Title:
Garment compression system for travel and storage
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A garment compression system for travel and storage which effectively increases the useable volume in luggage, storage closets and storage areas is disclosed. The system consists of two cooperating substantially flat plate members, at least two lengths of belting surrounding the flat plate members for use in generating compressive forces and suitable buckles and fittings to retain the system in the compressed state. Buckles of sufficient strength located on the belting are capable of holding tension forces generated in the compression process, to withstand the force generated by the compression of the items between the cooperating flat plate members. The belting has loose ends for ease of removal of the top plate member to facilitate placing items to be compressed between the top and bottom plate members. Each of the plate members has a cooperating notch suitably placed to guide the belting during the compression operation. The end of the belting is manually pulled by the user with a tensile force that causes the top and bottom plate members to move closer together. This moving of the plate members causes the articles between the two plate members to compress, thereby squeezing out the voids in the various fabrics between the plate members.



Inventors:
Lupkas, Raymond R. (Milford, CT, US)
Application Number:
12/220665
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
07/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/68D
International Classes:
A44B99/00; A45C7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Raymond R. Lupkas (Milford, CT, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A garment compression system, comprising: at least two substantially identical flat members arranged parallel to each other with a gap there between into which articles to be compressed can be inserted, said members having aligned notches on their periphery to guide at least one co-working tension generating device wrapped around the flat members and a mechanism means that is able to hold tension and release tension that has been manually applied on each end of the at least one tension generating device.

2. The system according to claim 1 wherein said tension generating devices are straps.

3. The system according to claim 1 wherein two tension generating devices are wrapped in parallel around said flat members.

4. The system according to claim 1 wherein two tension generating devices are wrapped perpendicular to each other around said flat members.

5. The system according to claim 1 wherein manual force applied by the user is sufficient to put the device into full operation and use.

6. The system according to claim 1 wherein the width of the top and bottom compression members is adjustable.

7. The compression system according to claim 1 wherein the tension generating device has a mechanical advantage greater than two.

8. The compression system according to claim 1 wherein said members are formed wire baskets capable of cooperating with the tension generating device.

9. A suitcase for the transporting of garments for travel comprising: two opposing end walls, two opposing side walls, a top wall and a bottom wall, said top wall being pivotably affixed to one of the side walls and adapted for opening and dosing so as to form an enclosure that may be opened and secured closed, said suitcase further comprising: a compression system, comprising: a flat bottom member affixed to the inside of said bottom wall, a top member having substantially the same shape as said bottom members, each of said members having aligned notches on their periphery to guide at least one co-working tension generating device wrapped around the flat top and bottom members and a mechanism means that is able to hold tension and release tension that has been manually applied on each end of the at least one tension generating device.

10. The suitcase according to claim 9 wherein said top and bottom members are sized to fit within the entire interior of said suitcase.

11. The suitcase according to claim 9 wherein said top and bottom members are sized to within a range of 50% to 100% of the interior length of said suitcase, whereby said suitcase can be utilized to contain both compressed garments and non-compressible articles.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority under 35 USC 119(e) from provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/070,475, filed Mar. 24, 2008, entitled Compression Travel & Storage System.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a garment compression system for travel or storage for a variety of goods, such as clothing, household or any other compressible items, whether for use in a suitcase for travel, or for use in a home, business, industrial or commercial location for storage. More specifically, the invention provides a device adapted for easy compression of packed items for transport or storage of any dry goods.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Here to fore, a simple, easy-to-use system for travelers to pack a large volume of garments into a limited space, such as an aircraft carry-on suitcase has not been adequate. Further, any similar system for household or commercial storage also has not been adequate. Prior devices often relied on vacuum to reduce the volume of garments. Furthermore, this vacuum process was often used at the end of the manufacturing process to allow more new garments to be packaged in a smaller container for shipping to a retailer. Other prior devices relied on electricity to power compressive mechanisms which made them most suitable for use in large scale garment manufacturing and packing operations. In the present environment, new restrictions are being placed on the number and size of luggage pieces that can be carried by a traveler without having to pay additional fees to the transporting carrier. What is needed is a device that allows clothing and other compressible household goods to be packed using a reliable compression packing system that has the added benefit of staying in the compressed state without the danger of losing its effectiveness due to loss of any compressive forces as experienced in vacuum systems on the market today. The present invention increases storage life and eliminates decompression that can occur in vacuum type of system failure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, a primary object of the subject invention is to provide a garment compression system for travel and/or storage that is easily operated without special equipment or training and in which the storage life of the compressed goods stored therein will be indefinite. Another object of the subject invention is to provide a compression storage system having no need for electrical power. Still another object of the subject invention is to provide a compression system adapted for easy storage of household items, such as clothing, household items, industrial items, and commercial items. These advantages are attained by providing a garment compression system, comprising of two or more substantially identical flat compression members arranged parallel to each other with a gap there between into which garments to be compressed can be inserted. Each of the compression members have aligned notches on their periphery to guide at least one co-working tension generating device wrapped around the flat compression members and a mechanism means that is able to hold tension and release tension that has been manually applied on the end of the at least one tension generating device. The tension generating device is a strap and multiple straps can be used in which case they would be arranged in parallel to each other or perpendicular to each other. The straps can be arranged with appropriate pulleys to provide a mechanical advantage to the user when applying a manual compression force to the compression members. In one embodiment, means is also provided to adjust the width of the compression members by manually operated screws or similar means. In yet another embodiment, the flat compression members are replaced by formed wire baskets which then cooperate with the tension generating device.

In another embodiment of the invention, the invention is built into a suitcase for the storage of garments for a traveler. The suitcase comprises two opposing end walls, two opposing side walls, a top wall and a bottom wall, with the top wall being pivotably affixed to one of the side walls and adapted for opening and closing so as to form an enclosure that may be opened and secured closed. The suitcase further includes a compression system, comprising: a flat bottom member affixed to the inside of the suitcase bottom wall, a top member having substantially the same shape as said bottom member, each of said members having aligned notches on their periphery to guide at least one co-working tension generating device wrapped around the flat top and bottom members and a mechanism means that is able to hold tension and release tension that has been manually applied on the end of the at least one tension generating device. When utilized in a suitcase, the compression generating system may be sized to occupy the full interior of the suitcase or may be reduced in length to provide an area within the suitcase where non-compressible articles my be placed.

Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the present invention without any items to be compressed in place.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the various components of the present invention, including a schematic illustration of items to be compressed.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the various components of another embodiment of the present invention, showing the adaptability of the device to be expanded to a longer useable length.

FIG. 4 is a view of yet another embodiment of the invention showing a further lengthening of the invention to accommodate unusually long items to be compressed.

FIG. 5 is a view of the clamping portion of the invention depicting a mechanical advantage of two provided by the clamping mechanism.

FIG. 6 is a view of an alternate clamping portion of the invention depicting a mechanical advantage of four provided by the clamping mechanism.

FIG. 7 is a view of the invention depicting the travel compression system inserted into a suitcase after the compression of the articles.

FIG. 8 is a view of an alternate embodiment of the invention depicting the travel compression system built into a suitcase.

FIG. 9 is a view of an alternate embodiment of the invention depicting the use of wire baskets as the compression members of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a view of an alternate clamping mechanism for the invention.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the various components of another embodiment of the present invention, showing the adaptability of the device to be expanded to a wider useable width.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The garment compression system 1, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, includes a top substantially flat platform member 2 and a bottom cooperating substantially flat platform member 3. Each of the platform members has at least two aligned notches 8 along opposite sides of their periphery. A strap 7 is arranged around the platform members and is received by the notches therein. A suitable clasp (or buckle) 6 will receive the ends of the strap 7 and thus form the strap into a continuous loop. A slide lock 4 is provided to allow the operator to adjust the length of the strap 7. A cam lock 5 with a cam lock lever 10 is also provided to secure the strap 7. The embodiment shown in FIG. 1 uses four aligned notches 8 on each platform member 2 and 3 to support two straps 7.

In use, the user places garments 9 or other items to be stored on bottom platform member 3. Top platform member 2 is then placed on top of the garments and the straps 7 are arranged around the platform members and in the notches 8 therein. The buckle 6 cooperates with and is retained by a loop formed when the strap 7 is passed through each piece of the buckle 6. The resulting loop thus formed allows the strap 7, when pulled on the loose end near cam lock 5, to start the compression process. When the end of the strap 7 is pulled, the effective length of the loop and strap is reduced thus resulting in the top platform member 2 moving closer to platform member 3 thereby causing compressive forces to be exerted on the garments 9. This movement causes the squeezing process that removes the voids within the various garments 9 between member 2 and member 3.

As the members 2 and 3 are drawn together, the material between platform members 2 and 3 will be compressed by squeezing out voids. The operation of removing the voids is continued until the operator has reached a solid mass or a desired degree of compression to suit the needs of the user. When the desired degree of compression is reached, depressing the cam lock lever 10 on cam lock 5 on strap 7 retains this position. Once the lever 10 on the cam lock 5 is depressed, the entire system will remain in that degree of compression. Because of the design of the cam lock 5, this condition is not subjected to release until the lever 10 on the cam lock 5 is raised by either lifting the lever 10 on cam lock 5 or lifting the loose end of the strap 7 that will cause the lever 10 on cam lock 5 to raise thereby releasing the holding capability of the cam lock 5. The process is repeated for each of the straps used in the system.

The degree of compression is controlled by the tension the operator applies to the end of the belting/strapping. No external power such as a vacuum or air-expelling device is required to put the device into full operation and use. Once the desired degree of compression is attained by the operator, no decompression will occur. There will not be a release of the compressive forces as presently experienced in vacuum type systems when a leak is encountered. The system does not rely on a vacuum to maintain its usefulness or effectiveness. The system does not lose its usefulness if a vacuum system is not available to start the compression.

The system can also be adapted to provide a mechanical advantage for the user when applying tension to the system. In FIG. 5, the strap 7 is looped over a pulley 11 to provide a mechanical advantage of two to the user, thus increasing the amount of tension that may be applied to the garments 9. If it is desired to provide additional tension to the system without increasing the strength required of the user in operation of the system, a mechanical advantage of four could be provided as shown in FIG. 6 by providing additional pulleys 12 and 13 and appropriate supporting members. The strap 7 would be wound around these pulleys in a well know manner to provide additional mechanical advantage. One skilled in the art can quickly realize that with the addition of a series of pulleys, any mechanical advantage other than that shown in the drawings is possible.

Where longer length items are needed to be compressed, the platform members 2 and 3 could be lengthened and additional straps 7 could also be added as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. Additionally, platform member notches 8 could also be arranged not only on the sides of the platform member but also on the ends of the members 2 and 3 so as to provide for a strap in a direction perpendicular to the original straps.

In FIG. 7, after compressing a large volume of garments, the garment compression system 1 has been inserted into suitcase 14 thereby allowing a traveler to carry a large volume of garments in the minimum space, thus saving on excess luggage fees recently imposed by many transportation carriers such as airlines.

In another embodiment which is shown in FIG. 8, the garment compression system can be built into any standard size or special sized suitcase 14 or soft sided traveling bags to increase usability. In this embodiment, the suitcase 14 comprises a compression system including a flat bottom member 3 affixed to the inside of the bottom wall of the suitcase, a top member 2 having substantially the same shape as the bottom member, with each of the members having aligned notches 8 on their periphery to guide at least one co-working tension generating device wrapped around the flat top and bottom members and a mechanism means that is able to hold tension and release tension that has been manually applied on each end of the tension generating device.

This compression system could also be designed to accommodate storage of household linens and other articles used in a home. The system can be adapted to any convenient length by placing a multiplicity of compression members at suitable distances apart.

Someone skilled in the art might use some other known form of force generating mechanism to secure the straps 7. Alternatively, some other force generating mechanism other than straps could be used. For example, FIG. 10 shows the use of thumb screws 24 to provide the compressive force for the system. Tightening the screws 24 would compress garments 9 between the members 2 and 3. Preferably, the thumb screws would be of the type that the heads would fold over after use so as to take up less room when the device is used.

As shown in FIG. 11, the top and bottom platform members can be suitably adapted with means to adjust their width by screws or other means to accommodate a special width without affecting the length. Each of the top and bottom members 2 and 3 are split lengthwise into two sections and are reconnected by screws 20 to a width adjustment plate 22. The width adjustment plate has a series of threaded holes to provide for adjustment of the width of each of the members 2 and 3. Alternatively, slots in the members 2 and 3 could be used with screws 20 to provide width adjustment.

The system can also be designed to be used when in a suitcase to leave a convenient length 15 at one end of the suitcase for articles, such as shoes, that cannot be compressed. The device is suitable at all times without fear of vacuum leaking and re-expanding. The belting/strapping described herein could be replaced in an emergency by any article or item capable of sustaining tensile forces. The compression system could be dimensioned without any height or width restrictions other than those imposed by federal state or local laws.

As shown in FIG. 9, another embodiment of the invention could use two formed wire baskets 16 and 18 instead of the top and bottom platform members 2 and 3 shown in FIG. 1. Such baskets are well known and consist of a flat perpendicular grid of wire 18 that is then turned up for a short distance to form integral side and end walls. The wire 18 could be appropriately finished by painting, plating or plastic coating. For use in this invention, the height of the wire side and end walls would be kept to a minimum so two identical opposing wire baskets would be able to contain and compress garments without interfering with each other. The size of wire used is selected to withstand the forces that will be applied to compress the garments. The side walls of the basket would be formed with indentations equivalent to the notches 8 used on platform members 2 and 3 to retain the strap 7.

It is to be understood that while a certain form of this invention has been illustrated and described, it is not limited thereto except insofar as such limitations are included in the claims and allowable functional equivalents thereof.