US 3366231 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
. Jan. 30, 1968 E P.- TRAKAS INFLATABLE PACKAGING E buIPMENT Filed Dec. 25, 1965 INVENTOR, Emo'nuel P. Trakus Witness W1 i 61AM ATTORNEY United States Patent M 3,366,231 INFLATABLE PACKAGTNG EQUIPMENT Emanuel P. Trakas, Jamaica, N.Y., assignor to The Singer Company, New York, N.Y., a corporation of New Jersey Filed Dec. 23, 1965, Ser. No. 515,974 3 Claims. (Cl. 206-65) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A hollow inflatable packaging unit having faces which when the unit is inflated are formed with outwardly facing pockets to receive the articles to be packaged, which pockets include walls that segregate the articles and serve as cushions for them. A plurality of units may be stacked one upon the other completely to enclose the articles to prevent damage to the articles due to shocks or bumps occurring during transportation.
This invention relates to packaging equipment and in particular to inflatable packaging units adapted to support and cushion articles of cargo placed therein.
An object of this invention is to provide improved packaging of articles of cargo for shipment thereof.
It is another object of this invention to provide preformed inflatable packaging pallets adapted to be placed one upon the other to form a stack that may be transported as a unit.
With the above and additional objects and advantages in view as will hereinafter appear, this invention comprises the devices, combinations, and arrangements of parts hereinafter described and illustrated in the accompanying drawings of a preferred embodiment in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention,
FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a portion of three of the stacked inflated pallets shown in FIG. 1,
FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a portion of the stack shown in FIG. 1, and
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a portion of another embodiment of the present invention.
Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 discloses a stack of five inflated packaging pallets 12 positioned one on top of the other with the entire stack supported by a wooden pallet 14. The stack of packaging pallets 12 are secured to the wooden pallet 14 by a pair of straps 16 preferably having some degree of inherent extensibility or elasticity.
FIG. 2 discloses that each packaging pallet 12 comprises an envelope having two outer similarly'shaped fluid-impervious sheets 18 formed from any suitable material having the propertiesnecessary to permit the inflation of the pallet into the desired shape and to retain the shape while the pallet remains inflated. Between the outer sheets 18 there is interposed a fluid-impervious center sheet 20 which serves to divide the pallet 12 into two fluid tight compartments 22. Around the perimeter of each outer sheet 18, marginal portions 24 sandwich the marginal portion 26 of the center sheet 20. The marginal portions 24 and 26 may be secured together by any suitable means, such as vulcanizing, which bonds the three layers together and provides the requiring fluid tight joint. At one point in each outer sheet 18 there is formed an aperture 28 into which is fitted a valve assembly 30. The valve assembly 30 allows an operator to inflate each pallet 12 with a fluid, preferably air, from any conventional fluid compressor (not shown). The valve assembly 30 or any other suitable arrangement may be utilized when it is desired to deflate the pallets 12.
3,355,231 Patented Jan. 30, 1968 The fluid-impervious sheet 20 may be formed from an elastic material or a relatively rigid material. In the latter instance the rigidity would help prevent the pallet 12 from stretching beyond predetermined limits and help it to retain the desired shape. On the other hand a relatively elastic center sheet 20 would permit a more compact bundle when the packaging pallets are deflated and folded for storage or return. The choice would depend upon a number of factors such as the properties of material used to form the outer sheets 18, the thickness of the sheets, and the articles of cargo to be supported by the pallets 12.
When a pallet 12 is inflated each outer sheet 18 is formed into a specific predetermined shape as the requirements of the articles of cargo carried thereby demand. Thus, in the embodiments disclosed in the drawings, the pallets are shaped to accommodate portable sewing machines 32. As shown in FIGS. l-3 each outer sheet 18 of the inflated pallets 12 includes a face formed with a dozen rectangular pockets or cavities 34 shaped to receive the sewing machines 32. The pockets are formed by peripheral end walls 36, transverse ribs 38 and 40 and bottom panels 42. As indicated above, the shape of the pockets may be varied to accommodate articles of cargo having sizes and shapes diflerent from that of the sewing machines illustrated in the drawings. In addition, the overall size and shape of the pallets 12 may be varied so that the shape and size of the resultant stack 10 of pallets may best utilize the storage space in the vehicles used to transport the cargo.
To package the articles of cargo, such as the sewing machines 32 in the presently illustrated case, and ready the packages for shipment, the first step is to inflate the required number of pallets 12 to a predetermined pressure. Next, one of the pallets 12 is placed on the wooden pallet 14 and one of the sewing machines 32 placed in each pocket 34, whereupon a second pallet 12 is placed on top of the loaded botton pallet 12 such that the downwardly facing pockets of the second pallet are aligned with and complemental to the upwardly facing pockets of the loaded pallet. The upwardly facing pockets 34 of the first pallet 12 and the complementary downwardly facing pockets 34 of the second pallet combine to form an all enclosing container for the sewing machines 32. The steps are then repeated until the stack is completed with the top pallet acting as a cover for the top layer of sewing machines. The final step merely requires strapping the pallets 12 together and to the wooden pallet 14 with the straps 16, as illustrated in FIG. 1.
It is preferred that the pressure to which the pallets 12 are inflated should be such that the panels 42 will burgeon outwardly and conform to the contours of the sewing machines 32, as shown in the first embodiment by FIG. 2 and in the second embodiment by FIG. 4. Thus enveloped, the sewing machines 32 are cushioned against contact with each other and against the structure of the transporting vehicle. In addition, the sewing machines 32 are prevented from shifting relatively to the pallets 12 because the ribs 38 and 40 and the end walls 36 retain the machines in place within the pockets 34. Packaged in this manner the sewing machines 32 are provided with maximum protection against the severest shocks normally encountered during transportation by any standard cargo carrier.
The elasticity of the straps 16 provides a safety feature in the event of a puncture in one or more of the sheets 18. If one of the sheets 18 was punctured, permitting the air in the compartment 22 to escape, the height of the stack 10 would be lowered and if relatively inelastic straps were utilized, they would be loosened, rendering the straps ineffective. However, where, as in the presently disclosed invention, resilient straps are utilized the elasticity of the straps will take up the slack caused by the decrease in stack height and continue to hold the pallets in place. Therefore, when the straps 16 are tightened around the stack the straps must be stretched beyond their normal length so that they may function as stated.
In a second embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 4, inflated packaging pallets 44 are stacked in the same manner as described in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. The pallets 44, however, utilize only one fluid tight compartment 46 and are each formed with one fluid-impervious sheet 48 having properties similar to the sheet 18. The pockets for holding the sewing machines 32 are formed by bottom panels 50 and semicylindrical transverse rubber ribs 52 and S4. The rubber ribs (which may be formed with any other suitable material) may be secured to the sheet 48 by vulcanizing or any other suitable method. The pallets 44 may be inflated as in the first embodiment by utilizing the valve assemblies 30.
The pallets 44 are loaded and stacked in the same way as the pallets 12 in the first embodiment. The sheets 48 press inwardly upon the sewing machines as in the first embodiment and in cooperation with the ribs 52 and 54 serve to hold the sewing machines securely in place. The sewing machines 32, again, are cushioned against contact with each other and against the structural members of the transporting vehicle.
With the present invention, articles of cargo may be easily and quickly packaged for shipment without requiring, besides the pallets and straps, any equipment other than a conventional source of compressed fluid at the place of packaging and without requiring any special skills on the part of the packaging crew. The packaging and unpackaging may be accomplished easily and speedily. After the articles of cargo are unpackaged at the place of destination it is a simple matter to deflate the inflated pallets, fold them into a compact bundle, requiring very little valuable storage space, and send them back to the place of shipment where they may again be utilized for packaging.
Having thus set forth the nature of this invention, what I claim herein is:
1. A stack of hollow inflated packaging units each unit comprising an envelope formed from flexible fluid-irnpervious material, means for inflating and deflating the envelope, said envelope including a first face, at least one pocket formed in said first face and adapted to receive an article of cargo, said pocket being formed with an open end and a bottom panel from which extends at least one article separating wall, a plurality of said units being positioned one contiguous with the other with said faces in substantial parallelism, means for preventing movement of each unit relatively to the other whereby after said envelopes have been inflated articles of cargo may be placed in said pockets thereby separating the articles from each other and from surfaces exterior to the stack, the inflated envelopes providing a protective cushion against any bumps or shocks that might occur during transportation which could damage the articles of cargo, a rigid base to support the units, said means for preventing movement of each unit relatively to the other including elastic straps adapted to be wrapped around the rigid base and the stack of packaging units, each of said units including a fluid-impervious sheet adapted to bisect said envelope into two fluid tight compartments and said means for inflating and deflating said envelope including a valve assembly for each of the air tight compartments.
2. A hollow inflatable packaging unit comprising an envelope formed from flexible fluid-impervious material, means for inflating and deflating the envelope, said envelope having a first face formed with a plurality of pockets adapted to receive articles of cargo, each of said pockets being formed with an open end and a bot tom panel from which extends at least one article separting wall, whereby the inflation of said envelope provides a packaging unit that serves to cushion and protect articles of cargo carried thereby, said envelope including a second face substantially parallel with but spaced from said first face, said first face and said second face each having a plurality of pockets formed thereon, each of said pockets being formed with an open end and a bottom panel from which extend article separating walls, said packaging unit including a fluid-impervious sheet adapted to bisect said envelope into two fluid tight compartments and said means for inflating and deflating said envelope includes a valve assembly for each of the compartments.
3. A hollow inflatable packaging unit comprising an envelope formed from flexible fluid-impervious material, means for inflating and deflating the envelope, said envelope having a first face formed with a plurality of pockets adapted to receive articles of cargo, each of said pockets being formed with an open end and a bottom panel from which extends at least one article separting wall, whereby the inflation of said envelope provides a packaging unit that serves to cushion and protect articles of cargo carried thereby, said article separating wall comprising a rib formed with a resilient material and secured to said face of said envelope.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,022,557 11/1935 Caggiano. 2,449,591 9/ 1948 Couse. 2,572,584 10/ 1951 Audino 206 3,038,593 6/1962 Root et al.
FOREIGN PATENTS 1,114,002 12/ 1955 France.
23,965 1897 Great Britain.
MARTHA L. RICE, Primary Examiner.