1 INSERT FOR CONTAINER PACKAGING
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a divisional patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/435,068 filed on May 4, 2009, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,854,323 which is a divisional application ofU.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/967,669, filed on Dec. 31, 2007, now abandoned, both of which priority is claimed to and are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
The present invention pertains to methods and devices for packing materials in a container, and more particularly, methods and devices for tightly packing rod-like material in a canister.
Countless products are packaged and shipped to end-users in this country and around the globe every day. Many products are placed in crates or boxes and filled with packing material to minimize or prevent damage during shipping. In some circumstances, products are wrapped with layers of plastic material encapsulated with air, known commonly as bubble wrap, which helps protect the product from shock or impact. Other containers all filled with packing materials made from polymers expanded into foam through the use of heat, typically in the fonn of steam. Polystyrene is an example of one such type of polymer. These air filled “peanuts” also function to protect the packaged products by absorbing force thereby minimizing damage to the surrounding article.
Some products are stored and packaged in canisters, which may be sealed to prevent the enclosed items from exposure to ambient conditions. Some canisters are hermetically sealed to prevent exposure to air and/ or humidity, which may oxidize or otherwise damage the contents. Such containers help preserve the freshness of the packaged items. Examples of packaged products range from edible substances to industrial consumables. In many cases, the same or similarly sized canisters are used to package different quantities of materials. For a particular quantity of product, extra space remaining in the canister may allow the product to jostle about during shipment providing opportunity for individual articles to collide with each other and the walls of the canister thereby increasing the likelihood of damage.
One particular example of packaged articles relates to welding consumables, and more specifically welding electrodes. Stick welding is a common welding process. The process utilizes a finite length welding rod that is consumed by establishing an arc between the electrode and the work piece. The electrodes function best when stored in air tight containers. Usually, one size of container stores a variety of welding rod types where differences in density translate into one welding rod that is more loosely or tightly packed than another. Extra space within the container often causes damage to the welding rods as its coating is prone to fracture when the welding rods collide with each other during shipment.
It would be useful to incorporate a packing insert that takes up the volume of extra space in the container without regard to how much material is stored inside. However, packing material, such as that mentioned above, is not practical for use in these types of application. It is a laborious process to insert bubble wrap, particularly into a canister, without damaging or puncturing the inflated cells. Moreover, when deflated, the
cells of the bubble wrap are rendered useless in filling up the excess space. Foamedpolymers are subject to the same result. Moreover, this type of packing material tends to crumble and cling to the contents of the canister requiring the user to clean off debris with each rod removed.
What is needed is a packing insert that automatically adjusts to the amount of product stored in a container. The packing insert should be easy to apply and should minimize the damage of the container articles due to jostling. The embodiments of the subject invention obviate aforementioned problems.
In one embodiment of the subject invention a container insert used in packaging one or more associated articles in an associated container having at least a first wall includes an insert body being operable to substantially tightly pack associated material with respect to the at least a first wall of the associated container, wherein the insert body is capable of expanding and contracting responsive to the amount of associated material placed into the associated container.
In one aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, the insert body is resiliently deformable for storing elastic energy used to tightly pack the associated material.
In another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, at least a first portion of the insert body is coiled for storing elastic energy.
In yet another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, the insert body is generally longitudinal having a longitudinal axis, wherein the insert body is helically configured substantially along the entire length of the longitudinal axis.
In even another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, the insert body is unitary and contiguously formed and may be constructed from a polymer material such as polypropylene.
In yet another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, the insert body does not encapsulate fluid substances. Fluid substances may refer to either liquid or gaseous substances. By encapsulating it is meant that the insert body does not fonn an enclosed shell or housing that isolates fluid substances within an interior region of the insert body with respect to an exterior region of the insert body. Rather, the insert body may include a generally open center portion.
In another embodiment of the subject invention a system for packaging associated material includes a container having one or more wall members for containing the associated material, and means for packing the associated material in the container, wherein said means for packing stores elastic energy to substantially tightly pack the associated material with respect to the one or more wall members.
In one aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, said means for packing automatically expands and contracts responsive to the amount of associated material stored in the container.
In yet another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, said means comprises at least a first portion of elastically defonnable material, wherein the at least a first portion of elastically defonnable material comprises a band of contiguously formed thermoplastic material.
In still another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, said means comprises a coil of material spirally configured with respect to a central axis.
In even another aspect of the embodiments of the subject invention, the container may be hennetically sealed or sealed with a removable cap.