US20060289554A1 - Dispensing container - Google Patents

Dispensing container Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060289554A1
US20060289554A1 US11/166,528 US16652805A US2006289554A1 US 20060289554 A1 US20060289554 A1 US 20060289554A1 US 16652805 A US16652805 A US 16652805A US 2006289554 A1 US2006289554 A1 US 2006289554A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
container
stack
articles
dispensing
panel
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/166,528
Inventor
Joseph Mitchell
Debra Welchel
Patsy Wilkes
Richard Wolkowicz
Ning Yang
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Kimberly Clark Worldwide Inc
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Kimberly Clark Worldwide Inc
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Application filed by Kimberly Clark Worldwide Inc filed Critical Kimberly Clark Worldwide Inc
Priority to US11/166,528 priority Critical patent/US20060289554A1/en
Assigned to KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. reassignment KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: YANG, NING, MITCHELL, JOSEPH, WELCHEL, DEBRA N., WILKES, PATSY M., WOLKOWICZ, RICHARD I.
Publication of US20060289554A1 publication Critical patent/US20060289554A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D83/00Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents
    • B65D83/08Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents for dispensing thin flat articles in succession
    • B65D83/0805Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents for dispensing thin flat articles in succession through an aperture in a wall
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47KSANITARY EQUIPMENT NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; TOILET ACCESSORIES
    • A47K10/00Body-drying implements; Toilet paper; Holders therefor
    • A47K10/24Towel dispensers, e.g. for piled-up or folded textile towels; Toilet-paper dispensers; Dispensers for piled-up or folded textile towels provided or not with devices for taking-up soiled towels as far as not mechanically driven
    • A47K10/32Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper
    • A47K10/42Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper dispensing from a store of single sheets, e.g. stacked
    • A47K10/421Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper dispensing from a store of single sheets, e.g. stacked dispensing from the top of the dispenser
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47KSANITARY EQUIPMENT NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; TOILET ACCESSORIES
    • A47K10/00Body-drying implements; Toilet paper; Holders therefor
    • A47K10/24Towel dispensers, e.g. for piled-up or folded textile towels; Toilet-paper dispensers; Dispensers for piled-up or folded textile towels provided or not with devices for taking-up soiled towels as far as not mechanically driven
    • A47K10/32Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper
    • A47K10/42Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper dispensing from a store of single sheets, e.g. stacked
    • A47K10/424Dispensers for paper towels or toilet-paper dispensing from a store of single sheets, e.g. stacked dispensing from the bottom part of the dispenser
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D83/00Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents
    • B65D83/08Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents for dispensing thin flat articles in succession
    • B65D83/0894Containers or packages with special means for dispensing contents for dispensing thin flat articles in succession the articles being positioned relative to one another or to the container in a special way, e.g. for facilitating dispensing, without additional support

Abstract

A disposable, non-refillable container for holding and gravity-fed dispensing folded articles is disclosed. The container holds multiple stacks or articles. The container is non-permanently affixed to a surface with a mount and the container dispenses an individual stack of articles from an individual dispensing opening when that stack is configured substantially above the dispensing opening. To dispense another stack of articles within the container, the container is reconfigured such that the next stack of articles is substantially above the dispensing opening. The container may also include an area of the container adapted for use as a waste receptacle.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • Various types of dispensers and dispensing containers have been developed to provide ready availability of articles to users. Such dispensers are common for dispensing paper products such as facial tissues, napkins, paper towels and the like. One common type of dispensing container dispenses paper products from the top of the container. Such containers often utilize a stack of folded products that are interfolded with each other so that when the top product is dispensed through the dispensing opening of the container, the next product is pulled to the dispensing opening for future dispensing.
  • While such dispensing containers conveniently provide the user with folded products (e.g., folded tissues), they are inherently limited in their capacity. The stack height of products in such top dispensing containers is limited by the dimensions of the paper product being dispensed. If the box is too high the next product to be dispensed will not be pulled to the dispensing opening with the product being dispensed. Instead, the next product is left down inside the dispenser where it can be very difficult to remove; the user has to reach down through the dispensing opening into the dispenser to retrieve the product.
  • One solution to the limited capacity of such dispensing containers is to use a container having two dispensing sections. When the first section is fully dispensed from the top, the container is flipped over and the second section is dispensed. The container essentially acts as two containers that are attached back-to-back. However, each dispensing section of such a container will have the same type of height limitation as the single stack dispensing discussed above.
  • Another type of solution is to use a mechanical or spring means to push the paper products toward the dispensing opening. These types of dispensers are often found in both vertical and horizontal configurations. However, such a mechanical solution requires additional parts which add costs and can malfunction or break. Such solutions are not economical in the context of disposable dispensing containers.
  • Gravity-fed dispensing is another solution to these issues. With gravity-fed dispensing the products are dispensed from the bottom of the stack. Gravity ensures that the next product is always available at the dispensing opening. However, the height of the stack in gravity-fed dispensing is also limited. The entire weight of the stack rests on the product that is being dispensed. If the stack is too heavy, the product being dispensed can be difficult to dispense; the product can be damaged or more product than is needed may be removed from the dispenser. This becomes even a greater issue when dealing with heavier paper products, such as heavy wipers or towels.
  • Another issue with dispensers of all types is that they are usually found in fixed locations. For example, the towel dispensers in a public restroom are generally fixed to the wall. A person who is looking to provide such paper products has to generally install a dispenser, but is then stuck with the location of that dispenser. It is difficult for those who want to provide paper products in a temporary location, or who wish to frequently change the dispenser location, to do so with traditional mounted dispensers.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In light of the problems and issues discussed above, it is desired to have a dispensing container that is able to dispense a large quantity of folded articles. It is also desired that the container be disposable and non-refillable. It is further desired that such a container be capable of being easily located and/or relocated wherever the user desires.
  • The present invention is directed to a disposable, non-refillable container for holding and gravity-fed dispensing folded articles. The container has a front panel, a back panel, an upper panel, a lower panel having at least a first dispensing opening, a second dispensing opening, a side panel extending between the upper panel and the lower panel, and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface. The first dispensing opening is adapted for dispensing a first stack of folded articles in a first dispensing direction and the second dispensing opening is adapted for dispensing a second stack of folded articles in a second dispensing direction. The first stack of articles are dispensed through the first dispensing opening in the first dispensing direction when the container is attached to the support surface in a configuration such that the first stack of articles is substantially above the first dispensing opening. The second stack of articles are dispensed through the second dispensing opening when the container is reconfigured and attached to the support surface in configuration such that the second stack of article is substantially above the second dispensing opening. In some embodiments, the folded articles of the first stack are different than the folded articles of the second stack.
  • In particular embodiments, the container has a removable portion on the lower panel that forms the first dispensing opening when removed. In some embodiments, the container has a removable portion on the upper panel that forms the second dispensing opening when removed.
  • In some embodiments of the inventions, the container may dispense a third stack of folded articles in a third dispensing direction and may even dispense a fourth stack of folded articles in a fourth dispensing direction.
  • In further embodiments of the invention, the container may include at least one area adapted for use as a waste receptacle. The waste receptacle may be the area previously occupied by the first stack adapted for use as a waste receptacle after the first stack has been dispensed.
  • In various embodiments of the invention, the first stack of folded articles may be a plurality of folded articles each having an effective dispensing length dimension and the first stack having a pre-dispensing height dimension which is greater than the effective dispensing length dimension of an individual folded article within the first stack. The first stack of articles may be horizontally adjacent or may be vertically adjacent to the second stack of articles. In some embodiments the articles of the first stack may be different that those of the second stack.
  • In some embodiments of the invention, the container may have a weight support structure that supports the weight of the second stack of articles while the first stack of articles is being dispensed. This weight support structure may be formed from an end tab of the back panel of the container, from a portion of one of the side panels of the container, or possibly from portions of two side panels of the container.
  • In various embodiments, the mount of the container may be an adhesive. Alternatively, the mount may be a hook material that affixes to a loop material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface; conversely, the mount may be a loop material that affixes to a hook material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface. The mount may be a portion of the back panel that is adapted to attach to a mounting bracket or that is adapted to receive a mounting bracket.
  • The invention is also directed to a system for holding and gravity-fed dispensing multiple stacks of folded articles. The system is made up of two or more stacks of articles, a container which is adapted to contain the plurality of stacks of articles, and a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface. Each stack within the plurality of stacks of articles has a dispensing direction such that the articles of a particular stack will only dispense when the dispensing direction of that particular stack is in a downward direction. At least two of the stacks of articles have different dispensing directions such that, at least on one occasion, the container must be detached from the substantially vertical surface, reconfigured and re-attached to the substantially vertical surface to dispense all of the stacks of articles. In embodiments of the invention, the articles of at least one of the stacks may be different that the articles of at least one other stack.
  • In an embodiment of the invention, the container may include at least one area adapted for use as a waste receptacle.
  • Finally, in some embodiments, the mount of the system may be an adhesive. Alternatively, the mount may be a hook material that affixes to a loop material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface; conversely, the mount may a loop material that affixes to a hook material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface. The mount may be a portion of the container that is adapted to attach to a mounting bracket or that is adapted to receive a mounting bracket.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the container of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a single folded article as may be contained and dispensed by the container of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3B is an end view schematic of an interfolded stack of the folded articles of FIG. 3A (not to scale) such as may be contained and dispensed by the container of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4A is a rear perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing the end tab of a back panel folded in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 4B is a side cross-sectional view of the container illustrated in FIG. 4A.
  • FIG. 5A is a rear perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing a portion of the back panel folded in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 5B is a side cross-sectional view of the container illustrated in FIG. 5A and showing a portion of the back panel folded down in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 6A is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing a portion of a side panel folded in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 6B is a front cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the container of the present invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 6A, showing a portion of both side panels folded in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 6C is a front cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 6A, showing a portion of both side panels folded in to the interior of the container.
  • FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention.
  • FIG. 8 is a front cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing four dispensing sections.
  • FIG. 9 is a front cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing multiple dispensing and trash receptacle sections.
  • FIG. 10 is a front cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention showing multiple dispensing sections and a trash receptacle section.
  • FIG. 11A is a back view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.
  • FIG. 11B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 11A attached to a substantially vertical surface.
  • FIG. 12A is a back view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.
  • FIG. 12B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 12A attached to a substantially vertical surface.
  • FIG. 13A is a back view of another embodiment of the container of the present invention with a mounting means.
  • FIG. 13B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 13A attached to a substantially vertical surface.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The present invention is a disposable, non-refillable container capable of gravity-fed dispensing of two or more stacks of folded articles. The articles dispensed by the container of the invention are any articles capable of being dispensed. Such articles may include, but are not limited to, facial tissue, toilet tissue, napkins, wipers, towels, absorbent personal care products (e.g., diapers, feminine care products, incontinence products), and the like. Such articles may be individually folded and stacked on top of each other or may be interfolded such that the folds of each individual folded article partially overlaps the folds of the folded article that is adjacent in the stack.
  • The plurality of stacks of articles to be dispensed by the containers of the present invention may be stacks of all the same type of articles. For instance, all of the stacks may be paper towels. Alternatively, the individual stacks of the container may each be a different type of article or the stacks may be a combination of similar and different types of articles. For example, a single container may dispense one or more stacks of facial tissue and one or more stacks of paper towel. In another example, the same container may dispense a stack of towels, a stack of tissues, a stack of wipers, and a stack of absorbent personal care products. In a further example, the same container may have multiple stacks of the same type of articles (e.g., diapers), but each stack may be a different size of that type of article (e.g., a stack of small-sized diapers, a stack of medium-size diapers, and a stack of large-size diapers). The articles and stacks contained within the container may be any combination of articles and attributes that the user desires.
  • The container of the present invention is intended to be a disposable, non-refillable dispenser of articles. The articles are loaded into the container during manufacture and delivered to the user as a single dispensing system. The user may use the dispenser on any substantially vertical surface they desire and dispose of the entire container when the articles have been dispensed; users need only to replace the empty container with a new container rather than refill the container. This reduces the amount of attention the user has to give the container and prevents problems with container overstuffing. Additionally, such a disposable container may be used wherever the user wishes to dispense the articles of the container; the user is not limited to dispensing locations where traditional dispensers have been installed (e.g., in or on a wall in a public restroom).
  • The container may be made of any material that can contain and dispense the articles of the present invention. Preferably, the container may be made of heavy paper, cardboard or plastic, but it may be made of any other suitable material within the scope of the invention.
  • The containers of the present invention dispense the articles they contain with the aid of gravity. Prior art top or horizontal dispensing containers rely on interfolding of the articles or the use of mechanical springs or other such devices to push or pull the stack of articles to the dispensing opening. As discussed earlier, such additional parts add cost to those dispensers and may malfunction or break. The container of the present invention relies on gravity to dispense the articles while the container is in a substantially vertical configuration. As used herein, “substantially vertical” refers to a surface or container configuration that is more vertical in nature than it is horizontal in nature; i.e., perfectly vertical to less than forty-five degrees from perfectly vertical.
  • As discussed above, prior art vertically oriented dispensers use interfolded articles to dispense those articles from the top of such dispensers. Gravity tends to work against those types of dispensers. As the article trailing the article being dispensed is being pulled upward by the preceding article, it is also being pulled in the opposite direction by gravity. Often, such articles will fall back into the dispenser and the user will have to reach down into the dispenser to retrieve the article. By dispensing from the bottom of the container, the container of the present invention dispenses with the aid of gravity rather than working against gravity.
  • The containers of the present invention, such as the container 10 shown in FIG. 1, dispense from a bottom surface of the container. In such a configuration, the stack of articles that is being dispensed will be substantially above the individual article being dispensed. The surface through which the articles are dispensed will often be the bottommost surface of the container 10. It is possible that the container may have surfaces lower than the surface through which the articles are dispensed, but in those cases the article being dispensed will still be dispensed from the bottom of a stack of articles such that the stack will be substantially above the article being dispensed.
  • There are many configurations with multiple stacks of articles that are embodied in the present invention. In FIG. 1, the container 10 contains two stacks of articles that are horizontally adjacent to each other with a vertical wall 28 separating the two stacks, as seen in the cutout of FIG. 1. The container 10 has a front panel 25, an upper panel 26, a lower panel 24 opposite the upper panel 26, side panels 27, and back panel (not shown in FIG. 1) opposite the front panel 25 that forms the final side of the container 10. It should be understood that the terms “front”, “back”, “upper”, “lower”, and “side” are used only to describe the relative positions of each panel. All the panels 24, 25, 26 and 27 cooperate to provide the generally polygonally-shaped container 10 with inner compartments configured to hold multiple stacks of articles. During dispensing, as will be described below, any panel of the container 10 may be positioned lower than rest of the container 10 to allow gravity-fed dispensing through an opening in that panel.
  • The container 10 is shown as dispensing an article 12 from a first stack 41 of articles through the first dispensing opening 21. The first dispensing opening 21 is shown as an oval opening through the lower panel 24. However, the first dispensing opening 21 may be any closed-loop shape that allows for regular dispensing of the articles 12. Additionally, the first dispensing opening 21 may be formed by the removal of a portion of the lower panel 24 defined by a line of weakness, or the first dispensing opening 21 may be present on the container 10 as it is delivered to the user. The line of weakness may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material.
  • As seen in FIG. 1, the articles 12 of the first stack 41 are dispensed when the first stack 41 is oriented above the first dispensing opening 21. The dispensing direction of the first stack 41 is in the direction of the first dispensing opening 21 and the first stack 41 will only dispense when that dispensing direction is aligned downward (i.e., in the same direction as gravity is pulling on the articles 12).
  • The container of FIG. 1 also has a second stack 42 of articles and a second dispensing opening 22 located on the upper panel 26. The second dispensing opening 22 is formed by the removal of a portion of upper panel 26 defined by a line of weakness 23 as shown in the figure. The line of weakness 23 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material. Like the first dispensing opening 21, the second dispensing opening 22 is also shown as an oval, but it may by any closed-loop shape that allows for regular dispensing of the articles 12.
  • After dispensing the first stack 41 through the first dispensing opening 21, the second stack 42 may be dispensed by rotating the container 10, 180-degrees such that the second dispensing opening 22 is the lowest surface of the container 10. The dispensing direction of the second stack 42 is in the direction of the second dispensing opening 22 and the second stack 42 will only dispense when that dispensing direction is aligned downward (i.e., in the same direction as gravity is pulling on the articles 12). The dispensing direction for the first stack 41 is in the opposite direction of the second stack 42, thus the need for the 180-degree rotation of the container 10 to dispense the second stack 42.
  • Instead of the stacks being horizontally adjacent, as in FIG. 1, the container 10 may be configured such that the stacks of articles are vertically adjacent, such as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 2. The container of FIG. 2 is similar to that of FIG. 1, but the first stack 41 is separated from the second stack 42 by a weight supporting structure 31. As seen in the cutout of FIG. 2, the weight supporting structure 31 supports the second stack 42 while the first stack 41 is being dispensed.
  • As before, the first stack 41 is dispensed through a first dispensing opening 21 in the lower panel 24. The articles 21 are again dispensed in a downward direction; the articles 12 of the first stack 41 are dispensed when the first dispensing direction is pointed downward. To dispense the second stack 42 of articles 12, the container 10 must be rotated 180-degrees for the second dispensing direction (i.e., the direction toward the second dispensing opening 22) to be pointed downward. Removing the portion of the upper panel 26 defined by the line of weakness 23 forms the second dispensing opening 22. The second stack 42 of articles may then be dispensed from the second dispensing opening 22, which is now oriented to be near the bottom of the container 10.
  • An example of the type of article that can be dispensed from the container 10 of the present invention is shown in FIG. 3A. The article 12 shown in FIG. 3A is a single sheet which has been folded in half to create a folded or lead edge 17. The article 12 also has a trailing edge 13 which is formed by the two ends of the article 12 which now reside in a position adjacent to one another. A second fold 15 is imparted to the article 12 substantially parallel to the lead edge 17. The second fold 15 divides the effective dispensed length of the article 12 into a trailing flap 14, having a length L1, and a leading flap 16, having a length L2. The “effective dispensed length” of the article 12 is the length the user will have to pull the article 12 from a dispensing opening of the container 10 to remove the article 12 from the container 10. As shown for the article 12 of FIG. 3A, the effective dispensed length is the additive lengths of the leading and trailing flaps L1, L2.
  • The articles 12 are dispensed from a stack 120 of such articles 12 as illustrated in FIG. 3B. FIG. 3B shows a schematic end view of an interfolded stack 120 of five articles 12. In practice, a stack 120 would preferably comprise over 100 articles 12. For purposes of clarity, only five articles 12 are shown in FIG. 3B and they have been labeled A, B, C, D, and E. The stack 120 of articles 12 would be dispensed from the container 10 of the present invention by removing articles 12 from the bottom of the stack 120. As shown in FIG. 3B, the user would grasp the leading flap 16 of the bottommost article A and pull the article 12 from a dispensing opening of the container 10. The leading flap 16 of the next article B would then be available at the dispensing opening for ready dispensing.
  • The fold pattern of the individual articles 12 and the interfolding of the articles 12 into a stack 120 as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B are shown as non-limiting examples. The container 10 of the present invention may dispense articles 12 that are folded in any of the numerous ways that articles 12 are folded and are well known in the art. Additionally, the stack 120 may be interfolded in any of the numerous ways that are well known in the art or the stack 120 may not be interfolded at all.
  • The actual interior dimensions of the containers 10 of either of FIGS. 1 and 2 are dependent on the size and weight of the articles being dispensed. One of the advantages of the containers 10 of the invention is the ability of the container 10 to dispense a stack of articles that has a greater stack height, prior to dispensing any of the articles 12 of the stack 120, than the effective dispensing length of any one folded article 12 within the stack 120. In FIG. 3B, if the articles 12 are dispensed from the top of the stack 120, the last flap length (shown in FIG. 3B as the leading flap 16 of article E) of the uppermost article E would pull on the next article D such that the next article D would be brought to the dispensing opening for later dispensing. Where articles 12 are dispensed from the top of the stack 120, the original stack height H (i.e., the height H of the stack prior to dispensing any of the articles 12) will be limited to some height H less than the effective dispensing length of any individual article 12. If the height H is greater than the effective dispensing length of an individual article 12, at some point in dispensing the articles 12, an article 12 will no longer be able to bring the next article up to the dispensing opening. Additionally, in the case where the dispensing opening cannot hold on to the next article to be dispensed, a higher stack height H will correspond to a deep dispensing section that would be inconvenient for a user to reach down into to retrieve a fallen article.
  • The container 10 of the present invention dispenses the articles from the bottom of the stack 120 and thus does not have the same limitation on the height. The height H of the stack 120 of articles 12 in the container 10 of the present invention is only limited by the size and weight of the stack of articles 12 being dispensed and the design of the dispensing opening. As is well known in the art, if too much stack weight is pressing on the article that is being dispensed, the dispensing article will be difficult to dispense and may be damaged during removal.
  • For example, the inventors have found that a stack of paper towels having a stack height H of approximately 13 inches (33 cm) may be effectively dispensed from a container 10 of the present invention. Paper towels having a basis weight of 45 grams per square meter, and measuring 8 inches (20.3 cm) in width and 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length, were folded in half and interfolded in the fashion shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The effective dispensing length of the individual paper towels was 6 inches (15.2 cm). Each of the folded towels had an individual weight of approximately 2.8 grams.
  • The stack of towels was contained in a container with inside dimensions of approximately 8 inches (20.3 cm) wide by 3.75 inches (9.5 cm) deep. The towels were dispensed through an oval dispensing opening in the container which measured 7⅞-inches (20 cm) wide and 1.75 inches (4.4 cm) deep at its center point. The stack was positioned above the dispensing opening, such that the weight of the stack rested on the sheet to be dispensed. It was found that a stack of such towels having a pre-dispensing weight of approximately 900 grams could be dispensed through such an opening. The stack was approximately 13 inches (33 cm) tall and contained approximately 320 towels. Such a stack height H is greater than twice the effective dispensing length of the individual towels dispensed. Stack weights greater than 1070 grams were found to hinder acceptable dispensing, causing the sheet to tab or tear.
  • Different types of articles 12 of different weight, size and texture, along with differently designed dispensing openings, may allow for greater stack heights H or may require lower stack heights H. One skilled in the art would be able to adapt the stack height H, and the corresponding dimensions of the container 10 to meet the needs of the particular article 12 that is to be dispensed.
  • While FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate embodiments of the invention that dispense two stacks of articles 12, other embodiments may dispense more than two stacks. For example, the container 10 may dispense three stacks of articles. Each of those three stacks of articles may dispense through individual dispensing openings when the individual stack and corresponding dispensing opening are oriented for the stack to be dispensed with the aid of gravity (i.e., the dispensing direction of the stack is pointed downward).
  • For a container 10 with three stacks of articles, there are multiple possible configurations of those stacks within such a container 10. For example, all three of the stacks may be horizontally adjacent and separated by vertical walls, with two of the stacks having dispensing directions along the same direction and the third stack having a dispensing direction opposite the other two. The third stack, with the opposite dispensing direction may be on one of the ends of the container 10 or may be between the other two stacks. Alternatively, the third stack may be one of the ends of the container 10 with a dispensing direction perpendicular to the dispensing directions of the first and second stacks. In such a embodiment, the container 10, would be rotated ninety degrees to dispense the third stack after either the first or second stacks had been dispensed.
  • Another example of a three stack dispensing container is shown in FIG. 7. The first and second stacks may be vertically adjacent to each other, with a weight supporting structure 31 between them. The third stack may be horizontally adjacent to the first stack, with a vertical wall 28 separating them, and vertically adjacent to the second stack, with the weight supporting structure 31 separating them. As seen in FIG. 7, the first and third dispensing openings 21, 72 are both present on the lower panel 24 of the container 10 and the articles 12 of the first and third stacks may be dispensed through those openings when the container 10 is configured with the lower panel 24 lower than the rest of the container 10. To dispense the second stack of articles, the container 10 would be rotated 180-degrees, the portion of the upper panel 26 defined by a line of weakness 23 would be removed to form the second dispensing opening 22, and the articles 12 would then be dispensed in a downward direction from the second stack. Such a line of weakness 23 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material.
  • It may be possible to dispense more than three stacks of articles from a single container. Four stacks of articles may be dispensed from a single container with the four stacks horizontally adjacent to each other, separated by vertical walls, and the dispensing direction of at least one stack being in the opposite direction from the dispensing direction of the other stacks. The dispensing direction of immediately adjacent stacks may alternate in dispensing direction, the dispensing direction of the two end stacks may be opposite of the other two end stacks, or any other possible combination of dispensing directions and stack locations.
  • Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 8, the four stacks may be two pairs of vertically adjacent stacks that are horizontally adjacent to each other. The four stacks may be configured such that a dispensing opening 99 would be present on the upper panel 26, the lower panel 24, and on each of the side panels 27, so that the container 10 would only have to rotate ninety degrees for the next stack of articles to be dispensed. Each stack may be contained within a corresponding dispensing section within the container; the first stack in a first dispensing section 81, the second stack in a second dispensing section 82, the third stack in a third dispensing section 83, and the fourth stack in a fourth dispensing section 84. Each stack may have its own dispensing direction as shown in FIG. 8 as the first, second, third and fourth dispensing directions 810, 820, 830, and 840. The configuration shown in FIG. 8, illustrates the first dispensing direction 810 pointing in a downward direction to dispense the contents of the first dispensing section 81. To next dispense the contents of the second dispensing section 82 in the second dispensing direction 82, the container 10 may be rotated 90-degrees clockwise such that the second dispensing direction 820 was pointed downward. Likewise, the third and fourth dispensing sections 83, 84 would require further clockwise rotation of the container 10 to dispense their contents.
  • The dispensing sections of the container 10 of FIG. 8 may also be dispensed in any order that the user desires. Instead of dispensing the dispensing section in consecutive order as described above, the user may dispense from the first dispensing section 81, flip the container 10 to dispense from the third dispensing section 83, and then may dispense from either the second or fourth dispensing section 82, 84. The user may dispense in any order they desire; they may dispense from any dispensing section whose corresponding dispensing direction is the downward direction.
  • It is contemplated that greater than four stacks of articles may be dispensed from such containers. As can be seen by the few examples discussed above, there are many different combinations of container configurations that may dispense multiple stacks of articles. Different relative sizes of stacks, horizontal or vertically adjacent configurations, and dispensing directions may all be modified individually or in combination to produce a container configuration that meets the dispensing needs of the particular articles being dispensed.
  • Several of the container configurations discussed above include a weight supporting structure 31 to support a stack of articles while another stack of articles, vertically adjacent to the supported stack, is being dispensed from the lower portion of the container 10. To reduce material cost and simplify the production of such containers, it is desired that this weight supporting structure be a part of the body of the container 10.
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate a weight supporting structure 31 formed from portions of the back panel 51 of the container. The back panel 51 of the container 10 shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B is formed from an upper back panel 53, which extends from the upper panel 26, and a lower back panel 55, which extends from the lower panel 24. The distal end of the upper back panel 53 forms an upper end tab 54 and the distal end of the lower back panel 55 forms a lower end tab 56. The upper and lower end tabs 54, 56 are folded inward as shown in FIG. 4A to form the finished container 10 such that the upper and lower back panels 53, 55 form a planar back panel 51. As seen in FIG. 4B, the upper and lower end tabs 54, 56 form the weight supporting structure 31 on the interior of the container 10. The upper and lower end tabs 54, 56 may or may not be fastened together and they may or may not be attached to the interior surface of the front panel 25.
  • The upper and lower end tabs 54, 56 are shown as extending to the front panel 25 of the container 10. Alternatively, one or both of the end tabs may only extend a portion of the distance from the back of the container toward the interior surface of the front panel 25. The end tabs may be longer than the distance from the back of the container to the front panel 25 and may have additional folds where they contact the interior of the front panel 25. The upper end tab 54 may be longer than the lower end tab 56 or the lower end tab 56 may be longer than the upper end tab 56. The relative sizes of the upper and lower back panels 53, 55 and the size and folds of the upper and lower end tabs 54, 56 may be appropriately designed to meet the needs of the articles to be dispensed and the desires of the user.
  • Another exemplary weight support structure 31 may be formed from a portion of the back panel 51 of the container 10. As shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, a portion of the back panel 51 may be designed to be folded in to the interior of the container 10. This back flap 67 may be any size portion of the back panel 51 that would be adequate to function as a weight supporting structure, but not so large that articles contained within the container 10 easily fall out though the resultant opening in the back panel 51. Although the back flap 67 is shown as a single piece of the back panel 51, the weight supporting structure may be formed from multiple strips of the back panel 51 that are folded down into the interior of the container 10 to form multiple back flaps 67. The back flap 67 is also shown as substantially rectangular in shape, but it may be any shape, symmetrical or symmetrical, that adequately performs the function of a weight supporting structure.
  • FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C illustrate embodiments of a weight supporting structure formed from a portion of one or more of the side panels 27 of the container 10. FIG. 6A shows a portion of only one side panel 27 folded in to the interior of the container 10. This side flap 77 may be any size portion of the side panel 27 that would be adequate to function as a weight supporting structure, but not so large that articles contained within the container 10 easily fall out through the resultant opening in the side panel 27. The single side flap 77 may extend all the way to the interior surface of the opposite side panel where it may or may not be attached to the interior surface of the side panel.
  • Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 6B and 6C, the weight supporting structure may be formed from side flaps 77 of more than one side panel 27 of the container 10. The side flaps 77 may be formed by a portion of a side panel 27 being folded down into the interior of the container 10 and a portion of the opposite side panel 27 being folded up into the interior of the container 10 as shown in FIG. 6B. Alternatively, the weight supporting structure may be formed from a portion both side panels 27 being folded down into the interior of the container 10 as shown in FIG. 6C.
  • The sizes of the multiple side flaps 77 may be the same or they may be different. The side flaps 77, may be long enough to overlap as in FIG. 6B or they may only extend a portion of the way into the interior of the container 10 as shown in FIG. 6C. As with the other embodiments of the weight supporting structures, the side flaps 77 may be any size or shape, symmetrical or asymmetrical, that meets the needs of the article being dispensed and the desires of the user.
  • The opening in one or more of the side panels 27 left when forming the weight supporting structure, providing the additional benefit of allowing the user to see into the interior of the container and thus acts as a gauge to the user as to the number of articles remaining to be dispensed. Markings on the exterior of the container 10 near the opening may aid the user in determining the relative number of articles remaining to be dispensed. Alternatively or in addition to exterior markings, the shape of the side flap may be designed such that a regular pattern would be formed about the periphery of the opening left in the side panel 27 that the user could utilize to estimate the articles remaining to be dispensed.
  • Additional utility may be added to the container of the invention by including one or more spaces within the container that may act as waste receptacles. Such spaces may be used to dispose of the dispensed articles after they are used or to dispose of other refuse. An embodiment of a container 10 with this added functionality is shown in FIG. 9. The container 10 of FIG. 9 has four dispensing sections 81, 82, 82, 84 from which articles may be dispensed in their respective dispensing directions 810, 820, 830, 840. In addition to the dispensing sections, there are four corner areas within the container 10 that are available for use as waste receptacles 100. The waste receptacles 100 may be accessed through openings made through one of the panels of the container 10.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates another possible configuration of the container 10 having a waste receptacle 100. The container 10 again has four dispensing sections, but only a single waste receptacle 100 section in the center of the container 10. Again, the waste receptacle 100 may be accessed through openings made through one of the panels of the container 10.
  • FIGS. 9 and 10 are only illustrative examples; other configurations of containers 10 with one or more waste receptacles 100 are possible. The size and shape of the waste receptacle(s) 100 may be any size or shape within the container 10 as is required or desired. In addition to additional spaces within the container 10 set aside as waste receptacles 100, the individual dispensing sections may also be adapted for use as waste receptacles 100 after the articles have been dispensed.
  • The container 10 is additionally designed to non-permanently attach to a substantially vertical support surface. As used here, the term “non-permanently” refers to the attribute that the container may be attached to a substantially vertical support surface, detached, and reattached to the surface, repeatedly, during the limited use-life of the container 10. The substantially vertical support surface may be any surface that when a container 10 is affixed to it will allow the articles to be dispensed in a downward direction (i.e., the majority of the stack of articles will be substantially above the particular dispensing opening). For example, the support surface may be, but is not limited to, a wall, a door, a post, a pole, a dispenser affixed to a wall or embedded into a wall, or the like.
  • The embodiments of the container 10 of this invention all include at least two dispensing openings which requires that the container 10 be reconfigured, or repositioned, for the second stack of articles to be dispensed. As such, the manner in which the container 10 is affixed to the vertical support surface must be non-permanent in nature. However, the means for attachment must also be strong enough and configured in such way that the container 10 is secured to the surface 135 while articles are dispensed from the container 10.
  • In the embodiment of FIG. 11A and 11B, the container 10 is non-permanently affixed to a surface 135 by multiple attachment strips 130 on the back panel 51 of the container 10. The attachment strip 130 may be any type of material that will affix the container 10 to the surface 135, but will allow the container 10 to be removed from the surface 135, repositioned, and reaffixed to the surface 135.
  • For example, the attachment strip 130 may be a pressure-sensitive adhesive or any other type of adhesive, as are well known, that would work for such purposes. Such an adhesive strip may be protected by a peel strip that covers the adhesive until the user wishes to affix the container 10 to a surface 135. Such an adhesive may be applied directly to the back panel 51 of the container 10 or may be in the form of two-sided adhesive tape. In another example, the attachment strip may be a hook or a loop material that affixes to corresponding loop/hook material on the surface 135 the container 10 is to be affixed.
  • The attachment strips 130 are illustrated in FIGS. 11A and 11B as two strips located on the back panel 51; one near the lower panel 24 and one near the upper panel 26. The attachment strips 130 may be of any shape, any dimension and in any position, relative to each other and to the back panel 51, that would securely affix the container 10 to the surface 135 during dispensing. For example, the attachment strips may be larger, smaller, vertically aligned, or otherwise configured on the back panel 51. Instead of two attachment strips 130 there may be more than two strips or there may be just one attachment strip.
  • FIGS. 12A and 12B illustrate a back tab 141 for affixing the container 10 to a surface 135. As shown, a portion of the back panel 51 may be adapted to be released from the back panel 51 along a line of weakness 143 in the back panel 51. Such a line of weakness 143 may be perforations, scoring or other similar method of providing weakness in the material. The back tab 141 may then be folded out of the plane of the back panel 51 and used to affix the container to the surface 135. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B, the back tab 141 has multiple receiving openings 145 which may be holes present in the back tab 141 or may be perforations in the back tab 141 where the back tab material may be removed. Such a receiving opening 145 may be attached to a mounting bracket 147 that is present on the surface 135. Instead of utilizing receiving openings 145, the back tab 145 may utilize an attachment strip. Such an attachment strip may be located on the interior of the container 10 until the back tab 145 is folded out of the plane of the back panel 51, to affix the container 10 to the surface 135. Alternatively, a combination of the back tabs 141, attachment strips 130, receiving openings 145, and mounting brackets 147 may be used.
  • The back tabs 141 in FIGS. 12A and 12B are shown to be portions of the back panel 51 that are folded out of the plane of the back panel 51 and support the container 10 from above. Alternatively, the back tabs 141 may be formed out of one or more portions side panels 27 that is folded back out of the plane of the side panel 27 and affixes the container 10 to the surface 135. The back tabs 141 may also be formed out of a combination one or more portions of the back panels 51 and the side panels 27.
  • In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 13A and 13B, the container 10 is affixed to the surface 135 by a mounting connector 157 that connects with a receptor 155 on the back panel 51 of the container 10. The receptor 155, may be a holes in the back panel 51, holes that may be made in the back panel 51 by removing portions of the back panel 51 defined by perforations (as shown in FIG. 13A), or other means that will work in concert with the mounting connector 157 to affix the container 10 to the surface 135. For example, the back panel 51 may include a receptor 155 that will affix to mounting connector 157 that is recessed in the surface 135. In another example, the receptor 155 may be a magnetic material that will affix to a surface 135 made of metal or to a magnetic mounting connector 157.
  • Finally, the mounting connector 157 may be a bracket attached to the surface 135 designed such that the entire container 10 slips inside of or is otherwise wholly supported by the bracket.

Claims (30)

1. A disposable, non-refillable container for holding and gravity-fed dispensing folded articles comprising,
a front panel,
a back panel,
an upper panel,
a lower panel having at least a first dispensing opening,
a second dispensing opening,
a side panel extending between the upper panel and the lower panel, and
a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface,
where the first dispensing opening is adapted for dispensing a first stack of folded articles in a first dispensing direction and the second dispensing opening is adapted for dispensing a second stack of folded articles in a second dispensing direction, and
where the first stack of articles are dispensed through the first dispensing opening in the first dispensing direction when the container is attached to the support surface in a configuration such that the first stack of articles is substantially above the first dispensing opening, and
where the second stack of articles are dispensed through the second dispensing opening when the container is reconfigured and attached to the support surface in configuration such that the second stack of article is substantially above the second dispensing opening.
2. The container of claim 1, where the lower panel further comprises a removable portion defined by a line of weakness, where the first dispensing opening is formed in the lower panel by removal of the removable portion.
3. The container of claim 1, where the upper panel further comprises a removable portion defined by a line of weakness, where the second dispensing opening is formed in the upper panel by removal of the removable portion.
4. The container of claim 1, where the first stack of folded articles comprises a plurality of folded articles each having an effective dispensing length dimension and the first stack having a pre-dispensing height dimension which is greater than the effective dispensing length dimension of an individual folded article within the first stack
5. The container of claim 1, where the first stack of articles is horizontally adjacent to the second stack of articles.
6. The container of claim 1, where the first stack of articles is vertically adjacent to the second stack of articles.
7. The container of claim 6, where the container further comprises a weight support structure that supports the weight of the second stack of articles while the first stack of articles is being dispensed.
8. The container of claim 7, where the back panel further comprises at least one end tab and where the weight support structure is formed from at least one end tab of the back panel.
9. The container of claim 7, where the weight support structure is a portion of the back panel.
10. The container of claim 7, where the weight support structure is a portion of at least one side panel.
11. The container of claim 10, where the weight support structure is a portion of two side panels.
12. The container of claim 1, where the mount is an adhesive.
13. The container of claim 1, where the mount is a hook material that affixes to a loop material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface.
14. The container of claim 1, where the mount is a loop material that affixes to a hook material affixed to the substantially vertical support surface.
15. The container of claim 1, where the mount is a portion of the back panel that is adapted to attach to a mounting bracket.
16. The container of claim 1, where the mount is a portion of the back panel that is adapted to receive a mounting bracket.
17. The container of claim 1, where the folded articles of the first stack are different than the folded articles of the second stack.
18. The container of claim 1, further comprising at least one area adapted for use as a waste receptacle.
19. The container of claim 18, where when the first stack is dispensed, the area previously occupied by the first stack is adapted for use as a waste receptacle.
20. The container of claim 1, further comprising a third dispensing opening for dispensing a third stack of folded articles in a third dispensing direction.
21. The container of claim 20, further comprising a fourth dispensing opening for dispensing a fourth stack of folded articles in a fourth dispensing direction.
22. A system for holding and gravity-fed dispensing a plurality stacks of folded articles comprising,
a plurality of stacks of articles,
a container which is adapted to contain the plurality of stacks of articles, and
a mount which non-permanently affixes the container to a support surface,
where each stack within the plurality of stacks of articles has a dispensing direction such that the articles of said stack will only dispense when the dispensing direction of that particular stack is in a downward direction, and
where at least two of the stacks of articles have different dispensing directions such that, at least on one occasion, the container must be detached from the support surface, reconfigured and re-attached to the support surface to dispense all of the stacks of articles.
23. The system of claim 22, where the container comprises a weight support structure that is adapted to support the weight of at least one stack while another stack is being dispensed.
24. The system of claim 22, where the mount is an adhesive.
25. The system of claim 22, where the mount is a hook material that affixes to a loop material affixed to the support surface.
26. The system of claim 22, where the mount is a loop material that affixes to a hook material affixed to the support surface.
27. The system of claim 22, where the mount is a portion of the container that is adapted to attach to a mounting bracket.
28. The system of claim 22, where the mount is a portion of the container that is adapted to receive a mounting bracket.
29. The system of claim 22, where the articles of at least one of the stacks is different from the articles of at least one other stack.
30. The system of claim 22, where the container comprises at least one area adapted for use as a waste receptacle.
US11/166,528 2005-06-24 2005-06-24 Dispensing container Abandoned US20060289554A1 (en)

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US20090223991A1 (en) * 2008-03-06 2009-09-10 Peckertrax, A Series Of The Invention Machine, Llc Men's personal hygiene napkin dispenser and waste receptacle
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