Title:
Interlocking dividers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A divider is provided for use with a container. The divider includes a body and a projection having angled edges converging toward one another as the angled edges extend away from the body. At least one of the angled edges intersects a side edge of the body.



Inventors:
Boehm, Richard H. (Collierville, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/590296
Publication Date:
05/03/2007
Filing Date:
10/31/2006
Assignee:
CLEO, INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/120.38
International Classes:
B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ELKINS, GARY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCCARTER & ENGLISH, LLP NEWARK (NEWARK, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A divider adapted for use with a container, comprising a body having a side edge; and a first projection having first and second angled edges converging toward one another as said first and second angled edges extend away from said body, said first angled edge intersecting said side edge so as to facilitate the insertion of the divider in an associated container.

2. The divider of claim 1, wherein said body includes another side edge intersecting said second angled edge.

3. The divider of claim 2, wherein said first projection includes a substantially horizontal edge, said first angled edge extending between said side edge and said substantially horizontal edge, and said second angled edge extending between said another side edge and said substantially horizontal edge.

4. The divider of claim 3, wherein any one of said first and second angled edges has a length longer than that of said substantially horizontal edge.

5. The divider of claim 4, further comprising at least one slot formed in said body, said at least one slot including a closed end and a flared open end, said at least one slot extending between said closed end and said flared open end, and said at least one slot being sized and shaped so as to accommodate another divider.

6. The divider of claim 5, wherein said flared open end of said at least one slot includes third and fourth angled edges diverging away from one another as said third and fourth angled edges extend away from said closed end.

7. The divider of claim 6, wherein said at least one slot includes a first slot and a second slot.

8. The divider of claim 1, further comprising a second projection and a third projection, said body including another side edge, said first, second, and third projections being arranged in seriatim between said side edge and said another side edge.

9. The divider of claim 8, wherein said second projection includes third and fourth angled edges converging toward one another as said third and fourth angled edges extend away from said body, and said third projection including fifth and sixth angled edges converging toward one another as said fifth and sixth angled edges extend away from said body.

10. The divider of claim 9, wherein said sixth angled edge intersects said another side edge.

11. The divider of claim 10, wherein said first projection includes a first substantially horizontal edge, said first and second angled edges merging with said first substantially horizontal edge, said second projection including a second substantially horizontal edge, said third and fourth angled edges merging with said second substantially horizontal edge, and said third projection including a third substantially horizontal edge, said fifth and sixth angled edges merging with said third substantially horizontal edge.

12. The divider of claim 11, wherein any one of said first and second angled edges has a length longer than that of said first substantially horizontal edge, any one of said third and fourth angled edges has a length longer than that of said second substantially horizontal edge, and any one of said fifth and sixth angled edges has a length longer than that of said third substantially horizontal edge.

13. The divider of claim 12, further comprising a first slot formed between said first and second projections, said first slot having a first flared open end formed by said second angled edge of said first projection and said third angled edge of said second projection, and a second slot formed between said second and third projections, said second slot having a second flared open end formed by said fourth angled edge of said second projection and said fifth angled edge of said third projection.

14. An interlocking divider system for use with a container, comprising a first divider including a body having first and second side edges, a slot formed in said body, and a projection having first and second angled edges converging toward one another as said first and second angled edges extend away from said body, said first angled edge intersecting said first side edge, and said second angled edge intersecting said second side edge; and a second divider adapted to be received in said slot of said first divider.

15. The interlocking divider system of claim 14, wherein said second divider includes a slot substantially aligned with said slot of said first divider when said second divider is received in said first divider.

16. The interlocking divider system of claim 15, wherein said second divider includes a body having first and second side edges, a first projection having first and second angled edges converging toward one another as said first and second angled edges extend away from said body, a second projection having third and fourth angled edges converging toward one another as said third and fourth angled edges extend away from said body, and a third projection having fifth and sixth angled edges converging toward one another as said fifth and sixth angled edges extend away from said body.

17. The interlocking divider system of claim 16, wherein said first angled edge of said second divider intersects said first side edge of said second divider, and wherein said sixth angled edge of said second divider intersects said second side edge of said second divider.

18. An interlocking divider system for use with a container, comprising a first divider including a first body and a first projection having first and second angled edges converging toward one another as said first and second angled edges extend away from said body; and a second divider having a second body, a second projection having third and fourth angled edges converging toward one another as said third and fourth angled edges extend away from said second body, and a third projection having fifth and sixth angled edges converging toward one another as said fifth and sixth angled edges extend away from said second body, said second divider sized and shaped so as to be interlocked with said first divider.

19. The interlocking divider system of claim 18, wherein said first divider includes a side edge intersecting said first angled edge.

20. The interlocking divider system of claim 19, wherein said first divider includes a slot and said second divider includes a slot substantially aligned with said slot of said first divider when said second divider is interlocked with said first divider.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/731,698 filed Oct. 31, 2005, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to interlocking dividers and, more particularly, to interlocking dividers for use with a shipping container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of dividers to form partitions in shipping containers is known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 1,174,844 to Fukumura discloses folding partitions utilized to separate an array of articles arranged within a crate. The partitions have truncated projections along their bottom edge. As another example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,750,929 to Flanagan discloses a partition assembly for use in packing an array of articles arranged within a carton. The partition assembly includes a plurality of partition elements that have truncated projections along their bottom edge. U.S. Pat. No. 1,785,416 to La Bombard et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 3,966,111 to Grimes each disclose interlocking partitions for use with shipping containers or the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the disadvantages and shortcomings of the prior art discussed above by providing new and improved interlocking dividers for use in connection with a shipping container adapted to transport and/or store a number of articles arranged in rows and columns. More particularly, two sets of dividers are provided, each set having complementary slots for allowing the dividers to be interconnected. One set of dividers has a bottom portion in the form of a single, wide, truncated triangular-shaped projection. The projection has a short horizontal edge and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges which merge with the short horizontal edge so as to allow for easy insertion of the first set of dividers into the container. The second set of dividers has a bottom portion in the form of a plurality of narrow, truncated triangular-shaped projections. Each of the projections has a short horizontal edge and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges which merge with their corresponding short horizontal edge so as to facilitate the interlocking of the second set of dividers with the first set of dividers, as well as to allow for the easy insertion of the second set of dividers into the container. A new and improved method for separating articles stored in the container is also provided.

In one embodiment, the present invention includes a divider adapted for use with a container. The divider includes a body and a projection having first and second angled edges converging toward one another as the angled edges extend away from the body. The first angled edge intersects a side edge of the body so as to facilitate the insertion of the divider in an associated container. In preferred embodiments of the invention, the dividers separate articles in the carton and can be inserted into the carton when same is full.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the following detailed description of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a top, perspective view of two sets of interlocked dividers which have been constructed and assembled in accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front, elevational view of one of the dividers shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front, elevational view of another one of the dividers shown in FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 4-7 are sequential views which illustrate how the dividers of FIGS. 1-3 are inserted into a shipping container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is described in connection with a shipping container adapted to transport and/or store a plurality of elongated, tubular articles (e.g., individual rolls of gift wrap) arranged in rows and columns. It should be understood, however, that the present invention can be used with other types of containers. Also, the present invention can be used in connection with containers, in which the articles are not necessarily arranged in rows and columns. As used herein, the term “row” shall mean a horizontal spatial arrangement, which is oriented along the x-axis. Conversely, the term “column” shall mean a vertical spatial arrangement, which is oriented along the y-axis.

FIG. 1 illustrates an assembly of interlocked dividers 10 including a first set of column dividers 12a, 12b and a second set of row dividers 14a, 14b. The column divider 12a is identical to the column divider 12b, while the row divider 14a is identical to the row divider 14b.

Referring to FIG. 2, the column divider 12a includes a top portion 16, a pair of side edges 18, 20 and a bottom portion 22. The top portion 16 has a generally horizontal top edge 24. One end 26 of the top edge 24 intersects with the side edge 18, while the opposite end 28 of the top edge 24 intersects with the side edge 20.

The top portion 16 also includes a plurality of slots 30, 32 for receiving the row dividers 14a, 14b, respectively, (see FIGS. 1, 6, and 7) as will be described in further detail hereinafter. The slot 30 has a flared open end 34 formed by a pair of upwardly diverging edges 36, 38 which facilitate the interconnection of the column divider 12a with the row divider 14a (see FIGS. 1, 3, and 5-7). The slot 30 also has a closed end 40 spaced a predetermined distance D1 from a plane P defined by a flat bottom surface of a shipping container (not shown in FIG. 2) or the like. The slot 30 extends vertically from its flared open end 34 to its closed end 40. Likewise, the slot 32 has a flared open end 42 formed by a pair of upwardly diverging edges 44, 46 which facilitate the interconnection of the column divider 12a with the other row divider 14b (see FIGS. 1, 6, and 7). The slot 32 also has a closed end 48 spaced the same predetermined distance D1 from the plane P. The slot 32 extends vertically from its flared open end 42 to its closed end 48.

With continued reference to FIG. 2, the bottom portion 22 of the column divider 12a is in the form of a single, downwardly extending projection 50 which resembles an inverted and truncated triangle. More particularly, the projection 50 is formed by a short horizontal edge 52 and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges 54, 56. The angled edge 54 extends between the side edge 18 and the short horizontal edge 52, while the other angled edge 56 extends between the side edge 20 and the short horizontal edge 52. The angled edges 54, 56 of the projection 50 are significantly longer than the horizontal edge 52.

Referring to FIG. 3, the row divider 14a includes a top portion 58, a pair of side edges 60, 62 and a bottom portion 64. The top portion 58 includes a horizontal edge 66 having one end 68, which intersects with the side edge 60, and an opposite end 70, which intersects with the side edge 62. The bottom portion 64 is in the form of a plurality of downwardly extending projections 72, 74, 76, each of which resembles an inverted and truncated triangle. The projections 72, 74, 76 are arranged seriatim between the side edge 60 and the side edge 62.

The projection 72 is formed by a short horizontal edge 78 and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges 80, 82 which merge with the short horizontal edge 78. The angled edges 80, 82 of the projection 72 are significantly longer than the horizontal edge 78. Similarly, the projection 74 is formed by a short horizontal edge 84 and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges 86, 88 which merge with the short horizontal edge 84. The angled edges 86, 88 of the projection 74 are significantly longer than the horizontal edge 84. Finally, the projection 76 is formed by a short horizontal edge 90 and a pair of downwardly converging, angled edges 92, 94 which merge with the short horizontal edge 90. The angled edges 92, 94 of the projection 76 are significantly longer than the horizontal edge 90.

With continued reference to FIG. 3, an elongated slot 96 is provided between the projection 72 and the projection 74. Similarly, an elongated slot 98 is provided between the projection 74 and the projection 76. The slot 96 has a flared open end 100 formed by the angled edge 82 of the projection 72 and the angled edge 86 of the projection 74. The slot 96 also has a closed end 102 spaced a predetermined distance D2 from the plane P. The slot 96 extends vertically from its flared open end 100 to its closed end 102. Likewise, the slot 98 has a flared open end 104 formed by the angled edge 88 of the projection 74 and the angled edge 92 of the projection 76. The slot 98 also has a closed end 106 spaced the same predetermined distance D2 from the plane P. The slot 98 extends vertically from its flared open end 104 to its closed end 106.

In operation, the column dividers 12a, 12b are positioned in a conventional shipping container 108, which contains a plurality of elongated tubes T arranged in columns and rows. As previously indicated, the column divider 12b (also shown in phantom in FIG. 4) is identical to the column divider 12a, and includes a bottom portion 110, a top portion 112, and a pair of slots 114, 116 with flared open ends 118, 120 and closed ends 122, 124. The first assembly step involves inserting the column divider 12a between the third and fourth columns shown in FIG. 4. The shape of the projection 50 facilitates the insertion of the column divider 12a into the container 108. The other column divider 12b is then inserted between the sixth and seventh columns. The column divider 12a and the column divider 12b are then pushed down approximately halfway into the container 108.

When so positioned, the bottom portions 22, 110 of the column dividers 12a, 12b are situated in the container 108, while the top portions 16, 112 protrude outwardly from the container 108, thereby exposing the flared open ends 34, 42 of the slots 30, 32 of the column divider 12a and the flared open ends 118, 120 of the slots 114, 116 of the column divider 12b. Also, in this position, the slot 30 of the column divider 12a is horizontally and vertically aligned with the slot 114 of the other column divider 12b, and the slot 32 of the column divider 12a is horizontally and vertically aligned with the slot 116 of the other column divider 12b.

The next assembly steps, which are illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, involve interconnecting the column dividers 12a, 12b with the row dividers 14a, 14b. Referring to FIG. 5, the row divider 14a is aligned with both of the column dividers 12a, 12b such that the row divider 14a is substantially perpendicular to both of the column dividers 12a, 12b. When so positioned, the slot 96 of the row divider 14a is aligned with the slot 30 of the column divider 12a and the slot 98 of the row divider 14a is aligned with the slot 114 of the other column divider 12b.

The row divider 14a is then pushed into the column dividers 12a, 12b and the container 108 until the closed end 102 of the slot 96 of the row divider 14a abuts the closed end 40 (see FIG. 2) of the slot 30 of the column divider 12a, and the closed end 106 of the slot 98 of the row divider 14a abuts the closed end 122 (see FIG. 4) of the slot 114 of the other column divider 12b, thereby interlocking the row divider 14a with both of the column dividers 12a, 12b, as shown in FIG. 6. The shape of each of the projections 72, 74, 76 of the row divider 14a facilitates the interlocking of the row divider 14a with the column dividers 12a, 12b, as well as to allow for the easy insertion of the row divider 14a into the container 108. When so positioned, the horizontal edge 52 of the column divider 12a is aligned with the horizontal edges 78, 84, 90 of the row divider 14a, whereby all of them lie in the plane P (see FIGS. 2 and 3).

The other row divider 14b is received by the slot 32 (see FIG. 4) of the column divider 12a and the slot 116 (see FIG. 4) of the column divider 12b. The other row divider 14b is connected to both of the column dividers 12a, 12b in the same manner as the row divider 14a so as to interlock the other row divider 14b with both of the column dividers 12a, 12b, thereby creating nine compartments within the container 108. Each compartment contains a plurality of tubes T.

As shown in FIG. 7, the column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b are then pushed further into the container 108 until the column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b are fully inserted therein (i.e., when the column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b contact the bottom surface of the container 108). The top of the container 108 is then closed by folding the flaps F of the container 108.

When fully inserted, the column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b function to separate the tubes T stored within the container 108 and to prevent breakage of the tubes T when the container 108 is shipped or otherwise handled. The column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b also maintain the tubes T in a substantially upright position when the container 108 is shipped or otherwise handled.

It should be noted that the present invention can have numerous modifications and variations. For instance, the column dividers 12a, 12b and the row dividers 14a, 14b can be used in connection with many different types of containers, cartons, crates, boxes, etc. The present invention can be used to separate other types of articles stored in the container 108. Although two column dividers 12a, 12b are shown, the number of column dividers 12a, 12b can vary. Likewise, although two row dividers 14a, 14b are shown, the number of row dividers 14a, 14b can vary. All such variations and modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.