Title:
Case with compression bags
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A case for containing at least partly compressible articles comprises an outer shell which can be opened and closed and defines a cavity therewithin, and having an attachment member or members secured to the outer shell inside the cavity. A number of compression bags are contained within the shell cavity and are detachably retained by the attachment members such as to maintain a relative position with respect to one another within the case. Each of the compression bags includes is air impervious when sealed and can received the articles within the enclosure defined therein, and includes a one-way valve allowing air to be removed from the enclosure within the bag, thereby creating at least a partial vacuum in the enclosure which compresses the articles within the bag.



Inventors:
Martins, Norberto (Miami, FL, US)
Martins, Raquel (Miami, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/000449
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
12/12/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/23.83
International Classes:
A45C3/00; B65D21/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIRCH, STEWART, KOLASCH & BIRCH, LLP (FALLS CHURCH, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A case for containing at least partly compressible articles, the case comprising: an outer shell including at least two portions selectively and relatively movable with respect to one another between an opened and a closed configuration of the case, the outer shell defining a shell cavity therewithin accessible when the portions are in the opened configuration; at least one attachment member secured to the outer shell inside the cavity; and at least two compression bags contained within the shell cavity and detachably retained by the at least one attachment member such as to maintain a relative position with respect to one another, each of the bags including an air impervious material defining an enclosure therewithin and having a sealable opening defined in the bag permitting access to the enclosure, a sealing member located in each of the bags being selectively configurable between a sealed configuration where the opening is closed in an airtight manner and an opened configuration where the opening is open to allow access to the enclosure for inserting the articles therein through the opening, and wherein each of the bags includes a one-way valve therein allowing air to be removed from the enclosure, with the bag in the sealed configuration, to create at least a partial vacuum therein such as to compress the articles within the bag.

2. The case according to claim 1, further comprising at least one pressure bag disposed within one of the compression bags adjacent to the articles therein, the pressure bag being smaller than surrounding compression bag and acting to protect the articles from excessive compression when the vacuum is created within the compression bag.

3. The case according to claim 1, wherein the attachment member retains the bags so as to allow relative movement therebetween while maintaining the relative position of the bags.

4. The case according to claim 1, wherein at least two attachment members are secured to the outer shell inside the cavity, each of the bags being secured by all of the at least two attachment members.

5. The case according to claim 1, wherein the two portions of the outer shell are hinged together along adjacent edges, such as to relatively pivot between the opened and closed configurations.

6. The case according to claim 1, wherein the attachment members include two portions which are engageable and relatively displaceable between a closed position and an opened position, the attachment members engaging the bags in the closed position and disengaging the bags in the opened position such as to allow removal thereof from the case.

7. The case according to claim 6, wherein each of the attachment members is synchronized with the others to displace together between the closed and opened positions thereof.

8. The case according to claim 6, wherein the attachment members include binder-style ring attachments having two ring portions which are hingedly connected and pivotally displaceable between the closed and opened positions.

9. The case according to claim 6, wherein the attachment members include at least one of carabineers, quickdraws, buckles and ties.

10. The case according to claim 1, wherein the attachment members are fixed to a bottom panel of the outer shell within the cavity.

11. The case according to claim 1, wherein one of the two portions of the outer shell is comprised of a rigid material and the other is of the two portions of the outer shell is comprised of a flexible material.

12. The case according to claim 1, wherein the sealing member is an airtight zipper.

13. The case according to claim 1, further comprising an air pump integrated into the case, the air pump being engageable to the one-way valve of the bags such as to withdraw air from the enclosure of the bags and thereby create the vacuum therein.

14. The case according to claim 1, wherein the case is portable suitcase.

15. A storage system for at least partly compressible articles comprising: at least one air impervious compression bag having an opening for insertion of at least one article therethrough and a sealing member for selectively sealing the opening in an airtight manner, the first bag including a valve allowing air to flow therethrough in only one direction such that air is removable from the first bag via the valve to create a vacuum within the first bag, thereby compressing the articles contained in the first bag; and at least one air impervious pressure bag smaller than the compression bag so as to be received therein, the pressure bag including a valve allowing air to selectively flow therethrough to pressurize the pressure bag, the pressure bag being disposed in the compression bag such as to limit a compression of the at least one article.

16. The storage system according to claim 14, further comprising a case having an outer shell including at least two portions relatively movable between an opened and closed position, the portions in the closed position cooperating to define a cavity within the shell, the compression and pressure bags being received within the cavity.

17. The storage system according to claim 15, further comprising at least one attachment member secured to the outer shell inside the cavity, the compression bags contained within the shell cavity being detachably retained in place by the at least one attachment member.

18. The storage system according to claim 16, wherein at least two of the compression bags are contained within the cavity of the case, the at least one attachment member maintaining a relative position of the compression bags with respect to one another.

19. A method of controlling compression of an at least partly compressible article within a compression storage bag, the method comprising: placing a pressure bag in or adjacent to a portion of the article for which compression is to be controlled; inflating the pressure bag to a desired pressure and sealing the pressure bag to maintain the desired pressure therein; placing the article and pressure bag in the larger compression storage bag; and sealing the pressure bag and removing air from the compression storage bag to create negative pressure therein which compresses the article around the pressure bag, thereby reducing a necessary storage space for the article while generally maintaining its shape using the pressure bag.

20. The method according to claim 18, further comprising selecting the negative pressure created within the compression bag to correspond to the desired pressure within the pressure bag.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority on U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/869,847 filed Dec. 13, 2006, the entire contents of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to storage systems, more particularly to portable storage systems such as suitcases, luggage and the like.

BACKGROUND ART

Vacuum-sealed compression bags are generally known and used for storage, such as for example the storage of bedding or seasonal clothes. Such bags receive compressible articles therein, and generally include a valve through which air is removed therefrom, for example using a domestic vacuum cleaner or by simply manually compressing the bag. The removal of air from the compressible articles allows for a minimization of the storage space necessary for those articles.

It is also known to use such compression bags when traveling, in order to maximize the number of articles which may be received within a suitcase or another piece of luggage. Some suitcases include a single large compression bag therein, which may be permanently attached to the suitcase, and receives therein the entire content of the suitcase, and as such necessitating the entire content to be decompressed for access to a single article.

It is also known to use a plurality of small compression bags each containing one or more of the articles to be transported therein, and simply inserting the plurality of compression bags in a suitcase. However, as compression bags containing compressed articles often have irregular shapes and sizes, organization of the content of the suitcase may be difficult, and the compression bags may shift relatively to one another during transport.

In addition, some articles usually carried in a suitcase might be damaged when compressed in a compression bag.

Accordingly, improvements are desirable.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

It is therefore an aim of the present invention to provide an improved case and/or storage system for containing at least partly compressible articles.

Therefore, in accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a case for containing at least partly compressible articles, the case comprising: an outer shell including at least two portions selectively and relatively movable with respect to one another between an opened and a closed configuration of the case, the outer shell defining a shell cavity therewithin accessible when the portions are in the opened configuration; at least one attachment member secured to the outer shell inside the cavity; and at least two compression bags contained within the shell cavity and detachably retained by the at least one attachment member such as to maintain a relative position with respect to one another, each of the bags including an air impervious material defining an enclosure therewithin and having a sealable opening defined in the bag permitting access to the enclosure, a sealing member located in each of the bags being selectively configurable between a sealed configuration where the opening is closed in an airtight manner and an opened configuration where the opening is open to allow access to the enclosure for inserting the articles therein through the opening, and wherein each of the bags includes a one-way valve therein allowing air to be removed from the enclosure, with the bag in the sealed configuration, to create at least a partial vacuum therein such as to compress the articles within the bag.

There is also provided, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a storage system for at least partly compressible articles comprising: at least one air impervious compression bag having an opening for insertion of at least one article therethrough and a sealing member for selectively sealing the opening in an airtight manner, the first bag including a valve allowing air to flow therethrough in only one direction such that air is removable from the first bag via the valve to create a vacuum within the first bag, thereby compressing the articles contained in the first bag; and at least one air impervious pressure bag smaller than the compression bag so as to be received therein, the pressure bag including a valve allowing air to selectively flow therethrough to pressurize the pressure bag, the pressure bag being disposed in the compression bag such as to limit a compression of the at least one article.

There is further provided, in accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a method of controlling compression of an at least partly compressible article within a compression storage bag, the method comprising: placing a pressure bag in or adjacent to a portion of the article for which compression is to be controlled; inflating the pressure bag to a desired pressure and sealing the pressure bag to maintain the desired pressure therein; placing the article and pressure bag in the larger compression storage bag; and sealing the pressure bag and removing air from the compression storage bag to create negative pressure therein which compresses the article around the pressure bag, thereby reducing a necessary storage space for the article while generally maintaining its shape using the pressure bag.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, showing by way of illustration a particular embodiment of the present invention and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front schematic view of a case according to a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side schematic view of the case of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective schematic view of the case of FIG. 1 in an opened configuration; and

FIG. 4 is a front schematic view of a storage system of the case of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PARTICULAR EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIGS. 1-2, a case according to a particular embodiment of the present invention is generally shown at 10. The case 10 comprises a body 12 defining a cavity 14 therewithin in which various articles, such as for example clothing, toiletry, shoes and other accessories can be contained. The case 10 also comprises a handle 16 extending from a top surface 18 of the body, and pairs of front and rear wheels 20, 22 rotationally attached to the body 12 and protruding from a bottom surface 24 thereof. Although a particular case configuration is depicted in the Figures and described herein, it is understood that the case 10 may have any one of a number of possible configurations, including having fewer or more wheels, a different handle geometry, an extendable handle, one or more additional handle(s), etc.

Referring to FIGS. 2-3, the body 12 of the case 10 includes a front portion 26 and a rear portion 28 which cooperate in a closed position (see FIG. 2) to define the cavity 14. As can be seen in FIG. 3, the front and rear portions 26, 28 are hingedly interconnected by a bottom panel 30 of the body 12 such as to be relatively movable between the closed position shown in FIG. 2 and an opened position depicted in FIG. 3. Again, alternate configurations for the case 10 are possible, as long as the case can be selectively opened and closed.

Referring to FIG. 2, the case 10 can also include additional storing features, such as a front pocket 32 attached to the front portion 26 opposite of the rear portion 28.

Referring to FIG. 3, the case 10 includes one or more attachment member(s) 34 provided in the cavity 14. In the embodiment shown, the attachment members 34 include binder-style rings attached to the bottom panel 30, i.e. each ring is made of two ring portions 36 hingedly connected to the bottom panel 30 to be movable between a closed position C in contact with one another to form a closed ring and an opened position O pivoted away from each other to form an opened ring. Although one attachment member 34 is shown in the opened position O and two attachment members 34 are shown in the closed position C, in use the attachment members 34 are preferably synchronized to be all in the same position. These attachment members 34 removably receive and retain a series of bags, as will be described further below.

In alternate embodiments which are not shown, the attachment members 34 can include, for example, carabiners or quickdraws such as used in mountain climbing, other types of buckles, string pieces that can be tied together, or any other type of adequate detachable attachment member.

Although the attachment members 34 are shown as being all attached to the bottom panel 36, the attachment members 34 can alternately be attached in another location within the cavity 14, either all along a same wall of the case 10 or in different walls thereof to provide an increased number of attachment possibilities.

In a particular embodiment, the rear portion 28 of the case 10 is made of rigid material, such as for example molded plastic, while the front portion 26 of the case 10 is made of flexible material, such as for example fabric, in order to better conform to articles received in the cavity 14. Alternately, the front and rear portions 26, 28 can be both rigid or both flexible.

As shown in FIG. 1, the case 10 receives at least one compression bag 38 within the case cavity 14. Referring to FIG. 4, the compression bag 38 is made of or includes air impervious material, such as to define an air impervious enclosure for receiving article(s) therein. The air impervious material is preferably transparent, such as to allow inspection of the content of the compression bag 38 therethrough.

The compression bag 38 includes an opening 40 defined therein for access to the bag enclosure. In the embodiment shown, the compression bag 38 is formed of two sheets 42 of air impervious material sealed together along side and bottom edges 44, 46 thereof, leaving the top edges 48 thereof separate to define the opening 40 therebetween.

The compression bag 38 also includes a sealing member 50 which selectively seals the opening 40 in an airtight manner, i.e. in a manner at least preventing air from entering the compression bag 38 therethrough. In the embodiment shown, the sealing member 50 includes an airtight zipper. The bag further includes a valve 52 which allows air to be removed from the enclosure of the compression bag 38, for example by a domestic vacuum cleaner, while preventing air from entering the compression bag 38 therethrough. In the embodiment shown, the valve 52 is a one-way circular valve integral with one of the sheets 42 forming the compression bag 38. In an alternate embodiment which is not shown, the valve 52 is integral with the sealing member 50, i.e. at least part of the sealing member 50 is such as to allow air to exit the compression bag 38 therethrough when in the sealed position, such that the air is removed from the compression bag 38 through the top edge opening 40.

Removal of the air from the inside of the compression bag 38 thus forms a vacuum inside the compression bag 38 which acts to compress the article(s) contained therein, reducing necessary storage space for these articles.

The sheets 42 of material forming the compression bag 38 are preferably sealed to one another along a given distance from the bottom edge 46 such as to define a sealed bottom strip 54 adjacent the bag enclosure. A series of holes 56, three in the embodiment shown, are defined through the bottom strip 54 to receive therein the attachment members 34 attached to the bottom panel 30 of the case 10. As such, one or more of the compression bags 38 can be selectively retained within the case 10 and removed therefrom, in a manner similar to sheets of paper in a binder. As such, the compressed articles received in the compression bags 38 can be organized inside the case 10 and effectively retained therein, the compressed state of the articles allowing an increased number of articles to be contained within the case 10.

The attachment members 34 engaged in the holes 56 of the compression bags 38 thus maintain a relative position between the compression bags 38, i.e. even if limited relative motion is possible between the compression bags 38, each compression bag 38 remains adjacent to the same compression bag(s) 38 throughout that relative motion. As such the order of the compression bags 38 within the case 10 is maintained, while allowing the compression bags 38 to be “flipped” about the attachment members 34 if necessary, for example to find the compression bag 38 containing a particular article.

In some cases, it is preferable that the compression of an article be limited at least in certain portions thereof, in order to avoid damaging this article. For example, some types of shoes may be permanently deformed or damaged when compressed in a compression bag. Still referring to FIG. 4, the compression bag 38 is shown containing a pair of shoes 58, which are each protected from excessive compression by a pressure bag 60 inserted therein. Each pressure bag 60 is similar to the compression bag 38, in that it is made of or includes air impervious material such as to define an air impervious enclosure. Each pressure bag 60 further includes a valve 62 defined therein which selectively allows air to be removed from or inserted in the bag enclosure. Alternately, the pressure bag 60 can be provided with a first valve only allowing air to be selectively removed from the pressure bag 60, and a second valve only allowing air to be selectively inserted in the pressure bag 60. The pressure bag 60 can be provided in a variety of use-specific shapes, for example a shape corresponding to or substantially corresponding to the inner shape of a shoe, as depicted in FIG. 4.

In use, the pressure bag 60 is disposed in or adjacent the portion of the article for which compression should be limited, for example inside the shoe 58. The pressure bag 60 is then inflated such as to be sufficiently pressurized to limit the compression of the article to a desired level. The article, together with the pressure bag 60, is inserted into the compression bag 38, and air is removed from the compression bag 38 such as to create a vacuum compressing the article around the pressure bag 60, thus limiting a storage space necessary for the article while protecting sensitive portions thereof from excessive compression. The compression bag 38 is then engaged to the attachment members 34 of the case 10 to be conveniently carried therein.

In a particular embodiment, the case 10 is provided with a small pump which can either be integral therewith or removable therefrom, and which provides both an air outflow for inflating the pressure bag(s) 60 and suction to produce a vacuum in the compression bag(s) 38.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary. Those skilled in the art will therefore appreciate that the foregoing description is illustrative only, and that various alternate configurations and modifications can be devised without departing from the spirit of the present invention. For example, the present invention can be used in a case of a type other than a suitcase, such as a case for long-term storage. The pressure bag/compression bag combination can also be used in a variety of other applications, for example in other types of packaging applications for transporting any type of product requiring selective compression, by themselves or in combination with various types of flexible or rigid enclosures. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternate configurations, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.