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Publication numberUS3589091 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 29, 1971
Filing dateSep 6, 1968
Priority dateSep 6, 1968
Publication numberUS 3589091 A, US 3589091A, US-A-3589091, US3589091 A, US3589091A
InventorsCloud Charles E
Original AssigneeCloud Machine Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for wrapping or labeling a package
US 3589091 A
Images(6)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72} inventor Charles E. Cloud Wilmette, Ill. [21] Appl. No. 758,030 [22] Filed Sept. 6,1968 [45] Patented June 29, 1971 [73] Assignee Cloud Machine Corporation Skokie, Ill.

[54] METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR WRAPPING 0R LABELING A PACKAGE 13 Claims, 15 Drawing Figs.

[52] US. Cl 53/14, 53/30,53/51, 53/128, 53/184, 53/198 [51] Int. Cl B651) 53/00 [50] Field olSearch 53/30, 182,

[56]. References Cited UNYI'ED STATES PATENTS 2,490,781 12/1949 Cloud 18/1 2,331,762 10/1962 Brown.... 53/30 2,783,599 3/1957 Weikert.. 53/30 2,914,893 12/1959 Berst 53/30 3,303,630 2/1967 Harm 53/182 X 3,465,489 9/1969 Monaghan 53/182 X Primary Examiner-Granville Y. Custer. Jr. Assismn1ExaminerE. F. Desmond Attorney-Hill, Shen-nan, Meroni, Gross & Simpson ABSTRACT: A method of applying a label or a wrapping to a package, wherein the label material has a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, the material slowly shrinks toward its original size, comprising the steps of: stretching the material; wrapping the material loosely around the container to be labeled or wrapped; cutting the wrapping material to the proper size; sealing the adjacent ends of the wrapping material to form a loose fitting wrap around the package; and allowing the wrapping material to shrink toward the original size thereof to form a tightly fitting wrap around the package. One of several apparatus for performing the above-described method includes: a supporting frame providing a horizontally disposed surface; means for supplying a continuous strip of the wrapping material; means for stretching the wrapping material; means for feeding the wrapping material adjacent to the container in a configuration approximating the shape of the container to be wrapped; means for cutting and sealing the wrapping material to form a loosely fitting band or wrap around the container; and means for conveying the containers to a position for receiving the wrapping material and also to a position wherein the wrapping material will be cut and sealed by the sealing means.

PATENTEU JUNZS IHYI SHEET 2 BF 6 WMQ PMENTEU JUN29 l9?! SHEET 6 OF 6 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR WRAPPING R LABELING A PACKAGE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates generally to the wrapping or labeling of packages and containers, and more particularly, refers to a method and apparatus for packaging containers with a material having a characteristic, when stretched, of slowly returning to its original size.

2. Description of the Prior Art It should be understood that it is desirable to have a label firmly affixed to a package to prevent the inadvertent or accidental separation of the label from the package. If the label is inadvertently separated from the package, it becomes dif ficult, if not impossible, to identify the contents of the package, thereby rendering the product unsalable. Heretofore, to prevent the inadvertent separation of band labels from bottles, these labels generally have been formed of paper and glued or otherwise adhered to the bottle. Machinery for adhering a paper band label to a bottle requires means for snugly wrapping the label around the bottle and also means for applying the adhesive bonding material.

Furthermore, packages which must be tightly wrapped in a waterproof plastic or similar film were heretofore wrapped by tightly fitting the wrapping material to the package before sealing the adjacent ends of the film to form the wrapped package. Heretofore, machinery for applying a tightly fitting wrapping to a package necessarily required means for tightly forming the film around the package prior to the sealing operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a method for both applying a band label to a bottle or similar container and for applying a tightly fitting wrapping around a package. The present invention utilizes a film of wrapping material which is desirably heat sealable and which has a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, the material shrinks to its original size. A material having this characteristic is polyethylene film with a 1 to 2 mil thickness. Rather than tightly drawing the wrapping material about the package to be wrapped, as heretofore required, the film of polyethylene or similar material is first stretched and then loosely wrapped about the article. The loosely formed wrapping is then properly sealed to form a band around a container or to form a waterproof, sealed wrapping around the article. The loosely fitting wrapping is allowed to shrink toward its original size, thereby to shrink to a tightly fitting wrap around the article.

When the material has shrunk to form a tightly fitting wrap, it provides a wrinkle free film or sheet of material which will snugly engage a bottle or similar container or which will form a taut wrapping around a package.

It should be understood, that the method of the present invention provides a wrapping which will automatically conform to the size of the unit regardless of any variations in either the configuration or the dimensions of the unit to be wrapped. Prior wrapping methods, and the machinery for carrying out those methods, either did not compensate for variations in the size of the article to be wrapped or required complicated and expensive machinery for compensating for such variations. Therefore, the present invention provides a wrapping method and an apparatus for performing that method which conveniently and automatically compensates for any variations in either the configuration or the dimensional size of an article to be wrapped.

The packaging method of the present invention is particularly applicable to banding a label to a container, such as a glass or plastic bottle, and the preferred apparatus for banding a label around a bottle in accordance with the method of the present invention includes a supporting framework providing a horizontal surface which supports a conveying means for moving the containers along the surface in a linear path. The apparatus further includes means for supplying a continuous strip of polyethylene or similar wrapping material having a memory characteristic. Desirably, a continuous supply of wrapping material is disposed on either side of the conveying means and arranged to feed a strip of the wrapping material about opposed sides of the bottle, and means for stretching the material is disposed between the supply of material and the point at which the material is fed adjacent opposed sides of the bottle. The stretching means generally includes a selectively braked idler pulley, a driven pulley upstream of the braked pulley and means for selectively braking the braked pulley, thereby stretching the film or strip of material whenever the brake of the braked pulley is actuated.

In accordance with the present invention, the bottle-labeling apparatus further includes means joining the strips of material fed about opposed sides of the bottle at a point in front of the moving bottle. The means joining the two strips of film moves with the bottle-conveying means and includes a heated wire for simultaneously cutting the strips and heat sealing the adjacent cut ends. It should be understood, that the conveying means conveys a series of equally spaced bottles, therefore cutting and sealing together of the strips in front of one bottle simultaneously joins the strips behind a leading bottle and seals the adjacent ends thereof to form a loosely fitting band around the leading bottle which is sealed both in front of and behind the leading bottle. The sealing and cutting operation is performed while the film of wrapping material is still in its stretched condition. Therefore, when the band of wrapping material has shrunk to its original size, it assumes a snug engagement about the article or bottle.

The snugly wrapped band then forms a label which is difficult to remove, thereby providing a label which resists inadvertent or accidental separation from the bottle without relying on an adhesive material for bonding the label to the bottle. Thus, the present invention provides a means for labeling a bottle which does not require either tightly fitting the band around the bottle during the wrapping operation or gluing or otherwise adhering the label to the bottle to prevent inadvertent or accidental separation therefrom.

An apparatus of similar configuration to that described above may be employed to completely wrap an article, such as a package of cheese, with a film of polyethylene having a 1 to 2 mil thickness or a similar material which has a memory characteristic, i.e., when stretched, the material slowly shrinks to its original size. An apparatus of this nature would differ from that described above in that the article to be wrapped would be conveyed along the supporting surface while the wrapping material would be conveyed beneath the article to be wrapped and formed by means of a plow or similar device into a tube encircling the article. A heated wire would be disposed to seal the adjacent edges of the wrapping material to form a sealed tube. Also, means for pinching the end of the tube in front of one article, which also is behind a leading article, would be provided to move coincidentally with the means conveying the articles to be wrapped. As described above, the means pinching the end of the tube would include a heated wire for both cutting the tube and for sealing the end of the tube. In this manner, a loosely fitting tube would be formed about the articles to be wrapped and the opposed ends of the tube would be pinched together and sealed to form a wrap which completely encompasses the article. As the wrap shrinks toward its original size, it will conform to the shape of the article, and thus provide a taut, wrinkle-free wrapping about the article.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings, forming a part of this specification and in which like reference characters are employed to designate like parts throughout the same:

FIG. I is a plan view of an apparatus embodying the present invention and utilized for banding a label around a bottle or similar article;

FIG. 2 is a partial side elevational view, partially in section, illustrating the apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken on line IIIIII of FIG. 2 and illustrates the means for joining, cutting and sealing the strips of film which are fed about opposed sides of the bottle;

FIG. 4 is a transverse sectional view taken on line lV-IV of FIG. 2 and illustrates the bottle shown in FIGS. 1-3 with the label applied thereto;

FIG. Sis a sectional view taken along line V-V of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view illustrating the drive mechanism of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1-5;

FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic view illustrating the apparatus for stretching the strip of material;

FIGS. 8 and 9 are diagrammatic views, and respectively illustrate the strip of labeling material before and after the stretching operation;

FIGS. 10l3 are a series of diagrammatic views illustrating the operation of the apparatus for joining, cutting and scaling the strips of labeling material fed about opposed sides of the bottle to form the band around the bottle;

FIG. 14 is a diagrammatic view illustrating the application of the method of the present invention to forming a wrapping which completely surrounds an article, such as a package of cheese; and

FIG. 15 is a schematic of the electrical circuit used in the material stretching means.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to the drawings, there is shown an apparatus for forming and applying a label to a bottle. The labeling apparatus includes a framework, generally designated as 20, for providing a horizontally disposed table 2l having a receiving end portion as at 22 and an outlet end portion as at 23. Also, the table is formed with a longitudinally extending slot therein for receiving a chain conveyor 26 having equally spaced attachments 27 thereon. The attachments 27 are formed to engage and grip a bottle such as 28 and convey the same along the table 21.

To facilitate placing the bottles 28 on the chain attachments 27 a pair of laterally spaced guide members 29-29 are provided at the receiving end 22 of the table 21 and spaced-apart a distance slightly greater than the width of the bottle. It should be understood, that a bottle such as 28 is placed on each chain attachment 27 such that the conveyor 26 conveys a stream of bottles along the table 21. In the apparatus illustrated in the drawings, the bottles are manually positioned on the attachments 27, but it may be desirable to utilize an automatic positioning apparatus with the present invention.

A film dispensing apparatus is disposed on either side of the chain conveyor 26. Each film dispensing apparatus feeds a film of polyethylene having a l to 2 mil. thickness, or a similar material having a memory characteristic, to one side of one of the bottles 28 being conveyed along the table 21 by the conveyor 26. Since the film-dispensing apparatus on one side of conveyor 26 is identical to the film-dispensing apparatus on the other side ofthe conveyor, although disposed to dispense a film in the reverse direction, the following detailed description of the film dispensing apparatus will be directed to only one of the same. To facilitate describing the film-dispensing apparatus, the apparatus to the left of the conveyor 26 is generally designated as 30, while the apparatus to the right of the conveyor is generally designated as 31.

Each film dispensing apparatus generally includes: a spool of film 34 supported on a spindle 36, an idler roll 37 around which the film is trained, a selectively braked idler roll 38 also having the film trained therearound, a photoelectric scanning device 39 through which the film passes, a driven feed roll and an idler roll 42 supported on one end portion of a pivotally mounted arm 43 and arranged to direct the path of the film toward the conveyor 26. The spindle 36 supporting the spool 34 is engaged by a tensioning device so that the film is fed from the spool under tension. The tensioning device includes a band 44 wrapped around the spindle 36 and having one end portion thereof attached to the table 21 as at 46. A spring 47 has one end portion thereof attached to the other end portion of the band 44 and has its other end portion fixed to the table as at 48. The spring 47 causes the band 44 to be snugly held into engagement with the spindle 36 to provide a frictional force for retarding the rotation of the film spool 34.

The selectively braked pulley 38 includes an electrically actuated magnetic brake which may be selectively actuated to prevent rotation of the pulley 38. The scanning unit 39 includes a photoelectric cell which is actuated when an appropriately placed marking on the film 35 passes through the scanner.

The feed roll 40 is supported on one end portion of a driven shaft 50 which is properly supported in bearing blocks attached to the framework 20. As best seen in FIG. 2, a collar 52 is journaled on the shaft 50 and has a cam surface formed thereon and arranged to engage an actuating arm 53 of a microswitch 54 for actuating the microswitch for a predetermined intcrval of time during each revolution of the shaft 50.

To hold the film 35 in engagement with the feed roll 40, a hold down unit generally designated as 56 is provided. The hold down unit 56 includes a pivoted arm 57 having an idler roll 58 rotatably attached to one portion thereof and a spring 59 attached to the other end thereof. The spring 59 is fixed to the table 21 as at 61 and is arranged to pivot the idler roll 58 into engagement with the film 35 and hold the same against the feed roll 40. The feed roll 40 is ofa diameter to feed a sufficient length of film material 35 to from one half of a band label around one of the bottles 28 during one revolution of the feed roll. Thus, during one revolution of the feed roll of both dispensing apparatus 30 and 31, a sufficient length of film 35 is fed toward the conveyor 26 to form one complete band label around one of the bottles 28.

It should be noted that continuing to rotate the feed roll 40, while preventing the rotation of the selectively braked pulley 38, will cause the material disposed between the feed roll and the braked pulley to be stretched. The microswitch 54, the photoelectric scanner 39 and the electrically actuated magnetic brake of the brake pulley 38 are electrically connected to an electric supply source such that the brake will be actuated to prevent rotation of the pulley 38 when both the microswitch and the photoelectric scanner are actuated respectively by the cam 52 and a marking appropriately placed on the film 35. The electrical circuit will be broken to release the magnetic brake of the pulley 38 only when the microswitch 54 is deactuated by the cam rotating to a position where the actuating arm 53 of the microswitch 54 is in its of position. Therefore, both the microswitch 54 and the scanner 39 must be actuated to set the magnetic brake of the pulley 38, but only the deactuation of the microswitch 54 will release the magnetic brake. I

For ease of reference, the feed roll of the dispensing apparatus 31, which is disposed to the right of conveyor 26, is designated as 41 and its drive shaft is designated as 51. It should be understood that the feed roll 40 is identical to the feed roll 41, as is the shaft 50, to the shaft 51.

In accordance with the present invention, a sealing station generally designated as 69 is affixed to the table 21 toward the output end 23 thereof. The sealing station 69, as best seen in FIGS. 2, 3 and 5, includes a top plate 72 which is horizontally disposed and held in a spaced relationship with the table 21 by four supporting columns 73 arranged generally at the four corners of the top plate. Disposed on either side of the conveyor 26 is a series of gripping fingers and 71, with each series supported between a pair of horizontally spaced chains. The number and arrangement of the series of gripping fingers 70 on the left side of conveyor 26 is identical to the number and arrangement of the series gripping fingers 71 on the right side of the conveyor. The individual gripping fingers to the left of the conveyor 26 are designated as 74, while the individual fingers to the right of the conveyor are designated as 75. Reference characters 76 and 77 refer respectively to each upper chain and each lower chain which convey the gripping fingers 74 and 75 around a quadrangular path having one side thereof substantially parallel to the conveyor 26 and moving in the same direction as the bottle conveyor. Each gripping finger 74, shown to the left of the bottle conveyor 26, is in register with one of the gripping fingers 75 on the right side of the conveyor 26 as the gripping fingers move through the segment of their path of movement which is parallel to the conveyor 26.

To support each series of gripping fingers, a series of posts 78 are disposed vertically between the upper chain 76 and the identical lower chain 77. Each chain 76 or 77 is trained around a set of four sprockets 79, 80, 81 and 82 defining the quadrangular path of movement.

The sprockets 79, 80 and 81 are idler sprockets, and the sprocket 82 is a drive sprocket which is journaled on a drive shaft 83 in the known manner. It should be noted, that the drive sprocket 82 for both the upper and the lower chains 76 and 77, respectively, on one side of the conveyor 26 are jour naled on a common shaft 83 so that both the upper chain and the lower chain move coincidentally one to the other. The chains 76 and 77 move at the same rate of speed as the chain conveyor 26, thus the chains move coincidentally with the conveyor 26 during the segment of their path of movement which is parallel to the conveyor 26. ldler sprockets 80 and 81 are positioned adjacent the conveyor 26 and define the path of movement which is parallel to the conveyor.

To adjust the spacing between one of the fingers 74 and the associated finger 75 during the parallel path of movement, four adjustment mechanisms are provided to engage the chains 76 and 77 along the path of movement parallel to the conveyor 26. Each adjustment mechanism includes a base 84 affixed either to the table 21 or to the top plate 72, a horizontally disposed plate 85 having threaded apertures formed therethrough to receive an adjusting screw 86, and a guide shoe 87 which is horizontally disposed to engage each chain 76 or 77. To permit adjustment of the guide shoes 87, each guide shoe is releasably secured to its respective base 84 by means of screws 88.

As the gripping fingers 74 travel around the sprockets 80 of the series 70 disposed to the left of the conveyor 26, they engage the film 35 being dispensed from the dispensing apparatus 30 to the left of the conveyor. In a like fashion, as the gripping fingers 75 travel around sprocket 80 of the series 71 disposed to the right of conveyor 26, they engage the film 35 being dispensed from the dispensing apparatus 31 to the right of the conveyor. Thus, as the gripping fingers 74 and 75 travel around their associated sprockets 80 they cooperate to bring the films 35, 35 being dispensed from opposite sides of the conveyor 26, together in front of one of the bottles 28 being conveyed along the table 21. As the gripping fingers 74 and 75 move into the segment of their path which is parallel to the movement of the conveyor 26 they approach one another to grip the films 35, 35 therebetween. The gripping fingers 74 and 75 are so spaced around their associated chains 76 to en gage the films 35, 35 in front of each bottle 28 as it is con' veyed through the sealing station 69. Due to the series arrangement of the bottles 28 along the conveyor 26, adjacent sets of gripping fingers 74 and 75 engage the films 35,35 being fed on opposite sides of the bottles, both in front of and behind each bottle as it is conveyed through the station 69 to form a band of film around each bottle.

To provide means for cutting and sealing the film 35, each gripping finger 74 is formed of laminated fiberglass and has a groove 89 formed in its outwardly facing surface for receiving a nichrome wire 91. A retaining block 93 is affixed to each post 78 of the series 70 which also has attached thereto a gripping finger 74. The retaining blocks 93 are formed to receive brushes 94 and 96 formed of copper or other conductive material. The brushes 94 and 96 are arranged to contact electrically conductive strips 97 and 99 which are set into an insulating block 101 supported from the top plate 72 by a sup port member 102. Each end portion of the nichrome wire 91 is electrically connected to one of the brushes 94 and 96, and the contact strips 97 and 99 are electrically connected to an electric supply source in a manner to cause an electrical circuit to be completed when the brushes engage the contact strips. The nichrome wire 91 is heated whenever the electrical circuit is completed by the engagement of the associated brushes 94 and 96 with the contact strips 97 and 99. The contact strip 97 extends substantially along the entire length of the path of the chains 76 which is parallel to conveyor 26, while the contact strip 99 extends parallel to contact strip 97 but is of a substantially lesser length and terminates as indicated at point 104 on FIG. 2.

The contact strips 97 and 99 are arranged to complete the circuit, and thereby to cause the nichrome wire 91 to be heated, only when the films 35, 35 are firmly gripped between the gripping fingers 74 and 75. The heated nichrome wire 91 contacts the films 35, 35 and the heat therefrom melts a small portion of the films gripped between the gripping fingers 74 and 75. Thus, the films 35, 35 are cut and contemporaneously sealed on either side of the nichrome wire 91. In this manner, a seal is formed between the films 35, 35 both behind a leading bottle 28 and in front of its adjacent trailing bottle. It should be noted, that as each bottle is conveyed through the sealing station 69, a seal is formed both in front of and behind the bottle, thereby to form a continuous band around the bottle composed of two sealed-together sections, each section being arranged on one side of the bottle and opposed to the other section.

The sealing station 69 also includes a hold down channel 106 suspended from a pair of brackets 107, 107 which depend from and are affixed to the top plate 72. The hold down bracket 106 is arranged to engage the upper surface of the bottle 28 as it is conveyed through the sealing station 69, and thereby to hold the bottle in its proper horizontal alignment and to prevent the bottle from becoming disengaged from the conveyor 26.

Referring now particularly to FIG. 6, there is shown a diagrammatic view illustrating the drive mechanism of the present invention including a prime mover 111 which supplies the motive power to operate the bottle conveyor 26, the feed rolls 40 and 41, respectively of the film dispensing apparatus 30 and 31, and the chains 76 and 77 of the sealing station 69. The output shaft of the prime mover 11.1 is directly connected to a right-angle gear reducer 112 having an output shaft 113 which is appropriately journaled in bearings as at 114 and 115. To provide power takeoff means, two output sprockets 117 and 118 are attached to the output shaft 113. The output sprocket 117 is connected by means of a chain 119 to the sprocket 121 which in turn is connected to the drive shaft 122 of the conveyor 26. The drive shaft 122 has its end portions journaled in bearings as at 124 and 126 and has the drive sprocket 128 of the chain conveyor 26 keyed thereto. The chain conveyor 26 is trained around the drive sprocket 128 which is positioned at the output end of the table 21 and also around an idler sprocket 129 which is located near the receiving end of the table 21. Thus, rotation of the output sprocket 117 causes the conveyor 26 to advance along the table 21.

The second output sprocket 118 is connected by means of a chain 131 and a sprocket 132 to a right-angle gear reducer 133 having its output shaft directly connected to the drive shaft 51 of the feed roll 41 of the right-hand dispensing apparatus 31. lt should be understood, that to properly feed the film 35 from opposed sides of the conveyor 26 and to properly convey the gripping fingers 74 and 75 disposed on opposed sides of the conveyor, it is necessary to rotate the right-hand feed roll 41 and the drive sprocket 82 to the left of the conveyor 26 in a counterclockwise direction, and to rotate the feed roll 40 to the left of the conveyor and the drive sprocket 82 to the right of the conveyor in a clockwise direction. Therefore, a set of reversing gears designated as 134 and 136 are provided. The reversing gear 134, the drive shaft 83 disposed to the left of the conveyor 26 and the feed roll shaft 51 to the right of the conveyor are connected together by means of a chain 137, which is trained around sprockets 138, 139 and 140 respectively connected to the reversing gear 134, said drive shaft 83 and the feed roll drive shaft 51. The reversing gear 136 is directly connected to the feed roll drive shaft 50 and also connected by means of a chain 141 and sprockets 142 and 143 to the drive shaft 83 disposed to the right of the conveyor 86. Thus, clockwise rotation of output shaft 113 causes clockwise rotation of the feed roll 41 and the sprockets 82 disposed to the left of the conveyor 26 and causes counterclockwise rotation of the feed roll 40 and the sprockets 82 disposed to the right of the conveyor 26.

It should be understood that the shafting and sprockets are of a size to drive the chain conveyor 26 and the chains 76 and 77 at the same rate of speed. Also, the feed rolls 40 and 41 are of a diameter and driven at a speed to dispense a length of film sufficient to form one half ofa label for every bottle conveyed into the sealing station 69.

OPERATION OF THE APPARATUS Referring now specifically to FIGS. 7 through 13, there are shown diagrammatic views illustrating the method of operation of the apparatus hereinabove described. In accordance with the present invention, the film 35 is stretched prior to being fed into a juxtapositional relationship with a bottle 28. To accomplish the stretching, the feed rolls are continuously rotated while the braked rolls 38 are intermittently retarded. For a given interval of time during each revolution of feed roll 40, as diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 7, the cam 52 engages the actuating arm '53 of the microswitch 54 and closes the contacts thereof. The film 35, as illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, has markings as at 151 which are positioned to actuate the photoelectric scanner 39 and close the electrical contacts thereof. When both the contacts of the microswitch 54 and the scanner 39 are in their closed position, a circuit is completed to set a magnet brake associated with roll 38, and thereby retard the rotation of the roll 38. The electrical circuit is only deactuated when the cam 52 allows the contacts of the microswitch 54 to move to their open position. Therefore the film 35 is stretched an amount depending upon the relationship between the actuation of scanner 39 by markings 151 and the actuation of the microswitch 54 by the cam 52. As illustrated in FIG. 15, the electrical circuit also includes a holding relay 150 to retain the brake in its engaged position until the microswitch 54 is deactuated.

As illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, the distance between points A and B which define the cutoff points to form one-half of a label for one of the bottles 28 increases when the material is stretched. Although the apparatus and method utilized by the apparatus disclosed herein contemplates stretching the film 35 prior to forming the same about the bottle 28, it should be understood, that the stretching operation and the forming of the material around the bottle could be contemporaneously performed.

To form a band label around one of the bottles 28, the films 35, 35 must be wrapped loosely around the bottles, cut to size, and sealed together at the cut edges. The various positions which the gripping fingers 74 and 75 assume as the above steps are being sequentially performed for one of the bottles 28 are illustrated in FIGS. 10 to 13.

As best seen in FIG. 10, the films 35, 35 are first brought together in front of one of the bottles 28 by the action of the gripping fingers 74 and 75 as the gripping fingers travel around the sprockets 80 disposed at the head of the path of movement of the gripping fingers parallel to the conveyor 26. It should be apparent that each set of gripping fingers 74 and 75 brings the films 35, 35 together in front of each of the bottles 28 as the bottles enter the sealing station 69 and that each set of gripping fingers forms the films around the preceding bottle simultaneously with urging the films together in front of the bottle entering the station.

As the bottles 28 and associated gripping fingers 74 and 75 coincidentally move through the sealing station 69, the chains 76 and 77 engage the adjustment mechanisms which urge the fingers toward each other to firmly grip the film, as best seen in FIG. 11.

Further movement through the sealing station causes the contact brushes 94 and 96 to engage the contact strips 97 and 99, thereby electrically connecting the nichrome wire 91 with an electric supply source. The nichrome wire is electrically heated, and the heat therefrom melts a portion of films 35, 35 which is gripped between the fingers, thereby cutting the films at a point in front of one of the bottles 28 which is also behind the preceding bottle. The heat also causes the cut edges to form a seal between the films 35, 35 disposed on opposite sides of the bottle 28 on either side of the nichrome wire 91. At this stage in the operation the films 35, 35 are cut and sealed together in front of one of the bottles 28 and also the films are cut and sealed both in front of and behind the preceding bottle. Therefore, the preceding bottle has a continuous band of material loosely wrapped therearound.

As the bottles 28 leave the sealing station 69, the gripping fingers 74 and 75 move away from each other releasing the sealed ends as at 154 and 155 to permit the label to shrink toward its original size.

Due to the memory characteristic of the film 35, the loosely fitting band shrinks toward the unstretched size thereof, thereby forming a tightly fitting label around the bottle 28 as illustrated in cross section in FIGS. 13 and 4.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 14, there is diagrammatically shown an apparatus embodying the features of the present invention as applied to forming a wrapping to entirely surround a package, such as a package of cheese. In accordance with this embodiment of the invention, a film 35' having a memory characteristic, i.e., when stretched, the material slowly returns toward its original shape, is fed between two pairs of rollers 161 and 162. The leading rollers 162 are rotated at a faster rate than the trailing rollers 161, thus stretching the film 35 as it passes between the pairs of rollers 161 and 162. The film 35' is then fed beneath the con veyed stream of equally spaced articles such as 163 and is formed by means of a plow or similar device into a tubeshaped configuration loosely fitting aroundithe articles. The adjacent free edges as at 165 of the tube formed by the plow are sealed by a continuously heated wire or, other method to form a sealed tube around the articles 163. The tube of film 35' and the series of articles 163 then pass through a second sealing station which could be of similar configuration to sealing station 69 described in the first embodiment. The sealing station of the second embodiment pinches the tube of film 35' in front of one of the articles 163 as at 166. It should be noted, that pinching together of the tube in front of one of articles 163 simultaneously pinches the tube together behind the adjacent leading article. As the tube and the articles 163 continue through the sealing station a nichrome wire, such as that described in the first embodiment hereof, is heated to cut the tube and contemporaneously seal the cut ends of the tube on either side of the cut. In this manner, a wrapping having a longitudinally extending seam and a laterally extending seam on either end thereof is loosely formed around an article such as 163. As the film of material 35' slowly shrinks toward its original size, it snugly engages the article to form a taut wrapping therearound. A wrapping formed in this manner is both wrinkle free and. in tight engagement with the wrapped article.

Although minor modifications might be suggested by those versed in the art, it should be understood that I wish to embody within the scope of the patent warranted hereon all such modification as naturally and properly come within the scope of my contribution to the art.

Iclaim:

l. A method of wrapping an article comprising:

providing a material having a memory characteristic, ie

when stretched said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof;

training the wrapping material around a selectively braked roll and then around a continuously driven roll;

selectively braking said first-mentioned roll while continuing to drive said last-mentioned roll to stretch the material therebetween;

forming said stretched material about the article;

sealing and cutting the free ends of the material to form a wrap around the article; and

permitting said material to return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrap around the article.

2. A method of wrapping an article comprising the steps of:

conveying a series of equally spaced articles;

providing a continuous strip of wrapping material adjacent said conveyed series of articles, said continuous strip of wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof;

stretching a portion of said strip of wrapping material;

forming the stretched portion of the continuous strip of wrapping material into a tubeshaped configuration around the article;

sealing the loose, adjacent edges of the tube-shaped wrap;

cutting the tube-shaped wrap both in front of and behind the article;

sealing the opposed loose ends of the tube-shaped wrap to form a loosely fitting, sealed wrapping around the article; and

permitting the loosely fitting wrap to return toward its original size to form a taut wrapping around the article.

3. A method of wrapping an article comprising the steps of:

conveying an equally spaced series of articles;

providing a strip of wrapping material on opposed sides of the article, said wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof;

stretching said strips of wrapping material;

forming said stretched strips of wrapping material into a loosely fitting wrap around the article;

sealing one strip of wrapping material to the other strip by locally heating the strips in regions ahead of and behind the articles to form a sealed, loosely fitting wrap around the article; and

permitting said wrapping material to return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrap around the article.

4. A method of wrapping an article comprising the steps of:

conveying a series of equally spaced articles;

providing a continuous strip of wrapping material on opposed sides of the conveyed articles, said wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof;

stretching a portion of each said strip of wrapping material;

forming the stretched portion of each said continuous strip around the article to form a loosely fitting wrap therearound;

cutting said formed portions of each said continuous strip of wrapping material on opposed ends of the article;

sealing one cut strip of wrapping material to other strip of wrapping material by locally heating the strips in regions ahead of and behind the articles to form a sealed loosely fitting wrap around the package; and

permitting said wrapping material to slowly return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrap around the article.

5. The method of forming a wrap around an article as defined in claim 2, further characterized by:

said cutting and sealing steps for the opposed loose ends being performed contemporaneously by moving a heated wire into contact with said wrapping material.

6. A method of wrapping an article as defined in claim 6,

further characterized by:

said cutting and sealing steps being performed contemporaneously by moving a heated wire into contact with the material.

7. A method ofwrapping an article comprising:

conveying a series of equally spaced articles;

providing a continuous strip of wrapping material adjacent said conveyed series of articles, :said continuous strip of wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof; feeding said continuous strip of wrapping material between a first pair ofdriven rollers; then feeding said wrapping material between a second pair of driven rollers; driving said second pair of driven rollers at a faster rate of speed than said first pair of driven rollers to stretch said material; forming the stretched portion of the continuous strip of wrapping material into a tube-shaped configuration around the article; sealing the loose, adjacent edges of the tube-shaped wrap; cutting the tube-shaped wrap both in front of and behind the article; sealing the opposed loose ends of the tubeshaped wrap to form a loosely fitting, sealed wrapping around the article; and permitting the loosely fitting wrap to return toward its original size to form a taut wrapping around the article. 8. A method of wrapping an article comprising: conveying a series ofequally spaced articles; providing a continuous strip of wrapping material on opposed sides of the conveyed articles, said wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof; training said continuous strip of material around a selectively braked roller; then training the continuous strip of material around a continuously driven roller; and selectively braking said first-mentioned roller to stretch the material disposed between said first and said second rollers forming the stretched portion of each said continuous strip around the article to form a loosely fitting wrap therearound; cutting said formed portions of each said continuous strip of wrapping material on opposed ends of the article; sealing the loose ends of one cut strip of wrapping material to the adjacent loose ends of the other strip of wrapping material to fonn a sealed, loosely fitting wrap around the package; and permitting said wrapping material to slowly return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrap around the article. 9; An apparatus for applying a wrapping to an article comprising:

a framework providing an elongated supporting surface; means supported by said surface for supplying a continuous strip of a wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.ev when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof; means stretching said wrapping material said means includmg a selectively braked roll about which the material may be trained therearound, a continuously driven roll about which material may be trained therearound, and means for selectively braking said firstmentioned roll to stretch a portion of the material; means forming stretched portions of the material in a loosely fitting wrap around the article; means cutting the wrapping material; and means sealing the loose, adjacent edges of the cut wrapping material to form a loosely fitting wrap around the article, whereby said loosely fitting wrap of material will slowly return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrapping around the article. 10. An apparatus for applying a wrapping to an article comprising:

a framework providing an elongated supporting surface;

conveying means supported by said framework for conveying an equally spaced series of the articles to be wrapped along said elongated supporting surface; 7

means dispensing two continuous strips of a wrapping material, said continuous strips of said wrapping material being dispensed on opposed sides of the article, and said wrapping material having a memory characteristic, i.e. when stretched, said material slowly returns toward the original size thereof;

means supported by said elongated surface for stretching each said continuous strip of said wrapping material;

means supported by said surface and moving parallel to and at the same rate of speed as said conveying means for engaging said continuous strips of said wrapping material to form the same around opposed sides of the article to be wrapped;

means moving with said engaging means for cutting said continuous strips of wrapping material both in front of and behind the article to be wrapped; and

means moving with said engaging means for sealing the cut end portion of one of said strips of said wrapping material to the adjacent cut end portions of said other strip of said wrapping material to form a continuous band of said wrapping material around the article,

whereby said band of said wrapping material will slowly return toward the original size thereof to form a taut wrapping around the article.

11. An apparatus for wrapping an article as defined in claim 10, wherein said means stretching each said continuous strip of said wrapping material comprises:

a selectively braked roll rotatably supported on said supporting surface and having the continuous strip of wrapping material trained therearound;

a continuously driven roll rotatably supported on said supporting surface and spaced from said selectively braked roll and being adapted to have the continuous strip of wrapping material trained therearound and held in driving engagement therewith;

braking means engaging said selectively braked roll for preventing the rotation thereof;

means driving said continuously driven wheel;

means providing a cam surface rotating coincidentally with said continuously driven roll;

electrical switch means supported by said supporting surface and positioned to be periodically engaged by said cam means, said electrical switch means being actuated when engaged by said cam means;

a second electrical switch means supported by said supporting surface and disposed adjacent to the path of movement of the continuous strip of wrapping material as it passes from said selectively braked roll to said continuously driven roll, said second electrical switch means being actuated in response to one ofa plurality oflongitudinally spaced, optically opaque markings on the wrapping material passing thereby;

an electric power source; and

electrical conductive means connecting said first electrical switch, said second electrical switch, said power source and said electrically actuated brake means to cause said brake means to be actuated when both said first and said second electrical switch means are actuated and to cause said brake means to be deactuated when said first electrical switch means is deactiviated.

12. An apparatus for wrapping an article as defined in claim 10, wherein said means engaging said continuous strips of said wrapping material comprises:

a first chain conveying means disposed on one side of said article-conveying means;

a second chain conveying means disposed on the other side of said article-conveying means, said first and said second chain conveying means each having a path of movement parallel with and adjacent to said articleconveying means, and each said conveying means traveling at the same rate of speed as said article convetying means; a first series of equally spaced gripping ingers attached to and traveling with said first chain conveying means;

a second series of equally spaced gripping fingers attached to and traveling with said second chain conveying means, each said gripping finger of said first series being arranged to be in register with a corresponding gripping finger of said second series to grip said continuous strips of said wrapping material therebetween at a point in front of each article to be wrapped as said gripping fingers travel through the path of movement parallel with and adjacent to said article conveying means.

13. An apparatus for wrapping an article as defined in claim 12, wherein said cutting means and said sealing means com prises:

an elongated, horizontally disposed, electrical heating element attached to each gripping finger of one of said first or said second series of gripping fingers, said heating element being arranged to contact said strips of film for cutting the same and melting the cut, adjacent end portions to form a seal therebetween; and

means electrically connecting said heating element to an electrical supply source.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/399, 53/441, 53/550, 53/128.1, 215/12.1, 53/556, 53/586, 53/51, 53/463, 53/477, 53/450
International ClassificationB65B53/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B53/00
European ClassificationB65B53/00