US 3572535 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
0 United States Patent 1111 3,572,535
 lnventor William W. Kinzie 2,774,503 12/1956 Moore 220/4-X 907 Symphony, Ogden, Utah 84404 2,823,821 2/ 1958 Frater et al. 220/4  Appl. No. 792,450 2,869,750 1/1959 Doer et al. 220/97-X  Filed Jan. 21, 1969 3,266,656 8/1966 Kridle 220/4  Patented Mar. 30, 1971 O G PATENTS Continuation-impart of application Ser. No. 257 562 5/1963 Australia 220,4 1 9? 1968 and a 262,931 10/1949 Switzerland 220/4 continuation-m-part of 792,335, Jan. 21, 692 344 7/1930 France 217/65 1969.
Primary Examiner-Raphael l-l. Schwartz AttorneysC. Harvey Gold and David V. Trask  COLLAPSIBLE STORAGE CONTAINER 10 Claims, 4 Drawing Figs.
 0.8. CI. 220/4  lnLCl. B65d 7/00 ABSTRACT; A collapsible, reuseable, Storage and Shipping  Fleld of Search 220/ 72, 4, container including f separate rectangular i l panels 5, 75, 76, 81, 1.5, 83; 217/12, 65, 6 preferably of identical interchangeable configuration; a bottom panel; and a cover panel. The edges of each panel are  References cued adapted for releasable joining with edges of adjacent panels so UMTED STATES PATENTS that the container may be assembled and disassembled as 2,141,734 12/ 1938 Besch 220/4-X desired. The joints between panels may be provided with ap- 2,501,980 3/1950 Wolfe 220/4 propriate sealant to make the assembled container watertight.
(IOLILAlSlllBlLE STORAGE CONTAINER CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is a continuation-in-part of my commonly assigned, copending US. application Ser. No. 775,885, filed Nov. 14, 1968 entitled Support Pallet and Ser. No. 792,335, filed Jan. 21, 1969 entitled Pallet.
Each of the parent application, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference, discloses novel pallet structures. The pallets of the parent applications may be constructed of resin sheets and include integral reinforcing structures for increased strength and resilience.
The present application provides a container constructed of panels which may be constructed of similar materials and include similar reinforcing structures. The pallets of the parent applications may, if desired, comprise the bottom of the container claimed by this invention.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field This invention relates to reusable storage and shipping containers and provides a collapsible container particularly suitable for marine, air or truck shipping.
2. State of the Art Modern shipping practices impose rigorous specifications on shipping containers. The specifications for containers used for marine shipping, for example, require the use of expensive, specially treated materials, such as resin-impregnated, heavyduty plywood. Salvage and reuse of this material is generally impractical, although a great savings in shipping costs would be realized if the containers could be returned and reused as such. Storage and return shipping of empty containers is prohibitively expensive, and disassembly of the containers presently used is both time consuming and destructive. When a large, plywood box which has been specially treated to make it watertight is pulled apart, it cannot normally be reassembled for reuse in marine shipping without further water proofing.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a tough, lightweight, strong, collapsible container suitable for storing and shipping items of commerce and industry, even those which are bulky or heavy. The container of this invention may be readily disassembled and reassembled without being damaged. At any time during storage or shipment, a particular container may be opened for inspection andresealed without taking any special precautions. it may be provided as a strong, watertight container suitable for use in marine shipping.
The container of this invention is generally rectilinear in shape, including four rectangular sidewall panels, a bottom panel, and a cover panel. In its preferred form, the sidewall panels are all identical and interchangeable and are thus approximately square in shape. It is sometimes preferred, however, to form the bottom panel as a pallet of the type described in the aforementioned copending applications Ser. Nos. 775,885 and 792,335. When the container is in its collapsed condition, each of the panels is separate and disconnected from any other panel. Preferably, the bottom and cover panels are also identical and interchangeable end panels so that any two end panels and any four sidewall panels may be assembled to form a storage container.
Each sidewall panel is adapted for placement in normal, edge-to-edge relationship with two other sidewall panels and in parallel relationship with a fourth sidewall panel to form a hollow enclosure with four vertical, parallel, corner joints. Each corner joint is comprised of the edge of one panel inserted into a groove along the adjacent edge of a second panel. The groove preferably runs the full length of the panel so that the entire edge of the adjacent panel may be inserted into the groove. A pliable, sealing material may be affixed, either in the groove or on the inserted panel edge, to effect a watertight corner joint. Although it is within contemplation that one panel may carry grooves adjacent two of its opposite parallel edges, it is preferred that each sidewall panel carry one groove running the full length of the panel close to one edge thereof and that the opposite edge of each sidewall panel be adapted for insertion into a similar groove carried by another panel. In this way, the sidewall panels may be freely interchanged.
When the sidewall panels are assembled to form a hollow enclosure as described, the enclosure has a rectangular, usually square, cross section. The adjacent edges of the four sidewalls at the open ends of the enclosure thus form rectangular, or square, thin-walled perimeters. The top and bottom panels of this invention are adapted to connect the adjacent edges as end walls of the container. Thus, the bottom panel preferably has a continuous groove on one surface extending adjacent along each of its edges around its perimeter. This groove is adapted to receive the edges of the four sidewall panels at one open end of the enclosure. The cover panel generally has a similar groove around its perimeter adapted to receive the sidewall panel edges forming the perimeter at the other open end of the enclosure. With both endwalls in place, the enclosure becomes a tightly sealed, rectangular container, usually an approximatelycubic box.
The panels carry fastening means for releasably connecting the sidewall panels together and for releasably connecting the endwall panels to the assembled sidewall panels. Ideally, each of the sidewall panels carries fastening means on the surface intended for the outer surface in use along three of its edges and a groove on the opposite, or-inner, surface along its remaining edge. When the panels are assembled, the fastening means carried on the edge parallel and opposite the grooved edge of one sidewall panel connect to the grooved edge of an adjacent sidewall panel to lock the edge of the first panel into the groove of the second panel. The fastening means along the other two edges of the sidewall panels connect to the bottom and cover panels, respectively. The endwall panels then need carry no special fasteners.
A particularly desireable fastening means includes a base member hingedly connected to the outer surface of the panel and a hook member. The hook member extends from attachment to the hingedly connected base member beyond the ungrooved edge of the panel and is adapted as a hook to grip the outside surface of the grooved section of the adjacent panel into which the ungrooved edge is inserted. In this fashion, the panels may be fastened together or disconnected as desired, either by application of finger pressure or with the assistance of a small tool, such as a hammer or screwdriver.
The sidewall and end panels are preferably constructed of resinous material by known casting or molding techniques. The term resin" or resinous material, as used herein, refers to any plastic or resinous organic material, including synthetic resins, that can be molded or shaped to form a noncrystalline product which is solid at ordinary temperatures. Examples of suitable resins are phenolformaldehyde, polyurethanes, ureaformaldehyde, indenecoumarone, cellulose esters, cellulose ethers, polystyrene resins, copolymers of ethylene and unsaturated esters, polyolefin resins, epoxide resins, etc. It is within the scope of the invention to reinforce the resin with suitable reinforcing materials such as glass fibers, cellulose fibers, etc. The use of such fibers imparts high tensile strength to the pallet and, in addition, renders the pallet retardant to fire, resistant to chemicals and weathering, and highly resistant to heat.
A thin-wall construction, typically less than l inch thick, is preferred to conserve materials of construction and to maintain light weight for the container. Additional strength is provided, where desired, by including reinforcing structures, such as ribs, on the panels to resist bending or warping of the panels. In a thin-walled panel, formation of a groove on one surface usually necessitates the formation of a welt protruding from the opposite surface of the panel. The reinforcing structures desirably protrude from the outer surface of the panel to about the same extent that the groove welt protrudes therefrom so as to add no additional effective thickness to the panel. The reinforcing ribs may be solid, but more often have hollow interiors which open into the opposite or inside surface of the panels in the same fashion as do the edge-receiving grooves. The reinforcing ribs are preferably formed in the panel itself and have wall thicknesses about the same as the thickness of the flat portion of the panel. Ideally, the reinforcing ribs are parallelly spaced across the outside surface of the panel, preferably parallel to the diagonal thereof. In most instances, the panel, grooves, and reinforcing ribs form a unitary structure.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings, which illustrate what is presently regarded as the best mode for carrying out the invention:
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the container of this invention in its assembled condition;
FIG. 2, a front view, in elevation, of the outside surface of a sidewall panel;
FIG. 3, a plan view of four sidewall panels in assembled condition; and
FIG. 4, a view, in elevation, of the inside surface of an end panel.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT The assembled container illustrated by FIG. 1 is approximately cubic in shape and includes four sidewall panels 11, and two end panels 12 held together by fasteners 13. Each of the sidewall panels 11 is identical as illustrated by FIGS. 2 and 3. Thus, each sidewall panel 11 carries as an integral part thereof a recessed groove 14 along one edge 11a of the panel. The groove 14 runs the full length of the edge of the panel. The opposite edge 11b of each side panel is ungrooved as are the top and bottom edges 11c, 11d. Edge 11b of each sidewall panel is inserted in straight alignment with the remainder of the panel into the grooves 14 of the adjacent sidewall panels, as illustrated in FIG. 3. The four sidewall panel are locked into position by fasteners 13 connected to the ungrooved edges 1 lb of the respective panels to form a hollow, four-walled enclosure.
The end panel illustrated by FIG. 4 may be use as either a bottom or a cover panel 12. This panel carries a groove 15 around its entire perimeter. This groove is adapted to receive all of the corresponding adjacent edges 11c or 11d forming the perimeter of one of the ends of the four-walled enclosure. (FIG. 3) A special enlarged groove section 16, shaped to accommodate the corner joints of the assembled sidewalls, is provided at each corner of each end panel 12.
A plurality of reinforcing ribs 17 is molded into each panel. FIG. 2 shows the ribs projecting from the outside surface of a sidewall panel while FIG. 4 shows the recessed interior of the ribs on an end panel. The construction of the reinforcing ribs on each of the panels is identical. On the outer surface, the reinforcing ribs project from the flat portion 18 of the panel for about the same distance as the welt 14a formed by the groove 14 projects therefrom. Referring to FIG. 4, in the illustrated instance, the reinforcing ribs are hollow and open to the interior of the assembled container such that the wall thickness of the reinforcing ribs is approximately that of the panel generally.
In the illustrated instance, each of the panels is molded from a resin sheet and all of the grooves are partially filled with a sealant 19 (FIG. 3), such as silicon rubber or wax, so that when that when the panels are assembled, all of the comer joints and perimeter joints are tightly sealed to form a watertight container.
Although the invention has been described with particular reference to details of the illustrated embodiment, it is not intended to thereby restrict the scope of the claims which themselves recite those features regarded as essential to the inven tion. Thus, for example, it is recognized that the panels of the container may be manufactured from resins other than those specifically disclosed herein, or from nonresinous materials, if desired. Moreover, the term "sealent," as used herein, in-
cludes any substance with physical and chemical properties suitable for use to seal a container against moisture in the environment to which the container is to be exposed. Many sealants of diverse composition and characteristics are known, and it may be reasonally anticipated that many others will become available in the future. Selection of an appropriate sealant from those available is a routine matter for those skilled in the art.
The invention is not limited to any particular method of manufacture of the panels, it being understood that the terms casting and molding are used in a broad sense and include such specialized techniques as vacuum forming. Moreover, it should be understood that the panels may be reinforced with a variety of convenient structures other than the rib structures specifically illustrated. Any particular panel may carry vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or intersecting reinforcing ribs.
1. A collapsible storage and shipping container comprising:
four rectangular sidewall panels adapted for arrangement with each panel in normal, edge-to-edge relationship with two other panels and in parallel relationship with he remaining panel to form a hollow enclosure with four parallel corner joints, each said corner joint comprising an ungrooved edge of one panel inserted in straight alignment with the remainder of the panel into a recessed groove carried by the edge of an adjacent panel and extending the full length of the panel as an integral part thereof, and with rectangular perimeters at its opposite ends formed by adjacent edges of said sidewall panels;
a rectangular bottom panel adapted to connect the corresponding adjacent edges, of the four sidewall panels, forming one said rectangular perimeter;
a rectangular cover panel adapted to connect the corresponding adjacent edges, of the four sidewall panels, fonning one said rectangular perimeter; and
fastening means connected to the ungrooved edges of said panels for locking said corner joints together to form an approximately rectangular container.
2. A collapsible container according to claim 1, wherein the bottom panel and cover panel each include a groove along the perimeter thereof adapted to receive the corresponding adjacent edges of the sidewall panels which form the respective rectangular perimeters of said hollow enclosure.
3. A collapsible container according to claim I, wherein the panels are of thin-wall construction and include reinforcing structures to resist bending of said panels.
4. A collapsible container according to claim I, wherein each joint between adjacent sidewall panels and each joint between sidewall and endwall panels includes a sealant to insure that the assembled container is watertight.
5. A collapsible container according claim I, wherein the bottom panel is adapted as a pallet.
6. A collapsible storage and shipping container comprising:
four rectangular sidewall panels, each of which carries a groove at one edge extending the full length of said edge, adapted for arrangement with each panel in normal edgeto-edge relationship with two other panels and in parallel relationship with the remaining panel to form a hollow enclosure with four parallel comer joints, each said comer joint comprising an edge of one panel inserted in the recessed groove of an adjacent panel, and with rectangular perimeters at its opposite ends formed by adjacent edges of said sidewall panels;
a rectangular bottom panel adapted to connect the corresponding adjacent edges, of the four sidewall panels, forming one said rectangular perimeter;
a rectangular cover panel adapted to connect the corresponding adjacent edges, of the four sidewall panels, forming one said rectangular perimeter; and
fastening means connected to the ungrooved edges of said panels for locking said comer joints together to form an approximately rectangular container.
7. A collapsible storage and shipping container comprising:
four approximately identical rectangular sidewall panels, each of which has three ungrooved edges and carries a groove proximate the remaining edge thereof such that the panels may be arranged with each panel in normal edge-to-edge relationship with two other panels and in parallel relationship with the remaining panel to form a hollow enclosure with four parallel comer joints comprising an ungrooved edge of one panel inserted in a said groove carried by the edge of an adjacent panel and with rectangular perimeters at its opposited ends formed by adjacent edges of said sidewall panels; rectangular bottom panel including a groove along the perimeter thereof adapted to receive the edges of the sidewall panels forming one said rectangular perimeter;
a rectangular cover panel including a groove along the perimeter thereof adapted to receive the edges of the sidewall panels forming the other rectangular perimeter; and
fastening means carried by the said three ungrooved edges of each said panel for releasably connecting the sidewall panels to each other and to the bottom and cover panels.
8. A collapsible container according to claim 7, wherein each of the sidewall panels, the bottom panel, and the cover panel are of thin-wall construction with reinforcing ribs across their outer surfaces in spaced, parallel alignment with a diagonal thereof.
9. A collapsible container according to claim 8, wherein each of the sidewall panels is approximately square.
10. A collapsible container according to claim 9, wherein the fastening means are hingedly attached at one end to the outer surface of the sidewall panels such that their unattached ends extend beyond the edges of said panels, each said unattached end being formed as a hook member adapted to grip the outer surface of the grooved section of a panel receiving said edge.