|Publication number||US3087823 A|
|Publication date||30 Apr 1963|
|Filing date||3 Oct 1960|
|Priority date||3 Oct 1960|
|Publication number||US 3087823 A, US 3087823A, US-A-3087823, US3087823 A, US3087823A|
|Inventors||Arthur Fourier Walter, Edward Hein Matthew|
|Original Assignee||American Can Co|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (21), Classifications (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
April 30, 1963 M. E. HEIN ETAL 3,087,823
` PACKAGE Filed Oct.' 3. 1960 f4 ff United States Patent O 3,087,323 PACKAGE Matthew Edward Hein, Elgin, and Walter Arthur Fourier, Crystal Lake, Ill., assignors to American Can Company, New York, N.Y., a corporation of New Jersey Filed Oct. 3, 1960, Ser. No. 60,168 8 Claims. (Ci. 99-174) The present invention pertains to a display package. More particularly, the invention pertains to a package in which the product is visibly displayed in a hermetically sealed, vacuumized container, the elements of which are held together principally by atmospheric pressure.
Although the package of the instant invention is capable of containing any desired product, it is particularly useful to contain smoked or preserved meats in the form of individual portions, such as sliced boiled ham, sliced bologna, a plurality of frankfurters, and the like. Without detracting from these broader aspects, the invention will be described hereinafter in relation to the packaging of such preserved meats.
A number of packages of this type have been disclosed in the prior art. However, in each of these prior art packages, special and somewhat complicated constructions to join one portion of the container to the other are necessitated to provide an abuse-resistant, hermetic seal. Obviously, such complex constructions are diflicult and expensive to fabricate. Also, due to their complexity, a high proportion of these containers must be rejected for failure to produce the desired hermetic and abuse-resistant seal.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an improved, hermetically sealed package wherein the product packed therein is readily visible to the consumer.
Another object is to provide a hermetically sealed package, the container portion of Iwhich is produced and hermetically sealed relatively simply and inexpensively.
Yet another object is to produce a hermetically sealed package which, due to its construction, can be conveniently stacked for shipment and retailing.
Still another object is to provide a hermetically sealed package which, after initial opening, may be readily reclosed for storage of any unused product contained there- Another object is to produce a package which, although hermetically sealed by a very simple expedient, is so constructed to protect this simple seal from accidental rupture.
Numerous other objects and advantages of the inven-4 tion will be apparent as it is better understood from the following description, which, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, discloses a preferred embodiment thereof.
Referring to the drawings:
FIGURE l is a plan view of a package encompassed by the subject invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional View taken substantially along lines 2-2 of FIG. l;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional view of the instant package prior to vacuumizing the interior thereof;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a modified form of the subject package; and
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional View taken substantially along lines 55 of FIG. 4.
The subject package by which the above objects are achieved includes a product enclosed within a hermetically sealed container, Iwhich container comprises a base and a body, preformed to conform substantially to the shape of the product, the base and body portions being held together and maintained in sealing engagement lwith one another principally by atmospheric pressure.
As the preferred or exemplary embodiment of the instant invention, FIG. 2 shows a package having a base generally designated 10. The base 10 is made of a relatively rigid, self-supporting material, preferably tin plate; but may be made from our materials, such as plastic, paper which has been coated to render it impervious to moisture, fats, and oils, or the like, which have the required structural characteristics. In the preferred em'bodiment the base 10 is circular and includes a circular central panel 12, from the circumference of which depends a side -wall or skirt .13: At its lower periphery, the skirt 13 extends horizontally outwardly to form an annular or peripheral iiange I15. The outer periphery of flange `15 is turned upwardly and slightly inwardly to form an upfstanding wall 16 spaced from the skirt 13 and terminating in an inwardly rolled bead or rim 17. The skirt 13, flange 15, and upstanding wall 16 form a substantially U-shaped channel disposed below and surrounding the central panel 12. Although the upstanding |wall 16 is not absolutely essential to the package of the instant invention, its presence is definitely preferred to provide a protective barrier against accidental rupture of the body and .base seal, as will be described more fully hereinafter. By -virtue of the dependency of the skirt 13 and the central panel 12, a concavity is formed in the base 10. This concavity is so dimensioned as to permit the entrance of the upper portion of another package therein to facilitate stacking of a number of packages, as will be explained more fully hereinafter. 'I'he wall y16 may extend up'wardly for any desired distance, provided it performs its function of protecting the hermetic seal.
Lying at on the flange 15 and surrounding the skirt 13 is an annular gasket .19. The gasket 19 extends for substantially the full width of the flange 15, extending from the lower periphery of the skirt =13 to the lower periphery of the wall 16. The gasket 19 must be formed of a material which has a substantially smooth upper and lower surface so as to provide, upon the application of moderate pressure, substantially continuous and sealing engagement of these upper and lower surfaces with the lower surface of the body flange, as explained more fully hereinafter, and the upper surface of the base flange 15 respectively. Examples of materials suitable for the gasket 19 are solvent-free rubber compositions and hydrocarbon waxes, with the former being preferred.
Situated on and extending upwardly from the central i panel 12 of the base 10 is the product 20. As shown in FIG. 2, this product is in the form of substantially regularly shaped circular slices, for example a cured meat product, such as bologna and the like. It is preferred that the product be substantially regularly shaped, i.e. have at least one axis of symmetry. However, it is Within the purview of the instant invention that the product may be in any form, e.g. whole, chunks, particulate, etc., and/or may be any desired shape. -It is necessary only that Whatever the shape of the product 20, the body of the container, which will be described more fully hereinafter, be preformed so as to conform substantially to the shape of the product. If such a requirement is not met, it will be impossible to maintain the hermetic seal, which in turn maintains the vacuum, within t-he container.
A body 22 encloses the product 20 and is secured to the base 1.0. The body 22 is of one-piece construction, preformed before its assemblage over the product and with the base 10 to the desired shape of the product 20. Preferably, the body 22 is made of a substantially transparent, thermoplastic material having sufficient thickness to be self-supporting and maintain the shape in which it is formed. In other words, the body 22 is not a ilexible film of the type used in prior art packages. Examples of operable materials are polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and the like. The body 22 may be formed by t-hese materials in any suitable manner known in the art, such as injection molding, vacuum forming, and the like.
The body 22 has an upper end or closure generally designated 23, the central portion 24 of which is substantially at or planar and, when the package is vacuumized, the inner surface of which is in intimate contact with the top surface of the product. Integral with and around the periphery or circumference of the central panel 24 is an upstanding bead 25 which does not contact the product 20. Since products such as sliced meats are packed by weight rather than size, slight variations occur in the height and diameter of the product supported on the base 10. The bead 25 provides an automatic compensation for these slight variations in product size. The bead 25 merges with the side wall 27 of the body 22, which side wall 27 extends downwardly and tapers slightly outwardly and terminates at its lower periphery in a radially outwardly extending flange 28. One portion of the ange 28 is extended to provide a pull tab 30. The body 22 is preformed so that the outside diameter of the upper end 23 is less than the inside diameter of the base when measured across the skirt portion 13. However, the lower periphery of the body 22 is molded so as to be substantially equal to the outside diameter of the base 10 across the skirt portion 13. `By means of this design, the side wall 27 of the body 22, prior to vacuurnizing the interior of the package, extends downwardly in a substantially straight line with its lower portion fitting substantially snugly over the outside of the skirt 13, as best shown in FIG. 3.
The under side or lower horizontal surface of the body flange 28 is substantially smooth and wrinkle free, having been preformed in this condition. In the assembled package, this smooth, lower surface of the flange 28 is maintained in intimate and sealing engagement with the upper surface of the gasket 19 principally by the force of atmospheric pressure. Obviously, any wrinkles or discontinuities in the surface-to-surface contact between the gasket .19 and either the base flange or the body flange 28 are potential leak passages between the interior and exterior of the container. Such leak passages would prevent not only the maintenance of the interior vacuum but also the securement of the body 22 to the base 10.
As a means of assembling the instant package, t-he three main elements thereof, the base 10 with the gasket 19 thereon, the product 20, and the body 22, are placed in a sealed chamber maintained under reduced pressure or vacuum. The three elements are brought together, such as by supporting the product on the central panel 12. and placing the body portion thereover or by placing the product within the body 22 and placing the base 10 over the open end of the body 22. The smooth lower surface of the ange 28 is then rmly pressed and held in intimate and sealing engagement with the upper surface of the gasket 19. By virtue of its confinement within the peripheral channel formed by the skirt 13, flange 15, and wall 16, the tab 30 will be disposed in an upstanding position, as shown in FIG. 2. The remainder of the package will have the configuration exemplified by the fragment shown in FIG. 3,. When in this position, the vacuum in the chamber is broken, thereby admitting atmospheric pressure into the chamber. However, due to the sealing engagement between the body ange 28, gasket 19, and base flange 15, the reduced pressure or vacuum within the package is maintained. lThis greater external pressure forces the body side wall 27 into intimate contact with the sides of the product and any noncontacting portion of the body end 24 into intimate contact with the top of the product. The pressing means which initially held the body ange 28 in intimate and sealing contact with the gasket 19 is then removed; and this intimate engaging and sealing contact is thereafter maintained by the force of the ambient, atmospheric pressure. As the atmospheric pressure forces the body side Wall 27 inwardly, it distorts this portion of the body out of its overall straight line conguration and into the congmration shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. If desired, the body 22 may be initially preformed in the shape shown in FIG. 2, i.e. with a shoulder adjacent the lower end of the wall 27 conforming to the base skirt 13, rather than with a straight side wall 27 as disclosed hereinbefore. In t-his position, the upper portion of the side wall 27 is in contact with the sides of the product; and the lower portion of the body side wall is held tightly against the outside surface of the skirt 13. This configuration provides the entire lower portion of the body side wall 27 with a substantially rigid, unyielding backup or support to prevent inward radial movement of this portion of the body and thus minimize the probability of accidental breaking or rupture of the hermetic seal between the body ange 28 and the gasket 19. As mentioned previously, the wall 16 of the body 10 tapers slightly inwardly and terminates in an inwardly rolled bead 17. This construction restricts the entrance to the channel formed by the skirt 13, ange 15, and wall 16, at the base of which lies the hermetic seal, and thereby protects the seal from accidental contact by a foreign body which might cause rupture of the seal.
As indicated previously, the outside cross-sectional dimensions of the upper end 23 of the body 22 (in this specific instance the diameter) are smaller than the corresponding dimensions between the inside surfaces of the skirt `13. Further, the base panel 12 is spaced above the base flange 15 a distance equal to the length of the skirt i13 to form a concavity in the base 10. This construction permits the concavity in the base 10 to fit securely over the upper end 23 and -a port-ion of the side wall 27 of another package, so that a plurality of packages can be superposed into a stable, vertical stack. This stacking yfeature is indicated by the dot-dash lines -in FIG. 2. Such a construction is highly advantageous, both in shipping to minimize lateral movement of the packages and thereby reduce shipping abuse and damage; and in providing an attractive display, while at the same time conserving space in a retail outlet for such packages. When so stacked, the bead 25 acts as a cushion, tending to minimize damage to the product.
To open the package shown in FIG. 2, it is necessary only to grasp manually the tab 30 and pull upwardly and/ or outwardly, thereby lifting the portion of the body flange 28 adjacent the tab out of sealing engagement with the gasket I19 and consequently breaking the vacuum within the container. The gasket 19 must provide, at most, only a weak bond between the body flange 28 and the base flange 15. This weak bond may be the result of little or no adhesion between the gasket 19 and either one or both of the flange surfaces in contact therewith; or of low cohesive strength within the gasket itself. Materials having either of these properties are well known in the art, such as solvent-free rubber composition and hydrocarbon waxes, mentioned hereinbefore, and are readily available. The purpose of this construction is to insure that upon breaking the internal vacuum, the remainder of the flange 28 may be easily peeled from the gasket 19 with a minimum of effort, thereby releasing the body 22 from the base 10. Some slight adhesion between the gasket 19 and body flange 28, although not essential to the instant invention, is desirable to aid in maintaining the package in a reclosed but unvacuumized condition after initial opening of the package and partial consumption of the product.
FIG. 4 shows a modified form of the invention wherein a rectangular base 32 is secured to a rectangular body 33. Aside from being rectangular, the base 32 is exactly the same as the base 10, having a central panel 34, a skirt 35 depending therefrom, a peripheral flange 36, and an upstanding wall 37 terminating in an inwardly curled bead 38. A rectangular gasket 39, similar in all respects to the gasket 19, is disposed on the flange 36. The product 20a, extending upwardly from the panel 34, is also substantially rectangular and may be an item such as a plurality of frankfurters. The body 33 also is similar to the body 22, having been preformed to conform substantially to the shape of the product. The body 33 has an end 40, a side wall 41 `depending therefrom which terminates in a horizontally, outwardly extending flange 42 in intimate and sealing engagement with the gasket 39. Although not shown, the end l40 may be surrounded by a bead similar to the bead 25. In the vacuumized package, the lower portion of the side wall 41 is in intimate contact with the skirt 35 (FIG. 5). Extending from one portion of the flange 42 is a pull tab 43. Shown in FIG. 4 and in enlarged scale in FIG. 5 are parallel score llines 44, 45 extending around the lower portion of the `body side wall 41 where the body side wall is backed up or supported by the skirt 35. The marginal side edge 4G of the tab i43 connects with score line 44 and the opposite marginal edge 47 of this tab connects with the score line 45.
In a manner similar to open-ing the package in FIG. 2, the tab 43 is grasped manually and pulled upwardly and/ `or outwardly. As with FIG. 2, this initial pulling lifts the body llange 42 connected to the tab 43, thereby breaking the vacuum. Upon continued pulling, the peripheral portion of the body side wall between the score lines 44, 45 is torn out or removed, thereby freeing the upper portion of the body for easy lifting. It is to be understood that the invention is not restricted to the particular score line shown, but that other scoring arrangements apparent to those skilled in the art are also operable.
Further, although the tabs 30 and 43 are preferred for ease of opening of the subject package, their presence in the subject container is not essential. The subject packvage could be opened, even in the absence of a tab, by manually pressing the body side wall above the base skirt inwardly, thereby distorting the body sufciently to cause the body ange to pull away from the gasket and thus break the vacuum. Obviously, the package could also be opened without using a pull tab by means of a sharp knife or other simple kitchen utensil.
In addition to the advantages set forth hereinbefore, the subject container has the additional advantage of being easily reclosable after initial opening. This is true whe-ther the container be of the shape shown in FIG. 2 wherein the entire body portion 22 is lifted from contact 'with the base '10; or if some 4form of scoring arrangement, as exemplified by FIG. 4, is used. Since the internal vacuum of the package is broken upon opening, the body will assume the shape shown in FIG. 3 upon reclosure. Since the contents of many packages, such as sliced meat, are not consumed in their entirety after initially opening the package, this reclosure feature is a vdecided advantage, Ikeeping the unused portion -of the product free of foreign tastes and odors and contamination by foreign bodies. Further, reclosure of the package minimizes drying out and oxidation of the unused portion of the product during refrigerated storage. This reclosure feature would be especially advantageous for outdoor eating or picnics, whereby the unused portion of the food could be kept covered and protected from insects.
It is though that the invention and many of its attendant advantages will be understood from the foregoing description and it will be apparent that various changes may be made in the form, construction, and arrangement of the parts without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention or sacrificing all of its material advantages, the form hereinbefore described being merely a preferred embodiment thereof.
1. A package, the interior of which is vacuumized, comprising: a substantially rigid base, said base including a central panel, a skirt depending from the periphery of said panel, a ange extending outwardly from the lower periphery of said skirt, and a curl integral with the periphery of said ange; an annular gasket on said flange and surrounding the lower periphery of said skirt; a substantially regularly shaped product in contact -with and extending upwardly from said panel; and a one-piece selfsupporting flexible preformed body enclosing said product and secured to said base; said body including an upper end wall at least a portion of the inside surface of which is in intimate contact with the upper surface of said product, a side wall depending from the periphery of said end wall with most of its inside surface in intimate contact with the sides of said product and its inside Vsurface adjacent its lower end in intimate contact with the outside surface of said skirt, and a flange extending outwardly from the lower periphery of said side wall and in engagement with said gasket to form an hermetic seal therebetween; said curl being laterally spaced from said skirt and the body side Wall in contact therevn'th whereby the securement of said body to said base is free from compression of said body side wall between said skirt and said curl and is maintained principally by atmospheric pressure, said curl also extending above said seal to protect said seal against accidental rupture.
2. The package set forth in claim 1 wherein said base is composed of sheet metal and said body is composed of substantially transparent thermoplastic.
3. The package set forth in claim 1 wherein said product is meat.
4. The package set forth in claim 1 wherein said product is sliced meat.
5. The package set forth in claim l wherein said body end wall has a substantially planar portion and an upstanding peripheral bead surrounding said planar portion and merging with said body side wall.
6. The package set forth in claim 1 lwhereu a portion of said body flange is extended beyond said seal to form a tab, said tab being unsecured and adapted to be grasped and pulled to facilitate breaking the vacuum and thereby opening said package.
7. The package set forth in claim 6 wherein said tab connects with a scored portion in said body side Wall, whereby upon grasping and pulling said tab, a portion of said side wall is removed to facilitate breaking the vacuum and opening said package.
8. The package set forth in claim l wherein said panel and said depending skirt form a concavity in the bottom of said package having cross-sectional dimensions greater than the corresponding dimensions of said upper end wall to permit the upper end wall of one package to it within the concavity of another package, thereby facilitating stacking of said packages.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,137,745 White Nov. 22, 1938 2,695,115 Roop Nov. 23, 1954 2,777,601 Cheeley Ian. 15, 1957 2,864,710 Pottle et al. Dec. 16, 1958 2,873,023 Erickson Feb. 10, 1959 2,924,330 Ballard c Feb. 9, 1960 FOREIGN PATENTS `1,176,195 France Nov. 24, 1958
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|U.S. Classification||426/122, 426/129, 206/461, 426/123|