US 3667593 A
Flowable dunnage apparatus characterized by discrete inflated capsules formed of elastic impervious webs in facing relationship and sealed along their edges with a quantity of air under pressure captured therein, the discrete capsules being of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of an outer container, and the dimensions of smaller articles or containers disposed within the outer container. The discrete capsules are adapted to flow into a partly filled container and to partly fill the interstices thereof, and to fill the outer container to a surcharged condition before the closing thereof. The closing of the outer container, either by placing flaps into position, or by placing a separable closure thereover, exerts pressure on the compliant capsules, causing them to fill the interstices of the outer container substantially completely, and to prevent migration or shifting of smaller containers or articles within the outer container.
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United States Patent Pendleton 1 June 6,1972
 Inventor: John M. Pendleton, 5080 Maplewood,
Greendale, Wis. 53129  Filed: Mar. 30, 1970  Appl.No.: 23,650
Related US. Application Data  Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 777,940, Oct. 1, 1968, abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 617,977, Feb. 23, 1967, abandoned.
FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,112,365 11/1955 France ..206/46 FR Primary Examiner-William T. Dixson, Jr. Attorney-Richard C. Lindberg [5 7] ABSTRACT Flowable dunnage apparatus characterized by discrete inflated capsules formed of elastic impervious webs in facing relationship and sealed along their edges with a quantity of air under pressure captured therein, the discrete capsules being of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of an outer container, and the dimensions of smaller articles or containers disposed within the outer container. The discrete capsules are adapted to flow into a partly filled container and to partly fill the interstices thereof, and to fill the outer container to a surcharged condition before the closing thereof. The closing of the outer container, either by placing flaps into position, or by placing a separable closure thereover, exerts pressure on the compliant capsules, causing them to fill the interstices of the outer container substantially completely, and to prevent migration or shifting of smaller containers or articles within the outer container.
The invention herein also comprehends a method of packaging with flowable and compliant dunnage material.
5 Claims, 22 Drawing Figures  US. Cl. ..206/46 FR, 53/36, 217/53, 206/DIG. 30, 229/14 C  Int. Cl. ..B65d 77/26, B65d 81/02, B65d 85/30  Field of Search ..206/46 FR, 46 FC, DIG. 30, 206/56 AA; 229/14 C; 217/53; 156/292; 161/72; 53/36, 37
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,011,930 12/1961 Dworak ..206/DIG. 30 3,285,795 ll/l966 Stein ..206/46 FC PATENTEDJUH s \972 SHEET 10F 5 INVENTOR JOHN MPENDLETON ATTORNEY PATENTED 5 I572 SHEET 2 BF 5 INVENTOR JOHN M. PENDLETON ATTORNEY PATENTEDJUH 6 m2 3,667, 593
SHEET u 0F 5 ENTOR 78 JOHN ENDLETON BY 78 F1619 @Q. M
ATTORNEY PATENTEBJUH 5 1972 3.667, 593
sum 5 OF 5 INVENTOR JOHN M. PEN LETON ATTO R N EY FLOWABLE DUNNAGE APPARATUS AND METHOD OF PACKAGING WITH FLOWABLE AND COIWPLIABLE INFLATED DUNNAGE MATERIAL This application is a continuation in part of PENDLETON application Ser. No. 777,940, filed Oct. 1, 1968, now abandoned, which in turn was a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 617,977, filed Feb. 23, 1967, now abandoned, for Dunnage Article.
The invention herein relates to improvements in special receptacles and packages classified in class 206 and subclass 46 thereof.
The invention herein finds special application where a number of small packages or articles are assembled at a central shipping department and placed into a larger container for shipment to a single consignee. Mail order houses have carried on this practice for many years, and it is the practice to fill the voids or interstices of the outer shipping container with excelsior or shredded newspaper. More recent developments in dunnage for this purpose have included small paper cylinders as disclosed in Stanley U.S. Pat. No. 3,074,543, and Graham U.S. Pat. No. 3,047,136, stranded olefin polymer foam as disclosed in Humbert et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,251,728, elastomer covered fiber glass as shown in Edelman U.S. Pat. No. 2,579,036, and formed thermoplastic as shown in Holden U.S. Pat. No. 3,188,264.
The use of excelsior or shredded newspaper always presents the problem of storage as well as fire hazard, as do some of the other dunnage materials of the patent art. On the other hand, the dunnage material according to the present invention can be prepared as needed by simple machines, and the storage requirements can thereby be maintained at a minimum.
This application is related to Pendleton application Ser. No. 487,848, filed Sept. 16, 1965 for MACHINE FOR MAKING CUSHIONING PACKAGING MATERIAL OR THE LIKE now U.S. Pat. No. 3,389,534, issued June 25, 1968. Said patent discloses apparatus for making a dunnage article as claimed herein.
Inflated dunnage devices are known in the art, these usually taking the forms as shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. to Cushman 2,978,119; Cushman 2,990,070; Seger 3,131,648; Langenberg 3,145,853; and Feldkamp 3,199,689. The dunnage devices shown in these devices are reuseable, are of large size for cushioning heavy freight loaded into cars, and are inflated to size after being positioned in the car.
The prior art also shows thermoplastic sheet material formed with air bubbles in a vacuum forming process. This material is used as a sheet wrapping material and is not flowable. This material does not lend itself to the formation of discrete capsules and is always used in sheet form.
The flowable dunnage according to the present invention is adapted for use in cushioning a frangible object or smaller cartons shipped in an outer carton or other container. In some cases the flowable dunnage can completely isolate the object or small containers from the sides and top and bottom of such carton or container. In the more common applications where smaller cartons are placed within a larger shipping container, the pressure exerted against the contents keeps them from migrating or shifting in the rough handling encountered in transit. The flowable dunnage herein is in the form of discrete capsules formed from films having good bursting strength and having a quantity of air entrapped therein under pressure. The capsules are formed preferably in a heat sealing process. Polyethylene or polyvinylchloride, poly coated cellophane film materials are examples of films having the property of being heat sealable, the property of good bursting strength, as well as the property of being impervious, so that the capsules may be inflated and remain so until used.
With the foregoing considerations in mind, it is a principal object of this invention to provide flowable dunnage apparatus consisting of discrete inflated capsules formed by the sealing of elongated webs along one or both edges thereof, and transversely sealing the webs during the sealing process to provide a series of joined capsules containing occluded air under pressure, and capable of being severed along a transverse seal to provide the discrete dunnage article.
Another object is to provide a method of packaging with discrete elastic inflated, impervious and compliant dunnage articles, the method comprehending flowing the dunnage articles into a partly filled container to surcharge the container and then closing the surcharged container in such a fashion as to place pressure on the capsules whereby their compliance will cause the capsules to flow" about the articles in the container and substantially eliminate all voids within the container.
Yet another object comprehends dunnage apparatus characterized by extremely light weight dunnage capsules or minuscule dimension as compared to the outer container and the articles within the container, such capsules being formed of elastic, impervious and compliant films in facing relationship, sealed along their edges and containing a quantity of air under pressure.
IN THE DRAWINGS:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a discrete dunnage capsule adapted to be used with the dunnage apparatus according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the dunnage capsule of FIG. 1 connected as a strip thereof;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing an alternate form of the dunnage capsule;
FIG. 4 shows the manner in which the discrete dunnage capsules may be distributed about a frangible object to isolate the same from the walls of a container;
FIG. 5 shows the manner in which a strip of the discrete dunnage capsules may be wound about an object to isolate the same from the walls of a container; FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing a pair of moving webs being sealed along their edges, and showing the introduction of air between the webs for the purpose of inflating the tube formed by sealing of the webs along their edges prior to transversely sealing the tube to form the series of inflated capsules, which later are adapted to be severed into discrete dunnage capsules;
FIG. 7 is a similar view to that shown in FIG. 6 in which a single web of material is folded longitudinally and sealed at one longitudinal edge in the formation of the dunnage capsule;
FIG. 8 is an isometric view showing an outer flapped container partly filled with smaller containers and ready to receive the dunnage capsules;
FIG. 9 shows the container of FIG. 8 filled to a surcharged condition with capsules;
FIG. 10 is a vertical section through the container of FIG. 8, showing the smaller containers placed therein, and the dunnage capsules flowing into the outer container and around the smaller containers therein;
FIG. 11 shows the container of FIG. 10 filled to a surcharged condition with the dunnage capsules;
FIG. 12 shows the outer container of FIGS. 9 to 11 with the flaps thereof closed to exert pressure against the dunnage capsules with the containers within the outer container held against movement by such pressure;
FIG. 13 is an isometric view of structure for forming a dunnage capsule having a difi'erent configuration from that seen in the previous figures;
FIG. 14 is a vertical section taken through the capsule forming rollers of FIG. 13;
FIG. 15 is a plan view of a series of connected capsules formed in the apparatus of FIGS. 13 and 14, before the severing of same into discrete capsules;
FIG. 16 is a view similar to FIG. 13 showing apparatus for forming a dunnage capsule of still another configuration;
FIG. 17 is a plan view of a series of connected capsules formed in the apparatus of FIG. 16;
FIG. 18 is a schematic isometric view of apparatus for forming a capsule substantially in the form of a tetrahedron;
FIG. 19 is an isometric view showing a connected series of capsules before severing of same;
FIG. 20 is a perspective of a discrete capsule formed in the apparatus of FIG. 18;
FIG. 21 shows another form of sealing and severing apparatus for forming the discrete dunnage capsules; and
FIG. 22 is a cross section through a form of web material having thermoplastic or other sealable film, and a second film of paper or the like.
In FIG. I there is shown a completed dunnage capsule l1 constructed of a single sheet of material folded upon itself, so that the sheets are in facing relationship, as seen in FIG. 7, and sealed along a longitudinal edge 12 by electrically heated sealing wheels 13. A blast of air as shown by the arrows is directed between the two plies of material in facing relationship to puff out the plies as seen at 14 prior to sealing the two plies transversely at regularly spaced intervals as denoted at 15 in FIG. 2. Such sealing is achieved by electrically heated anvil members 16 and 17 while the folded material travels in the direction shown by the arrows as it is dispensed from a supply roll, not shown.
Alternately, the dunnage article 1 1 may be formed from two plies of material 10 and 10' as seen in FIG. 6. In such cases the two plies are sealed along their longitudinal edges 18 and 19 by heated sealing anvil rollers 20. A blast of air enters between the webs l and as shown by the arrows in FIG. 6 to form an inflated tube 21 prior to the operation of the heated anvils l6 and 17 in providing transverse seals 22.
Irrespective of whether the two moving webs are joined along one or both of the longitudinal edges 12, or 18 and 19, and sealed at intervals transversely as at or 22 there is supplied a strip of dunnage capsules made up of a strip of the same, or a discrete dunnage capsule as seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, when the strip is severed transversely.
The strip of dunnage capsules 1 1 may be wrapped about an article 23 as seen in FIG. 5 prior to placing the so wrapped article in a container 24. Preferably, they are in the form of discrete capsules as seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, and in such cases they may be distributed as seen in FIG. 4 about an irregularly shaped frangible object 26 to isolate such article from the walls and top and bottom of a container 27.
The important aspects of the invention, however, reside in placing a degree of pressure against one or more articles placed within an outer shipping container. Such is a common practice in catalogue mail order houses, and as disclosed herein the dunnage provided is extremely light in weight, compliant, resilient and elastic. Moreover, the films from which the dunnage is formed are inexpensive, and can be made as needed at the working site from film material sealed as described.
Referring to FIG. 8, there is shown an outer walled container 31 having closure flaps 32. Container 31 is loaded with smaller containers 33, 34 and 36 which may be spaced in the manner shown or placed side by side in contact with each other. A number of such small containers are disposed within container 31 and they can be filled into position on the container bottom with greater or less interstitial volume therebetween depending on the size of such small containers. As seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, container 31 is filled with the dunnage capsules 11 which flow into container 31 from an overhead hopper, not shown, or from some other storage source.
The size of the dunnage capsules 1 1 is an important feature of the invention. As a general rule, the smaller they are, the more readily they accommodate themselves to the contours and surface irregularities of the containers 33, 34 and 36 or other articles placed within the container 31. For example, the dunnage capsules 11 may be made from webs of polyethylene or polypropylene. If the dunnage capsules are made from 4 inch wide webs in facing relationship the resulting inflated capsule will be approximately 3% inch wide, 4% inch long and 1% inch thick. The use of 3 inch wide webs gives a resulting capsule of a size approximately 2X2 l inch. Webs 2% inch wide give a resulting capsule of a size approximately 2 2 l inch.
As a general proposition, the smaller the inflated capsule the more desirable it is for dunnage use. The smaller capsules more readily fill the interstices between the containers or objects in the outer container.
When the outer container 31 is surcharged as seen in FIG. 9 and 11 and flaps 32 folded down, the inflated capsules 1] are pressed together as seen in FIG. 12 with substantially no volume within container 31 not filled with either the small containers or capsules 11. The capsules are compliant and adopt positions and configurations substantially eliminating the interstices in container 31. Good pressure is thereby maintained between capsules 11 and against the inner containers or articles.
At times the closing of the flaps 32 causes the pressure against a capsule l1 situated at a sharp comer of the inner containers or articles may be such as to perforate the capsule thereat as indicated by reference numeral 11F. Upon its collapse at such position perforated capsule 1 IP has a protective contour conforming web to prevent puncture and collapse of adjacent capsules.
The container 31 need not be of the flap type and may have a separate lid or closure. Prior to placing the closure on the container the latter is surcharged as previously described, and the placing of the closure in position atop the container 31 places pressure against the capsules for the purposes as described.
Irrespective of whether a flap type container is employed, or one with a separable closure, the pressure on the dunnage capsules and the containers or articles within the outer container prevents shifting. By reason of the innate elasticity of the dunnage capsules, shock incident to shipping is kept to a minimum.
Referring to FIGS. 13 to 15 there is shown another form of apparatus for making a dunnage capsule of still another configuration. Said apparatus is denoted generally by the reference numeral 40 and comprises a pair of mating forming rollers 41 and 42 turning at identical speeds upon respective drive shafts 43 and 44. Each of the rollers has a number of essentially hemispherical pockets 46 therein. The pockets 46 of each roller moving in conjugate relationship with like pockets of the other.
A folded web 47 of thermoplastic material is fed between rollers 41 and 42, and a current of air is introduced between the web folds as the same moves between the rollers 41 and 42. The latter are heated and thereby seal the web folds together except for an inflated capsule 48 formed at each of the conjugate pockets 46. v
The strip of connected capsules 48 may be severed into discrete capsules by mating cutting rollers 49 and 51 turning synchronously on respective shafts 52 and 53. Each roller has pockets 54 therein to receive the inflated capsule 48 formed by rollers 41 and 42. Roller 49 has transversely extending knives 56 in the surface thereof between the pockets 54 thereof, these knives 56 each cooperating with roller 51, which acts as an anvil roller, to sever the strip into discrete capsules.
In FIGS. 16 and 17 there is shown another form of apparatus denoted by the reference numeral 60. In this form of the apparatus the heated forming rollers 41 and 42 have essentially prismatic shaped conjugate pockets 62 therein. The web 47 fed between rollers 41 and 42 results in inflated capsules 63, each generally in the form of a prism of triangular cross section, and connected as a strip as seen in FIG. 17.
As with the embodiment seen in FIGS. 13 to 15, the strip seen in FIG. 17 may be severed between knife and anvil rollers 49 and 51 having conjugate pockets 62 in the periphery of each. Knife roller 49 in this case has pitched knives 64 between the pockets 62 and mating with corresponding anvil surfaces 66 on anvil roller 51 to sever the strip into discrete capsules 63.
In FIGS. 18 to 20 there is shown another embodiment of a capsule forming structure indicated by the reference numeral 70. In this embodiment a tube 71 of thermoplastic material moves in the direction shown, a jet of air impinging into the tube to inflate the same. The moving tube is sealed transverse- Iy thereof between heating sealing anvils 72 extending in a vertical plane and movable horizontally toward and away from each other in such plane to effect a vertical heat seal 73. When the vertical seal is completed, and the tube is still inflated, a pair of heated sealing anvils 74 extending in a vertical plane and movable vertically toward and away from each other effect a horizontal heat seal 76 spaced from the vertical heat seal 73.
It will be understood that the anvil members move alternately in their heat sealing function to provide a strip 77 of connected capsules 78, each being essentially in the form of a tetrahedron. It will be understood that the tube 71 may be formed of a pair of plies as seen in FIG. 7 and air introduced between such plies as the tube 71 is formed, and that the tube 71 moves in a continuous fashion.
Severing means, not shown, may be employed to sever the strip 77 into discrete capsules as seen in FIG. along the horizontal and vertical heat seals seen.
In FIG. 21 there is shown another embodiment of apparatus indicated by the reference numeral 80. It comprises cusped sealing rollers 81 and 82 having cooperating heated sealing surfaces 83 at the peripheries thereof. Surfaces 83 effect transverse seals 84 in a moving tube 86 which is inflated as described and which moves between the sealing rollers 81 and 82.
Rollers of this configuration are especially indicated where polyethylene films are sealed, and it is important that the capsules 87 formed thereby do not thereafter contact the heated rollers, each of which has the cavities 88 permitting clearance of the inflated capsules 87.
Similar knife and anvil rollers 89 and 91 sever the dunnage strip fonned by rollers 81 and 82 into discrete dunnage articles 87 as shown.
In FIG. 22 there is shown a double web 95 capable of being inflated and sealed along its edges. The double web may consist of an outer paper, glassine or cloth layer and an inner layer 97 capable of self adhesion as heat sealing or subject to a gluing operation.
1. Flowable dunnage apparatus composed of a plurality of lightweight flowable dunnage articles filling the interstices between articles packed within an outer container, including a closure therefor having a closure member movable to closing position, said dunnage apparatus comprising a plurality of discrete inflated capsules, each of said capsules being of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of said outer container, each of said capsules comprising impervious and pliable films in facing relationship and sealed peripherally and encapsulating a gaseous medium under pressure therebetween to provide a substantially freely compliant capsule substantially filling completely the interstices of said outer container, said capsules being flowed into said outer container and creating a surcharged filling of said outer container prior to closing thereof, said capsules being positioned and forming configurations substantially eliminating any interstices within the said outer container and placing pressure against said capsules and the articles within said outer container upon movement of said closure member to closing position to prevent shifting of said articles and said capsules.
2. A package for articles comprising an outer container having a closure therefor, packing material for said outer container consisting of discrete impervious and pliable inflated capsules of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of said articles and said outer container, said capsules being flowed into said outer container to create a surcharged condition thereof and being thereafter placed under pressure by movement of said closure member to closing position with respect to said outer container, to cause said capsules to adopt positions and configurations substantially eliminating any interstices within the said outer container, the pressure against said capsules, said articles and said outer container preventing shifting of said articles.
3. A method of packing an outer container having a closure therefor including a closure member movable to closing position with articles placed within said outer container with flowable and compliant inflated dunnage capsules of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of said outer container and the articles placed within said outer container which comprises the steps of placing articles to be shipped in said outer container, filling said outer container to surcharged condition with said dunnage capsules so as to fill in part the interstices in said outer container, moving said closure member to closing position to thereby place pressure against said inflated capsules to cause the same to adopt positions and configurations substantially eliminating any interstices within the said outer container and to thereby place pressure against said capsules and the articles within said container to prevent shifting of said articles and said capsules.
4. The combination of a container having a closure with flowable and compliant dunnage capsules for imposing pressure against an article enclosed with a container, said capsules being of minuscule dimension as compared to the dimensions of said container and said article, said capsules being part of a large group thereof and being adapted to be flowed into said container and to have pressure placed thereon while a part of said group by movement of said closure to closing position to eliminate substantially any interstices between said capsules to prevent movement of said article within said container.
5. The combination according to claim 4 wherein each of said dunnage capsules is formed from a pair of impervious webs in confronting relationship and sealed along the periphery thereof.
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