Patent application title: Reusable Beverage Container Insulator and Handle
Jason P. Martin (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Jason P. Martin (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Andrew G. V. Oldknow (Beaverton, OR, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D2522FI
Class name: Container attachment or adjunct container holder insulated
Publication date: 2012-09-13
Patent application number: 20120228318
A family of reusable insulating cup handles featuring an interesting
haptic "click" characteristic and a grip-enhancing resilient, tacky
surface, which may be made from a variety of materials.
1. A reusable beverage container handle comprising: an oblong, bi-stable,
resilient spring body; and a handle attached to the spring body, wherein
a primary axis of the handle is roughly perpendicular to a long axis of
the spring body.
2. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein a first stable configuration of the spring body is substantially planar, and a second stable configuration of the spring body is substantially cylindrical.
3. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein a transformation from a first stable configuration to a second stable configuration emits an audible click sound.
4. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein the spring body comprises: an oblong, bi-stable spring core; and a silicone sleeve covering the spring core.
5. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein the spring body comprises: an oblong, bi-stable spring core; and a silicone sleeve molded around the spring core.
6. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 5 wherein the oblong, bi-stable, spring core is a spring steel core.
7. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein the handle is molded together with the spring body.
8. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1 wherein the handle is molded separately from the spring body.
9. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 1, further comprising: grip-enhancing features at each end of the spring body.
10. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 9 wherein the grip-enhancing features are bumps and matching depressions.
11. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 9 wherein the grip-enhancing features are sawtooth features.
12. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 9 wherein the grip-enhancing features are self-adhesive areas.
13. The reusable beverage container handle of claim 9 wherein the grip-enhancing features resist shear forces pulling apart the ends of the spring body.
14. An insulated cup handle comprising: a bi-stable, oblong spring member which is concave about its long dimension in a first stable configuration; a silicone covering molded over the spring member, the silicone covering having a transverse elongation perpendicular to the long dimension of the spring member; and a handle attached to the silicone covering at the transverse elongation.
15. The insulated cup handle of claim 14, further comprising: grip-enhancing features on a first side of a first end of the silicone covering and on a second side of a second end of the silicone covering, wherein the grip-enhancing features contact each other when the spring member is curled into a second stable configuration; and the grip-enhancing features resist shear forces pulling the first end away from the second end.
16. The insulated cup handle of claim 14 wherein the transverse elongation is a first transverse elongation, the cup handle further comprising: a second transverse elongation perpendicular to the long dimension of the spring member and spaced apart from the first transverse elongation; and a second handle attached to the silicone covering at the second transverse elongation.
17. The insulated cup handle of claim 14 wherein the bi-stable, oblong spring member is a spring steel strip.
18. The insulated cup handle of claim 14 wherein the bi-stable, oblong spring member is a titanium strip.
19. The insulated cup handle of claim 14 wherein the bi-stable, oblong spring member contains at least one perforation.
20. A reusable insulated cup handle comprising: a bistable oblong spring member approximately 300 mm in length and 60 mm in width over most of its length, said spring member having an outer surface comprising a resilient, slightly self-adhesive material; a transverse elongation of the spring member, said transverse elongation having a width of approximately 40 mm in a direction parallel to the 300 mm length of the spring member and a height of approximately 100 mm in a direction perpendicular to the 300 mm length of the spring member; a substantially tubular handle attached to the spring member at the transverse elongation, said handle having a diameter of approximately 10 mm and standing away from the transverse elongation by about 45 mm over a portion of its length; a plurality of grip-enhancing features disposed on an inner and an outer surface of the spring member, covering approximately 40 mm of each end of the spring member; and a plurality of stand-off ribs formed on a surface of the spring member, said ribs extending from the surface of the spring member in an opposite direction from the handle, wherein the spring member is substantially planar in a first stable configuration, the spring member is substantially cylindrical in a second stable configuration, and the spring member emits a click that is perceptible by touch as the spring member is moved from the first stable configuration to the second stable configuration.
 The invention relates to beverage-container accessories. More specifically, the invention relates to reusable insulators and handles for beverage containers such as cups, bottles and cans.
 Many beverages are served in disposable containers such as bottles, cans and paper or foam cups. These containers are usually regular in form, cylindrical or truncated conical, and provided without protrusions or other adornments. Such containers are efficient in their use of material, and (if shipped empty) can be stacked or nested to reduce their overall volume and improve shipping efficiency. Unfortunately, the same features that improve efficiency, detract from usefulness when the containers are filled and served. For example, thin paper cups may be too hot to hold when filled with coffee, and condensation on cold aluminum cans may make them slippery and hard to grasp.
 Paper insulating sleeves are often provided to address the first problem, and foam or neoprene "cozies" help with the second, but insulating sleeves are wasteful, and neoprene cozies take up space when not in use. A reusable, insulating beverage holder may be of value in this field.
 Embodiments of the invention use a flexible bi-stable spring member, a sturdy handle and a pliable, resilient covering to make a reusable beverage holder with interesting tactile and haptic characteristics.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 Embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of example and not by way of limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings in which like references indicate similar elements. It should be noted that references to "an" or "one" embodiment in this disclosure are not necessarily to the same embodiment, and such references mean "at least one."
 FIG. 1 shows a bi-stable spring member in its two stable configurations.
 FIGS. 2A-2C show an embodiment of the invention during attachment to a beverage container.
 FIGS. 3A-3F show several views of an embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 4 is a partial cutaway view of an embodiment.
 FIGS. 5A-5C show other embodiments.
 Embodiments of the invention provide a reusable insulating beverage container handle with interesting tactile and haptic properties, in addition to the principal functional characteristics of temperature- and slip-resistance.
 FIG. 1 shows an oblong resilient spring member 100 which forms the core of an embodiment of the invention. The spring member is slightly concave about its longer axis, as shown in perspective view 110. When flexed about its shorter axis, it springs or curls into a cylindrical shape 120, often with a satisfying audible or tactile click. The spring member is stable in either the flat or curled state until it is partly flexed or uncurled towards the other state, at which time it will spring fully to that other state.
 Springs of this general form and behavior are frequently made of thin leaves of spring steel, and have been used as bracelets and children's toys. The relatively complex, bi-stable behavior of the spring member is at odds with its apparently simple construction, and many people enjoy playing with or "clicking" them as a distraction or (paradoxically) as a mental focusing aid.
 FIGS. 2A-2C show an embodiment of the invention which relies on a bi-stable spring member like that described with reference to FIG. 1, to wrap around and attach to a roughly-cylindrical object. In this series of illustrations, the inventive insulated handle 200 (with its spring member in its flat or uncurled state) is brought near a cylindrical object 210 such as a beverage can (FIG. 2A). Next, the "arms" 220, 230 or ends of the oblong main body are flexed toward the cylinder (FIG. 2B). Finally, when the critical flexion point is reached, the arms spring to their curled position, wrapping around and attaching the handle to the cylinder (FIG. 2C).
 FIGS. 3A-F show a number of views of an embodiment of the invention, with various features identified and highlighted. Plan-view 3A shows the back or outside of the embodiment. The long, horizontal axis of the oblong spring body is indicated at 310, while a perpendicular, transverse elongation 320 provides attachment points for the handle 330. The principal axis of the handle (an imaginary line through the curled fingers of a user's hand holding the handle) is roughly perpendicular to the long axis of the spring body. The transverse elongation facilitates the attachment of a longer handle, which may better suit the hand sizes of range of users. Also, the elongation alters the planes of bending and shear forces that act to detach a full, heavy container from the grip of the arms of the embodiment, reducing the chance of accidental detachment. At either end of the oblong spring body, grip-enhancing features 340 may be positioned to improve device function as detailed below.
 Top view 3B shows little beyond the modest thickness of most of the oblong spring body and another view of handle 330 extending therefrom.
 View 3C is the front or inner surface of the embodiment. When the embodiment is in its curled state and attached to a roughly-cylindrical object, portions of this inner surface are in contact with the object. As shown in this view, the inner surface may include horizontal protrusions or ribs 350, and additional grip-enhancing features 360 which interact with the features identified as 340 in plan view 3A. (All of FIGS. 3A-3A show the embodiment in its flattened, extended or uncurled configuration, where the spring body is substantially planar.)
 Side view 3F shows the slight concavity of the spring body and the profiles of ribs 350 and handle 330. Note in this view that an embodiment may contain a smaller, narrower active bi-stable spring member 370 molded into, embedded or inserted into a covering; the entire oblong spring body need not be formed of the resilient spring material.
 FIGS. 3D and 3E show the embodiment in its curled state, attached to a disposable paper coffee cup. (Such cups are often shaped as truncated cones rather than cylinders. An embodiment can attach to and hold these cups as well as cylindrical cans and similar containers.) When curled, the spring body is substantially cylindrical in shape, with the handle extending out from the outer surface of the cylinder. At 380, note that the ends of the elongated spring body, with their grip-enhancing features 340 and 360, are overlapped. (In particular, the outside features of one arm are in contact with the inside features of the other arm. In an embodiment, both arms may have grip-enhancing features on both the inside and outside of both arms, so that the arms can be overlapped either left-over-right or right-over-left.)
 The grip-enhancing features may be, for example, bumps and depressions that fit together and resist shear stresses pulling the ends of the arms apart. Other embodiments may use sawtooth or ramp features, magnets, or self-adhesive materials as grip-enhancing features to help prevent the arms of the elongated spring body from slipping apart and releasing the attached container.
 FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the invention (generally at 400). In this illustration, a portion of the right arm of the oblong spring body has been cut away along line 410 to expose internal spring member 470. In this embodiment, a simple, roughly rectangular spring has been molded into a covering, which further comprises the handle (only partly visible in this view) vertical ribs 450, and grip-enhancing features (not visible). In some embodiments, spring 470 may have perforations 490 to improve the connection between spring 470 and the over-molded outer covering.
 In other embodiments, the outer covering may be molded without the core spring member. Instead, in such an embodiment, the molded covering is either formed with a slit, or a slit is cut after molding, and the spring member is inserted into it later, as into a sleeve.
 In some embodiments, the handle is molded at the same time, and from the same material, as the rest of the oblong spring body. In other embodiments, the handle may be made from a different material (such as a higher-durometer polymer) and combined with the spring body in a subsequent manufacturing operation.
 Many embodiments are molded from a silicone material. The resilient, slightly sticky feel of this material provides additional tactile interest to an embodiment and complements the haptic click as the arms are straightened and curled. In addition, silicone provides excellent insulation properties to protect a user's hands from hot or cold contents of the beverage container, and anti-slip properties to increase the shear resistance of the arm-end overlap and reduce the risk of inadvertent disconnection of the embodiment from the container.
 An embodiment need not comprise a full silicone (or other material) sheath over the bi-stable spring core. A "skeletonized" version may comprise a mostly-bare spring core (perhaps formed from a spring material such as titanium, which can be processed to obtain an attractive and durable multi-colored finish). The core may be fitted with a few silicone loops or bands to provide tactile interest and anti-slip properties when curled against a container, and a minimal handle of metal or plastic.
 FIG. 5A shows another embodiment of the invention, with a singly-attached handle 510. This handle can be "hooked" over a support to hold the attached container when a surface on which the container can be rested is not available.
 FIG. 5B shows another embodiment comprising two radially-opposed handles. Two (or more) handles may be helpful for children and other users of impaired dexterity. The embodiment of FIG. 5B is shown, for example, wrapping and holding an infant's bottle.
 FIG. 5C shows yet another embodiment of the invention. This version has no handle at all, so its primary functions are temperature insulation and slip resistance, but it also has the interesting resilient, slightly sticky, "squishy" tactile and haptic "click" properties of other embodiments.
 In one preferred embodiment, the bistable spring member is approximately 300 mm in length, and approximately 60 mm in width over most of its length. The transverse elongation where the handle attaches is approximately 40 mm wide and 100 mm tall. The handle is roughly tubular, around 10 mm in diameter, and extends approximately 45 mm from the outside surface of the spring member. When curled, this embodiment can accommodate cylindrical and truncated-conical containers with diameters between approximately 70 mm and 90 mm. (In particular, the grip-enhancing features cover at least the last 40 mm of both inside and outside of the ends of the spring member, so that they overlap by between 10 mm and 40 mm when the embodiment is attached to containers of the sizes noted.) This embodiment can be used with larger or smaller containers, but its holding strength may be slightly compromised.
 The characteristics of the present invention have been described largely by reference to specific examples and in terms of particular materials and manufacturing techniques. However, those of skill in the art will recognize that reusable, insulating handles for beverage containers can also be constructed in other forms and from other materials without departing from the underlying principles of the invention. Such alternate forms and materials are understood to be captured according to the following claims.
Patent applications by Jason P. Martin, Lake Oswego, OR US
Patent applications in class Insulated
Patent applications in all subclasses Insulated