US 3039516 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
5 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed 001,- 6, 1959 INVENTOR LEROY W. VINAL ATTORNEY June 19, 1962 L. w. VINAL 3,039,516
AUTOMATIC LABELING MACHINE Filed Oct. 6, 1959 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 f I l (D "'N ,v I SI In I qr; 1; +8 L 4: '3 1?) I l I a l l l l l I L INVENTOR "A LEROY W. VINAL BY 2a ATTORNEY June 19, 1962 w. VlNAL 3,039,516
AUTOMATIC LABELING MACHINE Filed on. e, 1959 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 FIG.4
INVENTOR LEROY W. VINAL ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,039,516 AUTOMATIC LABELING MACHINE Leroy W. Vinal, Leomlnster, Mass, assignor to E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, Del., a corporation of Delaware Filed Oct. 6, 1959, Ser. No. 844,775 4 Claims. (Cl. 156361) This invention relates to devices for automatically dispensing and applying labels to objects which are advanced by a conveyor.
The apparatus of this invention represents a notable advance over prior art devices, such as the manually operated label dispensing unit described in U.S. Patent 2,276,297, issued on March 17, 1942. and U.S. Patent 2,484,880, issued on October 18, 1949, both issued to C. A. Flood. The above-mentioned patents show devices which are manually operated, and thus limited by the dexterity of the particular person using the apparatus. In the former patent, the apparatus provides a means for extending labels outwardly from the dispenser and away from the backing strip so that they may be grasped for subsequent application. The latter patent shows a heating device which adapts the machine to the use of labelshaving a thermoplastic backing which can be heated as the labels are dispensed from the unit and thereby function as the adhesive. It is obvious that such manually operated machines are necessarily limited in their application to those instances in which high production and high volume rates are not critical and in which the cost of labeling by manual means is a negligible Part of the total cost. The apparatus of the instant invention, as opposed to the above-mentioned prior art devices, allows objects to be labeled at a remarkably higher speed and with markedly reduced labor requirements.
It is an object of this invention to provide a dispensing device which is simple and economical in construction and operation, and which is efficient and reliable in its use in applying a label to each object in a series of objects being advanced by a conveyor. Another object of this invention is to provide a mechanical device which may be used in place of manual operation in labeling combs and similar articles, and which insures that each object being labeled will so have a label and that no label will be provided by the dispenser when no object is in position to be labeled. Additional objects will appear hereinafter.
The above objects are accomplished by providing an automatic labeling machine of the type described hereinbelow, which comprises a conveyor for advancing objects to be labeled, a suitable means for driving said conveyor, and a unit which senses the presence of an object being advanced by said conveyor and actuates a means for dispensing a supply of labels releasably attached to a continuous backing strip. A suitable means is provided for intermittently driving the dispensing unit and the backing strip at a speed synchronized with the speed of the conveyor. Also, a means is provided for removing one of the labels from the backing strip by pulling the backing strip over a means for sharply changing the direction of the backing strip at a point adjacent to the object in the conveyor. After the label is released from the backing strip, a roll or other suitable means is provided for applying or pressing the label to the object. A second sensing unit is also provided to determine the absence of a label on the backing strip, and to sustain the movement of the backing strip until another label is in position to be applied to the next object on the conveyor.
For the purpose of illustration, and for a more complete understanding of an embodiment of this invention, the following drawings are attached hereto and made a part of this specification, in which FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of an embodiment of this invention,
FIGURE 2 is a plan view of the same embodiment and FIGURE 3 is a simplified oblique view of the essential parts of the apparatus of this invention. FIGURE 4 is an enlarged end-view partially in section with parts removed for easier viewing. With reference to FIGURE 1, the frame 5 of the label dispensing unit is pivotally mounted to post 6, attached to the base of the machine and urged against the object 7 by a spring shown by the dotted lines at 8. For purpose of illustration, the object 7 is shown in dotted lines as a comb. A portion of the base has been removed to show the mechanism which controls the labeling device and a portion of the standard chain conveyor 19. The entire frame is guided by the Wheel 9 shown in dotted lines which is mounted on an axis parallel to the axis of post 6. The wheel 9 contacts the object 7 as the object passes through the machine. A retaining roll 10 is attached to the frame 5 at point 11. The roll 10 holds a tape 12 which comprises a backing strip 13 and labels 14. A guide 15 is attached to the frame 5 and, in this particular embodiment, an upper guide 16, which is located adjacent to the outside surface of the tape, is also provided. The guide 16 is held in contact with the tape by a flat spring pressing down on heads of studs 17 passing freely through guide mounting 18. The conveyor 19 is of the standard link chain type with cross flights, not shown on this drawing, spaced at some convenient distance, e.g., slightly greater than the length of the comb 7 being labeled. Also not shown on this drawing, but adequately set forth in FIGURE 2 as reference 2 1, are adjustable side guides which are mounted along the longitudinal axis of the conveyor and are adjustable to accommodate combs or other articles of varying width. The conveyor 19 is driven by a suitable gear motor (not shown) which is connected to a driving wheel by a standard V-belt 24,
shown in part in FIGURE 2. A gear motor having about H.P., which rotates at a speed of 43 rounds per minute, may be used to drive the apparatus. The driving wheel 25 advances the continuous chain which operates the label dispensing mechanism through gear 32 and friction clutch 32A which are not shown on this figure. The additional spokes 26 (shown in FIGURE 4) on driving wheel 25 mesh with the conveyor links 19 and continuous-1y advance same during operation of the labeling machine. Sufficient tension is maintained in chain 30 by an adjustable idler wheel 23 which is mounted on a bracket 24. The bracket is pivotally mounted on the frame at point 22. The idler wheel 23 may be pressed against the chain 30 by a spring mounting (not shown) on bracket 24. The gear 32. drives another gear 32B through friction clutch 32A. Gear 32B rotates the friction Wheel 2-9 and the idler roll 28 through a small descending gear (not shown). Although gear 32 rotates continuously, gear or ratchet wheel 31 and gear 32B rotate intermittently by virtue of a pawl 33 which engages the interlocking gear 31, in turn stopping gear 323. The pawl 33 is actuated by a solenoid 34. The current for the solenoid 34 is supplied through a suitable relay requiring about the same voltages as the solenoid to close the contacts thereof. To micro-switch 35' is supplied sulficient voltage to close the relay, and to parallel micro-switches 36 and 37 are supplied a lesser voltage which is sufiicient to supply enough current to hold the relay contacts closed, but will not close the contacts if they are open. Thus, only a signal from micro-switch 3S may close the relay contacts and energize the solenoid 34, lifting the pawl 33 and causing the wheels 28 and 2.9 to rotate. The voltage which is supplied to micro-switches 36 and 37 may hold the relay contacts closed, thus keeping the solenoid 34 energized and holding the pawl 33 out of engagement with the ratchet wheel 31. Below the bed' of the conveyor 19 is located a three-arm star wheel 38 with a set of article- 5 engaging arms 39, a set of positioning arms 46, and a set of retaining arms 41. The article-engaging arms 39 successively project into the path of travel of the comb 7, thereby rotating the star wheel 38 and causing one of the three retaining arms 4% to ride over the flexibly mounted roll 42, thereby actuating micro-switch 35, and bringing another retaining arm in contact with the flexibly mounted roll 43. This movement actuates the microswitch 35, as mentioned above, and thereafter causes the relay (not shown) to close and actuate solenoid 34. The solenoid 34 lifts pawl 33 out of engagement with gear 31, thereby allowing the driving roll 28 to pull the backing stnip 13 between itself and idler roll 2% causing a label 14 to be peeled from the backing tape at the reversing edge 44. Located adjacent to the edge 44 are a pair of wheels 45 and 46 rotatably connected to pivotally mounted arms 47 and 48 which are pivoted at points 49A and 49B respectively, and arranged to intermittently contact the respective micro-switches 36 and 3-7 which are wired in parallel. As may be seen in the drawing, the H wheels 45 and 4e are located at staggered positions on the outside surface of the tape 12 and touch the outside surface. The movement of the tape 12 will cause the wheels 45 and 46 to rotate and when a label 13 appears on the tape 12, the forward wheel 45 will be raised first and as the label continues to move the rear wheel 46 will be raised. This will cause the micro-switches 36 and 37 to open, de-energizing the relay which has been previously energized by the micro-switch 35, causing the pawl 33 to drop on the ratchet gear wheel 31 thereby stopping the movement of the tape. The wheels 45 and 46 are urged against the outside surface of the tape by a pair of springs 50 and 51. A semi-flexible cylindrical roll 52 is pivotally attached to the frame at point 3, and is urged against the objects being advanced by a spring (not shown) attached to stud 54. This semi-flexible wheel presses the label which is released at point 44 onto the object 7. When a label has been applied to the comb 7 and the conveyor 19 has advanced to a point at which the following edge of the comb 7 lies adjacent to the star wheel 38, a small finger 55 passes over the star wheel and contacts the positioning arm 40 projecting from star wheel 38. This causes the star wheel to rotate and brings an article engaging arm 3-9 into the path of the next comb. This movement of the star wheel 38 does not actuate micro-switch 35 because the retaining arm 41 does not raise roller 42, but merely slides over roller 43 which is not connected to switch 35, and thus resets the wheel 38 for another cycle of the machine. The label sensing unit and the tape guide 16 are mounted on a bracket 57 which is attached to the frame 5 by a pivot arm at 58. The bracket 57 is secured by a wing-nut 59 at point 60. Thus, the entire unit may be swung out of the way to permit easy threading of the tape over the guide and around the reversing edge 44.
FIGURE 2 is a plan view of the machine shown in FIGURE 1. A portion of the conveyor 19, the tape 12, and the solenoid 34 which operates the pawl 33' have been removed for easier viewing. As previously described hereinabove, the frame 5 is pivotally mounted on the supporting post 6 which is attached to the base of the machine. The wheel 9 which guides the entire label dispensing and applying unit along the side of a comb 7 is shown in dotted lines. The comb 7 is contained by the cross flights 20 in the conveyor 19 and the adjustable slide guides 21 along the conveyor. The driving mechanism for the conveyor and label dispenser which com prises the chain driving gear 25, the continuous chain 3%, the'continuously rotating gear 32, the tension wheel 23, its mounting bracket 23A and pivot 22', and the friction clutch 32A are also depicted. The pawl 33, which engages the ratchet wheel 31 and causes the friction clutch 32A to slip, is m'ovably attached to the frame 5 by a suitable rod and pin connection shown at 56. It may also be seen that the micro-switches 36 and 37 are mounted side by side and the pivotally mounted arms 47 and 43 are slightly off-set away from each other after passing from the pivot points 49A and 49B to enable the upper ends of the arms to contact each respective microswitch. By virtue of this off-set arrangement, the wheels which are attached to the lower ends of the arms 47 and 48 and sense the presence of a label on the backing strip may be located in close proximity to each other, while the upper ends of said arms are further apart than the wheels permitting the use of micro-switches of standard dimensions. After the labels have been peeled from the backing strip, the cylindrical roll 52, which is urged against the comb '7 in the manner described above, presses the labels onto the comb. A suitable container (not shown) is provided at the end of conveyor to receive the labeled articles discharged therefrom. Although the electrical connections between the microswitches 35, as, and 37, the relay and the solenoid 34 are not shown herein, one skilled in the art may easily construct same from the above description.
FIGURE 3 is a simplified oblique view of the label dispensing unit and the conveyor 19' to show the labeling operation. The tape roll 10' supplies the labels 14 which are attached to the backing strip 13. The guide 15 directs the strip 13 to the reversing edge 44 and there between the driving roll 28; and the idler roll 29 which serve as the means for pulling the tape over the edge 44. The label-sensing rolls 4-5 and 46 and a portion of the respective pivot arms 47 and 48 attached to each roll are shown in position above the upper surface of the backing strip. In this figure a label 14A has been peeled from the backing strip 13 and pressed onto comb 7 by the flexible roll 52. The rolls 45 and 46 have been raised by the next label 14B causing the tape to stop until the next comb arnives at the edge 44, whereupon the star wheel 38 (not shown) will actuate the movement and cause another label to be peeled from the backing strip 13.
In FIGURE 4 the micro-switches 36 and 37, a portion of the shaft connected to driving wheel 25, the pivot pin for the bracket holding the label sensing unit, and portions of the frame have been removed to permit easier viewing. The tape retaining roll 10 is mounted in line with the reversing edge 44 to further assure the smooth flow of tape over the guide 15 and the edge 44. The labels on tape 12 are omitted to give a clear view of the reversing edge 44. The arms 47 and 48 attached to the label sensing wheels 45 and 46 respectively are provided with springs 50 and 51 (shown in dotted lines) to urge the respective wheels against the tape travel ng over the guide 15. Each of these arms is provided with screws 61 and 62 respectively which may be adjusted to actuate the contacts of the micro-switches (not shown). The spring mountings and the pins in pivot points 49A and 49B are attached to the bracket 57. The article engaging arms 39' are somewehat centrally located on the shaft of the star wheel 38 between the positioning arms 49 and the retaining arms 41. The star wheel 38 is in the same position of rotation as shown in FIGURE 1. The flexibly mounted rolls 42- and 43 are urged against the retaining arms by suitable springs (not shown) attached to studs 63 and 64 respectively. The recessed portion 20A in the cross-flights 2% of the conveyor 19 permits the article engaging arms to contact the comb 7 and will not rotate the star wheel when a compartment is empty. The location of the finger which resets the star wheel may also be seen. he gear mechanism for drawing the label dispenser unit consisting of the continuously rotating gear 32, the friction clutch 32A and the intermittently rotating gear 32B is also shown. The ratchet wheel 31 is connected to the intermittent operated gear train and is controlled by the pawl 33 which intermittently engages the teeth of the ratchet wheel 31. The pawl is pivotally mounted to the frame by the rod and pin arrangement 56 and is actuated by the solenoid 34. A portion of the idler gear 23 which maintains the desired tension in the chain 30 may be seen above the driving gear 25. The V-belt 24 attached to the driving wheel 25 is also shown.
A typical cycle for the apparatus of this invention is briefly described below. As a comb is advanced it rotates the star wheel actuating micro-switch 35 and causing the backing strip to be pulled over the reversing edge at the same speed as the comb is advancing. A label, being unable to follow the backing strip, passes under the flexible roll 52 and is pressed onto the comb. Consider that the tape is in motion, micro-switch 37, being normally closed, is held closed while the label is under roll 46 and micro-switch 36, being normally open, is held open while the label is under roll 45. The solenoid remains energized until both switches are opened which occurs when another label has passed under roll 45 and the first label has passed beneath roll 46. When the solenoid is de-energized, the tape is stopped. Due to mechanical and electrical delays, the roll 46 is raised by a label, but the voltage through this switch is insuflicient to close the relay and actuate the movement of the tape.
In case a label is missing, roll 45 will remain down and the tape will continue to feed until a label deactivates both switches as described above. As shown in FIGURE 1, the star wheel has been turned by a comb and the particular engaging arm is below the bed of the conveyor so the arm will not drag over the comb. The finger 55 at the end of each compartment in the conveyor will now reset the star wheel. It should be noted that this resetting does not actuate the micro-switch, since the retaining arm raises roll 43 only. The wheel will not be reset until it has been actuated once more and the mechanism will not be actuated unless there is a comb in the preceding compartment of the conveyor.
It has been found as one of the embodiments of this invention that the speed of this apparatus may be increased, if desired, by modifying the machine as set forth below. The label sensing device, as shown in FIG- URE 1, consisting essentially of wheel 45, arm 47, micro-switch 36 and associated parts is removed, and the wiring arrangement is altered to provide a holding circuit connected to the remaining micro-switch 37 and the micro-switch 35 which is actuated by the star wheel 38. Thus, when an object such as the comb 7 contacts the article engaging arm 39 of the star wheel 38 and rotates the later wheel, micro-switch 35 closes a dual relay which actuates the label dispensing mechanism by energizing solenoid 34 which, in turn, lifts pawl 33- out of engagement with gear 31. When micro-switch 35 is opened, the dispensing mechanism continues to operate by virtue of the fact that the switch 37 actuates the holding circuit when the wheel 46 is raised from the surface of the backing strip 13 by a label 14. Voltage is supplied to switch 37 to keep the holding circuit energized, and through relay solenoid switch to energize solenoid. When a label 14 passes from beneath the wheel 46, the wheel drops to the upper surface of the backing strip 13 simultaneously deactivating the holding circuit and activating the solenoid 34 via arm 48 and switch 37 which continues the disengagement of pawl 33 and gear 31. The tape 12 will continue to feed until the next label raises wheel 46, thus deactivating the solenoid 34. Although the switch is now connected with the holding circuit, the relay holding switch is open and the tape will remain at rest until the microswitch 35 is actuated by an object rotating the star wheel 38 whereupon the above cycle is repeated.
The above description is intended to be illustrative only, and not to restrict the invention. It is believed that one skilled in the art may ascertain other means for sensing the objects being advanced and actuating the apparatus of this invention. Other means may also be 6 apparent for sensing the absence of labels on the backing strip and sustaining the movement of the backing strip until another label appears.
The advantages and uses of the instant invention are readily apparent in that this machine is not limited to manual dexterity of an operator, but rather will supply an efficient and effective labeling means at rates of speed as great as 10 to 20 times the normal rate at which these labels could be applied with a manual dispensing device as shown in the prior art set forth hereinabove.
1. A machine of the type described which comprises in combination a conveyor for advancing objects to be labeled, a means for driving said conveyor, a unit which senses the presence of an object being advanced by said conveyor and actuates a means for dispensing a tape comprising a supply of labels releasably attached to a continuous backing strip, a means for intermittently driving said dispensing unit and said backing strip at a speed synchronized with the speed of said conveyor, a means for removing one of said labels from said backing strip by pulling said backing strip over a means for sharply changing the direction of said backing strip at a point adjacent to said object in said conveyor, a means for applying said label to said object immediately after being released from said backing strip, and a second sensing unit which monitors the thickness of said tape and sustains the movement of said backing strip until the thickness of said tape increases by virtue of the presence of a label upon said backing strip when said label is in position to be applied to the next object on said conveyor.
2. A machine for attaching at least one label to each object in a continuously moving series: of objects; said machine comprising a traveling conveyor having crosspartitions and slide guides adjustable to secure an object being advanced by said conveyor, a means for driving said conveyor, a means for supplying a continuous tape comprising a backing strip to which is releasably attached a series of pressure-sensitive adhesive labels on one side thereof and a guide for leading said backing strip over a predetermined path, an edge positioned transversely to said path and located at a point adjacent to said conveyor and in close proximity to said objects whereupon said labels successively separate from said backing strip as said strip is pulled over said edge and the direction of travel of said strip is sharply changed, a device for pressing said labels thus separated onto said objects, a means for pulling said strip over said guide and said edge at a speed synchronized with said conveyor driving means, a device for sensing the absence of said labels on said backing strip near said edge by virtue of the decrease in thickness of said tape when said labels are absent therefrom and sustaining the movement of said strip until a label appears at said edge, a device for sensing the presence of said objects on said conveyor and actuating said means for drawing said backing strip over said edge and thereby applying a label onto said object.
3. The machine of claim 2 wherein the said device for sensing the absence of labels on said backing strip comprises a pair of wheels each of which are rotatably connected to a pivotably mounted arm and located at staggered positions adjacent to and touching the outside surface of the backing strip near said edge with said wheels spaced at a distance less than the length of said labels along said tape.
4. A machine for attaching at least one label to each object in a continuously moving series of objects; said machine comprising in combination a substantially horizontal traveling conveyor having cross-partitions and slide guides adjustable to secure an object being advanced by said conveyor, a means for driving said conveyor at a constant speed, a device for mounting a roll of tape; said tape having individual labels releasably attached to one side of said backing strip by a pressure sensitive adhesive, a guide providing a surface for directing said backing strip over an edge formed by said guide thereby sharply changing the direction of travel of said backing strip, said edge being substantially transverse to the direction of travel of said backing strip and located adjacent to said conveyor and in close proximity to said objects, a means for intermittently pulling said strip over said guide Whereupon said labels are successively separated from the backing strip as said strip passes over said edge, a semi-flexible roller located adjacent to said edge which contacts said object and presses the label thus removed onto said object, a finger mounted so as to press against the tape, and the guide immediately before said strip is pulled over said edge which stops the movement of said strip When a label raises said finger from the surface of said strip, and
a series of fingers located adjacent to said conveyor which alternatively contacts objects being advanced by said conveyor and thereafter actuates said means for pulling said strip over said edge.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,802,598 Petterson Aug. 13, 1957 10 2,920,780 Hauschild et al. Jan. 12, 1960 2,939,599 Schluter June 7, 1960 OTHER REFERENCES Modern Packaging, May 1958, page 163.