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Publication numberUS3688465 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 5, 1972
Filing dateAug 31, 1970
Priority dateAug 31, 1970
Publication numberUS 3688465 A, US 3688465A, US-A-3688465, US3688465 A, US3688465A
InventorsBenitez Ramon, Oneto Augusto Luis
Original AssigneeOneto Augusto Luis, Benitez Ramon
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatic machinery for manufacturing moist towelette packets
US 3688465 A
Abstract
An automated machine for manufacturing packets of moist hand towelettes wherein sheet material forming the outer foil wrappers of the packets is intermittently fed through the machine to intersect towelette material being fed in a direction transversely thereof, with insertion of the towelettes to within the sheet material forming the packets occuring at the intersection of the feed directions. The machine operates intermittently by suspending the sheet material drive to permit performance of machine operations, including dual-stage heat sealing of the sheet material to form the packets and simultaneous introduction of towelettes and a moisturizing liquid, while the sheet material is stationary. Power is delivered to the machine through a main drive shaft which has mounted thereon a series of cam organized to control the timing sequence of certain functions of the machine by actuation of appropriate cam follower mechanisms. The intermittent feeding of the wrapper material is accomplished through a transmission mechanism which intermittently transmits power from the main drive shaft to an auxiliary shaft to operate the feed rollers driving the sheet material. The auxiliary shaft receives about half the rotational motion of the main shaft and an electric eye scanner mechanism, controlling a clutch interposed between the feed rollers and the main shaft, maintains the precision of the sheet material feed control. The wrapper continuously is fed from a normally continuous operating feed roller which is synchronized to the intermittent machine operation by a dancer roll mechanism which temporarily terminates the continuous feed when it is in excess of machine requirements. The wrapper material is converted from a generally planar horizontal continuous strip, into a vertically folded arrangement to partially form the packets by a triangularly-shaped plate and a pair of upright posts downstream thereof which constrict the material to form a bottom fold with its edges uppermost and spaced proximate each other. Stuffing bars are reciprocally vertically moved in a particular sequence for stuffing the towelettes into the partially formed packets. A liquid feed mechanism including conduits extending through the stuffing bars injects moisturizing liquid into the towelette packet simultaneously with stuffing therein of the towelette material. Heat sealing of the sheet material occurs in two stages, with a first heat sealing operation partially forming the packets into which towelettes are stuffed and with a subsequent heat sealing operation completing formation of the sealed packets.
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Unite States Benitez et a1.

[54] AUTOMATIC MACHINERY FOR MANUFACTURING MOIST TOWELETTE PACKETS [72] Inventors: Ramon Benltez, 61 Hemlock Road, Little Falls, NJ. 07424; Augusto Luis Oneto, 11 Dennard Road, Hauppage, NY. 11787 22 Filed: Aug. 31, 1970 21 Appl.No.: 68,128

52 US. or. ..53/64, 53/120, 53/183, 53/239 51 Int. Cl. ..B65b 57/04 [58] Field of Search ..53/28, 36, 117, 21,183, 120, 53/384, 64, 239; 226/10, 14, 34, 37

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,500,611 3/ 1 970 Field ..53/1 83 3,439,469 4/1969 Van Mil ..53/ 120 X 3,481,099 12/ 1969 Clancy ..53/120 X 2,744,491 5/1956 Vergobbi ..226/37 X 3,169,895 2/1965 Sohn ..226/37 X Primary Examiner-Theron E. Condon Assistant Examiner-Eugene F. Desmond Attorney-Hubbell, Cohen and Stiefel [57] ABSTRACT 51 Sept. 5, 1972 formance of machine operations, including dual-stage heat sealing of the sheet material to form the packets and simultaneous introduction of towelettes and a moisturizing liquid, while the sheet material is stationary. Power is delivered to the machine through a main drive shaft which has mounted thereon a series of cam organized to control the timing sequence of certain functions of the machine by actuation of appropriate cam follower mechanisms. The intermittent feeding of the wrapper material is accomplished through a transmission mechanism which intermittently transmits power from the main drive shaft to an auxiliary shaft to operate the feed rollers driving the sheet material. The auxiliary shaft receives about half the rotational motion of the main shaft and an electric eye scanner mechanism, controlling a clutch interposed between the feed rollers and the main shaft, maintains the precision of the sheet material feed control. The wrapper continuously is fed from a normally continuous operating feed roller which is synchronized to the intermittent machine operation by a dancer roll mechanism which temporarily terminates the continuous feed when it is in excess of machine requirements. The wrapper material is converted from a generally planar horizontal continuous strip, into a vertically folded arrangement to partially form the packets by a t' l-h d la d rof t sts d iv n s i r a i tl i feo w lCTI COTIS i'i ct thd iiiz t eri l to form a bottom fold with its edges uppermost and spaced proximate each other. Stuffing bars are reciprocally vertically moved in a particular sequence for stuffing the towelettes into the partially formed packets. A liquid feed mechanism including conduits extending through the stuffing bars injects moisturizing liquid into the towelette packet simultaneously with stufiing therein of the towelette material. Heat sealing of the sheet material occurs in two stages, with a first heat sealing operation partially forming the packets into which towelettes are stuffed and with a subsequent heat sealing operation completing forma tion of the sealed packets.

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SHEET 8 BF 8 RoTATIoN AUXILIARY DRIvE SHAFT 326 I STATIONARY RoTATIoN AUXILIARY DRIVEN SHAFT 342 &FEED ROLLERS 568|46 sTATIoNARY ENGAGED CLUTCH 34s ENGAGED DIsENGAGED ENGAGED BRAKE 344 DISENGAGED TOWEL sTuFFING RAIsED BARS I24 LOWERED MoIsTuRIzING D'VERTED DIVERTED LIQUID FEED FEEDING TOWEL FEED FEEDING ROLLS 98100 i sTATIoNARY cuTTING TOWEL CUTTING r KNIFE IIo RA'SED I RA ED sIDEa BOTTOM HEAT SEALERS CLO I 5254 & TOP HEAT OPEN SED SEALERS I42.I44 l I. v48 LIGHT l 5! \-L I SOURCE I (388 I W FIG. II. I )l/ E PHOTO CELL 392 I L 3 CLUTCH/ RELAY BRAKE 352 INVENTORS RAMON BENITEZ POWER Y SO .ONETO. SUPPLY I I ATTORNEYS.

AUTOMATIC MACHINERY FOR MANUFACTURING MOIST TOWELETTE PACKETS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to production machinery, and more particularly to a machine for automatically and continuously producing small sealed packets of moisturized towelettes.

2. Discussion of the Prior Art Moisturized towelette packets are in wide use and due to their size and conveyability, they are particularly commodius in places where facilities for washing are unavailable. Automated production equipment for making such towelette packets is presently available and various machines of this type are known wherein finished, sealed packets may be continuously produced. This equipment operates to insert small, folded paper towelettes and moisturizing fluid into a sheet foil packet which is then sealed. However, prior art machines although generally successful in their operation involve certain deficiencies and shortcomings, and it will be found that improvements can be effected in both the overall operational scheme of such machines and in individual elements of the machine components.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly, the present invention may be described as a machine for manufacturing sealed packets of moist towelettes comprising means for feeding wrapper sheet material through the machine, means for. feeding towelette material to the machine, means including heat sealing means for forming the sheet material into discrete sealed packets, combined means including a moisturizing fluid source for simultaneously stuffing the towelettes and feeding the moisturizing fluid to between the sheet material forming the packets, and control means for feeding the sheet material with intermittent motion including stationary periods and for periodically acutuating the heat sealing means and the combined means for operation during the stationary periods.

By a second aspect of the present invention, the towelettes are propelled to between the sheet material forming the packets by acuminated means which are reciprocally operated in synchronization with the intermittent feed of the sheet material. Moisturizing fluid is fed to within the sheet material forming the packets simultaneously with insertion therein of the towelettes through conduit means defined relative to the acuminated means, with flow through said conduit means being controlled to occur only during that portion of the acuminated means reciprocal motion when the towelettes are being propelled to between the sheet material forming the packets.

By a more detailed aspect of the present invention, the wrapper sheet material is supplied to the machine from a source from which sheet material may be drawn with normally continuous operation. When the amount of material being normally continuously drawn from the source exceeds by a predetermined limit the amount of material being intermittently fed through the machine, means sensing slack in the sheet material operate to temporarily terminate drawing of said sheet material from said source, until the slack indicates that the material excess is less than said predetermined limit, whereupon drawing of said material from said source of supply is restored.

The machine operates to partially form the sealed packets prior to insertion of the towelettes and moisturizing fluid. The apparatus whereby this partial formation is accomplished includes means for applying pressure to a continuous strip of the sheet material at a point located generally centrally of the strip, and upright means located downstream from said pressure applying means and closely spaced on either side of said strip to urge the edges thereof together into a configuration comprising a bottom fold with the strip edges uppermost and spaced apart proximate each other. The pressure applying means may comprise a triangularly shaped plate having an apex end directed downstream of the sheet material fee, and the upright means may comprise a pair of fixed upright posts located proximate said apex end.

Heat sealing of the sheet material to form the packets occurs in two stages. The first stage, which occurs subsequent to folding of the sheet material stripand is also involved with partial formation of the packets, comprises application of a pair of heat seals extending transversely to the sheet material edges and located a distance apart equivalent to the width of a packet. lnsertion of the towelettes and the moisturizing fluid occurs subsequently to said partial packet formation, with subsequent heat sealing along the sheet material edges operating to complete formation of the sealed packets.

The machine comprises a main drive shaft having cams mounted thereon and organized to control the timing sequence of certain machine functions, including heat sealing and reciprocal operation of the stuffing means. An auxiliary drive shaft connected to drive the sheet material feeding means is connected through power transmission means to receive power from the main drive shaft. The power transmission means operate to intermittently transmit power from the main shaft to the auxiliary drive shaft thereby enabling the intermittent feed of the sheet material. Clutch means interposed between the sheet material fed means and the main drive shaft are controlled by means sensing the position of the sheet material in the machine and generating a signal applied to disengage the clutch means thereby to more precisely determine commencement of the stationary periods of the intermittent sheet material feed. The sensing means include an electric eye scanner mechanism positioned to sense indicia located in discrete spaced patterns along the sheet material.

In the operation of the machine of the present invention, the heat seals partially forming the sealed packets,

the simultaneous insertion into the partially formed packets of the towelettes and of the moisturizing fluid, and the application of the heat seals completely forming the sealed packets, all occur simultaneously during the stationary periods of the sheet material intermittent feed upon different locations, respectively, along the strip of sheet material being fed through the machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be better understood by reference to the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1A is a fragmented plan view of the upstream end of the machine of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a fragmented plan view of the downstream end of the machine;

FIG. 2A is a fragmented elevational view of the upstream end of the machine;

FIG. 2B is a fragmented elevational view of the downstream end of the machine;

FIG. 3 is an elevational end view taken from the downstream end of the machine and particularly showing an overrunning clutch mechanism for intermittently transmitting rotary motion from a main drive shaft to an auxiliary drive shaft;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side elevational view showing in greater detail a portion of the feed control mechanism of the machine;

FIG. 5 is a sectional elevation taken along the line 5-5 ofFIG.1B;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged sectional elevation of a portion of the mechanism shown in FIG. 5 depicting in greater detail the insertion of the towelette material into the packet formed from the wrapper material;

FIG. 7 is a fragmented elevational view taken from the rear of the machine showing a cam-andmicroswitch arrangement which operates to control certain functions of the machine;

FIG. 8 is a side elevation of a finished towelette packet produced by the machine of the present inventron;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken along the line 9-9 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a partial sectional front elevation taken along the line 10-10 FIG. l-b showing the stuffing bars of the present invention;

FIG. I I is a schematic diagram depicting a portion of the system for controlling the feed of the wrapper sheet material.

FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram depicting the interrelationships between the more significant operations performed by the equipment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring first in detail to FIGS. 8 and 9 of the drawings, there is shown a towelette packet unit of the type to be continuously and automatically produced by the apparatus of the present invention. The towelette packet unit is formed of an outer envelope of folded moisture-proof sheet material 12 which may comprise a metallic composition and which is readily commer cially available. The packet unit depicted in FIGS. 8 and 9 is formed with horizontal heat seals 4, these being an upper horizontal heat seal 4a and a lower horizontal heat seal 4b, and with vertical heat seals 2, there being three such vertical heat seals 2a, 2b and 2c. The upper horizontal heat seal 4a is formed along end portions of the sheet material 12 contiguous a pair of edges 12b, which although shown as a single edge in FIG. 9 will be understood, as more fully hereinafter described, to have been formed from a pair of such adjacent edges 12b which have been heat sealed together. The bottom heat seal 4b is formed along a bottom fold 12a. As shown in FIG. 9, the sides of the sheet material 12 when folded upon themselves will form a packet6 in which there is contained a moisturized towelette 82. Thetowelette 82 is inserted together with a moisturizing liquid into the packet 6 by the apparatus of the present comprising two packets 6, as best-seen in FIG. 8, with each packet 6 being bounded on its sides by vertical heat seals 2, there being three such vertical heat seals, e.g., 2a, 2b and 2c for each double packet unit. As shown in FIG. 8, a series of control indicia 51 is also provided inthe form of a pluralityof discrete darlgened areas on one side of the sheet material 12, for a purpose to be more fully explained hereinafter.

Referring now particularly to FIGS. 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B, the preffered embodiment of the machine of the present invention, as depicted therein, includes a roll 10 of a foil-like sheet material 12, which forms the envelope or outer wrapper of the towelette package, supported upon a shaft 14 rotatably mounted at both its ends upon hearing means 16 and 18. The shaft 14 is freely and very loosely rotatable upon the bearings 16 and 18, and in order to avoid excessive uncontrolled rotation of the roll 10, which would result in feeding out a greater quantity of sheet material 12 than would be required for the operation of the machine, there is provided a belt 20, which may be formed of canvas or other heavy cloth material, and which is mounted by its upper end to the machine frame by a hook 22. At the opposite or bottom end of the belt 22 there is provided a weight 22 which maintains the belt 20 in tension over and around the roll 10. As a result of the frictional engagement between the belt 20 and the roll 10, loose rotation of the pull 10 is avoided and it becomes necessary to apply a slight pull, developed by the feed rollers of the machine, thereby enabling a controlled feeding of the sheet material 12 from the roll 10.

As best seen in FIG. 4, the sheet material 12 is drawn from the roll 10 by engagement between a pair of primary feed rollers 24 and 25. The roller 24 is power driven while the roller 25 is in idler roller, with both rollers having ends mounted within bearings (not shown) supported upon the machine frame. From the primary feed rollers 24 and 25, the sheet material 12 is wound beneath a dancer roll 26 mounted at its ends for support upon a lever mechanism 28 whose opposite end is rotatably mounted to a pivotable connection 30. The sheet material 12 is wound from beneath the dancer roll 26 over and around an intermediate idler roller 32, which is also freely rotatable and mounted at its ends upon bearings (not shown) supported upon the machine frame.

From the roller 32, the sheet material 12 is drawn downstream of the machine The material which extends from between the primary feed roller 24, 25 to roller 32 is under some tension and, accordingly, it acts to support or elevate the dancer roll 26. Inasmuch as the lever 28 is freely pivotable about the connection 30, the dancer roll 26 will move up and down depending upon the tautness of the sheet material 12.

Located beneath the dancer roll 26 is a switch 34 which is actuated by the dancer roll 26 to terminate power to the roller 24 When the rate of feed of the sheet material 12 from the roll 10 is greater than the rate at which the machine is processing the material at its downstream stations, the switch 34 will be momentarily actuated by the dancer roll 26 to intermittently stop the application of power to the driven roller 24, thereby permitting slack in the sheet material 12 to be absorbed by the downstream stations of the machine.

The sheet material 12 is drawn from over the roller 32 to beneath a triangular plate 36 and thence to between a pair of stationary upright posts 38 and 40. The triangular plate 36 is mounted upon a support arrangement 42 which is generally formed as part of the machine frame, while the upright posts 38 and 40 are mounted in support means 43 generally formed as part of the machine frame. As the sheet material 12 is pulled from beneath the triangular plate 36 to between the upright posts 38 and 40, it is converted from a flat, generally horizontal strip of material into a folded configuration with the sides of the sheet material vertically directed to form a bottom fold 12a and with a pair of edges 12b uppermost and spaced apart proximate each other.

The triangular plate 36 comprises an apex end 360 and, as the sheet material 12 is drawn thereunder, it applies a downward force at about the center of the strip of sheet material 12 in order to urge formation of the bottom fold 12a. The posts 38 and 40 comprise constrictive means on opposite sides of the sheet material 12 to maintain the edges 12b uppermost and proximate each other.

As the sheet material 12 is drawn through the posts 38 and 40 to downstream of the machine, the edges 12b are passed to opposite sides of a guide bar 44 mounted at its end to a support rod 46 extending to the machine frame. The guide bar 44 extends for a distance along the length of the machine and terminates at one end 44b thereby providing guidance as the sheet material 12 travels along the machine stations.

Directly downstream from the posts 38 and 40, there is provided an electric eye scanner mechanism 48, including a control mechanism 50, which senses the control indicia 51 provided upon the sheet material 12, for a machine control purpose to be more fully explained hereinafter.

Downstream from the scanner 48, the upper edges 12b are maintained separated by the guide bar 44 whose lower edge 440 extends a short distance below the edges 12b. As the folded sheet material 12 con-.

tinues to move downstream from the scanner 48 it encounters a side and bottom heat sealing station at which point a pair of side heat sealers 52 and 54 apply a U-shaped heat seal to the sheet material 12. The U- shaped heat seal constitutes the bottom heat seal 4b as well as the vertical side heat seals 2 which define the vertical sides of a packet 6. It will be apparent that each of the side heat sealers 52 and 54 comprise, respectively, a pair of U-shaped heat sealing surfaces labeled 52a, 52b and 54a and 54b between which the portions of the sheet material 12 to be sealed are pressed. The heat sealers 52, 54 are actuated in a manner to be more fully described hereinafter, to come together and apart in a cyclical fashion thereby to periodically apply the side and bottom heat seals 2 and 4b. By appropriately timing the actuation of the side heat sealers 52, 54 in registration with the movement of the sheet material 12 therebetween, there will be produced a series of equally spaced heat seals 2 between which the packets 6 are formed with generally equivalent widths.

In the operation of the side heat sealers 52, 54 it will be appreciated that the vertical heat seals 2 will extend along the sheet material 12 only as high as the lower edge 44a of the horizontal guide bar 44. It will be apparent that this occurs because the guide bar 44 is formed of metal and separates the two sides of the sheet material 12 along the very upper edges thereof. Therefore, to the extent that the guide bar 44 holds the upper edges of the sheet material 12 apart no heat seal will occur. Accordingly, as the sheet material moves downstream from the vertical heat sealers 52, 54 it will have formed therein a series of vertical heat seals which do not extend to the upper edges 12b. Since the upper horizontal heat seals 4a will not have been formed at this time the sheet material 12 will comprise a series of packets 6 open at the top along the edges 12b where the heat seals 4a are eventually to be formed.

As the sheet material 12 passes downstream of the heat sealers 52, 54 the upper edges 12b continue to be held separated by the guide bar 44 and the vertically sealed sheet material 12 is then passed between a pair of upstream feed rollers 56 and 58, with the feed roller 56 having rotative power applied thereto from the machine power source in a manner to be hereinafter more fully described. The roller 58 is freely rotatable and is closely spaced with the roller 56 so that the sheet material 12 is firmly pressed therebetween. The rollers 56 and 58 comprise relatively soft outer surfaces, formed from a material such as rubber or the like, which will enhance frictional engagement with the sheet material 12. Thus, as the roller 56 is power driven to rotate, the sheet material 12 will be engaged between the rollers 56 and 58 and will be pulled in a downstream direction. A handle 60 is provided to enable manual rotation of the feed rollers 56 should this be required, for example, in a situation where jamming of the machine might occur.

The towelette material 82 which is to be inserted into the packets 6 is fed from a pair of side rolls 72 and 74, each mounted, respectively, upon shafts 76 and 77 freely rotatably supported at their ends upon bearings 78. A pair of straps 80 firmly fixed at their upper ends by hooks 81 extend over the side rolls 72 and 74 to prevent overfeed of the towelette material 82 by free excessive rotation thereof. The straps 80 contain weights not shown) at their lower ends and operate to prevent overfeed in much the same manner as the belt 20 which overhangs the roll 10.

As best seen in FIG. 5, the towelette material 82 is fed through an appropriate mechanism 84, wherein it is folded with multiple pleats and formed into thin, multilayered strips which are brought up to extend through a pair of knurled rollers 86 and 88 which feed the towelette strips 82 to the towelette stuffing station where they are cut to size and stuffed into the packets 6. The folding mechanism 84 forms no part of the present invention and comprises a conventional mechanism known to those skilled in the art which is suitable for performing the intended function. Accordingly, the folding mechanism 84 will not be described in detail herein, it being assumed that this mechanism can be readily provided to deliver to the towelette stuffing station two strips of towelette material 82 for cutting and stuffing into the packet 6 in a manner to be more fully described hereinafter.

The towelette cutting and stuffing mechanisms are shown in greater detail in FIGS. and 6, and reference should now be made to these figures as well as to FIGS. 1A and B and FIGS. 2A and B.

As seen from the drawings, particularly FIG. 5 thereof, after the towelette material has been folded in the mechanism 84, a pair of multi-layered strips are fed between the rollers 86 and 88. The roller 86 is mounted upon a lever 90 which is pivoted about a connection 92 and biased by a spring 94 into abutment with the roller 88 in a manner whereby the two rollers press the two strips of towelette material 82 therebetween. The roller 88 is power driven to feed the two strips of towelette material 82 by drawing the folded strips upwardly from the folding mechanism 84.

The folded strips of towelette material 82 pass over the power driven roller 88 and extend to beneath a guideplate 96 and then to between a pair of feed rollers 98 and 100.

It will be noted that the two strips of towelette material 82 are fed to the towelette stuffing station in a direction which is perpendicular to the direction in which the sheet material 12 is fed. Accordingly, as viewed in FIGS. 1A and 18, when the two strips of towelette material 82 advance to a point at which their direction of travel intersects the direction of travel of sheet material 12, the sheet material 12 will be traveling in a left-to-right direction while the towelette material strips 82 will be traveling from the bottom to the top of the drawing. As will be more fully explained hereinafter, the towelette strips 82 are passed to above the edges 12b of the folded sheet material 12 and by the operation which occurs at the towelette stuffing station the towelette strips 82 are pressed in a downward direction to between the edges 12b and into the packets 6.

The feed rollers 98 is freely rotatably mounted upon a frame member 102 which has a pivotal connection 104 at the center thereof and a spring 106 at the end thereof opposite the end upon which the roller 98 is mounted. The spring 106 biases the frame member 102 to drive the roller 98 into abutment with the roller 100 which is power driven to feed towelette material 82 to the stuffing station. A handle 108 enables manual pivoting of the frame 102 to release the roller 98 from engagement with the power roller 100.

After the two strips of towelette material 82 pass between the rollers 98 and 100, they are brought beneath a knife 110 having a cutting edge 112 operative to be actuated with a vertical motion whereby the strips of towelette material 82, as they pass over a supporting block 1 14, may be cut to a desired length.

The cutting knife 110 is fixed to a shaft 116 which has a rocker arm 118 fixedly connected at one end thereof. The rocker arm 118 includes a pivotal connection 120 to which there is attached a cam follower shaft 122 which causes rotation of the rocker arm 118 about the shaft 116. The shaft 122 moves in a generally vertical direction and drives the rocker arm 118 to cause rotation of shaft 1 16, thereby actuating the knife 1 in an arcuate path to effect cutting of the towelette strips 82.

Accordingly, it will be understood that as the towelette strips 82 feed past the knife 110 beneath the cutting edge 112 for a distance equal to the strip length desired for each towelette which is to be stuffed into a packet 6, the knife is synchronized to effect a downward movement after each desired length has passed thereunder thereby to cut the strips 82 to the length desired for stufiing into the packets 6. This method of operation will be best understood by reference to FIG. 5 which most clearly shows the knife 1 10 with the towelette strips 82 passing thereunder.

Subsequent to passage beneath the knife 110, the cut strips of towelette material 82 will come to rest beneath a pair of stufi'mg bars 124, configured with a generally acuminated form, which are actuated in a vertical path to stuff the towelette material 82 into the packets 6 formed between the folded sheet material 12. As best shown in FIG. 6, the cut towelette material 82 will come to rest upon a-platform 126 which has an opening therein through which the towelettes 82 and the acuminated stuffing bars 124 may pass. It should be noted that at this point, the paths of the towelette material 82 and of the sheet material 12 will intersect thereby enabling the stuffing operation, which will now be explained in greater detail.

After the sheet material 12 has passed downstream of the feed rollers 56 and 58, it reaches the termination 44b of the guide bar 44. Immediately downstream of the guide bar 44, the sheet material 12 passes about the opposite sides of a pair of vertically extending plates 128 and located beneath the opening in the platform 126 and extending for the length of the stuffing station. As will be apparent from FIG. 6, the plates 128 and 130 maintain the two sides of the sheet material 12 in a separated condition and provide guide means through which the acuminated stuffing bars 124 may pass to insert the towelettes 82 into the packets 6. A pair of stricture members 132 and 134, which are spring loaded by means of torsional springs 136 and 138, press the sides of the sheet material 12 against the plates 128 and 130 and thereby tend to hold them in position during the stuffing operation when the stuffing bar 124 inserts the towelettes 82 into the packet 6. The stricture members 132, 134 are formed as elongated generally channel-shaped members which are shown in cross-section in FIG. 6 and which are pivotable about their central axis 133 and 135. The springs 136 and 138 bias members 132 and 134 out of compressive engagement with the sheet material 12, and a pair of elongated rods 137 and 139, which are mounted in a manner to be described hereinafter, operate to periodically compress the members 132 and 134 during the time that a stuffing operation is occurring and to release the members 132 and 134 when sheet material 12 is being longitudinally fed through the machine.

The stufling bars 124 are mounted upon a frame assembly 244 for periodic vertical motion in performance of the stuffing operation. Additionally, the stuffing bars 124 include means whereby a moisturizing liquid may be fed therethrough into the packets 6 at the same time that the towelettes 82 are being inserted. As will be seen in FIG. 5, hose connections 140 extend to the stuffing bars 124 and feed liquid thereto in a controlled manner through a pair of check valves 280. As the sheet material 12 passes beneath the towelette stuffing station, each of the packets 6 will have simultaneously inserted therein a towelette and a measured quantity of moisturizing liquid. Insertion of the towelettes 82 oocurs by downward travel of the stuffing bars 124. Insertion of the moisturizing liquid occurs by the controlled feed which is directed through check valves 280 and through internal conduits 282, which extend internally through the stuffing bars 124 and terminate at bottom orifices 284. Liquid flow is controlled to occur through orifices 284 only during the time that the stuffing bars 124 are within the packets 6 during the stuffing operatron.

Each time that feed of the sheet material 12 is intermittently suspended, a pair of packets 6 will come to rest in alignment respectively beneath the pair of acuminated stuffing bars 124, each of which will operate to stuff one folded towelette 82 and moisturizing fluid into one of the packets 6. Accordingly, two packets 6 will be filled with each stuffing operation.

As the sheet material 12 passes downstream of the towelette stuffing station, it will continue wit its upper edges 12b open until passage through the top heat sealing station at which point the upper horizontal heat seals 4a are effected. For this purpose, the top heat sealing station is comprised of a pair of heat sealers 142 and 144, each comprising a mating horizontal heat sealing surface 142a and 144a, which are cyclically moved together and apart to form the horizontal top heat seals 4a in a manner similar to formation of the side and bottom heat seals 2 and 4b.

With effectuation of the top heat seals 4a, formation of the towelette package shown in FIG. 8 will be complete, and there follows a cutting and stacking operation whereby a predetermined number of packets 6 are cut from a continuous strip of such packets which is emitted from the top heat sealing station.

Located downstream from the top heat sealing station are a pair of downstream feed rollers 146 and 148 with the feed roller 146 being a power driven roller. The feed rollers 146 and 148 have, respectively, endless belts 150 and 152 extending thereabout, and about a pair of idler rollers 154 and 156 in a manner whereby as the feed roller 146 is driven to rotate, it will compress the towelette packet strip passing between it and the feed roller 148 with endless belts 150 and 152 serving as longitudinal stabilizing members between which the strip of completed towelette packets may pass from the top heat sealing station to the cutting station. The endless belts 150 and 152 facilitate engagement of the strip of finished packets 6, which will be uneven in thickness due to the intermittent heat seal areas 2 spaced between packets 6 containing towelettes 82.

The cutting station has positioned thereat a pair of sharp knife edges 158 and 160 between which the sealed towelette packets pass in a continuous strip 12c. The knife edge 158 is mounted upon a pivot shaft 162 which has afiixed thereto a rocker arm 164 having one 10 cut, may be cut from the continuous strip 12c as it passes between the knife edges 158 and 160.

After being cut by the knife edges 158 and 160, the packets 6 are engaged by a pair of suction cups and 172, which are actuated by a pivot-and-lever mechanism 174, by pressing of said out towelette packets against a support plate 176 for subsequent removal from the outcoming stream of towelette packets. The cut packets are then stacked in a desired position by actuation of the mechanism 174 of suction cups 170 and 172 which are operated to deposit the cut packets at a desired location.

Power for driving the various components of the ap paratus of the present invention is delivered from a power source 200, which may be an electric motor or other appropriate motive device. The power source 200 includes a power shaft 202 with a pulley 204 from which power is delivered to a pulley 208 through a power transmission belt 206 to drive the main drive shaft 210 of the machine of the invention. The main drive shaft 210 extends almost for the entire length of the machine, and itis a very basic and essential component due to the fact that most of the mechanical power for driving and controlling the various operating elements of the machine is provided through the main drive shaft 210.

As previously indicated the sheet material 12 is fed from a roll 10 by apair of primary feed rollers comprising a driven roller 24 and an idler roller 25. As best shown in FIG. 4, the driven roller 24 receives power from the main drive shaft 210 through bevel gears 220 and 222 connected to a belt-and-pulley mechanism including pulley 212, power transmission belt 214, and pulley 216 which is attached to the drive shaft 218 of driven roller 24. As the roller 24 turns by virtue of the power delivered thereto through the shaft 218, sheet material 12 is pulled off the roll 10 and fed into the apparatus of the invention.

Connected between the bevel gear 222 and the pulley 212 is an electric clutch 213 including leads 213a and 213b. The switch 34 is connected through leads 34a, 34b and 213a, and 213b, to the electric clutch 213 to control power transmission therethrough. Each time that excessive slack develops in the sheet material 12 extending beneath the dancer roll 26, the switch 34 is activated in the manner previously described to disengage the clutch 213 thereby terminating power transmission to the primary feed roller 24. As this slack is taken up by the downstream stations of the machine, the dancer roll 26 is lifted from the switch 34 whereupon reengagement of the clutch 213 occurs to reestablish sheet material feed from the roll 10.

The power shaft 210 is equipped with a pair of cams 224 and 226 which engage a pair of cam followers 228 and 230 to cause pivoting of a pair of rocker arms 232 and 234 which drive the side heat sealers 52 and 54. The cams which rotate with the drive shaft 210 are shaped and designed'in a known manner to engage the cam followers 228 and 230 and effect the compressing action of the side heat sealers 52 and 54 to form the side and bottom heat seals 2 and 4b in an appropriately timed sequence spacing the heat seals 2 an equal distance apart thereby producing packets 6 of equal width.

The operation of the knife is sequentially controlled by a cam 240 mounted upon the main shaft 210 to drive a cam follower 242 which actuates the shaft 122. The cam 240 is shaped to effect downward cutting motion of the knife 10 in the manner previously described with the indicated timed sequence.

The frame assembly 244 mounting the stuffing bars 124 is supported for vertical motion within a support assembly 246. A cam follower shaft 248 is pivotably connected at 250 to a pivot arm 252 which comprises a pivotable connection 254 at its opposite end. A spring 256 biases the pivot arm 252 in a counterclockwise direction about the pivotable connection 254 thereby insuring abutment of a cam follower258 upop a earn 259 which is mounted for rotation upon the main shaft 210. As the main shaft 210 rotates with the cam 259, the cam follower 258 rides thereupon in a manner whereby the cam follower shaft 248 is propelled to impart vertical motion to the frame assembly 244 and the stuffing bars 124. Accordingly, it will be seen that this camming mechanism enables insertion of the towelettes 82 into the packets 6 in the timed sequence previously described.

The feed roller 100, which operates to provide towelettes material 82 to the stuffing station, receives power from the main drive shaft 210 through a belt 260 connected between the roller 100 and a pulley 262 which is mounted to rotate with the main shaft 210.

The frame member 102, upon which the idler feed roller 98 is mounted, is driven to pivot about the pivotal connection 104 by a linkage 264 which interconnects the frame member 102 with a cam follower shaft 266 pivotably connected at 268 to a pivot arm 2701 having a spring 272 attached thereto. A second pivotable connection 274 permits spring 272 to bias the pivot arm 270 in a clockwise direction about the pivotable connection 274 thereby permitting a cam follower 276 to be actuated by a cam 278 mounted upon the main drive shaft 210. The towelette idler feed roller 98 will be lifted and disengaged from abutment with the towelette drive roller 100 in a manner and in a timed sequence determined by the shape of the cam 278. Thus, when it is desired to cease feeding of the towelette 82 into the stuffing station the cam follower shaft 266 will raise the idler roller 98 by rotation of the frame member 102 about pivotal connection 104. Continued rotation of the cam 278 will effect lowering of the cam follower shaft 266 by action of the spring 272 thereby reestablishing and maintaining the abutting engagement between the towelette feed rollers 98 and 100 to once again enable towelettes 82 to be fed to the stuffing station.

As best seen in F103. 10, the stuffing bars 124, mounted to depend from a pair of valves 280 having hoses 140 attached to the upper ends thereof, have formed therein the internal conduits 282 which extend the entire length of the stuffing bars 124 and which terminate at the bottom orifices 284 through which the moisturizing liquid flows. Moisturizing liquid which is fed into the packets 6 with the towelettes 82 is provided simultaneously with the insertion by the stuffing bars 124 of the towelettes 82 into the packet 6 by effecting liquid flow through the hose 140, the valve members 280, the internal conduits 282 and the bottom orifices 284 at the same time that the stuffing bars 124 are positioned within the packets 6 during insertion of the towelette 82. Feeding of moisturizing fluid is achieved by pump means 286 which are driven through an articulated shaft 288 arranged at its bottom end to be actuated by an eccentric mechanism 290 driven by a pulley 292. The pulley 292 receives power through a belt 294 from a drive pulley 296 connected to the main drive shaft 210 in a manner whereby the pump 286 is powered to deliver moisturizing fluid from a fluid reservoir not shown) through a hose 298 into a fluid control mechanism 300.

The fluid control mechanism 300 is of a type commercially available and operates to deliver fluid from the hose 298 to the hose 140. In the operation of the fluid control mechanism 300, an electrical signal is applied thereto in a manner to be more fully described hereinafter, to achieve fluid flow from hose 298 to hose only during a predetermined period of time while the stuffing bars 124 are within the packets 6. At all other times, the fluid control mechanism 300 operates to divert fluid flowing thereto from the fluid reservoir back to the fluid reservoir through a hose 302. Thus, the control mechanism 300 will normally continually recycle fluid back to the reservoir until actuated to direct fluid into hoses 140. As a result, the pump means 286 may be operated continuously by power received from the drive shaft 210 to pump fluid into the hose 298 without occurrence of undesired flow through the stuffing bars 124 during undesired intervals.

The top heat sealers 142 and 144 are actuated in a manner similar to the side heat sealers 52 and 54 by rocker arms 304 and 306 which have cam followers 308 and 310 for engagement upon cams 312 and 314 in a manner whereby rotation of the main drive shaft 210 having the cams 312 and 314 mounted thereon will determine the time and duration of actuation of the top heat sealers 142 and 144. Thus, by properly shaping the cams 312 and 314 in a known manner, the heat sealers 142 and 144 may be brought and held together to apply the top heat seals 4a at and during a desired period of time.

Accordingly, as previously described, there will result at a point immediately downstream of the top heat sealers 142 and 144 a completed towelette package as shown in FIG. 8 which will be fed between the endless belts and 152 driven by the downstream power feed roller 146.

The top heat sealers 142 and 144 have attached thereto, respectively, the elongated rods 137 and 139 which operate to compress the stricture members 132 and 134 against the sheet material 12 at the stuffing station. The rods 137 and 139 are, therefore, operated from the same cams 312 and 314 as the heat sealers 142 and 144, and will compress the sheet material during the same period of time that the top heat seals 4a are being applied downstream of the stuffing operation. The cutting knives 158 and 160 are driven as previously described through the cam follower shaft 168 by a camandfollower arrangement 316 in a conventional manner. Similarly, the suction cups 170 and 172 are also driven in a conventional manner, through the articulated mechanism 174 and a cam follower shaft 318 by a camandfollower arrangement 320.

The upstream feed roller 56 and the downstream feed roller 146 both receive power from the main shaft 210 through an auxiliary driven shaft 342 connected thereto, respectively, through a pair of bevel gear mechanisms 322 and 324. The manner whereby power is transmitted from the main drive shaft 210 may best be understood by reference to FIGS. 2B and 3 of the drawings. As shown, the main drive shaft 210 has mounted at the right end thereof an eccentric roller 328 which is spaced a distance away from the center of rotation of the shaft 210 thereby to be driven in a circular arc concentric with the shaft 210. The eccentric roller 328 is mounted within a bearing slot 330 formed within a rocker arm 332 which is mounted for rotation about a pivotal connection 334. An articulated shaft 336 is pivotably mounted at both its ends between the rocker arm 332 and a crank arm 338 which is attached to an overrunning clutch mechanism 340. The overrunning clutch mechanism 340 transmits power to the auxiliary driven shaft 342 which is connected through a brake 344 and a clutch 346 to the auxiliary drive shaft 326.

The main drive shaft 210 rotates continuously thereby driving the eccentric roller 328 in a circular path to engage the bearing slot 330 in a manner whereby the rocker arm 332 is reciprocatively rotated both clockwise and counterclockwise about the pivotal connection 334. As the rocker arm 332 moves clockwise, as viewed in FIG. 3, the articulated shaft 336 will drive the crank arm 338 in a clockwise direction about the auxiliary shaft 326. Conversely, when the rocker arm 332 moves counterclockwise, the crank arm 338 will also move counterclockwise about the auxiliary shaft 326. The overrunning clutch mechanism 340 is designed to transmit power to the auxiliary drive shaft 326 only during counterclockwise rotation of the crank arm 338. Thus, when the crank arm 338 is rotating in a clockwise direction about the auxiliary drive shaft 326, no power is delivered and the shaft 326 does not rotate. Therefore, it will be seen that the shaft 326 can rotate only in a counterclockwise direction and that this rotation occurs intermittently due to the operation of the overrunning clutch 340. Furthermore, it should be understood that as a result of the operation of the overrunning clutch 340, only half of the rotating power of the main shaft 210 is transmitted to the auxiliary drive shaft 326, which rotates intermittently while the main shaft 210 rotates continuously.

In addition to the overrunning clutch 340, control of the transmission of power between the main shaft 210 and the feed rollers 56 and 146 is augmented by operation of a brake 344 and a clutch 346. These elements, constructed in a known manner, are operated to regulate the amount of rotative power that is transmitted from the auxiliary drive shaft 326 to the auxiliary driven shaft 342.

Referring now to FIG. 7, there are shown four microswitches 350, 352, 354 and 356. The microswitches 350-356 are mounted in the lower left hand corner, as viewed in FIG. 2B, of a control panel 360 which is positioned behind the apparatus of the invention as shown in FIG. 2B. A cam shaft 352 receives rotative power from the main shaft 210 through a belt and pulley arrangement 364 to rotate four carns 366, 368, 370 and 327. Four cam followers 376, 378, 380 and 382 are actuated, respectively, by the cams 366-372 to operate, respectively, the microswitches 350-356. It will be apparent that by rotation of the shaft 362 the microswitches 350-356 will be actuated between open and closed" conditions depending upon the shape and orientation of the cams 366472.

The microswitches 350, 35 2, 354 and 356 are each adapted to control in a timed sequence a different particular function of the machine.

Microsw itch 350 is operated in a timed manner to apply an appropriate signal to engage the brake 344 when the sheet material 12 is held stationary and is not being moved downstream in the operation of the machine. The brake 344, when applied, operates to hold stationary and prevent rotation of the auxiliary driven shaft 342, and the timed sequence whereby microswitch 350 applies brake 344 is synchronized with other pertinent machine operations.

The microswitch 352 operates in conjunction with the electric eye scanner 48 to control the operation of the brake 344 and the clutch 346. These elements function to provide greater precision in the control of the intermittent feed of the sheet material 12 through the machine, in a manner to be more fully described, by selective engagement of the brake 344 and clutch 346.

The microswitch 354 operates in conjunction with the machine stop button (not shown) to insure that when the stop button is actuated, cessation of machine power supply does not occur at an inappropriate point in the cycle of the machine operation. The cam 370 is shaped such that the machine will continue operating with power continuing to be applied through the microswitch 354 until a predetermined point in the operating cycle is reached, whereupon the microswitch 354 will open at a point determined by the shape of cam 370 to terminate the power supply.

The microswitch 356 operates to control the flow of moisturizing liquid I through the fluid control mechanism 300 which will 'divert fluid flowing therethrough either back to its source of supply or, at an appropriate time in the cycle of machine operation, into the hoses for feeding into the towelette packets 6. The cam 372 is so shaped and configured that each time during the cycle that the stuffing bars 124 are in an appropriate position within a packet 6 there will occur actuation of the microswitch 355 delivering a signal to the fluid control mechanism 300 which enables diversion of the fluid into the hoses 140 for a predetermined period of time during which the packets 6 may be filled with moisturizing fluid through the stuffing bars 1240f course, as the stuffing bars 124 complete the stuffing operation and are elevated out of the packet 6, the microswitch 356 is activated by the cam 372 to signal the fluid control mechanism 300 to once again divert fluid back to its source instead of into hoses 140.

The specific manner whereby the microswitch 352 operates in conjunction with other elements of the machine to effect intermittent feed of the sheet material 12 will be best understood by reference to the schematic diagram of FIG. 11. As previously stated, the sheet material 12 has printed thereon control indicia 51 which are operatively moved past the scanner 48 to control the machine feed. Each time that the sheet material 12 is stopped, the machine during this interval performs the functions of heat sealing and of stuffing the towelette material 82 into packets 6. It will be apparent that the precision with which feed of the sheet material 12 is accomplished will affect the results achieved. For example, the point at which the side heat sealers 52 and 54 are brought together will determine the width of the packets 6. Thus, if the heat sealers 52 and 54 are not brought together with some degree of precision relative to the length of sheet material 12 which is fed therebetween during feeding intervals, there will result nonuniformity in the widths of the packets 6.

The control indicia 51 is spaced along the sheet material 12 in correspondence with each of the points upon where a heat seal 2 is to be formed. Accordingly, control of side heat seal spacing may be accomplished through the electric eye scanner 48 by sensing the indicia S1. The microswitch 352 operates to control operation of the brake 344 and clutch 346 by a signal received from scanner 48 to control with adequate precision the intermittent stopping and holding of the sheet material 12.

The scanner 48 includes a light source 386 and a photocell 388 which are arranged for sensing by the photocell 388 of the reflection from the sheet material 12 of the light emitted by source 386. The light source 386 is aligned with the areas upon the sheet material 12 where the control indicia 51 are to appear. Each time that a control indicia 51 passes the point at which light from the light source 386 impinges the sheet material 12, the photocell 388 will sense a difference in the reflected light. The photocell 388 receives power through the microswitch 352 from a power supply 390. The cam 368 is configured to control the microswitch 352 through the cam follower 378 in a manner whereby delivery of power to the photocell 388 is cut off during specified periods of time. At all other times, the microswitch 352 enables the application of power to the photocell 388.

In the operation of the heat sealers 52 and 54, two vertical heat seals 2 are applied each time that the feed is interrupted. Since the control indicia 51 are spaced apart a distance equal to the width of one packet 6 in order to provide flexibility as to the relative spacings involved, it will be apparent that feed need be interrupted only upon sensing by the photocell 388 of every second control indicia 51. This is accomplished by the earn 368 which operates the microswitch 352 to permit application of power to the photocell 388 only during an interval coincident with passage of every other control indicia 51. Thus, two control indicia 51 must pass the scanner 48 in order for the photocell 388 to be activated to generate one signal indicating sensing of a control indicia 51.

The photocell 388 is connected to deliver an actuating signal to a relay 393 which operates the clutch 344 and brake 346. The relay 393 is of a commonly-available type biased in both an on" and an off condition to operate both the brake 344 and the clutch 346. Thus, when in its normal position, the relay 393 will maintain the clutch in the on or engaged condition and the brake 346 in the off or disengaged condition. Each time that the relay 393 receives an actuating signal from the photocell 388 it will operate to engage the brake 344 and to disengage the clutch 346 thereby stopping the operation of the feed rollers 56 and 146 for a period of time sufficient to allow the appropriate machine operations to be performed.

It should be understood that the top heat sealers 142 and 144 operate in synchronization with the side heat sealers 52 and 54. Each time that the side heat sealers 52 and 54 are brought together, the top heat sealers 142 and 144 are also brought together for an equivalent period of time. It will be apparent that the relative timing of each of the operations of the machine of the present invention are synchronized and related to the rotation of the main drive shaft 210. Accordingly, each of the operations which occur can be correlated as to their sequence of occurrence with the angular position of the main drive shaft 210. This correlation is depicted in FIG. 12 based upon a single revolution of the main shaft 210 as indicated by the designation at the top of FIG. 12 showing angular positions from 0 to 360.

The first line graph shown in FIG. 12 depicts the operation of the auxiliary drive shaft 326 which receives power from the main drive shaft through the overrunning clutch mechanism 340. As shown, the auxiliary drive shaft 326 is rotated for only half the angular rotation of the main drive shaft, but it fully receives 180 of the rotation of main shaft 210.

The auxiliary driven shaft 342 which receives power from the auxiliary drive shaft 326 through the clutch 346 will be powered for rotation for approximately of the angular rotation of the main shaft 210, or approximately 10 less than the auxiliary drive shaft 326. This will be better understood by reference to the line graph for the clutch 346 which shows the clutch as becoming disengaged after approximately 170 of rotation by the main shaft 210.

The increased precision afforded by utilization of the electric eye scanner 48 and the clutch 346 will be better appreciated from the graph of FIG. 12 showing operation of the feed rollers 56 and 146. As previously pointed out, the electric eye scanner 48 generates a signal which determines the precise point at which the clutch 346 becomes disengaged to cease transmission of power to the feed rollers 56 and 146. Without the operation of clutch 346, the starting and stopping of the feed of the sheet material 12 through the machine would be dependent for precision solely upon the operation of the overrunning clutch mechanism 340. Although it is possible to effect adjustment of the overrunning clutch mechanism 340 to determine starting and stopping of the feed of the sheet material 12, this would involve a strictly mechanical adjustability and would introduce unacceptable imprecision in the operation of the machine. By utilization of the electric eye scanner 48 in combination with the clutch 346, the point at which material feed is cut off can be more precisely determined and controlled.

It will be noted that the clutch 346 remains disengaged for only a short duration and then becomes reengaged during the latter portion of the rotation of the main shafi 210. So long as the light source 386 impinges an indicia 51, the photocell 388 will continue to generate a signal disengaging clutch 344. As depicted in the line graph FIG. 12, the clutch 346 becomes reengaged at approximately 200 of shaft 210 rotation due to the fact that microswitch 352 will cut off power to the photocell 388 at this point as determined by cam 368. Reengagement of the clutch 346 at this point will have no effect upon the operation of feed rollers 56 and 146 due to the fact that the auxiliary drive shaft 326 is receiving no power from the main shaft 210 as a result of the operation of the overrunning clutch 340. Accordingly, the clutch 346 may be maintained in the engaged condition with no power being transmitted to the feed rollers 56 and 146 until 360 of main shaft 210 rotation has occurred, whereupon the overrunning clutch 340 once again establishes transmission of power from the main shaft 210 to the auxiliary drive shaft 326 which will drive the auxiliary driven shaft 342 through the engaged clutch 346 to recommence feed of sheet material 12 through the machine.

Since the precision with which sheet material 12 feed is reestablished need not be of the same degree required for stopping feed, reliance upon operation of the overrunning clutch 340 to determine the point at which feed is reestablished will produce acceptable results.

The operation of the brake 344 will be better understood by reference to the line graph of FIG. 12 relating thereto which shows the brake 344 as becoming engaged at the same point at which the clutch 346 becomes disengaged. This occurs at approximately 170 of the rotation of shaft 210. This aspect of the operation of the brake 344 occurs as a result of the actuation of the relay 393 which receives a signal from the photocell 388 to simultaneously disengage clutch 346 and engage brake 344. However, although the clutch 346 is subsequently reengaged at approximately 200 rotation of main shaft 210, the brake 344 remains engaged and does not become disengaged by the triggering of relay 393 due to the fact that the microswitch 350 operating through the cam 366 maintains the brake in the engaged condition during this period of machine operation. The cam 366 is so shaped that it effects maintenance of brake 344 engagement during the time that the auxiliary drive shaft 326 is stationary and not receiving power from the main shaft 210. In this fashion, any slippage which might occur in the feed rollers 56 and 146 is avoided. Upon termination of 360 of the rotation of the main shaft 210, whereupon the auxiliary drive shaft 326 becomes reactivated, the microswitch 350 is operated due to the shape of cam 366 to effect disengagement of the brake 344. Therefore it will be seen that the disengagement of brake 344 which would otherwise have occured at approximately 200 rotation of the main shaft 210 through operation of the scanner mechanism 48, is delayed by the operation of the microswitch 350 until a latter point, i.e. 360 in the rotation of the main shaft 210.

The towel stuffing bars 124 operate in the sequence depicted in FIG. 12 as a result of the shape of the cam 259 whereby the stuffing bars 124 are lowered to effect the stuffing operation at a point subsequent to disengagement of the clutch 346. The stuffing bars 124 are maintained in their lowered position only during a period of time when the auxiliary driven shaft 342 is stationary and the feed rollers 56 and 146 are not receiving power. Prior to reengagement of the feed rollers 56 and 146, the stuffing bars 124 are raised as shown in FIG. 12.

The line graph relating to feed of the moisturizing liquid through the stuffing bars 124 will indicate that the microswitch 356 which determines the operation of the fluid control mechanism 300 will synchronize the feed of liquid into the packets 6 during a period of time when the stuffing bars 124 are in their lowered position. Accordingly, it will be seen from FIG. 12 that the liquid feed is diverted by the fluid control mechanism 300 to be returned to its source until a point subsequent to the lowering of stuffing bars 124. Thereupon, feeding of the liquid through the hoses 140 is established and maintained until a period of time prior to the raising of the stuffing bars 124, whereupon the moisturizing fluid is once again diverted away from hoses 140 and back to the fluid source.

The check valves 280, which are conventional in their structure and operation, operate to insure that fluid which is contained within the conduits 282 does not continue to flow for an undue period of time subsequent to receipt of the signal from the microswitch 356 to terminate liquid flow into the packet 6. The check valves 280 close upon termination of back pressure in the hoses 1411 thereby preventing continuing flow of liquid contained in the lines downstream thereof subsequent to the occurrence of the flow-terminating signal.

The operation of the towelette feed rolls Y98 and which is controlled by the actuation of cam follower 276 is depicted in the line graph of FIG. 12 to indicate that, in general, the towelette feed rolls 98 and 100 will feed towelette material 82 during the time that the sheet material 12 is in motion through the machine, and will terminate said feed during the period of time when sheet material is stationary and stuffing is occuring. The cam 278 is shaped and configured such that the idler roller 98 will be lowered into abutment with the power roller 100 to feed towelette material 82 commencing at approximately 10 of the rotation of the main shaft 210. Feeding continues until approximately 150 rotation, whereupon the cam 278 will lift the idler roll 98 thereby terminating abutment of the rollers so that the towelette material 82 will remain stationary throughout the latter half of main shaft 210 rotation.

The towelette cutting knife is raised during most of the time that the machine is operating and there occurs one lowering of the knife 110 to effect a cutting operation for each 360 rotation of the main shaft 210. As shown in the line graph on FIG. 12, this cutting operation occurs at approximately midway in the 360 rotation of the main shaft 210 and is accomplished immediately subsequent to termination of the feeding of the towelette material 82.

The last line graph shown on FIG. 12 depicts the operation of both the side heat sealers 52 and 54 and the top heat sealers 142 and 144. As shown, the heat seals are applied during the time that the heat sealers are in the closed position which occurs over the latter half of main shaft 210 rotation during the time that the auxiliary driven shaft 342 is stationary, with the feed rollers 56, 146 and the sheet material 12 also in the stationary position.

From the line graphs of FIG. 12 it will be clear that the more significant functions of the machine of the present invention are interrelated in timed sequences, with control being dependant primarily upon the main shaft 210 and the cams which are organized and mounted thereon, as well as upon the microswitches 350, 354 and 356. Additionally, it will be seen that each of the individual functions of the machine are related to the status of the sheet material 12 in that performance of a particular function which is more expeditiously achieved with the sheet material 12 in a stationary position is enhanced by the intermittent mode of machine operation.

Although in the foregoing there has been described a specific preferred embodiment of the present invention, it should be understood that modifications thereof within the knowledge of one skilled in the art are possible and that such modifications are to be considered as within the scope and purview of the invention.

What is claimed is:

l. A machine for manufacturing sealed packets of moist towelettes comprising means for feeding wrapper sheet material through said machine, means for feeding towelette material to said machine, means including heat sealing means for forming said sheet material into discrete sealed packets, combined means including a moisturizing fluid source for simultaneously stuffing said towelette material and feeding said moisturizing fluid to between said sheet material forming said packets, and common drive means for driving said wrapper sheet feeding means, said towelette feeding means, said sealed packet forming means and said combined means, said combining means comprising means for stuffing said towelettes to between said sheet material forming said packets and fluid flow directing means including first conduit means defined relative to said stuffing means for injecting said moisturizing fluid to between said packet forming sheet material, said fluid source including fluid reservoir means and pump means for continuously supplying said fluid to a second conduit means, said pump means being continuously driven by said common drive means, said reservoir hav ing a third return conduit means in communication therewith, fluid flow control means including diverter valve means in communication with said second conduit means and said third conduit means for receiving fluid from said pump means and being actuated in synchronization with said operation of said stuffing means for directing said fluid from said second conduit means to said first conduit means only between commencement and termination of said stuffing operation and for diverting said fluid flow back to said reservoir means through said third conduit means at all other times, and control means operatively associated with said common drive means for feeding such sheet material with intermittent motion including stationary periods and for periodically actuating said heat sealing means and said combined means for operation during said stationary periods.

2. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said towelette material is fed in a direction transversely to the direction of feed of said wrapper sheet material.

3. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said wrapper sheet material feeding means comprise a source of sheet material, means drawing said sheet material from said source with normally continuous operation for supplying said machine, and means located downstream of said drawing means sensing slack in said sheet material to temporarily terminate operation of said drawing means when the amount of sheet material being supplied therefrom exceeds by a predetermined limit the requirements of said machine, and to restore operation of said drawing means when said excess is less than said predetermined limit.

4. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said sheet material is fed to said packet forming means as a continuous, generally planar elongated strip, and wherein said packet forming means comprise means abutting said strip for applying a centrally located force thereto and upright means located downstream from said abutting means closely spaced on either side of said sheet material strip to urge the edges of said strip together into a folded configuration.

5. A machine according to claim 4 wherein said abutting means comprise a triangularly shaped plate having an apex end directed downstream of said sheet material feed.

6. A machine according to claim 5 wherein said upright means comprise a pair of fixed upright posts located proximate said apex end.

7. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said control means include means actuating said stuffing means for intermittent vertical motion thereof in synchronism with said intermittent sheet material motion whereby said stuffing means are operated to stuff said towelettes to between said packet forming sheet material during said stationary periods of said sheet material.

8. A machine according to claim 1 including check valve means located in flow communication between said diverter valve means and said first conduit means for preventing flow of fluid downstream from said check valve means by closure thereof to eliminate back pressure therein when said diverter valve means are actuated to divert fluid from said first conduit means.

9. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said stuffing means comprise a generally acuminated form with said conduit means extending internally thereof and terminating at exit orifice means defined at the surface of said stuffing means, said machine comprising towelette support means defining an opening therethrough through which said stufiing means may pass, means for feeding said sheet material relative to said towelette support means in said folded configuration having its sides vertically directed with the sheet material edges uppermost and spaced apart in alignment with said opening, and means for feeding towelettes to said towelette support means to a position relative to said opening whereby said towelettes are stuffed through said spaced edges to between said sheet material sides by movement of said stuffing means through said towelette support means opening.

10. A machine according to claim 9 comprising guide means located beneath said towelette support means opening and positioned to direct said sheet material to be fed thereabout with said uppermost edges on opposite sides thereof, said guide means also being arranged to direct therebetween said stuffing means and said towelettes to within said packet forming sheet material sides.

11. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said heat sealing means are provided at a first and a second heat sealing station, and comprising a towelette stuffing station at which said towelette stuffing occurs, said first heat sealing station being provided upstream of said towelette stufiing station, said second heating sealing station being provided downstream of said towelette stuffing station, said first heat sealing means operating to apply to said sheet material a pair of spaced vertical heat seals, and said second heat sealing means operating concurrently with said first heat sealing means to apply to said sheet material a horizontal heat seal extending along the uppermost edges thereof between said vertical heat seals.

12. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said common drive means comprises a power source, a main drive shaft connected to receive rotative power from said power source, an auxiliary drive shaft, means connecting said sheet material feed means to receive power from said auxiliary drive shaft, and power transmission means connected between said main drive shaft and said auxiliary drive shaft to intermittently transmit power therebetween.

13. A machine according to claim 12 wherein said main drive shaft is continuously rotated with said auxiliary drive shaft being intermittently rotated.

14. A machine according to claim 12 wherein said power transmission means comprise means eccentrically mounted relative to said main shaft to rotate therewith, crank means engaging said eccentric means to be reciprocally driven thereby, and means interposed between said crank means and said auxiliary shaft for transmitting power therebetween in one direction only of said crank means reciprocal motion.

15. A machine according to claim 14 wherein said interposed means is an overrunning clutch.

16. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said control means include means sensing the position of said sheet material within said machine and generating a signal applied to effect operation of said sheet material feed means for determining commencement of said stationary periods.

17. A machine according to claim 16 wherein said sensing means comprise an electric eye scanner mechanism and wherein said sheet material comprises indicia located for movement past said electric eye scanner mechanism in a position to be sensed thereby.

18. A machine according to claim 17 wherein said indicia comprise a plurality of discrete marks spaced along said sheet material, said machine comprising switch means operative to activate and deactivate said scanner and cam means actuating said switch means to maintain said scanner deactivated during passage thereby of every second one of said marks whereby said scanner operates to enable commencement of said stationary periods upon sensing of every other mark passing thereby.

19. A machine according to claim 18 wherein said marks are spaced apart a distance equivalent to one packet width, and wherein said heat sealing means effect during each stationary period a pair of heat seals spaced apart one packet width.

20. A machine according to claim 12 comprising cam means mounted to receive rotative power from said main shaft for controlling operation of both said heat sealing means to apply heat seals forming said packets, and said combined means to effect stufiing of said towelette material, said cam means having a configuration whereby said heat sealing and said towelette stuffing occur during said stationary periods.

21. A machine according to claim 20 comprising knife means for cutting said towelette material, said carn means being arranged to control operation of said knife means and said towelette feeding means and having a configuration whereby towelettes of a predetermined size are cut by said knife means and fed by said towelette feeding means to a position for stuffing to between said sheet material forming said packets.

22. A machine according to claim 12 comprising clutch means connected between said sheet material feed means and said main drive shaft, means sensing the position of said sheet material in said machine generating a signal representative thereof, and means applying said representative signal to said clutch means to effect disengagement thereof in response to a predetermined position.

23. In a machine for manufacturing moist towelettes sealed in packets formed of sheet material the combination comprising:

means for locating towelettes relative to said sheet material; acuminated means reciprocally mounted to propel said towelettes from said relative location to between said sheet material forming said packets;

conduit means defined relative to said acuminated means for supplying moisturizing fluid to said packets; and

means for controlling flow of said moisturizing fluid between a source thereof and said conduit means for effecting said flow simultaneously with said propelling of said towelettes by said acuminated means to between said sheet material, said flow controlling means including diverter valve means for directing fluid flow through said conduit means to within said sheet material forming said packets only during said propelling of said towelettes by said acuminated means and for diverting fluid flow therefrom at all other times, and means responsive to the reciprocal position of said acuminated means for actuating said diverter valve means between a first condition wherein fluid flow is directed to said conduit means and a second condition wherein said flow is diverted therefrom, said actuating means when in said second condition operating to return said fluid flow to its source, said fluid flow being continuously supplied at all times during the operation of the machine.

24. The combination according to claim 23 comprising means for reciprocally operating said acuminated means in a particular sequence, said operating means including first cam means shaped to effect said acuminated means reciprocal sequence; said actuating means comprising switch means operating in synchronism with said reciprocating acuminated means for controlling said diverter valve means to direct fluid into said conduit means only during a predetermined portion of said sequence of acuminated means reciprocal operation, and second cam means operating in correlation with said first cam means shaped to control operation of said switch means.

25. A combination according to claim 23 including check valve means located in flow communication between said conduit means and said diverter valve means operated in conjunction with said diverter valve means to terminate back pressure in said conduit means thereby to terminate fluid flow downstream of said check valve means remaining in said conduit

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3803798 *Sep 11, 1972Apr 16, 1974Colgate Palmolive CoFolded towelette guide and feed mechanism
US4545180 *Dec 16, 1982Oct 8, 1985Mpr CorporationMethod and apparatus for making and filling packets with a product
US4548018 *Jun 29, 1984Oct 22, 1985John WojnickiApparatus for horizontally forming, filling and sealing film pouch material
US7793373May 24, 2006Sep 14, 2010Feinberg Ira AMethod of repetitively conditioning cleaning cloths with cleaning solution
EP0046739A1 *Aug 7, 1981Mar 3, 1982Ake StumsnerA package containing a liquid-impregnated sponge and a method and a machine for manufacturing said package
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/64, 53/239, 53/120, 53/562, 53/570
International ClassificationB65B57/04, B65B57/02
Cooperative ClassificationB65B57/04
European ClassificationB65B57/04