Title:
Shipping and display package for electronic equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A packaging assembly for articles of electronic equipment includes at least one cushion fabricated from a cushioning material. The at least one cushion is secured to the article of electronic equipment to be packaged. A transparent elastic cover layer substantially completely encloses the article and the at least one cushion. When the article is packaged in the transparent elastic cover layer with the cushion in place, the transparent elastic cover layer composes the outermost layer of packaging for the article, and a major portion of the article remains visible. In an embodiment, the at least one cushion is provided as four cushions fitted onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged, and a bottom tray fitted onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged. The cushions and the bottom tray can be fabricated from expanded polypropylene. The transparent elastic cover layer can be provided as a shrink-wrap material, such as PVC film. A method for packaging articles of electronic equipment is also described.



Inventors:
Tornga, Steven C. (Boise, ID, US)
Hoffnung, Amanda (Boise, ID, US)
Application Number:
09/873073
Publication Date:
12/05/2002
Filing Date:
06/01/2001
Assignee:
TORNGA STEVEN C.
HOFFNUNG AMANDA
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D5/42; B65D77/00; B65D81/05; B65D85/68; (IPC1-7): B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Intellectual Property Administration,HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY (P.O. Box 272400, Fort Collins, CO, 80527-2400, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A packaging assembly for articles of electronic equipment comprising the following: at least one cushion fabricated from a cushioning material and secured to the article of electronic equipment; and a transparent elastic cover layer substantially completely enclosing the article and the at least one cushion, the transparent elastic cover layer forming the outermost layer of packaging for the article, with a major portion of the article remaining visible when the article is packaged in the transparent elastic cover layer with the cushion in place.

2. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 1, wherein the at least one cushion comprises at least two cushions fitted onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged.

3. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 2, wherein the at least one cushion further comprises a bottom tray fitted onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged.

4. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 3, wherein the cushions fitted onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged and the bottom tray are fabricated from expanded polypropylene.

5. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 1, wherein the transparent elastic cover layer comprises a shrink-wrap material.

6. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 5, wherein the transparent elastic cover layer comprises a PVC film.

7. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 1, wherein the at least one cushion comprises at least two cushions fitted onto respective upper and lower surfaces of the article to be packaged.

8. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 7, wherein the at least two cushions comprise a top tray fitted onto an upper surface of the article to be packaged, and a bottom tray fitted onto a lower surface of the article to be packaged.

9. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 1, wherein the at least one cushion comprises an overwrap fitted over the outer surface of the article to be packaged.

10. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 9, wherein the overwrap includes a plurality of windows providing visual access to the article to be packaged.

11. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 10, wherein the overwrap is fabricated from corrugated fiberboard.

12. An article packaging assembly comprising the following: at least one cushion fabricated from a cushioning material and secured to the article to be packaged; and a transparent elastic cover layer substantially completely enclosing the article and the at least one cushion, the transparent elastic cover layer forming the outermost layer of packaging for the article.

13. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 12, wherein the at least one cushion further comprises a bottom tray fitted onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged.

14. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 13, further comprising at least one cushion fitted onto a top surface of the article to be packaged.

15. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 14, wherein the at least one cushion fitted onto a top surface of the article to be packaged comprises at least two corner cushions fitted onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged.

16. A packaging assembly in accordance with claim 13, wherein the at least one cushion further comprises a top tray fitted onto an upper surface of the article to be packaged.

17. A method for packaging articles of electronic equipment, the method comprising the following steps: securing at least one cushion, fabricated from a cushioning material, to the article of electronic equipment; and substantially completely enclosing the article and the at least one cushion with a transparent elastic cover layer such that the transparent elastic cover layer composes the outermost layer of packaging for the article, and a major portion of the article remains visible when the article is packaged in the transparent elastic cover layer with the cushion in place.

18. A method in accordance with claim 17, wherein the step of securing at least one cushion comprises the following: securing cushions onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged; and securing a bottom tray onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged.

19. A method in accordance with claim 18, wherein the steps of securing cushion onto respective corners of the article to be packaged and securing a bottom tray onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged comprise securing securing expanded polpropylene cushions onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged and securing an expanded polypropylene bottom tray onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged.

20. A method in accordance with claim 17, wherein the step of substantially completely enclosing the article and the at least one cushion comprises substantially completely enclosing the article and the at least one cushion with a shrinkable PVC film.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates generally to electronic equipment packaging. Specifically, the invention relates to packaging systems for electronic equipment that provide adequate protection and point-of-sale visibility.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Imaging systems such a sprinters, fax machines, and copiers are virtually omnipresent, and can be found in homes and offices worldwide. The development of such systems has facilitated improvements in communications that have in turn fostered a sea change in the ways that people live and work. Telecommuting, “virtual” offices, and intra-office networks represent but a few examples of the advancements that have been made possible by modern imaging systems.

[0003] The wide distribution of relatively sensitive electronic components has spawned the development of packaging adequate to protect the systems during transportation and storage. It is known, for example, to provide packaging including plastic foam cushions surrounding portions of the component, surrounded by a rigid container such as a corrugated fiberboard box. The foam cushions are typically located at known potential stress points, such as the corners of the device.

[0004] These arrangements present several disadvantages. For example, known packaging, largely due to the fiberboard outer shell, is relatively bulky, unattractive, and expensive. Further, since the outer packaging is opaque, consumers, transporters, and stock handlers must rely upon labeling to identify the contents of the package. This means that product intended for distribution over a wide geographical area must often be labeled in several languages. Finally, paperboard packaging is vulnerable to damage from exposure to moisture that, although it may not affect the packaged article, renders the item unsalable due to the appearance of the package exterior.

[0005] The use of shrink-wrap plastics is known per se in the packaging arts. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,473 to Belshe' is directed to a method for packaging an article and the packaging assembly produced by the method. The packaging assembly uses wrapping films such as stretch wrap film to secure an article onto a cradle or carton insert contained within a shipping container. By binding the article to the insert in this manner, the article is protected from damage during shipping and the insert facilitates removal of the article from the shipping container. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a method for packaging an article comprises: providing a cradle having a floor panel and a first pair of parallel opposed side panels extending from the floor panel, the floor panel including an interior surface and an exterior surface; placing an article on the interior surface of the floor panel between the first opposed side panels; binding the article to the cradle by wrapping a film material about the article and the cradle so as to bind the article to the cradle; and inserting the cradle into a container.

[0006] Although the Belshe' arrangement offers some advantages over standard packaging, it still fails to address problems such as visual access to the packaged product. It can be seen from the foregoing that the need exists for a simple, inexpensive packaging system for electronic equipment that provides adequate protection and product visibility while overcoming the deficiencies of known arrangements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] A packaging assembly for articles of electronic equipment includes at least one cushion fabricated from a cushioning material. The at least one cushion is secured to the article of electronic equipment to be packaged. A transparent elastic cover layer substantially completely encloses the article and the at least one cushion. When the article is packaged in the transparent elastic cover layer with the cushion in place, the transparent elastic cover layer composes the outermost layer of packaging for the article, and a major portion of the article remains visible.

[0008] In an embodiment, the at least one cushion is provided as four cushions fitted onto respective upper corners of the article to be packaged, and a bottom tray fitted onto a bottom surface of the article to be packaged. The cushions and the bottom tray can be fabricated from expanded polypropylene. The transparent elastic cover layer can be provided as a shrink-wrap material, such as PVC film. A method for packaging articles of electronic equipment is also described.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of an imaging system.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of the FIG. 1 imaging system, packaged in a packaging assembly incorporating the principles of the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a schematic perspective view of the FIG. 1 imaging system, packaged in another embodiment of a packaging assembly incorporating the principles of the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective view of the FIG. 1 imaging system, packaged in yet another embodiment of a packaging assembly incorporating the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0013] FIG. 1 illustrates an imaging system 10 in suitable for packaging with a packaging assembly in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The imaging system 10 is herein illustrated as a printer 12 including an output tray 14, an imaging media input section 16, and an access door 18. While devices such as the printer 12 are more than adequately durable when deployed in their intended use environments, they are not designed to withstand the dangers inherent during shipping or movement in warehouses or stockrooms. Consequently, some form of packaging must be provided to afford protection in these situations.

[0014] A packaging assembly 20 in accordance with the principles of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. The packaging assembly 20 includes at least one cushion, here shown as a plurality of corner cushions 22, 24, 26, and 28 fitted onto respective upper corners of the printer 12. The cushions can also include a bottom tray 30 secured to a bottom surface of the printer 12. The cushions can be fabricated from a suitable shock-absorbing, shape-retaining material. Examples of suitable materials include, but are not limited to, thermoplastics materials, particularly expanded thermoplastic materials such as expanded polypropylene. Such materials are inexpensive, lightweight, readily available, and easily recyclable. As is known to those of skill in the art, the corner cushions 22-28 and the bottom tray 30 are provided with contoured surfaces in order to fit securely onto the printer 12 without the use of adhesives.

[0015] A transparent elastic cover layer 32 substantially completely encloses the printer 12, the corner cushions 22-28, and the bottom tray 30. The transparent elastic cover layer 32 can be provided as a suitable adhering, durable, moisture-resistant material. It has been found that “shrink-wrap” material, such as PVC film, is particularly advantageous. One example of such a film is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,247,663 to Yoshiga et al., the specification and claims of which are incorporated by reference herein.

[0016] An alternative embodiment of a packaging assembly 34 in accordance with the principles of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 3. The packaging assembly 34 includes at least one cushion, here shown as atop tray 36 fitted over the upper surface of the printer 12. The cushions can also include a bottom tray 38 secured to a bottom surface of the printer 12. The cushions can be fabricated from a suitable shock-absorbing, shape-retaining material, as described earlier. As is known to those of skill in the art, the top tray 36 and the bottom tray 38 are provided with contoured surfaces in order to fit securely onto the printer 12 without the use of adhesives.

[0017] A transparent elastic cover layer 40 substantially completely encloses the printer 12, the top tray 36, and the bottom tray 38. The transparent elastic cover layer 40 can be provided as a suitable adhering, durable, moisture-resistant material, as described with reference to the FIG. 2 embodiment.

[0018] Another alternative embodiment of a packaging assembly 42 in accordance with the principles of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 4. The packaging assembly 42 includes at least one cushion, here shown as a corrugated fiberboard overwrap 44 fitted over the outer surface of the printer 12. The overwrap 44 is provided with a plurality of windows 46, which provide visual access to the printer 12. As is known to those of skill in the art, the overwrap 44 is provided with contoured inner surfaces in order to fit securely onto the printer 12 without the use of adhesives.

[0019] A transparent elastic cover layer 48 substantially completely encloses the printer 12 and the overwrap 44. The transparent elastic cover layer 40 can be provided as a suitable adhering, durable, moisture-resistant material, as described with reference to the FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 embodiments.

[0020] In operation, the printer 12 is first placed in the cushioning structure, for example, in accordance with the embodiments shown in FIGS. 2-4. With the cushion structure in place on the printer 12, transparent elastic material is then wrapped to substantially completely enclosing the entire assembly, forming the transparent elastic cover layer. The transparent elastic cover layer composes the outermost layer of packaging for the printer 12, and a major portion of the printer 12 remains visible. This eliminates the need for an outer enclosure such as a box while retaining adequate protection for the printer 12, and allows consumers and other observers to visually identify the packaged product without relying on labeling or graphics.

[0021] Although the present invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, those of skill in the art will recognize that changes may be made thereto without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as defined by the appended claims.