Title:
CARTON HAVING MODIFIED END FLAPS FOR IMPROVED STACKING STRENGTH AND INCLUDING EASY OPENING FEATURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carton having improved structural integrity and stacking strength and an easy opening feature. The carton is formed from a paperboard blank having modified end panels that provide improved stacking strength and includes perforations arranged along a top panel of the carton to provide an easy opening feature for the carton.



Inventors:
Gasior, Wayne P. (Duluth, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/266685
Publication Date:
05/14/2009
Filing Date:
11/07/2008
Assignee:
Georgia-Pacific Corrugated LLC (Atlanta, GA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D17/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ELKINS, GARY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Georgia-Pacific LLC (133 Peachtree Street NE GA030-23, ATLANTA, GA, 30303, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A carton, comprising: a top panel; a bottom panel; a first side panel; a second side panel; a first end wall defined by a first side panel top end flap and a second side panel top end flap wherein the first side panel top end flap and the second side panel top end flap define a first interface having a first portion, a second portion and an inclined third portion connecting the first portion with the second portion; and a second end wall defined by a first side panel bottom end flap and a second side panel bottom end flap wherein the first side panel bottom end flap and the second side panel bottom end flap define a second interface having a fourth portion, a fifth portion and an inclined sixth portion connecting the fourth portion with the fifth portion.

2. The carton of claim 1 wherein the inclined third portion intersects the first portion and the second portion at an angle between about 30 degrees and abut 60 degrees.

3. The carton of claim 2 wherein the inclined third portion intersects the first portion and the second portion at an angle of about 45 degrees.

4. The carton of claim 2 wherein the inclined sixth portion intersects the fourth portion and the fifth portion at an angle between about 30 degrees and abut 60 degrees.

5. The carton of claim 4 wherein the inclined sixth portion intersects the fourth portion and the fifth portion at an angle of about 45 degrees.

6. The carton of claim 4 wherein the top panel includes a perforation extending about an area in the top panel defining an opening area to allow access to an interior portion of the carton.

7. The carton of claim 6 wherein the perforation extends from a first point adjacent to the first side panel to a spaced apart second point adjacent to the first side panel.

8. The carton of claim 7 wherein the perforation includes a generally arcuate portion extending from the first point to a generally longitudinally extending portion, and a first laterally extending portion extending from the second point to the generally longitudinally extending portion.

9. The carton of claim 8 further including a second perforation extending generally parallel to the generally longitudinally extending portion between the generally arcuate portion and the first laterally extending portion.

10. The carton of claim 8 further including a first generally linear perforation extending as a chord of the generally arcuate portion.

11. The carton of claim 10 further including a second generally linear perforation extending generally parallel to the first generally linear perforation.

12. A blank, comprising: an adhesive panel; a first side panel adjoining the adhesive panel; a first side panel top flap connected to a top portion of the first side panel wherein the first side panel top flap includes a first edge, a second edge and an inclined third edge connecting the first edge and the second edge; a first side panel bottom flap connected to a bottom portion of the first side panel wherein the first side panel bottom flap includes a fourth edge, a fifth edge and an inclined sixth edge connecting the fourth edge and the fifth edge; a bottom panel adjoining the first side panel; a second side panel adjoining the bottom panel; a second side panel top flap connected to a top portion of the second side panel wherein the second side panel top flap includes a seventh edge, an eighth edge and an inclined ninth edge connecting the seventh edge and the eighth edge; a second panel bottom flap connected to a bottom portion of the second side panel wherein the second side panel bottom flap includes a tenth edge, an eleventh edge and an inclined twelfth edge connecting the tenth edge and the eleventh edge; and a top panel adjoining the second side panel.

13. The blank of claim 12 wherein the inclined third edge intersects the first edge and the second edge at an angle between about 30 degrees and abut 60 degrees.

14. The blank of claim 12 wherein the inclined third edge intersects the first edge and the second edge at an angle of about 45 degrees.

15. The blank of claim 13 wherein the inclined ninth edge intersects the eighth edge and the seventh edge at an angle between about 30 degrees and abut 60 degrees.

16. The blank of claim 15 wherein the inclined ninth edge intersects the eighth edge and the seventh edge at an angle of about 45 degrees.

17. The blank of claim 12 wherein the top panel includes a perforation extending from a first point adjacent to the first side panel to a spaced apart second point adjacent to the first side panel.

18. The blank of claim 17 wherein the perforation includes a generally arcuate portion extending from the first point to a generally longitudinally extending portion, and a first laterally extending portion extending from the second point to the generally longitudinally extending portion.

19. The blank of claim 18 further including a second perforation extending generally parallel to the generally longitudinally extending portion between the generally arcuate portion and the first laterally extending portion.

20. The blank of claim 18 further including a first generally linear perforation extending as a chord of the generally arcuate portion.

21. The carton of claim 20 further including a second generally linear perforation extending generally parallel to the first generally linear perforation.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/987,458 filed Nov. 13, 2007, Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/989,320 filed Nov. 20, 2007, and Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/017,215 filed Dec. 28, 2007. The disclosures of the foregoing provisional patent applications are hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to packaging for shipping and storing products. More particularly, the invention relates to a paperboard carton that can be used to package, ship and store a variety of products, such as consumer products and, more particularly, beverage containers. Such beverage containers may come in various configurations such as cylindrical cans, bottles of various configurations or flexible pouches having a substantially trapezoidal configuration.

For many years, beverage companies, such as soft drink, fruit juice and beer companies have packaged their products in light weight paperboard cartons and shipped such products to a retail outlet or some other location where consumers can purchase the products. There are many different types of cartons that can be used for packaging and shipping products from the manufacturer to the retailer. However, many of these cartons tend to be large and are designed to hold large numbers of products. Such cartons are suitable for “warehouse” type operations but are difficult for the consumer to store and use when the consumer needs smaller quantities for typical household activities.

Products can be packaged in smaller cartons containing quantities of product that a consumer would typically want to purchase for use in a relatively short period of time, such as ten or a dozen individual items. It is desirable for these smaller quantities of product to be packaged in smaller cartons that can be displayed for sale to the consumer at a typical retail outlet. In order to maximize the use of valuable floor space at the retail outlet, such smaller cartons may be stacked on top of each other to minimize the footprint left by the cartons and to provide an attractive display to entice the consumer to buy the product. Unfortunately, such stacking can result in damage to the carton causing the consumer to assume that the individual products packaged within the carton are damaged as well. This is bad for the retailer because such perceived damaged goods are more difficult to sell and thus can result in lower profits.

Another attribute that is desirable for such paperboard cartons is to ensure that the cartons are easily opened. This facilitates easy access by the consumer to the products, such as beverage containers, located therein. These paperboard cartons with easy opening features appeal to consumers because such cartons provide an easy way for the consumer to transport a number of products, such as beverage containers, therein from the retail outlet to the consumer's home. Moreover, the dispensing openings allow the paperboard cartons to also be stored in an easily accessible location in the consumer's home, such as the refrigerator, to allow neat storage of the product therein while providing easy access to the product one at a time. Although some paperboard cartons having dispensing openings therein are currently available and generally work for their intended purposes they could be improved. For example, some of these cartons are in fact difficult to open. In addition, some of the cartons having such dispensing openings can have compromised structural integrity because of such openings.

Therefore, there is a need to provide an easy opening paperboard carton with improved stacking strength that may be used to package and ship individual items from the manufacturer to a retail outlet and that can also be used in homes and other consumer locations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A paperboard carton is provided having a top, a bottom, two side panels and two end walls. Perforations formed in the carton are provided to allow a consumer or other user to form a dispenser opening in the top by removing the material of the carton bounded by the perforations. The material used to form the paperboard carton can be any standard paperboard material such as corrugated paperboard that is typically used for packaging or shipping containers. This material provides enough rigidity to the carton to allow it to maintain its shape and retain the product therein. In accordance with this invention, the end walls are modified to provide improved stacking strength for the carton.

A blank for forming the paperboard carton is also provided. The blank includes an adhesive panel, a first side panel, a bottom panel, a second side panel and a top panel. End flaps adjoin the first and second side panels. Preferably the end flaps are formed having a stepped configuration with an upper surface, a lower surface and an inclined middle surface. This allows adjoining end flaps to nest or interlock, which results in reinforced end walls. Perforations are formed in the blank to form the dispensing opening when the blank is formed into the paperboard carton.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The various objects, advantages and novel features of the present invention will be best understood by reference to the detailed description of the preferred embodiments which follows, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings where like reference numbers refer to like parts and in which:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of the paperboard carton of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the blank used to make the paperboard carton of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a blank used to make a second embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 1, of the second embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 1, of the second embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention but with the dispensing opening opened to allow for access to the contents of the carton;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a blank used to make a third embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a top perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 1, of the third embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a top perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 1, of the third embodiment of the paperboard carton of the present invention but with the dispensing opening opened to allow for access to the contents of the carton.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the drawings, the same or similar elements are denoted by the same reference numerals even though they are depicted in different drawings. As used herein, the term “top” or “upper” refers to a location on the carton or blank of this invention, as the case may be, along or toward the upper or top portion thereof as seen in the orientation shown in the Figs. As used herein, the term “bottom” or “lower” refers to a location on the carton or blank of this invention, as the case may be, along or toward the lower or bottom portion thereof as seen in the orientation shown in the Figs. As used herein, the term “end” when used in reference to a position on the carton of this invention refers to either the right most or left most side of the carton as seen in the orientation of the carton shown in the carton Figs. As used herein, the term “right” refers to a location on the carton or blank of this invention, as the case may be, along the right side thereof as seen in the orientation shown in the Figs. As used herein, the term “left” refers to a location on the carton or blank of this invention, as the case may be, along the left side thereof as seen in the orientation shown in the Figs.

As shown in FIG. 1, the carton 100 of the present invention has a generally rectangular footprint and includes two sets of end flaps. One set of end flaps is not seen because that set is hidden on the right side of carton 100 in the view shown in FIG. 1. However, the description herein of one set of end flaps applies equally to the other set of end flaps. The end flaps provide added stacking strength to carton 100 because of their nested and interlocking configuration as shown in FIG. 1. As described in more detail below, first side panel top end flap 21 and second side panel top end flap 41 each has a stepped configuration with an upper surface, a lower surface and an inclined middle surface that allows them to nest or interlock and thus support each other. Similarly, first side panel bottom end flap 22 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 each has a stepped configuration with an upper surface, a lower surface and an inclined middle surface that allows them to nest or interlock and support each other. This configuration results in more structural integrity for assembled carton 100. With this added structural integrity, a lighter weight paperboard material can be used to fabricate carton 100 without compromising the overall strength of the assembled carton.

A paperboard blank 200 that can be used to make carton 100 is shown in FIG. 2. Blank 200 includes an adhesive tab 10. In addition, blank 200 includes four main panels, a first side panel 20, a bottom panel 30, a second side panel 40 and a top panel 50. Adhesive tab 10 is connected along its right side to the left side of first side panel 20 along a first vertical fold line 210. First side panel 20 is connected along its right side to the left side of bottom panel 30 along a second vertical fold line 220. Bottom panel 30 is connected along its right side to the left side of second side panel 40 along a third vertical fold line 230. Second side panel 40 is connected along its right side to the left side of top panel 50 along a fourth vertical fold line 240. A fifth vertical fold line 250 may also be included and splits bottom panel 30 in half.

A first side panel top end flap 21 extends above first side panel 20 above a first generally horizontal fold line 301. A first side panel bottom end flap 22 extends below first side panel 20 below a second generally horizontal fold line 302. A second side panel top end flap 41 extends above second side panel 40 above a third generally horizontal fold line 303. A second side panel bottom end flap 42 extends below a fourth generally horizontal fold line 304. Each of first side panel top end flap 21, first side panel bottom end flap 22, second side panel top end flap 41 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 has a stepped configuration with an upper surface, a lower surface and an inclined middle surface. Specifically, first side panel top end flap 21 has an upper surface 21a, a lower surface 21c and an inclined middle surface 21b. First side panel bottom end flap 22 has an upper surface 22a, a lower surface 22c and an inclined middle surface 22b. Second side panel top end flap 41 has an upper surface 41a, a lower surface 41c and an inclined middle surface 41b. Second side panel bottom end flap 42 has an upper surface 42a, a lower surface 42c and an inclined middle surface 42b. This configuration allows adjacent end flaps, i.e. first side panel top end flap 21 and second side panel top end flap 41 on the one hand and first side panel bottom end flap 22 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 on the other hand, to nest or interlock when blank 200 is folded and assembled into carton 100. Preferably, inclined surfaces 21b, 22b, 41b and 42b intersect upper surface 21a, 22a, 41a, and 42a respectively and lower surface 21c, 22c, 41c and 42c respectively at an angle of about 45 degrees. This angle is preferred because it provides superior stacking strength characteristics for carton 100 and minimizes the necessary material needed to form carton 100. Although an angle of about 45 degrees is preferred, other angles may also be acceptable, such as an angle between about 30 degrees and about 60 degrees. In addition, upper surfaces 21a and 41a are preferably located along the left portion of first side panel 20 and second side panel 40 respectively. In another embodiment, upper surfaces 21a and 41a could be located along the right portion of first side panel 20 and second side panel 40 respectively. Either of these orientations ensures that first side panel top end flap 21 nests or interlocks with second side panel top end flap 41. Similarly, upper surfaces 22a and 42a are preferably located along the left portion of first side panel 20 and second side panel 40 respectively. In another embodiment, upper surfaces 22a and 42a could be located along the right portion of first side panel 20 and second side panel 40 respectively. Either of these orientations ensures that first side panel bottom end flap 22 nests or interlocks with second side panel bottom end flap 42. In addition, any permutation of the particular orientations of the two sets of end flaps, i.e. first side panel top end flap 21 and second side panel top end flap 41 as a set on the one hand in comparison to first side panel bottom end flap 22 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 as a set on the other hand, could be used to provide the added stacking strength of assembled carton 100.

An adhesive panel top end flap 11 adjoins adhesive panel 10 above generally horizontal fold line 320. An adhesive panel bottom end flap 12 adjoins adhesive panel 10 below generally horizontal fold line 321. Bottom panel first top end flap 31a and bottom panel second top end flap 31b adjoin bottom panel 30 above generally horizontal fold line 322. Bottom panel first bottom end flap 32a and bottom panel second bottom end flap 32b adjoin bottom panel 30 below generally horizontal fold line 323. A top panel top end flap 51 adjoins top panel 50 above generally horizontal fold line 324. Preferably top panel top end flap 51 extends along about one half of the width of top panel 50. A top panel bottom end flap 52 adjoins top panel 50 below generally horizontal fold line 325. Preferably top panel second end flap 52 extends along about one half of the width of top panel 50.

All of the fold lines formed in blank 100 are formed by crushing the paperboard material along the line to be folded to facilitate bending of the paperboard material to form the various panels and flaps. All perforations in the paperboard blank of this invention preferably are formed by scoring the paperboard so it is cut about 50% into the outer side of the paperboard material. This 50% cut is a continuous cut that extends from the surface of the material down to a depth that is half of the thickness of the material. The 50% cut assures a clean tear at the surface that leaves a relatively pleasing appearance, particularly when the paperboard blank is printed.

To assemble carton 100, blank 200 is first folded by bending the paperboard material along first vertical fold line 210 and fourth vertical fold line 240. This allows adhesive panel 10 and top panel 50 to be folded 90 degrees such that adhesive tab 10 is generally perpendicular to first side panel 20 and top panel 50 is generally perpendicular to second side panel 40 and adhesive panel 10 and top panel 50 extend in the same direction. Blank 200 can then be folded along first horizontal fold line 301, second horizontal fold line 302, third horizontal fold line 303, and fourth horizontal fold line 304 such that first side panel top end flap 21 and first side panel bottom end flap 22 are generally perpendicular to first side panel 20 and extend in the same direction and second side panel top end flap 41 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 are generally perpendicular to second side panel 40 and extend in the same direction. Adhesive panel top end flap 11 is folded so it is generally perpendicular to adhesive panel 10 and can be adhered to first side panel top end flap 21. Adhesive panel bottom end flap 12 is folded so it is generally perpendicular to adhesive panel 10 and can be adhered to first side panel bottom end flap 22. Top panel top end flap 51 is folded so it is generally perpendicular to top panel 50 and can be adhered to second side panel top end flap 41. Top panel bottom end flap 52 is folded so it is generally perpendicular to top panel 50 and can be adhered to second side panel bottom end flap 42.

In one embodiment, bottom panel 30 can be folded in half, 180 degrees along fifth vertical fold line 250 so that each half of bottom panel 30 is abutting one another in face to face relationship and extending in the same direction as adhesive panel 10 and top panel 50. In addition, bottom panel first top end flap 31a is folded so it is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 and adjoins first side panel top end flap 21. Bottom panel second top end flap 31b is folded so it is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 and adjoins second side panel top end flap 41. Bottom panel first bottom end flap 32a is folded so it is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 and adjoins first side panel bottom end flap 22. Bottom panel second bottom end flap 32b is folded so it is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 and adjoins second side panel bottom end flap 42. In this open suitcase type orientation, product can be loaded into the partially erected carton before it is folded up like closing a suitcase. When the carton is then folded closed like a suitcase, top panel 50 overlaps adhesive panel 10, or vice versa, so that top panel 50 and adhesive panel 10 can be adhered together to fully erect carton 100.

In another embodiment, instead of folding bottom panel 30 in half, first side panel 20 can be folded along second vertical fold line 220 so first side panel 20 is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 and second side panel 40 can be folded along third vertical fold line 230 so second side panel 40 is perpendicular to bottom panel 30 with first side panel 20 and second side panel 40 extending in the same direction. In this configuration, bottom panel first top end flap 31a can be adhered to first side panel top end flap 21, bottom panel second top end flap 31b can be adhered to second side panel top end flap 41, bottom panel first bottom end flap 32a can be adhered to first side panel bottom end flap 22 and bottom panel second bottom end flap 32b can be adhered to second side panel bottom end flap 42. With carton 100 in this configuration, product can be loaded through the top of carton 100. Thereafter, adhesive panel 10 is folded over so that adhesive panel top flap 11 and adhesive panel bottom flap 12 abut and are adhered to first side panel top end flap 21 and first side panel bottom end flap 22 respectively. Similarly, top panel 50 is folded over so that top panel top end flap 51 and top panel bottom end flap 52 abut and are adhered to second side panel top end flap 41 and second side panel bottom end flap 42 respectively. In addition, top panel 50 can be adhered to adhesive panel 10.

Any panel or flap that is described as adhered to an adjacent panel or flap may be glued, stapled or otherwise adhered by conventional means.

The general blank and carton configurations depicted in FIGS. 3 through 8 are substantially similar to the configurations described above and depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 except for the inclusion of an easy opening feature in the embodiments of FIGS. 3 through 8. Thus the description of the second and third embodiments that follow will focus solely on the different easy opening features of these embodiments and not the other aspects of the invention, it being understood that the general configurations relating to the improved stacking strength of the resulting carton is substantially the same as described in connection with the embodiment of FIG. 1.

As shown in FIGS. 3 through 5, the easy opening feature of the second embodiment of this invention includes a two part opening. This two part opening includes a tear strip 380 and an opening flap 385. Tear strip 380 is a standard feature of paperboard cartons and is used to provide the consumer with a mechanism to easily open carton 100′. As seen in FIG. 3, tear strip 380 extends along a generally middle or middle right portion of top panel 50. Opening flap 385 is adjacent to tear strip 380 along a middle left portion of top panel 50. The exact location of opening flap 385 and tear strip 380 is not critical. All that is necessary is that opening flap 385 and tear strip 380 are conveniently located along a portion of top panel 50 to provide easy access by the consumer to the contents of the carton. Opening flap 385 is bounded at its right side by the left side of tear strip 380, along its top by perforation line 390, along its bottom by perforation line 391 and along its left side by a portion of fourth vertical fold line 240. As discussed below, preferably that portion of fourth vertical fold line between perforation lines 390 and 391 is formed as a perforation to allow that portion of the paperboard to be removed from blank 200′. By using tear strip 380 to tear a small opening in the top of carton 100′, a consumer can gain access to the underside of opening flap 385 to lift up opening flap 385 by tearing through perforation lines 390 and 391 and thus gain access to the contents of carton 100′. Preferably opening flap 385 can be completely removed from the top of carton 100′ along a portion of fourth vertical fold line 240 that is perforated so that opening flap 385 does not get in the way. However, if desired, the consumer can allow opening flap 385 to remain attached to the carton as shown in FIG. 5. In such a case fourth vertical fold line 240 would not include any perforations.

As shown in FIGS. 6 through 8, the easy opening feature of the third embodiment of this invention includes a single opening door 401, which is generally located in the middle or middle left portion of top panel 50. The exact location of opening door 401 is not critical. All that is necessary is that opening door 401 be conveniently located along top panel 50 to provide the consumer with easy access to the contents of the carton. As shown in FIG. 6, opening door 401 is bounded on its right side by perforation line 530, along its top by curved perforation line 520, along its bottom by perforation line 510 and along its left side by a portion of fourth vertical fold line 240. As discussed in more detail below, preferably, that portion of fourth vertical fold line 240 that extends between perforation line 510 and perforation line 520 is perforated. This allows opening door 401 to be completely removed from the carton. Horizontal perforation lines 501 and 502 extend across a top portion, as seen in FIG. 6, of opening door 401. These horizontal perforation lines 501 and 502 provide an area of weakness for a consumer to push into along opening door 401 so their fingers can then grasp a portion of opening door 401 adjacent to horizontal perforation lines 501 and 502 and then pull the remaining portion of opening door 401 from the carton. If desired, the consumer can allow opening door 401 to remain attached to the carton, as shown in FIG. 8, to act as a door to reclose the carton and protect the contents thereof. However, it is not preferred to have opening door remain attached to the carton because opening door 401 could get in the way of the consumer making access to the contents of the carton difficult.

The present invention has been described with reference to exemplary embodiments thereof. It will be readily apparent, however, to those skilled in the art that it is possible to embody the invention in specific forms other than those of the exemplary embodiments described above. This may be done without departing from the spirit of the invention. The exemplary embodiments are merely illustrative and should not be considered restrictive in any way.