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Publication numberUS3791009 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 12, 1974
Filing dateFeb 24, 1972
Priority dateFeb 24, 1972
Publication numberUS 3791009 A, US 3791009A, US-A-3791009, US3791009 A, US3791009A
InventorsGess L
Original AssigneeGess L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for filling, labeling, and closing containers, such as syringes
US 3791009 A
Abstract
Apparatus for filling, labeling, and closing or applying needle assemblies to medicinal syringes is provided. The apparatus includes an adjustable pump for filling individual syringe barrel assemblies automatically with a predetermined amount of liquid. The barrels are then labeled with appropriate indicia showing the contents, with the labels printed immediately before to assure that the correct labels are applied to the proper syringes. Needle assemblies are crimped on the syringe barrels during labeling to complete the overall operation.
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llnited States Patent [191 Gess [451 Feb. 12, 1974 APPARATUS FOR FILLING, LABELING, AND CLOSING CONTAINERS, SUCH AS SYRINGES [76] Inventor: Larry C. Gess, 1255 Fir Dr.,

Toledo, Ohio 43612 [22] Filed: Feb. 24, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 228,917

3,577,701 5/1971 Bott 53/131 2,981,041 4/1961 Melville 53/131 2,662,679 12/1953 Sonnenberg 53/131 X 3,538,672 11/1970 Shields 53/67 Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee Assistant Examiner-John Sipos Attorney, Agent, or Firrn-Allen D. Gutchess, Jr.

[ 5 7] ABSTRACT Apparatus for filling, labeling, and closing or applying needle assemblies to medicinal syringes is provided. The apparatus includes an adjustable pump for filling individual syringe barrel assemblies automatically with a predetermined amount of liquid. The barrels are then labeled with appropriate indicia showing the contents, with the labels printed immediately before to assure that the correct labels are applied to the proper syringes. Needle assemblies are crimped on the syringe barrels during labeling to complete the overall operation.

12 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures Patented Feb. 12, 1974 3,79L9

5 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG. 3

Patented Feb. 12, 1974 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 3,79MIW9 Patented Feb. l2, 1974 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 FIG. 6

339mm I Patented Feb. 12, 1974 5 Sheets-Sheet A w OI Federated Feb. 12, 1974 5 Sheets-Sheet P;

FIG. 9

FIG. 8

- 1 APPARATUS. FOR FILLING, LABELING, AND CLOSING CONTAINERS, SUCH AS SYRINGES This invention relates to apparatus for filling, labeling, and closing containers, and specifically for filling, labeling, and applying needle assemblies to one-dose medicinal syringes.

One-dose, disposable syringes are being used more and more frequently by hospitals. A principal advantage of one-dose syringes is the added protection they provide against possible infection especially resulting from contaminated needles. Syringes of this type have been manually filled from a supply container having a rubber diaphragm through which the syringe needles are projected into the container. Such containers are relatively small, being capable of only supplying doses for perhaps eight or syringes because too many holes otherwise result in the diaphragm from the needles and the contents thereby are exposed to the air and can be contaminated. With this type of filling, the needles of the syringes also have a greater chance of being contaminated due to contact with the exposed rubber diaphragm. The relatively small supply containers are also uneconomical and present a handling and storage problem. Further, particularly in larger hospitals using large numbers of syringes daily, the manual filling of each consumes many costly man hours on the part of personnel.

The presentinvention provides a-machine for filling a number of disposable syringes automatically and for labeling them at the same time. This assures that-the proper label is applied for the proper medicine to reduce possible identification errors. Alarger'supply con-' tainer of the medicine also can be used, if desired, for easier handling and-greater economy since a needle may be inserted into the supply container only once. The syringe barrels can be filled directly without the needles affixed thereto, thereby further reducing the possibility of contamination. At the same time that the syringe barrels are labeled, the machine affixes needle assemblies thereto through a crimping operation. The needles of the assemblies can becontinuously covered at this time withthe result that the needles are never exposed until the syringes are ready to be used.

The machine is compact andreliable and can be operated by personnel of relatively little skill. The machine also employs relatively inexpensive and simplified mechanical components which reduce the overall cost and maintenance requirements.

More specifically, the machine according to the invention has an indexing wheel or turntable with four stations. The syringe barrel can be fed by hand or by suitable automatic supply means to a first station of the turntable with a narrow neck of the syringe barrel extending upwardly. The lower end of the syringe barrel has a plunger previously inserted to seal that end. The syringe barrel is then moved to a second station'at which a predetermined amount of medicinal liquid is supplied through the neck. Labels are printed at a third station, the labels being positioned transversely on a tape and being parallel to the longitudinal extent of the syringe barrel. The syringe barrel receives a printed label at that third station, which label feeds onto the barrel as it is rotated. At the same time, a needle assembly is moved from an aligned position above the syringe onto the neck thereof by means of a rotating head. As

neck, stationary crimping means located adjacent the neck cause the lower edge of a hub of the needle assembly to curve under a bead or finish of the neck, thereby afiixing theneedle assembly to the syringe barrel. The needle assemblies are preferably located in a magazine and are urged continually toward an aligned position which a syringe barrel so that one of the needle assemblies is always in a position to be moved down onto the upper end of a syringe barrel. The syringe can then be removed or discharged at a fourth station. When a plunger rod is subsequently inserted into the plunger located in the syringe barrel, the syringe is ready for use.

It is, therefore, a principal object of the invention to provide a machine for automatically filling and labeling syringe barrels and for affixing needle assemblies thereto.

Another object of the invention is to provide a machine for filling and labeling syringe barrels and affixing needle assemblies thereto, which machine is compact in size, reliable, and low in cost.

A further object of the invention is to provide a machine for affixing needle assemblies to syringe barrels having an improved arrangement for supplying the needle assemblies to the machine.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a syringe handling machine with an improved arrangement for printing labels and applying them to syringe barrels.

Many other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof, reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic overall view in perspective taken from the front right of a machine for filling, labeling, and affixing needle assemblies to syringe barrels in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view in perspective taken from the front left of filling components of the machine of FIG. 1 and of a drive mechanism therefor;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view in perspective taken from the same angle as FIG. 1 of components of the machine which affix a needle assembly to a syringe barrel assemy;

FIG. 4 is a further enlarged view in vertical, longitudinal cross section taken through a head for engaging and rotating a needle assembly;

FIG. 5 is a still further enlarged view of a portion of the head of FIG. 4, shown in a different position, and showing crimping members for turning the needle hub under a finish or head of the syringe barrel;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view in perspective of the crimping components of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary, plan view of apparatus for applying labels to the syringe barrels;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of drive components emis compact so that space requirements are kept to a minimum and it is also relatively light in weight to provide portability so that the machine can be placed in the most efficient or needed location. However, the machine is usually used with a sanitary hood which supplies filtered, germ-free air over the apparatus to prevent contamination by air-borne bacteria.

Syringes handled by the machine 10 are of the disposable type and can be obtained commerically in several styles. As shown particularly in FIG. 4, a container or syringe barrel assembly 14 includes a main barrel 16 and an upper neck 18 having a bead or finish 20 over which a needle assembly is affixed when the syringe has been filled. A plunger 22 is located in the lower end of the barrel 16 to close off that end, with the syringe barrels and plungers being purchased assembled and in a sterilized condition from a manufacturer. After the syringe is filled, labeled, and the needle assembly applied, a plunger rod can be inserted into the rear of the plunger when the syringe is to be used.

The syringe barrel assemblies 14 are moved manually or automatically from a suitable source sequentially to an indexing wheel or turntable 24 (FIG. 1). The indexing wheel 24 includes an upper disc 26 and a spaced lower disc 28 connected by a central hub 30. The lower disc 28 carries four rotatable supports 32 (FIG. 2) which are aligned with four openings or notches 34 in the upper disc 26. The supports 32 have peripheral flanges 36 (FIG. 4) forming recesses 38 which receive the lower ends of the barrels 16. The notches 34 have curved edges 40 (FIGS. and 6) which help to crimp the needle assemblies under the beads.

The syringe barrel assemblies 14 are loaded at a first station indicated at 42 (see FIG. 1) and are carried by the index wheel 24 to a second station indicated at 44 when the wheel is indexed in a clockwise direction through 90 increments. At the second station 44, the syringe barrels 16 receive a predetermined quantity of medicinal liquid from filling apparatus indicated at 46. The syringe barrels are then transferred to a third station, indicated at 48 where labels 50 (FIG. 9) carrying appropriate indicia designating the medicine in the syringe barrels are applied, the labels being printed at this station. Needle assemblies are also affixed to the syringe barrel assemblies 14 at this station. The syringes then move to a fourth station 52 and are suitably removed or discharged therefrom. SOL.1

The index wheel 24 is driven through a central shaft 54 (FIG. and an electromagnetic clutch C-l by means to be discussed subsequently. The table is precisely indexed to each of the four stations by means of recesses 56 (FIG. 2) located in the lower surface of the lower disc 28. A plunger 58 extends upwardly through a platform 60 of the machine base 12 and has a downwardly extending rod 62 therebelow which is spring loaded in the upward direction by a spiral spring 64. The rod 62 extends into a solenoid designated SOL. l and is pulled downwardly when the solenoid is actuated. The solenoid is supported by a mounting plate 66 I extending from a depending plate 68 in the base 12.

When a new syringe barrel assembly is placed at the first station 42 of the index wheel 24, and the wheel is to be indexed, a start switch (not shown), which can be hand or foot operated, is closed. A timer is then actuated which actuates the solenoid SOL.1 to move the plunger 58 out of the recess 56 momentarily. An arm 70 extending from the rod 62 then closes a limit switch LS1 which energizes the clutch C-l, enabling the index wheel to be rotated to the next station. When the plunger is released, immediately after the wheel 24 starts to index, the spring 64 moved the plunger 58 upwardly against the lower surface of the disc 28 so that it can then enter the next one of the recesses 60 when the wheel 24 has moved 90 to the next station. When the plunger moves into the next recess 56, the arm opens the limit switch LS1 which de-energizes' the clutch C-1 and stops the drive for the index wheel.

FILLING OPERATION The filling apparatus 46 at the second station 44 is shown in FIG. 2 and includes a vertically reciprocable block 72 slidably mounted on vertical guide posts 74. The block 72 is pivotally connected to a crank arm 76 which is driven in a manner to be discussed subsequently. The arm moves the-block 72 in a verticalreciprocating motion over a predetermined distance. The block 72 includes an outwardly extending flange 78 supporting a supply needle or hollow member 80 which extends downwardly and is in alignment with the neck 18 of the syringe barrel assembly 14 when at the filling station 44 being in the barrel 16 when the block 72 is in its lowest position. The supply needle 80 is connected through a flexible supply tube 82 to a neck 84 of a pump cylinder 86. The cylinder 86 is mounted in a fixed position in a stand 88 by means of a clamping bar 90 which is readily removable. A pump plunger 92 is located within the cylinder 86 and is connected to a plunger rod 94 which extends downwardly to an end flange 96, the latter being attached by a connection plate 98 to an upper end of a gear rack 100. The rack 100 is vertically guided in a groove in the side of the stand 88.

When the gear rack 100 is moved upwardly a predetermined distance, it moves the plunger 92 accordingly and dispenses a predetermined quantity of medicinal liquid from the cylinder 86 through the tube 82 and the needle 80 into the syringe barrel 16. The cylinder 86 contains a relatively large amount of medicinal liquid so that the plunger 92 can be moved upwardly incrementally a number of times to fill a corresponding number of the syringe barrels before the cylinder is empty. At that time, the cylinder can be removed and replaced by a full one, or it can be refilled in place. In the latter instance, a three-way valve 102 is turned to enable the cylinder to communicate with an upwardly extending needle 104 rather than with the line 82. The needle 104 can communicate with the interior of a large medicinal supply container having a rubber diaphragm through which the needle is inserted when the container is in verted. When the rack 100 is then moved downwardly, retracting the plunger 92, a new supply of medicinal liquid is drawn from the supply container (not shown) into the cylinder. The valve 102 then can be turned back to connect the cylinder 86 with the line 82 and the barrel-filling operation can begin again.

The plunger 92 is driven incrementally upwardly in the cylinder 86 by a rack and pinion drive arrangement. Accordingly, the rack 100 extends into the base 12 of the machine and meshes with a pinion 106 which is affixed to a drive shaft 108. A travel control arm also is mounted on the shaft 108 and moves in an arcuate manner. When electromagnetic clutches C-2 and C-3 are energized, the shaft 108 is connected to a drive train and the arm is connected to rotate with the shaft 108. The shaft 108 then rotates and the arm 110 moves downwardly to a position in which it engages a positive stop in the form of an adjusting block 1 12. The arm, the shaft 108, and the pinion 106 then stop, along with the upward movement of the rack 100 and the pump plunger 92. The block 112 in turn is connected to an indicator block 114 by an adjusting screw 116. When the screw 116 is loosened, the indicator block 114 and the stop block 112 can be moved up or down to a predetermined position. The position is shown by a pointer 1 18 associated with indicia located on a wall 120 of the base 12. When the clutches C-2 and C-3 are deenergized, the arm 110 is moved back to its original position by a spring 122 which is connected between the arm and the platform 60. The original, upper position of the arm is determined by a fixed stop 124 extending inwardly from the side wall 120.

From the above it will be seen that when the arm 110 moves downwardly, the plunger 92 moves upwardly to cause liquid to be dispensed from the cylinder 86 through the tube 82 to the syringe barrel assembly, until the arm 110 moves into contact with the stop block 112. At this time, the clutch C-2slips and the shaft 108 stops. When a timer times out, the clutches C-2 and C-3 are de-energized. The spring 122 then moves the arm 110 back to the original position against the stop 124. During this upward movement of the arm 110, the pinion 106 remains stationary along with the rack 100 and the plunger 92. Consequently, through each complete reciprocatory cycle of the arm 110, the plunger 92 moves upwardly a predetermined distance -in the cylinder 86 and dispenses a predetermined amount of liquid. The dispensing of the liquid through the needle 80 occurs only when the needle is in the syringe barrel 16 with the block 72 being in its lowest position by controls to be discussed subsequently.

Occasionally it is desired to move the plunger 92 upwardly in the cylinder 86 to remove air bubbles, by way of example. In such an instance, a jog button can be used to energize the electromagnetic clutch C-2, thereby causing rotation of the shaft 108 in the same direction as a lower shaft 126 through a chain and sprocket set indicated at 128. The shaft 108 also can be equipped with a manually operated handle extending out of the base 12 for manual manipulation, if desired. The clutch C-3 remains de-energized at this time so that the arm 110 remains stationary in its upper position.

When the plunger 92 has moved upwardly to the top the cylinder 86 and it is desired to refill the cylinder, the valve 102 is positioned so that the needle 104 communicates with the cylinder 86 and a source of supply. Another jog button can then be used to energize an electromagnetic clutch C-4. This connects the lower drive shaft 126 with the upper shaft 108 through spur gears 130 and 132 to rotate the shaft 108 in the opposite direction and cause the rack and pinion to retract the plunger 92 to fill the cylinder 86.

The drive and controls for thecrank arm 76 and the lower shaft 126 will now be described. When the syringe barrel 16 is moved to the station 44, a limit switch LS2 is closed to supply a pulse to a solenoid designated SOL.2. This retracts a dog 134 from an offset 136 and enables a commercially available wrap spring clutch 138 to rotate one-half revolution. This rotates a drive shaft 140 anda cam 142 to which the crank arm 76 is connected through 180, after which the dog 134 then engages a second offset diametrically opposite the offset 136. During this time, the crank arm 76 moves the block 72 downwardly to insert the filling needle into the syringe barrel 16 at the station 44. At the end of the half revolution, a control arm 144, which rotates with the shaft 140, engages a limit switch LS3 which energizes the clutches C-2 and C-3 and starts a timer, which when timed out de-energizes the clutches C-2 and C-3. However, by this time, the shaft 108 will have been driven through its full arcuate movement as determined by the arm against the stop 112, with the clutch C-2 then slipping until de-energized.

When the timer de-energizes the clutches C-2 and C-3, it also pulses the solenoid SOL.2 once again to temporarily retract the dog 134 and enable the shaft to rotate 180 and raise the filling needle 80 out of the syringe barrel 16. The control arm 144 then engages and closes another limit switch LS4 which readies the machine for another cycle. The index wheel control is in series with the limit switch LS4 to prevent indexing unless that switch is closed. This prevents possible indexing when the filling needle 80 is in the syringe barrel.

The components of the filling mechanism 46 are driven by a drive shaft 146 and a drive sprocket 148 which rotate an intermediate shaft 150 through a sprocket and chain set indicated at 152. The wrap spring clutch 138 is then driven through an intermediate sprocket and chain set indicated at 154 and the shaft 126 is driven through a sprocket and chain set indicated at 156.

CRIMPING OPERATION At the station 48, closure members, specifically syringe needle assemblies 158 (FIGS. 4 and 5), are assembled with the syringe barrel assemblies 14. The needle assemblies 158 include connecting portions or hubs 160 and needles 162 on which are covers 164. In this instance, the needle assemblies 158 are supplied in a magazine 166 (FIG. 3 also) which can be disposable. The magazine, for example, can hold 10 needle assemblies which are pre-packaged in a sterile condition with the magazine then simply thrown away when empty. The magazine 166 includes an elongated body 168 of plastic material having a channel 170 extending longitudinally thereof with the channel 170 including an enlarged lower portion 172 which receives the needle hubs 160 and an upper, narrower slot 174 through which the needles 162 and the covers 164 extend. The channel 170 communicates with a transverse cylindrical passage 176 at one end thereof, which passage is aligned with the syringe barrel assembly 14 at the stations 48. The magazine is positioned on a supporting platform 178 by a suitable locating pin 180 (FIGS. 3 and 4).

A follower or pusher 182 is slidably guided on a rod 184 and has a tang 186 extending into the channel 170 in engagement with the last of the needle assemblies 158 therein. The follower 182 is urged toward the transverse passage 176 by a spring 188 connected to the follower and to end portion of the platform 178. The follower 182 thereby urges the needle assemblies 158 sequentially toward the transverse passage 176 which is aligned with a transverse passage 190 in the platform 178 when positioned by the pin 180. A limit switch LS5 is mounted in a housing 192 on the platform 178 and is engaged by a projection 193 of the follower 182 when the magazine is empty. This prevents operation of the machine when no needle assemblies are present.

The needle assemblies 158 are moved downwardly through the magazine passage 176 and the platform passage 190 by a crimping head 194. The head 194 includes a guide sleeve 196 and a hug-engaging jaw 198. The sleeve 196 has a lower annular end 200 which extends below the jaw 198, being urged downwardly by an upper spring 202. The spring 202 is located around shank 204 of the jaw 198, which shank extends through a bore 206 in the sleeve and urges a shoulder 208 of the sleeve 196 against a shoulder 210 of the jaw 198. When the head 194 moves downwardly, the lower end 200 of the guide sleeve 196 contacts a shoulder 212 of the hub 160 first and thereby assures that the needle assembly 158 will be aligned with the head 194. As the head 194 moves further downwardly, it carries the hub 160 onto the upper end and specifically over the finish of the barrel assembly 14, at which time the spring 202 begins to be compressed. This moves the jaw 198 downwardly relative to the sleeve 196 and causes a tapered portion 214 of the jaw to engage an upper portion 216 of the hub. During this time, the needle 162 and the cover 164 are received in an elongate recess 218 of the jaw. As the head 194 continues to move the needle assembly 158 downwardly, an annular depending flange 220 of the hub 160 engages the curved edge 40 of the associated opening or notch 34 and also an annular curved edge 222 (FIGS. 5 and 6) of a crimping wheel 224. The curved edge 222 is similar in transverse cross section to the transverse cross section of the edge 40. The annular edge 220 of the hub 160 is thereby curved under the lower edge of the finish 20 and is crimped securely in place. The needle assembly 158 is rotated during this motion so that the edge 220 is uniformly crimped under the finish, even though the edge 40 only extends around part of the finish 20 and the edge 222 only contacts the finish at substantially a single point.

The head 194 is rotatably mounted in a vertically movable supporting plate 226. The upper end of the shank 202 is threadedly received in a shoulder 228 of a shaft 230 which extends through the platform 226, being rotatbly held in bearings 232. A groove 234 with a split ring 236 is located above the supporting plate 226 to provide support for the head 194 on the upper surface of the plate 226. The shaft 230 extends upwardly above the plate and has a key-way 238 (FIG. 3) thereabove. The shaft 230 slidably extends through a driven sprocket 240 rotatably mounted on an upper wall 242 affixed to a housing 244, with the shaft extending further upwardly into a housing extension 246. The rear portion of the wall 242 is not shown in FIG. 3 for clarity of illustration. The driven sprocket 240 has a key 248 received in the key-way 238 to rotatably connect the sprocket and the shaft 230 while enabling vertical movement of the shaft. A chain 250 extends rearwardly from the driven sprocket 240 to a drive sprocket 252 which is similarly rotatably supported by the upper wall 242 of the housing 244. A long drive shaft 254 for the sprocket 252 extends downwardly through the supporting plate 226 and back of the mounting platform 178 to drive mechanism located in the base 12, which will be discussed later.

The supporting plate 226 is moved up and down by means of a screw drive which includes a screw 256 extending upwardly through most of the height of the housing 244 with a nylon nut 258 engaged therewith and afi'rxed to the lower surface of the supporting plate 226. The screw 256 is rotated in one direction to raise the supporting plate 226 and in the other direction to lower it. The supporting plate 226 further is mounted on two guide posts 260 and 262, the upper ends of which are received in the upper wall 242 and which guide the plate during its vertical movements. The posts 260 and 262 also extend through bushings 264 and 266 in the platform 178 and guide it during its vertical movement in the housing 244. The plate 178 is supported from the plate 226 by an elongate connector 268 which extends upwardly from the plate 178 through the supporting plate 226 where it has an enlarged head 270. The connector 268 is slidably received in the plate 226 but with the platform 178 being limited to relative movement away from the plate 226 by the head 270. Consequently, when the supporting plate 226 is raised, it moves the plate 178 upwardly as long as the head 270 is in contact with the upper surface of the supporting plate 226. However, when the plate 226 is lowered, it will lower the platform 178 only until the platform hits a limit or stop and specifically, in this instance, the upper surface of the top disc 26 of the index wheel 24. At that time, the plate 226 will continue the downward movement with the head 270 of the connector 268 remaining stationary. When the plate 226 is reversed in direction, the lower platform 178 will remain stationary until the plate 226 has traveled upwardly sufficiently far to enable the head 270 once again to be engaged by the supporting plate 226.

By enabling the magazine 166 and the platform 178 to move vertically, the magazine can be lowered to a point at which it is just above the barrel finish 20, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, with the passages 176 and thereby serving to guide the needle assembly 158 down to the point that it is received on the finish. The magazine 166 and the platform 178 can then be raised to enable them to clear the needle 162 of the assembly 158 which has been affixed to the barrel assembly 14.

The operation of the crimping apparatus is initiated by a limit switch LS6 (FIG. 7) which is located on the base 12 in the lower part of the housing 244. A pressure arm 272 is pivotally mounted by a pin 274 on the platform 60 in front of the limit switch LS6 and has a pressure roller 276 rotatably mounted at an end thereof adjacent the station 48. The pressure roller 276 extends over a substantial portion of the length of the syringe of barrel 1.6. The opposite end of the pivoted arm 272 in connected to a spring 278 which urges the pressure roller 276 toward a syringe barrel at the station 48. When the indexing wheel 24 carries one of the syringe barrels 16 to the station 48, it contacts the pressure roller 276 and pushes the arm 272 against the feeler arm of the limit switch LS6 and closes it. The limit switch then operates the drive for the screw 256 which rotates in a manner to move the supporting plate 226 downwardly. At this time, the shaft 254 is already rotating to rotate the head 194 through the sprockets 240 and 252 and the chain 250.

As the head 194 moves downwardly along with the supporting plate 226, the platform 178 and the magazine 166 similarly move downwardly toward the syringe barrel until the platform 178 contacts the upper surface of the upper disc 26 of the indexing wheel 24. At this point, the platform 178 is just above the finish 20 of the syringe barrel 16, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The head 194 continues to move downwardly until the lower end 220 of the guide sleeve 196 contacts the shoulder 212 of the hub 160. The needle assembly 158, frictionally held in the transverse passage 176 of the magazine 166 by the pressure of the adjacent needle assembly 158, then is pushed downwardly until received on the upper end or the finish 20. The spring 202 then yields to cause the jaw 198 to move down relative to the sleeve 196 until the tapered portion 214 of the jaw frictionally en,- gages the portion 216 of the hub 160. Further movement of the head 194 causes the annular lower lip or flange 220 of the hub to be curled under the finish by the curved surfaces 40 and 222. Downward movement of the head 194 stops when an electromagnetic clutch through which the screw 256 is driven begins to slip.

When the supporting plate 226 reaches its lowest position, a lower limit switch LS7 in the housing 244 is closed which starts a timer. When the timer times out after a sufficient length of time to assure that the hub 160 is fully crimped on the finish 20, it causes the screw 256 to reverse and again raise the supporting plate 226. The platform 178 and the magazine 166 remain in the lower position until the head 270 of the connector 268 engages the upper surface of the plate 226, at which time the platform and magazine are carried upwardly along with the plate 226. This movement occurs until the plate 226 reaches an upper limit switch LS8 which stops rotation of the screw 256. At this point, the platform 178 is clear of the needle 162 of the nowassembled needle assembly so that the assembled syringe can be moved to the discharge station 52.

LABELING AND PRINTING OPERATION As the closure members or needle assemblies 158 are affixed to the barrel assemblies 14, the labels 50 are simultaneously applied. As shown in FIG. 9, the labels are of the pressure-sensitive type and are carried in transverse, uniformly spaced relationship on a tape 280. The tape 280 has pairs of spaced holes 282 between the labels 50 thereon to enable the tape to be positively driven, as will be subsequently discussed. As shown in FIG. 7, the tape 280 and the labels 50 are wound in a roll 284 mounted on a hub 286 of a circular plate 288 which can be rotatably mounted on the platform 60 of the base 12, or the roll 284 can be simply allowed to slide on the plate 288 around the hub 286. From the roll 284, the tape 280 is pulled around two guide posts 290 and 292 and, hence, past printing apparatus indicated at 294, to be discussed subsequently. The tape is then pulled around a separating bar or block 296 which can be heated, if desired, to improve the adhesion of the labels 50 on the syringe barrels 16. The block 296v has a vertical edge 298 of small radius around which the tape is pulled to separate the labels therefrom as the tape sharply changes direction. The labels continue in a straight line between the syringe barrel 1 6 and the pressure roller 276 where they are adhered to the barrel 16 as it is rotated by the head 194.

The tape alone subsequently moves between a drive roll 300 and a pressure roll 302 (see also FIG. 8). The drive roll 300 has a plurality of pairs of teeth 304 thereon which engage the openings 282 in the tape 280. There are ten pairs of the teeth 304, as shown, with the drive roll.300 moved one-tenth of a revolution each time one of the labels 50 is to be applied to one of the syringe barrels 16. This arrangement provides a positive feed for the tape and a more simple and less costly arrangement than electric eyes and similar devices heretofore used to control tape feed. The pressure roll 302 actually includes four rubber rings 306 mounted thereon to engage the tape 280 on each side of the holes 282, thereby assuring positive engagement of the holes with the teeth 304. The pressure roll 302 is slidably mounted on a base 308 and is urged toward the feed roll 300 by a spring 310.

The printing apparatus 294 includes a back-up block 312 having a pressure pad 314 in front of which the tape 280 is pulled with the labels 50 facing outwardly. Printing type is set up in a type holder or chase 316 to provide the desired indicia for the labels to indicate the contents of the barrel assemblies 14 being filled. The holder 316, which can be of any suitable type generally known in the art, is mounted in a printing head 318 and can be removed from type replacement simply by being slid upwardly from the head 318. The printing head is moved back and forth in a lineal path directed by a plastic guide block 320 which is slidably mounted in upper and lower guide members 322 having grooves 324 in which the upper and lower edges of the guide block 320 are received. When the guide block 320 is in the retracted position, it closes a limit switch LS9 which starts the tape drive roll 300.

An inking plate 326 includes an inking pad 328 on a face thereof which moves against and supplies fresh ink for the type after each printing operation. The inking plate 326 is supported on a lower arm 330 which extends under the lower guide member 322 to an axis 332. A circular disc 334 is also rotatably mounted on the axis 332 with the arm 330 and has an annular groove 336 which receives a spring 338 when the disc is rotated in a counter-clockwise direction, as shown in FIG. 7. One end of the spring is pinned in the groove 336 while the other is connected by a pin 340 to the lower surface of the printing head 318. The spring 338 urges the inking plate 326 toward the type holder 316 with the plate being pushed out of the way when the printing head moves forwardly by the forward edge of the guide block 320. This engages the arm 330 and forces the plate out of the way, at the same time rotating the disc 334. When the head 318 is near its retracted position, however, the printing pad 328 is in contact with the type to provide a fresh supply of ink therefor. When the head 318 is in its at-rest position, as shown in FIG. 7, the printing plate 326 preferably is spaced from the type so that the pad 328 can be supplied with fresh ink more easily. This at-rest position is somewhat forward of the fully retracted position.

The printing head 318 is driven through a link 342 which is connected to the printing head by a pin 344 and to a rotatable cam member 346 by a pin 348. The drive for a shaft 350 of the cam member 346 will be discussed below.

The drive components for the closing, labeling, and printing mechanisms are shown schematically in FIG. 10. For continuously rotating the crimping head 194, the shaft 254 is driven from a main drivenshaft 352 through a gear box 354, a vertical drive shaft 356, and spur gears 358, 360. The screw 256 for moving the plate 226 and the platform 178 vertically is driven off the shaft 254. The screw is driven to move the plate 226 downwardly when an electromagnetic clutch G5 is energized by the spur gear 360 and a spur gear 362,

the clutch C- being energized by the limit switch LS6 (FIG. 7). The clutch C-S slips when the pressure of the needle assembly 158 on the finish 20 exceeds a predetermined amount. The screw 256 is driven upwardly when an electromagnetic clutch C-6 is energized, by a chain and sprocket set 364, the clutch C-6 being energized when the timer, started by the limit switch LS7 (FIG. 3), times out. The printing head and specifically the shaft 350 is driven when a wrap-spring clutch 366 is released and driven through one revolution by a sprocket and chain set 368 connected to the shaft 356. The one-revolution, wrap-spring clutch 366 is similar to the clutch 138 of FIG. 2 but has only one offset so that when the dog (not shown) is retracted momentarily by a solenoid (not shown), the clutch 366 travels through one full revolution. This rotates the cam 346 through one revolution to move the printing head 318 through one complete cycle. The solenoid for the clutch 138 is energized by the limit switch LS7 (FIG. 3).

The tape drive drum 300 has a central shaft 370 which, in this instance, is driven through one-tenth of a revolution by a ten step wrap-spring clutch 372 which is similar to the clutches 138 and 366 but has 10 offsets. The clutch 372 will have a number of steps equal to the number of pairs of the teeth 304 on the feed roll 300 with that number, in turn, being determined by the diameter of the feed roll and width of the labels 50. Each arcuate movement of the feed roll 300 must be slightly in excess of the width of the label 50 to cause the label at the separating edge 294 (FIG. 7) to move from the tape 280 onto the barrel 16 at the station 48. When a dog (not shown) of the lO-step clutch 372 is momentarily released by a solenoid energized by the limit switch LS7 (FIG. 7), the clutch 372 is driven through a chain and sprocket set 376 connected to an intermediate shaft 378 having a lower spur gear 380 driven by a spur gear 382, a shaft 384, and a spur gear 386, the latter meshing with a drive spur gear 388 on the shaft 254. The indexing wheel shaft 54 is driven by a chain and sprocket set 390 from the intermediate shaft 378.

A limit switch LS10 (FIG. 1) is positioned to be engaged by any of the needles 162 on the syringes which have not been removed at the fourth station 52 or the first station 42. This shuts off the machine 10 to prevent damage.

Various modifications of the above described embodiment of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art and it is to be understood that such modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the invention, if they are within the spirit and the tenor of the accompanying claims.

I claim:

l. A machine for closing syringe barrels comprising indexing means having means to hold the syringe barrels and to carry them sequentially to an additional station from a first station at which the syringe barrels are received, the syringe barrels being closed at the additional station, means at the additional station for rotating the syringe barrels and affixing needle assemblies thereon, said rotating means comprising jaw means movable in a lineal path toward and away from the syringe barrels at the additional station for rotating said needle assemblies when engaged therewith, and means for sequentially feeding needle assemblies into the path of said jaw means with needles of the needle assemblies being substantially parallel to the path.

2. A machine according to claim 1 characterized by drive means including an electromagnetic clutch for moving said jaw in the path toward the syringe barrels, said electromagnetic clutch causing slipping when the pressure of said jaw and the needle assembly carried thereby on the syringe barrel exceeds a predetermined amount.

3. A machine for closing syringe barrels comprising an indexing wheel having openings to receive the syringe barrels and to carry them sequentially to an additional station from a first station at which the syringe barrels are received, the syringe barrels being closed at the additional station, means at the additional station for rotating the syringe barrels and affixing needle assemblies thereon, said affixing means comprising a crimping member mounted in a fixed position and having a flange positioned to extend toward and below finishes of the syringe barrels, said flange being effective to force inwardly lower annular edges of hubs of the needle assemblies, and each of said openings of said indexing wheel also having a flange positioned to extend toward and below the finishes of the syringe barrel assemblies.

4. A machine according to claim 3 characterized by feed means for feeding labels having adhesive surfaces into contact with the syringe barrels during rotation thereof, and means for imprinting indicia on the labels prior to feeding them into contact with the syringe barrels.

5. A machine according to claim 3 characterized by feed means for feeding labels having adhesive surfaces into contact with the syringe barrels during rotation thereof, said labels being of elongate shape and fed by said feed means in positions in which they are substantially parallel to said syringe barrels.

6. A machine according to claim 5 characterized by said labels being on a tape and disposed in uniformly spaced relationship transversely to the longitudinal extent of said tape.

7. Apparatus for crimping closure members on ends of containers, said apparatus comprising means for supporting the containers in a predetermined crimping position, means for supplying containers to the crimping position, a magazine for holding a plurality of closure members and having means for sequentially moving the closure members to a position aligned with an end of a container at the crimping position, and means for moving the aligned closure member in a straight line directlyfrom the magazine to the end of the aligned container and for affixing the closure member to the end of the aligned container.

8. Apparatus according to claim 7 characterized by said moving and affixing means including a jaw for engaging the closure members, and drive means for rotating said jaw.

9. Apparatus according to claim 7 characterized by said moving and affixing means including supporting means movable toward and away from the aligned container, means for supporting said magazine from said supporting means in a direction toward the containers, said magazine being movable with said supporting means for a portion of the distance which said supporting means moves toward the containers.

10. Apparatus for crimping closure members comprising needles and hubs on containers, said apparatus comprising means for holding a closure member in alignment with a container, means for rotating the cloby said hubs having shoulders and said guide sleeve having a circular edge of a size to contact said shoulders.

12. Apparatus according to claim 10 characterized by means for supporting a plurality of said closure members in a line, and a means for sequentially urging said closure members toward said holding means and into the path of said moving means.

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Referenced by
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US5884457 *Feb 5, 1997Mar 23, 1999Smithkline Beecham CorporationMethod and apparatus for automatically producing a plurality of sterile liquid filled delivery devices
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US6813868Aug 10, 2001Nov 9, 2004Baxa CorporationMethod, system, and apparatus for handling, labeling, filling and capping syringes
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Classifications
U.S. Classification29/775, 53/306, 53/136.1, 53/137.2, 29/777, 53/341, 53/282
International ClassificationB65C9/08, A61M5/178, A61J1/00, B65B3/00, B67C7/00, B65C9/18, A61J1/20, A61J1/14
Cooperative ClassificationA61J1/2096, A61J2001/201, A61M5/1782, B65C9/1869, B65B3/003, B67C7/00, A61M2207/00
European ClassificationB65C9/18B2, B67C7/00, B65B3/00B, A61M5/178F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 24, 1984AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: GESS, LARRY C.
Owner name: L.C. GESS INC., A CORP OF OHIO
Effective date: 19840518
May 24, 1984ASAssignment
Owner name: L.C. GESS INC., A CORP OF OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:GESS, LARRY C.;REEL/FRAME:004266/0503
Effective date: 19840518