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Publication numberUS3852941 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 10, 1974
Filing dateAug 20, 1973
Priority dateAug 20, 1973
Publication numberUS 3852941 A, US 3852941A, US-A-3852941, US3852941 A, US3852941A
InventorsC Bross
Original AssigneePennwalt Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vial capping apparatus
US 3852941 A
Abstract
An apparatus for automatically capping a vial with a child-safe cap on a mass production basis is disclosed. Means are provided at each of a plurality of movable work stations: to hold a filled vial in a cam-actuated vial holder, to grasp and tightly hold a cap with a cam-actuated cap holder, and to lower and rotate the cap holder in order to assemble the cap to the vial under pressure, after which the cap is released by the cap holder, and the vial is released by the vial holder.
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United States Patent [191 Bross VIAL CAPPING APPARATUS [75] Inventor: Charles Frederick Bross, Chicago,

Ill.

[73] Assignee: Pennwalt Corporation, Philadelphia,

[22] Filed: Aug. 20, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 389,906

[52] US. Cl. 53/317, 53/33l.5

[51] Int. Cl B671) 3/20, B65b 7/28 [58] Field of Search 53/317, 331.5, 306, 308, 53/329, 287, 367, 350, 365

[56] 1 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,797,679 3/1931 Clark 53/317 X 2,189,628 2/1940 Corsi 53/350 3,054,240 9/1962 Dimond 53/367 X [451 Dec. 10, 1974 3,073,090 l/1963 Roberts et al. 53/317 X 3,242,632 3/1966 Dimond 53/317 X 3,303,633 2/1967 Wilhere 53/317 X Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee Assistant Examiner-Horace M. Culver Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Edward A. Sager [57] ABSTRACT An apparatus for automatically capping a vial with a child-safe cap on a mass production basis is disclosed.

' Means are provided at each of a plurality of movable work stations: to hold a filled vial in a cam-actuated vial holder, to grasp and tightly hold a cap with a camactuated cap holder, and to lower and rotate the cap holder in order to assemble the cap to the vial under pressure, after which the cap is released by the cap holder, and the vial is released by the vial holder.

6 Claims, 15 Drawing Figures PATENTEU DEC 10 $74 PATENTEI] Hts 101914 SHEET '4 BF 6 PATENIEH DEC 10 1914 SHEET 8 BF VIAL CAPPING APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to vial capping apparatus, and more particularly to apparatus for capping a vial on a mass production basis to provide a capped vial which is child-safe.

Many products are now required to be sold in childsafe containers. Such containers are considered childsafe if a sequence of unusual hand movements is required to remove the cap. For example, to remove a child-safe cap it may be necessary to first press down on the cap, then rotate it, and finally release it. Such is the situation when the vial has several generally J- shaped grooves instead of threads at its mouth, and the cap has an equal number of lugs. Here an equally involved procedure for assembling the cap to the vial is required. The present invention provides apparatus for automatically assembling child-safe caps to vials on a mass production basis which is effective, rugged and dependable.

According to the present invention, a plurality of capping devices are mounted on the periphery of a rotatable hub or work table, each device cooperating with vertical and horizontal cam structure to effect movement of its parts. A filled vial is transferred to a vial holder in open position after which the holder closes by cam actuation. Caps are fed to the apparatus where they are grasped by a cam-actuated cap holder. The cap holder is rotated so that lugs within the cap held thereby will register with notches leading to the grooves at the mouth of the vial; then the cap is pressed downwardly in order to move the cap lugs downwardly through the entering grooves; and next, with the lugs engaging the grooves, the cap is rotated in order to assemble the cap onto the vial. Finally, the cap is released by the toggle grip, the vial is released by the vial holder, and the capped vial is removed from the capping apparatus.

The foregoing is carried out by novel apparatus, having means for performing the above steps, which will be described hereinafter in detail.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The capping machine of the present invention is adapted for operative association with a cap delivery device, a vial delivery device, and a device for removing capped vials. These devices are arranged about the capping machine at spaced-apart locations.

The capping machine has a number of capping devices arranged about the periphery of a rotary worktable so that they pass through the locations of the abovementioned devices.

A vial holder of each capping device grasps a filled vial from the vial delivery device and holds the vial tightly until it releases it as a capped vial to the vial removing device.

A cap holder is mounted on the lower end ofa rotatable barreI which, in turn, is rotatably carried on a vertically movable, cam-actuated spindle. By means of an aligning and turning ring on the barrel frictionally engaging a turning block, the barrel is rotated until the fingers of the cap holder are aligned in the direction of arcuate travel, after which the fingers are lowered into grasping engagement with a cap being delivered by the cap delivery device. A toggle mechanism of the cap holder moves to over-center position when a cap is grasped in order to keep the fingers tightly closed on the cap during its assembly to the vial. During assembly, another turning ring on the barrel engages another turning block in order to rotate the cap until its grooveengaging lugs enter the entry notches of the grooves, after which by cam actuation of the spindle the cap is pressed downwardly during further rotation whereby securing of the cap onto the vial is accomplished. Finally, the cam removes downward pressure on the spindle, allowing the fingers to move upwardly by spring bias.

The toggle joint of the cap holder is reversed from its over-center position as the fingers of the cap holder move upwardly. This action takes place because the cap resists upward movement once assembled to a vial held firmly by the vial holder, whereupon the toggle is unlocked and the cap is released by the fingers.

The capped vial is released by the vial holder to the vial removing device as a final step in the assembly operation, and the cycle is ready to be repeated.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of apparatus embodying the invention, shown in association with devices for transferring caps and filled vials thereto and for removing a capped vial therefrom;

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view of the apparatus, taken along lines 22 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a horizontal sectional view of the apparatus, taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a 4 sectional view of the apparatus, taken along lines 4apparatus, of FIG. 2 and showing on an enlarged scale one capping station of the apparatus;

FIG. 5 is a horizontal sectional view of one capping station of the apparatus, taken along lines 55 of FIG. 4 and showing on a reduced scale a turning and aligning ring engaging an aligning block;

FIG. 6 is another horizontal sectional view taken through the device of FIG. 4, but along lines 66, showing on enlarged scale the toggle mechanism of the cap holder;

FIGS. 7a 7c enlarged sequential views FIG. 7a, FIG. 7b, and FIG. ofa fragment of the device of FIG. 2, illustrating the cap holder as it picks up a cap to be assembled to a vial;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged view of a vial holder, shown in elevation and looking in the direction of arrows 88 in FIG. 1 at location C;

FIG. 9b is a horizontal sectional view of the vial holder appearing in FIG. 8. FIGS. 9a and 9c are addtional views in broken lines to illustrate the position of its parts while approaching and leaving location C;

FIG. 10 is a developed, elevational view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, looking radially inwardly thereof, to show capping stations at locations A, B, C, D, E and F cooperating with the cams;

FIG. 11 is a view of a modified hub portion, containing an overload clutch.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The vial capping apparatus 10 shown in the drawings comprises a rotary worktable 11 mounted in driven relation to a vertical shaft 12 turned by a suitable motor (not shown) in the direction of the arrow 14. The worktable 11 includes a hub 16 supporting a pair of octagonally shaped plates 18. The plates 18 are rigidly connected to the hub 16 in vertically spaced relationship.

Rigidly secured to corresponding pairs of the flat edges of the plates 18 is a vertically extending support 20. Preferably, each support 20 is bolted at its upper and lower end portions to the spaced-apart plates 18. To each of the supports 20 is mounted a capping device 22.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention, eight capping devices 22 are mounted on the periphery of the worktable 11 for rotation about the vertical axis of rotation of the shaft 12. Each capping device 22 is structurally similar to its neighbor. Therefore, in the present disclosure, only one capping device .22 will be described in detail. Its operation will be described by taking one capping device 22 through one cycle of operation corresponding to one full rotation or turn of the shaft 12 about its vertical axis. During one complete cycle, a capping device 22 will proceed through locations designated in the drawings by the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F (see FIGS. 1 and It will be understood that the other capping devices are going through the same cycle but at different locations about the axis.

The operations performed at the mentioned locations will now bedescribed:

At location A provision is made to orient that portion of the capping device which will grip a cap 45.

At location B caps 45 are fed to the capping device 22 and there held on a table in position to be grasped by a cap holder 40. particular At location C filled vials 50 are transferred to a vial holder 32 of the capping device.

At location D the cap 45 is twisted onto the vial 50 with downward force.

At location E the cap 45 is released by the cap holder 40.

At location F the capped vial 50 is removed from the vial holder 32.

The movements of the various parts of each capping device are controlled by cam structure. These include a first'cam 24, best seen in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, which is stationarily mounted on a base 26. The cam 24 is a generally flat structure disposed in a horizontal plane and provided with a central aperture 28 through which the shaft 12 extends, with generous clearance therebetween. The camming surfaces 30 on the periphery of the cam 24 face in horizontal direction and follow a contour best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3. As will be seen, it is the function of the cam 24 to actuate parts of the capping device 22 effecting movement ofa vial holder 32. Motions are transmitted to the rotating vial holder 32 from the camming surface 30 of stationary cam 24.

Further included in the cam structure for the apparatus is an overhead cam 34 which is rigidly and stationarily supported by structure designated by the numeral 36 (see FIG. 2). The overhead cam 34 extends in a full circular path about the vertical axis of the shaft 12. The downwardly facing camming surface of the overhead cam 34 is designated by the numeral 38, its contour being best seen in FIG. 10. It is the function of the overhead cam 34 to effect movement of parts of the capping device 22 effecting movement of the cap holder 40. The motions produced by overhead cam 34 on cap holder 40 are best seen in FIGS. 7 and 10.

Referring now to FIG. 1, the apparatus 10 is shown in association with a cap feeding device 42 including a table 44 carrying caps 45 at location 8, also a vial trans ferring device 46 including a vial carrier 48 for holding a via] 50. Reference is made to FIG. 8 for details of construction of the vial 50 and cap 45 to which the invention is applied. The vial transferring device 46 rotates in the direction of the arrow 52 for transferring a vial 50 to the vial holder 32 at location C. Further associated with the apparatus 10 is a device 54 for removing a capped vial at location F, preferably of the star wheel type which is rotatable about a vertical axis in the direction of the arrow 56. The arrows 58 show the direction of movement of the capping devices 22 and plates 18 relative to the stationary earns 24 and 34. Also shown in FIG. 1 are an aligning block 60 and a turning block 62, each of which is engageable with the capping device 22 to rotate it in the direction of arrow 63. Both blocks 60 and 62 are made of durable, resilient material in an arcuate shape and are supported on the structure 36. The functions of the blocks 60 and 62 will be explained more fully hereinafter.

The arrows employed thus far to show direction of movement include arrows 52, 56 and 63 to designate clockwise movement and arrows l4 and 58 to designate counterclockwise movement, as seen in the drawlngs.

A capping device 22 will now be described with reference to FIG. 4. As there shown, the capping device 22 is at location B, with its parts positioned for picking up a cap 45 from the table 44.

The capping device 22 comprises an upright spindle 64 on which a barrel 66 is mounted for rotation about a vertical axis, with a bushing 68 between them. The barrel 66 is supported by a washer 70 which is secured by a bolt 72 to the lower end of the spindle 64. The bushing 68 and the barrel 66 are maintained in driving relationship by means of a key 74 within radially aligned, vertical keyways. The barrel 66 includes an upper or hub portion 76 having an aligning ring 78 protruding outwardly from its outer surface in radial direction. The peripheral configuration of the aligning ring 78 is shown in FIG. 5.

The barrel 66 further includes a generally cylindrical lower portion 80 which telescopically receives the lower end of the hub portion 76. A driving relationship between the outer surface of the hub portion 76 and the lower portion 80 is maintained by a key 82 in aligned, mutually facing keyways. The two portions 76 and 80 of the barrel 66 are secured together against relative vertical movement by a set screw 84.

The hub portion 76 may comprise an overload clutch of the coil spring type, designated 77 in FIG. 11. This type of clutch is well known in the art, an example being a Hilliard model L 2-l-3l3A coil spring type of clutch. It is the function of an overload clutch to limit the torque transmitted between driving and driven shafts which may be in telescopic relationship, as are bushing 68 and lower portion 80. An overload clutch so employed in the presently disclosed apparatus will prevent excessive torque from being applied to the cap 45 when it is being assembled to vial 50, whereby damage to a lug of the cap or to the surfaces of the generally J-shaped groove in the vial is prevented.

The barrel 66 is journalled in a bushing 86. The bushing 86 is carried by a lower horizontal flange 88 extending from the support 20. As shown in FIG. 2, the flange 88 is bolted to support 20. The lower portion 80 of barrel 66 is received in the bushing 86 in order that the barrel will be guided and supported for rotation about a vertical axis on the spindle 64.

A turning ring 92 is disposed between the hub portion 76 and an annular bevel 90 on the spindle 64. It is the function of the turning ring 92 to transmit to the barrel 66 the rotational movement resulting from fric tional engagement between the turning block 62 and a contact surface 94 on the turning ring 92. As a result, the barrel 66 turns in the direction of arrow 63.

Turning ring 92 is mounted on the bushing68, coaxially with the barrel 66, for rotation on the lower end of the spindle 64, being keyed together by a key 95. As best seen in FIG. 4, the underside of the turning ring 92 is provided with a annular recess 96 which is correspondingly shaped to the upper surface of the hub portion 76, these parts being held in spaced-apart relationship by means of a compression spring 98 between them. With this arrangement, turning motion transmitted to the turning ring 92 is transmitted through to the barrel 66. Since the spring 98 is only partly compressed, vertical motion transmitted from the spindle 64 to the barrel 66 will be yieldingly resisted during further compression of the spring 98.

The upper portion of the spindle 64 is supported for vertical, sliding motion by a sleeve bushing 100. The bushing 100 is rigidly connected to an upper, horizontal flange extending from the support 20. The sliding fit between the bushing 100 and the enlarged portion of the spindle 64 above the bevel 90 holds the spindle 64 against lateral motion and yet permits free sliding motion in vertical direction. A pin 104 extends horizontally through the spindle 64 and a pair of opposed vertical slots 106 in a sleeve bushing 100 in order to hold the spindle 64 against rotation about the longitudinal axis of the spindle.

At the upper end of the spindle 64 is an'annular flange 108 mounting a bifurcated extension 110. Pivotally supported to the extension 110 by a horizontally extending axle pin 112 is a roller 114. The roller 114 engages the camming surface 38 of the overhead cam 34 in order to transmit vertical motion through the spindle 64, to the barrel 66. A compression spring 116 is disposed between the upper, horizontal flange 102 and the annular flange 108 in order to bias the roller 114 into engagement with the camming surface 38. The spring 116 is maintained in compression as the roller 114 traverses the cam 34. The spring 116 yieldingly resists downward motion of the spindle 64 under the camming action of the overhead cam 34.

At the lower end of the barrel 66 the cap holder 40 is carried. Details of the cap holder 40 may be seen in FIGS. 4 and 7. It is the function of the cap holder 40 to grip, hold and release a cap 45, and to transmit vertical and rotational motions to the cap from the barrel 66. The cap holder 40 comprises a pair of fingers 122, each having a tip 124 mounted at the lower end thereof. Each tip 124 is threaded to the lower end ofits associated finger 122 and adjustably secured by a nut 126 so that the horizontal spacing between concavefaced fingertips 124 may be adjusted to suit the diameter of the cap 45 to be gripped by them. The gripping force of the fingertips 124 may be increased by adjusting the spacing of the fingertips to be more closely spaced. Conversely, with wider spacing between closed fingertips 124, the gripping force on a cap 45 will be re duced.

Each of the fingers 122 is pivotally connected approximately at its center by a pivot 128 to a bifurt ed arm 131 extending in horizontal direction from a body 130. The spaced, upper ends of the fingers 122 are linked together by a pair of toggle links 132. Each of the toggle links is pivotally connected at its outer end to the upper end of its associated finger 122 by means ofa link pin 134. The inner ends of the toggle links 132 are pivotally connected together by means of a horizontal pivot pin 136. The pivot pin 136 is held at its ends by aligned, apertured portions of a tubular bushing extension 138 which extends downwardly from the lower portion of the barrel 66, thereby holding pin 136 against movement relative to the barrel 66 in all the various positions of the parts of the cap holder 40.

The operation of the cap holder 40 and the toggle action employed will be described after first noting the manner in which the fingertips 124 are aligned in the direction of arcuate travel. The reasons for aligning the fingertips 124. will appear more fully hereinafter, but it will suffice to say at this point that they are aligned in order that the rearward fingertip may come into contact with the cap 45 before closing action of the fingertips takes place. This may be seen in FIG. 7b, also FIG. 3 as the device 22 moves between locations A and B. In FIG. 3 it may be seen that the cap holder 40 is elongated in the direction of the toggle links 132, with the fingers 122 disposed at opposite ends of such links.

It will be noted that the cap holder 40 is rotated about a vertical axis during travel of the device 22 between locations D and F. With this arrangement, the longitudinal axis or extent of the cap holder 40 may extend in any horizontal direction radial to the spindle 64 by the time location F is reached. Therefore, some means must be provided to insure alignment of the horizontal longitudinal extent of the cap holder 40 in general direction of arcuate travel as the device 22 approaches location B. For this purpose, stationary aligning block 60 and aligning ring 78 are provided.

As best seen in FIG. 5, aligning ring 78 is generally circular about the axis of spindle 64, although it has two flat spots 140 on the surface thereof at diametrically opposite locations. The flat spots 140 have surface portions extending parallel to one another as well as the horizontal extent of the cap holder 40. Such flat spots are arranged to be out of engagement with the aligning block 60 and spaced therefrom, when in mutually facing relationship therewith. However, the circular or cylindrical portion of the aligning ring 78 is sized, positioned and arranged to be in frictional engagement with the aligning block 60 when any surface portion thereof is in mutually facing relationship therewith. Preferably, such circular portion of the aligning ring 78 is knurled in order to promote frictional contact between engaging surfaces whereby a turning motion in the direction of arrow 63 is transmitted through the aligning ring 78 to the bushing 68 as the device 22 traverses the length of the aligning block 60, but only until one of the flat spots 140 faces the block 60 whereupon turning action ceases. This provision insures that the horizontal extent of the cap holder 40 extends generally in the direction of arcuate travel of the device 22.

Referring now to FIGS. 7a 7c, the action of the cap holder 40, especially in respect of toggle action, will be described. It will be recalled that the spindle 64 is moved downwardly by cam actuation as the cap holder 40 approaches location B. FIG. 7a represents the positions of parts as the cap holder is approaching location B. Here, the toggle links 132 are out of horizontal alignment and are at an angular inclination to one another, thus shortening the horizontal distance between link pins 134 so that the fingertips 124 are in their extreme spaced-apart position. At this time, pivot pin 136 is disposed in an upper portion of opposed vertical slots 142 in a slide 144. The parts are at rest in this position until acted upon by an outside force. It will also be noted that the slide 144 is received for vertical sliding motion within bushing extension 138 and the continuation thereof within lower portion 80. The slide 144 is in its lowermost position as seen in FIG. 7a.

As the cap holder 40 moves to location B, fingertip 124 engages cap 45 and the abutment surface 146 on the underside of body 130 engages the top surface of the cap 45. Such contact is cushioned by the coil spring 98 in order to limit the downward force on the cap 45, which downward force is resisted by the table 44. This action results in a net upward force on the body 130 resulting in movement of the parts of the cap holder 40 to the positions showing in FIG. 70. The upward force on the body 130 causes the slide 144 to move upwardly; and finally the pivot pin 136 is at the lower end of the vertical slots 142 wherein the links 132 are slightly overcenter (below) a horizontal position. The cap 45 is compressed in horizontal direction between the fingertips 124, and the compressive force is transmitted through the linkage system to lock the parts in position in accordance with conventional toggle joint action. Thus, the cap 45 is tightly clamped between the fingertips 124 of the cap holder until a net downward force is applied to the cap 45. The cap 45 and the parts of cap holder 40 are held in this position as the capping device moves from location B through locations C and D and furthermore for most of the distance traversed between locations D and E.

At location E the spindle 64 is biased upwardly by the spring 116 because the camming surface 38 inclines upwardly. Although the cap holder 40 is pulled upwardly with the barrel 66, the cap 45 is now assembled to the vial 50 and held against upward movement by the vial holder 32. This net downward force on the fingertips 124 breaks the toggle joint, moves the toggle links 132 out of overcenter position and opens the fingertips 122.

The vial holder 32 will now be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 8 and 9. As shown, a vial 50 is transferred from the vial carrier 48 of the vial transferring device 46. The latter turns in the direction of the arrow 52 while the vial holder 32 moves in an arcuate path on the periphery of the worktable 11 in the direction of the arrow 58. Here the parts are shown in the positions they occupy at location C as transfer of the vial 50 from the device 46 to the vial holder 32 takes place. At this location the cap 45 is held in elevated position by the cap holder 40 above the mouth of the vial 50 and in vertical alignment therewith.

The vial holder 32 comprises a claw assembly 150 including an upper claw 152 and a lower claw 154. The upper and lower claws 152, 154 are rigidly connected to the support for movement therewith. The distal ends of the claws 152, 154 rotate through horizontally extending notches 156 in the vial carrier 48, with suitable clearance therebetween, and grasp the vial 50 from the vial carrier 48.

In order to hold the vial 50 securely, a thumb 158 is provided. The thumb is omitted from FIG. 8 for the sake of clarity. The thumb shown in FIG. 9 is mounted to the claws 154 and 152 for pivotal movement about a vertical axis by means ofa pin 160. A suitable bushing 162 is preferably provided between the pin 160 and the lower claw 154. The pivotal connection for the thumb 158 is located intermediate its ends so that movement of its hooked end 164 may be controlled and actuated by motion transmitted to its other end where a vertical drive pin 166 is affixed.

Motion to the drive pin 166 is transmitted by the slotted end portion 168 of a cam follower 170. The cam follower 170 is adapted for reciprocating horizontal motion through a horizontally disposed bushing 172 in support 20. A coil spring 174 of the compression type extends inwardly from the support 20 to a flange 176 (shown in FIG. 3) in order to bias the cam follower I70 inwardly toward the camming surface of cam 24. Actual contact with the camming surface 30 is made by a roller 178, rotatably supported at the inner end of the cam follower 170 and interposed between the flange 176 and the camming surface 30. In order to optimize gripping at the hooked end 164 of the thumb 158 an insert 180 of durable resilient material is preferably provided at its contact surface facing the vial 50.

In FIGS. 9a 9c the view designated FIG. 9b shows the vial holder 32 in full lines. Broken lines are employed in view FIG. 9a in order to indicate the positions of corresponding parts of the vial holder 32 immediately before reaching location C, and broken lines are again employed in FIG. to show the positions ofcorresponding parts of the vial holder 32 immediately after leaving location C. As shown in FIG. 90 the vial 50 is tightly held between the thumb 158 and the claws 152, 154 under the force of spring 174. In this position of parts, spring 174 exerts sufficient force that vial 50 is unable to move in any direction when it is subjected to forces applied thereto through the cap 45 during assembly.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the cam 24 is of the stationary type, being rigidly mounted to the base 26. As best seen in FIG. 3, each capping device 22 rotates in the direction of the arrow 58 about the vertical axis of the shaft 12, being driven with the shaft 12 with its roller 178 in contact with the camming surface 30. At location A, spring 174 is compressed and thumb 158 is held away from the claw assembly 150. The vial holder 32 retains this position of parts for locations B and C since this portion of camming surface 30 is arcuate. As the roller 178 moves beyond location C, however, it moves inwardly along'an inclined portion 182 of the camming surface 30. The cam surface portion 182 leads to another arcuate portion of the cam surface 30. However, this arcuate portion which extends for and beyond locations D and E is on a smaller radius from the shaft axis than is the arcuate portion thereof associated with locations A, B and C. Accordingly, the cam follower is biased inwardly and the thumb 158 closes its grip on the vial 50 in the manner aforesaid. Immediately before roller 178 reaches location F, it encounters another inclined portion 184 of the camming surface 30 which moves the cam follower outwardly, thus releasing the grip of the thumb 158 from the capped via] 50. As noted previously, the vial 50 is now released from the vial holder 32, whereupon it is removed from the apparatus 10 by the device 54.

The apparatus 10 of the present invention is employed for assembling various kinds of child-safe cap and vial assemblies. One such assembly is shown in FIG. 8. The via] 50 is shown to have an annular series of generally J-shaped grooves 186 about its mouth, preferably four of them. The cap 45 is provided with a like number of lugs 188 equally spaced about the interior of the cap adjacent the rim thereof, and projecting radially inwardly. Each lug 188 is adapted to be received within an entry slot 190 of the groove 186 and then be moved downwardly and horizontally along a path inclined to the horizontal, and then proceed horizontally through a horizontal leg of the groove, after which it moves upwardly a minute distance to final assembled position. In final assembled position the lug 188 is held captive by a projection 192 extending downwardly into the horizontal portion of the groove adjacent the inclined portion thereof.

In order to assist in holding the cap in locked position, and also to assist in sealing the vial, a flexible disc of'plastic material is disposed within the cap in contact with a cylindrical projection 196. During assembly of the cap to the vial, the peripheral edge portion of the disc 194 is deflected upwardly and the resilience thereof maintains contact with the mouth of the vial while at the same time yieldingly resisting further downward movement of the cap 45 relative to the via] 50.

The various parts of the apparatus described herein are constructed and arranged to perform the assembly operation described hereinbefore when identifying the locations A to F. It is particularly noteworthy that cam 34 biases the spindle 64 downwardly in the direction of the arrow 198 while the barrel 66 is rotated in the direction of the arrow 63 as the device 22 travels between locations C and E, coordinating cam action from horizontal cam 24 in order to assemble the cap 45 to the vial 50 in the manner described.

I claim:

1. A capping machine for assembling a cap to a vial with rotation and pressure, said capping machine being adapted for operative association with:

a. first means for delivering caps to a first location;

b. second means for delivering filled vials to a second location; and

.c. third means for receiving capped vials at a third location;

said capping maching comprising:

d. a rotary worktable mounted for rotation about an upright axis;

e. at least one capping device mounted on said worktable adjacent its periphery for rotation therewith;

f. fourth means for rotating said worktable whereby said capping device moves therewith in an arcuate path through said first, second, and third locations; said capping device including:

g. a vial holder for receiving a vial from said second means, for tightly holding said vial between said second and third locations, and for delivering said via] to said third means;

h. a cap holder comprising a pair of fingers for holding a cap by the rim thereof, a mechanism for moving said fingers toward one another to closed position for holding a cap during movement of said capping device between said first and third locations and for moving said fingers apart to release said cap from said fingers at said third location;

i. an elongated, upright spindle mounted for upward and downward movement in axial direction;

j. a barrel mounted on said spindle for rotation about the longitudinal axis of said spindle and being movable upwardly and downwardly with said spindle, said barrel supporting said cap holder at the lower end thereof;

k. a first cam follower connected to said spindle;

l. a first cam arranged in camming relation to said first cam follower, said first cam having a camming surface contoured for moving said cap holder with said spindle and said barrel downwardly at said first location whereby said cap holder descends on a cap at said first location, the camming surface of said first cam being contoured to effect upward movement of said cap holder with said spindle between said first and second locations, and said camming surface of said first cam being contoured to effect downward movement of said cap holder with said spindle between said second and third locations whereby said cap holder is biased downwardly on said vial during assembly of said cap to said vial;

m. a turning ring formed about said spindle on the surface of said barrel;

n. A turning block engageable with said turning ring between said second and third locations for rotating said cap by said cap holder relative to said vial during assembly of said cap to said vial;

0. an aligning ring on said barrel formed about the axis of said spindle and including a pair of flat spots therein, said flat spots being disposed inwardly of adjacent portions of said aligning ring, and

p. a second turning block engageable with said aligning ring between said third location and said first location for rotating said cap holder until said fingers are spaced apart in the direction of movement between said third location and said first location.

2. A capping machine according to claim 1 wherein said mechanism includes a toggle joint linkage between said spindle and said fingers and including locking means responsive to force in one vertical direction for locking said fingers, said locking means being responsive to force opposite in direction to said one vertical direction for unlocking said fingers.

3. A capping machine according to claim 2 further including table means at said first location supporting a cap and applying a downward force to said toggle joint as said fingers descend on said cap whereby said fingers are locked in closed position; and wherein said camming surface of said first cam provides means for moving said fingers upwardly with said spindle between said second and third locations for unlocking said fingers.

4. A capping machine according to claim 1 wherein said vial holder comprises a stationary claw, a movable thumb member operatively associated with said claw for holding a vial, a second cam follower connected to said thumb member, a second cam arranged in camming relation to said second cam follower, said second cam having a camming surface with a first portion as means for holding said thumb member and said claw apart between said third location and said second location, said camming surface having a second position as means for moving said thumb member toward said claw at said second location into closed position of said vial holder, said camming surface having a third portion as means for maintaining said vial holder in closed position between said second and third locations, and said camming surface having a fourth portion as means for moving said thumb member away from said claw at said third location.

5. A capping machine according to claim 1 adapted for assembling a cap to a vial, wherein said vial is provided at its mouth with a plurality of generally J-shaped grooves and said cap is provided with a plurality of inwardly extending lugs engageable with said grooves respectively, said cam, said cam follower, said turning ring and said turning block being positioned and arranged for moving said cap relative to said vial between said second and third locations to effect turning motion of said cap until each lug enters its associated groove and thereafter moves downwardly and horizontally and upwardly to an assembled position of said cap and said vial.

6. A capping machine according to claim 1 further including an overload clutch between said spindle and said cap holder for preventing excessive torque being applied to said cap during assembly to said vial.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1797679 *Feb 9, 1922Mar 24, 1931Anchor Cap & Closure CorpBottle-capping machine
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3992857 *Nov 7, 1975Nov 23, 1976Sobrefina SaArrangement for capping machines
US4232499 *Aug 1, 1978Nov 11, 1980John H. HolsteinCapper chuck
US4299072 *Jan 17, 1979Nov 10, 1981John H. HolsteinTurret drive system
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US7581373Sep 30, 2008Sep 1, 2009Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
US7596932Feb 28, 2007Oct 6, 2009Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
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US7735301Sep 30, 2008Jun 15, 2010Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
US7770358Jan 15, 2008Aug 10, 2010Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
US7882681 *Nov 15, 2007Feb 8, 2011Khs Maschinen- Und Anlagenbau AgBeverage bottle closing apparatus configured to close beverage bottles in a beverage bottling plant
US8141330May 20, 2005Mar 27, 2012KNAPP Logistics Automation, Inc.Systems and methods of automated tablet dispensing, prescription filling, and packaging
US8413410Apr 30, 2010Apr 9, 2013Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
US8444130 *Mar 26, 2010May 21, 2013Parata Systems, LlcDevices for capping vials useful in system and method for dispensing prescriptions
US8601776Feb 17, 2012Dec 10, 2013Knapp Logistics & Automation, Inc.Systems and methods of automated dispensing, prescription filling, and packaging
US20110233840 *Mar 26, 2010Sep 29, 2011John Richard SinkDevices for Capping Vials Useful in System and Method for Dispensing Prescriptions
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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/317, 53/331.5
International ClassificationB67B3/20, B65B7/28
Cooperative ClassificationB67B3/2073, B65B7/2835, B67B3/2033
European ClassificationB67B3/20L, B67B3/20F6, B65B7/28E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 23, 1994ASAssignment
Owner name: STOKES-MERRILL CORPORATION, PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:S-M ACQUISITION, INC.;REEL/FRAME:007153/0053
Effective date: 19940113
Sep 23, 1994AS01Change of name
Owner name: S-M ACQUISITION, INC.
Owner name: STOKES-MERRILL CORPORATION 2 PEARL BUCK COURT BRIS
Effective date: 19940113
Apr 20, 1994AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: ALFA LAVAL AB
Owner name: S-M ACQUISITION, INC. 2 PEARL BUCK COURT BRISTOL,
Effective date: 19940113
Apr 20, 1994ASAssignment
Owner name: S-M ACQUISITION, INC., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ALFA LAVAL AB;REEL/FRAME:006950/0340
Effective date: 19940113
Mar 20, 1989ASAssignment
Owner name: ALFA-LAVAL AB, GUSTAVSLUNDSVAGEN-147, ALVIK, STOCK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:PENNWALT CORPORATION, A PA CORP.;REEL/FRAME:005060/0780
Effective date: 19890130