FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/522,306, filed on Sep. 14, 2004, incorporated herein by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present application relates generally to cartons and more particularly relates to cartons with a dispenser opening that provides access to the articles therein.
Various types of cartons are known for enclosing various types of articles, such as cans, bottles, and other objects. One recent type of container is known as the “FRIDGE PACK™” carton. Various types of FRIDGE PACK™ cartons are produced for and sold to bottlers under license with The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Ga. for the sale of Coca-ColaŽ brand products.
The “FRIDGE PACK™” cartons generally have a two by six (2×6) product shape, with two (2) product columns in height and six (6) product rows in length. One end of the carton generally is scored so as to permit the removal of a section of the carton such that the consumer can grasp the products within. The unique design of two (2) columns and six (6) rows with the removable end generally promotes the use of the cartons within a standard refrigerator. Other configurations, however, such as two (2) rows of four (4) cans each (eight pack) and three (3) rows of four (4) cans each (three by four twelve pack) also are possible and within the scope of the present invention.
Other types of cartons are also known, for example, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,283,293 B1 to Lingamfelter. One of the shortcomings of some known cartons is difficulty with opening the carton. Some cartons employ perforated openings at the top corner, such as Lingamfelter, supra. It is often difficult to design perforations that will remain intact when the carton is being shipped and yet will yield without undue effort when the consumer desires to open the package.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Another problem is preventing containers, particularly the first container, from falling out of the carton when the carton is first opened. Still another problem is that consumers desire to see inside the carton after it is opened and in use so as to take inventory of how many containers remain in the carton. Still other known cartons employ an opening that pulls up from the bottom, e.g., U.S. patent application Publication No. 20040089671, assigned to the Zumbiel Corporation. In this design, the portion of the carton remaining after being pulled up may be tucked into a slot in the top. Such a design fails to satisfy the consumer's desire to pull down and toward the front in one motion to remove the access portion of the carton.
The present application thus provides a carton for containing a number of articles with each article having an article diameter. The carton may include a front wall, a top wall, a pair of sidewalls, and an access aperture formed along the front wall, the top wall, and the sidewalls. The access aperture extends along the front wall from the top wall for less than one article diameter and extends along each of the sidewalls from the top wall for more than one article diameter.
The access aperture defines a curvilinear shape along the front wall that extends from the sidewalls. The access aperture along the front wall may include a height greater than the article diameter about the sidewalls and a height less than the article diameter about the middle of the front wall. The front wall may include a number of score lines therein. The carton further may include an access flap positioned within the access aperture. The carton may include a two article by six article configuration.
The present application further describes a carton for containing a number of articles with each article including an article diameter. The carton may include a front wall, a top wall, a bottom wall, a pair of sidewalls and an access aperture formed along the front wall and the pair of sidewalls. The access aperture begins along the front wall and the pair of sidewalls about one half of the article diameter from the top wall and ends about one half of the article diameter from the bottom wall.
The access aperture may include a curvilinear shape along the sidewalls. The access aperture extends along the sidewalls for about the article diameter. The front wall may include one or more tabs extending into the access aperture. The front wall may include a number of corners and the corners may include tear lines therein. The carton may include a two article by six article configuration. The carton further may include an access flap positioned within the access aperture.
The present application further describes a carton for containing a number of articles with each article having an article length. The carton may include a front wall, a top wall, a pair of sidewalls, and an access panel extending along at least the front wall. A number of tear lines may be positioned on the front wall adjacent to the access panel.
The access flap extends along the front wall between the pair of sidewalls for less than the article length. The access panel further extends along the top wall. The front wall may include a number of corners and tear lines may be positioned within the corners. The front wall may include a pair of strips with one of the strips on either side of the access flap. The tear lines may be positioned within the strips. The carton further may include a bottom wall and the access flap may include further tear lines adjacent to the bottom wall. The carton may include a two article by six article configuration.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features of the present invention will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon review of the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the drawings and the appended claims.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a carton as is described herein.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of a blank used to construct the carton shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a side plan view of the carton of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a carton as is described herein.
FIG. 5 is a plan view of a blank used to construct the carton shown in FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a side plan view of the carton of FIG. 4.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a carton described herein.
Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the various figures describe alternative embodiments of a carton. The carton may be made out of cardboard, paperboard, corrugated board, or similar types of foldable sheet materials. Specifically, the carton may be made out of coated unbleached paperboard. Each carton may be made from a blank. Each blank may be die cut from a continuous sheet of a material.
Each blank may have a number of fold lines and tear lines formed therein. The term “fold line” may refer to a weakened line that facilitates folding of the material along the length of the line. The fold line may include, but is not limited to, a score line, a perforation, a line of short slits, a line of half-cuts, a combination of slits and score lines, and similar arrangements. Any reference to a fold line or any hinged connection should not be construed as being limited to a single fold line only. Any such fold line or hinged connection may be formed from one or more fold lines.
The “term tear” line may refer to a line of severance or any other weakened line that facilitates separation along the length of the weakened line. The tear line may include, but is not limited to, a perforation, a line of short slits, a line of half-cuts, a combination of slits and score lines, and similar arrangements.
It will be recognized that ordering references such as first and second and directional references, such as top, base, bottom, side, upper, lower, front, back, inner, outer, etc. do not limit the structure described herein to such orientations, but merely serve to distinguish relative structure from one another.
FIG. 1 shows a first embodiment of a carton 100. The carton 100 may be a conventional six (6)-sided container for articles 10 such as beverage cans or bottles arranged in a two by six (2×6) configuration or other configurations such as, without limitation, 2×5, 2×4, 3×4, 3×5, 3×6, etc. The carton 100 may have a front wall 110, back wall 120, top wall 130, a bottom wall 140, and a pair of sidewalls, a first sidewall 150 and a second sidewall 160.
The carton 100 also may have an access flap 170. The access flap 170 may be formed by a number of tear lines 180. The access flap 170 may be removed in its entirety, thus defining an access aperture 190 and allowing access to the articles within the carton 100. A thumbhole 195 or other type of opening, perforation, score line, or pull-tab may be used to facilitate removal of the access flap 170.
FIG. 2 shows a blank 200 that may be used to construct a carton 100 as shown in FIG. 1. The blank 200 has various panels that may form the walls 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160 of the carton 100. Specifically, the blank 200 has a top panel 220 that forms the top wall 130, a bottom panel 230 that forms the bottom wall 140, a first side panel 240 that forms the first sidewall 150, and a second side panel 250 that forms the second sidewall 160. The blank 200 also includes a pair of flaps that extend from the side panels 240, 250, a first flap 260 and a second flap 270. The flaps 260, 270 form the front wall 110 when folded. The top panel 220 and the bottom panel 230 further may have a pair of reinforcing flaps, a first reinforcing flap 280 and a second reinforcing flap 290, that are positioned behind the first and second flaps 260, 270 when folded. The back wall 120 may be formed in a similar manner.
As is shown, the tear lines 180 of the access flap 170 may extend from the thumbhole 195 across the width of the top panel 220. The tear lines 180 may extend across the first and second side panels 240, 250 for a predetermined distance, curve in largely a perpendicular direction towards the flaps 260, 270, and then curve slightly inward back towards the top panel 220. Vertical and horizontal lines also may be used herein as opposed to curved lines. The tear lines 180 then continue into the first and second flaps 260, 270 at a diagonal and then finishing in a direction largely parallel to the first reinforcing flap 280. The flaps 260, 270 also may have score lines 290 formed therein for strength.
The access flap 170 may be removed by pushing into the thumbhole 195 and ripping the access flap 170 across the top wall 130, the first sidewall 150, the front wall 110, and the second sidewall 160. Removing the access flap 170 forms the access aperture 190. When constructed as shown in FIG. 1, the access flap 270 forms a curved panel or lip 295 on the front wall 110 so as to maintain the first article 10 in position within the carton 100. The carton 100 thus supports all of the articles 10 therein when the access flap 170 is removed.
As is shown in FIG. 3, the front wall 110 extends above the bottom article 10 within the carton 100 so as to support the top article 10 therein. Specifically, the front wall 110 may have a curved shape such that the front wall 110 may have a height less than the bottom article 10 about the sidewalls 150, 160 but a height greater than the bottom article 10 about the middle of the front wall 110. The sidewalls 150, 160 likewise may not extend the full width or diameter of the bottom article 10 so as to provide ease of removal.
FIGS. 4-6 show a carton 300 and a blank 310 for use in constructing the carton 300. The carton 300 may include the walls 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160 and the blank 310 may include the panels 220, 230, 240, 250 and the flaps 260, 270, 280, 290. The carton 300 and the blank 310 also may include an access flap 320 that is formed by the tear lines 180. The tear lines 180 of the access flap 220 may extend along the first and second side panels 240, 250 and the first and second flaps 260, 270. The access flap 320 may include a die cut thumbhole 330. The access flap 320 may extend from the thumbhole 330 on the first and second side panels 240, 250 and extend towards the flaps 260, 270. The tear lines 180 then may continue in largely a parallel direction across the flaps 260, 270 and end in a semi-circular tab 340.
The access flap 320 may be removed by pushing into the thumbhole 330 and ripping the access flap 320 across the first sidewall 150, the front wall 110, and the second sidewall 160. Removing the access flap 330 forms an access aperture 345. The access aperture 345 along the sidewalls 150,160 may extend for about one half of the diameter of the top article 10 and about one half of the diameter of the bottom article 10. The top article 10 within the carton 310 may be pulled downward through the access aperture 345 and across the tab 340 or the bottom article 10 can be pulled upward and removed first. Any subsequent articles 10 may be lifted out from the top or bottom. The carton 300 thus supports the articles 10 therein even when the access flap 320 has been removed.
Another embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, a carton 400 may include the walls 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160 and may be manufactured from a blank as is described above. The carton 400 also includes the access flap 170 formed by the tear lines 180. The access flap 170 may extend in a wide “U” shape along the top wall 130 and then extend down the width of the front wall 110. Any other desired configuration may be used herein. Removal of the access flap 170 leaves two vertically running strips 410 on either side of the front wall 110.
The carton 400 also may have a number of weakened regions 420. In this case, the weakened region 420 may be positioned along a corner 430 of the strips 410. The weakened regions 420 may include tear lines 440 and 450 directed as shown, with the forward lines 440 angled against the direction of the access panel 170 and the rear lines 450 angled with the direction of the access panel 170. As illustrated, these tear lines 440 and 450 preferably run from an edge 460 of the opening of the carton 400 to the corners 430. In order to best facilitate removal of an item from the carton 400, the tear lines 440, 450 (or perforations or other weakened regions) are preferably spaced by a dimension roughly approximating the length or outside dimension of a can, bottle, or other item contained in the carton 400.
In this way, when the user removes the access panel 170, there is less likelihood that the weakened regions 420 will be torn through. Then, as the user pulls an item up and out of the opened carton 400, the item acts on the weakened region(s) 420 causing them to burst, in the case of perforations, or bend, in the case of score lines, allowing the item to be pulled through the otherwise undersized opening.
Preferably, the access panel 170 of the carton 400 includes a tear line 470 at the base of the carton 400 to facilitate quick and easy removal of the access panel 170 from the remaining carton 400. Alternatively, the tear line 470 may advantageously include a continuous perforation or slit such that the access panel 170 falls away as soon as the user pulls the access panel 170 down past the last perforation on the front wall 110.
Although each of the cartons described herein are shown in the context of a two row by six (2×6) column format, any size or shape may be used herein. The nature of the access flap does not depend upon the overall configuration of the carton. Likewise, although certain dimensions and ratios have been used herein, any size or shape may be used.
It should be understood that the foregoing relates only to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention in that numerous changes and modifications may be made herein without departing from the general spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the following claims and the equivalents thereof.