Title:
METHOD FOR SEALING PACKAGES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of sealing packages having at least one pair of opposing flaps that are shortened or “shied.” with tape. The tape comprises two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area positioned there between having a line of weakness



Inventors:
Thomas, Jennifer Lynn (Belleville, CA)
Empey, David Martin (Belleville, CA)
Application Number:
12/752597
Publication Date:
10/06/2011
Filing Date:
04/01/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JALLOW, EYAMINDAE CHOSSAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for sealing a package with shortened flaps comprising the steps of: a) providing a package sealing machine having a package guide path and a rotary punch; b) providing a package comprising two opposing vertical side surfaces, each connected to a separate and opposing flap folded toward each other to provide a gap between their nearest edges; c) providing a tape from a tape source having two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area; d) moving the package along the package guide path such that the package contacts the tape and pulls the tape from the tape source; e) pulling the tape such that the tape moves through the rotary punch; f) forming a line of weakness in the tape as the tape is pulled through the rotary punch; and g) applying the tape to at least a portion of the pair of opposed flaps with a strip of adhesive adhered to each flap and the non-adhesive portion covering at least part of the gap.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the tape is applied using an application roller.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the line of weakness is formed using a rotary punch comprising a punch carrier and a die holder.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the line of weakness is formed using a punch carrier comprising one or more punches and a die holder comprising one or more dies.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the line of weakness is formed using one or more punches having a shape that is at least one of conical, cylindrical, or pyramidal.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the punch carrier and die holder form a line of weakness by producing at least one of perforations or depressions.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein two or more lines of weakness are formed.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the two or more lines of weakness are formed using a rotary punch comprising two or more punch carriers and two or more die holders.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein the two or more lines of weakness are formed using a rotary punch having two or more sets of punches and a die holder having two or more sets of dies.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein two or more lines of weakness are formed substantially parallel to one another.

11. A method for sealing a package with shortened flaps comprising the steps of: a) providing a tape from a tape source having two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area, wherein the non-adhesive area has a width; b) providing a package sealing machine having a package guide path and a rotary punch, the rotary punch comprising a punch carrier and a die holder, the die holder having a width that is equal to or lesser than the width of the tape non-adhesive area; c) providing a package wherein the package comprises two opposing vertical side surfaces, each connected to a separate and opposing flap folded toward each other to provide a gap between their nearest edges, d) moving the package along the package guide path such that the package contacts the tape and pulls the tape from the tape source; e) pulling the tape such that the tape moves through the rotary punch; f) forming a line of weakness in the tape as the tape is pulled through the rotary punch; and g) applying the tape to at least a portion of the pair of opposed flaps with a strip of adhesive adhered to each flap and the non-adhesive portion covering at least part of the gap.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the tape is applied using an application roller.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the line of weakness is formed using a rotary punch comprising a punch carrier and a die holder.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the line of weakness is formed using a punch carrier comprising one or more punches and a die holder comprising one or more dies.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the line of weakness is formed using one or more punches having a shape that is at least one of conical, cylindrical, or pyramidal.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein the punch carrier and die holder form a line of weakness by producing at least one of perforations or depressions.

17. The method of claim 11, wherein two or more lines of weakness are formed.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the two or more lines of weakness are formed using a rotary punch comprising two or more punch carriers and two or more die holders.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the two or more lines of weakness are formed using a rotary punch having two or more sets of punches and a die holder having two or more sets of dies.

20. The method of claim 11, wherein two or more lines of weakness are formed substantially parallel to one another.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method for sealing packages with shortened flaps using tape having adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area including one or more lines of weakness.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For transport from one location to another, products are often placed in packages. Each package may accommodate either a single product or multiple products, depending on the application. Although many types of packages and package materials are readily available on the market, one of the most common packages is a corrugated cardboard container or package.

A package is generally rectangular and comprises four contiguous vertical side surfaces and two pair of flaps, commonly known as the major and minor pairs of flaps, on both the top and bottom of the package. Each of the flaps is connected to one of the vertical side surfaces, such that when the pairs of major and minor flaps are folded toward each other and toward the center of the package, the edges of at least the major flaps meet near the center of the top or bottom of the package, effectively creating the top and bottom horizontal surfaces of the package and closing the package. The flaps on the package are typically sealed in place by glue or by pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. The tape is often applied in a “C-clip” configuration.

The C-clip is so named because a cross-section of the tape along the length of the tape as it is applied to a package is in the shape of the letter “C”. Specifically, a C-clip of tape is a continuous length of adhesive tape that is applied to a portion of one vertical side of a package, across the center of one of the horizontal surfaces of the package to seal the abutting major flaps together and finally to a portion of the opposite vertical side of the package. Moreover, the tape for a C-clip is typically wide enough to be applied along the abutting flaps such that both flaps of the outermost or major pairs of flaps on the top and bottom of the package are sealed by a single piece of tape. When the package is closed and sealed with a C-clip of adhesive tape, there are no substantial gaps to allow contaminants to reach the product or products enclosed in the package.

One problem associated with a package sealed with C-clips is that the person opening the package typically needs a sharp instrument to penetrate the tape and access the objects inside the package. In addition, a package may provide more protection than the manufacturer or supplier requires for their products. Moreover, because the price of a package is directly related to the quantity of raw materials (for example, corrugated cardboard) used in manufacturing the package, the cost of using a package may be unnecessarily high for those users who do not need as complete a protection for their products.

In response to these concerns, package makers produce a second type of package with shortened or “shied” pairs of major and minor flaps that do not meet each other when the package is in a closed condition. Instead, when the package is closed, there is a gap between both the major and minor pairs of flaps. Packages of this type use substantially less raw materials, which correspondingly reduces both the costs to produce the packages and ultimately reduces the amount of waste generated when disposing of the packages.

An alternative method for sealing packages with shied flaps is to apply two C-clips of package sealing tape to the major pair of flaps, with one C-clip applied on each flap of the pair. For example, it is known to apply two C-clips of tape on opposite sides of a gap between the major flaps from two separate tape sources, each mounted on a separate taping head provided on a package sealing machine. However, because the two C-clips of tape are not applied to cover the gap between the shied flaps, the products enclosed in the package are not protected from contaminants.

Another alternative method of sealing packages is to apply tape having lateral adhesive zones and a non-adhesive area positioned there between to the major pair of flaps. However, this tape is no easier to remove than standard tape having adhesive across the entire width, as the tape is flush with the vertical package surface, forcing a worker to open the package using a sharp instrument, which could potentially damage the products contained therein. In certain forms, tabs have been placed in the non-adhesive areas of the tapes, but tabs do not ensure separating the tape along its length, as the tab could tear off or run into one of the adhesive zones.

Therefore, there is a need for a method for producing easy to open sealed packages having a gap formed by shortened or “shied” pairs of major and minor flaps.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method for sealing a package with shortened flaps is provided. The method comprises the steps of providing a package sealing machine having a package guide path and a rotary punch; providing a package comprising two opposing vertical side surfaces, each connected to a separate and opposing flap folded toward each other to provide a gap between their nearest edges; providing a tape from a tape source having two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area; moving the package along the package guide path such that the package contacts the tape and pulls the tape from the tape source; pulling the tape such that the tape moves through the rotary punch; forming a line of weakness in the tape as the tape is pulled through the rotary punch; and applying the tape to at least a portion of the pair of opposed flaps with a strip of adhesive adhered to each flap and the non-adhesive portion covering at least part of the gap.

A method for sealing a package with shortened flaps is provided. The method comprises the steps of providing a tape from a tape source having two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area, wherein the non-adhesive area has a width; providing a package sealing machine having a package guide path and a rotary punch, the rotary punch comprising a punch carrier and a die holder, the die holder having a width that is equal to or lesser than the width of the tape non-adhesive area; providing a package wherein the package comprises two opposing vertical side surfaces, each connected to a separate and opposing flap folded toward each other to provide a gap between their nearest edges, moving the package along the package guide path such that the package contacts the tape and pulls the tape from the tape source; pulling the tape such that the tape moves through the rotary punch; forming a line of weakness in the tape as the tape is pulled through the rotary punch; and applying the tape to at least a portion of the pair of opposed flaps with a strip of adhesive adhered to each flap and the non-adhesive portion covering at least part of the gap.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of package sealing machine that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a package that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a package that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a tape that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a tape that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a tape that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a frontal view of a rotary punch that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section taken in the plane of line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a frontal view of a rotary punch that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a frontal view of a rotary punch that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a frontal view of a rotary punch that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a package that may be used in the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a package that may be used in the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a method of sealing packages with tape. The packages have at least one pair of opposing flaps that are shortened or “shied.” To seal the package and provide a cover for the gap created by the shortened flaps a tape is applied to the shortened flaps; wherein the tape comprises two or more adhesive strips and a non-adhesive area positioned there between. The non-adhesive area of the tape comprises at least one line of weakness. The method uses a tape source, such as a tape roll and applies the tape to the packages. After the tape leaves its source, but before the tape is applied to a package a line of weakness is formed in the tape.

FIG. 1 shows an embodiment for carrying out the method of the present invention, comprising a package sealing machine 50 for applying tape to packages. The machine components comprise a tape source 52 for supplying tape to be dispensed and a taping head 54 for applying tape to packages and which is supported relative to a base 56. The taping head 54, as shown, supports the tape source 52. As used herein, the term “tape” includes pressure-sensitive adhesive package sealing tapes such as package sealing tapes. However, other web materials that can be applied to packages are included. Tapes comprise a backing layer with a layer of adhesive coated to one side of the backing layer, which forms a tape having two surfaces—an underside adhesive surface and a top non-adhesive surface.

The package sealing machine 50 comprises the base 56 and an upper support 57 positioned relative to the base 56 by way of a strut mechanism 58. The upper support 57 may be vertically adjustably connected with the base 56 by the strut mechanism 58 which is conventionally vertically adjustable to accommodate different height packages. The upper support 57 supports the taping head 54 to which may be connected a tape support member 60. The tape support member 60 further supports the tape source 52, which is rotatably mounted by way of a hub 62, as is known in the art.

As shown in FIG. 1, a package guide path is defined along the base 56 by conveyors 64 and 66 which move a package over the rollers 68 comprising bed 70 and past the taping head 54 and, more specifically, to contact an application roller 71 and a buffing roller 72 of the taping head 54. The operation of such conveying mechanisms are well understood in the art and it is contemplated that other conveying means, whether automatic or manual, could be utilized as presently known or developed.

Also provided are means for defining a tape path, which includes a rotary punch 73 for forming one or more lines of weakness on the tape, mounted within the taping head 54, for guiding the tape from the tape source 52 through the taping head 54 and to the application roller 71. The manner of connection and operation of the application roller 71 and buffing roller 72 for applying tape is well known. The taping head 54 includes the rotary punch 73 which, with the application roll 71, define the tape path and which also assist in tension control of the tape. In FIG. 1 the taping head 54 is positioned directly above the package guide path for sealing the top of a package, however, another taping head 54, including all the components already described, such as the rotary punch 73, is typically provided in the bed 70, to provide tape to the bottom of a package as well. In addition, other various configurations and locations of taping heads and rollers are contemplated by the present invention, such as multiple taping heads located above the package guide path, below the package guide path, or both above and below the package guide path.

The package sealing machine 50 may be used to seal a package that is square in shape, but as shown in FIG. 2, a package 10 may be generally rectangular and comprise four contiguous vertical side surfaces 11, 12, 13, 14 and two pair of flaps, commonly known as the major pair of flaps 15A, 15B and minor pairs of flaps 16A, 16B on both the top and bottom of the package 10. Each of the flaps 15A, 15B, 16A, 16B is connected to one of the vertical side surfaces 11, 12, 13, 14 such that when the pairs of major 15A, 15B and minor flaps 16A, 16B are folded toward each other and toward the center of the package 10, the major flaps 15A, 15B form the top or bottom of the package 10 when folded down, effectively creating the top and bottom horizontal surfaces of the package 10 and close the package 10.

As shown in FIG. 3, a package 10 that can be sealed using the method of the present invention is designed and manufactured such that when the pairs of flaps 15A, 15B, 16A, 16B are folded toward each other, there is a substantial gap 20 intentionally provided between the nearest edges of each of the major 15A, 15B and minor pairs 16A, 16B of opposed flaps. Alternatively, it may be said that the pairs of flaps 15A, 15B, 16A, 16B are “shy” of contacting each other when the package 10 is in a closed position. The flaps 15A, 15B, 16A, 16B are therefore considered “shortened” or “shied” as compared to the flaps of other packages. The present invention includes packages having shortened flaps along with packages that use a combination of pairs of flaps that are shortened with pairs of flaps that are not shortened.

In order to close the top of the package (to go from FIG. 2 to FIG. 3), for example, a first pair of flaps, the minor pair of flaps 16A, 16B, are typically folded toward each other. Next, a second pair of flaps, the major pair of flaps 15A, 15B, are folded toward each other. In certain embodiments, the major pair of flaps effectively comprises the top and bottom horizontal surfaces of the package. Although the typical package is described above, other package configurations are contemplated to be used in connection with the present invention, such as packages with more or less than four sides and packages with only one pair of flaps on the top and bottom of the package and the like.

A package can be any suitable size or shape. In certain embodiments, the package can be made of inflexible materials, such as, for example, cardboard, paperboard, cartonboard, chipboard, plywood, SBS, metal, plastic, paper, card stock, fabric, ceramic, polymer, natural or synthetic fibers, webs, mesh, screen, wood, composite, mixtures or combinations thereof, or any other suitable material. Alternatively, or in addition, the package can be made of a flexible material, such as, blown or cast film in a blend of low density polyethylene and linear low density polyethylene, metallocenes, ethylene vinyl acetate, surlyn, polyethylene terephthalate, biaxally oriented polypropylene, nylon, combinations thereof, or any other suitable material.

FIG. 4 shows a tape source 52, which in certain embodiments comprises a tape 30 circumferentially wound onto the outside surface of a cylindrical core 42. The tape 30 comprises laterally spaced longitudinal adhesive strips 31A and 31B, where in certain embodiments each of the adhesive strips 31A and 31B are on opposite edges of the tape width 32, and the area between and adjacent to the adhesive strips 31A and 31B is a non-adhesive area 33 including one or more lines of weakness 40 that extend along the length 36 of the tape 30. In certain embodiments an adhesive strip may have a width of from about 2 cm to about 5 cm. In certain embodiments a non-adhesive area can have a width of from about 2 cm to about 8 cm. In certain embodiments a tape can have a width of from about 5 cm to about 18 cm; in other embodiments a tape can have a width of from about 8 cm to about 16 cm. The width of each of the adhesive strips 31A and 31B may be the same, or there may be a difference between the width of the adhesive strip 31A and the width of the adhesive strip 31B.

The tape used in the method of the present invention can have one or more lines of weakness. A line of weakness can be located at any suitable location on the tape. As used herein, the term “line of weakness” refers to one or more weakness points arranged in any pattern suitable to facilitate the separation of a tape by providing a weakened tear point in a tape. The pattern can extend in one or more directions, for example the pattern can be straight, bent, angled, curved, irregular or combinations thereof. One or more of the individual weakness points can overlap to form a line of weakness. In addition, or alternatively, one or more of the individual weakness points can be spaced apart from one another to form a line of weakness. As used herein, the term “weakness point” refers to a region of the tape where the thickness of the tape is substantially less than the thickness of the tape surrounding the region. In certain embodiments, an individual weakness point can be weaker than the surrounding area, for example about 50% weaker, about 75% weaker, or about 100% weaker. Weakness points can be formed in any suitable manner, such as by depressions or perforations.

The term “depression” refers to a weakness point having a thickness less than the thickness of the surrounding tape but greater than zero. The depressions can extend into the tape from either the adhesive or non-adhesive surface or both of the tape. In certain embodiments, individual depressions can overlap each other when forming a line of weakness, so that a substantially continuous line of weakness formed by depressions is generated, such as a score line or groove. Additionally, the term “perforation” refers to one or more weakness points, wherein at least a portion of the region of a tape forming the weakness point can have a thickness of about zero.

In certain embodiments the tape may comprise more than two adhesive strips, more than one non-adhesive area, or both, laterally spaced across the width of a tape. For example, the tape may comprise a non-adhesive area in the central area of a tape, one longitudinal adhesive strip on each side of the non-adhesive area, and two additional longitudinal non-adhesive strips, each located on one of the edges of the tape and adjacent to one of the longitudinal adhesive strips. Other combinations of adjacent alternating adhesive and non-adhesive strips are also contemplated by the present invention.

The tape used in the present invention may comprise a backing layer with a layer of adhesive coated to one side of the backing layer. The backing layer may be comprised of paper, web reinforced paper, film, or combinations thereof. If the backing layer comprises film, the backing layer film in certain embodiments may include a tape backing layer comprising one or more of: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester (such as polyethylene terepthalate (PET)), biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), copolymers of propylene and ethylene, and copolymers of ethylene and olefins having four or more carbon atoms.

Examples of adhesives that may be used with the tape of the present invention include compositions such as polyvinyl ether; diene-containing rubber such as natural rubber, polyisoprene, and polybutadiene; styrene-butadiene rubber; polychloroprene; butyl rubber; butadiene-acrylonitrile polymer; thermoplastic elastomer block copolymers such as styrene-isoprene (SI) and styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) block copolymers, styrene-butadiene (SB) and styrene-butadiene-styrene polymers (SBS), and ethylene/propylene and ethylene-butylene-diene polymers such as styrene-ethylene/propylene-styrene (SEPS) and styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene (SEBS); poly-alpha-olefin; amorphous polyolefin; silicone; ethylene-containing copolymer such as ethylene vinyl acetate, ethyl ethyl acrylate, and ethyl methacrylate; polyurethane; polyamide; epoxy; polyvinylpyrrolidone and vinylpyrrolidone copolymers; polyesters; and mixtures of the above. The use of many of these compositions to give specific characteristics to the adhesives may require cross-linking or curing by methods well known in the art. Additionally, the adhesives can contain additives such as tackifiers, plasticizers, antioxidants, stabilizers, curatives, and solvents.

In addition, in certain embodiments, a low adhesion top non-adhesive surface is provided on the other side of the backing layer so that the tape separates more easily when unwound from a tape roll. Such coatings and treatments are well known, and any can be used in accordance with the present invention if they are otherwise suitable for use in the desired tape construction.

FIG. 5, which is a cross-sectional view from section line 5-5 of FIG. 4, shows in certain embodiments, the tape 30 used in the present invention comprises a backing layer 35, with two adhesive strips 31A, 31B coated along the opposite side portions of the underside adhesive surface of the backing layer 35. The backing layer 35 may be paper, film, or other known web materials suitable for use as a backing layer. Further, the adhesive strips 31A, 31B may be equal widths and may be in the form of an adhesive transfer tape, a hot melt adhesive, or the like. Strip coating techniques are well-known and suitable for making adhesive strips. The result is a tape construction wherein the non-adhesive intermediate area is made by simply not coating adhesive over that area of the tape. In certain embodiments, the adhesive strips can have unequal widths.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of a tape 30 that can be used in the present invention in a view similar to that of FIG. 5. In this embodiment, the tape 30 comprises a backing layer 35 coated across its width with a layer of adhesive 37. The central area of the tape 30 is further coated with a deadening layer 38, which substantially decreases or “deadens” the adhesive strength of the central area of the tape 30 adhesive layer 37, forming the non-adhesive area 33. Suitable materials for this deadening layer 38 include web or sheet materials such as films, papers, foils or treatments, such as powders, applied to the adhesive that render it non-adhesive.

In certain embodiments, a tape of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6, comprises a transparent tape material that allows viewing of the products enclosed in a package. However, in certain instances it may be undesirable to allow light into the package or to allow viewing of the products in the package; in these instances an opaque tape material may be used. In order for the transparent tape material to be rendered transparent, both the backing layer and the coatings applied to the backing layer must be transparent. However, in order for the opaque tape material to be opaque, only one of the backing layer or coatings applied to the backing tape need be opaque.

The application of tape to packages by the package sealing machine 50 in accordance with the method of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIG. 1. Initially, the tape source 52, comprising the tape 30, is rotatably mounted to the hub 62 of the tape support member 60, as shown in FIG. 1. The tape 30 is threaded through the taping head 54 along the tape path to the application roller 71, in a manner that allows application of the tape to a package. In certain embodiments, the application roller assembly 71 comprises a single application roller that is at least as wide as the tape 30, and the tape path is defined such that the entire width of the tape 30 will be in contact with the single application roller. If the application roller assembly 71 comprises two application rollers provided side-by-side, each of the application rollers is spaced axially from one another to correspond with the location of the adhesive strips 31A and 31B of the tape 30.

As shown in FIG. 1, a package having shortened flaps is supplied to the package sealing machine 50 in the direction of arrow A, with flaps folded down. The taping head 54 guides the tape 30 from the tape source 52 to the application roller 71, which then presents the adhesive side of tape 30 toward the front vertical surface 11 of the package 10. Before the tape 30 is applied to a package 10 using the application roller 71, a rotary punch 73 positioned within the taping head 54 provides the tape 10 with one or more lines of weakness 40. An example of a rotary punch 73 that may be used in the present invention is shown in FIG. 7, and includes one or more punch carriers 84 and one or more rotary die holders 82 mounted on parallel horizontal shafts 86, 88 which are rotatably mounted between the substantially parallel vertical sides 54A, 54B of the taping head 54. Dies 94 are mounted on the die holder 82 at evenly spaced intervals around the die holder 82. Likewise, punches 96 are mounted on a punch carrier 84 at evenly spaced intervals around the punch carrier 84 corresponding to the spacings between the dies 94 on the die holders 82. The punches 96 may be of any suitable shape to provide the desired line of weakness 40, for example the punches 96 could be conical, cylindrical, pyramidal (polygonal base and three or more triangular faces that meet at a common point), or combinations thereof.

As shown in FIG. 8 the punch carrier 84 and die holder 82 are rotatably mounted on parallel horizontal shafts 86, 88. The tape 30 is pulled through the rotary punch 73 by the movement of a package, the tape 30 rotates the punch carrier 84 and die holder 82 in opposite directions about their respective parallel horizontal shafts 86, 88. The die holder 82 and punch carrier 84 rotate in opposite directions so each punch 96 is intermittently aligned with one of the dies 94. Depending upon the adjustment of the rotary punch 73 and the shape of the punches 36, the punches 36 are cooperable with the dies 34 to perforate or form depressions in the tape 30 passing between the die holders 82 and the punch carriers 84. The spacing of the punches and dies can be modified depending on the number of desired perforations or depressions in a line of weakness. Likewise the height of the punches and depth of the dies can be modified to produce the desired perforations or depressions on a line of weakness.

While FIG. 7 shows a die holder and punch carrier having a single row of punches and dies other embodiments are possible, for example the punches and dies could be arranged in one or more patterns such as waves or an interlocking zipper like pattern. Further, in certain embodiments, to produce a tape having more than one line of weakness there may be more than one die holder 82 or punch carrier 84, as shown in FIG. 9, in addition as shown in FIG. 10 a punch carrier 84 may have more than one set punches 96 and a die holder 82 may have more than one set of dies 94.

One of the difficulties when working with a material, such as tape, having an adhesive component is the adherence of the adhesive to the machine applying the material, which in the present invention is the package sealing machine. The adhesive contacting one or more components of the package sealing machine can have several negative effects, such as the adhesive sticking to and building up in the machine components or the adhesive being substantially reduced or removed from a tape. In the present invention, as shown in FIG. 1 the adhesive surface may come into contact with the die holder 82 as the tape passes through the taping head 54 on its way to the application roller 71. However, in certain embodiments, as shown in FIG. 11 the width 83 of the die holder 82 is substantially the same as or less than the width 39 of the non-adhesive area 33 of the tape 30. By having the width 83 of die holder 82 similar to that of the non-adhesive area 33 of the tape 30 contact between the adhesive strips 31A, 31B of the tape 30 and the die holder 82 is minimized, which decreases the amount of potential adhesive build up on the die holder 82, reducing down-time for maintenance and cleaning, and also results in a tape having better adherence due to diminished adhesive loss.

As the conveyors 64 and 66 move the package 10 over the bed 70 along the package guide path, the front vertical surface 11 of the package 10 contacts the tape 30. The application roller 71 then presses the leading edge of the tape 30 against the package 10 with the force necessary to adhere both adhesive strips 31A and 31B of the tape 30 to the package 10. While the package 10 continues to move along the package guide path, the tape 30 continues to be pulled by the taping head 54 from the tape source 52 and the application roller 71 is driven upward by the package 10 along its support guide path within the taping head 54 and vertically along the front vertical surface 11 of the package 10 toward the top horizontal surface of the package 10. As the tape 30 is pulled it passes through the rotary punch 73, which forms one or more lines of weakness 40 on the tape 30. Further, after the application roller 71 applies the tape 30, the buffing roller 72, which may be pivotally connected to the taping head 54 and interconnected by a link mechanism to the application roller support as conventionally known, rolls over the newly applied tape 30 to smooth the adhesive strips 31A and 31B onto the surface of the package 10.

The tape 30 is typically applied to only a portion of the front vertical surface 11 of the package 10. After the tape 30 is applied to a portion of the front vertical surface 11 of the package 10 and the application roller 71 has moved to the corner of the front vertical surface 11 and the top horizontal surface of the package 10, the tape 30 is then applied to the top horizontal surface of the package 10 by way of the application roller 71. After the tape 30 has been applied across the entire top horizontal surface and to a portion of the rear vertical surface 13 of the package 10, a conventional cutting means may sever the tape. When tape is applied in this manner, it is commonly said that a “C-clip” of tape has been applied to a package, since the shape of the tape as applied to the package resembles the letter “C”. In certain other embodiments, after the tape 30 has been applied to at least a portion of the top horizontal surface of the package 10, a conventional cutting means may sever the tape. If the tape 30 is severed before the tape is applied to the entire length of the top horizontal surface of the package 10, it is commonly said that an “L-clip” of tape has been applied to the package, since the shape of the tape as applied to the package resembles the capital letter “L”.

Although the above description refers specifically to sequentially applying tape to the front vertical surface, the top horizontal surface, and the rear vertical surface of a package, it is understood that this description can also be useful for operations where tape is applied to other vertical surfaces of the package, to the bottom horizontal surface of the package, or where the tape is applied in a different sequence than that described above. In addition, it is contemplated that the package sealing machine may apply either L-clips, C-clips, a combination of L-clips and C-clips, or straight sections of tape to only one surface of the package that is made up of a single section or is made up of folded flaps. It is further contemplated that multiple taping operations may be occurring simultaneously on the same package.

In addition, it should be noted in contrast to the present invention of forming one or more lines of weakness in a tape during the sealing process; a process of sealing a package using tape that has a preformed line of weakness can lead to the tape separating during its application to packages. For example, if the tape source is a tape roll, as the tape is removed from the roll the tape can separate, such that only the tape on one side of the roll may be pulled off leaving the tape on the other half of the roll in place. By forming a line of weakness after the tape is spun off the roll removes or reduces the tendency of a tape to tear, but still provides a package with a tape having a line of weakness.

Referring now to FIG. 12, a perspective view of a package 10 sealed with a C-clip of tape 30 in accordance with the method of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the package 10, as in FIG. 3, comprises a pair of major flaps 15A, 15B that are shortened, a gap 20 defined as the distance between the nearest edges of the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B and a tape 30 having a line of weakness 40. The tape 30, as applied to the package 10, comprises a non-adhesive area 33 that may be substantially equal in width to the width of the gap 20 between the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B; such that the distance between the nearest edges of the adhesive strips 31A, 31B on the tape 30 is substantially equal to the distance between the nearest edges of the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B. Further, when the tape 30 is adhered to the package 10, the longitudinal centerline of the tape 30 may correspond with the centerline of the gap between the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B. Therefore, when the tape 30 is applied to the package 10, the adhesive strips 31A, 31B are adhered to the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B in a position where the nearest edges of the adhesive strips 31A, 31B correspond with, or nearly correspond with, the nearest edges of the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B, so the product inside the package 10 is not exposed to adhesive and therefore cannot adhere to the tape 30. However, in certain other embodiments a tape 30 could be provided offset so that the centerline of the gap 20 between the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B does not correspond with the longitudinal centerline of the tape 30. In still other embodiments, the tape 30 may be applied to a package 10 with shortened flaps where the distance between the adhesive strips 31A, 31B is either larger or smaller than the gap 20 between the nearest edges of the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B. If the gap between the nearest edges of the adhesive strips 31A, 31B is smaller than the gap 20 between the nearest edges of the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B, a portion of the adhesive strips 31A, 31B may be adhered to the pair of major flaps 15A, 15B and to the exposed portion of a pair of minor flaps 16A, 16B of the package 10.

The tape used in the present invention can have one or more lines of weakness. A line of weakness can be located at any suitable location on the tape. In certain embodiments, as shown in FIG. 12 a line of weakness 40 is positioned in the non-adhesive area 33 of the tape and extends along the length 36 of the tape 30, which in this instance begins on one of the vertical side surfaces 11, continues across the major flaps 15A, 15B and down the opposite vertical side surface 13. Further, in certain embodiments a line of weakness 40, as shown in FIG. 12, may be centrally located on the tape 30, being a substantially equal distance from either edge of the tape 30. Also, as shown in FIG. 12, a line of weakness 40 may extend in a direction substantially parallel to one or both edges of the tape 30. While in FIG. 12 the line of weakness 40 is shown as a straight line, a line of weakness can be provided in any suitable pattern.

FIG. 13 shows a perspective view of another package 10 sealed with a C-clip of tape 30 in accordance with the method of the present invention. The package in this embodiment has a tape 30 with two lines of weakness 40A, 40B extending substantially parallel to each other along the length 36 of the tape 30, which could have been formed using the embodiments of the present invention shown if FIGS. 9 and 10. The substantially parallel lines of weakness 40A, 40B can form an easy open strip system that a user could access by first separating a section of tape 41 located between the substantially parallel lines of weakness 40A, 40B along an edge of the tape 30. Unlike prior art tabs having no guidance to prevent the tab from ending before the tape was completely or substantially separated along its length, the strip opening formed by the substantially parallel lines of weakness 40A, 40B is guided along the length 36 of the tape 30 by the substantially parallel lines of weakness 40A, 40B. Further the strip opening system frees a user from having to place their finger between the underside of the tape and the package to tear a line of weakness; allowing a user to tear a line of weakness from a position elevated above the package, thereby increasing leverage and ease of opening.

The dimensions and values disclosed herein are not to be understood as being strictly limited to the exact numerical values recited. Instead, unless otherwise specified, each such dimension is intended to mean both the recited value and a functionally equivalent range surrounding that value. For example, a dimension disclosed as “40 mm” is intended to mean “about 40 mm.”

Every document cited herein, including any cross referenced or related patent or application, is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety unless expressly excluded or otherwise limited. The citation of any document is not an admission that it is prior art with respect to any invention disclosed or claimed herein or that it alone, or in any combination with any other reference or references, teaches, suggests or discloses any such invention. Further, to the extent that any meaning or definition of a term in this document conflicts with any meaning or definition of the same term in a document incorporated by reference, the meaning or definition assigned to that term in this document shall govern.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.