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Publication numberUS3709404 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 9, 1973
Filing dateSep 2, 1970
Priority dateSep 2, 1970
Publication numberUS 3709404 A, US 3709404A, US-A-3709404, US3709404 A, US3709404A
InventorsDana E
Original AssigneeDana E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vending machine
US 3709404 A
Abstract
A vending machine having a rotatably mounted central column with a plurality of supports which carry merchandise to be vended. The merchandise is stripped from the supports one at a time by a stripping mechanism which is actuated by the customer. In one embodiment the merchandise is on a carrier in the form of an elongated card having rearwardly extending ears which serve as spacers to separate the carriers on the supports.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 Dana 1 1 Jan. 9, 1973 [54l VENDING MACHINE [75] Inventor: Eugene K. Dana, Santa Monica,

Calif. 90404 [22] Filed: Sept. 2, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 68,957

Related 0.8. Application Data [63] Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 766,088, Oct. 9,

1968, abandoned.

52 u.s.c| ..221/120,221/so 51 mo: ..B65g 55/00 58 FieldofSearch ..221/79,120,129,130,132,

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,208,921 12/1916 Davis ..221/12O 1,344,160 6/1920 Wright 2,030,525 2/1936 Mayfield ..22l/76 X 2,272,859 2/1942 Wilseg ..22l/80 2,466,159 4/1949 Dodson ....221/79 2,606,089 8/1952 Hitchings ..22l/80 3,104,028 9/1963 Brown ..221/1 20 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,215,721 11/1959 France ..221/312 A Primary Examiner-Samuel F. Coleman Attorney-Wolf, Greenfield & Sachs [57] ABSTRACT 18 Claims, 17 Drawing Figures PATENTEUJAH 9 I975 3.709.404

sum 1 or 8 INVENTOR.

Eva-ma K. DANA w w-a mw ATTORNEYS Pmsmmm ems SHEET 2 0F 8 INVENTOR. EUGENE K. 214m ATTORNEYS PATENTEDJAI 9 Ian 3.709.404

' sum 3 0F 8 INVENTOR. EUGENE K. DAN A ATTORNEYS PATENTED JAN 9 I975 SHEET S [If 8 FIG. 5

FIG. 6

INVENTOR. EUGENE K. DANA BY 5 ga flab.

ATTORNEYS PATENTEDJAN 9191s SHEET E OF 8 FIG. 9

Halo

FIG. 8

FIG. 7

INVENTOR. EUG-ENE K. DANA BY NMfI FIG. ll

ATTORNEYS PATENTEDm 9191s 3, 709.404

sum 8 OF 8 HNVENTOR ATTORNEY This application is a continuation-in-part of my earlier application Ser. No. 766,088 filed Oct. 9, l968,now abandoned.

This invention relates to vending machines and more particularly comprises a new and improved vending machine for dispensing a large number of different items.

There are available today a very wide variety of vending machines designed for selling a great assortment of merchandise, and these machines are finding an ever increasing variety of uses. While there are a large number of different machines available, there is not now available a vending machine capable of handling a very large number of different articles of merchandise and which is nevertheless inexpensive and therefore economically within the reach of low volume operators. Those machines now available which are capable of simultaneously vending a wide variety of merchandise are expensive and, therefore cannot be used except where there is very substantial and continual use.

One object of this invention is to provide a relatively inexpensive vending machine which is capable of simultaneously merchandising a very large number of different items.

Another object of this invention is to provide a vend ing machine capable of vending dozens of different articles and which visually displays all of the articles to the prospective customer.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a vending machine which is extremely rugged so as to be capable of taking ordinary abuse to which such machines are normally subjected and which is free of sophisticated mechanical and electrical mechanisms that adversely effect the cost of such machines.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a multi-article vending machine which is extremely simple to operate.

To accomplish these and other objects, the vending machine of this invention includes a housing within which is mounted a column rotatable about a substantially vertical axis. A plurality of supports extend from and rotate with the column and are disposed in dif ferent tiers, and each support is adapted to releasably carry a merchandise either alone or mounted on a carrier. A plurality of stripping fingers are mounted ad jacent the column, one for each tier. Each of the fingers may be independently actuated between an operative position wherein it is in the path of and engages the merchandise or carrier on the support on its level for stripping it from the support when the column rotates, and an inoperative position wherein the finger is not in the path of the merchandise or carrier and will not strip it from the support at its level during rotation. Manual controls which are operated by the customer are provided for controlling the rotation of the column and the means for moving the fingers.

Several embodiments of the invention are shown in the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a vending machine constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view taken along the section line 2-2 ofFIG. l;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are enlarged detail views showing the finger stripping mechanism in the inoperative and operative positions, respectively;

FIGS. 5 and 6 are front detail views showing the manner in which a stripping finger removes merchandisc from a support;

FIG. 7 is a front view of the merchandise carrier blank;

FIG. 8 is a front view of the merchandise carrier folded into its operative position and suggesting the manner in which one form of merchandise may be supported on it;

FIG. 9 is a top view of the carrier shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side view of the carrier and showing the manner in which it may support a different type of merchandise;

FIG. 11 is a fragmentary side view of a modification of this invention;

FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram of a typical operating electrical circuit that may be incorporated into the machine for its operation;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of another embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 14 is a, horizontal cross-sectional view of the vending machine shown in FIG. 13;

FIG. "15 is a perspective view of the rotatable drum shown open for servicing and forming part of the embodiment of FIG. 13;

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary plan view of the car removal mechanism; and

FIG. 17 is a side view of a portion of the mechanism shown in FIG. 16.

The vending machine shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 includes a housing 20 which may be supported on a pedestal 22 and a column 24 in the form of a rotatable drum disposed inside the housing for carrying the merchandise to be sold. Also within the housing 20 are a plurality of stripping mechanisms 26 arranged in a vertical row as viewed in FIG. 1.

The housing 20 may be of substantially any shape in plan, but in the form shown is generally square. A removable front panel 28 is incorporated in the front wall 30 of the housing to provide access to the housing interior so that the machine may be serviced and periodically replenished. A window 32 is formed in the panel 28 so that the merchandise inside may be viewed by the customer. The drum 24 may be made of sheet metal or other similar material and preferably isperforated for universal application. Disposed on the drum in a plurality of tiers are a number of support means 34 in the form of pins that extend outwardly in radial planes from the drum and which are tilted downwardly from the drum somewhat for purpose which will be explained in detail below. FIG. 2 suggests that approximately 15 pins may be arranged in each tier, but is to be understood that fewer or greater numbers may be mounted in each tier depending upon the size of the drum and the type of merchandise to be sold. FIG. 1 suggests five different tiers which indicate that the -machine may have independent supporting pins,

FIG. 2 shows a motor 36 mounted on the base 38 of the housing, which through a chain 40 rotates the drum about its axis defined by shaft 42. Preferably the axis is slightly tipped upwardly toward the front wall 30 so that merchandise stripped from the pins in any one of the separate tiers will fall freely over the pins in the tiers below. As will be noted in FIG. 1, the merchandise is discharged to the customer in station S through a chute 42 which communicates with a hopper 44 disposed adjacent the base 38 of the machine. Thus merchandise must fall from the pins into the hopper 44 and is discharged at the chute 42. This can best be accomplished dependably with regard to merchandise on the upper tiers when the shaft 42 is tilted slightly toward the hopper 44 in an upward direction.

As mentioned above, each of the pins 34 extends outwardly from the drum 24 in a radial plane. Each pin has an upturned flange 46 at its outer end which flange serves as a hook or stop to retain the merchandise carriers on the pin until they are forceably removed from it. In FIG. 3 one support means or pin 34 is shown in detail, and it will be noted that it carries six separate merchandise carriers 50. The pin may carry even more carriers if desired. Obviously the pin length is controlling.

The carriers 50 are all identical, and one is shown in FIGS. 7 and 10. Referring to FIG. 7, it will be noted that the carrier is in the form of a generally rectangular card having a main body portion 52 and an upwardly extending head 54 which is generally in the form of a triangle connected by a narrow neck 56 to the rectangular body 52. The blank may be made of cardboard or similar stock, or could be molded of plastic or other more durable material. In the form shown, the carrier 50 is made of cardboard, and the blank is stamped with two holes 58 and 60 along with a pair of fold lines 62 and 64, which enable the ends 66 of the triangular support member to be folded back as cars in the manner shown clearly in FIGS. 9 and 10. As is evident in FIG. 3, the cars 66 serve as spacers to maintain the bodies 52 of the carriers on the pin 34 spaced from one another to allow room for the merchandise carried on each.

In FIGS. 8 and 10, two different methods of supporting merchandise on the carrier are shown. In FIG. 8, a key chain having a decorative emblem 68 is suggested in broken lines suspended about the neck 56 which joins the head 54 and body 52 of the carrier. It is evident that the cars 66 will retain the chain in position as shown in FIG. 8. In FIG. 10, a different form of key chain is suggested and is shown carried by a wire 70 which is looped around the chain and threaded through the hole 60 in body 52, with the wire ends 73 twisted and bend outwardly so that they define a catch which is larger than the diameter of the hole. Consequently, the key chain is secured on the carrier in the position shown in FIG. and can only be removed by untwisting thewire 70 and bending the ends 73 of the wire so that they will pass through the hole 60.

, The hole 58 provided in the head 54 of the carrier is adapted to receive the pin 34 in the manner shown in FIG. 3. When so mounted, the ears 66 serve as spacers. The lower edges 72 of the cars 66 are upwardly and rearwardly inclined and cooperate with the stripping mechanism in the manner described below to remove the carrier from its supporting pin.

In FIG. 3, a weight 74 in the form of a metal plate is shown supported on the pin 34 behind the several carriers 50. The plate 74 serves to push the merchandise outwardly on the pin 34 so that the outermost carrier is disposed against the hook end 46. This assures that the outermost carrier is at the forward end of the hook 34 in a position to be removed by the stripping mechanism 26 when desired. The plate 74 is retained on the pin 34 by a pair of arms 76 which extend parallel to and slightly above the pin 34 and which include downwardly extending stops 78 at their forward ends. The manner in which the stops function is clearly shown in FIG. 2. In that figure it will be noted that several of the pins 34 bear no merchandise at all, and the weights 74 have moved forwardly so that they bear against the stops. The stops prevent the weights from moving further forward on the pins 34 and therefore the plates cannot assume a position wherein they could be stripped from the pins by the stripping mechanisms 286. This is also clearly shown in FIG. 3 wherein the plate is shown in broken lines supported by the stop 78.

A simpler form of device for retaining the weights 74 on the pins is shown in FIG. 1 1. In that figure, it will be noted that the weight 74 is connected to the drum 24 by a chain 80. The chain which is of limited length prevents the weight from being drawn off the pin 34 and further is short enough so as to prevent the weight from assuming a position wherein it could even be engaged by the stripping mechanism.

The stripping mechanism 26 shown in detail in FIG. 2 includes a stripping finger which is mounted for pivotal movement about a horizontal axis by means of a machine screw 92 and bracket 94. The bracket 94 is secured to the front wall 30 of the housing. Movement is imparted to the stripping finger 90 by a solenoid 96 mounted on bracket 98 on the inside of the front wall 30 of the housing, and the motion of the stripping finger 90 is clearly suggested in FIGS. 5 and 6.

In FIG. 1, it is evident that one stripping mechanism 26 is provided for each of the five tiers of support fingers 34 on the drum 24, and each has its own stripping finger 90 and solenoid 96.

The manner in which the stripping finger operates is best illustrated in FIGS. 3-6. In FIGS. 3 and 5 the stripping finger 90 is shown in its inoperative position wherein its free end 100 is raised about the pivotal support 92 so that the end 100 lies between the tier A of support 34 and tier B above. Thus, with the stripping finger 90 in the position shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, rotation of the drum 24 will not cause any of the merchandise carriers to engage the stripping finger 90 and be drawn off the pin. It will be appreciated that each of the fingers of the several stripping mechanisms is disposed in the position shown in FIGS. 3 and 5 until such time as a selection is actually made by a customer to pivot an arm as is described in detail below.

When the solenoid 96 is energized, the end 102 of the arm is drawn upwardly as suggested in FIG. 5 to the broken line position, and the end 100 drops so that it is in a position to engage the oncoming carrier. In FIG. 6 the solenoid is shown to be energized with the stripping finger 90 in its fully operative position. Similarly the finger is shown in that position in FIG. 4. Referring again to FIG. 5, when the solenoid is energized, the finger 90 moves to the broken line position in front of the carrier 50a. However, it is in the position to slip behind the head 54 of the carrier 50b which is moving toward the stripping mechanism. This is suggested in greater detail in FIG. 6 wherein the carriers 50a and 50b are shown displaced to the right slightly as they would be carried in that direction under the rotation of the drum 24. In that figure it will be noted that the finger 90 clearly lies in front of the carrier 50a while the carrier 50b is moved in front of the finger and the upper edge 104 of the finger acts as a cam surface which is followed by the inclined lower edges 72 of the cars 66. While the finger remains in the position shown in FIG. 6 and the pin 34b which supports the carrier 50b moves to the right as shown (under rotation of the drum), the carrier 50b will be prevented from traveling with the pin 34b as it moves toward the position occupied by pin 34a in that figure. Consequently, the carrier 50b will be stripped from the pin 34b and will fall from the drum, as suggested by the arrow 106. It will be appreciated that under the rotation of the drum, the carrier 50b moves to the right and rearwardly as viewed in FIG. 6 so that the inclined lower edges 72 of the cars 66 rides up on the upper edge 104 of the finger so as to elevate the carrier. This causes the carrier to free itself from the hook end 46 of the pin. That is, the pin 34 and its stop 46 is withdrawn from the hole 58 through which the pin originally extended.

The stripping finger 90 as shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 is in the shape of a lazy S so that it is capable of moving behind an oncoming card without interfering with a carrier that passes immediately behind it. This is best illustrated in the top view of FIG. 2. Again describing the stripping action, the stripping finger 9b is shown in FIG. 2 to be in its inoperative position wherein the free end 100 is disposed above the upper edge of the carriers on the-pins 34 in the tier to be worked upon by the particular finger. That is, the free end 100 of the stripping finger lies above the tier shown in plan view in FlG. 2 and below the lower edges of the carriers supported on the next tier above. When the solenoid 96 is energized to move the stripping finger 90 to its operative position, the free end of the finger is lowered so that it enters between the carriers 50c and 50d immediately beneath the head 540. As the drum 24 rotates in the direction of arrow 108, (counterclockwise) the upper edge 104 of the finger engages the lower edges of the ear 66, and the card carrier 50c is removed from the supporting pin 34c. Thus, the carrier 500 will fall into the chute 44 and be discharged at the exit 42. It will be appreciated that the finger 90 does not move laterally any appreciable distance and therefore the stripping action occurs immediately above the hopper 44. l

The circuit shown in FllG. 11 is typical of many circuits which may be used to coordinate the operation of the device. In FIG. 11, it will be noted that a power switch PS is shown connected across a I15 volt line, and viewing switch 110 is shown connected in the line to the motor 36. Therefore, the motor 36 which rotates the drum may be energized merely by closing the manual viewing switch 110 located on the front of the machine. A hold switch HS is also shown in the motor circuit 36. The hold switch may serve to maintain the motor circuit closed for a selected period after the manual viewing switch 110 is momentarily closed. A cam or some similar expedient (not shown) may be carried by and rotate with the drum which holds the switch and close switch I-IS which will remain closed until the I next row of merchandise is viewable in the window. Then the switch HS may open to stop further rotation of the drum until the switch 1 10 is again actuated.

The solenoids 96 on each of the tiers of merchandise are shown in FIG. 11 to be connected across a I 15 volt line through the coin box (appropriately labeled) and its own selector switch 112. Thus, if the appropriate sum is introduced into the coin box, a solenoid 96 may be energized by closing its corresponding selector switch 112. The selector switch preferably is of the instantaneous contact variety which momentarily energizes the solenoid and effects closing of the circuit to the motor 36. It will be noted that closing of any one of switches H2 not only energizes its corresponding solenoid but completes the motor circuit as well because each switch 112 is operatively connected to switch HO and closes that switch to start the motor. The solenoid arm of each solenoid in turn is positioned to actuate a switch 113 in the coin collect circuit 115. When that switch is closed by the solenoid arm, the coin box collects the coin (rather than return it to the custom) by operation of the switch M7 which is also operated by the cam or other member carried by the drumwhich simultaneously actuates switch HS.

It is to be understood that the circuit described and shown is merely representative of a variety of different circuits that could be used, and the invention is not limited to any particular form.

The vending machine'of FIGS. 1-112 operates as follows: In the drawings the coil slot has not been shown, nor has any of the coin receiving mechanism which will be of standard design and which forms no part of the invention. To purchase merchandise, the customer inserts the required coin or bill in the slot provided (not shown) and presses button 110 on the front panel30 of the machine. Button 11110 energizes a circuit which causes the motor 36 to rotate and turn the drum 24 in a counterclockwise direction. Thus, the merchandise in the five tiers passes'before the view of the customer across the window 32, and the customer can see the different types of merchandise which are available and make his selection. Typically the machine may be used for selling key chains and other similar small items, and the customer can readily observe the variety of such merchandise for sale. It will be appreciated that in this embodiment, some different articles of merchandise I may be offered for sale and be viewed by the customer. The rotation of the drum 24 may be continuous as the customer presses the button M0, or alternatively the rotation may be step by step as each vertical row of supports 34 comes into view at thewindow. Obviously a cam arrangement may be used for this purpose. When the. particular article desired by the customer is disposed right behind the window in the clear view of the customer, the customer may stop drum rotation by releasing the button 110. He then presses the particular button 112 controlling the stripping mechanism, 26 oriented in the tier in which the merchandise desired is located. Thus, if the customer desires to purchase the key case 1 14 carried on the uppermost tier as viewed in FIG. 1, he would depress button 112a to actuate the stripping mechanism 126a that lies in the top tier. This causes the finger 90 to move to the operative position as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6 and simultaneously causes the drum 24 to rotate one step counterclockwise as viewed in FIG. 2 so as to lift the carrier 50 with the case 114 on it off the uppermost support 34. This would occur at station S as viewed in FIG. 2 and caused the key case with its supporting carrier to drop into the hopper 44 and discharge at the chute 42. It is evident that rotation of the drum 24 during actuation of the stripping mechanism 26 should be through only one station so as to prevent the finger from stripping the foremost carrier from more than one of the supports in the particular tier from which merchandise is being purchased.

The vending machine shown in FIGS. 1-12 is capable of use with an almost limitless variety of merchandise. For example, such diverse items as cigarettes, key chains, medical supplies, and housewares could all be sold from a vending machine constructed in accordance with this invention. In fact, such diverse items could be sold simultaneously from such a machine. Because the drum rotates and exposes all of the merchandise carried by it to the view of the customer, the customer can select any item shown. It will also be appreciated that items of different value can be sold from the machine. For example, items carried on the uppermost tier could sell for one price and the items on the other tiers could sell forother prices. In such an arrangement, the coin or bill sensing mechanism would detect the particular amount introduced into the machine by the customer and would allow the customer to actuate the button of the stripping mechanism 26 in the particular tier whose merchandise is valued at that price.

The embodiment of this invention shown in FIGS. 13-17 is particularly designed to vend such articles as greeting cards, postcards, and other relatively flat merchandise capable of being supported in a vertical pocket. This embodiment differs from the first embodiment described in that a sample of each article to be vended is mounted on the outside of the drum, while the inventory which is actually dispensed to customers is contained inside the drum as is the stripping mechanism to remove the different articles.

In FIG. 13 housing 200 is suggested, which contains a rotating drum 202 shown separately in FIG. 15. The drum may be rotated by the same mechanism employed in the first embodiment described. In FIG. 13 the drum is shown as it may appear when used to vend greeting cards. Greeting cards 204 are mounted on the outer surface of the drum and each is partially opened so that the message carrying panel 206, as well as the front panel 208, is visible. For clarity, only a few cards are shown mounted on the outside of the drum, but it will be understood that each pocket 210 in each of the horizontal circular tiers 212 will ordinarily carry a separate card. A window 214 is suggested in FIGS. 13 and 14 through which one card'in each tier may be viewed simultaneously in the manner of the FIG. 1 embodiment.

- pocket 216 is provided on the inner surface of the drum for each pocket 210 on the outside. Thus, for each card displayed on the outside of the drum viewable through 1 the window 214, a number of duplicates are provided in a corresponding pocket on the inside from which the cards are stripped one at a time when purchased by a customer.

Each pocket 216 includes a backplate 218, a bottom flange 220, and top and bottom front flanges 222 and 224, respectively. It will be noted in FIG. 17 thatthe pockets in one tier immediately adjoin the pockets in the tiers above and below. Thus, the bottom flange 220 in the pocket 216 actually forms the top flange for the pocket 216 below, and the bottom front flange 224 actually forms a continuation of the top front flange 222' of the next lower pocket. Similarly, the same relationship exists between the pocket 216 and the pocket 216" located immediately above it.

In FIG. 16, the left side of each pocket is shown to be open so that the cards 204a can be slipped sideways out of the pocket by the stripping mechanism 226 which is described in detail below. FIGS. 16 and 17 also illustrate that the front of the pocket is open between the top and bottom flanges 222 and 224 so that the foremost card in each pocket may be engaged by the stripping mechanism. Further, while the right side of each pocket lies at the surface of the cylindrical wall 228 of the drum, the left side is disposed away from it so that each of the cards 204a in the pocket is free to be slipped sideways from the pocket. Thus, the cards are captured on the right side, top and bottom, but they are free on the left side for ready removal.

As viewed in FIG. 15, the drum 202 is hinged along a break in the drum wall 228 parallel to its axis by hinge member 230 so that the drum may be opened as shown in FIG. 15 to allow each of the pockets in the several tiers to be loaded. It also provides ready access to the stripping mechanisms 226 inside the drum, one for each tier, so that the machine may conveniently be serviced. In FIG. 14 itwill be noted that the stripping mechanism 226 for the tier shown is not disposed within the drum immediately opposite the window 214, and therefore the stripping mechanism does not act to remove a card from a pocket on the inside of the drum, which is in back to back relationship with the pocket in that tier which is viewable by the customer through the window 214. Therefore, the machine when loaded does not have identical cards in back to back pockets 216 and 210, but rather, the duplicate cards disposed in the interior pocket. are displaced circumferentially from the sample card on the outside of the drumfThus, in- FIG. 16, the cards 204a contained in the pocket 216 to be dispensed to the customer are not the same as the card C on the outer face of the drum wall 228 in back 1 to back relationship with them. Rather, the card C would be the same as the card displaced approximately circumferentially in the same tier, so that when the card C is viewable through the window 214, its duplicates will be'disposed in position to be engaged by thestripping mechanism 226. As may be seen in FIG.

15, the stripping mechanisms 226 for each tier are aligned vertically, and therefore, circumferential displacement in each tier between the sample card and the cards to be dispensed is the same.

In drum 202 and extending upwardly coaxially therein is a post 232 about which the drum rotates. A pair of arms 234 (one shown) extend radially from adjacent the top and bottom of the post 232, and the arms in turn carry a second post 236 parallel to the post 232 and which in, turn carries one stripping mechanism 226 for each tier.

The stripping mechanism is best shown in FIGS. 16 and 17. A bracket 238 is shown clamped on post 236 and in turn carries a solenoid 240. A lever 242 pivotally supported on the post 236 is biased to the position shown in broken lines in FIG. 16 by spring 244, connected between the fixture 239 on bracket 238 and the hole 241 on the lever itself. The armature 246 of the solenoid 240-is connected to end 248 of the lever 242, and when the solenoid 240 is energized it pivots the lever 242 clockwise as viewed in FIG. 16 against the bias of the spring 244 which as a result stretches.

The lever 242 carries a finger 250 which in turn supports a foot 252. A counterweight for the finger and foot assembly is provided at 254 which urges the foot 252 against the face of the foremost card2fi4a in the pocket 216 when the solenoid 240 is energized. When the solenoid is energized, the mechanism moves from the broken line to the full line position of FIG. 16 and the foot 252 bears against the foremost card 204a in the pocket 216. When the foot 252 engages the card 204a, the drum 202 rotates clockwise as viewed in FIG. 16, but the foot which engages the foremost card prevents that card from moving with the drum, and consequently the card falls from the pocket 216as the pocket moves with the drum circumferentially away from the foot. The card stripped from the pocket in this manner falls with the cylindrical wall 228 of the drum and through the opening 254 in the bottom wall 256 to a discharge chute (not shown) which conveys the card to the customer. A baffle plate 258 disposed inside the drum assures that a card which falls from any of the tiers in the vicinity of the stripping mechanisms 226 actually falls through the opening 254 in the bottom wall.

The stripping mechanismis adapted to-compensate for different quantities or thicknesses crowds in the different pockets within a single tier. When the lever 242 moves to the solid line position of FIG. 16, the foot 252 and particularly its rubber-like face 260 swings against the foremost card in the pocket disposed adjacent to it, and the weight 254 assures that sufficient pressure is exerted by the rubber-like face against the card so as to retain it as the drum continues to rotate. The weight 254 actually biases the foot to a position wherein its face will engage even a single card in a pocket lying against the rear wall 218, and when the pocket contains more than one card, the finger 250 pivots counterclockwise as viewed in FIG. 17 against the bias of the weight.

While in the foregoing description the pockets have been described as containing greeting cards, it is evident that such products as postcards, or any relatively flat goods can be marketed in the machine. For example, the pockets may contain envelopes which in turn carry flatmerchandise. When greeting cards are marketed this way, the cards themselves may be packaged in their envelopes so that the customer receives both the card and envelope simultaneously. Alternatively, the greeting card and envelope may be 5 packaged in a film or other inexpensive wrapper so that they would be discharged as a single package upon actuation of the system.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 13 to 17, just as in the first embodiment, the customer is able to view the products in each tier merely by causing the drum to rotate so as to present before the window 214 the various products in each of the tiers. When the desired product is positioned before the window 214, the customer then selects the button, (not shown) which actuates the stripping mechanism in the particular tier that contains the selected merchandise, and upon depositing of the proper coins, the machine will vend the product to the customer. A convenient slot may be provided at the bottom of the main housing as in the embodiment of FIG. l to present the merchandise purchased to the customer.

Because numerous modifications may be made of this invention without departing from its spirit, it is not intended to limit the breadth of this invention to the single embodiment illustrated and described. Rather, it is intended that the scope of this invention-be determined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

What is claimed is:

l. A vending machine comprising a column rotatable about a substantially vertical axis,

a plurality of support means extending outwardly from and rotatable with the column and disposed in different tiers, said support means each being adapted to releasably carry a merchandise bearing carrier,

a plurality of carrier stripping fingers mounted adjacent the column and one for each tier,

means for independently moving each of the fingers between an operative position wherein it is in the path of and will engage the carrier on the support means in its tier when the column rotates to strip the carrier off the finger and an inoperative position wherein the finger is not in the path of the carrier,

and means for rotating the column.

2. A vending machine as described in claim 1 further characterized by a plurality of support means on the drum in each tier 50 spaced circumferentially with respect to one another,

and means for selectively rotating the column to position any of the support means adjacent the finger in that tier.

3. A vending machine as described in claim further characterized by a a first manual switch adapted to be operated by the customer for controlling the means for selectively rotating the column, and a second manual switch adapted to be operated by the customer for controlling the operation of the means for independently moving each finger, the actuation of said second switch causing the column to rotate.

4. A vending machine as described in claim3 further characterized by v a separate manual switch for each finger.

characterized by each support means being capable of carrying a plurality of merchandise carriers,

and means for causing the carriers to move to the end of the supporting means.

6. A vending machine as described in claim 1 further characterized by each support means being capable of carrying a plurality of merchandise carriers.

7. A vending machine as described in claim 6 further characterized by a plurality of carriers mounted on each of the supporting means, said carriers each being a disposable panel having support means engaging fittings,

and spacers forming part of each panel for separating the panels one from the others when they are carried on the support means.

8. A vending machine as described in claim 7 further characterized by i said support means being elongated pins extending outwardly and downwardly from the column and with a turned up end,

and said carrier fittings being holes through which the fingers extend.

9. A vending machine as described in claim 8 further characterized by weights mounted on each of the pins behind the carriers for pushing the carriers toward the turned up ends,

and means for preventing the weights from being stripped from the pins by the fingers.

10. A vending machine as described in claim 1 further characterized by the axis of rotation of the column being inclined slightly to enable a merchandise carrier on an upper tier stripped from the support means to fall free of the support means on lower tiers.

11. A vending machine comprising a column rotatable about a substantially vertical axis,

a plurality of support means mounted on and rotatable with the column and disposed in different tiers, said support means each being adapted to releasably carry merchandise means,

a plurality of merchandise means stripping fingers mounted adjacent the column and one for each tier,

means for independently moving each of the fingers between an operative position wherein it will engage the merchandise'means on the support means in its tier and when the column rotates to strip the merchandise means off the support means and an inoperative position wherein the finger will not engage the merchandise means, and means for rotating the column. 12. A vending machine as described in claim 11 further characterized by each support means being capable of carrying a plurality of merchandise means, 13. A vending machine as described in claim 12 further characterized by v a plurality of support means on the drum in each tier spaced circumferentially with respect to one another, 7 I and means for selectively rotating the column to position any of the support means adjacent the l5 finger in that tier.

vending machine as described in claim 13 further characterized by said means for independently moving each of the fingers including a solenoid and a circuit for energizing the solenoid, and a separate manual switch for closing the circuit for each solenoid. 15. A vending machine as described in claim 13 further characterized by said support means lying inside the column,

and corresponding second support means onthe outside of the column for carrying a sample of the merchandise means that may be viewed bya customer.

16. A vending machine as described in claim 15 further characterized by said column being a drum with a cylindrical wall, said stripping fingers lying within the wall, a housing surrounding the drum, and a window in the in the second support means,

said second support means lying in tiers which correspond to the tiers of the first-recited support means, and the corresponding second support means being displaced circumferentially from the first support means. 17. A vending machine as described in claim 16 further characterized by said stripping fingers including a foot for engaging the face of the mechanism means and hold it while the column rotates. I 7 18. A vending machine as described in claim 17 further characterized by said support means being a pocket open at one side from which the merchandise means may slide.

drum for viewing the sample merchandise means

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Classifications
U.S. Classification221/120, 221/80
International ClassificationG07F11/64, G07F11/46, G07F11/00, G07F11/54
Cooperative ClassificationG07F11/64, G07F11/54
European ClassificationG07F11/64, G07F11/54