SEAL FOR ELEVATED TEMPERATURE APPLICATIONS AND METHOD OF FORMING SAME
A seal and method of forming a seal for a reclosable container includes a removable cap that is selectively received over a pour opening formed in a can body. The method includes applying a plastisol to an interior surface of the cap, curing the plastisol at an elevated temperature in the cap, and cold-forming the cap containing the cured plastisol therein. In another arrangement, an EVA seal material is extruded into the cap and the seal is subsequently cold-formed in the cap.
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This disclosure relates to containers or cans of a wide variety of sizes, volume, etc. used in the food and beverage industry or in connection with other fluid products such as oil, paint, powders, etc. More particularly, this application relates to reclosable containers as disclosed in commonly owned U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,082,944 and 6,015,062, and to the disclosure of related published International Application W0 2006/072079, the disclosures of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The disclosure is related to seals within a container cap having a general shape of an inverted cup that fits closely about and interacts with a container body having a neck. The neck has a pour opening at its top and a plurality of thread lugs formed outwardly in the neck material at a predetermined spacing below the pour opening. The thread lugs interact with a plurality of lugs extending inwardly from a perimeter of the cap and spaced about a lower rim of the cap to draw the interior surface or underside of the cap toward the pour opening and to complete a seal between the neck/body and cap.
Previous seal constructions for this type of reclosable container have included various types of seal materials applied to the underside or interior surface of the cap. Primarily a pre-formed ring, for example of polypropylene, has been widely used as a preferred form of seal. The materials of construction of such seals may vary with the type of content in the container. However, there is a need to provide a different approach to placing seals of different compositions within the containers, as may be required to accommodate the needs of properly packaging different contents of the container. Instead, it would be desirable to provide a seal that is useful for a wide variety of container contents and needs. Such needs may involve pressurization or vacuum packing of the container contents, or an ability to withstand the high temperature and elevated pressure of retort operations after filling and closing, or possible exposure to wide ranges of temperatures from other sources after filling and sealing. These are but a few potential requirements encountered in adapting such a container to a large variety of potential contents.
As shown and described in W0 2006/072079, the disclosure of which is attached and expressly incorporated herein by reference, the seal is typically extruded from pellets heated to approximately 340° F. The material was extruded into the cap, such as an aluminum cap, and then cold-formed with a tool to match a lip curl on the dome of the container. The seal could be formed into an annulus or ring that only covers and seals on the lip curl, or could be formed into a disk to cover the center area of the cap with the form for the lip curl. This seal worked very well and held high pressures, over approximately 140 PSI. One problem was that the seal would not stick to the aluminum cap and could potentially fall out when the cap was removed from the can. A coating material provided on the cap is designed to keep anything from sticking to it. The coating is in widespread use, and therefore changing the coating would be a difficult change over the entire industry.
One way to keep the seal from falling out was to mechanically hold the seal in. For example, an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer material was extruded and supplied as a roll of material. Seals were blanked or cut from the EVA roll stock to form a flat disk. The flat disk was generally oversized so that the disk would not fall out of the cap interior i.e., the perimeter edge of the oversized flat disk would interfere with the lugs provided on the cap and therefore be effectively retained within the cup-shaped cavity of the cap in a position where the seal would abuttingly engage the lip curl on the container. However, the cost of this EVA material has recently substantially increased, thus requiring potential alternative options. Although disk seal performance was generally acceptable, this type of seal did not perform as well as extruded or cold-formed seals. The EVA material was only suitable for cold fill products, and would not work well for hot fill or pasteurized products such as beer.
Alternatively, a solid thermoplastic elastomer (SOR) material was tested for pasteurization but has not performed well. The seal either fell out of the cap or the on-off torques developed between the cap and container were too high. Moreover, the SOR material is extremely expensive when compared to the EVA material.
Consequently, a need exists for a different material and method of forming a seal for a removable, re-sealable cap (typically steel or aluminum) that overcomes the above-noted problems, and others, in a manner that is easy to manufacture, repeatable, effective, inexpensive, usable in a wide array of end uses (e.g., pressure, vacuum, steel cap, aluminum cap, thermal extremes, thermal cyclingSUMMARY
A method of forming a seal for a reclosable container having a removable cap that is selectively received over a pour opening formed in a can body, including applying a seal material to an interior surface of the cap. If the seal is a plastisol, the method includes curing the plastisol at an elevated temperature in the cap. The seal is then cold-formed to the desired shape.
The seal can be fowled into an annulus or ring that only covers and seals on the lip curl, or could be formed into a disk to cover the center area of the cap along with the desired form for the lip curl.
The seal works well at high pressures, as well as in vacuum situations, and is also applicable to high temperature environments.
A reclosable container has a body with a pour opening formed therein. A removable cap is selectively received over the pour opening of the can body. A seal is provided along at least a portion of an interior surface of the cap.
The development of the plastisol cold-form seal and various images of the original extruded and cold formed seals (
The new seals 300 formed on the interior face of the cap 310 are illustrated in
According to the present disclosure, and for example when working with steel reclosable food cans, the cap 310 typically includes a coating on the interior surface. This coating 350 allows a plastisol material (which is used for sealing) to stick to the cap 310. One accepted definition of plastisol is a suspension of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) particles in a plasticizer. The plastisol advantageously flows as a liquid and can be poured into a heated mold or is sufficiently viscous an as to be sprayed as in the present disclosure (and as will be further described below).
The plastisol is sprayed into a cap 310 (that is, sprayed on the interior surface of the cup-shaped cap) and then cold-formed. The plastisol material is typically used for retort products, because the can and cap 310 will not be exposed to temperatures over 250° F. during the retort process, that is, pasteurized products are typically processed below 165° F. Therefore, using the plastisol material for pasteurized products seems to exhibit good performance characteristics and passes the pasteurized tests, as well as exhibiting low on-off torques in attaching and removing a cap 310 from the associated container. The plastisol is sprayed over the entire interior surface in one preferred method, but one skilled in the art will recognize that the spray may be more directed and only be applied to a portion of the interior surface of the cap.
One issue with the plastisol, however, is that the material will not stick to an aluminum cap 310 (
These plastisol, cold-formed seals 300 perform well for pasteurized products with low on-off torques. The plastisol seal 300 also out-performed the EVA disk used for cold fill beverages. Further, the plastisol cold-fowled seal 300 held higher pressures with low on-off torques. Moreover, the plastisol seal 300 can be used for almost all products and the cost is significantly less than other seal alternatives. The plastisol opens the possibility for new markets such as beer, where the plastisol, cold-formed seal 300 can also be used for cold fill products at a considerable savings for the can maker.
The process of applying the new plastisol, cold-formed seal of the present disclosure (or sometimes referred to as manufacturing the seal) would be roughly the same for a steel or aluminum container/cap (after applying the pre-coat to the aluminum). Particularly, the process would include applying e.g., spraying, the plastisol into the cap 310, baking the plastisol after application to the cap (e.g., baking at approximately 400° F. in an oven such as depicted in
In another arrangement, the EVA pelletized material is formed into an extrusion and a bead applied to the inner surface of the cap. The extruded bead can be placed at a desired thickness and desired location. Thereafter, the seal is cold-formed in a tooling station such as shown in
1. A method of forming a seal for a reclosable container having a removable cap that is selectively received over a pour opening formed in a can body, the method including:
- applying a seal to an interior surface of the cap;
- curing the seal material in the cap; and
- cold forming the seal in the cap.
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising supplying a metal cap having a generally cup-shaped conformation.
3. A method of claim 2 wherein the metal cap supplying step includes providing a steel cap.
4. The method of claim 2 wherein the metal cap supplying step includes providing an aluminum cap.
5. The method of claim 4 further comprising pre-coating at least a portion of the cap interior surface prior to the plastisol applying step.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein the pre-coating is a material that enhances the bond between the aluminum and the plastisol seal.
7. The method of claim 5 wherein the pre-coating step includes spraying the pre-coating on an interior surface of the cap.
8. The method of claim 5 wherein the pre-coating step includes spraying the pre-coating on only a portion of an interior surface of the cap.
9. The method of claim 5 wherein the curing step includes exposing the cap with the applied plastisol to a temperature of approximately 400° F.
10. The method of claim 5 wherein the curing step includes exposing the cap with the applied plastisol to a temperature of approximately 400° F. for a pre-selected period of time.
11. The method of claim 9 wherein the pre-selected period of time is approximately 2 minutes.
12. The method of claim 1 further comprising extruding the seal into the cap.
13. The method of claim 12 wherein the extruded seal is an EVA material and the cold forming of the seal occurs in the cap.
14. A reclosable container comprising
- a body having a pour opening formed therein;
- a removable cap selectively received over the pour opening of the can body; and
- a plastisol seal provided along at least a portion of an interior surface of the cap.
15. The container of claim 14 wherein the seal has a generally annular configuration dimensioned for engagement with the body around the pour opening.
16. The container of claim 14 the removable cap is a metal cap.
17. The container of claim 16 wherein the removable metal cap is steel.
18. The container of claim 16 wherein the removable metal cap is aluminum.
19. The container of claim 18 wherein the aluminum cap has a pre-coating applied over the at least a portion of the cap interior surface to enhance the bonding between the seal and the aluminum.
International Classification: B65D 53/00 (20060101);