Apparatus and method for filling void in an outer container having a liquid-containing flexible package held therein

- Fres-co System USA, Inc.

Apparatus for holding a flexible package filled with a liquid. The apparatus includes an inflatable void-filling device and a rigid outer container having a lid and a hollow interior in which the flexible package is located. The lid is arranged to be located over the filled package, whereupon some void results therebetween. The inflatable device is located within the hollow interior over the flexible package and arranged to be filled with compressed gas to cause it to completely fill the void. The compressed gas within the inflatable member automatically expands it to fill the void, irrespective of changes in the volume taken up by the filled package within the outer container.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

INCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISK

Not Applicable.

SPECIFICATION

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates generally to flexible packages, and more particularly to apparatus and method for filling a void in the interior of a rigid container holding a large flexible package containing a liquid.

2. Description of Related Art

One common way of transporting liquid foodstuffs or other liquid products, is via the use of large, e.g., 55 gallon, flexible packages or bags. The bags can be of any suitable shape, e.g., drum shaped, parallelepiped shaped, etc. Each bag is arranged to be located within a rigid outer container, e.g., a bin, tote, carton, drum, etc., having an interior chamber corresponding in shape and volume to the filled bag. The outer container can be of any construction, e.g., heavy cardboard of one or my plies, fiberboard, press-board, wood, plastic and metal, and serves to protect the package with its content during transport.

In order to minimize the chances of the bag breaking after is filled the outer container must provide sufficient supporting strength for it. Moreover, the circumference of the inside of the outer container must be slightly smaller than the circumference of the bag and the filled bag should fill up the outer container completely. In particular, when the bag is filled and folded and the lid of the outer container is put in place and attached to the outer container to seal the bag within the interior chamber in the outer container, there should be no head-space between the bag and the lid. The bag may break if the bag is not supported and engaged all over by the outer container and its lid. Further still, the inside of the outer container and its lid must be smooth, e.g., there should be no sharp edges, staples, or other protrusions which may damage the bag. Since the bag will contain a large volume of liquid, e.g., 55 gallons, it will be subject to large forces, including dynamic forces caused by the shifting or sloshing of its liquid contents during transportation. Such forces dramatically increases the risk for flex-cracking and damage to the bag. By minimizing the head-space or void, the dynamic forces on the bag caused by the liquid content shifting are reduced. Viscosity of the liquid also is a factor in the resistance of the bag to force-induced damage, since packages holding high viscosity liquids can cope with some head-space better than low viscosity liquids.

Inasmuch as many products to be held in such bags are of a relatively low viscosity, content shifting or sloshing is a problem. Thus, it is a common practice to fill the head-space or void between the top surface of the bag and the inner surface of the outer container's lid with a filler or topping. The filler or topping is a kind of ballast and can be in the form of chips, cellular plastic, cardboard, foam-in-place, foam rubber or something else placed above the filled bag. The advantages of foam-in-place are that it safely and completely fills up the head-space and it is easy to use. Pieces of foam rubber also have the advantage of safely filling up the head-space, being easy to use and can be readily reused. However, foam rubber has some disadvantages, namely, it takes up quite a lot of storage space and can absorb water and moisture. Therefore it is very important that it is stored in good conditions. A sheet of foam rubber can also serve as the topping and it has the advantage of being easy to use, e.g., one just places it on top of the bag and attaches the lid of the outer container thereover. Chips, e.g., small pieces of cellular plastic, are as good as foam-in-place and foam rubber, but such materials are difficult to handle. Furthermore, such materials take up a lot of storage space and are inconvenient to take care of when emptying the package. There are other ways to fill up head-space, e.g., by use of cardboard, paper, etc. Such toppings are probably not as good as foam, foam rubber or chips, but are likely to be cheaper. Whatever type of topping is used, the most important thing is that there is no risk that the topping damages the bag.

Another type of topping that can be used is a sealed air-bags or pillows, such as those made by using the AirPouch Express 3 Void-Fill System available from Automated Packaging Systems, Inc. of Streetsboro, Ohio.

While the aforementioned types of devices for filling the head-space above a flexible package in a rigid container may be generally suitable for their desired purposes, they still leave much to be desired from various standpoints. For example, the contents of the container can settle, e.g., flow into some creases, etc., in the inner container, whereupon the head-space or void at the top of the bag may enlarge. The above described prior art fillers or toppers cannot accommodate such an occurrence. In particular, if the head-space does increase, the outer container must be opened and additional topping or filler added. This can result in a significant expense from the standpoint of labor involved. Also, if the liquid contents of the container include any air pockets or air space, changes in altitude may result in the increasing or decreasing of the size of the void. Thus, the use of conventional fillers or toppings may not be able to accommodate the changed void size. Moreover, the use of fillers or toppers, particularly those making use of small bodies, e.g., pellets or pieces of foam, is a time consuming, messy project.

Accordingly, a need exists for an apparatus and method of filling up the head-space in the outer container above the flexible package and keeping that head-space filled irrespective of changing conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of this invention there is provided a device for use with a flexible package filled with a liquid. The filled flexible package is located within a hollow interior chamber of a rigid, outer container. The outer container has a lid arranged to be located over the filled package, whereupon some void results therebetween. The device is arranged to completely fill the void. The device comprises an inflatable chamber, e.g., a resilient bladder, and a compressed gas, e.g., air, located within the inflatable chamber, whereupon the volume of the inflatable chamber automatically expands to fill the void, irrespective of changes in the volume taken up by the filled package within the hollow interior chamber.

In accordance with another aspect of this invention there is provided apparatus for holding a flexible package filled with a liquid. The apparatus comprises a rigid outer container and a void-filling device. The rigid container has a hollow interior chamber and a lid. The filled package is located within the hollow interior chamber, with the lid being arranged to be located over the filled package, whereupon some void results therebetween. The void-filling device is arranged to completely fill the void and comprises an inflatable chamber e.g., a resilient bladder, and a compressed gas, e.g., air, located within the inflatable chamber, whereupon the volume of the inflatable chamber automatically expands to fill the void, irrespective of changes in the volume taken up by the filled package within the hollow interior chamber.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of apparatus constructed in accordance with one aspect of this invention, the apparatus including a rigid outer container for holding which a flexible package containing a liquid, and an inflatable chamber for filling a void in the interior of the rigid container between the filled flexible package and the outer container;

FIG. 1A is an exploded isometric view, similar to FIG. 1, showing an alternative embodiment of apparatus constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1 being used to take up the head-space or void in the container after the flexible package has been filled and sealed;

FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view, similar to FIG. 2, but showing the inflatable chamber automatically expanding to fill take up any increase in the head-space void within the sealed container in the event that the contents of the inflatable package shift to take up less interior space within the outer container;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 1, but showing an alternative embodiment of the apparatus of this invention;

FIG. 4A is a view similar to FIG. 4, but showing still another alternative embodiment of the apparatus of this invention;

FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4A being used to take up the head-space or void after the flexible package has been filled and sealed; and

FIG. 6 is a vertical sectional view similar to FIG. 5, but showing the inflatable chamber automatically expanding to fill take up any increase in the head-space void within the sealed container in the event that the contents of the inflatable package shift to take up less interior space within the outer container;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now in greater detail to the figures, there is shown at 20 in FIG. 1 apparatus constructed in accordance with one preferred aspect of this invention. That apparatus 20 basically comprises a rigid outer container 22 holding a large, flexible package, sack or bag 10 containing a liquid or liquid like material 12 (FIG. 2), e.g., crushed tomatoes and their juice, and an inflatable, void-filling device 24, e.g., a chamber. The inflatable device 24 serves to fill up the void left within the outer container 22 after the flexible package 10 has been filled, sealed and disposed within the outer container and the outer container closed or sealed. Thus, in this regard the inflatable chamber serves as a substitute for prior art means, e.g., chips, cellular plastic, cardboard, foam-in-place, foam rubber etc., for filling the head-space within the container. However, unlike the prior art, and as will be discussed in detail later, the inflatable chamber 24 of this invention also serves to automatically expand in volume to take up any additional void that may be created within the outer container, such as could occur during transportation of the filled container, due to settling or shifting of the liquid or liquid-like material within the flexible package. Such settling/shift can occur in various ways. For example, the liquid within the flexible package may flow into any unfilled areas within the container, e.g., slight folds, creases, etc., that were not completely filled with the liquid when the flexible package was initially filled and sealed.

In the exemplary embodiments shown in FIGS. 1 and 1A, the exemplary rigid outer container 22 shown basically comprises a fifty-five (55) gallon drum. The drum is of generally conventional construction, e.g., it may be formed of metal or a plastic material, except that it includes a port 26 (to be described later) enabling the filling of the inflatable chamber 24 with a compressed gas, e.g., compressed air, after the outer container is closed or sealed (as will be described later).

The outer container or drum 22 includes a cylindrically side-wall 28, which is reinforced with peripheral ridges 30, a bottom wall 32 (FIG. 2) which is fixedly secured to the lower edge of the side-wall 28, and a generally planar removable lid or cover 34. The lid includes an annular peripheral edge 36 which is arranged to snap-fit about the periphery of the top edge of the side-wall 28 to establish an enclosed hollow interior 38 within the drum. It is in this hollow interior space 38 that the filled flexible package 10 is to be located.

The flexible package 10 can be made of any suitable flexible packaging material(s), e.g., a plastic film in one or more layers or plies, that is commonly used for holding large volumes of liquids or liquid-like materials in a rigid, outer container. In order to fill the flexible package, a filling port 10A is typically provided at the top 10B of the package, which top portion is commonly folded over itself after the package is filled, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

While the embodiments of the rigid outer container 22 shown in FIGS. 1 and 1A are drums, it must be pointed out that such a construction is merely exemplary of various types of outer rigid containers that can be used within the teachings and spirit of this invention. Thus, the outer container can be a bin, carton, tub, etc. In fact, in FIGS. 4, 4A, 5 and 6 the outer containers are shown as being in the shape of a parallelepiped bin.

As should be appreciated by those skilled in the art the flexible package or bag 10 used with the container 22 can also be of any suitable shape, e.g., drum or cylindrically shaped, parallelepiped shaped, etc., depending largely upon the shape of the hollow interior of the container 22. Being of a rigid, tough and hence self-supporting material, the outer container serves to support and protect the filled flexible package or bag 10 during transportation.

As best seen in FIG. 2 the inflatable device or chamber 24 is arranged to be located in the head-space or void 38A in the upper portion of the interior space 38 between the outer container's lid 18 and the top portion 10B of the flexible container or bag 10, in order to ensure that the flexible container is not damaged by the dynamic forces created as the liquid contents 12 tend to shift or slosh about during transportation.

The inflatable device or chamber 24 basically comprises a hollow inflatable bladder 40, an inlet port 42 and a valve (not shown) located with the port 42. The bladder 40 formed of a flexible material, and has a top wall 40A, a peripheral side wall 40B and a bottom wall 40C. The bladder is arranged to be filled with a compressed gas, e.g., air, so that the bladder fills to take up the void or head-space 38A within the outer container 22. The material making up the bladder may be resilient, i.e., stretchable, or may be non-stretchable (as will be described later). If the bladder is formed of a stretchable material, e.g., a rubber or rubber like compound, the un-stretched volumetric capacity of the bladder is preferably of a size approximately equal to the anticipated volume of the void or head-space 38A in the container 22. However, such a construction arrangement is not critical, e.g., the un-stretched volumetric capacity of the bladder can be less than the anticipated volume of the head-space 38A, since the material of the bladder, being resilient, is able to stretch to take up a greater volume of head-space.

The valve within the port 42 of the inflatable device 24 may be of any suitable construction to enable a compressed gas 46, e.g., compressed air, to be introduced through the port 42 and the valve into the hollow interior of the bladder 40 to cause the bladder to expand to fill the head-space 28A. The flow of the compressed gas into the bladder 40 is represented by the arrows in FIG. 2. The valve is constructed so that it closes after the compressed gas has been introduced into the interior of the bladder to preclude that gas 46 from escaping to the ambient atmosphere. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 the inlet port 42 with the valve therein is located on the sidewall 40B of the bladder 40. In order to provide access to the inlet port 42 of the inflatable device 24, the outer container, e.g., the drum 22, includes the heretofore identified port 26, through which the port 42 of inflatable device 24 extends, as best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3.

The pressure of the gas 46 introduced within the bladder 40 is chosen to be sufficiently high to enable it to expand the bladder automatically in the event that the volumetric capacity of the head-space 38A increases after the container 22 is sealed with the filled package 10 therein. As mentioned earlier such action may occur as some previously unfilled voids, e.g., creases, in the flexible package 10 become filled, whereupon the settling of the contents 12 within the package 10 will result in an increased volume head-space. Since the bladder 40 automatically expands by the expansion of the compressed gas therein to take up this increased volume, there will be no need to open the container 22, e.g., remove the lid 34, to fill the container with more filler or topping as has characterized the prior art. This feature results in a considerable savings in man-power and costs for transporting the liquid materials, and without increasing the risk of damage to the flexible package which would result if the increased volume head-space was not filled.

If the bladder 40 is formed of a non-resilient material, its volumetric capacity should be chosen to be at least as large as the volumetric capacity of the maximum head-space 38A that could occur in the container 22, i.e., the bladder is chosen to be over-size. Thus, when the over-size bladder 40 is initially filled with the compressed gas 46, the bladder will take up the volume of the then existing head-space 38A in the container 22, with portions of the bladder's wall folded and/or creased, since the full capacity of the over-size bladder is larger than the volume needed to initially fill the head-space 38A. In the event that the head-space 38A increases in volume after the initial filling of the bladder and the sealing of the container 22, the volume taken up by the bladder 40 will automatically increase in size as a result of the expanding compressed gas 46 entering into the folded and/or creased portions of the bladder's walls. This expanding volume of the bladder automatically occurs without any portion of the walls of the bladder stretching.

In FIG. 1A there is shown an alternative embodiment 20′ of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1. The apparatus 20′ is basically of the same construction as apparatus 20, except that the port 42 of the inflatable device 24′ is located on the top wall 40A of the bladder 40. Thus, in the interest of brevity the common components of the embodiments 20 and 20′ will be given the same reference numbers and the details of the construction and operation of such components will not be reiterated. In the apparatus 20′, the port.26 in the outer container or drum 22′ is located in the lid 32.

After shipment of the apparatus 20 or 20′, i.e., container 22 or 22′ with the filled package 10 and the device 24 or 24′ located therein has been completed and the contents of the package 10 are to be removed, all that is required is to deflate the expanded bladder 40, e.g., by operating the valve in the port 42 to allow the gas 46 within the bladder to vent out through the port 42 to the ambient atmosphere. The bladder can then be removed, thereby exposing the filled flexible package 10. The deflation of the bladder can be accomplished either before or after the container's lid 34 has been removed. In fact, it is contemplated that the bladder can be removed from the interior of the container 22 while still in its inflated condition, if such action is desired.

It should be pointed out at this juncture that the lid 34 of the container 22 can be modified or constructed so that the inflatable chamber 24 forms an integral portion thereof, as opposed to being a separate components as is the case in the embodiments of the apparatus 20 and 120 of FIGS. 1 and 1A, respectively.

In FIGS. 4, 4A, 5 and 6 two alternative embodiments 120 and 120′ of the apparatus of this invention are shown. Such embodiments make use of a bin-type outer container 122 and 122′. Of those embodiments, the embodiment 120, shown in FIG. 4, makes use of a separate inflatable device 124, whereas the embodiment 120′, shown in FIGS. 4A, 5 and 6, is constructed so that the inflatable device 124′ for taking up the head-space within the outer container 122′ forms a portion of the lid (to be described later) of that container. In the interest of brevity the common components of the embodiments 120 and 120′ will be given the same reference numbers and the details of their construction and operation will not be reiterated. Moreover, both of those embodiments make use of inflatable devices, 124 and 124′, that are similar to the inflatable devices 24 and 24′ described above with respect to embodiments 20 and 20′, respectively, except that the bladders of the inflatable devices 124 and 124′ are of parallelepiped shape, i.e., include a generally square or rectangular side wall, whereas the bladders of the inflatable devices 24 and 24′ include a cylindrical side wall. Thus, in the interest of brevity the common components of the inflatable devices 24/24′ and 124 and 124′, respectively, will be given the same reference numbers and the details of their construction and operation will not be reiterated.

Turning now to FIG. 4 it can be seen that the bin-type container 122 is of parallelepiped shape having four, planar, side wall sections 122A, 122B, 122C and 122D, a planar bottom wall 122E and a planar lid or cover 122F. The side wall, bottom wall and lid of the container may be formed of any suitable rigid material, e.g., plastic, metal, wood, cardboard, press-board, etc. The side wall sections 122A, 122B, 122C and 122D make up the peripheral side wall of the container 122 and are integral with the bottom wall 122E to form a hollow parallelepiped shaped interior 138. Each of the side wall sections and bottom wall section may be reinforced by one or more struts 122G, while the corners of the interior where the various side wall sections merge together may also be reinforced by respective cleats 120H. The lid 122F is of square or rectangular profile to fit over and seal the top of the container 122. The lid 122F also may include at least one reinforcing strut 122G.

Since the interior space 138 within the container 120 is of parallelepiped shape it is preferred that the shape of the flexible package correspond thereto. Thus, the embodiment of the apparatus 120 makes use of a parallelepiped shaped flexible package 110. This package is constructed similar to the package 10. Thus, in the interest of brevity, the common components of the flexible packages 10 and 110 will be given the same reference numbers and the details of their construction and operation will not be reiterated.

The bladder 40 of the inflatable device 124 is arranged to be located on the top of the filled flexible package 110 within the interior 138 of the container 122 to fill up the head-space or void 138A. Since the port 42 with the valve therein extends outward from the peripheral side wall 40B of the bladder, one of the side wall sections, e.g., section 122B, of the container 120 includes a inlet port 126, similar to ports 26 and 26′ described above, for receipt of the bladder's port 42.

The apparatus 120 is operated in the same basic manner as described above. To that end, after the flexible package 110 is filled and sealed and located within the hollow interior 138 in the container 112, the inflatable device 124 is placed on the top of the filled flexible package and its port 42 is extended through the port 26 in the container's side wall section 122B. The lid 112F of the container in then placed over the inflatable device and secured in place to the container's side walls. A compressed gas 46, e.g., compressed air, is then introduced through the inlet port 42 and the associated valve into the interior of the bladder 40 to cause the bladder to expand to fill the head-space 138A. The valve in the port 42 prevents the gas 46 within the bladder 40 from escaping to the ambient atmosphere. As discussed earlier, the pressure of the gas 46 introduced within the bladder 40 is chosen to be sufficiently high to enable it to expand the bladder automatically in the event that the volumetric capacity of the head-space 38A increases after the container 122 is sealed with the filled package 110 therein.

If the bladder 40 of the apparatus 120 is formed of a non-resilient material, its volumetric capacity should be chosen to be at least as large as the volumetric capacity of the maximum head-space 138A that could occur in the container 122, i.e., the bladder is chosen to be over-size. Thus, when the over-size bladder 40 is initially filled with the compressed gas 46, the bladder will take up the volume of the then existing head-space 138A in the container 122, with portions of the bladder's wall folded and/or creased, since the full capacity of the over-size bladder is larger than the volume needed to initially fill the head-space 138A. In the event that the head-space 138A increases in volume after the initial filling of the bladder and the sealing of the container 122, the volume taken up by the bladder 40 will automatically increase in size as a result of the expanding compressed gas 46 entering into the folded and/or creased portions of the bladder's walls. This expanding volume of the bladder automatically occurs without any portion of the walls of the bladder stretching.

As mentioned above the embodiment 120′ includes the inflatable device 124′ built into the lid or cover of the outer container 122′. To that end it can be seen that the lid or cover 150 is similar in construction to the lid 122F, except that it includes a downwardly extending peripheral wall or flange 152 forming a recess in which the bladder 40 is located and secured. The bladder is held in place within the recess by an adhesive layer 154 on the underside of the lid 150. Other means to hold the bladder 40 in place are contemplated.

In the embodiment 120 the bladder 40 is constructed so that its inlet port 42 is located on the top wall of the bladder and extends through the port 126 of the lid or cover 150. The bladder 40 is normally in its deflated condition, such as shown in FIG. 4.

Operation of the apparatus 120′ is similar to the operation of the apparatus 120. In particular, after the flexible package 110 is located, filled and sealed within the interior 138 of the container 122′ the lid 150, with its deflated bladder 40, is then disposed within the space above the filled package so that its peripheral sidewall 152 tightly engages the interior surface of the side wall sections 122A, 122B, 122C and 122D contiguous with the top edge of those sections, thereby closing off the interior 138 of the container 122. A compressed gas 46, e.g., compressed air, is then introduced through the inlet port 42 and the associated valve into the interior of the bladder 40 to cause the bladder to expand to fill the head-space 138A. The valve in the port 42 prevents the gas 46 within the bladder 40 from escaping to the ambient atmosphere.

Emptying of the contents of the containers 122 and 122′ is accomplished in a similar manner to that described earlier. To that end the bladders of the inflatable devices 124/124′ are deflated by operating the valve in the associated inlet port 42, so that the compressed gas can exit out through the valve and port to the ambient atmosphere. The lid of the container can then be removed, thereby exposing the top of the filled flexible package 110.

As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, apparatus can be readily constructed utilizing the teachings of this invention to enable the efficient and safe transport of liquid materials in large flexible packages. One can readily modify existing outer containers, be they drums, bins, etc., to make use of an inflatable device constructed in accordance with this invention. For example, the outer container of a conventional drum or bin can be modified to include an access port to the interior of the container and an inflatable device, like those described above or modifications of those, can then be used with the modified container. The inflatable device can thus be reused with other containers. Moreover, if the inflatable device is made a part of the lid or cover, it can also be used and reused with conventional and unmodified drums, bins or other containers. All of these arrangements provide a distinct economic advantage over the prior art.

Without further elaboration the foregoing will so fully illustrate my invention that others may, by applying current or future knowledge, adopt the same for use under various conditions of service.

Claims

1. A device for use with a flexible package filled with a liquid, the filled flexible package being located with a hollow interior chamber of a rigid, outer container, the outer container having a lid arranged to be located over the filled package, whereupon some void results therebetween, said device being arranged to completely fill the void, said device comprising an inflatable chamber and a compressed gas located within said inflatable chamber, whereupon the volume of said inflatable chamber automatically expands to fill the void, irrespective of changes in the volume taken up by the filled package within the hollow interior chamber.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said inflatable chamber comprises a bladder formed of a resilient material.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said gas is introduced within the inflatable chamber at a pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein said gas is introduced within the inflatable chamber at a pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure.

5. The device of claim 1 additionally comprising a gas port and an associated tube through which said compressed gas can be introduced into said inflatable chamber.

6. The device of claim 5 additionally comprising a valve for controlling the flow of gas into said container.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein said valve is also arranged for controlling the flow of gas out of said inflatable chamber.

8. The device of claim 2 additionally comprising a gas port and an associated tube through which said compressed gas can be introduced into said inflatable chamber.

9. The device of claim 8 additionally comprising a valve for controlling the flow of gas into said container.

10. The device of claim 9 wherein said valve is also arranged for controlling the flow of gas out of said inflatable chamber.

11. Apparatus for holding a flexible package filled with a liquid, said apparatus comprising a rigid outer container and a void-filling device, said rigid container being arranged said container having a hollow interior chamber and a lid, the filled package being located within said hollow interior chamber, with said lid being arranged to be located over the filled package, whereupon some void results therebetween, said void-filling device being arranged to completely fill the void and comprising an inflatable chamber and a compressed gas located within said inflatable chamber, whereupon the volume of the inflatable chamber automatically expands to fill the void, irrespective of changes in the volume taken up by the filled package within the hollow interior chamber.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said inflatable chamber comprises a bladder formed of a resilient material.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said gas is introduced within the inflatable chamber at a pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure.

14. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein said gas is introduced within the inflatable chamber at a pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure.

15. The apparatus of claim 11 additionally comprising a gas port and an associated tube through which said compressed gas can be introduced into said inflatable chamber.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 additionally comprising a valve for controlling the flow of gas into said container.

17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein said valve is also arranged for controlling the flow of gas out of said inflatable chamber.

18. The apparatus of claim 12 additionally comprising a gas port and an associated tube through which said compressed gas can be introduced into said inflatable chamber.

19. The apparatus of claim 18 additionally comprising a valve for controlling the flow of gas into said container.

20. The apparatus of claim 19 wherein said valve is also arranged for controlling the flow of gas out of said inflatable chamber.

Patent History

Publication number: 20070095423
Type: Application
Filed: Oct 19, 2005
Publication Date: May 3, 2007
Applicant: Fres-co System USA, Inc. (Telford, PA)
Inventor: Tullio Vigano (Telford, PA)
Application Number: 11/254,049

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: 141/114.000
International Classification: B65B 3/16 (20060101);