US 3581935 A
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United States Patent  lnventor Tzu-Chiang Chi 156] References Cited Columbia- UNITED STATES PATENTS  P 1 41 1,234,037 7/1917 Julian 221/48 [221 PM a! I 1971 1,682,580 8/1928 Pratt .1 22l/52X l Andms 1,692,156 1 1/192 Carruthers 221/52x Kirkwood, M0- 2,323,395 7/1943 Harwood 221/48 a art interest Primary Examiner-Samuel F Coleman Attorneys-William I. Andress, Herman O. Bauermeister and John D. Upham AND ABSTRACT: The invention disclosed herein relates to a 6 C 2 D unique method for folding sheet material for serial extraction aims rawmg from packaged dispensers involving a series of longitudinal  US. Cl 221/1, and transverse folds of superimposed sheets of paper, clothor 22 l /49 other flexible material. Packaged dispensers of various shapes [5 1] Int. Cl 865g 59/00 and containing supplies of such folded products for serial ex-  Field of Search 221/1 traction thereof through apertures of varying geometrical configuration are provided.
PATENTEUJUM 1 ISYI /I\ E i"" 34 FIG l4 fi 3 I 6 7' I a? A J C D RETURN TO AND CONTINUE FROM C F|G2 F C C? RETURN TO AND CONTINUE FROM D INVENTOR TZU-CHIANG CHI BY Vk Zwl a} ATTOR N EY PROCESS FOR FOLDING SHEET MATERIAL AND PACKAGED DISPENSERS THEREFOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention pertains to the field of sheet material as sociating and folding and packaged dispensers for serial extraction of the associated and folded product.
During the past several years considerable attention has been given to providing dispensers for various folded products such as linens, pillow cases, etc., and paper products such as facial tissues, napkins, towels and the like. In particular, a variety of package-type dispensers have been fabricated to provide extraction of individual or plural sheets of the paper product through, generally, elongated and/or ovular shaped apertures in the top of the dispenser. Among the dispensers found in the prior art are those having slit-type openings adapted primarily for extraction of individual sheets. Other dispensers have relatively large dispensing apertures or openings adapted to the removal of individual sheets or a plurality of sheets as desired. Various modifications of packaged dispensers include the use of spring means to force the sheet supply nearer the dispensing aperture as the supply diminishes; control plates to control frictional engagement between the sheet being dispensed and the next sheet in the packaged stack of sheets and dispensers having apertures having sawtooth edges for tearing or ripping segmented sheets from rolls thereof. Among dispensers having relatively elongated or ovular apertures, use is made of plastic cover sheets covering the aperture in the dispenser and having its own aperture for extraction of individual sheets or tissues, an object being to reduce contamination of the packaged sheets from atmospheric impurities.
In extant packaged dispensers, the sheet material is provided in various forms includingrolls or webs with segments having transverse perforations at premeasured intervals along the roll for easy tearing or with unmeasured rolls, segments of which may be ripped off by means of serrated blades. In other packaged dispensers, particularly those in use for facial tissues, napkins or towels, the paper product or sheet material is interweaved, interconnected or interfolded to provide association of the sheets together in a stack within the dispenser so that when one sheet is withdrawn from the package, a portion of the next lower sheet is drawn up in a popup fashion and protrudes from the aperture in the dispenser ready for use. Customarily,-sheet material for these popup packaged dispensers are associated by serially folding and interweaving the sheets in alternate and reverse C, S or Z configurations.
Various problems associated with present sheet-packaged serial dispensers include the use of dispenser openings which are too large for efficient operation of C, S or Z fold-extraction configurations. The interaction of the overlapping folds is not infrequently lost, particularly, when the supply of sheets in the package runs low. Another problem resulting from these too-large dispenser openings is the exposure of the sheet material to dust, dirt and other impurities in the atmosphere. This problem has been minimized to some extent by resort to plastic coverings for the dispenser opening whereby the sheet material is extracted through an opening provided by the plastic material. This, of course, involves an additional operation and additional cost.
Still another problem in present sheet material dispensers is the general limitation in the external geometry thereof to a longitudinal length of slightly longer than that of the enclosed sheet material and a lateral width commensurate with that of the sheet material subsequent to folding according to the C, S or Z configuration.
An additional limitation on some sheet material dispensing packages is the necessity to restrict the opening for withdrawing individual sheets therefrom to the top of the'package when laid flat. This imposes a restriction on the use of such packages largely to a horizontal position. Such packages or dispensers cannot suitably be mounted in a vertical position where this is desired, e.g., in or on a wall or cabinet inan upright position,
unless springs or other means are used in the dispenser to maintain the tissues or other sheet material in a vertical position.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the present invention a unique method is provided for associating and folding sheet material such as tissues, napkins and towels. The invention also is directed to dispensers containing sheet material associated and interfolded in the manner described herein. The sheet material dispensers of this invention are either disposable packages or nondisposable packages which are resupplied with refill packages having disposable containers.
The method of associating and interfolding sheet material, preferably paper stocks, according to this invention involves a series of longitudinal and transverse folds whereby successive sheets are interconnected for serial dispensing. A detailed description of the steps of this method is set forth below.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a means of associating and folding flexible sheet material by a unique process.
It is a further object of this invention to provide dispensers of packaged sheet material associated and folded according to the process of this invention.
A still further object of this invention is to provide package dispensers of sheet material wherein accessory elements such as springs, control plates, serrated blades and the like are eliminated and the dispensers may be positioned and used in any orientation, for example, vertically, horizontally or upside down.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide package dispensers of sheet material for extraction of individual or plural sheets wherein the shape of the dispenser may be varied without limitation based on the length or width of the individual sheets and wherein the aperture or apertures ofsaid dispensers for extraction of said sheets may have a variety of geometrical configurations.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a plan view of successive steps A-K involved in the association and folding of sheet material in one embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 2 is also a plan view of successive steps A-J the association and folding of sheet material in another embodiment of the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The method of associating and folding sheet material in one embodiment of this invention is shown in steps A-K in FIG. I. In this embodiment, a series of ll steps involving six sheets of material completes one cycle of the sheet material associating and folding operation. The process according to this illustration will be described in connection with facial tissue, as the sheet material which may be one or two ply thick.
EXAMPLE 1 Referring to FIG. 1, the first step A in the associating and folding process involves placing a sheet of facial tissue 1 of substantially rectangular configuration on a flat or horizontal plane surface with the longitudinal axis running in a right-left direction and the transverse axis running perpendicular thereto. In step B, a second sheet of tissue 2 is placed atop the first sheet in such manner that the upper and lowerlongitudinal edges of the two sheets are parallel and the rightlateral edge of sheet 2 bisects sheet I and the left lateral edge of sheet 1 underlies the transverse axis of sheet 2. The upper halves of sheets I and 2 are then folded longitudinally atop the lower halves thereof as shown in step C. In step D, a third sheet of tissue 3 is placed atop the overfolded halves of sheet 2 with the lower edges parallel and with the right lateral edge of sheet 3 abutting the left lateral edge of the top half of overfolded sheet 1. In step E, a fourth sheet of tissue 4 is placed atop sheet 3 and overfolded sheet 1 bisecting each, with the lower edges of sheets I, 3 and 4 being parallel. The right half of overfolded sheet 1 is then folded transversely to the left over the right lateral edge of the lower half of sheet 4 covering the lower right quadrant thereof as shown in step F. The next step involves folding the upper halves of sheets 3 and 4 longitudinally over the lower halves thereof and the overfolded quadrant of sheet I as shown in step G. In step H, a fifth sheet of tissue 5 is laid atop the overfolded upper right quadrant of sheet 4 (which now covers the transversely folded portion of sheet I); the lower half of the left lateral edge of sheet 5 is positioned against the right lateral edge of overfolded sheet 3 and its lower edge parallel that of sheet 3. In step I, a sixth sheet of tissue 6 is then placed atop sheet 5 and overfolded sheet 3 bisecting each while maintaining the lower edges parallel. The left half of overfolded sheet 3 is then folded transversely to the right over the left lateral edge of the lower half of sheet 6 covering the lower left quadrant thereof as shown in step J. The final step in the cycle involves folding the upper halves of sheets 5 and 6 longitudinally over the lower halves thereof and the overfolded quadrant of sheet 3 as shown in step K. From step K, the tissue associating and folding process continues as previously from step C until a package of the desired number of tissues is produced as, for example, by automatic counting means.
Although in the preceding embodiment, successively placed tissues were positioned in such manner that their lateral edges bisected and were themselves bisected by the lateral edges of underlying tissues, it is within the purview of and, hence, a part of this invention to place successive tissues so that their lateral edges are off center, either to the right or left, of the midlines of underlying tissues. Moreover, while in the above example single longitudinal and lateral folds are exemplified, it is within the purview of this invention to make more than one longitudinal and lateral fold at these steps of the process.
EXAMPLE 2 An alternative procedure for associating and folding sheet material according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 2. In this embodiment, a series of 10 steps involving four sheets of material completes one cycle of the operation by elimination of two sheets of material from the operation shown in FIG. 1 and described in example I.
Referring to FIG. 2, steps A through C are identical to the same steps in FIG. 1. However, in this embodiment overfolded sheet 2 (in step C) is then folded transversely to the right over the lateral left edge of sheet 1 to overlie the left half thereof as shown in step D. In step E, a third sheet of tissue 3 is placed atop the transversely folded quadrant of sheet 2 with the lower edge parallel thereto and the lower half of the right lateral edge parallel to the right lateral edge of sheet 2. The overfolded sheet 1 is then folded transversely to the left to cover the lower right quadrant of sheet 3 as shown in step F. The upper half of sheet 3 is then folded longitudinally over the lower half thereof and over transversely folded sheet 1 as shown in step G. In step H, a fourth sheet of tissue 4 is placed atop the right half of overfolded sheet 3 with lower edges parallel. The left half of overfolded sheet 3 is then folded transversely to the right over the lower left quadrant of sheet 4 as shown in step I. The final step in the cycle involves folding the upper half of sheet 4 longitudinally over the lower half thereof and over transversely folded sheet 3. From step J, the tissue associating and folding process continues as previously from step D. As in the preceding embodiment described in example I, successively placed tissues can be laid so that their lateral edges are either to right or left of the midlines of underlying tissues and all tissues may be folded more than once.
Upon completion of the tissue-associating and folding process, a stack of the desired number of tissues are packaged in dispensers therefor. The dispensers herein constitute boxlike receptacles which may be of disposable material such as flexible plastic or cardboard or, optionally and additionally, receptacles made of wood, metal, ceramic or other material adapted for permanent usage and structured to receive refill packages of sheet material associated and folded as described in the above embodiments and packaged in disposable material. In either case, the dispensers provided herein may have a variety of configurations both externally and internally and the extraction apertures thereof may conform to numerous geometrical configurations. In general, the preferred configurations of the dispensers herein are substantially rectangular with varying external dimensions according to the number of longitudinal and transverse folds performed in the sheet associating and folding process described above. In general, smaller sheet dispensers, such as pocket-size or purse-size dispensers for facial tissue, are provided by the process embodiment shown in FIG. 2 and described in example 2. Larger sized dispensers are more suitably provided by the process embodiment shown in FIG. 1 and described in example 1.
Special forms of sheet material dispensers are also provided by clustering disposable refill packages of, for example, facial tissue together inside of a single, nondisposable, permanenttype dispenser which may be rectangular, ovular, circular, or other shape and have a plurality of extraction apertures on the top, bottom and/or sides of said permanent-type dispenser. For example, two stacks of facial tissue associated and folded according to either process embodiment described above may be placed suitably, but not necessarily in disposable plastic packages, side by side, back to back or end to end, then inserted into either a disposable cardboard or permanent-type metal tissue dispenser oriented in a vertical or horizontal position and having two tissue extraction apertures situated opposite each stack of tissues according to their arrangement inside the metal dispenser. Thus, two stacks of facial tissue placed back to back inside a metal dispenser oriented vertically and provided with tissue extraction apertures on opposite sides to receive the top or leading tissue from each stack, permits alternate or simultaneous serial dispensing of tissues from two sides of the metal dispenser. This procedure may be repeated with any desired number of stacks of tissue in any desired arrangement thereof vis-a-vis each other inside of a nondisposable, permanent-type dispenser oriented vertically, horizontally or at any angle. In the case of dispensers which are ovular, elliptical or circular in external configurations, it may be necessary to provide guidebars or other lateral and end supports for unpackaged sheets of tissues. However, this provision is generally unnecessary when the stacks of tissue are packaged in disposable wrappers, container or other enveloping packages.
As mentioned above, the sheet material dispensers according to this invention may have one or a plurality of sheet material extraction or dispensing apertures which may have a variety of geometrical configurations and sizes. It is an advantage of the dispensers packaged with sheet material associated and folded according to the above process embodiments, that the sheet material extraction apertures may be large enough to insert the hand into for extraction of a single sheet or a plurality of sheets without resort to springs, weights, control plates or other means to assure frictional contact and ready accessibility of successive sheets of material, particularly when the supply thereof runs low. Such larger openings in these dispensers may be provided by plastic covering means, as known and practiced in the art, to provide a measure of protection from atmospheric impurities and also assist in supporting protruding sheets for ready grasping. A further advantage of the packaged dispensers according to this invention is the use of sheet material extraction apertures which, for esthetic and/or functional purposes, may conform to or contrast with the external geometry and spacial orientation of the dispenser itself. Thus, the dispensing aperture may be circular, ovular, elliptical, square, rectangular, sinusoidal or other shape and may vary in size from a small fraction to a sizable portion of the dispenser surface having the dispensing aperture. An ancillary advantage of this flexibility in dispensing aperture sizes is the ability to fashion apertures having esthetic designs such as hearts, flowers, trains, airplanes, animals, ships, etc., having particular appeal to children. A further ancillary advantage accruing from the use of smaller apertures is the ability to preruffle sheet material, particularly paper tissues, towels and napkins, where this is desired. in making the dispensing aperture sufficiently small, while yet large enough for comfortable extraction, the process of unfolding and extracting a sheet of tissue against the friction of other interfolded sheets and against the aperture edges preruffles the extracted tissue.
A still further advantage of the sheet material dispensers of this invention is that because of the particularly secure method of associating and folding the sheet material stock described above, failures to lift up or popup succeeding sheets of material into position when one is extracted, as sometimes happens with sheet material associated and folded in the familiar C, S and Z configurations, are essentially eliminated.
While the invention has been shown and described with reference to several embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited solely to the various arrangements shown and described and that further modifications and variations can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
What I claim is:
l. A method of producing packageable stacks of interfolded sheet material which comprises in sequence:
a. placing a first sheet of material on a flat surface;
b. placing a second sheet of material atop said first sheet so that the right lateral edge of the second sheet approximately bisects the first sheet and the left lateral edge of the first sheet approximately bisects the second sheet;
c. folding the upper halves of said first and second sheets longitudinally atop the lower halves thereof;
d. placing a third sheet of material atop the overfolded half of said second sheet which is thereby covered by the lower right quadrant of said third sheet, the right lateral edge of which abuts the left lateral edge of the top half of overfolded said first sheet;
e. placing a fourth sheet of material atop said third sheet and overfolded said first sheet to approximately bisect each;
f. folding the right half of said overfolded first sheet transversly to the left over the lower right quadrant of said fourth sheet;
g. folding the upper halves of said third and fourth sheets longitudinally over the lower halves thereof and over said transversly folded first sheet;
h. placing a fifth sheet of material atop the overfolded half of said fourth sheet which is thereby covered by the lower left quadrant of said fifth sheet;
i. placing a sixth sheet of material atop said fifth sheet and overfolded said third sheet to approximately bisect each;
j. folding the left half of said overfolded third sheet transversly to the right over the lower left quadrant of said sixth sheet;
k. folding the upper halves of said fifth and sixth sheets longitudinally over the lower halves thereof and over said transversly folded third sheet; and
l. continuing the sheet material associating and folding operation by repeating the process of step (d) and subsequent steps.
2. Method according to claim 1 wherein successively placed sheets of material are positioned so that their lateral edges overlying previously placed sheets of material are off center of the midlines of said previously placed sheets of material.
3. Method according to claim 1 wherein said sheet material comprises paper stock.
4. A method of producing packageable stacks of interfolded sheet material which comprises in sequence:
a. placing a first sheet of material on a flat surface;
b. placing a second sheet of material atop said first sheet so that the right lateral edge of the second sheet ap roximately bisects the first s eet and the left lateral e ge of the first sheet approximately bisects the second sheet;
c. folding the upper halves of said first and second sheets longitudinally atop the lower halves thereof;
. folding the left half of said overfolded second sheet transversly to the right over the left half of overfolded said first sheet;
e. placing a third sheet of material atop said transversly folded second sheet which is thereby covered by the lower right quadrant of said third sheet;
f. folding the right half of said overfolded first sheet transversly to the left over the lower right quadrant of said third sheet;
g. folding the upper half of said third sheet longitudinally atop the lower half thereof and over said transversly folded first sheet;
h. placing a fourth sheet of material atop said overfolded third sheet which is thereby covered by the lower left quadrant of said fourth sheet;
i. folding the left half of said overfolded third sheet transversly to the right over the lower left quadrant of said fourth sheet;
j. folding the upper half of said fourth sheet longitudinally atop the lower half thereof and over said transversly folded third sheet; and
k. continuing the sheet material associating and folding operation by repeating the process of step (e) and subsequent steps.
5. Method according to claim 4 wherein successively placed sheets of material are positioned so that their lateral edges overlying previously placed sheets of material are off center of the midlines of said previously placed sheets of material.
6. Method according to claim 4 wherein said sheet material comprises paper stock.