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Publication numberUS3475878 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 4, 1969
Filing dateOct 22, 1965
Priority dateOct 22, 1965
Publication numberUS 3475878 A, US 3475878A, US-A-3475878, US3475878 A, US3475878A
InventorsWest Carl J Jr
Original AssigneeMargaret R Ross
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Packaging machine
US 3475878 A
Abstract  available in
Images(13)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR

PACKAGING MACHINE l3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed 001; 22, 1965 Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR

PACKAGING MACHINE l3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Oct. 22, 1965 Nov. 4, 1969 c J, WEST, JR 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1965v I 13 Sheets-Sheet 5 Nov. 4, 1969 c, w s'r, J 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1965 13 Sheets-Sheet 4 Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1965 13 Sheets-Sheet 5 Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR

PACKAGING MACHINE v 13 Sheets-Sheet 7 Filed Oct. 22. 1965 Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1 965 13 Sheets-Sheet 8 w www wwwflifinww J N HNH N J W r 1\ Nov. 4, 1969 c, w s'r, JR 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1965 .13 Sheets-Sheet 9 Nov. 4, 1969 C. J. WEST, JR

PACKAGING MACHINE 13 Sheets-Sheet 10 Filed Oct. 22, 1965 WFJWMMI II 11 II II II II n u u u u n Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST, JR 3,475,878

PACKAGING MACHINE Filed Oct. 22, 1965 13 Sheets-Sheet 11 Jig. Z5.

X 15 I i Nov. 4, 1969 C.-J. WEST, JR-

PACKAGING MACHINE 13 Sheets-Sheet 12 Filed Oct. 22, 1965 Nov. 4, 1969 c. J. WEST; JR

PACKAGING MACHINE '13 Sheets-Sheet 15 Filed Oct. 22. 1965 United States Patent 3,475,878 PACKAGING MACHINE Carl J. West, Jr., deceased, late of Chicago, Ill., by Margaret Ruth Ross West, executor, Chicago, Ill., assignor to Margaret R. Ross West, Geneva, Ill.

Filed Oct. 22, 1965, Ser. No. 502,657 Int. Cl. B651) 47/04, 51/26, 61/08 US. Cl. 5330 22 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates to improvements in two-web packaging machines. More particularly the invention relates to the novel combination and assembly of a machine especially adapted for the use of soft thermoplastic film in the formation of packages containing items of various sizes and configurations.

More specifically, the machine includes a driven endless conveyor having openings or recesses formed therein and into which select areas of the soft film of thermoplastic material arranged thereon are pushed so as to form longitudinal and lateral rows of merchandise receiving pockets therein. Owing to the soft nature of the film and the fact that several rows of pockets are formed over the width of the film, novel means is provided for forming select pockets initially and subsequently forming other pockets while retaining the means forming the initially produced pockets in place in such pockets. Following the formation of the several rows of longitudinally and laterally aligned pockets, the pocketed film is advanced beneath a filling station and subsequently thereto, a second or overlay film is disposed over the now filled pockets.

The two films advance in unison beneath novel means provided to insure proper registration of the overlay film in the event it bears printed matter, and the two films then advance as a unit beneath novel heat sealing means which performs longitudinal seals in the areas between and laterally outside the longitudinal rows of filled pockets. Continued advance of the now partially sealed films through the machine carries them beneath transverse sealers which function to seal the Webs of the film material One to the other between the longiudinally spaced rows of pockets whereupon the film is carried beneath longitudinal slitters and then to a novel trans verse slitter so as to separate each sealed package one from the other. The sealed separated packages then fall upon a conveyor so as to be carried away from the machine. In an alternate structure herein disclosed, the sealing is accomplished by single means.

The operation of the machine produces packages having any required depth and of uniform size from soft film without the use of any vacuum or heat for softening the film, and the sealed areas are uniformly sealed hermetically irrespectively of any wrinkles which may be present in the film having the pockets formed therein. The formed packages have uniformity of appearance.

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a novelly constructed machine for forming and filling packages comprised of sof film.

Another object is to provide, in a machine of the 3,475,878 Patented Nov. 4, 1969 character described, novel means for forming a series of pockets in soft film.

Another object is to provide novel means for heat sealing two soft films one to the other.

Another object is to provide a novel mounting for heaters adapting them to intermittently engage and advance a predetermined distance with overlay films passing therebeneath.

Another object is to provide novel means to compensate for non-register of a pre-printed top film relative to an underlying pocketed film.

Another object is to provide novel means for holding and spreading film sections as they are severed from a single sheet assembly.

Another object is to provide a novel method of forming a series of pockets in a film of packaging material.

Another object is to provide a novel method for sealing two films of packaging material one to the other as they advance through a packaging machine.

Another object is to provide novel means for producing soft film packages having greater depth and'interior capacity than heretofore possible.

Another object is to provide apparatus for producing soft film packages having uniform improved appearance.

Another object is to provide, in a packaging machine, novel common means for heatsealing the entire perimeter of the packages in a single operation.

Another object is to provide apparatus of the character referred to which is very efiicient in its operation, entirely automatic in operation, capable of high speed operation and production, and easy to maintain serviceable.

The structure by means of which the above noted and other objects and advantages of the invention are attained will be described in the following specification, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, showing preferred illustrative embodiments of the invention, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the packaging apparatus, illustrating the assembly in a diagramatical assembly.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view showing the common drive connections between components of the apparatus.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary plan view of the pocket forming mechanism.

FIG. 5 is a vertical sectional view of the pocket forming mechanism, as viewed substantially along line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary side elevational view of the mounting and feed system for the overlay film.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the mechanism operable to insure proper register of the overlay film with pockets formed in the bottom film.

FIG. 8 is a detail sectional view taken on line 88 of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary plan view of the longitudinal heater mechanism.

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the heater mechanism shown in FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a detail sectional view taken on line 1111 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a detail sectional view taken on line 1212 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a detail sectional view showing the heater frame, taken on line 13-13 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 14 is a plan view of the transverse heater mechanism, showing one side only.

FIG. 15 is a vertical sectional view of the FIG. 14

mechanism, taken substantially on line 15-15 of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a detail sectional view taken on line 16-16 of FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 is an end elevational view of the transverse heater mechanism shown in FIGS. 14 and 15.

FIG. 18 is a fragmentary plan view of the longitudinal slicer mechanism.

FIG. 19 is a detail vertical sectional view of the longitudinal slicer, taken substantially on line 19-19 of FIG. 18.

FIG. 20 is a plan view of the transverse cutter, showing the intermediate portion thereof broken away.

FIG. 21 is an end elevational view of the cutter shown in FIG. 20.

FIG. 22 is a vertical sectional view showing a fragment of the transverse cutter in elevation, taken substantially along line 22-22 of FIG. 21, and showing the conveyor associated with it.

FIG. 23 is a schematic view illustrating the path travelled by the transverse cutter, and showing the conveyor associated with it, but omitting the film packages.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a substantially square package formed by the disclosed structure.

FIG. 25 is a fragmentary plan view of a modified form of heat sealer.

FIG. 26 is a side elevational view of the heat sealer mechanism shown in FIG. 25.

FIG. 27 is a detail sectional view taken substantially on line 2727 of FIG. 26.

Referring to the machine as a whole, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, said machine comprises an elongated built up frame structure 11 having at opposite ends thereof transverse shafts 12, 12a each carrying sprockets 13 over which are trained endless chains 14 supporting an endless conveyor 15 which is firmly attached to said chains. The endless conveyor 15 is in elfect a belt having a width substantially bridging the area between the sides of the frame and, it is, in this embodiment, formed with three parallel rows of substantially square holes 16 that are uniformly spaced apart longitudinally and laterally. The conveyor is perhaps best illustrated in FIG. 23 where it will be observed that it has a series of longitudinal grooves 15a and transverse grooves 15b in its top surface located on the side margins and one in each space between adjacent holes 16 for purposes to be described presently. The upper run of the conveyor extends in a horizontal plane and it is driven by a motor 11a that is common to all components of the machine.

PACKAGE FILM FEED Mounted on one end of the frame 11, below the plane of conveyor 15 (left hand end as shown in FIG. 1) there is mounted for free rotation a roll 17 of soft web film. Although any suitable means may be provided to tension the film web 17 a, the web leaving the roll preferably is trained over a pair of idler rollers 18, then over a dancer roller 19 and finally over a third idler roller 21 which is disposed substantially in the plane of the top surface of conveyor 15, whereupon the film web 17a is laid over the conveyor 15 so as to travel therewith. The dancer roller is associated with suitable brake means acting on the roll to prevent unwanted unwinding when the machine is brought to a stop and to maintain the web tensioned. This brake means is substantially duplicated in structure to be described later. The film web 1712 is advanced over a series of forming rails 22 (FIG. 2) arranged on the frame structure to overlie the conveyor in the areas between the rows of holes therein and extend inwardly a short distance from the feed end of the machine. The web is essentially detached from the conveyor but is movable in unison therewith by the forming assembly now to be described.

POCKET FORMING ASSEMBLY The forming assembly, generally indicated at 23 in FIGS. 1 and 2, is best illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5. It is mounted in upstanding end brackets 24 secured to frame 11. These brackets constitute bearing means for a pair of shafts 25, 26 which bridge the frame structure above the conveyor 15. The shaft 26 carries on its outermost end a sprocket 27 that nests in a drive chain 28 (FIG. 3) that is trained over a pair of idler sprockets 29, 31 and thence down around a drive sprocket 169 mounted firmly on conveyor shaft 12. Upon reference to FIG. 5, it will be observed that the idler sprocket 31 is mounted for vertical adjustment so as to compensate for wear and. to synchronize the forming assembly drive with the rate of speed of the conveyor. H

The shaft 26 carries three separate sprockets 33 (two shown in FIG. 4) firmly thereon and spaced apart so as to register one on the longitudinal axis of each row of holes 16 in the underlying conveyor .15. The center sprocket 33 mounts an endless chain assembly 34, which is trained also over a sprocket 35 journalled for free rotation on the free end of an arm 36 mounted securely at its other end on a cross bar 37 bridging and secured firmly to the bearing brackets 24. The two outside sprockets 33 on said shaft 26 (one shown in FIG. 4) each mounts a like endless chain assembly 38 which are trained respectively oversprockets 39mounted for free rotation on a shaft 25. It will thus be noted that the two outside chain assemblies 38 are of length less than the length of chain assembly 34 by an amount equal to the center spacing between adjacent holes 16 in the conveyor 15.

Each chain assembly 34-38 carries spaced therealong a plurality of plungers or shoes 41 that extend outwardly therefrom. During machine operation these plungers are designed to successively enter the succession of holes 16 as the conveyor passes therebeneath. This is accomplished by spacing them apart on the chains distances equal to the center spacing of each hole. Now, as the conveyor 15, having the film web 17a laidthereover, advances beneath the assembly 23, the plungers 41 successively engage the film and push it down into the aligned conveyor holes so as to form merchandise pockets 20. Since soft film is used, it is essential, to prevent a formed pocket from pulling out during formation of a successive pocket in the same row or-one spaced laterally therefrom, that the center row of pockets be formed first, and while still being held by the forming plungers 41, the pockets on each side thereof are formed. This sequence of pocket formation is accomplished by the herein disclosed forming assembly because, as shown, the chain-plunger assembly 34-41 at the center engages the film first and forms a center row of pockets. As the conveyor, film and said chain-plunger assembly advance in unison, the two side chain-plunger assemblies 38-41 are brought into engagement with the film to form the pockets in the side or outside rows. During this side pocket formation the effective plunger 41 on the center chain-plunger assembly 34-41 has remained in the pocket just formed. Thus, all material required to form the pockets in the side rows of pockets is drawn from the side areas of the film 17a without disturbing or deforming the center line of pockets. The outside chain-assemblies also are each of sutficient effective length so that the plunger thereof which has just formed a pocket in the film will remain in the formed pocket during the formation of the suc: ceeding film pocket to prevent said first formed pocket from being deformed.

FILLING STATION The conveyor 15 and film 17a with the pockets formed therein continue to travel upon leaving the pocket forming assembly 23 so as to carry the three rows of formed pockets beneath a filling station 42. This station may comprise any apparatus or conveyor means specially adapted for the merchandise to be placed in the pockets or, in lieu thereof, the items may be placed in the pockets by hand. However, because of the speed of machine operation automatic delivery means-is preferred, Since such filling means are generally known and form .no part of the present invention it is not detailed.

OVERLAY FILM Following filling of the pockets with the requisite item, the filling pockets continue to advance along the machine length and an overlay film 43 (FIG. 1) is placed over the filled pockets. This overlay film is carried in the form of a roll 44 supported on an auxiliary frame 40 (FIG. 6) mounted on the upper side of the main frame 11. As shown in said figure, the roll 44 is carried on a mandrel 45 loosely supported in bearing blocks 46 (one shown). The web 43 leaving said roll is trained over an idler roller 47, a dancer roller 48, an idler roller 49 and thence downwardly between idler rollers 51, 52, the latter being located so that the web 43 leaving the same lies fiat over the pocketed web 17:: and advances therewith. This web may be slightly narrower than the bottom web 17a because no material is used to form pockets therein.

FILM FEED CONTROL It not infrequently occurs that printed matter appears on the overlay film 43 that is intended to be visible on the formed package. It therefore is necessary to provide means to effect such register, as for example, by advancing the overlay film relative to the bottom film should it lag behind the bottom film. To this end a photo-cell 53 (FIG. 1) is arranged to scan the printed film after it leaves the roll and before it is laid on the conveyor system. Should the printed matter be out of register, as by dragging of the roll, novel registering means 54, shown in FIGS. 1, 6, 7 and 8, is actuated to return the film to register.

The registering means 54 is driven by a chain 55 timed to the main conveyor. The chain 55 is trained over a sprocket 56 mounted firmly on a transverse shaft 57 journalled at its ends in bearing bracket 58. This shaft carries a pair of spaced apart sprockets 59. A companion parallel idler shaft 60 is also journalled in brackets 58 which also carries firmly sprockets 61 disposed in longitudinal alignment with sprockets 59. Endless chains 62 are trained one over each pair of aligned sprockets 59, 61. These chains are bridged by a series of bars 63 secured firmly thereto. The bars 63 are not alike, As shown, select bars, identified as 63a, are arranged in the series of bars so that one of these bars will register with a transverse groove b in the surface of conveyor 15 as they are carried around the sprockets during machine operation.

In the present disclosure there are eight bars 63 arranged between each bar 63a so as to provide proper spacing and groove registration. The bars 63 carry on their outside face a layer 64 of rubber or other material that will have frictional engagement with the overlay film (FIG. 8) when carried into contact therewith. The other bars 63 each carry a spring loaded strip 65 nested therein which has at least two pins 66 projecting upwardly (inwardly of the chain contour). As the conveyor 15 with the films thereon advances beneath the registering means and when there is no misregister, the spring loaded strips 65 perform no function. However, means responsive to the photo-cell registering non-registration of the films, is brought into action to render strips 65 effective.

Now, when the photo-cell 53 impulse calls for additional overlay film to be fed to the machine, a solenoid 67 (FIG. 8) is energized to pull down a rock lever 68 fixed on a shaft 69. This shaft carries a pair of cam shoes 70 which normally are in an elevated or ineffective position. However, rotation of shaft 69, counterclockwise, rocks the cam shoes 70 in a downward direction thus locating them in the path of the pins 66 on the spring pressed strips 65. As the bar carrying the spring pressed strip 65 advances beneath the cam shoes 70, said shoes engage with and depress the pins 66 thus projecting the strips 65 below the bottom surface of the bar 63a mounting the same. When so projected, the strip 65 will bear down upon the overlay film and press it into the underlying registering groove 15b in the conveyor 13. The additional film required to accommodate the depressed strip and enter said groove will be obtained from the supply roll inasmuch as the rubber coated bars 63 on the assembly will frictionally hold the film in the area that has already passed beneath the strip 65.

Should the film feed to the machine be too rapid, the solenoid 67, being deenergized, allows the lever 68 to move upwardly, releasing the strip as aforesaid, and at the same time applies brake means to the film feed. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 8, the brake means comprises a strap 71 wrapped around one end of the idler roller 51 and connected to lever 68 and which tightens about roller 51 when the lever 68 is in elevated position, thus offering resistance to its free rolling and slowing down the rate of film feed.

LONGITUDINAL HEATER The advancing films now pass beneath a longitudinal heater station 72a which functions to heat seal the two films longitudinally between and on each outside edge of the packages formed in the film. The heater means is best shown in FIGS. 9 through 13. In the FIG. 9 disclosure there is shown but two of the sealers whereas it is to be understood that in the machine shown there will be four spaced apart transversely of the conveyor. These heat sealers are each complete in themselves, consequently only one will be described in detail and like numerals will identify corresponding parts 'of each.

Referring now to the elevational view of the heat sealing means, as shown in FIG. 10, the heat sealers each include a set of three endless steel belts or bands 72, 73, 74 which are trained over large rollers 75, 76, each channeled on its periphery to receive the three bands side by side. These rollers are carried on shafts 77, 78 respectively, that are journalled in bearing structures 79 supported firmly on the top of frame 11. The lower reaches of these bands travel over the top surface of the overlay film, lying in substantial contact with the sealing areas between adjacent packages and along the outside edges of the transversely outermost packages. The intermediate band 73 constitutes the heating band, whereas the related outside bands 72, 74 constitute cooling bands that function to prevent melting or fusing of the film areas immediately adjacent to band 73.

Suitable tension rolls 80, 81 are associate with the upper reaches of said bands. As shown, the roll 80 bears downwardly on the two outer bands 72, 74, whereas the roll 81 bears down on the center band 73.

Arranged above the films, between rollers 75, 76, is a heater element assembly generally indicated at 82. This assembly is supported by upstanding bearing brackets 83 (FIGS. 9, 10) in which are journalled a pair of parallel rods 84, 85, that bridge the apparatus. The rod 85 provides pivotal mounting for a plurality of elongated bars 86 from each of which is suspended a heater shoe 87 having considerable length and each of which, when in use, lies against the top surface of a related center band 73. Springs 88, arranged on suspension studs 89 normally urge the heater shoes 87 into such contact. The rod 84, which extends through and is secured firmly to the bars 86, extends through a vertically elongated hole 91 in bearing bracket 83. A compression spring 92 normally urges the bars 86, the rod 84 and the shoes mounted thereon, downwardly at all times. When it is desired to raise the shoes off the bands, as when the apparatus is idle, a lever 93 carrying a cam 94 is rocketed to the left, as shown, to carry the cam beneath rod 84 to elevate same. The bars 86 each carry a series of spring pressed rollers 95 that bear at all times on the outside bands 72, 74, to hold them in engagement with the underlying film.

It should be evident that during machine operation, the bands 72, 73 and 74 travel in the same direction and at the same speed as the films and that longitudinal heat sealing is accomplished as the film passes beneath TRANSVERSE HEATERS The transverse heat sealing means 96 is best shown in FIGS. 14-17. As shown, this assembly is likewise supported above the conveyor and the films thereon as by means of upstanding rectangular plates 97 arranged one on each side of frame 11 and journalling a series of four shafts 98 that extend transversely over the conveyor between said plates. The shafts are arranged in pairs, one at each end of the plates and the shafts of each pair are disposed one above the other. These shafts mount sprockets 99, one adjacent each end just inwardly of plates 97, which carry endless chains 101 having thin spaced strips 102 of stainless steel or the like that are advanced at the same rate of speed as the rate of advance of the conveyor and film. Thus one strip will lie over the transverse sealed area of the film during its advance. The drive means for these chains, as well as the drive for the heater assembly will be described hereinafter.

The heater assembly likewise is driven at a speed corresponding to the rate of conveyor travel. This assembly includes a series of stud shafts journalled in each plate 97. Referring specifically to FIG. 14, the stud shafts shown are duplicated on each side of the machine. As illustrated, there are two stud shafts 103, 104 journalled in each plate 97 and which extend transversely outwardly through auxiliary bearings 105 and each carrying on its end a sprocket 106. These sprockets each have trained over them a chain 107 (FIG. 3) that leads to a power source for rotating said shafts in unison. Associated with each shaft 103, 104, and located in advance (toward the feed end of the machine) of each shaft but in horizontal alignment, are two sprocket shafts 108, 109 respectively, mounting sprockets 110, 111 respectively. The shafts 103, 104 carry similar sprockets 112, 113 respectively, and an endless chain 114 is trained over sprockets 110- 112 whereas an endless chain 115 is trained over the sprockets 111-113. These chains 114 and 115 are rotated in unison when the driven shafts 103 and 104 are rotated in unison and their rate of travel is coincident with the rate of travel of chains 101.

The two sets of chains 114 and 115 jointly constitute a mounting for a carrier for transverse heater elements. As best shown in FIG. 17, there are two carriers 116 which are supported on a pair of laterally extending rods 117 secured at their ends one to each set of chains 114 and 115. These rods each mount a pair of rollers 118 (FIG. 16) spaced apart longitudinally on said rods. The carriers 116, which are alike, each comprise a horizontal rail having upstanding portions having holes therein to receive the rollers 118 carried by the respective chains. As the chains 114 and 115 advance around their sprockets, the carriers 116 move in unison through an oval pattern in a vertical plane. More particularly, as viewed in FIG. 15, the members 116 are shown in elevated position on the upper run of the chains 114, 115. As said runs advance in the direction of the feed end of the machine (to the left) the carriers 116 are carried downwardly in unison around the related sprockets 110, 111 and then move in the opposite direction (direction of conveyor travel) and at the same rate of speed as said conveyor.

These two carriers 116 are interconnected at their lower ends rigidly by transverse bars 119 (three used). Each of these bars 119 has vertical holes therein each to receive therethrough a stud 120 mounted firmly on and extending upwardly from a heated shoe 121. There are therefore three heater shoes 121 and each is normally urged downwardly by springs 122 (FIG. 17) surrounding said studs 120. The cross bars 119 and shoes 121 are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction of the machine distances equal to the spacing between packages formed in the film. When carried downwardly, during rotation of chains 114, 115, the shoes are carried into pressure contact with the strips 102, which underlie them, and the shoes and strips travel in unison with the film on the conveyor so as to heat seal the transverse areas of the film lying therebeneath. When the shoes are lifted off of the strips 102 said strips will remain in contact with the sealed areas for a considerable distance of the advance of the film to alford cooling of the transverse seams without rupture.

LONGITUDINAL CUTTERS The packages are now sealed on all four sides and these sealed packages, still integral with the film, are then advanced beneath longitudinal cutters that sever the film between the longitudinal rows of packages and trim the side edges of the film therefrom. The longitudinal cutter 123 is best illustrated in FIGS. 18 and 19. In FIG. 18 there is shown but one longitudinal half of the conveyor and film disclosing two slitters, it being understood that this structure is repeated for the other half of the conveyor. As shown, a shaft 124 bridges the conveyor transversely and is journalled at its ends in rigid bearings 125. The shaft extends beyond the bearing illustrated and carries a sprocket 126 over which is trained a chain 127 leading to a power source to be described hereinafter. The shaft mounts a series of cutter discs 128, one in vertical register with the longitudinal center of each longitudinal seam in the package film. As the film advances beneath the rotating discs 128 it is slit longitudinally medially of the sealed area. In order to insure that the film is held firmly during the slitting, a pair of pressure-spreader rolls 129 are arranged to bear against the film just ahead of its engagement by the cutter discs. These rolls are each carried on an arm 131 freely journalled on a transverse shaft 132. Springs 133 normally urge the arms 131 downwardly to maintain surface contact between the rolls and the film.

In order to dispose of the narrow strip 134 of film severed from the side edges of the film, a rewind wheel 135 is mounted above the slitter discs and one at each side of the conveyor, on a shaft 136. As best shown in FIG. 19, the shaft has at one end a pulley groove 137. A pulley 138, but of a larger diameter, is mounted on the cutter drive shaft 124 and a belt 139 is trained in said grooves and pulley. As a consequence, the rewind wheel 135 is rotated during rotation of the cutter discs but at greater speed so as to rewind the edge strip 134. Preferably, a tension or guide bar 141 is arranged just above the conveyor and in advance of the rewind wheel to guide and tension the film strip while it is being rewound.

TRANSVERSE SLIITER The now separate longitudinal strips of packages advance from the longitudinal slitters to means for severing the packages from the strips. Because this cutting operation occurs during high speed travel of the conveyor and package film strips, it is necessary to use cutter mechanism that is disposed at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the conveyor. As best shown in FIG. 23, the cutter operates along a line 142 arranged at a 30 angle to the desired cutting line which is normal to the longitudinal axis of the conveyor. As described in detail hereinafter, the cutting elements are carried by endless chain means so as to advance across the width of the conveyor angularly in the direction of conveyor travel at a speed twice that of the rate of conveyor travel. Otherwise stated, since the sine of 30 is .5, the cut performed in the film or strips of packages is normal to the longitudinal axis of the conveyor, specifically along the lines indicated by the presence of transverse grooves 15b in the conveyor surface between adjacent packages and which groove is always disposed beneath the cutting elements of the cutter means.

Referring now to the details of the transverse cutting device shown in FIGS. 20-23, the cutter includes an endless chain 143, in this instance comprised of ninety links. The chain is trained over sprockets 144, 145 mounted firmly on shafts 146, 147 respectively, journalled in bearing brackets 148, 149 respectively, secured to the top of the respective side rails of the frame 11. The shaft 147 extends beyond its bearing and mounts firmly a bevel gear 151, meshed at all times with a bevel gear 152 carried firmly on a shaft 153 driven at a constant speed through chain 154. The lower reach of the cutter chain 143 is disposed a short distance above the conveyor and film thereon and it is rotated in a direction to carry its lower run across the conveyor and film in a direction substantially transverse to the conveyor but at an angle to the direction of travel of said conveyor as shown in FIG. 23.

The endless chain 143 carries a series of spaced apart cutter knives 155 each of which is mounted so as to be pivotally urged outwardly. As shown in FIGS. 21 and 22 each cutter 155 is carried in a bracket 156 that is hingedly connected, as at 157, to the chain. Springs 158 normally urge the brackets 156 in an outward direction. This assures that the cutters will at all effective times contact and sever the underlying film as the cutters are carried thereacross. In the present disclosure there is one cutter knife attached to every ninth link in chain 143 so as to space them apart distances which, when the machine is operating, will coordinate the knives With the advance of the transverse groove 15b in the conveyor 15. Specifically, the chain 143 is driven in a direction to carry its lower run angularly across the film at an angle of about 60 to the direction of travel of the conveyor and film.

Thus with the conveyor and film advancing beneath the cutters at a high rate of speed and the cutter mechanism operating at a greater rate of speed, a cutter knife will enter the film in the area of a transverse conveyor groove 15b and it will travel along said groove the entire width of the conveyor. More particularly, upon reference to FIG. 23, a knife will enter the groove 15b, as at X, and will travel transversely along said groove as the groove advances longitudinally a distance responding to that indicated at y in said figure. During this travel it will sever the packages along their seal separation areas that are aligned with the grooves.

Following the transverse severing of the film of packages, the packages 159 (FIG. 24) will drop through the conveyor onto a belt 160 (FIG. 1) or other means provided to carry them away from the machine.

DRIVE ASSEMBLY The total drive mechanism may vary but as shown in FIG. 3, the motor 11a is the sole source of power. A belt or chain 161 connects the motor with one conveyor shaft 12a. This shaft carries a sprocket 162 over which chain 154 is trained. This chain 154 operates to drive the cutter 142, and the alignment mechanism 54. It is trained also over a sprocket 163 mounted on a shaft that also carries another sprocket over which the chain drive 107 for the heat sealer chains 114, 115. A smaller sprocket 164 on said shaft entrains a chain 165 that drives the heat sealer chain 101. The conveyor mounting shaft 12 carries a sprocket 166 over which is trained an endless chain 167 which is connected to a drive sprocket 168 on the longitudinal heat sealer assembly 72a. The shaft 12 also carries a sprocket 169 training chain 28 that affords a drive connection with the pocket forming mechanism 23.

ALTERNATE SEALING STRUCTURE The longitudinal and transverse sealing means hereinabove described may be combined into a single unit structure all as illustrated in FIGS. 25-27.

As there shown, a plurality of sets of sprockets 170, 171 (four per set) are provided on the machine above the frame 11 and conveyor 15. The sprockets 170 are positioned rearwardly (longitudinally) of the sprockets 171 and they have an endless chain 172 trained therearound. An endless chain a is trained around the sprockets 171. As shown in FIG. 25, the chain 172 is on the back side of the machine whereas the chain 171a is on the front side. These chains constitute means for carrying a series of pressure plates 173 which are adapted to be carried successively downwardly into contact with the top surface of the films 17a and 43, one in registering alignment with each transverse row of packages formed therein. Each has a circular opening 174 that register one with each package;

The plates 173 carry longitudinally offset bearing pintles 175, the pintles on one end being connected to chain 171 and the pintles on the other end with chain 172. This'manner of mounting and the offsetting of the chains 171-172 insures that the plates remain horizontal while travelling downwardly or upwardly around the respective sprockets, as best shown in FIG. 26. When a pressure or heat transfer ring 173a on the under side of the plates is in pressure contact with the films the plates advance longitudinally of the machine at the same rate of speed as the conveyor and films advance.

' This pressure plate-chain assembly has contained within its outline a heat sealer assembly generally indicated at 176. This is somewhat like the assembly illustrated in FIG. 15, and it includes two sets of endless chains 177 each trained over a set of sprockets 178 disposed above the lower reach of chains 171a and 172. The chains 177 mount, as at 179, the upstanding portions 181 of a horizontal bar 182, that mounts on its under side a plurality (four) of heater plates 183. These heater plates are connected to the bar 182 by studs 184 and have expansion springs 185 thereon so as to urge the plates downwardly at all times. A series (three) of heater rings 186, each mounting a Calrod 186a, is mounted beneath each plate 183. Also disposed beneath each heater ring is a spring mounted pressure disc 187 of a size to fit freely into a related opening 174 in the underlying pressure plate 173. It should be evident that as the chains 177 advance around their sprockets 178 the heating ring assembly is carried downwardly into engagement with the underlying pressure plate all as best shown in FIG. 27. When so positioned, the pressure disc 187 contacts the film and the heater ring 186 contacts the top surface of the pressure plate thus transmitting its heat through said plate and the heat transfer ring 173a to the film to heat seal same. After sealing, the heat sealers are raised from the film and the pressure plates remain in contact with the film for a predetermined period of time to prevent seal separation. After the sealing operation, the film is advanced as before to the cutter mechanism which severs the packages from the film.

Although I have described preferred embodiments of the invention in considerable detail, it will be understood that the description thereof is intended to be illustrative, rather than restrictive, as many details of the structure disclosed may be modified or changed without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is not desired to be restricted to the exact construction described.

I claim:

1. In a packaging machine, a conveyor having mutually spaced apart longitudinal rows of openings therein and means to deliver a wide soft film of packaging material into overlying position on said conveyor, wherein the improvement comprises a first series of plungers engageable with the film over a longitudinal row of openings for pushing the film into said openings to form pockets and a second series of plungers engageable with the film over another of said rows of openings to push the film into said other row of openings to form pockets, said first pocket forming plungers remaining in engagement in the pockets formed thereby during formation of the later mentioned pockets.

2. A packaging machine comprising a conveyor having mutually spaced transverse and longitudinally aligned openings therein, means to deliver a film of packaging material onto said conveyor, and means operable to form pockets in said material, said means comprising an endless series of plungers engageable with the film over a medial longitudinal row of openings for pushing the film into said openings and like means comprising an endless series of plungers engageable with the film over laterally spaced areas to push the film into the openings in the longitudinal rows of openings on each side of the medial row of openings, said first pocket forming means remaining in engagement in the formed pockets during formation of the later mentioned pockets.

3. In a packaging machine, a horizontal conveyor having three mutually spaced apart longitudinal rows of openings therein, means to deliver a wide softfilm of packaging material into overlying position on said conveyor, and means operable to form pockets in said material, said means comprising a plurality of endless series of plungers successively engageable with the material for pushing the material into the openings to form pockets, said series of plungers being arranged to initially engage and form pockets in the center one of said longitudinal rows of openings and subsequently, while the aforesaid plungers are still retained in the pockets formed thereby, to form the outside longitudinal rows of pockets.

4. Means for forming spaced rows of pockets in a soft film arranged over an endless conveyor having openings therein comprising, drive means for said conveyor, 21 plurality of endless chains arranged partially coextensive with the rows of pockets to be formed, plungers on said chains to successively engage the film and push it into the openings as the film and conveyor pass beneath them, at least one of said chains being longer than the remaining chains so as to cause its plungers to engage the film in advance of engagement of the plungers on the other chains, and common means for driving said chains in unison and at the same rate of speed as the conveyor.

5. The means recited in claim 4, in which the plungers on the longer chain remain in the formed pockets during formation of the pockets by the plungers on the other chains.

6. The method of forming a plurality of longitudinal rows of pockets in a film of packaging material which comprises laying the film over a conveyor having spaced longitudinal rows of Openings therein, engaging the film in its medial area and pushing it into a central row of openings, and subsequently engaging side areas of said film and pushing them into the openings on either side of the central row of openings.

7. The method of forming three rows of pockets in a soft film of packaging material which comprises laying said film over an endless conveyor having three longitudinal rows of longitudinally spaced openings therein, engaging the film in its medial area and pushing it into the central row of openings to form pockets, and subsequently engaging the film in the areas of the two side rows of openings and pushing said film into said openings to form pockets.

8. In a packaging machine of the character having a driven conveyor formed with longitudinal rows of transversely aligned openings and transverse grooves in the upper surface thereof between adjacent openings, means to deliver a pair of films in overlying relation onto sard conveyor for movement therewith, pockets formed in the lower film one in each conveyor opening, printed material on the upper film adapted to register with the pockets, and means to advance the rate of feed of the upper film to effect such registration, said means including transverse bars movable downwardly into underlying grooves in the conveyor for depressing the film thereinto, and gripper means to prevent retardation of said film duringsuch deformation.

9. In a packaging machine of the character having a driven conveyor, transverse grooves in said conveyor,

means feeding a film superposed on said conveyor, means forming merchandise pockets in said film, means feeding a printed overlay film superposed on said pocketed film, and means to insure register of the print on the overlay film with each pocket, said last named means comprising mechanism including a driven endless chain arranged above said overlay film, a plurality of transverse bars carried by said chain, at least some of said-bars having a deforming strip thereon disposed to registerwith a groove in the conveyor, means on the other bars to frictionally engage with the overlay film to hold it in place, and means operable to urge a strip downwardly to push the overlay film into an underlying groove for advancingsaid filmwto' insure print register with the pockets.

10. In a packaging machine of the character having a driven conveyor, longitudinally spacedtransverse grooves in said conveyor, means feeding a film into superposed position on said conveyor, means formingmerchandise pockets in said film one between each ,groove,.means feeding a printed overlay -film: into ,su'perposedposition on said pocketed film, and means to insure registerof the print on the overlayfilmwith each pockeL-said last named means comprising mechanism including ,a driven endless chain operating "on -a horizontal axis andarranged above said overlay film,- a plurality of transverse bars carried by said chain, at least someof said bars having a deforming strip thereon disposed to' register with and be spaced normally above a groove in the conveyor, means on the other bars '-to frictionally engage with the overlay film in advance of the deforming strip to hold the film in place, and cam means operable to .urge the strip downwardly to push the overlay film into the underlying groove for increasing the raterof feed of saidfilm to insure print register with the'pockets. t l a 11. In a packaging machine including a conveyor having transverse grooves therein and adapted to have two superposed films arranged 'over said conveyor to move therewith at a given rateof speednormally, means to incrementally advance one of said films relativeto the other, said means comprising a plurality of spring loaded strips advanced sequentially over the films and in register with an underlying conveyor groove, said strips being normally out of contact with the films, photo-electric means, and means responsive to actuation of said photo-electric means operable when the upper film lags to depress said strip for urging the film into the groove lying therebeneath. t

12. In a packaging machine including a conveyor having transverse grooves therein and adaptedto have two superposed films arranged over said conveyor to move therewith at a given rate of speed normally,'means 'to incrementally advance one of said films relative to the other, said means comprisinga plurality of bars eachcarrying a spring loaded strip advanced sequentially over the films and in register with the conveyor grooves, said strips being normally out of contact with the films, and means operable when the upper film lags to depress said strips for urging the film beneath.

13. In a packaging machine or the character including" a driven conveyor having spaced longitudinal rows of ets, said last named means each comprising three end less steel bands disposed above and in contact with a film area, means to drive said bands in a direction to ad:

vance their lower run over and at the same rate of speed as the films, a heater shoe disposed 'above and in contact with the lower run of the medial band adapted to transmit heat'through the band and into the "films for sealing one to the other, said heater shoes being'located into the groove lying there- 13 adjacent to the area of initial contact of the band with the film.

14. In the packaging machine recited in claim 13, in which means is provided to elevate the heater shoes.

15. The packaging machine recited in claim 13, in which each heater shoe is carried in a frame, and pressure rollers are mounted on said frame to engage with and hold the two outside bands in firm engagement with the underlying film.

16. In a packaging machine of the character including a driven conveyor having a plurality of transverse rows of openings therein, means to feed a film over said conveyor for movement therewith, means to form pockets in said film one in each opening, means to fill said pockets, means to feed an overlay film over said pockete'd film, and means to heat seal the films one to the other in transverse areas between the rows of pockets during conveyor operation, said means comprising an endless series of metal strips arranged above and in substantial contact with select transverse areas of the films, means to advance said strips with said areas, a plurality of heater shoes arranged normally above said films, means operable in unison with the film and strip advance to carry the shoes downwardly into engagement with the strips and advance them in unison therewith for a predetermined distance.

17. The packaging machine recited in claim 15, in which the heater shoes are carried on a frame mounted for movement in a vertical plane in an oval pattern.

18. The packaging machine recited in claim 16, in which the heater shoes are spring mounted on said frame.

19. A heat sealing mechanism for performing transverse seals in two webs of film advancing at a predetermined speed therebeneath, said mechanism comprising a series of strips arranged transversely of said film and mounted on endless carriers to have contact with and for movement at the same rate of speed as the film, a series of heater shoes mounted to have intermittent engagement with the strips while said strips are in contact with the film, said heater shoes travelling in the same direction and at the same speed as said strips and film, and means to drive said carriers at the same rate of speed as the film.

20. A heat sealing mechanism for performing transverse seals in two webs of film advancing at a predetermined speed therebeneath, said mechanism comprising a series of strips arranged transversely of said film and mounted to have contact with and for movement with the film, a series of heater shoes mounted to have intermittent engagement with the strips while the strips are in contact with the film, said heater shoes travelling in the same direction and at the same speed as said strips and film, the strips remaining in contact with the films for a predetermined period of time after the heater shoes have been moved out of engagement with the strips.

21. In a packaging machine of a character adapted to form longitudinal and transversely spaced rows of packages from superposed layers of film, means to sever the longitudinal rows of packages one from the other and to trim the side margins of the film therefrom, said means comprising a series of transversely spaced slitters arranged to engage the film between the longitudinal rows of packages and along the side margins thereof, fre'e wheeling rollers disposed to engage the film on each side of each slitter to hold the film firmly, and a driven rewind roller to collect the severed side margins of the film.

22. A packaging machine comprising a horizontal conveyor, laterally and longitudinally spaced openings in said conveyor, means to feed a first film of packaging material to said conveyor in overlying relation, means c0- operating with the conveyor to form a pocket in said film, filling means for said pocket, means to deliver an overlay film over said pocket to form with the pocket a closed package, an apertured pressure plate overlying the film and surrounding the package, a heater shoe arranged above the package to bear against the pressure plate to transmit heat therethrough for sealing the films in the area surrounding the package, and a pressure element in said heater shoe for bearing against the package through the aperture in the pressure plate.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,987,409 1/1935 Moore 83488 X 1,997,402 4/1935 Drake 83-614 X 2,712,717 7/1955 Keller 53-30 2,879,635 3/1959 Brock 5330 X 2,958,168 11/1960 Vogt 5330 3,238,691 3/1966 Miller et al. 53l84 X 3,282,140 11/1966 Sasabuchi et al. 83-353 X 1,827,193 10/1931 Fischer et a1. 83-422 2,928,221 3/1960 Smith 53372 X 3,140,573 7/1964 Buttolph 535l 3,151,428 10/1964 Mader et al. 53373 TRAVIS S. McGEHEE, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 156290, 583

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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/453, 83/326, 53/51, 425/513, 425/168, 53/559, 425/173, 156/553, 425/112, 425/307, 264/280, 425/518, 425/521, 425/384, 53/282, 425/509, 83/614, 425/214, 425/145
International ClassificationB65B41/18, B65B41/00, B65B9/04, B65B9/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B9/04, B65B41/18
European ClassificationB65B41/18, B65B9/04