US 3202187 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Aug. 24, 1965 w PECHMANN 3,202,187
MEANS FOR CLEANING AND FILLING AMPOULES, BOTTLE AND SIMILAR CONTAINERS Filed June 4, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet l IN VE N TOR 4/; 4:6... PM
3,202,187 LES Aug. 24, 1965 w. PECHMANN MEANS FOR CLEANING AND FILLING AMPOULES, BOTT AND SIMILAR CONTAINERS Filed June 4, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 IN VE N TOR Vida/m PM;
United States Patent 3,202,187 MEANS FOR CLEANING AND FILLING AM- POULES, BOTTLES AND SIMILAR CONTAINERS Wilhelm Pechmann, Dierath, Germany, assignor to Firma H; Strunck & Co., Maschinenfahrilt, Cologne-Ehrenfeld, Germany, a corporation of Germany Filed June 4, 1962, Ser. No. 199,825 Claims priority, application Germany, June 8, 1961, St 17,932 5 Claims. (Cl. 141-93) The present invention relates to an apparatus for cleaning and filling ampoules, bottles and similar containers made of glass, synthetic plastic or metal. The apparatus comprises one or more vertically reciprocable filling needles or a filling tube which can be introduced into the ampoule or bottle opening. The procedure generally is that the container to be treated, for example an open-ended ampoule, is brought beneath the filling needle which is thereupon lowered and inserted into and through the open end of the ampoule stem which faces upwardly, whereupon the filling, or in certain circumstances a cleaning substance, is introduced through the needle into the ampoule. It is frequently absolutely necessary, particularly with phermaceutical compounds and similar substances, with which particularly high standards are set as regards sterility, that the portion of the ampoule not containing the filling shall remain unwetted; that is to say, the wall of the ampoule stem must not contain any traces of the filling introduced into the ampoule body. Difi'iculties frequently arise in meeting this requirement, because with the movement of the filling needle from the container after completing the filling'operation, the needle travels past the wall of the stem in its passage through the ampoule stem, thereby coming into contact with the wall and depositing traces of the filling thereon.
An attempt to obviate this possibility has been made by accurately determining the position of the ampoules or similar containers, especially at the filling station, For example, tongs have already been proposed for this purpose, the tongs gripping the ampoule stem at several points and aligning it accurately in relation to the needle. There is no doubt that this considerably reduces the danger of an undesired contact between the filling needle and the ampoule stem after the filling operation. However, even by such an arrangement there is no absolute guarantee that the filling needle can be extracted from the ampoule without contacting the wall of the stem, because the dimensions of the ampoule stern comprise certain irregularities. Even if contact of the filling needle with the inner wall of the ampoule stem were to be completely excluded, however, there would still be the danger of a wetting of the ampoule stem with arrangements of known type. After completing the filling operation; that is to say, during the removal of the needle from the container, small bubbles of the filling liquid are frequently formed at the outlet opening thereof and burst during the passage through the ampoule stem, whereby parts of the filling liquid are thrown onto the stem wall.
The wetting of the stem or neck of the filled vessel is particularly undesirable when the vessel, for example an ampoule, is sealed by fusion, because the particles of liquid disposed in the vicinity of the fusion zone are carbonised in certain circumstances because of the heat being set up in the fusing operation. This would make the ampoule completely unsuitable for use.
In order to obviate the disadvantages referred to above, according to the invention the filling needle or the filling tube is surrounded by a second tube which constitutes a casing therefor. The two tubes are displaceable relatively to one another longitudinally and the discharge 3,292,187 Patented Aug. 24, 1965 mouth of the filling tube is located inside the casing during the movement for withdrawing it from the filled container. The result thus achieved is that during such withdrawal only the dry tubular casing which has not come into contact with the filling liquid can touch the inside wall of the stem or neck and thus no wetting of the latter is possible.
In order to prevent wetting of the wall of the stem being caused by the bursting of a small bubble situated at the outlet opening of the filling tube, the arrangement may also be such that the discharge opening of the filling needle is located inside the casing on being introduced into the container to be filled. It is thus possible to dispense with specially designed holding and fixing means, which frequently are provided at the filling station in addition to the conveyor device for the container, in order, as already mentioned above, to align the ampoule stem relatively to the filling needle in such a way that contact between the wall of the ampoule stern and the needle is excluded.
The filling needle may be arranged in the tubular casing so as to leave an annular space which is connected to a suction generating device. In this way, any liquid particles which may be situated between the filling needle and casing or below the discharge opening of the filling needle in the casing, are drawn off upwardly by suction.
It has been proved to be particularly desirable to arrange the filling needle on a first holder device which is movable up and down longitudinally thereof and a second holder device being displaceable in the same direction relatively thereto, the supply pipe for the filling tube being guided through the second holder device which also carries the tubular casing. The holder device for the casing may project downwardly from the first holder device and, after a certain downward movement of the holder device, which is necessary to introduce the filling tube into the container which is to be filled, it can strike against an abutment or a similar shifting device. The connection between the suction generating device and the tubular casing is advantageously produced through a bush or sleeve. In order to prevent any liquid particles being drawn off by suction through the casing during the filling operation, the suction generating device may be connected to atmosphere with the second holder device displaced into the sleeve and without interposition of the casing.
When the previously described filling device is arranged in an apparatus for handling ampoules and like containers, in which the containers are conveyed by means of an intermittently-advancing conveyor through the different treatment stations, it is possible for a calibrating mandrel displaceable into the ampoule or bottle opening to be arranged in front of the treatment stations, the diameter of the mandrel being at least equal to the external diameter of the tubular casing and ejecting downwardly from the holder of the conveyor path any ampoules or bottles which have a neck opening which is too narrow. By this means, it is ensured that only those ampoules or similar containers which have stems or necks with sufficiently large internal diameters shall be supplied to the filling station provided with a tubular casing.
One constructional form of the invention is shown, by way of example, in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation partly in section of an apparatus for handling ampoules; and
FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 are sectional views of the filling station on an enlarged scale and in different working phases.
Referring to the drawings:
The constructional example shown in FIG. lis concerned with an apparatus with which the: ampoules 10 are supplied by means of a conveyor device 11, in which they are arranged to hang downwardly, to a plurality of treating stations 12 which are arranged in succession. The prepared ampoules, i.e., the ampoules which have, for example, been washed, dried, sterilized, treated with gas, and so on are filled at a filling station 13 and sealed at a sealing station 14. The filling station 13 and possibly also the preceding treatment stations, are formed in the manner previously described, i.e., the filling tube or the filling needle is enclosed by a second tube forming a casing, details of which are explained in connection with FIGS. 2 and 3. The arrangement is such that all needles or tubes 15 are suspended from a supporting beam 16, which is movable upwardly and downwardly in the direction of the arrows 17 and 13. The upper position of the beam 16 with the needles 15 disposed thereon is shown in FIG. 1. After the ampoules 10 have been brought by the conveyor means beneath the treatment station concerned, the beam 16 is lowered in the direction of the arrow 17, the needles being introduced into the ampoule necks 10a.
It is essential that the first station in the direction of movement (the arrow 20) of the ampoules should comprise a calibrating or gaging mandrel 21, the external diameter of which corresponds to that of the tubular casing or casings. If the ampoule stem 10a of the first ampoule in the direction of movement is too narrow in order to accommodate the tubular casing, this ampoule is forced downwardly from the conveyor means and drops by way of a chute 22 into a collecting container 23. If wires tensioned in the direction of movement and transversely thereof are provided as a conveyor means for the ampoules 10, the transversely-stretched wires being moved for example by means of driving pulleys 24 in their lower run in the direction of the arrow 20, the ejection of the ampoules from the meshes formed by the longitudinally and transversely-extending wires does not present any difiiculty, since the meshes may readily be expanded to the dimension which corresponds to the largest diameter of the ampoule stem at its upper end, i.e., at 10b. However, even when another conveyor means, for example a chain, is provided, the arrangement may readily be so devised that the calibrating mandrel can easily expel from the conveyor path any ampoules having a stern which is too narrow.
It should also be mentioned that several ampoules and obviously also the associated processing stations or filling needles and so on may be arranged adjacent to one another, i.e., perpendicular to the plane of the drawing, so that it is possible for a plurality of ampoules to be dealt with simultaneously in each station.
Details of construction of the filling device at the filling station 13 can be seen in FIGS. 2 and 3. The ampoule 10 is suspended with its stem 10a in the conveyor 11 which comprises transverse and longitudinal wires 25 and 26. A filling tube or needle 27, which is carried by a holder device 28 is introduced from above and is surrounded by a second tube or casing 29 which leaves an annular gap 30 around the needle. The casing 29 is suspended from a second holder device here shown as a sleeve 31, which is displaceable vertically in relation to the holder device 28. The complete arrangement is carried by the supporting beam 16 (FIG. 1). The arrangement may also be such that the holder device 28 is arranged directly in the beam 16.
With the parts in the relative positions as shown in FIG. 2, the beam 16 is already partly lowered and the filling tube 27 with the tubular casing 29 surrounding it is in the stem 10a of the ampoule 10. The two tubes 27 and 29 are in this case so arranged relatively to one another that the outlet opening 32 of the filling tube 27 is still inside the casing 29. On the continued lowering of'the arrangement into the positions shown in FIG. 3 the end 31a of the holder device 31 for the casing 29 abuts against a shifting device here shown as an abutment 33. On
reaching the abutment 33, the casing 29 has thus reached its lowermost position. In contrast, the beam 16 and the holder device 28 may be lowered still further, namely, by the distance or the height by which the holder device 31 projects downwardly from the beam 16 or from a bush 34 arranged in the latter, before the abutment 33 was reached. The consequence of this arrangement is, as will be seen from FIG. 3, that the filling tube 27 is displaced further in a downward direction relatively to the tubular casing 29, so that its lower end portion projects from the latter, as indicated at 35 in FIG. 3. The filling of the ampoule 10 then takes place and when this is completed, the beam 16 is again moved upwardly. At first the holder device 31 remains in its lower position on the abutment 33; that is to say, at the commencement of the upward movement of the beam 16, the filling needle 27 is moved upwardly relatively to the casing 29, and again by the aforementioned distance, until the outlet opening 32 of the filling tube 27 is again disposed in the casing 29. The upper end 34a of the bush 34 then strikes against an encircling collar 36 on the holder device 31 and carries the latter upwardly for the remaining distance covered by the beam 16. As a consequence, the filling needle 27 and the casing 29 are now moved gently upwardly again, the entire length of the filling tube 27 being inside the casing 29.
The beam 16 or the machine component which carries the holder devices 28 and 31 is formed with a bore or duct 37 which is connected to the tubular casing 29 or to the annular gap between the casing 29 and the filling needle 27 by way of an annular space 38 which is located between the holder device 28 and the inside wall of the holder device 31. A suction generating device is connected to the bore 37 and when the parts are in the positions relatively to one another as shown in FIG. 2 the device through the annular space 33 exerts a suction effect on the gap between the tubular casing and the filling needle, so that any parts of the liquid which flow out of the filling needle when the tube is being inserted into or removed from the ampoule are raised by suction. In order to prevent a suction efiect being exerted through the casing 29 during the filling operation; that is to say, when the filling needle 27 is projected downwardly from the casing 29 (FIG. 3), the suction duct'37 in the beam 16 is in communication with atmosphere from the instant when the holder device 31 strikes against the abutment 33, as indicated by the arrows 39. It is true that the passage through the annular space 33 to the casing 29 is not closed, as can be seen from FIG. 3 but on account of the substantially higher flow resistance, however, the suction effect on the casing 29 with the holder device 31 displaced upwardly is only very slight. It can be seen from the drawing that a packing 36a is arranged on the underside of the'collar 36 of the holder device 31 in order to guarantee an effective sealing of the upwardly-extending connection when the holder device 31 is in the lower position.
1. An apparatus for filling ampoules and similar openended containers, comprising conveyor means arranged to move the containers consecutively past a filling station so that the open end of each container faces upwardly; a filling device provided at said filling station and comprising a substantially vertical first tube having a lower portion arranged to admit a filling substance into consecutive containers and a second tube surrounding said first: tube; first and second holder means respectively connected with said first and second tubes; shifting means for moving one of said holder means with reference to the other thereof so that the lower portion of said first tube may be extended below andmay be withdrawn into said second tube; supporting means arranged to move said tubes upwardly and downwardly so that the tubes may be respectively inserted into and withdnawn through the open end of a container at said filling; station; and.
an ejecting device located upstream of said filling station and arranged to test the dimensions of consecutive containers and to eject from said conveyor means all such containers whose open ends are too narrow to permit entry of said second tube.
2. An apparatus for cleaning and filling ampoules, bottles and similar containers, comprising an inner filling tube displaceable substantially vertically and adapted to be introduced into the mouth of a container; an outer tube surrounding said inner filling tube, said tubes being displaceable relative to each other in longitudinal direction thereof; means for retracting said inner filling tube into said outer tube during withdrawal of said inner filling tube from a filled container and a calibrating mandrel adapted to be inserted into said container and having a diameter which is at least equal to the external diameter of said outer tube, said mandrel being arranged so as to cause ejection of all such containers whose fluid admitting openings are too narrow to receive said outer tube.
3. An apparatus for filling ampoules and similar openended containers, comprising conveyor means arranged to move the containers consecutively past a filling station so that the open end of each container faces upwardly; a filling device provided at said filling station and comprising a substantially vertical first tube having a lower portion arranged to admit a filling substance into consecutive containers and a second tube surrounding said first tube, said tubes defining between themselves a gap; first and second holder means respectively connected with said first and second tubes; shifting means for moving one of said holder means with reference to the other thereof so that the lower portion of said first tube may be extended below and may be withdrawn into said second tube; supporting means arranged to move said tubes upwardly and downwardly so that the tubes may be respectively inserted into and Withdrawn through the open end of a container at said filling station; and suction generating means communicating with said gap between said tubes to withdraw into said gap any remnants of said filler substance which might adhere to the lower portion of said first tube so that such remnants cannot reach the body of the container during upward movement of said tubes.
4. An apparatus as set forth in claim 3, wherein said supporting means defines a passage communicating with the atmosphere and arranged to communicte with said gap in response to movement of said tubes with reference to each other and in a direction to extend the lower portion of said first tube beyond the second tube.
5. An apparatus for filling ampoules and similar openended containers, comprising conveyor means arranged to move the containers consecutively past a filling station so that the open end of each container faces upwardly; a filling device provided at said filling station and comprising substantially vertical tube means having a lower portion arranged to admit a filling substance into consecutive containers; holder means connected to said tube means; shifting means for moving said holder means so that the lower portion of said tube means may be inserted into and withdrawn through the open end of a container at said filling station; and an ejecting device located upstream of said filling station and arranged to test the dimensions of the open ends of consecutive containers and to eject from said conveyor means all such containers whose open ends are too narrow to permit entry of said tube means before such containers reach said filling station.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,541,272 2/51 Murphy 141-285 2,702,962 3/55 DeFraites 141-285 XR 2,896,381 7/59 Lange 141172 XR 3,012,665 12/61 Hanot et a1. 20980= 6,056,436 /62 'Feohheimer et -al. I'M-59 3,073,358 1/63 Burt 141-59 LAVERNE D. GEIGER, Primary Examiner.