Title:
FOLDED AND GLUED DISPLAY CONTAINER HAVING SHELF ELEMENTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A folded and glued container has panels defining a back panel and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls and one or more shelf panels attached to the back panel and extending laterally between the two sidewalls. The container is constructed as a compact folded and glued container that can be readily erected by the end user and provides one or more shelf or partition like structures formed in part by panels that are affixed, in addition to an integral die cut panel, when processing the container in a fold and glue machine line.



Inventors:
Sheffer, Phil B. (Newtown, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/622658
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/12/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030080178Packaging and packaging materialMay, 2003Sharp et al.
20070164095Composite containers and methods for sealing the sameJuly, 2007Schuetz
20030140015Counter-terror envelopeJuly, 2003Applebaum
20100089003SEAL INTEGRITY FOR MAILPIECE ENVELOPESApril, 2010Reichelsheimer et al.
20020079358Prevention of loss of produce transported in flatsJune, 2002Biddle
20030230626Mailer, method and device for automatically inserting media thereinDecember, 2003Rones
20030164397Enhancement in disposable packaging for several types of foodSeptember, 2003Robinson
20050150894LEAKAGE PROTECTIONJuly, 2005Stribling et al.
20070215682CARTON HAVING HANDLING-FACILITATING APERTURESSeptember, 2007Bates et al.



Primary Examiner:
ROHRHOFF, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BLANK ROME LLP (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A folded and glued container comprising: a plurality of panels defining a back panel and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls, each sidewall being joined to the back panel; one or more shelf panels attached to the back panel and extending laterally between the two sidewalls; a facing panel joined to each of said shelf panels; an inner facing panel joined to each of said facing panels; and a pair of facing supports provided for supporting each of said facing panels in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to one of said sidewalls and the other facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said sidewalls.

2. The container of claim 1, further comprising longitudinally opposite top and bottom end walls joined to the back panel.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein the top end wall attaches to each of the sidewalls by one or more locking tabs.

4. The container of claim 2, wherein the bottom end wall attaches to each of the sidewalls by one or more locking tabs.

5. The container of claim 2, further comprising: a facing panel joined to the top end wall; an inner facing panel joined to said facing panel of said top end wall; and an additional pair of facing supports provided for supporting said top end wall's facing panel in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said additional pair of facing supports being joined to one of said sidewalls and the other facing support of said additional pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said sidewalls.

6. The container of claim 2, further comprising: a facing panel joined to the bottom end wall; an inner facing panel joined to said facing panel of said bottom end wall; and an additional pair of facing supports provided for supporting said bottom end wall's facing panel in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said additional pair of facing supports being joined to one of said sidewalls and the other facing support of said additional pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said sidewalls.

7. The container of claim 2, wherein said pairs of facing supports joined to said sidewalls extend from the sidewalls at an incline to hold said one or more shelf panels at said incline and said container further comprising: a shelf-forming extension panel joined to the bottom end wall's inner facing panel and attachable to the back panel by at least one locking tab for forming a shelf at said incline.

8. A folded and glued container comprising: a plurality of panels defining a back panel and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls, each sidewall having an outer sidewall panel joined to the back panel, and a plurality of inner sidewall panels joined to the outer sidewall panel; and one or more shelf panels attached to the back panel and extending laterally between the two sidewalls, the shelf panels being joined to inwardly folded bellows panels extending between the shelf panels and the outer sidewall panels such that when the sidewalls are erected from a knocked-down-flat configuration to an orientation perpendicular to the back panel, the shelf panels are raised from a knocked-down-flat configuration to form shelves between the two sidewalls.

9. The container of claim 8, further comprising: a facing panel joined to each of said shelf panels; an inner facing panel joined to each of said facing panels; and a pair of facing supports provided for supporting each of said facing panels in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to one of said outer sidewall panels and the other facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said outer sidewall panels.

10. The container of claim 8, further comprising: longitudinally opposite top and bottom end walls joined to the back panel; inwardly folded bellows panels extending between the top and bottom end walls and the sidewalls connecting the sidewalls to the top and bottom end walls such that when the top and bottom end walls are pulled upwardly, the sidewalls are erected from a knocked-down-flat configuration to said orientation perpendicular to the back panel.

11. The container of claim 10, wherein the bottom end wall comprises a facing panel joined to the bottom end wall panel; an inner facing panel joined to said facing panel; and a pair of facing supports provided for supporting said facing panel in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to one of said outer sidewall panels and the other facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said outer sidewall panels.

12. A folded and glued container comprising: a plurality of panels defining a back panel, longitudinally opposite top and bottom end walls joined to the back panel, and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls, each sidewall having an outer sidewall panel joined to the back panel, and a plurality of inner sidewall panels joined to the outer sidewall panel; one or more shelf panels attached to the back panel and extending laterally between the two sidewalls, the shelf panels being joined to inwardly folded bellows panels extending between the shelf panels and the outer sidewall panels such that when the sidewalls are erected from a knocked-down-flat configuration to an orientation perpendicular to the back panel, the shelf panels are raised from a knocked-down-flat configuration to form shelves between the two sidewalls; a facing panel joined to each of said shelf panels; an inner facing panel joined to each of said facing panels; a pair of facing supports provided for supporting each of said facing panels in the erected state of the container, one facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to one of said outer sidewall panels and the other facing support of said pair of facing supports being joined to the other of said outer sidewall panels; and inwardly folded bellows panels extending between the top and bottom end walls and the sidewalls connecting the sidewalls to the top and bottom end walls such that when the top and bottom end walls are pulled upwardly, the sidewalls are erected from a knocked-down-flat configuration to said orientation perpendicular to the back panel.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to paperboard, corrugated craft and similar containers made in a fold and glue line and typically supplied in a collapsed or knocked-down-flat configuration that can be readily erected. According to one aspect, two or more separately integral pieces of stock are assembled and can be erected to form a tier of shelves.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Corrugated and paperboard containers are made from pieces of flat stock that are typically die cut into shapes that define various panels. The shapes are folded along strategic lines between the panels, and at least one overlapping strip or panel is typically glued, taped or otherwise affixed to another panel to form a closed perimeter. The various panels are intended to become the walls, top and/or bottom of a full or partial enclosure when folded into place. Often, the containers are supplied in a collapsed or flattened parallelogram state (known as knocked-down-flat or “KDF”), for efficient storage, handling and shipping. Before packing, the containers are opened out into a hollow form and the panels are folded to reside in orthogonal planes.

Such containers can be more or less complicated. A simple version known as the regular slotted carton (RSC) has four side walls, each of which has a top and bottom flap. More complicated versions have doubled-over panels, reinforcing folded parts, inter-engaging tabs and slots and other features.

Such containers advantageously are produced by feeding flat integral die cut sheets through a fold-and-glue machine, such as those available from Bobst Group, Inc. of Roseland, N.J., to apply adhesive and preliminarily to fold over select panels so that the panels are adhered in a KDF state for shipping or storage, ready to be erected into their final configuration by articulating the panels around adjoining folds. A simple RSC version is erected by pressing inwardly from diagonally opposite corners and folding the flaps inwardly by 90° from their adjoined panels. In relatively more complicated full or partial containers, various panels may need to be folded in appropriate directions in appropriate order. Various tabs may need to be inserted into respective slots and so forth.

Containers as described can be used for displaying items or goods for the consumers at the point-of-sale location. Minimizing the effort and complication required to erect and set up the containers is an important factor for the viability and success of the particular container design. Thus, the number of parts required to erect or assemble the containers from their KDF configuration is an important element in the acceptability of the container design.

Generally, a container design is most efficient if most or all of its panels, tabs and other parts are integral panels and extensions of panels cut from a single flat blank, i.e., integral parts of the same sheet of material. Separate discrete parts such as separate lids, inserted partitions, shelves, reinforcing inserts and the like require attention to inventory, manual assembly steps and other complications during the production, erection and set up of the container. Separate parts are not desirable.

For these reasons, conventional KDF-type containers routinely are provided in a single piece flat blanks wherein all the panels necessary to construct or erect a container are members of a single sheet of stock material, cut out along an outline and scored or perforated at fold lines so as to provide all the necessary parts in an integral unit. The various seams are glued and the various folding connections between panels are cut, scored, compressed, etc.

The die cut integral blanks, preferably preliminarily weakened along prospective fold lines, are processed through the fold and glue machine. Glue is applied at preselected surfaces that are to overlap at seams. Panels are folded around fold joints. The KDF container blanks are thus produced and assembled in a state ready to be packed and shipped. For more complicated container designs, for example including lids or inserts, the KDF container blanks may be accompanied by separate discrete parts, but they add cost and require time for inventory attention, assembly and other reasons.

Because conventional KDF containers preferably are integral sheets, the panel layout design and general container complexity are limited. There is a need for ways to permit container designs to be made into complex structures, but without entailing complex parts and extensive assembly steps.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A folded and glued container according to an embodiment comprises a plurality of panels defining a back panel and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls, each sidewall being joined to the back panel. One or more shelf panels are attached to the back panel and extend laterally between the two sidewalls. A facing panel is joined to each of the shelf panels. An inner facing panel is joined to each of the facing panels and a pair of facing supports are provided for supporting the facing panel in the erected state of the container. One facing support in each of pair of facing supports is joined to one of the sidewalls and the other facing support of the pair is joined to the other of the sidewalls. The container also can include longitudinally opposite top and bottom end walls joined to the back panel. In the erected state of the container, the top and bottom end walls may be attached to each of the sidewalls by one or more locking tabs.

According to another embodiment, a folded and glued self-erecting container comprises a plurality of panels defining a back panel and laterally opposite first and second sidewalls. Each sidewall has an outer sidewall panel joined to the back panel and a plurality of inner sidewall panels joined to the outer sidewall panel. One or more shelf panels are attached to the back panel and extend laterally between the two sidewalls. The shelf panels are joined to inwardly folded bellows panels extending between the shelf panels and the outer sidewall panels such that when the sidewalls are erected from their knocked-down-flat configuration to an orientation perpendicular to the back panel, the shelf panels are raised from their knocked-down-flat configuration to form shelves between the two sidewalls. The shelf panels can function as shelves when the container is in an upright orientation or can also function as partitions when the container is laid down on its back panel.

In certain embodiments, a facing panel is joined to each of the shelf panels for forming a facing structure for each shelf. The facing structure functions as a retaining wall raised along the front edge of each of the shelves to retain the items being held by the shelves. Alternatively, in a similar structure the facing structure is below the front edge of each shelf and stiffens the shelf while allowing items to be moved freely over the front edge of the shelf, without obstruction. An inner facing panel is joined to each of the facing panel and a pair of facing supports are provided for supporting each of the facing panels in the erected state of the container. One facing support of the pair of facing supports is joined to one of the outer sidewall panels and the other facing support of the pair of facing supports is joined to the other of the outer sidewall panels.

In other embodiments, the folded and glued self-erecting container may further include top and bottom end walls, each of the top and bottom end wall panels are joined to inwardly folding bellows panels extending between them and the outer sidewall panels. When the sidewalls are erected from their knocked-down-flat configuration to an orientation perpendicular to the back panel, the top and bottom end wall panels are lifted automatically from their knocked-down-flat configuration. In some embodiments, one or both of the top and bottom end wall panels can be configured with facing panels and inner facing panels and corresponding facing supports provided along the outer sidewall panels allowing the top and/or bottom end walls to function as shelves.

According to another embodiment, one or both of the top and bottom end walls can be provided with a facing panel and an inner facing panel and associated facing supports joined to the outer sidewall panels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A number of additional objects and aspects are apparent from the appended description and the associated illustrations of preferred embodiments, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an erected container according to one embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the die-cut blank for the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the KDF container blank for the container of FIG. 1 that has been folded and glued from the die-cut blank of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 4a and 4b are perspective views of interim stages in erecting the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4c is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a shelf panel being assembled in FIG. 4b;

FIG. 5a is a perspective view of a container according to another embodiment;

FIG. 5b is a plan view of the KDF container blank for the container of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 6a is a perspective view of a container according to another embodiment;

FIG. 6b is a plan view of the KDF container blank for the container of FIG. 6a;

FIG. 7a is a perspective view of a container according to another embodiment;

FIG. 7b is a plan view of the die-cut blank for the container of FIG. 7a;

FIG. 7c is a perspective view of the KDF container blank for the container of FIG. 7a that has been folded and glued from the die-cut blank of FIG. 7b;

FIG. 8a is a perspective view of a self-erecting container according to another embodiment;

FIG. 8b is a plan view of the die-cut blank for the container of FIG. 8a;

FIG. 8c is a perspective view of the KDF container blank for the container of FIG. 8a that has been folded and glued from the die-cut blank of FIG. 8b;

FIG. 8d is a perspective view of the KDF container blank of FIG. 8c that is partially erected; and

FIG. 8e is a perspective view of the KDF container blank of FIG. 8c that is further partially erected.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As will be appreciated, terms such as “horizontal,” “vertical,” “left,” “right,” “up,” “down,” “top,” “bottom,” “front” and “back,” (etc.), used as nouns, adjectives or adverbs (e.g. “horizontally”, “rightward”, “upwardly”, “downwardly”, etc.) refer in this description to the orientation of the structure of the invention as it is illustrated in the particular drawing figure when that figure faces the reader. Such terms are not intended to limit the invention to a particular orientation. Similarly, the terms “longitudinal” and “lateral” generally refer to the orientation of surfaces or other structures relative to an axis of elongation or axis of rotation, as appropriate. The terms “integral”, “integrally connected” or “integrally joined” when used to describe the relationship between two or more structures means that the structures are comprised of a single piece of material.

The terms “connected” and “interconnected”, when used to describe the relationship between two or more structures, mean that such structures are secured or attached either directly or indirectly through intervening structures and include movable connections such as pivoting connections. The term “operatively” means that the foregoing direct or indirect connections between such structures allow the structures to operate as described and intended by virtue of such connection.

Lines representing fold lines are shown in the drawings by broken and solid lines that represent lines along which the material can be weakened or caused preferentially to fold by any of various means. For example, corrugated or other material can be compressed along a thin line defining a fold, or can be cut part way through along the line, or cut all or part way through the line at spaced intervals. Each of these and similar techniques form lines along which the material is folded or made readily foldable, in the knocked-down flat (“KDF”) blank and/or in the erected container.

Portions of joints in which glued surfaces are exposed to view in the drawings and discussed in this description are sometimes shown in the relevant figures by “XXX” patterns, representing an area to which adhesive has been or will be applied. Areas where the glue on a rear face of a respective panel is relevant are at times shown in broken line “XXX” patterns, indicating an adhering surface on a side opposite from the side shown (i.e., the backside).

FIG. 1 shows a container 10 according to an embodiment in erected configuration. The container 10 is a rectilinear container comprised of a plurality of panels, a back panel 20 and laterally opposing sidewall panels 30. The container 10 also includes one or more shelf panels 60 that are attached to the back panel 20. The shelf panels 60 extend between the sidewalls 30 and provides partitions for the container or function as shelves for displaying items when the container is used in vertical orientation as shown. Each of the shelf panels 60 include a facing panel 64 that is folded and oriented substantially perpendicular to the shelf panels 60 to retain items that are placed on the shelf panels 60. The container 10 is erected from a folded and glued KDF container blank 10b shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 2 shows a layout of a sheet of die-cut blank 10a including shelf panels 60 cut from a single flat blank sheet of stock material. The die-cut blank 10a can be cut, for example, from a sheet of corrugated board, paperboard or other suitable sheet material. A number of thicknesses can be die cut in a single step. However, the die-cut blank 10a preferably is cut out individually so that the blank can be scored or compressed along the fold lines, at the same time that the perimeter of the blank is cut from the sheet. The die-cut blank 10a is then folded and glued by a fold-and-glue machine to form the KDF container blank 10b.

The fold-and-glue process may be carried out by fold-and-glue machines, such as those available from Bobst Group, Inc. of Roseland, N.J., apply adhesive to pre-selected areas of the die-cut blank and preliminarily fold over pre-selected panels.

An aspect of the inventive product show is that for making KDF container blanks, such as the blank 10b, for various embodiments of the invention, the fold-and glue machine is caused to glue and attach certain separate supplemental pieces such as the shelf panels 60 to the integral main die-cut blanks 10a. As described herein, the addition of supplemental pieces to a blank enables a number of advantageous aspects to be achieved while using the capabilities of the fold and glue machine to apply adhesive at strategic places and to fold over various panels and tabs to form a KDF structure ready to be erected.

The die-cut blank 10a comprises a back panel 20, sidewall panels 30 and facing supports 32 that are cut from a single sheet of stock material and thus are integrally joined. The back panel 20 and the sidewall panels 30 are integrally joined across longitudinally extending fold lines 1f. The sidewall panels 30 and the facing supports 32 are integrally joined along longitudinally extending fold lines 2f. The facing supports 32 are provided with locking tabs 33 for engaging with the shelf panel 60 when the container 10 is erected.

The one or more shelf panels 60, including as associated sub-parts, attachment flaps 62, facing panels 64 and inner facing panels 66, can be die cut from the same sheet of stock material, but these parts are cut as individual pieces and are not integrally joined to the die-cut blank 10a when processed in the fold and glue machine. An attachment flap 62 is joined to the rest of the shelf panel 60 by a fold line 3f. A facing panel 64 is joined to the shelf panel 60 by a fold line 4f and the inner facing panel 66 is joined to the facing panel 64 by a fold line 5f. The inner facing panel 66 is provided with one or more locking tabs 67 and the shelf panels 60 are provided with corresponding locking tab receiving slots 65 for holding the shelf assemblies in their erected configuration.

The KDF container blank 10b is formed by gluing and attaching each of the shelf panels 60 to the back panel 20 portion of the die-cut blank 10a. The fold-and-glue machine applies glue to the glue areas G marked by “XXX” of the back panel 20 shown in FIG. 2. The fold-and-glue machine then picks up the one or more shelf panels 60, which are fed separately into the fold-and-glue machine as supplemental pieces, positions and attaches them to the back panel 20 so that the attachment flaps 62 of the shelf panels 60 align with the glue areas G. The result is a KDF container blank 10b shown in FIG. 3.

Referring to FIGS. 4a-4c, interim stages of erecting the container 10 from the KDF container blank 10b are illustrated. First, the sidewall panels 30 and the shelf panels 60 are folded up along the fold lines 1f and 3f, respectively, as shown in FIG. 4a. The facing supports 32 are then folded inwards along the fold lines 2f. A pair of facing supports 32, one joined to each of the opposing sidewall panels 30, is provided for each of the facing panel 60. The facing panels 64 are folded along the fold lines 4f towards the top of the container 10 as shown by the arrows A in FIG. 4b. As illustrated in FIG. 4c, which is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a shelf panel 60 in the final assembly configuration, the inner facing panels 66 are then folded down behind the facing supports 32 along the fold lines 5f until the locking tabs 67 provided along the edge of the inner facing panels 66 are inserted into the locking tab receiving slots 65 provided on the shelf panels 60. Folding the facing panels 64 and the inner facing panels 66 in this manner captures the facing supports 32 between the facing panels 64 and the inner facing panels 66. The locking tab 33 provided on the facing support 32 is shown engaged into the locking tab receiving slot 65 along with the locking tab 67 of the inner facing panel 66. In this embodiment, the facing supports 32 keep the facing panels 64 in upright position as shown in FIG. 1 and also provide the structural support for the shelves/partitions formed by the shelf panels 60.

Referring to FIGS. 5a and 5b, in another embodiment, longitudinally opposite top end wall panel 40 and bottom end wall panel 50 are provided to add additional structural rigidity to an embodiment with respective back and side walls forming an open-faced container 11. FIG. 5a shows a perspective view of the container 11 with the bottom end wall panel 50 in fully assembled position and the top end wall panel 40 in a partially assembled position.

KDF container blank 11b for the container 11 is shown in FIG. 5b. The top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 are integrally joined to the back panel 20. The top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 are configured with one or more locking tabs 42, 52, respectively. End flaps 34 extend from the longitudinally opposite ends of the sidewall panels 30 to provide locking tab receiving slots 35. To complete the erection of the container, the end flaps 34 are folded inwards along fold lines 6f. Then the top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 are folded inwards along fold lines 7f and 8f, respectively, and their locking tabs 42, 52 are folded and inserted into the locking tab receiving slots 35. If appropriate, the locations of the end flaps 34, locking tabs 42, 52, and the locking tab receiving slots 35 can be interchanged between the sidewall panels 30 and the end wall panels 40, 50. The KDF container blank 11b is similar to the KDF container blank 10b with the addition of the end flaps 34, the top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 and their associated locking tabs 42, 52 and the locking tab receiving slots 35.

Referring to FIGS. 6a and 6b, container 12 and its KDF container blank 12b according to another embodiment are illustrated. In this embodiment, one or both of the top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 may be configured as shelves also. In the illustrated example of the container 12 shown in FIG. 6a, both the top and bottom end wall panels are illustrated in shelf configuration. The top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 are provided with facing panels 64′ and inner facing panels 66′ and corresponding facing supports 32′ are provided on the sidewall panels 30. The bottom end wall panel 50 is configured similar to the shelf panels 60 with the difference being that the bottom end wall panel 50 is integrally joined to the back panel 20 along the fold line 8f rather than being glued to it. And the top end wall panel 40 is configured similar to the shelf panels 60 with the difference being that the top end wall panel 40 is integrally joined to the back panel 20 along the fold line 7f. But in this embodiment, the top end 31 of the sidewall panels 30 are extended longitudinally to provide the facing supports 32′ for the top end wall panel 40. As with the shelf panels 60, the inner facing panels 66′ of the top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 are provided with one or more locking tabs 67′ and corresponding number of locking tab receiving slots 65′ are provided. And as with the facing supports 32, the facing supports 32′ are provided with locking tabs 33′ for engaging with the locking tab receiving slots 65′ when the container 12 is in fully erected configuration.

In other embodiments, for better presentation of display items carried on the shelves, it may be desirable that the shelves in the container be disposed at a forward incline. FIGS. 7a and 7b illustrate an example of such a container 13, configured with shelf panels 60 that are inclined at an angle β. The incline angle for each shelf panel may be configured to a particular desired angle. As shown in the corresponding die-cut blank 13a in FIG. 7b, the sidewall panels 30 are configured to have the facing supports 32 extend from the sidewall panels 30 at the incline angle β. In this example, the top end wall panel 40 is provided with locking tabs 42 that mate with the locking tab receiving slots 35 provided on the end flaps 34 of the sidewall panels 30 when the container 13 is in its erect configuration. The end flaps 34 are provided at the top end of the side wall panels 30 and are integrally joined to the side wall panels along fold lines 6f. The locking tab receiving slots 35 are provided along the fold lines 6f to be in alignment with the locking tabs 42. As discussed previously, one or both of the top and bottom end wall panels 40, 50 may be configured to be a shelf. In the example illustrated in FIGS. 7a and 7b, the bottom end wall panel 50 is configured as such. The bottom end wall panel 50 which is integrally joined to the back panel 20 along the fold line 8f has a facing panel 54 integrally joined to it along the fold line 4f. An inner facing panel 56 is integrally joined to the facing panel 54 along the fold line 5f. And lastly, a shelf-forming extension panel 58 is integrally joined to the inner facing panel 56 along the fold line 9f. Also provided along the fold line 9f are one or more locking tabs 57 and provided along the fold line 4f are corresponding number of locking tab receiving slots 55.

The die-cut blank 13a includes one or more shelf panels 60, including the associated sub-parts, attachment flaps 62, facing panels 64 and inner facing panels 66 that are die cut from the same sheet of stock material, but are cut as individual pieces and are not integrally joined to the die-cut blank 13a. The attachment flap 62 is integrally joined to the rest of the shelf panel 60 by a fold line 3f. The facing panel 64 is integrally joined to the shelf panel 60 by a fold line 4f and the inner facing panel 66 is integrally joined to the facing panel 64 by a fold line 5f.

A KDF container blank 13b is formed by gluing and attaching each of the shelf panels 60 to the back panel 20 portion of the die-cut blank 13a. The fold-and-glue machine applies glue to the glue areas G marked by “XXX” of the back panel 20 shown in FIG. 7b. In this example, two shelf panels 60 are provided corresponding to the two sets of facing supports 32a, 32b and 32c, 32d. The fold-and-glue machine then picks up the one or more shelf panels 60, which are fed separately into the fold-and-glue machine as supplemental pieces, positions and attaches them to the back panel 20 so that the attachment flaps 62 of the shelf panels 60 align with the glue areas G. The result is a KDF container blank 13b shown in FIG. 7c in perspective view.

In erecting/assembling the container 13, the sidewall panels 30 are folded inwards along fold lines 1f. The facing supports 32a-f are then folded inwardly along the fold lines 2f. Each of the shelf panels 60 are erected by folding it outward along the fold lines 3f. Then, the facing panel 64 is folded along the fold line 4f toward the top of the container. The inner facing panels 66 are then folded down behind the facing supports 32a, 32b and 32c, 32d along fold lines 5f until locking tabs 67 are inserted into the locking tab receiving slots 65. The sequence of folding the facing panels 64 and inner facing panels 66 are similar to the steps shown in FIGS. 4b and 4c in reference to the corresponding panels in container 10. In this embodiment, the facing supports 32a-f keep the facing panels 64 orthogonal to the shelf panels 60 and provide structural support as well as functioning as a retaining wall for the shelf.

To form the bottom shelf structure, the bottom end wall panel 50 is folded towards the top of the container along the fold line 8f. Next, the facing panel 54 is folded up towards the top of the container along the fold line 4f. Next, the inner facing panel 56 is folded inwardly (i.e., towards the back panel 20) over onto the facing panel 54 so that the corresponding pair of facing supports 32e and 32f are held between the facing panel 54 and the inner facing panel 56. The shelf-forming extension panel 58 is then folded outwardly (i.e., away from the back panel 20) along the fold line 9f into an inclined position and the one or more locking tabs 59 of the shelf-forming extension panel 58 are inserted into the corresponding locking tab receiving slots 25 cut into the back panel 20. The locking tabs 57 engage into the locking tab receiving slots 55 of the bottom end wall panel 50 after the facing panel 54 and the inner facing panel 56 are folded over the facing supports 32e and 32f. The outline of the locking tabs 57 are die cut so that when the shelf-forming extension panel 58 is folded along the fold line 9f, the locking tabs 57 protrudes.

According to another aspect of the invention, the shelf structures formed by the supplemental pieces glued to the main die-cut blank by the fold-and-glue machine can be configured to be self-erecting. For example, referring to FIGS. 8a-8e, a self-erecting container 100 is illustrated. FIG. 8a shows a perspective view of the fully erected self-erecting container 100. The self-erecting container 100 comprises a back panel 120 and laterally opposite sidewalls 130, and longitudinally opposite top end wall 140 and a bottom end wall 150. The container 100 also includes one or more shelf panels 160c, 160d that are attached to the back panel 120. The shelf panels 160c, 160d extend between the sidewalls 130 and function as shelves for displaying items when the container 100 is used in vertical orientation as shown or provide partitions for the container when the container is used in horizontal orientation. Each of the shelf panels 160c, 160d may be provided with a facing panel 164 that is oriented substantially perpendicular to the shelf panels 160c, 160d that function as retaining wall for the shelves. In this embodiment, the bottom end wall 150 is also provided with a facing panel 154 similar to the facing panels 164 of the shelf panels 160c, 160d. The number of shelf panels provided in a given container may vary depending on the number of shelves desired.

Referring to FIG. 8b, a die-cut blank 100a for the container 100 is shown. The die-cut blank 100a includes shelf panels 160c, 160d that may be cut from the same blank sheet of stock material as the main section of the die-cut blank. As with the die-cut blanks for the other embodiments, the die-cut blank 100a can be cut, for example, from a sheet of corrugated board, paperboard or other suitable sheet material. The die-cut blank 100a is folded and glued by a fold-and-glue machine to form the KDF container blank 100b shown in FIG. 8c.

The die-cut blank 100a comprises the back panel 120, outer sidewall panels 137 integrally joined to the back panel 120 along fold lines f1 and a plurality of inner sidewall panels 139 integrally joined to the outer sidewall panel 137 along fold lines f10. Provided in between the inner sidewall panels 139 are facing supports 132 that are integrally joined to the outer sidewall panel 137 by fold lines f2. The number of facing supports along each of the outer sidewall panel 137 will depend on the number of shelves the particular embodiment of the container has. In the container 100 illustrated here, three shelves are provided (two from the shelf panels 160c, 160d and the third from the bottom end wall panel 150), thus, there are three facing supports 132 are provided along each of the outer sidewall panels 137 forming three pairs of facing supports. The facing supports 132 are provided with locking tabs 133 for engaging with the shelf panels 160c, 160d and the bottom end wall panel 150 when the container 100 is fully erected.

The top end wall panel 140 is integrally joined to the back panel 120 along fold line f7. The bottom end wall panel 150 is provided longitudinally opposite from the top end wall panel 140 and is integrally joined to the back panel 120 along fold line f8. The top and bottom end wall panels 140, 150 are integrally joined to the outer sidewall panels 137 by inwardly folding bellows panels 170a, 170b, respectively. The bellows panels 170a, 170b include glue regions G4, G5, respectively for gluing and bonding the bellows panels 170a, 170b to the outer sidewall panels 137. The top end wall panel 140 may further include a reinforcement flap 142 integrally joined to the top end wall panel along fold line f11. By gluing the glue region G3 and folding the reinforcement flap 142 over onto the region G3, the structural rigidity of the top end wall 140 can be improved by increasing its thickness.

The bottom end wall panel 150 is provided with a facing panel 154 that is integrally joined to it along fold line f4 and an inner facing panel 156 is integrally joined to the facing panel 154 along fold line f5. Along the edge of the inner facing panel 156 are one or more locking tabs 157 for engaging the locking tab receiving slots 155 provided on the bottom end wall panel 150 along the fold line f4 when the container is fully erected.

One or more shelf panels 160c, 160d, including their sub-parts are die cut from the same sheet of stock material as the main portion of the die-cut blank (the portion with the back panel 120), but are provided as individual supplemental pieces and are not integrally joined to the main portion of the die-cut blank when fed into a fold-and-glue machine. The fold-and-glue machine will glue and attach the shelf panels 160c, 160d to the main portion of the die-cut blank to form a KDF blank 100b. Each of the shelf panels 160c, 160d are configured similar to the shelf panels 60 of the container 10.

Each of the shelf panels 160c, 160d has an attachment flap 162 integrally joined to the shelf panel along a fold line f3. A facing panel 164 is integrally joined to each of the shelf panels along a fold line f4 and an inner facing panel 166 is joined to the facing panel 164 along a fold line f5. The inner facing panel 166 is provided with one or more locking tabs 167 and the shelf panels are provided with corresponding locking tab receiving slots 165 for holding the shelf assemblies in their erected configuration. Additionally, in this self-erecting embodiment, the shelf panels 160c, 160d are each provided with a pair of bellows panels 170c, 170d, respectively.

Referring to FIG. 8c, a KDF blank 100b constructed from the die-cut blank 100a by a fold-and-glue machine is shown. The fold-and-glue machine applies glue to the glue areas G6 and G7 and attaches the shelf panels 160c and 160d to the back panel 120 of the main portion of the die-cut blank. For example, the shelf panel 160c is attached by aligning the areas G6′ and the attachment flap 162 to the corresponding glued areas G6 and G1, respectively, on the back panel 120. Similarly, the shelf panel 160d is attached by aligning the areas G7′ and the attachment flap 162 to the corresponding glued areas G7 and G2, respectively, on the back panel 120. The glue areas G4 of the bellows panel 170a is then glued and the top end wall panel is folded over along the fold line f7, thus, attaching the glued areas G4 to the outer sidewall panels 137. The glue areas G5 of the bellows panel 170b is then glued and the bottom end wall panel 150 is folded over along the fold line f8, thus, attaching the glued areas G5 to the outer sidewall panels 137.

As shown in FIG. 8c, the top end wall panel 140, the shelf panels 160c, 160d, and the bottom end wall panel 150 are joined to inwardly folded bellows panels 170a, 170c, 170d, 170b, respectively, extending between these panels and the outer sidewall panels 137. By the operation of the inwardly folded bellows panels, when the outer sidewall panels 137 are erected from their KDF configuration to an orientation perpendicular to the back panel 120, the shelf panels 160c, 160d and the top and bottom end wall panels 140, 150 are raised from their KDF configuration so that the top end wall panel 140 forms a top end wall and the shelf panels 160c, 160d and the bottom end wall panel 150 form shelves between the two sidewalls.

FIG. 8d shows a partially erected KDF blank 100b in which the outer sidewall panels 137 are in fully vertical configuration and the top and bottom end wall panels 140, 150 and the shelf panels 160c, 160d, in turn, have been fully raised automatically by the operation of the associated inwardly folded bellows panels 170a, 170b, 170c, 170d. Next, each of the inner sidewall panels 139 are folded down inwards along the fold lines f10, as shown by the arrows B, until the locking tabs 139t of the inner sidewall panels 139 are inserted into the locking tab receiving slots 129 provided in the back panel 120. As shown in FIG. 8e, when the inner sidewall panels 139 are folded down and locked as described, the inner sidewall panels 139 capture the folded bellows panels 170a, 170b, 170c, 170d between the inner sidewall panels 139 and the outer sidewall panels 137. This secures the top and bottom end wall panels 140, 150 and the shelf panels 160c, 160d in the erected configuration.

Further referring to FIG. 8e, next, the facing supports 132 are folded inwards along the fold lines f2 as shown by the arrows C. The facing panels 164 and 154 are folded along the fold lines f4 towards the top of the container 100 and the inner facing panels 166 and 156 are then folded down behind the facing supports 132 along the fold lines f5 until the locking tabs 167 and 157 provided along the edges of the inner facing panels 166 and 156 are inserted into the corresponding locking tab receiving slots 165 and 155 provided on the shelf panels 160c, 160d and the bottom end wall panel 150. Folding the facing panels 164, 154 and the inner facing panels 166, 156 in this manner captures the facing supports 132 between the facing panels 164, 154 and the associated inner facing panels 166, 156. The facing supports 132 keep the facing panels 164, 154 in their erected position.

In another embodiment, a facing panel 164 can be joined to each of the shelf panels 160 for forming a facing for each shelf. Such facings function as retaining walls along the front edges of the shelves. An inner facing panel 166 is joined to each of the facing panel 164 and a pair of facing supports 132 are provided for supporting each of the facing panels in the erected state of the container. One facing support 132 of the pair of facing supports is joined to one of the outer sidewall panels 130 and the other facing support of the pair of facing supports is joined to the other of the outer sidewall panels 130.

The invention having been disclosed in connection with the foregoing variations and examples, additional variations will now be apparent to persons skilled in the art. The invention is not intended to be limited to the variations specifically mentioned. For example, in some other embodiments, the containers disclosed herein, both the self-erecting type as well as the non-self-erecting type, may be modified so that the shelf structures do not have the facing panels. In another example, the top end wall panel 140 of the container 100 may be replaced with another shelf panel similar to the shelf panels 160c and 160d so that the top end of the container 100 is another shelf. Accordingly reference should be made to the appended claims rather than the foregoing discussion of preferred examples, to assess the scope of the invention in which exclusive rights are claimed.