US 3331534 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 18, 1967 c. L. BROWN 3,331,534
ADJUSTABLE AUTOMATIC TIMING AND DISPENSIING DEVICE Filed Oct. 15, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet l INVENTOR. CURT/S L. BROWN July 18, 1967 c. L. BROWN 3,331,534
ADJUSTABLE AUTOMATIC TIMING AND DISPENSIING DEVICE Filed Oct. 15, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. CuRr/s L. BROWN JWX%% United States Patent 3,331,534 ADEUSTABLE AUTOMATIC TIIVHNG AND DISPENSING DEVICE Curtis L. Brown, 295 Stratford Drive, ()wosso, Mich, 48867 Filed Oct. 15, 1965, Ser. No. 496,296 9 Claims. (Cl. 22270) This invention relates to timing devices for actuating valves, switches, and the like and, more particularly, to a device for automatically actuating a device, such as the valve stem of an aerosol container, at regular intervals and for predetermined periods of time.
More specifically, this invention is an improvement over the invention described and claimed in my copending application, Ser. No. 361,130, filed Apr. 20, 1960, now Patent 3,228,562, for Automatic Timing and Dispensing Device. In that device, an aerosol container is automatically controlled to repeatedly actuate its dispensing valve for brief but fixed periods of time at widely spaced but constant intervals.
Although the device in my prior application is capable of simple modification to provide different periods of actuation and intervals of actuation, it must be left to the manufacturer to determine the operating characteristics. In addition, although many dimensions of aerosol containers are uniform, there are many variations in operating characteristics and tolerances which could prevent the automatic dispensing device from being used with some aerosol containers. As an example, the valve stem which must be displaced to dispense the contents of the aerosol container may require as little as ten thousandths of an inch of movement. On the other hand, the valve stem may require as much as several times that amount before dispensing is accomplished. This is a wide range for which separate devices would be required. In addition to the possibility of requiring a choice of several automatic dispensing devices, the manufacturer of aerosol containers must maintain close tolerances in order to insure that all containers operate uniformly. In the present device, however, the criticality of the operating range of the aerosol valve stem is greatly reduced.
In my former invention, the period of actuation is fixed for each dispenser device. If the period is to be made longer or shorter, an actuating element in the device must be modified or exchanged. This is suitable for manufacturers who want to limit the use of the dispenser device to their own product. However, variations in operations are not practical for the user of the dispensing device to accomplish. In my present, improved device, the user may easily select the duration of dispensing action and may vary it as desired. For example, when dispensing anticon gestants or deodorants in a room of a given size, one period of actuation may be best, but when the device is moved to a room of a different size, it may be desirable to lengthen or shorten the period to correspond to the room size.
One of the other features of my former device is a means for manually actuating the dispensing valve which may be required, for example, to determine if the aerosol container is empty. Although this is a relatively simple and eflicient arrangement, the same results can be achieved with my improved device without providing such structure and it can be eliminated to further simplify the mechanism.
It is a general object of the invention to provide an automatic dispensing device for aerosol containers in which the device may be easily adjusted to accommodate a variety of valve stem actuating ranges and valve stem heights to make the device usable with all standard varieties of aerosol containers.
Another object of the invention is to provide a dispensing device in which the period or duration of valve actuation may be selected and varied at will.
Still another object of the invention is to provide an automatic dispensing device in which the adjustment arrangement for selecting the duration of actuation also makes it possible to manually actuate the device, for example, to determine if the aerosol container has been depleted of its contents without waiting for the valve to be automatically actuated.
These and other objects are attained by the present invention, various novel features of which will be apparent from the following description and from the accompanying drawings disclosing a preferred embodiment of the invention.
FIGURE 1 is a sectional view of the combined timing and dispensing mechanism;
FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken on line 22 in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a partial sectional view similar to FIG- URE 1 but showing a dilferent operating position of the mechanism;
FIGURE 4 is a partial sectional view taken on line 44 in FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 5 is a partial sectional view taken on line 5-5 in FIGURE 3 but on an enlarged scale; and
FIGURE 6 is a view on a reduced scale showing the timing, dispen ing mechanism in position on an aerosol container.
For an understanding of the improvement, reference may be made to Patent 3,228,562 but for convenience the pertinent portions of the description are repeated to describe the basic timing and dispensing device.
Referring to the drawings, the entire dispensing and timing device 11 is adapted to be supported on top of a conventional aerosol dispenser 12 and is contained in a housing structure including a lower member 13 made of plastic material and a cap 14. The member 13 forms a base unit having upper and lower tubular portions 15 and 16 coaxial with each other and separated by an integral wall 17. The lower tubular portion 16 is of approximately the same diameter as the exterior of the aerosol container 12, and the interior presents a coaxial sleeve assembly 19 depending from the underside of wall 17. The sleeve assembly 19 will be described more fully later. For the present, it is suflicient to note that an annular flange 20 is adapted to engage the bead 21 which is formed at the top or neck of all standard aerosol containers. This engagement locates the dispensing and timing device and aids in holding it on the aerosol container.
The sleeve assembly 19 is coaxial with an opening 24 in the wall 17 and a valve operating element 25 is slidably mounted with portions within the sleeve 19 and within the opening 24. The valve operating element is provided with a cavity 26 for receiving the standard valve stem 27 of aerosol containers. The cavity 26 communicates with a flexible tube 28 which extends through an opening in sleeve 19 and an opening 29 in the lower wall 16. Upon a downward displacement of the valve operating element 25, the valve stem 27 is displaced downwardly on its axis and atomized contents of the aerosol container 12 are ejected through the flexible tube 28 to the exterior of the timing device 11. The flexible tube 28 permits full movement of the valve actuator 25 without restricting fluid flow.
The mechanism for automatically actuating the valve stem 27 at predetermined intervals is driven by means of a motor 31 mounted on a plate 32 spaced above the wall 17 and having its perimeter seated in an annular groove 33 formed within the upper tubular wall 15. The cap 14 covers the motor 31 and is provided with a flange 35 which also fits in the annular groove 33. The motor is of a type readily available and may be of a very low speed, for example, one which will deliver one revolution per minute to the output shaft 37 projecting through an opening 38 in the plate 32. A rotatable timing element 41 including a gear portion 42 is rigidly connected to the shaft 37 to rotate therewith. The teeth of the relatively small gear 42 are engaged with the teeth on a larger gear 43 which rotates on a shaft 44 fixed to the base plate 32. The larger gear 43 forms a phasing element which is free to move axially a limited amount on the shaft 44 during which time its teeth remain in engagement with the teeth on the smaller gear 42 to provide a form of spline connection. The gear 43 has a hub 46 which fits within the inner diameter of a coil spring 47. The upper surface of the wall 17 is fitted with a pad 48 of the same diameter as the hub 46 to receive the opposite end of the spring 47 which is biased between the wall 17 and gear 43 to continuously urge the latter upwardly toward the base plate 32.
The large gear 43 is provided with a pair of diametrically opposed ramp portions 51 on its upper surface. A pair of tabs 52 is similarly disposed to depend fromthe base plate 32 to engage the ramps 51 during rotation of the gear 43. The ramps 51 and complementary tabs 52 act as cams to urge the rotating gear 43 downward against the biasing action of spring 47. As the tabs 52 pass over the ends of the ramps 51, the spring 47 returns the gear 43 to its original position as shown in FIGURE 1. The pair of ramps 51 results in deflection of the large gear 43 downwardly on its shaft 44 twice during each revolution of the gear 43.
A semispherical button or phasing element 53 is rigidly fixed to the bottom of the large gear 43 and in radially spaced relation to the shaft 44 to travel in a path which passes button 53 over a button 54 formed at the top of the valve actuator 25. The button 53 comes into alignment with the valve button 54 and moves toward the latter once every revolution of the gear 43, although the latter moves axially downward under the influence of the cams 51 and 52 twice during each revolution.
The rotatable element 41 which includes the small gear 42 also is provided with a disc portion 56 which has a thin cross section and is made of a plastic material to afford axial flexibility of the outer annular portion. The outer periphery of the disc 56 is provided with an actuator element 57 which, as best seen in FIGURES 1 and 5, is wedge-shaped and formed integrally with the disc 56. The actuator element 57 travels in a circular path indicated in broken line at 58 in FIGURE 2. Path 58 is tangent to the broken-line circle 59 describing the path of the button 53. The axis of displacement of the valve stem 27, the axis of the valve actuator 25, and the point of tangency of circles 58 and 59 are in alignment with each other. The greatest vertical dimension or thickness of the actuator element 57 is such that when the valve actuator 25 is in the valve-closed, or upper position shown in FIGURE 1 and when the gear 43 is in its normal, upper position, the buttons 53 and 54 are so spaced that the actuator 57 is free to pass therebetween. The disc 56 affords sufficientflexibility so that the actuator 57 may be deflected downwardly to pass between buttons 53 and 54 without retarding rotation of the gears 42 and 43. This will be particularly apparent from a comparison of the parts in FIGURES 1 and 3. In the latter illustration, the gear 43 is shown displaced downwardly to its lowest position which requires deflection of disc portion 56 to permit actuating element 57 to pass under button 53. At the same time, button 54 is displaced downwardly to actuate valve stem 27.
In the disclosed embodiment of the invention, the small gear 42 is provided with a small number of teeth and the large gear.43 is provided with a greater number of teeth. The small gear may be rotated at a constant rate of one revolution every minute so that the large gear will require several minutes to complete a single revolution. The number of teeth may be so selected that several revolutions of the large gear are required before a given tooth on Under these conditions, if revolving of the gears 42 and a 43 is begun when the two buttons 53 and 54 and the actuating element 57 are in vertical alignment with each other, it will require many minutes before this same condition of alignment will recur. During these many minutes, the actuating element 57 will have passed over the valve button an equal number of times and the gear 43 will have been deflected downwardly many times. During most of the instances that the actuator passes over the button, it is ineffective because the gear 43 and button or phasing element 53 is spaced too far from the button 54. However, at the end of the relatively long interval, the gear 43 will have been depressed downwardly toward the valve button 54. As the wedge-shaped, actuator element 57 attempts to pass between the closely spaced and aligned buttons 53 and 54, the valve actuator 25 and stem 27 are depressed downwardly.
The operation of the basic device is explained in greater detail with examples in my previously identified Patent 3,228,562. However, the above description is believed sufficient for an understanding of the present improvement which will now be described.
Referring again to the drawings and particularly to FIG- URE l, the sleeve assembly 19 includes an annular portion 61 having threads 62 on its exterior surface which engage complementary threads 63 on the interior of an annular collar member 64. The collar member 64 includes the flange 20 which engages the top of the bead 21 on the aerosol container. The collar is provided with an annular skirt portion 66 which is stiffened by radial webs 67. The skirt 66 is adapted to be pressed on the aerosol container and to firmly grip the head 21 to hold the entire dispenser on the container.
The collar member 64 remains stationary on the aerosol container 12 and forms a support for all of the remaining structure included within the housing 13, 14. The housing and its contained structure may be rotated on the threads 62 and 63 relative to the collar 64. This serves to raise or lower the unit relative to collar 64 depending :on the direction of rotation. When the device is placed on an aerosol container so that collar 64 engages the head 21, the valve stem 27 will be received in the recess 26. Subsequent rotation of the housing 13, 14 to move in a downward direction will cause the bottom of housing wall 17 to engage a shoulder 68 on the valve actuator element 25 and also move it downwardly to first seat the end of the recess 26 on the top of the valve stem 27 and thereafter to move the valve stem downwardly to actuate the aerosol valve (not shown) to release the contents of the aerosol container. Immediately thereafter, the housing 13, 14 can be rotated in a reverse direction a suflicient distance to raise the unit until dispensing action stops. This operation affords a convenient means to manually actuate the dispenser to determine if the aerosol container has been depleted of its contents and may be accomplished whether or not the motor 31 is operating and the gears are rotating.
The rotation of the housing 13, 14 also is effective to establish the initial operating condition of the device, thereby obviating the necessity of tailoring the specific dimensions and tolerances of the dispensing device to the type of aerosol container with which it would be used. Upon placing the dispensing device on the aerosol container so that the skirt 66 grips the head 21 on the container, the housing 13, 14 may be rotated until the valve stem 27 is displaced to release the contents in the container. Subsequently, the housing 13, 14 may be rotated in a reverse direction to move upwardly to releasethe. valve stem and interrupt actuation or dispensing. The
point of rotation at which the valve stem 27 closes the aerosol valve establishes the critical relation between the automatic dispensing device 11 and the aerosol container 12, or more specifically, between the valve actuator button 54 and the button 53. This manual operation prepares the dispenser-aerosol container assembly for operation independently of variations in the vertical dimension of the valve stem 27 and its required range of vertical displacement to achieve actuation.
Rotation of the housing 13, 14 also is effective to establish the length of time that the aerosol valve will be actuated automatically. In other words, it is possible to se lectively determine whether the dispensing period will be one, two, or more seconds. This result is achieved in part by the configuration of the actuating element 75 which, as seen in FIGURE 5, is wedge-shaped. Opposing surfaces 71 and 72 of the wedge-shaped element converge toward each other in the direction of rotation of the actuating element 57; from right to left as viewed in FIG- URE 5 and in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG- URE 2. This not only facilitates entry between the buttons 53 and 54 to force them apart but also makes it possible through rotation of the housing 13, 14 to determine the length of time that the valve stem 27 will be deflected upon automatic actuation. This occurs because rotation of housing 13, 14 determines not only the initial relative position of the buttons 53 and 54, as shown in FIGURE 1, but also the spacing when the large gear has been deflected downwardly under the action of the rotating gears and the ramps 51 and tabs 52 to the position shown in FIGURE 3. The spacing in this latter position determines the points on opposite surfaces of the actuating element 57 which will first engage the buttons 53, 54 to deflect the valve stem 27. As a result, it will be noted that when the initial operating condition of the dispensing device has been established, buttons 53, 54 are closely spaced. Under these conditions the points on the surfaces 71, 72 of the actuating element which will first engage the buttons 53, 54 are located at the thinner end, or at the left of the actuating element in FIGURE 5. Furthermore, the surfaces 71, 72 will continuously remain in contact with the buttons 53, 54 to keep the aerosol valve actuated until the thicker end of the actuating element 57 disengages from the buttons 53, 54. This establishes the longest period during which the valve stem 27 will be actuated. By the same token, if the housing -13, 14 is rotated to move it upwardly from its initial condition, the points on the surfaces 71, 72 which initially contact the buttons 53, 54 will occur later and be located intermediate the thin and thick ends of the wedge so that less of the surfaces 71, 72 engage the buttons 53 and 54 as the actuating element 57 passes therebetween. This establishes a shorter period of valve actuation than the one previously described. From this it will be noted that by properly selecting the vertical position of the housing 13, 14 through its rotation, it is possible to vary that portion of the surfaces 71, 72 which will engage the buttons 53, 54, thereby determining the eifective length of the actuating element or cam 57 and the length of time that the valve stem 27 will remain deflected.
The length of the period during which dispensing action will occur may be readily calculated in advance, making it possible to provide calibrations showing the periods of actuation so that they may be readily selected.
The period of valve actuation depends on the effective length of the cam 57, the maximum length being indicated by the dimension A in FIGURE 5; the circumference of the cam wheel designated by broken line 58 in FIGURE 2; and by the speed of rotation. The period can be calculated from the following:
kepgth of CamXr.p.m. 60
Circumference of Cam Where the maximum effective length of the cam is 0.216 inch, the speed is l r.p.m. and the circumference of the cam is 4.3 inches, the maximum period of actuation will be found to be 3 seconds. This is the period of actuation when the initial operating position is deter-mined.
When the housing is rotated to cause it to move upwardly, a new and smaller effective length of the cam is established, thereby reducing the period of actuation. The amount that the maximum length of the cam i reduced is determined by the cotangent of the angle B of the cam which in the illustrated embodiment is 10 multiplied by the height that the housing has been moved upwardly. This height is /2 of the thread pitch which can be selected at 0.062 inch, multiplied by the number of revolutions of the housing.
The new cam length for each full rotation of the housing is determined by the following relationship:
maximum cam length /z thread pitchX cotangent B Where the thread pitch is 0.062 and angle B is 10, the new efiective length becomes 0.2l60.062 /2 5.67, or 0.04 inch. Substituting this in the period formula gives a new period of actuation of 0.558 second. One full revolution of the housing therefore reduces the period of actuation by 2.44 seconds, or about 0.0068 second per degree of housing rotation. From this, it is easily calculated that the period can be reduced to two seconds by rotating the housing 147 and to one second by rotating the housing 294.
With thi information, it is possible to mark the maximum period of actuation on the housing and to provide an index mark to indicate other periods of actuation as illustrated in FIGURE 1. After the dispenser unit has been placed in position on the aerosol container and the initial actuating poistion has been established as previously described, an.indicator 73 may be attached to the aerosol container 12 by adhesive or the like. Thereafter, rotation of the housing 13, 14 to place the indicated calibration mark in alignment with the indicator will result in the indicated duration of valve action during automatic operation of the dispenser.
From the foregoing, it will be observed that the timing mechanism is not only capable of automatically actuating a device such as the valve of an'aerosol container at regularly spaced intervals but also the period of time during which the valve is actuated may be infinitely varied from a minimum to a maximum simply by rotating the housing structure to a selected position relative to the aerosol container.
- It should be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to the above described forms and details, and that the invention includes such other forms and modifications as are embraced by the scope of the appended claims.
It is claimed and desired to secure by Letters Patent:
1. In a timing mechanism for actuating a device of an apparatus by displacing it periodically for predetermined periods, the combination comprising, a' support adapted to be positioned in fixed relation to said apparatus, a base unit on said support, a phasing element mounted on said base unit for periodic movement toward and away from said device, an actuating element mounted on said base unit for continuous movement at a constant rate in a path passing between said phasing element and said device, said actuating element being operative to simultaneously engage said device and said phasing element upon passing therebetween and when the latter has been displaced toward said device to displace said device, and means for selectively adjusting the position of said base unit relative to said support to determine the point at which said actuating element first engages said phasing element and device, simultaneously.
2. In a timing mechanism for actuating a device by displacing it periodically, the combination comprising, a support, a base unit mounted on said support, an operating element mounted on said base unit for sliding movement relative to said base unit and support, a phasing element supported on said base unit for reciprocating movement toward and away from the latter in a path generally 75 parallel to the path of movement of said operating element, means for reciprocating said phasing element at uniformly spaced intervals, an actuating member mounted on said base unit for uniform movement in a circular path passing between said phasing element and said operating element, means for continuously moving said actuating member at a uniform rate, said actuating member being operative to simultaneously engage said phas ing element and operating element and to displace the latter upon passing between said elements when said phasing element has been moved toward said base unit at one of said intervals, and means for selectively varying the position of said base unit relative to said support in the direction of movement of said operating element to determine the range of movement of said operating element relative to said support.
3. A timing mechanism according to claim 2 in which said actuating member has opposed surfaces for engaging said operating element and said phasing element, respectively, and in which said surfaces converge relative to each other in the direction of movement of said actuating member.
4. A timing mechanism in accordance with claim 3 in which said converging surfaces have a maximum spacing corresponding to the maximum range of reciprocal movement of said operating element.
5. A timing mechanism in accordance with claim 3 in which said converging surfaces have an effective length determining the length of time said surfaces are in engagement with said operating and phasing elements.
6. In a timing mechanism for periodically displacing a device of an apparatus, a base unit, a drive member supported on said base unit for rotation and axial movement relative thereto about an axis disposed parallel to the path of movement of the device to be displaced, means for rotating said drive member at a uniform rate, additional means responsive to rotation of said drive member for periodically moving the latter axially, a timing member connected in driving relation to said drive member, said timing member including an actuator element mounted thereon for movement in a circumferential path passing between said drive member and said device, said actuating element being operable to displace said device when said actuating element is disposed between said device and said drive member and the latter has been moved axially toward said base member, a support structure adapted for positioning in fixed relation to said ap paratus, said base unit being mounted on said support structure for selective adjustment in the direction of displacement of said device and relative to the latter to determine the amount of displacement of said device by said actuating element.
7. In a timing mechanism for automatically and periodically actuating a device, a support member adapted to be supported in fixed relation relative to said device, a base unit on said support member, an operating element mounted on said base unit for movement in a range between a first and second position relative to said support member, a phasing element supported on said base unit for periodic movement toward and away from said operating element, an actuating member movable in a path passing between said phasing element and said operating element, said actuating member having opposed cam surfaces operative to simultaneously engage said phasing element and operating element upon movement therebetween to displace the latter from said first position toward said second position, said cam surfaces converging toward each other in the direction of movement of said actuating element, means including threads on said base unit and on said support for selectively adjusting said base unit relative to said support upon relative movement therebetween to establish the initial position on said cam surfaces at which the latter simultaneously engage said phasing element and actuator, said cam surfaces having a maximum spacing determining the final position at which said cam surfaces engage said phasing element and actuator, the spacing between said initial and final positions determining the time during which said actuator is displaced from its said first position.
8. In a timing mechanism for use with an aerosol container having a depressible valve stem, a support adapted to be mounted in fixed relation on said container, a base unit, means mounting said base unit on said support for adjustment of said base unit to selected positions relative to said support in the direction of movement of said stem, an operating element slidably mounted in said base unit and being adapted to engage said stem, said actuating member being operative to pass between and simultaneously engage said phasing element and operating element to displace said stem when said phasing element has been moved toward said base unit, said base unit being moved to said selected positions to determine the spacing between said phasing element and operating element when said elements are initially and simultaneously engaged by said actuating member to determine the length of time that said stem is displaced.
9. A timing mechanism in accordance with claim 8 in which said means mounting said base unit on said support includes complementary thread portions on said support and base unit and selective rotation of the latter infinitely varies the spacing between said base unit and support.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,100,315 11/1937 Harper 222 2,100,316 11/1937 Harper 222-55 ROBERT B. REEVES, Primary Examiner HADD S. LANE, Examiner.