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Publication numberUS3550799 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 29, 1970
Filing dateNov 27, 1968
Priority dateNov 27, 1967
Also published asDE1810217A1
Publication numberUS 3550799 A, US 3550799A, US-A-3550799, US3550799 A, US3550799A
InventorsMarradi Renato
Original AssigneeAmerican Mach & Foundry
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatic tray feeder for cigarette packer
US 3550799 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Inventor Appl. No.

Filed Patented Assignee Priority Renato Marradi Bologna, Italy 779,362 Nov. 27, 1968 Dec. 29, 1970 American Machine & Foundry Company a corporation of New Jersey Nov. 27, 1967 Italy No. 7454A/67 AUTOMATIC TRAY FEEDER FOR CIGARETTE PACKER 6 Claims, 12 Drawing Figs.

US. Cl

51 Im. Cl A24c 5/356 [50] Field of Search 214/300, 301, 302, 307. 314, 313

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,681,160 6/1954 Molins et a1. 214/314X 3,190,478 6/1965 Schermund 214/307 3,332,560 7/1967 Niepmann 214/302 Primary Examiner-Hugo O. Schulz Attorneys-George W. Price and Eli Weiss ABSTRACT: Automatic tray loading means for a cigarette packer including means for transferring and inverting a tray over the hopper and for removing the tray therefrom.

' ATENTEUnmsrsm 3550.799

sum 1 0F 5 I NVENTOR.



SHEET 5 OF 5 INVENTOR. RENATO MARRADI ATTORNEY AUTOMATIC TRAY FEEDER FOR CIGARETTE PACKER hopper of the packer to maintain the packer at high speed. Generally, in these devices the cigarette trays are transferred and inverted over the hopper by a mechanism which holds the tray firmly and which, after inverting the full tray, maintains its hold and its position, stopping for the length of time required for the cigarettes to empty from the tray and to descent into the hopper. After descent of the cigarettes into the hopper, the same mechanism, still holding the tray, moves the tray into a discharge position and prepares to receive another full tray for subsequent inversion over the hopper.

During the cycling of the prior art devices, an inordinately long time is caused to elapse in which the tray inverting mechanism is arrested and in which the subsequent feeding of trays is delayed. Consequently, between the time one tray is unloaded and the time a second tray is placed ina position over the hopper, the level of cigarettes in the hopper may fall to a dangerously low point for high-speed operation and in any event to a point where the subsequent cigarettes are caused to fall through a long distance.

This invention is aimed atthe eliminating of the'time delay between the unloading of the trays and in particular to the provision of a tray inverting mechanism which does not stop during the period when one tray is being unloaded. Among the object '05 the invention is the elimination of the inconveniences noted above.

- Briefly, the present invention'is characterized by the provision of a mechanism by which the full tray is transferred and inverted, then held by a separate clamping mechanism, while the transferring devices is removed for use in subsequently transferring a second full tray. The holding or clamping portion of the mechanism being simultaneously used to remove the empty tray to the discharge station. By employing such a technique and mechanism, the idle time for replacing any empty tray with a full one is reduced to the minimum. The cigarette level in the packer hopper is decreased in an extremely small degree during this operation because of the ability to more quickly feed full trays in closer succession to one another.

' is slightly inclined downwardly toward the packer. A plurality of full trays 2 are held-between guide 8 laterally of the belt and are laid one after the other on the belt either by automatic.

conveying means or manually by machine operators. The end of the belt conveyor 5 which faces the packer is connected with a fixed supporting platform 9 which receives the forward most tray 102 of the complete row of trays resting on the conveyor belt. The trays'102 are indexed on the supporting plat-, form 9 by the movement of the index conveyor 5.

As shown in detail in FIGS. 2 and 4, each side of the supporting platform 9 is provided with a mechanism for stopping the forward motion of the trays and'for inverting the same into the hopper. This mechanism comprises a lever 11 pivoted about a pin 111 intermediate of its leg. The pin 111 is mounted in a bracket fixed to the frame 3. The lever 11 oscillates transversely to the path of conveyor 5 and is provided at its upper end with a laterally protruding pin 211 extending into the path of the moving trays 102. The lever 11 is provided at its lower end with a tension spring 12 fixed to the. frame 3. The spring 12 acts on the lower end of the lever 11 so as to .induce the top end of the lever to normally be biased outwardly so that the laterally protruding pin 21 1 is thus nonnally retracted from the path of the trays 2.- Rotatably mounted in the frame 3 so as to extend transversely below the path of the conveyor 5 and along its forward end is a rotating shaft 13. At the outward end of-the shaft 13, there is mounted an elongated arm 14 extending upwardly alongside the path of the trays 2.

I push rod 311 and consequently its lever 11, inwardly against the action of the spring 12 so that the stop pin 211 is generally within the path of the trays 2 and only upon rotation of the arm 14 and the cam 114, as explained later, does the stop pin 211 move out of the path of the trays 2. i

The oscillating arm 14 serves to introduce the first tray 102 of the successive member supported on platform 9 into the transferring and inverting device 10. The inverting device 10 is fastened to a shaft 13 which extends transversely to the belt 5 and is rotated alternatively in alternate directions by means of a double action pneumatic cylinder 15. The pneumatic cylinder 15 being operated-in the conventional manner by suitable means and solenoid control apparatus not shown. The

. oscillating arm 14 has at its top end a pin 214 which is carried restrictive manner and as an example of the invention.

Reference is made to the attached drawings wherein:

. FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of the tray loader according to the present'invention; FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of mechanism; 1

FIG. 3 is the same device viewed from the top; FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the detail of the tray inverting mechanism, and g FIGS. 5-12 illustrate the successive operating phases in a schematic elevation corresponding to that shown in FIG. 1.

In FIGS. 1-3, there is shown a packer hopper 1 being fed finished cigarettes contained in trays 2.

Trays 2, as seen in detail in.FIG. 2, consist of a generally rectangular box having an open front as well as an open top.

The tray loader comprises a frame 3 supporting a conveying the tray loader .device 4 on which the full trays 2 are moved. The conveying in a yoke bracket 314. The pin 214 is normally biased into the trajectory'of the moving trays 2 by a spring 16. A cam 17 is fixed to the frame 3 and enters into the yoke 314 whereby on oscillation of the lever 14, the pin 214 is'caused to be moved into or out of the trajectory of the moving trays 2.

Turning to FIG. 4, it will be observed'that'the oscillating arm is shown in its rest position. When it is in such position, its pin 214 is retracted with regard to the pin 211 of the stop lever 11 and engages fixed cam 17. The fixed cam 17 causes the pin 214 to be retracted operatively against the action of spring 16 so as to be in a nonactivated position in which it does not interfere with the movement of the trays 2 on the conveyor 5. Simultaneously with this the lever 11 is 'pushed by the cam 114 into its locked position in which its pin 211 protrudes into the trajectory of the trays 2. Thus, the first tray of the successive trays 2 is separated from the second of the trays and can be transferred by the belt 5 directly onto the supporting platform 9 passing freely beyond the pin 214 and stopping its forward motion against the pin 211. Subsequently, arm 14 is caused to rock forward in the direction of arrow F1 of FIG. 4 by action of the corresponding rotation of the shaft 13.1n the first phase of this oscillation, the cam 114 releases the stop lever 11 which thus is caused to pivot operablyagainst it by action of the spring 12 and is brought to its release position in which the pin 211 retracts from the trajectory 102. Simultaneously, the

pin 214 on the arm 14 disengages from its-fixed cam 17 and is ;pushed by the spring 16 inwardly into active position in which @it protrudes behind the corresponding rear edge of the tray Y which another full tray 2 is fed by the belt conveyor onto the supporting platform 9. The two oscillating arms 14 located on opposite sides of the supporting platform 9 are fastened onto the same transversal shaft 13 and thus cooperate in unison to move the trays 102.

The inverting device 10 comprises substantially an open from box suitable for receiving a tray 2. The box is slightly larger than the tray 2 and is enclosed on its top by a suitable cover 110 which can be slidably open by a mechanism I8 to be hereinafter described. The inverting device 10 is fastened I to a supporting stirrup 19 mounted on a horizontal shaft 20 which extends between the full tray feeder 4 and the packer ropper I. The stirrup is free to slide with respect to the shaft 20 and caused to slide forward and backward along the shaft according to the arrows F6 and F7. The inverting device 10 can thus be brought alternatively in front of the fully tray conveying device or in front of the packer hopper 1. This displacement of the stirrup 19 on shaft 20 is obtained by means of a double action pneumatic cylinder 21 which acts on an oscillating lever 22 pivoted at 122 on frame 3 and which is articulated by means of a connecting rod 23 fastened to the stirrup 19.

The shaft 20 is freely mounted in bearing block 120 on the frame 3, and is rotated in both directions by means of the double efi'ect pneumatic unit 24 which is similar to the other double action pneumatic devices. When the inverting unit contains a fully tray in front of the hopper 1, the shaft 20 is rotated so as to lift the inverting unit 10 and to arrange it in inverted position over the hopper l. A fixed vertical panel 25 generally oftransparent plastic is provided over the back of the hopper 1 so as to close the front side of the tray 2 when it is inverted over the hopper 1, preventing the cigarettes from falling out.

, Provided laterally over the packer hopper 1 is a clamping device 26 adapted to grip the corresponding top corners of each of the trays 22 as they are inverted by the inverting unit 10. To ensure gripping of the tray by the clamping unit 26, part of the corresponding bottom comer of the tray container constituting the inverting device 10 is removed as indicated at position 210 in FIG. 1. The clamping unit 26 is mounted on a support 27 on which it runs horizontally forward and backward according to the arrows F9 and F10 (FIGS. 1, 2 and 3). In this manner, the support 26 can be made to move close to and then away from the tray 2 once it is inverted over the hopper l. The movement of the clamping unit 26 is operated by a double action pneumatic feed cylinder 28 mounted on the support 27. The support 27 is itself fastened eccentrically by means of plate 30 to a horizontal shaft 29. The shaft 29 is transversally located to the direction of movement of arrows F9 and F10 of the clamping unit 26. The shaft 29 is mounted freely to rotating bearings 31 on the frame 3. Shaft 29 is rotated 180 alternatively in one direction and then the other by means of a double action pneumatic unit 32. With the rotation of shaft 29 and consequently of support 27, and unit 26,

the tray 2 is inverted over the hopper I while gripped by the clamping unit 26. The tray is then transferred, after it has been emptied, onto a discharging device 33 located on the side of the clamping unit 26 opposite to the hopper 1. The opening and closing of the clamping unit jaws themselves may be obtained by any suitable means not illustrated herein.

The discharge device 33 consists of substantially horizontal supporting bars 34 on which trays 2 may be laid transversally upright by means of clamping unit 26. Mounted parallel to the supporting bars 34 on guides 35 is a support 136 which is part of a forked pusher bar 36 which engages the tray 2 when it is laid upon the supporting bar 34. The pusher bar 36 pushes the tray one pitch forward on'the bars in the direction of arrows F4 as seen in FIGS. 2 and 3. After so moving the tray the pusher bar 36 returns to its starting position, clearing itself out of the way for the reception of a new tray 2. The reciprocal motion of the pusher 36 is operated in synchronism with the oscillating motion of clamping "unit 26, by a fluted cylindrical cam 37. The cam 37 is fastened to the clamping unit 26 through shaft 29. Cam 37 helpsi engage a slidable rod (FIG. 3) to which is articulated the end of a lever 39, pivoted at 139 on frame 3. The other end of lever 39islarticulated at 239 to support 136 of pusher 36. I

The operation of the apparatus" this described occurs cyclically and automatically according'to the phases illustrated in FIGS. 5 through 12. The operating cycle is actuated by a photoelectric cell when the cigarette level in packer hopperl descends below a preset limit. In this initial phase of'operation, as seen in FIG. 5, tray transferring and inverting unit 10 is in front of full tray feeding device 4 which has already received a full tray 102, as previously described. An empty tray 202 is in an inverted position on hopper 1 and is gripped: and held in place by clamping unit 26 which is turned towards hopper 1 and man advanced position inthis direction.

After starting the operating cycle, shaft 29 together with I support 27 and consequently also clamping unit26, rotate 180 in the direction of arrow F5 v(FIG. 6) overturning laterally empty tray 202 which is continued to be gripped by clamping unit 26. The overturned tray 202 is transferred to supporting bars 34 of discharging device 33 (FIG. 7). At the same time, the rotation of shaft 29 causes the backward sliding of pusher 36 by the rotation of cam 37 and lever 39, whereby empty tray 202 is laid on to supporting bars 34 before the pusher 36 is retracted. The clamping unit 26 opens and retracts leaving empty tray 202 on supporting bars 34 of discharging device 33. While clamping unit 26 is inverted, the inverting unit 10 itself is caused to slide on shaft 20 by means of cylinder 21 and lever 22. The inverting unit is movedin the direction of arrow F6 towards hopper 1 (FIG. 6) and is caused to stop in front of said hopper (FIG. 7). Subsequently, inverting unit 10 oscillates or rotates upward in the direction of arrow F3 of FIG. 8 and after a full corresponding rotation of shaft 20, operated by pneumatic unit 24, the full tray 202 is inverted onto hopper 1.

During this operation, the sliding cover of inverting unit 10 is held in closed position and constitutes the bottom of inverted tray 102. Thereafter, sliding cover 110 is opened by means of the mechanism 18 provided on inverting'unit 10 which engages an actuating mechanism 40 operated by pneumatic cylinder 41 (FIGS. 1 and 2). Thereupon cigarettes in inverted tray 102 descend into packer hopper 1. At the same time, the support 27 of clamping unit 26. rotates backward in the direction of arrow F8 (FIG, 8) so as to cause clamping unit 26 to face hopper l again. During this backward inversion of empty clamping unit 26, the pusher 36 is caused to slide forward in the direction of arrow F4. Due to the action of cam 37 and of lever 39, the empty tray 202 is caused to move one step forward on supporting bars 34 of discharging 9 tray is held stably in this position by means of clamping unit 26' during which time the tray is emptied of cigarettes. As the tray 102 is held by the clamping unit 26, the inverting unit 10 returns itself immediately to its starting position, oscillating backward in the direction of arrow F2 (FIG. 10) andz'then sliding laterally on shaft 20 in the direction of arrow F7 (FIG. 11). The inverting unit I0 stops again in front of full tray feeder 4 ready to receive a new tray (FIG: 12). During or before the backward rotation of inverting unit 10, the cover 110 is main tained closed.

It will thus be seen that there is herein provided an apparatus for the simultaneous inversion of a full tray and for the removal of an empty tray whereby successive trays may be fed to an automatic packaging machine full of cigarettes emptied therein and removed therefrom with a minimum, if not any, loss of time involved. Clearly, with this construction, the loading of a cigarette'packaging machine is increased in speed and the distance in which cigarettes are pennitted to freely'fall is reduced to a minimum.

It is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to a specific device shown since it is'clear that mechanisms such as pneumatic double acting cylinders may be replaced with electrical solenoid devices operating in the same manner and that other specific mechanical devices may be likewise replaced with equivalent structures. Since many changes can be made to the description without departing from the spirit of the invention, it is intended that the scope of the present invention be limited to appended claims and not to the description preceding. i


1. Apparatus for unloading trays of cigarettes into the hopper of a cigarette packing machine having a receiving station for delivery of full trays and a discharge station for the reception of empty trays, comprising transfer means movable between said receiving station and said hopper, said transfer means removing a full tray from said receiving station and inverting the same over said hopper, a clamping unit which grips said tray at opposing corners of one edge along the width of the tray during delivery of the cigarettes into the hopper and during movement to the discharge station movable between said hopper and said discharge station, said clamping unit full-and em'pty trays are being simultaneously transferred.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1 in which saidclamping unit is mounted on as oscillating arm located between the packer and the discharge station and includes means for rotating said arm about one end thereof so as to reinvert said tray forplacement at the discharge station in upright position;

3. The apparatus according to claim 2 including means for moving said clamping unit laterally of the hopper whereby said unit may be moved into engagement with said tray on placement of said tray by said transfer means and away from said hopper while gripping an empty tray 'prior to reinversion of said empty tray.

4. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said transfer means comprises a support for said tray, said support being mounted on a stirrup, said stirrup being slidably mounted on a rotatable shaft, means for reciprocating said stirrup on said shaft, and means for alternatively rotating said shaft whereby said tray support isremoved from said conveyor and over turned at said hopper,

5. The apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said tray conveyor includes means for indexing said trays and means for separating the leading tray for entry into said tray support of said transfer means.

6. The apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said tray support comprises a box having its corners, in inverted position, removed, permitting entry of the clamping unit to said tray.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4319861 *Feb 21, 1980Mar 16, 1982G.D Societa Per AzioniMagazine-type cigarette feeding apparatuses for a cigarette packaging machine
US4482282 *Jan 11, 1982Nov 13, 1984John MuellerApparatus and method for supplying articles
US4661034 *Apr 29, 1985Apr 28, 1987Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works, Ltd.Bar-like member supplying method and device
US4690604 *Jul 6, 1984Sep 1, 1987Molins PlcConveying apparatus for rod-like articles
US4696617 *Oct 10, 1984Sep 29, 1987Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works, Ltd.Apparatus for feeding bar-like materials
US4784566 *Jun 25, 1987Nov 15, 1988Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works LimitedMethod for feeding bar-like materials
US5435688 *Apr 28, 1993Jul 25, 1995Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works LimitedBar-like article supplying apparatus
US6986632 *Oct 25, 2002Jan 17, 2006G.D Societa' Per AzioniMethod and unit for feeding elongated elements
US20030113195 *Oct 25, 2002Jun 19, 2003G.D Societa' Per AzioniMethod and unit for feeding elongated elements
EP0141557A1 *Oct 12, 1984May 15, 1985Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works LimitedMethod and apparatus for feeding bar-like materials
U.S. Classification414/421, 414/300
International ClassificationA24C5/00, A24C5/356
Cooperative ClassificationA24C5/356
European ClassificationA24C5/356