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Publication numberUS3737033 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 5, 1973
Filing dateJul 12, 1971
Priority dateJul 12, 1971
Publication numberUS 3737033 A, US 3737033A, US-A-3737033, US3737033 A, US3737033A
InventorsGrant A, Toth J
Original AssigneeGrant A, Toth J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Precision sorting apparatus
US 3737033 A
Abstract
A sorting apparatus which is automatic and high speed having two relatively movable parallel walls, one wall having four leaf springs connecting the wall to a housing. A micrometer positions a tapered block which in turn causes a vertical movement component of the one wall; the springs permit only an oblique movement of which one component is that vertical movement caused by the tapered block; the horizontal component which can be readily calculated, provided controllable spacing between the two walls. Solenoids are provided to allow passage of a larger item than the spacing between the parallel walls, and direct this item to a predetermined collection receptacle different from the collection receptacle receiving those items freely falling between the parallel walls which do not cause activation of the solenoids.
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O United States Patent [111 3,737,033

Toth et al. 5] June 5, 1973 [5 PRECISION SORTING APPARATUS ABSTRACT [76] Inventors: John E. Toth, 13544 Orchard Gate Road, Poway, Calif. 92064; Arthur A sorting apparatus which is automatic and high speed C. Grant, 7014 Colorado Avenue, having two relatively movable parallel walls, one wall La Mesa, Calif. 9204] having four leaf springs connecting the wall to ahous- [22] Filed: July 12, 1971 ing. A micrometer positions a tapered block which in turn causes a vertical movement component of the PP N01 161,735 one wall; the springs permit only an oblique movement of which one component is that vertical move- 52 U.S. c1 ..209/74 R, 209/82, 209/88 mm caused y the tapered block; the horizontal 51 1, 1m. 01 ..B07c 5/06 Ponem which cahbe readily Calculated, P d [58] Field of Search ..209/73, 74 R, 88, trollable spacing between the two walls. Solenoids are 209/82, 90, 80, 8] provided to allow passage of a larger item than the spacing between the parallel walls, and direct this item [56] References Cited to a predetermined collection receptacle different from the collection rece tacle receivin those items UNITED STATES PATENTS freely falling between the parallel walls amen do not 3,351,197 11/1967 Smith ..209/88 R cause ivation of the solenoids. 2,382,885 8/1945 Landayet al. ..209/88 R Primary ExaminerAllen N. Knowles Attorney-Joseph H. Golant 14 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures Patented June 5, 1973 PRECISION SORTING APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a sorting apparatus and, more particularly, to a high-speed sorting apparatus for items required specified flatness dimensions.

2. Description of the Prior Art Many mechanisms require that certain elements of the mechanism be within predetermined thickness ranges in order to function properly. For example, spring washers, Belleville washers, electrically insulative ceramic layers for a capacitor, electronic chips, electrical connector elements, ball bearings and memory cores are all physically small items with relatively critical dimensional requirements. Most of these items are manually measured by having a worker with a micrometer measure several spaced apart points on each item. This, of course, is a slow and expensive process. There is also a requirement that any item subjected to such measuring must be capable of being held by hand or by an instrument. When contacted by the micrometer, the item must not distort or compress if accuracy is to be maintained.

In the prior art, there is an automatic device for separating ball bearings based on the spherical diameter of the bearings. This apparatus consists of two rollers which are slanted or tapered along the longitudinal length of the rollers so as to have one end higher than the opposite end. The rollers are disposed so as to be diverging to provide an ever widening gap between the higher and lower ends. Ball bearings are introduced serially at the upper portion of the rollers and continue downwardly until the gap is large enough to allow the ball bearings to fall through. A number of bins or other collection devices are spaced below the gap at predetermined positions to collect the ball bearings as they fall through. Such an apparatus is relatively expensive and will handle parts which are spherical, cylindrical or flat; the apparatus is limited in capability, however, when handling flat parts which are warped for the part must be properly oriented less the warp direction coincide with the curvature of one of the rollers and pass between the rollers prematurely.

Of course it is understood that any apparatus which is to be mass produced must be economical to be commercially successful.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention fulfills the need in the art for a device which can measure and sort small, varied structured items quickly, efficiently and economically; this apparatus comprises in a more detailed preferred embodiment, a housing; first and second parallel walls movable relative each other and mounted to said housing; a movable tapered block having an oblique surface for engaging the second wall along a bottom surface thereof; and a micrometer mounted to the housing and connected to the tapered block for precisely moving the tapered block whereby movement of the tapered block causes a vertical movement of the second wall so that the distance between the first and second walls may be precisely controlled.

It is a general aim of the present invention to provide an automatic measuring and sorting apparatus having a high speed and being inexpensively manufactured.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a measuring and sorting apparatus which is reliable, simply constructed and wear resistant.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a measuring and sorting apparatus of precision quality which may be easily used.

A further aim of the present invention is to provide a measuring and sorting apparatus which may .be cascaded to allow sorting of items within particular range measurements.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a partially perspective, partially diagrammatic view of the sorting apparatus of the present invention connected to an automatic feeding apparatus.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic elevational view of a portion of the interior of the sorting apparatus of FIG. 1 illustrating a measuring mechanism.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a more detailed elevational view of the measuring mechanism as it appears in a preferred embodiment.

FIG. 5 is another elevational' view of the mechanism illustrated in FIG. 4. 7

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view illustrating the use of a plurality of sorting apparatus in a cascade manner.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT While the present invention is susceptible of various modifications and alternative constructions, an illustrative embodiment is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that it is not the intention to limit the invention to the particular form disclosed; but, on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents and alternative constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a sorting apparatus 10 comprising a housing 12 having an opening 14 in an upper surface 16 thereof and a lower opening in a sidewall 18 to receive two collection receptacles 20 and 22. A micrometer 24 is mounted to a front wall 26 of the housing 12 and is used to precisely control the size of the opening 14. A feeding apparatus 28 is illustrated in diagrammatic form positioned to feed items to be measured into the opening 14. One such preferred feeding apparatus is an automatic bowl feeding device which comprises generally a circular bowl mounted to a vibratory base with the bowl having an internally formed track to allow dumped items to be properly oriented and moved along the track to a chute or other convenient conduit directing the item to the opening of the sorting apparatus. The item to be measured will pass through the opening 14 and fall by gravity into one of the two collection receptacles 20 or 22 depending upon the size of the item.

It is an important aspect of the present invention to provide a reliable, yet simply constructed and inexpensive measuring and sorting apparatus which may be easily used and which provides a precision measurement of the items which are passed through the apparatus. Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, there is illustrated in simplistic diagrammatic form the more basic struc ture of a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The opening 14 is formed between two parallel and relatively movable walls 30 and 32. The wall 30 is part of block 34 which is securely attached to the housing 12. The wall 32, on the other hand, is connected to a movable gauge block 36. The opening 14 is in the form of a rectangular passageway with items to be measured dropping through the opening under the influence of gravity toward the collection receptacles 20 and 22. A deflector 38 is provided to selectively direct the item to be measured into one or the other of the collection receptacles. The path which is taken by a falling item is depicted by a dotted line 40 which may take either of two directions depicted by dotted lines 40a or 40b depending upon the position of the deflec- The gauge block 36 has a lower oblique surface 42 which engages a corresponding upper oblique surface 44 of a tapered block 46. Movement of the tapered block 46 in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the drawing of FIG. 2 causes a vertical movement of the gauge block which is pictorially expressed by the upward directed vector 48. The gauge block is also influenced by the attachment of four leaf springs 50, 52, 54 and 56, FIG. 3, to cause an actual movement as depicted by vector 64. First ends of the leaf springs are connected to the gauge block while the other ends of the gauge block results in a horizontal component of movement as indicated by the vector 62. Knowing the lengths of the springs, the obliqueness of the tapered block and the movement of the micrometer, the horizontal movement of the gauge block can readily be calculated. In practice, the various dimensions are such that the spacing between the walls 30 and 32 may be determined by an operator from the micrometer setting. It is important to note, however, that regardless of the distance moved by the gauge block, the wall 32 will always remain parallel to the wall 30, thereby assuring an accurate spacing for the opening 14.

Two solenoids, an upper solenoid 70 and a lower solenoid 72 are provided respectively to move the block 36 to its maximum opened position and the deflector 38 to its maximum rightward position respectively. It is understood that the opening 14 is shown in an exaggerated fashion in FIG. 2 for purposes of illustration. When the spacing of the opening is predetermined and set by movement of the tapered block 46, items which are smaller than the spacing will fall freely between the walls 30 and 32, impact against the deflector 38 and be directed along path 400 to the collection receptacle 20. However, should an item be too large to fit through the opening 14, a sensing device to be described in detail hereinbelow will send a signal to the solenoids 70 and 72 to cause the block 36 to be moved to its fully opened position thereby greatly widening the opening between the parallel walls while at the same time the lower solenoid retracts the deflector allowing the item to move along the path40b into the collection receptacle 22. In this fashion, items which are smaller than the spacing between the parallel walls will fall into the receptacle 20 while items which are larger than the spacing of the parallel walls will fall into the receptacle 22 and thereby be sorted.

As mentioned earlier, items such as spring washers and Belleville washers, for example, may be easily sorted according to predetermined dimensions. A Belleville washer is a generally bowl-shaped element having a critical dimension determined by the distance between the raised center portion and the lower peripheral portion. This dimension determines the spring rate or the force per unit of deflection the spring washer will have. In order to prevent spring washers which may have too great a convex curvature, the parallel walls 30 and 32 may be precisely spaced at some predetermined distance with the spring washers aligned to pass between the parallel walls in a lateral fashion so that the above-mentioned critical dimension is measured. In a similar fashion, an ordinary washer may be measured when burrs or warping is determined to define a defective part.

The present invention offers an apparatus to make a determination of an item's critical dimension quickly and efficiently. As mentioned, in the prior art it was often necessary to have an operator measure several locations with a micrometer in order to determine whether a part was defective. The present apparatus obviates this problem. In addition, the present apparatus may also measure parts which are too small to be measured by hand with a micrometer. All that is required herein is that the item be self-supporting and have sufficient weight to fall under the influence of gravity. Therefore, the present invention will find usage for measuring electronic chips or discs, memory cores, electrical connector elements,-etc.

Other important advantages of the present invention includes automatic and high speed sorting with mechanisms that are highly wear resistant. Referring now to FIG. 4, theRe is illustrated in more detail the measuring mechanism previously described in FIGS. 2 and 3. The FIG. 4 embodiment illustrates an actual production version of the invention including the housing 12 having a first sidewall 18, top panel 16 and a second sidewall 80. The block 34 is connected by two fasteners 82 and 84 to the wall 18 while the block 36 is connected to a mounting block 86 by fasteners 88 and 90. As shown, the blocks 34 and 36 are touching one another. The mounting block 86 also serves as an attachment to the leaf springs such as the leaf springs 50 and 54, at-

tachment being accomplished with fasteners 92 and 93, respectively. A second mounting block 96 is connected to the sidewall by two fasteners 98 and 100. The mounting block 96 is connected 'to the opposite ends of the leaf springs, such as the leaf springs 50 and 54 by the fasteners 102 and 104, respectively.

Mounted to the sidewall 80 is a bracket 106 which in turn is connected to the solenoid 70. Projecting from the solenoid 70 is a shaft 108 which is connected to a block projection 110. The connection between the shaft 108 and the projection 110 is made by a pin 112 to allow pivoting as the solenoid retracts the shaft. With the abutting relationship of the walls 30 and 32, the leaf springs are slightly biased as shown more clearly in FIG. 2; thus a sufficient force to return the shaft 108 once the solenoid 70 is de-energized is provided to the fully closed position of the opening. A contemplated range for the opening of the apparatus shown in from zero to 0.10 inches though it is to be understood that any reasonable range may be chosen with the elements of the apparatus being dimensioned accordingly.

The solenoid 72 is connected toa bracketand includes a shaft 122 having a coiled return spring 124 located between the solenoid housing and an integral deflector support 125.

Thus, if the shaft 122 is retracted within the solenoid, the spring 124 will become compressed and provide a biasing force acting upon the deflector support to return the deflector to the position shown. Positioned below the deflector are the two collector receptacles 20 and 22 which are resting on a base 126. In the preferred embodiment, the leaf springs 50, 52, 54 and 56 are about a half inch in width, just under 3 inches long and made of tempered steel. As illustrated, the parallel walls 30 and 32 have diverging upper portions 300 and 32a to insure guidance to the items which are to be measured.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the tapered block 46 is shown in more detail connected to the micrometer 24.

A pin 130 about which is a compression spring 132 is provided to fit within an opening 134 in the tapered block and act to position the spring which provides a biasing force against an inner surface 135 of the tapered block tending to push the tapered block in the direction of the micrometer 24. The tapered block is movable on a mounting plate 140 in a sliding manner; the tapered block has the upper oblique surface 44 in contact with a lower oblique surface 42 of a plate directly attached to the mounting block 86. The mounting plate 140 includes a central projection 144, FIGS. 4 and 5, which is received within a corresponding recess 146 in the tapered block.

It is now quite obvious that movement of the micrometer provides an increase or decrease of the force acting upon a surface 150 of the tapered block, thereby causing the tapered block to slide to the right or the left as shown in FIG. 5. In the position illustrated, the tapered block is to its furthest righthand position which corresponds to the opening being at its maximum open position. Upon rotation of the micrometer, the tapered block is moved to the left causing a downward movement of the mounting block 86 and the attached gauge block 36.

Mounted to the front wall 26 of the housing is a light source 150, while mounted integrally of the housing is a light detector 152. The light source and the light detector are adjustable and in the preferred embodiment the light source provides a light beam which projects between the upper wall portions 30a and 32ajust above the region of convergence of these two surfaces into the parallel walls 30 and 32. The light detector 152 is connected to a time delay circuit 154 which in turn is connected to the solenoids 70 and 72.

In operation, the items to be sorted are deposited in a serial fashion just above the two parallel walls so as to fall through the opening after the walls have been precisely spaced to some predetermined distance. If the item to be measured has a dimension less than the distance between the parallel walls, then the item will fall until contact is made with the deflector at which point the item is directed into the collection bin 20. However, should the item to be measured have a dimension greater than the spacing between the parallel walls,

then it will become lodged in the diverging region, i.e.,

between the upper wall portions 30a and 32a, thereby interrupting the light beam from the light source 150 indefinitely. The delay circuit 154 will receive a signal from the light source detector 152 when the light beam is interrupted after a some predetermined time period; after the time period, a signal is sent to the solenoids 70 and 72 thereby initiating their operation. When this is done, the wall 32 will pull away from the wall 30 while the deflector 38 will be retracted thereby allowing the item to drop into'the collection receptacle 22.

The delay circuit also provides that the solenoids will be energized for a predetermined time period to allow the item to complete its fall into the collection bin 22 before the solenoids are de-energized. The first time delay, that is, the time that is necessary for the light beam to be interrupted insures that the momentary interruption by each succeeding item as it falls through the light beam will not activate the system. The delay circuit is adjustable so that the period of time that the light beam is interrupted before the solenoids are activated may be set as a function of the items to be measured. In a similar fashion, the delay circuit may be set to keep the solenoids energized for a time sufficient to allow the item to fall beyond the deflector, this also being a function of the item to be measured. In the preferred system, the solenoids will energize for as long a time as half a second or as short a time as 50 milliseconds.

The solenoids may also be manually operated as a safety feature to relieve any jamming that may occur. Using such a system, an item may be sorted every 250 milliseconds which when automatically fed, provides for an extremely high speed system of sorting.

The gauge block 36 is mounted to move in the direction illustrated in FIG. 2 by the vector 64 at an angle approximately 40 from the horizontal. The abutting oblique surfaces 42 and 44 are maintained at about 5 which in the preferred embodiment provides a ten to one ratio relative the micrometer setting. Thus, if the spacing between the parallel walls 30 and 32 is to be set at 0.0424 inches, the micrometer is set at 0.424 to achieve the desired spacing. That is, a movement of 1 inch of the micrometer provides for a movement of one 7 tenth of an inch for the gauge block to or away from the block 34.

Referring now to FIG. 6, there is illustrated the manner in'which the present invention may be used in cascade. For example,.supposing it is desired to separate items so that all those items falling within the range 0.020 to 0.024 inches are segregated from all other dimensioned items. This may be accomplished by setting the spacing of a first sorting apparatus 200 at 0.024 inches. All items which are larger than 0.024 inches will be collected in a collection receptacle 202. All items which are 0.024 inches or less will be directed to a second sorting apparatus 204. This apparatus is set at a spacing of 0.020 inches so that all items which are smaller than 0.020 inches will be deposited in collection receptacle 206 while all items larger than 0.020 inches will be deposited in collection receptacle 208. Thus, of all the items which are measured those falling within the range 0.020 to 0.024 inches will be deposited in the receptacle 208 while all those, items which are less than 0.020 inches will be deposited in the receptacle 206 and all items larger than 0.024 inches will be deposited in receptacle 202. The sorting arrangement just described may be repeated in a cascade ar; rangement of more than two sorting apparatus so that more than one sorting range may be achieved.

A suitable micrometer for the present invention may be purchased from a company having the trade name Starrett" (No. 663L, 0-1 inch) and located in Athol, Mass.

walls toward one another whereby the distance be- 7 tween said first and second walls will be precisely controlled wherein said biasing means comprises a plurality of leaf springs, one end of said springs being connected to said housing and the other ends of said springs being connected to said second wall. 7

2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first wall is fixedly mounted to said housing; and said springs.

3. A precision sorting apparatus comprising:

a housing;

first and second parallel walls movable relative each other and mounted to said housing;

means connected to said housing for biasing said walls toward one another whereby the distance between said first and second walls may be precisely controlled; and a movable tapered block having an oblique surface for contacting said second wall along an engagement surface whereby movement of said tapered block cooperates with said biasing means to cause horizontal movement of said second wall.

4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 3, including a micrometer mounted to said housing and connected to said tapered block for precisely moving said tapered block.

5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 4, wherein the slope of said oblique surface causes a movement of said second wall one-tenth the movement of said micrometer.

6.-An apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein said biasing means comprises a plurality of leaf springs, one ends of said springs being connected to said housing and the ends of said springs being connected to said second wall.

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, including means mounted to said housing for quickly moving said second wall from said first wall. 7

8. An apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said quickly moving means includes a solenoid connected to said second wall. 7 I A 9. A precision sorting apparatus comprising:

a housing;

a passageway cooperating with said housing having an adjustable opening which is precisely controllable;

a movable deflector plate mounted to said housing for directing items that have been measured to sorting receptacles;

a micrometer connected to a wall of said passageway for moving said wall; and a light source and a light detector for causing said passageway to increase its opening.

10. An apparatus as claimed in claim 9, including:

means connected to said housing for biasing said wall; and

means connected to said housing for quickly moving said wall responsive to a signal from'said light detector.

11. A precision sorting apparatus comprising:

a housing;

two parallel disposed walls forming an adjustable passageway, the spacing between the walls being of constant dimension and precisely controllable; and means connected to said housing for quickly moving said walls relative each other between a precise predetermined spacing and a fully opened position for causing rejection of an undesirably dimensioned item.

12. A sorting apparatus as claimed in claim 11 wherein said moving means moves said wall so as to always be parallel to one another.

13. A sorting apparatus as claimed in claim 11 including means for precisely adjusting the spacing between said walls cooperating with said moving means to allow the precise spacing of one wall from the other wall while keeping said walls parallel to one another.

14. A sorting apparatus as claimed in claim 13 wherein one of said walls is connected to bendable linkage for causing said one wall to move while being disposed parallel to said other wall during said movement and for cooperating with said adjusting means to return said one wall to its initial predetermined position.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2382885 *Apr 23, 1943Aug 14, 1945Landay Horace JGauging apparatus
US3351197 *Dec 7, 1965Nov 7, 1967Western Electric CoArticle sorting apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4161251 *Dec 16, 1976Jul 17, 1979Paul William AInspection fixture
US4889243 *Jun 13, 1988Dec 26, 1989Adolph Coors CompanyApparatus for detecting and ejecting bent crowns
US5052562 *Mar 13, 1989Oct 1, 1991Kabivitrum AbMethod and apparatus for sorting round objects
US6531672Feb 12, 2001Mar 11, 2003Car Component Technologies, Inc.Apparatus for sorting and counting spherical objects
Classifications
U.S. Classification209/552, 209/657, 209/626
International ClassificationB07C5/06, B07C5/04
Cooperative ClassificationB07C5/06
European ClassificationB07C5/06