Title:
Jar storage container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage device for containers comprises a base support; a top support having openings for insertion of containers, such as baby food jars; and vertical supports for stabilizing relative movement between the base support and the top support. There are at least two channels extending from the openings, the channels being capable of containing the containers. Each of the at least two channels have horizontal openings to allow view of containers within the channels. There are flexible flanges connected to at least some of the vertical supports, pairs of flexible flanges extending partly across the horizontal openings. These flanges restrain horizontal movement of the containers within the channels, yet allow horizontal insertion and removal of containers into the channels.



Inventors:
Weigel, Mary (Plymouth, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/924167
Publication Date:
02/23/2006
Filing Date:
08/23/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B73/00
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Primary Examiner:
MAGUIRE, LINDSAY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark A. Litman & Associates, P.A. (Edina, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A storage device for containers comprising: a base support; a top support having openings for insertion of containers; vertical supports for stabilizing relative movement between the base support and the top support; at least two channels extending from the openings, the channels being capable of containing the containers; each of the at least two channels having horizontal openings to allow view of containers within the channels; and flexible flanges connected to at least some of the vertical supports, pairs of flexible flanges extending partly across the horizontal openings to restrain horizontal movement of the containers within the channels, yet allow horizontal insertion and removal of containers into the channels.

2. The storage device of claim 1 wherein individual channels are both open to adjacent channels, yet at least the vertical supports prevent containers from being moved from one channel to an adjacent channel.

3. The storage device of claim 2 wherein each channel allows for at least three containers to be vertically stacked within each channel.

4. The storage device of claim 3 wherein for containers that sit within channels that contact both the flanges and at least one vertical support, jars must be tilted to enable vertical removal.

5. The storage device of claim 3 wherein each channel has a diameter of between 5 and 12 cm.

6. The storage device of claim 3 wherein the flanges are angled outwardly and away from the storage device.

7. The storage device of claim 6 having at least four channels.

8. The storage device of claim 6 having at least six channels.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of storage of containers, particularly the storage of jars, and most particularly the storage of baby food jars in a convenient manner.

2. Background of the Art

Jars of materials are commonly stored on shelves to enable ready access to individual jars. Where many selections among jar containers are desired, racks of the various jars and their contents are provided. The racks can be as simple as shelves, staggered height shelves or partially or fully enclosed shelves to restrain movement of the jars.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,018,001 shows an adjustable display and storage rack having a backing (which may be wall-mountable) and vertically elongated, generally rectangular channels for storage of packages or cans which are supported on the bottom of the stack by rollers. The cans are usually stacked in a side-by-side position rather than an end-to-end position to assist in removal. Flanges extend on the front of the channels to define the channels and restrain the movement of packages or cans within the channels.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,305,512 shows a jar organizer and storage rack having rigid tubes supported by a wall mountable back support. The tubes have openings therein that admit access to individual jars so that jars within the tubes can be lifted out of the top of the tubes. A bottom portion prevents the jars from falling out of the bottom of the tube. The jars are stacked in a vertical orientation, with lids facing upwards within the tubes.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,615,780 shows a full-access, non-gravity dependent, jar storage rack, which may be used specifically for storage and dispensing of baby food jars. A planar mounting member supports a unified elastic body having multiple bores that receive jars within the bores. The elasticity and size of the bores are designed so that the bores grip the jars and prevent them from being able to move vertically by their own weight by the force of gravity. A base prevents removal of jars from the bottom of the bores. It is stated that the bore's diameters are chosen so as to allow the bore's interior diameter to be expanded by a jar's entry into the bore, and to yield a biasing force against the jar which is sufficient in magnitude to prevent the jar from slipping in the bore under the force of gravity. Foam rubber was used as the elastic body material.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A container storage device is provided that can enable both vertical and horizontal removal of containers from stacking channels. Containers of varying dimensions may be used in single channels or separate channels. Containers may be enabled for rotation within channels to provide a full view of labels. A rigid or semi-rigid frame supports elastic flanges that restrain the containers, yet the flanges are sufficiently elastic or flexible or rotatable as to allow removal of individual containers horizontally from the channels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a side view of one embodiment of a multi-channel container according to the present description.

FIG. 2 shows a top view of one embodiment of a multi-channel container according to the present description.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

There are a number of difficulties or annoyances associated with the retrieval of containers from storage devices. When containers, such as jars or cans, are stored separately without constraint, it is often possible for attempts at removing a single container to cause other containers to shift or fall. When devices that store containers have been provided, it has been difficult to allow for both secure storage, easy removal of any individual container, and ease of restocking the devices. Also, as containers of varying manufacturers may vary in dimensions, a storage and delivery device that can accommodate different size containers while still facilitating loading and individual container removal is more complex than would first appear. Devices that may secure individual containers may do so at the expense of being able to store containers of varying dimensions.

The device described herein can assist in overcoming some of the needs of container storage, particularly baby food jar storage, and yet not suffer from all of the deficiencies that may have been encountered in the use of other designs.

Reference to the figures can assist in an understanding of the present device and the scope of technology disclosed herein. FIG. 1 shows a side view of a container storage device 2 to be further described herein. The storage device 2 shown has a tope structural element 4 and a bottom structural element 6 that may be made of any structurally sufficient material such as wood, polymer, composite, metal, or the like. The surfaces tend to be desirably flat, but they may be shaped, curved, or the like for aesthetic design purposes. The top structural element 4 and the bottom structural element 6 are secured together by sufficient numbers and types of vertical support elements 8, 9, 10 and 18, for example, that will prevent the storage device 2 from collapsing or swaying. These vertical support elements may again be composed of any materials (such as by way of non-limiting examples wood, polymer, composite, metal, and the like) that meets the structural support requirements of the storage device 2. Container receiving channels 22 are shown in which containers, such as the jars 12 shown in the figure, may be placed and stacked. The jars 12 are shown to be restrained against forward horizontal movement by flanges 14 on the outer sides of the storage device 2 and flanges 16, which are shown as back-to-back flanges 16 that are present between channels 22 and are supported by a middle vertical structural element 18. The flanges (whether 16 or 18) are flexible, yet have sufficient structural integrity to at least restrain (without completely preventing) the forward movement of the jars 12 from the channels 22. The flanges may be, for example, elastic material and/or resilient materials such as natural rubber, synthetic rubber, elastomers, polymers and the like. For example, natural subbers, synthetic rubbers such as acrylonitrile/butadiene/styrene elastomers, polyurethanes, polysilxoane resins, polyvinyl resins and copolymers, and the like are highly suitable. The materials may be solid or foamed.

Jars 12 may be inserted into the channels 22 in any convenient fashion, which includes at least vertical insertion through openings 24 or horizontal insertion into the channels 22 by pressing the jars 12 through flanges (e.g., flanges 14 and 16 which surround the vertical support 8 in FIG. 1). The flanges would allow insertion of the jar 12 and then reform about the jar 12 to restrain it within the channel 22. The structural control of the dimensions of the channels 22 and the size and positioning of the flanges may be varied according to the size range of containers that are to be stored. These combined structural controls can enable containers of different sizes to be placed in the various channels, with either the same size containers within single channels or different size containers within a single channel. As the flanges are not required to restrict vertical movement of each container within a channel, individual containers may be either restrained against vertical movement (by fitting to the limits of the structural controls and dimensions) or may be able to move freely in a vertical dimension while being restrained horizontally. With proper selection of these structural controls and the use of properly sized containers, such vertical support may be effected, but it is not essential. A more loose fit within the channels would also allow rotation of the jars 12 within the channels 22 so that labels (not shown) on the jars 12 can be individually displayed by a user. Thus, the width W of the openings 24 may preferably be greater than the width of jars 12 by an amount that will allow rotation and vertical movement of the smallest of containers placed within the chamber. Typical small containers of baby food have width dimensions at their widest point of about 5.5-6.0 cm, with conventional dimensions for individual serving baby jars varying within a range of approximately 5.0 or 5.5 cm to 10 cm. A typical range within a channel would therefore require a channel or greater than about 5 cm and less than about 12 cm (in diameter where the channel is an arc or truncated circle). The flanges should extend at least about 0.5 cm to about 5 or 6 cm individually across the front of the channel, away from the vertical structural supports. Surfaces of the flanges facing the jars may be flat or arcuate, for example. A handle 20 is shown for the convenience of carrying the device. The front view of the device shown in FIG. 1 does not show the option of having channels aligned in two dimensions (e.g., width and depth). This optional feature is shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 2 shows a top view of one embodiment of a storage device 2 according to the descriptions provided herein. All numbering in this FIG. 2 is the same as the numbering in FIG. 1, with additional numbers for new elements provided. As can be better seen in this embodiment, rather than just having side-by-side jars 12, a structure can be made having side-by-side and back-to-back jars 12 also. Containers may be constructed with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or more channels to accommodate containers. Stacking within the channels 22 may be for one, two, three, four, five, six or more containers. As can be seen in FIG. 2, a flange 16 establishes a restraining point of contact 26 with the surface 28 of a jar 12, which allows for space for rotation and comfortable movement between the surface 28 of the jar 12 and the edge 30 of the jar 12 beneath the top surface 4 and the point of contact 26. Play in the flexibility of the flange prevents rigid contact between a vertical support element 10 and the surface 30, yet provides restraining support for the jar 12 so that it does not fall from the channel horizontally, if tilted. The inner surface 34 of the opening 24 is shown to extend slightly over the jar 12, but the edge 34 may also be flush or slightly separated from the jar 12.

The skilled artisan would appreciate that variations and alternatives within the concept of the specific descriptions may be practiced without varying from the general teachings provided.





 
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