Title:
Nestable pails with nesting alignment means
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides like pails with like means for aligning the pails in a stack of nested pails so that their handles are aligned with one another. The aligning means comprises a peripheral flange projecting outwardly from the side wall of each pail, a radial slot in that peripheral flange displaced circumferentially from the pivot points of the pail's handle, and a depending tab projecting from that side wall. The slot and tab are aligned but displaced vertically from one another. When the pails are stacked in nested relation with the depending tab on one pail received by the radial slot in the next lower pail in the stack, the handles of the stacked pails will be aligned with one another.



Inventors:
Diamond, David W. (Dudley, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/151632
Publication Date:
12/14/2006
Filing Date:
06/13/2005
Assignee:
Plastican, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GROSSO, HARRY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BURNS & LEVINSON, LLP (125 HIGH STREET, BOSTON, MA, 02110, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A plurality of pails each comprising a nestable container with a handle pivotally attached to said container at two points, each container comprising a side wall, means including a radially-extending slot projecting outwardly from said side wall, said slot being spaced circumferentially from said two points, and a depending tab attached to and spaced from said side wall, said tab being spaced circumferentially from said two points and aligned with but spaced vertically from said radial slot so that when said pails are stacked with their containers nested inside one another, said depending tab on one container will be received by the radial slot in the next lower container in the stack, whereby the handles of the stacked pails will be aligned with one another.

2. A plurality of pails according to claim 1 wherein each container comprises a peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall, and further wherein said depending tab is formed integral with said peripheral flange.

3. A plurality of pails according to claim 1 wherein said means including a radially-extending slot comprises a peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall.

4. A plurality of pails according to claim 3 wherein said peripheral flange has an outer edge and said slot intersects said outer edge.

5. A plurality of pails according to claim 1 wherein said container has a top end and a bottom end and said means including a radially-extending slot comprises a first peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall, and further wherein said tab is formed integral with a second peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall, said first peripheral flange being located between said top end and said second peripheral flange.

6. A plurality of pails according to claim 1 wherein said tab has a top end and a bottom end, and further wherein said tab is tapered so that its said bottom end is narrower than its said top end.

7. A plurality of pails according to claim 1 wherein said containers are made of a resilient plastic.

8. A pail comprising a container and a handle pivotally attached to said container at two points, each container comprising a side wall, at least one peripheral flange projecting outwardly from its side wall, a radially-extending slot in said peripheral flange spaced circumferentially from said two points, and a depending tab attached to and spaced from said side wall, said tab being spaced circumferentially from said two points and aligned with but spaced vertically from said radial slot so that when a plurality of said pails are stacked with their containers nested inside one another, said depending tab on one container will be received by the radial slot in the next lower container in the stack, whereby the handles of the stacked pails will be aligned with one another.

9. A pail according to claim 8 wherein said container comprises a second peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall, and further wherein said depending tab is formed integral with said second peripheral flange.

10. A pail according to claim 9 wherein said container has a top end and a bottom end, and said second peripheral flange is located between said bottom end and said first-mentioned peripheral flange.

11. A pail according to claim 8 wherein said tab has a top end and a bottom end, and further wherein said tab is tapered so that its said bottom end is narrower than its said top end.

12. A pail according to claim 8 wherein said flange has an outer edge and said radially-extending slot intersects said outer edge.

13. A pail according to claim 8 wherein said container has a top end and a bottom end, and said side wall is tapered with its bottom end having a smaller diameter than its top end.

14. A plurality of pails each comprising a nestable container, each container comprising a side wall, first and second mutually spaced handle pivot anchors formed integrally with and projecting outwardly of said side wall, said first and second handle pivot anchors being adapted to pivotally receive and hold the opposite ends of a handle, at least one peripheral flange projecting outwardly from said side wall, a slot in said peripheral flange spaced circumferentially from said handle pivot anchors, and a depending tab attached to and spaced outwardly from said side wall, said tab being spaced circumferentially from said first and second handle pivot anchors and aligned with but spaced vertically from said slot so that when said pails are stacked with their containers nested inside one another, said depending tab on one container will be received by the slot in the next lower container in the stack, whereby the handle pivot anchors of the stacked pails will be aligned in a common vertically-extending plane.

15. A plurality of pails according to claim 14 wherein each container has a bottom end and a top end, and further wherein each container has a second peripheral flange extending outwardly from said side wall, said second peripheral flange being located between first mentioned peripheral flange and said bottom end of said container and said tab being formed integral with said second flange.

16. A plurality of pails according to claim 14 wherein said first and second pivot anchors are spaced from one another by an angle of 180°.

17. A plurality of pails according to claim 13 wherein each pail comprises a handle pivotally attached to said first and second handle pivot anchors.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to pails and more particularly to means for uniformly orienting pails when nested in one another to form a stack.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Nestable containers are manufactured in a variety of forms for use in holding liquid and particulate materials. As a rule they have a frusto-conical shape, i.e., they have tapered side walls which may be flat or stepped. Making containers nestable so that they can be assembled in a stack reduces the amount of space required to accommodate them. This is advantageous in terms of reducing warehousing space costs. It also reduces shipping costs due the minimizing freight vehicle space requirements.

However, nested containers must be denested before being used or before being supplied to a station for filling with a liquid or particulate commodity, e.g., an asphalt composition for coating driveways, swimming pool chemical, fertilizer, detergent, or a foodstuff such as jam, peanut butter, margarine, etc. In many industries, the denesting operation is conducted automatically by machinery that is designed to denest containers one by one and present them to a conveying means for delivery to filling and capping equipment. A variety of such denesting equipment is exemplified by the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,764,273, issued Jul. 20, 2004 to K. Freudelsperger; 4,983,098, issued Jan. 8, 1991 to R. A. Heisler; 4,157,767, issued Jun. 12, 1979 to G. T. Schjedahl; 4,082,203, issued Apr. 4, 1978 to G. T. Schjedahl; and 3,795,346, issued Mar. 5, 1974 to T. V. Roberts et al.

A problem has existed with respect to denesting pails. As used herein the term “pail” means and denotes a nestable container having a pivotally mounted arched handle (usually called a “bail”). Although denesting equipment for pails is known (see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,157,767 and 4,082,203, cited above), a problem has been encountered with denesting equipment in the case where the nested containers are not uniformly oriented in the stack that is to be denested, with the result that the handles of the nested containers are not aligned with one another. This non-alignment has tended to cause the denesting equipment to jam, misfeed or damage the containers. Damage to the non-aligned containers is particularly likely where the containers are made of a plastic material such as polyethylene.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of this invention is to provide a means for aligning the pails in a stack of nested pails so that their handles are aligned with one another, whereby to facilitate automatic denesting of the pails by operation of denesting apparatus.

Another object is to provide a means for interlocking a plurality of pails in a nested stack so that their handles are aligned with one another.

A further object is to provide a means for aligning a group of pails in a nested stack so that their handles are all aligned with one another, such means being characterized in that they place no substantial limitation on the size or ornamental design of the pails.

These and other objects are achieved by providing pails each having at least one peripheral flange projecting outwardly from its side wall, a radial slot in the peripheral flange displaced circumferentially from the pivot points of the pail handle, and a depending tab formed integral with and projecting from the side wall, with the tab being aligned with but displaced vertically from the radial slot so that when said pails are stacked the depending tab on one pail will be received by the radial slot in the next lower pail in the stack, whereby the handles of the stacked pails will be aligned with one another.

Other objects, features and advantages of the invention are set forth in or rendered obvious by the following detailed description of the invention which is to be considered together with the accompany drawings.

THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a pail embodying the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation of the same pail (with handle omitted) rotated 90° from the viewpoint of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is fragmentary sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is fragmentary sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is side elevation showing a pair or pails in nested relation.

FIG. 6 is fragmentary sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is side elevation of a pair of nested pails taken from the viewpoint of FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning to FIGS. 1-4, there is shown a container 2 comprising a side wall 4 and a bottom wall 6. The side wall 4 is tapered inwardly from top to bottom as shown. By way of example but not limitation, side wall 4 may have a draft angle of about 4°. The top end of the container is open but the top end is provided with a peripheral circumferentially-extending bead or ridge 10. The latter serves to resist distortion of the top end of the pail and also is intended to serve as a locking element for a cover (not shown) for the container. The container also has three additional outwardly-projecting peripheral flanges 12, 14 and 16 disposed in the order named below locking bead 10. At least flanges 12 and 16 project radially beyond the periphery of bead 10. Preferably flange 14 also projects beyond the periphery of bead 10. Flanges 12, 14 and 16 serve to offer resistance to buckling of the side wall and also serve an aesthetic purpose. Formed integral with and projecting from the bottommost flange 16 and the adjacent side wall 4 are a plurality of narrow vertically-extending, circumferentially-spaced fins 18 that serve as spacer elements as hereinafter described.

Since the container is designed to be used as a pail, it is provided with two pivot anchors 20 for pivotally securing a handle 22. The two pivot anchors are diametrically opposed to one another. In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, each pivot anchor 20 comprises a pair of parallel mutually-spaced struts 24A and 24B and a short auxiliary side wall 26 that extends between those struts parallel to and spaced from container side wall 4. Struts 24A and 24b and side wall 26 extend between and are formed integral with flanges 14 and 16. Struts 24A and 24B also are formed integral with container side wall 4 and flange 16 is recessed between struts 24A and 24B. As a result each pair of struts 24A and 24B and the connecting side wall 26 define a pocket open at its lower end that accommodates the bent end 28 of the U-shaped portion of handle 22 Additionally each side wall 26 is formed with a hole 30 (FIGS. 2 and 4) that serves as a pass-through for the bent end of handle 22. Holes 30 are sized to allow the handle to pivot relative to the two pivot anchors. Alternatively, holes 30 could be replaced with a keyhole-shaped slot as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,291, issued Aug. 14, 2001 to Rino Conti.

Turning now to FIGS. 1-3, formed integral with the bottommost flange 16 is a depending tab 34 that is spaced from the side wall 4 of the container and preferably, as shown in FIG. 3, the tab extends vertically parallel to the center axis of the container. Additionally, the tab is displaced angularly from the two handle pivot anchors 20. Preferably, but not necessarily, the tab is located midway between the two both pivot anchors 20 as shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the tab could be located closer to one than the other of the two anchor means. Preferably the tab is in line with one of the spacer fins 18. Alternatively the tab may be located so that it is not aligned with a spacer fin 18, in which case the portion of flange 16 where the tab is located is molded with an increased thickness (FIG. 6) to provide additional strength for the tab.

The container also is formed with a slot 36 in the first or top flange 12. Slot 36 is located in vertical alignment with the tab and has a width (the horizontal dimension as viewed in FIG. 1) that is sized so as to accommodate the lower end of the tab 34 of another like container. Preferably, but not necessarily, the tab is tapered, having a smaller width at its bottom than it has at its top end. The length of the tab is such as to be able to penetrate the slot 36 of another like container where the two containers are nested one inside the other. The width of the slot (the horizontal dimension as viewed in FIG. 1) is large enough to readily accommodate tab 34 but not so great as to assure proper alignment of the containers as herein contemplated. By way of example but not limitation, for a 5 gallon pail having a maximum diameter of about 11.8 inches at it top end, the width of slot 36 may be about 0.63 inch and the width of tab 34 will vary from a maximum with of about 0.41 inch at its fixed top end to a minimum width of about 0.19 inch at its free bottom end.

A number of containers 2 may be stacked in nesting relation one on top of the other in the manner illustrated in FIGS. 5-7. Although these figures show only two nested containers 2A and 2B, it is to be understood that a larger number of containers may be nested together in the same manner to form a relatively tall stack. As seen in FIGS. 5-7, upper container 2A is supported by virtue of its spacer fins 18 engaging the locking bead 10 of lower container 2B, with the spacer fins assuring that the bottom wall 6A of the upper container is spaced from the bottom wall 6B of the lower container. In this nested position the tab 34 of upper container 2A penetrates and extends through the slot 36 in flange 12 of the lower container, preferably protruding about ⅛th inch below that flange 12. Addition or more like containers to form a relatively tall stack of nested containers is accomplished by orienting each additional container so that its tab 34 is aligned with the slot 36 of the next lower container. As result and with reference to FIG. 7, the pivot anchors 20 of the several nested containers will be aligned in a common vertical plane, thereby making it possible for the handles 22 of the nested containers to hang down on the same the side. The handles may hang down on the side of the containers opposite from the location of tabs 34 (as shown in FIG. 7) or they may be flipped over so as to hang down on the same side as the tabs 34 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5). It is to be understood also that, depending on the particular apparatus used to denest the containers for filling, the containers may be aligned and stacked with some of the handles hanging down on one side and the remaining handles hang down on the other side of the stack. If desired the handles may be configured so that when they are hanging down their grip portions 40 do not touch the side wall of a container. A further possible modification is to modify the spacer fins 18 to change the spacing between flange 16 of one container and the locking bead of the next lower container in a nested stack.

The invention has a number of advantages. For one thing the invention can be embodied in containers of different sizes and aesthetic designs. For another thing, the alignment tabs 34 and slots 36 do not unduly complicate the injection molding process. Most importantly, a stack of nested containers with their handle pivot anchors in mutual alignment as herein described and illustrated can be accommodated by de-nesting equipment without fear that a handle will be so misaligned as to cause malfunctioning of the de-nesting equipment or possible damage to the misaligned container. By way of example, the denesting equipment may be like the one shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,082,203 (cited supra) where tine elements are used to elevate handles 22 in the denesting operation or like the one shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,983,098 (also cited supra) where lug members engage protruding portions of the containers, e.g., the flanges 12 or 16, to effect separation. In this connection and with reference to FIG. 2, it is contemplated that the containers 22 may be formed without the two spacer lugs 18A and 18B located immediately below the two handle pivot anchors in the case where the denesting equipment is designed to engage the underside of flange 16 to effect separation of nested containers.

The invention may be practiced other than as described above and illustrated in the drawings. Thus, for example, the intermediate flange 14 could be eliminated. Alternatively the flange 12 could be eliminated and the slot 36 formed in flange 14. The latter modification may require varying the spacing between flanges 14 and 16 in order to assure that the tab 34 on one container will penetrate the slot 36 in the next lower container. It also is contemplated that each container may have more reinforcing flanges than the three flanges 12, 14 and 16, but in each case the slot will be in the uppermost reinforcing flange. It is also contemplated that the slot 36 may be formed in a radially-extending projection that is formed integral with side wall 4 but extends around the periphery of the container through an angle less than 360°. Another possible modification is to form the tab 34 as a separate member attached to and projecting from the side wall of the container instead of molding it as an extension of a circumferentially-extending flange, e.g., flange 16. Also the container may be formed with more than one aligning tab, with a slot 36 being provided for each tab.

Still other advantages and modifications of the invention will be obvious to persons skilled in the art.