US 3856178 A
An insulated shipping container comprising a modular container stack and an exterior protective shell. The modular container stack is constructed from two basic units, a receptacle unit having a bottom portion and a spacer ring unit having an open bottom. The basic units are nested together to form a modular container stack having the desired number of compartments. A cap is placed on top of the units to complete the stack. In one embodiment, a cleat is fixedly held between the exterior shell and the modular container stack to provide structural rigidity to the insulated shipping container.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
I United States Patent 1191 Novick 220/97 B lllll llil t 'lllllll.
Norgaard f [4 1 Dec 24, 1974 [.54] INSULATED SHIPPING CONTAINER 3,182,856 5/1965 7 Y 3,214,057 10/1965 Inventor: Arthur J- Nol'gaal'd, Deerfield, [7 3] Assignee: General Box Company, Des Plaines, 3,416,704 12/1968 3,685,646 8/1972 Sy 220/97 B X  Filed: Apr. 17, 1972 Primary Examiner-William 1. Price ] Appl' '244597 Assistant Examiner-Steven M. Pollard Related U.S. Application Data Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Hume, Clement, Brinks,  Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 133,499,- April 13, wil1iam, Olds & C Ltd I 1971, abandoned. 1
- I  ABSTRACT [2%] :LS. Cl. .220/23.83, 220/97 D [Kn-insulated Shipping contain-er comprising a modular 2? container stack and an exterior protective shell. The 220,97 D B 4 B C modular container stack is constructed from two basic 4 1 units, a receptacle unit having a bottom portion and a spacer ring unit having an open bottom. The basic units are nested together to form a modular container  References -q 1 stack having'thedesired number of compartments. A UNITED STATES PATENTS 1 cap is placed on top of the'units to complete the stack. 67,391 7/1867 =Wilcox 220/17 X In one embodimenga cleat is fixedly held between the 2,187,355 1940 Mac s 220/97 B X exterior shell and the modular container stack to pro- 2,579,685 Loose.,....; 220/97 R X vide tructural to the insulated con- 2,695,] 15 10/1954 Roop... 220 97 F x tamer; 2,878,982 3/1959 Gariepy 220/97 B X 3 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures 1 INSULATED SHIPPING CONTAINER This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 133,499 filed Apr. 13, 1971 by Arthur. J. Norgaard, now' abandoned.
The invention relates to shipping containers for enclosing various types of cargo within an exterior shell to protect the cargo during shipment. Particularly, the invention relates to a shipping container which includes at least one modular container stack enveloped by an outer protective shell. The Configuration of the modular container stack can be varied to conform with the requirements of a particular shipment by altering the basic units which form the modular container stack. This construction permitsflexibility in selection of container configuration.
The invention contemplates an insulated shipping container including an outer container for forming an exterior shell envelope. At least one modular stack is disposed within the exterior shell envelope. The modular stack is formed of ,a plurality of molded nestable units to provide a variable configuration packing cornpartment, with each of the nestabl e units having an open top.
A modular container stack is formed from two basic units: (l)'a receptacle unit having a flooror bottom portion, and (2) a spacer ring unit which has an open floor. The unitsare constructed so that the lower end of one unit fits into the top of another unit. This permits nesting of the units to form the modular container stack. A cap may be utilized for covering the top of the modular container stack or the top of any basic unit in the modular container stack.
The basic units'can be molded from an insulating material and thus provide an insulating function. Preferably, the units are molded from a material which permits the basic units. to. be sterilized before reuse. The insulated container formed by these basic units can thus be used to ship perishable goods. An advantage of the invention is that the molded construction permits the basic units to be easily manufactured and eliminates the need for assembling components to construct a basic unit.
The modular configuration of the shipping container stacks makes the invention particularly useful where standarized shipping containers are desired, such as in air cargo shipments.
The invention is illustrated in detail in the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of the insulated shipping container of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an exploded, partially cutaway view of a typical modular container stack used in the insulated shipping container;
FIGS. 3A and 3B are cross-sectional views of different arrangements of modular container stacks used in the insulated shipping container;
FIG. 4 is a detail view of a modified embodiment o the insulated shipping container;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a modified form of.
nestable unit for use in an insulating shipping container embodying the present invention; and
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a typical arrange- 'ment of a modular container stack using the modified form of nestable unit illustrated in FIG. 5.
Referring to FIG. 1, a shipping container generally indicated by the reference numeral 11 comprises modular container stacks 21 and 23, and a protective exterior shell envelope 12. The shipping container 11 includes an integral pallet 13 which includes a flat upper base 15 and a flat lower base 17. The upper base 15 and the lower base-17 are separated by spacers l9'which provide structural rigidity while permitting a lightweight pallet. The pallet 13 carries the modular container stacks 21 and 23 and forms a part of theexterior envelope 12. As detailed, the. modular container stacks are formed of nested units to provide a container stack having a configuration of compartments which can be varied to accommodatevarying shipping requirements.
The modular container stacks 21 and 23 are enclosed byan outer side wall 25. The outer side wall 25 is preferably formed of a-material such ascorrugated cardboard, and forms part of the exterior protective shell envelope 12 which encloses modular container stacks 21 and '23. An outer cap 27 is provided to cover the top of the modular container stacks and also is preferably formed of corrugated cardboard. A front door (not shown) covers the remaining open face of the insulating shipping container 11. The outer cap 27 and the front door also form a portion of the exterior envelope 12. The front door preferably fits beneath tab 18 and extends around comer 20. i
. The side wall 25 can be folded down and placed upon the pallet13 along with the front door and then covered by the outer cap 27.- When the side wall 25 folds down, the portions 26 and 28 preferably slide underneath the strips 30and 32, respectively. Thus, the reusableexterior envelope 12 of the shipping container can be collapsed to a compact form and return-shipped without the modular container stacks 21 and 23, allowing a minimum of shipping space to be consumed during the return.
The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 is easily dimensioned to form a standard D sizeair cargo container. The use of a standard cargo unit permits a shipperto take advantage of favorable rates in air cargo shipments. If desired, a smaller outer container and pallet invention does not require any particular physical size or form. However, the insulated shipping container has been illustrated as a standard air cargo container where the modular construction of the invention is particularly useful.
The configuration of the insulated shipping container can be varied to meet the requirements encountered in a particular shipping problem. Thus, a number of modular container stacks other than the two illustrated stacks can be enclosedin an outer shell.
The elements which are utilized to form a modular container stack areillustrated in FIG. 2. A receptacle unit 29 having a bottom portion 31 is provided and forms the base of a modular container stack. A pair of spacer rings 33 and 33 are provided and are substantially identical to the receptacle unit 29 except that the spacer rings are open at the bottom. The spacer rings 33 and 33' are substantially identical. The lower end 35 of the spacer ring 33 has a recessed portion 37 and a shoulder 38 which are dimensioned to fit the opening 39 of the receptacle 29. Similarly, the lower end 35 of the spacer ring 33 has a recessed portion 37' and a shoulder 38 which are dimensioned'to fit'the opening 41 of the spacer ring 33. The spacer ring 33 and the receptacle 29 comprise the basic units from which a modular container stack is constructed.
A cap 45 is provided and is dimensioned to fit snugly into the'opening 41 in the spacer ring 33' as well as the receptacle 29. Preferably, the cap 45 contains a recessed portion 47 to provide an air space-between the cap 45 of a modular container stack and the outer cap 27 of the insulated shipping container 11. The resultant air space prevents a compression of the outer cap 27 form damaging the cap 45 of the modular container stack.
I shipped in the stack. Further, the elements can be sterilized before each usage permitting a sanitary environment for the perishables and thereby retarding spoilage during shipment.
Preferably, the'side walls of both the receptacle 29 and the spacer ring 33 which comprises the basic units taperinwardly at the lower end as shown. This permits the basic units to be readily withdrawn from the mold used in the construction of the basic units and further provides structural function as detailed below.
The configuration of two spacer rings 33 and 33' and one receptacle 29 shown in FIG.,2 forms a modular container stack having a single triple-tier compartment. However, a modular container stack of various configurations can be formed from the basic units comprising the spacer ring 33 and the receptacle 29'. Although a modular container stack formed from three basic units has been illustrated, any desired number of basic units may be'used to form a modular container stack.
FIG. 3A illustrates a modularcontainer stack having three separate single-tier compartments. The modular container stack 51 is formed from three receptacles 53, each having a bottom portion 54, and a cap 55.
FIG. 38 illustrates a modular container stack having one double-tier compartment and one single-tier compartment. The modular container stack 57 is formed from two receptacles 59, each having a bottom portion, a spacer ring 61 and a cap 63. If desired, the order of the units forming the modular container stack may be repositioned to allow the. double-tier compartment to be formed below the single-tier compartment] The use of basic units of modular form for constructing the modular container stack permits the configuration of the stack to vary with the type of article to be packed. For example, articles which are susceptible to crushing when placed in layers can be shipped in a FIG. 3B permits further variation of packing configuration. Since the modular container stack can be constructed having separate compartments, different kinds of items can be packed in the compartments of the modular container stack thereby afiording flexibility in the use of the present invention.
Another advantage of the modular construction of the invention is that a single-tier can be loaded or un loaded in turn without having to passthrough higher tiers. Thus, the receptacle 29 can be loaded followed by the addition of spacer ring 33, and then the loading of the spacer ring 33. Subsequently, spacer ring 33' can be added to the modular stack and-loaded.
FIG. 4 shows a detailed view, in partial portion, of a modified embodiment of the insulated shipping container shown in FIG. 1 A modular container, stack 65 is enclosed by an outer side wall 25 as is the shipping container 11 of FIG. 1. However, in order to provide greater structural rigidity to the insulated shipping container, cleats 67a, 67b, 67c and 67d are arranged between the outer side wall 25 and the modular container stack 65. Themodular container stack 65 employs a modified cap 69 which is recessed from the edge of the stack 65 to receive the cleat 67a. The cleats 67b and 67c abut the inwardly tapered side wall of the basic units 73 and 75, respectively, of the modular container stack65. The remaining cleat 67d abuts the recessed portion 77 of the basic unit 79. A plurality of wires 71a, 71b, 71c and 71d surround the shipping container and hold the side wall 25 against the cleats 67a, 67b, 67c and 67d, respectively, which in turn rest against the modular stack 65.
Referring to FIG. 5, a basic unit 81 of a modified type canbe utilized in the present invention to form a modular container stack which permits a closure to be placed over each compartment in the stack configuration. The basic unit 81 is illustrated as a receptacle unit and has a bottom portion 83. However, the basic unit 81 could also be a spacer ring unit if the bottom portion 83 is eliminated.
The basic unit 81 has a closure flange 85 adjacent the open top of the basic unit 81 for receiving a cap 87 which is utilized as a closure for the open top of the basic unit 81. The closure flange 85 faces inwardly and ispositioned below an inwardly facing nesting flange 89. A substantially vertical wall 91 extends from the closure flange 85 to the nesting flange 89 and mates with the closure 87.'The basic unit 81 includes a tongue 93 located on the bottom of the basic unit which is set in from the edge of the basic unit 81 to form a shoulder 95. The tongue 93 is designed to mate with a nesting flange, similar to the nesting flange 89, of another basic unit and an exterior flange 97 around the periphery of the cap 87.
A second basic unit 81a illustrates the manner in which basic units are joined together in a nested relationship to form a stack'configuration. The parts of the basic unit 81a bear the same numeral, with the addition of the suffix a, asdo the corresponding parts of the basic unit 81. Thus, the tongue 93a of the basic unit 81a corresponds to the tongue 93 of the basic unit 81. When the basic unit 81a is nested with the basic unit 81, the shouldera of the basic unit 81a mates with top surface 99 of the basic unit while the tongue 93a of the basic unit 810 mates with the nesting flange 89 of the basic unit 81 and the exterior flange 97 of the cap 87. The tongue 93 of the basic unit 81a also engages a substantially vertical wall 101 extending from the top surface 99 to the nesting flange 89. v
The unique mating of the basic unit 81a with the basic unit 81 and the associated cap 87 provides a labyrinth path from the interior compartment of the basic unit 81 to the surrounding environment. The labyrinth path increases the insulating properties of the basic unit 81 by providing an indirect air gap. path for the transfer of heat. Thus, the joining surface along which heat must pass is a zig-zag path extending along the top surface 99 of the basic unit 81, down the vertical'wall 101, along the nesting flange 89, down the vertical wall 91 and then along the closure flange 85 to the interior of the basic unit 81.
The str'uctureof the cap 87 permits the cap to be placed as a closure on the basic unit 81 without any increase in height of thestack configuration formed by the basic unit 81 and the basic unit 81a. Thus, whether or not the cap 87 is utilized in a particular modular container stack, the height of the resultant container stack remainsunchanged.
Referring to FIG. 6, a typical modular container stack 103 utilizing theembodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG; 5, includes basic units 105a, 1051; and 105C which are fitted together in a nested relationship. The basic units 105a and 1056 are of the receptacle unit type and are substantiallyidentical to the basic unit 81 while the basic unit 10517 is a spacer ring having an open bottom.
. A cap 87a forms a closure on the basic unit 105a and a cap 87b forms a closure on the basic unit 105b. Thus, the container stack 103 has one double-tier compartment and one single-tier compartment. However, as previously described the configuration of compartments for a given container stack can be varied to meet the requirements of a particular application of the invention.
Therefore, if the basic unit l05b which is a spacer ring unit is replaced with a receptacle unit a container stack having three single-tier compartments would result. A cap which is substantially identical to the caps 87a and 87b could be placed over the basic unit 1050 to form a closure on the basic unit 1056. In this configuration, the basic units could be disconnected from the container stack and each basic unit and associated cap would provide a closed container which would protect the goods in the basic unit and propertiesto a great degree.
It is to be understood thatvarious modifications can be made to the disclosed insulated shipping container without departing from the scope of the invention, and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. An insulated shipping container of modular construction comprising:
an outer shell for forming a protective exterior envelope;
a plurality of nestable units arranged in a stack configuration and disposed within said outer shell, said nestable units having an enclosure wall extending around side portions thereof and an open top, said nestable units having a nesting flange adjacent the open top thereof for receiving another of said nestable units and a closure flange, disposed below and inwardly of said nesting flange, for receiving a cap to form a closure on the open top of said nestable units, said nestable units including a receptacle having a floored bottom, said nestable units including-a spacer unit having an open floor, said spacer unit combining with an associated nestable unit to form a double unit compartment; and
. at least one cap positioned on the closure flange of a nestable unit in sealing engagement therewith. 2. The insulated shipping container of claim 1 wherein said nestable units have a tongue on a lower portion thereof, said tongue engaging the nesting flange of anestable unit in sealing engagement therewith.
3. The insulating shipping container of claim 2 wherein said cap has an exterior, peripheral flange for mating in sealing engagement with the tongue of a nestretain its insulating