US 3850214 A
An envelope for use as a container or carrier for goods, partly of rigid or semi-rigid impermeable material and partly of flexible impermeable sheet material; the envelope having means for effecting an openable fluid-tight joint between an edge of the flexible material and the rigid or semi-rigid material comprising a slot or groove in the rigid or semi-rigid material, a flexible tube secured along the said edge of the flexible member, the tube being insertable into the slot or groove and inflatable into pressure engagement with the walls of the slot or groove and means for retaining the inflated tube in the slot or groove; the envelope also having valve means controlling an outlet for air from the envelope whereby suction may be applied to and maintained within the envelope thereby collapsing the flexible material into closely fitting movement-restraining engagement with goods when carried within the envelope.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent ickey Nov. 26, 1974 CONTAINERS Primary Examiner-Donald F. Norton 75] Inventor: Christopher Daniel Dowling Hickey, Attorney Agent Thompson Hinchley Wood, Esher, England  Assignee: Airflex Containers Limited, London,  ABSTRACT England I An envelope for use as a container orcarrier for  Filed: Oct. 20, 1972 goods, partly of rigid or semi-rigid impermeable material and partly of flexible impermeable sheet material; 2 Appl' 299249 the envelope having means for effecting an openable fluid-tight joint between an edge of the flexible mate- Cl /5, 06/497, rial and the rigid or semi-rigid material comprising a 6/522 slot or groove in the rigid or semi-rigid material, a  Int. Cl Bd 51/16 flexible tube secured along the said edge of the fleXi  Field Of Search 206/DIG. l2, DIG. 30, 386, ble member, the tube being insertable into the slot or 06/ /05; 403/5 groove and inflatable into pressure engagement with the walls of the slot or groove and means for retaining References Cited the inflated tube in the slot or groove; the envelope UNITED STATES PATENTS also having valve means controlling an outlet for air 2,644,553 7 1953 Cushman 403 5 from the envelope whereby Suction may be applied to 3,000,418 9/1961 Hitting I 206/ 12 and maintained within the envelope thereby collapsing 3,006,396v 10/1961 c g H 206/1316, 30 the flexible material into closely fitting movement- 3,074,520 1/1963 Grubelich 403/5 restraining engagement with goods when carried 3,159,884 12/1964 Hankey 206/DIG. 30 within the envelope. 3,670,880 6/1972 Burleson 229/D1G. l2
7 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures CONTAINERS BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION The invention relates to envelopes for use as containers or carriers for goods.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART In my British Pat. No. Specification No. 1,191,921 there is described and claimed an envelope for use as a container or carrier for goods, wholly or partly of flexible, impermeable material and adapted to enclose av space, there being an opening in the envelope, and the envelope including re-usable means operable to close and seal the opening against ingress of air into the space, and valve means controlling an outlet for air from said space whereby suction may be applied to and maintained within the space within the envelope, and the envelope or the flexible portion thereof collapsed into closely fitting movement-restraining engagement with goods when carried within the space.
One major difficulty with the envelope described in British Specification No. 1,191,921 is the provision of satisfactory re-usable means to close and seal the opening. It is often important that a large opening be provided so that large objects may be carried and stored and of course it is also important that the sealing be very effective otherwise air will leak into the envelope and the movement-restraining effect of the collapsed envelope will be lost. The only really effective closure means which are known are pressure-tight sliding clasp fasteners, for example as described in British Pat. No. Specification No. 1,234,883. However it was found in practice that such fasteners are difficult to fit and are very expensive.
The most convenient way of using a pressure-tight clasp fastener, is to provide one which runs round a substantial part of the base of the envelope, so that when the fastener has been opened the upper part of the envelope may be hinged back i.e., providing a jaw type opening. However such a construction still has serious disadvantages, a major one being that the cover cannot be completely separated from the base for loading and unloading. This means that the cover is liable to damage during the loading/unloading process. The slide fastener is also liable to damage. Yet another disadvantage is that since the edge of the cover opposite the hinge point describes an are about the hinge point during opening, that edge will catch on any load placed on the base and prevent closure of the envelope unless the load has dimensions significantly smaller than the internal dimensions of the envelope. Thus the space within the envelope cannot be fully utilized.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION 1 have now discovered that a very effective fluid-tight joint can be made between a rigid part of the envelope and a flexible part by providing a slot or groove in the rigid part and a flexible tube along the flexible part, the tube being insertable into fluid-tight pressure engagement with the walls of the slot or groove to seal the two parts together. This allows a very effective and economic construction in which the envelope comprises a rigid base such as a pallet, and a flexible cover, the cover being entirely removable for loading of goods into the base, and having around its mouth a tube for insertion into a peripheral groove on the pallet. The
fact that the cover is entirely removable means that the cover will not be damaged during loading or unloading and the space within the envelope may be fully utilized.
The tube can, for example, be cheaply provided by folding back an edge of the cover and securing it to the walls of the cover. It is only necessary to provide a check valve for inflation of the tube.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view, partly in section, of part of an envelope according to the invention, and
FIG. 2 is a section through part of an alternative envelope.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION Referring first to FIG. 1, attached around the periphery of the base 1, which may be a pallet or the platform of a truck, there is a member 2 of rigid or semi-rigid plastics material. This member has a slot 3 of which the bottom is open except for the provision, at intervals, of narrow cross-ties as indicated at 4. The slot is undercut below the mouth 5 so that the width of the slot increases to a maximum at 6. The inner wall 7 of the slot is provided with longitudinal ribs or teeth 8.
Attached to the edge of the flexible cover there is an extruded flexible member 10 which embodies a flexible tube 11 which can be passed through the mouth 5 and then inflated into pressure sealing engagement withthe walls of the slot. Stops 12 prevent the tube passing too far through the slot by engagement with the upper surface of member 2. i
The member 10 also has a flexible flap 14 provided with eyelets 15 which can be engaged over hooks 16 on the member 2 to hold the cover and tube in place.
Whereas in the arrangement shown the bottom face of the member 2 is secured on the base 1 it is within the invention to secure the member 2 beneath the base so that the upper face 18 engages the under surface of the base.
FIG. 2 shows a pallet 22 comprising a substantially flat upper face 23 and a substantially flat lower face 24. The pallet also has a lower peripheral flange 25.
Secured to the upper face of the pallet is a continuous channel member 26 which defines a peripheral groove 27 having a narrow mouth 28. Substantially the whole of the upper face of the pallet is bounded by the channel member. The upper face is substantially impermeable to air and an impermeable flexible envelope 29 may be connected to the pallet with its mouth secured in the channel member.
The envelope comprises an inner skin 18, an outer skin 19, and a tube 20 at the mouth of the envelope. The envelope is made from a larger envelope the mouth edge of which is turned outwardly and folded well back to form the outer skin, the inner skin being formed by the portion of the walls of the larger envelope which have not been folded back. The free edge of the outer portion is drawn together and sealed to close the outer skin 19 and the two skins are welded together at 21 to provide the tube 20.
The tube 20 is provided with a valve so that after the tube has been inserted in the channel member 26 it may be inflated to substantially fill the channel as shown in FIG. 2, thereby sealing the envelope to the pallet and preventing withdrawal of the tube from the channel.
Valve means 31 on the pallet or on the envelope are provided so that the inner skin 18 may be evacuated by suction to draw it closely about any goods on the pallet in movement-restraining engagement therewith. Further valve means 32 are provided so that pressurised gas may be introduced to the space between skins l8 and 19 to inflate skin 19 so that it provides a resilient shield for the goods on the pallet.
Part 30 of the tube protrudes through the mouth of the channel member so air pressure urges the walls of the part 30 against the edges of the mouth of the channel thereby increasing the effectiveness of the seal between the pallet and the envelopes.
Sockets may be provided at the corners of the pallet so that four posts may be applied to the four corners of the pallet respectively to turn the pallet into a post pallet for stacking purposes. The posts may conveniently comprise L section members with the 90 angle of the L facing the centre of the pallet. Shuttering such as boards or plates may be provided to fit between adjacent posts such that movement of the shuttering outwardly of the pallet is prevented by the flanges of the L shaped members, inflation of the outer skin 19 causing the shuttering to be pressed against these flanges and held in position to provide a rigid shield for the goods on the pallet.
The invention is not restricted to the features of the foregoing examples.
1. A packaging device comprising an envelope of flexible impermeable sheet material; an inflatable flexible tube disposed along an edge of the envelope; a rigid structural member having a channel therein; means forming part of the channel retaining said tube in said channel in an inflated state; and valve means for evacuation of air from the device and collapse of said envelope into closely fitting movement restraining engagement with goods within said device.
2. A packaging device as claimed in claim 1 wherein said means forming part of the channel comprises portions of said structural member defining a mouth of the channel and undercut walls which diverge from said mouth.
3. A packaging device as claimed in claim 2, further comprising longitudinal ribs on said walls.
4. A packaging device as claimed in claim I, further comprising means on the structural member defining a further aperture in a bottom part of the channel; a flexible material stop means for preventing the tube from passing out of the bottom part; and means adjacent the mouth of the channel for securing said stop means to ble envelope of substantially flexible material having a periphery formed as a mouth; an inflatable flexible tube disposed around the mouth of the envelope; a rigid substantially air impermeable pallet having a continuous channel forming part of, and encircling, an area of the pallet; means forming part of the channel retaining said tube in said channel in an inflated state; and valve means for evacuation of air from the device and collapse of said envelope into closely fitting movementrestraining engagement with the goods within said de: vice.
7. A packaging device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the envelope comprises an inner skin; and an outer skin defining a pressurizable space between said outer skin and said inner skin.