Title:
DIVISIBLE CARTON WITH KEEL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A divisible carton that includes a keel or partition structure. The divisible carton includes an aperture or access opening in a wall to which the keel is hingedly connected such that the access opening facilitates erecting or positioning the keel. Further, the modules of the divisible carton are detachably connected to one another such that the access opening can also be used as a grip hand hold for pulling the modules apart. The keel is a double ply structure formed from face contacting panels that are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line or by delaminating or otherwise separable detachable sections. The keel is hingedly connected to an inner wall of the carton, extends inwardly into the carton interior, and may be aligned with a frangible line in an optional outer panel.



Inventors:
Merzeau, Julien (Deols, FR)
Application Number:
11/736433
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
04/17/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
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 tubular end loaded carton that is divisible into separate modules, comprising: a first wall formed at least in part from a first panel portion and a second panel portion each having inner side edges that are adjacent to one another; a keel disposed within said tubular structure, said keel comprising a first keel panel and a second keel panel that are in flat face contact with one another, said first keel panel being hingedly connected along said inner side edge to said first panel portion and said second keel panel being hingedly connected along said inner side edge to said second panel portion; and at least one access opening for facilitating manipulation of said keel from the outside of said carton, said at least one opening being defined in at least one of said first and second panel portions.

2. The carton of claim 1, wherein said carton further comprises a second wall that is opposed to said first wall, and said keel includes a distal edge that is spaced apart from said second wall.

3. The carton of claim 2, wherein said first and second keel panels are detachably connected to one another such that said keel is divisible to at least partially define one of said modules of the carton.

4. The carton of claim 3, wherein said keel panels are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line that defines said distal edge of said keel.

5. The carton of claim 3, wherein at least one of said keel panels comprises at least one detachable portion, wherein said at least one detachable portion detachably secures said keel panels to one another.

6. The carton of claim 3, wherein each of said keel panels comprises a detachable portion, wherein said detachable portions are secured to one another to detachably secure said keel panels to one another.

7. The carton (200) of claim 1, wherein said first wall (218/220) comprises an inner ply and an outer ply, said inner ply comprising said first and second panel portions (156, 158), and said outer ply comprising a third panel portion (118) and fourth panel portion (120) that overlap said first and second panel portions (156, 158), respectively.

8. The carton (200) of claim 7, wherein said third and fourth panel portions (118, 120) are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line (128).

9. The carton (200) of claim 7, wherein at least one of said third and fourth panel portions (118, 120) comprises at least one access opening (A1) that aligns with said at least one access opening (A2, A3) in said at least one of said first and second panel portions (156, 158).

10. The carton of claim 7, wherein said frangible line is adjacent to said inner side edges of said first and second panel portions.

11. The carton of claim 10, wherein said third and fourth panel portions comprise an access opening that interrupts said frangible line and that aligns with said at least one access opening.

12. The carton of claim 1, wherein said tubular structure is collapsible into a flat form.

13. The carton of claim 12, wherein in said collapsed condition, said keel is folded such that one of said keel panels is in flat face contact with said at least one of said first and second panel portions and at least partially obstructs said at least one access opening therein.

14. The carton of claim 1, wherein said first and second panel portions are substantially coplanar.

15. The carton of claim 1, further comprising: an end closure structure at least partially enclosing an end of said tubular structure; and stabilizing flaps foldably connected to said first keel panel and to said second keel panel, said stabilizing flaps being secured to said end closure structure to retain the keel in an erected position where the keel is disposed generally perpendicularly to said first wall.

16. A carton, comprising: a tubular structure comprising a first wall formed at least in part from a first panel portion and a second panel portion, said first and second panel portions having respective inner side edges that are adjacent to one another; a keel disposed within said tubular structure, said keel comprising a first keel panel and a second keel panel that are in flat face contact with and are detachably connected to one another, said first keel panel being hingedly connected to said inner side edge of said first panel portion and said second keel panel being hingedly connected to said inner side edge of said second panel portion.

17. The carton of claim 16, wherein at least one of said keel panels comprises a detachable portion that is secured to the other of said keel panels to detachably secure said keel panels to one another.

18. A blank, comprising: a plurality of panels hingedly connected to adjacent ones thereof along transverse fold lines for forming a divisible tubular structure with an inwardly extending keel, comprising: a pair of inner panels for providing an inner layer of a composite wall and a pair of outer panels for providing an outer layer of said composite wall; and a pair of keel panels hingedly connected to one another for forming said keel, each of said pair of keel panels capable of being hingedly connected to one of said inner panels.

19. The blank of claim 18, wherein said keel panels are further detachably connected to one another along a first severance line and said outer panels are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line.

20. The blank of claim 18, wherein at least one of said keel panels includes a detachable portion for detachably securing the keel panels to one another, said detachable portion being defined at least in part by a half cut extending no more than partially through the thickness of said at least one keel panel.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/744,993, filed Apr. 17, 2006, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to cartons, and more specifically to divisible cartons that include a keel or partition.

BACKGROUND

Cartons that are divisible to produce individual carton modules are useful since separation of the modules from one another does not cause either module to be opened but merely detaches the modules from one another so that the modules can be transported, displayed, or sold individually.

Certain divisible cartons include a keel or partition that extends into the divisible carton and separates the articles in one module from those in the other. When the divisible carton is arranged as a tubular structure to enable loading, the keel is to be substantially perpendicular to the wall of the tubular structure to which it is connected to allow articles to be loaded on both sides of the keel without being obstructed by the keel. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that it is difficult to control the position of the keel and, thus, the keel can impede the loading process. What is needed is a divisible carton that includes elements that facilitate controlling the position of the keel. What is further needed is a divisible carton that includes improved means for detachably connecting the modules to one another.

SUMMARY

The various embodiments of the present invention overcome the shortcomings of the prior art by providing a divisible carton that includes a keel or partition structure that can be reliably positioned so as not to impede loading of the carton. The divisible carton includes an aperture or access opening in a wall to which the keel is hingedly connected; the access openings facilitate erecting or positioning the keel. For example, fingers, elements of a packaging machine, or other members can extend through the access openings to position or erect the keel.

Further, the modules of the divisible carton can be detachably connected to one another. In certain embodiments, means for detachably connecting the modules to one another is provided by an outer layer of a composite wall. The outer layer includes a frangible line along which the modules can be separated. The frangible line can extend to end flaps, which are hingedly connected to the outer layer, such that portions of the end flaps are also separated from one another in order to separate the modules. Another frangible line can additionally detachably connect the distal ends of keel panels that define the keel.

Another means for detachably connecting the modules to one another is provided by detachable glue portions. The detachable glue portions are defined in surfaces of the keel panels that are in flat face contact with one another. The detachable glue portions are secured to one another or to the other of the keel panels to form the keel. The detachable glue portions detach from their respective keel panels to facilitate separating the modules from one another.

According to an exemplary embodiment, A carton includes a tubular structure. The tubular structure includes a first wall that includes first and second panel portions. Each of the first and second panel portions includes opposing inner and outer side edges that are adjacent to one another. The carton also includes a keel or partition structure that is disposed within the tubular structure. The keel includes first and second keel panels that are in flat face contact with one another. The first and second keel panels include proximal side edges that are hingedly connected to the inner side edges of the first and second panel portions along fold lines. The carton further includes at least one aperture or access opening that is defined in the first wall or otherwise in one of the first and second panel portions. The access opening is positioned so as to be at least partially closed by the keel or otherwise by one of the keel panels as the keel is folded such that said one of the keel panels is in flat face contact with the one of the first and second panel portions.

In certain exemplary embodiments, the tubular structure includes a second wall that is opposed to the first wall and each of the first and second keel panels includes a distal side edge that opposes a respective proximal side edge. The distal side edges are spaced apart from the second wall.

The first and second keel panels are detachably secured to one another such that the keel is divisible. For example, in an exemplary embodiment, distal side edges of the keel panels are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line. In another exemplary embodiment, one of the keel panels includes a detachable portion that is secured to the other of the keel panels. In other exemplary embodiments, each of the keel panels includes a detachable portion and the detachable portions are secured to one another to detachably secure the keel panels to one another.

Further, the modules of the divisible carton can be detachably secured to one another by a composite wall that includes a frangible line in one of the layers or plies thereof. For example, the first wall can include an inner ply and an outer ply such that the inner ply includes the first and second panel portions and an outer ply includes third and fourth panel portions that overlap the first and second panel portions. The third and fourth panel portions are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line that is adjacent to the inner side edges of the first and second inner panel portions. In such embodiments, at least one of the third and fourth panel portions includes at least one access opening that aligns with the at least one access opening in the at least one of the first and second panel portions. In certain embodiments, the outer layer of the composite wall includes an access opening that interrupts the frangible line.

In certain embodiments, the tubular structure is collapsible into flat form so that it can be conveniently stored and shipped.

The foregoing has broadly outlined some of the aspects and features of the present invention, which should be construed to be merely illustrative of various potential applications of the invention. Other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by combining various aspects of the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of an exemplary blank for forming a divisible carton, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 2-5 are perspective views of a tubular structure formed from the blank of FIG. 1, which illustrate steps of an exemplary method of forming an end closure structure, the tubular structure being shown in partial perspective views in FIGS. 3-5.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are partial end and perspective views of a tear strip.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of another exemplary blank for forming a divisible carton, according to an alternative embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 9-11 are perspective views of a tubular structure formed from the blank of FIG. 8, which illustrate steps of another exemplary method of forming an end closure structure.

FIG. 12 is a plan view of an exemplary blank for forming a divisible carton, according to another alternative embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 13-16 are perspective views of a tubular structure formed from the blank of FIG. 12, which illustrate steps of another exemplary method of forming an end closure structure, the tubular structure being shown in partial perspective views in FIGS. 14-16.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It must be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms, and combinations thereof. As used herein, the word “exemplary” is used expansively to refer to embodiments that serve as illustrations, specimens, models, or patterns. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. In other instances, well-known components, systems, materials, or methods have not been described in detail in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the drawings illustrate certain of the various aspects of exemplary embodiments of a divisible carton that includes a keel or partition structure. The keel is formed from a pair of keel panels that are detachably connected to one another. The divisible carton includes an aperture or access opening in a wall to which the keel is hingedly connected such that the access openings facilitate erecting or positioning the keel, for example, during the process of loading articles into the divisible carton.

Referring to FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of a blank 100 is shown that can be folded and secured to form an exemplary carton 200 (shown in FIG. 5). In the embodiments described herein, the exemplary blanks can be formed from a single sheet of suitable substrate. It is to be understood that, as used herein, the term “suitable substrate” includes all manner of foldable sheet material including paperboard, corrugated board, cardboard, plastic, combinations thereof, and the like. Further, in the illustrated embodiments, a unitary blank is used to form a single carton, although it should be recognized that two or more blanks may be employed, for example, to provide the cartons described in further detail below. Further, the blanks are designed to form cartons for packaging exemplary arrangements of articles. It is envisaged that the blanks can be sized to form cartons for packaging various other articles and/or arrangements of articles.

As used herein, the term fold line refers to all manner of lines that define hinge features of the blank, facilitate folding portions of the blank with respect to one another, or otherwise indicate optimal panel folding locations for the blank. Typically, means for defining a fold line include a scored line, an embossed line, or a debossed line.

The term severance line refer to all manner of lines along that facilitate separating portions of the substrate from one another such as by cutting or tearing or that indicate optimal separation locations. Severance lines may include, for example, frangible or otherwise weakened lines, cut lines, tear lines, or slits.

It should be understood that severance lines and fold lines can each include elements that are formed in the substrate of the blank. For example, such elements can include perforations, a line of perforations, a line of short slits, a line of half-cuts, a single half-cut, a cut line, an interrupted cut line, slits, scores, any combination thereof, and the like. The elements can be dimensioned and arranged to provide the desired functionality. For example, a line of perforations can be dimensioned or designed to provide different degrees of weakness and thereby define a fold line and/or a severance line. The line of perforations can be designed to facilitate folding and resist breaking, to facilitate folding and facilitate breaking with more effort, or to facilitate breaking with little effort.

A plan view of the outside surface of the blank 100 is shown in FIG. 1. The blank 100 includes primary panels that form the walls of a tubular structure of the carton 200, end flaps that form end closure structures W of the carton 200, and keel panels that form the keel of the carton 200. The primary panels and keel panels are aligned along a longitudinal axis of the blank 100 and are hingedly connected one to the next along fold lines that extend transversely with respect to the longitudinal axis. In the exemplary embodiment, the primary panels of the blank 100 include a top panel 112, first and second side panels 114, 116, an outer bottom panel 118/120 that includes first and second outer bottom panel portions 118, 120, and first and second inner bottom panel portions 156, 158. The blank 100 further includes partition panels or keel panels 150, 152.

The inner bottom panel portions 156, 158 provide an inner layer of a composite divisible bottom wall of a carton and the outer bottom panel portions 118, 120 provide an outer layer of the composite divisible bottom wall, as described in further detail below. The inner and outer divisible bottom wall portions 156, 158, 118, 120 each correspond to a module M1, M2 of the divisible carton 200. In other exemplary embodiments, panel portions can define a single layer bottom wall.

The first and second side panels 114, 116 are hingedly connected to opposing side or transverse edges of the top panel 112 along fold lines 122, 124, respectively, and the outer bottom panel 118/120 is hingedly connected to a side edge of the second side panel 116 along a fold line 126. The first and second outer bottom panel portions 118, 120 are detachably connected to one another along a frangible line 128. The first inner bottom panel 156 is hingedly connected to the first side panel 114 along a fold line 164, the first keel panel 150 is hingedly connected to the first inner bottom panel portion 156 along a fold line 160, the first and second keel panels 150, 152 are hingedly and detachably connected to one another along a frangible line 154, and the second keel panel 150 is hingedly connected to the second inner bottom panel portion 158 along a fold line 162.

End flaps are hingedly connected to opposite ends of each of the primary panels and keel panels along longitudinal fold lines. The end flaps can be folded and secured to form end closure structures W at respective open ends of the tubular structure of the carton 200, as described in further detail below. In the exemplary embodiment, the blank 100 is substantially symmetric such that the end flaps that are hingedly connected to the opposite ends of each primary panel and keel panel are substantially similar. Accordingly, the end flaps attached to the opposite ends of each primary panel and keel panel are substantially identical and like references have been used with a suffix “a” or “b” affixed to distinguish one end of the blank 100 from the other. Thus, the description of an element or group of elements having a suffix “a” is suitable for a like-numbered element or group of elements having a suffix “b”. In certain instances, for clarity, only one of the like elements may be described unless a description of the other or both of the like elements is useful for understanding the invention.

A top end flap 130a is hingedly connected to the top panel 112 along a fold line 140a, a first side end flap 132a is hingedly connected the first side panel 114 along a fold line 142a, a second side end flap 134a is hingedly connected to the second side panel 116 along a fold line 144a, and a bottom end flap 136a/138a is hingedly connected to the outer bottom panel 118/120 along a fold line 146a/148a. The bottom end flap 136a/138a includes first and second outer bottom end flap portions 136a, 138a that are detachably connected to one another along the frangible line 128 and that are hingedly connected to the first and second outer bottom panel portions 118, 120 along segments 144a, 146a of the fold line 144a/146a. Further, stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a are hingedly connected to the keel panels 150, 152 along fold lines 180a, 182a, respectively, and inner bottom end flap portions 174a, 176a are hingedly connected to the inner bottom panel portions 156, 156 along fold lines 184a, 186a, respectively. In the exemplary embodiments, the fold lines 184a, 186a are interrupted by congestion relieving apertures N.

Each stabilizing flap 170a, 172a is operatively connected to an adjacent inner bottom end flap portion 174a, 176a by a gusset or connecting tab 188a, 190a. Specifically, one end of the each of the connecting tabs 188a, 190a is hingedly connected to a respective one of the inner bottom end flap portions 174a, 176a along a fold line 194a, 198a and the opposite end of each of the connecting tabs 188a, 190a is hingedly connected to a respective one of the stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a along a fold line 192a, 196a. It should be understood that the fold lines that hingedly connect the opposite ends of the connecting tabs to end flaps are at an acute angle with respect to one another such that the end flaps are operatively folded together, as described in further detail below.

The blank 100 includes an arrangement of frangible lines Fi, Fo that define a detachable portion or tear strip T. Each of the frangible lines Fi, Fo extends transversely between the longitudinal edges of the blank 100 across the top end flap 130a, the top panel 112, and the top end flap 130b. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, in the exemplary embodiment, the arrangement of frangible lines Fi, Fo includes inside frangible lines Fi, which are half cuts disposed in the inside surface of the top panel 112 and the top end flaps 130a, 130b, and outside frangible lines Fo, which are half cuts disposed in the outside surface of the top panel 112 and the top end flaps 130a, 130b. The inside frangible lines Fi and the outside frangible lines Fo are offset from, spaced apart from, or otherwise misaligned with one another. Thereby, the tear strip T is resistant to being broken by an outside force on the frangible lines Fi, Fo or otherwise resists inadvertent operation due to inward pressure on the top panel 112 or top end flaps 130a, 130b when the carton 200 is erected. The tear strip T can be separated from the carton 200 by pulling on an end of tear strip T, as shown in FIG. 7, such that a tear develops between the frangible lines Fi, Fo as is propagated along the length of the tear strip T.

In the exemplary embodiment, the outer bottom panel 118/120 includes an aperture A1, which interrupts the frangible line 128 so as to be partially disposed in each of the outer bottom panel portions 118, 120. Each of the inner bottom panel portions 156, 158 includes apertures A2, A3, which are disposed adjacent to a respective fold line 160, 162. As described in further detail below, the aperture A1 is positioned in the blank 100 such that it aligns with the combination of the apertures A2, A3 when the blank 100 is folded and secured to form the erected divisible carton 200. In addition, the apertures A1, A2, A3 are sized, shaped, and positioned to receive machine elements, human fingers, or other members so as to facilitate erecting a keel or partition.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, to form the divisible carton 200 from the blank 100, an exemplary method is described. The keel panels 150, 152 are folded along the foldable frangible line 154 and along the fold lines 160, 162 such that the outside surfaces of the keel panels 150, 152 are in flat face contact with one another and such that the fold lines 160, 162 are adjacent to one another. Thereby, the keel panels 150, 152 form a divisible separator partition or keel 150/152 that includes a distal edge defined by the foldable frangible line 154. The side edges of the inner bottom panel portions 156, 158, which are defined by the fold lines 160, 162, are disposed adjacent to or are abutting one another such that the inner bottom panel portions 156, 158 define a substantially unitary inner bottom panel 156/158 and such that the apertures A2, A3 define a substantially unitary aperture or access opening A2/A3. Thus, the proximal edge of the keel 150/152 is hingedly connected to the inner bottom panel 156/158 because the side edges of the keel panels 150, 152 are hingedly connected to the side edges of the inner bottom panel portions 156, 158 along the fold lines 160, 162.

To form a collapsed tubular structure, the inside surface of the outer bottom panel 118/120 is secured, using adhesive or other means for securing sheet material, to the outside surface of the inner bottom panel 156/158 to define a composite divisible bottom wall 218/220. According to an exemplary method of accomplishing this step, the inner bottom panel 156/158 is folded along the fold line 164 toward the inside surface of the first side panel 114. Thereby, the keel 150/152 is in flat face contact with both the inner bottom panel 156/158 and the first side panel 114. It should be understood that the keel 150/152 can be folded in either direction such that the keel panel 150 is in flat face contact with the inner bottom panel portion 156 or such that the keel panel 152 is in flat face contact with the inner bottom panel portion 158. Thereafter, the blank 100 is folded along the fold line 124 such that the outer bottom panel 110/120 overlaps the inner bottom panel 156/158. Adhesive is applied between the overlapping bottom panels 118/120, 156/158 such that the overlapping bottom panels 118/120, 156/158 are secured to one another to form the composite bottom wall 218/220.

The outer bottom panel 118/120 and the inner bottom panel 156/158 overlap one another such that the frangible line 128 is adjacent to and aligns with the fold lines 160, 162. Respective inner and outer bottom wall portions 118, 120, 156, 158 are secured to one another on opposite sides of the frangible line 128. Further, the aperture A1 aligns with the access opening A2/A3 to define access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 in the composite bottom wall 218/220.

Additionally, adhesive is applied to secure the outer surface of each the inner bottom end flap portions 174a, 176a to the inside surface of a respective portion of the outer bottom end flap 136a/138a to define a composite bottom end flap 236a/238a. It should be understood that adhesive is not applied to any of the stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a, the connecting tabs 188a, 190a, or the keel panels 150, 152.

It should be noted that, when the tubular structure is in a collapsed form, the keel 150/152 is collapsed so as to be folded into flat face contact with the inner bottom panel portion 156 such that the access opening A1/A3 is at least partially obstructed or so as to be folded into flat face contact with the inner bottom panel portion 158 such that the access opening A1/A2 is at least partially obstructed.

The collapsed tubular structure can be erected to form a tubular structure, as shown in FIG. 2, that includes the divisible bottom wall 218/220, a top wall defined by top panel 112, a first side wall defined by first side panel 114, and a second side wall defined by second side panel 116. The keel 150/152 can thereafter be erected from a collapsed condition, where the keel 150/152 is in flat face contact with the divisible bottom wall 218/220 such that one of the access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 is at least partially obstructed by the keel 150/152. The access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 are positioned substantially adjacent to the proximal end of the keel 150/152 such that the access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 allow access to the keel 150/152 from the outside of the tubular structure.

Articles (not shown) are typically loaded through the open ends of the erected tubular structure when arranged as shown in FIG. 2. To load articles through the open ends, the keel 150/152 is erected so as to be substantially perpendicular to the divisible bottom wall 218/220. The keel 150/152 can be erected as machine elements or human fingers are received in one or both of the access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 so as to contact one or both sides of the keel 150/152. Articles can thereafter be properly loaded without causing damage to the carton, without causing damage to the articles, and without interrupting the packaging process. Upon, or during the process of, loading articles into the divisible carton 200, the machine elements can be removed from the access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 and the articles themselves will contact opposite sides of the keel 150/152 to maintain the keel 150/152 in an erected position. Further, the erected position of the keel 150/152 is fixed during the process of forming the end closure structures W of the divisible carton 200, as described in further detail below.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5, the end closure structures W of the divisible carton 200 are formed according to an exemplary method. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a is folded outwardly so as to be substantially perpendicular to the divisible composite bottom wall 218/220. In folding the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a as such, the connecting tabs 188a, 190a, which are hingedly connected to the inner bottom end flaps 136a, 138a, position the stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a so as to be substantially coplanar with the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a and thereby partially close an open end of the divisible carton 200. In this position, the stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a are substantially perpendicular to the keel 150/152 and function to maintain the keel 150/152 in a position that is substantially perpendicular to the divisible composite bottom wall 218/220 as the end closure structures W of the divisible carton 200 are additionally formed.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the top end flap 130a and the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a are folded inwardly so as to be substantially coplanar with one another. Respective portions of the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a are thereby in a face contacting relationship with, and are secured to, respective ones of the stabilizing flaps 170a, 172a. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the side end flaps 132a, 134a are folded inwardly to overlap corresponding portions of the top end flap 130a and to overlap respective portions of the composite bottom end flap 236a/238a. The overlapping portions of the end flaps are secured to one another to form the end closure structure W of the divisible carton 200. It should be understood that the side end flaps 132a, 134a do not overlap the segments of the frangible lines Fo, Fi that extend across the top end flap 130a or otherwise do not overlap the portion of the tear strip T that is defined in the top end flap 130a. Thus, the tear strip T is not obstructed as it is detached from the divisible carton 200.

To separate the divisible carton 200 into modules M1, M2, the tear strip T is detached along the frangible lines Fi, Fo and the modules M1, M2 are pulled apart to break the frangible lines 128, 154 and thereby separate the divisible bottom wall 218/220, the composite bottom end flaps 236a/238a, and the keel 150/152. The access openings A1/A2, A1/A3 can be used to grip the modules M1, M2 of the divisible carton 200 to pull apart the modules M1, M2. Upon separation of the modules M1, M2, each module M1, M2 includes a respective portion of the keel 250, 252, a respective portion of the composite bottom end flap 236a, 238a, and a respective portion of the composite bottom wall 218, 220. Since the keel portions 250, 252 do not extend to the top wall 212, the articles are displayed in the individual modules M1, M2 and are accessible through openings between the keel 250, 252 and the top wall 212.

Other exemplary embodiments are illustrated in FIGS. 8-11 and FIGS. 12-16. Certain elements in each of the embodiments are substantially similar to one another such that the description of the element with respect to the first exemplary embodiment is sufficient for elements with respect to the second and third embodiments. These elements will be similarly numbered for each of the embodiments and will not be described in detail for the second and third embodiments. To differentiate between the embodiments, element numbers that are used in the first embodiment are increased by a factor of two hundred for the second embodiment and are increased by a factor of four hundred for the third embodiment. For example, the top panel 112 in the first embodiment is designated as top panel 312 in the second embodiment and top panel 512 in the third embodiment. For clarity, the description of the second and third embodiments will focus on the new features thereof.

In a second exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 8-11, a blank 300 (shown in FIG. 8) is illustrated that can be folded and secured to form a carton 400 (shown in FIG. 11). The blank 300 includes connecting tabs C1, C2 which are hingedly connected between the side end flaps 332a, 334a and a respective one of the top end flap 330a and bottom end flap portions 374a, 338a. Specifically, a first end of each of the bottom connecting tabs C1 is hingedly connected to one of the bottom end flap portions 374a, 338a along a fold line E1 and a second end of each of the bottom connecting tabs C1 is hingedly connected to one of the side end flaps 332a, 334a along a fold line E2. Similarly, a first end of each of the top connecting tabs C2 is hingedly connected to the top end flap 330a along a fold line E3 and a second end of each of the top connecting tabs C2 is hingedly connected to one of the side end flaps 332a, 334a along a fold line E4. The connecting tabs C1, C2 facilitate positioning the side end flaps 332a, 334a to form the end closure structures.

The blank 300 also includes corner panels P, which are disposed between one of the side panels 314, 316 and a respective one of the side end flaps 332a, 334a. Specifically each of the corner panels P is hingedly connected to one of the side panels 314, 316 along a fold line E5 and is hingedly connected to a respective one of the side end flaps 332a, 334a along a fold line E6.

A collapsible tubular structure can be formed from the blank 300 according to the method described above for the blank 100. Thus, the tubular structure includes a composite bottom wall 418/420 formed from the outer and inner bottom wall portions 318, 320, 356, 358. Further, composite bottom end flaps 436a/438a are formed from the outer and inner bottom wall end flap portions 336a, 338a, 374a, 376a.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, as the top end flap 330a and the composite bottom end flap 436a/438a are each folded outwardly to be substantially perpendicular to the top and bottom walls 312, 418/420 of the divisible carton 400, the connecting tabs C1, C2 cause the side end flaps 332a, 334a to fold inwardly to be substantially coplanar with the top end flap 330a and the composite bottom end flap 436a/438a. Further, as the composite bottom end flap 436a/438a is folded outwardly, connecting tabs 388a, 390a, which are hingedly connected to both the stabilizing flaps 370a, 372a and the inner bottom end flaps 374a, 376a, respectively, function to fold the stabilizing flaps 370a, 372a towards the open end of the divisible carton 400 such that the stabilizing flaps 370a, 372a are substantially coplanar with the top end flap 330a, the composite bottom end flap 436a/438a, and the side end flaps 332a, 334a. In the exemplary embodiment, a portion of each of the stabilizing flaps 370a, 372a overlaps a portion of a respective one of the side end flaps 332a, 334a. Referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, the top end flap 330a and the composite bottom end flaps 336a/374a, 338a/376a are folded inwardly to overlap the side end flaps 332a, 334a and the stabilizing flaps 370a, 372a. Overlapping portions of the end flaps are secured to one another and, thereby, the end closure structures W are formed.

Referring to FIGS. 12-16, in another alternative embodiment, a blank 500 (shown in FIG. 12) can be folded and secured to form a divisible carton 600 (shown in FIG. 16). In this embodiment, the keel panels are hingedly connected along the outermost longitudinal side edges of the series of primary panels. Specifically, first and second keel panels 550, 552 are hingedly connected to first and second bottom panel portions 556, 558 along fold lines 560, 562, respectively. Stabilizing flaps 570a, 572a are hingedly connected to end edges of each keel panel 550, 552 along fold lines 580a, 582a, respectively.

Each stabilizing flap 570a, 572a is connected to an adjacent bottom flap portion 574a, 576a by a connecting tab 588a, 590a, respectively. Opposing ends of each of the connecting tab 588a, 590a are hingedly connected to one of the bottom flap portions 574a, 576a and to one of the stabilizing flaps 570a, 572a along fold lines, respectively.

Each of the keel panels 550, 552 include a detachable glue portion G1, G2 defined by a frangible line 581, 583, respectively. The frangible lines 581, 583 are extensively weakened such as by a continuous half cut or a series of half cuts which enable a layer, that is an outermost lamination, of the detachable glue portion G1, G2 to easily be lifted or peeled away from a layer that is an inner lamination. Thus, the frangible lines 581, 583 need not extend through the entire thickness of the keel panel 550, 552. Further, each bottom panel 556, 558 includes an aperture A1, A2 which is at least partially defined by the fold line 560, 562, respectively.

Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, in this embodiment, a composite layer defined by an outer bottom panel is not needed to hold the bottom panel portions 556, 558 together and is thus omitted. A tubular structure is formed by gluing or securing the detachable glue portions G1, G2 of the keel panels 550, 552 together to form a keel 550/552. The keel 550/552 is erected as described above by inserting machine elements through the apertures or access openings A1, A2. Referring to FIGS. 13-16, the end closures of the divisible carton 600 are formed in substantially the same manner as described above.

The divisible carton 600 is divided into modules M1, M2 by detaching the tear strip T and pulling the modules M1, M2 apart such that one or both of the glue portions G1, G2 are detached from the respective keel panel 550, 552. The access openings can provide a hand hold for grasping the modules and separating the panels of the keel.

The above-described embodiments are merely exemplary illustrations of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Variations, modifications, and combinations may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the claims. All such variations, modifications, and combinations are included herein by the scope of this disclosure and the following claims.