Title:
Heat insulating covering for beverage containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A beverage container insulator which is substantially tubular and resiliently engages a beverage container has an inner surface, an outer surface, an upper end, and a lower end, the inner surface of the sleeve is configured to permit the sleeve to engage the outer peripheral surface of beverage container with the outer surface being composed of foam and the inner surface being composed of a lamination to permit a user to conveniently slide a beverage container therein.



Inventors:
Chantalat, Vinit (Los Altos Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/981318
Publication Date:
05/04/2006
Filing Date:
11/03/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADEN, SHAWN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW SCHROEDER (Santa Maria, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A beverage container insulator comprising: a substantially tubular sleeve to resiliently engage a beverage container having an inner surface, an outer surface, an upper end and a lower end, the inner surface of the sleeve configured to permit the sleeve to engage outer peripheral surface of beverage container with the outer surface being composed of foam and the inner surface being composed of a lamination to permit a user to conveniently slide beverage container therein.

2. The beverage container insulator in claim 1 further comprising a shrink film layer circumferentially engaging outer periphery of sleeve while permitting indicia printed thereon.

3. The beverage container insulator of claim 1 wherein the foam is polyethylene.

4. The beverage container insulator of claim 1 wherein upper end of sleeve is tapered to substantially conform to an outside surface of a bottle.

5. The beverage container insulator of claim 1 wherein sleeve is a truncated version covering only a substantial portion of a beverage container.

6. The beverage container insulator of claim 1 wherein diameter of aperture of lower end approximates largest circumference of beverage containers, the beverage container to have a diameter approximately 2 millimeters less than diameter of beverage container insulator.

7. The beverage container insulator of claim 1 wherein foam is imprinted with indicia.

8. The beverage container insulator of claim 2 wherein shrink film is imprinted with indicia.

9. The beverage container insulator of claim 2 wherein the shrink film is polyvinyl chloride.

10. The beverage container insulator of claim 2 wherein the diameter of aperture of upper end approximates the largest circumference of circumference of an upper end of beverage container.

11. A method of manufacture of beverage container insulator comprising the steps of: passing a sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer having an upper side and a lower side through a seaming apparatus and passing the sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer and having an upper side and a lower side through a cutting apparatus.

12. The method of claim 11 further comprising a step of passing the sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer having an upper side and a lower side through a print station apparatus.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the print station apparatus is a silk screen printer.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein the cutting apparatus is a die cutter.

15. The method of claim 11 further comprising a step of affixing shrink film to the outer surface of beverage container insulator.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising a step of printing indicia on outer surface of shrink film.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein seaming apparatus is a heat welding apparatus.

18. A method for engaging a heat insulator sleeve onto a beverage container comprising the steps of: sliding beverage container into beverage container insulator; sliding shrink film on beverage container insulator; applying heat to shrink film such that shrink film creates an interference fit between beverage container insulator and the beverage container.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising step of printing indicia upon shrink film.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the beverage container is a bottle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of beverage containers and pertains more particularly to methods and an article of manufacture for insulating beverage containers such as bottles and cans.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Most beverage producers distribute their products through either bottles or cans. Bottles and cans are the principal receptacles for soda, beer, filtered water, wine, and so on. While bottles and cans provide an effective means for distribution, many problems inhere with their usage. Some of the problems are: heat insulation, breakage of receptacles, condensation, discomforture to the hand and slippage.

Perhaps the main problem with both bottles and cans is heat loss from the beverage receptacle. Most people prefer beverages such as beer, soda, or water to be substantially chilled below room temperature. However, the typical materials used to produce bottles and cans such as aluminum, plastic and glass are poor insulators of heat. Thus, after only a few minutes removed from a refrigerator, ambient room temperature quickly transfers heat into the beverage. This subsequent rise in temperature of the beverage results in a less desirable product.

Another problem associated with most bottles and cans is the breakage of the receptacles. Many bottles today are very susceptible to breakage. When broken, shards of glass produce a significant threat of danger. In addition, breakage of a bottle can leave a huge mess which must be cleaned up quickly. Moreover, aluminum cans are also susceptible to breakage, albeit to a lesser degree.

Another inconvenience often associated with both bottles and cans alike is the “sweating” or condensation which forms upon the exterior surface of the receptacle. This condensation leaves unsightly puddles on the table which may cause damage if the table is composed of wood. The condensation also creates a safety hazard should the receptacle slip from one's hand.

Still another common problem often associated with most bottles and cans is discomforture to one's hand. Although most people enjoy their beverages at very low temperatures, it may be very uncomfortable to handle with the naked hand.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,632,273 is a disposable insulated container with a drinking cup invertly placed on top of the container. The container and cup are made of rigid foam. One has to take out the top inverted cup in order to pour out liquid by which is bothersome. And if one holds the top inverted cup to lift the container it might accidentally fall down.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,467,891 is a reusable insulated container. There is a top and bottom edge of the foam sleeve which encumbers its manufacturing. There is a rigid plastic liner which is imposed in the sleeve to accept a container of liquid. This embodiment is flawed because it allows for an air gap which is not good for insulation.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,308,883 is a disposable insulated container. A paper cup is spray coated with foamable synthetic resin and is printed and goes to heating in foaming process. The printed area will foam up to cover the outside surface of the cup to give insulation. The foamed surface will be uneven because some parts are foamed whereas some other parts are not. Hence, the shape of the cup can be distorted by the foaming process.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,182 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,193,098 are both double-walled insulation containers possessing an air gap between the walls. The outside sleeve member can be easily loosened from the inner container member because there is no grip among the two members and the attached portion of the two wall members is so small.

Therefore, what is clearly needed in the art is a heat insulating sleeve which effectively insulates the beverage, prevents condensation from forming around the outside surface of the receptacle, prevents breakage of the receptacles, and provides for a more comfortable surface for handling the receptacle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In an embodiment of the present invention an article of manufacture and method for its manufacture is provided, comprising a beverage container insulator which is substantially tubular having an inner surface, an outer surface, an upper end, and a lower end. The inner surface of the sleeve is configured to permit the sleeve to engage outer peripheral surface of beverage container with the outer surface being composed of foam and the inner surface being composed of a lamination to permit a user to conveniently slide a beverage container therein.

In one embodiment the beverage container insulator also possesses a shrink film layer circumferentially engaging outer periphery of sleeve while permitting indicia to be printed thereon.

In some embodiments, the foam may be made from polyethylene. In other embodiments, the beverage container insulator has an upper end of the sleeve which is tapered to substantially conform to an outside surface of a bottle. Also, in other embodiments, some beverage container insulators may be a truncated version for use with cans, while in others a longer fuller version is primarily used with bottles.

Many embodiments may have indicia imprinted on the beverage container insulator. For instance, in some embodiments, the foam may be imprinted with indicia. Whereas in others, the indicia will be imprinted on the shrink film layer. In many instances, this shrink film layer is comprised from polyvinyl chloride.

One exemplary method of the present invention for the manufacture of the beverage container insulator comprises the steps of: 1). passing a sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer having an upper side and a lower side through a seaming apparatus and 2). passing the sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer and having an upper side and a lower side through a cutting apparatus. One more optional step further comprises a step of passing the sheet of two foam layers sandwiching a lamination layer having an upper side and a lower side through a print station apparatus. Another optional step further comprises the step of affixing shrink film to the outer surface of the beverage container insulator. When shrink film is used, the indicia will be printed thereon, instead of the foam layer.

In some cases, this print station apparatus is a silk screen printer. And in other cases, the cutting apparatus is a die cutter. The seaming apparatus, in many embodiments is a heat welding apparatus.

Another method for assembly of beverage container insulator is herein included. The method comprises the steps of: 1.) Sliding beverage container into beverage container insulator, 2.) Sliding shrink film around beverage container insulator, and 3.) Applying heat to shrink film such that shrink film creates an interference fit between beverage container insulator and the beverage container. And in some embodiments, the method further comprises the step of printing indicia upon the shrink film.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1a illustrates an isometric view of a beverage container housed inside of a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 1b illustrates a side perspective view of a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 1c illustrates an isometric view of an exemplary embodiment of a beverage container insulator with shrink film layer.

FIG. 1d illustrates an isometric view of two alternative exemplary embodiments of a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 2a illustrates a plan view of a cross section of a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 2b illustrates an isometric view of a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 3 illustrates a diagram of an exemplary method for manufacturing a beverage container insulator.

FIG. 4a illustrates an elevation cross sectional view of beverage container insulator.

FIG. 4b illustrates an elevation cross sectional view of beverage container insulator.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram for a method for assembly of a beverage container insulator on a beverage container.

FIG. 6a illustrates an isometric view of an exemplary beverage container insulator which is flattened.

FIG. 6b illustrates an isometric view of an exemplary beverage container insulator which is flattened.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a unique article of manufacture and method for manufacture of the same is used to enable users to hold and insulate beverage containers using a foam sleeve. The article of manufacture and method for its manufacture and assembly is described in enabling detail below by exemplary embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1a is an illustration of an article of manufacture according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. In this example, sleeve 100 is engaged upon a beverage container 101 circumferentially. FIG. 1b illustrates that sleeve 100 is substantially tubular with opens ends on both top and bottom. The bottom end 102 has a circumference closely approximating the greatest outer circumference of the beverage receptacle 101. Top end 103 has a circumference sized to fit circumference on upper region of the beverage container 101. It must be noted that the sleeve 100 is custom tailored to the beverage container 101 it is to be used upon. FIG. 1c further illustrates sleeve 100 with shrink film layer 203. Hereinafter, the sleeve 100 and shrink film layer 203 shall be referred to as the “Finished Sleeve” 110. FIG. 1a also illustrates the possibility of printing indicia 104 upon sleeve 100. And FIG. 1c illustrates the possibility of using sleeve 100 with cans as well as bottles.

FIG. 1d is illustrative of other alternative embodiments of sleeve 100. Sleeve 100 may embody a short, or truncated form 100′ where only a portion of the beverage container 101 is covered. And in the alternative, sleeve 100 may embody a longer sleeve 100″. Longer sleeve 100″ covers substantially more surface area than truncated form 100′.

FIG. 2a illustrates a top of a beverage container 101 with sleeve 100 along with shrink film layer 203. Finished sleeve 110 is comprised of a lamination 201, foam 202 and optionally a shrink film layer 203. Shrink film layer 203 is used for creating a more secure interference fit with beverage container 101 as well as for providing an expedient surface for printing indicia 104. The advantage to printing on shrink film layer 203 is that one may use a variegated array of colors to print indicia 104 thereon. Foam 202, on the other hand does not provide an equally ideal surface for printing such indicia 104.

FIG. 2b illustrates seam 111 which is formed by heating the lamination layer 201. When heated, the polyethylene laminated film melts to form a strong seal which enables foam 202 to shape up as a double seam sided envelope which will form a sleeve when opened. Seam 111 is located on opposite sides of the sleeve 100. Also, another advantage of the lamination layer 201 is that the smooth surface is conducive for sliding sleeve 100 easily and with minimal friction onto a beverage container 101.

In a preferred embodiment, lamination 201 is made from polyethylene. Again, it is not specifically required that polyethylene be used for use as lamination 201. One advantage of using polyethylene is that it creates a low coefficient of friction between the beverage container 101 and the sleeve 100. Other materials abound which may also equally serve the same function and utility as polyethylene. As such, the use of polyethylene to compose lamination 201 is not meant to be construed as a limitation to the present invention.

Foam 202 in one preferred embodiment is made from polyethylene. One advantage of using low density polyethylene foam is that it possesses very good insulation properties. Hence, when used with a beverage container 101, low density polyethylene foam will maintain the temperature of the beverage for a longer period of time. Another advantage of low density polyethylene foam is that it is very strong and durable. Low density polyethylene foam also has high tensile strength which makes it very resistant to tearing.

Shrink film layer 203 is made from polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is particularly useful for printing an assorted variety of colors for marketing purposes and other useful information. However, it is not specifically required that polyvinyl chloride be used for the shrink film 203. For example, in some cases shrink film layer 203 may be comprised of polyolefin material. Other materials abound which may serve the same function and utility as polyvinyl chloride. As such, use of polyvinyl chloride is not meant to be a limitation in present invention.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a preferred method for manufacturing the sleeve 100. FIG. 3 shows an assembly line of stock comprising two long continuous sheets of foam 202 sandwiching a lamination 201. Stock is moved in direction 302 to move stock to station one 303 via means of rollers 304. Station one 303 is an apparatus for printing information onto foam 202. Station one 303 in a preferred embodiment is a silk screen printing plate. However, it is not specifically required that a silk screen printing plate be used for printing information and images onto foam 202. Other equally expedient printing machines may be used for this function. In addition, station one 303 is optional when no printing on foam 202 is necessary. For instance, where polyvinyl shrink film 203 is used, most of all of the information or images which need to be printed upon sleeve 100 will be done on the shrink film 203 and not the foam 202 itself.

After stock has passed station one 303 (if it is used), stock is passed on to station two 305. Station two 305 is a heat seamer which welds a seam to the stock to melt the lamination layer 201. Consequently, a one-piece member is produced which will not require additional assembly by the user. There is no particular preferred apparatus for applying heat to create a seam for this purpose. There abound many equally useful machines which may be useful in this regard. In addition, a silicone rubber surfaced bed 308 is optionally used in conjunction with station two 305.

However, it is not specifically required that the seaming process be accomplished only through means of heat-welding. In alternative preferred methods, the seaming process may be accomplished by means of glue or sewing. Both processes of gluing and sewing for purposes of seaming are well known in to one skilled in the art and will not herein be described.

After stock has passed station two 305 it is passed to station three 306. Station three 306 is an apparatus for cutting the stock to create the sleeve 100. In a preferred embodiment, a die cutter is used. However, it is not specifically required that a die cutter be used for this purpose. There may be other equally useful machines which may accomplish the same function.

When cutting the foam 202, the diameter of the sleeve 100 is adapted to and is determined by the specific volume size and the orientation of the beverage container 101 such that it is sized to fit the beverage container 101 to which it is to be applied. The stock is cut in such a way to leave approximately 2 millimeters less circumference around the beverage container 101 to be engaged. This smaller space allows for sleeve 100 to be engaged-upon beverage container 101 in order to avoid the presence of an air gap between the sleeve 100 and the beverage container 101. Hence, this will result in increased insulation of the beverage.

In order to create an interference fit between the sleeve 100 and the beverage container 101, shrink film 203 is wrapped around sleeve 100 and is heated. When heat is applied to shrink film 203, the shrink film 203 creates a tighter fit around the sleeve 100 by narrowing the circumference of the sleeve 100 to create a moderate interference fit. This step is further detailed.

FIG. 4a is an elevation cross sectional view which shows how the shrink film layer 203 is to be used in conjunction with the beverage container insulator. In FIG. 4a, shrink film 203 is placed around the sleeve 100. FIG. 4b illustrates shrink film 203 after it has been sufficiently heated and fully engaged and fitted with sleeve 100. This process is detailed further below.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a method for assembling the sleeve 100 upon the beverage container 101. In step one 500, the beverage container 101 is manufactured by standard procedures and is thereafter filled with the attendant beverage.

In step two 501, the sleeve 100 is slided onto the beverage container 101 until the lower aperture of the sleeve 100 rests into position.

In step three 502, polyvinyl chloride shrink film 203 is placed around the sleeve 100. Although this step is optional, it is useful for marketing purposes because it creates an ideal surface for printing a variegated array of colors. In addition, the shrink film 203 also creates an interference fit between sleeve 100 and beverage containers 101 when the shrink film 203 is heated. After placing shrink film 203 upon sleeve 100, hot air is applied to the shrink film 203. The resulting shrinkage of the shrink film 203 narrows the circumference of the sleeve 100 creating an interference fit with the beverage container 101.

FIG. 6a is an isometric view illustrating the collapsibility of the sleeve 100. This characteristic of the sleeve 100 enables it to be laid flat for easy storage with minimal space requirements. In addition, FIG. 6b illustrates that numerous sleeves 100 may be stored within a single package for better bulk management.

Other features not mentioned in the specification, but known to one skilled in the art may be integrated as well without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. There are, for example a wide variety of materials which may be used, there are many changes which may be made in dimensions and so forth to accommodate various needs and there may be decorative effects (colors, shapes) that may well be used, all within the spirit and scope of the present invention. The apparatus and methods of the present invention should therefore be afforded the broadest scope under examination. It will also be apparent to the skilled artisan that there are numerous variations that may be made in embodiments described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. As such, the invention taught herein by specific examples is limited only by the claims which follow.