US 3809278 A
A collapsible rectangular shipping container having a base assembly, four side members and a cover. The container has an erect position for containing goods and a collapsed position in which the component parts are not free to become separated from each other and in which the container may be conveniently stored or transported. The container may be quickly and easily converted between the two positions by hand.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[ May 7,1974
United States Patent 1191 Csumri COLLAPSIBLE SHIPPING CONTAINER MMWMMNUH mmlmlzlm 1/1960 Richter..
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 Filed: Dec. 21, 1971  Appl. No.: 210,531
Primary Examiner-George E. Lowrance ABSTRACT A collapsible rectangular shipping container having a base assembly, four side members'and a cover. The
 US. 220/4 F, 217/13, 217/69,
22O/7 220/81 R container has an erect position for containing goods III. 865d 7/24, 7/30 and a collapsed position in the component parts  new of Search are not free to become separated from each other and in which the container may be conveniently stored or transported. The container may be quickly and easily 220/4 F, 6, 7, 81 R; 217/12, 15, 43 R,.43 A, 65, 69
 References Cited converted between the two positions by hand.
UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,205,418 11/1916 220/4 F 1 Claim, 9 Drawing Figures III:
SHEET 3 [IF 4 PATENTEDIAY 7 1914 SHEET R [If 4 COLLAPSIBIJE SHIPPING CONTAINER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In the past collapsible shipping containers had the disadvantage that they were not easily collapsed and reassembled. Often tools were required to be used by persons familar with the containers, resulting in delay,
inconvenience and higher cost ofusing the containers.
In addition, shipping containers which were assembled using nails orscrews could be used only a relatively small number of times before they badly deteriorated which also addedto thecost of using them. These early collapsible containers=had the additional problem that in the collapsed position the component parts were often separated and occasionally lost, with resulting difficulty in reassembling the containers.
More recently, these disadvantages have been overcome to some extent by the use of shipping containers which may be collapsed and reassembled by hand. However, some of thesecontainers still have the disadvantage that when they are stored or' shipped in a collapsed position, the parts frequently become separated and lost. While these-containers are less expensiveand inconvenient to use in thatthey can be collapsed and assembled by hand, they are still unsatisfactory in that they are not designed to be opened from any one side to facilitate loading-or unloading goods shipped in the container. Furthermore,these containers do not satisfactorily combine sufficient strength and durability to enable them to be used a large number of times with lightweight and low manufacturing "costs. Another problem with these containers is that occasional exposure to the elements while loaded has resulted in damage to the contents because the containers are not sufficiently weatherproof.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to at least partially overcome these disadvantages by providing a relatively strong durable inexpensive collapsible container which may be manually converted between the erect and the collapsed .positions and in which collapsed position the component parts are not free to become separated from each other.
To this end, in one of its aspects, the invention provides a collapsible rectangular container comprising a base assembly, four side members and a cover adapted to be converted between erect and collapsed positions the base assembly being defined by four vertical outer edges, the length of the longest outer edge of the base assembly being at least as great as the width and height of each side member, the side members each being pivotally engaged to the base assembly adjacent a respective outer edge of the base assembly and nestably abutting with adjacent side members in the erect position, each side member having complemental means adapted to interconnect the side members to retain them in the erect position, the cover having a continuous skirt formed of four vertical side portions, the skirt being adapted to encompass an upper portion of the side members in the erect position and the outer edges of the base in the collapsed position.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a collapsible container in the erect position according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is aperspective view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1, in apartially assembled or partially collapsed position,
'FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. -1 in the-collapsed position;
FIG. 4 is a broken sectional view taken along line -'IV'IV of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 shows aportion of the view seen in FIG. 4 in a partially assembled or partially collapsed position located on page with FIG. -1);
FIG. 6 is a partial sectional view taken'along line VI-VI in FIG. 4 showing a vertical corner of the'container in the erect position (located on page with FIG. 1
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a section of the weatherstrip seen in location in FIG. 6 (located on page with FIG. 3.);
FIG. 8 is a partial sectional view taken along line VIII-VIII in FIG. 4; and
FIG. 9 is a sectional .view "taken along line IX-'IX in FIG. 4. I a
p DESCRIPTION OF THEIPREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referenceis first made to FIG. 1 which shows a rect- I angular collapsible container 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention having a base assembly 12, four side members 14 and a cover 16.In the embodiment shown, the cover 16 is square and the four side members 14 are identical, although the container may equally as well have a rectangular cover and two pairs of identical side members. The height of each side member 14 must not be greater than its width, so that the container may be converted to the collapsed position shown in FIG. 3, with all of the side members 14 located one on top of the other on the base assembly 12 within the cover 16. In this collapsed position the containers may be vertically stacked for convenient storage and take up little space with no danger of the component parts becoming separated during storage or shipping.
First describing the structure of the base assembly 12, FIGS. land 4 show the base assembly 12 is' formed with a square outer frame 18 enclosing an inner panel assembly 20 supported by parallel skids 22. The square frame 18 is formed in turn of four identical longitudinal extrusions 24 which are welded together at their ends to form mitered corners. As best seen in FIG. 4, each longitudinal extrusion 24 has a flat vertical outer edge 26 which extends upward into an inwardly projecting lip 28 to define an inwardly opening groove 30. Each longitudinal extrusion 24 also has a vertical flange 32 extending upward from its upper surface 34 to a height trusions 24 are rigidly connected together to form the frame 18, the grooves 30 and troughs 36 interconnect at their ends to form a continuous groove and continuous trough around the entire length of the frame 18. The panel assembly consists of a flat sheet 38 supported above two identically fluted sheets 39, 40. The fluted sheets are located with all the flutes 41 parallel to each other, but with the upper fluted sheet 39 inverted over the lower fluted sheet in an oppositely fluted construction. The flat upper sheet 38 provides a floor for the container and the oppositely fluted construction of the fluted sheets 39, 40 provides high strength-necessary to support the contents of the container combined with light weight which is desirable in a shipping container. The edges of the panel assembly 20 are retained in their position within the longitudinal extrusions 24 by the ends of the extrusions being connected together to form the frame 18, although the sheets may be additionally spot welded to the frame to make them more secure. The'skids 22 extend transversely to the flutes 41 in the fluted sheets 39 40 and are welded at their ends to opposite sides of the frame 18 and between their ends to the lower fluted sheets 40. The skids 22 have open spaces 42 between them and coinciding transverse openings 44 through them so that the base assembly forms a pallet under which the forks FIG. 6. In this position the mouth 68 of each T-shaped channel 66 opens onto a flat surface of the abutting vertical extrusion. Each T-shaped channel 66 is shaped to frictionally retain a section of weather strip 70 inserted into the channel from one end. As shown in FIG. 7 the weather strip v70 has nylon bristles 72 fixed to an aluminum backing 74. In location, the bristles 72 extend through the mouth 68 of the channel 66 to provide ends of the two vertical extrusions'56 of each side (not shown) ofa conventional fork lift truck may be inserted from any sideto lift the container when it is in either the erect or collapsed position. The base assembly is also shown having cable hooks 46 attached to the ends of each of the outer skids to receive a cable from a crane to lift the container in either position.
The structure of only one side member 14 will be described, although it is understood that if containers having two pairs ofidentical side members are required the proportions of the components may be varied. As best seen in FIG. 2 and described in the erect position, each side member 14 is similarly constructed with an outer rectangular frame 48 enclosing an inner vertical fluted panel 50. The rectangular frame 48 is formed by placing an upper extrusion 52, a lower extrustion 54 and two identical vertical extrusions 56 around the vertical fluted panel 50 and welding the ends of the extrusions together to form mitered corners. The panel 50 is prevented from shifting positions within the rectangular frame 48 by ridges 57 which project outwardly tal tongue 58 along its flat base 59, a vertical outer wall 60 and a vertical inner wall 62 extending along its entire length. The tongue 58 fits securely into groove 30 in the base assembly l2'when the side member 14 is in the vertical position with the inner wall 62 abutting on the vertical flange 32. The outer wall 60 is lower than the inner wall 62 so that rain water or other liquids caught between the walls will overflow out of the container rather than into the container.
The verticalextrusions 56 of each side member 14 are formed having an outer edge 64 with an L-shaped profile with a channel 66 having a T-shaped cross section located in the base of the L. In the erect or assem' bled position, the L-shaped outer vertical edge 64 of each vertical extrusion nests with the abutting vertical extrusion of an adjoining side member 14, as seen in member 14 has an upper edge 76 which also has an L- shaped profile. As weather strip is not required along the upper edge the upper extrusion 52 need not necessarily be formed with a T-shaped channel, although for convenience of manufacture an extrusion with the same cross sectional shape as the vertical extrusions 56 may be used. The L-shaped upper edge 76 has a flat outer upper horizontal portion 78 upon which thecover 16 rests and a flat inner horizontal ledge portion 80 vertically spaced from the cover 16. Each side member 14 has a first cylindrical passage 81 extending through the ledge portion 80 of the upper edge 76 near one of the vertical extrusions S6, and a second cylindrical passage 82 extending through the ledge portion 80 near the other vertical extrusion 56. A sleeve 83 is welded into the first cylindrical passage 81 with its upper end flush with the ledge portion 80, and a collar 84 is welded into the second cylindrical passage 82 with its upper end also flush with the ledge portion 80. The sleeve 83 receives a. first downwardly projecting end 86 of a rod 88 having a second downwardly projecting end 90 connected to the first end 86 by horizontal portion 92. The first end 86 is retained in the sleeve 83 by a pin 94 passing through the rod below a spring 96,.which allows the rod 88 to be extended vertically upward but exerts a continuous downward force upon' it. This downward force provides a positive return when the rod is displaced upwardly to the extended position and otherwise normally retains the rod in the retracted position shown in FIG. 9. As well as being extendible,.this construction allows the rod 88 to pivot in both the extended and retracted position about its first end 86 located in' the sleeve 83, particularly between theerect position in which the second end 90 of the rod is received in the collar 84 in the second cylindrical passage 82 of an adjacent side member and the collapsed position in which the rod is located in the plane of the side member 14. In the retracted position the horizontal portion 92 of the rod 88 must not extend above the upper horizontal portion 78 of the upper edge 76 to avoid interferring with the cover 16 resting on the upper horizontal portion 18 in the erect position and to avoid possible interference with the location of the side member 14 within the cover 16 in the collapsed position. As seen in FIG. 2 in the collapsed position the rod 88 is pivoted to a position coplanar with the side member in which a portion 98 of the rod 88 extends a perpendicular distance d beyond the outer vertical edge 64 of theside member. However, the distance d which the overhanging portion extends beyond the vertical edge 64 combined with width of the side member 14 must not be greater than the length of the longest outer edge 26 of the base assembly 12, to permit the side member 14 to be located within the cover 16 in the collapsed position. I
A horizontal outwardly extending tab 100 with an elongated hole 102 through it, is secured to the vertical fluted panel 50 of each of the side members 14 approximately midway between its vertical extrusions 56. These outwardly extending tabs 100 cooperate with the cover 16 as described below to releasably attach the cover to the sides in the erect position.
The cover 16 is formed with a flat plate 104 and a supporting fluted plate 106 enclosed by a rectangular brim 108 from which depends a vertical skirt 110. The rectangular brim 108 is constructed by welding the corners of four identical corner extrusions 112 together, and has a continuous upper horizontal fringe 114 and a continuous downward opening socket 1 16. The cover 16 is weatherproofed by application of a chaulking compound 118 to abutting surfaces of the upper horizontal fringe 114 and the flat plate 104 prior to assembly of the brim 108 about the plates 104, 106. The vertical skirt 110 is formed by inserting an upper beaded edge 120 of four flat vertical side portions 122 into respective portions of the downward opening socket 116 and welding the ends of the vertical side portions together. In this way, a continuous ball and socket join 124 is formed between the brim 108 and the skirt 110, which results in the corners 126 of the skirt being rigid while permitting limited transverse horizontal resilient movement of the side portions 122 between the cor ners. A horizontal inwardly extending tab 128 is secured to two opposite side portions of the skirt 110. The inwardly extending tabs 128 are located so that the resilient movement of the side portions to which they are secured permits them to be locked over the outwardly extending tabs 100 on the side members in the erect position, and locked over the outer edges 26 of the base assembly 12 in the collapsed position, as seen in FIG. 3. The inwardly extending tabs 128 have elongated holes 130 which correspond to the elongated holes 102 in the outwardly extending tabs 100, through which custom seals or locks may be inserted, in the erect position. The outwardly extending tabs 100 are provided on all of the side members, although actually used on only two opposite members, in order that the side members may be completely interchangeable. This, of course, would not be necessary in the previously mentioned'alternative embodiment of the invention having two pairs of identical side members.
In use, the container may be manually converted from the erect position shown in FIG. 1 to the collapsed position shown in FIG. 3 in the following steps:
First, the opposite resilient side portions 122 of the skirt 110 having the inwardly extending tabs 128 are displaced horizontally outward to free the inwardly extending tabs 128 from the outwardly extending tabs 100 on the side members 14, and the cover 16 is lifted vertically upward. The contents of the container may then be removed through the open top or desired ones of the side members may be removed to assist in removal of the goods. The first side member is removed by first disengaging the two appropriate rods 88 by lifting them upward until their second ends 90 are freed from their respective collars 84 and rotating and releasin g them in a disengaged position, and then pivoting the side member 14 outwardly to free the tongue 58 from the groove 30 in the base assembly 12. The rod assembly 88 attached to the removed side member'is then rotated to a position coplanar with the side member and the side member is placed in a horizontal position within the container, after the contents have been removed. A second adjacent side member may be removed by disengaging only one rod assembly 88, and
- the procedure is repeated until all four of the side members 14 are stacked one on top of the other in a horizontal position on the base assembly 12. The cover 16 is then lowered over the side members 14 to a position where the skirt encompasses the outer edges 26 of the base assembly and the inwardly extending tabs 128 are locked over an opposite pair of the edges 26. In order for it to be possible to lower the cover 16 over the stacked side members 14 it is necessary that the height of the side members not be greater than the width of the base assembly and that the width of none of the side members combined with the distance d which the overhanging portion 98 of its rod 88 extends beyond the vertical edge 64 be greater than the length of the longest outer edge of the base assembly. The container may be quickly and easily manually reassembled to its erect position by outwardly displacing the side portions 122 having the inwardly extending tabs 128 to release the tabs from the edges 26 of the base assembly and then reversing the above steps.
In the erect position, the container provides a double seal to moisture running down the outer sides of the vertical panels 50. Vertical inner wall 62 is higher than vertical outer wall 60 on the lower extrusion 54 of each side member 14, which forces the moisture to overflow outward rather than into the container. In addition, on the longitudinal extrusions 24 on the base assembly 12 the vertical flanges 32 are higher than lips 28 which again forces the moisture to overflow outward rather than into the container.
Although the disclosure describes and illustrates a preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be understood that the invention is not restricted to that particular embodiment.
What we claim is:
1. A collapsible rectangular container comprising a base assembly, four side members and a cover adapted to be converted between erect and collapsed positions the base assembly being defined by four vertical outer edges, the length of the longest outer'edge of the base assembly being at least as great as thewidth and height of each side member, the side members each being pivotally engaged to the base assembly adjacent a respective outer edge of the base assembly and nestably abutting with adjacent side members in the erect position, each side member having an L-shaped upper edge ex-' tending between first and second outer edges, the L- shaped upper edge having an outer upper horizontal portion and a lower inner horizontal ledge portion, each side member having complemental means adapted to interconnect the side members to retain them in the erect position, the cover having a continuous skirt formed of four vertical side portions, the skirt being adapted to encompass an upper portion of the side members in the erect position and the outer edges of the base in the collapsed position, each complemental means comprising a rod with first and second downwardly projecting ends connected by a horizontal portion, a vertical sleeve opening onto the ledge of said one side member near the first outer edge of said one side member, said sleeve adapted to pivotally extendibly receive the first end of the rod, positive return spring means engaging the first end of the rod to continuously urge the first end of the rod to a retracted posaid one side member and retracted to its original verti: cal position to assume the collapsed position wherein an overhanging portion of the rod projects a horizontal distance d beyond the first vertical edge of the said one side member, the length of the longest outer edge of the base assembly being at least as great as the sum of the distance d and the width of the said one side member.