US 3443720 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
J- D. AL-ROY May 13, 1969 CONTAINER Filed Dec. 20, 1967 INVENTOR. JOHN D. AL-ROY w AGENT United States Patent 3,443,720 CONTAINER John D. Al-Roy, Bloomfield, Conn., assignor to Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Mo., a corporation of Delaware Filed Dec. 20, 1967, Ser. No. 692,035 Int. Cl. B65d 43/10 US. Cl. 220-60 3 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A container body having an opening, a lid for the opening, locking means for releasably securing the lid to the body, and lid removal means associated with the lid and body, including a cutout and a leverage member aligned with the cutout to permit lid separation by pressing against the leverage member through the cutout.
This invention relates to a container, and more particularly to an improved means for removal of a lid from a container body.
Plastic containers are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the storage and shipment of consumer products of all types. These containers generally have a body with a wide mouth opening sealed by a snap on friction fitting lid. To obtain a seal with such a lid which satisfactorily protects the container contents, it is necessary that the lid be extremely tight fitting, and when a hermetic gas tight seal is necessary, packages have recently appeared which utilize a chemical sealant either alone or in addition to the friction fitting parts. Initial separation of these lids from their complimentary container bodies is difficult in view of the inordinately tight fit between the pressed on lid and the body, this being necessary in the original package in order to minimize leakage through the seal. Lid removal often results in mutilation or distortion of the lid and sometimes of the body rim. This partial destruction 0r mutilation discourages reuse of the original lid to cover unused portions of the contents, either because the lid is unsightly or does not appear air tight. In such cases, the user then generally empties the contents into another household storage receptacle, and the manufacturer therefore loses the opportunity to keep his brand name before the user as it appears on the original package, and may even lose future sales because of the difficulty experienced by the purchaser in removing the lid.
Attempts have been made to facilitate initial disassociation of the lid from the container body by utilizing flexible pull tabs which project out from the border of the lid, and which are designed to be grasped by the fingers of the user and pulled upwardly. While these projecting tabs have been functionally successful in some cases to aid in lid removal, they have created additional problems. Lids of the type being discussed are generally pressed onto the container body in automated filling and packaging lines, and magazines holding such stacked lids must be redesigned to accommodate the projecting tabs. The projections frequently hang up in the filling line causing equipment downtime and increased production costs. The overall streamlined and pleasing exterior of the package is interrupted by the unsymmetrical lid projection, which may be unattractive to the purchaser and result in loss of sales. The projecting tab tends to catch on other containers and items stored either on the shelves of the retailer or of the consumer, which can result in an accidental springing away of the lid from the container body so as to prematurely open the container, if force is applied to the projecting tab in the right place. Storage space utilization is diminished to the extend of the length of the tab projection. If the container is made of plastic, and the contents require refrigeration, the plastic may become 3,443,720 Patented May 13, 1969 brittle at the low temperatures, and the fragile projecting tab may be accidentally snapped off during handling prior to initial opening. This latter problem is especially significant with thin wall thermoplastic lid materials.
This dilemma of difficulties which has only been compromised in the past is efiectively solved by the present invention.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide sealed containers adapted to be easily opened.
It is an additional object of this invention to provide improved means for initiating removal of a lid sealed or locked to a complementary container body.
It is a further object of this invention to provide means for initiating container lid removal without interrupting the matching contour of the lid and the container body with which it is to be associated.
It is a still further object of this invention to provide an improved easily assembled and disassembled snap on lid and container body combination.
A still further object of this invention is to provide a container which overcomes the prior art difficulties discussed above.
It is an additional object of this invention to provide a thermoplastic lid and body which in addition to the aforementioned objects may be economically manufactured by conventional thermoforming techniques at a relatively low cost.
Other objects of this invention will in part be obvious and will in part appear hereinafter.
These and other objects are accomplished by providing a container comprising a body having an opening, a lid for the opening, locking means associated with the lid and body for releasably securing the lid to the body, and lid removal means associated with the body and the lid, including a cutout for insertion of a finger and a leverage member alignable with the cutout, whereby the lid may be disassociated from the body by pressure exerted against the leverage member through the cutout.
In describing the overall invention, reference will be made to preferred embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawing in which:
FIG. I is a perspective view of a container of the present invention;
FIG. II is a plan view of the container of FIG. I; and
FIG. III is a partial, sectional, perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the invention.
Referring now to the drawing wherein identical numerals refer to identical parts, and more specifically to FIG. I there is shown container 10, comprising one piece, plastic body 12 in the form of a shallow, elongated, oblong tub. Body 12 has a flat base 14, a plurality of sides 16 extending upwardly from the periphery of base 14, forming mouth open upper end extending to sides 16. Peripheral projection or flange 18 is provided in the upper end of body 12, and extends outwardly with respect to sides 16, and in the form depicted in the drawings, extends outwardly from the top of sides 16. Resilient, plastic, one piece, snap-on lid 20 is provided for the opening of body 12 and comprises recessed bottom or end wall 22, which may serve as a printing or labeling surface, and does serve to cover the open upper end of complementary container body 12. Lid 12 further has periphery continuous sidewall 24 upwardly from bottom wall 22. Locking means associated with the body and lid are provided for releasably securing lid 20 to body 12, and comprise an outwardly extending peripheral rounded bead 26 formed in sidewall 24 of lid 20 for cooperation with a complementary peripheral lid seat or grove (not shown) in the upper end of body 12, to hold lid 20 tightly in place across the open mouth of body 12 of container 10, as depicted generally in FIG. II, and to establish a sealed relationship between the lid and body to protect the contents from entry of air, foreign particles and the like. Lid 20 further has lip 28 laterally outwardly offset from the top of lid sidewall 26.
As an important aspect of the present invention, lid removal means 30 associated with body 12 and lid 20 are provided, which include cutout 32 in projection 18 of body 12 for insertion of a finger from below, and finger engaging or leverage member or tab portion 34 in lid 20 which \is aligned with cutout 32 when the lid is in place on the body, and extends outwardly beyond the open upper end of the body. Lid 20 may be removed from body 12 by pressure exerted upwardly against the lower surface of leverage member 34 through cutout 32. Described another way, projection 18 of body 12 has a border portion which extends inwardly toward the sides 16 for a limited peripheral extent sufficient to define a finger cutout. Lid 20 cooperatively has a leverage member 34 which covers the cutout, yet does not extend beyond the outer peripheral extent of projection 18 of body 12 when lid 20 is in place on body 12, as generally shown in FIG. II.
As indicated, disassociation of lid 20 from body 12 is initiated merely by pressing upwardly with a finger of one hand against the lower surface of member 34, with access thereto provided by cutout 32 in flange 18, while holding the container body in the other hand or against a supporting surface. When this is done, tab member 34 affords substantial leverage such that the contour of the resilient lid is temporarily changed relative to the container body, thereby causing disengagement of the bead from the groove of the locking means in the peripheral area where the lid removal means are located. After lid 20 has initially separated from the body 12 by means of lid removal means 30, and if it is not entirely separated from the body in so doing, it may thereafter be progressively further separated from the remainder of body 12 by further pressing or pulling upwardly on tab 34, so that the remainder of head 26 is resiliently pulled out of the groove in the body in which it is seated, thereby fully releasing lid 20 from body 12.
Since the manner of removing lid 20 from body 12 may not be readily obvious to a user of the container, attention may be drawn to the location and manner of using lid removal means 30 by suitable directions either printed or applied by means of a label to the container surface, preferably on a portion of the upper face of bottom wall 22 of lid 20.
In FIG. III is shown an alternate embodiment of the lid removal means 30 of the invention, wherein the leverage member 34 is a peripheral portion of the lid lip 28 which does not extend outwardly beyond the remainder of the lid periphery, yet overlies a cutout portion 32 in body flange 18 similarly to that shown in FIGS. I and II.
The above description and particularly the drawings are set forth for purposes of illustration only and are not to be taken in a limited sense.
The containers of the present invention may be of any geometrical configuration as long as lid removal means associated with the cointainer body and lid are present, which comprise a leverage member on either the body or lid alignable with a cutout in the other mating part, to permit prying one away from the other with a finger inserted through the cutout. Otherwse the container may be round, triangular, square, hexagonal, oval etc. and may have any number of sides. Four sided shapes, e.g. rectangular or oblong are preferred for maximum utilization of storage space.
The container size may also vary within wide limits, i.e. the container may be designed to contain anywhere from less than four fluid ounces up to containers designed for bulk shipment. In general, however, the present invention is unusually suited for containers having a capacity ranging from four fluid ounces to five gallons or 640 fluid ounces, and more particularly from four fluid ounces to one gallon or 128 fluid ounces. In the larger sizes for example in excess of /2 gallon, it may be desirable to provide a plurality of aligned leverage member and cutout portions.
As above indicated, lid removal means broadly refers to any one or more alignable cutout portions and covering members in either the body or lid of a container. Though it is desirable that the lid removal means be located within the outer periphery of the container when the lid is in place on the body, in order to preserve the overall contour of the container, and to eliminate bothersome projections, it is obvious that the cooperating leverage member and cutout may extend outwardly beyond the remainder of the periphery, or be located anywhere in the upper end of the container. Though the lid removal means may be situated anywhere in the container peri-phery, it is preferred that it be situated in or adjacent to a corner with non-circular container shapes, since it has been found that this is the area in which the consumer tends to prefer to initiate lid removal.
The type of locking means associated with the body and lid for releasably securing the lid to the body may vary. For example, friction fitting engaging surfaces may be employed which are located anywhere in the lid or upper end of the body, including the lid lip and body projection. Likewise the locking means may be a pressure sensitive or heat activated sealant to render the package air tight. Obviously any of these various locking means may be used alone or in combination. Instead of the preferred bead and groove locking means combination in a plug type lid snapped into the upper end of the container body, a fiushly sealing lid may be employed wherein the top of the body rim seats against the inside of the lid and snap on engagement occurs between mating parts outside the body rim. Obviously the bead and groove mating parts are interchangeable, i.e. either can be in either the lid or body with the other then formed in the opposite part. Because of the added difficulty in removing a hermetically sealed, snap on lid, the present invention is uniquely adaptable to use with such containers. Plug type lids similarly are preferred since lids of this type tend to snap completely away from the container body on application of upward pressure only in the corner or other limited area.
The projection which extends outwardly with respect to the sides in the upper portion of the container body is herein meant to include rolled rims, thickened upper ends of variable axial extent, as well as flat flanges etc. Preferably the outer edge of the leverage member when located on the lid is equal to or less than the outermost edge of the projection or flange which extends around the remainder of the body periphery. This avoids interruption of the container contour and protects the leverage surface to the extent that any undesirable springing open of the lid during handling is avoided, which might otherwise occur. The leverage surface preferably extends out for a distance of between to 1 inch beyond the open upper end of the container body when the lid is in place on the body. Effective finger access to extensions less than inch is diflicult, while projections in excess of 1 inch have limited effectiveness for lid removal when resilient thermoplastics are used, because of the hinge effect created at the joint with the remainder of the part.
The material from which the container body and lid are formed may be any material of sufficient strength to be fabricated relatively thinly for economy purposes, and sufficiently flexible to permit the parts to be fitted together. Typical materials are paper, cardboard, plastics, etc. including any combination of two or more of such materials. Any common method of manufacture may be employed which is most suitable to the particular mate rial being processed. It is preferred, in the present invention that the container be made of thermoplastic, which has the additional advantage of being tough and competitive with other materials on a cost basis, yet unbreakable under ordinary use conditions. The preferred forming method is from web stock by any of the well known sheet thermoforming processes such as, for example, pressure differential forming, using vacuum or positive pressure, and with or without a plug assist. The resulting components when formed in this manner are unitary in construction, have no seams and are of the thin wall variety having a wall thickness between about 2 to 80 mils, which is substantially uniform throughout the entire extent of the formed parts.
Useable thermoplastics are polymers based on styrene, vinyl halide, vinyl acetate, cellulose acetate or butyrate, ethyl cellulose, acrylic acid esters, metacrylic acid esters, acrylonitrile, isobutylene, fluoro-olefins and chlorofluoroolefins, polyolefins such as polyethylene or isotactic polypropylene, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, polycarbonates, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalates, as well as copolymers, interpolymers, graft polymers, and chlorinated and chlorosulfonated polymers of the monomers corresponding to the above mentioned polymeric products, and mixtures of the same. Styrene based thermoplastics are the preferred materials for manufact-uring the container parts of the present invention, such as, for example, rubber modified polystyrene or polystyrene having a rubber compound grafted or mechanically blended therein, e.g. acrylonitrile, butadiene, styrene copolymers. With rubber modified styrene polymers, close tolerances may be maintained and parts may be molded in more accurate detail than with softer materials, because shrinkage of the plastic away from conforming projections in the mold after forming is relatively insignificant. In addition, even when thin, these materials are tough and resilient, even at low temperatures. This latter point is important in considering the plastic material for the container, since it must be kept in mind that the contents at times may be refrigerated below about 0 F. for extended periods. Other plastics are more brittle and susceptible to fracture under these conditions.
The present invention has wide application in the container industry. Sealed containers can now be provided with eflicient means to initiate removal of the lid from the container body, and furthermore this invention provides the means for obtaining extremely eflicient use of storage space without disturbing the overall attractive and pleasing appearance of the container.
What is claimed is:
1. A container comprising:
(A) a one piece, elongated, thin-walled, thermoplastic body having a thickness between about 280 mils, said body having:
(a) a base;
(b) a pair of longitudinally extending side walls and a pair of laterally extending end walls, each pair of side walls and end walls extending upwardly and outwardly from the periphery of the base to form an open upper end, each side wall being joined to an end wall along its upwardly extending edge to define corners of said body;
(c) a flat flange extending horizontally outwardly from the upper extremities of said side walls and end walls around the periphery of said body, the lateral outward extent of said flange being equal around the periphery of said body, said flange having a discontinuity therein in the region of one of the corners of said body, the maximum peripheral extent of said discontinuity being approximately equal to that required for passage of a finger therethrough;
(d) a laterally outwardly offset groove in said side walls and end walls extending around the periphery of the body below and adjacent the open upper end of said body; and
(B) a one piece, thin-walled, resilient thermoplastic lid having a thickness of between about 2-80 mils for closing the open end of the body, said lid having:
(a) a bottom wall;
(b) a pair of side walls and a pair of end walls extending upwardly from the periphery of the bottom wall;
(c) a flat, peripheral flange extending horizontally outwardly from the upper extremities of the side walls and end walls of the lid, the lateral outward extent of said flange on the lid being the same around the full periphery of the lid;
(d) a laterally outwardly oflset bead extending around the periphery of said lid adjacent the junction of the side walls and end walls with the bottom wall of the lid, adapted to resiliently snap into the groove in the body to seal the open end of the body with said bottom wall of the lid situated below the upper end of said body when said lid is in place thereon;
whereby said head may be snapped substantially completely out of said groove around the full periphery of the container solely by application of upward pressure against a portion of the flange of the lid by means of a finger applied against said flange portion of the lid through said discontinuity in the flange of the body in the region of one of the corners of said body.
2. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity in the flange of the body is in the portion of the flange extending outwardly from one of the longitudinally extending side walls immediately adjacent a corner of said container body.
3. The container of claim 1 wherein the lid is made of a relatively stiff rubber modified styrene plastic.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,780,385 2/1957 Tupper 150-.5 3,286,875 11/1966 Frankenberg 220 3,335,901 8/1967 Edwards 220-60 JAMES B. MARBERT, Primary Examiner.