US 3490576 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jan. 20, 1970 A. J= ALESSE ET AL AIR EVACUATED PACKAGE 2 Sheets-Sheet '1 Filed June 12, 1967 INVENTORSv ANDREW J. ALESSI 8: DOUGLAS P. ROOME fheir ATTORNEYS Jan. 20, 1970 A J. ALESSI ET A AIR EVACUATED PACKAGE 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed June 12, 1967 INVENTORS. ANDREW J. ALESSI 8 BY DOUGLAS P. ROOME \EMM 4M z'04 14144 #heir ATTORNEYS United States Patent US. Cl. 206-4511 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An air evacuated package comprising a semi-rigid tray having a pair of spaced-apart product-receiving pockets or recesses and a cover sheet overlying the tray and heatsealed to the tray. The tray includes a pair of spacedapart slits located between the pockets and defining a strip which can be lifted to raise the overlying portion of the cover sheet to afford communication with the pockets through the slits. The heat seals include main seal segments which completely surround the respective pockets except for portions generally co-extensive with the slits and secondary segments merging with the main segments and co-extensive with the slits; the main heat seal segments are formed after the package is loaded but before it is evacuated, while the secondary seals are formed after evacuation, which is accomplished by raising the defiectable strip to afford communication of a vacuum source with the pockets.
This invention relates to packaging and, more particularly, to a novel and improved evacuated package particularly suited for baconand to a method of making the package.
Many food products have, for a relatively long period of time, been vacuum packaged for retail sale in packages made from flexible plastic films. Because bacon is such a limp product and requires a rigid enforcement of some kind, it has been customary to package bacon in rigid cardboard containers or folders which are not air tight. Attempts to devise ways to vacuum package bacon have usually resulted in complications in the handling of the bacon and the rigid boards or trays inserted within the package and/or in unsightly packages.
The present invention provides a novel and attractive vacuum package suitable for bacon and other limp products and requires no special handling of bacon on rigid package inserts. More specifically, the package comprises a semi-rigid tray having a pair of spaced-apart product receiving pockets and a cover sheet overlying the tray and heat sealed to it around the peripheries of the pockets. A pair of spaced-apart slits is formed in a flange of the tray intermediate the pockets, the slits defining a defiectable strip which, during the forming of the package, is lifted in the direction of the cover sheet to create a pair of air evacuating passages, each communicating with the interior of one of the pockets.
In accordance with the method of the invention, the product is deposited in the pockets of the tray, the cover sheet is laid over the tray and preliminarily heat sealed to it around the periphery of the pockets except in the regions immediately adjacent the slits, the air is evacuated from the package with the defiectable strip in lifted condition to define the air evacuation passages, and after evacuation of the air, final heat seals are formed adjacent the slits to completely seal the evacuated pockets. If desired, an inert gas can be introduced into the package through the air evacuation passages before the final seals are made.
The package and the method of making it, in accordance with the invention, provide a number of significant advantages. For one thing, the semi-rigid tray gives an attractive appearance to the package inasmuch as the pockets substantially retain their initial shape rather than being deformed by atmospheric pressure into conformity with the product. Further, the pockets better retain the product, after the package is opened, for storage and further use. The rigid material of the tray protects the product better and is unlikely to be torn, deformed or otherwise damaged under usual conditions.
In the method of the invention, the defiectable strip, which is a portion of the tray, is rigid and has considerable strength and thus resists tearing, permanent deformation or other harmful consequences of the operation of evacuating the interiors of the pockets. The evacuating means never comes into contact with the cover sheet and thus cannot possibly damage the cover sheet in any way. Further, the defiectable strip serves as a semi-rigid holding device to better ensure holding the package open during evacuation.
In the preferred embodiment, the package is folded to place the respective product-receiving pouches in back to back relation, and the two sections joined to hold the package in folded position. The cover sheet is, preferably, transparent and the contents of the package can therefore be viewed from either side through the cover sheet. It is therefore unnecessary for the package to be displayed in a particular position, thus saving time and effort in setting up a retail display.
For a better understanding of the invention, reference may be made to the following description of an exemplary embodiment, taken in conjunction with the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the top of a partially completed package;
FIG. 2 is a view of the bottom of the package at the same stage of the packaging method as shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a view of the top of a nearly completed package, except that it has not been folded; and
FIG. 4 is a pictorial view of a folded package.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the package includes a generally rectangular tray 10 which is made of a semirigid plastic and is formed to provide a pair of substantially identical, generally rectangular depressions or pockets 12. A high density semi-rigid polyethylene, such as extruded sheet material having a thickness of 13 mils made of Du Pont resin No. 7511, has been found particularly well-suited for use in the package. The pockets are formed by conventional heat-stamping or vacuum forming techniques and, in the particular embodiment, which is a bacon package, slope relatively gradually from the outside, longer edges 12a to a relatively flat base and then curve upwardly rather sharply at the inner edges 12c. The bacon strips 14 are deposited in the pockets in the usual overlapping relation. The above-described shape of the pockets 12 has been found to be the best shape for efficiently accommodating the overlapping bacon strips.
Formed generally centrally in a flange between the two pockets 12 in the tray is a pair of spaced-apart slits 16 which define an elongated defiectable strip 18. The slits 16 and strip 18 constitute an important feature of the package of the invention, and their function will be described in greater detail hereinafter. The center of the package is divided into substantially identical side-by-side parts by a longitudinally extending line of perforations 20. These perforations enable the two package parts, each of which includes one of the pockets 12, to be separated from each other for separate use, if desired.
In the method of packaging the bacon, the bacon is deposited in the pockets 12 of the tray 10, and a cover sheet or web of transparent plastic film 22 is laid over the top of the tray and is preliminarily heat sealed about the perimeters of the pockets 12 except in the portions lying generally between the slits 16 and the pockets 12. More particularly, the initial heat seals 24 extend from a point 26 adjacent one end of each of the slits 16 and extend around the perimeter of each of the pockets 12 and terminate at a point 28 adjacent the opposite end of each of the slits 16. With the deflectable strip 18 in raised condition to define air evacuation passages which communicate with the pockets 12, the air is evacuated from the package, and then, as shown in FIG. 3, final heat seals 29 are formed between the points 26 and 28 to close the gaps between the ends of the initial seals 24 and seal off the evacuation passages. The final seals 29 overlap, to an extent, with the ends of the initial seals 24. As illustrated, the final seals 29 extend longitudinally with respect to the pockets 12, on the inside of the slits 16 and isolate the pockets from the slits. After air evacuation but before final sealing, an inert gas can, if desired, be introduced into the pockets through the passages formed between the strip 18 when it is raised above the tray surface.
Referring to FIG. 4 the evacuated and sealed package is then folded over to bring the bottom 12b of the pockets 12 in ,back-to-back relation in Wallet-like fashion and a strip of tape 32, a wraparound hinder or other suitable means is applied to hold the package in folded condition. The tray flanges may include, as an alternative or supplement to tape or a binder, formations, such as a tab and slot, adapted to hold the package folded over. It will be noted that the transparent film 22 forms the exterior of the package and that the bacon or other contents of the package can be viewed from either side. The package might also be folded over by the user to bring the cover sheet in face-to-faee relation for storage, the relatively rigid tray providing a protective shell around the product; to this end, the package flanges may be formed with a cooperative tab and slot arrangement to hold the package folded.
The term air-evacuated package as used in the claims is intended to include not only a package from which substantially all air has been removed but also a package from which the air is removed and then replaced or partially replaced with an inert gas.
The above-described embodiment of the invention is merely exemplary, and those skilled in the art will be able to make many variations and modifications of its without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. All such variations and modifications are intended to be within the scope of the invention.
1. An air evacuated package comprising a semi-rigid tray having a pair of spaced-part product-receiving pockets therein, a cover sheet overlying the tray, a pair of substantially parallel spaced-apart slits in the portion of the tray between the pockets defining therebetween a lift strip which when raised also raises the cover sheet to provide evacuation passages for both pockets, a first heat s l connecting the cover sheet to the tray and extending continuously at least around the outer periphery of both pockets, said first heat seal leaving open the evacuation passages defined by the raised lift strip, and a second heat seal connecting the coversheet to the tray and extending longitudinally between the pockets and adjacent the slits to seal said evacuation passages. I I
2. An air evacuated package as set forth in claim 1 in which the cover sheet is transparent and including a fold line extending continuously between the pockets and across the lift strip to permit the package to be foldedwith the bottoms of the pockets in back-to-back relationship, and means to maintain the package in the folded condition.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,585,846 5/1926 Frisbie 206-62 2,908,383 10/1959 Vogt 206-65 3,121,492 2/ 1964 De Paul et al. 206-65 X 3,145,112 8/1964 Boegershausen 99-171 MARTHA L. RICE, Primary Examiner.
US. Cl. X.R.