This invention relates to an improved crate-like carton, to a package wherein containers cooperate with the carton to increase stacking strength, and to a method for packaging containers in such a carton.
It has long been the practice in the dairy industry and in some other industries to package products in containers and then to transport the containers in wood, wire, or plastic crates. All of these crates have been too expensive to be economical unless reused many times; so they had to be returned for cleaing and reloading. The crates themselves have been heavy and have taken up a considerable amount of space in the returning truck, and they required storage space in the plant where they had to be re-processed before reuse. Also, the fact that they were to be returned was coupled with the fact that returns were necessarily delayed for the period of distribution and sale, so that each distributor had to buy and to maintain about four to six times as many crates as were actually being distributed at any one time. Necessarily, special cleaning and special handling equipment was required at the plant, and additional employees were required to perform the necessary operations of handling the crates, storing them, and re-processing them.
While these crates have long been tolerated, it has also long been known that they failed to protect the individual packages from damage, except for helping to prevent top crushing. There was no protection from side damage, and the fit within the crate could not be snug enough to avoid internal damage within the crate. The dead weight of the crates themselves necessarily reduced the net weight of the payload on distributing trucks and required more effort and more mechanical aids in loading and unloading.
The present invention employs a light-weight corrugated crate-like carton made very economically from a generally rectangular blank that is cut and scored to provide flaps and fold lines. This crate-like carton is quite different in its structural formation from the wooden, wire, and plastic crates that have been used, and this new carton results in a better package as well as a more economical package.
Among the advantages achieved by this invention are the following:
1. The crate-like carton is stored as a flat blank before use; therefore, it takes up much less space in the packaging plant.
2. The carotn is so inexpensive that there is no reason for returning it; it is more economical to destroy it, thereby saving the cost of return and the costs of storage, as well as eliminating all the attendant fringe deficiencies of such return systems. Thus, there is no necessity for having storage space for empties, no need for maintaining inventory on the cartons once they have been used, and so on. 3. Since the carton is not returned, there is no necessity to maintain crate-cleaning machinery, and employees formerly engaged in crate cleaning and related operations are freed for other more remunerative functions.
4. The carton is so much lighter in weight than the crates it replaces that it enables a substantial increase in the distribution payload. It is much easier to handle and requires less labor in handling.
5. The carton protects the contents much better than did the crates, because it protects the contents aginst damage from all sides, as well as from top crushing, and the fit can readily be made quite snug, so that the packaged containers do not move around and damage each other.
6. The crate-like carton is unlike ordinary cardboard cartons, in that it does not need to be opened, nor do any of the flaps have to be unfastened, for the contents are accessible from the top without having to do this.
7. The carton, being made of corrugated paper board is made by standard and conventional corrugating machinery methods and materials, and it enables the use of automatic packaging machinery in the distributor's packaging plant.
8. It is possible to use one size of carton for a great many sizes of standard dairy containers, and it is also very simple to provide different sizes of cartons without having to make drastic changes in the manufacturing machinery for the carton. The packaging machinery may or may not have to be different, depending upon the particular packaging that is used, but in any instance it is relatively inexpensive and relatively quickly adaptable, as compared with what was required with former types of crates.
In one form of the invention, improved stacking strenth is obtained by a novel double-wall structure at each end of the carton, providing a diagonal line of abutment of the flaps that provide the outer lamination of the double wall. This diagonal line of abutment prevents the creasing or crushing that tends to take place, under load, between flaps that meet along a horizontal line or do not meet at all.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description of some preferred forms thereof:
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of a crate-like carton embodying the principles of the invention. It is shown empty, for a clearer showing of its construction, though in practice it is not usually assembled empty.
FIG. 2 is a top-plan view of the blank from which the carton of FIG. 1 is made.
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 1 of a modified form of crate-like carton also embodying the principles of the invention.
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 2 of a blank from which the crate of FIG. 3 is made.
FIG. 5 is a view in perspective of a partly assembled package, illustrating one method, embodying the invention, of packaging employing the crate-like carton of FIGS. 1-4.
FIG. 6 is a view in perspective of a subsequent stage in this same method.
FIG. 7 is a view in perspective of a completed package embodying the principles of this invention.
FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 1 of another modified form of crate-like carton, also embodying the principles of the invention.
FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 2 of the blank from which the crate-like carton of FIG. 8 is made.
In FIG. 1, a crate-like carton 10 is shown assembled but empty, for purposes of explanation, although the carton is seldom put together without contents. The carton 10 has a bottom wall 11, vertical side walls 12 and 13, and horizontal top walls 14 and 15. It also has a series of vertical flaps forming the end walls, namely, front and rear flaps 16 and 17, front and rear side flaps 18, 19, 20, and 21, and front and rear depending flaps 22, 23, 24, and 25, of which the flap 24 is not shown in FIG. 1. All of these portions, however, are indicated on the blank 30, shown in FIG. 2. As FIG. 2 shows, there are two lengthwise fold lines 26 and 27, which are parallel to lengthwise edges 28 and 29 of the blank 30. Also, as shown in FIG. 2, there are four widthwise fold lines 31, 32, 33, and 34, which are parallel to the widthwise edges 35 and 36 of the blank 30 and extend the full distance between the two lengthwise fold lines 26 and 27. Each widthwise fold line 31, 32, 33, 34 is succeeded in the space between the lengthwise fold line 26 or 27 and its adjacent lengthwise edge 28 or 29 by a cut directly in line with it, which serves to define the various flaps 16 through 25. Thus, as shown in FIG. 2, there are cuts 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, and 44.
It will be readily apparent that manufacture of this blank 30 is quite simple, once the dimensions are determined. The dimensions are quite important and will be dealt with in a moment, but first, it should be noted that all of the fold lines 26, 27, 31, 32, 33, and 34 are straight and that each of the cuts 37 through 44 is a straight cut made directly in line with one of the fold lines 31, 32, 33 or 34. Hence, the carton blank 30 can, if desired, be made on the machinery that manufactures the corrugated board, and may be made in a type of line manufacture in which, for example, either the lengthwise or widthwise fold lines may be continuous. It is considered better to make the lengthwise lines continuous and to apply the widthwise score lines and cuts at intervals by machinery provided with suitable cams to control spacing, while the machinery performs exactly the same operation at predetermined distances. However, if preferred, each blank 30 can also be made as a unit by a plurality of score and cut devices.
From what has been said already, it is apparent that the carton 10 can be made as a flat blank 30 and stored as a flat blank 30 at the manufacturing plant and also at the packaging plant, being set up only as needed, that is, as the units are packaged, and then by a well-known type of automatic machinery.
As to the critical dimensions, FIGS. 1 and 2 show that the vertical heights of the front and rear flaps 16 and 17 and of the depending flaps 22, 23, 24, 25 is such that the depending flaps 22, 23, 24, 25 and the front and rear flaps 16 and 17 do not overlap. They may meet, if that is desired in a certain structure (see FIGS. 8 and 9), but they should not overlap. The front and rear flaps 16 and 17 may be attached to the front and rear side flaps 18, 19 and 20, 21 by glue or other adhesive pre-applied or applied at the time of erection, or they may be attached by stapling or stitching, or by heat-sealing, if the flaps are coated with a heat-sealable material. In any event, the median vertical height of the front and rear flaps 16 and 17 is no greater than half that of the vertical height of the side walls 12 and 13 and therefore of the vertical side flaps 18, 19, and 20, 21, and it may be quite a bit less, if desired, depending on the containers to be packaged. Similarly, the depending flaps 22, 23, 24, 25 being exactly the same vertical height as the front and rear flaps 16, 17, also extend a median vertical distance no greater than half the vertical height of the side flaps 18, 19, 20, 21. When the flaps 16 and 17 and the flaps 22, 23, 24 and 25 are all rectangular, this median distance is identical to their full vertical height, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. However, these flaps may be bias-cut, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, the overall maximum heights may be greater than this, but the median height is no greater than half the height of the side walls. Further, the top flaps 22, 23, 24, 25 are no wider than the front and rear side flaps 18, 19, 20, 21, although they may be the same width, if desired (see FIG. 3) or may be much narrower, as shown in FIG. 1. The exact dimensions necessarily depend upon the containers being packaged, and the number and dimensions of the individual cartons is the determining factor.
Since the top walls 14 and 15 are the same width as the flaps 22, 23, 24 and 25, they also are no wider than the side flaps 18, 19, 20, 21, and in many instances are substantially narrower. In any event, there is a substantial gap between the two top walls 14 and 15, and this gap is preferably made wide enough to enable withdrawal of the contents therethrough. Thus, the containers to be packaged in the carton 10 are narrower than the gap between the walls 14 and 15, often substantially narrower. In fact, the purpose of the top walls 14 and 15 and their flaps 22, 23, 24, and 25 is to strengthen the carton and to improve its stacking strength, and substantial width in the walls 14 and 15 and flaps 22, 23, 24, and 25 is unnecessary. Usually it is desired that the top be mostly open, with just enough top-wall width to give the needed stacking strength. The idea is for the cartons 10 to rest on each other when stacked, not on the containers inside; the walls 14 and 15 support the carton above, with its contents, and they transmit the weight of what lies above to the walls 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21 and so on. Thus, the containers that are inside the carton 10 never have to support the weight of the carton and contents that are stacked on top of their carton 10.
It is also desirable to have one of the end walls and usually both of these sufficiently closed to prevent withdrawal of the contents therethrough. For this purpose, the gap between the end flaps 18 and 19 is made smaller than the width of the containers to be packed inside the carton 10. For example, milk bottles or cartons may not be taken out from between the flaps 18 and 19, though they can be taken out from above, between the top walls 14 and 15. The width of each flap 18 and 19 is substantially less than half of the width of the bottom wall 11, the actual dimension being determined mainly by the size of the containers to be packaged and somewhat by strength considerations. The rear wall may be completely closed, its flaps being made different in size, as by having the fold line 27 spaced a different distance from its edge 29 than is the fold line 26 from the edge 28; however, usually, as shown in the drawings herein, the flaps 18, 19 are exactly the same size as the flaps 20 and 21, and the gap between them is the same.
FIGS. 3 and 4 show a carton 110 and blank 130 in which the parts are given the smae numbers as the corresponding parts shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 except 100 higher. They illustrate an instance in which the side-depending flaps 122, 123, 124, 125, and the front and rear side flaps 118, 119, 120, 121 are the same width in the erected carton 110. This carton may be used for large containers with only two rows of containers in the carton. Other examples could be shown, but these suffice to give the principles involved. Once again the principles are the same in both of these crate-like cartons 10 and 110.
Another quite important modification is a crate-like carton 210, shown assembled but empty in FIG. 8, for purposes of explanation. Its blank 230 is shown in FIG. 9. The carton 210 has a bottom wall 211, vertical side walls 212 and 213, and horizontal top walls 214 and 215. It also has a series of vertical flaps forming the end walls, namely front and rear flaps 216 and 217, front and rear side flaps 218, 219, 220, and 221, and front and rear depending flaps 222, 223, 224, and 225, of which the flaps 223 and 224 are not shown in FIG. 8. All of these portions, however, are indicated on the blank 230, shown in FIG. 9. As FIG. 9 shows, there are two lengthwise fold lines 226 and 227, which are parallel to lengthwise edges 228 and 229 of the blank 230. Also, as shown in FIG. 9, there are four widthwise fold lines 231, 232, 233, and 234, which are parallel to the widthwise edges 235 and 236 of the blank 230 and extend the full distance between the two lengthwise fold lines 226 and 227. Each widthwise fold line 231, 232, 233, 234 is succeeded in the space between the lengthwise fold line 226 or 227 and its adjacent lengthwise edge 228 or 229 by a cut directly in line with it which serves to define the various flaps 216 through 225. Thus, as shown in FIG. 2, there are cuts 237, 238, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244.
The difference between the blank 230 and the blank 30 -- and hence between the carton 10 and the carton 210 -- lies in matching angular cuts on the flaps. Thus, the bottom flap 216 has angular cuts 250 and 251, which exactly match an angular cut 252 on the flap 222 and a cut 253 on the flap 223. Similarly, the flaps 224 and 225 have angular cuts 254 and 255 that exactly match cuts 256 and 257 on the flap 217. Moreover, the flaps 222, 223, 224, and 225 are so proportioned relatively to the flaps 216 and 217 and both are so proportioned relatively to the flaps 218, 219, 220, and 221 that the edges 250 and 252 exactly meet in the completed carton 210, as do the edges 251 and 253. The same applies to the edges 254 and 256 and to the edges 255 and 257.
Thus, the end walls comprise a double wall over a substantial portion of their area, for the flaps 216, 222, and 223 overlie the flaps 218 and 219 over a substantial area; and the flaps 217, 224, and 225 similarly overlie the flaps 220 and 221 over a substantial area. Moreover, vertical pressure can be counteracted by the vertical flutes of the corrugation, if the blank 230 is so cut, and by the meeting or abutment of the edges 250, 251, 256 and 257, respectively, with the edges 252, 253, 254, and 255. A significant point here is the diagonal nature of their abutment -- which may be 30° for economy's sake or may be 45° or 60° or some intermediate amount. It may even be somewhat smaller than 30° but not less than about 15° to achieve the desired result. For the point is that by meeting at an angle, a horizontal bending or creasing of the flutes is avoided, and to achieve a diagonal creasing would require a much larger vertical force than would be required for a horizontal crease or bend. This structure thus affords maximum strength to resist the forces encountered in vertical stacking, within the limits of the general structure.
Note that the median height of the flaps 216 and 217 is the height half way along the angular cut 250 or 251 or 256 or 257. This median height is exaclty half the height of the side walls 212 and 213, and the median height of the flaps 222, 223, 224, and 225 is also exactly half the height of the side walls 212 and 213.
Various methods of packaging can employ the cartons or crates of this invention. For example, with all of the walls in place and glued, stitched, or stapled, except the top-wall portions 14, 15, and their depending flaps 22, 23, 24, 25, these being kept vertical for the time, the containers may be placed into the crate-like carton from above. Once they are in place, the top-wall portions 14 and 15 and the depending flaps 22, 23, 24, and 25 are then secured in place. This is an economical and perfectly usable method, and it may be done with the carton 10 resting on its side, if that is advantageous.
However, FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate another method, which in many instances is preferable. In this method, the side wall 13 on one side only is erected, and one side flap 20 may be also erected in its final position, or a barrier may be placed at that rear end, occupying about the position that the rear flap 17 will ultimately take. The top-wall portion 15 and its depending flaps 22 and 24 and the side flap 18 (and possibly the side flap 20) remain vertical at this stage. At this stage, the other side wall 12 may be at a suitable angle, as shown, to avoid consuming the space it would take if it were horizontal, but it should not yet be vertical. The front flap 16 should be held horizontal, and the containers 50 to be put in may then be slid horizontally over the flap 16 and into place, or they may be placed in from above.
After the carton 10 has been filled, in either instance, the flaps 18 and 19 are brought in to their position perpendicular to their walls 12 and 13, and so are the flaps 20 and 21, if not so brought in earlier. Then the side wall 12 is erected, as shown in FIG. 6, and the containers 50 are squeezed between the walls 12 and 13.
Finally, as shown in FIG. 7, the front and rear flaps 16 and 17 are brought up to their vertical position and are glued, stitched, stapled, or heat sealed to the front and rear side flaps 18, 19, 20 and 21, squeezing the containers from each end toward the center. Simultaneously, the top walls 14 and 15 are folded down, and their depending flaps 22, 23, 24, and 25 are folded down and are stitched, glued, stapled, or heat sealed to the front and rear side flaps 18, 19, 20 and 21.
The resulting package 60 (FIG. 7) is an interesting one for it has several unique characteristics. For one thing, it is already "open" in one sense, -- in that no one need destroy the crate or even open any of the flaps in order to gain access to any of the containers 50. However, if opening the flaps is desired, that can readily be done without any special machinery. In the instance shown in FIG. 7, where there are sixteen quart-size milk cartons 50, they can all be removed without having to open the carton 10 further. Thus, the containers 50 from the two middle rows can be removed from above; after removal of the more central containers 50, the other rows are then accessible and the containers 50 in the side rows can be removed from above. This has many advantages, especially in stores where the packages 60 can be kept intact up to the time when they are needed. By using suitable waterproofed corrugated board (as is always preferred for dairy products), the packages 60 may be put directly in refrigerators in this manner.
Another important characteristic of the package 60 is that the containers, in this case the milk cartons 50 inside the crate 10, do not bear any vertical stacking pressure, because the bottom wall 11 of each upper carton 10 rests on the two short top walls 14, 15 of a lower carton 10, and these walls 14 and 15 transmit the force to the vertical walls without bearing at all against the gabled tops of the containers 50. This, of course, is extremely desirable in enabling efficient stacking without damage to the containers 50.
However, although the containers 50 themselves do not bear any of the weight, they nevertheless serve a very important function when the load from upper containers is transmitted to lower containers in the stack, the containers 50 keeping the vertical walls of the carton in place vertically. By "keeping the vertical walls of the carton in place vertically" is meant that the vertical walls are retained in their true vertical position, instead of being bowed out or in; therefore, the containers 50 act to increase the srength of the carton walls and enable the transmission of load without destruction of or damage to the crate-like carton 10.
The snugness of the fit between the containers 50 (or at least half of the vertical height of their walls) and the carton walls 12, 13 and flaps 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 is important in increasing the stacking strength of the package. For example, where the containers 50 are gable-top milk cartons, filled with milk, this snugness takes the bulge out of the containers 50, raising the level of the milk up into the gable. The area of the inside of the assembled carton 10 with the containers 50 inside is smaller than the area which the containers 50 occupy when they are in their free state touching each other. The squeezing-in action of the walls 12 and 13 toward each other and of the flaps 16 and 17 toward each other reduces the area occupied by the containers, and in effect adds to the wall strength of the carton 10 by so doing. It is even better than adding another lamination to the blank.
The assembled carton 10 thus protects the contents of the carton 10, while still enabling the containers 50 to be removed without destroying the carton 10 or having to pull apart any of the flaps. Also, it enables price marking at the retail level without having to unfasten the flaps.
This same structure enables the multiple tiering of small milk cartons such as pint-size or half-pints and the packaging of cottage cheese and other such products in several tiers. No extra partitions or extra protective or strengthening members need be added during the packaging of these multi-tiered cartons. It also becomes possible to make a single size of crate-like carton that will accommodate all presently used sizes of liquid dairy products.
Another unique feature of the package is that it can withstand travel, while still providing full and complete air circulation through it, without having to provide special holes or special apertures.
The flutes of the corrugations may run in either vertical or horizontal position, depending upon the weight of paper board used, the weight of the contents to be packed, and whether bulging is a factor that need be considered.
The carton 10 is strong because of its unique construction, which enables openness but still provides the rigidity needed to prevent damage from the contents and to provide shielding, by the side and front walls, of the contents, while also giving some protection from above, -- more than has been given in conventional crates made of wood, wire, or plastic.
To those skilled in the art to which this invention relates, many changes in construction and widely differing embodiments and applications of the invention will suggest themselves without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The disclosures and the description herein are purely illustrative and are not intended to be in any sense limiting.