|Publication number||US3456425 A|
|Publication date||Jul 22, 1969|
|Filing date||Sep 6, 1966|
|Priority date||Sep 6, 1966|
|Also published as||DE1586109A1|
|Publication number||US 3456425 A, US 3456425A, US-A-3456425, US3456425 A, US3456425A|
|Original Assignee||Bayer Ag|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (4), Referenced by (24), Classifications (8)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
July 22, 1969 L. PEZZA 3,456,425
PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Sept. 6, i966 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 July 22, 1969 1.. PEZZA 3,456,425
PACKAG ING MACHINE Filed Sept. 6, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. 2 23 INVENTOR LAZZARO PEZZA July 22, 1969 PEZZA 3,456,425
PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Sept. 6, 1966 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 FIG. 6 1 FIG. 3
1 I 50 INVENTOR i}? (Z LAZZARO PEZZA United States Patent 3,456,425 PACKAGING MACHINE Lazzaro Pezza, Bronx, N.Y., assignor to Baia Corporation, Jackson, Mich., a corporation of Michigan Filed Sept. 6, 1966, Ser. No. 577,291 Int. Cl. B65b 19/34 US. Cl. 53-236 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Apparatus is provided for packaging elongated members such as swabs having cotton-covered ends. A plurality of stations are indexed in rotation and each grip the central portion of a group of swabs simultaneously. The apparatus is arranged to simultaneously engage and release a group of such swabs from one moving conveyor and deposit it into a container or box without touching the cotton ends. More specifically, there is provided a gripping structure having moveable fingers and teeth arranged to pick up, grip and release cotton swabs without contacting the cotton ends. A single operating mechanism causes a lifting and gripping of one group of swabs from a conveyor or belt of less width than the length of the swabs, while a previously gripped group of swabs is simultaneously released into a container indexetd int position on a rotatable transfer table.
This invention releates to apparatus for packaging rodshaped articles, such as cotton-tipped swabs, and particularly to apparatus for picking up a number of swabs from a conveyor, spacing them properly, and placing them in a box of the proper shape to receive them.
Swabs of the type with which this invention is concerned are relatively stiff rods, usually slender, round sticks of wood or other suitable material, onto one or both ends of which small wads of sterile, soft material, such as cotton, have been wound. While other rod-shaped articles can also be packaged in apparatus of the type described hereinafter, swabs require special handling due to the necessity of keeping them sterile and not loosening the cotton tips, and the careful handling provided by the apparatus of this invention, in which only the central portion of each rod is touched, satisfactorily fulfills the packaging requirements. The apparatus packages the swabs in groups, which speeds up the operation but at the same time reduces the chance of abrasion of the cotton tips on one swab against those on others.
One of the main objects of the present invention is to provide apparatus for transferring cotton-tipped swabs from a conveyor to a box as eificiently as possible. Ancillary to the main object is the further object of transferring swabs in groups from the conveyor to the box, the entire procedure being carried out while maintaining the hygienic character of the swabs.
The apparatus comprises two movable structures side by side and a conveyor adjacent to one of them. One of the movable structures has receptacles for a plurality of boxes to receive the cotton-tipped swabs. The boxes are placed in the receptacles on the first rotating structure and are moved into a position adjacent to the other movable structure. The movement of the first structure is not continuous but takes place in a series of steps, each receptacle with its box moving from one step to the next.
The other movable structure is of the rotating type and comprises a plurality of gripping devices located at spaced stations and each capable of gripping the sticks of several swabs at a time. The second rotating apparatus also moves in a series of steps, one of which brings one of the gripping structures immediately over one of the boxes on the other rotating apparatus, whereupon the gripping structure descends and releases a set of swabs into place within the box.
The gripping structures are arranged so that instead of descending one at a time, they all descend simultaneously. At the same time that one of the gripping struc tures releases a set of swabs into one of the boxes, another gripping structure picks up another set of swabs from the conveyor which carries the swabs directly beneath the latter gripping structure in one of the other stations. The gripping structures are controlled by interconnecting members so that the gripping of one set of swabs takes place simultaneously with the release of another set.
The invention will be described in greater detail in the following specification together with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective fragmentary view of part of the mechanisms involved in the transfer of swabs from a conveyor to a finished package;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the second movable structure of FIG. 1 with part of the structure broken away to show the internal construction thereof;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the apparatus of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 shows the spacing between the swabs prior to being picked up;
FIG. 5 shows the spacing between the swabs when gripped by one of the gripping structures of FIG. 1;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a fragment of the gripping structure in the position shown in FIG. 5.
The apparatus in FIG. 1 includes a turntable which acts as a first moving structure and is provided with a series of receptacles 12, each of which is shaped to hold a box 13. The turntable 11 is rotated in a series of steps by means of a transmission belt 14 wrapped around the concave edge 16 of the turntable and around a pulley 17 connected to a driving motor (not shown).
The second moving structure is indicated by reference character 18 and is also a turntable that rotates upon an axle 19. The structure 18 includes four arms 21 between which are four elevator mechanisms 22 upon which individual gripping structures 23 are mounted. Each elevator structure 22 includes a block 24 slidably mounted on a vertical shaft 26 supported within a bracket 27.
At the end of each of the arms 21 is a pair of blocks 28 and 29 and between each block 28 on one arm and the block 29 on the other arm is a flexible coaxial drive cable 30, the outer part of which is attached at each end of the blocks 28 and 29. Also located at the end of each of the arms 21 and generally between blocks 28 and 29 is a pair of pivotally mounted arms 31 and 32 having posts 33 and 34, respectively. The inner cable of each of the coaxial transmission cables 30 is attached to the post 33 at the end of one of the arms 21 and a post 34 at the end of an adjacent arm 21. Each one of the tubular outer parts 30a of the flexible cable 30 is supported by a bracket 36 mounted on an adjacent arm 21 and extends toward an operating post 38 of the gripping structure 23. The tubular outer parts 30a are adapted to extend from the blocks 28 or 29 on one end and their length is fixed so that their opposite end terminates a predetermined distance from the operating post 38-. The inner cable 30b attached to post 33 on one end and to post 34 on its other end extends through a pair of adjacent tubular outer parts 30a and bridges the space between them where it is fixedly attached at its center portion to the operating post 38 for translation of this member to actuate the gripping structure 23 by means that will be described hereinafter.
Each one of the gripping structures 23 is adjustably supported by means of a Z-shaped member 39 mounted in a suitable manner on the elevator mechanism 22 and has the operating post 38 disposed in a slot 40 formed in a T-shaped operating member 42 movably mounted adjacent a body portion 43 of the gripping structure 23. The operating member 42 is adapted to rotate a plurality of elongated fingers 44 extending through apertures in the body portion 43, by means of a plurality of arms 46, each pivotally mounted on the operating member 42 on one end and on an adjacent finger 44 on the other end thereof. Also mounted on the body portion 43 of the gripping structure 23 are a pair of combs 48 each secured on opposite sides of the fingers 44 so as to extend in parallel planes which are parallel to the plane of the plurality of fingers 44. Each of the combs have a plurality of teeth 50 which cooperate with the fingers 44 to grip a plurality of swabs 52.
The swabs 52 are fed to the gripping structure 23 on a conveyor belt 54 which is operated by a conventional means (not shown) and has spaced elongated recesses or receptacles 56 for receiving an individual swab 52. The width of the conveyor belt 54 is less than the length of the swabs 52 so that portions thereof extend over each side of the conveyor belt 54.
Disposed on opposite sides of the conveyor belt 54 are a pair of drums 70 rotatably mounted in a housing, generally designated by the numeral 72, and driven by a chain drive 74 connected to a conventional gear train, generally designated by the numeral 76, mounted on the housing 72. Conventional means (not shown) drives the conveyor belt 54 in the direction indicated by arrow 78 so that the swabs 52 are fed beneath the gripping structure 23. A flexible retaining member 80 positions the swabs 52 in the receptacles 56 before they are fed underneath the gripping structure 23. In order to raise the swabs 52 from the receptacles 56 of the conveyor belt 54 for engagement with the gripping structure 23, a plurality of lifting members 82 are provided on each of the drums 70 that extend radially therefrom and have end portions that have a suitable configuration for engaging the portions of the swabs 52 that overlap on each side of the conveyor belt 54. The lifting members 82 on each drum 70 cooperate with the lifting members 82 on the other drum 70 so that the swabs 52 are engaged and lifted simultaneously from opposite sides by the lifting members 82. The gripping structure 23 is simultaneously lowered, in a manner to be described hereinafter, so that the teeth 50 of the combs 48 and the fingers 44 are positioned to engage a plurality of swabs 52.
As illustrated in FIGURES 4, 5, and 6, the fingers 44 have a cross section with a length substantially greater than its width so that the fingers will readily fit between adjacent swabs 52 that have been spaced by the receptacles 56 on the conveyor belt 54. As illustrated in FIGURE 4, when the swabs have been raised from the conveyor belt 54 by the lifting members 82 and the gripping structure 23 has been lowered into engagement with the swabs 52, the teeth 50 of the pair of combs 48 fit between alternate spacings between the swabs 52, and the fingers 44 are disposed in adjacent alternate spacings between the swabs 52 not occupied by the teeth 50. In this initial position, the fingers 44 are positioned so that the widths or narrow cross sections fit between the adjacent swabs 52. As illustrated in FIGURE 5, when the operating post 38 has been translated by the movement of the coaxial drive cable 30, in a manner to be described hereinafter, the fingers 44 are rotated 90 degrees so that the lengths or wider cross sections are positioned between the swabs 52. In this position, as illustrated in FIGURE 6, a pair of swabs 52 is engaged by a pair of notches 58 on opposite sides of a finger 44 and held securely against a pair of teeth 50 on opposite sides of a finger 44. The fingers 44 and teeth 50 are spaced apart by a distance substantially equal to twice the spacing between adjacent swabs 52 as positioned by the receptacles 56 on the conveyor belt 54.
It will be noted that during this pick up operation only the central portions of the swabs 52 are engaged by the operating parts. In this way a plurality of swabs 52 may be picked up from the conveyor belt 54 in a sanitary manner without the wads of cotton on opposite ends of the swabs 52 being touched by the operating parts of the packaging machine.
In order to operate the gripping structures 23, an actuating ram, generally designated by the number 90, is provided for operating the coaxial drive cables 30 by moving the relatively stiff inner cables 30b within the outer tubular cables 30a in order to actuate the operating posts 30. A shaft 92 is mounted on the housing 72 with an arm 94 on the upper end thereof engaged with a slideable actuating piston 96 which is mounted in sleeves 98 attached to a platform 100 suitably supported on the housing 72 by attaching means (not shown). The shaft 92 is rotated by a conventional operating mechanism (not shown) and imparts reciprocating motion to the piston 96 by means of a sliding connection consisting of a bolt 102 which is disposed in a slot 104 in the arm 94. At the opposite end of the piston 96, a wedge-shaped member 106 is mounted in a position to engage the post 33 and 34. When the actuating ram is operated so that the piston 96 is moved toward the second moving structure 18, the wedge-shaped member 106 engages the adjacent posts 33 and 34 and separates them causing pivoting of the arms 31 and 32 and movement within the respective outer tubular cables 30a of the adjacent pair of inner cables 30b on opposite sides of the wedge shaped member 106 for actuation of the pair of adjacent gripping structures 23.
As illustrated in FIGURE 1, when one of the gripping structures 23 is positioned over the conveyor belt 54 for picking up a plurality of swabs 52 the next adjacent gripping structure 23, in a clockwise direction, is positioned over the turntable 11 for depositing the plurality of swabs 52 in the box 13. Actuation of the ram 90 and the wedgeshaped member 106 causes movement of the posts 33 and 34 and of the attached pair of cables 30b, whereby the opearting posts 38 of the pair of adjacent gripping structures 23 are translated by the relatively stiff inner cable 30b so that the fingers 44 are rotated. Movement of the operating post 38 of the gripping structure 23 positioned over the conveyor belt 54 causes a plurality of swabs 52 thereunder to be picked up in the manner described above when the fingers 44 are rotated from the position illustrated in FIGURE 4 to the position illustrated in FIG- URES 5 and 6. Simultaneously the operating post 38 of the next adjacent gripping structure 23 in a clockwise direction from the gripping structure 23 located over the conveyor belt 54 is operated by the same movement of the ram 90 and wedge-shaped member 106. This next adjacent gripping structure 23 located over the turntable 11 is loaded with a plurality of swabs 52 which had been picked up previously from the conveyor belt 54 during a prior cycle which will be described hereinafter. Translation of the post 38 of the gripping structure 23 over the turntable 11 causes movement of the T-shaped operating member 42 which causes movement of the fingers 44 from the position shown in FIGURES 5 and 6 to the position in FIGURE 4 thereby releasing the plurality of swabs 52 engaged therewith into the box 13. Accordingly, in one movement of the actuating ram 90, two distinct operations occur simultaneously, viz, engagement of the gripping structure 23 with a plurality of swabs 52 which have been raised from the conveyor belt 54 by the lifting members 82, and simultaneous release of the plurality of swabs 52 held by the gripping structure 23 positioned over the turntable 11 thereby discharging these swabs 52 into the box 13.
In order to repeat the above operation for continuously loading the boxes 13 on the turntable 11, it is necessary to turn or index the seccond moving structure 18 in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIGURE 1 so that the gripping structuer 23 located over the conveyor belt 54 and loaded with a plurality of swabs 52 is subsequently positioned over the turntable 11 for discharge of the swabs 52. In order to accomplish this, the axle 19 is connected to a conventional power means (not shown) for indexing of the second moving structure 18 and the gripping structures 23 from a pick-up station over the conveyor belt 54 to a discharge station over the box 13 on turntable 11. The axle 19 is provided with a key 120 which is engaged with a sleeve, generally designated by the numeral 122, and is adapted to prevent relative rotary movement between the axle 19 and the sleeve 122 while allowing reciprocal motion between these parts by means of a keyway 124 in the sleeve 122. Thus, rotation of the axle 19 causes rotation of the sleeve 122 and second moving structure 18. The sleeve 122 may be integrally formed with the other portions of the second moving structure 18.
In addition to providing the keyway 124 and the key 120 to the sleeve 122 and the second moving structure 18 simultaneously with the axle 19, a cross bar 126 is engaged with the upper end of the axle 19 by means of a socket 128 fixedly secured into thereto by a conventional fastener 130. The outer ends of the cross bar 126 are engaged with a pair of vertical shafts 26 on opposite elevator mechanisms 22. These two elevator mechanisms 22 differ from the remaining two elevator mechanisms 22 in that the vertical shafts 26 extend upwardly through the brackets 27 for engagement with bearings 132 on the opposite ends of the cross bar 126. Accordingly, rotation of the axle 19 imparts rotational motion to the sleeve 122 and second moving structure 18 by means of a key 120 and keyway 124 and through the cross bar 126 which applies a rotational force through the vertical shafts 26 of two opposite elevator mechanisms 22.
In operation, one indexing cycle occurs as follows, when the ram 90 operates to cause the simultaneously actuation of the pair of gripping structures 23 located over the conveyor belt 54 and over the turntable 11 respectively, a plurality of swabs 52 are engaged over the conveyor belt 54 and a second plurality of swabs 52 are discharged simultaneously in box 13 on a turntable 11. After this first step, a lifting mechanism (not shown) engages a yoke 134 abutting a shoulder 136- on the sleeve 122, and raises the sleeve 122 and the second moving structure 18 to the position illustrated in FIGURE 3. During the upward movement of the second moving structure 18, the axle 19 and cross bar 126 remain fixed as the key 120 is adapted to slide vertically in the keyway 124 and the cross bar 126 slides on shafts 26 by means of bearings 132. Subsequently, the axle 19 is rotated in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIGURE 1 so that the gripping structure 23 over the conveyor belt 54 is indexed to the discharge station over the turntable 11. The lifting mechanism (not shown) then operates to lower the second moving structure 18 by allowing the sleeve 122 to slide down relative to the axle 19. Simultaneously, with this operation, the lifting members 82 on drums 70 have raised a plurality of swabs 52 from the conveyor belt 54 for engagement with the next gripping structure 23 which has been positioned by the rotation of the second moving structure 18. The ram 90 is again actuated to operate the adjacent pair of gripping structures 23 causing engagement of the swabs 52 supported by the lifting members 82 and discharge of a second plurality of swabs 52 into the box 13 in a manner similar to that described above.
In order to provide for overtr-avel of gripping structures 23 when moving into engagement with a plurality of swabs '52 supported by the lifting members 82, the elevator mechanisms 22 is adapted so that it may slide upwardly on the vertical shaft 26 after engagement with the plurality of swabs 52. This is accomplished by mean-s of a bushing 138 on the block 24 which readily slides on the verticle shaft 26. Thus the swabs 52 will not be broken if the downward movement of the second moving structure 18 passes beyond the position of the plurality of swabs 52 supported by the lifting members 82, the strength of the plurality of swabs 52 being sufiicient to support the weight on individual gripping structure 23.
The actuation of the lifting mechanism (not shown) to raise the second moving structure 18, and the conventional' power means (not shown) for rotating the axle 19 and the second moving structure 18, are synchronized with the operation of the actuating ram: to accomplish the above described procedure. The turntable 11 may be adapted so that it indexes upon each discharge of a plurality of swabs 52 into the box 13, or it may be adapted to index only after a plurality of discharges have been made into a particular box 13'.
A stripper may be slideably mounted on back of the elevator mechanism 22 adjacent the combs 48 for removing swabs 52 that may remain between the fingers 44 and teeth 50 after release thereof by rotation of the fingers 44. A spring 152 engaged on one end with the elevator mechanism 122 and on its opposite end with the stripper 150 biases the stripper toward the swabs 52. When swabs 52 are picked up between the teeth 50 and fingers 44, the stripper slides upwardly against the bias of spring 152 and as the fingers 44 are rotated to release the swabs, the stripper 150 slides downwardly to dis charge any swabs 52 that may remain between the fingers 44 and teeth 50.
Accordingly, a novel pack'aging machine is provided that transfers a plurality of cotton-tipped swabs from a conveyor to a box in an efficient and hygienic manner. The gripping structures have a novel arrangement of movable fingers and teeth adapted to pick-up and release swabs in a highly effective manner without contacting with the cotton on opposite ends of the swabs with the operating parts of the machine. The gripping structures are designed to operate in a highly desirable manner in that plurality of swabs are picked up by one gripping structure simultaneously with the release of a second plurality of swabs by an adjacent gripping structure. This highly efiicient dual operation occurs simultaneously upon the actuation of a single operating mechanism.
It will be understood that the foregoing description with the details of exemplary structure is not to be constructed in any way to limit the invention, but that modification may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.
What is claimed is:
1. Apparatus for packaging swabs in containers, said apparatus comprising: a rotating transfer device comprising a plurality of stations each comprising means to grip the central portions of a plurality of swabs at a time; swab conveying means to carry a succession of swabs to a position adjacent to a first one of said stations; actuating means connected to said gripping means to control the operation thereof to grip a plurality of swabs at said first station; container conveying means to carry a succession of containers past a second one of said stations, said actuating means being operable to release one plurality of swabs into one of said containers at said second station while another plurality of swabs is being gripped at said first station.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 in which said gripping means comprises a plurality of fingers, each of said fingers having a cross section with a cross sectional length greater than the cross sectional width for at least a part of the length of each of said fingers, the cross sectional length of each of said fingers near one end thereof being greater than the cross sectional length at a region closer to the center of each of said fingers whereby the outer ends of each of said fingers can fit between adjacent swabs; support means pivotally supporting said fingers near the inner end of each of said fingers; and means connected to all of said fingers to pivot them simultaneously whereby said outer end of each of said fingers is turned to form a barrier with the corresponding ends of adjacent fingers to prevent said swabs from becoming disengaged from said fingers.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 in which said gripping means comprises a comb having teeth spaced apart by a distance substantially twice the spacing between adjacent swabs on said swab conveying means.
4. The apparatus of claim 3 comprising a second comb substantially identical with said first comb and spaced parallel thereto, both of said combs being attached to said support means for said fingers, and said fingers extending between said teeth of said combs.
5. The apparatus of claim 1 in which said swab conveying means comprises a movable support having a width less than the length of said swabs and a plurality of evenly-spaced recesses on the surface of said movable support for receiving said swabs and means adjacent to said movable member and movable in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of said motion of said movable member to lift a plurality of swabs at .a time from said recesses.
6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said actuating means comprises a slidable actuating ram having a wedgeshape member on one end thereof engagable with a pair of pivotable members mounted on said rotating transfer device, said pair of pivotable members being connected to a pair of adjacent gripping means by a pair of relatively stiff cables, said actuating ram and wedge-shape member being operable to move said pair of pivotable members and said pair of cables to actuate simultaneously said pair of adjacent gripping means whereby one of said gripping means engages a plurality of swabs from said swab conveying means and the other one of said gripping means simultaneously releases a second plurality of swabs into said container on said container conveying means.
7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said container conveying means comprises a turntable with a plurality of receptacles having said containers disposed therein, said container conveying means having rotating means to successively position said containers under said gripping means whereby a plurality of swabs is deposited in each of said containers by said gripping means.
8. A packing apparatus for simultaneously engaging and releasing groups of elongated members such as swabs comprising: a movable housing, a pair of gripping means mounted on said housing, a pair of pivotable members mounted on said housing between said pair of gripping means, a pair of movable connecting means each attached on one end to one of said pivotable members and on the other end to one of said gripping means, and actuating means engageable with said pair of pivotable members and operable to simultaneously move said pair of pivotable members and said pair of connecting means to actuate said pair of gripping means whereby one of said gripping means engages a plurality of swabs .and the other gripping means simultaneously releases a second plurality of swabs.
9. The packing apparatus of claim 8 wherein said connecting means is a coaxial cable having an outer cable fixedly supported on said housing, and a movable relatively stiff inner cable attached on one end to one of said pivotable members and on its opposite end to one of said gripping means.
10. The packing apparatus of claim 8 wherein said actuating means comprises a slideable member mounted on said housing, said slideable member having a wedgeshaped member on one end thereof engageable with said pair of pivotable members for separating these members and moving said pair of connecting means to operate said pair of gripping means simultaneously.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,253,283 8/ 194-1 Minaker. 2,938,315 5/1960 Voullaire 53--247 X 3,168,204 2/1965 Voullaire 53247 X FOREIGN PATENTS 934,752 11/ 1955 Germany.
THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner NEIL ABRAMS, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.
STATES PATENT OFFICE ATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 5 6 ,i25
Dated Jul 22 Y 1969 Invent r-( LAZZARO PEZZA identified patent shown below:
r.- In the heading the asslgnee should be indicated as being .1
SWABET'I'ES, INC., Wayne, New Jersey, a corporation of New Jersey and not Biai Corporation, Jackson, Michigan, a corporation of Michigan SIGNED AND SEALED NQVZ'SW (SEAL) .Attest:
Edward M. Fletcher, Jr. L IA E, Auesting Offic 'SOHUYLER. JR. Commissione of Patent:
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|U.S. Classification||53/236, 53/251, 294/104, 53/247|
|International Classification||B65B19/00, B65B19/34|