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Publication numberUS3802592 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 9, 1974
Filing dateMay 26, 1972
Priority dateMay 26, 1972
Publication numberUS 3802592 A, US 3802592A, US-A-3802592, US3802592 A, US3802592A
InventorsWheaton F
Original AssigneeWheaton Industries
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Compartmented tray
US 3802592 A
Abstract
A tray is provided having a plurality of compartments therein, for receiving articles therein, with facility for stacking the trays directly upon articles seated in another tray.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Wheaton, III

COMPARTMENTED TRAY Frank H. Wheaton, Ill, Millville, NJ.

Wheaten Industries, Inc., Millville, NJ.

Filed: May 26, 1972 Appl. No.1 257,193

Inventor:

Assignee:

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Chadbourne 229 25 Apr. 9, 1974 3,337,081 8/1967 Earp 220/21 3,421,649 1/1969 Waller 220/21 3,649,464 3/1972 Freeman.... 220/21 3,335,894 8/1967 Laird 220/21 3,009,291 11/1961 Blackmore 220/23.4 3,509,993 5/1970 Michel 220/21 3,391,815 7/1968 Box 220/21 2,965,226 12/1960 Ettlinger, Jr... 217/26 3,497,102 2/1970 Bessett et a1 217/26.5

Primary Examiner-William l. Price Assistant Examiner-Stephen Marcus Att0rney,'Agent, 0r Firm-Paul & Paul 57 ABSTRACT A tray is provided having a plurality of compartments therein, for receiving articles therein, with facility for stacking the trays directly upon articles seated in another tray.

9 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEUAPR 91914 SHEEI I. [If 2 BACKGROUND THE INVENTION Various types of trays have been provided in the past, for containing articles therein in compartments, but such have generally been constructed of cardboard, paper mache or the like, and lend themselves to various types of problems, in their use. For example, such are not resistent to water, moisture and the like, and thus they tend to sag when stored in a moist environment. Furthermore, dimensions between the various compartments often cannot be precisely controlled, thus causing stacking difficulties. Furthermore, in paper, cardboard and the like types of trays, if such become subject to water, there is a potential for bacterial growth, which can be a significant problem when medicines, food or the like: are to be stored in containers being packaged in the trays. Also, in use of paper mache, cardboard and the like types of compartmented. trays, principally because of .the difficulties of maintaining tolerances and dimensional standards, problems may be encountered in automatic handling and ma.- chine processing of the trays. Even further, cost considerations become important, particularly as the supply of forestry becomes diminished, causing a consequent reduction in the supply of available material for making cardboard, paper mache, and other trays utilizing natural fibers. Also, such prior art types of trays require substantial wall thicknesses, in order to maintain strength, thereby cutting into the available storage space for articles to be shipped within'the trays.

THE PRESENT INVENTION The present invention is directed toward overcoming the above and other difficulties with prior art trays, and their manufacture, in providing a tray of synthetic manufac ture, preferably made of an expanded polystyrene, capable of being manufactured without the formation of dust, as may be encountered with fibrous type of tray manufacture, and wherein the present invention is capable of providing a sterile package at the time of manufacture. Besides alleviating the contamination problem, the tray of the present manufacture utilizes integrally formed'partition or separator members, formed of configurations to provide a high degree of strength as well as cushioning, that are constructed for the compartments to be close together without permitting articles contained 'within the compartments to touch or scrape each other. The container or tray, because of its shape, as well as its dimensional precision and stability, lends itself toward use with automatic loading or packaging equipment. Also, by making the tray of a synthetic material such as expanded polystyrene, such is not subjected to bacterial formation, or to water absorption as are paper, cardboard trays or the like. Also, the trays of this invention are constructed to maximize cushioning, without having partition members of excessive bulk that take up undesirable volumes of space that may otherwise by usable for containment of articles to be carried within the trays. Furthermore, the

tray may be chemicallysterilized. Also, the tray of this invention is light in weight, but rigid in construction, as well as reusable, and inexpensive to manufacture, as compared with paperboard types of trays. It also lends itself toward stacking.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is directed toward providing a molded multi-compartment tray of unitary one-piece construction, for maintaining articles in spaced relation, wherein projections are provided on one face of a base member of the tray, with interfitments also being provided on the base member, either on the same face as that having the projections, or on an opposite face thereof. The interfitments are adapted to facilitate optional upright or inverted containment of articles, such as containers within compartments of the tray, or are adapted to facilitate stacking of one tray of articles upon the other.

Accordingly, it isan object of this invention to provide a tray of novel construction.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a tray adapted for receiving articles either in upright or inverted position. 1

It is another object of this invention-to provide a tray adapted for containing articles in compartments thereof, and. adapted for stacking of the tray onto articles contained within another tray disposed therebeneath. j I

Other objects and advantages of the present invention willbecome readily apparent to those skilled in the art from a reading of the following brief descriptions of the drawing figures, detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiments, and the appended claims.

. BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OFTHE DRAWING FIGURES FIG. 1 is a top plan view of one from of tray, in accordance with thisinvention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged transverse sectional view, taken generally along the line II-'-II of FIG. 1, and wherein two fragmentary tray portions are illustrated, one disposed above the other, with containers carried in the trays being illustrated in phantom, for illustrating the stacking capabilities of the tray of this invention.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of another tray in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of thetray of FIG. '3, taken generally along the line IV-IV of FIG. 3. I

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary plan view of yet another tray, in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 6 is a sectionalview of the tray of FIG. 5, taken generally along the line VI-VI of FIG. 5.

Referringto the drawings in detail, reference is'first made to FIG. I, wherein a tray generally designated by the numeral 10 is provided, of expanded polystyrene construction. In constructing a tray, in accordance with this invention, polystyrene may be heated, or steamed, as desired, whereby, generally polystyrene pellets become expanded in volume, into a type of foam which becomes rigid, and which may be molded into an integral construction, such as that of the tray 10 of FIG. 1.

Accordingly, the tray 10'of FIG. 1 is thus molded as an integral one-piece construction of expanded polystyrene. The tray 10 comprises a base member 11, of generally solid flat sheet form, and has a plurality of solid upstanding or outward projections 12 emanating from a first or upward face 13 of the base member 11, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The'projections 12 are each of cross-shaped section, as may be seen in the plan illustration of FIG. 1, or such may be construed to be X- shaped in section each with four legs as viewed in plan in FIG. 1, for example. It will be apparent that the projections 12 are not connected together, but that four such projections taken together, define a generally rectangular compartment 14. Each compartment 14 is adapted to receive an article therein, preferably a container such as a glass bottle, of circular, rectangular, cross section or the like, but it will be apparent, that with the configurations illustrated for the projections 12, the containers may have circular configurations, and that adjacent containers, in adjacent compartments 14 would not touch each other, and if such containers were rectangular in configuration, such would be securely seated within the rectangular compartment formed by the projections 12. It will be noted that the projections 12 are adapted for seating articles, such as glass tubes, bottles or the like,.generally only at the lower ends, although such projections 12 may be sufficiently high to fully seat bottles such as 15 orthe like throughout their length, if desired.

With reference to FIG. 2, it will be apparent that an interfitment 16 is provided, protruding from beneath each compartment 14, with each such interfitment 16 being generally circular in construction, as is illustrated by the dotted line in configurations illustrated in plan in FIG. 1. However, such interfitments 16 may be of any other desired construction compatible with being received within an open top of a container 15 or like article received within a tray compartment 14, as illustrated in FIG. 2. It will be noted that the term interfitment is intended to encompass not only projections such as that 16, but even recesses as will be disclosed hereinafter, with respect to other embodiments of this invention.

It will further be noted that in the illustration of FIG. 1, as well as in other illustrations, all compartments and projections, as well as interfittments of a given tray are not fully illustrated, in order to avoid unnecessary repetition, and duplication, as well as comprising a drafting expedient.

Also, it will be noted that those projections indicated by the numeral 12 are referred to as being interior projections, as distinguished from exterior projections 17, that are disposed about the periphery of the tray 10, with such exterior projections not generally being constructed to comprise a complete cross or X- shaped configuration, in order to facilitate saving of material and space where such configurations are not necessary. Furthermore, it will be understood, in accordance with this invention, that while cross or X-shaped configurations for the projections are preferred, such are not essential, in that rectangular, triangular, circular shaped projections may also be utilized, if desired, although such may not afford the desired cushioning and strength to the extent that the cross-shaped projections do. I

It will also be noted that a spacing lip 18 is provided, extending from the lower face 20 of the base member 1 1, with the lip 18 extending entirely about the periphery of the tray 10, for facilitating a seating of the tray 10 on the lip 18, when the tray 10 is not disposed upon other articles, but upon a flat plane, surface or the like, and with the lip 18 also providing a strengthening function for the tray 10. It can be seen,'particularly with reference to FIG. 2, that fragile articles, such as glass tubes, bottles or the like, such as small medicine bottles, may be carefully packaged in stacked relation, as illustrated, with open tops of the bottles of one stack in engagement with lower protruding interfitments 16, for nesting alignment of various stacks, and for maintaining upper ends of the bottles 15 spaced apart one from the other, just as the lower ends are spaced apart by use of the projections 12 of a next lowermost tray. Thus, a plurality of trays, each containing a great number of articles, such as glassware or the like may be disposed within a box, all carefully spaced and cushioned, one from the other, for shipping purposes. In the alternative, one or more trays may, with the glassware or other articles contained therein, be wrapped with a heat shrinkable plastic wrap, if desired, which may also be transparent (not illustrated) for keeping the articles, such as the bottles 15, in dust-free sterile condition, during shipment from one location to another, or even during storage.

With reference to FIG. 3, another tray 30 is illustrated, comprising a base member 31, with cross or X- shaped projections 32 emanating from an upper surface 33 thereof, and with interfitments 34 of the recess type, being disposed within the lower surface of face 35, opposite to the face 33. It will be noted that the projections 32 are of a slightly different configuration, than that illustrated in plan for the embodiment of FIG. 1 but that nevertheless such are X-shaped or crossshaped in plan, or in plan section. The basic difference between the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4 on one hand, as opposed to that of FIGS. 1 and 2 on the other, is that the interfitments 34 are recessed in the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4. Thus, in the use of the trays 30, for stacking purposes, to accommodate bottles, articles, or the like, it will be apparent that the upper ends of the articles would be received within the recesses or interfitments 34. Furthermore, while such recesses 34 are illustrated as being circular in configuration, it would be apparent that such may be of any desired configuration, compatible with the configuration of the article, the upper end of which is to be received therein, as may be desired.

Another difference between the tray of FIGS. 3 and 4, and that of FIGS. 1 and 2, is that the tray 30 is constructed having sections, such as the four different sections 35, 36, 37 and 38, all integral in construction, and having a hole or relief 40 at the geometric center thereof.

With reference to FIG. 4, it will be seen that the spacing lip 41, surrounding each section of the tray such as that 35 and 36, is provided with upper and lower preformed score lines 42 and 43, that may be constructed as V-shaped notches or the like, as illustrated in FIG. 4, or of any other construction, to facilitate the subsequent separation of the various sections 35 through 38, one from the other, if desired. It will also be apparent, that if desired, the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4 may be constructed along the lines of that in FIGS. 1 and 2, without the four different sections.

It will also be noted that the center void, hole or opening 40 may facilitate the initial integral formation of the tray 30, if desired, and may also facilitate drainage of water or the like from the tray 30, if articles disposed within the compartments 44 thereof are subjected to rinsing, or any other operation in which the same would be exposed to water or any other fluid. Particularly, if articles are to be rinsed while disposed on a tray, the provision of the opening 40 for drainage of water is highly advantageous, as well as is the uppermost V-notch or groove 42 highly desirable in providing a trough for delivery of water to the void 40.

In other respects, the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4 is generally similar to that of FIGS. 1 and 2, as is the use thereof.

With particular reference to FIGS. 5 and 6,.there is illustrated another alternative embodiment 50 of a tray of this invention, wherein the compartments 51'thereof are also defined by projections 52, of cross or X-shaped configuration, protruding from an upper face 53 of a base member 54, but wherein the interfitments 55 are of the recess type, and are disposed in the surface or face 53, centrally of eachcompartment 51 thereof. It will also be noted that such interfitments or recesses 55 are circular in nature, as will be apparent from FIG. 5. The particular embodiment of FIGS. 5 and 6 is especially desirable, in facilitating the receipt within the compartments 51 of containers, such as rectangular or circular cross-sectioned bottles or the like, having reduced necks, such that the reduced diameter portions of the bottles may be received within the recesses 55, with shoulders thereof being in engagement with surface portions 53 of the compartments, and with larger diametral portions of the bottles being in engagement with projections 52. Thus, in some instances, it may be desirable to have a capability of receiving bottles or other articles within compartments 51, wherein some of the articles would be disposed within the tray 50, in

inverted condition, and others in upright condition. In

any event, the compartment 51 and an associated recess or interfitment 55 are adapted to receiveor engage different portions of an article thatis to be associated with a given compartment 51. With reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 5 and 6, the projections 52 form compartments 51 for the same article that is received within the recess 55, but only that different portions of the article are engaged respectively by the projections, and the recess 55.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2, and of FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be noted that the projections thereof define compartments for receiving one article, whereas the interfitments (either lower projections, or recesses) of those embodiments are adapted to engage portions of yet another article, disposed against the lower side of the tray, as illustrated in FIG. 2, for example. I

From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the various objects and purposes of the present invention can be achieved, with reference to the several embodiments thereof. It will further beapparent that other de; sired endsof this invention may also be achieved. For example, by the use of expanded polystyrene, such may be burned or incinerated, to a pure ash form, thereby achieving an anti-pollution advantage. Furthermore, because of the inherent strength of the polystyrene, the outside dimensions of a given tray, for containing a given number of glass containers, for example, may be substantially reduced in size, as compared with cardboard or the equivalent types of trays. Also, when the trays are covered with a shrinkable wrap, the entire product becomes encapsulated in a dust and dirt free environment, thereby eliminating the customary cardboard powder which contaminates conventional cardboard packaging constructions.

.Also, it will be apparent from the foregoing, that various modifications may be made in the details of construction, as well as in the use and method of manufacone-piece construction, said tray comprising a generally'solid rectangular base member having generally planar surface portions on opposite faces thereof, a plurality of multi-legged solid projections extending outwardly of one said face of said base member, said projections being separate and spaced apart from each other and arranged in a geometrically repetitive pattern with at least those projections that are internal of the peripheral edges of said base member each being of X- shaped configuration in plan, withthe legs of the X- shaped projections each extending in a direction generally parallel to a peripheral edge of said base member, with said projections and adjacent planar surface portions of said base member cooperating to define a plurality of generally rectangular compartments, each adapted for receipt of an article therein, with each leg of an internal projection being adapted for engagement by a pair of articles that are disposed in adjacent compartments, and including interfitments integrally associated with said base member in a geometrically repetitive pattern, with each said interfittment being centrally located relative to a said compartment, said interfitments being of a dimension as measured perpendicular to the plane of said base member that is substantially less than the thickness of said basemember.

2. The tray of claim 1, wherein each said interfitment comprises a generally circular recess adapted for receipt of ends of articles therein, each said recess being of a smaller transverse dimension than a parallel transverse dimension across an associated said compart ment. I

3. The tray of claim 2,'wherein the recesses are disposed in the same surface of the base member having posed in an opposite surface of said base member to said surface having the projectionsthereon.

5. The tray ofclaim '1, wherein each said interfitment comprises a protrusion from the opposite surface of said base member to that having the projections thereon, wherein said protrusions are each of a transverse dimension less than a parallel transverse dimension across an associated compartment disposed thereabove.

6. The tray of claim 5, including a spacing lip disposed around the periphery of the tray on the same face as said interfitment, and projecting away from said base member beyond said interfitment.

7. The tray of claim 1, wherein said tray is constructed as a plurality of substantially identical severable sections, the sections in integral connection along common score lines.

8. The tray of claim 1, wherein each tray is of expanded poly-styrene foam construction.

9. A molded multi-compartment stacking tray for use in stacking a tray of articles for support directly upon subjacent articles disposed in another tray, wherein the stacking tray is of unitary one-piece construction, said tray comprising a generally solid rectangular base member having generally planar surface portions on opposite faces thereof, a plurality of multi-legged solid projections extending outwardly of one said face of said base member, said projections being separate and spaced apart from each other and arranged in a geometrically repetitive pattern with at least those projections that are internal of the peripheral edges of said base member each being of X-shaped configuration in plan, with the legs of the X-shaped projections each extending in a direction generally parallel to a peripheral edge of said base member, with said projections and adjacent planar surface portions of said base member cooperating to define a plurality of generally rectangular compartments, each adapted for receipt of an article therein, with each leg of an internal projection being adapted for engagement by a pair of articles that are disposed in adjacent compartments, and including interfitments integrally associated with said base member in a geometrically repetitive pattern, with each said interfitment being centrally located relative to a said compartment, wherein each said interfitment is of a smaller transverse dimension than a parallel transverse dimension across an associated said compartment, wherein said interfitments are of a dimension as measured perpendicular to the plane of said base member that is substantially less than the thickness of said base member, including a spacing lip disposed around the periphery of the tray on the same face as said interfitment, and projecting away from the base member beyond said interfitment, wherein each tray is of expanded polystyrene foam construction, and wherein each said tray is constructed as a plurality of substantially identical severable sections, the sections being in integral connection along common score lines.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4159597 *Jan 16, 1978Jul 3, 1979Illinois Tool Works Inc.Planting system including articles of manufacture
US4216621 *Dec 26, 1978Aug 12, 1980Illinois Tool Works, Inc.Planting system including articles of manufacture
US5505295 *Oct 3, 1994Apr 9, 1996Whittington; C. WendellRecycling systems and methods for oil and oil filters
US6193064 *Nov 4, 1998Feb 27, 2001J. G. Finneran Associates, Inc.Multi-tier vial plate
US6920978Jan 31, 2002Jul 26, 20053M Innovative Properties CompanyTray for transporting multiple types of flat graphic articles
US7086531Apr 26, 2001Aug 8, 2006Rehrig Pacific CompanyStackable low depth bottle case
US20010015329 *Apr 26, 2001Aug 23, 2001Rehrig-Pacific Company, Inc.Stackable low depth bottle case with integral sidewall logo
US20030141215 *Jan 31, 2002Jul 31, 2003Fischer Virginia K.Tray for transporting multiple types of flat graphic articles
DE4014454A1 *May 6, 1990Nov 7, 1991Schoeller Plast AgStapelbarer behaelter aus kunststoff zur aufnahme von gegenstaenden, insbesondere dosen
EP0850845A1 *Dec 18, 1997Jul 1, 1998Stora Kopparbergs Bergslags AktiebolagDivisible palletized load
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/23.4, 220/23.8, 217/26, 220/516, 229/406
International ClassificationB65D71/00, B65D71/70
Cooperative ClassificationB65D71/70
European ClassificationB65D71/70