US 3864895 A
Small packages of a product, produced by a bag forming, filling and sealing machine, are sequentially grasped by a transfer turret and transferred to a securing station where they are secured to a backing sheet or card in overlapping relation to form a compact unit of a plurality of such bags. The backing sheet is in the form of a continuous length of material and is intermittently fed through the securing station and it leading end portion is severed from the continuous length when the desired number of bags have been secured to it. The bags are preferably adhesively secured to the backing sheet. Each separate unit of a plurality of bags may then be placed in a larger bag and sealed therein.
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United States Patent Petrea Feb. 11, 1975 MULTI-PACK METHOD AND APPARATUS Primary ExaminerHarrison L. Hinson  Inventor: James C. Petrea, Durham, NC. or Flrm Bacon & Thomas 73 Assi nee: Wri ht Machiner Com an lnc. 1 g Durfiamy y p y 57 ABSTRACT  Filed: Jan. 18, 1974 Small packages of a product, produced by a bag forming, filling and sealing machine, are sequentially  1 APP! N05 434,822 grasped by a transfer turret and transferred to a secur- Remed s Application D8 ing station where they are secured to a backing sheet or card in overlapping relation to form a compact unit  Dmslon of a of a plurality of such bags. The backing sheet is in the form of a continuous length of material and is intermittently fed through the securing station and it leading end portion is severed from the continuous length  Field of Search 29/407, 53/159 when the desired number of g have been Secured to it. The bags are preferably adhesively secured to  References cued the backing sheet. Each separate unit of a plurality of UNITED STATES PATENTS bags may then be placed in a larger bag and sealed 3,465,411 9/l969 Mahken 29/407 th i 3,506,525 4/l970 Freemantle r. 53/159 inn 5 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEU 1 I975 3, 864,895 sum 1 [IF 5 PATENTED EBI 1 1915 3. 864. 895
' SHEET 3 OF 5 PATYENTEDFEBI 1 191a SHEET 5 0F 5 MULTI-PACK METHOD AND APPARATUS This is a division of application Ser. No. 335,935, filedFeb. 26, 1973.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention is in the field of packaging products, particularly food products, wherein a plurality of small packages are assembled and thereafter processed as a unit.
It has been the practice, particularly in the packaging of food products, such as potato chips, for example, to package the product in relatively small bags so that the product does not become stale after the bag is opened and before it is consumed. However, it is desirable to distribute and/or seal the product in larger unit quantities than the single small bags. It has beenthe practice to assemble a plurality of the smaller bagsof the product manually and insert the desired number of small bags into a larger bag, which is then sealed and sold as a unit. Such manual counting, assembling and packaging, however, is time-consuming and expensive.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an automated system and method for assembling a plurality of small bags of product and uniting the small bags into a unit which may then be inserted in a larger bag and sealed or which may be dispensed as a unit from which the small packages may be removed singly, without sealing the same in a larger bag.
In general, the invention contemplates the method and apparatus wherein bags sequentially formed and filled with the product by a known type of machine are sequentially grasped by a turret mechanism and transferred to a securing station where they are sequentially secured to a backing sheet or card. At the securing station apparatus feeds a strip of backing sheet material through the securing station and the smaller bags transferred thereto are sequentially secured to the backing sheet, preferably adhesively, until the desired number of packages have been assembled and secured. The apparatus then severs the backing sheet and the multipack unit is delivered from the apparatus for further processing or sale.
The invention further contemplates the method thus far described and the further step of placing the multipack units in a larger bag and sealing the same, for distribution,
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a schematic side elevational view of apparatus embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary horizontal sectional view, taken on the line 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken on the staggered line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary transverse, sectional view, taken on line 44 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary transverse, sectional view, taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary transverse sectional view, similar to FIG. 5, showing a modification of the apparatus;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view, taken on the line 7-7 of FIG. 6; and
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring first to FIG. 1, there is schematically shown a bag forming and filling machine generally designated at 2. The illustrated machine may be of conventional type wherein a strip 4 of bag forming material is fed over a former 6 into a tubular mandrel 8.As is conventional, the longitudinal edges of the material 4 are overlapped over the mandrel and sealed to form a continuous tube. Sealing jaws 10 are caused to grip the tube below the mandrel 8 after a charge of the product has been deposited therein. The sealing jaws effect a transverse seal and are moved downwardly to draw material through the former, at which time the filled and sealed bags 12 are severed from the tube thereabove and the cycle is repeated. Reference to machines of this type is merely by way of illustration and other bag forming and filling machines may be employed in practicing the present invention.
A transfer turret 14 comprises a rotary structure 16 rotatable about a fixed shaft 18 having a sprocket 20 fixed thereon. The turret includes pivoted arms 22 interconnected by a link 24 and mounted on rotary structures 26 journalled on structure 16, each of which has a sprocket 28 mounted thereon. As the rotary structure 16 rotates about shaft 18, a sprocket chain 30 holds the structures 26 and arms 22 in the same orientation. Each arm 22 is provided with a suction cup 32 at its upper end.
As shown, the suction cup at the bag forming and filling machine engages a filled bag 12 at the right hand side of the bag as shown in the Figure. It is customary to apply printed material to the bag forming strip 4 and since the seam formed in the tube is at the left side of the machine, as shown in FIG. 1, the printing is customarialy applied to the non-seamed or right hand side of the bag 12. The vacuum cup 32 thus engages the bag 12 on its printed side and suitable suction means (not shown) causes the cup 32 to grasp and hold the bag 12. The turret is then caused to rotate to transfer the bag 12 to a securing station 34 to be described in more detail later. At the securing station the bags 12 are adhered at their upper ends to a backing sheet or card 36 and by transferring the bags from the filling and forming machine to the securing station without changing their orientation, the printed material on the bags then faces outwardly when they are secured to the backing sheet 36. Suitable cam means, such as 38, effect tilting of the arms 22 at the proper time to approach the bag 12 at the filling machine and to place the previously transferred bag against the backing sheet at the securing station. The details of the transfer turret mechanism are not of particular importance in the present invention and will not be described in greater detail. It is to be noted, however, that the functions of the transfer turret and all the functions of the apparatus at the securing station are caused to operate in timed relation to each other, as will be obvious to those skilled in the art, by any suitable or known control mechanism.
Securing station 34 is defined in part by apparatus 40 secured to upstanding posts 42 mounted in fixed relation to a base 44, upon which the transfer turret 14 is mounted and the mechanism 40 is thus held in fixed relation to the bag forming and filling machine 2. The
mechanism 40 includes a rotatably mounted reel 46 on which a continuous length of the backing material 36 is wound. The reel 46 is rotatably mounted on the mechanism 40 and the strip material 36 is trained over a fixed guide roller 48, then over a roller 50, journalled at the end of a spring arm 52, pivotally mounted at its upper end and controlling a brake rod 54 to apply a braking force to the reel 46, through a brake mechanism 47, to prevent overrunning thereof. Such brakes are known in the art and need not be further described. From the roller 50 material 36 extends to the right and is guided by suitable rollers 56 and over a feed roller 58 (see FIG. 3). The feed roller 58 is mounted on a shaft 60 (see FIG. 2) coupled to the output of a motor 62. The motor 62 is a stepping or intermittently operating motor whereby it may be energized to rotate the shaft 60 through a predetermined angular movement in successive controlled steps. A back-up roller 64 holds the material '36 snugly against the drive roller 58 to ensure feeding of the material 36 when roller 58 is rotated. The roller 64 is journalled on a lever 66 urged by spring 68 to hold roller 64 against roller 58. By means of a suitable cam 70, the lever 62 may be swung outwardly to facilitate threading the material 36 through the apparatus.
From the rollers 58 and 64 the material 36 moves downwardly between guide plates 72 and past a stationary anvil 74.
The operation of the machine is so timed and controlled that a length of material 36 is caused to move downwardly past the anvil 74 after a bag 12 has been adhered to the backing sheet in a manner to be described, and thereby place a new portion of the material 36 over the anvil 74.
An adhesive gun 76 is mounted on the apparatus in any suitable manner and is provided with a reservoir for hot melt adhesive and a spray nozzle 78 directed generally toward the anvil 74. Such guns are known in the art and need not be described in detail but it is to be noted that air under pressure may be supplied to the gun to eject a spurt of adhesive material from the nozzle 78 and the application of such air pressure will also be controlled in timed relation to operation of the rest of the apparatus. As alsoshown in FIG. 3, the apparatus includes a presser foot or bar 80 mounted on a bracket structure 82, which is pivotally mounted on the apparatus 40 to swing about a horizontal axis at 84. An actuating link 86 is pivoted to the bracket 80 and to a T- shaped lever 88 carried by shaft 90 which in turn is journalled in bearing'blocks 92. The bracket 82 extends transversely across the apparatus, as shown in FIG. 2, and a pair of the levers 88 and rods 86 are provided, one on each side of the machine. A pneumatic motor 94 is pivotally mounted on the apparatus at 96 and its piston rod 98 is pivotally connected to the lever 88 so that actuation of the pneumatic motor 94 causes the presser foot 82 to swing between an upper position, as shown in dotted lines in FIG. 3, and a lower position, as shown in full line.
After a length of backing material 36 has been moved downwardly to present a fresh surface at the anvil 74 and before the transfer turret has moved the next bag 12 to the securing station, the presser foot 80 is held in the upper or dotted line position. At that time the gun 76 is operated to project a quantity of adhesive material onto the strip 36 in the region of anvil 74. Thereafter, the transfer turret positions a bag 12 in the position generally indicated in FIG. 3 with its upper flattened end against the fresh adhesive material. The pneumatic motor 94 is then operated to swing the presser foot downwardly to the full line position to press the upper end of bag 12 against the adhesive on strip 36 and pressure thereon is maintained for a sufficient length of time for the adhesive material to set sufficiently to hold the bag 12 in place. It is contemplated that a "hot melt" adhesive be used, to set rapidly. Immediately after the presser foot 80 is applied to the bag 12 at the securing station 34, the suction cup 32 is deactivated to release the bag 12 and the turret l4 commences another cycle of operation. The presser foot 80 is then swung upwardly to the dotted line position, a further length of material 36 is fed downwardly and the described operations are repeated. It is to be noted that successive bags 12 are adhered at their upper ends to the strip 36 in relatively closely spaced relation so that the bags themselves lie in overlapping relation, as clearly evident in FIG. 1.
The described operations are continued until the desired number of bags 12 have been adhered to the strip 36 at which time the strip is severed above the last bag secured thereto and the multi-pack unit thus formed drops onto a deflector 100 and is delivered to a suitable receiving mechanism, such as a container or a takeaway conveyor.
Severing of the strip 36 at the desired time is accomplished by the shear shown in greater detail in FIGS. 4, 5 and 7. A horizontal shear blade 102 is slidably mounted on the apparatus immediately below the lower ends of guide plates 72 and a pneumatic motor 104 serves to actuate the blade 102 in timed relation to the operations previously described. The blade 102 operates in conjunction with a shear plate 106 urged by springs 108 upwardly against the edge of the shear blade 102.
As previously indicated, the multi-pack unit thus formed may be handled as a single unit and placed within a larger bag 110 (FIG. 8), which is then sealed to enclose the multi-pack unit as shown. Alternatively, the multi-pack unit may be distributed for sale without being placed in the large bag whereupon the purchaser may remove the bags singly as needed or as positioned at a display counter or the like.
FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate an alternative form of adhering means wherein the adhesive gun 76 is eliminated. In these Figures, all parts that are essentially the same as those previously described, bear the same reference numerals, the principal difference being that the presser foot 80 of the first embodiment is replaced by a heat sealing bar member 112. The bar member 112 is provided with internal heating means 114, such as an electrical resistance unit whereby it may be maintained at a desired relatively high temperature. In this form of the invention, the strip of backing material 36 may be a thermoplastic material itself or it may be a form of paper or the like having a thermoplastic coating thereon. The material of the bag 12 is heat sealable since the transverse seams thereof were heat sealed in the bag forming and filling machine 2. Thus, when the apparatus operates to press the bar 112 against the upper end of a bag 12 opposite mandrel 74, the heat of the bar fuses the material of the bag 12 to the coating material on the strip 36 and thus a heat sealed securement is obtained.
While a limitednumber of specific embodiments of the invention have been shown and described herein, the same are merely illustrative of the principles involved and other embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art and within the scope of applicants claims.
1. Apparatus for grouping a desired number of bags of a product, which bags are sequentially formed, filled and sealed by a first machine, comprising:
transfer means arranged to sequentially grasp and hold bags as filled and sealed by said first machine and bodily carry them to position one end thereof at a securing station;
means for holding a backing sheet at said securing station; and
means operable in timed relation to said transfer means for securing said end of each bag to said backing sheet and thereafter releasing said bags from said transfer means.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein said means for holding said backing sheet at said station comprises:
means for intermittently feeding a continuous length of said backing sheet through said station, in timed relation to operation of said transfer means and securing means, in such direction that each bag is secured to said backing sheet adjacent the corresponding end of a previously secured bag and with said bags in overlapping relation.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 including cutting means adjacent said station for severing from said continuous length that portion of said backing sheet to which said desired number of bags are secured.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein said lastnamed means comprises means for projecting a quantity of adhesive material onto a predetermined limited area of said backing sheet at said station prior to transfer ofa bag thereto and means for pressing said bag end against said adhesively coated backing sheet, after positioning said end of a bag at said station.
5. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein said backing sheet includes at least a surface portion of thermoplastic adhesive material, said last-named means comprising a presser foot, movable in timed relation to said transfer means for pressing said bag end against said surface portion; and means for heating said presser foot.
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