US 3871158 A
A machine for wrapping a spherical ball with decorative strand material to form a satin covered ball for use as a Christmas tree ornament or the like with the machine including a hopper structure for receiving a plurality of uncovered balls, means feeding single balls from the hopper and means moving the ball into engagement with a rotating spindle having a strand guiding flyer associated therewith to feed and guide the strand of material onto the ball as it is rotated about the spindle axis.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 1 Puleo 1 1 AUTOMATIC SATIN BALL MACHINE  lnventor: Salvatore J. Puleo, 435 Division St.,
Watchung, NJ. 07201  Filed: Jan. 25, 1974  Appl. No.: 436,685
 US. Cl 53/214, 156/170, 156/172, 156/433, 221/213, 242/3  Int. Cl B6511 11/04  Field of Search 53/211, 214; 221/213, 270; 242/2, 3; 156/170, 172, 186, 433; 269/5.1,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,250,436 12/1917 Curry 242/2 2,095,765 10/1937 Schenck 242/2 2,682,984 7/1954 Melikian 221/213 X 3,132,988 5/1964 Fowler 156/172 X [H1 3,871,158 Mar. 18, 1975 3/1969 Barickman 269/545 X 2/1971 Burnbaum 161/18 X Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee Assistant Examiner-1ohn Sipos Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Clarence A. O'Brien; Harvey B. Jacobson 10 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures 1 AUTOMATIC SATIN BALL MACHINE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention generally relates to a machine for covering balls with decorative strand material such as satin strand material for use as a decorative ornament and more particularly includes a structure for automatically placing the uncovered balls on the rotatable spindle ofa machine rather than manually placing the balls on the spindle of the machine.
2. Description of the Prior Art Satin covered ornamental balls have been used as Christmas tree decorations and the like for some time and are generally well known in the art as exemplified by US. Pat. No. 3,565,735, issued Feb. 23 1971. Such balls may be hollow or solid and are usually constructed of relatively lighweight, inexpensive material such as plastic or the like. When solid balls are used, they are usually constructed from foam plastic material such as foamed polystyrene or the like and as indicated in the above-mentioned patent, machines for winding the satin covering onto the ball are well known. One such type of machine is presently available on the market is manufactured by RufMachine Co., of New York. NY. and includes a vertically oriented spindle which rotates about a vertical axis and receives the ball thereon together with a rotatable flyer associated with the spindle to feed and guide the satin strand material onto the ball. Such machines are manual in operation, that is, an operator must individually pick up each ball and place it on the spindle and then remove the ball from the spindle after the satin material has been wound thereon. While this machine operates satisfactorily, the production of satin covered balls resulting from each machine is limited by the skill and dexterity of the operator inasmuch as it is necessary in order to provide a properly covered ball that the ball be positioned on the spindle so that a diameter ofthe ball substantially coincides with the rotational axis of the vertical spindle so that the satin covering material will be symmetrically arranged on the ball. Also, the operator must apply the free end of the strand material which is actually a rayon cord or the like to the ball and when the winding operation has been completed, the operator must cut the strand material and glue the end thereof to the ball to prevent the strand material from unwinding from the ball and place a support hook or loop on the ball usually by inserting it into the hole formed by the spindle and gluing it in place. All of these operations require considerable dexterity and skill which requires time and thus materially increases the cost of this type of ornament.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention is to provide a machine for applying a satin covering to a ball which automatically feeds balls onto a spindle and applies a covering of strand material thereto by spinning the ball about one axis and guiding the strand material onto the ball through a flyer which rotates about an axis perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the ball.
Another object of the invention is to provide a satin ball machine in which the balls are fed singly onto a spindle by a power operated mechanism which enables the use of either hollow or solid balls provided with or without a hole or socket therein since the power feeding of the balls onto a spindle will form a hole and socket if one is not preformed in the ball.
A further object of the invention is to provide a machine which may be easily attached to existing manually operated ball winding machines or incorporated into such machines to enable them to automatically feed balls onto a spindle of the machine to materially increase the production capacity of such a machine and accurately positioning the ball in relation to the spindle for producing a more standardized wrapping of the balls.
These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof. wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout,
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a side elevational view of a ball wrapping machine with the feed structure for the balls associated therewith with portions of the hopper broken away.
FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the machine,
FIG. 3 is a plan sectional view taken generally along section line 3-3 of FIG. 2 illustrating the association of the hopper. discharge guide associated therewith and the positioning and guiding means for the balls.
FIG. 4 is a vertical, sectional view taken substantially upon a plane passing along section line 4-4 of FIG. 2 illustrating further structural details of the guide and positioning structure as well as the mechanism for moving the ball downwardly onto the spindle of the ball wrapping machine.
FIG. 5 is a fragmental sectional view illustrating the structure which retains balls within the discharge guide during reciprocation of the mechanism which places the balls on the spindle.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now specifically to the drawings, the satin ball machine of the present invention includes a hopper assembly generally designated by reference numeral 10, a power feeding means generally designated by numeral 12 for guiding and moving uncovered balls 14 onto a ball wrapping or covering machine generally designated by numeral 16.
The winding or covering machine 16 is a conventional, commercially available machine with one example of this machine being manufactured by Ruf Ma chine Co., of New York, New York and which includes a vertically oriented spindle 18 having a pointed upper end 20 for receiving a ball 14 together with a circular disk 22 supported by a drive shaft 24 in perpendicular intersecting relation to the spindle 18 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. The shaft 24 is hollow and the disk 22 includes a passage for receiving covering strand material 26 such as rayon cord therethrough. The strand material 26 is supplied from a spool 28 supported by suitable bracket structures 30 from a supporting base 32 and extends through the hollow shaft 24, out through the disk 22 and through an eye on the end of a flyer 34 extending perpendicularly from the face of the disk 22 adjacent the periphery thereof. The flyer 34 includes an opening through the outer end thereof and a slotlike entrance to the opening to facilitate threading of the satin cord 26 therethrough. The shaft 24 and disk 22 are driven from a suitable electric motor 36 through a belt drive 38 or the like and the spindle 18 is supported by a suitable housing 40 and driven by shaft 41. All of these components are supported from the base 32 with the center of the disk 22 being aligned with the center of the ball so that as the flyer 34 moves around the rotating ball, it applies the strand material 26 thereto. The free end of the strand material 26 is applied to the periphery of a ball 14 by merely grasping the free end ofthe strand 26 and applying it to the surface of the ball. The wrapping or winding of the cord on the surface ofthe ball will retain the free end thereof in position and when the ball has been completely cov ered and the machine stops, the operator of the machine must cut the cord and apply the cut end thereof to the periphery of the ball by the application ofa very small quantity of glue thus preventing the strand material from unwinding from the ball. The covered ball is then removed from the spindle l8 and a suitable sup porting loop or hook (not shown) is inserted into the aperture or sockets formed in the ball 14 by the spindle l8 and glued in position thus completing the ball which is completely covered with the satin strand material, rayon cord or the like and provided with a suitable support structure for attachment to a Christmas tree or other suitable support. The machine 16 as described above is conventional and is commercially available and has been used in the manner described with placement of the ball on the spindle being manually accomplished, operation of the machine being manually accomplished and removal of the ball from the spindle being manually accomplished which requires considerable dexterity and skill and consumes considerable time.
The hopper is in the form ofa relatively large container which may vary in size and includes two parallel side walls 42 interconnected by relatively narrow parallel end walls 44 for defining a relatively narrow and ver tically elongated hopper for receiving a plurality of balls 14 which are stacked on top of each other inasmuch as the width of the hopper is substantially the same as the diameter of the balls although slightly greater to permit the balls to move freely downwardly into the hopper. The bottom edges of the side walls 42 inclined downwardly towards one end edge ofthe hopper and are interconnected by a sloping bottom wall 46 so that the balls 14 will gravitate toward one corner of the hopper 10. As illustrated, the hopper extends from front to rear of the machine and is supported by a depending bracket 48 at its rear edge extending to the base 32 and suitable horizontal brackets 50 at its forward edge which extend horizontally and are rigidly secured to the upper end ofa supporting post or standard 52 which extends downwardly and is rigid with the base 32. The open upper end of the hopper 10 may be provided with a funnelshaped entry area if desired or any other suitable configuration to facilitate placement of the balls into the hopper.
At the front lower comer ofthe hopper, the end wall 44 is provided with a discharge opening 54 of sufficient size to permit exit of balls 14 into a discharge trough or tube 56 which guides the balls laterally and downwardly by gravity from the hopper 10. The trough 56 is of tubular construction or of U-shaped construction having a lateral opening at one end communicating with the opening 54 in the hopper and an opening or open area 58 at the other end. The ends of the guide tube or trough 56 are closed by end plates 60 and one end of the trough or tube is supported from the end wall 44 of the hopper by a bracket 61. The construction of the trough 56 may vary and may be conveniently of sheet metal, plastic or the like and may be either closed around the top or open but it is slanted in such a mannet that balls M will roll downwardly from the hopper 10 into the guide trough 56 and downwardly and laterally into a position alongside of the feeding mechanism 12 as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3.
The feeding mechanism 12 includes a substantially cylindrical, cup-shaped member 62 which reciprocates vertically from a position generally in alignment with the discharge opening 58 in the trough 56 to a position below the upper end of the spindle 18 as illustrated in FIG. 4 and the center of the member 62 is generally aligned with the spindle 18. The upper end of the cupshaped member is provided with a relatively rigid plate 64 having an actuating rod 66 attached thereto such as by a screw-threaded and locknut attachment as illustrated in FIG. 4. The actuating rod 66 is in the form of a piston rod which extends into a piston and cylinder assembly 68 supported between the upper bracket 50 and a support plate 70 extending from the support post 52 as illustrated in FIG. 2. The piston and cylinder as sembly 68 is a fluid pressure, double acting piston and cylinder assembly and is preferably pneumatically actuated.
The cup-shaped member 62 may be constructed of sheet metal, plastic or the like and may be attached to the plate 64 in any suitable manner such as by an anchoring screw 72 or the like. One side wall portion of the cylindrical cup-shaped member is provided with a cut out area 74 which is disposed in facing relation to the opening 58 at the lower end of the guide trough or tube 56 and is of a size capable of receiving a ball 14 freely therethrough. The bottom end portion 76 of the cylindrical cup-shaped member 62 is continuous and is ofa size to lightly and frictionally engage the surface of the ball 14 to prevent it from free falling out of the bottom of the cup-shaped member 62. Thus, as the lateral opening 74 in the cup-shaped member 62 becomes registered with the opening 58, the lowermost ball 14 in the guide trough 56 will roll into the cup-shaped member 62 and be lightly frictionally supported by the bottom end of the cup-shaped member 62 which may be slightly deformed or slightly oval-shaped to assure that the ball will be free to move into the cup-shaped member 62 and downwardly into the position illustrated in FIG. 4 where the ball will be supported by the bottom ring-shaped portion 76 of the cup-shaped member 62. When this occurs, the cup-shaped member 62 is then moved downwardly until the ball 14 is engaged onto the spindle 18 with the plate 64 moving downwardly sufficiently to force the ball downwardly onto the stem 18 with the pointed end 20 of the stem 18 penetrating the ball and causing the ball to become mounted on the stem 18. Then, when the cup-shaped membmer 62 moves upwardly, the ball 14 will exit from the bottom end of the cup-shaped member 62 inasmuch as the engagement of the ball 14 with the stem 18 is such that the light frictional resistance or engagement that would occur when the bottom ring-shaped portion 76 of the cup-shaped member 62 passes upwardly over the ball 14 mounted on the stem 18 is less than the frictional force holding the ball onto the stem 18. With this arrangement, the cup-shaped member 62 will pass upwardly of the ball [4 and leave the ball 14 mounted on the stem 18 so that when the cup-shaped member 62 reaches its elevated position, another ball will roll into the cup-shaped member for subsequent operation of the feeding mechanism.
A guide mechanism is provided for the cup-shaped member 62 which is in the form ofa vertically disposed channel-shaped member 78 mounted on the support post 52 and provided with inturned flanges captively receiving a slide plate 80 therein for vertical reciprocation. The plate 80 is provided with a rigidly extending support arm 82 that is fixedly attached to the upper end of the cup-shaped member in order to guide the movement of the cup-shaped member and stabilize the cupshaped member during its movement so that the ball 14 will be accurately aligned with the spindle 18 and will be retained in this position during longitudinal reciprocation.
As illustrated in FIG. 4, the plate 64 in the upper end of the cup-shaped member 62 has a curved edge portion 84 corresponding with the upper curved edge portion of the opening 74 which also provides clearance for a ball retaining finger 86 which prevents the balls 14 in the guide trough 56 from rolling out of the opening 58 when the cup-shaped member 62 is moved downwardly. The finger 86 has a lower end portion 88 that curves slightly toward the center ofthe cup-shaped member 62 so that when the cup-shaped member 62 is in the elevated position as illustrated in FIG. 4, the curved lower end of the finger 86 extends inwardly generally in conformance with the curvature of the plate 84. The finger 86 may be in the form of a leaf spring or in the form of a resilient member that is mounted on the end of a pivot arm 90 that is pivotally supported from the upright post 52 as illustrated in FIG. 2. A tensioned coil spring 94 interconnects the central portion of the arm 90 and the post 52 to spring-bias the arm 90 and the finger 86 downwardly from the position illustrated in FIG. 2 to a lower position illustrated in FIG. 5, at which point the finger 86 engages the ball 14 and retains the lowermost ball in the trough 56 from exciting from the opening 58. The arm 90 is held in the elevated position by a pin 96 rigidly fixed to the top of the cup-shaped member 62 so that as the cup-shaped mem ber 62 moves upwardly to its elevated position illustrated in FIG. 4, the pin 96 will engage and lift the arm 90 and the finger 86 to the elevated position out of the way of the balls 14. When the cup-shaped member 62 is lowered, the spring finger 86 will lower and engage the next adjacent ball 14 in the trough S6 and prevent it from exciting from the opening 58 and even if it has rolled against the ball 14 which is in the cup-shaped member 62, the curved lower end 88 of the spring finger 86 will force that ball 14 back into the trough 56 so that the cup-shaped member 62 can be lowered without engaging the ball 14 in the trough 56 and without the ball 14 in the trough 56 rolling out of the opening 58. The pin 96 can be located in any position on cup-shaped member 62 to engage under the arm 90. The arm 90 engages the upper surface of the guide trough 56 to limit the downward movement of the arm 90 to a generally horizontal position as illustrated in dotted line in H6. 2.
The post 52 is provided with upper and lower limit switches 98 and 100 located adjacent the upper and lower ends of the channel-shaped guide 78 respectively with actuating arms or levers extending into the path of movement of the arm 82 as designated by numeral 102 so that the upper and lower limits of movement of the cup member 62 will be controlled by a valve assembly 104 also mounted on the post 52. The valve assembly is a commercially available solenoid controlled type of valve or any other suitable valve which controls flow to air to the piston and cylinder assembly 68 which this mechanism being provided with a switch 108 and relay 110 electrically associated therewith in a well known manner to enable the mechanism to be actuated when desired, to place a ball on the spindle.
An adjustable timer 114 is provided for operation of the ball winding and covering machine for a predetermined time cycle. A control switch 6 is provided at the front of the base for intiation of the cycle of opera tion of the covering machine by the operator and a master on-off switch assembly 118 is provided for connecting the entire machine to a source of electrical energy through a conductor I20. Thus, the machine is controlled by an operator with certain operations thereof being semi-automatic. In use of the machine, the components thereof will be in the position illus trated in FIGS. 1-4. The master switch 118 is closed and the loading switch 108 is operated which will actu ate the valve 104 to cause the piston to move downwardly within the cylinder thus moving a ball 14 which is in the cup-shaped member 62 onto the spindle or needle 18. When the lower limit switch is activated, air will be exhausted from above the piston and introduced below the piston thus moving the piston and cup-shaped member 62 upwardly and upon actutation ofthe upper limit switch 98, the valve 104 will be operated to maintain the cup-shaped member 62 elevated. While the cup-shaped member is moving upwardly. which is done quite rapidly as is the downward move ment ofthe ball 14, the operator will grasp the free end of the cord 26, making sure it is threaded through the flyer 34 and forces or holds the cord against the surface of the "Styrofoam" ball in a manner transverse to the direction of winding movement ofthe cord so that convolutions ofthe cord will hold the free end in place with the free end ofthe cord being possibly partially embed ded in the relatively soft surface of the ball. As soon as the free end of the cord is held against the ball. the switch 116 may be actuated thus rotating the disk 20 and the ball and at the same time moving the flyer 34 in a circular path thus winding the cord on the ball by moving the cord around the ball as the ball itself is rotated about a vertical axis thus completely covering the ball with the rayon cord with the quantity of material wrapped on the ball being determined by the timer 114 which may be varied as to its setting for operation for a plurality of sesconds depending upon the desired covering on the ball. After the cord has been wound on the ball, the motor 36 will be deactivated by the timer and the disk 22 will cease rotating. The ball is then removed from the stem 18 and the cord cut by scissors, knife or the like with the free end of the cord remaining through the flyer for subsequent connection to another ball and the free end of the cord on the removed covered ball being glued in place. The operator then can actuate the load switch 108 again and in the meantime glue the end of the cord on the ball to the satin coating on the ball and insert a hook or loop supporting device into the hole formed in the ball by the spindle with the hook or loop having a shank which will insert into this hole with suitable glue being provided for this purpose. The free end of the cord on the ball may also be glued in this hole along with the shank of the supporting hook or loop thereby providing a neat and highly attractive satin covered ball.
While the controls for the machine may be hand operated, they also may be foot controlled with the electrical wiring system being correspondingly altered. Also. other types of friction holding devices may be provided for the balls 14 as they enter the cup-shaped member with the only requirement being that the ball be held in the cup-shaped member during its downward movement and prior to its downward movement but yet the holding force being such that it is less than the holding force of the ball on the stem 18 when the ball has been positioned on the stem thus assuring that the ball will be retained on the stem when the cup-shaped member 62 returns to elevated position. Each time the load switch N18 is actuated, a single ball will be lowered onto the stem 18 and the feed mechanism 12 returned to its original position and this mechanism will stop until the load switch 108 is again actuated.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art. it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.
What is claimed as new is as follows:
1. An apparatus for applying strand material to the external surface of a ball-shaped member comprising feed means providing a supply of ball-shaped members, a spindle having a free end onto which the ball-shaped members are inserted, means moving single ball-shaped members onto the spindle from the feed means, and flyer means oriented laterally of the spindle to apply strand material to the external surface of the ballshaped member during rotation thereof.
2. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said feed means includes a hopper for receiving a plurality of ball-shaped members, a discharge guide extending from the bottom portion of the hopper, said guide being downwardly inclined from the hopper for gravity movement of the ball-shaped members along said guide.
3. The structure as defined in claim 2 wherein said spindle free end is pointed for reception in a perforated ball-shaped member and penetrating into an imperfor ate ball-shaped member.
4. The structure as defined in claim 2 wherein said feed means includes a downwardly opening cup-shaped member disposed in alignment with the spindle and movable toward and away from the spindle, power operated means moving the cup-shaped member toward and away from the spindle, and means on the cupshaped member for receiving and temporarily retaining a single ball-shaped member.
5. The structure as defined in claim 4 wherein said discharge guide includes a lateral opening communicated with the cup-shaped member when the cupshaped member is in its uppermost position, and means blocking the communication between the discharge guide and cup-shaped member when the cup-shaped member is in lowered position.
6. The structure as defined in claim 5 wherein said means retaining the ball-shaped member in the cupshaped member includes an annular lower end on the cup-shaped member having frictional engagement with the ball-shaped member, the frictional engagement between the ball-shaped member and the cup-shaped member being less than the frictional engagement between the ball-shaped member and the spindle whereby the ball-shaped member will be removed from the cup shaped member when it is lowered into engagement with the spindle and the spindle penetrates the ballshaped member.
7. The structure as defined in claim 6 wherein said means retaining the ball-shaped members in the discharge guide includes a spring-biased finger elevated by movement of the cup-shaped member to its elevated position to a position out of the path of movement of the ball-shaped members from the discharge guide into the cup-shaped member and being lowered into the path of movement of the ball-shaped members when the cup-shaped member is moved downwardly.
8. The structure as defined in claim 7 wherein said feed means includes a hopper having a transverse dimension only slightly greater than the diameter of the ball-shaped members for retaining the ball-shaped members in stacked relationship, said discharge guide being in the form of a downwardly sloping tubular member having communication with the lower end of the hopper and the cup-shaped member.
9. A device for singly placing balls on a ball wrapping machine ofthe type having a vertically positioned spindle provided with a pointed upper end. said device comprising hopper means for receiving a plurality of balls, a vertically reicprocal ball lowering means mounted in alignment with the spindle and being asso ciated with the hopper means for receiving single balls therefrom, and power means causing reciprocation of the ball lowering means for lowering a ball and pushing it downwardly onto the spindle for rotation therewith.
10. The structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said hopper means includes an inclined discharge guide for gravity movement of balls to said lowering means, a ball retaining means retaining balls in said guide when the lowering means is lowered, said lowering means including recess means aligned with the discharge guide when in elevated position to receive one ball therefrom, and means moving the ball retaining means to an inoperative position when the lowering means is elevated.