US 3722745 A
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Elttited States atent 1 Gushi et a1.
 MODULAR VENDING MACHINE HAVING TRAP-DOOR EJECTION MECHANISM  Inventors: Peter James Gushi, 10400 South Larami, Oak Lawn; Robert B. Kyts,
880 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, both of I11.
 Filed: Nov. 2, 1970  Appl. No.: 86,046
 U.S. Cl. ..22l/130, 221/195, 221/232, 221/269  Int. Cl ..G07f 11/10  Field of Search ..22l/l95,124,130,131, 224, 221/236, 226, 228, 261, 279, 280, 225, 232, 247, 251, 262, 269,191, 279
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,512,679 5/1970 Stoltz .221/279 2,590,736 3/1952 Tandler et a1. ...221/130 X 2,990,973 7/1961 Chazen ..22l/279 X 1 Mar. 27, 1973 2,876,884 3/1959 Ray ..221/262 X 3,128,013 4/1964 Holstein et a] ....221/13l X 3,310,199 3/1967 Roberts et al. ....221/131 X 3,163,325 12/1964 Mihalek ..221/131 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 700,593 5/1931 France ..221/269 Primary Examiner-Robert B. Reeves Assistant ExaminerDavid A. Scherbel Attorney-Alter, Weiss & Whitesel 57 ABSTRACT A modular vending machine featuring a plurality of independent compartments. Each compartment is amenable to receiving a module containing a plurality of packaged items, such as cassettes, for sale. Themodules plug into the machine compartments and contain the apparatus necessary to dispense an item responsive to selection and payment by a vendee. Means are provided to assure that the packaged items are individually dispensed. A glass door front enables the purchaser to view the contents of the machine.
15 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENTEUHARZY x975 SHEET 1 BF 3 Ms I "n INVENTORg DETED. urn/1E6 GOSH! mm" B. KYTS' aZ w w ATTORN LYS PATENTEUHARZYIHYS SHEET 2 OF 3 INVENTOR? v-u-s ATTO R N EYS MODULAR VENDING MACHINE HAVING TRAP- DOOR EJECTION MECHANISM This invention is concerned with vending machines and more particularly with modular vending machines.
There are many different types and varieties of vending machines commercially available. These machines are designed to safely display the items that are being sold in the machine and at the same time, must make these items available after payment and selection of the particular item. Further, the machines should be capable of holding a sufficient quantity of such items to reduce or minimize the trips made by the servicemen in refilling the machines. Another requirement of these machines is that they must be rugged and reliable to minimize the need for servicing due to malfunctioning of parts. Thus, they should have a minimum number of moving parts.
The accomplishment of all of the above listed requirements has of course required compromises in the design of the machines. For example, with the presently available machines, to prevent the machine from dispensing more than one item at a time when a single item is selected and paid for, it has been necessary to refrain from loading the machines to the maximum amount that they should hold based on the dimensions of the machine.
Further, with the presently available machines, it has been found that the time taken by the servicemen per machine is unduly lengthened because the machine must be manually loaded.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide new and improved vending machines.
A related object of this invention is to provide vending machines, which can be loaded to the maximum with packaged goods for sale and nonetheless dispense the packaged goods, individually.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide modules for use in machines having independent compartments. The modules are preloaded with the goods being sold and thus to load the machine, the empty or near empty modules are replaced with modules that are filled. This of course perceptibly reduces the loading time for the machines.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide automatic vending machines having a minimum of movable parts so that the machines are extremely reliable and rugged.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a vending machine that properly protects the items being sold even under adverse conditions.
In accordance with one aspect of this invention, a modular vending machine is provided. The vending machine has a plurality of transverse independent compartments. The compartments are designed to receive modules containing prepackaged items for sale by the vending machine. The modules come equipped with the means for individually dispensing the items for sale responsive to payment and selection of the particular item by a purchaser.
The individually packaged items are serially stacked back to front in the modules. A force applying means, such as a spring, applies a force tending to push the packages out the front of the module. At the front of the module, there is located an automatically actuated, solenoid operated trap door means. The module is coupled to a source of electrical power when it is placed into the machine; since electrical plug means are provided to interconnect the module to the electrical power of the machine. The front of the module is open but has a top and bottom lip to prevent the packaged items from being pushed from the module unless the trap door is sprung. Means integral to the modules are provided to assure that only a single packaged item' is dispensed when the trap door is sprung.
A transparent door covers the fronts of the transverse compartments and thus discloses to any interested party what particular merchandise is for sale. Coin slots and controls are provided at the front of the machine to enable selection and payment of the merchandise within the machine. A bottom container is provided to receive and enable access to the merchandise that escapes from the modules when one of the trap doors is sprung to its open position.
The above mentioned and other objects and features of this invention together with the manner of obtaining them will become more apparent, and the invention itself will be best understood by making reference to the following description of a preferred embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a front pictorial view of the inventive modular vending machine with a transparent front door shown in the open positions;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken on the vertical plane through lines 2-2 and looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 3 is a front view of the individual modules that fit into the compartments;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the individual modules;
FIG. 5 is an exploded pictorial view of the front bottom portion ofa typical module;
FIG. 6 is a schematic showing of the electrical controls of each of the modules;
FIGS. 7-9 diagrammatically show an individual module when it is being loaded; and
FIGS. 10-42 diagrammatically show an individualmodule during the process of dispensing an article.
Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 at 11 pictorially shows a front pictorial view of the modular vending machine with the transparent door 12 in the open position. As can readily be seen in FIG. 1, the front door is attached by hinged means 13 to the front portion of the frame of the cabinet.
The cabinet extends below the door to define a cavity 14 housing a drawer 16 having a handle 17. The drawer as best seen in FIG. 2 rests in the base cavity section which extends frontwardly beyond the compartments so that there is space 19 between the front door and the compartments such as compartment 18.
The space shown as 19 in FIG. 2 provides room for the packabed goods being sold by the vending machine to drop from the module in the compartment down into drawer 16. The drawer 16 is pulled open by the purchaser to enable the purchaser to remove the article of merchandise he has just purchased.
Each compartment is defined by the back wall section 21 and by a bottom of floor section 22. The floor section of the compartments serve as the ceiling sections of the compartment that is immediately below. For example, compartment 23 is defined by ceiling section 22, which is the floor section of compartment 18 and the floor section 24 as well as back and side sections, such as side wall section 26. The top 27 of the cabinet 11 serves as the ceiling of compartment 18. Located at the rear section of each compartment, there isshown an electrical outlet 28 in each compartment for providing electrical power to the control apparatus of each of the individual modules.
The vending machine includes the controls for selecting the article being purchased and the slots for inserting coins necessary to effect the purchase. More particularly, as shown in FIG. 1, the panel 29 on the side of the opening opposite hinge I3 is equipped with knobs for actuating the controls of the individual modules to cause the individual modules to dispense the articles being purchased responsive to inserting a coin. For example, knob 31 is shown which when operated, causes an article in compartment 18. to be dispensed. A similar knob 32 causes an article in compartment 33 to be dispensed. The articles are dispensed only if the proper coins are inserted in slots 34, for example. The other compartments are similarly associated with buttons to affect a selection of the goods and the modules in the different compartments. The transparent door enables viewing the goods in each compartment to make a proper selection.
Turning now to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, therein details of the module itself are shown. The module is depicted by the number 34. The module is dimensioned to slip fit within the compartment and is equipped with a male electrical socket 36 designed and positioned to mate with the female electrical socket 28 of the individual compartments. The interconnection and coupling of socket 36 and 28 supplys electrical energy to the control means used for dispensing the articles from the modules.
The module has a top wall 37, back wall 38 and bottom wall 39. The walls are configured to form a three dimensional cove shaped module. Top wall 37 has a lip 41 integral thereto for aiding in retaining the articles such as plastic cassettes 42 in the module until released responsive to the activities of the purchaser utilizing the vending machine.
Means are provided for enabling the module to dispense the articles contained therein. More particularly, a trap door section 43 is shown pivotally coupled to the bottom wall 39 ofthe module. The pivot or hinge coupling arrangement attaching trap door section 43 to bottom wall 39 includes a hinge pin 44 which is spring loaded by hinge spring 45 so as to maintain the trap door section 43 normally in a horizontal plane, substantially aligned with bottom wall 39.
The hinge pin 44 extends through holes 46, 47 in body cars 48, 49. The ears 48, 49 are fixedly attached to the body module walls in any well known manner. In the exemplary showing of the drawings, the ears are integral to turned up side flanges, such as side flange 51. juxtaposed to body ears 48, 49 are trap door ears 52, 53, respectively. The trap door ears are fixedly attached to the door section 43 as by spot welding, for example. The hinge pins extend through holes in the horizontal plane and spring 45, but can pivot around hinge 46 and assume a biased position; i.e., inclined upwardly toward pin 46.
Means are provided on the door section 43 for retaining the articles, such as cassette 42 in the module is constantly applied tending to push the articles in the modules out the open fronts thereof. More particularly, lip 54 is provided at the front of trap door section 43. The lip 54 in conjunction with lip 41 retain the articles, such as 42, within the module as long as the trap door section is in its normal horizontal position.
Means, such as solenoid 56 energized through electrical connectors 36, 28 are provided for causing the trap door section 43 to pivot around spring loaded pivot hinge 46 to its inclined position responsive to the operation of a control knob following the placement of a specified coin or coins in the proper slot. Alternatively, the operation of the door 43 can be actuated by coded cards. For example, the purchaser could utilize a special card to operate the solenoid by inserting it into a specified slot in the machine.
As best seen in FIG. 6, the solenoid 56 operates responsive to the operation of an enabling means 57. The enabling means is any well known coin actuated switching device. The enabling means extends an electrical circuit responsive to placement of a coin in the slot in the machine. The electrical circuit extends through connectors 28, 36 to any well known power generating means, such as generator 58. A switch 59 operated by knob 31 is schematically shown as energizing solenoid 56 if operated while enabling means 57 is operated. The operation of solenoid 56 places a pulling force on trap door section 43 when armature 61 of solenoid 56 is pulled into solenoid by the magnetic field generated responsive to electric current flowing through the solenoid. Switch means (not shown) breaks the circuit responsive to the operation of the solenoid.
The pulling force is applied to section 43 through link 62 attached to tab 63 which in turn is fixedly attached to door section 43. The pulling force of the solenoid is strong enough to overcome the spring force of I spring 45 and rotate the trap door section 43 into the open position shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. This enables the front most article in the module such as article 42 to drop through space 19 into drawer 16.
The force means, such as that indicated by arrow 55 at the back portion of the module is provided by helical spring means 64, 66 affixed to the side walls 67, 68, respectively of the module. A chain 69 connects both spring means 64, 66 together and extends around back plate 71 to force the plate 71 against the articles in the module. The force means 55 thus exerts a steady pushing force on the articles within the module and forces them against lips 41 and 54. When trap door section 43 drops from its horizontal position to its open position, article 42 is released since it is no longer held by lip 54.
Since the plastic packaging presently available oftens stick to one'another, means such as bale rod 72 are provided for assuring that only one article at a time is dispensed. Bale rod 72 is shaped like an inverted U and dimensioned to fit over the leading or forward article in the module. The horizontal section 73 of inverted U may have a horizontally characterized shape to better grip the articles, such as article 42. The bale rod 72 has vertical sections 74, 75 and is rotatably coupled to section 43 where it extends through apertured tabs 76, 77 of section 43. The bale rod is retained in its attitude relative to the articles since itis trapped between pins on both side walls, such as pins 78, 79 in side wall 67. Thus, the bale rod moves vertically but retains its angular disposition relative to the horizontal plane, and consequently is positioned to retain the article behind the article being dispensed after applying a downward force on the article being dispensed.
The dimensions are such that the bale rod 72 surrounds the articles being vended by the machine; that is, the articles can easily slip fit through the inverted U of the bale as depicted. When the trap door section 43 lowers, the top of the bale 73 also is pulled lower and exerts a force on the front most article that it surrounds. Thus, the bale rod acts to separate the front most article if it is stuck to the next article in the module. The bale rod 72 in the lowered position acts to retain the article immediately behind the dispensed article in the module. This assures that only one article is dispensed at a time.
Means are provided for guiding the article being dispensed during the dispensing operation. More particularly, ejector springs 81, 82 are fixedly attached to the bottom plate 39 using well known fasteners such as threaded bolt 83 which extends through apertures 84 and 86 in bottom plate 39 and ejector springs 82, respectively. The ejector springs 81, 82 extend under trap door section 43 to the forward ends of slots 87, 88 respectively in section 43. When section 43 is pulled into its dispensing position, the ejector springs extend through the slots to guide the article being dispensed.
Means are provided for controlling the initial downward movement of the articles being dispensed. More particularly, control springs are fixedly attached to trap door section 43 using fastener, such as fasteners 92, 93. The fasteners pass through apertures, such as apertures 94, 96 in section 43 and apertures 97, 98 in control spring 89. Fasteners are securred by nuts, not shown. It should be noted that the front most fasteners such as fastener 93 is sufficiently long so as to extend until its bottom is contiguous to the inside bottom of the bowed control spring 89. The control springs 89, 91 extend so as to have the curved rear endthereof positioned in coincidence with slots 101, 102, respectively of plate 39, when trap door section 43 is in its normal horizontal location. When the trap door section is sprung to-its dispensing position, the control springs 89, 91 extend through slots 101, 102, respectively, to push the bottom of the packaged article outwardly.
Means such as rails 102, 103 (FIG. 3) or 104, 106 (FIG. 5) may be provided in the modules to aid in guiding the articles while moving forward as when one is being dispensed. The dispensing operation is illustrated in the stop motion views of FIGS. -12.
FIG. 10 shows the module diagrammatically in its normal storage condition. The back plate 71 is forced against the articles of merchandise which are locked in place by lips 41 and 54, at the module opening. FIG. 11 shows the solenoid has started to pull the trap door open. The bale 72 after initially forcing the lead most article downward is in the process of slipping between the lead most article 42 and the subsequent article. At the same time, control spring 91 is exerting an outward force on the lead most article 42.
FIG. 12 demonstrates the article 42 dropping toward drawer 16 while bale 72 is retaining the next subsequent article in the module until the trap door section 43 returns to its normal position wherein lip 54,41 lock the articles in the module.
The modules are extremely efficient in use by the servicemen that maintain the machines in a loaded condition. Thus, the modules can be loaded in extremely short time periods by the skilled servicemen or even loaded by unskilled people, who are naturally paid less than the skilled servicemen who maintain the machines. The articles such as article 420 are loaded as diagrammatically illustrated in FIGS. 7-9 by slipping I them through the bale 72 past the lip 54 against back plate applied force and onto an upright position. The force represented again by arrow 55 forces the article forward against lips 41 and 54. The next article 42b is placed in the biased position such as shown by article 42b in FIG. 9. This process is repeated until the module is completely loaded. The filling of the machine thus takes a minimum of time In addition, a good portion of the moving parts on a machine are actually contained on the module, such as the solenoid assembly. If there is difficulty with a module, the whole module is returned to the service center where the solenoid assembly can be serviced without disrupting the operation of the entire machine or necessitating the removal of the entire machine.
To place an entirely loaded module into the machine, it is only necessary to remove the module that is in there and push against both lips 41 and 54 until contact is made by intermeshing sockets 28 and 36. The walls of the compartment act as guides so that the chances of not aligning the sockets and connectors are very small and particularly non-existent. The bottom of the module is protected by a dust cover, not shown, or by rails in. the compartments.
In the operation of the machine, the coins are inserted into slots 34, and a knob such as knob 31 is pressed operating the solenoid 56 to change trap door section 43 from its horizontal position to its vertical position and thereby utilizing the force of gravity in conjunction with the force of the bale 72 and control springs 89, 91 to force the front most article out of the module into the space 19 between the door and the compartments from which it falls into drawer 16. The purchaser has access to the article by opening drawer 16 and removing the article just purchased.
While the principles of the invention have been described above in connection with specific apparatus and applications, it is to be understood that this description is made only by way of example and not as a limitation on the scope of the invention.
1. A modular vending machine for utilization in automatically vending prepackaged articles,
said machine comprising a plurality of compartments,
each of said compartments amenable to receiving a module containing a plurality of articles for vending, sequentially arranged from the front to the back of said modules,
dispensing means in each of said modules for dispensing a selected one of said articles responsive to a purchaser operating controls on said machine,
said dispensing means including a trap door at the front bottom of each of said modules, said trap door having a normal horizontal position, said modules comprising top, bottom, back and side walls to provide a cave-like receptacle having an open front, top and bottom lip means at said open front, for retaining said articles in said modules notwithstanding any force applied to said articles for forcing the articles toward said open front, said front bottom lip cooperating with said trap door in a normal horizontal position for retaining the articles in said modules, and said trap door having an open position inclined to the horizontal position wherein said bottom lip is removed from its retaining position to enable said articles to be forced from said modules.
2. The modular vending machine of claim 1 wherein force means are provided for forcing said articles in each of said modules towards the front of said module.
3. The modular vending machine of claim 2 wherein said force means comprises a back plate contiguous to the back most article in said module, and
spring means applied against said back plate to push said back plate toward the front of said module and consequently force said articles toward the front of said module. 4. The modular vending machine of claim 3 wherein said module comprises top, bottom, back and side walls to provide a cave-like receptacle having an open front, top lip means at the top of said open front and bottom lip means at the bottom of said open front for retaining said articles in said module notwithstanding the force applied to said articles forcing them toward said opening. '5. The modular vending machine of claim 3 wherein said vending machine comprises a transparent front door enabling a potential vendee to view the front article of each of said modules,
space between said front door and said modules, receptacle means at the bottom of said machine whereby when one of said articles is dispensed from a module it drops through the space between said transparent front door and said modules into said receptacle where it is accessible to the vendee. 6, A modular vending machine for utilization in automatically vending prepackaged articles, said machine comprising a plurality of compartments, each of said compartments amenable to receiving a module containing a plurality of articles for vending that are sequentially arranged from the front to the back of said modules,
dispensing means in each of said modules for dispensing a selected one of said articles responsive to the operation of controls on said machine,
force means providing for forcing said articles in each of said modules toward the front of said modules, said force means comprising a back plate contiguous to the backmost article in said modules, spring means applied against said back plate to push said back plate toward the: front of said module and to consequently force said articles toward the front of said modules,
said modules comprising top, bottom, back and side walls to provide a cave-like receptacle having an open front, top lip means at the top of said open front, bottom lip means at the bottom of said open front, said top lip means and bottom lip means acting to retain said articles in said modules notwithstanding the force applied to said articles, said vending machine comprising a transparent front door enabling a potential purchaser to view the front article of each of said modules, a space between said front door and each of said modules, receptacle means at the bottom of said machine whereby when one of said articles is dispensed from a module it drops through the space between.
said front door and the modules into said receptacle where it is accessible to the purchaser, said dispensing means including a trap door in the front bottom of each of said modules, said trap door having a normal horizontal position wherein said front bottom lip aids in retaining said articles in said modules, and
said trap door having an open position inclined to said horizontal position wherein said bottom lip is removed from its retaining position to enable said articles to be forced from said modules and to drop through said space into said receptacle.
7. The modular vending machine of claim 6 wherein means are provided for assuring that only a single article is dispensed per operation.
8. The modular vending machine of claim 7 wherein means are provided for operating said trap door from said normal horizontal position to said open position responsive to the operation of the controls by the vendee.
9. The modular vending machine of claim 8 wherein said means for operating said trap door comprises solenoid means.
10. The modular vending machine of claim 9 wherein means are provided for electrically coupling said modules to the electrical system of said machine.
11. The modular vending machine of claim 10 wherein said trap door is hinged to the bottom of said module with a hinge pin,
hinge spring means for retaining said trap door in said normal horizontal position,
slot means on said trap door, and
ejector means for assuring that the dispensed articles pass over the lip on said door when said door is in the open position.
12. The modular vending machine of claim 11 wherein said ejection means comprises ejector springs attached to the bottom of said module,
slots in said trap door to enable said ejector springs to come into contact with said articles when said articles are being forced from said module responsive to said door being actuated to said open position.
13. The modular vending machine of claim 12 wherein said means for dispensing only a single article per operation comprises bale rod means,
said bale rod means comprising an inverted U- shaped rod pivoted onto said trap door means,
said bale rod surrounding said front most article when said door is in said normal horizontal posi tion and having the top of said inverted U-shaped rod contiguous to the top of said article,
means on the side of said module to limit the travel of said bale rod whereby when said door is operated to the open position, said bale rod exerts a wherein said last named means comprises control spring means, 7
said control springs being substantially C-shaped having the front end thereof attached to the bottom of said door, and
slot means at the from bottom of said module to enable the back of said control spring to pass therethrough while said door is opening and exert a force on the bottom of said articles being sold.