Patent application title: PACK HAVING TEAR-OPEN AID
Othmar Weber (Ternitz, AT)
Johannes Piesslinger (Bad Erlach, AT)
IPC8 Class: AB65D554FI
Class name: Paperboard box having means to facilitate opening the box by severing (e.g., tearing, cutting, piercing, etc.) box material or outer wrapper specified detail of a score or perforation (e.g., size, spacing, etc.)
Publication date: 2011-09-29
Patent application number: 20110233267
The invention relates to a pack in the form of a stick or cushion,
consisting of one or two sheets (7, 7'), which has at least one aluminum
layer facing the contents and one layer, which faces away from the
contents, is areally connected to the aluminum layer and is made of
polyethylene terephthalate (PET layer) or other materials, having a
tear-open aid in one of the outer surfaces, which comprises a weakening
line in the PET layer.
The invention is characterized in that the tear-open aid has at least two
weakening lines (4, 5), the point of intersection of which in the outer
surface lies at a distance from the nearest edge of the pack, and in that
the angle between the weakening lines at the point of intersection is
between 60° and 90° .
1. A packet for packaging contents, the packet comprising: one or two
sheets, each sheet having at least one aluminum layer facing the packet
contents and at least one outer surface layer that faces away from the
packet contents, where the outer surface layer is made of at least one
material selected from the group consisting of polyethylene terephthalate
(PET), paper, oriented polypropylene (OPP) and oriented polyamide (OPA),
and where the additional layer is connected to an aluminum layer over
substantially their entire areas; wherein the packet has a tear-open aid
in the outer surface layer, the tear-open aid including at least two
intersecting weakening lines in the outer surface layer.
2. The packet as claimed in claim 1, wherein the point of intersection of the at least two intersecting weakening lines in the outer surface layer is non-coincident with the nearest edge of the pack.
3. The packet as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a second tear-open aid on an opposite outer surface of the packet, configured so that the two tear-open aids are substantially aligned with one another.
4. The packet as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one of the tear-open aids includes double or multiple parallel weakening lines.
5. The packet as claimed in claim 1, wherein one of the weakening lines extends parallel to an adjacent edge of the packet.
6. The packet as claimed in claim 1, wherein the point of intersection of the weakening lines is disposed in a corner region of the packet, and wherein one of the weakening lines extends toward the corner.
7. The packet as claimed in claim 6, wherein the packet has a rectangular or square outline, and the point of intersection of the weakening lines lies on an angle bisector of the corner at a distance of 15 to 25 mm from the apex of the corner.
8. The packet as claimed in claim 5, wherein the distance of the weakening line from the adjacent edge is between about 3 and about 20 mm.
9. The packet as claimed in claim 4, wherein the spacing between adjacent double or multiple parallel weakening lines is less than about 1 mm.
10. The packet as claimed in claim 1, wherein the packet has the form of a stick or cushion.
11. The packet as claimed in claim 2, wherein the angle defined by the at least two intersecting weakening lines is between 60.degree. and 90.degree. .
12. The packet as claimed in claim 5, wherein the distance of the weakening line from the adjacent edge is between about 10 and about 15 mm.
13. The packet as claimed in claim 4, wherein the spacing between adjacent double or multiple parallel weakening lines is less than about 0.5 mm.
14. The packet as claimed in claim 4, wherein the spacing between adjacent double or multiple parallel weakening lines is less than about 0.1 mm.
 The invention relates to a pack having a tear-open aid in
accordance with the preamble of claim 1.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,762,514 discloses a bag-like pack for drinks, made of two substantially parallel or symmetrically arranged sheets, in the case of which a piercing aid for a drinking straw is provided. The piercing aid consists of a plurality of weakening lines which proceed in a star-like manner from a center and have a length of between 2 mm and 20 mm. In a variant in the case of a stand-up bag, crossed weakening lines are provided in a roughened region. The roughenings are intended to prevent the drinking straw from slipping off. In a third variant, radially extending weakening lines which, however, do not reach the center are provided; in a fourth variant, a plurality of weakening lines which are parallel but at an angle to the outline of the bag are provided. In these variants, too, the weakening lines have a length of 2 mm to 20 mm. It is mentioned that such piercing aids can be provided on both bag surfaces. A means of accessing the content of the bag other than using a drinking straw is not disclosed. The content of the cited document is incorporated by reference into the present application for jurisdictions in which this is possible, in particular for the USA.
 Weakening lines which are arranged in a star-like manner and furthermore are formed in a "dotted" manner are known also from DE 295 10 276 in the case of a confetti package. This consists of a fully filled axisymmetrical bag which is tied together like a sack at the top and has the weakening at the bottom. When the bag is thrown, it bursts open in the weakening region when it hits an obstacle and releases the confetti. The content of the cited document is incorporated by reference into the present application for jurisdictions in which this is possible, in particular for the USA.
 U.S. Pat. No. 1,939,794 discloses a wrapping paper, in which once an article, but preferably a plurality of articles which can be removed individually, have been wrapped, the overlapping regions of the paper are stuck together. In order to make it easier to remove the articles, which are arranged in an aligned manner along a cylinder axis, separately, and also to give the opened pack an attractive appearance, weakening lines are provided. These extend on the one hand normal to the wrapping axis in the abutment region of the individual articles, in order to make it easier to separate them out; on the other hand they extend parallel to the wrapping axis along generatrices, in order that the wrapping of the individual article can be torn open easily. The wrapping paper has no other use than for packing a plurality of stacked articles. The content of the cited document is incorporated by reference into the present application for jurisdictions in which this is possible, in particular for the USA.
 DE 84 28 908 U discloses a shrink film, in which, in order to unpack the article packed thereby more easily, provision is made of longitudinally and transversely extending double weakening lines, which form a "tear-off strip" in each case between one another. When in one region a piece of the tear-off strip is exposed and grasped, the pack can be opened without any further problems by tearing off the strip in an appropriate manner. In order to enable grasping, finger openings are provided in the strip region, and therefore the pack is not impervious. The content of the cited document is incorporated by reference into the present application for jurisdictions in which this is possible, in particular for the USA.
 In particular, but not exclusively, the invention relates to what is known as a child-proof pack made of a multi-layered sheet having at least one outer plastic layer mostly consisting of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and at least one inner aluminum layer, which thus faces the contents. Instead of the PET layer, which will always exclusively be mentioned hereinbelow for greater clarity, a layer of paper, oriented polypropylene (OPP) or oriented polyamide (OPA) can also be used.
 In practice, such multi-layered sheets consist of substantially more layers. An additional polyethylene layer is nearly always present inside the aluminum layer; on the outside, the usually likewise multi-layered print is applied above the PET layer, up to a transparent protective layer for the printing image, but all this is not essential for the aim of the present invention, namely easier opening of such a pack, and therefore does not need to be explained any further.
 Packs made of such sheets are widely used for medicaments, with the aluminum sheet being used on account of its outstanding shielding effect (barrier layer) against all external influences and the PET sheet is used on account of its high mechanical strength. This is also used, if desired, to make the finished pack "child-proof", there being various statutory criteria or criteria defined by standards or conventions for when such a pack should be designated child- proof. In any case, on account of the structure mentioned, it is not simple to open the pack without aids, and therefore various measures were taken in the prior art to make opening easier here without as far as possible losing childproofing.
 In this respect, reference is made in particular to US 2008/0038415 A1, which, in the case of a stick made of such a multi-layered sheet, provides a weakening line which does not reach as far as the edge so that it is necessary when opening to fold the stick in the regions of the weakening line and then to tear it open along the weakening line. Since it is assumed that children will not fold the stick, this pack is to be considered child-proof despite the weakening line. Since folding only takes place "in the region of the weakening line", it is often not simple for adults to open this pack.
 With regard to the term "stick", it should also be stated that this is to be understood as including a tubular bag, in which a sheet is formed into a tube along a longitudinal seam and the tube is divided up into individual volumes in predetermined portions by transverse seams. In this case, the longitudinal seam is usually arranged approximately in the middle of the length of the transverse seams, resulting in a viewing surface on the surface opposite the longitudinal seam and, as a result of the transverse seams, two usually extremely rounded side edges which are produced by bending the tube material and tend to be sharp-edged in the region of the transverse seams, since they are of course welded together in the region of the transverse seams. Therefore, users prefer to attempt to open the pack in the region of one of the transverse seams starting from one of the side edges. Longitudinal seam and transverse seam are understood to mean adhesive or sealing strips, by means of which the tubular sheet is joined to itself in an impervious manner in the seam region.
 A more bag-like or cushion-like pack, which has a longitudinal seam and transverse seams, but in which an opening aid is arranged at the point which is obvious even for children, and therefore cannot be considered to be child-proof, is known from U.S. Pat. No. 3,608,815. A special form having a plurality of weakening regions is disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,102,571, with a further weakening region being provided in particular in the region of the longitudinal seam, where the sheet is in a three-layer form and is particularly difficult to open, in order to make opening easier. Such consideration of the problems in the region of the longitudinal seam in the case of a stick is also disclosed in EP 1 152 947. The contents of the cited documents are incorporated by reference into the present application for jurisdictions in which this is possible, in particular for the USA.
 In addition to sticks, there also exist as packs, in particular in the medical field, what are known as cushions, in which the pack consists of two, usually identical and symmetrically arranged sheets, which are connected, usually sealed, together along the periphery of the pack. In one configuration, it is possible to fold a sheet over along one side edge and thus to create a pack which, when it is in a square form, has sealing seams on three sides and the fold-over of the sheet on the fourth side. The latter construction represents an approximation to the sticks, but in the case of the sticks, the longitudinal seam is always in the middle of one of the two outer surfaces, whereas in the case of the cushion it forms a side seam and cannot be distinguished technically from the transverse seams.
 It is now the object of the invention to specify an opening aid for sticks and cushions, as a result of which opening aid childproofing, in particular, is not compromised.
 According to the invention, this is achieved by the features given in the characterizing part of claim 1.
 The invention thus essentially provides, at a distance from the edge of the sticks or of the cushion, two intersecting weakening lines in at least one of the pack surfaces, each of which weakening lines preferably extends in a straight line, wherein the angle between the weakening lines at the point of intersection is between 60° and 90° .
 This makes it possible in the case of sticks, as well, in particular those according to the initially mentioned US 2008/0038415 A1, to make opening easier, since the pack material can easily be folded over along one weakening line and also precisely in the appropriate region of the other weakening line, along which tearing open takes place. In this connection, it should also be noted that it is unfavorable to position the weakening lines on the surface of the sticks in said document on account of the undesired escape of the content. The other initially mentioned documents are not of the generic type; in particular U.S. Pat. No. 4,762,514, which is mentioned first, can only be found and redesigned by ex-post consideration, despite similar measures.
 In the case of sticks and particularly of cushions, in which it is harder to grasp and fold one of the pack surfaces per se than it is in the case of sticks, it is provided that such weakening lines are formed in an aligned manner on both pack surfaces. In particular in this variant, it is advantageous to provide at least the tear-open line in a double or multiple form; i.e. to provide two or more weakening lines extending parallel to one another at a small distance apart, since when the two pack surfaces are folded, the tear-open lines are usually not precisely aligned. The distance to be maintained is substantially smaller than that between the weakening lines mentioned initially in the case of the wrapping paper and the shrink film, which are of course intended to form mechanically stable strips between one another. Preferably, this distance is under a millimeter, very preferably under half a millimeter, and particularly preferably under 0.1 mm.
 Multiplication ensures that, despite the usual displacements that occur during folding, tear-open lines are always present that are de facto aligned with one another. This applies mutatis mutandis to the fold lines. In the following, for the sake of clarity, only one weakening line is ever referred to, except in the explanations specifically relating to the multiplication. In the case of such multiplication, the expression "point of intersection" becomes an intersection surface, the small dimensions of which, however, ensure that the same applies to it as is established with respect to the point.
 In a first variant, one of the weakening lines extends parallel to the adjacent edge of the pack and the other extends substantially normal thereto; in this case, the point of intersection thereof is located preferably some distance from the nearest corner of the pack. In this variant, the weakening line which extends parallel to the adjacent edge is usually the fold line and the weakening line extending normal thereto is the tear-open line. The distance between the fold line extending parallel to the adjacent edge and the latter is in this case preferably between 3 and 20 mm, particularly preferably between 10 and 15 mm. This makes grasping and bending easier.
 In another embodiment, the point of intersection is located near to one of the corners of the pack, but outside the region of the sealing seam or sealing seams, and the two weakening lines are rotated through about 45° with regard to the edges of the pack. In this variant, in order to tear open the entire pack, the weakening line which cuts off the corner is preferably the fold line and the weakening line which runs into the corner is preferably the tear- open line. If only a small opening is intended to be created, then the functionality of the lines is swapped; this can be indicated easily by corresponding labeling.
 The point of intersection of the two, if appropriate multiple, weakening lines is preferably moved so far into the corner that it allows comfortable grasping of the package in order to tear it open. The fold line should be at least in each case 15 mm, preferably 20 mm to 25 mm long on both sides of the point of intersection; the weakening line, which makes folding easier and ensures that it takes place at the correct location, can be much shorter. In the case of rectangular or square package outlines, this means that the point of intersection lies on the angle bisector at a distance of 15 to 25 mm from the corner.
 The mode of operation of the pack is as follows:
 The user folds the pack about one of the two weakening lines and tears it open along the other of the two weakening lines. In the first variant, the user folds the pack about the weakening line extending parallel to the adjacent edge and tears the pack open normal to this edge; in the case of the arrangement in the corner, the user folds the pack about the weakening line virtually cutting off the corner and tears the pack open, starting from the corner region, diagonally, actually along the angle bisector, in the case of rectangular or square packages at around 45° .
 As emerges from what has been stated, it is advantageous to arrange the two weakening lines on one of the outer surfaces of the pack in an aligned manner with analogous weakening lines on the opposite side of the pack, so that the weakening line along which the user tears open the pack is actually a double weakening line, since it is present equally in both sheet regions to be torn open.
 The invention will be explained in more detail in the following text with reference to the drawing, in which:
 FIG. 1 shows a first embodiment in plan view and schematic section,
 FIG. 2 shows a second embodiment in a view analogous to that in FIG. 1, and
 FIG. 3 shows a variant.
 FIG. 1 illustrates a cushion-like pack, which is formed from two, preferably identical sheets 7, 7'. A substantially rectangular pack 1 is bounded by four sealing seams 2, 3. In this case, the sealing seams 2 extend parallel to one another and the two sealing seams 3 likewise extend parallel to one another, but normal to the sealing seams 2.
 The secondary figure of FIG. 1 illustrates a purely schematic section along the line A-A, with the illustration of the contents and the sealing seam 3 located in the viewing direction of the section being omitted in order that the essential details are illustrated. The two sealing seams 2 can be seen in the secondary figure and the two sheets 7, 7' of which the pack 1 consists are clearly visible. It should be noted that a section normal to the line A-A would look exactly the same.
 According to the invention, the opening aid according to the invention in the form of two weakening lines 4, 5 is provided in the region of one of the sealing seams 2, 3. In this case, the weakening line 4 extends parallel to the adjacent edge 2 and the weakening line 5 extends substantially normal (commonly perpendicular) thereto. These two weakening lines are provided not only in the upper sheet 7 which can be seen in FIG. 1 but also aligned therewith in the view of FIG. 1 in the sheet 7' located thereunder. The user thus uses the weakening line 4 as a bending line, as a result of which the weakening line 5, along which the package 1 is torn open, comes into the edge region which is of course now formed by the bending line 4, and the package can now be torn open easily along the weakening line 5, although it is now twice as thick in this region.
 The arrangement and length of the weakening lines 4, 5 depends on the size of the pack 1, the contents thereof and on the answer to the question as to whether the pack is intended to be divided at least substantially into two parts or whether it is sufficient to create a removal opening.
 Usually, pills, lozenges, contact lenses, pulverulent or granular substances, which are intended to be transferred from the pack into another container, or else gel-like or other viscous materials which are intended to be taken by the user, are packed in such packs in the field of medicine. It can be gathered, even from this enumeration, that there are very different removal options and that a large variety of forms of the opening aid according to the invention result therefrom. In the case of applications with other contents, for example for spices, for expensive, in particular small-format components in the field of electronics, or the cosmetics industry, there are even more conditions imposed on the opening of such cushions or sticks.
 FIG. 2 illustrates a variant in which the weakening lines 4, 5 have been moved into one of the corners of the pack 1, and extend substantially in the angle bisector of the sealing seams 2, 3 or normal to the first weakening line. In this case, it is possible to bend the pack about the weakening line 4 and then to tear it open along the weakening line 5, thus substantially diagonally to the pack. It can be seen that it is thus possible to create a very large opening in the splayed apart state without there being the risk of a one-piece article, for example a contact lens, accidentally being shaken out or lost.
 It is also possible to bend the pack about the weakening line 5 and to tear it open along the weakening line 4, as a result of which, given an appropriate length of the weakening line 4, the corner of the pack is severed. This proves to be particularly useful when piece-form or liquid material is intended to be removed from the pack 1, for example consumed.
 FIG. 2 also shows a variant of the pack 1 per se, specifically a pack which consists only of one sheet 7 which is folded over along an edge 6 and is closed along the three remaining edges by sealing lines 2, 3. This is also clearly visible in the secondary figure, which again shows a schematic section along the line A-A. Of course, it is also possible here to provide an opening aid analogous to that in FIG. 1. Said opening aid can, if easy opening is desired, by provided in the region of the fold-over edge 6, since it is then not necessary to tear through one of the sealing seams when the pack is bent about the weakening line parallel to the edge 6 and subsequently opened.
 FIG. 3 shows a variant of the invention in the case of what is known as a stick, again in plan view and schematic section. It can be seen that in this case, two fold-over edges 6 are present, since the corresponding sealing seams or the sealing seam 2 have or has been displaced to the middle of one of the surfaces and forms the longitudinal seam 2' there. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated, the weakening line 4 for bending parallel to the longitudinal seam and the weakening line 5 for tearing open normal thereto were shown.
 It is clear that it is possible to vary the angle between the two weakening lines 4, 5. However, if the small angle between them becomes less than 60° , problems when tearing open can occur, for which reason an arrangement which is as far as possible at right angles is preferred. Whether this arrangement is parallel to one of the side edges or seams or, as illustrated in FIG. 2, symmetrical about the angle bisector between two edges in a corner, depends on the abovementioned circumstances.
 The weakening lines 4, 5 are provided in the PET layer, since it is of course this layer which determines the mechanical tearing strength of the cover of the pack 1. At the same time, this provides a first visual aid for finding the opening point. This orientation aid is preferably enhanced by a corresponding design of the printing on the pack 1. The weakening lines 4, 5 can be produced in any known way, thus mechanically or else, preferably, by means of a high-power beam, preferably by means of a laser. The adaptation of the wavelength and power of the laser to the material used is not a problem for the person skilled in the art with knowledge of the invention and the field of application, and likewise guiding the laser with respect to the sheet, and therefore there is no need to go into this in more detail.
 With regard to the weakening lines 4, 5 themselves, it should also be stated that they do not have to extend in straight lines but can also be waved or curved; they can absolutely be formed in a very different manner to the purely schematically illustrated lines. They can be lines where the PET layer has either only been weakened or even at least substantially removed; the lines can be continuous or they can be dotted or dashed lines. The production and effect on the opening characteristics are known and widely described. With knowledge of the invention, they can also be brought to the desired values by means of a few simple tests.
 Finally it is possible, as already stated, to provide one or both of the lines in double or multiple form, for example the fold line about which the sheets of the pack are bent in order to make this bending easier.
 It is essential, but, as with the previously known weakening lines and tear-open aids, already known, that the protective function of the pack remains fully retained in the region of the weakening lines 4, 5, i.e. the aluminum layer, which of course fulfills this function, must not be damaged or impaired.
 The pack does not have to be square or even rectangular at all. Polygonal outlines and even those having an outline that is curved at least in portions can also be used. The expressions "parallel to" and "normal to" should then relate to tangents or secants of this portion.
Patent applications by Johannes Piesslinger, Bad Erlach AT