In general it can be said that dispensing caps or functional caps are used to store dry or liquid supplements separately from the water in which when released by the consumer they form an energy or vitamin drink or sometimes a medicinal drink, under the assumption or claim that supplements, particularly vitamins deteriorate in water quickly and as such a ready-to-drink vitamin beverage doesn’t give the consumer the kick he/she was expecting and paid for.
This claim marketed by the companies of energy and vitamin drinks which use a functional cap, is at this moment under attack, as Activate, one of the main players in this market segment, is slapped with a class-action lawsuit in California.
The class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 24 accuses Rising Beverage Co., the owner of Activate, of dishonest and misleading statements in its advertising about the freshness of Activate’s key innovation, its “in-the-cap” reservoir of dry vitamins versus those pre-mixed in other beverages.
The lawsuit points to a 2006 study in “The Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences” that found certain types of vitamins – including those contained in Activate – to be stable in water.
Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, the implementation of functional caps will continue, as there are many other arguments to be used in favour of this type of caps. Let me just relate some of the most important. Besides the (still valid) argument of rapid degradation of supplements in water, everything from pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, from anti-aging to anti-oxidants, from vitamins to functional supplements, from male potency to stem cell stimulants, from energy to relaxation and so on can be packed and properly dosed by a dispensed cap.
You already see applications in the (semi)medical sector, as it is generally claimed that pills and capsules have a very short window of absorption when traveling through the body. A consumer would be fortunate to absorb 10-15% of the nutrients. Liquid absorption is much higher: around 80-90%. Furthermore people would rather prefer to drink their supplements, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals than taking a pill or capsule, especially when it comes to children and the elderly.
All this said, let’s have a look at the technique of dispensing and various recently developed functional caps.
Over the last 50 to 60 years a wide range of dispensing caps has been developed and patented. A typical dispenser cap includes a space which holds the substance to be dispersed (vitamin, flavour, medicine in powder form, liquid or tablet), which is bounded and sealed on one side by a membrane. A membrane opening device is used, often activated by depression of a flexible diaphragm, which causes the membrane opening device to pierce the membrane, thus enabling mixing of the contents of the dispenser with those of the container to which it is attached.
One of the most basic designs I found in a patent filed in 2002 by inventor Stephen Carlson and assigned to The Coca-Cola Company. The image (see picture) shows the principle of any dispensing cap.
All dispensing caps come back to this principle, punching a hole in a membrane to release the vitamin powder or liquid, stored in the separate chamber above the membrane. But in reality a dispensing cap isn’t functioning that simple as showed in the drawing/sketch of the “invention” of the 2002 patent. The risk that powder sticks in the punched hole and is not released in full into the liquid/water of the bottle is one of the reasons further inventions with more complicated designs have seen the light.
In other words the secret of a good-functioning dispensing cap is not just punching a hole, but how to remove the membrane in such a way to ensure that the powder is fully released into the water. Inefficient or incomplete mixing of the two substances is not desired as the concentration of the additive may be critical for some applications, such as in preparing pharmaceutical solutions. Shaking or other means of forcing the contents of the dispenser to mix with the water in the bottle cannot guarantee complete mixing, as some additive may still remain trapped in the dispenser.
Just punching a hole is not appropriate for use with supplements in the form of tablets. To dispense a tablet the hole in the membrane must be larger than the dimensions of the tablet so that the tablet can move freely and reliably from the dispenser into the container when the membrane is ruptured.
With all these disadvantages for dispenser caps with just a puncher, the developments concentrate on rupturing the membrane completely, cutting it along the edges and removing it as much as possible. In all modern dispensing caps you see more or less ingenious cutting devices to get rid of the membrane. In addition, the membrane may include a scored line to facilitate rupturing.
I selected some 14 different designs of dispensing or functional caps from all over the world. We will see the VizCap of Viz Enterprises, the Activate cap, the Optima functional cap, the ViCap of Vicap Systems, the BiaGaia Cap of Bericap, the Cedevita cap made by Teamplast, the PowerCap of Liquid Health Labs, the Yoli Blast Cap, the Mojo organics cap, the Karma cap of Karma Wellness Water, the Tap-The-Cap, and the Delo Cap from France.
Furthermore especially developed for the pharmaceutical industry the Aspin Dispensing Bottle Cap, the CapStaticX of NYSW Beverage Brands Inc., and the Berocca Twist ‘N’ Go cap of Bayer Australia.
Some of the above I have described in previous articles, but for the sake of completeness I briefly include them in this overview with a link to the more detailed article. The others I will describe in detail, as far as I have details available.
When I count correctly I mentioned 14 different dispensing caps. That’s a long ride, so I cut the whole story in three more parts.
The next article starts with, probably the most well-known, the Activate dispensing cap. Then the VizCap, Optima, Vicap and BaiGaia. The rest will follow.