US 3568400 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
March 9, 1971 R. w, P 3,568,400
BAGGING MACHINE Filed Jan. 21, 1969 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG?! J J I Robert Wv Pitts INVENTOR BY MAM A T TORNE Y March 9, 1971 R. w. PITTS BAGGING MACHINE Filed Jan. 21, 1969 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. 6
I5 Sheets-$heet 3 Filed Jan. 21, 1969 FIG. 9
Robert W Pitts lNVENTOR AT TORNEY United States Patent Oflice Patented Mar. 9, 1971 US. Cl. 53183 14 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE For use in wrapping merchandise to be sold or goods and piece parts in individual sealed pouches or bags, apparatus which comprises means for transferring the goods to be packaged or bagged through a directed chute with a stream of air blowing against a pouch formed 111 an elongate, laterally seamed, double-fold of sealing film of any suitable material, said apparatus simultaneously opening the pouch on drawing one side against a plurality of holes on an adjacent surface through which a vacuum flow is drawn, and causing the other side to pucker when the first side is pulled against a pair of bars which contort the bag into the puckered or opened posture for rece ving the goods, said apparatus repetitively drawing the strip of bags through the apparatus to form the various seals and to completely seam the open bag at the upper edge and to thereafter serrate or tear the filled bags from the strip as desired.
RELATED APPLICATIONS Applicant has no presently pending related applications.
SUMMARY OF PROBLEM AND INVENTION Many materials are sold in pouch bags. For instance, LP (long play) records are typically placed in a cardboard jacket and the jacket is sealed in a heat-shrinked film to prevent dust from entering the jacket. Quite often, convenience stores, hardware stores, and other outlets sell nuts and bolts, screws, and other small items in small packages. An effective way of selling such packages is the display of a strip of packages, perhaps ten or twenty, wherein each package is individually sealed but is still a portion of the strip. Thus, an individual may desire only one package of a given size of screws. On the other hand, another customer may desire five packages of the same screw. In either case, the customer tears off the number of packages desired, and by these means, get the desired quantity of goods in a self-service manner.
Pouch forming machines heretofore have been found Wanting in numerous regards. Consequently, other more elaborate techniques have been used for forming the film package for LP records, screws, nuts and bolts, household wares and the like as noted above. The present invention is a packaging apparatus useful in very small or quite sizeable packages which are formed in individual pouches or bags which are either sold singly or torn from the strip of several packages. The present invention is summarized as including a horizontal guideway which is fed with a strip of suitable film, such as polyvinyl, folded along the center to form a double layer of film. Transverse seams are formed at spaced locations to divide the elongate strip into a suitable number of individual pouches. The goods are placed in each package or pouch and the pouch is fully sealed.
While the foregoing summarizes the present invention, a more complete understanding thereof may be obtained from a consideration of the following specification and included drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a front view of the pouch bagging machine of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 22 of FIG. 1 disclosing a seam forming apparatus;
FIG. 3 is a. sectional view taken along the line 33 of FIG. 1 showing details of construction of means for varying the length of the bags or pouches formed by the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 3 disclosing details of a clamp means useful in handling the bags as they are transferred along the length of of the apparatus;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along the line 55 of FIG. 1 showing details of the product feed mechanism;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along the line of 6-6 of FIG. 5 showing the feed of the film for forming pouches or bags and how the bag is opened to receive the product;
FIG. 7. is an alternative embodiment to that shown in FIG. 1 which forms its own transverse seams in the bags;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken along the line 8-8 of FIG. 7 disclosing an alternative embodiment of means for pulling the strip of film through the apparatus in which bags are sequentially formed; and
FIG. 9 is a schematic wiring diagram of the present apparatus.
Attention is first directed to FIG. 1 of the drawings which illustrates a front view of the apparatus of this invention which is indicated by the numeral 10. The packaging machine 10 includes several major components which are briefly described, a spool of film 11 at the righthand end of the apparatus, a chute 12 for directing the product to be packaged downwardly with a stream of air from a tubing 13 which blows open the package. The film on the spool 11 is several hundred feet long. The film is preferably folded double to form a seam at the bottom of 11a. Transversely extending seams are formed at spaced locations such as 11b. A pouch is formed between adjacent transverse seams 11b and opens upwardly to receive the product from the chute 12. The film is pulled from the roll 11 with an upwardly opening pouch which is pulled shut because of the tightness of the film on the spool. When the film is positioned beneath the chute 12, the air flow from the tubing 13 blows open the pouch and a vacuum pulled through the vent means 14 pulls on one side of the pouch to thereby draw it open. With one side wall of the pouch pulled into the vent means 14 and with a jet of air directed downwardly into the pouch, it opens sufiiciently to permit the goods to drop into the opening of the container. After the goods are placed in the pouch, the apparatus 10 further functions to seal the open upper end of the pouch to form the individual sealed container, and the apparatus reciprocates to the left as viewed in FIG. 1 to prepare for filling the next pouch. The filled pouch or bag is easily separated from the strip of filled bags for sale individually or may be delivered to a retail outlet attached to the string of similar filled bags for sale in that manner.
Considering the invention more in detail, attention is momentarily directed to FIG. 6 which is a sectional view of the right-hand end of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1. In FIG. 6, the spool 11 is shown mounted on a shaft 16 which free wheels as the film is fed to the left in front of the apparatus 10. As shown in FIG. 1, the shaft 16 includes a hub 16a which supports the spool. The hub is preferably attached by means of a set screw or the like to adjust upwardly and downwardly on the shaft 16. The adjustment accommodates film of any width. The shaft 16 extends downwardly into a bearing housing 17 which supports the shaft 16. Preferably the shaft 16 rotates freely as the film is pulled from the spool. However, slight drag is included in rotating the spool 11 to maintain moderate or slight tension in the film. If the film is too taut, it is difficult to open the pouch for packaging the goods. On the other hand, if the film is too loose, its behavior at the vacuum vent means 14 in the presence of the stream of air from the tubing 13 is erratic.
Attention is directed to FIG. of the drawings which shows a perpendicularly extending flange 20 which supports the film 11. The flange 20 also includes an upstanding fence 20a which loosely maintains the film in the upright position shown in FIG. 5. Of course, after the product is placed in the film, it is being moved on edge and the weight may be sufiicient to cause the partially completed packages to topple over in the apparatus. Consequently, the fence 20a guides the partially completed packages through the apparatus.
In FIG. 1, the fence 20a is shown joined to the L- shaped stock of which the support and guide means 20 is formed, the combined apparatus being movable upwardly and downwardly on the guide bars 21 and 22. The guide bars 21 and 22 are preferably parallel to one another and are slightly behind the front face of the apparatus 10. A connective bracket 21a extends rearwardly from the flange 20 to engage the guide bar 21. The connective bracket 21a is preferably welded or otherwise joined to the means 20. Preferably the guide bar 21 is held in position to provide true alignment of the fence means 20. A set screw or the like fastens the means 20 at a desired elevation with respect to the film.
From the foregoing, it will be understood that the movable hub 16a and the means 20 are jointly raised or lowered to accommodate film of a greater or lesser width. Thus, the apparatus of the present invention may be used to package small articles such as nuts or bolts in the film bags of perhaps two inches in depth. On the other hand, even larger items such as folded shirts, LP records, food items and the like, may be packaged with the present invention without regard to increased size.
Attention is next directed to FIG. 5 of the drawings which shows the air fiow through the tubing or duct 13 into the chute 12. The chute 12 is enlarged at the upper end and communicates with a feed means 25 which periodically supplies the goods to be packaged for the apparatus. The horizontal bagging machine is adapted to package items of great variety. Hence, the precise nature of the feed means 25 is subject to variation. However, the feed means 25 periodically dispenses a measured quantity of the goods to be packaged. For instance, the measured quantity may be one, two or three units of merchandise, On the other hand, the quantity may be measured by weight or volume as desired. In any case, the means 25 places the goods 26 in the chute 12 to slide by gravity to the open lower end of the chute 12. The mouth of the chute is indicated by the numeral 120: and is located immediately adjacent to the open bag to be filled which is indicated by the numeral He in FIG. 5. The goods 26 slide from the mouth of the chute 12 into the opened pouch or bag He. The bag 11c is held open as mentioned hereinbefore by the flow of air from the mouth of the chute 12 which causes the two side walls of the bag to separate, and at the further urging of the vacuum flow means 14 which engages the adjacent wall of the bag or pouch.
In the foregoing, the apparatus 10 sits upright as shown in FIG. 1. Of course, the apparatus 10- may be laid on its back and the goods placed in the bag by suitable means.
The horizontalbagging machine 10 includes'a major component which is essentially a rectangular chest-like cabinet or structure. The end wall is closed at 27 in FIG. 6. As shown in FIG. 5, the structure is preferably fabricated of a bottom plate 28, parallel side plates 29 and 30, and a top plate 31. The plates are preferably rectangular and are joined to form an air tight chamber. A
squirrel cage motor is indicated at 32 and directs a jet of air downwardly at 33. The opening 33 is in the bottom plate 28 and is spaced above the work surface or table on which the apparatus is supported by a set of feet at 4 35 and 36. The squirrel cage blower 32 is of conventional construction to draw air through the openings 14 into the case or cabinet. The flow is sufiiciently great to pull the film wall of the package against the openings 14. One should bear in mind that the particular embodiment of a vacuum system shown is not the only embodiment, and many other systems exist whereby air is pulled through the openings 14. For example, a conduit conducting air from the openings 14 to a suitable vacuum pump is quite acceptable. The exhaust fan 32 runs continuously while the apparatus is operative. The vacuum is sufficiently strong to hold the side wall of the bag 11e when the film strip is not moving but is sufficiently weak to be broken when the film strip is moved. This then permits the means 14 to engage consecutive bags as they are positioned opposite the holes and to open each one consecutively.
The package dispensing means 25 is shown supported in FIG. 1 on the brace means 38 and 39.
Attention is next directed to FIG. 6 which shows the same right-hand end of the horizontal bagging apparatus 10. In FIG. 6, a bracket 40 supports a squirrel cage blower 41 which runs continuously to force air into the flexible tubing 13. The squirrel cage blower 41 is installed at the point shown as a matter of convenience. The flexible tubing 13 extends from the back of the cabinet over the dispensing means 25 and is connected with the downwardly opening chute 12 as described before.
In FIG. 6, slidable or adjustable covers 44 and 45 control or determine the width of the means 14. The covers 44 and 45 hang from the upper edge of the cabinet and are movable toward or away from one another to reduce or increase the width of the vacuum flow means 14. As more specifically shown in FIG. 5, the means 44 has a lip which extends over onto the top 31 to engage a groove parallel to the front of the cabinet. The groove provides a track for the cover 44 as it moves to the left or right. To enlarge the openings, the covers 44 and 45 are separated. The width of the vacuum flow means 14 is preferably related to the width of the bag as will be described.
In FIG. 5, the cover means 44 and 45 support wedge shaped blocks 46 which cause the bag 112 to pucker open. As better shown in FIG. 6, the wedge shaped members 46 attached to the covers 44- and 45 protrude in front of the vacuum flow means 14. This spaces the material of the closed bag some distance from the vacuum flow means 14. However, the vacuum flow is sufficient to draw the side wall of the closed bag against the holes at its end partially around the wedge shaped members 46. Since this pulls the inside wall of the bag away from its path, the outer wall is warped or distorted either with or away from the inside wall. A blast of air from the tubing 13 opens the pouch. The depth of the opening is controlled by the depth of the wedge shaped members 46 and the distance between them.
The cover means just described may be attached or located in many different ways, the described method being only one embodiment of the invention. It is further evident that the wedge shaped member 46 may be deepened, elongated, or altered in shape to accommodate many different types of packages. The two members need not necessarily be identical. Further, the members 46 may be pivotally hinged or otherwise mounted for movement from the path of the moving pouch once it has been filled. Again, when the covers '44 and 45 are moved, the above described means still functions without regard to the width of the bag to provide an opening for receiving the goods to be packaged.
To this juncture, the description of the horizontal bagging machine 10 has been primarily concerned with the apparatus at the right-hand portions of the equipment. The description of the apparatus has been primarily devoted to the method by which the bag is removed from the spool 16 and is placed adjacent the vacuum flow means 14 to be drawn open for receiving the goods to be packaged therein. The remainder of the apparatus reciprocates to draw the bags sequentially to the packaging station beneath the chute 12 to thereafter form the last seam needed to close the individual packages and to then separate the bags, if desired, to complete the packaging process.
Attention is next directed to FIG. 2 of the drawings which is a sectional view through the apparatus which forms the upper seam or seal in the bag. As will be recalled, the film on the spool 16 is formed into a series or sequence of completed bags which have a bottom seam formed by the fold, spaced transverse seams 11b as shown in FIG. 1, and an upper opened end in the bag which receives the goods to be packaged through the chute 12. The mouth of the bag is preferably sealed after the goods are placed therein. The apparatus shown in FIG. 2 is the sealing means and comprises a platen 50 which is contacted against the two film walls of the bag to be sealed and presses the film against an electrically heated wire 51. The platen 50 is of substantial length as shown in FIG. 1. The length is sufficient to span across at least one bag width as defined by the transversely extending seams 11b. Moreover, the platen 50 is carried on a pair of movable arms 52 which pivot about a pin connection at 53 as shown in FIG. 2. The pin 53 is fixed in position by up wardly extending mounting brackets 54 on the top cabinet wall 31. Each arm 52 is mounted in the same manner so that the platen 50 moves evenly and uniformly away from or toward the electrically heated sealing wire 51. The platen 50 in the preferred embodiment is preferably formed of angle stock. One side of the angle stock is drilled at appropriate locations to form suitable holes through which the furthest tips of the movable arms 52 are passed. The arms 52 are threaded at the movable ends and suitable nuts lock the angle stock 50 in position. The side of the angle stock which faces the heater element 51 includes a rubber face covered with a strip of material such as polytetrafluroethylene for insulating purposes and for easy release of the bag material. Consequently, the heat either melts or cures the thermoplastic film or other material to form a seal. There are other methods of sealing materials of the type described, and such means as sonic or heated rollers may be installed by those skilled in the art.
The mounting arm 52 extends toward the lower fioor 28 of the cabinet as shown in FIG. 2. A solenoid 56 is mounted on the floor 28 and incorporates an armature 57 which is pin connected to the arm 52. The lower end of the arm 52 has an eyelet which is aligned with an eyelet on the end of the armature 57 and the two are pinned together. Additionally, the pin is a point of connection for a return spring 58 which is anchored to the front wall 30. The return spring 58 pulls the lower end of the arm 52 to the left as viewed in FIG. 2. The solenoid, when actuated, pulls the lower end of the arm 52 in the direction of the arrow to move the platen 50. When the solenoid 56 is operated, the platen 50 is pressed against the electric heater 51. This provides the seal across the upper end of the opened bag. n the other hand, when the solenoid is de-energized, the spring 58 pulls the platen 50 away from the electric heater wire 51 to thereby permit the bag to be moved along the face of the cabinet and to position another bag for sealing. The above steps are repeated by the apparatus in timed sequence as will be described hereinafter.
FIG. 2 further includes a rail 60 which is supported by an upstanding bracket at spaced locations along the equipment. The rail 60 provides a track for a reciprocating mechanism as will be described hereinafter. The rail 60 passes below the arms 52 which are looped over it to avoid mechanical interference.
Attention is next directed to 'FIG. 1 of the drawings for a description of the reciprocating apparatus which draws the bags in the film strip to the left of the equip ment to maintain sequenced operation of the filling means at 12 and the sealing means 50 described hereinbefore. In FIG. 1, the rails 60 extend to the left and beyond the equipment to an end plate 61. Two parallel slide bars support a movable microswitch 64, the bars being indicated by the numerals 65 and 66. The bars 65 and 66 are better shown in FIG. 3 immediately below the rail with a view of holding the microswitch 64 at a predetermined location for purposes to be described hereinafter. The bars and 66 extend from the end plate 62 to the end of the cabinet proper. The microswitch 64 is clamped to the bars 65 and 66 by the adjustable clamp device 67. As shown in FIG. 3, the means 67 is a split lock clamp having two portions, the left-hand portion being joined to the microswitch proper and the right-hand portion be ing placed on the opposite side of the bars 65 and 66. A bolt is passed through the right-hand half and is threadedly engaged with a tapped opening in the left-hand portion. As the bolt is tightened, the two portions clamp the bars 65' and 66 to fix the location of the microswitch. As shown in FIG. 1, the microswitch is communicated by suitable wiring to the control system schematically shown in FIG. 10 and which will be described hereinafter.
The location of the microswitch is varied by the means described above. When the microswitch 614 is positioned, a reciprocating means 70 trips the microswitch for purposes as will be described. The means 70 is carried on the rail means 60 to move to and fro along the path illustrated.
The means 70 comprises a reciprocating clamp which grabs or grasps the left-most bag or pouch in the machinery. As viewed in FIG. 1, the full line position of the means 70 is strategically located to grasp a bag after it is sealed to thereby draw the whole procession of bags and film from the spool 11 at the right-hand end of the equipment. The dotted line position of FIG. 1 shows the lefthand extremity of movement as adjusted by the location of the solenoid 64. Thus, the means 70 provides the motive means for moving the film through the equipment. That is to say, it pulls the film from the spool 11, positions the bag to be filled beneath the chute 12., positions a filled bag below the seam forming means 50- to close the open side in the individual bag in question, and pulls the bags from the equipment, either by tearing them from the rest of the bags or by pulling the entire string of attached bags onto a conveyor or other suitable equipment.
The means 70 reciprocates on the rail 60. It is guided by a number of wheels captured in the rail which rotate freely about the respective axes which are joined to and supported from a frame support member 71. As shown in FIG. 1, the forwardmost wheel bears against the lower inside curvature of the rail 60 while the second wheel 73 bears against the upper curvature of the rail 60. The wheel 74 again bears against the lower curvature of the rail. FIG. 3 also shows the wheels in the illustrated position. The wheels prevent sway of the means 70 and guide it in a generally upright posture as shown in FIG. 3.
The frame member 71 is connected to an upstanding member 75 as shown in FIG. 3 which is then connected to a handle 76. The handle permits hand operation and cycling of the means 70 as may be desired. The handle 76 is relatively easily grasped and reciprocated to and fro.
A pivot pin 77 (see FIG. 1) provides an axis of rotation for a lever 78. As shown in FIG. 3, the lever 78 carries one-half of a set of clamps which is indicated by the numeral 79. The opposing clamp is indicated by the numeral and is fixedly joined to the frame member 71 and the upstanding member 75. Thus, the lever 78 and the upstanding frame member 75 are rotated somewhat in the fashion of a pair of scissors about the pivot 77 to bring the clamp members 79 and 80 together. Of course, the clamp members are separated by rotation in the opposite direction. Since the member 75 is held in the upright position by the arrangement of the wheels 72 and 73 in the rail 60, the lever 78 provides all of the rotative movement necessary for the apparatus.
The clamp 80 is carried behind the sealed packages indicated by the numeral 1171 in FIG. 3. As will be recalled, the filled packages are held upright by the fence means which has the upstanding guide on it. The clamp means 80 is thus behind the plane of the packages and does not interfere with the movement of the packages. On the other hand, the clamp means 79 is located to the front of the filled package 1171 as viewed in FIG. 1. Consequently, closing of the clamp members 79 and '80 grasps the package to pull the string of packages and partially completed packages from the spool 11 through the horizontal packaging apparatus 10.
It will be appreciated that the clamps 79 and 80 hold and secure the package and film strip as the means 70 reciprocates from the full line position of FIG. 1 to the dotted line position at the left. This movement draws the film through the apparatus 10. Of course, the length of the stroke or movement of the means 70 is preferably related to the width of the packages.
As mentioned hereinbefore, the microswitch 64 is adjustable in its location on the parallel slide bars 65 and 66. A switch bumper 81 is appended to the lower portions of the frame member 71 and is so positioned that as the means 70 reciprocates, the switch bumper 81 depresses the microswitch 64 to actuate it. This is shown in the dotted line representation of FIG. 1.
The movement to the right of the reciprocating means 70 is limited by the switch mechanism best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 together. In FIG. 4, a slide bar 82 is shown slidably resting on the upper surface of the cabinet comprising the present invention. The slide bar 82 is guided in its movement by the bolts 83 and 84 which are screwed into the upper wall of the cabinet and which are not pulled tightly against the slide bar. Thus, the slide bar is free to slide to the left and right as viewed in FIG. 4 with the slots formed in the bar 82 accommodating the two noted bolts. The slide bar 82 is pulled to the right as viewed in FIG. 4 by a spring 85 which is anchored at its right-hand end to a tab or bracket fixedly attached to the upper surface of the cabinet and the left-hand end of the spring 85 is connected to a projecting arm on the slide bar 82. As will be appreciated, the quiescent position of the slide bar 82 is to the right in response to the urging of the spring 85. The limits on movement to the right are determined by the elongate slots which abut the bolts 83 and 84 on extreme movement.
One end 86 of the slide bar 82 projects over the side of the cabinet. As shown in the downwardly looking view of FIG. 4, the end 86 extends over the filled packages 11h. The slide bar is moved to the left as viewed in FIG. 4 when the clamps 79 and 80 are brought together. As a consequence of such movement, a microswitch 88 is actuated. The microswitch is of conventional construction and includes a roller which is best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 mounted on a lever arm which extends from the enclosure containing the switch proper. Thus, as the slide bar 82 is moved to the left, the microswitch 88 is actuated to provide a suitable electrical signal for synchronizing the present apparatus.
Movement of the means 70 to either position is preferably achieved by hand operation. Hand operation preferably initiates the scissor-type action of the clamps 79 and 80 shown in FIG. 3.
Attention is next directed to FIG. 9 of the drawings which illustrates the control circuitry for the present invention. A switch 93 is used to turn off and on the equipment by supplying current at line potenial. When the switch 93 is turned on, the blowers 32 and 41 are energized. They may remain on indefinitely for the functions previously noted.
The schematic of FIG. 9 includes the microswitches 64 and 88. They are electrically connected to a mechanical latching relay 94. Thus, when the switch 64 is actuated, one of the two coils in the mechanical latching relay is energized and the contacts are opened. On the other hand, when the relay 88 is momentarily closed, another coil in the relay 94 is energized and the armature is switched to the closed position. Both the open and closed positions are maintained even after electrical power is removed from the respective relay coils. Hence, the relay is a latching relay of a type well known.
Closure of the armature contacts in the relay 94 provides electrical power to the solenoid 56. Further, a timing relay 95 is energized. As shown in the drawings, the relay 95 is mechanically connected to the solenoid 56. The relay 95 times the application of power to the transformer 96. The transformer 96 applies electrical power to the heating element 51 which forms the top seal of the bag.
From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that the platen 50 is clamped against the heating element 51 by operation of the solenoid 56. Preferably, the heating element is energized with some slight delay. One purpose of this is to let the platen 50 close and, on application of the correct amount of heat and pressure, form the perfected seal on the bag or pouch. Again, other means may be used to form the completed seal. Moreover, it is preferable to have the heater element 51 pressed firmly against the bag to be sealed after movement has stopped. Consequently, the heating element is energized with some slight timing. Of course, the timing may be varied slightly by adjusting the relay 95.
It is believed that the mechanical latching relay 94 and the timing relay 95 are devices well known in the art.
The numerals 97, 98, and 99 indicate additional components which will be described relative to FIG. 7 of the drawings. They represent an additional solenoid 97 which is slaved to the solenoid 56. Further, the heater elements 98 and 99 are energized simultaneously with the heater element 51.
Attention is next directed to FIG. 7 of the drawings which illustrates an additional embodiment indicated by the numeral 120. In the packaging machine 100, the film .11 is merely folded down the center line which then becomes the bottom seam. There are no horizontal seams or seals formed in the film as it uncoils from the spool. A transversely extending platen spans the width of the film at the right-hand end of the apparatus as shown in FIG. 7. The platen 110 is moved in the same manner as the platen 50 shown in FIG. 2, that is, it is mounted on a pair of arms extending into the cabinet for actuation in response to a solenoid. The solenoid 97 shown in FIG. 9 is the actuating solenoid for the platen 110'.
The platen 110 is clamped against the film in synchronism with the platen 50 previously described. The platen 110 bears against a pair of parallel heater elements 98 and 99 which are shown in FIG. 9. The elements span the width of the film 11 and form two seams which are spaced apart slightly. The two seams are heat sealed seams wherein the two layers are fused together to define individual bags or pouches in the strip of film from the spool 11. The heater elements 98 and 99 are located on opposite sides of a perforation die. The die punches a number of holes in both layers of film between the two heat formed seams to make the package relatively easy to tear from the strip.
From the foregoing, it will be observed that every ac tuation or movement of the platen 110 forms the double seam and the intermediate perforation. Moreover, the seams are formed simultaneous with operation of the horizontal seam device 50 as was previously noted.
Attention is next directed to the means which reciprocates to and fro in drawing the bags through the apparatus 100. The means 120 differs from that shown in FIG. 1 in that a positive drive system is supplied. A motor 121 driving a small gear 122 engages with a rack 123 provides the reciprocating movement. The rack travels to the right and the left captured in a pair of guides 123 and 124 best shown in FIG. 8. An appropriate gear box integrally constructed with the motor 121 may be included to provide suitable speed and torque for the apparatus. A bumper 125 is carried on the forward end of the movable rack 123 for actuating the microswitch 64. The bumper 125 preferably comprises a tab which extends essentially downwardly from the movable rack 123 to contact the roller wheel of the microswitch 64. A horizontal member 126 is appended to the rack at a central point and extends forwardly from the packaging equipment 100 to a point over the filled packages 11h in the equpiment. This is best shown in FIG. 8. The appendage 126 is a suitable support bracket or mounting for a solenoid 128. The solenoid incorporates a plunger and suitable face plate 130 for clamping the filled packages 11h. On the opposite side of the packages is located a downwardly extending clamp means 129. The clamp means 129 cooperates with the clamp means 130 to securely and firmly engage the film 11h. Then, as the rack transverses the apparatus, the film 11h is pulled along with the rack during its movement. Such movement is a means of imparting timed motion to the film in the apparatus to move the film past the various work stations to form the completed packages.
Reciprocation of the slide 123 to the left is terminated by the microswitch 64 in the manner previously described. Reciprocation to the right is preferably limited by the microswitch means 88 in the manner previously described. Adjustments in the stroke may be easily obtained by moving the microswitch 64 on the parallel support bars in the manner previously described.
The apparatus may be used to tear individual packages free of the strip when they are filled. On the other hand, the reciprocating means 120 may draw the packages through the equipment without tearing at the perforations whereby the packages are not single but are attached or strung together for dispensing in different ways. Considering the synchronism to obtain the above described modes of operation, it will be first recognized that the platen 110 is actuated simultaneously with the platen 50. While the platen 110 is forming the transverse seams that define a particular package, the platen 50 is forming the last seal in each individual package which protects goods located therein. Considering operation of the equipment to tear olf a single package, the clamps 129 and 130 (see FIG. 8) are engaged with the left-most package to draw it to the left as viewed in FIG. 7. As the motor 121 moves the package to the left, the platen 50 is lowered to its clamping position to stop movement of the entire span of film. Also, the platen 110 is simultaneously closed. The hold of the platen 50 and the platen 110 is sufficient to tear the film at the perforations just to the left of the platen 50 in response to the pull of the clamps 129 and 130. Of course, seams are formed while the platens are in their clamped position.
When the means 120 arrives at the left-hand extreme of movement to operate the microswitch 54, the clamps 129 and 130 are opened. This, then, drops the package held by the clamp. Also, the motion of the gear 122 and rack 123 is reversed to return the clamps 129 and 130' to their right-hand position to engage the next package. This is accomplished simultaneously with raising the platens 50 and 110 since the seams which they form are completed and the apparatus is ready to reciprocate again to the left. As soon as the movable rack 123 arrives at the left-hand extremity of movement, the microswitch 88 (see FIGS. 3 and 4) is tripped. This provides the signal to the holding or latching relay which, on tripping, energizes the solenoids 56 and 97 to clamp the platens 50 and 110. The relay 95 then applies suitable heat to form additional seals on the bags just arriving and next arriving at their respective stations. As soon as the traveling rack 123 activates the detector switch 88, the motion of the gear 122 and the rack 123 reverses and the traveling apparatus moves to the right hand position. The clamp 129 and 130 are closed to newly engage the package therebetween for pulling it to the left. As some juncture, the platen 50 operates again to hold the film against movement and to permit tearing off the completed package by movement of the means 120.
The foregoing is relatively easily obtained through the use of the means added in dotted line in FIG. 9. Moreover, it may be helpful to provide some slight delay by means of a timing relay or the like in the reversing mechanism, depending on the time lag required as the means 120 moves to the left before the package is torn free.
The means 120 may be used to pull the film through the equipment without tearing off single packages. If this is desired, operation of the microswitches 64 and 88 is reversed. Thus, when the means 120 traverses to the left, the clamps 50 and are raised. While the means moves to the right, the clamps are down forming their seals in the appropriate perforations. By this technique, a string of completed packages is provided with the packages still joined to one another for dispensing in various sundry merchandising operations.
Adjustment of the length of stroke of the equipment also determines the width of the packages. Thus, if the package at the left-hand end of the equipment is pulled ten inches, the platen 110 forms its seams every ten inches along the film. The covers over the vacuum flow means are adjusted to the required package width. Likewise, the platen 50 is of substantial length and may seal more than one package in the manner shown in FIG. 7. This is of no particular consequence although the platen may be shortened or lengthend as desired. It is only necessary to provide one seal above each package.
While the foregoing has been directed to the illustrated preferred embodiment and the included alternative embodiment of the present invention, many variations can be adapted. Also, conveyors or other supportive equipment may be added. The machine has been described as an upright machine that is loaded by gravity feed. The pouch may be filled with the mouth open or to the side as noted before. However, the scope of the invention is determined by the claims appended hereto.
What is claimed is:
1. A packaging machine for enclosing an item to be packaged in a sealed package, comprising:
(a) a storage means adapted to receive a supply of film in a double layer;
(b) means for drawing the double layer of film along a path from said storage means;
(c) a grouped plurality of passages in a plate means positioned adjacent to the path;
(d) vacuum flow means utilizing said grouped passages for drawing air therethrough, said plate means being located sufficiently close to the path that the film tends to deviate from the path in a manner such that an opening between the layers of film is formed and an item to be packaged is received in the opening between layers;
(e) means for controllably altering the air flow acting on the double layer of film, said means thereby altering the width of film along the path which forms an opening between the layers such that the openingwidth is varied; and
(f) sealing means for sealing one of the layers to the other to form an enclosing package for the item.
2. The invention of claim 1 including an air jet directed at the edges of the lays of film along the path adjacent to said vacuum flow means for directing a jet of air toward the film tending to open the layers of film.
3. The invention of claim 1 including a first transverse ly extending bar-like member contacting the film on the side adjacent to said grouped plurality of passages, said bar-like member in cooperation with said passages and said vacuum flow means tending to bow at least one layer of the film and form the opening for receiving the item to be packaged.
4. The invention of claim 3 further including a second bar-like member parallel to the first and disposed on the opposite side of said grouped plurality of passage means to cooperate in further defining the opening between the layers of film.
5. The invention of claim 3 wherein said first barlike member is slidably mounted for movement along the path of the film.
6. The invention of claim 1 including a first slidably mounted cover means positioned parallel to and adjacent to said grouped plurality of passages to either expose or cover a selected portion of said passages.
7. The invention of claim 6 further including a second slidably mounted cover means, said first and second cover means being disposed along opposite sides of said grouped plurality of passages for movement toward and away from one another, to define a width of passages for vacuum flow by said vacuum flow means for determining the width of the Opening in the double layer of film.
8. The invention of claim 6 further including a track means for receiving said cover means and guiding said cover means to selected positions relative to said grouped plurality of passages.
97 The invention of claim 1 wherein the double layer of film is guided through the package machine by a fence means which supports the film adjacent to one side of the film, said fence means being adjustable upwardly and downwardly to accommodate a range of width of film with the top edge of the film maintained in registry to said grouped plurality of passages.
10. The invention of claim 1, including:'
(a) a clamp means which engages the film at a point past said grouped plurality of passages and which is movable to draw the film through the packaging machine; 7
(b) reciprocating means guided along a path in the packaging machine and connected to said clamp means for drawing the film on reciprocation in one direction; and,
(c) means for adjustably controlling the length of re-' ciprocation of said clamp means.
11. The invention of claim 1, including:
(a) a platen;
(b) heat forming means operative along at least a portion of the length of the film after the item has been placed between the layers of film; and, p
(c) means for urging said platen toward said heat forming means, said platen having a position on one side of the film and said heat forming means having a position on the other side, said means moving said platen to clamp the film against said heat forming means for an interval to complete a thermal seal in the film.
12. The invention of claim 1, including:
(a) a rail means parallel to the path of the film;
(b) a movable carriage engaged with said rail means for movement therealong;
(c) motive means for urging said carriage along said rail means; I
(d) switch means positioned with respect to said rail means for detecting movement of said carriage, said switch means creating a signal indicative of such movement; and
(e) means responsive to the signal from said switch means to reverse movement of said carriage along said rail means.
13. The invention of claim 1, including:
(a) a timed mechanism including a platen and heat forming means for forming a transverse seal across the width of the film;
(b) a second timed mechanism including a platen and heat forming means for forming a longitudinal seal above the packaged item to join the layers of film; and,
(c) means for drawing the film past said first and second timed mechanisms to permit formulation of successive packages in the supply of film, said seals defining a complete package.
14. The invention of claim 1 including:
(a) a slide'chute positioned over the film and directed theretoward for guiding the item toward the opening between the two layers of film;
(b) air flow means directing a flow of air through said chute and between the layers to enlarge the opening between the layers of film.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner E. F. DESMO'ND, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.