Title:
Method and device for holding objects
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A box for shipping and displaying objects is described. The box is composed of molded pulp material. In one aspect, the box has recesses for receiving objects. The recesses have detents positioned on vertical walls of the recesses. The detents, made of molded pulp material, extend into the recess so that a object has a vertical tangent in contact with the detent when fully inserted into the recess. Desirably, the detents extend over the entire depth of the recess. In one aspect, there are at least two detents in a recess, the detents opposing each other from opposite walls of the recess. In a further aspect, the molded pulp container of the present invention has one or more channels molded across a width of the container for providing added bending stiffness to the container.



Inventors:
Parker, Harold (Elma, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/544128
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
10/05/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/372
International Classes:
B65D85/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (HOWARD HUGHES CENTER, 6060 CENTER DRIVE, TENTH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA, 90045, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A box for holding objects of merchandise comprising; a horizontal generally planar surface defining a plurality of recesses shaped for receiving objects, at least one recess having a wall extending generally vertically downward; and a protrusion extending from the wall into the recess; wherein, the box is composed of molded pulp, and the at least one recess has a width such that, when an object is inserted into the recess, the object substantially permanently deforms at least a part of the protrusion; and, wherein the protrusion is configured such that when an object is fully inserted within the recess, a portion of the deformed protrusion is in contact with a vertical tangent of the object.

2. The box of claim 1, wherein the protrusion extends from the surface downward into the recess.

3. The box of claim 2, wherein the protrusion extends substantially over the full depth of the recess, from the surface to a floor of the recess.

4. The box of claim 1, wherein, the recess has two walls extending vertically downward, and each wall has a protrusion as described in claim 1.

5. The box of claim 4, wherein the protrusions are positioned opposite one another.

6. The box of claim 1, wherein the vertical wall of the box has a thickness, and the protrusion extends between 2 and 4 times the thickness into the recess.

7. The box of claim 6, wherein the aspect ratio of the protrusion is about one.

8. The box of claim 1, wherein the protrusion has a sectional shape that, when viewed from above, includes a portion of a circle.

9. The box of claim 1, wherein the protrusion has an interior face, the interior face being substantially straight and substantially vertical.

10. A method of positioning objects within a box, comprising: providing a pulp molded box having a plurality of recesses for receiving objects; fully inserting a first object within a first recess by inserting the object a first distance into the first recess; and substantially permanently deforming a protrusion on a wall of the first recess over the entire extent of the first distance.

11. The method of claim 10, further including, fully inserting a second object within a second recess by inserting the object a second distance into the second recess, and substantially permanently deforming a protrusion on a wall of the second recess over the entire extent of the second distance.

12. An assembly for holding tools comprising; a surface defining a plurality of recesses shaped for receiving tools; wherein, the assembly is made of molded pulp.

13. The assembly of claim 12, wherein the recesses include means for retaining the tools.

14. An assembly for displaying objects comprising; a generally planar surface defining a plurality of recesses for receiving individual objects, wherein the box is composed of molded pulp material; a channel formed in the surface of the container, the channel extending from one side of the container across to an opposite side, whereby the channel adds bending stiffness to the container.

15. The box of claim 14 wherein each recess has a depth, there is a recess having the greatest depth, and wherein the depth of the channel is about the same as the depth of the deepest recess.

16. The box of claim 14, wherein each channel has a width, and the width is about the same as the depth.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to display containers for shipping and displaying objects of merchandise such as tools. More specifically, the invention relates to a method for configuring a box made of molded pulp, with adequate structure for retaining tools in recesses on the container.

The field of boxes for shipping and displaying merchandise for sale to the public is well developed. In the past, merchandise in the form of metal tools such as sockets, drivers, ratchet handles, pliers, hammers, and the like, were shipped and sold to the public in metal boxes. A purchaser might subsequently use the metal toolbox for permanently storing the tools. Such metal toolboxes commonly included a plastic insert molded to provide a plurality of recessed bays for receiving each tool item, to prevent the tools from sliding or rolling around inside the metal box when the box is moved about.

In more recent times, tool manufacturers have sold tools in containers made entirely of blow molded plastic. Such containers commonly include a number of foldable panels, in which the panels may include recessed bays shaped especially to receive each tool item. A recessed bay may be configured to hold a tool in place with one or more elastically deformable detents molded as an integral part of the plastic container. In a plastic container, a detent, along with the walls of the container on which it is positioned, is typically configured to elastically deform as the tool is being inserted. The tool is pressed beyond a protruding detent, then, once the tool is completely inserted, the detent elastically snaps back and recovers its shape to provide a mechanical barrier that prevents the tool from freely falling out of its bay if the container is inverted. This method of packaging tools for shipping and selling provides a convenient means for displaying the tools when on sale. Where folding panels are provided, the panels can be folded closed while the container is being shipped to provide a compact unit, but may be folded open when on display, to allow the purchaser to inspect the entire contents of the container. Should the container be tipped sideways, the tools will not all tumble to the floor, because they are adequately held in the recesses by the detents. Typically, a transparent sheet may be fixed across the surface of a panel to prevent consumers from tampering with the contents. Commonly, upon purchase, a purchaser may use the plastic container as a permanent storage box for the tools when they are not in use.

For example, FIG. 1 shows a typical prior art display box 20 for tools made from blow molded plastic. The display box 20 has recesses 22 for receiving tools, and detents 24 in the recesses adapted to restrain tools from falling out of the recesses. FIGS. 2-4 show details of the detent mechanism 24 in the prior art used with plastic containers. The detent mechanism 24 is attached to a vertical wall 26 of a recess 22, and is cantilevered generally horizontally from the vertical wall 26 to provide a mechanical obstruction against the tool being removed from its resting place in the recess. (The terms horizontal, above, below, etc. are used herein with reference to the orientation of the containers shown in the figures.) In use, the user of the plastic container inserts a tool 28 into the recess 22 by pushing the tool past the detent 24, temporarily elastically deforming the detent (and to some extent its supporting wall) so that when the tool is in place in the recess, the detent substantially elastically recovers its former shape and snaps back to provide a mechanical restraint against the tool 28 falling out of the recess. In this configuration, the detent is positioned substantially above the tool. To remove the tool, the user must pull the tool upwards past the detent, once again elastically deforming the detent on the way out. However, being elastic, the detent substantially recovers its natural shape once the tool is removed, and snaps back to be positioned for later insertion of the tool again, and so on.

However, it has been identified that, once the blow molded plastic tool box with its contents has been purchased, many users, more especially those associated with large institutional work shops, may simply remove the tools from the plastic container and place the tools in drawers of a metal tool chest. This may create the problem that a durably constructed blow molded plastic tool box is discarded, thereby creating an undesirable environmental impact by introducing into the environment relatively substantial but unwanted structures that may take many decades to degrade or decompose. The same problem arises when a purchaser who initially uses the plastic container as a storage box slowly damages or loses the contents one by one. After a while, such user will typically go out and purchase another set of tools which may also be sold in a blow molded plastic container. Thus, either way, the plastic tool container of the original tool set finds its way into the environment as a discarded item. It is estimated that perhaps millions of such plastic tool containers may find their way into the environment as discarded non-biodegradable items every year.

Therefore, there is a need for a method and a device for packaging metal tools for shipping and display to the public in a way that provides a reduced environmental impact. The present invention addresses these and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, there is described an improved display box that may conveniently be used for shipping and displaying merchandise such as tools.

In its broadest aspects, the invention provides an environmental solution to problems in the field and thus contemplates both packages or boxes of all types, including tool boxes, which are made from materials that degrade or decompose rapidly. One such approach is pulp molded material, which includes generally natural fiber based material, frequently comprising recycled paper products. However, other approaches involving other materials are also contemplated. For example, it is now known that modern plant based plastics are biodegradable.

In a preferred embodiment, the display box has a generally planar surface defining a plurality of recesses. The recess has a vertical wall extending generally perpendicular to the plane of the surface from which a protrusion extends from the wall into the recess. In one aspect, the display box is composed of molded pulp material such that, when a tool is inserted into the recess, the protrusion is deformed by the tool, the deformation being substantially permanent. The protrusion is configured so that when a tool is resting in the recess, a portion of the protrusion is in contact with a vertical tangent of the tool. It has been found that such contact is adequate to provide a satisfactory retention force against the tool falling out of the recess.

In another aspect of the invention, the protrusion extends from the surface downward into the recess, most preferably, it extends substantially over the full depth of the recess, from the planar surface to a floor of the recess. In yet another aspect, the recess has two walls extending generally perpendicular to the plane of the surface, and each wall has a protrusion extending into the recess. Preferably, the protrusions are positioned opposite one another. Dimensionally, the protrusion extends more than three times the thickness of the vertical wall into the recess.

In a final aspect of the invention, the container is molded to have one or more channels that span a width of the container. The channels are configured to add bending stiffness to the container, to support the weight of tools that would otherwise tend to bend the container to detrimental effect when the container is lifted by two lateral edges.

Thus, the display box of the present invention provides a device, system, and method for shipping and displaying objects such as tools that solves the shortcomings of the prior art. These and other advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description thereof and the accompanying exemplary drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a display box of the prior art, conventionally made of blow molded plastic.

FIG. 2 is a detail perspective view of a detent on the display box of FIG. 1

FIG. 3 is a detail front view of the detent of FIG. 2

FIG. 4 is a detail side view of the detent of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a display box having features of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a detent on the display box of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view from the front of the detent of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the detent of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is a plan view of another embodiment of a detent on the display box of FIG. 5.

FIG. 10 is a plan view of yet another embodiment of the detent on the display box of FIG. 5.

FIG. 11 is a view of the detent depicted in FIG. 7, showing a tool in position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the figures which are provided for exemplification only and without limitation, a method and device for shipping and displaying objects of merchandise such as tools is disclosed having aspects of the present invention.

As exemplified in FIG. 5, there is disclosed a display box 40 of the present invention for holding and displaying merchandise such as metal tools that might typically be used in a workshop, such as sockets, pliers, hammers, wrenches, drivers, and the like. In one aspect, the display box 40 has a generally horizontal surface 42 which includes a number of recesses 44, each shaped to receive a tool such as for example one of those mentioned above. In an aspect of the invention, the display box 40 is made of molded pulp material. It will be appreciated that molded pulp, being essentially composed of natural fiber, such as recycled paper, mixed with a glue to bind the composition together, is highly bio-degradable, capable of decomposing to its organic ingredients in a short period of time. This aspect of the invention addresses the problems identified above, where blow molded plastic containers will take many decades to degrade when discarded. It is contemplated that the molded pulp container of the present invention may be discarded shortly after being opened and the tool contents may be removed to a more suitable permanent storage space.

However use of molded pulp to create a display box for the stated purpose introduces problems not encountered by plastic containers. Molded pulp does not exhibit substantially elastic properties when deformed. Rather, deformation imposed on molded pulp tends to be substantially permanent, and there is not substantial elastic shape recovery after the deforming load is removed. Thus, if a detent having the configuration of the detent described above used on a plastic container is used in a molded pulp container, insertion of the tool would simply tend to deform the detent with substantially permanent effect. Thus a tool, pressed into the recess below the level of the above described detent, would not be mechanically well restrained in the recess by structure, and would tend to fall out of the recess should the container be inverted.

Therefore, according to one aspect of the present invention, a detent is configured in a recess of a pulp mold container shaped to receive a tool which is capable of holding the tool to a satisfactory extent during movement of the container. In one aspect of the invention, the detent is configured differently than the plastic detent described above. In the case of the detent of the molded pulp container, as seen exemplified in FIGS. 6-10, the detent 46 is configured so that, when a tool 52 is inserted into the recess 44 (FIG. 11), the detent is dimensioned in relation to the tool such that the tool cannot be pressed downward beyond the level of the detent. Rather, the detent 46 is configured to extend down the side of a vertical wall 48 of the recess 44 so that when the tool comes to rest in the recess, a portion of the detent is still adjacent to and in contact with a vertical tangent of the tool, as exemplified in FIG. 11. Unlike the detent of the plastic container described above, the detent 46 of the pulp molded container is not positioned to be substantially above the tool when the tool is in position within the recess. Thus, although the detent has been permanently deformed to a substantial extent by the tool, the detent is still in contact with the tool when the tool is in position in the recess. It has been found that (particularly if the tool is not removed and reinserted into the recess a second or more times) this contact with a deformed detent is adequate to provide a satisfactory frictional retaining force against the tool to prevent it from falling out of the recess should the container be tipped sideways. Preferably, to produce this effect, a detent may have a substantially uniform cross section from its upper level to its lower level, and may protrude into the recess by an amount between 2 and 4 times the thickness of the vertical wall 48 bearing the detent. In a preferred embodiment of the container of the above invention, the thickness of the molded pulp vertical wall in the vicinity of the detent may desirably be between about 1.5 mm and 3.5 mm thick. Further regarding the preferred shape of a detent, the ratio of the detent's width to the extent of its protrusion (its “aspect ratio”) may be less than about 1.5, and most preferably, about one, to exhibit desirable retention characteristics.

In a preferred aspect of the invention, best exemplified in FIGS. 6-8, the detent 46, positioned on a vertical wall 48 of a recess 44, extends substantially over the full extent of the vertical wall, extending from the horizontal surface 42 of the container down to the floor 50 of the recess. Preferably, the interior face 54 of the detent extending to the floor is substantially straight and substantially vertical. These features ensure that when a tool 52, sized to substantially occupy the width of the recess, is completely inserted in the recess, a portion of the detent (although deformed at this point) is certain to be in contact with a vertical tangent of the tool, as exemplified in FIG. 11. Moreover, because the interior face 54 of the detent is vertical, the incoming tool 52 must deform the detent above the tool.

In another aspect of the invention, the recess includes at least a second detent 47 having the same characteristics as the first detent 46, positioned on a second vertical wall 49 opposing the first vertical wall 48. Preferably, the second detent 47 is positioned opposite the first detent ( as is best seen in FIGS. 7, 9, and 10), so that when a tool is inserted in the recess the tool will be held, in effect, by a frictional pincer force exerted by the two detents 46, 47 that have undergone substantial permanent deformation but that retain sufficient shape to apply the pincer force.

In yet another aspect of the invention, best exemplified in FIGS. 7, 9 and 10, where two detents are provided opposite one another on opposite walls of the recess, the detents are configured to have a cross section, when viewed from above, that includes a portion of a circle to exhibit satisfactory retention characteristics.

In addition to the foregoing features relating to the detents which facilitate the use of molded pulp as a material for making display boxes for tools, another problem that may arise from using molded pulp to replace plastic in this context is that tools, being typically rather heavy, may tend to cause the surface of the container to bend out of plane when the container is lifted up by two lateral edges. Such bending makes the container difficult to handle, and may cause some tools to disengage from their positions within the recesses. To solve this problem, one or more laterally extending channels 52 may be molded into the structure of the container to provide a stiffer cross section to resist lateral bending deformation. The channels extend from one side of a panel of the container to an opposite side. In the container 40 exemplified in FIG. 5, panels 54, 56 and 58 are shown, in which panels 54 and 58 may fold inwardly about hinges 60, 62. Such hinged arrangement is preferred, for providing a compactable display case, but panels 54, 58 may be separate from each other, and folded over panel 56 without the need for hinges. Desirably, the depth of the channel may be the same as the depth of the deepest recess, and its width about the same. The channel and the recesses may be positioned in relation to each other to allow the tools that impinge on the channel to span across the width of the channel.

Thus, the molded pulp container as described provides a valuable solution, device, and method, for shipping and displaying merchandise such as tools and other apparatus. The molded pulp container is environmentally friendly, and will rapidly degrade when discarded. It is lightweight, and therefore less expensive to ship, especially when shipped in bulk with thousands of similar containers with tools. It is inexpensive to manufacture, being itself made of recycled paper product that is available in abundance. It adequately performs the function of holding the tools in a stable condition in the container during shipping and display.

The container 40 of the present invention may be manufactured using mostly conventional techniques, with some modifications to take advantage of the novel aspects of the invention. The present invention may, of course, be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the essential characteristics of the invention. For example, although the invention is well suited to receiving and holding metal tools, it's characteristics are also suited to making feasible the use of molded pulp as the material for display boxes in which receiving and holding the merchandise requires that the merchandise not tip out of a display container when it is moved around. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.





 
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