CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application serial No. 60/336,595 filed Dec. 4, 2001; the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
1. Technical Field
The present invention generally relates to storage containers for recorded media and, more particularly, containers that are vacuum-formed. Specifically, the present invention relates to a storage container for recorded media that unfolds in a book-like manner and lies flat when it is in the open position.
2. Background Information
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Numerous types of vacuum-formed storage containers are known in the art which typically include a substrate sandwiched between inner and outer plastic sheets to form the container. The inner plastic sheet is typically vacuum-formed with appropriate walls and retention devices configured to hold the item being disposed in the storage container. The hinges are typically thin areas with recessed portions that allow the three sheets of material to bend about the hinge. The problem in the art is that these types of hinges tend to return to their closed position when the container is opened. The material that is used for the inner and outer sheets has a memory that prevents the container from lying flat. The art thus desires a vacuum-formed container having a hinge that allows the container to lie flat when it is opened.
The present invention provides a storage container for items of recorded media having at least two book-like pages connected by a hinge assembly. The hinge assembly allows the pages to lie flat in the open configuration. The hinge assembly is formed in a manner that eliminates the material of the inner plastic sheet during the vacuum-forming process to create a hinge assembly having little or no memory to allow the container to lie flat in an open condition.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
In one embodiment of the invention, the storage container is configured to hold two items of recorded media with cover pages associated with each portion of the storage container that holds the item of recorded media. In other embodiments of the invention, the storage container may be configured to hold three or four items of recorded media.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the storage container for recorded media of the present invention in a closed configuration.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the first embodiment of the storage container for recorded media in an open configuration.
FIG. 3 is a section view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a section view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 2 showing a first alternative embodiment of the storage container for recorded media.
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 showing a second alternative embodiment of the storage container for recorded media.
FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a third alternative embodiment of the storage container for recorded media in an open configuration.
FIG. 8 is a section view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a section view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a fourth alternative embodiment of the storage container for recorded media in an open configuration.
FIG. 11 is a top plan view of a fifth alternative embodiment of the storage container for recorded media in an open configuration.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Similar numbers refer to similar parts throughout the specification.
The first embodiment of the storage container for recorded media of the present invention is indicated generally by the numeral 10 in FIGS. 1-4. Media storage container 10 is fabricated by a known vacuum-form method wherein an inner sheet 12 and an outer sheet 14 are sandwiched around an intermediate body sheet 16 to form the body of container 10. Sheets 12 and 14 are connected about substantially all of their perimeters to hold the body together. Inner sheet 12 is fabricated with a plurality of walls 18 and retention members 20 that are configured to hold items of recorded media. Walls 18 also provide structural strength to container 10. In the embodiments depicted in the drawings, each of the containers uses base pages 21 or a base page 21 and a lid page 23 on either side of a central hinge 30. Base 21 includes retention member 20. Lid 23 hinges between an open position wherein member 20 is accessible and a closed position where member 20 is covered. The hinge of the invention may be used without lid 23. Body sheet 16 is optional. When body sheet 16 is used, its front and/or rear side may be printed with information related to the media stored in container 10. Body sheet 16 may be fabricated from a paper-based material that has little memory when folded.
Container 10 differs from those known in the art because central hinge 30 allows container 10 to lie flat in an open configuration. Central hinge 30 is different than lateral hinges 32 because inner sheet 12 is removed at central hinge as depicted in FIG. 4. Inner sheet 12 may be removed after hinge 30 is formed with inner sheet 12 or hinge 30 may be formed in a manner that is free of inner sheet 12. The lack of the material from inner sheet 12 at hinge 30 allows container 10 to remain flat because hinge 30 does not have sufficient memory forces in the material of outer sheet 14 and intermediate body sheet 16 to close itself.
Inner sheet 12 includes two portions 12A and 12B disposed on either side of the central hinge assembly 30 such that inner sheet 12 defines a single slot with opposed inner edges 34. Outer sheet 14 and inner sheet 16 pivot about inner edges 34 and form living hinges 36 at these locations. Living hinges 36 do not have enough memory to force container 10 closed and container 10 thus lies flat when in the open configuration. Hinge 30 is thus compared to hinge 32 wherein living hinges 38 are formed with three layers of material. Living hinges 38 have memory and will not lie flat.
FIG. 4 shows a sectional view of hinge 30 with opposed inner edges 34. Each portion 12A and 12B of inner sheet 12 is disposed directly against intermediate body sheet 16 adjacent edge 34. The adjacent areas 40 may be connected to intermediate body sheet 16 with an adhesive or other suitable connectors. The stepped areas 42 next to adjacent areas 40 are spaced from intermediate body sheet 16.
A first alternative embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIG. 5 and is indicated generally by the numeral 50. Container 50 includes central hinge assembly 30 so that container 50 lays flat in the open configuration. Container 50 is configured to hold three items of recorded media and thus includes three bases 21 and a single lid 23. The second alternative embodiment of the invention is indicated generally by the numeral 60 in FIG. 6. Storage container 60 also includes central hinge assembly 30. Storage container 60 is configured to hold four items of recorded media and includes four bases 21.
A third alternative embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIGS. 7-9 and is indicated generally by the numeral 70. Container 70 includes a central hinge assembly 72 so that container 70 lays flat in the open configuration. Hinge assembly 72 differs from hinge 30 in that all of the material of inner sheet 12 is not removed in hinge 72. In hinge 72, inner sheet 12 defines slots 74 positioned over living hinges 36 and in the longitudinal direction of living hinges 36. Container 70 includes two spaced slots 74 for each living hinge 36. Bridges 76 separate slots 74. The combined longitudinal length of slots 74 is substantially greater than the combined longitudinal length of bridges 76 such that bridges 76 do not have enough memory to cause hinge 72 to close by itself. A fourth alternative embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIG. 10 and is indicated generally by the numeral 80. Container 80 includes a central hinge assembly 82 so that container 80 lays flat in the open configuration. Hinge 82 includes three slots 74 over each living hinge 36. A fifth alternative embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIG. 11 and is indicated generally by the numeral 90. Container 90 includes a central hinge assembly 92 so that container 90 lays flat in the open configuration. Hinge 92 includes three slots 74 over each living hinge 36.
In any of the embodiments described above, any of the hinges 32 may be formed to have the structure of central hinge 30, 72, 82, 92 such that each of the containers described above may include three of these hinges so that each of the portions lies flat in the open configuration. Furthermore, each container may include only two pages if desired.
In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.
Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.