US 3778096 A
The present invention relates generally to improvements in carriers or receptacles and to packages resulting from the use thereof, said carriers being of the type particularly adapted to accommodate containers such as beverage cans and the like, wherein the extremity of the container is formed with an enlargement or bead. The embodiment of the container carrier or receptacle disclosed herein includes a strip of resilient, deformable, and elastic plastic material such as polyethylene, having a plurality of container-accommodating, longitudinally and transversely aligned apertures. These apertures are intended for telescopic association with the ends of the containers so that the margins of the strip aligning said apertures may be stretched and deformed to form circumferentially continuous lips embracing said containers beneath the peripheral enlargements thereof. Transversely aligned web sections connect said circumferentially continuous strip edges in longidudinal rows, and openings are provided for rendering said web sections frangible. Certain of said openings are of greater extent than others, whereby to facilitate the ease with which a portion of the strip supporting a plurality of containers may be detached as a unit from said strip.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
llnited States Patent [191 Smith [4 Dec. 11, 1973 1 CONTAINER CARRIER AND PACKAGE I Stuart Allen Smith, Northbrook, Ill.
 Assignee: Illinois Tool Works Inc., Chicago,
22 Filed: Mar. 6, 1972 21 Appl. No.: 231,924
Primary Examiner-Evon C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-Johnny D. Cherry AttorneyRoy H. Olson et al.
 ABSTRACT The present invention relates generally to improvements in carriers or receptacles and to packages resulting from the use thereof, said carriers being of the type particularly adapted to accommodate containers such as beverage cans and the like, wherein the extremity of the container is formed with an enlargement or bead. The embodiment of the container carrier or receptacle disclosed herein includes a strip of resilient, deformable, and elastic plastic material such as polyethylene, having a plurality of containeraccommodating, longitudinally and transversely aligned apertures. These apertures are intended for telescopic association with the ends of the containers so that the margins of the strip aligning said apertures may be stretched and deformed to form circumferentially continuous lips embracing said containers beneath the peripheral enlargements thereof. Transversely aligned web sections connect said circumferentially continuous strip edges in longidudinal rows, and openings are provided for rendering said web sections frangible. Certain of said openings are of greater extent than others, whereby to facilitate the ease with which a portion of the strip supporting a plurality of containers may be detached as a unit from said strip.
1 Claim, 5 Drawing Figures CONTAINER CARRIER AND PACKAGE SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It has heretofore been common practice to merchandise beverage containers and the like in units of six, commonly referred to as six packs. Experience has shown that it is not uncommon for the customer to request a lesser or greater number of cans of beverage than six. For example, a customer may desire to purchase only two or four cans of beverage, or in some instances eight or ten cans. Container receptacles or carriers now available have not been designed to satisfy this need. It is therefore one of the important objects of the present invention to provide a unique plastic strip type carrier of the type referred to above which is so constructed that varying numbers of pairs of beverage containers may be readily separated as a unit from a container-supporting plastic strip.
More specifically, the present invention contemplates the provision of an improved apertured plastic strip type container carrier which, together with the containers supported thereby, may be transported or stored on the retailers shelf in units larger than six, the structural design of the carrier being such as to enable two or more supported containers to be readily detached from the strip.
The present invention is directed to an improved container carrier or package wherein web sections which connect the apertured containeraccommodating areas in longitudinal rows are frangible so as to greatly facilitate the ease with which carrier supported container units of different sizes may be manually separated from the strip.
In view of the fact that the six pack unit has heretofore been and still is the most popular and marketable size, the present invention contemplates a plastic strip of the type wherein six carrier supported beverage containers may be more readily separated as a unit from the strip than the detachable units which are of smaller size.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The foregoing and other objects and advantages will be more apparent from the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a plurality of containers or cans supported by a carrier which is representative of one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary plan view of the sheet plastic carrier before said carrier is telescopically associated with a plurality of containers;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of six of the containers and associated carrier illustrated in FIG. 1, with four of the containers supported by the carrier and two of the containers supported by a carrier section separated from the carrier section supporting the four containers;
FIG. 4 is a plan view similar to FIG. 3 illustrating the manner in which a section of the carrier supporting two containers may be detached as a unit from a six pack; and
FIG. 5 illustrates the manner in which the supported carriers may be manipulated or tilted to separate one carrier section from another.
DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawing more in detail wherein like numerals have been employed to designate similar parts throughout the various figures, it will be seen that FIG. I is a perspective view disclosing a unit of ten containers supported in longitudinal and transverse alignment, said unit being designated generally by the numeral 10. The containers or cans I2 embody a conventional enlargement or bead 14 at each extremity thereof. The containers 12 forming the unit 10 are supported by a plastic carrier strip or sheet 16. The carrier strip 16 is best illustrated in FIG. 2, before said strip has been associated with the containers 12. The strip 16 is preferably formed from plastic sheet material which is resilient, deformable, and elastic. The strip 16 is provided with a purality of container-accommodating apertures 18 which are disposed in longitudinal and transverse alignment.
It will be noted that the edge of the strip material 16 defining each of the apertures 18 is circumferentially continuous and uninterrupted. The peripheral measurement of each aperture is less than the peripheral measurement of the containers 12, so that when the apertured receptacle or carrier is telescopically associated with the enlarged ends of the containers I2, material adjacent the apertures is stretched and deformed to form circumferentially continuous lips 20 (FIG. 5) embracing the containers beneath the beads 14 and resiliently gripping the peripheral surfaces of the containers. Reference is made to US. Pat. No. 3,086,651 for a more detailed explanation of the functional and structural characteristics of the container-embracing lip 20.
As previously mentioned, six-pack container supporting carriers or receptacles have been and are still in common use. Experience has shown that in many instances the customer requests containers in greater or lesser amounts than six. To satisfy this requirement, applicant has provided the carrier strip 16, which as illustrated in FIG. 1 is capable of supporting at least six, eight or 10 containers as a single portable unit. Transversely aligned web sections 22 serve to connect the circumferentially continuous strip edges or lips 20 in longitudinal rows, and web sections 24 serve to connect said continuous strip edges transversely with respect to said rows. Apertures 26 disposed longitudinally of the strip 16 provide finger-accommodating handle means to facilitate transporting of the receptacle and containers supported thereby.
Particular attention is now directed to the manner in which the carrier strip may be severed to provide container-carrying units of different sizes. For purposes of illustration, the conventional six-pack portion of the unit 10 is includes within a bracked A, FIG. 1. Likewise, in FIG. 2, the corresponding portion of the strip 16 is included within the bracket A. The web sections 22 at each extremity of the strip portion A are provided with transversely aligned openings in the form of slots or slits 28. These openings 28 traverse a substantial portion of the web section in which they are formed. Thus, the opposite extremities of each slit 28 terminate closely adjacent the opposed margins of its associated web section 22. The web sections 22 positioned intermediate the above-mentioned openings 28 are provided with severances or slits 30 of abbreviated extent. It will be noted that the inner extremity of each of the slits 30 terminates a substantial distance from the internal margin of its respective web sections 22, while the opposite extremity terminates immediately adjacent the outer margin of said web.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that in order to detach two or more supported containers from the strip 16 it is only necessary to relatively shift or tilt one container with respect to the other, as illustrated in FIG. 5. The presence of the above-mentioned openings 28 and 30 render their complementary web sections 22 sufficiently frangible to enable the detachment of one unit with respect to another unit. By providing each of the web sections 22 with transversely aligned openings or slits combined carrier and container units of varying sizes may be detached from the strip. In view of the fact that customers often request a six-pack unit, the openings or slits 28 are considerably more extensive than slits 30, thereby materially increasing the frangibility of the web, to facilitate the ease with which a carrier strip may be separated into six-pack units. In order not to impair the required strength of the web sections 22 connecting the intermediate pair of container carrier sections with the oppositely disposed outer pairs of container carrier sections, the extensiveness of the openings or slits 30 is considerably restricted. However, the extensiveness of the openings 30 is sufficient to permit manual separation of a unit of two or a unit of four, as illustrated in FIG. 3, by simply tilting one supported container with respect to the other and exerting an increase in separation force. Likewise, as shown in FIG. 4, a two-container unit may be detached from a six-pack unit.
With the above-described container receptacle or carrier arrangement, wherein all of the longitudinally disposed web sections are provided with transverse openings, the ease with which the customers requirements may be satisfied is greatly facilitated. Likewise, by providing openings of increased size at the opposite extremities of three pairs of longitudinally connected container-embracing lips, it is possible to supply sixpack units without the potential hazard of unintentional separation from the strip stock of individual containers supported thereby. In practice, as illustrated for example in U. S. Pat. No. 3,383,828, apertured strip stock may be fed from a supply roll and automatically assembled with containers. Hence, the present invention contemplates a container receptacle or carrier which may be telescopically assembled with a predetermined number of containers and which may thereafter be separated into units, each supporting a predetermined and varying number of containers. Thus, the present invention contemplates a multiple container carrier which may be retained as a unit or package under all normal conditions of handling and transport, and yet easily broken down by the purchaser or store clerk into selected pairs of containers in the form of a package.
l. A receptacle for retaining in side-by-side substantially abutting and parallel relation a plurality of containers or the like having peripheral enlargements at one end, comprising a substantially unsupported elongate strip of plastic material, said elongate strip of plastic material being resilient, deformable, and elastic and having a plurality of container accommodating longitudinally and transversely aligned container encircling bands, each of said bands having an inner peripheral measurement less than the peripheral measurement of the container to be accommodated thereby, the material at the inner edge of each band being circumferentially continuous and uninterrupted, the bands in the strip being intended for telescopic association with the ends of the containers whereby upon engagement of the strip and containers the material adjacent the inner periphery of the bands is stretched and deformed to form circumferentially continuous lips embracing said containers beneath said peripheral enlargements and resiliently gripping said containers, first web sections integrally interconnecting the transversely adjacent bands in pairs in said strip, transversely aligned pairs of second web sections integrally interconnecting the adjacent outer peripheral edges of adjacent pairs of said bands in longitudinal rows, said transversely aligned pairs of second web sections all being of substantially the same length measured transversely of said strip, with the space between the second web sections of each pair of second web sections defining transversely aligned finger gripping apertures, said second web sections having transversely aligned slit openings, first certain of said slit openings being of a substantial length with the unslit portions of said second web sections at each end thereof being of substantially the same length measured transversely of said second web section to render said strip readily frangible transversely across by certain opposite longitudinally directed separating forces, a plurality of second certain of said slit openings between said first certain slit openings being of a length substantially smaller than said first certain slit openings, and said second certain slit openings being positioned in said second web sections substantially adjacent the transversely outward edges of said second web sections with the remaining portions of said second web sections which are disposed transversely inwardly of said strip at each end of said finger gripping apertures having a remaining length sufficient to substantially render said inward portions relatively infrangible to said certain opposite longitudinally directed separating forces, but frangible by opposite outward twisting forces on two longitudinally adjacent containers to which said strip is applied.