US 3457693 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 29, 1969 D. L. JACKSON 3,457,693 v AUTOMATIC SORTING APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SOR'IING Filed June 2a, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR; DAV/D A. Q/ZMSO'Y A7- ,P/YEYS July 29, 1969 D. L. JACKSON AUTOMATIC SORTING APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SORTING 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed June 26, 1967 INVENTOR. DAM/0 Z. dqcxso v United States Patent 3,457,693 AUTQMATIC SORTING APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SORTING David L. Jackson, Doylestown, Pa., assignor to Thomas E:
Betts Corporation, Elizabeth, N.J., a corporation of New Jersey Filed June 26, 1967, Ser. No. 648,674 Int. Cl. 1365b 1/04, 3/04, 5/00 US. Cl. 5335 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A separating means secured to a vibrating sorting hopper having one ramp perpendicular to the hopper for accelerating one element from the rest in the hopper and a second ramp for feeding separating elements into the magazine. A shoulder breaks the interlock between two adjacent notched elements while the ramp accelerates the first element away from the second element to prevent reoccurrence of the interlock.
This invention relates to an automatic sorting apparatus and method and more particularly to an automatic sorting apparatus and method for sorting electrical connectors. Still more particularly, this invention relates to an automatic sorting apparatus and method for sorting electrical connectors having a pair of oppositely disposed notches.
I-leretofore, sorter devices have been known for the sorting of a conglomerate plurality of miniature components such as flanged or hollow parts. One of such sorting devices has included a bowl-like sorter mounted on a vibrator. The sorter has been formed interiorly with a continuous spiral ledge which originates on the floor of the sorter so that upon vibration of the sorter by the vibrator the miniature components have walked up the spiral ledge. In order to align the miniature components on the ledge, the sorter has been provided with a narrowed passageway near the top most portion of the ledge so as to segregate the miniature components into a single file. This passageway has communicated with a ramp tangentially disposed to the sorter down which the single file of miniature components descends into awaiting packages or cartridges.
These sorting devices, however, are not readily capable of sorting small or miniature elements having notches since the notches frequently permit interlocking of the element together. Furthermore, the heretofore sorting devices have not readily permitted sorting of such notched elements into a predetermined alignment so as to be capable of rapid feeding to other devices or machines for subsequent operations.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to sort a plurality of notched elements into a predetermined aligned array.
It is another object of the invention to separate interlocked notched elements from each other during sorting into an aligned array.
It is another object of the invention to provide a sorting apparatus and method for sorting a plurality of notched elements into an aligned series.
It is another object of the invention to provide a sorting apparatus which automatically sorts a plurality of diseparately arranged notched electrical connectors into an aligned series.
Briefly, the invention provides a sorting apparatus which includes a bowl-shaped hopper which is mounted on a vibrating means for oscillation in a rotary manner and a separating means secured to the hopper for separating a plurality of notched elements into an aligned array. The hopper has a continuous spiral ledge on the interior which communicates with the separating means near the uppermost portion of the ledge so as to provide a continuous path for a stream of the notched elements as the elements walk up the sides of the sorter. The separating means includes a cam track for unlocking adjacent notched elements, a first ramp in communication with the cam tract which is disposed substantially radially of the hopper on a downwardly directed angle from the ledge of the sorter and a second ramp which is substantially perpendicular to the first ramp and which is disposed on a downwardly directed angle from the first ramp. The second ramp of the separating means communicates at the lower end with a detachable magazine having at least one guide rail. The ramps of the separating means are sized to cooperate with the period of oscillation of the sorter so as to direct a separated element from the stream of elements into the magazine with a notch of the element enveloping, or riding, on the guide rail.
Upon filling of the magazine with an aligned array or series of notched elements, the magazine is detached from the hopper and transported to another station whereat the elements in the magazine can be further utlized. For example, where the elements are electrical connectors as described in copending US. application Ser. No. 555,745, filed June 7, 1966, the magazine can either be transported and positioned on or secured directly without detachment from the sorter to a feeding and staking machine such as described in copending US. patent application Ser. No. 648,795, filed June 26, 1967.
The method of the invention comprises the steps of feeding a stream of notched elements in a first path at a first speed moving the foremost element of the stream substantially perpendicularly of the first path in a first downward direction at a second speed greater than the first speed so as to move the foremost connector away from the remainder of the stream, and subsequently moving the separated foremost element perpendicularly of the first downward direction in a second downward direction for passage into a magazine.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description and appended claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a sorting apparatus of the invention;
FIG. 2 illustrates a partial perspective view of a separating means of the invention mounted on the hopper;
FIG. 3 illustrates a plan view of the sorting apparatus of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 illustrates a partial perspective view of an aligning cam on the spiral ledge of the hopper for righting a notched connector;
FIG. 5 illustrates a view taken on line 55 of FIG. 3; and
FIG. 6 illustrates a fragmentary view of the cam track and ramps of the separating means of the invention.
Referring to FIG. 1, sorting device 10 includes a bowlshaped hopper 11 which is mounted on a vibrator 12 in a manner such as to be oscillated in a rotary vibratory manner about the central axis of the hopper. The mounting of the hopper 11 on the vibrator 12 is of known construction and includes, for example, a plurality of springs secured to the hopper and a fixed portion of the vibrator, and a rotatable shaft fixed to the hopper and journalled in the vibrator centrally of the springs. The shaft and springs alternate the movement of the hopper so that the shaft causes rotation of the hopper through a predetermined path against the force of the springs while the springs subsequently rotate the hopper in an opposite direction to return the hopper to an initial position. The alternation Or oscillation of the hopper is performed rapidly so that the hopper vibrates in a rotary manner.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, the hopper 11 has a spirally formed ledge 13 on the interior of the upstanding wall 14 which originates on the floor 15 of the hopper 11 and terminates near the top of the wall 14. The ledge 13 which has a smooth base is sized with a width greater than the width or the thickness of the elements to be sorted. For example, where the elements are notched electrical connectors 16 as set forth in the above mentioned patent application, the ledge 13 is slightly greater than the width of a connector 16. The ledge 13 has a pair of cams 17, 18 formed thereon near the upper limit of the ledge 13 for turning each connector 16 upright, that is, on edge.
Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, each cam 17, 18 is similar to the other and is positioned near the edge of the ledge 13 in spaced relation to the wall 14. Each cam 17, 18 includes a forward portion 19 which rises from the base of the ledge 13 as a continuation of the ledge to a raised rear portion 20. The inside face 21 of the forward portion 19 is angularly sloped from a horizontal plane at the H ledge base to a vertical plane adjacent the rear portion in order to turn a connector 16 upright. The rear portion 20 of the cam is spaced from the wall 14 of hopper 11 a distance approximately equal to the thickness of a connector 16 (FIG. 5) so as to maintain a turned connector 16 in the upright position.
Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, a separating means 22 is secured on the hopper 11 about the ledge 13 downstream of cam 18. The separating means 22 includes a cam track 23 which is secured as by screws 24 to the Wall 14 and ledge 13 of the hopper 11 for guiding of the connectors 16 in cooperation with wall 14 out of the hopper 11. The cam track 23 has a first portion 24 adjacent cam 18 which is spaced interiorly of the wall 14 to define a passageway with the Wall 14 sized to the approximate thickness of a connector 16. The cam track 23 also has a second portion 25 which passes through a slot in the wall 14 substantially radially of the axis of the hopper 11.
Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the separating means 22 also includes a mounting block 26 which is secured to the side of hopper wall 14 adjacent cam track 23. The mounting block 26 has a shoulder 27 which is disposed oppositely of the junction between the portions 24, 25 of the cam track 23 and a pair of ramps 28, 29 which are in continuity with the ledge 13 of the hopper 11. The shoulder 27 projects through Wall 14 and is spaced from the cam track 23 a distance greater than the thickness of a connector 16 in order to permit a connector to be turned approximately 90 into a path radially of the hopper 11. The first ramp 28 is disposed between shoulder 27 and portion 25 of cam track 23 substantially radially of the hopper 11 and is sloped downwardly at an inclined angle of about 5. The second ramp 29 originates at the lower end of ramp 28 and is disposed substantially perpendicular to the ramp 28 at a downwardly inclined angle of about 45. Additionally, the separating means 22 includes a pair of spaced guide rails 30 which are secured to the mounting block 26 in an arcuate manner in alignment with ramp 29. The forward ends of the guide rails 30 are positioned above ramp 29 and spaced apart from each other suflicient distances to project into the notches 31 of a connector 16 on the ramp 29. The remainder of the guide rails 30 align and guide successive connectors 16 in a downwardly directed arcuate manner.
Referring to FIG. 2, the lowermost ends of guide rails 30 are secured to a bracket 31 fixed to the hopper 11 below mounting block 26. The bracket 31 has a slot 32 in alignment with the space between the guide rails 30 in order to allow any undersized connectors dropping from the ramp 29 or guide rails 31 to pass into a suitable receptacle (not shown). Additionally, the bracket 31 has a magazine 33 detachably mounted to the lower end in alignment with the guide rails for depositing of successive connectors 16. The magazine 33 can be attached in any suitable manner to the bracket 31, for example, the
magazine can be telescoped into a suitable socket in the lower end of the bracket 31. Further, the magazine can be of any suitable construction to receive the connectors 16, for example, the magazine can have a pair of spaced flanges 34 for projection into the notches of the connectors such that one-half of each connector is exposed to the exterior of the magazine.
In operation, a plurality of connectors 16 are deposited into the hopper 11 in a random manner. Next, the vibrator 12 is actuated to cause vibration of the hopper 11. As the hopper 11 vibrates, the connectors 16 are moved outwardly of the axis of the hopper 11 toward wall 14. Upon reaching ledge 13, the connectors 16 begin to move circumferentially of the hopper 11 and simultaneously move up the ledge 13. The connectors then form a stream of connectors moving continuously up ledge 13. Since the connectors 16 are formed with notches 37, adjacent connectors in the stream may become interlocked together.
Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, as the stream of connectors 16 move along the ledge 13, the individual connectors pass by the cams 1'7, 18 and become uprighted. Upon reaching the uppermost portion of the ledge 13 the uprighted connectors pass into the passageway formed by wall 14 and cam track 23 of the separating means 22.
Referring to FIG. 6, as the connectors, some of which may be interlocked as shown, continue to move into the separating means 22 the foremost connector is directed by the shoulder 27 and cam tract 23 from the substantially circumferential direction of the ledge to a substantially radial direction from the hopper axis. In passing from one sense of direction to the other, the foremost connector slides about the corner of shoulder 27 and thus pivots on itself out of interlocking engagement (if so interlocked) with the next connector in the stream. Upon moving into the radial directed path the foremost connector slides from ledge 13 down ramp 28 which originates thereat under the force of gravity. The movement of the foremost connector is then arrested at the end of ramp 28 by the side Wall 35 of ramp 29. Subsequently, since the hopper 11 is being oscillated in a rotatable manner, the relatitve inertia of the hopper and connector allows the side wall 36 of ramp 28 at the bottom of ramp 28 to kick the foremost connector positioned at that point down the ramp 29 and onto the guide rails 30. The connector then continues down the guide rails 30 under the force of gravity. The following connectors in the stream of connectors in the separating means 22 and on the ledge 13 follow in the same manner continuously.
The movement of one connector down ramp 28 is at a velocity sufiicient to position the connector at the bottom of the ramp 28 for delivery into ramp 29 before the next connector in the stream begins to move down the ramp 28. This velocity is ensured by the slope of the ramp 28 as well as the degree of vibration and speed of the stream of the connectors on the ledge. Furthermore, where two connectors have been interlocked before passing around the shoulder 27, movement of the first connector around the shoulder not only breaks the interlock but also allows the first connector to be accelerated down the ramp 28 away from the second connector before the second connector can be pivoted into the ramp 28. Thus, subsequent interlocking of adjacent connectors in the separating means is prevented.
Referring to FIG. 2, after moving down the guide rails 38, the connectors move onto the spaced flanges of the magazine 33 until the magazine is loaded.
The loaded magazines are replaced with empty magazines during operation of the sorter device while the con nectors being separated within the separating device are allowed to back up on the guide rails 30. The backing-up of these connectors can be caused by manually holding the foremost connector on the guide rails or by inserting a stop in the path of the connectors on the guide rails.
The invention provides a sorting apparatus which is automatic in operation. In addition, the apparatus is capable of sorting elements, especially notched elements at a high rate, for example, in the case of electrical connectors as described in the above patent application, the sorting apparatus sorts up to 15,000 per hour. Further, the sorting apparatus is capable of feeding an aligned array of sorted elements continuously to other devices for performing subsequent operations on the elements or of feeding the sorted elements into successive magazines.
The sorting apparatus automatically sorts elements of relatively small or miniature size at appreciable speeds and thus avoids any need for a time-consuming manual sorting of the elements, especially, notched elements as described above.
While the apparatus and method of the invention has been described in relation to electrical connectors having a pair of oppositely disposed notches, the invention is also capable of sorting connectors with only one notch as well as other elements with one or two notches which may become interlocked during a feeding operation prior to sorting.
Having thus described the invention, it is not intended that it be so limited as changes may be readily made therein without departing from the scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the foregoing abstract of the disclosure, and the subject matter described above and shown in the drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
What is claimed is:
1. A sorting apparatus comprising:
a hopper having a wall and a continuous spiral ledge on the interior of said wall for movement of a stream of elements thereon,
vibrator means for vibrating said hopper to move the stream of elements along said ledge, and
separating means secured to said Wall in continuity with the upper end of said ledge for separating successive elements from the stream into an aligned array, said separating means including a first rarnp having one end in communication with said ledge, said first ramp being disposed substantially radially of said hopper on a downwardly directed angle from said ledge for movement of the foremost element of the stream thereon at an accelerated speed away from the remaining elements of the stream on said ledge.
2. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein said separating means includes a shoulder disposed between said ledge and said first ramp and a cam track spaced from said shoulder to define a passageway for the elements, said shoulder and cam track being spaced apart a distance to pivot the foremost element on the central vertical axis thereof away from the next succeeding element during passage from said ledge to said first ramp in said passageway.
3. A sorting apparatus es set forth in claim 1 wherein said separating means further includes a second ramp in communication with said first ramp, said second ramp being disposed substantially perpendicularly to said first ramp on a downwardly directed angle therefrom for movement of a separated element thereon out of said separating means.
4. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 3 wherein said second ramp is disposed in communication with the lower opposite end of said first ramp for movement of a separated element at the lower end of said first ramp into said second ramp during vibration of said hopper.
5. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 3 wherein the wall of said first ramp at said lower end is disposed in facing relation to said second ramp for kicking an element positioned at said lower end of said first ramp into said second ramp.
6. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 3 which further comprises magazine means positioned in alignment with the lower end of said second ramp for receiving separated elements of the stream of elements sequentially.
7. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 6 wherein said magazine is detachably secured'to said separating means.
8. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein said ledge has at least one cam thereon positioned upstream of said separating means in spaced relation to said wall, said cam having an angularly sloped face rising from said ledge into a substantially vertical place opposite said wall for turning an element upright.
9. A sorting apparatus comprising a hopper having a wall and a continuous spiral ledge on the interior of said wall for movement of a stream of connectors thereon,
vibrator means for vibrating said hopper in an oscillating manner about the axis thereof :to move the stream of connectors along said ledge, and separating means positioned adjacent said wall in continuity with an upper portion of said ledge for separating successive connectors from the stream into an aligned array, said separating means having means for turning each successive connector of the stream substantially perpendicularly on the axis thereof and means for moving the turned connectors sequentially transversely off of said ledge and subsequently out of said separating means in aligned array. 10. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 9 wherein each element has at least one notch therein and wherein said separating means includes at least one guide rail for projecting into a notch of each connector to maintain successive separated connectors in alignment.
11. A sorting apparatus as set forth in claim 10 further comprising a magazine positioned downstream of said separating means in alignment therewith to receive the aligned array of separated connectors, said magazine having at least one flange sized to project into a notch of each connector to retain the alignment of the connectors.
12. A method of sorting comprising the steps of feeding a continuous stream of notched elements in a first upwardly directed spiral path at a first speed,
sequentially moving the foremost elements of said stream substantially perpendicularly of said first path in a first downward direction at a second speed greater than said first speed to separate said foremost elements from said stream, and
subsequently sequentially moving said foremost elements perpendicularly of said first downward direction in a second downward direction to form an aligned array of unconnected elements.
13. A method as set forth in claim 12 wherein each said foremost element is moved into said second downward direction during movement of the next foremost element in said first downward direction.
14. A method as set forth in claim 13 wherein each said foremost connector moves under gravity in said first downward direction.
15. A method as set forth in claim 12 which further comprises the step of receiving and collecting a plurality of successively aligned elements of the aligned array of elements in a magazine for subsequent distribution.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,913,099 11/1959 Saltz 221171 3,031,060 4/1962 Philippovic 198-33 3,125,208 3/1964 Secunda 19833 3,300,022 1/1967 Sterling 198-33 FOREIGN PATENTS 111,271 6/ 1964 Czechoslovakia.
EDWARD A. SROKA, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 19833