US 2855006 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 7, 1958 w. GEISLER 2,855,005
BEVERAGE CONTAINERS AND METHOD OF FILLING THE. SAME Filed Dec. 16, 1955 STEAM BEVERAGE GAS BEVERAGE 7 FIG. I
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\22 ATTORNEYS United States Patent BEVERAGE CONTAINERS AND METHOD OF FILLING THE SAME William Geisler, Tenafly, N. J., assignor, by mesne assignments, to National Phoenix Industries, Inc., Maywood, N. 1., a corporation of Delaware Application December 16, 1955, Serial No. 553,473
Claims. (Cl. 141-7) Beverages such as soft drinks and beer are packaged and sold in bottles and cans having removable crown caps and also in conventional cans which are opened by puncturing the metal at one end for the egress of the contained liquid and the ingress of air. The sterilizing, filling and closing of such containers necessarily involves several steps which must be carried out successively with the interior of the can and the contents exposed to recontamination. With the container and method of this application these several steps required for filling and closing the conventional containers which have to be performed by the manufacturer of the beverage are eliminated and instead the completed closed container is manufactured by the bottleor can-maker and is sterilized and filled at one operation at the plant of the beverage maker with no exposure of the contents or the interior of the container to possible contamination during the operation.
Our improved container may be either a can or a bottle of conventional form execept that the bottle cap or the end of the can, as the case may be, is provided with a rubber disk or plug vulcanized over and closing a hole in the metal of the cap or can end, and of a character to be self-sealing when punctured by a hollow needle.
In carrying out our method, a double hollow needle is projected through the exposed portion of the rubber disk or plug in the can top or bottle cap and steam at a sterilizing temperature and pressure is fed into the can or bottle for 'a sufiicient time to sterilize its interior, the steam passing out through one of the hollow needles which is connected to a discharge passage in the head by which the needles are carried, through a check valve to prevent ingress of air. After the can or bottle is sterilized, the steam is cut off and the beverage discharged into the can or bottle through the needle. After the can or bottle is filled the needle is withdrawn, the hole in the rubber cap sealing itself so that there is no possibility of contamination of the contents of the bottle.
In the accompanying drawings I have illustrated diagrammatically apparatus for carrying out the successive steps in the filling operation but it will be understood that in practice the steps are performed by automatic machinery equipped with a large number of filling heads such as now common practice, so that the bottles or cans can be filled as rapidly as they can be fed into and away from the machine, regardless of the rate of flow of the beverage into the containers.
Referring to the drawings:
Fig. 1 shows in cross-section a can of the character used according to my inmproved method with the filling needle inserted in the can and the needle connected to the steam supply for sterilizing;
Fig. 2 is a similar view showing the can in process of being filled with the beverage;
Fig. 3 is a sectional view showing a bottle with a cap such as above described;
Fig. 4 is a similar view of a cam having a valved closure through which the can may be filled; and
2 Fig. 5 is a diagrammtic view showing the preferred method of making the can shown in Figs. 1 and 2.
Referring to the drawings, 1 indicates a can having the rubber cap 2 vulcanized at one end of the can over an opening 3, as shown. The can to be filled is supported on a platform 4 which is elevated to push the rubber plug 3 against the double hollow needle 5 carried by the head 6 to project the double needle through the rubber plug in the can top, as shown in Fig. 1. Steam is then admitted (through the 3-way valve 7) to the longer branch of the double needle at the necessary pressure and temperature to sterilize the inside of the can, the steam passing out through the shorter branch of the needle connected to the discharge pipe or passage 9 which is closed by a check valve 10 to prevent the ingress of air. The discharge pipe 9 may be connected to a vacuum pump, through a pipe 11 to withdraw the steam from the can and thereby reduce the quantity of condensate left in the can. After the can is sterilized the 3-way valve 7 is turned to permit the liquid to flow into the can through the longer needle without withdrawing the needle from the can. If the liquid is an aerated beverage such as beer, ginger ale or the like, the filling operation is now complete and the platform will be lowered to eifect a withdrawal of the needle, the rubber plug being of a shape to be self-sealing under the internal pressure of the aerated beverage.
If the liquid is not an aerated beverage, for example, milk or fruit juice, the 3-way valve 7 is turned to allow sterile gas such as nitrogen under pressure to flow into the can to fill the can and provide sufficient internal pressure to insure a tight sealing of the rubber plug. The check valve 10 may be spring-loaded to provide the desired back pressure against the discharge of the gas.
The same sequence of operations is performed when filling a bottle fitted with the cap having an exposed selfsealing rubber portion. Such bottle is shown in section in Fig. 3. A preferred method of making bottle caps of the character described is shown and described in my co-pending application Serial No. 436,822, filed June 15, 1954.
As shown in Fig. 3, 13 is the rubber disk which is molded to the face of the metal sheet from which the cap 14 is formed. The cap 14 has a central hole overlying the self-sealing mid-portion 12 through which the needle 5 is forced for the sterilizing and filling operations. The improved method of packaging may also be employed with pressure discharge containers equipped with discharge valves such as shown in the co-pending application Serial No. 527,982, filed August 12, 1955, by James G. Groendyk and myself and also in Fig. 4 of this application. As here shown the can neck is formed with an inwardly extending, downwardly inclined flange surrounding the neck opening into which the rubber plug 15 is forced when the cap is applied to the can. The plug 15 has a valveforming flange 16 at its inner end and the plug 15 is forced into the neck far enough for this flange to seal against the edge of the flange on the neck of the can. The metal cap 17 is cut away to expose the mid-portion of the upper surface of the plug and its lower edge is spun beneath the rim of the can neck. As described in the above-mentioned application the cap is provided with a closed spout the tip of which is cut ofi when the contents of the can is to be dispensed.
As will be noted from Fig. 4, the double filling needle 5 has been pushed through the exposed rubber portion of the valved bottle cap so that the successive steps of sterilizing, filling and pressurizing can be carried out in the manner described above. When the double needle is withdrawn the cap is self-sealed and the container may be used as a dispensing container over a long period of time without the contents being subject to spoiling or contamination. The can tops may be manufactured by the same method as the bottle caps disclosed in our abovementioned application. As shown in Fig. 5, a sheet of metal 20 is punched at spaced intervals to provide holes 21 at the center of the can tops Which are to be cut from the sheet by gang punches in the usual manner. This sheet is laid on the bottom member 22 of the mold in the same manner as the sheet from which bottle caps are made, and the rubber molding compound forced by the press 23 into the molds to form the plugs closing the holes in the sheet. In forming the closing plugs in the can tops the mold members are formed with cavities registering with the punched holes in the sheet metal to provide disks of rubber vulcanized to both sides of the metal to prevent possible leakage which might otherwise be caused by the pressure of inserting the needle or the pull of withdrawing the needle during the filling operation. Except for this step of forming and attaching the rubber plugs to the sheet metal from which the can tops are cut, the manufacture of the cans is carried out in the conventional manner on conventional machines, except that both ends of the can are applied at the same time to the body portion.
The term self-sealing plastic as used in the appended claims means a compound such as rubber, wherein a puncture produced by a needle-like instrument closes when the instrument is withdrawn.
1. The method of packaging fluids which comprises providing a closed receptacle having a portion of its wall composed of a self-sealing plastic, projecting a hollow needle through said plastic portion, sterilizing the interior of said receptacle by a fluid delivered through said needle, withdrawing said sterilizing fluid through said needle while excluding the ingress of air charging the receptacle with the fluid to be packaged through said needle and withdrawing said needle.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the sterilizing fluid is steam.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein an innocuous gas under pressure is added to the receptacle before withdrawing the needle.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein a sub-atmospheric pressure is provided in said receptacle before said needle is withdrawn.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the needle used is a double needle having one branch discharging to the atmosphere through a loaded valve.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,832,321 Owens Nov. 17, 1931 1,842,969 Heyman Jan. 26, 1932 2,131,181 Kantor Sept. 27, 1938 2,338,108 Gartland Jan. 4, 1944 2,377,796 McKinnis June 5, 1945 2,516,647 Rogers et a1 July 25, 1950 2,541,272 Murphy Feb. 13, 1951 2,652,169 Brusienski Sept. 15, 1953 2,670,871 Spiess et al. Mar. 2, 1954 2,693,418 Smith Nov. 2, 1954