US 20050252881 A1
A container for the packaging of a still beverage or other unpressurized liquid, the container being formed from a thermoplastic material and having a body portion with a closed bottom, a neck portion, tapering inwardly as it extends upwardly from the body portion and a closure, receiving finish portion spaced from the body portion and extending from the neck portion. The container has an integral gripping feature that does not require an opening that extends laterally through the container, the gripping feature being formed by spaced, opposed gripping panels that extend laterally into the container from an edge thereof. In a first embodiment, the container body portion has a generally oval cross-section with a larger, part-circular end, and a smaller part-circular opposed end, with the gripping panels extending into the container in the body portion from the opposed end. In a second embodiment, the container has a generally circular body portion and the gripping panels extend into the container in the neck portion. In either embodiment, the gripping panels need not be spaced apart by more than 2½ in., even in a container designed for the packaging of at least 64 oz. of a liquid.
19. A hot-fillable container sufficiently large to contain at least 48 ounces of a hot-filled liquid and having an integral hand grip, the container comprising:
a generally cylindrical body portion that is generally circular in cross section, the body portion having a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart, inwardly projecting panels for partial collapsing to accommodate shrinkage of a hot filled liquid as it cools in the container;
a generally frusto-conically-shaped neck that tapers inwardly as it extends upwardly from the body portion toward a closure-receiving finish portion, the neck portion being noncircular in lateral cross section and including a smaller diameter end portion having a pair of spaced-apart, opposed inwardly extending gripping panels in the neck portion which do not extend to a longitudinal centerline of the container, and which gripping panels are spaced apart by no more than 2.5 inches.
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This invention relates to a blown plastic container with an integrated handle or gripping feature that does not involve the use of an opening that extends through the container. More particularly, this invention relates to a hot-fillable container of the foregoing description that is well-suited for manufacturing in large sizes, for example, sufficiently large to contain 48-64 oz liquid therein while not requiring a gripping portion of a width that is excessive for persons with small hands.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,472,105 Krishnakumar, et al., the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein, describes a hot-fillable container that is blown from a preform of a thermoplastic material, specifically, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), alone or in combination with layers of other materials. The container of the '105 patent, which is taught as being well-suited for the packaging of beverages in 64 oz sizes, has a generally right circular cylindrical body portion with a circumferentially spaced apart and generally opposed pair of indented panels that flex inwardly, upon a the cooling of a filled and capped bottle, to accommodate thermal contraction on the packaged beverage. The indented panels of the '105 patent, which do not form an opening that extends through the container, also serves to provide spaced surfaces that can be grasped between the thumb and fingers of a hand of a user to permit the user to handle the container. Unfortunately, for a large size container of the type taught by the '105 patent, the spacing between the gripping panels, which extend inwardly substantially to the vertical centerline of the container cannot be substantially reduced below about 3.5 in. (about 90 mm), which is about 55-70% of the major lateral extent of the container. Individuals with smaller hands may have difficulty in handling a filled container with a gripping feature with such spacing between surfaces to be gripped.
According to the present invention, there is provided a hot-fillable plastic container for packaging hot-filled beverages in large sizes, the container having an integral handle or hand-gripping feature in which the spacing between opposed gripping surfaces is sufficiently small, for example, no more than about 2.5 in. (about 65 mm), which is approximately 45% of the major lateral extent of the container to be grippable by people with small hands. In a first embodiment of the present invention, the hand grip feature is in a non-circular half portion of a body portion of a container whose other half portion is otherwise generally circular in cross section. In this embodiment, the cross section of the body is generally oval-shaped, and the gripping feature, which stops somewhat short of the vertical centerline of the container, is in a smaller diameter end of the container, and, consequently may be held to a dimension that does not exceed 2.5 in. for easy gripping by a consumer with small hands.
In a second embodiment of the present invention, the container may be provided with a generally cylindrical body portion that is generally circular in cross section, without a gripping feature in the body portion, but with an integral gripping portion being provided in an otherwise generally frusto-conically-shaped neck that extends upwardly from the body portion toward a closure-receiving finish portion. The gripping feature in this embodiment is formed by spaced-apart, opposed inwardly extending panels in the neck portion, and these panels need not be spaced apart even by as much as 2.5 in, and can easily be held under 45% of the major lateral extent of the container.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved hot-fillable container that is suitable for packaging substantially large volumes of a liquid. More particularly, it is the object of the present invention to provide a container of the aforesaid description with an integral handle or gripping portion whose opposed, spaced apart gripping surfaces need not be spaced apart by a distance that precludes handling by persons with small hands.
For a further understanding of the present invention and the objects thereof, attention is directed to the drawing and the following brief description thereof, to the detailed description of the invention and to the appended claims.
A container according to the embodiment of
The container 20 has a closure-receiving, externally helically threaded finish portion 26 for receiving an internally helically threaded closure (not shown) after the container 20 is filled with the beverage or other liquid to be packaged therein. Of course, other types of closures, for example, lug style closures, can be used to close the container 20 after filling, in which case the finish portion 26 will be provided with an external configuration other than that of a helical thread for receiving such a closure. In any case, the container 20 is provided with a generally frusto-pyramidal neck portion 28 extending between the body portion 22 and the finish portion 26, the neck portion 28 having an enlarged cylindrical portion 28 a immediately below the finish portion 26, an indented portion 28 b immediately below the portion 28 a, and a base portion 28 c that has a slightly greater lateral extent than the body portion 22, again, to protect a label applied to the body portion 22 from damage as a result of contact with adjacent, like filled containers 20. In that regard, the overall height of a 64 oz container 20, including a height, of the finish portion 26 of about 11/16 in. for a 43 mm. threaded closure, is about 10 7/16 in., assuming a maximum width of the base portion 28 c of about 5¼ in. and a transversely extending minor width of the base portion 28 c of about 4¼ in.
As described, the container 20 is well-suited for the packaging of juice and other still beverages that are packaged while hot, and because the containers 20 are capped after filling while the contents are still hot, there will be some collapsing of a thermoplastic container after hot-filling and capping due to cooling of the contents. To accommodate such collapsing of a container 20 after hot-filling and capping, circumferentially spaced apart indented panels 22 a are placed around the body portion 22 to selectively provide for the inward flexing of the body portion 22 without leading to distortion in its overall configuration or distortion of a label applied thereto.
As thus far described, the container 20 maybe blow molded in a single piece from a molded preform or parison of a suitable thermoplastic material, for example, as taught by the aforesaid U.S. Pat. No. 5,472,105. Co-extruded, multi-layer preforms that include innermost and outermost layers of virgin PET with one or more internal layers of an oxygen barrier, for example, nylon or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) therebetween, possibly also including a central layer of recycled PET, have been proven to be well-suited for the packaging of hot-filled juices or other still beverage products, and it is to these packaging applications that the present invention is especially directed.
As is clear from the drawing, for example, from a comparison of
It is also contemplated that the design of the container 20 maybe adapted to the packaging of a liquid in a smaller volume, for example, 48 oz., by shortening the vertical extent of the body portion 22 of the container 20 without reducing its lateral extent in any direction.
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A container according to the embodiment of
As designed, the container 40 is well-suited for the packaging of juices and other still beverages that are packaged while hot, and, because the containers 40 are capped after filling while the contents are still hot, there will be some collapsing of a thermoplastic container after hot-filling and capping due to the cooling of the contents. Thus, the body portion 42 of the container 40 is provided with a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart, indented panels 42 a, which are placed around the body portion 42 to selectively provide for the inward flexing of the body portion 42 without leading to distortion in its overall configuration or of a label applied thereto.
While the body portion 42 of the container 40 may be, and preferably is, generally circular in cross-section, the neck portion 48 of the container 40 is made non-circular in cross-section by the provision of spaced-apart, opposed, inwardly projecting gripping panels 48 d, 48 e. The gripping panels 48 d, 48 e, which need not extend to the centerline of the container 40, and need not be spaced apart by even as much as 2½ in., serve to permit grasping of the container 40 between the thumb and fingers of a consumer or other person, even a person with small hands. As shown in
As thus far described, either a container 20 or a container 40 maybe blow molded in a single piece from a molded preform or parison of a suitable thermoplastic material. Co-extruded multi-layer preforms that include innermost and outermost layers of virgin PET with one or more intermediate layers of an oxygen barrier, for example, nylon or EVA, therebetween, possibly also including a central layer of recycled PET, have been proven to be well-suited for the packaging of hot-filled juices or other still beverage products, and it is to these packaging applications that this embodiment of the present invention is especially directed. Other thermoplastic materials that are suited for use in the manufacture of thermoplastic containers by blow molding may also be used, and these materials include polyesters, polyolefins, polyethylene napthaletes, nitrites and copolymers thereof.
Although the best mode contemplated by the inventors for carrying out the present invention as of the filing date hereof has been shown and described herein, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that suitable modifications, variations and equalivants may be made without departing from the scope of the invention, such scope being limited solely by the terms of the following claims and the legal equivalents thereof.