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Publication numberUS3837378 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 24, 1974
Filing dateOct 6, 1972
Priority dateApr 18, 1972
Also published asDE2249240A1, DE2249240B2
Publication numberUS 3837378 A, US 3837378A, US-A-3837378, US3837378 A, US3837378A
InventorsKanki H, Kurita K, Suzuki T
Original AssigneeTakeda Chemical Industries Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Device for the transport and filling of ampoules
US 3837378 A
Abstract
A device for the transport and filling of ampoules comprising a rotatory transport plate on the periphery of which is provided at regular intervals holder grooves into each of which an ampoule can be inserted and held by the suction force of a source of suction applied through passages connecting the suction source and the grooves, and reciprocating constant volume pumps, each provided with support yokes co-axial and co-rotatory with the plate and positioned above each of the grooves, and with an exhaust portion to which are connected filler needles which are successively reciprocated to perform filling operations of ampoules during transport of the ampoules in said grooves.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

nite States Patent 1191 1111 3,837,378 Kanki et al. Sept. 24, 1974 [5 DEVICE FOR THE TRANSPORT AND 2,915,201 12/1959 Calehuff et al. 198/210 x FILLING 0 PO 3,323,274 6/1967 Justus 53/282 X 3,389,723 6/1968 Litterst et al. 141/144 X [75] Inventors: Hiroshi Kanki, Kobe; Torao Suzuki;

Kazuyoshi Kurita, both of Osaka all Of Japan 1,120,370 3/1955 France 417/488 [73] Assignee: Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd.,

Osaka, Japan Primary Examiner-Houston S. Bell, Jr. Assistant Examiner-Frederick R. Schmidt plied: 6, 1972 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Wenderoth, Lind & Ponack [21] Appl. No: 295,573

[57] ABSTRACT [30] Foreign Application Priority Data A device for the transport and filling of ampoules Apr. 18, 1972 Japan 47-39384 COmPIiSiHg a rotatory transport Plate on the P p y of which is provided at regular intervals holder [52] US. Cl 141/146, 141/165, 53/281, grooves into each of which an ampoule can be 193 25 214 13 417 4 9 417 43 serted and held by the suction force of a source of [51] Int. Cl ..L 1365b 3/04 Suction pp through Passages connecting the [58] Field of Search 53/281, 282; 91/217; tion Source and the grooves, and reciprocating 92 175 117; 141 135 144 147 1 1 5 stant volume pumps, each provided with support 173 17 1 1 132 253.4 0 279 2 3 284 yokes co-axial and co-rotatory with the plate and posi- 9; 19 22 B, 25 210; 214 131-1 50 5 tioned above each of the grooves, and with an exhaust 222 255 3734,31; 417 4 9 4 portion to which are connected filler needles which are successively reciprocated to perform filling opera- 5 R fer Cited tions of ampoules during transport of the ampoules in UNITED STATES PATENTS gYOOVeS' 13 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures 1,046,762 12/1912 Flemingetal. ..l4l/l46X Ell? 3,837. 378 saw an; e

PAIENIEB EPM FAWN-508mm. 1881.378

.snesisui'e" FIG. 9

39 -'ROTATION OFTHE PLATE l2 FIG. 8

The present invention relates to a device for the continuous transport and filling of ampoules in which ampoules fed and transported continuously in order at high speed are filled automatically with determined amounts of a medicinal or other kind of fluid in rapid succession by corresponding constant volume pumps of a two reciprocating piston type and then transported to a suitable removal point.

In general small capacity ampoules, holding l or 2 ml, have thin walls and are easily damaged with the least shock. A conventional means for transporting such ampoules has been to move them along a guide while they are held in a metal case or similar holder or between the grooves of a star wheel and arcuate guides disposed around its periphery. But, since in such means of transport there is inevitably space between the ampoule holder and the guide, ampoules are not properly held as they are transported and they tend to rattle, which causes impacts between the ampoule and holder leading to surface damage and occasionally breakage of the ampoules. This rattling, moreover, makes the operation of insertion of an injection needle and injection of a fluid into the ampoules extremely difficult in fact, so difficult that the general practice has been to stop ampoules momentarily and fill them while they are held by another holder in an intermittent operation. In addition, hitherto, piston or plunger pumps have been used for the continuous delivery of a determined amount of fluid into the ampoules. In both these types of pump the cylinder chamber is provided with a valve at its inlet and at its outlet with a floating valve construction, i.e., the valve is seated on the valve-seat either by its own weight or through the force of a spring. However, such constructions have the disadvantage that if the viscosity of the fluid fed or the speed of the pump action increases, timing and quantity of fluid delivered are no longer regular, because of malfunctioning of the valves due to resistance offered to their action by the in creased resistance of the fluid, thus resulting in time lags or in the flow of fluid not being completely stopped. Whatever conventional means for the transport and filling of ampoules has heretofore been used, there are always the disadvantages in the difficulty of filling operation and low efficiency of transportation.

The object of the present invention is to overcome the disadvantages inherent in conventional devices by an extremely simple means whereby ampoules are transported without any risk of surface damage or breakage, the need for alignment of filler needles and ampoules is eliminated and intake and ejection of determined amounts of liquid is constantly accurate, and ampoules can thus be transported and filled accurately and efficiently.

According to the present invention there is provided a device for the transport and filling of ampoules comprising a rotary transport plate, on the periphery of which is provided at regular intervals holder grooves into each one of which an ampoule can be inserted and held by the suction force of a suction means applied through passages connecting said suction means and said holder grooves, said plate being rotated in one direction so as to receive an ampoule in a holder groove at one position thereof and to have the ampoule removed from the holder groove at another position thereof, and means for feeding determined amounts of fluid into the ampoules including filler needles which rotate with said plate, there being one positioned above each said groove, said needles being successively lowered and raised to perform a filling operation during transport of said ampoules in said grooves.

In addition thereto, the device of the present invention can have more than two rotary transport plates each possessing on the periphery thereof at regular intervals holder grooves, the peripheries of the plates engaging with each other, and into each one of which grooves an ampoule can be inserted and held by the suction force of a suction means applied through passages connecting said suction means and said holder grooves, all of said plates being rotated synchronously at the same peripheral speed in the respective directions, at the engaging point of which the suction force is applied to the groove of the one plate but is not supplied to the groove of the other plate so as to transfer the ampoule from the latter plate to the former.

Furthermore, the device of the present invention can have means for feeding determined amounts of fluid into the ampoules including pump units each of which comprises a cylinder in the central portion of the wall of which around the cylinder chamber is formed a passage for fluid, an intake piston and an exhaust piston slidably fitting into opposite ends of the cylinder, there being within each piston a passage for fluid one end of which opens at the sliding surface of the piston, and the stroke length of each piston being sufficient to bring the corresponding piston fluid passage opening into connection with the fluid passage within the cylinder, and drive means for reciprocatingly driving the piston or pistons and the cylinder so as to draw in fluid from the passage of the intake piston into the passage of the cylinder and, then, to eject fluid from the passage of the cylinder into the passage of the exhaust piston in such a manner that, when both the pistons are slid deeply into the cylinder only the intake piston fluid passage opening opens to the cylinder chamber fluid passage, and when the cylinder and the intake piston together are drawn away from the exhaust piston, fluid is caused to flow into the cylinder chamber, and, in turn, when the cylinder only is slid back towards the exhaust piston the intake piston fluid passage opening thus comes into contact with the cylinder wall and is closed, and then, at point where the cylinder reaches its return position the exhaust cylinder fluid passage opening opens into the cylinder fluid passage, after which the intake piston again approaches the exhaust piston, thus compressing the fluid in the cylinder chamber and causing it to flow out of the cylinder fluid passage into the exhaust piston fluid passage and out of the pump, thus completing one cycle, which if repeated provides successive delivery of fixed quantities of fluid.

The present invention, by the above described device, presents the following outstanding advantages:

a. Transport of the ampoules in rapid succession is completely satisfactory and is achieved by a simple means, ampoules being continuously transported by and between rotary transport plates while held by suction in cut-out portions of the rotary transport plates in such a manner that each successive ampoule is fed and fitted into a cut-out portion of the rotary transport plate, where it is held by suction force applied through the corresponding vacuum hole. Each ampoule is carried around by the rotation of the rotary transport plate to a point where there is simultaneously a cut-out portion of another rotary transport plate, which is rotating synchronously with the first mentioned rotary transport plate, into which also the ampoule is inserted and held by suction force applied through the corresponding vacuum hole at the same time as it is released from first rotary transport plate cutout portion, since as the plate continues to rotate, suction force is applied or not as corresponding vacuum connection passages come into or move out of contact with a vacuum passage. Each ampoule is then carried around by the second rotary transport plate to a point where it is released from the second transport plate cut-out portion when the corresponding vacuum connection passage moves out of contact with the second transport plate vacuum passage.

b. Since ampoules are held and transported hermetically by suction in cut-out portions provided at suitable intervals on the rotary transport plate peripheries they are kept accurately positioned and transport is extremely safe and does not involve the risk of surface damage or breakage of ampoules, as in the conventional means, through the rattling together and impact between ampoules during transport.

c. Filling of ampoules with medicinal fluid is by means of reciprocating constant volume pumps associated with filler needles which are positioned above and rotate together with the ampoules, alignment of ampoules and needles thus being constant, and, moreover, since the ampoules are held by suction they do not shake or move out of alignment, and the present invention therefore makes completely unnecessary the procedures used in conventional devices of holding ampoules in separate holders and alignment of filler needles.

d. Since, as opposed to conventional methods where transport is momentarily stopped in order to fill ampoules and the operation is intermittent, in the present invention ampoules are filled while they are being transported and thus transport and filling operations are very fast and highly efficient.

e. Since a reciprocating constant volume pump is employed for feeding fluid to a needle attached thereto, which pump comprises a slide valve structure operable by the relative sliding displacements of a cylinder and of two pistons slidably inserted in the cylinder relative to one another, the liquid passage inlet in one cylinder and the outlet in the other cylinder being accurately opened or closed by contact with the cylinder wall, it is thus possible to completely eliminate any time lag in the opening and closing operations of the inlet and outlet without influence of hydraulic resistance, and timing is good even for high-speed intermittent operation or with highly viscous fluid, and intake and ejection of determined amounts of liquid is constantly accurate.

f. The device of the present invention as well as com ponent parts thereof such as rotary transport plates or pumps can be advantageously manufactured in various sizes, is simple, compact and light-weight in design, is durable in construction, has a reasonable manufacturing cost, and is capable of performing its intended functions in an entirely satisfactory and trouble-free manner.

These and other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments thereof and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view, partially broken away, of a device for the continuous transport and filling of ampoules according to one preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic side sectional view taken along the line IIII in FIG. 3, of an essential portion of a continuous injection arrangement and its associated parts of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view, partially broken away taken along the line IIIIII in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3, partially broken away and showing cross-sections taken along the line IV-IV in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an enlarged scale of the injection pump employed in the embodiment of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view on an enlarged scale of portions of transport units employed in the embodiment of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a partly exploded perspective view on an enlarged scale of a portion of FIG. 6;

FIGS. 8, parts (A) to 8(H) are a series of schematic, cross-sectional views of the injection pump shown in FIG. 5 for explanation of the operation of the injection pump in order;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view, partly broken away of portions of another preferred embodiment of the injection pump according to the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a schematic side view, partially broken away, of portions of another preferred embodiment of the injection pump according to the present invention; and

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of FIG. 10.

Before the description of the present invention proceeds, it is to be noted that, for the sake of brevity, like parts are designated by the like reference numerals throughout the several views of the accompanying drawings. It is to be noted that the concept of the present invention as well as being applicable to equipment for the continuous transport and filling of ampoules herein disclosed as a preferred embodiment can be applied in any field of industry other than the medicinal industry, for example, in connection with liquid, oil or other like fluid if such fluid is inserted or filled in determined amounts into a bottle or other like receptacle.

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 8, there is shown apparatus for the continuous transport and filling of ampoules in which ampoules fed continuously at relatively high speed are filled with a determined amount of fluid in rapid succession. The apparatus a chute 1 for the delivery of ampoules in cooperation with an ampoule feeding means of any known type, a transfer unit 2, which receives the delivered ampoules and transfers them to a main rotary transport unit 3, and a transfer unit 4, which receives filled ampoules and transfers them to an output chute 5, the above units serving to continuously deliver and remove ampoules, the ampoules being delivered empty, filled with medicinal or other fluid by a continuous injection unit 6 located above the main transport unit 3, and removed after being filled.

The main transport unit 3, the transfer unit 2, and the transport unit 4 comprise respectively, rotary transport plates of star the wheel type 12, 13 and 14, rotatably pivoted on vertical shafts 16, 17 and 18 which are fixedly mounted on a base stand 15, and each having arcuate holder grooves in the periphery thereof, that is,

semi-circular cut-out portions 9, l0 and 11, respectively into each of which the body 8 of an ampoule 7 can be hermetically inserted, the grooves being disposed at suitable regular intervals around the peripheries of said plates, the pitch between grooves being the same in all three plates 12, 13 and 14 and each groove coming into register with a groove on another plate intermittently as seen in FIG. 3.

The rotary transport plates 12, 13 and 14 also have tubular downward extensions 23, 24 and 25, through which they are driven by the meshing of fixed gears 19, 20 and 21 each provided at the respective lower end of the extension, gear 19 also engaging with a driving gear 22 which is always driven by a motor M through an interlocking means L. All of the rotary plates l2, l3 and 14 are driven on the same plane synchronously and at the same peripheral speed around shafts l6, l7 and 18, respectively, in the direction indicated by the arrows in FIG. 3, by the fixed gears 19, 20 and 21 and the driving gear 22. Ring-shaped bearing discs 26, 27 and 28, fitting against the lower surface and at the periphery of the rotary transport plates 12, 13 and 14, form bottom walls of the holder grooves 9, and 11 for the purpose of providing a bottom support for ampoules. At the central portions of the holder grooves there are suction holes 29, 30 and 31, the outer end of each suction hole opening into the holder groove 9, 10, or 11 through a funnel-shaped opening as seen in FIG. 6, and the inner end opening to the underside of the corresponding rotary transport plate 12, 13, or 14. Suction passages 35, 36 and 37, the form of each of which is that of a portion of a circular arc, are cut respectively in the upper surface of each of the suction discs 32, 33 and 34 which are in sliding contact with the lower surfaces of the rotary transport plates'12, 13 and 14 to provide hermetic sealing, and the inner ends of the suction holes 29, 30 and 31 arranged circularly around the transport plates open into grooves 35, 36 and 37.

Pass-on point 38 is the point at which an ampoule is Each pump unit A comprises a vertical cylinder 53 and two pistons 54 and 55. Within the cylinder 53, in the central portion of the passage formed by the cylinder wall 57 around the cylinder chamber 56 providing a passage in the interior of the cylinder, there is formed a larger diameter cavity 58 for passage of fluid. The intake piston 54, which enters from above, and the exhaust piston 55, which enters from below, both fit slidably in the body of the cylinder 53. In the intake piston 54 there is a passage 59 for fluid, one end of which, the outlet 62, opens to the side of the piston in contact with the cylinder wall and at the leading end of the piston, and the other end of which, the inlet 60, is connected to a flexible feed pipe 61. In the exhaust piston 55 also there is a passage 63 for fluid, one end of which, the inlet 64, opens to the side of the piston and at the leading end of the piston and the other end of which, the

. outlet 65, is connected to an injection needle 66 fixed passed from the delivery chute 1 to the rotary transport plate 13, pass-on point 39 is between rotary transport plate 13 and rotary transport plate 12, pass-on point 40 is between rotary transport plate 12 and rotary transport plate 14, and pass-on point 41 is between rotary transport plate 14 and the output chute 5, the angles between the points 38, 39, 40 and 39, 40, 41 being respectively, 6,, 0 0 each subtending the arc of the respective suction passage.

A set of shafts 42, 43 and 44 depending from discs 32, 33 and 34 are slidably mounted in intermediate fixed plate 45, which in turn is supported by fixed connection shafts 46 on base 15. The suction discs 32, 33 and 34 are thus supported in such a manner that their only permitted movement is up or down relative to the base stand 15. There is also provided pressure springs 47, 48 and 49 around the shafts 42, 43 and 44 which act to urge the suction discs 32, 33 and 34 upwardly into hermetic contact with the rotary transport plates 12, 13 and 14. Intake pipes 50, 51 and 52, leading from the arc shaped suction passages 35, 36 and 37, are connected to a vacuum suction unit (not shown) of any known conventional type.

Above the rotary plates is a continuous injection unit 6, which comprises a plurality of pump units A and a drive unit B.

in a position pointing downwards; the stroke length of the pistons 54 and 55 is long enough to permit the outlet 62 and the inlet 64 to reach the above mentioned fluid passage 58 yet not be exposed outside the cylinder 53 The pump drive unit B includes a plurality of pairs of parallel guide shafts 69 fixedly spaced at suitable distances along the peripheries of and extending between a fixed ring shaped plate 67 mounted coaxially with and above the rotary transport plate 12 of the main rotary transport unit 3 and a circular plate 68 mountedcoaxially with and at a suitable distance above the ring plate 67, each pair of shafts being arranged in parallel with the others at suitable regular intervals on one ideal cylinder between both plates 67 and 68 at positions corresponding to the respective holder grooves 9 of the rotary transport plate 12. On each pair of vertical shafts 69 are slidably mounted three slidable yokes 70, 71 and 72 and a fixed drum 73 is flxedly attached at its center axis to a portion 16a which projects higher than the rotary transport plate 12 on the vertical shaft 16. There are endless circular cam grooves 74, 75 and 76 cut at three positions vertically spaced along the surface of the fixed drum 73, each extending around the surface of the fixed drum 73, into which are cam-fitted cam rollers 77, 78 and 79 extending inwards from and pivoted on the slidable yokes 70, 71 and 72. From the opposite edges of the yokes extend support arms 80, 81 and 82, which support respectively the intake piston 54, the cylinder body 53, and the exhaust piston 55 of a pump unit A. Each downward pointing needle 66 is positioned above and aligned on the axis passing the centre of the arc of a holder groove 10, that is, the axis of the ampoule 7 inserted into the holder groove on the periphery of the rotary transport plate 12. Supply of liquid through the flexible feed pipes 61 of the pump unit A is ensured by their being connected to a flow distributor 83 fixedly mounted above the circular plate 68 and connected, through a rotary joint 84, in a manner to permit relative rotation with a pipe 85 for feeding fluid from a feeding pump P.

In operation, rotation of the drive gear 22 driven by the motor M causes synchronous rotation of the rotary transport plates in the directions indicated by the arrows. When the suction holes 29, 3t) and 31 carried around by this rotation pass above the are shaped suction passages 35, 36 and 37, the suction pipes 50, 51 and 52 draw in air. As shown in FIG. 3, as ampoules 7, fed upright and in a line along the delivery chute 1,

reach the pass-on point 38, they are inserted one at a time into holder grooves where they are held by suction through the suction holes 30.

An ampoule 7 thus held is carried around by the rotation of the rotary transport plate 13 until it reaches the pass-on point 39, where there is simultaneously a holder groove 9 brought into position by the synchronously rotating rotary transport plate 12. The ampoule 7 is fitted into this holder groove 9 where it is held and at the same time released from the holder groove 10 since as the plates 12 and 13 synchronously rotate at the same speed, as the corresponding suction hole 30 moves away from the arc shaped suction passage 36 and suction is discontinued to holder groove 10, suction is applied at the other side by the corresponding suction hole 29 entering the are shaped suction passage 35, and the ampoule is thus transferred from transport plate 13 to rotary transport plate 12, and is now transported by the rotation of the transport plate 12 in the direction of the arrow until it reaches the pass-on point 40, before reaching which point, however, it is filled with a medicinal fluid by the pump unit A, as is described below.

When the ampoule 7 reaches the pass-on point 40, the operation is the same as in the pass-on from between rotary transport plates 13 to 12 and it is passed to the rotary transport plate 14, introduced into a holder groove 11 and held there by suction through a suction hole 31 and transported to pass-on point 41, where the suction force through suction hole 31 is ended and the ampoule is carried out along the output chute 5.

The pump unit A is driven by the up and down movement of the slidable yokes 70, 71 and 72, which is caused by the cam rollers 77, 78 and 79 riding in the cam grooves 74, 75 and 76 of the fixed drum 73 during rotation of pump units A by the rotation of circular plates 67 and 68 and vertical shafts 69 with the rotary transport plate 12, during which up and down movement the pump units A operate to carry out operation for filling ampoules 7 with medicinal fluid as illustrated in FIG. 8, parts (a) to (h).

In the FIG. 8, in part (a), preparation for suction is completed, both pistons 54 and 55 have entered deeply into the cylinder 53, the outlet 62 opens to the fluid passage 58, the inlet 64 is closed, and the injection needle 66 is positioned higher than the top of the ampoule 7. At this stage the pump unit A is positioned outside the area included in the angle 0 covered by the are shaped suction passage 35. The next stage is the suction stroke, illustrated in part (b), when the intake piston 54 and the cylinder 53 rise together, their relative position is unchanged, but the exhaust piston 55 stays at the same position and the cylinder wall 57 slides along piston 55 to enlarge the size of the cylinder chamber 56, and medicinal fluid flows through the outlet 62 into the enlarged cylinder chamber portion 56. At this suction stage, the pump unit A, passing over the pass-on point 38, enters the area included in the angle 0 covered by the arc shaped suction passage 35. Next the whole pump unit A, still in the configuration of part (b), descends, as shown at the stage (0), at which stage the injection needle 66 enters into the ampoule 7, after which the cylinder body 53 further descends, outlet 62 is closed, and as stage (d) is passed the inlet 64 is opened as at stage (e), which is the stage preparatory to ejection. At the next stage (f), which is the ejection stage, the intake piston 54 descends and the medicinal fluid compressed in the cylinder chamber 56 flows through the inlet 64, the fluid passage 63, and the injection needle 66 and into the ampoule 7.

After stage (f), the cylinder body 53 rises a little, the inlet 64 is closed and the outlet 62 is opened, as at stage (g), which is the stage preparatory to suction, the next stage being (h), when the whole pump unit A is raised and the injection needle 66 is withdrawn from the ampoule 7. While the pump unit A is in the configuration of stage (h), it is carried around along with the rotation of the rotary transport plate 12 past the pass-on point 40, after which point it leaves the area included in the angle 0 covered by the are shaped suction passage 35, and returns to the position of stage (a), thus completing an injection cycle.

As ampoules are thus carried around by the rotary transport plate 12, between points 39 and 40, they are filled with a requisite amount of medicinal fluid by the needle 66, there being one positioned above each ampoule 7, each injection needle 66 being lowered to inject fluid into an ampoule and automatically raised after the filling operation under the guidance with the cam grooves 74, and 76.

In the filling operation, it is to be noted that the actions of the pump above-described form one pumping cycle which, if repeated, provide a continuous operation of successive intake and ejection of a fixed amount of fluid as a constant volume pump because the strokes of both pistons 54 and 55 are always maintained at predetermined constant distances.

Various other modifications will also be apparent to the artisan. For example, as a driving unit for the pump unit A, instead of the cam arrangement described hereinbefore it is possible to use hydraulic means, a crank or other devices.

As shown in FIG. 9, this embodiment comprises a pump unit and a hydraulic drive unit which drives it. The construction of the pump unit is the same as that of the pump unit described in the first embodiment, and the drive unit comprises two compression chambers 86 and 87 arranged in series within a hydraulic cylinder body 88 and a rotary valve 89, driven by a motor (not shown), which controls the pressure of oil passing in and out of the two compression chambers 86 and 87 through two pairs of pipes 90a and 90b, and 91a and 91b, in which one pipe of each pair is connected to the compression chamber 86 and the other to compression chamber 87. The cylinder 53 is slidably inserted in the first compression chamber 86, and the intake piston 54 is slidably inserted in the second compression chamber 87 with an oiltight flange at the outer end of the piston in sliding contact with the chamber wall.

The action of this pump is the same as that described in the first embodiment, although the cylinder 53 and the intake piston 54 are driven by the pressure of oil controlled by the rotary valve 89 and the exhaust piston 55 is driven by the pressure of fluid accumulated within the cylinder 53.

The drive unit of a pump unit may be crank mechanisms shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. In this embodiment, the drive unit comprises two eccentric rotation wheels 92 and 93 fixedly mounted at either end of a cross shaft 94 supported in a bearing 95 resting on the right hand end of a base 96, the shaft 94 being driven by a conventional known means. The eccentric rotation wheel 92 is connected to the intake piston 54 and the eccentric rotation wheel 93 to the cylinder 53 by, respectively, connection rods 97 and 98 connected to the wheels 92 and 93 respectively by eccentric pins 99 and 100, which have the same radius of eccentricity. During rotation of the wheels 92 and 93 the eccentric pin 99 lags the eccentric pin 100 by 45to 60, further, the piston drive connection rod 97 comprises a fitting tubular shaft 97a and bar shaft 97b which can act against the force of a compression spring 940 so that the connection rod 97 is thus elastically compressible.

The action of this pump is the same as that described in the first embodiment, although the cylinder 53 and the intake piston 54 are reciprocatively driven by the crank mechanisms comprising the eccentric rotation wheels and connection rods, respectively, and the exhaust piston 55 is driven by the pressure of fluid accumulated within the cylinder 53.

From the foregoing description of the present invention, it will be clear that, the device for the transport and filling ampoules of the present invention offers considerable advantages over conventional intermittent drive ampoule filling devices in the following respects: since ampoules are not held mechanically but hermetically, there are no breakage losses; since ampoules are transported without being shaken or vibrated they are filled with determined amounts of fluid and transported safely without being subject to shock or leak; since needles for filling fluid and ampoules are properly aligned there is no ampoule lip breakage or fluid leakage; and since ampoules are filled with fluid by injection units transported with respective ampoules, which comprise constant volume pumps of a two reciprocating piston type, filling and transport are accurate and high speed.

What is claimed is:

1. A device for the transport and filling of ampoules, comprising a rotary transport plate having holder grooves at regular intervals around the periphery thereof having a shape and size for receiving an ampoule therein, said rotary transport plate having passages therethrough opening into said holder grooves, suction means coupled to said passages, drive means coupled to said plate for rotating said plate in one direction, ampoule supply means at a first position along the periphery of said rotary transport plate for supplying empty ampoules one at a time to the holder grooves, ampoule receiving means at a second position around the periphery of the rotary transport plate for receiving filled ampoules from said holder grooves, and fluid feeding means for feeding determined amounts of fluid into the ampoules and comprising a plurality of filler needles positioned above said rotary plate with one needle aligned with each holder groove, a plurality of yokes on which the respective needles are mounted and movable up and down above said rotary transport plate, mounting means for mounting said yokes and carrying them around the axis of transport plate, a fixed drum mounted above said rotary transport plate having a cam groove therearound, and cam rollers on said yokes and riding in said cam groove for successively lowering said needles into the ampoules and raising said needles out of said ampoules for performing the fluid filling operation during transport of said ampoules around the periphery of the rotary transport plate from said first position to said second position.

2. A device as claimed in claim 1 in which said suction means comprises a fixed plate positioned beneath said rotary transport plate and with which the lower surface of said rotary transport plate is in sliding air tight contact, said fixed plate having a groove in the uppersurface thereof extending substantially around said fixed plate from said first position to said second position, said passages in said rotary transport plate opening into said groove, and a source of suction coupled to said groove.

3. A device as claimed in claim 1 in which said ampoule supply means comprises a chute for delivery of ampoules to the periphery of the rotary transport plate, and said ampoule receiving means comprises a further chute for receiving ampoules from the rotary transport plate at said second position.

4. A device as claimed in claim 1 in which the portion of each of said passages which open into said holder grooves is in the shape of a funnel, whereby an ampoule can be more readily held in the holder groove by suction.

5. A device as claimed in claim 1 in which each said filler needle comprises a pump unit having a piston and cylinder and a needle member associated with said piston and cylinder, and pump unit drive means coupled to said piston and cylinder for driving said piston and cylinder relative to each other and to said needle member during the lowering and raising of said filler needles for drawing fluid into the cylinder before the needle member is lowered into the ampoule, and then pumping the fluid through the needle member into the ampoule after the needle member has been lowered into the ampoule.

6. A device as claimed in claim 5, in which each pump unit comprises a cylinder having an enlarged inner diameter portion in the central portion thereof, an intake piston in the upper end of said cylinder having an intake passage therethrough opening laterally of the lower end thereof, and an exhaust piston in the lower end of said cylinder attached to said needle member and having an exhaust passage opening laterally of the upper end thereof and opening into said needle member, and the pump unit drive means driving said cylinder relative to said exhaust piston and said intake piston relative to said cylinder to expose said laterally opening ends of the passage through said pistons to said enlarged inner diameter portion of said cylinder.

7. A device as claimed in claim 6 in which said pump unit drive means comprises cam means fixed relative to the rotational movement of said filler needles with said rotary transport plate.

8. A device as claimed in claim 6 in which said pump unit drive means comprises hydraulic drive means.

9. A device as claimed in claim 6 in which said pump unit drive means comprises a crank mechanism.

10. A device for the transport and filling of ampoules, comprising a series of more than two rotary transport plates each having holder grooves at regular intervals around the periphery thereof having a size and shape for receiving an ampoule therein, said rotary transport plates each having passages therethrough opening into said holder grooves, all of said plates being positioned in the same plane and each being tangent to a succeeding plate in the series with the rotational positions of the plates being such that at the points of tangency a holder groove on one plate is opposite to a holder groove in the other plate, drive means coupled to said plates for rotating them synchronously at the same peripheral speed with tangent plates being rotated in opposite rotational directions, suction means coupled to the passages in each rotary transport plate, and including means for terminating the supply of suction to said holder grooves in each plate just prior to the time at which each holder groove reaches the point of tangency to the next succeeding plate in the series and for supplying suction to said holder grooves in each plate just prior to the time at which each holder groove reaches the point of tangency to the next preceding plate in the series, whereby ampoules can be released from the holder grooves in each plate in the series and transferred to the holder grooves in the next succeeding plate in the series, and fluid feeding means for feeding determined amounts of fluid into the ampoules comprising a plurality of filler needles mounted above one of the intermediate rotary transfer plates in said series and rotatable therewith, and including means for successively lowering said needles into the ampoules and raising the needles out of the ampoules for performing the filling operation during transport of the ampoules around the periphery of said intermediate rotary transport plate.

11. A device as claimed in claim in which said suction means comprises a fixed plate positioned beneath each rotary transport plate and with which the lower surface of the rotary transport plate is in sliding air tight contact, each fixed plate having a groove in the upper surface thereof extending substantially around the fixed plate from just before the point of tangency with a preceding rotary transport plate in the series to just before the point of tangency with a succeeding rotary transport plate in the series, said passages in the corresponding rotary transport plate opening into said groove, and a source of suction coupled to the grooves in the respective fixed plates.

12. A device as claimed in claim 10 in which said drive means comprises gears mounted on said rotary transport plates meshed with each other, and a driving device coupled to one of said rotary transport plates.

13. A reciprocating constant volume pump for use in a device for filling ampoules which has a needle member movable into an ampoule and then out of the ampoule, said pump comprising a cylinder having an enlarged inner diameter portion in the central portion thereof, an intake piston in one end of said cylinder having an intake passage therethrough opening laterally of the inner end of the intake piston, and an exhaust piston in the other end of the cylinder attached to said needle member and having an exhaust passage opening laterally of the inner end of the exhaust piston and extending into the needle member, and pump driving means coupled to said intake piston and said cylinder for driving said cylinder relative to said exhaust piston and said intake piston relative to said cylinder to expose said laterally opening ends of the passages through said pistons to said enlarged inner diameter portion of said cylinder for drawing fluid into the cylinder before the needle member is moved into the ampoule and then pumping the fluid through the needle member into the ampoule after the needle member has been moved into the ampoule.

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US4283901 *Dec 20, 1979Aug 18, 1981Liqui-Box CorporationContinuous rotary machine for uncapping, filling and recapping flexible bags having separable caps
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Classifications
U.S. Classification141/146, 53/281, 53/284.6, 414/226.1, 417/488, 141/165, 417/469, 414/223.1, 198/567, 198/689.1
International ClassificationB65B3/00, B67C3/02, B67C3/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B3/003
European ClassificationB65B3/00B