Patent of the month: Multi-component dispenser

Materials World magazine
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4 Jan 2017

In the first of a new series, Jennifer Unsworth, patent attorney and engineering materials specialist with intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers describes a reactant dispenser designed by 2K Polymer Systems Ltd.

Innovation in materials science comes in many different forms. One such form concerns how materials science developments are translated into real world applications. 

One company that has been doing just this is 2K Polymer Systems Limited, UK. For the last 25 years, 2K Polymer Systems has developed cartridge-bonded anchors. For anyone not familiar with the term, these are chemical fixings used for anchoring or repairing components in anything from performance-critical markets to DIY applications – imagine, for example, a two-part epoxy plunger. These fixings can be provided in the form of two separated precursors in a cartridge which, when mixed together, react to form a material with the required mechanical properties.  

Providing a container that can store such reactants and dispense them at the required rates is not a straightforward task, especially when this is combined with the myriad of design requirements and considerations that typical polymer reactions bring into the mix. One requirement that has a significant bearing on the end product is that the precursors must be dispensed at the required rates.

A patented innovation that stems from this can be found in one of 2K Polymer System’s recently granted European patents, EP2595896 B1. The patent in question is directed towards a multi-component dispenser that has collapsible bag components (109, 110) in a rigid housing (101). Each bag contains a different precursor, and when a piston (103) is pushed into the housing, the reactants in the bags are extruded.

The key feature claimed in the patent is that the chamber of a less viscous component has a flow control regulator (104, 111). This flow control regulator allows for both components to be dispensed at the required rates. 

More than meets the eye

At first sight, this may seem to be a simple feature. However, a large part of the invention in this case lies in identifying the problem. In this device, only one piston (103) is used to compress the bags, so when considering the device from a mechanical perspective, there is no obvious requirement for a flow control regulator. 

The inventors behind this innovation recognised that the differing rheologies of the reactants can result in a different internal pressure in each compartment. In particular, when the piston applies pressure, lateral pressure is generated in the compartments, resulting in different internal pressures being experienced in each compartment, giving differing flow rates. Before 2K Polymer Systems filed its patent application, the field did not address or even acknowledge this problem, now solved by the flow regulator. 

This patent belongs to one of 2K Polymer System’s two patent families covering inventive features of a multi-component dispenser. By protecting the innovation with patents, 2K Polymer Systems is able to protect its investment in product development.

To view the patent in full, visit bit.ly/2g6ny2n