PACKAGING CARD HAVING RIGIDITY FEATURES

A packaging backer card has features running along at least one edge thereof to create rigidity in the card. The features imparting rigidity may be integral with the backer card and may lie flat, in the same plane as the backer card, in a flattened configuration. The features imparting rigidity may be formed by folding at least a portion of the backer card along at least one side, where one or more tabs may be used to retain and lock the folds in the folded configuration. The folded configuration may create one or more longitudinal fold lines that contribute to reducing the likelihood of flexing, bending or drooping of the backer card. The backer card may be used to secure an item, such as a medical device, thereto.

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Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 16/149,963, filed Oct. 2, 2018, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the invention relates generally to packaging products. More particularly, the invention relates to a packaging card having one or more rigidity features, such as a click-lock rail, providing additional resistance to flexing or drooping of the packaging backer card.

2. Description of Prior Art and Related Information

The following background information may present examples of specific aspects of the prior art (e.g., without limitation, approaches, facts, or common wisdom) that, while expected to be helpful to further educate the reader as to additional aspects of the prior art, is not to be construed as limiting the present invention, or any embodiments thereof, to anything stated or implied therein or inferred thereupon.

When packaging products, such as medical devices, often the device is placed on a packaging backer cards. These backer cards are typically made of thin plastic, paperboard, cardboard, or the like, which does not offer significant resistance to flexing, drooping or bending of the packaging backer card. When the device is flexible itself, such as a long, flexible catheter, flexing of the backer card causes the product to also flex or bend. While stiffeners may be attached to the backer card, such items often protrude from the cards, requiring substantially larger storage and shipping space.

In view of the foregoing, there is a need for packaging backer card that can includes integrated features for added rigidity that do not increase the thickness of the backer card when the rigidity features are not engaged.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a backer card comprising a generally flat sheet, when the backer card is in a flattened configuration, having a plurality of tabs extending outward from the flat sheet, the plurality of tabs being in the same plane of the flat sheet when the backer card is in the flattened configuration; a plurality of fold lines disposed lengthwise along at least one side edge of the backer card, the plurality of fold lines configured to form a geometric shape when folded and retained in a locked rail configuration; a plurality of engagement members, each of the plurality of engagement members corresponding to each of the plurality of tabs, wherein when the backer card is folded along the plurality of fold lines, each of the plurality of tabs engage with respective ones of the plurality of engagement members, and at least one of (a) each of the plurality of tabs and (b) each of the plurality of engagement members includes a locking feature configured to retain the connection between the plurality of tabs and the plurality of engagement members and retain the locked rail configuration.

In some embodiments, the geometric shape is triangular.

In some embodiments, the geometric shape is rectangular.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following drawings, description and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Some embodiments of the present invention are illustrated as an example and are not limited by the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which like references may indicate similar elements.

FIG. 1 is a back view of a backer card, in a flattened configuration, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a front view of the backer card of FIG. 1;

FIG. 2B is a front view of the backer card of FIG. 1 having various device retention features formed therein;

FIG. 3 is a close-up view of a side rail connector, with its tabs disconnected, of the backer card of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a close-up view of a side rail connector, with its tabs connected, of the backer card of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a front view of the backer card of FIG. 1 with each of its tabs connected prior to locking the tabs;

FIG. 6 is a close-up front view of the backer card of FIG. 5 with the tab moved into a click-locked position;

FIG. 7 is a close-up back view of the backer card of FIG. 5 with the tab moved into a clicked-locked position;

FIG. 8 is a back view of a backer card, in a flattened configuration, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9A front view of the backer card of FIG. 8;

FIG. 9B is a front view of the backer card of FIG. 8 having various device retention features formed therein;

FIG. 10 is a close-up view of a side rail connector, with its tabs disconnected, of the backer card of FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a close-up view of a side rail connector, with its tabs engaged, of the backer card of FIG. 8;

FIG. 12 is a front view of the backer card of FIG. 8 with all tabs engaged;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the backer card of FIG. 1 with a device attached thereto;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the backer card of FIG. 8 with a device attached thereto;

FIG. 15 is a top view of a backer card having a triangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 16A shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 15, illustrating pre-assembly thereof;

FIG. 16B shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 15, illustrating user assembly thereof;

FIG. 17 is a top view of a backer card having a triangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 18A shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 17, illustrating pre-assembly thereof;

FIG. 18B shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 17, illustrating user assembly thereof;

FIG. 19 is a top view of a backer card having a triangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 20A shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 19, illustrating pre-assembly thereof;

FIG. 20B shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 19, illustrating user assembly thereof;

FIG. 21 is a top view of a backer card having a rectangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 22A shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 21, illustrating pre-assembly thereof;

FIG. 22B shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 21, illustrating user assembly thereof;

FIG. 23 is a top view of a backer card having a rectangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 24A shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 23, illustrating assembly thereof;

FIG. 24B is a continuation of the assembly shown in FIG. 24A;

FIG. 25 is a top view of a backer card having a rectangular rail and lock feature according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 26A1 shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 25, illustrating pre-assembly thereof;

FIG. 26A2 is a continuation of the pre-assembly shown in FIG. 26A1; and

FIG. 26B shows perspective views of the backer card of FIG. 25, illustrating user assembly thereof.

Unless otherwise indicated illustrations in the figures are not necessarily drawn to scale.

The invention and its various embodiments can now be better understood by turning to the following detailed description wherein illustrated embodiments are described. It is to be expressly understood that the illustrated embodiments are set forth as examples and not by way of limitations on the invention as ultimately defined in the claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS AND BEST MODE OF INVENTION

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the term “and/or” includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items. As used herein, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” are intended to include the plural forms as well as the singular forms, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises” and/or “comprising,” when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof.

Unless otherwise defined, all terms (including technical and scientific terms) used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one having ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. It will be further understood that terms, such as those defined in commonly used dictionaries, should be interpreted as having a meaning that is consistent with their meaning in the context of the relevant art and the present disclosure and will not be interpreted in an idealized or overly formal sense unless expressly so defined herein.

In describing the invention, it will be understood that a number of techniques and steps are disclosed. Each of these has individual benefit and each can also be used in conjunction with one or more, or in some cases all, of the other disclosed techniques. Accordingly, for the sake of clarity, this description will refrain from repeating every possible combination of the individual steps in an unnecessary fashion. Nevertheless, the specification and claims should be read with the understanding that such combinations are entirely within the scope of the invention and the claims.

In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be evident, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details.

The present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments illustrated by the figures or description below.

As is well known to those skilled in the art, many careful considerations and compromises typically must be made when designing for the optimal configuration of a commercial implementation of any system, and in particular, the embodiments of the present invention. A commercial implementation in accordance with the spirit and teachings of the present invention may be configured according to the needs of the particular application, whereby any aspect(s), feature(s), function(s), result(s), component(s), approach(es), or step(s) of the teachings related to any described embodiment of the present invention may be suitably omitted, included, adapted, mixed and matched, or improved and/or optimized by those skilled in the art, using their average skills and known techniques, to achieve the desired implementation that addresses the needs of the particular application.

Broadly, embodiments of the present invention provide a packaging backer card having features running along at least one edge thereof to create rigidity in the card. The features imparting rigidity may be integral with the backer card and may lie flat, in the same plane as the backer card, in a flattened configuration. The features imparting rigidity may be formed by folding at least a portion of the backer card along at least one side, where one or more tabs may be used to retain the folds in the folded configuration. The folded configuration may create one or more longitudinal fold lines that contribute to reducing the likelihood of flexing, bending or drooping of the backer card. The backer card may be used to secure an item, such as a medical device, thereto.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 7, a backer card 10 can include a back side 12 and a front side 28. The backer card 10 can be formed of various materials, including paper, paperboard, cardboard, plastic or the like. In some embodiments, the backer card 10 is formed from a high-density polyethylene material. The backer card 10 can be formed in various lengths, depending on the particular application.

The backer card 10 can include a plurality of tabs 14 bendable along a tab fold line 16. The tab fold line 16 may be generally in-line with an outer side edge of the flattened backer card 10. Each of the tabs 14 can include one or more engagement tabs 24 that may be moved in and out of the plane of the tabs 14. Tab cut lines 26 may be disposed within the tabs 14 to form the engagement tabs 24. In some embodiments, two tab cut lines 26 may be formed in mirror-image U-shapes to form two engagement tabs 24 that extend in opposite directions generally parallel with a lengthwise axis of the backer card 10. Of course, other shapes for the tab cut lines that form the engagement tabs 24 are contemplated within the scope of the present invention, provided that the resulting tab shape is capable of interacting with the slots 22 as described below.

An outer lengthwise fold line 18 and an inner lengthwise fold line 20 may be disposed adjacent each other and generally parallel with each other along a length of the backer card near a side edge thereof. In some embodiments, the outer lengthwise fold line 18 and the inner lengthwise fold lien 20 may be disposed on both side edges thereof. The fold lines 18, 20 may extend from a top end to a bottom end of the backer card 10, as shown in FIG. 1, for example.

To create the packaging backer card, a user can take the generally flat backer card 10 and create a fold along the fold lines 18, 20. Each of the folds may be made upward and toward a central axis of the backer card 10 when the backer card 10 is placed with its front side 28 facing upward.

The user may then hold the fold line 18 flat against a base 32 of the backer card 10, with the fold line 20 creating about a 180 degree fold. In this configuration, the engagement tabs 24 may align with at least an inner portion 22A of slots 22 formed in the backer card. Once all of the engagement tabs 24 are positioned within the inner portions 22A of each of the slots 22 along the side of the backer card 10, the user may slide the tab 14 along the base 32 to cause upward extending portion 34 and downward extending portion 36 to tent and form an opening 30 along the length of the backer card 10. Sliding of the tab 14 causes the engagement tabs 24 to slide along the slots 22 into an outer portion 22B of the slots. A protrusion 22C can extend into the slots 22 providing a lip 22D that may prevent the engagement tabs 24 from moving from the outer portion 22B back to inner portion 22A. While FIG. 7 show the protrusion 22C as being rounded, in some embodiments, the protrusion 22C may be shaped more closely to a right angle to prevent movement of the engagement tabs 24. The protrusion 22C can be formed in various shapes provided that the engagement tabs 24 may lock into place when moved into the outer portion 22B of the slots 22. Such a locked configuration can result in engagement of the tabs to establish a rigid card where there is no intent of rail collapse during handling, shipping or use, thus protecting the loaded medical device.

The tabs 14 may be formed along one or both of the side edges. The tabs 14 and slots 22 may be arranged along the backer card 10 at a spacing to maintain the folded configuration described above. In some embodiments, the tabs 14 and slots 22 may be spaced apart by from about 2 to about 8 inches, typically from about 4 to about 6 inches. The number of tabs 14 and slots 22 may be determined by the length of the backer card 10.

In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 2B, the backer card 10 can include card engagement features formed as engageable fingers 39 and/or resiliently flexible tabs 38. As can be seen in FIG. 13, a medical device 70 may be held in place on the backer card 10 via these engagement features. Placement and selection of engagement features may vary depending on the specific application. While specific fingers 39 and tabs 38 are shown in FIG. 13, other engagement features, as may be contemplated by one skilled in the art, are included within the scope of the present invention.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 through 12, a backer card 40 can include a front side 42 and a back side 58. The backer card 40 can include a plurality of tabs 44 extending from at least one lengthwise side edge. In some embodiments, the tabs 44 extend along each of the side edges of the backer card 40. In the unfolded configuration, the backer card 40 and tabs 44 may lie in the same plane. The tabs 44 may include a tab fold line 46. The tab fold line 46 may be generally in-line with an outer side edge of the flattened backer card 40.

An engagement tab 54 may be formed at each tab 44 as a cutout extending from the tab fold line 46 inward toward a central lengthwise axis of the backer card 40. In some embodiments, the engagement tabs 54 may be U-shaped. Of course, other shapes for the cutout that form the engagement tab 54 are contemplated within the scope of the present invention, provided that the resulting tab shape is capable of interacting with the receiving tabs 52 as described below.

Thus, when the tab 44 is folded along the tab fold line 46, the engagement tab 54 may remain in the plane of the tab 44.

An outer lengthwise fold line 48 and an inner lengthwise fold line 50 may be disposed along one or both sides of the backer card 40. In some embodiments, the engagement tab 54 may extend to or prior to the outer lengthwise fold line 48.

Receiving tabs 52 may be formed corresponding to each engagement tab 54 and disposed toward a center lengthwise axis of the backer card 40. The receiving tabs 52 may be formed generally as a mirror image of each engagement tab 54. The receiving tabs 52 may be bent upward and away from the plane of the backer card 40.

To assemble the backer card 40 from its flattened configuration, a user may fold each tab 44 upward along the tab fold line 46 to nearly a 180 degree bend so that the tab 44 is against a top surface of the backer card 40. The user can then fold along the outer lengthwise fold line 48 so that the engagement tab 54 is adjacent the receiving tab 52. The user can press upward on the receiving tab 52 so that the receiving tab 52 moves on top of the engagement tab 54. The user can then upwardly bend along the inner lengthwise fold line 50 so that the section between the fold lines 48, 50 extends upward and away from the plane of the backer card 40.

Similar to the backer card 10, the tabs 44 may be formed along one or both of the side edges. The tabs 44 and receiving tabs 52 may be arranged along the backer card 40 at a spacing to maintain the folded configuration described above. In some embodiments, the tabs 44 and receiving tabs 52 may be spaced apart by from about 2 to about 8 inches, typically from about 4 to about 6 inches. The number of tabs 44 and receiving tabs 52 may be determined by the length of the backer card 40.

In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 9B, the backer card 40 can include card engagement features formed as engageable fingers 39 and/or resiliently flexible tabs 38. As can be seen in FIG. 14, a medical device 70 may be held in place on the backer card 40 via these engagement features. Placement and selection of engagement features may vary depending on the specific application. While specific fingers 39 and tabs 38 are shown in FIG. 14, other engagement features, as may be contemplated by one skilled in the art, are included within the scope of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 15, 16A and 16B, there is shown a backer card 60 in a flattened state. The backer card 60 may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked rail state. Similar to the prior described embodiments, the embodiment of FIGS. 15-16B illustrate a generally triangular rail 77 that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 60. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention. Such variations may include number of lock mechanisms, shape of tabs and lock openings, different product retention devices 67, and the like.

The backer card 60 can include a plurality of fold locations 66, including a first fold location 66-1, a second fold location 66-2 and a third fold location 66-3. The fold locations 66 may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 66 as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 66 may be disposed along a length of the backer card 60 on opposite sides thereof.

The backer card 60 may be formed by interconnecting tabs 64 into slots 62. In the embodiment shown, the tabs 64 are formed on the body of the backer card 60, the body being defined as the region inside the fold locations 66 on opposite sides thereof. The tabs 64 may be formed by cutting semicircular cuts through the backer card 60, as shown. Of course, other shapes and configurations of tabs 64 may be utilized in the present invention provided then engage with the slots 62 and form a locked rail configuration as discussed below.

The slots 62 may be formed on slot regions 69 adjacent an outer location along sides of the backer card 60. The slots 62 may include a first region 61 contiguous with a second region 63. In the unlocked state, the tabs 64 may engage with the first region 61. When in a rail locked state, as discussed below, the tabs 64 may engage with the second region 63 and an indent 71 may prevent inadvertent movement back to the unlocked state.

FIG. 16A illustrates steps that may be taken in advance to prepare the backer card 60. A first step 160 shows the backer card 60 in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 15. In step 162, a flap 72, disposed between the slot regions 69, may be folded inward along first fold line 66-1. Four flaps 72 are shown, however, the number of flaps 72 may vary depending on the size and application of the backer card. The sides of the backer card 60 may then be folded inward along third fold line 66-3 as shown in step 164. In this configuration, the tabs 64 align with the first region 61 of the slots 62. The tabs 64 may be then inserted into the first region 61 of the slots 62 as shown in step 166. In this configuration, the backer card 60 remains relatively flat. In some embodiments, the backer card 60 may be pre-assembled as shown in FIG. 16A and shipped to an end user in a relatively compact package.

FIG. 16B illustrates steps that the end user may take to transform the backer card 60 from the pre-assembled, relatively flat configuration shown at step 166 of FIG. 16A, into a more rigid and stable backer card, having locked triangular rails 77. In step 167, the user may slide the slot region 69 outward, causing the tabs 64 to move from the first region 61 to the second region 63 of the slots 62 while the second fold 66-2 bends upward. The tabs 64 may engage with the indent 71 to lock the rail 77 into a triangular configuration as shown in step 168. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 60 via the product retention devices 67 in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

Referring to FIGS. 17, 18A and 18B, there is shown a backer card 60A in a flattened state. The backer card 60A may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked rail state. Similar to the prior described embodiments, the embodiment of FIGS. 17-18B illustrate a generally triangular rail 77A that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 60A. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

The backer card 60A can include a plurality of fold locations 66A, including a first fold location 66A-1, a second fold location 66A-2 and a third fold location 66A-3. The fold locations 66A may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 66A as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 66A may be disposed along a length of the backer card 60A on opposite sides thereof.

The backer card 60A may be formed by interconnecting tabs 64A into slots 62A. In the embodiment shown, the tabs 64A are formed on the body of the backer card 60A, the body being defined as the region inside the fold locations 66A on opposite sides thereof. The tabs 64A may be formed by cutting semicircular cuts through the backer card 60A, as shown. Of course, other shapes and configurations of tabs 64A may be utilized in the present invention provided then engage with the slots 62A and form a locked rail configuration as discussed below.

The slots 62A may be formed on slot regions 69A adjacent an outer location along sides of the backer card 60A. The slots 62A may include a first region 61A contiguous with a second region 63A. In the unlocked state, the tabs 64A may engage with the first region 61A. When in a rail locked state, as discussed below, the tabs 64A may engage with the second region 63A and an indent 71A may prevent inadvertent movement back to the unlocked state.

FIG. 18A illustrates steps that may be taken in advance to prepare the backer card 60A. A first step 180 shows the backer card 60A in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 17. In step 182, a flap 72A, disposed between the slot regions 69A, may be folded inward along first fold line location 66A-1. Four flaps 72A are shown, however, the number of flaps 72A may vary depending on the size and application of the backer card. The sides of the backer card 60A may then be folded inward along third fold line 66A-3 as shown in step 184. In this configuration, the tabs 64A align with the first region 61A of the slots 62A. The tabs 64A may be then inserted into the first region 61A of the slots 62A. In this configuration, the backer card 60A remains relatively flat. In some embodiments, the backer card 60A may be pre-assembled as shown in FIG. 18A and shipped to an end user in a relatively compact package.

FIG. 18B illustrates steps that the end user may take to transform the backer card 60A from the pre-assembled, relatively flat configuration shown at step 184 of FIG. 18A, into a more rigid and stable backer card, having locked triangular rails 77A. In step 186, the user may slide the slot region 69A outward, causing the tabs 64A to move from the first region 61A to the second region 63A of the slots 62A while the second fold 66A-2 bends upward. The tabs 64A may engage with the indent 71A to lock the rail 77A into a triangular configuration as shown in step 188. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 60A via the product retention devices in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

Referring to FIGS. 19, 20A and 20B, there is shown a backer card 60B in a flattened state. The backer card 60B may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked rail state. Similar to the prior described embodiments, the embodiment of FIGS. 19-20B illustrate a generally triangular rail 77B that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 60B. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

The backer card 60B can include a plurality of fold locations 66B, including a first fold location 66B-1, a second fold location 66B-2 and a third fold location 66B-3. The fold locations 66B may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 66B as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 66B may be disposed along a length of the backer card 60B on opposite sides thereof

Cutouts 74 may extend from an exterior of each side of the backer card 60A toward an interior thereof. The cutouts 74 can include a generally linear portion 79 terminating in an increased width cutout portion 78, also referred to end portion 78. The end portion 78 may be positioned along the first fold location 66B-1. The cutouts 74 may separate flaps 72B as shown. The cutouts 74 may perform similarly to the slots 62, 62A described above.

Cuts may be made to form tabs on the body of the backer card 60B. The cuts can include two adjacent, mirror image cuts that have a first portion 75 increasing the distance between adjacent cuts, a second portion 76 that decreases the distance between adjacent cuts, and a third portion 77 that forms the tabs that function similar to the tabs 64, 64A described above. The first portion 75, the second portion and the third portion 77 may be interconnected cuts as shown.

FIG. 20A illustrates steps that may be taken in advance to prepare the backer card 60B. A first step 200 shows the backer card 60B in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 19. In step 202, a flap 72B, disposed between the cutouts 74, may be folded inward along first fold line location 66B-1. Six flaps 72B are shown, however, the number of flaps 72B may vary depending on the size and application of the backer card. The sides of the backer card 60B may then be folded inward along third fold line 66B-3 as shown in step 202. In this configuration, the edges of the linear portion 79 of the cutouts 74 may align with the first portion 75 of the cuts 75, 76 77. The third portion 77 may be separated upward and placed over sides of the cutouts 74. In this configuration, the backer card 60B remains relatively flat. In some embodiments, the backer card 60B may be pre-assembled as shown in FIG. 20A and shipped to an end user in a relatively compact package.

FIG. 20B illustrates steps that the end user may take to transform the backer card 60B from the pre-assembled, relatively flat configuration shown at step 202 of FIG. 20A, into a more rigid and stable backer card, having locked triangular rails 77B. In step 204, the user may slide the sides outward, causing the tabs cutouts 74 to move from the first portion 75 to the third portion 77 while the second fold 66B-2 bends upward. The sides of the cutouts 74 may engage with the indent formed by the second portion 76 to lock the rail 77B into a triangular configuration as shown in step 206. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 60B via the product retention devices in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

FIGS. 21 through 26B illustrate backer cards that may result in a rectangular rail, as opposed to the triangular rails described above. Embodiments described below, with the rectangular rail, operate in a similar fashion to the embodiments above, where the backer cards may be transformed from a generally flat unlocked rail configuration to a more stable and more rigid locked rail configuration. In each of the embodiments described herein, the rails may be retained in the locked rail configuration, meaning that elements of the backer card are used to prevent inadvertent change in configuration from the locked rail configuration back to the unlocked rail configuration While specific details of the rectangular rail design as described below, it should be understood that changes to the specifics discussed below may be made as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.

Referring now to FIGS. 21, 22A and 22B, there is shown a backer card 80 in a flattened state. The backer card 80 may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked, rectangular rail state. Similar to the embodiments of FIGS. 23 through 26B, discussed below, the embodiment of FIGS. 21-22B illustrate a generally rectangular rail 92 that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 80. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

The backer card 80 can include a plurality of fold locations 82, including a first fold location 82-1, a second fold location 82-2, a third fold location 82-3 and a fourth fold location 82-4. The fold locations 82 may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 82 as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 82 may be disposed along a length of the backer card 80 on opposite sides thereof.

The backer card 80 may be formed by interconnecting tabs 90 into slots 81. In the embodiment shown, the tabs 90 are formed on the body of the backer card 80, the body being defined as the region between the fold locations 82 on opposite sides thereof. The tabs 90 may be formed by leaving a mushroom-shaped portion (tab 90) within a cutout portion 84 on the body of the backer card 80, as shown. Of course, other shapes and configurations of tabs 90 may be utilized in the present invention provided then engage with the slots 81 and form a locked rail configuration as discussed below.

The slots 81 may be formed on by cutting the backer card 80 in a generally U-shape 86 inward from the first fold location 82-1, as shown in FIG. 21. The slots 81 may have a width larger than the leading edge of the tab 90, but smaller than the thickest part 91 of the tab 90. In the unlocked state, the tabs 90 may engage with the slot 81, where the tabs 90 are partially inserted therein, where this partial insertion is prior to reaching the thickest part of the tab 90. When in a rail locked state, as discussed below, the tabs 90 may be slid into the slots 81 beyond the thickest part 91 of the tabs 90, where the lip formed by this thickest part 91 engages with the slot 81 to prevent inadvertent movement back to the unlocked state.

FIG. 22A illustrates steps that may be taken in advance to prepare the backer card 80. A first step 220 shows the backer card 80 in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 21. In step 222, a flap 88 may be folded inward along first fold line location 82-1. The sides of the backer card 80 may then be folded inward along fourth fold line 82-4 as shown in step 204. In this configuration, the tabs 90 align with the slots 81. The tabs 81 may be then partially inserted into the slots 81. In this configuration, the backer card 80 remains relatively flat. In some embodiments, the backer card 80 may be pre-assembled as shown in FIG. 22A and shipped to an end user in a relatively compact package.

FIG. 22B illustrates steps that the end user may take to transform the backer card 80 from the pre-assembled, relatively flat configuration shown at step 206 of FIG. 22A, into a more rigid and stable backer card, having locked rectangular rails 92. In step 207, the user may pull the slot 81 inward, causing the tabs 90 to move fully into the slots 81. The flap 88 may rest against the flat body of the backer card 80 to help maintain the backer card 80 in the locked rail configuration as shown in step 208. In some embodiments, a locking tab 93 may be formed in the body of the backer card 80. The locking tab 93 may be arranged to receive the flap 88 there under to help prevent inadvertent reversal into the unlocked configuration. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 80 via the product retention devices in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

Referring now to FIGS. 23, 24A and 24B, there is shown a backer card 80A in a flattened state. The backer card 80A may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked, rectangular rail state. Similar to the embodiment above, the embodiment of FIGS. 23-24B illustrate a generally rectangular rail 92A that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 80A. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

The backer card 80A can include a plurality of fold locations 82A, including a first fold location 82A-1, a second fold location 82A-2, a third fold location 82A-3, a fourth fold location 82A-4 and a fifth fold location 82A-5. The fold locations 82A may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 82A as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 82A may be disposed along a length of the backer card 80A on opposite sides thereof.

The backer card 80A may be formed by interconnecting tabs 90A into slots 81A. In the embodiment shown, the tabs 90A are formed on the body of the backer card 80A, the body being defined as the region between the fold locations 82A on opposite sides thereof. The tabs 90A may be formed by leaving a mushroom-shaped portion (tab 90A) within a cutout portion 84A on the body of the backer card 80A, as shown. Of course, other shapes and configurations of tabs 90A may be utilized in the present invention provided then engage with the slots 81A and form a locked rail configuration as discussed below.

The slots 81A may be formed on by cutting the backer card 80A in a generally U-shape 86A inward from the second fold location 82A-2, as shown in FIG. 23. The slots 81A may have a width larger than the leading edge of the tab 90A, but smaller than the thickest part of the tab 90A. In the unlocked state, the tabs 90A may engage with the slot 81A, where the tabs 90A are partially inserted therein, where this partial insertion is prior to reaching the thickest part of the tab 90A. When in a rail locked state, as discussed below, the tabs 90A may be slid into the slots 81A beyond the thickest part of the tabs 90A, where the lip formed by this thickest part engages with the slot 81A to prevent inadvertent movement back to the unlocked state.

FIGS. 24A and 24B illustrate steps that may be taken to assemble the backer card 80A. A first step 240 shows the backer card 80A in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 23. In step 242, a flap 88A-2 may be folded inward along first fold line location 82A-1. In step 244, an inner flap 88A-1 may be folded inward along the second fold location 82A-2. The sides of the backer card 80A may then be folded inward along fourth fold line 82A-4 as shown in step 244. In this configuration, the tabs 90A align with the slots 81A. The tabs 81A may be then inserted into the slots 81A as shown in step 206 of FIG. 24B. The user may pull the slot 81A inward, causing the tabs 90A to move fully into the slots 81A to form the rectangular rails 92B as shown in step 248. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 80A via the product retention devices in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

Referring now to FIGS. 25, 26A1, 26A2 and 26B, there is shown a backer card 80B, similar to the backer card 80A, above, in a flattened state. The backer card 80B may be folded into a pre-assembled state (also referred to as an unlocked rail state) that may be readily transformed into a locked, rectangular rail state. Similar to the embodiment above, the embodiment of FIGS. 25-26B illustrate a generally rectangular rail 92B that may be locked in its locked state to add rigidity to the backer card 80B. While specific details are provided, it should be understood that variations are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

The backer card 80B can include a plurality of fold locations 82B, including a first fold location 82B-1, a second fold location 82B-2, a third fold location 82B-3, a fourth fold location 82B-4 and a fifth fold location 82B-5. The fold locations 82B may be formed by a variety of methods, including by making the fold locations 82B as a reduced thickness region. The fold locations 82B may be disposed along a length of the backer card 80B on opposite sides thereof.

The backer card 80B may be formed by interconnecting tabs 90B into slots 81B. In the embodiment shown, the tabs 90B are formed on the body of the backer card 80B, the body being defined as the region between the fold locations 82B on opposite sides thereof. The tabs 90B may be formed by leaving a mushroom-shaped portion (tab 90B) within a cutout portion 84B on the body of the backer card 80B, as shown. Of course, other shapes and configurations of tabs 90B may be utilized in the present invention provided then engage with the slots 81B and form a locked rail configuration as discussed below.

The slots 81B may be formed on by cutting the backer card 80B in a generally U-shape 86B inward from the second fold location 82B-2, as shown in FIG. 25. The slots 81B may have a width larger than the leading edge of the tab 90B, but smaller than the thickest part of the tab 90B. In the unlocked state, the tabs 90B may engage with the slot 81B, where the tabs 90B are partially inserted therein, where this partial insertion is prior to reaching the thickest part of the tab 90B. When in a rail locked state, as discussed below, the tabs 90B may be slid into the slots 81B beyond the thickest part of the tabs 90B, where the lip formed by this thickest part engages with the slot 81B to prevent inadvertent movement back to the unlocked state.

FIGS. 26A1 and 26A2 illustrate steps that may be taken to pre-assemble the backer card 80B. A first step 260 shows the backer card 80B in a flattened state as shown in FIG. 25. In step 262, a flap 88B-2 may be folded inward along first fold line location 82B-1. In step 264, an inner flap 88B-1 may be folded inward along the second fold location 82B-2. The sides of the backer card 80B may then be folded inward along fourth fold line 82B-4 as shown in step 264. In this configuration, the tabs 90B align with the slots 81B. The tabs 90B may be then inserted into the slots 81B as shown in step 266. This may be repeated for both sides as shown in step 267.

Referring to FIG. 26B, the user may pull the slot 81B inward, causing the tabs 90B to move fully into the slots 81B to form the rectangular rails 92B as shown in step 268. In some embodiments, a locking tab 94 may be formed in the body of the backer card 80B. The locking tab 94 may have a fold location 98 to bend the locking tab 94 inward to help prevent inadvertent reversal into the unlocked configuration. Articles may then be secured to the backer card 80B via the product retention devices in various manners, including those discussed above, for example.

All the features disclosed in this specification, including any accompanying abstract and drawings, may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

Many alterations and modifications may be made by those having ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it must be understood that the illustrated embodiments have been set forth only for the purposes of examples and that they should not be taken as limiting the invention as defined by the following claims. For example, notwithstanding the fact that the elements of a claim are set forth below in a certain combination, it must be expressly understood that the invention includes other combinations of fewer, more or different ones of the disclosed elements.

The words used in this specification to describe the invention and its various embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification the generic structure, material or acts of which they represent a single species.

The definitions of the words or elements of the following claims are, therefore, defined in this specification to not only include the combination of elements which are literally set forth. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements in the claims below or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim. Although elements may be described above as acting in certain combinations and even initially claimed as such, it is to be expressly understood that one or more elements from a claimed combination can in some cases be excised from the combination and that the claimed combination may be directed to a subcombination or variation of a subcombination.

Insubstantial changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalently within the scope of the claims. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements.

The claims are thus to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted and also what incorporates the essential idea of the invention.

Claims

1. A backer card comprising:

a generally flat sheet, when the backer card is in a flattened configuration, having a plurality of tabs extending outward from the flat sheet, the plurality of tabs being in the same plane of the flat sheet when the backer card is in the flattened configuration;
a plurality of fold lines disposed lengthwise along at least one side edge of the backer card, the plurality of fold lines configured to form a geometric shape when folded and retained in a locked rail configuration;
a plurality of engagement members, each of the plurality of engagement members corresponding to each of the plurality of tabs, wherein
when the backer card is folded along the plurality of fold lines, each of the plurality of tabs engage with respective ones of the plurality of engagement members, and
at least one of (a) each of the plurality of tabs and (b) each of the plurality of engagement members includes a locking feature configured to retain the connection between the plurality of tabs and the plurality of engagement members and retain the locked rail configuration.

2. The backer card of claim 1, wherein the geometric shape is triangular.

3. The backer card of claim 1, wherein the geometric shape is rectangular.

4. The backer card of claim 1, further comprising one or more device engagement cutouts formed in the backer card, the one or more device engagement cutouts being in the same plane as the backer card in the flattened configuration and deformable to engage a device disposed on the backer card.

5. The backer card of claim 2, wherein each of the plurality of tabs are formed as a pair of tabs.

6. The backer card of claim 5, wherein each of the plurality of engagement members are formed as a pair of slots configured to receive the pair of tabs therein.

7. The backer card of claim 6, wherein the pair of tabs fit into a first portion of the slots and the backer card is configured in a generally flat, pre-assembled configuration.

8. The backer card of claim 7, wherein the pair of tabs are slidable from the first portion of the slots to a second portion of the pair of slots, forming the locked rail configuration with a rail on at least one side of the backer card.

9. The backer card of claim 8, further comprising an indent between the first portion and the second portion of the pair of slots, the indent retaining the backer card in the locked rail configuration.

10. The backer card of claim 5, wherein each of the plurality of engagement members are formed as a single slot.

11. The backer card of claim 10, wherein the pair of tabs fit into a first portion of the single slot, extending over opposing sides thereof and the backer card is configured in a generally flat, pre-assembled configuration.

12. The backer card of claim 11, wherein the pair of tabs are slidable from the first portion of the single slot to a second portion of the single slot, forming a locked rail configuration with a rail on at least one side of the backer card.

13. The backer card of claim 12, further comprising an indent on each side of the single slot, the indent retaining the backer card in the locked rail configuration.

14. The backer card of claim 5, wherein each of the plurality of engagement members are formed as a single slot extending from an outer edge of the backer card and configured to receive the pair of tabs therein.

15. The backer card of claim 14, wherein the pair of tabs fit into the single slot and the backer card is configured in a generally flat, pre-assembled configuration.

16. The backer card of claim 15, wherein the slots are slidable from a first portion of the tabs to a second portion of the tabs, forming the locked rail configuration with a rail on at least one side of the backer card.

17. The backer card of claim 16, further comprising an indent in each of the tabs, the indent retaining the backer card in the locked rail configuration.

18. The backer card of claim 3, wherein each of the plurality of tabs are formed as single tabs in a mushroom shape.

19. The backer card of claim 19, wherein each of the plurality of engagement members are formed as a slot configured to receive respective ones of the plurality of tabs therein.

20. The backer card of claim 6, wherein each of the tabs fit into the slot in a first unlocked configuration and are movable within the slot to the locked rail configuration.

Patent History
Publication number: 20200102133
Type: Application
Filed: Oct 25, 2018
Publication Date: Apr 2, 2020
Inventors: Tyler BELL (Costa Mesa, CA), Alfredo PINEDA (Corona, CA), Job YEO (Pomona, CA), Alex SOLANO (Anaheim, CA), Paul LACANLALE (Rowland Heights, CA), Andrew KIM (Artesia, CA), Aaron CAMPBELL (Villa Park, CA), Edward A. GENTILE (Los Angeles, CA)
Application Number: 16/170,953
Classifications
International Classification: B65D 73/00 (20060101);