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Publication numberUS3509684 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 5, 1970
Filing dateMay 31, 1968
Priority dateJan 27, 1965
Publication numberUS 3509684 A, US 3509684A, US-A-3509684, US3509684 A, US3509684A
InventorsHohl John, Scribner Thomas L
Original AssigneeOwens Illinois Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for packaging containers
US 3509684 A
Abstract  available in
Images(6)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

May 5, 1970 J. HOHL ET AL APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS Original Filed Jan. 27, 1965 6 Sheets-Sheet 1 Nor.

INVENTORS May 5, 1970 HQHL ET AL APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS 6 Shets-Sheet 2 Original Filed Jan. 27, 1965 INVENTORS JOHN HOHL THOMAS LSERIBNER May 5, 1970 J, HOHL ET AL APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 Original Filed Jan. 27, 1965 May 5, 1970 j HQHL ET AL 3,509,684

APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS Ori inal Filed Jan. 27, 1965 C, slg'wtfgpshegfl 4 INVENTORS WW5 Lfi t klBNER May 5, 1970 J. Q ET AL 3,509,684

APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS Original Filed Jan. 2'7, 1965 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 JOHN HOHL THOMAS LSCRIBNER May 5, 1970 HOHL ET AL 3,509,684

APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS I Original Filed Jan. 27, 1965 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 a 3& 12 .Illllllil H n -I 90 INVENTORS JOHN HOHL THUMAS LSCRIBNER United States Patent 3,509,684 APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING CONTAINERS John Hohl, Katen Berne, Switzerland, and Thomas L. Scribner, Toledo, Ohio, assignors to Owens-Illinois, Inc., a corporation of Ohio Original application Jan. 27, 1965, Ser. No. 428,406, now Patent No. 3,404,505, dated Oct. 8, 1968. Divided and this application May 31, 1968, Ser. No. 733,607 Int. Cl. 1365b 17/02, 27/04; B31b 1/80 U.S. CI. 5348 5 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Apparatus is provided for assembling bottles or other containers into a package. The bottles for a package are arranged in a group, a band is placed around the group, and a resilient apertured carrier is telescoped over the upper shoulder of the bottles to form a package convenient for handling and carrying.

This is a division of application Ser. No. 428,406, filed Jan. 27, 1965, now Pat. No. 3,404,505, issued Oct. 8, 1968.

It is common practice to merchandise many items such as containers of soft drinks, beer, or the like, in packages containing a number of containers, with the package normally including a handle or other means to facilitate carrying the package. One of the most common packages consists of a relatively rigid paper-board blank formed around a group (usually six) of containers, with the folded blank usually being interlocked with itself and with the containers in the package. However, these paperboard blank packages have not been entirely satisfactory in that they are relatively expensive and are comparatively difficult to form, particularly at the high speeds required by modern filling and closing machines.

To overcome these deficiencies of the folded paperboard blank, cans have recently been packaged by assembling the cans with an apertured carrier formed from a sheet of resilient plastic material, with the beaded end of the cans being inserted through the apertures. The periphery of the apertures grip the sidewalls of the cans, and are locked beneath the bead securely enough to permit carrying of the package by a handle attached to the central portion of the resilient plastic carrier. However, it has not heretofore been considered practical to package bottles in this manner because the elongated neck and shoulder portions of the bottle projecting upwardly from the cylindrical body portion made existing methods and apparatus impractical for packaging bottles. Further, the relatively great distance over which the carrier must be moved in applying the carrier onto the body portion of a bottle made it necessary to install the carrier on successive bottles substantially simultaneously to avoid excessive distortion and tearing of the plastic carrier. Als'o,' the projection of the neck and shoulder of the bottle made it impossible to use the conventional stripping mechanism for stripping the carrier from the applying mechanism of conventional equipment.

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide an improved apparatus for assemblying bottles into packages for carrying.

Another object is to provide an improved apparatus for assembling a resilient apertured carrier onto a group of bottles to form a package for carrying.

Another object is to provide an improved apparatus for assemblying a flexible band around a group of bottles to form a package.

Another object is to provide an improved apparatus for applying a band around a group of bottles, and subsequently apply a resilient apertured carrier to the banded group to form a package convenient for carrying.

"ice

Another object is to provide an improved apparatus for assembling a resilient apertured carrier onto a group of bottles by depositing an apertured carrier onto the group with an aperture surrounding the neck and resting on the shoulder of each bottle, and subsequently advancing the aperture over the shoulder of each bottle simultaneously to embrace the body portion of the bottles.

Another object is to provide such as apparatus for assembling a resilient apertured carried onto a group of bottles and including a carrier feeding mechanism for depositing individual resilient apertured carriers onto the group of bottles moving through the apparatus.

The foregoing and other objects are attained in apparatus suitable for performing the method of this invention and adapted for use with a high speed filling and capping machine to receive the filled, capped bottles issuing from the machine and form them into packages such as the conventional six-pack employed to merchandise soft drinks and beer. The bottles to be packaged are fed by a suitable star-wheel feeding mechanism onto horizontal belt conveyor in spaced groups each normally consisting of two parallel rows of three bottles each in upright, side-by-side relation. The groups of bottles are carried by the conveyor past a banding station, a carrier feeding station, and a carrier applying station, successively, with the groups maintaining their initial spaced relation throughout the movement through the apparatus. At the banding station, flexible endless bands are fed from a magazine in a folded-fiat condition, one at a time into positioning rack whre they are subsequently picked up by a pair of vacuum heads and opened into a generally rectangular configuration. The opened bands are then moved downwardly and along the conveyor by the vacuum heads to telescope the endless band over the top of a group of bottles moving on the conveyor.

From the banding station, that banded groups of bottles pass in succession beneath a carrier feeding station where a resilient apertured carrier is deposited loosely on top of each group with the neck of each bottle in the group projecting through an aperture in the carrier. Preferably, the individual carriers are formed from a sheet of relatively thin, elastic, plastic material such as polyethylene, with the edges of the individual carriers being joined to form an elongated strip which may be wound upon a reel for feeding. The individual carriers are then severed the strip by the feeding mechanism and are permitted to drop free in timed relation to the movement of the bottles on the conveyor so that the neck of each bottle in a group projects through an aperture in the carrier, with the carrier coming to rest on the shoulder portion of the bottles. The carrier preferably includes an integrally formed handle portion on one end thereof and the spacing of the groups of bottles along the conveyor is such as to permit the carriers to fall onto the bottles without interference with the handle.

The groups of bottles with the band and carrier positioned thereon moves through a carrier applying station where a carrier applying head, moving on an endless track, engages the carrier and progressively advances the carrier 'over the shoulder and into embracing relation with the cylindrical body portion of each bottle as the group moves on the conveyor. Advancing the carrier into embracing relation with each bottle in the group tends to separate the top portion of the bottles from one another slightly to apply a light tensile load to the band to assure its remaining in place around the body portion of the group of bottles.

The carrier applying mechanism includes an endless.

track positioned above the conveyor with a relatively straight portion of the track extending above and in slightly convergent relation to the conveyor. A plurality of carrier applying heads are movably mounted in spaced relation around the track, with the spacing of the heads corresponding to the spacing of the groups of bottles moving on the conveyor. Each carrier applying head includes a plurality of downwardly depending fingers in position to engage the carrier positioned on the shoulders of the bottles in a group moving on the conveyor. The carrier applying heads are driven about the endless track at a rate corresponding to the rate of movement of the conveyor so that, as succeeding groups of bottles move beneath the track on the conveyor, the carrier positioned thereon is engaged by succeeding heads moving on the track. As a group passes beneath the converging portion of the track, the carrier is progressively advanced over the shoulder of each of the bottles in the group simultaneously to move into embracing relation with the body portion of the bottle.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following specifications taken with the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation view schematically showing a package assembling apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1, with certain parts eliminated to more clearly illustrate the operation of the apparatus;

FIG. 3 is an end elevation view schematically showing an apparatus according to the present invention for applying a flexible endless band to a group of bottles;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the banding mechanism illustrated in FIG. 3, with parts broken away to more clearly illustrate the operation of the other parts;

FIG. 5 is an end elevation view similar to FIG. 3, with certain parts illustrated in an alternate position;

FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 again showing certain parts in an alternate position;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view showing the band magazine and band support;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view taken on line 88 of FIG. 5, with certain parts broken away;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary section view schematically illustrating the mechanism for simultaneously applying the carrier into embracing relation with each of the bottles in a group;

FIG. 10 is a plan sectional view taken on line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIGS. 11, 12 and 13 are fragmentary sectional views taken on lines 1111, 1212 and 1313, respectively, of FIG. 10 and illustrating a carrier being telescoped over the bottles 'moving through the carrier applying mechanism in varying stages of progress through the mechanlsm;

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary sectional view schematically illustrating the carrier engaging elements of the carrier heads; and,

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a package of bottles formed by an apparatus according to this invention.

Referring now to the drawings, an apparatus embodying the present invention is illustrated as including an apron 1 for receiving filled bottles discharged from a high speed filling and capping machine, not shown. The apron includes a driven belt conveyor, illustrated at 2, for moving the botttles into a feeding mechanism 3 including a pair of star wheels 4 mounted for rotation on vertically extending shafts 8 and having a plurality of container engaging pockets 5 formed around their outer periphery for engaging the sidewalls of bottles 6 to feed the bottles, upon rotation of the star wheels, about shafts 8, from the apron onto an endless belt conveyor 7. As most clearly seen in FIG. 2, the pockets 5 are spaced around the circumference of star wheels 4 to vary the spacing between certain of the bottles fed by the respective star wheels. In the illustrated embodiment, the pockets 5 are arranged to feed the bottles 6 in groups of three bottles with a space between successive groups of bottles fed by the individual star wheel. The pair of star wheels are driven in synchronization to discharge the bottles 6 in parallel, side- 4 by-side rows of three each to form a generally rectangular group 9 consisting of six bottles as in the conventional six-pack.

From the feeding mechanism 3, the groups 9 are moved by the endless belt conveyor 7 past a banding mechanism 10 which applies an endless flexible band 11 around the spaced groups as they are moved along the conveyor. The banding mechanism 10 includes a magazine 12 containing a supply of endless tubular bands 11 collapsed into a flat, rectangular condition as seen in FIGS. A vacuum cup 13, supported on the end of a movable arm 14, is provided to remove the collapsed bands 11, one at a time, as needed, from the magazine 2 and deposit them in a supporting rack 15 positioned vertically above conveyor 7. The rack 15 includes a pair of generally U-shaped brackets 16 positioned beneath magazine 12 and spaced along the longitudinal center line of conveyor 7 to engage and support a folded band 11 adjacent its ends.

Preferably, the individual bands 11 are formed from a length of paper or similar flexible, inelastic material with the ends of the length being bonded together in overlapping relation to form a tube. Alternatively, the individual band 11 may be formed either from a length or a continuous band of resilient material, such as a film of plastic material. The tubular band is of sufiicient length to substantially span the length of the cylindrical body portion 72 of the bottles 6 between the conventional heel portions 71 formed thereon, and the diameter of the tube is sufficient to permit the tube to be telescoped over the end of a group of bottles to embrace the group around the body portion of the bottles and form the sidewalls of the package. To facilitate handling and packaging of the bands, they are collapsed into a plane containing the axis of the tube to form a rectangle which may readily be fed from a magazine by the vacuum cup 13 into the rack 15 and subsequently opened to be telescoped onto the groups 9.

The bands 11 are fed into the supporting rack 15 in the collapsed condition, as mentioned above, and consequently must be opened into the generally rectangular shape of the groups 9 of bottles 6 to be telescoped over the top of a group moving on conveyor 7. To accomplish this, a pair of band support heads 20 are movably mounted, one on each side of support 15, in position to engage opposite sides of a collapsed band 11 supported on fingers 16. Each head 20 is provided on its face 21 with a suitable vacuum means 22 for engaging and supporting the opposed sides of band 11. Heads 20 are supported for movement toward and away from rack 15, by a pair of guide blocks 23 which, in turn, are slidably mounted in tracks 24 formed in a support plate 25. Blocks 20 are moved along tracks 24 by an elongated linkage 26 pivotally mounted at one end to block 20, as by pin 27, and at the other end to a crank arm 28, as by pivot pin 29. Crank arm 28 is fixedly secured on a shaft 30 which is rotatably mounted, as by bearings 31, for movement about a vertical axis extending through support plate 25. Shaft 30 may be driven by any suitable means such as gear 32 rotatably fixed and slidable along one shaft 30 in engagement with a driven worm 33 rotatably fixed on a drive shaft 34.

As most clearly seen in FIGS. 4 and 8, tracks 24 are curved to provide movement of blocks 20 in a direction both perpendicular and parallel to the sides of the folded bands 11 positioned in support 15 so that the vacuum means 22 carried on the respective heads 20 engage opposite sides of the band at positions offset from one another along the longitudinal axis of the conveyor 7. Since band 11 has been folded flat, a crease 35 is formed at each end thereof which, upon opening of the band, inherently tends to form an interruption of the smooth contour of the band. This interruption conveniently may be employed to locate a corner of the desired rectangular shape which the tubular hand must take before being telescoped over a group of containers as illustrated in FIG. 8. Accordingly, the vacuum means 22 on the respective heads are positioned to engage opposite sides of the collapsed band 11, one adjacent each crease 35, and then be moved along curve tracks 24 into alignment and spaced apart transversely of conveyor 7, as illustrated in.FIG. 8, to form band 11 into a generally rectangular configuration.

Support plate 25 is slidably mounted on a pair of vertical columns 40 extending through bushings 41 formed in plate 25. Columns 40 are rigidly mounted on a carriage block 42 which, in turn, is slidably mounted, as by journals 36, along a fixed shaft 43 extending in a direction parallel to conveyor 7. Plate 25 is moved vertically by a vertical support rod 44 which has its upper end rigidly fixed to support 25 and which extends downwardly through a bearing in carriage 42. A cam follower 46, mounted on the lower end of support rod 44, is positioned within a cam track formed in a movable cam 47 positioned below carriage 42, and a second cam follower 48 is rigidly fixed to carriage 42, as by spacing block 49, in position to engage a track in a second movable cam 50. Cam 47, acting through follower 46, effects vertical movement of support shaft 44 to cause support plate 25 to move vertically along columns 40 to raise or lower heads 20 as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. Further, movement of cam follower 48, as a result of movement of cam 50, effects movement of carriage 42 along track 43 in a direction parallel to conveyor 7. The movement of the cam followers 46, 48 within the movable cams 47, 50, respectively, is coordinated with movement of heads 20 which, in turn, are coordinated with the movement of the feed mechanism 3 so that, when a band has been formed into the generally rectangular configuration illustrated in FIG. 8, the opened band will be positioned vertically above a group 9 of bottles 6 moving on conveyor 7. Movable cam 47 is then actuated to effect vertical movement of support plate 25 to lower the opened band supported by vacuum means 22 on heads 20 around the group of bottles, and simultaneously cam 50 is actuated to move the carriage 42 longitudinally along conveyor 7 at a rate corresponding to the rate of the bottles moving on the conveyor so that the band is telescoped over the group 9 without interrupting its movement on the conveyor. Also, the vacuum feed cup 13 on movable arm 14 is actuated to feed the next succeeding band 11 from magazine 12 into support while support plate 25 is in the lowered position.

Once the band is telescoped over a group of bottles, the vacuum to vacuum means 22 is broken, thereby releasing the band, and movable cams 47, 50 are actuated to return the carriage 42 and support plate 25 to their initial position, and heads 22 are moved inwardly to engage the next band 11. This cycle is repeated to telescope a band over each successive group of bottles moving on conveyor 7.

Referring now to FIG. 1, it is seen that the groups 9 are moved on conveyor 7 from the banding mechanism 10 to a carrier feeding mechanism 60 where a resilient apertured carrier 61 is fed onto each of the groups moving thereunder. Preferably, the carriers 61 are formed from a relatively thin sheet of elastic plastic material, such as polyethylene, and is 'formed with an integral handle 62 on one end thereof. The individual carriers 61 are integrally joined into an elongated strip' 63 which may be wound upon a reel, not shown, for feeding by the carrier feed roller 64 of feeding mechanism 60. The individual carriers 61 are then severed by a suitable cutting mechanism illustrated generally at 65 along the edge of handle 62 to permit the carriers 61 to fall free upon successive groups 9 moving under feed mechanism 60 with the neck of the bottles extending through the apertures and with the carriers 61 resting upon the shoulder portion 66 of the individual bottles 6, as best seen in FIG. 11.

If desired, the carrier feed mechanism may include a heating element for warming the carriers 61 to render them more flexible and to lessen the probability of damage during the subsequent application onto the bottles. This heating element, not shown, might conveniently be incorporated in the feed roller 64.

As an alternative to the feed mechanism described above, the carriers may be formed individually and fed from a magazine, with the feeding mechanism being synchronized with movement of the banding mechanism 10 so that an individual carrier 61 will be deposited on each banded group 9 of bottles 6 passing on conveyor 7.

From the carrier feed mechanism 60, the groups 9, each having a band 11 extending therearound and a carrier 61 positioned on shoulders 66 of the bottles, move through a carrier applying mechanism 70 where the carrier is advanced simultaneously over the heel portion 71 and onto the cylindrical body portion 72 of each of the respective bottles 6 and the groups move therethrough. The carrier applying mechanism 70 includes an endless track supported above conveyor 7 in vertically spaced relation thereto within a suitable frame mechanism illustrated generally by the numeral 74. As shown in FIG. 9, the endless track includes cam surface 73 and cam tracks 84, 85, each having a relatively straight portion extending in slightly converging relation with conveyor 7 in the direction of movement of the bottles on the conveyor. A plurality of carrier applying heads 75 are supported in frame 74 for movement along the endless track by any suitable drive means such as an endless drive chain, not shown. The carrier applying heads 75 are spaced along the track in accordance with the spacing of the groups 9 moving on conveyor 7, and the heads are moved therealong at a rate equal to the rate of conveyor 7 so that, as each succeeding group 9 moves beneath the frame 74, a carrier applying head 75 descends thereon to engage and progressively advance the carrier 61 over the heel 71 of each of the bottles fed in the group simultaneously as the group moves on the conveyor 7 beneath the converging portion of track, as illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10.

The carrier applying heads 75 are identical in structure and function and accordingly, only one will be described in detail. Referring to FIGS. 9-14, it is seen that the head 75 includes an elongated carrier black having a pair of cam followers 81, 82 rotatably mounted thereon one adjacent each end thereof as by pins 83. Cam follower 81 is positioned in a cam track 84 while follower 82 is positioned in a cam track 85 with cam tracks 84, 85 (illustrated in phantom in FIG. 9) being contoured to maintain the elongated carrier block 80 in a horizontal position while head 75 is moving in the same direction as conveyor 7. A pair of support rods 86 are rigidly mounted, as by welding, to the underside of carrier block 80, as viewed in FIG. 9, and extend downwardly therefrom to position a support plate 87 in spaced relation to block 80. Support plate 87 includes a plurality of arcuately shaped brackets extending in the direction of carrier block 80 with each having a plurality of journal blocks 89 extending radially outward therefrom adjacent its upper end. A plurality of carrier engaging fingers 90 are pivotally mounted to brackets 88 by pins 91 extending through journal blocks 89. Fingers 90 extend downwardly past support plate 87 and are resiliently urged inwardly toward bracket 88 by suitable means, such as a coil spring 92. Support plate 87 may be provided with radially extending grooves 93 to guide fingers 90 in their pivotal movement about pins 91.

The brackets 88 are positioned on plate 87 so that the fingers 90 supported thereon are positioned above a single bottle in a group moving through the applying mechanism When the head 75 is in position above the group. Referring particularly to FIGS. 10 and 14, it is seen that the fingers 90 are positioned to engage the bottles of a group only around the portion of the individual bottles around the outer periphery of the group. Thus, a greater number of fingers are employed to engage the end bottles of a conventional six bottle group than is employed for the center bottles of the group as the end bottles have a greater portion of their circumference forming a part of the group periphery.

As a group 9 moves through the carrier applying mechanism 70, a carrier applying head 75 moving on the endless track within frame 74 is lowered thereover until a book 94 formed on the lower end of fingers 90 engages the shoulder 66 of bottles 6 at a point above the apertured carrier 11 positioned on the bottles. Further lowering of the head 75 causes hook 74 to be cammed outwardly by the cone-shaped shoulder 66 to pivot finger 90 about pin 91 against the resilient force of spring 92 as illustrated in FIG. 12. Continued lowering of the head 75, and consequently fingers 90, causes book 94 to engage the inner periphery of the apertures in carrier 11 to force the carrier down over the heel portion 71 onto the cylinddrical body portion 72 of bottles 6. Since carrier block 80 of head 75 is maintained in a horizontal position, the carrier is simultaneously advanced over the shoulder of each of the bottles 6 in the group 9.

To assure that the carrier 11 is advanced over the heel 71 around the entire circumference of the bottle, a pair of plungers 95 are moved downwardly simultaneously with fingers 90 to engage the central portion of carrier 11 between adjacent transverse rows of bottles of the group. Plungers 95 extend upwardly through bearings 96 in support plate 87 and openings, not shown, in carrier block 80 and are rigidly joined at their upper end by a crossbeam 97. A bracket 98 extending upwardly from crossbeam 97 supports a cam roller 99, and a pair of coil springs 100, surrounding plungers 95 between carriage 80 and crossbeam 97, resiliently urge crossbeam 97 upwardly to maintain cam follower 99 in engagement with cam surface 73. An enlarged head 98 carried on the lower end of plunger 95 has its sidewalls contoured to closely conform to the sidewalls of the bottles so that no substantial portion of the carrier is unsupported as the aperture is advanced over the heel of the bottle. However, since the head 98 of plunger 95 engages carrier 11 at a point spaced from the inner periphery of the aperture while the hook portion 94 of fingers 90 engage the inner periphery of the aperture, the head 98 must be lowered a greater distance than the fingers, as illustrated in FIG. 13, so that the inner periphery of the aperture will be advanced over the heel around the entire circumference of the bottle. This is accomplished by the contour of the cam 73 which, acting through cam follower 99 lowers the plungers 95 a distance greater than that which fingers 90 are lowered. Once the carrier is in position embracing each of the bottles in a group, the plunger 95 may be quickly moved by springs 100 to remove head 98 from the position between the bottles of the group illustrated in FIG. 13.

By providing a plurality of carrier applying heads 75 spaced along the endless track, it is possible to have a number of these heads simultaneously engaging a separate carrier positioned on a group of bottles as illustrated in FIG. 1, with the succeeding heads being at varying elevations with respect to conveyor 7. Thus, the carriers may be advanced slowly downward over the heel of the bottles by the fingers and plungers while the bottles are moving on the conveyor. The rate at which the carrier is pushed downwardly over the bottles can be varied as necessary to avoid damage to the carrier simply by increasing the number of carrier applying heads and decreasing the angle of convergence of track 73 accordingly. As soon as the carrier has been advanced over heel 71 into embracing relation with the cylindrical body portion 72 of the bottles 6, the head may be vertically lifted clear of the group of bottles by the cams 73, 81 and 82, as illustrated at the extreme right in FIG. 1, to permit the package to continue on conveyor 7. Once the head has been lifted clear of the package, it may then continue around the endless track to pick up another group of bottles, in turn with the other heads 75 mounted in the track.

Referring to FIG. 15, a package formed on the apparatus described above is shown with the integrally formed handle 62 projecting outwardly from the end of the carrier 61. It is readily seen that the package may be easily carried simply by grasping the handle 62 and lifting the package. Thus, the need for a separate handle applying operation has been eliminated. Further, the relatively wide, flexible band 11 extending around and forming the sidewalls of the package eifectively eliminates any tendency for the bottom portion of the bottles to separate when the package is supported by handle 62, thereby maintaining a neatly shaped package and eliminating any tendency for the bottles to separate when supported by handle 62 or to collide when the package is again placed on a supporting surface. Further, the band, in combination with the plastic carrier, for-ms an eifective light shield for the contents of the bottle, thereby making the package ideally suited for packaging bottles of beer, ale, or the like, which may be adversely affected by light.

While it is desirable to employ the flexible band 11, particularly when packaging certain articles such as bottles of beer, a package containing six bottles assembled only with the carrier 11 has been supported by the handle 62 and subjected to rigorous shake tests without adversely affecting the bottles. Accordingly, it is contemplated that the carrier and band feeding mechanism described according to this invention may be employed to package groups of containers not having the band positioned thereon-Similarly, it is believed apparent that the banding mechanism might have widespread use in packaging operations other than in combination with the carrier feeding and applying mechanism.

While the method of assembling containers into packages according to this invention can readily be carried out by hand, such manual packaging obviously would be impractical for commercial use. Accordingly, it is preferable to employ automatic, high speed machinery such as that described and illustrated above to automatically carry out the steps of the method. Further, while We have described and illustrated a preferred embodiment of our invention. We wish it understood that we do not intend to be limited solely thereto, but that we do intend to cover all embodiments thereof which would be obvious to one skilled in the art and which come within the spirit and scope of our invention.

We claim:

1. Apparatus for applying a resilient sheet carrier having apertures to each of the bottles of a group, each of said bottles having a shoulder tapering downwardly and outwardly from a neck and an enlarged heel below said shoulder comprising:

'(a) a head,

(b) a plurality of finger elements mounted on said head and extending downwardly therefrom,

(c) means connecting the upper portions of said finger elements to said head, said connecting means permitting the movement of said fingers from (1) a normal position at which the lower ends thereof will engage a sheet carrier resting on said shoulders adjacent the apertures thereof upon movement of said head toward a group positioned thereunder to (-2.) an expanded position at which said lower ends are moved outwardly from said normal position, and

(d) means for moving said head downwardly toward said group to first engage said carrier with said lower ends and then urge said carrier downwardly, over said shoulders into engagement with said heel.

2. The apparatus as defined in claim 1 further including means resiliently urging said finger elements to said normal position upon movement of the finger elements out of engagement with said carrier and group of bottles.

3. An apparatus for assembling bottles into packages for carrying comprising a conveyor, means feeding bottles onto said conveyor for movement thereon past a carrier feeding and a carrier applying station in groups spaced along said conveyor, each of said groups containing a predetermined number of bottles positioned in upright side-by-side relation, means at said carrier feeding station positioned above said conveyor for feeding a resilient apertured carrier onto each of said groups moving on said conveyor, said carrier feeding means acting to project said carrier downward into the path of said groups to a position at which the necks of the leading bottles of the group engage apertures along one edge of the carrier to release the carrier and permit it to fall free onto the group with the neck of each bottle in the group extending through an aperture in the carrier, means at said carrier applying station engaging the carrier to progressively advance the carrier into embracing relation with the body portion of each of the bottles in the group simultaneously as the group is moved along said conveyor, successive carriers being interconnected to form an elongated strip wound upon a reel at said carrier feeding station, and said carrier feeding means including means for severing the individual carriers from said strip, each of said resilient apertured carriers including handle means integrally formed on one side thereof between adjacent carriers in the elongated strip, the spacing between groups moving on the conveyor being greater than the length of the handle measured along the length of said strip to prevent interference with the free fall of the carrier onto a group of bottles.

4. An apparatus for assembling bottles into packages for carrying, said bottles having a shoulder tapering downwardly and outwardly from a neck and an enlarged heel below said shoulder, said apparatus comprising, a conveyor, means driving said conveyor, means feeding bottles onto said conveyor for movement thereon past a carrier feeding station and a carrier applying station in succession in groups each containing a predetermined number of bottles and spaced along said conveyor, means at said carrier feeding station feeding a resilient apertured carrier onto each said group moving on said conveyor with the neck of each bottle extending through an aperture in the associated carrier, and means engaging and progressively advancing said carrier into embracing relation with the body portion of each bottle in said group simultaneously as said group moves past said carrier applying station, said carrier engaging means including a plurality of carrier applying heads mounted for movement about an endless path with a portion of said path being convergent with and spaced above said bottle conveyor with said heads engaging said carriers while said heads are moving on said convergent portion of said path, said heads including a plurality of finger elements mounted thereon and extending downwardly therefrom, and

means connecting the upper portions of said finger elements to said head, said connecting means permitting the movement of said fingers from (1) a normal position at which the lower ends thereof will engage a carrier resting on said shoulders adjacent the apertures thereof upon movement of said head toward a group positioned thereunder to (2) an expanded position at which said lower ends are moved outwardly from said normal position as said head is moved downwardly in engagement with said carrier.

5. An apparatus for assembling bottles into packages for carrying comprising a conveyor, means feeding bottles onto said conveyor for movement thereon past a carrier feeding and a carrier applying station in groups spaced along said conveyor, each of said groups containing a predetermined number of bottles positioned in upright side by side relation, means at said carrier feeding station positioned above said conveyor for feeding a resilient apertured carrier onto each of said groups moving on said conveyor, said carrier feeding means acting to project said carrier downward into the path of said groups to a position at which the necks of the leading bottles of the group engage apertures along one edge of the carrier to release the carrier and permit it to fall free onto the group with the neck of each bottle in the group extending through an aperture in the carrier, head means at said carrier applying station engaging the carrier to progressively advance the carrier into embracing relation with the body portion of each of the bottles in the group simultaneously as the group is moved along said conveyor, said head means having a plurality of finger elements mounted thereon and extending downwardly therefrom, means connecting the upper portions of said finger elements to said head means, said connecting means permitting the movement of said fingers from (1) a normal position at which the lower ends thereof will engage a carrier resting on said shoulders adjacent the apertures thereof upon movement of said head toward a group positioned thereunder to (2) an expanded position at which said lower ends are moved outwardly from said normal position, and means urging said head means downwardly toward said group to first engage the carrier with the lower ends of said fingers, and then urge the carrier downwardly into embracing relation with said bottles.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,864,212 12/1958 Bruce 5319'8 3,032,944 5/1962 Hull 5348 3,074,326 1/1963 Engleson 9353 3,218,777 11/1965 Brunsing 5348 3,245,196 4/ 1966 De Shazor 5348 X 3,255,566 6/1966 De Shazor 5348 X 3,285,410 11/1966 Brunsing 5348 X 3,3 07,321 3/1967 Beart 5348 X 3,318,065 5/1967 De Shazor 5348 3,393,490 7/1968 De Shazor 53-'48 3,367,086 2/ 1968 Ganz.

2,117,041 5/1938 Simpson 53324 X 3,282,025 11/1966 Amberg 53367 X FOREIGN PATENTS 1,124,799 3/1962 Germany.

WAYNE A. MORSE, 1a., Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 53142, 198, 209; 9ss'3

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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/48.4, 53/209, 53/142, 53/556, 53/585, 493/309, 53/582, 53/48.3
International ClassificationB65B17/02, B65B17/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B17/025
European ClassificationB65B17/02C