Display containers with removable panel

A one-piece container having a top and bottom, front, back and end walls is configured for storing, shipping and displaying the container contents. A tear-out panel with multiple glued thicknesses spans a portion of adjacent walls, especially the front and adjacent top, and is removable to expose the contents. A reinforcing inside panel backs the tear-out area and also marginal areas around the tear-out panel in the front wall and top portion. The reinforcing panel can be a folded back extension from a top flap or laterally-inward extensions from column forming end wall structures. An outer ply of a portion of the tear-out panel may be removed prior to shipping, leaving the inside reinforcement panel to cover part of the opening, and simplifying tear-out. Containers incorporating this reinforced front and top panel display design can be either a unitary bottom construction, or a multi-piece folded bottom construction.

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Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to paperboard, corrugated craft and similar containers in which goods are packed for shipping, wherein the containers used for shipping, or parts thereof, also display the goods at the destination and permit customer access.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is desirable to structure a shipping container to support stresses associated with supporting products in the containers and also stresses resulting from stacking two or more containers atop one another. Various techniques have been employed to strengthen containers. The material thickness of the container walls can be made more or less, e.g., by choice of material or by providing more or fewer overlapping plies. Added support structures can be included such as reinforcing webs, hollow walls, inserts and so forth.

Material additions, structural complexities for reinforcement and the like, add strength, but only at the expense of using up some of the volume available within the outer boundaries of the container. Some containers are used for displaying products at their shipping destinations. Structural reinforcements are usually inconsistent with providing easy product access provisions such as removable lids or panels.

Containers that are intended to present goods in an appealing visual way and/or to invite customers to reach in to remove goods from the container, advantageously have ample openings. The openings permit lines of sight to the products and room for manually reaching for the items in the containers.

Containers with openings can be integrally structured so that the product is exposed when originally packed, or the containers can have panels that are readily removed to expose the products. Container lids are routinely removed or folded back and provide a type of removable panel, but removing lid panels alone generally is insufficient to attractively display the product or to convert the container from an enclosed shipping container to a more open and accessible product carrier.

Containers can bear rough handling during shipping and also when used as receptacles for products on display. Containers are known that completely enclose products during shipping and are modified by removal of tear-off panels for use as displays. Whether a container is structured originally with openings or provided with removable panels, the openings reduce the area over which the container contents are covered and protected, and the openings can compromise the structural integrity of the container. Openings often detract from stacking strength or container rigidity, that might be available if the openings were occupied by container material.

Recognizing that openings can limit container strength and expose the contents to damage, providing removable panels and the like are useful because greater protection is provided before the panel is removed, during shipping, and greater exposure is provided after the panel is removed, for display and access. Similar advantages may be provided by using outer shipping containers that enclose and protect inner display containers. There is a need to resolve conflicts between desirable strength and product protection versus the need for access openings and display exposure. It would be advantageous on one level to determine the optimal balance between these interests. On another level, it would be advantageous to provide new structures that tend to serve both interests at the same time.

Some previous efforts to resolve the need for stacking strength, rigidity variations in containers having windows or structured openings are shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,839,650; 6,098,873; 6,029,886; 5,826,728; 5,524,815; 5,413,276 (each to P. Sheffer). The teachings of these patents are hereby incorporated.

A shipping carton or container or box can be integrally made from a thickness of paperboard, corrugated craft or similar sheet material that has been cut from a blank and creased along spaced parallel lines. The panels between successive spaced creases define the side wall panels. In a nominal orientation (and assuming a rectilinear configuration), the side wall panels can be in vertical planes when the creased blank is opened to the extent that the creases form 90° folds at each of the four corners, as seen in plan view. Arbitrarily, two opposite vertical walls can be deemed the front and back side walls. The remaining opposite vertical side walls can be deemed the end walls.

In single-piece integral die cuts, the bottom may be formed by one complete panel, or the bottom may have bottom flaps that are joined at creases to the side walls and folded inwardly under the container. Similarly, along the free edges along the top edge, the side walls can each have at least one flap to be folded inwardly to form a top. Alternatively, extensions that occupy the same structural locations on the die cut as such flaps can be provided at the top and/or bottom edges of one or more side wall panels. The extensions are foldable to form reinforcing structures when folded inwardly in a lateral or longitudinal direction relative to a side wall panel.

There are numerous possibilities for arranging adjacent panels of an integral die cut sheet. Some panels can be joined to adjacent panels at creases. Some panels can be joined at tearable perforation lines. Some panels can be separated from adjacent panels by die cut slots. Portions of the sheet can be removed to leave gaps. Given the numerous possibilities, a challenge is presented to produce a container that is protective during shipping and stacking, and also permits access to the product (with or without the need to remove a tear-away panel or to remove an outer covering container).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Additional objects and aspects of the invention will become apparent from the following discussion of examples.

A container Is disclosed comprising a plurality of panels formed integrally from a sheet of material, the panels defining a bottom, longitudinally opposite first and second end walls, and laterally opposite front and back walls. At least one in-fold flap is coupled to an edge of at least one of the front and back walls defining an access wall, the flap being foldable into a position forming part of a top of the container. A tear-out panel is disposed in a portion of the container encompassing part of said access wall and part of the at least one in-fold flap coupled thereto, the tear-out panel being configured and joined to the sheet at a weakened line so as to be removable by a user to form an opening in at least a portion of the access wall and a portion of the top of the container along the in-fold flap, to allow access to an interior portion of the container. At least a portion of the access wall and its respective top in-fold flap can comprise a plural thickness of the material of the sheet when the container is configured to an assembled state.

The weakened line joining the tear-out panel to the sheet is spaced from at least one fold at a perimeter of the access wall, thereby leaving a marginal part of the access wall in placed when the tear-out panel has been removed. The portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the front wall can be separately removable from the portion of the panel disposed in the in-fold flap.

The plural thickness of the access wall and thee top in-fold flap comprise a reinforcing layer of said material, coupled at substantially a 180 degree fold to an edge of the in-fold flap opposite from the access wall. The reinforcing layer can occupy an area on an inside surface of the in-fold flap and at least part of the access wall. The reinforcing layer can be substantially coextensive with the access wall and forms a part of the tear-out panel. Further, the reinforcing layer can be adhered to an inside surface of the access wall. The reinforcing layer can also be adhered to an edge portion of the access wall outside of the tear-out panel.

The plural thickness of the access wall and the top in-fold flap may comprise a reinforcing layer of material, extending laterally from a fold along at least one edge of the access wall and adhered to an inside surface of the access wall. The reinforcing layer can comprise a lateral extension from the access wall including a column forming extension and a distal panel adhered to said inside surface of the access wall.

A lateral extension may be provided on each opposite side of the access wall, each including a column forming extension and a distal panel adhered to the inside surface of the access wall. The reinforcing layer can occupy an area on an inside surface of the in-fold flap and at least part of the access wall. The reinforcing layer may be substantially coextensive with the access wall and may form a part of the tear-out panel.

The container can be configured so that each end wall has an outer end wall panel joined to the bottom, the end wall panel having end, top and inner panel portions. Each front and back wall further can comprise a side portion joined to the bottom, and a pair of column-forming panels, one of the column-forming panels disposed adjacent to the first end wall and the other column-forming panel disposed adjacent to the second end wall. Each column-forming panel can further having an assembled configuration in which the panel is folded to assume a column member having a substantially polygonal shape corresponding to a shape of the end wall. Furthermore, each end wall panel can be sized and configured such that when a pair of associated column-forming panels are in the assembled configuration, the end, top and inner panel portions of the end wall are foldable about the resulting column members and securable to the bottom or adjacent front or back wall to form the first or second end wall to configure the container to the assembled state.

A distal edge of the inner panel portion of each end wall can comprise a locking tab that engages with a slot in at least one of the bottom and front or back walls when the extension is folded over the associated column members. The front and back walls can comprise a tab receptacle into which the tab locks in the assembled state of the container.

The front and back walls and the end walls may be integrally joined at mutually orthogonal folds to the bottom, and at least one of the pair of said column forming panels may be integrally joined to the respective front or back wall at fold lines perpendicular to said one of the folds joining the side portion to the bottom. Each of the column forming panel of the pair can comprise a terminal tab portion that is folded inwardly and glued to an inside of the associated wall such that a terminal edge of one tab portion abuts the terminal edge of the other tab portion. Further, each of the column members associated with the first and second end walls can be sized to span about half of a lateral width of the respective end wall.

Each of the column members associated with the first and second end walls can be sized to span less than half of a lateral width of the respective end wall. The front, back and end walls may be integral with the bottom, and the column-forming panels may be integral with their respective front and back walls. A portion of each column-forming panel may be adhesively attached to a respective front or back wall to form the associated column member. The adhesively attached portion of each column member can be sized to span approximately half a lateral width of the associated front or back wall such that when the container is in the assembled state, the front and back walls comprise a plural thickness of material. The adhesively attached portion of the column members associated with the front wall may be further sized and configured to be adhesively attached to at least a portion of the in-fold flap associated with the front wall to provide a reinforcing layer over at least a portion of the flap.

The reinforcing layer has a width equal to or less than a distance between the inner panel portions of opposite end walls to allow the top in-fold panel to engage the top panel portion of each end wall when the in-fold panel is folded to form the top of the container.

The plural thickness of material of the front wall and its associated in-fold flap may be provided by a reinforcing panel folded inwardly along an edge of the in-fold flap, the edge oriented substantially parallel to a fold joining the front wall to the container bottom. The reinforcing panel may be adhered to at least a portion of the front wall and its associated in-fold flap, the reinforcing panel further comprising a tear-out portion configured to substantially correspond to the tear-out panel of the front wall and flap to allow the tear-out portion and tear-out panel to be removed together. The reinforcing panel may have a longitudinal width less than a distance between the inner panel portions of opposite end walls to prevent interference of the panel with the end walls when configuring the container to the assembled state.

The container may have second and third sets of opposite in-fold flaps; the second set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of the front and back walls opposite the first set of in-fold flaps; the third set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of respective first and second end walls; wherein the second and third sets of flaps are foldable into a position forming the bottom of the container. The container further may have a fourth set of opposite in-fold flaps, the fourth set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of respective first and second end walls opposite the third set of in-fold flaps, the fourth set of flaps foldable into a position beneath the first set of flaps to form the top of the container. The fourth set of flaps may comprise a cutout segment disposed in a portion of each flap located directly adjacent the front wall, the cutouts having a contour that substantially corresponds to an outer contour of the portion of the tear-out panel overlying the flaps when the first and fourth sets of flaps are folded to form the top of the container. The portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the in-fold flap can be separately removable both from the portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the front wall and from the tear-out portion of the reinforcing panel disposed in the front wall and in-fold flap.

A container is disclosed, comprising a plurality of corrugated paperboard panels defining a bottom, a top, laterally opposite front and back walls, and longitudinally opposite end walls. First and second opposing flaps can be associated with the front and back wall, respectively, each flap being integrally connected to its respective wall along a longitudinally disposed fold line. A reinforcing panel can be adhered to the front wall and the first flap to provide a plural thickness of material thereto. A tear-out panel can be disposed in a continuous portion of the front wall, the first flap, and the associated reinforcing panel, wherein the tear-out panel is removable by a user to allow access to an interior portion of the container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A number of additional objects and aspects are apparent from the appended description and the associated illustrations of preferred embodiments, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an assembled container according to aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the container of FIG. 1 in the unassembled “flat” condition;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 1, in a smaller size configuration;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the container of FIG. 3 in the unassembled “flat” condition;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the container of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the container of FIG. 3 in the unassembled “flat” condition;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 5, in a smaller size configuration;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the container of FIG. 7 in the unassembled “flat” condition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a reinforced container 10 has a front wall 20 a back wall 30, and end walls 40 projecting upwardly from a one-piece bottom 50. Front and back walls 20, 30 and end walls 40 are integral with container bottom 50 and are joined to bottom 50 by respective longitudinally extending folds 120, 130 and transversely extending folds 140, respectively. The front and back walls 20, 30 have in-fold flaps 22, 32, for forming a top of the container when folded over parallel to the bottom 50. A tear-out panel 21 is formed in a portion of the front wall 20 and extends onto its associated in-fold flap 22 to allow for easy access to the contents of the container 10 and to provide an attractive display appearance.

In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the bottom is comprised of a plurality of in-fold flaps 1050a-d instead of a one-piece continuous bottom panel as in FIGS. 1 and 2. Advantageously, all the panels forming container 10 are integral portions of a single flat blank 1 shown in FIG. 2, and are cut, folded and attached to one another to form the assembled container, for example as shown in FIG. 1.

In this description, terms concerning relative directions and positions such as “horizontal”, “vertical”, “left”, “right”, “up“, “down”, “top”, and “bottom”, etc., or “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear” and “side”, etc., whether used as nouns, adjectives or adverbs, refer to the orientation of the structure of the invention or the relative position of panels as the article is illustrated in the particular drawing figure under discussion. The container of the invention can be placed in any orientation such as resting on its top, bottom, side, end or the like, and the respective tear-out panels can likewise be located in any of the panels, provided that the container meets the claims defining the invention when in at least one corresponding orientation. In short, terms of relative position and orientation are not intended to limit the invention to a particular orientation.

The terms “connected“ and “interconnected”, when used to describe the relationship between two or more structures, mean that such structures are secured or attached either directly or indirectly through intervening structures and include movable connections such as pivoting connections as well as creases, perforation lines, score lines and the like. The term “operatively” means that the foregoing direct or indirect connections between such structures allow the structures to operate as described and intended by virtue of such connection. The term “integral” or “integrally connected” when used to describe the relationship between two or more structures means that the structures are parts of a single piece of material, but does not exclude perforations, scores or other subdivisions.

Furthermore, the term “column” when used to describe structural members means a member formed from the combination of two or more thicknesses of material. The thicknesses of material in a column may or may not include a gap or space between the thicknesses.

Lines representing fold lines are shown in the drawings by broken and solid lines that represent lines along which the material can be weakened or caused preferentially to fold by any of various means. For example, corrugated or other material can be compressed along a thin line defining a fold, or can be cut part way through along the line, or cut all or part way through the line, or cut all or part way through at spaced intervals, forming preferential fold lines in the knocked-down flat (“KDF”) blank and/or in the erected container.

Furthermore, portions of joints in which the glue surfaces are exposed to view in a drawing are shown in the relevant figures by “XXX” patterns. Areas where glue on a rear face of a respective panel is relevant are at times shown in broken line “XXX” patterns, indicating that the adhering surface is opposite from (behind) the side shown.

Referring again to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, front and back walls 20, 30 are of plural thickness along at least a portion of their width “w”. The end walls 40 comprise column structures and thus are also of plural thickness. The end walls 40 each comprise integrally formed inner 42, exterior 44 and top 46 panels, with each panel integrally connected to its adjoining panel via a respective transverse fold line 140b, c. The exterior panel 44 is integrally connected to the container bottom 50 via transverse fold line 140a. Thus arranged, interior panel 42 folds over a pair of front and back column members created by column-forming panels 70, 72, which themselves are integral to front and back sides 20, 30 respectively. Locking tabs 142 protrude laterally outward from the interior panel 42 and engage corresponding openings 128, 138 in the column forming panels 70, 72. These locking tabs 142 maintain the column members in position within the interior and exterior panels 42, 44 and also maintain the vertical orientation of the end walls 40.

Column-forming panels 70, 72 are formed from a number of integrally connected sub-panels, namely inner 24, 34, outer 26, 36 and lateral reinforcing 28, 38 panel segments. The inner and outer panels fold upon one another to form the column members that are enclosed by end wall panels 42, 44, 46, while the lateral reinforcing panels 28, 38 fold inwardly and are glued to the interior of front and back walls 20, 30, respectively, to provide the walls 20, 30 with a plural thickness of material over substantially their entire height “h” an width “w.” Advantageously, the column members are formed as integral extensions of the front and back walls 20, 30 instead of extensions of the end walls 40. This arrangement ensures that the columns, which provide stiffness to the container 10, remain in tight engagement with the front and back walls 20, 30 to provide maximum reinforcement of the container along traditionally low-strength and high-stress areas such as corner diagonals “A-A.”

Additional reinforcement of corner diagonals “A-A” is provided by the placement and gluing of the flap panels 28, 38 to provide a plural-thickness layer over the entire height “h” of the front and back walls 20, 30. A portion of this plural-thickness layer forms the innermost portion of the corner diagonal “A-A,” which is typically the portion that is subject to tearing in the prior art containers.

The container 10 has a tear-out panel 21 disposed in a portion of the front wall 20 and its associated top in-fold flap 22. This tear-out panel 21 allows the user to expose the contents of the container simply by removing the panel. This is an advantage because it allows the container to be used for the display of products, rather than simply for product storage and handling. It also allows for easy access to the contents of the container even where multiple containers are stacked on top of one another.

The tear-out panel 21 is preferably perforated along its perimeter during manufacture, and thus is easily removed by hand simply by pulling. One or more finger holes 25 are provided along the bottom portion of the panel for facilitating grasping the edge with one or more fingers or with a tool.

Referring to FIG. 2, each segment of column-forming panels 70, 72 is integrally connected to an adjoining segment via a respective transverse fold line 71a, b, c; 73a, b, c, thus allowing the segments to be folded together to form respective column members. The column members are formed from respective inner and outer panel segments 24, 26; 34, 36 to provide two-ply sandwich style columns. A pair of column members will combine to form the structural core of each end wall 40. The end wall panels 42, 44, 46 are sized and configured to enclose the column members which will be assembled and folded into place prior to folding the end wall panels 42, 44, 46.

In one embodiment, the column-forming panels 70, 72 are dimensioned such that each of the resulting column members has a width approximately half the width “w1” of the container 10 and a height approximately equal to the container height “h.” Alternatively, the column-forming panels can be dimensioned to provide column members having a width that is less than half the width “w1” of the container.

The lateral flap panel segments 28, 38 of column-forming panels 70, 72 do not form a part of the column members, but rather are used to maintain the column members in the assembled state, and for this purpose they are folded away from the column members and adhered to adjoining portions of the respective front and back walls 20, 30. The lateral flap panel segments 28, 38 also provide the front and back walls with a plural thickness material, thus reinforcing the walls. In the illustrated embodiment, the lateral flap panel segments 28, 38 cover approximately half the width “w” and the full height “h” of the corresponding front and back walls 20, 30 to provide a full reinforcing thickness to the front and back walls As will be appreciated by one of skill in the art, the lateral flap panel segments 28, 38 can be dimensioned to cover greater or lesser portions of the front and back walls, as desired.

In addition to reinforcing the front and back walls 20, 30, each column-forming panel 70 has a panel segment 29 configured to reinforce at least a portion of the top in-fold flap 22 associated with the front wall 20. As previously noted, this top in-fold flap incorporates an upper portion of tear-out panel 21. Thus, reinforcing this in-fold flap 22 minimizes the chance for tearing or breakage of the flap 22 upon removal of the tear-out panel 21. It also serves to strengthen the access opening created upon panel removal, and further maximizes the strength and rigidity of the container 10.

Reinforcing panel segments 29 are connected to lateral segments 28 along fold lines 128 and are positioned to overlie in-fold flap 22 when the container is assembled. Each reinforcing panel segment 29 is sized to cover approximately half the width and the full height of the in-fold flap 22 such that the extreme lateral edges 129 of opposing reinforcing panel segments 29 abut one another when the two are engaged with in-fold flap 22.

In one embodiment, the reinforcing panel segments 29 may be configured to be slightly narrower than the top in-fold flap 22 so that when assembled, the flap 22 is left with a pair of un-reinforced marginal areas 222 along its lateral edges 122. These un-reinforced areas 222 are about the same width as that of the top panel 46 of each end wall so that when the container top is closed, the top in-fold flap 22 can lie flat against the top surface of the end wall, even with the other top in-fold flap 32 (the flap associated with back wall 30) which itself is provided with only a single thickness of material.

As previously noted, a tear-out panel 21 is provided to allow a user to remove a preconfigured portion of the front and top of the container 10 to provide visual or physical access to the interior and its contents. Accessing the container interior in this manner is easier and more convenient than requiring the user to un-tape or pull apart the top flaps 22, 32 of the container 10, particularly where the multiple containers of the type are placed in a stacked arrangement. Having a preconfigured tear-out panel also allows the manufacturer to control the display appearance of the container, since a clean-cut display opening can be preconfigured to suit the product application. This display feature may be further enhanced by manufacturing the container from printable materials, so that decorative or advertising graphics may be printed directly on the exterior of the container.

The tear-out panel 21 comprises at least a portion of the front wall 20 and the top in-fold flap 22 of the container, and preferably has a perforated perimeter with a pre-configured geometry corresponding to the shape and size of the desired opening. The perforations should be configured so that the panel forms part of the container wall 20 during shipping, handling and storage, but is easily detachable by hand.

As shown in FIG. 2, the tear-out panel 21 is substantially centered within the panel formed by the combination of the front wall 20 and the top in-fold flap 22. The portion of the tear-out panel 21 disposed within the front wall 20 is designated 21a, while the portion disposed within the top in-fold panel 22 is designated 21b. A marginal area 23 bounds the tear-out panel and constitutes the portion of the front wall 20 and top in-fold flap 22 remaining after the tear-out panel 21 is removed. Thus, the tear-out panel 21 remains part of the container structure during shipping and storage but is easily removable when desired by the user.

As previously noted, the front wall 20 and top in-fold flap 22 each have a double thickness of material due to the positioning of reinforcing panels 28 and 29. The perforations in the front wall 20 and in-fold flap 22 therefore preferably penetrate both thicknesses of material to allow the tear-out panel 21 to be easily removed as a single piece. The perforations in each panel may be formed while the container is in the flat condition of FIG. 2, or they may be formed after the lateral flap panel 28 and reinforcing panel 29 have been glued to the front wall 20 and top in-fold flap 22.

To aid in removal of the tear-out panel 21, the front wall 20 can have one or more pre-formed cutouts 25 to allow the user to grasp the edge or inner surface of the panel 21 directly. These cutouts can assume any desired configuration, and in the illustrated embodiment they are semicircular finger holes. In one embodiment, the cutouts 25 are formed in the front wall 20, and correspondingly shaped and positioned cutout panels 125 are provided in the reinforcing lateral flap panel 28 so that when the container is assembled (with lateral flap panel 28 adhered to front wall 20) the cutouts are solidly backed by the cutout panels 125. The cutout panels 125 preferably maintain the integrity of the container during shipping and storage, but are provided with perforated perimeters to allow easy removal for user access to the full edge of the tear-out panel 21.

Since top in-fold flap 22 and front wall 20 are both formed of plural material layers, folding the flap 22 along its longitudinal fold 121 can result in an uneven fold or delamination of the material layers. To alleviate this problem, one of the layers of tear-out panel portion 21b can be removed during manufacture, thus leaving only a single layer of material to be folded. In one embodiment, the exterior layer of material (i.e. that formed by the top in-fold panel 22) can be removed, leaving the interior layer of material formed by reinforcing flaps 29. Preferably, this exterior layer is cut out of the top in-fold flap 22 during manufacture of the container blank 1.

To assemble the container 10, inner and outer panels 24, 26; 34, 36, respectively, are folded onto one another to form the column members. Lateral flap panels 28, 38 are folded along lines 71c, 73c and glued to respective front and back walls 20, 30 and reinforcing panels 29 are glued to top in-fold panel 22. End wall panels 42, 44, 46 are then folded along transverse fold lines 140a, b, c, to enclose associated pairs of column members, then locking tabs 142 are locked into recesses 128, 138 formed in lateral flap panels 28, 38. The fully assembled container 10 is shown in FIG. 1.

FIGS. 3 & 4 illustrate a half-height version of the container of FIGS. 1 & 2. In this embodiment, locking tabs 142 are provided in the extreme lateral edge of end wall 42 and are configured to engage locking recesses 150 in container bottom 50 at fold line 140a line between the bottom and the end walls. This is in contrast to the container of FIGS. 1 & 2 in which the locking tabs engaged recesses in the side of the front and back walls.

FIGS. 5 & 6 show an alternative example of a container 1000 made of one integral piece of sheet material. The container 1000 has front 1020, back 1030 and end walls 1040a, b, and a top formed from a plurality of upper in-fold panels 1022, 1032, 1042a, b associated with each respective wall. A plurality of lower in-fold panels 1050a-d (FIG. 4) are also associated with these walls 1022, 1032, 1042a, b and likewise cooperate to form the container bottom. A tear-out panel 1021 is provided in the container front wall 1020 and a portion of the in-fold panel 1022 associated therewith, and provides convenient access to the container interior and the products contained inside, as previously described.

Referring to FIG. 6, the front 1020, back 1030 and end 1040a, b walls are longitudinally disposed along flat blank 100, with adjacent walls connected via transverse fold lines 1060a-c. A glue tab flap 1043 is connected to end wall 1040b along transverse fold line 1060d and is positioned so that upon assembly, the walls can be folded along fold lines 1060a-d and the glue tab flap 1043 adhered to the inner surface of back wall 1030 adjacent lateral edge 1031 to thereby hold the container 1000 walls in the assembled state.

Each wall 1020, 1030, 1040a, b is connected to an associated lower in-fold panel 1050a-d along a respective longitudinal fold line 1051a-d. These lower panels are foldable on each other during assembly and attached together to form the container bottom. This attachment can be made using fasteners, adhesive or other means. Each wall is also connected to an associated upper in-fold panel 1022, 1032, 1042a, b along a respective longitudinal fold line 1120, 1031, 1041a, b. Like the lower panels, the upper panels are foldable on each other during assembly and attached together using fasteners, adhesives, etc. to form the container top.

A reinforcing panel 1028 is disposed at the extreme lateral extension 1122 of top in-fold panel 1022 along longitudinal fold line 1121. This reinforcing panel 1028 is sized and configured to approximate the combined shape of front wall 1020 and top in-fold panel 1022 so that when it is folded along line 1121 and adhered to the wall and panel 1030, 1022 it provides the wall and panel with a plural thickness of material over nearly their entire surface.

Reinforcing panel 1028 has a longitudinally disposed interior fold line 1029 that corresponds to the fold line 1120 between the front wall 1030 and the top in-fold panel 1022 to facilitate folding of the top panel 1022 during assembly. The reinforcing panel also has a longitudinal dimension that is slightly smaller than the corresponding width “w” of the front wall 1030 and top in-fold panel 1022, thus leaving a marginal area of width “mt” on either lateral side of those surfaces during assembly. In these lateral marginal areas, the wall 1030 and top panel 1022 comprise only a single thickness of material. This serves two purposes. First, it prevents interference between the reinforcing panel 1028 and the adjacent end walls 11040a, b during container assembly. Second, it allows the top in-fold panel 1022 to lie flat against the container top, even with the other top in-fold panel 1032 (the panel associated with back wall 1030) which itself is only a single thickness of material).

As with the container of FIGS. 1 and 2, container 1000 has a tear-out panel 1021 disposed in a portion of the front wall 1020 and its associated top in-fold flap 1022, as well as the associated reinforcing panel 1028 which backs the wall and flap. As with the previous embodiment, this tear-out panel is substantially centered within the panel formed by the combination of the front wall 1020 and the in-fold flap 1022, and preferably has a perforated perimeter 1028c that is pre-configured to correspond to the desired opening shape and size. Thus, the tear-out panel 1021 remains part of the container structure during shipping and storage but is easily removable when desired by the user. Marginal area 1023 bounds the tear-out panel 1021 and constitutes the portion of the front wall 1030 and top in-fold flap 1022 remaining once the tear-out panel has been removed.

The tear-out panel 1021 can also have at least one pre-formed finger hole cutout 1025 with cutout panel 1125, for facilitating removal of the tear-out panel by the user. The cutout 1025 and cutout panel 1125 preferably have the features described in relation to the cutout 25 and panel 125 described in relation to container 10.

Similar to the tear-out panel 21 of container 10, one of the layers of tear-out panel portion 1021b can be removed during manufacture to enable easy folding of the top in-fold panel with respect to the front wall 1030. In one embodiment, the exterior layer of material (i.e. that formed by the top in-fold panel 1022) can be removed from the tear-out panel, leaving only the interior layer of material formed by reinforcing flap 1028b remaining.

In contrast to container 10 of FIGS. 1 & 2, whose top is formed by folding only a single a pair of top in-fold flaps 22, 32, container 1000 of FIGS. 5 & 6 has a top formed by two pairs of top in-fold flaps 1022, 1032 and 1042a, b. The top in-fold flaps 1022, 1032 associated with front and back walls 1020, 1030 are rectilinear in shape so that when folded they form the outer top surface of the container 1000. The second set of top flaps 1042a, b, i.e. those associated with the end walls 1040a, b, are configured to fold underneath flaps 1022, 1032 to provide support to the upper flaps. Cutouts 1044a, b are therefore provided in flaps 1042a, b to prevent interference between the flaps and the access opening created when the tear-out panel 1021 is removed. As can be seen, these cutouts 1044a, b substantially conform to the portion of the tear-out panel 1021b disposed in top in-fold flap 1022.

As shown in FIG. 6, the top and bottom flaps 1042a, b; 1050a, c associated with the end walls 1040a, b also can be provided with features that allow the user to assemble container 1000 without having to orient the front, back and end walls into a perfect rectangle. Thus, the portion of each top and bottom in-fold flap 1042a, b; 1050c, 1050a associated with the container end walls 1040a, b has a width at transverse fold line 1041a, b; 1051c, 1051a that is slightly smaller than the width “w1” of the end wall itself, to provide increased clearance between the flaps and the front and back walls 1020, 1030. Furthermore, the flaps 1040a, b; 1050a, c are also inwardly tapered, so that they become narrower as they approach their respective extreme longitudinal edge 1142c, 1052a, c.

FIGS. 7 & 8 illustrate a half-height version of the container of FIGS. 5 & 6 and demonstrate that the subject matter of the invention is capable of variations of relatives size. As already discussed, the invention is also capable of existing in different relative orientations, for example in which the removable tear-out panes extends over a front and side, or front and bottom, or side and bottom or other similar variant relative orientation (no attempt being made to represent all such possibilities in the drawings).

The panels forming the container 10, 100 are cut, preferably from a single integral flat blank, then glued and folded. Blank 1, 100 is processed, by folding and gluing operations, to provide the KDF structure that can be provided to a packer in a compact collapsed arrangement, for example in stacks or bales wherein all the containers are completely flattened as compared to their erected states. Container blank 1, 100 can be integrally cut, for example, from a sheet of corrugated board, paperboard or other sheet material. A number of thicknesses can be die cut in a single step. However, container blanks 1, 100 preferably are cut out individually so that the blank can be scored or compressed along lines that are to be folded, at the same time that the perimeter of the blank is cut from the sheet. The blank is folded along certain lines when it is formed into a collapsed state for shipment, and other lines are folded or partially unfolded when the collapsed blank is erected for packing.

When forming container 10, 1000 as shown from flat corrugated craft board or similar material that has distinct load-bearing aspects in mutually perpendicular directions, it is preferred to orient the board so that the best load-bearing direction is substantially parallel to front and back walls 20, 30; 1020, 1030. Thus for corrugated board, the flutes of the corrugation run longitudinally in FIG. 1, from one end wall 40 to the other. By comparison, the flutes of the corrugation run vertically in FIG. 5, from the bottom of the container to the top.

The various embodiments of the invention as shown are characterized by substantial vertical stacking strength, and resistance to deformation from rectilinear shape that is beyond what could be expected simply by multiplying the thicknesses of vertical structures provided. Nevertheless, the container is easily formed by die cutting through the blank of FIG. 2 or 4, processing the cut blank through a fold and glue container production machine, such as those available from Bobst Group, Inc. of Roseland, N.J., to apply adhesive and preliminarily fold over any panels, whereupon the container can be compactly shipped in its KDF configuration. The container is readily erected on site by simply raising the column members, front and back walls and end walls relative to the container bottom. The end wall panels are folded over the erected column members and locked to the bottom or front/back walls.

The container can be loaded with product, stacked and shipped, stored and presented to customers who can readily remove the tear-out panel from the container and view or remove the contents through the opening.

The invention having been disclosed in connection with the foregoing variations and examples, additional variations will now be apparent to persons skilled in the art. The invention is not intended to be limited to the variations specifically mentioned, and accordingly reference should be made to the appended claims rather than the foregoing discussion of preferred examples, to assess the scope of the invention in which exclusive rights are claimed.

Claims

1. A container comprising:

a plurality of panels formed integrally from a sheet of material, the panels defining a bottom, longitudinally opposite first and second end walls, and laterally opposite front and back walls;
at least one in-fold flap coupled to an edge of at least one of the front and back walls defining an access wall, the flap being foldable into a position forming part of a top of the container;
a tear-out panel disposed in a portion of the container encompassing part of said access wall and part of the at least one in-fold flap coupled thereto, the tear-out panel being configured and joined to the sheet at a weakened line so as to be removable by a user to form an opening in at least a portion of the access wall and a portion of the top of the container along the in-fold flap, to allow access to an interior portion of the container;
wherein at least a portion of the access wall and its respective top in-fold flap comprise a plural thickness of the material of the sheet when the container is configured to an assembled state.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the weakened line joining the tear-out panel to the sheet is spaced from at least one fold at a perimeter of the access wall, thereby leaving a marginal part of the access wall in placed when the tear-out panel has been removed.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein the portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the front wall is separately removable from the portion of the panel disposed in the in-fold flap.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the plural thickness of the access wall and thee top in-fold flap comprise a reinforcing layer of said material, coupled at a 180 degree fold to an edge of the in-fold flap opposite from the access wall.

5. The container of claim 3a, wherein the reinforcing layer occupies an area on an inside surface of the in-fold flap and at least part of the access wall.

6. The container of claim 3b, wherein the reinforcing layer is substantially coextensive with the access wall and forms a part of the tear-out panel.

7. The container of claim 3b, wherein the reinforcing layer is adhered to an inside surface of the access wall.

8. The container of claim 3d, wherein the reinforcing layer is adhered to an inside surface of the access wall including an edge portion of the access wall outside of the tear-out panel.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein the plural thickness of the access wall and the top in-fold flap comprise a reinforcing layer of said material, extending laterally from a fold along at least one edge of the access wall and adhered to an inside surface of the access wall.

10. The container of claim 3f, wherein the reinforcing layer comprises a lateral extension from the access wall including a column forming extension and a distal panel adhered to said inside surface of the access wall.

11. The container of claim 3g, further comprising a lateral extension on each opposite side of the access wall, each including a column forming extension and a distal panel adhered to said inside surface of the access wall.

12. The container of claim 3f, wherein the reinforcing layer occupies an area on an inside surface of the in-fold flap and at least part of the access wall.

13. The container of claim 3i, wherein the reinforcing layer is substantially coextensive with the access wall and forms a part of the tear-out panel.

14. The container of claim 3, wherein:

each end wall has an outer end wall panel joined to the bottom, the end wall panel having end, top and inner panel portions;
each front and back wall further comprises a side portion joined to the bottom, and a pair of column-forming panels, one of the column-forming panels disposed adjacent to the first end wall and the other column-forming panel disposed adjacent to the second end wall, each column-forming panel further having an assembled configuration in which the panel is folded to assume a column member having a substantially polygonal shape corresponding to a shape of the end wall;
wherein each end wall panel is sized and configured such that when a pair of associated column-forming panels are in the assembled configuration, the end, top and inner panel portions of the end wall are foldable about the resulting column members and securable to the bottom or adjacent front or back wall to form the first or second end wall to configure the container to the assembled state.

15. The container of claim 14, wherein a distal edge of the inner panel portion of each end wall comprises a locking tab that engages with a slot in at least one of the bottom and front or back walls when the extension is folded over the associated column members.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the front and back walls comprise a tab receptacle and the tab locks in the tab receptacle in the assembled state of the container.

17. The container of claim 14, wherein:

the front and back walls and the end walls are integrally joined at mutually orthogonal folds to the bottom;
wherein at least one of the pair of said column forming panels is integrally joined to the respective front or back wall at fold lines perpendicular to said one of the folds joining the side portion to the bottom;
wherein each column forming panel of the pair comprises a terminal tab portion that is folded inwardly and glued to an inside of the associated wall such that a terminal edge of one tab portion abuts the terminal edge of the other tab portion.

18. The container of claim 17, wherein each of the column members associated with the first and second end walls are sized to span about half of a lateral width of the respective end wall.

19. The container of claim 17, wherein each of the column members associated with the first and second end walls are sized to span less than half of a lateral width of the respective end wall.

20. The container of claim 14, wherein the front, back and end walls are integral with the bottom.

21. The container of claim 14, wherein the column-forming panels are integral with their respective front and back walls.

22. The container of claim 14, wherein a portion of each column-forming panel is adhesively attached to a respective front or back wall to form the associated column member.

23. The container of claim 22, wherein the adhesively attached portion of each column member is sized to span approximately half a lateral width of the associated front or back wall such that when the container is in the assembled state, the front and back walls comprise a plural thickness of material.

24. The container of claim 23, wherein the adhesively attached portion of the column members associated with the front wall are further sized and configured to be adhesively attached to at least a portion of the in-fold flap associated with the front wall to provide a reinforcing layer over at least a portion of the flap.

25. The container of claim 24, wherein the reinforcing layer has a width equal to or less than a distance between the inner panel portions of opposite end walls to allow the top in-fold panel to engage the top panel portion of each end wall when the in-fold panel is folded to form the top of the container.

26. The container of claim 3, wherein the plural thickness of material of the front wall and its associated in-fold flap is provided by a reinforcing panel folded inwardly along an edge of the in-fold flap, the edge oriented substantially parallel to a fold joining the front wall to the container bottom.

27. The container of claim 26, wherein the reinforcing panel is adhered to at least a portion of the front wall and its associated in-fold flap, the reinforcing panel further comprising a tear-out portion configured to substantially correspond to the tear-out panel of the front wall and flap to allow the tear-out portion and tear-out panel to be removed together.

28. The container of claim 27, wherein the reinforcing panel has a longitudinal width less than a distance between the inner panel portions of opposite end walls to prevent interference of the panel with the end walls when configuring the container to the assembled state.

29. The container of claim 27, further comprising second and third sets of opposite in-fold flaps; the second set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of the front and back walls opposite the first set of in-fold flaps; the third set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of respective first and second end walls; wherein the second and third sets of flaps are foldable into a position forming the bottom of the container.

30. The container of claim 29, further comprising a fourth set of opposite in-fold flaps, the fourth set of flaps coupled respectively to an edge of respective first and second end walls opposite the third set of in-fold flaps, the fourth set of flaps foldable into a position beneath the first set of flaps to form the top of the container.

31. The container of claim 30, wherein the fourth set of flaps comprise a cutout segment disposed in a portion of each flap located directly adjacent the front wall, the cutouts having a contour that substantially corresponds to an outer contour of the portion of the tear-out panel overlying the flaps when the first and fourth sets of flaps are folded to form the top of the container.

32. The container of claim 31, wherein the portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the in-fold flap is separately removable both from the portion of the tear-out panel disposed in the front wall and from the tear-out portion of the reinforcing panel disposed in the front wall and in-fold flap.

33. A container comprising:

a plurality of corrugated paperboard panels defining a bottom, a top, laterally opposite front and back walls, and longitudinally opposite end walls;
first and second opposing flaps associated with the front and back wall, respectively, each flap being integrally connected to its respective wall along a longitudinally disposed fold line;
a reinforcing panel adhered to the front wall and the first flap to provide a plural thickness of material thereto; and
a tear-out panel disposed in a continuous portion of the front wall, the first flap, and the associated reinforcing panel;
wherein the tear-out panel is removable by a user to allow access to an interior portion of the container.

Patent History

Publication number: 20060060643
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 20, 2004
Publication Date: Mar 23, 2006
Inventor: Phil Sheffer (Newtown, PA)
Application Number: 10/922,637

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: 229/242.000; 229/162.100; 229/162.700
International Classification: B65D 25/54 (20060101); B65D 17/00 (20060101);