Title:
Viscous material filling device
United States Patent 3926229


Abstract:
A valved filling head for filling a container with a viscous flowable product includes means for introducing a controlled blast of fluid through the head toward the fill opening or spout of the container at the end of the fill cycle. The fluid stream is directed against accumulated viscous material in the fill opening, in order to push the viscous material down into the container away from the spout and to prevent splattering of the material onto the container and over filling apparatus when the head and spout are separated and the opening is capped.



Inventors:
SCHOLLE WILLIAM R
Application Number:
05/444127
Publication Date:
12/16/1975
Filing Date:
02/20/1974
Assignee:
SCHOLLE CORPORATION
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/90, 141/392
International Classes:
B65B39/00; B67C3/00; B67C3/28; (IPC1-7): B65B3/04; B67C3/02
Field of Search:
141/90,258-262,392,1,4-7,48
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3522824AUTOMATIC CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS1970-08-04Allen et al.
3516455CONTAINER-FILLING APPARATUS1970-06-23Carter
3498508APPARATUS FOR EXTRUDING A LENGTH OF MATERIAL1970-03-03Francisoud



Primary Examiner:
Bell Jr., Houston S.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gary, Juettner, Pigott & Cullinan
Claims:
I claim

1. A method for filling a container with a viscous material, comprising the steps of bringing the neck of a container into communication with a viscous material outlet, delivering viscous material through said outlet into the container until the level of material reaches the neck of the container and the viscous material extends between said outlet and the container, stopping delivery of viscous material through said outlet, then, with the neck of the container still in communication with the outlet, directing a stream of cleansing fluid under pressure through said outlet and into the neck of the container for discharging all of the viscous material in said outlet and between said outlet and the container into the container, and then removing the container from said outlet, whereupon the viscous material will not cone up in the container neck and said outlet will remain clean.

2. A device for filling containers with a viscous material, comprising a body having a viscous material inlet, a viscous material outlet connected to said inlet and adapted for reception of the neck of a container for supplying viscous material to the container, a valve member movably mounted in said body for movement into and out of closing engagement within said outlet for selectively establishing and disestablishing communication between said material inlet and said material outlet, a fluid passageway through said valve member having an outlet directed into said material outlet, and means operative upon movement of said valve member into closing engagement within said material outlet for supplying a momentary or premeasured blast of pressurized fluid through said passageway and said material outlet and into the neck of the container for discharging all of the viscous material from said material outlet into said container and for preventing coning of the viscous material in the neck of the container upon removal of the neck from said material outlet.

3. A device for filling a container with a viscous material, comprising a material outlet adapted to communicate with the inlet of a container, a chamber in communication with said outlet, means for supplying viscous material under pressure to said chamber for forcing said material through said outlet and into the container, a generally tubular valve rod mounted for reciprocation in said chamber axially of said outlet and carrying a tubular valve movable into and out of said outlet, said valve having an external surface in closed blocking engagement with said outlet when said valve is in said outlet, means for reciprocating said rod for moving said valve axially into and out of closed position in said outlet, means for supplying fluid under pressure to the interior of said tubular rod and valve, and means operative upon movement of said valve into closed position for delivering a momentary or pre-measured supply of said fluid through said rod, said valve and said outlet into the container for discharging residual viscous material from said outlet into the container and for preventing coning of the viscous material in the container when the container is removed from said outlet.

4. The device of claim 3 wherein said means for reciprocating said rod comprises a second chamber spaced from the first-named chamber and surrounding a portion of said rod remote from said valve, a piston on said rod within said second chamber, and means for alternately supplying pressurized fluid to said second chamber on the opposite sides of said piston.

5. A device for filling containers with a material, comprising a body having a material inlet, a material outlet connected to said inlet, a valve member movably mounted in said body for movement into and out of closing engagement within said outlet for selectively establishing and disestablishing communication between said inlet and said outlet, a fluid passageway through said valve member having an outlet directed into said material outlet, and means for selectively supplying pressurized fluid through said passageway and said material outlet.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

U.S. Pat. No. 3,517,688 illustrates a filling valve or head which has been successfully employed for filling a container with liquid. The patented device includes a head with a reciprocating piston which opens and closes a liquid shut-off valve therein, and the device is therefore adapted to fill a plurality of containers in sequence. The device also includes a sanitary chamber which isolates the working piston from the flow of liquid through the valve, thereby assuring sanitary operation.

Devices of the foregoing nature, while entirely suitable for liquids, are not satisfactory for filling containers with viscous materials, such as tomato paste or similar products. After the container has been filled and the valve closed, the container and fill head are separated, which causes residual material in the head and the neck or spout of the container to stretch or "cone up" above the container opening or spout. The residual cone of viscous material interferes with subsequent capping of the container, and causes the viscous material to splatter onto the container and the filling apparatus. In an asceptic filling operation, such spattering necessitates shutting down, cleansing and resterilizing of the contaminated apparatus before the filling operation can be continued.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides means within the filling head for introducing a stream of fluid against the residual viscous material in the head and the container spout or opening at the end of the fill cycle, after the material valve has been closed. The fluid blast need only be momentary, of sufficient force and duration to drive residual viscous material out of the head and down into the container before the filling device and container are separated. Consequently, the viscous material is removed and separated from the head so that when the head is removed from the spout there is no "coning" of the viscous material up out of the spout, and thus no splattering or other of the problems encountered with prior art devices.

In addition, this fluid blast can be utilized to introduce an inert fluid or gas, such as nitrogen, into the container spout to insure sterility and/or to minimize oxidation and discoloration of the packaged product.

THE DRAWING

The single FIGURE is a vertical sectional view of a filling head which incorporates the features of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The filling head comprises a vertically mounted cylindrical casing 10 having an axial material outlet tube 12 at the lower end and a material inlet 14 therein at one side spaced above the outlet. As described in Pat. No. 3,517,688, the casing 10 is comprised of detachably interconnected separable components facilitating disassembly and cleansing of the head. The outlet tube 12 is adapted to fit into the open neck or spout 16 of a container 18 during the filling operation, with the neck abutting a collar 17 on the outlet tube. The inlet 14 is connected to a pressurized source of viscous material, such as tomato paste, to be introduced into the container 18.

A rod 20 is axially slidably mounted within the casing 10, the upper portion of the rod extending above the casing through a ring seal 22 therein. The lower end of the rod 20 has a valve head 24 provided with a ring seal 26, the head and its seal being adapted to be moved downward into and to seal against and close the outlet tube 12.

Means are provided for reciprocating the rod 20 axially of the casing 10, comprising an enlarged annular chamber 28 between the rod and the casing near the top thereof, defined by a relatively enlarged section 30 of the casing. An annular piston 32 is provided on the rod 20 within the chamber 28 and has a ring seal 34 in the circumference thereof which engages the interior wall of the section 30 and divides the chamber 28 into upper and lower portions. Ring seals 36 are provided at the bottom of the section 30 to seal the lower chamber, as the seal 22 seals the upper chamber.

A pair of gas conduits 38 and 40 are provided in communication with the chamber 28 respectively above and below the piston 32 in order to provide the necessary motive power for reciprocating the piston 32 and the rod 20 in the casing. The conduits may be connected to suitable valve means, such as V1, coupled to a source S1 of fluid under pressure. The valve means V1 may be a four-way valve means of known construction, operated in a definite sequence to alternately pressurize and exhaust the spaces above and below the piston 32, whereby the rod 20 is reciprocated and the associated valve head 24 is brought into and out of sealing engagement with the outlet tube 12.

From the foregoing, it may be seen that when differential pressure is applied in the chamber 28 above the piston 32, the rod 20 is driven downward and the head enters and entirely blocks the outlet tube 12, thereby blocking or closing off the flow of material through the outlet. Upon reversal of the pressure differential, the rod 20 is raised out of the outlet, thereby allowing the free flow of material through the outlet and into the spout 16 of the container 18.

If the filling device or valve is to be used in a sanitary application, a sanitary seal is preferably provided between the operational area of the working piston 32 and the valve head 24, the latter being in continuous intimate contact with the material being filled into the containers. For this purpose, a section of reduced diameter 42 may be provided on the rod 20 between the valve head 24 and the seals 36 to provide a second annular chamber 44. Respective inlet and outlet pipes 46 and 48 are connected through the casing 10 to this chamber, the inlet pipe being connected to a source, such as source S2, of a sanitary fluid, such as an inert gas, nitrogen or steam. The fluid is preferably circulated through the chamber 44 under positive pressure, which is maintained because of the upper seal 36 and a second ring seal 50 located on the rod between the head 24 and the section 42 of reduced diameter.

An axial bore 52 extends from one end of the rod 20 to the other, said bore opening into a downwardly facing conical recess 54 in the valve head 24. The upper end of the bore 52 is connected to a source, such as S3, of sanitary fluid, air, sterile or inert gas, or the like, which is fed, under pressure, through a suitable valve V2 into the bore. The valve V2 is operable in timed relationship with the operation of the rod 20, so as to provide a momentary or premeasured blast of fluid through the bore 52 and out of the opening 54 shortly after the valve head 24 enters into and closes the outlet tube 12.

As shown in the drawing, the filling apparatus is in its filling position wherein the valve head 24 is retracted upward into the casing 10, thereby allowing flow of viscous or semi-solid material from the inlet 14 directly through the outlet tube 12 into a container. The container 18 will normally be completely filled, such that the material therein rises up to the level of the neck. The amount of material which is introduced into the container may be determined by any well known methods, such as weight sensing means beneath the container or by timing the fill period.

As the desired volume in the container is being attained, the portion of the chamber 28 above the piston 32 is pressurized, and the piston and rod 20 are driven downward until the valve head 24 closes the outlet tube, and the flow of material is interrupted.

In the case of viscous materials, after the valve head 24 is closed, a continuous column of material extends from the base of the valve head into the container neck 16. If the outlet tube 12 and container 18 were separated at this stage, the viscous material would be drawn up out of the neck or spout 16 in the shape of a cone.

The present invention prevents this so-called coning by passing a stream of fluid through the head 24. Specifically, after the valve head 24 is in its closed position, valve V2 is opened momentarily or for a predetermined period of time so that a momentary or premeasured quantity of pressurized fluid is driven into the recess 54, which causes residual material in the outlet tube 12 to be pushed down into the neck of the container. In the case of food products, the fluid employed may be air, but is preferably a sterile inert gas, nitrogen or steam.

Thereafter, the filled container 18 may be separated from the outlet 12, without incurring any coning of the product. An empty container may then be substituted for the filled container, whereafter the lower portion of the chamber 28 is pressurized through conduit 40, causing unseating and raising of the valve head to an open position, whereby the filling cycle is repeated.