US 3455484 A
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July 15, 1969 a. EDWARDS 3,455,484
CONTAINER DISPENSING APPARATUS Filed Sept. 8, 1967 INVENTOR. Br yam Edwards aia His AH 'ys United States Patent M 3,455,484 CONTAINER DISPENSING APPARATUS Bryant Edwards, Clarendon Hills, 11]., assignor to Illinois Tool Works Inc., Chicago, Ill., a corporation of Delaware Filed Sept. 8, 1967, Ser. No. 666,339 Int. Cl. G07f 11 /16' US. Cl. 221222 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A support and dispensing mechanism for a stack of nested rimmed containers and including rotary elements disposed adjacent the bottom of the stack at spaced stack supporting positions and having peripherally disposed formations each including a hook-like leading edge and a trailing portion adapted to underlie a bottommost container rim for supporting the stack of nested containers and lowering the stack to a position for entry of the following leading hook-like edge between the rims of the two lowermost containers engaging the upper surface of the rim of the bottommost container for stripping the same from the stack while the trailing portion underlies the next adjacent container rim for continuing to support and lower the depleted stack for a repeating cycle of operation.
The present invention is concerned with a mechanism for supporting a stack of nested containers and for dispensing the bottommost container from the stack, and with one which may be conveniently incorporated in automatic vending machines.
An object of the invention is to provide such a mechanism which includes rotary elements adjacent the bottom of the stack of nested containers and rotatable toward the stack and including spaced peripheral formations serving not only to support the stack of nested containers during rotation thereof but to also strip a bottommost container from the stack while continuing to support the remaining nested containers in the thus depleted stack.
Another object of this invention is to provide a mechanism of the above type wherein the peripheral formations on the rotary elements each include a leading hooklike edge and a trailing edge with an intermediate portion serving to support the stack of nested containers while the leading hook-like edge strips the bottommost container from the stack.
A further object of this invention is to provide a mechanism of the above type wherein the rotary elements are in the form of elongate roller or rod-like members each being grooved longitudinally to provide the peripheral hook-like formations and with the rod-like elements adapted for use in opposed pairs to support opposite edges of substantially rectangular containers in the nested stack.
The invention still further aims to provide a mechanism of the above type which is extremely simple in construction, economical to manufacture, and thoroughly efficient in operation for its intended purpose.
The above and other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and will be hereinafter more fully pointed out.
In the accompanying drawing:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation showing the lowermost containers in a fragmentary stack of nested containers with the rotary elements in position supporting the stack by underlying and engaging opposed portions of the rim of the bottommost container;
FIG. 2. is a side elevation showing one of the elongated 3,455,484 Patented July 15, 1969 roller elements in association with the stack of nested containers; and
FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are enlarged fragmentary views, partly in section, showing sequential steps in the rotation of one of the rotary elements during a cycle of operation supporting the stack of nested containers, lowering the stack, and stripping a bottommost container therefrom while continuing to support the remaining depleted stack of containers.
With reference to FIG. 1, there are shown the lowermost containers 10, 10a, 10b of a stack of nested containers from which the bottommost container is to be separated from-the stack for dispensing purposes. The nested containers may be of various shapes and sizes which will determine the number of supporting rotary elements and the peripheral arrangement arid angular disposition thereof to support the stack in stable condition. For purposes of illustration, these nested containers are shown as being substantially rectangular or square so that only a pair of opposed rotary elements are required for supporting the stack. Such rectangular or square containers may be of the type which serve as supports for a plurality of smaller portion receptacles such as individual ice cream receptacles, jelly receptacles, creamers, etc. Each container includes a peripheral rim such as the rims 12, 12a, 12b of the nested containers 10, 10a, 10b, respectively. The stack of nested containers is supported in the bottommost container by means of the rim 12 of the bottommost container resting upon the rotary elements 14, 16 each of which is rotatable by a shaft 15, 17, respectively.
Each rotary element is illustrated in the form of a rodlike or roller element and they are positioned in mirrored arrangement to rotate in opposite directions as illustrated in FIG. 1. Thus, the rotary element 14 rotates in a clockwise direction, and the rotary element 16 rotates in a counterclockwise direction, both toward the stack of nested containers. With this in mind, the following detailed description of the rotary element 16 will be sufficient to also describe the oppositely rotating element 14.
The rotary element 16 is illustrated as being an elongated rod-like element including a plurality of hook-like formations 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d. Each of these hook-like formations includes a leading hook edge 20a, 20b, 20c, 20d, respectively, and a trailing edge 22a, 22b, 22c, 22d, respectively, joined by an intermediate curved edge surface 24a, 24b, 24c, 24d, respectively, which serve as container rim supporting surfaces. The trailing edge of each hook-like formation is separated from the next adjacent leading hook-like edge by a space affording access to a relieved area or recess 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d each within the body of the rotary element 16.
With reference to the sequential steps shown in FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, the illustrated position of FIG. 3 is one where the trailing portion of the supporting surface 24a engages the undersurface of the rim 12 of the bottommost container 10, thus supporting the entire stack of nested containers. As the rotary element 16 rotates in a counterclockwise direction to the position of FIG. 4, the trailing edge 22a of the hook-like formation 18a is now in engagement with the intermediate undersurface portion of the rim 12 of the bottommost container, thus still supporting the stack of nested containers but with the entire stack lowered a distance approximating the space between adjacent container rims. Further counterclockwise rotation of the element 16 to the position of FIG. 5 will locate the following leading hook edge 20b between the lower two container rims 12, 12a with the intermediate portion of the surface 24b engaging the outer edge of the rim 12a of the next adjacent container 10a to support the depleted stack in the lowered position. Further counterclockwise movement of the rotary element 16 results in the leading hook edge 2% forcibly engaging the upper surface of the rim 12 of the bottommost container to strip that container 10 from the stack for dispensing purposes. During this stripping action, the rim 12a continues to be engaged by the surface 24b reaching the rearward portion thereof as illustrated in FIG. 6 and to assist in stripping the bottommost container, the curvature of the surface 241; may be such as to tend to slightly elevate the stack of nested containers. As the rotary element 16 continues its counterclockwise rotation, the hooklike formation 18b will recede from engagement with the rim 12a and the leading hook edge 200 of the following hook-like formation 180 will have entered between the rims 12a, 1212 starting to strip off the container 20a while continuing to support the depleted stack by engagement between the surface 24c and the undersurface of the rim 12b, as suggested in FIG. 7.
During this sequence of operations, it is to be noted that the outer edge of the rim 12 of the bottommost container 10 will initially project into the relieved area or recess 26a, as shown in FIG. 4, and will continue to be disposed in this recess, as shown in FIG. 5, during the initial stripping action. After the bottommost container 10 has been released from the stack, the rim 12 will be trapped in the recess 26a, shown in FIG. 2, and will gradually be released therefrom as the recess 26a approaches the position shown in FIG. 7. Without describing in detail the rotary element 14, it will be understood that this same sequence of operations is accomplished as that rotary element rotates in the opposite or clockwise direction cooperating with the container rims at the opposite side of the stack of nested containers. Thus, this sequence of operations with the hook formations of both rotary elements cooperating with the rims of the lowermost two containers in the stack will effect a stripping of the bottommost container and continuing support of the depleted stack through the medium of the rim of the next adjacent container which becomes the bottommost container in the depleted stack. The rotary elements 14, 16 are to be rotated in unison, as by a chain connection or the like, whether in a simplified manually operated dispenser or in an automatic dispensing machine. The comparable hooklike formations of each rotary element will act simultaneously on the container rims.
While one form of the invention has been shown for purposes of illustration, it is to be clearly understood that various changes in the details of construction and arrangement of parts may be made.
1. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers, each having laterally projecting rims, and selectively removing a buttommost container from the stack for dispensing; and comprising a plurality of rotary elements disposed at peripherally spaced locations adjacent the bottom of the stack of nested containers and rotatable in directions toward the stack of nested containers, each rotary element having a plurality of hook-like formations around the periphery thereof and each hook-like formation including a leading edge and a trailing edge joined to the leading edge by a generally circumferentially extending rim supporting surface, the leading edge of each hook-like formation and the trailing edge of each adjacent hooklike formation being spaced from one another by recess means in the rotary element and into which a container rim may extend during rotation of the rotary element, each rotary element being rotatable from a stack supporting position with the bottommost container rim engaged by a said rim supporting surface to a position lowering the stack with the bottommost container rim extending into said recess means and with the leading edge of the following hook-like formation progressively moving into engagement with the upper surface of the bottommost container rim for stripping the bottommost container from the stack and with the depleted stack supported by the rim supporting surface of the said following hooklike formation engaging the rim of the next adjacent container in the depleted stack, each of said rim supporting surfaces being curved and having an arcuate length greater than the stack height between adjacent containers in said stack for elevating the stack by engagement with the undersurface of the rim of the next to lowest container as the bottommost container is being stripped from the stack.
2. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim 1, wherein each rotary element comprises a rod-like member having longitudinal recesses therethrough forming the recess means between adjacent hook-like formations.
3. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the rotary elements comprise a pair of elongate rod-like members disposed at opposite sides of the stack of nested containers and adapted to engage corresponding opposite rims of substantially rectangular containers.
4. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim 1, wherein the recess means is of sutficient radial depth to receive the adjacent rim portions of the bottommost container being stripped from the stack without binding.
5. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim 4, wherein the adjacent rim portions of the bottommost container stripped from the stack continue to be trapped in the recess means until reaching a position where the container drops by gravity.
6. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim I, wherein the spacing between adjacent trailing and leading edges of each hook-like formation is such that a leading edge of each successive hooklike formation enters between adjacent rim portions of the lowermost pair of containers in the stack to initiate stripping of the bottommgst container and support of the stack through the adjacent container.
7. Means for supporting a stack of nested containers as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of said rim supporting surfaces has a curvature tending to elevate the stack by engagement with the undersurface of the rim of the next to lowest container as the bottommost container is being stripped from the stack.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,095,319 5/1914 Erwin 221222 X 1,107,270 8/1914 Deshler 22l222 X STANLEY H. TOLLBERG, Primary Examiner