Title:
APPARATUS FOR DEPLOYING AND RETRACTING A FLEXIBLE PORTION OF MATERIAL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus (1, 51, 101) for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702), the apparatus (1, 51, 101) comprising a flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702) having an arrangement (203, 303, 403, 503, 603, 703) for carrying threads (4, 204, 304, 404, 504, 604, 704) along the flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702). The threads (4, 204, 304, 404, 504, 604, 704) extend along the flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702) via the thread carrying arrangement (203, 303, 403, 503, 603, 703), The apparatus (1, 51, 101) has a container (6, 56, 106) for storing the flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702), the container (6, 56, 106) having an arrangement (7, 111) for facilitating movement of the threads (4, 204, 304, 404, 504, 604, 704) so that the flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702) is incrementally loaded into the container (6, 56, 106). At least part of the thread means (4, 204, 304, 404, 504, 604, 704) is movable relative to the flexible portion of material (2, 202, 302, 402, 502, 502, 702).



Inventors:
Boyd, Peter (Antrim, IE)
Woods, Andrew (Armagh, IE)
Application Number:
12/746586
Publication Date:
04/21/2011
Filing Date:
12/04/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
242/390.5, 242/390.8, 242/398
International Classes:
A45F5/00; A45C7/00; B65H75/40; B65H75/44; B65H75/48
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RIVERA, WILLIAM ARAUZ
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMIRMAN IP LAW, PLLC (ROCHESTER, MI, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material, the apparatus comprising: a flexible portion of material having means for carrying thread means along the flexible portion of material, thread means extending along the flexible portion of material via the thread carrying means; and a container for storing the flexible portion of material, the container having an arrangement for facilitating movement of the thread means so that the flexible portion of material is incrementally loadable into the container, at least part of the thread means being movable relative to the flexible portion of material.

2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least part of the thread means is fixable relative to the flexible portion of material.

3. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least part of the thread means is fixable relative to the thread carrying means.

4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the thread means comprises a plurality of threads with one end of each thread being fixable relative to the flexible portion of material.

5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the thread carrying means comprises one or more seams attached to the flexible portion of material.

6. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the thread carrying means comprises loops of material attached to the flexible portion of material.

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the flexible portion of material comprises two overlapping sheets of material joined along a part of their overlapping edges.

8. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the flexible portion of material is manufactured from rip stop nylon, polyester known as china silk, chiffon or natural silk.

9. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the flexible portion of material is selected from the group consisting of a reusable carrier bag, a sail, an item of clothing, a sleeping bag, a sleeping blanket, a ground sheet, a camouflage net, a mosquito net, and combinations thereof.

10. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the arrangement for facilitating movement of the thread means along the thread carrying means is selected from the group comprising a mechanical actuator, an electrical actuator, a hydraulic actuator, a pneumatic actuator mounted on the container, and combinations thereof.

11. An apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein the mechanical actuator is a recoil reel movably mounted on the container.

12. An apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the recoil reel has a biasing means operably coupled between the container and the recoil reel.

13. An apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein the biasing means is a clock/spiral spring.

14. An apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the recoil reel has a plurality of cylindrical channels of different diameters.

15. An apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the recoil reel has a pawl and ratchet arrangement.

16. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the container comprises two parts each of which houses an arrangement for facilitating movement of the thread means.

17. An apparatus as claimed in claim 16, wherein one part of the container is coupled to one part of the flexible portion of material and the other part of the container is coupled to the another part of the flexible portion of material on mutually opposing locations.

18. An apparatus as claimed in claim 16, wherein the two parts have location means for guiding the two parts together into correct positional alignment.

19. An apparatus as claimed in claim 16, wherein the two parts have releasable fastening means.

20. (canceled)

Description:

The present invention relates to an apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material and in particular to an apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material from a container readily carried by a user.

Environmental issues are currently at the top of everyone's agenda from Governments to manufacturing companies to individuals. A major issue to be tackled is landfill sites where millions of tonnes of waste products are piled into the ground year on year. A common site floating around landfills and increasingly around the countryside is plastic bags which are generally supplied by retail outlets throughout the country. A number of EU countries such as Ireland have implemented regulations requiring shoppers to buy bags at the check out of retail stores. Selling these bags instead of giving them away is an effort by the Government to curb unsightly bags making their way into landfills, cities and into the surrounding countryside as waste. However, the low cost, convenience and efficacy of these bags coupled with the inconvenience of people carrying bulky alternative eco-friendly bags has resulted in a minimal reduction of plastic bags distributed in retail outlets.

One reason why plastic bags continue to be circulated is that people often call in to shops ad hoc or late at night to fit shopping trips into their increasingly busy lives. More and more retail outlets now offer twenty four hour shopping facilities commensurate with modern city life and so people are less likely to plan shopping trips on their days off or at weekends. Therefore people are less likely to have eco friendly shopping bags with them and have to use the plastic bags available at the check out. Another problem is that the alternative bags are bulky to carry around so people who travel on foot, by bicycle or on public transport are highly unlikely to carry these green shopping bags as a matter of course. Therefore, even green shoppers are regularly caught out with no option but to put their goods in the plastic bags supplied at the check out desks of retail outlets. Consequently, plastic bags are continuously entering the waste cycle after a single use in many instances. A reduction in plastic bags would reduce the amount of crude oil consumed producing them and CO 2 emissions currently associated with plastic bags degrading would be eliminated.

It is an object of the present invention to address the problem of portability, deployment and retraction of sheets of material in general and in particular to address the portability, deployment and retraction problems of the current range of cumbersome eco friendly bags.

Accordingly, the present invention provides an apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material, the apparatus comprising a flexible portion of material having means for carrying thread means along the flexible portion of material, thread means extending along the flexible portion of material via the thread carrying means, a container for storing the flexible portion of material, the container having an arrangement for facilitating movement of the thread means so that the flexible portion of material is incrementally loadable into the container as at least part of the thread means is moved relative to the flexible portion of material.

Ideally, at least part of the thread means is fixable relative to the flexible portion of material.

Preferably, at least part of the thread means is fixable relative to the thread carrying means.

Ideally, the thread means comprises a plurality of threads with one end of each thread being fixable relative to the flexible portion of material.

Advantageously, at least a portion of the thread means being slideable relative to the thread carrying means allows the flexible portion of material to be packed in an incremental manner into the container as the thread means is shortened thereby improving the efficiency of the packing process of the flexible portion of material into the container. The movement of the thread means relative to the thread carrying means moves the flexible portion of material between a deployed position and a retracted position.

Preferably, one end of the thread means is fixed relative to the flexible portion of material.

Ideally, one end of the thread means is fixed relative to the thread carrying means.

Preferably, the thread carrying means comprises a plurality of seams and/or loops of material extending from the location of the container and extending alternately along the back and front face of the flexible portion of material and being spaced apart so as to be staggered and substantially evenly distributed across the surface area of the front and back faces of the flexible portion of material.

In a first embodiment, the arrangement for moving the thread means along the thread carrying means is a mechanical actuator mounted in the container. Advantageously, the mechanical actuator controls the rate of movement of the thread means along the thread carrying means.

Preferably, the mechanical actuator is operable manually. Preferably, a winding mechanism is usable.

In an alternative embodiment of thread moving arrangement, a motorised actuator is provided for moving the thread means along the flexible portion of material. Alternatively, a hydraulic, electronic or pneumatic actuator is provided.

In the first embodiment, the mechanical actuator is a recoil reel movably mounted on the container. Advantageously, the recoil reel easily stores and dispenses the thread means in a confined space.

In the first embodiment, the recoil reel has a biasing means operably coupled between the container and the recoil reel for pre-tensioning the recoil reel. Advantageously, the pre-tensioned biasing means readily rewinds the thread means onto the recoil reel with minimal user intervention.

In the first embodiment, the biasing means is a spring. Ideally, the spring is a clock spring or a spiral spring. Advantageously, the spring requires minimum space and is a cheap and efficient means of pre-tensioning the recoil reel.

In the first embodiment, the clock/spiral spring has a flat central portion and the container has a holder with a central slot extending along the longitudinal axis of the holder in which the flat portion of the clock/spiral spring is located. Advantageously, the slot of the holder provides a resistance for the clock/spiral spring to pre-tension the recoil reel.

In the first embodiment, the recoil reel has a pawl and ratchet arrangement for locking and releasing the recoil reel. Advantageously, the pawl and ratchet arrangement allows the recoil reel to rotate freely in one direction and locks the recoil reel against rotation in the opposite direction. Advantageously, the pawl and ratchet arrangement prevents the biasing member recoiling the reel when the flexible portion of material is in use.

In the first embodiment, the recoil reel has a cylindrical tubular body and a number of channels are formed on the external surface of the tubular body by a number of ridges. Advantageously, the channels are formed for reeling on and dispensing threads as the recoil reel rotates in one direction and then the other.

Ideally, channels of varying diameters are provided for reeling in threads of varying lengths. Advantageously, as different lengths of thread are used along the flexible portion of material, then large diameter channels used with longer lengths of thread and shorter lengths of thread wound onto smaller diameter channels ensure that the longer and shorter threads are retracted in the same amount of time thus ensuring consistent compaction of the flexible portion of material.

In a second embodiment, the container has a closable open end for receiving the flexible portion of material.

In the second embodiment, the container has at least one thread receiving opening in a portion of the container opposing the closable open end, the thread means passing through the thread carrying means of the flexible portion of material and beyond into the container and out through the thread receiving opening such that when an operator pulls the thread means the flexible portion of material is drawn into the container via the open end.

In the second embodiment, the container has rewind means for rewinding the thread means back into the container after it has been pulled through the thread receiving opening and away from the container to retract the flexible portion of material into the container.

In the second embodiment, the rewind means comprises a rewind reel and biasing means.

In the second embodiment, the biasing means is a clock spring or a spiral spring.

In the second embodiment, means for disengaging the rewind reel from the biasing means is provided. Advantageously, the disengaging means allows redeployment of the flexible portion of material after it has been retracted into the container.

Ideally, the disengaging means comprises a clutch member.

Preferably, the thread carrying means comprises one or more seams attached to the flexible portion of material, preferably sewn.

Ideally, the seams have at least one open end.

Preferably, the thread carrying means comprises loops of material sewn into the flexible portion of material or grommets.

Ideally, the container comprises two parts.

Preferably, the two parts are identical. Advantageously, this reduces design and manufacturing cost.

Ideally, the two parts have location means for guiding the two parts together into correct positional alignment.

Preferably, the two parts have releasable fastening means. In a preferred embodiment, the fastening means are magnetic.

Preferably, the flexible portion of material comprises two overlapping sheets of material joined along at least part of their overlapping edges to form a bag, a sheet, an article of clothing or a net.

Ideally, the flexible portion of material is manufactured from rip stop nylon, polyester known as china silk, chiffon or natural silk.

It will of course be appreciated that the flexible portion of material is not limited to any specific material, construction, shape or size and any portion of flexible material that can be deployed and retracted into a container is suitable for use with the present invention.

Ideally, one part of the container is coupled to one part of the flexible portion of material and the other part of the container is coupled to the another part of the flexible portion of material.

Preferably, the two parts of the container are coupled to the flexible portion of material on mutually opposing locations.

Preferably, the flexible portion of material comprises any one of the group consisting of a reusable carrier bag, a sail, a sleeping bag/blanket, a groundsheet, an item of clothing and a camouflage/mosquito net.

Preferably, the overlapping sheets have substantially the same shape and size.

Ideally, the container is coupled along one of the edges of the flexible portion of material defining a top and a bottom of the portion of material.

Preferably, the flexible portion of material has deployment means. Advantageously, the deployment means allows an operator to pull the flexible portion of material out of the container or the deployment means is arranged to facilitate automatic deployment for a sail for example.

Ideally, the deployment means comprises a tab of material attached to the flexible portion of material.

Preferably, the container has means for releasably fastening the flexible portion of material thereto.

Ideally, the releasable fastening means comprises hinged clamp means. Alternatively, adhesives can be used to couple the flexible portion of material to the container.

Preferably, the thread is a monofilament or a braided thread. Ideally, the thread is a nylon such as fishing line. Preferably, the thread is coated to reduce friction.

Ideally, means for coupling the threads to the recoil reel are provided.

The invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings which show by way of example only three embodiments of an apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material in accordance with the invention and six embodiments of thread carrying arrangement. In the drawings:—

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of apparatus in an in use position;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container in a storage position;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the container;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of one half of the container showing the thread moving arrangement;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along A-A of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of one half of the container showing the cover plate in position;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken along B-B of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is an exploded view of one half of the container;

FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a first embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 10 is a rear elevational view of the first embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 11 is a front elevational view of a second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 12 is a rear elevational view of the second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 13 is an elevational view of a third embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 14 is an elevational view of a fourth embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 15 is a front elevational view of a fifth embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 16 is a front elevational view of a sixth embodiment of thread carrying arrangement on a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 17 is another perspective view of the first embodiment of apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 18 is a partial perspective view of one half of the container with a flexible portion of material attached;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of apparatus for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material;

FIG. 20 is an exploded perspective view of a third embodiment of container;

FIG. 21 is an exploded perspective view of a recoil reel in accordance with the invention.

Referring to the drawings generally, there is shown a first embodiment of an apparatus indicated generally by the reference numeral 1 for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material 2. The flexible portion of material 2 to 702 has an arrangement 203 to 703, see FIGS. 9 to 16 for carrying threads 4 to 704 along a predetermined pathway of the flexible portion of material 2 to 702. The threads 4 to 704 extend along the flexible portion of material 2 via the thread carrying arrangement 203 to 703. A container 6 is provided for storing the flexible portion of material 2. In particular, referring to FIGS. 1 to 8, the container 6 has an arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 7 for moving the threads 4 along the thread carrying arrangement 3 so that the flexible portion of material 2 is incrementally loaded into the container 6 as the length of the threads 4 passing through the thread carrying arrangements 3 of the flexible portion of material 2 is shortened.

Advantageously, the threads 4 being slideable relative to the thread carrying arrangement 3 allows the flexible portion of material 2 to be packed in an incremental manner into the container 6 as the threads 4 are shortened thereby improving the efficiency of the packing process of the flexible portion of material 2 into the container 6. The movement of the threads 4 relative to the thread carrying arrangement 3 moves the flexible portion of material 2 between a deployed position, see FIG. 1 and a retracted position, see FIG. 2.

One end of each thread 4 is fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 2 or relative to the thread carrying arrangement 3. The arrangement 7 for moving the threads 4 along the thread carrying arrangement 3 is a mechanical actuator 8 mounted in the container 6. Advantageously, the mechanical actuator 8 controls the rate of movement of the threads 4 along the thread carrying arrangement 3.

The mechanical actuator 8 see especially FIGS. 3 and 5, comprises a recoil reel 9 movably and preferably rotatably mounted on the container 6. Advantageously, the recoil reel 9 easily stores and dispenses the threads 4 in a confined space. The recoil reel 9 has a biasing element 10 operably coupled between the container 6 and the recoil reel 9 for pre-tensioning the recoil reel 9. Advantageously, the pre-tensioned biasing element 10 readily rewinds the threads 4 onto the recoil reel 9 with minimal user intervention. The biasing element 10 is a clock/spiral spring. Advantageously, the spring requires minimum space and is a cheap and efficient means of pre-tensioning the recoil reel 9. The clock/spiral spring has a flat central portion 11 and the container 6 has a holder 12 with a central slot 14 extending along the longitudinal axis of the holder 12 into which the flat central portion 11 of the clock/spiral spring sits. Advantageously, the slot 14 of the holder 12 provides a resistance for the clock/spiral spring to pre-tension the recoil reel 9.

The recoil reel 9 has a pawl and ratchet arrangement 15, see FIG. 4 with the pawl being provided by a wishbone spring locking members 16 and the ratchet provided by a toothed cogwheel 17 on the external diameter of the recoil reel 9. Advantageously, the pawl and ratchet arrangement 15 allows the recoil reel 9 to rotate freely in one direction and locks the recoil reel 9 against rotation in the opposite direction. Advantageously, the pawl and ratchet arrangement 15 prevents the biasing element 10 recoiling the reel 9 when the flexible portion of material 2 is in use. The recoil reel 9 has a hollow cylindrical tubular body having a number of channels 18, in this case three channels 18, formed on the external surface of the tubular body by four ridges 18a, see FIGS. 5 and 7. The channels 18 are formed for reeling on and dispensing threads 4 as the recoil reel 9 rotates in one direction and then the other. The biasing element 10 is mechanically coupled to the internal surface of the tubular body of the recoil reel 9. The wishbone spring locking members 16 is pivotally mounted on a protrusion 19, see FIG. 8 on the container 6 so as to engage with the toothed cogwheel 17. A cover plate 20 is mounted around the mechanical actuator 8 to prevent the flexible portion of material 2 coming in contact with any of the moving parts of the mechanical actuator 8 and protects the mechanical actuator 8 from external hazards. A bottom plate 22 defines thread receiving slots 22a. The flexible portion of material 2 is selected from any one of the group consisting of a reusable carrier bag, a sail, an item of clothing, a sheet for sleeping and camouflage/mosquito nets.

The thread carrying arrangements 203 to 703 comprises open ended seams/channels. Alternatively, the thread carrying arrangement comprises loops of material sewn into the flexible portion of material 2 to 702 or a combination of loops and seams/channels. Alternatively, thread and grommets, not shown are used. The container 6 comprises two parts 23. The two parts 23 of the container 6 have location members 25 for guiding the two parts 23 together into correct positional alignment as shown in FIG. 2. The two parts 23 also have releasable fastening members 25 which are provided by magnets in the preferred embodiment shown. The flexible portion of material 2 is manufactured from rip stop nylon, polyester known as china silk, chiffon or natural silk and comprises two overlapping sheets of material 26 joined along a portion of their overlapping edges to form a bag 27. It will of course be appreciated that the flexible portion of material is not limited to any specific material, construction, shape or size and any portion of flexible material that can be deployed and retracted into a container is suitable for use with the present invention.

One part 23 of the container 6 is coupled to one part of the flexible portion of material 2 and the other part 23 of the container 6 is coupled to another part of the flexible portion of material 2. The two parts 23 are located on mutually opposing locations of the flexible portion of material 2. The container 6 is coupled along one of the edges of the flexible portion of material 2 defining a top and a bottom on the flexible portion of material 2. The external contours of the container 6 are formed for comfort on a persons hand and in the first embodiment the contours are curved. The inner cavity 28, see FIG. 6 defined by the two parts 23 of the container 6 is formed for storing the flexible portion of material 2. The container 6 is manufactured from a material, preferably deformable and in particular from polypropylene, polycarbonate, PCABS, PET, wood, metal or metal alloy.

The flexible portion of material 2 has a deployment member 41. Advantageously, the deployment member 41 allows an operator to pull the flexible portion of material 2 out of the container 6. The deployment member 41 comprises a tab of material 41 attached to the flexible portion of material 2. Referring to FIGS. 17 and 18, the container 6 has an arrangement 43 for releasably fastening the flexible portion of material 2 thereto. The releasable fastening arrangement 43 comprises a hinged clamp member 45. The hinged clamp member 45 has a base plate 46 mounted on the container 2 with three protrusions 47 projecting from the base plate 46. A movable panel 48 is hinged to the base plate 46 along a hinge line 61 and has three apertures 49 in alignment with the protrusions 47. The flexible portion of material 2 has three holes formed to be mounted on the protrusions 47 and the movable panel 48 is moved into position to secure the flexible portion of material 2 onto the base plate 46 with the apertures 49 snap fitting onto the protrusions 47. Alternatively, adhesives can be used to couple the flexible portion of material 2 to the container 6.

In use, a person travelling to a shop for example, has the container 6 on their person in a bag or attached to a key ring or a belt loop or in a pocket. When the person has passed through the check out desk and paid for their provisions, they take hold of the container 6 with one hand and pull the deployment member 41 exposed via an opening 60 defined by the wall of the container 6. As the person pulls on the tab of material 41, the flexible portion of material 2 is forced out of the inner cavity 28 and the pressure applied to the tab of material 41 is transferred onto the threads 4 which are wound onto the channels 18 of the recoil reel 9. As the user continues to apply a force to the tab of material 41, the flexible portion of material 2 is continuously drawn out of the container 6 and the recoil reels 9 begin to unwind.

The pawl and ratchet arrangements 15 allow the recoil reels 9 to rotate in the direction of dispensing of the threads 4. As the recoil reels 9 rotate, each clock/spiral spring 10 is tightened onto itself pre-tensioning the recoil reel 9. When the flexible portion of material 2 is totally withdrawn from the container 6, the wishbone spring locking members 16 prevent the recoil reels 9 from rewinding the threads 4 back onto the channels 18 while the re-useable bag is in use. When the person has emptied the bag, they simply release the wishbone spring locking members 16 and the pre-tensioned recoil reels 9 are rotated by the clock/spiral spring 10 unwinding to reel the threads 4 back onto the channels 18. As the recoil reels 9 wind the threads 4 back onto themselves, the threads 4 are moved relative to the flexible portion of material 2 and the seams 21 and/or loops of material other than where the threads 4 are fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 2. The flexible portion of material 2 is incrementally loaded into the container 6 as the length of the threads 4 passing through the thread carrying arrangements 3 of the flexible portion of material 2 is shortened.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIG. 19, there is shown a second embodiment of apparatus indicated generally by the reference numeral 101 for deploying and retracting a flexible portion of material 102. The flexible portion of material has an arrangement for carrying threads akin to those shown in FIGS. 9 to 16 along a predetermined pathway of the flexible portion of material. The threads extend along the flexible portion of material via the thread carrying arrangement.

A container 106 has a closable open end 107 and a lid 109 for receiving and releasing the flexible portion of material and at least one thread receiving opening 108 in a portion of the container 106 opposing the closable open end 107. The threads pass through the thread carrying arrangement of the flexible portion of material and beyond into the container 106 and out through the thread receiving opening 108 such that when an operator pulls the threads the flexible portion of material 102 is drawn into the container 106 via the closable open end 107.

The threads slide along the thread carrying arrangement so that the flexible portion of material is compressed and compacted into the container 106 piece by piece as the length of thread passing through the flexible portion of material is shortened by the pulling action of the operator. The container 106 has a rewind member 111 for rewinding the threads back into the container 106 after they have been pulled through the thread receiving opening 108 and away from the container 106 to retract the flexible portion of material into the container 106.

The rewind member 111 has a rewind reel 112 and a biasing member 114 such as a clock or spiral spring. The rewind member 111 also has an arrangement 115 such as a clutch for disengaging the rewind reel 112 from the biasing member 114 to allow redeployment of the flexible portion of material after it has been retracted into the container 106. The thread carrying arrangement is provided by open ended channels although loops of material (not shown) sewn into the flexible portion of material can also be used as well as thread and grommets. The flexible portion of material is selected from any one of the group consisting of a reusable carrier bag, a sail, an item of clothing, a sheet/bag for sleeping, a groundsheet and a camouflage/mosquito net.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIGS. 9 and 10, there is shown a first embodiment of a thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 203 on a flexible portion of material 202. The structure of the flexible portion of material 202 is determined by the use to be made of it. So for example a reusable bag would have the overlapping sheets 221 coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 222 and along the pair of overlapping bottom edges 223 with the overlapping upper edges 224 open whereas an article of clothing such as a t-shirt or a jacket 202 would have the overlapping sheets 221 coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 222 with the pair of overlapping bottom edges 223 and upper edges 224 being open to receive a persons head and torso. This modified construction of the flexible portion of material 202 dependent on the use to be made of the flexible portion of material 202 applies to all of the embodiments described in relation to this invention although the following embodiments are described with reference to a reusable bag for ease of understanding.

The flexible portion of material 202 has a pair of overlapping sheets 221, the overlapping sheets 221 being coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 222 and along the pair of overlapping bottom edges 223. A first central channel 221 extends from a central tab 225 of the upper edge 224 of a first sheet 221 in a straight line down the central spine of the first sheet 221, around the bottom edges 223 and straight back up along the second sheet 226 terminating at or about the upper edge 227 of the second sheet 226. A second channel 229 extends from the central tab 225 of the upper edge 224 of the second sheet 226 to one bottom corner 231 of the flexible portion of material 202, around the bottom edges 223 and straight back up along one lateral edge 232 of the first sheet 221. The channel 229 then extends around the upper edge of a first loop of material 234 attached along the upper edges 224 of both sheets 221, 226 of material forming a handle/strap 234 and extends back down along the loop of material 234 and terminates proximal to the upper edge 224 of the second sheet 221 where the thread 204 is fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 202. A third channel 235 extends from the central tab 225 of the upper edge 224 of the second sheet 226 to the other bottom corner 236 of the flexible portion of material 202, around the bottom edges 223 and straight back up along the other lateral edge 237 of the first sheet 221 extending around the upper edge of a second loop of material 239 forming a handle/strap 239 between the upper edges 224 of the two sheets 221, 226. The channel 235 extend back down along the loop of material 239 and terminates proximal to the upper edge 224 of the second sheet 226 where the threads 204 are fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 202. All of the channels/seams 221, 229, 235 extend along the inside of the flexible portion of material 202. A pair of gussets 240 are sewn into the opposing corners 231, 236 to allow the bag to sit square on the ground when loaded and single stitching is used to form the channels 221, 229 and 235 and to secure the gussets 240 in order to minimise material volume. The embodiment uses a total of three threads 204 and the container 206 is attached at or about the central tab 225.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIGS. 11 and 12, there is shown a second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 303 on a flexible portion of material 302. The flexible portion of material 302 has a pair of overlapping sheets 321, the overlapping sheets 321 being coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 322 and along the pair of overlapping bottom edges 323. The upper edge 320 of both overlapping sheets 321 of the second embodiment of a flexible portion of material 302 are tapered to a central ridge 325 and a pair of aligned and overlapping openings 319 are formed in both sheets 321 to form handles where the flexible portion of material 302 is to be used as a carrier bag. A first channel 331 extends from the central ridge 325 of the tapered upper edge 324 of the first sheet 321 in a zig zag around one side of the opening 319 and on in a straight line down the central spine of the first sheet 321 terminating at the bottom edge 323 of the first sheet 321 where the threads 304 are fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 302. A second channel 326 extends from the central ridge 325 of the tapered upper edge 324 of the first sheet 321 along the edge of the tapered upper edge 324 and in a straight line down along one lateral edge 327 of the first sheet 321 terminating at a first bottom corner 328 of the first sheet 321 where the threads 304 are fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 302. A third channel 329 extends from the central ridge 325 of the tapered upper edge 324 of the first sheet 321 along the other edge of the tapered upper edge 324 and in a straight line down along the other lateral edge 322 of the first sheet 321 terminating at the other bottom corner 332 of the first sheet 321.

A fourth channel 333 on the second sheet 321 of the second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 303 extends from the central ridge 325 and passes intermediate the tapered edge 324 and one side of the opening 319, the fourth channel 332 subsequently passing down along the second sheet 321 after passing below the opening 319 in a direction substantially parallel to the lateral edges 322 of the second sheet and terminating at the bottom edge 335 of the second sheet 321. A fifth channel 337 on the second sheet 321 of the second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 303 extends from the central ridge 325 and passes intermediate the other tapered edge 324 and the opposite side of the opening 319, the second seam 337 subsequently passing down along the second sheet 321 after passing below the opening 319 in a direction substantially parallel to the lateral edges 322 of the second sheet 321 and terminating at the bottom edge 335 of the second sheet 321. This second embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 303 uses five threads 304 in total and a fold arrangement 341 is incorporated between the sheets 321 at or about the bottom edges 323 to provide a base for the bottom of the carrier bag.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIG. 13, there is shown a third embodiment of thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 403 on a flexible portion of material 402. The flexible portion of material 402 has a pair of overlapping sheets 421, the overlapping sheets 421 being coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 422 and along the pair of overlapping bottom edges 423. The upper edge 420 of both overlapping sheets 421 of the third embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 403 are tapered to a central ridge 425 and a pair of aligned and overlapping openings 419 are formed in opposing sheets 421 to form handles where the flexible portion of material 402 is to be used as a carrier bag. A first channel 424 extends from the central ridge 425 of the tapered upper edge 420 of the first sheet 421 in a zig zag around one side of the opening 419 and on in a straight line down the central spine of the first sheet 421 terminating at the bottom edge 423 of the first sheet 421 where the thread 404 is fixed relative to the sheet 421. A second channel 426 extends from the central ridge 425 of the tapered upper edge 420 of the first sheet 421 along the edge of the tapered upper edge 420 and in a straight line down along one lateral edge 422 of the first sheet 421 terminating at a first bottom corner 428 of the first sheet 421. A third channel 429 extends from the central ridge 425 of the tapered upper edge 420 of the first sheet 421 along the other edge of the tapered upper edge 420 and in a straight line down along the other lateral edge 422 of the first sheet 421 terminating at the other bottom corner 431 of the first sheet 421. The second sheet 421 has a minor image formation of thread carrying arrangement 403. Six threads 404 are used in this third embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 403 and the threads pass along the inside surface of the sheets 421. A fold arrangement 435 is incorporated between the sheets 421 at or about the bottom edges 423 to provide a base for the bottom of the carrier bag. The container 406 is coupled to the central ridge 425 of both sheets 421.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIG. 14, there is shown a fourth embodiment of a flexible portion of material 502 showing a third thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 503. The flexible portion of material 502 has a pair of overlapping sheets 521, the overlapping sheets 521 being coupled along both pairs of overlapping lateral edges 522 and along the pair of overlapping bottom edges 523. The upper tapered edge 520 of both overlapping sheets 521 of the third embodiment of flexible portion of material 502 are tapered to a central ridge 525 and a pair of aligned and overlapping openings 519 are formed in opposing sheets 521 to form handles where the flexible portion of material 502 is to be used as a carrier bag. A first channel 505 extends from the central ridge 525 along one tapered upper edge 520 and down along one lateral edge 522 of the first sheet 521 terminating at a first corner 507 of the flexible portion of material 502. A second channel 508 extends at an angle from the central ridge 525 adjacent to an edge of the opening 519 and subsequently in a straight line parallel to the lateral edges 506 along the first sheet 521 terminating at the bottom edge 523 of the flexible portion of material 502. A third channel 511 of the third embodiment of thread carrying arrangement 503 extends from the central ridge 525 and passes intermediate the other tapered edge 520 and the other side of the opening 519, the third channel 511 subsequently passing down along the first sheet 521 after passing below the opening 519 in a direction substantially parallel to the lateral edges 522 of the first sheet and terminating at the bottom edge 523 of the first sheet 521 where the thread 504 is fixed relative to the sheet 521. The location of the channels 515, 516 and 517 on the second sheet 522 is a mirror image of the first sheet. This embodiment uses six threads 504 in all and the channels are all located on the inside surfaces of the sheets 521, 522 of the flexible portion of material 502. A fold arrangement 541 is incorporated between the sheets 521 at or about the bottom edges 523 to provide a base for the bottom of the carrier bag.

Referring to FIG. 15, there is shown a fifth embodiment of thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 603. This embodiment has the container, not shown, mounted on a tab 614 in one corner of the substantially rectangular flexible portion of material 602. The container is a two part container clamped onto the flexible portion of material 602 with the recoil reel in alignment with an aperture 606. A first seam 610 extends from the position of the container along the back face of the flexible portion of material 602 at or about the upper edge 612 and partly back along the front face of the flexible portion of material 602. A second seam 615 extends from the position of the container along the front face of the flexible portion of material 602 below a handle 616 and partly back along the back face of the flexible portion of material 602. Another four seams 617 to 620 extend out from the location of the container alternately on the back and front face angularly spaced apart to be staggered and substantially evenly distributed across the surface area of the front and back faces of the flexible portion of material 602. Each of the seams carry a thread 604 which is fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 602. A deployment member 641 provided by a pull ring is mounted on a corner of the flexible portion of material 602 diagonally opposed to the location of the container. A fold arrangement 642 is incorporated between the sheets at or about the bottom edge to provide a base for the bottom of the carrier bag.

Referring to FIG. 16, there is shown a sixth embodiment of thread carrying arrangement indicated generally by the reference numeral 703. This embodiment has the container, not shown, mounted on a tab 714 in one corner of the substantially rectangular flexible portion of material 702. The container is a two part container clamped onto the flexible portion of material 702 with a recoil reel in alignment with the aperture 706. A first seam 710 extends from the position of the container along the back face of the flexible portion of material 702 at or about the upper edge 712 and back along the front face 714 above an aperture 709 terminating proximal to the location of the container. A second seam 715 extends from the position of the container along the front face of the flexible portion of material 702 below an aperture 709 and back along the back face of the flexible portion of material 702 terminating proximal to the location of the container. A third seam 717 extends from the position of the container along the back face of the flexible portion of material 702 diagonally along the flexible portion of material 702 and back along the front face 714 terminating proximal to the location of the container. A fourth seams 718 extend out from the location of the container along the front face 714 along a lateral edge 719 of the flexible portion of material 702 and back along the same lateral edge terminating proximal to the location of the container. Each of the seams carry a thread 704 which is fixed relative to the flexible portion of material 702. A deployment member 741 provided by a pull ring is mounted on a corner 721 of the flexible portion of material 702 diagonally opposed to the location of the container. A fold arrangement 742 is incorporated between the sheets at or about the bottom edges to provide a base for the bottom of the carrier bag.

Referring to the drawings and now to FIG. 20, there is shown a third embodiment of apparatus indicated generally by the reference numeral 51 having a container 56 with two parts 53. The parts 53 of the container 56 have locating members comprising a ridge and groove formation 54 along the mutually opposing walls 55 of the parts 53 of the container 56 and dowel pins 57. The two parts 53 of the container 56 clamp onto the flexible portion of material 602, 702 and the recoil reel 58 passes through the aperture 606, 706 in the flexible portion of material. The arrangement for moving the threads along the flexible portion of material 602, 702 is similar in this embodiment to the arrangements used in the first and second embodiments. Referring to FIG. 21, there is shown an arrangement 61 for coupling the threads to the recoil reel 9, 58, 112. The arrangement 61 has a recoil reel 58 with a slot 62 extending along the longitudinal axis of the recoil reel 58. A multiple thread engaging member 63 is formed with a number of tapered clamp members 64 for fitting into the slot 62 to engage a number of thread ends so as to fix them to the recoil reel 58. Alternatively, the threads may be fixed to the recoil reels 9, 58, 112 via bores through the shaft of the recoil reel 9, 58, 112. The recoil reels 9, 58, 112 have substantially cylindrical channels 18 with different diameters so that different lengths of thread can be reeled onto the recoil reels 9, 58, 112 in the same amount of time.

The features disclosed in the foregoing description or the following drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing a disclosed function, or a method or a process of attaining the disclosed result, as appropriate, may separately, or in any combination of such features be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof as defined in the appended claims.