Title:
INSULATING STORAGE CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The subject application is directed to an insulating product storage container. The container is a double-walled cup, including an inner cup member and an outer cup member, with the inner cup member sized to fit within the outer cup member. A heat-insulating space is formed by the interior surface of the outer cup member and the exterior surface of the inner cup member. The inner and outer cup members further each include a circumferential lip protruding outwardly with respect to the interior of the double-walled cup. The lips of the inner and outer cup members are welded together so as to form a sealed insulating space thereby.



Inventors:
Stauffer, Mike (Westlake, OH, US)
Arnold, Ian (Praire Village, KS, US)
Cassese, David A. (Munson, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/945314
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
11/27/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/503
International Classes:
B65D81/38; B65D21/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POOS, MADISON LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUCKER ELLIS LLP (CLEVELAND, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An insulating product storage container comprising: a double-walled cup including: a first cup member, a second cup member adapted for nesting inside the first cup member, an insulating space, and a top opening; wherein the insulating space is formed by at least a part of an interior surface of the first cup member and at least a part of an exterior surface of second the cup member.

2. The insulating product storage container of claim 1: wherein each of the first cup member and the second cup member further comprises a corresponding circumferential lip protruding outwardly with respect to the interior of the double-walled cup and positioned generally adjacent to the top opening of the double-walled cup; and wherein at least a part of the lip of the first cup member is adhesively engaged with at least a part of the lip of the second cup member, thereby forming a sealed insulating space.

3. The insulating product storage container of claim 2, wherein the sealed insulating space is formed by welding of at least a part of the lip of the first cup member and at least a part of the lip of the second cup member.

4. The insulating product storage container of claim 3: wherein at least a part of the underside portion of the lip of the second cup member rests on at least a part of the upper side portion of the lip of the first cup member; and wherein the sealed insulating space is formed by welding of the resting underside and corresponding upper side portions of the corresponding lips of the first and second cup members.

5. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the material of at least one of the first cup member and the second cup member is characterized by a low thermal conductivity.

6. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the material of at least one of the first cup member and the second cup member is a thermoplastic material.

7. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the insulating space between the at least part of the exterior surface of the second cup member and the at least part of the interior surface of the first cup member is filled with an insulating material.

8. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein a bottom portion of the first cup member comprises a center portion that is raised with respect to a periphery portion of a bottom portion of the first cup member.

9. The insulating product storage container of claim 8, wherein the raised center portion has a truncated conical shape.

10. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the double-walled cup has an inverse truncated conical shape.

11. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the double-walled cup is implemented as at least one of the group consisting of disposable and recyclable.

12. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the product is a food product.

13. The insulating product storage container of claim 12, wherein the food product is selected from the group consisting of a hot food product, a cold food product, and a frozen food product.

14. The insulating product storage container of claim 1, wherein the double-walled cup is adapted for stacking for shipping and packaging in an empty state.

15. The insulating product storage container of claim 14, wherein the first cup member further comprises a circumferential shoulder protruding outwardly with respect to the interior of the double-walled cup that is positioned generally adjacent to the lip of the first cup member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/867,473, filed on Nov. 28, 2006, the entirety of which is incorporated herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The subject application is directed to an insulating product storage container that insulates a product from an outside environment as well as insulating an end user from the product inside the container. In particular, the subject application is directed to an insulating food storage container capable of being used for both cold and hot food.

Foods, both hot and cold, typically require storage in a temperature suitable to maintain the nature of the food product. Ice cream generally requires storage at temperatures ranging from −16° C. to −4° C., depending on percentage of water concentration. Hot foods, such as soups and teas, can reach 100° C. In the retail setting, merchants often sell individual servings of food products, which are distributed to the consumer directly from much larger containers. This is a time-consuming proposition, requiring the employment of a dedicated server or dispenser at a place of business. Various methods have been used to overcome this, including packaging the product in individual containers. The composition, design, and functionality of these containers rests on the disposable nature of the container, the ability to stack and de-nest these containers, and the ease and expense of manufacturing and filling the container. Unfortunately, some products have relatively low melting points, losing product cohesion, such as ice cream. A consumer purchasing an individually packaged serving of ice cream is expected to ingest the product prior to the product melting. Merely holding the product results in the transfer of heat from the consumer to the product, increasing the rate at which the product melts. The inverse is also possible, as when a hot soup transfers heat to the hand of the end user, causing discomfort. Various attempts have been made to overcome these problems. A first method involves the use of STYROFOAM containers, which have insulating properties. The problems associated with STYROFOAM include low structural integrity and rigidity relative to cost and size, and the material's inability to be effectively integrated into contemporary filling machinery. A second method involves the use of paper containers of various thicknesses, so as to provide a greater barrier against the transfer of heat to the product or from the product. Unfortunately, paper products are increasingly expensive and are prone to absorption of the product. That is, as the product melts, the paper absorbs some or all of the moisture inherent to the product. The paper absorbs even more moisture when the paper container is used for liquid products. Various coatings may be used to prevent this absorption, but these coatings add to the expense and fail to overcome the heat transfer problems noted above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, there is provided an insulating product storage container that insulates a product from an outside environment as well as insulating an end user from the product inside the container.

Further in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, there is provided an insulating food storage container for cold food.

Still further in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, there is provided an insulating food storage container for hot food.

Yet further in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, there is provided an insulating food storage container for frozen food.

Still further in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, there is provided an insulating product storage container comprising a double-walled cup, including a first cup member and a second cup member adapted for nesting inside the first cup member. The double-walled cup further comprises an insulating space and a top opening. The insulating space is formed by at least a part of an interior surface of the first cup member and at least a part of an exterior surface of the second cup member.

In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, each of the first cup member and the second cup member further comprises a corresponding circumferential lip protruding outwardly with respect to an interior of the double-walled cup. The corresponding circumferential lips are positioned generally adjacent to the top opening of the double-walled cup. At least a part of the lip of the first cup member is adhesively engaged with at least a part of the lip of the second cup member, thereby forming a sealed heat-insulating space.

Further, in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the sealed heat-insulating space is formed by welding of at least a part of the lip of the first cup member and at least a part of the lip of the second cup member.

Still other advantages, aspects, and features of the subject application will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description, wherein there is shown and described a preferred embodiment of the subject application, simply by way of illustration of one of the best modes best suited to carry out the subject application. As it will be realized, the subject application is capable of other different embodiments, and its several details are capable of modifications in various obvious aspects, all without departing from the scope of the subject application. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions will be regarded as illustrative in nature and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject application is described with reference to certain figures, wherein:

FIG. 1a is side view of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 1b is a top view of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 1c is a cross-sectional view of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 2 is a detailed view of a top portion of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 3 is a detailed view of a bottom portion of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an insulating product storage container according to another embodiment of the subject application; and

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a stack of insulating product storage containers according to one embodiment of the subject application.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The subject application is directed to an insulating product storage container that insulates a product from an outside environment, as well as insulating an end user from the product inside the container. In particular, the subject application is directed to an insulating food storage container capable of being used for both cold and hot food, including frozen food. It will become apparent to those skilled in the art that the insulating product storage container described herein is suitably adapted to a plurality of various fields employing insulating containers, including, for example and without limitation, food preparation, food storage, product advertisements, or the like. The preferred embodiment, explained in greater detail below, is applied to a food storage and display field for frozen food items including, for example and without limitation, frozen ice cream, flash frozen products, and other products that require heat insulating packaging. Thus, the current example embodiment is not a limitation of the subject application solely to such a field.

Referring now to FIGS. 1a, 1b, and 1c, there are shown a side view, a top view, and a cross-sectional view, respectively, of an insulating product storage container 100 in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the insulating product storage container 100 is capable of storing a frozen product, such as, for example and without limitation, ice cream, custard, ice, pudding, gelatin, or the like. As shown in FIGS. 1a, 1b, and 1c, the insulating product storage container 100 includes a double-walled cup 102. The double-walled cup 102 includes a first cup member 104 and a second cup member 106. The second cup member 106 is adapted for nesting inside the first cup member 104. The double-walled cup 102 further includes an insulating space 108 and a top opening 110. The heat-insulating space 108 is formed by at least a part of an interior surface of the first cup member 104 and at least a part of an exterior surface of second the cup member 106.

Each of the first cup member 104 and the second cup member 106 further includes a corresponding circumferential lip 112, 114, respectively. The lips 112, 114 protrude outwardly with respect to the interior 116 of the double-walled cup 102 and are positioned generally adjacent to the top opening 110 of the double-walled cup 102. At least a part of the lip 112 of the first cup member 104 is adhesively engaged with at least a part of the lip 114 of the second cup member 106, thereby forming the sealed heat-insulating space 108. The latter will be illustrated in greater detail below with respect to FIG. 2.

The sealed insulating space 108 is preferably formed by welding a part of the lip 112 and a part of the lip 114. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, welding is capable of being performed, for example and without limitation, by means of ultrasonic welding, spin welding, vibration welding, IRAM laser welding, linear vibration, orbital vibration, and hot plate welding. The sealed insulating space 108 is capable of being filled with an insulating material, such as, for example and without limitation, air, noble gas, or other gaseous material having insulating properties, as will be known in the art. Other suitable seals, such as induction or conduction seals, are equally capable of being implemented in accordance with the subject application. As shown in FIG. 1, the double-walled cup 102 further includes a circumferential shoulder 118 protruding outwardly with respect to the interior 116 of the double-walled cup 102. The shoulder 118 is positioned generally adjacent to the lip 112 of the first cup member 104. As will be explained in greater detail below with respect to FIG. 5, the shoulder 118 provides for stacking of the double-walled cup 102 when shipping and packaging in an empty state.

In accordance with one embodiment of the subject application, the first and second cup members 104, 106 are manufactured using any plastic molding methods known in the art including, for example and without limitation, thermoforming, injection molding, extrusion molding, blow molding, vacuum molding, dip molding, or any other manufacturing techniques known in the art to be capable of forming plastic into suitable shapes. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the type of molding used to form the first and second cup members 104, 106 may depend upon the material selected for the first and second cup members 104, 106. Furthermore, the skilled artisan will appreciate that the method of manufacture for the first cup member 104 may differ from that of the second cup member 106 so as to enable faster production, meet different thickness requirements or rigidity standards, or the like. Preferably, the first and second cup members 104, 106 are comprised of a relatively inexpensive material so as to render such cup members 104, 106 disposable and/or recyclable.

Turning now to FIG. 2, there is shown a detailed view of a top portion 200 of an insulating product storage container according to one embodiment of the subject application. Shown in FIG. 2 are a lip 202 of a first cup member 204 and a lip 206 of a second cup member 208. Further shown in FIG. 2 are an upper side portion 210 of the lip 202 of the first cup member 204 and an underside portion 212 of the lip 206 of the second cup member 208. Part of the underside portion 212 of the lip 206 rests on a part 214 of the upper side portion 210 of the lip 202 and is adhesively engaged with it. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, a sealed insulating space 216 is thereby formed. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the configurations illustrated in FIG. 2 are for example purposes only and are not intended to limit the subject application.

Turning now to FIG. 3, there is shown a detailed view of a bottom portion 300 of an insulating product storage container, according to one embodiment of the subject application. Shown in FIG. 3 are a first cup member 302 and a second cup member 304. As shown in FIG. 300, the first cup member 302 includes a center portion 306 that is raised with respect to a periphery portion 308 of a bottom portion of the first cup member 302. Further shown in FIG. 3 is a portion of a sealed insulating space 310. The raised center portion 306 has a truncated conical shape, as illustrated in FIG. 3. However, as will be appreciated by a skilled artisan, the raised center portion 306 is capable of having any other suitable shape. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the configurations illustrated in FIG. 3 are for example purposes only and are not intended to limit the subject application. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other bottom designs are capable of being implemented in accordance with the subject application.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a cross-sectional view of an insulating product storage container 400, in accordance with one embodiment of the subject application. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the insulating product storage container 400, the same as the insulating product storage container 100 illustrated in FIG. 1, is capable of storing a frozen product, such as, for example and without limitation, ice cream, custard, ice, pudding, gelatin, or the like. The insulating product storage container 400 is also capable of storing a hot product, such as a tea and the like. As shown in FIG. 4, the insulating product storage container 400 includes a double-walled cup 402. The double-walled cup 402 includes a first cup member 404 and a second cup member 406. The second cup member 406 is adapted for nesting inside the first cup member 404. The double-walled cup 402 further includes a heat-insulating space 408 and a top opening 410. The insulating space 408 is formed by at least a part of an interior surface of the first cup member 404 and at least a part of an exterior surface of the second cup member 406.

As will be recognized by a skilled artisan, other elements of the insulating product storage container 400, not shown in detail in FIG. 4, are capable of implementation analogous to that described above with reference to FIGS. 1, 2, and 3. It will be further understood by those skilled in the art that the configurations of the insulating product storage container 100 and 400, shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, are for example purposes only, and the subject application is capable of implementation in any of a myriad of shapes and dimensions. In the insulating product storage containers 100 and 400, the double-walled cup 102, 402, respectively, has an inverse truncated conical shape. However, other suitable shapes are equally applicable without departing from the scope of the subject application. Suitable shapes include, for example and without limitation, trapezoidal, rectangular, square, triangular, hexagonal, pentagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, or the like. A skilled artisan will further appreciate that the overall dimensions of the insulating product storage containers 100 and 400, as well as dimensions of any parts of respective containers, are solely for illustration purposes. Any other suitable dimensions and relationships between elements and parts of the insulating product storage containers 100 and 400 are capable of being implemented without departing from the scope of the subject application.

Turning now to FIG. 5, there is shown a stack 500 of insulating product storage containers according to one embodiment of the subject application. The stack 500 includes insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508. Each of the insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508 includes a corresponding circumferential shoulder 510, 512, 514, and 516 protruding outwardly with respect to the interior of the respective double-walled insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508. As show in FIG. 5, the circumferential shoulders 510, 512, 514, and 516 advantageously allow stacking of the insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508. For example, the shoulder 510 of the insulating product storage container 502 rests on the welded lips of the insulating product storage container 504, the shoulder 512 of the insulating product storage container 504 rests on the welded lips of the insulating product storage container 506, and so on. A skilled artisan will appreciate that the stack 500 suitably allows for convenient shipping and packaging of the insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508 in an empty state. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the stack 500 including four insulating product storage containers 502, 504, 506, and 508 is presented herein for illustration purposes only. The stack 500 is capable of including any suitable number of insulating product storage containers conforming to respective storage and/or packaging facilities.

With respect to embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 5, the material of at least one cup member is, preferably, characterized by a low thermal conductivity. More preferably, the material is a thermoplastic material, such as, for example and without limitation, polypropylene, poly-styrene, polyester, polyethylene, or any suitable plastic material known in the art. The skilled artisan will appreciate that other materials are capable of being used to construct either the first cup member or the second the inner cup, or both. It will be further understood by those skilled in the art that the size of the double-walled cup, i.e., the dimensions associated with double-walled cup, are capable of being varied in accordance with the application, e.g., product, stored therein.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the foregoing embodiments of an insulating product storage container enable distribution and storage of frozen articles, such as ice cream, without allowing heat from the consumer to be transferred through the container, thereby melting the frozen article. The foregoing embodiments of an insulating product storage container further enable individual distribution and storage of hot food products and cold food products, such as soups and teas, both hot and cold. The latter is particularly advantageous with respect to individual servings pre-packaged for retail, such as would be employed at grocery stores, sporting events, concerts, amusement parks, theme parks, and the like.

The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment of the subject application has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the subject application to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiment was chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the subject application and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to use the subject application in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the subject application as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally, and equitably entitled.