Title:
Gusseted Carton
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carton is formed from a major blank that may be reinforced at selected locations to increase the strength of the carton. The carton includes gusseted corners that in part form an interior carton volume. The interior volume of the carton can be varied by placing the carton in an expanded configuration.



Inventors:
Brand, Kirsten Laura (Marietta, GA, US)
Cooper, Leonard M. (Powder Springs, GA, US)
Gomes, Jean-manuel (Marietta, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/742830
Publication Date:
11/01/2007
Filing Date:
05/01/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/117.08, 229/117.13, 229/138, 229/186
International Classes:
B65D5/08; B65D5/24; B65D5/36; B65D5/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NEWHOUSE, NATHAN JEFFREY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON (US) LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carton formed from at least a major blank and a minor blank joined to the major blank, the carton comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel; a second side panel; a first end panel; a second end panel; a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel, wherein the first side panel, the second side panel and the plurality of gussets are formed from at least the major blank, and the bottom panel and the first and second end panels are formed from at least the major and minor blanks.

2. The carton of claim 1, further comprising: a first handle panel foldably connected to the first end panel; and a second handle panel foldably connected to the second end panel, wherein the first and second handle panels are formed from at least the major and minor blanks.

3. The carton of claim 2, further comprising: a first handle feature formed in the first handle panel; and a second handle feature formed in the second handle panel.

4. The carton of claim 2, further comprising: a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel; and a first closure panel foldably connected to the first side top panel.

5. The carton of claim 4, further comprising: a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel; and a closure flap foldably connected to the second closure panel.

6. The carton of claim 1, further comprising: a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel, wherein each end of the first side top panel is foldably connected to one of the gussets; and a first closure panel foldably connected to a distal edge of the first side top panel.

7. The carton of claim 6, further comprising: a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel, wherein each end of the second side top panel is foldably connected to one of the gussets; a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel; and a closure flap foldably connected to the second closure panel.

8. The carton of claim 1, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels.

9. The carton of claim 8, wherein each gusset comprises at least four foldably connected gusset panels.

10. The carton of claim 1, wherein the carton is substantially parallelepipedal.

11. A carton, comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a second side panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a first end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a second end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel; a first closure panel foldably connected to the first side top panel and extending across a top of the carton; a closure aperture in the first closure panel; a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel and extending across the top of the carton; and a closure flap foldably connected to the second closure panel, the closure flap including a closure projection sized to be received in the closure aperture in the first closure panel.

12. The carton of claim 11, further comprising: a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel.

13. The carton of claim 12, further comprising: a first handle panel foldably connected to the first end panel; and a second handle panel foldably connected to the second end panel.

14. The carton of claim 13, further comprising: a first handle feature formed in the first handle panel; and a second handle feature formed in the second handle panel.

15. The carton of claim 14, further comprising: at least one handle receiving aperture formed at least partially in the first closure panel.

16. The carton of claim 13, wherein each handle panel is adhered to at least two of the gussets.

17. The carton of claim 11, wherein the first side top panel and the second side top panel extend across the top of the carton.

18. The carton of claim 11, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels.

19. The carton of claim 11, wherein a liquid-tight bottom receptacle is defined in a bottom portion of the carton.

20. The carton of claim 11, wherein the carton is substantially parallelepipedal.

21. A carton blank formed from a major blank and a minor blank joined to the major blank, comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel foldably connected to a first side of the bottom panel; a second side panel foldably connected to a second side of the bottom panel; a first end panel foldably connected to a first end of the bottom panel; a second end panel foldably connected to a second end of the bottom panel; a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel; a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; and a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel, wherein the first side panel, the second side panel and the plurality of gussets are formed from at least the major blank, and the bottom panel and the first and second end panels are formed from at least the major and minor blanks.

22. The blank of claim 21, further comprising: a first closure panel foldably connected to the first side top panel; a closure aperture in the first closure panel; a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel; and a closure flap foldably connected to the second closure panel, the closure flap including a closure projection sized to be received in the closure aperture in the first closure panel.

23. The blank of claim 21, further comprising: a first handle panel foldably connected to the first end panel; and a second handle panel foldably connected to the second end panel, wherein handle panels are formed from at least the major and minor blanks.

24. The blank of claim 23, further comprising: a first handle feature formed in the first handle panel; and a second handle feature formed in the second handle panel.

25. The blank of claim 23, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels, at least one of the gusset panels being foldably connected to one of the top side panels.

26. A carton blank, comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a second side panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a first end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a second end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel; a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel; a first closure panel foldably connected to the first side top panel; a closure aperture in the first closure panel; a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel; and a closure flap foldably connected to the second closure panel, the closure flap including a closure projection sized to be received in the closure aperture in the first closure panel.

27. The blank of claim 26, further comprising: a first handle panel foldably connected to the first end panel; and a second handle panel foldably connected to the second end panel.

28. The blank of claim 27, further comprising: a first handle feature formed in the first handle panel; and a second handle feature formed in the second handle panel.

29. The blank of claim 26, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels, and wherein each gusset is foldably connected to one of the end panels, to one of the side panels, and to one of the top side panels.

30. A method of erecting a carton, comprising: providing a carton blank, comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel; a second side panel; a first end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a first handle panel foldably connected to the first end panel; a second end panel foldably connected to the bottom panel; a second handle panel foldably connected to the second end panel; a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel; a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel; a first closure panel foldably connected to the first side top panel; and a second closure panel foldably connected to the second side top panel; forming a substantially parallepipedal open top form from the blank; loading articles into the substantially parallepipedal open top form; and adhering at least a portion of at least one of the gussets to the first handle panel; and forming a top closure from at least the first and second closure panels.

31. The method of claim 30, further comprising adhering at least a portion of at least one of the gussets to the second handle panel.

32. The method of claim 30, wherein the top closure comprises the first and second top side panels and the first and second closure panels.

33. The method of claim 30, further comprising folding the first handle panel about a fold line connecting the first handle panel to the first end panel to bring the first handle panel into contact with portions of two of the gussets.

34. The method of claim 33, wherein at least one of the gussets is connected to an adjacent top side panel at a fold line that is folded as the first handle panel is folded about a fold line connecting the first handle panel to the first end panel.

35. The method of claim 30, further comprising adhering at least a portion of each of the gussets to one of the end panels.

36. The method of claim 30, wherein forming a top closure comprises engaging a closure projection with a closure aperture formed in a first closure panel.

37. The method of claim 30, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels, and wherein each gusset is foldably connected to one of the end panels, to one of the side panels, and to one of the top side panels.

38. A method of utilizing a carton, comprising: providing a carton comprising: a bottom panel; a first side panel; a second side panel; a first end panel; a second end panel; a plurality of gussets, one gusset being located at each corner of the bottom panel and disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel; and a top closure extending across a top of the carton, the top closure initially comprising a first side top panel foldably connected to the first side panel and a second side top panel foldably connected to the second side panel; opening the top closure; extending the first side top panel generally upwardly and extending the second side top panel generally upwardly to place the carton in an expanded configuration, wherein at least the first side top panel, the second side top panel, and the gussets are connected to define an upper portion of an expanded interior volume of the carton.

39. The method of claim 38, further comprising closing the top of the carton after opening the top closure.

40. The method claim 39, wherein the carton has a first height before opening the carton and a second height after opening the top closure, the second height being greater than the first height.

41. The method of claim 40, wherein the second height is at least 10% greater than the first height.

42. The method of claim 39, wherein the top closure further comprises a closure flap and a closure aperture, wherein closing the top of the carton comprises engaging the closure flap with the closure aperture.

43. The method of claim 38, wherein the carton further comprises a first handle panel connected to the first end panel and a second handle panel connected to the second end panel, the method further comprising carrying the carton by the first and second handle panels.

44. The method of claim 38, wherein each gusset comprises at least two foldably connected gusset panels, and wherein each gusset is foldably connected to one of the end panels, to one of the side panels, and to one of the top side panels.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/796,566, filed May 1, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

RELATED APPLICATION

This application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/345,185, entitled “GUSSETED CARTON,” filed on Feb. 1, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety as if presented herein.

BACKGROUND

Dispensing cartons are known. Conventional dispensing cartons may have a top panel with a dispensing feature formed therein. Such cartons may be used to contain articles such as beverage containers, for example, that are dispensable through the top panel or through another panel when the carton is opened. Typically, conventional cartons must be refrigerated in order to keep the enclosed containers cool. When the cartons are no longer refrigerated, such as when the carton is removed from the refrigerator to dispense the containers, the containers may become undesirably warm. The containers must then be refrigerated again or otherwise cooled. Further, the dispensing features included in conventional cartons may render the cartons incapable of being securely reclosed once opened. Articles retained within the carton may therefore inadvertently fall out of the carton once the carton has been opened.

Conventional cartons are typically formed from a single ply of paperboard or similar material. Carrying handles may be formed in one or more panels of the carton and used to carry the carton. Because cartons are often used to carry relatively heavy articles, such as beverage containers, the strength of the handles or other sections of the cartons must be increased in order to accommodate the carton load. A conventional method for increasing the load-bearing capacity of a paperboard carton is to produce the carton from a blank of a different, stronger paperboard material, or to produce the blank from the same carton material but having greater thickness or caliper. Such conventional methods typically increase the costs associated with manufacturing the carton, with the material costs of manufacture generally increasing according to the cost of increasing the strength and/or thickness of the entire blank. Some sections of the blank, however, may not be load-bearing, and the additional costs associated with increasing the strength of non-load bearing sections of the blank are wasted.

SUMMARY

According to a first embodiment of the invention, a carton is formed from at least a major blank and a minor blank joined to the major blank. The carton comprises a first side panel, a bottom panel, a second side panel, a first end panel, a second end panel, and a plurality of gussets. One gusset is located at each corner of the bottom panel and is disposed between and foldably connected to an adjacent side panel and end panel so as to seal or close off the corners of the carton.

The minor blank may be configured to render the carton multi-ply at selected sections. According to the first embodiment, the first side panel, the second side panel and the plurality of gussets are formed from at least the major blank, and the bottom panel and the first and second end panels are formed from overlapping sections of the major and minor blanks. According to one aspect of the first embodiment, the minor blank reinforces the major blank so as to increase the strength and load-bearing capacity of the multi-ply carton. The minor blank can be configured to reinforce the major blank at any number of desired locations. Selected reinforcement of specific areas of the major blank can produce a high strength carton having a high load-bearing capacity while using relatively small amounts of board.

According to an aspect of the first embodiment, a top closure of the of the carton can be opened and ice, cold water, additional containers, and/or other articles can be placed in the carton through the opened top end. The interior volume of the carton can be used to retain liquids, such as water resulting from melting ice, condensation, other liquids, and articles such as, for example, refuse, particulate matter, etc.

According to another aspect of the invention, the carton can include top side panels foldably connected to the side panels. The carton can be placed in an expanded configuration in which the top side panels extend generally upwardly to in part define an increased interior volume of the carton. Closure panels can be foldably connected to the top side panels. The closure panels and top side panels close a top of the carton prior to placing the carton in the expanded configuration. The closure panels alone can be used to close the top of the carton when the carton is in its expanded configuration.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, the carton can include handle panels that in part define the interior carton volume when the carton is in its expanded configuration. The handle panels can be used to carry the carton before opening of the carton, when the carton is in the expanded configuration with the top of the carton open, and when the carton is in the expanded configuration with the top closed.

According to yet another aspect of the first embodiment, a bottom receptacle of the carton can be constructed to have a height that extends above the bottom panel of the carton below which there are no seams sealed by glue or other adhesives. The bottom receptacle may therefore be liquid-tight.

Other aspects, features, and details of the present invention can be more completely understood by reference to the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the drawings and from the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

According to common practice, the various features of the drawings discussed below are not necessarily drawn to scale. Dimensions of various features and elements in the drawings may be expanded or reduced to more clearly illustrate the embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a multi-ply blank used to form a carton according to a first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A is a plan view of a major blank of the multi-ply blank illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B is a plan view of a minor blank of the multi-ply blank illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates an erection step in which the multi-ply blank of FIG. 1 is formed into the carton according to the first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 illustrates an erection step of the blank of FIG. 1.

FIG. 11 illustrates the erected carton according to the first embodiment with containers accommodated therein.

FIG. 12 illustrates the carton in an expanded configuration with the top opened and with ice poured over the carton contents.

FIG. 13 illustrates the carton after reclosing the top of the carton while the carton is in its expanded configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The first embodiment of the present invention generally relates to a carton suitable for storing and dispensing articles such as, for example, beverage containers. The carton provides a bottom receptacle suitable for accommodating, for example, liquids, ice, or other coolants in the carton bottom. In one exemplary embodiment, ice can be added to the opened top of the carton to cool beverage containers held within the carton. As the ice melts, all or a part of the resultant runoff water may be held within the bottom receptacle. The carton can also include a reclosure feature in which closure panels can be engaged with one another to close the opened top of the carton. A reinforcing minor blank can extend across the bottom of the carton and upwardly into handles of the carton to increase the load-bearing capacity of the carton.

Articles accommodated within the present carton embodiments can include containers such as, for example, petaloid bottle beverage containers, metallic beverage cans, glass or plastic bottles, or other containers such as, for example, those used in packaging foodstuffs and other products. For the purposes of illustration and not for the purpose of limiting the scope of the invention, the following detailed description describes generally cylindrical metallic beverage containers as disposed within the carton. In this specification, the terms “side,” “end,” “bottom,” “lower,” “upper” and “top” indicate orientations determined in relation to fully erected, upright cartons.

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a multi-ply blank 8 used to form a carton 160 (illustrated in FIG. 11) according to the first embodiment of the invention. The blank 8 is formed from a major blank 5 and a reinforcing, minor blank 6 adhered, laminated or otherwise joined to the major blank 5. The interior or underside surface of the major blank 5 is visible in FIG. 1. In the illustrated embodiment, the minor blank 6 is adhered to the interior side of the major blank 5, although it may be adhered to the exterior side.

The multi-ply blank 8 is “multi-ply” in that the joined minor and major blank plies 6 and 5 comprising the multi-ply blank 8 include substantial overlapping portions. Also, a majority of the overlapping surfaces of the minor and major blank plies 6, 5 may be adhered adjacent to one another. For example, the blanks 5 and 6 have different perimeters or “footprints” and need not overlap at all points, but at least substantially all of the surface of the minor blank 6 may be adjacent and/or adhered to the interior side of the major blank 5.

As shown in FIG. 1, the blank 8 may be symmetric or nearly symmetric about a transverse centerline CT and a longitudinal centerline CL. The major blank 5 and the minor blank 6 may also be symmetric about the transverse centerline CT and the longitudinal centerline CL. Therefore, certain elements in the drawing figures may be indicated by identical or similar reference numerals in order to reflect the partial or complete symmetries in the blank 8.

FIG. 2A is a plan view of the major blank 5, and FIG. 2B is a plan view of the reinforcing minor blank 6. Referring to FIG. 2A, the major blank 5 comprises a bottom panel 10, first and second side panels 20 foldably connected to each side of the bottom panel 10 at transverse fold lines 21, respectively, a first side top panel 32 foldably connected to the first side panel 20 at a transverse fold line 31, a first top closure panel 42 foldably connected to the first side top panel 32 at a transverse fold line 41, a second side top panel 34 foldably connected to the second side panel 20 at a transverse fold line 33, and a second top closure panel 44 foldably connected to the second side top panel 34 at a transverse fold line 43. An end panel 60 is foldably connected to each end of the bottom panel 10 at a longitudinal fold line 62. A handle panel 70 is foldably connected to a distal end of each end panel 60 at a longitudinal fold line 71. A racetrack handle feature 75 may be formed in each handle panel 70. Other handle features may be incorporated into the handle panels 70. In this specification, the terms “end” and “side” are used for ease of reference, and do not imply relative sizes of the panels 20, 60.

A corner gusset 80 is located at each corner of the bottom panel 10, extending between an adjacent side panel 20 and end panel 60. Each corner gusset 80 comprises a first gusset panel 82 foldably connected to an end panel 60 at a transverse fold line 21, a second gusset panel 86 foldably connected to the first gusset panel 82 at an oblique fold line 84, a third gusset panel 90 foldably connected to the second gusset panel 86 at a transverse fold line 31 or 33, and a fourth gusset panel 94 foldably connected to the third gusset panel 90 at an oblique fold line 92. The first and second gusset panels 82, 86 can be defined at their edges, for example, by an arcuate or curved edge 96.

The first closure panel 42 may have a closure aperture 48 formed therein. The closure aperture 48 can be defined by, for example, a knockout section in the major blank 5, a cutout section, a slit, or by other breachable lines of disruption in the blank 5. The second closure panel 44 may have a closure panel or flap 50 defined at a distal end of the second closure panel 44 by a pair of transverse fold lines 51 and a curved cut 54 extending between the fold lines 51. The curved cut 54 defines a closure projection 56 struck from the second closure panel 44. The closure aperture 48 in the first closure panel 42 is sized to receive the closure projection 56 in the erected carton 160 (FIG. 13).

Longitudinally-extending handle-receiving apertures 46 may be formed in the panels 32, 42, and in the panels 34, 44. The handle-receiving apertures 46 are sized to receive handle flaps from handles of the erected carton 160 (FIG. 11). The handle-receiving apertures 46 can be defined by, for example, knockout sections in the blank 5, cutout sections, slits, or by other breachable lines of disruption in the major blank 5.

Referring to FIG. 2B, the inner, reinforcing minor blank 6 is configured to overlay and/or to reinforce one or more selected portions of the major blank 5. The minor blank 6 may have, for example, symmetry about the centerlines CL, CT. The minor blank 6 comprises a minor bottom panel 102 that may be, for example, of the same size or slightly smaller than the bottom panel 10 of the major blank 5 (FIG. 2A). First and second minor end panels 104 are foldably connected to each end of the minor bottom panel 102 at longitudinal fold lines 103, and minor handle panels 106 are foldably connected to distal ends of each minor end panel 104 at longitudinal fold lines 105. Referring also to FIG. 2A, each minor end panel 104 may generally correspond in size and shape to the end panels 60 of the major blank 5, and the minor handle panels 106 may generally correspond in size and shape to the handle panels 70. Each minor handle panel 106 may have a minor handle feature 108 that generally corresponds in shape and function to a handle feature 75 in an overlapping handle panel 70. The handle features 75, 108 overlap and cooperate to form two-ply handles 144 in the erected carton 160 (illustrated in FIG. 11).

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B, the multi-ply blank 8 may be formed by adhering the minor blank 6 to the interior side of the major blank 5. Each of the panels 106, 104, 102, 104, 106 of the minor blank 6 may be adhered to corresponding panels 70, 60, 10, 60, 70, respectively, of the major blank 5. Glue strips, applied hot melt glue, or other adhesives and means can be used to adhere the major and minor blanks 5, 6 together. The longitudinal fold lines 105, 103, 103, 105 in the minor blank 6 will generally coincide with the longitudinal fold lines 71, 62, 62, 71 in the major blank 5 so that the multi-ply blank 8 can be folded along the overlapping fold lines.

An exemplary method of erection of the multi-ply blank 8 into the carton 160 and loading of the carton 160 with articles will now be discussed with reference to FIGS. 1-11.

FIG. 3 illustrates an initial erection step in which the blank 8 is formed into the carton 160. Referring also to FIG. 2A, the panels 34, 44, 50 are folded back about the transverse fold line 33 in the direction of the curved arrow A. The panels 32, 42 are folded back about the transverse fold line 31 (not visible in FIG. 3). The first and second side panels 20 are folded inwardly along the transverse fold lines 21 in the direction of the curved arrows B. The undersides of the first gusset panels 82 are thereby brought into contact with and adhered to the minor end panels 104 of the minor blank 6. The gusset panels 82 can be adhered to facing surfaces of the minor end panels 104 by, for example, applied glue, glue strips, other adhesives or other means. The fold steps at the fold lines 21, 31, 33 can occur as discrete steps, or the folds at the fold lines 31, 33 can be carried out concurrently with the folds at the transverse fold lines 21.

Referring to FIG. 4, the blank 8 is folded in the direction of the curved arrow C about the longitudinal fold lines 62 in the major blank 5 and the corresponding longitudinal fold lines 103 (not visible in FIG. 4) in the minor blank 6. FIG. 4 illustrates this folding operation at one end of the blank 8. The fold will be performed at each end of the blank 8 in order to pre-break the blank 8 at the longitudinal fold lines 62, 103.

Referring to FIG. 5, the partially erected multi-ply blank 8 is opened up by pulling the side panels 20 (not visible in FIG. 5) upwardly and pivoting them about the transverse fold lines 21 in the direction of the curved arrows D. The side panels 20 and the attached panels 32, 42 and 34, 44 are also pivoted upwardly about the fold lines 21 so that they extend generally vertically or upright with respect to the bottom panel 10. The general vertical orientation of the panels 32, 42 and 34, 44 is shown in FIG. 6.

Referring to FIG. 6, one end of the blank 8 is shown folded about the longitudinal fold lines 62 in the major blank 5 and the longitudinal fold lines 103 in the minor blank 6 in the direction of the curved arrow E. The overlapped end panels 60, 104 and the overlapped handle panels 70, 106 stand upright or generally upright. The opposite end of the blank 8 will be similarly folded. In FIG. 6, the bottom panel 10 and the end panel 60 of the major blank 5 are covered by the panels 102, 104 of the minor blank 6, respectively, and the reference numbers 10, 60 are therefore placed within parentheses. As shown in FIG. 6, free portions 83 of the gusset panels 82 that are adjacent to the oblique fold lines 84 may remain unadhered to the minor end panel 104 and may bend away from the panel 104. With the end panels 60, 104 upright, the partially erected carton is a substantially parallelepipedal form with an open top that can be loaded with articles.

Referring to FIG. 7, the partially erected carton may be loaded with articles. In the illustrated embodiment, the partially erected carton is loaded with eighteen generally cylindrical twelve-ounce beverage containers C disposed in a 3×6×1 configuration. The overlapped end panels 60, 104 (shown in FIGS. 2A, 2B, respectively) of the major and minor blanks 5, 6 form reinforced two-ply first and second end panels 110 at each end of the carton, and the overlapped bottom panels 10, 102 (FIGS. 2A, 2B, respectively) form a reinforced two-ply bottom panel 120. The overlapped handle panels 70, 106 form reinforced two-ply handle panels 140. The overlapping handle features 75, 108 (FIGS. 2A, 2B, respectively) in the respective overlapped handle panels 70, 106 are aligned with one another and may be adhered together form two-ply handles 144 in each handle panel 140.

Referring to FIG. 8, one end of the partially erected carton is shown with the second side top panel 34, and the attached panels 44, 50, folded over the open top of the carton about the transverse fold line 33 in the direction of the curved arrow F. The first side top panel 32 and the first closure panel 42 are then folded over about the transverse fold line 31 so that they overlap the panels 34, 44. Alternatively, the first side top panel 32 may be folded over about the fold line 31, followed by the second side top panel 34 being folded over about the fold line 33. As the panels 32, 34 are folded inwardly, the gusset panels 90, 94 are folded toward one another about the oblique fold lines 92. The opposite end of the partially erected carton is similarly folded.

Referring to FIG. 9, one end of the partially erected carton is shown with the third gusset panels 90 and the fourth gusset panels 94 (shown in FIG. 8) folded about the longitudinal fold line 62 in the direction of the curved arrows G. The opposite end of the partially erected carton is similarly folded. At this time, one or both of the first top side panel 32 and the first closure panel 42 can be adhered to one or both of the second side top panel 34 and the second closure panel 44. The panels 32, 34, 42, 44 close a top portion of the carton.

Referring to FIG. 10, one end of the partially erected carton is shown with the two-ply handle panel 140 folded over about the overlapping fold lines 71 and 105 in the direction of the curved arrow H. Referring also to FIG. 9, the inwardly facing surfaces of the handle panels 140 are thereby brought into contact with the gusset panels 90. Glue or other adhesive may be applied to the gusset panels 90 so that the handle panels 140 are adhered thereto. The opposite end of the carton is similarly folded and glued to form the generally parallelepipedal carton 160 accommodating containers C illustrated in FIG. 11.

Referring to FIG. 11, the first top side panel 32 and the first closure panel 42 overlay the second top side panel 34 and the second closure panel 44, although this orientation may be reversed. The panels 32, 42, 34, 44 can be secured together by adhesives such as, for example, glue, to form a top closure 150. The top of the carton 160 is thereby closed or substantially closed. As shown in FIG. 11, the handle panels 140 extend in a carrying position, generally upwardly, from the end panels 110. The carton 160 can be carried using the reinforced multi-ply handles 144 defined in the handle panels 140.

The panels 32, 42, 34, 44 comprising the top closure 150 can be alternatively or in addition held in place over the open carton top by pivoting the handle panels 140 in the direction of the arrows H, and tucking handle flaps 146 of the handles 144 into the handle apertures 46 at each end of the carton 160. In this configuration, the panels 32, 42, 34, 44 may be substantially flat across the top of the carton 160, forming the top closure 150. The handle flaps 146 tucked into the handle apertures 46 may, for example, serve to maintain the top and closure panels 32, 42, 34, 44 in a closed position over the carton top such that adhesives are not necessary to secure the panels 32, 42, 34, 44 in place.

FIG. 12 illustrates the carton 160 in its expanded configuration, with the top closure 150 opened and with ice poured over the carton contents and accommodated in an interior volume 163 of the carton. The carton 160 may be opened, for example, by pulling the first closure panel 42 so that the panels 32, 42 are pulled upwardly and outwardly in the direction of the arrow J. The panels 34, 44 may then be pulled back in the direction of the other arrow J. Referring also to FIG. 8, as the panels 32, 34 are folded outwardly about the fold lines 31, 33, respectively, the gusset panels 94 fold outwardly with respect to the gusset panels 90 (which are adhered to handle panels 106) about oblique fold lines 92.

As shown in FIG. 12, with the carton top opened, ice, cool water, or other coolant means, for example, may be introduced into the interior volume 163 of the carton 160 so that it contacts the containers C. A first height HC1 of the closed carton 160 is shown in FIG. 12 as generally conforming to the height of the side panels 20. The height HC1 corresponds to the carton height when the carton is closed by the panels 32, 42, 34, 44 as shown in FIG. 11. A second height HC2 indicates the height of the interior volume of the carton 160 when the panels 32, 42, 34, 44 extend upwardly as shown in FIG. 12. The panels 32, 34, 82, 86, 90, 94, 140 define an upper portion of the interior volume 163, with the gussets 80 at each corner of the carton 160 serving to substantially seal the corners of the carton from the bottom panel 10 up to the second, expanded height HC2. The capacity of the expanded carton 160 is therefore increased by opening the top closure 150 and extending the panels 140, 32, 34, 90, 94 upwardly.

The carton 160 can be carried using the reinforced multi-ply handles 144 defined in the handle panels 140 when the carton is in the opened and expanded configuration shown in FIG. 12. Added ice or other coolants, in addition to the containers C, may constitute a significant weight to be borne by the carton 160. The two-ply section of the carton 160 comprising the sections where the minor blank 6 overlaps the major blank 5 adds significant strength to the carton to enable relatively heavy loads to be carried in the carton 160. The reinforcement provided by the minor blank 6 may be specifically targeted, for example, for regions of the carton 160 that require reinforcement, so that little board is wasted in forming the carton. In the illustrated embodiment, the panels 106, 104, 102, 104, 106 of the minor blank 6 (FIG. 2B) extend from one handle panel 140, down one end panel 110, across the bottom panel 120, and through the opposite end panel 110 and handle panel 140. Therefore, when a user carries the carton using the handle 144, the reinforcing blank 6 is arranged to bear a significant portion of the load.

FIG. 13 illustrates the carton 160 in its expanded configuration with the top of the carton closed by the panels 42, 44, 50. In this configuration, the panels 32, 34 extend generally upright so that the height of the interior volume of the carton 160 is HC3. The third height HC3 may be slightly less than the second height HC2. The top of the carton 160 is closed by folding the first and second top closure panels 42, 44 about the fold lines 41, 43 over the open top of the carton, respectively, in the direction of the arrows K. The closure flap 50 section of the top closure panel 44 is bent back about the fold lines 51 in the direction of the arrow L so that the closure projection 56 extends generally downwardly. The closure projection 56 is moved downwardly and pressed into the closure aperture 48 in the first closure panel 42. The engagement of the closure projection 56 in the closure aperture 48 holds the top closure panels 42, 44 in place across the top of the carton 160. The carton 160 can be carried using the reinforced multi-ply handles 144 defined in the handle panels 140 when the carton is in the expanded and closed configuration illustrated in FIG. 13. The top of the carton 160 is closed, which reduces the likelihood that articles will inadvertently fall out of the carton.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the added interior volume afforded by increasing the carton height to the second height HC2 and the third height HC3 can be used to accommodate a significant volume of cooling media such as, for example, ice, or even additional containers or other articles that may require cooling, for example. In addition to having an expanded interior volume, the carton 160 can still be carried by the handle panels 140 in the open expanded configuration shown in FIG. 12 and in the closed expanded configuration shown in FIG. 13.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the height of the interior volume of the carton 160 increases by at least 10% when changed from the closed configuration illustrated in FIG. 11, having height HC1, to the open and expanded configuration shown in FIG. 12, having height HC2. The height HC3 of the interior volume of the carton 160 in the expanded and closed configuration shown in FIG. 13 can also be at least 10% greater than the first height HC1 of the carton in the closed configuration, with a corresponding increase in interior carton volume. According to another embodiment of the invention, the heights HC2 and HC3 are at least 25% greater than the first height HC1.

Referring back to FIG. 12, according to one exemplary aspect of the invention, the gussets 80 may define in part an at least partially liquid-tight bottom receptacle 165 in the erected carton 160. The top edge or upper border of the bottom receptacle 165 is indicated by dashed lines in FIG. 12, and represents a portion of the bottom of the carton 160 below which no glued seals or seams are formed through which water or other liquid might leak. That is, in accordance with the first embodiment, no adhesive seal or other joinder of material where fluid might escape the carton 160 is located in the carton at a position below the top edge of the bottom receptacle 165. Referring also to FIGS. 1 and 2A, the bottom receptacle 165 may therefore be formed from a continuous section of folded material of the blank 8. The height of the liquid-tight portion of the receptacle 165 below which there are no glued seams is indicated as a height HR in FIG. 12. Referring to FIG. 2A, the height HR may generally coincide with an uppermost point where the gusset panels 82 are foldably connected to the gusset panels 84, along the curved edges 96.

The height HR may be, for example, defined as a function of a height of the carton 160. For example, referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, the bottom receptacle 165 may define a liquid-tight portion having a height HR that is at least about 15% of a height HC1 of the carton 160. In another embodiment, the receptacle 165 height HR may be at least about 40% of a height HC1 of the carton 160. The receptacle height HR may be increased or decreased by varying the geometry of the gussets 82, 86, for example, to accommodate larger or smaller anticipated liquid volumes in the carton 160.

If desired, additional articles may be placed in the carton 160 after opening. For example, if the containers C are beverage containers, ice may be placed over the containers C and held within the carton interior to cool the containers. As the ice melts, the receptacle 165 at the bottom of the carton 160 serves to retain all or a portion of the water runoff from the melting ice. The receptacle 165 may also serve, for example, to house fine particulate matter that might otherwise escape through a glued seam. If one or more containers C is damaged during shipping or storage of the carton 160, the bottom receptacle 165 can serve to retain all or a portion of the contents of the broken container.

The blank 8 can, for example, be constructed of water resistant material to any degree desired so that liquid in the bottom of the carton 160 remains in the bottom receptacle 165 for a selected amount of time. The carton 160 can therefore be constructed so that liquid retained in the bottom receptacle 165 initially remains in the carton 160 at least until it reached the height HR.

Cartons according to the principles of the present invention may be formed from materials such as, for example, paperboard. Therefore, if exposed to water or other liquids for extended periods of time, the carton may allow for the passage of liquid through the wetted carton surfaces due to partial permeability of the carton material. In this specification, the term “liquid-tight” is generally used to define a section of a carton that is formed from a continuous section of material or of a section without any glued seams through which liquid or fine particulate matter might leak, and the term “liquid-tight” therefore encompasses cartons that may become partially water permeable over time due to prolonged exposure to water or other liquids.

In the above embodiments, the carton 160 is described as accommodating eighteen 12-ounce cans containers C in 3×6×1 configuration. Other arrangements of containers, packages, articles, and other items, however, can be accommodated within a carton constructed according to the principles of the present invention. For example, a carton constructed according to the principles of the present invention would also work satisfactorily if the carton were sized and shaped to hold articles in other configurations, such as 3×4×1, 4×3×1, 3×6×1, 2×4×1, 2×5×1, 2×6×1, 4×6×1, etc., and multi-tier variations of the aforementioned configurations. The dimensions of the blank 8 may also be altered, for example, to accommodate various container forms. For example, 16-ounce petaloid bottles may be accommodated within a carton constructed according to the principles of the present invention.

In the exemplary embodiments discussed above, the major and minor blanks may be formed from, for example, clay coated newsprint (CCN), solid unbleached sulfate board (SUS), and other materials. In general, the blanks may be constructed from paperboard having a caliper of at least about 14, for example, so that it is heavier and more rigid than ordinary paper. The blanks can also be constructed of other materials, such as cardboard, or any other material having properties suitable for enabling the carton to function at least generally as described above.

The blanks can be coated with, for example, a clay coating. The clay coating may then be printed over with product, advertising, and other information or images. The blanks may then be coated with a varnish to protect information printed on the blanks. The blanks may also be coated with, for example, a moisture barrier layer, on either or both sides of the blanks. The blanks can also be laminated to or coated with one or more sheet-like materials at selected panels or panel sections.

The above embodiments may be described as having one or more panels adhered together by glue. The term “glue” is intended to encompass all manner of adhesives commonly used to secure paperboard carton panels in place.

The term “line” as used herein includes not only straight lines, but also other types of lines such as, for example, curved, curvilinear or angularly displaced or interrupted lines.

In accordance with the exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a fold line can be any substantially linear, although not necessarily straight, form of disruption or weakening in the blanks that facilitates folding therealong. More specifically, but not for the purpose of narrowing the scope of the present invention, examples of fold lines include: score lines; crease lines; a cut or a series of cuts that extend partially into and/or completely through the material along a desired line of weakness; and various sequential and/or overlapping combinations of these exemplary features.

In the illustrated embodiments, selected fold lines are shown as including spaced cuts to facilitate folding along the lines. If the cuts are below or adjacent to the bottom receptacle portion of the carton, less than 100% cuts may be used to prevent leakage along the fold lines. Alternatively, cuts or scores may be omitted within or near the receptacle portion.

In the present specification, a “panel” or “flap” need not be flat or otherwise planar. A “panel” or “flap” can, for example, comprise a plurality of interconnected generally flat or planar sections.

For purposes of the description presented herein, the term “line of disruption” can be used to generally refer to, for example, a cut line, a score line, a crease line, a tear line, or a fold line (or various sequential and/or overlapping combinations thereof) formed in a blank. A “breachable” line of disruption is a line of disruption that is intended to be breached during ordinary use of the carton. An example of a breachable line of disruption is a tear line.

In accordance with a second embodiment of the invention, a tray, or other construct, is formed. As one example and referring to FIG. 1, the blank 8 can be modified by omitting certain elements, such as the panels 32, 34, 42, 44 in order to form an open tray type carton.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that while the present invention has been discussed above with reference to exemplary embodiments, various additions, modifications and changes can be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.