US 3031185 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
April 24, 1962 H. c. BRIEN 3,031,185
FOLDING OF CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS Filed Feb. 23, 1960 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 April 24, 1962 H. c. BRIEN 3,031,185
FOLDING OF CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS Filed Feb. 23, 1960 5 sheets sheet 2 JOE 1/02 April 24, 1962 H. c. BRIEN 3,031,185
FOLDING OF CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS Filed Feb. 23, 1960 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 April 24, 1962 H. c. BRIEN 3,031,185
FOLDING OF CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS Filed Feb. 23, 1960 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 7 April 24, 1962 H. c. BRIEN FOLDING OF CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed Feb. 23, 1960 United States 3,031,185 FOLDING F CELLULOSIC PRODUCTS Huron C. Brien, Neenah, Wis, assignor to Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Neenah, Wis, a corporation of Delaware Filed Feb. 23, 1960, Ser. No. 10,486 8 Claims. (Cl. 270-62) This invention relates to improvements in folding apparatus, and more particularly to apparatus for folding articles such as medical bandages and sanitary napkins.
A primary object of the invention is to provide an improved mechanism for the involute folding of sanitary napkins or the like preparatory to the individual packaging thereof in folded configuration.
Another object is to provide an improved folding mechanism of relatively simple design adapted for use with known sanitary napkin production and packaging apparatus.
Still another object is to provide improved apparatus for both feeding articles to be folded to the folding mechanism and removing them therefrom after being folded.
Other objects and advantages will become readily apparent to persons skilled in the art upon examination of the drawings and description, the scope of the invention being defined by the appended claims.
In the drawings, in which like parts are identified with the same reference numerals:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational View, partially in section, of apparatus incorporating the invention,
FIGURE 2 is a front elevational view, partially in section, of the device of FIGURE 1,
FIGURE 3 is a rear elevational view, also partially in section, of the device of FIGURE 1,
\FIGURE 4 is an enlarged front elevational view of the device of FIGURE 1,
FIGURES 5 through 9 illustrate sequentially various steps during the folding of a sanitary napkin by the apparatus of FIGURE 1, and
FIGURES 10 through 12 illustrate the final stage of involute folding of the napkin shown in FIGURES 5 through 9 and the deposit and final compression thereof in a well-like pocket preparatory to transfer to packaging equipment.
FIGURE 13 is a fragmentary elevational view, partially in section, showing details of the transfer mechanism also shown in FIGURE 1.
FIGURE 14 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of the device of FIG. 13.
FIGURE 1 shows improved folding mechanism adapted sequentially to receive and involutely fold sanitary napkins 10 for gravity deposit on a transfer platform 12 by an endless belt type conveyor mechanism 14-. Platform 12 provides a horizontal surface along which individual napkins 10 are sequentially fed by a transfer mechanism 16 to a folding mechanism 18. Major components are supported on a suitable framework 20. Conveyor mechanism 14 includes a known endless belt 22 intermittently moving in the arrow direction. Belt 22 has attached thereto at uniformly spaced intervals a plurality of upwardly open article receiving trays 24 for the stepby-step feeding of articles positioned transversely of belt 22 onto platform 12. As belt 22 moves into article transfer area 26 it enters an article retaining housing 28 permitting the belt and trays to move in a counter-clockwise direction onto a guide pulley 30 and into the inverted position at 26 before gravity deposit of each traypositioned sanitary napkin 1t) downwardly onto platform 12. Napkin 10 is shown dotted before gravity deposit on platform 12 and in heavy lines after deposit thereon. Following the deposit of napkin 10 in the position shown on platform 12, FIG. 1, a slidably mounted push 3,031,185 Patented Apr. 24, 1962 ice bar 32, operatively connected to a bracket 34 mounted for sliding movement along a guide rail 36, is actuated by means not shown such as a pneumatic cylinder, to move bracket 34 and push bar 32 from the full-line positions shown at the right of the figure into the dotted line positions shown at the left. The stroke of bracket 34 is determined by a depending stop member 36, shown engaging a micro-switch 38 in the right hand full-line position and shown dotted and engaging a second microswitch 40 when in the extreme left hand position. Microswitches 38' and 40 are connected in a known manner to circuitry which controls the movement of push bar 32 in synchronism with the intermittent article feeding of conveyor mechanism 14 and the folding operation cycle of mechanism 18.
As best shown in FIG. 13, push bar 32 has pivotally attached thereto at 42 an article clamping element 44 the free end of which is notched at 46 to provide a pair of spaced fingers 48 and 50 which cam down to engage and hold article 10 during movement of the push bar from a position outwardly of the retracted heavy line position shown to the dotted line position with the clamp fingers securely positioning the article on a support pro vided in the folding mechanism. A leaf spring 52 retains clamp element 44 at an upward incline as shown in FIG. 13 during retraction of push bar 32 to permit that bar, which is provided at the front end with a suitable bearing 54 and at the rear end with bearing 56, to move into abutting engagement with article 10 without interference from element 44. During continued movement of bar 32 and the engaged article 10 toward folding mechanism 18, a cam follower 58, bracket attached to element 44, is cammed downwardly along a widening portion of a fired cam 62 to cam the bifurcated free end of element 44 downwardly into pressure engagement with the upper surface of article 10. Follower 58 continues to ride along the lower surface of the widened portion of cam 62 to retain clamp element 44 in snug engagement with article 10 during and after transfer of the article to a desired position on a folding plate 64.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 4, completion of the stroke of push bar 32 positions article 10 transversely of folding plate 64 and over a centrally disposed folding and ejection throat 66 provided therein as best shown in FIG. 4. With the central portion of article 10 extending across throat 66 the article is held in snug contact with folding plate 64 by clamp fingers 48 and 50 which are retained cammed in pressure engagement therewith. Folding plate 64- is provided with a pair of well-like spaced recesses 68 and 76' in which are recessed a pair of eccentrically mounted folding blades 72 and 74, suitably mounted to a pair of intermeshed drive gears 76 and 78, FIG. 3. Gear '76 is driven by a sector gear 80 actuated in response to known control mechanism by a pneumatic cylinder 82 or the like to rotate, as shown in FIGS. 5 through 9, folding blades 72 and 74 from a recessed position flush with folding plate 64 through arcs which include the various positions shown in FIGS. 6 through 9. Involute folding of an article, as clearly shown in FIGS. 5 through 9, is effected after the positioning of napkin 10 as shown in FIG. 5, with the spaced portions of the napkin securely held against folding plate 64 outwardly of the throat thereof by clamp fingers 48 and 50. Upon completion of the transfer cycle, with push plate 32 moved from the heavy to the dotted line positions shown in FIG. 1, napkin 10 is supported both by the folding plate 64 and the folding blades 72 and 74, as shown in FIG. 4. A suitable known control mechanism then actuates cylinder 82 to rotate gears 76 and 78 and their associated folding blades 72 and 74 fromtheir horizontal FIG. 5 positions upwardly toward the position of tilt shown in FIG. 6. Since clamp fingers 48 and 50 are securely cammed into pressure engagement with napkin 10, the outermost portions of the napkin are caused to fold or bend around the outer edges of the clamp fingers to be completely folded around the clamp fingers into engagement with both the upper surfaces of the clamp fingers, with the outermost portions thereof engaging the central portion of the napkin between the fingers, as shown in FIG. 7. Thereafter, a known control mechanism is automatically actuated to cause withdrawal of bar 32 and consequent withdrawal of clamp fingers 48 and 50 from the folded portion of napkin 10 as bar 32 returns to its original full-line position, FIG. 1.
As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, folding mechanism 18 also includes a vertically positioned center folding blade 86 mounted for vertical reciprocation centrally of throat 66 by a piston housed within cylinder 88, the cylinder being bracket attached to a vertical supporting member 90 of framework 20, member 90 also providing journalling support for the actuating mechanism which drives the eccentrically mounted end folding blades 72 and 74. A guide rod 91, fixed to vertical blade 86, is slidably mounted within suitable bearings for vertical reciprocation, and carries an actuating cam 92 which reciprocates between the full-line and dotted positions shown in FIG. 1 to cam control devices 94 and 96 when blade 86 is in its two extreme positions. Control devices 94 and 96 are connected to a pneumatic or hydraulic power source in a known manner to cause blade 86 to move downwardly through throat 66 after completion of the above described end folding operation, and then to retract to an upper position of rest as shown where it remains until completion of a subsequent end folding operation. Since cam operated control mechanisms of this sort are well known in the art, details which form no part of this invention are not shown.
As shown in FIG. 4, center folding blade 86 is positioned to pass through the space between the end folding blades 72 and 74 when those blades have travelled through their respective arcs and are at rest in the positions shown dotted in FIG. 4, and in heavy lines in FIG. 8. As the center folding blade 86 moves downwardly as shown in FIGS. 5 through 9, it engages the central portion of the end folded article as shown in FIG. 8, and continues to move downwardly as shown in FIG. 9 to force that portion downwardly into throat 66 in involute configuration as shown in FIG. 10. Continued downward motion of center blade 86 forces the involutely folded article 10 through plate 64 and between the fixed bracket 98 and a slidable compression plunger 100. At the bottom of the center-blade stroke, folded article 10 is positioned as shown in FIG. 11, with the lowermost portion thereof spaced above the supporting framework to avoid damage of the article by the blade. Plunger 100 is then driven toward bracket 98 by rod 102 actuated by piston 104. The piston is energized by known means not shown during the return stroke of center-blade 86 to its retracted position above the folding plate. Following transverse compression of the involutely folded article 10 as shown in FIG. 12, piston 104 retracts rod 102 and member 100 to the position shown in FIG. 10, and as the next folding cycle starts, a push plate 106, FIG. 1, slidably mounted within guide element 36, moves to the left with push bar 32 to which it is connected, for lateral conveyance of the folded article into a pocketed transfer turret 108 for removal from the device.
Since the withdrawal of clamp element 44 from its pressure engaging position with article 10 must be done prior to the return of member 44 to its position of tilt as shown in FIG. 13, a stripper bar 110 is suitably positioned as shown in FIG. 1 to allow passage of article 10 thereunder during the feeding operation, but to constrain article 10 from being withdrawn from beneath center folding blade 86 by member 44 after the end folding thereof. Since the space between the bottom edge of stripper member 110 and platform 12 is greater than the 4 unfolded thickness of article 10 but less than the folded thickness thereof, article withdrawal is prevented by engagement between the folded article end portions and the stripper bar as the article is urged outwardly by pressure fingers 48 and 50.
During operation of the device, as above described, the intermittently operative article conveyor mechanism 14 sequentially deposits individual articles 10 transversely of platform 12 and in a position to be conveyed from the position of deposit to a position above end folding blades 72 and 74, with the article positioned under centerfolding blade 86, to be involutely folded first by blades 72 and 74 and then by blade 86 and projected downwardly during the latter phase of that operation into a holding and compression device and transversely compressed, and then conveyed by means of a transfer turret, for example, to packaging equipment forming no part of this invention.
Further modifications and adaptations of the invention will become readily apparent to persons skilled in the art without departure from the inventive concepts herein taught.
1. A folding mechanism having in combination, a fixed apertured member for the support of a foldable article, means for positioning an article on said member with the central portion thereof extending over the aperture, clamp means for holding spaced portions of the article inwardly of the ends thereof against said member, a pair of folding blades eccentrically mounted for movement from positions beneath the ends of the article and outwardly of the clamp means to positions above the clamp means to effect folding of the end portions of the article about the clamp means, means for the withdrawal of said clamp means from between the end folded portions of the article, and a center-folding blade mounted for vertical reciprocation and projection through the member aperture to effect center folding of the end folded article while forcing the article through said apertured member.
2. In a device of the character described, a rigid support having a substantially planar supporting surface provided with an aperture, means for positioning an article to be folded on said support with the central portion of the article extending over said aperture, a pair of spaced clamp fingers, cam means for maintaining said fingers in pressure engagement with said article laterally of the support aperture, a pair of folding blades mounted for movement from positions beneath end portions of said article and outwardly of the clamp fingers to positions above and inwardly of said clamp fingers to end fold said article over said fingers, means for the withdrawal of said clamp fingers from between the folded ends of said article, and a center folding blade movable from above said support to extend through said aperture, whereby to center fold said end folded article to effect an involute configuration thereof while forcing said article through the support aperture.
3. In combination, a reciprocably mounted blade-like folding element, means for the reciprocation of said element, a supporting member provided with an apertured planar surface positioned to permit said folding element to move through the aperture thereof for the center folding of a supported article, and means for end folding said article prior to center folding by said blade-like element, said end folding means comprising a pair of spaced clamp fingers operable from a position laterally of said supporting member to a position thereabove to maintain portions of said article inwardly of the ends thereof in pressure engagement with said supporting element, and a pair of end folding blades movable from positions beneath the ends of said article and outwardly of the clamp elements to positions above and inwardly of the clamp elements.
4. A folding mechanism having in combination, a fixed member for the support of a foldable article, means for positioning an article on said member, clamp means for holding spaced portions of the article inwardly of the ends thereof against said member, a pair of folding blades eccentrically mounted for movement from positions heneath the ends of the article and outwardly of the clamp means to positions above the clamp means to effect folding of end portions of the article about said clamp means, means for the withdrawal of said clamp means from between the end folded portions of the article, and means for center folding said end folded article to define an involute configuration.
5. In a folding mechanism, support means defining a folding and ejection throat for the support of a foldable article with the central portion of said article extending across the throat, means for positioning an article on said member including a pair of spaced clamp fingers, means for maintaining said fingers in clamping engagement with spaced portions of the article inwardly of the ends thereof during and after positioning said article on said member, a pair of folding blades eccentrically mounted for movement from positions beneath the ends of said article and outwardly of the clamp means to positions above the clamp means to effect folding of the end portions of said article about outer margins of the clamp fingers, means for the withdrawal of said clamp means from beneath the end portions of the folded article, and a center-folding blade mounted for reciprocal movement from a position above said member to extend through the throat defined therein, and means for moving said center-folding blade against a central portion of the end folded article and through the throat to effect involute folding of the article and projection thereof while so folded through said throat.
6. An apparatus for the involute folding of sequentially fed bandages and the like comprising in combination, a transfer platform, means for the sequential deposit of articles to be folded on said platform, an apertured folding plate associated with said platform at a position spaced from the position of article deposit, an article contacting member reciprocally operative along said platform for the transfer of articles deposited on the platform to the folding plate, clamp means associated with said article contacting member and operable during transfer of an article to the folding plate to maintain said article in clamped engagement with the folding plate through areas spaced inwardly of the ends of the article and outwardly of the folding plate aperture, a pair of folding blades associated with said folding plate, said blades being movable from positions beneath the article and outwardly of the clamp means to positions above the clamp means, said folding blades being synchronously driven simultaneously to fold the non-clamped article end portions over the clamp 6 means and in partial engagement with the article between the clamped portions thereof, means for the withdrawal of said clamp means subsequent to end folding'of the article, and a center folding blade reciprocally mounted for movement from a position above an article thus end folded to a position of engagement with the folded article intermediate the clamped portions thereof and above the folding plate aperture, and means for lowering said center folding blade into article contacting engagement and continuing said movement sufiiciently to cause said end folded article to be center folded and forced through said folding plate aperture to effect an invoulte fold thereof.
7. The apparatus of claim 6 including holding means for receiving said involutely folded article upon passage through said folding plate aperture, means associated with said folding means for compressing said article in a direction normal to its planes of fold, and means for removing said compressed article from its position beneath said folding plate aperture.
8. A device of the character described having in subcombination, a fixed folding plate provided with a pair of spaced upwardly open chambers and a throat-like passageway extending through said plate at a position intermediate said chambers, means for positioning an elongate foldable article on said folding plate with the center of the article positioned over said throat and opposite end portions of said article extending over and beyond said chambers, a pair of spaced clamp elements in pressure engagement with the upper surface of said article at positions to clamp the article to said folding plate in areas intermediate the spaced chambers and the throat, a pair of eccentrically mounted and synchronously driven end folding blades movable from positions within said chambers to rotated positions around and above said clamp elements to effect U-shaped folding of the article ends back against the upper central portion thereof, means for the withdrawal of said clamp elements upon completion of said end folding operation during positioning of said folding blades above said folding plate to maintain the folded article pressure engaged with the folding plate during withdrawal of the clamp elements, and a center folding blade operable from a position above the center of said throat to a position of projection therethrough to effect involute folding of said article and the projection thereof through said throat.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS