US 3584432 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States atent Carl H. Mayer, Jr.
111 Ninth St., Wilmette, 111. 60091 728,585
May 13, 1968 June 15, 1971 lnventor Appl. No. Filed Patented PACKAGING MACHINE 20 Claims, 7 Drawing Figs.
Int. Cl ..B65b 57/10, 1365b 35/40, B651) 35/50 Field of Search 53/26, 61, 62, 77,159,162,164,165, 50, 131, 137, 374, 382, 387; 93/52; 214/62  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1960 Salwasser 12/1961 Wilson etali 3,396,505 8/1968 MCCrudden 53/164X 3,340,672 9/1967 Kayser 53/164 FOREIGN PATENTS 490,659 2/1953 Canada 53/164 1,475,781 2/1967 France 53/164 Primary ExaminerTheron E. Condon Assistant Examiner Robert L. Spruill Attorney-Wolfe, Hubbard, Leydig, Voit and Osann ABSTRACT: An automatic packaging machine is described for use in packaging operations in which cases of packaged product must be broken open for intermediate operations, such as tax stamping, and then repackaged into their original cases. The present machine is adapted to receive individual open cartons, reseal them, arrange them in stacked rows corresponding to their previous arrangement, and reinsert them into their original case. Operating adjustments are provided to enable the machine to be used interchangeably with packages and cases of varying size.
PATENTEU JUHI 5 SHEET 2 IF 4 i. WZW m w V4 W MM M? WM a PATENTED JUN 1 5k SHEET 3 UF 4 PACKAGING MACHINE This invention pertains to packaging machines, and in particular to machines adapted to repackage individual cigarette cartons into the original case from which they have been removed for purposes of tax stamping and the like. In its principal aspect, it concerns automatic mechanism for rescaling the individual cartons, stacking them in rows corresponding to the original case arrangement, and inserting them into their original case which is then transferred to a conveyor for shipmentor storage.
At the present time, 48 of the 50 states of the United States require that tax stamps be affixed to each individual pack of cigarettes sold. These stamps must be affixed in the state of sale, thus preventing their application at the factory. As a result, individual tobacco distributors in nearly all states must open all cases of cigarettes received from the manufacturer, apply tax stamps to every pack, and then repackage the cigarettes for shipment to the point of retail sale.
In the past this has required that each case of cigarettes received from the manufacturer must be opened and emptied of the 60 individual cartons which each contains. Each carton is opened along one edge and the tax stamps are applied to the ten individual packs of 20 cigarettes each which are contained therein. The cartons are then sealed, and placed back in the case from which they came. To perform these operations manually requires a disproportionate amount of labor. Although automatic machinery for opening individual cigarette cartons and affixing the tax stamps has become available in recent years, no such machinery has been available for returning the stamped cartons back to their original case for shipment or storage.
Since cigarettes are now manufactured in several lengths and package styles, it is also necessary in any cigarette package-handling machinery to accommodate each of the several varying types of packages which may be encountered in practice. For instance, cigarettes now range from the regular size to the king" size and even up to the I millimeter imperial" size. Some brands are marginally even longer, being 101 millimeters. Along with the king size is the regular size which is packaged in the so-called crushproof box, cartons of which approximate the king in carton size. Thus the longitudinal dimension of the cartons (in the direction of the cigarette axis) is variable, and the width is also variable according to the type of pack involved, whether crushproof or soft.
In view of the foregoing, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a packaging machine which is adapted to receive individual open cartons, stack them, and insert them into an open case. The machine is particularly intended for use with cigarette cartons which have been previously broken open for tax stamping, and is effective to seal them and return them to the original case from which they came.
It is intended that the machine of the invention be effective to automatically stack the cartons in rows and columns and then to transfer the completed stacked array directly into the case.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an automatic cigarette carton packaging machine which is capable of accommodating several varying cigarette package lengths and sizes by means of simple adjustments.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reference to the drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a carton packaging machine embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged section of the crimper roller taken in the plane 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 2a is a fragmentary sectional elevation taken 90 from FIG. 2;
FIG. 3 is a section of the machine taken in the plane 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged plan view of the pusher bar operating mechanism;
FIG. 5 is an elevation of the mechanism of FIG. 4; and
FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial section of the rear face of the machine taken in the plane 6-6 of FIG. 1.
While the invention will be described in connection with a particular exemplary embodiment and procedure, it will be understood that it is not intended to so limit the invention, but it is instead intended to cover all alternative and equivalent constructions and methods as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined by the appended claims.
Turning to the drawings, a machine embodying the present invention is shown in FIG. I. Indicated schematically are carton opening and tax stamp affixing machines which form no part of the present invention.
In its general outline, the machine of the present invention comprises first a crimper roller mechanism 10 which turns down the opened flaps of individual cigarette cartons 11 after they have received a coating of glue from a dispenser 12, and a constantly moving conveyor belt 13 onto which the powered crimper roller 10 discharges the cartons. The conveyor 13 transfers the cartons to a station in which individual cartons are arrested by a stop 15 and lined up horizontally until sufficient cartons, six in number, are assembled to make a tier or layer in a stacking chamber 16. After six cartons have been accumulated, a loading means 17 off-loads the tier of cartons onto an elevator 18, which is then effective to lift the cartons into a raised position within the loading rack where they are retained by spring-loaded holder bars 20, 21. As each successive tier of cartons is accumulated and lifted into position by the elevator 18, the stack rises higher until it contains as many cartons as were originally in the case to begin with. At this point, an ejector means 22 pushes the stacked array of cartons into a tightly held case 23 which is slightly spread to receive the cartons without binding. When the case 23 has received the canons it is released and tips backward onto a conveyor 25 which carries it away from the machine.
The individual operations of the machine will now be described in greater detail. Cigarettes are received from the manufacturer in closed cases, each containing 60 individual cartons of 10 packs each. The cases are opened with a rotating knife or other suitable means (not shown) into two halves of 30 cartons each with one end completely open. The half cases are then dumped out and the cartons individually passed through an opening means which turns the carton flaps down against the sides of the carton. In this condition, each carton is passed through a stamping machine which applies tax stamps to the exposed ends of the packs contained therein.
Coming from the stamping machine, the flaps of the cartons tend to remain pressed against the carton sides and must be forcibly turned over in order that they may lie in a more or less flat condition for further packaging operations. This is accomplished in the first instance by a flap-turning means 26 having a pair of curved blades which pick up and turn over a first carton flap 27 and then a second carton flap 28 in sequence. The first flap 27 has been precoated on its underside by the glue dispenser 12, so that the carton 11 may be sealed merely by pressing the flaps 27, 28 together with the glue strip therebetween for a period of time sufficient for the glue to set.
In keeping with the invention, the closure flaps 27, 28 which would normally resume their widely spread configuration upon leaving the flap-turning means 26 are formed into a semiclosed condition preparatory to scaling by the crimper roller means 10. The crimper roller 10 is journaled at the downstream end of a transfer chute 30 having a carton transfer means 31 at its head or upstream end. The carton transfer means 31 may consist of a pair of powered rollers which catch a carton 11 in their nip and propel it through the transfer chute.
The crimper roller assembly 10 is journaled on a pivot axis 32 and powered by means of a pulley 33 and belt 35 from a motor 36. So that a carton I1 passing through the device will be firmly urged against the crimper 10, an idler roller 37 is spaced opposite the crimper roller 10 on a spring-loaded journal means 38.
The crimper roller is comprised of two split halves 40, 41 journaled on the common axis 32 and having resilient means, in this case springs 42, for urging the roller halves 40, 41 axially together. The crimper roller halves 40, 41 are formed in a manner which makes the roller 10 spool-shaped, having end flanges or expanded diameters on each side. Adjacent each end of the roller 10 and aligned with one corner of a carton l 1 passing through the chute 31 is a circumferential notch having an inner edge 43. Within the notch around its inner edge 43, is an annular ring of resilient material 45 which in the illustrated embodiment comprises an ordinary O-ring. The O-ring 45 provides a resilient surface for the notch inner edge 43, and engages the upper corner of a carton 11 traveling through the chute 30 at a point immediately adjacent its line of attachment to the carton. The resilient pressure and rolling force exerted by the crimper roller 10 in cooperation with the idler roller 37 deforms the closure flaps 27, 28 slightly at their points of attachment to the carton 11, and causes them to lie in a semiclosed condition during the remaining of the packing process until the flaps are finally held in a continuously closed position at a later stage to allow the glue to set.
Upon being discharged from the crimper roller 10, the individual cartons 11 are received by a constantly moving conveyor 13 and carried past a time delay trip switch 46 until they come to rest against the transverse stop 15 overlying the conveyor. The conveyor 13 is preferably provided with a springloaded release gate 47 opposite the transfer cute 30 so that in the event of a jam or conveyor blockage, the cartons 11 discharged from the chute 30 will simply be ejected through the gate 47 instead of adding to the jam.
As soon as a predetermined number of cartons has been accumulated against the stop 15, in this case six in number, an additional carton will come to rest against the time delay trip switch 46 and hold it in the depressed condition as shown in dashed lines in FIG. 1. The switch 46 actuates a time delay relay (not shown) which will not respond to a momentary actuation, but upon being depressed for I second or more it will transmit an operating signal to actuate the loading means 17. In this way a full tier of cartons is accumulated before the loading means 17 is called upon to initiate the next phase of machine operation.
The loading means 17 is actuated by an air cylinder 48 and includes a pusher bar 50 carried by a sliding carriage 51 mounted for movement on a track 54 consisting of two parallel ways aligned with the stop 15. The pusher bar 50 extends ahead of the stop sufficiently far to encompass a single tier of cartons stacked against the stop 15 when the additional carton actuates the switch 46. The carriage 51 is shiftable between an off-loading stroke in the direction of the stacking chamber 16 and a return stroke in the opposite direction.
As a principal feature of the invention, the mechanism of the loading means 17 is effective to shift an accumulated tier of cartons into the stacking chamber 16 during the off-loading stroke, and return to its initial position on the return stroke in a manner which allows additional cartons to freely accumulate against the stop 15. This is accomplished by providing mechanism which allows the pusher bar 50 to shift between a lower position adjacent the level of the conveyor 13 and in contact with an accumulated tier of cartons, and a raised position spaced above the conveyor level by a distance exceeding the height of the conveyed cartons whereby the pusher bar 50 is able to return to its starting position without interference. Shifting means is provided for this purpose, including momentary arresting means in the form of notches 52, 53 at the starting and end positions of the stroke of the carriage 51. The notches 52, 53 are engageable with a follower 55 mounted on the carriage by springs 56 which allow it to engage the notches 52, 53 with a detenting action. The operating rod of the air cylinder 48 is connected with the carriage 51 by a collapsing linkage means 57 which provides for raising and lowering movement of the pusher bar 50 when the follower 55 is momentarily detented with the notches 52, 53.
In operation, starting with the carriage S1 at the end of its return stroke and with the pusher bar 50 in the upraised position as shown in dashed lines in FIG. 5, movement of the air cylinder 48 in the off-loading direction will flatten the linkage 57 until it is almost straight, and only then will the follower disengage from the notches 52. The carriage 51 remains in this configuration during the off-loading stroke. Upon reaching the end of the stroke, the follower 55 engages the opposite set of notches 53. When the air cylinder 48 reverses for the return stroke as shown in phantom in FIG. 5, the carriage 51 is momentarily retained and the linkage 57 jackknifes, causing the pusher bar 50 to rise and remain in its raised position during the return stroke. During this return stroke additional cartons are allowed to accumulate against the stop 15.
Further in keeping with the invention, a flap closer bar 60 is carried by the stacking chamber 16 transverse to the direction of carriage movement and parallel to the direction of conveyor flow. It is sloped downward in the direction of off-loading movement at a height which is effective to engage and depress the semiopen flaps 27, 28 of each carton 11 in the tier being off-loaded from the conveyor 13 into the stacking chamber 16 as shown in FIG. 3. On the front face of the stacking chamber 16 is a loading opening 61 having horizontal and vertical dimensions corresponding to a tier of cartons being off-loaded from the conveyor 13. The lowermost portion of the flap closer bar 60 is high enough to allow the tier of cartons 11 to enter the loading opening 61, but the angled position causes the semiopen flaps 27, 28 to be flattened as the tier passes into the stacking chamber 16. On the opposite or rear face of the stacking chamber 16 is a discharge opening 62 having horizontal and vertical dimensions corresponding to the open or mouth end of an empty case 23. The lowermost portion of the discharge opening 62 is positioned above the level of the conveyor 13 by a distance exceeding the height of the highest carton 11 to be encountered during use. An offloaded tier of cartons 11 is raised from the level of the loading opening 61 to that of the discharge opening 62 by the elevator 18. The stroke of the elevator 18 is sufficient to raise each tier from the level of the loading opening 61 to that of the discharge opening 62. Control means including a limit switch 63 initiates the return stroke of the pusher bar 50 while a limit switch 64 initiates cycling of the elevator 18 from its lower to its upper stroke position and back again.
On moving the tier of cartons 11 upward, the holder bars 20, 21 are resiliently urged sideways to allow the tier to pass between them. For this purpose, the holder bars are pivoted for sideways displacement on pivots 65, 66 and urged inwardly by springs 67, 68. The rear spring 68 is preferably heavier for aligning cartons within the chamber 16 as they rise. Upon clearing the last of the holder bars 20, 21, the bars are enabled to swing inward to their rest position, whereupon the return stroke of the elevator leaves the tier of cartons 11 supported at each end by the holder bars in alignment with the lower edge of the discharge opening 62.
Pursuant to a feature of the invention, a tier of cartons 11 which is raised into position by the elevator 18 is resiliently urged to the front of the stacking chamber 16 by a second holder bar, which is positioned parallel to and adjacent the lower edge of the discharge opening 62. For this purpose the second holder bar 21 is positioned somewhat above the level of the first holder bar 20, which is itself positioned parallel to and adjacent the upper edge of the loading opening 61. This allows the spring resilient means 68 for urging the second holder bar 21 inward to exert a momentary pressure on the tier of cartons 11 after it has been released from the opposing pressure of the corresponding resilient means of the first holder bar 20. The resulting momentary unequal force urges the tier of cartons toward the front of the stacking chamber 16 and insures that is and subsequent tiers will be stacked in close alignment with one another.
As each successive tier of cartons is accumulated and loaded through the loading opening 61 and carried upward within the stacking chamber 16 to be retained by the holder bars 20, 21, the stack is raised successively with each new tier until the stacking chamber 16 is filled. As the fill point approaches, the topmost tier of cartons is progressively raised by each succeeding tier below it until it encounters a stack follower means consisting of a stack follower plate 70 mounted on a carrier 68 which is guided for rising and falling movement in vertical slots 71. The stack follower plate 70 carries with it a vertical cam bar 72 which protrudes upward through the top of the stacking chamber 16. A counterweight 73 connected to the stack follower plate 70 by a cable 75 can be varied to allow the stacking pressure to be adjusted. in operation, the stack follower plate 70 rests at its lowest position in the slot 71 until the topmost tier of stacked cartons rises sufficiently to contact it as shown in FIG. 3, whereupon it exerts a measured pressure as determined by the counterweight 73 until the stack is completed (phantom lines). At this point, a fill indicator switch 76 at the top of the stacking chamber 16 is triggered by the cam bar 72, and control means (not shown) serves to initiate the ejection sequence whereby the stack of cartons is loaded into the case 23.
Pursuant to the invention the machine may be adjusted to accommodate varying stack heights by selecting one of a plurality of cam surfaces on the cam bar 72. The cam surfaces are cut into different faces of the cam bar so that one may be selected for use merely by rotating the cam bar 72 about its vertical axis and locking it in place with a setscrew 77 or similar means.
Either before or during the foregoing operations the empty case 23 is positioned with respect to the discharge opening 62 by the machine operator. For this purpose, clamping means for gripping and retaining the empty case against the discharge opening are provided and spreading means are used to open the case mouth to its widest dimensions for the purpose of receiving the stacked cartons. In the illustrated embodiment, the clamping means comprise a pair of air-actuated grab cylinders 78 located at the lower edge of the discharge opening 62 opposite a threshold plate 81. As the operator thrusts an empty case against the grab switch 80, the grab cylinders 78 are actuated to grip the lower edge of the case against the threshold plate 81 and clamp it firmly in position for loading.
Surrounding the remainder of the circumference of the discharge opening 62 are spreader means for keeping the mouth of the case 23 in an open position for filling. A vertically pivoted spreader door 82 is carried at each side of the discharge opening 62, and the rear edge 79 of the stack follower plate 70 is also formed to constitute a horizontal spreader door. The vertical spreader doors 82 are pivoted for rotation about a vertical axis and include resilient means for urging the doors inward, in this case a tension spring 83v The horizontal spreader portion of the stack follower plate 70 depends slightly at each rear face in its normal hanging position. When a stack of cartons is ejected from the stacking chamber 16 into the case 23, the cartons contact the inner edges of the spreader doors 82 from their normal inwardly drawn position within the mouth of the case, and cause them to pivot outward in a manner allowing the stacked cartons to be positively guided into the case mouth. The freedom of the stack follower plate 70 to rock slightly on its carriers 68 within the slot 71 allows the top of thestack to be guided in the same way. The effect of the spreader doors 82 and the rear edge 79 of the stack follower plate 70 is analogous to a shoehorn as the stack is guided into the spread case mouth.
In order to accommodate cases of varying height, and as a feature of the invention, each of the vertical spreader doors 82 is provided with a plurality of cutout notches adjacent the upper edge of each case to be encountered during operation. The door 82 must be free to swing freely within the open mouth of each case to be encountered, and the first set of notches 85 is positioned to clear the tallest case to be used. Additional notches 86, 87 are provided for still shorter cases. With such shorter cases, the stack follower plate 70 rises a shorter distance before the cam bar 72 trips the fill indicator 76. The notches 85, 86, 87 allow the vertical spreader doors 82 to swing out and clear the upper horizontal edge of the empty case 23 as the stack is inserted. In the present embodiment, the uppermost notch is positioned to accommodate cases for imperial size cigarettes, the next notch 86 is slightly wider and accommodates both king size and regular size in the crushproof box, and the lowermost notch 87 accommodates cigarettes of regular size.
The stack of cartons is loaded into the empty case 23 by an ejector means which discharges the entire assembled stack into the empty case at one time. The ejector means consists of an ejector air cylinder 90 mounted on the front face of the stacking chamber 16. Attached to the operating rod of the air cylinder 90 is a pusher plate 91 having height adjusting means for accommodating carton stacks of varying heights. For this purpose the pusher plate 91 is provided with an upper notch 92 into which the tangs 93 of plate extension pieces 95 may be inserted. A different extension piece 95 is used for each stack height to be encountered, so that it may follow the ejected stack through the discharge opening 62 as defined by the spreader doors 82, threshold plate 81 and rear edge 79 of the stack follower plate 70.
When the ejector air cylinder 90 has forced the stack of cartons all the way into the empty case 23, a control rod 96 trips a release switch 97 which deenergizes the grab cylinders 78. The case 23 is then caused to tip backwards and drop onto the conveyor 25 which carries it away from the machine. This is accomplished according to the invention by providing a short case support platform 98 adjacent the grab cylinders 78 and underlying the case 23. This platform 98 is made shorter than the depth of the case 23 and extends beneath the case to a point short of the center of gravity of the filled case. In this way, the release of the grab cylinder 78 allows the overhanging case 23 to drop backward onto the conveyor 25, thus allowing another case to be inserted in its place.
in order that a jam within the machine will not cause additional loading operations which would compound the difficulty, control means are provided according to the invention to block the operation of the loading means 17 until the ejector air cylinder 90 has returned to its former position. Return is initiated by contact of the control rod 96 with a pusher limit switch 99. Loading is blocked by a lockout limit switch 100 which is normally open, and can only become closed to allow operation of the loading means 17 when the ejector means and its pusher plate 91 have returned to the front of the stacking chamber 16.
I claim as my invention:
1. A package machine for packaging a plurality of individual cartons into an empty case comprising, in combination, a transfer chute having upstream and downstream ends, carton transfer means at the upstream end of the chute for conveying cartons with widely opened flaps through the chute, flap turning means downstream of the transfer means for turning the widely opened closure flaps of an open carton into a semiclosed condition preparatory to sealing. a stacking chamber coupled to said crimping means by a conveyor and having a loading opening having dimensions corresponding to a single tier of cartons and a discharge opening opposed to and positioned above the level of the loading opening and having dimensions corresponding to the mouth of an empty case, clamping means for gripping and retaining an empty case against the discharge opening, means for off-loading a single tier of cartons from the conveyor and inserting them into said loading opening, elevator means within the stacking chamber for lifting an inserted tier of cartons into alignment with the lowermost portion of the mouth of the gripped case, means for holding a tier of lifted cartons in alignment with the case mouth after the elevator means has lowered to receive a new tier of cartons, and ejector means for moving a completed stack of carton tiers from the stacking chamber through the discharge opening into the mouth of the empty case.
2. A packaging machine as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a spool-shaped crimper roller downstream of the flap turning means, said crimper roller having a circumferential notch aligned with one corner of a carton traveling through the chute, one inner edge of said notch being surfaced with an annular ring of resilient material.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 in which said crimper roller comprises two split halves joumaled on a common rota tional axis, each half having a circumferential notch and annular resilient ring on the inner edge thereof, and means for resiliently urging the crimper roller halves axially together.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 including power means for turning said crimper roller, an idler roller carried spaced oppositely from the crimper roller, and spring-loaded journal means for resiliently urging the idler roller toward the crimper roller.
5. A packaging machine for packaging a plurality of individual cartons into an empty case comprising, in combination, a stacking chamber having a loading opening having dimensions corresponding to a single tier of cartons and a discharge opening opposed to and positioned above the level of the loading opening and having dimensions corresponding to the mouth of an empty case, clamping means for gripping and retaining an empty case against the discharge opening, loading means for off-loading cartons from a conveyor and inserting them a single tier at a time into said loading opening, said loading means comprising, in combination, a traverse stop overlying the conveyor, a track aligned parallel to the stop, a carriage mounted for movement on the track, a pusher bar carried, above the conveyor ahead of the stop, by the carriage and shifiable between a lowered position adjacent the conveyor and a raised position spaced above the conveyor by a distance which exceeds the height of conveyed objects, and shifting means for alternately lowering the pusher bar for an off-loading stroke and raising the pusher bar for a return stroke during which objects may be conveyed until arrested by the stop, elevator means within the stacking chamber for lifting an inserted tier of cartons into alignment with the lowermost portion of the mouth of the gripped case, means for holding a tier of lifted cartons in alignment with the case mouth after the elevator means has lowered to receive a new tier of canons, and ejector means for moving a completed stack of carton tiers from the stacking chamber through the discharge opening into the mouth of the empty case.
6. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 including first momentary arresting means on said track at the off-loading end of carriage travel, second momentary arresting means at the return end of carriage travel, a follower mounted on the carriage for engagement with the arresting means, and linkage means connecting the follower with the pusher bar for raising and lowering movement when the follower is momentarily arrested by the arresting means at each end of the carriage stroke.
7. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 in which said linkage is effective to lower the pusher bar when the carriage is urged in the off-loading direction while the follower is momentarily arrested by the second arresting means, and effective to raise the pusher bar wher the carriage is urged in the return direction while the follower is momentarily arrested by the first arresting means.
8. Apparatus as defined in claim 7 for use with semiopen cartons in which a flap closer bar is disposed transverse to the direction of carriage movement and sloped downward in the direction of off-loading at a height effective to engage and depress the semiopen flaps of cartons being off-loaded.
9. A machine for packaging a plurality of individual cartons into an empty case comprising, in combination, a vertical stacking chamber having front and rear faces, the front face having a loading opening having dimensions corresponding to a single tier of cartons and the rear face having above the level of the loading opening a discharge opening having dimensions corresponding to the mouth of an empty case, clamping means for gripping and retaining an empty case against the discharge opening, spreading means adjacent the clamped case for opening the. case mouth to its widest dimensions, loading means for inserting a single tier of cartons into said loading opening, elevator means within the stacking chamber having a stroke extending between the lowermost portion of the loading opening and the lowermost portion of the discharge opening for lifting an inserted tier of cartons into alignment with the lowermost portion of the mouth of the gripped case, supporting means for holding a tier of lifted cartons in alignment with the case mouth after the elevator means has lowered to receive a new tier of cartons, and ejector means for moving a completed stack of carton tiers from the stacking chamber through the discharge opening into the mouth of the empty case.
10. Apparatus as defined in claim 9 in which said supporting means comprises first and second oppositely disposed holder bars which are pivoted for sideways displacement to allow a tier of cartons to pass upward therebetween, and means for resiliently urging the holder bars inward to retain said tier of cartons when the elevator means has returned to its lowered position.
11. Apparatus as defined in claim 10 in which the first holder bar is positioned parallel to and adjacent the upper edge of the loading opening and the second holder bar is positioned parallel to and adjacent the lower edge of the discharge opening, with the uppermost edge of the second holder bar being higher than that of the first holder bar whereby a tier of cartons is freed from the first holder bar and urged toward the front face of the stacking chamber by the second holder bar prior to being engaged and supported thereby.
12. Apparatus as defined in claim 9 for use with semiopen cartons having upraised closure flaps including an overhead flap closer bar positioned above and inclined downward toward the loading opening for urging open carton flaps downward upon being inserted through the loading opening into the stacking chamber by the loading means, and having stack follower means depending from the upper portion of the stacking chamber for applying flap closing pressure to the topmost tier of stacked cartons during vertical stack movement,
13. Apparatus as defined in claim 12 in which said stack follower means includes a cam bar, and having a fill indicator switch triggered by the elevation of the cam bar above a predetermined level for energizing the ejection means when the stacked cartons have reached a predetermined height corresponding to the interior height of the empty case.
14. Apparatus as defined in claim 13 in which said cam bar includes a plurality of cam surfaces and is selectively rotatable to bring each individual cam surface into engagement with the fill indicator switch.
15. Apparatus as defined in claim 9 in which said spreading means includes a vertical pivoted spreader door adjacent each side of the discharge opening, means for resiliently urging said doors inward toward a normal position within ,themouth of an empty case and being pivotable outward upon ejection of a stack of cartons, whereby the stacked cartons are positively guided in the case mouth.
16. Apparatus as defined in claim 15 including stack follower means depending from the upper portion of the stacking chamber and having a horizontal spreader door positioned between said vertical spreader doors and engageable within the upper edge of the mouth of the empty case.
17. Apparatus as defined in claim 15 for use with cases of varying height in which each vertical spreader door is pro vided with cutout notches to clear the upper horizontal edge of the empty carton during spreading movement, with a notch provided for each height of carton encountered during use.
18. Apparatus as defined in claim 9 in which said ejector means includes a pusher plate engageable with the rear surface of the stacked cartons in the stacking chamber, and having height adjusting means for varying the height of the pusher plate for engaging carton stacks of variable height.
19. Apparatus as defined in claim 9 in which a case support platform is carried adjacent the lowermost portion of the discharge opening, said platform underlying the case short of the center of gravity of the filled case, whereby said case will tumble backwards away from the machine when the clamping means are released.
ejector means, for actuating the lockout means to prevent loading until the ejector means has completed its movement.