Title:
Container Wrap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container wrap absorbs and/or collects condensation from the outside of a beverage container carrying a cold beverage, thereby reducing the inconvenience of the condensation. The wrap may include a sleeve and a base and may be foldable into a flat configuration such that it is easily stored yet easily opened for placement on a container. When opened, the base may be secured in a use configuration with an interference engagement between the base and an interior surface of the sleeve. The sleeve may have a frusto-conical shape so that a similarly shaped container is insertable into the wrap. An upper end of the sleeve may be configured to fit closely to the container around substantially the entire perimeter of the beverage container. A lower end of the sleeve may be configured to be separated from the perimeter of the beverage container.



Inventors:
Wilson, Charles (Needham, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/308154
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
06/06/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100044374DEVICE FOR EQUALIZING PRESSURE SURGES IN CLOSED SYSTEMS, SUCH AS SILOS OR THE LIKEFebruary, 2010Thorwesten
20100019174SHIELDED CONTAINERJanuary, 2010Helle et al.
20040226956Cryogenic freezerNovember, 2004Brooks
20070119854Paint bucketMay, 2007Rittmann
20080006639Partitioned beverage coolerJanuary, 2008Davis
20080264956Sealed Chassis, a Seal and Method of Assembling and Disassembling a Sealed ChassisOctober, 2008Estlander
20060065655Collapsible insulated containerMarch, 2006Taylor
20070095844CrateMay, 2007Raghunathan
20040164079Tap capAugust, 2004Alois
20090090720Retaining capApril, 2009Minerva
20090184114FORKPOCKETED TANK CONTAINERJuly, 2009Thomas II



Primary Examiner:
ALLEN, JEFFREY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOLF GREENFIELD & SACKS, P.C. (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wrap for a beverage container, comprising: a sleeve having a top end and a bottom end; and a first base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve, the sleeve and the first base portion being foldable such that the first base portion is contained within the sleeve in a storage configuration, the sleeve portion and the first base portion being configured such that when the first base portion is put into a use configuration, a perimeter section of the first base portion forms an interference engagement with the sleeve.

2. A wrap as in claim 1, further comprising a second base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve, the second base portion being attached to the first base portion, wherein in the use configuration a portion of the first base portion overlies the second base portion, the second base portion being folded over itself.

3. A wrap as in claim 1, in combination with the beverage container, wherein in the use configuration with the beverage container inserted in the wrap, the top end of the sleeve portion fits closely with an outer surface of the beverage container.

4. A combination as in claim 3, wherein a lower portion of the sleeve is separated from the outer surface of the beverage container.

5. A wrap as in claim 1, wherein an upper edge of the sleeve comprises an absorbent material.

6. A wrap as in claim 1, wherein the interference engagement maintains the wrap in the use configuration by impeding the folding of the first base portion.

7. A wrap as in claim 1, wherein the first base portion is disposed higher than the bottom end of the sleeve such that when the wrap is placed on a surface, the bottom end of the sleeve contacts the surface.

8. A wrap for a beverage container, comprising: a sleeve having a top end and a bottom end and no more than two substantially longitudinal fold lines, the top end of the sleeve having an absorbent upper surface; a first base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve; a second base portion attached to the first base portion, the sleeve and the first and second base portions being foldable such that the first and second base portions are contained within the sleeve in a storage configuration, the sleeve portion and the first base portion being configured such that when the first base portion is put into a use configuration, a perimeter section of the first base portion forms an interference engagement with the sleeve, and the sleeve forms a substantially frusto-conical shape; wherein the interference engagement maintains the wrap in the use configuration by impeding the folding of the first base portion.

9. A wrap as in claim 8, wherein the sleeve has a thickness of between and including 0.015 inches and 0.040 inches.

10. A wrap as in claim 8, wherein the first and second base portions are integral with the sleeve.

11. A wrap as in claim 8, wherein the first base portion extends over a substantial portion of an opening formed at the bottom end of the sleeve.

12. A wrap for a beverage container in combination with the beverage container, the beverage container having a base and a substantially frusto-conical section, comprising: a substantially frusto-conical sleeve having an upwardly-facing absorbent surface; a base foldably attached to the sleeve at or near a bottom of the sleeve; wherein the wrap is collapsible into a substantially flat storage configuration; and in a use configuration, the sleeve and an outer surface of the beverage container contact each other around substantially the entire perimeter of the beverage container at an upper end of the sleeve, and the sleeve and the outer surface of the beverage container do not contact each other at a lower end of the sleeve.

13. The combination as in claim 12, the sleeve and the base are configured such that in the use configuration, a perimeter section of the base forms an interference engagement with the sleeve.

14. The combination as in claim 13, wherein the interference engagement maintains the wrap in the use configuration by impeding the folding of the base.

15. The combination as in claim 14, wherein the upwardly-facing absorbent surface is more absorbent than the interior surface of the sleeve.

16. The combination of claim 12, wherein the sleeve comprises no more than two longitudinal fold lines.

17. The combination of claim 12, wherein the base of the beverage container is held above the base of wrap.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The invention relates generally to wraps for beverage containers, and more specifically to wraps that absorb and/or contain condensation that develops on the outside of beverage containers.

DISCUSSION OF RELATED ART

A beverage container carrying a cold beverage can form condensation on the outside of the container. This condensation may be uncomfortable to some as they hold the container. When the container is set down on a surface, condensation can damage the surface or water puddles can damage articles present on the surface.

Many beverage container wraps are known which are designed to absorb condensation that forms on beverage containers. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,102,036 to Orr, et al. is directed to a container wrap that includes an outer layer of bendable kraft board, and further includes corrugated paper on its inner surface that wraps around the sides of a beverage container and absorbs condensation.

SUMMARY

While various beverage container wraps are available, a need exists for beverage container wraps which provide improved absorption and/or containment of excess condensation while allowing for ease of placement into a use configuration and/or versatility in use with beverage containers of different sizes.

According to one embodiment of the invention, a wrap for a beverage container includes a sleeve having a top end and a bottom end, and a first base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve. The sleeve and the first base portion are foldable such that the first base portion is contained within the sleeve in a storage configuration. The sleeve portion and the first base portion are configured such that when the first base portion is put into a use configuration, a perimeter section of the first base portion forms an interference engagement with the sleeve.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a wrap for a beverage container includes a sleeve having a top end and a bottom end and no more than two substantially longitudinal fold lines, the top end of the sleeve having an absorbent upper surface. The wrap also includes a first base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve, and a second base portion attached to the first base portion. The sleeve and the first and second base portions are foldable such that the first and second base portions are contained within the sleeve in a storage configuration. The sleeve portion and the first base portion are configured such that when the first base portion is put into a use configuration, a perimeter section of the first base portion forms an interference engagement with the sleeve, and the sleeve forms a substantially frusto-conical shape. The interference engagement maintains the wrap in the use configuration by impeding the folding of the first base portion.

According to a further embodiment of the invention, a wrap is combined with a beverage container, the beverage container having a base and a substantially frusto-conical section. The wrap includes a substantially frusto-conical sleeve having an upwardly-facing absorbent surface and a base foldably attached to the sleeve at or near a bottom of the sleeve. The wrap is collapsible into a substantially flat storage configuration. In a use configuration, the sleeve and an outer surface of the beverage container contact each other around substantially the entire perimeter of the beverage container at an upper end of the sleeve, and the sleeve and the outer surface of the beverage container do not contact each other at a lower end of the sleeve.

According to one embodiment of the invention, a dual-use wrap for a beverage container includes a sleeve for wrapping sides of a beverage container, the sleeve having an upwardly-facing top edge with exposed absorbent fibers. The sleeve is configured to establish a close fit with the container near the top edge of the sleeve, and the sleeve having no more than two fold lines for substantially flattening the wrap. A base is attached to the sleeve along at least two score lines, wherein the wrap is configured to permit removal of the base by a user to convert the wrap into a sleeve only.

In another embodiment of the invention, a wrap for a beverage container includes a sleeve having a top end and a bottom end. The wrap also includes a base portion disposed at or near the bottom end of the sleeve, the sleeve and the base portion being foldable such that the base portion is contained within the sleeve in a storage configuration, the sleeve portion and the base portion being configured such that when the base portion is put into a use configuration, a perimeter section of the base portion forms an interference engagement with the sleeve. The base portion is configured to be removable by a user to form a sleeve only.

According to a further embodiment, a method of converting a beverage container wrap to a beverage container sleeve without a base includes placing a wrap into a use configuration, the wrap having a sleeve and a base attached to the sleeve, and removing the base from the sleeve.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a method of forming a beverage container wrap includes forming an arcuate strip including absorbent material, the arcuate strip including trapezoidal-shaped flaps along at least a portion of one edge of the arcuate strip. The method further includes forming a base portion attached to the arcuate strip, and manipulating the arcuate strip and the base portion to form a beverage container wrap having a sleeve and a base.

In a further embodiment of the invention, a method of forming a beverage container wrap includes forming an arcuate strip including an edge with exposed absorbent fibers, the arcuate strip constructed and arranged to form a sleeve with an upwardly-facing edge having exposed absorbent fibers. The sleeve is also configured to establish a close fit with the container near the top edge of the sleeve. The method further includes forming a base portion attached to the arcuate strip, and manipulating the arcuate strip and the base portion to form a beverage container wrap having a sleeve and a base.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings are not intended to be drawn to scale. For purposes of clarity, not every component is labeled in every drawing. In the drawings:

FIGS. 1a and 1b show a beverage container being placed into a container wrap according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1c shows a cross-sectional view of a beverage container inserted in a container wrap according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a container wrap according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 shows a blank which may be assembled into a container wrap according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4a shows a cross-sectional side view of the container wrap of FIG. 3 in a partially folded configuration, according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4b shows a cross-sectional side view of the container wrap of FIG. 3 in an open configuration;

FIG. 4c shows a cross-sectional side view of a container wrap in a partially folded configuration, according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4d shows a cross-sectional side view of the container wrap of FIG. 4c in an open configuration;

FIG. 5a shows a cross-sectional view of single-faced microflute cardboard that may be used in some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5b shows a cross-sectional view of corrugated material which may be used in some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5c shows a cross-sectional view of a support material with an absorbent material attached thereon, which may be used in some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5d shows a cross-sectional view of an absorbent material having a sinusoidal surface, which may be used in some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5e shows a cross-sectional view of a pulp material which may be used in some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a container wrap according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 shows a perspective view of a container wrap according to yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 shows a plan view of a blank having two arcuate strips according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 shows a plan view of a blank according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 10 shows a plan view of a blank having two base portions attached upwardly from a bottom end of the sleeve according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 11 shows a plan view of a blank according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 12 shows a plan view of a blank having an alternative structure for attachments according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 13 shows a plan view of a blank that is designed for assembly into a container wrap for a cylindrical container;

FIG. 14 shows a cross-sectional side view of a wrap according to an alternative embodiment;

FIG. 15 shows a cross-sectional side view of an upper edge of a sleeve according to yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 16 shows a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 17 shows a flowchart of a method according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As described above, beverage containers carrying cold drinks can form condensation that may be uncomfortable and/or damaging. Embodiments of the invention described herein include a container wrap that helps deal with condensation by absorbing and/or containing excess condensation.

In some embodiments of the invention, a wrap is shaped to conform to the shape of the container for ease of use and/or effective absorption. For example, cold drinks are sometimes served in cups which have a frusto-conical shape. A wrap may be constructed and arranged such that insertion of the frusto-conical cup into the wrap urges the wrap into a similar shape. In some embodiments, the wrap may be pre-shaped to match the shape of the container before the container is inserted. In some embodiments, a wrap is shaped to conform or establish a close fit with a container along a top portion of the wrap, but shaped to be spaced from the container along other portions of the wrap.

In some embodiments, a wrap with a frusto-conical sleeve may have a one-piece construction so that it is easily manufactured and assembled. The wrap may include a sleeve portion integral with a base portion, with one or more of the two portions including an absorbent material. In some embodiments, the sleeve portion and/or the base portion may comprise multiple portions that are attached together.

In some embodiments of the invention, a blank is provided, for example a die-cut blank, that is easily assembled into a wrap and optionally foldable. The blank may include an arcuate strip having one or more base portions that extend from a bottom end of the strip. The blank may be constructed and arranged such that when the blank is assembled into a wrap for a container, the arcuate strip forms at least a portion of a frusto-conical sleeve. The base portions and/or the arcuate strip may include an absorbent material that faces inwardly when the blank is assembled to accommodate excess condensation.

In some embodiments, the beverage container wrap is (1) easy to manufacture, (2) easy to transport, (3) easy to use, and/or (4) easy to recycle. For example, in embodiments of the beverage container wrap which are used in fast food establishments or other high throughput establishments, it may be desirable to provide wraps which are quick and easy to convert from a flat, “storage” configuration to an open, “use” configuration. In this regard, in some embodiments of the invention, a wrap has a base provided with an absorbent material to catch condensation whether the container is held by a user or placed on a surface. The base may be foldable such that the wrap may be placed in a storage configuration and then easily opened into a use configuration.

In some embodiments, a wrap for a beverage container may be constructed with two or more different materials—one material to provide structural support, and one material to provide absorptive properties. For example, a wrap may have an outer layer formed of a cardboard material, a paper material, a paperboard material, or other suitable material or combinations thereof. The wrap also may have an inner layer attached to the outer layer, the inner layer including a material that is not a cardboard material, a paper material, a paperboard material, or similar type of material.

In some embodiments, a wrap for a beverage container may include a base that is foldable relative to the sleeve and forms an interference engagement with an interior surface of the sleeve when the base is place in a use configuration. In some embodiments, the base may include one or more sections with a greater radius as compared to other sections of the base such that one or more perimeter sections engage with the interior surface of the sleeve when the base is placed into a use configuration. In some embodiments, the base is pushed into the interference engagement by placing a beverage container in the wrap.

In some embodiments, a wrap for a beverage container includes a sleeve with flaps at or near a top opening of the wrap. As a beverage container is inserted into the wrap, the flaps may bend outwardly to accommodate a larger diameter of the container. For example, part of the way up the cup, some plastic cups include a wall portion that includes a change in wall slope (for example, see FIG. 1a). The flaps may be configured to bend outwardly in response to this wall portion being inserted into the top opening of the wrap.

FIGS. 1a and 1b show a container 20 being inserted into a top opening 25 of a container wrap 22 according to one embodiment of the invention. A sleeve 24 of wrap 22 encircles a lower portion 26 of container 20 to absorb condensation that forms on lower portion 26. Condensation that forms on an upper portion 28 of container 20 and travels to lower portion 26 also may be absorbed by wrap 22. To absorb condensation that forms on a bottom of container 20 or condensation that sleeve 24 fails to absorb, wrap 22 optionally may include a base (not shown in FIGS. 1a and 1b).

In some embodiments, wrap 22, including sleeve 24, may formed with a recycled, uncoated paperboard. The recycled paperboard may be a partially recycled paperboard. In some embodiments, the paperboard (or other material) may be coated on interior surfaces and/or exterior surfaces. Of course other suitable materials may be used to form sleeve 24 and/or the base of wrap 22, as described in more detail further below.

To absorb condensation as it travels down the outside of the container, sleeve 24 may include an upper edge 23 which has exposed absorptive material. Sleeve 24 may be formed such that upper edge 23 conforms closely to the outer surface of the container. In this regard, a substantial amount (and in some embodiments, substantially all) of the condensation traveling down the outside of the container may be absorbed through the upper edge 23 of sleeve 24. In some embodiments, the initial diameter of top opening 25 of sleeve 24 may be equal to or slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the portion of container that is to be surrounded by sleeve 24 when the container is placed in wrap 22 to establish a close fit of upper edge 23 with container 20. In this manner, in some embodiments, substantially all of the condensation traveling down the sides of the container may be absorbed, at least initially, through the upper edge 23 of sleeve 24. In embodiments where the initial diameter of top opening 25 of sleeve 24 is slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the beverage container that is to be surrounded by sleeve 24, the beverage container may expand the top opening as the container is pushed into the sleeve. In some embodiments, by having no more than two score lines (e.g., score lines 67a and 67b in FIG. 3), the upper edge 23 may form a close fit around substantially the entire circumference of a container. The combination of some or all of the above-described features may facilitate absorption of condensation.

In some embodiments, for example in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1c, a wrap 22 may be constructed and arranged such that the upper end 27 of the sleeve near upper edge 23 contacts a beverage container 20 around the perimeter of upper portion 28 of the container, yet another portion of sleeve 22, such as a lower portion 21, is separated from lower portion 26 of the container. In some embodiments, a base 18 of container 20 may be spaced from a base 19 of wrap 22. The wrap may be configured such that in cases where the sleeve has portions which are separated from the container and/or the base of the beverage container is suspended above the base of the wrap, the wrap maintains its ability to hold the container upright. In some embodiments, this ability is facilitated by the base of the wrap being resistant to folding out of the use configuration toward a storage configuration, as discussed herein further below. In some embodiments, the ability to hold the container upright is facilitated by the lower end of the sleeve extending below the base portion of the wrap such that the wrap is supported by the lower end of the sleeve. In this respect, the wrap may be used with beverage containers that do not generally match the shape of the wrap. This feature may permit the use of a variety of beverage container sizes and/or types with a particular wrap. The inventor has recognized that in many prior art products wraps having bases, a container has to generally match the shape of the wrap for the wrap to maintain its shape and/or stability. The inventor has also recognized that in some cases, previous attempts to provide a foldable wrap and base combination that is self-supporting in the use configuration include features that are time consuming when placing the wrap into a use configuration.

By providing a close fit between the wrap and the beverage container at or near the top of the wrap, for example by limiting the number of longitudinal fold lines and/or using a frusto-conical beverage container with the wrap, the presence of a separation between the inside of the wrap and the exterior of the beverage container lower down does not have as detrimental an effect on condensation absorption. In devices where condensation manages to pass by the top edge of the wrap along the exterior of the beverage container, contact between the wrap and the container at lower levels may be needed to catch the condensation. In some embodiments of the invention, a tight fit at the upper end of the wrap permits the presence of a separation between the beverage container and the wrap at the lower levels.

The thickness of sleeve 24 and/or upper edge 23 may be selected to balance absorptive capacity with flexibility. In one embodiment, sleeve 24 is formed with a multiply paperboard having a thickness 0.035 inches. In some embodiments, sleeve 24 is formed with paperboard or other suitable material with a thickness of between and including 0.015 inches and 0.040 inches. As described further below with reference to FIG. 15, upper edge 23 may have a greater thickness than the rest of the sleeve 24.

To provide absorptive properties, sleeve 24 and the base of the wrap may include an additional absorbent material on their inside surfaces. As shown in FIG. 2, a microflute cardboard material 40 may be used to absorb condensation. In some embodiments, sleeve 24 and the base include the same absorbent material, while in other embodiments, the two portions include different absorbent materials, as the present invention is not limited in this respect.

To limit the bulk or cost of the sleeve of wrap 22, in some embodiments the interior surface of sleeve 24 may not include an absorbent material, and, in fact, may include a water-repellant surface to hasten the movement of condensation down the side of the wrap toward the base. In such an embodiment, the base may be provided with a material that is able to absorb a greater amount of condensation. A water repellant coating may be present on the interior and/or the exterior of the sleeve and/or the base to help prevent absorbed liquid from penetrating through the sleeve and/or the base.

In some embodiments, wrap 22 completely encircles container 20. However, the present invention is not limited in this respect as wrap 22 need not necessarily completely encircle container 20 as it may wrap less than the entire circumference of container 20. Further, in the embodiment of FIG. 1b, wrap 22 is configured to wrap only lower portion 26 of container 20; however, the present invention is not limited in this respect as wrap 22 may cover all or part of upper portion 28 of container 20. For purposes herein, the term, “substantially the entire perimeter”, as in the sleeve and the container contact each other around substantially the entire perimeter, is intended to encompass a sleeve and container combination that includes a slight clearance between the sleeve and the container at a small number of discrete locations, such as at the locations of fold lines on the sleeve.

To allow for high volume production, easy assembly, and/or easy transport, a wrap 22 may be formed using a blank, such as a die-cut blank. One embodiment of a blank 60 is illustrated in FIG. 3. Blank 60 comprises an arcuate strip 62 and attached base portions 64a, 64b. Arcuate strip 62 has a generally curved upper edge 66 and a generally curved lower edge 68. To assemble a wrap using blank 60, a first side edge 70 may be attached to a second side edge 72 to form a frusto-conical sleeve without using a tab. In some embodiments, a tab may be used to attach the two side edges to one another. Base portions 64a, 64b may be folded at approximately right angles to arcuate strip 62.

Score lines may be provided at various locations to improve the folding characteristics of the assembled wrap and/or to improve the ease of assembly of a wrap from blank 60. For example, in one embodiment, first and second score lines 67a, 67b may be provided on arcuate strip 62 to facilitate folding of the wrap when the wrap is assembled. Additional score lines, similar to score lines 67a and 67b, may be provided on arcuate strip 62 to facilitate folding and/or unfolding of the wrap when the wrap is assembled. Third and fourth score lines 67c, 67d may be provided on base portions 64a, 64b respectively. A fifth score line 67e may be provided on base portion 64b to divide base portion 64b into a proximal section 65a and a distal section 65b. When a wrap is assembled from blank 60 (for instance, by attaching first side edge 70 to second side edge 72), and attaching distal section 65b of base portion 64b to base portion 64a) the wrap may be folded into a flat configuration by folding the wrap material along the score lines. The flat configuration may be desirable for storage or transport. It should be noted that the present invention is not limited in this respect as additional or fewer or even no score lines need be provided. For purposes herein, the term, “score lines” is intended to encompass any modification to the material forming the wrap that tends to facilitate folding of the material. For example, the score lines may include perforations, creases, cuts or other suitable modifications to the wrap material. For purposes herein, the term, “fold lines” is intended to encompass any modification to the material forming the wrap that tends to facilitate folding of the material and/or a line where the material is actually folded. Score lines and fold lines also may include curved score lines. For purposes herein, the terms “longitudinal score line” and “longitudinal fold line” mean score lines and fold lines, respectively, which extend in a generally up-down direction on the sleeve of the wrap in the use configuration. In many embodiments, the frusto-conical shape of the wrap results in longitudinal score or fold lines which are not strictly vertical, but nonetheless extend generally upwardly from the bottom of the sleeve toward the top of the sleeve.

In some embodiments, score lines 67c, 67d may be configured such that base portions 64a, 64b are removable from the remainder of the wrap. Score lines 67c, 67d may be perforations that allow a user to tear the base portions off of the wrap. With the base portions removed, the remainder of the wrap forms a sleeve which may be used as a conventional beverage container sleeve (e.g., as an insulative sleeve). In this manner, embodiments of cup wraps disclosed herein may be dual-use in that they may be used as an absorbent wrap with a base, or, optionally, as only a sleeve. The wrap may be constructed and arranged to allow an end-use customer to remove the base portion and/or may be constructed and arranged to allow the person who converts the wrap from a storage configuration to a use configuration to remove the base portion.

According to one embodiment of the invention, a method of converting a beverage container wrap to only a beverage container sleeve is provided. The method includes a step of removing a base portion of a beverage container wrap by separating a base portion from the wrap along one or more score lines. In some embodiments, the base portion may be removed by tearing (or otherwise separating) the base portion from the sleeve along two score lines. The act of separating along score lines may include separating along perforations. Separating the base portion may comprise inserting one's fingers through top opening 25 of wrap 22 and pushing on the base portions from the inside of wrap 22.

The methods and wraps described above regarding removing a base from a sleeve may be implemented with any suitable wrap disclosed herein, or with any other suitable wrap. The described methods of removing a base from a container wrap disclosed herein may be combined with one or more features of wraps disclosed herein and/or acts of assembling the wraps. Additional components may be added to the wraps to facilitate removal of the base. In some embodiments, directions or indications of how to remove the base may printed or otherwise displayed on the wrap itself.

As mentioned above, in some embodiments, distal section 65b of base portion 64b is attached to base portion 64a. One example of such an arrangement is shown in FIG. 4a. A bottom side of distal section 65b is attached (e.g., with an adhesive) to a bottom side of a portion of base portion 64a along a distal section 76b of base portion 64a to form a base 42. In this manner, when sleeve 24 is compressed (e.g., folded along score lines 67a, 67b), base 42 moves into sleeve 24 and is substantially flat. Wrap 22 is shown in a partially folded configuration in FIG. 4a. It should be noted that in some embodiments base portions 64a, 64b may be folded such that they extend externally from sleeve 24.

FIG. 4b shows wrap 22 in an open, or “use” configuration. Wrap 22 may be opened by simultaneously pushing inwardly on both folds of sleeve 24 (e.g., at score lines 67a, 67b). This motion pulls base portions 64a and 64b in opposite directions such that base portion 64b folds over itself. Base portion 64a extends over a substantial portion of the bottom opening of wrap 22.

According to one aspect of the invention, base portion 64a may be constructed and arranged such that a perimeter section 51 (see FIG. 3) of base portion 64a engages with sleeve 24 when the wrap is placed in a use configuration. In some embodiments, perimeter section 51 is pulled into an interference engagement with an interior surface 73 of sleeve 24 as the wrap is opened. In this regard, base portion 64a may “lock” wrap 22 in a use configuration by preventing or at least inhibiting wrap 22 from being folded once base portion 64a engages with sleeve 24. In some embodiments, after the wrap is partially opened, a beverage container may be pushed into the wrap to push down on base portion 64a to fully place wrap 22 into a use configuration. In this manner, transforming the wrap from a storage configuration to a use configuration may be performed with one hand.

As shown in FIG. 3, while substantial sections of the perimeters of base portions 64a, 64b have a substantially circular curvature, some sections of base portion 64a have a curvature other than circular, and one perimeter section 53 is straight. This configuration is one embodiment of a base portion 64a which includes a perimeter section that extends far enough from the attached side of base portion 64a to enter into an interference engagement with sleeve 24, as discussed further below with reference to FIG. 14. Of course other configurations are possible.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, perimeter section 51 is the only part of either base portion 64a or base portion 64b that enters into an interference engagement with sleeve 24. In some embodiments, a distal end 71 of base portion 64a and/or one or more other parts of base portion 64a and/or base portion 64b may enter into an interference engagement with sleeve 24. For example, in some embodiments, in addition to perimeter section 51, a perimeter section 52 may be configured to engage with interior surface 73 of sleeve 24. In some embodiments, a perimeter section 55 of base portion 64b may configured to engage with interior surface 73 of sleeve 24.

In an alternative embodiment, instead attaching the bottom side of distal section 65b of base portion 64b to base portion 64a, a top side of distal section 65b of base portion 64b may be attached to base portion 64a, as shown in FIGS. 4c and 4d. In this embodiment, the top side of distal section 65b is attached to a proximal portion 76a of base portion 64a. When sleeve 24 is folded, base portions 64a, 64b fold within sleeve 24.

Similar to the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 4a and 4b, the base portions of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 4c and 4d may be configured such that one or more perimeter sections of the base portions enter into an interference engagement with sleeve 24 when the wrap is put into an open configuration.

In alternative embodiments (not shown), instead of, or in addition to, an interference fit, a tab may be provided on base portion 64a and a slot may be provided within arcuate strip 68 such that a tab/slot arrangement facilitates support and/or “locking” of the base portions when the wrap is put into a use configuration. In still other embodiments, neither tabs nor interference engagements are used. For example, in some embodiments, the only engagement between each base portion and the sidewall is at the fold line where the base portion is attached to the sidewall.

In some embodiments, including the embodiments of FIGS. 3-4d, one or both of base portions 64a, 64b may be pulled inwardly from sleeve 24 while the two base portions are being attached to one another. In doing so, the fold lines formed between the base portions and sleeve 24 may be formed slightly higher than score lines 67c, 67d. As a result, when the wrap is placed into the open configuration, lower edge 68 may form a bottom rim by being positioned lower than the fold lines between the base portions and sleeve 24, and in some embodiments, by being positioned lower than bottom surface of the base portions. As discussed in more detail with reference to FIG. 10 further below, other configurations may be used to form a bottom rim with lower edge 68.

Upper edge 23 of blank 60 may include, in some embodiments, features which increase the surface area available for absorbing condensation. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, upper edge 23 may include triangular cutouts 27 which form trapezoidal flaps 29. In some embodiments, other shapes, including irregular shapes, may form flaps along upper edge 23.

Blank 60 may include, in some embodiments, score lines 81 at or near a base of trapezoidal flaps 29 or other upper edge flap shapes. The score lines, which may be cuts through the material, increase the ability of the flaps 29 to bend. Before insertion of a container into a wrap formed with blank 60, flaps 29 may extend in the same direction as sleeve 24 and form a top wrap opening with a first diameter. When a container having a diameter greater than the first diameter is inserted into the wrap, flaps 29 may bend outwardly, thereby allowing the container to fit within the wrap while maintaining a close fit between upper edge 23 and the container.

Many of the wrap embodiments disclosed herein may be provided with absorptive capacity through the use of one or more of many different types of absorbent materials. FIGS. 5a-5e show cross-sectional views of several materials which may be used in base 42 according to various embodiments. The materials shown and described for base 42 may be alternatively or additionally be used in sleeve 24 or other portions of wrap 22. In some embodiments, an absorbent material is attached to a large piece of support material before a blank is cut or otherwise produced. It should be noted that absorbent material need not be present at all locations on one side of the blank or on the inside of an assembled wrap, as the present invention is not limited in this respect.

FIG. 5a shows a cross-sectional view of single-faced microflute cardboard which includes a cardboard face 82 and flute material 84 adhered to one another. Flute material 84 may be configured to face inwardly toward the container base or container sides, or, in some embodiments, the flute material 84 may be configured to face outwardly and the cardboard face 82 may be configured to face inwardly. The increased surface area of the flute material 84 as compared to flat cardboard may provide improved absorption properties.

For a more flexible and lighter wrap, flute material 84 not having any cardboard face may be used as shown in FIG. 5b. In some embodiments, portions of wrap 22 may include flute material 84 alone while other portions may include single-faced microflute or double-faced microflute (not shown). In some embodiments, material such as corrugated cardboard, which can have larger flutes than microflute material, may be used.

FIG. 5c shows an absorbent material 86 attached to a support material 88. For example, compressed cellulose (which is an example of absorbent material) may be attached to paperboard (which is an example of support material in this embodiment) to provide material for base 42 and/or sleeve 24. Alternative absorbent materials may be used to provide support and/or absorption properties, such as kraft board, chip board, paper laminate, bogus kraft laminate, laminated bogus paper, kraft board laminate, or bamboo paper. Further examples of absorbent substances that may be used include water soluble polymers, absorbent foam, woven or non-woven material, European pulp board, starch-based products, cotton or other textile materials, steeping fibers, reinforced fibers, plastic material, cellulosic material, and compressed or uncompressed sponge material. Various combinations of the above-listed materials may be used together within a single wrap.

In some embodiments, support material 88 may be a paper-based or cardboard-based material, and absorbent material 86 may be a non-paper-based and non-cardboard-based material that has absorptive properties, such a starch-based material or a cellulose material.

To provide increased surface area, a material 85, as illustrated in FIG. 5d, having one side with a shape similar to that of single-faced microflute cardboard may be employed. Unlike single-faced microflute cardboard, however, no interior air gaps are present within the material. Instead, material 45 may be a one-piece construction formed with foam material, sponge material, starch-based material, paper-based material, or other suitable material. The additional absorptive material may provide additional absorption capacity for excess condensation.

In some embodiments, no outer support material is used, and the wrap may be formed with a single material, which may allow for easier manufacturing and/or better recyclability. For example, as shown in FIG. 5e, the base and/or sleeve may be formed with a pulp material 83. Pulp material 83 may be a market pulp, meaning pulp that has been substantially dried into sheets. Examples of different pulps include: fluff pulp; raw pulp; northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp; southern bleached softwood kraft (SBSK) pulp; northern bleached hardwood kraft (NBHK) pulp; southern bleached hardwood kraft (SBHK) pulp; bamboo pulp; and eucalyptus pulp, each of which can readily absorb water. Pulp is conventionally used as an input for paper or paperboard production, and typically is produced as a sheet material. Pulp may be a chemical pulp, a chemi-thermo mechanical pulp (CTMP), or in some cases a mechanical pulp or a thermo mechanical pulp (CTP). Pulp is available from various suppliers, including the International Paper Company, NorskeCanada, and Weyerhaeuser.

In one embodiment, pulp having a thickness of 1/32″ may be used, and in other embodiments, a thickness of 1/64″, 1/16″, ⅛″ or ¼″, or any other suitable thickness may be used, It should be noted that pulp may be used in combination with an outer support material such as paper or cardboard. In some embodiments, wraps that include pulp also may have a moisture-resistant or water-resistant outer layer or outer coating on part or all of the wrap.

It may be desirable to provide a wrap that tends to grip the container upon wetting. FIG. 6 shows wrap 22 including a sleeve formed substantially of a starch-based material, according to another embodiment of the invention. Certain starch-based materials may start dissolving upon wetting and provide a tacky or sticky surface that helps the wrap grip the container. Examples of starch-based materials include, corn starch, rice starch, wheat starch, and so on. Green Cell™ foam, available from KTM Industries, Inc. of Lansing, Mich., is one example of a starch-based material that may be used as an absorbent material. Another example of a starch-based material that may be used in some embodiments is a combination of starch and waste paper, for example the material used to make Flupis® brand packaging peanuts, made by PSP Papierschaum AG, Achim, Germany.

Wrap 22 is shown in FIG. 6 as not having a base, however, in some embodiments wrap 22 may include a base made of the same or different material as sleeve 24.

For some of the embodiments of wraps disclosed herein, an outer layer that provides structural support may be desirable. FIG. 7 shows a wrap 22 comprising a sleeve 24 that is formed with at least two different materials. A first, inner material 87 is formed with a material that is capable of absorbing condensation. A second, outer material 91 is formed with a material that is resistant to water or moisture. For example, outer material 91 may be a foam-based or plastic-based material that resists moisture, is hydrophobic or allows for the application of graphics to sleeve 24. In some embodiments of the invention, the moisture barrier may be formed with a coating, such as polyurethane for example, or a thin film of water-resistant material that is provided on the exterior surface of the wrap.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative embodiment of a unitary blank 102 that can be assembled into a container wrap. Blank 102 includes two arcuate strips 104, 106 integrally attached to a base portion 64. Side edges 110, 112 of arcuate strip 104 may be attached to opposed edges 114, 116 of arcuate strip 106 using adhesive, hook and loop fasteners or other suitable method. Arcuate strips 104, 106 each may have a fold portion 105, 107 located at one or both side edges. Fold portions 105, 107 may be folded around the exterior of the opposing arcuate strip to provide an area for attachment, for example with adhesive 75. In alternative embodiments, fold areas 105, 107 may be folded within the interior of the opposing arcuate strip.

After attachment of fold areas 105, 107, the wrap may be folded along score lines 67b, 67e, or elsewhere, into a flat configuration for transport and/or storage. Base portion 64 does not need to be integrally attached to arcuate strips 104, 106. Base portion 64 may be attached with adhesive, a tab and slot arrangement, or by any other suitable method to either or both of the arcuate strips. The illustrated embodiment includes extensions 90, 92, but as with each of the embodiments disclosed herein, the extensions may be omitted and base portion 64 may be attached directly to the arcuate strips.

In some embodiments, base portions 64a, 64b may be constructed and arranged such that the assembled wrap has a base that is close to lower edge 68, or a base that is positioned above lower edge 68 of the sleeve (i.e., within the sleeve). For example, as illustrated in FIG. 9, no extensions are provided between arcuate strip 62 and base portion 64, instead, base portion 64 is directly attached to arcuate strip 62. Similarly, tab 74 is directly attached to base portion 64 without an extension.

FIG. 10 shows a blank 60 in which base portions 64a, 64b are attached to arcuate strip 62 along score lines 67c, 67d that are positioned upwardly from lower edge 68. When blank 60 of this embodiment is assembled into a wrap and put into a use configuration, lower edge 68 forms a bottom rim and base portions 64a, 64b are held above a surface on which the wrap is placed. During use, if the base of the wrap becomes wet, such an arrangement may help to prevent wetting of the surface on which the wrap is placed.

FIG. 11 shows an alternative embodiment of a blank 120 that can be assembled into a container wrap. A plurality of triangular segments 122 may be attached to arcuate strip 62 such that when folded inwardly, triangular segments 122 form a base for a wrap. Triangular segments 122 and/or arcuate strip 62 may include an absorbent material to absorb condensation.

FIG. 12 shows an alternative embodiment for attaching base portion 64 to arcuate strip 62 that may eliminate the use of an adhesive, or provide a stronger attachment when used in conjunction with an adhesive. An insertion tab 79 may be inserted into a slot 96 to attach base portion 64 to arcuate strip 62. Somewhat similarly, arcuate strip 62 may have a tab 97 and a slot 98 for assembling the sleeve portion of the wrap. In alternative embodiments, slits (not shown) may be provided near side edges 70, 72 such that one slit extends to lower edge 68 and the opposed slit extends to upper edge 66 and they may be used to attach side edges 70, 72 together to form the sleeve portion.

FIG. 13 shows an alternative embodiment including a blank 130 having a shape configured to form a wrap for a cylindrical container such as an aluminum can. Upper edge 132 and lower edge 134 are straight so that a cylindrical tube is formed when a side edge 136 is attached to a side edge 138.

To reduce the possibility of condensation running over the upper edge of wrap 22 and/or to increase the surface area of the upper edge, wrap 22 may include a slanted upper edge. As shown in FIG. 14, an inwardly slanting upper edge 23′ may be provided. Upper edge 23′ may form an angle A with the outer surface of sleeve 24. Angle A may be between and including 1° and 89°, in some embodiments between 30° and 60°, and in some embodiments angle A may be approximately 45°.

FIG. 14 also illustrates an embodiment in which distal end 71 of base portion 64a forms an interference engagement with sleeve 24. In this embodiment, unlike the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, distal end 71 may be curved such that base portion 64a engages with sleeve 24 in an area diametrically opposed to the center of score line 67c.

As described above, various wrap embodiments disclosed herein may be adapted to absorb condensation that moves down from an area of a container that is not wrapped. An upper edge 23 of sleeve 24 may have a surface area that absorbs condensation as it moves down the outside wall of the container. In some embodiments, one example of which is shown in FIG. 15, upper edge 23″ may be thicker than the remainder of sleeve 24 to provide additional absorption area. For example, in one embodiment of a wrap, upper edge 23 may have a thickness of ⅛″, ¼″, ⅜″ or any other suitable thickness. The remainder of sleeve 24 may have a thickness that is 25%, 50% or 75% or other suitable percentage of the upper edge thickness.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, a container 20 may be attached to (or integrally formed with) a wrap with a sleeve 24 that has a diameter slightly greater (e.g., ⅛″ greater) than the portion of the container which it surrounds. In some embodiments, the base is integrally formed with the sleeve, or a watertight seal between the two elements is provided, such that condensation traveling down the side of the container is contained within the wrap. The upper end of the wrap may include a lip (not shown) which protrudes inwardly from sleeve 24 such that collected water does not pour from the wrap when the container is tilted for drinking. In some embodiments, base 42 may include absorbent material to absorb water that reaches base 42.

In another embodiment of the invention, a method of manufacturing a beverage container wrap is provided. The method includes providing a blank having a sleeve portion and one or more base portions. The base portions may include an absorbent material. The sleeve portion may be shaped such that upon assembly, the sleeve has a frusto-conical shape. Side edges of the sleeve portion are attached to one another to form a sleeve, and the base portions are attached to one other in various configurations, including the configurations described herein, to form a base of the wrap.

A flowchart of one method of assembling a beverage container wrap and then removing the base to leave a sleeve is illustrated in FIG. 17. In a method 140, an act 142 includes forming an arcuate strip including absorbent material. A base portion which is attached to the arcuate strip is formed in an act 144. In an act 146, the arcuate strip and the base portion are manipulated to form a beverage container wrap having a sleeve and a base. In an act 148, the base is completely separated from the sleeve.

Various manufacturing processes may be used during the manufacture of a wrap or a blank for assembly into a wrap. Blanks may be die-cut from sheets of material, and portions of the wraps may be injection molded, thermoformed, or extruded. Foam expansion in a mold is another option, as is pulp molding. In cases where a blank is formed by die-cutting a sheet of absorbent material, the blade used to make the cut that results in an upwardly-facing absorbent surface (i.e., the top edge of the sleeve) may be a rough blade such that more fibers of the absorbent material are exposed. In some embodiments, and additional step may be performed on the upwardly-facing surface to expose additional fibers.

It should be noted that embodiments of the wraps disclosed herein may be affixed or adhered to a cup or other container such that the container and wrap become one assembly. In other embodiments, a wrap may be formed on the exterior of the container during container production.

In some embodiments, a junction of the base and sleeve may be made to be relatively watertight. To produce such a wrap, the base may be attached to the sleeve around the entire perimeter of the base. For example, a wrap having the same general shape as the wrap shown in FIG. 2 may be made of molded plastic, molded paper, or molded pulp and may include an absorbent material on the inside surface. In other embodiments, a wrap may be constructed solely with molded pulp or molded paper.

While in many of the embodiments described herein, a wrap having a base and a sleeve is shaped and configured such that the sleeve directly contacts an outer surface of a container, the sleeve may be sized such that it is larger than the outer surface of the container and does not contact the container unless the sleeve is squeezed by a user (for instance, while the user is holding the sleeve). In such an embodiment, the base may be configured to adhere or otherwise attach to the container. Alternatively, the wrap having an oversized sleeve may be designed for use as a coaster wherein the container is lifted out of and placed back into the wrap while the wrap remains on a surface.

For purposes herein, a “blank” is defined as a piece or pieces of material that are not finally assembled, but rather require at least one further operation. Multiple pieces, including different materials, may constitute a blank if the pieces are attached together into one article. A “unitary blank” is defined as a blank that is formed of a single piece of material.

For purposes herein, the term “attached” refers to separate pieces connected together by adhesive, a tab and slot arrangement, or any other attaching arrangement, whether direct or indirect. The term “attached” also refers to pieces or portions that are integrally connected.

As used herein, the term “frusto-conical” shall be understood to not require absolute conformance to a mathematical definition of this term, but rather shall be understood to indicate a general shape as would be understood by one skilled in the art most closely related to the subject matter herein. As used herein, a frusto-conical sleeve means a sleeve that has a substantial portion which is frusto-conically shaped. For example, a frusto-conical sleeve is considered to include a sleeve which has both a frusto-conical portion and a cylindrical portion.

Any of the embodiments of wraps disclosed herein may include materials and/or surface features on the inner or outer surface of the wrap which provide an enhanced grip between the wrap and a container or between a user's hand and the wrap. Additionally, the exterior of the wrap may have a surface or a coating that allows for the printing of information and/or advertisements on the exterior of the wrap.

This invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having,” “containing,” “involving,” and variations thereof herein, is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.

Having thus described several aspects of at least one embodiment of this invention, it is to be appreciated that various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements are intended to be part of this disclosure, and are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description and drawings are by way of example only.