Phoenix Packaging Operations submits US patent application for 'Food Container Top with Integrally Formed Utensil'

ATLANTA , December 12, 2013 () – According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Robert, Stephen (Mississauga, CA); Traynor, William (Mississauga, CA), filed on May 28, 2013, was made available online on December 5, 2013.

The assignee for this patent application is Phoenix Packaging Operations, LLC.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The plastics industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. In the U.S. alone, the plastics industry employs more than 885,000 people and creates more than $380 billion in annual revenue. One of the largest sectors of the plastics manufacturing industry is the food container manufacturing sector. Food containers comprised of plastics can take many forms, including bottles, cups, bowls, plates, jugs, boxes, etc. There is further a large variety of ways to manufacture and shape the various plastic food containers.

"One of the most common types of food container includes a main housing, such as a bowl, a seal that covers the top of the main housing to seal in the food, and a removable top or lid that sits on top of the seal. A wide array of foods, both solids and in liquid form, are sold using this conventional food container. One of the problems associated with this type of container, however, is the expense associated with manufacturing the item. The manufacturing of the aforementioned conventional food container includes a process for forming the main housing, a separate process for placing the seal on the main housing and yet another process for both manufacturing the lid and placing the lid on the main housing. It is well known that each process undertaken during the manufacturing of a plastic product increases the time, materials, and expense associated with the manufacturing.

"Another problem associated with the aforementioned conventional food container is its lack of versatility in use in various situations. With the increased time demands of modern society, many consumers today desire foods that can be purchased and eaten while on-the-go. This need is easily met with drink containers that can be opened and drank right out of the container. But when dealing with solid foods, consumers must pick up the food out of the container, which cannot be done cleanly without a utensil. Since most food containers don't come with utensils at the point of sale, this limits the versatility and ease-of-use of the conventional food container.

"From the foregoing, it is apparent that there exists a definite need for a food container that can be manufactured in a more efficient manner and in such a way as to meet the desires of consumers."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Briefly, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a method for producing a molded article comprising a food container top is disclosed. The method includes providing a mold for forming the molded article, wherein the mold defines a frame, a utensil located substantially coplanar with the frame and a frangible link between the frame and the utensil, providing an in-mold lidding film having a heat activatable lower surface, positioning the in-mold lidding film adjacent to an interior molding surface of the mold, molding the molded article from a heated thermoplastic resin contained within the mold, whereby the heated thermoplastic resin contacts a perimeter of the heat-activatable lower surface of the in-mold lidding film, and the perimeter of the heat-activatable lower surface of the in-mold lidding film is molded to the frame of the article such that the in-mold lidding film hermetically seals an opening defined by the frame, cooling the molded article, and removing the molded article from the mold.

"In another embodiment, a molded article comprising a food container top is disclosed. The molded article includes a frame having a top surface and defining an opening, a utensil located substantially coplanar with, and integrally formed with, the frame, a frangible link between the frame and the utensil, an in-mold lidding film having a portion molded to the utensil and a perimeter molded to the frame such that the in-mold lidding film covers the opening defined by the frame, wherein the in-mold lidding film is hand peelable from the frame and the utensil, and a pull tab, formed from the in-mold lidding film, that extends past a perimeter of an upper surface of the frame.

"The foregoing and other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The subject matter, which is regarded as the invention, is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The foregoing and other features and also the advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Additionally, the left-most digit of a reference number identifies the drawing in which the reference number first appears.

"FIG. 1 is an illustration of a perspective view of a food container including a top having a removable seal and a removable utensil, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 2 is an illustration of a perspective view of the food container top of FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 3 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of the food container top of FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 4 is an illustration of a top view of the food container top of FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 5 is an illustration of a detailed perspective view of the frangible link of the food container top of FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 6 is an illustration of a perspective view of a food container including a top having a seal and a removable utensil, in accordance with a second embodiment.

"FIG. 7 is an illustration of a perspective view of the food container top of FIG. 6, in accordance with a second embodiment.

"FIG. 8 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of the food container top of FIG. 6, in accordance with a second embodiment.

"FIG. 9 is an illustration of a top view of the food container top of FIG. 6, in accordance with a second embodiment.

"FIG. 10 is an illustration of a detailed perspective view of the frangible link of the food container top of FIG. 6, in accordance with a second embodiment.

"FIG. 11 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of a mold in an open state, wherein the mold is used in manufacturing the food container top of FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 12 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of the mold of FIG. 11 in a closed state, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing the control flow of the process for manufacturing a food container including a top having a seal and a removable utensil, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing the control flow of an alternative process for manufacturing a food container including a top having a seal and a removable utensil, in accordance with one embodiment."

For more information, see this patent application: Robert, Stephen; Traynor, William. Food Container Top with Integrally Formed Utensil. Filed May 28, 2013 and posted December 5, 2013.

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