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WO2007070029A1 - Container sidewall and related methods - Google Patents

Container sidewall and related methods Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007070029A1
WO2007070029A1 PCT/US2005/045050 US2005045050W WO2007070029A1 WO 2007070029 A1 WO2007070029 A1 WO 2007070029A1 US 2005045050 W US2005045050 W US 2005045050W WO 2007070029 A1 WO2007070029 A1 WO 2007070029A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
sidewall
panel
wall
structure
generally
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2005/045050
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Roger Nolan
Original Assignee
Linpac Materials Handling
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Linpac Materials Handling filed Critical Linpac Materials Handling
Priority to PCT/US2005/045050 priority Critical patent/WO2007070029A1/en
Publication of WO2007070029A1 publication Critical patent/WO2007070029A1/en

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Classifications

    • 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
    • B65D11/00Containers having bodies formed by interconnecting or uniting two or more rigid, or substantially rigid, components made wholly or mainly of plastics material
    • B65D11/02Containers having bodies formed by interconnecting or uniting two or more rigid, or substantially rigid, components made wholly or mainly of plastics material of curved cross-section
    • B65D11/06Drums or barrels
    • 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
    • B65D19/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D19/02Rigid pallets with side walls, e.g. box pallets
    • B65D19/06Rigid pallets with side walls, e.g. box pallets with bodies formed by uniting or interconnecting two or more components
    • B65D19/18Rigid pallets with side walls, e.g. box pallets with bodies formed by uniting or interconnecting two or more components made wholly or mainly of plastics material
    • 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
    • B65D65/00Wrappers or flexible covers; Packaging materials of special type or form
    • B65D65/38Packaging materials of special type or form
    • B65D65/40Applications of laminates for particular packaging purposes
    • B65D65/406Applications of laminates for particular packaging purposes with at least one layer provided with a relief other than corrugations
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00014Materials for the load supporting surface
    • B65D2519/00024Metal
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00014Materials for the load supporting surface
    • B65D2519/00034Plastic
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00049Materials for the base surface
    • B65D2519/00059Metal
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00049Materials for the base surface
    • B65D2519/00069Plastic
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00119Materials for the construction of the reinforcements
    • B65D2519/00139Plastic
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00154Materials for the side walls
    • B65D2519/00164Metal
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00154Materials for the side walls
    • B65D2519/00174Plastic
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00263Overall construction of the pallet
    • B65D2519/00273Overall construction of the pallet made of more than one piece
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00283Overall construction of the load supporting surface
    • B65D2519/00303Cell type, e.g. honeycomb
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00313Overall construction of the base surface
    • B65D2519/00328Overall construction of the base surface shape of the contact surface of the base
    • B65D2519/00338Overall construction of the base surface shape of the contact surface of the base contact surface having a discrete foot-like shape
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00398Overall construction reinforcements
    • B65D2519/00432Non-integral, e.g. inserts
    • B65D2519/00437Non-integral, e.g. inserts on the load supporting surface
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00398Overall construction reinforcements
    • B65D2519/00432Non-integral, e.g. inserts
    • B65D2519/00452Non-integral, e.g. inserts on the walls
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00398Overall construction reinforcements
    • B65D2519/00432Non-integral, e.g. inserts
    • B65D2519/00457Non-integral, e.g. inserts on the lid or cover
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00492Overall construction of the side walls
    • B65D2519/00517Overall construction of the side walls cell type, e.g. honeycomb
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00547Connections
    • B65D2519/00577Connections structures connecting side walls, including corner posts, to each other
    • B65D2519/00582Connections structures connecting side walls, including corner posts, to each other structures intended to be disassembled, i.e. collapsible or dismountable
    • B65D2519/00611Connections structures connecting side walls, including corner posts, to each other structures intended to be disassembled, i.e. collapsible or dismountable side walls maintained connected to each other by means of auxiliary locking elements, e.g. spring loaded locking pins
    • 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
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00547Connections
    • B65D2519/00636Connections structures connecting side walls to the pallet
    • B65D2519/00641Structures intended to be disassembled

Abstract

The invention provides for, among other things, improved strength/weight ratio in a sidewall, (30) panel, or similar structure. The invention can be used in many applications, including in multi-part and/or collapsible or other containers, components of such containers (including for example drop doors, lids, pallets, bases, and other components, load bearing or other structural components, barriers, walls, or similar apparatus. The sidewall/panel (30) includes a structural support network (35) having inner (40) and outer surfaces (45) positioned offset from each other and an interconnecting support frame (50) positioned therebetween. In a preferred embodiment, the support frame (50) includes generally planar inner/outer offset (40, 45) or alternating surfaces, and at least one geometric shaped support member (55). Related methods are disclosed.

Description

CONTAINER SIDEWALL AND RELATED METHODS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001] This invention relates generally to container sidewalls (but can be used in a wide

variety of panels, sidewalls, drop doors, bases, pallets, or similar panels), and specifically to

apparatus and methods for improving the strength and reducing the weight of such panels. Broadly, the invention includes providing a structural support network having generally planar

inner and outer surfaces positioned offset from each other (so that they are not co-planar), and

an interconnecting support frame, preferably including at least one support member, positioned therebetween.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[002] A wide variety of containers for the carry, storage, and/or transport, of various items exist. Although manufacturers typically incorporate into each type container features

unique for the container's intended purpose or application, generally most containers can benefit from improved strength and reduced weight. Accordingly, there exists a need for a container sidewall or panel configuration that is adaptable for a wide variety of applications requiring

additional strength and reduced weight, when compared with similar type containers. Similar

needs and benefits exist for panels in many other applications besides containers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [003] The invention provides for, among other things, improved strength/weight ratio

in a sidewall panel (or other container elements or similar apparatus, including things such as

drop doors, bases, tops, or similar structures; components or apparatus useful in multi-part and/or collapsible containers, pallets, and other related devices). The sidewall/panel includes a

structural support network having generally planar inner and outer surfaces positioned offset from each other and an interconnecting support frame positioned therebetween. In one

embodiment, the support frame includes at least one hexagon shaped support member.

[004] Although the particular shape or form of one or more support members and

assembly can vary widely, preferably the present invention includes a plurality of hexagon (or

other geometrically) shaped support members within a single sidewall or panel. Among other

things, this can further strengthen the sidewall/panel, and can enable larger sizes of sidewalls/panels to be formed and used in a wide variety of applications. The wall thickness of

the panel elements can be relatively thin (and therefore relatively lightweight) compared to prior

art technology, while providing improved strength.

[005] Another way of describing the invention is that it is directed to an improved design for structural panels, using an interconnected pattern or web of shapes (triangles,

hexagons, and/or other geometric or even "free-hand" shapes, etc.) with alternating

internal/external surfaces. Although one embodiment of the alternating surfaces has them

formed in parallel planes (which provides the effect on each opposing face of the panel or structural element, of a generally planar surface that is "pockmarked" by indentions), the

surfaces could be formed in non-parallel arrangements and/or in non-planar configurations.

[006] hi addition, other of the many examples of embodiments of the invention include multi-planar configurations, in which one or more of the "alternating" surfaces are neither completely "internal" or "external", but instead somewhere in between, hi other words, using an

analogy of a multilayer sandwich (e.g., meat and cheese and tomato on plain sliced white bread) in place of the finished panel or structural elements, instead of all of the "alternating" surfaces

being located just in the two "bread slice" planes, some of the "alternating" surfaces could be

located in one or more interior planes (such as in the meat plane, the tomato plane, and/or the cheese plane). As above, one or more of the "alternating" surfaces (whether internal, external, or in between) could also be non-parallel to others of the "alternating" surfaces.

[007] The geometric and/or free-hand shapes are virtually unlimited, and multiple

shapes can be combined within a single panel. Conventional panel reinforcing ribs or similar structures can be used in conjunction with the shapes/patterns. The shapes or pattern can cover

the entire panel or other part, or can be positioned only in strategic areas.

[008] The geometric/free-hand elements can be of virtually any size and shape, and the

wall thickness of the panel and its elements is virtually unlimited. The invention can be

practiced in a wide variety of panel shapes, including (by way of example and not by way of limitation) curved planes, flat planes, spheres, or any type surface or planar irregularities, and

can have a wide variety or edge shapes as well (straight, rectilinear, curved, etc., to name a few).

Although many of the benefits of the invention are related to a generally "planar" orientation of

the panel and the shapes formed therein, embodiments may include panels or constructions other than "planar" arrangements. [009] The invention can be practiced using a wide variety of suitable processes and

materials. Processes could include die cast, investment casting, sheet metal stamping, single/

twin sheet thermo-form, blow-molding, rotational molding, injection molding, gas assist, water

assist, web molding, structural foam molding along with many other existing and new processes

on the horizon. Materials are not limited in anyway and could run from metals to resins of all types.

[0010] The offset surfaces and integrally formed structural supports can produce

stronger components using the same or less materials than with other constructions. The added strength can be beneficial for compression and/or stack loading, internal displacement forces

(such as in the outward direction relating to a container, for example), transverse forces imposed on the panel (inward or outward or otherwise), compressive forces, downward and/or other

forces commonly found within storage and transportation products, containers, and other load bearing structures or panels. The weight and strength of the sidewall can be adjusted in

numerous ways, including increasing or decreasing the size and quantity of geometric shapes

being used. Among other things, embodiments that include several different types of integrally formed shapes can include those where the different shapes are used side by side in order to "fill

in" or complete areas of the panel or other structure, so that the geometric shapes can continue even closer to one or more edges of the panel (such as a straight or irregular perimeter panel

configuration). Similarly, if one or more voids is intentionally formed or otherwise included in

the panel (such as a pass-through hole of some shape), the "other" geometric shapes could be used to "fill in" and possibly strengthen the panel around such void or voids. Such voids could

be in virtually any number, position, and shape, including (by way of example and not by way of limitation) one or more circular/triangular/other voids formed in the middle (and/or offset from the "middle") of the panel to provide a pass-through/window/port.

[0011] Likewise, the invention can be practiced in embodiments having less than the entire panel "pock-marked". For example, and not by way of limitation, one or more areas in

the panel between "pock-marks" may be solid and or sealed on both sides of the panel, so that

for those "non-pock-marked" areas, there is no "alternating" surface but instead there is panel material at both the "internal" and "external" surfaces of the panel.

[0012] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the concepts of "internal"

and "external" surfaces of the panel discussed herein are used for convenient reference to embodiments such as collapsible or non-collapsible containers or the like (in which there is an

"inside" or "outside"). For other embodiments (such as pallets, free-standing structural panels, etc.), there may not be an "inside" or "outside", in which case it may be more convenient to describe the "internal" and "external" surfaces as "first" and "second" surfaces, respectively.

Similarly, "free-hand" is intended to indicate that, in addition to conventional named shapes

(such as ovals, circles, triangles, rectangles or squares, hexagons, pentagons, etc.), the invention can be practiced with less "precise" shapes for offsetting the relevant surfaces (even perhaps

with shapes evoking a random "doodle" or "squiggly line"). The disclosures and claims herein are intended to be interpreted in the broadest valid meaning of those concepts and terms,

regardless of which particular term may be used.

[0013] One of the many suitable methods of manufacturing embodiments of the

invention is by high or low pressure injection molding. Such methods may include providing a

mold having the aforementioned sidewall or panel character, forcing material into the mold,

allowing the material to set, and removing the sidewall or panel from the mold. Likewise, the inside and/or outside offset surfaces can be formed in a separate process and combined with one

or more support members by bonding, sonic welding, or other well-known methods. Depending

on the application, some or all the structural support member (s) may be in plain view of the end user from the inside and/or outside of the container. The same geometric and/or free-hand

shapes or configurations with offset surfaces or wall structure can be produced with other types of molding processes such as blow-molding, rotational molding, castings etc. Again, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that many other methods of fabrication exist to practice

the invention, and all such methods as can validly be included are intended to be encompassed within this disclosure and the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIGS. l(a)-(c) show prior art containers having sidewalls with support ribs

formed therein. [0015] FIG. 2(a) similarly shows an external sidewall of a prior art container having a vertical and horizontal support rib configuration.

[0016] FIG. 2(b) shows the internal surface, opposite the rib configuration, of Figure

2(a). [0017] FIG. 3 (a) shows one side of a sidewall having generally planar internal (inner)

and external (outer) surfaces positioned offset from support members, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 3(b) shows the opposite side of the container of Figure 3 (a).

[0019] FIG. 4(a) shows a sectional view along line S-S of the prior art container

sidewall of Figure 2(a).

[0020] FIG. 4(b) shows a perspective view along line S-S of the sidewall shown in

Figure 3(a).

[0021] FIG. 4(c) is similar to FIG. 4(b), but shows an end view along line S-S of the

sidewall shown in Figure 3 (a). [0022] FIG. 4(d) shows a perspective view of the sidewall shown in Figure 3 (a) with

dashed lines showing generally the edges or border of a recessed portion of the sidewall, according to one embodiment of the present invention. That recessing is further illustrated in

FIGs. 18 and 19.

[0023] FIGs. 5(a)-(b) show external and internal views of a sidewall having a plurality of alternative geometrically shaped support members positioned between generally planar inner

and outer surfaces offset from each other (internal/external alternating skin) in accordance with

one of the many alternative embodiments of the present invention.

[0024] FIGs. 6(a)-(b) show a compression load comparison (with compression forces being exerted in the vertical direction when viewed as in FIGs. 6(a)-(b)) between (1) a prior art sidewall, Figure 6(a), having a vertical and horizontal rib configuration, and (2) a sidewall of the

present invention, Figure 6(b), having a plurality of generally hexagon shaped support members

positioned between generally planar inner and outer surfaces positioned offset from each other.

[0025] FIGs. 7(a)-(b) show opposite sides of a sidewall/pallet or similar structural

element in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, that may be used as a

pallet, container bottom, and/or lid having generally planar internal (inner) and external (outer)

surfaces positioned offset from support members to form a structural web.

[0026] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention, with two openings formed in the panel.

[0027] FIG. 9 is a section view, taken along line 9-9 of Fig. 8.

[0028] FIG. 10 is similar to Fig. 8, but shows another embodiment in which the central

areas are filled (rather than open, as in Fig. 8), and is formed in a curved configuration (with the center of a radius of curvature located near the viewer of the drawing and the radius moving from left to right).

[0029] FIG. 11 is a section perspective view from the reverse side, taken along line 11 —

11 of Fig. 10.

[0030] FIG. 12 is a section view similar to Fig. 11, taken along line 12—12 of Fig. 10.

[0031] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of three panels similar to the embodiment of FIG.

10 assembled to form a wall or similar barrier. [0032] FIG. 14 is similar to Fig. 13, but shows the assembly from the opposite side.

[0033] FIG. 15 is similar to Fig. 13, but shows yet another assembly of two panels.

[0034] FIG. 15A illustrates in a block diagram another of the many ways a plurality of panels of the invention may be assembled together, using various joints (abutting, overlapping,

and angled). [0035] FIG. 15B is similar to 15 A, and illustrates another of the many ways a plurality of panels of the invention may be assembled together.

[0036] FIG. 15C is similar to 15A, and illustrates another of the many ways a plurality of panels of the invention may be assembled together.

[0037] FIG. 15D is similar to 15 A, and illustrates another of the many ways a plurality

of panels of the invention may be assembled together.

[0038] FIG. 15E is similar to 15 A, and illustrates another of the many ways a plurality of panels of the invention may be assembled together.

[0039] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of another structural element in conformance with the invention, having a single central opening and offset surfaces at staggered depths in the wall structure.

[0040] FIG. 17 is a section view taken along line 17-17 of Fig. 16.

[0041] FIG. 18 is similar to the left hand portion of Fig. 9, but is a graphical representation of the volume generally occupied by that embodiment of the invention (the offset

surfaces and other details are omitted, to help illustrate the element's overall volume).

[0042] FIG. 19 is an end view of the representation of Fig. 18, viewed in the direction of arrows 19 on Fig. 18.

[0043] FIG. 20 is similar in concept to FIG. 18, but shows a graphical representation of the volume generally occupied by a typical prior art wall element. [0044] FIG. 21 is an end view of the prior art representation of Fig. 20, viewed in the

direction of arrows 21 on Fig. 20.

[0045] FIG. 22 is a perspective view of another of the many embodiments of the

invention, illustrating a generally round bucket or pail having a sidewall incorporating the offset surface feature of the invention. [0046] FIG. 23 is similar to Fig. 22, but shows the bucket from a lower perspective, looking slightly up at the bucket.

[0047] FIG. 24 is an elevation view of the bucket of Figs. 22-23. [0048] FIG. 25 is a perspective view similar to Fig. 22, but shows the bucket sectioned

along line 25-25 of Fig. 24.

[0049] FIG. 26 is similar to Fig. 4(c), but shows another embodiment of the invention in section, in which one or more offset surfaces are not parallel with the general plane of the panel and/or each other.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION [0050] Examples of the many embodiments of the present invention will now be

described with references to the accompanying Figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. The terminology used in the description presented is not

intended to be interpreted in any limited or restrictive manner, simply because it is being

utilized in conjunction with a detailed description of certain embodiments of the invention.

Furthermore, various embodiments of the invention (whether or not specifically described)

may include novel features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes or which is essential to practicing the invention described.

[0051] As used herein, the terms "panel", "structural element", and "sidewall" are

broad terms used in their ordinary generally broad meanings, and are sometimes used interchangeably within the disclosure and claims herein. They include, without limitation any of the many components that may be considered as part of the structural framework or body

of a container (such as a top portion, a bottom portion, any one or more of a side portion or structure formed therein, such as a drop door, etc.), pallets, other load bearing devices, wall

panels or sheets or similar barriers or building elements, or similar apparatuses. [0052] Figures l(a)-(c) and 2(a)-(b) show prior art containers 5 having sidewalls 10

with support ribs 15. As shown in Figures l(c) and 2(a), such prior art containers 5 may include

vertical 15(a), horizontal 15(b) and/or diagonal 15(c) rib configurations. These prior art containers 5 are generally constructed of plastic and typically include a generally smooth interior

surface 20 formed during the molding process, as shown in Figure 2(b). The interior surface 20

generally allows items to be carried (stacked or arranged) more uniformly within the container 5 while generally allowing those same items to be removed from the container 5 without snagging

or becoming embedded in pockets 25 formed by the various support rib configurations. Among

other things, these prior art drawings illustrate some of the many optional features of collapsible containers, such as lids, drop door openings or access openings, drop doors, and other features.

Some of these features are discussed in further detail in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,674,647, 4,917,255, 4,923,079, and 5,938,059, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by

reference.

[0053] Although generally well accepted in the industry, the aforementioned prior art

containers with their sidewalls 10 and related elements can benefit from an improved strength and reduced weight design. Among other things, such containers are commonly used for

shipping, storing, and handling items (such as automobile components or the like). All of those uses, and many others, can be accomplished more economically and with less energy and

materials if a container can be fabricated (a) with the same (or greater) strength but (b) using less container weight and material. Similar benefits (and others) can be appreciated in many

applications of the invention besides its use in containers.

[0054] A preferred embodiment of such an improved sidewall 30 design is generally

illustrated in Figures 3(a)-(b) and 9(a)-(b). Although pairs of such walls that are substantially

the same (or even identical) can be as used as opposing sidewalls in an assembled container, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that there is no requirement that such

opposing walls be similar or identical, hi other words, even if multiple panels or walls elements

are used in a single application such as a collapsible container, those panels could differ from each other [e.g., one or more sidewall could have a drop door (as may be used in a collapsible

container), or each wall may have a different support member pattern, as discussed below, multiple panels could be connected at their edges to form a wall or similar barrier for crowd

control or the like, etc.] and still beneficially use the invention. The support members and other

inventive concepts, as described herein, may be used anywhere that structural or similar panels

are used. In applications such as illustrated (within a collapsible container or similar device),

the invention can be incorporated or foπned as the top portion, bottom portion [shown in

Figures 7(a)-(b)], any one or more of a side portion or structure formed therein, such as a drop door, or other container components.

[0055] Many general concepts relating to collapsible containers are well known,

including the features and examples listed above, and many of those concepts can be improved in terms of costs, weight, strength, and other factors, by utilizing the teachings of the invention.

Moreover, as noted elsewhere, although the invention is generally discussed herein in

connection with various collapsible containers and related components, persons of ordinary skill

in the art will understand that it may be useful in a wide variety of applications, including ones other than containers.

[0056] In one embodiment, the present invention includes at least one sidewall 30

having a structural support network or web 35. As described herein, and among other things,

the structural support network 35 preferably includes generally planar inner and outer surfaces

or webs 40, 45 positioned offset from each other (in separate planes), and an interconnecting support frame 50 positioned therebetween. As further described below, when compared to similar type container sidewalls, the offset surfaces 40, 45 permit a sidewall 30 having an improved strength-to-weight ratio to be produced from a single and/or plurality of mold(s).

[0057] Panels or sidewalls or other devices incorporating the invention can be

fabricated from a wide variety of materials and by a wide variety of methods. Among others, high/low pressure plastic injection molding, structural foam-molding, or blow-molding can be

readily utilized to form lightweight components or structures embodying the invention, for

storage, transport, and handling of a wide variety of solid and liquid materials and other things. Other fabrication methods include, by way of example, compression molding, rotational

molding, gas/water assist molding, extrusion, or pultrusion. Persons of ordinary skill in the art

will understand that other manufacturing processes and materials may be readily utilized.

[0058] Materials for practicing the construction of the invention include (without

limitation) ferrous or non-ferrous metal, virtually any resin, aluminum, fiberglass reinforced

resins, and others. Among other ways, these and other applications can be fabricated or assembled from sub-components such as cast, extruded, or pultruded structural members that

are inserted into a larger plastic component/panel assembly. Other of the wide variety of

fabrication methods could involve welding or gluing elements to each other to form a web of the present invention.

[0059] Additional strength can be introduced into many embodiments of the invention by using engineered grade resins, and/or fillers such as mineral or glass fillers. Preferably,

embodiments of the invention are fabricated from suitably strong, lightweight materials

sufficient to support substantial loads and forces encountered in transporting and handling

relatively heavy materials. For less demanding applications, thinner support members and/or a different material may be sufficient. [0060] Preferably, the support frame 50 includes a plurality of geometrically shaped support members 55. In a preferred embodiment shown in Figures 3(a)-(b), the support members 55 are generally hexagonal 55(a), 55(b) . . . in shape and positioned such that two

hexagon shaped support members 55(a), 55(b) share a common side 56(a). Other geometric

shapes may include an octagon, triangle 55(c) (one of the many triangle shapes/sizes/patterns is

shown in Figures 5(a)-(b)), diamond, star, etc., or combinations thereof. Whatever offset shape is used, even if it is not a definable "conventional shape" and/or is not repeated within the panel

or web 35 but is instead relatively random, one difference between the present invention and

prior art support ribs 15 is that the present structure uses "alternating internal/external" surfaces or web portions. Such "alternating internal/external" surfaces or web portions can, among

other things, add support in multiple directions.

[0061] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that, in certain embodiments,

additional ribs/support elements 57 can be formed within the shapes/sizes/patterns. Among other things, such additional ribs can further strengthen or otherwise improve the structure. In

the embodiment of FIGS. 3(a)-(b), the vertical ribs 57 in the center of the panel 35 (shown in

Fig. 3(b)) are substantially aligned with the dividing edges 56(c) (shown in Fig. 3(a)), so that

there is effectively a substantially continuous vertical rib through at least much of the center of the panel 35.

[0062] hi some embodiments, the staggered web/shear portions provide an honeycomb-

like strength to the structure, especially for embodiments using an enclosed geometric shape

such as a hexagon 55(a), 55(b) that is capable of providing support at least along each of its six sides. Prior art horizontal, vertical, and/or diagonal support ribs 15(a)-(c) provide support

primarily in their respective directional alignment, must be combined to provide multi- directional support, and in any case do not provide the offset/alternating plane strength of the

present web structure.

[0063] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the overall and specific

dimensions, location, size, direction (alignment), thickness, and other aspects of the offset

sidewall surfaces 40, 45 and other structural support network elements can vary widely and be customized to applications and anticipated loading conditions. Furthermore, each of the

elements that make up the structural support network 35 may be provided individually or in

combination on a single sidewall.

[0064] Figures 3(a)-(b) show a container sidewall 30 having generally hexagon shaped support members 55(a), 55(b) positioned between generally planar inner and outer surfaces 40,

45 offset from each other. As used herein, the term "offset" means that the generally planar surfaces 40, 45 on each side of the container are not coplanar or aligned with each other

transversely, with respect to the thickness of the overall panel or wall web 35 (the thickness being the direction in and out of the page for Figs. 3(a) and 3(b)). The degree of offset can vary,

depending on the application, the anticipated loading conditions, the size and shape of the offset

elements, the materials used in fabricating the particular embodiment of the invention, and other

factors. One benefit of the invention is to provide greater strength with less part weight as compared to prior art apparatus and methods. However, if for certain applications the

inventions strength is more important than weight, then an embodiment can be used with the

spacing between alternating geometric structures forming a pocket of some size would increase strength, but also weight. Example would be making the hexagon size itself smaller would

increase the quantity used, which in turn increases material. Hence more weight.

[0065] Accordingly, for a sidewall embodiment of the invention such as shown in Figs. 3 (a) and 3(b), hexagon-shaped support members (a, b, c, and d) of Figure 3 (a) are attached on one side by generally planar inner (interior) surfaces (A, B, C, and D), as shown in Figure 3(b). Likewise, hexagon shaped support members (e, f, and g) of Figure 3(b) are attached on one side

by generally planar outer (exterior) surfaces (E, F, and G), as shown in Figure 3 (a). In other

words, generally planar inner surfaces (A, B, C, and D) and generally planar outer surfaces (E,

F, and G) are "offset" (non-planar, or not aligned with each other) from each other relative to

any of one of the support members (a, b, c, d, e, f, and g). However, when viewed in cross- section, support members (a, b, c, d, e, f, and g) are positioned between generally planar surfaces

(A, B, C, D, E, F, and G).

[0066] In this regard, support members may be described as being positioned

"therebetween" or "between" relative to inner and outer surfaces 40, 45 that are themselves offset from each other. This is because, as illustrated in the cross-section view as indicated by

"S" Figure 3(a) and shown in Figure 4(b), the hex shaped pockets 60 formed by the hexagonal

sides 56(a), 56(b), . . . etc., and/or other geometrically shaped pockets, if used, are generally inset from the inner and outer surfaces 40, 45.

[0067] Depending on the application, some or all the structural support member(s) 55

may be provided in plain view of the end user, viewed from the inside and/or outside of the container. For example, the support members 55 shown in Figure 3(a) can be viewed by the end

user from outside the container, the support members 55 shown in Figure 3(b) can be viewed by the end user from inside the container, and those support members 55 (not shown) forming a

portion of a structural support network 35 without inner or outer surfaces 40, 45 (similar to a

pass-through window) being attached to either side would be visible to the end user from the inside and outside of the container.

[0068] As shown in Figures 3(a)-(b), the sidewall can includes an outer periphery 70

that has a predetermined (not necessarily uniform) thickness that is different from the central web portions of the panel 35. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that these variations in thickness can be positioned at virtually any location on the panel, depending on the intended application, the materials selected for fabrication, and other factors. In the

embodiment of Figures 3(a)-(b), for example, the "thicker" perimeter area 70 permits ready

stacking of the erected container on or under prior art containers. Due to the improved vertical

compressive and flexural support provided by the offset surface configuration (as compared to prior art containers), the central area of the container sidewall 30 may include one or more areas

of "reduced wall thickness." One such area is represented by phantom line border 75 in Figure

4(c), and is further illustrated in FIGS. 18 and 19 (which shown the general outer overall shape

of this embodiment, with the reduction from prior art embodiments shown by comparing the

FIGS. 20 and 21). In this embodiment, area 80 is inset or recessed from the outer periphery 70, toward the center of the panel body. Reducing the thickness in that area 80 helps reduce the

material and corresponding weight of the structure, as compared to prior art structures.

[0069] In other embodiments, there may not be any need for a "thicker" perimeter area

70, so that the material/weight reduction can be practiced across the entire body of the panel 35.

In such embodiments, the entire structure is the reduced thickness 81 (as best shown in FIGS. 4(c) and 19). In other words, referring to Fig. 19, instead of tapering at 90 to a thicker edge 70,

such other embodiments could simply continue to their edges with a uniform reduced thickness

81. [0070] hi the embodiment of Fig. 4(d), a majority of the sidewall's structural support network 35 (outer periphery 70, offset surfaces 40, 45, and support members 55 positioned

therebetween) is contained in that central inset portion of the sidewall. Those elements of the

sidewall's structural support network 35 can be provided in any suitable manner, including

without limitation being attached, connected, disposed, and/or integrally formed with the surrounding perimeter or edge portions of the sidewall. In one embodiment, as shown in Figure 3(a)-(b) and Figure 4(b), a bevel 90, step, or similar feature may be used to insert or recess the

body 80 from a relatively "thicker" outer periphery 70.

[0071] The structural frame network 35, including container body 80, may further

include integrally formed areas 85 of even further reduced "thickness", such as ones void of

support members 55 and/or offset surfaces 40, 45. Preferably, the offset surface areas or portions surrounding or adjacent to any such "void" areas are located and proportioned so that

the overall assembly provides sufficient torsional, shear, compressive, and/or flexural strength and support for the anticipated loads on the panel 35. Examples of these reduced/'Void of

support" areas 85 are shown in Figures 3(a)-(b). Among other things, these areas 85 may

provide a convenient uniform surface for adhesive labeling for identification, instruction, or information purposes. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that these areas 85 can

also provide load bearing strength to the structure, depending on their dimensions and other factors. Other embodiments can leave these areas 85 as actual "voids" or as openings in the

structure 35, to provide access, ventilation, or the like through the sidewall.

[0072] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand the aforementioned relatively

thin sections or areas such as area 85 can even further reduce the overall material used, weight, and production cost of the sidewall 30 without sacrificing the sidewall' s structural rigidity. The structural relationship (positioning and construction) between various sidewall elements,

including the outer periphery 70, recessed container body 80, offset surfaces 40,45, support

members 55, and other areas 85 of one sidewall embodiment is shown in Figures 4(b)-(c).

[0073] As indicated above, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that, in the embodiment of FIGS. 3(a), 3(b), and 4(b), the "offsets" are provided in horizontal rows. In

other words, a horizontal row of offsets with "interior" surfaces is below a row with "exterior" offsets, which is below a row with "interior" surfaces, etc. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that, among the many alternatives in which the invention can be practiced, the

offsets can instead be random, can alternate in columns rather than rows, can alternate in "both"

columns and rows (so that no two adjacent offsets are both interior or both exterior), etc.

[0074] Figures 5(a)-(b) show external and internal views of one of the many other

embodiments of a container sidewall 30 of the invention. This embodiment illustrates a plurality of alternative geometrically shaped support members (triangle 55(c)) positioned between generally planar inner and outer surfaces 40, 45 offset from each other

(internal/external alternating skin) in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

[0075] Among other things, the combination of hexagon shaped support members 55(a), 55(b) positioned between offset inner and outer surfaces 40, 45 provides an improved

strength-to- weight ratio to the sidewall 30 or panel when compared to prior art sidewalls 10

such as those discussed above.

[0076] The structural configuration of the sidewall 30, as described herein, provides

improved compression/shear/fiexural strength, better resistance against buckling or other deformation from loads imposed by stacking other similar containers on top of each other, as

well as hoop strength or similar resistance to outward deformation such as might occur from extreme liquid or other loads within the container, hi this regard, as shown in Figure 6(a), finite

element analysis (FEA) of a 1 OK pound stack load test shows that deflection of a sidewall 10 having support ribs 15(a)-(b), is considerably greater than the deflection of a sidewall 30 having

generally planar inner and outer surfaces 40, 45 positioned offset from each other and an

interconnecting support frame 50 including a plurality of generally hexagon shaped support

members 55(a), 55(b) position therebetween, as shown in Figure 6(b). [0077] In addition, the use of a relatively large offset shape (such as the hexagons of Figs. 3) decreases the quantity of pockets 60 in a given area of the sidewall or structural

element. This can be especially beneficial where water, dirt, and other materials may become trapped in such pockets, and in any case can reduce the mass (described above) and increase the

strength of the structure when compared to traditional rib configurations.

[0078] In many embodiments, the offset surfaces 40, 45 from hex pocket 60 to hex pocket 60 can improve compressive strength and/or load distribution by transferring the forces

from the internal surface 40 to the external surface 45 throughout the length and width of the

product design. Accordingly, the offset surface design is an advantage over the typical single-

sided wall structure 5 having a horizontal/vertical rib configuration 15(a)-(b).

[0079] Although one embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and discussed

herein as a generally flat sidewall 30 or panel for a container, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the invention has broad utility. Among other things, concepts as described

herein can be used for curved walls or panels, and for separately constructed "support inserts" that can be installed, captured, fastened, welded, or adhesively applied to one or more other

components. The strength provided by the offset surfaces 40, 45 and/or support members 55 of

the invention can be used in pallets (see, for example, FIGS. 7(a) and 7(b)), bases, decks, and similar devices. Container lids/covers and bottoms can also use and benefit from the teachings of the invention, such as to add support for applications in which the lid may face elevated

temperatures and/or loads from pooling of rain or other liquids.

[0080] For pallets (such as shown in FIGS. 7(a) and 7(b)), lids, and similar structures

that are sometimes used and "loaded" in a generally horizontal position, the invention can

provide improved strength across the width and/or "span" of the structure. Among other things, this is useful in situations in which the stacking of the units atop other things may leave one or more of the leg/support elements 58 hanging in mid-air, without actual contacting support

thereunder. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the invention can be used in embodiments such as the pallet of FIGS. 7(a) and 7(b), in a configuration that is

nestable/stackable with other like sized and shaped structures.

[0081] In general terms, the preferred embodiment of the invention provides additional

strength to large open areas or panel spans of various components of containers or similar objects. The offset surfaces 40, 45 and/or support members 55 can be provided in concentrated

areas subject to high stress within the container/panel (and can be sized and dimensioned to

further adjust the strength of such areas), and/or in segregated and/or spaced/targeted locations

that may require additional strength to handle the various forces to which containers are

commonly exposed (for example, stacking, compression, hoop, expansion, or other forces).

[0082] The particular application and the anticipated loads or other factors may affect

the precise shape or construction not only of the sidewall generally, but also of the offset sidewalls 40, 45 and/or support members 55. For example, the sides 56(a), 56(b) . . . etc., of the

support member 55 may require increased or decreased angles. As shown in Figure 4(b), the

geometric pockets 60 may include sides 56(a)-56(b) generally perpendicular to the general plane of the sidewall 30.

[0083] A contrasting example of a sidewall support member side configuration (not

shown) has a generally sloped side (instead of the perpendicular sides 56(a)-56(b). Such a sloped side can be useful, among other things, for applications in which a sidewall or panel is

lowered, and granular contents (sand or similar material) of the container are poured out over

that sidewall. In such situations, the sloped surface allows the granular material to pour out

more completely than would be the case if were more perpendicular (in which case it would form a "shelf that might catch some portion of the material being poured out). [0084] Additional support can be provided within the support members themselves by

reinforcing elements such as one or more ribs 105, shown in Figures 6(b).

[0085] Among other things, the combination of offset surfaces 40, 45 and support

members 55 can facilitate lighter weight and larger components (such as one or more doors, not shown) than may be achieved without using the invention, thereby improving safety, ease of

use, and improved ergonomics and user efficiencies for a wide variety of applications. For example, a relatively wide drop door can provide workers at automobile plants easier access to a greater area of the interior of collapsible containers in which various automobile components

are commonly transported.

[0086] FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate yet another of the many embodiments of the invention, in which two voids 83 (for pass-through/ventilation/access or other purposes) are formed or

otherwise provided in the panel. As indicated above, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that any such voids are optional, and that they can be positioned, sized, shaped, and provided in any number depending on the intended application of the panel.

[0087] FIGS. 10-12 illustrate a still further embodiment of the invention, in which a

panel or structure is formed into a curvilinear plane. FIGS. 13-14 illustrates an assembly of a

plurality of structures such as those in FIGS. 10-12, as they might be positioned to provide a barrier, support, etc. FIGS. 15 and 15A-E illustrate even more of the many assemblies that can

be formed using the invention. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the

panels in these drawings can be joined to each other in any suitable manner (or not at all),

including without limitation one or more of the following: mortise/tenon structures formed with or on the panels themselves, bolts/screws, combination joints, glue/welding, pegs/holes, etc.

[0088] FIGS. 16-17 illustrate yet another embodiment of the invention, including a

central opening 84 and staggered or "multilevel" offset surfaces 86, 87, 88, 89, 91, and 92. [0089] FIGS. 22-25 illustrate another of the many embodiments of the invention. In

those figures, a generally round bucket or pail 100 has a sidewall 102 incorporating the offset surface feature of the invention. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the offset feature could also be used in the base 101 (although it is not shown in the base 101 in

these figures), in combination with other ribs and/or reinforcing features, and in other

configurations and locations. Likewise, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the container shape in these drawings is shown as generally cylindrical, but in others of the

many alternative embodiments of the invention could be any of a wide range of useful shapes,

including square, rectangular, etc., and could be used in totes or other items. Certain

embodiments may be more effective to fabricate using blow-molding, rotational molding, injection molding, or similar techniques.

[0090] FIG. 26 shows a section similar to Fig. 4(c), but for yet another of the many

embodiments of the invention. Although one or more of the offset surfaces of the invention can

be generally parallel to the overall plane of the panel 110 (such as generally parallel surfaces

111 and 112), one or more of those surfaces (such as surfaces 113 and 114) may be non-co- planar or otherwise not parallel with that general panel plane and/or with other of the offset surfaces. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the precise orientation of the

offset surfaces is yet another of the many factors that can be varied while practicing the

invention, depending on the particular application.

[0091] A method of manufacturing a container sidewall 30 preferably includes the steps

of: (1) providing a mold (not shown) configured to form a container sidewall 30 as described herein, (2) forcing material into the mold, (3) allowing the material to set, and (4) removing the

sidewall from the mold. [0092] Further in that regard, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that any number of suitable molds can be readily configured for injection molding the panel of the

invention, by forming cavities and plugs in appropriate locations within a mold block or blocks, providing suitable cooling circulation if necessary, etc. Such molds are intended to be included

within the scope of the present disclosure and claims, to the extent such broad interpretation is valid over the prior art.

[0093] The apparatus and methods have been described with some particularity, but the specific designs, constructions and steps disclosed are not to be taken as delimiting of the invention. Obvious modifications will make themselves apparent to those of ordinary skill in

the art, all of which will not depart from the essence of the invention and all such changes and

modifications are intended to be encompassed within the appended claims.

Claims

What is claimed is:
1. A container sidewall comprising:
a structural support network including:
inner and outer surfaces positioned offset from each other; and
an interconnecting support frame positioned therebetween.
2. The sidewall of Claim 1 , wherein the inner and outer surfaces are planar relative to
each other.
3. The sidewall of Claim 1 or Claim 2, wherein the sidewall further includes a recessed
body having at least a portion of the structural support network contained thereon.
4. The sidewall of Claim 1 or Claim 2, wherein the support frame includes at least one
geometrically shaped support member.
5. The sidewall of Claim 4, wherein the support frame includes a plurality of
geometrically shaped support members.
6. The sidewall of Claim 5, wherein at least one of the plurality of geometrically shaped
support members is generally hexagon.
7. The sidewall of Claim 6, wherein the plurality of geometric shaped support members
are generally hexagon.
8. The sidewall of Claim 7, wherein a pair of generally hexagon shaped support
members is positioned so as to share a common side.
9. The sidewall of Claim 8, wherein the sidewall is formed of plastic.
10. A method of manufacturing a container sidewall, comprising the steps of:
providing a mold configured to form the container sidewall of Claim 1 or Claim 2;
forcing material into the mold;
allowing the material to set; and removing the sidewall from the mold.
11. A container sidewall comprising:
a structural support network including:
generally planar inner and outer surfaces positioned offset from each other; and
an interconnecting support frame including a plurality of geometrically shaped support
members positioned between the generally planar inner and outer surfaces;
wherein at least one of the plurality of geometrically shaped support members is
generally hexagon.
12. The sidewall of Claim 11, wherein the sidewall further includes a recessed body
having a majority of the structural support network contained thereon.
13. The sidewall of Claim 12, wherein the plurality of geometric shaped support members
are generally hexagon.
14. A structural panel, comprising a first surface and a second surface generally on the
opposite side of the panel from the first surface, said first second surfaces in a non-planar
relationship with each other.
15. The panel of Claim 14, in which said first and second surfaces are generally parallel
with each other.
16. The panel of Claim 14, in which said panel is included in a pallet.
17. The panel of Claim 14, in which said panel is included in a collapsible container.
18. The panel of Claim 14, in which said panel is included in a sidewall of a collapsible
container.
19. The panel of Claim 14, in which said panel is included in a base portion of a
collapsible container.
20. A mold configured for injection molding the panel of Claim 14 or Claim 15 or Claim 16 or Claim 17 or Claim 18.
21. A method of fabricating the panel of Claim 14 or Claim 15 or Claim 16 or Claim 17 or Claim 18, including the steps of:
providing a mold configured to form the panel of Claim 14 or Claim 15 or Claim 16 or Claim 17 or Claim 18; injecting material into the mold; allowing the material to set; and
removing the panel from the mold.
22. A structural web assembly, comprising a plurality of elements each having a transverse thickness and together forming a wall-like structure having a generally planar overall configuration, said elements including first and second wall elements that are generally parallel to said generally planar overall configuration but are non-planar with respect to each other.
23. The assembly of Claim 22, in which said first and second wall elements comprise alternating internal/external surfaces of the wall-like structure.
24. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which said first and second wall elements
are formed as geometric shapes in the wall-like structure.
25. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which a plurality of said first and second wall elements are located over substantially all of the wall-like structure.
26. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which a plurality of said first and second wall elements are located only in selected areas of the wall-like structure.
27. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure is a
component of a collapsible container.
28. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure is a pallet.
29. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure is a panel of a fence.
30. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure is
substantially flat.
31. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure is formed in a curvilinear plane.
32. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure has a generally rectangular exterior shape.
33. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which the wall-like structure has an irregular exterior shape.
34. The assembly of Claim 22 or Claim 23, in which at least one void is formed in the wall-like structure.
35. A container comprising a bottom; a sidewall surrounding the bottom and extending upwardly therefrom, said sidewall being generally planar and having within a cross section of that general plane inner and outer
surfaces positioned offset from each other and an interconnecting support frame positioned
therebetween.
PCT/US2005/045050 2005-12-14 2005-12-14 Container sidewall and related methods WO2007070029A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
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Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/US2005/045050 WO2007070029A1 (en) 2005-12-14 2005-12-14 Container sidewall and related methods

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2007070029A1 true WO2007070029A1 (en) 2007-06-21

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Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2016138909A1 (en) * 2015-03-04 2016-09-09 Plastpack Defence Aps Lightweight ammunition box
US10024640B2 (en) 2013-08-30 2018-07-17 Plastpack Defence Aps Container for explosive material

Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5425910A (en) * 1992-12-31 1995-06-20 A. R. Arena Products, Inc. Resin wall formation for collapsible shipping container
US6776300B2 (en) * 2000-04-07 2004-08-17 Xytec Systems, Inc. Collapsible container with closed, multi-paneled sidewalls
US6955273B2 (en) * 1999-12-28 2005-10-18 Arca Systems Ab Collapsible bulk container

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5425910A (en) * 1992-12-31 1995-06-20 A. R. Arena Products, Inc. Resin wall formation for collapsible shipping container
US6955273B2 (en) * 1999-12-28 2005-10-18 Arca Systems Ab Collapsible bulk container
US6776300B2 (en) * 2000-04-07 2004-08-17 Xytec Systems, Inc. Collapsible container with closed, multi-paneled sidewalls

Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US10024640B2 (en) 2013-08-30 2018-07-17 Plastpack Defence Aps Container for explosive material
WO2016138909A1 (en) * 2015-03-04 2016-09-09 Plastpack Defence Aps Lightweight ammunition box
US10190859B2 (en) 2015-03-04 2019-01-29 Plastpack Defence Aps Lightweight ammunition box

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