US 3191796 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
J. L. SCHWARTZ ETAL COMPARTMENTED STACKING AND NESTING CONTAINER Original Filed Feb. 25, 1963 Jul le 29, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 MN W Wm we N A w 5 4 W 7 4 w m mw y, 4 w M N QN m NW Q\ &m NM NM 9 H N MN WW 9Q v nq June 29, 1965 J. 1.. SCHWARTZ ETAL 3,191,796
COMPARTMENTED STACKING AND NESTING CONTAINER Original Filed Feb. 25, 1963 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 J4C05 4. SCA/WAZTZ 4060575. A/OMME INVENTOR5. BY 6 v 7 JO/J/V A/. ream 5, 46m
J. SCHWARTZ ETAL 3,191,796
COMPARTMENTED STACKING AND NES'IING CONTAINER Original Filed Feb. 25, 1963 June 29, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Z .7 H W 3 A m 5 WM N 4 M W SN 4? 7M 2 Z 7 6 y M m N a W J June 29, 1965 J. SCHWARTZ ETAL 3,
COMPARTMENTED STACKING AND NESTING CONTAINER Original Filed Feb. 25, 1963 5. Sheets-Sheet 4 NN \N NN JACOE 4 sax/M44272 40605752 Nari/ME INVENTORS,
BY drroe/vf/ Jay/v x74 CGOWE, 465W.
M NN QM QM NW Q %N N m mhd N June 29, 1965 J. L. SCHWARTZ ETAL COMPARTMENTED STACKING AND NESTING CQNTAINER Original Filed Feb. 25, 1963 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 J4C05 .4, 309M572 405057 .5: NOW/ME INVENTOR5,
JOA/A/ A: gyms: 4m):
United States Patent 3,191,796 CrBMPARTh IENTEE STAQKENG AND NESTINQ CONTAEJER Jacob Louis Schwartz, Corina, and August E. Nomine, Sun Valiey, Caiiii, assignors, by mesne assignments, to Shcil Gil Company, New York, N.Y., a corporation of Delaware Continuation of application Ser. No. 260,815, Feb. 25, 1963. This application July 21, I964, Ser. N 385,828 8 Claims. (Cl. Mil-23.6)
The present application is a continuation of our copending application Serial No. 260,815, filed February 25, 1963, which is to be abandoned.
The present invention relates to a compartmented open top container which is adapted to be either nested within or stacked upon another container of like configuration.
Open top compartmented containers capable of nesting within one another have long been known, a typical example of which is the ordinary mufiin tin. While it is possible to crudely stack such containers by offsetting the separate compartment depressions or, when the containers are loaded, by permitting the bottoms of the compartments of an upper, or superimposed, container to rest upon the material in the compartments of a lower, or underneath, container, the resulting stack is normally quite unstable, primarily because of the propensity of the precariously balanced tiers of containers to tilt or slip in a sidewise direction.
In addition, stacking and nesting boxes or containers which are convertible from the nesting to the stacking re lationship, or vice versa, by relative rotation of one with respect to the other are known. All such boxes or containers are, insofar as we are aware, generally of the conventional type in the sense that the side walls slope from an upper peripheral n'm downwardly and inwardly, usually to a more or less flat bottom.
We have now discovered a unique design for a compartmented container whereby it can be nested in another container of like configuration in one superimposed position, and firmly stacked thereon when rotated through a predetermined angle to a second superimposed position relat v thereto. The container of this invention, by v-i-rtue of a skirt-like peripheral .wall, is adapted to bearat least part of the stacking load of the containers disposed thereabove around its outer periphery, in such a way as to lend stability to stacked columns thereof. Accordingly, such stacked columns are virtually immune to tipping or sidewise movement of the tiers of individual containers under the influence of jarring or other forces or even as a result of direct bumping or other physical contact.
It is thus a principal object of this invention to furnish a compartmented container capable of either nesting or stacking relationship.
It is another object of the invention to furnish such a container having superior load bearing capabilities and enhanced stacking stability by comparison with previous- -ly known nesting and stacking containers.
It is another object of the invention to provide a compartmented nesting and stacking container whose load carrying capacity and stability when stacked is determined by the geometry of the container rather than merely by the inherent strength and rigidity of the material from which it is constructed.
Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a plan view of a conipar-tmented container of preferred design in accordance with this invention;
3,ll,7h Patented June 29, IRES FIGURE 2 is a sectional view of the FIGURE 1 container taken along line 22 of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a sectional view of the FIGURE 1 container taken along line ?13 of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 4 is a sectional view of two containers of the type depicted in FIGURE 1 in nested relationship in upside down position;
FIGURE 5 is a sectional view of two containers of the type depicted in FIGURE 1 in nested relationship in rightside up position;
FIGURE 6 is a sectional view of two containers of the type depicted in FIGURE 1 in stacked relationship;
FIGURE 7 is a partial sectional view of the stacked containers of FIGURE 6 taken along line 7-7 of FIG- URE 6;
FIGURE 8 is a fragmentary exploded perspective view of two stacked containers of the type depicted in FIG- URE 1 showing the interfitting relationship of their correspondingly adjacent faces;
*FIGURE 9 is a plan View of a compartmented container in accordance with this invention having only partial symmetry of compartment distribution and showing, in phantom outline, the partial pattern of a like con-t ainer superimposed in stacking position thereon;
FIGURE 10 is a sectional view oftwo containers of the type depicted in FIGURE 9 in nested relationship taken along a line corresponding to line 11010 of FIG- URE 9;
FIGURE 11 is a sectional view of the stacked containers of FIGURE 9 taken along a line corresponding to line 10'1@ of FIGURE 9, and;
FIGURE 12 is a schematic representation of the top appearance of stacked containers such as those of FIG URE ll showing the overlap of the compartments in the superimposed container with that portion of the top wall between the compartments in the underneath container.
Referring now to the drawings it will be seen that the single compartmented container illustrated in FIGURES l, 2 and 3 is designated by the letter A; the nestably superimposed container of FIGURE 5 is designated by the letter B; the st-ackably superimposedcontainer of FIG- UR-ES 6, 7 and 8 is designated by the letter C; the single compartmented container of the configuration illustrated in FIGURE 9 is designated by the letter D; the nestably superimposed container of FIGURE 10 is designated by the letter E; and the stackably superimposed container of FIGURE 11 is designated by the letter F. Since all of the containers in FIGURES 1 through 8 are identical, like parts are identified throughout those figures by like reference numerals, hence in the ensuing description reference will be made to one of the containers A, B or C only wherever a cooperative relationship of two of the boxes is involved in the description. The same thing applies with respect to containers D and E in FIGURES 9 through 11.
The containers of this invention are preferably integrally formed of flexible sheet material such as polyethylene or a gum plastic such as rubber-base styrene. When made of material of this type a container is formed by stretching a fiat sheet of the material which has previously been heated to a formable temperature, the stretching of the material being guided by male and female dyes which restrict the shape assumed by the more significant portions of the ultimate structure, and the material is then allowed to cool after the forming process is completed. In accordance with the invention containers made by the above-described process require only a relatively small amount of the plastic material for their construction, and consequently have a relatively thin Wall structure which is of substantially uniform thickness throughout. While the invention is not necessarilyrestricted to the use of the type of material, or, the form-' ing process, described above, it should nevertheless be understood that such type of material and process are preferred for our purpose.
Referring now to FIGURES 1 through 8, it will be seen that the container there illustrated comprises a body integrally formed of flexible sheet material and including a top wall 19 adapted to be horizontally disposed which has four downwardly extending depressions 12, 14, 16 and 18, respectively, formed therein, providing four up.- wardly opening compartments, and a peripheral side wall 20 extending downwardly and outwardly away from the peripheral edge of bottom wall 10. Depressions, or compartments '12, 14, 16 and 18 have side walls 12a, 14a, 16a, and 18a, respectively, which taper inwardly to substantially fiat bottoms 12b, 14b, 16b, and 18b, respectively', whereby the bottoms of said compartments are of necessarily smaller areas than the corresponding openings thereof.
It will be observed that the directions of slope of peripheral side wall 20 and compartment walls 12a, 14a, 16a and 18a are in all instances, of appropriate direction to permit ready nesting of the containers in each other. Top wall is of generally rectangular shape but, as FIGURE 1 in particular shows, its peripheral edge is of a scalloped pattern, except around the corners. Since, as indicated, the containers of this invention, are nestable, peripheral side wall is of irregularly corrugated configuration roughly conforming, in cross-sectional pattern to that of the scalloped edge of top wall 10, at least for most of its span.
Turning again to FIGURES 1 through 8, and especially FIGURE 1, it will be noted that the corrugations in side Wall 20 are so geometrically arranged as to permit stacking of the containers when adjacently rotated 180, or
end-to-end, with respect to each other. Several design factors make such stacking possible. For one thing, as FIGURE 1 well illustrates, those corrugations bulging outwardly with respect to the outer periphery of top wall 10, such as those shown at 28 (all such outwardly bulging corrugations being so designated) are not symmetrically disposed with respect to a center line through the container intersecting their line of progression, but, instead, are otfset by one corrugation from such symmetry. The same thing is true of the inwardly dipping corrugations, such as those shown at on the drawings.
It will be apparent that we use the term corrugation to designate either an outwardly or inwardly curving segment, as indicated, of side wall 24] and not a portion encompassing both an outwardly and an inwardly curving segment thereof.
Outward corrugations 28 and inward ones 30 difier in two significant respects, other than in their directions of curvature, these being: (1) angle of slope, from top to bottom of side wall 20, of their ridge and channel lines respectively (the latter being steeper than the former), and (2) of the termination of each inward corrugation 30 at a ledge 22, a relatively short distance above the bottom of side wall 20.
To complete the description of the container of FIG- URES 1 through 8 before proceeding to a description of the manner in which stacking is accomplished, it will be observed that top wall lit) has three horizontal levels, only one of which, the bottoms of compartments 12, 14, 16 and 18 (12b, 14b, 16b and 18b, respectively), has so far. been mentioned. Thus, top wall 10 has an intermediate, level 10a immediately adjacent and surrounding compartments 12, 14, 16 and 18, and an external or peripheral higher level 10b with an inner boundary of rectangular shape with rounded corners and an outer boundary conforming to the scallop pattern of the top of side wall 20 and connecting corner curves. The foot of side wall 20 is integral with a horizontal, flange-like strip 32 terminating at its outer periphery in an upturned rim or edge 38. V The manner in which the present containers nest will be readily understandable from the above description and the accompanying drawings. It should be noted, however, that these containers achieve improved nesting stability over previously known containers by virtue of the additional support contributed by the reverse nesting effect of corrugated side wall 20 and also the stabilizing influence of the peripheral distribution of this support. Such, peripheral distribution is not possible with containers of types previously known since they have no part corresponding to side wall 24 and must depend solely upon the nesting support of the inwardly sloping container walls themselves. This unique advantage of our novel container is particularly illustrated by FIGURE 5. As FIG- URE 4 shows, the container can also be nested in upside down position, in which case side wall 20 again contributes greatly to the nesting functionality thereof.
The above-noted advantages of improved nesting functionality are achievable as a result of our unique design whereby the peripheral supporting wall (side wall 20) slopes divergingly away from the peripheral edge of bottom wall 10 in contradistinction to compartment wall 12a 14a, 16a and 18a which slope convergingly from their upper edges at level 10a of bottom wall 10 to compartment bottoms 12b, 14b, 16b and 18b, respectively.
For storing wet commodities it is preferred to provide drain holes in the compartment bottoms, and in the stacking position asillustrated in FIG. 6 the compartments of the lowermost container then drain readily into the space thereunder.
Considering now the stacking functionality of the container, design features of non-symmetry of the side wall 29 corrugations, disparity of slope between the corrugation ridges (28) and channels (30), and ledge terminations 22 near the foot of inwardly curving corrugations 30 have previously been described. It will be apparent from a consideration of FIGURES 1 through 8 that these features so characterize the upper and lower faces of our containers as to render them firmly interfitting when stacked in alternately end-to-end relationship, and thus secure against sidewise slippage of the tiers, or layers, of containers. For example, FIGURES 6, 7 and 8 show an overlap of ledges 22 with respect to the outwardly scalloped portions of the outer edge of the level 10b part of top wall 10. The outwardly scalloped portions of top wall 10 above referred to are shown at 24 on the drawings and will hereafter be designated simply as scallops 24. FIGURE 8 shows the manner inwhich ledges 22 bear on scallops 24 of the stacked containers to afford a plurality of support points around the periphery of said containers.
As will be fairly evident from FIGURE 1, the line of curvature along the foot of side wall 20 in the absence of ledges 22 would be sinusoidal, or approximately so, when viewed from d rectly above. However, this is not true of the line of curvature defining the crest of side wall 20 because of the differing slopes of outward and inward corrugations 28' and 30, respectively, therein. The devia-,
tion of the crestline from the sinusoidal, as will be clearly evident from FIGURE 7, is such as to permit snug fitting (but not binding) tolerance of ledge 22, the vertical center of that portion of side wall 20 below ledge 22 (shown at 34 on FIGURE 8) and the ridge line of outward corrugation 28. The interfitting relationship of these parts is illustrated at 26 on FIGURE 6.
By virtue of the unique design features of our compartmented container, there are afforded multiple and well distributed points of load bearing support around the periphery of the containers when stacked and, in addition, the stepped nature of inward corrugations 30 (due to the presence of ledges 22) permits the lower part of side wall 20 to extend for a short distance below the plane of contact of ledges 22' and scallops 24 and provide a plurality of lateral support of buttress points (at the upper ends of the ridge lines of those outward corrugations 28 situated directly under ledges 22 where they contact adjacent areas of side wall 20) to prevent misalignment of the containers when being stacked, or slippage thereof after they have been stacked.
Turning now to FIGURES 9 through 12, those drawings illustrate a compartmented container in accordance with this invention differing from container A of FIG- URE 1 in that it is nonsymmetrical about a transverse center line and the bottoms of the compartments extend below the ledges in the inward corrugations a distance equal to the difference in elevation between the upper two levels, 40 and 42, respectively, of the top wall of the container. The effect of these differences in design is to furnish contact between portions of the bottoms of the compartments of superimposed containers in stacks and adjacent portions of the top walls of underneath containers, such contact being illustrated at 36 on FIGURE 11, and thereby give internal, as well as peripheral, load support to .stackably disposed containers. FIGURE 12 indicates by the shaded portions the additional area of load support internally accruing from compartmented containers of the design of FIGURES 9 through 11 when they are in stacked relationship.
While we have herein described and illustrated the compartmented containers of our invention in considerable detail, it will be apparent that there are many modifications and variations of the containers specifically disclosed which fall within the ambit of the invention. All such modifications and variations are considered to be part and parcel of our invention so long as they are structurally compatible with the functions and purposes thereof and are encompassed by the claims subsequently appended hereto. Typical modifications of this category are changes of the peripheral shape of the container from gen erally rectangular to any other suitable shape such as circular, octagonal, etc.; changes of the necessary angle of rotation of adjacently layered containers to change their interfitting relationship from nesting to stacking, or vice verse; and changes in the number of compartments, any number of compartments, within practical limits, from one or up being within the operative scope of our invention.
Broadly speaking, the characterizing structural features of the containers of our invention are: a tray-like top wall adapted to be horizontally disposed with at least one downwardly extending depression having inwardly converging sides, so designed as to permit nesting of a depression in one container in a corresponding depression in a like container formed therein, said depression or depressions being suitable as a compartment or compartments, respectively; a skirt-like side wall depending from the peripheral edge of the top wall in the same direction as the aforesaid depression(s) extend and diverging outwardly away from said depressions; and built-in means to impart stacking functionality to the containers whereby rotation of a superimposed container through a predetermined angle, typically but not necessarily 180, relative to an 50 underneath container sets up proper alignment of the two containers for stackably interfitting relationship.
While we do not wish to unduly delimit the conceptual scope of our invention by overemph-asis of certain features at the expense of others perhaps equally important, we nevertheless believe that one of the factors greatly contributing to its patentability exists in the unique manner in which we have combined a tray-like top wall with nestable depression compartments (or, rarely, one such compartment), with a downwardly depending (from the top Wall) peripheral side wall permitting nesting of the container, but also having built-in stacking utility which is activated by rotation through a given angle from the position of nest. This side wall construction is just the opposite of the upwardly rising side walls found in conventional containers and it thus represents a striking departure from past container construction concepts and opens the door to the many advantages inherent in our novel compartmented container. As we have made clear above, the outward slope of the peripheral side wall of our con- 5 tainer is designed to cooperate ideally with the inwardly converging slopes of the walls of the container compartments to permit nesting of the containers when they are properly aligned, that is, when they are in nesting, rather than stacking, alignment.
While it has not been mentioned previously herein, it is believed obvious that the primary use of our compartmented containers is for the display or storage of materials amenable to such handling, such as small hardware items, particulate materials, etc, especially for commercial or industrial purposes. Equally obvious, it is felt, is the desirability of being able to stack the containers when they are partially or fully loaded, this being the principal reason for designing stacking, as well as nesting, utility into such containers.
The invention has been described in considerable detail in order to comply with the patent laws by providing a full public disclosure of at least one of its forms. However, such detailed description is not intended in any way to limit the broad features or principles of the invention, or the scope of patent monopoly to be granted.
1. An integrally formed, compartmented, stacking and nesting container comprising:
a top wall adapted to be horizontally disposed and having a plurality of horizontally separated, downwardly extending depressions formed therein which provide a corresponding plurality of upwardly opening compartments;
a continuous peripheral side wall which extends downwardly from the peripheral edge of said top wall, and at the same time outwardly away from said compartments;
said compartments having walls converging inwardly from their top openings toward their bot-toms so as to permit a nest relationship of two or more identical ones of said containers;
said side wall extending downward at least as far as the bottoms of said compartments and having vertical wall sections of which alternate ones are inwardly and outwardly depressed;
said inwardly depressed vertical sections terminating in horizontal shelves at about the elevation of the bottoms of said compartments whereby a plurality of said containers with all the compartments thereof full may be firmly stacked togeether with said shelves of an upper container engaging said top wall of an underneath container;
said side wall terminating in a continuous horizontal peripheral ledge disposed beneath the level of said shelves and which is adapted to engage a horizontal supporting surface to provide for the lowermost one of a stack of said containers a supporting base which is substantially coextensive with the maximum horizontal extent of each of said containers.
2. A container as claimed in claim 1 wherein the central portion of said top wall in which said compartments are formed is stepped downwardly relative to the peripheral portion of said top wall, said peripheral portion of said top wall being adapted to engage said shelves of a superimposed container.
3. A container as claimed in claim 1 wherein said shelves are below the bottoms of said compartments.
4. A container as claimed in claim 1 wherein said compartments are non-symmetrically arranged in such a manner that in the stacked position the bottoms of the compartments of the upper container rest upon portions of said top wall of the lower container, thereby providing support for the upper container at points located interiorly of said side wall.
5. An integrally formed, compartment-ed, stacking and nesting container comprising a body formed of sheet material and including a top wall adapted to be horizontally disposed and having a plurality :of horizontally separated, downwardly extending depressions formed therein, spaced inwardly from the outer periphery thereof and providing a corresponding plurality of upwardly opening compartments, each of said depressions having sides tapering inwardly in a downward direction from said top wall and being joined by a substantially fiat bottom portion such that said bottom portions are of smaller area than the corresponding openings of the compartments, a continuous peripheral side Wall extending downwardly from the peripheral edges of said top wall, said side wall diverging outwardly in a downward direction away from the peripheral edge of said top wall and away from said compartments, said side wall having a plurality of vertically extending inward and outward depressions formed therein, each of said inward depressions terminating near the lower extremity of said side wall in a substantially horizontal shelf, said inward and outward depressions being non-symmetrically arranged in such manner that a superimposed one of said containers may be rotated through a predetermined angle between stacking and nesting positions for engaging an underneath one of said containers, said shelves in the stacking position of said containers engaging the outwardly extending portions of the peripheral edges of the top wall of the underneath container above the upper ends of the outward depressions of the side wall thereof, said side wall being stepped further downwardly adjacent said shelve for inhibiting the side-Wise movement of the superimposed stacked container, said side wall additionally forming a horizontal supporting surface around the entire periphery of the lower extremity thereof whereby the lowermost one of a stack of said containers may be supported upon a horizontal surface to provide a supporting base which is sub.
stantially co-extensive with the maximum horizontal extent of each of said containers.
6. A container as claimed in claim 5 wherein the central portion of said top wall in which said compartments are formed is stepped downwardly relative to the peripheral portion of said top wall, said peripheral portion of said top ,wall being adapted to engage said shelves of a superimposed container.
7. A container as claimed in claim 5 wherein said shelves are below the bottoms of said compartments.
8. A container as claimed in claim 5 wherein said compartments are non-symmetrically arranged in such a manner that in the stacked position the bottoms of the compartments of the upper container rest upon portions of said top wall of the lower container, thereby providing support for the upper container at points located interiorly of said side wall.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,762,635 6/30 Lambert 22023.6 2,677,350 5/54 Prestidgc.
2,875,683 3/59 Burns,
2,878,128 3/59 Jorgenson.
2,889,072 6/59 Lapham 22097 3,013,692 12/62 Chesley 22097 THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner.