Title:
Handle and finish attachment for a container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container and handle assembly includes a container having a neck, and an attachment formed separately from the container and assembled thereto. The attachment includes a handle and an integrally formed ring, the ring being split and having ring portions adapted to be separated to fit the ring over the neck and to be secured together to embrace the neck for mounting the handle assembly to the container. The handle includes a pair of overlapping handle portions, each secured to a respective ring portion. The overlapping handle portions may be snap fit together for securing the attachment to the container.



Inventors:
Axe, Timothy P. (Perrysburg, OH, US)
Buron, Carlos U. (Toledo, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/390324
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/27/2006
Assignee:
Graham Packaging Company, LP. (York, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D23/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A container and handle assembly comprising: a container having a neck, and an attachment assembled to the container and being formed separately therefrom, the attachment including a handle having an integrally formed attachment ring for embracing the neck and mounting the handle to the container, the attachment ring being split and having ring portions adapted to be separated to fit the ring over the neck and to be secured together to embrace the neck.

2. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the ring is split at a position overlying the handle.

3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the handle has two overlapping handle portions, each handle portion being attached to a different one of the ring portions.

4. The assembly of claim 3, wherein the overlapping handle portions have interengagement members for holding the ring in a closed position.

5. The assembly of claim 4, wherein the interengagement members are snap fit together.

6. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the ring portions are resiliently movable to open and close the ring.

7. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the ring portions have ends with mating alignment members.

8. The assembly of claim 7, wherein the alignment members comprise a sloped projection slidable in a complimentary sloped recess.

9. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the ring includes an attachment element for securing a closure or fitment.

10. The assembly of claim 9, wherein the attachment element is at least a portion of a thread, bead or flange.

11. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the container neck has upper and lower outwardly extending radial flanges, and the ring is positioned between and engages the flanges.

12. The assembly of claim 3, wherein a channel is provided on one ring portion for receiving, when the ring is closed, a part of the handle portion attached to the other ring portion.

13. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the container neck and the split ring have engaging outer and inner cylindrical surfaces, respectively.

14. The assembly of claim 1, wherein the container neck is made of one plastic material, and the attachment is made of a different plastic material.

15. The assembly of claim 14, wherein the plastic material of the container neck is polyethylene terephthalate and the plastic material of the attachment is polypropylene.

16. The assembly of claim 14, wherein the container comprises a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage container.

17. The assembly of claim 16, wherein the container comprises an integral blow-molded and substantially transparent PET beverage container.

18. A method of assembling a handle attachment to a neck of a container, comprising: providing a container having a neck; providing an attachment formed separately from the container, the attachment including a handle having an integrally formed attachment ring, the attachment ring being split and having ring portions adapted to be separated; opening the ring by separating the ring portions and positioning the open ring over an external surface of the container neck, closing the ring by bringing together the ring portions to form a closed ring that embraces the external surface of the neck.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising: the handle having overlapping handle portions with interengagement members; and connecting the interengagement members on the overlapping handle portions for securing the attachment to the container neck.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to plastic containers having handles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

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 to provide an integral container body, neck finish and handle. Other plastic containers have been formed with 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 integral handle and neck finish in a blow mold (for a container body), whereby during blowing of the container body (from a separate preform) the handle and the 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 (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 which includes a container having a neck, and an attachment, formed separately from the container, and assembled thereto. The attachment includes a handle having an integrally formed attachment ring for embracing the neck and mounting the handle to the container. The attachment ring is split and has ring portions adapted to be separated to fit the ring over the neck and to be secured together to embrace the neck.

In various embodiments, the ring is split at a position overlying the handle. The handle has two overlapping portions, each handle portion being attached to a different one of the ring portions. The ring portions preferably have ends with mating alignment members, such as a sloped projection slidable in a complementary sloped recess. The ring portions are resiliently movable to allow opening and closing of the ring. The overlapping handle portions have interengagement members, such as locking snaps, for holding the ring in a closed position.

Preferably, the split ring has an attachment element for securing a closure or fitment to the container, such as a portion of a thread bead or flange. Also preferably, the split ring is positioned between upper and lower radial neck flanges, which prevent axial movement of the neck ring (with respect to the vertical axis of the container) when the handle is grasped by a user.

In one embodiment, a channel is provided on one ring portion, for receiving a portion of the handle portion attached to the other ring portion when the ring is closed. This also facilitates alignment of the two ring portions.

The container neck and attachment may be made of any plastic material, and it may be made of different plastic materials. For example, the container neck, as well as the entire container, may be made of polyethylene terephthalate, while the finish ring is made of polypropylene. In one embodiment, an integral blow molded and substantially transparent PET beverage container is provided with the attached handle and finish attachment.

In another embodiment, a method is provided of assembling a handle attachment to a neck of a container. The method includes providing a container having a neck, providing an attachment formed separately from the container, the attachment including a handle having an integrally formed attachment ring, the attachment ring being split and having ring portions adapted to be separated. The method further includes opening the ring by separating the ring portions and positioning the open ring over an external surface of the container neck. The method further includes closing the ring by bringing together the ring portions to form a closed ring that embraces the external surface of the neck. Preferably, the handle has overlapping portions with interengagement members on the overlapping portions, and the method further includes connecting the interengagement members on the overlapping portions for securing the attachment to the container neck.

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 front perspective and fragmentary view of a container and handle assembly, showing a handle and finish attachment assembled to the neck of a separate container, according to one embodiment of the invention;

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

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the handle and finish attachment, in an open condition;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the interior of the handle and finish attachment in an open condition;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the interior of the handle and finish attachment in a closed condition;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the encircled area designated in FIG. 5, showing the finish ring and upper handle portion in an open condition;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the encircled area designated in FIG. 4, showing the finish ring and upper handle portion in a closed condition;

FIG. 8 is a top view of the handle and finish attachment in an open condition;

FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the handle and finish attachment in a closed condition; and

FIG.10 is a sectional view taken along lines 10-10 in FIG. 1, showing the finish ring assembled to the container neck.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring in more detail to the drawings, FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate an embodiment of a container and handle assembly 20, including a plastic container 22 that is formed separately from a plastic handle and finish attachment 24, the latter being attachable to the container 22 after the container is formed (e.g., post blow mold). The container 22 may be substantially of 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 22 is preferably blow molded, but may also be injection molded or the like. The handle and finish attachment 24 is formed separately from the container 22, such as by an injection molding operation or the like. The handle and finish attachment 24 may be formed of a different plastic material and/or color than the container 22, 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 24 may be formed of any suitable packaging material such as polypropylene or the like. Also, providing the handle and finish attachment 24 separately from and after the container 22 is formed, simplifies the design of the container 22 and of the mold used to make it.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-4, the handle and finish attachment 24 is shown in an open condition and separate from the container. The attachment 24 includes a split ring 26 integral with a handle 28. The split ring and handle are movable between an open position as shown in FIGS. 2-4, and a closed position as shown in FIG. 5. The ability to open and close the handle and finish attachment is due to the resiliency of the split ring 26, which allows relative movement between opposed first and second ring portions 40, 42 respectively. The opposed ring portions 40, 42 terminate in first and second ring ends 44 and 46 respectively, which preferably include a mating alignment feature 56, 58 to facilitate closure of the ring.

The handle 28 includes inner and outer overlapping handle portions 30, 32 each connected to a different one of ring ends 44 and 46 (respectively). These overlapping handle portions 30, 32 are provided at the upper end of the handle, adjacent to the respective ring ends 44, 46. The outer handle portion 32 includes a lower end 34 extending beyond the length of the inner handle portion 30, and forms a gripping portion by which a user grasps the handle 28. The inner surface of gripping portion 34 may include ergonomic features such as ribbed finger recesses 38.

The split ring 26 is substantially cylindrical and has an inner cylindrical surface 25 which, when the ring is in the closed condition (FIG. 5), has a diameter slightly greater than an outer cylindrical surface 73 of the container neck 70. FIG. 10 shows a cross section of the finish ring 26 assembled over the container neck 70, with the engaging inner and outer cylindrical surfaces 25 and 73, respectively. The ring 26 preferably sits between and engages a pair of spaced-apart upper and lower outwardly extending radial flanges 76, 71 on the container neck. The upper neck flange 76 defines an open mouth of the container, while the lower neck flange 71 defines a tamper indicating bead or the like. The finish ring has an upper surface 21 which engages a lower surface 75 of the upper neck flange 76, and a lower surface 23 that engages an upper surface 77 of the lower neck flange 71. Thus positioned, the ring will resist axial movement (with respect to the major vertical axis of the container) when a user grasps the handle.

The split ring 26 has an outer cylindrical surface 27 with an attachment element, such as a thread, bead, flange or some portion thereof for securing a closure or fitment (not shown) to the finish. The present embodiment has an external thread 50 for securing a closure (e.g., cap) to the container neck.

As shown in greater detail in FIGS. 6-9, the ends 44, 46 of ring portions 40, 42 are engaged when the handle and finish attachment 24 is closed (FIGS. 7 and 9). A pair of mating alignment members, here a sloped projection 56 which fits within a complimentary-shaped sloped recess 58, are provided on the first and second ring ends 44, 46. These alignment members assist in proper alignment and closure of the separate ring ends; proper alignment may be of particular importance when the split in ring 26 also splits the thread 50 into two thread portions 52 and 54 on ring portions 40 and 42 respectively.

The ring portions 40, 42 of split ring 26 are held together in a closed condition by interengagement features on the first and second handle portions 30, 32. The interengagement features may be for example locking snaps, such as the two pairs of studs 37a, b, shown here on the outer handle portion 32 which fit within correspondingly shaped holes 35a, b, in the inner handle portion 30. The overlapping handle portions 30, 32 are positionable one above the other in the closed position (see FIG. 5). A recess 33 is provided on the interior side of the outer handle portion 32 to accommodate the inner handle portion 30. In addition, a channel 41 is provided on an exterior surface of the ring near ring end 44, the channel 41 extending between the lower neck flange 39 and the top surface 31 of the lower handle portion 30 (see FIGS. 3 and 6). This channel receives at least a portion 43 of the upper handle 32, namely the portion 43 which extends circumferentially beyond the second ring end 46 to which the upper handle portion is connected, thus enabling portion 43 to be slidably positionable and engaged in the channel 41 when the handle portions 32, 30 overlap. The studs 37 on upper handle portion 32 can then be pushed into the holes 35 on lower handle portion 30 to secure the first and second handle portions together, and thereby hold together the first and second ring ends 44, 46.

Referring again to FIGS. 1-2, the container 22 includes a blow-molded body 68 of any suitable shape, and a substantially cylindrical neck 70 defining an open upper end and mouth portion of the container 22 through which a product may be added to or discharged from the container 22. A shoulder 72 is provided between the neck 70 and the body 68, and a cut-out or recess 74 is provided in at least a portion of the body 68 and shoulder 72 to provide a space for the user to grip the handle 28 when assembled to the container. With the handle and finish attachment 24 in an open condition and oriented with respect to the container 22 so that the handle is centered in the recess 74, the ring portions 40, 42 of the handle and finish attachment 24 are brought together around the container neck 70, between the upper and lower neck flanges 76, 71. The finish ring 26 is resiliently closed and held shut by the studs/holes on the handle portions. Additional features may be provided on the container and/or attachment to prevent rotation of the handle and finish attachment 24 with respect to the container 22, to provide alignment of the attachment 24 and container 22, and/or to further secure the attachment 24 to the container 22. For example, mating projections and recesses may be provided on the attachment and container, or portions of the attachment and container may be attached by adhesive or ultrasonic welding.

There has thus been described an embodiment of a container and handle assembly, and a handle and finish attachment for such assembly, that provides various benefits. Forming a combined handle and finish ring attachment separately from the container enables the container to be of a simpler design and permits the use of the standard blow molder. Providing a handle attachable to the container neck, rather than to the container body, facilitates ease of pouring and handling of the container assembly, e.g., one-handed pouring. Also, the handle attachment may be clamped onto the container with conventional packaging assembly equipment. The material used for the container body can be different from the material used for the handle and finish attachment. Desirably, a less expensive material can be chosen for each part to provide a more economical manufacture while still achieving the desired functions. The handle and/or container finish may also be formed of different colors and by different methods than the container body, as desired for a wide range of applications.

A number of modifications and variations will readily suggest themselves to persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the foregoing description. Directional words such as top, bottom, upper, lower, radial, circumferential, lateral, longitudinal and the like are employed by way of description and not limitation. The invention is intended to embrace all modifications and variations that fall within the scope of the appended claims.