Title:
Temperature controlled shipping container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A temperature controlled shipping has a base formed as a first block of an insulating material. The base has a plurality of base cavities arranged in a rectangular array of rows and is formed to have a central cavity between a pair of adjacent rows of the base cavities. The central cavity is formed to hold a cooling device. The container has a cover formed as a second block of insulating material having a plurality of cover cavities arranged to correspond to the base cavities such that when the cover is placed on the base, the base cavities and the cover cavities align to produce a plurality of receptacles suitable holding a plurality of items. Each receptacle includes a plurality of tapered projections extending inward to allow inner items of varying size to be secured for shipping.



Inventors:
Lehman, Tim (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/443986
Publication Date:
12/06/2007
Filing Date:
05/30/2006
Assignee:
Blower-Demsey Corp.dba PAK WWST Paper and Packaging
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/457.2, 220/592.03
International Classes:
F25D3/08; F25D23/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHN H. Lynn (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for shipping an item in a temperature controlled environment, comprising: a base formed as a first block of an insulating material, the base having a plurality of base cavities therein and arranged in a rectangular array of rows, the base being formed to have a central cavity between a pair of adjacent rows, the central cavity being formed to receive therein a cooling device; and a cover formed as a second block of insulating material, the cover having a plurality of cover cavities therein arranged to correspond to the base cavities such that when the cover is placed on the base, the base cavities and the cover cavities align to produce a plurality of receptacles suitable holding a plurality of items.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein the cooling device comprises an ice pack.

3. The container of claim 1 wherein each base cavity includes a plurality of tapered projections extending inward from a lower inner wall portion to receive items of varying size.

4. The container of claim 3 wherein the cover cavities each include a plurality of vanes that extend inwardly to define a receptacle for receiving an upper end of an item placed in the corresponding base cavity.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to containers for shipping consumer products and particularly to containers for products that should be kept with in a specified temperature range. In particular this invention is suitable for shipping a product such as bottled wine while controlling the temperature to prevent excessive heating, which has a deleterious effect on the taste and quality of the product.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A container according to the present invention for shipping an item in a temperature controlled environment comprises a base formed as a first block of an insulating material, the base having a plurality of base cavities therein and arranged in a rectangular array of rows, the base being formed to have a central cavity between a pair of adjacent rows, the central cavity being formed to receive therein a cooling device; and a cover formed as a second block of insulating material, the cover having a plurality of cover cavities therein arranged to correspond to the base cavities such that when the cover is placed on the base, the base cavities and the cover cavities align to produce a plurality of receptacles suitable for holding a plurality of items.

The cooling device preferably comprises an ice pack. Each base cavity may include a plurality of tapered projections extending inward from a lower inner wall portion to receive items of varying size. The cover cavities preferably each each include a plurality of vanes that extend inwardly to define a receptacle for receiving an upper end of an item placed in the corresponding base cavity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a shipping container according to the present invention showing a base and a cover;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the base shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the base portion showing

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the base

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the bottom side of the base of FIGS. 1-4;

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view showing the inside of the cover of FIG. 1

FIG. 9 is a bottom plan view of the cover of FIGS. 1 and 8;

FIG. 10 is a cross sectional view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a cover that may be included an embodiment of the invention that includes three cavities arranged in a linear array; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a base that may be used with the cover of FIG. 11.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As shown in FIG. 1, a shipping container 20 according to the present invention includes a base portion 22 and a cover portion 24. The base portion 22 comprises a pair of base sections 26 and 28 that are substantially identical. Only the base section 26 is described in detail herein. It is to be understood that structural features described in relation to the base section 26 are also included in the base section 28. The cover portion also comprises a pair of identical sections 30 and 32 that are arranged in corresponding relationship with the base sections 26 and 28. Both the base 22 and cover are preferably formed of a material such as expanded polystyrene that has excellent thermal insulation properties.

The base section 26 is formed as a block of material that includes six product receiving cavities 34-39 are arranged in two rows 42 and 44 of three cavities to form a 3×2 rectangular array. As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, each of the cavities 34-39 has a lower portion 46 that is essentially cylindrical in shape. As shown in FIGS. 4-7, the base section 26 has a bottom wall 48 that closes a lower end portion 50 of each of the cavities 34-39. Each of the cavities 34-39 has an upper end portion that is open as shown in FIGS. 1, 6 and 7. The lower cavity portions 46 are formed to receive the lower, essentially cylindrical portion of a product container such as a wine bottle (not shown).

The base sections 26 and 28 preferably are formed by a molding process that uses a plug (not shown) that forms a central cavity 52 between the rows 42 and 44. Each of the cavities 34-39 has an upper portion 54 that intersects with the central cavity 52. The lower portion 46 of each of the cavities 34-39 has a height that generally matches that of a lower, generally cylindrical portion of a product container such as a typical wine bottle (not shown).

The base 22 has an upper rim 56 that extends around the outer edge of the base 22. The rim 56 preferably has a thickness of about 0.25 in. to 0.5 in. The rims base sections 26 and 28 are joined at edge portions 60 and 62, respectively. As best shown in FIGS. 5-7, the base sections 26 and 28 have facing sidewalls 64 and 66 that are spaced apart by a small distance of about 0.25 in. Together the two base sections 26 and 28 include twelve cavities to make the shipping container ideal for shipping a full twelve-bottle case of wine. If six or fewer bottles are to be shipped, the base sections 26 and 28 may be broken apart at the edges 60 and 62 where the rims 56 and 58 are attached.

The base section 28 has a central cavity 68 that is formed to be essentially identical to the cavity 52. The cavities 52 and 66 are formed to be suitable for receiving a cooling device. FIG. 1 shows a cooling device 70 placed in the cavity 66 of the base portion 28. The cooling device 70 may conveniently comprise a plastic container of “blue ice” as commonly used in insulated containers. When the shipping container 20 is to be used to ship a case of wine, cooling devices 70 are placed in both of the cavities 52 and 68.

As shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 6 and 7, each of the lower cavity portions 46 may include a plurality of tapered projections 72-74 extending from the lower wall portions 50. The tapered projections 72-74 are arranged so that bottom edges of product containers (not shown) of varying diameter will seat securely in the lower cavity portions 46.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 8-10, the cover 24 is also formed as a block, preferably of the same material as the base 22. As shown in FIGS. 8-10 the cover 24 includes a first cover section 80 that corresponds to the base section 26 and a second cover section 82 that corresponds to the base section 28. As with the base sections 26 and 28, the cover sections 80 and 82 are substantially identical such that structural features described for one of the cover sections 80 and 82 also exist in the other cover section.

The cover section 80 includes a plurality of substantially identical cavities 84-89 that correspond with the cavities 34-39, respectively, of the base section 26. The cavity 84, for example, has an end portion 90 where a plurality of vanes, or ribs, 92-96 extend radially into the cavity 84. The vanes 92-96 preferably are equally spaced apart around the circumference of the cavity 84. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, the vanes 92-96 have end portions 98-102 that extend into the cavity 84 to define an elongate receptacle 104 having an open end 105 and a closed end 106. The receptacle is designed to receive the neck of a wine bottle of having an ordinary shape.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 10, each of the cavities 84-89 may include a domed upper end 109. As shown in FIG. 10, the receptacle 104 extends into the domed upper end 109. The receptacle 104 is formed to receive the upper end (not shown) of a bottle when the cover 24 is placed on the base 22 with one or more bottles having been placed in the base cavities.

The receptacle 104 has a length selected to hold product containers, such as beverage bottles, of varying length and diameter. The tapered projections in the base 22 and the vanes 92-96 in the cover 24 make the shipping container 20 suitable for shipping product containers of varying size without requiring any other packing material, unlike other shipping containers, which typically have rectangular cavities for containing items to be shipped.

As shown in FIG. 9, the cover sections 30 and 32 are joined at edges 110 and 112. The cover 24 may be divided at the edges 110 and 112 to make two separate six-cavity cover sections.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 3, 6 and 7, the base 22 may include projections 120 extending toward the cover 24 and recesses 122 that face the cover 24. Referring to FIG. 8, the cover 24 may include a rim 123 having projections 124 that extend toward the base 22 and recesses 126 that face the base 22. When the cover 24 is placed on the base, the base projections 120 extend into the cover recess 126, and the cover projections 124 extend into the base recesses 124. This arrangement of projections and recesses aids in keeping the base 22 and cover 24 in proper alignment when the shipping container is in use.

Still referring to FIG. 8, the cover portion 30 has a cavity 130 between the two rows of cavities 84-89. The cover portion 32 has a similar cavity 132. The upper portions of cooling devices 70 placed in the base cavities 52 and 68 extend into the cover cavities 130 and 132 when the cover is placed over the cooling devices 70 in the base 22.

In typical usage, the base 22 is placed in a cardboard box (not shown) before wine bottles or other items to be shipped are placed in the base cavities 34-39. Items to be shipped are placed in the base cavities 34-39 and the cooling devices 70 are placed in the cavities 52 and 68. After these items are properly placed, the cover 24 is inserted into the box so that the projections and recesses are aligned as described above. The box is then closed and sealed.

It should be noted that the recesses 122 and 126 and projections 124 and 128 are optional features. The base rim 56 and the cover rim 123 may both be formed as planar surfaces without projections or recess. The cardboard box is preferably formed so that the base 22 and the cover 24 fit closely therein so that the walls of the box keep the base 22 and cover 24 in proper alignment.

The invention may also be used by placing items to be shipped in the base cavities 34-39, placing the cover 24 on the base 22 to cover the items and applying tape or other sealant means to the outer edges of the rims before placing the filled, assembled container in the box.

The shipping container 20 is designed for shipping a product such as wine where exposure to temperatures above a known limit will degrade the quality of the product. When a case of wine and the cooling devices are packaged and sealed in the container 20, the temperature of the wine will stay below a value that would degrade the wine for a few days. This is generally sufficient time for shipping a case of wine across the United States without degrading its quality.

FIGS. 11 and 12 show an embodiment of the invention that comprises a shipping container having a single linear array of cavities. FIG. 12 shows a base 142 having a plurality of cavities 144-146. Three cavities are shown. However, the illustrated embodiment is merely an example. This embodiment of the invention is not restricted to a three-cavity configuration. Each of the cavities 144-146 may include tapered projections (not shown) that are substantially identical to the projections 72-74 described above. The cavities 145 and 146 are formed in a base portion 150 that has an upper rim 152. The cavity 144 is formed in a base portion 154 that has an upper rim 156. The rims 152 and 156 are joined at a slot 158. Otherwise the base portions 142 and 154 are spaced apart. The base portions 150 and 154 may be separated by breaking the connection between the rims 152 and 156 at the slot 158 to form a single cavity container and a double cavity container.

FIG. 11 shows a cover 160 that may be used in conjunction with the base 142. The cover 160 includes cavities 162-164 that correspond to the cavities 144-146. The cover 160 is also formed in two portions 166 and 168 that are joined at a slot 170. The cover portions may be separated by breaking them apart to form a single cavity cover and a double cavity cover.