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Title:
FOLDABLE SHEET, STRUCTURE, AND PALLET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/109165
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A foldable sheet includes a sheet body having an undulated shape. The sheet body has a plurality of joints extending in a direction of undulation. The joints are spaced apart from one another and divide the sheet body into undulated sheet segments. Each sheet segment has distal edges that are spaced apart. The distal edge along the valley portions of one of the sheet segments is spaced apart from the distal edge along the valley portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint. The distal edge along the summit portions of one of the sheet segments is joined to the distal edge along the summit portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a hinge portion of the joint. Each sheet segment is pivotable about at least one of the joints to form a structure.

Inventors:
BÉLANGER, Alain (260 rue Notre Dame, Kedgwick, New Brunswick E8B 1H9, E8B 1H9, CA)
Application Number:
CA2018/051076
Publication Date:
June 13, 2019
Filing Date:
September 06, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CORRUVEN CANADA INC. (260 rue Notre Dame, Kedgwick, New Brunswick E8B 1H9, E8B 1H9, CA)
International Classes:
B31B50/00; B31B50/26; B65D19/34
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP S.E.N.C.R.L., S.R.L. (Suite 2500, 1 Place Ville-MarieMontréal, Québec H3B 1R1, H3B 1R1, CA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A foldable sheet, comprising: a sheet body having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the sheet body having a plurality of joints extending in a direction of undulation of the sheet body, the joints being spaced apart from one another and dividing the sheet body into sheet segments having the undulated shape, each sheet segment having distal edges, the distal edge along the valley portions of one of the sheet segments being spaced apart in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation from the distal edge along the valley portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint along the valley portions, the distal edge along the summit portions of one of the sheet segments being joined to the distal edge along the summit portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a hinge portion of the joint along the summit portions, each sheet segment being foldable about the hinge portions of the joints to form a structure.

2. The foldable sheet as defined in claim 1 , wherein each cut-out portion of each joint is positioned between two hinge portions of the same joint.

3. The foldable sheet as defined in claim 1 or 2, wherein the valley and summit portions of each sheet segment have flat sections, the cut-out portions of the joints defined by spaced-apart flat sections of the valley portions of adjacent sheet segments, the hinge portions of the joints defined by joined flat sections of the summit portions of adjacent sheet segments.

4. The foldable sheet as defined in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the distal edge along the intermediate portions of one of the sheet segments is spaced apart in the direction transverse to the direction of undulation from the distal edge along the intermediate portions of an adjacent sheet segment to further define the cut-out portion of the joint.

5. The foldable sheet as defined in any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the distal edge along the intermediate portions of each sheet segment is oriented at an angle with respect to the direction of undulation.

6. The foldable sheet as defined in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the structure formed by folding each sheet segment about the joints has a hollow interior and outer undulated walls.

7. The foldable sheet as defined in any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the structure formed by folding each sheet segment about the joints is a polyhedron.

8. The foldable sheet as defined in any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the structure formed by folding each sheet segment about the joints is at least one of a tetrahedron and a hexahedron.

9. A pallet, comprising: at least one sheet having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions; and at least one support structure supporting the at least sheet, the at least support structure having undulated segments each with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the summit and valley portions of the at least support structure being nestable in corresponding valley and summit portions of the at least sheet.

10. The pallet as defined in claim 9, wherein adjacent undulated segments of the at least support structure are connected along a joint, each undulated segment being folded about a corresponding joint to form an undulated wall of the at least support structure.

11. The pallet as defined in claim 10, wherein each undulated segment of the at least support structure has distal edges, the distal edge along the valley portions of one of the undulated segments being spaced apart from the distal edge along the valley portions of an adjacent undulated segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint along the valley portions, the distal edge along the summit portions of one of the undulated segments being joined to the distal edge along the summit portions of an adjacent undulated segment to define a hinge portion of the joint along the summit portions.

12. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 11 , wherein the at least one support structure includes a plurality of support structures, each support structure spaced apart from an adjacent support structure in a direction transverse to a direction of undulation of the at least one sheet.

13. The pallet as defined in claim 12, wherein two of the plurality of support structures are positioned underneath opposed extremities of the at least one sheet.

14. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 13, wherein the at least one sheet includes a bottom sheet and a top sheet, the top sheet being supported by the at least one support structure positioned between the bottom and the top sheets, the summit and valley portions of the at least support structure being nestable in corresponding valley and summit portions of the bottom and top sheets.

15. The pallet as defined in claim 14, wherein the bottom sheet has undulated edge strips each extending in a direction of undulation of the bottom sheet and positioned along opposed extremities of the bottom sheet, the undulated edge strips have an undulation pattern matching an undulation pattern of the bottom sheet and being nested therein.

16. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 15, wherein the at least one structure has a hollow interior and outer undulated walls.

17. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 16, wherein the support structure is a polyhedron.

18. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 17, wherein the support structure is one of a tetrahedron and a hexahedron.

19. The pallet as defined in any one of claims 9 to 18, wherein the support structure is a box.

20. A method of forming a structure, comprising: providing a foldable sheet having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, and joints spaced apart along a length of the foldable sheet to divide the foldable sheet into undulated sheet segments; and folding the undulated sheet segments about each joint to form the structure, each folded undulated sheet segment forming an undulated wall of the structure.

21. The method as defined in claim 20, further comprising supporting an undulated sheet on top of the structure.

22. The method as defined in claim 21 , wherein supporting the undulated sheet includes nesting one of the summit and valley portions of the undulated wall within a corresponding one of the summit and valley portions of the undulated sheet.

23. The method as defined in any one of claims 20 to 22, wherein folding the undulated sheet segments includes folding the undulated sheet segments to form the structure having a polyhedral shape.

24. The method as defined in any one of claims 20 to 23, wherein folding the undulated sheet segments includes folding the undulated sheet segments to form the structure such that the undulated walls define a hollow interior.

25. A foldable sheet, comprising: a sheet body having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the sheet body having a plurality of joints extending in a direction of undulation of the sheet body, the joints being spaced apart from one another and dividing the sheet body into undulated sheet segments, each sheet segment having distal edges, the distal edge along one of the summit, valley, and intermediate portions of one of the sheet segments being spaced apart in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation from the distal edge along the corresponding summit, valley, or intermediate portion of an adjacent sheet segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint, the distal edge along the another one of the summit, valley, and intermediate portions of one of the sheet segments being joined to the distal edge along the corresponding summit, valley, or intermediate portion of an adjacent sheet segment to define a hinge portion of the joint, each sheet segment being pivotable about the hinge portions of at least one of the joints to form a structure.

Description:
FOLDABLE SHEET, STRUCTURE, AND PALLET

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to US provisional patent application 62/596,320 filed December 8, 2017, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The application relates generally to sheets of material and, more particularly, to a foldable sheet to form structures.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Conventional sheets of material can be folded, cut, or otherwise manipulated to form different shapes and configurations. When it assumes the desired shape or configuration, the sheet can be fixed in position or combined with another element to create the final object. Forming objects in this way can be time consuming, cumbersome, require many tools, require adhesives or mechanical fasteners, or require the intervention of a machine. Furthermore, the final object may not provide the desired structural properties, and thus require reinforcement.

SUMMARY

[0004] According to one aspect, there is provided a foldable sheet, comprising: a sheet body having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the sheet body having a plurality of joints extending in a direction of undulation of the sheet body, the joints being spaced apart from one another and dividing the sheet body into sheet segments having the undulated shape, each sheet segment having distal edges, the distal edge along the valley portions of one of the sheet segments being spaced apart in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation from the distal edge along the valley portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint along the valley portions, the distal edge along the summit portions of one of the sheet segments being joined to the distal edge along the summit portions of an adjacent sheet segment to define a hinge portion of the joint along the summit portions, each sheet segment being foldable about the hinge portions of the joints to form a structure.

[0005] According to another aspect, there is provided a pallet, comprising: at least one sheet having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions; and at least one support structure supporting the at least sheet, the at least support structure having undulated segments each with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the summit and valley portions of the at least support structure being nestable in corresponding valley and summit portions of the at least sheet.

[0006] According to another aspect, there is provided a method of forming a structure, comprising: providing a foldable sheet having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, and joints spaced apart along a length of the foldable sheet to divide the foldable sheet into undulated sheet segments; and folding the undulated sheet segments about each joint to form the structure, each folded undulated sheet segment forming an undulated wall of the structure.

[0007] According to another aspect, there is provided a foldable sheet, comprising: a sheet body having an undulated shape with summit portions, valley portions, and intermediate portions each extending between corresponding summit and valley portions, the sheet body having a plurality of joints extending in a direction of undulation of the sheet body, the joints being spaced apart from one another and dividing the sheet body into undulated sheet segments, each sheet segment having distal edges, the distal edge along one of the summit, valley, and intermediate portions of one of the sheet segments being spaced apart in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation from the distal edge along the corresponding summit, valley, or intermediate portion of an adjacent sheet segment to define a cut-out portion of the joint, the distal edge along the another one of the summit, valley, and intermediate portions of one of the sheet segments being joined to the distal edge along the corresponding summit, valley, or intermediate portion of an adjacent sheet segment to define a hinge portion of the joint, each sheet segment being pivotable about the hinge portions of at least one of the joints to form a structure

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] Reference is now made to the accompanying figures in which:

[0009] Fig. 1A is a perspective view of a pallet according to an embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0010] Fig. 1 B is an exploded view of the pallet of Fig. 1A, showing a sheet and support structures thereof;

[0011] Fig. 2A is a perspective view of a sheet used to form one of the support structures of the pallet of Fig. 1A;

[0012] Fig. 2B is a perspective view of the support structure formed from the sheet of Fig. 2A;

[0013] Fig. 2C is another perspective view of the support structure formed from the sheet of Fig. 2A;

[0014] Fig. 3A is an end elevational view of one of the support structures and the sheet of the pallet of Fig. 1A;

[0015] Fig. 3B is a front elevational view of one of the support structures and the sheet of the pallet of Fig. 1A;

[0016] Fig. 4A is a perspective view of a support structure being engaged with part of a sheet, according to another embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0017] Fig. 4B is another perspective view of the support structure and sheet shown in Fig. 4A;

[0018] Fig. 5 is a perspective view of a pallet according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure; [0019] Fig. 6 is a perspective view of a pallet according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0020] Fig. 7 A is a perspective view of a foldable sheet used to form a structure, according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0021] Fig. 7B is another perspective view of the sheet of Fig. 7A, shown with one of the sheet segments being folded;

[0022] Fig. 7C is another perspective view of the sheet of Fig. 7A, shown with another one of the sheet segments being folded;

[0023] Fig. 7D is another perspective view of the sheet of Fig. 7A, shown with an insert provided between two folded sheet segments;

[0024] Fig. 7E is another perspective view of the sheet of Fig. 7A, shown with another insert provided against a folded sheet segment;

[0025] Fig. 7F is another perspective view of the sheet of Fig. 7A, shown with all the sheet segments being folded; and

[0026] Fig. 8 is an exploded perspective view of a pallet according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0027] Figs. 1A and 1 B illustrate a shipping pallet 10. The shipping pallet 10

(sometimes referred to herein simply as“pallet 10”) is used to support, transport, and/or store objects positioned thereon. In the depicted embodiment, the pallet 10 has a undulated sheet 12 which operates as a support surface onto which the objects of the pallet 10 can be placed. The undulated sheet 12 of the pallet 10 has an undulated shape. The pallet 10 also has one or more support structures 14 which support the undulated sheet 12, such that the undulated sheet 12 rests on the support structure 14.

For example, the support structures 14 can be placed against a floor surface to support the undulated sheet 12, as well as the object supported by the undulated sheet 12, above the floor surface. Parts of the support structure 14 also have an undulated shape which cooperate with undulated portions of the sheet 12. As will be seen below, other embodiments of the pallet 10 are within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0028] The undulated sheet 12 undulates over its length and/or width. The term “undulated” refers to the sinuous form of the undulated sheet 12. Although shown in Figs. 1A and 1 B as having a succession of relatively flat valley portions alternating with relatively flat summit portions, other undulated shapes can be used, such as substantially sinusoidal, corrugated, wave-like, triangular wave, square wave, or any other suitable undulated shape. Irrespective of the form of the undulated sheet 12, it will have summit portions 16A, valley portions 16B, and intermediate portions 16C that each extend between and connect adjacent summit and valley portions 16A.16B (see Figs. 3A and 3B). The summit and valley portions 16A.16B alternate in that each summit portion 16A follows a valley portion 16B and vice versa. The terms“summit” and“valley” are used herein for convenience, and other terms can be used. It will be appreciated that what constitutes a“summit” and a“valley” can vary depending on the orientation of the undulated sheet 12, and on the position of an observer of the undulated sheet 12, amongst other factors. For example, if the undulated sheet 12 of Figs. 1A and 1 B is flipped over onto its other side, the summit and valley portions 16A.16B would be inversed. Any other suitable term for referring to the opposed maxima and minima of the undulated sheet 12 can therefore also be used, and it will therefore be appreciated that the summit and valley portions 16A.16B are not limited to the configuration shown in Figs. 1A and 1 B.

[0029] The undulations of the undulated sheet 12 extend in a direction of undulation D. The direction of undulation D may be referred to as the direction of the“wave” formed by the alternating summit and valley portions 16A.16B. In the depicted embodiment, the direction of undulation D of the undulated sheet 12 is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the support structures 14. The undulations are also uniform throughout the undulated sheet 12, such that the summit and valley portions 16A.16B are separated by the same distance and have the same height. In an alternate embodiment, the undulations of the undulated sheet 12 can vary along the length and/or width of the undulated sheet 12. In an alternate embodiment, the direction of undulation D is transverse to the longitudinal axis of the support structures 14. [0030] The support structures 14 are themselves formed from a sheet 20 of material, as shown in Fig. 1 B, but which is more clearly shown in Figs. 2A to 2C. The support structure 14 is formed from a foldable sheet 20. The foldable sheet 20 in the depicted embodiment is distinct from the undulated sheet 12 of the pallet 10 that is used to support the object loaded onto the pallet 10. In the depicted embodiment of the pallet 10, the undulated sheet 12 is not foldable. As will be explained in greater detail below, portions of the foldable sheet 20 are folded or bent to form the support structures 14 and walls 14A of the support structures 14.

[0031] The foldable sheet 20 has a sheet body 22 with an undulated shape, where the term“undulated” has the same meaning as explained above when referring to the undulated sheet 12. More particularly, the sheet body 22 has summit portions 26A, valley portions 26B, and intermediate portions 26C that each extend between and connect adjacent summit and valley portions 26A,26B. The terms“summit” and“valley” are used herein for convenience, and can be reversed, as explained above. It will therefore be appreciated that the summit and valley portions 26A.26B of the sheet body 22 are not limited to the configuration shown in Fig. 2A.

[0032] The undulations of the sheet body 22 are oriented along the direction of undulation D of the foldable sheet 20. In the depicted embodiment, the direction of undulation D is parallel to the longitudinal or length axis of the sheet body 22. In the depicted embodiment, the direction of undulation D is parallel to the longitudinal or length axis of the support structure 14 to be formed from the foldable sheet 20. Adjacent summit portions 26A are spaced apart from one another along the direction of undulation D (as are adjacent valley portions 26B, and adjacent intermediate portions 26C). The undulations are also uniform throughout the sheet body 22, such that the summit and valley portions 26A.26B are separated by the same distance and have the same height. In alternate embodiments, the undulations are oriented transverse to the longitudinal or length axis of the sheet body 22.

[0033] The sheet body 22 has multiple joints 24. Each joint 24 operates as a hinge about which portions of the sheet body 22 are folded to form the support structure 14. The joints 24 extend along a length of the sheet body 22. In the depicted embodiment, each joint 24 extends in a direction parallel to the direction of undulation D. The joints 24 are spaced apart from one another. In Fig. 2A, the joints 24 are spaced apart from one another in a direction that is transverse to the direction of undulation D. The spaced-apart joints 24 divide the sheet body 22 into sheet segments 28. The sheet segments 28 in the depicted embodiment extend in a direction parallel to the direction of undulation D.

[0034] In the depicted embodiment, a length of each sheet segment 28, which is measured in the direction of undulation D, is greater than a width of each sheet segment 28, which is measured transverse to the direction of undulation D. Each sheet segment 28 is therefore longer than it is wide in the depicted embodiment. In Fig. 2A, the length and width of each sheet segment 28 is the same. In an alternate embodiment, the length and width of at least one sheet segment 28 is different from the length and width of another sheet segment 28.

[0035] The sheet segments 28 are also undulated. More particularly, the summit, valley, and intermediate portions 26A,26B,26C of the sheet body 22 are also found on each of its sheet segments 28. In the depicted embodiment, each of the sheet segments 28 has the same pattern of undulation. In an alternate embodiment, the undulation of the one or more sheet segments 28 differs from the undulation of another sheet segment 28. The undulated sheet segments 28 are folded about the joints 24 to form the walls 14A of the support structure 14. The walls 14A will therefore also have summit and valley portions 26A,26B, as discussed in greater detail below.

[0036] The joints 24 between adjacent sheet segments 28 are formed along the distal edges 29 of each sheet segment 28. The distal edges 29 are the edges of each sheet segment 28 that are situated away from a center area of each sheet segment 28. The distal edges 29 of adjacent sheet segments 28 are proximal to each other, and as will be explained in greater detail below, can engage one another. In Fig. 2A, each sheet segment 28 has two distal edges 29, which are spaced apart from one another across the body of the sheet segment 28 in a direction that is transverse to the direction of undulation D. [0037] Each joint 24 includes cut-out portions 24A and hinge portions 24B that alternate along a length of the joint 24. For each sheet segment 28, the distal edge 29 along the valley portions 26B of the sheet segment 28 is spaced apart from the distal edge 29 along the valley portions 26B of the neighbouring or adjacent sheet segment 28. The distal edges 29 along the valley portions 26B are spaced apart in a direction that is transverse to the direction of undulation D of the sheet body 22. The spaced- apart distal edges 29 along the valley portions 26B of adjacent sheet segments 28 define the cut-out portions 24A of the joint 24 along the valley portions 26B. Each cut out portion 24A of the joint 24 between the sheet segments 28 includes an opening 25 which helps to fold the neighbouring sheet segments 28 relative to one another. The cut-out portions 24A of the joint 24 between adjacent sheet segments 28 are therefore defined by spaced-apart distal edges 29 of the sheet segments 28 along their valley portions 26B.

[0038] Still referring to Fig. 2A, the distal edges 29 along the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28 are not spaced apart. Instead, the distal edges 29 along the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28 are joined to one another to form the hinge portions 24B of the joint 24. The hinge portions 24B of the joint 24 between the sheet segments 28 help to fold the neighbouring sheet segments 28 toward and away from one another. The hinge portions 24A of the joint 24 between adjacent sheet segments 28 are therefore defined by joined or connected distal edges 29 of the sheet segments 28 along their summit portions 26A.

[0039] By“joined”, it is understood that the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28 are physically linked to one another along the distal edges 29 of the sheet segments 28 to facilitate the folding or pivoting of the sheet segments 28 about the hinge portions 24B. It will be appreciated that this physical linking can take many forms. In the embodiment of Fig. 2A, the hinge portions 24B are formed by a continuous extension of the material of the sheet body 22 between the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28. The summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28 are thus integral with one another. The material is thin enough, or flexible enough, to allow the adjacent sheet segments 28 to be folded relative to one another about the hinge portions 24B. In an alternate embodiment, an adhesive or flexible tape foldably links the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28. In another alternate embodiment, a mechanical hinge or linkage foldably links the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28. In yet another alternate embodiment, such as the one shown in Fig. 7A, the sheet body 322 is formed from a superposition of layers of material. A cut is formed through one or more of the layers of material at the summit portions 326A of the distal edges 329, such that the summit portions 326A of adjacent sheet segments 328 (i.e. at the hinge portions 324B of the joint 324) are linked by fewer layers of material and are therefore more flexible. In yet another alternate embodiment, the hinge portion 24B is a combination of more than one of the above-described embodiments. It will therefore be appreciated that the physical linking of the summit portions 26A of adjacent sheet segments 28 to form the hinge portions 24B is not limited to configuration shown in Fig. 2A.

[0040] The combination of the cut-out and hinge portions 24A.24B of the joint 24 helps to facilitate the folding of the adjacent sheet segments 28 about the joint 24. The cut-out and hinge portions 24A.24B alternate along the length of the joint 24 and along the direction of undulation D. In Fig. 2A, each cut-out portion 24A is positioned on the joint 24 between two hinge portions 24B, and each hinge portion 24B is similarly positioned on the joint 24 between the openings 25 of two cut-out portions 24A. It will also be understood that the positioning of the cut-out and hinge portions 24A.24B on the valley and summit portions 26B.26A, respectively, can be inversed. For example, when the sheet body 22 in Fig. 2A is flipped onto its other side, it will be understood that the cut out portions 24B are on the summit portions 26A, and the hinge portions 24A are on the valley portions 26B. The cut-out and hinge portions 24A.24B of the joint 24 are not both on the same undulated portion of the sheet body 22 (i.e. are not both on the summit portion 26A, and are not both on the valley portion 26B). The sheet body 22 may be provided with pre-formed cut-out and hinge portions 24A.24B, or they may be formed on the sheet body 22 on site before folding the sheet segments 28. The cut-out portion 24A and/or the hinge portion 24B of the joint 24 may be located on another portion of the distal edge 29 of each sheet segment 28. For example, in an alternate embodiment, the cut-out portion 24A of the joint 24 is defined by spaced-apart distal edges 29 of adjacent sheet segments 28 along the intermediate portions 26C of the sheet body 22. [0041] In Fig. 2A, each of the summit and valley portions 26A.26B have planar or flat segments. In the illustrated embodiment, the bottom of each valley portion 26B is flat, and the peak of each summit portion 26A is flat. The cut-out portions 24A of the joint 24 are defined by spacing apart the distal edges 29 of adjacent sheet segments 28 along the flat segments of the summit portions 26A. Similarly, the hinge portions 24B of the joint 24 are defined by joining the distal edges 29 of adjacent sheet segments 28 along the flat segments of the valley portions 26B.

[0042] In Fig. 2A, the openings 25 of the cut-out portions 24A extend along the intermediate portions 26C of the sheet body 22. The distal edges 29 along the intermediate portions 26C of adjacent sheet segments 28 are spaced from one another in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation D, and contribute to the size of the openings 25 of the cut-out portions 24A of the joint 24. These larger openings 25 of the joint 24 help to fold the sheet segments 28 relative to each other, and may help to form differently-shaped support structures 14. In the depicted embodiment, distal edges 29 along the intermediate portions 26C of the sheet segments 28 are oriented along an angle Q with respect to the direction of undulation D. The angle Q may be selected depending on the shape of the support structure 14 to be formed.

[0043] Referring to Figs. 2A to 2C, each sheet segment 28 is pivotable or foldable about the joints 24 to form the support structure 14. In the depicted embodiment, the sheet segments 28 are folded about the joints 24 toward each other to form a three- sided pyramid shaped support structure 14. After being folded, the sheet segments 28 maintain their undulated shape, and form the walls 14A of the support structure 14. The summit, valley, and/or intermediate portions 26A,26B,26C of the sheet body 22 are therefore also found on each of the walls 14A of the support structure 14. This allows the walls 14A to mate or engage other undulated objects which have a similar pattern of undulation, such as the undulated sheet 12 of the pallet 10.

[0044] In the depicted embodiment, the sheet segments 28 are folded to form a support structure 14 which is hollow, and defines a central cavity 15 bounded by the walls 14A. In an alternate embodiment, the support structure 14 is not hollow. In Figs. 2B and 2C, the sheet body 22 has two joints 24 and three sheet segments 28, and thus the support structure 14 formed thereby is an elongated pyramid. The support structure 14 may have other multi-sided, three-dimensional shapes. Any polyhedral shape is within the scope of the present disclosure, and may be created by varying the number of joints 24 and/or sheet segments 28. Some non-limiting examples of other polyhedral shapes include a tetrahedron, a hexahedron (e.g. a cube), a octahedron, and a dodecahedron.

[0045] Referring to Figs. 3A and 3B, the support structure 14 formed from the folded sheet segments 28 is engaged with the undulated sheet 12 of the pallet 10 to support the undulated sheet 12. More particularly, the summit portions 26A of one of the walls 14A of the support structure 14 are nested in the valley portions 16B of the underside of the undulated sheet 12. The walls 14A of the support structure 14 and the undulated sheet 12 have a complementary pattern of undulation.

[0046] Referring to Figs. 4A and 4B, the support structure 14 formed from the folded sheet segments 28 is engaged with the undulated sheet 12 of the pallet 10. In the depicted embodiment, the support structure 14 is positioned on top of the undulated sheet 12, so as to be positioned between one undulated sheet 12 below the support structure 14 and another undulated sheet 12 (not shown) above the support structure 14. More particularly, the summit portions 26A of one of the walls 14A of the support structure 14 are nested in the valley portions 16B on the upper surface of the lower undulated sheet 12. The walls 14A of the support structure 14 and the undulated sheet 12 have a complementary pattern of undulation.

[0047] Fig. 5 shows another embodiment of the pallet 110. The pallet 110 is a multi level construction having a bottom undulated sheet 112A and a top undulated sheet 112B. The bottom undulated sheet 112A is supported by three support structures 114 positioned between the floor surface and the bottom undulated sheet 112A. The top undulated sheet 112B is also supported by three support structures 114, positioned between the bottom undulated sheet 112A and the top undulated sheet 112B. The support structures 114 are spaced apart from one another in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation D of the undulated sheets 112A,112B. In the depicted embodiment, each of the support structures 114 has a pyramidal shape. Each of the support structures 114 is formed from four sheet segments 128. Two of the sheet segments 128 are overlapping sheet segments 128A. In the depicted embodiment, the overlapping sheet segments 128A form the“base” of the pyramidal support structures 114, i.e. opposite to the apex 114B of the support structures 114. In the depicted embodiment, the apex 114B of the support structures 114 are positioned, or nested, in the valley portions 116B of the bottom undulated sheet 112A.

[0048] Fig. 6 shows another embodiment of the pallet 210. The pallet 210 is a multi level construction having bottom and top undulated sheets 112A,112B. The bottom undulated sheet 112A is placed directly against a floor or resting surface. The top undulated sheet 112B is supported by six support structures 114 positioned between the bottom undulated sheet 112A and the top undulated sheet 112B. The bottom and top undulated sheets 112A, 112B, and the support structures 114, are similar to those described above with respect to Fig. 5, and therefore bear the same reference numbers. The support structures 114 are grouped together in pairs, and the pairs of support structures 114 are spaced apart from one another in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation D of the undulated sheets 112A,112B. One of the support structures 114 in each pair is oriented such that its apex 114B are nested in the valley portions 116B of the underside of the top undulated sheet 112B, and the other support structure 114 in the pair is oriented such that its apex 114B are nested in the valley portions 116B of the upper surface of the bottom undulated sheet 112A. For the support structures 114 whose apex 114B are nested in the valley portions 116B of the underside of the top undulated sheet 112B, the bases of these support structures 114 formed by the overlapping sheet segments 128A are nested in the valley portions 116B of the bottom undulated sheet 112A. Similarly, for the support structures 114 whose apex 114B are nested in the valley portions 116B of the bottom undulated sheet 112A, the bases of these support structures 114 formed by the overlapping sheet segments 128A are nested in the valley portions 116B of the underside of the top undulated sheet 112B.

[0049] Figs. 7A to 7F show another embodiment of the foldable sheet 320 and the structure 314 formed thereby. The foldable sheet 320 has three joints 324 and four sheet segments 328. In the depicted embodiment, a length of each sheet segment 328, which is measured in the direction of undulation D, is greater than a width of each sheet segment 328, which is measured transverse to the direction of undulation D. The sheet segments 328 are foldable about the joints 324 to form an open tetrahedron structure 314 having a central cavity 315. The structure 314 is therefore a cube having only four sides. The hollow structure 314 in the depicted embodiment is used for packaging items for transport. The undulation of the external walls 314A of the structure 314 may provide a buffer and impact protection to the item in the cavity 315. To form the cube like structure 314, the foldable sheet 320 has a bottom sheet segment 328A, two side sheet segments 328B, and a top sheet segment 328C.

[0050] To form the tetrahedron structure 314, one of the side sheet segments 328B is folded about one of the joints 324 toward the bottom sheet segment 328A, as shown in Fig. 7B. Then the other side sheet segment 328B is folded about another joint 324 toward the bottom sheet segment 328A, as shown in Fig. 7C. At this point, and as shown in Fig. 7D, a first insert wall 327A can be inserted between the two side sheet segments 328B and along the bottom sheet segment 328A to form a wall that delimits the size of the cavity 315, or which closes one of the open sides of the structure 314. A second insert wall 327B, which is transverse to the first insert wall 327A and intersects the first insert wall 327A, is inserted along the bottom sheet segment 328A to form an internal partition of the cavity 315, as shown in Fig. 7E. Finally, the top sheet segment 328C is folded about one of the joints 324 and connected to the side sheet segments 328B with a suitable connector to form the structure 314, as shown in Fig. 7F.

[0051] Fig. 8 shows another embodiment of the pallet 310. The pallet 310 is a multi level construction having bottom and top undulated sheets 312A.312B. The top undulated sheet 312B is supported by three support structures 114 positioned between the bottom undulated sheet 312A and the top undulated sheet 312B. The bottom and top undulated sheets 312A.312B, and the support structures 114, are similar to those described above with respect to Fig. 5. The support structures 114 are spaced apart from one another in a direction transverse to the direction of undulation D of the undulated sheets 312A.312B. The bottom undulated sheet 312A has undulated edge strips 315 extending in the direction of undulation D and applied to opposed extremities of the bottom undulated sheet 312A. The undulated edge strips 315 have an undulation pattern matching that of the bottom undulated sheet 312A, and thus nest within an upper surface of the bottom undulated sheet 312A. The undulated edge strips 315 serve to block the support structures 114 which support the top undulated sheet 312B, thereby preventing the support structures 114 for the top undulated sheet 312B from sliding off the upper surface of the bottom undulated sheet 312A. Some of the support structures 114 for the top undulated sheet 312B are positioned underneath the opposed extremities of the top undulated sheet 312B to provide additional stability along its sides.

[0052] The pallet 10,110,210,310 disclosed herein and its components, as well as the foldable sheet 20,320 can be made from any suitable material. The material may include, but is not limited to, paperboard, kraft paper, or a polymer. The outer surfaces of the pallet 10,110,210,310 and/or of the foldable sheet 20,320 may also be coloured or be printed upon to provide a desired surface finish to the structure 14,114,314. The foldable sheet 20,320 can be constituted of a single layer of a material, or can be composed of multiple layers of material.

[0053] The foldable sheet 20,320 can be mass manufactured in large quantities to any suitable dimension. If a user requires the foldable sheet 20,320 to be a particular size, s/he can easily remove sections of the foldable sheet 20,320 by cutting them off. The user can score the sheet 20,320 and fold it to produce the desired structure 14,114,314 on site. The foldable sheet 20,320 disclosed therein is therefore a cost-effective, lightweight, and convenient tool for making suitable structures 14,114,314.

[0054] The foldable sheet 20,320 disclosed herein can also be shipped flat such that the summit and valley portions 26A,26B of the stacked foldable sheets 20,320 nest within one another. It is therefore possible to reduce the amount of air, and thus volume, involved in shipping the foldable sheets 20,320.

[0055] The above description is meant to be exemplary only, and one skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made to the embodiments described without departing from the scope of the invention disclosed. Still other modifications which fall within the scope of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art, in light of a review of this disclosure, and such modifications are intended to fall within the appended claims.