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Title:
INSULATED FOOD AND BEVERAGE CONTAINERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/201575
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An insulating element that is releasably lockable to a container, wherein the insulating element is integrally formed from foam material to at least partially conform to the container.

Inventors:
HARBINSON, Jason (33 Redland Drive, Mitcham, Victoria 3132, 3132, AU)
BOW, Nicholas (33 Redland Drive, Mitcham, Victoria 3132, 3132, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/050485
Publication Date:
November 30, 2017
Filing Date:
May 24, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SMASH ASSET MANAGEMENT PTY LTD (33 Redland Drive, Mitcham, Victoria 3132, 3132, AU)
International Classes:
A45C11/20; B65D25/04; B65D81/38
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006124149A22006-11-23
Foreign References:
US20100078441A12010-04-01
US8061547B22011-11-22
US6067813A2000-05-30
US20140238995A12014-08-28
US5188234A1993-02-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WULFF, Steven (K&L Gates, Level 25 South Tower 525 Collins Stree, Melbourne Victoria 3000, 3000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1 . An insulating element that is releasably lockable to a container, wherein the insulating element is integrally formed from foam material to at least partially conform to the container.

2. The insulating element of claim 1 , wherein the insulating element is integrally formed by compression or injection moulding the foam material.

3. The insulating element of claim 2, wherein the foam material comprises synthetic or natural polymers.

4. The insulating element of claim 3, wherein the foam material comprises ethylene-vinyl acetate foam.

5. The insulating element of any preceding claim, wherein the insulating element is releasably lockable to the container by snap or press fit connections.

6. The insulating element of claim 5, wherein the snap or press fit connections comprise peripheral tabs or flanges on the container that snap or press fit to a peripheral rim, rib or groove on the insulating element.

7. The insulating element of any preceding claim, wherein the insulating element is printed, laminated or a combination thereof.

8. The insulating element of claim 7, wherein the insulating element is laminated with plastics material, fabric material, or a combination thereof.

9. The insulating element of claim 8, wherein the plastics material comprises polyurethane, and the fabric material comprises jersey fabric.

10. A method, comprising integrally forming an insulating element from a foam material that is permanently deformed by the integral forming so that, in use, the insulating element is at least partially conformable, and releasably lockable, to a container.

1 1 . An insulated container, comprising a container that is releasably lockable to the insulating element of any one of claims 1 to 9, or to the insulating element made by the method of claim 1 0.

12. The insulated container of claim 1 1 , further comprising a lid that is releasably lockable to the container by snap or press fit connections.

13. The insulated container of claim 12, wherein the snap or press fit connections comprise peripheral tabs or flanges on the lid that snap or press fit over peripheral tabs or flanges on the container which snap or press fit to the peripheral rim, rib or groove on the insulating element.

14. The insulated container of claim 1 2 or 13, wherein the container and the lid are each integrally moulded from plastics material.

15. The insulated container of claim 14, wherein the plastics material comprises polypropylene.

16. The insulated container of claim 14 or 15, wherein the plastics material further comprises an antibacterial additive.

17. The insulated container of any one of claims 1 1 to 16, wherein the container comprises a lunch box, a bento box, a drink bottle, a bowl, a dish, a plate, a tray, a bottle, and combinations thereof.

18. A divider panel, comprising a resilient peripheral seal so that, in use, the divider panel is removably sealingly insertable in a container to define compartments therein.

19. The divider panel of claim 1 8, wherein the divider panel comprises rigid plastics material, and the resilient peripheral seal comprises resilient plastics material that is bonded, co-moulded or over-moulded around peripheral edges of the rigid plastics material.

20. The divider panel of claim 19, wherein the rigid plastics material comprises polypropylene, and the resilient plastics material comprises thermoplastic elastomers.

21 . The divider panel of claim 1 8, wherein the divider panel comprises rigid plastics material, and the resilient peripheral seal comprises resilient plastics material that is friction fit to peripheral edges of the rigid plastics material.

22. The divider panel of claim 21 , wherein the rigid plastics material comprises polypropylene, and the resilient plastics material comprises silicone rubber.

22. A kit of parts, comprising the insulating element of any one of claims 1 to 9, and a container that is releasably lockable to the insulating element.

23. The kit of parts of claim 22, further comprising a lid that is releasably lockable to the container, and the divider panel of any one of claims 18 to 21 .

Description:
INSULATED FOOD AND BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

Field

[0001 ] The present invention relates to insulated food and beverage containers. Background

[0002] Insulated food and beverage containers, such as lunch boxes and drink bottles, commonly comprise plastic containers slidably received in thermally insulative covers.

[0003] Existing insulated food and beverage containers suffer from various drawbacks. The plastic containers frequently slide out of their covers leaving their contents uninsulated. The covers typically have a complicated cut-and-sewn construction that comprises multiple pieces of fabric material or neoprene.

[0004] A need therefore exists for improved thermally insulated food and beverage containers.

Summary

[0005] According to the present invention, there is provided an insulating element that is releasably lockable to a container, wherein the insulating element is integrally formed from foam material to at least partially conform to the container.

[0006] The insulating element may be integrally formed by compression or injection moulding the foam material. The foam material may comprise foam material comprising synthetic or natural polymers, for example, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam.

[0007] The insulating element may be releasably lockable to the container by snap or press fit connections. The snap or press fit connections may comprise peripheral tabs or flanges on the container that snap or press fit to a peripheral rim, rib or groove on the insulating element. [0008] The insulating element may be printed, laminated, or a combination thereof. The insulating element may be laminated with plastics material, fabric material, or a combination thereof. The plastic material may comprise polyurethane (PU), and the fabric material comprises jersey fabric.

[0009] The present invention also provides a method, comprising integrally forming an insulating element from foam material that is permanently deformed by the integral forming so that, in use, the insulating element is at least partially conformable, and releasably lockable, to a container.

[0010] The present invention also provides an insulated container, comprising a container that is releasably lockable to the insulating element described above.

[001 1 ] The insulated container may further comprise a lid that is releasably lockable to the container by snap or press fit connections. The snap or press fit connections may comprise peripheral tabs or flanges on the lid that snap or fit over peripheral tabs or flanges on the container which snap or press fit to the peripheral rim, rib or groove on the insulating element.

[0012] The container and the lid may each be integrally moulded from plastics material, for example, polypropylene (PP). The plastics material may further comprise an antibacterial additive. The plastics material may be a food grade or medical grade material.

[0013] The container may comprise a lunch box, a bento box, a drink bottle, a bowl, a dish, a plate, a tray, a bottle, and combinations thereof.

[0014] The present invention further provides a divider panel comprising a resilient peripheral seal so that, in use, the divider panel is removably sealingly insertable in a container to define compartments therein.

[0015] The divider panel may comprise rigid plastics material, and the resilient peripheral seal may comprise resilient plastics material that is bonded, co-moulded or over-moulded around peripheral edges of the rigid plastic material. In other embodiments, the resilient peripheral seal may be removably attached to the rigid plastic materials, eg via friction fit or snap fit. The rigid plastics material may comprise PP, and the resilient plastics material may comprise silicone plastics material or thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), for example, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

[0016] The present invention also provides a kit of parts, comprising the insulating element described above, and a container that is releasably lockable to the insulating element.

[0017] The kit of parts may further comprise a lid that is releasably lockable to the container, and the divider panel described above.

Brief Description of Drawings

[0018] Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of an insulating element and a container according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of an insulated container assembled from the insulating element and the container of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the insulated container;

Figure 4 is a perspective view of a sealable divider panel for a container according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 5 is a section view of the sealable divider panel inserted in an insulated container;

Figure 6 is a section view of an alternative embodiment of the insulated container including a double walled lid; and

Figure 7 shows front, side, plan and sectional views of an alternative embodiment of the sealable divider panel including a removable peripheral seal.

Description of Embodiments

[0019] Referring to the drawings, a thermally insulated container 2 according to an embodiment of the present invention generally comprises an insulating element 4 that is releasably lockable to a container 6. The insulated container 2 may further comprise a lid 8 that is releasably lockable to the container 6. The container 6 and the lid 8 may each be integrally moulded from plastics material, for example, PP, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or polycyclohexylene dimethylene terephthalate copolyester (sold under the tradename TRITAN™). The plastics material may be free from Bisphenol A, (BPA), and may be a food grade or medical grade material. Optionally, the plastics material may further comprise an antibacterial additive. Other equivalent or alternative materials may also be used for the container 6 and/or the lid 8, for example, glass, ceramic, etc.

[0020] In the illustrated embodiment, the insulated container 2 comprises a lunch box that is divided into multiple internal compartments by divider panels 10. It will be appreciated that in other embodiments the insulated container 2 may comprise other alternative or equivalent types of food or beverage containers, such as single compartment lunch boxes, bento boxes, drink bottles, bowls, dishes, plates, trays, bottles, and combinations thereof.

[0021 ] The insulating element 4 may comprise a surround, sleeve, jacket, or cover that is integrally formed from thermally insulative foam material to at least partially conform to, or surround, the container 6. The foam material may be permanently deformed so that the resulting insulating element 4 at least partially conforms to the container 6. For example, the insulating element 4 may be complementarily shaped to that of the container 6. Further, the insulating element 4 may be sufficiently rigid, self-supporting or non-collapsible to retain its complementary shape in use, but sufficiently flexible and conformable to readily removably nest with, or snug fit to, the container 6. In addition to insulating the contents of the container 6, the insulating element 4 may also function as a protective layer, helping to absorb shocks or impacts if the container 2 is dropped. This may be particularly useful if the container 6 is manufactured from a breakable material such as glass.

[0022] The insulating element 4 may be integrally formed by compression or injection moulding the foam material. The foam material may comprise synthetic or natural polymers, for example, EVA foam, foam rubber or expanded plastics foam. For example, the insulating element 4 may be integrally formed by compression moulding a laminated sheet of EVA foam. The EVA foam sheet may be printed, laminated, or a combination thereof. The EVA foam sheet may be laminated with plastics material, fabric material, or a combination thereof. For example, the plastics material may comprise PU, and the fabric material may comprise cotton jersey fabric.

[0023] The insulating element 4 may be releasably lockable to the container 6 by snap or press fit (or, snap-lock or clip-lock) connections 12. The snap or press fit connections 12 may be integrally formed on the container 6 and the insulating element 4, or may be formed separately as attachments to the container 6 and the insulating element 4. The snap or press fit connections 1 2 may comprise peripheral tabs or flanges on the container 6 that snap or press fit to a peripheral rim, rib or groove on the insulating element 4, or vice versa. In the embodiment illustrated in Figures 1 , 2 and 5, the snap or press fit connections 12 comprise resilient peripheral tabs 12a that are integrally moulded on opposed sides and ends of the container 6. The peripheral tabs 12a on the container 6 overlap and press fit to a peripheral rim 12b on the insulating element 4. The peripheral rim 12b may be integrally formed as a protrusion on the insulating element 4, or may be formed separately by sewing or bonding fabric or webbing around the peripheral rim 1 2b of the insulating element 4.

[0024] The lid 8 may also be releasably lockable to the container 6 may by snap or press fit (or, snap-lock or clip-lock) connections 1 2 that at least partially overlap those used to releasably lock the insulating element 4 to the container 6. For example, in the embodiment illustrated in Figures 1 , 2 and 5, the snap or press fit connections 1 2 comprise peripheral flanges 12a that press fit into a peripheral groove formed around upper portions of the container 6. A resilient peripheral seal 14, such as a silicone rubber ring, may be provided on the lid 8 adjacent to the peripheral flanges 12a. Figure 3 illustrates another embodiment where the snap or press fit connections 1 2 on the lid 8 comprise snap lock flanges 12a. In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 6, the lid 8 may have additional thermal-insulating features, such as a double walled construction.

[0025] Referring to Figures 4 and 5, one or both of the divider panels 10 may comprise a resilient peripheral seal or gasket 16 so that, in use, the divider panel 10 is removably sealingly insertable in the container 6 to define internal compartments. The divider panel 10 may press fit between internal walls of the container 6, or may be removably received in a corresponding guide slot or recess provided inside the container 6. The sealable divider panel 10 may comprise rigid plastics material, and the resilient peripheral seal 1 6 may comprise resilient plastics material that is bonded, co-moulded or over-moulded around peripheral edges of the rigid plastic material. Alternatively, the resilient peripheral seal may be removably attached to the rigid plastic materials, eg via friction fit or snap fit. For example, as shown in Figure 7, the rigid plastics material may be formed with a groove or channel at peripheral edge portions, configured to retain a rib or ridge of the resilient seal. The rigid plastics material may comprise PP, and the resilient material may comprise silicone plastics material or TPE, for example, TPU. In some embodiments, the entire divider panel 1 0 may comprise a resilient material. The plastics material is preferably a food grade or medical grade material. The sealable divider panel 1 0 is not limited to use in or with the insulated container 2, but may be also used in conventional uninsulated food or beverage containers.

[0026] In use, the insulating element 4 is releasably lockable to the container 6 to inhibit thermal degradation or spoilage of food or beverage contents of the insulated container 2. After use of the insulated container 2, the insulating element 4, lid 8, container 6, and divider panels 10 may be readily separated from one another for cleaning and washing. For example, the individual components may be conveniently stacked or placed separately from one another within the confined spaces of individual racks or trays in a dishwashing machine.

[0027] The insulated container 2 may be supplied in assembled form, or in disassembled form as a kit of parts. The individual components may also be supplied separately from one another as spare or replacement parts.

[0028] Embodiments of the present invention provide insulated food or beverage containers having integrally formed and releasably lockable insulating elements that are useful alternatives to conventional multi-piece cut-and-sewn fabric covers.

[0029] For the purpose of this specification, the word "comprising" means "including but not limited to," and the word "comprises" has a corresponding meaning.

[0030] The above embodiments have been described by way of example only and modifications are possible within the scope of the claims that follow.