US 3650059 A
A marking device or label for identifying wires, conduits or the like. The label is made from a flattened tube of a suitable plastic material, preferably one that exhibits stress-whitening characteristics, passed through an embossing tool, such as a hand operated tool which produces on the spot labels so that desired indicia may be embossed thereon, and the embossed material is then returned to its open tubular shape, thereby permitting the same to be telescopically passed over a wire, cable or conduit as a means of identification. Alternatively, the embossed tube may be telescopically inserted over a flexible strap or wire and the strap may then be used to tie the label over an object having a large diameter.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [151 3,650,059
Johnson Mar. 21, 1972 54] EMBOSSED TUBULAR LABEL FOR FOREIGN PATENTS on APPLICATIONS IDENTIFYING WIRES AND THE LIKE  Inventor: Peter E. Johnson, Martinez, Calif.
 Assignee: Dymo Industries, Inc., Berkeley, Calif.
 Filed: Sept. 5, 1969  Appl. No.: 862,610
 [1.5. CI ..40/3l6  Fleld ofsearch ..40/316, 321,310,317, 322; 264/95, 210, 284, 293
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,491,947 12/1949 Bardash 3,061,873 11/1962 Supitilov...
3,088,237 5/1963 Plummer 3,212,207 10/1965 Searing ..40/316 1,115,332 5/1968 Great Britain ..40/316 Primary Examiner-Robert W. Michell Assistant Examiner-L. R. Oremland Attorney-Harris Zimmerman  ABSTRACT A marking device or label for identifying wires, conduits or the like. The label is made from a flattened tube of a suitable plastic material, preferably one that exhibim stress-whitening characteristics, passed through an embossing tool, such as a hand operated tool which produces on the spot labels so that desired indicia may be embossed thereon, and the embossed material is then returned to its open tubular shape, thereby permitting the same to be telescopically passed over a wire, cable or conduit as a means of identification. Alternatively, the embossed tube may be telescopically inserted over a flexible strap or wire and the strap may then be used to tie the label over an object having a large diameter.
5 Claims, 13 Drawing Figures PATENTED MAR 21 I972 sum 1 UF 2 INVENTOR.
W M d E m ATfOI/VEYS PATENTEUMAR21 1972 3,650 O59 sum 2 UF 2 PE 75/? E. dam/50m INVEN TOR.
ATTOP/VEY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Embossed plastic labels of the type shown in US. Pat. Nos. 2,925,625, 2,996,822, and 3,036,945 have achieved considerable commercial success as a means for supplying on the spot producible identification for practically any article or object. Such embossed labels have fallen short of satisfactorily meeting the labeling requirements in the marking or identification of wires or conduits, and in identifying articles where the normally used pressure sensitive adhesive is inadequate to attach the label to the article.
As is well known, it is frequently desirable to place identification markers on wires, particularly where there are a plurality of wires, each possessing a different function, or each going to a different terminal. It is difficult, if not practically impossible to use a self-sticking embossed label of the type shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,036,945 on a wire, since it cannot be properly placed and secured longitudinally of the wire, and if it is wrapped around the wire, some, if not most of the embossed indicia will be hidden, or portions of the label will undesirably extend radially outwardly from the wire.
In other cases, for example, in a wrist band used to identify hospital patients, a stress-whitened label is desirable, but it is not practical nor desirable to adhesively attach such a label to a person's skin. Similarly, if it is desired to place such a label on a tree or other object having a large diameter, the surface characteristics may not permit proper or adequate securing of the adhesive backing of the label.
It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide an embossed label of tubular configuration, with the embossed indicia extending longitudinally along the axis of the same, so that a label, bearing indicia of any desired length, may be slid in telescopic engagement over a cable, conduit, wire, or the like as a means of ready identification, or alterna tively, slid over a flexible strap or the like, and the strap then used to secure the label to some object or article.
A further object of the invention is to provide a label as above described in which the embossed indicia produced thereon will have a color contrasting to the clear or colored background material of the unembossed portions of the label.
Another object of the invention is to provide a label as above described which is capable of being embossed in commercially available hand operated embossing tools, such as the type disclosed in US. Pat. Nos. 3,006,451, 3,083,807 and the like.
THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a perspective view of a portion of a hand operated embossing tool with a label of the present invention in the process of being embossed;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the extruded plastic tube forming the first step in the production of the label;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the tube shown flattened;
FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic representation of the manner of flattening the tube;
FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic representation of the embossing operation;
FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of the flattened tube or strip after the embossing operation;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the finished label as applied to a wire conduit;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a finished label with a tab cut provided thereon;
FIGS. 9, 10, 11, and 12 are views of a flattened tube from which the label is produced, but illustrating four different methods of constructing the tube; and
FIG. 13 is a view similar to FIG. 7, but illustrating a finished label inserted over a strap or band which may be tied to some article, such as a person's wrist.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In broad terms, the present invention relates to an embossed label, and the process for producing same, the said label being of sleevelike or tubular form so as to permit the same to be telescopically engaged with a wire, conduit, cable, strap, band or the like. It will be understood that the label of the present invention is not restricted to use with an electric conduit or wire per se, but for the sake of explanation only, the same may be referred to in the description or claims. It might also be explained that the base material from which the label is made is preferably a rigid plastic material which stress-whitens upon embossment, whereby the indicia produced on the label will present a contrast color to the base color of the unembossed portions of the label. Typical examples of material which produce this stress-whitening phenomenon upon embossment are disclosed in the previously mentioned patents. Preferably, however, for the purpose of the present invention, the label material is formed from polypropylene, which not only exhibits the desired stress-whitening, but which provides ready tubular extrusion characteristics and subsequent flattenings, as will be more fully discussed hereinafter.
Referring first to FIGS. 2 through 6, the various steps in providing the label of this invention are diagrammatically disclosed. In FIG. 2, there is shown an extruded tube 12 formed of polypropylene, or other stress-whitening type of plastic material. The tube or sleevelike element 12 is here illustrated as having a circular cross-sectional form, but the same can be elliptical or other cross-sectional configuration which will permit a subsequent flattening operation.
This latter flattening step is shown in FIG. 4 wherein opposed forces 14 such as pressure rolls (not shown) engage diametrically opposed portions of the tube 12 to compress the same into a longitudinally extending strip 16 having an upper layer 18 and a bottom layer 20. Any suitable press or rolls can be provided for this step which produces the flattened strip 16, best shown in FIG. 3.
Next, as diagrammatically represented in FIG. 5, and more clearly illustrated in FIG. 1, the strip 16 is passed between suitable embossing dies 22 and 24. As shown, die 24 is a male die, while die 22 comprises the corresponding female die. This will result in raised indicia 26 appearing on the upper strip layer 18, while the lower layer 20 will be provided with indented indicia 28 corresponding to the male embossed indicia 26.
Any suitable embossing device may be used for the embossing operation, and as shown in FIG. I, a portion of a hand operated embossing tool 30 is provided, of the general type disclosed in the aforesaid U.S. Letters Patent. Such tools are capable of storing a supply of tape to be embossed, sequentially advancing a strip of tape past an embossing station, with means for readily changing the dies at the station to permit the selective desired indicia to be embossed. Thus, as illustrated, the strip 16 is shown emerging from the embossing tool with certain embossed indicia 26 appearing on the upper layer 18. It will also be understood that in place of the matching male and female dies, it is also possible to only use the female die 22 with a deformable male plug movable into such die for creating the desired embossment. If such a plug is disposed within the tube 12, only the upper layer 18 of the tube will be embossed, and no indented indicia corresponding to indicia 28 will be formed on the bottom layer 20, or if the plug is disposed subjacent strip 16, both layers will be embossed as previously discussed.
While not illustrated in the drawing, the double layer strip 16 is capable of being rolled or coiled for storage in the tool 30, and may be fed past the embossing dies 32 in the same manner as a single layer strip, or a conventional strip laminate consisting of a plastic layer, an adhesive coating and a protective liner.
Following the embossing step and a cutting of the embossed portion ofthe strip to provide a label 36, the strip is generally returned to its original tubular form such as by pushing on the opposed edges of the strip, thereby forcing the layers apart. The label 36 may then be inserted on the desired wire 38, as shown in FIG. 7, to complete the identification process for such wire.
To facilitate the insertion of the tubular label 36 on the wire, after the label is embossed by the tool 34 a tab cutoff mechanism of the type shown in US. Pat. No. 3,133,495 is utilized to cut the embossed label from the remaining coiled supply of the strip 16.
As shown in FIG. 8, after the last desired embossment, such as indicated at 40, is made, the entire strip is cut to provide a label end 42. Simultaneously, the upper layer 18 is slit inwardly of the end as shown at 44. This cut 44 only extends through one of the layers of the strip and makes it easier to open up the strip and permit its telescopic insertion over a wire or the like.
By way of example, the extruded polypropylene tube 112 may have a wall thickness of from about 2 to 25 mills, and the strip 16 is from about one-quarter to one-half inch wide, to permit its passage through a conventional hand operated tape embosser. With regard to the desirability of having the embossed indicia appear as stress-whitened characters, it is apparent that the tube 12 may be formed from any of the above mentioned materials. In some instances, it may be desirable to have the tube formed of a clear plastic so that the conduit and the color thereof on which the tube is subsequently placed may be viewed through the unembossed portions of the tube. However, where it is desired to have the background colored so as to either provide a color identification code or to have the stress-whitened embossed indicia more legible, several different techniques may be utilized. First, it is possible to mix the desired pigment with the polypropylene or other plastic to provide the desired base color. Secondly, it is possible to use a clear plastic tube 12, and coat the same with a layer or laminate of the desired color as indicated by the layer 46 in FIG. 4 only.
Another method of providing a suitable desired background color is illustrated in H6. 9 of the drawing. As here shown, the strip 16 is formed of a clear plastic which exhibits the desired stress-whitening characteristics. After the tube has been ern bossed, a colored strip 48 is inserted in the tube which will normally be urged against the underside of the embossed layer by the wire. This will of course serve the dual function of providing a simple color code and also make the embossed indicia more clearly readable due to the sharper contrast in color. The strip 48 may be formed of plastic or other suitable material.
The modifications of the invention above discussed all lend themselves to relatively simple production and use techniques. It has been found, however, that when a strip of emhossable material is passed through matching male and female embossing dies, the simultaneous embossing of both layers l8 and 20 of the strip causes the layers to stick together. This is primarily the result of the lower layer indentation 28 mating with the embossment 26. Obviously, using a rubber plug or male die positioned within the tube would overcome this problem, but the apparatus to perform such an operation presents other difficulties. To overcome the foregoing, the modified form of invention illustrated in H6. lit) is proposed. In this modification, a flattened tubular strip 52 is provided in which the upper layer 54 is formed of an embossable and preferably stress-whitening type of material. The lower layer is formed or" a stretchable and easily deformable material such as polyethylene, or a rubber-like material which will not fully emboss. The two layers may be heat sealed or otherwise secured together along their longitudinal edges, as indicated at 53. Thus, even after passing the strip 52 through the conventional embossing tool Ell, only the layer 54 will be embossed, and the two layers 54 and 56 may be readily separated for insertion over a wire or the like.
Another modification dealing with this same problem is illustrated in FIG. ill. in this disclosure, the edge securing of HG. Ml is eliminated by first extruding a tube 60 of a stretchable and non-embossab e material of polyethylene or the like.
Along the upper portion of the tube is lamenated a layer 62 of embossable material. Preferably, the layer 62 is of a clear and stress-whitening plastic, while the tube 64) may be any desired color.
The same general result may be obtained with the modification shown in FIG. 12 wherein a colored layer or liner 64 is interposed between the non-embossable tube 60 and the embossable layer 62.
As previously mentioned, there are some instances where the tubular label of the present invention is not intended to actually identify the wire, etc., on which it is placed, but is intended to identify a different article. in FIG. 13, an embossed tubular label 66 is shown in telescopic engagement with a flexible band or strap 66 of any desired length. The strap 68 may be used to embrace the wrist of a hospital patient, for exampie, or may be tied or wrapped around any object, such as a tree trunk, a handle, or the like.
What is claimed is:
ll. A method of producing labels for wires and the like which comprises forming a plastic material into tubular configuration, flattening said tubular configuration into a double layer strip, passing said strip between embossing dies and actuating said dies to produce raised embossed indicia on one exposed surface of said strip, and then expanding said strip back into a generally tubular configuration whereby the same may be inserted over the wire or other element to be identified.
2. A method as set forth in claim 11 in which said plastic material is extruded into a continuous tubular configuration.
3. A method as set forth in claim l in which at least the embossed portion of said plastic material is selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and copolymers of polyvinyl chloride.
A method as set forth in claim 3 in which said strip is coiled prior to the embossment thereof.
5. A embossable plastic label comprising a continuous sleevelilre body formed of a material capable of being flattoned to provide a longitudinally extending strip having an upper layer and a lower layer whereby such strip may be passed between embossing dies, said upper layer being formed of an embossable plastic material which produces stresswhitened indicia upon embossment, said lower layer being formed of a stretchable and relatively non-embossable material, said layers being permanently connected together adjacent their edges to provide said body, said strip having embossed indicia on at least the upper layer of said strip, the material of said strip permitting expansion thereof into a generally tubular configuration after being embossed to encircle a wire or the like.