|Publication number||USRE42240 E1|
|Application number||US 11/485,647|
|Publication date||Mar 22, 2011|
|Filing date||Jul 13, 2006|
|Priority date||Nov 21, 2000|
|Also published as||CA2427942A1, CA2427942C, DE01997389T1, EP1355780A1, EP1355780A4, EP1355780B1, US6410119, US6761960, US20020150730, WO2002042066A1|
|Publication number||11485647, 485647, US RE42240 E1, US RE42240E1, US-E1-RE42240, USRE42240 E1, USRE42240E1|
|Inventors||Nicholas P. De Luca, Oliver M. Reyes, Philippe M. Jacques|
|Original Assignee||Free-Flow Packaging International, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (97), Non-Patent Citations (3), Classifications (22), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This is a continuation of Ser. No. 09/717,782, filed Nov. 21, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,410,119.
This invention relates to an inflatable, cushioning, bubble wrap product.
This invention relates particularly to a bubble wrap product which has the bubbles formed in individual inflatable strips. The individual inflatable strips extend laterally across the width of a sheet of film material, and each individual inflatable strip has a plurality of bubble chambers with each bubble chamber interconnected to an adjacent bubble chamber by an interconnecting passageway. The interconnected passageway is smaller in size and in internal volume that the bubble chambers but is sufficiently large to enable air volume and pressure in one inflated bubble chamber to be transmitted to adjacent bubble chambers for distributing a shock load on one bubble chamber along the entire length of the individual inflatable strip of interconnected bubble chambers.
This invention relates particularly to a bubble wrap product in which each individual inflatable strip is defined between two laterally extending spaced apart peripheral seal lines which have an undulating configuration free of corner shapes which could concentrate stresses.
Webs of plastic film which are constructed to permit the production of patterns of air filled envelopes, cushions and pillows have (in the past ten years or so) been used extensively for cushioning objects to be transported in containers.
The thin webs incorporate two thin sheets of plastic film and are inexpensive, tough, resilient and recyclable.
Inflated pillow packagings which are created from these webs of plastic film are used for void-fill packaging to replace products such as crumpled paper or polyethylene peanuts and for protective packaging to replace molded or extruded forms.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,454,642; 5,651,237; 5,755,328; 4,017,351; and 5,824,392 disclose methods, apparatus, and webs of plastic film used for making strips of inflated pillow packaging of this general kind. Each of these U.S. patents is incorporated by reference in this application.
Co-pending applications Ser. No. 09/207,129 filed Dec. 8, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,116,000, Ser. No. 09/439,552 filed Nov. 12, 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,209,286, and Ser. No. 09/638,843, filed Aug. 14, 2000, also disclose methods, apparatus and webs of plastic film of this general kind. Each of these three co-pending applications is assigned to the same assignee as the assignee of this application. Each of these three co-pending applications is incorporated in this application by reference.
It is a primary object of the present invention to construct a web of two sheets of film material in a pattern of seal lines which enables an inflatable, conformable, cushioning, multiple bubble strip, packaging product to be produced which has significant functional and economic advantages over existing bubble packaging.
It is a related object to construct an inflatable packaging product which enables inflated bubble chambers to be large enough so that only a single layer of inflated packaging product can provide the necessary cushioning for many objects.
It is a related object to construct an inflatable packaging product in which substantially all of the area of the packaging product is available for inflation to provide cushioning.
It is a related object to construct an inflatable packaging product which is highly conformable to provide effective cushioning at all angles of possible shock loads on the object being shipped.
It is a related object to construct an inflatable packaging product in which the seal lines for inflatable bubble structures have an undulating configuration free of corner shapes or sharp bends which could concentrate stresses.
It is a related object to construct an inflatable packaging product having a plurality of individual inflatable strips of multiple bubble cushioning structures which extend laterally across the longitudinal length a web of inflated film material and in which each bubble chamber in an individual inflatable strip is interconnected to an adjacent bubble chamber by an interconnecting passageway which is smaller in size and internal volume than the bubble chambers but which is sufficiently large to enable air volume and pressure in one inflated bubble chamber to be transmitted to adjacent bubble chambers for distributing a shock load on one bubble chamber along the entire length of the inflatable strip of interconnected bubble chambers.
An inflatable, conformable, cushioning, multiple bubble strip, packaging product is constructed for interposing between and engagement with both the interior surfaces of a shipping container and the outer surfaces of one or more objects packaged within the shipping container. The inflatable packaging product is constructed, when inflated, to reduce or to eliminate the transfer of shock load from the shipping container to the objects packaged within the shipping container.
The packaging product comprises a first sheet of film material and a second sheet of film material. The sheets have substantially equal lengths and substantially equal widths. The sheets are joined together as a web in a pattern of seal lines.
The pattern of seal lines form an inflation channel which extends linearly along the length of the sheets for receiving pressurized air from an outlet end of an inflation tube.
The pattern of seal lines also form a plurality of individual inflatable strips of multiple bubble cushioning structures which extend laterally from the inflation channel.
Each individual inflatable strip has a plurality of bubble chambers with each bubble chamber interconnected to an adjacent bubble chamber by an interconnecting passageway which is smaller in size and internal volume than the bubble chambers but which is sufficiently large to enable air volume and pressure in one inflatable bubble chamber to be transmitted to adjacent bubble chambers for distributing a shock load on one bubble chamber along the entire length of the individual inflatable strip of interconnected bubble chambers.
Each individual inflatable strip of multiple bubble cushioning structures has an entrance port connecting the first bubble chamber in the strip to the inflation channel for receiving pressurized air at the inflation station to inflate all of the bubble chambers in the individual inflatable strip.
The entrance port is configured to permit the entrance port to be sealed by a line seal formed across the entrance port by a heated sealing element at a sealing station as the web of film material is continuously and uninterruptedly transported through the sealing station after the bubble chambers have been inflated at the inflation station.
Each individual inflatable strip is defined between two laterally extending spaced apart peripheral seal lines of the pattern. The peripheral seal lines have an undulating configuration free of corner shapes or sharp bends which could concentrate stresses.
The peripheral seal lines have a generally sinusoidal configuration as viewed from above the web formed by the two sheets.
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention the bubble chambers in one individual inflatable strip are laterally offset with respect to the bubble chambers in an immediately adjacent individual inflatable strip so that a bubble chamber in one inflatable strip is opposite an interconnecting passageway in an immediately adjacent inflatable strip.
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention a peripheral seal line on one side of a first inflatable strip is also a peripheral seal line for a second individual inflatable strip which is immediately adjacent said one side of the first inflatable strip.
In the present invention the bubble chambers can be made sufficiently large so that only a single layer of the inflated packaging product can provide the necessary cushioning for many objects.
In one embodiment of the present invention the inflation channel extends along one side edge of the web, and each individual inflatable strip extends across substantially the entire width of the web.
In another embodiment of the present invention the inflation channel extends along a center portion of the web, and the individual inflatable strips extend laterally outwardly from the central inflation channel toward the peripheral side edges of the web.
Inflatable packaging products which incorporate the features described above and which function as described above comprise additional objects of the invention.
Other and further objects of the present invention will be apparent from the following description and claims and are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, which by way of illustration, show preferred embodiments of the present invention and the principles thereof and what are now considered to be the best modes contemplated for applying these principles. Other embodiments of the invention embodying the same or equivalent principles may be used and structural changes may be made as desired by those skilled in the art without departing from the present invention and the purview of the appended claims.
As illustrated in
The machine 19 inflates bubble cushioning structures and interconnecting passageways with pressurized air at an inflation station and seals the pressurized air within the bubble chambers and the interconnecting passageways at a sealing station (as will be described in more detail below).
In the preferred embodiments of the present invention the bubble wrap product 11 is constructed so that the inflation and sealing can be accomplished as the web 11 is moved continuously, without interruption or intermittent stopping, through the machine 19 during a production run. This will also be described in more detail below.
The lower part of
In the inflated form individual inflated strips 21 extend laterally across the width of the web 11.
Each individual inflated strip 21 comprises a series of inflated bubble chambers 23 with each bubble chamber 23 interconnected to an adjacent bubble chamber 23 by an interconnecting passageway 25.
The interconnecting passageways 25 are smaller in size and internal volume than the bubble chambers 23, but the passageways 25 are sufficiently large to enable air volume and pressure in one inflated bubble chamber 23 to be transmitted to adjacent bubble chambers 23 for distributing a shock load (imposed on or near one bubble chamber 23) along the entire length of the individual strip 21 of interconnected bubble chambers 23.
The interconnecting passageways 25 also function to facilitate bending or creasing of the packaging product 11 by folding or bending along a line passing through the passageways 23 at any one of a number of varied angles. This function will be better understood with reference to
A seal line 27 produced by the inflating and sealing machine 19 (see the bottom part of
The length of the inflated packaging product to be used for any particular application can be determined either by cutting across the inflated web 11 or by detaching along preformed perforation lines (not shown in FIG. 1).
The seal line 27 is formed by the inflating and sealing machine 19, but the seal line pattern on the upper part of the web 11 shown in
Pattern forming machines of these kinds are disclosed in several of the U.S. patents which are incorporated by reference in this application.
The web 11 is formed of a first sheet of film material and a second sheet of film material with both sheets having substantially equal lengths and substantially widths.
The first and second sheet can be separate sheets or can be a single sheet that is folded over to provide the two sheets.
The two sheets are joined together in a web by the pattern of seal lines shown in the top part of FIG. 1.
The pattern of seal lines shown in the top part of
In the particular embodiment of the packaging product 11 shown in
In the embodiment shown in
The inflation channel 31 is defined between spaced apart seal lines 33 and 35.
The seal line 33 is opened at spaced intervals to provide outlet ports 37. The outlet ports 37 function to permit a certain amount of the inflation pressure in the inflation channel 31 to be vented to atmosphere.
In addition, the air that exits from the outlet ports 37 can be sensed by a pressure transducer (as described in application Ser. No. 09/638,843 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,150 incorporated by reference in this application) to allow for accurate position sensing of the individual inflatable strips 21 as these strips move through the machine 19. This sensing of escaping air through the outlet ports 37 can be used as signals for counting the number of strips inflated in a particular run through the machine and can also be used to stop the movement of the web 18 through the machine, after one production run of a selected number of inflated strips, at a position which is the right position to start a subsequent production run of a selected number of inflated strips 21.
The seal line 35 is open at intervals to provide entrance ports 41. The entrance ports 41 permit pressurized air from the inflation channel 31 to enter the individual inflatable strips 21 for inflating the bubble chambers 23 and interconnecting passageways 25 (as described above).
Each individual and inflatable strip 21 is defined between two laterally extending seal lines 43.
In the preferred embodiments of the invention shown in
As can best be seen by viewing the lower part of
The seal line 27 shown in the lower part of
The machine 19 shown in
A short summary of the parts of that machine as shown in
The machine 19 includes a first set of film transport rollers 51, a second set of film transport rollers 53 and a drive mechanism, including a drive belt 55, for driving the film transport rollers 51 and 53.
An outlet bulb 57 of an inflation tube 59 is positioned within the inflation channel 31 and introduces air under pressure into the inflation channel for inflating the individual inflatable strips 21 by causing pressurized air to flow through the entrance ports 41.
The outlet ports 37 which are opposite certain ones of the entrance ports 41 serve to regulate the level of the air pressure within the inflation channel 31 (as described in more detail in co-pending application Ser. No. 09/638,843 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,150 incorporated by reference in this application).
The seal line 27 is formed across the entrance ports 41 as the strip of the film which contains the entrance ports 41 is passed through a sealing station. The film is engaged with a sealing wheel 61 on one side of the film 11 and is engaged with a heated sealing element on the other side of the film. The heated sealing element includes a fabric covered, electrically heated Nicrom wire.
A slitting station (not shown in
The pressure of the inflation air can range from ½ pounds per square inch gauge to 10 pounds per square inch gauge.
The material of the two sheets making up the web 11 can be low density polyethylene or can be high density polyethylene. The thickness of the web 11 can be one mil to ten mils.
The height of an inflated bubble chamber 23 can be from ¼ inch to 9 inches.
The configuration of each seal line 43, as viewed from above in
In a specific embodiment as illustrated in
The center line of each individual inflatable strip 21 preferably extends orthogonally across the width of the web 11, but the center line could be itself a wavy configuration and could extend at some angle other than directly orthogonal.
The embodiment of the patterned web 11 shown in
In the embodiment shown in
As noted above, the interconnecting passageways 25 in particular are readily foldable and bendable along lines as needed to facilitate conforming of the inflated packaging product 11 to the particular object being shipped. The construction of the individual inflatable strips which permits a certain amount of bending or compressing of some parts of the inflated strip (by transferring pressurized air to other parts of the inflated strip) also facilitates conformation of the packaging product to the configuration of the object being shipped.
The conformability of the packaging product (the ability to wrap all surfaces of the object, including corner areas of the object) provides cushioning against shock loads imposed at any angle on the outer shipping container 11.
While we have illustrated and described the preferred embodiments of our invention, it is to be understood that these are capable of variation and modification, and we therefore do not wish to be limited to the precise details set forth, but desire to avail ourselves of such changes and alterations as fall within the purview of the following claims.
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|1||Air-Fil 1200 photographs (no date but prior to application's filing date).|
|2||Claims from 10/031,111 (PCT/NL01/00351).|
|3||Fuss and Yampolsky declaration, 09/488,622.|
|U.S. Classification||428/166, 229/87.02, 206/522, 428/178|
|International Classification||B32B3/00, B65D81/02, B65D81/03, B31D5/00, B32B7/14|
|Cooperative Classification||B32B2309/10, Y10T428/24851, Y10T428/24562, B32B3/26, Y10T428/24661, B31D5/0073, B32B2553/026, B65D81/052, B65D81/03|
|European Classification||B65D81/03, B31D5/00C7, B32B3/26, B65D81/05A1|
|Jun 6, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA, N.A., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FREE-FLOW PACKAGING INTERNATIONAL, INC.;REEL/FRAME:019390/0271
Effective date: 20070530
|Sep 6, 2011||RR||Request for reexamination filed|
Effective date: 20110721
|Jan 13, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8