|1.||An integrally formed onepiece bottle carrier in which a plurality of bottles can be carried in a tight cluster comprising a plurality of bottle neck engaging means for receiving and supporting therein the necks of bottles, means ■ for supporting said bottle neck engaging means in a spaced array and at distances which support the bottles in a tight cluster, a bottle retain¬ ing loop bar spaced apart from and beneath the bottle neck engaging means for engaging the outer portions of the bottles to maintain them in a tight cluster and a plurality of spaced apart depending supports connecting said support means and the loop bar and exposing the bottles to view through the spaces defined between the depending supports.|
|2.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 1 including a wedgeshaped divider formed integrally with and depending from said support means to engage adjacent bottles in the cluster.|
|3.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 1 in which the bottle retaining loop bar is capable of encom¬ passing the support means of an underneath carrier to permit nesting of a pair of bottle carriers. OMPI .|
|4.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 2 in which the perimeter of the bottle retaining loop bar is larger than the perimeter of the support means and in which the wedgeshaped dividers of a pair of bottle carriers inter¬ mesh to permit nesting of said pair of bottle carriers, and including an opening in said support means above the depending divider to accommodate the depending divider of an upper bottle carrier when the carriers are nested.|
|5.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 1 in which the bottle neck engaging means are bottle closures integrally formed with the support means to interlock with the necks of the bottles.|
|6.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 5 including skirts depending from and separably connected with the closures to grip the necks of the bottles and separate from the closures when the bottles are removed from the closures.|
|7.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 4 including a stop formed within the lower wedgeshaped divider to limit the nesting relationship of a pair of nesting bottle carriers.|
|8.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim 2 in which the wedgeshaped divider includes a pair of di¬ agonal bottle engaging members depending from said support means. O PI ,, WIPO .« .|
|9.||A bottle carrier as set forth in claim S in¬ cluding flexible means connecting the lower ends of the diagonal bottle engaging members. OMPI IPO.|
This invention relates to an integrally formed formed bottle carrier for supporting a plurality of bottles and maintaining them in a relatively close cluster.
Background Prior Art
Bottle carriers capable of supporting a plurality of bottles by their necks have been heretofore pro¬ posed. For example, bottle carriers of this type are disclosed in U. S. patent No ' s. 3,633,962, issued January 11, 1972, and 4,093,295, issued June 6, 1978. Although bottle carriers of this type have provided effective and economical carriers which display the bottles assembled therein, the bottles are free to move relative to and strike one another with possible damage to the bottles.
There is currently available a carrier which consists essentially of a formed shroud which covers and conceals the upper ends of the bottles and has openings therein for receiving and supporting the necks of a cluster of bottles. This carrier is disclosed in U. S. patent No. 4,139,094, issued February 13, 1979. The shroud is con- toured to the shape of the clustered bottles and thus maintains the bottles in a close cluster. However, it covers and conceals at least the upper portions of the
bottles.. The shroud is bent, distorted and ultimately destroyed as the bottles are removed therefrom so that it cannot be reused.
Disclosure of Invention The integrally formed bottle carrier of the present invention provides a plurality of bottle neck supports for receiving and supporting therein the necks of the bottles to be carried, means for supporting the bottle neck supports in spaced apart relationship to each other so that the bottles are closely clustered, a bottle re¬ taining bar below the frame and forming a closed loop around the cluster of bottles and a plurality of depen¬ ding supports from the frame for supporting the bottle retaining loop bar.
The bottle carrier of the present invention provides an economical and effective bottle carrier which does not conceal the upper or any other portion of the bottles carried therein. It is attractive, inconspicuous, rugged and reusable.
Ancillary and optional advantages and features of the bottle carrier of the present invention are that: the bottle retaining loop bar serves not only to effectively and closely contain the cluster of bottles but to as¬ sist in the removal of a bottle from the carrier; the carriers are nestable for storage or packaging in a relatively small space; the carriers are provided with depending bottle dividers to engage adjacent bottles and thereby cooperate with the retaining loop bar to maintain
a close cluster of bottles; and the carrier includes tamperproof closures integrally formed as part of the bottle carrier.
Brief Description of Drawings Figure 1 is a plan view of a bottle carrier em¬ bodying the present invention;
Figure 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of Figure 1 looking in the direction of the arrows and showing another- bottle carrier in phantom lines in nested relation therewith;
Figures .3A and 3B are enlarged portions of the areas indicated in Figure 2;
Figure 4 is a plan view of another bottle carrier embodying the present invention;
Figure 5 is a sectional view taken along the line 5-5 of Figure 4 looking in the direction of the arrows;
Figure 6 is a plan view of still another embodiment of a bottle carrier embodying the present invention;
Figure 7 is an elevational view of the bottle car- rier shown in Figure 6 with parts broken away and shown in cross-section; and
Figure 8 is a cross-sectional elevation of a portion of the bottle carrier shown in Figure 7.
OMPI /., WIPO -
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3est Modes for Carrying Out the Invention
A bottle carrier embodying the present invention, shown in Figures 1 and 2, includes a plurality of spaced collars 10 for receiving and supporting therein the necks of bottles A to be packaged, a frame 11 for supporting the collars in spaced relation, a bottle retaining bar 12 beneath the frame and formed in a closed loop encircling the bottles to be packaged and supports 13 depending from the frame for supporting the bottle retaining loop bar.
- The collars 10 and the frame 11" are generally simi¬ lar to the six-bottle carrier disclosed in ϋ. S. patent No. 3,633,962. The frame 11 is subdivided into a plur¬ ality of individual frames 11a each containing one of the collars 10. The collars are preferably spaced so that the distance between the centers of adjacent col¬ lars is substantially the width or diameter of the bottle to be carried, as shown in Figure 1.
The collars 10 are tapered conical sections larger at the bottom than at the top to facilitate the inser¬ tion of the bottle necks therein from the bottom. Each collar is split to provide an enlarged opening 14, and the split ends are connected to the inner leg of the individual frame by a pair of connections 15 and 16 which extend diagonally away from each other from the split ends toward the frame leg to which they are ' con¬ nected. The angular relationship of the connections 15 and 16 permits the split collar to be forced open to facilitate insertion and removal of a bottle while at the same time providinσ support for the split collar
to prevent it from sagging under the weight of a bottle and offering resistance to accidental spreading of the split collar when it is supporting a bottle therein.
The collar 10 is also supported within its indi¬ vidual frame by lateral supports 17 and by a yoke 18 directly opposite the opening 14. The yoke 18 serves as a pivot for the two components of the collar to facilitate their spreading for the insertion and removal of a bottle.
The frame 11 includes a longitudinally extending bar 19 which, in the six-bottle carrier shown in Figures 1 and 2, extends substantially the length of the longer dimension of the frame. The bar 19 includes a pair of finger openings 20 therein to facilitate handling. If desired, a handle can be provided or the bar 19 can serve as a handle.
The bottle retaining loop bar 12 engages portions of the outer bottles. in the cluster to hold them to- gether. Toward this end, it is preferably a continuous bar or rail spaced below the supporting collars 10 and frame 11 at about the shoulder height of the bottles. At this level the retaining loop bar 12 does not inter¬ fere with the pivotal motion of the lower end of the bottle which is necessary to remove the neck from the split collar; in fact, the bar actually facilitates the removal of the bottle by providing a back-up bar to help force the neck out of the collar opening.
The frame 11 carries a plurality of bottle engaging wedge-shaped dividers 21 to maintain the bottles in
side-by-side or closely spaced relationship, as de¬ sired. The upper ends of the dividers are integrally formed with and depend downwardly from pairs of ad¬ jacent legs of collar supporting frames 11a. They each include a pair of spaced apart members 21a, in this embodiment V-shaped, joined at the lower ends by a connection 21b. The lower ends of the dividers 21 are wedged between the shoulders of adjacent bottles, and they cooperate with the outer loop bar 12 to hold the bottles in a tight cluster.
The bottle carriers are nestable so that they can be stacked in a small space for packaging and for storage in the chute of a machine from which they are automatically dispensed. Toward this end, in the nested condition of the bottle carriers , as shown in Figures 2, 3A and 3B, the loop bar of the upper bottle carrier is capable of encompassing the frame of the underneath bottle carrier when the two are nested. The bottle dividers 21 of a pair of nesting carriers also intermesh. In nesting relationship the upper frames 11 and the retaining loop bars 12 of the two nesting carriers settle in closely spaced relationship.
In order to permit the intermeshing of the depend¬ ing bottle dividers 21 for -the nesting of a pair of bottle carriers, the frame 11 of the lower carrier must contain openings at the upper ends of each of the bottle dividers to permit the depending dividers of the upper carrier to intermesh . with the depending dividers of the lower carrier. The longitudinally arranged bottle dividers present no difficulty in this regard because they are arranged intermediate open
portions of the frame between the individual frames 11a, but transverse slots 19a must be provided in the longitudinally extending bar 19 for this purpose.
To prevent the bottle dividers 21 of nesting carriers from becoming too tightly interlocked, the nesting action is limited by stops 22 formed at the lower ends of the dividers 21.
A two-bottle carrier embodying the present inven¬ tion is shown in Figures 4 and 5 and includes a pair of collars 10 supported in oppositely oriented rela¬ tionship in a frame 11. The spacing between the col¬ lars 10 is the same as in the embodiment shown in Figures 1 and 2. The f ame 11 has a longitudinally extending bar 19- having a collar supporting frame 11a at both ends. A bottle retaining loop bar 12 is sup¬ ported beneath the frame 11 by a plurality of depend¬ ing supports 13 to maintain the bottles in close cluster relationship.
The frame 11, and more particularly ' the longitu- dinally extending bar 19, has integrally formed there¬ with a depending wedge-shaped bottle divider 23, in this case U-shaped, to maintain the bottles in side- by-side or slightly spaced relationship. The divider 23 includes a pair of downwardly depending legs 23a, 23b joined at their lower ends.by a connection 23c. The lower ends of the legs 23a and 23b engage adjacent bottles about shoulder height and the connection 23c has enough rigidity to maintain the bottles in a tight cluster, but also enough flexibility to readily adjust
to the space provided between the shoulders of ad¬ jacent bottles.
The carrier shown in Figures 4 and 5 can be gripped and carried by the bar 19. A longitudinally extending slot 19a in the bar 19 accommodates the bottle divider 23 of an upper carrier when the car¬ riers are nested.
The bottle carrier shown in Figures 6 through 8 is generally similar to the bottle carrier described in connection with Figures 4 and 5, except that bottle closures 24 formed integrally with the frame 11 at opposite ends of the longitudinally extending bar 19 are substituted for the split collars 10. The necks of the bottles can either be snap-locked or screwed into the closures 24,
Each closure 24, as best shown in Figure 8, n~- cludes a cap portion 24a having internal threads or ribs 24b which interlock with external threads or ribs si formed on the outer periphery of the neck of the bottle. The closure 24 also has an inner depending stopper 24c integrally formed therewith to engage the opening in the neck of the bottle to form an effective seal.
When the bottles are filled, the closures 24 are either force-fitted on the bottles or the bottles are screwed into the closures. To insure tamperproof closures, they are each provided with a shrink ring skirt 24d which locks the closure to the neck of the
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bottle when shrunk by heat and/or pressure. The skirt is connected to the upper portion of the closure by a perforated or weakened line 24e which causes the skirt to be separated from the upper portion of the closure when the bottle is forced out of or unscrewed from the closure.
If the skirts of the closures are intact, the customer can be assured of the integrity of the package. If any skirt has been broken or separated from the closure, the customer will be alerted to the fact that the integrity of the package is suspect.
The bottle carrier of the invention is preferably made in one piece of a resilient plastic material, such as injection molded polypropylene. It provides an effective, economical and convenient package for carrying a cluster of bottles in relatively close and controlled fashion. Since rhe bottles can be inserted and withdrawn without destroying the carrier, the carrier can be used for handling full, partially full and empty bottles and used not only for carrying home a cluster of newly purchased bottles but also for returning the empty bottles.
The invention has been shown in preferred forms and by way of example only, and many modifications and variations may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention. The invention, therefore, is not to be limited to any specified form or embodiment, except in so far as such limitations are expresslv set forth in the claims.
OMPI /., WIPO *
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