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Publication numberUS20080011758 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/486,723
Publication dateJan 17, 2008
Filing dateJul 14, 2006
Priority dateJul 14, 2006
Publication number11486723, 486723, US 2008/0011758 A1, US 2008/011758 A1, US 20080011758 A1, US 20080011758A1, US 2008011758 A1, US 2008011758A1, US-A1-20080011758, US-A1-2008011758, US2008/0011758A1, US2008/011758A1, US20080011758 A1, US20080011758A1, US2008011758 A1, US2008011758A1
InventorsPhillip John Campbell
Original AssigneePhillip John Campbell
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Folding combination food plate/tray and storage container
US 20080011758 A1
A foldable closable food plate and storage container is provided, said plate maintains planar stability in the open position under load yet may be folded to create a container with an integral lid.
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1. A foldable plate/tray is provided comprising; an upper rim, sidewall and bottom defining said plate. Said plate having a generally centrally located hinge section that provides for a hinge line that allows for the plate to be folded in half. Said hinge section becomes the back of said container when said plate is folded in half.
2. said plate/tray being made of foam plastic.
3. said rim being mechanically fasted to the other said half of plate to fixedly secure said two halves together.
4. said plate can be re-usable
5. said plate can be disposable
6. said plate rim provides anti sagging or resistance to downward deformation under load.
7. said sidewall providing anti-sag resistance to the plate when loaded.
  • [0001]
    1. Field of Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to food plates, trays and food containers used for serving, storage and food transport.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of Prior Art
  • [0004]
    Food plates have been in demand and used by consumers for many years. Typically, manufacturers have supplied the market with light weight, disposable food ware that is inexpensive and convenient to use. As shown in U.S. Design Pat. No. D461,406S which issued to Iacovelli, Aug. 13, 2002 and shows a food tray design. This type of plate/tray is designed to be discarded after use and does not provide a means to utilize the tray as a storage or “To-Go” container. Most prior art food plates or trays are designed to serve as a plate only and do not provide for the plate to be further utilized as a storage container for “Left-Overs” or “Take-Out”. U.S. Pat. No. 5,765,689 issued to Cobden, et al. Jul. 16, 1998 shows a foldable drink tray with stand offs to prevent the tray from reversely folding under load but the tray is designed in a flat condition and is not meant to contain items as would a plate.
  • [0005]
    Folding “To-Go” containers are also available on the market and provide inexpensive food storage and transport vessels that may also be used to serve from. This type of container or tray can be convenient but the integrally hinged lid portion swings freely and does not offer support in the open position on a planar level with the bottom of the container to allow it to be used to hold food while one is carrying the tray or holding in ones lap.
  • [0006]
    Accordingly, it is the objective of the present invention to provide an improved food plate/tray that presents advantages over current types of food plates, trays and containers. It is another object of the present invention to provide a combination food plate/tray container that:
      • a. can be manufactured inexpensively without a great deal of modification to existing manufacturing machinery and practices.
      • b. can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes including ovals, rectangles and circles.
      • c. can be used as a serving plate, “to-go” box or “take-out” container.
      • d. can be manufactured in a variety of materials including plastic foam and other suitable plastics including microwave safe materials and paper.
      • e. provides for a food serving vessel wherein half of the vessel acts as a lid when folded and the two halves can be snapped or mechanically engaged in a closed condition.
      • f. provides for stacking or “nesting” of the vessel in the planar or open condition.
      • g. provides for fixed partially arcuate hinge construction that when in the open condition allows for “loading” of the plate with minor sagging or deformation from a planar configuration during use or carrying but may forcibly be inverted thereby allowing the plate to be folded in half.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 1 is a plan view of a plate in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 2 is a rear view of a plate shown in FIG. 1 having been folded in half;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 3 is a plan view of a plate shown in FIG. 1 having been folded in half;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 4 is half sectional views of the plate shown in FIG. 1;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 5 is a side view of a plate as shown in FIG. 1 in the partially closed condition;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a plate shown in FIG. 1 in the open condition;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a plate shown in FIG. 1 in the closed or folded in half condition;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 8 is a perspective of another embodiment 10A, of the present invention;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 9 is a side view of the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 8;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 10 is a side view of the embodiment presented in FIG. 8 of the present invention showing the plate 10 A, in the partially closed condition.
  • [0024]
    A typical embodiment of the present invention is best described and illustrated in FIGS. 1-10. Referring to FIG. 1 a food plate 10 is shown in plan view comprising an outer rim 17 defining the plate. The plate is comprised of a bottom 39, defined by transition point 15, inclined side 26 defined by transition point 33 and top rim 35. A centrally located hinge point 21 is shown with opposing hinging points 23 defining section 24. Hinge point 21 terminates at the apex of triangular shaped section 27 on an angle of incline defined by line 19 and a curved, eased, thinned down or relieved transition segment on the underside of plate 10 shown here as hidden dotted line 31. Hinge points 23 terminate at bottom 39 termination point 15. Triangular area 25 is defined by eased, thinned down or relieved material segments 29. This thinning down or relieving of material (often referred to as a living hinge) in specific areas, utilizing specific polymer types, enables designated segments to flex multiple times without fatiguing or fracturing. These relieved segments are also designed to purposely direct the folding motion or action of said segments. Receiving bosses 42 are shown located on rim 35 with opposing engaging bosses 40. Rim 35 is shown with an eased, thinned down or relieved hinging section 44 on the underside of plate 10 shown here as a hidden dashed line. Referring to FIG. 2 plate 10 is shown from the rear in a folded snapped shut condition. Referring to FIG. 3 a plan view of plate 10 is shown in the closed or folded condition. Section 24 is shown in an inverted partially protruding condition (now forming the back of the closed container) having been forcibly flexed beyond the resistance capacity of the material at central hinge section 21. Referring to FIG. 4 half sectional views are depicted showing mating snap coupling elements 40 and 42. Rim 35 is shown in a down-turned convexly arcuate molded condition. Referring to FIG. 5 a side view of plate 10 is shown in the partially closed condition having been forcibly folded whereby arcuate rim section 35 is deformed past the resistance point in convex condition to take on its opposite concave condition. The opposite concave position of rim 35 is not realized as the two halves of plate 10 come together restricting further movement to the concave position forcing rim 35 to gradually flatten then become linear at hinge segment 44. Referring to FIG. 4 Section 24 is shown having the same height as the depth of plate 10, that is to say that the distance between hinge segments 23 is the same width as the plate is deep so as to allow even and flat coupling of the two halves of plate 10. The width between hinge segments 23 may be modified to meet the desired requirements of specific plate design. Referring to FIG. 6 a perspective drawing of plate 10 is shown having a center hinge portion 24, and an arcuate rim section 35. Receiving bosses 40 and 42 are also show. Referring to FIG. 7 a perspective view of plate 10 of the present invention is shown in the closed condition with the two halves snapped together. Referring to FIG. 8 an alternate embodiment 10A of the present invention is shown in perspective view with hinging segment 21 completely spanning plate 10 and intersecting at rim line of rim 35. Indented formed stand-off sections 46 which are located on opposite sides of hinge section 24, are shown which provide suitable support for the plate under compressive load conditions yet still allow for stack ability of the plate as there is provided a slight gap 48 between the opposing stand-offs. Through negligible downward deflection stand-offs 46 come in contact with each thereby providing resistive support to the plate under load. Line 44 may be perforated or scored in order to separate rim 35 at line 44 when preparing to close plate 10A. FIG. 9 shows a side view of this embodiment.
  • [0025]
    Operation and use of the plate/tray of the present invention may best be illustrated with reference to FIGS. 1-10. FIG. 1 shows a stackable serving plate 10 having a center dividing portion 24 that acts as food separator as well as the back of the closed plate and performs as a hinge with built in resilient opening and closing force. FIG. 4 shows rim section 35 in convex condition which also provides built in resilient force. The angled condition of sections 27 and 25 of FIG. 6 also provide resilient resistant and restoring force when deformed. The degree of angle, base width and height of sections 27, 25 and 21 may be modified depending on the requirements of specific plate/tray design. Hinge section 24, 21 and 27 may be planar (or flat) with bottom 39 of plate 10. In this type of design section 21 central hinge line would not be a necessary component. When plate 10 is used in the open or flat condition food may be served on it without downward or upward distortion by loaded weight. Referring to FIG. 6 angled sidewall 26 and convexly arcuate rim 35 essentially provide compressive and or tensile resistance to downward or upward load respectively. Arcuate hinge line 44 may also be manufactured as a tear-away section when preparing to fold the plate. Gripping the plate on either side at the hinge line and forcing the convexly arcuate rim 35 toward an opposite concave condition forces Plate 10 to elongate on the hinge axis and angled sections 27 and 25 along with hinge section 24 to invert thereby causing the plate to fold. Hinge section 24 now becomes the back panel of the closed container. In this condition the plate can be snapped or sealed shut by suitable means. The plate can then be re-opened by forcing the two halves apart in a similar motion. During the opening motion resilient closed condition forces are overcome by resilient opposite open condition forces thereby restoring the plate to the open condition with a positive snap like effect. Plate 10 may be manufactured with hinge section 24 at a much lower angle of pitch. With this type of design section 27 nor hinge section would invert during the closing operation. Section 25 then will deform inwardly at curved eased material segment 31 allowing the plate to fold. Referring to embodiment 10A FIG. 8 plate 10A provides for vertical stand-off members 46 that prevent the plate from bending under load. Rim 35 may be perforated or scored for the purpose of intentionally separating rim 35. The user simply grasps the rim 35 on either side and tears it along the perforation. Plate 10A may now be folded and snapped or fastened together to form a container to transport or stow food items.
  • [0026]
    Accordingly the reader will see that the combination food plate and storage container of the present invention can be constructed in a variety of shapes and sizes and used for a variety of foods or items. The invention may be used to pre-package micro-wave-able food items and sold in the folded condition to be opened by a consumer at the time of cooking so as to provide a plate to eat from. The invention can be manufactured as an oval, rectangle or in circular fashion. In addition the present invention allows for a plate to become a storage and or take out container as one in the same. The plate of the present invention is nestable so it may be stacked, yet in the closed condition can take up less space than conventional “to go” containers. It provides convenience and ease of use and may be designed as a disposable item or an item that may be repeatedly re-used. The plate/tray may be formed in a single piece of material using such manufacturing methods as thermo forming, vacuum forming and injection molding, While the present invention has been described with respect to certain preferred embodiments it is easily observed that variations and modifications may be introduced without departing from the true spirit and scope of this invention.
Patent Citations
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US4228898 *May 14, 1979Oct 21, 1980Packaging Corporation Of AmericaReclosable carton and blank therefor
US5765689 *Feb 6, 1997Jun 16, 1998Cobden; Peter JohnDrink tray
US5996882 *May 9, 1997Dec 7, 1999The Procter & Gamble CompanyCollapsible, foldable, stackable, and self-supporting container
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7854339Apr 13, 2010Dec 21, 2010Pactiv CorporationConvertible container and plate
US7878355May 4, 2009Feb 1, 2011Pactiv CorporationConvertible container and plate
US7878356Jun 24, 2009Feb 1, 2011Pactiv CorporationConvertible container and plate
US8439215Dec 20, 2010May 14, 2013Pactiv LLCConvertible container and plate
US8960480 *Jan 18, 2011Feb 24, 2015Ronald ClarkClamshell food tray with cup-based latch
US20100276418 *May 4, 2009Nov 4, 2010Pactiv CorporationConvertible Container and Plate
US20100276419 *Jun 24, 2009Nov 4, 2010Gartz Mark RConvertible container and plate
US20100276478 *Apr 13, 2010Nov 4, 2010Pactiv CorporationConvertible container and plate
US20110084068 *Dec 20, 2010Apr 14, 2011Gartz Mark RConvertible Container And Plate
US20110210119 *Jan 18, 2011Sep 1, 2011Ronald ClarkClamshell food tray with cup-based latch
US20150230636 *Mar 31, 2014Aug 20, 2015Bowlate LLCCombination dish
WO2010129968A1 *Jun 23, 2010Nov 11, 2010Pactiv CorporationConvertible container and plate
U.S. Classification220/575
International ClassificationA47G19/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47G19/02
European ClassificationA47G19/02