Title:
Reusable protective envelope
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An envelope is disclosed which includes a front panel and a rear panel. Each of the front and rear panels are made from an outer layer and an inner cushioning layer formed from a plastic air-cellular material. The front panel is connected to the rear panel along a bottom edge and a pair of side edges. A folding flap is connected to a top edge of the rear panel. The flap includes a number of separable portions. Each of the separable portions has an adhesive layer on an adjacent surface thereof. The flap is movable between a closed position where a selected separable portion is adhered to the front panel, and an open position where the flap is separated from the selected separable portion. The flap may be repeatedly closed and opened by sequentially adhering and separating the separable portions in a proximal direction.



Inventors:
Bartlett, Chris C. (Mississauga, CA)
Livey, Gordon C. (Toronto, CA)
Application Number:
10/773175
Publication Date:
08/11/2005
Filing Date:
02/09/2004
Assignee:
Cantar/Polyair Inc. (Toronto, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/80, 229/307
International Classes:
B65D27/00; B65D27/06; B65D27/14; (IPC1-7): B65D27/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060043159Return mailerMarch, 2006Roberts
20060065703Carton with dispenser having access featuresMarch, 2006Debusk et al.
20050230463Box partitionOctober, 2005Cain
20030201312Expandable packing deviceOctober, 2003Lee
20100089003SEAL INTEGRITY FOR MAILPIECE ENVELOPESApril, 2010Reichelsheimer et al.
20080308616Packs for Holding Food ItemsDecember, 2008Phung
20090114708Food Box with flatware attached thereonMay, 2009Sung et al.
20050156019Closable containerJuly, 2005Collingham
20080029588Process and an arrangement for producing a cupFebruary, 2008Messerschmid et al.
20090008435DISC CASEJanuary, 2009Vukotic
20090008436Bottle sleevesJanuary, 2009Edmondson



Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERESKIN & PARR LLP/S.E.N.C.R.L., s.r.l. (TORONTO, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. An envelope comprising: a) a front panel and a rear panel, each of the front and rear panels comprising an outer layer and an inner cushioning layer, the inner cushioning layer comprising a plastic air-cellular material; b) a bottom edge; c) a pair of opposing side edges, wherein the front panel is connected to the rear panel along the bottom edge and the side edges; and d) a flap foldably connected to a top edge of the rear panel, the flap comprising a plurality of separable portions, each of the separable portions comprising an adhesive layer on an adjacent surface thereof, wherein the flap is movable between a closed position where a selected separable portion is adhered to the front panel, and an open position where the flap is separated from the selected separable portion, wherein the flap is adapted to be repeatedly closed and opened by sequentially adhering and separating the separable portions in a proximal direction.

2. The envelope of claim 1, wherein the inner cushioning layer comprises: a) a first layer of plastic film defining a plurality of spaced-apart concave cavities and a plurality of land areas between the concave cavities; and b) a second layer of plastic film bonded to the first layer along the land areas; wherein the first layer is bonded to the outer layer along a distal portion of the concave cavities.

3. The envelope of claim 2, wherein the front and rear panels are integrally constructed and the bottom edge comprises a fold.

4. The envelope of claim 3, wherein each of the side edges comprises a heat seal strip.

5. The envelope of claim 4, wherein the flap further comprises at least one tear strip, the tear strip being located between adjacent ones of the plurality of separable portions.

6. The envelope of claim 5, wherein the flap further comprises a keeper strip substantially covering the adhesive layer of each separable portion, thereby preventing the separable portions from adhering to the front panel until selected.

7. The envelope of claim 6, wherein the flap is integrally constructed with the outer layer of the rear panel, wherein the top edge comprises a fold.

8. The envelope of claim 7, wherein the flap comprises two separable portions, wherein the tear strip is located between the two separable portions.

9. The envelope of claim 2, wherein the first and second layer are formed from low density polyethylene.

10. The envelope of claim 9, wherein the outer layer is corona treated.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to envelopes, and in particular to protective reusable envelopes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Reusable envelopes are well known in the art. One such envelope is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,950,916 to Santangelo. Santangelo discloses a flap hinged to the envelope. The flap includes a number of panels separated by tear strips. Each of the panels has a layer of adhesive on its underside. The first time the envelope is used the lowermost panel is adhered to the envelope for closure thereof. The envelope is opened by tearing along the adjacent tear strip. The recipient can reuse the envelope by adhering the adjacent panel.

The envelope disclosed in Santangelo has a disadvantage. It is made of a single sheet of paper. Consequently, the envelope is not capable of providing protection to delicate or fragile objects which may be placed in the envelope.

Accordingly, there is a need for a reusable envelope which provides protection for delicate or fragile contents during transport.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An envelope is provided. The envelope comprises a front panel and a rear panel. Each of the front and rear panels comprises an outer layer and an inner cushioning layer formed from a plastic air-cellular material. The front panel is connected to the rear panel along a bottom edge and a pair of opposing side edges. A flap is foldably connected to a top edge of the rear panel. The flap comprises a plurality of separable portions. Each of the separable portions includes an adhesive layer on an adjacent surface thereof. The flap is movable between a closed position where a selected separable portion is adhered to the front panel, and an open position where the flap is separated from the selected separable portion. The flap is adapted to be repeatedly closed and opened by sequentially adhering and separating the separable portions in a proximal direction.

Preferably, the inner cushioning layer comprises: a) a first layer of plastic film defining a plurality of spaced-apart concave cavities and a plurality of land areas between the concave cavities; and b) a second layer of plastic film bonded to the first layer along the land areas. The first layer is bonded to the outer layer along a distal portion of the concave cavities.

The present invention provides the advantage of a reusable envelope which is capable of improved protection of fragile or delicate contents.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an envelope according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear plan view of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a partial cross sectional view of an envelope panel according to the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a front plan view of the preferred embodiment in the closed position; and

FIG. 6 is a front plan view of the preferred embodiment in the open position after one use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows an envelope 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, the envelope 10 includes a front panel 12 and a rear panel 14. The panels are joined at opposing side edges 16, 18 and at a bottom edge 20. Preferably, the front and rear panels 12, 14 are integrally constructed from a single sheet of a composite material (described in detail below), which is folded at bottom edge 20. The front and rear panels 12, 14 are bonded together at side edges 16, 18 by any suitable means, such as being heat sealed along heat seal strips 22. The front and rear panels 12, 14 define a storage space (not shown) between them which is accessed through a top portion 24 of the envelope 10.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the composite material (from which the front and rear panels 12, 14 are formed) includes an outer layer 30 and an inner cushioning layer 32. The outer layer 32 is preferably constructed from polyethylene, and may be corona treated if required for display of writing or illustrations (such as branding).

The inner cushioning layer 32 is formed from an air-cellular material, which is itself formed from a first layer 34 and a second layer 36. The first layer 34 is a plastic film in which a plurality of spaced apart concave cavities 38 are formed. The second layer 36 of plastic film is a substantially planar layer which is superimposed onto the first layer 34 and heat laminated onto land areas 37 of first layer 34 which surround the concave cavities 38. First and second layers 34, 36 may be formed of any suitable thermoplastic film, such as low density polyethylene. Such films are well-known and commercially available.

The inner cushioning layer 32 is bonded to the outer layer 30 by heat laminating the distal portions 39 of the concave cavities 38 to the outer layer 30.

Referring again to FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, a flap 40 is connected to a top edge 41 of rear panel 14. Preferably, the flap 40 is formed out of the same material as the outer layer 30 and is constructed integrally with the outer layer 30 of rear panel 14. Preferably, the top edge 41 is a fold to permit the flap 40 to open and close.

Continuing to refer to FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, the flap 40 includes a plurality of separable portions 42. For convenience, the embodiment illustrated and described herein includes two separable portions: a distal separable portion 42a and a proximal separable portion 42b. As used herein “distal” means the portion of the flap 40 furthest away from the fold 41, and “proximal” means the portion of the flap 40 closest to the fold 41. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the flap may include three or more separable portions 42.

Each separable portion 42a, 42b includes an adhesive layer 44 coated on an adjacent surface (i.e. adjacent to panel 12 when folded about fold 41) thereof. The adhesive layer 44 may cover all of the interior surface of the separable portions 42 or only a part thereof. The adhesive layer 44 may be composed of any suitable adhesive coating the interior surface of the separable portion 42, or may be an additional layer of material covered with adhesive (such as two-sided tape). A keeper strip 46 may be provided to cover the adhesive layer 44 prior to use. The purpose of the keeper strip 46 is to prevent accidentally adhering the flap 40.

Continuing to refer to FIGS. 1 and 2, the separable portions 42a, 42b may be separated by any suitable means, such as a tear strip 48.

The operation of the preferred embodiment will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 4-6. After placing the contents into the envelope 10, the user removes the keeper strip 46 from the adhesive layer 44 of a selected separable portion 42, which in this embodiment, is the distal separable portion 42a. The user closes the envelope 10 by folding the flap 40 about fold 41 onto the front panel 12. The adhesive layer 44 of the distal separable portion 42a adheres the flap 40 to the front panel 12 in order to maintain the envelope 10 in the closed position until it is ready to be opened by the recipient.

In order to open the envelope 10, the recipient tears the flap 40 along tear strip 48, thereby separating the distal separable portion 42a from the flap 40. As best shown in FIG. 6, the recipient can then open the flap 40 to access the contents of the envelope 10, while the distal separable portion 42a remains adhered to the front panel 12.

When the recipient wishes to reuse the envelope 10, the recipient removes keeper strip 46 from the proximal separable portion 42b to expose its adhesive layer 44. The recipient can then adhere the flap 40 to the front panel 12 in the same manner as described above.

Although in the preferred embodiment described herein only includes two separable portions 42 and can, therefore, only be used twice, additional separable portions may be provided. In such embodiments, the number of times the envelope may be re-used is equal to the number of separable portions in the flap, provided that the separable portions are used sequentially starting with the distal separable portion.

The present invention provides the advantage of a protective plastic envelope which cushions its contents, and at the same time may be conveniently reused several times, so that it does not have to be thrown out after only a single use.

While the present invention as herein shown and described in detail is fully capable of attaining the above-described objects of the invention, it is to be understood that it is the presently preferred embodiment of the present invention and thus, is representative of the subject matter which is broadly contemplated by the present invention, that the scope of the present invention fully encompasses other embodiments which may become obvious to those skilled in the art, and that the scope of the present invention is accordingly to be limited by nothing other than the appended claims, in which reference to an element in the singular is not intended to mean “one and only one” unless explicitly so stated, but rather “one or more.” All structural and functional equivalents to the elements of the above-described preferred embodiment that are known or later come to be known to those of ordinary skill in the art are expressly incorporated herein by reference and are intended to be encompassed by the present claims. Moreover, it is not necessary for a device or method to address each and every problem sought to be solved by the present invention, for it is to be encompassed by the present claims.