Title:
Stacked plastic bag system with auto-inserting tongue mechanism and method for easy opening
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stacked plastic film bag system includes a plurality of open top bags and at least one tongue for separating front and back panels of a bag that is next to be dispensed. Each bag has a header for maintaining the plurality of stacked open top bags in a mechanically pressed and/or heat-sealed. The tongue(s) extends below the front panel tops of the bags so as to permit a bag user to pull off a most forward bag wherein the front panel of the next sequential bag will be pulled forward so as to position in front of the tongue and will fall back to rest after complete removal of the most forward bag to effect interleafing of the tongue between the front panel and the back panel of each next sequential bag to ready it for easy removal and to inhibit static cling of the front and back panels.



Inventors:
Tseng, Ben (East Brunswick, NJ, US)
Wang, Ching-yao (Roseland, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/371447
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/09/2006
Assignee:
Inteplast Group, Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D1/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth, Glynn P. (24 Mine Street, Flemington, NJ, 08822, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stacked plastic film bag system, which comprises: (a) a plurality of stacked open top bags, each bag including: a front panel and a back panel, said front panel and said back panel being formed of a flexible plastic film, and each having an inside and an outside, and each having a top, a bottom, a left side and a right side, said front panel having a predetermined width at it's top and having a predetermined height, said back panel and said front panel being connected to one another at said sides and said bottom and being open at said top to establish said bag; (b) each of said plurality of stacked open top bags having a header for maintaining said plurality of stacked open top bags in a mechanically pressed or heat sealed stack with sufficient connection between bags to maintain said stack and to permit pull-apart removal of each sequential bag from said stack; and, (c) at least one tongue connected to said headers and extending downwardly therefrom in front of said plurality of stacked open bags, said at least on tongue extending to at least one half inch below said front panel tops of said plurality of stacked open bags so as to permit a bag user to pull off a most forward bag wherein the front panel of the next sequential bag will be pulled forward so as to position in front of said at least one tongue and will fall back to rest after complete removal of said most forward bag to effect interleafing of said at least one tongue between the front panel and the back panel of said next sequential bag to ready it for easy removal and to inhibit static cling of said front panel to said back panel of said next sequential bag.

2. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein each said header includes a perforation to render each bag removable from said header with little force.

3. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein said header includes at least two perforations for hanging said plurality of stacked open bags on a corresponding hanger.

4. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein said at least one tongue is a flat member connected to a front area of a frontmost header.

5. The stacked film bag system of claim 1 wherein said at least one tongue has an inverted U-shaped side view, extends over said headers of said plurality of stacked open bags, and is attached to a front most header and to a backmost header.

6. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein there are at least two tongues.

7. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein there are two tongues.

8. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 7 wherein said two tongues are separate members from one another.

9. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 7 wherein said two tongues are part of a single member having a common overheader section.

10. The stacked plastic film bag system of claim 1 wherein each bag of said plurality of stacked open bags is attached to each adjacent bag for pull-apart separation from one another, with an attachment selected from the group consisting of heat seal, mechanical compression weld and combinations thereof.

11. A method of dispensing a bag from a stacked plastic bag system, which comprises: A) Providing a stacked film bag system, including: (a) a plurality of stacked open top bags, each bag including: a front panel and a back panel, said front panel and said back panel being formed of a flexible plastic film, and each having an inside and an outside, and each having a top, a bottom, a left side and a right side, said front panel having a predetermined width at it's top and having a predetermined height, said back panel and said front panel being connected to one another at said sides and said bottom and being open at said top to establish said bag; (b) each of said plurality of stacked open top bags having a header for maintaining said plurality of stacked open top bags in a mechanically pressed or heat sealed stack with sufficient connection between bags to maintain said stack and to permit pull-apart removal of each sequential bag from said stack; and, (c) at least one tongue connected to said headers and extending downwardly therefrom in front of said plurality of stacked open bags, said at least on tongue extending to at least one half inch below said front panel tops of said plurality of stacked open bags so as to permit a bag user to pull off a most forward bag wherein the front panel of the next sequential bag will be pulled forward so as to position in front of said at least one tongue and will fall back to rest after complete removal of said most forward bag to effect interleafing of said at least one tongue between the front panel and the back panel of said next sequential bag to ready it for easy removal and to inhibit static cling of said front panel to said back panel of said next sequential bag; B.) Removing a most forward bag from said stack by pulling it forward and simultaneously opening the next sequential bag to automatically insert said at least one tongue between said next sequential bag front panel and back panel and to inhibit static cling therebetween.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein each said header includes a perforation to render each bag removable from said header with little force.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein said header includes at least two perforations for hanging said plurality of stacked open bags on a corresponding hanger.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein said at least one tongue is a flat member connected to a front area of a frontmost header.

15. The method of claim 11 wherein said at least one tongue has an inverted U-shaped side view, extends over said headers of said plurality of stacked open bags, and is attached to a front most header and to a backmost header.

16. The method of claim 11 wherein there are at least two tongues.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein there are two tongues.

18. The method of claim 17 wherein said two tongues are separate members from one another.

19. The method of claim 17 wherein said two tongues are part of a single member having a common overheader section.

20. The method of claim 11 wherein each bag of said plurality of stacked open bags is attached to each adjacent bag for pull-apart separation from one another, with an attachment selected from the group consisting of heat seal, mechanical compression weld and combinations thereof.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to plastic bags typically used in supermarkets and other retail stores, especially in produce and similar departments. Such bags are made of thin plastic and they often stick when being opened for the first time. The present invention bags are assembled into a stack with at least one, and preferably two or more frontal, downwardly extending tongues that prevent static return of the front of each bag as its predecessor bag is removed. Thus, the tongue(s) enables ease of removal of each next bag by interposing between the front and back sections of the most forward bag remaining in the stack after each predecessor bag(s) has been removed. The tongue(s) maintain front/back separation of each most forward bag sequentially, to render them easier to slide the hand between the front panels and the back panels to remove them from the stack.

Information Disclosure Statement

The following prior art is representative of the state of the art in the field of plastic film bags:

Stacked plastic bags, and/or roll mounted produce bags are commonly found in modem grocery stores and supermarkets. These bags are designed for customers to use when purchasing fresh produce or other products. In some instances the actual purchasing customers open the bags, while in other instances, a store clerk or other person may do so. The bags currently available are difficult for customers to use for several reasons. First, the bags that are stacked together tend to cling together and are difficult to open. Second, it is difficult to tell the open end of the bag from the closed end of the bag. Roll-mounted produce bags that identify the proper end to open, is partially opened by dispensing rack and eliminates the problem of sticking. However, stacked bags take less space and do not require the investment, location and instation of roll dispensers.

Various designs have been developed for dispensers for roll mounted bags, incorporating a number of different technologies.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,179,055 issued to Milner, discloses a device for separating a continuous strip of plastic bags mounted on a roll separated by scores lines. The bags pass between a plate and a pressure bar. A prong projects outwardly from the center portion of the plate to facilitate separation of the bags along the score lines and to display the next bag for easy grasping by an operator.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,714,191 issued to Richardson, describes a one piece paperboard carton blank folded into a rectangular shape for packaging and dispensing from a roll of individual plastic bags, particularly disposable milk bags for feeding babies. The individual bags are connected by perforations. The carton includes a tab protruding in the direction opposite to the direction of withdrawal of bags from the roll When the center of the perforated edge of the bag is impaled on the tab, further withdrawal of a succeeding bag is restrained and the first bag is readily separated to facilitate its dispensing while locating the leading edge of the succeeding bag where it may be easily reached for withdrawal.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,558,262 issued to Simhaee, discloses a plastic bag dispenser that holds a continuous roll of bags connected by perforated separation lines. The dispenser is provided with a tongue, which the bags are dispensed over, that engages the separation line between the bag at the end of the roll and the next bag. The roll of bags rests in curved grooves in the dispenser that cause the roll to abut and frictionally engage an interior surface of the dispenser, preventing freewheeling of the roll.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,556,019 issued to Morris, describes a bag separator and dispenser for use with bags wound on a core and separated by perforation lines at each end of the bags. The perforation lines include a slot that is collinear with the perforations and is used to engage a separator projection. The projection enters the slot as the bags are pulled from the roll. The dispenser includes two braking devices to control the removal of bags from the roll, a braking bar underneath the roll of bags and a pair of fingers that are attached to the channel for the core and are designed to engage the core as the number of bags on the roll decreases.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,535 issued to Kannankeril, discloses a roll of bags having a core with an indexing member on at least one end. The dispenser comprises a wire frame formed into channels to support the core. The dispenser includes at least one brake attached to a support member and disposed at an angle to the support member to provide tension to the edges of the roll of bags as the core passes through the channel passageway as the bags are removed from the roll. Spaced apart from the support is a separating tongue. The tongue engages the slot regardless of whether the bags are drawn over or under the tongue.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,481,594 issued to Yeh et al describes a roll mounted T-shirt bag and dispensers for same. The bag is designed for fresh produce and includes front and rear panels, first and second side gussets, a bottom seam, a top seam and a U-shaped cutout forming an openable bag mouth and a pair of carrying handles. The bags are joined above and below the upper and lower seams at first and second perforation lines. The bags are wound onto a cylindrical core to form a compact roll. In a variant of the invention, the bags are folded inwardly from the side edges prior to rolling onto the core to form a more compact roll Dispensers are described that are designed to hold the roll-mounted bags in both folded and unfolded form The dispensers include a separating tongue designed to engage the U-shaped cutout and permit the bags to be dispensed from the bottom of the bag roll. The dispensers are designed for mounting to either vertical or horizontal surfaces and function efficiently in very limited spaces.

Notwithstanding the prior art, the present invention is neither taught nor rendered obvious thereby. The present invention eliminates the need for dispensers that open bags or that start the opening process by approaching the problem from the standpoint of eliminating the sticking problem at its source, and hence, enabling stacked bags to be dispensed without the heretofore clinging problems that have plagued the use of flat stacked bags.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a stacked plastic film bag system that includes a plurality of bags and at least one tongue for separating front and back panels of a bag that is next to be dispensed. More specifically, the present invention includes a plurality of stacked open top plastic film bags. Each bag includes a front panel and a back panel, said front panel and said back panel being formed of a flexible plastic film, and each having an inside and an outside, and each having a top, a bottom, a left side and a right side. The front panel has a predetermined width at it's top and has a predetermined height. The back panel and the front panel are connected to one another at said sides and said bottom and each bag is open at said top.

Each of said plurality of stacked open top bags has a header for maintaining said plurality of stacked open top bags in a mechanically pressed or heat sealed stack with sufficient connection between bags to maintain said stack and to permit pull-apart removal of each sequential bag from said stack.

The present invention system also includes at least one tongue connected to said headers that extends downwardly therefrom in front of said plurality of stacked open bags. The at least on tongue extends to at least one half inch below said front panel tops of said plurality of stacked open bags. Thus, it is extended so as to permit a bag user to pull off a most forward bag wherein the front panel of the next sequential bag will be pulled forward so as to position in front of said at least one tongue and will fall back to rest after complete removal of said most forward bag to effect interleafing of said at least one tongue between the front panel and the back panel of said next sequential bag. This is to ready it for easy removal and to inhibit static cling of said front panel to said back panel of said next sequential bag. The desired length of the tongue(s) of the present invention is, as mentioned, at least one half inch below the top of the front panel, and is preferably at least one inch below the top of the front panel. Preferred are lengths in the range of about three inches to about five inches. These tongue length ranges become more narrow as the width of the bags decrease. This is because the hang sweep of a front panel increases with width In other words, wider bags tend to bellow out further and hang lower than narrower bags, and thus there is some leeway in the balance of having the tongue short enough for the front panel to pass in front of it but long enough to keep separation between the front panel and back panel of the bag. Thus, a standard supermarket of grocery bag with a width of about 12 inches should have tongue member(s) of about 3 to 5 inches overall, and thus about 1½ to 3½ inches extended below the top of the front panel.

In some preferred embodiments, each bag header includes a perforation to render each bag removable from said header with little force. In some preferred embodiments, the header includes at least two orifices for hanging said plurality of stacked open bags on a corresponding hanger.

The stacked present invention system tongue(s) may be single, double, triple or more individual tongue units or may be connected by a common header (“overheader”) that covers at least a portion of the bag headers. In some preferred embodiments, the tongue is a flat member connected to a front area of a frontmost header. In other preferred embodiments, the tongue has an inverted U-shaped side view, extends over said headers of said plurality of stacked open bags, and is attached to a front most header and to a backmost header. In some preferred embodiments, there are at least two tongues, and two tongues are most preferred for standard size (Approx. 12 wide). In some preferred embodiments, tongues are separate members from one another. In other preferred embodiments, the two tongues are part of a single member having a common overheader section.

In some preferred embodiments, each bag of said plurality of stacked open bags is attached to each adjacent bag for pull-apart separation from one another, with an attachment selected from the group consisting of heat seal, mechanical compression weld and combinations thereof.

In addition to the foregoing described system, the present invention also includes the method of dispensing bags utilizing the system Hence, the present invention also includes a method of dispensing a bag from a stacked plastic bag system, which comprises:

A) Providing a stacked film bag system, including:

  • (a) a plurality of stacked open top bags, as described above;
  • (b) a header for each of said plurality of stacked open top bags, as described above;
  • (c) at least one tongue connected to said headers and extending downwardly therefrom in front of said plurality of stacked open bags, as described above;
    B.) Removing a most forward bag from said stack by pulling it forward and simultaneously opening the next sequential bag to automatically insert said at least one tongue between said next sequential bag front panel and back panel and to inhibit static cling therebetween.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should be more fully understood when the specification herein is taken in conjunction with the drawings appended hereto wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front view of one preferred embodiment of the present invention stacked plastic film bag system and FIG. 2 is a side view thereof, FIG. 3 is a side view of the present invention bag system shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 above, but with a user in the process of dispensing a bag therefrom, and FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of the same system, but after bag removal, showing the auto-insertion of the tongues between the front panel and back panel of the next bag to be dispensed therefrom;

FIGS. 5 and 6 show front and side views, respectively, of a tongue shown in the preceding Figures;

FIGS. 7 and 8 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system tongue that is a stand-alone, flat member;

FIGS. 9 and 10 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system double tongue/overheader member;

FIGS. 11 and 12 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system triple tongue/overhead member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The prior art produce bags have a number of disadvantages that are overcome by the present invention. For example, the need for dispensers that partially open the bags is eliminated. Concomitantly, the cost of making, shipping, installing and maintaining dispensers is also eliminated. Also, the bags themselves do not stick together and a user's finger(s) are easily fitted between the front panel and the back panel of the front bag for grasping and removing the bag.

FIG. 1 is a front view of one preferred embodiment of the present invention stacked plastic film bag system 100 and FIG. 2 is a side view thereof In FIGS. 1 and 2, there is a plurality of plastic film bags 80. By this invention, a plastic bag for produce and the like is provided. It may be of any number of sizes and shapes, and be utilized within the present invention system.

For example, a preferred plastic bag may comprise a single plastic sheet, folded to define to generally parallel bag walls connected at one end by two plastic tubes. A transverse heat seal is formed between the bag walls in a line that is generally parallel to the integral fold line and of the bag, to define a separate bag section having an interior that is from the rest of the bag.

In FIG. 1, a plurality of the types of bags just described are stacked in a flat, layered arrangement and assembled. FIG. 1 shows front bag 35 and its perforated 66 header 25 with the heat-sealed areas 110, 111, 112, and 113 that will stop the bag headers, such as header 25 and those under it, from tearing or falling apart. The heat-sealed areas 201 and 202 keep the tongues 75 and 85 and header 25 sealed together. Three orifices (design holes) 10, 11, 12 are cut through or otherwise formed in the headers and can put on any design rack for the end user. (Such a rack 91 is shown in FIG. 3, below). In addition, tongues 75 and 85 are attached to the front and back headers and can incidentally aid in the prevention of the headers from separating and the parallel bag walls from separating or disorienting. FIG. 2 shows a side view thereof with identical elements identically numbered. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, wherein the same system as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is presented, but in different stages of use. Thus, FIG. 3 is a side view of the present invention bag system 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 above, but with a user in the process of dispensing a bag therefrom, and FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of the same system, but after bag removal, showing the auto-insertion of the tongues between the front panel and back panel of the next bag 35 to be dispensed.

The primary function of tongues 75 and 85 is as described above, i.e., they are extended downwardly below the tops of the front panels of the bags so as to permit a bag user 50 to pull off a most forward bag 135 wherein the front panel 67 of the next sequential bag 35 will be pulled forward so as to position in front of the tongues 75 and 85 and will fall back to rest (see specifically FIG. 4) after complete removal of the most forward bag 135 to effect interleafing of tongues 75 and 85 between the front panel and the back panel of the next sequential bag 35. This is to ready bag 35 for easy removal and to inhibit static cling of its front panel to its back panel. Moreover, the semi-flexible plastic tongues 75 and 85 will decrease the human force needed to separate and while pulling the bag off the other bags; therefore, the bag's own potential force is slightly increased so that it becomes mechanically easier to dispense.

Furthermore, FIG. 3 and 4 show the headers, such as header 25, with its perforations 66, hold the upper than plastic opening of the back panel while allowing for ease of opening the front panel 67 so that a user or customer will easily place items in the bags. After a bag has been filled (or before, as the user may desire), the perforations 66 permit the user or customer to pull the bags one by one, as needed.

Also, FIG. 1 shows pressure indentations 77, 87, 97, the compression holes or combination heat weld/ pressure holes that keep the bags together and in alignment. These attachments easily yield to minor pulling force during bag removal from the stack and aid in bringing the front panels forward (in front of the tongues) of each next sequential bag when the bag in front of it is removed.

FIGS. 5 and 6 show front and side views, respectively, of a tongue 85 shown in the preceding Figures. Tongue 85 has a front portion 81, a top portion 83 and a back portion 87 to create an inverted U-shape for straddling the top of the headers of a stack of bags.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system tongue 185, with front 181, and top 183, that is a stand-alone, flat member. Tongue 185 is typically heat and/or compression welded to the front header of a stack so that it extends below the top edge of the front panels of the bags as more fully explained above.

FIGS. 9 and 10 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system double tongue/overheader member 201. It includes an overheader section 203 and tongue extensions 205 and 207. The overheader section has a top 209 and a back 211 and straddles the headers of a stack of bags. The overheader section 203 assists in alignment of the tongue sections and adds reinforcement to the bag headers.

FIGS. 11 and 12 show front and side views, respectively, of a present invention system triple tongue/overhead member 301. It includes a flat overheader section 303 and three tongue extensions 305, 307 and 309. (In the alternative, as many tongue extensions as desired may be used, or a single wide tongue or tongue section could be used.) The overheader section 303 is attached to front header of a stack of bags. The overheader section 303 assists in alignment of the tongue sections and adds reinforcement to the bag headers.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.





 
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