Title:
Shelved Land for a Container Neck
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device and container for improving the connection of a lid to a container by providing for a shelved container neck. The neck includes a shelved land on the top surface of the container neck which provides for an increased radial thickness to the top surface of the container neck.



Inventors:
Eble, Raymond C. (Sugarloaf, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/110054
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/25/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B7/28
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080179271NITROGEN DOSED BASEJuly, 2008Bangi
20080190878Set of containersAugust, 2008Mullner
20010037992Structure of reinforcing ribs around the bottle waistNovember, 2001Tanabe et al.
20090071927Tamper evident closureMarch, 2009Fily et al.
20080173613Flex surface for hot-fillable bottleJuly, 2008Ross
20100078405Plastics bottle constructionApril, 2010Zada
20070012643BABY FEEDING SYSTEMJanuary, 2007Mckiddy
20030038103Food can and method for producing said canFebruary, 2003Sirotkin et al.
20050121452Containers and methods of production thereofJune, 2005Stoltz
20090255895Closure AssemblyOctober, 2009Kiehne
20090301990STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINER AND PLASTIC CAP WITH FINGER LOOP AND STAINLESS STEEL PLUGDecember, 2009Cresswell et al.



Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEWIS, RICE & FINGERSH, LC;ATTN: BOX IP DEPT. (500 NORTH BROADWAY, SUITE 2000, ST LOUIS, MO, 63102, US)
Claims:
1. A device for improving the attachment of a screw on lid to a container, the device comprising: a container neck, being generally circular in shape; at least one projection, arranged so as to project from said outer surface of said neck and which generally traces a portion of a helix; and a shelf, said shelf being arranged at the top of said outer surface of said neck and extending from said neck, said shelf extending down said neck a distance less than the height of said neck; wherein, the thickness of said shelf creates a sealing land having a radial thickness greater than the radial thickness of the rest of said container neck.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said shelf extends outward from said neck.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said shelf extends inward from said neck.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein said shelf extends both outward and inward from said neck.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein said neck is has a radial thickness of about 65 thousandths of an inch.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein said shelf has a radial thickness of about 75 thousandths of an inch.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein said neck has a height of about 8 tenths of an inch.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein said shelf has a height of about 40 thousandths of an inch.

9. A container, the container comprising: a main body including a top section, a middle section, and a bottom section arranged vertically and enclosing an internal volume; a rim through which material can be placed in said internal volume of said container, said top section of said container interconnecting said rim of said container and said middle section of said container; and a base, said bottom section of said container interconnecting said base of said container and said middle section of said container; and a neck, said neck extending from said rim, said neck having an outer surface which is generally circular, and includes a top comprising an edge separated from said top section of said container; wherein said neck includes at said top, a shelf extending from said neck, said shelf increasing the surface area of said top.

10. The container of claim 9 wherein said neck further comprises at least protrusion extending therefrom, said protrusion being sized and shaped to allow for a lid to screwably attached to said neck.

11. The container of claim 9 wherein said shelf extends outward from said neck.

12. The container of claim 9 wherein said shelf extends inward from said neck.

13. The container of claim 9 wherein said shelf extends both outward and inward from said neck.

14. The container of claim 9 wherein said neck is has a radial thickness of about 65 thousandths of an inch.

15. The container of claim 14 wherein said shelf has a radial thickness of about 75 thousandths of an inch.

16. The container of claim 15 wherein said neck has a height of about 8 tenths of an inch.

17. The container of claim 16 wherein said shelf has a height of about 40 thousandths of an inch.

18. The container of claim 9 further including a metal foil induction sealed to at least a portion of said surface area.

19. A container, the container comprising: a main body including a top section, a middle section, and a bottom section arranged vertically and enclosing an internal volume; a rim through which material can be placed in said internal volume of said container, said top section of said container interconnecting said rim of said container and said middle section of said container; and a base, said bottom section of said container interconnecting said base of said container and said middle section of said container; a neck, said neck extending from said rim, said neck having an outer surface which is generally circular, and includes a top comprising an edge separated from said top section of said container; means located at said top of said neck for increasing the surface area of said top.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This disclosure relates to the field of containers, particularly to plastic containers having necks utilizing a shelved land for sealing with a lid.

2. Description of the Related Art

Containers are ubiquitous for the sale of goods in society. The sale of many products such as liquids or products packed in liquid is essentially impossible without containers in which to transport the products. While the concept of bulk products (where a user supplies their own container which is filled from a larger container or a processing machine) is popular for some items due to the end consumer's ability to save money on the product by not having to pay for the container it is packed in and the ability of producers to ship products less expensively, most items in today's society are prepackaged in disposable containers prior to sale. In this way, a consumer can simply grab a single container of product for easy transport, purchase, and storage. It also provides the product in a fixed, generally popular, size.

While the container in which items are sold is often of relatively little import to the end consumer, the design of a container can have a large effect on the manufacture of the product that will, in the end, alter the presentation of the good and influence the consumer. For a manufacturer, performance of the container under certain conditions allows for the product to be provided to the consumer easier or less expensively which can have a dramatic effect on both profitability of the manufacturer and resultant retail price of the product which can improve sales. Improving the container can therefore result in increases to the manufacturers' profitability.

In the first instance, a manufacturer cares about the weight of a container. While heavier containers such as rigid glass containers are generally seen as being stronger and more resilient, heavier containers cost more to construct, as they require more raw ingredients, and, due to the increased weight, also cost more to transport both to the packaging plant, and (once filled) to the end consumers. This creates increased fuel cost, as well as potentially decreasing the maximum load that can be placed in a truck further increasing logistics costs.

Today's society is also placing an increased value on conservation. Therefore, containers are in demand which conserve raw materials by using less material in their construction and that conserve fuel by improving transportation efficiency both to save on manufacturing costs, and that preserve natural resources. Interest in the cost of transportation has had significantly increased interest recently due to recognition that even the most efficient production practices can be foiled by significant transportation losses. Further, it is desired that containers be relatively easily recycled to make new containers. For all these reasons, containers are striving to get lighter and stronger using less material to make containers that still can meet performance necessities for shipping, while allowing for increases in shipping efficiencies.

As much as conservation is desirable, containers need to meet basic design qualifications in order to be useable for a desired task in the first instance. In a number of containers, it is very important that a container seal to its lid sufficiently so that the quality of the goods internal to the container are maintained. Goods packed in containers are regularly packed while hot which can allow for the cooling effect to create a vacuum within the container. This can lead to the now ubiquitous “pop-up” button to detect when a product has been opened and is no longer shelf stable.

Even in less demanding applications where products may remain shelf stable after opening, there is a common desire for containers to seal well with their lids. Initially, this can be because the internal product is packed in an inert gas, for example nitrogen, which helps to preserve the product before the container is opened allowing it to have an increased shelf life prior to purchase. Further, once the product is opened, a good seal on the container can help maintain the quality of the product while it is in use by limiting the exposure to air. Still further, containers which seal well are easier to store and pose less risk of loss or damage to other products. With regards to food products. A good seal can inhibit the attraction of vermin that may be attracted to an escaping scent or material.

Because of the various competing desires in packaging, a large number of products are changing from being packaged in glass or metal to being packaged in plastics. Plastics are generally lighter than alternatives, often more resilient, and can be recycled. There are also a wide variety of plastics available which can be selected depending on the products sold in the container. The most common type of plastic containers are probably polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers which can be blow- molded and can provide for a clear finish which resembles glass.

Plastic containers, are usually significantly thinner than similar glass containers and recent improvements in technology have allowed them to become even thinner while still retaining resilience. The material forming the container neck, however, where a screw top or similar lid joins to the container, is often quite a bit thicker than the material forming the rest of the container. Some of this thickness is to supply strength to the top to resist the torque or other force applied when the lid is screwed on or otherwise attached, however some of the width is so that the connection of the upper rim of the container to the lid provides a sufficient seal to seal the container. Depending on the nature of the product within the container, the seal may need to be sufficient to maintain powder tightness, water tightness, or air tightness depending on the application.

Therefore, while a number of plastic containers have been engineered which provide for improved structural performance at a decreased container weight, the weight of material in a container neck has often not decreased accordingly resulting in lingering inefficiencies.

SUMMARY

Because of these and other problems in the art, discussed herein is a plastic container which includes a shelved neck land which serves to provide for improved sealing with a lid compared to a container of comparable neck thickness, without a significant increase in weight or material use.

Described herein, among other things, is a device for improving the attachment of a screw on lid to a container, the device comprising: a container neck, being generally circular in shape; at least one projection, arranged so as to project from the outer surface of the neck and which generally traces a portion of a helix; and a shelf, the shelf being arranged at the top of the outer surface of the neck and extending from the neck, the shelf extending down the neck a distance less than the height of the neck; wherein, the thickness of the shelf creates a sealing land having a radial thickness greater than the radial thickness of the rest of the container neck.

In embodiments of the device, the shelf extends outward from the neck, inward from the neck, or both outward and inward from the neck.

In an embodiment of the device, the neck is has a radial thickness of about 65 thousandths of an inch, the shelf has a radial thickness of about 75 thousandths of an inch, the neck has a height of about 8 tenths of an inch, and the shelf has a height of about 40 thousandths of an inch.

There is also described herein a container, the container comprising: a main body including a top section, a middle section, and a bottom section arranged vertically and enclosing an internal volume; a rim through which material can be placed in the internal volume of the container, the top section of the container interconnecting the rim of the container and the middle section of the container; and a base, the bottom section of the container interconnecting the base of the container and the middle section of the container; and a neck, the neck extending from the rim, the neck having an outer surface which is generally circular, and includes a top comprising an edge separated from the top section of the container; wherein the neck includes at the top, a shelf extending from the neck, the shelf increasing the surface area of the top.

In an embodiment of the container, the neck further comprises at least protrusion extending therefrom, the protrusion being sized and shaped to allow for a lid to screwably attached to the neck.

In embodiments of the container, the shelf extends outward from the neck, inward from the neck, or both outward and inward from the neck.

In an embodiment of the container, the neck is has a radial thickness of about 65 thousandths of an inch, the shelf has a radial thickness of about 75 thousandths of an inch, the neck has a height of about 8 tenths of an inch, and the shelf has a height of about 40 thousandths of an inch.

In another embodiment, the container further includes a metal foil induction sealed to at least a portion of the surface area.

There is also described herein, a container, the container comprising: a main body including a top section, a middle section, and a bottom section arranged vertically and enclosing an internal volume; a rim through which material can be placed in the internal volume of the container, the top section of the container interconnecting the rim of the container and the middle section of the container; and a base, the bottom section of the container interconnecting the base of the container and the middle section of the container; a neck, the neck extending from the rim, the neck having an outer surface which is generally circular, and includes a top comprising an edge separated from the top section of the container; means, such as a shelf, located at the top of the neck for increasing the surface area of the top.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 provides a perspective view of a container including a neck with a shelved land.

FIG. 2 provides a side view of a container neck including a shelved land.

FIG. 3 provides a cut through image of a screw top lid for a container.

FIG. 4 provides a cut through view of the container neck of FIG. 2

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

FIG. 1 provides for an embodiment of a container (100) which is designed to have a screw on lid (801) as shown in FIG. 3. The container (100) is depicted as having a generally cubical arrangement, but that is by no means required and the container (100) can have virtually any shape such as being generally barrel-shaped, cylindrical, or other shaped. The container (100) generally includes a main body (103) comprised of a base (101), a middle section (107) which effectively forms the vertical walls and is where the label is traditionally placed, and a top section (105) which connects to the screw rim or container neck (507).

This general shape of container (100) can be used to hold a variety of products and may be constructed of a variety of plastics including, but not limited to, HDPE or PET as known to those of ordinary skill in the art. The container (100), in the depicted embodiment, is designed to interface with a screw-top lid (801) such as that shown in FIG. 3. In alternative embodiments, the container (100) may be arranged to have a snap-on or other type of lid (801). Throughout this disclosure, however, the embodiments will provide for a screw-top lid (801) as this type of lid (801) is generally common in containers.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, at the top of the top section (105) of the container (100) there is located a rim (501). The rim (501) surrounds an opening (503) into the container (100) which is generally circular and is generally centered on the top section (105). The rim (501) will generally have attached thereto a hollow low cylinder which comprises the screw rim or container neck (507). The container neck (507) is usually generally circular and usually includes at least one protrusion (505) on its outer surface. The protrusion (505) is generally positioned in a helical arrangement and serves as a screw thread so as to allow a lid (801) to be screwed onto the low cylinder (507) to seal the container (100).

An embodiment of a lid (801) is shown in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the lid (801) is of a generally cylindrical shape with one open and one closed end. The closed end comprises the top (803) of the lid (801) which will serve to close the opening (503) when the lid (801) is screwed onto the container neck (507). The lid (801) also includes an exterior wall (805) which is generally circular and includes at least one mating protrusion (815) extending internally thereto. The mating protrusions (815) are designed to mate with protrusion (505) so as to allow the lid (801) to be screwably engaged to the container neck (507) by rotation of the lid (801) when it is placed on the container neck (507). The low cylinder (507) may also have a raised ring (509) encircling a lower portion thereof which can act as a stop or lower seal for the lid (801) when it is screwed into position.

The sealing action of the lid (801) to the neck (507) generally takes place between the top surface of the neck (507), which is referred to as the land (517), and the inside of the top (803) of the lid (801). Sealing between the bottom (825) of the exterior wall (805) of the lid (801) and the ring (509) may also occur, but is not necessary for sealing between the land (517) and the inside (831) of the top (803) of the lid (801), which is of interest in this disclosure.

Specifically, the lid (801) will generally be pushed downward by a user onto the neck (507) and toward the main body (103) as it is rotated. Such pressure and turning results in the lid (801) screwing onto the neck (507). The seal of the lid (801) to the neck (507) is generally established by the interaction of the land (517) of the neck (507) to the inside (831) of the top (803) as the user tightens the lid (801) down by continuing to rotate it. The interaction of the protrusions (505) and mating protrusions (815) results in the lid (801) continuing to move down the neck (507) until its motion is inhibited by contact with the land (517) and/or ring (509). A seal is formed as the materials of the land (517) and top (803) frictionally engage.

It should be recognized that the seal may be formed through a variety of different interactions. In the simplest of interactions, the seal will generally be formed because of the land (517) of the neck (507) being pushed against the plastic or other surface of the interior (831) of the lid (801). This seal, assuming both surfaces are generally flat, will often provide a sufficient seal for most applications. Alternatively, the land (517) may be provided a complementary surface on the lid (801) which is designed to deform around the land (517) when the two portions are pushed together. For example, the inner surface (831) may be coated, at least partially, which a specifically deformable surface such as a rubber or wax.

In a still further embodiment, an induction seal may be formed inside the lid (801). In an induction seal, a metal foil liner (833) will generally be placed inside the lid (801) and covering the opening which will contact the land (517). When the container is factory sealed, the closed container will pass through a machine which will cause the metal foil (833) to heat up. The foil (833) will then adhere to the land (517). Such an induction seal provides for a tamper evident closure which must be torn to access the interior of the container (100) but does not inhibit the lid (801) from being unscrewed.

Traditionally the width of the land (517) has had the same radial thickness of material as the rest of the neck (507). Specifically the neck (507) had a consistent radial thickness (W*) along its entire height (H*). In this disclosure, the radial thickness (W*) is the width of the neck (507) as measured from interior to the neck (507) to the exterior of the neck (507) along a radius based on the generally circular shape of the neck (507) as shown in FIG. 4. As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 2, the radial thickness (W) of the land (517) is increased over the radial thickness (W*) of the rest of the neck (507) providing the land (517) with an increased surface area and effectively making the land (517) form a shelf (571) extending outward from the neck (507). In this way the land (517) can provide for a greater sealing surface (or a surface of predetermined size) based on its radial thickness (W) while still allowing the rest of the neck (507) to be reduced in overall radial thickness (W*).

Reducing the radial thickness of the neck (507) can be desirable in certain types of container (100) to save material and weight. Specifically, the neck (507) is often made thicker to provide for a sufficient sealing land (517) when such width in the neck (507) is otherwise unnecessary. In effect, the neck (507) is thicker than it needs to be to resist the torque of the lid (801) being screwed thereon or for any other purpose except to provide for a land (517) of sufficient width to seal as desired. Since the material necessary to provide the neck (507) with sufficient strength and other properties is often less than the thickness desired to have a sufficient sealing land (517), the neck (507) can be reduced in material while still keeping the sealing land (517) of sufficient thickness.

As should also be apparent, the portion of the neck (507) forming the shelf (571) will generally be less than the portion of the neck (507) which does not form the shelf (571). As indicated in the FIG the shelf (571) may have a height (H) which is less than the height (H*) of the neck (507). The shelf (571) may therefore comprise a relatively small rim around the top of the neck (507) making the shelved land (517) a relatively small component in the container (100).

In addition to providing for a wider sealing surface, the increase of material to form the shelf (571) will also generally result in increased strength to the neck (507) over a neck (507) of similar width without the shelved land (517). Specifically, in order for the neck (507) to distort under sealing, it will generally be necessary for a portion along the vertical height (H*) of the neck (507) to distort which would require distortion of the shelf (571). Such a distortion is generally resisted by the shelf (571) in the same way it would be if the entire neck (507) was thicker due to the increase in thickness of the shelf (571). In this way, the neck (507) maybe stronger than if the shelf (571) was not present at all. Further, since the land (517) provides for the direct friction connecting with the lid (801), the wider surface generally will resist distortion from the friction, even though the frictional area may be increased.

Still further, the relatively small shelf (571) length (D) still results in a relatively significant increase in the surface area of the land (517). This also can improve the connection when used in an induction seal. In an induction seal, generally the smaller the land (517) the less forging the connection between the land (517) and the sealing foil (833) is. Specifically, a narrow land can require much more accurate positioning of the foil (833) prior to the induction activity. By increasing the surface area of the land (517), the positioning can become more forgiving, allowing for more containers to correctly have the induction seal connect the foil (833) to the land (517). Since the induction seal is often used to detect potential tampering, improved sealing provides for improved safety and less spoiliated product.

As should be apparent from the FIGS, the shelf (571) may extend from the neck (507) outward on the container (100). Such extension will generally not cause a problem for the attachment of the lid (801) as the extension of the shelf (571) is generally very minimal and well within the clearance of the protrusions (815) to the neck (507). In an alternative embodiment, however, the shelf (571) may extend inside the neck (571) and so extend inward generally in the opening (503). In a still further embodiment, the shelf (571) may extend both inward and outward on the neck (507) making the land (517) effectively a “T” shelf (571) on the top of the neck (507). In these embodiments, the shelved land (517) still has the same net effect of providing for an increased top surface area, without having to increase the thickness of the neck (507) generally.

The extension distance of the shelf (517) will generally be very small compared to the size of the neck (507) as should be apparent from the FIGS. Specifically, FIG. 4 can be considered generally an enlarged drawing of a standard finish container neck. Normally, a container (100) with such a container neck (507) would provide that the neck (507) have a radial thickness (W*) of around 90 thousands of an inch ( around 0.09″) resulting in a land (517) which also has a radial thickness (W) around 90 thousandths of an inch. Specifically, in some traditional containers a neck of 93 thousandths of an inch radial thickness has been used resulting a land (517) of the same width. However, in the embodiment of the FIGS., and as shown specifically in FIG. 4, the radial thickness (W*) in the neck (507) is reduced to around 65 thousandths of an inch which reduces the total amount of material needed to construct the neck (507) by almost ⅓. The land (517) however includes a shelf (571) thickness (D) of around 10 thousandths of an inch providing that the radial thickness (W) of the land is around 75 thousandths of an inch.

It should be apparent from FIG. 1 that the land (517) will often be nearly invisible to the end user viewing the container (100) as it can be very small. In particular, a user may only be able to detect it by actually running their fingers over it or by examining the neck (507) closely or with magnification. As such, the land (517) shelf (571) will generally provide for little aesthetic difference between the container (100) and a similar container (100) which used the thicker level of neck (507) material. As discussed above, it also will generally not result in a decrease of performance over a neck (507) which is consistently thicker. Further, as the neck (507) will generally be obscured by the lid (801) when the container (100) is sealed, as it usually is when the product which the container (100) is carrying is sold, the consumer will not be able to view the neck (507) and see the shelf (571).

The land (517) shelf (571) also does not need to extend a great distance downward on the neck (507). In the depicted embodiment, the distance (H) of the shelf (571) down the neck (507) will generally be less than the thickness (W) of the land (517), so it will be less than 75 thousandths of an inch in the embodiment discussed above in conjunction with FIG. 4. In the depicted embodiment of FIG. 4, the shelf (571) only extends downward (H) about 40 thousandths of an inch resulting in the shelf (571) being very small compared to the height (H*) of the neck (507) which may be around 7-9 tenths of an inch, generally around 8 tenths of an inch.

As the shelf (571) does not extend very far from the neck (507), it generally will not interfere with the connection of the lid (801) to the neck (507). Specifically, there will generally be plenty of clearance for the mating projections (815) on the lid (801) to clear the shelf (571) as the lid (801) is placed on the neck (507) and will not interfere with the interaction of the mating projections (815) with the projections on the neck (507). The shelf (571) will instead basically not interact with components other than the inside (831) top (803) of the lid (801) providing for the increase in sealing area, without having the shelf (571) cause other unwanted interactions.

As should be apparent from the above, while it is particularly beneficial to use the shelved land (517) in situations where the material used in the container neck (507) is reduced from traditional amounts, it should also be apparent that in an alternative embodiment, the shelf (571) can instead simply be used to provide for a greater sealing surface on a container (100) neck (507) of already existing thickness. In particular, should the sealing area of an existing container (100) need to be increased, it may be done so using the shelf (571) so that additional material in the rest of the neck (507), if it would not otherwise be necessary, does not need to be added.

While the invention has been disclosed in connection with certain preferred embodiments, this should not be taken as a limitation to all of the provided details. Modifications and variations of the described embodiments may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and other embodiments should be understood to be encompassed in the present disclosure as would be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art.