Title:
Carton with opening access feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carton for packaging a plurality of articles includes top and bottom panels interconnected by a pair of opposed side walls to form a generally tubular structure. An end wall is provided at each end of the tubular structure to at least partially close each end. An access opening includes a first detachable portion extending across a part of the top panel and at least a part of one of the opposed side walls. A second detachable portion is disposed adjacent to the first detachable portion and extends across a further part of the top panel and into a part of one of the end walls, whereby removal of the first detachable portion and the second detachable portion defines an access opening formed from portions of the top panel, the one opposed side wall, and the one end wall. A third portion may be provided extending across a further portion of the top panel and into the other of the end walls.



Inventors:
Schemmel, Garrett Konrad (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/536609
Publication Date:
04/26/2007
Filing Date:
09/28/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/117.13
International Classes:
B65D17/00; B65D5/46
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030006273Interlocking storage cartonJanuary, 2003Tsern et al.
20060255107Reclosable cartonNovember, 2006Wright
20090072016Lattice compartmental insertMarch, 2009Molle
20100044418Layered-construction Document Storage SystemFebruary, 2010Christensen
20090095802Container Blank for a Storage ContainerApril, 2009Kibbe
200501735012 and one, inc.August, 2005Jones
20060032897Anti-squirt vent hole for a beverage packageFebruary, 2006Cho
20060108403Expanding file holder having a windowMay, 2006Ho
20060144909Container with hollow bottomJuly, 2006Kohlweyer



Primary Examiner:
ELKINS, GARY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTROCK COMPANY (ATTN: IP Law Group - Patents 501 South 5th Street, 3rd Floor, Richmond, VA, 23219-0501, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carton for packaging a plurality of articles, comprising: top and bottom panels interconnected by a pair of opposed side walls to form a generally tubular structure; an end wall at each end of the tubular structure to at least partially close said each end; means for providing access to the articles, comprising a first detachable portion extending across said top panel and at least partially into at least one of said opposed side walls, and a second detachable portion disposed adjacent to said first detachable portion and extending across at least a portion of one of said end walls, whereby removal of said first detachable portion and said second detachable portion defines an access opening formed from portions of said top panel, said one opposed side wall, and said end wall.

2. A carton as claimed in claim 1, wherein said access means further comprises a third detachable portion disposed adjacent to said first detachable portion and extending across at least a portion of the other of said end walls wherein said access opening is further formed from a portion of said other end wall.

3. A carton as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first detachable portion extends across said top panel at a location remote from said one end wall, and wherein said second detachable portion extends across a portion of said top panel adjacent said first detachable portion.

4. A carton as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first detachable portion further extends at least partially into at the other of said end walls, whereby removal of said first detachable portion and said second detachable portion defines an access opening formed from the entire of said top panel, and portions of at least one side wall, and portions of both said end walls.

5. The carton of claim 1, wherein the first and second detachable portions are defined at least in part by a common tear or severance line that is formed at least in part in the top panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of provisional application Ser. No. 60/721,772, filed on Sep. 28, 2005, and provisional application Ser. No. 60/737,134, filed on Nov. 16, 2005.

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to cartons and more particularly to a carton for multiple articles having an opening feature for facilitating removal of individual articles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cartons for encasing multiple articles are useful for enabling consumers to obtain and transport a desired quantity of individual articles such as bottles or cans of beer or other beverages. Once such a multiple-pack of articles is obtained and transported to, e.g., the consumer's home, the consumer then desires to remove the articles from the carton. The articles may be completely removed at one time, or may be removed in small groups of articles, or as individual articles. Thus, it can be appreciated that it would be desirable to have a carton with an opening feature that facilitates the removal of articles from the carton in these various ways.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an access opening for a carton that is comprised of two or more adjacent portions, one or more of which may be removed to provide access to the carton contents.

The present invention, in one aspect, provides a carton for packaging a plurality of articles, comprising top and bottom panels interconnected by a pair of opposed side walls to form a generally tubular structure. An end wall is provided at each end of the tubular structure to at least partially close each end. Means for providing access to the articles includes a first detachable portion extending across a part of the top panel and at least a part of one of the opposed side walls. A second detachable portion is disposed adjacent to the first detachable portion and extends across a further part of the top panel and into a part of one of the end walls, whereby removal of the first detachable portion and the second detachable portion defines an access opening formed from portions of the top panel, the one opposed side wall, and the one end wall.

The access means may farther include a third detachable portion disposed adjacent to the first detachable portion and extending across at least a portion of the other end walls, in which case the access opening is further formed from a portion of the other end wall.

The first detachable portion may extend across the top panel at locations remote from the end walls. The second and third detachable portions then each extend across a portion of the top panel adjacent to the first detachable portion.

The first detachable portion may further extend at least partially into the other of the opposed end walls. The second detachable portion may extend at least partially into the one opposed side wall. Removal of either detachable portion defines an access opening formed from portions of the top panel, the one or two opposed side walls, and an end wall. Removal of both detachable portions then defines an access opening formed from portions of the top panel, at least one of the opposed side walls, and both of the end walls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a carton blank according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a carton sleeve erected from the blank of FIG. 1, showing the carton prepared to receive the articles to be packaged;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the carton in FIG. 2 after loading with its ends closed;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the carton in FIG. 3 with a first access portion removed;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the carton in FIG. 4 with a second access portion shown in an opened position;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the carton in FIG. 5 with a third access portion shown in an opened position; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the carton in FIG. 6 with the second and third access portions removed.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of a carton blank according to another embodiment of the invention,

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a carton sleeve erected from the blank of FIG. 8, showing the carton prepared to receive the articles to be packaged;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a carton sleeve erected from the blank of FIG. 8, showing the carton with side end flaps closed;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the carton after loading with its ends closed;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the carton with a opening feature access hole;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the carton with a first access portion shown in an opened position but still attached;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the carton with a first access access portion detached; and

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the carton with both the first and second access portions removed.

For convenience of understanding, reference may be made to any of FIGS. 1 through 7 simultaneously, or any of FIGS. 8 through 15 simultaneously.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 to 7 illustrate a first embodiment of the present invention. Throughout these drawings, the same reference numerals are used to denote the same or like features of the invention.

FIG. 1 shows a blank 10 from which the carton of FIGS. 2-7 is erected. The blank 10 is horizontally elongate as viewed in FIG. 1 and is formed, in this embodiment, of paperboard. However, the blank maybe formed of other foldable material such as a plastic sheet or the like. The blank 10 of this embodiment is designed for packaging articles of an identical configuration, such as beverage bottles, arranged in four rows of six bottles each. However, the invention may be used for any number of bottles, with the blank sized accordingly. In addition, the invention may be used with cartons for packaging cans or other articles.

Referring to FIG. 1, the blank 10 includes four primary panels for forming the carton walls, hingedly connected one to the next. A first side wall panel 12 is hingedly connected to the top wall panel 14 along fold line 34. The top wall panel 14 is hingedly connected to a second side wall panel 16 along fold line 36 which is in turn hingedly connected to the bottom wall panel 18 along fold line 38. The bottom wall panel 18 is hingedly connected to a glue flap 20 along fold line 40.

Side end flaps 22 and 24 are hingedly connected along fold lines 42 and 44 respectively to first side wall panel 12. Top end flaps 26 and 28 are hingedly connected along fold lines 46 and 48 respectively to top wall panel 14. Side end flaps 30 and 32 are hingedly connected along fold lines 50 and 52 respectively to second side wall panel 16. Bottom end flaps 31 and 33 are hingedly connected along fold lines 51 and 53 respectively to bottom wall panel 18.

Each of top end flaps 26 and 28 include a hand aperture 54 and 56 respectively which partially form a handle in each end of the erected carton. Apertures 54 and 56 may optionally be covered by flaps (not shown) as is conventional in the art. Each of side end flaps 22, 24, 30, and 32 include partial apertures 58, 60, 62, and 64, respectively, that are aligned with the respective apertures 54 and 56 when the carton is erected and closed to further define the handles. Side end flap 22 further includes a reinforcing flap 66 hingedly connected along its top edge by fold line 68. Flap 66 may be folded along fold line 68 and glued to the inner surface of end flap 22 to provide a handle reinforcement in the manner taught in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/320542, filed Dec. 28, 2005 based on U.S. Provisional Application 60/690412 filed Jun. 13, 2005. Similar flaps 66 are connected to side end flaps 24, 30 and 32.

To define the access feature in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a pair of substantially parallel perforated tear lines 70 and 72 are formed in the top and side wall panels, each extending completely across the width of top wall panel 14 and partially into side wall panels 12 and 16. In wall panel 12, the tear lines 70 and 72 are connected at their ends by tear line 74, which includes an arcuate cut line 76 disposed approximately at its center portion to define a starter tab 78. A cut line 80 extends from the junction of cut lines 70 and 74 across fold line 42 and across end flap 22 to its outer edge. A similar cut line 82 extends from the junction of cut lines 72 and 74 across fold line 44 and across end flap 24 to its outer edge. In wall panel 16, the tear lines 70 and 72 are connected at their ends by tear line 84, with a cut line 86 extending from the junction of cut lines 70 and 84 across fold line 50 and across end flap 30 to its outer edge. A similar cut line 88 extends from the junction of cut lines 72 and 84 across fold line 52 and across end flap 32 to its outer edge.

As will be explained further herein, a first access portion 90 is defined by the portion of the blank bounded by tear lines 70, 72, 74, and 84. A second access portion 92 is defined by the portion of the blank bounded by tear lines 72, 82, and 88, and by the corresponding side edge of the blank 10. A third access portion 94 is defined by the portion of the blank bounded by tear lines 70, 80, and 86, and by the corresponding side edge of the blank 10.

Although the tear lines described herein are preferably formed from perforated lines, they may alternatively be formed by zippered tear strips, scored lines, partial cuts, or other recognized means of facilitating controlled tearing of a package. For example, each tear line may be formed of a series of small cut lines and nicks, a line of short slits, a line of half cuts, a combination of slits and score lines, and similar arrangements or combinations thereof.

To erect the carton of blank 10, glue is applied to glue flap 20, which is then adhered to the inner surface of side wall panel 12 at its outer edge. The carton may then be folded along fold lines 34, 36, 38, and 40 to form the open tube shown in FIG. 2. In this condition, the carton is ready to be loaded with its contents (e.g., bottles) through one or both of its open ends. Loading is typically done with high-speed beverage packaging machinery as is known in the art.

Once loaded, one end of the carton may be closed by first folding inwardly end flaps 24 and 32. Glue is applied to the flaps, and bottom end flap 33 is folded upwardly, whereafter top end flap 28 is folded downwardly. The folded and glued end flaps 24, 28, 32, and 33 together form an end wall for the carton. The opposite end of the carton is closed by a similar operation, both of which are typically performed on the carton loading machinery. After closure, the carton appears as shown in FIG. 3. In this condition, the carton may be delivered to a point of purchase for purchase by a consumer.

To open the carton, a consumer inserts their finger through opening 76 and grips access portion 90. By pulling upwardly on portion 90, tear line 74 will separate. Further pulling of the portion 90 will cause tearing along tear lines 70 and 72 and portion 90 will separate from side wall panel 12. Further pulling will cause the portion 90 to separate from top wall panel 14 and then from a portion of opposite side wall panel 16. Lastly, the portion 90 is tom from the carton by tearing along tear line 84. Upon removal of portion 90, the carton will appear as shown in FIG. 4. As can be seen, the packaged bottles B are readily accessible for removal. However, the carton remains essentially intact, thereby permitting it to be carried by the handles formed in the carton end walls.

A less-obstructed access to the bottles may be obtained by opening the second access portion 92. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the consumer may grasp the remaining portion of top wall panel 14 lying adjacent to tear line 70 and pull outwardly. This will cause tear lines 82 on wall panel 12 and tear lines 88 on wall panel 16 (not shown in FIGS. 4 and 5) to separate, whereupon opening access portion 92 may be pivoted outwardly from the bottles, exposing the end-most bottles adjacent the end wall as shown in FIG. 5.

Similarly, the consumer may grasp the remaining portion of top wall panel 14 lying adjacent to tear line 72 and pull outwardly. This will cause tear lines 80 on wall panel 12 and tear lines 86 on wall panel 16 (not shown in FIGS. 4 and 5) to separate, whereupon the third opening access portion 94 may be pivoted outwardly from the bottles at the opposite end of the carton. When so opened, the carton will appear as shown in FIG. 6.

Finally, if desired, the consumer may tear away one or both of the opening access portions 92 and 94. The access portions are torn along the portions of tear lines 80, 82, 86, and 88 lying in end flaps 22, 24, 30, and 32, respectively. The carton will appear as shown in FIG. 7.

FIGS. 8 to 15 illustrate another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the central access portion shown as portion 90 in FIGS. 1-7 is eliminated, and the access opening is provided by two portions, each disposed along an opposite end of the carton.

FIG. 8 shows a blank 110 from which the carton of FIGS. 9-15 is erected. The blank 110 is horizontally elongate as viewed in FIG. 8 and is formed, in this embodiment, of paperboard. However, the blank maybe formed of other foldable material such as a plastic sheet or the like. The blank 110 of this embodiment is designed for packaging articles of an identical configuration, such as beverage bottles, arranged in four rows of five bottles each. However, the invention may be used for any number of bottles, with the blank sized accordingly. In addition, the invention may be used with cartons for packaging cans or other articles.

Referring to FIG. 8, the blank 110 includes four primary panels for forming the carton walls, hingedly connected one to the next. A first side wall panel 112 is hingedly connected to the top wall panel 114 along fold line 134. The top wall panel 114 is hingedly connected to a second side wall panel 116 along fold line 136. The second side wall panel 116 is in turn hingedly connected to the bottom wall panel 118 along fold line 138. The bottom wall panel 118 is hingedly connected to a glue flap 120 along fold line 140.

Side end flaps 122 and 124 are hingedly connected along fold lines 142 and 144 respectively to first side wall panel 112. Top end flaps 126 and 128 are hingedly connected along fold lines 146 and 148 respectively to top wall panel 114. Side end flaps 130 and 132 are hingedly connected along fold lines 150 and 152 respectively to second side wall panel 116. Bottom end flaps 131 and 133 are hingedly connected along fold lines 151 and 153 respectively to bottom wall panel 118.

Each of top end flaps 126 and 128 include a hand aperture 154 and 156 respectively which partially form a handle in each end of the erected carton. Apertures 154 and 156 may optionally be covered by flaps as is conventional in the art. Each of side end flaps 122, 124, 130, and 132 include partial apertures 158, 160, 162, and 164 respectively, which are aligned with the respective apertures 154 and 156 when the carton is erected and closed to further define the handles. Side end flap 122 further includes a reinforcing flap 166 hingedly connected along its top edge by fold line 168. Flap 166 may be folded along fold line 168 and glued to the inner surface of end flap 122 to provide a handle reinforcement in the manner taught in the above referenced U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/320542, filed Dec. 28, 2005. Similar flaps 166 are connected to side end flaps 124, 130 and 132.

To define the access feature in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a perforated tear line 170 is formed in the top panel, extending completely across the width of top wall panel 114. On one side, perforated tear line 170 continues into side panel 112 as perforated tear line or lines 174, further extending across side panel 112 to join perforated tear lines 180 and 182 which extend out into the side end flaps 122 and 124. On the opposing side, perforated tear line 170 continues into side panel 116 as perforated tear line or lines 184, further extending across side panel 116 to join perforated tear lines 186 and 188 which extend out into the side end flaps 130 and 132. In top panel 114, the tear line 170 includes at its center a perforated finger access opening area 175 useful as a hand hold for starting a tear.

Although the tear lines described herein are preferably formed from perforated lines, they may alternatively be formed by zippered tear strips, scored lines, partial cuts, or other recognized means of facilitating controlled tearing of a package. For example, each tear line may be formed of a series of small cut lines and nicks, a line of short slits, a line of half cuts, a combination of slits and score lines, and similar arrangements or combinations thereof.

To erect the carton of blank 110, glue is applied to glue flap 120, which is then adhered to the inner surface of side wall panel 112 at its outer edge. The carton may then be folded along fold lines 134, 136, 138, and 140 to form the open tube shown in FIG. 9. In this condition, the carton is ready to be loaded with its contents (e.g., bottles) through one or both of its open ends. Loading is typically done with high-speed beverage packaging machinery as is known in the art.

FIG. 10 shows how, once loaded, one of the ends of the carton may be closed by first folding inwardly end flaps 124 and 132. Glue is applied to the flaps, and bottom end flap 133 is folded upwardly, whereafter top end flap 128 is folded downwardly. The folded and glued end flaps 124, 128, 132, and 133 together form an end wall for the carton. The opposite end of the carton is closed by a similar operation, both of which are typically performed on the carton loading machinery. After closure, the carton appears as shown in FIG. 11. In this condition, the carton may be delivered to a point of purchase for purchase by a consumer. In FIG. 11, the access portions 192 and 194 are denoted within brackets.

FIG. 12 shows finger access opening 175 which may be easily opened in order to start tearing the carton open. Either or both of portions 192 and 194 may be opened. For example, pulling upwardly on portion 192 will cause tear line 170 to separate along top panel 114. Further pulling of the portion 192 will cause tearing along tear lines 174, and then 182 (and 184 and 188, hidden on opposite side), causing portion 192 to separate from side wall panels 112 and 116, at which point portion 192 may be folded outward as shown in FIG. 13. Note the position of reinforcing flaps 166 that reinforce handle aperture 156. Portion 192 may be left hingedly attached to the carton, for reclosing, or may be removed as shown in FIG. 14. As can be seen, the packaged bottles B are readily accessible for removal.

A less-obstructed access to the bottles may be obtained by opening the second access portion 194. The consumer may grasp the remaining portion of top wall panel 114 lying adjacent to tear line 170 and/or at access opening 175, and pull outwardly. This will cause any remaining intact portions of tear lines 174 and 184 on the side panels 112 and 116 respectively to tear, with the tear propagating into tear lines 180 and 186 respectively on side end panels 122 and 130. At this point, opening access portion 194 may be pivoted outwardly from the bottles, exposing the end-most bottles adjacent the far end wall. The opening access portion 194 may be left attached, or torn loose as shown in FIG. 15.

As a further alternative embodiment, an access opening may be formed from adjacent two access portions, wherein the access openings are configured as shown by portions 90 and 92 in FIGS. 1-7. In this embodiment, the third access portion 94 may be eliminated.

Modifications may be made in the foregoing without departing from the scope of the claimed invention. It should be also appreciated that as used herein, directional references such as “top”, “bottom”, “end”, “side”, “upper” and “lower” do not limit the respective panels to such orientation, but merely serve to distinguish these panels from one another.

It should be further appreciated that any reference to hinged or foldable connection should not be construed as necessarily referring to a single fold line only: indeed, it is envisaged that hinged connection can be formed from one or more fold lines. In this application, a “fold line” includes, but is not limited to, a score line, a perforation, a line of short slits, a line of half cuts, a combination of slits and score lines, and similar arrangements, without departing from the scope of invention.