed container according to claim 20, wherein said container is a reusable container.
32. A kit comprising:a container having an opening; anda compliant lid according to claim 1.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119 (e), this application claims priority to the filing date of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/027,026 filed Feb. 7, 2008, the disclosure of which application is herein incorporated by reference.
It is often desirable to employ reusable containers in a variety of applications, including food preparation and storage, as well as storage of non-food items. When using such containers, it is often desirable to employ a lid, i.e., a cover, for the container, where the lid serves to keep the item in the container, and can be configured to maintain freshness, or otherwise protect the contained item.
However, an effective lid must be matched to the container to work. As such, lids must be configured to a particular container in order to be used with that container.
Because of the multitude of different types of containers having different dimensions, this makes providing a lid for each possible container impractical. Furthermore, over time lids configured for a particular container can be lost.
Universal lids (referred to herein as "Universal Lid(s)", "Lid(s)" "compliant lid(s)" or "the lid(s)"), as well as methods of making and using the same, are provided. Universal Lids of the invention are compliant and accommodate multiple different sizes of containers, such that they may effectively cover at least two different containers that differ from each other in terms of size of the opening of the container. In certain embodiments, the lids are fabricated from a compliant material. In certain embodiments, the lids include an undercut. Embodiments of the lids include one or more of a detector component, e.g., for detecting temperature, time, etc.; a gas permeable component, e.g., for allowing certain gases to pass into and out of the sealed container; etc.
The Universal Lids described herein provide benefits for storage including ease-of-use with a broad range of house-hold containers, flexibility and compliance with any shaped container, a deep vacuum (e.g., FIG. 3 item 30) seal that holds under a variety of storage conditions, a vivid color change indicating storage temperature conditions and built in short-term timing to warn for refrigeration or immediate use, gas permeability and/or adsorption capabilities. The lid can be used with solid and liquids, is dishwasher safe, can withstand microwave or freezer temperatures, and is constructed with components that are considered safe for direct contact with foods. Various molded features can be incorporated into the product to provide additional features including but not limited to structural performance, increased vacuum levels, and enhanced thermal time-temperate indication.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
FIG. 1 provides an angled front, upright view of Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention, wherein the Universal Lid is in a sealed position over a container having a rectangular-shaped opening.
FIG. 2 provides a perspective view of the underside of a Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention, whereby the thickness and undercut of the Universal Lid are visible.
FIG. 3 provides an angled front, upright view of Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention, wherein the Universal Lid is in a sealed position over a container having a circular-shaped opening.
FIG. 4 provides an exploded cross-sectional view of an under cut in the skirt portion of a Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention.
Universal Lids, as well as methods of making and using the same, are provided. Universal Lids of the invention are compliant and accommodate multiple different sizes of containers, such that they may effectively cover at least two different containers that differ from each other in terms of size of the opening of the container. In certain embodiments, the lids are fabricated from a compliant material. In certain embodiments, the lids include an undercut. Embodiments of the lids include one or more of a detector component, e.g., for detecting temperature, time, etc.; a gas permeable component, e.g., for allowing certain gases to pass into and out of the sealed container; etc.
The Universal Lids provide benefits for storage including ease-of-use with a broad range of house-hold containers, flexibility and compliance with any shaped container, a deep vacuum seal that holds under a variety of storage conditions, a vivid color change indicating storage temperature conditions and built in short-term timing to warn for refrigeration or immediate use, gas permeability and/or adsorption capabilities. The lid can be used with solid and liquids, is dishwasher safe, can withstand microwave or freezer temperatures, and is constructed with components that are considered safe for direct contact with foods. Various molded features can be incorporated into the product to provide additional features including but not limited to structural performance, increased vacuum levels, and enhanced thermal time-temperate indication.
Before the present invention is described in greater detail, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particular embodiments described, as such may, of course, vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to be limiting, since the scope of the present invention will be limited only by the appended claims.
Where a range of values is provided, it is understood that each intervening value, to the tenth of the unit of the lower limit unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, between the upper and lower limit of that range and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range, is encompassed within the invention. The upper and lower limits of these smaller ranges may independently be included in the smaller ranges and are also encompassed within the invention, subject to any specifically excluded limit in the stated range. Where the stated range includes one or both of the limits, ranges excluding either or both of those included limits are also included in the invention.
Certain ranges are presented herein with numerical values being preceded by the term "about." The term "about" is used herein to provide literal support for the exact number that it precedes, as well as a number that is near to or approximately the number that the term precedes. In determining whether a number is near to or approximately a specifically recited number, the near or approximating unrecited number may be a number which, in the context in which it is presented, provides the substantial equivalent of the specifically recited number.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can also be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, representative illustrative methods and materials are now described.
All publications and patents cited in this specification are herein incorporated by reference as if each individual publication or patent were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference and are incorporated herein by reference to disclose and describe the methods and/or materials in connection with which the publications are cited. The citation of any publication is for its disclosure prior to the filing date and should not be construed as an admission that the present invention is not entitled to antedate such publication by virtue of prior invention. Further, the dates of publication provided may be different from the actual publication dates which may need to be independently confirmed.
It is noted that, as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. It is further noted that the claims may be drafted to exclude any optional element. As such, this statement is intended to serve as antecedent basis for use of such exclusive terminology as "solely," "only" and the like in connection with the recitation of claim elements, or use of a "negative" limitation.
As will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reading this disclosure, each of the individual embodiments described and illustrated herein has discrete components and features which may be readily separated from or combined with the features of any of the other several embodiments without departing from the scope or spirit of the present invention. Any recited method can be carried out in the order of events recited or in any other order which is logically possible.
As summarized above, Universal Lids as well as methods of making and using the same, are provided. The term "Universal Lid" in this regard will be understood to refer to various types of lids, barriers, coverings and/or caps that have a "universal" size. The "universal" size allows the lid to be used to seal more than one corresponding opening or container. A Universal Lid therefore is configured to seal at least two different containers, the size of which differs by 5% or more (with reference to the diameter or length thereof). The Universal Lid disclosed herein is circular; however, other embodiments are contemplated, including squares, rectangles, discs and ovals, to list a few non-limiting examples.
Universal Lids of the invention may be configured in a range of sizes and shapes to meet a wide range of storage applications. Standard utility sizes can be used for various plastic, glass, metal and wooden bowls and tubs. Small diameter sizes can be used for enclosures for cups, canned foods, soda cans, condiment containers, and jars. Stopper sizes can be used as corks, bottle lids, and the like. Sheet forms can be used to laminate and seal foods such as meats, cheeses, and other perishables. Compliant lids according to the invention are configured to seal at least two different containers that differ from each other by container opening size (e.g., in terms of diameter), for example by 5% or more, 10% or more, 20% or more, 25% or more, 50% or more, 75% or more, 100% or more, etc. While the diameter or length of the container that the lid is configured to cover may vary, in some instances the lid may be configured to cover a container having a diameter or length ranging from 5 cm to 60 cm, such as 10 cm to 50 cm and including 15 cm to 35 cm, for example. The thickness of the lid may range from 0.2 cm to 2.0 cm, such as 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm and including 0.75 cm to 1 cm.
Universal Lids according to the invention may include a central panel and, optionally, a gripping zone along the periphery of the central panel, the central panel being stretchable for engaging a gripping zone with the wall of various sized openings, thereby sealing a container. Features can include, but are not limited to thickness range, ledge length, ledge undercut angles, color change types at important and useful temperature ranges for perishable storage, thermochromic colorant types, food breakdown product detection elements, discrete sensing zones or bulk indication compositions, and the like.
A Universal Lid of the invention may include a central flex panel having an outer surface and an inner surface. An elastic edging is at the periphery of the central flex panel. The elastic edging may be a flat flange perpendicular to the center panel, a flexible flap projecting upwards, or a mushroom-type feature, to list some non-limiting examples. The elastic edging may have a hinge portion and a rim portion. The hinge portion allows the center flex panel to move axially relative to the rim portion. Axial movement of the center flex panel moves the rim portion radially. When a Universal Lid of the invention is placed on a container, axial movement of the center flex panel moves the rim portion from the unsealing position of to the sealing position to create a seal for storage of the contents of the container. The rim portion may be considered as having an annular skirt which engages the outside surface of a container lip when applied thereto. The skirt may also have an undercut, which protrudes from inside the skirt wall to the area under the container lip to hold the Universal Lid in place. An undercut resembles a groove which is structured and arranged to receive the edge of a container, which defines the opening of the container to be sealed. The undercut cooperates with the edge to facilitate attachment and sealing of the Universal Lid.
A Universal Lid according to the invention can be formulated to function over a wide range of temperatures. Operating ranges can be sub-zero to elevated cooking temperatures. The composition can be formulated for activity in the temperature range of from 200° C. to 20° C., such as from between 100° C. to 10° C., and including from between 50° C. to 0° C., e.g., from between 30° C. to 15° C. (ambient conditions).
Universal Lids: Molding
Finished lid and sheet forms can be produced using compression molding or injection molding. Colorants, sensing compositions, and active agents can be added during the molding process. All resins and compositions for a particular lid type can be scaled-up according to volume needs and pricing.
Various molding processes can be employed including injection molding compression molding, blow molding, rotary molding, and the like. The molding method selected will depend on the method of choice that best fits the product production characteristics such as cost, utility, features and the like.
Universal lids can be molded with severe undercuts due to the inherent elasticity of the elastomeric compositions employed in the product. The severe undercuts are of use for significantly improving the gas/water tightness of substances stored in a container and sealed with a universal lid. The term "undercut" refers to a groove-like feature which is structured and arranged to receive the edge or flange of container. As such, an undercut cooperates with the edge or flange to facilitate attachment and sealing of a Universal Lid thereto.
Universal Lids: Undercut Geometry and Configuration
The grooves may be undercut such that each wall terminates in a flange of flexible material which extends part way over adjacent grooves. The flexible flange portion of the lid serves to further assure contact between the lid and the container rim to make a tight seal, especially when there is a disparity between groove and container-lip geometry.
The undercut itself may be internal, spherically cup-shaped, concavely curved, or a triangular recess (when viewed by cross section), to list a few non-limiting examples. An undercut having a triangular cross section may defined by a first wall extending downward toward at a first angle relative to the skirt of the lid, and a second wall extending downward from the first wall at a second angle relative to the lid skirt.
Universal Lids: Elastomeric Component
The Universal Lids disclosed herein are of an elastomeric material that retains its elasticity during use; i.e., the material may be stretched to accommodate container openings of various sizes and at the same time, maintain its resiliency such that it will return to substantially to its original form after stretching.
Thus, the Universal Lids described herein may include an "elastomeric component." The term "elastomeric component" refers to any number of various thermal plastic elastomers (TPE's); such as, but not limited to polyisoprene, polybutadiene, polyisobutylene, polyurethane, polychloroprene, highly elastic silicone, DYNAFLEX, VERSAFLEX, VERSALLOY, VERSOLLAN, and KRATON (GLS Corporation, IL). SANTOPRENE brand thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs) are a series of high-performance elastomers which combine the desirable characteristics of vulcanized rubber, such as flexibility and low compression set, with the processing ease of thermoplastics. Fitting into the mid-range performance spectrum of both thermoplastic and thermoset rubbers, SANTOPRENE TPV (Exxon Mobile Corp.) is accepted for a broad range of industrial and consumer product applications for the Universal Lids presented here.
Other plastics that may be added in ratios during manufacture include but are not limited to ethylenechlorotrifluoreethylene (ECTFE), ethylentetrafluorethylene (ETFE), polinvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR), silicone rubber (SI), ALCRYN thermoplastic rubber (TPR), HT thermoplastic rubber (HTPR), SANTOPRENE thermoplastic rubber (TPR), LSOH crosslinked compounds, LSOH thermoplastic compounds, methylvinyletherfluoralkoxy (MFA), perfluoroalkoxy (PFA), thermoplastic polyester elastomer (TPE), polyimide (KAPTON), polyurethane (PUR), polyvinyl chloride 105° C. (PVC), polyvinyl chloride 70° C. (PVC), low temperature polyvinyl chloride (LTPVC), oil resistant Polyvinyl chloride (OR PVC), semi-rigid polyvinyl (SR PVC), polyvinyl chloride polyurethane (PVC PUR), and the like. Additive plastics can be utilized to adjust the characteristics of the base thermo plastic elastomer.
Elastomeric Component: Germicidal/Disinfectant Additives
Agents may be added to the base thermo plastic elastomer of the lids during manufacture. Such agents include surfactants having germicidal properties, such as those cationic surfactants which are found to provide a broad antibacterial or sanitizing function and as additives to the composition. Any cationic surfactant which satisfies these requirements may be used and are considered to be within the scope of the present invention, and mixtures of two or more cationic surface active agents, viz., cationic surfactants may also be used. Cationic surfactants are well known, and useful cationic surfactants may be one or more of those described for example in McCutcheon's Functional Materials, Vol. 2, 1998; Kirk-Othmer, Encyclopaedia of Chemical Technology, 4th Ed., Vol. 23, pp. 478-541 (1997), the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Universal Lids: Detector Component
The Universal Lids described herein may also include a detector component, e.g., to detect one or more parameters of interest, such as, but not limited to temperature, time, analytes of interest (e.g., chemicals given off by food, such as rotting food), etc. For example, the detector component may comprise a chemical agent that changes properties in response to an applied stimulus, e.g., heat or temperature. Such a detector component may provide a variety of different signals, including visual signals, such as color changes to indicate information related to temperature, time, analytes, etc. with respect to that which is sealed by the Universal Lid presented herein. Thus, the phrase "analyte detector component" refers to an agent incorporated into the Universal Lid presented herein that detects the presence or absence of specific analytes of interest and then displays (indicates) information regarding the same in a format (e.g., visual) that is understood by a consumer. Similarly, the phrase "time detector component" refers to an agent incorporated into the Universal Lid presented herein that monitors the passage of time and then displays (indicates) information regarding the same in a format (e.g., visual) that is understood by a consumer. Likewise, the phrase "temperature detector component" refers to an agent incorporated into the Universal Lid presented herein that measures temperature and then displays (indicates) information regarding the same in a format (e.g., visual) that is understood by a consumer.
Detector Component: Chemical and/or Physical Additives
The detector component of the Universal Lid presented herein may contain additives, agents and/or devices that produce thermochromic, photochromic, chemochromic, (gas sensitive), machanochromic, biochromic, solvatochromic, and other related chromic changes to indicate one or more parameters of interest, such as those listed above. All additives and agents may be reversible or irreversible depending on the application of interest.
Detector Component: Time-Temperature Indicator or Integrator (TTI)
The detector component of the Universal Lid presented herein may comprise a Time-Temperature Indicator or Integrator (TTI). TTIs refer to agents or devices that can display an easily readable, time-temperature dependent change that reflects the full or partial temperature history of a thermally sensitive product to which it is affixed. As such, TTIs are integral systems allowing irreversible visual indications of the combined action of temperature and time on products. Unlike an expiration date (ED) and a best-consumed-before-date (BCBD), both of which take into account only a single parameter, i.e., time, TTIs offer a means for assessing and controlling thermal cycles and storage conditions of products.
The Universal Lids presented herein may optionally incorporate TTIs. TTIs may be put in place during the preparation of thermally sensitive products, such as the Universal Lids of the invention, at the time of production to help consumers see if a product is still fresh at the time of sale and at home.
One prevalent class of TTI is a diffusion-based indicator (TTI Type I). This type of TTI indicates a temperature history of a product based on the diffusion of a colored chemical (e.g., fatty acid esters, phthalates, certain polymers) from the reservoir through a wick. Within this class, four (4) types of TTI are known, some of which are commercially available, such as FREEZEWATCH and MONITORMARK (3M Innovative Properties Co., St. Paul, Minn.).
Another class of known TTI utilizes an enzymatic indicator (TTI Type II). For example, the VITSAB CHECKPOINT TTI (VITSAB AB; Malmo, Sweden) is based on a color change caused by a decrease in pH value as a result of the controlled enzymatic hydrolysis of a lipid substrate. This type of TTI must be kept chilled before activation.
A third type (TTI Type III) of indicators is based on a chemical polymerization reaction, such as the polymerization of disubstituted diacetylene crystals (R--C═C--C═C--R), which results in a highly colored polymer. Commercially available Type III TTIs include the FRESHCHECK indicator for food products and the HEATMARKER indicator for vaccines (LifeLine Technologies; Morristown, N.J.). These TTIs must be kept in deep freeze (i.e., at roughly -240° C.) before use because the reaction will spontaneously occur under warmer conditions.
A fourth type of TTI system uses microorganisms to indicate microbial spoilage of food and other perishable products (TTI Type IV). In these systems, microorganisms are usually dehydrated and contained in an air-tight bag together with dehydrated nutrients. The system is activated by breaking an inner pouch containing water, which rehydrates the system. The change in indicator color is based on the growth of microorganisms, which may be measured by the visibility of certain bar codes. The indicator colors itself and turns opaque after a critical accumulation of cold chain disruptions or when the use by date is exceeded.
By "cold chain" is meant a temperature-controlled supply chain; e.g., the route from farm, to processor, to transport, which passes through cold storage en route to distant markets. An unbroken cold chain is an uninterrupted series of storage and distribution activities which maintain a given temperature range. It is used to extend and to help ensure the shelf life of products such as chemicals, foods and drugs. Thus "cold chain disruption" refers to an interrupted series of storage and distribution activities, whereby temperature control may be intermittently lost.
A fifth type of TTI utilizes a combination of biochemistry (i.e., an enzymatic reaction) and electronics. One commercial example is the TEMPALARM/TIME TEMPERATURE BIOSENSOR; Bioett, Lund, Sweden), which monitors the thermal cycle of products.
A wide variety of TTIs can be multiplexed with or adjoined to devices utilizing chemical polymerization indicators. Devices can include, but are not limited to those that are sold commercially such as ONVU by CIBA XYMARA, the TT SENSOR by Avery Denison (Paynesville, Ohio), DAYMARK, and the like.
Thus, Universal Lids according to the invention may be equipped to accept application of time-temperature indicator inks, adhesives and/or dyes. Lids may also be configured to seal storage containers that are equipped to accept application of such time-temperature indicators. Such inks, adhesives and/or dyes may be applied through the use of a pen or other instrument, for example. Such ink, adhesives and/or dyes may be capable of being removed, peeled-off or wiped away. Using a pen or a peel-off label for activation, a consumer can thus be warned of time and temperature storage conditions in a consumer environment. Such an indicator can be applied from a pen to a storage container or label. The applied mark will change color cumulatively according to time, temperature, and/or ambient storage conditions.
Detector Component: Thermochromic Dyes and Indicators
The detector component of the Universal Lid presented herein may contain thermochromic dyes and colorants to serve as an indicating means to show that a particular composition has been temperature activated for optimal use. Temperature ranges for thermochromic transitions can be below freezing to above boiling depending on the intended use of the thermochromic composition application. Thermochromic dyes can find use in a variety of compositions and applications and formats. Thermochromic dyes can include but are not limited to compounds including: bis(2-amino-4-oxo-6-methylpyrimidinium)-tetrachlorocuprate(II); bis(2-amino-4-chloro-6-methylpyrimidinium) hexachlorodicuprate(II); cobalt chloride; 3,5-dinitro salicylic acid; leuco dyes; spiropyrenes, bis(2-amino-4-oxo-6-methylpyrimidinium) tetrachlorocuprate(II) and bis(2-amino-4-chloro-6-methylpyrimidinium) hexachlorodicuprate(II), benzo- and naphthopyrans (Chromenes), poly(xylylviologen dibromide, di-beta-naphthospiropyran, Ferrocene-modified bis(spiropyridopyran), isomers of 1-isopropylidene-2-[1-(2-methyl-5-phenyl-3-thienyl)ethylidene]-succinic anhydride and the Photoproduct 7,7adihydro-4,7,7,7a-tetramethyl-2-phenylbenzo[b]thiophene-5,6-dicarboxyl- ic anhydride, and the like.
Other thermochromic dyes of interest include leuco dyes including color to colorless and color to color formulations, vinylphenylmethane-leucocyanides and derivatives, fluoran dyes and derivatives, thermochromic pigments, micro and nano-pigments, molybdenum compounds, doped or undoped vanadium dioxide, indolinospirochromenes, melting waxes, encapsulated dyes, liquid crystalline materials, cholesteric liquid crystalline materials, spiropyrans, polybithiophenes, bipyridine materials, microencapsulated, mercury chloride dyes, tin complexes, combination thermochromic/photochromic materials, heat formable materials which change structure based on temperature, natural thermochromic materials such as pigments in beans, various thermochromic inks sold by Securink Corp. (Springfield, Va.), Matusui Corp., Liquid Crystal Research Crop., or any acceptable thermochromic materials with the capacity to report a temperature change or can be photo-stimulated and the like. The chromic change agent selected will depend on a number of factors including cost, material loading, color change desired, levels or color hue change, reversibility or irreversibility, stability, and the like.
Alternative thermochromic materials can be utilized including, but not limited to light-induced meta-stable state in a thermochromic copper (II) complex. (Chem. Commun., 2002, (15), 1578-1579), which under goes a color change from red to purple for a thermochromic complex; [Cu(dieten)2](BF4)2 (dieten=N,N-diethylethylenediamine); encapsulated pigmented materials from Omega Engineering Inc.; bis(2-amino-4-oxo-6-methyl-pyrimidinium) tetrachlorocuprate(II); bis(2-amino-4-chloro-6-methylpyrimidinium) hexachlorodicuprate(II); cobalt chloride; 3,5-dinitro salicylic acid; leuco dyes; spiropyrenes, bis(2-amino-4-oxo-6-methylpyrimidinium)-tetrachlorocuprate(II); bis(2-amino-4-chloro-6-methylpyrimidinium) hexachlorod-icuprate(II); cobalt chloride; 3,5-dinitro salicylic acid; leuco dyes; spiropyrenes, bis(2-amino-4-oxo-6-methylpyrimidinium) tetrachlorocuprate(II) and bis(2-amino-4-chloro-6-methylpyrimidinium) hexachlorodicuprate(II), benzo- and naphthopyrans (Chromenes), poly(xylylviologen dibromide, di-beta-naphthospiropyran, Ferrocene-modified bis(spiropyridopyran), isomers of 1-isopropylidene-2-[1-(2-methyl-5-phenyl-3-thienyl)ethylidene]-succinic anhydride and the Photoproduct 7,7adihydro-4,7,7,7a-tetramethyl-2-phenylbenzo[b]thiophene-5,6-dicarboxyl- ic anhydride, and the like. Encapsulated leuco dyes are of interest since they can be easily processed in a variety of formats into a plastic or putty matrix. Liquid crystal materials can be conveniently applied as paints or inks to surfaces of color/shape/memory composites.
Thermochromic color to colorless options can include by way of example, but not by limitation: yellow to colorless, orange to color less, red to colorless, pink to colorless, magenta to colorless, purple to colorless, blue to colorless, turquoise to colorless, green to colorless, brown to colorless, black to colorless. Color to color options include but are not limited to: orange to yellow, orange to pink, orange to very light green, orange to peach; red to yellow, red to orange, red to pink, red to light green, red to peach; magenta to yellow, magenta to orange, magenta to pink, magenta to light green, magenta to light blue; purple to red, purple to pink, purple to blue; blue to pink; blue to light green, dark blue to light yellow, dark blue to light green, dark blue to light blue; turquoise to light green, turquoise to light blue, turquoise to light yellow, turquoise to light peach, turquoise to light pink; green to yellow, dark green to orange, dark green to light green, dark green to light pink; brown and black to a variety of assorted colors, and the like. Colors can be deeply enriched using fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark or photo-luminescent pigments as well as related color additives.
Reversible and irreversible versions of the color change agent can be employed depending on the desired embodiment of interest. Reversible agents can be employed where it is desirable to have a multi-use effect or to reuse the color change effect. For example, a reversible color change component is particularly useful during the manufacture of products with continued and repeated use value. Thus, it may be desirable to utilize a reversible thermochromic or luminescent material which can reappear during usage. In another example, it may be desirable to record a single color change permanently. In this case, it would be desirable to utilize a thermochromically irreversible material which changes from one color to another giving rise to a permanent change, and indicating that the composition should be discarded after use.
Thermochromic dyes can be added in amounts ranging from 0.001% by weight to 80% by weight. More usually, the dye additive will find use in the range of from 0.01% to 50% by weight. Usually, the additive will range in concentration from 0.1% to 25% by weight. Typically and most often, the colorant will be added in a range of from 0.5% to 5%.
Thermal diffusion and thermal delay can also be employed to add timing features to the Lid to accurately predict how long a lidded container has been exposed to a particular temperature of interest. Thicker areas for thermal delay will respond more slowly. Thin elements will respond more rapidly. The exact thickness of an element can therefore be predetermined to provide for use as a timing/temperature indicating means.
Detector Component: UV-Initiated Reversible Color Changes
The detector component of the Universal Lid presented herein may contain additives that display UV-initiated reversible color changes to indicate storage time, for example. Colloidal diacetylene compositions are readily polymerized using thermal polymerization and UV photopolymerization. The resulting polymer remains very stable in a broad range of organic and aqueous solvents. The thermochromic temperature transition may show robust thermochromic reversibility in a wide variety of solvent systems including harsh organic solvents such hexane, chloroform, acetone, ethanol and the like. The thermochromic transition is dictated by the fatty acid chain link. Chain links form C8 fatty acids through C40 fatty acids with a diacetylene moiety which may be synthesized, dymerized and polymerized. Thermochromic transitions may be obtained with pure dymerized Polydiacetylene polymers as well as plural compositions where the diacetylene polymer has been mixed with a thermally responsive composition such as paraffin, waxes, block co-polymers, plastics, silicon rubbers and the like.
Detector Component: Colorants and Pigments
The detector component of the Universal Lid presented herein may also contain fluorescent dyes and pigments. Various mediums and formats improve the coloration of the initial product matrix, as well as create a strong contrast in the composition matrix, which can indicate whether a contaminating species has been transferred into the matrix. Fluorescent dye compounds may include, but are not limited to: fluorescein, fluoresceine, resourcinol-phthalein, rhodamine, imidazolium cations, pyridoimidazolium cations, dinitrophenyl, tetramethylrhodamine and the like. A wide range of fluorescent dyes that are activated at various wavelengths and emit light at lower wavelengths can be purchased from Dayglo Inc., Swada Chemical, Sigma-Aldrich (Saint Louis, Mo.) or Molecular Probes (Eugene, Oreg.). Thus, a tagged or fluorescent polymer refers to polymers which fluoresce as a result of incorporation of a fluorescent moiety during polymerization.
Detector Component: Electro-Optical Polymers for Signal Indication
The Universal Lids described herein may also include an electroactive, electro-optical or non-linear optical polymer, for example, polyacetylene, polydiacetylene, polypyrrole, polyphenylene vinylene, polythiophene, polyisothianaphthene or polyaniline. When the Universal Lids comprise such a polymer, the increase or reduction in stress caused by the change in shape of the article can also change the electro-active, electro-optical or non-linear optical properties of the additional component, and the change in those properties can be used to provide (or to induce) an indicating and/or switching function.
Detector Component: Disposable/Reusable Sensors
The Universal Lids of the invention may also include disposable or reusable sensor compositions. Such compositions may be designed to sense various parameters, including but not limited to temperature, time, time-temperature, spoilage, gas type, and rancidness. By "disposable" is meant articles which are intended to be discarded after a single use. By "reuseable" is meant articles that may be used more than once, thereby replacing single-use products.
Detector Component: Optional RFID
In some embodiments, the Universal Lids described herein may optionally comprise Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs) in conduction with one or more of the chemical detector components described above. RFIDs can assist in tracking the freshness or expiration dates of food or other products placed into storage. Such devices are low-cost, passive or active "smart" chips or tags that can be embedded in or attached to articles, products, and the like, to convey information about the product via a scanner. Smart tags are generally small label-like devices with a micro-chip and miniature embedded antennae. The tags may be passive or active, the active tags requiring an internal power supply. A reader or scanner interrogates the smart tag with an electronic signal. In response to this signal, the tag in turn generates an electromagnetic pulse response that is readable by the scanner, the response containing the product information. RFID smart tags can be embedded in or attached to product packaging, storage systems, or incorporated directly into the product, and may convey conventional "bar code" information, as well as other more detailed information.
The scanner may be integrated with a computer system wherein the information may, for example, be entered and used to track the stored food products and perform any number of associated functions. For example, the system may issue an alert (visible, audible, or the like) when a stored product has expired or exceeded a pre-determined freshness date. The system may sort and display information about the stored products, organized such as, by date entered into storage, manufacturer's suggested expiration date, food group, date purchased, or any other desired criteria. The system may be interactive, wherein a user may edit or replace data stored in the smart tags (in which case the tags would be "active" tags). The system may provide the consumer with coded links to databases containing additional information on the stored products. For example, the smart tags may provide a URL code for the consumer to access an Internet web site concerning the food product.
Thus, the invention contemplates the incorporation of RFID devices into storage systems that communicate with receiving and recording equipment implemented in appliances.
Universal Lids: Gas Permeability Component
The Universal Lids described herein may also include a gas permeability component. Specifically, ambient gases given off by perishable products can be controlled by incorporating gas permeable agents into the lid composition. As such, the lid may include a gas permeability component to assist in ambient gas control. As used herein, the phrase "gas-permeability" refers to the transport of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide across a membrane. Unless otherwise noted, "gas-permeability" refers to all gases in general. Gases can be controlled by diffusion from a container sealed with a lid and/or by adsorption by of the gas by-product by compositions comprising a lid.
Gas Permeability Component: Ethylene Absorption
The gas permeability component may comprise an agent that absorbs ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is a naturally occurring growth hormone that builds up in all refrigeration units. (See Burg et al. "Ethylene Action and the Ripening of Fruits Ethylene influences the growth and development of plants," Science Vol. 148. no. 3674, pp. 1190-1196 (1965)).
Ethylene gas absorbing agents include, but are not limited to RD FRESH (Ethylene Inc.), which uses a proprietary mix of zeolite minerals and zeolite caged compounds (e.g., clinoptilolite and chabazite). These minerals have absorptive properties, and can include an activating agent (potassium permanganate) that specifically enhances the absorption of ethylene gas. The minerals have a unique 3-dimensional structure (similar to a honeycomb) consisting of interconnected tunnels and cages. Moisture molecules move freely into the tunnels, and are then trapped along with unwanted gases within the cages.
Filters manufactured by Ethylene Inc. comprise a non-toxic, odorless mineral formula that works like a large sponge to remove harmful ethylene gas. Filters manufactured by Ethylene Inc. maintain cold storage humidity at optimum levels and absorb problem odors. Such filters extend the life cycle of produce, flowers and even refrigerators themselves. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) reservoirs can be included as a juxtaposed element in the storage container to trap unwanted odors and prolong food storage.
Universal Lids according to the invention may also comprise gas permeable or gas quenching compositions, such as, for example, localized LANDEC "Intelligent Materials", mineral based materials, other catalysts and/or gas transfer/quenching agents.
Universal Lids: Storage Systems
The Universal Lids described herein may also be integrated into multi-functional food storage containers. Such multi-functional food storage containers may be capable of providing one or more of the following features: ethylene oxide transfer for sterilization, temperature insulation, reversible temperature indicators, port/re-usable placement of irreversible temperature indicators, time-temperature indicators ("TTIs"), low temperature and heating/cooking indicators, and/or spoilage indicators. Such multi-functional food storage containers may also be microwave, dishwasher, and freezer-safe.
Thus, embodiments of the invention include, but are not limited to, the use of the Universal Lids described herein in the manufacture of storage systems for food, perishable products, and ingestibles; as well as other accessories that combine one or more key elements, which enhance, prolong, diagnose, improve, sense, record, indicate, modulate, regulate, simplify, organize, and/or promote safety and handling with regard to food, perishable products, and other ingestibles. As such, the invention may comprise a sealed container comprising a container having an opening, and a compliant lid configured to seal at least two different containers that differ from each other by container opening size. The difference in opening size may be 5% or more, with respect to the diameter or length of the opening. Such lid:container systems may further include elastomeric, detector and/or gas permeability components, as described in more detail herein.
Storage Systems: Use of Lids with Disposable and/or Insulating Plastic
The Universal Lids described herein may include or be used in association with disposable and/or insulating plastic bags. Such plastic bags may have a high thermal capacitance multilayer insulation structure. Such a structure is of particular utility for thermal protection against exposure to alternate high and low radiant heat flux levels. Plastic bags of this sort may comprise, for example, walls of laminate, alternate metal foil or metallized plastic foil layers, and layers of material that are characterized by phase changes upon the absorption of heat. The foil layers may provide for high reflectance and reradiation of heat flux, while the phase change layers provide for absorption and storage of heat during periods of high heat flux.
Such disposable and/or insulating plastic bags that integrate multiple elements discussed herein. Specifically, such insulating plastic bags may also incorporate thermochromic indicators and/or gas permeable properties. The Universal Lids described herein can also comprise or be used in association with biodegradable packaging materials based on corn or other polymer blends. One example is a two-component blend composed of polycaprolactone (PCL) and native corn starch, modified by addition of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB).
Storage Systems: Use of UV Light During Packaging
A Universal Lid according to the invention, which may be stretched over any plastic or glass dish, for example, will often require sterilization prior to packaging. The integration of ultraviolet ("UV") light in the packaging process provides for rapid sanitation. UV light can effectively disinfect surface contaminants such as bacteria, yeast, mold and spores; however, it is only effective on contaminants that are exposed to and penetrated by the UV light. An apparatus having a central torus shape, i.e., a vessel with an inner surface forming a torus, or a donut, provides a useful geometry for the source of UV light for sterilization. Other shapes include bars or wands. Application of the source of UV light is employed prior to the molding processes described herein.
Storage Systems: Sealing of UV-Transparent Food Storage Containers
Universal Lids according to the invention may also be configured to seal UV-transparent food storage containers which may allow for simultaneous UV sterilization while foods are stored inside such containers. According to this embodiment, UV energy passes through the UV transparent packaging and/or wrapping material, but any ultraviolet light that passes through the material is then reflected back through the material towards the UV source. As such, the container but not its contents, is exposed to UV energy.
Storage Systems: Delivery of Preserving Material or Agents
Food, perishable, or ingestibles storage systems or components for use with the Universal Lids presented herein can also be designed to have a feature that delivers a set amount of a preserving material or agent into the food, perishable, or ingestible. Delivery of the preserving material or agent can benefit the storage process by physically or chemically enhancing the storage conditions.
Storage Systems: Sealing of Shapeable Plastic
Universal Lids according to the invention may also comprise shape/memory plastics for prolonging food storage and providing convenient spatial organization. For example, the Universal Lids may be configured to seal-shapeable plastic storage containers that can be reset in size and dimension by warming and/or cooling, with or without the addition of thermochromics.
The Universal Lids of the invention can also contain components within which heat can be generated in order to cause the article to change shape. For example, Universal Lids of this type can comprise a resistance element (composed, for example, of metal or a polymer having conductive particles dispersed therein) and means for passing an electric current through the resistance element, or can be composed of a material within which heat can be generated by induction heating, which involves increasing the temperature in a material by induced electric current, also known as "eddy-current" heating.
Self-configuring or morphological changing embodiments can be generated using shape/memory/optical changing compositions. For example, a flat or deformed layer comprised with shape/memory and/or color shifting materials can assume an initial shape. The shape/memory component can contain a relief material or additive which harbors an intrinsic shape pre-set in the composition. Upon warming, the object will assume its first state or configuration (e.g., a factory molded standard lid configuration).
Shape/memory materials with intrinsic optical properties can exhibit a plurality of shape/memory changes combined with single or multiple optical effects including but are not limited to thermochromic, photochromic, combined tactochromic and thermochromic effects, combined holographic and thermochromic effects, combined thermochromic and photochromic effects, combined photo-luminescent and thermochromic effects, various combined thermochromic effects such as liquid crystal effects and intrinsic color change effects from polydiacetylenes or alternative thermochromic materials, mechanochromic and thermochromic effects, pH sensitive color changes alone or in combination with other optical effects, and an assortment of related combined optical effects which exhibit synergy with the shape/memory change process. Particle additives of a variety of shapes and sizes can be combined with the shape/memory material to create attractive and interesting visual affects during the shaping, deformation, reshaping or shape memory process.
Depending on the shape/memory material composition and associated optical/change composition employed, it may be desirable to ensure the comprising composition does not stick or adversely adhere to itself during use. Lubricating agents or surfactants can be employed to facilitate non-stick or adherence properties.
Shape/memory material can be purchased from vendors such as BASF, DuPont, Bay Materials or the like. Shape/memory materials may also comprise polyethylene and/or polypropylene. Composites can be made with shape/memory plastics, vinyl, high and low impact plastics exotic polymers used for various industrial applications, epoxy resins where various ratios between the epoxy and hardener can be utilized, metals and metal alloys, bi-metal materials used in thermometers, comprised with components including rubbers, silicon-based materials, certain ceramic materials, pressure sensitive material, stampable materials, biologically compatible materials, carbohydrate based materials, organic lipophilic materials, waxes, biologically active materials, certain tissues such as muscle, skin or hair, bio-absorbable materials, glass compositions, ingestible materials, resins, epoxy-based composites and resins, glue and adhesive compositions, polyurethanes and derivatives (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan), shape memory alloys, shape-memory plastics (mnemoScience, Aachen, Germany), oligo-dimethacrylate, n-butylacrylate and related polymeric plastics, thermoplastic elastomers, networking polymeric systems, classes of polyesters, polymers based on monomers comprised with L,L-dilactide, diglycolide, and p-dioxanone, thermoplastic multi-blockco-polymers, macrodiols, homopolymers of lactide or glycolide compositions, or copolymers of lactide and glycolide groups, chiral and non-chiral polymers, polyvinyl chloride compositions, polyethylene terephthalate and analogs, and related materials possessing shape/memory characteristics.
Organic polymeric groups can range in molecular weight from less than about 1000 g/mol to more than about 10,000,000 g/mol. The shape/memory plastic selected, polymer composition and degree of polymerization will depend on the application of interest. The shape changing material may also comprise a composition which reversibly changes from one configuration to another and back again, irreversibly changes from one configuration to another and remains in its final shape, or can be formulated to possess intrinsic abilities to undergo various permutations with and without having memory of its initial or final configuration.
The absolute shape/memory change setting will depend on the product application of interest. For example lids may be prepared which change color and shape/color when warmed to about 100° F. At room temperature or below, the lid will have a solid plastic-like feel. The color or hue can be adjusted to correspond to a desired visual attractiveness for the lid. When the lid is touched, or exposed to temperatures near body temperatures (e.g., 75-90° F.) the corresponding color and shape will begin to change. The plastic embodiment will become softened and begin to deform. Likewise, the thermochromic material comprising the composition along with the shape/memory plastic will visually change color corresponding to the rise in temperature. When completely warmed above the softening temperature of the shape/memory material, the lid will be completely deformed to whatever configuration desired. When chilled back to room temperature or below, the plastic shape/color change embodiment will harden into its deformed configuration.
Temperature changes can be introduced with water, air, electrically conductive circuits, heat lamps, radiating heat sources, microwave heating where the shape/memory material has a microwave reactive component present, frictional heat induction, chemically induced heating, laser optically induced heating, semiconductor laser optically induced heating, resistive heating elements, Peltier plate induced heating, fluid circulating heating sources, solar heating, directed or open flames, burning rocket propellant, various forms of contact and conductive heating, heating body contact and the like.
Reversible and irreversible versions of the color change agent can be employed depending on the desired embodiment of interest. Reversible agents can be employed where it is desirable to have a multi-use effect or reuse the color change effect. For example, lid products with continued and repeated use value will find use of a reversible color change component comprising the final embodiment. In this case it would be desirable to utilize a reversible thermochromic or luminescent material which can be repeated during usage. In another example, it may be desirable to record a single color change permanently. In this case, it would be desirable to utilize a thermochromically irreversible material which changes from one color to another giving rise to a permanent massage.
Shapes can be made to change slowly or with rapid response time by adding relief layer composites, embedded springs, flexible stays, or relief additives. The relief layer or additive acts to accentuate a shape/memory effect. For example, a stiffened plastic thread can be coated with a shape memory material whereby the coating will be moldable at a temperature setting. Once molded and chilled to set the desired shape, the fixed shape strand will hold its configuration until it is warmed above the softening temperature of embodied composition. The softened shape/memory material will permit the stiffened plastic thread to resume its original structure and extend to its original position.
The shape/memory material and associated relief layer material can be formulated with 95% relief material to 5% shape/memory material. More usually, they are formulated with 50% relief material and 50% shape/memory material. Typically the shape/memory material will comprise from about 60 to 100% of the composition. The exact ratio of shape/memory material to relief material will depend on the desired final property of the embodiment or application of interest. The configuration, shape/memory composition, relief composition, and method for adjoining each component should be considered when designing the final embodiment.
The shape/memory/optical material can be comprised of an elastomeric material such that the elastic properties of the elastomer can be utilized to create spring or rubber band-like function. An associated elastomer can be stretched along with the entire comprising composition above the softening temperature of the shape/memory material. A shape can be enforced once the composition is made stiff at below the softening temperature of the shape/memory/optical material. Upon elevating the temperature of the composition above the softening and/or optical change transition temperature, the entire composition will respond elastically to its original configuration and optically visual appearance.
The shape/memory/optical material can be comprised as above with a flexible metal or plastic spring such that the spring will facilitate the conformational changes that the plural intrinsic composite undergoes. Any of a variety of other flexible, semi-rigid, elastomeric, load bearing, torsion bearing, friction bearing, or related materials can be employed as a facilitating means to impose initial and final conformations on the plural intrinsic shape/memory/optical change composition. By way of example, a sponge-like foam can be coated or contained within the shell of a shape/memory/optical change material such that a shape can be imposed and solidified by heating and cooling in an intended shape. Subsequent heating and softening will cause reformation to the initial molded shape assisted by the spring action from the entrapped foam lattice.
The shape/memory and/or color change materials will comprise from 0.01% to 100% of the lid embodiment. More usually, the shape/memory and/or color change materials will comprise from 0.1 to 100% and typically comprise from 1% to 100%.
In a further embodiment, a Universal Lid may include localized portions of the shape/memory and/or color change comprising material such that hinges, localized deformations, bends, protrusions, bulges, patterns, designs, extensions, and the like can be effected whereas the remaining portion of the final embodiment is unaffected by the shape/memory and/or color change process. Electrically conductive heating elements can be employed where conductive and/or resistive heating inks are printed into various or specific patterns to achieve a desired localized or patterned heating location on the embodiment.
In addition, plural compositions have applications for use with the Universal Lids and systems disclosed herein. By "plural composition" is meant a composition that incorporates thermal switching/responsive material in combination with a color-shift reporting element. Such a pleural composition would incorporate various intrinsic capabilities, including changing its physical properties, such as solid to liquid phase transition, viscosity, hardness, and related physical parameters, as well as changing its visual color, such as color hue, color density, opacity, and related optical characteristics.
In a further embodiment, a Universal Lid may comprise shape/memory materials that are comprised of inert plastics, strained wood, polymeric composites, foods, lift-off layers adhered to food layers whereby the food will change shape when the shape/memory material changes shape. For example, a sugar layer, edible paper layer, fondant layer or the like can be coated on a thermally responsive shape/memory material. The edible layer can be plain or colored with food color. Alternatively, the edible layer can be printed using a screen printing or ink jet printing method to create a graphic image, pattern, message or the like. When the laminate is exposed to heat, the shape/memory material will correspondingly change shape to a desired configuration. Graphics printed on the edible layer can be initially generated such that they are accurately displayed after the shape change has occurred. Prior to the shape change, the graphic may be confused, scrambled, or distorted.
Optical films that exhibit a visible color shift as a function of viewing geometry may also be employed. Such films exhibit a shift in apparent color as the observation or incidence angle changes. Filters that comprise a glass or other rigid substrate having a stack of inorganic isotropic materials deposited thereon can also exhibit color shifts. A variety of light transmissible materials can be used to create optical layers on such films. Examples include thermoplastic polymers that can be co-extruded from a multilayer die and subsequently cast and oriented in sequential or simultaneous stretching operations.
Storage Systems: Machine-Readable Chemistry and Device Configurations
The Universal Lids presented herein may also incorporate or be used in association with machine-readable chemistries and device configurations. Machine-readable chemistry and device configurations used with the Universal Lids described herein can include, but are not limited to various printed barcodes, Interactive barcodes, abuse security barcodes; 1D, 2D, and 3D; barcodes holographic barcodes, vision imaging systems, transient barcodes, time-only barcodes, freshness indicating barcodes, shape memory bar codes, and a variety of other applications and formats.
The Universal Lids described herein can be formulated and utilized in a variety of visual, scanning, imaging, and machine readable processes as they relate to temperature monitoring algorithms. Messages or codes can be made to appear or disappear; parts or elements of graphics, symbols or codes can be utilized to make the element, graphic, or code un-discernable or unrecognizable until that portion of the medium has changed with temperature or the like.
Visual readings are made with distinct visual determination of a threshold color change that occurs. Machine aided formats are made using an optical or electrical interpreted change in a color hue or conductive characteristic in a co-topo-chemical composition that undergoes a state threshold change. By way of example, but not limitation, a composition can be printed or formulated in a machine viewable format. A measurable reading may be taken of an initial colorimetric state. A second or sequential reading can be measured as threshold state occurs. During the transition from one state to another state, an instrumented reading can be registered. The threshold transition can be measured against a calibrated reading such that the degree or magnitude of the state threshold change can be recorded and monitored. Recorded and monitored machine measurements can be displayed by instrumentation utilized in the machine aided format.
Machine readable/responsive barcodes can be utilized for determining the presence of or response to a temperature fluctuation, visible light, ultra-violet light, irradiation for applications such as food sterilization including gamma and cobalt 60 irradiation levels, hydration, pressure changes, high pressure events including high pressure sterilization, contaminations such a heavy metal contamination, alcohol levels, poisons, chemical sensing, biological compositions, chemical reagents, non-specific analyte binding, specific analyte binding, gases, physical and mechanical responses, UV intensity, light intensity, sanitization conditions, mechanical stress conditions, pressurization formats, oxidation state, optical bleaching, end-of-use indication, time, time and temperature, free radical content, hydration state, skin care health, medical sterilization, clinical health status, indicating sensors on food storage containers medical status, security applications, anti-tampering applications, and any of a number of other measurable indicia.
Machine readable codes for indicating time duration for product shelf-life and use indication can be accomplished using sensing compositions that shift spectrally in response to ambient conditions and product storage.
A barcode may be embedded or obscured in conjunction with the Universal Lids, and such, can be selectively revealed upon triggering at set levels, concentrations or time points.
A range of barcode languages can be utilized that can be partially of fully associated the Universal Lids. Barcode types include, but are not limited to any language, a wide range in size and numbers of character, as well as the barcode language of interest: 39, 93, 128A, 128B, 128C,
A standard barcode or UPC code can be obscured, coated, embedded in or over-laid by a mixed or single component chromic change agent. Part of the standard bar code can be clearly visible at the beginning of reading so as to generate an initial starting parameter set. Selective portions of the barcode can be covered by discrete compositions that are set to change color at pre-determined temperature exposures. As the barcode is placed on a product type at a lowered temperature the chromic change agent can be activated. On activation, pre-determined elements of the code will be obscured by the optical density of the chromic change agent. The optical density of the barcode will be set such that a barcode reader will not be able register the obscured portion/bars that represent a specific code sequence. As the barcode/product is raised in temperature and as pre-selected temperature are achieved and exposed, a pre-determined section of bar code will be revealed (reversibly or irreversibly depending on the nature of the chromic change agent selected). As each temperature threshold is achieve during the temperature exposure process, each pre-determined/coated barcode region will be come machine readable.
Non-readable or partially readable barcodes utilizing single or mixed composition polydiacetylene as the obscuring agent are readily scanned for activity or inactivity in part or in whole.
Polydiacetylenes and other blue/black bar codes provide a unique optical masking characteristic that makes partially readable of fully non-readable part or all of the modified bar code. In addition the transition of a blue/black polydiacetylenic compound to a red or orange hue including but not limited to light pink to dark red hues, provides for high optical readability by most commercial barcode readers since the red, orange, pink or related hues are optically transparent to the red light sources utilized in standard barcode readers.
Readable barcode languages include but are not limited to Morovia Code 25, 11, 12B. 139. UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-8, EAN-13, code 128b, USS 39, USD 3, 3 of 9 code, code 39. hibcc. Java applet, logmars, full, symbology, industry 2 of 5, discrete, self checking codes, msi plesssey, one-dimensional barcodes, two-dimensional barcodes, three-dimensional barcodes, halographic barcodes, luminescent barcodes, and the like.
Universal Lids: Container Features
Examples of containers that may be sealed by the Universal Lids presented herein may include, but are not limited to lids for bowls, cups, cans, soda cans, wine bottle cork alternatives, wooden bowls, salad bowls, TUPPERWARE, RUBBERMAID brands, pots, pans, dishes, plates, bags, pouches, sacks, containers, containers with or without undercuts, storage boxes, thermos containers, and the like. The compliant, Universal Lids described herein may also serve as protective barriers, which can also be used for lap-top computers, books, documents, electronic components, radios, cell phones, palm pilots, laboratory equipment, flat screen displays and the like, to list a few non-limiting examples.
Container Features: Impeller Means
In certain further embodiments, containers used with the Universal Lids presented herein may comprise an impeller means which causes circulation of fluid or gas through lifting and agitation, thereby promoting fluid flow and exchange.
Container Features: Vacuum Pressurized System
Convenient vacuum pumping or pressurizing systems can also be employed in combination with any of the above food storage systems. For example, the food may be held in a sealed hard walled container which has as an integral part, a battery powered vacuum pump. The vacuum pump may be used to draw air from the food storage container portion of the apparatus, leaving the contained foodstuffs in a partial vacuum (e.g., FIG. 3 item 30). The foodstuffs stored in the container will then be exposed to very little air, and to the spoiling effects of air.
Container Features: Lunch Box
Universal Lids according to the invention may also be integrated into specific commercial items such as lunch boxes, for example. By way of example, such lunch boxes may be configured to provide illustrative and active warning indications to children, parents, students, and teachers regarding any perishables contained therein.
An example of a Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention is shown is FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.
In FIGS. 1 and 2, Universal Lid 10 comprises a central flex panel 12 having an outer surface 14 and an inner surface 16. An elastic edging 18 is at the periphery of the central flex panel 12. The elastic edging 18 may be a flat flange perpendicular to the center panel (i.e., a "skirt"), a flexible flap projecting upwards, or a mushroom-type feature, to list some non-limiting examples.
As shown here, elastic edging 18 has a hinge portion 20 and a rim portion 22. The hinge portion 20 allows the center flex panel 12 to move axially relative to the rim portion 22. Axial movement of the center flex panel 12 moves the rim portion 20 radially. When Universal Lid 10 is placed on a container 50, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, axial movement of the center flex panel 12 moves the rim portion 22 from the unsealing position of FIG. 2 to the sealing position of FIGS. 1 and 3 to create a seal for storage of the contents of the container. Thus, rim portion 22 may be considered as having an annular skirt which engages the outside surface of a container lip 24 when applied thereto. The skirt may also have an undercut 26, which protrudes from inside the skirt wall to the area under the container lip 24 to hold the Universal Lid 10 in place.
Undercut 26 resembles a groove which is structured and arranged to receive the edge 28 of container 50, which defines the opening of the container to be sealed. The undercut cooperates with the edge to facilitate attachment and sealing of the Universal Lid 10.
The terms radial and radially are used to describe the illustrated embodiment of the Universal Lid 10; however, other embodiments having non-circular shapes are also described wherein the radial direction corresponds to a direction generally outward from a center of the lid. The Universal Lid 10 shown in FIGS. 2-3 is a circular lid; however, other embodiments of the invention may include shapes such as squares, rectangles and ovals, to list a few non-limiting examples.
FIG. 4 provides an exploded cross-sectional view of an undercut 35 in the skirt portion 40 of a Universal Lid according to an embodiment of the invention. A first wall 50 extending downward at a first angle relative to the skirt 40 of the lid, and a second wall 35 extending downward from the first wall at a second angle relative to the lid skirt 40. The central flex panel is denoted by item 45.
Methods of Using
Aspects of the invention further include methods of using the Universal Lids described above. Generally, the methods of the invention will include sealing a container having an opening, and placing a Universal Lid having a detector component as described herein over the opening in order to seal the container. The container may contain food items, non-food items, or other perishables, for example. The container may be disposable, biodegradable and/or reusable. The method may further comprise detecting a signal from the Universal Lid, which has a detector component as described herein. The signal may be visual, such as, for example, a color change that is visible to the human eye, or it may be machine-readable, and therefore detectable by the aided eye, as described in further detail above and in Ribi et al., "Stylus-Substrate System for Direct Imaging, Drawing, and Recording" PCT application serial no. PCT/US07/26209 published as WO 2008/079357 (Atty. Docket No. SGAN-014WO); the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.
Universal Lids and methods of using the same, for example as described above, find use in a variety of different applications. One application of interest is "smart packaging." Examples of current and envisioned intelligent packaging which apply to the Universal Lids presented here include packages that (1) retain integrity and actively prevent food spoilage (shelf-life); (2) enhance product attributes (e.g. look, taste, flavor, aroma, etc.); (3) respond actively to changes in product or package environment; (4) communicate product information, product history or condition to a user; (5) assist with opening and indicate seal integrity; and (6) confirm product authenticity, and act to counter theft.
Also provided are systems that include one more Universal Lids of the invention, as described above. In addition to the Universal Lids of the invention, the systems may include associated containers, with sensing and/or reporting elements imbedded therein. Sensing and reporting elements of interest include those described in Ribi et al., "Discrete Tunable Sensing Elements and Compositions for Measuring and Reporting Status and/or Product Performance" PCT application no. PCT/US2006/060871 published as WO/2007/111702 (Atty Docket No. SGAN-012WO), for example; the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference. As described in this incorporated application, sensing and reporting elements may be embedded, attached, molded or otherwise internalized into the body of products, such as the Universal Lids described herein.
Also provided are kits for using the subject compositions and practicing the subject methods. Kits may include one or more Universal Lids of the invention, as described above. The Universal Lids of the kits will be equipped to seal the openings of at least two different containers having container opening sizes (e.g., in terms of diameter) that differ from each another by, for example, 5% or more, such as, by 10% or more, 20% or more, 25% or more, 50% or more, 75% or more, 100% or more, etc. Where desired, the kits may also include one or more containers having an opening. A given kit may include sufficient Universal Lids and containers to make 1 or more, including 5 or more, such as 50 or more, 100 or more, 1000 or more, 5000 or more, or 10000 or more sealed storage systems.
The subject kits may also include instructions for how to practice the subject methods using the components of the kit. The instructions may be recorded on a suitable recording medium or substrate. For example, the instructions may be printed on a substrate, such as paper or plastic, etc. As such, the instructions may be present in the kits as a package insert, in the labeling of the container of the kit or components thereof (i.e., associated with the packaging or sub-packaging) etc. In other embodiments, the instructions are present as an electronic storage data file present on a suitable computer readable storage medium, e.g. CD-ROM, diskette, etc. In yet other embodiments, the actual instructions are not present in the kit, but means for obtaining the instructions from a remote source, e.g. via the internet, are provided. An example of this embodiment is a kit that includes a web address where the instructions can be viewed and/or from which the instructions can be downloaded. As with the instructions, this means for obtaining the instructions is recorded on a suitable substrate.
Some or all components of the subject kits may be packaged in suitable packaging to maintain sterility. Where desired, the components of the kit are packaged in a kit containment element to make a single, easily handled unit, where the kit containment element may be a box or analogous structure and may or may not be an airtight container.
The following examples are offered by way of illustration and not by way of limitation.
Temperature indicating lid composition: A universal lid composition was prepared using VERSAFLEX CL2000X, a thermo polymer elastomer (GLS Corp.). The resin was extruded using a 1 inch 3 zone extruder set at 250° F., 390° F., and 370° F. for zones 1, 2, and 3 respectively. A dried finely ground thermochromic powder (10° C. vermillian, blue, black, yellow, turquoise, pink, brilliant green, brown, or other available colors from Matsui Corp.) was added and blended at 1.5% by weigh and coated onto the CL2000X resin. The resin/composition was extruded at 90 rpm into elongated ingots.
Compression molded universal lid: The temperature indicating composition in ingot form in Example 1 above was compression molded using a pre-machined aluminum molded (6061) into pre-determined lid shapes comprising a top surface (0.06 inch thick and an undercut edge band). The undercut edge band was 0.125 inches thick and 0.75 inches tall.
Temperature indication and utility of a universal lid: The universal lid molded in Example 2 above was stretched over a variety of container types storing liquids, perishables, food types, or other substances. The lid was compressed in the middle to create permanent vacuum for enhanced storage conditions. The lid transitioned from a light translucent clear color to a dark temperature indicating color upon cooling to 10° C. The lid held its vacuum at room temperature, refrigerator temperature, and sub-zero temperatures.
Triple utility temperature indicating and gas control universal lid: A triple utility universal lid that possessed a highly elastomeric component, a thermochromic component, and a gas control element was prepared using the composition in Example 1, along with 2% by weight of a gas active mineral (clinoptilolite and chabazite). The blended composition was molded using injection molding to mold an 8 inch diameter lid, which was similar in dimension to that prepared in Example 2 above.
Use of triple utility universal lid: The universal lid molded in Example 4 above was stretched over a variety of container types storing liquids, perishables, food types, or other substances. The lid was compressed in the middle to create permanent vacuum for enhanced storage conditions. The lid transitioned from a light translucent clear color to a dark temperature indicating color upon cooling to 10° C. The lid held its vacuum at room temperature, refrigerator temperature, and sub-zero temperatures. The gas deactivating mineral additive assisted in reducing the ripening effects due to gases emitted by food types stored in the sealed container compared with non-sealed food types.
Multi-utility temperature indicating and gas permeability universal lid
A multi-utility universal lid that possessed a highly elastomeric component, a thermochromic component, and a gas permeability element was prepared using the composition in Example 1 along with 5% by weight of a semi-permeable component (INTERLEMER composition, Landec Corporation). The blended composition was molded using compression molding to mold an 8 inch diameter lid, which was similar in dimension to that prepared in Example 2 above.
Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail by way of illustration and example for purposes of clarity of understanding, it is readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the teachings of this invention that certain changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit or scope of the appended claims.
Accordingly, the preceding merely illustrates the principles of the invention. It will be appreciated that those skilled in the art will be able to devise various arrangements which, although not explicitly described or shown herein, embody the principles of the invention and are included within its spirit and scope. Furthermore, all examples and conditional language recited herein are principally intended to aid the reader in understanding the principles of the invention and the concepts contributed by the inventors to furthering the art, and are to be construed as being without limitation to such specifically recited examples and conditions. Moreover, all statements herein reciting principles, aspects, and embodiments of the invention as well as specific examples thereof, are intended to encompass both structural and functional equivalents thereof. Additionally, it is intended that such equivalents include both currently known equivalents and equivalents developed in the future, i.e., any elements developed that perform the same function, regardless of structure. The scope of the present invention, therefore, is not intended to be limited to the exemplary embodiments shown and described herein. Rather, the scope and spirit of present invention is embodied by the appended claims.
Patent applications in class Combined or convertible
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