Upside-Down Beverage Containers

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When we take a walk along the supermarket aisles and look at row after row of beverage bottles, the consumer can’t be impressed by the design, as almost all have the same dull shape as if they come from one stock pile or from the same mould. The colour of the beverage itself might make the aisle a bit colourful, but dullness is king in this segment and every company just seems to copy the bottle design of the competition. Creativity in packaging doesn’t seem to be the stark suit of the beverage companies and the consideration how and where the consumer intends to consume the drink apparently hasn’t yet entered the contemplation state of the marketing boys and girls.

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But the consumer behaviour is rapidly changing and with more and more time spending on-the-go, behind his desk and with his intense after-working-hours activities, the least the consumer needs is a dual-function of his beverage container.

In a previous article I quoted Mark Chapman from UK based Project Packaging, who argued that packaging designers have to start thinking about the consumer experience once the consumer has left the store and what added value the packaging can bring to his home. This has to result in “hyper-functional” packaging, as he calls it. In other words packaging that goes beyond the initial consumer requirements.

Fortunately some designers and inventors are picking up the challenge and come up with some dual-functional (sometime even multi-functional) designs for beverage bottles. Today I want to highlight the new designs in flipping upside-down, turn-around or whatever characteristic, definition or name is given to this bottle design.

150126-heinz-yellow-mustard-13-oz-upside-down-squeeze-bottle W320 100dpiOf course we all are familiar with the upside-down squeeze bottle from among others Heinz Tomato and Mustard sauces. But that’s not the design I want to discuss, as the consumer doesn’t create (or get) an extra function from the container when turning it upside-down. The squeeze bottle just has been fitted with a large bottle closure to allow it to stand upside-down for no other function that secure the flow of the content into the bottle neck. Nothing extra here.
No, I want to see an extra function or application when the consumer flips the bottle over. In other words you turn the bottle and you have a drinking glass. That sounds very simple, but in reality in manufacturing such a bottle you will meet a lot of snakes. Let’s have a look. There are three designs, as far as I know. I’m not sure who was the first who invented a turn-around bottle, but it is known that for some years now people have tried to design a workable turn-around bottle.

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The Flip-Bottle
In a previous article I referred to the Flip-Bottle, when I wrote about the so called “Turn Bottle” by Greek inventor George Zervakis (about this design later). The Flip-Bottle is invented by Vincent M. Allora, founder of Silent Dynamite LLC. About this development Rick Lingle recently had an interesting follow-up article in Packaging Digest. You can read it here.

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The Flip-Bottle isn’t commercialised yet and still is in its prototype stage. According to Rick Lingle, who had an interview with the inventor, the patented, all-in-one bottle and glass moves closer to commercialisation in a prototype in the form of an oxygen-scavenging 187mL PET container.

About the prototype stage later, let’s first have a look at the patent. The patent (US 6398050 filed in Jan. 2001) describes the invention as follows:
A liquid container with opposed openings has a smaller neck and larger base, with correspondingly sized openings and caps. The base cap includes a receptacle, for installing over the cap of the smaller diameter container end. The smaller diameter cap includes an outwardly extending non-circular flange, which engages the correspondingly shaped receptacle in the larger base end cap. The base cap receptacle also has a circular second, innermost area. The base cap receptacle is aligned with the flange of the smaller diameter cap and rotated ninety degrees, to misalign the two non-circular shapes and lock the smaller diameter cap flange within the innermost portion of the base cap receptacle. This permits the container to be inverted with the smaller diameter end downward, the larger diameter cap to be removed and installed on the now lowermost smaller diameter cap, and the contents dispensed from the uppermost larger diameter end.

In simpler words the invention relates to a closable and sealable container for liquids, preferably configured in the form of a bottle, having a relatively narrow neck with an openable closure, and a wider base also with an openable closure at the base end. Means are provided for inverting the bottle with the narrow end down, removing the closure from the now upturned wider end, and locking it onto the narrow end closure to provide a stable support for the inverted bottle.

In general when you see such an invention, you image the application to be for wine. What’s more stimulating than having a small nicely designed bottle with wine, which you can transform into an elegant wineglass and consume the content the way it should be enjoyed.

Amazingly the inventor adds another market segment to the possibilities. He argues that hot beverages are difficult, and potentially hazardous, to consume from a narrow necked bottle. The development of microwave technology for heating foods and beverages has made it easy to heat a liquid within a bottle without overheating the packaging itself. However, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to sip a hot liquid from such a narrow necked opening and to avoid burning the mouth.
This is an interesting option, as you can imagine one of the many, many coffee or tea brands in a single-serve bottle with the possibility to flip it upside-down, put it in the microwave and after that have a nice cup to drink from.

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Unfortunately the development isn’t that far yet. The inventor still is in the prototype stage.
During this stage the prototypes were designed and engineered based on two critical elements. First the execution of the functionality by creating a liquid bottle that functions as both a bottle and a drinking glass all-in-one packaging. Secondly the standardisation of the threaded narrow end of the bottle to allow it seamlessly integrate into conventional or traditional 187mL single serving size wine bottle filling equipment. The latter galvanized the decision to create these prototypes specifically for wine and to maintain the industry standard 187ml single serving size.

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It’s obvious that the inventor for the time being concentrates on the wine bottle, while he experimented with several different materials including glass, aluminium, and various types of plastic, but ultimately decided for a proprietary, oxygen scavenging PET plastic for the bottle. It maximizes the shelf life of wine and is injection moulded to create its unique bottle shape and specific details. This design incorporates a standard ROPP threaded neck configuration on the narrow end to be compatible with standard 25H18 cap closures. The large end has a smooth lip finish for a comfortable and familiar mouth feel, with edge details allowing the proprietary bottom cap/wine glass base to lock onto the bottle.

Finally, in order to contain and further preserve the wine in the bottle, a proprietary oxidation and leakage resistant removable induction seal was incorporated covering the large open end of the bottle.

That’s the situation with the Flip-Bottle. It’s a long development process as you realise that Vincent M. Allora filed his patent in 2001.

When I did some research regarding this item, I was surprised to find a turn-around bottle, called the Bottlas, already said to be commercialised in the South Korean market.
About this turn-upside-down bottle more in detail in my next article.

4 responses to “Upside-Down Beverage Containers

  1. 15 years ago we introduced an inventor Bruce Winkler and “glassle” to several beverage companies – nobody got it

    • Brian, I don’t know glassle. 15 years ago there wasn’t internet (well, not wide-spread) and apparently Google doesn’t know glassle also. So you have to help me here with some info.
      But indeed an invention might be too early to go to market. You see it often. That doesn’t mean that the actual market is not willing to accept the development this time. But certainly it takes time. Look at the filing date of the patent for the flip-bottle (2001) and now we are in 2015 and the inventor just has some (workable) prototypes and some interest from industries.
      I have seen this many times. When you work through (packaging) patents, you see a lot of nice, even brilliant ideas, which never reached the commercialisation stage. There are more not-realised than realised inventions. Send me some info about the glassle, please. (amsteeman at xs4all dot nl). Thanks.

  2. Hi Anton

    I am from wine bottling industry at New Zealand and i am interested in flip bottle. We want some bottle to conduct an trial run and survey among our clients.

    If you can please contact me.


    • Ravi, I don’t have any samples for you. I’m just a writer. Go to the article and click the links of the companies I gave. Then you can contact the relevant company for more info.

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