US 3410453 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
N0V- 12, 1968 J. R. c. LAWRENCE 3,410,453
BALL AND LIKE FEEDING Filed April `1o, 1967 INVENTOR:
Josef# Ro sae-r wa/sforna( nukue United States Patent O 3,410,453 BALL AND LIKE FEEDING Joseph Robert Christopher Lawrence, 92 Chaworth Road, West Bridgtord, Nottingham, England Filed Apr. 10, 1967, Ser. No. 629,638 2 Claims. (Cl. 221-175) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A mechanism to dispense a predetermined number of discrete article. The mechanism comprises of a hopper adapted to house the articles, air pressure means to agitate the articles positioned adjacent the outlet of the hopper. A tube guide member connected to the hopper outlet adapted to accommodate the articles as they are delivered from the hopper. Spaced valves are positioned adjacent the free end if the guide member and means to actuate tire valves alternately whereby when the top valve is opened and bottom valve is closed, articles will flow into the zone between the valves and thereby supported by the bottom valve. Upon reversing the valves, the top valve will arrest the entry of articles into the valved zone and the bottom valve will allow the free liow of the articles from the valved zone.
The invention concerns a method of and a means for the feeding of balls or like discrete structures from a supply thereof, and has particular, though not exclusive, reference to a device for the controlled feeding of balls for application to a component, for example, a bicycle free wheel assembly, building machine.
The primary object of the invention is to provide a simple yet effective device whereby a requisite number of balls can be fed to a delivery point of a component assembly machine.
According to the present invention a method of feeding balls or like discrete structures individually and in succession from a supply thereof located in a container includes the step of fluidising the said supply at least in the region of an outlet or feed orifice of the container, and causing said balls to pass through said orifice.
Preferably, he balls or like structures will be subjected to a force acting outwardly of the orifice thereby to facilitate their movement.
In one arrangement the balls are fed to a connecting device whereat predetermined quantities thereof are separated and passed onto a subsequent process. 'f The invention also includes apparatus for practising the method aforesaid which comprises a hopper, an outlet to the said hopper, and means adapted to direct duid to the interior of the hopper and adjacent to the outlet.
Preferably, the hopper will be closed and the outlet will be provided at the lower end thereof, an outlet tube being aligned with the said outlet and in spaced apart disposition relative thereto, and the iiuid will be fed into the hopper through the said lower end.
The invention will now be described further, by way of example only, with reference to the single figure of the accompanying ydrawings illustrating one embodiment thereof in diagrammatic cross section.
Referring now to the drawings, a ball feeding and counting machine assembly comprises a ball feeding part 11 arranged to pass balls 12 singly and in succession from a supply 13 thereof and a counting part 14 arranged to receive balls from the said feeding part and to pass on a predetermined number thereof to a component assembly machine (not shown), or to some other machine.
The ball feeding part 11 consists of a hopper 15 having a downwardly convergent base 16 thereto, an outlet pipe 17 disposed below the said hopper and in alignment with Patented Nov. 12, 1968 but spaced from a through hole 18 in the said base, and a pneumatic means (not shown) arranged to apply pressure air to the interior of the hopper, the latter being closed at its upper end by a lid 19 secured thereto. The base 16 of the hopper comprises an inverted conical shell having the through hole at the apex thereof and such base is secured to the lower end of a cylindrical sleeve which defines the wall of the hopper 15. A further cylindrical sleeve 20 is secured to the hopper 15 so as to depend therefrom, the said sleeve 20 being closed at its lower end by a plug 21, the said plug 21 being apert-ured to receive the aforesaid outlet pipe 17 and an air feed pipe 22.
The counting part 14 consists of a generally vertically disposed counting lnube 23 having spaced valve means 24, 25 therein, and actuator mea-ns whereby the upper valve means is actuable thereby to prevent the entry of further balls to the tube between the spaced means. The upper end of the counting tube is carried by a support plate 27 sec-ured to the end of a spindle 28 whilst such tube terminates, at its lower end, in a counting machine block 29, such block being firmly secured to the spindle at the lower end thereof and being movable with such spindle upon axial movement thereof, and furthermore having a through hole 26 therein with which the counting tube connects.
The spindle 28 is slidably mounted in a xed tube part 30 carried at the end of a mounting arm 30 and a helical spring 31 is provided about the said spindle, the lower end of such spring being seated on a shoulder 30a formed Within the fixed tube part and the upper end of such spring bearing against the underside of the support plate 27. A sleeve 32 is provided about the spring 31 in the upper region thereof, such sleeve being secured to the support plate 27 and being of such external diameter as to be telescopingly engageable within the upper end 30h of the fixed tube part 30.
The upper -valve means 24 comprises a body part 24a extending transversely of the counting tube 23 and secured thereto and a valve member 2417 slidably mounted in the said body part, the valve member 24h extending outwardly from the body part 24a and having a plunger 33 in sliding engagement with the remote end thereof. The valve member has an outwardly directed peripheral ange 24b at its outer end and a return spring 34 is positioned about the member, being located between the said flange 24b and the end face of the body part. The inner end of the plunger is tapered as is readily apparent from the drawing. A further return spring 35 is provided about the plunger, one end of the said spring engaging the end of the valve member and the other end abutting the back of a head 33a fonmed on the plunger. The operation of the upper valve means will be described later.
The lower valve means 25 comprises a valve member 25a located within a blind hole 36 in the counting machine block 29, such member having a transverse passage 25b therein, and a return spring 25e positioned in the said hole inwardly of the valve member. The valve member is held in position within the hole by a retaining plate 37 secured to the block and acting against a shoulder 25a' on the valve member. A tube 38 connected to the outlet pipe 17 of the ball feeding part 11 to the upper end of the counting tube 23, and the said counting tube has through holes 39 therein at -spaced intervals therealong to prevent the formation of an air lock on the discharging of the ball therefrom. The counting tube 23 furthermore has a through hole 40 therein in alignment with the valve 'mem- 'oer 24b of the upper valve means and to receive the inner end of such member.
The operation of the assembly is as follows:
With the hopper 15 of the ball feeding part 11 fully charged with balls, say ball bearings for feeding to a chain sprocket free wheel assembling machine, pressure air is fed to the space below the underside of the hopper through the feed pipe 22 and passes into the said hopper through the opening 18 in the base thereof. By virtue of the fluidisation of the balls within the hopper, the ball density in the region of the hole in the base of the hopper is reduced, and individual balls will 'be discharged from the hopper to the outlet pipe 17.
In practice the ball feeding part Will generally be disposed above the ball counting part and the ejected balls will move along the connecting tube 38 to the counting tube 23 to pass the upper valve means 24 thus to enter the space between the valves constituting a valved zone, the 2.5. Since the lower valve means 25 is in the closed condition the passage of balls is prevented and thus a supply of balls is built 'up in the counting tube. If the build up is allowed to continue until the column extends above the upper valve means, an actuation of such -upper means and a subsequent actuation of the lower means will release only those balls present between the said two means. The balance of the balls being retained in a position above the means 24 until the valve member 24h is again retracted. It `will be apparent, therefore, that by selecting an appropriate separation of the valve means and ensuring that the feed at each cycle of operation is sufficient to ll the space between the upper and lower valve means so a predetermined number of balls can be released at each discharge operation.
Whilst actuation of the lower valve means will usually be manual, although of course automatic actuation can be utilised if desired, actuation of the upper valve means is effected by the abutment of the plunger 33 carried by the Valve member with the fixed tube part 30, such abutment being consequent upon a downward movement of the spindle 28 and associated parts, the plunger head 33a being appropriately shaped to follow the contour of the tube part and axial movement of the plunger giving rise to a like movement of the valve member 24b to cause the latter to enter the counting tube thus to prevent the entry of further balls.
The invention is not restricted to the exact features of the embodiment hereinbefore described since alternatives will readily present themselves to one skilled in the art th-us, for example, the conical base to the hopper may be made perforate, at least in selected regions thereof, thereby to facilitate the uidisation of the balls if desired, -whilst the interior of the hopper may be pressurised by feeding air thereinto other than through the bottom thereof.
What I claim is:
1. Apparatus for feeding discrete articles individually and in succession from a supply thereof comprising a hopper to store said articles, an article outlet in said hopper, means to direct fluid pressure to the interior of the hopper positioned adjacent said outlet, a tube positioned in alignment with said outlet, a valve assembly coupled to said tube spaced from said hopper, said valve assembly including spaced upper and lower valves members, the space between the valve constituting a valved zone, the valve arrangement being such as that when the fupper valve is open the lower valve is closed, thus articles are free to flow into the valved zone through the upper valve and be supported by the lower valve but when the valves are actuated to assume alternate positions the upper valve will arrest the ow of articles into the valved zone and the lower valve will allow the llow of articles from the valved zone therethrough, means to actuate the valve assembly including a spindle extending longitudinally of the said tube and movable relative thereto in the axial direction thereof, a support plate scoured to the said spindle at one side of the tube, a block secured to the said spindle at the opposite side of the said tube, the support plate and the block each being secured to the tube at spaced locations thereon, and a resilient means against the restraint of which the spindle moves relative to the tube, the tube co-operating with the valve means to effect an actuation thereof upon movement of the spindle relative to the tube.
2. Apparatus as clailrned in claim 1 wherein the said block has a through hole therein in alignment with the tube and the lower valve is arranged transversely of the said hole.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 947,932 2/1910 Peckham. 1,042,785 10/1912 Goulding 221-296 1,313,491 8/ 1919 Lazzell 222-450 XR 2,890,814 6/1959 Hohl 221-200 XR 3,212,671 10/1965 Rock 222-45() XR FOREIGN PATENTS 76,367 1/ 1948 Czechoslovakia. 486,873 2/1918 France. 924,660 10/ 1955 Germany.
WALTER SOBIN, Primary Examiner.