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Publication numberUS3011678 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 5, 1961
Filing dateJul 10, 1957
Priority dateJul 10, 1957
Publication numberUS 3011678 A, US 3011678A, US-A-3011678, US3011678 A, US3011678A
InventorsKraus Donald A, Mcclosky Robert B
Original AssigneeRoto Wrap Machine Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
High speed packaging machine for tablets or the like
US 3011678 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 5, 1961 R. B. MccLosKY ErAL 3,011,678


am@ NMI f 4M- ATTORNEYS R. B. MCcLosKY ErAL 3,011,678

Dec. 5, 1961 HIGH SPEED PACKAGING MACHINE FOR TABLETS OR THE LIKE Filed July lO, 1957 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. 2.


lll/111111 De- 5, 1951 R. B. MOcLosKY ETAL 3,011,678

HIGH SPEED PACKAGING MACHINE FOR TABLETS OR THE. LIKE Filed July 10, 1957 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTO R5 3 ,Pagkr MccLos/ry o DaY/v/iw ,4. fre/ws l i' R72 1' I ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,011,678 HIGH SPEED PACKAGING MACHINE FOR TABLETS R THE LIKE Robert B. McClosky, Montvale, and Donald A. Kraus, Beachwood, NJ., assignors to Roto Wrap Machine JCorporation, Englewood, NJ., a corporation of New ersey Filed July 10, 1957, Ser. No. 670,944 7 Claims. (Cl. 221-10) This invention relates to an improved packaging machine for tablets or the like and more particularly to a machine for wrapping and sealing small articles in packages at high speed. The term tablet is used in this application as including pills, capsules, pellets and other similar small articles, and the illustrative embodiment of this invention described herein is a machine for Warpping and sealing such tablets lindividually in striptype packages.

Among for the many advantages of the present invention are those resulting from the increased smoothness of operation, eiciency and cleanliness which are provided in handling, sorting, orienting, and feeding the tablets prior to and during their packaging. Moreover, all of these advantages are provided together with considerably increased speed of operation.

An object of this invention is to provide fasterk and more eicient tablet sorting, feeding, handling and packaging mechanisms for machines of this type.

Another object of the present invention is to provide such mechanisms which are extremely reliable and effectively jam proof and which gently and rapidly handle the tablets passing through and being packaged by the machine.

Among the further advantages of the present invention are those resulting from the fact that it provides a high speed packaging machine of the above kind which is relatively simple and inexpensive to build.

These and other features, advantages and objects will in part be understood from and in part pointed out in the description of an illustrative embodiment of the present invention given hereinafter.

In this day and age, many different substances in tablet form are packaged individually for extra protection of the tablets and for convenience. For example, many types of pharmaceutical tablets such as penicillin tablets and the like tend to deteriorate upon exposure to the air. When individually packaged they can be used as required one-at-a-time and the unused tab-lets remain fully protected from the atmosphere and also from becoming dirty as they are carried about. Also, the individual packaging of tablets and the like enables them to be carried conveniently in the users pocket without loss and to be utilized or dispersed one-at-a-time as required. In socalled strip-packages these individual tablets are wrapped and sealed together. The wrapping sheets or strips can be made of thin metallic foil, such as aluminum foil, or may be of any suitable plastic such as polyethylene tilms or polyethylene-coated cellophane or vinyl ilms, which are sealed face-to-face in any suitable Way, for example, by pressure sensitive adhesives or by heat sealing.

There are now commercially available machines which will take the tablets in bulk, unsorted quantities, arrange them in order, and then feed them individually at proper intervals to be sealed each Within its own pocket inside of the wrapping strips. However, these machines have generally operated at relatively slow speeds and with poor mechanical etliciency. Thus, there has been and is now a long-felt need for packaging machines of this type which can operate at higher speeds but which are 3,011,678 Patented Dec. 5, 1961 nonetheless gentle and extremely reliable in sorting, feeding and handling the tablets being packaged.

Among the problems encountered in working with various tablets, such as aspirin or antibiotic tables, is the fact that they tend to be easily broken or pulverized and, because of their disk shape, are hard to grasp or otherwise handle. Thus it is difficult to sort them at high speed into proper order for packaging between two Wrapping strips in the way outlined above. Previous mechanisms devised to handle such relatively fragile tablets have either been limited in speed or else have tended to crumble the tablets lbecause of rough, clumsy handling. The present invention is intended to avoid these difiiculties.

Many previously available tablet handling mechanisms, in addition to being slow in operation, were also complicated in structure and had mechanically inefficient parts. As a result, these mechanisms frequently needed repair or servicing and their useful life was undesirably short. The present invention provides tablet handling mechanisms which have minimum numbers of moving parts. These parts advantageously function with the least possible stress either to themselves or to the tablets which they are handling. Accordingly, the actions of these mechanisms are exceptionally gentle and their speed is made easily twice that of prior mechanisms for similar purposes.

For many if not most kinds of products being pocketed between two continuous layers of packaging material, it is convenient and desirable to cut the resulting strip package into short lengths. These short lengths of strip package can then be placed in a carton for sale to the consumer. This operation of cutting the strip packages into desired lengths has previously been accomplishedby shear devices much like scissors or reciprocating shears. As a practical matter because of the limitations of these prior devices the continuously produced package strip must be driven intermittently at some point along its *length so that it is stopped during a cutting stroke and is then advanced between strokes. This intermittent motion therefore places a limitation on the speed of production. The present invention in another of its aspects provides an improved cutting device not having this shortcoming.

, In accordance with one aspect of the illustrative embodiment of lthis invention there is provided a tablet sorting and handling mechanism which accepts tablets fed to it helter-skelter from a previously known bulk supply mechanism and then separates and aligns these tablets into one or more single-tile columns. From the sorting mechanism 4the tablets are fed under gravity through a stacking mechanism and thence to an escapement or intermittent feeding mechanism both of which are also provided in the illustrative embodiment of the invention. The latter mechanism delivers one or more tabletsV at each one of predetermined times to a conventional wrapping and sealing mechanism which operates continuously. p

The continuous strip of packaged tablets is then led to an improved rotary cutting device which cuts olf the continuously moving package strip While continuously moving. The operation of this overall machine can therefore be continuous and at very high speed. v

The danger of tablet jam-up inside the machine is virtually eliminated and no complicated, clumsy, reciprocating parts are used. Each tablet passing through themachine is handled with minimum force but yet the operation is entirely reliable. The force of gravity, instead of being a hindrance, is made Vto assist the operation of the machine and to the fullest extent possible is substituted for expensive and costly mechanical movements.' No mechanical parts having critical tolerances or functioning with critical exactness are required and hence the machine is inherently trouble free. Tablet feed through the machine is fast and smooth and is completely self-regulating and automatic, requiring only that sufcient tablets in bu k quantities be supplied to the machine.

A better understanding of the invention together with a fuller appreciation of its many advantages will best be gained from aV study of the following description given in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIGURE l is a perspective view of a tablet packaging machine embodying features of the invention; Y

VFIGURE 2 is a plan view of a portion of the machine, shown on enlarged scale and with some parts omitted, taken as indicated by lines 2-2 in FIGURE l as seen looking down;

FIGURES 3 and 4 are partial sectional views taken as indicated by lines 3 3 and 4--4 respectively, in FIG- URE 2;

FIGURE 5 is an enlarged perspective view of the intermittent tablet feed or escapement mechanism of the machine of FIGURE l;

FIGURE 6 is a cross sectional view o-f the mechanism in FIGURE 5, showing also the strip Sealing mechanism beneath it;

. FIGURE 7 is a plan view of the rotary cutting device of the machine;

FIGURE 8 is a partial section view of a part of the rotary cutting device taken as indicated by lines 8 8 in FIGURE 7; and

' FIGURES 9 and l0 are end views showing dierent operating positions of the cutting device inVFIGURE 7,

illustrating its manner of operation.

The packaging machine 10 seen in FIGURE l includes a storageV feed hopper, generally indicated at 12, into which' tablets in bulk quantity can be deposited for sealing into a continuous strip package. The tablets are taken 14, they fall onto a curved slide 18 `which leads into the circular well 20 of a tablet sorting and orienting feed mechanism, generally indicated at 22. This mechanism, seen alsoV in plan view in FIGURE 2, includes a horizontal disc 24 continuously rotating in the direction of arrow 26k and positioned a distance just greater than the thickness of one tablet, as seen in FIGURES 3 and 4, beneath a stationary annular cover 28.

As the tablets cascade down theslide 18 onto disc 24, they are swirled gently around byV it in the direction of arrow 26 and move toward the outer rim of the disc. FI .hey are prevented from falling off from the rim of the disc, by barriermeans in the form of a circular shoulder .t

These five parallel guide `elements actas ngers or tines' in channelizing the tablets, while the disc 24 turns somewhat faster than the motion'of the tablets in the channels 31, and so it tends by light friction against the bottom faces of the tablets continuously to urgeV them into and along the four chutes. In order to prevent any vjamming of the tablets while they are entering the channels 31, the leading .ends Y33 of the guide elements 32 are spaced apart a distance just slightly greater than the outside dimension of the tablets. Thus,` they form entrances for the channels 31 each of which is of the proper width to receive one tablet at a time as the tablets enter the channels and begin moving out tangentially from the disc 24.

As mentioned above, the disc 24 turns considerably faster than the rate at which the tablets move along the respective channels 31. These channels 31 usually remain full, and any tablets carried by the disc 24 which can not enter are cammed back in toward the center of the rotating disc. For this purpose, the ends 33 are all tapered inwardly and terminate so that they effectively rake backwardly, in progressing inwardly from one to the next, at an angle of about 35. It will be noted that the leading end 33 of an innermost guide element terminates at a point directly opposite the point where the taper on the leading end 33 of the adjacent nger 32 ends. And a similar relation holds true for the other fingers, and thus no portion of the entrance to each channel is wider than the size of a tablet. As indicated in FIGURE 2, the cover 23 may be formed of non-transparent material, and so in order to provide for visual inspection of the tablets eight long narrow slots 34 are cut in the cover above the four chutes.

By referring to FIGURE 3 it will be seen that each of the four chutes at its outer end communicates with a respective one of vfour downwardly curved stationary slides 36 whose lower ends open into the tops of four exible guide springs 38. The inside diameter ofthese springs is slightly larger than that of the tablets. Thus, the tablets can freely enter each guide spring and they can ride freely down as a stacked column within each of the springs. To insure that the tablets stack face-to-face in a more or less vertical column as guided'by the inside of each spring, the springs are mechanically vibrated near their mid-points. To this end, and as seen in FIGURE l, there is provided a vibrator arm 4i. whose outer end extends at least part way aroundV each of the springs 3S. Asa result of this vibration, the tablets will stack thern-V selves face-to-face rather than becoming lodged on their edges.V Y

As seen in FIGURE 6, each vertical column of tablets within a spring 38 rests upon a bottom-most tablet which in turn rests upon the periphery of a continuously rotating cylinder 42. This cylinder constitutes a principal part of the intermittent feeding or Y tablet 'escapement mechanism l44, seen also in FIGURESJ andS..V Cut down into the face of cylinder 42 around its axis andv aligned 4beneath the lower end of each of the springs 38 is a deep circular groove 46 and spaced along each groove are a plurality (six) ofV elongated tabletreceiving recesses 47. y These deep grooves 46 are parallel to one another, and the elongated recesses (please see FIGURE 5) extend approximately equal amounts on either side of V these grooves. The ends of the recesses 47 are shaped to conform to the perimeter of the particular tablets being fed and here areV shown rounded so as to lform oval recesses.

At the lower ends of the four guide springs isa mounting block 48 extending between them and including four holes which receive the lower ends of these springs and 'hold them in position over respective aligned openings 49 in an escapement block 50. These openings 49 form the discharge mouths for therespective guides 38.V

Y The cylinder 42 is continuously rotated in the direction of the arrow 51, and as eachV recess 47 passes beneath its associated discharge mouth 49, the respective lowerrnost ytablet drops into the recess and is carried yaround with the cylinder for Aapproximately .a quarter revolution. Since the depth of each recess 47 is just equa-l tothe thickness of the tablets, one tablet and only `one tablet will drop into a recess as it rotates past the discharge mouth. Because the cylinder 42 is rotated with considerable speed and since it takes a nite time for a tablet to drop completely down into one of the recesses, 47, they are made elongated in the direction of rotation of the cylinder. It will be appreciated that the time required for each tablet to drop into a recess is advantageously minimized by feeding the tablets face-first instead of edge-Erst.

As each tablet is picked up in a recess in cylinder 42, it is rotated along with the cylinder for a quarter turn and then hurled tangentially downward along a respective one of the four chutes 51. By virtue of the fact that the trailing end of each recess 47 is conformed to the tablet shape, each recess precisely positions the tablet at its trailing end. Thus, the individual tablets are carried along by the cylinder 42 in sequence one after another by these recesses 47 at the same speed and with the same predetermined spacing between each successive tablet. And so, their velocity and spacing as they are shot down along the respective chutes 51 is uniform and precisely predetermined by the speed of rotation imparted to the escapement cylinder 42.

In order to hold the tablets in their recesses, containment means in lthe form of a closely spaced cylindrical cover 52 follows around the perimeter of the cylinder 42 from the escapement block 50. The lower edge of this cover 52 extends tangentially away from the perimeter of the cylinder at a position 53 approximately horizontally opposite the axis of the cylinder. A stiifening bar 54 is secured along the lower edge of this cover and is fastened to a mounting frame block 55 which also supports the top ends of the feed chutes 51.

For purposes of guiding the leading edges of the accelerating tablets down under the containment cover 52, its upper 'edge adjacent the discharge mouths 49 is rounded out at 49 away from the perimeter of cylinder 42, thus forming a funneled entryway.

To ensure that each tablet is expelled from cylinder 42 at the proper instant, there are four stationary fingers 56 each pointing upward and engaged in one of the grooves 46. The top ends of these fingers are each gently curved inwardly from true tangency, and each finger reaches beneath the tabletas it shoots down and gently urges its outward from its recess 47 as the recess rotates past the tangential position 53. Thus each tablet is smoothly dislodged from its recess 47 and is shot down along one of the chutes at a predetermined high velocity and at a predetermined spacing behind the preceding tablet.

Upon entering one of the chutes 52, a tablet is led directly between two continuous wrapping layers or strips S7 which are sealed together around the tablets by the rollers 58. These rollers are of conventional construction, for example, including a plurality of uniformly spaced hollows 59 which are surrounded by mating roughened crimping surfaces 60 so as to provide a sealed area 61 around each tablet between the lay-ers 57.

There emerges from between the sealing rollers 58 a continuous strip package 62 which in many instances is desirably now cut into shorter lengths. In order to cut the strip package 62 at regularly spaced intervals along its length, there are provided two counter-rotating cutters 63 and 64, seen in FIGURE l and in FIGURES 7 through l0. The cutter 63 includes a rotatable arbor 68 on which is lixedly mounted a knife blade 70. rIhese, as seen in FIGURE 9, are adapted to be rotated clockwise with blade 70 meshing once each revolution with a blade 72 of the counter-rotating cutter 64.

These blades 70 and 72 overlap slightly as shown and as they move down to the position of FIGURE 10, blade 72 rides on top of blade 70 giving a positive shearing action to sever the strip 62 which, though not shown in FIGURES 9 and l0, normally passes downward between the cutters. To permit blade 72 to ride up on blade 70, the former is carried onl a movable sleeve 74 Iwhich is carried on the arbor 76 of cutter 64 and is spring-biased in its direction of rotation so as to press the blade 72 firmly against the blade 70. As illustrated in FIGURE S, the sleeve 74 is urged counterclockwise relative to its arbor 76 by means of a compression spring 80 whose left end presses against a pin 78 projecting from the end of the sleeve 74 and whose right end bears against a portion of a split collar 82 clamped in position on arbor 76 by a machine screw 83. The pin 78 is free to move back and forth along an arcnte slot 84 in the clamped collar 82 so as to accommodate any slight variations in the position of knife 70 relative to knife 72 as vmight occur during each revolution.

In order to initiate the high-speed shearing action at one edge of the package strip 62 and to ensure that the blade 72 rides up on blade 70 when they reach their initial engagement position as shown in FIGURE 9, the blade 72 is provided on one end (please see also FIGURE 7) with a tapered projection 86 which first contacts the opposite surface of blade 70 and then cams the rest of blade 72 up and past the top edge of blade '76, as seen in FIGURE 10to give a very eliicient cutting action.

During operation of machine 1G, the ow of tablets through it is automatic and self-regulating. This is achieved by periodically feeding the tablets down the ramp 14 onto disc 24 at a rate somewhat faster than needed to keep the disc fully covered with a single layer of tablets. After each interval in which the disc has been supplied with more than enough tablets to cover it, the mechanism 89which vibrates ramp 14 is momentarily turned off, thereby stopping the supply of tablets to the disc. During this stopped period, those tablets already deposited on disc 24 are being channeled into the vertical conveyor springs 38, and this continues until the center portion of disc 24 beneath the well 20 becomes uncovered by tablets or at most covered by'only a single layer of them. When this happens a very light-pressure switch finger 90, seen in FIGURES 2 and 4, moves down to the full line position shown in FIGURE 4. Thereupon a switch 92 is closed and the mechanism which vibrates ramp 14 is again started to resume tablet feed. The feed continues until the spring linger 90 is pushed up to the dottedline position seen in FIGURE 4 by excess of tablets entirely covering the disc '24 and then pyramiding upon it beneath the finger 90. On reaching this upper, dotted-lined position the linger 90 again opens switch 92 and stops the tablet feed for a while. To insure against false operation of the switch, a thin strip of material, for example adhesive tape, is radially placed on the surface of disc 24 at 93. This strip tends to sweep any tablets from under arm 90 when the Well is not filled with tablets.

As seen in FIGURE l, the wrapping strips 57 are wound in rolls 94 which are mounted on hubs 96 on the machine. Each roll is kept on its respective hub by a freely pivoted round weight 98 eccentrically mounted on the end of the hub and normally hanging downward as shown to retain the roll on its hub.

The above description of the invention is intended in illustration and not limitation thereof. Various changes may occur to those skilled in the art and these may be made without departing from the spirit or scope'of the invention as set forth.

We claim:

1. In a machine of the character described at least one generally vertically disposed article conveyor spring having closely spaced convolutions, means for supplying into the upper end of said spring a succession of disc-like articles slightly smaller in diameter than said spring, and means to mechanically vibrate said spring to ensure that said articles arrange themselves within said spring in a column in face-to-face relation.

2. In a machine of the character described wherein small tablets, pellets, capsules and like articles are tor be fed intermittently, a high speed escapement mechanism comprising a cylindrical member adapted to be rotated in one direction said member having positioned on its rim at least one article receiving pocket, said pocket being longer in the direction of rotation of said member than the length of the article to be received, stack means to hold a generally upwardly extending column of articles above said member with the bottom-most article in radial contact with the top of said member, the bottom edge of said stack means in the direction of rotation ofV said member being cut away whereby said articles can drop by gravity one-by-one into said recess as said member rotates in said one direction, and chute means below said stack means extending tangentially from said cylindrical member to receive said articles as they are hurled in succession downwardly from said pocket in said cylindrical member.

3. An improved mechanism for sorting and channelizing tablets, capsules and like articles, said mechanism comprising a smooth disc rotatable in a horizontal plane, at least one narrow chute having an outer end and an inner end extending across the edge of said disc on a level with it for receiving said articles in single file relation, downward guide means connected to the outer end of said chute for receiving said articles and forming a vertical stack of them in ace-to-face relation, and escapement means Yat the bottom of said guide means for dispensing said articles one-by-one, said escapement means including a cylindrical member beneath the lower end of said guide means and rotating at high speed, said cylindrical member having circumferentially extending elongated pockets for receiving the articles face-tirst therein, the lower kend of said guide means forming a funneled entryway for guiding the accelerating articles into said pockets.

4. The mechanism as in claim 3 wherein said guide means comprises a curved upper portion joined to a downwardly extending helical spring, the interior of which comprises a guideway and stacking zone for said articles.

l5. In a machine for sorting and channelizing tablets, pellets,rcapsules and likearticles feed means for supplying said articles in bulk quantities and in helter-skelter orientation, a rotatable smooth surface positioned to receive said articles near its central portion, a stationary annular cover positioned above said surface and spaced from said surface a distance just greater than the thickness .of one of said articles, said cover having an opening above the central portion of said surface defining a well for receiving the articles therein from said feed means, a plurality of parallel guide elements secured to the underside Vof said cover and projecting down closely adjacent said rotating surface dening channels therebetween extending generally tangentially with respect to the rotation of said surface, the leading ends of said guide elements being tapered inwardly and terminating along a line raked backwardly in progressing inwardly from one guide element to theA next toward said well whereby excess ones of said articles are cammed inwardly toward said Well, and a plurality of downwardly extending stationary slides communicating with the outer ends of respective ones of said channels. Y

6. The machine in claim 5 wherein said downwardly extending stationary slides comprise chutes which confine said articles in single le relation and which bend from a horizontal plane to a generally vertical plane.

7. The machine in claim 5 wherein said'feed means is adapted to supply said articles to said rotatable smooth surface in excess of the number of articles passing through said channels whereby a supply of said articles will mound up in said well, and in further combination with sensing switch means to turn ofI said feed means when a predetermined number of articles have mounded up in said well.

References Cited in the Yfile of this patent UNlTED STATES PATENTS 1,976,351 Matthiesen Oct. 9, 1934 2,083,617 Saltisberg ...a June l5, 1937 2,468,517 Saliisberg Apr. 26, 1949 2,613,861 Goerlitz Oct. 14, `1952 2,617,528 Moore Nov. 11, 1952 2,723,742 Marshall Nov. 15, 1955 Y2,747,351 Whitecar May 29, 1956 2,751,981 Hawkins June 26, 1956 2,792,922 Malhiot May 21, 1957 2,881,897 Thulke Apr. 14, 1959v FOREIGN PATENTS 58,433 Netherlands Iuney22, 1943

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U.S. Classification221/10, 221/178, 221/233, 53/555, 221/68
International ClassificationB65B35/34, B65B35/30
Cooperative ClassificationB65B35/34
European ClassificationB65B35/34