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US20080099485A1 - Sortables storage container - Google Patents

Sortables storage container Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080099485A1
US20080099485A1 US11588098 US58809806A US2008099485A1 US 20080099485 A1 US20080099485 A1 US 20080099485A1 US 11588098 US11588098 US 11588098 US 58809806 A US58809806 A US 58809806A US 2008099485 A1 US2008099485 A1 US 2008099485A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
storage
base
lid
container
compartment
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
US11588098
Inventor
Jimmy E. Holbrook
Terry R. Fausett
Original Assignee
Holbrook Jimmy E
Fausett Terry R
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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
    • B65D25/00Details of other kinds or types of rigid or semi-rigid containers
    • B65D25/02Internal fittings
    • B65D25/04Partitions
    • B65D25/06Partitions adapted to be fitted in two or more alternative positions
    • 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
    • B65D75/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes, or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D75/04Articles or materials wholly enclosed in single sheets or wrapper blanks
    • B65D75/20Articles or materials wholly enclosed in single sheets or wrapper blanks in sheets or blanks doubled around contents and having their opposed free margins united, e.g. by pressure-sensitive adhesive, crimping, heat-sealing, or welding
    • B65D75/22Articles or materials wholly enclosed in single sheets or wrapper blanks in sheets or blanks doubled around contents and having their opposed free margins united, e.g. by pressure-sensitive adhesive, crimping, heat-sealing, or welding the sheet or blank being recessed to accommodate contents
    • B65D75/24Articles or materials wholly enclosed in single sheets or wrapper blanks in sheets or blanks doubled around contents and having their opposed free margins united, e.g. by pressure-sensitive adhesive, crimping, heat-sealing, or welding the sheet or blank being recessed to accommodate contents and formed with several recesses to accommodate a series of articles or quantities of material
    • B65D75/245Articles or materials wholly enclosed in single sheets or wrapper blanks in sheets or blanks doubled around contents and having their opposed free margins united, e.g. by pressure-sensitive adhesive, crimping, heat-sealing, or welding the sheet or blank being recessed to accommodate contents and formed with several recesses to accommodate a series of articles or quantities of material the sheet or blank comprising more than one fold line

Abstract

A storage container includes a base with a storage compartment and a lid positionable to fit over an upwardly extending perimeter wall of the storage compartment. A spine is hinged between the base and the lid to allow articulated movement of the lid with respect to the base. The spine includes at least one stiffener ridge integrally formed in the spine and extending longitudinally along the spine. The stiffener ridge reduces bowing of the spine between a lid hinge and a base hinge. A removable tray is insertable into the storage compartment to divide the compartment into a plurality of smaller compartments. Partitions may be placed in the storage compartment to divide the storage compartment into smaller compartments. The partitions may extend into receiving grooves in the lid to block movement of sortables from one compartment to another.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to storage containers. More particularly, the present invention relates to a thermoplastic container for storing sortable items, such as washers, buttons, stickers, and the like.
  • [0003]
    2. Related Art
  • [0004]
    Sortables storage containers are known in the art. Typically these containers are clear plastic and have a base storage compartment with a hinged lid. Such containers often have a number of dividers separating the larger base storage compartment into several smaller storage compartments. The dividers are usually integrally formed into the base storage compartment so the lid can rest on top of the dividers to close off each individual storage compartment in order to prevent inadvertent mixing of sortables stored between each compartment. Additionally, such containers are commonly made of a hard or rigid plastic so as to provide sufficient structural strength to the hinges, clasps and sidewalls of the storage container.
  • [0005]
    Unfortunately, such storage containers have problems that make them difficult to use in some applications. For example, since the dividers are integrally formed into the base storage compartment, the smaller storage compartments can not be reconfigured to accommodate changes to items being stored in the container. Additionally, sortables stored in the smaller storage compartments formed by the dividers can travel between storage compartments if the storage container is tipped or inverted. Furthermore, the hinges on such containers generally protrude some distance away from the body of the container such that the hinges can catch onto nearby adjacent objects making the containers difficult to store and retrieve from confined spaces.
  • [0006]
    Some storage containers have been designed to overcome these problems. For example, some storage containers have movable dividers that can be positioned in the base storage compartment according to the user's needs. Unfortunately, these types of configurable storage containers exacerbate the problem of migrating contents between the smaller compartments since the dividers usually leave a gap between the bottom and top or lid of the container. This is especially problematic for flat sortables such as paper clips, stickers, and the like because such items can easily fit through narrow gaps between the dividers and the lid or bottom of the container.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a sortables storage container with a base storage compartment that can be reconfigured to smaller storage compartments. Additionally, it has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a sortables storage container with dividers that restrict passage of sortable items between separate storage compartments. Moreover, it has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a sortables storage container with reinforcing ridges supporting the hinge between the lid and the container so that the overall size of the hinge can be reduced to minimize catch points with adjacent objects.
  • [0008]
    The invention provides a storage container including a base with a storage compartment. The storage container can also include a lid that can be positioned to fit over an upwardly extending perimeter wall of the storage compartment to close the storage compartment. A spine can be hinged between the base and the lid to allow articulated movement of the lid with respect to the base. The spine can include a lid hinge integrally formed between an upper surface of the lid and a side of the spine, and a base hinge integrally formed between a lower surface of the base and an opposite side of the spine. The spine can also include at least one stiffener ridge integrally formed in the spine and extending longitudinally along the spine. The stiffener ridge can be sized and shaped to stiffen the spine to reduce bowing of the spine between the lid hinge and the base hinge.
  • [0009]
    In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the storage container includes a removable tray that is sized and shaped to fit within the storage compartment. The removable tray can have at least one partition that can divide the storage compartment into a plurality of relatively smaller coplanar storage compartments. Additionally, the lid of the storage container can have a plurality of channels that can correspond is size, shape and position to the at least one partition. The plurality of channels can fit over the at least one partition to restrict passage between the plurality of smaller storage compartments.
  • [0010]
    The present invention also provides for a storage container system including a storage container having a base with an upwardly extending wall forming a storage compartment, and a lid positionable to fit over the upwardly extending wall of the storage compartment. The storage container system also includes a plurality of interchangeable trays. Each interchangeable tray can be sized and shaped to fit within the storage compartment and can have at least one partition that can reconfigure the storage compartment by dividing the storage compartment into a plurality of smaller coplanar storage compartments.
  • [0011]
    The present invention also provides for a method for storing sortable materials including opening a lid on a storage container. A removable tray having a plurality of integrally formed partitions can be inserted into a larger storage compartment of a base of the storage container to reconfigure the larger storage container to have a plurality of smaller, coplanar storage compartments. Sortable materials, such as pins, nails, screws, bolts, nuts, paper clips, stickers, scrapbook ornamentation, and the like, can be sorted and placed into the plurality of smaller containers. The lid can be closed and a plurality of channels formed in the lid can fit over an upper portion of the plurality of partitions to restrict passage between the plurality of smaller storage compartments.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0012]
    Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention; and, wherein:
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a sortables storage conatiner in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, shown in a closed configuration;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the sortable storage container of FIG. 1, shown in an open configuration;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the portion of FIG. 2 encircled by the line 3, showing the spine of the sortables storage container of FIGS. 1 and 2 hinged to a lid by a lid hinge and hinged to a base by a base hinge, the container shown in an open configuration;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 4 is an end elevation of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1, shown in a closed configuration;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary end elevation of the portion of FIG. 4 encircled by the line 5;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 6 is a top view of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1, shown in an open configuration;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 7 is an end elevation of the sortables storage container of FIG. 6, looking upwardly from the bottom in FIG. 6;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary end elevation of the portion of FIG. 7 encircled by the line 8;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 9 is a top view of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1, shown in a closed configuration;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 10 is a bottom view of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1, shown in a closed configuration;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 11 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of a corner of the storage compartment encircled by the line 11 in FIG. 2;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the portion of the lid of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1 encircled by the line 12;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a removable tray of the invention insertable into the storage compartment of the sortables storage container of FIG. 1;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an alternate removable tray;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 15 is an end elevation of the removable tray of FIG. 13;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 16 is an enlarged fragmentary end elevation of a corner of the removable tray enclosed by the line 16 of FIG. 15; and
  • [0029]
    FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a sortables storage container system, having a plurality of removable trays insertable into a storage compartment of a sortables storage container, shown with the sortables storage container in an open configuration and the removable trays removed from the storage compartment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS
  • [0030]
    Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.
  • [0031]
    The present invention generally provides for a sortables storage container made from a thermo-formable plastic. The storage container can have a base with a relatively larger storage compartment. A lid can be hinged to a spine along an edge of the lid, and the spine can be hinged to a bottom edge of the base. In this way, the lid can fit on the open top of the base, but open to a relatively flat or co-planar configuration with respect to the bottom of the base. The base, the lid, the spine, and the hinges can be integrally formed together as a single thermo-formed article. Additionally, the spine can have stiffening ridges so as to strengthen the container and reduce warping of the spine and container due to stresses induced in the thermoplastic by the hinges. The stiffening ridges also allow for smaller hinges, thereby reducing catch points on the storage container and allowing the container to be stored adjacently to other objects or similar containers.
  • [0032]
    The container can also have a divider tray formed from a thermo-formable plastic. The divider tray can be sized and shaped to fit within the relatively larger storage compartment of the base and can divide the relatively larger storage compartment into several relatively smaller storage compartments. The divider tray can have a bottom surface integrally formed with upwardly extending dividers so as to restrict passage of articles between the relatively smaller storage compartments along the bottom surface. Additionally, the upwardly extending dividers can extend to an elevation above the elevation of the relatively larger storage container. In this way, when the lid is closed the portion of the upwardly extending dividers extending above the storage container can cooperate with the receiving grooves in the lid and restrict passage of articles between the relatively smaller storage compartments along the top surface. The lid can also have plurality of grooves or channels corresponding to the upwardly extending dividers so that the dividers extend into the channels thereby further restricting passage between the relatively smaller storage compartments. Furthermore, the divider tray can be removable so that a divider tray with a different compartment configuration can be interchangeably placed into the base to easily change compartment size and configuration to accommodate changes of items being stored. To facilitate the interchangeability of the divider trays, the lid will have receiving grooves therein arranged to cooperate with any of the divider orientations provided in expected alternate divider trays to be used with the storage containers.
  • [0033]
    As illustrated in FIGS. 1-10, a sortables storage container, indicated generally at 10, is shown in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention for use in storing sortable items, such as screws, nuts, paper clips, stickers, buttons, scrapbook ornamentation, and the like. The storage container 10 has a base 30, a lid 60, and a spine 80 connecting the base and the spine. The storage container 10 can be thermoformed from a thermoplastic material such that the base 30, the lid 60, and the spine 80 are integrally formed as a single one piece unit. Advantageously, the thermoplastic material can be at least partially translucent or transparent so that the sortable contents of the storage container 10 can be viewed through the storage container without having to open the storage container. The storage container can be of a type of construction commonly referred to as clamshell construction with the container being what is commonly referred to as a clamshell container.
  • [0034]
    While it will be appreciated that the storage container 10 is portable, and can be oriented in any desired direction, for the purposes of the detailed description that follows, the base 30 will be herein referred to as the bottom and the lid 60 as the top of the storage container. Thus, the base 30 is lower than the lid 60 and an upward direction extends from the base toward the lid. Similarly, a downward direction extends from the lid 60 toward the base 30.
  • [0035]
    The base 30 has a lower surface or bottom 32 with a perimeter wall 34 extending upwardly from the bottom 32. The perimeter wall 34 extends around the outer perimeter of the base to form, with the base lower surface or bottom 32, a relatively large base storage compartment 36. The perimeter wall 34 can have an upper portion 38 and a lower portion 40, FIG. 2, separated by wall shoulder 41 in the outer side of wall 34. The upper portion 38 is sized and shaped to receive and retain a portion of the lid 60 therearound, as explained more fully below. The lower portion 40 can include a lower outer flange 42 that is coplanar with the bottom surface 32 of the storage compartment 36 and which helps to stabilize the perimeter wall 34.
  • [0036]
    Referring to FIGS. 2 and 11, the perimeter wall 34 can have rounded or radiused corners 46. However, it may be desirable to size and configure base storage compartment 36 to hold and store fragile rectangular items such as sheets of paper. When sheets of paper or other fragile rectangular items are to be stored, it is generally important not to bend or mutilate the corners by allowing the corners to contact the rounded corners 46 of the storage compartment. Thus, the perimeter wall 34 can have a relief 48 extending around each corner 46 to enlarge the storage compartment space in the immediate vicinity of the corners 46. This relief 46 can be formed by providing thickening inside wall portions 35 extending along the inside straight side portions of the perimeter base wall 34 intermediate the corners 46. When holding rectangular items such as sheets of paper, the thickened side portions 35 hold the straight sides of the items and the corners extend into the recesses 48, but are held from contacting the wall corners 46 by action of the thickened side portions 35 against the straight sides of the held item intermediate the corners. In this way, the relief 48 can facilitate placement of rectangular shaped items, such as paper, having ninety degree corners, within the storage compartment 36. For example, the storage compartment 36 can be sized slightly larger than an 8½×11 inch letter sized piece of paper so that sheets of paper of this size can be placed within the storage compartment 36 and rest on the bottom surface 32. The paper fits closely between the thickened side portions 35 of the wall 34 so is held against damaging sliding movement in the compartment 36. Because the corners 46 of the perimeter base wall 34 are recessed so the corners of the paper do not abut the rounded corners 46 of the walls, the corners of the paper can lie flat within the storage compartment 36. Thus, advantageously, the storage container 10 of the present invention can have rounded corners 46 for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, and, depending upon the molding process, for ease of molding, and yet still allow paper or other similar items with right angle corners to lie flat within the storage compartment 36. It should also be noted that the corner recesses can make it easier for a user to retrieve sheets of paper from the base storage compartment 36.
  • [0037]
    Returning to FIGS. 1-10, as described, the base storage compartment 36 has an open top. Container lid 60 is sized and shaped to fit over the open top of base storage compartment 36 to close the compartment 36 when desired and to be held in this closed position over the open top of compartment 36. For this purpose, lid 60 is sized and shaped to fit over the top 34 b of upwardly extending perimeter wall 34 to close the base compartment. Many configurations for lid 60 can be used for this purpose. In the embodiment illustrated, lid 60 has an upper surface or top 62 and a perimeter wall 66 extending downwardly from the upper surface. The perimeter wall 66 of the lid 60 has a bottom 67 and can also have an upper outer flange 68 that is coplanar with the upper surface 62 of the lid 60 and which helps to stabilize the perimeter wall 64.
  • [0038]
    Downwardly extending perimeter wall 66 is sized and configured to mate with and extend around the outside of the upper portion 38 of the upwardly extending base perimeter wall 36 of the base 30. Thus, the upper portion 38 of base perimeter wall 34 fits within and is received within downwardly extending lid perimeter wall 66 to close the storage compartment 36, as shown in FIG. 1, generally with either the lid perimeter wall bottom 67 abutting the base perimeter wall shoulder 41 to determine the depth of overlap of the lid over the base or the lid upper surface or top 62 abutting the top 34 b of the base perimeter wall 34 to determine the depth of overlap. It will be appreciated that, alternately, the perimeter wall of the lid could be sized to fit within perimeter wall of the storage compartment to close the storage compartment so that the perimeter wall of the base fits around the perimeter wall of the lid (not shown).
  • [0039]
    The perimeter wall 66 of the lid 60 can also have at least one indentation 72, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 9, and the perimeter wall 34 of the base 30 can have at least one protrusion 50, as shown in FIG. 6. The indentation 72 of the lid 60 will correspond in size, shape, and location to the protrusion 50 of the base 30 so that when the lid 60 is closed the protrusion of the base snaps into the indentation of the lid. In this way, the lid 60 can be snap-locked onto the base 30 such that there is an interference between the protrusion 50 and the indentation 72 that restricts the lid 60 from opening without an external force applied to the lid. This protrusion-indentation snap-lock system secures the lid 60 onto the base 30 to reduce the likelihood of the lid being opened accidentally. It will be appreciated that while the indentation 72 has been shown on the lid 60 and the protrusion 50 has been shown on the base 30, the two snap-lock features can be reversed so that the indentation can be on the base and the protrusion can be on the lid.
  • [0040]
    Referring to FIGS. 1-8, the spine 80 extends along a side of the storage container 10 and can be hinged between the base 30 and the lid 60 to allow articulated movement of the lid 60 to a coplanar position with respect to the base 30, as shown in FIG. 2. The spine 80 includes a lid hinge 82 between the upper surface 62 of the lid 60 and an edge or side 84 of the spine 80. The lid hinge 82 can be integrally formed with the lid 60 and the spine 80. The lid hinge 82 can be of the same thermoplastic material as the rest of the storage container 10, and can be stretched to have thinner cross section than the lid 60 or the spine 80. In this way the lid hinge 82 can be more likely to bend than the lid 60 or the spine 80. In one aspect, the lid hinge 82 is a living hinge.
  • [0041]
    The spine 80 also includes a base hinge 86 between the lower flange 42 of the base 30 and a side 88 of the spine opposite the side 84 with the lid hinge 82. The base hinge 86 can be integrally formed with the base 30 and the spine 80. The base hinge 86 can be of the same thermoplastic material as the rest of the storage container 10, and can be stretched to have thinner cross section than the base 30 or the spine 80. In this way, the base hinge 86 can be more likely to bend than the base 30 or the spine 80. In one aspect, the base hinge 86 is a living hinge.
  • [0042]
    The spine 80 can also have at least one stiffener ridge 90. The stiffener ridge 90 can be portion a of the thermoplastic material that is raised or lowered from the plane of the spine 80. The stiffener ridge 90 can extend longitudinally along the spine 80 and can be sized and shaped to stiffen the spine in order to reduce bowing, warping, or deformation of the spine between the lid hinge 82 and the base hinge 86. In one aspect, the spine 80 can have two longitudinal stiffener ridges 90 a and 90 b and two lateral stiffener ridges 90 c and 90 d. The longitudinal and lateral stiffener ridges 90 c and 90 d can intersect on the spine 80 to form a rectangular stiffener ridge, indicated generally at 92. The stiffener ridges help maintain a straight, flat, and rigid spine to which adhesive labels can be attached for labeling of the storage container.
  • [0043]
    The lid 60 can also include a stiffener ridge 74 that extends along the lid adjacent the lid hinge 82, and the base 30 can include a stiffener ridge 54 that extends along the base 30 adjacent the base hinge 86. The stiffener ridge 74 on the lid 60 can be a portion of the thermoplastic material of the lid that is raised or lowered from the plane of the upper outer flange 68 on the lid. Similarly, the stiffener ridge 54 on the base 30 can be a portion of the thermoplastic material of the base that is raised or lowered from the plane of the lower outer flange 42 on the base. The stiffener ridge 74 on the lid 60, and the stiffener ridge 54 on the base 30, can be sized and shaped to stiffen and support the lid and the base so that the lid and the base are rigid and strong enough to withstand stresses induced by the lid hinge 82 and the base hinge 86.
  • [0044]
    Together the stiffener ridges 88, 74, and 54 can strengthen the lid 60, the spine 80, and the base 30 against the stresses induced by the lid hinge 82 and the base hinge 86. Advantageously, the rigidity and strength from the stiffener ridges 88, 74, and 54 allows the lid hinge 82 and the base hinge 86 to be reduced in size and shaped in order to minimize projection of the hinges 82 and 86 away from the lid 60 and the base 30 respectively. In one aspect, the lid hinge 82, FIG. 8, and the base hinge 86 can be approximately one eighth of an inch in width in an open position with approximately one sixteenth of an inch projection extending away from the spine, lid, or base. This reduces the projection of the hinges outwardly from the lid 60 and base 30 when in closed condition. This outwardly projection of the hinges when in closed condition is shown specifically in FIG. 5 where the minimized projection of the hinges outwardly from the lid 60 and the base 30 are shown by distances 85 a and 85 b, respectively. With normal prior art hinges of this type, the hinge commonly extends straight outwardly from the lid or base about one quarter inch or more. Here, the projection is reduced to about one sixteenth of an inch and is somewhat rounded. This minimized profile of the hinges 82 and 86 when the storage container is closed reduces interference between the storage container 10 and other nearby adjacent objects such as adjacently stacked storage containers 10. Thus, it is a particular advantage of the storage container 10 of the present invention that a plurality of such storage containers 10 can be adjacently positioned together with minimal sliding interference from one another. In this way, several storage devices 10 can be positioned adjacent one another like books on a bookshelf such that one storage container can be removed from the middle of the stack without catching adjacently stacked storage containers.
  • [0045]
    The storage container 10 can also have a removable tray, shown generally at 130, as illustrated in FIGS. 13-17. The removable tray 130 can be thermoformed from the same thermoplastic material used to form the storage container 10. Additionally, the removable tray 130 is sized and shaped to fit within the base storage compartment 36 of the base 30.
  • [0046]
    The removable storage tray 130 includes a tray bottom 132 with at least one partition 134 extending upward from the tray bottom. Tray bottom 132 is advantageously substantially coextensive with base bottom 32 so that the partition 134 divides the relatively larger base storage compartment 36 of the base 30 into a plurality of smaller coplanar tray storage compartments 136. The partition 134 can be integrally formed of the same thermoplastic material as the bottom 132 so that the removable tray is a single one piece molded unit. Removable tray 130 can be inserted into the larger storage compartment 36 of the base 30 to reconfigure the larger base storage compartment 36 into a selected plurality of smaller coplanar tray storage compartments 136. Removable storage tray 130 will usually also include side walls 135 extending circumferentially around tray bottom 132. These also can be formed integrally with the bottom 132 and partitions 134, as shown. An outer flange 135 a, FIG. 15, extends around the top of walls 135 which helps to stabilize storage tray 130. Advantageously, when the bottom 132 of the removable tray 130, the side walls 135, and the partitions 134 are integrally formed as shown, passage between the plurality of smaller tray storage compartments 136 is restricted so as to maintain segregation of the sortables stored in the storage container 10. The height of the walls 135 are such that when removable storage tray 130 is placed in base storage compartment 36 of base 30, the top 135 b of walls 135 will coincide with the top 34 b of base perimeter walls 34. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 11, shoulders 49 are provided along the tops of the thickened wall portions 35 of the base perimeter wall 34 to receive removable storage tray wall flange 135 a therein so that the top 135 b of tray walls 135 will correspond with the top 34 b of base wall 34.
  • [0047]
    It will be appreciated that the removable tray 130 can have a plurality of partitions 134 to subdivide the larger storage compartment 36 into several smaller tray storage compartments 136. Additionally, the partitions 134 can be uniformly distributed across the bottom 132 of the removable tray 130 to form a plurality of smaller tray storage compartments 136 of the same size, as seen in FIG. 13, or the partitions 134 can be formed to create a variety of differently sized smaller tray storage compartments, as shown in FIG. 14. Thus, it is a particular advantage of the storage container 10 of the present invention that several removable trays can be provided or otherwise made available to a user so that one removable tray, such as labeled 130 a in FIGS. 13 and 17, can be removed from the larger storage compartment 36 and a different removable tray, such as labeled 130 b in FIGS. 14 and 17, can be inserted in its place in order to reconfigure the size, shape, and number of smaller tray storage compartments 136 within the larger base storage compartment 36. Any number of removable trays to provide a selection of smaller storage compartment sizes and arrangements can be made available.
  • [0048]
    Partitions 134 dividing the storage compartments 136 in removable tray 130 can extend upward from the tray bottom 132 to a higher elevation than the top 135 b of tray walls 135, as shown particularly in FIGS. 15-16. In this way, an upper portion 138 of the partition 134 will extend above the top 34 b of perimeter wall 34 of the base 30 when the removable tray 130 is inserted into the base storage compartment 36. To accommodate the upper partition portions 130, the top 62 of lid 60 includes upwardly directed channels 76, FIGS. 1, 2, 6, 12, and 17, sized and shaped to closely fit over the upper portions 138 of partitions 134. Thus, with the removable tray 130 disposed inside the larger base storage compartment 36, and with lid 60 closed so the top 62 of lid 60 fits over and against the top 34 b of base perimeter wall 34, upper portions 138 of partitions 134 will extend and fit into channels 76. The cooperation of the upper portions 138 of partitions 134 and channels 76 in lid 60, which create nonlinear passages between adjacent storage compartments 136, restricts, and in most cases prevents, passage of items stored in storage compartments 136 between adjacent storage compartments 136 when the lid 60 is closed. Advantageously, this extension of the partitions 134 into the channels 76 of lid 60 is maintained regardless of the position or direction of orientation of the storage container 10. In this way, the storage container 10 of the present invention can maintain segregation of the sortables stored in the smaller storage compartments 136 even when the storage container is tipped or inverted.
  • [0049]
    Since the removable trays 130 can have a variety of differently sized and arranged storage compartments 136, and since it is advantageous to be able to remove one removable tray, such as 130 a, and replace it with a different removable tray, such as 130 b, having differently sized and arranged storage compartments 136, lid 60 can be provided with a plurality of channels 76 to accommodate the different expected configurations of removable trays. The plurality of channels 76 can form an intersecting pattern 146 on the upper surface of the lid 60. Thus, it is a particular advantage of the storage container 10 of the present invention that the lid 60 can be provided with an arrangement of channels to restrict passage between the smaller storage compartments 136 of a wide variety of removable trays 130. Additionally, the intersecting pattern 146 of the lid 60 advantageously stiffens the upper surface 62 of the lid which further secures the channels 76 of the lid 60 against the upper portions 138 of the partitions 134.
  • [0050]
    As illustrated in FIG. 17, a storage container system, indicated generally at 200 is shown in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The storage container system 200 can be similar in many respects to the storage container 10 and the removable tray 130 described above and shown in FIGS. 1-16. The storage container system has a storage container 10 with a base 30 having an upwardly extending perimeter wall 34 that forms a storage compartment 36. The storage container 10 also has a lid 60 that is positionable to fit over the upwardly extending wall 34 of the storage compartment 36.
  • [0051]
    Additionally, the storage compartment system has a plurality of interchangeable removable trays, indicated generally at 230. Each tray 130 a and 130 b is sized and shaped to interchangeably fit within the storage compartment 36 and can have at least one partition 134 that divides the larger storage compartment 36 of the base 30 into a plurality of smaller coplanar storage compartments 136. In this way, the storage compartment system 200 can be easily reconfigured so that the larger storage compartment 36 of the base 30 can have a different number of smaller storage compartments 136 when disposed in the larger storage compartment 36. Also, as previously indicated, the storage container 200 can have hinges with reduced protrusion of the hinges so that a plurality of storage containers 200 can be used together and kept side-by-side on a shelf, like books, or side-by-side in a magazine holder or other holder and labeled so that a desired storage container can easily be pulled out when needed. It has been found that the storage containers of the invention are particularly useful for storing and providing access to scrapbooking supplies where many of the supplies, such as different stickers and decoration, are substantially flat so easily slide along the lids over partitions of prior art storage containers from storage compartment to storage compartment. Further, when formed as clamshell containers of thermoplastic material, the containers are light weight so that users can easily transport a number of containers side-by-side in a portable carrier.
  • [0052]
    The present invention also provides for a method for storing sortable materials including opening a lid on a storage container. A removable tray having a plurality of integrally formed partitions can be inserted into a larger storage compartment of a base of the storage container to reconfigure the larger storage container to have a plurality of smaller, coplanar storage compartments. Sortable materials, such as pins, nails, screws, bolts, nuts, paper clips, stickers, scrapbook ornamentation, and the like, can be sorted and placed into the plurality of smaller containers. The lid can be closed and a plurality of channels formed in the lid can fit over an upper portion of the plurality of partitions to restrict passage between the plurality of smaller storage compartments. The method also includes removing the removable tray and inserting a different removable tray having a different number of smaller storage compartments into the larger storage compartment to reconfigure the storage container for storing different sortable material.
  • [0053]
    While the forgoing examples are illustrative of the principles of the present invention in one or more particular applications, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications in form, usage and details of implementation can be made without the exercise of inventive faculty, and without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the claims set forth below.

Claims (19)

  1. 1. A storage container, comprising:
    a) a base, having a base storage compartment;
    b) a lid, positionable to fit over an upwardly extending perimeter wall of the storage compartment to close the storage compartment; and
    c) a spine, hinged between the base and the lid to allow articulated movement of the lid with respect to the base, the spine further comprising:
    i) a lid hinge integrally formed between an upper surface of the lid and a side of the spine;
    ii) a base hinge integrally formed between a lower surface of the base and an opposite side of the spine; and
    iii) at least one stiffener ridge, extending longitudinally along the spine, sized and shaped to stiffen the spine to reduce bowing of the spine between the lid hinge and the base hinge.
  2. 2. The container of claim 1, wherein the lid further includes a stiffener ridge adjacent the lid hinge and the base further includes a stiffener ridge adjacent the base hinge, and the stiffener ridges are sized and shape to support the lid and the base against stresses induced by the lid hinge and the base hinge respectively.
  3. 3. The container of claim 2, wherein the lid hinge and the base hinge are sized and shaped to minimize projection of the hinges away from the lid and the base respectively so as to reduce interference between adjacently stacked storage containers.
  4. 4. The container of claim 1, wherein the lid hinge and the base hinge are sized and shaped to minimize projection of the hinges away from the lid and the base respectively so as to reduce interference between adjacently stacked storage containers.
  5. 5. The container of claim 1, wherein the spine is sized and shaped to position the lid coplanar with respect to a bottom surface of the base when the lid is open.
  6. 6. The container of claim 1, further including a removable tray, sized and shaped to fit within the base storage compartment to reconfigure the base storage compartment, and having at least one partition for dividing the base storage compartment into a plurality of smaller coplanar tray storage compartments.
  7. 7. The container of claim 6, wherein the at least one partition extends upward from the base to a higher elevation than the perimeter wall and the lid includes at least one channel formed therein corresponding to the at least one partition extending above the perimeter wall such that the at least one channel closely fits over the at least one partition to restrict passage between the smaller tray storage compartments when the lid closes the base storage compartment.
  8. 8. The container of claim 7, wherein the removable tray has a particular arrangement of partitions and can be removed from the base storage compartment and replaced with another removable tray having a different arrangement of partitions, and wherein the at least one channel formed in the lid is a plurality of channels formed in the lid and positioned in the lid so that all partition arrangements of expected removable trays to be placed in the base compartment are received in at least one of the plurality of channels.
  9. 9. The container of claim 1, further including at least one partition for dividing the base storage compartment into a plurality of smaller storage compartments.
  10. 10. The container of claim 9, wherein the at least one partition extends upward from the base to a higher elevation than the perimeter wall and the lid includes at least one channel formed therein corresponding to the at least one partition extending above the perimeter wall such that the at least one channel closely fits over the at least one partition to restrict passage between the smaller storage compartments when the lid closes the base storage compartment.
  11. 11. The container of claim 1, wherein the base, the lid, and the spine, are integrally formed from a thermoplastic material.
  12. 12. The container of claim 11, wherein the thermoplastic material is at least partially translucent.
  13. 13. The container of claim 11, wherein at least portions of the thermoplastic material is transparent.
  14. 14. A storage container system, comprising:
    a) a storage container, having a base with an upwardly extending wall forming a base storage compartment, and a lid positionable to fit over the upwardly extending wall of the base storage compartment; and
    b) a plurality of interchangeable trays, each tray sized and shaped to fit within the base storage compartment to reconfigure the base storage compartment, and having at least one partition for dividing the base storage compartment into a plurality of smaller coplanar tray storage compartments.
  15. 15. A storage container, comprising:
    a) a base having a base storage compartment formed by a perimeter wall extending upward from the base and around a perimeter of the base;
    b) at least one partition extending upward from the base to a higher elevation than the perimeter wall and dividing the base storage compartment into a plurality of smaller storage compartments; and
    c) a lid, sized and shaped to tightly fit over the perimeter wall to close the storage compartment, and having at least one channel corresponding to the portion of the at least one partition extending above the perimeter wall such that the at least one channel tightly fits over the at least one partition to restrict passage between the smaller storage compartments when the lid closes the storage compartment.
  16. 16. The container of claim 15, further including a removable tray, sized and shaped to fit within the base storage compartment, said removable tray including the at least one partition dividing the base storage compartment into the plurality of smaller storage compartments.
  17. 17. The container of claim 15, wherein the removable tray has a particular arrangement of partitions and can be removed from the base storage compartment and replaced with another removable tray having a different arrangement of partitions, and wherein the at least one channel in the lid is a plurality of channels in the lid positioned in the lid so that all partition arrangements of expected removable trays to be placed in the base compartment are received in at least one of the plurality of channels.
  18. 18. A method for storing sortables, comprising:
    a) opening a lid on a storage container;
    b) inserting a removable tray having a plurality of integrally formed partitions into a larger storage compartment of a base of the storage container to reconfigure the larger storage container to have a plurality of smaller, coplanar storage compartments;
    c) placing sortable material into the plurality of smaller containers; and
    d) closing the lid so that a plurality of channels formed in the lid fit over an upper portion of the plurality of partitions to restrict passage between the plurality of smaller storage compartments.
  19. 19. The method of claim 11, further comprising:
    a) removing the removable tray from the base of the storage container; and
    b) inserting a different removable tray having a different number of smaller storage compartments into the larger storage compartment to reconfigure the storage container for storing different sortable material.
US11588098 2006-10-25 2006-10-25 Sortables storage container Abandoned US20080099485A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

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US11588098 US20080099485A1 (en) 2006-10-25 2006-10-25 Sortables storage container

Applications Claiming Priority (2)

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US11588098 US20080099485A1 (en) 2006-10-25 2006-10-25 Sortables storage container
PCT/US2007/022752 WO2008051614A3 (en) 2006-10-25 2007-10-25 Sortables storage container

Related Parent Applications (1)

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PCT/US2005/001856 A-371-Of-International WO2005072936A1 (en) 2004-01-21 2005-01-21 Apparatus and method for manufacturing pre-formatted linear optical data storage medium

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US12358964 Continuation-In-Part US9307648B2 (en) 2004-01-21 2009-01-23 Roll-to-roll patterning of transparent and metallic layers

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WO2008051614A2 (en) 2008-05-02 application

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