US 3414112 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 3, 1968 J. RAVN CAP FEEDING APPARATUS 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed June 8, 1967 INVENTOR'- JACOB RAVN ATTYS.
Dec. 3, 1968 J. RAVN 3,414,112
CAP FEEDING APPARATUS Filed June 8, 1967 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR',
JACOB RAVN M W W A'ITYS- Dec. 3, 1968 J. RAVN 3,414,112
CAP FEEDING APPARATUS Filed June 8, 1967 v 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 FIG.6.
mvsuron: JACOB RAVN ATTYS.
4 Sheets-Sheet J. RAVN CAP FEEDING APPARATUS Dec. 3, 1968 Filed June 8, 1967 df f ATTYS.
United States Patent 3,414,112 CAP FEEDING APPARATUS Jacob Ravn, Phoenixville, Pa., assignor to The West Company, Phoenixville, Pa., a corporation of Pennsylvania Filed June 8, 1967, Ser. No. 644,723 9 Claims. (Cl. 19833) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A cap feeding apparatus for orienting caps of generally cup-like form used on containers, comprising an accumulation chamber wherein the caps are initially deposited in a random fashion, a generally circular tray disposed below the discharge end of the accumulation chamber and a bowl assembly wherein caps discharged from the tray are oriented so that they are all facing the same direction when they enter a discharge chute communicating with the bowl assembly, the discharge chute usually communicating with apparatus for applying the caps to containers. The bowl assembly consists of a first annular collecting chamber surrounding and overlying the outer peripheral edge of the tray, a second annular collecting chamber below the first chamber and a plurality of ramps providing a flow path for caps from the first to the second chamber. The ramps have selector cutouts whereby caps which are properly oriented slide over the selector cutouts and those caps which are not properly oriented drop through the cutouts and are flipped over so that they enter the second collecting chamber in a properly oriented position. Means is provided for vibrating the bowl assembly to cause movement of caps therethrough. Further, the tray is normally connected to the vibratory actuating means for the bowl assembly to discharge caps from the tray to the first collecting chamber and automatically disconnected to stop discharge of caps from the tray when a predetermined load exists in either of the collecting chambers. This arrangement provides an overload protection.
The present invention relates to apparatus for feeding container closures, for example bottle caps so that they are properly oriented upon entry into an assembly machine wherein caps are applied to a container, such as a bottle.
Container closures or caps of the type for which the present invention may be used may include .an outer cuplike member made, for example, of aluminum having a circular top having a central removable disc portion, a skirt depending from the outer peripheral edge of the top and a rubber liner confronting the underside of the top. The top side of the cap is referred to herein as the closed side and the opposite end looking in from the bottom of the skirt is referred to as the open side. Some feeding apparatus for handling these caps generally comprise a hopper wherein many caps are deposited in a random fashion and means for continuously vibrating the hopper bowl to effect movement of caps upwardly along a spiral trackway on the inside periphery of the bowl whereby the caps are elevated from the bottom of the bowl to the top edge thereof. The trackway communicates with a discharge chute leading to apparatus for applying the caps automatically to containers such as bottles. Means is provided adjacent the juncture of the trackway and discharge chute for rejecting caps which are not properly oriented and ejecting them to the bowl to again be fed along the trackway. Thus, there is always an excess of caps arriving to the discharge point and the improperly oriented caps fall back into the bowl where they tumble about with fresh caps deposited into the bowl. Accordingly, a given cap can travel many times through the hopper bowl and thus is exposed to a very high degree of agitation which is a great disadvantage, especially with lined caps. A major problem in handling lined caps is that during prolonged agitation and tumbling about of the caps in a closely bunched group, for example, in the hopper bowl, the edge of the skirt of one cap tends to rub against the liner of another cap. This rubbing action may result in accumulation of particles on the liner which may contaminate contents of a container to which it is applied.
By contrast in accordance with the present invention, the large bulk of caps in the hopper bin are not exposed to any prolonged agitation and the caps are discharged from the tray below the hopper bin as needed and only a small :amount at a time enter the first collecting chamber where they are quickly discharged to a selector system and finally discharged to a second collecting chamber where they are all properly oriented and ready to pass to the main discharge chute. It is noted that in the apparatus of the present invention, it is not necessary to recirculate the caps through the hopper bin. Thus, the chance of contaminating the liner is substa-ntially eliminated.
With the foregoing in mind, an object of the present invention is to provide a cap feeding apparatus wherein the direction of movement of the caps from the hopper to the discharge chute is downward to provide a fast feed rate.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a cap feeding apparatus which is relatively simplified in construction, which is easy to disassemble, for example, for sterilization purposes.
Still another object is to provide a cap feeding apparatus incorporating a novel control system wherein the tray below the hopper and the collecting chambers are vibrated from a common source and wherein means is provided for selectively vibrating the tray only when there is less than a predetermined load of caps in the collecting chambers.
These and other objects of the present invention and the various features and details of the operation and construction of a cap feeding apparatus in accordance with the present invention are hereinafter more fully set forth with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view partly in section of a cap feeding apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged transverse sectional view through the cap feeding apparatus;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional view showing the mounting arrangement for the hopper to the vibratory actuating means;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken on lines 4--4 of FIG. 2 showing the collecting chambers;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken on lines 55 of FIG. 4 illustrating the sensor elements comprising part of the electrical control system for the apparatus;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken on lines 6--6 of FIG. 1 showing the means mounting the discharge tray to the hopper bin; 1
FIG. 7 is an enlarged view taken on line 77 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view showing one of the discharge points connecting the upper and lower collecting chambers;
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary view showing a discharge ramp connecting the upper and lower collecting chambers:
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view showing the discharge ramp; and
FIG. 11 is a schematic wiring diagram showing the control system for operation of the apparatus.
The cap feeding apparatus of the present invention is especially adapted to use in orienting container closures or caps used on pharmaceutical bottles or the like. These container closures generally comprise an annular top portion 11 having a removable central disc 12 connected thereto by fracturable bridge means, a skirt 14 depending from the outer peripheral edge of the top 10 and a liner 16. Even though the apparatus of the present invention is illustrated and described in connection with a particular type of cap, it is to be understood that the apparatus is adapted for use with many other types of container closures.
Considering now the broad details of the apparatus in terms of function, there is provided a hopper bin 20 defining an accumulation chamber wherein batches of caps are initially deposited in a random fashion, and a generally circular disc-like tray T spaced from and disposed below the discharge end of the hopper. This tray T is adapted for selective vibration whereby the caps deposited thereon are discharged over the outer peripheral edge of the tray T to a first annular inner collecting chamber C In the inner collecting chamber C the caps are vibrated to move in a circular path, the chamber C being slightly inclined so that the caps move to the outer periphery of the chamber. A plurality of circumferentially spaced discharge ramps R are provided around the outer periphery of the inner collecting chamber C, which communicate with discharge openings 0. in the outer wall of the inner collecting chamber C An escapement cover 26 is mounted adjacent each of the openings O to guide the caps to the ramps R and insures that the caps enter the ramp R either closed side up or open side up and are not on edge. Cap orienting cutout slots S are provided in each ramp R which are designed so that caps with open side up pass over the slots and slide down the ramps to the outer collecting chamber C whereas caps with open side down drop through the slots S and are turned so that they lite open side up in the outer collecting chamber C In the outer collecting chamber C the caps are also urged in a counterclockwise direction to a discharge point where they pass down a main discharge chute 30 communicating with automatic equipment for applying the caps to containers, such as bottles.
The inner and outer collecting chambers and tray T are vibrated from a common actuating mechanism A to effect movement of the caps in the manner described above. Means including an electromagnet is also provided to connect the tray T to the actuating mechanism to normally effect discharge of caps from the tray T to the inner collecting chamber C In the present instance, sensing elements M and N are provided in the inner and outer collecting chambers respectively to sense the load of caps in each chamber. If either collecting chamber is sufficiently loaded with a predetermined load of caps, the sensing element effects de-energization of the electromagnet connecting the tray T to the actuating mechanism A whereby feed of caps from the tray T is discontinued. When suflicient caps have been discharged from the chambers, the mechanical connection of the tray T to the actuating mechanism A is re-established to continue operation in the manner described above. Thus, the sensing elements provide an overload protection.
Considering now more specifically the structural details of the apparatus, the hopper bin 20 which is supported above the base 32 of the apparatus by means of upstanding leg members 34 comprises a generally cylindrical body portion 36, a conical portion 38 depending from the body portion 36 terminating in a generally cylindrical discharge duct or throat 40 of much smaller dimension than the body portion 36. An extension collar 42 is mounted on the discharge duct 40 in telescoping relation for vertical adjustment relative thereto, for example, by rivets 44 slidable in inclined slots 46 in the collar 42.
The collar 42 mounts a handle 48 so that the collar may be rotated relative to the duct whereby through the rivets 44 and slot 46 the collar is moved axially relative to the duct 40 to selectively vary the spacing between the lower edge of the collar 42 and the tray T.
The tray T which is mounted below the discharge outlet of the hopper bin is of dish-like shape having an upturned outer peripheral edge portion 50 and a conical hub portion 52 to which is secured an upstanding rod support member 54 which in turn mounts a plate-like agitator member 56 extending up into the hopper bin. The tray T is supported in a predetermined position below the discharge outlet of the hopper bin by means of studs 58 secured interiorly of the duct 40, for example, by welding, the threaded outer terminal end portions of the studs 58 mounting locking nuts to hold the tray in place.
The inner collecting chamber C as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 5, is disposed below the tray T and comprises an outwardly diverging frusto conical base 60 having an inner edge 61 underlying and spaced inwardly of the outer edge of the tray and a cylindrical drum 62, the upper extension 62a of which projects upwardly from the outer edge of the base 60 forming an outer circumferentially extending retaining wall. The outlet openings 0.; are located at three circumferentially spaced locations in the upper extension 62a of the drum 62 aligned wtih the upper end of three ramps R. An escapement cover 26 is provided at each outlet opening 0 comprising a top segment 51 projecting inwardly from the wall of the drum and an augularly disposed deflector rib 53 in the path of movement of the caps to direct caps through the outlet opening O The top segment 51 is spaced from the base of the inner collecting chamber C a distance slightly greater than the depth of the skirt of a cap so that all of the caps pass through the outlet openings 0 to ramps either open side up or closedside up and not on edge.
Each ramp R has an outwardly inclined base 66 and a side wall 68 defining a trackway T for the caps. The base 66 of each ramp R has two land sections 66a and 6612 connected by an inclined descending portion 70 and an inclined descending terminal portion 72. A selector cutout S is provided in the land section of each ramp, the cutouts consisting of an elongated finger-like opening 71 having four spaced notches 74 along one side edge thereof. The cutout S in the upper land section 66a is larger and is adapted to accommodate large caps and the cutout S in the lower land section 66b accommodates smaller caps. By reason of these cutouts any caps travelling along the trackway T open side down are discharged therethrough and tumble to an open side up position in the outer collecting chamber C as they move down the ramp as best illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10. Each ramp has two such cutout sections for accommodating caps of different diameters. For example, the larger caps, for example 20 mm. size, drop through the larger cutout S in the upper land section and the smaller caps such as 13 mm. size drop through the smaller cutout in the lower land section.
It is noted that the ramps are also slightly downwardly inclined so that the caps moving in the direction indicated by the arrow on the ramp tend to engage the sidewall portion whereby they are properly aligned with respect to the cutouts as they traverse this portion of the ramp.
The outer collecting chamber C comprises a frusto conical outwardly declining base supported exteriorly of the drum 62 by a reinforcing member 82. The inner edge of the base 80 curves upwardly to the level of the base of the inner collecting chamber below the ramps, each ramp terminal portion being cut away to merge with the curved inner edge portion of the base 80. The main discharge chute 30 communicates with an opening 88 in the peripheral sidewall 84 in the outer collecting chamber C and when the caps reach this position they move down the chute when the gate 90 is open. Of course, fiow of caps to the discharge chute may be interrupted by closing the gate 90. There is provided an escapement cover 92 at the entrance to the main discharge chute to insure proper orientation of the caps.
The vibratory bowl assembly B comprising the inner and outer collecting chambers described above is suitably connected to the vibratory actuating mechanism A whereby operation of the actuating mechanism effects vibration of the bowl assembly to move caps through the collecting chambers in the manner described above.
More specifically the actuating mechanism A com-' prises in the present instance two electromagnetic cores 100 supported on brackets 102 projecting upwardly from the main base of the apparatus which are operatively associated with magnetic pole pieces 104 carried by arms 95, 97 of the spider 99 and a plurality of angularly disposed leaf spring actuators 106 connected in pairs on opposite sides of the arms of the spider 99. The electromagnetic cores 100 are supplied with alternating line voltage when a main switch controlling operation of the apparatus is closed which through the pole pieces and springs causes vibration of the bowl assembly and movement of caps in the collecting chambers in the manner described above. A manually variable current control or regulator may be provided in the main control circuit to permit adjustment of the amplitude of the vibrations thereby to control rate of movement of the caps in the chambers.
In accordance with the present invention means is provided for effecting selective vibratory actuation and deactivation of the tray T depending on the load of caps in the collecting chambers C and C To this end, an electromagnet 110 is mounted on the central portion of the spider 99 below the collecting tray T and generally concentrically aligned therewith having a coil 112 operable for selective energization and de-energization as explained in more detail hereinafter to energize and deenergize the electromagnet 110.
A disc-like armature 114 of magnetic material is mount ed below the tray T overlying the coil 112 and magnet 110. In the present instance, the armature 114 is connected to the lower face of the tray T by three circumferentially equispaced leaf springs 116. By this arrangement when the bowl assembly is vibrated by the actuating mechanism A if the coil 112 for the electromagnet 110 is de-energized, the springs 116 maintain the armature 114 out of engagement with the magnet whereby the tray T is at rest and no caps are discharged therefrom. On the other hand, when the coil 112 is energized, the armature 114 is attracted to the magnet against the bias of the spring 116 whereby a direct mechanical connection is established between the vibrating bowl assembly and tray T. Vibration of the bowl is transferred through the magnet to the armature through the springs 116 to the tray T. Of course, vibration of the tray T causes caps to be discharged from the hopper bin to the inner collecting chamber C A control circuit C including the sensing elements M and N is provided for effecting automatic selective actuation of the tray T in the manner described above only when the collecting chambers are not overloaded. The sensor M for the inner collecting chamber comprises an annular ring-like member 120 of arcuate cross section disposed adjacent the inner edge of the base of the inner collecting chamber C and spaced therefrom by means of a ring 122 of insulating material having a circumferential rib 124 engaging between the sensing ring 122 and the inner circular edge of the base of the inner collecting chamber C The sensing element N for the outer collecting chamber comprises a triangular member 130 mounted on a bridge 132 overlying the base of the outer collecting chamber C In normal operation, the coil 112 is energized and hence the tray T is vibrating to discharge caps from the tray to the inner collecting chamber. Now, before an overload exists in either the inner or outer collecting chamber, the sensing elements sense the predetermined load and through the control circuit C de-energize the coil 112 whereby the magnet releases the armature 114 and the vibration of the tray T ceases. This, of course abates discharge of caps from the tray T to the inner collecting chamber C until such time as the load situation is alleviated by reason of movement of the caps through the apparatus. At this point, the operation is reversed through the sensing elements and the tray T is caused to vibrate with the main vibrating bowl assembly.
As illustrated schematically in FIG. 11, the control circuit C comprises a main power supply 140, an oscillator 142, a time delay 144 and a trigger circuit 146 connected between the positive supply line 150 and negative supply line 152 from the main power supply 140. The control circuit further includes a relay 161, the coil of which is connected through line 163 to the trigger circuit 146 and line to the positive supply line 150. The coil 160 of the relay is normally de-energized whereby the contact arms 162 are in the full line position and current is supplied to the coil 112 of the electromagnet 110 through lines 171 and 173 from the power supply 140. Under these conditions the tray T is connected with the actuating mechanism A and caps discharge from the tray to the collecting chambers.
An LC bridge circuit generally designated by the numeral 154 is connected by the line 156 to one side of the oscillator 142. As illustrated, the sensors M and N are capacitors in one leg of the LC bridge circuit, another leg of the bridge circuit consisting of the zero capacitance adjustment means. By this arrangement, as the bridge becomes unbalanced due to a change in capacitance of the sensors, a portion of the bridge output is rectified and fed to the electronic trigger circuit 146 through the time delay 144. The electronic trigger circuit receives the proportional input signal from the bridge circuit and converts it to a high level on-off control current operable to energize the coil 160 of relay 161 whereby the contact arms 162 are actuated to the dotted line position to cut off current to the coil 112 from the power supply through the lines 167 and 169. Thus, the tray T is disconnected from the actuating mechanism A to discontinue discharge of caps from the tray to the inner collecting chamber C The control circuit C further includes a pair of signal lamps 170 and 172 connected across the alternating voltage supply lines 166 and 168, the lamp 172 indicating when the tray T is connected to the actuating mechanism A (normal operation) and the lamp 170 indicating when the tray T is deactivated and therefore indicating an overload in the system. The time delay 144 delays transmis sion of the signal to the relay for a predetermined time lag so that if the LC bridge balances within the time lag, the signal is cancelled. In other words, the time delay 144 serves an integrating function whereby a predetermined length of time for voltage build up in the oscillator to the threshold level of the trigger circuit 146 is required to actuate the trigger circuit and if the bridge balances before that predetermined length of time, the voltage decays. By this arrangement, the control circuit does not shut off operation of the tray T by a single cap approaching one of the sensors, but requires an accumulation greater than a predetermined load of caps in one of the collecting chambers.
The electric control circuitry may be a commercial product such as the Level-Tek system made and sold by Robertshaw Controls Company. However, the specific arrangement and form of the sensors are novel and a part of the present invention.
Recapping now briefly the operation of the apparatus, assume that the machine is empty. The main switch is closed to effect vibration of the bowl assembly B through the electromagnet and leaf spring actuating mechanism. Further, since the collecting chambers C and C are empty, the tray T is vibrated by reason of the coil 112 of electromagnet 110 being energized. Caps deposited in a random fashion in the hopper bin 20 accumulate in the tray T and due to the vibration thereof spill over the peripheral edge thereof and accumulate in the inner collecting chamber C These caps then move to the outer periphery of the inner chamber C and pass on to the ramps R through the discharge openings 0 As described above, those caps which are face up slide down the ramp R on to the base of the outer collecting chamber C and those caps which are open side down pass through the selector cutouts S and are flipped over so that they are also deposited in the outer collecting chamber open side up. In the outer collecting chamber, the caps move to the outer periphery and in a counterclockwise direction and finally move down the main discharge chute.
When during operation of the apparatus in this manner, either the outer or inner collecting chamber becomes sufficiently loaded as sensed by the inner sensing ring M or the sensing element N in the outer chamber C the capacitance in the sensors changes, unbalancing the LC bridge circuit and causing a portion of the oscillator output to be rectified and fed through the time delay 144 to the electronic trigger circuit. This signal is there converted into a high level control current energizing coil 160 of relay 161 which in turn de-energizes the coil 112 for the electromagnet 110 whereby the armature 114 is raised by leaf springs 116 and the mechanical connection between the tray T and the bowl assembly is interrupted.
Further, discharge of caps from the tray T is stopped until the load condition in the collecting chambers is alleviated. When sufficient caps are discharged to correct the load, the bridge becomes balanced, the coil 160 of relay 161 is de-energized and the armature 114 is pulled down by the electromagnet 110 thereby re-establishin-g a meehanical connection between the tray and bowl assembly whereby caps again discharge from the tray.
1. Cap feeding apparatus for caps having a top and a cylindrical skirt depending from the outer edge of the top comprising an accumulation chamber for said caps, a tray disposed below the discharge end of the accumulation chamber, a bowl assembly for receiving caps from said tray consisting of a first collecting chamber below said tray and a second collecting chamber below said first collecting chamber, means defining a fiow path permitting movement of caps from said first collecting chamber to said second collecting chamber including orientation means for orienting said caps so that they are all uniformly oriented in said second collecting chamber, actuating means for effecting vibration of said bowl assembly to effect movement of caps from said first to said second collecting chamber, means for operatively connecting the tray to said actuating means to effect discharge of caps from said tray to said first collecting chamber and sensing means for sensing a predetermined load of caps in at least one of said collecting chambers operable upon a predetermined load of caps in said one collecting chamber to disconnect said tray from said aetuating means thereby stopping discharge of caps from said tray to said first collecting chamber.
2. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 1 ineluding a main discharge chute connected with said second collecting chamber through which the oriented caps are discharged.
3. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein said actuating mechanism effect vibratory actuation of said bowl assembly to effect movement of said caps circu'mferentially in one direction in said collecting chambers to said main discharge chute.
4. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said apparatus includes a main base and said actuating means includes at least one electromagnet mounted on said base and a cooperating pole piece carried by said bowl assembly and biasing means normally maintaining the electromagnet and pole piece in predetermined spaced relation whereby energizing said electromagnet combined with said biasing means effects vibratory actuation of said bowl assembly.
5. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 1 including an armature plate carried by said tray confronting a magnet mounted in said bowl assembly operatively connected to said sensing means, said magnet normally attracting said armature to establish a connection between said bowl assembly and said tray to cause vibration of said tray and discharge of caps therefrom to said first collecting chamber, said armature disengaging said magnet upon signal of an overload from said sensing means.
6. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 5 including time delay means operable to delay the signal from said sensing means to said tray actuating magnet whereby discharge of caps from said tray to said first collecting chamber is interrupted only when there is a predetermined load of caps in said collecting chambers.
7. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said sensing means comprises a sensing ring mounted adjacent the inner edge of said first collecting chamber and a sensing element overlying the second collecting chamber, said sensing ring and said sensing element being operatively connected together and through a control circuit to said means for operatively connecting the tray to said actuating means.
8. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 1 including at least one ramp defining a flow path of said caps between said collecting chambers, said ramp having at least one orienting slot therein, said caps which are properly oriented moving from said first to said second collecting chamber by means of said ramp and said caps which are not properly oriented engaging through said orienting slots.
9. Cap feeding apparatus as claimed in claim 5 wherein said armature is mounted on said tray by means of leaf springs.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,672,630 3/1954 Bitzer 221-157 3,306,425 2/1967 Rapp 221-156 FOREIGN PATENTS 572,520 3/1959 Canada.
RICHARD E. AEGERTER, Primary Examiner.