Title:
CIRCUMFERENTIAL RIB
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container has plural vacuum panels (21) located circumferentially around the body, an upper label area (23) located above the panels, and a lower label area (24) located below the panels. Each one of the upper label area and the lower label area have only one rib (25) that is circumferential but for only one discontinuity (26). The discontinuities are vertically located approximately between the outer boundaries of one of the panels. The upper and lower discontinuities may be vertically aligned with one another or offset from one another.



Inventors:
Mooney, Michael R. (Frankfort, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/301654
Publication Date:
07/23/2009
Filing Date:
05/22/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D8/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREER, BURNS & CRAIN, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A container capable of receiving a liquid at an elevated temperature and withstanding internal vacuum pressure upon sealing and cooling, the container comprising: an enclosed base; an upper portion that extends upwardly to a neck and a finish; and a generally cylindrical body located between the base and the upper portion, the body including: plural panels located circumferentially around the body, the panels being configured to inwardly deflect upon internal vacuum conditions; an upper label area generally located above the panels, the upper label area having only one rib, the upper label area rib being circumferential but for only one discontinuity, the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib being circumferentially located above one of the panels approximately between the outer boundaries of the panel; and a lower label area generally located below the panels, the lower label area having only one rib, the lower label panel rib being circumferential but for only one discontinuity, the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib being circumferentially located above one of the panels approximately between the outer boundaries of the panel.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib is approximately on a vertical centerline of one of the panels.

3. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib is within 10 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib is within 10 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels.

4. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib is within 5 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib is within 5 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels.

5. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib are located approximately on the centerline of the same panel.

6. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib are located proximate the centerlines of different panels, such that the upper discontinuity and lower discontinuity are circumferentially spaced apart.

7. The container of claim 6 wherein, for containers having an even number of panels, the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib is circumferentially spaced apart from the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib by approximately 180 degrees.

8. The container of claim 6 wherein, for containers having an odd number of panels, the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib is circumferentially spaced apart from the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib by approximately (180 degrees+(360 degrees)/(2n)) or by approximately (180 degrees−(360 degrees)/(2n)), where n is the number of panels.

9. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents approximately between 1 and 15 degrees of the container circumference at the upper label area and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents approximately between 1 and 15 degrees of the container circumference at the lower label area.

10. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents approximately between 3 and 10 degrees of the container circumference at the upper label area and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents approximately between 3 and 10 degrees of the container circumference at the lower label area.

11. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents approximately between 5 and 8 degrees of the container circumference at the upper label area and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents approximately between 5 and 8 degrees of the container circumference at the lower label area.

12. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents approximately 6.7 degrees of the container circumference at the upper label area and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents approximately between 6.7 degrees of the container circumference at the lower label area.

13. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents between approximately 3 percent and approximately 40 percent of the panel width and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents between approximately 3 percent and approximately 40 percent of the panel width.

14. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents approximately 16.5 percent of the panel width and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents approximately 16.5 percent of the panel width.

15. The container of claim 1 wherein the discontinuity of the upper label panel rib represents between approximately 10 percent and approximately 25 percent of the panel width and the discontinuity of the lower label panel rib represents between approximately 10 percent and approximately 25 percent of the panel width.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 60/802,736 filed May 22, 2006, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to containers and more particularly to containers suitable for hot filling with perishable foods or beverages.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When a perishable product (for example, orange juice) is put into plastic containers, a “hot-fill” process is used to eliminate bacteria. The hot-fill process typically includes filling the container at about 185° F. under approximately atmospheric pressure or temporary positive pressure of a few inches (water gauge) and immediately sealing the container. After sealing, the contents of the container contract upon cooling, which creates negative internal pressure or vacuum inside the container.

A simple cylindrical container would likely deform or collapse under the internal vacuum conditions of conventional hot-filling processes without some structure to prevent it. In this regard, some containers have panels (referred to as “vacuum panels”) located on the body of the container. The vacuum panels are configured to inwardly and easily deflect in response to internal vacuum such that the remainder of the container maintains its shape. Often, the vacuum panels are located about the circumference of the body of the container and then covered by a label that wraps around the circumference. Land areas between the panels provide surfaces on which the label may be applied. The inward deflection of the vacuum panels in response to vacuum pressure allows the container to maintain its shape for labeling and commercial appeal.

It has been a goal of conventional hot-fill container design to form approximately cylindrical portions (in transverse cross section) that maintain an approximately cylindrical shape upon cooling of the liquid and deflection of the vacuum panels.

SUMMARY

A container is capable of receiving a liquid at an elevated temperature and withstand internal vacuum pressure upon sealing of the container and cooling of the liquid. The container employs circumferential ribs that increase hoop stiffness and eliminate shape distortion while integral vacuum panels deflect inwardly. The ribs have a discontinuity that may enhance the top load strength of upper and lower label panels.

The container includes an enclosed base portion, a body portion, and an open-ended upper portion. The body portion is generally cylindrical and is disposed between the base portion and upper portion.

The body portion comprises a plurality of vacuum panels, a plurality of landing areas, an upper label area, a lower label area, an upper rib, and a lower rib. The vacuum panels may have any suitable shape designed to deflect inwardly upon internal vacuum conditions. The vacuum panels are disposed around the circumference of the body portion and are circumferentially spaced apart with landing areas located between the vacuum panels. Preferably, the upper label area has an upper rib extending circumferentially around the body portion except for one upper discontinuity, and the lower label area has a lower rib extending circumferentially around the body portion except for one lower discontinuity.

Many variants of the design of the container are envisioned. For example, in one embodiment, the upper discontinuity may be aligned approximately with the vertical centerline of one of the vacuum panels and the lower discontinuity may be aligned approximately with the vertical centerline of one of the vacuum panels.

Alternatively, the upper discontinuity may be aligned within 10 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels and the lower discontinuity may be aligned within 10 degrees of the vertical centerline of one of the panels.

The upper discontinuity and lower discontinuity may be aligned approximately with the vertical centerline of the same vacuum panel, or the upper discontinuity may be aligned approximately with the vertical centerline of one vacuum panel and the lower discontinuity may be aligned approximately with the vertical centerline of another vacuum panel, such that the upper discontinuity and the lower discontinuity are spaced apart around the circumference of the body portion. The present invention also encompasses discontinuities that are offset from the panel centerlines.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a view of an exemplary container;

FIG. 2A shows a partial cross sectional view of container of FIG. 1 taken along cross-sectional line II-II showing the upper rib;

FIG. 2B shows a partial cross sectional view of a portion of another embodiment of the container;

FIG. 2C shows a partial cross sectional view of a portion of another embodiment of the container;

FIG. 3A shows a partial cross sectional view of the container of FIG. 1 taken along cross-sectional line III-III;

FIG. 3B shows a partial cross sectional view of a portion of another embodiment of the container;

FIG. 3C shows a partial cross sectional view of a portion of another embodiment of the container;

FIG. 4A shows a cross sectional view of another container; and

FIG. 4B shows a cross sectional view of another container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a view of a container 1 according to an embodiment of the invention. As shown, a container 1 includes a base portion 10, a body portion 20, and an upper portion 30. The base portion 10 is generally cylindrical and forms the bottom enclosure of the container 1. The body portion 20 is generally cylindrical and is integrally formed above the base portion 10. The upper portion 30 is integrally formed above the body portion 20 and has an finish that defines a pour opening its the top.

The body portion 20 includes a plurality of vacuum panels 21, a plurality of landing areas 22, an upper label area 23, a lower label area 24, an upper rib 25, and a lower rib 26. The vacuum panels 21 are integrally formed around the circumference of the body portion 20 and are designed to deflect inwardly upon internal vacuum conditions in the container 1. The vacuum panels 21 may have any suitable shape, such as, for example, elliptical, circular, square, or rectangular as shown if FIG. 1. Preferably, vacuum panels 21 have a conventional structure and function, and are evenly spaced apart in a single circumferential row. And the present invention encompasses any spacing, quantity of panels around the circumference, quantity or configuration of circumferential rows, and other configurations.

The outer boundaries of the vacuum panels 21 define an arc width (Apanel) along the circumference of the body portion 20 of the container 1, as shown schematically in FIGS. 2A and 3A. The vacuum panels 21 are circumferentially spaced apart with landing areas 22 located between the outer boundaries of adjacent vacuum panels 21. The landing areas 22 provide surfaces for the application of labels around the body portion 20 of the container 1.

The upper label 23 area is located around the top of the body portion 20 and the lower label area 24 is located around the bottom of the body portion 20. The vacuum panels 21 and landing areas 22 are located between the upper label area 23 and lower label area 24. The upper label area 23 and lower label 24 also provide surfaces for the application of labels around the body portion 20 of the container 1.

As best shown in FIGS. 1 and 2A, upper label area 23 above vacuum panels 21 includes one upper rib 25. Upper rib 25 extends circumferentially around upper label area 23 of body portion 20, except for one upper discontinuity 26. As shown in FIG. 2A, the upper rib 25 forms a recess having a radial depth (Drib) from the surface of the upper label area 23. The recess formed by the upper rib 25 is interrupted by the upper discontinuity 26.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, upper discontinuity 26 is located above a vacuum panel 21 and is vertically aligned between the outer boundaries of the vacuum panel 21 such that upper discontinuity 26 is vertically aligned approximately with a vertical centerline C of the vacuum panel 21. In another embodiment shown schematically in FIG. 2B, an upper discontinuity 26′ may be circumferentially spaced apart or offset from a vertical centerline of a panel 21′ by an arc width Aoffset. Preferably, Aoffset is within approximately 5° or approximately 10° of a vertical centerline C of the vacuum panel 21′.

The surface of upper discontinuity 26 (and 26′) preferably is flush with the surface of the upper label area 23. In another embodiment, an upper discontinuity 26″ has a depth (Dupper) that is less than the depth (Drib) of the upper rib 25, which configuration is shown schematically in FIG. 2C. The following description of the ribs employs reference numeral 26 for convenience, and description applies also to rib embodiments 26′ and 26″.

Upper discontinuity 26 has an arc width (Aupper) along the circumference of upper label area 23 of body portion 20 that may measure between approximately 1° and approximately 15° and more preferably between approximately 3° and approximately 10° of the circumference of the upper label area 23 of the body portion 20. More preferably, the arc width (Aupper) of the upper discontinuity 26 measures between approximately 5° and approximately 8°, and preferably about 6.7°. Because the present invention encompasses vacuum panels of any configuration, the arc width of upper discontinuity 26 is provided based on a percentage of the arc width of the panel. In this regard, the arc width (Aupper) of the upper discontinuity 26 may measure between approximately 3% and approximately 40%, and preferably between approximately 10% and approximately 25%, of the arc width (Apanel) of the vacuum panel 21 over which it is aligned. In one embodiment, the arc width (Aupper) of the upper discontinuity 26 measures about 16.5% of the arc width (Apanel) of the vacuum panel 21 over which it is aligned.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3A, the lower label area 24 below the vacuum panels 21 includes one lower rib 27. Lower rib 27 extends circumferentially around lower label area 24 of body portion 20, except for a lower discontinuity 28. As shown in FIG. 3A, the lower rib 27 forms a recess having a radial depth (Drib) from the surface of lower label area 24. The recess formed by lower rib 27 is interrupted by a lower discontinuity 28.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 3A, lower discontinuity 28 is located below a vacuum panel 21 and is vertically aligned between the outer boundaries of the vacuum panel 21 such that lower discontinuity 28 is vertically aligned approximately with a vertical centerline C of the vacuum panel 21. In another embodiment shown schematically in FIG. 3B, a lower discontinuity 28′ may be circumferentially offset or spaced apart from a vertical centerline C of a panel 21′ by an arc width Aoffset. Preferably, Aoffset is within approximately 5° or approximately 10° of a vertical centerline (C) of the vacuum panel 21′. The surface of lower discontinuity 28 (and 28′) preferably is flush with the surface of the lower label area 24. In another embodiment, a lower discontinuity 28″ has a depth (Dlower) that is less than the depth (Drib) of the lower rib 27, which configuration is shown in FIG. 3C. The following description of the ribs employs reference numeral 28 for convenience, and description applies also to rib embodiments 28′ and 28″.

Lower discontinuity 28 has an arc width (Alower) along the circumference of lower label area 24 of body portion 20 that may measure between approximately 1° and approximately 15° and more preferably between approximately 3° and approximately 10° of the circumference of the lower label area 24 of the body portion 20. More preferably, the arc width (Alower) of the lower discontinuity 28 measures between approximately 5° and approximately 8°, and preferably about 6.7°. Because the present invention encompasses vacuum panels of any configuration, the arc width of upper discontinuity 26 is provided based on a percentage of the arc width of the panel. In this regard, the arc width (Alower) of the lower discontinuity 28 may measure between approximately 3% and approximately 40%, and preferably between approximately 10% and 25%, of the arc width (Apanel) of the vacuum panel 21 under which it is aligned. In one embodiment, the arc width (Alower) of the lower discontinuity 28 measures about 16.5% of the arc width (Apanel) of the vacuum panel 21 under which it is aligned.

Preferably, as shown, upper discontinuity 26 is aligned between the outer boundaries of a vacuum panel 21 and lower discontinuity 28 is aligned between the outer boundaries of a different vacuum panel 21. For example, FIG. 1 shows upper discontinuity 26 at the top dead center of a panel and lower discontinuity 28 at the bottom dead center of an adjacent panel. Preferably, for containers having an even number of vacuum panels 21, such as container 1 shown in FIG. 1, the upper discontinuity 26 is preferably circumferentially spaced apart from the lower discontinuity 28 by approximately 180°, which is indicated schematically by the location of lower discontinuity 28′″. Discontinuity 28′″ is shown in dashed lines to indicate that it is located on the backside of container 1 as oriented in FIG. 1. The approximate circumferential spacing of the upper discontinuity 26 and the lower discontinuity 28 in containers having an even number of panels is also shown by FIG. 4A. Referring to FIG. 4B, for containers 1 having an odd number of vacuum panels 21, the upper discontinuity 26 is preferably circumferentially spaced apart from the lower discontinuity 26 by approximately (180 degrees+(360 degrees)/(2n)) or by approximately (180 degrees−(360 degrees)/(2n)), where n is the number of panels.

The present invention is not limited to any location of discontinuities 26 or 28 relative to the adjacent vacuum panels unless the particular claim recites a location. The best mode is for the discontinuities to be spaced apart from the outer boundaries of the vacuum panels, or from corners of the vacuum panels in embodiments where comers exist, to keep the discontinuities from the high stresses associated with those locations.