Title:
Hermetically sealed container for stick electrodes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for hermetically sealing stick electrodes is provided. The container comprises a lid and a body such that the lid and body mate to form an hermetic seal. An interference fit is formed between the mating of a seal structure, disposed on either the lid or the body, and its corresponding part thereby hermetically sealing a hollow interior of the container. The hermetic seal is reusable, and, as such, sealing can be reestablished simply by again mating the lid with the body.



Inventors:
Schroeder, Jeffery P. (Tipp City, OH, US)
Nikodym, Anthony F. (Troy, OH, US)
Mohrbacker, Michael A. (Kansasville, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/378251
Publication Date:
09/09/2004
Filing Date:
03/03/2003
Assignee:
SCHROEDER JEFFERY P.
NIKODYM ANTHONY F.
MOHRBACKER MICHAEL A.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/780, 220/795
International Classes:
B65D17/40; B65D43/02; B65D85/26; (IPC1-7): B65D17/40; B65D41/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patrick S. Yoder (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A container for stick electrodes, comprising: a hollow body having a ribbed exterior portion; and a lid configured to mate with the body, the lid having an interior surface; wherein an hermetic seal is formed via engagement between the exterior and interior sections to seal an enclosed volume configured to receive a plurality of stick electrodes.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the hermetic seal comprises an interference fit between the ribbed exterior portion and the interior surface.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein the hollow body and lid comprise an injection molded plastic.

4. The container of claim 3, wherein the injection molded plastic comprises a high density polyethylene (HDPE).

5. The container of claim 1, wherein the ribbed portion comprises a latching rib adapted to engage a stop rib disposed on the interior surface, wherein engagement between the latching rib and stop rib removably secures the lid to the body.

6. The container of claim 1, further comprising a separable secondary seal adapted to hermetically seal the container.

7. The container of claim 1, further comprising an indicator, the indicator adapted to provide visual indication of initial separation of the lid and body.

8. A container for stick electrodes, comprising; a plastic hollow body having a plurality of ribs disposed continuously about a perimeter of an exterior surface; a plastic lid having an interior surface, wherein the interior surface and ribs engage to form an interference fit, the interference fit adapted to hermetically seal an enclosed volume configured to receive a plurality of stick electrodes; and an indicator disposed about a joint of the container, the indicator adapted to indicate initial separation of the lid from the body.

9. The container of claim 8, wherein the indicator provides a second hermetic seal for the enclosed volume.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein the indicator visually indicates breach of the second hermetic seal.

11. The container of claim 8, wherein the body comprises a base portion, the base portion adapted to maintain the hollow body in an upright position.

12. The container of claim 8, wherein the body comprises a flange portion, the flange portion adapted to restrict movement of the lid, and wherein the flange portion and lid mate to form a substantially continuous surface.

13. The container of claim 8, wherein the body comprises a latching rib adapted to engage a stop rib disposed on the interior surface, wherein engagement between the latching rib and stop rib removably secures the lid to the body.

14. The container of claim 8, wherein the body and lid comprise a high density polyethylene (HDPE).

15. A container for stick electrodes, comprising: a first plastic hollow body adapted to carry a plurality of stick electrodes; a second plastic hollow body adapted to mate with the first hollow body; and an integrated seal structure disposed on either the first or second body, the integrated seal structure adapted to form an hermetic seal upon mating of the first and second bodies.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the integrated seal structure comprise a plurality of ribs.

17. The container of claim 16, wherein the integrated seal structure is reusable.

18. The container of claim 15, further comprising a separable sealing ring adapted to hermetically seal the container.

19. A container for stick electrodes, comprising: a first plastic hollow body, the adapted to mate with a second plastic hollow body thereby forming an enclosure, the enclosure configured to house a plurality of stick electrodes; packaging at least partially disposed about external surfaces of the first and second bodies, the packing adapted to form an initial hermetic seal for the enclosure; and an interface between the first and second bodies, the interface adapted to form a reusable hermetic seal independent of the initial hermetic seal.

20. The container of claim 19, wherein the first and second hollow bodies comprise an injection molded plastic.

21. The container of claim 20, wherein the injection molded plastic comprises a high density polyethylene (HDPE).

22. The container of claim 19, wherein the reusable hermetic seal comprises a plurality of ribs disposed on either the first or second body.

23. A method for hermetically sealing stick electrodes, comprising: forming a hollow plastic body via an injection molding process, wherein the plastic body comprises a plurality of continuous ribs disposed about a perimeter of an exterior surface; forming a plastic lid via an injection molding process; disposing at least one stick electrode within the plastic hollow body; and mating the lid with the body such that the mating of the ribs with an interior surface of the lid forms an hermetic seal between the lid and body.

24. The method of claim 23, further comprising visually indicting initial separation of the lid from the body.

25. The method of claim 23, further comprising at least partially disposing removable packaging about a joint, the packing adapted to form an initial hermetic seal.

26. The method of claim 23, further comprising removably securing the lid to the body.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to containers for welding electrodes, and more particularly, to a hermetically sealed container for stick electrodes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Welding is a method that may be used to join work pieces, typically by fusing and adding materials at a joint location. An exemplary type of welding process is arc welding. To facilitate this form of welding, an electric source is generally coupled to an electrode. An electric arc is produced between the electrode and the work piece when the electrode is brought into close proximity to, or in contact with, the work piece. Electric current flows from the power source, through the electrode to the work piece and back to the electrical power source through a conductive cable. The heat produced by the arc melts the work piece, or work pieces. The molten metal cools once the arc is removed, causing the molten material to solidify. Material comprising the electrode is often also melted and added to the joint. Stick electrodes are one type of electrode used in arc welding, and are particularly favored in simple, robust systems, as well as for highly portable welding applications.

[0003] In typical systems, the type of weld and ambient conditions are factors that may be decisive in determining the optimal electrode type for use with a given task. Stick electrodes, for example, are available in various sizes and materials, and often include some type of flux, applied as an external coating, that facilitates flow of metal and protects the weld. For best performance, stick electrodes are stored in an hermetically sealed container. Depending on the electrode type selected, unnecessary exposure to air and moisture can negatively affect the performance of the weld, particularly due to degradation in the flux coating. For example, certain electrode types, when exposed to the atmosphere, will absorb moisture. Such moisture may lead to cracking or unwanted porosity in the weld. In turn, this can lead to premature failure and poor quality of the weld. Although electrodes exposed to moisture may be restored via a redrying process, this process can be expensive and time consuming. Moreover, there is no assurance that the electrode can be restored to its original condition.

[0004] To protect stick electrodes during transport from the manufacturer to the consumer, electrodes are typically sold in containers that conform dimensionally to the electrodes. To further protect the electrodes, the containers may have supplemental packaging to prevent the ingress of ambient air and moisture. This supplemental packaging, however, must be removed in order to use the electrodes. In other words, once this supplemental packaging is removed, any sealed protection provided by such is lost. To preserve the quality of the electrodes, the user must subsequently place the electrodes in another container that provides the necessary protection. Thus, the consumer is burdened with an unnecessary expense, as the original container provided by the manufacturer is typically discarded. Where several electrode types, or large quantities of electrodes are needed, many such replacement containers may be required.

[0005] Additionally, traditional original packaging containers for stick electrodes are formed via a relatively imprecise molding process. As such, these containers typically cannot provide the good tolerances generally necessary for reusable sealing.

[0006] There exists a need for a novel container for stick electrodes that can protect against unwanted degradation of the electrodes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present technique provides a resealable container for stick electrodes designed to respond to such needs. According to one embodiment of the present technique, a container for stick electrodes is provided that comprises a hollow body having a ribbed exterior section. The container further comprises a lid configured to mate with the body. In one exemplary embodiment, an interference fit is formed upon engagement of the interior of the lid with the ribbed exterior section of the hollow body.

[0008] According to another embodiment of the present technique, an integrated seal structure, disposed on either a first or second hollow body of a container for stick electrodes, forms a reusable hermetic seal upon the mating of the first and second hollow bodies.

[0009] According to yet another aspect of the present technique, a method for hermetically sealing stick electrodes is provided. The method may comprise forming a plastic lid and hollow body via an injection molding process. The method may further comprise mating the lid and body such that the mating forms an hermetic seal between the lid and body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The foregoing and other advantages and features of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings in which:

[0011] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container for stick electrodes according to an exemplary embodiment of the present technique, the container being illustrated in the assembled configuration;

[0012] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container for stick electrodes of FIG. 1 in the open configuration illustrating the lid portion separated from the body portion;

[0013] FIG. 3 is a side view of the body portion of the container including a ribbed portion;

[0014] FIG. 4 is a detail view of the ribbed portion of the container illustrated in FIG. 3, the detail view illustrating an exemplary interface between the inner surface of a lid and the ribbed portion of the container, the outline of the lid represented by the dashed lines;

[0015] FIG. 5 is a partial cut-away view of the container lid illustrating a stop rib disposed on the interior surface of the lid; and

[0016] FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the container lid along lines 6-6 illustrated in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0017] Referring generally to FIGS. 1 and 2, an exemplary container for stick electrodes is illustrated. FIG. 1 depicts the container 10 in an assembled configuration, whereas FIG. 2 depicts the container 10 in an open configuration. The exemplary container 10 comprises a hollow body 12 mated with a lid 14. Both the lid 14 and body 12 may be formed from plastic. However, other materials may also be envisaged. In one preferred embodiment, the body 12 and lid 14 may be formed of a plastic such as high density polyethylene (HDPE). Additionally, in yet another preferred embodiment, both the lid 14 and the body 12 may be formed via an injection molding process. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, during injection molding, plastic resin is heated and injected into a preformed mold. The resin is allowed to cool and then molded container components are subsequently removed. By employing this process, for example, improved tolerances between mating portions may be achieved. Moreover, cleaner surfaces and crisper edges may be produced. Such enhanced structural features facilitate creation of mutually cooperating molded-in or integral sealing elements and surfaces as described more fully below.

[0018] In FIGS. 1 and 2, a number of exemplary structural features of the container 10 are illustrated. For example, the body 12 may comprise a label portion 16, the label portion 16 may be configured for placement of a label identifying the manufacturer of the electrodes, the type of electrodes, usage or manufacturing dates, and so forth. Additionally, the body 12 comprises a base portion 18 that extends outwardly from the body 12. The base portion 18 providing a larger footprint for the container 10 and, as such, facilitates placement of the container 10 in an upright position. It should be noted that by employing injection-molding techniques, additional complex and intricate designs and features may be molded into the shape of the container. As applied to the exemplary embodiments, injection molding permits close tolerances for and between dimensions of the container to be achieved.

[0019] When in the assembled position, as illustrated in FIG. 1, a hollow interior 20 may be hermetically sealed. As such, materials or elements disposed within the hollow interior 20 are protected from the environment 22. For example, electrodes 24 disposed within the hollow interior 20 may be protected from unwanted moisture and the absorption of such from the environment 22. During shipping from the manufacturer to the consumer, for example, the electrodes 24 disposed within the hollow interior 20 of the exemplary container 10 would remain isolated from the moisture within the surrounding environment 22. Moreover, the electrodes 24 would remain fresh, thereby affording optimal performance.

[0020] Disposed around the exterior of the exemplary container 10 may be one of several types of external packaging 26. An exemplary type of external packaging 26 may be placed about at least a portion of the external surfaces of both the body 12 and lid 14. Preferably, the packaging 26 is placed over a joint 28 (see FIG. 1), the joint 28 being disposed along a visible mating junction between the lid 14 and the body 12. The exemplary external packaging 26 may serve a number of functions. For example, the packaging 26 may be closely affixed to the exterior surface of the container 10 so as to provide a removable hermetic seal that prevents the ingress of moisture and contaminants into the hollow interior 20. In the exemplary embodiment, the packaging 26 comprises an adhesive tape affixed about the joint 28. Because the packaging 26 must be removed prior to accessing the electrodes 24 disposed within the container 10, the packaging 26 may also comprise an indicator 30. The indicator 30 may be employed to signify to the consumer that the lid 14 and body 12 may have been separated after the manufacturer has sealed the container 10. In the exemplary embodiment, the indicator 30 comprises a tear-strip disposed about the joint 28. To separate the lid 14 from the body 12 for access to the electrodes 24, the consumer would pull the tear-strip 30, thereby visibly breaching the packaging 26 and indicating possible prior separation. However, once the tear-strip 30 is removed, the external packaging 26 no longer provides an hermetic seal to the hollow interior 20.

[0021] In FIG. 2, the container 10 is illustrated in the open configuration. A flange 32 may be disposed about a perimeter of the body 12. Preferably, the flange 32 interacts with the lid 14 so as to define the maximum travel of the lid 14 onto the body 12. In other words, the base of the lid 14 abuts against the flange 32 and, as such, the flange 32 prevents further downward movement of the lid 14. The flange 32 also may be radially dimensioned so as to conform to the external perimeter of the lid 14. If so designed, flange 32 and the external surface of the lid 14 would form a substantially continuous surface at the joint 28. The flange 32 may also be dimensioned similarly to the base portion 18 to facilitate stacking of the containers.

[0022] Also illustrated in FIG. 2, is a ribbed portion 34 disposed on the exterior of the body 12. The ribbed portion 34 may be located above the flange 32 about the perimeter of the body 12 and may also be integrally molded into the body 12. Although the exemplary embodiment illustrates the ribbed portion 34 on the body 12, the ribbed portion 34 may also be disposed on an interior surface of the lid 14 as well. The ribbed portion 34 comprises a plurality of ribs 36 that, in the instant embodiment, are spaced from one another. By employing an injection molding process, for example, good dimensional tolerances with respect to each of the ribs 36 can be achieved.

[0023] Turning to FIGS. 3 and 4, further details regarding the exemplary ribbed portion 34 are illustrated. As stated above, the ribs 36 are spaced from one another. Moreover, in the illustrated embodiment, the ribs 36 are dimensioned substantially identically to one another. Each rib 36, in the exemplary embodiment, runs continuously about the perimeter of the body 12. As the lid 14 is brought into engagement with the body 12, each successive rib 36 engages with the interior surface 38 of the lid 14 (see FIG. 4). The engagement between each rib 36 and the interior surface 38 preferably forms an interference fit between the two structures. Additionally, each rib may, upon engagement with the interior surface 38, elastically deform so as to both further conform with and better seal against, the interior surface 38.

[0024] When the lid 14 is fully engaged with the body 12 and abuts against the flange 32 (the lid 14 shown in dashed lines in FIG. 4), each rib 36 engages with a respective portion of the interior surface 38 and resultantly forms a seal. The ingress of contaminants from the ambient environment 22, more particularly moisture, is prevented by the interference fit between the interior surface 38 and each rib 36. In a present and particularly preferred embodiment, the engaged ribs 36, in conjunction with the interior surface 38, form an hermetic seal. Because the injection-molding process, for example, permits good dimensional tolerances to be realized, the achieved uniformity facilitates the hermetic seal being maintained along the length of the ribbed portion 34. Advantageously, because the interior surface only engages the ribs 36 along the ribbed portion 34, the force necessary to overcome the cumulative resistive force of the engaged ribbed portion 34 is limited. Additionally, between each rib 36 a recess 40 is formed. Each recess 40 may provide an area for containments to collect. When viewed cumulatively, the recesses 40 may also provide a labyrinth-like structure that further prevents the ingress of unwanted contaminants, particularly moisture. An o-ring type seal 42 may also be placed around the ribbed portion 34 for additional sealing. When provided, this seal 42, in conjunction with the lid 14, provides an additional hermetic seal to the container 10.

[0025] Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, disposed directly above the ribbed portion 34 may be a latch rib 44. Preferably, the latching rib 44 is slightly larger than the ribs 36. Moreover, the latching rib 44 may be dimensioned to engage with a stop rib 46 disposed on the interior surface 38 of the lid 14. As the lid 14 is placed onto the body 12, the stop rib 46 abuts against the top of the latching rib 44. This abutment impedes the movement of the lid. However, as additional downward force is applied, the engagement between the stop rib 46 and the latching rib 44 outwardly elastically deforms the lid 14. Subsequently, the stop rib 46 moves past the latching rib 44 coming to rest in a recess 40 while the lid 14 snaps back into its previous undeformed state. At this point, lid 14 is removably secured to the body 12. A force in the opposite direction would then be required to again deform the lid 14 thereby allowing removal of the lid 14 from the body 12. This feature prevents the lid 14 from unintentionally escaping from the body 12 and also adds to the frictional resistance to removal provided by the engagement of the ribs 36 against the interior surface 38. Preferably, the stop rib 46 is positioned on the lid 14 such that the lid 14 abuts against the flange 32 immediately after the stop rib 46 passes the latching rib 44. The engagement between the stop rib 46 and the latching rib 44 thereby biases the lid 14 into the flange 32 thereby creating a tight fit between the lid 14 and the flange 32 at the joint 28. This tight fit not only retards the ingress of contaminants, but also prevents unwanted movement of the lid 14 while on the body 12.

[0026] In operation of the exemplary embodiment, the consumer would remove the tear-strip 30 thereby breaking a first hermetic seal provided by the manufacturer. Nonetheless, the engagement of the ribbed portion 34 with the interior surface 38 of the lid 14 maintains another hermetic seal, thereby preserving the hermetically sealed nature of the container 10. By applying a removal force, the consumer is able to disengage the lid 14 from the body 12 to access the electrodes 24. Subsequently, the consumer may hermetically reseal the electrodes 24 within the original container 10 provided by the manufacturer by placing the lid 14 back on the body 12. The ribs 36 would reengage the interior surface 38 of the lid 14, thereby hermetically resealing the electrodes 24 within the container 10. This, advantageously, allows the consumer to store the electrodes 24 within the original container provided by the manufacturer. Because the original container is hermetically resealable, the consumer would no longer be required to purchase a secondary container inside of which the electrodes are to be stored.

[0027] While the invention may be susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and have been described in detail herein. However, it should be understood that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the following appended claims. For example, the form, spacing and number of ribs sufficient to provide the desired seal may be vary between the embodiments.