FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention generally relates to pad-like devices which can be folded to form a container, and in particular to such devices which include structural components.
Containers and base pads are common items used in a wide variety of activities. For example, sun bathers very often carry some form of ground pad on which to lie and might easily bring some form of container to carry that ground pad or at least other accessories to sunbathing. Likewise, hikers and campers might carry a backpack and some form of ground cover for resting. It is also common to see pads and containers used together in significantly different types of activities, such as games, which have a container for the storage and transport of game pieces along with a playing board. Still further activities, though not requiring a pad and container combination, might benefit from a readily available combination. For example, diaper changing is enhanced if some form of pad is carried in combination with the other accessories.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Thus, the combination of pads and containers is useful and making such combinations more convenient would be useful and desirable.
Accordingly, one embodiment of the present invention provides a combination pad and container, comprising a pad including a multiplicity of adjacent semi-rigid panels separated by fold lines, wherein the pad is adapted to be repeatedly folded along the fold lines to form a closed volumetric container and unfolded to function as a pad.
The pad may have a bottom side adapted to be an outside surface of the container, and may further comprise one or more straps affixed to the bottom side of the pad to enable carrying of the container by the one or more straps. The pad might include: an elongated central portion extending across the pad, which central portion includes a multiplicity of the semi-rigid panels adapted to form front, bottom and back members of the container; a lateral first fold extending across the pad and the elongated central portion and positioned to allow folding of the pad to position the back member of the container substantially parallel with the front member of the container; and two opposing side portions positioned on opposing sides of the central portion of the pad and adapted to be folded parallel to and against the back member of the container when the back member is positioned substantially parallel to the front member to form the container
The pad may have a substantially circular shape. Additionally, the semi-rigid panels may include a multiplicity of pairs of the semi-rigid panels with each pair adapted to be located on different opposed sides of the volumetric container. The semi-rigid panels may be adapted to provide structural support to the volumetric container. The semi-rigid panels may include semi-rigid foam enclosed in a fabric envelope. The pad may include a waterproof fabric forming either a top or bottom side of the pad.
The pad may include indicia appearing on one side thereof adapted to form an inside of the container. The indicia form a game board. The indicia may represent a spatially distributed model selected from the group including a geographic model, a structural model, a sports field, a road layout, railroad layout, a dollhouse, a building, a construction site, a battleground, or a combination of the above.
Another embodiment of the present invention provides a combination pad and container, comprising a substantially circular pad including a multiplicity of adjacent semi-rigid panels separated by fold lines, wherein the pad is adapted to be folded along the fold lines to form a volumetric container. The semi-rigid panels may be substantially interconnected over the substantially circular pad.
Another embodiment of the present invention provides a combination pad and container, comprising: a pad including a multiplicity of adjacent semi-rigid panels separated by fold lines, the pad having a bottom side, wherein the pad is adapted to be folded along the fold lines to form a volumetric container with the bottom side being adapted to form an outside of the container; and one or more straps affixed to the bottom side of the pad to enable carrying of the container by the one or more straps. The one or more straps may be a pair of shoulder straps.
Another embodiment of the present invention provides a combination pad and container, comprising: a pad including a multiplicity of adjacent semi-rigid panels separated by fold lines, wherein the pad is adapted to be folded along the fold lines to form a volumetric container, and further wherein the pad includes: an elongated central portion extending across the pad which central portion includes a multiplicity of the semi-rigid panels adapted to form front, bottom and back members of the container; a lateral first fold extending across the pad and the elongated central portion and positioned to allow folding of the pad to position the back member of the container substantially parallel with the front member of the container; and two opposing side portions positioned on opposing sides of the central portion of the pad and adapted to be folded parallel to and against the back member of the container when the back member is positioned substantially parallel to the front member to form the container.
The two opposing side portions may include a separate plurality of elongated semi-rigid panels separated by longitudinal fold lines and adapted to allow at least one of the elongated panels on each of the two opposing side portions of the pad to be folded against the back member of the container when the back member is positioned parallel to the front member of the container. The at least one of the elongated panels on each of the two opposing side portions may be adapted to be removeably attached to each other.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The at least one of the elongated panels may be adapted to be removeably attached to the back member of the container when folded against the back member. The two opposing side portions may include additional semi-rigid panels adapted to form side members of the container.
The present invention is illustratively shown and described in reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a top view of a pad 10 constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the pad 10 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a top view of pad 10 having a first fold to begin forming a container;
FIG. 4 is a top view of pad 10 with an additional fold used in the formation of a container;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the pad 10 of FIGS. 1-4 with a subsequent a fold used in the formation of a container 64 and showing three-dimensional aspects of such a container 64;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of container 64 with yet a subsequent fold of pad 10 used in closure of container 64;
FIG. 7. is a perspective view of container 64 with yet another and final fold used in the closure of container 64;
FIG. 8. is an opposing perspective view of container 64 showing handles for carrying;
FIG. 9 is a top view of another pad 90 constructed in accordance with the present invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 10 is a top view of yet another pad 100 constructed in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 1 shows a top plan view of a pad 10, which has a generally circular shape and includes a multiplicity of semi-rigid panels 12-26 (including paired panels a, b, c, d where indicated), which are separated by fold lines 42-46 (FIG. 2 including paired folds a, b where indicated). Throughout this document, the term ‘semi-rigid’ used to describe panels 12-26 is intended to mean, and should be construed as, having at least some rigidity or stiffness and optionally including the extreme condition of being completely rigid. Top side 10 a is intended for use in any manner which pads have or may be used including, but not limited to, beach blankets, picnic blankets, diaper changing pads, game boards, maps, etc. The size of the application is generally not a limitation as the diameter of pad 10 may easily be anywhere from several inches to several yards.
FIG. 2 shows the bottom side 10 b of pad 10 including the same assembly of semi-rigid panels 12-26 (FIG. 1) and fold lines 42-46. References in this description to panels 12-26 and fold lines 42-60 are not differentiated by which side of pad 10 is being shown. For purposes of clarity, not all panels 12-26 (FIG. 1) are labeled in FIG. 2 and not all fold lines 42-60 (FIG. 2) are labeled in FIG. 1.
Bottom side 10 b additionally shows multiple pairs of attachment components 70-75 which are positioned on bottom side 10 b to hold pad 10 together when folded to form a container. Also shown are a multiplicity of straps 78-80, which are adapted to enable carrying of a container formed by pad 10. Strap 78 is a single hand strap, and straps 79, 80 are a pair of shoulder straps. Further included are a pair of pockets 82 intended to enhance the use of the container as a knapsack or backpack.
Pad 10 may be constructed in any suitable manner desired for a specific application. In one embodiment, pad 10 is formed from one or more pieces of semi-rigid foam sandwiched between two pieces of flexible fabric. The fabric and foam are stitched together around the periphery 40 of pad 10 and also along each of the fold lines 42-46. This stitching compresses any sandwiched foam along fold lines 42-46 thus reducing rigidity to enable folding. This construction provides sufficient stiffness for maintaining a volumetric container when folded, while also providing sufficient flexibility for repeated use of pad 10 on uneven underlying surfaces. Alternatively, one or more panels 12-26 may include a separate piece of semi-rigid foam sandwiched in its respective location between the opposing pieces of fabric. Either top side 10 a or bottom side 10 b, or both, may include a waterproof fabric desirable for a specific application. Periphery 40 may also include a binding (not shown), which wraps around the edge and is sewn to both sides of pad 10.
Alternate embodiments for different applications may include materials for the panels having more or less rigidity or stiffness and any suitable form of interconnection between panels. Thus, pad 10 may be constructed from paper in its most flexible form, or it may be constructed from metal plates interconnected by hinges in its most rigid form.
FIGS. 3-8 are used to demonstrate the sequential folds which are made to pad 10 for the purpose of forming a container 64 (FIGS. 5-8). FIG. 3 represents the first step in forming a container and shows pad 10 folded along fold line 42 so that panel 14 is located parallel to panel 12 (FIG. 1). Referring briefly to FIG. 1, a central portion 30 of pad 10 includes panels 12-14 which are intended to form front, bottom and rear sides, respectively, of a container. The fold shown in FIG. 3 begins forming such a container by locating panel 14 as a rear side 32 (FIGS. 5-7) of container 64 and panels 13 a, 13 b as a bottom 33 (FIG. 8) for container 64.
FIG. 4 shows a subsequent fold of pad 10 along fold lines 46 a (FIGS. 2,5) and 44 a. Referring briefly to FIG. 1, pad 10 includes a pair of opposed side portions 34, 35 located on either side of central portion 30 and separated there from by fold lines 46 a, 46 b. Side portions 34, 35 are made up of a multiplicity of elongated side-portion panels 17-24. These side-portion panels 17-24 are intended to be folded to form sides 36, 37 (FIGS. 5-8) of container 64. In FIG. 4, side-portion panels 17 a, 18 a (FIGS. 1, 5) are folded to form side 36 (FIG. 5) of container 64. This first such side forming fold locates panels 19 a, 19 b, 2 a, 2 b (FIGS. 3, 4) along of rear side 32 (FIGS. 5-7) of container 64. To sustain the position of this fold, attachment components 70, 71 (FIG. 3) in the form of complementary Hook and loop fasteners pads (e.g., VelcroŽ), are located on panels 20 b, 14 (FIG. 3), respectively.
FIG. 5 shows a next subsequent fold of pad 10, which fold locates panels 21 a, 22 a (FIG. 8) along an opposing side 37 (FIG. 8) of container 64. This fold also locates panels 23 a, 23 b, 24 a, 24 b (FIG. 4) along rear side 32 of container 64. This position is maintained by attachment components 73, 72 (FIGS. 2,4) in the form of a Hook and loop fastener strap (e.g., VelcroŽ) (component 73) used in conjunction with a Hook and loop fastener pad (e.g., VelcroŽ) (component 72).
FIG. 6 shows the next sequential fold of panel 15 to create a first closure of container 64. In one embodiment, semi-rigid panel 15 may be constructed with an integral pouch for the retention of small items with easy access thereto.
FIG. 7 shows the final fold of panel 16 to complete closure of container 64. Panel 16 is maintained in this position by attachment components 74, 75 (FIGS. 5 and 6) being mated with complementary components 76, 77 (FIG. 4), which may be embodied by Hook and loop fastener (e.g., VelcroŽ) components. Further included in the final fold of panel 16 are simultaneous folds of panels 25-26 as indicated by the position of panels 25 a, 25 c, 25 d in FIG. 4. FIG. 7 thus represents a rear perspective view of container 64 once it is fully formed by the folding of pad 10.
FIG. 8 is an opposed perspective view of container 64 showing a front side 38 thereof, along with carry straps 78-80. Also indicated in the perspective view of FIG. 8 are a pair of recesses 79 a, 80 a which may be used in conjunction with padded straps 79, 80 to thereby preserve the flatness of pad 10 (FIG. 1) when used in the configuration of a pad.
Applications of the present invention are wide and varied. The present invention is especially adapted to applications wherein a pad and container are functionally associated, regardless of which is the dominant consideration. Thus, container 64 may be used as a backpack for hiking in areas where pad 10 is useful as a ground cover. As a beach blanket, container 64 can readily be used to carry food, drinks and other picnicking, sun bathing and swimming accessories. As a diaper changing pad, a parent can be less concerned with cross-contamination regardless of the environment. In this manner, other forms of tool containers may be constructed which perform double duty as a work surface thereby enhancing tool and part management and retention.
Container 64 may also be used as a game container and serve a dual purpose as the game board in the form of pad 10. The game board may extend for the entire top side, or it may be much smaller and thus allow room for seating of participants. Game playing pieces may easily be collected and piled on a central panel (such as panel 12 on pad 10, FIG. 1) to allow the pad to be folded and thereby readily contain the playing pieces. FIG. 9 is one such example showing a pad 90 having a top side 9 a and substantially the same panels and fold lines as pad 10. Top side 9 a shows a chess and checkers game board 92 bordered by fold lines 43 c, 44 d, 94 and printed line 96 (shown in phantom). Other fold lines and printed lines (shown in phantom) define the playing area. A multi-game container might have separate, additional game boards or a folding panel hinged along a fold line might turn over to reveal a different playing board.
The same functionality may be applied to any collection of toys, wherein a pad serves multiple roles as a means of convenient collection and containment, as a ground pad for cleanliness, and also as a mentally stimulating backdrop for play. FIG. 10 shows a pad 100 having a top side 100 a. Top side 100 a might include a map or geographical layout 102, an image of a building or structure 104 (such as a doll house) with separate rooms 106 and passageways 108, a military base, battle field or construction site image 110, an airport layout 112, a road layout 114, 115, a railroad layout 116, a sports field 118, or any combination of the above. Again, toy management, such as the many small pieces of a construction set, is easily handled by pilling items on one panel 120 and folding pad 100 to form a container. The geographic areas shown in FIG. 10 are intended to be representational and not to scale. Thus pad 100 may be used as a single model with different venues or as separate venues for independent activities. Other geographic features which might be represented are mountains, rivers, lakes, bridges, tunnels and seaports.
Once again, the materials used will depend upon the specific application. A table top game board/container combination might be constructed of cardboard, whereas a ground pad might preferably use fabric. Smaller applications of the present invention might include a gift container which becomes a retail display pad beneath the item. Larger applications might include a ground pad for a tent, with or without tent walls already attached. Thus, not all of the pad needs to be formed from semi-rigid panels, so long as there are sufficient semi-rigid panels to provide volumetric form for the container.
The present invention is illustratively described above in reference to the disclosed embodiments. Various modifications and changes may be made to the disclosed embodiments by persons skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims and Doctrine of Equivalents.