Title:
Packaging assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A packaging assembly use to protect and display products contained in clamshell packs includes a box top cover, an upper insert, a lower insert, and a box bottom tray. The upper insert contains upper slots configured to receive the upper end of the clamshell packs. The lower insert contains lower slots configured to receive the lower end of the clamshell packs. The clamshell packs are held vertically by paired slots in the upper and lower inserts. A portion of a sidewall of the box bottom tray is cut out for displaying the clamshell packs. The sidewalls of the box bottom tray extend beyond the height of the clamshell packs and support the top cover of the box. Upper and lower inserts are fashioned as a single sheet, a rectangular box, and a folded sheet with indentations.



Inventors:
Donnelly, Jane (Cranford, NJ, US)
Lang, Evan (Yuen Long, HK)
Kent, Douglas (Parsippany, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/335692
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
01/20/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/02; B65D85/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Steve P. Arnheim (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box, comprising: a lower insert comprising a plurality of lower slots, each of the plurality of lower slots configured to receive a lower end of a clamshell pack; and an upper insert comprising a plurality of upper slots, each of the plurality of upper slots configured to receive an upper end of the clamshell pack, wherein the lower insert and the upper insert are configured to receive one or more clamshell packs.

2. The packaging assembly of claim 1, further comprising a box top cover and a box bottom tray.

3. The packaging assembly of claim 2, wherein at least one side of the box bottom tray is cut out for viewing interior of the box.

4. The packaging assembly of claim 2, wherein the lower insert and the box bottom tray are configured to serve as a display for the clamshell packs.

5. The packaging assembly of claim 2, wherein a height of the clamshell packs is less than a height of sidewalls of the box bottom tray.

6. The packaging assembly of claim 2, wherein the box top cover rests on the box bottom tray.

7. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein the upper insert is a single sheet of material.

8. The packaging assembly of claim 7, wherein the material comprises one of cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper.

9. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of upper slots is formed in a shape comprising one of oval and rectangular.

10. The packaging assembly of claim 7, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of upper slots is formed by removing a portion of the single sheet within the borders of the single sheet.

11. The packaging assembly of claim 7, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of upper slots is formed by removing a portion of the single sheet wherein the one slot extends to an edge of one side of the single sheet and is open at the edge.

12. The packaging assembly of claim 7, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of upper slots is formed by cutting out a portion of the single sheet from within the borders of the single sheet that is still attached to the single sheet and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the single sheet.

13. The packaging assembly of claim 7, at least one slot of the plurality of upper slots is formed by cutting out a portion of the single sheet that is still attached to the single sheet and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the single sheet, wherein the one slot extends to an edge of one side of the single sheet and is open at the edge.

14. The packaging assembly of claim 7, further comprising a box top cover and a box bottom tray, wherein the single sheet is made longer in at least one dimension than a corresponding dimension of the box bottom tray and at least one edge in the at least one dimension is folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet so that the remainder of the single sheet fits within the corresponding dimension of the box bottom tray.

15. The packaging assembly of claim 14, wherein the at least one edge is configured to maintain a distance between a top surface of the box top cover and the plurality of upper slots.

16. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein the upper insert comprises at least one sheet folded into the shape of a rectangular box.

17. The packaging assembly of claim 16, wherein the plurality of upper slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot that meet at, at least one edge of the rectangular box.

18. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein the upper insert comprises at least one sheet with at least one end folded into the shape of a rectangular box.

19. The packaging assembly of claim 18, wherein the plurality of upper slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot that meet at, at least one edge of the rectangular box.

20. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein the upper insert comprises at least one sheet with at least one rectangular edge folded substantially perpendicular to the plane of the at least one sheet.

21. The packaging assembly of claim 20, wherein at least two rectangular indentations are formed with a space in between by indenting two areas created by making four parallel slices that extend from the plane of the at least one sheet to the at least one rectangular edge.

22. The packaging assembly of claim 21, wherein the plurality of upper slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot created from the space in between the two rectangular indentations.

23. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein the lower insert is a single sheet of material.

24. The packaging assembly of claim 23, wherein the material comprises one of cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper.

25. The packaging assembly of claim 1, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of lower slots is formed in a shape comprising one of oval and rectangular.

26. The packaging assembly of claim 23, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of lower slots is formed by removing a portion of the single sheet within the borders of the single sheet.

27. The packaging assembly of claim 23, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of lower slots is formed by removing a portion of the single sheet wherein the one slot extends to an edge of one side of the single sheet and is open at the edge.

28. The packaging assembly of claim 23, wherein at least one slot of the plurality of lower slots is formed by cutting out a portion of the single sheet from within the borders of the single sheet that is still attached to the single sheet and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the single sheet.

29. The packaging assembly of claim 23, at least one slot of the plurality of lower slots formed by cutting out a portion of the single sheet that is still attached to the single sheet and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the single sheet, wherein the at least one slot extends to an edge of one side of the single sheet and is open at the edge.

30. The packaging assembly of claim 23, further comprising a box bottom tray, wherein the single sheet is made longer in at least one dimension than a corresponding dimension of the box bottom tray and at least one edge in the at least one dimension is folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet so that the remainder of the single sheet fits within the corresponding dimension of the box bottom tray.

31. The packaging assembly of claim 30, wherein the at least one edge is configured to maintain a distance between a bottom surface of the box bottom tray and the plurality of lower slots.

32. The packaging assembly of claim 4, wherein the lower insert comprises at least one sheet folded into the shape of a rectangular box.

33. The packaging assembly of claim 32, wherein the plurality of lower slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot that meet at, at least one edge of the rectangular box.

34. The packaging assembly of claim 4, wherein the lower insert comprises at least one sheet with at least one end folded into the shape of a rectangular box.

35. The packaging assembly of claim 34, wherein the plurality of lower slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot that meet at, at least one edge of the rectangular box.

36. The packaging assembly of claim 4, wherein the lower insert comprises at least one sheet with at least one rectangular edge folded substantially perpendicular to the plane of the at least one sheet.

37. The packaging assembly of claim 36, wherein at least two rectangular indentations are formed with a space in between by indenting two areas created by making four parallel slices that extend from the plane of the at least one sheet to the at least one rectangular edge.

38. The packaging assembly of claim 37, wherein the plurality of upper slots comprise at least one substantially horizontal slot and one substantially vertical slot created from the space in between the two rectangular indentations.

39. A packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs, comprising: a tray configured to receive a plurality of clamshell packs; a lower insert located within the tray, wherein the lower insert comprises a plurality of lower slots for receiving lower edges of the plurality of clamshell packs; an upper insert located within the tray, wherein the upper insert comprises a plurality of upper slots for receiving upper edges of the plurality of clamshell packs; and a cover configured to transfer normal forces to the tray, wherein the plurality of clamshell packs do not experience the normal forces.

40. A packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box, comprising: a bottom tray; a lower insert comprising a plurality of lower slots, each of the plurality of lower slots is configured to receive a lower end of a clamshell pack; and a top cover comprising a plurality of upper slots, each of the plurality of upper slots is configured to receive an upper end of the clamshell pack, wherein the lower insert and the top cover are configured to receive one or more clamshell packs.

41. A packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box, comprising: a bottom tray that comprises: a plurality of lower slots, each of the plurality of lower slots configured to receive a lower end of a clamshell pack; and four corners that extend above the clamshell pack, wherein the four corners provide support for a top of the box; a top cover; and an upper insert comprising a plurality of upper slots, each of the plurality of upper slots configured to receive an upper end of the clamshell pack, wherein the bottom tray and the upper insert are configured to receive one or more clamshell packs.

Description:

This Application claims priority based on U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/645,033 filed Jan. 21, 2005.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to bulk product packaging and, more particularly, to a packaging assembly for shipping and displaying individually packaged products, for example products contained in clamshell packages or blister packs.

2. Background of the Invention

Typically, warehouse shopping clubs, such as Costco and Sam's Club, require manufacturers to ship products according to very strict guidelines. These guidelines ensure that products are adequately protected during shipment, yet are convenient to handle on the warehouse floor and ready to display. To conform to the physical set-up of these warehouse clubs and to minimize their operational costs, the warehouse clubs prefer product packaging that enables a large number of product units to be placed at one time at the point-of-sale, with easy access to and viewing of the product. Typically, these clubs receive bulk products shipped and packaged on pallets. The clubs place the pallets directly on the sales floor.

In following these packaging guidelines, the challenge for the manufacturers is in striking the appropriate balance between adequately protecting the products from damage and minimizing the amount of handling necessary to display the products on the store floor. Further complicating this balance, the manufacturers generally favor plastic individual product packaging, such as clamshell packages or blister packs, because it is inexpensive and deters theft. Such packaging, however, is more susceptible to shipping damage and more difficult to display in bulk form (e.g., typical clamshells were originally intended to hang and will not stand up). As a result, manufacturers and warehouse clubs are in a constant search for packaging that ships and protects the inexpensive plastic individual product packaging, and allows the easy handling and display of the products on the store floor.

A packaging assembly aimed at meeting the guidelines of warehouse clubs was described U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,979,662; 6,050,420; 6,152,305; 6,367,632; and 6,427,842. This assembly has two distinguishing features. First, it requires that the plastic individual product packaging provide the support which allows multiple assemblies to be stacked on top of each other. Second, it relies on pairs of slots in the side panels of the base of the assembly alone to hold the plastic individual product packaging in place.

In order for the individual product packaging to provide support for the assembly, it must be strengthened beyond what is necessary to perform its primary functions of product protection and theft deterrence. In order for the base of the assembly alone to hold the individual product packaging, it must also be strengthened beyond what is necessary to support and protect the assembly. Strengthening both the individual product packaging and the base of the assembly increases the overall cost and complexity of the packaging assembly. Accordingly, it can be appreciated that a substantial need exists for packaging assemblies that meet the guidelines of warehouse clubs and produce the lowest overall increase in packaging costs and complexity.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention satisfies the special packaging needs of warehouse clubs by using clamshell packs to package small products, by isolating the clamshell packs from stacking compression, by providing an easily removed cover and insert, and by providing a cutout in the tray bottom through which to view the products.

One embodiment of the present invention is a box which includes an upper insert and lower insert. The upper insert and lower insert are used to hold the clamshell packs vertically. The upper insert includes a number of upper slots, where each slot is configured to receive an upper end of the clamshell pack. The lower insert includes a similar number of slots that are paired with the upper slots, where each lower slot is configured to receive a lower end of the clamshell pack. The upper and lower inserts are configured to receive one or more clamshell packs.

The box also has a top cover and bottom tray. At least one side of the bottom tray is cut out for viewing the interior of the box. The lower insert and the bottom tray are configured to serve as a display for the clamshell packs. The height of the clamshell packs is less than the height of the sidewalls of the box bottom tray. This allows the box top cover to rest on the box bottom tray and not on the clamshell packs.

The upper and lower inserts are fashioned in a number of different ways. In one embodiment a single sheet of material is used. This material includes cardboard, wood, plastic, and paper. The slots of an insert are formed in a rectangular or oval shape. They are created in a variety of different ways. They are formed within the borders of the single sheet by removing portions of the single sheet. In another embodiment, they are formed by removing portions of the single sheet including portions of the edge of the single sheet. In another embodiment, they are formed within the borders of the single sheet by cutting out portions of the single sheet that are still attached to the single sheet and folding the portions substantially perpendicular to single sheet. In another embodiment, they are formed by cutting out portions of the single sheet, including portions of the edge of the single sheet, that are still attached to the single sheet and folding the portions substantially perpendicular to single sheet.

In another embodiment of an upper or lower insert, at least one edge of the insert is folded substantially perpendicular to the plane of the insert. This creates a three-dimensional structure that improves the stability of the insert and provides spacing between the slots of the insert and the panels of the box. In another embodiment, at least one sheet is folded into the shape of a rectangular box. Substantially horizontal and substantially vertical slots are fashioned in the box and meet at, at least, one edge. In another embodiment, at least one end of a sheet is folded into the shape of a rectangular box containing horizontal and substantially vertical slots. In another embodiment, at least two indentations with a space in between are made in a single sheet with at least one rectangular edge folded substantially perpendicular to the plane of the sheet. The indentations are created from four parallel slices made from the plane of the sheet to the rectangular folded edge. The four parallel slices are made substantially perpendicular to the fold. Indenting two areas made by the parallel slices creates one substantially horizontal and one substantially vertical slot between the two indentations.

In another embodiment, a packaging assembly includes a top cover, a lower insert, and a bottom tray. Slots in the top cover and lower insert hold the clamshell packs in place vertically. In another embodiment, a packaging assembly includes a top cover, an upper insert, and a bottom tray. Slots in the upper insert and the bottom tray hold the clamshell packs in place vertically. The bottom tray includes four corners that extend above the clamshell packs and provide support for the top cover of the box.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where lower and upper inserts hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a profile view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where lower and upper inserts hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet that are contained entirely within the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet where one end of each slot is open at the edge of the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by cutting out portions of the sheet still attached to the sheet and contained entirely within the sheet, and folding the cut out portions substantially perpendicular to the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by cutting out portions of the sheet still attached to the sheet and folding the cut out portions substantially perpendicular to the sheet where one end of each slot is open at the edge of the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet that are contained entirely within the sheet and four edges folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of an insert made up of two separate rectangular box-like structures containing both vertical and substantially horizontal slots that are paired in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert in which two rectangular box-like structures containing both substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots that are paired have been formed from opposite ends of the single sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert in which the edges have been folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet and substantially horizontal and substantially vertical portions of two opposite sides have been indented in one piece to produce substantially horizontal and substantially vertical slots in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a lower insert and a top cover hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a bottom tray and an upper insert hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 a schematic diagram of a profile view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a bottom tray and an upper insert hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where lower and upper inserts hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Packaging assembly 100 includes box top cover 110, upper insert 120, clamshell packs 130, lower insert 140, and box bottom tray 150. Box top cover 110 and box bottom tray 150 form a box. One side of box bottom tray 150 is cut out for viewing the interior of the box.

In this embodiment, packaging assembly 100 contains four clamshell packs 130. One skilled in the art will appreciate that this is assembly is not limited to four clamshell packs 130. Other embodiments may contain more than four clamshell packs 130 or fewer than four clamshell packs 130. The number of clamshell packs 130 contained by packaging assembly 100 is determined by the size of the clamshell packs 130 and size of packaging assembly 100.

Each clamshell pack 130 is formed from two plastic panels fused together. The panels include cavities in which the product is held. The fused panels have a fused outer edge around the sides of clamshell pack 130. In one embodiment the fused panels are completely flat. In another embodiment, the back panel includes a frame that protrudes in a direction substantially perpendicular to the face of the back panel. The lower outer edge of clamshell pack 130 protrudes from this frame in a direction substantially perpendicular to the frame.

Clamshell packs 130 are held in place by slots formed in upper insert 120 and lower insert 140. Upper insert 120 contains slots 125. Slots 125 are configured to receive the upper edges of clamshell packs 130. Lower insert 140 contains slots 145. Slots 145 are configured to receive the lower edges of clamshell packs 130. Each clamshell pack 130 is secured in place by one slot in upper insert 120 and one slot in lower insert 140. As a result, upper insert 120 and lower insert 140 secures one or more clamshell packs depending on the number of slots contained in inserts 120 and 140.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a profile view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where lower and upper inserts hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Closed packaging assembly 200, includes box top cover 110, upper insert 120, clamshell packs 130, lower insert 140, and box bottom tray 150. Upper insert 120 rests on clamshell packs 130 and lower insert 140 rests on the bottom panel of box bottom tray 150. Clamshell packs 130 are vertically held in place by slots 125 formed in upper insert 120 and slots 145 formed in lower insert 140. In one embodiment, clamshell packs 130 rest on lower insert 140. In another embodiment, clamshell packs 130 rest on the bottom panel of box bottom tray 150. In another embodiment clamshell packs 130 rest on both lower insert 140 and on the bottom panel of box bottom tray 150.

The back of one clamshell pack 130 faces the front of the next clamshell pack 130 in succession. In one embodiment, the clamshell packs do not contact each other. The spacing of slots 125 and the spacing of slots 145 is large enough to prevent the clamshell packs from contacting each other. In another embodiment, the clamshell packs do contact each other. The spacing of slots 125 and the spacing of slots 145 is the width of a clamshell pack so that the clamshell packs will contact each other.

The height of clamshell packs 130 is less than the height of sidewalls 160 of box bottom tray 150. Accordingly, box top cover 110 rests on sidewalls 160 of box bottom tray 150 and does not contact clamshell packs 130. Consequently, sidewalls 160 of box bottom tray 150 support box top cover 110. In addition, sidewalls 160 of box bottom tray 150 would support any additional closed packaging assemblies 200 stacked on top of box top cover 110. Clamshell packs 130 do not contribute to this structural support.

In one embodiment, box top cover 110 is removed for display purposes. Upper insert 120 may be further removed for display purposes. As a result, the combination of lower insert 140 and box bottom tray 150 perform the function of a display for the product.

Each of upper insert 120 and lower insert 140 helps maintain the vertical positioning of clamshell packs 130 in closed packaging assembly 200. This is particularly important during shipping and movement of closed packaging assembly 200. FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet that are contained entirely within the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 300, which can be configured to serve as upper insert 120 or lower insert 140, contains slots 325 that are formed by removing portions of sheet 300 that are contained entirely within the borders of sheet 300. Sheet 300 is created from materials including but not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Slots 325 are formed in shapes including but not limited to rectangular and oval. In one embodiment, sheet 300 is used as an upper insert. The length and width of slots 325 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. In another embodiment, sheet 300 is used as a lower insert. The length and width of slots 325 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs.

Forming slots in a single sheet of material of the precise length to receive the edges of the clamshell packs increases the complexity of manufacturing the insert. Placing a single sheet with slots of precise length to receive the edges of the clamshell packs is also likely to increase the time necessary to close and open the packaging assembly. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet where one end of each slot is open at the edge of the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 400 contains slots 425 that are formed by removing portions of sheet 400 where one end of each slot is open at the edge of sheet 400. This embodiment increases the manufacturing options for the insert, reduces the accuracy need in forming slots 425, and makes it easier to add and remove the insert to and from the packaging assembly. Sheet 400 is created from materials including but not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Slots 425 are formed in shapes including but not limited to rectangular and oval. In one embodiment, sheet 400 is used as an upper insert. The length and width of slots 425 are still configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. However, much greater margin for error is available in configuring the length. In another embodiment, sheet 400 is used as a lower insert. The length and width of slots 425 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. Likewise, much greater margin for error is available in configuring the length.

One method of increasing the stability and/or structural rigidity of an insert is to make it three-dimensional. FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by cutting out portions of the sheet that are still attached to the sheet and contained entirely within the sheet, and folding the cut out portions substantially perpendicular to the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 500 contains slots 525 that are formed by cutting out portions 526 of sheet 500 that are still attached to sheet 500. Slots 525 are contained entirely within the borders of sheet 500. Portions 526 cut out of sheet 500 are folded substantially perpendicular to sheet 500. This makes the insert three-dimensional. Sheet 500 is created from materials including but not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Slots 525 are formed in shapes including but not limited to rectangular and oval. In one embodiment, sheet 500 is used as an upper insert. The length and width of slots 525 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. In another embodiment, sheet 500 is used as a lower insert. The length and width of slots 525 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs.

Similarly, an insert containing slots open at one end can be made three-dimensional. FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by cutting out portions of the sheet still attached to the sheet and folding the cut out portions substantially perpendicular to the sheet where one end of each slot is open at the edge of the sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 600 contains slots 625 that are formed by cutting out portions 626 of sheet 600 that are still attached to sheet 600. One end of each of slots 626 is open at the edge of sheet 600. Portions 626 cut out of sheet 600 are folded substantially perpendicular to sheet 600. This makes the upper insert three-dimensional. Sheet 600 is created from materials including but not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Slots 625 are formed in shapes including but not limited to rectangular and oval. In one embodiment sheet 600 is used as an upper insert. The length and width of slots 625 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. However, much greater margin for error is available in configuring the length. In another embodiment sheet 600 is used as a lower insert. The length and width of slots 625 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. Likewise, much greater margin for error is available in configuring the length.

In addition to providing stability and/or structural rigidity, forming an insert in three dimensions provides spacing between the clamshell packs and the box. In one embodiment, a three-dimensional upper insert formed by folding at least one edge of the insert provides spacing between the slots of the insert and the top surface of the box top cover or the bottom surface of the box bottom tray. This effectively provides spacing between the clamshell packs and the box top cover or the box bottom tray. A three-dimensional upper insert formed by folding the area cut out to form the slots does not provide the proper spacing if the thickness of the slots in less than or greater than the required spacing. As a result, at least one edge of the insert is used to provide the required spacing.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert containing slots formed by removing portions of the sheet that are contained entirely within the sheet and four edges folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 700 contains slots 725 that are formed by removing portions of sheet 700 that are contained entirely within the borders of sheet 700. Sheet 700 is created from materials including but not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Slots 725 are formed in shapes including but not limited to rectangular and oval. Sheet 700 also contains four folded edges 760. Folded edges 760 were created by extending both dimensions of sheet 700 by about twice the spacing required between a clamshell pack's frame and the top cover of the box. Four rectangles of length and width equal to the required spacing were removed from each corner of sheet 700. The four edges of sheet 700 were then folded at length equal to the required spacing from each edge of sheet 700.

In one embodiment, sheet 700 is used as an upper insert. The length and width of slots 725 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. When sheet 700 is placed over the upper edges of the clamshell packs with folded edges 760 on the side opposite to the clamshell packs, sheet 700 provides the required spacing between the frames of the clamshell packs and the top cover of the box. As long as the length of folded edges 760 is greater than the length of the upper edge of a clamshell packs that protrudes through a slot 725, the clamshell pack does not contact the top cover of the box.

In another embodiment, sheet 700 is used as a lower insert. The length and width of slots 725 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. When sheet 700 is placed under the lower edges of the clamshell packs with folded edges 760 on the side opposite to the clamshell packs, sheet 700 provides the required spacing between the frames of the clamshell packs and the bottom surface of the box bottom tray. As long as the length of folded edges 760 is greater than the length of the lower edge of a clamshell packs that protrudes through a slot 725, the clamshell pack does not contact the bottom surface of the box bottom tray. In another embodiment, the length of folded edges 760 is made so that the edge of the clamshell pack contacts the bottom surface of the box bottom tray, and, therefore, the clamshell pack will rest on the box bottom tray.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of an insert made up of two separate rectangular box-like structures containing both substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots that are paired in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Insert 800 has two separate box-like structures 870 formed from two separate pieces of material. This material includes but is not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Each box-like structure 870 is formed by folding a single sheet three times. Each structure 870 also contains substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots 825 that meet at, at least, one edge to form an “L” shape or inverted “L” slot. In one embodiment, slots 825 are formed by removing the material from the slot area. In another embodiment, slots 825 are formed by cutting out a portion of the slot area that is still attached to structure 870 and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the plane of the slot.

In one embodiment, insert 800 is used as an upper insert. Slots 825 include one substantially vertical slot and one substantially horizontal slot which meet at one edge to form an inverted “L” shape. The length and width of slots 825 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot then rests on the frame of the clamshell pack while the upper edge of the clamshell pack extends up into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of the upper edge of the clamshell pack. In another embodiment, slots 825 include one substantially vertical slot and two substantially horizontal slots. Each substantially horizontal slot meets an end of the substantially vertical slot at its edge. One of the substantially horizontal slots then rests on the frame of the clamshell pack while the upper edge of the clamshell pack extends up into the substantially vertical and can extend through the other substantially horizontal slot on top. In both embodiments, slots 825 of structures 870 are paired, and structures 870 are placed on both sides of the clamshell packs creating an upper insert with slots 825 paired along two parallel sides. In another embodiment, only one of the two structures 870 is used as an upper insert.

In another embodiment, insert 800 is used as a lower insert. Slots 825 include one substantially vertical slot and one substantially horizontal slot which meet at one edge to form an “L” shape. The length and width of slots 825 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot receives the lower edge of the clamshell pack and the lower edge of the clamshell pack extends down into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of lower edge of the clamshell pack if the clamshell pack is to rest on the insert. In another embodiment, slots 825 include one substantially vertical slot and two substantially horizontal slots. Each substantially horizontal slot meets an end of the substantially vertical slot at its edge. One of the substantially horizontal slots receives the lower edge of the clamshell pack while the lower edge of the clamshell pack extends down into the substantially vertical slot. The lower edge of the clamshell pack can also extend into the other substantially horizontal slot touching the bottom surface of the box bottom tray. In both embodiments, slots 825 of structures 870 are paired, and structures 870 are placed on both sides of the clamshell packs creating a lower insert with slots 825 paired along two parallel sides. In another embodiment, only one of the two structures 870 is used as a lower insert.

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert in which two rectangular box-like structures containing both substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots that are paired have been formed from opposite ends of the single sheet in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Insert 900 has two box-like structures 970 formed from one piece of material. This material includes but is not limited to cardboard, plastic, wood, and paper. Each box-like structure 970 is formed by folding an end of the single sheet three times. Each structure 970 also contains substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots 925 that meet at, at least, one edge. In one embodiment, slots 925 are formed by removing the material from the slot area. In another embodiment, slots 925 are formed by cutting out a portion of the slot area that is still attached to structure 970 and folding the portion substantially perpendicular to the plane of the slot.

In one embodiment, insert 900 is used as an upper insert. Slots 925 include one substantially vertical slot and one substantially horizontal slot which meet at one edge to form an “L” shape. The length and width of slots 925 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot then rests on the frame of the clamshell pack while the upper edge of the clamshell pack extends up into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of the upper edge of the clamshell pack. In another embodiment, slots 925 include one substantially vertical slot and two substantially horizontal slots. Each substantially horizontal slot meets an end of the substantially vertical slot at its edge. One of the substantially horizontal slots then rests on the frame of the clamshell pack while the upper edge of the clamshell pack extends up into the substantially vertical slot and can extend through the other substantially horizontal slot on top. In both embodiments, slots 925 of structures 970 are paired, and structures 970 are formed at opposite ends of the single sheet creating an upper insert with slots 925 paired along two parallel sides. In another embodiment, only one end of the single sheet contains a structure 970 and is used as an upper insert.

In another embodiment, insert 900 is used as a lower insert. Slots 925 include one substantially vertical slot and one substantially horizontal slot which meet at one edge to form an “L” shape. The length and width of slots 925 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot receives the lower edge of the clamshell pack and the lower edge of the clamshell pack extends down into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of lower edge of the clamshell pack if the clamshell pack is to rest on the insert. In another embodiment, slots 925 include one substantially vertical slot and two substantially horizontal slots. Each substantially horizontal slot meets an end of the substantially vertical slot at its edge. One of the substantially horizontal slots receives the lower edge of the clamshell pack while the lower edge of the clamshell pack extends down into the substantially vertical slot. The lower edge of the clamshell pack can also extend into the other substantially horizontal slot touching the bottom surface of the box bottom tray. In both embodiments, slots 925 of structures 970 are paired, and structures 970 are formed at opposite ends of the single sheet creating a lower insert with slots 925 paired along two parallel sides. In another embodiment, only one end of the single sheet contains a structure 970 and is used as a lower insert.

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram of a single sheet insert in which the edges have been folded substantially perpendicular to the single sheet and substantially horizontal and substantially vertical portions of two opposite sides have been indented in one piece to produce substantially horizontal and substantially vertical slots in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Sheet 1000 contains four folded edges 1060. Folded edges 1060 were created by extending both dimensions of sheet 1000 by about twice the spacing required between a clamshell pack's frame and the top cover of the box. Four rectangles of length and width equal to the required spacing were removed from each corner of sheet 1000. The four edges of sheet 1000 were then folded at length equal to the required spacing from each edge of sheet 1000. Sheet 1000 also contains indentations 1090. Indentations 1090 were each formed by making pairs of substantially vertical slices in one folded edge [check with SA] and substantially horizontal slices in the plane of the single sheet. Each substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slice met at the edge of a fold. The area between slices was pushed in or indented to form a rectangular structure inside the fold. Pairs of indentations 1090 were made along two sides of sheet 1000. The area in between indentions created substantially vertical and substantially horizontal slots 1095.

In one embodiment, sheet 1000 is an upper insert. The length and width of slots 1095 are configured to receive the upper edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot then rests on the frame of the clamshell pack while the upper edge of the clamshell pack extends up into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of the upper edge of the clamshell pack. Slots 1095 are paired along two parallel sides of sheet 1000. In another embodiment, only one side of sheet 1000 contains indentions 1090 and slots 1095.

In another embodiment, insert 1000 is used as a lower insert. Slots 1095 include one substantially vertical slot and one substantially horizontal slot which meet at one edge. The length and width of slots 1095 are configured to receive the lower edges of the clamshell packs. The substantially horizontal slot receives the lower edge of the clamshell pack and the lower edge of the clamshell pack extends down into the substantially vertical slot. The length of the substantially vertical slot must be greater than or equal to the length of lower edge of the clamshell pack if the clamshell pack is to rest on the insert. Slots 1095 are paired along two parallel sides of sheet 1000. In another embodiment, only one side of sheet 1000 contains indentions 1090 and slots 1095.

FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a lower insert and a top cover hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Packaging assembly 1100 includes box top cover 1110, clamshell packs 130, lower insert 140, and box bottom tray 150. Clamshell packs 130 are vertically held in place by slots formed in box top cover 1110 as a result of indentations 1190 and by slots 145 formed in lower insert 140.

FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram of an exploded view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a bottom tray and a upper insert hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Packaging assembly 1200 includes box top cover 110, upper insert 120, clamshell packs 130, and box bottom tray 1250. Clamshell packs 130 are vertically held in place by slots 125 formed in upper insert 120 and slots formed in box bottom tray 1250 by indentations 1290.

FIG. 13 a schematic diagram of a profile view of a packaging assembly for containing clamshell packs in a box where a bottom tray and an upper insert hold the clamshell packs in place in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Closed packaging assembly 1300, includes box top cover 110, upper insert 120, clamshell packs 130, and box bottom tray 1250. Upper insert 120 rests on clamshell packs 130. Clamshell packs 130 are vertically held in place by slots 125 formed in upper insert 120 and slots 1395 formed by indentations 1290 in box bottom tray 1250.

The back of one clamshell pack 130 faces the front of the next clamshell pack 130 in succession. In one embodiment, the clamshell packs do not contact each other. In another embodiment, the clamshell packs do contact each other. The height of clamshell packs 130 is less than the height of sidewalls 1255 of box bottom tray 1250. Box top cover 110 rests on sidewalls 1255 of box bottom tray 1250 and does not contact clamshell packs 130. Consequently, sidewalls 1255 of box bottom tray 1250 support box top cover 110. In addition, sidewalls 1255 of box bottom tray 1250 would support any additional closed packaging assemblies 1300 stacked on top of box top cover 110. Clamshell packs 130 do not contribute to this structural support.

The foregoing disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. The scope of the invention is to be defined only by the claims appended hereto, and by their equivalents.

Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of the present invention.





 
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