United States Patent 3687337

A vending machine for packets of merchandise having a plurality of bins disposed horizontally across the width of the machine. The packets are urged along guiding members towards a dispensing hopper through the action of a packet pusher engaged by a toothed rackwork. Distributor means for permitting passage of a packet into the hopper are disposed at the end of each bin.

Burlando, Antonio (16131 Genoa, IT)
Bosco, Silvio (16131 Genoa, IT)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/232, 221/248
International Classes:
G07F11/42; (IPC1-7): G07F11/42
Field of Search:
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US Patent References:
2923392Horizontal conveyor sandwich merchandising machine1960-02-02Gabrielsen
2893595Metering system1959-07-07Gabrielsen
2784872Vending machine1957-03-12Lux
2500438Dispensing and vending machine1950-03-14Tandler
2446788Refrigerated dispensing cabinet1948-08-10Rifkin

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Reeves, Robert B.
Assistant Examiner:
Bartuska, Francis J.
We claim

1. A vending machine for packets comprising

2. a pair of packet guiding members defining a channel in which packets are aligned;

3. a toothed rackwork disposed between and below said guiding members and mounted thereon for limited reciprocating sliding action towards and away from said hopper;

4. a packet pusher mounted on said guiding members for sliding movement parallel to but independent of the movement of said rackwork, said pusher carrying pawl means operative to engage the teeth of said rackwork so as to move along the guide member with the rackwork when the rackwork is moving towards the hopper but to disengage said teeth upon reciprocal movement of the rackwork away from the hopper;

5. spring means operative to urge the rackwork away from the hopper, and

6. packet distributor means disposed at the end of the bin opening into said hopper, said distributor means comprising a blade mounted for movement from a first position in which movement of a packet from the end of said guide means to said hopper is opposed to a second position where movement of said packet from the end of said guide means to said hopper is unopposed, said blade being urged from said first position to said second position by movement of the rackwork towards the hopper;

7. A vending machine according to claim 1 wherein said guiding members ride on said support members on rollers for removal of said bins from the machine.

8. A vending machine according to claim 1 wherein said power means includes a rotatable shaft positioned vertically at the end of the bin opposite the hopper, a plurality of swing levers pivotably mounted on said shaft so as to rotate with it but to be swingable from a first position out of alignment with said rackwork to a second position in alignment with the rackwork of one bin so that upon rotation of the shaft said lever in its second position engages the rackwork and urges it towards said hopper, and means operative to urge each of said swing levers, independent of the others, from said first position to said second position.

9. A vending machine according to claim 3 wherein said means operative to urge each of said swing levers from said first position to said second position is electromagnet.

10. A vending machine according to claim 3 wherein said rackwork includes a rod slidably mounted therein and extending beyond the end of the rackwork opposite to said hopper, said rod being linked to said packet distributor blade and being operative upon engagement with said rotary swing lever to initiate movement of said distributor blade, prior to movement of said rackwork from the first position of said distributor blade to an intermediate position, said blade continuing its movement from said intermediate position to the second position upon engagement of said swing lever with the body of said rackwork, and spring means operative to urge said rod towards said swing lever.

11. A vending machine according to claim 1 wherein said rackwork is provided with a coin changing activator arm, and coin changing means, said coin changing means being activated by said arm upon movement of said rackwork.

On the market there are already many types of automatic vending machines for the sale of cigarettes, packets of sweets, chewing-gum, etc., but all these machines work by means of drawers, i.e. the withdrawal of the product, vertically laid up, takes place after inserting the coin and acceptance by the machine, by pulling or rotating a drawer.

These constructions provide several disadvantages, such as a crushing of tender and soft products, difficult filling, and difficult pulling of the drawer owing to antitheft devices. A wide withdrawal opening, necessary to an electromechanical working, tends to promote pilfery.

Furthermore, in the devices manufactured at present, for obvious construction reasons, the arrangement of the ranges is vertically, thereby limiting the exploitation of the available room.

Another inconvenience is that the presently available devices provide only one apparatus for making change, independently operated by each drawer; therefore a change in the price of the goods requires the revision of the change program, and it can be performed only by a skilled technician; in case of breakdown of such a device, the entire machine is useless. The vending machine of the present invention avoids completely all the above mentioned inconveniences and provides a horizontal filling, assuring perfect maintenance and easy filling of the product. It also provides electric pushbutton control and therefore it does not require any effort to withdraw an article while still assuring the impossibility of pilfery by taking more than one article; it enables the assembling of several vending machines in a vertical array and two or more horizontal arrays depthwise, thereby increasing the use of the surface taken by the same. It also provides single change devices for each bin, so that the seller himself, in case of price variation, can easily vary the change provided, and in case of breakdown of a change device, only the corresponding bin is inoperable, while the remaining machine is still working.

All these advantages are then added to the simple construction, which reduces remarkably the manufacturing cost and enhances the absolute operating safety.

The mentioned invention is illustrated in one of its embodiments for the sale of packets of cigarettes, in the drawings, where:

FIG. 1 shows a horizontal section of the ensemble of a vending machine for cigarettes consisting of two side-by-side ranges of bins;

FIG. 2 shows a front view and a partial vertical section of the vending machine illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 show a section, a side view, and a top view of the rackwork operating the distribution and the change;

FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 show a section, a side view, and a top view of the packet containing and guiding elements;

FIGS. 9 and 10 show a front view and a section of the packet pushing element;

FIGS. 11 and 12 show a front view and a side view of the element regulating the packet discharge, when idle;

FIG. 13 shows the regulating element illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12 while discharging a packet;

FIG. 14 shows the system for operating the rackwork and therefore the general control of all the operations;

FIG. 15 shows a schematic top view of the change device;

FIGS. 16, 17 and 18 show a section, a side and top view of the rackwork operating the distribution and the change, with a sliding internal shaft, a reciprocating execution to the rackwork illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5;

FIGS. 19 and 20 show a front and side section of the elements regulating the packet discharge, a reciprocating execution to the one illustrated in FIGS. 11, 12 and 13.

The vending machine has some coin slots similar to the ones on the market and also coin checking devices. The characteristic elements of this new machine, illustrated in the above specified figures, are horizontal rod 1, with upper rackwork 2, side holes 3 and dovetail notches 4. At the left end, looking at the drawing, there is a small wheel 5 suitable to receive the motion of the operating element illustrated below; at the other end of said rack rod there is, on one side, element 6 supporting the distributing unit and tooth 7 operating the change return device; therefore all the elements at work depend on the specified rackwork.

The packet containing and guiding elements (FIG. 6, 7 and 8) consist of two angle irons 8 arranged opposite each other so that one is the mirror image of the other, providing below some blocks 9 supplied with pins 10, suitable to ride in holes 3 of the rackwork, so that it can be supported and guided during its reciprocating motion. Retractable pins 10 are fastened by means of bolt 11. On the lower part of the angle irons there are small rolls 12 suitable to slide on guides 12', fastened to the framework of the machine, suitable to enable the drawing of the couple of distributors arranged on a surface also on angle irons are couplers 13, similar to the ones provided on the rackwork, for the arrangement of springs 13' returning the rackwork to its rest position. Rods and half-rods 14 suitable to support packets 15, dashed in the illustrations, and to reduce the sliding friction to a minimum, are lengthwise arranged inside the angle irons.

The thrust device (FIGS. 9 and 10) consists of a U-shaped short element 16 with flanges set into notches 4 (FIG. 3) of the rackwork. On said element 16 are arranged open box 17, resting on rods 14 and sideways against the packets, and vertical rods 18, in which is pivoted tooth 20 operating on the rackwork, supplied with suitable balance weight 19.

The distributing elements (FIGS. 11 and 12) consist of supporting shank 6, fastened to rackwork 1, at the top of which is a shaft 21 supporting a flat blade 22. Spring 23, biases blade 22 so that blade 22 slightly tends to withhold the packets and push them downward, as soon as they are released by the supporting base, while retaining the following packet (FIG. 13). Connected to the upper part of shank 6, is bracket 24 providing at the free end pin 25, supporting partition 26, slightly flaring downwards, to promote the fall of the packet coming from the upper bin. Shaft 25 continues outwards with a lever 28 bent on top and resting against fixed pawl 29.

Therefore part 26, under the action of spring 27 rests against the first packet of the container, and when delivering the packet, owing to the feed of the whole in respect of fixed pawl 29, part 26 lifts, releasing the packet, which meanwhile has come out from its place.

As to the operation of the device there is provided only one motor 30 which is operated, subject to the consent of the coin slot set, by anyone of pushbuttons 31 arranged on the front of the machine, near windows 32 displaying the articles. Said motor 30, through cone-shaped wheel 31' and sector gear 32', or equivalent lever system, rotates vertical rod 33 with a forward or reverse motion, vertical rod 33 having for each rackwork, a lever 34 operated by an electromagnet 35.

It is clear that each electromagnet 35 can be controlled by only one pushbutton 31 and its operation causes the lifting of lever 34, which when idle takes the dashed position (FIG. 14). An electrical block avoids the contemporary stressing of two or more levers 34.

As to FIG. 15 which illustrates schematically the change device, 36 illustrates, as an example five coin containers (the number of the containers will depend on the coins used and on the possible change combination). Tooth 7, on rackwork 1, with its forward and reverse motion, promotes the rotation of lever 37 (supplied with suitable return spring) which operates suitably drilled surface 38 to withdraw the coins; such coins fall on chutes 39 which convey them to hopper 40, which is interiorly connected to hopper 41 of the packets, leading to drawing door 42. All the parts consisting such hoppers are detached for every surface of distributors, so that the withdrawal of the couples of distributors of a surface, can be total in conformity with all the consisting elements.

From the above specification the operation is clear: the buyer, after inserting the established coins into the coin slot, pushes pushbutton 31 corresponding to the product he wants to buy; lever 34 attracted by magnet 35 sets at the level of small wheels 5 and then therefore motor 30 rotates vertical rod 33 a certain angle, which promotes the motion of rackwork 1. The rackwork causes the feed of tooth 20, of all the discharging device and the whole of the packets, the first of them falls and reaches the withdrawing door; meanwhile tooth 7 operates the change return device. When the delivery is performed, a suitable limit switch (not shown) de-energizes the motor and the return spring takes the distributor 6 to its rest position and it is ready for the new discharge. Tooth 20 skipping on the rackwork leaves box 17 always resting against the packets.

In an alternative execution illustrated in FIGS. 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 rackwork 1 provides inside of itself an axially movable shaft 43, supplied at one end with small wheel 5 slightly projecting beyond the rackwork 1 and nearly at the other end of the rackwork is a shaft 44, extending from rackwork 1. Said small shaft 44 fits into a wooden or synthetic fiber container 45, within which there is sliding rod 46, to which are connected peg 47, resting on shaft 44, peg 48 with return spring 49, and partition 50. Transversal rod 52 (which covers two or more parallel distributors arranged on the same surface) which bears elastic plate 53 is fastened by upright 51 on container 45.

For this alternative performance the operation is as follows: lever 34 attracted by magnet 35 pushes small wheel 5 and rod 43. Here two motions are obtained, following each other: a first sliding of the small wheel and of the rod as long as the wheel approaches the rackwork 1 (which is meanwhile still), said sliding causes, by means of small shaft 44, tooth 47 and rod 46, a light moving of partition 50 away from the packets, in order to make them more free in their following traverse; a second motion in which all the rack rod moves pushing forward the packets and the further displacement of partition 50. Said final motion is dashed in the positions 44', 46', 47', 48', 49' and 50' .

Rod 46, in its forward and reverse motion causes the operation of the change device.

For the reverse motions, once stopped the action of lever 34 stops, springs 13' and 49 return the elements to the rest position.

Elastic plate 53 has the purpose to keep at its place the packet following the one which falls and is delivered.

The invention has been described above as an embodiment and not as a limitation and may in practice undergo various constructional changes of the different parts which may be replaced by similar ones having the same purpose.