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Publication numberUS3843806 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 22, 1974
Filing dateApr 27, 1973
Priority dateMar 29, 1972
Publication numberUS 3843806 A, US 3843806A, US-A-3843806, US3843806 A, US3843806A
InventorsD Hagen, A Kishpaugh
Original AssigneeStandard Packaging Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Granular package
US 3843806 A
Images(2)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

States atent r191 Kisiipaugli et a1.

GRANULAR PACKAGE Inventors: Allan Kishpaugh; Donald J. Hagen,

both of Wayne, NJ.

Assignee: Standard Packaging Corporation,

New York, NY.

Filed: Apr. 27, 1973 Appl. No; 355,070

Related US. Application Data Division of Ser. No. 239,076, March 29, 1972, Pat. No. 3,750,362.

11.5. C1. 426/106, 206/525 Int. Cl. 865d 81/20, A23f 1/06 Field of Search 206/46 PV, 46 F, 63.2, 206/D1G. 12, 525; 99/171 LP, 171 TC, 189, 152; 426/106 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3/1968 Auban 99/152 [451 Oct. 22, 1974 3,254,469 6/1966 Dilot 53/37 3,360,382 12/1967 Miller 99/189 3,485,352 12/1969 Pilger 206/632 R 3,673,760 7/1972 Canamero 53/22 A 3,713,849 1/1973 Grindrod et a1. 426/129 X Primary Examiner-Leonard Summer Attorney, Agent, or FirmAmster & Rothstein [57] ABSTRACT A package for a granular material includes a bottom package member and a top package member. A gaspermeable intermediate package member is disposed between the bottom package member and the top package member to facilitate the evacuation of the package by retaining the granular material in the package during such evacuation.

7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTEB GET 2 2 1974 3843806 SHEEI' 10$ 2 PATENTEB 00122 I914 334mm;

SIEHWIF GRANUILAIR PA CKAGE This application is a division of US. Pat. Ser. No. 239,076, filed Mar. 29, 1972 now U.S. Pat. No. 3,750,362 issued Aug. 7, 1973.

This invention relates generally to vacuum packages and, more particularly, to a vacuum package for a granular material and to the method for packaging such granular magerial.

A multitude of prior art packages and methods have been devised for vacuum packaging products. Most frequently, the packages are formed from a heat-sealable, flexible packaging material. Such packages have found wide acceptance in the food packaging field because of the extended shelf life afforded to the packaged product by the use of such materials and by the fact that the packages are vacuum-sealed. For example, food prod ucts have been protected from oxidizing influences, such as atmospheric oxygen, by vacuum-sealing of packages for preservation purposes.

However, although various packaging machines have been devised, and although various methods have been suggested, the vacuum packaging of granular meterials has been both difficult and ineffective. More particularly, when the product or material to be packaged is granular, as the package is evacuated to provide the vacuum-seal, the granular material is drawn into the sealing area along the top edge of the package. Thus, when the package is sealed to maintain the vacuum, the granular material in the sealing area causes leaks to result in the seal. Lacking an effective seal, the prior art packages have been unable to provide the requisiste vacuum which, in turn, results in the early oxidation of the granular material in the package. Consequently, shelf life is greatly reduced. Additionally, loss of granular material and clogging of the vacuum apparatus results if the granular material is not retained in the package during evacuation.

Accordingly, a primary object of the present inven tion is to provide a vacuum-sealed package for granular materials and a method therefore which overcomes the difficulties experienced with prior art packages and methods.

A further and more particular object of the present invention is to provide a vacuum-sealed package for granular materials which adequately vacuum-seals the granular material within the package.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a vacuumsealed package for granular materials which is inexpensive, yet lends itself to efficient manufacture.

These and other objects, according to product aspects of the present invention, are accomplished in an illustrative embodiment thereof in which a vacuumsealed package for a granular material includes a bottom package member having upstanding side walls terminating in an upper peripheral edge. An intermediate package member, substantially permeable to the flow of gases therethrough, but substantially impermeable to the flow of granular material therethrough, is also provided to overlie the peripheral edge of the bottom package member. The bottom package member and the gas-permeable intermediate package member de fine a continuous, uniform and full seal along the upper peripheral edge of the bottom package member. A top package member is constructed and arranged to be sealed to the bottom package member and the gaspermeable intermediate package member to maintain the vacuum in the package.

In accordance with an illustrative embodiment, demonstrating objects and features of method aspects of the present invention, a method for packaging a granular material from a bottom package member, a top package member and a gas-permeable intermediate package member includes the steps of loading the granular material into the bottom package member and fully sealing the gas-permeable intermediate package member to the bottom package member at the peripheral edges thereof. The top package member is then placed on top of the bottom package member and the gas-permeable intermediate package member and is partially sealed to the bottom package member and the gas-permeable intermediate package member at the peripheral edges thereof. Thereafter, the space between the bottom package member and the top package member is evacuated, through. the face of the gaspermeable intermediate package member and the unsealed portion of the top package member. The unsealed portion of top package member is then sealed to bottom package member and the gas-permeable intermediate package member to maintain the vacuum within the package.

The above brief description as well as further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more fully appreciated by reference to the following detailed description of a preferred, but nonetheless illustrative embodiment, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. l is a schematic, elevation view of the apparatus utilized in performing the method of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a typical die used to form the package of the present invention and showing the packaging sequence according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view, partly in section, showing a die, an evacuation element and a sealing head element useful in the method of the present invention, the representation of elements depicting inoperative positions thereof;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of part of the die, evacuation element and sealing head element of FIG. 3, show ing the evacuation element in an operative position; and,

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the vacuum-sealed package of the present invention with the gaspermeable intermediate package member and the top package member broken away to show more particularly the details of the construction of the package.

Referring to the drawings, and in particular to FIG. 5 thereof, a vacuum-sealed package for granular materials is generally designated ]l0. Vacuum-sealed package ]lt) includes a bottom package member 12 which is adapted to receive, as will be explained hereinafter, granular material 14. By way of example, granular material 14 may be a food product, such as instant coffee or the like. Bottom package member 12 includes upstanding side walls ]l2a which terminate at an outwardly extending peripheral edge 12b. Bottom package member 12 thus defines a material-receiving cavity for receiving granular material. Bottom package member 12 is advantageously of a heat-sealable flexible packaging material, such as plastic.

In order to maintain the granular material 14 within package while the package is evacuated, a gaspermeable intermediate package member 16 is provided. By way of example, gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 may be of Delnet or a similar type of material. Gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 defines a face 16a having a porosity which allows gas to be withdrawn from the granular material within bottom package member 12. However, the porosity of gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 is such as to prevent the granular material 14 from escaping from the bottom package member as package is evacuated. This will be explained in more detail hereinafter.

Gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 is heat or otherwise sealed to the peripheral edge 12b of the bottom package member 12 after the granular material 14 has been loaded or deposited into the bottom package member. A continuous, uniform and full seal is thus provided between gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 and bottom package member 12 along peripheral edge 12b. A top package member 18 of a heat-sealable plastic or other material is provided and is placed on top of bottom package member 12 and gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 in a position overlying the peripheral edges of the gaspermeable intermediate package member and the bottom package member. The top package member 18 is partially sealed to the bottom package member and the gas-permeable intermediate package member as will be explained in more detail hereinafter.

Once the gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 has been fully sealed to bottom package member 12 and the top package member 18 has been partially sealed to the gas-permeable intermediate package member and the bottom package member, the space between the bottom and top package members, containing the granular material 14, is evacuated through face 16a of the gas-permeable intermediate package member and through the unsealed portion of the top package member. Since gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 allows the flow of gases through face 16a but is of a porosity to prevent the flow of granular material therethrough, the granular material is retained in bottom package member 12 during evacuation and the granular material is not drawn into the sealing area at peripheral edge 12b. Further, since the granular material is kept within package 10, there is no loss of the granular material and/or clogging of the vacuum apparatus.

After evacuation has been completed, the unsealed portion of top package member 18 is sealed to gas permeable intermediate package member 16 and bot tom package member 12 along peripheral edge 12b. The evacuated state of package 10 is thus maintained by the hermetic seal between these package members, the hermetic seal being provided since there is no granular material along the sealing area (peripheral edge 12b) of package 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, a package loading and forming apparatus useful with the present invention is generally designated 20. Reference is made to US. Pat. No. 3,744,210 issued July 10, 1973 for Package Machine and Method, which application, assigned to the assignee of the present invention, shows in more detail aspects of package loading and forming apparatus 20.

Package loading and forming apparatus 20 includes a chain conveyor 22 which carries a plurality of conveyor molds or dies 24. Chain conveyor 22 and dies 24 are caused to be moved in a direction, as indicated by the arrows 26, by appropriate motive means (not shown). As the chain conveyor 22 and the dies 24 move in direction 26, the chain conveyor and the dies enter and leave various stages, designated A-H for convenience, wherein various steps in loading and forming vacuum-sealed package 10 is accomplished, as will be explained hereinafter.

At one side of package loading and forming apparatus 20, there is provided a roll 28 which supplies a heatsealable plastic packaging material 12 utilized to form bottom package member 12. Roll 28 may be mounted on an appropriate play-out roller 30 which is controlled by means (not shown) for supplying heat-sealable plastic packaging material 12 from roll 28 at a predetermined rate. Idler rollers 32a and 32b may also be provided for controlling the tension of heat sealable plastic packaging material 12'.

Similarly, rolls 34 and 36 are disposed at the other side of apparatus 20 for supplying, respectively, a gaspermeable packaging material 16' and a heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18'. Rolls 34 and 36 are mounted, respectively, on play-outs rollers 38 and 30 which are used with appropriate means (not shown) for controlling the rate or supply of gas-permeable packaging material 16' and heatsealable plastic packaging material 18. A tensioning mechanism, generally desig nated 42, is provided for controlling the tension of gaspermeable packaging material 16 and heatsealable plastic packaging material 18' as these materials are supplied from rolls 34, 36 in the direction of arrows 44 and 46, respectively. Such tensioning mechanisms are well known in the art and take the form of idler rollers 43, springs 45, etc.

Idler rollers 48, 50, disposed near the top of the flow path for dies 24, are provided to change the direction of movement of gas-permeable packaging material 16' and heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18 as these materials exit tensioning mechanism 42. Thus, gas-permeable intermediate packaging material 16' is caused to travel in a horizontal direction by idler roller 48 while heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18' is caused to travel in a horizontal direction by idler roller 50.

By way of general description, bottom package mem ber 12 is formed at stages A, B, C and granular material is loaded into the formed bottom package member by a loading element 54 at stage D. Gas-permeable intermediate package material 16 is introduced to die 24 at stage E where a sealing head element 58 seals this material to the peripheral edge of the bottom package member to form gas-permeable intermediate package member 16. Heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18' is introduced at stage F where a sealing head element 60 partially seals the heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18 to bottom package member 12 and gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 along peripheral edge 12b to form top package member 18. At stage G, evacuation element and sealing head element 62 evacuates the space between bottom package member 12 and top package member 18 through the face 16a of intermediate package member 16 and the unsealed portion of top package member 18. Evacuation element and sealing head element 62 then seals the unsealed portion of top package member 18 to maintain the vacuum within vacuum-sealed package 10. At

stage H, vacuumsealed package is cut from other like packages and removed from die 24.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the construction details of conveyor mold or die 24 and evacuation element and sealing head element 62 are shown. Die 24 includes a main body member 64 defining die cavities 66. Two such die cavities 66 are provided, although it is to be understood that a different number of die cavities may be provided if so desired. Disposed within each die cavity 66 is a spacer element 68 having a shape which conforms to the die cavity. Spacer element 68 allows the die cavity to form packages of various sizes, the size depending on the shape of the spacer element inserted into the die cavity.

Die 24 includes top clamps 70, disposed at the top of the die, for clamping the bottom package member 12 to the top of the die (see FIG. 2). Each top clamp 70 defines an aperture 70a through the top of the top clamp and an aperture 70b, in the side of the top clamp adjacent bottom package member 12 (FIG. 4). Apertures 70a, 7% are provided to evacuate the space between the bottom package member ]l2 and the top package member 18 through face 16a of gas-permeable intermediate package member'16 as will be explained hereinafter. Top clamps 70 are associated with top clamp release mechanisms 72 which operate to release the top clamps after the package has been evacuated and vacuum-sealed. Die 24 may also include a rubber cushion or gasket 74 which insures that the vacuum will be maintained as an evacuation element and sealing head element 62 engages die 24 to evacuate and seal the package. Another rubber cushion or gasket 75 insures that an adequate seal is made between top package member 18 and bottom package member 12 and gas-permeable intermediate package member 16.

The evacuation element and sealing head element, generally designated 62, includes an evacuation member, generally designated 76, and a sealing head member, generally designated 78. The evacuation member is adapted to evacuate the space between bottom package member 12 and top package member 18 through face 16a of gas-permeable intermediate package mem ber 16 and through the unsealed portion of the top package member. After the evacuation has been completed, sealing head member 78 is adapted to seal the unsealed portion of top package member 18, thereby providing a hermetic seal for vacuum-sealed package 10.

Evacuation member 76, which is shown in an inoperative position in FIG. 3, defines an evacuation channel 80 which is connected to a source of suction or vacuum (not shown) by a hose 82. Evacuation member 76 includes a downwardly extending shoulder 84 which is adapted to engage the rubber cushion or gasket 74 of die 24 as evacuation element and sealing head element 62 is moved downwardly to the evacuation position indicated in FIG. 4. In the evacuation position shown in FIG. 4, evacuation member 76 moves to an operative position, in contact with die 24, while sealing head member 78 remains in an inoperative position, out of contact with the die. An annular rubber cushion or gasket 86, which is disposed at one end of the evacuation channel 80, is adapted to engage top clamp 70, about aperture 70a, when the evacuation member is in the operative position of FIG. 4. This insures that the suction from vacuum channel 80 will draw the air or gas from the granular material. A suction or vacuum path is thus provided between bottom package member 12 and top package member 18 (in the direction of arrows 88) from granular material 14, through the face 16a of gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 and the unsealed portion of the top package member 18, through aperture b and aperture 70a of top clamp 70. Thus, quick and efficient evacuation of the loaded package is provided.

After the package has been evacuated, the unsealed portion of top package member I8 is selaed to bottom package member 12 and gas-intermediate package member 16. In order to accomplish this, sealing head member 78 is provided. Sealing head member 78 includes a heating element 90 (see FIG. 3) which is inserted between sealing elements 92, 94. Projections 94a, which extend downwardly from sealing element 94, are constructed and arranged to seal the unsealed portion of top package member after the package has been evacuated. To provide an efficient seal, projec tions 94a make contact with top package member 18 which is disposed on top of cushion or gasket (see FIG. 4).

Thus, in a typical operational sequence, evacuation element and sealing head element 62 moves downwardly, as a unit, from an inoperative position (FIG. 3) to a first operative position (FIG. 4) wherein evacuation member 76 engages die 24. It is in this first operative position that the package is evacuated. After evacuation is completed, sealing head member 78 moves downwardly, in the direction of arrow 96, to seal the unsealed portion of top package member 18, thereby maintaining the vacuum-sealed package 10. The movement of evacuation element and head sealing element 62 may be accomplished by spring elements, generally designated 98, which may be connected to an appropriate control mechanism (not shown).

In order to provide a more complete understanding of the operation and method for loadig and sealing vacuumsealed package 10, a typical operational sequence will now be described with reference particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2. For convenience, FIG. 2 illustrates the sequential movement of a typical die 24 from stage D to stage G, the movement being in the direction of arrows 100. It is to be understood, however, that all operations of package loading and forming apparatus 20 take place simultaneously, so that while one package may be at loading stage E, for example, another package may be at another stage, for example, evacuation and final sealing stage G, etc.

Heat-scalable plastic packaging material 12, supplied from roll 28, is placed on die 24 with top claims 70, at the top of die 24, holding the heat-sealable plastic packaging material 12 in place. At stage A, a conventional heating element 52 heats the heat-scalable plastic packaging material 12' causing the material to become malleable in shape. The die proceeds to stage B where suction from an appropriate source (not shown) causes the material 12' to be drawn into die cavity 66. The material 112' will conform to die cavity 66 (or will conform to spacer element 68 which is inserted into the die cavity 66 if a smaller bottom package member 12 is desired). However, part of the material 12' remains at the top of the die 24 and this part will form peripheral edge 12b of vacuum-sealed package 10. At the next stage, stage C, the material 12' is allowed to cool within the die 24 to provide bottom package member 12. I

At stage D, a predetermined amount of granular material 14 is deposited or loaded into the fonned bottom package member 12 by loader 54. Die 24, with bottom package member 12 filled with granular material 14, is shown in the D illustration of FIG. 2.

Die 24 continues to move to stage E where gaspermeable packaging material 16', supplied from roll 34, is placed on top of granular material 14 and the peripheral edge 12b of the bottom package member 12. Material 16' is advantageously chosen to be of a width such that the material will not rest on top clamps 70 as the material is placed on die 24 (see illustration E" of FIG. 2). Conventional sealing head element 58 then fully seals the gas-permeable packaging material 16' to the peripheral edge 12b of bottom packaging member 12 thereby forming the gas-permeable intermediate package member 16. The gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 and the bottom package member 12 define a continuous, uniform and full seal 16b along the peripheral edge 12b of the bottom package member. The gas-permeable intermediate packaging material 16 further defines a face 16a which is porous to the flow of gases but imporous to the flow of granular material therethrough. Die 24 is shown as exiting stage E in ellustration E of FIG. 2.

Die 24 then moves to stage F where heat-sealable plastic packaging material 18, supplied from roll 36, is provided and is placed on the gas-permeable intermediate packaging member 16. The width of material 18' is such that when this material is placed on the top of die 24, it also rests on the top of a portion of top clamp 70. However, the width of this material is such that the material will not cover aperture 70a at the top of the clamps (see illustration F of FIG. 2). Sealing head element 60, at stage F, then seals part of the heatsealing plastic packaging material 18 to both gaspermeable intermediate packaging material member 16 and bottom package member 12, along a portion of peripheral edge 12b, thereby forming top package member 18. This is shown as sealed portion 18b in the illustration F of FIG. 2. However, an unsealed portion, designated 18a, is provided between the top package member 18 and the gas-permeable intermediate and the bottom package members. It is through this unsealed portion 18a (and face 16a of gas-permeable intermediate package member 16) that evacuation of the packageoccurs.

Evacuation occurs at stage G, shortly after evacuation member 76 moves downwardly to engage the top of die 24 (see FIG. 4). Thus, the space between bottom package member 12 and top package member 18 is evacuated through the face 16a of the gas-permeable intermediate package member and through the unsealed portion 130 of the top package member. This removes gas, etc. from the granular material. However, as has been explained hereinbefore, the gas-permeable intermediate package member retains the granular material 14 within the confines of bottom package member 12 so that none of this material is drawn up to the sealing area (peripheral edge 12b) of the package.

After evacuation has occurred, sealing head member 78 moves downwardly, in the direction of arrow 96 in FIG. 4, and sealing projections 94a seal the heretofore unsealed portion 18a of top package member 18 to the bottom package member 12 and the gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 along peripheral edge 12b. This provides a hermetic seal for a vacuum-sealed package 10. More particularly, package 10 may be hermetically sealed to maintain the vacuum within the package since the gas-permeable intermediate package member 16 prevents the granular material 14 from being drawn up into sealing area 12b during evacuation. Since there is no material in the sealing area, an effective vacuum seal is provided when the package is sealed. This is shown in illustration G in FIG. 2.

After the package has been fully loaded and sealed, in stages D-G, the package proceeds to stage H (FIG. 1) where knife elements (not shown) cut and trim the packages formed in dies 24 to provide the vacuumsealed package 10 illustrated in FIG. 5.

Obviously, other modifications of the present invention are possible in light of the above teaching. For example, at stage G where the packages are evacuated, the package may be gas flushed, if so desired. For example, vacuum channel 80 (see FIG. 4) may also define a gas flow channel for providing a gas flush for package 10. If a gas flush is utilized, package 10 is evacuated as indicated in FIG. 4, that is, air is drawn out of the package in the direction of arrows 88. Once this has been accomplished, and prior to completing the seal of top package member 18, a flushing gas, such as an inert gas, is forced into package 10. Vacuum channel 80 then becomes a gas flow channel with the flushing gas flowing in the opposite direction of arrows 88 from channel 80 through aperture a, aperture 70b, intermediate package member 16, into package 10. The top package member 18 is then fully sealed to maintain the inert gas within the package. Similarly, a trace gas, such as freon or the like, may be introduced into the package to detect leaks if so desired. It is to be understood, therefore, that the term vacuum-sealed package includes gas flushed packages and the term evacuating or similar term includes gas flushing. Further, although heat sealable materials have been shown it is apparent that pressure sensitive, ultrasonic etc. sealing may be utilized. It is to be understood, therefore, that the embodiments described are merely an example of the principles of the invention. Additional embodiments may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention.

What is claimed is:

l. A vacuum-sealed package of granular material comprising a bottom package member defining a material-receiving cavity containing said granular ma terial, an intermediate package member substantially permeable to the flow of gases therethrough but substantially impermeable to the flow of granular material therethrough, a continuous, uniform and full seal between said bottom package member and said intermediate package member and a top package member sealed to said bottom package member to maintain the vacuum in said vacuum-sealed package.

2. The invention according to claim 1 wherein said bottom package member is formed of a heat-sealable material.

3. The invention according to claim 1 wherein said top package member is sealed to said intermediate package member.

4. A vacuum-sealed package of granular material comprising a bottom package member having upstanding side walls terminating in an upper peripheral edge and defining a materialreceiving cavity containing said granular material, an intermediate package member are formed of a heat-sealable material.

7. A gas-flushed package of granular material comprising a bottom package member defining a materialreceiving cavity containing said granular material, an intermediate package member substantially permeable to the flow of gases therethrough but substantially im permeable to the flow of said granular material therethrough, a continuous, uniform and full seal between said bottom package member and said intermediate package member and a top package member sealed to said bottom package member to maintain the gas-fiush within said gas-flushed package.

Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification426/106, 206/525
International ClassificationB65D77/20, B65B31/02
Cooperative ClassificationB65D77/2024, B65B31/021
European ClassificationB65D77/20E, B65B31/02C