Title:
Folding bin
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A folding storage bin is positionable between an open position and a closed position via a drawstring. A plurality of side members are attached to an exterior side of a liner, and a drawstring is threaded through the side members and the liner. In the open position, pulling the drawstring brings the side members into a facing relationship disposed substantially end-to-end. In a preferred arrangement, the liner is sized and shaped such that in the closed position, a flexible pocket is formed between adjacent ends of the side members. The pockets prevent small parts from falling out of the corners of the bin and help to prevent smaller items from getting caught in the bin corners, which would prevent the bin from closing properly.



Inventors:
Hagan, Luke D. (Providence, RI, US)
Murray, Christopher (Charlottesville, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/900906
Publication Date:
03/17/2005
Filing Date:
07/28/2004
Assignee:
Murray & Co. (Charlottesville, VA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C7/00; (IPC1-7): A45C7/00
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A folding storage bin comprising: a liner having a first side forming an interior surface of the bin; a plurality of side members attached to a second side of the liner; and a drawstring threaded through the side members and the liner, wherein the bin is positionable via the drawstring between an open position in which the liner and the side members lie in a substantially flat configuration and a closed position in which the side members are disposed substantially end-to-end in a facing relationship, and wherein the line is sized and shaped such that in the closed position, a flexible pocket is formed between adjacent ends of the side members.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/490,262, filed Jul. 28, 2003, the entire content of which is herein incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

(NOT APPLICABLE)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a folding bin and, more particularly, to a folding bin including features that facilitate opening, closing and transport of the bin while capturing but at the same time preventing bin contents from becoming trapped in the corners.

Folding storage bins have been in existence for a long time. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 191,712 granted in Jun. of 1877. Such bins have been provided with varying means for opening and closing the bin. One such means is provided by way of a drawstring. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 648,182 and U.S. Pat. No. 1,725,526. The drawstring is typically used to draw attached panels through which the drawstring is threaded into a facing relationship to thereby form the sides of the bin.

A problem occurs, however, in that smaller items in the bin can get caught in the corners of the bin formed by adjacent sides, thereby preventing the bin from closing properly. Another problem results from a construction of the bin sides and bottom, such that there is an “inside” and an “outside,” necessitating that the container can be oriented only one way. Typically, the bin side ends about which the bin sides are pivoted to the closed position are disposed adjacent a bottom member or the like, wherein upon the event that the bin may be folded in an opposite or “inside-out” direction, adjacent portions of the bin sides may be subject to breakage. Another problem with existing folding bins is that, when laid flat, or unfolded such that items may be swept onto the flat surface, cutouts in the corners make a pervious or incomplete surface onto which the contents may be swept; and the contents may not be gathered onto the surface when attempting to pick them up.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It would thus be desirable to provide a folding storage bin that is easily opened and closed while preventing contents from getting caught in or falling through the bin corners. Additionally, the side members may be positioned relative to a bottom member such that the bin has no specific inside or outside surface, and such that the members are less likely to break in the event the bin is inadvertently folded in an inside-out direction.

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, a folding storage bin includes a liner having a first side forming an interior surface of the bin. A plurality of side members are attached to a second side of the liner. A drawstring is threaded through the side members and the liner, wherein the bin is positionable via the drawstring between an open position in which the liner and the side members lie in a substantially flat configuration and a closed position in which the side members are disposed substantially end-to-end in a facing relationship. The liner is sized and shaped such that in the closed position, a flexible pocket is formed between adjacent ends of the side members.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the folding storage bin according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates the folding bin in its opened position;

FIG. 3 shows an exterior side of the folding bin with the bin in the opened position;

FIG. 4 shows the folding bin with an alternative to eyelets; and

FIG. 5 shows the folding bin with a safety feature.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the folding bin 10 of the present invention is generally configurable between a closed position (FIG. 1) and an open positioned (FIG. 2). The bin 10 includes a liner 12 preferably formed of a soft and flexible material such as vinyl tarpaulin or similar light or heavy duty non-wovens, canvas or similar fabrics. As shown in FIG. 2, the liner 12 may be formed in an octagonal shape, although those of ordinary skill in the art will certainly contemplate other shapes suitable for the bin of the present invention, and the invention is not necessarily meant to be limited to the illustrated shape. By using a single sheet of fabric for the liner 12, a first or inside surface of the liner 12 can be made smooth so that small parts are prevented from impeding hinge points. This first side of the liner forms an interior surface of the bin 10 in the closed position.

A plurality of side members 14 are attached to a second or outside surface of the liner 12. The side members 14 are formed of a more or less rigid material such as cardboard, plywood, corrugated plastic or similar materials that are affixed to the liner by means of adhesives, sewing or other suitable mechanical means that more or less permanently maintains their positions relative to each other. In a preferred arrangement, the bin also includes a bottom member 16 also affixed to the second side of the liner 12. In one embodiment, a pair of liners 12 of identical or varying sizes and shapes are fixed on opposite sides of the side members 14. In all embodiments, the liner 12 performs as an integral hinge that permits the form when folded to become a polygonal container shape.

In the embodiment illustrated in the FIGURES, with the octagonal shaped liner 12, four side members 14 are affixed to the liner 12 surrounding a perimeter of a polygonal bottom member 16 (see FIG. 3). With alternative liner shapes, more or fewer side members 14 may be used. Additionally, depending on the material of the liner 12, the bottom member 16 may be omitted.

Each side member 14 and the liner 12 are provided with holes 18 therein including eyelets 20. With reference to FIG. 1, the holes and eyelets 18, 20 are disposed in upper corner areas of the side members 14, and a drawstring 22 is threaded through the side members 14 and the liner 12 via the holes and eyelets 18, 20. In an alternative arrangement, with reference to FIG. 4, loops 31 of ribbon or similar material may be sewn or otherwise fixed to the perimeter of the side member 14 in substitution for the holes and eyelets 18, 20 in similar places along the perimeter of the side member 14.

In the open position, the liner 12 and the side members 14 lie in a substantially flat configuration as shown in FIG. 2. In order to draw the bin 10 into the closed position, the drawstring 22 is pulled so that the side members 14 pivot such that they are disposed end-to-end in a facing relationship as shown in FIG. 1. The drawstring 22 preferably includes a pull tab 24 that makes pulling the drawstring 22 easier and more comfortable. Additionally, a cord lock 26 of conventional construction secures the bin 10 in the closed position. The drawstring 22 is preferably of a length that is slightly longer than necessary such that the cord lock 26 does not get stuck underneath a side member 14 in the open position (see FIG. 2).

By virtue of the size and shape of the liner 12, as the bin 10 is shifted from the open position (FIG. 2) toward the closed position (FIG. 1), flexible pockets 28 are formed between adjacent ends of the side members 14. These pockets 28 prevent small parts from falling out of the corners of the bin 10. Additionally, being soft and flexible, the pockets 28 are easily folded out of the way if the bin 10 is stored on a shelf or in a cubby.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 and 3, the side members 14 are preferably provided with scalloped sides 14a, which in addition to providing a unique aesthetic, prevent smaller items in the bin from getting caught in the corners, which items would prevent the bin from closing properly.

In one preferred arrangement, with reference to FIG. 3, a gap between the side members 14 and the bottom member 16 is set at a distance such that the members 14, 16 will not break or be otherwise damaged if the bin 10 is inadvertently folded “inside-out.” In the illustrated embodiment, the gap is about ⅛th inch, although this gap may require adjustment depending on the size/construction of the materials used.

FIG. 5 incorporates a safety feature that may be included to avoid a strangling hazard. As shown, exterior portions of the drawstring 22 are fed through a rigid tubing member 30, preferably formed of plastic. The tubing member 30 may be added along two opposite (or all) sides. The tubing member(s) 30 facilitate transport of the bin and prevent the drawstring slack from becoming a strangling hazard. As also shown in FIG. 5, the side members 14 may be relieved or scalloped between the eyelets 20 to permit the liner 12 to lie more flatly on the floor.

With the folding storage bin of the present invention, the bin can be easily opened and closed while preventing smaller items from getting caught in the bin corners. The bin enables small items such as toys to be easily gathered and stored. Additionally, the smooth liner surface serves as a convenient work/play area and also prevents smaller items from impeding the hinge points.

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.