US 3233812 A
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Feb. 8, 1966 T. B. KENNEDY v MOLDED PULP CONTAINER Filed April 7, 1964 2. Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR Thomas B. Kennedy Feb. 8, 1966 T. B. KENNEDY MOLDED PULP CONTAINER Filed April 7, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 7 m ...."....|.w ..t."I| m mlml|l All In w PIC-3.7.
INVENTOR Thomas B. Kennedy ATTORNEY V of the other container.
United StatesPatent Ofifice 3,233,812 Patented Feb. 8, 1966 3,233,812 MOLDED PULP CONTAINER Thomas B. Kennedy, Stamford, Conn, assignor to Diamond International Corporation, a corporation of Delaware Filed Apr. 7, 1964, Ser. No. 357,952 Claims. (Cl. 2292.5)
The present invention relates to molded pulp containers, and more particularly, it relates to molded pulp containers which are suitable for packaging fruit.
Until the present time a problem has existed in the provision of container for soft fruits. If a simple pulp molded container tray having low side walls is utilized to hold such fruits, which type tray is the most desirable from an economic standpoint, the soft fruits have a tendency to extend outwardly over the sides and rim of the pulp molded tray. This results in contact and bumping of the soft fruit in adjacent trays with the result that such fruit often becomes bruised. Where considered economically feasible, such a disadvantage has been overcome either by attaching separate bumpers to the outside walls of the fruit containers, or by molding the container with high side walls, but these provisions greatly increase the cost of the container and are therefore not entirely satisfactory.
Fruit containers and fruit baskets of the prior art, while generally quite satisfactory, have also suffered from not having as proper a relationship as is desired between rigidity, on the one hand, for protection, and flexibility, on the other hand, to tightly secure the fruit within the container. Therefore, if the container were provided in the form of a rigid structure, such as a box or a basket, and the fruit packed therein, the fruit was free to rattle since the dimensions of the container are constant and that of different pieces of fruit are variable. If, on the 1 other hand, the container were flexible, such as a paper space, it is necessary that they be nested, one within the other, which practice is conventional.
When one container is nested within another, the side walls of the one container tend to frictionally engage with the side walls Unless some form of denesting is provided for, it is very difficult to separate one container from the other without damaging the containers.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to overcome the difiiculties of the prior art, such as indicated molded pulp containers containing denesting ledges.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a molded pulp container having corner portions which provide rigidity and strength to the end portions of the container so that such container will maintain its overall dimensions, for protection from outside forces, but which permit the middle portions of the container to flex under wrap to conform to the specific size of the contents of the container.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a container which is effective to protect fruit yet is very inexpensive to produce.
Other objects and the nature and advantages of the instant invention will be apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of an empty pulp molded container in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the container shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of an enlarged scale taken along line 33 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view of a stack of trays taken along line 44 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a partial sectional view of a stack of trays taken along line 55 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 6 is a plan view of two adjacent trays filled with fruit; and
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6.
A shallow tray or container 10 in accordance with the present invention is formed of molded pulp into a generally rectangular shape and comprises a generally rectangular bottom wall 12 and four relatively low side walls 14 extending upwardly and outwardly from the four edges of the bottom wall 12. The tray 10 is also provided at each corner with a corner portion or bumper 16 which extends outwardly beyond the side walls 14 and is preferably semi-circular in shape; such corner portions 16 project upwardly and outwardly from each corner of the bottom wall 12 to extend a greater distance outwardly than do the side walls 14.
The four side walls 14 each extend upwardly, in a slightly outwardly inclined direction, from the bottom wall 12, which is preferably flat and straight. As can be seen in FIG. 4, it is desirable that such side walls 14 extend only slightly outwardly from the edge of the bottom wall 12. The junction between each side wall 14 and the bottom wall 12 is preferably rounded at 18, as is conventional.
Each corner portion or bumper 16 extends upwardly and outwardly from the corner of the bottom wall 12 to provide a wall portion 20 which extends outwardly a greater distance than do the side walls 14, noting FIGS. 4 and 5. Each corner wall 20 preferablydefines a semicone, wherein horizontal sections taken through the wall from top to bottom define semi-circles of decreasing radius. However, any outwardly projecting and rigiditying shape would be suitable for such a sloping corner wall 20. Each corner wall 20 terminates at its upper end in a semi-circular denesting ledge 22 which extends horizontally outwardly. At the outer extent of each denesting ledge 22 the corner portions 16 each comprise another wall 24 which extends upwardly and essentially vertically from the outward extent of the denesting ledge 22.
The top of the vertical wall 24 of each of the corner portions 16 along with the top of each side wall 14 provides an edge which defines the open top of the container 10. As shown in the drawings the open edge may comprise a horizontal rim 26 which provides the tray not only with a neat and decorative appearance but also provides additional strength.
The corner portions 16 of the tray are provided by using in the pulp mold a larger radius than would be suitable to provide the normal corner or by moving the corner radius outwardly on a 45 angle from its center until the desired degree of overhang is obtained. For ex- 3 ample, if the normal radius used on a tray the size shown in FIG. 1 were 0.919 inch, then the corner portions 16 could be obtained by moving the center point of the corner radius out on a 45 angle by 0.187 inch. This would produce a dimension of of an inch between the outer extent of a corner portion 16, such as defined by the wall 24, and the outer extent of the side wall 14; between contacting trays, such as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, there would then be provided a gap of of an inch between the side walls 14 of the adjacent trays 10 and 10.
As can be seen from FIGS. 6 and 7, a major feature of the present invention is the utilization of such corner portions 16 as bumpers. Here trays 1i and 10' are shown containing delicate fruit 28 which is easily bruised. As can be seen, the fruit 28 of such a dimension that it extends over the low side walls 14 of the trays .10 and 10'. When trays containing such fruit 28 are placed adjacent one another, the bumpers 16 contact and prevent the trays from coming closer together so that the fruit 28 therein cannot be bumped against the fruit in the adjacent trays. While the provision of higher side walls i.e. deeper trays, might obtain the same solution to the problem, such trays would be more expensive due to the greater amount of pulp required to form the tray.
As seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, the fruit and tray may be covered or wrapped with a transparent plastic film, which may be heat shrinkable and heat sealable, to keep the fruit 28 within the tray 10. Due to the configuration of the corner portions 16 of the tray, which corner portions have walls 20, 22 and 24 which quickly change direction from one another, such corner portions provide a great deal of strength and rigidity to the opposite ends of the tray. The wall portions 14, on the other hand, due to their essentially flat nature, are relatively flexible. Thus, when the fruit 28 and the tray 10' is tightly overwrapped with a transparent plastic film 30 the walls 14 will flex inwardly between the fruit 28 such as shown at 32 to accurately correspond to the shape of the fruit within the tray 10' in a manner analogous to the manner in which a flexible paper or plastic wrap can be placed on an article and made to correspond to the general dimensions of that article.
In this manner the tray 10' maintains its general overall shape and rigidity due to the corner portions 16 and is thus able to generally protect the fruit 28 contained therewithin from outside influences, yet at the same time, due to the flexibility of the side walls 14, the sides of the tray 10 are able to flex under the pressure exerted by the overwrap 30 to correspond to the general dimensions of the particular fruit 28 contained therewithin and maintain the fruit pieces in one tray from moving with respect to each other. Deeper trays would not have side walls of equal flexibility and absence of corner portions 16 would cause the flexibility of the corners to approach that of the side walls.
As best seen in FIG. where a plurality of trays lit in accordance with the present invention are nested within each other, the denesting ledge 22 of the corner portions 16 of the uppermost tray rests on the terminal edge of rim 26 (at the corner portions 16) of the container 10 immediately thereunder. This maintains each tray 10 in the nesting arrangement slightly spaced from the tray immediately above and below it as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. This prevents the nesting trays from becoming frictionally engaged and obviates any difficult separation.
It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention and therefore the invention is not intended to be limited to what is shown in the drawings and described in the specification, but only as set forth in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A molded pulp container comprising a substantially rectangular bottom wall, a side wall extending upwardly and slightly outwardly from each edge of said bottom wall, corner bum-per means including a corner portion between each pair of adjacent side walls, said corner portions extending upwardly and outwardly from each corner of said bottom wall, said corner portion outward extension being greater than said side wall outward extension, a planar denesting ledge extending outwardly only along the upward extent of each said corner portion, said ledge not extending along said side walls, and an essentially vertical wall extending upwardly from the outward extent of each said denesting ledge joining with said side walls.
2. A container in accordance with claim 1 wherein each said corner portion is semi-conical and each said essentially vertical wall extending upwardly from each said denesting ledge is serni-circular.
3. In a molded pulp container having a generally rectangular configuration with upwardly and outwardly extending side walls, the improvement wherein said side walls are relatively flexible and are without rigidifying means, said container further comprising outwardly extending corner portions, each said corner portion comprising bumper means to prevent the side walls of adjacent containers from contacting, a denesting ledge only within each said corner portion, and rigidifying means at each corner to prevent substantial flexing of the end portions of said container.
4. A substantially rectangular, integral container comprising a substantially rectangular bottom wall; a flexible side wall extending continuously in an upwardly and slightly outwardly inclined direction from each edge of said bottom wall; corner bumper means including a rigid corner portion extending in an upwardly and outwardly inclined semi-circular direction from each corner of said bottom wall, then outwardly of said inclined direction essentially parallel to said bottom wall to form a semicircular denesting ledge, then upwardly to form a wall portion which together with said side walls and the other corner wall portions terminates in an edge defining the open top of said container, said corner portions extending laterally outwardly from said bottom wall a greater amount than said side walls.
5. A package comprising a molded pulp container having a substantially rectangular bottom wall, a flexible side wall extending upwardly and slightly outwardly from each edge of said bottom wall, a corner portion between each pair of adjacent side walls, said corner portions extending upwardly and outwardly from each corner of said bottom wall, said corner portion outward extension being greater than said side wall outward extension, a planar denesting ledge extending outwardly only along the upward extent of each said corner portion, said ledge not extending along said side walls, an essentially vertical wall extending upwardly from the outward extent of each said denesting ledge joining with said side walls; soft, easily damaged goods within said pulp container extending above and over the top of said side walls; and a transparent plastic film wrap enclosing said goods and said pulp container between said corner portions and effecting suflicient pressure on said side walls of said pulp container to flex said side walls inwardly to grip said goods.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 189,092 4/1877 Fitch 229-2.5 2,767,099 10/1956 Sloan 206-46 2,814,427 11/ 1957 Emery 229-25 FOREIGN PATENTS 612,732 11/1948 Great Britain.
GEORGE O. RALSTON, Primary Examiner.
JOSEPH R. LECLAIR, Examiner.