US 3763557 A
An apparatus for opening cartons incorporating a supporting and conveying mechanism for conveying cartons sequentially into the apparatus where a plurality of cutter mechanisms cut the peripheral wall of the carton after which the carton is discharged from the apparatus. Each cutting mechanism is vertically adjustable and laterally adjustable to enable the peripheral cut in the carton to be varied vertically and horizontally to enable various standard size cartons to be opened and to enable the peripheral cut line or cut lines to be varied in relation to the vertical dimension of the carton. Each cutting mechanism also includes a structure to limit the depth of penetration of the cutting mechanism to eliminate the possibility of damage to merchandise in the carton.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Sewell AUTOMATIC CARTON OPENER  Inventor: Cyrus G. Sewell, 606 Josephine,
Sweetwater, Tex. 79556  Filed: Jan. 4, 1972 [211 Appl. No.: 215,337
[ Oct. 9, 1973 Primary Examiner-0thell M. Simpson Assistant ExaminerGary L. Smith Attorney-Harvey B. Jacobson et al.
[5 7] ABSTRACT An apparatus for opening cartons incorporating a supporting and conveying mechanism for conveying cartons sequentially into the apparatus where a plurality of cutter mechanisms cut the peripheral wall of the carton after which the carton is discharged from the apparatus. Each cutting mechanism is vertically adjustable and laterally adjustable to enable the peripheral cut in the carton to be varied vertically and horizontally to enable various standard size cartons to be opened and to enable the peripheral cut line or cut lines to be varied in relation to the vertical dimension of the carton. Each cutting mechanism also includes a structure to limit the depth of penetration of the cutting mechanism to eliminate the possibility of damage to merchandise in the carton.
9 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures PAIENTED 9 IEW v 3.763 .557
SHEET 1m 4 Fig. 8
PAIENTED 91975 I 3,763.55?
, SHEET 20F 4 Fig. 2
I AUTOMATIC CARTON OPENER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention generally relates to a carton opening machine and more particularly to such a machine that will automatically open cartons of different sizes and providethe peripheral cut or cuts on the carton at various elevations to enable a carton to be opened at the top, at the center or by cutting two tray cuts.
2. Description of the Prior Art A substantial quantity of merchandise offered for sale in retail establishments such as supermarkets and the like is delivered in cartons of cardboard of parallelepiped configuration. Usually, such cartons are opened manually by employing a hand-manipulated knife. In fact, carton opening knives have been provided in' which the depth of penetration of the blade is variable in'an effort to overcome the problem of damage to merchandise in the carton. However, even with such knives being used, there is'still a substantial incidence of damaged merchandise and in addition, the labor cost involved in opening a large number of cartons is quite high with the damage to merchandise and the labor cost combining to add substantially to the operating cost of retail establishments such as supermarkets and the like. I
While various machines have been disclosed in prior patents that open cartons, they have not been introduced commercially and apparently have not beenfound to satisfactorily open cartons in a dependable manner without damage to the contents of the carton.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention is to provide a carton opener that will handle many different standard sizes of cartons and willautomatically peripherally cut the carton at an adjustable elevation in relation to the top and bottom of the carton;
Another object of the invention is to provide a carton opener in which the peripheral cut may be made'at the top of the carton, at the center of the carton, at the bottom of the carton or at two vertically spaced elevations carton opener in which a conveying mechanism is providedfor sequentially conveying a carton into the machine, stopping it in position for opening and th'enautomatically conveying the open carton away from the machine.
Yet another objectof the invention is to provide a carton opener which is relatively simple and dependable in construction but yet effective for opening car- Y tons without damage to the contents thereof.
These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and'claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.
I I BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the carton opener.
FIG. 2 is'an end elevational view of the carton opener.
FIG. 3 is a top plan view thereof.
' FIG. 4 is a detailed sectional view illustrating the control mechanism for positioning the cartons in the machine.
FIG. 5 is a detailed sectional view of one of the cutter 1 DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now specifically to the drawings, the carton opener of the present invention is generally designated by reference numeral 10 and includesa horizontally disposed platform or table structure 12 supported by suitable legs 14 or other support structure. Aligned with one end of the table I2 is a conveying structure generally designated by the numeral 16 which may be a conventional belt-type conveyor for conveying cartons sequentially into the carton opener l0. Aligned with the other end of the table 12 is a similar type of conveyor 18 which may be a conventionalbelt-type conveyor for carrying cartons away from the machine after they have been opened. The specific details of the conveyors l6 and 18 do not form any particular part of the present invention other than that they operate in conjunction therewith to conveycartons to the machine and convey opened cartons from the machine.
The table 12 includes an enlarged open area 19 occupied by a belt conveyor 20 which occupies a substantial portion of the table and .which has the upper run thereof in alignment with the table surface and supported in a manner that cartons will be effectively supported in a stable manner on the conveyor 20 or the adjacent portions of the table 12 while being opened.
When a carton is conveyed onto the table 12 and conveyor 20 by the conveyor 16, it will be stopped by a barrier or road-block 22"and also depresses the trigger 24 of a switch mechanism which initiates operation of the carton opener in a manner described hereinafter.
At each corner of the table, there is provided a piston and cylinder assembly 26 and along each side of the table centrally thereof is a piston and cylinder assembly 28. Correspondingly oriented corner piston and cylinder assemblies 30 are provided at the upper corners of the'machine and corresponding side piston and cylinder assemblies 32 are oriented at the upper sides of the machine as illustrated in FIG. I. All of the piston and cylinder assemblies are double-acting and controlled by solenoid valves and may be either pneumatically or hydraulically actuated so that by controlling the sole noid-operated valves, the operation of the piston and cylinder assemblies may be controlled.
The piston and cylinder assemblies 26 and 30 are interconnected by a piston rod 34 which rigidly interconnects the piston of the lower piston and cylinder assembly with the piston of the upper piston and cylinder assembly so that the piston and cylinder assemblies 26 and 30 operate in unison. The upper piston and cylinder assemblies 30 and 32 are rigidly interconnected by a supporting frame member 36 that is stationary and rigid with respect to the table 12 and may be supported in any suitable manner by bracing or the like with the dimensional characteristics of the width of the opener, the length thereof and the effective working height being variable but selected to enable substantially all standard cartons to be effectively opened. The specific frame or supporting structural details for the table 12 and the top frame member or support 36 may be varied and the dimensional characteristics of the piston and cylinder assemblies may be varied with it being understood that the length of stroke of the piston and cylinder assemblies will be adequate for operating the machine in the manner described hereinafter.
Supported by the two piston and cylinder assemblies 32 is a header 38 generally in the form of a plate or a frame which is lowered downwardly until it engages the top surface of a carton placed on the table 12 and conveyor 20. Attached to the side edges of the header 38 is a equalizing supporting structure generally designated by the numeral 40 for two side cutting mechanisms 42 and 44. Extending between the piston and cylinder assemblies 30 and 26 at each end of the machine is a telescopic comer member 46 which encloses the piston rod 34 and the lower ends of the two endmost telescoping members 46 are interconnected by an end frame member 48. Extending between the end frame member 48 and the ends of the header is a pair of equalizing end members 50 which each supports a pair of end cutter assemblies 52 and 54. The end frame members 48 will be elevated along with the equalizing frames 50 when the machine is receiving a carton to be opened and when the carton that has been opened is removed from the machine.
Inasmuch as the equalizing frames 40 and 50 and the cutting assemblies 42, 44, 52 and 54 are substantially the same, only one cutting assembly and equalizing frame is shown in detail in FIGS. -7.
The cutting head or mechanism includes an elongated horizontally disposed rigid blade 56 supported in a horizontally disposed housing 58 at the center thereof by a pair of slots 60 formed in the blade which receives pins 62 mounting the blade 56 in the housing 58 for longitudinal reciprocation. The number of teeth on the blade edge and the shape of the teeth are such as to provide effective cutting of cardboard cartons. The blade 56 is reciprocated or vibrated by a vibrator or standard electric motor 64 having an output pin or shaft 66 engaged in a notch 68 in a projection on the rear edge of the blade. The equalizer frame retains the bottom cutting unit 44 or 54 one-half of the distance between the header 38 and the bottom of the carton. The equalizer frame includes a vertical housing 70 which receives a vertically elongated rigid bar 72 attached to the header 38 and provided with a rack gear 74 on the lower end portion thereof which is in engagement with a pinion gear 76 carried by a shaft 78 journaled in the housing 70. The shaft 78 includes a smaller pinion gear 80 thereon in meshing engagement with an elongated vertically disposed rack gear 82 that has the upper end thereof reversely curved as at 84 with the rack bar 82 being movable at one-half of the speed of the rack bar 74 due to the gear reduction between gears 76 and 80. The depending end of the bar 84 designated by numeral 86 is connected with the piston rod 88 of a piston and cylinder assembly 90 with the piston rod being slidable within a slot 92 in the housing thus enabling the piston and cylinder assembly to move with rack 82. This also causes the housing 56 to also move with the piston and cylinder assembly 90 so that the knife 56 will move one-half of the distance of the rod 72.
The knife 56 is provided with a pair of switch actuating members 92 which extend out slightly beyond the blade and are connected to a starting switch 94 which actuates the motor or vibrator 64. Also, adjacent the blade 56 is a depth gauge 96 that is connected with a depth gauge solenoid 98 that sets the depth gauge for either a shallow setting or a deep setting depending upon whether the solenoid 98 is actuated or not actuated. When actuated, the depth gauge 96 is extended to limit penetration of the knife to a shallow depth whereas when the solenoid is not actuated, the depth gauge 96 is in retracted position permitting the blade to cut deeper.
FIG. 4 illustrates the details of the barrier or roadblock 22 which stops all cartons upon entering the cutting area as well as the switch 24 which lowers the header establishing the height of the box and starts the cutting procedure. The switch trigger 24 is associated with a switch terminal 100 in which the trigger 24 engages the contact 102 with the terminal 100 when depressed for activating a circuit for lowering the header. The roadblock 22 is pivotally supported on a pivot pin 104 and includes an arm 106 that is retained in position by an electromagnet 108 which when de-energized will permit the arm 106 to swing away from the electromagnet thus enabling the barrier or roadblock 22 to pivot downwardly into a slot to enable the carton to be moved out off of the cutting area.
FIG. 9 illustrates details of the header 38 including a switch 110 that is engaged when the cutting procedure has been completed and the header returns to normal position by the action of the piston and cylinder assemblies 32. Closing of the switch 1 10 by engagement with frame 36 as header 38 returns to normal position will activate the conveyors to remove the carton from the machine. Also, a depression switch 114 triggered by arm 112 actuates the piston and cylinder assemblies 90 when it reaches the top of a carton and is depressed by the top of the carton.
FIG. 8 illustrates the ratchet-type counting mechanism 1 16 for counting the number of strokes of the cutting blade and actuates a switch mechanism 1 18 for the next step in the operation after the predetermined number of oscillatory or reciprocatory movements of the cutting blade 56.
A push botton control may be provided for the machine with the buttons being arranged so that one button determines whether the blade is set for a shallow cut or a deep cut. Other buttons are provided for a center cut so that all four lower cutting units are oriented at the center position and all power is cut-off to the upper level cutting units thus only cutting a carton at the center on all four sides thereof. The second button would be for the top out only in which all upper cutting units remain at their top positions which would cut a carton three-eighths inch from the top engaged by the header. All lower cutting units would be cut off. The third control button is for a double tray cut in which the lower cutting units are oriented two inches from the bottom and the upper cutting units are oriented two inches from the top thus providing a double tray cut. The next control button is for a single tray cut in which only one of the cutting units is activated. As indicated, these cutting changes require no changeover time since change may be made between cutting operations without hindering the operation of the machine.
With this machine, a substantial number of presently used cartons may be opened. When a carton is brought by the conveyor into the cutting area it is stopped at the roadblock and depresses the actuating switch trigger which begins the series of actions. This switch activates a solenoid that activates piston and cylinder assemblies to lower the header downwardly to the top of the carton. In so doing, the cutting knives, one at each side of the carton, are lowered to proper level for cutting the carton. When the header presses against the top of the carton, the switch in the header activates the thrust pistons which move the cutting knives or blades into engagement with the carton at a desired elevation depending upon the nature of the cut to be made in the carton. The thrust pistons press the cutting blades into each side of the carton until each blade has moved across the cutting surface five times ensuring a sure cut. At that point, blade action is cut off and the piston and cylinder assemblies are reversed thus fully retracting the knives at which point the piston and cylinder assemblies supporting the header are reversed thus raising the header to normal position. At the same time, the piston and cylinder assemblies at each comer of the machine elevating the assemblies at either end' of the machine up out of the way of cartons entering and leaving the cutting area which will activate the conveyors as soon as the cutting units and end frame assemblies are out of the way.
The specific minute details of the electrical circuitry and the supply valves, supply source and other conventional components are not illustrated inasmuch as they in and of themselves do not form a significant part of the invention inasmuch as various types of controls may be employed. Essentially, a carton enters the cutting area and; is stopped on a supporting surface which action causes a header to be lowered into engagement with the top surface of the carton. Lowering of this header also positions the cutting units. If only a single type out is employed, only a single set of cutting units may be employed which would be capable of making a conventional top cut or a conventional center cut or a single tray cut. If more than one cut is desired in a box, upper and lower sets of cutting units are provided with the vertical movement of the cutting units being automatically related by the two racks and double pinion gear arrangement which will automatically position the cutting units depending upon the type of cuts to be made. The upper and lower sets of piston and cylinder assemblies serve to effectively raise and lower the header and cutting units while the telescoping end frames and cross member at the bottom ends thereof serve to stabilize the header and cutter units.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.
What is claimed as new is as follows:
1. A carton opener comprising a carton supporting surface, conveying means for conveying cartons sequentially onto the surface, conveying means for conveying cartons off away from the surface after opening thereof, retractable barrier means adjacent the portion of the supporting surface adjacent the conveying means for carrying open cartons away from the supporting surface for stopping cartons as they enter from the conveying means which conveys cartons to the surface, and a plurality of cutting mechanisms supported above the carton supporting surface for vertical elevational adjustment and lateral adjustment to engage and cut the peripheral walls of a carton positioned on the supporting surface.
2. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said cutting mechanisms are supported from a frame overlying the supporting surface in vertically spaced relation thereto, a movable header supported from the frame for vertical adjustment in relation thereto, said cutting mechanisms being supported from the header and lowerable automatically in proportional relation to movement of the header as the header is lowered into engagement with the top of a carton positioned on the supporting surface thereby orienting the cutting mechanisms into varied elevational relation to the header and top of the carton.
3. The structure as defined in claim 2 wherein said cutting mechanisms are oriented in perpendicular relation to each other for engaging the four sides of a carton.
4. The structure as defined in claim 3 wherein each cutting mechanism includes an elongated blade, means on each cutting mechanism to reciprocate the blade, and thrust means on each cutting mechanism to extend the blade into engagement with the carton and retract the blade from engagement with the carton after the cutting operation has been performed.
5. The structure as defined in claim 4 wherein each of said cutting mechanisms is provided with an actuator mechanism to'actuate the blade when it comes into contact with the carton together with a depth gauge to control the depth of penetration of the blade into the carton.
6. The structure as defined in claim 5 wherein each of said cutting mechanisms includes a counter device for counting the reciprocating movements of the blade to cease operation of the blades and retract the blades after a predetermined number of reciprocatory movements thereof.
7. The structure as defined in claim 6 wherein said movement of the header is transmitted to movement on the cutting mechanism through a reduction gear mechanism to move the cutting mechanism a distance proportional to the distance of movement of the header thereby variably orienting the cutting mechanism in relation to the carton.
8. The structure as defined in claim 7 wherein a plurality of piston and cylinder assemblies are mounted from the supporting surface and a plurality of piston and cylinder assemblies are mounted from the frame overlying the supporting surface with the piston and cylinder assemblies being oriented in vertically aligned supporting surface includes a switch actuated in response to presence of a carton on the supporting surface for actuating the opener, said retractable barrier including electromagnetic means retaining the barrier in position to stop a carton with the electromagnetic means being de-energized after the carton has been opened thereby enabling the barrier to lowered and the opened carton removed from the supporting surface.