US 3288340 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nov. 29, 1966 s. SHAPIRO ETAL NESTABLE CONTAINER F iled May 25, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet l FIGZ FIGI
lNVE/VTORS: SAMUEL SHAPIRO JAMES C. WHITE 1966 s. SHAPIRO ETAL 3,288,340
NESTABLE CONTAINER Filed May 25, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. IO
INVENTORS: SAMUEL SHAPYRO JAMES C.WHITE T IWMM 1965 s. sHAPlRo ETAL NESTABLE CONTAINER 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed May 25, 1964 FIG. l3
no a aw l .i ll ul t ..I' i:
FiGIT ww m 0 MR M Wm S L E U M A 8 JAMES C.WH|TE A TTORNEXS United States Patent 3,283,344) NESTABLE CONTAINER Samnel Shapiro, Swampscott, and James C. White, Lynniiehl, Mass, assignors to Sweetheart Plastics, Inc, Wilmington. Mass, a corporation of Maryland Filed May 25, I964, Ser. No. 369,792 It} Ciaims. (Cl. 2291.5)
This invention relates to plastic containers and more particularly comprises a new and improved stacking device incorporated into the container walls to improve the nesting characteristics of the containers.
The market for disposable containers made of plastic has experienced enormous growth in recent years, and today disposable plastic containers are used for serving hot and cold foods and beverages of all varieties both in automatic vending machines and in restaurants of all types. As economy and convenience are important factors in the use of plastic disposable containers, it is essential that shipping costs of such containers be minimized, and breakage during shipping be eliminated. Economy and convenience also require that a large number of containers be capable of being stored in a relatively small volume so as not to claim excessive space from the manufacturer before shipment, the carrier while in shipment and the consumer while awaiting use. All of these considerations have led to the development of the present invention.
To conserve space in storage, the plastic containers are designed to nest close to one another. When they are packed close to one another, a stack of cups subjected to an impact load is compressed, and many of the containers in the column bind so tightly upon adjacent containers that they cannot be separated except with great effort, and they are often discarded or used in pairs by vendors, which is obviously costly. When containers designed for use in vending machines are so compressed and lock upon one another, they cannot be automatically dispensed one at a time in the machine and, therefore, not only create waste by being discharged in pairs but often jam the machine as well. In vending machines and in many automatic packaging machines which use disposable plastic containers, the lowermost containers in a nested stack are dispensed by gravity one at a time to a location where they are filled with the food or beverage, and in order for the machines to operate properly the containers must not stick together.
One important object of this invention is to provide a nesting facility in the wall of a container which increases the resiliency of the container Wall in an axial direction so as to give to the container wall a shock absorbing characteristic not otherwise present in such containers.
Another important object of this invention is to provide a nesting facility in the wall of .a container which promotes a low nest of the articles.
Still another important object of this invention is to provide a stacking ring in the wall of a disposable plastic container which provides both a firm seat for containers when nested together and, in addition, has greater axial resilience than other portions of the side wall of the container.
To accomplish these and other objects the container of this invention includes a bottom Wall and an upwardly flared side wall terminating in a top rim. A stacking ring is incorporated into the side wall of the container which ring has a side band, a lower inwardly extending shoulder and an upper outwardly extending seat. Incorporated into the stacking ring as a part thereof is means which adds resilience to the stacking ring in an axial direction so that when the container is subjected to axially directed impact loads, the container is capable of absorbing those loads without being mutilated.
3,2833% Patented Nov. 29, 1965 These and other objects and features of this invention, along with its incident advantages, will be better understood and appreciated from the following detailed description of several embodiments thereof, selected for purposes of illustration and shown in the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view of a disposable plastic container in the form of a thin-walled cup constructed in accordance with this invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the container shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a pair of containers identical to that of FIGS. 1 and 2 shown in a normal nesting position;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 but showing the nesting relationship of the containers under an impact load;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of the side wall of the cup shown in FIGS. 1 to 4;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of another embodiment of this invention;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along the section line 77 of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a pair of containers identical to that of FIGS. 6 and 7 shown in a normal nesting position;
FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 8 but showing the nesting relationship of the containers under an impact load;
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of another embodiment of this invention;
FIG. 11 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a pair of containers indentical to that of FIG. 10 shown in a normal nesting relationship;
FIG. 12 is a view similar to FIG. 11 but showing the nesting relationship of the containers under an impact load;
FIG. 13 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of yet another embodiment of this invention;
FIG. 14 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a pair of containers identical to that of FIG. 13 shown in their normal nesting position;
FIG. 15 is a View similar to FIG. 14 but showing the containers under an impact load;
FIG. 16 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of yet another embodiment of this invention; and
FIG. 17 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a pair of nested containers constructed in accordance with the prior art.
The cup 20 shown in FIGS. 1 to 5 includes a side wall 22 and a bottom wall 24 joined together at the lower edge 26. The cup shown is made of plastic material such as polystyrene and has a wall thickness of approximately .010 inch. The cup may be vacuum or pressure formed, and should be extremely inexpensive because of the material used and the high speed equipment on which it is formed. The bottom wall 24 is shown to have a generally conical configuration, which prevents the bottom wall from sagging when the cup is filled.
The lower portion 28 of the side wall 22 of the cup flares upwardly at an angle of approximately 5 and is provided with a continuous series of closely spaced vertical flutes 3% which primarily serve a decorative purpose. Immediately above the top of the fluted portion of the side walls is a stacking ring 32, and above the stacking ring the upper Wall portion 34 of the side wall flares outwardly at approximately 5 to the roller rim 36.
The stacking ring 32 includes a side band 38, a lower shoulder 4-0 and a top wall 42. The side band 38 tapers upwardly and inwardly in an axial direction, and its axial height exceeds the axial height of the rolled rim 36. As will be more evident below, the axial height 3 of the band 38 should exceed the axial height of the rim 36 by .005 inch or more to allow for the resilience of the stacking ring 32. In the form shown the band 38 tapers inwardly at approximately 9 from the axis.
The shoulder 40 is connected to the band 38 at the corner 44, and the top wall 42 is connected to the top of the band 38 at the corner 46. The corner 46 forms a seat for the shoulder of an identical cup nested within it. This is evident in FIGS. 3 and 4. In order for the corner 46 or inner edge of the top wall 42 to define a seat for the shoulder 40, the maximum diameter of the shoulder 49 measured at the corner 44 must exceed the minimum diameter of the top wall 42 measured at the corner 46. Further, in order to insure that the shoulder 40 seats on the corner 46 and not on the top portion 34 of the side wall of the container, it is essential that the maximum diameter of the shoulder 40 be less than the inner diameter of the top portion of the cup measured in the plane of the corner 46. Moreover, to insure that the shoulder 48 and not the lower portion 28 of the side wall rests on the corner 46 when identical cups are nested, the inner or minimum diameter of the shoulder 40 must be less than the minimum diameter of the top wall 42 measured at the corner 46.
As is particularly evident in FIG. 5, the top Wall 42 flares downwardly and outwardly from the corner 46 to the bottom of the upper portion 34 of the side wall of the container. The flare of the top Wall 42 defines an angle of approximately 30 with the axis of the cup. The lower section 48 of the top portion 34 of the side wall is shown to be generally cylindrical in shape and to extend upwardly a distance somewhat less than the axial height of the top wall 42. It is only essential that the top portion 34 of the side wall fiare outwardly to avoid interference with the corner 44, and the flare of the upper portion of the wall could begin at the corner 50 which defines the outer edge of the top wall 42 and achieve the same purpose.
The top wall 42 and the upper portion of the band 38 together form a flexible section in the side wall of the container which is resilient enough to flex, as suggested in FIG. 4, under an axially applied load. When the cup is nested under normal load with other identical cups, the cups assume the poition shown in FIG. 3, wherein the corner 46 of the lower cup engages the shoulder 40 of the next upper cup between the corner 44 of that shoulder and the inner edge 52 where the shoulder meets the lower portion 28 of the side wall. Thus, in FIG. 3, where the parts of the upper cup are identified by prime numbers, the corner 46 of the lower cup bears against the shoulder 40 between the corners 44' and 52'. So stacked, the lowermost cup in a column will fall freely from the other cups when the next upper cup is supported and the bottom cup is released.
Under an impact load such as is experienced by stacks of cups when dropped in their cartons ofl the tail gate of a truck, the top wall 42 and band 38 flex as shown in FIG. 4 and absorb a substantial portion of the load. In FIG. 4 the wall 42 and band 38 are shown to be bowed inwardly, and the corner 46 contacts the shoulder 40 immediately adjacent the corner 52'.
The ability of the band 38 and top wall 42 to flex and dissipate the impact loads applied to the cups prevents one cup from locking within another, as often occurs with prior art cups as suggested in FIG. 17. It will be noted in that figure that the shoulder 60 of the upper of the two cups 62 has slipped beneath the seat defined by the top wall 64 of the lower cup 66, and it is obviously impossible for the lower of the two cups to drop from the other cup merely under the force of gravity. Rather, to separate the two cups it is necessary to peel one from the other by grasping their rims in separate bands. Such cups could jam or otherwise disrupt the operation of a vending machine and would either be discarded or be used together in an establishment which sold food or beverage in them. In accordance with the present invention the flexibility of the side wall of the container is increased in an axial direction by means of the configuration of the stacking ring, and that flexibility dissipates a substantial portion of any impact load to which the stack of cups may be subjected. Further, the interference of the corner 46 with the shoulder of the next upper cup in a stack serves as a positive stop to prevent jamming of the cups in the manner shown in FIG. 17 experience by the prior art.
The embodiment of this invention shown in FIGS. 6 to 9 is similar to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 5. In FIG. 6 the cup is shown to include a side wall 22a having a stacking ring 32a between its lower portion 28a and its upper portion 34a. The stacking ring 32a includes a side band 38a, which may be of the same inclination as the side wall 38 in the previous embodiment, and a shoulder 40a identical to the shoulder 40 of that embodiment. The upper wall 42a of this embodiment, unlike the previous embodiment, is composed of alternate upper and lower sections 43a and 45a, with the upper section 43a conforming to the upper wall 42 of the previous embodiment. Thus, the sections 43a of the upper wall 42a form with the side band 38a a plurality of spaced upwardly and inwardly extending fingers, the upper ends 46a of which form a platform for supporting the shoulder 40a of a like cup nested within it. The lower sections 45a of the top wall 42a is oriented substantially in a horizontal plane.
Because the fingers composed of the sections 43a and the band 38a are relatively narrow. they provide a more flexible support than the support formed by the top wall 42 of the stacking ring 32 of the first embodiment described. Consequently, under impact loads, the fingers will flex to a greater extent than that suggested in FIG. 4, and the lower sections 45a of the top wall will define permanent stops or supports for a cup stacked on the fingers. This is suggested in FIGS. 8 and 9 wherein two nested cups are shown under normal stacking conditions and under impact loads. While the relative positions of the two cups shown in FIG. 8 is identical to that shown in FIG. 3, in FIG. 9 the cups are shown closer together than in FIG. 4.
The cup 70 shown in FIGS. 10 to 12 has a side wall 72 which is interrupted inter-mediate its top rim 74 and its bottom by a stacking ring 76. The stacking ring 76 includes a side band 78, a lower shoulder 80 and a top wall 82. The shoulder 80 of one cup is adapted to sit upon the top wall 82 of the next lower cup in a stack composed of identical cups. In order to insure that the bottom shoulder 80 sits on the top wall 82 of the next lower cup, the maximum diameter of the shoulder must exceed the minimum diameter of the top wall, the minimum diameter of the shoulder must be less than the minimum diameter of the top wall, and the maximum diameter of the shoulder must be less than the inner diameter of the upper portion 84 of the side wall in the plane of contact between the shoulder and the seat.
Flexibility is introduced into the side band 78 of the stacking ring by the bend 86 intermediate the top and bottom edges 88 and 90 of the band. The bend 86 in the band allows the stacking ring to flex relatively easily under compressive loads applied in an axial direction. This is suggested in FIGS. 11 and 12. In FIG. 11 it will be noted that the shoulder 80' of the upper of the two cups rests upon the inner edge or corner 88 of the top wall 82 of the lower cup, and this is the position assumed by the cups under normal loads. It will be noted in FIG. 11 that the side bands 78 and 78' are not in any way distorted from the normal position shown in FIG. 10. However, when an impact load is applied to the stack of cups such as is experienced when a stack of cups is dropped, the bands 78 and 78 bow outwardly at the bends 86 and 86', and this distortion absorbs the shock. The contact between the shoulders and the seats provides a positive stop and nesting seat for the containers, and the additional flexibility introduced into the side wall of each cup by the bends in the side bands of the stacking rings serve as shock absorbers to dissipate a major portion of the load.
As in the previous embodiments, this increased flexibility prevents the interlocking of the two cups in the manner illustrated in FIG. 17.
The cup shown in FIGS. 13 to 15 is similar to that shown in FIGS. to 12. However, in this embodiment, the bend in the side band 100 of the stacking ring. 102 in the side wall 104 of the cup 106 takes the form of a bead 108 which is outwardly convex. The outwardly convex bead 108, when subjected to axial compressive loads, will buckle as suggested in FIG. and serve as a shock absorber. As is shown in FIG. 14, When a plurality of the cups are stacked one upon another, the lower. shoulder 110' of the upper cup rests upon the top wall 112 of the next lower cup. Under impact loading the beads 108 and 108' collapse somewhat as shown in FIG. 15. The transient impact loads are dissipated by this collapsing action and no interlocking of the stacking rings and damage to the cups occurs.
The embodiment of this invention shown in FIG. 16 is very similar to that shown in FIGS. 13 to 15. However, in this embodiment the bead is triangular rather than arcuate in cross section. Note in FIG. 16 that the bead 120 is composed of upper and lower substantially flat sections 122 and 124 that merge at corner 126 intermediate the shoulder shown at 128 and the top wall 130 of the stacking ring 132 of the cup. The bead 120 will act in the same manner as the bead 108 of the previous embodiment to dissipate the impressed load. The lower shoulder 128 of one cup will rest upon the upper wall 130 of the next lower cup in a stack, and the head will momentarily collapse somewhat under the influence of an impact load.
It was suggested above that the effective axial height of the side band of the stacking ring should be at least .005 inch greater than the axial length of the rims of the containers. This difference in the axial height determines the maximum deflection which can take place at the stacking ring before interference between adjacent cups occurs at the rolled rim. Preferably the additional height is between .010 to .020 inch so as to allow the flexible portion of the stacking rings to fully dissipate the impact loads.
In each of the several embodiments of this invention a spring-like action is introduced into the side wall of the containers to dissipate loads momentarily impressed upon a stack of such containers. Means employed in each embodiment allows the side wall to momentarily distort and dissipate the impressed load and avoid interlocking of the stacking rings of the containers as occurs in the prior art as suggested in FIG. 17. Substantial advantage is derived by introducing resiliency into the side wall at a location as close as possible to the point where the load is actually applied to the container. In each of the several embodiments of the invention, the flexibility is introduced at the stacking ring where each container is in contact with another adjacent container. Therefore, there is no substantial wall section between the point where a load is impressed upon a container and the point of maximum flexibility so that there is no inertia which need be overcome before the yieldability of the side wall comes into play to dissipate impact loads.
Having described this invention in detail, those skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous modifications may be made of it without departing from its spirit. Therefore, it is not intended that the breadth of thi invention be limited to the embodiments illustrated and described. Rather, it is intended that the breadth of this invention be determined by the appended claims and their equivalents.
What is claimed is:
1. A nestable one piece plastic cup comprising,
a bottom wall and an upwardly flared side wall terminating in a top rim,
a stacking ring provided in the side wall of the cup below the top rim and having a generally inwardly 6 and upwardly tapered side band, a lower inwardly extending shoulder and an upper substantially horizontal outwardly extending seat, said lower shoulder having a maximum diameter larger than the minimum diameter of the seat whereby when the cup is nested within an identical cup the shoulder of said cup sits on the seat of the identical cup beneath it, and a bead in the side band intermediate its top and bottom edges extending outwardly from the side band for introducing resilience into the side band for absorbing impact when the cup is subjected to an axially compressive load.
2. A nestable one piece plastic container as defined in claim 1 further characterized by said bead being arcuate in cross section and being inwardly concave.
3. A nestable one piece plastic container as defined in claim 1 further characterized by said bead having upper and lower sides frusto-conical in shape converging outwardly and joined together at their outer edges.
4. A nestable one piece plastic cup comprising,
a bottom wall and an upwardly flared side wall terminating in a top rim,
a stacking ring provided in the side wall of the cup below the top rim and having a generally inwardly and upwardly tapered side band, a lower inwardly extending shoulder and an upper outwardly extending seat, said lower shoulder having a maximum diameter larger than the minimum diameter of the seat whereby when the cup is nested within an identical cup the shoulder of said cup sits on the seat of the identical cup beneath it,
and a bend in the side band of the stacking ring for reducing its axial stiffness.
5. A disposable plastic container comprising,
a bottom and a side wall,
a stacking ring provided in the side wall and having a side band, a substantially horizontal shoulder extending inwardly from the bottom of the band and a downwardly and outwardly flared seat extending outwardly from the top of the band,
and a substantially cylindrical collar extending upwardly from the bottom of the seat and defining an angle of approximately 30 with the seat of the ring.
6. A disposable plastic container comprising,
a bottom and a side wall,
a stacking ring in the side wall having a side band tapered upwardly and inwardly toward the container axis and having a lower external shoulder extending inwardly from the bottom of the side band and having a top wall extending downwardly and outwardly from the top of the side band and forming an acute downwardly facing angle therewith, axis and having a lower external shoulder extending from the bottom of the side band and having a top wall extending downwardly and outwardly from the top ofthe side band and forming an acute downwardly facing angle therewith,
said top wall and side band being relatively flexible and bending inwardly and downwardly under loads applied in a downwardly direction on it.
7. A disposable plastic container comprising,
a bottom wall and an upwardly flared side wall having a rim at the top,
a stacking ring in the side wall having a side band, a lower inwardly extending shoulder connected to the bottom of the band and a top outwardly and downwardly extending wall connected to the top of the band, the maximum diameter of the shoulder exceeding the minimum diameter of the top wall whereby when the container is nested with another identical container, the shoulder of the upper of the containers sits on the inner upper edge of the top wall,
and means forming part of the top wall enabling the wall to flex in a downwardly direction when a load is applied to it.
8. A disposable plastic container as defined in claim 7 further characterized by,
the diameter of the top wall at its inner edge being appreciably greater than the minimum diameter of the shoulder whereby inward flexing of the top wall is not limited by the side of the container immediately beneath the shoulder.
9. A disposable plastic container comprising,
a bottom and an upwardly and outwardly flared side wall,
and a stacking ring provided in the side wall and having an upwardly and inwardly tapered side band and a top wall having spaced downwardly and outwardly flared sections separated by substantially horizontal sections whereby the flared sections of the top wall cooperate with the band to provide upwardly and inwardly extending flexible fingers on the inside of the cup. 10. A disposable plastic container as defined in claim 9 further characterized by,
5 said horizontal sections of the top wall lying in a plane intermediate the top and "bottom of the band and providing a firm seat for the bottom of the band of an identical container nested above said container when the fingers are deflected.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1964 Edwards 22097 4/1965 Edwards 220-97