Patent application title: TAMPER-PROOF PACKAGE WITH ADHESIVE ASSIST ZIP CLOSURE AND METHOD FOR USING THE SAME
Andrew W. Bowling (Long Island, VA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65B702FI
Class name: Package making methods closing package or filled receptacle
Publication date: 2010-10-14
Patent application number: 20100257822
A one-use, tamper-evident and tamper-proof package with an adhesive,
seal-assist zip closure. The zip closure with an adhesive seal assist is
suitable for transporting valuable and/or important items in a secure
manner. The subject zip closure is a pressure joined, interlocking
assembly. The interlocking assembly also comprises an adhesive, such as a
microencapsulated adhesive or other specialty adhesive, that is activated
when the interlocking zip assembly is secured. The adhesive provides a
seal assist that prevents the interlocking assembly from being opened
without tampering with or otherwise opening the packaging in a
1. A one-time use, non-resealable, tamper-evident package for secure
storage comprising:a package opening for inserting an item into the
package;a zip closure arranged to close the package opening, the zip
closure comprising:an elongated female portion and a corresponding
elongated male portion;the female portion comprising a base wall, at
least one elongated female channel associated with the base wall, the
female channel having a trough-like shape partially enclosed by at least
one upper wall;the male portion comprising a male base wall, a male
member extending from the base wall, the shape of the male member
corresponding to the shape of the female channel, and a stem connecting
the male member to the male base wall; andan adhesive in the female
channel, the adhesive sealing the male member within the female channel
when the male member is forcibly inserted into the female channel.
2. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the package comprises a material selected from the group comprising cardboard, co-extruded foam, foam, bubble wrap, vinyl, paper, plastic, composite, textile and some combination thereof.
3. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the adhesive selected from the group comprising a microencapsulated adhesive, a pressure sensitive adhesive, a membrane-protected adhesive, and some combination thereof.
4. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the adhesive is a microencapsulated adhesive.
5. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the adhesive is an acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive.
6. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the female channel extends away from the female base wall.
7. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the female channel further comprises an elongated aperture, the male member insertable through the aperture into the female channel.
8. The package as described in claim 1, where at least one of the male or female base walls are integrally formed with the package.
9. The package as described in claim 1, wherein the at least one female channel comprises two channels separated by a raised ridge.
10. The package as described in claim 1, further comprising a slide, the slide comprising a structure with apertures corresponding to the shape of the female portion and male portion, the slide moving along the length of the elongated female and male portions.
11. The package as described in claim 10, wherein the slide is removable from the zip closure.
12. A method for sealing a package in a tamper-evident, one-time use manner, the method comprising:providing a zip closure on a package, the zip closure comprising male and female portions, the female portion further comprising a channel;securing an adhesive in the channel of the female portion;forcibly inserting the male zip closure portion into the female zip portion;placing opposing forces on the male portion and female portions; andsealing the male member in the female channel via the adhesive.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to one-use, tamper-evident and/or tamper-proof packaging and, more particularly, to packaging with an adhesive seal-assist zip locking closure. The subject apparatus provides a zip closure with an adhesive seal assist suitable for transporting valuable and/or important items in a secure manner. In one embodiment, the zip closure is a pressure joined, interlocking assembly. An adhesive, such as a microencapsulated adhesive or other specialty adhesive, is activated when the interlocking zip assembly is secured. The adhesive provides a seal assist that ensures the interlocking assembly is closed in a non-reusable manner.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Tamper evident, high security packaging is highly important for courier services, interbank transfers, or other services and uses where the security and integrity of the package contents is valued. However, current packaging offerings do not provide adequate security and tamper-evident solutions. For instance, the primary packaging for critical documents sent by courier services (such as Federal Express, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, and the like) comprises flexible sleeves or rigid boxes with adhesive-sealed `flaps`. In use, a user places the items to be delivered into the packaging. A user seals the package shut by adhering the flap to the package. Similar type packaging is used for interbank, chain of custody, HIPAA, and evidence related courier/mail services.
Pressure sensitive adhesives are typically used, but there is a need to protect the adhesive prior to closing the package flap or seal. As such, typical packaging requires that the user remove an optional protective layer that selectively covers an adhesive strip. With or without the releasable protective layer, the flap is then pressed against the packaging so that the exposed adhesive secures the flap to the body of the packaging. In this manner, the package is closed. Opening the package involves the ripping a scored portion in the body of the package. However, it is also possible to tamper with the adhesive to open and reseal the package.
Basically, while this type of packaging is commonly used, it does not provide proper security for a user's contents. It is not tamper proof and does not provide evidence of tampering. The adhesively sealed flap can be steamed, heated, frozen, or otherwise opened without altering the package. It is also possible to slide a flat instrument under the flap to separate the flap from the package. Additional adhesive can then be applied to reseal the envelope or box. In any event, the flap can be resealed without any or sufficient indication that the package has been opened. For this reason, it is also possible to reuse these packages.
It is understood in the art that it is difficult to find a pressure sensitive adhesive that is easy to apply, that is strong enough to form an effective seal upon closure, but that does not cause undesirable problems during use (i.e., does not unintentionally form strong bonds to the user or other items when exposed). Improved packaging for mailing envelopes, pouches, bags or boxes or security envelopes, pouches, bags or boxes is needed.
In addition, releasable liners, layers, or strips as commonly used to cover the adhesive are inconvenient and produce waste. Many organizations and individuals are looking for more environmentally sustainable alternatives to known products. The current volume of release lines that are disposed of is not environmentally "green". The release liners also add expense and difficulty in manufacturing, particularly when used with plastic bags. Yet, typical packaging relies on these features.
Other adhesive type closure arrangements have been used to selectively seal and/or close bags and packages, such as those used for food, refuse, or other household applications. These solutions have not been suitable for commercial use. For instance, adhesive closures include weak shear strength because the exposed adhesive cannot exceed a certain "strength". Overly, strong adhesives might adhere to a user or other items in a harmful manner or otherwise render the package inoperable.
Plastic bags with zipper-locking closures are used with food transport and storage. Zip closing plastic bags, such as plastic bags sold under the Ziploc® brand name, involve male and female portions that interlock under pressure to close a package. These zip closures do not necessarily include a slider. For example, pressure sensitive zip closures are sealed without sliders. Instead, a user places the male and female portions of the zipper flush against each other. The user then slides their finger along the length of the zipper while place opposing force on the male and female portions simultaneously. This causes the male and female portions to lock where pressure has been applied.
Plastic bag zipper closures basically comprise one or more sets of mating channels. The channel may be integral to the bag or fabricated as a separate piece and attached to the bag. This type packaging must be reopened in order to access the food item. It is fundamental that known zip locking packaging be resealable or selectively opened. This type packaging is not suitable for use with mailing, shipping, or secure courier operations.
Accordingly, despite efforts to improve upon known packaging techniques and apparatus, there remains a need for a tamper-proof and/or tamper-evident packaging that provides adequate integrity for commercial shipping and courier services. The subject disclosure addresses the above needs and provides a one-time use packaging solution with sufficient seal strength. The apparatus as disclosed below provides a one-time use, non-resealable, non-reusable, positive lock closure via an adhesive assist where the adhesive cannot stick to a user or other items.
In accordance with the present disclosure, there is provided a tamper-evident and/or tamper-proof packaging solution that provides one-time use. The method of making the same is also provided. In one preferred embodiment, the packaging includes a zipper-type closure with an adhesive seal assist. The disclosed packaging is non-resealable and the zipper closure cannot be reopened once sealed. The disclosed apparatus provides a closure seal for flexible bags, pouches, envelopes and/or boxes wherein mating contact between a flap and the body of the package is eliminated. It is envisioned that the subject closure would operate with co-extruded foam (padded) envelopes, bubble wrap packaging, and the like.
The subject package closure is a pressure zip type closure that comprises a female channel member and a corresponding male member. In one embodiment, a microencapsulated adhesive is placed in the female channel during manufacturing. In use, a user inserts the male member into the female channel. Opposing pressure to join the male member and female channel is placed along the length of the zipper closure. The pressure bursts or ruptures the microencapsulated adhesive system, which then activates an adhesive that cures to seal the male member to the female channel. In this manner, the package associated with the disclosed package closure cannot be reopened via the zip closure. As such, tampering with the package contents is prevented without disassembling or permanently damaging the package.
It is also envisioned that other specialty adhesives might be used. For instance, there are known pressure sensitive adhesive membranes (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,024,880). It is also envisioned that a known adhesive might be placed in the female channel and is "covered" or protected by a breakable, non-adhesive membrane layer. In this embodiment, the pressure of inserting the male member into the female channel would break the membrane allowing the underlying adhesive to seal the male member in the female channel.
With respect to microencapsulated adhesives, it is known that microencapsulated adhesives differ in their mode of activation, extent of component microencapsulation, adhesive chemistry, and/or suitability for various surfaces. A microencapsulated adhesive, for example, might include a solvent-based system or reactive and curable resin systems. Solvent-based systems rely on adhesive reactivation through solvent delivery. An initiator is often encapsulated and placed within a resin. Releasing the initiator by opening the capsules activates the adhesive qualities of the resin.
Capsules containing a solvent for the adhesive are typically dispersed throughout a non-tacky adhesive coating on a substrate. The solvent is released upon rupture of the capsules, which then makes the adhesive tacky. A plasticizer can similarly be encapsulated. A plasticizer could be used in place of or with a solvent to tackify the adhesive.
Reactive resin systems typically involve an encapsulated curing system. One component or the complete formulation may be encapsulated. However, the reactive components must be isolated until use.
Another form of encapsulated adhesive is the self-contained capsule. In this arrangement, a curing agent exists on the surface of the resin capsules. The resin flows into contact with the curing agent when the capsules are breached. While capsule release mechanisms can involve heat or dissolution of the capsule wall, it is envisioned that a pressure release mechanism would be used with the subject closure. The closure would be provided with any known or commercially available microencapsulated adhesive. As mentioned above, other specialty adhesives might be used (e.g., without limitation, pressure sensitive adhesive membranes or membrane-protected adhesives).
Turning to the zip closure, the structure and shape of the subject zip closure may comprise known zip-locking bag closures. In one embodiment, for example, the female channel comprises an elongated semispherical channel that is partially enclosed. An elongated aperture runs the length of the female channel. The male member comprises an elongated semispherical member that corresponds to and fits within the female channel. The male member is forced, under pressure, through the elongated aperture into the partially enclosed female channel. The pressure of joining the male member and female channel bursts the adhesive capsules within the female channel or otherwise creates an adhesive seal assist between the male and female components. The shape of the closure resists removal of the male member. The adhesive (microencapsulated, pressure sensitive, membrane-protected, etc.) provides a strong seal-assist that inhibits or prevents the zip closure from being reopened.
The adhesive with the subject closure may be temperature sensitive, but in one embodiment, the adhesive is not temperature sensitive. In this embodiment, the closure would not be subject to tampering by heat, steam, ice or freezing once the adhesive seal-assist is activated. In any event, reopening the subject zip closure destroys the adhesive seal assist so that the zip closure cannot be resealed. It is envisioned that colored pigment might also be encapsulated so as to indicate that the microencapsulated adhesive has been activated (i.e., the pigment would be released into the adhesive when the encapsulated initiator or resin/adhesive is released). As such, the zip closure disclosed herein may be transparent, but the closures could also be opaque or of a solid color. It is also envisioned that multiple, adhesive seal-assist zip closures may be provided for any one package. The zip closures may be manufactured with the subject package or independently.
The non-reusable, zip-closing packaging of the present invention effectively addresses one or more of the problems associated with prior art packaging. For instance, the packaging of the present disclosure precludes tampering without leaving physical evidence of the tampering. The packaging of the present invention precludes selectively opening or resealing the packaging once the adhesive has been activated. The foregoing and additional features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those of skill in the art from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIGS. 1A-1C are perspective views of a package with a pressure actuated zip closure;
FIG. 2 is a close-up, cutaway view of one embodiment of an adhesive seal-assist closure in accordance with the subject disclosure;
FIG. 2B is an additional view thereof;
FIG. 3A is a close-up, cutaway view of an embodiment of an adhesive seal-assist closure with a slider-type zipper in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;
FIG. 3B is an additional view thereof;
FIG. 4A is a close-up, cutaway view of one embodiment of an adhesive seal-assist closure in accordance with the subject disclosure; and
FIG. 4B is an additional view thereof.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
FIGS. 1 through 4B illustrate one or more preferred embodiments of the present invention. Naturally, a person having ordinary skill with the assembly and construction of packages will be able to create an adhesive seal-assist package closure that incorporates the teachings of the present disclosure, but which may look different and incorporate different, alternative parts.
The subject packaging including a zip closure with adhesive seal assist eliminates a release liner necessary to protect the adhesive, as currently found in practice. The elimination of the release liner reduces costs and facilitates use of the disclosed packaging. The disclosed seal-assist zip closure is more environmentally friendly and sustainable as the need for a release liner is obviated by the subject construction. As described above, the disclosed packaging is not resealable or reusable. This is accomplished through a strong microencapsulated adhesive, pressure sensitive adhesive (membrane), membrane-protected adhesive, and the like. The nonreusable, nonresealable closure, as disclosed herein, is designed for, although not limited to, mailing envelopes, pouches, bags, boxes, and the like, particularly where security of the package contents is important (banker bags, evidence bags, legal correspondence, and the like).
Turning first to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a perspective view of a package 10 with a zip-style closure. Package 10 might be a flexible bag of any known packaging material including, but not limited to, plastic, paper, vinyl, cardboard, co-extruded foam, bubble wrap, or the like. Package 10 might comprise a composite material, such as fibers blown into a curable resin, or other form of textile. A single zip closure 12 is provided, although not illustrated in detail in this view. Packaging 10 is formed of two rectilinear pieces of material joined along three edges. Zip closure 12 runs along or adjacent to the fourth edge.
At the fourth edge, package 10 includes an opening 14 into which an item to be stored or transported is inserted. However, different configurations and shapes are envisioned. Zip closure 12 is arranged adjacent opening 14. As will be further illustrated and described herein, the zip closure 12 comprises corresponding male and female portions that are pressed into a sealing relationship so as to close opening 14.
As illustrated, there is excess package or zipper material 16 provided between closure 12 and the fourth edge of package 10 immediately adjacent to closure 12. This excess material 16 can assist with manipulating the closure. In known bags, this excess material 16 or "finger tab" can assist in reopening the zip closure 12 by providing an area to grip and pull apart closure 12. It is envisioned that in order to reinforce the non-reusable, tamper-evident features of the subject disclosure, that excess material 16 would be eliminated. Without the excess material 16, it is even more difficult to pull open the zip closure 12 as there is little leverage to pull apart the corresponding male and female portions of the zip closure 12.
Package 10 is stored where zip closure 12 is not pressed into a sealing or "zipped" arrangement. For storing, transporting, or manufacturing packaging 10, it is foreseen that a removable insert (not illustrated) could be placed between the corresponding male and female portions of the zip closure. For environmental reasons, it is preferred that an insert or removable liner not be employed. Instead, in another embodiment, the structure of the zip closure (as discussed further below) is such that substantial and/or intentional force is necessary to seal the zip closure. In this embodiment, any need for an insert or release liner would be obviated. The seal-assist would only be activated when a user intentionally shuts the zip closure through pressure applied to the zip closure.
An item for shipment or storage (illustrated but not labeled in FIG. 1B) is inserted through opening 14 into package 10. The user then places intentional forces on zip closure 12 along the length of zip closure 12 (see FIG. 1C). This force engages the male and female portions and activates or initiates a microencapsulated adhesive, pressure sensitive membrane, membrane-protected adhesive, or the like.
Although package 10 is illustrated as a flexible material joined along three edges, it is also envisioned that packaging with the subject closure might comprises boxes with rigid sides. In this embodiment, the zip closure might be joined to rigid, overlapping flaps. It is also possible that zip closure 12 might be adhered or otherwise joined to a rigid package even where closure 12 might be joined to flexible material (i.e., a six sided box where one side, which incorporates zip closure 12, would be of a flexible material). In yet other embodiments, zip closure 12 is incorporated to "bank bags" or other packaging configurations. Applicant does not intend to limit the structure to the flexible, rectilinear bags of illustrations 1A-1C. Pouches, co-extruded foam bags, bubble wrap, and the like are all operable with the subject adhesive-assist closure.
With reference to FIGS. 2A and 2B, there is illustrated the structure of one embodiment of zip closure 12 in a close-up view. As illustrated, a female channel member 20 comprises a base wall 22 of a given thickness. Integrally formed or associated with wall 22 is a female channel 24. As illustrated, channel 24 rises from the surface of wall 22. It is also envisioned that channel 24 might be recessed or otherwise associated with wall 22. In this embodiment, the channel is a semicircle, elongated trough. The trough is partially enclosed by upper walls 26, 26' that run along the length of trough/channel 24. The female channel is partially enclosed by upper walls or "ledges" that are aligned parallel to the base wall.
Basically, in cross section, a channel wall 28 is C-shaped. The wall is elongated to form the channel 24 with a semicircle cross-sectional shape. Upper walls 26, 26' intersect channel wall 28 at 90 degrees at the top of the semicircle to partially enclose trough 24. Walls 26, 26' are not joined together. As a result, an elongated aperture 30 runs the length of channel 24.
A male portion 32 of zipper closure 12 provides a male base wall 34. Descending from male base wall 34 is a male member 36. Male member 36 corresponds to the shape of channel 24 (i.e., in this embodiment, an elongated member with a semicircular cross-sectional shape) and is dimensioned to fit within the channel. A stem 38 connects the male member 36 to male base wall 34. The stem 38 is dimensioned to forcibly fit between walls 26, 26' in the female channel member (i.e., the stem is shaped and dimensioned to fit within aperture 30).
The male base wall, once the male member is inserted into the female channel, sits flush with walls 26, 26'. Stem 38 projects through the elongated channel 30. Male member 36 is effectively locked within the female channel.
A microencapsulated adhesive 40 made by any known technique is placed, injected, laminated, or otherwise secured within female channel 24. The adhesive is applied to channel 24 by known techniques. As disclosed above, other known adhesives may be used. The adhesive is secured in the channel either because it is a semi-rigid microencapsulated adhesive (in the non-activated state), a membrane, or is otherwise secured in the channel, such as by a protective membrane. Forcibly displacing, rupturing or otherwise activating the adhesive creates a seal-assist for zip closure.
The zip closure, comprising female channel member 20 and male portion 32, may be fabricated independently from package 10. When manufactured independent of package 10, the channel member 20 and male portion 32 can be joined at the base walls to a package 10 by an adhesive, heat deformation, heat sealing, or the like. The channel member 20 and male portion 32 might also be integral parts of package 10 (i.e., formed together).
Sealing a package via closure 12 as illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B is achieved by aligning male member 36 with channel 24 in an adjacent relationship. A user places opposing force onto base wall 20 and male base wall 34. Under pressure, walls 26, 26' deform, to an extent, to permit the entry of male member 36 into channel 24. Stem 38 may also deform, to an extent, to align male member 36 in a manner so as to pass through aperture 30.
As male member 36 corresponds in shape to the semispherical channel 24, the widest point of male member 36 locks against walls 26, 26'. In addition, the displaced volume of channel 24 due to the insertion of member 36, in conjunction with the force required to insert male member 36, ruptures the capsules of the microencapsulated adhesive 40. The adhesive is thereby activated to seal male member 36 within female channel 24. The adhesive seal-assist ensures zipper closure 12 cannot be reopened without damaging the zipper (i.e, providing tamper evidence).
Variations of the zip closure are envisioned. All known variations, such as multi-zip closures, are suitable for use. The combination of the zip-locking mechanism and laminated, coated, or otherwise secured adhesive in the female channel creates the tamper-evident, one-time use, adhesive-seal assist closure of this disclosure. The adhesive is preferably not temperature sensitive, and it is difficult or impossible to insert an object between the male and female portions. Opening the subject package requires permanent deformation of the package, such as removing a scored opening, cutting, tearing, or the like.
FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate a corresponding zip closure 12 wherein a slide 50 is used to forcibly engage the male portion 32 and female channel member 20. In this embodiment, slide 50 is placed on zip closure 12 prior to joining the closure to package 10. Slide 50 can also be used with closures that are integral to the subject package.
In further detail, slide 50 is a block with apertures through the width of the block corresponding to the shape of female channel member 20 and male portion 32. One or both apertures through slide 50 is/are angled so as to bring the two components of zip closure 12 into a sealed relationship. Slide 50 moves along the length of the male and female portions. Slide 50 may be removed from the zip closure after sealing the closure by pushing the slide 50 off one end of the zip closure. This would prevent the slide from being "reversed" along the length of the zip closure and possibly opening the package. To satisfy environmental concerns, the slides could be recycled/reused.
Briefly, with respect to FIGS. 4A and 4B, another alternative construction of zipper closure 12 is provided. In this embodiment, the female channel, as illustrated, comprises two distinct channels 60, 60'. A raised ridge 62 separates the channels. Each channel includes a "ledge" 64, 64' that partially extends over (i.e., partially encloses) the respective channel 60, 60'. The ledges are aligned parallel to the base wall of the female portion.
Two corresponding male members 70, 70' act as tabs that fit within the respective female channels 60, 60' and lock beneath ledges 64, 64'. As illustrated in FIG. 4B, adhesive 40 in both channels provides a seal assist to prevent zipper closure 12 from being reopened.
Again, other zip locking constructions would be suitable. For instance, without limitation, the shape and size of the female channel and corresponding male members could be altered while still falling within scope of this disclosure. It is also known to include multiple zip closures together (double zips, triple zips, etc.)
The subject zip closure is not limited to particular dimensions or packages of a particular size. The height, thickness, and length of the zip closure components can vary as necessary. Typically, the zip closure will comprise some form of plastic applied to a package by means of a hot melt technique, adhesives, or heat sealing arrangement. However, as would be understood by one of skill in the art in light of this disclosure, the closure might be formed from other materials and sealed, adhered, or otherwise joined to a wide variety of materials such as co-extruded foams, bubble wrap, cardboard, vinyl, and the like.
The adhesive in the female channel may be coated, injected or otherwise placed in the channel in a manner that prevents the adhesive from escaping prior to sealing the closure. Additives may be used in the channel composition to improve the adhesives adherence to the package.
The closures of this disclosure provide a locking mechanical feature in conjunction with the adhesive seal assist. As the adhesive is not exposed to contact with the user or other items prior to the insertion of the male member, a stronger adhesive can be used than previously considered. Microencapsulated adhesives, acrylic or other pressure sensitive adhesives, known adhesives, or known adhesives protected by a breakable/rupturable membrane would be suitable.
While the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that numerous variations, modifications and additional embodiments are possible, and all such variations, modifications, and embodiments are to be regarded as being within the spirit and scope of the invention.
Patent applications in class Closing package or filled receptacle
Patent applications in all subclasses Closing package or filled receptacle