Title:
TUBE MULTI-PACK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to a generally tube shaped multi-pack that includes multiple containers positioned within two layers of welded plastic sheet having an integral handle, resulting in a package of two or more containers and a flexible plastic handle extending therefrom.



Inventors:
Marco, Leslie S. (Westmont, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/013550
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/14/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/469, 383/109, 383/119, 383/207
International Classes:
B65D33/10; B65B5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pauley Petersen & Erickson (Hoffman Estates, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A multi-pack of containers comprising: a flexible plastic sheet formed in a tube having a first opening and an opposite second opening; an integrated handle formed along one longitudinal edge of the flexible plastic sheet; a pair of welds, an upper weld of the pair of welds positioned along the one longitudinal edge and a lower weld of the pair of welds positioned opposite the upper weld along a lower edge of the tube; a plurality of containers inserted within the tube; and a seal formed across each of the first opening and the second opening.

2. The multi-pack of claim 1 further comprising: an end tab extending outwardly from the first opening or the second opening to form sealable portions at each end of the tube.

3. The multi-pack of claim 1 wherein the handle is formed within the flexible plastic sheet and extends entirely across a length of the tube.

4. The multi-pack of claim 1 where in the flexible plastic sheet is formed of a low density polyethylene polymer.

5. The multi-pack of claim 1 wherein a perimeter of the tube is generally rectangular to accommodate a plurality of generally rectangular containers.

6. The multi-pack of claim 1 wherein the upper weld and the lower weld join two or more layers of the flexible sheet.

7. The multi-pack of claim 1 wherein the pair of welds each comprise a lamination joining two layers of the flexible sheet.

8. The multi-pack of claim 1 wherein the containers are stacked in pairs across a length of the tube.

9. A multi-pack for carrying containers comprising: a flexible plastic sheet formed in a tube having a first opening and an opposite second opening; an integrated handle formed along one longitudinal edge of the flexible plastic sheet; a pair of welds, one weld positioned along the one longitudinal edge and another weld positioned along a lower edge of the tube; and an end tab extending outwardly from each of the first opening and the second opening to form sealable portions at each end of the tube.

10. The multi-pack of claim 9 further comprising: a pair of end tabs extending outwardly from each of the first opening or the second opening.

11. The multi-pack of claim 9 wherein the integrated handle is formed within the flexible plastic sheet and extends entirely across a length of the tube.

12. The multi-pack of claim 9 wherein the pair of welds join two or more layers of the flexible sheet.

13. The multi-pack of claim 12 wherein the pair of welds each comprise a lamination joining the two or more layers of the flexible sheet.

14. The multi-pack of claim 9 further comprising: a line of weakness formed along the plastic sheet.

15. A method of forming a multi-pack of containers comprising the steps of: providing two layers of a flexible plastic sheet; welding the two layers of flexible plastic sheet along a top and a bottom; forming a flexible plastic sheet into a tube having a first opening and an opposite second opening; integrating a handle along one longitudinal edge of the flexible plastic sheet; inserting a plurality of containers within the tube; and forming seals across each of the first opening and the second opening.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising the step of: inserting multiple stacks of containers within the tube.

17. The method of claim 15 further comprising the step of: punching the two layers of flexible plastic sheet to form the handle.

18. The method of claim 15 further comprising the step of: forming a line of weakness into the flexible plastic sheet.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/881,737, filed 18 Jan. 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a flexible tube style multi-pack with an integral handle for unitizing a plurality of containers.

2. Description of Prior Art

Conventional multi-packs are generally paperboard sleeves, cartons or boxes into which yogurt cups, cat food cans, tuna cans and similar such containers may be inserted to unitize a group of two or more such containers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, a multi-pack preferably includes two layers of a generally planar flexible sheet having a first opening and a second opening defining outer edges thereof and upper and lower welds defining longitudinal edges thereof. An integral handle is preferably formed along one side of the multi-pack.

Accordingly, multiple containers may be placed within the multi-pack and the first and/or second openings may then be sealed or otherwise closed to enclose the containers within the multi-pack. The resulting package may be displayed and carried using the integral handle and preferably clearly displays the enclosed containers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above-mentioned and other features and objects of this invention will be better understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a tube multi-pack according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the tube multi-pack shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a tube multi-pack according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the tube multi-pack shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the tube multi-pack shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a side perspective view of a tube multi-pack according to one preferred embodiment of this invention; and

FIG. 7 is a front view of the tube multi-pack shown in FIG. 6.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-7 show various preferred embodiments of a tube multi-pack for unitizing a group of containers into an easily portable package.

FIGS. 1 and 2 show multi-pack 10 for carrying one or more containers 80, according to various preferred embodiments of this invention. Containers 80, such as those shown in packages 90 in FIGS. 3-7, are preferably short containers such as yogurt cups, pet food cans, tuna cans and similarly sized and proportioned containers. Although pet food cans are shown in FIGS. 3-7, similar containers 80 may be used with multi-pack 10 according to this invention. Containers 80 are preferably like-sized within a single multi-pack 10.

Multi-pack 10 unitizes one or more containers 80 to create package 90, such as package 90 shown in FIGS. 3-5. Multi-pack 10 preferably comprises a flexible plastic sheet 15 preferably constructed from a flexible, resilient material such as, in one preferable embodiment, low density polyethylene. For most applications, the flexible plastic sheet 15 may have a thickness of about 5-30 mils, commonly about 10-20 mils.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, the flexible plastic sheet 15 used to form multi-pack 10 is formed using a polymer composition which includes a high pressure low density polyethylene polymer. The composition provides the multi-pack 10 with improved recovery after stretch, improved elongation and strength at break, and improved resistance to tearing when the multi-pack is notched or scratched. The low density polyethylene polymer should have a density of about 0.910-0.950, grams/cm3, suitably about 0.920-0.940 grams/cm3, desirably about 0.925-0.935 grams/cm3. In other words, the term “low density polyethylene polymer” includes polyethylene polymers commonly considered as having medium density, as well as polyethylene polymers commonly considered as having low density.

Alternatively, “plastic” sheet 15 may be formed of a higher density plastic, paperboard, or any similar material having desirable strength and flexibility properties.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, two layers of plastic sheet 15 are preferably cut, using means known to those skilled in the art, such as a stamping die, to form a perimeter of multi-pack 10. Multi-pack 10 is preferably formed in a desired shape to generally correspond with a width of individual container 80 to be inserted and a length of the plurality of containers 80 to be inserted. Such perimeter is preferably generally rectangular though any suitable shape that accommodates the plurality of containers 80 may be used.

As described, multi-pack 10 preferably includes two layers of a planar, plastic sheet 15 having first opening 20 and second opening 25 defining outer edges thereof. According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, plastic sheet 15 is arranged in two discrete layers however plastic sheet 15 may be folded over to form two layers. In addition, end tabs 45 may extend outwardly from first opening 20 and/or second opening 25 to form closeable or sealable portions of multi-pack 10 following insertion of containers 80. End tabs 45 are preferably formed in both layers of plastic sheet 15 and adjoined or sealed to each other to enclose package 90.

The two layers of plastic sheet 15 may additionally be joined across a top and bottom of multi-pack 10 using upper weld 40 and lower weld 50, as best shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, extending longitudinally across multi-pack 10. As shown in FIGS. 1-5, welds 40, 50 preferably extend longitudinally across top and bottom, respectively, of multi-pack 10 and specifically extend longitudinally generally along each edge of multi-pack 10. Welds 40, 50 may comprise any suitable reinforcement that joins two or more layers of flexible sheet 15 together. “Weld” as used in the specification and claims may be defined as a hot weld, cold weld, lamination or any other manner of connection that joins two sheets of material known to those having ordinary skill in the art.

As a result of the preferred placement of welds 40, 50 along edges of plastic sheet 15, multi-pack 10 is formed into a generally tube-like structure that may accommodate multiple containers 80. Containers 80 are preferably end loaded into either open end of multi-pack 10, specifically first opening 20 and/or second opening 30.

As shown in FIGS. 1-7, handle 60 is preferably positioned on multi-pack 10 adjacent to one of welds 40, 50, specifically, by definition, upper weld 40. Handle 60 is preferably positioned on multi-pack 10 to provide an ample area for a purchaser to grab by inserting his hand or fingers through and still maintain the integrity of multi-pack 10.

Handle 60 may comprise finger aperture 65 positioned within an extension of at least one layer of plastic sheet 15, such as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. According to a preferred embodiment of this invention shown in FIG. 3-5, handle 60 is formed in only one of two layers of plastic sheet 15, and preferably in a lower layer of plastic sheet 15 such that handle 60 is positioned in the same plane as the lower layer of plastic sheet 15 thereby facilitating loading of containers 80 into multi-pack 10.

According to one preferred embodiment of this invention shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, handle 60 is preferably centered over containers 80 within multi-pack 10. Welds 40, 50 may be specifically positioned so as to result in this configuration. In addition, end tabs 45 are sufficiently aligned with respect to each other to facilitate sealing first and second openings 30, 40.

Alternatively, handle 60 may be formed in an upper layer of plastic sheet 15 or in both layers of plastic sheet 15 through multi-pack 10. One or more additional welds may be placed across handle 60 in an embodiment of handle 60 having two layers of plastic sheet 15.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, at least one line of weakness 70 extends across at least one layer of plastic sheet 15 of multi-pack 10. As shown in FIG. 1, two spaced and generally parallel lines of weakness 70, forming a “zipper,” extend across an upper portion of multi-pack 10, preferably below upper weld 40. A pull tab may be positioned on one or both sides of the zipper to facilitate pulling.

Lines of weakness 70 may comprise perforations, serrations, slits, reduced thickness or combination thereof formed in plastic sheet 15 and are preferably tearable or frangible to permit separation of plastic sheet 15 along a defined line. Package 90, such as shown in FIGS. 3-5, may be opened along line of weakness 70 by tearing line(s) of weakness 70 and separating plastic sheet 15 along the one or more lines of weakness 70. Following such separation, containers 80 are preferably readily accessible within package 90.

According to embodiments of the invention best shown in FIGS. 3-5, a method of packaging containers 80 preferably includes inserting two or more containers 80 into first opening 20 and/or second opening 30 in multi-pack 10. First opening 20 and/or second opening 30 may then be closed and sealed, such as by closure of end tabs 45. The resulting package 90 preferably includes a sealed multi-pack 10 containing multiple containers 80 that is portable and/or displayable with handle 60.

According to one preferred embodiment of this invention, two or more layers of containers 80 may be placed in one or more rows within multi-pack 10. The resulting package 90 of two or more containers 80 may then be displayed, lifted and carried using handle 50. For instance, FIG. 5 is shown with a single row of three containers 80 inserted. One or more additional rows may also be inserted beneath the row shown in FIG. 5 to double, triple or similarly multiply the number of containers 80 accommodated within package 90.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, multi-pack 10 is formed of generally transparent plastic sheet 15. However other materials and compositions of plastic sheet 15 may be used. For instance, a lower layer of plastic sheet 15 may be formed of a generally opaque pigmented material and an upper layer of plastic sheet may be transparent, tinted, printed or similarly configured to best display the included containers 80 within package 90. Any other similar configurations may be combined that result in an aesthetically pleasing and/or functional package 90.

While in the foregoing specification this invention has been described in relation to certain preferred embodiments thereof, and many details have been set forth for purpose of illustration, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that multi-pack 10 and the related method of manufacture are susceptible to additional embodiments and that certain of the details described herein can be varied considerably without departing from the basic principles of the invention.