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Publication numberUS20070007289 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/483,329
Publication dateJan 11, 2007
Filing dateJul 7, 2006
Priority dateJul 8, 2005
Also published asWO2007008846A2, WO2007008846A3
Publication number11483329, 483329, US 2007/0007289 A1, US 2007/007289 A1, US 20070007289 A1, US 20070007289A1, US 2007007289 A1, US 2007007289A1, US-A1-20070007289, US-A1-2007007289, US2007/0007289A1, US2007/007289A1, US20070007289 A1, US20070007289A1, US2007007289 A1, US2007007289A1
InventorsCharles Hoberman
Original AssigneeCharles Hoberman
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Collapsible containers
US 20070007289 A1
Abstract
A system whereby a collapsible box may be formed in the same way that standard cardboard boxes are made by folding a single sheet of material is provided. Square and rectangular boxes may be constructed which may be collapsed down to compact size and easily popped open. Boxes so constructed remain fully assembled with all seams and edges attached even as they are repeatedly folded and unfolded. The box may be made of corrugated cardboard or plastic and easily folded to a fraction of their open volume. The box may open instantly, and when opened, it becomes structural—that is resistant to applied loads—by “popping” certain points outwards. An element or construction that is comprised of a sheet of material that has been provided with a network of hinges such that when the element is folded its edges maintain a right angle relationship is also provided.
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Claims(16)
1. A foldable construction comprising first and second members in which each member includes:
a first element in the form of a scalene triangle having a longer side opposite an obtuse angle and two shorter sides opposite two acute angles;
a second element in the form of a geometric shape selected from the group consisting of (a) an isosceles trapezoid having first and second opposite sides of equal length, and third and fourth opposite sides of different lengths with the third side being longer than the fourth side, and (b) an isosceles triangle having first and second sides of equal length and a third side;
a third element in the form of a scalene triangle having a longer side opposite an obtuse angle and two shorter sides opposite two acute angles;
a fourth element in the form of a geometric shape selected from the group consisting of (a) an isosceles triangle having first and second sides of equal length and a third side; and (b) an isosceles trapezoid having first and second opposite sides of equal lengths, and third and fourth opposite sides of different lengths, with the third side being longer that the fourth side.
wherein one of said equal length sides of said second element being in common with the longer side of said first element and foldable therealong;
wherein the other of said equal length sides of said second element being in common with the longer side of said third element and foldable therealong;
wherein one of said equal length sides of said fourth element being in common with one of the shorter sides of said third element and foldable therealong;
wherein said first and second members are connected to one another along a fold line with one of the shorter sides of the first elements, the other of the shorter sides of said third elements and the third side of the fourth elements each being in common with one another and thereby defining said fold line;
wherein said first member and said second member being mirror images of one another with the third side of said second elements being disposed along the border of said construction.
2. A foldable construction according to claim 1, wherein when said construction is folded to a first extent, the other of said shorter sides of said first element and the other of said equal length sides of said fourth element substantially form a right angle when viewed in plan form.
3. A foldable construction according to claim 2, wherein when the construction is further folded, it maintains said right angle until fully flattened.
4. A foldable sheet comprised of four constructions according to claim 1, wherein each construction is foldably attached to an adjacent construction with one of the shorter sides of each said first element being in common with the other of said equal length sides of each said fourth element and foldable therealong.
5. A foldable sheet according to claim 4, wherein said constructions are attached together in a loop formation, and thereby define a plurality of side walls.
6. A foldable sheet according to claim 5, wherein said fourth element is an isosceles triangle and, when said sheet is folded to a first extent, said sheet defines a square or rectangular shape when viewed in plan form with the side walls defined by said attached constructions that may be flattened.
7. A foldable sheet according to claim 5, wherein said fourth element is an isosceles trapezoid and, when said sheet is folded to a first extent, said sheet defines an eight sided polygon with substantially equal internal angles when viewed in plan form with side walls defined by said attached constructions that may be flattened.
8. A collapsible box comprised of a foldable sheet according to claim 5 and further including top and bottom elements that are foldably attached along top and bottom edges respectively of said side walls so that the box may be selectively flattened.
9. A collapsible box according to claim 8, wherein the side walls of the box may be pressed outwards such that the side walls have a shape that changes from a concave form to a convex form.
10. A collapsible box according to claim 8. wherein the box has corners that may be pressed outwards such that the corners change from two flat trapezoidal shapes to a straight crease.
11. A collapsible box according to claim 10, further including four rigid links attached to said corners, said links providing means for pressing the corners outward.
12. A foldable construction according to claim 1, wherein each second element has two internal fold lines for allowing the construction to fold in half.
13. A foldable sheet that is comprised of two constructions according to claim 1 and two constructions according to claim 12, wherein said constructions are hingedly attached to one another in alternating fashion.
14. A foldable sheet according to claim 13, wherein the sheet has ends that are attached together in order to define a loop formation.
15. A foldable sheet according to claim 14, wherein when folded to a first degree, said sheet forms a square or rectangular shape when viewed in plan form that may be flattened and folded in half.
16. A collapsible box that is comprised of a top element, a bottom element and a foldable sheet according to claim 15.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This application claims priority of Provisional Application No. 60/697,420, filed Jul. 8, 2005.

It is often useful to have a container or box that may be collapsed to a small volume when not in use and then expanded when needed. A number of different products have been developed for use in both consumer and industrial markets.

Standard corrugated boxes do, of course, fold down to a flat sheet and are often transported in this folded state. Later, when ready for use, they are unfolded and various flaps are attached in order to make them rigid. The time taken to prepare the box for use, while not extensive, is often not convenient and discourages repeated use of the box.

An alternative collapsible box design is made of rigid perforated panels and resembles a standard milk crate. It is comprised of a top and bottom panel, as well as sides that are articulated allowing it to fold. This type of box is distributed both as a consumer product as well as for industrial use.

This design has several drawbacks. The number of parts is relatively large, leading to higher costs. Another limitation is that it is not possible to seal this type of box due to its perforated sides and the difficulty of sealing hinged panels.

As an alternative to collapsible boxes assembled from multiple parts, I have invented a method whereby a collapsible box may be formed in the same way that standard cardboard boxes are made: by folding a single sheet of material. Boxes made according to the following disclosure may be made of corrugated cardboard or plastic and are easily folded to a fraction of their open volume. They open instantly, and when opened, they become structural—that is resistant to applied loads—by “popping” certain points outwards.

Construction is simple: boxes can be made of a singled sheet of folded material, or, in some applications of a rigid top surface, a pleated side surface, and a rigid bottom surface. The simplicity of construction leads to low manufacturing costs.

An alternative manufacturing technique would be to produce the box out of a single piece of blow-molded or roto-cast plastic. In this case it is possible to make the collapsible box entirely sealed and water-tight.

The design possibilities are extensive allowing for collapsible boxes of different sizes and proportions to be built. Beyond the ability to make such boxes flatten in one dimension, another embodiment of this invention allows boxes to be built that fold in multiple dimensions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Generally speaking, in accordance with the invention, an element that is comprised of a sheet of material that has been provided with a network of hinges such that when the element is folded its edges maintain a right angle relationship is provided.

This maintained or invariant angle is a critical innovation of the disclosed invention, allowing for a method whereby square and rectangular boxes may be constructed which may be collapsed down to compact size and easily popped open. Boxes so constructed, according to the present disclosure, remain fully assembled with all seams and edges attached even as they are repeatedly folded and unfolded.

Further disclosed are boxes that have second degrees of folding such that they fold in half even as they flatten.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a plan view of four shapes that may be assembled to provide an embodiment of the inventive assembly; FIG. 1A is a plan view of a two regions that are assembled from the shapes shown in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 shows a plan view of an element which embodies the inventive assembly;

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a first folded condition;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a fourth folded condition;

FIG. 7 shows a plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a first folded condition;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a fourth folded condition;

FIG. 11 shows an elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a first folded condition;

FIG. 12 is an elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 13 is an elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 14 is an elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 in a fourth folded condition;

FIG. 15 shows a plan view of sheet comprised of four elements similar to that shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 16 shows an exploded view of the sheet shown in FIG. 15, which has been folded to a first position, along with upper and lower surfaces;

FIG. 17 shows a perspective view of a box comprised of the sheet and surfaces shown in FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 shows a perspective view of the box of FIG. 16 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 19 shows a perspective view of the box of FIG. 16 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 20 shows a perspective view of a box which is another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 21 shows a plan view of box shown in FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 20 with an outward force applied to its sides;

FIG. 23 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 22 in a “popped-open” condition;

FIG. 24 shows a plan view of the box shown in FIG. 23;

FIG. 25 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 20 with an outward force applied to its corners;

FIG. 26 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 25 in a second “popped-open” condition;

FIG. 27 shows a plan view of the box shown in FIG. 26;

FIG. 28 shows a perspective view of a box which is an alternate embodiment of the invention in a folded condition;

FIG. 29 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 28 in a second further unfolded condition;

FIG. 30 shows a perspective view of the box shown in

FIG. 28 in a third fully unfolded condition;

FIG. 31 shows a plan view of an element which is an alternate embodiment of the inventive assembly;

FIG. 32 shows a plan view of sheet comprised of four elements, two of which are similar to that shown in FIG. 31;

FIG. 33 shows an exploded perspective view of the sheet shown in FIG. 32, which has been folded to a first position, along with upper and lower surfaces;

FIG. 34 shows a perspective view of a box comprised of the sheet and surfaces shown in FIG. 33;

FIG. 35 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 34 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 36 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 34 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 37 shows a perspective view of the box shown in FIG. 34 in a fourth fully folded condition;

FIG. 38 shows a box which is an alternate embodiment of the invention in a first folded condition;

FIG. 39 shows the box shown in FIG. 38 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 40 shows the box shown in FIG. 38 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 41 shows a container of the invention comprised of two stacked boxes in a first folded condition;

FIG. 42 shows the container shown in FIG. 41 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 43 shows the container shown in FIG. 41 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 44 shows an assembly of the invention in a first folded condition;

FIG. 45 shows the assembly shown in FIG. 44 in a second folded condition;

FIG. 46 shows the assembly shown in FIG. 44 in a third folded condition;

FIG. 47 shows the assembly shown in FIG. 44 in a fourth folded condition;

FIG. 48 shows a group of boxes constructed in accordance with the invention and in a first folded condition;

FIG. 49 shows the group of boxes shown in FIG. 48 in a second folded condition; and

FIG. 50 shows the group of boxes shown in FIG. 49 assembled into a cabinet unit.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 shows a plan view of four flat shapes 2, 4, 6 and 8. Shape 2 is a scalene triangle having a longer side and two shorter sides. Preferably, shape 2 has internal angles of approximately 45, 22.5 and 112.5 degrees respectively. Shape 4 is a symmetric or isosceles trapezoid having first and second sides of equal length and third and fourth sides of different lengths. Preferably, shape 4 has internal angles of approximately 45 and 135 degrees. Shape 6 is a scalene triangle which is essentially a mirror image of shape 2. Shape 8 is an isosceles triangle having first and second sides of equal length and a third side. Preferably, shape 8 has internal angles of approximately 67.5 and 45 degrees.

FIG. 1A is a plan view of a region 20 wherein shapes 2, 4, 6 and 8 have been attached to each other by a hinged connection. Also shown in FIG. 1A is a second region 22 which is essentially a mirror image of region 20.

FIG. 2 shows a plan view of an element 24 which is comprised of regions 20 and 22 which have been hingedly joined along their respective bottom and top edges. Also shown are outer edges 3 and 13 which border shapes 2 and 12 respectively, as well as outer edges 5 and 15 which border shapes 8 and 18 respectively.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of element 24 which has been folded to a certain degree. Outer edges 3, 13, 5 and 15 are also shown. FIGS. 4-6 show perspective views of element 24 as it is folded down to a flattened configuration.

FIG. 7 shows a plan view of element 24 which is folded to the same degree as FIG. 3. Seen from this perspective, edge 3 forms an angle with edge 13, said angle being approximately ninety degrees. Likewise edge 5 (which lies directly below edge 3) forms an angle with edge 15, again said angle being approximately ninety degrees.

FIG. 8 shows a plan view of element 24 which is folded to the same degree as FIG. 4. The angle formed between edges 3, 13 and 5, 15 remains approximately ninety degrees.

FIGS. 9 and 10 show plan views of element 24 folded to the same degree as FIGS. 5 and 6 respectively. The angles formed between edges 3, 13 and 5, 15 remain approximately ninety degrees for both positions.

FIGS. 11-14 show elevation views of element 24 as it is folded, the positions being the same as shown in FIGS. 3-6 and FIGS. 7-10 respectively.

FIG. 15 shows a plan view of sheet 30 which is comprised of four elements 32, 34, 36 and 38; each element comprises six triangles and two trapezoids similar to element 24 as shown in FIG. 2. Also shown are outer edges 31 and 35 which border element 32 as well as outer edges 33 and 37 which border element 38.

FIG. 16 shows a perspective view of sheet 30 which has been folded in a three-dimensional manner to form a loop such that edge 31 has been joined to edge 33 and edge 35 has been joined to edge 37. The upper perimeter 43 of sheet 30 forms a square shape as does the lower perimeter 44. Also shown in exploded view are top surface 40 and bottom surface 42 which each have an essentially square shape.

FIG. 17 shows an assembled box 50 wherein the upper and lower perimeter of sheet 30 have been joined to upper surface 40 and lower surface 42.

FIG. 18 shows box 50 in a further folded position. FIG. 19 shows box 50 in a fully folded position.

FIG. 20 shows a perspective view of box 60 according to the present invention. This embodiment of the invention shows shapes 63, 65, 67 and 69 at the four comers of box 60, each of which have a trapezoidal profile rather than a triangular profile as in previous drawings. Also shown in this view are four shapes 62, 64, 66 and 68 that are part of the sides of box 60.

FIG. 21 shows a plan view of box 60. It may be seen that trapezoids 62, 64, 66 and 68 lie within the interior space of box 60.

FIG. 22 shows a second perspective view of box 60. Also shown is force vector 61 which indicates an outward force on the sides of the box.

FIG. 23 shows a perspective view of box 60 where its four sides are pushed outwards relative to the position shown in FIG. 22. This position is a result of the force 61 applied in FIG. 22. In this position, the box resists downwards forces on its upper surface.

FIG. 24 shows a plan view of box 60 in the same position as FIG. 23. Side shapes 62, 64, 66 and 68 of box 60 now lie outside of the box's interior space.

FIG. 25 shows a perspective view of box 70 which is essentially the same as box 60 except that additional pleat lines 72, 74, 76 and 78 are shown at its comers. Also shown is force vector 71 which indicates an outward force on the comers of the box.

FIG. 26 shows a perspective view of box 70 wherein the outward force 71 having been applied to its comers results in forcing the comers outwards to form straight creases 72,74 and 76,78. In this position, the box will also resist downwards force on its upper surface.

FIG. 27 shows a plan view of box 70 in the same position as FIG. 26.

FIG. 28 shows a perspective view of box 100 which is an alternate embodiment of the invention. Box 100, shown in its fully folded position, is comprised of a top surface 120, a folded sheet 110 and a bottom surface 130. Additionally shown are four links 101, 102, 103 and 104 which are attached to folded sheet 110.

FIG. 29 shows box 100 in a partially folded condition. Links 101, 102, 103 and 104, which are attached to the comers of sheet 110, are rotated relative to the position shown in FIG. 28.

FIG. 30 shows box 100 in an unfolded position. Arms 101, 102, 103 and 104 have been further rotated, creasing the comers of sheet 110 such that the box is stiffened and self-supporting.

FIG. 31 shows a plan view of an alternate embodiment of the invention, element 150 which is comprised of two regions 148 and 149. Region 148 is comprised of shapes 151, 152, 153, 154, 155 and 156. Shapes 151, 155 and 156 correspond to shapes 2, 6 and 8 as shown in FIG. 2. However, shapes 152, 153 and 154, in effect, take the place of shape 4 in FIG. 2. Likewise region 149 is comprised of shapes 161, 162, 163, 164, 165 and 166 wherein shapes 161, 166 and 166 correspond to shapes 12, 16 and 18 as shown in FIG. 1. However, shapes 162, 163 and 164, in effect, take the place of shape 14 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 32 shows a plan view of sheet 135 which is comprised of four elements 140, 150, 160 and 170. Elements 140 and 160 are similar to element 24 shown in FIG. 2, except that the symmetric trapezoid is replaced by an isosceles triangle. Elements 150 and 170 differ from elements 140 and 160 in that they have additional fold-lines. Also shown are edges 141 and 142 which border element 140, as well as edges 143 and 144 which border element 170.

FIG. 33 shows sheet 135 which has been folded in a three-dimensional manner to form a loop, wherein edge 141 has been joined to edge 143 and edge 142 has been joined to edge 144. The upper perimeter 176 of sheet 135 forms an essentially rectangular shape as does the lower perimeter 177. Also shown in exploded view are top surface 145 and bottom surface 175 which each have an essentially rectangular shape.

FIG. 34 shows an assembled box 180 wherein the upper and lower perimeters of sheet 135 have been joined to upper surface 145 and lower surface 175.

FIGS. 35 and 36 shows box 180 in a successively further folded positions. FIG. 37 shows box 180 in a fully folded position. It may be seen that as box 180 flattens, it also folds in half, somewhat in the manner of closing a book, so that its packaged size is further reduced. This additional degree of folding is due to the additional fold-lines in elements 150 and 170.

FIG. 38 shows an alternate embodiment of the invention, box 190 which has a pair of fold lines that define a strip 191 of material that separates the upper and lower halves of the box. As the box is flattened, as shown in FIGS. 39 and 40, strip 191 provides some relief for the fold-lines at the center of the box by distributing the crease over two fold-lines rather than one fold-line as shown in previous drawings.

FIG. 41 shows an alternate embodiment of the invention in the form of a container 200 which is comprised of two boxes 202 and 204 which are attached to one another in a stacked arrangement. FIGS. 42 and 43 show container 200 as it is successively unfolded.

FIG. 44 shows another embodiment, unit 300 which is comprised of two boxes 310 and 320 which are connected by a hinge. FIG. 45 shows unit 300 after boxes 310 and 320 have been rotated such that they lie side by side.

FIG. 46 shows box 310 is comprised of a lower part 314 and an upper hinged plate 312 which has been rotated around a hinged connection. Likewise, box 320 is comprised of a lower part 324 and an upper hinged plate 322.

FIG. 47 shows unit 300 after boxes 310 and 320 have been fully unfolded, thereby providing a bench with storage space.

FIG. 48 shows a stack 400 of folded boxes 402, 4040, 406, 408 and 410. FIG. 49 shows the boxes in their unfolded positions sitting side by side. It may be seen that each box has cabinet-style doors.

FIG. 50 shows boxes 402, 404, 406, 408 and 410 have been attached to one another to provide a cabinet unit.

The scope of the invention will now be set forth in the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7699212Apr 11, 2005Apr 20, 2010S.C. Johnson Home Storage, Inc.Collapsible storage device and method of making the same
US7854370Jun 13, 2007Dec 21, 2010S.C. Johnson Home Storage, Inc.Collapsible storage device
US8615970Mar 23, 2010Dec 31, 2013Charles HobermanPanel assemblies having controllable surface properties
US8651309Dec 21, 2011Feb 18, 2014Jorge IbarraCollapsible container
US20050224563 *Apr 11, 2005Oct 13, 2005Turvey Robert RCollapsible storage device and method of making the same
US20110240638 *Mar 30, 2010Oct 6, 2011Pei-Chuan MaCollapsible storage basket
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/6
International ClassificationB65D6/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65D5/36, B65D11/186
European ClassificationB65D11/18F, B65D5/36