Title:
Water degradable packaging
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A water degradable packing for articles to be shipped which comprises a die cut foam slab made from a water degradable starch based foam having an area of square or rectangular fingers cut into said foam slab and attached to said slab by the uncut portion of said fingers, and an second area without fingers whereby said second area provides cavities suitable to hold the articles. There is also disclosed a process for packaging articles which includes the steps of preparing a water degradable starch based foam base slab of a suitable size, die cutting said slab to form a plurality of fingers attached said base only on the bottom of said fingers, removing a sufficient number of fingers to provide cavities to hold said articles, repeating the above steps to provide a top slab, and securing the articles and slabs inside a suitable container for shipment.



Inventors:
Hurwitz, Michael (Mount Dora, FL, US)
Jester, Roger (Tarpon Springs, FL, US)
Application Number:
09/867043
Publication Date:
12/05/2002
Filing Date:
05/29/2001
Assignee:
HURWITZ MICHAEL
JESTER ROGER
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B55/20; B65D65/46; B65D81/113; (IPC1-7): B65D81/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
B G COLLEY (LAKELAND, FL, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A degradable packing unit for articles to be shipped which comprises a die cut foam slab made from a water degradable starch based foam having a) an area of fingers cut into said foam slab and attached to said slab by the uncut portion of said fingers, and b) an area without fingers whereby said area provides suitable cavities to hold said articles,

2. The packing unit of claim 1 wherein the area of cut fingers and the area without fingers are enclosed by an uncut foam border.

3. The packing unit of claim 1 wherein said fingers are square or rectangular in cross-section.

4. The packing unit of claim 2 wherein said fingers are square or rectangular in cross-section.

5. A process for the packaging of articles using a water degradable starch based foam to protect and cushion said articles which comprises the steps of a) preparing a water degradable starch based foam base slab of a suitable size, b) die cutting said slab to form a plurality of fingers attached to said slab only on the bottom of said fingers, c) removing a sufficient number of fingers to provide cavities for said articles, d) repeating steps a, b, and c, to provide a top slab, and e) securing the articles and slabs inside a suitable container for shipment.

6. The process as set forth in claim 5 wherein said fingers are cut into a square configuration.

7. The process as set forth in claim 5 wherein said fingers are cut into a rectangular configuration.

8. In a process for the packaging of articles for shipment which comprises the steps of preparing one or two foam base slabs, die cutting said foam slabs to form a plurality of fingers having a square or rectangular cross section and attached to said slabs only on the bottom of the fingers, removing a sufficient number of fingers to provide cavities for said articles, securing the articles with the slabs inside a suitable container, the improvement which comprises using a water degradable starch based foam as said foam slabs.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for packaging and specifically to the use of a die cut starch based foam packing that will degrade in water and protect, brace, and cushion items being stored or shipped.

[0002] It is known in the packaging art to prepare packages for shipment using as cushioning a foamed synthetic plastic, cardboard spacers, and cardboard honeycombs. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,765,688: 4,117,929 and 5,462,171. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,826,725 there is disclosed a package having a container for articles to be shipped and a large quantity of biodegradable expanded starch particles that are treated with steam so that the particles are joined together to form a solid cushion surrounding the article. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,485,919 there is disclosed a sterilization tray for medical instruments wherein the tray is made from reticulated polyurethane foam that has been sliced to provide a plurality of vertical fingers which are selectively removed to accommodate the instruments.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention is a die cut starch based foam packing and a method of using it so that items being stored or shipped will be protected, braced, and cushioned. The packing comprises a platform made from a water degradable starch based foam having an area of fingers cut into said foam platform and attached to said platform by the uncut portion of said fingers, and an area widthout fingers whereby said

[0004] area without fingers is deep enough to provide cavities for said articles. The method of using the packing involves the steps of preparing a water degradable starch based foam base platform of a suitable size, die cutting said foam to form a plurality of small fingers attached said base only on the bottom of said fingers, removing a sufficient number of fingers to provide cavities for said articles, providing a similar a top platform, placing the articles between said top and base platforms, and securing the articles and platforms inside a suitable container for shipment.

[0005] The use of this invention affords the user far more flexibility than current die cut alternatives. The invention provides the user with the ability to customize each and every die cut for use with individual and multiple products, as well as those items that are stored or shipped in conjunction with other products.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] The object and advantages of the invention will become apparent when the specification is read in conjunctions with the drawings.

[0007] FIG. 1 shows the invention as applied to a large single article. The article is placed in the base platform of the invention by removing a sufficient amount of the foam fingers to create cavities to accommodate the dimensions of the article. While FIG. 1 shows only fingers with a square configuration, it is to be understood that rectangular figures are also useful in this regard. In a similar manner the top platform is modified to receive the top of the article. FIG. 2 shows the invention as applied to several small items by removing a sufficient amount of the foam fingers to create cavities to accommodate the dimensions of the articles.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0008] FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate the invention but with regard to the reference numerals used therein, the following index is presented to facilitate a better understanding of the numbering system used throughout both of the figures.

[0009] 10 support legs

[0010] 12 foam fingers

[0011] 14 base platform

[0012] 15 top platform

[0013] 16 die cut foam slab

[0014] 17 uncut border for fingers

[0015] 18 large article to be shipped

[0016] 20 cavity for the top of the large article

[0017] 22 first small article to be shipped

[0018] 24 second small article to be shipped

[0019] 26 third small article to be shipped

[0020] 28 cavity for top of first small article

[0021] 30 cavity for top of second article

[0022] 32 cavity for top of third article

[0023] The support legs 10 are glued to the base platform 14 to give strength to the packing. The square or rectangular form fingers 12 are positioned inside the uncut borders 17 to give the fingers more strength. The top platform 15 is identical to the base platform 14 with its foam slab 16 and has a similar foam slab except that the top platform has a cavity 20 created by removal of the proper number of fingers 12 to accommodate the top of the large article 18.

[0024] In a similar manner, the lower slab has a cavity (not shown) that holds the bottom end of the article 18.

[0025] Smaller articles to be shipped such as 22, 24, and 26 are held in place by the cavities 28, 30, and 32 in the upper slab which function in cooperation with the lower −+cavities (not shown).

[0026] The die cutting of plastic forms with die blades is known from U.S. Pat. No. 4,856,393. Other methods of achieving the desired cutting include the use of one or more hot wires and the like.

[0027] The starch based form slabs are commercially available and are cut to the proper width and length to suit the articles being shipped. The, the slabs are die cut to produce a plurality of small vertical fingers that are surrounded by a border of uncut foam which is designed to strengthen the fingers in regard to horizontal movements. The resulting fingers are attaché t the slab only on the bottom of the finger. The small fingers are then selectively removed to create on of more cavities which will be sufficient hold and secure the article or articles which are to b shipped.

[0028] The starch based foam used herein is die cut and results in the creation of a unique pattern of fingers enclosed within an outer uncut border of varying thickness and where the fingers remain joined together by uncut portions of the die cut material. The die cut foam is then attached to each of the base and top platforms by applying an adhesive to the platform structure and the uncut outer border of the body. This allows the fingers to be pulled free at the time the product is used. The base and top may or may not contain support legs that are then attached to the platform with an adhesive.

[0029] The invention allows each user to customize the invention to meet their exact needs for their specific product. The user removes the fingers to match the outside dimension of the product or products the user is storing or shipping. By removing only those fingers that correspond to the product to be stored or shipped, the user creates a protective support

[0030] around each product. The invention additionally allows the user to store or ship more than one item per invention.

[0031] When the starch-based foam of this invention is used, the fingers and borders of the invention can be dissolved or degraded with water leaving only the platform to be recycled or disposed of. The invention will therefore be reduced to a small percentage of its original mass. Synthetic plastic foam die cuts are not easily collectable and recyclable. Poam die cuts end up in landfills in their total form, require much space and breakdown only after lengthy periods of time. Paperboard die cuts do break down over time but if they end up in landfills, it is in their original form and their original mass.

[0032] The invention has many advantages for the user. Presently, users of die cut materials are required to use various shapes of die cuts to protect a myriad of products. The users are forced to purchase multiple die cuts in lower volumes, with higher costs. The invention frees the user to purchase one product and customize it to the user's specifications, achieve a volume discount and thereby reduce costs.

[0033] The packaging product is designed to work as a single unit or in sets of two. The invention can be produced in varying lengths, widths and heights depending on what products it is required to protect, brace, or cushion. The die cut foam slab can also be produced in various shapes as long as the body contains a border and fingers. For example, triangular foam slabs can be used for shippers that require triangular outer cartons.

[0034] It is expected that the invention will be used most often as a set with a top and matching bottom. During the times when the products being packaged have different dimensions on the top and the bottom of the product, the invention used as a top will have different fingers removed from the body than the invention used for the bottom of the product. The invention will be placed within a corrugated cardboard carton for shipping.





 
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