Title:
Films for envelopment of packages and methods of making thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Films for enveloping packages include tear-tapes that define tear-away strips of the films. The tear-tapes help to maintain the shape of the tear-away strips when removed from the films.



Inventors:
Pham, Xuan M. (Glen Allen, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/019787
Publication Date:
07/21/2005
Filing Date:
12/22/2004
Assignee:
Philip Morris USA Inc. (Richmond, VA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/571, 206/824, 206/831
International Classes:
B65D75/54; B65D75/66; B65D75/68; B65D77/00; B65D85/10; (IPC1-7): B65D85/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A method of enveloping packages in films, comprising: providing packages; providing a plurality of individual film sections, the film sections comprising: a first tear-tape extending along a length of the film; and a second tear-tape extending along a length of the film, wherein the first tear-tape is spaced from the second tear-tape; and wrapping the individual film sections around the packages.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first and second tear-tapes are spaced at least ½ inch apart.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein wrapping the film sections comprises: forming a plurality of heat seals from the film sections.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a bobbin of film material; and separating the film material from the bobbin into the individual sections.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a hopper of the individual film sections.

6. The method of claim 1, comprising: forming perforations in the individual film sections at a location between the tear-tapes.

7. A roll of stock material for forming films for enveloping packages, the roll of stock material comprising: a continuous strip of film material; a first tear-tape strip extending along a length of the film material; and a second tear-tape strip extending along a length of the film material, wherein the first tear-tape strip is spaced from the second tear-tape strip.

8. The roll of stock material of claim 7, wherein the first and second tear-tapes are spaced at least ½ inch apart.

9. In combination, a package enveloped within a film, the film comprising: a first tear-tape extending along a length of the film and at least partially around the package; and a second tear-tape extending along a length of the film and at least partially around the package, wherein the first tear-tape is spaced from the second tear-tape.

10. The combination of claim 9, wherein: the package has a base portion and a lid; and the first and second tear-tapes extend around the base portion along a width of the package.

11. The combination of claim 9, wherein the first and second tear-tapes are spaced at least ½ inch apart.

12. The combination of claim 9, wherein a tear-tab extends from the film at an edge of the package.

13. A method of enveloping packages in films, comprising: providing packages, wherein the packages are substantially paralellepipedal and have a base and a lid; providing a plurality of individual film sections, the film sections each comprising a tear tape extending along a portion of the film; wrapping the film sections around the packages, wherein when a film is wrapped around a package, a long dimension of the tear-tape extends along a height of the package.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the long dimension of the tear-tapes is at least ½ inch long.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein wrapping the film sections comprises: forming a plurality of heat seals from the film sections.

16. The method of claim 13, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a bobbin of film material; and separating the film material from the bobbin into the individual film sections.

17. The method of claim 13, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a hopper of the individual film sections.

18. The method of claim 13, comprising: forming perforations in the individual film sections.

19. A roll of stock material for forming films for enveloping packages, the roll of stock material comprising: a continuous strip of film material; a plurality of tear-tapes spaced at a predetermined spacing along the length of the film, a long dimension of the tear-tapes being aligned substantially transversely to a length dimension of the continuous strip of film material.

20. The roll of stock material of claim 19, wherein the long dimension of the tear-tapes is at least ½ inch long.

21. In combination, a package having a base and a lid enveloped within a film, the film comprising: a tear-tape having a long dimension extending along the film material and along a vertical extent of the package.

22. The combination of claim 21, wherein: the tear-tape is at least ½ inch long; and the tear-tape extends along the base portion.

23. The combination of claim 21, wherein the film comprises: a tear-tab extending from the film at an edge of the package.

24. A method of enveloping packages in films, comprising: providing packages; providing a plurality of individual film sections, the film sections comprising: a tear-tape extending along the film, the tear-tape being at least ½ inch wide; and wrapping the individual film sections around the packages.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein wrapping the film sections comprises: forming a plurality of heat seals from the film sections.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a bobbin of film material; and separating the film material from the bobbin into the individual film sections.

27. The method of claim 24, wherein providing a plurality of individual film sections comprises: providing a hopper of the individual film sections.

28. The method of claim 24, wherein each tear-tape extends at least partially around a corresponding package when wrapped around the package, and wherein a width dimension of each tear-tape extends along a height of the corresponding package.

29. The method of claim 24, comprising: forming perforations in the individual film sections.

30. A roll of stock material for forming films for enveloping packages, the roll of stock material comprising: a continuous strip of film material; a strip of tear-tape material extending along a long dimension of the strip of film material, the strip of tear-tape material being at least ½ inch wide.

31. The roll of stock material of claim 30, wherein the strip of tear-tape material is at least ¾ inch wide.

32. In combination, a package having a base and a lid enveloped within a film, the film comprising: a tear-tape, the tear-tape being at least ½ inch wide and extending at least partially around the package.

33. The combination of claim 30, wherein: a width dimension of the tear-tape extends along a height of the package.

34. The combination of claim 30, wherein the tear-tape is at least ¾ inch wide.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims the benefit of provisional application Ser. No. 60/533,261, filed Dec. 31, 2003, in their entirety for all useful purposes.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The technical field is film envelopment of packages. More particularly, the technical field includes films having tear-away portions.

2. Background Art

Film envelopment of packages, such as packages containing cigarettes, is known. Conventional films used to envelop packages, however, are easily torn. Therefore, information printed on such films may be lost when the films are removed from the packages.

There is therefore a need to provide a film for enveloping packages that allows sections of the film to be removed while maintaining an integrity or shape of the removed section.

SUMMARY

According to a first embodiment, a package is enveloped in a film. The film comprises two tear-tapes extending across the film and spaced from one another. The two tear-tapes define a tear-away strip in the film.

According to the first embodiment, the two tear-tapes allow the tear-away strip to be removed while maintaining the shape of the tear-away strip. Therefore, information may be printed on the tear-away strip and the information will not be damaged or truncated when the tear-away strip is removed from the film. According to one aspect of the first embodiment, the tear-away strip may have information printed on an interior surface of the tear-away strip. Information printed on the interior surface is therefore available only after purchase of a product enveloped in the film.

According to a second embodiment, a film comprises a tear-tape arranged on a film such that when the film is wrapped around the package, the tear-tape extends along a vertical extent of the package.

According to the second embodiment, the tear-tape allows a tear-away strip to be removed from the film. Therefore, information may be printed on the tear-away strip and the information will not be damaged or truncated when the strip is removed from the film. According to one aspect of the second embodiment, the tear-away strip may have information printed on an interior surface of the tear-away strip, allowing access to the information after the tear-away strip is removed.

According to a third embodiment, a film comprises a tear-tape arranged on a film such that when the film is wrapped around the package, a width of the tear-tape extends along a vertical extent of the package. The tear-tape is at least ½ inch wide.

According to the third embodiment, the tear-tape defines a tear-away strip that may be removed from the film. Therefore, information may be printed on the tear-away strip and the information will not be damaged or truncated when the strip is removed from the film. According to one aspect of the third embodiment, the tear-away strip may have information printed on an interior surface of the tear-away strip, allowing access to the information after the tear-away strip is removed.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate the above stated advantages and other advantages and benefits of various embodiments of the invention upon reading the following detailed description of the embodiments with reference to the below-listed drawings.

According to common practice, the various features of the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. Dimensions of various features may be expanded or reduced to more clearly illustrate the embodiments of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The detailed description will refer to the following drawings, wherein like numerals refer to like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a package enclosed in a first embodiment of a film;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the package illustrated in FIG. 1 enclosed in the first film embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the film and package illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 in which a tear-away strip is being removed;

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative embodiment to the film illustrated in FIGS. 1-3;

FIGS. 5-6 illustrate a method of manufacturing a film and packaging a package in a film;

FIG. 7 is an isolated view of a tear-tab according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of yet another alternative embodiment; and

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the film and package illustrated in FIG. 8 in which a tear-away strip is being removed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a package 50 enclosed in a film 100. According to one aspect of the invention, the film 100 includes a tear-tab 110 that allows a person to tear away a strip 120 (illustrated in FIG. 3), which may be referred to as the “tear-away strip” 120, of the film 100. The tear-away strip 120 can be pulled away by the tear-tab 110. Information may be printed, for example, on the interior and on the exterior of the tear-away strip 120. For example, the interior of the tear-away strip 120 can include information such as coupon, contest, product information, or other information. FIGS. 5-7 illustrate a method of making the film 100 and enveloping the film 100 about the package 50.

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a package 50 enclosed in the film 100. The package 50 may be, for example, packaging for cigarettes or other tobacco products. FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the package 50 enclosed in the film 100. FIG. 3 illustrates removal of the tear-away strip 120. As shown in FIG. 3, the interior of the tear-away strip 120 can be printed with product information.

Referring to FIG. 2, an edge of the film 100 is sealed at a side seal 102. The side seal 102 can be, for example, a heat seal. End folds of the film 100 are sealed at a top seal 104 and at a bottom seal 106 (the bottom seal 106 is not visible in FIG. 2). The tear-away strip 120 may include, for example, a perforation 112 to aid in removal of the tear-away strip 120. Referring to FIG. 3, the perforation 112 causes tears in the tear-away strip 120 to propagate away from the center of the tear-away strip 120, thereby preserving the shape of the tear-away strip 120. The perforation 112 is illustrated as a “zipper type” perforation. Other types of perforations, however, may be used. The tear-away strip 120 can be sealed to the rest of the film 100 at a seal 125. The seal 125 can be, for example, a heat seal.

According to an aspect of the invention. The shape of the tear-away strip 120 may be maintained during removal by the inclusion of first and second tear-tapes 131, 132. The first tear-tape 131 is spaced from the second tear-tape 132, and the tear-away strip 120 is bounded by the tear-tapes 131, 132. The tear-tapes 131, 132 may be applied, for example, on an interior surface of the film 100. Therefore, the exterior surface of the film 100 may be printed upon without the tear-tapes 131, 132 interfering with the pattern and/or text printed on the exterior of the film 100.

According to the above embodiments, the tear-away strip 120 may provide additional information to the person opening the film 100 to gain access to the package 50. The interior surface of the strip 120 can include information such as, for example, coupon, contest, or other product information. The use of first and second tear-tapes 131, 132 on either side of the tear-away strip 120 serves to maintain the shape of the strip 120, so that the information printed on the interior of the tear-away strip 120 is not damaged during removal of the strip 120. In addition, the exterior surface of the film 100 can be printed with product information that mimics or supplements product information contained on the package 50.

The tear-away strip 120 may have width, as defined by the spacing between the tear-tapes 131, 132, of at least about, for example, ½ inch. The tear-away strip 120 may have a larger width dimension, such as at least, for example, ¾ inch, 1 inch, 2 inches, or wider.

FIGS. 5-7 illustrate a method of manufacturing the film 100 and enveloping the package 50 in the film 100. The package 50 includes a base portion 52, and a lid 54 pivotably connected to the base portion 52. The package 50 may be of generally parallelepipedal shape and may be made from, for example, paper or cardboard.

Referring to FIG. 5, a roll or “bobbin” of stock film material 1000 is fed into an over-wrapping machine. The stock film material 1000 is separated into individual films 100 formed from the material 1000. The stock film material 1000 may be cut by, for example, a cutting roller. A large number of packages 50 can be enveloped in individual films 100 formed from the material 1000. The over-wrapping machine may be of a type known in the industry. For example, an over-wrapping machine manufactured by G.D. Package Machinery, Inc., or Focke and Co. can be used to practice the overwrapping methods described in this specification. The stock film material 1000 may be made from materials such as polypropylene, metalized polypropylene, and laminated polypropylene, as are known in the packaging art.

The stock film material 1000 includes first and second strips of tear-tape 1031, 1032 extending along the length of the stock film material 1000. The first and second tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 are used to form the individual first and second tear-tapes 131, 132 in the individual films 100. The first and second strips of tear-tape 1031, 1032 can be applied to the stock film material 1000 by, for example, applying pressure to contact strips of tear-tape material with the stock film material 1000. The first and second strips of tear-tape 1031, 1032 can be applied to the stock film material 1000, for example, prior to the stock film material 1000 being fed into the overwrapping machine. Alternatively, the overwrapping machine can include a mechanism for applying the strips 1031, 1032 to the stock film material 1000.

In one embodiment, the tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 are fed from a roll or bobbin that is mounted near the bobbin of stock film material 1000. The tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 are unrolled at the same speed as the stock film material 1000. The tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 and the stock film material 1000 are downstream fed through a pair of rollers that press the stock film material 1000 together with the tear-tape strips 1031, 1032. The stock film material 1000 and the tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 may be cut by, for example, a cutting roller.

The tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 are spaced apart a distance equal to a desired width of the tear-away strip 120 (FIG. 3). Exemplary spacings for the tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 are at least ½ inch, or larger width dimensions, such as at least, for example, ¾ inch, 1 inch, 2 inches, or wider. The spacing can vary according to, for example, the amount and/or type of information that is to be printed on the tear-away strip 120.

As shown in FIG. 5, the shape of the tear-tabs 110 at one end of the films 100 correspond in shape to recesses 116 at the opposite end of the films 100. The stock film material 1000 may therefore be a continuous sheet.

The bobbin of stock film material 1000 may include any number of sections of the individual films 100. The individual films 100 may be printed on both an interior surface 106 and an exterior surface 108 of the film material 1000. The films 100 may be printed with information such as, for example, product names, product graphics, and other characters or graphics. In one embodiment, coupon information is printed on the interior surface of the films 100 at a location corresponding to the tear-away strip 120. The tear-tapes 131, 132 preserve the coupon information during removal of the tear-away strip 120.

Perforations 112 may be cut into the films 100 included in the roll of stock film material 1000 while the stock film material 1000 is being processed in the overwrapping machine. The film material 1000 may also be perforated prior to rolling the film material 1000 onto the bobbin.

The first and second tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 may be of a type known in the packaging art. The tear-tape strips 1031, 1032 may be applied, for example, by known methods such as pressing the tear-tape strips against the film material used to form the films 100. Adhesive may be used to attach the film material 1000 to the strips 1031, 1032.

Referring to FIG. 6, an individual film 100 is separated from the roll of stock film material 1000 and wrapped around a package 50. The film 100 is sealed along the side of the package 50 at a side seam by application of heat, resulting in the side seal 102 illustrated in FIG. 2. Excess film material at the ends of the seal 100 is then folded and sealed by heat, forming the top seal 104 and the bottom seal 106 (FIG. 2).

Referring to FIG. 7, the tear-tab 110 extends past an edge of the enveloped package 50. The first and second tear-tapes 131, 132 are located at either side of the tear-away strip 120. A heat seal 125 is formed to extend across the tear-tab 110. The heat seal 125 prevents the tear-away strip 120 from being inadvertently removed from the film 100.

Stock film material may also be provided in the form of individual pre-cut sheets of films 100, rather than as a bobbin of stock material. In this method, cut sheets of films 100 are provided in a hopper and delivered to the overwrapping machine for enveloping around packages 50. Each individual film 100 in the hopper may have tear-tapes 131, 132 applied as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative embodiment of a film 200. In FIG. 4, a package 50 is enveloped in the film 200. The film 200 includes a tear-tab 210 useful for removing a tear-away strip 220 from the film 200. A tear-tape 230 (shown as a hidden line in FIG. 4) has a long dimension that extends across the width of the tear-away strip 220, and is aligned vertically along the package 50 height. The tear-tape 230 establishes a width of the tear-away strip 220. In FIG. 4, the tear-tape 230 is located on the interior of the tear-away strip 220.

According to the alternative embodiment, when the tear-tab 210 is pulled, the shape of the tear-away strip 220 may be maintained. The tear-away strip 220 may have a substantial width, and information may be printed on the exterior and on the interior of the tear-away strip 220. The tear-tape 230 may have a length of at least about, for example, ½ inch. The tear-away strip 220 will have a similar width when removed from the film 200. The tear-tape 230 may have a larger length dimension, such as at least, for example, ¾ inch, 1 inch, 2 inches, or wider. The longer tear-tape 230 provides a correspondingly wider tear-away strip 220. The length of the tear-tape 230, and the corresponding width of the tear-away strip 220, may be varied according to the size of the information printed on the tear-away strip 220.

The tear-tape 230 acts to ensure that information printed on the tear-away strip 220 is not damaged or truncated when the tear-away strip 220 is removed from the film 200. A seal area 225 can secure the tear-away strip 220 to the film 100. The seal area 225 can be, for example, a heat seal.

The film 200 may be manufactured in a manner similar to the film 100. However, a strip of stock film material (not illustrated) would instead include tear-tapes 230, arranged transversely to the length of the strip of stock material. One tear-tape 230, for example, can be provided for each film 200 to be produced from the stock material.

Stock material used to form the film 200 can also be provided in cut sheet form and supplied from a hopper, as discussed above.

FIG. 8 illustrates yet another embodiment of a film 300. In FIG. 8, a package 50 is enveloped in the film 300. The film 300 includes a tear-tab 310 useful for removing a tear-away strip 320 from the film 300. The film 300 may have a top seal 304, a bottom seal 306, and a side seal 302. A seal area 325 can be established to secure the tear-tab 310 to the film 300.

In FIG. 8, the tear-away strip 320 corresponds to a wide tear-tape that extends at least partially around the package 50. The tear-tape establishes a width of the tear-away strip 320. The wide tear-tape used to form the tear-away strip can be made from, for example, materials used to form conventional, thin tear-tapes. The width of the tear-away strip 320 can be at least ½ inch. The width of the tear-away strip 320 extends along a height dimension of the package 50. Larger dimensions of at least ¾ inch, 1 inch, 2 inches, or wider may also be used. The width may be selected according to the information to be printed on the tear-away strip 320.

Stock material used to form the film 300 can be supplied on a bobbin or in cut sheet form as discussed above. The stock film material can be attached to the wide tear-tape by, for example, an adhesive.

According to the above embodiments, films for packages can be used to convey printed information to consumers, or other persons. The inclusion of tear-tapes on the films allows a tear-away strip of repeatable shape to be removed from the film. Therefore, printed information on the strip will be available without being truncated or otherwise affected.

The film embodiments discussed above do not impair the normal operation of conventional vending machines in dispensing packages. Further, the film embodiments can include transparent portions to allow visual inspection of, for example, export stamps on the enveloped packages.

The foregoing description of the invention illustrates and describes the present invention. Additionally, the disclosure shows and describes only the preferred embodiments of the invention, but it is to be understood that the invention is capable of use in various other combinations, modifications, and environments and is capable of changes or modifications within the scope of the inventive concept as expressed herein, commensurate with the above teachings, and/or the skill or knowledge of the relevant art.

The embodiments described hereinabove are further intended to explain best modes known of practicing the invention and to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention in such, or other, embodiments and with the various modifications required by the particular applications or uses of the invention. Accordingly, the description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Also, it is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative embodiments.