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1. WO1995008496 - PAQUET SOUPLE RELATIVEMENT RECTANGULAIRE CONCU POUR CONTENIR DE MULTIPLES OBJETS DE FORME IRREGULIERE TELS QUE DES PAINS DE SAVON

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

A FLEXIBLE AND SUBSTANTIALLY RECTANGULAR
PACKAGE FOR CONTAINING MULTIPLE IRREGULAR SHAPED

OBJECTS SUCH AS SOAP BARS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to packages for containing multiple three dimensional, irregular shaped objects. The present invention has further relation to the packaging of multiple bars of soap in those packages. The present invention has further relation to the packaging of multiple bars of soap where the bars are irregular/non-rectangular shaped. The present invention has even further relation to such packages which can be stacked in a stable fashion on a store shelf or the like and can be stacked on top of one another in a warehouse with the objects carrying the load of the stacked packages.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In the past, bars of soap were typically sold individually by being packed in boxes, wrappers or the like. Recently, however, with the rise in popularity of club stores and the like, consumers have preferred to buy multiple bars of soap at once. Therefore, in order to market multiple bars of soap, manufacturers have typically packaged individual bars of soap in flexible paper-based wrappers having semi-rigid paperboard inserts. Thereafter, a number of these wrapped individual bars of soap would then be taped together. Other manufacturers have packages individual bars of soap in their own box and then wrapped a number of these individual boxes together with thermoplastic film, tape or the like. However, this type of packaging was very wasteful in that each individual bar needed its own box or wrapper and on top of that the bundle itself needed additional packaging, such as wrappings, tape or the like in order to be sold as a single unit. Furthermore, this type of packaging was deemed to be consumer unfriendly in that consumers will typically get the next bar of soap while they are taking a shower. It was found very inconvenient to get out of the shower, undue the thermoplastic wrap, then undo the individual box or wrapper and retrieve a bar of soap.

Some manufacturers have attempted to solve the problems of the prior art packages by shrink-wrapping a number of bars together. However, there are many reasons why shrink wrapping or like methods has not been an effective solution. It has been determined that when purchasing a bar soap consumers tend to prefer non-rectangular, or pillow-shaped bars of soap. In fact, many of the consumer preferred bars have become very irregularly shaped and have not had adequate surface area on their small ends in order to stand on a shelf or the like. These irregular shaped bars have made it impractical to shrink wrap multiple bars together for sale as a single unit because they will not sit properly on a store shelf. For advertising purposes store shelf space considerations, stacking stability and manufacturing criteria it is preferred that multiple bars of soap be packaged in face to face relation with the stack resting on the smaller side edges of the soap bars. Shrink wrapped bars cannot stand on a store shelf or the like, or be stackable on top of one another, in a stable fashion when placed in this orientation. The irregular shape of the bar causes the unit of multiple bars to become unstable when resting on the small ends of the bars and the package tends to tip over.
While at first glance it may seem desirable to place a number of soap bars in a single paperboard box, this solution has many disadvantages. Manufacturers have had trouble sealing the corners of rectangular boxes in order to provide sufficient barrier to protect the soap bars from moisture and perfume loss during shipping and storage. Furthermore, it is desirable to provide a package whose size can be reduced after a soap bar is removed. This is so the package will not take up extra space in a consumer's cabinet.
With the advent of the consumer preference for these irregular shaped bars, most all manufacturers continue to package individual bars of soap in their own individual box and then wrap a number of these together to sell as a single unit, as described above. As was stated above, this is a very expensive way to market and sell multiple bars of soap and is also consumer unfriendly. Moreover, many manufacturers place the groups of multiple bars of soap in shipping containers for storing and shipping the soap. The shipping containers are usually designed to carry a load of multiple stacked shipping containers. This is a disadvantage in that the soap bars are strong enough to carry the load, and the use of shipping containers merely adds to the final cost of the product. However, due to the configuration of the irregularly shaped bars, shipping containers are needed to carry the load because the units of multiple bars cannot be stacked in such a way so as to allow the soap bars to carry the load.
There has therefore been a need for a package for containing multiple irregular shaped objects such as soap bars which is easy to use for consumers, is stackable on a store shelf in a desired orientation, substantially reduces the amount of materials being used to package the soap and is able to be stacked on top of one another.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a single package for containing multiple irregular shaped three-dimensional objects, such as soap bars, which can be stacked on a store shelf or the like and sold as a single unit.
It is another object of the present invention to provide such a package wherein multiple packages can be stacked on top of one another and wherein the load can be transferred through a column of individual three-dimensional objects.
It is another object of the present invention to provide such a package which significantly reduces the amount of material needed to package multiple bars of soap. It is another object of the present invention to provide such a package which easy for consumers to open, retrieve a bar of soap, and reclose.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide such a package which is able to reduce its size after the removal of an object.
The aforementioned and other objects of the invention will become more apparent hereinafter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention there is provided a flexible and substantially non-resilient package containing a plurality of three-dimensional objects. The package is such that multiple packages are stacked on top of one another. The package includes a- flexible substantially rectangular container comprising opposing top and bottom walls and two pairs of opposing side walls, all of which are joined together to form an interior chamber for containing the non-rectangular objects. The three-dimensional objects to be contained, such as soap bars, are substantially rigid and non-rectangular. The objects comprise two non-planer substantially oblong faces. The faces are connected by a pair of opposing major peripheral edges and a pair of opposing minor peripheral edges, wherein the minor peripheral edges are smaller than the major peripheral edges. The objects are placed within the container in face to face relation with the major peripheral edges and the minor peripheral edges of each object being substantially parallel. The objects are constrained within the package so that movement of the objects with respect to one another and with respect to the container is substantially limited. Thereafter, multiple packages can be stacked on top of one another with the objects resting on their minor peripheral edges and the load of the objects can be transmitted through columns of stacked objects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject invention, it is believed that the same will be understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a package in accordance with the present invention, showing the contents within.
Figure 2 is a perspective view of an irregular, non-rectangular three dimensional object of the type that is to placed in the package of Figure 1.
Figure 3 is a perspective view of three packages, similar to the ones shown in

Figure 1, stacked on top of one another.
Figure 4 is a perspective view of another irregular, non-rectangular three dimensional object of the type that is to placed in the package of the present invention. Figure 5 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a package in accordance with the present invention, showing the contents within.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Referring now to the drawings wherein like numerals indicate the same element throughout the views, there is shown in Figure 1 a perspective view of a package 1, in accordance with the present invention, for containing irregular shaped, non-rectangular three-dimensional objects SO such as soap bars. As used herein a three-dimensional irregular shaped, non-rectangular object will be defined as an object having two substantially opposing, non-planer oblong faces connected by a pair of opposing major peripheral edges and a pair of opposing minor peripheral edges, wherein the major peripheral edges are longer than the opposing minor peripheral edges. The word "oblong" as used herein, is used as it is defined in the Websters Third New International Dictionary: "deviating from a square or circular form through elongation". An example of an object that the package of the present invention is designed to contain is given in Figure 2. Figure 2 is a perspective view of what is referred to in the art as a "pillow shaped" soap bar 50. Soap bar 50 has two substantially opposing non-planer faces 51 and 52. Faces 51 and 51 are connected by a pair of substantially opposing major peripheral edges 53 and 54 (not shown), and a pair of substantially opposing minor peripheral edges 55 and 56. Another example of an object that the package of the present invention is designed to contain is given in Figure 4. Figure 4 is a perspective view of a soap bar 150. Soap bar 150 has two substantially opposing non-planer faces 151 and 152. Faces 151 and 151 are connected by a pair of substantially opposing major peripheral edges 153 and 154 (not shown), and a pair of substantially opposing minor peripheral edges 155 and 156.
The package 1 in accordance with the present invention can best be described by referring back to Figure 1. Package 1 includes a substantially rectangular container section 2 made from a flexible and substantially non-resilient material. Container 2 has opposing top and bottom walls 10 and 11, and two pairs of opposing side walls 12, 13 and 14, 15. All of the walls are joined together to form an interior chamber 3 for containing a number of irregular shaped objects 50.
Suitable materials for forming container 2 include paper and polymer laminates, paper and polymer co-extruded materials, paper with paraffin/hot melt coatings and any other suitable material known in the art. Preferably, the material has enough memory to form a container which is substantially rectangular and can hold the rectangular shape indefinitely. That is the material preferably has the ability to be folded or scored so that the package has the ability to maintain its substantially rectangular shape independent of the contents inside. The package's score lines, folds and corners help support the product inside and allow multiple packages to be stacked on top of one another. However, a more flexible material, without sufficient memory could be used if paperboard inserts or the like were inserted into the container along one or both of the pairs of opposing side walls, thereby giving the container its substantially rectangular shape. Upon opening the consumer could discard the inserts so as to make the package collapsible. Moreover, it is preferred that the material have the necessary barrier properties in order to protect its contents. For bar soap the material needs sufficient air and moisture barrier to prevent fragrance and moisture loss before opening.
In a preferred embodiment the package further includes a reclosure device so that the container can be securely reclosed each time after it has been opened. Figure 1 shows the reclosure device as a tab 20 extending from closure flap 16 which forms part of the top wall 10. Tab 20 has a low strength adhesive on its inner face which make contact with the container. After the package has been opened, by separating closure flaps 16 and 17, a consumer can gain access to the interior chamber 3 and retrieve a bar of soap 50. Thereafter, the top of the container 10 can be rolled or folded down to the next available bar in such a way that closure flap 16 covers the folded down portion of top wall 10 so that the tab 20 can be resecured to the side wall 12, thereby reclosing the package. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, any number of reclosure devices can be used such as twist ties, tin ties, mechanical closures such as Velcro®, resealable adhesives, resealable tapes, self adhering co-adhesives and the like. Alternatively, the container 2 can be made from a material having sufficient dead fold properties that the package can be reclosed, after removal of an object, by folding the container.
The objects 50 are placed within the container in face-to-face relation, with the faces of the objects being facing the top and bottom walls 10 and 11 of container 2. That is the peripheral edges of the objects are surrounded by the side walls. The objects 50 are packed within the container 2 in such a way that movement of the objects with respect to the container 2 and with respect to each other is substantially limited or prevented, i.e. the objects are tightly packed within the container. This allows the objects to be stacked on top of one another while substantially preventing an object from one package to enter the space between the objects of a package below it, thereby causing the stack to become unstable and possibly tearing the package material. That is shingling is substantially prevented.
Because the objects are irregularly shaped, the preferred maximum, but not required, distances between an object 50 and any side wall is given in terms of the distance taken perpendicular to the side wall at a point where the three dimensional object is closest to that side wall. For example the objects 50, shown in Figure 1 are closest to side walls 12 and 13 at the midpoint of their major peripheral edges, between the minor peripheral edges. Similarly, objects 50 are closest to side walls 14 and 15 at the midpoint of their minor peripheral edges, between the major peripheral edges. Therefore, the preferred maximum distance between any object 50 and any given side wall, as described above, is less than 1/4 in. (0.635 cm.). The preferred maximum distance between the object immediately adjacent the top wall 10, object 50a, and the top wall is defined in terms of the distance taken perpendicular to top wall 10 at a point where object 50a is closest to top wall 11. For the objects shown in Figure 1, the point where 50a is closest to top wall 10 is at points closest to the minor peripheral edges. Similarly, the preferred maximum distance between the object immediately adjacent the bottom wall 11, object 50c, and the bottom wall is defined in terms of the distance taken perpendicular to bottom wall 11 at a point where object 50c is closest to bottom wall 11. For the objects shown in Figure 1, the point where 50c is closest to top wall 10 is about at the center of the face adjacent the bottom wall. Therefore, the preferred maximum distance between objects 50a and 50c and the top or bottom wall respectively, as described above, is preferably less than 1/4 in. (0.635 cm.). Therefore, if the objects were perfectly centered within the container the objects would have a maximum clearance between all of the walls of less than 1/8 of an inch. The maximum preferred distances between an object and a wall is taken when the object is abutting the opposing wall that the distance is being measured from. The maximum clearances given above are preferred but not required and are based on the balance between the clearance needed for insertion of the objects within the bag and the clearance needed to give good stackability.
Because the objects are tightly packed within the container and because the package has a substantially rectangular shape, the package is able to stand on a store shelf or the like with the objects resting on their minor peripheral edges. This is the preferred orientation for placing the packages on a shelf, so that shelf space is utilized efficiently and so that the package gives a good billboard effect with the advertising on side walls 12 and 13. Moreover, the placing of the objects 50 within the rectangular package 1 allows multiple packages to be stacked on top one another in a warehouse or the like. This can best be described by referring to Figure 3. Figure 3 shows three packages 100, 101 and 102 stacked on top of one another. However, it is contemplated that many more packages could be stacked on top of each other. Because of the way the objects are packaged, the load or weight of the stacked packages is transmitted through a column 110 of objects 50. The tight fit of the bars within the package prevents shingling of adjacent bars, which could rip or tear the package. Allowing the bars to carry the load permits the objects to shipped and stored in less expensive shipping containers, which do not have to carry the load, or no shipping container at all.
An alternative embodiment of a package containing a plurality of three-dimensional objects in accordance with the present is shown in Figure 5. Figure 5 is a perspective view of a package 201, in accordance with the present invention, for containing irregular shaped, non-rectangular three-dimensional objects 250, identical to objects 50. Package 201 includes a substantially rectangular container section 202 made from a flexible and substantially non-resilient material. Container 202 has opposing top and bottom walls 210 and 211, and two pairs of opposing side walls 212, 213 and 214, 215. All of the walls are joined together to form an interior chamber 203 for containing at least two stacks 271 and 272 of irregular shaped objects 250. The objects 250 are placed within the container to form at least two stacks 271 and 272. Each stack is such that the objects of each stack are placed in face-to-face relation with respect to each other with the major peripheral edges and the minor peripheral edges of each object being substantially parallel. The faces of the objects are facing the top and bottom walls 210 and 211, that is the peripheral edges of the objects are surrounded by the side walls. The stacks 271 and 272 are arranged such that the minor peripheral edges of the objects of one stack abut the minor peripheral edges of the object of an adjacent stack so that the objects line up in columns. The objects 250 are packed within the container 202 in such a way that movement of the objects with respect to the container 202 and with respect to each other is substantially limited or prevented, i.e. the objects are tightly packed within the container.
The package can be formed in any number of ways known in the art including having the package material roll stock fed from a reel, wrapping it around a vertical mandrel, cutting and folding it to the proper shape and then filling it. It should be noted that the present invention requires one less operation and hence one less single operation machine. In the prior art manufacturing processes three operations were needed: one to form the boxes for containing individual soap bars, one to fill the boxes, and one to wrap multiple boxes together. In the present invention only two operations are needed: one to make the package and one to fill the package. Therefore, the present invention lends itself to a more efficient and inexpensive manufacturing method.
While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, various modifications may be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be considered in terms of the following claims and is understood not to be limited to the details described and shown in the specification and drawings.