Title:
Collapsible bottle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible bottle is particularly useful as a beverage bottle such as a water bottle or soda bottle which can be collapsed after its contents are emptied in order to reduce its volume whereby the collapsed bottles take up less space in trash receptacles, recycling bins and so forth. Diagonal and typically spiraling grooves are formed in the bottle to facilitate its collapse. Visual indicators on the bottle are intended to suggest to the user the need to collapse the bottle. These visual indicators may include arrows. Fingertip indentations or other grip surfaces are typically provided for rotating the bottle to facilitate its collapse.



Inventors:
Dickie, Robert G. (King City, CA)
Application Number:
12/284843
Publication Date:
03/25/2010
Filing Date:
09/25/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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20080061025Handle for a bottleMarch, 2008Egnatski



Primary Examiner:
THOMAS, KAREEN KAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SAND, SEBOLT & WERNOW CO., LPA (CANTON, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A collapsible plastic bottle comprising: a plastic bottom wall; a plastic annular sidewall which has a top and a bottom, which circumscribes a vertical axis, which is connected at its bottom to the bottom wall and extends upwardly therefrom, and which has expanded and collapsed positions; an interior chamber defined by the bottom wall and sidewall; a top entrance opening of the interior chamber defined by the top of the sidewall; a plurality of diagonal grooves formed in the sidewall each having an upper end and a lower end; wherein the grooves facilitate movement of the sidewall from the expanded position to the collapsed position in response to a first manual force applied to the sidewall in a first rotational direction about the vertical axis to cause relative rotation between the top and bottom of the sidewall; and a visual indicator on the bottle suggestive of a need to apply the first manual rotational force.

2. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the visual indicator comprises a first arrow which is adjacent one of the top and bottom of the sidewall and which points in the first rotational direction.

3. The bottle of claim 2 wherein the visual indicator comprises a second arrow on the sidewall which is adjacent the other of the top and bottom of the sidewall and points in a second rotational direction opposite the first rotational direction.

4. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the visual indicator comprises a set of circumferentially spaced fingertip indentations which are formed in the sidewall and sized to receive therein a fingertip.

5. The bottle of claim 4 wherein the fingertip indentations are disposed above the upper ends of the grooves.

6. The bottle of claim 4 wherein each groove has an elongated direction and a first width measured perpendicular to the elongated direction; and each fingertip indentation has a second width measured horizontally which is greater than the first width.

7. The bottle of claim 4 wherein each groove has an elongated direction and a first width measured perpendicular to the elongated direction; and each fingertip indentation has a height which is greater than the first width.

8. The bottle of claim 4 wherein each fingertip indentation has circumferentially spaced leading and trailing edges; each fingertip indentation is bounded by a leading surface which extends from adjacent the leading edge toward the trailing edge and against which the first manual force is to be applied; each fingertip indentation has a trailing surface which extends from adjacent the trailing edge toward the leading surface; and each leading surface extends radially inwardly adjacent the leading edge at a sharper angle than does the trailing surface adjacent the trailing edge.

9. The bottle of claim 4 wherein each fingertip indentation has a leading half and a trailing half which is different from the leading half.

10. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the visual indicator comprises a set of circumferentially spaced radially extending concavely curved fingertip grip surfaces on the sidewall.

11. The bottle of claim 10 wherein the sidewall adjacent its top comprises a shoulder section which tapers downwardly and outwardly; and the fingertip grip surfaces are disposed on the shoulder section.

12. The bottle of claim 11 wherein the sidewall adjacent its top comprises a neck section adapted for releasably attaching thereto a cap; and wherein the shoulder section tapers downwardly and outwardly from the neck section.

13. The bottle of claim 12 wherein the neck section comprises a threaded portion adapted for threadably engaging the cap.

14. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the visual indicator is disposed above the upper ends of the grooves.

15. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the sidewall adjacent its top comprises a shoulder section which tapers downwardly and outwardly; and the visual indicator is disposed on the shoulder section.

16. The bottle of claim 1 wherein the sidewall has a circular outer surface; and the visual indicator comprises a ridge projecting radially outwardly from the circular outer surface.

17. The bottle of claim 16 wherein the ridge is substantially V-shaped.

18. The bottle of claim 1 further comprising a label connected to the sidewall and covering a portion of the grooves.

19. The bottle of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of permanent irregular creases formed in the sidewall in response to movement of the sidewall from the expanded position to the collapsed position.

20. The bottle of claim 1 further comprising a cap which is removably attached to the sidewall and forms an airtight and watertight seal therewith between the interior chamber and atmosphere external to the bottle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to collapsible bottles or containers. More particularly, the present invention relates to a collapsible bottle which utilizes spiraling grooves to facilitate its collapse. Specifically, the present invention relates to such a bottle which utilizes finger grips and rotational direction indicators which respectively facilitate and suggest twisting the bottle to its collapsed position.

2. Background Information

In recent years, the use of personal water bottles has increased tremendously. In North America, the sales of bottled water have nearly tripled from 1998 to 2006. Most of these bottles are formed of recyclable plastic commonly in the form of polyethylene terephthalate, which has the common abbreviations PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P. PET is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is commonly used in synthetic fibers and for various other purposes. PET is one of the most readily recycled plastic materials available. Water bottles and soda bottles which are typically formed of PET or the like are commonly recycled but also often simply thrown out. In either case, these bottles take up a substantial amount of space due to the volume of air within the bottle when it is discarded. Thus, it would be desirable to use a collapsible bottle in order to reduce the amount of volume taken up when collapsed and discarded, so that storage and transportation of the bottles would be substantially more efficient. By way of example, a standard curbside recycling box typically holds somewhere on the order of 15 to 18 or 20 of these personal sized, 500 ml bottles. If these bottles could be collapsed to provide a volume reduction on the order of 2.0 to 1 or 2.5 to 1, somewhere on the order of 40 to 50 of these bottles would be able to fit within the same recycling box.

There are a variety of collapsible bottles and other containers known in the art. One type of collapsible container utilizes a bellows type side wall which may be formed of concentric alternating ridges and grooves or helical ridges and grooves. Collapsible containers of this nature are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,886,084 granted to Davison, which discloses a double walled collapsible container, U.S. Pat. No. 2,899,110 granted to Parker and U.S. Pat. No. 6,598,755 granted to Pedulla, et al. Also along these lines, U.S. Pat. No. 4,875,576 granted to Torgrimson et al. discloses a collapsible container which has a side wall of the bellows type configuration and which is specifically configured as a mixing kit.

Many of the collapsible containers are configured to move between the erect or expanded position and the collapsed position. The latter category includes containers which have side walls formed of a material which is sufficiently resilient to itself cause the side wall to spring back all the way to the expanded position. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,736,285 granted to Stewart-Stand discloses a collapsible container which utilizes a rubber or elastomeric side wall and also includes a cover and a base which are releasably connected to one another when the side wall is collapsed therebetween. U.S. Pat. No. 2,268,993 granted to Sanders discloses a collapsible container having a cylindrical side wall with a coil spring attached inside the side wall for the purpose of biasing the side wall to its expanded position. U.S. Pat. No. 2,723,779 granted to Parker et al. discloses a collapsible container which includes spiraling solid or channel type stiffening ribs which may facilitate the container returning to its expanded condition. The latter patent also provides an example of collapsible containers which are specifically configured when squeezed or collapsed to express the contents therefrom, wherein the contents are typically viscous or paste like materials such as whipped cream, cake topping or icing, peanut butter, ketchup and the like.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,865,211 granted to Hollingsworth discloses a collapsible container wherein a portion of a side wall turns inside out to fold over on itself in order to move to the collapsed position. The prior art also includes metal cans which have grooved side walls such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,139,143 granted to Wiswell. A hydraulic or pneumatic press is used to collapse the metal can. While the prior art thus includes a variety of collapsible containers, there is still a need in the art for a collapsible bottle which can be manually collapsed and which provides strong visual indicators that the bottle should be collapsed after its use.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a collapsible plastic bottle comprising a plastic bottom wall; a plastic annular sidewall which has a top and a bottom, which circumscribes a vertical axis, which is connected at its bottom to the bottom wall and extends upwardly therefrom, and which has expanded and collapsed positions; an interior chamber defined by the bottom wall and sidewall; a top entrance opening of the interior chamber defined by the top of the sidewall; a plurality of diagonal grooves formed in the sidewall each having an upper end and a lower end; wherein the grooves facilitate movement of the sidewall from the expanded position to the collapsed position in response to a first manual force applied to the sidewall in a first rotational direction about the vertical axis to cause relative rotation between the top and bottom of the sidewall; and a visual indicator on the bottle suggestive of a need to apply the first manual rotational force.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment of the invention, illustrated of the best mode in which Applicant contemplates applying the principles, is set forth in the following description and is shown in the drawings and is particularly and distinctly pointed out and set forth in the appended claims.

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the collapsible bottle of the present invention with its label attached.

FIG. 2 is perspective view of the bottle as seen from above and from the side of the bottle with the label removed.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the bottle as seen from below and from the side of the bottle with the label removed.

FIG. 3A is a sectional view taken on line 3A-3A of FIG. 6.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged bottom plan view of the bottle.

FIG. 4A is an enlarged side elevational view of the lower portion of the bottle.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged top plan view of the bottle.

FIG. 5A is an enlarged side elevational view of the top portion of the bottle.

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the bottle with the label removed.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged sectional view taken on line 7-7 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged sectional view taken on line 8-8 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken on line 9-9 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the bottle with its cap removed at a stage of partial collapse.

FIG. 11 is similar to FIG. 10 and shows the bottle in its fully collapsed state with its cap reattached.

Similar numbers refer to similar parts throughout the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The collapsible bottle of the present invention is generally shown at 10 in FIG. 1 with its label attached and in FIGS. 2, 3 and 6 with its label removed. Bottle 10 includes a circular and generally flat bottom wall 12, an annular and generally circular side wall 14 connected and extending upwardly from bottom wall 12, and a cap 16 which is removably secured to the top of side wall 14. Cap 16 includes a circular flat top wall 18 and an annular substantially cylindrical side wall 20 secured thereto and extending downwardly therefrom with internal threads 22 (FIG. 9). Bottle 10 has an expanded position shown in FIGS. 1-3, 6 and 9, and a collapsed position shown in FIG. 11. Bottle 10 is substantially radially symmetrical about a central vertical axis X. Side wall 14 is generally concentric about axis X. Bottom wall 12 and side wall 14 are formed of a suitable thermoplastic material which in the exemplary embodiment is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) although other suitable plastic materials may be used. In the exemplary embodiment, bottom wall 12 and side wall 14 are blow molded whereby the two walls are formed as a integral one-piece member. A label 24 is connected to and circumscribes a portion of side wall 14. Label 24 is typically formed of a thin sheet of flexible material such as paper or plastic and is typically glued or adhered to itself and/or side wall 14 to connect label 24 to side wall 14.

Bottle 10 is most typically sized for the purpose of holding about 500 ml of liquid, such as water or a carbonated liquid or beverage. However, bottle 10 may also be configured in other sizes, such as the standard 1 liter, 1.5 liter, or 2 liter bottles. It may also be configured as a 12 ounce, 16 ounce, 24 ounce, 32 ounce, or other commonly sized beverage container. While the common 500 ml water bottles have relatively thin walls, the bottles which are used for carbonated beverages typically have walls which are somewhat thicker although still relatively thin, and must typically be configured to withstand up to 90 pounds per square inch internal pressure which can occur in the containment of such carbonated liquids.

Side wall 14 has a bottom 26 which serves as the bottom of bottle 10 and which is secured to the outer perimeter of bottom wall 12 and extends upwardly therefrom to a top 28 (FIG. 9). Bottom 26 and top 28 define therebetween a vertical height H1 (FIG. 9) of side wall 14 in its expanded position, which is nearly the total height of bottle 10, which further includes the thickness of top wall 18 of cap 16. Side wall 14 includes an annular bottom arcuate transition section 30 which extends from bottom 26 upwardly a short distance and has a convexly curved outer surface which curves radially outwardly and upwardly. Side wall 14 further includes a substantially cylindrical section 32 and a grooved section 34 which takes up most of cylindrical section 32. Cylindrical section 32 includes a lower cylindrical section 36 which is connected to and extends upwardly from the top of transition section 30 and has the largest diameter of any portion of side wall 14. Cylindrical section 32 also includes an upper cylindrical label section 38 which is connected to the top of lower section 36 and extends upwardly therefrom. Label section 38 steps inwardly slightly from lower section 36 and thus forms a slightly recessed annular area circumscribing section 38 for receiving therein label 24. Label section 38 thus has a slightly smaller diameter than lower section 36. Side wall 14 further includes a tapered shoulder section 40 which is connected to and extends upwardly from the top of label section 38. Shoulder section 40 at its lower end steps outward slightly from label section 30 whereby the lower end of shoulder section 40 has a diameter which is substantially the same as that of lower cylindrical section 36. Shoulder section 40 then tapers upwardly and inwardly and has a generally frustoconical shape. Side wall 14 further includes a neck section 42 which is connected to and extends upwardly from the top of shoulder section 40. Neck section 42 includes a thicker lower section 44, a thinner upper section 46 and an annular flange 48 which is connected to the top of lower section 44 and the bottom of upper section 46 and extends radially outwardly therefrom. External threads 50 are formed along the outer periphery of upper section 46 to provide a threaded engagement with internal threads 22 of cap 16. As shown in FIG. 9, lower section 44 of side wall 14 has a thickness which is greater than that of upper section 46, both of which are thicker than bottom wall 12 and the remainder of side wall 14 which extends below lower section 44. The thickness of bottom wall 12 and sections 30, 32 and 40 of side wall 14 are substantially the same.

Bottom wall 12 and side wall 14 define therewithin an interior chamber 52 (FIG. 9) having a top entrance opening 54. Entrance opening 54 serves as the sole entrance or exit opening of interior chamber 52 through which material may enter or exit chamber 52, such as water or liquid 56 and air or other gas 58 which are shown as the contents of bottle 10 in FIG. 9. Top wall 18 of cap 16 and top 28 of the upper threaded portion of side wall 14 form a water tight and gas tight seal therebetween when cap 16 is sufficiently tightened via its threaded engagement with external threads 50 of upper section 46. Thus, when this gas tight, watertight seal is formed, no water or other liquid or air or other gas may pass into or out of interior chamber 52 from or to atmosphere external to bottle 10. Cap 16 may be unthreaded and removed from neck section 42 in order to provide access to entrance opening 54 whereby these various materials may enter or exit interior chamber 52. Under normal production circumstances, interior chamber 52 is filled with water or another liquid such as carbonated water or soda through entrance opening 54 when cap 16 is removed. Cap 16 is subsequently attached to form the seal with the top of side wall 14 in order to keep the contents of bottle 10 therein during shipping, handling and so forth.

In accordance with several features of the invention, ten diagonal grooves 60A-J are formed in cylindrical section 32 of side wall 14, a lower set 62 of seven fingertip grips or indentations 64A-G are formed in side wall 14 adjacent bottom 26, and an upper set 66 of seven fingertip grips or indentations 68A-G are formed in tapered shoulder section 40 of side wall 14. Several visual rotation indicators or twist indicators are provided to suggest to the user that the upper and lower portions of bottle 10 should be rotated or twisted respectively in opposite directions about vertical axis X to effect the collapse of bottle 10. These visual rotational or twist indicators include indentations 64 and 68, a lower set of arrows 70 which are respectively associated with lower fingertip grips 64A-G, and an upper set of arrows 72 which are respectively associated with upper fingertip grips 68A-G. In the exemplary embodiment, each lower arrow 70 includes a substantially rectangular rear portion or tail and a forward triangular portion or head having a sharp V-shaped point or pointing tip 74 which points to the right as viewed from the side (FIG. 6) and clockwise about axis X when viewed from the bottom (FIG. 4), thereby suggesting rotation of the bottom portion of bottle 10 in said clockwise direction about axis X. Likewise, upper arrows 72 have a rectangular tail and a triangular head having a V-shaped point or pointing tip 76 whereby each of arrows 72 points in the opposite circumferential or rotational direction in which the top of side wall 14 is to be rotated about axis X in order to effect the collapse of the side wall.

With primary reference to FIGS. 3A and 6, grooved section 34 is described in greater detail. As previously noted, ten diagonal grooves 60A-J are formed in side wall 14. In the exemplary embodiment, each groove 60 is a spiraling groove which angles upwardly and circumferentially along the outer periphery of sidewall 14 so that each groove spirals about vertical axis X. Each adjacent pair of grooves 60 is spaced from one another by a respective spiraling bridge section 78 which angles or spirals upwardly parallel to the corresponding adjacent pair of grooves 60. Grooves 60 and bridge sections 78 thus alternate around the circumference of side wall 14. Each groove 60 has an arcuate top end 80 and an arcuate bottom end 82 with spiraling opposed side edges 84 and 86 extending therebetween. The upper portion of each groove 60 extends under label 24, which thus covers said upper portion including upper end 80. A periphery transition wall 88 bounds each groove 60 and curves radially inwardly from side edges 84 and 86 and from top and bottom ends 80 and 82 to form a convexly curved surface along the entire outer periphery of the respective groove 60. A U-shaped wall 90 is secured to transition wall 88 and extends radially inwardly therefrom to form a concavely curved surface bounding each respective groove 60 and communicating with the convexly curved surface of transition wall 88.

Top and bottom ends 80 and 82 of each groove 60 define therebetween a vertical height H2 (FIG. 6) of the respective grooves in the expanded position. Inasmuch as each bridge section 78 extends the same length as each groove 60, height H2 is also representative of the vertical height of the bridge sections in the expanded position. Each groove 60 also has a length as measured along its spiraling configuration between ends 80 and 82 which is greater than height H2. Vertical height H2 makes up the vast majority of the height of cylindrical section 32 and in the exemplary embodiment is about 90 percent thereof. Although each groove 60 in the exemplary embodiment extends from adjacent section 30 and the lower end of section 32 upwardly to adjacent the upper end of section 32 and shoulder section 40, more than one set of shorter grooves may be used as well. For example, a first set of diagonal and typically spiraling grooves which are about half the height of grooves 60 may be positioned above a second set of grooves which are also half the height of grooves 60 whereby the two sets may overlap one another or be vertically separated from one another. In this case, the height analagous to vertical height H2 would be from the bottom of the lower set to the top of the upper set of grooves. The side edges 84 and 86 of a respective groove 60 define therebetween a width W1 (FIG. 6) of the groove which is perpendicular to the elongated direction of the groove. The side edge 84 of one groove also serves as the side edge of the adjoining bridge section 78 while the side edge 86 of an adjacent groove 60 also serves as the side edge of said bridge section 78. Thus, the side edges 84 and 86 of a given bridge section 78 define therebetween a width W2 taken perpendicular to the elongated direction of the bridge section. In the exemplary embodiment, width W2 is greater than width W1 and more particularly on the order of about 1.5 times that of width W1. However, width W2 may be the same as or less than width W1.

As shown in FIG. 3A, each groove 60 has a circumferential width represented by angle A1, which is defined between the intersection of a horizontal plane and side edges 84 and 86 of the respective groove 60. FIG. 3A also illustrates that each bridge section 78 has a circumferential width represented by angle A2 as measured between edges 84 and 86 of the bridge section 78 along a horizontal plane. In the exemplary embodiment, angle A2 is greater than angle A1 although this may vary such that A2 is the same as or less than angle A1. FIG. 3A also illustrates that each bridge section 78 along the horizontal plane forms an arc of a common circle which is concentric about axis X.

A vertical cross section of bridge sections 78 and groove 60 is represented in FIG. 9, which illustrates that each bridge section 78 in the exemplary embodiment is substantially straight and vertical. FIG. 9 also illustrates that each groove 60 has a vertical height H3 defined between side edges 84 and 86 along a vertical plane. FIG. 9 also illustrates that each bridge section 78 has a vertical height H4 defined between its side edges 84 and 86 along a vertical plane. Height H4 in the exemplary embodiment is greater than height H3 and more particularly is more than two times of that of height H3. Although this may vary, height H4 is most typically greater than height H3.

With primary reference to FIGS. 3, 4, 4A and 7, fingertip indentations 64 and the lower portion of bottle 10 are described in greater detail. Each indentation 64 is formed partially in transition section 30 and the lower portion of cylindrical section 36 below the bottom ends 82 of grooves 60. Each indentation 64 extends upwardly from or adjacent bottom 26 and has a generally triangular configuration which is wider adjacent its bottom 92 than its top 94. The triangular configuration is bounded by a bottom generally horizontal side or edge 96, a generally vertical leading edge 98 which may be referred to as a right edge as viewed from the side of the bottle, and a trailing side or edge 100 which may be referred to as a left edge as viewed from the side of the bottle. Trailing edge 100 angles upwardly and to the right from bottom edge 96. Leading and trailing edges 98 and 100 adjacent their upper ends intersect at a top rounded corner 102. Bottom edge 96 adjacent its leading or right end intersects leading edge 98 at its bottom end at a leading bottom rounded corner 104. Bottom edge 96 at its trailing or left end intersects trailing edge 100 at its bottom end at a trailing bottom rounded corner 106.

A periphery transitional wall 108 which has a generally inverted U-shaped or inverted V-shaped configuration curves radially inwardly from leading edge 98 toward the left, from trailing edge 100 towards the right and from top corner 102 downwardly. Transitional wall 108 has a convexly curved outer surface which transitions to a recessed wall 110 which is recessed radially inwardly of the circular outer surfaces of bottom arcuate transition section 30 and the lower portion of lower cylindrical section 36. Recessed wall 110 has a right or leading surface 112 which serves as the primary fingertip gripping surface used to rotate the bottom end of the bottle about axis X. A portion of leading or gripping surface 112 is disposed directly to the right of tip 74 of arrow 70 whereby tip 74 points directly to said portion of gripping portion 112. Recessed wall 110 also includes trailing surface 114, a portion of which is to the left of arrow 70. Leading surface 112 faces radially outwardly and to the left toward trailing edge 100 and trailing surface 114 while trailing surface 114 faces radially outwardly and to the right toward leading edge 98 and leading surface 112.

Each adjacent pair of indentations 64 is circumferentially spaced by a respective generally triangular bridge section 116 which is part of transition section 30 and the lower portion of lower cylindrical side wall 36 and which is wider adjacent its top than its bottom. Each bridge section 116 extends circumferentially from the leading edge 98 of one indentation 64 to the trailing edge 100 of an adjacent indentation 64 and is secured to the respective leading and trailing portions of the periphery transition walls 108 bounding the respective adjacent pair of indentations 64. Each bridge section 116 extends upwardly from the leading and trailing bottom rounded corners 104 and 106 of an adjacent pair of indentations 64 upwardly to the corresponding top rounded corners 102 or tops 94 of the respective adjacent pair of indentations 64. The outer surfaces of bridge sections 116 form respective horizontal arcs of a common circle which is concentric about axis X.

As shown in FIG. 7, each leading surface 112 angles radially inwardly at a sharper angle from the circular outer surface of the adjacent bridge section 116 than does trailing surface 114 from the bridge section 116 to which surface 114 is adjacent. Leading surface 112 thus provides a better gripping surface for rotating the bottom of bottle 10 in the direction indicated by arrows 70 than it does trailing surface 114 for rotating the bottom of bottle 10 in the opposite direction. One way of representing this distinction between leading and trailing surfaces 112 and 114 is illustrated by angles A3 and A4 in FIG. 7. Angles A3 and A4 are defined using a first radius R1, a second radius R2, a first tangent T1 and a second tangent T2. Radii R1 and R2, tangent T1 and T2 and angles A3 and A4 all lie within the horizontal plane along which FIG. 7 is taken. Radius R1 intersects leading edge 112. Tangent T1 is a tangent to leading surface 112 and extends generally radially outwardly therefrom whereby angle A3 is defined between radius R1 and tangent T1. Likewise, radius R2 intersects trailing edge 114, and tangent T2 is a tangent to trailing surface 114 whereby angle A4 is defined therebetween. As is readily apparent from FIG. 7, angle A3 is substantially less than angle A4. In the exemplary embodiment, angle A3 is on the order of about 30 degrees and angle A4 is on the order of about 65 degrees whereby angle A4 is more than twice that of angle A3. Preferably, angle A4 is at least 15 or 20 degrees greater than angle A3 and even more preferably at least 25 or 30 degrees greater. Generally, the greater the difference between angle A4 and A3, the easier it is to visually discern which of surfaces 114 and 112 is to be used as the fingertip gripping surface to which a rotational force is applied about axis X in order to effect the collapse of bottle 10. If this difference is sufficiently pronounced, it can serve as (or as part of) a visual indicator or suggestion to the user about which direction the bottom of bottle 10 should be rotated even without the use of arrows 70.

There are several aspects of indentations 64 which facilitate their use as visual rotation or twisting indicators in addition to providing the fingertip pushing surfaces to rotate the bottom of bottle 10. Each indentation 64 is not bilaterally symmetrical about a plane cutting through it in any direction (i.e., a vertical plane, a horizontal plane or otherwise). Thus, for instance, the upper half and lower half of each indentation 64 are different from one another and are not mirror images of one another. Likewise, the leading half and trailing half of each indentation 64 are different from one another and are not mirror images of one another. Leading edge 98 and trailing edge 100 angle upwardly at different angles and such that they are not mirror images of one another about a vertical plane. This is likewise true of the leading and trailing portions of transition wall 108. Leading and trailing surfaces 112 and 114 have different shapes as viewed from the side or as viewed from below. Surfaces 112 and 114 also angle radially differently, as discussed above. Other distinctions are also evident from the Figures.

Bottom 92 and top 94 of each indentation 64 defines therebetween its vertical height H5, which is substantially longer than width W1 of groove 60, typically twice or three times width W1. Height H5 is far less than vertical height H2 of grooves 60. Height H2 may easily be three, four or five times that of height H5. Height H5 in the exemplary embodiment is also greater than width W2 of bridge section 78. Each indentation 64 also has a width W3 as measured horizontally from left to right which in the exemplary embodiment is from adjacent bottom trailing corner 106 to leading edge 98. Width W3 in the exemplary embodiment is approximately the same as height H5 and thus has similar ratios with respect to width W1, width W2 and height H2.

With primary reference to FIGS. 5, 5A and 8, the upper portion of bottle 10 including upper set 66 of indentations 68 is now described in greater detail. Each indentation 68 has a top 118 and a bottom 120 defining therebetween a height H6 which is the same or nearly the same as height H5 and thus has the same ratios with respect to width W1, width W2, height H2 and so forth. Each indentation 68 has an upper leading edge 122 which angles upwardly and to the right as viewed from the side, a lower leading edge 124 which angles downwardly and to the right as viewed from the side, and a trailing edge 126 which extends generally vertically and angles upwardly and to the right. Upper leading edge 122 and trailing edge 126 at the upper ends intersect to form a top rounded corner 128. The bottom of trailing edge 126 and the right or trailing end of lower leading edge 124 intersect to form a bottom rounded corner 130. The leading ends of upper and lower leading edges 122 and 124 intersect to form a leading rounded corner 132. Each indentation 68 thus has a substantially triangular configuration. The left or leading end of indentation 68, here represented by leading rounded corner 132, and the trailing or right end of indentation 68 represented adjacent top corner 28, define therebetween a width W4 which is similar to height H6 and thus provides similar ratios with respect to the measurements as discussed previously. A generally triangular periphery transition wall 134 curves radially inwardly from upper and lower leading edges 122 and 124 and trailing edge 126 to provide a convexly curved surface along each of said edges.

A generally triangular recessed bowl-shaped wall 136 is secured to and extends radially inwardly from periphery transition wall 134 and generally provides a substantially triangular concavely curved surface which bounds indentation 68 and curves radially inwardly from all portions of transition wall 134 to adjacent arrow 72, which projects radially outwardly therefrom, whereby arrow 72 is disposed within or bounds indentation 68. Wall 136 includes a leading fingertip gripping surface 138 at least a portion of which is disposed between corner 132 and tip 76 of arrow 72. Arrow 72 thus points directly toward said portion of surface 138. Wall 136 has a trailing surface a portion of which is behind arrow 72 and which angle less sharply radially than leading surface 138, as described above regarding leading and trailing surfaces 112 and 114 of indentations 64. While most of indentation 68 is disposed radially inward of the outer frustoconical surface of shoulder portion 40, a small leading portion adjacent leading surface 138 is disposed radially outwardly of said outer surface. This is due to the fact that the left or leading portion of indentation 68 is defined by an L-shaped or V-shaped ridge 140 which projects radially outwardly of the circular or frustoconical outer surface of shoulder section 40.

Ridge 140 includes an upper leg 142 which angles upwardly and to the right and includes the portion of transition wall 134 extending along upper leading edge 122. Ridge 140 also includes a lower leg 144 which angles downwardly and to the right and includes the portion of transition wall 134 which extends along lower leading edge 124. Legs 142 and 144 intersect at a rounded tip or point 146. Ridge 146 thus provides an additional visual rotation indicator or twist indicator inasmuch as it projects outwardly from the outer surface of section 40 and also includes rounded point 146 which points in the same rotational direction as arrows 72. In contrast, there is no such ridge extending along trailing edge 126 which projects radially outwardly from the outer surface of shoulder section 40.

Each adjacent pair of indentations 68 is circumferentially spaced from one another and joined to one another by a generally L-shaped bridge section 135 which defines respective portions of the frustoconical outer surface of shoulder section 40. Each bridge section 135 extends circumferentially from the trailing edge 126 of one indentation 68 to the upper and lower legs 142 and 144 of V-shaped ridge 140 of the adjacent indentation 68 and thus to adjacent upper and lower leading edges 122 and 124 of said adjacent indentation 68. As illustrated in FIG. 8, bridge sections 135 along a horizontal plane form respective arcs of a common circle which is concentric about axis X. V-shaped ridges 140 project radially outwardly from the outer surface of respective bridge sections 135.

Like lower indentations 64, there are several aspects of upper indentations 68 which facilitate their use as visual rotation or twisting indicators in addition to providing the fingertip pushing surfaces to rotate the top of bottle 10. Each indentation 68 is not bilaterally symmetrical about a plane cutting through it in any direction (i.e., a vertical plane, a horizontal plane or otherwise). Thus, for instance, the upper half and lower half of each indentation 68 are different from one another and are not mirror images of one another. Likewise, the leading half and trailing half of each indentation 68 are different from one another and are not mirror images of one another. Each of upper and lower leading edges 122 and 124 and trailing edge 126 angle upwardly at different angles and such that they are not mirror images of one another about a vertical plane or any other plane. This likewise true of the leading and trailing portions of transition wall 134. Other distinctions are also evident from the Figures.

The collapsing operation of bottle 10 is now described with primary reference to FIGS. 10 and 11. First, cap 16 is unthreaded by rotation relative to side wall 14 (arrow A in FIG. 2) in order to either simply break the gas tight, water tight seal or to additionally completely remove cap 16 (FIG. 10). Then, the upper portion of bottle 10 including neck section 42 and shoulder section 40 are manually rotated about axis X in the direction indicated by arrows 72 while the bottom of bottle 10 is manually rotated in the opposite direction indicated by arrows 70. more particularly, the fingers of one hand are positioned within indentations 64 to apply rotational force against fingertip gripping surfaces 112 while the fingertips of the other hand are positioned within indentations 68 to apply rotational force against fingertip gripping surfaces 138 to provide the counter rotating motion of the bottom and top portions of bottle 10 relative to one another.

The positioning of the fingertips in the respective indentations is represented in FIGS. 7 and 8, the fingertips being shown in dashed lines. More particularly, the thumb 148A of one hand is shown positioned in indentation 64A with the fingertips 150 of the other fingers of the same hand positioned respectively in indentations 64C-F. Likewise, FIG. 8 shows thumb 148B of the other hand positioned in indentation 68D with the fingertips 150 of the other four fingers positioned respectively in indentations 68F, 68G, 68A, and 68B. Each of FIGS. 7 and 8 thus illustrate the rationale for utilizing seven indentations 64 and seven indentations 68. When either hand is moved to a grasping or gripping position, the thumb is generally opposed to the other four fingers so that the other four fingers are generally circumferentially evenly spaced from one another while there is a larger space between the thumb and index finger and between the thumb and pinkie finger. The use of seven indentations which are equally spaced circumferentially about the upper portion and lower portion of the bottle allows the thumb to fit within one indentation with the index finger positioned in another indentation with one of the indentations left free therebetween and with the pinkie finger in another indentation with one of the indentations left free between the thumb and pinkie finger. Indentations 64 and 68 are thus ergonomically configured for a normal grip and/or grasping configuration of the hand. FIGS. 7 and 8 also illustrate one typical initial positioning of the right and left hands in the respective indentations so that the thumbs are generally circumferentially opposed to allow for a greater degree of twisting in a single twisting action of the opposed hands.

The counter rotating motion of the top and bottom of bottle 10 thus causes bottle 10 to begin collapsing as illustrated in FIG. 10. As the bottle is collapsed, air exits the interior chamber as indicated at arrow B in FIG. 10. The rotational force applied by one hand to the upper portion of the bottle via indentations 68 is accompanied by an axial downward force (arrow F1 in FIG. 10) along axis X while the opposite rotational force applied by the other hand to the bottom of the bottle via indentations 64 is accompanied by an opposed upward axial force (arrow F2) whereby the manually applied rotational and axial forces thus applied force bottle 10 to collapse. Grooves 60 are configured to facilitate this collapsing effect in response to the relative rotation between the upper and lower ends of side wall 14. During the collapsing process, grooves 60 move closer to one another. Due to the plastic material of which side wall 14 is formed, the twisting of side wall 14 produces strains primarily within cylindrical section 32 which crinkle or crumple portions of section 32. This occurs in bridge sections 78 and along the portions of the side wall defining grooves 60, such as U-shaped wall 90 and so forth. This crumpling process thus creates irregular wrinkles or creases 152 along side wall 14 primarily within section 32. Creases 152 are permanently formed in side wall 14. The manual twisting is continued until the bottle reaches its fully collapsed state shown in FIG. 11. Once cylindrical section 32 is fully collapsed, cap 16 is rotated (arrow C in FIG. 2) back onto threaded neck section 46 in order to form the gas tight, water tight seal previously discussed so that air will not reenter the interior chamber of bottle 10. Such air reentry would allow for some degree of expansion to a volume greater than that of the fully collapsed position due to the fact that the plastic material forming side wall 14 does have some resilient characteristics although not enough to cause it to move back to its fully expanded position.

In the fully collapsed position shown in FIG. 11 with cap 16 attached to form the gas tight, water tight seal, side wall 14 has a collapsed height H7 defined between bottom 26 and top 28 and grooves 60 have a collapsed vertical height H8 defined between top and bottom ends 80 and 82. The reduction in the height of the bottle or side wall 14 as shown in the figures is due solely to or substantially to the reduction in height of grooves 60 or grooved section 34 although the crumpling or crinkling of side wall 14 may extend above and/or below that shown in FIG. 11. Additional height reduction and volume reduction may also be achieved by additional vertical compression of bottle 10 by continuing to push the opposed hands together with or without additional twisting force so that a portion of shoulder section 40 and/or portions of lower section 30 and the lower section of the cylindrical portion 32 adjacent section 30 may be crushed or otherwise deformed. This is especially true of the typical water bottles which have rather thin side walls. This may also be feasible with some of the soda bottles or the like which nonetheless have thicker side walls in order to withstand the internal pressure from carbonated drinks.

Preferably, the ratio of the collapsed height H7 of side wall 14 to the expanded height H1 is preferably no greater than 0.50 and the more preferably no more than 0.45, 0.40, 0.35 or 0.30. The ratio of collapsed height H8 of grooves 60 or section 34 to the expanded height H2 thereof is preferably no more than 0.35 and even more preferably no more than 0.30, 0.25 or 0.20. The volume reduction of bottom 11 may be quite substantial, whether measured as the reduction the internal volume of interior chamber 52 or the external volume as defined by the entire outer surface of bottle 10. Preferably, the ratio of the collapsed volume to the expanded volume is no greater than 0.50 and more preferably no more than 0.45, 0.40, 0.35, 0.30 or 0.25.

As previously noted, the plastic material of which side wall 14 is formed does not have sufficient resilient characteristics to cause side wall 14 to move back to its fully expanded position although it may move toward the expanded position to a relatively limited degree. Inasmuch as the irregular creases 152 formed during the collapsing process are permanent, bottle 10 is incapable of returning to its original expanded configuration even if reverse rotational and axial forces are applied to the upper and lower portions of the bottle to stretch it out once again. That is, such forces may return bottle 10 to its fully expanded height, but would not be able to repair the deformation represented primarily by creases 152.

It is further noted that bottle 10 in the preferred embodiment is free of several aspects known in the prior art as discussed in the Background section of the present application. For example, bottle 10 does not include spring members such as coil springs or stiffening ribs which act as spring members capable of causing the side wall of the bottle to move from its collapsed position to its fully expanded position. In addition, bottle 10 preferably avoids the use of the bellows style helical grooves formed between helical folding sections such that each adjacent pair of grooves meets at a substantially pointed or V-shaped ridge. In addition, bottle 10 does not utilize a cover attached to the top of the collapsible side wall and a base connected to the bottom of the side wall wherein a latching mechanism releasably connects the cover and base to one another in the collapsed position by to hold the collapsed side wall therebetween so that upon release of the connection between the cover and base, the side wall may be expanded to its fully expanded position. Bottle 10 may also avoid the use of other prior art concepts the lack of which may distinguish the present invention and which Applicant reserves the right to subsequently claim.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.

Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.

Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention are an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.





 
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