Title:
Disk carrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carrier for storing and transporting disks, includes grooves in the sidewalls of the carrier for aligning disks. A top cover used with the carrier includes at least one longitudinal, downward extending support, which contacts the outside diameter of any disks held in the grooves in the carrier when the top cover is attached to the carrier. A bottom cover similarly includes at least one longitudinal, upward extending support that contacts the outside diameter of any disks held in the grooves in the carrier when the bottom cover is attached to the carrier. The top cover and the bottom cover apply minimal pressure to the disks, but advantageously serve to secure the disks within the carrier.



Inventors:
Dunford, William W. A. (Boulder, CO, US)
Kumar, Rene D. (Lafayette, CO, US)
Blankenbeckler, David L. (Longmont, CO, US)
Medower, Brian S. (Boulder, CO, US)
Application Number:
09/920004
Publication Date:
02/06/2003
Filing Date:
07/31/2001
Assignee:
DUNFORD WILLIAM W.A.
KUMAR RENE D.
BLANKENBECKLER DAVID L.
MEDOWER BRIAN S.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
G9B/33.014, G9B/33.019, 206/454
International Classes:
G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): A47G19/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, KHOA H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stee Volk (Boulder, CO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An apparatus for holding disks, said apparatus comprising: a carrier having two sidewalls adjoining two endwalls and a top opening, said carrier having a plurality of grooves for receiving disks on said two sidewalls; and a top cover having at least one downwardly extending support extending in a longitudinal direction on said top cover, said at least one downwardly extending support contacts the outside diameter of disks positioned in said grooves.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said top cover has two downwardly extending supports.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein said two downwardly extending supports are beveled.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said top cover has two end portions that fit over said endwalls of said carrier.

5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said top cover has a downwardly extending lip that fits over said sidewalls of said carrier.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said carrier has a bottom opening, said apparatus further comprising: a bottom cover having at least one upwardly extending support extending in a longitudinal direction on said bottom cover, said at least one upwardly extending support contacts the outside diameter of disks positioned in said grooves.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said bottom cover has two upwardly extending supports.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said bottom cover has a raised portion that fits into said bottom opening.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said at least one downwardly extending support is flexible.

10. An apparatus for holding disks, said apparatus comprising: a carrier having two sidewalls adjoining two endwalls a top opening and a bottom opening, said carrier having a plurality of grooves for receiving disks on said two sidewalls; and a bottom cover having at least one upwardly extending support extending in a longitudinal direction on said bottom cover, said at least one upwardly extending support contacts the outside diameter of disks positioned in said grooves.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein said bottom cover has two upwardly extending supports.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said two upwardly extending supports are beveled.

13. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein said bottom cover has a raised portion that fits into said bottom opening.

14. The apparatus of claim 10, further comprising: a top cover having at least one downwardly extending support extending in a longitudinal direction on said top cover, said at least one downwardly extending support contacts the outside diameter of disks positioned in said grooves.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said top cover has two downwardly extending supports.

16. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said top cover has two end portions that fit over said endwalls of said carrier.

17. An apparatus for holding disks, said apparatus comprising: a carrier having a plurality of grooves for receiving disks; and a top cover having a first longitudinal support extending in a downward direction; a bottom cover having a second longitudinal support extending in an upward direction; wherein said first longitudinal support and said second longitudinal support extend sufficiently to contact the outside diameter of disks positioned in said grooves in said carrier, wherein disks positioned in said grooves are supported by said first longitudinal support and said second longitudinal support.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said top cover has said first longitudinal support and a third longitudinal support extending in a downward direction.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said bottom cover has said second longitudinal support and a fourth longitudinal support extending in an upward direction.

20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said first longitudinal support and said second longitudinal support extend longitudinally over all of said plurality of grooves.

21. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said first longitudinal support and said second longitudinal support a re beveled.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a container for storing and transporting disks and, in particular, to a container that prevents movement of the media without deflecting or damaging the media.

[0003] 2. Discussion of the Related Art

[0004] Disks are typically used as storage media, including magnetic, optical, and magneto-optical storage. The disks are typically made of aluminum, glass or plastic and are subjected to many processing steps. The disks must be transported from place of manufacturer to processing facilities and must be transported within such processing facilities. It is important that the disks are transported in a manner that will minimize damage and contamination of the disks. Typically disks are transported in plastic containers adapted for providing a generally sealed enclosure along with providing secure retention and cushioning for the disks.

[0005] At present the disks are transported in a hard plastic container having spaced-apart interior ridges which curve inward toward the bottom of the container to capture a portion of the edge of magnetic hard disks on opposite sides to keep the disks separated from each other. These containers also have open top and bottom sides, as well as partially open ends to facilitate loading of a full complement of disks into the container without the disks coming into contact with each other during that process. Disks are loaded into the container by pressing the disks between the interior ridges. FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of the ridges 10 used in a conventional container and shows a portion of a disk 12 pressed between ridges 10a and 10b. Conventionally, the width of the groove formed between ridges 10a and 10b is slightly narrower than the width of the disk. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 1, when a disk 12 is pressed between ridges, a force, shown as arrows 14, compresses the width of the disk at the outside diameter of the disk. Consequently, the disk 10 is secured within the container. Once the disks are loaded into the container, a bottom cover, and combined top and end cap cover are snapped in place on the container. Typically, the top cover includes spaced-apart inwardly projecting tabs that are positioned to correspond to the internal ridges of the container, which also fit on opposite sides of the edge of each disk at the top of the container.

[0006] There are several problems introduced by the conventional container design, particularly with non-conventional disks, e.g., small form factor disks manufactured from a soft material. For example, securing the disks by the outer edge during transit, as illustrated in FIG. 2, has the potential for damaging the outer most tracks on the top and bottom surfaces of the disks. This is particularly true for a disk manufactured with a soft substrate. Further, the conventional design of the top cover requires that the inwardly projecting tabs from the top cover also exert a compressive force on the width of the disks to assure proper retention.

[0007] Thus, what is needed is a container that will securely hold disks for storage and transport without compressing the width of the disk so as to avoid damage to the disks.

SUMMARY

[0008] A carrier for storing and transporting disks uses a top cover and a bottom cover to support the disks. The carrier includes grooves in the sidewalls that provide alignment and spacing for the disks but that does not compress the disk. Thus, a disk manufactured from a soft substrate can be stored and transported in the carrier without being damaged.

[0009] The top cover for the carrier includes at least one longitudinal, downward extending support that contacts the outside diameter of any disks held in the grooves in the carrier when the top cover is attached to the carrier. Two downward extending supports, each offset from the center of the top cover may be used. The longitudinal downward extending support applies minimal pressure to edge of the disks, but advantageously serves to secure the disks within the carrier.

[0010] The bottom cover for the carrier includes at least one longitudinal, upward extending support that contacts the outside diameter of any disks held in the grooves in the carrier when the bottom cover is attached to the carrier. As with the downward extending supports, two upward extending supports that are offset from the center of the bottom cover may be used and provide minimal pressure to the disks, but advantageously serve to secure the disks within the carrier.

[0011] With the use of the top and bottom covers with longitudinal supports, the disks may be securely held and transported with no compression along the width of the disks and only minimal compression along the edge of the disks.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of the ridges in a conventional container using compressive force to secure a disk.

[0013] FIGS. 2, 3, and 4 are respective isometric, end, and top views of a carrier in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the area A circled in FIG. 4, showing a closer view of the grooves.

[0015] FIGS. 6 and 7 are respective isometric and end views of a top cover that is used with carrier.

[0016] FIGS. 8 and 9 are respective isometric and end views of a bottom cover that is used with carrier.

[0017] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the carrier along line B-B in FIG. 4, with the top cover and bottom cover attached and holding a disk.

[0018] FIGS. 11A, 11B, and 11C show cross-sectional views of alternative embodiments of the carrier with top and bottom covers.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0019] FIGS. 2, 3, and 4 are respective isometric, end, and top views of a carrier 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Carrier 100 is used to hold and protect a plurality of disks, such as magnetic, optical, or magneto-optical hard disks, as well as wafers for manufacture of semiconductors and the like. In particular, carrier 100 is useful to hold and protect disks made with a soft substrate or where minimal compression of the disk is otherwise desirable.

[0020] For example, a small form factor disk that is manufactured with polycarbonate substrate is described in detail in U.S. patent application entitled “Removable Optical Storage Device and System”, by Michael F. Braitberg, et al., filed May 20, 1999, Ser. No. 09/315,398, and U.S. patent application entitled “Miniature Optical Disk for Data Storage” by Medower et al. filed Apr. 28, 2000, Ser. No. 09/560,781, which are assigned to the same assignee and are incorporated herein by reference. The polycarbonate material deforms easily and thus a disk manufactured from a polycarbonate substrate will be damaged if stored in a conventional carrier. Carrier 100, in accordance with the present invention, supports a disk with no compression. The carrier provides only basic spacing of disks and contacts only the disk edge. Thus, the carrier may be used to hold a disk manufactured from a soft substrate, such as that described in Ser. No. 09/560,781, without damaging the outside track of the disk.

[0021] As shown in FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, carrier 100 includes an open top 102 and an open bottom 104, sidewalls 106 and a plurality of grooves 108 in the sidewalls 106. Each groove 108 is configured to hold a disk by contacting only the edge of the outside diameter of the disk. Any desired number of grooves 108 may be used, for example, between 20 and 60, and more specifically 42 and 46. The carrier 100 also includes endwalls 110, which are adjacent to the sidewalls 106, a top surface 112 that extends around the sidewalls 106 and the endwalls 110, and a bottom surface 113 on the endwalls 110. Endwalls 110 include holes 110a, which are used to secure a bottom cover (shown in FIGS. 8 and 9) to carrier 100. The endwalls 110 also include a “U-shaped” recess 114, which aid in loading and unloading the carrier 100.

[0022] FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the area A circled in FIG. 4. FIG. 5 shows a closer view of grooves 108, which support disks from the outside diameter of the disks so as to avoid compression of the disks. Grooves 108 provide basic spacing between disks. which support the outside diameter of the disks without compression. Each groove 108 includes a valley 122 with a peak 124 on either side. The grooves 108, as defined by the valleys 122 and peaks 124, run from the top surface 112 to the open bottom 104, shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4.

[0023] The dimensions of the groove 108 should be adequate to support a desired disk without compression. For example, assuming a disk formed using a polycarbonate substrate and having an outside diameter of 32 mm and a thickness of 0.6 mm, groove 108 may have the following dimensions. The valley 122 has a width W122 of approximately 0.762 mm, the peak 124 has a width W124 of approximately 1.30 mm, and sidewall 122a is at an angle α of approximately 115° with the valley 122. Because the width W122 of the groove is greater than the thickness of the disk, the disk is not compressed. The grooves 108 are spaced apart by a distance d108 of approximately 3.48 mm. Of course, if desired other dimensions may be used, particularly if any of the dimensions of the disk are altered.

[0024] FIGS. 6 and 7 are respective isometric and end views of a top cover 150 that is used with carrier 100. Top cover 150 includes a top portion 152 and downwardly extending end portions 154, which include flanges 155. The perimeter of the top portion 152 includes a downwardly extending lip 156. In addition, top cover 150 includes two downwardly projecting supports 158, which extend longitudinally along the top cover 150, e.g., from one end portion 154 to the other end portion 154. Supports 158 are positioned between the edges of the top portion 152 and the center of the top portion 152. Top cover 150 is manufactured from a suitable plastic, such a polypropylene homopolymer, model no. Pro-Fax 6331, manufactured by Montell, located in Wilmington Del., or other similar material.

[0025] When top cover 150 is pressed on to carrier 100, the end portions 154 extend over the endwalls 110 of the carriage. Flanges 155 on end portions 154 latch onto the bottom surface 113 of endwalls 110 (shown in FIGS. 2 and 3) to provide a secure connection between carrier 100 and top cover 150. The downwardly extending lip 156 of the top cover 150 extends over the perimeter of the top surface 112 of carrier 100 to make a sealing connection with the carrier 100.

[0026] When top cover 150 is pressed on to carrier 100, the longitudinally extending supports 158 press against the outside diameters of any disks held in the carrier 100. Thus, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the disks held in carrier 100 are aligned and spaced by grooves 108, but are held in placed by the longitudinal supports 158. Advantageously, longitudinal supports 158 place no compression along the thickness of the disks and only a minimal compression along edge of the disks. While FIG. 6 shows supports 158 extending to and contacting end portions 154, it should be understood that supports 158 need not contact end portions 154, but should extend at least over all the grooves 108 so that all the disks held in the container 100 will be in contact with supports 158. Because the supports 158 extend in a longitudinal direction, there is no need to align supports 158 with disks held in carrier 100. In addition, the downwardly projecting supports 158 advantageously provide rigidity to top cover 150.

[0027] The distance that supports 158 extend downward is determined by several factors including their distance from the center of the top cover 150, the depth of the carrier 100 and the radius of curvature of the disks being held in the carrier 100. In one embodiment, the supports 158 extend downwardly from the top portion 152 by a distance D158 of approximately 9.149 mm and have a thickness T158 of approximately 1.57 mm. In one embodiment, the supports 158 are beveled, e.g., by 16 degrees, to minimize contact area with any disks held in carrier 100 and reduce the amount of force exerted on the disk by allowing easier deflection of the support 158. The lip 156 of top cover 150 may extend downward by a distance D156 of approximately 3.18 mm. Of course, if desired top cover 150 may have other dimensions. Further, if desired one longitudinally extending support that extends downwardly from the center of the top surface 152 may be used in place of the two supports 158 shown in FIG. 6.

[0028] FIGS. 8 and 9 are respective isometric and end views of a bottom cover 180 that is used with carrier 100. Bottom cover 180 includes a bottom plate 182 and a raised portion 184 on the bottom plate 182. Raised portion 184 fits into bottom opening 104 of carrier 100 to make a sealing connection with the carrier 100. Bottom cover 180 also includes tabs 186, which include pegs 188. When bottom cover 180 is pressed onto carrier 100, pegs 188 snap fit into holes 110a in the endwalls 110 of carrier 100 thereby securing bottom cover 180 to carrier 100. Bottom cover 180 includes notches 183 at the ends of bottom plate 182 to accommodate the bottom of end portions 154 of the top cover 150. Bottom cover 180 may be manufactured from the same material as described in reference to top cover 150.

[0029] Bottom cover 180 includes upwardly extending supports 190 that extend longitudinally on the raised portion 184. When bottom cover 180 is connected to carrier 100, supports 190 extend into the bottom opening 104 of carrier 100 and press against the outside diameters of any disks held in the carrier 100. Thus, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the disks held in carrier 100 are aligned by grooves 108, but are supported by the upwardly projecting supports 190. In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the upwardly projecting supports 190 and the downwardly projecting supports 158 are used together. Thus, the disks are supported between supports 158 on the top cover 150 and supports 190 on the bottom cover 180. Thus, the disks basically float between the supports 158 and 190 within the carrier with minimal compressive force being asserted along the diameter of the disk and no compressive force being asserted along the thickness of the disk. In another embodiment, bottom cover 180 may not have supports 190, and thus, disks are supported between the bottom of the grooves 108 and the supports 158 on the top cover 150.

[0030] As with the downwardly extending supports 158, the distance that supports 190 extend upward is determined by several factors including their distance from the center of the bottom cover 180, the depth of the bottom opening 104 of carrier 100 and the radius of curvature of the disks being held in the carrier 100. In one embodiment, the supports 190 extend upward above the raised portion 184 a distance D190 which is approximately 3.25 mm and the raised portion 184 extends above the bottom plate 182 by a distance D182 by approximately 2.0 mm. In one embodiment, supports 190 are beveled by approximately seventeen degrees to minimize contact area with the disks in carrier 100. Of course, if desired bottom cover 180 may have other dimensions. Moreover, the bottom cover 180 may have additional features. For example, a break in the upwardly extending supports 190 may be used to accommodate a bottom brace, e.g., between the sidewalls 106 in the bottom opening 104 of carrier 100, if used. Further, if desired one longitudinally extending support that extends upwardly from the center of the raised portion 184 may be used in place of the two supports 190 shown in FIGS. 8 and 9.

[0031] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of carrier 100 at line B-B in FIG. 4, with top cover 150 and bottom cover 180 attached to the carrier 100 and a disk 200 held in carrier 100. As shown in FIG. 10, disk 200 is aligned by grooves 108 along a portion of the outside diameter of disk 200 and is supported between downwardly projecting supports 158 and upwardly projecting supports 190. Thus, disk 200 is securely held within carrier 100 by a plurality of support points and does not rely on contact with groove 108 to secure the disks. Compression is minimized by the deflecting longitudinal supports. FIGS. 11A, 11B, and 11C show cross-sectional views of alternative embodiments of the carrier with top and bottom covers, similar to FIG. 10, like designated elements being the same. As illustrated in FIG. 11A, the top cover 350 may have only one longitudinal support 358, while the bottom cover 180 has two longitudinal supports 190. As shown in FIG. 11B, the bottom cover 380 may have only one longitudinal support 390 while the top cover 150 has two longitudinal supports 158. In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 11C, both the top cover 450 and bottom cover 480 have one longitudinal support 458 and 490, respectively, which may be offset from the center of the covers. Thus, as shown in FIG. 11C, the disk 200 is supported between the longitudinal supports 458 and 490 as well as the sidewall 492 of the groove 108.

[0032] Although the present invention is illustrated in connection with specific embodiments for instructional purposes, the present invention is not limited thereto. Various adaptations and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. The broad principles of this invention may be used with a carrier for any type of disk, whether the disk is optical, magnetic-optical or magnetic or a substrate used in semiconductor manufacturing. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the foregoing description.





 
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