Title:
Thin-walled blow-formed tossable bottle with reinforced intra-fin cavities
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein are aerodynamic beverage bottles that incorporate fins or protrusions that are molded in to a bottle sidewall, having concavities or valleys between those fins or protrusions that are reinforced to be stiff and otherwise resisting deformation from, for example, pressures generated within the bottle. The sidewall in the region of the fins, protrusions, valleys or concavities may be thinner than other parts of the bottle; fins may be located on one end of a bottle which is thinner than the other end. Such a bottle may have a cylindrical section to which a label may be attached. Such a bottle may be blow-molded. Detailed information on various example embodiments of the inventions are provided in the Detailed Description below, and the inventions are defined by the appended claims.



Inventors:
Yarro, Justin C. (Provo, UT, US)
Yarro III, Ralph J. (Provo, UT, US)
Application Number:
12/479759
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
06/05/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/382
International Classes:
B65D85/00; B65D8/08
View Patent Images:
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20080166946Dump truck toyJuly, 2008Gallagher
20030087581Toy rocket with safety ringMay, 2003Ramirez
20080280526Play material comprising a flexible fabric envelope filled with crumpled plastic filmNovember, 2008Chase
20060084357Illuminated toy construction kitApril, 2006Rosen et al.
20090117822WATER TOYMay, 2009Coffey



Primary Examiner:
POOS, MADISON LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EVERETT D. ROBINSON (American Fork, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A thin-walled throwable beverage bottle having a varying cross-sectional perimeter and a finned section, comprising: a bottle body having a bottom and an interior, and wherein said body interior is capable of holding a beverage; a neck incorporated in said bottle body, said neck including an opening through which a beverage may be placed into or removed from said interior; fins incorporated to said bottle body, said fins providing for aerodynamic guidance of said body as said body travels through the air in a direction defined by a vector starting from said bottom to said neck; valleys incorporated to said bottle body between said fins, wherein each of said valleys form a concavity between it's respective fins; ribs incorporated to said concavities providing rigidity to said bottle body in the area of said valleys, said ribs providing stiffness against an internal pressure applied to the concavity in which it resides whereby that concavity may be maintained, said ribs providing shape to said bottle body while maintaining the thickness of said sidewall between the reinforced and non-reinforced areas in the regions of said ribs; and a cap portion having a seal fitted to seal said neck and provide enclosure for said interior; wherein said bottom comprises a cylindrical base portion formed in the sidewall of said bottle body, whereby said bottle body may be transported on a track or conveyor without substantial interference between said fins and the track or conveyor.

2. A throwable beverage product incorporating a bottle according to claim 1, further comprising a nose adapted to attach to said neck, said nose optionally being attachable to said neck through a cap fitting to said neck.

3. A throwable beverage product according to claim 2, wherein in the throwing configuration of said product, said nose has a mass that biases the balance of said product toward the nose.

4. A throwable beverage product according to claim 2, wherein said nose is fashioned from a pliable material.

5. A throwable beverage product according to claim 2, wherein said nose is fashioned from a stiff material.

6. A throwable beverage product according to claim 2, further comprising a series of reinforcing notches incorporated to said fins.

7. A thin-walled throwable beverage bottle having a varying cross-sectional perimeter and a finned section, comprising: a bottle body having a bottom and an interior, and wherein said body interior is capable of holding a beverage; a neck incorporated in said bottle body, said neck including an opening through which a beverage may be placed into or removed from said interior; fins incorporated to said bottle body, said fins providing for aerodynamic guidance of said body as said body travels through the air in a direction defined by a vector starting from said bottom and to said neck; valleys incorporated to said bottle body between said fins, wherein each of said valleys form a concavity between it's respective fins; ribs incorporated to said concavities providing rigidity to said bottle body in the area of said valleys, said ribs providing stiffness against an internal pressure applied to the concavity in which it resides whereby that concavity may be maintained, said ribs providing shape to said bottle body while maintaining the thickness of said sidewall between the reinforced and non-reinforced areas in the regions of said ribs; and a cap portion having a seal fitted to seal said neck and provide enclosure for said interior; wherein said fins are arranged in a substantially circular arrangement; whereby said bottle body may be transported on a track or conveyor without substantial interference between said fins and the track or conveyor.

8. A throwable beverage product incorporating a bottle according to claim 7, further comprising a nose adapted to attach to said neck, said nose optionally being attachable to said neck through a cap fitting to said neck.

9. A throwable beverage product according to claim 8, wherein in the throwing configuration of said product, said nose has a mass that biases the balance of said product toward the nose.

10. A throwable beverage product according to claim 8, wherein said nose is fashioned from a pliable material.

11. A throwable beverage product according to claim 8, wherein said nose is fashioned from a stiff material.

12. A throwable beverage product according to claim 7, further comprising a series of reinforcing notches incorporated to said fins.

13. A thin-walled throwable beverage bottle having a varying cross-sectional perimeter and a finned section, comprising: a bottle body having a bottom and an interior, and wherein said body interior is capable of holding a beverage; a neck incorporated in said bottle body, said neck including an opening through which a beverage may be placed into or removed from said interior; fins incorporated to said bottle body, said fins providing for aerodynamic guidance of said body as said body travels through the air in a direction defined by a vector starting from said bottom to said neck; valleys incorporated to said bottle body between said fins, wherein each of said valleys form a concavity between it's respective fins; ribs incorporated to said concavities providing rigidity to said bottle body in the area of said valleys, said ribs providing stiffness against an internal pressure applied to the concavity in which it resides whereby that concavity may be maintained, said ribs providing shape to said bottle body while maintaining the thickness of said sidewall between the reinforced and non-reinforced areas in the regions of said ribs; a crush zone incorporated to said bottle body at a location other than said fins and valleys; and a cap portion having a seal fitted to seal said neck and provide enclosure for said interior.

14. A throwable beverage product incorporating a bottle according to claim 13, further comprising a nose adapted to attach to said neck, said nose optionally being attachable to said neck through a cap fitting to said neck.

15. A throwable beverage product according to claim 14, wherein in the throwing configuration of said product, said nose has a mass that biases the balance of said product toward the nose.

16. A throwable beverage product according to claim 14, wherein said nose is fashioned from a pliable material.

17. A throwable beverage product according to claim 14, wherein said nose is fashioned from a stiff material.

18. A throwable beverage product according to claim 13, further comprising a series of reinforcing notches incorporated to said fins.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/059,145 filed on Jun. 5, 2008 which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/856,015 entitled Launchable Beverage Container Concepts filed Sep. 15, 2007, which is also incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The claimed products relate generally to throwable, tossable or launchable beverage bottles and containers, and more particularly to a beverage bottle that incorporate reinforcement to concavities within the bottle sidewall, which concavities may be located between finned structures rendering the bottle stable through flight. In the past it has not been desirable to include concavities within container sidewalls for several reasons. Concavities reduce the volume of the container, which requires a taller or wider container to store the same volume as compared to a cubical or cylindrical container. Concavities also introduce areas that can be deformed, particularly where concavities are susceptible of being reversed, thus protruding from the container sidewall and potentially interfering with surrounding objects and requiring more shelf space. For tossable containers capable of maintaining orientation in flight, fins or protrusions are needed along a substantial length of a bottle, and by the inclusion of such concavities are generally introduced. Furthermore, the introduction of such intrusions may render the sidewall thinner and more susceptible to deformation in the region of fins, protrusions and adjacent concavities. Because the prior bottles are generally cylindrical in shape and generally not having concavities, prior bottles simply incorporated a sidewall with sufficient thickness to provide stiffness, not requiring sidewall reinforcement.

BRIEF SUMMARY

Disclosed herein are aerodynamic beverage bottles that incorporate fins or protrusions that are molded in to a bottle sidewall, having concavities or valleys between those fins or protrusions that are reinforced to be stiff and otherwise resisting deformation from, for example, pressures generated within the bottle. The sidewall in the region of the fins, protrusions, valleys or concavities may be thinner than other parts of the bottle; fins may be located on one end of a bottle which is thinner than the other end. Such a bottle may have a cylindrical section to which a label may be attached. Such a bottle may be blow-molded. Detailed information on various example embodiments of the inventions are provided in the Detailed Description below, and the inventions are defined by the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A depicts the top of the container of a first “missile” type of launchable beverage container product.

FIG. 1B depicts the side and bottom of the container of the “missile” container product.

FIG. 1C depicts the nosecone of the “missile” container product.

FIG. 1D depicts an assembled “missile” type of launchable beverage container product.

FIG. 2A depicts the assembly of a second “tear” type of launchable beverage container product.

FIG. 2B depicts an assembly of the “tear” product with a transparent nosecone.

FIG. 2C shows the nosecone of the “tear” product in cross-section.

FIG. 2D illustrates the assembly of the body and nosecone of the “tear” product.

FIG. 3A shows the unassembled parts of a third “spinner” type of launchable beverage container product.

FIG. 3B illustrates the assembly of the nosecone, cap and body of the “spinner” product.

FIG. 3C depicts the “spinner” product after assembly.

FIG. 4A shows the unassembled parts of a fourth “bomb” type of launchable beverage container product.

FIG. 4B illustrates the assembly of the nosecone, cap and body of the “bomb” product.

FIG. 4C depicts the “bomb” product after assembly.

FIG. 5A depicts a first type of pressurizable, launchable beverage container product in a shippable state.

FIG. 5B illustrates the disassembly of first pressurizable product by the consumer.

FIG. 5C depicts the first pressurizable product in a launchable state.

FIG. 5D illustrates the components assembly of the nozzle and pump of the first pressurizable product.

FIG. 6 depicts another type of launchable beverage container product having fins molded into the body and a crush zone.

FIG. 7 shows an exemplary blow-molding preform blank.

FIG. 8A shows the bottle of FIG. 1B in cross-section in the region of its fins.

FIG. 8B shows the bottle of FIG. 1B in cross-section in the region of its label area.

FIG. 8C shows the bottle of FIG. 1B from the side.

FIG. 9A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having valleys reinforced with ribs.

FIG. 9B shows the container of FIG. 9A in perspective having valleys reinforced with positive ribs.

FIG. 9C shows the container of FIG. 9A in perspective having valleys reinforced with negative ribs.

FIG. 10A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having valleys with positive circumferential reinforcement.

FIG. 10B shows the container of FIG. 10A in perspective.

FIG. 10C shows the container of FIG. 10A in a rotated position.

FIG. 11A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having valleys with negative circumferential reinforcement.

FIG. 11B shows the container of FIG. 11A in perspective.

FIG. 11C shows the container of FIG. 11A in a rotated position.

FIG. 12A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having valley reinforcement through ribbing in a circumferential and a longitudinal direction.

FIG. 12B shows the container of FIG. 12A in perspective.

FIG. 12C shows the container of FIG. 12A in a rotated position.

FIG. 13A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having valley reinforcement through a mesh of circumferential and longitudinal ribs.

FIG. 13B shows the container of FIG. 13A in perspective.

FIG. 13C shows the container of FIG. 13A in a rotated position.

FIG. 14A shows an exemplary tossable beverage container having a mesh of crossed valley reinforcement.

FIG. 14B shows the container of FIG. 14A in perspective having positively-made reinforcement.

FIG. 14C shows the container of FIG. 14A in a rotated position.

FIG. 14D shows the container of FIG. 14A in perspective having negatively-made reinforcement.

FIG. 15 shows a finned portion of an exemplary tossable beverage container having a decorative mesh of crossed valley reinforcement.

FIG. 16 shows a finned portion of an exemplary tossable beverage container having a creased concavity between fins, and further having reinforcement at the creases but not in-between.

Reference will now be made in detail to particular implementations of the various inventions described herein in their various aspects, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings and in the detailed description below.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The sidewall reinforcement disclosed herein applies to a wide variety of container types, examples of which will now be presented. It will be appreciated from the disclosure below that the container examples shown are capable of acting as a container for beverage and for performing a secondary entertainment function, which may be that the container may be tossed or thrown with certain enhanced performance over beverage containers of the past.

FIGS. 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D show a first exemplary tossable beverage container from several vantage points. That “missile” product includes two main components, which are a main body container 10 and a nosecone 11. Body container 10 is capable of containing a product, which may be a beverage such as a soft drink or a juice, and may be sealed in the ordinary way through the use of a cap, lid or top. In this exemplary product, nosecone 11 is configured on the inside to fit over the neck of the bottle 10 by way of a snug or tight fit over the cap and bottle neck, although a fitting might also be by mating threads. Other attachment methods may be used equally well in this and other examples; for example a ridge on the inside lower edge of the nose cone could mate to a flute on the outer bottle body, the nose could fit over a lug on the container body, be held in place with a slip fitting, or simply glued. As will be seen from the discussion below, the nosecone 11 may be fashioned of a solid material or alternatively may be formed hollow for example through the use of a compressed gas molding process. Thus it is that body 10 and nosecone 11 serve as a container for which a beverage may be shipped and dispensed.

The secondary function, in this example, makes the bottle body 10 and an attached nosecone 11 into a throwable toy. Although an ordinary beverage bottle has certain unintentional aerodynamic properties, one who has ever thrown such a bottle knows that it is predisposed to rotate and tumble through the air and is not well suited to maintain a low-drag orientation. The exemplary bottle body 10 includes fins 12 molded into the sides of body 10 that serve to stabilize the bottle body in flight with a corresponding aerodynamic improvement, if it is thrown in a proper manner. This product may be thrown like a spear for long distance flights, as a dart for short distances, or held from the tail like a horse shoe is commonly thrown. Fins may provide stability in flight, increase aerodynamic performance, and provide visual appeal. Herein it is also contemplated that appropriate channels, flutes and/or rifling may be used to guide flight or add spin to a bottle in flight, however fins are deemed to be especially aesthetically attractive to provide a rocket-like appearance. Referring to FIG. 1A, In the exemplary bottle fins 12 extend from the bottle body profile 16 such that a portion of the fins 12 passes through the air stream passing across the sides of the bottle body 10. Fins may be located on the bottle body in a location where the body is wide, to take advantage of the increased air speed and compression there.

Body 10 and nosecone 11, when attached, form a throwable toy 13. To throw this exemplary toy one grasps the bottle body near the location 14 (or perhaps a little forward toward the nosecone 11) as one would grasp a spear or a football and launches toy 13 nosecone-first. The launching action may be combined with an action providing spin to compensate for any axial imbalances and provide rotational momentum to maintain the toy 13 in the launching orientation. To improve the aerodynamic characteristics of toy 13, bottle body may be weighted heavy in the nose as compared to the end (in this case the bottle bottom). This may be done by forming the walls and the neck of the bottle in the area marked 15 more thickly. Most advantageously, bottle body 10 may be formed through a blow-molding process, which may be controlled to provide added thickness in the area nearest the neck 15.

The bottle body shown in FIG. 1B may be created using an automated mass production manufacturing process capable of producing hollow parts. These processes include blow molding, rotational molding and others, the choice of which will depend on the rate of protection desired, product cost and quality demands. A mold to produce the bottle body shown in FIG. 1B could include two parts, or could include more pieces to fashion more complicated shapes or features.

A bottle body, such as that of FIG. 1B may be designed to be transported on a conveyor or track and automatically filled with a beverage without tipping, stoppage, jamming or clearance issues by appropriate design and sizing of the fins. The exemplary bottle body 10 includes a cylindrical, non-finned base portion 17 at the bottom to permit the bottle body to be moved through a production and/or bottling process that uses a track; portion 17 is sized to minimize or prevent the interference of a track wall with the fins 12. This base increases the ability of the bottle body 10 to be transported on a conveyor and be automatically filled and capped without tipping, stoppage, jamming, interference or clearance issues. By appropriate design, contouring and sizing of the fins, a beverage product including a bottle body may accommodate existing distribution, sales, vending and dispensing equipment, containers and processes.

Now referring to FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2E, a second exemplary throwable beverage bottle may be implemented in many ways. The tear-shaped design shown in FIG. 2A includes a bottle body 20 having fins 22, a base 27 and a neck (as better seen in FIG. 2D). The tear-shaped design likewise includes a nose cone 21 shaped to fit over neck portion 15 and provide a smooth contour and transition between the sides of body 20 in the outer portion of nose cone 21. The cross-section of nose cone 21 appears in FIG. 2C, including a hollow portion 18 for receiving the bottle neck 15. Referring to FIG. 2D, bottle body 20 includes a protruding shoulder or ridge 19a for receiving a channel 19b formed in the nose cone 21, providing a securement for the nose cone 21 onto neck 15. Nose cone 21 is made of a pliable material permitting the nose cone to be stretched over ridge 19a. Examples of this include many materials used to make foams such as polyurethane, polyvinlychloride (PVC), polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, epoxy, phenolic, ABS, ureaformaldehydes, silicones, ionomers and cellulose acetates. Foams can also be made from resins blended with rubbers to achieve a natural resilience. Closed-cell PVC foams with nitrile rubber (Ensolite™) are a good choice. PVC can also be plasticized to obtain soft and resilient foams. Both rigid (stiff walls) and flexible (walls collapse with pressure) foams can be used to fashion a nose cone. Other materials that might be used include expanded polystyrene foam, polybutadiene rubber, open cell ester, neoprene and Ethafoam™. Nosecones of other configurations described and/or claimed herein may be formed of these materials, recognizing that some nosecones may be better harder or softer and more or less flexible. Alternatively, a nose cone might be made of a stiff or hard material, for example ordinary thermoplastic, and the bottle body could be made pliable.

Although a nose cone may include threads fitting to the threads of a bottle neck, this nose cone 21 does not. Rather, the interior 18 is shaped to simply slide on neck 15 without interference from any threads or other features formed in the neck. Alternatively, the interior 18 could be made slightly smaller than the threads or other neck features to provide a friction-fit of the nose cone on the bottle. In yet another alternative, the interior of a nose cone may be fashioned to fit over a capped bottle, using either a slip or a friction-fit. Examples of these variations will become clear in the discussion below.

Again, in the tear-drop design the nose-cone fits over the bottle neck 15. In its shipped configuration a cap, not shown, is intended to be located to neck 15 to contain the bottle contents. Nose cone 21 is designed to snap fit over the shoulder of bottle body 19a and may be removed and reattached repeatedly by the end-user. A cavity formed in the nosecone 21 is sufficient to contain the mouth of a capped bottle body 20 when the nosecone is fitted thereby. This product, including bottle body 20, the cap and nosecone 21 may be packaged, shipped, distributed and sold in the fully assembled state shown in FIG. 2A. Alternatively, nosecone 21 could be shipped in an unmounted configuration, for example, by inclusion within a box containing bottles as shipped. Alternatively, the nosecones could be provided as an unattached or separate item, for example in a bin separate from a shelf on which their corresponding beverages are located. Further yet, a nosecone such as 21 could be shipped with bottle body 21 positioned in a near-final position (assuming that the capped bottle prevented a final fit) and attached either loosely or with a fastener such as shrink wrap, elastics or even adhesive tape.

FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C depict a third exemplary “spinner” design having several noteworthy features. The reader will now recognize the bottle body 40 and nosecone 41 features of this design. Here, nosecone 41 is configured to receive by friction fit a cap 49 by which bottle 40 may be a closed container. This design, however, does not include a base as identified as 17 or 27 in the missile or tear-drop bottles. Rather, fins 42 are configured as a stand for bottle body 40, and are provided for on opposing sides to provide balance. Furthermore, several fins 42 are provided in a circumference similar to bases 17 or 27 so as to provide a portion that will fit within a track of a bottling machine.

Furthermore in the “spinner” design, fins 42 are angled or twisted with respect to the axis of symmetry. This serves to generate rotation around the axis of the bottle when thrown, providing rotational momentum and stability in flight. The severity of the angle may be gentle to conserve energy for long flight, or more severe to provide amusing motions. Angled or twisted fins may be provided in virtually any throwable bottle design as desired.

In the missile and spinner designs the container space of the bottle resides with substantially equal weight from the bottom of the bottle to the narrowing portion of the bottle neck. This configuration is desirable in those instances where it is more important to maximize container volume. Alternative configurations may also be used. For example, the bottle shape of the tear-drop bottle positions more container volume toward the neck portion. Other configurations are described below which position more container space toward the bottle foot. This can enhance the aerodynamic properties of the bottle/nosecone product, particularly where the product is designed to be tossed or thrown with fluid or other material inside.

The exemplary “bomb” bottle-product 60 shown in FIG. 4C is a good example of this. Looking to FIG. 4B, that example includes the now-familiar bottle body 61, rounded nosecone 62 and cap 63. There, the majority of the container volume is located near the top of the bottle 64, and the volume in the center 66 and somewhat as to the fins 65 is reduced. In this design, (1) the nose cone section is comparatively larger and therefore heavier, augmenting its ability to fly farther, (2) the fins on the container are extended farther from the nose cone section adding stability in flight and a better balance and weight distribution, (3) the back end of the body is extended as is “boat tailed”, improving aerodynamic stability and ergonomics. To use this bottle, one consumes the beverage inside and then fills the container with ordinary water, recognizing that performance will be enhanced by the removal of any entrapped air. The cap 63 is applied and tightened, and nosecone 62 is inserted onto the cap 63. Here, nosecone 62 substantially grips only the cap 63, and is therefore made with an appropriate friction-fit to avoid the cap becoming dislodged during launch.

Having fitted the nose cone 62 onto cap 63, the user may then throw the product by gripping the widened portion 64 with his thumb and forefinger located near narrowed portion 66 using a similar motion as to throw a football. This design, however, permits an alternate launching motion; the user may grip the end of the bottle between the fins 65 and, moving his arm in an arc, may provide a centripetal launching force to the product 60 and release the product in the appropriate point of the arc to launch the product in either an upward direction or in a direction substantially above the horizon.

Again, the product 60 is intended to be launchable in a filled condition. Because of this, product 60 has significantly more weight than other products disclosed herein intended to be launched in an unfilled condition. Although added weight permits a product to overcome air drag and fly farther, the product will also strike the ground with greater momentum at the end of its flight. For those products intended to be launched in a filled condition, a nose cone should be selected of an impact-resistant material. The nosecone may also be selected from the set of softer materials to prevent injury or damage to a person or objects impacted by the product. Here, nosecone 61 is formed of a two-part self-skinning foam rubber, similar to that used in the Nerf™-type sports balls.

As to other materials that may be used to fashion a nosecone, many may be selected depending on the hardness, resiliency and weight desired. These materials include, but are not limited to, foams, thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomeric materials. Processes to make nosecones, detachable fins and tail sections, and other extra-bottle parts include injection molding, compression molding, casting, foaming and many other processes. The reader will note from the description above that heavier materials in a nosecone and lighter materials in a tail section will generally increase the aerodynamic stability of the assembled, throwable products.

The design and dimensions of the fins may permit modular stacking and grouping of the bottles, which may prove to be advantageous for shipping and packaging. Thus, containers may be configured so that the fin of one container fits into the recess between the fin of another container. For example, the fins 12 of FIG. 1A recess into the area 18 near the center of the base and between two fins. Other containers described herein have a like configuration, capable of stacking in substantially the same space as would a set of non-finned bottle bodies.

All of the missile, tear-drop, spinner and bomb examples are provided with fins that are molded in. Providing fins in a bottle body has the advantage that no additional step of manufacture is required; rather the bottle body comes out of a mold substantially finished.

Other features may be included to improve the aerodynamics of a launchable beverage-model product. For example, the body of the bottle may be elongated for added stability, shortened to fit a container or shaped or sized in many ways while maintaining its containing, throwing and flying functions. The throwing balance of the bottle body may be improved by reducing the size of the lower trunk, which may also improve the hand-ergonomics and the aerodynamic properties of the bottle. Additionally, other ergonomic features may be provided such as finger divots or palm contours. The weight and balance of a bottle body may be modified as desired to enhance throwing and flight characteristics.

The appeal of this type of beverage container is that after use these may have entertainment value as a toy, certain of which may fly stably and aerodynamically. Certain of these may have a rocket shape or other shapes such as those disclosed herein, providing entertaining, amusing or competition activity after the consumption of a beverage.

A throwable beverage container may also be pressurized to achieve certain advantages. Those products may incorporate a pump, operable by an end-user by which air pressure may be provided to a beverage bottle. The product depicted in FIGS. 5A, 5B, 5C 5D is exemplary of those products. Referring to FIG. 5C, an exemplary pressurizable product is presented in its shippable state. Here, the internal components may not be visible, but rather the nosecone 162 may cover the opening of bottle body 161 and any associated parts. Note that in the shipped configuration the fins molded in bottle body 161 are located near the nosecone and the opening in the bottle body.

To consume the contained beverage, the nosecone 162 is removed from the bottle opening, exposing a nozzle 163, as shown in FIG. 5B. A pump 164 may be conveniently stored under nosecone 162, or may be stored elsewhere as desired. The beverage contained in bottle 161 may be consumed through nozzle 162, and the walls of bottle 161 may be flexible so that a consumer may squeeze the bottle and accelerate the dispensing of the beverage contained therein. Alternatively nozzle 162 may be removed and the beverage consumed directly through the opening in the bottle 161.

To launch this product the nosecone 162 is placed on the end opposite the opening of bottle 161, providing a more aerodynamic profile than if the flat bottle bottom were presented as a nose. Bottle 161 is configured to receive nosecone 162 at either end, for example by friction-fit or by a snap feature built into the nosecone and bottle. Nosecone may be fashioned of a hard material such as plastic, or could be made of a softer or elastic material providing for softer impacts and improved grippability onto bottle body 161. The intended procedure includes the filling of bottle 161 partially with water, although that is not strictly required. A mark could be provided on the bottle 161 as a fill line suggesting the optimal level of water, or alternatively it could be left to the consumer/user to experiment. The consumer would then secure the nozzle if necessary.

Next, the pump 164 is positioned over nozzle 163 by inserting the spigot with o-ring onto the nozzle opening until the cuff and launching lugs of the pressurizing cap snaps over the nozzle rim and seats around the base of the nozzle. The user then pressurizes the container by repeatedly depressing the diaphram 171 on the top of the pressurizing cap 169. Once a sufficient pressure is reached, the user would turn the bottle with nosecone 162 pointing up, and with one hand and holding only the pressurizing cap 169 pinches the base cuff. By pinching the cuff at the points 90 degrees from the location of the retention lugs, the cuff will bend from circular to oval. The lugs are on the inside of the cuff at the part of the oval farthest away from each other. As the user pinches the cuff, the lugs on the cuff separate with enough space to slip past the rim of the nozzle, allowing the pressure in the bottle 161 to push off the spigot and launching the product.

Now referring now to FIG. 6, another exemplary tossable beverage container product 330 incorporating molded-in fins illustrates the feature of a crush zone 332 (two bottles are shown, one in a compressed state.) In this example crush zone 332 is implemented in corrugated or accordion style, permitting the sides of bottle body 331 to collapse and/or shorten, thus absorbing impact energy applied to the base of body 331. A crush zone may be designed to operate with or without cap 333; if the cap is present a portion of the impact energy will be absorbed by the compression of air within body 331 while providing more bounce. The number, angle and depth of folds in crush zone 332 is selected to match the material and thickness of the sidewall of body 331 to permit flexibility and resiliency. Note that this product does not include an impact nose, as none is needed to prevent injury to body 331 and objects that it might potentially strike, although a nose could be provided if desired, for example to bias the weight of the body toward the nose for improved performance in flight. Thus incorporating a crush zone may simplify the design of a throwable beverage product and permit a more inexpensive manufacture, as it may reduce the number of parts to manufacture.

Launchable beverage container with reinforced concavities between fins.

Now referring to FIG. 7, containers of the type described above may be fashioned through a process of “blow-molding.” That process uses a plastic (often PET) “preform” blank, such as 70, which has two portions which are a body portion 71 and a thread/neck portion 72, both of which are generally hollow with a designed wall thickness. In such a process, the body portion 71 is heated until it is softened. The preform 70 is clamped at thread/neck portion 72 and pressurized air or gas is forced through the neck therein, causing body 71 to expand to the extent of the interior of a mold in the shape of the container to be formed. This expansion causes the preform body 71 to become thinner, such that the final wall thickness is much less. In an ordinary cylindrical bottle, this thickness is typically quite uniform down its wall.

Now referring to FIG. 8C, the reader will recognize the “missile” bottle described above as shown from the side. FIG. 8A represents the cross-section of the bottle along the section labeled A at the fins. FIG. 8B represents the cross-section of the bottle along the section labeled B at the upper cylindrical portion. A visual comparison between the two cross-sections shows that the perimeter is larger in the finned portion, as going around the bottle sidewall. A moderately finned bottle may vary between a finned section and a cylindrical label section by twenty percent or more. For a strongly finned bottle, this difference may be forty or fifty percent or more. If a preform having a constant wall thickness is used, the final sidewall of the bottle will be thinner in the finned region.

A bottle having a thinner finned region may provide for better stability in flight, as the product may be weighted in the nose. However, because that region is thinner, and because it is not cylindrical, it is also susceptible to collapse under certain circumstances. In one example, the bottle may be transported from varying elevations, or a bottle may pressurize or depressurize through carbonation effects. Another of those cases when a bottle is partially filled and capped, having a substantial air pocket. The fluid in the bottle carries a mass that tends to put pressure on the sidewall in ways that are difficult to predict, as it sloshes and moves around within. A filled bottle, on the other hand, is filled with a substantially non-compressible substance, and uneven pressure is not so much an issue. It may be desired that a throwable bottle maintain its shape whether full of product or liquid or empty. Furthermore, it may be important for a bottle to maintain shape thus also maintaining any aerodynamic properties of the shape, such as a finned section, which may make a bottle more stable in flight.

Referring again to FIG. 8A, a part of a bottle may be non-cylindrical, having protrusions 81 and concavities or valleys 82 therebetween. Protrusions 81 may be in the shape of fins as disclosed above. Protrusions 81 are likely not as susceptible to deformation due to internal pressure, mainly because the material of the bottle is most likely not stretchable. However, concavities 82 can be forced outward with internal pressure, even if the bottle sidewall material is non-stretchable.

One solution to this problem is to use a preform having a tapered or stepped wall thickness. Thus the wall in the finned region may be made thicker, through the use of preform that is thicker in the region 73 that becomes the sidewall containing the fins. A region 74 may be made differentially with a thickness appropriate to a cylindrical portion. However, doing so places more weight in the bottom of the bottle, where it may interfere with the flight and balance of the bottle through the air. Indeed, it is preferable in a tossable beverage container that the portion away from the nose or front be as light as possible.

Thus launchable beverage container products can benefit from a thin wall thickness, especially where those products are to be launched empty and where the wall thinness is especially in the finned portion of the container. In some examples, the average wall thickness in the lower two-thirds of the bottle, including the foot, is less than the average wall thickness of the top one-third. Such bottles may be made in various sizes, lengths, widths and volumes; one example includes a convenient bottle volume of 20 to 30 fl. oz., but such bottles could be much larger or smaller.

A first type of structural reinforcement may be seen generally in FIG. 9A, corresponding to a bottle in the “missile” style. It is to be understood that although the examples herein use that style for visual reference, the reinforcements described here apply to any of the examples above, and to any bottle or container having protrusions with corresponding valleys or concavities in between. The first type of reinforcement consists of ribs 85 within valley 86 between fin protrusions 87, those ribs oriented perpendicular to the valleys and the fins, or rather oriented in the direction of the bottle circumference. (The terms ribs, valley and fin, protrusion, and fin protrusions as used in this example will apply in the remaining examples although not denoted specifically in the drawings.) Ribbing may be positive, that is extending outward as shown in FIG. 9B, or negative ribbing (fluting as perceived from the outside) as shown in FIG. 9C. Also in this example are three ribs, but more or less may be used in accordance with the appearance characteristics and resistance to deformation desired. By including ribs extending only into the valleys, the bottle maintains a smooth outward appearance and feel. Note that although in this example valleys are oriented bottle-lengthwise, other concavities could be included that are circumferentially-oriented or oriented in other directions.

Also in FIGS. 9B and 9C can be seen notches placed on the edge of fins to protect the edge of the fin structure, also adding rigidity and strength to that area. The notches could be replaced with bumps or small ribs. Note that such features incorporated to a fin or protrusion are optional.

Reflect now on the bottle shown in FIG. 16, wherein the concavities between finned structures are through the use of defined creases. In that example, reinforcement is provided only at those creases, providing strength to the bottle at a place more likely to deform under pressure but not otherwise altering the shape of the finned section.

Alternatively these reinforcement structures may be carried around the circumference of the bottle, as shown in FIGS. 10A, 10B and 10C in a positive ringing configuration. A corresponding negative configuration is shown in FIGS. 11A, 11B and 11C. Again, the number of reinforcement rings used may be varied to suit the amount of stiffness desired. Additionally, as with any of the examples herein, the selection of positive or negative reinforcement structures may be selected for manufacturability, aesthetics, aerodynamic performance, volume, or to cooperate with desired packaging as desired.

The above-described reinforcement structures are arranged with ribbing or ringing structures directed circumferentially with the bottle body, or directed between the fins or protrusions. This kind of reinforcement provides rigidity against the movement of one fin or protrusion against another. That kind may not, however, resist a force applied that would bend the section to bring the top closer to the bottom of the bottle, or rather in a “longitudinal” direction, considering one of the exemplary bottles in an upright orientation and using the language of a sphere.

To provide stiffness in that longitudinal direction, a longitudinal ridge may be included within the concavity or valley. The bottle shown in FIGS. 12A, 12B and 12C includes one such longitudinal ridge. If more longitudinal rigidity is desired, more than one longitudinal ridge may be used as in FIGS. 13A, 13B and 13C.

Reinforcement structures need not be in a circumferential or a longitudinal direction. For example, reinforcement structures may be arranged in a matrix, web or hash in other directions, as shown in FIGS. 14A, 14B and 14C. This example likewise includes reinforcement within the valleys and concavities between protrusions, and this may also be varied in accordance with the stiffness desired and other factors such as appearance. Such a matrix may be crossed ribbing, or may consist of ribs running in different directions but not crossing, in accordance with the desired performance characteristics. Such a matrix may also be positively or negatively made, as shown in FIG. 14D. A matrix may provide for greater stability than would otherwise be had by simple ribbing. Matrices or ribbing need not be solely functional, but may also provide for a certain decorative function such as that of the bottle of FIG. 15.

An exemplary launchable bottle takes the form having stabilizing fins molded into the bottle body at the bottom or base of the bottle, and with a nose cone on the mouth side. That bottle has a volume of approximately 20 fl. oz., a body height of approximately 9 in. and a rough diameter of 2.5 in. The overall weight of the bottle is between 18.5 grams and 21 grams depending on the finish (in the mouth section) used on the preform. The wall thickness at the bottom two-thirds of the total bottle length is perhaps most important for performance; the wall thickness being preferably about 5/1000ths of and inch in these areas give or take 1/1000th of an inch. The bottom or base thickness has generally the same wall thickness in the base as on the sides, with perhaps a 7/1000ths of an inch target. Weight or thickness at the mouth and shoulder sections at the top of the bottle is generally desirable for aerodynamic performance, and so a heavier finish (mouth) is preferred. In the blow-molding process, the heating temperature of the preform and stretch and blow timing are important, and should be adjusted to produce a bottle thickest at the top and with the wall thinning down the bottle, preferably with as close to as possible uniform wall thickness in the base and fin sections. In one example, the front to back weight ratio is 6:1, however this may be varied depending on overall weight, volume, length, diameter and even design features. The shape of the finned section affects the aerodynamic stabilizing performance of a bottle. Generally speaking, more surface area on the fin sides will improve stability, although widening or increasing the radius of the edge of a fin and/or widening the radius of the valley is generally undesirable for the purposes of producing good production molds and efficient fin design.

Now it is to be recognized that the features described above in relation to launchable, throwable or tossable beverage bottles may be incorporated singly, or any number of these features may be incorporated into a single product, consistent with the principles and purposes disclosed herein. It is therefore to be recognized that the products described herein are merely exemplary and may be modified as taught herein and as will be understood by one of ordinary skill.