|Publication number||US3501889 A|
|Publication date||Mar 24, 1970|
|Filing date||Nov 24, 1967|
|Priority date||Nov 24, 1967|
|Publication number||US 3501889 A, US 3501889A, US-A-3501889, US3501889 A, US3501889A|
|Inventors||Eid M Sadek, Grulich Gary|
|Original Assignee||Dartmouth College The Thayer S|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (11), Classifications (11)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
March 24, 1970 s u c ETAL 3,501,889
I BELT PACKAGING DEVICE I Filed Nov. 24. 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG. l
[ I In lo 76g-- FIG. 2 60 INVENTORS M. SADEK EID GARY GRULICH BY mam Mam ATTOR N EYS March-24, 1970 G. GRULICH ETAL 3,501,889
BELT PACKAGING DEVICE 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Nov. 24, 1967 FIG. 5
INVENTORS M. SADEK EID GARY GRULICH fikflmmrifidkw ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,501,889 BELT PACKAGING DEVICE Gary Grulich, Hanover, and M. Sadek Eid, Lebanon, N.H. (both Dartmouth College, The Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, N.H. 03755) Filed Nov. 24, 1967, Ser. No. 685,633 Int. Cl. B65b, 63/04, 27/06; B31b 98 U.S. Cl. 53-116 8 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A conveyor advances cylindrical recording belts end-on to a first station. As each belt arrives at the station, it is dropped onto a pair of spaced upstanding posts so that the posts protrude loosely through the bore of the belt.
A finger movable into the space between the posts engages each belt after it arrives at the station and collapses a wall portion thereof into the space between the posts. This draws the belt tightly about the posts and reduces the cross-sectional area defined by the belt appreciably below the cross-sectional area defined by an uncollapsed belt so that the next belt arriving at the station can be dropped onto the posts and encircle the first belt.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention This invention relates to a system for facilitating packaging flexible cylinders such as recording belts. It relates more particularly to apparatus for nesting a predetermined number of recording belts so that they can be contained in a relatively small package.
The belts with which we are concerned here are generally cylindrical plastic extrusions. The plastic is flexible and somewhat resilient so that the belts themselves are resilient and tend to stand open even when they are lying on their sides. These belts are used in conventional office recording and dictating machines to store information.
In one type of belt, a stylus in the recording machine inscribes a groove in the surface of the moving belt which reflects the information fed to the machine. Other types of recording belts utilize magnetic impregnants or coatings of recording grooves to store the information.
Description of the prior art The present invention deals not with the recording belt itself, but rather with the mode of packaging recording belts or other similar flexible tubes for storage or shipment.
In an attempt to reduce the size of the shipping container for recording belts, some manufacturers package them by laying them on their sides and pressing them flat, forming vertical stacks which are confined within the package. However, when the belts are stored in this fashion for a relatively long period of time, creases may be formed at the folded edges of the belts. These creases interfere with the recording and transcribing heads in the dictating machine causing distortion of the recorded information. In extreme cases, the belts may even become cracked where they are thus creased.
These prior lay-flat packaging systems are further disadvantaged because as soon as the contained is o ened, the topmost resilient belts in each stack tend to reassume their undeformed cylindrical shapes and to protrude or pop out of the package. This is quite annoying and requires repacking and/or resealing of the container after each opening thereof.
To avoid these problems, some manufacturers have resorted to a laborious hand-packaging operation wherein belts are successively crushed and stuffed concentrically "ice inside an outermost belt. The completed nest of belts is then boxed in the usual way. Needles to say, this is a time-consuming and expensive operation requiring many people to turn out the volume of recording belts required to satisfy todays market for these items.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, this invention aims to provide a system for automatically nesting flexible tubes such as recording belts.
A further object is to provide a system for nesting recording belts without creasing or otherwise permanently deforming them.
A still further object of the invention is to provide an improved method for nesting recording belts in a minimum amount of space.
A further object of the invention is to provide apparatus for nesting recording belts which is relatively inexpensive to make and maintain.
Another object of the invention is to provide apparatus for facilitating packaging recording belts which can be operated by relatively unskilled personnel.
Other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part appear hereinafter.
The invention accordingly comprises the several steps and the relation of one or more of each steps with respect to each of the others, and the apparatus embodying features of construction, combination of elements and arrangement of parts which are adpated to effect such steps, all as exemplified in the detailed disclosure hereinafter set forth, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.
Briefly, in the present system, a conveyor advances a train of flexible, resilient cylindrical recording belts endon toward a nesting station. As each belt arrives at the station, it is placed over a pair of spaced-apart abutments which protrude loosely through the bore of the belt. A wheel containing one or more radially-extending fingers is rotatably mounted at the station. The Wheel is arranged so that as it rotates, the fingers thereon are moved successively into and out of the space between the two abutments. The wheel rotates in synchronism with the conveyor so that as soon as each belt is engaged over the abutments, a finger engages a wall portion of that belt and folds that portion into the space between the abutments. This draws the belt about the abutments and thereby reduces the cross-sectional area defined by the belt at the station so that the next undeformed belt being advanced to the station can encircle the first belt.
Immediately after the next belt engages over the first belt the finger is rotated out of engagement with the first belt and a second finger is rotated into engagement with the second belt so as to fold both belts into the space between the abutments, while a third belt is deposited concentrically over the first two belts. Then the second finger rotates out of engagement with the second belt and a third finger engages the third belt and folds all three belts into the space between the abutments.
This process continues until the desired number of bolts are nested more or less concentrically at the station. At that point, a retractor momentarily withdraws the abutments from the nested belts and one of the fingers moves the belts from the first station to a second station where they are inserted conventionally into a container. Immediately, a second nest of belts begins to form as aforesaid on the unretracted abutments at the first sta- -tion.
The present system automatically nests a number of these flexible recording belts into a compact package whose size corresponds more or less to the diameter of the outermost belt. Each nest may then be packaged individually or several such nests may be stacked side-byside in a carton, depending upon the size of the particular shipment. In any event, the nested recording belts require a minimum amount of packaging volume.
While the present apparatus folds the belts while it nests them, the folds are gentle enough so that they do not form permanent creases in the belts. This applies even to those inner. belts in a completed nest which may be unable to completely resume their undeformed condition due to constraints imposed thereon by one or more encircling outer belts in the nest.
The herein described nesting apparatus is simple and inexpensive to make and maintain. Moreover, it can be operated by a few relatively unskilled personnel. Thus, the adoption and utilization of the present system results in a substantial cost saving to recording belt manufacturers.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a top plan view illustrating a recording belt nesting apparatus made in accordance with this invention;
FIG. 2 is a similar view from the side of the FIG. 1 apparatus;
FIG. 3 is a similar view from the front of the FIGS. 1 and 2 apparatus;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view on a larger scale of a portion of the FIGS. 13 apparatus; and
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view of belt feeder used in conjunction with the nesting apparatus.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings, a train of cylindrical recording belts are discharged from a belt feeder 100 (FIG. 2) to be described later onto one end of a conveyor indicated generally at 12. The conveyor advances the belts end-on in the direction shown by the arrow to a nesting station indicated at 14.
Each belt arriving at station 14 is dropped over a pair of spaced-apart upstanding parallel posts 16 and 18 of a belt folder 20. Immediately thereafter, belt folder 20, operating in synchronism with conveyor 12, engages a side wall portion of the belt at station 14 and folds or collapses it into the space between the two posts. This manipulation of the belt draws the belt somewhat tightly about posts 16 and 18, thereby appreciably reducing the cross-sectional area defined by the belt so that the next belt advancing to station 14 is free to drop down over the folded belt so as to encircle it.
Immediately thereafter, folder 20 releases the first belt and engages the one just deposited at station 14 so as to fold both belts as just described while a third belt advancing to station 14 on conveyor 12 is dropped over the first two belts. Folder 20 then releases the first two belts and engages the third belt, thereby folding all three belts in between the posts 16 and 18 so that they are compact enough to receive the next belt arriving at station 14, and so on.
This process continues until the desired number of belts are nested more or less concentrically at station 14. Then retraction means indicated at 21 (FIGS. 2 and 3) withdraws posts 16 and 18 from the nested belts at station 14 and folder 20 moves the nested belts to a second station 24 where they may be packaged or otherwise disposed of.
Immediately after removal of the nested belts, posts 16 and 18 resume their unretracted positions at station 14 and await the arrival of the next belt 10 from conveyor 12 which starts the formation of a second nest of belts.
Thus, the nesting operation is completely automatic; it requires no handling of the individual recording belts. The number of belts in each nest may be selected with certain limits simply by retracting posts 16 and 18 at the appropriate times.
Still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, conveyor 12 comprises an endless flanged web 20 which engages over horizontal rolls 32, 34 and 36 rotatably mounted on a base 40. As best seen in FIG. 2, rolls 32 and 34 are spaced relatively far apart and their top surfaces are located in substantially the same plane so that web has a relatively long horizontal segment 30a. Also, roll 34 has a relatively large diameter, thereby defining a gently rounded web segment 30!) adjacent station 14. Finally, roll 36 is located below and slightly rearward of roll 34 so that the web segment 30c passing through station 14 slopes away from station 14 for reasons to be described later. One of the rolls, say roll 36, is chain driven by a suitable electric motor 41 (FIG. 2), so that web 30 turns in the counterclockwise direction indicated by the arrow in FIG. 2.
Roll 36 and the underside of the web 30 have interfitting ribs which prevent the web from slipping on the rolls and maintain synchronism between the movements of the web and the folder 20. Also, a series of spacers 42 project out from the outer surface of web 30 all the way along the web to maintain uniform spacing between belts 10.
Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, conveyor 12 includes upstanding side walls 44 and 46 to maintain proper longitudinal alignment of recording belts 10 and prevent them from falling off the conveyor as they proceed to station 14. Walls 44 and 46 terminate at the top of an upstanding generally cylindrical chute 50 above a surface of base 40. Chute 50 is appreciably larger in diameter than belts 10 and its side 53 (FIG. 1) facing web segment 30c is open to permit spacers 42 to move down inside chute 50. Thus, as web 30 advances, equally spaced belts 10 are lowered one-by-one end-on into chute 50.
Folder 20 comprises identical posts 16 and 18 separated by a gap 54 (FIG. 2) which project up from surface 52 into chute 50. Typically, the diameters of the posts are on the order of one-half inch and the portions thereof above surface 52 extend most of the way to the tops of belt 10. As best seen in FIG. 1, the posts are positioned on opposite sides of the longitudinal axis of chute 50 and in line with web segment 300. Post 18 is spaced appreciably from the spacers 42 inside chute 50 to provide clearance for the belts being lowered into the chute and onto posts 16 and 18.
Still referring to FIG. 3, posts 16 and 18 extend through surface 52 and are connected together at their lower ends by a bracket to retractor 21. More particularly, bracket 60 is connected to the end of the rod 61 of a conventional double-acting piston 62 mounted on base 40. Piston 62 is controlled by a solenoid valve 63 which directs hydraulic fluid by way of lines 64 and 65 to the top or bottom ends of the piston 62 cylinders to lower or raise posts 16 and 18. Valve 63 is, in turn, controlled by a switch 68 actuated by a timing cam 70. Timing cam 70 operates ofi the folder 20 and it is shaped to actuate switch 68 and thus retract posts 16 and .18 each time web 30 travels a determined distance. Specifically, posts 16 and 18 are retracted each time a selected number, say, ten, recording belts 10 are deposited at station 14. Of course, other conventional, wholly mechanical means may be employed to retract posts 16 and 18.
Folder 20 at nesting station 14 comprises a wheel 74 journaled for rotation in base 40. Wheel 74 has one or more (herein four) generally radially extending protrusions or fingers 76a-76d. It is positioned in base 40 so that when it is rotated in the counterclockwise direction as indicated in FIG. 3, fingers 76a-76d swing up through a slot 52a (FIG. 3) in surface 52 and into gap 54 (FIGS. 2 and 4) between posts 16 and 18. The ends of fingers 76a76d are gently curved in the direction opposite the direction of rotation of wheel 74 so that the finger portions extending into gap 54 are approximately parallel to posts 16 and 18. Preferably, the number of fingers is chosen so that the belts at station 14 do not resume their fully undeformed condition between engagements by the fingers. That is, the number of fingers and their arrangement are chosen so that each finger engages the belts at station 14 before the previous finger disengages therefrom. This makes it easier for the fingers to fold the nested belts. In the illustrated machine, four fingers work satisfactorily.
As best seen in FIG. 2, wheel 74 is keyed to a shaft 77 rotatively mounted on base 40. A worm gear 78 keyed to shaft 77 engages a worm 79 rotating with roll 36. Shaft 77 also turns cam 70 through a conventional chain drive indicated at 80.
In operation, a train of recording belts 10 are advanced by conveyor web 30 to the top of chute 50. When a belt 10 reaches the curved 'web segment 30b, it is gradually lowered end-on into the top of chute 50 and down over posts 16 and 1-8. As best seen in FIG. 2, roll 36 is positioned rearwardly of roll 34 so that 'web segment 30c pulls away from posts 16 and 18 as it advances down the chute. This allows spacers 42 to clear the tops of any belts engaged over posts 16 and 18.
At the same time, wheel 74 rotates in synchronism with web 30 so that as soon as belt 10 is dropped over posts 16 and 18, one of the fingers on wheel 74, say finger 76a, is rotated into engagement with belt 10. Finger 76a folds or collapses a wall portion 10' (FIGS. 1 and 4) of belt 10 into gap 54 (FIGS. 2 and 4). The diameters of posts 16 and 18, the Width of gap 54 and the length of finger 76a are such that belt 10 is drawn about posts 16 and 18, thereby reducing the overall cross-sectional area defined by the belt. At this instant, a second belt 10 is lowered onto posts 16 and 18 and is free to encircle folded belt 10.
FIG. 4 shows two concentric belts 10a and 10b being folded at 10 by the next finger 76b in the manner just described as a third belt 10c is being lowered over them As seen in this figure, the area defined by belts 10a and 10b is appreciably less than that defined by belt 10c so the latter is free to slip down over belts 10a and 10b. Also, in engaging over belts 10a and 10b, belt 100 follows closely behind finger 76b. Thus, finger 76b maintains all portions of belts 10a and 10b below belt 100 in a folded condition to facilitate nesting. Then, just before finger 76b rotates out from under belt 100, the next finger 76c moves into engagement with belt 10c. Thus fingers 76a- 76c do not interfere at all with the nesting operation.
This process continues as more belts 10 are lowered onto the posts and are engaged in turn by fingers 76a- 7661 which fold all of the belts then on the posts in on themselves so that they all hug the posts enabling the next succeeding belt to be dropped over the already nested ones. When a selected number of belts, e.g. ten, are nested in this manner, timing cam 70 (FIG. 3) actuates switch 68 which then initiates retraction of posts 16 and 18. Then the next finger, e.g. 76c, pushes the nested belts from station 14 to station 24 as indicated at 98 in FIG. 1. A side opening 99 (FIGS. 1 and 2) is provided at the bottom of chute 50 adjacent station 24 to permit the nested belts to be moved from station 14 to station 24. Immediately thereafter, posts 16 and 18 resume in their normal unretracted positions and are ready to receive the next belt 10 being lowered down chute 50.
Referring now to FIG. 5, feeder 100 maintains a ready supply of belts 10 for conveyor 12. The feeder comprises a slide 102 which slopes down to a point above the end of web 30. Slide 102 has a slot 104 in its bottom wall to permit spacers 42 on web 30 to project up into the slide after they advance around roll 32. As each spacer 42 does so, it engages behind the leading belt 10 in slide 102 and pushes that belt onto web 30. The second belt 10 on the slide is deflected up by spacer 42 as shown to allow this.
To provide time for each completed nest of belts to be ejected from station 14 as described above, one or more spacers 42 are periodically omitted from web 30 forming a gap on web 30 indicated at 106a in FIG. 2. More particularly, gap 106a occurs after each ten spacers (corresponding to the number of belts 10 in each nest). This means that feeder skips feeding belts 10 onto hub 30 as gap 106a passes the bottom of slide 102. The timing cam 70 (FIGS. 2 and 3) is arranged to retract posts 16 and 18 as gap 106a approaches station 14. This allows suflicient time for the next finger to push the complete nest of belts at station 14 to station 24 and for the posts to resume their normal unretracted positions before the arrival at station 14 of the first belt following gap 106a, corresponding to the lead belt in the next train of belts.
The number of belts in each nest may be controlled simply by changing the profile of timing cam 70 to alter the time interval between actuations of switch 68 and by adjusting spacers 42 to appropriately change the number of belts 10 in each train. The diameters of the recording belts presently in use permit as many as ten belts to be arranged more or less concentrically in the aforesaid manner. The limit on the number of belts 10 in each nest is determined primarily by the ability of fingers 76a-76d to fold the belts already on posts 16 and 18. If the belts are very thin and flexible, a relatively large number can be contained in one nest.
Referring again to FIG. 4, it is seen that even though the apparatus folds the individual belts 10 during the nesting process, all of the folds formed therein are gradual so that no sharp creases are created. Also, even those inner belts in each nest which may remain folded due to constraints imposed by the outer belts are likewise folded in an undulating manner and so have no tendency to crease or crack.
It will be appreciated also that our machine is able to nest belts which are not resilient enough to stand fully open when lying on their sides. For this, the belts are ad- .vanced onto conventional wire forms (not shown) disposed at the end of conveyor 12 adjacent the top of chute 50. The leading ends of these forms are flat and protrude into the base of the advancing belt. The forms then gradually become higher and wider so as to spread open the advancing belt so that the belt can then be received onto posts 16 and 18 as described above.
As seen from the foregoing then, the present apparatus efficiently nests a selected number of recording belts on a continuous basis. Moreover, it does this without any danger of damage or distortion to the belts themselves. The disclosed apparatus is relatively simple and inexpensive to make, employing only conventional electromechanical parts. Moreover, it can be operated and maintained by relatively unskilled personnel. As a result, the present system offers substantial benefits to manufacturers of recording belts in terms of reduction in manufacturing costs as well as storage and other overhead costs.
'It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efiiciently attained and, since certain changes may be made in carrying out the above method and in the construction set forth without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.
1. Apparatus for nesting flexible resilient annular elements comprising:
(A) means (12) for advancing a train of elements to a station (14), and
(B) folding means (20) at said station for engaging each element after it arrives at said station and folding all the elements at said station in on themselves so as to reduce the cross-sectional area defined by all the elements sufiiciently to enable the next element advancing to said station to engage around all of the elements at said station said folding means including:
-(1) a pair of spaced-apart abutments (16, 18) which project loosely through the openings through the elements at said station, and
(2) means (76a) movable into the gap (54) between said abutments for engaging the outermost element at said station and collapsing wall portions of all the elements into said gap, thereby tensioning all the elements about said abutments so that the next element can engage around all the elements at said station.
2. Apparatus for nesting flexible resilient annular elements as defined in claim 1 and further including means (21) for retracting said abutments from said openings so as to facilitate removal of the nested elements from said station.
3. Apparatus for nesting flexible resilient annular elements as defined in claim 2 and further including:
(A) a second station (24), and
(B) means (22) for moving said nested elements from said first station to said second station when said abutments are retracting.
4. Apparatus for nesting flexible resilient annular elements as defined in claim 2 wherein said movable means comprises:
(A) a rotary member (74) having a plurality of protrusions (76a7 6d and (B) means (80) for rotating said rotary member in synchronism with said advancing means so that one of said protrusions is (l) rotated into said gap just after each said element arrives at said station, and
(2) rotated out of said gap just before the next element of said train arrives at said station.
5. Apparatus for nesting tubular flexible recording belts comprising:
(A) a support (52),
(B) a pair of parallel, spaced-apart abutments (16,
18) protruding from said support,
(C) means (30, 42) for placing belts end-on over said abutments so that said abutments project loosely into the bores of said belts, and
(D) means (76a-76d) movable into the gap (54) between said abutments so as to engage each said belt after it is placed over said abutments, said movable means thereby folding wall portions (10') of all said belts on said abutments into said gap so as to draw all said belts about said abutments sufliciently to reduce the cross-sectional area defined by all said belts appreciably below the cross-sectional area defined by an undeformed belt so that an undeformed belt can encircle said folded belts.
6. Apparatus for nesting recording belts as defined in claim 5 wherein:
(A) said abutments comprise a pair of spaced-apart upstanding posts over which said belts are dropped by said placing means, and
(B) said movable means comprises a rotary hub (74) (1) rotating in synchronism with said placing means, and
(2) having a plurality of radially extending fingers (7611-7611) which successively engage the outermost belt on said posts.
7. Apparatus for nesting recording belts as defined in claim 6 and further including means (21) operating in synchronism with said Wheel for retracting said posts from said belts so that said nested belts can be removed from the apparatus.
8. Apparatus for nesting recording belts as defined in claim 6 wherein said placing means comprises:
(A) an open-ended chute (50) positioned directly above said posts, and (B) conveyor (12) having (1) a first segment (30a) for carrying successive belts on-end to the upper end of said chute, and (2) a second segment (30c) for lowering successive belts on-end down said chute onto said posts.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Re. 24,993 5/1961 Bennett 53-204 X 2,715,457 8/1955 Voegeli 93-84 2,723,087 11/1955 Simmons 93-93 2,735,250 2/1956 Buddecke 53-116X 3,001,349 9/1961 Hoag 53-197 2,654,473 10/1953 Pierce 206 FOREIGN PATENTS 7 623,099 7/1961 Canada. 1,193,863 5/1965 Germany.
WAYNE A. MORSE, 1R., Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.
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|U.S. Classification||53/116, 53/204, 493/454, 53/399, 53/429, 53/397, 53/585|
|International Classification||B65B63/00, B65B63/04|