US 3448743 A
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June 10, 1969 w. J. BERRY APPARATU$ FOR CLEANING CONTAINERS Filed NOV. 7, 1966 FLUID SUPPLY United States Patent 3,448,743 APPARATUS FOR CLEANING CONTAINERS William J. Berry, Durham, N.C., assignor to R & D Suppliers, Inc., Durham, N.C., a corporation Filed Nov. 7, 1966, Ser. No. 592,553 Int. Cl. B08b 3/04 US. Cl. 134-58 5 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An apparatus for cleaning containers in which a fluid dispensing line connected to a source of fluid is introduced into and withdrawn from a container to be cleansed and fluid is dispensed for a period of time to cleanse the container internally and externally with the container having its open end facing upwardly.
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in apparatus for cleaning containers, and more particularly it relates to equipment and methods for washing, cleaning and sterilizing laboratory glassware such as vials, test tubes, flasks, bottles, syringes, pipettes, and the like.
Numerous problems exist in hospitals, medical centers and laboratories in washing, rinsing and sterilizing adequately the assortment of glassware used in medical research and treatment so that such are thoroughly cleaned internally and externally to permit their reuse. Glassware of the type mentioned above .often contains tissue cultures, blood, labels, markings, agar, chemicals, tar and distillates which are difficult to remove by ordinary cleaning and sterilizing processes. Additionally, particular substances such as autoclaved protein and other recalcitrant deposits which collect on the walls of such articles are oftentimes nearly impossible to remove by conventional means.
The present invention concerns apparatus adapted to extend within the interiors of containers to be cleansed so that the wash and rinse fluids may be applied to the soiled containers in a continuous, flushing manner. By a unique combination of detergent and water injected within and near the bottom of the containers, their interiors are systematically cleansed, and the washing and rinsing cycles are interspersed so that particles of foreign materials adhering to the surface of the container interiors are eventually softened, dislodged and conveyed outside the container by the flushing action of the introduced fluid.
The present apparatus has been found extremely effective for use with bottles having restricted, narrow openings which are primarily used for handling radioactive specimens that require a high degree of purity. Such containers are extremely difficult to wash by conventional means or methods because of the narrow openings which preclude insertion of a brush or similar device to scrub the vessel interior walls. Use of the present invention allows the fluid dispenser to be introduced within these bottles through the narrow opening so that a continuous flushing action takes place as fluid and detergent is introduced selectively into the bottle and overflows through the openings during both the Wash and rinse cycles.
It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide a device for washing and rinsing laboratory glassware such as test tubes, flasks, bottles, syringes, vials, pipettes and the like.
Patented June 10, 1969 Another object of the present invention is to provide a container cleaning apparatus which can be introduced within the container to permit a continuous flow of fluid and detergent therethrough for selected time intervals.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for cleaning containers and the like which utilizes selectively actuated solenoids to introduce discriminately fluid and detergent within the interior of soiled containers.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a container cleaning apparatus having means for permitting relative motion between dispensers and soiled containers so that the dispensers may be introduced within the containers for cleaning.
Yet another object of the present invention is to proyide a container cleaning apparatus embodying a unique fluid actuated container displacing component which can be controlled by a timer that governs the wash and rinse cycles.
These and other objects of the present invention will be clearly apparent during the course of the following description while considering the accompanying drawings constituting a part hereof and in which like characters of reference designate like parts and in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container cleaning apparatus constituting the preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the cleanser reservoir and the dispenser displacing system utilizing fluid flow to either side of a centrally positioned piston;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational, sectional, fragmentary and slightly enlarged view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the dispensers and communicating manifold and the containers to be cleansed positioned therebeneath along a supporting and movable platform;
FIG. 3 is a front elevational, sectional, fragmentary and slightly enlarged view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the dispensers injected within containers to be cleaned and the circulating fluid introduced therein;
FIG. 4 is a mechanical-hydraulic schematic diagram of the preferred embodiment of the present invention illustrating the flow mechanism for controlling fluid flow during the Wash and rinse cycle and the hydraulic operating means controlling the movement of the supported containers from a dispenser-retracted to a dispenser-in serted position;
FIG. 5 is an electro-mechanical schematic diagram showing the wiring connection of the drive motor and valve controlling solenoids in the preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a perspective enlarged view of the timer as sembly showing the wash and rinse cycle programmed solenoid trip cams positioned thereon; and
FIG. 7 is a side elevational, fragmentary and sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention showing a hinged lever attached to the container supporting platform for raising and lowering that platform when manual or independent displacement is desired.
' Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, there is shown one embodiment of a container cleaning apparatus generally designated 10 comprising a housing 12 which is provided with an opening 14 wherein a plurality of containers 16 may be placed for cleaning.
Apparatus includes fluid dispensing means in the nature of a plurality of hollow fluid dispensers 18 extending downwardly from a communicating manifold 20 from which fluid can be evenly and uniformly distributed into containers 16.
A rack generally designated 22 has a retainer 24 which is perforated with a number of openings 25 shaped to receive the cross-sectional configuration of a container so as to sustain these containers in a side-by-side relationship and in one position during the wash and rinse operation. A platform 23 supports rack 22 and has a number of adjustable braces 26 for positioning the platform a prescribed distance from the dispensers according to the height of the rack 22 and containers 16 positioned thereon that are to be cleaned. A vertically extending member 28 is secured to the platform and provides means for attaching a lever or other linking member 30 whose operation will be described subsequently in greater detail. Rack 22 is slidably removable through opening 14 onto platform 23 thus permitting any number of differently designed racks to be used according to the shape of the containers to be washed. A door 27 covers opening 14 and prevents fluid from splashing outwardly therefrom.
In order to provide fluid and detergent for introduction and circulation within containers 16, a cleanser aspirator or reservoir 32 is situated atop the control housing 34 so that when the introduction of cleanser into the containers is called for by way of the program timer, detergent or cleanser will flow from reservoir 32 through vessel 54 and subsequently into manifold 20 for distribution into the various containers.
Control box 34 houses the hydraulic, mechanical and electrical control system for operating the container cleaning apparatus, a portion of which system is particularly illustrated in FIG. 4 wherein a fluid, usually water, is furnished from a fluid supply under pressure and is introduced into the intake line 36 which is comprised of a suitable tubular material of sufiicient size to accommodate the passage of a quantity of fluid. Fluid flow is directed to a T connection 38 and there divides into two tubular conductors 40 and 42. Line 40 enters a chamber generally designated 44 which contains a solenoid and solenoid-operated valve for passing or restricting flow through conduit 40. A duplex microswitch 46 energizes the solenoid within chamber 44 at the appropriate time as will be subsequently described.
Line 40 continues from housing 44 to another T connection 48 where it is then channeled through a larger conduit 50 directly into manifold 20 for even and continuous distribution to the plurality of dispensers 18 communicating with the manifold and extending therefrom.
Line 42 also enters a solenoid and solenoid operated valve chamber generally designated 52 for selectively controlling fluid flow therethrough. The solenoid of chamber 52 is controlled by the second post of duplex switch 46 which will be described subsequently. Line 42 continues until it intersects cleanser feed line 54 which extends from cleanser reservoir 32 and supplies cleanser or detergent for the washing operation. Flow of fluid and cleanser then continues in line 42 until it reaches the T connection 48 where it is then introduced in conduit 50 for tr-ansferral to manifold 20.
A timer best illustrated in FIG. 6 and designated generally 56 is positioned near duplex microswitch 46 and controls the actuation of solenoids contained within chambers 44 and 52. Timer 56 is preferably of an electrical type though obviously a mechanical device could 'be used. A one-hour timer cycle is found to give best results in the preferred embodiment of the present invention so that timer 56 is provided with cams 58, 60 and 62. As the cam sustaining surface 64 of the timer rotates during the wash and rinse cycle, the cams selectively actuate the particular post of switch 46 to either pass or restrict fluid in lines 40 and 42.
In the preferred embodiment of the present invention as particularly set forth in FIG. 2, a piston 66 is affixed to lever 30 for slidable movement within a chamber 68 which is sealed except for intake and exhaust ports 70 and 72 which allow the flow of fluid into and out of the chamber as directed to displace piston 66 in one direction or the other according to the desired operation.
The introduction of fluid to control movement of piston 66 is particularly illustrated in FIG. 4 where fluid from a source is introduced into line 36 and divides at connection 74, a portion continuing to T-connection 38 and a portion entering line 76 in which is positioned a pressure pressure regulator 78 for sustaining a constant fluid pressure against the piston and providing immediate response to fluid flow through line 76 when such is desired. Line 76 continues until it enters a mechanical valve 80 which is opened or closed according to its valve control lever 82. Lines 84 and 86 extend from valve 80, line 84 continuing through a connector 88 until it is introduced into port 72 contained in the lower portion of chamber 68. Line 90 extends to a second mechanical valve 92 having a valve control lever 94 and on to the drain as indicated.
Still another tubular connection 96 extends from valve 92 into port 70 located at the top of chamber 68, and line 86 intersects line 96 the purpose for which will be more clearly defined subsequently.
The wash and rinse cycle and the platform raising mechanism are initiated by rotating the indicator 98 which in turn moves cam supporting surface 64 of timer 56 so that valve levers 82 and 84 actuate valves 80 and 92 and permit fluid flow through valve 80 and into port 72 thus filling the lower portion of chamber 68 and raising piston 66 to an extended position (see FIG. 3). During this operation valve 92 permits passage of fluid therethrough and into the drain once piston 66 has been raised to its uppermost position so that the lower portion of chamber 68 which is filled with water can be maintained under constant pressure while water is continuously circulated through the valves. Valve 92 also serves as an escape or relief valve since raising piston 66 without such a provision would cause somewhat abrupt and rapid movement of platform 23 and perhaps disturb the arrangement of containers 16 positioned thereon.
As soon as indicator 98 has started the timer cycle by closing switch 102 and energizing the timer motor 100, the timer 56 commences its rotation at a constant speed so that cams 58, 60 and 62 are positioned against duplex switch 46 at selective times and for selective durations so as to pass or restrict fluid and cleanser flow into manifold 20. Once indicator 98 has initiated the operation of valves 80 and 92, these valves remain in an actuated state until the completion of a full cycle when the timer will then disengage these devices so that water pressure will be removed from the bottom of chamber 68. The fluid within the bottom portion of chamber 68 will then flow back through valve 92 and out into the drain because of the force exerted on piston 66 from the weight of the platform and its carried receptacles.
Thus the commencement of the wash-rinse cycle by rotating indicator 98 also displaces linkage 104 and closes switch 102 controlling the timer motor.
It will be readily apparent that many other variations in raising and lowering mechanisms can be substituted for that herein shown and described without departing from the overall concept of the washer assembly, and one such embodiment is set forth in FIG. 7 wherein there is shown a pivotal linkage 106 secured to the paltform connecting member 108 so that the platform 112 can be raised and lowered as linkage 106 is displaced. A connecting ring 110 allows this linkage member to be operably secured to any other convenient raising and lowering mechanism. Obviously this arrangement could be manually operated in that linkage 106 could be raised and pivotally locked as shown in FIG. 7 until the wash cycle is terminated at which time the platform 112 could be manually lowered to the soak or draining position.
While there is herein illustrated and described containers of the miniature vial type for which the present apparatus can be most effectively applied, obviously the operational sequence and structural features of this machine can be utilized to wash, rinse and sterilize any number of breakers, vials, or tubular containers by simply varying the recesses or apertures within member 24 to accommodate the cross-sectional configuration of each container used.
An operational cycle of one hour duration is suggested by programming solenoid-engaging cam 58 to permit an initial ten minute period for introducing hot water and detergent by actuating the solenoid valve contained in chamber 52 so that these substances will pass from lines 42 and 44 through line 50 and into manifold 20. It is suggested that this initial water and detergent cycle be followed by a ten minute cut-off period within which time the containers may soak with the hot water and included detergent so that particles adhering to the interior of the container might be loosened and freely carried away by the subsequent flow and flushing action of the fluid.
After the ten minute soak period, a second surface cam 60 will displace switch 46 and cause the actuation of the solenoid valve contained in chamber 44 so as to allow a second application of hot water to be injected within the manifold 20 for a period of approximately five minutes. A second soaking period follows for approximately ten minutes, and then a rinse cycle lasting for approximately ten minutes is commenced. After the" rinse is completed, the containers are allowed to sit for the balance of the one hour operating cycle at which time they may 'be emptied by hand or other suitable means and placed in a drying rack or storage.
It is also within the intent of embodiment herein disclosed and illustrated to provide for a suction device that can be operably secured to the apparatus to evacuate the rinse fluid contained in the vials or tubes so that these containers can then remain completely untouched by human hands.
The introduction of fluid into a plurality of containers within housing 12 and the continuous flow and flushing action resulting therefrom is best illustrated in FIG. 3 where the dispensers 18 are positioned inside container 16 so that the fluid is circulated against the bottom 106 of the container interior upward along the interior wall 108 and out through the containers somewhat restricted openings 110. Fluid then spills over into the chamber basin 112 where it is evacuated through a drain 114 carrying the dislodged particles from the interiors of the containers to a remote location.
Obviously, the unique arrangement of the various components and their cooperation each with the other would permit a container washing apparatus of any desirable size to be made and utilized according to the disclosure herein set forth.
Of course, many modifications and variations may be made in the configuration and arrangement of the container supporting platform, the various solenoid and valve arrangements and the platform displacing mechanism as well as other phases of the present inventive concept in light of the above teachings without departing from the real spirit and purpose of this invention. Such modifications of parts and alternatives as well as the use of equivalents to those herein illustrated and described are included and contemplated.
What is claimed is:
1. A container cleaning apparatus for cleansing containers, vials and the like, comprising: a fluid dispensing means adapted to be received within at least one container; means for supporting at least one container with its open end up proximate said dispensing means; means for displacing said dispensing means and said container supporting means relative to each other from a dispenserinserted position to a dispenser-retracted position; means for introducing fluid under pressure into said dispensing means for projection in said container, a dispenser mani- 7 fold communicating with said dispenser; a fluid supply; a cleanser reservoir, said fluid introducing means including conveying means for supplying fluid and cleanser from said fluid supply and said cleanser reservoir to said manifold and dispenser, said displacing means including a lever connected to said container supporting means, means associated with said lever for displacing said container supporting means relative to said dispensing means to the dispenser-inserted position, valve means operable with said conveying means for allowing and restricting fluid and cleanser flow to said manifold and dispenser so that the container is selectively subjected to fluid and cleanser; and solenoid control means for actuating said valve means.
2. A container cleaning apparatus as claimed in claim 1, said solenoid control means including a first solenoid,.
a first solenoid operated valve operable with said first solenoid for selectively controlling fluid flow from saidfluid supply to said manifold and dispenser, a second solenoid, a second solenoid operated valve operable with said second solenoid for selectively controlling cleanser flow from said cleanser reservoir to said manifold and dispenser, and a timer for selectively actuating said solenoids to provide cleanser and fluid flow from said reservoir and fluid supply to said manifold and dispenser.
3. A container cleaning apparatus as claimed in claim 1, said lever associated means including a piston connected to said lever, a chamber cooperatively receiving said piston for selective movement therein and means for introducing a medium into selected portions of said chamber to urge said piston in a preselected direction and move said lever and container supporting means accordingly.
4. A container cleaning apparatus as claimed in claim 3, said mediumintroducing means including fluid intake and exhaust ports within said chamber and fluid conveying means connecting said intake and exhaust ports with said fluid supply, said ports positioned to allow introduction and evacuation of fluid into and out of said chamber selectively as said piston is urged in a preselected direction, a piston operating valve operable with said solenoid control means for selectively controlling fluid flow between said fluid supply and said chamber.
5. A container cleaning apparatus as claimed in claim 1 comprising valve means operable with said conveying means for allowing and restricting fluid and cleanser flow to said manifold and dispenser so that the container is selectively subjected to fluid and cleanser; and solenoid control means for actuating said valve means, said solenoid control means including a first solenoid, a first solenoid operated valve operable with said first solenoid selectively controlling fluid flow from said fluid supply to said manifold and dispenser, a second solenoid, a second solenoid operated valve operable with said second solenoid for selectively controlling cleanser flow from said cleanser reservoir to said manifold and dispenser, and a timer for selectively actuating said solenoids to provide cleanser and fluid flow from said reservoir and fluid supply to said manifold and dispenser, said lever associated means including a piston connected to said lever, a chamber cooperatively receiving said piston for selective movement therein, and means for introducing a medium into selected portions of said chamber to urge said piston in a preselected direction and move said lever and container supporting means accordingly, said medium introducing means including fluid intake and exhaust ports within said chamber and fluid conveying means connecting said intake and exhaust ports with said fluid supply, said ports positioned to allow introduction and evacuation of fluid into and out of said chamber selectively as said piston is urged in a preselected direction, a piston operating valve operable with said solenoid control means for seand said chamber.
, 7 8 lectively controlling fluid flow between said fluid supply 2,814,575 11/1957 Lange 134-152 XR 3,294,101 12/1966 Suzuki et a1. 13458 References Cited FOREIGN PATENTS UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,355,416 2/1964 France. 11/1903 Eick 134 167 489,440 1/1954 I ly. 34132; 2:23, 134 141 XR ROBERT L. BLEUTGE, Primary Examiner. 10/1953 Casady et a1. 134-171 XR 3/1954 Cozzoli 134 ss XR 10 CL 10/1954 Strunck et a1 134-152 134-100, 141, 152, 171