Title:
REVERSE BLISTER GROUND CALCIUM CARBONATES PACKAGING AND METHOD OF MAKING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to an environmentally friendly “reverse blister” style packaging article that contains a ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structure. The packaging article has a front card having a substantially flat front region and an opening formed therethough. The opening is at least partially covered by a layer of transparent material. The packaging article also has a back card that has a substantially flat back region and a recessed compartment that is capable of holding the retail product therein. The front and back cards are adhered to one another such that a product being held in the recessed compartment is visible through the layer of transparent material that at least partially covers the opening in the front card. The ground calcium carbonate composite structure can be flexible and pliable to impart enhanced performance characteristics as well as improved look and feel to the “reverse blister” style packaging article.



Inventors:
Tilton, Christopher R. (Laguna Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/945164
Publication Date:
02/19/2009
Filing Date:
11/26/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/453
International Classes:
B65D73/00; B65B47/00; B65D75/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VERMA, RISHI GOPAL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (Long Beach, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A packaging article capable of holding a retail product, the article comprising: (a) a front card comprising a substantially flat front portion having an opening formed therethrough; (b) a layer of transparent material at least partially covering the opening; and (c) a back card comprising a substantially flat back portion and a recessed compartment portion that is capable of holding the retail product therein; wherein at least one of the front and back cards are made from a composite structure containing ground calcium carbonate, and wherein the back card and front card are adhered to one another such that retail product held in the recessed compartment portion is visible through the layer of transparent material.

2. The packaging article according to claim 1 wherein the composite structure is a pliable composite structure comprising a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer covering a base layer.

3. The packaging article according to claim 2 wherein both the front card and back card are formed from the pliable composite structure.

4. The packaging article according to claim 2 wherein the back card is formed from the pliable composite structure, and wherein the recessed compartment portion is formed by at least one of vacuum forming and thermo-forming of the pliable composite structure.

5. The packaging article according to claim 2 wherein the base layer of the pliable composite structure comprises at least one of cellulosic fibers, chemical pulps, thermochemical pulps, natural starch-based foams, plastic, paper, paperboard, felt, non-woven mats, kraft linerboard and fiberboard.

6. The packaging article according to claim 2 wherein the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer of the pliable composite structure is of a thickness in the range of from about 2 to about 30 mils.

7. The packaging article according to claim 1 wherein the composite structure containing the ground calcium carbonate is a corrugated structure.

8. The packaging article according to claim 1 wherein one or more of the front and back cards contain printing thereon.

9. A method of making a packaging article to hold a retail product, the method comprising the steps of: (a) providing a front card and a back card, wherein at least one of the front card and back card comprises a composite structure containing ground calcium carbonate; (b) forming an opening in the front card and providing a transparent layer to at least partially cover the opening; (c) shaping the back card to form a recessed compartment therein capable of holding the retail product; and (d) adhering the front card and back card to one another; wherein the product held in the recessed compartment is visible through the transparent layer at least partially covering the opening in the front card.

10. The method according to claim 9, wherein step (a) comprises providing front and back cards wherein at least one of the cards is formed from a pliable composite structure comprising a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer covering a base layer.

11. The method according to claim 10, wherein step (a) comprises providing both front and back cards that are formed from the pliable composite structure.

12. The method according to claim 10 wherein step (a) comprises providing a back card that is formed from the pliable composite structure, and wherein (c) comprises shaping the back card to form the recessed compartment portion by at least one of vacuum forming and thermo-forming of the pliable composite structure.

13. The method according to claim 10 wherein step (a) comprises providing at least one of the front and back cards from a pliable composite structure having a base layer that comprises at least one of cellulosic fibers, chemical pulps, thermochemical pulps, natural starch-based foams, plastic, paper, paperboard, felt, non-woven mats, kraft linerboard and fiberboard.

14. The method according to claim 10 wherein step (a) comprises providing a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer that is of a thickness in the range of from about 2 to about 30 mils.

15. The method according to claim 9 wherein step (a) comprises providing front and back cards which are made from a composite structure containing ground calcium carbonate that is a corrugated structure.

16. The method according to claim 9 wherein step (a) comprises providing printing on one or more of the front and back cards.

17. A method of displaying a product for retail, comprising the steps of: (a) providing a packaging article comprising: (i) a front card comprising a substantially flat front portion having an opening formed therethrough; (ii) a layer of transparent material at least partially covering the opening; and (iii) a back card comprising a substantially flat back portion and a recessed compartment portion that is capable of holding the retail product therein, the back card being adhered to the front card; wherein at least one of the front and back cards are made from a composite structure containing ground calcium carbonate, and wherein the retail product held in the recessed compartment portion of the back card is visible through the layer of transparent material at least partially covering the opening in the front card; (b) placing the product within the packaging article; and (c) displaying the packaging article.

18. The method of displaying an article for retail according to claim 17 wherein step (a) comprises providing a packaging article comprising a composite structure that is a pliable composite structure comprising a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer covering a base layer.

19. The method of displaying an article for retail according to claim 18 wherein step (a) comprises providing a packaging article having both the front card and the back card formed from the pliable composite structure.

20. The method of displaying an article for retail according to claim 18, wherein step (a) comprises providing a packaging article having a back card formed from the pliable composite structure, and wherein the recessed compartment portion is formed by at least one of vacuum forming and thermo-forming of the pliable composite structure.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/956,690, filed Aug. 18, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to storage articles such as retail and/or shipping product packages having a pliable ground calcium carbonate-containing material that is highly attractive, efficient to manufacture, and environmentally friendly.

2. Related Art

Packages and packaging material for product retail and shipping purposes are typically designed to be sufficiently durable to allow reliable use of the materials. Considerations that are taken into account in the development of such packages and materials include their resistance to heat, fire and moisture, as well as resistance to infiltration by rodents and pests, and the ability of the packages and materials to deter theft. The packages and packaging materials are also desirably relatively inexpensive to manufacture, and are preferably attractive enough to the customer in appearance, feel and touch to encourage use of the products as well as to enhance the product image or association.

However, it can be difficult to create packaging products that are both attractive to consumers and inexpensive to fabricate while also being sufficiently durable to meet the needs of retail and shipping use. For example, some lower cost packaging options are poorly configured to prevent theft because of minimal investment in protective structures. Examples of packages that may not be as great of a theft deterrent are common blister packages, and shrink-wrapped or flexible film style packaging. While clamshell style packaging is an example of more theft resistant packaging due to the typically higher gauge materials used therein, the packaging is also often more expensive due to the use of the higher cost materials.

A further problem that exists with prior packaging products is that these products may not incorporate environmentally friendly materials and designs. Environmentally friendly materials can have desirable attributes such as biodegradability, compostability, a high recycled content, and may also use less energy, pollute less, and generate fewer greenhouse gases in their manufacture than previous materials. Such environmentally friendly materials are increasingly in demand from consumers and retailers, and can be beneficial for manufacturers by reducing adverse environmental impact of the material.

An example of an environmentally friendly material is ground calcium carbonate (GCC), which is a material that can be combined with bonding agents and extruded to form material layers. Environmentally friendly ground calcium carbonate extrusion materials include materials similar to ones with the tradename Via-Stone™ that is manufactured by Taiwan Lung Meng Corporation, which is incorporated into a synthetic commercial printing paper. The ground calcium carbonate material can be fabricated from natural sources, such as limestone, and can be biodegradable, and thus represents an advantage over other non-biodegradable and less environmentally friendly materials.

FIGS. 1a through 1c show a blister card package 10 that incorporates an environmentally friendly ground calcium carbonate material in a non-composite form, and that is commercially available from One Source Industries in Irvine, Calif. The blister card package 10 is formed by adhering a front card portion 12a to a back card portion 12b, with the front card portion 12a having a cutout sized to fit a plastic “blister” 14 therethrough in which the retail product 16 is contained and displayed. The blister 14 has flanges 18 that are sealed in between the two card portions 12a and 12b to form a sturdy blister card package 10. In this embodiment, a front card portion 12a may be fabricated of a card of ground calcium carbonate containing material, and the back card portion 12b can be formed of a rigid paperboard card. The front and back card portions 12a, 12b can then be heat sealed together to join the cards in a limited surface area that is dictated by the heat sealing pattern at the interface between the two card portions 12a, 12b, thereby trapping the blister between the two card portions 12a, 12b. Adhesive or glue can also be applied at various regions of the interface between the front and back card portions, such as about the blister flanges 18 or about a periphery of the cards. The typically rigid card materials used for the back and/or front card portions 12a, 12b, and use of adhesive or other agents in the adhesion of the card portions 12a, 12b forms a rigid and stiff overall card package, which has the advantages of imparting theft and tear resistance to the blister card package. The ground calcium carbonate-containing material also imparts an attractive look to the blister card package, with the ground calcium carbonate material having the added advantage that it is environmentally friendly, and renders the package readily printable with advertising or product information.

However, a problem with such blister card products is that they are typically not as attractive to consumers in terms of look, feel and touch, as other less environmentally sound products, due to the rigidity and tactile unpleasantness of the stiff packaging. Also, some large club stores require that packages have designs with sufficient external strength to allow for vertical and other stacking of the packages in pallet pack layers, which can be difficult to achieve when incorporating a plastic “blister” portion into the packaging. The blister packaging also may not provide the best theft deterrence.

Accordingly, there remains a need in the art for retail and/or shipping packages that are durable and cost effective while also being attractive to consumers in terms of appearance and touch. There is also a need for retail and/or shipping packages that are durable and attractive while incorporating environmentally friendly materials and being resistant to theft.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, the present invention is directed to an environmentally friendly packaging article (e.g., a retail and/or shipping package) that uses ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structures to form a “reverse blister” package that is pleasing to the look and touch, and that also has sufficient strength, durability and theft deterrence to render the packaging article suitable for product retail and shipping uses. The packaging article has a front card having a substantially flat front region and an opening formed therethough. The opening is at least partially covered by a layer of transparent material. The packaging article also has a back card that is adhered to the front card, and that has a substantially flat back region and a recessed compartment that is capable of holding the retail product therein. The packaging article is configured such that a product held in the recessed compartment is visible through the layer of transparent material that at least partially covers the opening in the front card. At least one of the front and back card, or even both of the cards, can be formed from the calcium carbonate-containing composite structure, which advantageously can be fabricated in the form of a flexible and pliable calcium carbonate-containing composite structure that imparts enhanced performance characteristics as well as improved look and feel to the reverse blister package.

In one version, the pliable composite structure used to form the reverse blister packaging article has a base layer and a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer covering the base layer. The base layer and ground calcium carbonate-containing layer are shaped, sized and manufactured such that the pliable composite structure formed therefrom is sufficiently pliable and flexible to form the packaging article. The pliable composite structure can be formed by adhering the calcium carbonate-containing layer to the base layer, and shaping the pliable composite structure into a desired component form, such as by vacuum or thermoforming the composite structure to form a back card having one or more recessed compartments with the desired sizes and shapes.

A method of making the packaging article can include the steps of providing the front and back card, forming an opening in the front card and providing a transparent layer to at least partially cover the opening. The method can also include the steps of shaping the back card to form a recessed compartment therein capable of holding the retail product, and adhering the front and back card together such that a product held in the recessed compartment is visible through the transparent layer that at least partially covers the opening in the front card. To use the packaging article in a method of display for retail, the retail product is place within the article, and the packaging article is placed on a store shelve and/or other display.

The present invention is best understood by reference to the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These as well as other features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1a is a schematic side view of a prior art blister card package showing a product held in a blister that is sandwiched between top and bottom card portions;

FIG. 1b is a schematic side view of the prior art blister card package of FIG. 1a having the top and bottom card portions sealed to one another;

FIG. 1c is a schematic front view of the prior art blister card package of FIGS. 1a-1b showing the product displayed within the blister portion of the package;

FIG. 2a is a schematic side view of an embodiment of a “reverse blister” packaging article having a recessed compartment portion and comprising a ground calcium-carbonate composite structure;

FIG. 2b is a schematic top view of the “reverse blister” packaging article of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 2c is a reversed schematic side view of the “reverse blister” packaging article of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 2d is a schematic front view of the “reverse blister” packaging article of FIG. 2a, showing a product viewable within the recessed compartment of the article;

FIGS. 3a-3c are schematic front, back and side views, respectively, of an embodiment of a “reverse blister” packaging article having multiple recessed compartment portions;

FIG. 4 is a side view of an embodiment of a foldover card version of the “reverse blister” packaging article;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a composite structure having a base layer and a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer covering the base layer;

FIG. 6 a schematic side view of a vacuum-forming apparatus suitable for molding composite structures to form the packaging articles;

FIG. 7a is a sectional side view of a corrugated structure having the pliable composite structure; and

FIG. 7b is a sectional top view of the corrugated structure having the pliable composite structure of FIG. 7a.

Common reference numerals are used throughout the drawings and detailed description to indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The detailed description set forth below is intended as a description of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and sequences of steps for constructing and operating the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments and that they are also intended to be encompassed within the scope of the invention.

It has been discovered that environmentally friendly and attractive packaging articles 20 can be constructed by using ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structures 22 to formulate a “reverse-blister” style package having high durability. The ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structures 22 may impart enhanced pliability to parts used to fabricate the packaging article 20 thereby allowing for the formation of the reverse-blister configuration, while also improving the overall look and feel of the package. The reverse-blister configuration also typically uses less plastic and other environmentally unfriendly materials than conventional blister-pack configurations, is durable and suitable for packing of the packaging article 20 on store shelves and on shipping pallets, and also allows for a more attractive and durable display of the retail product 19. The use of calcium carbonate-containing composite structures further provides added benefits in enhancing the moisture, heat, fire and pest resistance of the reverse blister packaging article 20.

Embodiments of a packaging article 20 having a “reverse blister” package configuration for holding the retail product 19 are shown in FIGS. 2a-2d. The packaging article 20 comprises a front card 30 that has a substantially flat front portion 32, that may even be entirely substantially flat. The front card 30 has an opening 34 formed in the substantially flat front portion 32 that passes through the thickness of the front card 30. A layer of transparent material 42 is provided to at least partially and even entirely cover the opening 34, with examples of suitable transparent materials including plastics and films such as poly-lactic acid containing films. The packaging article 20 further comprises a back card 36 that is adhered to the front card 30 to form the article 20. The back card 36 comprises both a substantially flat back portion 38 and also a recessed compartment portion 40 that projects out of the plane of the substantially flat portion 38 of the back card 36. The opening 34 and the recessed compartment portion 40 are sized and positioned with respect to one another such that a retail product 19 being held in the recessed compartment portion 40 is visible through the layer of transparent material 42 that at least partially covers the opening 34 in the front card 30, thereby allowing the retail product 19 contained within the article 20 to be viewed by a consumer. The recessed compartment portion 40 can be formed by molding or otherwise shaping the back card 36 to provide a compartment portion 40 that is sized and shaped to be capable of receiving and holding the retail product 19 therein. The recessed compartment portion 40 can be seen to provide the “reverse blister” aspect of the packaging article 20 in that the retail product 19 is held in the compartment formed from the card material that projects out from a back side of the joined cards 30, 36, rather than in a plastic blister that projects out in the front of the cards as in a conventional blister pack.

FIG. 2a shows a detailed view of the components of the reverse blister packaging article 20. The back card 36 is shown as having a recessed compartment portion 40 that is in the shape of a recessed rectangular compartment. An opening 34 formed in the front card 30 similarly has a rectangular shape, and is positioned in front of the recessed compartment portion 40. While rectangular shapes are exemplified for the opening 34 and recessed compartment portion 40, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to this embodiment, and the opening 34 and recessed compartment portion 40 can comprise any suitable shape and size that allows the product 19 to be contained within the article 20 and viewed through the opening 34. For example, other suitable shapes may comprise rounded or circular shapes, triangular shapes, irregular shapes, and others. The front and back cards 30, 36 can be adhered to one another by gluing or otherwise joining at least a portion of a front inner surface 52 of the front card 30 to at least a portion of a back inner surface 54 of the front card 30, such as a portion of the inner surfaces 52, 54 along the substantially flat front and back portions 32, 38 of the front and back cards 30, 36. The front and back cards 30, 36 may also be adhered by sealing front and back edges 44a, 44b along a periphery of the cards 30, 36 to one another. The layer of transparent material 42 is sandwiched between the front and back cards 30, 36, such that a product 19 that may be placed within the article 20 is trapped within the recessed compartment portion 40 of the back card 36. The layer of transparent material 42 may also contain an adhesive or sealant on the edges 46 of the layer 42 to adhere the layer 42 to one or more of the front and back cards 30, 36.

Thus, the reverse blister packaging article 20 allows for viewing of the product 19 held within the article 20 while only requiring a minimum amount of plastic in comparison to conventional blister packs, as the reverse blister packaging article 20 does not require the fabrication of large projecting plastic blisters and instead requires only the use of a layer of transparent material 42 that is sufficiently large to view the product 19 being held therein. FIG. 2b shows a back view of a completed packaging article 20 in the reverse blister configuration, while FIG. 2c shows a side view and FIG. 2d shows a front view of the reverse blister packaging article 20.

FIGS. 3a-3c show a further embodiment of a reverse blister packaging article 20 having a plurality of recessed compartment portions 40 to hold multiple retail products 19 and/or product parts therein. In the version shown, the back card 36 has been shaped and/or molded to provide two recessed compartment portions 40 that may be suitable, for example, for containing two different retail products or different pieces of the same retail product. FIG. 3a shows a front view of the article 20 with recessed compartment portions 40, while FIG. 3b shows a back view of the article 20 with the recessed compartment portions 40 projecting out of the otherwise substantially flat back card. FIG. 3c shows a side view of the article 20 illustrating that the compartment portions 40 can be formed with different sizes and depths, for example to hold multiple products 19 having varying different sizes. FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the packaging article 20 comprising a foldover card 50 that is scored in the center and folded to form the front and back cards 30, 36. The foldover card 50 in this embodiment is fabricated from a single card containing the opening 34 and recessed compartment portion 40, and having a layer of transparent material 42 attached to the card 50 to at least partially cover the opening 34.

At least one of the front and back cards 30, 36 are formed from the environmentally friendly composite structure 22 comprising a ground calcium carbonate-containing material. The composite structure 22 has a base layer 24 and a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 covering the base layer 24, as shown for example in FIG. 5. The composite structure 22 containing the calcium carbonate-containing material can also be advantageously fabricated such that it has a high degree of pliability and flexibility. For example, the base layer 24 and ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 can be shaped, sized and manufactured such that the composite structure 22 formed therefrom has a pliability that is sufficient to allow for the production of the packaging article 20. The pliability of the composite structure 22 can also impart an attractive tactile feel to the article 20 that is a substantial improvement over prior products. In one embodiment, both of the front and back cards 30, 36 are formed form the pliable composite structure 22 having the ground calcium carbonate-containing material. The front and back cards 30, 36 may also and/or alternatively comprise multiple layers of the ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structure 22.

As is known to those of ordinary skill in the art, a “composite” material is a material comprising two or more substances having different physical characteristics, in which each substance retains its identity while contributing desirable properties to the whole. The term “composite” may especially refer to those materials for which each substance contributes desirable properties to the whole that are greater than the otherwise additive contribution of each substance in the absence of the other, in effect creating a material that has properties greater than the mere sum of its parts. This is in contrast to, for example, the prior art non-composite product shown in FIGS. 1a-1c, as the two layers 24, 26 of the pliable composite structure 22 according to the present invention are bonded along substantially the entire interface between the layers 24, 26, such as along substantially an entire top surface 25 of the base layer 24, to form a single composite structure. Also, the characteristics and manufacture of the layers 24, 26 and composite structure 22 are selected such that the combined composite structure 22 has properties including pliability and machinability that go beyond the capabilities of either material alone and that are not achieved by the prior art product.

A composite structure 22 that is pliable for use in at least one of the front and back cards 30, 36 of the packaging article 20 can be formed by controlling the sizes, shapes and manufacture of the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 and base layer 24 to form the composite structure 22. For example, a thickness of one or more of the layers 26, 24 can be controlled to provide more or less pliability in the resulting composite structure 22, with thinner layers typically being more pliable than thicker layers. The thicknesses of the layers 26, 24 are also selected with regard to desired durability requirements, with thicker layers typically providing more durability over very thin layers. A suitable thickness of the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 that provides good pliability as well as durability of the pliable composite structure may be, for example, from about 2 to about 30 mils.

The manufacture of the layers 26, 24 can also be controlled to provide layer compositions that impart a desired pliability in the pliable composite structure 22. For example, the composition and amount of bonding agent used in the formation of the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 can be selected to provide the desired flexibility and pliability of the resulting composite structure 22. In one version, a type of a bonding agent, such as a thermoformable bonding agent, can be added to the ground calcium-containing layer 26 in a prescribed amount that is sufficient to provide a composite structure 22 that is capable of being formed into a desired package shape by applying at least one of heat, pressure and vacuum, such as for example by at least one of thermoforming and vacuum forming. For example, a prescribed amount of bonding agent may be added to the calcium carbonate-containing material such that the card containing the material can be molded by, e.g. vacuum or thermoforming to form the recessed compartment portion 40 therein. Suitable bonding agents that can be incorporated into the ground calcium carbonate-containing material include HPDE, bio-polymers, polylactic acids, and other bonding agents. The calcium carbonate of the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 can be derived from a limestone source or other calcium carbonate-containing sources. The content of the base layer 24 can also be selected to provide a base layer 24 that is sufficiently flexible for use in the formation of the pliable composite structure 22, while also being sufficiently durable to allow for at least one of retail and shipping use. The base layer 24 can be formed from materials such as paperboard, cellulosic fibers, chemical pulps, thermochemical pulps, natural starch-based foams, plastic, paper, felt, non-woven mats, kraft linerboard, corrugated materials, and fiberboard, among other materials. The size, shape and composition of the layers 26, 24 can be selected to provide a pliability of the resulting composite structure 22 that is sufficiently high to allow for formation of the reverse blister packaging articles 20 that have an attractive look and feel, while still being sufficiently sturdy and durable for retail and shipping use.

In one embodiment shown in FIGS. 7a-7b, the ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structure 22 takes the form of a corrugated material. Corrugated materials contain corrugated flutes 50 that are sandwiched in between top and bottom sheets 53a, 53b to form corrugated structures 41 suitable for use as either the front or back card 30, 36 of the packaging article 20. In this version, one or more of the flutes 50 and sheets 53a, 53b, may be formed of a pliable composite structure 22, to form a corrugated structure 41 having enhanced pliability as well as moisture and pest resistance. Additionally and/or alternatively, the composite structure 22 may contain a ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 that covers a base layer 24 that contains the corrugated parts such as flutes 50 and top and bottom sheets 53a, 53b. For example, as shown in FIG. 7a, the composite structure 22 may comprise a base layer 24 that is a corrugated material containing flutes 50 and inner top and bottom sheets 51a, 51b, with the base layer 24 being covered by top and bottom sheets 53a, 53b comprising the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26.

The ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structure 22 used in the formation of the packaging article 20 can be formed using a number of different manufacturing techniques. For example, a method of forming the composite structure 22 can comprise a milling step in which paperboard or another base layer material is formed into sheets having the desired base layer content and thickness, and the resulting sheets are gathered onto rolls. The milling step can also include a process of extruding the ground calcium carbonate material into sheets having the desired chemical content and thickness, and gathering the resulting sheets into rolls. The milling step can further comprise lamination of the base layer material with the ground calcium carbonate material to form the composite structure 22 having the base layer 24 and ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26. The base layer 24 may be laminated with the ground calcium-containing layer 26 on one or more surfaces of the layer 24, such as on top and bottom surfaces 25, 27, or on only a single surface, as show in FIG. 5. The base layer 24 can be laminated with the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 by adhering the layers 24, 26 to one another, for example by applying heat or pressure to one or more of the materials forming the layers 24, 26, or by optionally applying an adhesive between the layers 24, 26. In one version, the composite structure 22 is formed without the use of added adhesive between the layers 24, 26.

In one embodiment, the composite structure 22 that is used to form the reverse blister packaging article 20 has printing formed on portions thereof, such as printed advertisements or information about the product contained therein. For example, the packaging article 20 can have printing on one or both sides of the ground calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 and also or alternatively on one or both sides of the base layer 24. The printing can be carried out by well-known printing techniques, such as flexographic and lithographic printing. Packaging articles 20 having composite structures 22 with ground calcium carbonate-containing layers 26 can be attractively and brightly printed to increase consumer demand for the product as well as to convey important information about the product and contents to the customer. In this version, a printing step comprises feeding the base material or ground calcium-carbonate containing material through a printer. The printer can print on one or multiple surfaces of the material, and the same material can also be sent through the same or a subsequent printer.

The base layer material and ground calcium carbonate-containing material may also be subjected to a cutting step, either individually or as a part of the combined composite structure, to form parts of the desired package shape. The cutting step can comprise die-cutting portions of the materials, or cutting portions of the material or composite sheets with a rolling blade, for example. The cutting step can also form smaller portions for multiple articles. In one version, the cutting step is performed to cut front and back cards 30, 36 having the desired shapes, and even cutting the opening 34 in the front card 30. In the version shown in FIG. 4, the cutting step may be performed to cut the shape of the fold-over card 50 containing the front and back cards 30, 36.

In further embodiments, the individual materials and/or composite structure 22 are formed into a desired shape for the package 20 by molding under pressure, heat or vacuum. For example, the composite structure 22 may be shaped to provide a recessed compartment region 40 in a back card 36 that is otherwise substantially flat. In a vacuum molding process, the material and/or composite is forced against a mold under the force of vacuum, such that the material or composite adopts a shape conforming to the mold. As another example, in a thermoforming process, the materials and/or composite are heated while pressed against a mold to deform the material until it adopts a desired shape. Such molding may allow the composite structure 22 to adopt desired shapes, including even rounded or curved shapes. An example of a vacuum molding press 60 is shown in FIG. 6, which shows top and bottom press plates 62a, 62b and a mold 64, with the composite structure 22 being placed between the presses 62a, 62b and mold 64 and then vacuum pressed onto the mold by application of a vacuum between the presses 62a, 62b. The composite structure 22 may also have a sufficient pliability that allows for various folding and/or creasing steps to be performed to arrive at the final component shape, without requiring the application of heat or vacuum, such as creasing of a foldover card 50 to form the article 20. A combination of various molding and/or shaping steps may also be performed to form the final packaging article 20, as well as various cutting and shaping steps and steps to adhere additional decorative or functional parts, such as the layer of transparent material 42. Also, one or more composite structures 22 can be stacked or adhered to one another to form a desired article 20. For example, one or more of the front and back cards 30, 36 may be fabricated out of multiple layers each containing the composite structure 22.

The reverse blister packaging article 20 comprising the ground calcium carbonate-containing composite structure 22 provides an improved packaging article 20 with enhanced look and optionally a pliable feel that renders it more attractive to consumers than prior blister packages. Also, as the “blister,” i.e. recessed compartment portion is formed from the composite structure rather than a plastic bubble of material, the reverse blister configuration has improved durability and is less susceptible to warping or puncturing of the “blister” when stacked with other products on store shelves or in shipping pallets. The incorporation of a layer of transparent material such as a plastic or plastic film as a window for viewing the product also allows for the amount of environmentally unfriendly plastics used in the article to be reduced. Thus, the article 20 provides an environmentally friendly and attractive alternative to conventional blister packs that also gives good durability.

Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of components and steps described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices and methods within the spirit and scope of the invention. Along these lines, it should be understood that the reverse blister packaging articles 20 having the composite structure 22 containing ground calcium carbonate may take any of a variety of forms that are known or later developed in the art, and further contemplates that existing or newly formed reverse blister packages, such as newly formed retail and/or shipping blister packages, should fall within the scope of the present invention. Also, it should be understood that the base layer 24 and calcium carbonate-containing layer 26 can comprise various different materials such as other packaging materials and bonding agents that are other than those specifically described.