US 2380903 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 31, 1945. D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL Filed July 14, 1941 7 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR ATTORNEY July 31, 1945. D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL '7 sheets-sheet 2 Filed July 14, 1941 302v AAy,
' INVENTOR ATTORNEY D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL July 31, 1945.
Filed July; 14, 1941 7 Sheets-Sheet 5 m BUD UD I a L 6 4 1 3 w .L w M w a m DU 3 UB 2 H z m mm mumm flow RAY,
INVENTOR BY ATTORNEY July 31, 1945. D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL Filed July 14, 1941 7 Sheets-Sheet 4 lNVENTOR ATTORNEY July 31, 1945. D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL 7 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed July 14, 1941 I HE .00 RAY,
INVENTOR ATTORNEY July 31, 1945. D. RAY
METHOD OF COMPACTING MATERIAL Filed July 14 1941 7 Sheets-Sheet 6 w M 1 4 11 m a. 1 am m N a a .00 RAY, INVENTOR BY a? ATTORNEY form are bulky.
thin for prolonsed rice, dried fruits and I with improved results.
Patented July 31, 1945 UNITED v STATES PATENT orslcs MIlTHOD F MAIERIAL I 7 Don Ray. Bev rly Hill Oaiii.
Application Jul! 14, 1941, Serial No. 402,392
This invention pertains to methods of compacting materials, particularly mobile materials, and in maintaining them in compacted condition during shipment, storage, and the like. The ln-' vention also pertains to an apparatus whereby the method may be carried out in a continuous, efllcient, facile and economical manner.
Many materials sold or distributed in packaged Many mobile materials are. subject to deterioration upon storage. The present invention is directed to a method whereby mobile or the character stated may be compacted and maintained in a fresh, staple condiperiods of time. Moreover. the method contemplates a compacting oi the mobile materials without the application of mechanical force, reliance being had upon atmospheric pressure. It also contemplates the step of controlling the compactness of the material by regulating subatmospheric pressures during the packaging operation.
The invention'is adapted for use with various materials which may .be divided, grated, plastic. shredded or flaky. Pharmaceutical preparations, crystalline materials, chopped nuts and ground products such as coiiee. as examples of granular or flnely flours. cheese, powdered milk, grated cheese maybe cited as examples of flaky, tree-flowing vided materials capable of being processed in ac-' cordance with the method of this invention. Milk and other liquids constitute other mobile matei In many instances the product to be compacted and packaged is either hygroscopic or capable of deterioration upon storage. Many of the products must be maintained out or contact with air in order to prevent tion. Some products, s ch as coffee, are capable of giving oi! gases when stored and many deleterious changes ordinarily occur in such products upon storage under the present known conditions. All of these materials may be treated in accordance with the method of the present invention processed cheese, cream Generally stated, the method ofthis invention in its continuous form comprises continuously advancing a series of containers, filling said containers, lacing the containers into movable evacnation and sealing chambers, progressively decreasing pressure below atmospheric upon the containers and their contents while in said movable chambers, hermetically sealing the containgranular, liquid, finely and finely dloxidation and deteriora- (Cl. sas -so) ers while in said chambers and while at a subatmospherlc pressure and then exposing substantially the entire outer surface of each container simultaneously to containers employed should be pliant, flexible and capable o! readily conforming to irregularities of the mobile material being treated-under the influence of atmospheric pressure. Moreover, the containers are preferably provided with pressure 1 or heat-bonding means for the purpose of assur ing the formation of a substantially gas-tight seal or joint therein. The invention also contemplates a machine whereby the method may be carried out effectively.
fore. to-disclose and provide a method of mmpacting mobile materials and in maintaining bodies of such materials in a compact state without the exercise of mechanical force.
A further object is to disclose and provide a method of packaging materials whereby a quantity of material may be maintained in a compact mass under the influence of atmospheric pressure.
Another object is to provide a continuous method of packaging materials whereby they may be maintained in suitable condition and form for prolonged periods of time without the necessity of employing expensive metallic containers and without recourse to the well known vacuum sealins Process.
A still f er object of the invention is to disclose and provide simple and effective forms of apparatus adapted to package materials in accordance with themethod herein disclosed.
Other objects of the invention will become apparent from the description given hereinafter or exemplary forms of the method and of devices for its performance. In order to facilitate understanding, reference will be had to the appended drawings, in which:
Fig. 1 is a plan view, a continuous machine method.
Fig. 2 is a side elevation of the machine,
partly atic, of for. carrying out the atmospheric pressure. The
It is an object of the present inventiomtherc- Fig. 3 is an enlarged horizontal section of a Fig. '1 is a horizontal section taken along the plane VII-VII of Fig. 5.
Fig. 8 is a side elevation of the mechanism shown in Fig. 5."
Fig. 9 is a vertical section taken along the Plane IX-IX of Fig. 5.
Fig. '10 is a vertical section taken along the plane X-X of Fig. 5.
By referring to Figs. 1. 2. 3 and 4, the general arrangement and operation of the method and machine will become evident. A continuous conveyor I is provided, said conveyor being provided with a plurality of spaced can'ier elements 2, 3, l, 5, and the like, which are pivotally attached to the continuous conveyor i by means of vertical pins 8, I, I. As best shown in Fig. 4, springs i and Ii, wound in opposite directions, each having one end attached to a pin and the other attached to a link of the conveyor I, may be provided, these springs permitting the carrier element and pin to pivot upon the chain while the springs tend to return the pin to its original position. Each carrier element may be associated with a curved door element, such as the elements indicated at if, ll, I4 and II. The
lower portions of the pins 6, 'l, l and'the like may be carried on another chain or may extend into a guideway for the purpose of maintaining the pins in a proper vertical position. This continuous conveyor I cooperates with means for supplying-preformed containers to the carrier elements, such means being generally indicated at it, and with a filling head, generally indicated at H. The container supply device may be mounted for rotation about a vertical shaft II on which are mounted the feeding devices it, 20, 2| and 22. The shaft ii may also carry a sprocket, generally indicated at 23, so that the carrier elements rotate in unison with the feeding devices. Suitable containers, such as, for example, preformed but flattened bags, may be supplied to the feeding devices is to 22 inclusive and by suitable means (not illustrated but known in the art) such bags may be deposited into the carrier elements and expanded therein so that each of the carrier elements leaving the container supply it is provided with a container in open or expanded position therein. The conveyor may then pass over the sprocket 24 to the filling device H.
The construction of the filling device may vary, depending upon the material which is to be placed in each of the containers carried by the carrier elements. In most instances, however, the filling device will include a rotatable turret 2! provided with suitable measuring or weighing placing a predeterdevices for the purpose of mined and desired amount of the material within each of the bags carried by a carrier element. The continuous conveyor may then move the carrier elements past sprockets fl and 21 into operative engagement with the compacting and sealing mechanism generally indicated at 28. After encircling the compacting and sealing mechanism 20. the continuous conveyor may pass over sprocket fl and past a discharge lone. generally indicated at ll, before returning to the container supply II in cyclic and continuous operation of the method.
The compacting and sealing mechanism 28 may comprise a stationary. vertically extending supporting column 3| carrying a vacuum chamber distributing manifold 12 which is also stationary. Rotatably mounted around the vacuum distributing manifold If is a rotatable body portion 33 .which may be supported upon the bearings N. The contacting cylindrical surface II between the manifold 32 and the body II should be smoothly machined and may include suitable gaskets to prevent loss of vacuum. The bod 33 may be provided with a large sprocket ll adapted to engage the continuous conveyor I. The body 33 also carries a plurality of chambers I8, l8, l0 and the like, provided with outwardly directed openings ll, 42, ll and the like.
The vacuum distributing manifold 12, as best shown in Fig. 3, includes an annular passageway 45 connected to the atmosphere by conduit 48. The annular passageway 45 is provided with a port 41 in communication with the surface II. The body 32 also includes a plurality of smaller chambers ll, 40, ll and the like, each of said chambers being provided with a port such as ports II, It and 53 in communication with the surface 35. The various chambers 48, ll and III are connected by conduits M, It, 56 and the like, to a source of suction or .vacuum. For purposes of example, three vacuum pumps 51, 58 and 5! are shown, these vacuum pumps being driven by motor 80. It is to be understood that the vacuum pumps are of diiferent capacities and are adapted to maintain different degrees of vacuum within the corresponding chambers. In Fig. 3, six small chambers are shown and adjoining pairs of chambers may be attached to the vacuum pumps 51, 58 and 59.
Each of the large chambers 3|, 3! and 40 carried by the rotatable body 33 is provided with a conduit in communication with the surface II at such elevation as to communicate with port 41 or the ports ll, 62 and II, depending on the relative position of the rotatable body II with respect to the stationary manifold 32.
It will thus be seen that the various chambers 30, It and 40 may either communicate with the annular passageway 48 supplied with air at atmospheric pressure, or they may progressively be connected with the chambers II. I and Ill connected with vacuum pumps 51, it and II.
Attention has been called to the ports II. If and II leading into the chambers of the rotatable body 33. These ports are adapted to be closed by the door elements II, II, it and II carried by the pins 8. I and l. The door elements may be curved and may be provided with a vgasketing material on their inner surfaces so as to positively seal the openings 4i, 2 and 43 when such doors are brought in contact with the outer sur-- face of the chambers II, II and I. In order to assure positive closure, a curved rail 82 may be provided around a portion of the periphery of the mechanism 20, this rail guiding and pressing the pins carried by the conveyor i (and the door elements associated therewith) into seating engagement around the openings leading to the chambers 3|, 3|, 4| and the like.
Attention may be called at this time to the fact that the carrier elements 2. I, I, I and the like are carried by arms I, II. II and the like, connected to the doors i2, i3. ll, II and the like, the arms being of sufllcient length so as to place the carrier elements well within the chambers 3| to ll in a predetermined position. Moreover.
' the carrier elements are preferably light weight and foraminous in character, constituting in effeet a light frame member through which the container may be readily visible.
Furthermore. the foraminous nature of the carriers subjects substantially the entire surface of the container to whatever pressure exists within the chambers 38, 38,48 and the like. It may also be noted that each of the carriers is provided with a trap bottom which may be in two sections -h-inged at the sides as indicated at 81 and 88 Each hinge pin may be provided with a downwardly extending arm, such as the arms 88 and 18. The bottom trap doors-are spring-mounted so that normally the bottom is in closedposition.
Each of the chambers 38 to 48 contains means for compacting material within the containers carried by the carriers and for sealing'such containers. In order to eliminate confusion, such means are not shown in Figs. 3 and 4 but Figs. 5 to 18 inclusive show the details of the mechanism contained in each of the chambers.
As shown in the last-mentioned figures, each of the chambers 38 to 88 of the mechanism 28 includes a framework 15 carrying a transverse shaft 18 journaled therein, this shaft being provided with a spur gear 11 and a cam 18. The spur. gear 11 is in engagement with a rack gear 18 provided with an upper cylindrical portion 88 extending through a suitable gasket 8| carried by the top of each chamber. Normally, the rack gear and its cylindrical portion are urged upwardly by means of a spring 82 against a stationary cam 83 suitably positioned above the mechanism 28 (see Figs. 2 and 4). As the mechanism 28 revovles, the upperends of the cylindrical portions 88 come in contact with the step 83' of the cam 83 so as to move the rack gear 18 downwardly and thereby impart rotation to the spur gear 11.
11 is ratchet-mounted upon the indicated at '84, so that The spur gear shaft 18 (see Fig. 8) as rotation is imparted to the pinion 11 when the rack gear 18 moves downwardly, but no rotation is imparted to the shaft 18 when the rack 18 moves upwardly.
A seal-actuating cam 85 is also mounted on the shaft 18 as well as a pinion 88 in engagement with pinion 81 mounted upon a stud shaft 88 carrying an expander cam 88. The stud shaft 88 also carries a pinion 88 in engagement with pinion "8| mounted upon stud shaft 82 which is provided with another cam 18'.
The expander cam 88 cooperates with push rod 83 slidabie in bearing block 88. Means, generally indicated at 8-5, are provided for normally maintaining the end of the push rod 83 in contact with the expander cam 88. I
As best shown in Fig. '7, the lower end of the push rod 83 is provided with a rack gear 88 in engagement with pinion 81 mounted upon stud shaft 88 which also carries pinion 88. Pinion 88 is one of a series of gears I88, IM and I82 suitably journaled or mounted upon rotatable stud shafts. The four gears 88, I88, WI and I82 constitute a gear train for the operation of expander arms I88 and I85 directly actuated by the end gears I88 and I82 of the train.
A container open at the top and resembling a bag in open position is indicated at I88, the upper portion of this container extending above the top of the carrier 2. The expander arms I88 and I85 are curved as shown, and are adapted to move outwardly and downwardly so as to engage the sides of the bag I88 and place them into the position indicated in dotted lines in Fig. 9, leaving but a narrow slit separating the lips of the bag. As shown in Figs. 5, 9 and 10 the walls of the open-ended bag I88 are vertical the member I2I, and particularly the face I88, the upper portion of the bag then attaining a wedge shape.
Cams 18 and 18' (carried by shafts 18 and 82 respectively) cooperate with push rods I88 slidably mounted in bearing lugs I88. The lower portions of the push rods I88 are provided with rack gears H8. The rounded heads of the push rods I88 are normally maintained in contact with earns 18 and 18' by means of springs III. Each of the rack gears I I8 engages a pinion I I2 mounted upon longitudinal shaft I I3. Each of the pinions II2 engages a spur gear I mounted upon shaft 8. These shafts carry folding arms H8 and H8. Folding arm II8 preferably moves slightly in advance of arm 8' into the dotted positions indicated in Fig. 5,. thereby folding the previously expanded upper end of the container or bag I88 into position for sealing. Arm II8 may be provided with a heat-resisting or heatinsulating facing I I1.
- The seal-actuating cam 85 cooperates with a cam follower I28 carried by a vertically reciprocable member I2I slidably mounted in a guiding bracket I22, the lower end of member I2I being provided with an inclined face I23. Adjacent said face is a heating element I28 supplied with electrical energy for the purpose of heating the lower end of the member I2I, and particularly the inclined face I23 thereof. After the folding arms H8 and 8' have folded the bag, the seal-actuating cam is energized and forces I23 thereof, into pressure contact against the overlapping lip portions of the bag and against the inclined face II1, so as to positively seal the bag. The member I2I is normally held in raised position under the influence of springs I25.
It will be evident, therefore, that under the influence of the push rod 88 and rack gear 18 (actuated by the stationary cam 83 and step 83' thereof), all of the mechanism within the chamber is caused to operate in precise timed relation.
After leaving the compacting and sealing mechanism 28, the arms 88 and 18 areengaged by a trip, thereby opening the hinged bottom of the carrier and permitting the treated container or bag to be ejected therefrom. These operations may take place in the zone 38 indicated in Fig. 1.
The method of operation may now be described and will be readily understood. Containers are placed within carriers by the container supply I8. The containers are supplied with material to be compacted at the filling station I1. The continuous conveyor I then carries the carriers, together with their filled containers, to the mechanism 28, inserts each of the carriers into a separate chamber, and closes the chamber by placing the door element over the opening leading to the chamber. By referring to Figs. 5 and 8, it will be noted that the bottom of each chamber is provided with side rails or guides 12 for the purpose of properly centering the carrier within the chamber. As the conveyor moves with mechanism 28, such chamber is serially connected with ports 5|, 82 and 53 of the manifold chambers 88,
v 88 and 58 so that the atmosphere ambient the brought in close proximity by the fingers I84 and container within the chamber is progressively decreased in steps to a desired low subatmospheric pressure.
It may be stated that the progressive reduction of pressure within the chambers is highly important. Many of the mobile materials which it is desired to compress are finely divided as, for example, prepared flours, and when a container filled with such finely divided and light weight material is suddenly subjected to a rapidly falling pressure, the material will boil and surge out of the container. Moreover, the containers are preferably internally coated with a thermoplastic material. In the event finely divided particles of material are caused to surge within the contain'er, manyof such particles will adhere to the outer or lip portions of the container. Differently expressed, it may be stated that the thermoplastic coating may in turn become coated with a dust or small particles of the material being processed; These small particle of material will prevent proper sealing of the container in the penultimate step of operations.
After the container has been progressively subjected to a decreasing pressure within the chamber, the push rod 80 contacts the stepped portion of cam 83, whereupon the expander arms I04 and I05 expand the upper portion of the container so as to bring the lip portions of the bag into contiguous relation. The folding arms H6 and 6' fold the upper part of the bag and place it in position for sealing, and the heating element I24 and member I2I are brought down to positively hermetically seal the container while such container is still'at the minimum subatmospheric pressure within the chamber. The folding arms H6 and M6, the expander arms I04 and I0! and the heating element then return to their original position and the chamber is brought into such position that it is placed into communication with the annular passageway 45 of the member 32. The sealed container is still within its foraminous carrier within the chamber and when atmospheric pressure is admitted to this chamber, such atmospheric pressure can act upon substantially all of the surfaces of the container simultaneously so as to contact the material within the bag. The degree of compacting is determined by the inches of vacuum within the chamber at the time the container has been sealed. If, therefore, atmospheric pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch and the pressure within the chamber at the time the container was sealed was only 0.2 pound per square inch, then the container is compacted by a force of 14.5 pounds per square inch acting upon each square inch of surface'of the container.
The admission of atmospheric pressure into the chamber permits the ready separation of the door element from the opening leading to the chamber and therefore does not interfere with the progress of the conveyor in its cyclic movement past the discharge zone 30, the bag supply. and filling stations.
The conveyor I may be driven in any suitable manner. For example, driving impulses may be supplied to the conveyor I by sprockets 21 and 29. The speed of movement of the .conveyor should be such as to assure that a container in each of the carries is subjected to progressively decreasing subatmospheric pressure for a sufficlent length of time within the chambers of the mechanism 28. Although this time element is somewhat variable due to the character of the material being compacted and the size of the container being treated, it may be stated that for packages of 8 to 18 cubic inch capacity, the total time during which the container is subjected to the decreasing subatmospheric pressure may range from about 4 seconds to 20 seconds and preferably such time should be on the order of from 10 to 16 seconds, thereby assuring a gradual and progressive decrease in pressure without disturb- .ing the contents of the container and without impairing the effectiveness of the sealing operation. In the event three stages of subatmospheric pressure are employed, the first stage may be on the order of 10 inches of mercury, the second stage on the order of 20 inches of mercury, and the last stage on the order of 28 inches of mercury.
Numerous materials may be employed in making the containers for use in a method of the character described herein. It has been found that bendable, fibrous materials such as paper coated with a thermoplastic substance (as, for example, some of the vinyl resins or the like) are well adapted for use in the method. Thermoplastic coatings can also be applied to sheets of Cellophane or other cellulose derivative and containers made therefrom are substantially transparent and thereby permit the purchaser to observe the contents of the package without opening the same.
Containers may also be made of stock made by placing two sheets of thermoplastic material in face-to-face contact and heat-bonding the two to form a single inseparable sheet, such sheet having a greater strength than the sum of the two original sheets; such combined stock is impervious to gas and vapor even though the original sheets were somewhat porous.
In some instances the carrier elements 2, 3, 4, etc. may be in the form of supporting plates upon which partially wrapped materials are placed for movement into the processing and sealing chambers. Preformed blocks of dried fruit, cheese, etc. may be thus treated in accordance with this invention.
The method of this invention is well adapted for use in packaging coffee and other materials capable of giving of! gases upon storage. A package of coffee compacted in accordance with the present invention is in effect a solid brick, the
pliable container distributing atmospheric pressure to the granular coffee contained therein and maintaining the coffee in compressed form. The generation of carbon monoxide and other gases by the coffee is inhibited by reason of the compressed state of the contents of the package. Ordinary metal cans of coffee initially have a subatmospheric pressure therein and such subatmospheric pressure in effect withdraws from the round coffee those volatile flavors which characterize this beverage. Very often a superatmospheric pressure is developed in normal metal cans of coffee and upon opening the essential oils and flavors are lost. The method of the present invention eliminates such disadvantages.
l. A method of compacting materials and maintaining them'in compacted condition without the application of mechanical force, which comprises: placing an open, pliant, flexible bag having vertical and virtually plane walls and a thermoplastic lip portion into a movable folding and sealing chamber, said bag containin a mobile material, the material of the bag being capable of readily conforming to irregularities of the mobile material when pressed thereagainst; progressively reducing the pressure of the atmosphere ambient and within said bag to a predetermined vacuum while said bag is open; then folding the upper portion of the filled bag to bring the lip portions into contiguous relation while maintainingsaid vacuum and while the chamber is moving; then hermetically sealing said lip portions together while said chamber is moving and is under vacuum; then exposing the nseoeos sealed filled bag to atmospheric pressure and removing it from the chamber to compress the bag and its contents by the differential pressure be tween the interior and exterior of said bag.
2. in a, method of packaging and simultaneously compacting mobile materials, the steps of: placing an open, pliant beg having a. thermoplastic lip portion in a, movable folding and sealing chamber, said beg being filled with a. mobile material maintaining the bag in a virtually unrestrained position while progressively reducing the pressure of the atmosphere ambient and within said bag for a controlled period of time to a. predetermined vacuum; then folding the upper portion or the filled bag to bring the lip portions into contiguous relation while said chamber is moving; then hermetically sealin said lip portions together while said chamber is at a subetmos pheric pressure; and then exposing the virtually unrestrained beg to atmospheric pressure to compress the bee and its contents and removing the bag from the moving chamber, the bag being capable of readily eoniorming to irregularities of the mobile material contained therein.