Device for discharging refund coins and crushing metallic cans of different sizes
United States Patent 3907087

An automatic device for simultaneously discharging a refund coin therefrom when an individual empty metallic can regardless of whether the can is of a large size or a small size is inserted for crushing therein employs an inclined-mounted hopper for guiding the can to a spring-pressed movably-mounted frame structure which processes one can at a time within the housing to contact the motor-driven crusher mechanism. Microswitches automatically control the operational movements of the coin and cans of different sizes.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
100/49, 100/215, 100/218, 100/902
International Classes:
G07F7/06; (IPC1-7): G07F7/06
Field of Search:
194/4R,4C 100
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Primary Examiner:
Reeves, Robert B.
Assistant Examiner:
Bartuska, Francis J.
What is claimed is

1. An automatic device for simultaneously crushing an individual empty metallic can of either a large or small size and discharging a refund coin of a certain monetary value therefrom, therein comprising:


This application is related in subject matter to U.S. Ser. No. 496,794 filed Aug. 12, 1974 entitled "Automatic Device for Simultaneously Discharging Refund Coin and Crushing Metallic Can."


This invention relates to an automatic device for discharging a refund coin therefrom when an individual empty metallic can regardless of whether the can is of a large size or a small size is inserted for crushing therein.

The can crushers of the prior art have certain disadvantages. For instance, the primary disadvantage has been the lack of interest by the public to use such crushers. One proposed solution which can manufacturers have tried is the establishment of reclamation centers and paying a refund or redemption fee for cans, based on weight. However, profitable operation of such reclamation centers has been difficult as the monetary refund on a returned bulk of cans is small. Accordingly, a large bulk of cans must be collected by the consumer to make the trip to the reclamation center worthwhile. If the consumer could be encouraged to use crusher devices, one of the environmental pollution problems could be substantially reduced.

The present invention obviates these and other disadvantages by providing an individual can crusher and refund device with automatic controls for its operation. This device is relatively simple in construction and inexpensive to manufacture and most importantly, it is a device which will be readily utilized by the average consumer after the use of an individual metallic can, regardless of whether the can is of a large size or a small size.


The present invention relates generally to an automatic can crusher and, more particularly, to an automatic device for discharging a refund coin therefrom when an individual empty metallic can of a select size is inserted for crushing therein.

It is accordingly a primary object of the present invention to encourage the average consumer to utilize a can crusher device for disposing of individual cans of different sizes immediately after the use thereof. For example, a can crusher device of the instant type could be located adjacent to a metallic can beverage dispensing machine in lieu of the conventional trash disposal receptacle.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an individual can crusher device which is automatically set into operation by a large sized or a small sized can to be crushed after it leaves the can-receiving hopper.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an individual can crusher device which automatically crushes and collapses a deposited selective size can and simultaneously discharges a refund coin to the depositor as a reward for inserting the can therein.

These and other objects and aspects of the invention will be more clearly understood from the following description of an embodiment of the invention shown, by way of example only, in the accompanying drawing in which like reference numerals denote corresponding parts throughout the several views.


FIG. 1 is a front view of the device according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side sectional view showing, principally, the hopper and pusher mechanism of the device;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pusher and the mechanism for producing the operation of a selective size can;

FIG. 4 is a partial top view of the device to further illustrate the operation of FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C are schematic views of the device illustrating the sequence of the can movements as performed by the pusher and crusher mechanisms;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are schematic views of the crusher mechanism with respect to a large size can; and

FIGS. 7a and 7b are schematic views of the crusher mechanism with respect to a small size can.


Referring now to the drawing in detail, there is illustrated therein an example of one form in which the invention may be embodied. The numeral 10 applies generally to a vertically-oriented housing of an automatic device A that simultaneously discharges a refund coin therefrom when an individual empty metallic can regardless of whether the can is of a large size or a small size is inserted for crushing therein. The housing 10 is formed of any suitable rigid structural material and is rectilinear in shape. The housing 10 comprises a bottom wall 12, side walls 14, front wall 16, and a top wall 20.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an access rectangular-shaped access opening 22 is formed in the upper portion of front wall 16 for receiving an individual empty cylindrical-shaped metallic can B that is being inserted into the housing 10. As seen in FIG. 1, an exit opening 24 of the conventional coin discharge type is formed in the right side portion of front wall 16 for the discharge of a coin C of a designated monetary amount from the housing 10. It is to be understood that the concept of the present invention is to encourage the recycling and recovery of metal from empty used metallic cans. This is accomplished herein by (1) paying a refund or redemption fee to the depositor of the empty can and (2) crushing and collapsing the empty can whereby its volume is decreased and thus may be easily stored and transported to the reclamation center. Pursuant to the teaching of the present invention, the depositor of can B in access opening 22 will automatically receive a refund coin discharged via exit opening 24 in accordance with the microswitch devices set forth hereinbelow.

The access opening 22 has a lower lip 26 extending therefrom to provide a convenient access for the deposit of can B. Within the housing 10 is a longitudinal inclined-mounted hopper 28 whereby the deposited can may be rolled and guided therealong from an upper entry end 30 to a lower terminal end 32. Slightly above the lower terminal end 32 is a microswitch which is shown as a movably mounted vertical depending arm 34. The rolling can, that is, the lead can of a series of cans will contact microswitch 34 which actuates through appropriate circuitry (not shown) the release of an individual can from hopper 28.

Within the housing 10 there is provided a frame structure 36 which includes a pair of horizontal and parallel arranged upper bars 38, vertical legs 40 respectively connected to the bars 38, a horizontal connecting bar member 42 at the intersections of the respective bar and leg, a pair of lower rails 46 that are parallel to each other and to bars 38, and a spring-pressed rectangular block 44 having vertical sockets for receiving the lower ends of vertical legs 40 and horizontal bores that extend therethrough for receiving the lower rails 46.

The released can drops by gravity onto rails 46. The width edges of the cylindrical can are supported by the rails 46. It is to be understood that the block 44 is movably mounted on the rails 46. After the release of the can from its position on rails 46, the spring-pressed block 44 returns to its original position.

A rectangular shaped box 48 is provided for housing the crusher mechanism of the device A. As shown in FIG. 3 the ends of rails 46 are fixedly attached to the top portion of a longitudinal side wall 50 of rectangular box 48. Mounted to the left of frame structure 36 and within the box 48 is a reversible electric motor 52. The motor 52 operates to advance a pressure plate 54 mounted in box 48 towards an end wall 56 of rectangular box 48 to crush a can between pressure plate 54 and a spring-pressed false end wall 57 which is adjacent to the end wall 56. Subsequent to the crushing of the can, the motor 52 operates to retract the pressure plate 54 to its original starting position.

The side wall 50 of box 48 has an elongated slot 58 and operatively extending therethrough is a pin 60 that is fixedly attached to the medial portion of pressure plate 54. During the reciprocating movements of the pressure plate 54, the pin 60 slides in elongated slot 58 and extends outwardly therefrom. A lever 62 mounted within housing 10 has at one end an upturned portion 64 which slides within an elongated aperture 66 of movably mounted rectangular box 48 and at the other end an enlarged portion 68 which is adapted to operatively contact pin 60 when the block 44 with its associated frame elements is advanced towards the rectangular box 48. FIG. 4 shows the two extreme positions of block 44 and lever 62, the starting can crusher-holding position in dotted lines and the final can holding position prior to crushing in solid lines.

The sequence of the can movements as performed by the pusher and crusher mechanisms is diagrammatically shown in FIGS. 5A-5C. In FIG. 5A, can I, the initial one to be crushed, is positioned on rails 46 by virtue of its gravity fall from hopper 28 and can II, the next one in line, is located above can I in the lower terminal end 32 of hopper 28. In FIG. 5B, can I has been pushed by legs 40 into crusher box 48 and can II has been prohibited from further passage by the movement of bars 38 to block the exit from hopper 28. In FIG. 5C, can I is shown in a crushed condition and can II has been advanced to the initial position of can I in FIG. 5A and so the operation continues as described before.

The operation of the device is completed when the crushed can contacts microswitch 70 and through appropriate circuitry (not shown) a predetermined amount of coin refund is discharged from exit opening 24. The crushed can is deposited; for example, by gravity through a bottom opening (not shown) into storage container drawer 72.

With reference to the embodiments in FIGS. 6A-6B and 7A-7B, the crusher mechanism with respect to small and large size cans will be described, respectively. To accommodate a large size can in rectangular box 48, a microswitch 74 is employed on the interior of side wall 75 of box 48. Likewise, a microswitch 76 is employed to accommodate a small size can. It is to be understood that the deposited large or small size can in box 48 will prevent the advance of pressure plate 54 beyond the respective microswitch 74, 76. The advancement of pressure plate 54 to its respective position will actuate either microswitch 74 or 76. In addition, the application of force against the end of the can by pressure plate 54 will cause the other end of the can to contact the false end wall 57. The end wall 57 has a movably mounted rod 80 extending through an orifice in end wall 56 and said rod 80 is connected with an exterior mounted plate 82. A spring 84 is positioned between plate 82 and end wall 56 to provide a spring bias effect when the said opposite end of the can contacts false end wall 57. With the large or small can the respective microswitch 74 or 76 is actuated simultaneously with the exterior microswitch 86 and its associated circuitry to cause a predetermined amount of coin money to be refunded. For example, the refund for a large can may be two cents, while for the small can, one cent.

The invention has been described in detail with particular reference to the preferred embodiment thereof, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, in lieu of the described coin receiving system of the present invention, a debit card system may be readily substituted therefore.