Title:
Reclosable animal feed container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A reclosable animal feed container is disclosed. The reclosable animal feed container comprises a flexible body defining a cavity to contain animal feed and having a closed bottom portion and a top portion; a removable portion coupled to the top portion removable to define an opening that provides access to animal feed contained within the body; and a closure device coupled to the body proximate the top portion and comprising a first deformable member extending from a first side of the body. The opening is reclosable by providing one or more folds to the top portion of the body and bending the first deformable member to engage the first side of the body.



Inventors:
Ziacik Jr., Frank A. (Minnetonka, MN, US)
Huppert, Jodi A. (Prescott, WI, US)
Van De, Ligt Jennifer L. G. (Brooklyn Park, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/879042
Publication Date:
01/15/2009
Filing Date:
07/13/2007
Assignee:
CAN Technologies, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
426/665, 426/392
International Classes:
B65B51/07; B65D75/58
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HELVEY, PETER N.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARGILL, INCORPORATED (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A reclosable animal feed container comprising: a flexible body defining a cavity to contain animal feed, the body having a closed bottom portion and a top portion; a removable portion coupled to the top portion removable to define an opening that provides access to animal feed contained within the body; a closure device coupled to the body proximate the top portion, the closure device comprising a first deformable member extending from a first side of the body; wherein the opening is reclosable by providing one or more folds to the top portion of the body and bending the first deformable member to engage the first side of the body.

2. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the closure device further comprises a second deformable member extending from a second side of the body, and wherein the opening is further reclosable by bending the second deformable member to engage the second side of the body.

3. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 2 wherein the closure device comprises a pair of spaced apart pliable wires at least partially encapsulated in a polymer material.

4. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 2 wherein the closure device comprises a pair of spaced apart pliable wires coupled together by a web of polymer material.

5. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 2 wherein the closure device is coupled to the body with an adhesive.

6. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 5 wherein the adhesive is a hot melt adhesive.

7. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 2 wherein the body comprises a front wall, a rear wall, and a pair of gusseted side walls.

8. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 7 wherein the pair of gusseted side walls comprise a first gusset side wall and a second gusset side wall wherein the first gusset side wall comprises nutritional information written in a first language and the second gusset side wall comprises nutritional information written in a second language.

9. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 7 wherein the first deformable member and the second deformable member are folded into the pair of gusseted side walls during transportation of the bag from the manufacture to the retailer.

10. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the closure device is coupled to the body by a thread and a sewing operation.

11. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the body comprises woven strips of a polymer material

12. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 11 wherein the closure device is woven into the body.

13. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the removable portion comprises a first tape wrapped around the top portion of the body, a second tape coupled to the first tape, and a thread releasably coupled to the first tape, the second tape, and the body.

14. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the body comprises a first indicia orientated in a first direction and a second indicia orientated in a second direction that is 180 degrees relative to the first direction.

15. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the bottom of the body is closed with a thread by a sewing operation.

16. The reclosable animal feed container of claim 1 wherein the bottom of the body is closed with a thread by a sewing operation after the animal feed is introduced into the body.

17. A method of packaging animal feed comprising: providing a flexible hollow body that contains animal feed, the body having a top and a bottom, the top and the bottom each having an opening; closing the opening in the top by application of a removable portion; coupling a closure device to the body proximate the top, the closure device comprising a deformable member and configured to engage the body during a reclosing operation by the consumer; introducing animal feed through the opening at the bottom to a cavity defined by the body and the top; closing the opening in the bottom to contain the animal feed within the body.

18. The method of claim 17 wherein the closure device includes ends projecting from opposite sides of the body and configured to engage the respective sides during a reclosing operation.

19. The method of claim 17 wherein the reclosing operation comprises folding the top of the body one or more times and bending a first end of the deformable member to engage a first side of the body and bending a second end of the deformable member to engage a second side of the body.

20. The method of claim 17 wherein the step of closing the opening in the top by application of the removable portion comprises applying a strip of material to the top adjacent the opening, and sewing a thread across the top through the body and through the strip of material.

21. The method of claim 17 wherein the step of closing the opening in the bottom comprises sewing a thread across the bottom.

22. A method of using an animal feed container having a flexible body with a closed bottom portion and a top portion, the method comprising: opening the top portion of the body; closing the top portion of the body by: providing one or more folds to the body and engaging the body with a closure device that is coupled to the body proximate the top portion by bending a first deformable member extending from a first side of the body.

23. The method of claim 22 wherein the step of engaging the body with the closure device further comprises bending a second deformable member extending from a second side of the body.

24. The method of claim 22 wherein the step of opening the top portion comprises removing a removable portion coupled to the top portion and configured to be readily removed to define an opening to provide access to animal feed contained within the body.

25. The method of claim 24 wherein the step of comprises removing the removable portion comprises separating a thread and tape strip from the top portion of the body.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to the field of animal feed bags or containers, and more specifically, to reclosable animal feed bag or container that also includes a quick-release opening feature.

Feed bags used for animal feed are generally known. Many conventional feed bags are made with a plastic-lined paper bag that is opened by tearing off a portion of the top of the feed bag (e.g., by way of a perforated seam, etc.). The feed bags may be designed to accommodate rather large quantities of animal feed (e.g., 50 pounds) that is not entirely used after the feed bag is originally opened, but is used up over time. The unused animal feed is typically stored within the opened feed bag until the animal feed within the food bag is fully used. Therefore, it is often desirable to be able to reclose and/or reseal the animal feed bag between uses to, for example, preserve the freshness of the animal feed and avoid spillages of the animal feed should the feed bag be tipped over, dropped, etc. However, difficulties often arise in providing a simple, low-cost way to reclose and/or reseal feed bags. For example, some feed bags may be provided with no way to reclose or re-reseal the feed bag, and users may attempt to fold or roll the feed bag to reclose the feed bag. This may be difficult to do because feed bags are often made of relatively stiff materials that resist being folded, rolled, etc. without being restrained in the rolled or folded position. Also, such folding, rolling, etc. may obscure indicia (such as text or graphics).

Some feed bags may be provided with a resealable portion (e.g., a plastic “zipper,” tape adhesive, etc.) that enables a user to reseal the top of the bag between uses. However, these seals often become less effective and unreliable as fines (e.g., small particles of animal feed, etc.) and other undesirable items become trapped in or on the seal material.

Accordingly, it would be advantageous to provide an animal feed bag having a quick-release opening feature and an improved closure device that permit easy and reliable opening and reclosure of an animal feed bag.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates to a reclosable animal feed container. The reclosable animal feed container comprises a flexible body defining a cavity to contain animal feed, the body having a closed bottom portion and a top portion; a removable portion coupled to the top portion removable to define an opening that provides access to animal feed contained within the body; and a closure device coupled to the body proximate the top portion, the closure device comprising a first deformable member extending from a first side of the body. The opening is reclosable by providing one or more folds to the top portion of the body and bending the first deformable member to engage the first side of the body.

The present invention also relates to a method of packaging animal feed. The method comprises providing a flexible hollow body that contains animal feed, the body having a top and a bottom, each having an opening; closing the opening in the top by application of a removable portion; coupling a closure device to the body proximate the top, the closure device comprising a deformable member and configured to engage the body during a reclosing operation by the consumer; introducing animal feed through the opening at the bottom to a cavity defined by the body and the top; and closing the opening in the bottom to contain the animal feed within the body.

The present invention further relates to a method of using an animal feed container having a flexible body with a closed bottom portion and a top portion. The method comprises opening the top portion of the body and closing the top portion of the body. The top portion is closed by providing one or more folds to the body and engaging the body with a closure device that is coupled to the body proximate the top portion by bending a first deformable member extending from a first side of the body.

The present invention further relates to various features and combinations of features shown and described in the disclosed embodiments. Other ways in which the objects and features of the disclosed embodiments are accomplished will be described in the following specification or will become apparent to those skilled in the art after they have read this specification. Such other ways are deemed to fall within the scope of the disclosed embodiments if they fall within the scope of the claims which follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the animal feed bag of FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a cross-section of the animal feed bag of FIG. 1 taken along line 3-3 shown in FIG. 3 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of a closure device for the animal feed bag of FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a detail view of a portion of material for the animal feed bag of FIG. 1 taken along line 5-5 shown in FIG. 2 according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of animal feed and an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIGS. 7A-7B illustrate various stages of an animal feed bag being opened according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIGS. 8A-8B, 9 and 10 illustrate various stages of an animal feed bag being reclosed according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 11 is a cross-section of a portion of an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating a portion of the process of manufacturing an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a flow chart illustrating a portion of the process of opening and reclosing an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, a reclosable animal feed bag 10 (e.g., a container, sack, carrier, etc.) is shown according to an exemplary embodiment. Animal feed bag 10 is used to store feed, or the like, for animals or pets. Feed bag 10 includes a generally flexible, hollow, body portion 12, a top portion or top 14, and a bottom portion or bottom 16. Feed bag 10 also includes two gusseted side portions 20, 22, as shown best in FIG. 1. According to various alternative embodiments, feed bag 10 may be used to store a wide variety of animal feed materials.

According to an exemplary embodiment, feed bag 10 has an interior portion or cavity 18 that is used to store various animal feed products such as animal feed 62. Cavity 18 is defined by body 12, which is closed at bottom 16 by a thread 42, and closed at top 14 with a quick-release opening mechanism 24 (e.g., a removable portion, etc.) Body 12 includes a first or front portion 44 (e.g., a wall, surface, etc.) and a second or rear portion 46 (e.g., a wall, surface, etc.). Feed bag 10 is also provided with a closure device 26 that enables users to reclose or seal feed bag 10 and store unused portions of animal feed 62. Body 12 may further include one or more indicia 38, 40 (e.g., text, graphics, etc.) on front surface 44. According to one embodiment, indicia 40 is provided at a 180 degree orientation (e.g., with inverted text graphics, etc., when feed bag 10 is in the upright position) with respect to indicia 38. According to yet another embodiment, indicia 68 may be provided on one or both of gusseted side portions 20, 22. For example, according to one embodiment, indicia 68 may include nutritional information regarding animal feed 62 and be provided in a first language (e.g., English, etc.) on one of gusseted side portions 20, 22 and be provided in a second language (e.g., Spanish, etc.) on the other of gusseted side portions 20, 22.

According to one embodiment, opening mechanism 24 provides a secure closure for feed bag 10 until feed bag 10 is opened, and provides a quick and easy way for a user to open feed bag 10 when desired. As shown in FIGS. 1-3, prior to feed bag 10 being opened, opening mechanism 24 secures front portion 44 of body 12 to rear portion 46 of body 12 (see FIG. 3) to securely retain animal feed 62 within feed bag 10. Opening mechanism 24 includes a first tape or strip 28 and a second tape or pull strip 30 that are secured to body 12 at top portion 14 by a thread 32. Strip 28 is folded over the top of body 12 and extends beyond the width of body 12 to either side of body 12. Pull strip 30 is provided on one side of body 12. Thread 32 secures pull strip 30 and strip 28 to body 12 at top portion 14. According to one embodiment, thread 32 is provided in a fashion that permits a user to move pull strip 30 away from strip 28 to release (e.g., unravel, unthread, etc.) thread 32, thereby permitting a user to remove and discard strip 28 and pull strip 30 and open feed bag 10 (as discussed in further detail below). Referring to FIG. 11, according to one embodiment, thread 32 secures strip 28 and pull strip 30 to body 12 using a series of looped portions 70 that are inter-meshed when feed bag 10 is closed, and become un-meshed as pull strip 30 is pulled away from strip 28. Strip 28 and/or pull strip 30 may be made from a variety of materials (e.g., paper materials, polymers, etc.) using various constructions.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, closure device 26 will be discussed in greater detail. Closure device 26 is configured to selectively engage body 12 to retain feed bag 10 in a closed or sealed condition. As shown in FIGS. 1-3, closure device 26 is an elongated member that is secured to a surface (e.g., front surface 44 or rear surface 46) of body 12 proximate to top 14 of feed bag 10. It should be understood that terms such as “front” and “rear” are used for convenient reference, not limitation, on an exemplary embodiment and other embodiments may reverse the structure relative to the “front” and “rear” and the like. Closure device 26 includes two deformable members, shown as tabs 34, 36 (e.g., projections, extensions, deformable members, ends, etc.), that extend beyond the sides of body portion 12 to permit a user to grasp and manipulate tabs 34, 36. Tabs 34, 36 may be bent (e.g., contorted, etc.) by the user to a desired configuration and retain this configuration. According to one embodiment, closure device 26 is located approximately 2.5 inches from the top edge of body 12. According to various alternative embodiments, closure device 26 may be located at any suitable location on a surface of body 12 that provides the proper closure features.

According to one embodiment, shown in FIG. 4, closure device 26 includes two deformable or pliable wires 54, 56 (e.g., metal wires, such as low carbon steel wires, polymer wires, etc.) that are coupled to or captured with a support member 58 and extend the length of closure device 26. According to an exemplary embodiment, support member 58 is formed from a polymer material (e.g., a blend of polyethylene resins, etc.) that encapsulates wires 54, 56 and couples the encapsulated wires together with a web portion 60. According to one embodiment, closure device 26 has a width of approximately 0.5 inches (e.g., measured between wires 54, 56) and extends approximately 1.5 inches beyond both sides of body 12. Alternatively, closure device may have a width in the ranges of approximately, 0.25 inches to 0.75 inches, or 0.2 inches to 1.0 inch, etc. Closure device 26 may also extend beyond both sides of body 12 by between 0.5 inches to 2.0 inches, 0.25 inches to 3.0 inches, etc. Various other configurations (e.g., sizes, shapes, lengths, widths, etc.) may alternatively be used for closure device 26.

Closure device 26 may be coupled to body 12 in a variety of ways. For example, according to an exemplary embodiment, closure device 26 is coupled to body 12 using an adhesive material, such as a hot-glue adhesive, a hot melt pressure sensitive adhesive, etc. According to another exemplary embodiment, closure device 26 may be sewn onto body 12 using a suitable thread material. According to yet another exemplary embodiment, closure device 26 may be incorporated into a weave structure of body 12 (e.g., in cases where body 12 is provided as a woven material, as discussed in greater detail with respect to FIG. 5). Other ways of coupling closure device 26 to body 12 may alternatively be used.

Referring now to FIG. 5, according to an exemplary embodiment, body 12 may be made from two substantially perpendicular groups of strips 50, 52 of material that are woven into a weave pattern 48. Weave pattern 48 provides a low-cost, durable construction for body 12 that resists tearing, ripping, etc. of feed bag 10, and prevents leakage of grease and/or fat from animal feed through feed bag 10. According to an exemplary embodiment, strips 50, 52 are made from a polymer material, but the material for strips 50, 52 may be varied to suit a particular application. As discussed above, weave pattern 48 may permit closure device 26 to be woven into the structure of body 12, providing a secure way of coupling closure device 26 to body 12. According to an alternative exemplary embodiment, rather than having a weave pattern such as weave pattern 48, body 12 may be made from a rolled sheet of polymer material or other suitable material.

Referring now to FIG. 6, according to an exemplary embodiment, an animal feed 62 is introduced into cavity 18 through an opening in bottom portion 16. As shown in FIG. 6, during the assembly of feed bag 10, opening mechanism 24 may be installed at top portion 14 after body 12 is cut to length and prior to closing bottom portion 16. While bottom portion 16 is open, animal feed 62 is introduced into cavity 18, after which bottom portion 16 is closed or sealed with thread 42 (see, e.g., FIGS. 2 and 3) using, for example, a sewing operation. According to one embodiment, closure device 26 may be coupled to body 12 prior to introducing animal feed 62 into cavity 18. According to an exemplary embodiment, tabs 34, 36 of closure device 26 are folded into gusseted side portions 20, 22 (e.g., such that they do not extend beyond body portion 12 as shown in FIG. 1) to facilitate transportation and storage of feed bag 10 (e.g., between a manufacturer and retailer, etc.) and prevent damage or inadvertent removal of tabs 34, 36 prior to use by a consumer.

As discussed above, feed bag 10 is intended to provide an easy reclosure feature that enables users to store unused animal feed within feed bag 10 after opening feed bag 10 (e.g., after removing opening mechanism 24 as discussed above). Referring to FIGS. 7A-10, one exemplary process of opening and reclosing feed bag 10 will be discussed in greater detail. As shown in FIG. 7A, feed bag 10 is provided closed at top portion 14. A user may grasp pull strip 30 and move pull strip 30 away from strip 28, thereby releasing or unraveling thread 32, which secures pull strip 30, strip 28, and body 12 together at top 14. Referring to FIG. 7B, once opening mechanism 24 is removed, front and rear surfaces 44, 46 (see FIG. 3) of body 12 may be pulled apart (or may open independently) to form an opening 64 through which the animal feed stored within cavity 18 may be accessed.

Referring now to FIG. 8A, after removing the desired amount of animal feed from feed bag 10, the user may fold top portion 14 over, for example, the portion of closure device 26 coupled to bag 12 (e.g., toward front surface 44 in the illustrated embodiment). The user may then secure bag 12 in the closed position by folding tabs 34, 36 over front portion 44. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 8B, the user may fold top portion 14 over, for example, surface of bag 12 opposite the surface with closure device 26 (e.g., toward rear surface 46 in the illustrated embodiment). According to yet another embodiment, shown in FIG. 9, top portion 14 may be folded at fold line 66 such that after folding, any text, images, etc. that are provided as part of indicia 40 (originally inverted as shown in FIG. 7B) appear in the upright position when feed bag 10 is folded or closed. Wires 54, 56 act to permit a user to manipulate or fold closure device 26 and tabs 34, 36 as required to secure top portion 14 in the folded position, yet provide sufficient strength to maintain feed bag 10 closed and prevent spillage should feed bag 10 be tipped, dropped, etc. by a user. In order to reopen feed bag 10, a user simply straightens tabs 34, 36 and unfolds body 12 to access cavity 18. Feed bag 10 may then be closed again as discussed herein.

While FIGS. 8 and 9 show feed bag 10 being closed with a single fold at top portion 14, as shown in FIG. 10, multiple folds may be used to fold top portion 14 and reclose feed bag 10. According to alternative embodiments, the user may employ any of a variety of folding techniques, directions, configurations, number of folds, and the like to obtain the desired level of closure or seal to the animal feed container.

Referring now to FIG. 12, a process for making an animal feed bag according to an exemplary embodiment is illustrated. First, a flexible hollow body (e.g., such as body 12) is provided (step 80). The top of the body is closed with a removable portion (e.g., such as opening mechanism 24) and a closure device (e.g., such as closure device 26) is coupled to the body (steps 82 and 84). Animal feed (e.g., such as animal feed 62) is then introduced through the opening at the bottom of the body (step 86), after which the opening at the bottom is closed to seal the animal feed within the body (step 88).

Referring now to FIG. 13, a process for opening and reclosing animal feed bag 10 according to an exemplary embodiment is illustrated. In order to gain access to the animal feed, the removable portion is removed from the top (step 90), after which the desired amount of animal feed may be removed. The feed bag may then be reclosed by folding the top of the body one or more times (step 92) and then bending a first deformable member to engage a first side of the body and a second deformable member to engage a second side of the body (step 94). Steps 92 and 94 may be reversed and repeated as required as animal feed is removed from the feed bag over the course of multiple uses.

It should be understood that feed bag 10 maybe provided in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different packaging requirements and differing amounts of animal feed. For example, feed bag 10 may be provided to contain varying weights of animal feed (e.g., 20 pounds, 40 pounds, 50 pounds, etc.) and may have varying dimensions of length (L), width (W) and height (H). For example, feed bag 10 may be provided as a 15 inch (L)×4 inch (W)×25 inch (H) container (to hold, for example, 20 pounds of animal feed), a 17 inch (L)×5 inch (W)×33 inch (H) container (to hold, for example, 40 pounds of animal feed), an 18 inch (L)×5 inch (W)×32 inch (H) container (to hold, for example, 40 pounds of animal feed), and/or an 18 inch (L)×5 inch (W)×36 inch (H) container (to hold, for example, 50 pounds of animal feed). According to various alternative embodiments, feed bag may be provided with various other dimensions to accommodate other amounts of animal feed.

It is important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of the animal feed bag as shown in the exemplary embodiments are illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, materials, colors, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter recited in the claims. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. In the claims, any means-plus-function clause is intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and/or omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present invention as expressed in the appended claims.