This application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 60/705,514, filed Aug. 4, 2005, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to packaging and, more specifically, to a package which stands upright.
One type of package that is in common use today is the clamshell package. Clamshell packages are desirable because, amongst other reasons, they are made of a clear material that makes their contents easy to view, they are made of tough plastic material that provides a high degree of security, and they have the ability to stand upright. The ability to stand upright is a feature that is useful in stocking and displaying items in a store or warehouse.
A clamshell package is typically enabled to stand in one of two ways. First, one or both sections of the clamshell package may be designed to include a base structure near the hinged connection between the sections of the clamshell package, which allows the clamshell package to stand. A second method for enabling a clamshell package to stand upright is to provide a separate base into which the clamshell package is inserted to retain the clamshell package in an upright position.
Clamshell packages are constructed from a transparent plastic material that allows contents of the package to be viewed. These materials are useful for security and display purposes but are relatively expensive. A further disadvantage of the known designs for enabling a package to stand upright is that additional material is incorporated into the package to form the base structure, thereby increasing the cost of the package.
In addition, it is difficult or expensive to print upon plastic materials. In general, to provide a viewable printed surface for a clamshell package, printed paperboard is provided inside the clamshell package. The size of the clamshell package must be increased to accommodate the printed paperboard, which results in further expense.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Therefore, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the industry to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies. What is needed is a package for containing objects which provides a high degree of security, permits the consumer to view the contents, provides for ample printable space, is able to stand upright, and is cost-effective to produce.
The various embodiments of the present invention overcome the shortcomings of the prior art by providing a package which includes a shell for containing an object, which is secured to a card having an edge. The shell includes a main body for securing and containing the object, a planar flange surrounding the object, and a foot that extends from the flange. The shell is secured to the card such that the foot of the shell extends relative to the edge of the card so as to cooperate to provide a base to support the package in an upright position. Thereby, the object in the shell is viewable and the card can be formed of a relatively inexpensive material to reduce the cost of the package. In addition the card can be formed of a material that is easily printed upon to further reduce the necessary size of the shell.
According to one embodiment of the invention, the shell is formed from a thermoplastic material. The shell is assembled from an inner structure and an outer structure that together define an interior chamber which is adapted and configured for containing an object or objects. The outer structure includes a convex portion and a substantially planar flange that extends about at least part of the convex portion. At least one foot is formed in the flange of the outer structure and extends outwardly from the plane defined by the flange. The inner structure includes a convex portion having a cavity that is configured to receive an item. The convex portion of the inner structure is inserted into the concave portion of the outer structure such that the cavity and the volume between the inner and outer structures define the interior chamber. The composite portions of the inner and outer structures define the main body of the shell. The composite flanges of the inner and outer structures define the flange of the shell.
In this same embodiment of the invention, the card has front and back panels that are hingedly connected along a fold line. The front panel includes an aperture for receiving the main body of the shell. The back panel includes ports for receiving the feet of the shell. The ports are disposed proximal to the fold line such that the package is capable of being supported in an upright position by the feet and an edge of the card portion as described immediately below. The back panel further includes a pattern of severance lines for accessing the object or objects in the package.
In alternative embodiments, only a single outer shell is provided and the item is placed within the concave space created between the outer shell and card. In still other alternative embodiments, multiple shells with multiple formed cavities are nested inside an outer shell to securely display a plurality of items. In additional alternative embodiments, the exterior perimeter of the card may take any form or shape, this configuration being merely a design choice. Specifically, there is no requirement that the standing edge be straight or uniform as shown in the illustrated embodiment; rather it may curve, undulate, or otherwise take any design. In still further embodiments, the standing edge is formed from only a single edge of one panel.
In the illustrated embodiment, the package is assembled as the card is folded along the fold line to define an edge, the main body of the shell is received in the aperture of the front panel, and the feet of the shell are received in the respective ports of the back panel. The flange of the shell is sandwiched between the folded front and back panels of the card as the panels are folded to be substantially coplanar and secured to one another. Thereby, the shell is secured by the card to form a package and the feet of the shell extend relative to the edge of the card such that lower surfaces of the feet and at least a portion of the edge are coplanar.
In alternative embodiments the shells and panels are individual parts, that is, they are not joined and folded to form the package as shown in the illustrated package but are assembled as individual parts to form the package. In still other alternative embodiments, the shells and/or the card are formed of a single part and folded. In additional alternative embodiments there is a single foot and that foot is formed from any portion of any of the shells, or parts thereof, and may be formed separately and attached to the package. In still other alternative embodiments, the feet extend toward the front of the package while in other embodiments the feet extend in an opposite or alternate direction.
Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present invention will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. All such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages are included within the scope of the present teaching and are protected by the accompanying claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The foregoing has broadly outlined some of the aspects and features of the present invention, which should be construed to be merely illustrative of various potential applications of the invention. Other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by combining various aspects of the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims.
FIG. 1 is a plan view of components of a package including a card and structures for forming a shell, according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the components of FIG. 1 illustrating the assembly of a package, according to the present invention.
FIGS. 3 and 4 are perspective views of an exemplary package, the package being assembled from the components of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the package of FIGS. 3 and 4.
As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It must be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms, and combinations thereof. As used herein, the word “exemplary” is used expansively to refer to embodiments that serve as illustrations, specimens, models, or patterns. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. In other instances, well-known components, systems, materials, or methods have not been described in detail in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.
Referring now to the drawings, wherein like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the drawings illustrate certain of the various aspects of exemplary embodiments of a package formed from a shell and a card that includes features for maintaining the package in an upright position. The shell and the card are assembled such that a foot, which extends from a portion of the shell, and an edge of the card cooperate to provide a base for the package or otherwise support the package in an upright position.
Referring to FIG. 1, a card 104 and outer and inner structures 111, 112 for forming an exemplary shell 102 (shown in FIGS. 3-5), which can be assembled to form an exemplary blister card or package 100 (shown in FIGS. 3 and 4), are illustrated. The card 104 can be constructed of a foldable sheet material such as paperboard, corrugated board, plastic, cardboard or the like. It should be understood that the card 104 may be formed from a paper-like material in order to reduce costs. Alternatively, the card 104 can be formed from a tear-resistant synthetic paper substrate in order to provide increased theft-resistance or child-resistance.
The card 104 includes front and back panels 114, 116 which are hingedly connected along a fold line 118. The front panel 114 of card 104 includes an aperture 120 for receiving a main body M portion of the shell 102, as described in further detail below. The back panel 116 of card 104 includes ports 122 for receiving feet 106 of the shell 102 and severance lines 130 for accessing objects in the package 100, as described in further detail below. The illustrated ports 122 are disposed adjacent or relative to the fold line 118. In alternative embodiments, the ports are eliminated by virtue of the card design. In further alternative embodiments, the ports are disposed adjacent or relative to an edge of the card.
The severance lines 130 define a push tab 132 and an at least partially detachable portion 134 of back panel 116. In the exemplary embodiment, the severance lines 130 define a semi-circular detachable portion 134 with a radius that is at least as great as the radius of the inner structure 112 such that the inner structure 112 can pass through an opening defined by the detachable portion 134. However, these details are design features that are not restricted to the illustrated embodiments.
In addition, the panels 114, 116 of the card 104 include apertures A that cooperate to define an aperture 103 (shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) in the package 100 for hanging the package, for example, from a hook.
As used herein, the phrase “frangible line” or “severance line” includes, but is not limited to, perforations, a line of perforations, a line of short slits, a line of half cuts, a single half cut, any combination of perforations, slits, and half cuts, short score lines, and the like.
The outer and inner structures 111, 112 for forming a shell 102 can be formed of a transparent plastic material so as to allow the contents of the shell 102 to be visible as well as protected. For example, the outer and inner structures 111, 112 can be formed from a thermoplastic material using an injection molding or thermoforming process. The outer structure 111 includes a main body 124 that is surrounded by a flange 126. In the exemplary embodiment, the main body 124 of the outer structure 111 is a hemispherical shape with a convex outer surface and a concave inner surface. The outer structure 111 of the shell 102 further includes feet 106 that are defined from the flange 126 and that extend outwardly from a plane defined by the flange 126. The main body 124 and the feet 106 extend in opposite directions relative to the plane defined by the flange 126. Similarly, the inner structure 112 of the shell 102 includes a main body 125 that is surrounded by a flange 127. Here, the main body 125 is a hemispherical shape with a convex outer surface and a concave inner surface. The main body 125 is sized relative to the main body 124 such that the convex outer surface of the inner structure 112 corresponds to or is otherwise received by the concave inner surface of the outer structure 111. Further, a cavity C, which is formed to fit an object, is disposed in the outer surface of the main body 125 of the inner structure 112. For example, in the exemplary embodiment, the cavity C is sized and shaped such that a small tube of medicine can be received in the cavity C. In alternative embodiments, the cavity C can be any suitable shape for receiving an object.
Referring to FIG. 2, the convex outside surface of the inner structure 112 of the shell 102 is dimensioned to fit against the concave inside surface of the outer structure 111 of the shell 102 such that the cavity C is enclosed by a portion the inside surface of the outer structure 111. Thereby, the shell 102 is assembled such that the main body 124 of the outer structure 111 and the main body 125 of the inner structure 112 form a composite main body M (shown in FIG. 3) of the shell 102. In addition, the flange 127 of the inner structure 112 abuts the flange 126 of the outer structure to form a composite flange F (shown in FIG. 3) of the shell 102. The flange 127 is dimensioned such that it does not interfere with the feet 106. In certain embodiments, the flange 127 is omitted such that the flange 126 defines the flange of the shell 102, and in other embodiments the feet extend from the flange 127 of the inner structure 112.
The package 100 can be assembled according to an exemplary method as the main body M of the shell 102 is received in the aperture 120 of the front panel 114 of the card 104 and the card 104 is folded along fold line 118 such that the panels 114, 116 of the card 104 are brought together with the flange F of the shell 102 disposed therebetween. Further, as the back panel 116 of the card 104 is folded toward the front panel 114, the feet 106 are received in and extend through respective ports 122. The flange 126 is dimensioned to be larger than the aperture 120 such that the shell 102 cannot move through the aperture 120.
Referring to FIG. 3, outer edge portions of each of the panels 114, 116 of the card 104 extend beyond the flange F of the shell 102 so as to be in a flat face arrangement with one another when the card 104 is folded along fold line 118. The outer edge portions of the panels 114, 116 of the card 104 can be secured to one another to secure the shell 102 in or to the card 104 and thereby form the package 100, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. In other words, the portions of the panels 114, 116 that directly contact one another, as opposed to being separated by the flange F of the shell 102, are secured together, for example, with adhesive. The sheet material of the card 104 can be secured together by any other known or yet to be developed means for securing sheet material, including glue or other adhesives, staples, mechanical fasteners, VelcroŽ, and the like.
The inner structure 112 facilitates supporting an object in the shell 102. However, in alternative embodiments, the inner structure 112 can be omitted and the shell can be defined by the outer structure 111. In such an embodiment, an object is enclosed between the outer structure 111 and the back panel 116. Further, in additional alternative embodiments, the front panel 114 can be omitted and the flange 126 of the outer structure 111 may be secured to the back panel 116 to form a package that stands upright. In still other embodiments, three or more shells are included to support multiple objects.
When the card 104 is folded along the fold line 118, an edge 105 is defined. As shown in FIGS. 3-5, the edge 105 and the feet 106 cooperate to support the package 100 in an upright position, which facilitates displaying the contents of the shell 102 of the package 100. At least portions of the edge 105 and at least portions of the feet 106 are substantially coplanar such that the substantially coplanar portions of the edge 105 and feet 106 act as a base for standing the package upright on a substantially flat supporting surface S. Accordingly, feet 106 may have substantially flat lower surfaces 110 that are roughly co-planar with one another and with edge 105.
The size, shape, position, and number of feet 106 are design decisions that will depend on the size, shape, and mass of the contents in the package. For example, it is envisaged that the package can include a single foot 106 to maintain the package in an upright condition along with the edge 105, much like a conventional picture frame. As shown in FIGS. 3-5, the feet 106 need not be significant in size to enable the blister card to stand upright since the plastic material typically composing the feet 106 is relatively rigid. Further, the feet 106 can be designed to be as small as feasible, while still allowing package 100 to stand, in order to reduce the amount of material required to form the feet 106 and in order to facilitate stacking or closely aligning a number of packages 100. As shown by the phantom line in FIG. 5, the package 100 may include at least one foot 136 that protrudes from the front surface of the package 100.
Another design decision is the desired angle G (shown in FIG. 5) that is defined between the card 104 of the package 100 and the supporting surface S of the package 100. The angle G can also be defined between a plane that is defined by the flange F and a plane in which the edge 105 and lower surfaces of the feet 106 are coplanar. In the exemplary embodiment, the package 100 leans back to increase the stability of the package 100 in the upright position or otherwise to prevent the package 100 from falling forward. This backward leaning configuration increases the stability of the package 100 in the upright position since the leaning configuration moves the center of gravity of the package 100, including any contents of the shell 102, over the feet 106. Other configurations of the feet are also possible, including the number, and orientation, and in some embodiments the attachment of separately formed feet directly to the card.
Referring to FIG. 4, the package 100 includes a pattern of severance lines 130 in the back panel 116 of the card 104. According to an exemplary method of opening the package 100, the severance lines 130 facilitate removal of a detachable portion 134 of the package 100 so as to access the contents therein. According to an exemplary method, a push tab 132 that is defined by certain severance lines 130 is pressed into a space between the shell 102 and the card 104. The detachable portion 134 of the card 104 can then be grasped and pulled outward to define an opening. The second section of the shell 102 can be removed through the opening to access the object within the shell 102.
The present invention has been illustrated in relation to a particular embodiment which is intended in all respects to be illustrative rather than restrictive. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the present invention is capable of many modifications and variations without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, as used herein, directional references such as “top”, “base”, “bottom”, “end”, “side”, “inner”, “outer”, “upper”, “middle”, “lower”, “front” and “rear” do not limit the respective walls of the carton to such orientation, but merely serve to distinguish these walls from one another. Any reference to hinged connection should not be construed as necessarily referring to a junction including a single hinge only; indeed, it is envisaged that hinged connection can be formed from one or more potentially disparate means for hingedly connecting materials. Further, in alternative embodiments, the package may include any number of shells, at least one of which includes at least one foot. In additional alternative embodiments, the foot may not be defined from the flange and may be attached to the card separately from the shell.
The law does not require and it is economically prohibitive to illustrate and teach every possible embodiment of the present claims. Hence, the above-described embodiments are merely exemplary illustrations of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Variations, modifications, and combinations may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the claims. All such variations, modifications, and combinations are included herein by the scope of this disclosure and the following claims.