US 3527021 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Sept. 8, 1970 R. w. PITTS, JR AL AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Oct. 2, '1967 m a 5mm 2 P M 2 my 7 g MR ATTORNEY United States Patent O p 3,527,021 AUTOMATIC BAGGING MACHINE Robert W. Pitts, Jr., 7710 Barberton 77036, and Malone H. Farrar, 5763 S. Reed Road 77033, both of Houston, Tex.
Filed Oct. 2, 1967, Ser. No. 672,103 Int. Cl. B65h 43/36 US. Cl. 53385 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Packaging apparatus preferably inflating a folded bag by means of vacuum engagement with the exterior to permit entry of an item or items through the mouth into the bag; means for reciprocating said vacuum engagement means while engaging the bag to free the bag of impediments and thereby release the bag to permit filling of a subsequent bag.
RELATED APPLICATIONS Applicants have a related application bearing Ser. No. 611,116, now Pat. No. 3,468,102, which was filed Jan. 13, 1967.
SUMMARY OF PROBLEM AND INVENTION The bagging apparatus in the above noted disclosure is quite successful in its intended operation. However, to further enhance the speed of packaging large quantities of items, there exists a need to disengage the filled bag from the packaging apparatus wherein it is typically placed on a conveyor belt for transportation to packing crates or the like. With this problem in view, the present invention is summarized as providing means for opening the uppermost or outermost of a plurality of bags by directing an air stream toward its mouth to at least partially open the bag; said device further including vacuum engaging means generally contoured to the shape of the bag and which span a substantial portion of its length to hold open the topmost bag; said device further including means for reciprocating said bag engaging means to pull the topmost bag free from the plurality, the vacuum engaging means disengaging the filled bag to permit access to the next bag.
One object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus which packs solid material, particulated material, granular material and the like, in an open bag repetitively.
One object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus which packs and places on a conveyor belt the completed package in cooperation with a stacked plurality of collapsed bags.
Yet a further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus which holds a container fully open without impeding insertion of the product by placing holders, fingers or the like within the container.
An important object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus which opens each of several bags in step-wise fashion whereby each bag is first partially opened, and then fully opened by vacuum engaging means.
One object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus for use with several bags which utilizes a minimum of movements to fill a bag, remove the filled bag from the apparatus, and prepare the apparatus for filling a subsequent bag.
A related object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved packaging apparatus for use with a plurality of bags which engages substantially the full length of an open bag during the process of filling the 3,527,021 Patented Sept. 8, 1970 bag whereby suitable support for the bag is maintained.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent from a consideration of the specification and drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the packaging apparatus of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 22 of FIG. 1 illustrating sequential operation wherein the bag is fully opened by the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 illustrating the bag essentially full;
FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 1 and illustrates reciprocation of the apparatus to free the filled bag of all impediments preliminary to filling the next bag; and,
FIG. 5 is a timing chart of operation of the present invention.
Attention is first directed to FIG. 1 of the drawings which illustrates the preferred embodiment 8 of the present invention. An upstanding, enclosed cabinet 10 is adapted to receive a plurality of collapsed, folded bags 14 releasably supported or secured thereon in an upright position by a support member, such as a wicket 12, that pierces an upper lip on the rear side of each bag and along its mouth. An air duct 15 directs a stream of air toward the topmost folded bag to partially open the bag. As the bag partially opens, it is fully opened as its forward or outermost external surface is grasped by a vacuum engaging means 16 incorporating a plurality of small holes through which air is drawn to open the bag. The open bag is then fully open for receiving items to be packaged therein. After an interval of time during which the bag is filled, the vacuum engaging means 16 reciprocates on the means 18 with a sliding motion. The sliding motion pulls the vacuum engaged bag sufiiciently to tear the upper lip free of the Wicket 12 to then permit the bag to be supported solely by the vacuum engaging means. At this juncture, the vacuum is interrupted, freeing the filled bag of the vacuum engaging means and the apparatus. The vacuum engaging means is returned by the means 18 to its original position over the bags 14 to re-start the cycle of operation above described and to thereby provide an automatically sequenced repetitive bag-filling machine.
Considering the invention more in detail, the closed upright cabinet 10 is preferably a six-walled device fabricated of stainless steel or other substantial structural members. It has two portions, one being indicated by the numeral 20 and the other indicated at 21, the two portions being roughly equal in size. The portion 20 is more clearly shown in FIG. 2 as including a back wall 22 and upper surface 23, and a bag supporting plate 24. It will be noted that the embodiment 8 stands upright as illustrated in the sectional view of FIG. 2 although several operative steps are more conveniently described as though the apparatus 8 were positioned horizontally. The machine can operate at several attitudes ranging from the illustrated vertical position to an inclined position. For example, the topmost or uppermost bag refers to the bag exposed on the stack without regard to the angular position of the present invention.
Returning again to the construction of the means 20. a side wall parallel to the plane of FIG. 2 is incorporated on the opposite side of the apparatus and is provided with louvers or other vents to permit entrance of air to the blower means 25. The means 25 incorporates a conventional electric motor which drives a squirrel cage blower with air entering at opposite ends of the cage blower. It will be noted that the outlet 15 extends in the form of a slightly raised lip toward the bags 14 as best shown in FIG. 1. A jet of air directed toward the plurality of bags 14 at least partially opens the uppermost bag as will be described.
To provide a great quantity of bags needed in operation of the present invention, the plate 24 is loaded with a stack of bags. The pallet is pressed downwardly against a pair of springs 26 and 27 which maintain the plate 24 essentially parallel to the plate 22. The plurality of bags 14 is substantially thick when placed on the plate 24. For instance, two hundred fifty bags in one bundle or stack may be mounted on the plate as a single package. The bags are secured beneath the wicket 12 which clamps or pierces the upper lip along the rear of each of the bags, it being appreciated that the lower lip is clamped only by the stack of bags on it. As described in the co-pending disclosure, a metal bead 28 or small rod is welded or otherwise fixed to the plate 24 to form a slight hump in the bags so that the upper lip of the topmost bag tends to bow open for easy reception of the stream of air from the opening 15.
As disclosed in the co-pending application, the plurality of bags 14 are carried on the spring mounting so that the uppermost bag, whether the first or last of the stack, is
consistently positioned with respect to the air stream.
More specifically, the wicket shown in the co-pending disclosure is urged toward a lip which limits movement of the bags. The lip, being fixed in position, the topmost bag is registered with respect to the lip, and therefore with respect to the air stream. In the present embodiment, this is of some assistance.
The wicket 12 cooperates with the spring-loaded carrier plate 24 to feed the bags to the apparatus. As shown in the drawings, the width of the wicket 12 is substantially less than the width of the stacked and folded bags. The wicket 12 has a pair of pointed members or legs which penetrate holes in the upper lip. The bags are preferably perforated from the holes to the edge for easy tear-away from the wicket 12.
Attention is next directed to the upright cabinet portion 21. The means 21 preferably has a back wall coplanar with the wall 22 shown in FIG. 2. The volume of the means 21 is preferably less than that of the means in FIG. 1; one function of the means 21 is to support a vacuum source as will be described. A plurality of louvers (not shown) is formed in the reverse side to vent the outflow from the vacuum device. Other mechanical means, including the timing means to be discussed with regard to FIG. 5, are also included in the container 21.
The surface 32 of the means 21 has apparatus pertinent to movement of the vacuum engaging means 16 mounted on it. More particularly, a pair of facing guide members 33 and 34 are spaced apart with facing slots which receive the edges of the reciprocating member 18. The means 18 is limited in motion to reciprocation in the slots 33 and 34. The reciprocating means 18 is joined to the fixed side of a piano hinge 35 which serves as an axis of rotation of a support arm 36. The support arm 36 preferably incorporates a stop means for contact against the surface 18 to limit its rotation. The hinge 35 rotates the support arm 36 and the attached vacuum engaging means 16 to lift the vacuum engaging means 16 away from the bags 14 should the need arise as in adding additional bags to the stack. The vacuum engaging means 16 is joined to the support arm 36 by appropriate sheet metal fabrication techniques and preferably rests its full weight on the arm 36. As shown in FIG. 2, the lower edge 16a of the vacuum engaging means 16 is positioned above and is not rested on the bags 14, this view further showing the fact that the means 16 is preferably cantilevered above the bags 14.
When the vacuum engaging means 16 is moved about the hinge 35, access is permitted to the plate 24 to add or remove bags. Moreover, the stop means on the support arm 36 engaging the means 18 positions the vacuum engaging means with proper spacing from the bags 14. If desired, suitable attaching means are secured between the support arm 36 and the mounting plate 18 to fix the support arm in the position of FIG. 1 whereby the means 16. 18 and 36 reciprocate together as a unit.
As noted above, the vacuum engaging means 16 is a double walled device which is closed at the end walls indicated by 16b (FIG. 1). One opening 160, and several similar internally located openings within the substantially elongated structure suck the partially opened bag into the fully opened condition. The double walled construction confines the vacuum flow to the holes 16c. The source of vacuum is communicated through a flexible hose 40 connected with a cowling 41 joined with the side wall of the vacuum engaging means 16. The flexible hose or tubing 41 permits movement of the means 16 while communicating the vacuum fiow from the vacuum source to the means 16. The flexible tubing 40 passes into the cabinet means at a side wall to the vacuum source within the container means 21, it being appreciated that one suitable source is a conventional squirrel cage blower and electric motor.
Note should be taken of details of construction of the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1. Preferably, it is of substantial size to accommodate containers having a folded width of perhaps ten or twelve inches. The principal limitations on size result more from flimsiness of the bags rather than the present invention. The structure is substantially large to accommodate a large bag even though a smaller bag and vacuum engaging means 16 are installed. The height and width of the means 16 is subject to a range of variation and is, in large part, related to the more specific details of the package. The present invention is adapted for use with containers or bags which are relatively wide or narrow, as desired, and which also vary substantially in height. Also, the contour of the means 16 surrounding the bag is, in large part, determined by the shape of the container.
The present invention is preferably made of stainless steel or the like. Some environmental conditions for use of the present invention involve exposure to a variety of possibly corrosive chemicals, depending on the application of the present invention.
More should be noted concerning the apparatus concealed within the container 21. As noted hereinabove, the vacuum blower is installed preferably within the cabinet 10. The vacuum source is connected to the vacuum conduit 40 to draw air through the openings 16c into the double walled means 16. The vacuum flow continues to the vacuum pump or blower, and is vented to atmosphere.
Additional means are incorporated in the cabinet means 21. The reciprocating plate 18 is actuated by an appropriate mechanism providing oscillatory movement. One such means involves the use of an electric motor, clutch, if needed, drive shaft, and off-center cam 46. The cam 46 is rotated about an offset axis to impart eccentric motion to the plate 18 which rests on the cam. The range of movement is related to the offset between the center point of the cam 46 and the shaft on which it rotates. Preferably, speed changes are accommodated by an electric motor having variable speed characteristics. If desired, the motor is geared down to a slower rate of rotation by an appropriate gear box. However, the present invention has been found operative to speeds of perhaps thirty cycles of operation per minute, a rather rapid filling rate.
Attention is directed to the numbered views to more fully described operation of the present invention. In FIGS. 2 and 3, the opened bag is indicated by the numeral 14'. In FIG. 2, a number of loose particles indicated at 50 fall into the open mouth of the bag 14'. The source of the loose particles is beyond the scope of the present invention and is noted as being a conveyor, measuring device, inlet tube, or the like. In FIG. 3, the loose particles are accumulated in the bag 14'. It will be noted that the weight of the bag and the particles 50 is supported by vacuum engagement of the bag 14 with the vacuum engaging means 16. Also, some support is provided by the wicket 12 which is clipped through one lip of the bag.
In FIG. 4, the last operational step of the present apparatus is illustrated wherein the vacuum engaging means 16 reciprocates downwardly while engaging the bag 14'. It will be noted that the perforated bag 14' is torn free of the wicket 12 at the pre-formed holes. The downward movement of the vacuum means 16 is in response to the reciprocation of the carrier plate 18 and the support arm 36. As shown in FIG. 4, the downward movement of the present invention results from the rotating cam 46. Simultaneously with downward movement of the vacuum engaging means 16 is interruption of the vacuum flow to loosen the grip of the engaging means 16 on the filled container 14'. At the juncture illustrated in FIG. 4, the only support for the bag and the packaged ingredients is the vacuum, and when this is released, the bag and the packaged contents drop through the lower open end of the engaging means 16 to complete operation of the invention. Further packaging steps include cooperation with a conveyor belt which conducts the open-mouthed package to a sealing device which closes the package.
Note should be taken of the timing of the various and sundry steps in operation of the present invention. For this purpose, attention is directed to FIG. of the drawings. A timing chart representative of one cycle of opera- ,tion is shown, wherein the zero degree indication of the chart occurs when the carriage plate 18 is at its lowermost position (see FIG. 4). As defined above, this occurs after the down-stroke of the vacuum engaging means 16 which tears the filled package or bag from the wicket 12. The upstroke of the means 18 and 36 occurs during the first one hundred eighty degrees of the timing cycle. The down stroke occurs during the last one hundred eighty degrees of the cycle, it being appreciated that there is substantially no dwell time at the end of either stroke. Beginning near the mid-cycle point (after 180 of the cycle), the vacuum engaging means 16 is carried to the position of FIG. 1 and an air stream from the duct 15 opens the topmost bag 14. The bag pops open in a perhaps irregular manner and balloons at least fractionally to perhaps onethird of its size. At this point, vacuum flow is initiated and the air flow through the perforations 16c picks up the bag 14' and expands it to its full size. As shown in FIG. 5, the vacuum flow is maintained for the remainder of the cycle while the air stream is interrupted. Attention is particularly directed to the wave form 60 in FIG. 5 which illustrates the timing cycle during which the air stream flows. The air stream begins slightly before and in approximate synchronism with the movement of the vacuum engaging means 16 to its uppermost position (see FIG. 1). The wave form 60 indicates that the air stream flow is prolonged for an interval only sufficient to reliably open the mouth of the bag 14.
The numeral 62 indicates the vacuum flow timing chart which starts before interruption of the air stream flow 60. The vacuum fiovt continues to the end of the cycle. More particularly, vacuum flow is maintained while the vacuum engaging means 16 pulls away from the wicket 12 to tear the bag 14' free of the wicket. Only then is the vacuum terminated whereupon sufiicient time elapses during reciprocation of the engaging means 16 to its original position to permit the bag to drop free of the apparatus.
To provide air and vacuum flow, it is preferable to utilize constantly running motor driven blowers with actual air flow control achieved by butterfly or flapper valves. Moreover, the timing chart of FIG. 5 is preferably implemented in the present invention by the use of a shaft rotating in synchronism with the cam 56. The shaft rotates individual cams adjacent the contacts of microswitches whichcontrol solenoids positioning the butterfly valves to gate the air and vacuum flow off and on as illustrated in FIG. 5.
To further enhance understanding of the present invention, its use and operation will be described. The stack of bags is first loaded on the plate 24 in the followbag form having a hollowed portion with a perforated ing manner. Preferably, the bags are manufactured in registered stacks of perhaps two or three hundred. The bags are placed on the plate 24 and positioned on the head 28 which focuses the open mouth of the top bag to receive the air flow from the duct 15. The wicket 12, which is prepositioned in the holes in the bags, incorporates a pair of legs penetrating the bags which extend through openings in the plate 24. Since the width of the bag can vary as well as the width of the wicket 12, preferably a slot is formed in the plate 24 for receiving the wicket in position. This prepares the present apparatus for operation.
In operation, the present apparatus sequentially bags the products 50. By the use of automatic inserting equipment and automatic package sealing equipment, it is possible to fill as many as thirty bags per minute. When the apparatus uses all of the bags 14, refilling is quickly achieved by swinging the vacuum engaging means 16 out of the way for access to the plate 24. A stack of bags is placed on the plate24 in rapid order and the vacuum engaging means 16 is returned to the illustrated position of the drawings.
Should the apparatus be used for difl erent bag sizes or shapes, it is preferable to fabricate the vacuum engaging means 16 as a detachable item. More specifically, the cowling 41 is preferably a plug-in device which is connected with an opening of uniform size in a family of devices 16. Moreover, the same is true for connection with the support arm 36.
While numerous alterations and variations in the present invention can be noted, such as changes in the location of the apparatus and angle of position from that shown in the drawings, the scope of the present invention is determined by the claims appended hereto.
What is claimed is:
1. Apparatus adapted for sequentially packaging a plurality of articles into successive ones of a plurality of bags of a flexible, imperforate material and comprising: bag-supporting means adapted for releasably supporting a plurality of such bags initially stacked along a selected axis in a closed and flattened relationship; first means adapted or successively opening and separating the outermost bag from the other stacked bags and including a concave surface complementally defining the opened configuration of at least the forward portion of one of such bags, means operative for repetitively moving said bag form back and forth between a first position where said concave surface thereof is facing and adjacent the stacked bags for receiving the outermost one thereof and a second position where said bag form is transversely displaced a sufficient distance away from said selected axis and said bag-supporting means for releasing a bag retained on said bag form from said bag-supporting means, suction means operative for developing a reduced pressure within said hollowed portion of said bag form of sufficient magnitude to retain a bag opened against said concave surface upon movement of said bag form to its said second position for releasing a bag retained thereon from said bag-supporting means, and means adapted for selectively operating said suction means when said bag form is moving between its said first and second positions and discontinuing operation of said suction means when said bag form is in its said second position; and second means adapted for successively depositing articles into each of such opened bags before said bag form has moved to its said second position.
2. The packaging apparatus of claim 1 wherein said first means further include means adapted for directing a. stream of air toward the stacked bags in such a manner that the mouth of the outermost bag thereof will be at least partially opened upon operation of said suction means.
3. The packaging apparatus of claim 1 wherein each of the stacked bags have a rearward portion adjacent to its month and said bag-supporting means include a support adapted for piercing the rearward portions of the stacked bags so that movement of said bag form toward its said second position will be effective for tearing said rearward portion of a bag retained on said bag form from said support.
4. The packaging apparatus of claim 1 wherein said bag-supporting means include a support extending along said selected axis and adapted for releasably supporting the rearward portion adjacent to the mouth of each of the stacked bags; and said first means further include means supporting said bag form for reciprocating movement in a plane parallel to the forward portion of the stacked bags and intersecting said selected axis so that movement of said bag form toward its said second position will be effective for releasing the rearward portion of a bag retained on said bag form from said support.
5. The packaging apparatus of claim 4 wherein said support is adapted for piercing the rearward portions so that movement of said bag form will be effective for tearing the weakened portion of a bag retained on said bag form from said support.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner H. M. CULVER, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R. 53386