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1. (WO2019067738) MATERIAL STORAGE AND TRANSPORT SYSTEM
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MATERIAL STORAGE AND TRANSPORT SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Serial No.

62/563,979, filed September 27, 2017, the entire contents of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to systems for the storage and transport of delicate, three-dimensional materials and objects.

BACKGROUND

[0003] A variety of packaging technologies exist for storage and transport of products. These technologies, as well as, the products they package have evolved over time.

SUMMARY

[0004] In various embodiments, a material storage and transport system is disclosed. The material storage and transport system can include a material storage tray forming an open-top storage volume defined by a bottom and walls extending up from the bottom along a perimeter of the bottom. The material storage and transport system can also include a releasable strap adapted to extend across the bottom when in a securing configuration and a lid element adapted (i) to fit within the storage volume when arranged parallel to the bottom, and (ii) to be secured to the material storage tray by the releasable strap.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0005] The features and advantages of the sample storage and transport device will be more fully disclosed in, or rendered obvious by the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, which are to be considered together with the accompanying drawings wherein like numbers refer to like parts and further wherein:

[0006] FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a sample carrier as described herein.

[0007] FIG. 2 is perspective view of a sample carrier as described herein.

[0008] FIG. 3 is an exploded view showing a material storage and transport system as described herein.

[0009] FIG. 4 is an exploded view of a sample carrier as described herein prior to vacuum forming of the thermoplastic sheet.

[0010] FIG. 5 is an unfolded and exploded view of a material storage tray as described herein.

[0011] FIG. 6 is a top view of a first and second strap element as described herein.

[0012] FIG. 7 is a top view of an unfolded second end lip 126 showing how the second strap element is connected thereto as described herein.

[0013] FIG. 8 is a perspective view showing a material storage tray as described herein.

[0014] FIG. 9 is a top, perspective view of a complete material storage and transport system with the sample carrier, low-profile materials, and lid element secured by the strap.

[0015] FIG. 10 is a top, perspective view of the material storage and transport system of FIG. 9, with the strap released and the lid element removed to reveal the low-profile materials and sample carrier.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0016] The description of the embodiments is intended to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are to be considered part of the entire written description. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale and certain features of the may be shown

exaggerated in scale or in somewhat schematic form in the interest of clarity and conciseness. In this description, relative terms such as "horizontal," "vertical," "up," "down," "top," "bottom," as well as derivatives thereof (e.g., "horizontally," "downwardly," "upwardly," etc.) should be construed to refer to the orientation as then described or as shown in the drawing figure under discussion. These relative terms are for convenience of description and normally are not intended to require a particular orientation. Terms including "inwardly" versus "outwardly," "longitudinal" versus "lateral" and the like are to be interpreted relative to one another or relative to an axis of elongation, or an axis or center of rotation, as appropriate. Terms concerning attachments, coupling and the like, such as "connected" and "interconnected," refer to a relationship wherein structures are secured or attached to one another either directly or indirectly through intervening structures, as well as both moveable or rigid attachments or relationships, unless expressly described otherwise, and includes terms such as "directly" coupled, secured, etc. The term "operatively coupled" is such an attachment, coupling, or connection that allows the pertinent structures to operate as intended by virtue of that relationship.

[0017] In various embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 1-10, a material storage and transport system 10 is disclosed. The material storage and transport system 10 can include a material storage tray 100 forming an open-top storage volume 102 defined by a bottom 104 and walls 106 extending up from the bottom 104 along a perimeter 108 of the bottom 104. The material storage and transport system 10 can also include a releasable strap 200 adapted to extend across the bottom 104 when in a securing configuration and a lid element 300 adapted (i) to fit within the storage volume 102 when arranged parallel to the bottom 104, and (ii) to be secured to the material storage tray 100 by the releasable strap 200.

[0018] The material storage and transport system 10 can also include a sample carrier 400 that includes at least one sample 500 secured to a sample support substrate 402 by a molded sheet 404. The at least one sample can be a three-dimensional sample, e.g., one that is at least 0.125" in each dimension, or at least 0.25" in each dimension, or at lesat 0.375" in each dimension, or at least 0.5" in each dimension.

[0019] In some embodiments, the molded sheet 404 can include plastic. In some embodiments, the molded sheet 404 can be plastic. In some embodiments, the molded sheet 404 is secured to the sample support 402 substrate by adhesive. In some embodiments, in a securing configuration the sample carrier 400 is adapted (i) to fit within the storage volume 102 when arranged parallel to the bottom 104, and (ii) to be secured to the material storage tray 100 by the releasable strap 200. FIGS. 9 and 10 show examples of a material storage and transport system

10 both in a secured configuration with the lid element (FIG. 9) and in an unsecured configuration with the lid element removed (FIG. 10).

[0020] In some embodiments, the samples 500 can be placed on the sample support substrate 402, and the molded sheet 404 can be formed by heating a sheet of thermoplastic material 405 then vacuum sealing it to the sample support substrate 402. In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 1-3, the samples 500a-500e can be spaced apart. In some embodiments, the samples 500 are at least 1" from any edges of the sample support substrate 402, or at least 0.75" from any edges of the sample support substrate 402, or at least 0.5" from any edes of the sample support substrate 402. In some embodiments, each samples is at least 0.25" from any adjacent samples, or at least 0.5" from any adjacent samples, or at least 0.75" from any adjacent sample, or at least 1" from any adjacent sample. This allows the molded sheet 404 to form sample storage bubbles 406 that fixedly attaches the samples 500 to the sample support substrate 402 and isolated the samples 500 from one another to minimize damage to the samples 500.

[0021] In such embodiments, the sample support substrate 402 can include pores that allow a vacuum to be pulled through the sample support substrate 402 when the heated thermoplastic sheet is brought into contact with the sample support substrate 402. In some embodiments, the thermoplastic sheet 405 is at least 125 °F when it contacts the sample support substrate 402, or at least 150 °F when it contacts the sample support substrate 402, or at least 175 °F when it contacts the sample support substrate 402, or at least 200 °F when it contacts the sample support substrate 402. In some embodiments, the thermoplastic sheet 405 is from 1 mm and 10 mm prior to bonding to the sample support substrate 402, in some embodiments, the thermoplastic sheet 405 is from 2 mm to 9 mm, or from 3 mm to 9 mm, or from 4 mm to 8 mm, or any combination thereof (e.g., from 2 mm to 8 mm).

[0022] In some embodiments, these pores are present in order to allow sufficient vacuum to be pulled to form the sample storage bubbles 406 and secure the molded sheet 404 to the sample support substrate 402. In some embodiments, the sample support substrate 402 can be continuously or intermittently coated with a heat activated adhesive to facilitate bonding between the sample support substrate 402 and the molded sheet 404. In some embodiments, the heat activated adhesive is not tacky at room temperature (e.g., < 100 °F). In some embodiments, the adhesive can be a thermoplastic resin. In some embodimentes, the adhesive can be an ionically cross-linked thermoplastic based upon ethylene copolymerised with carboxyl groups and a metal ion, such as those sold by DUPONT® under the name SURLYN®

[0023] In some embodiments, the sample support substrate 402 is formed of corrugated cardboard or corrugated plastic. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 4, the sample support substrate 402 can include a cut-out 403 so the recipient of the shipment can more easily pull the molded sheet 404 away from the sample support substrate 402 and access the samples. In some embodiments, the cut-out 403 can have a maximum dimension of 1.5" or less (compared to a symmetrical sample support substrate without the cut-out), or 1.25" or less, or 1" or less. In some embodiments, the cut-out 403 can have a maximum dimension of at lest 0.5" , or at least 0.75", or at least 1". FIG. 4 shows the thermoplastic sheet 405 prior to vacuum and heat treatment to produce the sample storage bubbles 406, which are evident in FIG. 1.

[0024] Using this approach it is possible to produce a sample carrier 400 that is customized for the specific samples 500 placed on the sample support substrate 402. In particular, each of the samples 500a-500e can be isolated in a discrete sample storage bubble 406. This prevents each sample 500 from moving parallel to the plane of the sample support substrate 502. In some embodiments, the molded sheet 404 can be transparent or translucent so that the samples 500 can be viewed even when they are sealed in the sample carrier 400.

[0025] In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3, the lid element 300 includes a first lid edge 302 comprising a first strap notch 304 and a second lid edge 306, opposite the first lid edge 302, wherein said second lid edge 306 comprises a second strap notch 308. In some such embodiments, the first strap notch 304 and the second strap notch 308 are adapted for receiving the releasable strap 200 when the lid element 300 is secured to the material storage tray 100 by the releasable strap 200. In some embodiments, the first strap notch 304 can extend over the mid-point of the first lid edge 302, the second strap notch 308 can extend over the mid-point of the second lid edge 306, or both.

[0026] In some embodiments, the lid element 300 is formed of a stiff material. In some embodiments, the lid element 300 is formed of corrugated cardboard, corrugated plastic, or

wood. In some embodiments, the lid element 300 can be formed of two layers of B-flute cardboard adhered or laminated together.

[0027] In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3, the material storage and transport system 10 is designed so the sample carrier 400 fits between the bottom 104 and the lid element 300 when the lid element 300 is secured to the material storage tray 100 by the releasable strap 200. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3, the material storage and transport system 10 is designed so the sample carrier 400 and low-profile materials 600 fit between the bottom 104 and the lid element 300 when the lid element 300 is secured to the material storage tray 100 by the releasable strap 200. In some embodiments, the low-profile materials 600 can be one or more envelopes, folders, or other organizers with material samples (e.g., textiles, wall coverings, etc.) stored therein.

[0028] The releasable strap 200 can be formed of a fabric, which can be stretchable or non-stretchable. The releasable strap 200 can be adapted to hold the stored elements (e.g., the sample carrier 400 and low-profile materials 600) securely in the material storage and transport system. In particular, the strap prevents the sample carrier 400 from bouncing vertically if the material storage and transport system 10 is dropped or jostled. In combination with the sample storage bubbles 406 and the sample support substrate 402 fitting precisely within the material storage tray 100 (i.e., having the same or nearly the same length and width dimensions as the perimeter 108), this limits movement of the samples 500 within the material storage and transport system 10 in all three orthogonal directions and protects the samples 500 from being damaged during transport.

[0029] In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 3, 5, 6, and 8-10, the walls 106 comprise a first end wall 110 and a second end wall 112 opposite the first end wall 110. The releasable strap 200 can include a first strap element 202 and a second strap element 204. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3, a proximal portion of the first strap element 202 is attached to the first end wall 110 and a proximal portion of the second strap element 204 is attached to the second end wall 112.

[0030] In some such embodiments, distal portions of the first and second strap elements 202, 204 releasably couple with one another. As shown in FIGS. 5 & 6, in some embodiments, a

distal portion of the first strap element 202 includes a hook/loop material 206 and a distal portion of the second strap element 204 includes a corresponding loop/hook material 208 so that the first strap element 202 and the second strap element 204 are releasably coupled.

[0031] In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 5, 7, and 8 , the first end wall 1 10 comprises a pull tab opening 1 14 and a pull tab 1 18 extends outside the material storage tray 100 through the pull tab opening 1 14. In some embodiments, a pull tab strip 1 16 extends through the pull tab opening 1 14 to form the pull tab 1 18. As shown in FIGS. 5, 7, and 8, in some embodiments, the first strap element 202 (e.g., a proximal portion) is the pull tab strip 1 16.

[0032] In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 5, 7, and 8, the walls 106 further comprise a first side wall 120 and a second side wall 122 opposite the first side wall 120. In some embodiments, the first side wall 120 comprises the pull tab opening 1 14 and the pull tab 1 18 extends outside the material storage tray 1 10 through the pull tab opening 1 14. In some such embodiments, the first and second strap elements 202, 204 are attached to the first and second end walls 1 10, 1 12, respectively, and the pull tab 1 18 is formed from a pull tab strip 1 16 other than the first or second strap element 202, 204. Although the FIGS show the end walls 1 10, 1 12 as being shorter than the side walls 120, 122, the end walls 1 10, 1 12 and the side walls 120, 122 could be the same length or the end walls 1 10, 1 12 could be longer than the side walls 120, 122. In some embodiments, the perimeter 108 has a shape selected from a square, a rectangle, a hexagon, or an octagon.

[0033] In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 8, each strap 202, 204 can extend out from a lower half of the end wall 1 10, 1 12 to which it is attcahed. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 8, each strap 202, 204 can extend out from a lower third or lower half of the end wall 1 10, 1 12 to which it is attached. In some embodiments, when the straps 202, 204 are pulled tight and secured together, the straps 202, 204 contact the bottom 104. In some embodiments, each strap 202, 204 can extend out from under the end wall free edge 130, 138 of the end wall 1 10, 1 12 to which it is attached. In some such embodiments, each strap 202, 204 can extend under the end wall free edge 130, 138 between the end wall lip tabs 132, 140.

[0034] In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7, the first end wall 1 10 is formed by a first end lip 124 and the second end wall 1 12 is formed by a second end lip 126. In some

embodiments, a first end fold line 128 is located between the bottom 104 and the first end lip 124, and a first end free edge 130 includes at least one first end lip tab 132, and at least one first end tab slot 134 is located adjacent to the first end fold line 128. In some embodiments, a second end fold line 136 is located between the bottom 104 and the second end lip 126, and a second end free edge 138 includes at least one second end lip tab 140, and at least one second end tab slot 142 is located adjacent to the second end fold line 136. In some such embodiments, the at least one first end tab slots 134 are adapted for receiving the at least one first end lip tabs 132 when the first end lip 124 is folded up then in half toward the bottom 104, and the at least one second end tab slots 142 are adapted for receiving the at least one second end lip tabs 140 when the second end lip 126 is folded up then in half toward the bottom 104. In such embodiments, the first end fold line 128 and the second end fold line 136 define a portion of the perimeter 108 of the bottom 104.

[0035] In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7, the walls 106 further comprise a first side wall 144 and a second side wall 146 opposite the first side wall 144. In some embodiments, the first side wall 144 is formed by a first side lip 145 and the second side wall 146 is formed by a second side lip 147. In some embodiments, a first side fold line 148 is located between the bottom 104 and the first side lip 145 and a first side free edge 150 includes at least one first side lip tab 152, and at least one first side tab slot 154 is located adjacent to the first side fold line 148. In some embodiments, a second side fold line 156 is located between the bottom 104 and the second side lip 147 and a second side free edge 158 includes at least one second side lip tab 160, and at least one second side tab slot 162 is located adjacent to the second side fold line 156. In some embodiments, the at least one first side tab slots 154 are adapted for receiving the at least one first side lip tabs 152 when the first side lip 1445 is folded up then in half toward the bottom 104, and the at least one second side tab slots 162 are adapted for receiving the at least one second side lip tabs 160 when the second side lip 147 is folded up and in half toward the bottom 104.

[0036] In some embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7, the first side lip 145 comprises two opposing first side wing tabs 155 extending outward from edges of the first side lip 145, and the second side lip 147 comprises two opposing second side wing tabs 163 extending outward from edges of the second side lip 147. In some such embodiments, one first side wing tab 155a

and one second side wing tab 163a are adapted to fit within a void formed when the at least one first end lip tabs 132 are received by the at least one first end tab slots 134, and the other first side wing tab 155b and the other second side wing tab 163b are adapted to fit within a void formed when the at least one second end lip tabs 140 are received by the at least one second end tab slots 142.

[0037] In some embodiments, the material storage and transport system 10 can be sized to fit snuggly within a sealable box (e.g., a shipping box). As used herein, snuggly refers to having at least two of thickness, width, and length of the material storage tray 10 within 0.5 inches or less than the corresponding interior dimensions of the shipping box, or within 0.25 inches of less than the corresponding interior dimensions of the shipping box.

[0038] This provides an added layer protection during shipping and, in combination with the compression strap 200 limits movement of the samples 500 during transport. The pull tab also facilitates removal of the material storage and transport system 10 from the sealable box, once the box has been opened. The walls of the tray can be formed of two layers of E-flute (corrugated) cardboard (one folded back against the other) for durability. These folds create a concealed location for attaching the strap to the walls of the material storage tray. Adhesive 164 attached the straps 202, 204 securely to the box. The pull tab opening 1 14 allows the strap 200 to extend out of the material storage tray 100 to create a pull tab 128 and be attached to the inside of the wall 106 on both sides of the pull tab opening 1 14. The thinness of the E-flute cardboard allows us to use a small pull tab opening 1 14 and receive the pull tab strap 1 16.

[0039] From an aesthetic point, the material storage and transport system is as useful as a display object as it is functional for shipping. Constructing the Sample Tray out of E-flute, allows us to get crisp edges while maintaining stiffness. The user can write on the outside of the walls 106 to indicate what project or type of samples are contained within.

[0040] The informational materials 600 can be folders containing two dimensional materials samples such as, but no limited to, textiles, leather, laminates, wallcoverings, window treatments, paints, coatings, as well as, information regarding the materials/samples in the material storage tray. The folders provide an organizational system for these types of samples both in terms of packaging and in the customer's environment. Folders are sized to be

compatible with the material storage stray allowing for scalable fulfillment depending on the size of a customer's order. The folders 600 can accommodate all typical two-dimensional sample sizes without folding or creasing.

[0041] Although the subject matter has been described in terms of various embodiments, it is not limited thereto. Rather, the appended claims should be construed broadly, to include other variants and embodiments, which may be made by those skilled in the art.