US 3483908 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 16, 1969 D. w. DONOVAN 3,483,908
CONTAINER HAVING DISCHARGING MEANS Filed Jan. 8, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. DONALD W. DONOVAN 1969 D. w. DONOVAN CONTAINER HAVING DISCHARGING MEANS 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Jan. 8, 1968 F/G E w INVENTOR. DONALD w. DONOVAN US. Cl. ISO-.5 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to containers having a bottom portion which is flexibly designed in relation to the overall container body to aid in the discharge of a substantially solid substance from the container.
The present invention is related to containers and more specifically to containers designed for holding and discharging substantially solid substances from the containers in one piece.
As is known there are many types of containers for holding substantially solid substances which are designed to fulfill a number of requirements such as venting, stacking, rigidity and the like which are specifically required for the particular product being packaged. A rather wellknown variety is the so-called tray and overwrap wherein substantially solid materials such as fruit, cakes and the like are supported by the rather rigid tray and protected from the elements by a flexible film overwrap sealed to the tray. Unfortunately, when the overwrap is removed the packaged goods tend to be somewhat unstabily supported by the trap. Deepening the recesses in the tray helped resolve the problem somewhat but unfortunately presented another problem in the removal of substantially solid substances from the tray in one piece. Now a container has been developed having the advantages of deeply recessed containers but at the same time being designed to permit ready removal of a substantially solid substance from the container in one piece.
Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a container designed for holding and discharging a substantially solid substance in substantially one piece.
It is another object of the present invention to provide containers having bottom portions flexibly designed to aid in the discharge of a substantially solid substance substantially in one piece.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved container having plural recesses for holding substantially solid substances.
It is another object of the present invention to provide method and means to accomplish the foregoin objects.
These and other objects are attained in a container having a bottom and sidewall integral therewith wherein the combined configuration and thickness of said bottom in axial cross-section is designed to provide greater axial flexibility in relation to the sidewall of said container.
These and other objects of the present invention will be apparent from the following description when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. I is a side view of a container constructed in accordance with the principles of this invention;
FIG. 11 is a bottom view illustrataing one embodiment of a container constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. III is a sectional view of FIG. II as taken along the line III1II showing a side view of the container bottom illustrated in FIG. II;
FIG. IV is a second side view of the container as shown in FIG. I after the bottom portion has been depressed.
States atent O "ice FIG. V is a bottom view illustrating an alternate embodiment of a container constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. VI is a side view of an alternate container embodiment constructed in accordance with the principles of this invention;
FIG. VII is a side view of a container constructed in accordance with the principles of this invention utilizing plural recesses; and
FIG. VIII illustrates the top view of the embodiment shown in FIG. VII.
Referring to the drawings and more particularly FIG. I, there is diagrammatically shown a container 10 having a sidewall 12 and an integrally connected bottom 14 configured to enhance deformation or flexing in the axial direction. This configuration is illustrated more clearly in FIGS. II and III wherein the bottom 14 is shown having a spiral groove 16 spiralling outwardly from the center portion 13 of the bottom 14. Referring again to FIG. I, it can be seen that the sidewall 12 of the container 10 is provided with a series of substantially parallel ribs 20 which provide increased resistance to deformation in the lateral direction. By means of this construction, a substantially solid substance, such as a cupcake 22, held within the container I2, can be readily discharged in one piece by pressing the flexible container bottom upwardly using a finger or other means thereby forcing the cupcake upwardly such that the upper portion of the cupcake 22 can be gripped by hand or other means as shown in FIG. IV.
PIG. V illustrates an alternate embodiment of the present invention wherein the bottom grooves 24 are circular as opposed to the spiral arrangement shown in FIG. 11 and which will flex in a somewhat similar manner to the container bottom shown in FIG. II.
It is possible to provide an axial flexing action in a container having a substantially flat bottom such as shown in FLG- VI. in this embodiment a container is constructed having a bottom 32 of relatively thin thickness in comparison to the thickness of the sidewall 30. The groove configuration such as shown in FIG. II and V is preferred over a flat bottom since a substantially greater flexing action is generally obtainable due to the widening of the grooves while the bottom is being forced upwardly. This advantage of the grooved configuration can be partially oflset by rounding and thinning the bottom corner portion 34 of the flat bottom container 30. However, this may result in significant distortion of the lower portion of the sidewall when axial pressure is applied to the bottom of the container which may be undesirable for some applications. Consequently, the use of the thinned flattened bottom configuration is recommended for applications not requiring substantial bottom flexing and/or where container distortion is not a major problem.
In FIG. VII there is shown a container 40 which is particularly adaptable for holding more than one cupcake or other substantially solid substance. In this embodiment, two recesses 42 and 44 are employed, each having strengthened sidewalls and flexible bottoms. In addition, other special features have been incorporated in this container 4! which contribute unique structural characteristics. For example, to prevent the recesses 42 and 44 of the container 4% from holding towards each other and to provide structural strength between the recesses, the sidewall axial lengths between the two recesses are reduced such that the upper marginal edges 46 and 48 of these sidewalls at the portion between the recesses extend rather abruptly downwardly to a land or section 50 connecting the two recesses 42 and 44. In addition, a flange section 52 which can be seen more clearly in FIG. VIII is integrally connected to the upper marginal edges of both recesses, except at the land area wherein it is connected to upper extensions of the land or section 50, and extends outwardly in a substantially horizontal manner to provide a surface 54 whereby a film or sheet such as the film 56 shown in FIG. VII can be secured by any means to provide a hermetically sealed package. As shown in FIG. VIII the bottoms 53 and 60 of the cesses 42 and 44, respectively, are constructed similarly to that shown in FIG. 11 to provide the special bottom flexing effect of the present invention. In addition, it has been found that the bottom flexing action can be enhanced by reducing the bottom wall tickness in relation to the sidewall thickness such that both the bottom configuration and bottom thickness contribute to the flexing action.
In general, the containers of the present invention are designed for holding substantially solid substances such as cakes, fruit and the like as opposed to liquids or granular materials. These containers have a bottom and integrally connected sidewall wherein the combined configuration and thickness of the bottom in axial cross-section is designed to provide greater axial flexibility in relation to the lateral flexibility of the sidewall of the container. Consequently, substantially solid substances can be readily removed from these containers in substantially one piece by pressing upwardly against the bottom forcing a portion of the packaged substance above the upper edge of the sidewall of the container so that it can be gripped and removed from the container in substantially one piece. The preferred container for accomplishing this purpose is one with a bottom wall having a peripheral I margin integrally connected to a sidewall, a center portion which may be a point or greater area centrally oriented with relation to the peripheral margin and having an intermediate flexing portion disposed generally around the center and being corrugated outwardly relative to the center. The bottom flexing action is obtained primarily by the widening of the grooves and ridges of the corrugations when axial pressure is applied to the bottom. The corrugations extend outwardly from the center so that the grooves and ridges will expand inwardly and upwardly in response to the applied pressure. The grooves and ridges of the corrugation will extend generally around the center of the bottom so that the expansion of the corrugations is fairly equivalent all around the center. Two embodiments of corrugations are shown in the drawings wherein the grooves and ridges extend spirally in one embodiment and in concentric rings in the other. However, it is also possible to extend the grooves and ridges of the corrugations around the center in a square, hexagonal or other pattern, if desired, as long as i the expansive effect of the corrugations are fairly equivalent around the center. One corrugation extending out wardly from the center will work although it is generally preferable to have between two to four formed in any manner such as from one spiral.
To enhance the flexibility of the bottom in relation to the sidewall it may be desirable to reduce the wall thickness of the bottom wall such that the average bottom wall thickness is to the average sidewall thickness.
The overall container thickness may vary substantially as long as the bottom of the container is fairly readily flexible to finger pressure. In general, the containers of the present invention are formed from plastics, primarily substantially thermoplastic in nature, such as polystyrene and the like and the average sidewall thicknesses of such plastics will generally vary between 0.002 to 0.020 inch and more benerally between 0.003 to 0.010 inch. The average wall thickness of the bottom may be the same, greater or less than the average wall thickness of the sidewall. If the bottom wall thickness averages greater than the sidewall thickness, it may be necessary to form ribs or other discontinuities in the sidewall to increase sidewall resistance to lateral deflection when held. The sidewall is generally peripherally continuous, that is,
4 without seams, and is preferably shaped frusto-conicallv upwardly and outwardly from the peripheral bottom margin of the container although other shapes may be employed if desired.
FIGS. VII and VIII illustrate a container with some rather unusual and unique features incorporated in tr e caintainer. In the first instance this general type of container has plural recesses, each with flexible bottoms, for holdin a plurality of substantially solid substances such as cupcakes. In order to prevent the recesses from folding inwardly towards each other a special structure is incorporated by extending a portion of. the upper edge of each recess sidewall downwardly to a land or section connecting adjacent recesses. This section, the cross-sec tion of which may be flat, curvilinear, etc., imparts un usual structural stability to the container body which is of generally a thin-walled plastic material. Along the upper edges of the recess sidewalls is an integrally con nected flange whieh'extends outwardly from the sidewalls in a generally planar manner to provide an upper surface whereby a film or sheet of plastic, paper and the like may be secured to cover the recess openings, thereby hermetically sealing the contents of the package. if desired, ribbing and the like may be formed in the recess sidewalls to increase resistance to lateral deflection when held. In the preferred embodiment of FIGS. VII and VIII the ribs extend from about the bottom of each recess partially up the recess sidewall terminating in about the same plane taken perpendicularly with respect to the recess axis to provide improved structural stability to the overall package.
What is claimed is:
1. A thin wall, plastic container for holding a substantially solid food substance and for discharging the substance in substantially one piece, said container cornprising a resilient base for supporting the container, said base having a peripheral edge, a center portion centrally oriented with relation to the peripheral edge, said center portion being in the same general plane as the peripheral edge when said container is empty and an intermediate fiexing portion disposed generally around the center and being corrugated outwardly relative to the center and a sidewall integrally connected at its lower end to theperipheral edge of said base and extending upwardly from said peripheral edge to a generally open upper end whereby the corrugations of said flexing portion expand outwardly and the base moves upwardly when the center portion is pressed from beneath with a finger or the like to elevate an upper portion of he substantially solid food substance on the base beyond the open upper end of the container, the resilient base substantially returning to its initial position when the exerted pressure is released.
2. The container according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall has a plurality of longitudinally disposed ribs to provide resistance against deformation in the lateral direction when the center portion of the base is pressed upwardly.
3. The container according to claim 1 wherein the corrugated intermediate flexing portion of the base is in the form of a spiral.
4. The container according to claim 3 wherein the corrugated intermediate flexing portion of the base is in the form of concentric rings.
5. A hermetically sealed food package for holding a plurality of substantially solid food substances and for discharging each of the substances in substantially One piece, said package comprising a one piece, thin Wall plastic body having a plurality of recesses, each recess comprising a resilient bottom wall having a peripheral margin, a center portion centrally oriented with relation to the peripheral margin and an intermediate flexing portion disposed generally around the center and being corrugated outwardly relative to the center, a sidewall integrally connected to the peripheral margin of said bottom wall and extending upwardly from said peripheral margin to a generally open upper end, said sidewall having greater resistance to deflection in a direction parallel to the axis of the recess than the bottom wall, and a thermoplastic film covering for closing the open upper ends of said recesses, whereby, with the covering removed, the corrugations of each flexing portion may expand outwardly and the bottom wall of each recess may move upwardly when the center portion of each bottom Wall is pressed from beneath with a finger or the like to elevate an upper portion of a substantially solid food substance seated on the bottom wall of each recess beyond the open upper end of each recess, the bottom wall springing substantially back to its intial position when the exerted pressure is released.
6. The container according to claim 5 wherein the sidewall of each recess has a plurality of longitudinally disposed ribs extending upwardly from the proximity of the bottom perpiheral margin terminating in about the 6 same plane taken perpendicularly with respect to the recess axis.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,913,652 6/1933 Alexander 22066 2,182,454 12/ 1939 Sherman 249-127 X 2,312,637 3/1943 Fulenwider 220-66 2,982,440 5/1961 Harrison 220-66 3,077,284- 2/1963 McLaughlin 220-72 X FOREIGN PATENTS 426,614 6/ 1967 Switzerland.
GEORGE E. LOWRANCE, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.