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Claims for Patent: 5,752,363

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Claims for Patent: 5,752,363

Title: Method and apparatus for manufacturing liquid dispensers
Abstract:A method is provided for manufacturing liquid dispensers of the general type having a body 10 presenting a pocket 16, a glass ampule 12 received in the body and enclosing a liquid to be dispensed, and a porous element 14 covering the pocket of the body. The method includes arranging a plurality of bodies 10 in a row, bottom ends up, on a tray, and placing ampules 12 in the pockets 16. A strip 72 of porous material is aligned over the pockets of the bodies and secured in place. Thereafter, the strip is cross cut into individual elements to complete the manufacture of the liquid dispensers. The securing step is preferably carried out by ultrasonically welding the porous material to the bodies so that it is not necessary to use adhesives. The cross-cutting step is preferably carried out by pressing a heated wire through the strip of porous material at a position intermediate each pair of adjacent bodies. An apparatus for carrying out manufacture of the dispensers is also provided.
Inventor(s): Edwards; William R. (El Paso, TX), Frederick; Paul K. (Anthony, NM)
Assignee:
Application Number:08/837,652
Patent Claims: 1. A method of manufacturing a liquid dispenser having a body presenting a pocket, a glass ampule received in the pocket and enclosing a liquid to be dispensed, and a porous element covering the pocket, wherein the porous element includes an unfoamed laminate and the ampule is breakable to release the liquid to be dispensed through the porous element, the method comprising the steps of:

placing a glass ampule in the pocket of the body;

placing the porous element over the pocket, enclosing the ampule within the pocket; and

securing the porous element over the pocket by ultrasonically welding the unfoamed laminate of the porous element to the body.

2. A method as recited in claim 1, further comprising the steps of:

arranging a plurality of bodies on a tray in a row, with the pockets facing upward;

placing an ampule in the pocket of each body in the row;

aligning a strip of porous material over the pockets of the bodies in the row, with the strip extending in a direction transverse to the length of the row;

securing the strip of porous material to the bodies in the row by ultrasonically welding the unfoamed laminate of the strip to the bodies; and thereafter

cutting the strip of porous material into individual porous elements.

3. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein the securing and cutting steps are carried out simultaneously on separate longitudinally spaced trays of bodies, the method further comprising the step of intermittently advancing the trays after completion of the securing and cutting steps in order to sequentially perform the securing and cutting steps on the bodies of each tray.

4. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the securing step includes pressing an ultrasonic welding head against the porous element and the body during ultrasonic welding.

5. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein the cutting step includes pressing a laterally extending heated wire through the strip of porous material at a position intermediate each pair of adjacent bodies in the row so that a cross cut through the strip is obtained.

6. A method of manufacturing a liquid dispenser having a body presenting a pocket, an ampule received in the pocket and enclosing a liquid to be dispensed, and a porous element covering the pocket, wherein the porous element includes an unfoamed laminate and the ampule is breakable to release the liquid to be dispensed through the porous element, the method comprising the steps of:

arranging a plurality of bodies in a row on a tray with the pockets facing upward;

placing an ampule in the pocket of each body;

placing a strip of porous material over the pockets of the bodies to enclose the ampules within the pockets;

securing the strip of porous material to the bodies; and

cutting the strip of porous material into individual porous elements by pressing a heated wire through the strip of porous material at a position intermediate each pair of adjacent bodies.

7. A method as recited in claim 6, wherein the securing and cutting steps are carried out simultaneously on separate longitudinally spaced trays of bodies, the method further comprising the step of intermittently advancing the trays after completion of the securing and cutting steps in order to sequentially perform the securing and cutting steps on the bodies of each tray.

8. A method of manufacturing a liquid dispenser having a body presenting a pocket, a glass ampule received in the pocket and enclosing a liquid to be dispensed, and a porous element covering the pocket, wherein the porous element includes an unfoamed laminate and the ampule is breakable to release the liquid to be dispensed through the porous element, the method comprising the steps of:

placing a glass ampule in the pocket of the body;

feeding a web of porous material past a heated wire that extends through the web and splits the web into side-by-side longitudinal strips of a width corresponding to the width of the bodies;

aligning the strips of porous material over the pockets of the bodies with the strips extending in a direction parallel to the length of the conveyor;

securing the strips of porous material over the pockets of the bodies in each row; and

cutting the strips of porous material that are secured to the bodies into individual porous elements.

9. A method as recited in claim 8, wherein the step of feeding a web of porous material past the heated wire includes using a web of open-celled foam material.

10. An apparatus for manufacturing a liquid dispenser having a body presenting a pocket, a glass ampule received in the pocket and enclosing a liquid to be dispensed, and a porous element covering the pocket, the porous element including an unfoamed laminate and the glass ampule being breakable to release the liquid to be dispensed through the porous element, the apparatus comprising:

a tray for supporting a plurality of the bodies in a row, with the pockets facing upward;

a means for placing an ampule in the pocket of each body;

a means for positioning a strip of porous material over the pockets of the bodies in the row;

an ultrasonic welder for welding the unfoamed laminate of the strip of porous material to the bodies; and

a cross-cutting means for cutting the strips of porous material that are welded to the bodies into a row of individual porous elements.

11. An apparatus as recited in claim 10, wherein the ultrasonic welder includes a horn, a means for moving the horn in and out of pressing contact against the row of bodies, and an ultrasound generating means for transmitting ultrasound through the horn when pressed against the bodies to secure the strips to the bodies without breaking the glass ampules.

12. An apparatus as recited in claim 10, wherein the cross-cutting means includes plurality of longitudinally spaced, laterally extending heated wires and a means for pressing the wires through the strip of porous material at positions intermediate each pair of adjacent bodies.

13. An apparatus as recited in claim 10, further comprising an indexing means for advancing the tray subsequent to each operation of the securing means and the cross-cutting means so that the strip of porous material is secured to the bodies and then cross-cut into individual porous elements.
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