US 3627276 A
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United S ates Patent  lnventor Saul 1R. Glll'ord Oberlin, Ohio  AppLNo. 55,180  Filed July 115, 1970  Patented Dec. 14, 1971 73] Ansignee Glllord Instrument Laboratories llnc.
Oberlin, Ohio 54] SAMPLE CONTAINER AND MIXING APPARATUS 9 (Zlalms, 9 Drawing Figs.
 US. Cl. 259/50 ] llnt. Cl B01i9/20  ll leldl 01' Search 259/49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 57, 58, 81, 88, 89, 90,14,15, 30; 233/24, 26  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 584,231 6/1897 McCornack 233/24 Primary Examiner-Robert W. Jenkins Attorney-Silverman & Cass ABSTRACT: A sample container is mounted for rotation in a rack of carrier with a plurality of other containers. The rack has bearings for providing bearing engagement with the containers. Each container has a corrugated outer surface and internal paddles. After reagents have been added to the contents of the containers, a jet of air is directed against the corrugations which act as turbine blades. The containers each rotate in turn as it reaches the station where the nozzle for the jet of air is located, whereby the contents of the containers are thoroughly mixed prior to testing the same. The containers may each be integrally molded or the corrugations may be applied to a conventional container by means of a flexible collar having the corrugations molded thereiin.
PATENTED m1 41971 TEST ADD REAGENTS Inventor SAUL R. GILFORD CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This invention comprises an improvement of the apparatus disclosed in the following copending applications:
Robert I. Emary application for Test Sample Carrier Transport Apparatus, Ser. No. 8l6,360, filed Apr. 15, I969; and
Saul R. Gilford, et al., application for Improvements to Sample Carrier Transport Apparatus, Ser. No. 27,832, filed Apr. 13, 1970.
The assignee of the pending application is the same as the assignee of the instant application.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The automatic transport apparatus disclosed in the abovementioned copending applications utilize sample containers which are held in carriers and indexed relative to a testing station. The containers disclosed are conventional and no provision is made for automatic mixing of the contents thereof in such disclosure.
Automatic processing systems for performing chemical analysis require the addition of reagents at various stages during the analytical process. f great importance following such steps is the uniform mixing of the contents of the containers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The problems which have been described are solved in a simple manner without affecting the basic geometry of the test sample carrier transport apparatus. The cylindrical containers of the apparatus are molded with turbine blades on their exterior and with integral paddles on their interior. The bottom of the container has a stub shaft journal which cooperates with a suitable bearing formed in the bottom of the carrier in which the container is mounted. Lateral support is provided for the container.
Each rack moves relative to a nozzle by means of which a jet of air is directed against the turbine blades. This rotates the containers one at a time at very high speed and thereby mixes the contents.
Modified forms of the invention enable conventional containers to be used by providing a collar having the blades molded thereon, and engaging the collar over the container.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a perspective view of a rack or carrier for sample containers and including several such containers constructed in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing a sample container with turbine blades, and illustrating how it is rotated by a jet of air.
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the sample container of FIG. 2 showing how it is mounted in the carrier, a portion of the container being broken away to show the internal details thereof.
FIG. 4 is a view similar to that of FIG. 3 but showing a modified form of sample container.
FIG. 5 is a view in section of still a further modified form of the invention in which a conventional sample container may be used.
FIG. 6 is an end elevational view of the carrier, showing another form of the invention.
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken generally along the line 7-7 of FIG. 3 and in the indicated direction.
FIG. A is a perspective view of a flexible collar capable of converting a conventional test tube into a sample container for use with the invention.
FIG. 9 a schematic diagram showing the system in which the invention is used.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In FIG. ll there is illustrated a carrier lll) which differs little from those disclosed in the said copending applications except for one modification, which will be described. There is a base 112 having a notch 14 to enable the moving mechanism of the transport apparatus to translate the same. There is a notched plate 16 above the base which cooperates with the testing mechanism as the carrier is stepped from container to container during the testing of the contents of the containers. The containers are shown at 18 with their bottom ends engaging through suitable holes 20 formed in the notched plate I6 and with their upper sides guided by the holes 22 formed on the member 24 mounted on the spacers: 26. The angled member 28 is a binary code identifying device which is described in the second of the above-mentioned copending application.
Each of the containers 118 has externally molded turbine blades 30 fon'ned in its surface. On its interior there are molded integral baffle means in the form of paddles 32. At the bottom end of the container I8 there is a stub shaft journal 34 which preferably comes to a point 3% so that there is a minimum of bearing surface when the container is mounted in the carrier I0.
The carriers have a single modification over those of the copending applications. There is a bearing socket 38 formed in the base for each container I8, this simply being a hole drilled in said base coaxial with the holes 20 and 22. As seen from FIG. 3, when the container 18 is in place, it is supported on the point 36 which engages the bottom of the bearing 38. It is also supported laterally by the sides of the opening 22 so that it is readily capable of rotating.
In order to produce a rotational force, there is a nozzle 40 suitably located to blow a jet of air tangential to the container 18 in the vicinity of the turbine blades. This rotates the container at a very high speed and produces the desired mixing.
Looking at FIG. 9, a schematic view illustrates the general arrangement of an automatic testing device using the invention. The carrier III is shown moving to the right. At one or more prior stations 44 reagents are added to the contents of the container. At a second station 46 the air jet is applied to cause the container to rotate and mix the contents. At a third station 48 the testing takes place. All of this can be done automatically with the invention, using the structures which are disclosed in the copending applications.
Preferably the container I8 is integrally molded from some inert plastic such as polyethylene, with the turbine blades 30, the paddles 32 and the stub shaft 34 all formed at the same time. Such a container is quite economical and can readily be discarded after one use.
Instead of making a special container, it is possible to use a conventional container such as a test tube as shown at 50 and mold a collar 52 of some plastic or elastomeric material with the turbine blades formed therein. The: rounded bottom 54 of the test tube can rotate upon the surface of a socket 56 formed in the base member 12. In FIG. 4 there is shown a simple container 60 with the bottom end identical to that of the container I8, but with a collar 52 mounted thereon.
In FIG. 5 there is illustrated a structure in which the container 70 is a test tube that is adapted to fit into an adapter 72 permanently mounted for rotation on the carrier 10; In other words, there is a receptacle 72 which has the bearing shaft 74 engaging into a journal hole 76 always associated with the carrier. The tube 70 is readily removed.
If desired there may be another nozzle All and a mechanism for operating the noules alternately so that the container will spin first in one direction and then in another.
Although the structures of FIGS. 5 and 6 may not have the internal paddles, it is preferred that there be some form of internal baffle means to break up the contents during rotation.
Variations may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
What is desired to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:
1. A carrier having a plurality of sample containers mounted thereon and capable of being rotated on the carrier, each container having external turbine blade means adapted to be driven by a jet of air to rotate the container on the carrier.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 in which each of the containers has internal baffle means to aid in the mixing of the contents of the container during rotation thereof.
3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 in which each container has the turbine blade means and baffle means integrally molded therewith.
4. The apparatus as claimed in claim I in which each container has a bottom stub journal and there are bearing means on said carrier for receiving the said journals of the containers.
5. The apparatus as claimed in claim I in which the turbine blade means comprise a separate collar secured to each container.
6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said carrier has a plurality of receptacles journaled thereon, each receptacle having the said turbine blade means, and each receptacle having acontainer removably mounted therein whereby rotation of the receptacles will rotate the containers.
7. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said carrier has means for laterally supporting the containers during the rotation thereof.
8. A method of mixing reagents which comprises, adding reagents to a sample container which has turbine blades on the exterior thereof, mounting the container for rotation, and blowing a jet of air against the turbine blades to cause the container to spin on its axis.
9. A sample container carrier having a plurality of sample containers mounted thereon, each container having a plurality of external turbine blades on the exterior surface thereof, baffle means on the interior thereof and a journal on the bottom end thereof, said carrier having a plurality of thrust bearings arranged along the length thereof and a plurality of openings for laterally supporting a container in each of said openings, the thrust bearings being formed in the base of said carrier and being coaxial with the respective openings, the containers being mounted with the journals in the respective thrust bearings and adapted to be spun by air jets directed against said turbine blades.