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Publication numberUS20050022480 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/901,929
Publication dateFeb 3, 2005
Filing dateJul 28, 2004
Priority dateJul 29, 2003
Also published asWO2005012113A2, WO2005012113A3
Publication number10901929, 901929, US 2005/0022480 A1, US 2005/022480 A1, US 20050022480 A1, US 20050022480A1, US 2005022480 A1, US 2005022480A1, US-A1-20050022480, US-A1-2005022480, US2005/0022480A1, US2005/022480A1, US20050022480 A1, US20050022480A1, US2005022480 A1, US2005022480A1
InventorsDavid Brakes
Original AssigneeDavid Brakes
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vacuum packaging appliances including support assemblies for carrying bag material
US 20050022480 A1
Abstract
Vacuum packaging appliances and vacuum packaging bag material receptacles are disclosed herein. In one embodiment, a vacuum packaging appliance includes a base, a lid movably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid, a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber, and a support assembly coupled to the base and/or the lid. The support assembly is configured to support bag material. The support assembly can be movable between a stowed position and a deployed position.
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Claims(49)
1. A vacuum packaging appliance, comprising:
a base;
a lid movably coupled to the base;
a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid;
a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
a support assembly coupled to the base and/or the lid, the support assembly being movable between a stowed position and a deployed position, the support assembly being configured to support bag material when in the deployed position.
2. The appliance of claim 1 wherein:
the support assembly includes a support member;
the base includes a housing; and
the support member is received at least partially within the housing when the support assembly is in the stowed position.
3. The appliance of claim 1 wherein:
the support assembly includes a support member;
the base includes a housing having a lower surface; and
the support member is positioned proximate to the lower surface and external to the housing when the support assembly is in the stowed position.
4. The appliance of claim 1 wherein:
the support assembly includes a support member;
the base includes a housing having a rear surface; and
the support member is positioned proximate to the rear surface and external to the housing when the support assembly is in the stowed position.
5. The appliance of claim 1 wherein the support assembly includes an elongated support member to carry the bag material.
6. The appliance of claim 1 wherein the support assembly is configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid.
7. The appliance of claim 1 wherein the support assembly includes a first support member movably coupled to the base and/or the lid and a second support member movably coupled to the first support member.
8. The appliance of claim 1 wherein the support assembly is pivotably coupled to the base and/or the lid.
9. The appliance of claim 1 wherein the support assembly includes a support member configured to slide between the stowed position and the deployed position.
10. The appliance of claim 1, further comprising a cutting device coupled to the support assembly, the cutting device configured to selectively cut the bag material.
11. A vacuum packaging appliance, comprising:
a base;
a lid movably coupled to the base;
a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid;
a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
an external support assembly coupled to the base and/or the lid, the external support assembly including a support member configured to support bag material.
12. The appliance of claim 11 wherein the support member is fixed relative to the base or the lid.
13. The appliance of claim 11 wherein the support member is movable between a stowed position and a deployed position.
14. The appliance of claim 11 wherein the support member has a generally flat surface to carry the bag material.
15. The appliance of claim 11 wherein the support assembly is configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid.
16. The appliance of claim 11 wherein:
the support member is a first support member movably coupled to the base and/or the lid; and
the external support assembly further includes a second support member movably coupled to the first support member.
17. The appliance of claim 11 wherein the support member is pivotably coupled to the base and/or the lid.
18. The appliance of claim 11, further comprising a cutting device coupled to the support assembly, the cutting device configured to selectively cut the bag material.
19. A vacuum packaging appliance for forming at least a portion of bag material into a substantially evacuated and sealed bag, the appliance comprising:
a base;
a lid movably coupled to the base;
a vacuum chamber defined at least partially by the base and/or the lid;
a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
a support assembly including a first support member movably coupled to the base and/or the lid and a second support member movably coupled to the first support member, the first and/or second support member configured to support the bag material.
20. The appliance of claim 19 wherein the support assembly is movable between a deployed position and a stowed position.
21. The appliance of claim 19 wherein the support assembly is configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid.
22. The appliance of claim 19 wherein the first support member is pivotably coupled to the base and/or the lid.
23. The appliance of claim 19 wherein the first support member is slideable relative to the base and/or the lid.
24. A vacuum packaging appliance, comprising:
a base having a first housing;
a lid movably coupled to the base, the lid having a second housing;
a vacuum chamber at least partially within the first and/or second housing;
a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
a means for supporting bag material, the means for supporting bag material being external to the first and second housings and coupled to the base and/or the lid.
25. The appliance of claim 24 wherein the means for supporting bag material includes an elongated support member having a generally flat surface.
26. The appliance of claim 24 wherein the means for supporting bag material is movable between a stowed position and a deployed position.
27. The appliance of claim 24 wherein the means for supporting bag material is configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid.
28. The appliance of claim 24 wherein the means for supporting bag material includes a first support member movably coupled to the base and/or the lid and a second support member movably coupled to the first support member.
29. A vacuum packaging appliance, comprising:
a base;
a lid movably coupled to the base;
a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid;
a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
a means for supporting bag material coupled to the base and/or the lid, the means for supporting bag material being movable between a stowed position and a deployed position.
30. The appliance of claim 29 wherein the means for supporting bag material includes an elongated support member having a generally flat surface.
31. The appliance of claim 29 wherein the means for supporting bag material is configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid.
32. The appliance of claim 29 wherein the means for supporting bag material includes a first support member movably coupled to the base and/or the lid and a second support member movably coupled to the first support member.
33. A vacuum packaging system, comprising:
a vacuum packaging appliance including a base, a lid movably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber within the base and/or the lid, and a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber; and
a support assembly attachable to the vacuum packaging appliance, the support assembly including a support member configured to support bag material.
34. The system of claim 33 wherein the support assembly further includes a first housing portion and a second housing portion movable relative to the first housing portion.
35. The system of claim 33 wherein the support member has an elongated cylindrical configuration to carry the bag material.
36. The system of claim 33 wherein the support assembly further includes a cutting device configured to selectively cut the bag material.
37. A vacuum packaging bag material receptacle, the receptacle comprising:
a first housing portion;
a second housing portion coupled to the first housing portion, the second housing portion being movable relative to the first housing portion between an open position and a closed position;
a support member within the first and second housing portions, the support member configured to carry bag material; and
a cutting device carried by the first and/or second housing portion, the cutting device configured to selectively cut the bag material.
38. The receptacle of claim 37 wherein:
the second housing portion includes a plurality of supports; and
the support member is removably coupled to the supports.
39. The receptacle of claim 37 wherein the support member has an elongated cylindrical configuration.
40. The receptacle of claim 37 wherein:
the second housing portion includes a slot;
the cutting device is carried by the second housing portion with at least a portion of the cutting device received in the slot; and
the cutting device is slideable within the slot between a first position and a second position.
41. The receptacle of claim 37 wherein the first housing portion is pivotably coupled to the second housing portion.
42. A method for positioning bag material on a vacuum packaging appliance, the method comprising:
providing a vacuum packaging appliance including a base, a lid pivotably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber within the base and/or the lid, a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber, and a support assembly movably coupled to the base and/or the lid;
moving the support assembly from a stowed position to a deployed position; and
placing the bag material on a support member of the support assembly.
43. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the base includes a housing; and
moving the support assembly includes moving the support member from the stowed position within the housing to the deployed position outside the housing.
44. The method of claim 42 wherein moving the support assembly includes moving the support member from the stowed position proximate to a bottom surface of the base to the deployed position proximate to a rear surface of the base.
45. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the bag material is arranged in a roll with a center hole; and
placing the bag material on the support member includes positioning the support member in the center hole of the bag material.
46. The method of claim 42 wherein moving the support assembly includes pivoting the support assembly relative to the base.
47. The method of claim 42 wherein moving the support assembly includes sliding the support member relative to the base.
48. The method of claim 42 wherein:
the support member is a first support member coupled to the base;
the support assembly further includes a second support member coupled to the first support member; and
moving the support assembly includes moving the first support member relative to the base and moving the second support member relative to the first support member.
49. The method of claim 42, further comprising cutting the bag material with a cutting device movably coupled to the support assembly.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. provisional application No. 60/492,726, filed Jul. 29, 2003 by Brakes and entitled VACUUM PACKAGING APPLIANCES INCLUDING SUPPORT ASSEMBLIES FOR CARRYING BAG MATERIAL, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to vacuum packaging. More particularly, the invention is directed to vacuum packaging appliances including support assemblies for carrying bag material.

BACKGROUND

Vacuum packaging involves removing air or other gases from a storage container and then sealing the container to prevent the contents from being exposed to the air. Vacuum packaging is particularly useful in protecting food and other perishables against oxidation. Oxygen is a main cause of food spoilage and contributes to the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Accordingly, vacuum packaged food often lasts three to five times longer than food stored in ordinary containers. Moreover, vacuum packaging is useful for storing clothes, photographs, silver, and other items to prevent discoloration, corrosion, rust, and tarnishing. Furthermore, vacuum packaging produces tight, strong, and compact packages, reducing the bulk of articles and allowing for more space to store other supplies.

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic isometric views of a conventional appliance 1 for vacuum packaging an object 12 (shown in broken lines) in accordance with the prior art. The vacuum packaging appliance 1 includes a base 20, a lid 40 pivotably coupled to the base 20, a lower trough 26, an upper trough (not shown) aligned with the lower trough 26, and a vacuum pump (not shown) operably coupled to the upper trough. The lid 40 pivots between an open position (shown in FIG. 1B), in which a bag 10 can be placed between the lid 40 and the base 20, and a closed position (shown in FIG. 1A), in which the bag 10 can be evacuated and thermally sealed. In the closed position, the upper trough and the lower trough 26 form a vacuum chamber to remove gas from the interior of the bag 10. The base 20 also includes a seal 24 surrounding the vacuum chamber to seal the chamber from ambient air while gas is removed from the interior of the bag 10. The vacuum packaging appliance 1 also includes a heating element 28 to thermally seal the bag 10 after the gas has been evacuated. A vacuum packaging appliance of this type is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,941,310, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Conventional vacuum packaging bags include two panels attached together with an open end. Typically, the panels each include two or more layers. The inner layer can be a heat sealable material, and the outer layer can be a gas impermeable material to provide a barrier against the influx of air. The plasticity temperature of the inner layer is lower than the outer layer. Accordingly, the bag can be heated to thermally bond the inner layer of each panel together to seal the bag without melting or puncturing the outer layer during the heat sealing cycle.

A conventional vacuum packaging process includes depositing the object 12 in the bag 10 and positioning an open end 11 of the bag 10 in the lower trough 26 of the vacuum packaging appliance 1. Next, the lid 40 pivots downward to form the vacuum chamber with the open end 11 of the bag 10 disposed within the vacuum chamber. The vacuum pump then removes gas from the vacuum chamber and the interior of the bag 10, which is in fluid communication with the vacuum chamber. After the gas has been removed from the interior of the bag 10, the heating element 28 heats a strip of the bag 10 proximate to the open end 11 to melt the inner layer of each panel and thermally seal the bag 10.

Vacuum packaging bags are typically formed from a roll of bag material that is cut into sections. The roll generally includes a strip of bag material having two panels sealed together along each lengthwise side. It is desirable to store the roll of bag material so that the material can be dispensed easily and conveniently for use with the vacuum packaging appliance. In some appliances, the base includes an opening adjacent to the lower trough to receive the roll of bag material. These vacuum packaging appliances are typically larger than other vacuum packaging appliances because the bag material is stored internally within the appliance. Bigger vacuum packaging appliances have larger footprints and consequently use more space on a countertop or other surface. Accordingly, there is a need to store the bag material at a convenient location without increasing the size of the vacuum packaging appliance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic isometric views of a conventional appliance for vacuum packaging objects in accordance with the prior art.

FIG. 2A is a schematic isometric view of a vacuum packaging appliance having a support assembly in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2B is a schematic side view of the vacuum packaging appliance of FIG. 2A with the support assembly carrying bag material.

FIG. 3 is a schematic side view of a vacuum packaging appliance including a support assembly in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance including a support assembly in accordance with yet another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance including a support assembly in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic side view of a vacuum packaging appliance including a support assembly in accordance with yet another embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 7A and 7B are schematic isometric views of a vacuum packaging bag material receptacle in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance and a bag material receptacle in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A. Overview

The present invention is directed to vacuum packaging appliances including support assemblies for carrying bag material. In the following description, numerous specific details are provided of particular configurations of vacuum packaging appliances and support assemblies to provide a thorough understanding of and an enabling description for embodiments of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art, however, will recognize that the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details explained in the following description. In other instances, well-known structures and operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the invention.

One aspect of the invention is directed to vacuum packaging appliances. In one embodiment, a vacuum packaging appliance includes a base, a lid movably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid, a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber, and a support assembly coupled to the base and/or the lid. The support assembly is movable between a stowed position and a deployed position. In the deployed position, the support assembly is configured to support bag material. In one aspect of this embodiment, the support assembly includes a support member and the base includes a housing. The support member can be positioned within the housing when the support assembly is in the stowed position.

In another embodiment, a vacuum packaging appliance includes a base, a lid movably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber at least partially within the base and/or the lid, a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber to remove gas from the vacuum chamber, and an external support assembly coupled to the base and/or the lid. The external support assembly includes a support member configured to support bag material. In one aspect of this embodiment, the support member can be fixed or movable relative to the base. Moreover, the support assembly can be configured to be detached from the base and/or the lid. The appliance can further include a cutting device coupled to the support assembly to selectively cut the bag material.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to vacuum packaging bag material receptacles. In one embodiment, a receptacle includes a first housing portion, a second housing portion coupled to the first housing portion, a support member within the first and second housing portions, and a cutting device carried by the first and/or second housing portion. The second housing portion is movable relative to the first housing portion between an open position and a closed position. The support member is configured to carry bag material, and the cutting device is configured to selectively cut the bag material. In one aspect of this embodiment, the first housing portion is pivotably coupled to the second housing portion. The second housing portion can include a plurality of supports, and the support member can be removably coupled to the supports.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to methods for positioning bag material on vacuum packaging appliances. In one embodiment, a method includes providing a vacuum packaging appliance including a base, a lid pivotably coupled to the base, a vacuum chamber within the base and/or the lid, a vacuum pump operably coupled to the vacuum chamber, and a support assembly movably coupled to the base and/or the lid. The method further includes moving the support assembly from a stowed position to a deployed position and placing the bag material on a support member of the support assembly.

B. Embodiments of Vacuum Packaging Appliances Including Support Assemblies

FIG. 2A is a schematic isometric view of a vacuum packaging appliance 100 having a support assembly 160 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The vacuum packaging appliance 100 includes a base 120 and a lid 140 pivotably coupled to the base 120. The lid 140 is accordingly movable between an open position (shown in FIG. 2A) and a closed position. The base 120 includes a housing 130 having a rear surface 136, a bottom surface 138, and two side surfaces 134. The base 120 further includes a first chamber portion 126 and a first seal 124 surrounding the first chamber portion 126. The lid 140 can include a second chamber portion 146 and a second seal 144 surrounding the second chamber portion 146. Accordingly, when the lid 140 is in the closed position, the first and second chamber portions 126 and 146 define a vacuum chamber. In other embodiments, the vacuum packaging appliance 100 can have other configurations. For example, the base 120 and/or the lid 140 may not include a chamber portion and/or a seal.

The vacuum packaging appliance 100 further includes a vacuum pump (not shown) operably coupled to the first and/or second chamber portion 126 or 146 to remove gas from the vacuum chamber and the interior of a bag when the lid 140 is in the closed position. For example, in operation, the open end of the bag is positioned in the first chamber portion 126, and then the lid 140 is pivoted to the closed position. Conventional vacuum packaging bags, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. Re. 34,929, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, are configured so that the interior of the bag is in fluid communication with the vacuum chamber when the lid 140 is in the closed position. Accordingly, the vacuum pump can remove gas from the vacuum chamber and the interior of the bag.

In the illustrated embodiment, the vacuum packaging appliance 100 further includes a heating element 128 and a member 150 for pressing the bag against the heating element 128. The heating element 128 can be carried by the base 120, and the member 150 can be carried by and project from the lid 140. The heating element 128 is configured to thermally seal the bag after the gas has been substantially evacuated from the interior of the bag. Conventional vacuum packaging bags include panels that have a gas impermeable layer and a heat sealable layer inside the gas impermeable layer. The heating element 128 heats the bag sufficiently to bond the heat sealable layer of the panels together. The member 150 is configured to press the bag against the heating element 128 to ensure a seal is formed across the bag.

FIG. 2B is a schematic side view of the vacuum packaging appliance 100 with the support assembly 160 carrying bag material 110. In the illustrated embodiment, the support assembly 160 includes a support member 162 and an arm 170 projecting from the support member 162. The support member 162 can be a generally flat, elongated member having a length approximately equal to the length of the base 120 and an upper surface 163 to carry the bag material 110. The arm 170 is pivotably coupled to the side surface 134 of the housing 130 with a fastener 171. Accordingly, the support assembly 160 is movable between a deployed position and a stowed position (shown in broken lines).

In the illustrated embodiment, the housing 130 includes a slot 131 to limit the range of motion of the support assembly 160. More specifically, the slot 131 includes a first end 132 and a second end 133, and the support assembly 160 includes a pin 172 slideably received in the slot 131. In the deployed position, the pin 172 contacts the first end 132 of the slot 131 to limit the movement of the support member 162. Similarly, in the stowed position, the pin 172 can contact the second end 133 of the slot 131 to limit the movement of the support member 162.

In the deployed position, the upper surface 163 of the support member 162 and the rear surface 136 of the housing 130 support the bag material 110 in the illustrated embodiment. The bag material 110 can be a generally tubular receptacle that is arranged in a roll. The tubular receptacle can include two panels that are sealed together along each lengthwise side. The bag material 110 can be cut into sections, and the two open ends of each section can be sealed to form a sealed bag. In other embodiments, the support assembly 160 can carry bag material that is arranged differently.

The support member 162 is pivoted in a direction S1 to move the support assembly 160 from the deployed position to the stowed position. In the stowed position, the upper surface 163 of the support member 162 can be positioned against the rear surface 136 of the housing 130. In other embodiments, the support assembly 160 can have other configurations and/or be fixed relative to the housing 130. For example, the support assembly 160 can be pivotably attached to the lid, and/or the support assembly 160 can include an elongated support member sized and configured to be received in a hole at the center of a roll of bag material. In additional embodiments, the support assembly 160 can include a cutting device such as the device described below with reference to FIG. 4.

One feature of the illustrated vacuum packaging appliance 100 is that a user can selectively store bag material 110 on the support assembly 160. An advantage of this feature is that the support assembly 160 gives the user the flexibility to selectively store the bag material 110 at a convenient location on the vacuum packaging appliance 100 without permanently increasing the footprint of the appliance 100. For example, the bag material 110 may be temporarily placed on the support assembly 160 while the user vacuum packages several items. Thereafter, the user may return the bag material 110 to a drawer or store the material 110 at another location and reduce the footprint of the vacuum packaging appliance 100 by stowing the support assembly 160. Another advantage of the illustrated appliance 100 is that the support assembly 160 conveniently dispenses the bag material 110. For example, if the bag material is arranged in a roll, the roll can be easily rotated on the support assembly 160.

FIG. 3 is a schematic side view of a vacuum packaging appliance 200 including a base 220 and a support assembly 260 coupled to the base 220 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The base 220 can be generally similar to the base 120 described above with reference to FIGS. 2A-B. For example, the base 220 includes a housing 230 having a rear surface 236, a side surface 234, and a slot 231 in the side surface 234. The support assembly 260 includes a first support member 262, a second support member 266 movably coupled to the first support member 262, and an arm 270 projecting from the first support member 262. The second support member 266 can be pivotably coupled to the first support member 262 with a hinge 269, and the arm 270 can be pivotably coupled to the base 220 with a fastener 271. Accordingly, the support assembly 260 is movable between a deployed position and a stowed position (shown in broken lines).

In the deployed position, the first and second support members 262 and 266 define an opening 265 sized to receive bag material. To move the support assembly 260 from the deployed position to the stowed position, the second support member 266 is pivoted in a direction S2 toward the first support member 262 so that a first surface 267 of the second support member 266 contacts a surface 236 of the first support member 262. Next, the first and second support members 262 and 266 are pivoted in a direction S3 so that a second surface 268 of the second support member 266 contacts the rear surface 236 of the housing 230. In other embodiments, the support assembly 260 can have other configurations.

FIG. 4 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance 300 including a base 320 (shown schematically) and a support assembly 360 coupled to the base 320 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The base 320 includes a housing 330 with a rear surface 336 and an opening 335 sized to receive at least a portion of the support assembly 360. The support assembly 360 includes a first support member 362 and a second support member 366 projecting from the first support member 362. The support assembly 360 is movable relative to the base 320 between a stowed position and a deployed position (shown in broken lines).

In the stowed position, the first support member 362 is received within the housing 330 and the second support member 366 is positioned against the rear surface 336. To move from the stowed position to the deployed position, the support assembly 360 moves in a direction D1. In the deployed position, the first and second support members 362 and 366 define an opening 365 sized to receive bag material. In the illustrated embodiment, the first support member 362 includes an end portion 364 that remains within the housing 330 and interacts with the base 320 to support the first and second support members 362 and 366 and the bag material when the support assembly 360 is in the deployed position. The first support member 362 and/or the housing 330 can include a stop mechanism (not shown) or a detent to prevent a user from moving the end portion 364 out of the housing 330. In other embodiments, the first support member 362 can be removed from the housing 330.

In the illustrated embodiment, the support assembly 360 further includes a cutting device 380 (shown schematically) coupled to the second support member 366. The cutting device 380 can be a knife or other suitable device to cut the bag material to form bags. The cutting device 380 can be fixed to the second support member 366 or slideable along the length of the member 366. In other embodiments, the vacuum packaging appliance 300 may not include the cutting device 380, or alternatively, the cutting device 380 can be coupled to the base 320 or the lid.

FIG. 5 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance 400 including a base 420 (shown schematically) and a support assembly 460 coupled to the base 420 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The base 420 can be generally similar to the base 320 described above with reference to FIG. 4. For example, the base 420 includes a housing 430 having an opening 435 sized and configured to receive the support assembly 460. The support assembly 460 includes a first support member 462 and a second support member 466 pivotably coupled to the first support member 462 by a hinge 469. The support assembly 460 is movable relative to the base 420 between a stowed position and a deployed position (shown in broken lines).

In the stowed position, the support assembly 460 is received within the housing 430. More specifically, the first support member 462 is juxtaposed to the second support member 466 in the housing 430. To move from the stowed position to the deployed position, the support assembly 460 slides in a direction D2 to move the second support member 466 and a portion of the first support member 462 out of the housing 430. Next, the second support member 466 pivots in a direction S4. In the deployed position, the first and second support members 462 and 466 form an opening 465 to receive bag material. In the illustrated embodiment, the first support member 462 has a first width W1 and the second support member 466 has a second width W2 less than the first width W1 so that an end portion 464 of the first support member 462 can remain within the housing 430 to support the first and second support members 462 and 466 and the bag material when the support assembly 460 is in the deployed position.

FIG. 6 is a schematic side view of a vacuum packaging appliance 500 including a base 520 and a support assembly 560 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The base 520 can include a plurality of supports 529 (shown in broken lines) and a housing 530 with a rear surface 536 and a bottom surface 538. The support assembly 560 includes a first support member 562 and a second support member 566 projecting from the first support member 562. The first support member 562 can be movably coupled to the housing 530. For example, the first support member 562 can include a projection and the housing 530 can include a slot to receive the projection and thereby limit the movement of the support assembly 560. Accordingly, the support assembly 560 is movable between a stowed position and a deployed position (shown in broken lines). To move from the stowed position to the deployed position, the support assembly 560 slides in a direction D3. In the deployed position, the first and second support members 562 and 566 define an opening 565 to receive bag material.

C. Embodiments of Vacuum Packaging Bag Material Receptacles

FIGS. 7A and 7B are schematic isometric views of a vacuum packaging bag material receptacle 680 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The bag material receptacle 680 can carry a roll of vacuum packaging bag material for use with a vacuum packaging appliance. The bag material receptacle 680 includes a first housing portion 682 a, a second housing portion 682 b pivotably coupled to the first housing portion 682 a, and a support member 690 within the first and second housing portions 682 a-b. The second housing portion 682 b is pivotable about an axis A1 between a closed position (shown in FIG. 7A) and an open position (shown in FIG. 7B). The support member 690 is sized and configured to carry the bag material within the first and second housing portions 682 a-b.

In the illustrated embodiment, the second housing portion 682 b includes a first support 693 a and a second support 693 b, and the support member 690 includes a first end 691 releasably coupled to the first support 693 a and a second end 692 releasably coupled to the second support 693 b. For example, the first and second supports 693 a-b can each include two generally thin, spaced-apart ears that project from the second housing portion 682 b and include an opening. The first and second ends 691 and 692 can have a taper and accordingly snap into the corresponding openings.

The bag material receptacle 680 of the illustrated embodiment further includes a cutting device 696 carried by the second housing portion 682 b. The cutting device 696 can include a handle 697 and a blade 698 coupled to the handle 697. A portion of the blade 698 projects through a slot 695 in the second housing portion 682 b and into a groove 699 in the first housing portion 682 a when the second housing portion 682 b is in the closed position. The cutting device 696 is movable across the bag material receptacle 680 in a direction D4 to cut bag material. For example, when the support member 690 carries a roll of bag material, a user can pull a portion of the bag material off the roll and out of the bag material receptacle 680, close the second housing portion 682 b, and slide the cutting device 696 in the direction D4 to cut the bag material. The cut portion of the bag material can then be used with a vacuum packaging appliance.

FIG. 8 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a vacuum packaging appliance 700 (shown schematically) and a bag material receptacle 780 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The vacuum packaging appliance 700 can be generally similar to the vacuum packaging appliance 100 described above with reference to FIGS. 2A-B. For example, the vacuum packaging appliance 700 includes a base 720 having a housing 730 with a rear surface 736. The bag material receptacle 780 is generally similar to the bag material receptacle 680 described above with reference to FIGS. 7A-B. For example, the bag material receptacle 780 includes a first housing portion 782 a, a second housing portion 782 b pivotably coupled to the first housing portion 782 a, a support member 790 disposed within the first and second housing portions 782 a-b, and a cutting device 796. In the illustrated embodiment, the bag material receptacle 780 is removably attached to the vacuum packaging appliance 700. More specifically, the first housing portion 782 a includes a surface 784 juxtaposed to the rear surface 736 of the housing 730. In one embodiment, the surface 784 can include a projection that is received in a recess in the housing 730. In other embodiments, the bag material receptacle 780 can be removably attached to the housing 730 by Velcro, snaps, or other suitable fastening devices.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, even though many of the above-mentioned embodiments include support assemblies coupled to the base of vacuum packaging appliances, the support assemblies can be coupled to the lid of the appliances. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.

Classifications
U.S. Classification53/512
International ClassificationB65B31/00, B65B61/06, B65B31/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65B31/00, B65B31/046, B65B61/06
European ClassificationB65B31/00, B65B61/06, B65B31/04E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 18, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: TILIA INTERNATIONAL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BRAKES, DAVID;REEL/FRAME:015906/0272
Effective date: 20040924