Patent application title: COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINER
Mauricio D. Cavalcante (Atlanta, GA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D536FI
Class name: Collapsible along supplemental fold line two opposed sidewalls fold inwardly and downwardly two other opposed sidewalls fold outwardly and downwardly
Publication date: 2009-08-20
Patent application number: 20090206149
A container includes a plurality of walls extending upward from a base. At
least one support is movable between a retracted position and a support
position. At least one magnet urges the support into one of the retracted
position and the support position.
1. A container comprising:a base;a plurality of walls extending upward
from the base, the plurality of walls including a first wall and a second
wall;a support mounted to the first wall and movable relative to the
first wall between a retracted position and a support position; andat
least one magnet on at least one of: the first wall, the second wall and
the support; the at least one magnet urging the support toward one of the
retracted position and the support position.
2. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet urges the support toward the support position.
3. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet is on the first wall.
4. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet is on the second wall.
5. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet is on the support.
6. The container of claim 1 wherein the plurality of walls are collapsible onto the base.
7. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet is a magnetized portion of the at least one of: the first wall, the second wall and the support.
8. The container of claim 1 wherein the support is partially supported on the second wall in the support position.
9. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet includes a first magnet on the support and a second magnet on the first wall.
10. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one magnet includes a first magnet on the support and a second magnet on the second wall.
11. A method for operating a container including the steps of:a) moving a support between a support position in which another container could be supported thereon and a retracted position, wherein the support extends into a mouth of the container in the support position;b) urging the support contrary to a magnetic field during said step a); andc) releasing the support after said step b) to permit the support to be moved by the magnetic field toward one of the support position and the retracted position.
12. The method of claim 11 further including the step of collapsing a plurality of walls of the container onto a base of the container.
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No.
61/029,393, filed Feb. 18, 2008.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to collapsible crates and more particularly to a collapsible crate with support members for supporting another container thereon.
Collapsible crates are well known. Four walls each connected via a hinge to a base are selectively movable about the hinge between a use position, in which the wall is generally perpendicular to the base, and a collapsed position onto the base. Various latch mechanisms have been provided to connect adjacent walls at the corner to selectively lock the crate in the use position.
Some collapsible crates also include retractable supports so that another container can be supported thereon. One such crate includes end walls each having a support that is partially supported on the adjacent walls when in the support position.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a collapsible container having a plurality of walls collapsible onto the base. At least one wall has a support pivotably mounted by a hinge below an upper end thereof. The support is pivotable between a support position where it can support another container thereon and a retracted position against the wall. In the support position, the lateral ends of the support are supported on the long walls. At least one magnet is provided in either one of the walls or the support (or both) to urge the support toward the support position. For example, like poles of magnets in the wall and in the support will permit the support to be forced into the retracted position, such as when the wall is collapsed onto the base or when moved by automated handling equipment, and will return the support to the support position when the wall is upright and the support is released by automated handling equipment.
In the particular embodiment shown, the supports are formed on short end walls of the container, such that the supports and end walls can be collapsed onto the base and the long side walls can be pivoted onto the end walls. Alternatively, the supports could be formed on the long walls (or on equally-sized walls).
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 1 in a collapsed position.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of one end of one of the side walls of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of one end of one of the supports of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a rear perspective view of the end of the support of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is an interior perspective view of the container of FIG. 1 with the support in the support position.
FIG. 7 is an interior perspective view of the container of FIG. 1 with the support in the retracted position.
FIG. 8 is an interior view, with a sidewall broken away, showing another container supported on the support of FIG. 6.
FIG. 9 is an interior view of an alternate container.
FIG. 10 illustrates the container of FIG. 9 with the support in the retracted position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container 10. The container 10 includes a base 12, upstanding side walls 14 (or long walls) and upstanding end walls 18 (or short walls). The side walls 14 and end walls 18 are pivotably connected along long and short edges of the base 12, respectively.
Each end wall 18 has a support 20. The support 20 is pivotably mounted at its lower edge to a position spaced below an upper edge of the end wall 18. One of the supports 20 in FIG. 1 is shown pivoted to a support position, where it projects into the interior of the container 10 and where it can support another container stacked thereon. The supports 20 each include a tab 21 projecting from each side into the adjacent side wall 14. The end walls 18 each include a lip 25 protruding inwardly from the uppermost edge above the support 20.
The end walls 18 each include magnets 27 that are polarized like adjacent magnets 29 in the supports 20. The magnets 27, 29 are aligned such that they urge the supports 20 away from the end walls 18 into the support position. The magnets 27, 29 could be separate magnets attached to, or insert molded with the end walls 18 and supports 20. Alternatively, the magnets 27, 29 could be electromagnets, or magnetized portions of the end walls 18 and supports 20, if magnetic additives such as metal flakes, powder or fibers were added to the plastic of which the end walls 18 and supports 20 are molded. Although the supports 20 are urged toward the support position, they can still be forced into the retracted position by automated handling equipment or when the end walls 18 are moved the collapsed position on the base 12, as shown in FIG. 2.
Referring again to FIG. 1, the interiors of the side walls 14 each include an upper frame portion 22 protruding into the container 10. A curved channel 24 is formed through each upper frame portion 22 adjacent the end wall 18. The interior of each side wall 14 further includes a lower frame portion 26 having a channel 28 formed therethrough below each curved channel 24. A recess 30 is defined between the upper frame portion 22 and the lower frame portion 26. The base 12 includes a pair of side upstanding portions 32 to which the side walls 14 are pivotably attached. Each side upstanding portion 32 includes a channel 34 formed on an interior thereof, below each channel 28. The channels 24, 28 and 34 are aligned with one another and with the tabs 21 on the supports 20, so that the end walls 18 can be pivoted to the collapsed position prior to the side walls 14 being collapsed, such that the side walls 14 are collapsed onto the end walls 18, as shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 3 illustrates one end of one of the side walls 14. The other end would be similar, as would the other side wall 14. Each end of the side wall 14 includes a latch 36. At the top of the curved channel 24 is a rail 38 spaced inwardly into the container 10. The rail 38 includes a step 40 having a substantially vertical leading face 42. The leading face 42 forms a stop that prevents the support 20 (FIG. 1) from being knocked back into the retracted position when another container is stacked thereon. The step 40 requires the support 20 to be lifted prior to being retracted, although this can happen easily when there is no weight on the support 20.
FIG. 3 also shows three alternate magnets 27a-c that could be used instead of, or in addition to, the magnets 27 in FIG. 1 in the end wall 18. The side wall 14 includes an inwardly projecting member 48 to which a magnet 27a could be secured. Magnet 27b illustrates another alternate location on the side wall 14 which could be used to urge the support 20 (FIG. 1) into the support position. Magnet 27c illustrates an alternate location where the magnet 27c would be opposite in polarity to an appropriately placed magnet in the support 20, such that the magnet 27c would attract the support 20 into the support position. Again, any of the magnets 27a-c could be attached, integrally molded or formed from magnetized portions of the side wall 14. Placing the magnets 27a-c in the side wall 14 would mean that they are not adjacent the support 20 when the walls 14, 18 are in the collapsed position (FIG. 2).
FIGS. 4 and 5 are front and rear perspective views, respectively, of one of the supports 20. The support 20 includes a flange 46 projecting downwardly from the tab 21. Hinge pins 60 are integrally molded with the support 20 in this example. Multiple alternate locations for the magnets 29, 29a-b, are shown. The magnets 29, 29a-b would be used with corresponding magnets 27, 27a-b respectively on the end wall 18 or side wall 14. Magnet 29b on the support would also be used with the magnet 27c on the side wall 14. The magnets 29, 29a-b could be attached, insert-molded or magnetized portions of magnetic filler. The magnets 27, 27a-c, 29, 29a-b would be symmetrically placed on the other end of the end wall 18 and on the other end wall 18. More than one set of paired magnets could also be used at several of the disclosed (or other) locations.
In any arrangement, the magnets urge the support 20 toward the support position as shown in FIG. 6, but permit the support 20 to be forced into the retracted position as shown in FIG. 7, such as when the wall 18 is collapsed onto the base 12 or when moved by automated handling equipment, and will return the support 20 to the support position when the wall 18 is upright and the support 20 is not restrained by automated handling equipment. Alternatively, the magnets could be used to retain the support 20 in the retracted position.
Referring to FIG. 8, when the support 20 is in the support position, another container 100 can be supported on the support 20.
FIGS. 9 and 10 show another container 110 with a different support 120 configuration. FIG. 9 shows a bottom perspective view of the interior corner of the container 110. The end wall 118 includes a plurality of openings 124 formed in a plurality of brackets 126. The support 120 includes a plurality of arms 128 (one shown in this view), each having a hinge pin 130 formed at a lower end thereof. The hinge pins 130 are received in the brackets 126 and are captured in the openings 124 of the brackets 126. The hinge pins 130 are pivotable and slidable within the openings 124 in the brackets 126. The hinge pins 130 slide to the upper end of the openings 124 when the support 120 is in the support position 120. The arms 128 extend at an angle inwardly and upwardly from the hinge pins 130, such that the support 120 extends further into the interior of the container 110. The end of the support 120 includes a tab 132 projected downwardly behind a rail 134 adjacent the channel 122. The tab 132 interlocks with the rail 134 to prevent the side wall 114 from deflecting outward such that the support 120 would slip off the side wall 114 when a load is placed on the support 120. A magnet 129 in the support 120 repels a corresponding magnet 127 in the end wall 118. The other locations and configurations of magnets described above could also be used.
FIG. 10 illustrates the support 120 moved to the retracted position within the end wall 118. The side wall 114 includes an upper rib 50 providing an upper contact surface that contacts the support 120 as the support 120 is moved toward the retracted position. As the support 120 is moved toward the retracted position, the arm 128 is pivoted outwardly and the support 120 contacts the upper rib 150, which causes the hinge pin 130 to slide downward within the vertically elongated openings 124. As the support is moved into the retracted position, the magnets 127, 129 repel one another, so the support 20 will return to the support position automatically upon release. Any of the magnet locations disclosed above, or other locations, could be used in this embodiment as well.
In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes and jurisprudence, exemplary configurations described above are considered to represent a preferred embodiment of the invention. However, it should be noted that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope. Alphanumeric identifiers on method steps are for convenient reference in dependent claims and do not signify a required sequence of performance unless otherwise indicated in the claims.
Patent applications by Mauricio D. Cavalcante, Atlanta, GA US