US 3662919 A
A method of and apparatus for bottom dispensing stacked articles, such as cups or lids, wherein the article stack is supported by fingers having support surfaces engaged with the lowermost article of the stack, the support surfaces projecting into relatively undercut peripheral portions of the article. Subsequent elevation of the stack by manual or mechanical means causes the supporting finger surfaces to retract automatically to permit descent of the stack and withdrawal of the lowermost article. Stack descent effects direct engagement of camming surfaces on the fingers with the articles, causing the supporting surfaces to reengage the next lowermost article and to again support the stack.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1151 3,662,919
Shmerling et al. 14 1 May 16, 1972  METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR 3,034,684 5/1962 Jackson ..221/2s1 BOTTOM DISPENSING TACKED 2,261,880 11/1941 Hope ..221/3o7 ARTICLES HAVING UNDERCUT Primary Examiner-Stanley H.
Attorney-Robert P. Auber, George P. Ziehmer, Leonard R.  Inventors: Zvi Shmerling, Kiron, lsrael;'Robert Lee 0 a K n th H- Murray Merold, Ramsey, NJ.
[ ABSTRACT  Assignee: American Can Company, New York, NY.
A method of and apparatus for bottom dispensing stacked ar-  Bled 1970 ticles, such as cups or lids, wherein the article stack is sup- ] A N 25,868 ported by fingers having support surfaces engaged with the lowermost article of the stack, the support surfaces projecting into relatively undercut peripheral portions of the article. Sub-  U.S. Cl sequent elevation ofthe stack by manual or mechanical means  i i 307 causes the supporting finger surfaces to retract automatically  he do are J to permit descent of the stack and withdrawal of the lowermost article. Stack descent effects direct engagement of camming surfaces on the fingers with the articles, causing the  References cued supporting surfaces to reengage the next lowermost article UNITED STATES p ATENTS and to again support the stack.
2,365,916 12/1944 Terry et al. ..22l/297 X 4 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures Patented May 16, 1972 3,662,919
INVENTORS ZVI SHMERLING BY ROBERT LEE MEROLD ATTCIJRNEY METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR BOTTOM DISPENSING STACKED ARTICLES HAVING UNDERCUT PERIPHERAL PORTIONS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Dispensers providing controlled dispensing of the lowermost article of a stack of said articles, such as rimmed drinking cups, closures, lids, etc. are in widespread use at all levels of industry as well as for consumer use.
It is highly desirable, and especially when associated with high speed machinery, it becomes imperative that the dispensing equipment reliably and positively dispense the lowermost article and separate the same from the stack thereabove, without binding or jamming to cause either failure of the dispensing operation or dual-dispensing of two or more articles.
Commonly, known dispensers have employed spring-loaded stack-supporting dogs which peripherally engage the lowermost article, and which are forced outwardly against spring bias as the lowermost article is drawn therepast. Such devices, however, exert continual pressure on the lid or cup or other article being dispensed, and may by virtue of the spring pressure thereof either bar effective dispensing of the lowermost cup or article or permit dispensing of two such articles.
It is evident that in higher speed operations, such as may be associated with filling machines or similar packaging equipment wherein it is necessary, for example, to dispense cup-like containers singly into a filling line, or dispense lid closures for application onto filled containers, that there be simple, foolproof mechanism to effect positive dispensing of only the lowermost article.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention, therefore, to provide mechanism having an absolute minimum of moving parts which effectively insures dispensing of only the lowermost article of a stack of articles. The stacked articles conventionally have peripherally undercut portions within which are removably interposed pivoted-finger support surfaces, thereby to support the entire stack.
During dispensing, the entire stack is elevated either by manual or mechanical means, thereby relieving the stack weight from the interposed support surfaces, and permitting the fingers to swing by gravity to a position whereat the support surfaces are withdrawn from the locale of the undercut areas of the stacked articles. Thereby, the stack may be lowered and the lowermost article may be readily withdrawn by downward movement past the fingers.
The aforesaid swinging movement also projects camming surfaces of the fingers in the path of the lowermost article, whereby as the same is moved downwardly, the article itself engages these camming surfaces and positively swings the several fingers in the opposite direction to again interpose the supporting surfaces thereof in the undercut area associated with the next lowermost article in the stack, thereby to again support the stack.
The invention thereby accomplishes effective single article bottom-dispensing by utilizing undriven and gravity-actuated members, thereby eliminating the complexity of driven means as well as mechanically actuated components of spring-biased character or the like.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a dispensing apparatus in accordance with this invention, certain portions thereof being shown in phantom for clarity;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken on the line 2-2 ofFIG. l;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary perspective view of a portion of the mounting annulus of a finger pivotally connected thereto; and,
FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 are fragmentary cross-sectional elevational views showing successive sequential stages during the dispensing operation subsequent to the initial position of FIG. 2.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawings, the apparatus of the disclosed embodiment includes a suitable frame including a plate member 10 which isapertured at 11. Beneath member 10 an annulus 12 is mounted as by screws 14 substantially concentrically of opening 11 in plate member 10. The annulus 12 is of greater effective internal diameter than the opening through plate 10, and includes a plurality of inwardly extending bifurcated lugs 16. The bifurcated lugs 16, shown as six in number, are disposed in circumambient relation about the central area defined by opening 11, and serve as mounts for a pivotal connection such as transverse pin 18 between finger 20 and the mounting ring or annulus l4.
It will be seen that fingers 20 are so disposed with respect to their pivotal connection at 18 to lugs 16 whereby the greater portion of the mass of the fingers lies radially outwardly of the pivotal connection and the central stack-receiving area, for a purpose set forth hereinafter.
Fingers 20 each further includes a pair of inwardly projecting surfaces which cooperate with the articles during dispensing thereof. Thus, inwardly projecting tang 22 provides a surface for supporting the stack of articles C, as seen in FIG. 2, while tapered face 24 provides a surface for direct camming engagement with the articles, as seen in FIGS. 5 and 6.
Stop means such as a transverse pin 26 limit gravital swinging movement of fingers 20 about their pivotal connection 18. Thus, as seen in FIG. 4, pin 26 limits counterclockwise swinging movement induced by gravity by virtue of the eccentric mass of finger 20 on pivot 18, while in FIG. 2, stop means 26 limits swinging movement of fingers 20 in clockwise direction under the influence of the weight of a stack of articles.
A stack of articles, which illustratively comprises a plurality of skirted closure lids C, is received by the apparatus for bottom-dispensing thereof. While in FIG. 2 only four articles are shown, it will be appreciated that an initial stack thereof may contain any number of articles as may be desired.
In conventional fashion, the top plate 10 may have extending upwardly therefrom a plurality of standards or guide posts 30, which may be seated within support rim 32 in turn secured to plate 10 by screws 34. Posts 30 suitably loosely guide and retain the vertically extending stack of articles C.
The stacked articles C are commonly provided with relatively undercut peripheral portions, as beneath the depending skirt or flanges F thereof, into which the fingers 20 may project to effect operative relation thereof within the central area defined by mounting plate 10 and annulus 14. Thus, as clearly seen in FIG. 2, the article-supporting surfaces 22 of fingers 20 extend within the undercut area to engage the flange F of the lowermost article C, thereby to support the entire stack thereupon.
As aforementioned, gravital discharge of the article stack by uncontrolled pivoting of fingers 20 is precluded by stop means 26 which limits downward swinging motion of the article support surfaces 22 to the position illustrated in FIG. 2.
In use, the apparatus is provided with article gripping and removal means, illustratively shown as a suction cup S. It will be appreciated that depending upon the particular equipment with which the dispenser is associated, or the particular configuration of a stacked article, any desired removal or grasping means might be employed with the dispensing apparatus of the invention, including even manual removal of the articles.
In use, article dispensing as provided by the unique construction aforedescribed commences upon initial upward movement of the stack in the direction of arrow 36 in FIGS. 2 and 3, thereby to elevate the stack of articles C from the FIG. 2 to the FIG. 4 position. In so doing, the weight of the article stack is transferred to the removal means S and removed from the interposed fingers 20. By virtue of the eccentric pivotal connection thereof, each of the fingers 20 now swings through a limited arc from the FIG. 2 to the FIG. 4 position substantially solely under the influence of gravity as a result of the heavier mass of the fingers 20 outwardly of the pivotal connection 18.
In so doing, camming surface 24 of each finger 20 is brought into inwardly projecting relation with respect to the stack of articles C as seen in' FIG. 4 and the article-supporting surface 22 thereof is fully withdrawn therefrom.
Thereupon, downward movement per arrow 38 (FIGS. 5 and 6) is imparted to the removal means S. As the lowermost article C now clears retracted supporting surface 22 of each finger 20, the article is free for full withdrawal. Upon further downward movement thereof, skirt F of the article directly engages camming surface 24 of finger 20, as clearly seen in FIG. 5, causing each finger to swing in the opposite direction and toward the FIG. 6 position.
In so doing, each article-supporting surface 22 is again positively projected into the undercut area at F associated with each article. 7
Final downward withdrawal movement of the lowermost article C is easily effected as the camming surface 24 thereof swings fully out of the path of the article being removed, and the entire weight of the stack is now taken by the article-supporting surfaces 22 of fingers 20 as the same engage beneath the next lowermost article of the stack C in the FIG. 2 positron.
From the foregoing, it will be noted that the simple nondriven mechanism thus shown is fully positive in operation and absolutely prevents a second article from being inadvertently dispensed with the lowermost article as the latter article directly effects rotation of the stack-supporting surfaces of fingers 20 into engagement with the superposed remaining stack. An upward motion in the direction of arrow 36 is required before another stacked or nested article may be dispensed, whereby accidental discharge of an article is prevented.
In like manner, it will be seen that no lateral pressure or spring-biased squeezing force, whether lateral or axial, is imposed upon or applied to the articles during the dispensing operation. Indeed, the lowermost article encounters virtually no resistance to its ready withdrawal as a result of the ready pivoting of the finger 20 in swinging from the FIG. 4 to the FIG. 6 and thence to the FIG. 2 positions as skirt F engages the inclined camming surfaces.
The particular configuration of the supporting surface 22 and the camming surface 24 of the fingers may be readily varied as required to provide the desired dimensional relationship to insure precise interposition of the tang 20 between adjacent articles.
What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus for bottom dispensing from a stack of articles having relatively undercut peripheral portions when stacked, comprising:
a plurality of individually-operating non-interconnected fingers each having an upper supporting surface and a lower supporting camming surface, said surfaces being for cooperative sequential engagement solely with said article undercut peripheral portions during dispensing;
mounting means for individually mounting each of said fingers in spaced circumambient relation so as to define therewithin a central area for reception therein of a stack of articles, said supporting surfaces thereof being directed inwardly toward said central area,
pivotal connections non-peripherally disposed between said surfaces of said fingers such that the mass of each of said fingers is greater outwardly of said connection in relation to said central area, each connection being for pivotally connecting each of said respective fingers to each said respective mounting means, for adapting said fingers to swing and retract said surfaces from said central area and, when not engaging said articles, to swing under the influence of gravity to their normal position which projects said camming surface into said central area,
stop means affixed to said mounting means for limiting said finger swinging movement as said camming surface is swung into said central'area for engagement with one of said articles, said same stop means also limiting swinging movement in the other direction as said supporting surface is swung into said central area to support said stack,
. and, article removal means engageable with the lowermost article of said stack, but not engageable with said fingers, said removal means being movable initially to lift said article stack and thereafter movable to withdraw said lowermost article downwardly through said fingers.
2. A method of bottom dispensing from a stack of articles having relatively undercut peripheral portions when stacked, comprising the steps of:
supporting the weight of said stack by interposing individual eccentrically pivotally mounted finger members within the undercut portions of the lowermost article, said finger members being circumambiently displaced about said article,
elevating said stack without contacting said finger members thereby terminating said supporting step,
withdrawing said interposed members from proximity to the lowermost article by force of gravity on said finger members,
lowering said stack with said lowering directly effecting simultaneous re-interposing of said members within the undercut portions of the next lowermost article for resupporting of said stack, and
removing the lowermost article from the re-supported stack.
3. An apparatus for bottom dispensing from a stack of articles having relatively undercut peripheral portions when stacked, comprising:
a plurality of individually-operating non-interconnected fingers each having an upper supporting surface and a lower supporting camming surface, said surfaces being for cooperative sequential engagement solely with said articles undercut peripheral portions during dispensing,
mounting means for individually mounting each of said fingers in spaced circumambient relation so as to define therewithin a central area for reception therein of a stack of articles, said supporting surfaces of said fingers being directed inwardly toward said central area,
pivotal connections non-peripherally disposed between said surfaces of said fingers such that the mass of each of said fingers is greater outwardly of said connection in relation to said central area, each connection being for pivotally connecting each of said respective fingers to each said respective mounting means, for adapting said fingers to swing and retract said surfaces from said central area and, when not engaging said articles, to swing under the influence of gravity to their normal position which projects said camming surface into said central area, and,
stop means affixed to said mounting means for limiting said finger swinging movement as said camming surface is swung into said central area for engagement with one of said articles, said same stop means also limiting swinging movement in the other direction as said supporting surface is swunginto said central area to support said stack, said mounting means including an annulus provided with radially inwardly extending bifurcated members having said pivotal connections thereon and said fingers disposed therewithin.
4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said stop means comprises a pin extending transversely of said bifurcated inwardly extending members and above the pivotal connections thereof to said fingers.