US 3038593 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 12, 1962 A. A. ROOT ET AL 3,038,593
MEANS FOR PACKAGING ARTICLES Filed Jan. 2, 1959 /NVEN roles ANDREW A. ROOT JOHN o. MARTIN ATTORNEY Mass.
Filed Jan. 2, 1959, Ser. No. 784,694 4 Claims. (Cl. 20G-5) rllhis invention relates to improved means for packaging articles and has particular reference to the provision of novel crush-resistant containers for protecting articles during storage or shipment.
A principal object of the invention is to provide simple, lightweight and economical crush-resistant article packag- 1ng means.
Another object is to provide Imeans by which articles may be quickly and eiiiciently packaged in inexpensive normally liexible sealed containers which are thereafter automatioally rendered crush-resistant.
A further object is -to provide an improved packaging technique wherein an article to be packaged is placed, along 'with a -volatile substance, in a container of exible leakproo'f material which is thereafter hermetically sealed and automatically inflated under pressure by the subsequent volatilization of 4said substance so as to render said container lresistant to bending or crushing and thereby protect said article from the normal abuses encountered in shipping or storage.
A still further object is to` provide improved compact transparent shipping containers of the above character which offer maximum protection for articles shipped therein. while being extremely light in weight to minimize postage or other shipping costs.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the fol-lowing description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. l is a side elevational view of one form of container of the invention wherein an article to be packaged and means to subsequently inilate the container are illustrated as being placed in said container;
FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. l illustrating the completion of la subsequent stepin the method of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view taken substantial-ly on line 3 3` of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a View similar to FIG. 3 illustrating the container in its inflated condition of use;
FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of a modified form of packaging means of the invention shown partially in cross-section;
FIG. 6 Iis a longitudinal cross-sectional view of still another rnodication of the invention; and
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a further modiiication of the invention.
Heretofore, it has been the usual practice in packaging articles 'for storage or shipping to place them in containers formed of rigid material such las cardboard, plastic or the like which otfer various degrees of protection depending upon the rigidity of their construction. ySuch containers, in most instances, were relatively expensive to manufacture, particularly when constructed to properly withstand the abuses usually encountered during mailing or shipping. The weight of such containers which, in many instances, was equal to or greater than `the weight of the article packaged therein, involved considerable cost in postage or shipping and thereby greatly increased the ultimate cost of the article.
Containers of thin and flexible transparent plastic material or the like have also been commonly used with a view to providing, to a limited degree, some protection against dust and dirt, and Shop wear due to handling or the like.
However, previous to this invention, such containers have Patented .inne 12, 1962 icc not been suitable for shipping pur-poses since, being rather thin and ilexible, they offer substantially no protection against crushing, bending or other damaging forces on the articles packaged therein.
The present invention, therefore, is directed to the provision of la container of relatively thin, lightweight and inexpensive transparent tilmlike material in which rather delicate articles may be safely packaged and shipped or stored and may be attractively displayed if desired.
Referring to the dnawings wherein like characters designate like parts, in FIG. 1 there is shown, for purposes of illustration, 4a tubular container 10 which is formed of relatively thin plastic material such, for example, as polyethylene or the like, preferably of the Well-known type which is equally resistant -to stretching in all directions. It will become apparent hereinafter that various other wellknown plastic materials such as vinyl plastics or the like may also be used.
The container 10 is in the formv of a hollow tube which is heat sealed at one end 11 in a conventional manner by applying heat and pressure to overlapping portions at said end to form an envelope-like construction in which an article 12 to be packaged is inserted through the remaining open end 1=3` thereof. It is pointed out that the article 12 is shown, only for purposes of illustration, as being the front of a spectacle frame which is rather delicate in nature and which, when subjected to a striking or crushing force such as might occur in storing or shipping, can be easily damaged. Although a spectacle front is mentioned above, it is to be understood that the present invention is adapted to provide protective packaging means for any type of article to be shipped, stored or displayed. Furthermore, while the container 10 has been illustrated as being in tubular form, it should be understood that it may 'be constructed from a flat piece of sheet material which is folded in half and heat Sealed lalong its side edge opposite to the fold, as well as across one of its ends so as to form an envelopelike structure similar to the container 1l).
The material of the container 10, which is inherently relatively soft and tlexible would, under ordinary circumstances, otfer little protection against the crushing of an article 12 when said article is sealed therein, as shown in FIG. 2. FDherefore, the present invention provides means and method for rendering the container 10 crush-resistant and substantially non-bendable after the article 12 has been sealed within the container 10 as illustrated in FIG. 2, wherein its end 14 is also heat sealed or otherwise closed.
To accomplish this, in a simple and etlicient manner, a controlled amount of a volatile substance such as liquid nitrogen or the like, depending upon the size of the container, is placed and sealed within the container 10 along with the article 12, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Upon subsequent volatilization of the liqueed gas in the sealed container, it will inflate the said container to a precontrolled pressure, as will be described in detail hereinafter. Due to said inflation, the sides of the container will be held away from the article 12 (see FIG. 4) by the pressure of the gas therein so as to resist crushing or bending and thereby provide a transparent protective encasement for the article 12.
Since the quantity of the liqueed gas which is initially placed within the container 10 must be controlled in accordance with the internal capacity of the container and further in accordance with the outwardly directed pressure desired on the side Walls of the container upon complete volatilization of the liqueed gas, means in the form of an absorbent material such as blotting paper 15 or a sponge material or the like is provided to support the liquid gas land thereby oder convenient means by which a predetermined quantity of said gas may be conveyed 3 and placed in the container along with the larticle 12 (see FIG. l).
The blotting paper is selected to be of such dimension as to absorb a precontrolled amount of liquid when completely saturated therewith and is immersed in a supply of liquefied gas (for example, nitrogen) for a period of time sufficient to permit it to absorb a maximum of said liquefied gas. At the time the `article 12 is to be placed in the container 10, the blotting paper 15 is removed from the liquid gas and quickly inserted in the container 10` along with the article 12 whereupon the open end 13 of the container 10 is immediately thereafter heat sealed or otherwise tightly closed at 14 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Volatilization of the liquid gas in the blotting paper 15 will then take place to automatically inflate the container 10 and when the liquefied gas has been completely volatilized, a predetermined outwardly directed pressure will be built up within the interior of the container and will render the container 10 crush-resistant.
It is pointed out that the containers of the invention are constructed of materials having predetermined thicknesses and strengths in accordance with the gas pressures which are to be provided therein and in accordance with the degree of crushing or other forces which are expected to be exerted on the containers. Furthermore, the type of material selected is such yas to resist permeation of the particular gas which is used to inflate the container or alternatively the interior of the containers may be spray-coated or otherwise provided with a layer of a different plastic material which will not permit permeation of the particular gas used to inflate the container.
While nitrogen has been set forth hereinabove as being an example of a gas suitable for inflating containers formed of polyethylene, it is pointed out that v-arious other gases may be used to equal advantage. For example, some articles which are to be packaged mig-ht be subject to corrosion or attack by certain natural gases and, therefore, would be packaged with an inert gas such as helium or the like. It shou-ld also be understood that a gas initially in solid form may be used in place of the abovedescribed liquefied gas. In such a case, the blotter 15 would not be used since it would only be necessary to insert a piece of solidified gas of a predetermined size into the container along with the article to be pack-aged. Dry Ice (solidified CO2) may be used for this purpose wherein a piece vof the Dry Ice of a predetermined size controlled to produce the desired pressure within the container when completely volatilized would be inserted in the container 10 along with the article 12 whereupon the open end of the container would be immediately sealed to prevent escape of the gas resulting from volatilization of the Dry Ice.
It is pointed out that the container 10 may be formed of transparent plastic material if it is desired to display the article 12 while packaged or, if the container is used more specifically for mailing or shipping purposes, it may be formed of translucent or opaque material and tagged to identify its contents. It is further pointed out that an article packaged in the above manner may be mailed or shipped directly, without additional wrappings or the like, simply by attaching a shipping tag to the same, the main purpose being to provide an inexpensive, lightweight container which will afford maximum protection for the article contained therein.
In FIG. 5 there is shown a modification of the invention wherein a reusable container 16 is illustrated. The container 16 is generally similar to the above-described container 10 with the exception that at its open end 17 there is provided a screw-on cap 18 which is used to seal the container. At the open end 17 of the container 16 there is provided an externally threaded ring-like member 19 of plastic or metal which is cemented or otherwise securely fixed to the peripheral edge of the open end of the container. The cap 18 which is internally threaded, as shown,
is provided with an internally disposed gasket 20 which, when the cap is tightly screwed onto the member 19, will seal the open end 17 of the container and prevent permeation of air or gases between the threads of the cap 18 and member 19.
The container 16 is used in precisely the same manner as the container 10 with the exception that the seal at its open end is made with the cap 18 rather than by applying heat and pressure on overlapping portions of the material of the container itself. In this manner the container 16 may be used repeatedly since itis not necessary to destroy the container in removing an article packaged therein as would be the case with the container 10 of FIGS. 1 4.
A further modification of the invention is shown in FIG. 6 wherein the shipping or storage container 211 comprises an inner envelope 22 of plastic or other similar material within which an article 12 is placed and an outer protective envelope 23 of normally flexible plastic or similar material which is infiated to suspend the inner envelope 22 between its side Walls and opposite ends. The envelopes 22 and 23 are both tubular in form and may be fabricated from sheet material or extruded by conventional methods so as to be in the form` of a seamless tube or the like. The container 21 is first assembled by placing the envelope 22 within the envelope 23 and hermetically heat sealing one of the ends 24 of the envelope 23 along with the adjacent end 25 of the envelope 22 as by the use of heat and pressure or the like. With the opposite ends 24a and 25a, respectively, of both the envelopes still unsealed, the article 12 is slipped into the inner envelope 22 and its end 25a is thereafter sealed. A liquefied gas such as nitrogen which is supported in a blotter 26 or the like is next inserted into the envelope 23 between its inner side walls and the outer side walls of the envelope 22 whereupon the end 24a of the envelope 23 is thereafter immediately hermetically sealed to the end 25a of the envelope 22.
It is pointed out that, if desired, both the ends 25a and 24a of the respective envelopes 22 and 23 may be simultaneously heat sealed immediately following the insertion of .the article 12 and the blotter 26 mentioned above. With both of the ends 24-25 and 24a-25a of the envelopes 22 and 23 hermetically sealed, the outer envelope 23 will be automatically infiated by volatilization of the liquefied gas carried in the blotter 26 and thereby render the container 21 crush-resistant and substantially non-bendable.
The quantity of liquefied gas which is placed within the container `21 is controlled, as described hereinabove with reference to the container 10, in accordance with the capacity of the envelope `23 and the extent of outwardly directed pressure desired within the container 23. It should be understood that various types of gases, either initially in liquid or solid form, may be used as means to inflate the container 21.
The envelopes 22 and 23 are preferably formed of the same type of plastic material such as, for example, polyethylene, which will fuse together and form an airtight seal at the opposite ends of the container 21 -when subjected to heat and pressure. With the envelopes 22 and 23 both being formed of the well-known linear type of polyethylene which is substantially non-elastic in the direction of one of its meridians (normal to the longitudinal dimension of the container) and slightly stretchable in the direction of another of its meridians (parallel to the longitudinal dimension of the container) it can `be seen that upon inflation of the container the inner envelope 22 thereof will be collapsed about the article 12 and a slight endwise stretching of the envelope 23 due to the gas pressure therein will produce a tensioning or endwise pull on the envelope 22 to retain the envelope 22 and its contents suspended substantially midway between the side walls of the envelope 23. In this manner, the article 12 will not only be protected from crushing and/or bending forces but, being so spaced from the outer walls of the envelope 23, it will also be protected from sharp blows or other impacts to which the container 21 might be subjected during shipping or periods of storage.
A further advantage of the latter construction is that the article itself, even though it might be formed of a material susceptible to injury by the gas, will be fur-ther protected from such injury.
It is pointed out that connecting ties or webs such as illustrated by the lines 27, FIG. 7, may be provided to span the space between the outer envelope 23 and the inner envelope 22 of the container' 211 to provide positive means for retaining the inner envelope 22 suspended substantially midway between the inner side walls of the outer envelope 23. The ties 27 would preferably be formed of a flexible but substantially non-elastic plastic material or the like each having one of their ends heat sealed, cemented or otherwise secured to the inner wall of the envelope 23 and its opposite end similarly secured to the outer wall of the envelope 22. Upon iniiation of the envelope 23, the ties 2,7 will be placed under tension by the force of the gas pressure which tends to collapse the inner envelope 22 and simultaneously force the walls of the outer envelope outwardly.
With the container 21 modied as just described, the ties 27 will provide positive means to maintain the article 12 suspended between the inner walls of the envelope 23 so as to protect said article from injury during shipping or storage.
It should be understood that plastic containers such as illustrated in FIG. 6 may be initially formed by extrusion methods wherein the inner and outer envelopes along with connecting webs which extend between the adjacent side walls of said envelopes are simultaneously formed as an integral unit. With the ends of such a container subsequently hermetically sealed and the space between the inner and outer envelopes pressurized, the integrally formed webs will function in a manner similar to the ties 27 to retain the inner envelope of the container spaced from lthe walls of the outer envelope thereof.
It is further to be understood that instead of forming the main containers of thin iilmlike material that they may be extruded, cast or otherwise formed relatively thick but responsive to gas pressure with the inner envelope preferably being still formed of relatively thin tilmlike material and otherwise of a similar construction as the above-described containers.
From lthe foregoing it can be seen that simple, highly efcient and economical means have been provided for accomplishing all the objects and advantages of the invention. Nevertheless, it is to be understood that various changes in the details of construction and arrangement of parts may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention as expressed in the accompanying claims, and the invention is not to be limited to the exact matters shown and described as only the preferred matters have been given by way of illustration.
Having described our invention, we claim:
l. A crush-resistant container for packaging articles comprising a first outer tubular envelope of normally flexible sheet-like material, a second inner tubular envelope of a material similar to that of said first envelope positioned within said iirst envelope in which an article is placed for packaging, said tirst outer envelope being initially of a given length greater than said second inner envelope and having its edges in end-to-end aligned hermetically sealed relation with said second inner envelope, the opposite ends of both said iirst and second envelopes being hermetically sealed with each other to encase said article therein and inilating means within said iirst envelope between the inner walls thereof and the outer walls of said second inner envelope retaining said irst outer envelope in inflated state and spaced from the second inner envelope and simultaneously retaining said second inner envelope in collapsed relatively intimate relation with said article and suspending the same in spaced relation with and substantially midway between the inflated side walls of said rst outer envelope.
2. A container of the character described comprising an outer tubular member normally having an open end, an inner tubular envelope of tlexible film-like material internally of said outer tubular member and normally having an open end communicating with the open end of said outer tubular member in which an article is placed for packaging the opposite ends of said outer tubular member and said inner tubular envelope being in hermetically sealed relation with each other, means for hermetically sealing said open ends of said outer Itubular member and said inner tubular envelope with each other to encase the article therein and volatilized liquid gas means between said outer tubular member and said inner tubular envelope exerting an internal pressure therebetween of an amount such as to collapse said inner tubular envelope into relatively intimate relation with said article and to simultaneously cause the outer tubular member to expand in at least one direction and suspend the article and inner envelope between and in spaced relation with the inner walls of said outer tubular member.
3. A container of the character described comprising an outer hollow member of exible transparent nlm-like plastic material stretchable in at least one direction and having a normally open end, a tubular envelope of iiexible plastic film-like material internally of said hollow member and normaliy having an open end communicating with the open end of said outer hollow member in which an article is placed for packaging, said open ends being hermetically sealed for encasing said article therein, the opposite ends of said hollow member and said tubular envelope being in hermetically sealed relation with each other and iniiating gas means in between said hollow member and said tubular envelope creating an internal pressure of an amount suiiicient to inflate and stretch said outer hollow member in said one direction and to simultaneously collapse said inner tubular envelope into relatively intimate relation with said article and with Said inflating and stretching causing said article to be suspended in said outer hollow member in spaced relation with the inner side walls thereof.
4. A container of the character described comprising an outer hollow member of flexible transparent film-like plastic material having a normally open end, a tubular envelope of flexible transparent plastic hlm-like material .internally of said hollow member and normally having an open end communicating with the open end of said outer hollow member in which an article is placed for packaging, said open ends being hermetically sealed for encasing said article therein, the opposite ends of said hollow member and said tubular envelope being in hermetically sealed relation with each other and volatilized liquid gas means in between said hollow member and said tubular envelope creating an internal pressure of an amount sufficient to inflate said outer hollow member and to simultaneously collapse said inner tubular envelope into relatively intimate relation with said article and to cause said article to be suspended in said outer hollow member in spaced relation with the inner side Walls thereof, said outer hollow member and said tubular envelope having connecting webs therebetween.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,207,813 Stockton Dec. l2, 1916 1,962,900 Hirsch .lune 12, 1934 2,260,064 Stokes Oct. 2l, 1941 2,452,783 Nebesar Nov. 2, 1948 2,516,552 Clark et al. July 25, 1950 2,542,957 Adams Feb. 20, 1951 2,824,642 Stoltz Feb. 25, 1958 2,835,596 Kaufman May 20, 1958 2,898,027 Scholle Aug. 4, 1959