US 3568830 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Inventor Robert A. Moren Mount Prospect, [11.  Appl. No. 813,603  Filed Apr. 4, 1969  Patented Mar. 9, 1971  Assignee Plastolilm,lne.
 SHIP-DISPLAY TRAY AND PACKAGING 9 Claims, 5 Drawing Figs.  US. 206/65, 217/26.5, 229/29, 229/25  Int. Cl. B65d 71/00, B65d 25/10, B65d 81/00, B65d 5/50  Field of Search 217/26, 26.5; 206/65; 229/25, 29 (M)  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,355,810 10/1920 Bussey 217/35 1,990,145 2/1935 Swift, Jr 2l7/26.5X 3,346,171 10/1967 Baker 229/29M 3,416,690 12/1968 Michael 229/25 3,462,064 8/1969 Macchi 217/26.5X
Primary Examiner-Raphael l-l. Schwartz Attarney- Darbo, Robertson and Vandenburgh ABSTRACT: A tray for packaging and displaying delicate articles such as pieces of fruit. The trays, which are nestable when empty, include a number of wells which snugly receive the extending legs is greater than the corresponding dimension of the article contained in the well. Filled trays are stackable using cardboard, plastic, etc. dividers between trays.
SHIP-DISPLAY TRAY AND PACKAGING BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Bulk packaging of fruit or other delicate articles is relatively undesirable for several reasons. The vibration and bumping which inevitably occurs during shipment exaggerates the damaging forces exerted on pieces within the mass because of the weight of articles being supported by those pieces. Moreover, the direct physical contact between pieces of fruit during shipment is highly undesirable from the point of view of contamination of good fruit, for example, by bad. Moreover, fruit shipped in bulk, e.g. by the carton, is handled again and again from the initial packaging until it is sold on the retail market. For example, it is dumped or otherwise transferred from the carton to a display counter and perhaps arranged for display. It may be picked over and roughly handled by customers. 1
Although the use of trays of various configurations have been suggested for the purpose of isolating individual pieces or articles in a container, it would be highly desirable to provide a tray which satisfactorily eliminates the damage caused by the destructive forces generated by the weight of other articles packed above in the same container. Moreover, as the fruit and vegetable industry is becoming more sophisticated and the sizing of lots of fruit and vegetables becomes more precise, it is apparent that the number of grades or sizes of the various fruits and vegetables is increasing. Hence, it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain an adequate inventory of a sufficiently wide variety of corrugated cartons to package the fruits and vegetables of the various grades or sizes. Thus, it would be highly desirable to provide means for shipping of delicate articles such as pieces of fruit and vegetables such as avocados, tomatoes, oranges, nectarines, mangoes, pears, peaches, tangelos, apricots, plums, bib lettuce heads, and the like. It would also be highly desirable to provide shipping means which would permit removal of large numbers of the articles from cartons in one motion, and which could be used without any further change as means for placing the articles on display for retail sale. It would be even more desirable to provide a system and means for packaging the various sizes of fruits and vegetables in standardized-size cartons. It would be particularly necessary that any such system and shipping means for achieving the above stated objectives be extremely SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION All of the above objects are achieved by use of a unitary preformed tray, made of relatively rigid plastic material, having a face portion disposed about afirst plane, having individual wells or depressions in the face portion for snugly receiving individual articles, having hollow lower support columns extending below the face portion, e.g., extending from the bottom of the article-receiving wells, the lower support columns opening upwardly, e.g., into the wells, and upper support columns extending upwardly from the face of the tray, and opening downwardly, e.g., below the face portion of the tray, all of said lower support columns ending in a second plane which is parallel to the first plane, and all of the upwardly support columns ending in a third plane which is also parallel to the first plane. The distance from the second and third planes is'suffrciently great so that the article residing in the well does not extend upwardly into the third plane, or downwardly to the second plane.
DESIGNATION OF THE FIGURES FIG. 1 is a plan view of a preferred embodiment of this invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken approximately along the line 2-2 of FIG. ll.
FIGS. 3, 4i and 5 are schematic elevational views of various cartons which have been filled in accordance with this invention, the near ends of said cartons being shown removed.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Although the following disclosure offered for public dissemination, in return for the grant of a patent, is detailed to ensure adequacy and aid understanding, this is not intended to prejudice that purpose of a patent which is to cover each new inventive concept therein no matter how others may later disguise it by variations in form or additions or further improvements. The claims at the end hereof are intended as the chief aid toward this purpose; as it is these that meet the requirement of pointing out the parts, improvements, or combinations in which the inventive concepts are found.
Provided in accordance with this invention is tray, generally 10, formed from relatively rigid plastic sheet, e.g., by conventional vacuum forming. Tray 10 is thus a unitary structure.' The structural features of tray, 10 include face portion 11, disposed in a first plane. Dependent skirt 13, provides rigidity and outwardly extending flange 14, may be sized or eliminated, to permit tray 10 to be set into a particular sized carton l6. Formed in the face portion 11 of the tray are a plurality of wells 18 which extend away from the facing portion in the direction which is defined as below the facing portion. Thus, the cavity of well 18 is open to the upper side of facing portion 11. In the illustrated embodiment, lower support columns 20 extend downwardly from the bottom of wells 18. Lower support columns 20 are hollow, and preferably join wall 22 of well 18 at a circularjuncture 23. I have found that it is essential that the height of the lower support structure 20, which height is indicated in FIG. 2 by I-I," must be such that its end 25 extend below the bottom of well 18 by at least threesixteenth inches. It is also essential in accordance with this invention, that the ends 25 of lower support columns 20 terminate in a plane represented in FIG. 2 by the top surface 26 of corrugated board 27. It is further noted that walls 28 of lower support columns .20 taper inwardly and downwardly from their juncture 23 with dependent wells 18, which taper facilitates nesting.
In the illustrated preferred embodiment, tray generally 10, is provided with two dozen wells arranged linearly. It is not essential that the tray of this invention contain that number of wells, or that the wells be arranged in such linear fashion. In the illustrated embodiment the individual wells 18 are situated adjacent one another and are joined by U" shaped troughs or depressions 30 which serve to stiffen face portion 11 and also facilitate the manual grasping of an article residing in well 18.
Extending in an upward direction from face portion ll are upper support columns, generally 32. Walls 34 of support columns 32 taper inwardly and upwardly and some of them form a circular juncture 35 with facing portion 11. It is noted that in the illustrated embodiments all of the upper supporting posts, or columns, 32, which are situated along the perimeter of clustered wells 18 are located very close to the mouth 42 of wells 18 and that walls 34' are not circular, but are adapted to conform to the shape of the mouth 42 of wells 18. Indeed, the peripheral support structures 32 may be considered as having walls which have four distinct portions, namely, circular portions 45 relatively flat portions 34' which are adapted to said upper support column 32 to the region between adjoining wells 18 and a third relatively flat portion 46 which rises from trough 36. It is emphasized, however, that all of these surfaces taper upwardly and inwardly thereby facilitating nesting of upper support structure 32 of one tray, generally it), into the corresponding upper support structure of another identical tray.
In accordance with this invention it is thus essential that upper support structures 32, as in the case of lower support structures, generally 2%, be hollow. Thus the interior region,
or cavity 37, of support structure 32 opens to the bottom side of tray 10. Ends 38 of upper support columns 32 must terminate in a plane 39, e.g., that represented in FIG. 2 by the bottom surface 40 of corrugated board 26.
The ends of the upper and lower supporting posts, e.g., 25, and 38, are flat, to better distribute the forces through the entire circumference of the support and to better distribute the forces through dividers, or layers 27, 26. When stiff corrugated paper board 26 is positioned on top of upper posts 32, another tray can be stacked above it and so on, as in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4. Weight rests on articles 19 in wells 18, since the weight resting on layer 26' is supported by upper posts 38, through facing portions 11 and lower posts 20. It is believed that the slight amount of flexing which naturally occurs even when relatively stiff plastic is employed actually diminishes shock when the container is bumped.
In the illustrated embodiment flanges 14 are provided with a multiplicity of perforations 50 which assist in evacuation of air trapped below the tray, e.g., when a tray is being placed into the bottom ofa carton 16. I
Walls 22 of well 18 are shaped to permit the lower half, or less than the lower half, of an article 19 to be seated in well 18. it is essential, in accordance with this invention, that the height H" of upper support column 32 above face portion 11 be sufficient that ends 38 of upper support columns 32 be in a plane which is above any portion of article 19, when article 19 resides in well 18. Thus the distance l-l' should exceed the corresponding dimension of article 19 by at least one-sixteenth of an' inch preferrably by about three-sixteenths of an inch. It is preferred, however, that the dimension H be close enough to the corresponding dimension of article 19 to prevent article 19 from moving an appreciable distance out of well 18 in the event the carton 16 is suddenly moved.
As the various industries become more sophisticated the degree of precision in sizing various articles of fruit, e.g., oranges and grapefruit, becomes more and more precise. Thus, as a practical matter, individual trays can be sized to snugly receive particular grades or sizes of fruit. It is contemplated, therefore, that the distance from bottom 25 of lower support structure to top 38 of upper support structure 32 be standardized in a given operation so that standard sized carton 16 can be used to provide a fixed number, e.g., a small integer of layers of packed articles, each layer consisting of a tray generally 10, articles 19 packed therein, and a corrugated board 26', as illustrated in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4.
By the same token it is contemplated also that the distance from the bottom of the lower support structure 20 to the top 38 of upper support structure 32 be the interior height of a single layer carton (as illustrated in FIG. 5) in which case corrugated portions 27 and 26 would represent the top and bottom respectively as such single layer carton.
Thus in one operation using this invention, 1 have standardized the height of the layers to permit each layer to hold exactly one-quarter bushel of fruit. Thus, a half bushel of fruit is packed in a standard two layer carton and a full bushel is packed in a standard four layer carton. It is noted that variations in the sizes of fruit are taken care of by use of trays having different dimensions for well diameter and upper and lower column heights even though the overall height of the layer remains unchanged. Thus, by proper dimensioning of trays in accordance with this invention a standard carton can contain a fixed fraction of a bushel per layer regardless of the size of the particular fruit packed therein.
It is noted that as the size of the fruit for which the tray is designed increases, the size of well 18 increases correspondingly. Thus, for larger sized fruits, the height of lower supporting posts in designed shorter in embodiments in which posts 20 extend from wells 18, and for smaller sized fruits lower supporting structure 20 becomes longer in these embodiments. Also, generally speaking, as the size of wells 18 decrease, the facing portion 11 moves correspondingly closer to the plane in which ends 38 of upper supporting structure 32 are located. Thus, it is entirely practical, for example, to provide an individual tray structure in accordance with this invention having the general appearance of the illustrated embodiment in which approximately half of the wells 55 are larger and depend from a face portion 56 which is in one (lower) plane and the other half of smaller wells 57 depend from face portion 58 in another plane substantially closer to third plane 60. Hence, in trays for use in shipping a single layer of gift fruit from Florida to the midwest, for example, half of the wells can be sized to accommodate oranges and half of the wells can be sized to accommodate grapefruit. In each instance, however, only a small clearance remains between the top of the orange or grapefruit, e.g., article 19 and the bottom surface of the overlaying enclosure.
ACHIEVEMENT All the objects set forth above are achieved in accordance with this invention. Thus, the special trays protect the articles contained therein from damage caused by the weight of the other articles resting above it in the same container and other containers. The articles are effectively isolated from one another. In actual controlled shipping tests, cartons of fruit were shipped from Florida to Chicago and back again using commercial shipping. It was found that oranges thus shipped, for example, were received in top condition. In other shipping tests in which bad oranges had been deliberately placed in cartons containing healthy specimens, none of the healthy specimens were affected after the carton had been shipped via commercial shippers from Florida to Chicago and back.
The articles packed in the novel trays of this invention are efficiently and conveniently handled at a retail outlet. For example, an entire tray of articles is removed from the carton by either cutting off the sides of the carton and sliding the tray horizontally out of the carton or by lifting the tray through the open top of the opened carton. The contents of the carton can be left on the trays and the trays may be stacked on a display counter providing a layer of corrugated board or, a stiff plastic divider, e.g. divider 26, 26 used in the carton is placed therebetween. It is observed that edibles thus displayed are made available to handling by potential customers only to the extent of the exposed layer, thus protecting the unexposed layers of the fruit from undue handling and damage by shoppers.
Trays formed from 0.030 high impact vacuum formed polystyrene 13 inches wide and 18% inches long have been found to be entirely adequate for use as handling and display trays in accordance with this invention. Thus, manufacture is extremely simple and relatively economical. Other sizes and other materials can be used instead of 0.030 polystyrene, and, generally speaking, semirigid thermoformed plastics are useful.
By providing the nestable upper and lower support columns in accordance with this invention it has been possible to standardize on a layer height, independently of the specific size of the packed fruit, and this in turn, has permitted standardization in the sizes of corrugated cartons used for shipping the fruit. This is of considerable economic benefit in that substantial reduction in the numbers of sizes of corrugated cartons is thereby possible and the complexity of the inventory and inventory maintenance problems thereby greatly alleviated.
In addition, trays of this invention, can be thermoforrned using transparent semirigid plastic, or suitable opaque materials. Use of transparent materials is particularly advantageous since this permits inspection of tray contents without removing any articles from the tray.
l. A tray for shipping, storing and displaying a plurality of articles, comprising: a face portion disposed about a first plane; a plurality of wells depending from said face portion, said wells having shapes and sizes adapted to snugly receive articles of different sizes; lower support columns extending from the bottoms of the wells, the lower columns being hollow and opening into the wells, the columns being tapered inwardly and downwardly and extending at least three-sixteenth inches below the bottom of the wall; hollow upper support columns extending upwardly from the face portion, the distance from the bottoms of the wellsto the tops of the upper support columns being slightly larger than a corresponding dimension of the articles that they are adapted to receive, the upper support columns being hollow and opening into the space below the face portion and being tapered inwardly and upwardly; the bottoms of said supportcolumns terminating in a second plane, the tops of the upper support columns terminating in a thirdplane, said second and third planes being parallel to said first plane.
2. A package adapted to contain :a plu'rality'of articles including a box and a tray within said box, said tray including: a face portion disposed about a first plane;'a plurality of wells depending from said face portion, said wells being cavity shaped and having at least two different sizes to closely receive individual articles of corresponding different sizes, said wells being open with respect to the top of said face portion toreceive the article; a plurality of lower support columns extending from below the wells, the lower columns being hollow and opening into the well cavity vat the bottom of its respective well, the lower columns extending at least three-sixteenth inches below the bottom of the well; hollow upper support columns extending above the face portion from said face portion, the distance from the bottom of a well to the top of the upper support column being slightly larger than a corresponding dimension of the article in that well, the upper support column being hollow, the hollow interior of the upper support column opening below the face portion;-the bottoms of the lower support columns terminating in a second plane and resting upon a planar structure associated with said box, the tops of said upper support columns terminating in a'third plane and supporting a second planar structure, said first and second planar structures being selected from thegroup consisting of dividers and horizontal structures associated with the box.
3. A carton adapted to contain articles individually packed in a plurality of trays, the trays-being separated from one another by a layer of cardboard, the trays including: a face portion disposed about a first plane; a plurality of cavities depending from said face portion, said cavities being shaped and sized to closely receive individual articles adapted to be packed therein, some of the cavities in at least one of said trays differing in size from the remaining cavities therein to receive articles of correspondingly differing sizes, said cavities shapes and sizes adapted to snugly receive articles of different being open with respect to the top of said face portion; lower support columns extending from below said cavities, said lower columns being hollow and opening into the bottoms of the respective cavities, the lower columns extending at least three-sixteenth inches below said cavities and being tapered downwardly and inwardly and terminating in a second plane which is parallel to said first plane; hollow upper support columns extending above the faceport'ion from said face portion to a third plane which is also parallel to the first plane, the distance from the bottom of the'cavities to said third plane being slightly larger than the corresponding dimension of the articles to be packed therein, the upper support columns being hollow and opening below the face portion; the bottoms of the lower support columns resting upon a planar structure associated with said box, the tops of the upper support column supporting a second planar structure, said first and second sizes, the smaller wells depending from a higher level part of said face portion; lower sugport columns extending from the bottoms of the wells, the ower columns being hollow and opening into the wells, the columns being tapered inwardly and downwardly and extending at least three-sixteenths inches below the bottom of the well; hollow upper support columns extending upwardly from the face portion, the distance from the bottoms of the wells to the tops of the upper support columns being slightly larger than a corresponding dimension of the articles that they are adapted to receive, the upper support columns being hollow and openinginto the space below the face portion and being tapered inwardly and upwardly; the bottoms of said lower support columns terminating in a second plane, the tops of the upper support column terminating in a third plane, said second and third planes being parallel to said first plane.
6. A carton adapted to contain articles individually packed in a plurality of trays, the trays being separated from one another by a layer of cardboard, thet'rays including; a face portion disposed about a first plane; a plurality of cavities depending from said face portion, said cavities being shaped and sized to closely receive individual articles adapted to be packed therein and being open with respect to the top of said face portion; lower support columns extending from below said cavities, said lower columns being hollow and opening into the bottoms of the respective cavities, the lower columns extending at least three-sixteenth inches below said cavities and being tapered downwardly and iri'wardly and terminating in a second plane which is parallel to said first plane; hollow upper support columns extending above the face portion from said face portion to a third plane which is also parallel to the first plane, the distance from the bottom of the cavities to said third plane being slightly larger than the corresponding dimension of the articles to be packed therein, the cavities of at least one other tray differing in size from the cavities of at least one other tray in said carton, the distance between the second and third planes being the same for each tray regardless of the size of the cavities therein, the upper support columns being hollow and opening below the face portion; the bottoms of the lower support columns resting upon a planar structure associated with said carton, the topsof the upper support column supporting a second planar structure, said first and second structure being selected from the group consisting of dividers and horizontal structures associated with the carton.
7. Carton structure in accordance with claim 6, wherein the sizes and number of cavities in each tray provide in sum packing space for a predetermined volumetric measure of articles. 1
8. Carton structure in accordance with claim 7, wherein said predetermined volumetric measure. is the same for all trays in the carton.
9. Carton structure in accordance with claim 7, wherein said predetermined volumetric measure is one-quarter bushel.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 8,830 Dated March 9, 1971 Inventor(s) Robert A. Moren It is certified that error appears in the above-identified paten' and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Col. 6, line 44, delete "other" The assignee of this patent should be Plastofilm Industries, Inc.
Signed and sealed this 7th day of September 1971 (SEAL) Attest:
EDWARD M.FL T ROBERT GO'I'TSCHALK Acting Commissioner of Pate Attesting Officer