Title:
Management article with retractable hangars
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hanging file folder or other management article, e.g., file folder, report cover, notebook, binder, or media cover, comprising retractable hangers.



Inventors:
O'leary, Timothy J. (White Bear Lake, MN, US)
Anderson, Gregory J. (Stillwater, MN, US)
Khandpur, Ashish K. (Lake Elmo, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/099843
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
04/06/2005
Assignee:
3M Innovative Properties Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY (ST. PAUL, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A management article comprising: a first side panel having outer and inner edges; a second side panel having outer and inner edges; a binding edge interposed between said inner edges of said first and second side panels for coupling said first and second side panels; a track member arranged in parallel to the outer edge of at least one of said side panels and comprising two or more ribs arranged substantially parallel to said outer edge; and two hangers selectively retractably mounted within said track member; wherein at least one of said first and second side panels includes first and second hangers each having a main body, an outer end and an inner end opposite the outer end, said inner end repositionably engaged with said track member; wherein said file folder is usable as a hanging file folder when said first and second hangers are extended out from said outer edges of said at least one of said first and second panels, and said hangers can be repositioned on said track member so as to substantially not extend beyond said side panel; and wherein at least one of said track member and said hanger comprises two or more ribs extending longitudinally to the direction of retraction of the hangers.

2. The article of claim 1 wherein said track member comprises a multiplicity of parallel, narrowly spaced, elastically deformable ribs projecting from a base sheet; the ribs comprising a stem portion attached to and substantially upright from the base sheet and at least one flange attached to each side of the stem portion and spaced from the base sheet; the cross-sectional profile formed by the ribs being substantially uniform over the length of the ribs.

3. The article of claim 2 wherein at least some of said ribs are interrupted over their length.

4. The article of claim 3 wherein substantially all of said ribs are interrupted in the direction transverse to the longitudinal axis said ribs to limit the relative sliding motion between said track member and a tab member engaged with said track member.

5. The article of claim 1 wherein at least one of said first and second hangers has at least one of an elongated portion and a cut away portion at the inner end thereof to form a reduced width portion, the reduced width portion being overlapable with the inner end of the other of said first and second hanger;

6. The article of claim 1 comprising at least two track members, one arranged in parallel to the outer edge of said first side panel and one arranged in parallel to the outer edge of said second side panel.

7. The article of claim 1 wherein said hangers each comprise two or more ribs that are arranged substantially parallel to the ribs of said track member, said hanger ribs being mechanically engaged with said ribs of said track member, said hangers being repositionable along said track member.

8. The article of claim 1 wherein said hangers are releasably engaged with said track member.

9. The article of claim 1 wherein said track member extends along the major portion of said top edge.

10. The article of claim 1 wherein said article is selected from the group consisting of file folder, binder, notebook, report cover, and media folder.

11. A management article comprising: a first side panel having outer and inner edges; a second side panel having outer and inner edges; a binding edge interposed between said inner edges of said first and second side panels for coupling said first and second side panels; a track member arranged in parallel to at least one of the outer edge or inner edge of at least one of said side panels and comprising two or more ribs arranged substantially parallel to said outer edge; and two hangers selectively retractably mounted within said track member; wherein at least one of said first and second side panels includes first and second hangers each having a main body, an outer end and an inner end opposite the outer end, said inner end repositionably engaged with said track member; wherein said file folder or binder is usable as a hanging file folder or binder when said first and second hangers are extended out from said at least one said panel, and said hangers can be repositioned on said track member so as to substantially not extend beyond said side panel; and wherein at least one of said track member and said hanger comprises two or more ribs extending longitudinally to the direction of retraction of the hangers.

12. The article of claim 11 wherein said article is selected from the group consisting of file folder, binder, notebook, report cover, and media folder.

13. A kit for providing a retractable hangers to a management article, said kit comprising at least one track member comprising a multiplicity of parallel, narrowly spaced, elastically deformable ribs projecting from a base sheet; the ribs comprising a stem portion attached to and substantially upright from the base sheet and at least one flange attached to each side of the stem portion and spaced from the base sheet; the cross-sectional profile formed by the ribs being substantially uniform over the length of the ribs and at least one hanger that can repositionably engage with said ribs of said track member.

Description:

FIELD

This invention relates to hanging document management articles such as hanging file folders or hanging binders.

BACKGROUND

Office organization often depends on having one or more file cabinets with hanging file folders or hanging binders to retain hard copy files, floppy disks, and other media, etc., in an orderly fashion. Hanging file folders and binders are supported by hooks or hangers that extend from the edges of the file and engage with rails within the file cabinet that support and hold the files in a vertical position in the cabinet.

Typically, the hooks or hangers are fixed in a permanent position, which makes the file folder or binder cumbersome to carry when removed from the cabinet. Protruding hooks or hangers can easily catch on clothing or scrape or cut persons handling the article.

It is known in the art to make hanging file folders and binders with retractable hooks as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,979,626 (Pitts) and 5,993,099 (Greenberg et al.). However, these hooks are relatively bulky and not very convenient for work in progress projects where the folders or binders are frequently removed from storage for access and use, carried from one location to another, etc. and then returned to storage.

There is a need in the art for retractable hooks or hangers that avoid the drawbacks of the conventional devices heretofore described.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides retractable hooks or hangers for hanging file folders and binders that addresses problems of previously known hanger systems. The present invention provides hanging file folders or hanging binders or other articles with hooks or hangers that can be readily retracted or even removed as desired.

In one aspect, the invention provides a way to easily convert file folders to hanging file folders or binders to hanging binders without using bulky built in hooks that are more difficult to manage.

In brief summary, the present invention provides a hangable file folder or binder comprising a first side panel having outer and inner edges; a second side panel having outer and inner edges; a binding edge interposed between the inner edges of the first and second side panels for coupling the first and second side panels. The file folder or binder further comprises a track member that is arranged in parallel to the outer edge of at least one of the first or second side panels and comprises two or more ribs arranged substantially parallel to the outer edge of the side panel. The file folder or binder also typically further comprises two hangers selectively retractably mounted within the track member. The hangers are typically arranged to protrude from opposing ends of the track member. The hangers each have a main body, an outer end and an inner end opposite the outer end, the inner end being repositionably engaged with the track member. The file folder or binder is usable as a hanging file folder or binder, respectively, when each of the first and second hangers are extended out from the outer edges of the least one first or second side panels. The hangers can be repositioned on the track member so as to substantially not extend beyond the side panel. At least one of the track member and the hangers comprises two or more ribs extending longitudinally to the direction of retraction of the hangers.

The present invention also provides a kit for making file folders and binders of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWING

The invention will be further described with reference to the following idealized drawings which are not to scale.

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the inside of an illustrative file folder of the invention fully opened;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the folder in FIG. 1, shown closed;

FIG. 3 is a perspective broken view of an illustrative track member of a file folder of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the track member of FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5a-5d schematically show portions of a different illustrative track member of a file folder of the invention as it is interengaged with an illustrative hanger of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a side view of an illustrative embodiment of a rib useful in some track members and hangers of the invention; and

FIG. 7 is a side view of an illustrative binder notebook of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

For convenience the invention will be explained in detail with reference to a file folder. It will be understood, however, that the invention may be similarly used with other hanging type document or article management articles such as binders, report covers, notebooks, media folders, etc.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, a file folder 10 of the invention, comprises a first side panel 12 having outer 14 and inner edges 16; a second side panel 18 having outer 20 and inner edges 22; a binding edge 24 interposed between the inner edges of the first and second side panels for coupling the first and second side panels; and a track member 26 arranged in parallel to the outer edge 14 of the side panel 12 and comprising two or more ribs 30 arranged substantially parallel to the outer edge 14. The first side panel 12 has side edges 11a and 11b. An optional tab member 32 can be repositionably engaged with the track member 26, the tab member having a portion that engages with the track member and a portion upon which desired indicia may be displayed. In simple file folder embodiments as shown in this Figure where the file folder 10 merely passively holds the contents (not shown) and the folder is placed in a file cabinet (not shown) in a conventional binding edge 24 down orientation, the track member 26 is typically located nearer to the outer edge 14 than to binding edge 24. In some embodiments, the track member 26 is typically preferably immediately adjacent (as shown) to outer edge 14, in other embodiments it may be located more distantly from outer edge 14 if desired.

In other embodiments where the file folder comprises means to secure the contents to the file folder, e.g., with a compression clip, etc., the rings in a binder, etc., it may be desired to secure the article in a reversed orientation with the binding edge oriented to face upward. For example, this orientation enables the user to rely on indicia on the outside surface of the binding edge to be viewed in order to identify the article. In such embodiments, the track member is located nearer to the binding edge than it is to the opposite end of the side panel. An illustrative example of such an embodiment is shown in FIG. 7.

By “repositionably engaged” it is meant that the tab member will remain in stable, and presumably desired, position on the track member until a significant repositioning force is applied to move the tab member to another location on the track member or even to disengage it from the track member and remove it therefrom entirely.

The track member 26 preferably extends substantially all the way to the sides 11a and 11b of side panel 12, but may be shorter if desired (or even longer though this may tend to reduce some of the advantages of the invention). Track member 26 is shown on the inside surface of side panel 12 but may alternatively be on the outside surface if desired.

File folder 10 further comprises two hangers 72 and 74 repositionably engaged with the track member 26. Hanger 72 is shown in extended position such that the file folder, when hanger 74 is also in extended position, can be used in a hanging configuration. Hanger 74 is shown in a retracted position. When both hangers are in this

In many embodiments (but not shown here), a track member and pair of hangers will also be provided on second side panel 18.

Hanger 72 comprises a main body which is made up of inner end or portion 78 opposite an outer end or portion 80. In this preferred embodiment, hanger 72 comprises a reduced width portion 82 which is useful for engaging more precisely with file cabinet or file drawer hanging racks. It will be understood that the relative size and shape of the reduced width portion can be changed as desired, or eliminated altogether.

Each hanger comprises two or more ribs arranged substantially parallel to the orientation of the track member and adapted to engage with the ribs of the track member on the side or face of the hanger facing the track member. The hanger may comprise such ribs on substantially all of that face of the hanger or may comprise such ribs only on the inner portion 78. In many instances the hanger will comprise such ribs on substantially all of the face as it is sometimes easier to produce such hangers and the hanger is less likely to come loose from the track member accidentally. By controlling the formation of the ribs, e.g., forming large deformed ends to the ribs at inner portion 78 end of the hanger 72, embodiments can be readily produced in which the hanger will readily slide along track member only so far as to withdraw the hanger to within the confines of side edge of the side panel.

File folders of the invention can be any known suitable material, e.g., plastic, paper, pasteboard, cardboard, or metal. They can be made in any desired size, e.g., a standard size such as letter size, legal size, A4, etc. or a specialty size, dependent in large part upon the file cabinets and other file storage devices which are being used.

The binding edge 24 may consist of a single fold, or in the case of larger capacity files, multiple folds, as is known in the art of file folders. FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a file folder with a two fold binding edge. In some embodiments, binder edge 24 may be a reinforced region or made of a different material than are side panel 12 and side panel 18. If desired, side panel 12 and side panel 18 may each be made of different materials.

In one illustrative embodiment, the track member comprises a multiplicity of parallel, narrowly spaced, elastically deformable ribs projecting from a base sheet. The ribs comprising a stem portion attached to and substantially upright from the base sheet and at least one flange attached to each side of the stem portion and spaced from the base sheet. The cross-sectional profile formed by the ribs is substantially uniform over the length of the ribs. Similar structures are disclosed as self-mating, reclosable fasteners in U.S. Pat. No. 6,367,128 (Galkiewicz et al.) which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, an illustrative track member of the invention 26 comprises a multiplicity of ribs 30 attached to and projecting upwardly from the base sheet 32. The ribs 30 are substantially parallel to one another and are substantially equally spaced apart a transverse distance 34. Each rib comprises a stem portion 36 and a flange 38.

In some embodiments, the track member will comprise a layer of adhesive 40 to secure the track member to the file folder as desired. A suitable adhesive may be readily selected dependent upon the nature of the track member, nature of the file folder, desired method of attaching the track member to the file folder, and whether permanent or temporary mounting is desired. Illustrative examples of suitable adhesives include pressure-sensitive adhesives, hot melt adhesives, repositionable adhesives, etc. The track member may be attached to the side panel by other means (not shown) if desired, e.g., mechanical means such as sewing or stapling through the base sheet 32.

In one illustrative embodiment, the ribs 30 are substantially continuous over their length. In other embodiments, however, the ribs are interrupted, as by cutting after extrusion and then stretching the base sheet to form a space 46 between the adjacent ends of the interrupted ribs. In addition, interruptions prepared by pressure on an extruded web, for example, with a hot wheel, can make the base sheet thicker in the area of the interruption (thickened, e.g., with the material of the ribs which has flowed under pressure of the hot wheel). These thickened regions may be useful to provide a barrier to relative sliding movement between the track member and a mating hanger or tab member, as discussed further below. Such interruptions can be conveniently formed by contact of the ribbed surface of an extruded web with projections on a heated wheel, whereby longitudinally spaced portions of the ribbed structure are periodically pressed down and accumulate as a raised structure or dam. The dam has a greater height or thickness than the base sheet. The height of the dam is sufficient that when the track member is mated with a tab member, at least the tallest ribs of the other tab member will engage the dam and impede relative sliding movement of the tab member along the track member. A dam may be provided on only one side or end of the track member to limit movement in one direction, or a dam may be provided on both ends of the track member nearest the side edges 11a and 11b of side panel 12. Instead of a dam taking the form of structure raised above the base sheet, rib deformations such as widening of the rib by pressing outer portions of the rib toward, but not all the way into contact with, the base sheet may be used, or cutting a thermoplastic rib with a hot knife as discussed above can be used.

Openings or interruptions in the ribs can provide points at which hangers and optional tab members can be more readily, as desired, removed from the file folder. The openings also permit hangers and optional tabs to be readily mated to the file folder by bending the file folder and track member so as to widen the opening, thereby permitting the tab member to slide past and off the track member. Such an embodiment is illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 wherein track member 26 comprises ribs 30 with openings 46 and 46′ and base sheet 32 with thickened regions 49. Alternatively, the ribs may be cut with a hot knife or similar means to yield openings 46′. As shown in FIG. 4, the shape or profile of the ends of ribs 30 can be disrupted by forming openings 46′ when the ribs are made of a thermoplastic material. Such disruptions to the profile of the ribs can provide stops or “click action” points to assist with desired arrangement of hangers and tab member(s) on the file folder.

The interruptions permit the optional tab member to be moved along the track member in an indexed fashion, e.g., with stops or clicks, facilitating positioning it in a registered fashion. This facilitates organization of a set of files with the tab members positioned as desired. The interruptions are typically oriented substantially perpendicular or transverse to the longitudinal axis of the ribs. Preferably the interruptions are spaced at uniform distances apart to facilitate desired positioning of tab members. For example, in some embodiments, the interruptions will be spaced apart at a distance equal to the width of the tab members or slightly more. In this way, when multiple file folders of this configuration are placed together and index tabs engaged therein in accordance with the invention, the tabs on successive folders can be easily arranged in off-set fashion to reduce blocking by other tab members.

The interruptions may be of any desired width. In some embodiments, interruptions having an average width of from about 1/32 to ⅛ of an inch will be useful, though wider or narrower widths may be used in accordance with the invention. If the interruptions are too narrow, it may be relatively more difficult to remove tab members from the track member. If the interruptions are too wide, tab members may tend to derail or separate from the track member when it is merely desired to reposition the tab member to a different location on the track member to which it is repositionably engaged. In some embodiments, the height of the ribs will be substantially uniform and in other embodiments, the ribs will be of alternating high and low height as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other embodiments may be used in accordance with the invention.

The interruptions permit the hangers to be moved along the track member in an indexed fashion, e.g., stops or clicks between protruding and retracted positions, or movement of an optional tab member, if any, in indexed fashion, facilitating positioning it in a registered fashion. The latter advantage facilitates organization of a set of files with the tab members positioned as desired.

In some embodiments, the height of the ribs will be substantially uniform and in other embodiments, the ribs will be to alternating high and low height as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other embodiments may be used in accordance with the invention.

FIGS. 5a-5d schematically illustrate an illustrative track member of the invention 53, and show it undergoing interengagement with the inner end portion of a hanger 52 having similar rib construction. The track member 53 includes ribs of different height, with tall ribs 54 alternating one-by-one with shorter ribs 55. This repeated deviation from the profile of a full population of identical (e.g., equally tall) symmetrical ribs facilitates a inner-force interengagement of the track member and tab member. As shown in FIG. 5a, the taller ribs 54 contact one another first during interengagement of the track member and tab member; and as shown by the arrow 56, the heads of the taller ribs tend to move into the gap caused by the shortness of the adjacent ribs 55. This self-aligning of the ribs and attached members helps assure an easy and effective interengagement when attaching a hanger (or tab member) to a file folder of the invention. Upon further pressure on the member, as shown in FIGS. 5b and 5c, the taller ribs are directed by their contact with the adjacent shorter ribs (see the arrow 57 of FIG. 5b) into a position where the right flange 59 of a tall rib 54 of the hanger slides under the left flange 60 of a tall rib 54 of the track member (“right” and “left” in this paragraph refer to positions in FIG. 5c). Upon further pressure, as shown in FIG. 5d, the left flange 61 of a tall rib 54 of the hanger moves under the right flange 62 of a short rib 55 of the track member. The described movement of the head portion of the tall ribs 54 during interengagement occurs unimpeded because there is no structure of equal height adjacent the tall ribs. The lowest-force interengagement is obtained when tall and short ribs alternate with one another one-by-one; but still-desirable, somewhat higher, interengagement forces can be obtained if a lesser ratio of short ribs is used so that some tall ribs are adjacent to one another.

A further desirable performance characteristic of the track and hangers illustrated in FIGS. 5a-5d is that the force required to achieve interengagement is of a serial or two-stage nature. That is, a first exercise of force is required to achieve the first stage of interengagement illustrated in FIGS. 5b and 5c, and a second, subsequent exercise of force is required to achieve the full interengagement illustrated in FIG. 5d. Because of this serial or two-stage exercise of force, the maximum force required at any one time is reduced and interengagement is made easier. Also, a track member and hanger pair of this type may have two different degrees of interengagement, allowing one inner-force, perhaps temporary interengagement, and a higher-force, perhaps more lasting interengagement.

The difference in height between the tall rib 54 and short rib 55 may vary, but typically should not be so great as to prevent a significant number of tall and short ribs from having complete engagement, i.e., engagement involving the illustrated movement of the flanges of the tall ribs on one of the track member or hanger pair underneath the short ribs of the opposed member of the pair. The desired ratio of rib heights will be affected by a number of parameters such as material and thickness of the rib portions and shape of the ribs. Typically, the taller ribs will be about one-fourth to three-fourths again taller than the shorter ribs. With some embodiments of the invention tall ribs on the order of one-and-one-half times the height of the short ribs has achieved preferred results.

The rib in FIG. 6 is a representative coextruded rib, which in this case includes two different materials, a first material constituting the principal portion of the rib and a second material constituting a top portion of the rib. More than two materials may be extruded and may constitute different portions of a rib or base sheet. For example, the base sheet might comprise one material, e.g., for flexibility or suppleness, and the ribs comprise a different material, e.g., a stiffer material. Or the stem portion of a rib may comprise one material, e.g., having flexibility, elasticity, or fatigue-resistant properties desired for repeated flexing, and the head portion, i.e., the top portion of the rib including the flanges, may comprise a different material, e.g., a stiffer, non-flexing material.

In one embodiment, the height of a stem portion is preferably greater than the width of a flange attached to the stem portion. The result (assuming the same thickness and composition for stem and flange) is that the stem portion will tend to flex in preference to flexure of the flanges under the pressure placed on the ribs during interengagement with the ribs of an opposed tab member. Bending stiffness is generally proportional to W(T/L)3 for a long beam of length L, width W, and thickness T, when bending occurs in the thickness direction. Because the stem is typically longer than the arms, flexing occurs more easily in the stem if the flanges and stem have similar thicknesses and composition. The ease of flexing in both stem and flanges can be controlled by choice of structure, dimensions and modulus of elasticity of the material of the stem and of the flanges.

Track members and hangers of file folders of the invention may be made from a variety of materials but most commonly are made from polymeric materials, using generally any polymer that can be melt processed. Homopolymers, copolymers and blends of polymers are useful, and may contain a variety of additives. Inorganic materials such as metals may also be used. The composition is chosen to provide desired bending characteristics, including usually an elastic bending movement of the stem of the rib in a direction lateral to the length of the rib and little if any bending of the flanges during engagement and disengagement. Generally an elastic modulus of from 103 MPa to 107 MPa for the composition of the base sheet and ribs including any additives is satisfactory but this may change depending on the application.

The hangers should be strong enough to support that they can collectively support the article in a file cabinet or other storage arrangement as desired, e.g., without deforming or sagging undesirably. The track member and hanger should be selected such that when interengaged as discussed above that, the article will be desirably supported in a file cabinet. The ribs should not deform undesirably that the article will not be supported as desired.

If desired, the hanger or at least that portion which will be in contact with the rail of the file cabinet will be adapted to slide freely on the rails of the file cabinet. For example, reduced width portion 82 of hanger 72 in FIG. 1 might be coated with a suitable friction reducing material. Such embodiments can be more readily moved within a file cabinet.

Suitable thermoplastic polymers include, for example, polyolefins such as polypropylene or polyethylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polymethyl methacrylate, ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers, acrylate-modified ethylene vinyl acetate polymers, ethylene acrylic acid copolymers, nylon, polyvinylchloride, and engineering polymers such as polyketones or polymethylpentanes. Elastomers include, for example, natural or synthetic rubber, styrene block copolymers containing isoprene, butadiene, or ethylene (butylene) blocks, metallocene-catalyzed polyolefins, polyurethanes, and polydiorganosiloxanes. Mixtures of the polymers and/or elastomers may also be used.

Suitable additives include, for example, plasticizers, tackifiers, fillers, colorants, ultraviolet light stabilizers, antioxidants, processing aids (urethanes, silicones, fluoropolymers, etc.), low-coefficient-of-friction materials (silicones), conductive fillers to give the track member and tab member each a level of conductivity, pigments, and combinations thereof, as desired. Generally, additives can be present in amounts up to 50 percent by weight of the composition depending on the application.

Track members and hangers of file folders of the invention can be formed by extruding a polymeric web through a die having an opening cut, for example, by electron discharge machining.

The shape of the die is designed to generate a web with a desired cross-sectional shape or profile. The web is generally quenched after leaving the die by pulling it through a quenching material such as water. A wetting agent may be required in the quenching medium to assure good wetting of the whole surface of the extruded web, including spaces between ribs. The extruded web may be further processed, e.g., by cutting extruded ribs and stretching the web to form interruptions in the ribs or by forming structure to limit relative movement between paired track member and tab member. Track members and hangers are then formed, generally by cutting and slitting the extruded web.

In some embodiments, track members will be made via extrusion. Track members may also be made in other ways, for example, by injection molding or casting. The track member or hanger structure can be incorporated into the larger article in various ways, e.g., by inserting an already prepared ribbed portion into a mold and molding the rest of the article around the ribbed portion; or by configuring a mold surface with mold structure shaped to form a ribbed structure of the invention. When the ribbed structure of the invention is incorporated into a larger article, the term “base sheet” herein includes the structure of the article into which the ribbed structure is incorporated.

As previously stated, the body of a ribbed structure of the invention may include multiple layers, generally of different composition. Such multiple layers can be provided by coextrusion techniques (as described, for example, in published PCT Appln. No. WO 99/17630, published Apr. 15, 1999), which may involve passing different melt streams from different extruders into a multiple-manifold die or a multiple-layer feed block and a film die. The individual streams merge in the feed block and enter the die as a layered stack that flows out into layered sheets as the material leaves the die. The die is patterned so as to form the ribbed configuration of the track member and tab member. A track member of the invention thus may have a base sheet of one composition and ribs of a different composition. Or a portion of the ribs, e.g., the top edge-portion of the rib, may have a different composition from other portions of the rib. For example, the top portion of the rib may include a composition that forms a inner-friction surface than the rest of the rib.

The ribbed nature of track members and hangers of file folders of the invention provides a desired alignment feature to the articles.

In some embodiments of the invention, the surface of the base sheet opposite from the ribbed surface carries structure that specially adapts the track member to attachment to another substrate. Such structure may include ribbed surfaces of the invention in which the rib profile is the same or different from that on the first surface, as well as other mechanical fastening structure such as hooks or loops or headed elements as described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,290,174, or various adhesive layers. Track members and tab members of the invention may also be attached onto a substrate by means separate from the member, e.g., by a separately applied adhesive, by sewing, welding of base sheet material to the substrate, and other means.

As shown in FIG. 1, file folders of the invention can further comprise one or more tab members that are repositionably engaged with the file folder in similar fashion as the hangers. In some embodiments this is preferably done by configuring the tab member to engage with a different portion of the track member than do the hangers. For example, the file folder might be configured such that the hangers engage with one longitudinal portion of the track member and such the tab member(s) engage with another longitudinal portion of the track member. For example, as shown, tab member 32 engages with a portion of the track member nearest the outer edge 14 of side panel 12 and hangers 72 and 74 engage with the portion of the track member nearest binding edge 24. In another embodiment, the tab member(s) might be engaged with portion(s) of the track member between the portions of the track member with which the hangers are engaged.

FIG. 7 shows an illustrative notebook 110 of the invention. As illustrated notebook 110 comprises a first side panel 112 having outer 114 and inner edges 116; a second side panel 118 having outer 120 and inner edges 122; a binding edge 124 interposed between the inner edges of the first and second side panels for coupling the first and second side panels with binder rings 125 for securing items (not shown) within the notebook. Notebook 110 has a track member 126a arranged in parallel to the outer edge 114 of the side panel 112 and comprising two or more ribs 130 arranged substantially parallel to the outer edge 114 and a track member 126b arranged in parallel to the outer edge 120 of side panel 118 and comprising two or more ribs 130 arranged substantially parallel to the outer edge 120. The first side panel 112 has side edges 11a and 11b. An optional tab member 132 can be repositionably engaged with the track member 126a, the tab member having a portion that engages with the track member and a portion upon which desired indicia may be displayed. The track member 126a is preferably immediately adjacent (as shown) to outer edge 114 but may be merely near outer edge 114 if desired. The track members 126a and 126b are preferably located in similar positions on the respective side panels such that they will both support notebook 110 when it is placed in a hanging file rack (not shown). Track members 126a and 126b are both shown on the outside of the respective side panels of notebook 110, but one or both may be located on the inside of the respective side panel if desired. Also, track members 126a and 126b may both be located near the binding edge 124 instead of as shown if it is desired that the notebook hang such that the binding edge 124 is positioned upwardly, e.g., to make it possible to read any legend or information on the outside of binding edge 124.