CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/911231 entitled “MODULAR STORAGE BIN,” filed Apr. 11, 2007, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This disclosure relates to storage containers in general and, more specifically, to stackable storage containers.
The same consumer product will often be available in a number of sizes or quantities. Typically, the greater the amount of a product purchased, the lower the price per unit will be. Usually there is little difference in the quality of the packaging whether goods are purchased in smaller or larger quantities. Therefore the product packaging for large quantities will be no better equipped to keep the product fresh than the product packaging even for a single-use size. Although consumers would typically prefer to obtain the most volume per cost that is possible for a product or good, considerations of storage and freshness often come into play. This can result in a consumer buying a smaller amount of goods, and consequently paying more per unit for the goods than is desirable.
In addition to consumers shying away from bulk purchases due to concerns with keeping the purchases product fresh until it has been consumed, there is also an issue of storage. Large amounts of product are typically accompanied by larger storage requirements. Nonuniformity of packaging across products exacerbates the problem. Additionally, when products are stacked together (e.g., in a garage or panty) accessing a quantity of a product that is in a lower container generally requires first removing the items or containers on top first. Therefore a large amount of time may be wasted simply keeping the boxes or other containers organized.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
What is need is an apparatus and system for addressing the above, and related, issues.
The present invention disclosed and claimed herein, in one aspect thereof, comprises a storage container. The container includes a tub, a primary lid hinged to the tub, and a secondary lid hinged to the primary lid. There is a first seal on the primary lid for sealing against the tub when the primary lid is in a closed position and a second seal on the primary lid for sealing against the secondary lid when the secondary lid is in a closed position. A plurality of at least partially recessed landings are provided on the primary lid for receiving a plurality of feet of a second storage container and for restricting lateral movement thereof when the second storage container is stacked on the primary lid.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention disclosed and claimed herein, in another aspect thereof comprises a stackable container system. The system includes a plurality of containers. Each container comprises a tub having a plurality of feet and defining a recess proximate a lower portion thereof, and a primary lid hinged to the tub. The primary lid provides a plurality of landings thereon and has a secondary lid hinged thereto allowing selective access to the tub when the primary lid is in a closed position. When the plurality of containers are in a stacked configuration, the feet of one container cooperatively interface with the landings of a container immediately below in order to restrain lateral movement of the containers relative to one another, and the secondary lid is provided clearance to be selectively opened by the tub recess of a container immediately above, if present. The primarily lid defines a recess such that when the plurality of containers are nested, the lid recess of one container provides at least partial clearance for the open primary lid of a container immediately above.
FIG. 1A is a perspective view of one embodiment of a modular storage container according the aspects of the present disclosure.
FIG. 1B is a partial cutaway view of the modular storage container of FIG. 1 taken along the line 1B of FIG. 1.
FIG. 2 is a close-up perspective view of a portion of the storage container of FIG. 1
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the storage container of FIG. 1 illustrating a large open lid.
FIG. 4 is a side view of two storage containers of the present disclosure arranged in a stacked configuration.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 5 is a side view of two storage containers of the present disclosure arranged in a nested configuration.
The various drawings of the present disclosure illustrate an exemplary embodiment of a sealable, modular storage container. Such containers may be suitable for storing pet food, but are not so limited. Other items, perishable or otherwise, may be stored in the containers shown and described herein. Items stored in such containers may be sealed against spoilage while remaining substantially and easily accessible.
Referring now to FIG. 1A, a perspective view of one embodiment of a modular storage container according the aspects of the present disclosure is shown. The container 100 comprises a tub 102 and a primary lid 104. In one embodiment, the primary lid 104 substantially covers the tub 102. The tub 102 and primary lid 104 close via a hinge 106. Tabs 108 may be provide on the tub 102 and interface with tabs 110 on the primary lid 104 to latch and securely fasten or close the primary lid 104 onto the tub 102. An interference fit is contemplated by the tabs 108, 110 of the present embodiment but other closure means are possible. For example, latches, slides, cam locks or other implements are contemplated and may be used to securely close the lid 104 on the tub 102.
In the present embodiment, the tub 102 and primary lid 104 are formed from molded plastic. Other embodiments may provide other materials and methods of construction however. The hinge 106 may be integrally formed by the primary lid 104 and tub 102 or could be a separate component that is attached to the primary lid 104 and tub 102.
The tub 102 may also be molded or shaped to provide integral handles 112. In the present embodiment, the tub 102 is also molded to provide a recess 114 in the body of the tub. One functionality of the recess 114 is to allow for the opening of a smaller, secondary lid 120 embedded within the primary lid 104 when multiple storage containers are stacked atop one another, as is explained in greater detail below. The terms “primary” and “secondary” when used in reference to the lids are only for reference and are not meant to imply that either of the lids are more important or have greater function or utility than the other.
The primary lid 104 serves multiple functions in the present embodiment. As described, the lid 104 covers the tub 102, along with any contest of the tub 102. The lid 104 opens on hinge 106 and may be further secured to the tub 102 by latching tabs 110 over the tabs 108 of the tub 102. The upper surface of the lid 104 may feature one or more lands 116, which may be at least partially recessed into the lid 104 or may be otherwise at least partially bordered (e.g., by a border molded into the lid 104). In one embodiment, the lands 116 will be substantially flat, and sized and located to support the feet of another container. In this configuration a plurality of storage containers 100 may be stacked atop one another with the upper containers restrained against lateral movement by the interaction between the feet 402 and the lands 116.
The primary lid 104 may also have a slot or groove 118 molded therein. This may allow more compact nesting of containers 100 when not being utilized to store goods or materials. This concept may be more readily appreciable with reference to FIG. 5, which is described in greater detail below.
Referring now to FIG. 1B a partial cutaway view of the modular storage container of FIG. 1 taken along the line 1B of FIG. 1 is shown. It can be seen from this view that the primary lid 104 provides a seal 302 at the interface between the primary lid 104 and the tub 102. The seal may be foam rubber, plastic, silicon, or another suitable material. The seal may provide a substantially water and/or airtight barrier to the container 100. Thus, goods that are susceptible to spoilage or may be otherwise damaged if exposed too long to ambient air or moisture may be stored in the storage container 100. The seal also prevents insects and other pests from gaining entry into the closed container 100. In the present embodiment, the seal is retained by the primary lid 104 when it is raised but other configurations are possible.
Referring now also to FIG. 2, a close up perspective view of a portion of the storage container of FIG. 1 is shown. Here it can be seen that a smaller, secondary lid 120 may be provided within the primary lid 104. In some embodiments, the secondary lid 120 will be substantially translucent in order to allow easy observation of any contents within the container 100. The secondary lid 120 can be constructed using similar or different methods and materials as the primary lid 104 and the tub 102. In one embodiment, the secondary lid 120 is hinged to the primary lid 104 and selectively closes an opening or access port in the primary lid 104. A tab 122 may be provided on the secondary lid 120 which interacts with a tab 124 on the primary lid 104 to enable the secondary lid 120 to close securely against the primary lid 104. Here again, a seal 202 is provided to prevent entry or exchange or air or moisture and to keep the contents of the containers from becoming infested by insects or other pests.
Referring now to FIG. 3, another perspective view of the storage container 100 is shown. Here the container 100 is shown with the primary lid 102 open. From this viewpoint it can be seen that in this embodiment the hinge 106 is offset to allow the primary lid 104 to swing clear of the tub 102 completely. It can also be seen that in the present embodiment the seal 302 is retained by the primary lid 104 when opened and that the seal 302 covers the entire perimeter of the primary lid 104 where it meets with the tub 102.
Referring now to FIG. 4, a side view of containers of the present disclosure arranged in a stacked configuration is shown. The stack 400 is shown with two containers 100 but it may be possible to stack more containers depending upon the strength of materials used in the construction and upon the weight of the contents of the containers 100. The recess 114 is shown in dotted line here, as is the secondary lid 120. It can be seen here that that the recess is sized and located to allow clearance of an open secondary lid 120 of the container 100 below. It can also be seen that the tub 102 may be provided with feet 402. In some embodiments, the feet 402 will also be provided with a non slip surface on the bottom. The feet 402 of the top container 100 rest in the lands 116 of the primary lid 104 of the lower container 100. As described, the lands 116 may be partially or wholly recessed or bordered. Thus the feet 402, and consequently the upper container 100, will be restrained from lateral movement relative to the lower container 100.
From the foregoing it will be appreciated that the containers 100 may be stacked while the contents of each of the containers 100 are accessible at least via the secondary lid 120. The recess 114 is provided in the tub 102 to allow for the secondary lid 120 to open fully even when containers 100 are stacked. Further, in embodiments where the secondary lid is translucent, the recess 114 allows for easier visual inspection of the interior of any lower container 100. The topmost container 100 may be accessible by the secondary lid 120 or by the primary lid 104 as shown. The hinge 106 allows for full access into the upper container 100 while keeping the primary lid 104 securely attached to the container 100. It can also be seen that the offset of the hinge 106 allows the primary lid 104 to remain attached to the container 100 without significantly altering the footprint or space requirements of the stack 400.
Referring now to FIG. 5, a side view of two storage containers of the present disclosure arranged in a nested configuration is shown. Here it can be seen that in addition to stacking, a plurality of containers 100 can also be arranged in a nested stack 500 for compact storage. Again, two containers are shown in FIG. 5 but it is possible to nest more containers 100. The primary lid 104 of each container 100 may be provided with a groove 118 to accommodate an adjacent primary lid 104 when nested. The present embodiment utilizes the groove 118 molded into the primary lid 104 to provide additional clearance for the edge of an adjacent primary lid 104 in the nested stack 500. Other embodiments may utilize other molded-in or integral reliefs, recesses, depressions, or cooperating structures to allow for compact nesting while the primary lids 104 remain hinged to the tubs 102. It can also be seen that the hinges 106 are configured to provide a pivot point for the primary lids 104 that is somewhat displaced from the tub 102 to provide further clearance.
In the embodiment of FIG. 5, it can be seen that not all of the primary lids 104 will hang completely vertical from the hinge 106. However, depending upon the needs of the user and the degree to which the volume of the primary lid 104 is not needed for storage for the container 100, the grooves 118 could be molded deeper to allow a substantially vertical hang of the primary lids 104 from the hinges 106. This and/or the offset of the hinges 106 may provide adequate clearance for the lids 104 when the containers 100 are in a nested stack configuration 500 such that the lids 104 do not have to be removed from the tubs 102 for separate storage. It can also be seen in FIG. 5 that when nested the handles 112 of the containers 100 remain accessible. Thus, the containers 100 may be easily separated from on another when nested.