|Publication number||US3924738 A|
|Publication date||Dec 9, 1975|
|Filing date||Dec 9, 1974|
|Priority date||Dec 9, 1974|
|Also published as||CA1013307A, CA1013307A1, DE2543283A1|
|Publication number||US 3924738 A, US 3924738A, US-A-3924738, US3924738 A, US3924738A|
|Inventors||Ougljesa Jules Poupitch|
|Original Assignee||Illinois Tool Works|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Referenced by (25), Classifications (19)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent [191 Poupitch Dec. 9, 1975 I MULTIPACKAGE DEVICE FOR CONTAINERS AND METHOD FOR MAKING SAME  Inventor: Ougljesa Jules Poupitch, La Jolla,
 Assignee: Illinois Tool Works Inc., Chicago,
 Filed: Dec. 9, 1974  Appl. No.: 530,537
 US. Cl. 206/150; 206/428; 294/872; 264/159; 220/23.4; 20 6/805  Int. C1.?..B65D /62; B65D 75/00; B65D 71/02  Field of Search 206/150, 145, 163, 431, 206/428, 427; 229/28 R; 224/45 AA, 45 AB,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,155,325 9/1915 Miller 264/159 1,740,904 12/1929 Rini 277/10 1,999,909 4/1935 Lupton 229/28 R 2,154,085 4/1939 Bergstein 229/28 R 2,446,493 8/1948 Silvia et a1. 277/10 2,982,434 5/1961 Hidding 215/100 A 3,572,396 3/1971 Hoffman et a1... 206/805 3,688,899 9/1972 Walter 206/427 3,738,698 6/1973 Helms 206/ 3,785,484 l/1974 Cunninghan 206/427 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,132,912 11/1956 France 206/805 Primary ExaminerWilliam T. Dixson, Jr. Attorney, Agent, or FirmOlson, Trexler, Wolters, Bushnell & Posse, Ltd
 ABSTRACT There is disclosed a carrier for a plurality of articles such as bottles or-cans made from an extruded tube having integral ribs along opposite sides, which tube is alternately slit from side-to-side to provide successive rings integrally hinged together by first one of the rib portions and then the other for permitting the ring portions to be deployed in side-by-side relationship for receiving the articles, the rib portions providing not only integral hinge connecting means, but also spacing means for spacing adjacent ring portions and articles carried thereby from each other.
19 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet 1 of 5 3,924,738
US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet 2 of5 3,924,738
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Sheet 3 of5 3,924,738
US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet4 0f5 3,924,738
US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet 5 of5 3,924,738
MULTIPACKAGE DEVICE FOR CONTAINERS AND METHOD FOR MAKING SAME BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION whereby successive sections of the tube may be folded relative to each other generally into a common plane for receiving the articles to be carried. In order to economize on material, it is generally desirable to make the wall of the tube as thin as possible consistent with the required strength and durability. Thus, in such heretofore proposed structures, immediately adjacent articles in a package are spaced from each other at the area of contact with the carrier only by a double .thickness of the relatively thin material. It has been found that such spacing is, for many purposes, insufficient since, in practice, the adjacent articles such as bottles or cans will rub against each other so that the respective surfaces may be scratched or otherwise defaced. For example, it is common practice to apply a label or other decorative design by lithography or other means to beverage cans and such labeling can be damaged if the cans are permitted to rub together unduly such as when the package is subjected to continual motion or vibration during transport.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an important object of the present invention to provide a novel multiple article package and carrier and method of making the same wherein a one-piece tube of stock material is formed with longitudinally extending rib means along opposite sides thereof and is slit so as to define a continuous series of rings of predetermined wall thickness spaced apart from each other by the rib means.
A further important object of the present invention is to provide a novel multiple article carrier and method of making the same wherein a one-piece tube is formed with integral longitudinally extending ribs along generally opposite sides thereof and is slit so as to define successive sections integrally joined by hinge elements provided by portions of the ribs.
A further more specific object of the present invention is to provide a novel multiple article carrier and method of making same wherein a one-piece tube of suitable plastic material such as polyethylene is extruded with substantially continuous longitudinally extending rib means along generally diametrically opposite sides thereof, which tube means is then alternately slit from side-to-side for defining successive ring portions integrally joined at opposite sides thereof by unsevered portions of the rib means, which unsevered rib means portions provide hinge elements enabling successive ring portions to be folded relative to each other into adjacent but substantially spaced apart article receiving positions.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a tube of stock material for forming a carrier incorporating features of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary view showing the manner in which successive ring portions of the stock material may be manipulated relative to each other toward operative or carrier providing positions;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a series of carriers incorporating features of the present invention formed from the stock material of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view showing a package including a carrier member of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1, but showing a modified form of the present invention wherein the tube structure stock material includes multiple tube portions;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing a carrier formed from the stock material of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary partial sectional view of a package including the carrier of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a tube of stock material incorporating another modified form of the present invention;
FIG. 9 is a sectional view showing a plurality of interconnected carriers formed from the stock material of FIG. 8;
FIG. 10 is -a fragmentary perspective view showing a portion of the FIG. 9 structure in greater detail;
FIG. 1 l is a perspective view of a tube of stock material incorporating a further modified form of the present invention;
FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing a carrier formed from the stock material of FIG. 11;
FIG. 13 is a perspective view showing a tube of stock material incorporating still another modified form of the present invention; and
FIG. 14 is a perspective view showing a carrier formed from the stock material of FIG. 13 and in a stretched condition which is obtained when the carrier is assembled with containers such as cans.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSED EMBODIMENTS Referringnow more specifically to the drawings wherein like parts are designated by the same numerals throughout the various figures, a package 10 incorporating features of the present invention is shown in FIG. 4 as including a plurality of articles such as cans l2 and a carrier 14. The carrier 14 which is shown best in FIG. 3 is formed from a tube of stock material 16 in accordance with features of the present invention in the manner described in detail below.
In this embodiment, the carrier 14 is shown as including three tubular ring portions or pocket members 18 having a wall which is relatively thin in transverse or horizontal cross-section and which has a substantial vertical or axial dimension several times greater than the wall thickness. Preferably, the wall thickness is as thin as practical, consistent with the strength and durability requirements of the unit.
As will be described below, the carrier member is formed from a tough resilient plastic material such, for example, as polyethylene. Each of the ring portions or pocket members 18 has an internal diameter which is slightly less than the external diameter of the article 12 to be carried. However, the ring internal diameter is 3 not less than the diameter of the article reduced by a percentage of elongation determined by the elastic limit of the plastic material to enable the carrier to re ceive and tightly grip an article without rupture. In the embodiment shown, the article 12 is in the form of a can of known construction having a body and an upper end seam 22 which, in effect, provides a radially outwardly extending flange or shoulder 24. Preferably, the carrier and the articles are assembled so that each ring or pocket portion 18 resiliently grips the article or can body immediately beneath the shoulder of the end seam 22. While the package is shown as including cans assembled with the carrier, it is to be understood that the carrier of thepresent invention may be used with many different containers or bottles or other articles. As shown in FIG. 4, the carrier 14 is constructed so that adjacent articles 12 in the package are spaced substantially from each other. More specifically, the spacing between the articles is sufficient to prevent adjacent articles from rubbing against each other and thereby defacing their surfaces. As indicated above, this is particularly important when the articles or cans are provided with labels or other decorative coatings 26 thereon. The walls of the ring or pocket members 18 are relatively thin and may be similar to or even less than the radial extent of the can end seam 22. However, the spacing between adjacent cans is substantially greater than the combined wall thickness of adjacent pocket members 18. In accordance with the present invention, this is accomplished by providing combined spacer and hinge means 28 between adjacent pocket members 18. As will be understood, packages of the type contemplated herein are frequently stacked together or arranged in shipping containers with a plurality of similar packages so that the endmost container in each package may be disposed adjacent a container in another package. In order to prevent undue contact between such adjacent containers, complimentary spacing means 30 are provided at opposite ends of the carrier member.
In accordance with a feature of the present invention, the carrier member 14 is formed in accordance with the method shown in FIGS. 1 through 3. More specifically, the plastic tubular member 16 is first extruded in the shape shown in FIG. 1 by utilizing well known extrusion techniques so as to provide a continuous elongated thin-walled tube having integral longitudinally extending ribs 32 and 34 projecting radially outwardly from substantially diametrically opposite sides thereof. Av plurality of alternate slits 36 and 38 are then cut in the tube at axially spaced intervals for defining the previously described rings or pocket members 18. It is to be noted that the slits alternately extend through one of the ribs 32 and 34 toward but short of the other rib. For example, in the emb diment shown, the slit 36 extends through the rib 32 and advances through the top side of the tube toward the rib 34 but terminates at points 40 and 42 at opposite sides of the rib 34 so that the rib 34 remains substantially uncut between these points. Similarly, the slit 38 starts through the rib 34 and progresses across the tube to points 44 and 46 at opposite sides of the rib 32 so that the rib 32 remains uncut between these points. With the slits formed in this manner, it is observed that the rib 32 is divided into elements 48 respectively integral with successive ring portions 18 of the tube while the rib 34 is similarly divided into elements 50 integral with opposite sides of successive tube ring portions. Furthermore, the rib elements between the aforementioned points 46 and 48 are integrally connected with each other while the rib elements 50 between the aforementioned points 40 and 42 remain integrally joined to each other.
The slitting operation may be accomplished with known slitting apparatus while the tube is in the configuration shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, it is contemplated that prior to the slitting operation, the tube may be flattened in a manner such that the ribs 48 and 50 are located on the opposite edges or margins of the fiattened tube whereupon the slits may be formed with simple shearing blades.
After completion of the slitting operation, the tube is unfolded as indicated in FIG. 2 to form a continuous strip of stock material. The unfolding is accomplished by bending the integrally joined rib elements 48 between the points 44 and 46 and similarly bending the integrally joined rib elements 50 between the points 40 and 42. The plastic material at these integral junctions is stretched and bent so as to provide hinge or bight portions 52 between adjacent elements 50 and similar hinge or bight portions 54 between adjacent rib elements 48. Thus, when the tube is unfolded and straightened out as shown in FIG. 2 to obtain a series of carrier units 14 as shown in FIG. 3, the adjacent rib elements 50 and their associated hinge section 52 and the adjacent rib elements 48 and their associated hinge sections 54 provide the above-described spacer and hinge means between adjacent ring or pocket portions of the carrier.
It is understood that the tube is preferably extruded in long lengths having many interconnected ring members so that in order to provide an ultimate carrier, a group of the desired number of ring members is severed from the remaining stock material. In the embodiment shown, this group includes three ring members so that the carrier is designed to retain three articles. It is to be understood, however, that the carrier could be provided with only two ring members or with any desired number of additional ring members. In any event, the desired group of ring members is severed from the remaining stock material in a manner such that rib elements 48 and 50 project from the endmost ring members to provide the aforementioned endmost spacer means.
If desired, the tube may be unfolded in the manner indicated in FIGS. 2 and 3 and rolled upon a supply reel, not shown, for subsequent delivery to'machinery for assembling the carriers with cans at which time the individual carriers may be severed from the stock material.
In FIGS. 5-7 there is shown a modified form of the present invention in which parts corresponding to those described above are identified by the same reference numerals with the suffix a added. Inthis embodiment, the tube structure is formed into a carrier 14a and assembled into package 10a by following the same method steps described above. However, inthis embodiment, the tube structure comprises a pair of tubes 16a extruded as one piece in side-by-side relationship and integrally joined by a connecting web 56 joining the peripheries of the tubes along lines substantially midway between the oppositely disposed rib means 32a and 34a. The tube structure of this embodiment is slit in the manner described above and each slit 36a and 38a completely traverses the web 56. Thus, the web 56 which, of course, extends the entire length of the tube structure is divided into sections 58 which, as shown in FIG. 6, provide spacers between adjacent ring members of the adjacent tubes.
By forming the extruded tube structure with two sideby-side tubes 160, it is seen that the carrier 14a includes two rows of ring or pocket portions 18a disposed in side-by-side relationship and joined and spaced by the elements 58. As shown in FIG. 6, each row may include three of the pocket members so that the carrier is adapted to be assembled with six cans or other articles, but it is to be understood that the carrier 14a may be formed with either a lesser or greater number of article receiving pocket members merely by severing the carrier from the continuous strip of stock material at the desired location.
It is further to be understood that while the embodiment of FIGS. 5-7 is shown as being formed from an extrusion having two tubes 16a extruded in side-by-side relationship, it is contemplated that the extrusion could be formed with three or more of the tube structures interconnected by additional web means corresponding to the web means 56. The tubes of such modified structures are adapted to be slit and unfolded in the manner described above to provide a continuous strip of stock material and such strip may be severed transversely of the strip to provide carriers having a number of pocket members corresponding to a multiple of the number of tubes in the original extrusion. In addition, in certain instances, such multiple tube extrusions may be slit longitudinally through the connecting web means 56 to provide carriers corresponding substantially to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4. It is noted that the connecting web means 56 has a lateral extent or width generally equal to the combined lateral dimension of the rib means 32a and 34a so that the pocket members 18a in the carrier 14a are substantially uniformly spaced from each other both longitudinally and transversely of the carrier. If desired, the extrusion of FIG. 5 may be formed with continuous longitudinally extending rib means, not shown, located diametrically oppositely of both tubes from the intermediate web means 56, which additional rib means is preferably provided with a lateral extent of about one-half the lateral dimension of the intermediate web means 56. Thus, such additional rib means will provide the sides of the ultimate carrier with spacers corresponding generally to the end spacers 30a.
In the embodiment of FIGS. 5-7, the rib means 32a and 40a are hollowed out or formed with slots 60 and 62 so that the wall thickness of the rib means is substantially equal to the wall thickness of the pocket portions of the tube structure. This arrangement provides for a saving in stock material and also facilitates bending of the sections of the rib means between adjacent pocket members during unfolding of the tube structure. The rib means of FIG. 1-4 can be similarly hollowed, if desired.
FIG. 8 shows another modification which incorporates certain features of the present invention. In this embodiment, elements corresponding to those described above are identified by the same reference numerals with the suffix b added. This embodiment differs in that instead of the extrusion 16b comprising one or more thin wall tube sections and subsequently being slit transversely along lines spaced axially distances substantially greater than the thickness of the wall as is the case in the previous embodiments, the tube structure 16b, in effect, comprises a plurality of thick walled tubes and the slits 36b and 38b are spaced relatively close together. More specifically, the slits 36b and 38b are spaced apart a distance which corresponds more or less to the wall thickness of the previously described tubes so that when the tube structure 16b is slit and unfolded a plurality of sheet material carriers are formed as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10.
The pocket or ring portions 18b of the carrier 14b define apertures 60 having a diameter substantially less than the outer diameter of the pocket portions 18b whereby the horizontal width of the material of each pocket portion 18b has a dimension which corresponds more or less to the axial dimension of the pocket members 18 and 18a described above. The internal diameter of the pocket members 18b is preferably substantially less than the diamter of a can or other article to be assembled in the carrier package so that during such assembly, a portion of each pocket member will be stretched and axially deflected from tightly gripping the article. As shown in the drawings, the adjacent ring portions or pocket members 18b are integrally joined by an intermediate'web 62. In this embodiment, the extrusion 16b is formed with apertures 64 and 66 in the web portion 62 in addition to the aperture 60 to provide gripping means in the form of finger holes.
As shown in FIG. 8, the extrusion 16b is provided with a pair of rib portions 32b along one end respectively associated with each row of the pocket portions in the extrusion and correspondingly disposed rib means 34b along the opposite side of the extrusion. These rib means serve a portion of the function of the previously described corresponding rib means in that they serve to interconnect and space individual carriers when the tube structure 16b is slit and unfolded to provide a strip of stock material comprising a series of carriers as shown in FIG. 9.
In FIGS. 11 and 12, there is shown another modified form of the present invention which is similar to the embodiment of FIGS. 8-10 as indicated by the application of identical reference numerals with the suffix c added to corresponding elements. This embodiment differs in that the tube is extruded so that the apertures 60c and the pocket portions 18c therearound are initially of oblong or eliptical configuration. Thus, when the carrier is manipulated for application to generally cylindrical articles or cans as shown in FIG. 12, the pocket portions are stretched and deformed so as to insure aggressive engagement with the cans.
It is further noted that the finger apertures 640 are initially of generally diamond shaped configuration with concave sides so that the pocket portions are of generally uniform width whereby to facilitate manipulation and stretching over the cans. As shown in FIG. 12, when the carrier is applied to the cans, the material is stretched so that the finger openings 640 are widened and opened into a more rounded configuration for facilitating handling.
FIGS. 13 and 14 show still another modification which incorporates many of the above-described features as indicated by the application of identical reference numerals with the suffix d added to corresponding elements. In this embodiment, the tube of stock material l6d is extruded with six tubular pocket portions in a manner similar to that of the embodiments of FIGS. 8-10, but the pocket portions 18d have a construction more similar to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 5-7. In this embodiment, adjacent tubes within the array of six tubes are interconnected and spaced by elements 58d both transversely and longitudinally of the utlimate carrier except that finger grip or strap elements 68 and 70 are provided between at least one pair of adjacent pocket members. Preferably, the strap portions 68 and 70 are positioned between the centermost pair of the pocket members. The spacing between the strap portions 68 and 70 is such that they may be easily grasped between the fingers of the user and provide handle means for facilitating carrying of the package.
While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described herein, it is obvious that many structural details may be changed without departing from the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
The invention is claimed as follows:
1. A carrier structure for a plurality of articles such as containers and the like comprising a series of carrier units disposed in end-to-end relationship and including ring portions for receiving articles to be carried, and hinge and spacer means interconnecting adjacent ring portions of adjacent carrier units in said series, each of said hinge and spacer means including a first rib element integral with one of said adjacent ring portions and a second rib element integral with the other of said adjacent ring portions, said first and second rib elements having an integral junction with each other, said junction being folded and providing a flexible hinge element between said carrier units.
2. A carrier structure as defined in claim 1, wherein said hinge elements of alternate hinge and spacer means in said series are respectively located at upper and lower sides of the carrier structure.
3. A carrier structure as defined in claim 2, wherein each of said carrier units include a plurality of said ring portions, said carrier structure including additional of said hinge and spacer means between the individual ring portions in each of said carrier units.
4. A carrier structure as defined in claim 1, wherein said ring portions respectively comprise a thin-walled tube section having an axial length substantially greater than its wall thickness. 7
5. A carrier structure according to claim 1, wherein each of said ring portions has a thin wall in an axial direction and a radial dimension substantially greater than its axial dimension.
6. A carrier structure for a plurality of articles such as containers and the like comprising an elongated tubular body, first and second laterally outwardly projecting rib means integral with and extending longitudinally of substantially diametrically opposite sides of said tubular body, and alternate first and second slit means extending transversely of said tubular body and defining successive ring portions of said tubular body, said first and second slit means respectively extending through said first and second rib means and said tubular body, said second rib means being substantially unsevered by said first slit means and said first rib means being substantially unsevered by said second slit means, unsevered elements of said first and second rib means between the slit means providing spacer and hinge means bendable for enabling said ring portions to be folded relative to each other into spaced apart side-by-side relationship for receiving articles to be carried.
7. A carrier structure as defined in claim 6 which includes a plurality of said tubular bodies having said first and second rib means thereon and said first and second slit means therein, and a connecting web extending between adjacent tubular bodies at locations generally 8 midway between said first and second rib means, said first and second slit means also traversing said web.
8. A carrier structure as defined in claim 7, wherein said web has a transverse dimension similar to the combined lateral extent of said first and second rib means.
9. A carrier structure comprising a plurality of thin wall tubular ring portions having a predetermined diameter and an axial extent substantially greater than wall thickness, said ring portions being disposed in sideby-side substantially spaced apart relationship, and combined spacer and hinge means integral with and connecting adjacent ring portions, said spacer and hinge means including rib elements respectively integral with adjacent ring portions and having an integral junction with each other, said integral junction being folded and providing a flexible hinge.
10. A carrier structure as defined in claim 9 which includes a series of said ring portions comprising at least three ring portions and a plurality of said combined spacer and hinge means respectively disposed between each pair of adjacent ling portions in said series, said hinge elements of alternate .spacer and hinge means in said series respectively being disposed at upper and lower sides of said carrier structure.
11. A carrier structure as defined in claim 10 which includes a plurality of said series of ring portions disposed in side-by-side relationship, and connecting web elements joining ring portions of one series with ring portions of an adjacent series.
12. A carrier structure as defined in claim 9 which includes spacer elements integral with and projecting outwardly of the carrier structure from said ring portions for spacing the carrier structure from an adjacently disposed carrier or the like.
13. A package comprising a carrier as defined in claim 9 and a plurality of articles respectively received and retained in each of said ring portions, said articles being maintained in spaced apart substantially noncontacting relationship with each other by said spacer and hinge means.
14. A method of making an article encircling carrier for carrying a plurality of articles as a package comprising the steps of: continuously forming at least one tube with a substantially uniform thickness wall and integral radially outwardly projecting rib means extending axially thereof at substantially diametrically opposite positions, severing said tube transversely thereof alternately from opposite sides of the tube at substantially spaced intervals longitudinally of the tube, said severing step including limiting of the severing operation for alternately preventing severing of said rib means and thereby altematly providing unsevered rib elements between adj acent portions of the tube at opposite sides of the tube, and folding each of said unsevered rib elements generally midway thereof substantially completely through an angle of to form a series of article encircling bands interconnected by said unsevered rib elements.
15. A method as defined in claim 14 comprising the additional step of forming said tube from a resilient elastic plastic material with an inner circumferential dimension less than an outer circumferential dimension of articles to be carried thereby and greater than said outer circumferential dimension of the articles reduced by the percentage of elongation of said plastic material to its elastic limit.
16. A method as defined in claim 14 comprising simultaneously forming a pair of said tubes in side-byside parallel relationship and joined by a connecting web, and simultaneously severing said web at said spaced intervals during said severing of the tubes.
17. A carrier structure as defined in claim 4, wherein each of said carrier units comprises side-by-side rows of a plurality of said ring portions, connecting and spacing elements between adjacent ring portions in adjacent rows, and said connecting and spacing elements between at least one pair of adjacent portions comprising a pair of spaced apart strap elements disposed at opposite sides of an area of closest proximity of said pair of ring portions to each other, said last-mentioned element providing handle means for said carrier structure.
18. A carrier structure according to claim 5, wherein each of said ring portions is initially of oblong configuration and is adapted to be deformed into another configuration such as a circular configuration for assembly with a container such as a can, each of said carrier units including a plurality of side-by-side rows of a plurality of said ring portions and finger openings between adjacent ring portions in adjacent rows, said finger openings initially being of elongated configuration and being deformed into a wider configuration upon assembly of the carrier unit with containers.
19. A carrier structure as defined in claim 7, wherein said connecting web includes a pair of elements between a pair of adjacent ring portions and disposed at opposite sides of an area of closest approach of said last-mentioned ring portions to each other and providing handle means for facilitating gripping of the carrier structure.
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|U.S. Classification||206/150, 294/87.2, 206/428, 220/23.4, 206/805, 264/159|
|International Classification||B29C69/00, B65D85/20, B65D67/02, B29C61/00, B29D1/00, B29C53/00, B65D71/50, B29D99/00|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10S206/805, B65D71/504, B65D71/50|
|European Classification||B65D71/50, B65D71/50D|