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United States Patent
Hoover et al.
US00RE36501E  [ii] E Patent Number:
 Reissued Date of Patent:
 METHOD FOR PRODUCING INFLATED DUNNAGE
 Inventors: Gregory A. Hoover, 700 Scotland St., Dunedin, Fla. 34698; Roger A. Hoover, 2661 Crystal Cir., Dunedin, Fla. 34698; E. Riley Rowe, 519 White Oak Cir., Hartsville, S.C. 29550; David L. Rowe, 11904 E. Appaloosa Run, Raleigh, N.C. 27613
[ * ] Notice: This patent is subject to a terminal disclaimer.
 Appl. No.: 09/145,666  Filed: Sep. 2, 1998
Related U.S. Patent Documents
 Patent No.: 5,552,003
Issued: Sep. 3, 1996
Appl. No.: 08/317,760
Filed: Oct. 4, 1994
 Int. CI.7 B65B 61/00; B63B 25/24
 U.S. CI 156/147; 156/156; 156/292;
156/308.4; 53/472; 410/119
 Field of Search 156/147, 156,
156/198, 292, 308.4; 53/472, 474, 445;
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
Primary Examiner—Sam Chuan Yao  ABSTRACT
A method for producing inflated dunnage on the site ol use, comprising providing, in rolled form, a plurality ol preformed plastic bags, each ol the bags comprising two plastic sheets in lacing relationship and sealed along three edges with one edge remaining open. Air is blown toward each ol the open edges in sequence, causing each bag to inflate, and the fourth edge ol each inflated bag is sealed, the bag being empty except for the air. At least one sealed inflated bag is separated from the roll and placed in a carton to serve as dunnage. In an alternate embodiment, the stock material is provided in a continuous tubular form, and an air inflation needle is used to puncture a surface ol the tube for inflation purposes.
9 Claims, 2 Drawing Sheets
METHOD FOR PRODUCING INFLATED
Matter enclosed in heavy brackets [ ] appears in the original patent but forms no part of this reissue specification; matter printed in italics indicates the additions made by reissue.
This application is a reissue ofSer. No. 081317,760, filed on Oct. 4, 1994 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,552.003.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to a process for producing dunnage directly on the site of use.
Materials with low density and high volume are commonly used as packing materials to insulate goods being shipped from shock. Among the materials used are polystyrene "peanuts," cups and "worms," pellets of foam rubber foam, plastics and expanded polyurethane foam. Air cushioning material is generally preferred over the above types of dunnage because it is lighter in weight, can be supplied and dispensed in a controlled manner, particularly in roll form, and applied to the product to be shipped in sheet form. The sheet form of material is also easier to dispose than the individual pieces of plastic dunnage after the product is removed, and the sheet form of material can be rewound for further use or disposed of by deflation.
However, air cushioning material also presents a variety of problems, as large volumes of the material must be kept on hand, and due to the necessity of shipping this material from the producer, shipping costs can be considerable.
In order to overcome these problems, devices have been proposed to produce sealed air dunnage on site from plastic sheets. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,188,691, 5,203,761, and 4,576,669 all propose devices for producing air filled dunnage, typically bubble wrap, from plastic sheets on an "on demand" basis.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,575,757 discloses a process for producing dunnage on site from plastic sheets in which opposed sheets are bonded together in a U-shaped seal to form a pocket, the pocket is inflated and then sealed by the formation of a subsequent U-shaped seal.
However, the above methods of producing dunnage are somewhat disadvantageous, as the apparatus necessary to handle two separate sheets of plastic is somewhat complex and difficult to operate. When used on site, it is typically operated by people whose expertise is not in the production of dunnage and who have some difficulty operating the equipment at peak efficiency.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is therefore an object of the invention to produce dunnage on site in a simplified manner.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dunnage on site by a method which can be operated easily by personnel without expertise in the production of dunnage.
To achieve these and other objects, the present invention provides a method for producing dunnage comprising the steps of providing, in roll form, a plurality of preformed plastic bags, each of said bags comprising two plastic sheets in facing relationship and sealed along three edges thereof with one edge remaining open, the bags being releasably attached in sequence along two opposed edges, blowing air toward each said open edge causing each said bag to inflate in sequence, sealing the fourth edge of each said inflated bag, the bag being empty except for air during the sealing
operation, separating at least one sealed inflated bag from the roll of bags and placing the separated sealed bag in a carton to serve as dunnage.
Typically, a roll of bags will be provided which is seg5 mented longitudinally, but a roll can also be provided which is segmented both longitudinally and laterally, to produce a roll with, for example, four bags across or eight bags across. The bags can be separated from the roll individually and placed in a carton, or can be separated in groups of at least 1° two bags, and typically more. This is advantageous, as the dunnage which is produced can be wrapped around an object and taped together just as bubble wrap would be, and which is as easy to dispose of or reuse as bubble wrap. The inflated dunnage of the invention is, however, much easier to pro15 duce than bubble wrap.
In a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the external surface of the bags can be treated to impart greater tack, as compared with the inner surface. Increasing the tackiness of the surface of plastic bags in order to enable 20 them to open more easily is known, for example, from U.S. Pat. No. 4,904,092, in which bags are coated with an adhesive. Alternatively, a tacky outer surface can be provided by coextruding two or more bag layers of differing tack. Increasing the tack of this outside surface of the bags 25 is also desirable in that the bags will tend to interlock in use and prevent the packaged product from moving.
Various types and thicknesses of material can be used to make the bags of the invention. Among these materials are nylon film, high density polyethylene and low density polyethylene. Nylon film will keep air trapped for a long period of time, while high density polyethylene is strong and also holds air for a long period of time. Low density polyethylene tends to be inexpensive and will typically be used. The thickness of the films can be adjusted to provide extra strength or light weight, depending on which properties are desired.
It is also possible to produce the plastic film with degradable additives in order to aid in disposal.
4q Importantly, the apparatus used to inflate and seal plastic bags is well known and easy to operate. Typically, an air filled sealed bag will be used for packaging a small article. In this regard, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,254,828, 3,298,156 and 3,477,196 are cited as representative patents showing mefh
45 ods and apparatus for blowing open bags on rolls, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,103,471 is cited to show an apparatus for packaging materials in a protective atmosphere, in which a foodstuff is packaged in a bag under an inert atmosphere and the bag is then sealed.
50 In an additional embodiment of the invention, the starting material is not a roll of plastic bags, but rather a stock material comprising two plastic sheets in facing relationship which are sealed together along the longitudinal outer edges, or a single sheet sealed into tubular form. This roll of stock
55 material is unrolled and a first lateral seal is placed across the material. Unrolling is then continued, and an inflation needle punctures one of the plastic sheets. Air is blown through the needle, causing an inflated "pillow" to form at least between the needle and the seal. In carrying out this process, the
60 inflated area actually extends back as far as the point which there is pressure keeping the facing plastic sheets from separating, either at the roll itself or at rollers assisting in the unrolling of the stock material.
After a pillow is formed, the needle is withdrawn from
65 between the sheets, and substantially simultaneously, another lateral seal is formed across the area from which the needle was removed. Each seal thus forms an inflated pillow,