Title:
CARTON WITH DEFLECTABLE CARRY TOP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A top panel (110), a pair of side panels (112, 114) attached to the top panel (110) and base panels (120, 122) form a tubular open-ended carton (700). End flaps (128, 130) extend from the top panel (110) at the open ends of the carton (700) and are provided with finger receiving areas (108) for grasping by a user. The end flaps (128, 130) are attached to the top panel (110) and are deflectable from an extended position to an interior position when grasped by a user. Relief slits (144), fold lines, and score lines may be provided at predetermined locations to allow the end panels (128, 130) to deflect inward and the top panel (110) to deflect upward when the carton (700) is grasped by a user, thereby providing a convenient means to carry the carton (700) which also provides means for a tightening the carton (700) about the articles (810).



Inventors:
Cargile Jr., John W. (Decatur, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/379502
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
04/20/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/103.2
International Classes:
B65D5/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BYRD, LATRICE CHENELL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTROCK COMPANY (Richmond, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carton, comprising: a top panel; a first side panel hingedly connected to said top panel; a second side panel opposed to said first side panel and hingedly connected to said top panel; a base panel hingedly connected to said first and second side panels; wherein said top panel, said first and second side panels, and said base panel define a tubular structure having an open end; and an end flap hingedly connected to said top panel by a connecting arrangement and extending downwardly from said top panel to at least partially close said open end, said connecting arrangement comprising: first and second horizontally spaced fold lines disposed at a first distance from a lower edge of said end flap; and a third fold line disposed between said first and second fold lines, at a second distance from said lower edge of said end flap, the second distance being greater than the first distance.

2. The carton of claim 1, wherein said first and second fold lines extend respectively from said first and second side panels toward each other.

3. The carton of claim 1, wherein said first and second fold lines are horizontally aligned with each other, and said third line is disposed parallel to said first and second fold lines.

4. The carton of claim 1, wherein said third fold line is disposed at a horizontal distance from each of said first and second fold lines.

5. The carton of claim 4, wherein said connecting arrangement further comprising a plurality of relief slits, at least two of said relief slits extend respectively from said first and second fold lines and terminate at the third fold line.

6. A carton, comprising: a top panel; a first side panel hingedly connected to said top panel; a second side panel opposed to said first side panel and hingedly connected to said top panel; a base closure structure hingedly connected to said first and second side panels; wherein said top panel, said first and second side panels, and said base panel define a tubular structure having at least one open end; and an end flap extending partially over each said at least one open end, said end flap being defined at least in part by: first and second fold lines hingedly connecting said end flap to said top panel, each fold line being disposed at a first distance from the outermost edge of the end flap; a plurality of relief slits, at least two of which extend from respective first and second fold lines; and at least one third fold line hingedly connecting said end flap to said top panel and extending between the relief slits, the third fold line being disposed at a second distance from the outermost edge of the end flap, the second distance being greater than the first distance; and at least one finger receiving area for receiving a finger of a user, said finger receiving area being disposed between the relief slits.

7. The carton of claim 6, wherein the end flap further comprises at least one score line provided on a surface of said end flap such that said end flap deflects inward when the carton is grasped by a user at said finger receiving area.

8. The carton of claim 6, wherein said end flap is inwardly displaceable to provide a handle by which the carton is carried.

9. The carton of claim 6, further comprising: a first side end panel hingedly connected to said first side panel, and hingedly interconnected with said end flap via first top web; and a second side end panel hingedly connected to said second side panel, and hingedly interconnected with said end flap via a second top web; wherein each of said at least one first top gusset panel and said at least one second top gusset panel extends at least partially over said at least one open end.

10. The carton of claim 9, further comprising a first bottom web and a second bottom web extending at least partially over said at least one open end and hingedly interconnecting said base panel structure with said first side end panel and second side end panel, respectively.

11. The carton of claim 10, wherein any of said first and second top webs and said first and second bottom webs comprises at least one gusset panel.

12. The carton of claim 9, wherein said first side end panel and said second side end panel are folded inwardly so as to be substantially in face contacting arrangement with said first side panel and second side panel, respectively.

13. A package, comprising: a group of articles; and a tubular carton having at least one open end enclosing the group of articles, the tubular carton comprising: a top wall, side walls, a bottom wall; and an end flap being hingedly connected to a top wall of said tubular carton and extending at least partially over said at least one open end; wherein said end flap is displaceable into a receiving space between the upper portion of articles in said group of articles, thereby forming a handle.

14. The package of claim 13, wherein said end flap is displaceable into said receiving space so as to tighten said carton about said articles.

15. The package of claim 13, wherein said end flap is hingedly connected along at least one fold line segment.

16. The package of claim 13, wherein said end flap is hingedly connected along a plurality of fold line segments, and at least two of said fold line segments are offset from one another.

17. The package of claim 15, wherein said end flap is hingedly connected along a plurality of fold line segments, and said fold line segments are separated by slits.

18. The package of claim 17, wherein each of said slits receives the upper portion of one of said group of articles.

19. The package of claim 13, said tubular carton further comprising at least one web which extends over said at least one open end, said web for supporting the bottom portion of said articles.

20. The package of claim 19, further comprising a side end panel hingedly connected to one of said side walls, wherein said web interconnects said side end panel and said end flap.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 60/673,214, filed Apr. 20, 2005, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to cartons, and more particularly, to an open-end wrap around style carton having a deflectable carry top.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Wrap around article cartons are well known in the art. An example of such a carton is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,424,368 in which a carton is illustrated having top, bottom, and side panels or walls which are foldably joined together to form a tubular structure with open ends. While such cartons are desirable because they provide the ability to display articles contained therein through the open ends, they typically provide little lateral support at the open ends due to the lack of large supporting walls which, if present, would obscure the contents of the carton. To assist in carrying such open-end cartons, it is known to provide finger holes at a top panel of the carton for the insertion of a user's fingers or to provide a handle attached to the top panel for grasping by a user.

While fit for the intended purpose, open-ended wrap around cartons having finger holes and handles for carrying have several disadvantages. For example, besides being aesthetically unappealing, the finger holes and handles weaken the top panel of the carton and interfere with graphics that may be placed on the top panel of the carton. Lifting cartons by top finger holes or handles also results in a large force concentrated in a few small areas on the carton's top panel, such as the finger holes or the handle's attachment points to the top panel, thereby leaving the top panel subject to ripping or tearing at these stress points. Furthermore, such finger holes and handles provide little or no lateral support to the contents of the carton, especially at the open ends, when the carton is lifted by a user. Also, finger holes and handles often have sharp edges which are uncomfortable when grasped by a user. Additionally, the handles typically require a user to use a closed grip, which may prove difficult for some persons such as those with arthritis.

What is needed is an open-ended carton that is comfortable and easy to carry. What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing open-ended type wrap-around carton that provides a generally uninterrupted top panel surface upon which graphics may be provided. What is further needed is an open-ended type carton that provides means of carrying the carton that does not weaken the top panel of the carton. What is further needed is an open-ended carton that secures the cartons contents and provides lateral support at the open ends when the carton is lifted. What is further needed is an open-ended type carton that minimizes the stress to the top panel of the carton when the carton is lifted by a user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a carton having a generally uninterrupted top panel with deflectable end flaps attached thereto and a pair of side panels connected to the top panel and to base panels to form a tubular open-ended carton. The end flaps are located at the open ends of the carton and are inwardly deflectable to tighten the carton around articles held within the carton. The end flaps include finger receiving areas for grasping by a user. In an exemplary embodiment, the end flaps extend downwardly, and may extend outwardly from the top panel while at rest, and a portion of each end flap deflects inwardly when grasped by a user. The end flaps may include a plurality of panels hingedly connected to the top panel and a plurality of score lines to assist the inward deflection of the end flaps.

In an exemplary embodiment, the end flap deflects inward when grasped by a user such that a portion of the end flap contacts the top or upper portion of articles carried within the carton, thereby pushing the articles together and tightening them within the carton. Curved score lines may be provided to assist in deformation of the carton during lifting by the user including the upward curvature of the top panel and the inner curvature of the end flaps. Finger pressure by a user at the finger receiving areas deflect the end flaps and top panel, and snugs the articles held within the carton, thereby tightening the carton around the top or upper portion of each of the articles to better secure the articles. The deflectable top panel and end flaps with finger receiving portions eliminate the need for finger holes and handles, thereby allowing the top panel to be generally uninterrupted.

The exemplary carton is a tubular structure with at least one open end. The tubular structure includes a top panel, a first side panel hingedly connected to said top panel, a second side panel opposed to the first side panel and hingedly connected to said top panel, and at least one base panel hingedly connected to the first and second side panels. At least one end flap is hingedly connected to the top panel and extends partially over at least one of the open ends.

The end flap is defined at least in part by first and second fold lines. Each of the first and second fold lines extend from a corner of the end flap and are disposed at a first distance from the outermost edge of the end flap. The end flap is further defined by at least two arcuate relief slits that extend from one end from the first and second fold lines, respectively, as well as by a third fold line extending between the relief slits. The third fold line is disposed at a second distance from the outermost edge of the end flap wherein the second distance is greater than the first distance. Upper and lower medial panels are disposed between the third fold line and the outermost edge of the end flap and form a finger receiving area for receiving a finger of a user. The finger receiving area is disposed between the relief slits. Thus, the first and second fold lines may, in essence, be a continuous fold line interrupted by the arcuate relief slits and one or both of the medial panels. The third fold line may be parallel to the first and second fold lines, but is disposed further away from the outermost edge of the end flap. This offsetting of the first and second fold lines from the third fold line, in combination with the upwardly arching arcuate relief slits causes the top panel to bow upward when the carton is erected and/or lifted. Thereby, the end flaps are encouraged to deflect toward the interior of the carton. Each end flap may also include score lines provided on its surface to further facilitate the end flap deflecting inward when the carton is grasped by a user at the finger receiving area.

The foregoing has broadly outlined some of the aspects and features of the present invention, which should be construed to be merely illustrative of various potential applications of the invention. Other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by combining the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of an exemplary embodiment of a blank from which a carton is formed according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the blank of FIG. 1 from its underside as it is folded to form the exemplary carton.

FIG. 3 is a side perspective view of the blank of FIG. 1 as it is folded to form the exemplary carton.

FIG. 4 shows the blank of FIG. 1 from its underside prior to securing the base panels of the blank together to form the erected carton.

FIG. 5 shows the underside of the fully erected carton after securing the base panels of the blank of FIG. 1 together.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the fully erected carton.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the carton of FIG. 6, the carton enclosing bottles.

FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the carton of FIG. 6

FIG. 9 is a top view of the carton of FIG. 6.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view along a line designated as 10-10 in FIG. 6, showing the interior of the top panel of the carton prior to grasping by a user.

FIG. 11 is the carton of FIG. 10, showing the deflection of the top panel of the carton when grasped by a user.

FIG. 12 shows an end elevation view of the exemplary carton prior to grasping by a user.

FIG. 13 shows the carton of FIG. 12 as deflected when grasped by a user.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It must be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms, and combinations thereof. As used herein, the word “exemplary” is used expansively to refer to embodiments that serve as illustrations, specimens, models, or patterns. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. In other instances, well-known components, systems, materials, or methods have not been described in detail in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Referring now to the drawings in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the drawings illustrate certain of the various aspects of an exemplary embodiment of a carton 700 (FIGS. 6 and 7) for enclosing a plurality of articles. In this exemplary embodiment, the carton 700 is an open-ended wrap-around type carton that accommodates four bottles arranged in two rows of two bottles, although the blank or carton may be modified for any number of bottles, cans or other articles.

FIG. 1 shows a blank 100 which, when constructed, forms the carton 700. The blank 100 has a top panel 110, a pair of side panels 112 and 114 hingedly connected thereto along fold lines 116 and 118 respectively, and outer and inner base panels 120 and 122 hingedly connected to the side panels 112 and 114 along fold lines 124 and 126, respectively. The fold lines 116, 118, 124 and 126 include printed lines, score lines, partially cut score lines, perforations and the like, or any combination thereof.

The top panel 110 has end flaps 128, 130 hingedly connected to the top panel 110 which, when the carton 700 is formed, may be deflectable from an extended position to an interior position as described in more detail below. The top panel 110 is preferably uninterrupted by finger holes, handles, or other interruptions and thus provides a suitable surface for receiving graphics.

The end flaps 128 and 130 may each include upper and lower medial panels 136 and 134 located between left and right lateral panels 132, which are hingedly connected to top panel 110 by lateral fold lines 138. The upper medial panel 136 is hingedly connected to top panel 110 by upper medial fold line 140 and hingedly connected to lower medial panel 134 and lateral panels 132 by lower score line 142. In an exemplary embodiment, lateral and medial fold lines 138, 140 and relief slits 144 together form an upward arch so that the top panel 110 curves or bows upward when a user grasps the carton 700, as discussed in more detail below. Lower medial fold line 142 is also preferably arcuate to assist the inward deflection of the upper and lower medial panels 136, 134. Relief slits 144 may be formed at the location 106 where the top panel 110 joins end flaps 128 and 130. Each relief slit 144 extends between the adjacent fold line 138 and the respective upper medial fold line 140. The relief slits 144 may be curved to approximate a top portion of an article to be carried within the carton 700, such as a bottle cap of a bottle. It should be noted that the slits may be replaced by slots, apertures, openings, their combination, or the like.

Significantly, fold lines 138 and 140 are disposed in the plane of the blank 100 but are vertically offset from one another with respect to the uppermost and lowermost edges of the blank. In other words, the fold lines 138 may be parallel to fold lines 140, but not colinear. As can be seen in FIG. 1, the fold lines 138 are offset by a distance D1 from respective uppermost and lowermost edges of the blank 100 and the fold lines 140 are offset by a distance D2 from the respective uppermost and lowermost edges of the blank 100. The distance D2 is greater than the distance D1 such that the fold lines 138 are relatively closer to the outermost edges of the blank 100 than the fold lines 140. More specifically, fold lines 138 are disposed relatively closer to the edge of respective end flaps 128, 130 than fold lines 140. The offset between the fold lines 138 and 140 encourages the upward bowing of top panel 110 that occurs when the fully erected and loaded carton 700 is lifted, and as the end flaps 128, 130 bow toward the interior of the carton 700.

Lower medial panel 134 may be hingedly connected to lateral panels 132 by fold lines 146. Upper and lower medial panels 136 and 134 define a finger receiving area 108 for receiving a user's finger when the user grasps and lifts the carton 700. Lateral panels 132 are hingedly connected to top panel 110 by fold lines 138, hingedly connected to lower medial panel 134 by fold lines 146, and hingedly connected to top gusset panels 152 by fold lines 158.

After construction is completed and the open-ended carton 700 formed, the end flaps 128, 130 extend downwardly from the top panel 110 at open ends of the carton 700. Fold lines 138 and 140 allow end flaps 128, 130 to move inward when the carton 700 is grasped by a user, as explained more fully below. Fold lines 142 may be curved and allow for lower medial panel 134 to move further inward into the interior portion of the erected carton 700. Preferably, top end flaps 128, 130 are sized such that when a user grasps the carton 700, and the end flaps 128, 130 deflect inward, a portion of each end flap 128, 130 contacts the side of an upper portion of at least one article, such as a bottle cap, within the carton and provides a lateral force that pushes the articles together, thereby providing support to the articles.

Side panels 112 and 114 are hingedly connected to top panel 110. Side panels 112, 114 have side flaps 196 hingedly coupled to the side panels 112, 114 by fold lines 150. Each side flap 196 may include a side end panel 148, a top gusset panel 152, a bottom major gusset panel 154, and a bottom minor gusset panel 156.

Side end panel 148 is hingedly connected to top gusset panel 152 by angled fold line 160, which is disposed between fold lines 158 and 150 and defines an acute angle with respect to either fold line 158 or 150. A relief aperture 162 is provided at the intersection of fold line 150 and angled fold line 160 defining an acute angle therebetween. Fold line 150 allows side end panel 148 to be folded inward on the inside surfaces of side panels 112 and 114. By inward, it is meant toward the interior of the blank. Top gusset panel 152 is hingedly connected to lateral panel 132 of front and rear end flaps 128, 130 by fold line 158. Top gusset panel 152 is hingedly connected to side end panel 148 at angled fold line 160.

Bottom major gusset panel 154 is hingedly connected to side end panel 148 at angled fold line 168, which is disposed between fold lines 150 and 172 and may define an acute angle with respect to either fold line 150 or 172. A relief slit 170 extends between one end of fold line 168 and the outer edge of side end panel 148. Bottom major gusset panel 154 may be hingedly connected to bottom minor gusset panel 156 along fold line 172. A relief aperture 174 is provided at the intersection of fold lines 150 and 168, interrupting fold line 168. Bottom minor gusset panel 156 is hingedly connected to bottom major gusset panel 154 by fold line 172 and base panel 120 by fold line 176. After construction of the carton 700 is completed, bottom major and minor gusset panels 154 and 156 define a web 164 that extends between side end panel 148 and base panels 120 and 122 and angles outward from the carton to provide article retaining means at the open end of the carton.

Outer and inner base panels 120, 122 include known tightening openings 188, 194. Known locking tabs 178, 182 are struck from outer base panel 120 for mating with known retaining tabs 190, 192, which are struck from inner base panel 122.

To erect the carton 700 illustrated in FIG. 7, the blank 100 requires a series of sequential folding operations which can be performed by a straight line machine almost simultaneously or in various progressions, so that the carton is not required to be rotated or inverted to complete its erection. The folding process is not limited to that described below and can be altered according to particular manufacturing requirements.

As previously mentioned, the carton 700 is preferably a wrap-around style carton, that is, carton 700 is folded around a group of articles and the bottom is sealed by any suitable means, such as, but not limited to, hot melt glue or locking features, which are known. To erect the carton 700 and enclose the articles therein, the preferably completely flat blank shown in FIG. 1 is lowered onto the group of articles. The inside surface of top panel 110 is placed against the uppermost surface of the articles, and at almost the same time, a number of folding operations are accomplished: side panels 112, 114 are folded somewhat downwardly (as shown in FIG. 2) with respect to the top panel 110, until inside surfaces thereof contact the articles (not shown); side end panel 148 are folded somewhat inwardly (as shown in FIG. 3); end flaps 128, 130 are pulled or folded somewhat inwardly (as shown in FIG. 3); gussets 152 are folded along fold lines 160 placing at least a portion of the outside surface thereof into substantially face-contacting arrangement with a portion the outside surfaces of the side end panels 148 (best shown in FIGS. 6 and 7); base panels 120, 122 are folded inwardly to approximately 90 degrees (shown in FIG. 4), thereby allowing side end panels 148 to fold fully inward until inside surfaces thereof are in substantially face-contacting arrangement with inside surfaces of respective side panels 112, 114; gussets 154 are folded along fold line 168 such that a portion of the outside surfaces thereof are in substantially face-contacting arrangement with portions of the outside surfaces of side end panels 148 (best shown in FIGS. 6 and 7); and base panels 120, 122 are brought together underneath the bottoms of the articles in an overlapping arrangement, such that the inside surfaces thereof contact the article bottoms, and the locking and retaining tabs 178, 182, 190, 192 are engaged as shown in FIG. 5 and described in more detail below. During the process of folding side panels 112, 114 downward, end flaps 128, 130 are folded into a closing position, and a bottle receiving area is naturally formed.

The base panels 120 and 122 are moved further toward each other and interconnected to create a base closure structure. It should be noted that the base closure structure could alternatively be formed from a single one of the base panels 120, 122 interlocked with an edge flap (not shown), or from any other suitable arrangement known or yet to be developed. As shown in FIG. 6, the base panels 120 and 122 are aligned and secured together by placing locking tabs 178, 182 in registry with retaining tabs 190, 192 or are otherwise connected by engaging locking tabs 178, 182 with corresponding retaining tabs 190 and 192 as known in the art to form the open-ended tubular carton 700 shown in FIG. 7.

As shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 9, carton 700 includes a generally uninterrupted top panel 110 having connected thereto end flaps 128 and 130 (obstructed in FIGS. 6 and 7), side panels 112, 114 and base panels 120, 122 which are connected to define a wrap-around type carton having open ends 720. The top panel 110 and end flaps 128, 130 define a carton carrying top 710. The end flaps 128, 130 extend downwardly and outwardly from the top panel 110 and are hingedly connected to the top panel 110 at lateral fold lines 138 and medial fold lines 140, such that end flaps 128, 130 may angle inward when a user grasps the top 710. Upper and lower medial panels 136, 134 define a finger receiving surface 108 located at the center of each end flap 128, 130 for receiving a finger or fingers of a user when grasping the carton 700. In use, a user places a finger or fingers on the finger receiving surface 108 of each end flap 128, 130 and grasps the carton 700, thereby resulting in the inward deflection of a portion of the end flaps 128, 130 and the upper deflection of the top panel 110. As shown in FIG. 7, fold line 142 may be curved and, together with fold lines 146, provide for the inward deflection of medial panels 134 and 136 when the carton 700 is grasped by a user. Vertical fold lines 146 may be provided between lateral panels 132 and medial panel 134 and intersect fold line 142. Lateral fold lines 138 extend to relief slits 144, which in turn, extend to top medial fold line 140 and together form an upward curve line at the connection of top panel 110 and each of the end flaps 128, 130. This structure allows for the upward bowing or deflection of top panel 110 when a user grasps the end flaps 128, 130, and provides relief for the inward deflection of the finger receiving portions 108 into the interior of the carton 700. The exemplary end flaps 128, 130 each include: lateral panels 132 that are hingedly connected to the top panel 110 along lateral fold line 138; upper medial panel 136 that are hingedly attached to the top panel along fold line 140; and top gusset panels 152 that are hingedly attached to lateral panel 132 along fold line 158 and side end panel 148 along angled fold line 160. Major 154 and minor 156 gusset panels are provided at the intersection of base panels 120, 122 and side panels 112, 114 and together define a web 164 which provides lateral support about the bottom of the open ends 720.

FIG. 7 shows the carton 700 in which bottles 810, having bottle caps 820, are enclosed. As shown in FIG. 7, a portion of each bottle cap 820 is received in each relief slit 144. End flaps 128, 130 extend downwardly and outwardly from top panel 110 such that top gusset panel 152, lateral outer panel 132, lower medial panel 134 and upper medial panel 136 are adjacent to and preferably contact the bottle caps 820 or otherwise the upper portion of the bottles 810. The carton 700 is well suited to enclose articles having tapered tops such that the bottle tops may be partially received by article top relief slits 144, and to allow for a receiving space 830 between the bottles for the deflection of the end flaps 128, 130.

The movement of end flaps 128, 130 when grasped by a user is best shown in FIGS. 9-13. FIG. 9 shows a top view of the carton of FIG. 6 wherein top panel 110 and end flaps 128, 130 are in initial positions prior to grasping by a user. As a user grasps the carton 700 at finger receiving areas 108, the end flaps 128, 130 deflect inward such that lateral panels 132 contact and apply an inward force on the bottle caps 820 or the upper portion of the bottles 810. This further secures the bottles 810 within the carton 700 and provides lateral support to the upper portion of the bottles 810. A user may then lift the carton 700, at least partially lifting the bottles 810 by their bottle caps 820, thereby lifting the bottles 810 while also additionally securing the upper portion of the bottles 820. This arrangement allows the stress points of the carton 700 to be distributed about the bottles 810 thereby preventing undue stress on the top panel 110.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show the inside of the top portion of the carton and illustrate the deflection of the carton 700 when the carton is grasped at the finger receiving area 108 by a user. As shown in FIG. 10, prior to grasping by a user, end flaps 128, 130 extend outward from top panel 110. When a user grasps the carton, end flaps 128, 130 deflect inward about article top relief slits 144 and fold lines 142 and 146. In this manner, the user's grasp causes a snug fit of the end flaps 128, 130 about the upper portions of the articles, and causes the bottle caps 820 or otherwise the upper portion of the articles to be received in the article receiving areas 106, which are defined by relief slits 144. The lower rim of each bottle cap 820 may rest on an edge of a lateral panel 132 and upper medial panel 136, which is defined by a relief slit 144. Alternatively, an upper portion of an article extends into the article receiving area 106.

FIGS. 12 and 13 show the deflection of the carton from a front view. As shown in FIG. 12, the exemplary carton 700 is provided with articles, shown as bottles 810. The bottles 810 fit snugly within the carton 700 such that top panel 110 may curve slightly upward. Top end flaps 128, 130 extend downwardly somewhat with respect to top panel 110 along lateral fold lines 138, article relief slits 144 and upper medial fold line 140. FIG. 13 shows a user's thumb 1200 grasping the carton 700 at finger receiving area 108, which increases the upward curvature of top panel 110 and causes end flap 128 to deflect inward with the greatest deflection being at the finger receiving portion 108. When moving inward, the end flaps 128, 130 contact and form around a portion of the bottle cap 820 or upper portion of the bottle 810, thereby urging the bottles 810 inward against one another to further secure the bottles 810 within the carton. Top gusset panels 152 are pulled inward as shown. The lateral force urges the bottles 810 together, thereby transferring at least some of the load of the bottles 810 to the end panels and bottles. As the bottle caps 820 or upper portions of the bottles 810 are forced inward, the upper portions of the bottles 810 may tilt slightly inwards thereby pushing the lower portions of the bottles 810 outward. Web 164 secures the bottom of the bottle 810 against this outward force.

The deflection of the end flaps 128, 130 also pulls the side panels 112, 114, which are connected to the end flaps 128, 130 by top gusset panel 152 and side end panel 148, inward to further secure the articles. Thus, the deflection of the end flaps 128, 130 and top panel 110 effectively tightens the carton around the articles by pushing the bottles 810 together in a front to back direction by the side panels 112, 114 and in a left to right direction by the end flaps 128, 130 and the web 164. This increases the contact points between the articles to better distribute the stresses.

It should be appreciated that as used herein, directional references such as “top”, “base”, “end”, “side”, “upper” and “lower” do not limit the respective panels to such orientation, but merely serve to distinguish these panels from one another. The orientation of the carton could be altered depending on, for example, the articles to be carried in the carton.

It should be still further appreciated that any reference to a fold line or hinged connection should not be construed as necessarily referring to a single fold line only: indeed it is envisaged that hinged connection can be formed from one or more of one of the following, a score line, a frangible line or a fold line, without departing from the scope of the invention.

The above-described embodiments are merely exemplary illustrations of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Variations, modifications, and combinations may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the claims. All such variations, modifications, and combinations are included herein by the scope of this disclosure and the following claims.





 
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