Flexible Container with Tube Member

The present disclosure provides a flexible container. In an embodiment, the flexible container includes a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel. The gusset side panels adjoin the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber, and (ii) handle seals to form a handle, the handle located at an end of the chamber. The flexible container includes a tube member sealed to the flexible container. The tube member is in fluid communication with the chamber. The tube member comprises an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

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Description
BACKGROUND

The present disclosure is directed to a flexible container having a tube member.

Flexible packaging is known to offer significant value and sustainability benefits to product manufacturers, retailers and consumers as compared to solid, molded plastic packaging containers. Flexible packaging provides many consumer conveniences and benefits, including extended shelf life, easy storage, microwavability and refillability. Flexible packaging has proven to require less energy for creation and creates fewer emissions during disposal.

Flexible containers (and stand-up flexible containers in particular) with a handle at the top and/or bottom provide convenience not only in terms of consumer transport (ease to carry) but also for content evacuation (pour-ability). In view of the conveniences afforded by handles, the art recognizes the on-going need for flexible containers with improved content evacuation features.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure provides a flexible container. In an embodiment, the flexible container includes a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel. The gusset side panels adjoin the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber, and (ii) handle seals to form a handle, the handle located at an end of the chamber. The flexible container includes a tube member sealed to the flexible container. The tube member is in fluid communication with the chamber. The tube member comprises an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

The present disclosure provides another flexible container. In embodiment, a flexible container is provided and includes a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel. The gusset side panels adjoin the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber; and (ii) handle seals to form a handle. The handle is located at an end of the chamber. The handle comprises a channel formed from the handle seals. The flexible container includes a tube member sealed to the flexible container. The tube member is in fluid communication with the chamber and located in the channel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a flexible container with a tube member in a collapsed configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 1A is a front elevation view of a flexible container with a tube member in a collapsed configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the flexible container of FIG. 1 in an expanded configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the flexible container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the flexible container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is an elevation view of a panel sandwich in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of Area 6 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the flexible container of FIG. 1A in an expanded configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of a flexible container with a tube member, the flexible container in a collapsed configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of the flexible container of FIG. 8 in an expanded configuration.

FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a flexible container with a tube member in a collapsed configuration accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of the flexible container of FIG. 9 in an expanded configuration.

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of a flexible container with a tube member, the flexible container in a collapsed configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 10A is a perspective view of the flexible container of FIG. 10 in an expanded configuration.

DEFINITIONS

All references to the Periodic Table of the Elements herein shall refer to the Periodic Table of the Elements, published and copyrighted by CRC Press, Inc., 2003. Also, any references to a Group or Groups shall be to the Groups or Groups reflected in this Periodic Table of the Elements using the IUPAC system for numbering groups. Unless stated to the contrary, implicit from the context, or customary in the art, all parts and percents are based on weight. For purposes of United States patent practice, the contents of any patent, patent application, or publication referenced herein are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety (or the equivalent US version thereof is so incorporated by reference), especially with respect to the disclosure of synthetic techniques, definitions (to the extent not inconsistent with any definitions provided herein) and general knowledge in the art.

The numerical ranges disclosed herein include all values from, and including, the lower value and the upper value. For ranges containing explicit values (e.g., 1 or 2, or 3 to 5, or 6, or 7) any subrange between any two explicit values is included (e.g., 1 to 2; 2 to 6; 5 to 7; 3 to 7; 5 to 6; etc.).

Unless stated to the contrary, implicit from the context, or customary in the art, all parts and percents are based on weight, and all test methods are current as of the filing date of this disclosure.

The term “composition,” as used herein, refers to a mixture of materials which comprise the composition, as well as reaction products and decomposition products formed from the materials of the composition.

The terms “comprising,” “including,” “having,” and their derivatives, are not intended to exclude the presence of any additional component, step or procedure, whether or not the same is specifically disclosed. In order to avoid any doubt, all compositions claimed through use of the term “comprising” may include any additional additive, adjuvant, or compound, whether polymeric or otherwise, unless stated to the contrary. In contrast, the term, “consisting essentially of” excludes from the scope of any succeeding recitation any other component, step or procedure, excepting those that are not essential to operability. The term “consisting of” excludes any component, step or procedure not specifically delineated or listed.

Density is measured in accordance with ASTM D 792 with values reported in grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc or g/cm3).

Elastic recovery is measured as follows. Stress-strain behavior in uniaxial tension is measured using an Instron™ universal testing machine at 300% min−1 deformation rate at 21° C. The 300% elastic recovery is determined from a loading followed by unloading cycle to 300% strain, using ASTM D 1708 microtensile specimens. Percent recovery for all experiments is calculated after the unloading cycle using the strain at which the load returned to the base line. The percent recovery is defined as:


% Recovery=100* (Ef−Es)/Ef

where Ef is the strain taken for cyclic loading and Es is the strain where the load returns to the baseline after the unloading cycle.

An “ethylene-based polymer” is a polymer that contains more than 50 weight percent polymerized ethylene monomer (based on the total weight of polymerizable monomers) and, optionally, may contain at least one comonomer. Ethylene-based polymer includes ethylene homopolymer, and ethylene copolymer (meaning units derived from ethylene and one or more comonomers). The terms “ethylene-based polymer” and “polyethylene” may be used interchangeably. Non-limiting examples of ethylene-based polymer (polyethylene) include low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear polyethylene. Non-limiting examples of linear polyethylene include linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), ultra low density polyethylene (ULDPE), very low density polyethylene (VLDPE), multi-component ethylene-based copolymer (EPE), ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymers (also known as olefin block copolymer (OBC)), single-site catalyzed linear low density polyethylene (m-LLDPE), substantially linear, or linear, plastomers/elastomers, and high density polyethylene (HDPE). Generally, polyethylene may be produced in gas-phase, fluidized bed reactors, liquid phase slurry process reactors, or liquid phase solution process reactors, using a heterogeneous catalyst system, such as Ziegler-Natta catalyst, a homogeneous catalyst system, comprising Group 4 transition metals and ligand structures such as metallocene, non-metallocene metal-centered, heteroaryl, heterovalent aryloxyether, phosphinimine, and others. Combinations of heterogeneous and/or homogeneous catalysts also may be used in either single reactor or dual reactor configurations.

“High density polyethylene” (or “HDPE”) is an ethylene homopolymer or an ethylene/α-olefin copolymer with at least one C4-C10 α-olefin comonomer, or C4 α-olefin comonomer and a density from greater than 0.94 g/cc, or 0.945 g/cc, or 0.95 g/cc, or 0.955 g/cc to 0.96 g/cc, or 0.97 g/cc, or 0.98 g/cc. The HDPE can be a monomodal copolymer or a multimodal copolymer. A “monomodal ethylene copolymer” is an ethylene/C4-C10 α-olefin copolymer that has one distinct peak in a gel permeation chromatography (GPC) showing the molecular weight distribution. A “multimodal ethylene copolymer” is an ethylene/C4-C10 α-olefin copolymer that has at least two distinct peaks in a GPC showing the molecular weight distribution. Multimodal includes copolymer having two peaks (bimodal) as well as copolymer having more than two peaks. Nonlimiting examples of HDPE include DOW™ High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company), ELITE™ Enhanced Polyethylene Resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company), CONTINUUM™ Bimodal Polyethylene Resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company), LUPOLEN™ (available from LyondellBasell), as well as HDPE products from Borealis, Ineos, and ExxonMobil.

“Low density polyethylene” (or “LDPE”) consists of ethylene homopolymer, or ethylene/α-olefin copolymer comprising at least one C3-C10 α-olefin, preferably C3-C4that has a density from 0.915 g/cc to 0.940 g/cc and contains long chain branching with broad MWD. LDPE is typically produced by way of high pressure free radical polymerization (tubular reactor or autoclave with free radical initiator). Nonlimiting examples of LDPE include MarFlex™ (Chevron Phillips), LUPOLEN™ (LyondellBasell), as well as LDPE products from Borealis, Ineos, ExxonMobil, and others.

“Linear low density polyethylene” (or “LLDPE”) is a linear ethylene/α-olefin copolymer containing heterogeneous short-chain branching distribution comprising units derived from ethylene and units derived from at least one C3-C10 α-olefin comonomer or at least one C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C6-C8 α-olefin comonomer. LLDPE is characterized by little, if any, long chain branching, in contrast to conventional LDPE. LLDPE has a density from 0.910 g/cc, or 0.915 g/cc, or 0.920 g/cc, or 0.925 g/cc to 0.930 g/cc, or 0.935 g/cc, or 0.940 g/cc. Nonlimiting examples of LLDPE include TUFLIN™ linear low density polyethylene resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company), DOWLEX™ polyethylene resins (available from the Dow Chemical Company), and MARLEX™ polyethylene (available from Chevron Phillips).

“Ultra low density polyethylene” (or “ULDPE”) and “very low density polyethylene” (or “VLDPE”) each is a linear ethylene/α-olefin copolymer containing heterogeneous short-chain branching distribution comprising units derived from ethylene and units derived from at least one C3-C10 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C6-C8 α-olefin comonomer. ULDPE and VLDPE each has a density from 0.885 g/cc, or 0.90 g/cc to 0.915 g/cc. Nonlimiting examples of ULDPE and VLDPE include ATTANE™ ultra low density polyethylene resins (available form The Dow Chemical Company) and FLEXOMER™ very low density polyethylene resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company).

“Multi-component ethylene-based copolymer” (or “EPE”) comprises units derived from ethylene and units derived from at least one C3-C10 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C6-C8 α-olefin comonomer, such as described in patent references U.S. Pat. No. 6,111,023; U.S. Pat. No. 5,677,383; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,984,695. EPE resins have a density from 0.905 g/cc, or 0.908 g/cc, or 0.912 g/cc, or 0.920 g/cc to 0.926 g/cc, or 0.929 g/cc, or 0.940 g/cc, or 0.962 g/cc. Nonlimiting examples of EPE resins include ELITE™ enhanced polyethylene (available from The Dow Chemical Company), ELITE AT™ advanced technology resins (available from The Dow Chemical Company), SURPASS™ Polyethylene (PE) Resins (available from Nova Chemicals), and SMART™ (available from SK Chemicals Co.).

“Single-site catalyzed linear low density polyethylenes” (or “m-LLDPE”) are linear ethylene/α-olefin copolymers containing homogeneous short-chain branching distribution comprising units derived from ethylene and units derived from at least one C3-C10 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C6-C8 α-olefin comonomer. m-LLDPE has density from 0.913 g/cc, or 0.918 g/cc, or 0.920 g/cc to 0.925 g/cc, or 0.940 g/cc. Nonlimiting examples of m-LLDPE include EXCEED™ metallocene PE (available from ExxonMobil Chemical), LUFLEXEN™ m-LLDPE (available from LyondellBasell), and ELTEX™ PF m-LLDPE (available from Ineos Olefins & Polymers).

“Ethylene plastomers/elastomers” are substantially linear, or linear, ethylene/α-olefin copolymers containing homogeneous short-chain branching distribution comprising units derived from ethylene and units derived from at least one C3-C10 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, or at least one C6-C8 α-olefin comonomer. Ethylene plastomers/elastomers have a density from 0.870 g/cc, or 0.880 g/cc, or 0.890 g/cc to 0.900 g/cc, or 0.902 g/cc, or 0.904 g/cc, or 0.909 g/cc, or 0.910 g/cc, or 0.917 g/cc. Nonlimiting examples of ethylene plastomers/elastomers include AFFINITY™ plastomers and elastomers (available from The Dow Chemical Company), EXACT™ Plastomers (available from ExxonMobil Chemical), Tafmer™ (available from Mitsui), Nexlene™ (available from SK Chemicals Co.), and Lucene™ (available LG Chem Ltd.).

Melt flow rate (MFR) is measured in accordance with ASTM D 1238, Condition 280° C./2.16 kg (g/10 minutes).

Melt index (MI) is measured in accordance with ASTM D 1238, Condition 190° C./2.16 kg (g/10 minutes).

Shore A hardness is measured in accordance with ASTM D 2240.

Tm or “melting point” as used herein (also referred to as a melting peak in reference to the shape of the plotted DSC curve) is typically measured by the DSC (Differential Scanning calorimetry) technique for measuring the melting points or peaks of polyolefins as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,783,638. It should be noted that many blends comprising two or more polyolefins will have more than one melting point or peak, many individual polyolefins will comprise only one melting point or peak.

An “olefin-based polymer,” as used herein is a polymer that contains more than 50 mole; percent polymerized olefin monomer (based on total amount of polymerizable monomers), and optionally, may contain at least one comonomer. Nonlimiting examples of olefin-based polymer include ethylene-based polymer and propylene-based polymer.

A “polymer” is a compound prepared by polymerizing monomers, whether of the same or a different type, that in polymerized form provide the multiple and/or repeating “units” or “mer units” that make up a polymer. The generic term polymer thus embraces the term homopolymer, usually employed to refer to polymers prepared from only one type of monomer, and the term copolymer, usually employed to refer to polymers prepared from at least two types of monomers. It also embraces all forms of copolymer, e.g., random, block, etc. The terms “ethylene/α-olefin polymer” and “propylene/α-olefin polymer” are indicative of copolymer as described above prepared from polymerizing ethylene or propylene respectively and one or more additional, polymerizable α-olefin monomer. It is noted that although a polymer is often referred to as being “made of” one or more specified monomers, “based on” a specified monomer or monomer type, “containing” a specified monomer content, or the like, in this context the term “monomer” is understood to be referring to the polymerized remnant of the specified monomer and not to the unpolymerized species. In general, polymers herein are referred to has being based on “units” that are the polymerized form of a corresponding monomer.

A “propylene-based polymer” is a polymer that contains more than 50 mole percent polymerized propylene monomer (based on the total amount of polymerizable monomers) and, optionally, may contain at least one comonomer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present disclosure provides a flexible container. In an embodiment, the flexible container includes a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel. The gusset side panels adjoin the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber and (ii) handle seals to form a handle. The handle is located at an end of the chamber. A tube member is sealed to the flexible container. The tube member is in fluid communication with the chamber. The tube member is composed of an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

1. Panels

The present disclosure provides a flexible container including a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel.

FIGS. 1-6 depict flexible container 10 made from four panels, a first gusset panel 18, a second gusset panel 20, a front panel 22 and a rear panel 24. Each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 is a flexible multilayer film as discussed in detail below. During the fabrication process, the panels are formed when one or more webs of flexible multilayer film are sealed together. While the webs may be separate pieces of flexible multilayer film, it will be appreciated that any number of the seams between the webs could be “pre-made,” as by folding one or more of the source webs to create the effect of a seam or seams. For example, if it were desired to fabricate the present flexible container from two webs instead of four, the bottom, left center, and right center webs could be a single folded web, instead of three separate webs.

The four panels 18, 20, 22 and 24 each can be composed of a separate web of flexible multilayer film. The composition and structure for each web of flexible multilayer film can be the same or different. Alternatively, one web of flexible multilayer film may also be used to make all four panels and the top and bottom segments. In a further embodiment, two or more webs can be used to make each panel.

FIG. 5 shows the relative positions of the four webs as they form four panels (in a “one up” configuration) as they pass through the fabrication process. For clarity, the webs are shown as four individual panels, the panels separated and the heat seals not made. The constituent webs form a first gusset panel 18, a second gusset panel 20, a front panel 22 and a rear panel 24. Each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 is a flexible multilayer film. The gusset fold lines 60 and 62 are shown in FIGS. 1 and 5.

As shown in FIG. 5, the folded gusset panels 18, 20 are placed between the rear panel 24 and the front panel 22 to form a “panel sandwich.” The gusset panel 18 opposes the gusset panel 20. The edges of the panels 18-24 are configured, or otherwise arranged, to form a common periphery 11, as shown in FIG. 1. The flexible multilayer film of each panel web is configured so that the heat seal layers, as discussed below, face each other. The common periphery 11 includes the bottom seal area including the bottom end of each panel.

In an embodiment, the flexible container has a collapsed configuration (as shown in FIG. 1) and an expanded configuration (shown in FIGS. 2-4).

When the flexible container is in the collapsed configuration, the flexible container is in a flattened state, or in an otherwise evacuated state. The gusset panels 18, 20 fold inwardly (dotted gusset fold lines 60, 62 of FIG. 1) and are sandwiched by the front panel 22 and the rear panel 24.

FIG. 1 shows the flexible container 10 in the collapsed configuration. As shown in FIG. 1, the flexible container 10 has a bottom section I, a body section II, a tapered transition section III, and a neck section IV. In the expanded configuration, the bottom section I forms a bottom segment 26, as shown in FIG. 4. The body section II forms a body portion. The tapered transition section III forms a tapered transition portion. The neck section IV forms a neck portion.

FIGS. 2-4 show the flexible container 10 in the expanded configuration. The four panels 18, 20, 22, and 24 form the body section II and extend toward a top end 44 (FIG. 3) and extend toward a bottom end 46 (FIG. 4) of the container 10. Sections III and IV (respective tapered transition section, neck section) form a top segment 28. Section I (bottom section) forms a bottom segment 26.

In an embodiment, four webs of flexible multilayer film are provided, one web of film for each respective panel 18, 20, 22, and 24. The edges of each film are sealed to the adjacent web of film to form peripheral seals 41 and peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d (40) (FIGS. 1 and 4). The peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d are located on the bottom segment 26 of the flexible container as shown in FIG. 4, and have an inner edge 29a-29f. The peripheral seals 40 are located on the side edges of the container, as shown in FIG. 2. Consequently, the flexible container 10 includes a closed bottom section I, a closed body section II, and a closed tapered transition section III. Nonlimiting examples of suitable sealing procedures include heat sealing and/or ultrasonic sealing. The closed bottom section I, closed body section II, and closed tapered transition section III form a chamber 45. The chamber 45 has a top end 45a and a bottom end 45b, as shown in FIG. 2.

To form the top segment 28 and the bottom segment 26, the four webs of flexible multilayer film converge together at the respective end and are sealed together. For instance, the top segment 28 can be defined by extensions of the panels sealed together at the tapered transition section III, and the neck section IV. The top end 44 includes four top panels 28a-28d (FIG. 3) of film that define the top segment 28. The bottom segment 26 can be defined by extensions of the panels sealed together at the bottom section I. The bottom segment 26 can also have four bottom panels 26a-26d of film sealed together and can also be defined by extensions of the panels at the opposite bottom end 46, as shown in FIG. 4.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, the four panels of film that form the flexible container extend from the body section II (forming body 47), to the tapered transition section III (forming tapered transition portion 48), to form a neck 50 (in the neck section IV). The four panels of film also extend from the body section II to the bottom section I (forming bottom portion 49).

The neck 50 is positioned at a midpoint of the top segment 28, as shown in FIGS. 1-3. The neck is sized to have a width smaller than the width of the body section II, such that the neck has an area that is less than a total area of the top segment 28.

2. Flexible Multilayer Film

Each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 is composed of a flexible multilayer film. In an embodiment, each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 is made from a flexible film having at least one, or at least two, or at least three layers. The flexible film is resilient, flexible, deformable, and pliable. The structure and composition of the flexible film for each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 may be the same or different. For example, each of the panels 18, 20, 22, 24 can be made from a separate web, each web having a unique structure and/or unique composition, finish, or print. Alternatively, each of the panels 18, 20, 22, 24 can be the same structure and the same composition and/or made from the same web.

The flexible multilayer film is composed of a polymeric material. Nonlimiting examples of suitable polymeric material include olefin-based polymer; propylene-based polymer; ethylene-based polymer; polyamide (such as nylon), ethylene-acrylic acid or ethylene-methacrylic acid and their ionomers with zinc, sodium, lithium, potassium, or magnesium salts; ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymers; and blends thereof. The flexible multilayer film can be either printable or compatible to receive a pressure sensitive label or other type of label for displaying of indicia on the flexible container 10.

In an embodiment, a flexible multilayer film is provided and includes at least three layers: (i) an outermost layer, (ii) one or more core layers, and (iii) an innermost seal layer. The outermost layer (i) and the innermost seal layer (iii) are surface layers with the one or more core layers (ii) sandwiched between the surface layers. The outermost layer may include (a-i) a HDPE, (b-ii) a propylene-based polymer, or combinations of (a-i) and (b-ii), alone, or with other olefin-based polymers such as LDPE. Nonlimiting examples of suitable propylene-based polymers include propylene homopolymer, random propylene/α-olefin copolymer (majority amount propylene with less than 10 weight percent ethylene comonomer), and propylene impact copolymer (heterophasic propylene/ethylene copolymer rubber phase dispersed in a matrix phase).

With the one or more core layers (ii), the number of total layers in the present multilayer film can be from three layers (one core layer), or four layers (two core layers), or five layers (three core layers, or six layers (four core layers), or seven layers (five core layers) to eight layers (six core layers), or nine layers (seven core layers), or ten layers (eight core layers), or eleven layers (nine core layers), or more.

The multilayer film has a thickness from 75 microns, or 100 microns, or 125 microns, or 150 microns to 200 microns, or 250 microns or 300 microns or 350 microns, or 400 microns.

The multilayer can be (i) coextuded, (ii) laminated, or (iii) a combination of (i) and (ii). In an embodiment, the multilayer film is a coextruded multilayer film.

In an embodiment, each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 is a flexible multilayer film having the same structure and the same composition.

Some methods used to construct films are by cast co-extrusion or blown co-extrusion methods, adhesive lamination, extrusion lamination, thermal lamination, and coatings such as vapor deposition. Combinations of these methods are also possible. Film layers can comprise, in addition to the polymeric materials, additives such as stabilizers, slip additives, antiblocking additives, process aids, clarifiers, nucleators, pigments or colorants, fillers and reinforcing agents, and the like as commonly used in the packaging industry. It is particularly useful to choose additives and polymeric materials that have suitable organoleptic and or optical properties.

In an embodiment, the outermost layer includes a HDPE. In a further embodiment, the HDPE is a substantially linear multi-component ethylene-based copolymer (EPE) such as ELITE™ resin provided by The Dow Chemical Company.

In an embodiment, each core layer includes one or more linear or substantially linear ethylene-based polymers or block copolymers having a density from 0.908 g/cc, or 0.912 g/cc, or 0.92 g/cc, or 0.921 g/cc to 0.925 g/cc, or less than 0.93 g/cc. In an embodiment, each of the one or more core layers includes one or more ethylene/C3-C8 α-olefin copolymers selected from linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), ultralow density polyethyelen (ULDPE), very low density polyethylene (VLDPE), EPE, olefin block copolymer (OBC), plastomers/elastomers, and single-site catalyzed linear low density polyethylenes (m-LLDPE).

In an embodiment, the seal layer includes one or more ethylene-based polymer having a density from 0.86 g/cc, or 0.87 g/cc, or 0.875 g/cc, or 0.88 g/cc, or 0.89 g/cc to 0.90 g/cc, or 0.902 g/cc, or 0.91 g/cc, or 0.92 g/cc. In an embodiment, the seal layer includes one or more ethylene/C3-C8 α-olefin copolymer selected from EPE, plastomers/elastomers, or m-LLDPE.

In an embodiment, the flexible multilayer film is a coextruded film, the seal layer is composed of an ethylene-based polymer, such as a linear or a substantially linear polymer, or a single-site catalyzed linear or substantially linear polymer of ethylene and an alpha-olefin monomer such as 1-butene, 1-hexene or 1-octene, having a Tm from 55° C. to 115° C. and a density from 0.865 to 0.925 g/cm3, or from 0.875 to 0.910 g/cm3, or from 0.888 to 0.900 g/cm3 and the outer layer is composed of a polyamide having a Tm from 170° C. to 270° C.

In an embodiment, each layer of the flexible multilayer film is composed of an ethylene-based polymer. In an further embodiment, each multilayer film includes a seal layer, a core layer, and an outer layer and each of the seal layer, the core layer, and the outer layer is composed of an ethylene-based polymer.

In an embodiment, the flexible multilayer film is a coextruded and/or laminated five layer, or a coextruded (or laminated) seven layer film having at least one layer containing OPET or OPP.

In an embodiment, the flexible multilayer film is a coextruded (or laminated) five layer, or a coextruded (or laminated) seven layer film having at least one layer containing polyamide.

In an embodiment, the flexible multilayer film is a seven-layer coextruded (or laminated) film with a seal layer composed of an ethylene-based polymer, or a linear or substantially linear polymer, or a single-site catalyzed linear or substantially linear polymer of ethylene and an alpha-olefin monomer such as 1-butene, 1-hexene or 1-octene, having a Tm from 90° C. to 106° C. The outer layer is a polyamide having a Tm from 170° C. to 270° C. The film has an inner layer (first inner layer) composed of a second ethylene-based polymer, different than the ethylene-based polymer in the seal layer. The film has an inner layer (second inner layer) composed of a polyamide the same or different to the polyamide in the outer layer. The seven layer film has a thickness from 100 micrometers to 250 micrometers.

3. Tube Member

In an embodiment, flexible container 10 includes a tube member 30 sealed to the neck 50 as shown in FIGS. 1-3. A “tube member” is an elongated, hollow and flexible cylinder for transporting a flowable material. At the neck 50, a top end segment 28a of the front panel 22 and a top end segment 28c of the rear panel 24 each is sealed, or otherwise welded, to the tube member 30 along upper tapered seal 41a to form a tight, hermetic seal, as shown in FIG. 2. The tube member 30 is sealed to the flexible container by way of compression heat seal, ultrasonic seal, and combinations thereof. Thus, the tube member 30 is sealed to front/rear panels 22, 24 to form a hermetic seal, and the tube member 30 is not sealed to first/second gusset panels 18, 20.

In an embodiment, FIG. 3 shows the tube member 30 has

(i) a wall thickness, t, that is from 0.2 mm, or 0.5 mm, or 0.6 mm, or 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm, or 1.5 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 2.5 mm, or 3.0 mm; and/or

(ii) an outer diameter from 0.5 mm, or 1.0 mm, or 1.5 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 2.5 mm, or 3.0 mm, or 3.5 mm, or 4.0 mm, or 4.5 mm, or 5.0 mm, or 6 mm, or 7 mm, or 8 mm, or 9 mm, or 10 mm, or 20 mm, or 25 mm to 30 mm, or 40, mm, or 50 mm.

The tube member can have any length required for a desired application in order to deliver product 58 as needed. For example, the tube member 30 can be made to extend from the neck 50 and the top end of the chamber 45a to the bottom end of the chamber 45b. A nonlimiting example of an application for this tube member is a backpack spray container requiring a long tube member extending from bottom of the backpack reservoir to the spray head.

The tube member 30 is composed of an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer. The tube member 30 can be composed solely of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer or can be a blend of ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and one or more other polymeric materials. Bounded by no particular theory, Applicant discovered that the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer in the tube member provides the tube member with the ability to caulk the seal with the multilayer films and form a winglet.

Nonlimiting examples of suitable materials for blending with the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer include low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), ethylene methyl acrylate (EMA), ethylene acrylic acid copolymer (EAA), propylene homopolymer, propylene copolymer, propylene impact copolymer.

In an embodiment, the tube member 30 is only composed of, or is otherwise formed solely from, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

The tube member is formed from (wholly or partially) ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer. The term “ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer” includes ethylene and one or more copolymerizable α-olefin comonomer in polymerized form, characterized by multiple blocks or segments of two or more polymerized monomer units differing in chemical or physical properties. The term “ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer” includes block copolymer with two blocks (di-block) and more than two blocks (multi-block). The terms “interpolymer” and “copolymer” are used interchangeably herein. When referring to amounts of “ethylene” or “comonomer” in the copolymer, it is understood that this means polymerized units thereof.

In some embodiments, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer can be represented by the following formula:


(AB)n

where n is at least 1, preferably an integer greater than 1, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, or higher, “A” represents a hard block or segment and “B” represents a soft block or segment. Preferably, As and Bs are linked, or covalently bonded, in a substantially linear fashion, or in a linear manner, as opposed to a substantially branched or substantially star-shaped fashion. In other embodiments, A blocks and B blocks are randomly distributed along the polymer chain. In other words, the block copolymers usually do not have a structure as follows:


AAA-AA-BBB-BB

In still other embodiments, the block copolymers do not usually have a third type of block, which comprises different comonomer(s). In yet other embodiments, each of block A and block B has monomers or comonomers substantially randomly distributed within the block. In other words, neither block A nor block B comprises two or more sub-segments (or sub-blocks) of distinct composition, such as a tip segment, which has a substantially different composition than the rest of the block.

Preferably, ethylene comprises the majority mole fraction (or a majority weight fraction) of the whole block copolymer, i.e., ethylene comprises at least 50 mole percent (or at least 50 weight percent) of the whole polymer. More preferably ethylene comprises at least 60 mole percent, at least 70 mole percent, or at least 80 mole percent, with the substantial remainder of the whole polymer comprising at least one other comonomer that is preferably an α-olefin having 3 or more carbon atoms. In some embodiments, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer may comprise 50 mol % to 90 mol % ethylene, or 60 mol % to 85 mol %, or 65 mol % to 80 mol %. For many ethylene/octene multi-block copolymers, the composition comprises an ethylene content greater than 80 mole percent of the whole polymer and an octene content of from 10 to 15, or from 15 to 20 mole percent of the whole polymer.

The ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer includes various amounts of “hard” segments and “soft” segments. “Hard” segments are blocks of polymerized units in which ethylene is present in an amount greater than 90 weight percent, or 95 weight percent, or greater than 95 weight percent, or greater than 98 weight percent based on the weight of the polymer, up to 100 weight percent. In other words, the comonomer content (content of monomers other than ethylene) in the hard segments is less than 10 weight percent, or 5 weight percent, or less than 5 weight percent, or less than 2 weight percent based on the weight of the polymer, and can be as low as zero. In some embodiments, the hard segments include all, or substantially all, units derived from ethylene. “Soft” segments are blocks of polymerized units in which the comonomer content (content of monomers other than ethylene) is greater than 5 weight percent, or greater than 8 weight percent, greater than 10 weight percent, or greater than 15 weight percent based on the weight of the polymer. In some embodiments, the comonomer content in the soft segments can be greater than 20 weight percent, greater than 25 weight percent, greater than 30 weight percent, greater than 35 weight percent, greater than 40 weight percent, greater than 45 weight percent, greater than 50 weight percent, or greater than 60 weight percent and can be up to 100 weight percent.

The soft segments can be present in an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer from 1 weight percent to 99 weight percent of the total weight of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer, or from 5 weight percent to 95 weight percent, from 10 weight percent to 90 weight percent, from 15 weight percent to 85 weight percent, from 20 weight percent to 80 weight percent, from 25 weight percent to 75 weight percent, from 30 weight percent to 70 weight percent, from 35 weight percent to 65 weight percent, from 40 weight percent to 60 weight percent, or from 45 weight percent to 55 weight percent of the total weight of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer. Conversely, the hard segments can be present in similar ranges. The soft segment weight percentage and the hard segment weight percentage can be calculated based on data obtained from DSC or NMR. Such methods and calculations are disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,608,668, entitled “Ethylene/a-Olefin Block Inter-polymers,” filed on Mar. 15, 2006, in the name of Colin L. P. Shan, Lonnie Hazlitt, et al. and assigned to Dow Global Technologies Inc., the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. In particular, hard segment and soft segment weight percentages and comonomer content may be determined as described in Column 57 to Column 63 of U.S. Pat. No. 7,608,668.

The ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is a polymer comprising two or more chemically distinct regions or segments (referred to as “blocks”) preferably joined (or covalently bonded) in a linear manner, that is, a polymer comprising chemically differentiated units which are joined end-to-end with respect to polymerized ethylenic functionality, rather than in pendent or grafted fashion. In an embodiment, the blocks differ in the amount or type of incorporated comonomer, density, amount of crystallinity, crystallite size attributable to a polymer of such composition, type or degree of tacticity (isotactic or syndiotactic), regio-regularity or regio-irregularity, amount of branching (including long chain branching or hyper-branching), homogeneity or any other chemical or physical property. Compared to block interpolymers of the prior art, including interpolymers produced by sequential monomer addition, fluxional catalysts, or anionic polymerization techniques, the present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is characterized by unique distributions of both polymer polydispersity (PDI or Mw/Mn or MWD), polydisperse block length distribution, and/or polydisperse block number distribution, due, in an embodiment, to the effect of the shuttling agent(s) in combination with multiple catalysts used in their preparation.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is produced in a continuous process and possesses a polydispersity index (Mw/Mn) from 1.7 to 3.5, or from 1.8 to 3, or from 1.8 to 2.5, or from 1.8 to 2.2. When produced in a batch or semi-batch process, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer possesses Mw/Mn from 1.0 to 3.5, or from 1.3 to 3, or from 1.4 to 2.5, or from 1.4 to 2.

In addition, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer possesses a PDI (or Mw/Mn) fitting a Schultz-Flory distribution rather than a Poisson distribution. The present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer has both a polydisperse block distribution as well as a polydisperse distribution of block sizes. This results in the formation of polymer products having improved and distinguishable physical properties. The theoretical benefits of a polydisperse block distribution have been previously modeled and discussed in Potemkin, Physical Review E (1998) 57 (6), pp. 6902-6912, and Dobrynin, J. Chem. Phys. (1997) 107 (21), pp 9234-9238.

In an embodiment, the present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer possesses a most probable distribution of block lengths.

In a further embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer of the present disclosure, especially those made in a continuous, solution polymerization reactor, possess a most probable distribution of block lengths. In one embodiment of this disclosure, the ethylene multi-block interpolymers are defined as having:

(A) Mw/Mn from about 1.7 to about 3.5, at least one melting point, Tm, in degrees Celsius, and a density, d, in grams/cubic centimeter, where in the numerical values of Tm and d correspond to the relationship:


Tm>−2002.9+4538.5(d)−2422.2(d)2, or

(B) Mw/Mn from about 1.7 to about 3.5, and is characterized by a heat of fusion, ΔH in J/g, and a delta quantity, ΔT, in degrees Celsius defined as the temperature difference between the tallest DSC peak and the tallest Crystallization Analysis Fractionation (“CRYSTAF”) peak, wherein the numerical values of ΔT and ΔH have the following relationships:


ΔT>−0.1299 ΔH+62.81 for ΔH greater than zero and up to 130 J/g


ΔT≧48° C. for ΔH greater than 130 J/g

wherein the CRYSTAF peak is determined using at least 5 percent of the cumulative polymer, and if less than 5 percent of the polymer has an identifiable CRYSTAF peak, then the CRYSTAF temperature is 30° C.; or

(C) elastic recovery, Re, in percent at 300 percent strain and 1 cycle measured with a compression-molded film of the ethylene/α-olefin interpolymer, and has a density, d, in grams/cubic centimeter, wherein the numerical values of Re and d satisfy the following relationship when ethylene/α-olefin interpolymer is substantially free of crosslinked phase:


Re>1481−1629(d); or

(D) has a molecular weight fraction which elutes between 40° C. and 130° C. when fractionated using TREF, characterized in that the fraction has a molar comonomer content of at least 5 percent higher than that of a comparable random ethylene interpolymer fraction eluting between the same temperatures, wherein said comparable random ethylene interpolymer has the same comonomer(s) and has a melt index, density and molar comonomer content (based on the whole polymer) within 10 percent of that of the ethylene/α-olefin interpolymer; or

(E) has a storage modulus at 25° C., G′(25° C.), and a storage modulus at 100° C., G′(100° C.), wherein the ratio of G′(25° C.) to G′(100° C.) is in the range of about 1:1 to about 9:1.

The ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer may also have:

(F) molecular fraction which elutes between 40° C. and 130° C. when fractionated using TREF, characterized in that the fraction has a block index of at least 0.5 and up to about 1 and a molecular weight distribution, Mw/Mn, greater than about 1.3; or

(G) average block index greater than zero and up to about 1.0 and a molecular weight distribution, Mw/Mn greater than about 1.3.

Suitable monomers for use in preparing the present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer include ethylene and one or more addition polymerizable monomers other than ethylene. Examples of suitable comonomers include straight-chain or branched α-olefins of 3 to 30 carbon atoms, or 4 to 20 carbon atoms, or 4 to 10 carbon atoms, or 4 to 8 carbon atoms, such as propylene, 1-butene, 1-pentene, 3-methyl-1-butene, 1-hexene, 4-methyl-1-pentene, 3-methyl-1-pentene, 1-octene, 1-decene, 1-dodecene, 1-tetradecene, 1-hexadecene, 1-octadecene and 1-eicosene; cyclo-olefins of 3 to 30, or 4 to 20, carbon atoms, such as cyclopentene, cycloheptene, norbornene, 5-methyl-2-norbornene, tetracyclododecene, and 2-methyl-1,4,5,8-dimethano-1,2,3,4,4a,5,8,8a-octahydronaphthalene; di-and polyolefins, such as butadiene, isoprene, 4-methyl-1,3-pentadiene, 1,3-pentadiene, 1,4-pentadiene, 1,5-hexadiene, 1,4-hexadiene, 1,3-hexadiene, 1,3-octadiene, 1,4-octadiene, 1,5-octadiene, 1,6-octadiene, 1,7-octadiene, ethylidenenorbornene, vinyl norbornene, dicyclopentadiene, 7-methyl-1,6-octadiene, 4-ethylidene-8-methyl-1,7-nonadiene, and 5,9-dimethyl-1,4,8-decatriene; and 3-phenylpropene, 4-phenylpropene, 1,2-difluoroethylene, tetrafluoroethylene, and 3,3,3-trifluoro-1-propene.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is void of styrene (i.e., is styrene-free).

The ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer can be produced via a chain shuttling process such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,858,706, which is herein incorporated by reference. In particular, suitable chain shuttling agents and related information are listed in Col. 16, line 39 through Col. 19, line 44. Suitable catalysts are described in Col. 19, line 45 through Col. 46, line 19 and suitable co-catalysts in Col. 46, line 20 through Col. 51 line 28. The process is described throughout the document, but particularly in Col. Col 51, line 29 through Col. 54, line 56. The process is also described, for example, in the following: U.S. Pat. No. 7,608,668; U.S. Pat. No. 7,893,166; and U.S. Pat. No. 7,947,793.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer has hard segments and soft segments, is styrene-free, consists of only (i) ethylene and (ii) a C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer, and is defined as having:

a Mw/Mn from 1.7 to 3.5, at least one melting point, Tm, in degrees Celsius, and a density, d, in grams/cubic centimeter, where in the numerical values of Tm and d correspond to the relationship:


Tm<−2002.9+4538.5(d)−2422.2(d)2,

    • where d is from 0.86 g/cc, or 0.87 g/cc, or 0.88 g/cc to 0.89 g/cc; and
    • Tm is from 80° C., or 85° C., or 90° C. to 95, or 99° C., or 100° C., or 105° C. to 110° C., or 115° C., or 120° C., or 125° C.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is an ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer and has one, some, any combination of, or all the properties (i)-(ix) below:

(i) a melt temperature (Tm) from 80° C., or 85° C., or 90° C. to 95, or 99° C., or 100° C., or 105° C. to 110° C., or 115° C., or 120° C., or 125° C.;

(ii) a density from 0.86 g/cc, or 0.87 g/cc, or 0.88 g/cc to 0.89 g/cc;

(iii) 50-85 wt % soft segment and 40-15 wt % hard segment;

(iv) from 10 mol %, or 13 mol %, or 14 mol %, or 15 mol % to16 mol %, or 17 mol %, or 18 mol %, or 19 mol %, or 20 mol % octene in the soft segment;

(v) from 0.5 mol %, or 1.0 mol %, or 2.0 mol %, or 3.0 mol % to 4.0 mol %, or 5 mol %, or 6 mol %, or 7 mol %, or 9 mol % octene in the hard segment;

(vi) a melt index (MI) from 1 g/10 min, or 2 g/10 min, or 5 g/10 min, or 7 g/10 min to 10 g/10 min, or 15 g/10 min to 20 g/10 min;

(vii) a Shore A hardness from 65, or 70, or 71, or 72 to 73, or 74, or 75, or 77, or 79, or 80;

(viii) an elastic recovery (Re) from 50%, or 60% to 70%, or 80%, or 90%, at 300% min−1 deformation rate at 21° C. as measured in accordance with ASTM D 1708; and

(ix) a polydisperse distribution of blocks and a polydisperse distribution of block sizes.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer consists of (i) ethylene monomer and (ii) C4-C8 α-olefin comonomer. In a further embodiment, the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer is an ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer is sold under the Tradename INFUSE™ available from The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Mich., USA. In a further embodiment, the ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer is INFUSE™ 9817.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer is INFUSE™ 9500.

In an embodiment, the ethylene/octene multi-block copolymer is INFUSE™ 9507.

The present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer may comprise two or more embodiments disclosed herein.

In an embodiment, the tube member 30 is composed of a polymeric blend of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and high density polyethylene (HDPE). The polymeric blend of ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and HDPE includes from 60 wt %, or 65 wt %, or 70 wt %, or 75 wt % to 80 wt %, or 5 wt %, or 90 wt % of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and a reciprocal amount of HDPE or from 40 wt %, or 35 wt %, or 30 wt %, or 25 wt % to 20 wt %, or 15 wt %, or 10 wt % HDPE. In a further embodiment, the tube member 30 is composed only of the polymeric blend of ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and the HDPE, each blend component present in the weight percent ranges disclosed previously in this paragraph.

The heat and stress imparted onto a tube member during heat sealing limits the materials that can be used to make the tube member. A tube member composed of low elasticity polyolefin (e.g., LDPE, HDPE) crushes, cracks, breaks, and is unusable. A tube member composed of a polyolefin elastomer (e.g., ENGAGE or VERSIFY elastomers) can exhibit deformation, yet does not recover adequately or welds shut. A tube member composed of a crosslinked elastomer (e.g., thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) may fully recover but does not seal adequately and does not form a hermetic seal. Applicant surprisingly discovered that a tube member composed of the present ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer recovers (recoils), will not seal to itself, and will seal the tube member to the film of the container using bar sealing.

In an embodiment, the tube member 30 excludes fitments with oval, wing-shaped, eye-shaped, or canoe-shaped bases.

In an embodiment, the tube member 30 contains a removable closure 32. The removable closure 32 covers the distal end and prevents the product 58 from spilling out of the container 10. The removable closure 32 may be a screw-on cap, a flip-top cap, a friction fit plug, or other types of removable (and optionally reclosable) closures.

In an embodiment, a flexible container 10a is provided as shown in FIGS. 1A and 7. The flexible container 10a is the same as, or substantially the same as, the flexible container 10. The difference between flexible container 10 and flexible container 10a is the location of the tube member 30. For flexible container 10, the tube member 30 is sealed in the neck section II, whereas for flexible container 10a, the tube member 30 is sealed in the transition section III with the neck 50 of flexible container 10a permanently sealed.

FIGS. 1A and 7 show flexible container 10a with the tube member 30 sealed in the transition section III. The tube member 30 is sealed between the second gusset panel 20 and the front panel 22 along the upper tapered seal 41a in the transition section III, to form a hermetic seal. The neck 50 is permanently sealed closed.

In an embodiment, the flexible container 10a can be fabricated to include panel material sealed around the tube 30, for protection of the tube member 30. An access member provides access to the tube member 30 and the closure 32. An “access member” is a structure that enables opening of a seal. The term “actuate,” “actuated,” and like terms is the act of manipulating the access member to open and/or expose a sealed component. Actuation includes such nonlimiting acts as pulling, tearing, peeling, separating, folding (and any combination thereof), the access member. Nonlimiting examples of suitable access members include a tear notch, a tear slit, a perforation, a line of weakness, a cut line, and combinations thereof.

An access member, such as tear seal 53 (shown in FIG. 1A), when actuated, provides access to the tube member 30 and closure 32 (closure 32 being optional).

Each panel includes a respective bottom face. FIG. 4 shows four triangle-shaped bottom faces 26a-26d, each bottom face being an extension of a respective film panel. The bottom faces 26a-26d make up the bottom segment 26. The four panels 26a-26d come together at a midpoint of the bottom segment 26. The bottom faces 26a-26d are sealed together, such as by using a heat-sealing technology. For instance, a weld can be made to seal the edges of the bottom segment 26 together. Nonlimiting examples of suitable heat-sealing technologies include hot bar sealing, hot die sealing, impulse sealing, high frequency sealing, or ultrasonic sealing methods.

FIG. 4 shows bottom segment 26. Each panel 18, 20, 22, 24 has a respective bottom face 26a-26d that is present in the bottom segment 26. Each bottom face is bordered by two opposing peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d. Each peripheral tapered seal 40a-40d extends from a respective peripheral seal 41. The peripheral tapered seals for the front panel 22 and the rear panel 24 have an inner edge 29a-29d (FIG. 4) and an outer edge 31 (FIG. 6). The peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d converge at a bottom seal area 33 (FIGS. 1, 4, 6).

The front panel bottom face 26a includes a first line A defined by the inner edge 29a of the first peripheral tapered seal 40a and a second line B defined by the inner edge 29b of the second peripheral tapered seal 40b, as shown in FIG. 4. The first line A intersects the second line B at an apex point 35a in the bottom seal area 33. The front panel bottom face 26a has a bottom distalmost inner seal point 37a (“BDISP 37a”). The BDISP 37a is located on the inner edge.

The apex point 35a is separated from the BDISP 37a by a distance S (FIGS. 4, 6) from 0 millimeter (mm) to less than 8.0 mm.

In an embodiment, the rear panel bottom face 26c includes an apex point 35c similar to the apex point 35a on the front panel bottom face 26a, as shown in FIG. 4. The rear panel bottom face 26c includes a first line C defined by the inner edge of the 29c first peripheral tapered seal 40c and a second line D defined by the inner edge 29d of the second peripheral tapered seal 40d. The first line C intersects the second line D at an apex point 35c in the bottom seal area 33. The rear panel bottom face 26c has a bottom distalmost inner seal point 37c (“BDISP 37c”). The BDISP 37c is located on the inner edge. The apex point 35c is separated from the BDISP 37c by a distance T (FIG. 4) from 0 millimeter (mm) to less than 8.0 mm.

It is understood the following description to the front panel bottom face 26a applies equally to the rear panel bottom face 26c, with reference numerals to the rear panel bottom face 26c shown in adjacent closed parentheses.

In an embodiment, the BDISP 37a (37c) is located where the inner edges 29a (29c) and 29b (29d) intersect. The distance S (distance T) between the BDISP 37a (37c) and the apex point 35a (35c) is 0 mm.

In an embodiment, the inner seal edge diverges from the inner edges 29a, 29b (29c, 29d), to form an inner seal arc 39a (front panel) and inner seal arc 39c (rear panel), as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6. The BDISP 37a (37c) is located on the inner seal arc 39a (39c). The apex point 35a (35c) is separated from the BDISP 37a (37c) by the distance S (distance T), which is from greater than 0 mm, or 0.5 mm, or 1.0 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 2.6 mm, or 3.0 mm, or 3.5 mm, or 3.9 mm to 4.0 mm, or 4.5 mm, or 5.0 mm, or 5.2 mm, or 5.3 mm, or 5.5 mm, or 6.0 mm, or 6.5 mm, or 7.0 mm, or 7.5 mm, or 7.9 mm.

In an embodiment, apex point 35a (35c) is separated from the BDISP 37a (37c) by the distance S (distance T) which is from greater than 0 mm to less than 6.0 mm.

In an embodiment, the distance S (distance T) from the apex point 35a (35c) to the BDISP 37a (37c) is from greater than 0 mm, or 0.5 mm, or 1.0 mm, or 2.0 mm to 4.0 mm or 5.0 mm or less than 5.5 mm.

In an embodiment, apex point 35a (35c) is separated from the BDISP 37a (37c) by the distance S (distance T), which is from 3.0 mm, or 3.5 mm, or 3.9 mm to 4.0 mm, or 4.5 mm, or 5.0 mm, or 5.2 mm, or 5.3 mm, or 5.5 mm.

In an embodiment, the distal inner seal arc 39a (39c) has a radius of curvature from 0 mm, or greater than 0 mm, or 1.0 mm to 19.0 mm, or 20.0 mm.

In an embodiment, each peripheral tapered seal 40a-40d (outside edge) and an extended line from respective peripheral seal 41 (outside edge) form an angle Z, as shown in FIG. 1. The angle Z is from 40°, or 42°, or 44°, or 45° to 46°, or 48°, or 50°. In an embodiment, angle Z is 45°.

The bottom segment 26 includes a pair of gussets 54 and 56 formed thereat, which are essentially extensions of the bottom faces 26a-26d, as shown in FIG. 4. The gussets 54 and 56 can facilitate the ability of the flexible container 10 to stand upright. These gussets 54 and 56 are formed from excess material from each bottom face 26a-26d that are joined together to form the gussets 54 and 56. The triangular portions of the gussets 54 and 56 comprise two adjacent bottom segment panels sealed together and extending into its respective gusset. For example, adjacent bottom faces 26a and 26d extend beyond the plane of their bottom surface along an intersecting edge and are sealed together to form one side of a first gusset 54. Similarly, adjacent bottom faces 26c and 26d extend beyond the plane of their bottom surface along an intersecting edge and are sealed together to form the other side of the first gusset 54. Likewise, a second gusset 56 is similarly formed from adjacent bottom faces 26a-26b and 26b-26c. The gussets 54 and 56 can contact a portion of the bottom segment 26, where the gussets 54 and 56 can contact bottom faces 26b and 26d covering them, while bottom segment panels 26a and 26c remain exposed at the bottom end 46.

FIG. 6 shows an enlarged view of the bottom seal area 33 (Area 6) of FIG. 1 and the front panel 26a. The fold lines 60 and 62 of respective gusset panels 18, 20 are separated by a distance U that is from 0 mm, or greater than 0 mm, or 0.5 mm, or 1.0 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 3.0 mm, or 4.0 mm, or 5.0 mm to 12.0 mm, or greater than 60.0 mm (for larger containers, for example). In an embodiment, distance U is from greater than 0 mm to less than6.0 mm. FIG. 6 shows line A (defined by inner edge 29a) intersecting line B (defined by inner edge 29b) at apex point 35a. BDISP 37a is on the distal inner seal arc 39a. Apex point 35a is separated from BDISP 37a by a distance S having a length from greater than 0 mm, or 1.0 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 2.6 mm, or 3.0 mm, or 3.5 mm, or 3.9 mm to 4.0 mm, or 4.5 mm, or 5.0 mm, or 5.2 mm, or 5.5 mm, or 6.0 mm, or 6.5 mm, or 7.0 mm, or 7.5 mm, or 7.9 mm.

The tube member 30 may or may not have a diameter that is greater than the distance U. With respect to the flexible container 10 shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, when the tube member 30 has a diameter that is greater than the distance U, the tube member 30 is hermetically sealed to panels 18, 20, 22, and 24 at the neck 50.

In FIG. 6, an overseal 64 is formed where the four peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d converge in the bottom seal area 33. The overseal 64 includes 4-ply portions 66, where a portion of each panel is heat sealed to a portion of every other panel. Each panel represents 1-ply in the 4-ply heat seal. The overseal 64 also includes a 2-ply portion 68 where two panels (front panel 22 and rear panel 24) are sealed together. Consequently, the “overseal,” as used herein, is the area where the peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d converge that is subjected to a subsequent heat seal operation (and subjected to at least two heat seal operations altogether). The overseal 64 is located in the peripheral tapered seals 40a-40d and does not extend into the chamber of the flexible container 10.

In an embodiment, the apex point 35a is located above the overseal 64. The apex point 35a is separated from, and does not contact the overseal 64. The BDISP 37a is located above the overseal 64. The BDISP 37a is separated from and does not contact the overseal 64.

In an embodiment, the apex point 35a is located between the BDISP 37a and the overseal 64, wherein the overseal 64 does not contact the apex point 35a and the overseal 64 does not contact the BDISP 37a.

The distance between the apex point 35a to the top edge of the overseal 64 is defined as distance W, shown in FIG. 6. In an embodiment, the distance W has a length from 0 mm, or greater than 0 mm, or 2.0 mm, or 4.0 mm to 6.0 mm, or 8.0 mm, or 10.0 mm or 15.0 mm.

In an embodiment, the flexible container 10 has a volume from 0.25 liters (L), or 0.5 L, or 0.75 L, or 1.0 L, or 1.5 L, or 2.5 L, or 3 L, or 3.5 L, or 3.78 L or 4.0 L, or 4.5 L or 5.0 L to 6.0 L, or 7.0 L, or 8.0 L, or 9.0 L or 10.0 L, or 20 L, or 30 L.

4. Handle

The present flexible container includes a handle. In an embodiment, the gusset side panels adjoin the front panel and the rear panel along handle seals to form a handle. The handle is located at an end of the chamber. The handle includes a channel formed from the handle seals. In other words, the channel is formed within the handle seals and is located between the handle seals.

A “handle” is a portion of one or more of the panels conformed to allow a user to grip the flexible container. The handle may be a top handle or a bottom handle. As used herein, a “top handle” is located at the top end of the chamber (adjacent the neck section IV), and a “bottom handle” is located at the bottom end of the chamber (adjacent the bottom section I).

The handle is formed from a handle seal. The “handle seal” includes portions of the panels formed from multilayer film extending above and/or below the chamber of the flexible container that are sealed together. FIGS. 1 and 2 show that the bottom handle 14 and the top handle 12 can comprise up to four plies (corresponding to the four panels) of multilayer film sealed together with a handle seal 80 for a four panel container 10. Any portion of the handles 12, 14 where all four plies are not completely sealed together by the heat-sealing method, can be adhered together in any appropriate manner, such as by a tack seal to form a fully-sealed multilayer handle. Alternatively, the handle 12, 14 can be made from as few as two plies of multilayer film from two panels. The handles 12, 14 can have any suitable shape and generally will take the shape of the multilayer film end. For example, typically the web of multilayer film has a rectangular shape when unwound, such that its ends have a straight edge. Therefore, the handles 12, 14 would also have a rectangular shape. Although FIGS. 1-3 and 7-10A show handles 12, 14 shaped for hand-carry, it is understood that handles 12, 14 can be shaped for hanging support. Handles 12, 14 may be shaped and sized to receive a hook, or similar structure, for hanging the flexible container from a support structure.

Although FIGS. 1 and 2 show the flexible container 10 with a top handle 12 and a bottom handle 14, it is understood the flexible container may be fabricated with only one handle, or no handle.

A. Top Handle

In an embodiment, the flexible container includes a top handle located at the top end of the chamber, as shown in FIG. 2.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 7, the top handle 12 extends from the top segment 28 and, in particular, extends from the four panels 28a-28d that make up the top segment 28. The four panels 28a-28d of film that extend into the top handle 12 are all sealed together with a handle seal 80 to form the top handle 12. For instance, a weld can be made to form the handle seal 80 and the top handle 12, and to seal the edges of the four panels 28a-28d of film together. Nonlimiting examples of suitable heat-sealing technologies include hot bar sealing, hot die sealing, impulse sealing, high frequency sealing, or ultrasonic sealing methods. The top handle 12 is located at the top end of the chamber 45, as shown in FIG. 2.

The top handle 12 can have a U-shape and, in particular, an upside down U-shape with a horizontal carry member 12a and two pairs of spaced legs 13 and 15 extending therefrom. The pair of legs 13 and 15 extend from the top segment 28, adjacent to the neck.

Carry member 12a extends above the neck and above the top segment 28 when the top handle 12 is extended in a position perpendicular to the top segment 28. The entire carry member 12a can be moved above the neck 50. The two pairs of legs 13 and 15 along with the carry member 12a together make up the top handle 12 surrounding a top handle opening 21 that allows a user to place her hand therethrough and grasp the carry member 12a. The top handle 12 may or may not contain a top handle opening 21 or cutout section therein sized to fit a user's hand, as seen in FIG. 1. The top handle opening 21 can be any shape that is convenient to fit the hand and, in one aspect, the top handle opening 21 can have a generally oval shape. In another embodiment, the top handle opening 21 can have a generally rectangular shape.

The top handle 12 can contain a dead machine fold 34a, 34b that provides for the handle 12 to consistently fold in the same direction, as illustrated in FIG. 3. The dead machine fold 34a, 34b permits folding in a first direction toward the front side panel 22 and restricts folding in a second direction toward the rear side panel 24, as shown in FIG. 3. The term “restricts” as used throughout this application, can mean that it is easier to move in one direction, or the first direction, than in an opposite direction, such as the second direction. The machine fold 34a, 34b can be located in each of the pair of legs 13, 15 at a location where the handle seal 80 begins. The machine fold 34a, 34b in the top handle 12 can allow for the top handle 12 to be inclined to fold or bend consistently in the same first direction towards the front panel 22 as the bottom handle 14, rather than in the second direction towards the rear panel 24.

The top handle opening 21 of the top handle 12 may or may not have a flap 36 that comprises the cut material that forms the top handle opening 21, as shown in FIGS. 1, 1A and 2. To define the top handle opening 21, the top handle 21 can have a section that is cut out of the multilayer top handle 12 along three sides or portions while remaining attached at a fourth side, such as the upper handle portion 12a, the leg 13, or the leg 15. This provides a flap of material 36 that can be pushed through the top handle opening 21 by the user upward toward the upper handle portion 12a, and folded over an edge of the top handle opening 21 to provide a relatively smooth gripping surface at an edge that contacts the user's hand. If the flap of material 36 were completely cut out, this would leave an exposed fourth side or upper edge that could be relatively sharp and could possibly cut or scratch the hand when placed there. In an embodiment, the flap of material 36 is formed from the handle seal 80. In an embodiment, the top handle 12 includes a flap portion 36.

In an embodiment, the top handle 12 includes one, two, or three flap portions 36. In an embodiment, the top handle 12 includes a flap portion 36 attached at the upper handle portion 12a, as shown in FIG. 1. In another embodiment, the top handle 12 includes a flap portion 36 attached at one or both of the legs 13, 15. Although FIG. 1A shows a flap portion 36 attached to leg 13, it is understood that the flap portion can be located along leg 15, or along each of leg 13 and leg 15.

In an embodiment, the top handle 12 excludes a flap portion 36.

B. Bottom Handle

In an embodiment, the flexible container includes a bottom handle located at the bottom end of the chamber, as shown in FIG. 2.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, the flexible bottom handle 14 can be positioned at a bottom end 46 of the container such that the bottom handle 14 is an extension of the bottom segment 26, and, in particular, can extend from the four bottom faces 26a-26d that make up the bottom segment 26, as shown in FIG. 4. The four panels 26a-26d come together at a midpoint of the bottom segment 26. The bottom faces 26a-26d are sealed together, such as by using a heat-sealing technology, to form a handle seal 80 that forms the bottom handle 14. For instance, a weld can be made to form the handle seal 80 and the bottom handle 14, and to seal the edges of the bottom segment 26 together. Nonlimiting examples of suitable heat-sealing technologies include hot bar sealing, hot die sealing, impulse sealing, high frequency sealing, or ultrasonic sealing methods. The bottom handle 14 is located at the bottom end of the chamber 45b, as shown in FIG. 2.

As shown in FIG. 4, the gussets 54 and 56 of the flexible container 10 can further extend into the bottom handle 14. In the aspect where the gussets 54 and 56 are positioned adjacent to bottom segment panels 26b and 26d, the bottom handle 14 can also extend across bottom faces 26b and 26d, extending between the pair of panels 18 and 20. The bottom handle 14 can be positioned along a center portion or midpoint of the bottom segment 26 between the front panel 22 and the rear panel 24.

The bottom handle 14 can have a U-shape with a horizontal carry member 14a having two pairs of spaced legs 17 and 19 extending therefrom, as shown in FIG. 2. The pair of legs 17 and 19 extend from the bottom segment 26.

The bottom handle 14 may or may not contain a bottom handle opening 16 or cutout section therein sized to fit a user's hand, as seen in FIG. 1. The bottom handle opening 16 can be any shape that is convenient to fit the hand and, in one aspect, the bottom handle opening 16 can have a generally oval shape. In another embodiment, the bottom handle opening 16 can have a generally rectangular shape.

The bottom handle opening 16 of the bottom handle 14 may or may not have a flap 38 that comprises the cut material that forms the bottom handle opening 16. To define the bottom handle opening 16, the bottom handle 14 can have a section that is cut out of the multilayer bottom handle 14 along three sides or portions while remaining attached at a fourth side, such as the lower handle portion 14a, the leg 17, or the leg 19. This provides a flap of material 38 that can be pushed through the bottom handle opening 16 by the user downward toward the lower handle portion 14a, and folded over an edge of the bottom handle opening 16 to provide a relatively smooth gripping surface at an edge that contacts the user's hand. If the flap of material 38 were completely cut out, this would leave an exposed fourth side or lower edge that could be relatively sharp and could possibly cut or scratch the hand when placed there. In an embodiment, the flap of material 38 is formed from the handle seal 80. In an embodiment, the bottom handle 14 includes one, two, or three flap portions 38. In an embodiment, the bottom handle 14 includes a flap portion 38 attached at the lower handle portion 14a, as shown in FIG. 1. In another embodiment, the bottom handle 14 includes a flap portion 38 attached at one or both of the legs 17, 19.

In an embodiment, the bottom handle 14 excludes a flap portion 38.

In another embodiment, the bottom handle 14 excludes a flap portion 38 and the top handle 12 excludes a flap portion 36.

As the flexible container 10 is evacuated and less product 58 remains, the bottom handle 14 can continue to provide support to help the flexible container 10 to remain standing upright unsupported and without tipping over. Because the bottom handle 14 is sealed generally along its entire length extending between the pair of gusset panels 18 and 20 with a handle seal 80, it can help to keep the gussets 54 and 56 (FIGS. 4) together and continue to provide support to stand the container 10 upright, even as the container 10 is emptied.

In an embodiment, the bottom handle 14 contains a machine fold that also allows it to fold consistently in the same first direction towards the front panel 22 as the top handle 12.

When the container 10 is in a rest position, such as when it is standing upright on its bottom segment 26, the bottom handle 14 can be folded underneath the container 10 along a bottom machine fold in the first direction towards the front panel 22, so that it is parallel to the bottom segment 26 and adjacent bottom panel 26a, and the top handle 12 will automatically fold along its machine fold 34a, 34b in the same first direction towards the front panel 22, with a front surface of the top handle 12 parallel to a panel 28a of the top segment 28. The top handle 12 folds in the first direction towards the front panel 22, rather than extending straight up, perpendicular to the top segment 28, because of the machine fold 34a, 34b. Both handles 12 and 14 are inclined to fold in the same direction towards the front panel 22, such that upon dispensing, the handles can fold the same direction, relatively parallel to its respective end panel or end segment, to make dispensing easier and more controlled. Therefore, in a rest position, the handles 12 and 14 are both folded generally parallel to one another. Additionally, the container 10 can stand upright even with the bottom handle 14 positioned underneath the upright container 10.

5. Channel

In an embodiment, each flexible container disclosed herein includes at least one handle, top handle 12 and/or bottom handle 14.

In an embodiment, at least one handle includes at least one channel formed from the handle seals. The channel includes a tube member 30 as shown in FIGS. 8-10A. A “channel” is a void volume sandwiched between at least two panels that is formed by the handle seal, which at least partially, or fully, surrounds the void volume. The channel is located within the handle.

FIGS. 8-10A show embodiments of another flexible container provided by the present disclosure. In an embodiment, a flexible container is provided and includes a flexible container comprising: a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel, the gusset side panels adjoining the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber; and (ii) handle seals to form a handle. The handle is located at an end of the chamber and includes a channel formed from the handle seals. A tube member is sealed to the flexible container and a portion of the tube member (proximate end of the tube member) is in fluid communication with the chamber. Another portion of the tube member (a distal end of the tube member) is located in the channel.

FIGS. 8, 8A shows a flexible container 110 with a channel 186 in the top handle 12, the channel 186 formed by handle seal 80. FIG. 8 shows flexible container 110 in the collapsed configuration and FIG. 8A shows flexible container 110 in the expanded configuration. The channel 186 extends through leg 15. The flexible container 110 is the same as, or substantially the same as, the flexible container 10. The difference between flexible container 10 and flexible container 110 is the location of the tube member. For flexible container 10, the tube member 30 is sealed in the neck section IV, whereas for flexible container 110, the tube member 190 is located in a channel formed by the top handle 12.

For flexible container 110, the neck 50 may or may not include a fitment and/or a re-sealable seal for loading product 58 into the chamber 45. In an embodiment, the neck 50 is permanently sealed with no fitment as shown in FIGS. 8-8A.

The channel 186 contains a tube member 190. The tube member 190 can have any structure, composition and/or dimensions as previously disclosed for tube member 30. A proximate end 192 of the tube member 190 is heat sealed between two opposing panels (such as between front panel 22 and gusset panel 18 for example) along upper tapered seal 41a in the transition section III. The proximate end 192 is in fluid communication with the chamber 45. A distal end 194 of the tube member 190 is located in the channel 186 where the carry member 12a and the leg 15 intersect at location E. The distal end 194 can include a removable closure 195. An access member, such as a tear seal 196, is present in the films that form the handle 12. Actuation of the access member 196 exposes the distal end 194 of the tube member 190.

FIG. 8A shows that a person 198 can hold the flexible container 110 upside down by grasping only the bottom handle 14 with her hand so as to discharge the product 58 in the chamber 45 through the tube member 190.

FIGS. 9, 9A show a flexible container 210 with a channel 286 in the top handle 12, the channel 286 formed by the handle seal 80. FIG. 9 shows flexible container 210 in the collapsed configuration and FIG. 9A shows flexible container 210 in the expanded configuration. The flexible container 210 is the same as, or substantially the same as, the flexible container 10. The difference between flexible container 10 and flexible container 210 is the location of the tube member. For flexible container 10, the tube member 30 is sealed in the neck section IV, whereas for flexible container 210, the tube member 290 is located in a channel formed by the top handle 12.

For flexible container 210, the neck 50 may or may not include a fitment and/or a re-sealable seal for loading product 58 into the chamber 45. In an embodiment, the neck 50 is permanently sealed with no fitment as shown in FIGS. 9-9A.

Located in the channel 286 is a tube member 290. The tube member 290 can have any structure, composition and/or dimensions as previously disclosed for tube member 30. The channel 286 extends through the one of the legs 15 and through carry member 12a. A mid-section 291 of the tube member 290 is heat sealed between two opposing panels (such between front panel 22 and gusset panel 18 for example) along upper tapered seal 41a in the transition section III. The tube member 290 extends into the chamber 45 such that a proximate end 292 of the tube member 290 is in fluid communication with the chamber 45. The length of the tube member 286 can be varied so that the proximate end 292 is located in either the body section (292) or is located in the bottom section I (292a) of the flexible container 210.

FIG. 9 shows the tube member 290 bends and extends beyond location E and through the channel 286 formed by handle seal 80 in carry member 12a, such that a distal end 294 of the tube member 290 is located in the channel 286 where the carry member 12a and the leg 13 intersect at location F. The distal end 294 can include a removable closure 295. An access member, such as a tear seal 296, is present along a portion of the handle seal 80. Actuation of the access member 296 exposes the distal end 294 of the tube member 290.

In an embodiment, the tube member 290 includes a flexible elbow 297. The flexible elbow 297 permits the tube member 290 to bend at location E without deformation. The flexible elbow 297 also permits extension of the tube member when the tube member 290 is removed from the channel 286 vis-à-vis actuation of the tear seal 296. In a further embodiment, the tube member 290 is a drinking straw. A “drinking straw” is a tube member for transferring a beverage from a container to the mouth of a drinker.

FIG. 9A shows that a person 298 can hold the flexible container 210 and enjoy the consumption of liquid content such as a refreshing beverage 299, by sucking the liquid 299 from the bottom of the chamber 45 and through the tube member 290 (that is a drinking straw).

Prior to use, the channel 286 protects the tube member 290 from dirt and/or contaminants. FIG. 9A shows that by pulling the tear seal 296 in direction G, a person 298 actuates the tear seal 296 to expose a clean, contaminant-free tube member 290 (i.e., a drinking straw). In this way, the flexible container 210 (and flexible container 10a, 110) provides an aseptic container suitable consuming content therefrom. The flexible container 210 thereby provides a convenient, safe, clean delivery platform for a comestible, such as beverage 299, stored in the chamber 45. The person 298 can place her lips and/or mouth directly on the clean and dirt-free distal end 294 of the tube member 290 for safe consumption of the beverage 299, without fear or risk of contamination.

FIGS. 10, 10A show a flexible container 310 with a channel 386 in the bottom handle 14, the channel 386 formed by the handle seal 80. FIG. 10 shows flexible container 310 in the collapsed configuration and FIG. 10A shows flexible container 310 in the expanded configuration. The channel 386 extends through the leg 19. The flexible container 310 is the same as, or substantially the same as, the flexible container 10. The difference between flexible container 10 and flexible container 310 is the location of the tube member. For flexible container 10, the tube member 30 is sealed in the neck section IV, whereas for flexible container 310, the tube member 390 is located in bottom section I in a channel formed in the bottom handle 14.

For flexible container 310, the neck 50 may or may not include a fitment and/or a re-sealable seal for loading product 58 into the chamber 45. In an embodiment, the neck 50 is permanently sealed with no fitment as shown in FIGS. 10-10A.

The channel 386 contains a tube member 390. The tube member 390 can have any structure, composition, and/or dimensions as previously disclosed for tube member 30. A proximate end 392 of the tube member 390 is heat sealed between two opposing panels (such as between front panel 22 and gusset panel 18 for example) along peripheral seal 41 in the bottom section I. The proximate end 392 is in fluid communication with the chamber 45. A distal end 394 of the tube member 390 is located in the channel 386 in leg 19. The distal end 394 can include a removable closure 395. An access member, such as a tear seal 396 is present. Actuation of the access member 396 exposes the distal end 394 of the tube member 390.

FIG. 10A shows that a person 398 can hold the flexible container 310 from the top handle 12 and discharge the contents 58 of the chamber 45 through the tube member 390.

Flexible container 10, 10a, 110, 210, and 310 each may contain one, two, or more tube members as disclosed herein.

6. Flowable Substances

The flexible container 10, 10a, 110, 210, and 310 can be used to store any number of flowable substances therein. In particular, a flowable food product 58 can be stored within the flexible container 10, as shown in FIGS. 2, 7, 8A, 9A (beverage 299) and 10A. In one aspect, flowable food products 58 such as salad dressings; sauces; dairy products; mayonnaise; mustard; ketchup; soy sauce; other condiments; syrup; beverages such as water, juice, milk, carbonated beverages, beer, or wine; animal feed; pet feed; and the like can be stored inside of the flexible container 10, 10a, 110, 210, and 310.

The flexible container 10, 10a, 110, 210, and 310 is suitable for storage of flowable substances with higher viscosity and requiring application of a squeezing force to the container in order to discharge. Nonlimiting examples of such squeezable and flowable substances include grease, butter, margarine, soap, shampoo, animal feed, and sauces.

It is specifically intended that the present disclosure not be limited to the embodiments and illustrations contained herein, but include modified forms of those embodiments including portions of the embodiments and combinations of elements of different embodiments as come with the scope of the following claims.

Claims

1. A flexible container comprising:

a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel, the gusset side panels adjoining the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber; and (ii) handle seals to form a handle, the handle located at an end of the chamber;
a tube member sealed to the flexible container, the tube member in fluid communication with the chamber; and
the tube member comprising an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

2. The flexible container of claim 1 wherein the tube member is sealed between the front panel and the rear panel in a neck section of the flexible container.

3. The flexible container of claim 1 wherein the tube member is sealed between two panels along the peripheral seal in a transition section of the flexible container.

4. The flexible container of claim 1 wherein the tube member has an outer diameter from 0.5 mm to 50 mm.

5. The flexible container of claim 1 wherein the tube member is composed of a polymeric blend comprising from 60 wt % to 90 wt % of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and from 40 wt % to 10 wt % of a high density polyethylene.

6. A flexible container comprising:

a front panel, a rear panel, a first gusset side panel, and a second gusset side panel, the gusset side panels adjoining the front panel and the rear panel along (i) peripheral seals to form a chamber; and (ii) handle seals to form a handle, the handle located at an end of the chamber and comprising a channel formed from the handle seals; and
a tube member sealed to the flexible container, the tube member in fluid communication with the chamber and located in the channel.

7. The flexible container of claim 6 wherein the tube member comprises an ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer.

8. The flexible container of claim 7 wherein the tube member is composed of a polymeric blend comprising from 60 wt % to 90 wt % of the ethylene/α-olefin multi-block copolymer and from 40 wt % to 10 wt % of a high density polyethylene.

9. The flexible container of claim 6, wherein the tube member is located in a handle leg.

10. The flexible container of claim 6, wherein a proximate end of the tube member is in fluid communication with the chamber.

11. The flexible container of claim 6 wherein a distal end of the tube member is located in the handle; and

the handle comprises an access member for exposing the distal end of the tube member.

12. The flexible container of claim 6 wherein the tube member has an outer diameter from 0.5 mm to 50 mm.

Patent History
Publication number: 20180086526
Type: Application
Filed: Sep 28, 2016
Publication Date: Mar 29, 2018
Inventors: Peter J. Schulz (Midland, MI), Lamy J. Chopin, III (Missouri City, TX), Michelle L. Boven (Katy, TX), Jeffrey E. Bonekamp (Midland, MI)
Application Number: 15/278,726
Classifications
International Classification: B65D 75/56 (20060101); B65D 75/58 (20060101); B65D 30/20 (20060101);