Title:
Bubble mailer chill pack envelope
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inner thermal container, molded from an expanded polystyrene, seals in temperature sensitive materials with a cooling means for maintaining a low temperature. Inner and outer coatings provide additional thermal, vapor, and moisture insulation. The inner thermal container is inserted and sealed in a bubble wrap mailer envelope with layers of vapor and moisture proof thermal insulation.



Inventors:
Kircher Jr., Stephen J. (Santa Ana, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/977025
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
10/23/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/03
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LOFFREDO, JUSTIN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Donald W. Meeker (Newport Beach, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A temperature insulated shock resistant mailer system comprising in combination: an outer bubble wrap mailer envelope comprising a top and a bottom sheet each of bubble wrap material generally heat sealed together around the periphery of the two sheets and having at least one peripheral envelope opening therein and a means for sealing the envelope opening closed, the top and bottom sheets of bubble wrap providing a shock resistant cushion for contents of the bubble wrap mailer envelope as well as thermal insulation for the contents; a temperature insulating moisture barrier and puncture barrier on at least one surface of both sheets of the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope so that the top and bottom sheets are water resistant and provided with further thermal insulation and puncture resistance; an inner thermal container removably insertable within the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope, the inner container comprising a shell of light weight expanded polystyrene, the inner thermal container having an interior chamber for containing a temperature sensitive material and a means for maintaining the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature within the interior chamber, a thermal insulation coating covering all wall surfaces of the interior chamber to enhance temperature retention, a vapor barrier and thermal insulation covering an exterior surface of the inner thermal container, a means for accessing the interior chamber to install and remove the contents, and means for sealing the inner thermal container closed to maintain the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature, the inner thermal container and outer bubble wrap envelope together forming a temperature insulated, puncture resistant, and shock resistant mailer system for transporting a temperature sensitive material maintained at a cold temperature and protected from shock during transporting.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the temperature insulating moisture and puncture barrier on at least one surface of both sheets of the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope comprises a layer of PERLITE.

3. The system of claim 2 further comprising a layer of aluminum MYLAR over the layer of PERLITE locking the layer of PERLITE in place.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the thermal insulation coating covering all surface walls of the interior chamber of the inner thermal container comprises a layer of PERLITE.

5. The system of claim 4 further comprising a layer of aluminum MYLAR over the layer of PERLITE locking the layer of PERLITE in place.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein the temperature insulating moisture and puncture barrier on at least one surface of both sheets of the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope comprises a metalized foil laminated onto a strong co-extruded film.

7. The system of claim 1 further comprising an outer coating of MYLAR around the inner thermal container shell to provide a vapor barrier and to enhance temperature retention within the inner thermal container.

8. The system of claim 1 wherein the vapor barrier and thermal insulation covering an exterior surface of the inner thermal container comprises a layer of PERLITE to enhance temperature retention within the inner thermal container.

9. The system of claim 8 further comprising a layer of aluminum MYLAR over the layer of PERLITE locking the layer of PERLITE in place.

10. The system of claim 1 wherein the vapor barrier and thermal insulation covering an exterior surface of the inner thermal container comprises metallic foil laminated thereon.

11. The system of claim 1 wherein the vapor barrier and thermal insulation covering an exterior surface of the inner thermal container comprises a coating of reflective polyester.

12. The system of claim 1 wherein the inner thermal container comprises a pair of mating shells of molded light weight expanded polystyrene, at least one of the pair of mating shells having a recessed interior to retain the temperature sensitive material and the means for maintaining the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature within the recessed interior, and the means for sealing the inner thermal container closed to maintain the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature comprises mating overlapping peripheral edges forming an air tight seal between the pair of mating shells and an adhesive sealing tape adhered to and covering the mating peripheral edges of the pair of mating shells to maintain the mating overlapping peripheral edges in a sealed condition during transportation.

13. The system of claim 1 wherein the means for sealing the envelope opening closed comprises an end flap folded over the envelope opening, the end flap having an adhesive surface to seal the end flap closed over the envelope, the adhesive surface normally covered by a peel-off strip which is removed to adhere the end flap.

14. The system of claim 1 wherein the means for maintaining the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature within the interior chamber comprises a gel ice pack comprising specially formulated, non-toxic, non-caustic refrigerants hermetically sealed in a heavy-duty and puncture-proof pouch which is re-usable by re-freezing for each use.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present utility patent application claims the benefit of provisional application No. 60/853,416 filed Oct. 23, 2006.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

THE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to mailing packaging and in particular to a combination temperature insulated and shock resistant mailer system having an inner thermal container molded from an expanded polystyrene which seals in temperature sensitive materials with a cooling means for maintaining a low temperature, the inner thermal container being sealed in a bubble wrap mailer envelope with layers of vapor and moisture proof thermal insulation that is puncture resistant, together forming a temperature insulated, puncture resistant, and shock resistant mailer system for transporting a temperature sensitive material maintained at a cold temperature and protected from shock during transporting. Description of Related Art including information disclosed under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98

The current packaging being used today isn't the most cost effective packaging due to the lack of package sizes for small shipments, such as individual medical supply shipments and a lack of available packaging alternatives outside of packaging for large shipments of supplies from a manufacturer. Due to having only oversized packaging available, the packaging for small medical shipments for individual use is often a large percentage of the cost of the actual products being shipped.

Many temperature sensitive pharmaceutical and medical products use Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) containers because of its excellent thermal insulation properties. Expanded polystyrene is the generic name for polystyrene copolymers. Strongly relied upon in the pharmaceutical distribution industry, EPS is ideal for long distance shipment of perishable items. EPS is highly resistant to heat/cold flow and the cellular structure of molded polystyrene is essentially impermeable to water.

Many temperature sensitive pharmaceutical and medical products use EPS because comparable packaging materials can rarely offer the same level of thermal insulation. Strongly relied upon in the food distribution industry, EPS is ideal for long distance shipment of perishable foods.

The cellular structure of molded polystyrene is essentially impermeable to water and provides zero capillary action. However, EPS may absorb moisture when it is completely immersed due to its fine interstitial channels within the bead-like structure. While molded polystyrene is nearly impermeable to liquid water, it is moderately permeable to vapors under pressure differentials. Vapor permeability is a function of both density and thickness. Generally, neither water nor vapor affects the mechanical properties of EPS.

For more than 50 years, the effectiveness of EPS has been proven in numerous packaging applications used by a wide variety of industries, from consumer product manufacturers and catalog shipping companies to aircraft parts. Lightweight EPS is ideal for these packaging applications due to its physical properties, in particular its cushioning characteristics, dimensional stability and its thermal and moisture resistance.

Custom-molded EPS interior packaging has been highly effective in protecting sensitive electronic components, consumer goods and office equipment. Its moldability allows interior packaging components to hold products snugly in place. High insulating properties and moisture resistance have made EPS a popular choice in the food packaging, medical and pharmaceutical industries. EPS is also used to protect a myriad of other products used for component assembly, during internal distribution and storage and delivery to the end user.

Prior art patents and published applications as listed below fail to provide a reasonably inexpensive and highly effective means for shipping small quantities of temperature sensitive products for individual usage.

The prior art includes U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,129,519; 6,336,340; 7,106,202, 6,776,747; 5,199,795; 5,316,149; 6,652,933; 5,009,319; 5,791,476; 6,139,188; 4,620,633; 6,247,329; 6,223,551; 6,176,613; 4,925,029; and U.S. patent applications number US2005/0019511A1; and US2006/0289165A1.

What is needed is a cost effective, efficient, and effective system for shipping small quantities of temperature sensitive items, such as medically related items shipped individually or in small quantities for use.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a temperature insulated shock resistant mailer system comprising in combination an outer bubble wrap mailer envelope and an inner thermal container as a cost effective, efficient, and effective system for shipping small quantities of temperature sensitive items, such as medically related items shipped individually or in small quantities for individual use.

A related object of the present invention is that the packaging of the present invention provides quality tested materials with advanced thermal insulation and shock resistant technology to insure the highest performance levels throughout the shipment's journey through the harshest of environments.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a peel and seal strip for permanent closure of the bubble wrap mailer envelope, which is thermally insulating, puncture resistant and water-repellant.

An added object of the present invention is to provide a gel ice pack inside the inner thermal container using specially formulated, non-toxic, non-caustic refrigerants hermetically sealed in heavy-duty and puncture-proof pouches for re-usable and economical cooling to extend shipping times.

In brief, an inner thermal container molded from an expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) material (the generic term for polystyrene copolymers) seals in temperature sensitive materials with a cooling means for maintaining a low temperature and the inner thermal container is sealed in a bubble wrap mailer envelope with layers of vapor and moisture proof thermal insulation that is puncture resistant, together forming a temperature insulated, puncture resistant, and shock resistant mailer system for transporting a temperature sensitive material maintained at a cold temperature and protected from shock during transporting.

The present invention provides a cost effective way to ship small quantities of temperature sensitive materials, such as pharmaceutical items for individual users and is available in various sizes to meet shipping requirements for different applications. The present invention provides to the consumer (S-Value) savings per shipment unit.

An advantage of the present invention is that it will keep the worry out of shipping pharmaceutical products from being damaged or stolen due to the double sealing with the outer bubble wrap mailer sealed envelope and sealed inner thermal container.

A related advantage of the present invention is that it is light weight but still sturdy enough of to survive an impact from other packages many times bigger and heavier in their size.

One more advantage of the present invention is that it exceeds all prior thermal and package security mailing solutions in the pharmaceutical industry intended to cut down the cost of cold temperature packaging.

A further advantage of the present invention is that it brings together materials made from highest thermal insulation and shock resistant technologies currently that are cost effective.

A significant advantage of the present invention is that it provides lower packaging costs providing (S-Value) cutting overhead shipping costs on packaging and on shipping rates because it is an envelope.

A related advantage of the present invention is that it would provide (S-Value) savings to corporate and private industries shipping any Rx pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and other products that require temperatures at a constant consistent cooled level to keep their product integrity.

Yet another advantage of the present invention is that it will reduce the waste going into the world's landfills as well as wasting the worlds natural resources on a daily basis by providing a smaller size of packaging or a packaging alternative that was not previously available.

A major advantage of the present invention is that it insures the highest performance levels for a package containing temperature sensitive and fragile materials throughout the shipment's journey through the harshest of environments.

Another advantage of the present invention is that the lightweight material saves on postage while the cushioned bubble lining envelope and inner thermal container shield the shipment from possible heat damage.

An added advantage of the present invention is that the foil laminated layer for the bubble wrap mailing envelope adds another level of protection and an added peace of mind knowing the product's integrity is not at risk.

An ensuing advantage of the present invention is that shipping with the present invention is the most cost effective way to ship any Rx, vitamin products etc. to ensure or exceed coldest temperature requirements maintained throughout a length of 24-48 hours in transit.

One more advantage of the present invention is that it utilizes molded foams which are safe, clean, light-weight and not dangerous in any way.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other details of the present invention will be described in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are furnished only by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention, and in which drawings:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of the temperature insulated shock resistant mailer system of the present invention showing the components of the inner thermal container aligned for assembly and aligned with the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope for insertion therein;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken through one surface of the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope showing the different layers;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the inner thermal container with the two halves sealed together;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the sealed inner thermal container inserted within the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope sealed therein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In FIGS. 1-4, a temperature insulated shock resistant mailer system 10 comprising in combination an outer bubble wrap mailer envelope 30 and an inner thermal container 20.

In FIGS. 1 and 2, the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope 30 comprises a top sheet 31B and a bottom sheet 31A, each sheet 31 having bubble wrap material 33 with insulating and shock absorbing air bubbles 36 interconnected by plastic sheeting 34, as shown in FIG. 2. The two sheets 31A and 31B are heat sealed together to form a seam 32 around the periphery of the two sheets with an opening 35 at one end. The top and bottom sheets 31A and 31B of bubble wrap provide a shock resistant cushion for contents of the bubble wrap mailer envelope as well as thermal insulation for the contents.

In FIG. 2, a temperature insulating moisture barrier and puncture barrier, such as a combined layer of PERLITE 42 adhered to the bubble wrap 33 with a sealing MYLAR layer 41 to lock the layer of PERLITE in place, are preferably provided on at least one surface of both sheets 31A and 31B of the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope 30 so that the top and bottom sheets are water resistant and provided with further thermal insulation and puncture resistance. Other layers may include a metalized foil laminated onto a strong co-extruded film, an outer coating of MYLAR, or other types of barriers.

A means for sealing the envelope opening closed comprises an end flap 37 folded over the envelope opening 35 onto the envelope body 38. The end flap 37 has an adhesive surface 39 to seal the end flap 37 closed over the envelope body 38, as shown in FIG. 4. The adhesive surface 39 is normally covered by a peel-off strip which is removed to adhere the end flap.

In FIGS. 1 and 3, the inner thermal container 20 is removably insertable within the outer bubble wrap mailer envelope 30, as shown in FIG. 4. The inner thermal container 20 preferably comprises a shell, preferably formed of light weight expanded polystyrene. The inner thermal container 20 preferably comprises a pair of mating shells 21A and 21B of molded light weight expanded polystyrene. At least one, and preferably both, of the pair of mating shells has a recessed interior 25A and 25B to retain the temperature sensitive material being shipped and the means for maintaining the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature within the recessed interior.

The means for sealing the inner thermal container closed to maintain the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature comprises mating overlapping peripheral edges, comprising an flat outer edge 22A of a top shell 21A contacting a mating flat outer edge 22B of a bottom shell 21B with the top shell 21A overlapping a protruding ridge 24 extending up from the mating flat outer edge 22B of the bottom shell 21B forming an air tight seal between the pair of mating shells 21A and 21B. An adhesive sealing tape 29 is adhered to and covers the mating peripheral edges of the pair of mating shells 21A and 21B, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, to maintain the mating overlapping peripheral edges in a sealed condition during transportation.

A thermal insulation coating 23A and 23B, preferably a layer of PERLITE, covers all wall surfaces of the interior chamber 25A and 25B to enhance temperature retention. A layer of aluminum MYLAR over the layer of PERLITE may be used to lock the layer of PERLITE in place. A vapor barrier and thermal insulation layer 29 on the top shell 21A and thermal insulation layer 28 on the bottom shell 21B, preferably a layer of PERLITE coved by a layer of aluminum MYLAR, cover the exterior surfaces of the inner thermal container. Means for accessing the interior chambers 25A and 25B preferably comprises the open two halves of the interior chambers to install and remove the contents.

The inner thermal container 20 and outer bubble wrap envelope 30 together forming a temperature insulated, puncture resistant, and shock resistant mailer system for transporting a temperature sensitive material maintained at a cold temperature and protected from shock during transporting.

The vapor barrier and thermal insulation 28 and 29 covering an exterior surface of the inner thermal container may comprise metallic foil or a coating of reflective polyester laminated thereon.

The means for maintaining the temperature sensitive material at a cold temperature within the interior chamber preferably comprises a gel ice pack comprising specially formulated, non-toxic, non-caustic refrigerants hermetically sealed in a heavy-duty and puncture-proof pouch which is re-usable by re-freezing for each use to place the frozen gel ice pack with the temperature sensitive material inside the inner thermal container 20.

The size of the inner thermal container is preferably 12.3″×11″×5″ with 1.63″ thick walls for a universal size for the medical field, but may be made in any of a variety of sizes as desired for specific or other general uses.

The bubble wrap mailer envelope 30 is preferably 18″×22″ with a 3/16″ to 5/16″ thick bubble wrap cushion to absorb shock and dampen vibrations.

In use, the present invention is used for shipping smaller scale single order shipments in the medical industry, such as Rx vial's (1-10 vials), Rx vials & needle kits, Rx Patches, Rx Vaccines etc. The present invention provides a temperature insulated shock resistant mailer system as an economical packaging alternative for the entire pharmaceutical industry as a whole. The packaging of the present invention provides quality tested materials with advanced thermal insulation and shock resistant technology to insure the highest performance levels throughout the shipment's journey through the harshest of environments. The present invention provides a specialty product to the pharmaceutical industry from pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmaceutical re-packagers and the medical community including private medical practices, walk-in pharmacy's, mail order pharmacy's, dental offices, hospitals, and any other applications requiring shipments of small quantities and individual temperature sensitive materials.

It is understood that the preceding description is given merely by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention and that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention as claimed.