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Claims for Patent: 6,149,054

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Claims for Patent: 6,149,054

Title: Mechanical counter for a metering apparatus
Abstract:A metering apparatus for metering for example a medicament requires a device with which the number of metering portions is displayed. The known display devices however are not suitable for a metering apparatus having two housing portions which are rotatable relative to each other. The mechanical counter for a metering apparatus of that kind comprises at least one spindle with rotary locking, whose axis extends in parallel relationship with the axis of the metering apparatus and which is disposed in the region of a peripheral surface of the apparatus. The spindle is automatically driven by way of a transmission assembly when the metering apparatus is actuated. The number of metering portions already discharged and the number of petering portions permitted in total is quasi-continuously displayed by the mechanical counter. The transmission ration of the transmission assembly can be designed to cover a wide range. The cursor serving for display purposes can be reset on the spindle. The permissible period of use of a metering apparatus which can be used for a plurality of supply containers can be reliably viewed.
Inventor(s): Cirrillo; Pasquale (Dortmund, DE), Eicher; Joachim (Dortmund, DE), Fiol; Andreas (Wuppertal, DE)
Assignee: Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH (Ingelheim, DE)
Application Number:09/091,999
Patent Claims: 1. A mechanical counter for a metering apparatus having a first housing portion and a second housing portion coaxially arranged which are rotated relative to each other when the metering apparatus is operated, the mechanical counter comprising:

a spindle with a screwthread thereon, an axis of which extends substantially parallel to an axis of the metering apparatus and which is disposed in the region of a peripheral surface of the metering apparatus and which is mounted in the vicinity of ends of the spindle with respective rotary mountings on the first housing portion;

at least one projection at an edge of the second housing portion, for engaging a tooth arrangement and rotating the spindle;

a cursor movable along the spindle by the screwthread when the spindle rotates; and

a scale disposed adjacent to the cursor.

2. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 wherein said rotary mountings are snap-action mountings.

3. A mechanical counter according to claim 1,

wherein one end of the spindle in the vicinity of the second housing portion is provided with a pinion, said pinion being provided with said tooth arrangement; and

wherein said at least one projection engages with said tooth arrangement as the two portions are rotated relative to each other.

4. A mechanical counter according to claim 3, wherein said tooth arrangement on said pinion includes four teeth, and said at least one projection on the second housing portion comprises two projections.

5. A mechanical counter according to claim 3, wherein

said pinion includes four teeth of which two oppositely disposed teeth are wider than the other two teeth, and wherein a flank of the wider teeth bears against an inner peripheral surface of the second housing portion,

said at least one projection comprises two projections on the edge of the second housing portion, and

wherein an opening between the two projections is larger than the width of the wider teeth of the pinion.

6. A mechanical counter according to claim 1, further comprising

a transmission ratio of half a spindle revolution to two actuations of the metering apparatus.

7. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 wherein

a pitch on the spindle screwthread is matched to the number of the metering portions and a displacement travel of the cursor.

8. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 wherein

the spindle includes means for inhibiting unwanted movement.

9. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 wherein

the cursor comprises a screwthread engagement portion engageable with the screwthread on the spindle, and a resilient limb.

10. A mechanical counter according to claim 9 wherein

the end of the spindle furthest from said second housing portion comprises a recess for receiving the screwthread engagement portion of the cursor.

11. A mechanical counter according to claim 9 comprising a resetting projection on the the resilient limb.

12. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 further comprising

a cover for the first housing portion, wherein said cover is receivable over the first housing portion in the axial direction to cover over the spindle, and wherein said cover is transparent in a region-wise manner or comprises transparent material.

13. A mechanical counter according to claim 12 further comprising

entrainment means on the inside of the cover.

14. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 further comprising

a second spindle with means for inhibiting unwanted movement, said second spindle being arranged in substantially parallel relationship with the first spindle, a cursor secured against rotation on the second spindle, a one-tooth transmission assembly including a projection wheel at one end of the first spindle, and a gear at the corresponding end of the second spindle with which the projection wheel at the end of the first spindle engages, and

a scale which is disposed adjacent the cursor on the second spindle.

15. A mechanical counter according to claim 14 wherein the second spindle comprises a roller on which a helical line is drawn with one revolution over the entire length of the roller and the surfaces on the two sides of the helical line are marked in different ways, and the counter comprises a narrow transparent strip in a cover axially receivable over the first housing portion through which a strip on the peripheral surface of the roller is visible.

16. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 further comprising

a gear on the end of the spindle furthest from the second housing portion, and

a ring gear with which the gear engages, said ring gear comprising means for inhibiting unwanted movement, and preferably a flange;

wherein said ring gear is mounted coaxially with the first housing portion and is rotatable with respect thereto.

17. A mechanical counter according to claim 16 further comprising

a first marking on the flange of the ring gear, which marking, after less than 360 degree rotation of the ring gear relative to the first housing portion, is disposed opposite a second marking which is in a fixed position relative to the first housing portion.

18. A mechanical counter according to claim 17 wherein said second marking is on the first housing portion.

19. A mechanical counter according to claim 17 wherein said second marking comprises a window in a cover axially receivable over the first housing portion.

20. A mechanical counter according to claim 1 further comprising

a second spindle with means for inhibiting unwanted movement, said second spindle being arranged in a substantially parallel relationship with the first spindle,

a cursor secured against rotation on the second spindle, and

a one-tooth transmission assembly including a tooth arrangement at an end of the second spindle which is closest to the second housing portion, and projections at the edge of the second housing portion which engage with the tooth arrangement at the end of the second spindle upon rotation of the housing portions relative to each other.

21. A metering apparatus having two coaxially arranged housing portions which are rotated relative to each other when the metering apparatus is operated, the metering apparatus having a mechanical counter comprising:

a spindle with a screwthread thereon, an axis of which extends substantially parallel to an axis of the metering apparatus and which is disposed in the region of a peripheral surface of the metering apparatus and which is mounted in the vicinity of ends of the spindle with respective rotary mountings on a first of said two housing portions;

at least one projection at the edge of a second of said two housing portions, for engaging a tooth arrangement and rotating the spindle;

a cursor movable along the spindle by the screwthread when the spindle rotates; and

a scale disposed adjacent to the cursor.

22. A metering apparatus according to claim 21 which is a metered dose inhaler.

23. A metering apparatus having two coaxially arranged housing portions which are rotated relative to each other when the metering apparatus is operated, the metering apparatus having a mechanical counter comprising a screwthread spindle mounted in bearing means on one of the housing portions in a peripheral region thereof so that it is rotated by movement of the other housing portion, and a cursor movable, by the screwthread, relative to marker means, the arrangement being such that movement of the cursor with respect to the marker means provides a measure of the number of operations of the apparatus.

24. A metering apparatus according to claim 23, wherein the cursor can be temporarily released from the screwthread for resetting.

25. A metering apparatus according to claim 23, including means for indicating the number of times the cursor has moved through its path of travel.

26. A metering apparatus according to claim 23 wherein the spindle axis is substantially parallel to the axis of rotation of the housing portions and the spindle has a gear thereon which cooperates with means on said other housing portion to effect rotation of the spindle.

27. A metering apparatus according to claim 26 wherein the spindle is rotated during only part of the relative rotation of the housing portions.

28. A metering apparatus according to claim 23 which is a metered dose inhaler.

29. A mechanical counter according to claim 1, wherein the cursor is resettable.
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