US 3672118 A
This apparatus packages a preselected number of like small flat items, such as cards, directly in a series of cartons. Each carton, when loaded, is automatically removed from a loading station and replaced by an empty carton, while cards are supplied to the station without interruption. Cards are delivered successively from a conveyor above the loading station and dropped flatwise, while guided by a cage, to form a stack on a platform that is moved downwardly within the open front of the carton so as to keep the top of the stack at a substantially constant height within the cage. An electronic counter causes the platform to move downward according to the speed at which cards are supplied to the stack. When the counter reaches the preselected number, a knife moves horizontally into the cage to temporarily support the stream of cards while the platform moves rapidly downward to a lower limit position and is then withdrawn from the carton, leaving the stack in the carton. The loaded carton is then automatically advanced from the loading station, while an empty one is being moved into said station. Meanwhile, the platform is withdrawn, raised, and then moved into the open front of the empty carton; whereupon the knife is removed and the empty carton is loaded as above described.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent De Jong et al.
54] CARD PACKAGING APPARATUS  inventors: Egbert D. De Jong, Amstelveen; liens Koch, Amsterdam, both of Netherlands; Kenneth B. Maynard, Belle Mead, NJ.
International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY.
 Filed: Feb. 5, 1971 [211 App]. No.: 112,989
 Foreign Application Priority Data I March 9, 1910 Netherlands ..70o3290  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,150,578 9/1964 Dale et al. ..2l4/6 H X 3,410,052 11/1968 Johnson et al ..53/59 R X June 27, 1972 Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee Attorney-Hanifin and Jancin and Henry E. Otto, .lr.
ABSTRACT This apparatus packages a preselected number of like small flat items, such as cards, directly in a series of cartons. Each carton, when loaded, is automatically removed from a loading station and replaced by an empty carton, while cards are supplied to the station without interruption. Cards are delivered successively from a conveyor above the loading station and dropped flatwise, while guided by a cage, to form a stack on a platform that is moved downwardly within the open front of the carton so as to keep the top of the stack at a substantially constant height within the cage. An electronic counter causes the platform to move downward according to the speed at which cards are supplied to the stack. When the counterreaches the preselected number, a knife moves horizontally into the cage to temporarily support the stream of cards while the platform moves rapidly downward to a lower limit position and is then withdrawn from the carton, leaving the stack in the carton. The loaded carton is then automatically advanced from the loading station, while an empty one is being moved into said station. Meanwhile, the platform is withdrawn, raised, and then moved into the open front of the empty carton; whereupon the knife is removed and the empty carton is loaded as above described.
5 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJUH 27 1912 SHEET 10F 2 INVENTOR EGBERT D. DE JONG HANS KOCH KENNETH B. MAYNARD BY 44 AT ORNE) CARD PACKAGING APPARATUS This invention relates to apparatus for stacking identical sized flat items, such as cards or forms, and relates more particularly to such apparatus wherein a preselected number of such items are automatically loaded in successive preformed containers without interrupting the continuous supply of such items.
BACKGROUND OFTHE INVENTION US. Pat. No. 3,366,253 discloses a stacking apparatus wherein flat articles are delivered in succession from a source to a platform plate that descends intermittently until a predetermined number have been stacked; then the plate descends rapidly in one operation until the plate and stack thereon are deposited on a delivery conveyor. The latter then moves the plate and stack horizontally out of the way, and concurrently advances a new platform plate into position, whence it is elevated adjacent to the source. However, with this apparatus, the feeding of articles from the source is undesirably interrupted from the time the loaded platform plate starts its rapid downward movement until the succeeding unloaded plate is raised adjacent the source. Furthermore, the articles must be removed manually from the delivery conveyor and placed in a container.
To permit uninterrupted feeding of articles, various aproaches have been used. For example, US. Pat. No. 2,884,246 discloses basically two similar platforms that are alternate'ly swingable from different unloading areas into a common loading area. Both platforms move in, down, out and up in complementary phases. However, the items stacked on these platforms likewise must be manually removed from the platforms and loaded into containers. Still other arrangements are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,285,607 and 1,750,392.
In each of these, an operator must be in attendance at certain critical times to assure proper or continued functioning of the apparatus. Where the articles are small, like cards, they are difficult to deposit in large quantities as a single high stack. The stack can fall over readily; or the operator experiences difficulty in handling the items without the stack falling apart.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Applicants have discovered that these difficulties can be overcome and packaging accomplished more reliably and rapidly by providing an apparatus that receives a succession of flat items continuously from a source and stacks a preselected number of them directly into a carton. Then, while a preselected small number are subsequently being stacked on a temporary support, the loaded carton automatically is removed by a carton conveyor which moves an empty carton into position; whereupon the temporary support is withdrawn and the accumulated temporary stack and subsequent items are deposited in the empty carton. A precise number of items is thus packaged in each of a succession of cartons with a minimum of attention on the part of the operator. The carton conveyor can be preloaded with a large number (e.g., 25) cartons and left unattended until the last is being filled; whereupon loaded cartons can be conveniently removed and replaced with empty ones.
Other objects and advantages will become apparent from the following more detailed description of the invention and from the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a packaging apparatus embodying the invention, with parts not relevant to the invention being shown schematically or deleted for clarity and simplicity; and
FIGS. 2 through 6 are schematic elevational views showing the relative positions of the various parts during successive phases of a loading operation, commencing with a carton in partially loading condition.
DESCRIPTION As illustrated in FIG. 1, the apparatus embodying the invention is shown associated with a rotary press. This press may comprise a drier wheel 1 that rotates at constant speed. The wheel has a plurality of uniformly spaced spring clips (not shown) that grip the leading edges of a series of newly printed and cut tabulating cards 2 and convey them to a position below the wheel. The cards are there released by camming open successive clips while the leading edge of the associated card contacts a stop (not shown), as in the well-known Carroll press.
According to the invention, acage 3, open at top and bottom, is disposed just below wheel 1 for receiving the released cards 2 and guiding them so they will descend generally flatwise into that particular one of a series of cartons .4 that is then disposed at a loading station directly below the cage.
The cartons 4 are conveyed intermittently one at a time to the loading station by a suitable conveyor device 5 including a sprocket-driven chain 6 and means (not fully shown) carried thereby and providing a series of uniformly spaced pockets 7 providing a framework into each of which a respective carton 4 is set. Each carton 4, as mounted, is prefolded such that it is open at its top and front side; and a flap 8 that constitutes a single-piece closure for the top and front of the carton is suitably held deflected out of the way of the descending cards by a cam rail 9 adjacent the rear of the cage.
Cards 2 released into cage 3 normally descend onto a platform 10 that normally extends into the open front side of the carton 4 then at the loading station. This platform is cantilever connected to a vertically movable piston rod 11 of a doubleacting pneumatic cylinder 12. Rod 11 projects slidably through a bore in a horizontally extending member 13 that is movable in directions toward and away from the carton under control of a double-acting pneumatic cylinder 14, the housing of which is mounted to a bracket 15. A piston rod 16 of cylinder 14 projects slidably through bracket 15 and is screw threaded or otherwise suitably connected to member 13. To each side of rod 16 are guide rods 17 which are cantilever connected to bracket 15 and project slidably through member 13 to prevent it from pivoting to maintain it in a fixed horizontal position.
The upper ends of two vertically disposed guide rods 18,19 project with sliding fit through a fixed frame 20 and are secured at their intermediate and lowerparts to bracket 15 and a plate 21, respectively. A piston rod 22 of a single-acting pneumatic cylinder 23 is screw-thread connected to plate 21. Thus, when pressure fluid is supplied to the lower end of cylinder 23, it will act through rod 22, plate 21, rods 18, 19 and bracket 15 to move cylinder 14 and member 13 upward, and thus cause member 13 to move platform 10, piston rod 11, and cylinder 12 upward, as will become more apparent from subsequent description.
Secured laterally to and movable vertically with rod 19 is a rack gear 24 which meshes with a pinion 25. The pinion, through the rack and structure 19, 18, 13, 12, operatively drives the plad'orm 10 downward a predetermined distance as each card is deposited on the platform. This is achieved by providing a suitable electronic counter 26, such as of the photo-cell type, for counting the cards released into cage 3; e.g., by providing a pulse each time a card clipped to wheel 1 passes a given point just prior to its release into the cage. Each such pulse activates a magnetic clutch 27 for transmitting power from a continuously rotating member 28 through a reducing gear mechanism 29 and unidirectional single revolution clutch 30 to pinion 25. Hence, if for any reason card supply is interrupted momentarily or over a period of time, downward movement of platform 10 will be correspondingly interrupted. Note that the pulse transmission circuitry includes a delay line or the like to delay the pulse to reflect presence or absence of the card 2 at the time it enters the cage 3, taking into account the speed of wheel 1 and distance the counter 26 is upstream of the cage 3.
Adjacent cage 3 is a bifurcated temporary support knife 31 which, as illustrated, is movable horizontally translafionally inward through the side of the cage by a double-acting cylinder 32. Piston rod 33 of cylinder 32 is connected by a cross bar 34 to the separated blades of knife 31. These blades are slidable in one leg of a fixed U-shaped guide channel 35; and guide rods 36, that are secured to bar 34 and disposed at each side of rod 33, are slidable in the other leg of the channel to assure that the knife blades will be maintained horizontal during movement relative to cage 3.
In operation, for sake of illustration, assume initially that 2,000 cards are to be packaged in each carton 4; and that while the loaded carton is being removed from the loading station by conveyor and an empty carton moved into the station, knife 31 is to temporarily support the next 150 cards as they are successively fed. Assume further that between 150 and 2,000 cards are stacked in the carton at the loading station.
Under the assumed conditions, the various parts will be in the respective positions in which they are shown schematically in FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings. More specifically, knife 31 will be withdrawn from cage 3; and platform will be inserted in canon 4 and supporting the stack and will descend incrementally under control of the counter 26, clutch 30, pinion 25, rack 24, member 13 and rod, as each card enters the cage, such that the top of the card stack will always be maintained within the cage.
When the step pulse from counter 26 signifies that 2,000 cards have been supplied to the cage and carton, a sequence of control operations is initiated, primarily by electromagnetically controlled relays or solenoids (not shown) which control supply and release of pressure fluid to the various cylinders. Thus, the 2,000-count pulse triggers a solenoid to supply pressure fluid to one end of cylinder 32 and vent the other end, operatively to cause its piston rod 33 to move knife 31 into stack cage 3 to temporarily support the following cards. Concurrently, the 2,000-count pulse also triggers a solenoid to concurrently supply pressure fluid to the top and vent the bottom of cylinder 12 to cause rod 11 and hence platform 10 to move down very rapidly. The top of the card stack will now be lowered below cage 3 to a point about level with the top of the carton; and the bottom of the stack will be retained behind a stop 37 (FIG. 1) constituting part of the framework of pocket 7. When rod 11 and hence the stack and platform 10 reach their lower-most positions, the piston of cylinder 12 will strike a microswitch 38. At this instant, the various parts will be in the respective positions in which they are shown in FIG. 3.
Actuation of microswitch 38 will cause a solenoid (not shown) to supply pressure fluid to one end of cylinder 14 and vent the other end for retracting the assemblage 16, 13, 12, 11 and thereby withdrawing platform 10 horizontally from under the stack in the carton. Note that the platform 10 is bifurcated to straddle the stop 37. When the platform is fully withdrawn, all parts will be positioned as shown in FIG. 4, it being noted that member 13 in FIG. 4 is nearer the reader than in FIG. 3. When platform 10 and rod 16 are fully retracted, the piston of cylinder 14 will strike a microswitch 39 causing chain 6 of carton conveyor device 5 to move clockwise a preselected amount necessary to remove the fully loaded carton 4 from the loading station and advance the succeeding empty carton 4 into position under cage 3. For sake of illustration, movement of chain 6 may be effected by providing a magnetic clutch (not shown) that upon closure of switch 39 remains energized for a prescribed time period to transmit power to said chain via a shaft 40 and drive sprocket 41.
Meanwhile, a solenoid will respond to striking of microswitch 39 to supply pressure fluid to the bottom and vent the top of cylinder 23. This will cause piston rod 22, through elements 21, 18, 19, 15, to move rack gear 24 up as the pinion 25 rotates freely in its non-driving direction. The parts will now be in the respective positions in which they are shown in FIG. 5, and in which platform 10 is still withdrawn from under cage 3. Note that shortly before piston rod 22 of cylinder 23 reaches the upper end of its stroke, its piston will actuate a microswitch (not shown) for causing the aforementioned solenoid to release pressure fluid from the lower end of said cylinder to dampen and brake the upward movement of the assemblage 22, 21, 18, 19, 15, 16, 13, 10.
As the intermittent movement of the carton-advancing chain 6 of device 5 is completed, a microswitch is actuated to cause the aforementioned solenoid to supply pressure fluid to the front end and vent the rear end of cylinder 14. This operatively causes platform 10 to be advanced into the open front side of the empty carton just below cage 3. At the end of its stroke, the piston of cylinder 14 strikes a microswitch (not shown) for causing a solenoid to supply pressure fluid to the lower end of cylinder 12 and vent the upper end of said cylinder to raise the platform 10 up into cage 3 to the position in which it is shown in FIG. 6.
When counter 26 senses that cards have been delivered to cage 3 and stacked on knife 31, the counter delivers a pulse. This pulse triggers the aforementioned solenoid to supply pressure fluid to the left end and vent the right end of cylinder 32 for operatively withdrawing knife 31 from cage 3. A stop (not shown) depends from cage 3 and is comparable to stop 37 of the pocket 7. This stop restrains the stack as the blades of knife 31 are withdrawn in straddling relation to the stop. The accumulated stack of 150 cards then drops onto platform 10; whereupon the various parts will be in the respective positions in which they are shown in FIG. 6. As cards 2 are supplied to cage 3, platform 10 will descend progressively as shown in FIG. 2 until the counter 26 senses that a total of 2,000 cards have been stacked on the platfonn and initiates another operating cycle of the type just described.
It will be apparent that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit, scope and teaching of the present invention. Accordingly, the apparatus herein disclosed is to be considered merely as illustrative, and the scope of the invention is to be limited only as specified in the claims.
What is claimed is:
1. Apparatus for packaging, directly within each of a succession of cartons or the like, a preselected number of similar flat items without interruption of supply of such items from a source, said apparatus comprising a cage open at top and bottom for guiding such items during their generally flatwise descent from the source,
means for moving empty cartons incrementally one at a time to a loading position directly below the cage, each carton preformed with its top and front side open,
a knife normally retracted from the cage,
a platform normally extending into the open front side of the carton for normally supporting the items,
means for counting the items being released into the cage,
control means including means responsive to said counting means for moving the platform downward and initiating successive outward, upward and then inward movements relative to the carton, said control means normally being operative to cause the platform to move successively downward within the carton relatively slowly to maintain the top of the stack of items thereon within the cage until said preselected number is counted, then rapidly downward to the bottom of the carton to lower the entire stack into the carton, then outwardly from the carton and stack, then upwardly adjacent the bottom of the cage, and finally inwardly into the open front side of the succeeding empty carton meantime moved into loading position, and other means responsive to said counting means and operative to move said knife laterally into the cage when said preselected number is counted to temporarily support items subsequently supplied from the source, and operative to retract said knife from the cage when it supports a preselected lower number of items to allow such items and succeeding items to drop and stack on the platform,
said carton moving means being operative upon movement of the platform outwardly of the loaded carton to increment an empty carton into loading position while items accumulate on the knife.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said conn'ol means comprises a continuously driven shaft and a clutching mechanism controlled by count pulses from said counting means for incrementally lowering said latform at a rate corresponding to that at which items 4. Apparatus accordingtoclaim 3, wherein are supplied from the source during the period while said at least some of said motors at the ends of their strokes count is between said preselected lower number and mechanically actuate respective switches which initiate preselected number, operation of the next motor in the operational sequence. whereby descent of the platform will be interrupted auto- PP accordingw Claim wherein matically if and while there is a break in the continuous 531d platform 15 forked, and supply of items from the source, said carton conveying means comprises a chain drive and a 3. Apparatus according to claim 2, wherein Series y spaced carton retaining PQ Q eaCh said control means further comprises a plurality of fluid w t mcludms at least 9 upwardly i s qp pressure motors, one to effect the rapid descent of the 10 whlch 'f' f' by the of the P Q rem!" platform, a second to efi'ect the outward and inward the stack wit-hm the canon as the platform w'thdrawn movements of the platform, and a third to eifect the upfmm under the stack ward movement of the platform.