US 3906706 A
A cap-tightener for tightening caps which are already sitting on top of a bottle is disclosed. The cap-tightener comprises a cylindrical housing which supports a plurality of cap gripping elements positioned within the housing. The gripping elements each include an actuating portion which extends along the top of the housing and a gripping portion which extends toward the open end of the housing. The gripping elements pivot and are caused to securely grip the cap by the upward movement of the bottle and cap against the actuating portions of the gripping elements. After the cap has been gripped, the tightener is rotated, thereby threading the cap on the bottle and securely tightening it.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Conti 1 Sept. 23, 1975 [5 1 CAP-TIGHTENER 3,100,366 8/1963 Gordon 53/331.5 x
 Inventor: Vincent N. Conti, West Hempstead,
Primary ExammerTrav1s S. McGehee I Assistant Examinerl-lorace M. Culver Asslgneez Dalry ap p a a Attorney, Agent, or Firm--Pennie & Edmonds  Filed: Dec. 13, 1973  ABSTRACT  US. Cl 53/33l.5; 53/345  Int. Cl. B67B 3/20; B6513 7/28  Field of Search 53/331.5, 344, 345, 317, 53/346, 347, 364, 354, 365, 329, 334
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,249,025 12/l917 Carvalho 53/354 X 1,290,706 1/1919 Brenzinger.... 53/334X 2,176,133 10/1939 Hogg 53/347 2,749,003 6/1956 Zimmermann.... 53/345 X 2,835,093 5/1958 Ford et al. 53/345 3,031,822 5/1962 Dimond 53/331.5 X
A cap-tightener for tightening caps which are already sitting on top of a bottle is disclosed. The captightener comprises a cylindrical housing which supports a plurality of cap gripping elements positioned within the housing. The gripping elements each include an actuating portion which extends along the top of the housing and a gripping portion which extends toward the open end of the housing. The gripping elements pivot and are caused to securely grip the cap by the upward movement of the bottle and cap against the actuating portions of the gripping elements. After the cap has been gripped, the tightener is rotated, thereby threading the cap on the bottle and securely tightening it.
III 107 US Patent Sept. 23,1975 Sheet 1 of 3 3,906,706
FIG. 1 A
CAP-TIGI-ITENER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In the dairy industry, current practices include the use of plastic milk containers and plastic screw-on caps. Although there are'a number of advantages to be had in using plastic bottles and caps, such as durability and economy, conventional capping machines suffer from several drawbacks. Generally, the machines used place a cap on top of a bottle and, in some cases, begin the screwing operation in order that the cap will not fall off the bottle on its way to the tightener. At the tightening' station the bottle and cap pass under a captightener where the bottle is raised and engaged by the tightener which finishes screwing the cap onto the bottle.
Conventional cap-tighteners are generally in the form of a rotating rubber disk. When the bottle is raised, the cap engages the rotating rubber disk turning the cap securely on the bottle until it is secured. However, dairy bottlers, as well as bottlers in other industries, have discovered that there are significant disadvantages in the rotating rubber disk tightener. The rotating rubber disk fails to positively engage the cap, and a variety of circumstances will cause slippage. Thus, if the cap is not sitting squarely on the bottle, the disk will not tighten it. Additionally, the milk, or any other liquid that is being bottled, tends to accumulate on the rubber disk and acts as a lubricant between the cap and the disk, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the tightener.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, a bottle captightener is provided which is far superior to and more reliable than prior art cap-tighteners. The conventional rubber disk is replaced with a chuck which positively gripsthe bottle caps during the tightening operation. In the preferred embodiment, the chuck grips the outer rim of the cap in response to the pressure exerted by the cap as it is advanced into the tightener.
The chuck comprises a plurality of gripping elements in an open ended housing. Each of the gripping elements comprises a gripping portion which grips the outer rim of the cap and an actuating portion which extends substantially at a right angle from the gripping portion. The gripping elements are mounted in thehousing with their gripping portions extending along the sidewalls of the housing. They are retained in this position by studs mounted in the sidewalls. The gripping elements are normally biased into an open nongripping position. The actuating portions of the gripping elements are disposed inwardly of the open end of the housing in alignment withthc loosely capped bottles being inserted into the chuck housing.
Gripping of the cap by the chuck is accomplished by having'the bottle and cap advance into the housing and into engagement with the actuating portions of the gripping'elements. The force "of engagement causes the gripping elements to pivot within the housing to bring the gripping portions into gripping engagement with the rim of the cap to be tightened. In the preferred embodiment. the gripping portions are provided with a In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the housing of the tightener is provided with a top surface adapted for engaging a source of motive power. In accordance with this embodiment, the bottle and cap are first raised to a position where the cap engages the captightener, and then raised further to effect clutching of the top surface of the housing of the cap-tightener and the source of the rotative power. When the bottle cap has been tightened, the bottle is lowered and the clutch is thereby released.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a cap-tightener built in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a bottom end view of the cap-tightener;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the cap-tightener of FIG. 1 in the gripping position;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one of the gripping elements in the cap-tightener illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the cap-tightener of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the cap-tightener of the present invention;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 77 of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 88 of FIG. 6;
FIG. 9 is-a cross-sectional view of the cap-tightener illustrated in FIG. 6 in the cap-tightening position; and
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken along line l0l0 of FIG. 9.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS An embodiment of the invention, particularly suited for use in existing cap tightening machines is illustrated in FIGS. I4. This tightener includes a cylindrically shaped, open-ended housing 101 for supporting four gripping elements 103. The gripping elements having gripping portions 105 and actuating portions 107 extending at substantially right angles to each other and supported within the housing 101 by studs 109. As shown in FIG. 1, the gripping portions extend downwardly along the wall of the housing while the actuating portions extend across the top of the housing. The gripping elements are four in number and each take up a sector of the interior of the housing.
The housing 101 is provided with a ridge 111. The gripping elements 103 pivot on ridge 111 between a non-gripping or cap receiving position as shown in FIG. 1 and a gripping position as shown in FIG. 3. In order to permit this pivoting, the gripping elements are spaced from each other as measured from sector to seetor. See FIG. 2. A circumferential groove 113 machined into the gripping elements I03 near the center of gripping portions 105 receives a circular spring 115, which biases the gripping elements into the nongripping. cap receiving position as illustrated in FIG. 1. Spring I I5 is made of a length of spring metal less than the length of the circumference of groove 113 when the tightener is in the gripping position. This prevents spring 115 from obstructing the pivoting of the gripping elements into the gripping position illustrated in FIG. 3.
An actuating plate 117 is slidably mounted in housing 101 by way of support 119; As shown in FIG. I, the
support extends from the back of the plate 117 and is slidably disposed in an enlarged bore 121 formed in the closed end of the housing 101. The housing further includes an extension 123 formed at the closed end and having its own bore 124. Bore 124 is aligned with enlarged bore 121 but smaller in size to define a seat 125. The bore 124 is countersunk at 127, and receives a bolt 129 which is threaded into a tapped hole 131 in the support 119. The bolt 129 is slidably mounted in bore 124 for permitting sliding movement of the plate 117. A spring 130 is disposed about bolt 129 and bears at one end against the upper surface 133 of support 119 and at its other end against the seat 125 to normally urge the plate 117 toward the open end of the housing. The actuating plate 117 covers the actuating portions of the gripping elements which terminate short of the center of the housing to provide an opening through which the support 119 extends. The actuating plate provides a smooth single surface for engaging against the top of the bottle caps.
The cap-tightener is designed to replace a conventional cap-tightener in an existing machine. The extension 123 is therefore provided with a threaded surface 135, which mates with a tapped hole 137 in the driving shaft 139 of the existing machine, thereby receiving the rotary force for the tightening operation.
During operation of the cap-tightener illustrated in FIGS. l4, a bottle 141 with a cap 143 on top of it approaches the tightener upwardly in the direction defined by the axis of cylindrical housing 101. When the cap reaches plate 117 and depresses it, actuating portions 107 are also depressed, pivoting the gripping elements 103 and causing the gripping portions to pivot toward the center of the housing, gripping the cap 143, as illustrated in FIG. 3. The cap is then securely held in the housing 101. The housing is then rotated, thereby screwing the cap tightly onto the bottle. The rotation of the housing may be initiated by an electrical or pneumatic switch responsive to the position of the bottle. After a predetermined time, during which the tightening operation has been completed, the bottle and cap are withdrawn from the tightener and the gripping elements resume their non-gripping position.
An alternative embodiment of the cap-tightener is illustrated in FIG. 5. This tightener includes a housing 201 in which four serrated gripping elements 203, each having a gripping portion 205 and an actuating portion 207, are retained in their respective positions by studs 209.
A circumferential groove 213 is machined into the gripping portions 205 of gripping elements 203. A spring 215 is fitted into groove 213 and biases the gripping elements into their non-gripping, cap receiving position. It has been found advantageous to place the spring near the center of the gripping portions 205, removed from the pivot point of the gripping elements.
A guide rod 217 is slidably mounted in bore 219. A plate 221 is secured to the rod 217. The gripping ele ments 203 are urged from their non-gripping, cap receiving position, illustrated in FIG. 5, to a gripping position by upward movement of plate 221 bearing against the actuating portions 207, such movement being caused by insertion of the cap and bottle into the tightener. Bolts 223 are slidably mounted in housing 201 and secured to supports 225, extending upwardly from plate 221. Supports 225 pass through holes 227 in the actuating portions of the gripping elements. Plate 221 is urged downward by the action of a pair of springs 229. Springs 229 are mounted on bolts 223 and bear at one end against seats 231 in the housing and at their other ends against supports 225. The housing 201 is mounted on motor shaft 233 and securely locked thereto by a bolt 235, which passes through bore 237. Bore 237 extends through both the housing and the motor shaft.
Referring now to FIGS. 6-9, another embodiment of the invention is illustrated. This cap-tightener includes a body 301 which performs the dual function of supporting the cap-tightening mechanics and supplying the energy for the tightening operation..A clutch 303 is positioned in the body 301 and secured thereto by bolts 305. A support 307 is secured to a body 301. A cap tightening unit 309, similar to the cap tightener illustrated in FIG. 1, is supported in the body by the lip 311 of support 307. A cylindrical felt surface 313 is disposed between the cap-tightening unit 309 and the inner surface of body 301. Felt surface 313 is secured to body 301 and serves to guide captightening unit 309 during operation.
The cap tightening unit 309 includes a housing 315 in which four serrated gripping elements 317, each having a gripping portion 319 and an actuating portion 321, are supported. The gripping elements are retained in their respective positions by studs 323 which are mounted in the cylindrical wall of housing 315. The gripping elements 317 pivot on a ring 325, mounted in a groove 327, which was machined into housing 315. Ring 325 may be made of a length of spring metal bent into a circular shape. Circumferential groove 329 is machined into the gripping portions 319 of gripping elements 317. The gripping elements 317 are biased into a non-gripping, cap receiving position by a circular spring 331, fitted into the circumferential groove 329.
A threaded shaft 333 is mounted in bore 335 of clutch 303. A plate 337 is secured to one end of threaded shaft 333 and covers the actuating portion of the gripping elements. Plate 337 is urged into its nongripping position by the action of a spring 339, which bears at one end against nut 341 and at its other end against seat 343 in body 301. The movement of plate 337 relative to housing 315 is limited by the adjustment of nut 341. The gripping elements 317 are urged from the non-gripping cap receiving position, illustrated in FIG. 6, to the gripping position, illustrated in FIG. 9, by the upward movement of plate 337 into engagement with the actuating portions 3210f gripping elements 317. Upward movement of plate 337 is, in turn, caused by insertion of the cap and bottle into the tightener and the cap into engagement with the plate.
Three trapezoidal slots 345, placed at intervals of are cut into the top of housing 315. The top surface of the housing forms a lower clutch surface for receiving power during the tightening operation. The three slots 345 in housing 315 mate with three trapezoidal keys 347, which are press-fitted into clutch 303.
During quiescent operation, as illustrated in FIG. 6, body 301 rotates, thus rotating clutch 303 and the captightening unit 309, the latter by frictional engagement through felt surface 313. However, the rotation of the cap-tightening unit 309 is incidental and stops upon the introduction of the bottle into the tightener. When bottle 349 approaches the tightener, its cap 351 bears against plate 337, causing the gripping elements to securely grasp the serrated edge 353 of the cap, which mates with the serrated inner circumference of the gripping elements. The housing 315 isthen'ad'vaneed to the position shown. in FIG. 9, where its clutching surface engages keys 347. When mating occurs, the housing3l5, which has gripped the cap 351, is positively rotated by clutch .303 until thecap is tightened, after which the slippage occurs between the clutch 303 and the top of housing 315. The keys 347 ofthe clutch are made of resilient material such as teflon or'other suitable natur'al or artificials ubstitute. Teflon is selected for its superior resistance to wear during slippage. Slippage is accommodated by shaping each key with a smaller slope 355 on the side of the key that approaches slots 345. See FIG. 10. After the cap has been tightened, slopes 355 ride out of slots 345. The tightl5 ener is resiliently supported. During slippage, this .allows the tightener to retract a small distance from the position that it is in during the threading of the cap onto the bottle. This allows the bottle 349 to turn even though the cap 351 is already tightly threaded onto the bottle. After a predetermined amount of time, the bottle is retracted, thus allowing the cap-tightener and its associated driving systems to again resume quiescent operation and be ready for the introduction of another bottle for tightening.
1. A cap tightener for threading a cap onto a bottleneck, comprising:
a. a housing having a top, side wall and open end;
b. a plurality of cap gripping elements positioned within said housing and facing the open end thereof, said cap gripping elements together defining a cap receiving opening, and each of said gripping elements having a first actuating portion ex tending along the top of said housing and a second gripping portion extending toward the open end of said housing along the side wall thereof for alignment with the side of the cap when positioned within said cap receiving opening;
c. pivot means for mounting said gripping elements in said housing for pivoting movement about a pivot axis between a first open cap receiving position and a second cap gripping position; and
(1. spring means disposed below the pivot axis engaging along the gripping portions of the gripping elements and providing the sole means for normally urging them toward the side wall of the housing and into said cap receiving position, said actuating portions extending inwardly of the side wall of the housing and toward the open end thereof when the gripping portions are in said cap receiving position.
2. A cap tightener as in claim 1, wherein:
a. said pivot means is located adjacent the juncture of the top and side walls of the housing. and
b. the pivot means engages the gripping elements f5."'A cap tightener as in clairn"4""wherein said stud means is sttitiona'r-y'with respect'to said side wall.
6. A cap tightener as in claim 2 wherein'the gripping portions of each" of the gripping elements is substantially contiguous with the side walls of the housing when said elements are in said first open cap receiving position. x v
7. A cap tighteneras inclaim 1 further comprising means separate from said pivot means for effecting engagement between said cap gripping elements and said housing and for' blocking removal of said gripping elements from said housing.
8. A cap tightener as defined in claim 2, wherein:
a. the pivot means is located along the side wall of the housing and adjacent the top and extends radially inwardly of the side wall for holding the gripping portions of the gripping elements spaced from the side wall adjacent the top.
9. A cap tightener as defined in claim 8, wherein:
a. said pivot means is defined by a ridge located at the junction of the side wall and top of the housing.
10. A cap tightener as defined in claim 8, wherein:
a. said pivot means includes a wire member positioned adjacent the junction of the side wall and top.
11. A cap tightener as defined in claim 2, wherein:
a. the gripping portions of the gripping elements are provided with a groove extending around the cap receiving opening; and
b. said spring means is disposed within said groove.
12. A cap tightener as defined in claim 11, wherein:
a. said spring means comprises a spring wire having a length less than the circumference of the groove to permit the contraction of the'spring during pivoting of said gripping elements.
13. A cap tightener as defined in claim 2, further comprising:
a. an actuating plate covering the actuating portions of the gripping elements for direct engagement by the top of the cap upon insertion into the cap receiving opening;
b. at least one opening in the top of the housing;
0. aligned openings through the actuating portions of the gripping elements;
d. support means connected to said plate and extending through said openings for slidably mounting said plate and support means for movement toward the open end of said housing; and
e. second spring means urging said plate toward the open end of said housing for engagement with the top of the cap when inserted into the cap receiving opening.
14. A cap tightener as defined in claim 13, wherein:
a. said support means is centrally located within said housing.
15. A cap tightener as defined in claim 2, wherein:
a. the interior ofsaid housing is circular in shape; and
b. said gripping elements are four in number with each taking up a sector of the interior of said housing and being spaced from each other, as measured from sector to sector, to permit pivoting within said housing.
16. A cap-tightener as defined in claim 3. wherein:
a. said gripping portions are provided with serrations.
17. A cap-tightener as defined in claim 2, further comprising:
the cap being tightened against further rotation.
19. Apparatus as in claim 18, wherein:
a. the cap tightencr is resiliently urged toward the bottle; and
b. said clutch means is a key for engaging a slot on said housing, said key including a surface with a relatively small slope, said slope positioned on the side of said key that approaches said slot during threading of the cap onto the bottle neck.
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