HINGE LABEL TAB CONTAINER

A two-piece tamper-evident and tamper-resistant container having a base, a lid and a label hinge connecting the lid and base to one another for use in packing, identifying and selling fresh food items and the like. A rim about an upper periphery of the base engages an identically contoured flange about a lower periphery of the lid, and a protective lip integral to and extending from an outermost end of the rim prevents access to the lip making the label hinge the only possible access point of the container. Any tampering to access the inside of the container would be made evident by a torn or missing label hinge.

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Description

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the filing priority of Provisional Application No. 61/ 759,725, filed on Feb. 1, 2013. The '725 application is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to containers used primarily for foodstuff, but suitable for other materials as well. More particularly, the invention relates to a two-piece container with tamper-evident/tamper-resistant features.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The purpose of a tamper-evident/tamper-resistant container is to provide evidence of a correctly opened package and provide resistance from product tampering after a product is packaged and before a customer purchases the product. The “tamper-resistant” quality of such containers carry no guarantee that a container can only be opened by the use of the opening feature provided, but it does typically make the process of opening by any other method very challenging. The “tamper-evident” quality of the container is that use of the opening feature is self-evident and opening of the package in any other way would be a willful act of deceit.

The inventive packaging design and features described herein is created for the preferred use in hand-packing product and for use with automated closing lines.

These and other problems in the art are identified and resolved by the invention of the present application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure is directed to a two-piece container and methods for making such a container. Generally speaking, the container is comprised of a lid, a base and a label hinge which allows the two components to be properly closed in a manner which provides both “tamper-evident” and “tamper-resistant” packaging. The container is most commonly used in the food industry for fresh foods and the like.

In a specific embodiment, the two-piece container comprises a base having a rim about an upper periphery, a protective lip extending from an outermost end of the rim and a label adhesion area along a portion of the rim, a lid having a flange about a lower periphery, the flange terminating at an outermost end, and a label adhesion area along a portion of the flange, and a label hinge having a surface comprised of an adhesive material, at least a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of base and a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of the lid. In such an embodiment, the rim and flange have a complimentary contour such that the flange snap fits within the rim and the outermost end of the flange is positioned adjacent the protective lip of the base.

In a particular embodiment, the base of the container is comprised of a first suitable material and the lid is comprised of a second and different suitable material. The materials may have any of the following qualities: opaque, translucent, transparent, and colored. Further, the base may have a substantial thickness different from a substantial thickness of the lid.

The tamper-resistance of the container is provided, in an embodiment, by a surface of the outermost end of the lid flange having an angle, relative to an adjacent surface, less than an angle of an outermost surface of the rim relative to an adjacent surface corresponding to the adjacent surface of the lid. The angle of the flange surface is preferably in the range of from about 2 to about 10 degrees less than and the angle of the rim surface. More preferably, the angle of the flange surface is about 5 degrees less than the angle of the rim surface.

In an embodiment of the disclosed method for forming a two-piece container having both tamper-resistant and tamper-evident features, the method comprises the steps of forming a base for the container, the base comprising a rim about an upper periphery, a protective lip integral to and extending from an outermost end of the rim and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the rim, forming a lid for the container, the lid comprising a flange about a lower periphery, the flange terminating at an outermost end, and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the flange corresponding to the portion of the rim having a label adhesion area, and applying at least a portion of a label hinge having a surface comprised of an adhesive material, to the label adhesion area of base and another portion of the label hinge to the label adhesion area of the lid. The rim and flange have complimentary contours such that the flange snap fits within the periphery of the rim and the outermost end of the flange is positioned adjacent the protective lip of the base to prevent access to the end.

These and other features of the two-piece container and methods will be more readily understood from a reading of the following detailed description, including the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of facilitating an understanding of the subject matter sought to be protected, there are illustrated in the accompanying drawings embodiments thereof, from an inspection of which, when considered in connection with the following description, the subject matter sought to be protected, its construction and operation, and many of its advantages should be readily understood and appreciated.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present two-piece container in an open, hinged condition;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 showing the two-piece container in an open, hinged flat condition;

FIG. 3 is another top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 showing the two-piece container in a closed condition;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in an open, unhinged, flat condition;

FIG. 5 is a close-up perspective view of an embodiment of a tear-strip hinge of a two-piece container in accordance with the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a close-up perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 illustrating removal of the tear-strip at the hinge; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a two-piece container in an open and hinged condition; and

FIG. 8A and 8B are side-by-side cross sections of a typical flange design (FIG. 8A) and an embodiment of a flange design of the present invention (FIG. 8B).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

While this invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail a preferred embodiment of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to embodiments illustrated.

For example, the appended drawing figures only illustrate a rectangular two-piece container. However, the container may be of most any shape and size, including the possible various depths for both portions.

Though the container itself is unique, as will be described below in greater detail, methods for producing the container may also be considered inventive. Such an inventive method includes indirectly connecting separately formed packaging components (e.g., a lid and a base) by attaching a label or other component that can be torn, broken or separated to each of those components. By indirectly connecting the two rigid components, the label may function as a hinge to create a hinged container. This hinged container provides self-evident opening features with the added potential for including printed instructions on the label that are more distinct and legible than, for example, the formed characters on rigid tabs. Further, the tamper-evident feature shows clear evidence of the container being opened after it has been properly closed.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-6, an embodiment of a two-piece container is shown and generally indicated by the reference number 10. The container 10 is comprised of a lid 12 and a base 14, connected together by a hinge label 16. The lid 12 and base 14 can be comprised of a number of materials, with each part being formed of the same, similar, or completely different material, as desired. The preferred materials include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), oriented polystyrene (OPS), polypropylene (PP), and polylactic acid (PLA) as well as other polymers, monomers or laminated structures used in packaging, primarily for foods.

Likewise, the label 16 can be made from various materials and use adhesives which may or may not be the same material as either the lid 12 or base 14 of the final container 10. Typically, the label is comprised of one of either paper, PP, PLA, PET, HIPS, OPS or similar material. The hinge label 16 may also include all forms of scoring to the label to better allow hinging and tearing of the label upon opening. Equally, a tear strip (see FIG. 6) may be used as an additional opening feature for the hinge label 16. Other variations may include patterned adhesive applications, die cutting of the backing to labels, and other devices and processes applicable to the general application of using a hinge label 16 to create a single package prior to the packages use.

With respect to the container manufacture and assembly, the two individual components, i.e., the lid 12 and base 14, are thermoformed individually and separately using industry standard equipment and processes. Ultimately, they will be trimmed out and placed together on another piece of equipment where the hinge label 16 can be applied to both at the same time. If the container 10 is in an open condition when the hinge label 16 is applied, the hinge label may act as a hinge for the two container halves. Alternatively, the hinge label 16 may be applied after the container is packed (with whatever material it is to hold), in which case it acts merely as the tamper-evident feature. These are just a couple of the many benefits to forming the components individually prior to attaching the hinge label 16.

Other important benefits of separating the overall process include allowing the base 14 and lid 12 to be formed from different types of material, different thicknesses of material and the potential of using different colors to contrast the base from the lid. While co-extruding materials and manufacturing colored bases with clear lids for hinge containers is common, having a hinge container (lid connected to the base) with two different materials, e.g., a polypropylene base and an OPS lid, or a thinner material in the clear lid and thicker material in the colored base, has not been done before and is completely original.

The potential for material cost savings is also significant. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 7, by pairing a flat or slightly domed lid 12 with a 3″ or deeper base 14, the container 10 of the present invention can provide an overall material savings in the range of 20-25%. In contrast, standard hinge containers have the same amount of material in the flat lid as they do in the deep base portion of the container.

In addition, the hinge label 16 is significantly lighter than a formed pull tab as found on existing tamper resistant containers. The present design, including the numerous possible variations, has a significant positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of plastic in the waste stream.

FIGS. 1-3 show the lid 12 indirectly connected to the base 14, and connected together by label hinge 16 at respective label adhesion areas 20. Connecting the lid 12 and base 14 is preferably accomplished by, but not limited to, automatically applying label 16 directly to the adhesion areas 20, which indirectly connects them together. This process makes one hinge container 10 with a single point to open the container when the container is properly closed.

To open the container 10, as will be explained in further detail below, the label 20 is torn or otherwise removed. The label 16 of a particular embodiment may include two perforated lines to produce a tear strip 22, as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. Alternatively, a single perforated line may be used to facilitate tearing, rather than removal, of the label 16.

An automated hinge label application is preferably performed on a separate machine from that of the forming and trimming process. The label 16 can be applied automatically after forming, automatically in-process after the container is closed at a packing plant, or by hand at any stage of the process prior to being displayed for retail sale with product enclosed.

The automated process used immediately after forming the lid 12 and base 14 is unique as well. In one embodiment of the process, lids and bases are loaded side-by-side with the label adhesion areas 20 facing each other on to a carrier that indexes the parts through the hinge label process. A device (not shown) dispenses the hinge label 16 and pressure is applied to the tabs which create an indirect bond to the lid 12 and base 14 at their respective label adhesion areas 20, forming one hinge container 10.

FIG. 7 shows an alternate embodiment of the container 10 having a deeper base 14 and a flat lid 12, as described previously. Those skilled in the art would understand that the invention is not limited to round and rectangular container designs, but can be used on various container geometries.

FIGS. 1-7 illustrate general design features of the container 10. In a preferred embodiment, the label 16 is comprised of PET material with a permanent adhesive applied to only the area adhering to the label adhesion areas 20 of the lid 12 and base 14. The tear strip area 22 between the two tabs (see FIGS. 4 and 5) will not have adhesive so the hinge will not adhere to itself causing a malfunction with the container 10. The backing on the label can be die cut to achieve the same function. In addition, a single, but not limited to one, perforation line can be applied next to each area of adhesive. Two, but not limited to two, total perforation lines would be present on each hinge label 16.

Referring now to FIGS. 8A and 8B, cut away views of a prior art lid and a base (FIG. 8A) and a lid and base of the present invention (FIG. 8B) showing the interfacing edges are illustrated. The lid 12 includes a peripheral flange 24 which, as shown, has a contour substantially identical to the contour of rim 26 of the base 14. This is true for the present container 10 and prior art containers, as evidenced by the side-by-side images. However, the present container also includes a protective lip 28 extending from and integral to the rim 26 of the base 14. It should be noted that a channel 30 is cut through the lip 28 at the label adhesion area 20, as shown best in FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, to prevent interference with the hinge label 16 and the allow for complete closure of the lid 12. This is important for a good seal between the lid 12 and base 14.

The outermost end “Q” (also known as the “trim edge”) of a typical lid flange design of the prior art containers shows the accessibility of the flange when the two components are in a closed/sealed condition. In contrast, the present container 10 is designed with the protective lip 28 extending from the rim 26 to prevent access to the outermost end (i.e., trim edge) of the lid flange 24.

In addition, the surface of the outermost edge of the flange 24 is preferably angled downward, relative to the adjacent surface, about two to ten degrees less than the angle of the corresponding rim surface, relative to the adjacent surface. As measured from an imaginary horizontal plane, the rim surface (“A”) is angled downward (moving outwardly) from about two to about eight degrees, while the flange surface (“B”) is angled downward (moving outwardly) from about five to about 15 degrees. This feature provides greater resistance to deceitful opening of the container or, as is known in the art, “tamper-resistant.”

Returning to FIG. 7, the closed “tamper-resistant” container is shown with the label 16 in the open position with the label attached to the lid and base. As with the previous embodiments, the label 16 acts as an indicator as to whether the container has been properly opened or not, i.e., the tamper-evident feature. The opening of the container can be achieved, once the container is properly closed, by pulling on the available pull strip or by running one's finger or other object across the label 16 and tearing it apart.

The matter set forth in the foregoing description and accompanying drawings is offered by way of illustration only and not as a limitation. While particular embodiments have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the broader aspects of applicants' contribution. The actual scope of the protection sought is intended to be defined in the following claims when viewed in their proper perspective based on the prior art.

Claims

1. A two-piece container comprising:

a base comprising a rim about an upper periphery, a protective lip extending from an outermost end of the rim and a label adhesion area along a portion of the rim;
a lid comprising a flange about a lower periphery, the flange terminating at an outermost end, and a label adhesion area along a portion of the flange; and
a label hinge having a surface comprised of an adhesive material, at least a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of base and a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of the lid;
wherein the rim and flange have a complimentary contour such that the flange snap fits within the rim and the outermost end of the flange is positioned adjacent the protective lip of the base.

2. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein the base is comprised of a first suitable material and the lid is comprised of a second and different suitable material.

3. The two-piece container of claim 2, wherein the base has a substantial thickness different from a substantial thickness of the lid.

4. The two-piece container of claim 2, wherein the suitable material of the base is of a color different than a color of the suitable material of the lid.

5. The two-piece container of claim 2, wherein the first and second suitable materials are selected from the group of polymers consisting of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), oriented polystyrene (OPS), polypropylene (PP), and polylactic acid (PLA).

6. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein a surface of the outermost end of the flange has an angle relative to an adjacent surface less than an angle of an outermost surface of the rim relative to an adjacent surface corresponding to the adjacent surface of the lid.

7. The two-piece container of claim 6, wherein the angle of the flange surface is in the range of from about 2 to about 10 degrees less than and the angle of the rim surface.

8. The two-piece container of claim 6, wherein the angle of the flange surface is about 5 degrees less than the angle of the rim surface.

9. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein the flange of the lid secures within the rim of the base, the container can only be opened from the label adhesion area.

10. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein the outermost end of the flange abuts the protective lip of the base to prevent access to the end for lifting the flange.

11. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein the label hinge is comprised of a non-plastic material.

12. The two-piece container of claim 1, wherein the label hinge is comprised of a plastic material.

13. The two-piece container of claim 12, wherein the label hinge functions as a hinge between the lid and the base and comprises at least one perforated line.

14. The two-piece container of claim 13, wherein the label hinge comprises two perforated lines.

15. A two-piece container comprising:

a base comprising a rim about an upper periphery, a protective lip integral to and extending from an outermost end of the rim and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the rim;
a lid comprising a flange about a lower periphery, the flange terminating at an outermost end, and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the flange corresponding to the portion of the rim having a label adhesion area; and
a label hinge having a surface comprised of an adhesive material, at least a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of base and a portion of the label hinge being attachable to the label adhesion area of the lid to thereby act as a hinge for the lid and base;
wherein the rim and flange have complimentary contours such that the flange snap fits within the periphery of the rim and the outermost end of the flange is positioned adjacent the protective lip of the base to prevent access to the end.

16. The two-piece container of claim 15, wherein a surface of the outermost end of the flange has an angle relative to an adjacent surface less than an angle of an outermost surface of the rim relative to an adjacent surface corresponding to the adjacent surface of the lid.

17. The two-piece container of claim 16, wherein the angle of the flange surface is in the range of from about 2 to about 10 degrees less than and the angle of the rim surface.

18. The two-piece container of claim 16, wherein the angle of the flange surface is about 5 degrees less than the angle of the rim surface.

19. A method for forming a tamper-resistant and tamper-evident two-piece container comprising the steps of:

forming a base for the container, the base comprising a rim about an upper periphery, a protective lip integral to and extending from an outermost end of the rim and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the rim;
forming a lid for the container, the lid comprising a flange about a lower periphery, the flange terminating at an outermost end, and a label adhesion area positioned along a portion of the flange corresponding to the portion of the rim having a label adhesion area;
applying at least a portion of a label hinge having a surface comprised of an adhesive material, to the label adhesion area of base; and
applying at least a portion of the label hinge to the label adhesion area of the lid to thereby act as a hinge for the lid and base;
wherein the rim and flange have complimentary contours such that the flange snap fits within the periphery of the rim and the outermost end of the flange is positioned adjacent the protective lip of the base to prevent access to the end.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the lid and base are formed of different materials.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140224824
Type: Application
Filed: Jan 31, 2014
Publication Date: Aug 14, 2014
Applicant: Strategic Global Sourcing, LLC (Diamond Springs, CA)
Inventor: Charles Pickering (El Dorado, CA)
Application Number: 14/169,417

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Pivotable, (e.g., Hinged) (220/810); Assembling Or Joining (29/428)
International Classification: B65D 43/02 (20060101);