US 3795346 A
A feeding mechanism for containers in a stack which includes means to alternately grip and release first and second containers in the stack and to forcibly eject the lower container therefrom. The means to eject the container comprises arms movable in a vertical arc and having movable container engaging pressure shoes thereon.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
States Patent [191 Roberts et al. 1 Mar. 5, 1974  APPARATUS FOR DISPENSKNG ARTICLES 2,445,958 7/1948 Lindstrom 221 223 FRQM A STACK THEREOF 76 l t T V. R b 1 men Ors i fi g fif zbggg gzfig Primary ExaminerStanley H. Tollberg Snelling, 1373 Randall Rd., Aurora, Ill. 60506  Filed: Nov. 9, 1972  ABSTRACT  Appl. No.: 305,010
. A feeding mechanism for containers in a stack which 52 us. Cl. 221/223 includes means to alternately p and release first and  Int. Cl. B65g 59/06 Second Containers in the Stack and t0 forcibly eject the 5g Fie|d of S h 221/223 221 220 251 2 0 lower container therefrom. The means to eject the 221/238 container comprises arms movable in a vertical arc and having movable container engaging pressure shoes  References Cited thereon- UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,601,282 8/1971 Vogel 221/251 12 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures APPARATUS FOR DISPENSING ARTICLES FROM A STACK THEREOF The invention relates to improvements in a cup vending mechanism for vending machines or the like, and is particularly concerned with machines for feeding containers, such as foam polystyrene cups, from a stack of nested containers.
Various types of vending mechanisms have been devised for feeding a cup or the like from the bottom of a stack of such cups, but owing to the tendency of foam polystyrene containers to adhere one to the other because of static electricity, no known mechanism has been developed to vend such containers one at a time efficiently.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide improved container vending mechanism.
Another object'is to provide novel means to retain the lowermost container in a stack of such containers in positionuntil positively released therefrom.
Another object is to provide novel means to apply positive force against released bottom container in a stack of containers to insure its separation from the stack and its discharge. I
Another object is to cyclically release a container from the bottom of a stack and then forcibly eject said container from the stack;
Another object is to provide a container feeding mechanism which is-positive in its operation, inexpensive to construct and maintain serviceable and very efficient in use.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent ,with reference to the following description and accompanyingdrawings.
In the drawings: I FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the cup feeding mechanism.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view thereof.
FIG. 3 is an elevational view of the mechanism viewed along line 33 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged detail elevational view of the container gripping and release mechanism, showing it in cup release position.
FIG. 5 is a detail elevational view of a modified form of pusher mechanism.
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 1, showing a modified form of container gripping and release mechanism.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged detail elevational view of the container gripping and release mechanism shown in FIG. 6, illustrating it in container release position.
FIG. 8 is a plan view of the mechanism shown in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an elevational view of a modified form of cup ejection mechanism.
Referring to the exemplary form of the invention shown in the accompanying drawings, and particular in FIGS. 1 through 4, the container gripping and'feeding mechanism is supported on a base 11 having a container vending opening 12 therein through which the bottom end of a stack of containers 13, here shown a foam polystyrene cups, projects.
Mounted firmly on base 11 and arranged on diametrically opposed sides of the stack 13 are a pair of up standing supports 14, each of which mounts cup gripping and releasing mechanism generally indicated at 15, and cup ejecting mechanism indicated generally at 16.
The cup gripping and releasing mechanism 15 on each side of the stack is substantially identical and like numerals are used to identify corresponding parts. As shown, said mechanism includes a pair of slides 17 arranged one above the other, and horizontally reciprocable in the related support 14. Each is connected as by a link 18, to a rocker arm 19 journalled on a fixed pivot as at 21. The pivot 21 is adjustable by having its mounted end screw-threaded, as at 21a, into the standard 14. This permits adjustment of-the effective pressure of the slides on the containers.
The forward or free end of each slide 17 carries a cup engaging element or plate 22 that is shaped on its forward edge to nest snuggly against the cups in the stack. In the position illustrated in FIG. 1, the lowermost slide 17 has its plate22 bearing against the lowermost cup in the stack so as toprevent it from inadvertent displacement downwardly. When the position of the upper and lower slides is reversed, by means to be described presently, the lowermost slide is withdrawn and the uppermost slide is carried forwardly into engagement with the next successive cup in the stack. This releases the lowermost cup for discharge upon actuation of the cup ejection mechanism 16, while the next succeeding cup is held against discharge.
Operation of the slides is accomplished preferably by means of a solenoid controlled linkage now to be described. Upon reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, it will be observed that the rocker arm 19 at the left hand side of FIG. 1, is connected directly with a solenoid 23 mounted on base 11. Said rocker arm carries a depend ing extension 19a connected, as by a tie rod 24 and linkage 25-26 to a like extension 19b on the other diametrically opposed rocker arm 19. g It will thus become apparent that when the solenoid 23 is energized both rocker arms move in unison to carry the upper slides 17 into engagement with the stack of cups and withdraw the lowermost slides from such engagement. This is shown in FIG. 4. When the solenoid is de-energized, a spring 27 returns the parts to their initial positions.
With the lowermost cup in the stack now released from the holding effect of the lowermost slide, the cup ejection mechanism is actuated. This ejection mechanism may be carried on a pivot rod 28 carried on the top side of one of the supports 14. As shown, the rod mounts at each end an arm 29 which extends forwardly one on each side of the stack of cups and each of which carries a resiliently mounted pressure shoe 31 that overlies the upper edge of the lowermost cup. Specifically, a coil spring 31a connects the arm 29 to its shoe 31.
- One of the arms 29 has a rearwardly projecting extension 32 which mounts a follower roller 33 that rides on an eccentric 34. The eccentric 34 is mounted firmly on the shaft 35 of an electric motor 36. Thus, when the motor is cyclically operated the eccentric will cause arms 29 to rock downwardly into the dotted line position shown in F IG. 1, to thereby forcibly eject the lowermost cup from the stack and down through the base opening 12. A spring 37 or other suitable means, operates to retain the follower roller 33 in contact with the eccentric at all times. Because of the resilient mounting of the pressure shoes 31, said shoes will, during return movement of the arms 29, snap into seating position over the edge of the next succeeding cup.
Sequential timed operation of the gripping and release mechanism and the cup ejection mechanism 16 is controlled by manual or automatic switch mechanism of known construction.
As an alternate structure to the spring loaded pressure shoes 31, a spring pressured cup engaging element 38, shown in FIG. 5, may be used. This element has a nib 39 that engages over the upper edge of the cup by reason of its weighted tail portion 41. When carried upwardly, upon return of the arm 29, it rides freely over the cup surface and comes to rest with its nib firmly engaged over the edge of the next succeeding cup.
Referring now to the modified form of cup gripping means shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, said mechanism comprises a block 42 firmly mounted on a rod 43 that is journalled in spaced standards 44. The block mounts on its upper and lower faces a pair of cup engaging fingers 45-46 respectively. As shown, these fingers alternately grip and release the cups in the stack when the block 42 is oscillatably rotated about its axis 43. Such movement may be accomplished by providing a follower arm 47 on rod 43 (FIG. 6) which is associated with an eccentric 48.
The fingers 45-46 preferably are adjustably secured to block 42 by means of lock screws 49 extending into the block through a slot 51 in the finger. Thus, the effective gripping pressure may be adjusted to accommodate variations in the cup diameter. The cup ejection mechanism illustrated is like that previously described and like numerals identify corresponding parts.
Upon reference to FIG. 9, it will be observed that a plurality of pressure shoes 31 (or elements 38) may be provided to insure uniform pressure on the upper edge of the cups to be ejected. As shown, two such shoes are provided, they being carried on a plate 52 supported on the free ends of parallel arms 53, the other ends of which are journalled in support 14. It should be evident that when arms 53 are urged downwardly, as through action of the eccentric means illustrated in FIG. 1, the shoes 31 will bear uniformly on the cup edge and cause straight down pressure. Of course, more than two shoes 31 may be provided without altering the basic structure.
Although we have described preferred embodiments of our invention, in considerable detail, it will be understood that the description thereof is intended to be illustrative, rather than restrictive, as details of the structure may be modified or changed without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Accordingly, we do not desire to be restricted to the exact construction illustrated and described.
1. A container feeding mechanism comprising a base having an aperture for the disposition and passage of a nested stack of containers, upstanding supports on said base one on each side of the stack, a pair of vertically spaced container gripping plates mounted on each of said supports, the lower plate of each pair normally engaging the bottom container in the stack, means to reposition said plates so as to disengage the lower plate of each pair from the bottom container and to carry the upper plate of each pair into engagement with the next succeeding container in the stack, and separate means including operably connected pivotally mounted arms located on opposite sides of the stack, and pressure shoes resiliently mounted on said arms, means moving said arms to yieldingly exert a downward force by said shoes against the bottom container when the lower plates are disengaged from said container so as to eject the bottom container from the stack.
2. The mechanism recited in claim 1, in which the gripping plates are horizontally slideable in the supports.
3. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein each pair of gripping plates is mounted on an oscillatably rotatable block.
4. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the means to reposition the plates comprises a solenoid.
5. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein linkage operably connects the pairs of plates for operation in unison.
6. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein an eccentric and follower is provided to actuate the means to exert downward pressure on the container.
7. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the spacing of the gripping plates from the stack of containers may be adjusted.
8. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the pairs of gripping plates are horizontally slideable in the supports, and common means is provided to cause their repositioning in unison, said common means comprising connecting linkage and means to actuate said linkage.
9. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the gripping plates in each pair of plates are selectively moveable into and out of engagement with the containers in the stack, and said pairs of plates are operably connected for movement in unison.
10. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the separate means comprises a parallelogram carrying a plurality of pressure shoes and operating to insure straight-down pressure on the container to be ejected.
11. The mechanism recited in claim 1, wherein the arms carry spring elements to which the pressure shoes are attached.
12. The mechanism recited in claim 1 wherein the arms are moveable through a vertical arc.