US 3812642 A
A method and apparatus for packaging a product with tubular encasing material. A leading length of the encasing material is placed over one end of an open-ended tubular member. The product is inserted through the other end of the tubular member and the tubular member is then withdrawn from the product and the leading length of the encasing material. Additive material can be added to the product before, during or after withdrawal of the tubular member. The tubular member may be employed to package material without a casing by moving it relative to a closure member to form a container and then moving it away from a product inserted in the so-formed product. Apparatus is provided for adding material to a product. The apparatus includes injection members which are open at one end. The one end of the injection members are inserted into a product and then withdrawn while injecting material into the product. The material adding apparatus can be adapted to feed the product into the tubular member. The material adding apparatus could be used in conjunction with the packaging apparatus, with or without casing material, or independently thereof. Apparatus is also provided for moving casing material onto a member such as the tubular member employing stretchable material. The packaging apparatus, employing a casing and the additive apparatus can also be adapted for vacuum packaging.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Mintz et a].
1 1 May 28, 1974 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING A PRODUCT  Inventors: Marcus Mintz, Burlington, Vt.;
Bernard H. Engelhardt, Dollard Des Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada  Assignee: Industrial Knitting, lnc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada 221 Filed: Dec. 16,1971
21 Appl. No.: 208,728
 Foreign Application Priority Data Dec. 21, 1970 Great Britain 60695/70 Oct. l, 1971 Canada .IIITIT. 12.4249
 US. Cl 53/21 R,,53/29, 53/183, 53/258  Int. Cl B65!) 9/10, B65b 63/00  Field of Search 53/21 R, 22 B, 29, 35,
53/37,1l1 R, 112 R, 112 B, 124 B, 124 C, 183, 255, 257, 258, 260, 261, 390; 99/174-176 3,662,514 5/1972 Goss 53/193 X Primary Examiner-Robert L. Spruill Attorney, AgntQbi Fifni AlanSwabey tQ Co.
 ABSTRACT A method and apparatus for packaging a product with tubular encasing material. A leading length of the encasing material is placed over one end of an openended tubular member. The product is inserted through the other end of the tubular member and the tubular member is then withdrawn from the product and the leading length of the encasing material. Additive material can be added to the product before, during or after withdrawal of the tubular member. The tubular member may be employed to package material without a casing by moving it relative to a closure member to form a container and then moving it away from a product inserted in the so-formed product. Apparatus is provided for adding material to a product. The apparatus includes injection members which are open at one end. The one end of the injection members are inserted into a product and then withdrawn while injecting material into the product. The material adding apparatus can be adapted to feed the product into the tubular member. The material adding apparatus could be used in conjunction with the packaging apparatus, with or without casing material, or independently thereof. Apparatus is also provided for moving casing material onto a member such as the tubular member employing stretchable material. The packaging apparatus, employing a casing and the additive apparatus can also be adapted for vacuum packaging.
12 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PAIENTEDIAY 28 mm (1812.642
sum 2 0F 6 I FIG. 2
SHEET 5 OF 6 FIG. 8
PATENTEDHAY 28 Ian SHEEI 8 BF 6 S mm a \WN WNW mm 6E METI-IOUAND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING A PRODUCT BACKGROUND OF INVENTION I with or without tubular encasing material.
The invention, in another embodiment, is directed to a method and an apparatus for adding material to a product, particularly processed meat, during, or subsequent to, the packaging of the meat.
2. Description of the Prior Art The packaging of meat products with tubular encasing material, such as, for example, natural or synthetic film, or circumferentially stretchable netting, is usually done bycutting a section of the material from a supply source and manually placing this section completely onto the outer surface of an open-ended, fixed, loading cylinder. The material is usually pulled onto the cylinder from one end of the cylinder. If the material used is stretchable netting, the cylinder is sized to stretch the netting circumferentially as the netting is pulled on. One end of the netting section is then pulled off the one end of the cylinder a short distance allowing it to collapse and effectively close the one end of the cylinder. The meat product to be packaged is then fed into the loading cylinder through its other end and simultaneously packed under pressure to shape it within the cylinder and to push it out of the cylinder from the one end into the one end of the netting. Continued packing and pushing moves the product out of the fixed cylinder from the one end while also drawing off a length of the section of circumferentially stretched netting from the cylinder. This length, when drawn off, tightly encompasses the meat product to retain its shape imparted by packing in the cylinder. When all of the meat product has been pushed out of the cylinder, the drawn-off length of netting encompassing the product, is cut adjacent the one end of the cylinder to separate the now packaged product from the remainder of the section of netting still remaining on the cylinder. The operation is repeated until the section of netting on the cylinder has been used up. When this occurs, a new section is cut off from the supply source and manually loaded onto the cylinder.
The method has numerous disadvantages. The encasing material must be loaded onto the cylinder manually in sections. Since only a certain quantity of material can be manually loaded onto the loading cylinder at one time, replacement of the material section is frequent. Thus, the method is relatively slow. The method is also relatively slow due to the manual handling required in pulling off a length of the material from the cylinder. The method can also result in a waste of material since the length of material is manually pulled off the loading cylinder and thus more material than that needed to properly package the product can, at times,.
be pulled off. In addition, the product, in being packed and pushed out of the cylinder directly into the material, can result in the leading end of the product being deformed into a conical shape as a result of the material, if stretchable, squeezing about the product. The conical end of the product is not always commercially acceptable and can constitute waste.
Some meat products can now be packaged without employing any casing material. These meat products are usually, though not necessarily always, in flake form. The flaked meat products are formed under relatively high pressure into the final desired shape or package in a chamber and then ejected from the chamber. The pressure employed in forming the flaked meat product is sufflcient to enable the final shaped package to retain its shape when ejected from the chamber with out the need of encasing material. The apparatus employed, however, is expensive. Also, the apparatus cannot be adapted to package meat products which require tubular encasing material, if required. Thus, a meat processor must employ different machines to provide meat products with or without encasing material thereby adding to the overall cost of processing meat products.
In packaging meat products, additives-are sometimes added to the products. The additives can, for example, comprise cures (curing solutions) or spices to improve or provide a distinctive flavour to the meat product. One known manner of adding the additives to the meat product is to insert one or more hollow needles into the packaged meat product so that the needles extend substantially throughout the length of the product. The needles have a plurality of spaced apart outlet openings throughout that portion of their length inserted into the product. The additive, in the form of a spice carrying fluid, for example, is then pumped through the hollow needles to diffuse into the meat.
The method has disadvantages. For example, the fluid will enter into the meat from the needles at those openings in the needles where the least resistance is encountered. Thus, the distribution of the additives throughout the meat product can be uneven if the density of the meat is not uniform. If the additive fluid is unevenly distributed throughout the product, its flavour will vary throughout its length. In addition, some of the additive fluid could be lost from those areas where air pockets are formed, and in which pockets the fluid is concentrated if the meat product is subjected to a curing step, thus resulting in a variation in weight between the final cured products. Also, the meat processor may require a separate piece of equipment and/or an additional operator, in addition to packaging equipment, to add the additives in the manner described above, thus increasing the overall cost of processing the meat product.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION aged. Preferably, the method and apparatus employed provides a packaged product which is substantially flat at both ends.
It is also the purpose of the present invention to package a product with the aid of a movable tubular member or filling horn which is moved relative to the final product and which can be employed to provide a final product with or without tubular encasing material.
It is a further purpose of the present invention to add additives to a product, such as formable material, particularly processed meat, in a manner which ensures more uniform distribution of the additives throughout the product.
The invention, in one aspect, is particularly directed toward a method for packaging a product with tubular encasing material which comprises mechanically placing a leading length of the material over one end of an open-ended, tubular member and onto its outer surface, inserting the product to be packaged within the member from its other open end, and withdrawing the member from the leading length of the encasing mate rial and the product to permit the encasing material to substantially enclose the product.
The method preparably includes the step of separating the leading length of the encasing material from the remainder thereof. v
Preferably, the product is confined, under apressure which can be controlled, within the tubular 'member prior to withdrawal of themember to pack and shape the product.
The product, consistingof one or two different types of material, can be manually inserted or loaded into the tubular member, or, if desired, automatically under a predetermined pressure.
in addition, the product, during or after inserting within the tubular member, or preferably during withdrawal of the member therefrom, can have additives added thereto.
The invention is also directed to an apparatus for packaging a product with tubular encasing material, which apparatus includes an open-ended, tubular member, means for placing a leadinglength of the encasing material over one end of the tubular member onto its surface, and means for moving the tubular member to withdraw it from the leading length of the encasing material and a product, loaded into the member from its other end thereby permitting the encasing material to substantially enclose the product. p
The apparatus can include means forsevering the leading length of material enclosing the product from the remainder thereof.
The apparatus can also include means for packing the product loaded in themember.
The apparatus can also include means for loading the product into the member.
The apparatus can also comprise an open-ended, tubular member, means for placing a leading length of tubular, encasing material over one end of the tubular member onto its surface, means for moving the tubular member to withdraw it from the leading length of material, and means for feeding the product through the tubular member into the leading length of material before, during or afterwithdrawal of the member.
The apparatus can further include means for adding additives to the material to be packaged during, or after, loading into the tubular member, or preferably during withdrawal of the member from the product.
The invention, in another aspect, is directed toward a method for packaging a product including the steps of moving a tubular member relative to a closure memberto form a container, inserting the product into the container, and moving the tubular member away from the product. Preferably, the product is packed under pressure after insertion into the container. If desired, material can be added to the product before, during or after movement of the tubular member away from the product.
The invention is also directed toward an apparatus for packaging a product comprising a tubular member, means for moving the tubular member relative to a closure member to form a container, and means for moving the tubular member away from a product inserted into the container. Preferably, the apparatus includes product, pressure, packing means. The apparatus can also include means for adding additives to the product before, during or after movement of the tubular mem ber away from the product.
The invention, in a further aspect, is directed to a method for'adding material to a product which comprises the steps of inserting at least one feeding member, having an outlet'at its end, into the product, and withdrawing the feeding member from the product while substantially simultaneously feeding material from the outlet of the feeding member into the product.
The invention isfurther directed toward a device for feeding material into a product comprising material injector means, means for moving the material injector means into an out of a product, and means for feeding material outof the injector means into the product during movement of the injector means out of the product.
- other end of the chamber for feeding material out of the chamber, and means for moving the member relative to the piston whereby when the member is moved away from the piston to enlarge the size of the chamber, material'is fed into the chamber from the inlet means, and when the member is moved toward the piston to reduce the size of the chamber,.material is fed out of the chamber through the outlet means.
The invention is also directed to a method for vacuum packaging a product with tubular, encasing material comprising:
placing a leading length of the encasing material over one end of an open end of an open-ended tubular member,
inserting the product to be packaged into the tubular member,
reducing the pressure in the tubular member; and
withdrawing the member from the leading length of encasing material and the product toallow thematerial to enclose the product.
The-invention is further directed toan apparatus for vacuum packaging as above.
The invention further relates to an apparatus for moving tubular material onto a carrying member. The apparatus includes means carrying a, stretchable member. One of the carrying means and member are movable relative to the other. Means are provided for selectively biasing the stretchable member toward the carrying member to hold tubular material, located between the carrying means and member, stationary with respect to the carrying means during relative movement between the carrying means and the carrying member.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention will now be described in detail having reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a view of the apparatus used for packaging a product with tubular encasing material;
FIG. 2 is a partial view of the guide means for the encasing material carrying means and the encasing mate rial transfer means;
FIG. 2A is a cross-sectional view of another form of transfer means;
FIG. 2B is a partial schematic view of the transfer means shown in FIG. 2A;
FIG. 3 is a view of the carrying means;
FIG. 4 is a detail, partial cross-section view of a portion of the carrying means and one of the encasing material transfer means;
FIG. 5 is a top view of one of the transfer means;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the pneumatic system;
FIGS. 7A, 7B, 7C, 7D and 7E are schematic views showing the sequence of operation of the apparatus;
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view-of a device for use in feeding material, and particularly suited for adding additives to the meat product; and
FIGS. 9A, 9B, 9C and 9D are schematic views showing the operation of the device in FIG. 8.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In a preferred aspect, the machine 1, as shown in FIG. 1, includes a main vertical frame 3 extending from a'base 5. Movably carried on the upper portion of the follow, reference will be made to the encasing material as being circumferentially stretchable netting, with it being understood that other suitable types of encasing material can be employed as well. The guide device 27 preferably is formed by four substantially vertical rods 33, each attached at their upper end to plate 19, and bent inwardly at their lower end 37 to be joined at a central bottom point 39 to the other rods. The rods 33, when viewed in cross-section, are arranged in a square pattern. When using circumferentially stretchable netting, the guide device 27 preferably stretches the netting received thereon.
A transition member 41 of resilient material is attached to the bottom of the plate 19 by suitable means (not shown) having a cylindrical collar 43 extending up and around the upper surface 21 of the plate 19. The lower end 45 of the transition member 4I tapers inwardly, and the rods 33 pass through apertures 47, adjacent the cylindrical collar 43, in the tapered lower end 45 of the member to connect to the plate. I
Located below the carrying member 17 are movable support means 48 mounted on frame 3 by an arm 49. The support means 48 can comprise a ring 51 attached by a rod 52 to the arm 49. The ring 51 serves to move the floating carrying member 17 during a portion of its movement as will be described.
The carrying member 17 is guided for vertical floating movement relative to the frame 3 by guide means 55 fixed to the frame, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The guide means 55 preferably comprise four guide posts, each consisting of a vertical angle member 59. The angle members 59 are positioned so that the rods 33 of the carrying member 17 are each located adjacent the inner comer 61 of a respective angle member. The
5 anglemembers 59 are maintained in a fixed position at frame 3 is an open-ended, tubular, loading member 7. 40
As shown, the loading member 7 is substantially cylindrical, but it can have other shapes as well.- The open upper end 9 of the cylindrical member 7 is preferably outwardly flared as shown, to make it easier to load it with the product to be packaged. The loading member 7 is carried by the frame 3 by a supporting arm 11 attached to a collar 13 fixed to the loading member 7 below its upper flared end 9.
Located below the lower open end 15 of the cylindrical loading member 7 is a floating, encasing material carrying member 17, as shown in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4. The
.carrying member 17 has, at its upper end, a circular plate 19 for receiving, in abutting relation on its upper surface, the lower end 15 of the loading member 7. The upper edge 23 of the plate 19 is preferably beveled, as shown in FIG. 4, to assist in centering the loading member 7 on the plate 19.
Extending down from the plate 19 is an elongated of tubular, encasing material from a supply reel. The encasing material employed can comprise any material suitable for operation with the machine such as, for example, natural or synthetic tubular casing. stretchable or unstretchable tubular netting. One suitable encasing material is circumferentially stretchable netting of the type shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,513,668, issued May 26, I970, to Marcus Mintz, inventor. In the description to the top by attachment to an outer encircling ring 63 connected to the frame by a pair of support arms 65 and at the bottom by being fixed tobase 5. Means 67 are provided for transferring the encasing material from the carrying member 17 onto the outer surface of the loading cylinder 7. These means can .comprise, when the encasing material is netting, four finger members 69 arranged about the periphery of the stretching member 17, as shown in FIG. 2. Each finger member 5 69, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, is preferably mounted guide device 27 for receiving thereona leading length 60 \on a mounting plate 71, fixed to a respective angle member 59, by supports 73 and a pivot pin 75. Each finger member 69 extends upwardly and inwardly and has a notch 77 in its leading upper end 79 to receive one of the guide rods 33. The leading end 79 of the tinger member extends inwardly past the rod 33 located in'the notch 77 to provide a pair of netting catching edges 81. A spring member 83 mounted between the lower end 85 of the finger and mounting plate 71 biases each finger inwardly against its respective rod 33. A lug 86 on the bottom of each finger can abut against plate 71 to maintain the fingers in a raised position when the rods 33 are moved out of the notches. When the encasing material comprises natural or synthetic tubular casing, for example, the transfer means 67 could comprise unnotched, rubber tipped finger members 69.
Severing means 91 are shown partially schematically in FIG. I. The severing means 91 are mounted on the frame 3 to encircle the cylindrical portion 43 of the transition member 41 on the closure member 17 directly above the fingers 69. The severing means 91 can comprise an annular frame 93 with any suitable severing apparatus not shown) mounted thereon. The severing apparatus could, for example; comprise movable members forming segments of a circle and having cutting edges, which members move similar to a shutter mechanism to reduce in diameter, bringing the cutting edges against transition member 41 tosever the cncas ing material about its circumference. The annular frame 93 is mounted-on main frame 3 bya pair of support rods 101. I I
Packing means 103 are mounted on-the frame 3 for assisting in packing or compressing the meat product in the loading member 7.'The packing means can com-- prise a circular plate 105,]having' a diameter nearly equal to the'inner diameter of the cylindricalloading 1 member 7 and mounted at the lower end of a vertical ever, vertical rod 107 is slidably connected to support arm 1.09. collar 108 on rod 107'prevents it fromi dropping through support arm 109."
Suitable means are provided for moving the-loading member 7 vertically withrcspect to the frame 3 andthe carrying member-.17 and for moving the carrying member 17 via support 48' vertically relative toframe- 3. During movement of the carrying member 17, it' is floating, guided-by guide means 55. The moving means can comprise a pneumatic system 121 arranged in part' in the vertical frame'3, as shown in F IG. 6. The system 121 includes a first hollow, elongated piston member 8 A line l81extends from inlet/outlet 169 to a second control valve 183 which can connect line- 181 to atmosphere through line 185 or a'source of compressed air Adjustable stops 191 are mounted from arms 65 of ring 63 cooperating with a plate 193 on support arm 49 i for limiting upward movement of support member 48.
I a reel 31 through ring 51 onto the carrying member 17.
rod 107 which can be rigidly eonnectedat its' upperend by-a support arm 109 to the frame 3. Preferably, how- The netting is pulled up'over the rods 33 thereby circumferentially stretching it and over the transition member 41' to extend past the fingers 69.
The initial positions of cylinder 7 and floating carrying member 17 is shown in FIG. 7A. To initiate operation of the machine, valve 183 is moved to connect chamber 165 to air under pressure from source 187. This causes the third piston 161 "to move down thus moving .down the second piston'141 and cylinder 7 connected thereto. Air in chamber 149 is vented through one-way relief'valve 157. Cylinder 7 abuts at its lower end against plate;19 on carrying member 17, as shown in FIG. 73. Valve 175 is now moved to vent line 173'and thus chamber 137, and both cylinder 7 and carrying member 17 are then moved to a bottom position as shown in FIG. 7C. Duringthis time, thefirst form a first chambe'r137. An inlet/outlet 139 is pro- Y vided in the bottom wall 1330f the .frame to chamber A second piston member 141 is slidably mounted with the first hollow piston 123 from. its open top end 143. The second piston 141 extends up-from within the first piston 123 and supporting arm 11' is attached through slot 127 to the side wall 145 of the second piston. The bottom wall 147 of the second piston, together with the side wall 125 and bottom wall 135 of the. first arm 1] bearing against arm 49. This permits the addi-,
piston 123 form a second chamber 149. A'seallSl is provided on side wall 145 of the second piston, cooperating with side wall 125 of the firt piston.
A first spring loaded one-way pressure relief valve, 153 normally closes a first aperture in the bottom lwall 135 of the first piston connecting the first and second chambers 137, 149. Asecond, spring-loaded, one-way pressure relief valve 157 normally closes a second a er,- ture in the bottom wall 135 of the first pis'tonconnect;
ing the first and secondchambers 137, 149.
A third piston 161, connected to the bottom wall 147 of the second piston 141 .by' an elongated rod 163 is mounted in 'a third chamber 165 formed by'a tubularmember 167 extending down into frame-3from the-top thereof. An inlet/outlet 169 is provided" into chamber 165 from the top thereof. A seal 171 is provided on pis-- ton 161.
chamber 137' vents through lines-173, 177 to atmosphere. I
During downward movement of both thecylinder 7 and carrying member 17, the stretched netting is maintained at its initial position by the fingers 69 of the transfer means 67. The leading edge 81 of each finger 69 catches the circumferentially extending yams of netting and prevents the leading length 28 from moving down with the cylinder 7. As the cylinder 7 does move down, the leading length 28 of netting moves onto its outer surface. in the meantime, an additional-length 28a of netting is being stretched by and onto the carry- .ing member 17 during its downward movement.
. The cylinder 7 and carrying member 17 move a distance sufficient to clear the stationary packing means 103 from within the cylinder 7. During downward movement of the carrying member 17, it floats freely 'within the guide means 55 and slightly above ring 51 which is moved down ahead of the carrying member by tional length 28a of netting to be freely drawn onto the carrying member through ring 51.
When in' the bottom position shown in FIG. 7C, a product, such as processed meat, is manually loaded from top end 9 into the cylinder 7, now closed at its bottom end byv plate 19 on the carrying member to form a container.
When loading is completed, valve 183 is moved to open line 181 and third chamber to atmosphere v and valve is moved to provide air under pressure to first chamber 137. Both pressure relief valves 153, 157 are closed. This now causes firstpiston 123, and support member-48 attached thereto, to move up. Cylinder 7 moves up as well, carried by arm 49 abutting on .arm 11. The carrying member 17, still slightly above ring 51, is floatingly carried up by the stretched netting which in turn is carried by cylinder 7.
As cylinder 7 moves up, it carries the stretchedleading length 28 of netting with it. Thefingers 69, pivoting upward, do not prevent the netting from moving in this direction. If the netting is not stretchable, suitable means, if necessary, may be provided to hold the encasing material on the cylinder 7 as it moves up.
At the end of upward movement of the cylinder 7 and carrying member 17, the meat hits plate 105 stopping movement of stretching member 17 for an instant until, upon continued movement of arm 11, ring 51 engages the bottom of the carrying member and causes the meat to be packed between plates 19 and 105. Plate 105, preferably being slidably mounted, is weighted down with removable weights (not shown) to permit packing of the meat, while still permitting it to move up to accommodate different lengths of meat between it and plate 19.
When stops 191 abut plate 193 preventing further movement of the carrying member, pressure builds up in the first chamber 137 until first one-way pressure relief valve 153 opens. When valve 153 opens, air is let into the second chamber 149 to raise second piston 141 and thus cylinder 7 attached to it away from closure plate 19, the meat product and leading length 28 of netting. The netting collapses about the meat product.
The netting is then severed circumferentially by the severing means 91 just below closure plate 19, the packaged product is removed from closure plate 19, and the machine is now ready for the next operation without having to manually stretch the netting until the entire reel 31 is used up.
While one form of severing means 91 and moving means 121 have been described, it is obvious that other suitable means can be used to provide the same function and operation. Also, while one form of carrying member construction has been described, the carrying member can be constructed in other forms suitable for carrying the encasing material prior to transferring it onto the cylinder.
In another embodiment, the transfer means 67 can, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 28, comprise a hollow member 90, in the shape of a ring, mounted on the angle members 67 in place of the fingers 69. The ring 90 has an inside diameter which is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the tubular member 7. Positioned about the inside surface 92 of the ring 90 is a stretchable membrane 94. The edges 96, 98 of the membrane are clamped between separate holding rings 100 and 102 and shoulders 104 and 106 respectively formed on the ring 90. The holding rings 100, 102 are detachably connected to the ring by bolts 108. A source of pressurized air (not shown) is connected by a line 110 by a bore 112 in ring 90 which opens on the inner surface 92 of the ring behind the membrane 94. A valve 114 in the line 110 controls flow of air into the bore 1 12 or exhausts air from bore 112 depending on the position of the valve.
The transfer means 67' is particularly suited for use with natural or synthetic casing material, such as plastic film or paper, for example.
In operation, as the tubular member 7 and the carrying member 17 are moved downwardly relative to the transfer means 67' from the positions shown in FIG. 78 to the positions shown in F IG. 7C, valve 114 is open to allow air under pressure to flow between the inside surface 92 of the ring and the stretchable membrane 94. Since the edges of the stretchable membrane are clamped, the membrane is stretched inwardly against the tubular member 7. The encasing material, located between the membrane and the tubular member 7, is
thus held stationary with respect to ring due to the pressure exerted by the stretchable membrane bearing toward the tubular member as the tubular member moves downwardly and is effectively moved onto the tubular member. When the casing material has been loaded onto the tubular member 7, as shown in FIG. 7C, valve 114 is opened to exhaust, and both the carrying member 17 and the tubular member 7 are raised to the position shown in FIG. 7D. The air located between the membrane and the inside surface 92 of the ring is exhausted so as to allow the membrane to collapse. The casing material which now surrounds the tubular member 7 is thus also carried upwardly with the tubular member without interference from the stretchable membrane which now lies flat against the inside surface 92 of the ring, thus providing clearance for the casing material to move up. The casing material will not slip down from the tubular member since ring 51 at the bottom of carrying member 17 prevents this.
While the transfer means 67' has been described in connection with the particular apparatus shown in FIG. 1, it could also be employed to transfer any type of tubular material onto a carrying member which is moved by means carrying the stretchablemembrane.
While the hollow member 90 has been shown as a circular ring, mounted to be concentric with the cylindrical tubular member 7, it will be obvious that the hollow member 90 can be of any shape, depending upon the cross-sectional shape of the tubular member 7. In addition, the member 90 need not completely encircle the tubular member 7.
The same apparatus shown in FIG. 1 can be employed to package meat without the use of encasing material. Some meat products, such as flaked meat, can be packaged, under sufficient pressure, to retain their shape without requiring encasing material. To package such meat, the same sequence of operation of the machine, as shown in FIGS. 7A to 7B, can be used with the exception that nonetting is fed to the machine. Thus, the machine elements are as shown initially in FIG. 7A, with the exception that carrying member 17 now rests against ring 51. Cylinder 7 is then moved down, as shown in FIG. 7B, to a position slightly above plate 19 on carrying member 17 but within collar 43 to form an open-ended container. In this position, arm 11 abuts against arm 49. Both cylinder 7 and plate 19 are then moved down together to a bottom position, as shown in FIG. 7C. This movement clears stationary packing means 103 from inside cylinder 7 and permits the meat product to be loaded into the container, formed by cylinder 7, collar 43 and plate 19, from flared cylinder end 9.
When loading is completed, support member 48, carrying plate 19, is moved up carrying with it cylinder 7 to a position shown in FIG. 7D. During this step, ring 51 still abuts against carrying member 17 and causes the meat to be packed between plate 19 and packing means 103 to the required degree as can be determined by the weights on plate 105. When the meat has been packed to the required degree, valve 153 opens to cause cylinder 7 to be raised away from closure plate 19, and the meat product held between plate 19 and packing means 103, to the position shown in FIG. 7B. Once cylinder 7 is raised sufficiently to clear the meat product, the meat product is removed.
If desired, the rod 52 carrying ring'Sl can be adjustably mounted on arm 49 permitting it to be raised or lowered. Thus, the ring 51 can be positioned relative to the guide device 27 to provide a slight gap therebetween when employing casing material, or it can be positioned to always abut against the guide device 27 when not employing casing material so as to permit tubular member 7 to abut directly against plate 19 when arm11 abuts arm 49.
The apparatus shown in FIG. 1 can, if desired, be readily adapted to not only package a product such as meat, with or without encasing material, but during packaging to add additives, such as, for example, spices in a liquid carrier, into the meat product. To this end, the packing means 103 shown in FIG. 1 are replaced by material feeding means 201, as shown in FIG. 8. The material feeding means 201 includes a main tubular body member 203 sized to fit snugly within the cylinder 7. The tubular body member 203 is attached to the main vertical frame 3 by a collar 205 and a support arm 207. The ends of the tubular member 203 are closed by removable end walls 209, 211. A first piston member 213 is movably mounted in tubular member 203. The
piston member 213 is hollow to provide a first material chamber 215. One end 217 of the piston member 213, which projects from the upper end wall 211 of body member 203 through an aperture 219 is open;
' A second fixed piston member 221 is positioned in first chamber 215 within piston member 213 through its open end 217. Second piston member has a bore 223 extending through its shaft 225 and head 227. The piston member 221 is fixed to tubular member 203 by a collar 229 attached on the free end 231 of shaft 225 and support arms 233 extending from the collar 229 and fixed on upper end wall 211.
First piston member 213 has an enlarged second material chamber 235 in communication with first chamber 215. At least one and preferably a plurality of hollow material feeding members 237 extend from second chamber 235. The hollow members 237 can have a needle-like configuration and have at least one, and preferably two, openings 239 in their wall adjacent their free end 241. The hollow members 237 are aligned with openings 243 in the bottom end wall 209 to pass therethrough.
Means are provided for moving the first piston member 213 relative to body member 203-and second piston member 221. These means can comprise a fluid chamber 245 formed in body member 203 between end wall 211 and an intermediate wall 247 havingan opening 249 through which the first piston member 213 passes. A piston flange 251 is carried by the first piston member 213 for operation in fluid chamber 245. Ports.
253, 255 in walls 211 and 247 respectively provide for the admission andexhaust of fluid into the chamber A line 257 is connected at one end to bore 223 at the free end of shaft 225 in fixed piston member 221. The line 257 has a oneway valve 259 therein and is connected at its other end to a material supply. source (not shown). I 7
Suitable sealing means 261 are provided between paratus 1 in the position shown in FIG. 9B. In this position, valve 259 in line 257 is opened. The opening of this valve 259 could be controlled by sensing a build-up of pressure in first chamber 137 of apparatus 1 to a value below that at which relief valve 153 opens. Substantially simultaneously, a valve 265 in line 267 leading to port 253 is opened to admit fluid, such as compressed air, from a pressure source 269 into fluid chamber 245, and a valve 271 in line 273 connected to port 255 is opened to exhaust. This causes first piston member 213 to move down inserting hollow members 237 into the meat held between face 263 and plate 19. This movement also enlarges first material chamber 215 causing material to be drawn in through open line 257 fromthe supply source into first chamber 215 through bore 223. If, in some cases, the reduced pressure created in chamber 215 is not sufficient to draw the desired amount of material into chamber 215, the material could be pumped in through line 257.
After the hollow members 237 have been inserted into the meat to a position shown in FIG. 9A, valve 259 is closed, valve 265 is opened to exhaust, and valve 271 connects port 255 to pressure source 269. This now causes first piston member 213 to move'up. Thismovement is initiated substantially simultaneously with, and
could be controlled by, *the opening of relief valve 153 v which moves tubular member 7 away from plate 19 and the meat product. As piston 213 moves up withdrawing hollow members 237 from the meat, the-material now in first chamber 215 is forced out, as chamber 215 reduces in size, through communicating chamber 235,
' members 237 and their openings 239 into the meat. As
the members237 move up to the position shown in FIG. 9B at a substantially uniform rate, material is injected into the meat to be substantially uniformly distribute'd'throughout its length.
If the material being added to the meat is fluid, such as spice carrying fluid, the meat, being uncovered by the tubular member 7 as the fluid is being added, can expand to accommodate the fluid, while still being retained by the stretchable netting. Preferably, the members 237 are withdrawn at substantially the same rate as the tubular member 7 is raised.
The material feeding means 201 can be readily adjusted to add material to meat products of different length, the length of the product being taken as the distance between plate 19 (in its raised position) and face 263. The support arm 207 is merely raised or lowered on frame 3 with respect to plate 19. To ensure, however, that the hollow members will always be moved down to a position located a predetermined distance a from the plate 19, irrespective of whether body memfixed piston head 227 and the walls of first chamber 215; walls 211, 247 and first piston member 213; and piston flange 251 and the walls of fluid chamber 245.
In operation, the lower face 263 of end wall 209 functionsas the packing means 103 in apparatus 1. The meat inserted into tubular member 7 is packed between face 263 and closure plate 19 with the elements of apber 203, and its end face 263,.is located near or far from plate 19, suitable control means are'provided.
The control means comprise a switch 281 mounted on frame 3. An actuating arm 283 is mounted adjacent the free end 217 of piston member 213. The switch 281 is used to control the movement of first piston member 213. Switch 281 can operate, valves 265 and 271 to close both so as to stop downward movement of piston member 213 when actuated by arm 283. The switch 281 is always mounted on the frame 3 in the same position relative to plate 19 regardless of the position of the feeding means 201. Thus, even though the feeding means 201 is moved down toward plate 19 to accommodate a shorter length of meat, as shown in FIG. 9C, switch 281 remains a predetermined distance from plate 19. When first piston member 213 is now actuated, less movement is required than for a longer piece of meat, to insert the hollow members 237 into the meat to a position adjacent plate 19. This is achieved when arm 283, starting from a lower position than for a longer piece of meat, hits switch 281 as shown in FIG. 9D.
Since switch 281 effectively controls the distance first piston member 213 moves, it also controls the amount by which first chamber 215 is enlarged and thus, in turn, controls the amount of material drawn into chamber 215 from line 257. Thus controlling the distance the hollow members 237 are inserted into the meat also automatically controls feeding the proper amount of material into the meat. For a long piece of meat, the hollow members move a greater distance into the meat, and thus the feeding means automatically supply a greater amount of material to chamber 215 than for a shorter piece of meat which requires less movement of hollow members 237 and correspondingly less material fed into chamber 215.
A valve 285 can be provided in passage 287 connecting chambers 215, 235. The valve 285 is closed during downward movement of first piston member 213. This prevents air from being drawn up from the meat through openings 239 and hollow members 237 as chamber 215 is being enlarged. The valve 285 is opened just before downward movement of piston member 213 is completed. During upward movement of piston member 213, valve 285 is closed just prior to completion of its movement. The valve 285 can be operated electrically and controlled in its operation by suitable limit switches 287, 289 adjustably mounted on frame 3 a distance spaced apart corresponding to the stroke of piston member 213 and actuated by an arm 291 carried by piston member 213.
The feeding means 201 shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 can be employed to feed the meat product directly into the tubular member 7 when closed by the closure plate 19. In this embodiment, the meat product is drawn through line 257 into chamber 215 in the required amount during downward movement of piston member 213 and is then forced out of chamber 215 through hollow members 237 during upward movement of piston member 213. The meat product forms a package in thevspace between plate 19 and end face 263 and can be retained therein by encasing material or by delaying upward movement of tubular member 7 relative to upward movement of piston member 213, if required. The chamber 215 and hollow members 237 are sized to readily deliver the required charge of meat to form a package, and the free ends 241 of the hollow members could be completely open. The meat product, when fed in this manner, must be flowable but not so viscous as to prevent it from retaining its shape as defined by tubular member 7 or encasing material.
While the feeding means 201 has been described-as a replacement for the packing means 105 in apparatus 1 as shown in FIG. 1, it is obvious that it can be used independently of apparatus 1 to add material to any product. If, for example, meat has already been packaged in a different manner, the meat package can be placed under feeding means'201, and supported thereunder by a fixed plate or other suitable means replacing tubular member 7 and plate 19. The feeding means 201 is then operated in the same manner as previously described to add material, such as spice carrying fluid, to the meat package.
The apparatus shown in FIG. I can also be employed to assemble and package products consisting of two or more materials. For example, some processed meat products are improved with the addition of strips of fat or bacon on their outer surface. The tubular member 7 permits strips of fat or bacon to be placed down its inner surface when in the position shown in FIG. 7C immediately before the processed meat is inserted therein. The strips can be maintained in position by draping them over the upper edge 9 of tubular member 7 or other suitable means.
The packer plate 105, closure plate 19 and face 263 of end wall 209 of the feeding means could all be made replaceable and shaped in different patterns so as to mold the ends of the material being packaged.
1. A method for packaging a product with tubular, encasing material comprising:
moving an open-ended tubular member to have one end abut against a closure member to close the member at the one end, placing a leading length of the encasing material over the closure member and the one end of the tubular member onto the surface of the tubular member,
loading a product into the tubular member through its other end, and
moving the tubular member away from the closure member to withdraw it from the leading length of encasing material and the product supported on the closure member to allow the material to substantially enclose the product.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1, including severing the material enclosing the product from the remainder thereof.
3. A method as claimed in claim 1, including packing the product within the tubular member prior to withdrawing the tubular member from the encasing material and product.
4. A method as claimed in claim 1, including adding additives to the product.
5. A method as claimed in claim 1, including moving the tubular member and the abutting closure member in one direction while placing the leading length of material over the tubular member and then moving the tubular member, closure member and leading length of material in a direction opposite to the one direction prior to moving the tubular member away from the closure member to withdraw an additional length of material from a supply.
6. An apparatus for packaging a product with tubular, encasing material including:
an open-ended tubular member carried by the frame,
a carrying member below the tubular member and including means for closing one end of the tubular member,
means for moving the tubular member relative to the carrying member to close or open one end of the tubular member,
and means carried by the frame for transferring a leading length of material from the carrying member onto the outer surface of the tubular member when its one end is closed.
' 7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, including means for severing the leading length of material from the remainder of the material.
8. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, including means for moving the carrying member relative to the frame and guide means fixed to the frame for guiding the carrying member during its movement.
9. An apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein the transfer means are carried by the guide means and comprise finger members arranged about the periphery of the carrying member, and means biasing the finger members inwardly toward each other to hold the encasing material during movement of both the tubular member and the carrying member in one direction relative to the frame.
10. An apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein the transfer means are carried by the guide means and comprise a hollow member through which the tubular member is moved, a stretchable membrane mounted on'the inner surface of the hollow member, and means for stretching the membrane to bias it, and the leading length of material between it and the tubular member, against the tubular member.
11. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, including pressure packing means carried by the frame, the tubular member movable relative to the packing member to position the packing member within the tubular mem ber.
12. An apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein the means for moving the carrying member includes means movably carried on the frame and positioned beneath the carrying member to raise it.