US 3353325 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nov. 21, 1967 H. A. JENSEN ET AL 3,353,325
PACKAGING OF FREE FLOWING MATERIALS Filed Feb. 5, 1964 a Sheets-Sheet 1 i/ A Z0 3 1NVENT0R5 Jfczrza a Jrwerz,
aydgmflibemm Nov. 21, 1967 JENSEN E TAL 3,353,325
' I PACKAGING OF FREE FLOWING MATERIALS Filed Feb. 3, 1964 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 m'v NTORS Ji /25d 6726672 Nov. 21, 1967 v JENSEN I ET AL 3,353,325
PACKAGING 0? FREE FLOWING MATERIALS Filed Feb. :5, 1964 :5 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTORS United States Patent 3,353,325 PACKAGING (BF FREE FLOWENG MATERIALS Hans A. Jensen and Augustus H. Eberman, Madison,
Wis assignors to @scar Mayer & (10., Inc, Chicago, 11]., a corporation of Illinois Filed Feb. 3, 1964, Ser. No. 342,053 7 Claims. (Cl. 53-22) The invention relates to the packaging of free flowing materials in particular, and deals with new and improved apparatus, packages, and method of packaging useful in the packaging of such materials.
It has become at least somewhat of a general practice to form hermetic packages by confining packaging materials and package contents in a package forming cavity and evacuating the interior of the cavity and package prior to final combining and sealing of the packaging materials. The practice of this type of package forming operation has basically involved the use of solid and stationary products which are not afiected by evacuation to an extent that they are displaced or disturbed within the cavity. Thus the drawing of a vacuum, such as on the order of 15 pounds, within a package forming die cavity will not cause shifting or movement of the product to an extent that proper final shaping and combining of film portions of the package will be adversely affected. In practicing this packaging procedure, it is becoming conventional to vacuum hold separate portions of packaging material, such as a base member or substrate and covering film portion, in separated non-sealing relation during evacuation of the area immediately surrounding the product. Following appropriate evacuation, one or more of the separate packaging materials is subjected to atmospheric pressure to provide for virtually instantaneous material contact in final package sealing relation.
The foregoing procedure effectively forms an evacuated hermetic package and permits utilization of automatic equipment in an elficient manner. However, the rather drastic pressure differential and pressure variation condi tions relied upon for purposes of obtaining adequate package evacuation under high speed package forming operations relied upon for purposes of obtaining adequate packaging of relatively free flowing materials such as powdery or granular materials, liquids or semi-liquids. To date the precautions proposed for the purpose of maintaining proper confinement of such materials against displacement are too extensive and demanding to permit economical, high speed package formation.
It is an object or" the invention to provide a new and improved method of packaging free flowing materials under hermetic conditions. 7
A further object is to provide new and improved apparatus for use in the packaging of free flowing materials under hermetic conditions.
Still a further object is to provide a new and improved hermetic package containing a free flowing product therein, the package forming a part of a unique container arrangement enclosing the package in protective and sup porting relation.
Other objects not specifically set forth will become ap parent from the following detailed description of the in Vention made in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a composite view of apparatus and packaging materials of the invention arranged in exploded relation to better illustrate the same, certain portions of the apparatus being illustrated in vertical section;
FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic illustration of product insertion in packaging material contained in the cavity die member of the apparatus of FIG. 1;
3,353,325 Patented Nov. 21, 1967 FIG. 3 is a plan view of the cavity die member as viewed generally along line 33 in FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a vertical section of the apparatus of PEG. 1 in combined operative relation during the package forming operation;
FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4 illustrating completion of the package forming operation;
FIG. 6 is a composite view of suitable package trimming means illustrated in operative relation prior to package trimming;
FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the combined apparatus of FIG, 6;
FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the package of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a perspective of the package;
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective in vertical section illustrating a container constituting a part of the invention and including as a part thereof a plurality of packages of the invention;
FIG. 11 is a composite exploded elevation of modified package forming apparatus and packaging material components illustrating at least a portion of the apparatus and components in section;
FIG. 12 is a vertical section of the combined package forming elements of FIG. 11 illustrating use thereof during the package forming operation; and
FIG. 13 is a view'sirnilar to FIG. 12 illustrating final package forming operation of the apparatus.
A basic principle of the invention resides in the appropriate spacing of separate package forming materials in package shaping and evacuation confined relation with at least one of the package forming materials being advanced toward the other during package evacuation to relieve and control the elTect of such evacuation on relatively free flowing contents carried by one of the package forming materials. In this connection the invention deals with a method of packaging relatively free flowing materials under hermetic evacuation conditions and apparatus capable of carrying out the method in an eiiicient manner. Still further, in connection with the particular method and apparatus used, the invention deals with a special type of package particularly adapted for use in the hermetic sealing of relatively free flowing materials and means by which a plurality of such packages are combined and protectively confined for shipping and/or merchandising. While the various aspects of the invention will be described in connection with the packaging of whole eggs, it will be understood that the principles of the invention are equally applicable to any relatively free flowing substance including powdery and granular materials as Well as liquids and semi-liquids.
The apparatus of FIG. 1 comprises basically a bottom die member 20 provided with an upwardly opening, gen erally cup-shaped package forming cavity 21 which in the form illustrated is semi-hemispherical. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the die member 20 include a top flat sealing face 22 surrounding the cavity 21, a transverse passageway 23 extending inwardly in the lower portion of the die member from a projecting fitting portion 24 and in communication with vertically extending vacuum .ports 25 in communication with the cavity 21 and appropriately distributed along the surface of the cavity. The fitting portion 24 is adapted for connection with vacuum impressing means of any suitable type.
FIG. 1 illustrates a sealing cylinder 26 of tubular shape and including along the bottom surface thereof a continuous resilient gasket 27 suitably attached thereto. A projecting fitting portion 28 extends from the outer surface of the cylinder 26 in communication with a vacuum port 29 extending diagonally inwardly into communication with the interior of the cylinder immediately above the adjacent inner margin of the gasket 27. The fitting portion 28 is also adapted for connection with vacuum impressing means of any suitable type. The apparatus is basically completed by the provision of a vertically movable piston 30 provided adjacent the lower fiat face thereof with an annular groove 31 in which a continuous O-ring gasket 32 is received in outwardly projecting relation.
Use of the apparatus of FIG. 1 involves the combining of a packaging fil'm segment 33 with the die member 29 in top face overlying relation. The film segment 33 may be of any suitable formable material and is appropriately sealed to the top face 22 of the die member and stretched downwardly into the cavity 21 as shown in FIG. 2. In order to seal the film segment to the face 22 of the die member 20, the cylinder 26 may be combined with the die member, the gasket 27 being aligned with the face 22 and pressing the marginal portion of the film 33 against the face 22 in sealed relation therewith. The passageway 23 and ports are evacuated accompanied by evacuation of the cavity 21 and the central portion of the film segment 33 is drawn downwardly into the cavity. The vacuum is maintained to hold the film segment in the cavity.
A cup-like portion 34 of semi-hemispherical shape is thus formed in one of the package forming materials of the package. A relatively free flowing product, such as the whole egg 35 illustrated in FIG. 2 and including the yolk 3 6, is then introduced into the portion 34 of the package. FIG. 2 diagrammatically illustrates the breaking of the egg shell 37 directly over a funnel member 38 with the liquid egg material flowing downwardly to substantially fill the package portion 34. Preferably the dimensions of the package portion 34 and/or the amount of product introduced thereinto is controlled to maintain a product level well below the peripheral flange area of the film segment 33 as shown in FIG. 4.
FIG. 4 illustrates the combining of the various elements of the apparatus of FIG. 1 during package forming operation. The cylinder 26 is placed in sealed engagement with the die member 29 with the gasket 27 thereof engaging the marginal flange portion of the film segment 33 and pressing the same in sealed relation against the face 22 of the die member 29. The elements of the apparatus are dimensioned to provide for a free inner marginal flange portion 39 adapted for sealing engagement with a package base member 40 which, in the form illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 4, is a circular disc of suitable packaging material. The base member 40 is received in the cylinder 26 and the top surface of the base member is in engagement with the bottom face of the piston 30. The piston is slidably received in the cylinder 26 with the O-ring 32 in frictional sealing engagement with the inner surface of the cylinder 26. The O-ring establishes suflicient friction to hold the weight of the piston 30 in the cylinder 26 and suitable pressure is applied to the top face of the piston to move the same downwardly toward the die member 20. Such pressure may be applied by use of known types of presses with the entire assembled elements being confined in a press or the like if desired.
During downward movement of the piston 30 with the base member 40 in engagement therewith, the interior of the cylinder 26 as well as thefree .air space directly above the product is evacuated through the port 29. Thus the pressure in the air space directly in association with the free flowing product 35 is continuously reduced while the piston is moving downwardly, this pressure reduction being accompanied by a steady reduction in air space volume. The base member is preferably stiff enough to frictionally engage the inner surface of the cylinder 26 to prevent it falling downwardly into closing engagement across the package portion 34. However, means may be provided in the piston to hold the base member 40 against the bottom face thereof as will be described in connection with the modification of FIGS.
11-13. In this respect then the base member 40 may be a flexible film providing suitable means are present to hold the film against the bottom face of the piston during the package evacuation portion of the operation.
The stage of the operation shown in FIG. 4 is immediately prior to final package sealing as shown in FIG. 5. This stage of the operation is quite critical as the full extent of evacuation has at least virtually occurred. Providing for the decreasing air space volume during evacuation, the full negative pressure applied is accommodated without displacement or disturbance of the product 35. It will be borne in mind that package evacuation and closing occurs rapidly and the piston 39 is moved downwardly through the cylinder at a rapid rate to force the base member 40 into sealed engagement with the package portion 34 as shown in FIG. 5. Evacuation may not occur until the piston is in the position shown in FIG. 4 is desired. The product is not subjected to prolonged evacuation to disturb the same and final evacuation occurs quickly and effectively as the package is sealed. Final ealing is brought about by bottoming of the piston 36 with the periphery of the base member 49 engaging the flange portion 39 of the package portion 34 and accompanied by release of the vacuum in the passageway 23 and the ports 25. Inherent resiliency in the stressed film segment 33 will esult in at least some light contraction thereof to provide the final shape of the package as shown in FIG. 5. This is one reason for avoiding complete filling of the portion 34 of the package.
Package sealing can be brought about through any suitable means such as by the combining of heat scalable materials or use of an annular coating of adhesive 41 carried on the base member 4% for engagement with the flange portion 39 of the package portion 34. The piston 30 provides the requisite sealing pressure to establish a hermetic seal thus forming a fully evacuated package. The material of the base member 4% may be of any known type and, as previously described, may be a relatively stiff paperboard material suitably coated with impermeable plastic material such as polyvinyl chloride to maintain a hermetic package. The film portion 33 may be of any suitable heat stretchable material, such as polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride, or may be supercooled polyvinylidene chloride film which will readily stretch and seal with an adhesive interface while in the amorphous supercooled condition.
FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate a package trimming arrangement involving a package support 42 functioning as a female die member and a trimmer block 43 functioning as a male die member. The member 42 includes a top face portion 44 across which the margin of the film portion 33 is received, the package portion 34 being centrally received in the support 42. The interior of the support 42 is of conical shape and includes a longitudinal groove 45 extending therealong.
The block 43 is circular and along a side portion includes an outwardly projecting arcuate boss 46 diamensioned to be received in the groove 45 of the support 42. The bottom edge of the block 43 is relatively sharp and is moved downwardly to shear the flange portion of the package adjacent the inner edge of the annular support 42 thereby trimming the package peripherally into the shape illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9. The combining of the boss 46 in the groove 45 provides a tear tab 47 for the package which constitutes a continuation of the flange portion 39 of the film segment 33. In this manner the tab 47 can be grasped to separate the film from the base member 40 for access into the package. Any suitable means may be used to support and hold the package on the trimmer support 42 during the trimming operation as illustrated in FIG. 6.
FIG. 10 illustrates a container 48 including a plurality of the packages previously described. The container includes a pair of relatively rigid, mutually inverted channel-like portions 49 of cardboard or the like each having transverse panel sections joined with vertical panel sections at .opposite ends thereof. The free edges of the vertical panel sections each include radially inwardly extending package attachment flanges 50 which receive therebetween the flange portions 39 of a pair of packages placed in mutually inverted bottom surface engagement. The flat base members 40 of the packages accommodate the flat face overlying relation or stacking of the same thus permitting fixed engagement of a pair of such packages in a supporting and protective container of the type illustrated. Adhesives or other suitable engaging means may be used to fix the flange portions 3? of the packages to the attachment flanges 50 of the container sections. Any number of pairs of packages may extend in succession along the container sections 49 and in this respect a dozen fresh whole eggs can be packaged for merchandising in the same manner as fresh shell eggs are currently merchandised. However, the hermetic packaging of the whole eggs maintains the freshness thereof for an extended period permitting shipment over greater distances as well as merchandising display or storage for greater periods or" time.
FIG. 11 illustrates modified apparatus for forming the type of package described. The apparatus includes a supporting die member Stl including a semi-hemispherical cavity 51 opening upwardly into communication with a peripherally continuous recessed shoulder 52 which in turn communicates with a flat annular top sealing surface 53, A vacuum passage 54 extends transversely in the bottom portion of the die member 50 and communicates with the cavity 51 through a plurality of ports 55. An evacuation port 56 extends from the passageway 54 into communication with the outer periphery of a recessed shoulder portion 52.
The die member 50 is adapted to receive a relatively rigid, pre-formed plastic cup 57 of semi-hemispherical shape including a continuous peripheral flange portion 58 which is received in the recessed shoulder 52 immediately inwardly of the evacuation port 56 (FIG. 12). A formable film portion 59 is arranged to be received over the top surface of the die member 50 and clamped thereto by a cylinder 60 including along the bottom surface thereof a recessed O-ring 61 arranged for compressive sealing with the top face 53 of the die member. A piston 62 is adapted to be received in the cylinder 60 and includes an O-ring 63 for sliding sealing engagement with the inner wall of the cylinder 60, a bottom surface resilient gasket 64 preferably completely covering the same and suitably bonded to the piston, and a vertically internally extending evacuating passage 65 in communication with the outer surface of the gasket 64 through a central aperture 66 therein. The passage 65 extends to the top surface of the piston 62 and through a suitable piston rod portion 67 which extends upwardly to any suitable extent for attachment with means capable of reciprocating the piston within the cylinder 60. The passage 65 is attached to suitable evacuation equipment similarly to the passage 54 of the die member 50.
Combining of the element described as shown in FIG. 12 results in the sealing of the extreme marginal portion of the film 59 between the cylinder 60 and the die member 50. The piston 62 is moved downwardly into close association with the film 59 and a vacuum is drawn through the passage 65 to hold the central portion of the film 59 against the outer surface of the gasket 64. This holding action prevents contact between the portion of the film immediately overlying the flange portion 58 of the cup 57. The egg product 35 received in the cup 57 in the same manner as described in connection with FIG. 2 is sufiicient to maintain the cup 57 seated in the cavity 51, bearing in mind that no disturbing forces have been asserted to either the product or cup. For package forming and evacuation, the passage 54 of the die member 59 is then evacuated resulting in establishing a vacuum in the ports 55 in communication with the cup 57 to hold the 6 same properly seated in the cavity. Evacuation also occurs in the port 56 with this port being in communication with the air space above the product in the cup 57 by reason of the spacing of the film from the top surface of the flange portion 58. Continued downward movement of the piston 62 results in final closing of the package simultaneous with completed evacuation thereof. This final closing is accompanied by releasing of the vacuum in the passage 56 and releasing of the film 59 resulting in a slight drawing in of the central portion of the film caused by the differential pressure existing between the interior of the package and atmospheric pressure supplied to the outer surface of the film through the passage 65.
Any suitable packaging materials may be used in conjunction with the apparatus of FIGS. 11-13 and the resultant package is trimmed in any suitable manner such as described in connection with FIGS. 6 and 7. The package seal may be accomplished by an adhesive coating applied to the top surface of the flange portion 58 of the cup 57, or may be supplied in any suitable manner such as by combining the packaging materials while in the heated thermoplastic state. The resilient face of the piston supplied by the continuous gasket 64 aids in preventing adherence between the film 59 and the piston face during vacuum holding of the film and further aids in supplying a positive but resilient pressure to establish a seal between the film and flange portion 58 of the cup 57. The apparatus of FIGS. 11-13 is basically illustrative of use of a flexible base member as distinguished from the relatively rigid base member used with the apparatus of FIGS. 1-5. Furthermore, this apparatus is illustrative of advantageous use of vacuum holding means in the piston when it is desired to controllably position the base member relative to the semi-hemispherical portion of the package during evacuation of the air space.
It is emphasized that with using the apparatus of the invention and following the method disclosed herein, evacuation and sealing occurs virtually simultaneously in order to avoid displacement or disturbance of the freely flowable product. The principle of utilizing an advancing piston for controlled application of a base member not' only accommodates vacuum packaging of readily flowable products but also permits a reduction in package evacuation and forming time. This is of particular importance where a certain degree of pressure is relied upon in order to establish a package seal, the pressure being required from a source other than that created by differential pressure during package evacuation. In this respect the apparatus disclosed permits simultaneous application of mechanical pressure which is of significance particularly where heat scalable materials are utilized. The readily flowable contents are not subjected to differential pressure over any period of time suflicient to disturb or displace the same. The absence of disturbance in the flowable contents also prevents any air entrapment.
Obviously certain modifications and variations of the invention as hereinbefore set forth may be made without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, and therefore only such limitations should be imposed as are in dicated in the appended claims.
1. A method of forming a package containing a free flowing material, said method comprising peripherally supporting a marginally flanged package forming member of upwardly opening cup-like shape, introducing contents into said package forming member to be contained therein by gravity, sealing said package forming member peripherally adjacent the marginal flange thereof, advancing a package base member toward said marginal flange to close off said package forming member and the contents therein, and subjecting the interior of said package forming member adjacent said marginal flange to evacuation to draw said base member into sealing engagement with said marginal flange, the base member advancement and 7 package member forming evacuation occurring simultaneously. 2. The method of claim 1 wherein said base member is pressed into sealing engagement With said marginal flange upon completion of said evacu-ation.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein the peripheral sealing of said package forming member extends to a sealed area through which said base member is advanced.
4. Package forming apparatus comprising a die member including a cavity therein in communication with a sealing face thereof, combination cylinder and piston means aligned with said cavity to seal the same for package forming therein, means forming a part of said die member to hold packaging material in said cavity with the edges thereof extending laterally of said cavity, passage means communicating with said die cavity to permit evacuation thereof, means to hold said package closure means in engagement with said piston means, said piston means advancing said package closure means toward said cavity into sealing engagement with the packaging material in said cavity, said holding means holding said package closure means in engagement with said piston means until evacuation of said cavity is completed and said cylinder is in engagement with said die member.
5. Package forming apparatus adapted to act on package forming material during package formation, said apparatus comprising a die member including a cavity therein in communication with a sealing face thereof, a cylinder in sealing engagement with said face of said die member and surrounding said cavity, piston means in said cylinder and movable toward said cavity and against said face, means sealing said piston in said cylinder to completely close off said cavity, said cavity receiving package forming material therein with a portion of the material overlying said face for engagement with said cylinder, means holding a package closure means in engagement with said piston within said cylinder for movement into overlying relation with said cavity and into sealing engagement with the overlying portion of the package forming ma terial, and means for evacuating the area between the package forming material and base means prior to complete sealing therebetween by movement of said package closure means into engagement with said portion of said packaging means overlying said face.
6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein said die member includes evacuation means in communication with said cavity to retain package forming material therein during evacuation of said area.
7. Package forming apparatus adapted to act on package forming material during package formation, said apparatus comprising a die member including a cavity therein in communication with a sealing face thereof, a cylinder in sealing engagement with said face of said die member and surrounding said cavity, piston means in said cylinder and movable toward said cavity and against said face, means sealing said piston in said cylinder to completely close off said cavity, said cavity adapted to receive package forming material therein with a portion of the material overlying said face for engagement with said cylinder, said cylinder adapted to receive pack-age base means therein in engagement with said piston for movement thereby into overlying relation with said cavity and into sealing engagement with the overlying portion of the package forming material, means for evacuating the area between the package forming material and base means prior to complete sealing therebetween, said face of said die member being recessed about said cavity to receive package forming material therein, and said piston including resilient gasket means receivable in the recess of said di member for final pressing of the base means against the overlying portion of the package forming material.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,887,221 5/1959 Woodward 206- 2,905,316 9/1959 Forrer 206-65 2,942,390 6/1960 Lerner 53-22 2,984,056 5/1961 Scholl 53-22 3,010,262 11/1961 Rumsey 53-30 3,020,686 2/1962 Rueckert et al 53-22 3,094,825 6/1963 Bracey et al 53-112 3,104,506 9/1963 Rohdin 53-22 3,113,409 12/1963 Thuerlings 53-112 3,216,832 11/1965 King 53-112 TRAVIS S. MCGEHEE, Primary Examiner.
FRANK E. BAILEY, G. O. RALSTON, Examiners.
J. M. CASKIE, Assistant Examiner.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3,353,325 November 21, 1967 Hans A. Jensen et a1 It is hereby certified that error appears in the above numbered patent requiring correction and that the said Letters Patent should read as corrected below.
2 Column 1, line 43, for "relied upon for purposes of obtainng fidequate" read prevents effective use of the procedure in t e Signed and sealed this 4th day of March 1969.
EDWARD J. BRENNER Commissioner of Patents Edward M. Fletcher, Ir.