Title:
Gusseted T-Shirt Bag and Bagging Rack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rack and T-shirt bag which may be used in combination are disclosed. The T-shirt bag includes elongated tabs which can be tied together when the bag is loaded with items. A pack of the bags can also include contact adhesive disposed between adjacent bags that will cause a successive bag to open as a lead bag is removed. The rack includes a pair of handle mounting arms for mounting a pack of T-shirt bags, the arms having an upwardly extending portion which lifts the bags and increases their perceived volume as they are being loaded. The arms also include a stopper for preventing removal of successive bags as the lead bag is removed. A side-mounted bag dispenser for mounting a second pack of T-shirt bags can be selectively attached to the rack. The dispenser includes a handle support arm which supports the bags as they are loaded.



Inventors:
Simhaee, Ebrahim (Beverly Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/090273
Publication Date:
11/13/2008
Filing Date:
10/18/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/97, 248/99, 383/9, 383/120
International Classes:
B65B67/00; B65B67/04; B65D33/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARNETT, DEVIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leason Ellis LLP (White Plains, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. In combination, a rack, comprising a rear wall having a top portion, a bottom portion, and sides; a pair of generally forwardly extending laterally-spaced handle mounting arms extending from the rear wall at one end, at least a portion of each handle mounting arm extending forwardly and upwardly; a generally horizontally and laterally-extending top bar supported by the rear wall, the top bar having a concave portion extending forwardly from the rear wall, the concave portion forming a hollow between the top bar and the top portion of rear wall, the hollow being laterally centrally located in relation to the handle mounting arms; a pair of generally upwardly and forwardly extending laterally-spaced tab mounting arms, the tab mounting arms being centrally located along the top portion of the rear wall in relation to the handle mounting arms, each tab mounting arm being supported by the rear wall at one end and having an outer end; a pack of plastic T-shirt bags, each bag comprising a tube of plastic film folded to form front and rear walls and side gussets, each gusset including an inner fold, the plastic film being sealed to form an upper and bottom seal; handles formed in the gusseted portions of the bag, each handle having a handle mounting slot positioned on the handle and sized to receive the handle mounting arms of the rack; tabs extending from the top edges of the walls between the handles, each tab comprising a top edge, side edges, and a bottom portion that joins the tab to the top edge of a wall, a tab mounting slot formed on each side of the tab proximate to the bottom portion and side edge and sized to receive the tab mounting arms of the rack, the tabs being dimensioned so as to permit the tabs to be tied together when items are disposed within the bag; and the handle mounting slots and the tab mounting slots of the bags of the pack of bags being mounted on the handle mounting arms and the tab mounting arms, respectively.

2. The combination of claim 1, wherein the pack of bags includes contact adhesive disposed between the front and rear walls of adjacent bags, the adhesive being strong enough to pull open a successive adjacent bag as a leading bag is removed from the rack; and the ends of the handle mounting arms opposite the rear wall having stopper means for preventing removal of successive bags from the pack of bags as a leading bag is removed from the rack.

3. The combination of claims 1 or 2, wherein the rack further comprises a support extending from the side of the rear wall; and in further combination a side-mounted bag dispenser, said dispenser comprising a mounting plate, a handle support arm forwardly extending from the mounting plate, a projection laterally extending from the mounting plate, a tab mounting hook connected to the lateral projection, and attachment means for selectively attaching the side-mounted bag dispenser to the support of the rack; and a second pack of plastic T-shirt bags, each bag including handles, each handle having a handle mounting slot positioned on the handle and sized to receive the handle support arm of the side-mounted bag dispenser; tabs, each tab having a tab mounting slot sized to receive the tab mounting hook; and the handle mounting slots of one set of the handles and the tab mounting slots of the bags of the second pack of bags being mounted on the handle support arm and the tab mounting hook, respectively.

4. A rack for mounting a pack of self-opening plastic T-shirt bags, the bags having a handle portion and a bottom portion, comprising: a rear wall having a top portion, a bottom portion, and sides; a pair of generally forwardly extending laterally-spaced handle mounting arms extending from the rear wall at one end, at least a portion of each handle mounting arm extending forwardly and upwardly; a generally horizontally and laterally-extending top bar supported by the rear wall, the top bar having a concave portion extending forwardly from the rear wall, the concave portion forming a hollow between the top bar and the top portion of rear wall, the hollow being laterally centrally located in relation to the handle mounting arms; a pair of generally upwardly and forwardly extending laterally-spaced tab mounting arms, the tab mounting arms being centrally located along the top portion of the rear wall in relation to the handle mounting arms, each tab mounting arm being supported by the rear wall at one end and having an outer end; and the ends of the handle mounting arms opposite the rear wall having stopper means for preventing removal of successive bags from the pack of bags as a leading bag is removed from the rack.

5. The rack of claim 4, wherein the stopper means includes a notch.

6. The rack of claim 4, wherein the stopper means includes a raised protrusion.

7. The rack of claim 6, wherein the raised protrusion includes a rubber collar.

8. The rack of claim 4, wherein the stopper means includes an upwardly angled portion.

9. The rack of claim 8, wherein the angle at which the upwardly angled portion extends is at least about 30 degrees.

10. The rack of claim 8, wherein the angle at which the upwardly angled portion extends is between about 40 and 45 degrees,

11. The rack of claim 4, further comprising: a pair of restraining arms extending forwardly from the sides of the bottom portion of the rear wall, each restraining arm including a forward portion and an end portion extending inwardly from the forward portion, the restraining arms being dimensioned so as to inhibit forward movement of the bottom portion of the pack of bags.

12. The rack of claim 4 or 11, further comprising: a bowed projection for pitching the bag bundle forwardly attached to the top portion of the rear wall, and laterally centered in relation to the tab mounting arms.

13. The rack of claim 4 or 11, further comprising: a support extending from the side of the rear wall; and a side-mounted bag dispenser for mounting a second pack of T-shirt bags, the dispenser being selectively attached to the support.

14. The rack of claim 13, wherein the side-mounted bag dispenser includes a mounting plate, a handle support arm forwardly extending from the mounting plate, a projection laterally extending from the mounting plate, a tab mounting hook connected to the lateral projection, and attachment means for selectively attaching the side-mounted bag dispenser to the support.

15. The rack of claim 14, wherein the attachment means includes at least a first and second clip.

16. The rack of claim 15, wherein the first clip has a greater degree of curvature as compared to the second such that the side-mounted bag dispenser can be selectively attached to the rack by rotating the side-mounted bag dispenser.

17. The rack of claim 14, wherein the second pack of T-shirt bags includes a self-opening feature, and the end of the handle support arm opposite the mounting plate has stopper means for preventing removal of successive bags from the second pack of bags as a leading bag is removed from the side-mounted dispenser.

18. A side-mounted bag dispenser for mounting a pack of T-shirt bags, the dispenser capable of being selectively attached to a bag rack, comprising: a mounting plate; a handle support arm forwardly extending from the mounting plate; a projection laterally extending from the mounting plate; a tab mounting hook connected to the lateral projection; and attachment means for selectively attaching the side-mounted bag dispenser to the bag rack.

19. The bag dispenser of claim 18, wherein the attachment means includes at least a first and second clip.

20. The bag dispenser of claim 19, wherein the first clip has a greater degree of curvature as compared to the second such that the side-mounted bag dispenser can be selectively attached to the rack by rotating the side-mounted bag dispenser.

21. The bag dispenser of claim 18, wherein the pack of T-shirt bags includes a self-opening feature for causing a successive adjacent bag to open as a leading bag is removed from the side-mounted dispenser, and the end of the handle support arm opposite the mounting plate has stopper means for preventing removal of successive bags from the pack of bags as the leading bag is removed from the side-mounted dispenser.

22. The bag dispenser of claim 21, wherein the stopper means includes a notch.

23. The bag dispenser of claim 21, wherein the stopper means includes a raised protrusion.

24. The bag dispenser of claim 23, wherein the raised protrusion includes a rubber collar.

25. The bag dispenser of claim 21, wherein the stopper means includes an upwardly angled portion.

26. The bag dispenser of claim 25, wherein the angle at which the upwardly angled portion extends is at least about 30 degrees.

26. The bag dispenser of claim 25, wherein the angle at which the upwardly angled portion extends is between about 40 and 45 degrees.



27. A plastic T-shirt bag, comprising: a tube of plastic film folded to form front and rear walls and side gussets, each gusset including an inner fold, the plastic film being sealed to form an upper and bottom seal; handles formed in the gusseted portions of the bag; tabs extending from the top edges of the walls between the handles, each tab comprising a top edge, side edges, and a bottom portion that joins the tab to the top edge of a wall, a tab mounting slot formed on each side of the tab proximate to the bottom portion and side edge, the tabs being dimensioned so as to permit the tabs to be tied together when items are disposed within the bag.

28. The T-shirt bag of claim 27, wherein each tab further includes a central slot formed near the center of the bottom portion of the tab for facilitating the separation of the tab from the wall.

29. A pack of bags comprising a plurality of T-shirt bags of claim 27 or 28, the T-shirt bags further comprising: contact adhesive disposed between the front and rear walls of adjacent bags, the adhesive being strong enough to pull open a rearwardly lying bag of the plurality bags as an adjacent forwardly lying bag is separated from the pack of bags.

30. The pack of bags of claim 29, wherein the contact adhesive is proximate to one of the tab mounting slots.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to plastic bags and bagging racks and, more particularly, to gusseted bags, especially bags commonly referred to as t-shirt bags, and racks for dispensing the gusseted bags.

BACKGROUND

A bag commonly in use throughout the United States and elsewhere is known as a t-shirt bag. T-shirt bags are customarily made from tubular plastic film which is gusseted, sealed, and cut to form a bag with handles on the sides of the bag.

T-shirt bags are provided in a stack which is placed on a bagging rack. The user can withdraw bags individually from the bagging rack. However, in some conventional t-shirt bags, tabs or other sections of the bag are left on the rack as the bags are removed from the rack. Therefore, before a new stack of bags can be loaded onto the rack, the remainders from the last stack of bags must first be removed from the rack.

In another type of conventional bag, a tab is provided with a central slit that extends over a substantial distance along the width of the tab, and the slit allows the bag to be loaded over a central mounting arm or prong on the rack. When the bag is removed from the rack, a tear is formed at one end of the slit while the tab remains intact at the other end of the slit. The tab is thus removed from the rack but still remains connected to the bag. This type of bag is known as a “tabless” bag. Nothing is left behind on the rack after dispensing the bags. However, the torn tab of this conventional bag is rendered useless since most of the tab has been disconnected from the bag due to the length of the slit.

The slit allows the bags to mount onto a prong of the bagging rack. However, if the prong of the bagging rack curves toward the front of the rack, the slit can slide off the prong of the bagging rack, thereby not providing a secure loading of the bags. Also, if the prong is straight or curves rearward, the user must lift the pack of bags up and over the prongs of the bagging rack, which makes assembly more inconvenient.

Furthermore, some conventional bags are formed with a slit that is smaller than the prong so that it is necessary to stretch the slit while loading the bags onto the bagging rack. However, this makes the tabs harder to slide over the prongs and therefore harder to load onto the bagging rack.

Furthermore, some conventional racks do not allow the bags to fully expand, thereby preventing the user from completely utilizing all of the available space inside the bag. For example, when the rack does not allow the front wall of the bag to expand completely, slack is left in the bag. Because the bag's apparent volume is less than its fully expanded volume, the user may not completely fill the bag since the user is unable to recognize that there is more available space in the bag. The user thinks the bag is fall when it actually is not.

Furthermore, some conventional bags have an adhesive bond between bags to facilitate the self-opening feature. This creates bag waste as the bagger inadvertently removes extra unused bags from the rack when removing the loaded leader bag from the rack.

Furthermore, some conventional bag racks provide a side hook for mounting an additional bundle of convenience T-shirt bags (usually smaller in size than the T-shirt bags that are loaded on the main portion of the rack). The convenience bags are typically mounted onto the side hook by the bag tab mounting slot. However, usually the weight of a single item when placed in the bag will cause the tab to tear and the bag to separate from the rack and fall to the floor. Therefore, the user will have to support the bag with the user's hands while, in addition, trying to load items into the bag.

The present invention provides a t-shirt bag that does not leave tabs on the bagging rack after the bags have been dispensed and that allows the tabs to be used to close the bag. The present invention also provides a bagging rack and a t-shirt bag for dispensing from the rack that can fully expand when the user places items in the bag while it is still on the rack, that is prevented from sliding off the bagging rack prematurely, and that can easily slide over the prong of the bagging rack during loading.

The present invention also provides a bagging rack which facilitates removal of only one bag at a time. Although each bag is adhered to its preceding bag with a strong self-opening feature, the bag following the bag being loaded is stopped at the front of the arms of the t-shirt rack, and will not be removed from the rack when the loaded leader bag is removed from the rack.

The present invention also provides a side-mounted bag dispenser which provides support for bag handles. Convenience sized bags can be mounted on the side of the rack and supported by the side-mounted dispenser while a user loads the bag.

The t-shirt bag and bagging rack of the present invention overcomes these problems of the prior art, but also provides an efficient one bag at a time self-opening feature, allows a greater number of bags to be loaded onto the rack, and provides a removable closing feature.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other features of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the following detailed description and drawings of the illustrative embodiments of the invention wherein like reference numbers refer to similar elements and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a t-shirt bag according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a bagging rack according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a stack of t-shirt bags of FIG. 1 loaded onto the rack of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a top view of a stack of t-shirt bags of FIG. 1 loaded onto the rack of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a stack of t-shirt bags of FIG. 1 loaded onto the rack of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5A is a close up side view of the end portion of the handle mounting arm having a notch;

FIG. 5B is a close up side view of the end portion of the handle mounting arm having a raised portion;

FIG. 6A is a sectional side view taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 3 of a single t-shirt bag loaded onto the rack;

FIG. 6B is a sectional side view of the t-shirt bag and rack of FIG. 6A as a front wall of the bag is pulled away from a rear wall of the bag;

FIG. 6C is a sectional side view of the t-shirt bag and rack of FIG. 6A as the front and rear walls of the bag are pulled away from a rear wall of the rack;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the t-shirt bag of FIG. 1 with tabs tied together;

FIG. 8 is a front view of the t-shirt bag of FIG. 1 with the handles pulled away from each other in preparation for loading onto a rack;

FIG. 9 is a front view of a t-shirt bag according to a comparative example; and

FIG. 10 is a front view of the t-shirt bag of FIG. 9 with the handles pulled away from each other in preparation for loading onto a rack;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a bagging rack according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a front view of the rack of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a side view of the rack of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13A is a close up side view of the end portion of the handle mounting arm having an upwardly angled portion;

FIG. 14 is atop view of the rack of FIG. 11;

FIG. 15 is a close up side view of the t-shirt bag of FIG. 1 mounted on tab mounting arms;

FIG. 16 is an exploded view of the rack of FIG. 11 with a side-mounted bag dispensing attachment;

FIG. 17 is a side view of the side-mounted dispenser mounted on the rack of FIG. 11;

FIG. 18 is a sectional front view taken along the line 18-18 of FIG. 17 of the side-mounted dispenser mounted on the rack of FIG. 11;

FIG. 19 is a side view of a stack of t-shirt bags loaded onto the side-mounted dispenser of FIG. 16, which is mounted on the rack of FIG. 11.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-8 illustrate gusseted t-shirt bags 10 and a bagging rack 50 for dispensing the bags according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a front view of the t-shirt bag 10, and FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the t-shirt bag 10 when it is loaded and has its tabs 25 tied together to close the bag 10. The t-shirt bag 10 may be manufactured from an extruded tubular form made of a plastic material such as polyethylene. The tube is then partially gusseted, forming an inner fold 11 and two outer folds 12, which form the side edges of the bag 10. The resulting gusseted bag 10 contains two outer regions, each of which contains four plies of film, and a central region which contains only two plies. The flattened, gusseted web, which includes walls 13, 14, is then welded to form a bottom seal 15 and an upper seal 16.

The sealed web is then passed through a cutting station in which individual bags 10 are cut from the web. The bags 10 are then stacked (for example, in stacks of fifty bags), and each stack of bags is passed through a die cutting station to form cut-out regions 18 in the bags 10. As a result of the shape of the cut-out region 18, two handles 20 are formed in the gusseted side portions of the bag 10 and two tabs 25 extend upwards from a top edge 19 of each of the walls 13, 14 between the two handles 20.

C slots 22 are formed in each of the handles 20 such that when the bags 10 are stacked together, the C slots 22 in each respective handle 20 are aligned with each other. In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1-8, the ends of the C slots 22 face the side edges 12 of the bag 10.

Each tab 25 includes a top edge 26 and a bottom portion 27 that joins the tab 25 to the top edge 19 of the walls 13, 14. A tab mounting C slot 28 is formed close to the bottom portion 27 and on each side of the tab 25. As shown in FIG. 1, the tab mounting C slots 28 are generally circular and each has two ends 28A that form an uncut portion that allows the bag material bounded by the generally circular cut of the tab mounting slots 28 to remain connected to the bag 10.

In an embodiment of the invention, the material of the bag 10 is formed so that it is easier to tear the material in a vertical direction (up/down direction in FIG. 1) than a horizontal direction (left/right direction in FIG. 1). This is due to the molecular alignment of the bag material during the extrusion process. To produce a horizontal tear in the material, the bag material must be deformed or cut mechanically. Thus, at least one of the ends 28A of the tab mounting slots 28 is positioned substantially vertical, or at least slightly vertical, to allow a tear to form in the tab 25 relatively easily.

The tab mounting C slots 28 are positioned towards the lower, outside edges of the tab 25. Such positioning of the tab mounting slots 28 provides several advantages. First, it prevents the tabs 25 from being torn or destroyed as the bag 10 is separated from the stack of bags and pulled forward on the mounting arms of the rack 50. The width of the tabs 25 is not significantly reduced; therefore, the tabs 25 of the present invention remain intact and useful and can then be tied together to secure the contents of the bag 10, as shown in FIG. 7.

When the user pulls one of the bags 10 away from the stack, a tear is formed between one of the ends 28A of the tab mounting C slots 28 and the outside edge of the tab 25. Since the portion of the bag 10 between the other end 28A of the tab mounting C slot 28 and the outside edge of the tab 25 remains unbroken, none of the material of the bag 10 is torn away from the bag 10. All of the bag material remains intact. Thus, the tab mounting C slots 28 allow the tabs 25 to remain on the bags 10; they are not left behind on the rack after the bag is removed. Therefore, this design is known as a “tabless” bag design.

The tabs 25 are long enough to allow the user to tie them together after items are placed in the bag 10, as shown in FIG. 7. Since the tabs 25 extend from the front and rear walls 13, 14, respectively, tying the tabs 25 together provides an effective closure mechanism for the bag 10 that helps to prevent items from falling out of the bag 10. After the tabs 25 are tied, the user may use the handles 20 to carry the closed bag 10.

In most conventional t-shirt bag designs, the tabs are short and have no purpose other than to include an aperture to allow the bag to be mounted to the rack. Also, in some conventional t-shirt bags, the tabs are destroyed in the process of separating the bag from the stack of bags and can no longer serve a useful purpose. Even if the tabs were to remain intact on the bag, the tabs would still be too short to be used for other purposes, such as to close the bag as in the present invention.

A central slot 29 is formed generally near the center of the bottom portion 27 of the tab 25 where the tab 25 joins the walls 13, 14 of the bag 10. The central slot 29 is generally curved, e.g., half moon or U-shaped, with ends 29A pointed generally upward. The central slot 29 is preferably formed on the bottom portion 27 of the tab 25. However, it is also possible to position the central slot 29 near the top of the walls 13, 14 of the bag 10 close to the bottom portions 27 of the tabs 25.

Once the bag 10 is filled and the two tabs 25 in the bag have been tied together, it is difficult to untie them. The central slots 29 allow the user to quickly open the bag 10 without destroying it by inserting a finger in one or both of the apertures formed by slots 29 and pulling in any direction until one or both of the tied tabs 25 is separated from the wall 13, 14 to which it had been attached. If only one of the tied tabs 25 is separated from its adjacent wall 13, 14, the remaining tied tab 25 is still attached to the opposite wall 13, 14. As a result, neither of the walls 13, 14 is destroyed.

The tab mounting slots 28 and the central slot 29 can be formed in both tabs 25, which are connected to the walls 13, 14. When the bags 10 are stacked together, the respective tab mounting slots 28 and the central slots 29 in each bag 10 are aligned with each other.

A spot of contact adhesive 30 is applied between the front and rear walls 13, 14 of adjacent bags 10 in order to provide a self-opening feature for the bags 10. As the user pulls a forwardly lying bag away from the pack of bags, the contact adhesive 30 allows the front wall 13 of the rearwardly lying bag to be pulled forward, thereby opening the rearwardly lying bag before or while the forwardly lying bag is removed from the rack.

Locating the contact adhesive 30 close to one of the tab mounting slots 28 permits the use of less adhesive glue, since less glue will tear only one tab of C slot 28 at a time, rather than using more glue which would tear both tabs of C slots 28 at the same time. The contact adhesive 30 can be placed in proximity to slots 28 by placing it near the bottom portion 27 of the tab 25 or near the top edge 19 of the walls 13, 14.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the bagging rack 50. The rack 50 includes a floor 52, a rear wall formed by horizontal bars 54, and two handle mounting arms 58. The floor 52 of the rack 50 is substantially horizontal and serves as a base for the rack 50.

The rear wall 54 of the rack includes a horizontal top bar 55. The top bar 55 has a concave portion 56 that forms a hollow 57 at the center of the top, rear portion of the rack 50. The hollow 57 is positioned on the front side of the rear wall 54 of the rack 50 and is provided for placement of the tabs 25 of the bags 10 while permitting the rear wall 54 of the rack 50 to be placed flush against a wall of a bagging station (not shown) while the rack 50 is loaded with bags 10.

The concave portion 56 of the top bar 55 also allows the length of the two handle mounting arms 58 to be increased, thereby permitting the loading of more bag bundles on the rack 50. Although the top bar 55 must extend away from the rear wall 54 of the rack 50 to allow the tabs 25 of the bags 10 to be arranged between the top bar 55 and the wall of the bagging station, the concave portion 56 allows the handle mounting arms 58 to extend the full length of the rack 50 from the wall of the bagging station to the front of the rack 50.

The concave portion 56 of the top bar 55 also pitches the top edge 19 of the walls 13, 14 of the bag 10 forward in a concave fashion, thereby decreasing the force needed to separate the front wall 13 of the bag 10 from the rear wall 14.

At least a portion of the handle mounting arms 58 extends upwardly. Preferably, the upwardly extending portion of the arms is positioned toward the front of the rack 50. When the front wall 13 of the t-shirt bag 10 is pulled forward to open the bag 10, the bag handles 20 also slide forward on the handle mounting arms 58 of the rack 50. The upward rise in the front portion of the handle mounting arms 58 lifts the bag handles 20, thereby allowing for full extension of the front wall 13 and the side walls of the bag 10. The full extension of the front wall 13 and side walls of the bag 10 mimics the performance of a fully-opened paper bag, i.e., the full volume of the bag 10 is revealed, and permits the user to fill the bag 10 to capacity.

Each of the handle mounting arms also include an end portion 58A opposite the rear wall which has a barrier or stopper that is designed to counteract the self-opening feature (e.g. contact adhesive 30) of the bags, thereby preventing a second bag from being removed from the rack as the first bag is pulled away. The stopper can comprise various different means, including a notch 80 in the top surface of the end portion of the handle mounting arm as shown in FIG. 5A. The notch 80 is of a depth suitable to provide resistive force sufficient to overcome the adhesive force of the self-opening feature, and is preferably 1 millimeter deep. The stopper may also comprise a raised feature on the top surface of the handle mounting arm, the feature preferably being a rubber cap or collar 81 as shown in FIG. 5B. The stopper may also, and preferably comprises an upwardly angled portion 82 at the end portion of the handle mounting arm as shown in FIG. 13A. Increasing the angle of the upwardly angled portion beyond 30 degrees decreases the tendency of the handles to slide past the end portion of the mounting arms. Increasing the upwardly angled portion to approximately 40-45 degrees prevents a successive bag from sliding off the rack as the user pulls the leader bag in a horizontal direction off the rack. Preferably, the upwardly angled portion is formed at approximately 45 degrees, as shown in FIG. 13A.

Two curved wire-bars serving as restraining arms 60 extend forwardly from the sides of the bottom portion of the rear wall 54 of the rack 50. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6A, the restraining arms 60 hold the bottom portion of the bag bundle against the rear wall 54 of the rack 50 to prevent the loose-hanging bottom portions of the bags 10 from creeping forward. As a result, there is more available work space at the lower section of the rack 50 for full expansion of the bag 10 that is being loaded. As shown in FIGS. 6B and 6C, the restraining arms 60 do not hinder the sliding motion of the bags 10 when pulled forward on the handle mounting arms 58.

Two forward-curving tab mounting arms 62 are provided at the top center of the rear wall 54 of the rack 50. When the bags 10 are loaded onto the rack 50, the user inserts the tab mounting arms 62 through the apertures formed by the tab mounting slots 28. The distance between the tab mounting arms 62 of the rack 50 is generally equal to the distance between the tab mounting slots 28 on the bag 10 so that extra force is not necessary for sliding the tab mounting slots 28 of the bag 10 over the tab mounting arms 62 of the rack 50.

The bags 10 are first loaded onto the handle mounting arms 58 and then onto the tab mounting arms 62. Thus, the user first places the handle slots 22 of the bags 10 over the handle mounting arms 58 and then places the tab mounting slots 28 over the tab mounting arms 62.

Some conventional tab mounting arms are designed to be straight or to curve towards the rear of the rack in order to prevent the tabs from sliding off of the tab mounting arms. However, force is required to stretch the tab mounting aperture of some conventional bags in order to hang it over such conventional tab mounting arms. This also requires the user to lift the bags up and over this type of conventional tab mounting arms. However, in the present invention, the tab mounting arms 62 curve forward, which makes it easier to slip the tab mounting slots 28 of the bags 10 over the tab mounting arms 62 from the front.

As shown in FIGS. 2-6C, the rack 50 includes two tab mounting arms 62. The use of two arms 62 rather than one reduces the possibility of the tab mounting slots 28 of the bags 10 sliding off the tab mounting arms 62. However, it is to be understood that the rack 50 of the present invention can include one or more arms 62.

A bowed projection 64 is provided on the top center of the front side of the rear wall 54 of the rack 50. The projection 64 is centered between the tab mounting arms 62 and pitches the bag bundle slightly forward at the tabs 25, which increases the effectiveness of the self-opening feature of the bag 10.

Optionally, a rearward protection 95 is provided on the top center of the rear side of the rear wall 54 of the rack. The projection 95 is centered between the tab mounting arms 62 and supports the tabs 25, as shown in FIG. 15, which increases the effectiveness of the self-opening feature of the bag 10.

After loading the bag, the bagger lifts the bag by scooping his hands though the outer edge of the bag handles 20 into the opening E, which are located between the two 2-ply gussets on each side of the bag as shown in FIG. 6C. The bagger then removes the loaded bag by pulling it forward off the rack mounting arms 58 in a horizontal motion. If the bags on the rack have a self-opening feature, the action of pulling the loaded bag forward off the rack will automatically pull the next bag forward. A barrier, such as notch 80, rubber cap 81, or upwardly angled portion 82, is provided to counteract the self-opening feature to ensure that only the loaded bag, and not the next bag, is removed as the bagger pulls it off the rack, thereby preventing the waste of the second bag.

FIG. 8 is a front view of the t-shirt bag 10 with the handles 20 pulled away from each other in preparation for loading onto the rack 50. The gusseted t-shirt bag has the approximate dimensions 13″×8″×24″, according to one embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIGS. 1 and 6C. These dimensions are disclosed to illustrate the features of the invention. The invention obviously is not limited to specific dimensions.

In an unopened bag 10, as shown in FIG. 1, the distance between the top of the tab mounting slots 28 to the bottom seal 15 of the bag 10 is about 18.25″. When the bag 10 is fully opened, the bag 10 creates a box-like shape with a base measuring approximately 8″×13″, as shown in FIGS. 6C & 8. The 8″ measurement spans the two gusset panels formed by the gusset inner fold 11 and outer folds 12; each panel having a width of approximately 4″. When the bag is fully opened to form a box, 4″ from the height of the front wall 13 and 4″ from the height of the back wall 14 are used to create the 8″ base of the box. The actual height of the front and back walls 13, 14 of the opened bag 10, from the base of the opened bag 10 to the top of tab mounting slots 28, is approximately 14.25″, i.e., 18.25″−4″=14.25″, as shown in FIG. 6C.

The distance between the floor 52 of the rack 50, and the tab mounting arms 62 where they are connected to the top bar 55 is slightly more than 14.25″, and in the rack 50 shown in FIG. 6C, the distance is about 15.25″. As previously mentioned, when the bag 10 is unopened, the length of the front and rear walls 13, 14 of the bag 10 from the bottom of the bag 10 to the top of tab mounting slots 28 is 18.25″. After opening the bag 10 as shown in FIG. 6B and after starting to load items into the bag 10, the base of the bag 10 begins to form. Gradually, as 4″ of the height of each of the walls 13, 14 becomes part of the base, the height of the rear wall 14 of the bag 10 decreases from approximately 18.25″ to 14.25″. When the rear wall 14 of the bag 10 becomes shorter than approximately 15.25″, the rear wall 14 begins to stretch away from the tab mounting arms 62. Within a short time period, the tab mounting slots 28 in the bag 10 tear from the tab mounting arms 62, e.g., due to the weight of the items that are loaded into the bag 10 or by the force from the user to pull the bag 10 from the rack 50, and the rear wall 14 of the bag 10. The rear wall 14 of the bag 10 is then no longer supported by the tab mounting slots 28 and drops to the floor 52 of the rack 50.

As the bag 10 is fully opened, the handles 20 of the bag 10 move forward on the handle mounting arms 58 towards the front of the rack 50. The height of the handle mounting arms 58 where they are connected to the top bar 55 the rack 50 is approximately 15.25″, which is the same height as the bottom of the tab mounting arms 62 of the rack 50 in this embodiment of the invention.

As shown in FIG. 1, the distance between the bottom of the bag 10 to the top of the handle mounting slots 22 is about 21.75″ so that the distance from the top of the handle mounting slots 22 to the tab mounting slots 28 is about 3.5″. As a result, the height of the front wall 13, when the bag 10 is opened and the base of the bag 10 is about 13″×8″, is about 17.75″ (21.75″−4″ gusset=17.75″) in this embodiment of the invention.

In some conventional racks, the handle mounting arms are straight and extend horizontally at a height of 15.25″ from the floor of the rack. Therefore, in these types of conventional racks, the height of the bag's front wall, which is approximately 17.75″, is about 2.5″ taller than the distance between the floor and the top of the handle mounting arms of this type of conventional rack, which is approximately 15.25″. The taller height of the bag results in slack in the front wall 13 of the bag 10 when the bag is loaded onto this type of conventional rack. As a result, the height of the front wall of the bag 10 appears 2.5″ shorter than it would be if the front wall was fully-erected, thereby decreasing the apparent volume of the bag 10 by about 14%, i.e., (2.5″/17.75″)×100%. When the bag has a smaller apparent capacity, the user thinks the bag is full when it in fact is not, and therefore, the space in the bag is not used efficiently. Because the bags are not completely filled, the user tends to use more bags.

The present invention avoids this problem by providing handle mounting arms 58 with an upward slope that increases the height of the handle mounting arms 58, as measured from the floor 52 of the rack 50, from about 15.25″ near the rear of the arms 58 to about 17.75″ at the front of the arms 58, i.e., a difference of 2.5″. This increase in height permits the full erection of the front wall 13 of the bag 10 and increases the apparent height of the front wall 13 from 15.25″ to 17.75″. This increase in apparent height also causes an increase in apparent volume of the bag 10 by about 14%, thereby giving the impression that the user can put about 14% more merchandise in the bag 10. Thus, the apparent volume of the bag 10 increases when there is minimal or no slack in the front, rear, and side walls.

The two side walls of the bag 10 created by the bag gussets hang from the handle mounting arms 58 of the rack 50. Like the front wall 13 of the bag 10, the side walls have slack due to the lower height of the handle mounting arms 58 in the rear of the rack 50. However, since the side walls are attached to the front wall 13 of the bag 10, the side walls are pulled upward with the front wall 13 as the bag 10 is opened and pulled forward on the upwardly sloped handle mounting arms 58 of the rack 50. Therefore, like the front wall 13, the side walls also lose their slack and become fully erect when the bag 10 is moved toward the front of the rack 50. As a result, the two front corners of the bag 10 where the front wall 13 attaches to the side walls, are straightened, with the box-like shape of the bag 10 resembling an opened paper bag, as shown in FIG. 6C.

FIG. 9 is a front view of a t-shirt bag 70 according to a comparative example, and FIG. 10 is a front view of the t-shirt bag 70 with the handles pulled away from each other in preparation for loading onto a rack. In this comparative example, the handle mounting slots 72 are positioned on a lower portion 74 of the handles 76 of the bag 10. This comparative example illustrates what happens when the bag's handle mounting slots 72 are moved lower on the bag handles 70, thereby decreasing the distance between the handle mounting slots and the tab mounting slots.

As shown in FIG. 1, the width of the bag handles 20 of the invention is narrower at the lower portion of the handles 20 than at the top. Therefore, positioning the handle mounting slots 72 at the lower portion 74 of the handle 76 of the comparative example, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, weakens the handle 76, thereby causing the handle 76 to tear or break more easily.

Furthermore, the distance to which the bag's handle mounting slots 72 can be pulled apart decreases as the slots 72 are placed further down on the handles 76. Since the front wall 13 of the bag 10 is about 13″ wide, the distance between the two handle mounting slots 72 in their normal position, i.e., with the handles 76 not pulled apart, must be less than 13″. On the other hand, the distance between the two handle mounting arms 58 of the rack 50 is 13″, which is the same as the width of the front wall 13 of the bag 10. Therefore, the only way to increase the distance between the two handle mounting C slots to 13″ is to place them at the upper portion of the bag handles 76 as indicated by reference characters 22 on FIGS. 1, 8, and 9. When the handle mounting C slots 22 are placed at the upper portion of the handles 20, the handles 20 may be pulled far enough apart from each other, as shown in FIG. 8, so that the handle mounting slots 22 can bridge the 13″ gap between the two handle mounting arms 58.

In an example of the present invention, the handle mounting C slots 22 are separated by about 8.5″ in their normal positioned, i.e., with the handles 20 not pulled apart, as shown in FIG. 9 and when the handles 20 are pulled apart, the handle mounting slots 22 are separated by about 13″, as showing in FIG. 8. However, when the handles 76 of the bag 70 of the comparative example are pulled apart, the distance between the handle mounting slots 72 cannot be increased to 13″ since the slots are located at the lower portion 74 of the bag handles 76, as shown in FIG. 10. The distance between the handle mounting slots 72 ranges from approximately 9″ to 9.8″ in the comparative example.

The t-shirt bags of the present invention provide an efficient self-opening feature and provide tabs that remain useful after the bags are dispensed from the rack. The tabs do not remain on the rack and therefore do not create waste. The tabs are also long enough so that they can be tied together to provide a reliable closure mechanism which can be removed to reopen the bags.

The bagging system also includes several features that allow the bags to be self-opening, such as the bowed projection on the rear wall of the rack and a contact adhesive placed on the bag near the tab mounting slots, on the bottom of the tabs, or near the top of the walls of the bag.

The handle mounting arms of the rack extend upwardly to allow the bags to have a greater apparent capacity, so that the user can fill the bags more efficiently, thereby leading to less waste. The greater height of the mounting arms also increases the amount of work space available in the lower section of the rack to allow the bags to more fully expand when items are being placed in the bags.

The concave portion of the top bar of the rack pitches the bag forward to decrease the amount of force necessary to separate the front wall from the rear wall of the bags. The tabs of the bags that are loaded onto the rack are positioned to extend over the concave portion of the top bar. Therefore, the tabs are situated in this space until the corresponding bag is removed from the rack. Since the tabs are positioned in the space formed by the concave portion and do not spill forward, the rear wall of the rack can be positioned flush against the wall of the bagging station, thereby providing a clean, attractive appearance.

The tab mounting arms are forward curving to allow the user to load the bags more easily from the front and prevent the bags from sliding off the mounting arms.

Additionally, a side-mounted bag dispensing attachment 100 may be included with the main bag rack. FIG. 16 is an exploded perspective view of the side-mounted bag attachment 100 showing its mounting position on the rack 50′. The attachment 100 includes a handle support arm 101 which includes a side projection 102, an attachment mounting plate 104, a tab mounting hook 103, and attachment mounting clips 105-108.

The rack 50′, which is also suited to be used with bags 10, is provided with a support 90 for supporting the side-mounted bag dispensing attachment 100. As shown in FIG. 13, the support 90 includes an upper bar 92, intermediate bar 93, and a lower bar 94. As shown in FIGS. 16-18, the attachment clips 105-108 of the side-mounted bag dispensing attachment 100 engage the support 90 of the rack 50′. The attachment clips 105-108 are arranged to engage the upper, intermediate bar, and lower bars 92-94, thereby holding the attachment 100 in place. FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of the attachment 100 attached to the support 90. The attachment clips are biased such that attachment clips 105 and 106 are more curved than clips 107 and 108. Thus, the side-mounted attachment 100 can be mounted on the support 90 by first engaging clips 105 and 106 and then rotating the attachment 100 into place so that clips 107 and 108 engage the support 90. The side-mounted bag dispenser attachment 100 can be removed for the rack 50′ by rotating the attachment in the opposite direction until the clips 107 and 108 disengage the support and then clips 105 and 106 can be disengaged as well. Therefore, a side-mounted bag dispenser attachment 100 is provided that can be selectively attached to the bag rack 50′. Other means for selectively attaching the side-mounted bag dispenser 100 to the rack may be employed, such as clamps, a peg and key hole slot combination, or any other suitable means. A side-mounted bag dispenser 100 can be provided on either side of rack 50′, or even both sides.

As shown in FIG. 19, the side-mounted bag dispenser attachment 100 is suitable for holding additional convenience bags 110. The bags 110 have handles 114 with handle mounting slots 111 and a tab 113 with a tab mounting slot 112. The bags may also include a self-opening feature, such as a spot of contact adhesive (not shown). When the bags 110 are loaded onto the side-mounted dispenser 100, the user inserts the handle support arm 101 through the aperture formed by handle mounting slot 111. The user then inserts the tab mounting hook 103 through the aperture formed by the tab mounting slot 112.

As a user places items into bag 110, the tab mounting slot 112 may partly tear causing the tab 113 of the bag 110 to be dislodged from the tab mounting hook 103. However, the bag 110 remains supported by the bag handle 114 which is supported by the handle support arm 101. Thus, the user can continue to fill the bag 110 with various items without the need to support the bag. After the user has loaded the bag, the bag 110 may be removed by horizontally sliding the bag along the handle support arm 101. If a self-opening feature is included with the bags, sliding the loaded first bag will cause the successive bag to open. Handle support arm 101 is featured with an end portion 58A similar to the end portion of the main bag rack handle mounting arms 58, which includes a barrier or stopper. The barrier or stopper may include a notch 80, a rubber stopper 81, or an upwardly angled portion 82 as shown in FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 13A. The end portion of the handle support arm 101 of the side-mounted dispenser attachment 100 preferably includes an upwardly angled portion 82, preferably having an angle of approximately 45 degrees. The angled portion 82 provides sufficient force to overcome the adhesive force of the self-opening feature of bags 110, thereby preventing a successive bag from being pulled from the side-mounted dispenser 100 as the lead bag is removed.

Having described embodiments of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to those precise embodiments, and that various changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.