Title:
Protective cartridge case having zero-tension latch
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge is provided. The protective cartridge case includes a housing having a top and bottom portion for enclosing a storage cartridge, the top and bottom portions having major surfaces that oppose each other along a vertical direction, and a latch member for selectively securing the top portion and bottom portion in a closed position. The latch member secures the top and bottom portion in a closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the horizontal direction.



Inventors:
Hoge, David T. (Westminster, CO, US)
Faulkner, William E. (Broomfield, CO, US)
Kuhar, James J. (Carlsbad, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/709445
Publication Date:
08/21/2008
Filing Date:
02/21/2007
Assignee:
Quantum Corporation (San Jose, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REYNOLDS, STEVEN ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER BOTTS L.L.P. (2001 ROSS AVENUE SUITE 900, DALLAS, TX, 75201-2980, US)
Claims:
1. A protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge having at least one reel, the protective cartridge case comprising: a housing for enclosing a storage cartridge, the housing including a top portion and a bottom portion having major surfaces that oppose each other along a vertical direction when in a closed position, a latch member for selectively securing the top portion and bottom portion in the closed position, wherein the latch member secures the top and bottom portion in the closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the horizontal direction.

2. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, wherein the latch member comprises a ridge feature for engaging a latch catch feature for catching the ridge feature of the latch member in a closed position.

3. The protective cartridge case of claim 2, wherein the ridge feature of the latch member is adapted for passing by the catch feature to a closed position in response to a forced applied to the latch member.

4. The protective cartridge case of claim 2, wherein the latch member is rotatably attached to the top portion and the latch catch feature is associated with the bottom portion.

5. The protective cartridge case of claim 2, wherein the latch member further secures the top and bottom portion in the closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the vertical direction.

6. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, further comprising a first absorbing member disposed adjacent the major surface of the top portion.

7. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, further comprising a second absorbing member disposed adjacent the major surface of the bottom portion.

8. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, further comprising a third absorbing member disposed adjacent a first minor surface of the housing and positioned to oppose at least one minor surface of the storage cartridge.

9. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, wherein substantially zero tension comprises a tension of less than 1 pound-force.

10. The protective cartridge case of claim 1, wherein substantially zero tension comprises a tension of less than 0.1 pound-force.

11. A protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge having at least one reel, the protective cartridge case comprising: a housing for enclosing a storage cartridge, the housing including a top portion and a bottom portion having major surfaces that oppose each other along a vertical direction when in a closed position, a latch member for selectively securing the top portion and bottom portion in the closed position, wherein the latch member secures the top and bottom portion in the closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the vertical direction.

12. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, wherein the latch member comprises a ridge feature for engaging a latch catch feature for catching the ridge feature of the latch member in a closed position.

13. The protective cartridge case of claim 12, wherein the ridge feature of the latch member is adapted for passing by the catch feature to a closed position in response to a forced applied to the latch member.

14. The protective cartridge case of claim 12, wherein the latch member is rotatably attached to the top portion and the latch catch feature is associated with the bottom portion.

15. The protective cartridge case of claim 12, wherein the latch member further secures the top and bottom portion in the closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the horizontal direction.

16. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, further comprising a first absorbing member disposed adjacent the major surface of the top portion.

17. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, further comprising a second absorbing member disposed adjacent the major surface of the bottom portion.

18. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, further comprising a third absorbing member disposed adjacent a first minor surface of the housing and positioned to oppose at least one minor surface of the storage cartridge.

19. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, wherein substantially zero tension comprises a tension of less than 1 pound-force.

20. The protective cartridge case of claim 11, wherein substantially zero tension comprises a tension of less than 0.1 pound-force.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to protective cases for storage media devices, and more specifically to protective cases for containing and protecting storage tape cartridges having one or more reels.

2. Related Art

Magnetic tape cartridges have been used to conveniently and efficiently store and handle magnetic recording media for tape drives. One type of tape cartridge consists of a substantially rectangular exterior cartridge housing and a single reel containing a magnetic tape positioned within the housing. The cartridge housing includes an upper housing section and a lower housing section which substantially enclose the magnetic tape, which includes a cartridge leader. The cartridge leader becomes exposed through an opening in the cartridge housing during insertion of the cartridge into the tape drive. The tape drive is then able to engage and retrieve the tape from the cartridge for recording and/or playback.

Such cartridges are generally contained in a cartridge case or container when they are transported or stored outside of a drive or storage library. The cartridge case is typically formed of a rigid plastic material, such as polypropylene or the like, through a suitable injection molding process. Further, the cartridge case generally includes a container body and a lid which is connected to one edge of the container body by way of a thin hinge portion such that the lid may rotate to open and close the container body. The lid generally snaps into a closed position, thereby protecting the housed cartridge from dust and other contamination.

A conventional cartridge case is described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,443,304, entitled “Cassette Container.” The cartridge case therein generally includes a container body having a lid member connected to the container body by way of a hinge to open and close the container body for housing a cassette or cartridge therein. Conventional cartridge cases such as that disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,443,304, however, provide little protection to a cartridge therein due to a shock event, such as being dropped (which may cause damage to the cartridge or media therein resulting in lost data). Accordingly, a cartridge case providing greater protection due to shock events is desired.

BRIEF SUMMARY

In one aspect and example the invention, a protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge having at least one reel is provided. The protective cartridge case includes a housing for enclosing the storage cartridge therein, the housing including a top portion and a bottom portion having opposing major inner surfaces in a closed position. The protective case further including a first absorbing member disposed adjacent the inner surface of the top portion and a second absorbing member disposed adjacent the inner surface of the bottom portion. In a closed position the first and second absorbing members are disposed adjacent major surfaces of a storage cartridge disposed therein for absorbing shock and providing cushioning to the major surfaces of the storage cartridge in response to a shock event.

In some examples, the protective cartridge case may include additional absorbing members disposed adjacent minor side surfaces of the housing. The additional absorbing members are further disposed adjacent minor side surfaces of the storage cartridge and reduce forces and provide cushioning to the minor side surfaces of the storage cartridge in response to a shock event. The protective cartridge case may thereby provide protection to the storage cartridge along the axis of the reel as well as other directions (e.g., along the minor side surfaces).

The absorbing members may include foam, rubber, spring members, living springs, or other elastic structures and/or materials. In some examples, absorbing members (e.g., foam) are attached to the housing via adhesive or a friction fit. In other examples, absorbing members (e.g., living spring) are comolded or integrally formed with housing portions.

According to another example, a protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge includes a housing for enclosing a tape cartridge having a reel disposed therein, the housing including a top portion and a bottom portion having opposing major inner surfaces in a closed position and living springs disposed on the inner surface of the top or bottom portion, the living springs for engaging a portion of the storage cartridge and flexing to provide protection to the storage cartridge (e.g., in response to a shock event). Additional living springs may be included with the top and bottom portion with the major inner surfaces or minor side surfaces thereof to provide protection to a storage cartridge therein.

According to another aspect and example of the invention, a protective cartridge case includes a housing having a top and bottom portion for enclosing a storage cartridge, the top and bottom portions having major surfaces that oppose each other along a vertical direction, and a latch member for selectively securing the top portion and bottom portion in a closed position, wherein the latch member secures the top and bottom portion in a closed position with substantially zero tension on the latch member in the horizontal direction.

The present invention is better understood upon consideration of the detailed description below in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an exemplary protective cartridge case having absorbing members disposed therein;

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary protective cartridge case with a storage cartridge disposed therein in a closed position;

FIG. 3A illustrates exemplary absorbing members for a protective cartridge case;

FIG. 3B illustrates an exemplary shell portion of a protective cartridge case having a body portion and a lid portion;

FIGS. 3C and 3D illustrate exemplary absorbing members for use with a protective cartridge case;

FIG. 4 illustrates another exemplary protective cartridge case having absorbing members disposed therein;

FIG. 5 illustrates another exemplary protective cartridge case having absorbing members disposed therein; and

FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary zero tension latch for a protective cartridge case.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is presented to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the various aspects and examples of the inventions. Descriptions of specific materials, techniques, and applications are provided only as examples. Various modifications to the examples described herein will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, and the general principles defined herein may be applied to other examples and applications without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limiting to the examples described and shown, but is to be accorded the scope consistent with the appended claims.

Broadly speaking, and in one example, a protective cartridge case for housing a storage cartridge having at least one reel is described. The protective cartridge case includes a housing for enclosing the storage cartridge therein, the housing including a top portion and a bottom portion. The protective case further includes a first absorbing member disposed adjacent a major surface of the top portion and a second absorbing member disposed adjacent a major surface of the bottom portion. The absorbing members provide protection to a storage cartridge (to both the media and the cartridge housing/mechanics) within the housing during a shock event, such as being dropped. Absorbing members may be disposed to protect the storage cartridge along the axis of the reel and protect the storage cartridge housing on all axes.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an exemplary protective cartridge case 10 having absorbing members disposed therein. Additionally, FIGS. 2, 3A, and 3B, which is preferably referenced in combination with FIG. 1, illustrates a cross-sectional view and exploded views respectively of the protective cartridge case 10 with a storage cartridge 60 disposed therein.

Protective cartridge case 10 generally includes a bottom portion 12 and a top portion 14 connected through a flexible portion 31 such that they rotate relative to each other for selectively enclosing a cartridge 60 therein. The bottom portion 12 and top portion 14 may be secured in a closed position by a latch member 40, in this instance included with top portion 14 and adapted for engaging with a catch feature 44 of bottom portion 12.

Bottom portion 12 and top portion 14 further include major (as opposed to minor or side surfaces) inner surfaces 13 and 15 respectively. In a closed position, inner surfaces 13 and 15 oppose each other along a vertical direction 90, where direction 90 is associated with an axis of rotation of a reel of cartridge 60 when disposed therebetween. Inner surfaces 13 and 15 are generally substantially perpendicular to direction 90 and substantially parallel to each other. Disposed adjacent inner surface 15 of top portion 14 and inner surface 13 of bottom portion 12 are absorbing members 20 and 22. Absorbing members 20 and 22 are disposed adjacent top and bottom major surfaces 62 of cartridge 60 (see FIG. 2) in a closed position for protecting cartridge 60 (e.g., absorbing energy by compressing) in response to a shock event that results in forces along direction 90.

Absorbing members 20 and 22 need not physically contact cartridge 60 when in a closed position. For example, the spacing between opposing surfaces of absorbing members 20 and 22 along direction 90 may be slightly larger than the height of cartridge 60 (e.g., the height of cartridge 60 along the length of minor side surface 64 of cartridge 60). In other examples, however, the spacing between opposing surfaces of absorbing members 20 and 22 in a closed position may be equal to or slightly less than the height of cartridge 60 such that one or both of the absorbing members compress slightly in a closed position. In yet other examples, a feature or layer may be disposed between cartridge 60 and one or both of absorbing members 20 and 22 such that the major surfaces 62 of cartridge 60 are not in physical contact with absorbing members 20 and 22 during a shock event or in a closed position.

Protective cartridge case 10 further includes absorbing members 24 disposed with bottom portion 12 and adjacent opposing minor side surfaces 12s thereof. Absorbing members 24 are disposed, at least primarily, for absorbing energy in response to a shock event that results in forces along a direction perpendicular to direction 90. In this example each absorbing member 24 includes a central portion for opposing the other absorbing member 24 and adjacent to minor side surfaces 64 of cartridge 60 disposed therein. Each absorbing member 24 further includes end portions 26 disposed adjacent the opposing minor side surfaces 64 of cartridge 60 not adjacent the central portion of member 24 to provide protection for the remaining sides surfaces 64 of cartridge 60.

Thus, the combination of absorbing members 20, 22, and 24 are configured to cushion cartridge 60 and absorb energy from a shock event (e.g., from dropping cartridge case 10 containing cartridge 60) on all sides of cartridge 60 (e.g., the opposing major surfaces-62 and the four minor side surfaces 64).

In other examples, the absorbing members may vary in shape or configuration from that shown. For example, absorbing members 24c shown in FIG. 3C, generally similar to absorbing members 24 without end portions 26, may be disposed around minor inner surfaces 12s of bottom portion 12 to provide support to minor surfaces 62 of cartridge 60.

Additionally or alternatively, in another example, absorbing members 24d shown in FIG. 3D may be disposed at the corners of bottom portion 12 to support the minor surfaces 62 of cartridge 60. Alternatively or additionally, absorbing members (e.g., 24, 24c, and/or 24d) may be disposed with top portion 14 and disposed for supporting side surfaces 62 of cartridge 60.

In this example absorbing members 20 and 22 are substantially rectangular shaped (see, e.g., FIG. 3A for a more detailed view); however, other shapes or configurations are possible and contemplated. For example, multiple absorbing members may be disposed with each of inner surfaces 13 and 15 for opposing major surfaces 64 of cartridge 60. Further, in other examples absorbing members 20 and 22 may have difference shapes, e.g., circular, oval, and so on.

Absorbing members used with cartridge case 10, e.g., absorbing members 20, 22, and 24 may include various absorbing materials such as closed or open cell foam (e.g., manufactured by Santoprene), rubber, overmolded features (e.g., as detailed with respect to FIG. 5 below), spring members, leaf springs, living springs (e.g., as detailed with respect to FIG. 4 below), or other suitable materials for absorbing shock and protecting a cartridge. In one example, the absorbing members 20, 22, and 24 include foam having a thickness of between 0.1 and 1.0 inches, and having a density between 1.7 and 2.2 lbs/ft3. Of course, other thicknesses and densities are possible and contemplated.

Further, the material, thickness, and spring constant of absorbing members 20 and 22 may vary from that of absorbing members 24. For example, because of the varying surface area of the surfaces of a cartridge and the desired protection along particular directions, the thickness, density, spring constant value, shape, etc. of absorbing members 24 may vary from that of absorbing members 20 and 22.

In one example, bottom portion 12, top portion 14, flexible portion 31, and latch member 40 are integrally formed of any suitable material such as polypropylene (with an impact modifier), polycarbonate, or the like, through well-known injection molding processes. Additionally, various other features such as column 18 (or living springs described below with respect to FIG. 4) may be comolded therewith. In other examples, however, various portions may be made by other processes or made separately and coupled together.

Further, the bottom portion 12 and top portion 14 may include features, e.g., ridges or tabs for engaging absorbing members in a snap fit, friction fit or otherwise. Additionally, absorbing members 20 and 22 may be affixed to inner surfaces 13 and 15 via an adhesive. In one example, bottom portion includes features 18, e.g., columns or pins, for mating with absorbing member 24 to aid in securing absorbing members 24 in place, particularly when a cartridge 60 is not present.

FIG. 4 illustrates another exemplary protective cartridge case 410 having absorbing members disposed therein. Protective cartridge case 410 is similar to that of protective cartridge case 10, however, in this instance multiple living springs 420a-420e are disposed with bottom portion 412 adjacent portions of cartridge 60 disposed therein.

In this example, living springs 420a-420e are disposed adjacent corners and minor side surfaces 62 of cartridge 60 disposed therein. Although not shown for each corner of cartridge 60, two living springs are positioned with bottom portion 410 at each corner of cartridge 60. Additionally or alternatively, living springs may be positioned with top portion 414 in a similar or complimentary fashion as living springs 420a-d shown with bottom portion 412.

Cartridge 60 sits on living springs 420a-420e such that cartridge 60 is suspended slightly from the interior surface 413. Living springs 420a-420e flex in response to a shock event to protective cartridge case 410, thereby providing protecting to cartridge 60. In this particular example, living springs 420a-420e are formed as round tapered columns with sufficient flexibility to flex in response to a shock event. Further, living springs 420a-420e positioned at the corners of cartridge 60 may flex in response to forces both along the reel axis direction and perpendicular thereto to provide protection to cartridge 60 along all directions.

Living springs 420a-420e may have various other shapes, e.g., squared column, strip, fin, domed features (e.g., separate or molded into the sides or top and bottom portions 412, 414), and the like operable to support cartridge 60 and provide shock absorbent protection to a cartridge therein. In one example, protective cartridge case 410 is formed integrally with living springs 420a-420e through conventional injection molding techniques. The dimensions of living springs 420a-420e may be varied depending on the particular storage cartridge to be contained therein, the dimensions of cartridge case 410, flexibility of the material forming living springs 420a-420e, desired shock protection, and so on. Additionally, living springs 420a-420e may be solid or hollow members.

Additionally, cartridge case 410 may include additional shock absorbing members disposed with bottom portion 412 and/or top portion 414. For example, cartridge case 410 may include absorbing members similar or identical to those shown and described with respect to FIGS. 1 or FIG. 5 (described below). Additionally or alternatively, cartridge case 410 may further include living springs oriented to extend from the minor side surface(s) of cartridge 60.

FIG. 5 illustrates another exemplary protective cartridge case 510 having multiple absorbing members 520 and 522 disposed therein for supporting a cartridge. In particular, in this example, cartridge case 510 includes absorbing members 520 and 522 disposed with major inner surfaces 513 and 515 of bottom portion 512 and top portion 514 respectively for cushioning major surfaces of a cartridge during a shock event. Absorbing members 520 and 522 in this example are disposed near the corners of the inner surfaces 513 and 515 and may include various elastic materials such as foam, rubber, overmolded features, leaf springs, and the like for providing shock absorbency in a direction substantially parallel to the axis of rotation of the cartridge reel disposed therein, i.e., direction 590.

In other examples, one or more absorbing members 520 and 522 may be overmolded (or otherwise disposed) on the exterior of the cartridge housing to provide support. For example, absorbing members 520 and 522 may be similarly disposed on the exterior surfaces of bottom portion 512 and bottom portion 514. For example, with reference to FIG. 6, two exterior members 520e and 522e are shown. Additionally, absorbing members may be overmolded on the exterior minor side surfaces of cartridge case 510. Accordingly, various portions or the entire exterior of cartridge case 510 may be overmolded (or otherwise disposed) with an elastic material to provide shock absorbency as described herein.

Additionally, cartridge case 510 includes absorbing members 530a and 530b for supporting minor surfaces of a cartridge. Absorbing members 530a and 530b may include living springs as described with reference to FIG. 4. Absorbing members 530a and 530b may be comolded with bottom portion 512 and top portion 514 respectively or coupled thereto.

Additionally, bottom portion 512 includes a reel support member 524 for supporting or engaging a reel of a cartridge disposed therein. For example, reel support member 524 may include a spring for co-locating and supporting the reel of a cartridge during a shock event, particularly, a shock event along direction 590 (e.g., if dropped on the top or bottom major surface of cartridge case 510). In one example, reel support member 524 may include a suspension spring that is snapped into a molded feature of the bottom portion 512. In other examples, reel support member 524 may include other materials such as the same or similar materials used for absorbing members 520 or 522.

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary latch member 40 for use with protective cartridge case 10. Protective cartridge case 10 is similar to that of FIG. 1, however it will be recognized by one of ordinary skill in the art that the exemplary latch member 40 may be used with various other cartridge cases including those disclosed herein such as cartridge case 410 or 510.

Broadly speaking, latch member 40 selectively secures bottom portion 12 and top portion 14 of cartridge case 10 in a closed position. Further, latch member 40 operates to secure cartridge case 10 in a closed position with substantially no tension, e.g., under zero-tension when in the closed position. For example, latch member 40 requires force in a horizontal direction (as shown in FIG. 6) to close or open latch member 40, in particular, to force ridge feature 42 of latch member 40 over latch catch feature 44 associated with bottom portion 12. However, latch member 40 is under substantially zero tension (e.g., zero tension or at least relatively minimal tension compared to the force required to open latch 40) in the horizontal direction when latch member 40 is in a closed position.

In one example, a force of approximately 4 pounds is required to release latch member 40 (i.e., force ridge feature 42 over catch feature 44). The tension in the horizontal direction of latch member 40 (when in a closed position) is substantially less than the force required to release latch member 40 (in this example, 4 pounds of force). For example, the tension in the horizontal direction is less than 1 pound-force in one example, less than 0.5 pound-force in another example, less than 0.1 pound-force in another example, and zero in another example.

Additionally, in one example the tension in the vertical direction is generally a function of the interference fit (e.g., compression) of the cartridge therein and the absorbing members 20 and 22. The interference fit may be minimized by designing the features line-to-line, thereby reducing the vertical tension on the latch. In one example, the force in the vertical direction is less than 1 pound-force, less than 0.5 pound-force in another example, less than 0.1 pound-force in another example, and zero in another example.

Reducing or eliminating tension in latch member 40 may be desirable because tension in latch member 40 may act as a spring releasing stored energy in a shock or drop event of cartridge case 10. In particular, if latch member 40 is under tension (having energy stored therein), a shock event may cause the release of latch member 40 and potentially causing cartridge case 10 to open (as opposed to latch member 40 merely becoming disengaged). For example, the force of latch member 44 snapping open, if under tension, may cause the protective storage case 10 to open and expose a storage cartridge therein.

The above detailed description is provided to illustrate various examples and is not intended to be limiting. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modification and variations within the scope of the present invention are possible. For example, various examples described herein may be combined and altered. Further, numerous other devices and processes not explicitly described herein may be used with the exemplary cartridges and locking mechanisms described as will be recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art. Additionally, within the description, particular examples have been discussed and how these examples are thought to address certain disadvantages in related art. This discussion is not meant, however, to restrict the various examples to methods and/or systems that actually address or solve the disadvantages. Accordingly, the present invention is defined by the appended claims and should not be limited by the description herein.