Title:
RETENTION PACKAGING STRUCTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Packaging structures are disclosed that are adapted for insertion into an outer container and/or that are foldable to form a container. The packaging structures include a panel having an article support portion having a support surface. A flexible film overlies the support portion and is secured to the support portion, so as to lie substantially adjacent the support surface. At least one access opening is defined by a region where the film is not secured to the support portion and through which an article may be inserted between the flexible film and the support portion. Insertion of such an article causes the flexible film to stretch, exerting a force on the article for holding it against the support portion and preferably resisting lateral shifting of the article from the desired location between the flexible film and the support surface.



Inventors:
Leroy, Matthew D. (Bourbonnais, IL, US)
Lofgren, Jason C. (Chicago, IL, US)
Marino, Michael F. (Lombard, IL, US)
Application Number:
14/018576
Publication Date:
03/06/2014
Filing Date:
09/05/2013
Assignee:
ADE, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D75/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ORTIZ, RAFAEL ALFREDO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COOK ALEX LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A packaging structure adapted for insertion into an outer container, comprising: a panel having an article support portion having a support surface free of fold lines; a flexible film overlying the support portion and secured to the support portion whereby the flexible film lies substantially adjacent to the support surface; and at least one access opening for inserting an article between the flexible film and the support surface, the access opening being defined by a region where the flexible film is not secured to the support surface, whereby insertion of an article through the access opening and between the flexible film and support surface tensions the flexible film so that the flexible film secures the article against the support surface.

2. The packaging structure of claim 1 wherein the panel has opposed end edges and opposed side edges and the support portion extends substantially fully between the end edges and side edges.

3. The packaging structure of claim 1 wherein the panel has a first pair of end edges and the support surface has a first pair of end edges defined by fold lines in the panel that are spaced from the end edges of the panel.

4. The packaging structure of claim 1 wherein the support surface has a pair of opposed end edges and a pair of opposed side edges and the flexible film is secured to the support surface generally along the pair of side edges and is free from securement to the support surface along at least a portion of at least one end edge.

5. The packaging structure of claim 1 wherein the flexible film is secured to the support surface so as to define a plurality of article-receiving regions between the flexible film and the support surface, and an access opening is associated with each region to permit insertion of an article between the flexible film and the support surface in each region.

6. A packaging structure having fold lines by which the structure is adapted to be folded to form a container, comprising: a panel having an article support portion having a support surface; a flexible film overlying the support portion and secured to the support portion whereby the flexible film lies substantially adjacent to the support surface; at least one access opening for inserting an article between the flexible film and the support surface, the access opening being defined by a region where the flexible film is not secured to the support surface, wherein insertion of an article through the access opening and between the flexible film and support surface tensions the flexible film so that the flexible film secures the article against the support surface; and wherein the flexible film is not secured to any portion of the packaging structure that is folded away from the support surface in a manner that would increase the tension in the flexible film.

7. The packaging structure of claim 6 wherein the panel has opposed end edges and opposed side edges and the support portion is disposed between the end edges and side edges.

8. The packaging structure of claim 6 wherein the panel has a first pair of end edges and the support surface has a first pair of end edges defined by fold lines in the panel that are spaced from the end edges of the panel.

9. The packaging structure of claim 6 wherein the support surface has a pair of opposed end edges and a pair of opposed side edges and the flexible film is secured to the support surface generally along the pair of side edges and is free from securement to the support surface along at least a portion of at least one end edge.

10. The packaging structure of claim 6 wherein the flexible film is secured to the support surface so as to define a plurality of article-receiving regions between the flexible film and the support surface, and an access opening is associated with each region to permit insertion of an article between the flexible film and the support surface in each region.

11. The packaging structure of claim 6 wherein the support portion includes a relief that provides reduced tension in the flexible film at the unsecured edge of the flexible film while inserting an article between the flexible film and the support portion.

12. The packaging structure of claim 11 wherein relief is formed by one or more creases in the support portion.

13. A packaging structure having fold lines by which the structure is adapted to be folded to form a container, comprising: a panel having an article support portion having a support surface free of fold lines; a flexible film overlying the support portion and secured to the support portion whereby the flexible film lies substantially adjacent to the support surface; and at least one access opening for inserting an article between the flexible film and the support surface, the access opening being defined by a region where the flexible film is not secured to the support surface, whereby insertion of an article through the access opening and between the flexible film and support surface tensions the flexible film so that the flexible film secures the article against the support surface.

14. The packaging structure of claim 13 wherein the flexible film is secured to a plurality of support surfaces with each support surface being opposed to at least one edge of the flexible film that is not secured to the respective support surface.

15. The packaging structure of claim 13 wherein the flexible film is secured to a plurality of support surfaces along at least two edges of the flexible film.

16. The packaging structure of claim 15 wherein the flexible film is secured to a plurality of support surfaces defining a plurality of regions with each region adapted to receive at least one article between the flexible film and the support surface and the regions being separated by at least two thicknesses of the flexible film when the packaging structure is folded to form a container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/696,885, filed Sep. 5, 2012, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND FIELD OF DISCLOSURE

The present subject matter relates generally to packaging for supporting articles during shipping or handling. More particularly, the present subject matter relates to retention packaging structures or apparatus adapted for insertion into an outer container and/or which includes an outer container.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

Retention packaging is commonly used for shipping a variety of articles or products, such as cell phones, laptop computers, books, and a whole variety of other articles. In retention packaging, the article is typically captured between a flexible film, such as plastic film, and a support panel of fiber board or other suitable material. In retention packaging, the film is often attached to foldable side or end panels so that folding of the panels pulls the film into increased tension over the article. While such packaging structures work satisfactorily, they are often complex, require substantial amounts of fiber board and flexible film material, and may be relatively expensive to assemble. Accordingly, there is continuing need for improved and low cost packaging structures that provide sufficient protection for the article contained while providing ease of use with a reduced cost.

SUMMARY

There are several aspects of the present subject matter that may be embodied separately or together in various packages or packaging structures. These aspects may be employed alone or in combination with other aspects of the subject matter described herein and the description of these aspects together is not intended to be preclude use of these aspects separately or the claiming of such aspects separately or on different combinations as set forth in claims appended hereto.

In one aspect, a packaging structure is provided that is adapted for insertion into an outer container. The packaging structure includes a panel having an article support portion having a support surface free of fold lines. A flexible film overlies the support portion and is secured to the support portion, so that it lies substantially adjacent to the support surface before an article is inserted or loaded. At least one access opening is defined by a region where the film is not secured to the support surface to allow insertion of an article through the access opening and between the film and the support surface. Consequently, insertion of an article through the access opening between the film and the support surface tensions the film so that the film secures the article against the support surface for shipping and/or handling.

In accordance with another aspect, the panel has opposed end edges and opposed side edges, and the support portion extends substantially fully between the end edges and the side edges. In another aspect, the panel has a first pair of opposed end or side edges and the support portion has a first pair of opposed end or side edges defined by fold lines in the panel that are spaced from the opposed end or side edges, respectively, of the panel.

In accordance with another aspect, the support portion has a pair of opposed end edges and a pair of opposed side edges and the film is secured to the support surface generally along the pair of side edges and is free from securement to the support surface along at least a portion of at least one end edge.

In accordance with another aspect, the film is secured to the support portion so as to define a plurality of article-receiving regions between the film and the support surface, and an access opening is associated with each region to permit insertion of an article between the film and the support surface in each region.

In accordance with a further aspect, a packaging structure is provided having fold lines by which the structure is adapted to be folded to form a container. The packaging structure includes a panel having an article support portion having a support surface. A flexible film overlies the support portion and is secured to the support portion wherein the flexible film lies substantially adjacent to the support surface. At least one access opening for inserting an article between the flexible film and the support surface is provided, with the access opening being defined by a region where the flexible film is not secured to the support surface, and wherein insertion of an article through the access opening and between the flexible film and the support surface tensions the flexible film so that the flexible film secures the article against the support surface.

In accordance with another aspect, a packaging structure is provided having fold lines by which the structure is adapted to be folded to form a container. The packaging structure includes a panel having an article support portion having a support surface that is free of fold lines. A flexible film overlies the support portion and is secured to the support portion wherein the flexible film lies substantially adjacent to the support surface. At least one access opening for inserting an article between the flexible film and the support surface is provided, with the access opening being defined by a region where the flexible film is not secured to the support surface, and wherein insertion of an article through the access opening and between the flexible film and the support surface tensions the flexible film so that the flexible film secures the article against the support surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In describing the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawing figures wherein like parts have like reference numerals, and wherein:

FIG. 1a is an exploded perspective view of a packaging structure including a panel free of fold lines and a flexible film overlying the panel.

FIG. 1b is a perspective view showing an assembled packaging structure of FIG. 1a including a panel and flexible film, illustrating an article being inserted through an access opening between the flexible film and panel.

FIG. 1c is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 1a, showing the packaging structure with an article inserted between the flexible film and panel, and with the film tensioned so as to retain the article between the film and the panel.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an assembled packaging structure having a panel free of fold lines and a flexible film overlying the panel wherein the film is secured to the panel so as to define a plurality of article receiving regions between the film and the panel, and showing insertion of articles through access openings associated with each region and into respective spaces between the film and panel.

FIG. 3a is a perspective view of a packaging structure including a panel having a support portion free of fold lines and a flexible film overlying on the support portion, with an article being inserted through an access opening between the film and support portion. In this embodiment, the panel includes opposed foldable side flaps and end flaps that extend beyond the support portion.

FIG. 3b is a perspective view of the packaging structure FIG. 3a showing the article fully inserted between the film and the support portion of the panel, and with the film tensioned to hold the article in place and against the support surface of the support portion.

FIG. 3c is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 3b, with the end panels and side panels folded to illustrate a configuration for insertion of the packaging structure into an outer container, so as to support the article on the support portion between an upper surface of the outer container and a lower surface of the outer container.

FIG. 4a is a perspective view showing an assembled packaging structure in a planar position, with the packaging structure having fold lines and being adapted to be foldable to form a container and having two panels that are free of fold lines and a flexible film overlying the two panels wherein the film is secured to the two panels so as to define a plurality of article receiving regions between the film and the panels.

FIG. 4b is a perspective view showing the packaging structure of FIG. 4a, showing the packaging structure in a planar position and with insertion of articles through access openings associated with each region and into spaces between the film and the respective panels.

FIG. 4c is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 4a, showing the packaging structure in a planar position, with articles inserted between the flexible film and the panels, and with the film tensioned so as to retain the articles between the film and the panels.

FIG. 4d is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 4c, with a first panel that is securing an article being folded upward and the outer flaps of the side panels that are attached to the second panel that is securing an article being folded upward, as initial steps in folding the packaging structure into a closed container.

FIG. 4e is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 4d, with the side panels that are attached to the second panel that is securing an article being further folded to form the side walls, as further steps in folding the packaging structure into a closed container.

FIG. 4f is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 4e, with the first panel that is securing an article being folded over to face downward and an opposed panel being folded upward and toward the first panel that is securing an article, as further steps in folding the packaging structure into a closed container.

FIG. 4g is a perspective view of the packaging structure of FIG. 4f, with the opposed panel being folded over to a closed position with a tab being inserted to complete closure of the container formed by the packaging structure.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing an assembled packaging structure that is similar to the packaging structure of FIGS. 4a-4g in a planar position and having two panels and a flexible film overlying the two panels, wherein the film is secured to the two panels so as to define a plurality of article receiving regions between the film and the panels but showing the first panel for securing an article having a relief to permit easier insertion of an article.

It should be understood that the drawings are not to scale. It also should be understood that the claimed subject matter is not limited to the example embodiments illustrated.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1a illustrates a first packaging structure, generally at 20 that includes a panel 22 and a flexible film 24. Panel 22 may be of any suitable materials such as fiber board, corrugated and non-corrugated. As illustrated in FIG. 1a, the panel has opposed parallel side edges 26 and opposed parallel end edges 28. The panel is free of any fold lines, whether formed by compressed lines, slitted lines or other lines of weakness in the panel that allow or accommodate folding or bending along a particular line. “Fold line” as used herein is intended to include any of those configurations.

The flexible film may be made of any suitable materials such as polyethylene, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride or any other suitable material which preferably is resilient and stretchable. As illustrated in FIG. 1a, the flexible film 24 also includes opposed parallel side edges 30 and opposed parallel end edges 32. Although illustrated in FIG. 1a in a generally rectangular configuration, the actual shape of the panel and flexible film may be varied as the particular packaging requirements demand. For example, they could be square, circular, triangular or of other suitable shape, depending on the packaging demands and the shape of the outer container into which they will be placed.

As illustrated in FIG. 1a, the flexible film 24 may be substantially the same size as the panel 22. The panel 22 has an upwardly facing support portion or surface 34 over which the film is attached. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1a, the flexible film 24 and the panel 22 are of essentially the same size, and the end edges and the side edges of each are proximate and may be substantially co-terminating. In this embodiment, the support portion or surface 34 of the panel 22 comprises essentially the entire upper surface of the panel, and extends fully between the end edges 28 and side edges 26 of the panel.

In this embodiment the film is attached to the support portion or surface 34 of panel 22 by means such as glue, staples or stitching, but glue may be preferred for production efficiency and low cost. As illustrated, glue is applied to the support portion or surface in a strip 36 generally along and parallel to the opposed side edges 26 of the panel and along one of the end edges 28. The flexible film 24 is brought into contact with the support portion or surface and attached thereto along the glue lines 36. If desired, the film may be in a stretched condition when it is applied to the support portion or surface or may be in a generally relaxed, unstretched and unstressed condition. In either case the flexible film overlies the support surface and lies closely or immediately adjacent to the support surface in the pre-load configuration, before insertion of an article between them.

For inserting an article between the film and support surface or portion, a region of the film, such as one end edge 32 of the film, remains unattached to the panel. Accordingly, as best seen in FIG. 1b, an article, which is generally depicted in FIG. 1b as a small box (but may be of any desired shape), may be inserted by lifting the free unattached edge of the film away from the support surface or portion and inserting the article through the access opening thus provided and into the region between the film and support portion or surface. The size of the article causes the flexible film to stretch, and the resiliency of the film to exert a downward force on the article, preferably also folding at least slightly around the corners and edges of the article so as to hold the article from shifting laterally within the space between the film and support surface, as illustrated more clearly in FIG. 1c. As thus assembled, the packaging structure, with inserted article, may be placed in a larger outer container such as a box, envelope or other suitable container for shipping, with sufficient assurance that the article is safely secured within the packaging structure between the flexible film 24 and the support portion or surface 34 of panel 22.

FIG. 2 shows an alternative embodiment of a second packaging structure, generally at 20′ in which the flexible film 24 is secured to the support portion or surface 34 free of fold lines so as to define a plurality of article receiving regions between the film and support surface. More specifically, as illustrated in FIG. 2, flexible film 24 is secured to the support portion or surface 34 of panel 22 by lines of securement, such as glue lines 36, or lines of stitching or stapling. The illustrated glue lines 36 extend along and parallel to opposed end edges 28 of the support portion or surface 34 and along and parallel to one of the side edges 26 of the panel 22 and support portion or surface 34 and intermediate glue line 36 is provided between the two end edges 28, equally dividing the film into two separate article receiving compartments. As apparent in FIG. 2, each compartment has an access opening defined by an unattached region between the film and support portion or surface along one of the end edges 32. Of course, the compartments do not have to be the same size, as illustrated in FIG. 2. Nor do they need to be configured for receiving an article of the same size or configuration. Otherwise, the packaging structure illustrated in FIG. 2 functions similarly to that illustrated in FIG. 1b, whereby the film is attached to a support portion or surface 34 that is free of fold lines so that it normally lies closely adjacent to the support surface 34. The flexible film may be in a substantially relaxed and unstressed condition when it is secured to the support panel or surface or may be pre-stressed or pre-tensioned. Thus, when a three dimensional article such as the articles 44 illustrated in FIG. 2 are inserted, the flexible film must stretch, exerting a downward force on the article to hold it against the support portion or surface and also to slightly fold around the edges and corners of each article to hold it in place to resist lateral shifting.

FIG. 3a illustrates another embodiment of the present subject matter in a third packaging structure, generally at 45, which includes a panel 46 that is dimensionally larger than a flexible film 48. As can be seen in FIG. 3a, the panel 46 extends between opposed end edges 50 and opposed side edges 52. Fold lines 54 are parallel and spaced from the end edges 50 and define foldable end flaps 56. Further, in this embodiment parallel fold lines 58 are spaced from side edges 52 and define foldable side flaps 60. Although illustrated with both end flaps and side flaps, the present subject matter should be understood to include a packaging structure that only includes end flaps or side flaps if the packaging requirements would accommodate such a configuration. As shown in FIG. 3a, the fold lines 54 and 58 also define and circumscribe an inner support portion or surface 62 that is free of fold lines or other lines of weakness intended to accommodate a folding of the support portion or surface 62. As illustrated, the support portion or surface 62 generally is rectangular although the actual shape of the panel 46 and flexible film 48 may be varied as the particular packaging requirements demand.

Flexible film 48 is of substantially the same size and shape as the support portion or surface 62 in this illustrated embodiment and is secured to the support portion or surface. The lines of securement, such as glue lines or lines of stitching or stapling 64, extend parallel to and adjacent to the side fold lines 58. As is apparent from FIG. 3a, the flexible film 48 does not extend beyond the fold lines 54, 58 of the panel and is not secured to the end or side flaps 56, 60. The functioning of the film to hold the article 44 results from the attached condition of the flexible film 48 and, in contrast to prior more complex structures, does not result from tension caused by a folding of the end or side flaps to stretch the film. As described in the prior embodiments, the flexible film 48 is secured to the support portion or surface 62 in a substantially relaxed and unstressed condition or, if desired, may be pre-tensioned to provide additional retention force on the article 44 after it is inserted between the film 48 and the support portion or surface 62. As may be seen in FIG. 3a the article 44 may be inserted between the flexible film 48 and support portion or surface 62 by slightly raising a free end edge 66 of the flexible film 48 away from the support portion or surface 62 to allow insertion of the article 44 therebetween. In FIG. 3a, both end edges 66 of the flexible film are substantially unattached to the support surface or portion, providing two access openings at opposite ends of the film 48 for the user to use to insert the article between the film and support portion or surface. Of course, one of the end edges 66 may be sealed to the support portion or surface, leaving only a single access opening, if desired. However two access openings at opposite ends of the panel may provide increased flexibility and ease of use for the user.

FIG. 3b shows the embodiment of FIG. 3a with the article 44 fully inserted between the film 48 and the support portion or surface 62. As described earlier, insertion of the three dimensional article 44 results in stretching and increased tensioning of the flexible film 48, such as resilient plastic film. As a consequence, the film exerts downward force on the article, holding it against the support portion or surface and preferably folds slightly around the corners and edges of the article to resist lateral shifting of the article between the film 48 and support portion or surface 62.

FIG. 3c illustrates the packaging structure of FIGS. 3a and 3b with the end and side flaps 56, 60 folded as they would be for insertion into an outer container or box. As may be seen in FIG. 3c, side flaps 60 are folded downwardly and end flaps 56 are folded upwardly. When inserted into an outer container or box, this configuration supports the article 44 in a suspended position spaced from the bottom and the top of the outer container, better protecting the article against damage during shipping or handling.

FIG. 4a illustrates a further embodiment of the present subject matter in a fourth packaging structure, generally at 70, which includes a panel 72 that is dimensionally larger than a flexible film 74. The embodiment shown in FIGS. 4a-4g provides a packaging structure that is adapted to be folded into a container, while also providing for retaining one or more articles between at least one support portion or surface and the flexible film 74.

As can be seen in FIG. 4a, relative to a central support portion or surface 76, the panel 72 extends between opposed end edges 78 and opposed side edges 80. First fold lines 82 are parallel and spaced from the end edges 78 and second fold lines 84 are parallel and spaced between the end edges 78 and the first fold lines 82, and define foldable end flaps 86 and ends 88 of the packaging structure 70 when folded to form a container. Further, in this embodiment parallel first fold lines 90 are spaced from side edges 80 and second fold lines 92 are parallel and spaced between the side edges 80 and the first fold lines 90, and define foldable side flaps 94 and sides 96 of the packaging structure 70 when folded to form a container. The flexible film 74 is of substantially the same size and shape as the support portion or surface 76 and the foldable end flap 86 and the end 88 spanning therebetween. The end flap 86 also presents a support portion or surface 100.

Although illustrated with two sets of fold lines in each direction from the central support portion or surface 76, the present subject matter with respect to panels foldable into containers should be understood to include a packaging structure that includes at least one set of end flaps and side flaps, but may include a plurality of end flaps and side flaps if the packaging requirements would accommodate such a configuration. As shown in FIG. 4a, the fold lines 82 and 90 also define and circumscribe the inner support portion or surface 76 that is free of fold lines or other lines of weakness intended to accommodate a folding of the support portion or surface 76. As illustrated, the support portion or surface 76 and the support portion or surface 100 generally are rectangular, although the actual shape of these portions and of the panel 72 may be varied as the particular packaging requirements demand.

Flexible film 74 is secured to the support portion or surface 76 and to the support portion or surface 100 an end flap 86 in this illustrated embodiment and the lines of securement 98, such as glue lines or ones of stitching or stapling, extend parallel to and adjacent to the side fold lines 90 and to the first and second fold lines 82, 84. As will be apparent from FIGS. 4a-4g, with respect to the support portion or surface 76, the flexible film 74 does not extend beyond the fold lines 90 toward the side edges 80 or beyond fold lines where there would be folding away from the support portion or surface 76. Similarly apparent from FIGS. 4a-4g, with respect to at least the one end flap 86 presenting the support portion or surface 100, the flexible film 74 does not extend beyond fold lines in the direction toward side edges of the end flap 86 or beyond fold ones where there would be folding away from the support portion or surface. In the region of the end 88, the flexible film 74 is not secured to the panel 72.

The functioning of the flexible film 74 to hold an article 44 results from the attached condition of the flexible film 74 and, in contrast to prior more complex structures, does not result from tension caused by a folding of end or side flaps to stretch the film. As described in the prior embodiments, the flexible film 74 is secured to the support portion or surface 76, 100 in a substantially relaxed and unstressed condition or, if desired, may be pre-tensioned to provide additional retention force on the article 44 after it is inserted between the film 74 and the support portion or surface 76, 100.

As may be seen in FIG. 4b articles 44 may be inserted between the flexible film 74 and support portion or surface 76, 100 by slightly raising a free end edge 102 of the flexible film 74 away from the support portion or surface 76, 100 to allow insertion of the article 44 therebetween. In FIG. 4a, both end edges 102 of the flexible film 74 are substantially unattached to the support surface or portion 76, 100, providing two access openings at opposite ends of the film 74 for the user to use to insert one or more articles 44 between the film and support portion or surface 76, 100. Of course, the flexible film 74 may be secured only along the sides, as with the example embodiment of FIGS. 3a-3c because in the present configuration, the panel 72 will be folded into a closed container and the ends 88 would serve to stop an article 44 from sliding entirely beyond the film 76 at either end of a support portion or surface 76, 100. It will be understood that the flexible film 74 could be secured at one end, as well, leaving only a single access opening, if desired. However, this would make insertion of multiple articles more difficult and having two access openings at opposite ends of the panel generally may provide increased flexibility and ease of use for the user.

FIG. 4c shows the embodiment of FIG. 4a with articles 44 fully inserted between the film 74 and the support portion or surface 76, 100. As described earlier, insertion of the three dimensional article 44 results in stretching and increased tensioning of the flexible film 74, such as resilient plastic film. As a consequence, the film exerts downward force on the article, holding it against the support portion or surface and preferably folds slightly around the corners and edges of the article to resist lateral shifting of the article between the film 74 and support portion or surface 76, 100.

FIG. 4d illustrates the packaging structure of FIGS. 4a-4c in an intermediate step of the process of folding the panel 72 into the configuration of a closed container. In this intermediate position, the end flap 86 that provides the support portion or surface 100 is folded upward and the side flaps 94 are folded upward to be perpendicular to the sides 96 and the support portion or surface 76.

FIG. 4e illustrates the packaging structure of FIGS. 4a-4d in a further intermediate step of the process of folding the panel 72 into the configuration of a closed container. In this further intermediate position, the sides 96 are folded upward to be perpendicular to support portion or surface 76, which results in the previously folded side flaps 94 now being parallel to support portion or surface 76. In addition, extensions 96 that extend from the ends of the sides 96 have been folded about first fold lines 82, so as to extend inward to be perpendicular to the support portion or surface 76 and to provide backing support for the ends 88 of the container.

FIG. 4f illustrates the packaging structure of FIGS. 4a-4e in yet a further intermediate step of the process of folding the panel 72 into the configuration of a dosed container. In this further intermediate position, the end 88 that connects the support portion or surface 76 to the end flap 86 that provides the support portion or surface 100 is folded upward to be perpendicular to the support portion or surface 76 and adjacent to the extensions 96′. The end flap 86 that provides the support portion or surface 100 also is folded toward a position parallel with the support portion or surface 76, until it engages the side flaps 94.

In the position shown in FIG. 4f, three additional features are illustrated and their use can be appreciated when comparing FIGS. 4f and 4g. First, the end flap 86 of the panel 72 includes a notch 104, such as in a semicircular shape, at its end 78. The notch 104 provides a convenient location to use a finger to hook or grasp the end flap 86, particularly when it is in the position shown in FIG. 4f and a user wishes to reverse the folding of the end flap 86 to move it to an open position, such as may be see in the previous figures. Second, a slot 106 is shown along the second fold line 84 that connects the end flap 86 to the end 88. The slot 106 includes an upward facing, elongated opening 108 along the end of the end flap 86 and a notch 110 that is in communication with the elongated opening 108 and extends downward into the end 88, for example, in a semicircular shape. The slot 106 is configured to receive the third feature, which is a tab 112 that extends from the opposite end of the panel 72, from the end 78 of the end flap 86 that is not connected to the flexible film 74. The tab 112 may be shaped and sized to permit insertion downward into the slot 106, as desired. Indeed, it will be appreciated that the tab 112, slot 106 and notch 104 may be of various shapes and sizes. For instance, the tab 112 may be shaped and sized to be folded toward the end flap 86 and to have some resistance to inadvertently backing out of the inserted position, such as by having a leading end of the tab 112 that is slightly wider than the elongated opening 108 of the slot 106. In any event, the notch 110 also provides a convenient point of access to the tab 112 for a user's finger when seeking to open the container from the closed position shown in FIG. 4g.

Turning to FIG. 5, a fifth packaging structure, generally at 70′, is illustrated that is identical to the embodiment shown and described with respect to FIGS. 4a-4g, except that the end flap 86 that included the support portion and surface 100 has been modified. In the packaging structure 70′ shown in FIG. 5, all of the numbering of the prior embodiment will be used and the corresponding description shall apply, except with respect to the end flap 86′ that includes the modification to the support portion and surface 100′. In particular, the end flap 86′ includes a relief 114 that is formed, for example, by two creases 116. The relief 114 is shown in a triangular configuration that is broader at the end 78 of the end flap 86′, opposite the unsecured edge 102 of the flexible film 74.

This configuration provides a relatively wide area having an increased distance between the flexible film 74 and the support portion or surface 100′ at the end 78 of the end flap 86′, so as to reduce the resistance to insertion for the article 44. The relief 114 then narrows along the length of the support portion or surface 100′. This is not to say that the flexible film 74 necessarily would be slackened at the unsecured edge 102, but in any event, the flexible film 74 would still have to be stretched upon insertion of an article 44 and therefore would exert some holding force as the article 44 is inserted more fully into the space between the support portion or surface 100′ and the flexible film 74. It will be appreciated that the relief could be formed by using one or more slits, alone or in combination with folds, or in other suitable ways and could have many configurations or shapes, as desired or needed to accommodate particular articles within particular containers. Also, this does not present a package that uses folding of portions of a panel, such as end or side flaps, to tension a flexible film, which was noted as being coma on in the prior art.

Although described in terms of preferred and alternative embodiments, the present subject matter may be employed in other configurations and with other materials without departing from the principles of the subject matter as described above and as set forth in the following claims.