US 3594978 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent l 13,s94,97s
Inventor Robert J. Spitznagel Cincinnati, Ohio Oct. 27, 1969 July 27, 197 1 Phillips Petroleum Company Appl. No. Filed Patented Assignee APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING ARTICLES 1 Claim, 2 Drawing Figs.
US. Cl 53/l 83, 53/372, 53/335 Int. Cl 1365b 9/14, B65b 43/36 Field of Search 1. 53/29, 183,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,367,087 2/1968 Jaerund 53/385 X 2,861,406 11/1958 Holsman et a1. 53/29 3,197,936 8/1965 Messmer 53/29 3,269,087 8/1966 Cloud et al. 53/29 X 3,334,466 8/1967 Scholle 53/28 3,448,555 6/1969 Shabram 53/29 3,492,775 2/1970 Rhine et a1 53/29 Primary Examiner-Theron E. Condon Assistant Examiner-E. F. Desmond Attorney-Young and Quigg ABSTRACT: A method and apparatus for separately packaging articles within a continuous tubular film.
PATENTEnJuLznsn 4 $594,978
INVENTOR. RJ. SPITZNAGEL BY f ATTORNEYS APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING ARTICLES This invention relates to a method and apparatus for packaging articles in a tubular film. In another aspect, this invention relates to a method and apparatus for separately, individually packaging articles in a tubular film.
In heretofore used apparatus and methods of packaging articles in film, the articles were placed on a sheet of film which was thereafter folded over to cover said articles and then usually heat sealed along overlapping edges of the film. The resultant package required a great deal of heat sealing, produced an unsightly heat sealed edge that sometimes extended around three sides of the package, and required a great deal of time and supervision. Other packaging machines further folded the film sheet at the ends of the package to avoid a portion of the heat sealed edge. These packages were of neater appearance and were easier to stack one on another,
but required the utilization of folding arms that contained a largenumber of moving parts. These folding arms often malfunctioned, required a great amount of supervision and were not adequately constructed to handle and package a plurality of small or irregularly shaped articles. In order to increase packaging speed and handle irregularly shaped articles, machines were developed which utilized individual film bags that were filled and heat sealed at the top bag opening. These later machines solved many of the problems encountered with film sheet packaging machines but were not adapted to high speed packaging, required a great number of moving parts to position an individual bag for filling and sealing operations, experienced frequent malfunctions which resulted in a great amount of waste and required a great deal of supervision and maintenance.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a machine and method for forming an improved film package. Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus and method for packaging articles at greater speeds and with decreased waste and supervision. Yet another object of this invention'is to provide an apparatus and method utilizing a continuous tubular film for separately packaging articles.
Other aspects, objects, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a study of the disclosure, the appended claims, and the drawing.
The drawings are diagrammatic views of the apparatus of this invention.
FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic frontal view of the apparatus and FIG. 2 is an-enlarged plan view of the article filling and film sealing stations of the apparatus.
FIG. I shows the packaging apparatus 2 of this invention. A reservoir 4 of continuous tubular film 6 is provided with said film 6 preferably spooled on a drum. The film 6 may, however, be boxed by folding the continuous film in such a manner that the film can uniformly feed into the machine or, in a further advanced apparatus, having a film extruder positioned adjacent the apparatus with said extruder or tubular film forming machine functioning to manufacture continuous tubular film as needed by the packaging machine. In the latter case, nip rolls with a film-receiving bin are utilized in lieu of reservoir 4 so that the continuously extruding film can be utilized with the packaging machine 2.
The film 6 is formed of a heat-scalable material such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyamide, vinyl chloride polymers and vinylidene chloride polymers, and the like. It should also be pointed out that the tubular film can be of various transverse dimensions to accommodate the articles 8 to be packaged. It is preferred, however, that the tubular film 6Ibe a flat-lay tubing so that the apparatus 2 can be more simply. constructed.
A separating means 10 is positioned within the tubular film 6 spaced from the film reservoir 4. The separating means 10 is preferably an elongated plate having smooth edges to prevent damage to the surrounding film 6. In order to maintain the separating means within the tubular film 6 at a desired position relative to the apparatus 2, it is preferred that the separat- 2 ing means and encompassing tubular film 6 be inclined from horizontal in order that the separating means 10 is urged downwardly within the tubular film 6 by the force of gravity. Separate rollers 12 are positioned adjacent opposed ends of the separating means 10 with each roller 12 laterally spaced therefrom. The tubular film 6 issuing from the reservoir 4 is curved and bent over each roller for guiding the film through the machine and maintaining the separating means in a desired positionwithin the tubular film. Since the force of gravity is utilized in this invention to maintain the separating means 10, it is desired that the pathway of the film 6 moving from the reservoir 4 be in an upward direction whereby frictional forces between the separating means 10 and the film 6 act to move-the separating means in an opposed direction to the force of gravity acting on said separating means 10. As a result of this construction,-the separating means 10 floats" within the tubular film 6 at a preselected position between the guiding rollers 12 and separates one transverse portion of the tubular film 6 from an adjacent portion during movement of the film 6 through the apparatus 2.
A cutting element 14 is positioned adjacent the separating member 10 separated therefrom by portions of the tubular film 6. The cutting element 14 is intermittently, transversely movable relative to the tubular film 6 for transversely contacting and cutting portions of the tubular film 6 at longitudinally spaced-apart locations. The portion of the film 6 cut by the cutting element 14 is that film 6 positioned on one side of the separating member 10 and separating said member 10 from the cutting element 14.
From the separating member 10 the film moves over roller 12 as described above and thereafter between a drive roller 16 and a pressure roller 18 which maintains said film 6 in forceful contact with the drive roller 16 for intermittent movement of the film 6 by the drive roller 16 past the cutting element 14 and onto the loading platform 20. The drive roller 16 is positioned relative to the cutting element 14 and the loading platform 20 such that as the continuous tubular film 6 is indexed onto the top of the loading platform 20 from the drive roller 16, the transverse cuts formed on one side of the film 6 are uppennost. Film indexing and bag length adjustments can be accomplished by means of an electronically timed electric brake and clutch arrangement positioned on the shaft of the drive roller 16. Also, a drive comprising an adjustable stroke pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder can be used with a rack and pinion arrangement to turn the feed roll. The drive systems are controlled, for example, by an electric eye scanning register and associated printed spots on the film.
A film separating means, for example an air blower 22, is associated with the apparatus 2. The air blower 22 for example is connected at a discharge end to a first and preferably a second conduit 24, 26. The discharge end 28 of the first conduit 24 is positioned adjacent the pathway of the film 6, spaced from the separating member 10 and directed toward a transverse cut in the film and generally along the upper surface 30 of the loading platform 20 in the direction the film is moving along said platform 20. Air passed by the blower 22 and through the first conduit 24 is discharged against the tubular film 6 and enters the tubular film through one of the transverse cuts in the film 6 for'opening the cut and forming a pathway into the tubular film 6.
Referring to FIG. 2, first and second arms 32, 34 are preferably positioned on opposed sides of the film 6, adjacent a transverse cut in the film as the film rests on the loading platform 20. Each arm extends toward the opposed arm and is pivotally movable relative to the tubular film 6 between a first position (shown by broken lines) at which the arms extend across the cut and prevent articles 8 from moving into the film 6 and a second position (shown by solid lines) at which an outer end 36 of each arm 32, 34 is pivoted through the cut of the film 6 and into the tubular film 6 for maintaining the cut in an open position and permitting articles to enter by gravity into the tubular film 6. Other feed mechanisms such as power gates, valve arrangements, and the like, can be utilized for controlling the feed of articles 8 into the tubular film 6, but for maintaining the construction of the apparatus in a simple form that is easy to operate and maintain, it is preferred that the feed mechanism employ a downwardly angled loading platform and the arms 32, 34 as described above.
A sealing element 38 is positioned above the loading platform 20 and the lower edge of the tubular film 6 resting in the loading position. The sealing element 38 is connected to a power means 40, preferably a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder, for intermittent movement of the sealing element 38 by the cylinder from a first position (shown) wherein the element 38 is spaced from the film 6 and a second position wherein a first and second heating head 42, 44 of the element 38 contacts the film and extends transversely entirely across the film with each head 42, 44 spaced from and positioned on opposed sides of a transverse cut formed by the cutting element 14. The heads 42, 44 of the sealing element 38 are preferably electrically operated and are moved by the cylinder 40 into sealing engagement with the film 6 upon indexing of the film downwardly across the loading platform 20 after articles 8 have been inserted into the film 6. The tubular film 6 is formed of heat-sealable material as previously described whereby contacting the film 6 with the spaced-apart heads 42, 44 seals an article-filled portion of the tubing with the second head 44 as the first head 42 seals a portion of the film above the transverse filling cut thereby constructing a bottom for the next article package.
By the apparatus of this invention, a plurality of scaled together separately packaged articles are formed. For han dling and shipping operations it is often desired that each packaged article be separated one from the other. ln this case, it is preferred that first and second package cutters 46, 48 are positioned between the first and second heating heads 42, 44 on opposed sides of a transverse article filling cut. Movement of the sealing element 38 into contact with the film 6 causes the first and second package cutters 46, 48 to transversely sever the tubular film between each heating head 42, 44 and the transverse article filling cut. The second conduit 26 directs air from the blower 22 to the upper surface of the platform between the package cutters 46, 48 for removal of the cutoff portion of the film 6. For simplicity of construction it is preferred that each package cutter 46, 48 be a hot wire.
In the operation of the apparatus the tubular film 6 is moved from the film reservoir 4 over rollers 12, around the separating member 10, between the drive roller 16 and the pressure roller 18 and onto the upper surface of the loading platform 20. The tubular film 6 is intermittently indexed by the drive roller 16 a preferred length onto the platform 20 from the reservoir. At the termination of each movement of the film 6 by the drive roller 16, the cutting element 14 forms a transverse cut across a portion of the tubular film 6, air from the blower issues from the first conduit 24, opens a previously formed cut and a passageway into the tubing and the sealing element 38 is actuated to seal the top of a previously filled portion of the film and the bottom of the film presently being filled with air. The arms 32, 34 thereafter extend into the tubing through the open transverse filling cut and articles are directed into the tubular film. After the desired number of articles have been inserted into the film 6, the arms move from the second to the first position and the drive roller 16 indexes the continuous tubing film 6 to initiate another cycle. Where separated, sealed packages are desired, the film cutters 46, 48 separate a sealed package and its respective transverse filling cut as the film 6 is being sealed by the heating heads 42, 44 of the sealing element 38.
It should be understood, however, that the above sequence of operations is presented for example purposes and that movement of the various elements of the apparatus can be adjusted in a differently timed sequence so long as individually sealed packages of articles as described above are formed with the above-described tubular film.
Other modifications and alterations of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the fore oing discussion, example of operations, and accompanying rawing, and it should be understood that this invention is not to be unduly limited thereto.
What l claim is:
1. An apparatus for separately, sealably packaging articles within a tubular film, comprising:
a film reservoir adapted for issuing a continuous tubular film therefrom;
a first guiding roller being in contact with the film for changing the direction of the film issuing from said film reservoir;
a second guiding roller being in contact with the tubular film issuing from the first guiding roller spaced from said first guiding roller and at a higher elevation than said first guiding roller;
an elongated separating plate having smooth edges and being positioned within the tubular film between the first and second guiding rollers and maintained at said position by said first and second guiding rollers;
cutting element positioned adjacent the separating member and separated therefrom by portions of the tubular film, said cutting element being intermittently movable into and in contact with the tubular film between the cutting element and the separating member for transversely cutting portions of the tubular film at longitudinally spaced-apart locations; drive roller in contact with the film issuing from the second guiding roller, said drive roller being at a higher elevation and laterally spaced from said second guiding roller for bending the film over a portion of the second guiding roller for maintaining the separating plate adjacent the cutting element and being intermittently movable for intermittently indexing transversely cut portions of the film to hereafter article filling and sealing stations;
a pressure roller positioned adjacent the drive roller in contact with the film and urging said film against the drive roller;
loading platform positioned adjacent the drive roller and extending downwardly from said drive roller on a side of the film opposed to the cut portion of the film for receiving film passing from the drive roller with said cut portion of the film being uppermost;
an air blower;
a first conduit connected on one end to the air blower and the other end adjacent and directed toward the cut portion of a film positioned on the loading platform for discharging air from the blower against the cut portion of the film for opening the film cut and forming a pathway into the tubular film;
means for gravitationally passingan article downwardly along the loading platform, inserting an article through the cut portion of the film and into the tubular film;
sealing means for intermittently transversely sealing the tubular film on longitudinally opposed sides of the transverse cut portion of the film after placing the article within the film;
cutting elements associated with the sealing means, said cutting elements being movable with the sealing means for cutting the film in two between the transverse cut on the film and each traversely sealed portion of the film; and
a second conduit connected at one end to the blower and the other end being adjacent the first and second cutting elements for passing air from the blower against the cut portion of the film between the first and second cutting elements for moving the cutoff portion of the film from the loading platform.