Title:
WIRE MESH PALLET AND METHOD OF PRODUCING A WIRE MESH PALLET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wire mesh pallet is presented. The wire mesh pallet includes a wire mesh, the wire mesh including a plurality of integral legs, the legs formed by bending of the wire mesh. The wire mesh pallet further includes at least one truss device, the truss device capable of limiting or controlling an amount of flex of said wire mesh pallet.



Inventors:
Knott, Andrew M. (Upton, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/473639
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
05/28/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
140/71R
International Classes:
B65D19/30; B21F45/00; B65D19/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GALLEGO, ANDRES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARRY W. CHAPIN, ESQ.;CHAPIN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, LLC (WESTBOROUGH OFFICE PARK, 1700 WEST PARK DRIVE, SUITE 280, WESTBOROUGH, MA, 01581, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wire mesh pallet comprising: a wire mesh, said wire mesh including a plurality of integral legs, said legs formed by bending of the wire mesh; and at least one truss device, said truss device capable of limiting an amount of flex of said wire mesh pallet; said truss device in mechanical communication with said wire mesh pallet, said truss device traversing at least a portion of said wire mesh pallet.

2. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 wherein said truss device comprises at least one of the group consisting of a truss wire, said truss wire traversing at least a section of said wire mesh pallet; a truss clip, said truss clip traversing at least a section of a leg of said wire mesh pallet; a truss leg wire, said truss leg wire traversing at least a section of a leg of said wire mesh pallet, and a cover, said cover traversing at least a section of said wire mesh pallet.

3. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 further comprising a runner, said runner in mechanical communication with a bottom of a first leg and a bottom of at least one other leg.

4. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 wherein said wire mesh comprises: a plurality of line wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other; a plurality of cross wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other, said cross wires in mechanical communication with said line wires, said cross wires generally perpendicular to said line wires; and wherein said line wires and said cross wires define a generally rectangular shape for supporting a load thereon.

5. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of additional cross wires which function as bottom wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed, the bottom wires generally parallel to the cross wires and in mechanical communication with the line wires.

6. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of cross wires which function as leg reinforcement wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed, the leg reinforcement wires in mechanical communication with and extending along at least one side of a first leg and one side of a second leg.

7. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 further comprising at least one lip, said at least one lip extending along at least a portion of at least one side of said wire mesh pallet.

8. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 wherein said wire mesh is comprised of a material selected from the group consisting of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic.

9. The wire mesh pallet of claim 1 further comprising a coating.

10. The wire mesh pallet of claim 9 wherein said coating is applied before the bending of said wire mesh.

11. The wire mesh pallet of claim 9 wherein said coating is applied after the bending of said wire mesh.

12. A method of manufacturing a wire mesh pallet comprising: producing a wire mesh; bending said wire mesh at a plurality of predetermined locations to form a plurality of support legs; and adding at least one truss device to said wire mesh pallet, said truss device capable of limiting an amount of flex of said wire mesh pallet; said truss device in mechanical communication with said wire mesh pallet, said truss device traversing at least a portion of said wire mesh pallet.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein said truss device comprises at least one of the group consisting of a truss wire, said truss wire traversing at least a section of said wire mesh pallet; a truss clip, said truss clip traversing at least a section of a leg of said wire mesh pallet; a truss leg wire, said truss leg wire traversing at least a section of a leg of said wire mesh pallet, and a cover, said cover traversing at least a section of said wire mesh pallet.

14. The method of claim 12 further comprising adding a runner, said runner in mechanical communication with a bottom of a first leg and a bottom of at least one other leg.

15. The method of claim 13 wherein said wire mesh comprises: a plurality of line wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other; a plurality of cross wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other, said cross wires in mechanical communication with said line wires, said cross wires generally perpendicular to said line wires; and wherein said line wires and said cross wires define a generally rectangular shape for supporting a load thereon.

16. The method of claim 13 wherein said wire mesh includes a plurality of additional cross wires which function as bottom wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed, the bottom wires generally parallel to the cross wires and in mechanical communication with the line wires

17. The method of claim 13 wherein said wire mesh includes a plurality of cross wires which function as leg reinforcement wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed, the leg reinforcement wires in mechanical communication with and extending along at least one side of a first leg and one side of a second leg

18. The method of claim 13 further comprising coating said wire mesh.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein said coating is applied at a time selected from the group consisting of before forming said wire mesh pallet and after forming said wire mesh pallet.

20. The method of claim 18 further comprising coating said truss device.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/056,617, filed on May 28, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Pallets are used to ship and store a variety of goods. There are several hundred million new pallets produced each year in North America and about 1.2 billion are in use at any given time. Over 90 percent of pallets are made from wood or wood composite with the balance being made from plastic, metal and paper. It is estimated that there are over 3,200 companies in North America producing pallets, from small “garage-type” operations to large companies producing several million pallets per year. There is one conventional size (“Footprint”) pallet, measuring 48 inches by 40 inches that represents about 30 percent of all pallets produced each year. There are another nine “footprints” representing 60 percent of the annual pallet production. The remaining 40 percent of the market includes custom sizes, built to specific end customer requirements.

SUMMARY

Conventional pallets, such as those explained above, suffer from a variety of deficiencies. Among the many shortcomings of conventional pallets are their weight, the space required to store the pallets, their flammability, their susceptibility to bugs and pests, their inability to be kept clean, the fact that they can result in splinters to handlers and products, labor intensive manufacturing, relatively short life cycle and little or no scrap value.

Embodiments of the invention significantly overcome such deficiencies and provide mechanisms and techniques that provide a wire mesh pallet and a method of producing a wire mesh pallet. The wire mesh pallet is recyclable, lightweight, stackable in a nesting fashion, fire resistant, bug and pest resistant, sanitary, splinter free, strong, lower in cost to manufacture, durable and has scrap value.

Note that each of the different features, techniques, configurations, etc. discussed in this disclosure can be executed independently or in combination. Accordingly, the present invention can be embodied and viewed in many different ways. Also, note that this summary section herein does not specify every embodiment and/or incrementally novel aspect of the present disclosure or claimed invention. Instead, this summary only provides a preliminary discussion of different embodiments and corresponding points of novelty over conventional techniques. For additional details, elements, and/or possible perspectives (permutations) of the invention, the reader is directed to the Detailed Description section and corresponding figures of the present disclosure as further discussed below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing will be apparent from the following more particular description of preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters refer to the same parts throughout the different views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates a first cross sectional view of a wire mesh pallet in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a second cross sectional view of a wire mesh pallet in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 3A illustrates a top view of a first embodiment in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 3B illustrates a top view of a second embodiment in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 3C illustrates an end view of the wire mesh of FIG. 3B;

FIG. 4A comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 4B comprises a partial end view of the wire mesh pallet of FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5A comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet including a runner in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5B comprises a partial end view of the wire mesh pallet of FIG. 5A;

FIG. 5C comprises a partial cross-sectional view of the wire mesh pallet of FIG. 5A;

FIG. 6 comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet including a short truss wire in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 7 comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet including an elongated truss wire in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 8 comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet including a truss clip in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 9A comprises an end view of a wire mesh pallet including a reinforcement wire in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 9B comprises a partial end view of the wire mesh pallet of FIG. 9A; and

FIGS. 10A and 10B comprise a flow diagram of a particular embodiment of a method of producing a wire mesh pallet in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention comprises a wire mesh pallet. Instead of conventional wooden pallets, a pallet is formed from a wire mesh. The wire mesh is bent to form a plurality of legs at predetermined places in the mesh resulting in a pallet formed from a single piece of mesh. The invention is a unique way to construct a pallet by maximizing the strength and stiffness of the product at the lowest possible weight and efficiency to manufacture, thereby making the sale of the product possible in comparison with pallets made from other materials.

The presently disclosed wire mesh pallet is 100 percent recyclable and lightweight—about one half the weight of a conventional wooden pallet. The wire mesh pallet is stackable. The pallets can be nested when stacking, allowing more than double the number of pallets to be shipped from the factory and on return loads. The wire mesh pallet is also fire resistant. The wire mesh pallets will not burn, allowing pallets to be stored indoors and reducing insurance costs. The wire mesh pallet will not harbor bugs or pests and can be certified for export shipments without treatment. The wire mesh pallet is also easier to clean and keep clean, and produces no splinters to damage hands or product. The wire mesh pallet offers higher strength and stiffness as well as low labor cost to produce. Further, the wire mesh pallet has a long life cycle and is easy to repair as well as having scrap value at end of life cycle, with no disposal costs.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3C, different views of different embodiments of a wire mesh pallet 10 is shown. A piece of wire mesh is bent to form first surface area 12, first leg 20, second surface area 14, second leg 22, third surface area 16, third leg 24 and fourth surface area 18. First leg 20 includes a first side portion 20a, a bottom surface 20b, and a second side portion 20c. Similarly, second leg 22 includes a first side portion 22a, a bottom surface 22b, and a second side portion 22c and third leg 24 includes a first side portion 24a, a bottom surface 24b, and a second side portion 24c. While in this example the side portions of the legs are shown disposed at a particular angle with respect to the wire mesh surfaces 12, 14, 16 and 18, it should be appreciated that the side portions could be formed at any angle (including a perpendicular angle) with respect to the wire mesh surfaces.

Referring now to FIGS. 3A-3C, diagrams of wire meshes before the wire mesh pallet is formed is shown. The wire meshes includes a plurality of line wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other. The wire meshes also include a plurality of cross wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other, the cross wires in mechanical communication with the line wires. The cross wires are generally perpendicular to the line wires. The line wires and the cross wires define a generally rectangular shape for supporting a load thereon when the mesh is formed into a wire mesh pallet.

Referring now to FIGS. 4A and 4B, a particular embodiment of a wire mesh pallet 50 is shown which includes a plurality of bottom wires 54a-h. Each of the bottom wires is generally parallel to cross wires of the wire mesh and in mechanical communication with line wires of the wire mesh. The bottom wires 54a-h provide additional support to the mesh near the legs and edges of the wire mesh pallet.

Also shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B are a plurality of runners 56a-c. Each runner is in mechanical communication with a bottom of a first leg and a bottom of at least one other leg. Each tapered leg 58, 60 and 62 includes a first side surface (58a, 60a and 62a respectively), a bottom surface (58b, 60b and 62b respectively) and a second side surface (58c, 60c and 62c respectively). In a preferred embodiment the runner 56 is welded to the bottom surface of the tapered legs 58, 60 and 62. The tapered legs allow for nesting of a wire mesh pallet with another wire mesh pallet.

Also shown in FIG. 4B is a cover 55. Cover 55 may be formed from a variety of materials, including but not limited to rubber, plastic and metal. The cover is disposed over at least a portion of the top of the wire mesh. The mesh can be thought of as a “skeleton” with the cover acting as a “skin”. The cover can be large enough to cover the entire top surface of the wire mesh pallet and may further cover at least one edge of the wire mesh pallet. The cover can be attached by any means known to one of ordinary skill in the art. In a particular embodiment the cover is attached in a similar manner as the runner described below with respect to FIGS. 5A-5C. The cover acts a truss device and is useful for preventing the spreading or deformation of the wire mesh pallet in response to a load being placed on the wire mesh pallet. Preferably the cover 55 is connected to the wire mesh pallet on two or more sides of the wire mesh pallet.

Referring now to FIGS. 5A-5C, a particular embodiment of another style of runner 64a-c is shown. Each runner 64a-c comprises a notched strip that is bent to form around the wires abutting a bottom surface of a leg. The strip is secured in place by any known means, for example a rivet. The notches in the strip allow the strip to fit around the legs.

As shown in FIG. 5B, the wire mesh pallet can be formed to include a lip 68 extending along at least a portion of at least one side of the wire mesh pallet. The lip 68 or lips provide additional support for maintaining a load on the wire mesh pallet and aid in securing the load to the wire mesh pallet.

In order to prevent the wire mesh surface and legs from deforming or flexing under load conditions, at least one truss device is added to the structure. Referring now to FIG. 6, an embodiment of a wire mesh pallet 70 is shown. In this embodiment each leg 78, 80 and 82 is fitted with a truss device, in this case a truss leg wire 72a, 72b and 72c respectively. The truss leg wires traverse at least a section of a leg of the wire mesh pallet. The truss leg wires provide additional support for the legs and prevent spreading or deformation of the leg in response to a load being placed on the wire mesh pallet 70.

Referring now to FIG. 7, an embodiment of a wire mesh pallet 100 is shown. In this embodiment the wire mesh pallet is fitted with a truss device, in this case a truss wire 102. The truss wires traverse at least a section of the wire mesh pallet. The truss wires provide additional support for wire mesh pallet and prevent spreading or deformation of the wire mesh pallet in response to a load being placed on the wire mesh pallet. The truss wire 102 can be placed spanning any amount of space on the wire mesh pallet and at any angle with respect to the line wires or cross wires.

Referring now to FIG. 8, an embodiment of a wire mesh pallet 120 is shown. In this embodiment the wire mesh pallet is fitted with a truss device, in this case truss clips 122a-c. The truss clips 122a-c traverse at least a section of a leg of the wire mesh pallet. The truss clips 122a-c provide additional support for the legs and prevent spreading or deformation of the leg in response to a load being placed on the wire mesh pallet 120.

The truss devices are used to limit or prevent spreading and deformation of the wire mesh pallet when a load is placed on the wire mesh pallet. In some embodiments, it may be desirable to allow a predetermined amount of flex, or to allow an area of the wire mesh pallet to flex while other areas of the wire mesh pallet have limited or no flex. Also, while the drawings show a particular number of truss devices, it should be realized that any number of truss devices could be used. Further, the truss wires may be of any orientation, for example, extending diagonally across the wire mesh pallet wherein two diagonal truss wires form an “X” shape.

Referring now to FIGS. 9A and 9B, a particular embodiment of a wire mesh pallet 160 is shown which includes additional cross wires 162a-f which function as bottom wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed. Each of the additional cross wires 162a-f are generally parallel to other cross wires of the wire mesh and in mechanical communication with side of a leg. The additional cross wires 162a-f provide additional support to the legs and prevent spreading or deformation of the leg in response to a load being placed on the wire mesh pallet 160.

The wire mesh pallet can be made from a variety of materials, including but not limited to steel, stainless steel, aluminum and plastic. The wire mesh pallet may further be provided with a coating. The coating process can take place before the wire mesh is formed into the wire mesh pallet or the coating process can take place after the wire mesh has been formed into a wire mesh pallet.

A flow chart of the presently disclosed method is depicted in FIGS. 10A and 10B. The rectangular elements are herein denoted “processing blocks”. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that unless otherwise indicated herein, the particular sequence of steps described is illustrative only and can be varied without departing from the spirit of the invention. Thus, unless otherwise stated, the steps described below are unordered meaning that, when possible, the steps can be performed in any convenient or desirable order.

Referring now to FIGS. 10A and 10B, a particular embodiment of a method 200 of producing a wire mesh pallet is shown. Method 200 starts with processing block 202 which discloses producing a wire mesh. Processing block 204 states the wire mesh includes a plurality of line wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other. Processing block 206 recites the wire mesh also includes a plurality of cross wires spaced apart from each other and generally parallel to each other, said cross wires in mechanical communication with said line wires, said cross wires generally perpendicular to said line wires. As shown in processing block 208, the line wires and the cross wires define a generally rectangular shape for supporting a load thereon. The wire mesh with variable, square and/or rectangular spacing may be produced on an automatic resistance-welding machine or other type device.

Processing block 210 discloses bending the wire mesh at a plurality of predetermined locations to form a plurality of support legs. The mesh is typically bent to form three support legs. The gauge of the wire used and location of the legs will determine the carrying load of the pallet and the ability of the pallet to be accessed. There may be “2-way” access in which a fork truck or pallet jack can only access the pallet from two of the four sides, or “4-way” access wherein the fork truck or pallet jack can access all four sides of the pallet.

Processing block 212 states adding at least one truss device to the wire mesh pallet, the truss device capable of limiting an amount of flex of the wire mesh pallet; the truss device in mechanical communication with the wire mesh pallet, the truss device traversing at least a portion of the wire mesh pallet. As shown in processing block 214 the truss device comprises a truss wire, the truss wire traversing at least a section of the wire mesh pallet. As shown in processing block 216 the truss device comprises a truss clip, the truss clip traversing at least a section of a leg of the wire mesh pallet. As shown in processing block 218 the truss device comprises a truss leg wire, the truss leg wire traversing at least a section of a leg of the wire mesh pallet. As shown in processing block 220 the truss device comprises a cover, the cover traversing at least a section of the wire mesh pallet.

Processing continues on FIG. 10B with processing block 222 which recites adding a runner, the runner in mechanical communication with a bottom of a first leg and a bottom of at least one other leg. Processing block 224 discloses wherein the wire mesh pallet includes a plurality of additional cross wires which function as bottom wires after the wire mesh pallet is formed, the bottom wires generally parallel to the cross wires and in mechanical communication with the line wires. Processing block 226 states wherein the wire mesh pallet includes a plurality of additional cross wires which function as leg reinforcement wires, the leg reinforcement wires in mechanical communication with and extending along at least one side of a first leg and one side of a second leg.

Processing block 228 recites coating the wire mesh. As shown in processing block 230, the coating is applied before forming the wire mesh pallet. As shown in processing block 232, the coating is applied after forming the wire mesh pallet.

The finished pallets can then be nested to maximize the “Cube” in a container for both outbound (from the original point of manufacturing) and return shipping (commonly called “Closed loop”).

Unless otherwise stated, use of the word “substantially” may be construed to include a precise relationship, condition, arrangement, orientation, and/or other characteristic, and deviations thereof as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, to the extent that such deviations do not materially affect the disclosed methods and systems.

Throughout the entirety of the present disclosure, use of the articles “a” or “an” to modify a noun may be understood to be used for convenience and to include one, or more than one of the modified noun, unless otherwise specifically stated.

Elements, components, modules, and/or parts thereof that are described and/or otherwise portrayed through the figures to communicate with, be associated with, and/or be based on, something else, may be understood to so communicate, be associated with, and or be based on in a direct and/or indirect manner, unless otherwise stipulated herein.

Although the methods and systems have been described relative to a specific embodiment thereof, they are not so limited. Obviously many modifications and variations may become apparent in light of the above teachings. Many additional changes in the details, materials, and arrangement of parts, herein described and illustrated, may be made by those skilled in the art.

Having described preferred embodiments of the invention it will now become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that other embodiments incorporating these concepts may be used. Accordingly, it is submitted that that the invention should not be limited to the described embodiments but rather should be limited only by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.