Title:
Split-ring handle and container assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plastic container and handle assembly includes a container having a neck, and an attachment formed separately from the container and assembled thereto, the attachment including a handle and an integrally formed attachment ring embracing the neck and mounting the handle to the container. The ring is split and has ends adapted to separate to fit the handle over the neck and adapted to be secured together to embrace the neck of the container. In various embodiments, the handle and/or ring have an integral folded hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted open and closed. In other embodiments, a projection and recess are provided on the attachment and container to provide alignment and prevent relative rotation thereof.



Inventors:
Piccioli, David P. (Auburn, NH, US)
Agrawal, Amit S. (Merrimack, NH, US)
Patel, Tapan Y. (Nashua, NH, US)
Guerin, Stephen R. (Milford, NH, US)
Application Number:
11/389822
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/27/2006
Assignee:
Graham Packaging PET Technologies Inc. (York, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D23/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:
1. A plastic container and handle assembly comprising: a container having a neck and a shoulder adjacent the neck with an engaging recess, and an attachment assembled to said container and being formed separately thereform, said attachment comprising a handle and a split ring integral with said handle sized to substantially circumscribe said container neck, and an anti-rotation projection on said attachment engaged in said recess.

2. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said projection is engaged in said recess by interference fit.

3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions having mating ring ends.

4. The assembly of claim 3, wherein said handle and said ring ends are diametrically opposed on opposite sides of the container neck.

5. The assembly of claim 4, wherein two sets of engaging recesses and projections are provided, one adjacent said handle and the other adjacent said ring ends.

6. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said ring is split at a location spaced from said handle.

7. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said split ring has two ring portions and said handle has two handle portions, each handle portion being integral with a different one of said ring portions.

8. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said split ring has mating ring ends having a latching mechanism with a plurality of interengagement positions such that said split ring is adjustable to a plurality of different neck sizes.

9. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said ring includes an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted open and closed.

10. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said handle includes an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be opened and closed.

11. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions with mating ring ends and said hinge is spaced from said ring ends.

12. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said ring and said handle each have two portions, each handle portion being integral with a different ring portion, and wherein said handle and/or ring portions include interengagement features for connecting said respective handle and/or ring portions.

13. The assembly of claim 12, wherein said interengagement features are snap fit.

14. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said split ring includes a finish portion for attachment of a closure or fitment.

15. The assembly of claim 14, wherein said finish portion includes at least a portion of an external thread, bead or flange.

16. The assembly of claim 15, wherein said finish portion includes at least one external thread portion.

17. A plastic attachment for a plastic container having a neck and a shoulder adjacent the neck with an engaging recess, the attachment comprising: a handle, and a split ring integral with said handle, said split ring being sized to substantially circumscribe the container neck, and an anti-rotation projection on said attachment adapted for engaging a container recess.

18. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said split ring is substantially cylindrical.

19. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said split ring includes a finish portion for attachment of a closure or fitment.

20. The attachment of claim 19, wherein said finish portion includes at least a portion of an external thread, bead or flange.

21. The attachment of claim 20, wherein said finish portion includes at least one external thread portion.

22. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said attachment includes an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted open and closed.

23. The attachment of claim 22, wherein said integral hinge is part of said handle.

24. The attachment of claim 22 wherein said integral hinge is part of said split ring.

25. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions with mating ring ends.

26. The attachment of claim 25, wherein said handle is split into two handle portions, each connected to a different ring portion.

27. The assembly of claim 26, wherein said handle portions include interengagement features for connecting said handle portions.

28. The attachment of claim 27, wherein said interengagement features are snap fit.

29. The attachment of claim 25, wherein said ring portions include interengagement features for connecting said ring portions.

30. The attachment of claim 29, wherein said interengagement features are snap fit.

31. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said attachment is of two-piece construction, each piece including a ring portion and a handle portion and interengagement features for connecting the pieces.

32. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said attachment is of one-piece construction.

33. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said attachment includes a plurality of projections for engaging one or more container recesses.

34. The attachment of claim 33, including two projections diametrically opposed on opposite sides of the ring.

35. The attachment of claim 17, wherein said split ring has mating ring ends having a latching mechanism with a plurality of interengagement positions such that said split ring is adjustable to a plurality of different neck sizes.

36. A plastic container and handle assembly, including: a container having a neck, and an attachment assembled to said container and being formed separately therefrom, said attachment comprising a handle and a split ring integral with said handle sized to substantially circumscribe said container neck, said attachment including an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted open and closed.

37. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said hinge is part of said split ring.

38. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said hinge is part of said handle.

39. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said handle includes two handle portions having interengagement features for connecting said handle portions.

40. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions having interengagement features for connecting said ring portions.

41. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said split ring has two ring portions and said handle has two handle portions, each handle portion being integral with a different one of said ring portions.

42. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said ring is split at a position spaced from said handle.

43. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions having mating ring ends.

44. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said neck of said container body and said split ring are substantially cyclindrical.

45. The assembly of claim 36, wherein said split ring includes a finish portion for attachment of a closure or fitment.

46. The assembly of claim 45, wherein said finish portion includes at least a portion of an external thread, bead or flange.

47. The assembly of claim 46, wherein said finish portion includes at least one external thread portion.

48. A plastic attachment for a plastic container having a neck, the attachment comprising: a handle, and a split ring integral with said handle, said split ring being sized to substantially circumscribe the container neck, said attachment including an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted open and closed.

49. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said hinge is part of said split ring.

50. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said hinge is part of said handle.

51. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said handle includes two handle portions having interengagement features for connecting said handle portions.

52. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions having interengagement features for connecting said ring portions.

53. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said split ring has two ring portions and said handle has two handle portions, each handle portion being integral with a different one of said ring portions.

54. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said ring is split at a position spaced from said handle.

55. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said split ring includes two ring portions having mating ring ends.

56. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said split ring is substantially cyclindrical.

57. The attachment of claim 48, wherein said split ring includes a finish portion for attachment of a closure or fitment.

58. The attachment of claim 57, wherein said finish portion includes at least a portion of an external thread, bead or flange.

59. The attachment of claim 58, wherein said finish portion includes at least one external thread portion.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to plastic containers having handles and methods of forming a container and handle assembly.

BACKGROUND

Containers for flowable products, such as liquids and granular products, have been formed of plastic by a variety of methods. For example, plastic containers have been blow molded from a preform into an integral container body, neck finish and handle. Other plastic containers have been formed comprising an integral container body and neck finish, and a separate handle attached to the container body and/or finish. Still other plastic containers have been formed by positioning an already formed handle and neck finish in a recess or pocket of a blow mold, and then blowing a container body (from a separate preform) whereby the handle and neck finish become attached to the container body.

In some instances, it may be desirable to form the container body in a blow mold without the handle being present so that the blow mold can be more simple in design, e.g., does not require recesses or pockets to form or hold the handle. It also may be desirable to use a different plastic material for the handle and/or neck finish (than for the container body) for reasons such as strength, color, aesthetics or cost. It may further be desirable to provide a handle attached at the neck rather than the body of the container, for ease of pouring and/or one-handed use of the container and handle assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a container and handle assembly is provided. The container includes a neck and, adjacent to the neck, a shoulder having an engaging recess. An attachment is formed separately from the container and assembled thereto. The attachment includes a handle and a split ring integral with the handle and sized to substantially circumscribe the container neck. A projection is provided on the attachment for engagement in the shoulder recess. The engagement of the projection in the recess may be by interference fit. Such engagement, at one or more shoulder locations around the container neck, provides alignment and prevents relative rotation of the attachment with respect to the ring.

In another embodiment, the attachment includes an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be pivoted opened and closed. The ring may include the integral folding hinge, for example, at a location diametrically opposite the location of the handle/ring connection. Alternatively, the handle may include an integral folding hinge enabling the ring to be opened and closed.

In various embodiments, the split ring includes two ring portions having mating ring ends. The handle may also include two handle portions, each handle portion being attached to a different ring portion. The ring may be split at a position spaced from the handle, such as diametrically opposed to the handle, so that the ring ends and handle are positionable on opposite sides of the container neck. Two sets of engaging recesses and projections may be provided, one adjacent to the handle and the other adjacent the ring ends.

In one embodiment the split ring has two ring portions and the handle has two handle portions, each handle portion being integral with a different one of the ring portions. One or both of the ring portions and handle portions have interengagement features for connecting the respective handle or ring portions.

In another embodiment, the split ring has mating ring ends with a latching mechanism providing a plurality of interengagement positions such that the split ring is adjustable to fit a plurality of different neck sizes.

The split ring preferably includes a finish portion for attachment of a closure or fitment. The finish portion may include at least a portion of an external thread, bead or flange.

In other embodiments, an attachment is provided having one or more of the features previously described, to be assembled to a container. These and other features of the present invention are further described in the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various embodiments of the invention will be understood from the following description, the appended claims and the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a container and handle assembly including a container, and a handle and finish attachment, according to a one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged and exploded fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, illustrating the handle and finish attachment in an open condition and removed from the container;

FIG. 3 is a side view of an exterior of the handle and finish attachment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a side view of an interior of the handle and finish attachment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of a container and handle assembly including a container, and a handle attachment, according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is an exploded fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 5, illustrating the handle attachment in an open condition and removed from the container;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an interior of the handle attachment of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary perspective view of a container and handle assembly including a container, and a two-piece handle attachment, according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 is an exploded fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 8, illustrating the two-piece handle attachment removed from the container body;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a right portion of the two-piece handle attachment of FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a left portion of the two-piece handle attachment of FIG. 8;

FIG. 12 is a fragmentary perspective view of a container assembly including a container and a handle attachment attached to a neck of the container, according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is an exploded fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 12, including the handle attachment shown removed from the container body; and

FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view of the handle attachment of FIG. 12.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring in more detail to the drawings, FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate an embodiment of a container and handle assembly 120 including a plastic container 122 that is formed separately from a plastic handle and finish attachment 124, the latter being attachable to the container 122 after the container 122 is formed (e.g. post blow mold). The container 122 may be of substantially any shape and material, such as a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottle or the like, to define an interior volume in which a product is to be received. The container 122 is preferably blow molded, but may also be injection molded or the like. The handle and finish attachment 124 is formed separately from the container 122, such as by an injection molding operation or the like. The handle and finish attachment 124 may be formed of a different plastic material and/or color than the container 122, thereby increasing the choice of materials available and potentially reducing the material cost of the overall container and handle assembly. For example, the handle and finish attachment 124 may be formed of any suitable packaging material such as polypropylene or the like. Also, providing the handle and finish attachment 124 separately from and after the container 122 is formed simplifies the design of the container 122 and of the mold used to make it.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the handle and finish attachment 124 is shown externally and internally, respectively, in an open condition. The handle and finish attachment 124 includes a left side 126 and a right side 128 that are connected together by an integral or living hinge 131 that extends longitudinally along handle sections or bodies 130, 132 of the left and right sides 126, 128. Accordingly, the handle and finish attachment 124 is basically a split, divided, bifurcated or otherwise multi-portion unitary component. At a lower longitudinal end of the handle bodies 130, 132, a stepped extension end 134 projects from the right (or left) side handle body 132, as will be described in further detail below. At an opposed upper longitudinal end of the handle bodies 130, 132, curved ring ends 136, 138 extend in opposed lateral directions respectively therefrom and terminate in the form of opposed collar or ring portions 140, 142. The opposed ring portions 140, 142 include inboard ends 144, 146, extending from the respective curved ring ends 136, 138 of the handle bodies 130, 132, and outboard ends 148, 150 that are circumferentially distal with respect to the inboard ends 144, 146. When the ring is closed about the container neck, the inboard ends 144, 146 and outboard ends 148, 150 come together on opposite sides of the neck. On external surfaces of the ring portions 140, 142, securing or finish means such as threads 152, 154 or the like (e.g., beads or flanges) are provided for securing a closure or fitment (not shown) thereto. Because of such attachment features, the ring 126 may also be termed a finish ring. In either case, longitudinally opposite of the threads 152, 154, each ring portion 140, 142 also includes a respective anti-rotation projection 156, 158, which fits within a recess on the container, as will be described in further detail below.

As best shown in FIG. 4, the opposed inboard ends 144, 146 of the ring portions 140, 142, and the opposed outboard ends 148, 150 of the ring portions 140, 142, are adapted for mating together (respectively) when the handle and finish attachment 124 is pivoted closed about its hinge 131. Furthermore, the ring portions 140, 142 are adapted to be snap-fit together by interengagement features such as projections 160 (dimples or the like) provided on an interior surface 162 of the right side ring portion 142 and respective recesses 164 (pockets or the like) provided on an interior surface 166 of the left side ring portion 140. When the handle and finish attachment 124 is folded closed, the interior surfaces 162, 166 engage and the projections 160 interengage with the recesses 164 to secure together the ring portions 140, 142 and the left and right sides 126, 128 of the handle and finish attachment 124. Accordingly, the ring portions 140, 142 come together to define a single ring and the handle bodies 130, 132 come together to form a single handle. As a corollary, the single ring and single handle are each adapted to separate or split open to define the ring portions 140, 142 and the handle bodies 130, 132 respectively.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the handle and finish attachment 124 is positioned for subsequent attachment to the container 122 in an open condition as shown. The container 122 includes a body 168 of any suitable shape and a substantially cylindrical neck 170 defining an open upper end and mouth through which a product may be added to or discharged from the container 122. The body 168 includes a shoulder 172 adjacent the neck 170, the shoulder extending generally radially outwardly (at any desired angle) from the neck. A recess 174 (pocket, depression, or the like) is formed, in the shoulder 172, for receiving the anti-rotation projections 156, 158 on the handle and finish attachment 124. In this embodiment, when the ring is closed the attachment projections 156, 158 collectively define a singular attachment projection for orienting the attachment 124 with respect to the container 122. Thus, the projections 156, 158 are adapted to align with, and register in, the recess 174 when the ring portions 140, 142 of the handle and finish attachment 124 are circumscribed around the neck 170 of the container 122 and the handle and finish attachment 124 is swung closed about its hinge 131 and clamped onto the container 122. This engagement of projections 156, 168 in recess 174 prevents rotation of the handle and finish attachment 124 with respect to the container 122. Similarly, the stepped extension end 134 that terminates the right handle body 132 fits into a corresponding recess 176 formed in the container body 168 to further secure and/or prevent rotation of the attachment and container. Still further, an annular internal groove 151 on ring portions 140 and 142 is engaged by an external radial lip or flange 178 on the mouth of the container neck to further secure the handle attachment 124 to the container 122. The attachment ring is thus effectively restrained from vertical movement (with respect to the vertical centerline axis of the container) by the positioning of flange 178 in groove 151 and by the lower surface 118 of the ring engaging the upper surface 119 of the container shoulder 172.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate another embodiment of a container assembly 220 including a container 222 and a handle attachment 224. This embodiment is similar in many respects to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 4, and like numerals between the embodiments may designate like or corresponding elements throughout the several views of the drawing figures. Accordingly, the common subject matter will generally not be repeated.

FIG. 7 illustrates an interior side of the handle attachment 224 in its open condition. The handle attachment 224 includes opposed left and right sides 226, 228 that are connected together by an integral hinge 231 that connects the outboard ends 248, 250 of opposed ring portions 240, 242. The ring portions 240, 242 include inboard ends 244, 246 (diametrically opposite from the outboard ends 248, 250) that integrally connect to ring ends 236, 238 of opposed left and right handle bodies 230, 232. The handle bodies 230, 232 extend from the ring ends 236, 238 and terminate in free ends 234, 235. The handle bodies 230, 232 are adapted to snap-fit (interlock) with one another by means of projections 260 provided on an interior surface 262 of the right side handle body 232 and respective recesses 264 provided on an interior surface 266 of the left side handle body 230. When the handle attachment 224 is pivoted closed (about hinge 231), the interior surfaces 262, 266 engage and the projections 260 interengage with the recesses 264 to snap-fit and secure the handle bodies 230, 232 and left and right sides 226, 228 of the handle attachment 224 together. In this embodiment, the lower end of the handle is free of (not engaged with) the container body.

Referring again to FIG. 6, the handle attachment 224 is assembled to the container 222 in an open condition as shown. The container 222 includes a conical upper body portion 268, and a substantially cylindrical neck finish 270 defining an open upper end and mouth of the container 222, to which a closure or fitment (not shown) may be attached by securing means such as threads 271 or the like. The container 222 also includes an outwardly extending shoulder 272 adjacent the lower end of the neck 270. The closed ring sits between a flange 273 and the shoulder 272 of the container, preventing vertical movement of the handle attachment 224 with respect to the container 222. Also, anti-rotation features are provided on opposite sides of the ring and container to prevent relative rotation. In this regard, recesses 274, 275 are formed in the shoulder 272 on circumferentially opposite sides of the container 222 for receiving respectively a first set of anti-rotation projections 256, 258 on ring ends 236, 238 of the handle bodies 230, 232, and a second set of anti-rotation projections 257, 259 on the opposite ends of the ring portions 240, 242 (see FIGS. 5-6) Thus, the open handle attachment 224 is oriented with respect to the container 222 such that the projections 256, 258 align with the recess 274 and the projections 257, 259 align with the recess 275 when the ring portions 240, 242 are circumscribed around the neck 270 of the container 222 (below the threads 271 and capping flange 273).

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a third embodiment of a container assembly 320 including a container 322 and a two-piece handle attachment 324. This embodiment is similar in many respects to the embodiments of FIGS. 1 through 7 and like numerals between the embodiments designate like or corresponding elements throughout the several views of the drawing figures. Accordingly, the common subject matter will generally not be repeated here.

FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate an interior view of the handle attachment 324 in a separated or open condition. The handle attachment 324 includes opposed left and right sides 326, 328 that are adapted for interconnection or interengagement to one another. The sides 326, 328 include opposed left and right ring portions 340, 342 that have outboard ends 348, 350, which generally include interengagement features. More specifically, the outboard end 348 of the left ring portion 340 includes a tapered projection 349 and the outboard end 350 of the right ring portion 342 includes a recess 351 adapted for interengaging the projection 349 of the left ring portion 340. The ring portions 340, 342 include laterally opposed inboard ends 344, 346 that are positioned circumferentially opposite from the outboard ends 348, 350, and that integrally connect to ring ends 336, 338 of opposed left and right handle bodies 330, 332. The opposed handle bodies 330, 332 extend from the ring ends 336, 338 and terminate in free ends 334, 335. The handle bodies 330, 332 are adapted to snap-fit or interlock with one another for stability. To facilitate this snap-fit connection, projections 360 are provided on an interior surface 362 of the right side handle body 332 and respective recesses 364 are provided on an interior surface 366 of the left side handle body 330. When the handle attachment 324 is assembled or closed, the interior surfaces 362, 366 engage and the projections 360 interengage with the recesses 364 under an interference condition to snap-fit the left and right sides 326, 328 of the handle attachment 324 together. Moreover, the handle bodies 330, 332 are provided with anti-rotation projections 356, 358 for the container recess 374 as will be described herein below.

Referring again to FIG. 9, the handle attachment 324 is initially introduced to the container 322 in an open or separated condition as shown. The container 322 includes a cylindrical and conical body 368, and a substantially cylindrical neck finish 370 defining an open upper end and mouth of the container 322 and to which a closure or fitment (not shown) may be attached using a securing means such as threads 371 or the like. The container 322 also includes a shoulder 372 adjacent the neck finish 370. At least one recess 374 is formed in the shoulder 372 for receiving the anti-rotation projections 356, 358 of the handle bodies 330, 332 of the handle attachment 324. The open or separated handle attachment 324 is oriented with respect to the container 322 such that the projections 356, 358 are adapted to align with the recess 374 when the ring portions 340, 342 of the handle attachment 324 are circumscribed around the neck finish 370 of the container 322. The left and right sides 326, 328 of the handle attachment 324 are brought together and interengaged wherein the projections 360 of the right handle 332 interengage the recesses 364 of the left handle 330 and further wherein the projection 349 of the left ring portion 340 interengages the recess 351 of the right ring portion 342. As a result, the left and right sides 326 and 328 come together to form the unitary handle attachment 324 of FIG. 8. The attachment ring is disposed between flange 373 and shoulder 372, similar to the second embodiment of FIGS. 5-7.

FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate a fourth embodiment of a container assembly 420 including a container 422 and a handle attachment 424. This embodiment is similar in many respects to the embodiments of FIGS. 1 through 11 and like numerals between the embodiments designate like or corresponding elements throughout the several views of the drawing figures. Accordingly, the common subject matter will generally not be repeated.

Referring to FIG. 13, the handle attachment 424 is introduced to the container 422 in an open condition as shown. The handle attachment 424 includes opposed left and right ring portions 440, 442 that are adapted for interconnection or interengagement to one another. The opposed left and right ring portions 440, 442 have inboard ends 444, 446 integrally connected by an upper end 436 of the handle 430, and diametrically opposite outboard ends 448, 450, which generally include adjustable latches or interengagement features. More specifically, the outboard end 448 of the left ring portion 440 includes a female ratchet latch 449 and the outboard end 450 of the right ring portion 442 includes a male ratchet latch 451 adapted for fitting into the female ratchet latch 449, as best shown in FIG. 14. The handle body 430 extends from the upper ring end 436 and terminates in a free end 434.

The container 422 includes a generally cylindrical body 468 having an upper conical portion, and a substantially cylindrical neck finish 470 defining an open upper end and mouth of the container 422 and to which a closure or fitment (not shown) may be attached using a securing means such as threads 471 or the like. The container 422 also includes a shoulder 472 adjacent the neck 470. At least one recess 474 is formed in the shoulder 472 for receiving an anti-rotation projection 456 extending from a lower surface of the ring end 486 of the handle body 430. The open handle attachment 424 is oriented with respect to the container 422 such that the projection 456 aligns and fits within the recess 474 when the ring portions 440, 442 of the handle attachment 424 are circumscribed around the neck finish 470 of the container 422. Again, the ring is disposed between a flange 473 on the container neck 470 (below the threads 471) and the shoulder 472.

As shown in FIG. 14, the left and right ring portions 440, 442 of the handle attachment 424 are brought together and interengaged wherein serrations of the male ratchet latch 451 of the outboard end 450 of the right ring portion 442 interengage serrations of the female ratchet 449 of the outboard end 448 of the left ring portion 440. As a result, the left and right ring portions 440, 442 come together to form the unitary handle attachment 424 shown in FIGS. 12 and 14. In this embodiment, the flexibility of the ring portions 440, 442 permits opening and closing of the handle ring, without requiring a specific hinge point as in the prior embodiments. Also, the ratchet ends have a plurability of interengagement positions such that the split ring portion is adjustable to fit around and engage different diameter neck finishes, thus providing a handle attachment useful for containers with different neck sizes (e.g., 38 mm and 43 mm).

There have been described various embodiments of a container and handle assembly, and an attachment for a container assembly, that provide a number of benefits. Forming a combined handle and ring attachment separately from the container enables the container to be of a simpler design, and enables use of a standard blow molder (without a pocket or recess for the handle). Further, providing a handle disposed at the container neck, rather than the container body, can facilitate ease of pouring and handling of the container assembly, e.g., one-handed pouring. Also, the handle attachments may be clamped onto their respective containers, thereby enabling use of conventional packaging assembly equipment. The material used for the container body can be different from that used for the handle attachment. In the embodiments wherein the handle and finish are separate components, they may each be made from different materials. Desirably, the least expensive materials can be chosen for each part to provide a more economical manufacture while still achieving the desired function. For example, without limitation, if the container assembly is used to store a food or beverage product, the container can be made of a food-grade plastic, while the handle, which is not in contact with the product in the container, can be formed of substantially any material, including process regrind and post-consumer recycled materials. The handle and/or container finish may also be formed of a different color and by different methods than the container body as desired for a wide range of applications.

The present invention has been disclosed in conjunction with various embodiments thereof, and a number of modifications and variations have been discussed. Other modifications and variations will readily suggest themselves to persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the foregoing description. For example, the invention has been disclosed in conjunction with blow molded plastic containers. However, additional types of containers can be adapted for use with the attachment of the invention, without departing from the disclosure. The interengaging features of the handle and ring attachment may further be secured by ultrasonic welding. To save weight and cost, the handle may be produced with a hollow interior. Directional words such as top, bottom, upper, lower, radial, circumferential, lateral, longitudinal, and the like are employed by way of description and not limitation. Indeed, the invention is intended to embrace all modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.