SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. provisional application No. 60/647,352 filed Jan. 26, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention provides an efficient part pattern and method for manufacturing insulated cups or other containers, preferably from a sheet material such as paper or plastic. Containers such as cups are produced rapidly through automated processes. The cup manufacturing machines wrap the cup walls, shape the bottom, insert the bottom, and roll the lip, in addition to moisture-proofing the cup liner and printing on the cup and other operations. The cup design of the present invention may be assembled on existing cup manufacturing equipment with inexpensive adaptations. In one aspect, the invention comprises a cup or container having a sidewall which is layered multiple times from single sheet wherein at least a portion of the sheet is textured to provide insulation functionality.
FIG. 1 shows a design according to the present invention which would be wrapped to form a two layer container wall.
FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 show patterns for forming a three layer container wall.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 shows a schematic cross section of the cup through a three-layer container wall design such as in FIG. 2.
With reference to FIGS. 1 through 4, the container and container wall design of the present invention are disclosed.
The inner layer portion 10 of sidewall sheet 20 provides the surface that is in contact with the beverage and preferably is coated with a moisture proofing material that is suitable for hot and cold beverages or foods. The inner layer portion 10 preferably is smooth with an overlap region 27 for gluing and sealing. The interior layer portion 15 of sheet material 20 is textured to give thermal insulation. The texturing may be accomplished through embossing, corrugate folding, multi-directional patterned folding, expanding with patterned slitting, thermal or chemical operations, relief applications to the paper, perforations, attaching additional thickening material, attaching additional insulation material, other texturing processes, and/or combinations of these. Multiple textured layer portion 15, 17 may be wrapped and have the same or different texturing patterns. Preferably, if multiple layers are used with multiple patterns, the patterns of each layer portion are coordinated to compliment each other structurally and thermally. An optional outer smooth layer portion 12 of sidewall sheet 20 may be included. Preferably, this layer 12 overlaps at overhang 25 for a gluing.
Since the layer portions are connected end-to-end on the original container sidewall sheet 20, their assembly may be performed with great speed on existing wrapping machines by increasing the angular turn. The remaining operations in assembling the cup, such as inserting bottoms or rolling lips, may be performed with minor adjustments. For instance, the lip may be rolled by just rolling the inner layer portion 10 as before in designs where the multiple layers do not extend to the full height of the container sidewall, or the lip may be rolled by having one or more of the textured and/or outer layer portions extend to the rolling area of the inner layer portion and rolled in the operation together. The bottom of the cup may be inserted on existing machines with adjustment for the layered thickness of the cup. The bottom may be the same one layer design or added insulation may be cut from other materials.
The multi-layer design provides an opportunity for functional and decorative textures on the interior or exterior surfaces of the container sidewall. These textures may designed to look and feel appealing. The part may be printed before wrapping to incorporate color in the textural effect. The structure in the multi-layer container sidewall design may be dynamic with moving or hinging elements. For example, it may be preferred for the cups to nest closely for shipping, but to have the wall thickness thicken for use after dispensing. In this case, it may be preferred to use a corrugated type material with the folds running vertically (radially) for the outer layer of the sidewall, or other outer layer design that expands to accommodate the difference in the radius of the thin walled shipping configuration and the thickened wall use configuration.
Depending on the texturing technique and the desired coverage of the textured layers on the inner layer portion 10, the width (outer radius minus inner radius of the sidewall sheet) and circumference length of the textured layers before texturing may be different than the width of the inner layer. The possible various layers may have different widths and circumference lengths. For example, if the texturing is done through slitting the material and expanding it, it may be preferred that a textured layer starts with a wider width and shorter circumference length so that, when it expands, it provides the desired coverage around the inner layer. The texturing may also be accomplished by multi-directional pattern folding such as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/952,057 filed Sep. 14, 2001, which is incorporated herein by reference.
The sidewall sheet design may be applied to many types of containers such as soup bowls and other containers and lids as well as cups.