News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Package Definition System", for Approval

February 25, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Morgana, Stephen C. (Rochester, NY); Eschbach, Reiner (Webster, NY), filed on July 31, 2012, was made available online on February 13, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Xerox Corporation.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "When selecting a package for a manufactured product that is to be sold or shipped, product manufacturers and sellers typically must select a package from a specific inventory of available package sizes and shapes. However, this may result in a package that is not entirely suitable for the product. For example, when using a package that is larger than the product requires, additional packaging material may be needed to avoid damage to the product during handling. In addition, a larger package can require increased shipping and handling costs.

"Thus, there has been significant interest in the manufacture of personalized packaging for small volume applications as they might arise from needing to add a secondary package around a primary package, from personalizing or customizing a primary or secondary package, from small test or sample runs, or from any other reason requiring short runs. However, current methods of making personalized packages are time consuming and require manipulation of machine parameters by experienced personnel. Thus, a user may only select from a limited number of templates. It is not easy for a novice user to create personalized packaging through a user interface.

"In addition, automated package generation systems have limited variability. Although some package generation devices may produce packages from templates, the templates provide limited options. A very large number of templates would be required to enable a current package generation system to create, for example, a wide variety of package sizes.

"This document describes systems and methods that present solutions to the problems discussed above, and which may also provide additional benefits."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In an embodiment in a method of defining a package, a processor may generate a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional package by identifying a first set of package facets, wherein each a facet in the first set represents a face of the package. Each face includes a set of edges. For each of the edges, the method includes identifying a connecting relationship between the edge's face and different one of the faces. The connecting relationships may be simple relationships, such as folds or mere adjacent positioning, or they may require additional facets in the form of functional elements. Based on the connecting relationships, the method includes identifying various functional elements, each of which will be used to implement the connecting relationship between various faces. The method also includes creating a graph representation of the three dimensional package comprising a plurality of links and nodes. Each node represents one of the faces or functional elements, and each of the links corresponds to two of the nodes and represents a connecting relationship between the two nodes. The method also includes saving the graph representation to a memory as a data file.

"Optionally, the nodes that correspond to at least some of the functional element links form a removable connection. The removable connection may include one or more of the following: a lid and opening; a pair of interlocking locking tabs; or a tab and receiver.

"The method also may include causing a package design user interface to be presented to a user; receiving a first dimension from the user interface for a specified one of the edges; accessing the graph representation to identify a linked edge that has a connecting relationship with the specified edge; using the first dimension to determine a second dimension for the linked edge; and creating a package generation rule set comprising the first dimension, the second dimension, and structural parameters for each of the facets. The method also may include identifying the face of which the specified edge is a part, identifying an additional edge of the identified face, and dynamically determining a second dimension for the linked edge.

"As another option, the method also may include identifying the face of which the specified edge is a part; determining that the identified face is connected to a first element of a functional element pair; identifying a face of which the linked edge is a part; classifying the face of which the linked edge is being linked to a second element of the functional element pair; and, based on the first dimension and a structural parameter for the functional element pair, determining dimensions for a set of additional edges of a face of which the linked edge is a part.

"As another option, if: (1) each of the package structural parameters comprises a shape of a parameter's corresponding facet; and (2) the rule set comprises cutting and creasing instructions, then the method may include using a package generation device to apply the rule set to impart cut lines and fold lines to a substrate to yield a package flat. The package flat may include a first package facet having a first package edge that corresponds to the identified edge such that a dimension of the first package edge corresponds to the first dimension, and a second package facet that is configured to be interconnected with the first package facet. The second package facet may comprise a second package edge that corresponds to the linked edge such that a dimension of the second package edge corresponds to the second dimension.

"In another embodiment, a method of defining a package rule set may include accessing a data storage facility having graph representations of three-dimensional packages, identifying the graph representation that represents a selected package and receiving a user selection of a first dimension for a specified edge of the selected package; accessing the selected graph representation to identify a linked edge that has a connecting relationship with the specified edge; using the first dimension to determine a second dimension for the linked edge; and creating a package generation rule set comprising the first dimension, the second dimension, and structural parameters for each of the facets.

"Optionally, the method may include identifying the face of which the specified edge is a part; identifying an additional edge of the identified face; and using the first dimension and a structural parameter for the identified face to determine a second dimension for the linked edge. The method also may include identifying the face of which the specified edge is a part; determining that the face of which the specified edge is a part is linked to first element of a functional element pair; identifying a facet of which the linked edge is a part; classifying the facet of which the linked edge is a part as being linked to a second element of the functional element pair; and using the first dimension and a structural parameter for the functional element pair to determine dimensions for a plurality of additional edges of the face of which the linked edge is a part.

"Optionally, the method may include instructing a package generation device to apply the rule set to impart a plurality of cut lines and fold lines to a substrate to yield a package flat by: (1) forming a first package facet comprising a first package edge that corresponds to the identified edge such that a dimension of the first package edge corresponds to the first dimension; and (2) forming a second package facet that is configured to be interconnected with the first package facet, the second package facet comprising a second package edge that corresponds to the linked edge such that a dimension of the second package edge corresponds to the second dimension.

"Any or all of the items listed above may be implemented by a package definition system that includes a data storage facility, a processor, and computer-readable medium containing programming instructions that, when executed, instruct the processor to perform various functions. Optionally, the system also may include a user interface and/or a package generation device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 depicts an example of faces that may make up a package.

"FIG. 2 depicts an example of a printed package flat.

"FIG. 3 illustrates examples of functional elements of a package.

"FIG. 4 illustrates a graph representation of a package.

"FIG. 5 illustrates an example of a three-dimensional package.

"FIG. 6 shows a two-dimensional package flat that corresponds to the three-dimensional package of FIG. 5.

"FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a package definition process.

"FIGS. 8A-8E illustrates various outcomes of a package scaling process.

"FIG. 9 illustrates a process of adjusting the scale of a package functional element.

"FIG. 10 illustrates a process of adjusting the number of functional elements used as the scale of a package changes.

"FIGS. 11A-11C illustrate an example of functional elements and their links being mapped to nodes and simple fold or dimension links.

"FIGS. 12A-12D illustrate various examples of interconnected elements of packages.

"FIG. 13 is a block diagram showing various equipment that may be used to implement various embodiments of the processes described in this document."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Morgana, Stephen C.; Eschbach, Reiner. Package Definition System. Filed July 31, 2012 and posted February 13, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2290&p=46&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140206.PD.&OS=PD/20140206&RS=PD/20140206

Keywords for this news article include: Xerox Corporation, Information Technology, Information and Data Storage.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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