US 3834630 A
A package opening apparatus and method to recover contents of packages of paper and other tearable materials wherein the packaging material is beaten and shredded in a separating container or zone, the contents of the package is passed through holes in the separating container or zone, and the packaging material is blown by a draft induced within the separating container or zone out through an outlet in the separating container or zone.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
atent 1 Nelson 1 RECOVERY OF PACKAGED CONTENTS  Inventor: William B. Nelson, London, England  Assignee: Gunsons Sortex, Limited, London,
England  Filed: June 2, 1972  Appl. No.: 259,208
 Foreign Application Priority Data Nov. 26, 1971 Great Britain 54988/71  US. Cl 241/19, 241/24, 241/55, 241/69, 241/152 A, 241/222, 241/243  Int. Cl. 1302c 13/08  Field of Search 241/19, 24,55, 69, 152 R, 241/152 A, 186 R, 186 A,186.2,186.4,189 R; 214/222, 243, 305
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,433,523 10/1922 Babcock 241/152 R  3,834,630 [4 1 Sept. 10, 1974 1,591,758 7/1926 Griffin 241/55 1,608,183 11/1926 Quante 241/55 2,818,985 l/1958 lrmscher 214/305 3,103,241 9/1963 Weigel 241/55 3,176,738 4/1965 Vissers 241/55 3,226,045 12/1965 Shelton et a]. 241/186 R Primary Examiner-Granville Y. Custer, Jr. Assistant Examiner-Howard N. Goldberg Attorney, Agent, or Firm-McGarry & Waters ABSTRACT A package opening apparatus and method to recover contents of packages of paper and other tearable materials wherein the packaging material is beaten and shredded in a separating container or zone, the contents of the package is passed through holes in the separating container or zone, and the packaging mate rial is blown by a draft induced within the separating container or zone out through an outlet in the separating container or zone.
16 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PATENTEDSEPIOIQN 3.884.630
SHEEI 1 0F 2 RECOVERY OF PACKAGED CONTENTS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to a method and apparatus for opening packages and separating the packaging material from the contents of the packages.
In another of its aspects, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for opening packages whose packaging material is formed of paper or soft plastic material and separating the latter from the solid or liquid contents of the packages, such contents including, for example, tea, flour, coffee, seeds, cereals, milk products, biscuits, sauces, sugar, cigarettes, and soup powder.
2. State of the Prior Art Packaged goods, such as food products and cigarettes, ocassionally are returned to the manufacturer because of incorrect sealing, damage, or improper weight. In other instances, the shelf life of the packages has been exhausted before the goods are purchased. It is desirable to recover the contents of the packages even though it may not be possible to offer the contents for resale.
Machines and methods have heretofore been developed for cutting packages open and separating the contents thereof from the packaging material. For example, Kanarek, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,386,602, discloses a depackaging method and apparatus in which the packages are passed through splitting rollers which open up the packages and then are passed to a tumbling basket wherein the open packages are tumbled to separate the contents of the packages from the packaging material. The tumbling basket is provided with a plurality of holes to permit the contents of the packages to pass therethrough to a container beneath the tumbling basket thereby leaving the packaging material within the tumbling basket. In one embodiment, the interior of the basket is provided with a plurality of directional vanes for urging the packaging material toward an open end of the tumbling basket.
Another separating apparatus is disclosed by Barber in U.S. Pat. No. 3,596,842. The apparatus disclosed by Barber is primarily directed to separating granular material such as coffee from packaging material. The packages in Barber are passed through meshing teeth to tear the walls of the packages and then are deposited onto an inclined vibrating screen which permits the granular material to pass therethrough while moving the packaging material to the lower end thereof.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the invention, there is provided an apparatus for recovering the contents of closed packages of tearable packaging material. The apparatus comprises a container having an inlet through which the packages may pass and an outlet. At least a bottom portion of the container has openings therein of a size to permit passage of the contents of the packages there through. Means in the container cut open the packages to permit the contents thereof to separate and pass through the openings in the container bottom portion. Draft inducing means are provided in the container for drawing the cut packaging material out through the outlet so that the contents of the packages can be quickly and continuously separated from the packaging material.
In one embodiment of the invention, the cutting means includes outwardly projecting members mounted for rotation about an axis of the container and inwardly projecting members, preferably stationary, which mesh with the outwardly projecting members, such that when the outwardly projecting members r0- tate, the packaging material will be torn and beaten between the outwardly and inwardly directed members for complete separation of the packaging material from the contents.
The draft inducing means is preferably located at the outlet of the container and is provided by a rotary member supporting the outwardly projecting cutting means, the rotary member being bent laterally near the outlet end to form a propeller blade.
Still further according to the invention, there is provided a method of recovering the contents from packages formed of tearable packaging material, the method including the steps of feeding the packages to a separating zone through an inlet opening having a bottom portion with openings sized to permit passage of the contents therethrough, beating the packages within the separating zone to shred the packaging material and thereby separate the packaging material from the contents thereof, passing the contents through the openings in a bottom portion of the container and blowing air currents through the outlet of the separating zone to carry the beaten and shredded packaging material through the outlet. Preferably, the air currents are induced from within the separating zone at the outlet end thereof, the air currents being induced simultaneously with the beatings and shredding of the packaging material.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view, partly in section, of an apparatus according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of part of the apparatus shown in FIG. I;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of part of the structure shown in FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view seen along lines 44 of FIG. ll.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the drawings, an apparatus for opening packages and separating the packaging material from the contents of the packages comprises a frame 10 at the top of which is mounted a hopper lll into which may be loaded packages (not shown) which are to be opened, such for example, as tea bags. The hopper 11 may, if desired, be provided, as shown in FIG. 1, with a feed hood 112 which may be moved into and out of the position shown by phantom lines.
The packages supplied to the hopper 11 are, in operation, moved therefrom and into a tubular container 13 by means of a feed screw 14 which is formed to break open the packages. The feed screw I4 is mounted on a shaft 15 which is driven by a belt drive 16 from an electric motor 17 through a pulley wheel l8 on the motor output and a pulley wheel 19 on shaft 15. The frame It) can be provided, on opposite sides of the apparatus, with a removable door (not shown) for providing access to the feed screw 14. The container 13 has a removable casing 21 at an upper portion providing access to the interior thereof, and a wire mesh or reticulated bottom portion 20. The container 13, which has an inlet 22 communicating with the feed screw 14 and an outlet 23 at axially opposite ends thereof, has a rotary cutter device 24 mounted therein.
The cutter device 24, which is rotatable in the counterclockwise direction indicated by arrow 25 as viewed in FIGS. 2 and 4, comprises a rotatable shaft 26 which is driven by electric motor 17 through pulley wheel 27, belt 28 and pulley wheel 29. The shaft 26 is co-axial with the shaft and rotates within the shaft 15. The sizes of the pulley wheels 18, 19, 27 and 29 are selected so that the cutter device 24 rotates at a much faster rate than the feed screw 14. Mounted on the shaft 26 are two axially spaced spider members 31, 32 each of which has four equi-angularly spaced apart arms 33. The arms 33 carry axially extending bars 34 each of which is provided with a plurality of axially spaced cutter members 35, the cutter members 35 being adapted to cooperate with fixed cutter members 36 carried by a pair of diametrically oppositely disposed fixed bars 37. As the cutter device 24 rotates, the cutter members 35 carried thereby pass into close proximity with the fixed cutter members 36 in a manner like intermeshing teeth so as to be adapted to exercise a cutting action on the packages. The operation of the fixed and rotary cutting members operate to beat and shred the packaging material and to beat the contents from the packaging materials.
Two of the bars 34 are provided, adjacent to the outlet 23, with a cranked portion 40 which in operation functions as a blade and induces a draft. The cranked portion 40 operates as a small propeller blade to draw air up through the wire mesh bottom portion and out through the outlet end 23 of the container, thereby carrying the packaging materials out through said outlet end 23. Thus, as the rotarycutter device 24 rotates, it acts to cut open the packages whose contents then fall out, while the draft induced by the cranked portions 40 blows the packaging material out through the outlet 23. The said contents of the packages pass under gravity through the openings in the bottom portion 20 of the container 13, the said openings being made of a size to permit the passage of the said contents therethrough.
The tea, or other contents of the packages, which has passed through the holes in the container 13 pass through a chute 41 and a bellows member 42, e.g., of textile material, so that they may be collected in a receptacle 46 disposed beneath the bellows 42.
The packaging material blown out by the draft passes through a chute 43 so as to fall into a portable receptacle 44 having castors or wheels. The receptacle 44 may, as shown, have a wire mesh grid 45 within it so that if the contents of the packages are liquid, the liquid left on the packaging material may drain into the lower part of the receptacle 44.
An adjustable end plate 47 is positioned at the outlet 23 of the container 13 as illustrated in FIG. 4. The end plate 47 is mounted for vertical sliding motion on guides 48. A vertical elongated slot 49 is formed in a 6 central portion of the end plate 46. An ad usting thumb screw 50 is mounted on a fixed bracket 57 on frame 10 and extends through the elongated slot 49. A bolt (not shown) behind plate 47 threadably engages the thumb screw 50 in conventional fashion to lock the plate in various adjusted positions.
As illustrated in FIG. 4, the plate 47 is adjustable to partially cover the outlet 23 of the container 13. The degree of draft passing from the end of the container 13 is controlled by plate 47. The farther down the plate 47, the less the draft out through the end of the container 13. The degree of draft or velocity of air passing through the end of the container 13 relates to the amount of material passing into the chute 43. The draft is thus controlled by the plate 47 in order to control the amount of material passing into the chute 43. By-this adjustable plate, the apparatus is adjustable to accomodate different products which may have different densities.
The apparatus described above both cuts open the packages and separates the packaging material from the contents of the packages by passing these along different paths, the apparatus being, for example, such that the great majority of the packaged commodity may be retrieved.
The speed of rotation of the rotary cutting device 24 is much greater than that of the feed screw 14. The rotary cutter device rotates at a speed so that the packages will be rapidly beaten and shredded between the rotating cutting members 35 and the fixed cutting teeth 36. This beating and shredding operation beats the contents of the packages substantially completely from the packaging material. At the same time, the cranked portions 40 form blades to induce a slight draft upwardly through the wire mesh bottom portion 20 of the tubular container 13 with the draft passing out through the outlet end 23 thereof. This draft lifts and carries the lighter packaging material through the outlet 23 of the container 13 and down the chute 43. The amount of draft can be controlled as described above, by raising or lowering the end plate 47. Lowering the end plate will decrease the draft and raising the end plate 47 will increase the draft.
Reasonable variation and modification are possible within the scope of the foregoing disclosure, drawings and appended claims without departing from the spirit of the invention.
1. An apparatus for recovering the contents of packages of a tearable packaging material, said apparatus comprising:
a container having an inlet through which said packages may pass and an outlet through which airborne materials may pass, said container having openings therein to permit passage of said contents therethrough;
means in said container for tearing and beating said packaging materials to separate said contents from said packaging material; and
draft inducing means for rendering said packaging materials airborne and for causing said airborne packaging material to pass out through said outlet while the contents pass through the openings in said container, whereby said contents are quickly and effectively separated from said packaging material in a air separation process.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said tearing and beating means includes outwardly projecting members mounted for rotation about an axis of said container, inwardly projecting members which mesh with said outwardly projecting members, and means for rotating said outwardly projecting members, whereby said packages are beaten and shredded by said tearing means while said contents are beaten from said packaging material.
3. An apparatus according to claim 2 and further comprising axially disposed elongated bars mounting said outwardly projecting means, and said draft inducing means are formed on said elongated bars.
4. An apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said container is fixed with respect to said draft inducing means.
5. An apparatus according to claim 3 and further including means for feeding said packages to said inlet, said feeding means including means for breaking open said packages.
6. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said draft inducing means includes an axially disposed blade, means mounting said blade in said container for rotational movement about an axis of said container; and means for rotating said blade about said axis whereby draft is induced within said container.
7. An apparatus according to claim 6 wherein said blade includes an end portion near said outlet, and said end portion is bent laterally for inducing said draft.
8. An apparatus according to claim 7 and further including means for feeding said packages to said inlet, said feeding means including means for breaking open said packages.
9. An apparatus according to claim 7 wherein said container is tubular shaped and said inlet and outlet are at axially opposite ends of said container.
10. An apparatus for recovering the contents from closed packages of tearable packaging material, said apparatus comprising:
a container having an inlet through which said packages may pass, and an outlet through which airborne particles may pass, at least a bottom portion of said container having openings therein of a size to permit passage of said contents therethrough;
means for beating and shredding said packaging material within said container to beat said contents from said packaging material and to shred said packaging material;
means for removing said contents from a bottom portion of said container through said openings therein; and
means for rendering said shredded and beaten packaging material airborne and for blowing said beaten and shredded airborne packaging material through said outlet of said container, thereby effecting an air separation of said contents from said beaten and shredded packaging material.
ll. A method for recovering the contents from packages of tearable packaging material, said method comprising the steps of:
feeding said packages to a separating zonc through an inlet opening thereof, said separating zone having a bottom portion with openings sized to permit passage of said contents therethrough;
beating said packages within said separating zone to shred said packaging material and toseparate said packaging material from said contents; passing said contents through said openings in said bottom portion of said separating zone; and
blowing air currents through said separating zone and through an outlet opening thereof to carry said beaten and shredded packaging materials through said outlet opening of said separating zone, thereby separating said packaging material from said contents.
]l2. A method according to claim 11 wherein said packages are first split open before being passed to said separating zone.
13. A method according to claim 11 wherein said packaging material is beaten and shredded by passing said packaging material between meshing teeth.
14. A method according to claim 13 wherein one set of said meshing teeth is stationary with respect to the other.
15. An method according to claim 11 wherein said air currents are induced from within said separating zone at said outlet opening thereof.
16. A method according to claim 15 wherein said air currents are induced simultaneously with the beating and shredding of said packaging material.