(19)
(11)EP 2 750 988 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
18.04.2018 Bulletin 2018/16

(21)Application number: 12754185.2

(22)Date of filing:  27.08.2012
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B65D 71/50(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2012/052435
(87)International publication number:
WO 2013/032972 (07.03.2013 Gazette  2013/10)

(54)

CONTAINER CARRIER

BEHÄLTERTRÄGER

PORTE-CONTENEURS


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 29.08.2011 US 201161528557 P
29.06.2012 US 201213537225

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.07.2014 Bulletin 2014/28

(73)Proprietor: Illinois Tool Works Inc.
Glenview, IL 60025 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • OLSEN, Robert C.
    Itasca, Illinois 60143 (US)

(74)Representative: HGF Limited 
Merchant House 30 Cloth Market
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EE
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EE (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 0 997 389
US-A- 5 806 667
EP-A1- 1 207 105
US-A1- 2006 118 432
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] This invention relates to a container carrier for unitizing a plurality of containers.

    [0002] Conventional container carriers are often used to unitize a plurality of similarity sized containers, such as cans, bottles, jars and boxes and/or similar containers that require unitization. Flexible plastic ring carriers are one such conventional container carrier.

    [0003] Flexible plastic ring carriers having a plurality of container receiving apertures that each engage a corresponding container may be used to unitize groups of four, six, eight, twelve or other suitable groups of containers into a convenient multipackage. Flexible ring carriers may include a handle that extends upwardly from the carrier to enable a consumer to carry the package from the top (called a "top lift carrier") or outwardly from a side of the carrier to enable a consumer to carry the package from the side (called a "side lift carrier").

    [0004] Typically, longer carriers tend to sag at the ends when lifted, resulting in a sloppy appearance. As such, a need arises for a carrier capable of carrying a large number of containers yet which results in an aesthetically pleasing package to the
    consumer.

    [0005] US 5806667 discloses a carrier for unifying a plurality of containers within a plurality of corresponding container receiving apertures, the carrier comprising two rows forming a plurality of container receiving aperture pairs extending from centre pairs to outer pairs, wherein each container receiving aperture in the outer pairs is longer than each container receiving aperture in centre pairs, and a handle extending from between the two rows.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0006] The present invention is directed to a flexible carrier in accordance with claim 1.

    [0007] Also described is a flexible carrier for packaging
    containers that includes an arrangement of container receiving apertures that are longer as they progress from a center area of the carrier to outer edges of the carrier.

    [0008] According to preferred embodiments of this invention, each flexible carrier preferably includes two rows of container receiving apertures, each for receiving a container, to form a package. The resulting carrier is configured to result in a tight, unitized bricklike package following application of the carrier to a corresponding array of containers.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0009] The above-mentioned and other features and objects of this invention will be better understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings wherein:

    Fig. 1 is a side elevational view of a container carrier according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

    Fig. 2 is a side elevational view of a container carrier according to one preferred embodiment of this invention.

    Fig. 3 is a side elevational view of a container carrier according to one example not forming part of this invention.


    DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



    [0010] Figs. 1-2 show flexible carrier 10 for unitizing twelve or more containers and a resulting unitized package. Although Figs. 1-2 illustrate various structures for flexible carrier 10 of the invention, the illustrations are exemplary, and the invention is not limited to the flexible carriers 10 or packages shown. For example, flexible carrier 10 may be alternatively configured and used to unitize fourteen or any other desired number of containers.

    [0011] Containers are preferably cans, however, bottles or any other commonly unitized container may be used with flexible carrier 10 according to this invention. The containers are preferably, though not necessarily, like-sized within a single flexible carrier 10.

    [0012] Each flexible carrier 10 preferably includes a single layer of flexible sheet 20 having a width and length defining therein a plurality of container receiving apertures 25, each for receiving a container. The plurality of container receiving apertures 25 are preferably arranged in longitudinal rows and longitudinal ranks so as to form an array of container receiving apertures 25, such as two rows by six ranks for a twelve container multipackage as shown in Figs. 1 and 2 or two rows by five ranks for a ten container multipackage as shown in Fig. 3. Container receiving apertures 25 are preferably elongated in a longitudinal direction of flexible carrier 10.

    [0013] As shown in Figs. 1-3, two parallel rows of container receiving apertures 25 are preferably formed within flexible sheet 20. As such, one row of container receiving apertures 25 is preferably formed along each side of the carrier 10. Container receiving apertures 25 are preferably formed in a geometry that results in a tight unitization of containers without excess play and/or sliding between and among containers and flexible carrier 10. Such a result is difficult when carrier 10 is elongated for eight or more containers as described herein.

    [0014] As described above, container carrier 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a series of interconnecting oblique webs 28 that define the plurality of container receiving apertures 25. Webs 28 are stretchable around container during application and recoverable around container following application.

    [0015] As described above, the plurality of container receiving apertures 25 are preferably arranged in transverse pairs. As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, at least two rows forming a plurality of container receiving aperture pairs extend across carrier 10. In particular, carrier 10 preferably includes center pairs 30 in a center area of carrier 10. As shown in Fig. 1, two center pairs 30 are formed central within the six pairs of container receiving apertures 25. Intermediate pairs 35 are formed outward of center pairs 30. Finally, outer pairs 40 are formed at each outer edge of carrier 10, outward of intermediate pairs 35.

    [0016] As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, each container receiving aperture 25 in the outer pairs 40 is longer than each container receiving aperture 25 in the intermediate pairs 35 which is longer than each container receiving aperture 25 in the center pairs 30. For example, center pairs 30 may include a length (measured along a longitudinal axis of the carrier) of approximately 55.96 mm (2.203"), intermediate pairs 35 may include a length approximately 1.27 mm (.050") longer than the center pairs 30 and outer pairs 40 may include a length approximately 4.19 mm (.165") longer than the center pairs 30. As a result, the container receiving apertures 25 are progressively longer than an adjacent container receiving aperture 25 from a center to outer edges of the carrier 10.

    [0017] According to one preferred embodiment shown in Fig. 1, a lip 65 is formed along a longitudinal periphery of the carrier 10. Preferably, the lip 65 is formed in an area of the center pairs 30 of container receiving apertures 25. More specifically, the lip 65 is formed precisely at an outer corner of one container receiving aperture 25 in each center pair 30 to provide a greater central bandwidth 45. A corresponding ridge 68 is preferably formed along handle 50 and, during the manufacturing process, several adjacent lanes of carriers 10 may be connected between lip 65 and ridge 68.

    [0018] As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, a first distance 85 between center pairs 30 of container receiving apertures 25 is the same or shorter than a second distance 90 between center pairs 30 and intermediate pairs 35 of container receiving apertures 25. Further, a third distance 95 between intermediate pairs 35 of container receiving apertures and outer pairs 40 of container receiving apertures is longer than the second distance 90.

    [0019] As shown in Figs. 1-2, according to one preferred embodiment of this invention, handle 50 is formed along one row of container receiving apertures 25 along a periphery of plastic sheet 20. Specifically, as shown in Fig. 1, handle 50 is connected along a side of the row of container receiving apertures 25. Handle 50 may be integrally formed with flexible sheet 20 or may be separately incorporated with flexible sheet 20.

    [0020] Handle 50 may comprise one or more elongated apertures 55 positioned along the outer periphery of handle 50 or may comprise a similar configuration that provides an ample area for a consumer to grasp by inserting his hand through and still maintain the purpose and integrity of package.

    [0021] As shown in Fig. 1, a handle 50 extends from a longitudinal edge of carrier 10. As shown in Fig. 1, handle 50 is attached at four sections along the longitudinal edge of carrier 10. Specifically, handle 50 is attached adjacent the intermediate pairs 35 of container receiving apertures 25. As a result of the attachment in this manner, an elongated package such as two by six or two by five is maintained in a solid bricklike package and not prone to allowing end containers to sag when carried. As best shown in Figs. 1 and 2, a pair of struts 70 or a single strut connect handle 50 with the rows of container receiving apertures 25.

    [0022] A package resulting from flexible carrier 10 includes a plurality of unitized containers. Flexible carriers 10 are generally applied to containers by stretching flexible sheet 20 surrounding container receiving apertures 25 around container, and requiring the stretched carrier 10 to recover, thereby providing a tight engagement.

    [0023] While in the foregoing specification this invention has been described in relation to certain preferred embodiments thereof, and many details have been set forth for purpose of illustration, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that flexible carrier 10 is susceptible to additional embodiments and that certain of the details described herein can be varied considerably without departing from the basic principles of the invention as claimed.


    Claims

    1. A carrier (10) for unitizing a plurality of containers within a plurality of corresponding container receiving apertures (25), the carrier comprising:

    two rows forming a plurality of container receiving aperture pairs extending from center pairs (30) to intermediate pairs (35) to outer pairs (40), wherein each container receiving aperture (25) in the outer pairs (40) is longer than each container receiving aperture (25) in intermediate pairs (35) which is longer than each container receiving aperture (25) in center pairs (30); and

    a handle (50) extending from adjacent only one row of the at least two rows.


     
    2. The carrier of Claim 1 further comprising a plurality of struts (70) formed between the handle and the only one row.
     
    3. The carrier of Claim 1 further comprising a lip (65) formed along a longitudinal periphery of the carrier opposite the handle (50), the lip (65) formed in an area of the center pairs (30) of container receiving apertures (25).
     
    4. The carrier of Claim 1 further comprising a first distance (85) between center pairs (30) of container receiving apertures (25) which is the same or shorter than a second distance (90) between center pairs (30) and intermediate pairs (35) of container receiving apertures (25).
     
    5. The carrier of Claim 1 further comprising a third distance (95) between intermediate pairs (35) of container receiving apertures (25) and outer pairs (40) of container receiving apertures (25) which is longer than the second distance (90).
     
    6. The carrier of any preceding claim, wherein the at least two rows of container receiving apertures (25) are each formed in six ranks.
     
    7. The carrier of any preceding claim, wherein the at least two rows of container receiving apertures (25) are parallel with one another.
     
    8. The carrier of any preceding claim, wherein
    the container receiving apertures (25) are progressively longer than an adjacent container receiving aperture (25) from centre to outer edges of the carrier (10).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Träger (10) zum Großgebindepacken einer Vielzahl von Behältern in eine Vielzahl von entsprechenden Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25), wobei der Träger umfasst:

    mindestens zwei Reihen, die eine Vielzahl von Behälteraufnahmeöffnungspaaren bilden, die sich von Mittenpaaren (30) zu Zwischenpaaren (35) zu Außenpaaren (40) erstrecken, wobei jede Behälteraufnahmeöffnung (25) in den Außenpaaren (40) länger ist als jede Behälteraufnahmeöffnung (25) in Zwischenpaaren (35), die länger als jede Behälteraufnahmeöffnung (25) in Mittenpaaren (30) ist; und

    einen Griff (50), der sich von neben nur einer Reihe der mindestens zwei Reihen erstreckt.


     
    2. Träger nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine Vielzahl von Streben (70), die zwischen dem Griff und der nur einen Reihe gebildet ist.
     
    3. Träger nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine Lippe (65), die entlang eines längsgerichteten Umfangs des Trägers (50) gebildet ist, wobei die Lippe (65) in einem Bereich der Mittenpaare (30) der Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) gebildet ist.
     
    4. Träger nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend einen ersten Abstand (85) zwischen Mittenpaaren (30) der Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25), der der gleiche wie ein zweiter Abstand (90) zwischen Mittenpaaren (30) und Zwischenpaaren (35) von Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) oder kürzer als dieser ist.
     
    5. Träger nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend einen dritten Abstand (95) zwischen Zwischenpaaren (35) der Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) und Außenpaaren (40) der Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25), welcher länger als der zweite Abstand (90) ist.
     
    6. Träger nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die mindestens zwei Reihen von Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) jeweils in sechs Rängen gebildet sind.
     
    7. Träger nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die mindestens zwei Reihen von Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) parallel zueinander sind.
     
    8. Träger nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Behälteraufnahmeöffnungen (25) progressiv länger als eine benachbarte Behälteraufnahmeöffnung (25) von der Mitte zu den Außenrändern des Trägers (10) sind.
     


    Revendications

    1. Porteur (10) pour unitariser une pluralité de récipients à l'intérieur d'une pluralité d'ouvertures de réception de récipient correspondantes (25), le porteur comprenant:

    deux rangées formant une pluralité de paires d'ouvertures de réception de récipient qui s'étendent à partir de paires centrales (30) jusqu'à des paires intermédiaires (35) et jusqu'à des paires extérieures (40), dans lequel chaque ouverture de réception de récipient (25) dans les paires extérieures (40) est plus longue que chaque ouverture de réception de récipient dans des paires intermédiaires (35) qui est plus longue que chaque ouverture de réception (25) de récipient (25) dans des paires centrales (30); et

    une poignée (50) qui s'étend à partir du voisinage d'une seule première rangée desdites au moins deux rangées.


     
    2. Porteur selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une pluralité d'entretoises (70) formées entre la poignée et ladite une seule première rangée.
     
    3. Porteur selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une lèvre (65) formée le long d'une périphérie longitudinale du porteur opposée à la poignée (50), la lèvre (65) étant formée dans une région des paires centrales (30) d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25).
     
    4. Porteur selon la revendication 1, présentant en outre une première distance (85) entre des paires centrales (30) d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) qui est identique à ou plus courte qu'une deuxième distance (90) entre des paires centrales (30) et des paires intermédiaires (35) d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25).
     
    5. Porteur selon la revendication 1, présentant en outre une troisième distance (95) entre des paires intermédiaires (35) d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) et des paires extérieures (40) d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) qui est plus longue que la deuxième distance (90).
     
    6. Porteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel lesdites au moins deux rangées d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) sont chacune formées en six rangs.
     
    7. Porteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel lesdites au moins deux rangées d'ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) sont parallèles les unes aux autres.
     
    8. Porteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les ouvertures de réception de récipient (25) sont progressivement plus longues qu'une ouverture de réception de récipient adjacente (25) en partant du centre jusqu'aux bords extérieurs du porteur (10).
     




    Drawing














    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description