Title:
ELASTOMERIC FOAM FOR OBJECT STORAGE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An object storage device with at least one first section made of elastomeric foam and including a first side surface, and at least one second section made of elastomeric foam and including a second side surface is provided. The second side surface of the second section is positioned adjacent to the first side surface of the first section to define a slit region between the sections for object storage. In some embodiments of the invention, the device includes a slit indicator that indicates the position of the slit region.



Inventors:
Sorensen, Joseph A. (Cambria, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/124537
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
05/21/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/564
International Classes:
B65D1/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUARLES & BRADY LLP (MAD) (Milwaukee, WI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An object storage device, comprising: a first section made of elastomeric foam and including a first side surface; and a second section made of elastomeric foam and including a second side surface; wherein the second side surface of the second section is positioned adjacent to the first side surface of the first section to define a slit region between the sections.

2. The object storage device of claim 1, further comprising an upper surface with a generally flat shape.

3. The object storage device of claim 1, further comprising an upper surface with a contoured shape.

4. The object storage device of claim 1, further comprising an upper surface with a constant shape in a first direction and a contoured shape in a second direction.

5. The object storage device of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second sections comprises a plurality of fingers with side surfaces, wherein the plurality of fingers of the first section are interdigitated with the plurality of fingers of the second section thereby defining slit regions between adjacent fingers.

6. The object storage device of claim 5, further comprising an upper surface with a constant shape in a first direction and a contoured shape in a second direction.

7. The object storage device of claim 5, wherein each of the first and second sections comprises a base portion to which the respective plurality of fingers connect and each finger tapers from an end connected to the base portion to an opposite end.

8. The object storage device of claim 1, wherein the first section is a different color than the second section.

9. The object storage device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of first sections and a plurality of section sections.

10. An object storage device, comprising: a first section made of elastomeric foam and including a first side surface; a second section made of elastomeric foam and including a second side surface positioned adjacent to the first side surface of the first section to define a slit region there between; and a slit indicator that indicates the position of the slit region; wherein the slit indicator is selected from a group of the first section having a color that is different than a color of the second section; the first section having a height that is different than a height of the second section, and at least one of the first and second side surfaces having a chamfered portion.

11. The object storage device of claim 10, wherein each of the first and second sections has an upper surface with a contoured shape.

12. The object storage device of claim 10, further comprising an upper surface with a constant shape in a first direction and a contoured shape in a second direction.

13. The object storage device of claim 10, wherein each of the first and second sections comprises a plurality of fingers with side surfaces, wherein the plurality of fingers of the first section are interdigitated with the plurality of fingers of the second section thereby defining slit regions between adjacent fingers.

14. The object storage device of claim 13, further comprising an upper surface with a constant shape in a first direction and a contoured shape in a second direction.

15. The object storage device of claim 13, wherein each of the first and second sections comprises a base portion to which the respective plurality of fingers connect and each finger tapers from an end connected to the base portion to an opposite end.

16. The object storage device of claim 10, further comprising a plurality of first sections and a plurality of second sections.

17. A method of creating an object storage device, comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of separate sections, each section including at least one side surface and being made of an elastomeric foam; and arranging the sections adjacent to one another such that at least one pair of side surfaces of adjacent sections forms a slit region.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of forming the plurality of separate sections using a die-cutting process.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of subjecting the plurality of separate sections to a compression molding operation.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the compression molding process forms a contoured surface on the plurality of separate sections.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/931,103 filed May 21, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a device for storing small objects.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Storage devices are well known in the art for storing and sometimes organizing sets of small objects, such as fishing lures, jewelry, sewing accessories, and other similar objects. Some storage devices simply provide a case with partitioned compartments in which objects are placed. Such devices are typically inexpensive but do not secure objects within the compartments. Therefore, objects can easily be spilled if the storage device is tipped.

Other types of storage devices provide a case with slits or grooves in which objects can be placed and secured. The slits or grooves may be provided in a foam component such that a hooked or pointed end of an object to be stored may pierce the foam. This results in an object that is secured to the storage device. However, repeated piercing of the foam can significantly reduce its useable life, requiring the foam to be replaced or a new storage device to be obtained. In addition, the slits may be difficult to locate if they are provided on flat surfaces.

Considering the limitations of previous storage devices for small objects, an improved design is needed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an object storage device with at least one first section made of elastomeric foam and including a first side surface, and at least one second section made of elastomeric foam and including a second side surface. The second side surface of the second section is positioned adjacent to the first side surface of the first section to define a slit region between the sections for object storage. In some embodiments of the invention, the device includes a slit indicator that indicates the position of the slit region.

In some embodiments of the invention, the device includes an upper surface with a constant shape in a first direction and a contoured shape in a second direction. In addition, in some embodiments of the invention, each of the sections includes a plurality of interdigitating fingers with side surfaces. The side surfaces of the fingers define slit regions.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the invention will appear in the detailed description that follows. In the description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that illustrate a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an object storage device according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the object storage device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a front view of the third embodiment of the invention of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a front view of the fourth embodiment of the invention of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a top view of a fifth embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side view of the fifth embodiment of the invention of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a top view of the fifth embodiment of the invention of FIG. 8 with first and second sections of the object storage device shown separated from each other;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a fly fishing lure being inserted into the object storage device of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a fly fishing lure being removed from the object storage device of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, an object storage device 10 of the present invention includes a plurality of first sections 12 and a plurality of second sections 12′. Although four sections are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, additional sections may be provided. The first and second sections 12 and 12′ are preferably made of an elastomeric foam that easily deforms and returns to its original shape. Materials from which the first and second sections 12 and 12′ may be made will be described in further detail below. The first sections 12 are preferably a different color than the second sections 12′. Each first section 12 includes an upper surface 14, a lower surface 16, end surfaces 18, and side surfaces 20. A second section 12′ is positioned adjacent to each side surface 20 of the first sections 12. Similar to the first sections 12, each second section 12′ includes an upper surface 14′, a lower surface 16′, end surfaces 18′, and side surfaces 20′. The side surfaces 20 and 20′ between adjacent first and second sections 12 and 12′ are preferably in contact or nearly in contact, but not mechanically connected. As such, a slit region 22 is formed at the interface between the side surfaces 20 and 20′ in which objects may be inserted and stored. The term ‘slit region’ should be understood as a slit in which areas, rather than only line segments, of side surfaces 20 and 20′ are in contact or nearly in contact and separated by a uniform distance. In addition, each slit 22 preferably defines a plane that is generally perpendicular to the lower surfaces 16 and 16′. The color difference between the first and second sections 12 and 12′ permits easy identification of the location of the slits 22 between the side surfaces 20 and 20′.

The object storage device 10 may be placed in a storage box or soft-sided container such that the lower surfaces 16 and 16′ are attached to the container. Although the side surfaces 20 and 20′ between adjacent first and second sections 12 and 12′ are preferably not connected, a connection may be useful in some cases. For example, the ratio of the height of the end surfaces 18 and 18′ to the base length of the end surfaces 18 and 18′ shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is about 1:1. If the design of the object storage device 10 is modified such that this ratio is larger (i.e., the first and second sections 12 and 12′ are relatively tall), it may be advantageous to connect a portion of the side surfaces 20 and 20′ near the lower surfaces 16 and 16′. The portion of the side surfaces 20 and 20′ near the lower surfaces 16 and 16′ may be connected by any appropriate means, such as using an adhesive. Such a connection, if used, is preferably only used in a small area of the side surfaces 20 and 20′, thereby permitting the majority of each slit 22 to be used for object storage.

As discussed above, the object storage device 10 may be placed in a storage box or soft-sided container such that the lower surfaces 16 and 16′ are attached to the container. Alternatively, the object storage device 10 may be used separately from a container as a patch, such as a fly patch. Fly patches are a well known type of fly fishing component.

An object may be inserted into a slit 22 at the interface between two side surfaces 20 and 20′ by several methods. For example, a user may use his or her fingers to separate and hold the side surfaces 20 and 20′ and insert an object thereafter. Alternatively, a user may simply use part of the object to press down on the interface thereby separating the side surfaces. Preferably, only part of the object is inserted into the slit 22 between the side surfaces 20 and 20′ so that another part of the object remains visible and above the upper surfaces 14 and 14′.

The object storage device 10 may be used for fly fishing lure storage, although other uses are contemplated. For example, the object storage device 10 may be used to hold jewelry, sewing accessories, and other small objects. Referring to FIG. 11, the hook section 102 of a fly fishing lure 100 is preferably inserted in the slit 22 between the side surfaces 20 and 20′. The hook section 102 is preferably inserted in the direction shown in FIG. 11 so that the hook 102 does not pierce the device 10. As such, the side surfaces 20 and 20′ preferably contact the sides of the hook 102 and support the hook 102 by friction forces rather than embedding the point of the hook 102 in the foam. The fly fishing lure 100 may be removed from the slit 22 by pulling the lure 100 towards the upper surfaces 14 and 14′, or by pulling the lure 100 upward and toward the end surfaces 18 and 18′ simultaneously, as shown in FIG. 12. The lure 100 is preferably removed by using the latter method, as this reduces the possibility of piercing the device 10 with the hook 102.

As briefly described above, the first and second sections 12 and 12′ of the present invention are made from an elastomeric foam. Specifically, the first and second sections 12 and 12′ are preferably made from a closed-cell crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3. Minicel® L600 produced by Sekisui Voltek of Lawrence, Mass. is an appropriate closed-cell XLPE foam. The closed-cell structure of foams, such as Minicel® L600, provide resistance to water absorption as well as a resilient material. Other types of elastomeric foam may be used to form the first and second sections 12 and 12′. However, a closed-cell XLPE foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3 is preferred since the material provides a suitable combination of water absorption resistance, memory, tear resistance, shape retention, and a proper grip for holding stored objects.

The first and second sections 12 and 12′ of the present invention are preferably formed by a die-cutting operation. Die-cutting operations are well known in the art for shaping components, including components made of elastomeric foam.

Referring to FIG. 3, a second embodiment of an object storage device 110 of the present invention includes a plurality of first sections 112 and a plurality of second sections 112′. Although four sections are shown in FIG. 3, additional sections may be provided. Also like the first embodiment of the invention, the first and second sections 112 and 112′ are preferably made from a closed-cell XLPE foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3 and formed by a die-cutting process. The first and second sections 112 and 112′ include upper surfaces 114 and 114′, respectively, and the upper surfaces 114′ of the second sections 112′ are spaced at a height above the upper surfaces 114 of the first sections 112. Like the first embodiment of the storage device, each first section 112 further includes a lower surface 116, end surfaces 118, and side surfaces 120. Each second section 112′ further includes a lower surface 116′, end surfaces 118′, and side surfaces 120′. The side surfaces 120 and 120′ between adjacent first and second sections 112 and 112′ are preferably in contact or nearly in contact, but not mechanically connected. As such, a slit region 122 is formed at the interface between the side surfaces 120 and 120′ in which objects may be inserted and stored. Each slit 122 preferably defines a plane that is generally perpendicular to the lower surfaces 116 and 116′. The height difference between the upper surfaces 114 and 114′ permits easy identification of the location of the slits 122 between the side surfaces 120 and 120′. Objects are preferably inserted and stored in the slits 122 in the same manner as discussed with the first embodiment of the object storage device 10.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, a third embodiment of the present invention is an object storage cylinder 210. Like the above embodiments of the invention, the object storage cylinder 210 is preferably made of a closed-cell XLPE foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3 and formed by a die-cutting process. The object storage cylinder 210 includes a plurality of sections 212. Unlike the previous embodiments of the invention, the object storage cylinder 210 preferably includes only identical sections. Each section 212 includes an outer surface 230, an inner surface 232, and side surfaces 234. Chamfered surfaces 236 are included between the outer surface 230 and the side surfaces 234. Chamfered surfaces 236 are preferably frustoconical in shape. The side surfaces 234 between adjacent sections 212 are preferably in contact or nearly in contact, but not mechanically connected. As such, a slit region 222 is formed at the interface between the side surfaces 234 in which objects may be inserted and stored. The chamfered surfaces 236 permit easy identification of the location of the slits 222 between the side surfaces 234. Objects are preferably inserted and stored in the slits 222 in a similar manner as discussed with the previous embodiments of the invention. The inner surfaces 232 of the sections 212 connect to a rod (not shown) for support and carrying the sections 212.

As discussed above, the sections of the object storage device may be partially connected if the sections are relatively tall. Similarly, the side surfaces 234 between adjacent sections 212 may be connected if the ratio of the radius of the outer surface 230 to the distance between side surfaces 234 of a single section 212 is larger than 1:1 (i.e., the sections 212 are relatively flat). Such a connection, if used, is preferably only used in a small area of each slit 222, thereby permitting the majority of each slit 222 to be used for object storage.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, a fourth embodiment of an object storage device 310 of the present invention includes a plurality of first sections 312 and a plurality of second sections 312′. It should be noted that only a single second section 312′ is shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. However, additional first and second sections 312 and 312′ may be added to create a larger device. Like the above embodiments of the invention, the first and second sections 312 and 312′ are preferably made of a closed-cell XLPE foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3 and formed by a die-cutting process. The first sections 312 are preferably a different color than the second sections 312′. Each first section 312 includes a contoured upper surface 314, a lower surface 316, end surfaces 318, and side surfaces 320. Second sections 312′ are positioned adjacent to each side surface 320 of the first sections 312. Similar to the first sections 312, each second section 312′ includes a contoured upper surface 314′, a lower surface 316′, end surfaces 318′, and side surfaces 320′. The side surfaces 320 and 320′ between adjacent first and second sections 312 and 312′ are preferably in contact or nearly in contact, but not mechanically connected. As such, a slit region 322 is formed at the interface between the side surfaces 320 and 320′ in which objects may be inserted and stored. Each slit 322 preferably defines a plane that is generally perpendicular to the lower surfaces 316 and 316′. Objects are preferably inserted and stored in the slits 322 in the same manner as discussed with the previous embodiments of the invention.

As shown in FIG. 6, the contoured upper surfaces 314 and 314′ are preferably contoured in direction 1 and have a constant height in direction 2. Direction 1 is preferably in the plane defined by the side surfaces 320, and direction 2 is preferably perpendicular to the plane defined by the side surfaces 320. If the object storage device 310 is used for fly fishing lure storage, the low areas of the upper surfaces 314 and 314′ may provide a recess that helps prevent the hackles of fly fishing lures from being damaged in storage. Alternatively, other types of contour shapes differing from that shown in FIG. 6 may be used for the upper surfaces 314 and 314′. For example, a contour shape may be used that is symmetric over a vertical plane that passes through the middle of the device 10. As another alternative, the upper surfaces 314 and 314′ may be flat.

The contoured upper surfaces 314 and 314′ are preferably formed by a compression molding operation after the die-cutting process. Compression molding operations are well known in the art. However, compression molding typically involves pressing a stock of raw material. In the present invention, a sheet of preheated elastomeric foam is subjected to the compression molding operation. The compression molding apparatus includes a metal mold that is the inverse shape of the contoured upper surfaces 314 and 314′ and a flat plate that supports the lower surfaces 316 and 316′. In the operation, the sheet of elastomeric foam is first heated to a temperature just below its melting point. The sheet of foam is then compressed between the mold and the flat plate. The sheet of foam is held in the mold until cool, and thereafter the sheet of foam retains the shape of the mold.

As shown in FIGS. 8-10, a fifth embodiment of an object storage device 410 of the present invention includes a first section 412 and a second section 412′. Like the above embodiments of the invention, the first and second sections 412 and 412′ are preferably made of a closed-cell XLPE foam with a nominal density of about 6.0 lb/ft3 and formed by a die-cutting process. The first section 412 is preferably a different color than the second section 412′. The first section 412 includes a contoured upper surface 414, a lower surface 416, base portion 440, and a plurality of fingers, two of which are indicated by reference numeral 442, with side surfaces 420. Similar to the first section 412, the second section 412′ includes a contoured upper surface 414′, a lower surface 416′, base portion 440′, and a plurality of fingers, two of which are indicated by reference numeral 442′, with side surfaces 420′. As shown in FIG. 8, the fingers 442 and 442′ interdigitate to form a generally rectangular device 410. In addition, the fingers 442 and 442′ preferably taper inward from an end connected to the base portions 440 and 440′, respectively, to an end distal to the base portions. Like the previous embodiments of the invention, the side surfaces 420 and 420′ between adjacent fingers 412 and 412′ are preferably in contact or nearly in contact, but not mechanically connected. As such, a slit region 422 is formed at the interface between the side surfaces 420 and 420′ in which objects may be inserted and stored. Each slit 422 preferably defines a plane that is generally perpendicular to the lower surfaces 416 and 416′. The color difference between the first and second sections 412 and 412′ permits easy identification of the location of the slits 422 between the side surfaces 420 and 420′. Objects are preferably inserted and stored in the slits 422 in the same manner as discussed with the previous embodiments of the invention.

As shown in FIG. 9, the contoured upper surfaces 414 and 414′ are preferably contoured with a shape similar to the upper surfaces 314 and 314′ of the device 310. In addition, the contoured upper surfaces 414 and 414′ are preferably formed by a compression molding operation. As such, if the object storage device 410 is used for fly fishing lure storage, the low areas of the upper surfaces 414 and 414′ may provide a recess that helps prevent the hackles of fly fishing lures from being damaged in storage. Alternatively, the object storage device 410 may be designed with contoured upper surfaces 414 and 414′ of a different shape, for example, a symmetrical shape. As another alternative, the upper surfaces 414 and 414′ may be flat.

The embodiments of the present invention are not limited to the number of sections shown in the figures. The number of sections shown in the figures represents examples, and any number of sections may be used according to this invention. In addition, it is specifically intended that the present invention not be limited to the embodiments and illustrations contained herein, but include modified forms of those embodiments including portions of the embodiments and combinations of elements of different embodiments as come within the scope of the following claims.