Mesh sponge with pocket

A mesh sponge is formed as a batting of multiple layers of a tubular mesh material defining a pocket. The pocket may house a cleaning aid article, for example, a bar of soap or a structural form. Liquid soap may be used in conjunction with the mesh sponge and structural form, which provides a solid feel to the user. The pocket in the mesh sponge may house a bladder that is filled with liquid soap. The bladder may be porous or contain one or more valved openings to facilitate the excretion or dispensing of the liquid soap upon squeezing of the bladder by a user.

Skip to: Description  ·  Claims  · Patent History  ·  Patent History

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119 (e) of U.S. provisional application No. 60/75,765 entitled “Mesh sponge with pocket” filed on 5 Aug. 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. design patent application Ser. No. 29/235,773 filed 5 Aug. 2005 entitled “Mesh sponge with pocket,” which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. This application is further related to U.S. design patent application Ser. No. ______, filed contemporaneously herewith.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to bathing accessories and more particularly to washing utensils for soap application and skin exfoliation.

2. Description of the Related Art

Men do not have a product to use in the shower that, in conjunction with bar or liquid soap, can clean as well as an artificial mesh loofa. At the time of this writing, artificial loofas have been manufactured for about 15 years, primarily in the form of a “pouf,” which is generally a gathered or scrunched flowery ball of plastic mesh material. Men have never really felt comfortable using the loofa pouf due to the feminine design. Most men still will use only a bar of soap, liquid soap, or either or in conjunction with a wash cloth. At present, there is not a bathing or scrubbing tool that is suitable to the taste of men. Most men regard artificial loofa poufs as women's items, and refuse to use them. Prior attempts to market mesh sponges to men have merely been directed to manufacturing artificial loofa poufs out of dark colored mesh materials. However, this still does not address the problem of the unattractive, feminine shape of the artificial loofa pouf.

Although in the past generally unappealing from a marketing standpoint, men can greatly benefit from a mesh material bathing product. The mesh material of loofa poufs actually scrubs and exfoliates the skin, leaving the user with a very clean feeling. Men often get very dirty from work and sport and would greatly benefit from the use of mesh material as a bathing aid. However, most men simply will not put a cleaning item in their shower that looks feminine.

The information included in this Background section of the specification, including any references cited herein and any description or discussion thereof, is included for technical reference purposes only and is not to be regarded subject matter by which the scope of the invention is to be bound.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a scrubbing and exfoliating product. In one form, the invention comprises a mesh sponge formed as a batting of multiple layers of a tubular mesh material defining a pocket. The pocket may contain a cleaning aid article, for example, a bar of soap. This allows the mesh sponge to have a very solid feel while allowing for the soap to lather, which passes through the mesh material to the user's skin. The soap may then be stored in the pocket for future use. In another form the mesh sponge may house a structural form within the pocket. In this form, liquid soap may be used in conjunction with the mesh sponge while the structural form provides a solid feel to the user. In yet another form of the invention, the pocket in the mesh sponge may house a bladder that is filled with liquid soap. The bladder may be porous or contain one or more valved openings to facilitate the excretion or dispensing of the liquid soap upon squeezing of the bladder by a user.

Other features, details, utilities, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more particular written description of various embodiments of the invention as further illustrated in the accompanying drawings and defined in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front isometric view of an implementation of a mesh sponge with a pocket and further containing a cleaning aid article in the pocket.

FIG. 2 is a detail view of a portion of the mesh sponge of FIG. 1 depicting multiple layers of mesh material.

FIG. 3 is a rear elevation view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a right elevation view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an extruded mesh material forming implementations of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 8 is a schematic view of the extruded mesh material of FIG. 7 folded upon itself to form a mesh pad.

FIG. 9 is a schematic view of the mesh pad of FIG. 8 folded in half.

FIG. 10 is a schematic view of the mesh pad of FIG. 9 with lateral sides of the folded mesh pad stitched together to form a mesh sponge.

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 10 in a process of being turned inside-out.

FIG. 12 is a front isometric view of another implementation of a mesh sponge with a pocket.

FIG. 13 is a right elevation view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 12.

FIG. 15 is a bottom plan view of the mesh sponge of FIG. 12.

FIG. 16 is a schematic view of a first step in an exemplary method of forming a mesh sponge.

FIG. 17 is a schematic view of a second step in the exemplary method of forming a mesh sponge beginning with FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is a schematic view of a third step in the exemplary method of forming a mesh sponge beginning with FIG. 16.

FIG. 19 is a schematic view of a fourth step in the exemplary method of forming a mesh sponge beginning with FIG. 16.

FIG. 20 is a schematic view of a fifth step in the exemplary method of forming a mesh sponge beginning with FIG. 16.

FIG. 21 is a schematic view of a cleaning aid article being inserted into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 22 is a schematic view of exemplary pouch closure and loop attachment techniques for a mesh sponge.

FIG. 23 is an isometric view of a first exemplary cleaning aid article for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 24 is an isometric view of a second exemplary cleaning aid article for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 25 is an isometric view of a third exemplary cleaning aid article for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 26 is an isometric view of a fourth exemplary cleaning aid article for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 27 is an isometric view of a fifth exemplary cleaning aid article for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 28 is an isometric view of a first exemplary soap bladder for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 29 is an isometric view of a second exemplary soap bladder for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 30 is an isometric view of a third exemplary soap bladder for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

FIG. 31 is an isometric view of a fourth exemplary soap bladder for insertion into a pocket of a mesh sponge.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following description presents certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention and describes them in conjunction with the figures attached hereto. FIGS. 1-6 depict a mesh sponge 100 with a pocket 102 according to the present invention from various viewpoints as described above in the section entitled “Brief Description of the Drawings.” As shown in the figures, the mesh sponge 100 is formed with a front wall 104 and a rear wall 106 which together bound an opening to the interior pocket 102 at the top 110 of the mesh sponge 100. The front wall 104 and the rear wall 106 comprise a batting of mesh material as further described below. The front wall 104 and the rear wall 106 form a continuous surface across the bottom 108 of the mesh sponge 100.

Each edge along the lateral sides 112 of the front wall 104 is fastened to each edge along the corresponding lateral sides 112 of the rear wall 106 to define a seam 114 along each lateral side 112 of the mesh sponge 100. The front wall 104 may be fastened to the rear wall 106 along the seam 114, for example, by stitching the mesh material at each edge along the lateral sides 112 of the front wall 104 to corresponding mesh material at each edge along the lateral sides 112 of the rear wall 104. In this manner, the mesh sponge 100 is enclosed on three sides and the opening to the interior pocket 102 is thus formed along the top 110 of the mesh sponge 100.

A loop 116 for hanging or holding the mesh sponge 100 may be affixed to the top 110 of the mesh sponge 100. The loop 116 may be formed of a length of cord 132 passed through the mesh sponge 100 with the ends of the cord 132 tied in a knot 134. As shown to good advantage in FIGS. 3-5 the cord 132 passes through an opening 118 formed in the mesh material along a top 110 edge of the rear wall 106. Alternatively, the loop 116 may be attached at any location on either the front wall 104 or the rear wall 106.

In one embodiment, the loop 116 may only be attached to one of the front wall 104 or the rear wall 106 to ensure ease of accessibility and use of the pocket 102. For example, if the loop 116 were to pass through both the front wall 104 and the rear wall 106 along the top 110 center of the mesh sponge 100, such attachment of the loop 116 could impede the insertion of a cleaning aid article 128 within the pocket 102 of the mesh sponge 100. However, in an alternative embodiment, if the loop 116 were attached to a top 110 corner of the mesh sponge 100, passing through both the front wall 104 and rear wall 106, interference with the insertion of cleaning aid articles 128 into the pocket 102 is also unlikely.

The mesh sponge 100 of the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-6, as well as other embodiments described herein, may be formed as a batting of multiple layers of mesh material 120 as shown in FIG. 2. For visual clarity, only three layers 122, 124, 126 of mesh material 120 are depicted in FIG. 2, although the thickness of the mesh sponge 100, e.g., each of the front wall 104 and the rear wall 106, may be composed of tens of layers of mesh material 120. The mesh material 120 used to form the mesh sponge 100 may be made of nylon or any other material sufficiently resilient and resistant to the growth of bacteria, mildew, or mold.

The openings in the mesh material may generally be quite small, for example, on the order of a few millimeters in length. The openings in the layers 122, 124, 126 of mesh material 120 forming the mesh sponge 100 overlap with each in a manner such as depicted in FIG. 2. These multiple layers 122, 124, 126 of the mesh material 120 create small interstitial areas both within each of the mesh openings as well as between each of the layers of mesh material. These interstitial areas act as a sponge to retain viscous liquids, transfer such liquids throughout the interstitial spaces of the mesh sponge through wicking and capillary action, and dispense such liquids in small quantities through contact of the outer layer of the mesh sponge with other surfaces, for example, a user's body.

In actual use, as depicted in FIG. 1, a cleaning aid article 128 may be placed within the pocket 102 of the mesh sponge 100 to aid in the bathing process. In one embodiment of use, the cleaning aid article 128 may be a bar of soap placed within the pocket 102 of the mesh sponge 100. During use, water may interact with the soap bar within the pocket 102 to create a viscous soap lather mixture that permeates the mesh sponge 100. In this manner, the cleansing attributes of the soap may be used in conjunction with the exfoliating attributes of the mesh sponge 100 while a user bathes.

In an alternative embodiment of the use, a liquid soap may be squeezed onto a surface of the mesh sponge 100 or poured within the pocket 102 opening whereby the liquid soap may permeate throughout the interstitial areas of the mesh sponge 100. In this manner, the mesh sponge 100 can again be used in conjunction with a cleansing soap as a body washing utensil for a user.

The mesh material is generally formed as a tubular extrusion 200 as shown in FIG. 7. Such a tubular mesh extrusion 200 is typically seamless and is often used in the manufacture of, for example, artificial loofa pouf washing utensils. Pouf washing utensils are generally formed by passing a retainer, for example, an elastic band through the center of a length of tubular mesh extrusion, cinching the retainer tightly, and allowing the mesh extrusion to scrunch up the mesh material in a toroid fashion.

In the present invention, a length of tubular mesh extrusion 200 may be flattened as shown in FIG. 7 to form a rectangular length of material with two walls. A first end of the mesh extrusion 200 may be folded back along the length of the mesh extrusion a distance approximately twice the length of the desired finished height of the mesh sponge. The mesh extrusion is then folded back upon itself at this length multiple times to form a batting 202 as shown in FIG. 8 until the mesh extrusion 200 can no longer be folded back upon itself at that length. The mesh batting 202 is thus formed of many layers of mesh material such that it is significantly thicker than the original, single length of the flattened tubular mesh extrusion 200. In exemplary implementations, the tubular mesh extrusion 200 may be folded between 10 and 30 times, or more, to achieve a desired level of thickness.

This folding process creates a shorter length of mesh batting 202 approximately twice as long as the desired height of the end product, e.g., the mesh sponge 100 of FIG. 1. One end 218 of the tubular mesh extrusion 200 remains exposed upon the formation of the mesh batting 202. It may be desirable to trim or position the exposed end 218 of the tubular mesh extrusion 200 to a position approximately half the length of the mesh batting 202 as shown in FIG. 8 for reasons to be further explained below.

Alternate folding methodologies may be chosen. For example, the flattened mesh extrusion might be folded in half lengthwise and then in half again and further through a series of half-lengthwise folds until the folded length of the mesh extrusion is approximately twice as long as the desired height of the mesh sponge. This method may not be preferred because the ends of the tubular mesh extrusion, which are open, would remain exposed along the top edge of the mesh sponge. Another folding methodology may be to perform a series of accordion-like folds approximately twice as long as the desired height of the mesh sponge. Again, this method may not be preferred because, in some configurations, both ends of the tubular mesh extrusion would remain exposed along the top edge of the mesh sponge. In an alternate configuration, at least one of the ends would remain exposed along the top edge of the mesh sponge, thus being a less-preferred methodology.

In these methodologies, the mesh batting 202 is folded in half once again as shown in FIG. 9. This fold forms the bottom 208 of the mesh sponge 220. One half of the mesh batting 202 forms the front wall 204 of the mesh sponge 220, while the second half of the mesh batting 202 forms the rear wall 206 of the mesh sponge 220. As indicated by the placement of the reference numerals in FIG. 9, the ultimate outer surfaces of the front wall 204 and rear wall 206 may be inside a pocket 216 formed by folding the folded mesh material 202 in half. The exposed end 218 of the mesh batting 202 is positioned adjacent the bottom 208 of the mesh sponge 220. This position of the exposed end 218 may be preferred, rather than positioning the exposed end 218 within the pocket 216, for example, adjacent the top 210 of the mesh sponge.

The edges along the lateral sides 212 of the front wall 204 and the rear wall 206 of the mesh sponge 220 may then be stitched or otherwise bound or fastened together as shown in FIG. 10 to create a seam 214 along each lateral side 212 of the mesh sponge 220 thereby enclosing the pocket 216 within the mesh sponge 220. As shown in FIG. 10, the exposed end 218 of the mesh batting 202 is held in place by the stitching forming the seam 214, although at this point in the process, the exposed end 218 remains exposed.

As shown in FIG. 11, the top edge 210 of the mesh sponge 220 may be folded downward and outward along the ultimate inner surfaces of the front wall 204 and rear wall 206, thus turning the mesh sponge 220 inside-out. By turning the mesh sponge 220 inside-out, two advantages are achieved. First, the stitches forming the seams 214 are hidden within the pocket, thus creating a smooth outer surface for the mesh sponge 220, for example, as depicted in FIG. 1. Second, the exposed end 218 of the tubular mesh material 200 is also hidden within the pocket, adjacent the bottom 208 of the mesh sponge 220. The location of the exposed end 218 adjacent the bottom 208 as shown in FIG. 9 and the stitching of the exposed end 218 as shown in FIG. 10 serve to position the exposed end 218 within the pocket of the finished mesh sponge 220, thus creating a more esthetically pleasing appearance for the mesh sponge 220 and ensuring that the exposed end 218 is unable to be pulled out of the pocket.

With respect to alternate folding implementations described above in which one or more ends of the tubular mesh material remain exposed, an option for hiding these ends is available. Such exposed ends may be positioned to extend beyond the length of the folded mesh extrusion such that the ends extend beyond the top of the mesh sponge. These ends may then be conveniently folded, for example, over the top of the front wall or rear wall, and tucked into the pocket. In this manner, such ends of the tubular mesh extrusion may be concealed within the mesh sponge. However, in such implementations, the exposed ends are not secured within the pocket of the mesh sponge and may be inadvertently pulled out.

As described above with respect to FIGS. 1 and 3-6, a loop may be attached to the mesh sponge, for example, by threading a length of cord through a hole in the rear wall of the mesh sponge and tying the ends in a knot. If such a loop is affixed through an opening in either the front wall or the rear wall, or both, such an attachment of the loop may alternatively operate to retain the exposed end or ends of the tubular mesh extrusion within the pocket of the mesh sponge.

FIGS. 12-15 depict an alternative implementation of a mesh sponge 300. As in the prior implementation of FIGS. 1-6, the mesh sponge 300 may be described as defining a pocket 302 and having a front wall 304, a rear wall 306, a bottom 308, a top 310, and lateral sides 312. However, in the implementation of FIGS. 12-15, the mesh sponge 300 has no seams along the lateral sides 312. Instead, a seam 314 may be found in the bottom 308 of the mesh sponge 300 as shown in FIG. 15. The mesh sponge 300 may also have a loop 316 for hanging the mesh sponge 300 within a bath or shower to dry after use. As depicted, the loop 316 may be attached to the mesh sponge 300 as described with respect to FIG. 22 below. Alternately, the loop 316 may be attached to the mesh sponge 300 in the manner described with respect to FIGS. 1-6 above.

As with other implementations, the mesh sponge 300 may be composed of tens of layers of mesh material. The mesh material may be made of nylon or any other material sufficiently resilient and resistant to the growth of bacteria, mildew, or mold. The openings in the mesh material may generally be quite small, for example, on the order of a few millimeters in length. The multiple layers of the mesh material create small interstitial areas, both within each of the mesh openings as well as between each of the layers of mesh material. The interstitial areas act as a sponge to retain viscous liquids, transfer such liquids throughout the interstitial spaces of the mesh sponge through wicking and capillary action, and dispense such liquids in small quantities through contact of the outer layer of the mesh sponge 300 with other surfaces.

FIGS. 16-20 depict an exemplary methodology for constructing the implementation of the mesh sponge depicted in FIGS. 12-15. Again, the mesh material may generally be formed as a seamless tubular extrusion 400 (and as previously shown in FIG. 7). To begin the manufacturing process, as shown in FIG. 16 an open end 404 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 is held in place at a proximal end 406 or position. A first portion 402 of the interior wall of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 is pinched or grasped from the inside of the tube at a distance from the proximal end 406 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 substantially equal to the desired finished size of the mesh sponge. Note while in FIGS. 16-20, the manufacturing process is depicted as performed manually, any, some, or all of the steps depicted and described could be performed using mechanized manufacturing systems, devices, and processes.

The first pinched portion 402 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 may then be held in place while the open end 404 is pulled distally toward and over the first pinched portion 402 along the outer wall of the tubular mesh extrusion 400, as shown in FIG. 17. Thus, a first section 408 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 is turned inside-out. (Alternately, the open end 404 may be held in place while the pinched portion 402 is pulled proximally.) The first pinched portion 402 is thus repositioned at the proximal end 406.

Next, as shown in FIG. 18, a second portion 410 of the interior wall of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 is pinched or grasped from the inside of the tube at a distance from the proximal position 406 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 substantially equal to the desired finished size of the mesh sponge. The second pinched portion 410 of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 may then be held in place while the first pinched portion 402 is pulled distally toward and over the second pinched portion 402 along the outer wall of the tubular mesh extrusion 400. Thus, a second section of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 is turned inside-out and is folded over top of the first section 408. This process of turning lengths of the tubular mesh extrusion 400 inside-out is repeated to form a mesh batting 420 (see FIG. 19) until a desired thickness (or number of layers) of the walls of the mesh sponge is reached.

Once a desired thickness for the mesh sponge is achieved, the distal end 418 of the mesh batting 420 may be bound or fastened, for example, by sewing or stitching a seam 414 between the bottom edges of the front wall and the rear wall as shown in FIG. 19. A pocket is thus formed within the folded section 420. Any excess 412 tubular mesh extrusion 400 extending distally from the distal end 418 of the mesh batting 420 may be removed, for example, by trimming or cutting the excess 412. In one implementation, two ends of a length of cord (not shown) may be fastened between the bottom edges of the front wall and the rear wall, for example, by the stitches forming the seam 414, to form a loop.

The mesh sponge may then be completed by turning the folded section 420 inside-out as depicted in FIG. 20. The proximal end 406 of the mesh batting 420 may be pulled proximally over the initial outer surface 416 while the distal end 418 of the mesh batting 420 may be pushed proximally. Thus, the former outer surface 416 of the mesh batting 420 in FIG. 19 becomes the inner surface of the mesh sponge and the former inner surface becomes the new outer surface 422. The seam 414 is thereby hidden within the pocket of the mesh sponge and an esthetically pleasing new outer surface 422 is formed. In an alternate implementation (not shown) in which the ends of a cord are fastened within the seam 414, the loop formed by the attached cord may be of a length such that the loop extends out of the pocket of the mesh sponge when the pocket is turned inside out.

In additional implementations, the cleaning aid article used for insertion within the pocket 502 of the mesh sponge 500 may be a structural form 518 as shown in FIG. 21. Such a structural form 518 may be used in order to provide a more substantial feeling to the user of the mesh sponge 500, for example, when utilizing a liquid soap product. The structural form 518 may be formed, for example, of molded plastic, either solid or hollow if the outer walls defining the hollow space are sufficiently rigid. In one implementation, the structural form 518 may be similar in size to a bar of soap to provide a user a tactile sensation similar to washing with a bar of soap.

In another implementation, the structural form 518 may be formed of foam. The foam may be either closed-cell or open-cell. Closed-cell foams may generally provide attributes of form, density, and tactile sensation to the user. In addition to these attributes, open-cell foams may also provide additional retention of the soap lather within the mesh sponge 500.

As shown in FIG. 22, the cleaning aid article (e.g., a structural form or a bar of soap) may be retained within the mesh sponge 500 by fastening the front wall 504 to the rear wall 506 along a top edge 508 of the mesh sponge 500. A fastening structure 512, for example, VELCRO®, may be affixed to the top 510 interior edges of the front wall 504 and rear wall 506, whereby the front wall 504 and rear wall 506 may be removably engaged with each other to close the pocket 502. In a variant of this embodiment, the mesh sponge 500 may be fastened along the top 510, for example, by stitching the front wall 504 and the rear wall 506 together along the top 510 edge in a similar fashion to the stitching of the bottom 508, thereby permanently encapsulating the structural form 518 within the pocket 502.

The loop 516 may be attached to the top of the mesh sponge 500 as depicted in FIG. 22 and in FIGS. 12-14. In one exemplary implementation as shown in FIG. 22, one end 520 of the loop 508 may be fastened to the front wall 504 and the other end 522 of the loop 516 may be fastened to the rear wall 506. In this configuration, each side of the loop may be used as a pull tab to separate the fastening structure 512 holding together the top 510 interior edges of the front wall 504 and rear wall 506. Alternately, both ends 520, 522 of the loop 516 may be fastened to one of the front wall 504 or the rear wall 506. The ends 520, 522 may be permanently affixed to the front wall 504 and/or the rear wall 506, for example, by stitching 514 the ends 520, 522 of the loop 516 to the mesh material of the front wall 504 and/or the rear wall 506. Alternately, the ends 520, 522 may be removably attached to the front wall 504 and/or the rear wall 506, for example, by engaging with the fastening structure 512 (e.g., VELCRO®). Further, as described above (but not shown), the ends of the loop may be fastened within a seam between the front wall and the rear wall and the loop may extend out of the pocket above the top of the mesh sponge. In this configuration, the loop may also function as a pull tab to separate a fastening structure holding together the top interior edges of the front wall and rear wall.

The structural form may be provided in a variety of shapes and densities or rigidities, for example, to provide alternative gripping configurations for the user or to impart different massaging sensations to the skin and muscles of the user. For example, as shown in FIG. 23, the structural form 602 may be rectangular in shape and formed of a foam material. As indicated in FIG. 21, a rectangular-shaped structural form 518 may also have rounded edges 524.

In FIG. 24, the structural form 604 is depicted as cylindrical in shape. In an alternate variation shown in FIG. 25, the structural form 606 may be in the shape of a half cylinder. In addition to longitudinally slicing a cylinder along the diameter, cylinder-based shapes for a structural form may also be created from longitudinal slices along chord lengths.

In FIG. 26, the structural form 608 is depicted as spherical in shape. In an alternate variation shown in FIG. 25, the structural form 610 may be in the shape of a half sphere. In addition to slicing a sphere along a diameter plane, sphere-based shapes for a structural form may also be created from slices along chord planes. The shapes for structural forms depicted in FIGS. 23-26 and in other figures herein are exemplary only and many other shapes for structural forms are possible and may be implemented to form additional embodiments. For example, the structural form may be an ellipsoid. The structural form may also be formed of any number of irregular shapes.

In yet another embodiment, the cleaning aid article may be a bladder filled with liquid soap for use used in conjunction with the mesh sponge. The soap-filled bladder may be inserted into the pocket of the mesh sponge to dispense soap during use of the mesh sponge. The bladder may be made of any of various materials to both contain the liquid soap and allow for the secretion of soap from the bladder to fill the interstitial spaces of the mesh sponge when in use.

In one exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 28, a bladder 700 may be constructed of plastic, latex, or other flexible or pliable material forming a sealed pouch or pocket. A porous area 702 may be defined in one or both of the walls of the bladder 700 to convey the liquid soap from the interior of the pouch to the mesh sponge. A removable seal (not shown) may be used to cover the porous areas 702 in order to prevent leakage of the liquid soap until the bladder 700 is ready for use. The porous area 702 may be sealed, for example, with an adhesive strip. The adhesive strip may be removed by the user before inserting the bladder 700 into the pocket of the mesh sponge. The holes of the porous area 702 may be sized such that the viscosity and/or surface tension of the liquid soap inhibits flow of the liquid soap through the porous area 702 in the absence of additional pressure on the bladder, for example, squeezing by the user.

FIG. 29 depicts another embodiment of a bladder 710 with multiple porous areas 712 in the walls of the bladder 710 to covey the liquid soap from the interior of the bladder pocket to the mesh sponge. A removable seal (not shown) may be used to cover the porous areas 712 in order to prevent leakage of the liquid soap until the bladder 710 is ready for use. The porous areas 712 may be sealed, for example, with adhesive strips. The adhesive strips may be removed by the user before inserting the bladder 710 into the pocket of the mesh sponge. The holes of the porous areas 712 may be sized such that the viscosity and/or surface tension of the liquid soap inhibits flow of the liquid soap through the porous areas 712 in the absence of additional pressure on the bladder, for example, squeezing by the user.

In a further exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 30, the bladder 720 may be formed entirely of a flexible, micro-porous material 722 to covey the liquid soap from the interior of the bladder pocket to the mesh sponge. The holes of the micro-porous material 702 may be sized such that the viscosity and/or surface tension of the liquid soap inhibits secretion of the liquid soap through the micro-porous material 722 in the absence of additional pressure on the bladder, for example, by a user grasping it in the user's hand or when rubbed against the skin during washing. A nontoxic coating may be used as a removable seal to cover the micro-porous material 722 to prevent leakage of the liquid soap before insertion of the bladder 720 into the pocket of the mesh sponge for use. The coating may be designed such that it dissolves upon contact with water or water of a certain temperature, e.g., above 100° F. An exemplary coating may be PLANTIC® (Plantic Technologies, Ltd., Altona, Victoria, Australia) a biomaterial that generally acts like plastic, but dissolves upon contact with water. Such a coating could also be used to cover the porous areas 712 of the bladder 710 of FIG. 29.

Alternatively, the bladder 800 may be fashioned with one or several valves 810 as shown in FIG. 31 to covey the liquid soap from the interior of the bladder to the mesh sponge. In this implementation, the bladder 800 may be formed of a first sheet 802 of flexible, liquid-impermeable material (e.g., plastic) affixed to a second sheet 804 of flexible, liquid-impermeable material along respective opposing edges. The edges of the first sheet 802 and second sheet may be affixed together by lamination to form a heat seal 808. A gusset 806 may be affixed between the first sheet 802 and/or the second sheet 804 at the top and/or bottom of the bladder 800 in order to provide additional storage volume for liquid soap within the bladder 800.

A valve 810 may be positioned in either or both of the first sheet 802 and the second sheet 804. The valve 810 allows soap to be excreted or extruded from the bladder 800 when the bladder 800 is placed under pressure. The valve 810 may further be designed to prevent backflow in order to not dilute the soap remaining within the bladder 800. The valve openings 812 in the valves 810 may be formed of slits in one or more laminar sheets. If there is more than one laminar sheet, the slits may be arranged in an overlapping, but angularly offset manner. For example, the slits in two adjacent laminar sheets may be arranged to form an X. In one exemplary embodiment, the valve 810 may be similar to laminar valves on the lids of spill-proof cups for children. Again, a removable seal (not shown) may be placed on the valve 810 to prevent accidental leakage until the bladder 800 is ready for use.

All directional references (e.g., proximal, distal, upper, lower, upward, downward, left, right, lateral, front, rear, back, top, bottom, above, below, vertical, horizontal, clockwise, and counterclockwise) are only used for identification purposes to aid the reader's understanding of the present invention, and do not create limitations, particularly as to the position, orientation, or use of the invention. Connection references (e.g., attached, coupled, connected, and joined) are to be construed broadly and may include intermediate members between a collection of elements and relative movement between elements unless otherwise indicated. As such, connection references do not necessarily infer that two elements are directly connected and in fixed relation to each other.

Although various embodiments of this invention have been described above with a certain degree of particularity, or with reference to one or more individual embodiments, those skilled in the art could make numerous alterations to the disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of this invention. It is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not limiting. Changes in detail or structure may be made without departing from the basic elements of the invention as defined in the following claims.

Claims

1. A mesh sponge comprising

a plurality of layers of tubular mesh material, flattened and folded to define a front wall; a rear wall; and a bottom; wherein
the front wall and the rear wall are attached at respective lateral side edges along respective seams;
the bottom is seamless; and
the front wall, the rear wall, and the bottom form a pocket with an opening to the pocket at a top of the front wall and the rear wall.

2. The mesh sponge of claim 1, wherein one end of the tubular mesh material is housed within the pocket.

3. The mesh sponge of claim 1, wherein the lateral side edges are housed within the pocket.

4. The mesh sponge of claim 1 further comprising a cord; wherein

at least one of the front wall and the rear wall defines a hole through the plurality of layers; and
the cord passes through the hole.

5. The mesh sponge of claim 4, wherein the hole is positioned adjacent a top edge of the mesh sponge.

6. The mesh sponge of claim 4, wherein the hole is positioned adjacent one of the lateral side edges.

7. The mesh sponge of claim 1 further comprising a cord having a first end and a second end; wherein

the first end of the cord is attached to a top edge of the front wall; and
the second end of the cord is attached to a top edge of the rear wall.

8. The mesh sponge of claim 1 further comprising

a first engagement means along a top edge of the front wall; and
a second engagement means along a top edge of the rear wall; wherein
the first engagement means and the second engagement means releaseably attach with each other to close the pocket.

9. The mesh sponge of claim 1 further comprising a cleaning aid article within the pocket.

10. The mesh sponge of claim 9, wherein the cleaning aid article is a bar of soap.

11. The mesh sponge of claim 9, wherein the cleaning aid article is a structural form.

12. The mesh sponge of claim 11, wherein the structural form is porous.

13. The mesh sponge of claim 10, wherein the structural form is nonporous.

14. The mesh sponge of claim 11, wherein the structural form is selected from a group of shapes consisting of a rectangular box, a sphere, a half-sphere, a cylinder, a half-cylinder, and an ellipsoid.

15. The mesh sponge of claim 9, wherein the cleaning aid article is a bladder filled with liquid soap.

16. The mesh sponge of claim 1, wherein the plurality of layers comprises substantially between 10 and 30 layers inclusive.

17. A mesh sponge comprising

a plurality of layers of tubular mesh material, flattened and folded to define a front wall; a rear wall; and a bottom; wherein
the front wall and the rear wall are fastened at respective bottom edges along a seam;
the front wall and rear wall are seamlessly contiguous; and
the front wall, the rear wall, and the bottom form a pocket with an opening to the pocket at a top of the front wall and the rear wall.

18. The mesh sponge of claim 17, wherein one end of the tubular mesh material is housed within the pocket.

19. The mesh sponge of claim 17, wherein the bottom edges are housed within the pocket.

20. The mesh sponge of claim 17 further comprising a cord, wherein

at least one of the front wall and the rear wall defines a hole through the plurality of layers; and
the cord passes through the hole.

21. The mesh sponge of claim 20, wherein the hole is positioned adjacent a top edge of the mesh sponge.

22. The mesh sponge of claim 20, wherein the hole is positioned adjacent one of the lateral side edges.

23. The mesh sponge of claim 17 further comprising a cord having a first end and a second end, wherein

each of the first end and the second end is fastened to the bottom edges within the seam; and
a loop formed by the cord extends out of the pocket above the top of the front wall and the rear wall.

24. The mesh sponge of claim 17 further comprising a cord having a first end and a second end, wherein

the first end of the cord is attached to a top edge of the front wall; and
the second end of the cord is attached to a top edge of the rear wall.

25. The mesh sponge of claim 17 further comprising

a first engagement means along a top edge of the front wall; and
a second engagement means along a top edge of the rear wall; wherein
the first engagement means and the second engagement means releasably attach with each other to close the pocket.

26. The mesh sponge of claim 17 further comprising a cleaning aid article within the pocket.

27. The mesh sponge of claim 26, wherein the cleaning aid article is a bar of soap.

28. The mesh sponge of claim 26, wherein the cleaning aid article is a structural form.

29. The mesh sponge of claim 28, wherein the structural form is porous.

30. The mesh sponge of claim 28, wherein the structural form is nonporous.

31. The mesh sponge of claim 28, wherein the structural form is selected from a group of shapes consisting of a rectangular box, a sphere, a half-sphere, a cylinder, a half-cylinder, and an ellipsoid.

32. The mesh sponge of claim 26, wherein the cleaning aid article is a bladder filled with liquid soap.

33. The mesh sponge of claim 17, wherein the plurality of layers comprises between 10 and 30 layers.

34. A method of making a mesh sponge comprising

folding a length of tubular mesh material a plurality of times to form a batting of mesh material;
forming a front wall and a rear wall from the batting of mesh material; and
fastening at least one edge of the front wall to a corresponding edge of the rear wall to form a pocket.

35. The method of claim 34, wherein

the folding operation further comprises folding the tubular mesh material to an intermediate length approximately twice as long as a final dimension of the mesh sponge; and
the forming operation further comprises folding the batting of mesh material in half.

36. The method of claim 34, wherein

each of the front wall and the rear wall comprise respective lateral side edges; and
the fastening operation further comprises fastening the lateral side edges of the front wall to the respective lateral side edges of the rear wall.

37. The method of claim 34, wherein

each of the front wall and the rear wall comprise respective bottom edges; and
the fastening operation further comprises fastening the bottom edge of the front wall to the respective bottom edge of the rear wall.

38. The method of claim 34, wherein the first folding operation further comprises

turning a proximal end section of the length of the tubular mesh material inside-out along an outer surface of an adjacent section of the tubular mesh material; and
repeating the turning operation along the length of the tubular mesh material until the batting of the intermediate length is formed.

39. The method of claim 34 further comprising flattening the first length of tubular mesh material.

40. The method of claim 34 further comprising flattening the batting of mesh material.

41. The method of claim 34 further comprising turning the pocket inside-out.

42. The method of claim 34 further comprising attaching a cord to at least one of the front wall and the rear wall.

43. The method of claim 34 further comprising inserting a cleaning aid article into the pocket.

44. A bladder for use in conjunction with a bathing utensil, the bladder comprising

at least two walls formed of a flexible material capable of retaining a liquid; wherein
the at least two walls are sealed together to form a pocket therebetween to retain the liquid; and
at least one of the walls defines a means for conveying the liquid from the pocket to an exterior surface of the at least one of the walls.

45. The bladder of claim 44, wherein the conveying means comprises at least one porous area of the flexible material forming the at least one of the walls.

46. The bladder of claim 44, wherein the conveying means comprises the flexible material forming the at least one of the walls, wherein the flexible material is porous.

47. The bladder of claim 44, wherein the conveying means comprises a valve positioned within the at least one of the walls.

48. The bladder of claim 44 further comprising a removable seal over the conveying means.

49. The bladder of claim 48, wherein the removable seal comprises a film adhered to the exterior surface of the at least one of the walls.

Patent History

Publication number: 20070065224
Type: Application
Filed: Jul 7, 2006
Publication Date: Mar 22, 2007
Inventor: Anthony Shaw (Lakewood, CO)
Application Number: 11/483,112

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: 401/201.000; 15/209.100; 15/229.110; 300/21.000; 401/207.000
International Classification: A47K 7/02 (20060101);