Title:
Collapsible crate with support members
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An example crate includes a wall having an opening and a retractable support that is movable between a retracted position and a support position. A tab extends from the retractable support into the opening when the retractable support is in the retracted position. The tab is accessible through the opening to move the retractable support from the retracted position toward the support position.



Inventors:
Cavalcante, Mauricio D. (Playa del Rey, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/440170
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/24/2006
Assignee:
Rehrig Pacific Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALLEN, JEFFREY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARLSON, GASKEY & OLDS, P.C. (400 WEST MAPLE ROAD SUITE 350, BIRMINGHAM, MI, 48009, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A crate comprising: a wall including an opening there through; a retractable support movable between a retracted position and a support position relative to the wall; and a tab that extends from the retractable support at least partially into the opening when the retractable support is in the retracted position such that the tab is accessible through the opening to move the retractable support from the retracted position toward the support position.

2. The crate as recited in claim 1 wherein the tab is a first tab, further including a second tab that extends from the retractable support.

3. The crate as recited in claim 2, wherein the first and second tabs extend in different directions.

4. The crate as recited in claim 3, further comprising a third tab that extends in a different direction from the first and second tabs.

5. The crate as recited in claim 2, wherein the first tab extends in a first direction and the second tab extends in a second direction that is perpendicular to the first direction.

6. The crate as recited in claim 1, wherein the tab extends entirely through the opening.

7. The crate as recited in claim 6, wherein the tab extends beyond the first wall.

8. The crate as recited in claim 1, wherein the tab is spaced from the opening when the retractable support is in the support position.

9. The crate as recited in claim 1, wherein the tab is cylindrical.

10. The crate as recited in claim 1, wherein the tab includes a textured surface.

11. A crate comprising: a base wall; a first wall defining a first plane that is generally perpendicular to the base wall; a second wall defining a second plane and that is generally perpendicular to the first wall and the base wall; a corner near the intersection of the first plane and the second plane; and a retractable support adjacent the first wall and the second wall and movable between a retracted position and a support position, wherein the first wall includes an opening there through that is spaced from the corner to provide access to the retractable support.

12. The crate as recited in claim 11, wherein the second wall also includes an opening there through that is spaced from the corner to provide access to the retractable support.

13. The crate as recited in claim 11, wherein the opening of the first wall is round and the opening of the second wall is an elongated slot.

14. The crate as recited in claim 11, wherein the first wall includes spaced-apart ribs having a recessed portion between the ribs, and the opening extends through the recessed portion.

15. The crate as recited in claim 11, wherein the opening is spaced from the corner in a direction that is parallel to the base wall.

16. The crate as recited in claim 11, wherein the retractable support extends lengthwise along a first direction and the opening extends in a second direction perpendicular to the first wall and perpendicular to the first direction when the retractable support is in the retracted position.

17. A crate comprising: a base wall; a first wall generally perpendicular to the base wall; a second wall generally perpendicular to the base wall and the first wall; a retractable support adjacent the first wall and the second wall and movable between a retracted position and a support position; and a tab that extends from the retractable support in a direction that is generally parallel to the base wall.

18. The crate as recited in claim 17, wherein the retractable support includes a first end and a second end, and the tab is located between first end the second end.

19. The crate as recited in claim 18, wherein the retractable support is generally parallel to the first wall in the retracted position, and the retractable support is supported at the first end by the first wall and the second end by the second wall in the support position.

20. The crate as recited in claim 19, wherein the tab is located closer to the second end than to the first end.

21. The crate as recited in claim 18, wherein the second end comprises a second, different tab having a textured surface.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to collapsible crates and more particularly to a collapsible crate with retractable support members for supporting another container thereon.

Collapsible crates are well known. Four walls each connected via a hinge to a base are selectively movable about the hinge between a use position, in which the wall is generally perpendicular to the base, and a collapsed position onto the base.

Published Application No. US 2003/0222081, which is co-owned, discloses a collapsible crate with retractable support members. Each support member is positioned near each corner. The support member is movable between a retracted position in one of the walls to a support position extending diagonally across the corner. In the support position, a smaller crate can be stacked on the support members. At times, it is not easy to access the supports in the corners to initially move the support members out of the retracted position.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One example crate includes a wall having an opening and a retractable support that is movable between a retracted position and a support position. A tab extends from the retractable support into the opening when the retractable support is in the retracted position. The tab is accessible through the opening to facilitate movement of the retractable support from the retracted position toward the support position.

In another aspect, the example crate includes a base wall and side walls that are perpendicular to the base wall and to each other. The side walls define planes that intersect at corners. At least one of the side walls includes an opening that is spaced from one of the corners. The opening provides access to the retractable support.

In another aspect, the example crate includes a base wall, side walls that are perpendicular to the base wall and to each other, and a retractable support that is movable between a retracted position and a support position. A tab extends from the retractable support in a direction that is generally parallel to the base wall.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The various features and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the currently preferred embodiment. The drawings that accompany the detailed description can be briefly described as follows.

FIG. 1 illustrates an example collapsible crate having a retractable support.

FIG. 2 illustrates an isolated view of an example of the retractable support.

FIG. 3 illustrates an enlarged view of one corner of the collapsible crate with the retractable support in a retracted position.

FIG. 4 illustrates an enlarged view of one corner of the collapsible crate with the retractable support in a use position.

FIG. 5 illustrates an example side perspective view of a second crate stacked on the collapsible crate.

FIG. 6 illustrates an example top perspective view of the collapsible crate of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 illustrates an example of the collapsible crate in a collapsed position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates an example collapsible crate 10 in an upright, use position. The crate 10 in this example includes a base wall 12 and upstanding perpendicular side walls 14, 16 and end walls 18, 20. The side walls 14, 16 are connected to the base wall 12 by hinges 22, 24, respectively. End walls 18, 20 are similarly connected to the base wall 12 via hinges 26, 28, respectively. As is known, the side walls 14, 16 and end walls 18, 20 are collapsible inwardly by pivoting at hinges 22, 24, 26, 28 onto base wall 12 (FIG. 7).

The crate 10 can be collapsed for shipping or storage and can be quickly set up by pivoting side walls 14, 16 and end walls 18, 20 about their respective hinges 22, 24, 26, 28 to the use position, generally perpendicular to base wall 12. Geometric terms, such as “perpendicular” and “parallel,” used in this description are not necessarily meant to be limiting in a strict geometrical sense. Rather, such terms may be used to describe relative orientations within, for example, a desired range.

In the illustrated example, once the walls 14, 16, 18, 20 are upright, they are latched near each corner 21 using any of a variety of latches, such as the latch 30 connecting side wall 14 to end wall 18 in FIG. 1. The corner 21 refers generally to the intersection of planes defined by each of the walls 14, 16, 18, 20.

The crate 10 includes a plurality of support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c near each corner 21 for selectively supporting another crate thereon. For clarity, support member 40 will be described primarily; however, all of the support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c are identical or mirror images. In FIG. 1, the support member 40 is shown in the retracted position, disposed within side wall 14 and generally parallel to the side wall 14.

FIG. 2 illustrates an isolated view of the support member 40, which is generally an elongated beam having a first end 42 and an opposite second end 44. A tab 46a for engaging a bottom surface of another crate protrudes from the top surface of the support member 40. Another tab 46b protrudes from a side of the support member 40 proximal to the second end 44 for facilitating actuation of the support member 40. In this example, the support member 40, including tabs 46a and 46b, is formed as a single, discrete component (e.g., by known forming techniques such as molding, machining, casting, etc.). Alternatively, one or both of the tabs 46a and 46b may be formed separately from the support member 40 and then secured thereto in a known manner. In the disclosed example, the tab 46b is cylindrical. However, as can be appreciated, other tab 46b shapes may be used to meet the particular needs or desires of a crate design.

The first end 42 and the second end 44 of the support member 40 include, respectively, transverse pins 72 and 74 for guiding the support member 40 within the side wall 14 and end wall 18. In this example, the second end 44, which could also be considered a tab, includes a textured surface 75 for actuating the support member 40.

Referring to support member 40 in FIG. 1, and again noting that all of the support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c are identical (or mirror images), the first end 42 and pin 72 of the support member 40 are slideably and pivotally captured within a track 52 in side wall 14. Similarly, the second end 44 and pin 74 are slideably and pivotally captured within a second track 54 in a generally perpendicular extension 55 from side wall 14. The track 52 may include an aperture for assembling the support member 40 within the side wall 14 in a known manner. The second track 54 may include a detent for engaging the pin 74 at the second end 44 of the support member 40 to lock the support member 40 in the retracted position in a known manner.

During movement of the support member 40 between positions, the second end 44 and pin 74 slide between the second track 54 on side wall 14 and a third track 56 on end wall 18. As can be seen in FIG. 1, the second track 54 in the extension 55 of side wall 14 is aligned with the third track 56 in adjacent end wall 18.

FIG. 3 illustrates a closer view of one of the corners 21. The side wall 16 includes an opening 60 that extends through the thickness of the side wall 16. In this example, the opening 60 is round, extends perpendicularly through the side wall 16, and is spaced along a direction D1 (parallel to the base wall 12) from the corner 21. In other examples, the opening 60 may have a different shape and spacing than the illustrated example.

Although not visible in FIG. 3, the opposing end of the side wall 16 also includes a mirror opening 60. Likewise, the other side wall 14 includes openings 60. In this example, the side wall 16 includes ribs 61a and 61b that provide reinforcement and define a recessed portion 62 of the side wall 16. The opening 60 extends through the recessed portion 62.

In FIG. 3, the support member 40a is shown in the retracted position in which the tab 46b extends through the opening 60. In this example, the tab 46b extends entirely through the opening such that it protrudes beyond the side wall 16. This allows the tab 46b to be found through tactile feel rather than observation. The tab 46b and opening 60 provide the benefit of allowing one to selectively move the support member 40a from the retracted position (shown) to the use position shown in FIG. 4 by pressing the tab 46b through the opening 60 to move the support member 40a. The tab 46b provides relatively easy access from outside the crate 10 to initiate movement of the support member 40a. Pressing the tab 46b may or may not move the support member 40a completely to the use position, depending on the design of the crate 10. Alternatively, the tab 46b, the side wall 16, or both are designed such that the tab 46b does not extend all the way through the opening 60.

In the disclosed example, the end wall 20 includes an aperture 64a, such as an elongated slot. The end 44a of the support member 40a is visible and accessible through the aperture 64a. After actuating the tab 46b to move the support member 40a toward the use position, one can access the textured surface 75 through the aperture 64a to move the support member 40a farther toward or completely into the use position (FIG. 4). As can be appreciated, the tab 46b and the second end 44a can be actuated simultaneously or in any desired manner to move the support member 40a between the retracted position and the use position. Although not visible in FIG. 3, the opposing end of the end wall 20 also includes a mirror aperture 64c for receiving the end 44c of support member 40c and the other end wall 18 also includes apertures 64 and 64b.

Once all of the support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c have been moved to the use position, they extend generally diagonally across the corners 21. For example, the first end 42 of support member 40 is supported within side wall 14 and the second end 44 of the support member 40 is supported within the end wall 18. As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, once the support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c are moved to the use position, another crate 10′ can be supported on the support members 40, 40a, 40b, 40c.

In use, the collapsible crate is first configured to its use position as shown in FIG. 1 with the side walls 14, 16 and end walls 18, 20 moved to their upright position, generally perpendicular to the base 12 and secured by the latches 30. The user then presses the tab 46b of the support member 40 inward through the opening 60 from the outside of the crate 10. If needed, the user also actuates the textured surface 75 of the support member 40 through the aperture 64a. This causes pin 74 to slide in second track 54 of the side wall 14 into the third track 56 of the end wall 18. Meanwhile, the pin 72 on the first end 42 of the support member 40 slides and pivots within the first track 52 of the side wall 14 until the support member 40 extends diagonally (i.e. at an oblique angle) from the side wall 14 to the end wall 18. This process is repeated for the other three support members 40a, b, c.

After use and prior to shipping or storage, the crate 10 can be collapsed again by first sliding the support members 40 from the support position back to the retracted position within side wall 14. The textured surface 75 of the end 44 of the support member 40 can be used to initiate or facilitate movement. Support member 40 is placed in the retracted position by pushing on the inner surface of support member 40, sliding the pin 74 through the third track 56 and second track 54 into the fully retracted position. The end walls 18, 20 and side walls 14, 16 are then collapsed onto the base 12 in the normal manner without interference by the support members 40.

Although a preferred embodiment of this invention has been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of this invention. For that reason, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of this invention.