US20090166141A1 - Flat packing suitcase system - Google Patents

Flat packing suitcase system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090166141A1
US20090166141A1 US11/967,710 US96771007A US2009166141A1 US 20090166141 A1 US20090166141 A1 US 20090166141A1 US 96771007 A US96771007 A US 96771007A US 2009166141 A1 US2009166141 A1 US 2009166141A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
assembly
walls
shell
telescoping tubular
bag
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US11/967,710
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Robert Phillip Davis
Ken Hinman
Richard Rekuc
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HL Operating Corp
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HL Operating Corp
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Priority to US11/967,710 priority Critical patent/US20090166141A1/en
Assigned to HL OPERATING CORPORATION reassignment HL OPERATING CORPORATION ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DAVIS, ROBERT PHILLIP, HINMAN, KEN, REKUC, RICHARD
Publication of US20090166141A1 publication Critical patent/US20090166141A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C5/00Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C5/14Rigid or semi-rigid luggage with built-in rolling means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C13/00Details; Accessories
    • A45C13/26Special adaptations of handles
    • A45C13/262Special adaptations of handles for wheeled luggage
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C5/00Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C5/03Suitcases
    • A45C2005/037Suitcases with a hard shell, i.e. rigid shell as volume creating element
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C5/00Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C5/02Materials therefor
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C5/00Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C5/03Suitcases

Abstract

An improved design for a rolling suitcase having a retractable handle assembly is disclosed. The design includes a multi-piece molded shell having opposing side and end walls and a bottom wall, which together form a packing area. The telescoping tubes of the handle are located outside the packing area to maximize the packing area, and also to provide a flat bottom surface to minimize wrinkling of packed articles. The wheel skids are moved to the outer corners of the suitcase to minimize intrusion into the packing area. The tubes are made from fiber reinforced polymer for enhanced strength, and are concealed from view by a covering envelope. The handle assembly and wheel skids attach to the shell in a manner that enhances the structural strength and rigidity of the suitcase. Wear points on the handle assembly are provided with removable wear members made from abrasion-resistant material.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates to the field of wheeled suitcases, baggage items and the like, and in particular to an improved flat packing suitcase in which the handle tubes and wheel skids are moved out of the packing area to provide maximum packing volume for the case and also to reduce wrinkling of clothing articles contained therein.
  • BACKGROUND
  • A variety of designs exist for suitcases, including those with wheels for rolling transport across the ground, and those having handles that extend to cooperate with the wheels, allowing a user to pull or push the case along the ground. Such suitcases are generally rectilinear in shape, both as to their outer contour and their general internal container volume. Two spaced-apart coaxial wheels are typically mounted externally on or within a lower edge of the case. The handle can have one or more rods or tubes that slide or telescope from within in the case so as to be retractable for storage or extendable for use.
  • One problem with current case designs is that the handle tubes are contained within the packing area of the case. This arrangement provides a flat profile for the back of the case. It also serves to protect the lightweight (often aluminum) handle tubes from damage during rough handling, since large impact forces can be applied against the sides of the case if the case is dropped or thrown against a hard surface. If the outer handle tubes were to be dented, the inner tubes would either bind or be difficult to slide. In some cases this binding may prevent the handle from retracting.
  • With the handle tubes located within the case, the case frame takes the brunt of mishandling impacts, preventing dinging or denting of the tubes which could prevent the tubes from retracting or extending as intended. The problem with such an arrangement, however, is that the presence of the handle tubes within the case decreases the total volume available for receiving clothes or other articles by up to 40%. It also results in the case having an uneven interior bottom surface. To pack the case smoothly, the user must roll up small items and pack them around the tubes prior to packing larger garments. A similar problem exists with the wheel assemblies which also impinge upon the packing area.
  • It would, therefore, be advantageous to provide an improved suitcase design which maximizes the total interior space available to contain clothing or other packed articles, and that also has a flat bottom packing surface for minimizing wrinkling of packed clothing. The improved design should be lightweight, and inexpensive to manufacture and maintain.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The disadvantages heretofore associated with the prior art are overcome by the inventive design for a suitcase having a flat bottom surface for minimizing wrinkling of packed clothes.
  • In particular, the disclosed design achieves this flat bottom arrangement by moving the handle tubes out of the packing space, to the back side of the bag. The arrangement thus takes advantage of the space between the back of the bag and the rear-most extension of the wheels, which is space that goes “unused” in prior designs. Since airlines typically place restrictions on the total width of carry-on baggage (the width being measured from the top of the bag to the rear-most extension of the wheels), the disclosed design advantageously places the handle system within this formerly “dead” space between the back side of the bag and the rear-most extension of the wheels (see FIG. 5B). The resulting bag has substantially increased packing volume while maintaining the same total width as prior designs.
  • Thus, a bag assembly is disclosed, comprising a shell member having first and second side walls, first and second end walls, and a bottom. The bag assembly may further comprise a handle assembly connected to the shell member, the handle assembly having a telescoping tubular assembly comprising a fiber-reinforced polymer material. A wheel skid assembly may further be provided, the wheel skid having a pair of wheels, the wheel skid assembly connected to the shell member. The shell member may define a packing space defined by the side walls, the end walls, and the bottom, and the telescoping tubular assembly may be disposed outside of said packing space. Thus arranged, the handle assembly, wheel skid assembly and telescoping tubular member impart substantial strength and rigidity to the suitcase assembly.
  • A carrying bag is disclosed, comprising a shell member having first and second side walls and first and second end walls, and a handle assembly connected to the first end wall. The handle assembly may further have a telescoping tubular assembly connected to the first end wall via a recess in the first end wall, the telescoping tubular assembly connected to the second end wall via a projection in the end wall that receives the telescoping tubular assembly. The bag may further comprise first and second wheel assemblies connected to the second end wall. The shell member may comprise a packing space defined by the first and second side walls and the first and second end walls. The telescoping tubular assembly may comprise a glass-reinforced plastic material, and may be disposed outside of said packing space. The handle assembly may have at least one removable wear insert comprising a material having a higher resistance to abrasion than the portion of the handle assembly to which the removable wear insert connects.
  • A bag assembly is disclosed, comprising a shell assembly having first and second end walls and first and second side walls. The shell assembly may have a packing space defined by the first and second end walls and first and second side walls. A handle assembly may be provided comprising a telescoping tubular assembly having an outer tubular member with first and second ends, the first end of the outer telescoping tubular assembly connected to the first end wall and the second end of the telescoping tubular assembly connected to the second end wall, the telescoping tubular member further being disposed outside of said packing space. A tube cover may also be provided overlying said telescoping tubular member, the tube cover connected to at least one of said first and second side walls. A foam insert may be disposed around the telescoping tubular member within the tube cover. Further, a surface of the foam insert may a bottom wall of the bag assembly.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The details of the invention, both as to its structure and operation, may be obtained by a review of the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts, and in which:
  • FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the case portion of a conventional wheeled suitcase;
  • FIG. 2 is an isometric view of an interior portion of the disclosed design;
  • FIG. 3 is a reverse isometric view of the design of FIG. 2, illustrating the position of the raised covering and telescoping handle tubes;
  • FIG. 4 is a cross-section view of the design of FIG. 2, taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3, showing the raised covering, handle tubes, and tube packing material;
  • FIG. 5A is a cross-section view of the design of FIG. 2, taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 3; FIG. 5B is a detail view of the cross-section view of FIG. 5A with a superimposed phantom outline of the wheel and wheel skid assembly; FIG. 5C is a detail view of a conventional design with a superimposed phantom outline of a wheel;
  • FIG. 6 is a detail view of the interaction between one of the telescoping handle tubes and the shell of the suitcase;
  • FIG. 7 is a detail view of the interaction between the telescoping handle tube of FIG. 6 and the shell of the suitcase;
  • FIG. 8A is an isometric view of the shell of the design of FIG. 2; FIGS. 8B-D are detail views of configurations for connecting the end walls and side walls of the shell of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 9 is an isometric view of an end wall portion of the shell of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 10 is a side view of the shell of the design of FIG. 2, showing the position of the handle assembly and one of the wheel skids with respect to the side and end walls of the shell;
  • FIG. 11 is an isometric view of another end wall portion of the shell of FIG. 8A;
  • FIG. 12 is an isometric view of a handle tray portion of the design of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 13A is an isometric view of the tube members making up the handle assembly of the design of FIG. 2; FIG. 13B is a cross-section view of one of the tube members of FIG. 13A
  • FIG. 14 is an end view of the shell of FIG. 8A; and
  • FIG. 15 is an opposite end view of the shell of FIG. 8A.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • A new design is disclosed for an improved wheeled suitcase in which the retractable handle tubes and the wheel recesses are located outside of the packing area of the case to maximize the total volume available to receive packed articles, and to provide a flat bottom profile to the case interior to minimize wrinkling of packed articles. Although the disclosure will generally be discussed in relation to a wheeled suitcase application, it will be appreciated that it will be equally applicable to a wide variety of other wheeled carrying products, such as duffels, garments bags, totes, backpacks, business cases and sport bags.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, a conventional wheeled suitcase 1 (shown without its cover for clarity) has a rectilinear case portion 2 comprising a plurality of walls 4 a-d, a wheel base portion 6 and a handle portion 8 comprising a handle 10 connected to a pair of telescoping tubes 12 a, 12 b. For clarity, the suitcase is shown without the interior fabric trim, and also without a cover or lid. As can be seen, the telescoping tubes 12 a, 12 b are contained within the packing area 14 of the case 1, where they impinge upon the packing area 14 and forming an uneven bottom surface 16 upon which packed articles would be placed. As previously noted, this arrangement reduces the total amount of space available for receiving packed articles, and the uneven bottom surface 16 leads to wrinkling of clothing articles packed within the case 1. Wheels 7 are attached to wall 4 b in a “sunken” wheel skid configuration that also impinges upon the packing area 14, further reducing the total area available.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 2-6, the disclosed case 18 may comprise a rectilinear case portion 20 within which clothing or other articles may be received. The case 18 may also have a hinged top portion 54 that is closeable using a typical zippered connection. (Note that for purposes of clarity, the interior fabric overlays, liners and pockets are not shown in the figures. It will be appreciated that any of a variety of such materials and configurations can be used with the disclosed design to form a finished product.) The case portion 20 may comprise a structural shell 22 formed by first and second side walls 24, 26 and first and second end walls 28, 30. The case portion 20 may also have a bottom 32 wall, though the bottom wall 32 may or may not be an integral part of the structural shell 22. In one embodiment the bottom wall 32 is a separate flat piece that is screwed or otherwise fixed to one or more of the side and end walls. A telescoping handle assembly 34 may be attached to the shell 22 adjacent the first end wall 28, and a pair of wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 may be attached to the shell 22 adjacent the second end wall 30. The telescoping handle assembly 34 may comprise a grasping portion 40 connected to a pair of telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 fixed to the shell 22 adjacent the first and second end walls 28, 30, respectively. At least a portion of the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 may be enclosed within a cover 48 disposed on an exterior surface 50 of the bottom wall 32. The cover 48 may be filled with an appropriate packing material 52 to lend firm support and/or shape to the cover 48 and also to provide protection to the tubular assemblies 42, 44. The packing material 52 may also provide support for at least a portion of the bottom wall 32 of the case 18 (indeed in some cases it may form the bottom wall 32).
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, the top portion 54 of the case 18 is shown attached to the case portion 20 via a hinge 56 that connects the portions 20, 54 along a common side edge in a well known manner. The top portion 54 may have a rest member 46 comprising one or more abrasion-resistant feet 47 connected to an end wall 58 of the top portion 54 adjacent to the second end wall 30 of the case portion 20. The rest member 46 may be sized to allow a user to stand the case 18 in an even, upright position. In one embodiment, the abrasion-resistant feet 47 may be removable, and may be manufactured from a material that is different from that of the rest member 46. For example, the abrasion-resistant feet 47 may be made from a highly durable material such as Zytel nylon or the like. The high durability of this material enhances the longevity of the feet 47, while the removability feature allows for quick and easy refurbishment should one or more of the feet become damaged or worn over time.
  • The positioning and support of the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 is shown in FIGS. 4-7. As can be seen, the telescoping tubular assemblies are disposed between cover 48 and the bottom wall 32 of the case portion 20. A quantity of packing material is disposed about the telescoping tubular assemblies to protect the assemblies and also to provide support to the cover 48 and the bottom wall 32. Referring to FIG. 5A, telescoping tubular assembly 44 is shown supported at a distal end 44 a end by the second end wall 30 at a proximal end 44 b by the first end wall 28 and a handle tray 100 (described in greater detail later). FIG. 5B shows the position, in phantom, of the wheel assembly 110 and wheel skid 38, illustrating that the top of the cover 48 is substantially even with the top of the wheel 110 and wheel skid 28. Thus, as previously noted, the cover 48 (with telescoping tubular assemblies enclosed) can be seen residing within the space between the back side of the bag and the rear-most extension of the wheels. FIG. 5C shows a conventional design in which handle tubes “HT” are located within the packing space “PS”. As can be seen, the “dead” space “A” between the backside “B” of the bag and the rearmost extension of the wheel “W” is not utilized in the conventional design.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 8A through 12, the structural shell 22 will now be described in greater detail. As previously noted, the shell 22 may comprise first and second side walls 24, 26 and first and second end walls 28, 30 connected together to form the generally rectilinear shape of the case portion 20. In one embodiment the walls are individually formed from a lightweight molded polymer material, which in one embodiment is a polypropylene material. Acceptable alternative materials include polyester, nylon, polystyrene, polyethylene, ABS or other thermoset polymers or resin reinforced materials such as fiberglass or reaction injected poly foams, as well as carbon reinforced and/or graphite reinforced polymers. To enhance strength and stiffness of the shell, the walls may be provided with a plurality of integral reinforcing ribs 60. Additionally, since the corners of a suitcase structure may be subjected to a majority of the twisting stress that will be experienced during handling and use, the corners 62 of the shell 22 may be formed as integral parts of the end walls 28, 30. Thus, the end walls 28, 30 may connect to the side walls 24, 26 at joints 64, 66 disposed a distance “CD” from the actual geometric corners of the case portion 20. The first and second side walls 24, 26, therefore, may form substantially straight wall sections.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the shell 22 formed by the interconnection of the side walls and end walls does not have a solid bottom wall 32 (FIG. 2). As will be described in greater detail later, the bottom wall 32 of the packing area may be formed by a separate flat wall element made from cardboard, polymer or the like, that is sized and fit to engage one or more of the first and second end walls 28, 30 to form a solid flat bottom packing surface for the finished case. The side walls 24, 26 and end walls 28 of the illustrated embodiment do, however, form a portion of a bottom wall of the shell 22 by nature of respective curved lower portions 24 a, 26 a, 28 a, 30 a, associated with each wall. These curved lower portions lend a desirable curved form to the edges of the case, and also provide strength at the lower edges of the case due to their integral formation with each wall section.
  • As noted, the corners 62 of the illustrated shell 22 are rounded, providing an aesthetically pleasing final appearance to the finished case portion 20. It will be appreciated that the corners 62 (as well as the end and side walls) may be formed in any of a variety of shapes and curvatures to provide a desired finished case shape (e.g., rectangular with square corners, square with round corners, round, etc.) Additionally, though the corners 62 are shown as being integrally formed with the first and second end walls 28, 30, they could alternatively be made integral parts of the first and second side walls 24, 26 (in which case the end walls would be substantially straight.)
  • The first and second end walls 28, 30 may connect to the first and second side walls 24, 26 in any of a variety of joining arrangements, but most preferably with an arrangement incorporating a self-retaining feature. In one exemplary embodiment, simple tongue 68 and groove 82 connections may be used (FIG. 8B, FIG. 9). Alternatively, affirmatively locking ratchet tooth projections 72 can be provided on one piece and correspondingly ribbed recesses (not shown) provided on the other piece (FIG. 8C). Additionally, one or more releasable locking tongues 74 can be provided on one piece and a corresponding recess or recesses provided on the other piece (FIG. 8D). Any of these connection configurations may be supplemented by the use of an appropriate adhesive, screws or other fasteners. It will be appreciated that a snap-together arrangement (using ratchet teeth or releasable tongues) provides a shell 22 that is easier and faster to assemble as compared to traditional riveted designs. Further, using an inexpensive molded polymer material to form the end and side walls 24, 26, 28, 30 reduces the overall material cost for producing the case 18, and also desirably reduces the overall weight of the case.
  • Although the shell 22 has been described as being made up of four discrete wall elements, it could instead be formed of any number of pieces desired to achieve the goals of ease of manufacture, reduced cost, increased strength, and the like. Thus, in one alternative, the entire shell 22 may be formed as a single molded piece, or as a two molded pieces.
  • As can be seen throughout the figures, the walls of the shell 22 may further have a variety of recesses and/or holes 76 stamped, molded or cut into the walls. These recesses and/or holes may be suitable for receiving fasteners (e.g., screws, rivets) to allow other structural elements (handles, wheel skids) to be connected to the shell 22 at desired locations.
  • Although the shell 22 may be formed of lightweight polymer materials, the overall case design may be exploited to enhance the overall strength and structural rigidity of the assembly. Thus, as shown in FIG. 9, the second end wall 30 may be configured to engage the first and second telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44, and the first and second wheel skids 36, 38. The second end wall 30 may comprise an upright wall portion 78, curved corners 62, and an angled bottom portion 80. Visible in FIG. 9 are the recesses 82 that will receive the projections 68, 72, 74 formed in the associated side walls 24, 26 to lock the side walls 24, 26 to the end wall 30. As previously noted, the end wall 30 may have a plurality of reinforcing ribs 60 integrally molded into the interior surfaces of the wall, as well as a plurality of holes 76 for receiving screws or other fasteners to allow attachment of handles, fabric and the like to the shell 22.
  • Disposed at either end of the angled bottom portion 80 are curved recesses 84 sized and configured to receive corresponding portions of the first and second wheel skids 36, 38. First and second projecting tabs 85 are further provided on the angled bottom portion 80 in line with the curved recesses 84. These projecting tabs 85 are configured to engage a forward extending portion 36 a, 38 a (FIGS. 8A, 10) of each of the wheel skids 36, 38 to lock the wheel skids 36, 38 to the end wall 30. As can be seen, each of the projecting tabs 85 has a plurality of holes for receiving fasteners to fasten the wheel skids to the end wall. It will be appreciated that the pieces could also be glued.
  • The end wall 30 may further have a pair of tubular support members 86, 88 located inboard of the curved recesses 84. These tubular support members 86, 88 may each be configured to receive a distal end 42 a, 44 a (FIG. 10) of a respective telescoping tubular assembly 42, 44 to fix the assemblies to the end wall 30. The tubular support members 86, 88 may be sized to fit within the inner surface of the associated tubular assembly, or they may be sized to receive the end of the tubular assembly therein. To ensure long term tight engagement between the assemblies and the end wall, the distal ends 42 a, 44 a of the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 may be glued, pinned or otherwise fastened to the support members 86, 88.
  • Referring again to FIG. 8A and FIG. 11, the first end wall 28 may have a similar general form to that of the second end wall 30 in that it may have an upright “wall” portion 90, curved corners 62 and a bottom portion 92. Reinforcing ribs 60 may be provided, as may holes 76 for attaching other structures, fabric and the like. The first end wall 28 may also have a pair of tube support surfaces 94, 96, each of which is configured to support a proximal end 42 b, 44 b of a respective tubular support assembly 42, 44. In the illustrated embodiment, the tube support surfaces 94, 96 each has a surface that generally conforms to the outer surface of the associated tubular support assembly.
  • The first end wall 28 may further include a handle tray recess 98 provided between the tube support surfaces 94, 96 and the upright wall portion 90 for engaging a handle tray 100 (FIG. 12). The handle tray 100 may be used to fix the proximal ends 42 b, 44 b of the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 to the shell. (As will be described in greater detail later, this fixing of the proximal ends 42 b, 44 b does not prevent the assemblies from operating to extend/retract the handle 40.) In the illustrated embodiment, the handle tray 100 serves as a bushing for the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44. In particular, it may be the first bushing between the first and second stages (e.g., tubular members 106 and 105) of each assembly 42, 44.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the handle tray 100 engages the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 in two ways. First, a pair of recesses 101 are provided to slidingly engage the assemblies 42, 44 to hold them in place in place during use. The recesses 101 have shapes that generally conform to the outer shape of the associated tubular assembly, but are also provided with sufficient clearance that the tubular assemblies 42, 44 are allowed to extend and retract without restriction from the handle tray 100. Second, the handle tray 100 may have a distal portion 102, that, when assembled to the first end wall 28 of the shell, directly overlies the tube support surfaces 94, 96 of the first end wall 28. This connection sandwiches the proximal ends 42 b, 44 b of the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 between the handle tray 100 and the tube support surfaces 94, 96 to hold the assemblies in place. Additional methods of fixation, such as suitable adhesive, pinning, screwing or other fasteners can also be used to ensure a tight and long lasting connection between the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 and the shell 22.
  • On a top surface 103 of the handle tray 100, a removable wear plate 107 may be provided. This removable wear plate 107 is positioned so that when the case 18 is laid down on its back it rests on the removable wear plate 107. This protects the handle assembly 34 and the handle tray 100 from contact with the ground or other hard surface on which the bag may be laid. It also reduces wear on the cover 48 and keeps water and debris off the case 18. The removable wear plate 107 may be made from a material that is different from the material of the rest of the handle tray 100. For example, the removable wear plate 107 may be made from a highly durable material such as Zytel nylon or the like, which enhances the longevity of the plate 107. The removability feature allows for quick and easy refurbishment should the wear plate 107 become damaged or worn over time. In one embodiment the wear plate 107 is screwed to the handle tray. In an alternative embodiment, a snap-fit feature may allow quick assembly and disconnection of the plate 107.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 13A and 13B, the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 may each comprise a plurality of individual tubular members, each of which is sized to be slidable within the next larger-sized member. For purposes of illustration three tubular members 104, 105 and 106 are shown. It will be appreciated, however, that the number of tubular members is not critical, such that more or fewer could be used.
  • Each of the tubular members 104, 105, 106 may be sized so that the next smaller member is easily slidable within the next larger member. Thus, member 104 (referred to as the inner member) is easily slidable within member 105 (referred to as the middle member), and the middle member is easily slidable within member 106 (referred to as the outer member). As previously described, the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 are fixed to corresponding structures of the first and second end walls 28, 30. In one embodiment, it is only the outer member 106 of each assembly 42, 44 that is fixed directly to the first and second end walls 42, 44, leaving the inner and middle members 104, 105 free to extend and retract with respect to the outer member 106 and the shell 22.
  • One benefit of this fixed outer tubular member 106 arrangement is that it enhances the stiffness and strength to the case 18, particularly when the tubular members 104, 105, 106 are made from a reinforced fiberglass material.
  • The inner, middle and outer members 104, 105, 106 may be of substantially the same or similar length, or they may be of substantially different lengths. They should, however, be sized so that when the inner and middle members 104, 105 are fully extended from the outer member 106 that the handle is presented at a comfortable position for the user.
  • The inner, middle and outer members 104, 105, 106 may have any of a variety of outer geometric configurations, such as round, square, rectangular, and the like. In one preferred embodiment, the members 104, 105, 106 have an oval or oblong cross-section (FIG. 13B) to reduce the profile of the tubular members, which enhances the strength of the members and also minimizes the extent of their protrusion from the back side of the case 18.
  • In one embodiment, the inner member has a major diameter “MajD” of ¾-inch and a minor diameter “MinD” of ⅜-inch, the middle member has a major diameter “MajD” of 1-inch and a minor diameter “MinD” of ½ inch, and the outer member has a major diameter “MajD” of 1¼-inch and a minor diameter “MinD” of ¾-inch. Each of the inner, middle and outer members 104, 105, 106 may have a nominal wall thickness of from about 0.055-inches to about 0.0120. In a preferred embodiment, the wall thickness may be about 0.070-inches. Although these thicknesses are generally larger than the thicknesses of traditional metal (Aluminum) tubing used in similar applications, the tubular members 104, 106 are still relatively light-weight owing to their polymeric construction. Additionally, polymeric tubes may be less expensive than aluminum or other commonly used metals.
  • The inner and outer members 104, 106 also may be fabricated from any of a number of materials, such as aluminum, steel or polymer. In one embodiment, the inner and outer members 104, 106 are formed from carbon-reinforced glass filled polymer material to provide enhanced strength and durability. As previously noted, making the tubular members from a high strength material such as carbon reinforced glass filled polymer also enhances the strength and rigidity of the case 18 because, as explained, the outer tubular members 106 are fixed to the end walls 28, 30 of the shell. The outer tubular members 106 thus act as rigidifying bars that prevent deformation of the case even when it is subjected to rough handling in use. The substantial strength (and imperviousness to denting, dinging, or kinking) provided by the tubular members allows the remainder of the case to be highly flexible and thus more impact resistant.
  • The telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 (more particularly, the inner tubular member 104 of each assembly) may be attached to the handle 40 using gluing, press-fitting, fasteners, or the like. The handle assembly 34 may be movable through a range of position between the extreme retracted position and the extreme extended position, and the user may wish to roll the case along with the handle fully extended or only partially extended. A detent (not shown) may be provided to fix the handle at defined positions. The grasping portion 40 may comprise a graspable sleeve made from leather, vinyl plastic or the like.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 8A, 10, 14 and 15, the wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 may each have a wheel assembly 108, 110 comprising a wheel and axle combination. In one embodiment, the axle is threaded and threads into a correspondingly-threaded nut that is held within the associated wheel skid assembly 36, 38 by a nut holder. The nut holder has an external geometry that corresponds to a recess in the wheel skid assembly to prevent rotation (so the axle can be threaded into the nut during installation).
  • The wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 may each be positioned to overlie a respective corner 62 of the end wall 30 of the shell 22. The assemblies may have forward extending portions 36 a, 38 a that cover a portion of the joint 66 between the end wall 30 and the associated side wall 24, 26. The forward extending portions 36 a, 38 a may include screw recesses suitable for receiving screws to engage the end wall 30 and associated side wall 24, 26 to firmly fix the wheel skids to the shell 22. A rearward extending portion 36 b, 38 b of each wheel skid assembly 36, 38 cradles an associated corner 62 of the second end wall 30. Thus arranged, the wheel skid assemblies bridge the joints 66 between the end and side walls 30, 24, 26, and enhance the overall strength and rigidity of the shell 22.
  • The forward and rearward extending portions 36 a, 38 a; 36 b, 38 b also provide a large area of protection to traditional “wear points” of the case (i.e., the wheel skids protect the fabric/leather covering near the corners and edges of the case).
  • In addition, the wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 incorporate wheel-protection features as well, including a bottom bumper 112, 114 in front of each wheel 108, 110 to protect the wheels from high impact loads that can occur when the case is wheeled up over a curb or other surface obstruction. In addition, as can be seen in FIGS. 10 and 15, the wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 enclose a substantial portion of the sides of each wheel 108, 110, thus protecting the wheels from side impact loads.
  • In addition to providing enhance structural stability to the shell 22, positioning the wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 at the outer corners 62 of the shell 22 also enhances the rolling stability of the case as compared to traditional designs that position the wheel skids inboard of the case corners (see FIG. 1). This enhanced stability reduces the chance for “rocking” of the case which can lead to a loss of control when turning corners and when moving at higher speeds.
  • The wheels themselves 108, 110 can be selected from any of a variety of known designs. In one preferred embodiment, the wheels have a nylon core with a polyurethane overmold tread such as may be found in high speed roller applications. The wheel skid assemblies may be made from any of a variety of high durability polymers, including ABS. Other polymer materials are also acceptable.
  • In addition, although the disclosure has described the wheel skid assemblies 36, 38 as each having a single wheel 108, 110, it will be appreciated that each wheels skid assembly may incorporate more than one wheel, depending on the size of the particular bag. In addition, more than two wheel skid assemblies may be provided. For example, a wheel skid assembly could be placed at each of the four corners of the shell 22. Alternatively, for large bags, an additional wheel skid assembly could be placed at or near the midpoint of one of the bag walls to provided added rolling support.
  • As described, the disclosed design differs from conventional designs in which the handle assemblies and wheel assemblies are simply “tacked on” to the finished frame, and thus supply little if any additional strength or rigidity for the finished case. With the present design, the wheel skids 36, 38, handle tray 100 and telescoping tubular members 42, 44 are designed and engaged with the shell 22 so as to impart substantial structural strength and rigidity to the case 18 as compared to conventional designs. This additional strength and rigidity enables the shell 22 itself (i.e., the individual wall components) to be fabricated from molded polypropylene or other lightweight polymer, while still resulting in a case having acceptable strength and a lighter weight as compared to current metal and/or laminated cardboard designs.
  • As previously noted with respect to FIGS. 3-7, the cover 48 may enclose the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 to protect them from damage. The cover 48 also provides an integrated overall appearance to the back side of the case 18. The cover 48 may be molded out of the same material (fabric, leather, etc.) used as a final covering for the case. This material may be laminated to a resilient latex impregnated board, or a suitable elastomeric resilient board, that is then molded in a preformed press with pressure and heat. The pressure and heat from the mold laminates the covering to the board and causes the panel to take and hold the shape of the mold. This molding provides a tunnel for the telescoping tubular assemblies 42, 44 to reside in. Once the tubes are inserted within the cover 48, the cover provides protection to keep the assemblies free of unsightly scratches and abrasions in the resin. The excess space inside the cover 48 that is not consumed by the tubular assemblies 42, 44 is packed with a packing material 52 that conforms to the shape of the tubes and the tunnel. This packing material levels the packing area inside the case 18, provides support for the bottom wall 32, and gives the cover 48 long term shape retention.
  • In one embodiment, the packing material 52 comprises a pre-formed closed cell polyurethane foam material. In another embodiment, the packing material comprises a foamed-in polyurethane material that is introduced into the space between the cover 48 and the tubular assemblies 42, 44 in an uncured state, and which cures in place to conform exactly to the interior geometry of the cover and tubes. These are but two exemplary embodiments, and other appropriate packing materials may be used.
  • While the disclosure has been be termed in the context of a generally rectilinear suitcase, it will be appreciated that it is fully applicable to luggage of any of a wide variety of styles and sizes, including hard and soft-sided luggage. Thus, it will be understood that the description and drawings presented herein represent particular exemplary embodiments of the disclosure, and are therefore merely representative of the subject matter that is broadly contemplated. It will be understood, therefore, that the scope of the disclose encompasses other embodiments that may become obvious to those skilled in the art, and that the scope of the disclosure is accordingly limited by nothing other than the appended claims.

Claims (20)

1. A bag assembly, comprising:
a shell member having first and second side walls, first and second end walls, and a bottom;
a handle assembly connected to the shell member, the handle assembly having a telescoping tubular assembly comprising a fiber-reinforced polymer material; and
a wheel skid assembly having a pair of wheels, the wheel skid assembly connected to the shell member;
wherein the shell member defines a packing space defined by the side walls, the end walls, and the bottom, and the telescoping tubular assembly is disposed outside of said packing space;
and wherein the handle assembly, wheel skid assembly and telescoping tubular member impart a strength and rigidity to the suitcase assembly over that attributable to the multi-piece shell member alone.
2. The bag assembly of claim 1, further comprising a cover disposed over an exterior surface of the bottom wall of the shell member, the cover concealing the telescoping tubular member, wherein filler material is positioned between the cover member, the exterior surface of the bottom, and the telescoping tubular assembly to support the bottom and to provide shape to the covering member; and wherein the cover does not extend beyond a rearward extension of the wheels.
3. The bag assembly of claim 2, wherein the filler material comprises a pre-molded foam.
4. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein the handle assembly engages a portion of the bottom wall adjacent to the first end wall, the handle assembly further comprising a bearing element; wherein when the suitcase assembly is placed on a substantially flat surface so that the suitcase assembly is supported by the wheels and the handle assembly, the bearing element is configured to contact the substantially flat surface to protect the handle assembly from abrasion; and wherein the bearing element is made from a material that is different from the material of the remainder of the handle assembly.
5. The bag assembly of claim 4, wherein the bearing element is releasably connectable to the remainder of the handle assembly to allow replacement of the bearing element without replacing the handle assembly.
6. The bag assembly of claim 4, wherein the bearing element has a greater resistance to abrasion than the portion of the handle assembly to which it is connected.
7. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein the telescoping tubular assembly comprises a plurality of individual tubes each having an oval cross-section.
8. The bag assembly of claim 7, wherein the plurality of individual tubes are made from a fiber reinforced polymer resin.
9. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein the shell is a multipiece shell having first and second side walls and first and second end walls with cooperating structures that enable the walls to be snapped together.
10. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein a portion of the handle assembly cooperates with a portion of the first end wall to engage an outer surface of the telescoping tubular assembly.
11. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein the telescoping tubular member engages a cooperating surface on the second end wall to thereby impart strength and rigidity to the shell member.
12. The bag assembly of claim 1, wherein the wheel skid assembly comprises at least two wheel skids attached to opposite corners of the shell member.
13. A carrying bag, comprising:
a shell member having first and second side walls and first and second end walls;
a handle assembly connected to the first end wall, the handle assembly further having a telescoping tubular assembly connected to the first end wall via a recess in the first end wall, the telescoping tubular assembly connected to the second end wall via a projection in the end wall that receives the telescoping tubular assembly; and
first and second wheel assemblies connected to the second end wall;
wherein the shell member comprises a packing space defined by the first and second side walls and the first and second end walls;
wherein the telescoping tubular assembly comprises a glass-reinforced plastic material, and is disposed outside of said packing space; and
wherein the handle assembly has at least one removable wear insert comprising a material having a higher resistance to abrasion than the portion of the handle assembly to which the removable wear insert connects.
14. The bag assembly of claim 13, further comprising a cover disposed over an exterior surface of the bottom wall of the shell member, the cover concealing the telescoping tubular assembly, wherein filler material is positioned between the cover member, the exterior surface of the bottom, and the telescoping tubular member to support the bottom and to provide shape to the covering member; and wherein a rearward extension of the cover does not extend beyond a rearward extension of the first and second wheel assemblies.
15. The bag assembly of claim 14, wherein the filler material comprises a pre-molded foam.
16. The bag assembly of claim 13, wherein the telescoping tubular assembly comprises a plurality of individual tubes each having an oval cross-section.
17. The bag assembly of claim 16, wherein the plurality of individual tubes are made from a fiber reinforced polymer resin.
18. The bag assembly of claim 13, wherein the first and second side walls and first and second end walls have cooperating structures that enable the walls to be snapped together.
19. The bag assembly of claim 13, wherein the wheel skid assembly comprises a pair of individual wheel skids attached to opposite corners of the shell member.
20. A bag assembly, comprising:
a shell assembly comprising first and second end walls and first and second side walls, the shell assembly having a packing space defined by the first and second end walls and first and second side walls;
a handle assembly comprising a telescoping tubular assembly having an outer tubular member with first and second ends, the first end of the outer telescoping tubular assembly connected to the first end wall and the second end of the telescoping tubular assembly connected to the second end wall, the telescoping tubular member further being disposed outside of said packing space; and
a tube cover overlying said telescoping tubular member, the tube cover connected to at least one of said first and second side walls; and
a foam insert disposed around said telescoping tubular member within said tube cover;
wherein a surface of the foam insert forms a bottom wall of said bag assembly.
US11/967,710 2007-12-31 2007-12-31 Flat packing suitcase system Abandoned US20090166141A1 (en)

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US11/967,710 US20090166141A1 (en) 2007-12-31 2007-12-31 Flat packing suitcase system
PCT/US2008/088528 WO2009088853A2 (en) 2007-12-31 2008-12-30 Flat packing suitcase system

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WO2015023327A1 (en) * 2013-08-14 2015-02-19 Wax Saul Barry Bottled beverage carrying suitcase system
JP2015033424A (en) * 2013-08-08 2015-02-19 アジア・ラゲージ株式会社 Roller bag
USD746061S1 (en) * 2013-10-30 2015-12-29 Saul Barry Wax Suitcase insert
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US9616562B2 (en) 2014-07-22 2017-04-11 Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Tool storage devices
US20170181512A1 (en) * 2015-12-28 2017-06-29 Quest Composite Technology Corporation Carry-on luggage
USD796204S1 (en) 2015-05-14 2017-09-05 Saul Barry Wax Suitcase insert
US9872547B2 (en) 2015-11-25 2018-01-23 Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Handle assembly for a case
US20180027936A1 (en) * 2015-02-26 2018-02-01 Victorinox Ag Wheel arrangement for a suitcase
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USD844324S1 (en) 2015-07-17 2019-04-02 Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Bag

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JP2015033424A (en) * 2013-08-08 2015-02-19 アジア・ラゲージ株式会社 Roller bag
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USD746061S1 (en) * 2013-10-30 2015-12-29 Saul Barry Wax Suitcase insert
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US10773374B2 (en) 2014-07-22 2020-09-15 Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Tool storage devices
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US10660416B2 (en) * 2015-02-26 2020-05-26 Victorinox Ag Wheel arrangement for a suitcase
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GB2538978A (en) * 2015-06-01 2016-12-07 It Luggage Ltd Article of luggage
USD844324S1 (en) 2015-07-17 2019-04-02 Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Bag
US20180311521A1 (en) * 2015-10-30 2018-11-01 Tacbac Verwaltungs Gbr Method and device for handling a hose supply
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