US 3539071 A
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United States Patent  inventor Rodney E. Ludder Glen Head, New York  Appl No. 766,087  Filed Oct. 9, 1968  Patented Nov.l0,1970  Assignee By mesne assignments to Owens Delinois, lnc., Toledo, Ohio, a corporation of Ohio.
 PACKAGING STRUCTURE 5 Claims, 18 Drawing Figs.
 U.S. Cl. 220/23.4, 206/56, 206/65, 220/23.6, 220/97  Int. Cl. B65d 21/02, B65d 73/00  Field of Search 206/65K, 65Misc, 56A, 56A3, 1.7, 1.8; 220/23.4, 23.6, 97C; 229/ l .Scup
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,058,807 10/1936 Lockwood 220/23.6
2,441,616 5/1948 Burke 220/23.4X 2,462,956 3/1949 Gross 220/23.4 2,591,578 4/1952 McNealy et al.... 229/1.5BUX 3,021,001 2/1962 Donofrio ....206/56(A3)UX 3,122,296 2/1964 Fotos 220/97(C)UX 3,142,133 7/1964 Brooks 229/l.5(B)UX 3,195,770 7/1965 Roberts0n..... 220/23.6 3,288,340 11/1966 Shapiro et a1.. 220/97(C)UX 3,327,895 6/1967 Mueller 220/97(C)UX Primary Examiner-George E. Lowrance Attorney-Dressler, Goldsmith, Clement & Gordon ABSTRACT: A container and system for packaging the same in which respective carriers are provided, each capable of releasably retaining a plurality of nested containers secured thereto, and which containers extend from the carrier a distance sufficient to be engageable with a like nestable container supported in a respective carrier therebeneath. Each of the carriers is adapted to be supported and spaced in parallel relationship to each other as the containers are telescopically nested with respect to each other.
Patented Nov. 10, 1970 Sheet 1 of S skrv w w v va;
. Vania/f Patented Nov. 10, 1970 v 3,539,71
PACKAGING STRUCTURE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Heretofore, in the art of packaging comestibles in single portion containers, the practice isthat the nestable container is first manufactured, and at the end of the manufacturing process, the container is placed in a nested stack of like containers, which nested stack is either packed individually or in a carton containing a number of individual stacks. These cartons are then shipped to a packaging plant, where the comestible is placed within the container-and a closure is placed on each respective container. Special packaging equipment, well known in the art, is utilized in the various plants for dispensing a predetermined quantity of the comestible within the container. In operation, this equipment functions in a manner such that each individual container is denested from the stack of nested containers, as by generally the bottom cup being removed from the nested stack, and the individual container is then progressively moved through the packaging equipment through various stages where it is generally filled and a closure is secured thereto.
After the individual container has its closure applied thereto, depending on its size, it is then often placed or stacked on other like packaged containers until a given number is accumulated. The containers are then placed into a closure or carton, which'is then perhaps placed in an outer carton for shipment to the end user.
The difficultyencountered with the present process of packaging is based, in part, on the fact that mechanical equip ment, as efficient as it may be, has a tendency to malfunction as the amount or operations in a given period of time is increased. With presently available equipment, it is necessary that each individual container, prior to its being packaged, be denested and in a sense individually handled and processed through the equipment. Accordingly the equipment becomes complex, and more importantly, the number of times that it must operate to obtain the end result is materially increased.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION To, obviate and overcome the difficulties of the above present practice, the present invention embodies a new concept in packaging nestable containers'such that individual containers may be positioned and retained in a carrier tray from the source of manufacture of the individual containers, to the shipment of the containers to the packager, and thereafter to the end user. In accordance with the invention, the actual carrier-container assemblies are placed in cartons and shipped to the respective dairies, etc., which fill the individual containers while they remain in the carrier trays, and the carrier trays are then repackaged in cartons or the like for shipment to the end user.
In accordance with the invention, a stack of carriers or trays of like size and configuration is provided, each said carrier being adapted to retain a plurality of containers in interlocking fashion therewith, such that the containers themselves will not possibly pop out from it when denesting the carrier, and the entire tray is denested and moved through a filling machine. By providing the positive locking relationship proper handling of the tray or carrier is assured. The trays are placed in spaced relationship to each other with complimentary receptacles of each tray nesting within like containers.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shipping carton filled with trays of containers formed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a front perspective view similar to FIG. 1, with the stack of trays having been removed from the carton, and with LII FIG. is an enlarged cross sectional view, illustrating the interlocking relationship between the carrier tray and the container of FIG. 4;
FIG. 5A is a sectional view similar to FIG. 5, but illustrating a modified container construction;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view, similar to FIG. 4, and illustrating another container embodiment;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view similar to FIG. s, and illustrating the container embodiment of FIG. 6 interlocked with a carrier tray;
.FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view, with still another embodiment of the container being shown in perspective, and also illustrating a fragment of the carrier tray that cooperates with the container;
FIG. 9 is a sectional view, similar to FIGS. S and 7, and illustrating the interlocking relationship between the container and tray of FIG. 8; p
FIG. 10 is an exploded perspective view illustrating in perspective, a portion of a Ibrther embodiment of the container,
. and a fragment of the tray structure that cooperates therewith;
and I3, and illustrating a still tbrther embodiment of the invention; 1
FIG. 15 is a fragmentary top plan view illustrating a still further embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a modified tray structure that can be used in connection with a container such as illus- I trated in FIG. 4; and
FIG. 17 is a flow diagram schematically illustrating the steps by which the packaging system of the present invention is performed.
DESCRIPTION OF TI-IE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail only preferred embodiments of the invention, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the embodiments illustrated. The scope of the invention will be pointed out in the appended claims.
Referring now to the drawings, the first embodiment of the container of the present invention is indicated generally at 20 in FIG. 4, and container 20 is a one-piece structure that may be formed of a suitable plastic material, such as polystyrene, by an injection molding technique. Container 20 includes a generally square bottom wall 2i having a slightly upraised, centrally located circular mid portion 22. A sidewall 23 extends upwardly from bottom wall 21 at the periphery thereof, and as can be best seen in FIG. 3, sidewall 23 is inclined slightly outwardly at a uniform angle. Sidewall 23 defines therewithin a tetrahedrically shaped space for containing a single portion of a comestible, such as cream.
An outwardly extending portion 2a is provided intermediately of sidewall 23 adjacent the upper end thereof, and intermediate portion 24 provides a peripherally continuous generally downwardly facing abutment, as will hereafter appear. The upper portion 25 of sidewall 23 above intermediate portion 24 is reversely bent (FIG. 5) to provide a downwardly extending flange or leg 26 that terminates in a coplanar lower edge 27. The junction 28 between sidewall portions 25 and 26 is curved, and defines a support surface that is engaged by the outwardly extending portion 24 of a superjacent container, when the containers are nested together, as will hereinafter appear.
The container includes means for releasably interlocking it with a carrier tray, and to this end, enlargements 29 extend outwardly from the intermediate portion of the sidewall 23 at opposite sides thereof. Enlargements 29 are positioned below the lower edge 27 of sidewall portion 26 to define therebetween a groove for capturing an edge of the carrier tray. The lower portion of the sidewall 23 between bottom wall 21 and intermediate portion 24 preferably includes a plurality of spaced, longitudinally extending corrugations 30, which reinforce and strengthen the sidewall, and which also facilitate handling of the container by the end user.
A plurality of containers 20 are releasably interlocked with a carrier tray 32, as can be best seen in FIG. 3. The carrier tray- 32 is a thin, flat semirigid member, which may be formed from a suitable plastic material. The carrier tray 32 includes a plu-.
rality of holding means arranged in a predetermined pattern, so that when containers 20 are interlocked with the tray, and the trays are stacked upon one another, the containers will be positioned in internested relationship with respect to one another. Herein, the holding means are defined by a plurality of openings 33, and as is evident from FIGS. 2 and 3, the openings 33 are positioned in transversely and longitudinally aligned rows. In'the specific tray illustrated in FIG. 2, four openings are provided in the transverse rows, while six openings are provided in the longitudinal rows, so that each tray can hold 24 containers. The openings 33 are essentially square, and have rounded corners to accommodate the rounded junctions between the sides of the intermediate portion 25 of the container sidewalls.
Since each of the containers 20 are identically shaped, the openings 33 each have the same dimension. As is evident from FIG. 5, the width of openings 33 is less than the distance between the edges 27 on opposite sides of sidewall portion 26, so that when a container 20 is positioned within an opening 33, the container 20 will be supported by edge 27 upon the upper surface of the tray 32 around the periphery of the opening 33. As is also evident from FIG. 5, the width of opening 33 is less than the distance between enlargements 29 on opposite sides of sidewall portion 25, so that it is necessary to compress the enlargements 29 when the container 20 is inserted in the opening 33 to enable the enlargements to be positioned below the lower surface of tray 32. The enlargements 29 extend outwardly a sufficient distance from sidewall portion 25 to mechanically interlock the containers 20 with the tray 32, so that even if the tray 32 is inverted, the containers will not become dislodged therefrom. However, the amount of overlap between enlargements 29 and tray 32 is slight, so that after the containers have been filled and sealed, the end user can readily remove the containers from the tray, when desired.
With reference to step one of FIG. 17, after the containers 20 are manufactured, they are mechanically interlocked with the carrier trays 32 by suitable apparatus, not shown, which inserts the containers 20 within the openings 33, and then moves the containers 20 downwardly relative to the tray 32 to position the enlargements 29 beneath the lower surface of the tray. A plurality of container-holding trays 32 are then stacked upon one another, and as can be best seen in FIG. 3, the containers 20 intemest within one another, so that the stack of trays occupies a minimum amount of space. The abutment portions 24 of the containers 20 in one tray 32 rest upon the upwardly facing edges 28 of the containers 20 in a subjacent tray to position the trays in the stack in spaced, parallel relationship. After a predetermined number of trays have been accumulated, they are inserted in a carton C (FIG. I) in accordance with step 2 of FIG. 17. As is evident from FIG. II, the opens ends of the containers 20 face downwardly within the cartons C away from the end of the carton that is to be opened by the end user.
The carton is then transported to the product packager in accordance with step 3, and the carton is inserted in a dispensing magazine, after the carton has been opened and the trays have been inverted to the position of FIG. 2. A suitable magazine for dispensing the trays 32 one at a time onto a continuously moving conveyor is disclosed in the concurrently filed, commonly assigned application of Mueller et al. As is explained in the above-mentioned application, the carton itself may be positioned in the dispensing magazine to obviate the necessity of removing the trays 32 from the carton C.
Reference may be made to the abovo-montionaed Mueller et a]. application for a detailed description of the apparatus for dispensing the end product into the containers and for sealing the containers. With reference to FIG. 17, after the trays have been dispensed from the magazine and positioned on a conveyor in accordance with step 4, they are moved to a sterilizing station where hot air is blown upon the containers in a semisealed zone in accordance with step 5. The end product is then placed in the containers in accordance with step 6, and
the trays then pass to a cover applying station, where a closure means is applied to the containers. As is described in the above-mentioned Mueller et ul. application, a closure film is heat sealed to each transverse row of containers in accordance with step 7 as they pass through a closure applying station.
The trays are then transported by the conveyor to a severing station, where the closure film is longitudinally and transversely slit in accordance with step 8. The trays are then transported by the conveyor to a removal station, where they are removed from the packaging apparatus and inserted in a shipping container in accordance with step 9 for transportation to (step 10), and use by (step 11) the end user. During the entire process set forth above, it will be appreciated that the containers remain interlocked with their respective carrier trays until they are removed therefrom by the end user.
The embodiments illustrated in FIG. 5A, FIGS. 6 and 7, FIGS. 8 and 9, FIGS. Ill-12, FIG. I3, FIG. 14, FIG, 15 and FIG. 16 are each similar to the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, so that references numerals in the 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800 series are used to designate corresponding elements in the respective embodiments.
Referring now to FIG. 5A, the container 120 illustrated therein differs essentially from container 20 in the manner in which it is supported upon a subjacent container, when they are nested together. More particularly, the enlargements I29 that extend outwardly from the container sidewall 123 are positioned at the upper end of the intermediate sidewall portion 124, so that when the containers are nested within one another, the enlargements 129 will seat upon the support surface 128 defined by the upper end of the subjacent container. Like the embodiment of FIG. 5, enlargements 129 etc tend outwardly a sufficient distance from the sidewall I23 to releasably interlock the containers I20 within an opening 133 in a carrier tray 132.
In the embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 7, the container 220 differs essentially from the container 20 in that the enlargement 229 on container sidewall portion 225 extends entirely around the periphery of the container. With the embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 7, it will be appreciated that the projection 229 need not extend outwardly from the container sidewall as far as the plural enlargements 29 of FIGS. 1-5 to effect the mechanical interlocking.
In the embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 9, the holding means associated with the carrier tray 332 are defined by the projections 334 which extend inwardly from each side of each opening 333 in'the carrier tray. The containers 320 include a recess 329 in each side of the sidewall portion 325, so that when the containers 320 are inserted in the openings 333, the projections 334 will engage within the recess 329 to mechanically interlock the containers 320 with the tray 332.
In the embodiment of FIGS. iii-12, the container 420 includes a wedge-shaped enlargement 629 on each side of the sidewall portion 425. The holding means associated with the carrier tray 432 are defined by a notch 434 in each side of the openings 433. The lower ends of enlargements 429 have a width less than the width of notches 43 4, and the upper ends of enlargements 429 have a width greater than the width of notches 434, so that when the containers 420 are inserted in the openings 433, the enlargements 429 will pass through the notches 434, with the upper end of the enlargements being positioned below the lower surface of tray 432 to mechanically interlock the containers 420 with the carrier tray.
in the embodiment of FIG, 13, the containers 520 are reieasably retained against movement relative to the carrier tray 532 by adhesive means interposed between the container sidewall portion 525 and the inner surface of carrier tray openings 533. The adhesive means preferably takes the form of a small adhesive spot on each side of the opening 533, although adhesive spots could be provided on less than all of the sides of the opening 533. Alternatively, adhesive may be provided on one or more sides of the sidewall portion 525.
in the embodiment of FIG. 14, the containers 620 and carrier trays 632 are formed together as a one-piece molding. The containers 620 are releasably retained against movement relative to the carrier tray 632 by one or more frangible sections 634 that connect the upper rim of the container to the carrier tray around the opening 633 therein.
in the embodiment of FlG. 15, the carrier tray 732 includes circular openings 733 having spaced notches.734 extending outwardly thereof, and in the illustrated embodiment, four notches 734 are provided at 90 increments around the periphery of openings 733. The sidewall 723 of container 720 is also circular, and a plurality of axially extending enlargements 729 extend downwardly on opposite sides of the con tainer 720 below the upper rim thereof. The enlargements 729 are spaced below the upper rim of the container by a distance at least as great as the thickness of carrier tray 732 so that when the containers 720 are inserted within the openings 733 with the enlargements 723 in alignment with the notches 734, the enlargements 729 will pass below the plane of the lower surface of carrier tray 732, whereby the containers 720 may be rotated to releasably interlock the containers with the carrier tray.
in FIG. 16, a modified tray structure holding means is illustrated, which may be used in conjunction with any of the preceding container structures wherein the upper end of the sidewall is reversely bent to provide an'cuter rim portion, as at 26 in PK). 5. in the embodiment of FIG, 16, the carrier tray 832 includes a plurality of upstanding lugs 834 at opposite sides of the openings 833, and the lugs 834 are adapted to be positioned between the reversely bent upper sidewall portions, such as and 26 in FIG. 5, to releasably retain the container against movement relative to the carrier tray 832.
1. Packaging structure comprising: first and second carrier members positioned in spaced parallel relationship, each carrier member being defined by a flat sheet including a plurality of openings arranged in a predetermined pattern, the openings in the first carrier member being aligned with the openings in the second carrier member; a plurality of containers, each container being positioned in one of said openings, said containers each being identically shaped and including a bottom, and-sidewall means extending upwardly and outwardly from said bottom to a rim which defines an open top, each said sidewall means including a peripherally continuous outwardly extending intermediate portion providing a generally downwardly facing abutment having a larger dimension than the open end of the container, the containers associated with said first carrier member extending downwardly into internested relationship with the containers associated with said second carrier member with said abutments of said first carrior member containers engaging said rims of said second carrier member containers, said intermediate portions having enlargements extending outwardly therefrom whereby an imaginary peripheral line along the outside edge of said enlargements of each container defines a greater area than the area of each said opening; and said containers including a peripherally continuous support portion spaced above said enlargements by a distance at least as great as the thickness of said sheet, said support portions resting on the upper surface of said sheet with said enlargements below said sheet, said enlargements and support portions cooperating with the positions of said sheet around said openings to define interlocking means.
2. Packaging structure as set forth in claim 1 in which each container is four-sided and wherein an enlargement extends outwardly from each side of each said container.
3. Packaging structure comprising: first and second carrier members positioned in spaced parallel relationship, each carrier member including a plurality of container holding means arranged in a predetermined pattern, the holding means in the first carrier'member being aligned with the holding means in the second carrier member, a plurality of containers, each container being positioned in one of said holding means, said containers each being identically shaped and including a bottom, and sidewall means extending upwardly and outwardly from said bottom to define an open top, the containers associated with said first carrier member extending downwardly into internested relationship with the containers associated with said second carrier members; and cooperating means associated with each holding means and each container for releasably interlocking the containers with the carrier members, whereby a plurality of containers are associated together with each carrier member for handling as a unit, said carrier member being defined by a flat sheet having a plurality of openings therein, said openings having projections extending inwardly from the periphery thereof, and said sidewall having inwardly extending recesses therein, said projections each being seated within a recess to define said interlocking means.
4. Packaging structure comprising: first and second carrier members positioned in spaced parallel relationship, each carrier member including a plurality of container holding means arranged in a predetermined pattern, the holding means in the first carrier member being aligned with the holding means in the second carrier member, a plurality of containers, each container being positioned in one of said holding means, said containers each being identically sha'ped and including a bottom, and sidewall means extending upwardly and outwardly from said bottom to define an open top, the containers associated with said first carrier member extending downwardly into internested relationship with thecontainers associated with said second carrier members; and cooperating means associated with each holding means and each container for releasably interlocking the containers with the carrier members, whereby a plurality of containers are associated together with each carrier member for handling as a unit, said carrier member being defined by a fiat sheet having a plurality of openings therein, said openings having outwardly extending notches in the periphery thereof, and said sidewall having enlargements extending outwardly therefrom, the length of said enlargements being greater than the length of said notches, said enlargements each projecting through one of said notches to define said interlocking means.
5. Packaging structure comprising: first and second carrier members positioned in spaced parallel relationship, each carrier member including a plurality of container holding means arranged in a predetermined pattern, the holding means in the first carrier member being aligned with the holding means in the second carrier member, a plurality of containers, each container being positioned in one of said holding means, said containers each being identically shaped and including a bottom, and sidewall means extending upwardly and outwardly from said bottom to define an open top, the containers associated with said first carrier member extending downwardly into internested relationship with thecontuincrs associated with said second carrier members; and cooperating means associated with each holding means and each container for releasably interlocking the containers with the carrier members, whereby a plurality of containers are associated together with each carrier member for handling as a unit, said carrier member being defined by a fiat sheet having a plurality of openings therein each receiving a container holding means, and adhesive means being provided between the periphery of each opening and the container sidewall to define said interlocking means.