Title:
Device for separating tobacco and transport air and arrangement and method for forming at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Device and method for separating tobacco and transport air. The device includes an inlet structured to receive tobacco carried by transport air flow, and a discharge side coupled to at least two sites to discharge the received tobacco separated from the transport air flow. A tobacco guide wall is provided that is movable so that the discharge side consecutively communicates with the at least two sites. The instant abstract is neither intended to define the invention disclosed in this specification nor intended to limit the scope of the invention in any way.



Inventors:
Stuber, Reinhard (Reinbek, DE)
Application Number:
10/959123
Publication Date:
04/28/2005
Filing Date:
10/07/2004
Assignee:
Hauni Maschinenbau AG (Hamburg, DE)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
131/108
International Classes:
A24C5/02; A24B7/14; A24C5/18; A24C5/39; (IPC1-7): A24B7/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, PHU HOANG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (1950 ROLAND CLARKE PLACE, RESTON, VA, 20191, US)
Claims:
1. A device for separating tobacco and transport air, comprising: an inlet structured to receive tobacco carried by transport air flow; a discharge side coupled to at least two sites to discharge the received tobacco separated from the transport air flow; a tobacco guide wall; and said tobacco guide wall being movable so that said discharge side consecutively communicates with the at least two sites.

2. The device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: a separating element structured and arranged to separate the received tobacco from the transport air flow.

3. The device in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tobacco guide wall is formed in a convex manner.

4. The device in accordance with claim 1, wherein said tobacco guide wall is at least partially pivotable.

5. The device in accordance with claim 4, wherein at least a portion of said tobacco guide wall comprises a flap.

6. The device in accordance with claim 4, further comprising a gate having a guide wall coupled to said discharge side, wherein said tobacco guide wall is structured to align with a guide wall of a gate.

7. An arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker comprising the device in accordance with claim 1, said arrangement further comprising: at least one suction rod conveyor; feed devices, positioned downstream from said device, being structured and arranged to convey at least one of portioned and sifted tobacco on at least two flow surfaces leading to said at least one suction rod conveyor; said feed devices comprising at least two ducts arranged one behind the other, in a direction crosswise to a conveyor direction of said suction rod conveyor.

8. The arrangement in accordance with claim 7, further comprising a gate for at least one of portioning and separating the transport air flow from the received tobacco, which is positioned between said device and each duct.

9. An arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker, comprising: at least one suction rod conveyor; feed devices for conveying at least one of dosed and sifted tobacco to at least two flow surfaces leading to said at least one suction rod conveyor; said feed devices comprising at least two ducts; gates for at least one of portioning tobacco and separating transport air from tobacco positioned upstream from respective ducts; and a single tobacco/air separation device being structured and arranged to supply the gates with tobacco.

10. The arrangement in accordance with claim 9, wherein said ducts are alternatingly supplied with tobacco.

11. An endless rod maker comprising said device in accordance with claim 1.

12. An endless rod maker comprising said arrangement in accordance with claim 9.

13. A method for assembling at least two tobacco rods from a single tobacco supply, comprising: conveying tobacco in a flow of transport air; separating the tobacco from the transport air; alternatingly feeding the tobacco to at least two ducts to alternatingly charge the at least two ducts with tobacco; conveying the tobacco from the at least two ducts onto at least one flow surface; and feeding the tobacco to at least two suction rod conveyors.

14. The method in accordance with claim 13, wherein after the separating of the tobacco from the transport air and before alternatingly feeding the tobacco to the at least two ducts, the method comprises: alternatingly feeding the tobacco to at least two gates for at least one of portioning tobacco and separating residual transport air.

15. The method in accordance with claim 14, wherein one gate is provided for each duct.

16. The method in accordance with claim 13, wherein the ducts are arranged one behind the other, with respect to a direction crosswise to a conveyor direction of the tobacco on the suction rod conveyors.

17. An apparatus comprising: a first flow channel; a second flow channel; a first discharge coupled to said first flow channel; a second discharge coupled to said second flow channel; an inlet channel coupled to said first and second flow channels; a separator element structured and arranged to separate transport air from tobacco in a flow of the transport air; and said first and second flow channels comprising a movable common wall structured and arranged to control flow of tobacco to one of the first and second flow channel.

18. The apparatus in accordance with claim 17, wherein said first and second flow channels comprise partially circular paths, and said separator element is radially inside of said movable common wall.

19. The apparatus in accordance with claim 17, further comprising: a first gate coupled to said first discharge; and a second gate coupled to said second discharge; wherein said first and second gates are structured and arranged to at least one of portion tobacco and separate residual transport air from the tobacco.

20. An endless rod maker comprising said apparatus in accordance with claim 17.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 of European Patent Application No. 03 024 652.4, filed on Oct. 27, 2003, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a device for separating tobacco and transport air and an arrangement for forming at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker (rod-making machine).

The invention further relates to an endless rod maker and a method for forming at least two tobacco rods from a single tobacco supply.

2. Discussion of Background Information

An arrangement for forming at least one tobacco rod in an endless rod maker is known from the applicant's DE 101 54 807.9. The object of the arrangement described therein was to further intensify and stabilize the positive effect of the fluidized bed distributor through an optimized design of the tobacco feed devices in terms of structure and flow technology. The arrangement for forming at least one tobacco rod in an endless rod maker is to be provided to this end with feed devices leading to a suction rod conveyor and guiding a flow surface forming a tobacco/air layer, whereby the feed devices feature a sifting device located upstream of a dosing device—relative to the conveying direction of the tobacco—opening into the flow surface. The sifting device can hereby preferably be a zigzag sifter. Within the scope of the invention the flow surfaces are provided in particular to form a tobacco/air layer.

It is furthermore known from DE 36 19 579 C2 to charge a double-rod maker by a tobacco duct, whereby a sifter is arranged behind the duct in the tobacco conveying direction. With a device or arrangement according to DE 36 19 579 C2, tobacco is applied across the entire width of the distributor shown there, e.g., in FIG. 1, the extension of which in the width can be clearly seen in FIG. 3, on the guide surface shown there which in the scope of this invention is also called a flow surface. In a view of the direction III in FIG. 2 of this patent the width of the guide surface or flow surface can be clearly seen which extends crosswise to the movement direction of the tobacco across the entire guide surface or flow surface. Both DE 36 19 579 C2 and DE 101 54 807.9 are expressly incorporated in the disclosure of this application in their entirety. The so-called guide surface in DE 36 19 579 C2 is called a flow surface in this application.

In the applicant's European Patent Application No. 030 06 602.1 not published prior to this an arrangement and a method are known by which a possibility is provided of accelerating a corresponding endless rod maker regarding the processing speed of the tobacco. It is hereby always to be ensured that with more than one tobacco rod a uniform distribution of the tobacco is ensured with regard to fiber length, mixture and type. Furthermore, a variant is also disclosed in which the rod formation is possible across the entire width or essentially the entire width of the arrangement, so that a very rapid rod formation can be realized. This object is attained in the cited European patent application, which is to be incorporated into the disclosure of this patent application in its entirety, in that an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods is provided in an endless rod maker with the following features:

Feed devices for conveying in particular dosed and/or sifted tobacco on at least two flow surfaces leading to at least respectively one suction rod conveyor, whereby the feed devices comprise at least two ducts that are arranged one behind the other crosswise to the conveying direction of the suction rod conveyors. A method for assembling at least two tobacco rods from a single tobacco supply is accordingly disclosed, whereby at least two ducts are loaded, in particular directly, with tobacco from the tobacco supply, whereby the tobacco is conveyed from the at least two ducts onto respectively one flow surface, and whereby subsequently the tobacco is fed to at least two suction rod conveyors, whereby the ducts are arranged one behind the other crosswise to the conveying direction of the suction rod conveyors.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of this prior art, the present invention further develops the arrangement known from European Patent Application No. 030 06 602.1 and the method accordingly known such that the arrangement is more compact. In this manner, with respect to process control with more than one tobacco rod, a uniform distribution of the tobacco with regard to fiber length, mixture and type is ensured.

According to the invention, a device is provided for separating tobacco and transport air with a tobacco guide wall and a separating element. In this way, tobacco can be fed to the device in an air flow and can be discharged from the device separate from the air flow. The tobacco guide wall is embodied or formed at least on the discharge side of the device in a moveable manner in order to discharge tobacco consecutively at at least two sites. This measure makes it possible to dispense with a further charging device that is shown, e.g., as reference numeral 39 in FIG. 1 of the above-cited European patent application, without any loss of quality in the rod production. In this manner, a corresponding height is saved that would have been necessary to provide the further charging device.

The discharge of the tobacco at at least two sites takes place preferably at a frequency or charging frequency that is greater or preferably much greater than the discharge frequency of the tobacco gate. A separation of the tobacco is ensured through a corresponding embodiment of the arrangement with the device according to the invention. The charging frequency can be, e.g., ten times as great as the discharge frequency of the ducts or, e.g., only five times as great. The tobacco gate is arranged before the pre-distributor and receives the cut tobacco conveyed to the cigarette machine as a rule pneumatically, which cut tobacco has been prepared in the tobacco preparation (primary). Within the scope of the invention the term moveable also covers the term displaceable.

If the tobacco guide wall is embodied in a convex manner, the centrifugal force can be utilized to separate the tobacco from the air flow or the transport air.

Preferably the tobacco guide wall is embodied or formed at least in part in a pivoted manner. In a particularly simple embodiment of the device according to the invention, a part of the tobacco guide wall is embodied as a flap. The flap then need only be correspondingly tilted to feed tobacco to the various sites. Preferably the flap is pivoted about a point of rotation. If the tobacco guide wall can be aligned on the discharge side of the device with a guide wall of a gate, a separation of the tobacco is counteracted. A preferred gate comprises a cell wheel that is used to separate residual transport air and/or to dose the tobacco.

The invention is directed to an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker, which includes feed devices for conveying in particular portioned and/or sifted tobacco on at least two flow surfaces leading to at least respectively one suction rod conveyor. In this manner, the feed devices include at least two ducts that are arranged one behind the other crosswise to the conveying direction of the suction rod conveyor. A device according to the invention as described above is arranged upstream of the ducts. An arrangement according to the invention is space-saving, i.e., can be realized with a low structural height. Furthermore, a maximum operating safety is given, since the tobacco drop sections can be arranged essentially in a vertical manner. Preferably, a gate for portioning tobacco and/or separating residual transport air is provided respectively between the device for separating tobacco and air and the respective duct.

The invention is also directed to an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker, in which feed devices are provided for conveying in particular portioned and/or sifted tobacco on at least two flow surfaces leading to at least respectively one suction rod conveyor. The feed devices include at least two ducts, such that, upstream of the at least two ducts respectively one gate for portioning tobacco and/or separating transport air is arranged which can be supplied with tobacco by a single device for separating tobacco and air.

This arrangement according to the invention also makes it possible to realize a low structural height, whereby relatively few mechanical elements are used.

Preferably the ducts can be alternately supplied with tobacco. An endless rod maker according to the invention comprises a device according to the invention, as described above, and/or an arrangement according to the invention, as described above.

The present invention is directed to a method for assembling at least two tobacco rods from a single tobacco supply, such that at least two ducts are charged with the tobacco from the tobacco supply. The tobacco is conveyed from the at least two ducts onto respectively at least one flow surface, and the tobacco subsequently is fed to at least two suction rod conveyors. The tobacco is conveyed by an air flow and is separated from the air flow before being conveyed into the ducts by a device for separating tobacco and transport air. In this way, the tobacco is fed alternately to the ducts from the device for separating tobacco and transport air directly after the separation from the air flow.

This renders possible a reliable assembly of at least two tobacco rods, whereby a uniform distribution of the tobacco in the various tobacco rods can be realized. Tobacco is always fed to respectively one duct only for a certain time and subsequently to another duct. This occurs preferably one after the other or alternately. If before the feeding of the tobacco to the ducts and after the separation from the air flow the tobacco is first fed to each of the gates alternately, by which the tobacco is portioned and/or the residual transport air is separated, an even more uniform rod assembly is possible. Preferably a gate is provided for each duct. A particularly preferred embodiment is given if the ducts are arranged crosswise to the conveying direction of the tobacco on the suction rod conveyors one behind the other. This renders possible a very uniform tobacco rod formation.

In an expedient process the ducts extend essentially across the entire width of the arrangement. Within the scope of the invention the width of the arrangement is in particular the entire shower width of the tobacco or the entire width across the flow surfaces before they are divided into further flow surfaces. Within the scope of this invention the term “essentially the entire width” also covers the entire width, whereby naturally a housing not provided for tobacco distribution or tobacco rod assembly, which housing is arranged around the arrangement, is not counted as part of the width. Within the scope of FIG. 4 of DE 32 09 195 C2, the entire width would be the entire width also across the wall 36 arranged there in the inclined guide duct 31. In other words, the width is the effective width of the arrangement used for tobacco assembly.

If the ducts are essentially parallel to one another, particularly uniform tobacco rods can be produced. Within the scope of the invention the ducts are in particular arranged one behind the other. Within the scope of the invention, one behind the other means in particular arranged crosswise to the width. If an operator stands in front of the arrangement and the suction rod conveyors in his view extend from left to right (and vice versa), the ducts lie one behind the other.

If at least one tobacco sifter is provided, whereby the at least one tobacco sifter is arranged in front of the ducts with regard to the tobacco flow, a tobacco sifting can take place shortly before the production of the tobacco supply. In this case preferably unsifted or not completely sifted tobacco should be fed. In particular in the scope of the invention no tobacco sifter is to be arranged after the ducts in the conveying direction of the tobacco, so that uniform tobacco rods can be produced, without much transport air being necessary. Preferably the tobacco is taken from at least one common tobacco supply.

If an air suctioning is provided in the region of the at least two suction rod conveyors, a particularly uniform rod assembly is possible. The air suctioning ensures that the surplus air that is provided for the tobacco flow on the flow surfaces is suctioned off, in so far as the suction rod conveyors and a possibly provided rolling chamber cannot suction off sufficient air. The air suctioning is useful in particular if tobacco is conveyed to the suction rod conveyors with more air than is suctioned by the suction rod conveyors. Preferably an air suctioning is provided at each channel wall opposite the flow surface, in particular in the region of each suction rod conveyor.

A particularly fast and effective conversion of tobacco into tobacco rods is possible if the at least two flow surfaces are divided into respectively two flow surfaces that lead to respectively one suction rod conveyor, so that in all four tobacco rods can be produced at the same time. Alternatively, the conversion of tobacco into tobacco rods can occur more slowly than usual, so that the subsequent processing steps are not as time-critical, without any loss of productivity.

If tobacco can be taken from two tobacco supplies and can be fed separately to the at least two ducts, it is possible to produce two tobacco rods simultaneously that are different regarding the type of tobacco so that with an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods two different cigarette brands can be produced in one endless rod maker. This thus provides a high degree of variability in cigarette production.

If preferably the at least two ducts are filled alternately, a separation of the tobacco is counteracted. Hereby preferably a filling of the ducts takes place in portions, whereby a plurality of portions is necessary to provide a complete filling. In a preferred embodiment of the method according to the invention the frequency of the filling of the ducts is greater, in particular much greater, than the discharge frequency of the tobacco gate.

If filling the ducts and conveying onto the respectively at least one flow surface is provided essentially over the entire with of a distributor unit for distributing tobacco on at least two suction rod conveyors, a particularly effective and fast formation of tobacco rods is possible.

The tobacco is preferably sifted beforehand so that as little transport air as possible needs to be used to form the tobacco rods. In a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention three, four or more tobacco rods are produced in particular simultaneously. If twice as many tobacco rods are produced as ducts are provided, in particular the flow surfaces are divided in terms of their width into respectively two further flow surfaces equal in width in order to obtain a uniform distribution of tobacco fibers and tobacco rod, as with DE 36 19 579 C2 or EP 1 174 046 A2, which are expressly incorporated in their entirety in the disclosure of this application, whereby not just two tobacco rods are possible, but also four or more.

If a separation of transport air and tobacco takes place between the tobacco supply and the at least two ducts, a good result can be achieved regarding the uniform formation of the tobacco rods during the subsequent formation of the tobacco rods with as little air suctioning as possible.

The tobacco is preferably fed to the ducts in portions. Furthermore in particular further air is suctioned off preferably in the area of the flow surfaces and/or in the area of the suction rod conveyors.

The present invention is directed to a device for separating tobacco and transport air that includes an inlet structured to receive tobacco carried by transport air flow, and a discharge side coupled to at least two sites to discharge the received tobacco separated from the transport air flow. A tobacco guide wall is provided that is movable so that the discharge side consecutively communicates with the at least two sites.

In accordance with a feature of the present invention, the device can further include a separating element structured and arranged to separate the received tobacco from the transport air flow.

According to another feature of the instant invention, the tobacco guide wall can be formed in a convex manner.

Further, the tobacco guide wall may be at least partially pivotable, and at least a portion of the tobacco guide wall can include a flap. The device can also include a gate having a guide wall coupled to the discharge side. The tobacco guide wall can be structured to align with a guide wall of a gate.

Moreover, the present invention is directed to an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker that includes the above-mentioned device. The arrangement further includes at least one suction rod conveyor, and feed devices, positioned downstream from the device, structured and arranged to convey at least one of portioned and sifted tobacco on at least two flow surfaces leading to the at least one suction rod conveyor. The feed devices may include at least two ducts arranged one behind the other, in a direction crosswise to a conveyor direction of the suction rod conveyor. The arrangement can further include a gate for at least one of portioning and separating the transport air flow from the received tobacco, which is positioned between the device and each duct.

The instant invention is directed to an arrangement for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker. The arrangement includes at least one suction rod conveyor, and feed devices for conveying at least one of dosed and sifted tobacco to at least two flow surfaces leading to the at least one suction rod conveyor. The feed devices include at least two ducts. The arrangement also includes gates for at least one of portioning tobacco and separating transport air from tobacco positioned upstream from respective ducts, and a single tobacco/air separation device being structured and arranged to supply the gates with tobacco. The ducts are alternatingly supplied with tobacco.

In accordance with a feature of the invention, an endless rod maker can include the above-noted device.

Further, in accordance with another feature of the present invention, an endless rod maker may include the above-discussed arrangement.

The invention is directed to a method for assembling at least two tobacco rods from a single tobacco supply. The method includes conveying tobacco in a flow of transport air, separating the tobacco from the transport air, and alternatingly feeding the tobacco to at least two ducts to alternatingly charge the at least two ducts with tobacco. The method also includes conveying the tobacco from the at least two ducts onto at least one flow surface, and feeding the tobacco to at least two suction rod conveyors.

According to another feature of the instant invention, after the separating of the tobacco from the transport air and before alternatingly feeding the tobacco to the at least two ducts, the method can include alternatingly feeding the tobacco to at least two gates for at least one of portioning tobacco and separating residual transport air. Further, one gate is provided for each duct. Still further, the ducts can be arranged one behind the other, with respect to a direction crosswise to a conveyor direction of the tobacco on the suction rod conveyors.

The present invention is directed to an apparatus that includes a first flow channel, a second flow channel, a first discharge coupled to the first flow channel, and a second discharge coupled to the second flow channel. An inlet channel is coupled to the first and second flow channels, a separator element is structured and arranged to separate transport air from tobacco in a flow of the transport air, and the first and second flow channels can include a movable common wall structured and arranged to control flow of tobacco to one of the first and second flow channel.

In accordance with still another feature of the invention, the first and second flow channels may include partially circular paths, and the separator element is radially inside of the movable common wall.

According to another feature of the invention, the apparatus can further include a first gate coupled to the first discharge, and a second gate coupled to the second discharge. The first and second gates may be structured and arranged to at least one of portion tobacco and separate residual transport air from the tobacco.

In accordance with still yet another feature of the present invention, an endless rod maker can include the above-discussed apparatus.

Other exemplary embodiments and advantages of the present invention may be ascertained by reviewing the present disclosure and the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is further described in the detailed description which follows, in reference to the noted plurality of drawings by way of non-limiting examples of exemplary embodiments of the present invention, in which like reference numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings, and wherein:

FIG. 1 diagrammatically illustrates an arrangement according to the invention according to European patent application 030 06 602.1;

FIG. 2 diagrammatically illustrates another arrangement according to European patent application 030 06 602.1; and

FIG. 3 diagrammatically illustrates a device according to the invention for separating tobacco and transport air or a diagrammatic section of an arrangement according to the invention for forming at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The particulars shown herein are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the embodiments of the present invention only and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the present invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the present invention in more detail than is necessary for the fundamental understanding of the present invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the present invention may be embodied in practice.

FIG. 1 shows an arrangement for assembling two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker according to European patent application 030 06 602.10, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Tobacco is fed from a pneumatic gate 11 to a predistributor 10 provided with rotary rakes 12 and 13. The predistributor 10 opens into a tobacco reservoir 16 to which a steep conveyor 17 is assigned on the discharge side, which steep conveyor interacts with a paddle roll 18 combing the tobacco and with a separating roll 21 deflecting tobacco into a feed duct 19 leading downward. The feed duct 19 is limited by a boundary plate 20. The feed duct 19 opens laterally into a section of a sifting device in the form of a zigzag sifter 22 arranged vertically.

The zigzag sifter 22 is part of a circulating air system 24 driven by a cross flow blower 23. A circulating air manifold is provided downstream of the cross flow blower 23 with respect to the flow direction of the circulating air system 24, which air manifold changes in the area of its outer radius into a bypass branching off from the circulating air system 24 and in the area of its inner radius changes into a surplus flow channel into which a tobacco surplus transport device in the form of a screw conveyor and a cell wheel opens. These details are not shown in FIG. 1, but are shown, e.g., in FIG. 1 or FIG. 4 of DE 101 54 807.9, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Furthermore a tobacco/air separator 26 embodied as a Coanda separator is integrated into the circulating air system 24 of the sifter circuit, which tobacco/air separator on both sides of a separator edge 36 is connected on the one hand to the suction side of the cross flow blower 23 and on the other hand opens into a cell wheel gate 37 arranged above two ducts 40, 40′.

The ducts 40, 40′ arranged essentially vertically end with their duct outlets, which are embodied in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 3 as vibrating duct outlets with corresponding vibrating elements 60, 60′, at the lower end respectively over a removal roll 42, 42′ interacting with a picker roller 41, 41′. Also provided between the ducts 40, 40′ and the cell wheel gate 37 is an impeller wheel 38 for portioning tobacco and a distributor element 39 by which the two ducts 40, 40′ can be filled with tobacco alternately in portions.

The cell wheel gate 37 is used to separate residual transport air from the circulating air system 24 from tobacco that is conveyed from the tobacco separation chamber 81 above the cell wheel gate 37 thereto. In further exemplary embodiments that are not shown, instead of providing two gates in the form of the cell wheel gate 37 and the impeller wheel 38, only one gate is provided. In the case of FIG. 2 a gate is provided in the form of an impeller wheel 37 or 37′. A single gate can also be provided which comprises the functions of the cell wheel gate 37 and the impeller wheel 38, namely separating air and tobacco and portioning tobacco.

Below the removal rolls 42, 42′ respectively one guide channel is visible which is limited by a guide surface that changes into a respectively single-lane flow surface 44, 44′ of a flow channel. At the beginning, the flow channels lie one above the other. A closely abutting air flow transporting tobacco is produced on the flow surfaces 44, 44′ by air blast feeds 43, 43′. The flow surfaces 44, 44′ leading upward open below a rod assembly unit of a double rod maker, whereby in two suction rod conveyors 50, 50′ are shown diagrammatically in FIG. 1, and in FIG. 2 one suction assembly unit 51 that features a corresponding number of suction rod conveyors 50, 50′ is shown diagrammatically. The suction rod conveyors are constructed according to DE 36 19 579 C2, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. The tobacco fill flows leading upward according to FIG. 1 arrive at two suction rod conveyors 50, 50′ arranged parallel next to one another, which suction rod conveyors comprise respectively a permeable conveyor belt running in the base of a tobacco channel along a perforated base, the rear side of which conveyor belt is acted on by the suction effect of a vacuum chamber. The surplus transport air is suctioned off by air suctioning elements 30, 30′. The transport air itself is brought toward the flow surfaces 44 and 44′ by an air flow 43 or 43′ indicated diagrammatically.

The tobacco/air separator 26 is arranged around a pipe body 48.

The zigzag sifter 22 is equipped with a screw 47 with which the eliminated sifted matter, such as tobacco ribs, is transported away. Further elements, such as a post-sifter, can be provided as described in DE 101 54 807.9.

The mode of operation of the sifter system preparing the assembly of a web-like tobacco flow transferred into a rod formation path and integrated into the distributor of an endless rod maker is as follows:

Tobacco passes via the gate 11 and the predistributor 10 into the tobacco reservoir 16 of the steep conveyor 17 from which the sifter system is supplied with a continuous flow of tobacco in that the steep conveyor 17, equipped with steep conveyor combs, combs out tobacco from the tobacco reservoir 16. In order to achieve a uniform covering of the steep conveyor 17, surplus tobacco is scraped off by the paddle roll 18. By monitoring the rotational speed of the steep conveyor 17, a machine dead halt can be triggered at reduced rated speed, e.g., to prevent damage by foreign bodies.

The tobacco lying on the steep conveyor 17 reaches the effective area of the separating roll 21 which transfers the tobacco by coarse pre-separation into the zigzag sifter 22 in an accelerated manner, and the rotational speed of which is adjusted with respect to a compromise between tobacco destruction and necessary separation, preferably in a range between 800 and 900 revolutions per minute.

As a result of the characteristic form of the zigzag sifter 22, on the one hand light tobacco fibers of the tobacco flow are transported upwards, and on the other hand the tobacco flow is set in a motion running crosswise to the main flow. Since the flow profile is markedly inhomogeneous, areas result with high and low air speed which set the tobacco fibers in a circulating motion, so-called “eddying rolls.” In this way the ribs contained in the tobacco flow are eliminated and moved downward by gravity. Light tobacco fibers are repeatedly transported upward step by step in the zigzag sifter 22. This process takes place in each sifter step embodied as a serration.

The rib material falling out of the zigzag sifter 22 can be blown through a post-sifter with the aid of sifter air tapped from the circulating air system, through which lighter tobacco particles still adhering to the ribs are transported back into the main air flow. The tobacco ribs are then removed by a gate in a known manner, whereby reference is hereby also made in particular to DE 101 54 807.9.

The sifted tobacco flow reaches the tobacco/air separator 26 in which the separation of tobacco and air takes place through centrifugal force and the Coanda effect, whereby the tobacco fibers are moved by centrifugal force along the outer geometry in the form of a curved outer side of the separator 26 and the air rests against the inner radius of the geometry in the form of a cylinder surface of a pipe body 48 due to the Coanda effect. The final separation of air and tobacco takes place at the separator edge 36, whereby the air separated from the tobacco is fed back to the cross flow blower 23, which features a uniform flow profile or a homogenous speed distribution across the width (perpendicular to the drawing plane) of the distributor.

The tobacco separated in the tobacco/air separator 26 is removed from the sifter system by the cell wheel gate 37 and arrives at two ducts 40, 40′ via an impeller wheel 38 for positioning the tobacco quantities, whereby in the position of the distributor element 39 shown in FIG. 1 the tobacco portion in FIG. 1 is conveyed into the right duct 40′. In the position of the distributor element 39 shown by a dotted line, tobacco arrives at the duct 40 shown on the left. In the arrangement itself the ducts 40 and 40′ are arranged one behind the other and extend over the entire width of the arrangement that lies perpendicular to the drawing plane.

The tobacco is transferred from the ducts 40, 40′ in a finely separated form by the removal rolls 42, 42′ and the picker rollers 41, 41′ via a guide surface on two flow surfaces 44, 44′ embodied as nozzle troughs. Corresponding air blast feeds are shown by references 43 and 43′, whereby additional air blast feeds, as described, e.g., in DE 101 54 807.9 or in EP 1 174 046 A2, can be used to achieve an excellent separation of tobacco fibers. The disclosures of these documents are expressly incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

Maintaining an ideal pressure in the form of a slight vacuum close to 0 mb in a known manner, a close fitting tobacco fluidized bed flow is produced to the rod assembly unit 51 or, as is shown in FIG. 1, to the suction rod conveyors 50, 50′, whereby here too a tobacco fluidized bed flow across the entire width of the arrangement is achieved. Preferably control units for adjusting and maintaining optimal flow conditions and pressure conditions are also provided, whereby in particular in FIG. 1 air suctioning elements 30, 30′ are arranged shortly before the suction rod conveyors 50, 50′ in order to be able to suction off surplus air.

The suction rod conveyors convey tobacco (not shown) in direction 91, thus in the drawing plane of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.

Through the assembly of tobacco rods across the entire width of the arrangement according to the invention, a very homogenous and very fast tobacco rod formation can occur. To this end preferably two ducts are used that are embodied across the entire width of the arrangement, so that a uniform and fast rod formation is possible.

FIG. 2 shows a diagrammatic representation of a particularly preferred arrangement according to EP 030 06 602.1. The difference, e.g., from FIG. 1 is that tobacco from two supplies 80 and 80′ can be fed separately to the ducts 40 and 40′. This results in the advantage that different tobacco brands or endless rods of different tobacco can be produced from different tobacco on an endless rod maker or in an arrangement of the type according to the invention. In the exemplary embodiment according to FIG. 2 these are respectively two rods of different tobacco types. The features of the device for feeding tobacco from the tobacco gate 11 or 11′ and the predistributor 10 or 10′ to the ducts 40 and 40′ correspond to the features of FIG. 1, whereby regarding the second device for conveying and pre-distributing tobacco from FIG. 2 the respective reference numbers are provided with a prime mark. In this respect reference is made in its entirety to the description of FIG. 1.

The distribution of flow surfaces 44 and 44′ on the flow surfaces 441, 441′, 442, and 442′ is known per se, respectively. Now, however, four tobacco rods can be produced. A distribution of the tobacco flows from one flow surface to two flow surfaces is known, e.g., from DE 36 19 579 C2, DE 101 54 807.9 and EP 1 174 046 A2. Four tobacco rods are assembled through the distribution of the tobacco flows from the guide surfaces 44, 44′ to the guide surfaces 441, 442 and 441′, 442′.

The flow surfaces 44 and 44′ are preferably arranged essentially parallel in the embodiment forms.

FIG. 3 shows a device 26 according to the invention for separating tobacco and transport air or a diagrammatic section of an arrangement according to the invention for assembling at least two tobacco rods in an endless rod maker.

Upstream of the tobacco conveyor device, the structure of the arrangement is similar to the installation in FIG. 1, e.g. Tobacco is conveyed through a sifter 22 by an air flow 25 that is an air transport flow, to a tobacco/air separator 26 that represents the device according to the invention for separating tobacco and transport air. The tobacco/air separator 26 comprises a tobacco guide wall 53 that represents the outer limiting wall of the tobacco/air separator. On the discharge side of the tobacco/air separator a flap 71 is provided that is shown in two positions in FIG. 3: by the solid line that is labeled with the reference number 71 and by the dot-dash line with the reference number 71′. The flap 71 or 71′ is pivoted around a rotational axis 73 and can be swiveled accordingly into both positions 71 or 71′. In the position that is shown by the flap 71, the flap 71 is aligned with a guide wall 33 of a feed funnel 32 to the cell wheel gate 37. In this position of the flap 71 the tobacco reaches the cell wheel gate 37 through centrifugal force. When a corresponding filling of the cell wheel gate 37 has occurred, the flap 71 swivels into the position 71′, through which the flap 71′ is aligned in the guide wall 33′ of the feed funnel 32′, so that tobacco is fed to the cell wheel gate 37′. The cell wheel gate 37 or 37′ is used to separate residual transport air from the tobacco and in addition can also be used to portion tobacco in the duct 40 or 40′.

The ducts 40 and 40′ are equipped with vibration elements 60 and 60′. Tobacco is removed from the ducts 40 and 40′ by removal rolls 42 and 42′. The further process or the further features correspond to those of FIG. 1 or FIG. 2.

The advantage of the device according to the invention or the arrangement according to the invention is a lower structural height compared with FIG. 1. Furthermore, only one flap is necessary. Also, compared to FIG. 1 or FIG. 2, all the tobacco drop sections are arranged only completely vertical, which leads to greater operational safety.

Compared to FIG. 2, a lower structural height likewise results, since only one sifter and one circulating air system have to be used to feed tobacco to two ducts. Subsequently it is possible to transfer the tobacco combed out of the respective ducts in one tobacco rod per duct or two tobacco rods per duct, as shown in FIG. 2. The tobacco is fed from the flap 71 or 71′ alternately to the cell wheel gates 37 and 37′. The cell wheel gates 37 and 37′ can have a common drive.

It is noted that the foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention. While the present invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it is understood that the words which have been used herein are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Changes may be made, within the purview of the appended claims, as presently stated and as amended, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention in its aspects. Although the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed herein; rather, the present invention extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods and uses, such as are within the scope of the appended claims.

List of Reference Numbers

    • 10, 10′ Predistributor
    • 11, 11′ Tobacco gate
    • 12, 12′ Rotary rake
    • 13, 13′ Rotary rake
    • 16, 16′ Tobacco reservoir
    • 17, 17′ Steep conveyor
    • 18, 18′ Paddle roll
    • 19, 19′ Feed duct
    • 20, 20′ Boundary plate
    • 21, 21′ Separating roll
    • 22, 22′ Zigzag sifter
    • 23, 23′ Cross flow blower
      • 24 Circulating air system
      • 25 Air flow
    • 26, 26′ Tobacco/air separator
    • 30, 30′ Air suctioning element
    • 32, 32′ Feed funnel
    • 33, 33′ Guide wall
      • 36 Cutting edge
    • 37, 37′ Cell wheel gate
      • 38 Impeller wheel
      • 39 Distributor element
    • 40, 40′ Duct
    • 41, 41′ Picker roller
    • 42, 42′ Removal roll
    • 43, 43′ Air flow
    • 44, 44′ Flow surface
    • 441, 441′ Flow surface
    • 442, 442
      • 47 Screw
      • 48 Pipe body
    • 50, 50′ Suction rod conveyor
      • 51 Rod assembly unit
      • 53 Tobacco guide wall
    • 60, 60′ Vibration element
    • 71, 71′ Flap
      • 73 Rotational axis
    • 80, 80′ Tobacco supply
    • 81, 81′ Tobacco separation chamber
      • 91 Conveyor direction