Title:
Apparatus for packaging a product in a box-shaped container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus (10) for packaging a product, in particular for packaging a product in pieces, preferably an edible product, in a box-shaped container (12) that comprises at least one tab to be folded. The apparatus comprises means for feeding the box-shaped container and means (82) for folding a respective tab of the box-shaped container, the means that fold the tab being separate from the means that feed the box-shaped container.



Inventors:
Zaniboni, Carlo (Castenaso, IT)
Application Number:
10/927002
Publication Date:
04/28/2005
Filing Date:
08/27/2004
Assignee:
ZANIBONI CARLO
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B5/06; B65B7/26; B65B25/00; B65B43/52; B65D85/30; (IPC1-7): B65D85/30
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080210579Exothermic Condom PackagingSeptember, 2008Mallory
20010019062Straw attachable to drink lid or containerSeptember, 2001Kalagian
20090218242Curved Cigarette Pack Flap Formation on Curved SurfacesSeptember, 2009Holford
20030116454Lockable storage container for recorded mediaJune, 2003Marsilio et al.
20030140532Package with advertisement print and a method of producing sameJuly, 2003Deuerling
20080023344Collectable display panel and data storage deviceJanuary, 2008Macor
20050045519Integrated pill organizing and dividing unitMarch, 2005Hirsch
20080105594Merchandise Packaging and displayMay, 2008Luberto
20050087460Method for packing cigarettes and cigarette packagingApril, 2005Bruhn et al.
20060157356Greeting deviceJuly, 2006Aylward
20090114555CASE FOR ACCOMMODATING CAMERAMay, 2009WU et al.



Primary Examiner:
DESAI, HEMANT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YOUNG & THOMPSON (209 Madison Street Suite 500, Alexandria, VA, 22314, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for packaging a product, in particular an edible product and, preferably, a product in pieces, in a box-shaped container which comprises at least one tab to be folded; the apparatus comprising means for feeding the box-shaped container body and means for folding a respective tab, wherein the means for folding the tab are separate from the means that transport the box-shaped container body.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the box-shaped container comprises a container body and a lid.

3. The machine according to claim 1, wherein the means for feeding the box-shaped container comprise means for transporting the container and means that feed the means that transport the box-shaped container.

4. The apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the means for transporting the box-shaped container comprise a plurality of elements for transporting a respective box-shaped container.

5. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein each transporting element presents a rear surface for supporting a respective box-shaped container.

6. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the transporting element comprises an upper transversal portion.

7. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein, extending from the transversal portion, there a first and a second arm that form, with their inside surfaces, means for laterally supporting the box-shaped container.

8. The apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the means for feeding the transporting means comprise at least one drive chain extending along a defined feed path.

9. The apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the means for feeding the transporting means comprise a first and a second drive chain extending along a defined feed path.

10. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the folding means fold both the side tabs of the container lid.

11. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the folding means fold the upper panel of the container lid.

12. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the lid tab folding means comprise a tab engagement element that moves between a disengaged position and a position where it engages with and folds the tabs.

13. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the engagement and folding element comprises an arm for engaging a respective tab.

14. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the engagement and folding element comprises a first and a second arm for engaging a respective tab.

15. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the folding element is a portal frame shaped element.

16. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the folding element has a surface for engaging the panel that forms the upper wall of the box-shaped container.

17. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the surface for engaging the panel that forms the upper wall of the box-shaped container is the underside of the folding element.

18. The apparatus according to claim 1, comprising means for moving the folding means between a disengaged position and a position where they engage with and fold the tabs.

19. The apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the movement means cause the folding element to perform a translational working movement.

20. The apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the movement means cause the folding element to move in a vertical direction.

21. The apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the movement means cause the folding element to move from the top down.

22. The apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the movement means comprise guide means.

23. The apparatus according to claim 22, wherein the guide means comprise at least one slide rod mounted on supporting means connected to the feed means.

24. The apparatus according to claim 22, wherein the guide means comprise a first and a second rod parallel with each other.

25. The apparatus according to claim 24, wherein the first and second rods are aligned with each other in the longitudinal feed direction.

26. The apparatus according to claim 1, comprising means for driving the folding means.

27. The apparatus according to claim 26, wherein the drive means consist of a cam and a roller connected to the folding element.

28. The machine according to claim 1, wherein the means for folding the tab comprise means for feeding the means that engage with and fold the box-shaped container.

29. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the feed means extend along a defined feed path.

30. The apparatus according to claim 29, wherein the feed path of the folding means extends above the path of the transporting means.

31. The apparatus according to claim 29, wherein the feed path of the folding means presents at least one working section running parallel with the feed path of the means that transport the box-shaped container.

32. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the folding means run along a path that diverges from the corresponding feed path of the container transporting means.

33. The apparatus according to claim 32, wherein the path of the means for feeding the folding means is shorter than the path of the means for transporting the box-shaped container.

34. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the means for feeding the folding means comprise at least one drive chain extending along a defined feed path.

35. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the means for feeding the folding means comprise a first and a second drive chain.

36. The apparatus according to claim 1, comprising means for connecting the folding means to the means that transport the box-shaped container.

37. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means consist of means for reciprocally coupling the folding means to the means for transporting the box-shaped container.

38. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means comprise first engagement means and second engagement means.

39. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means comprise an engagement pin.

40. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means extend from the plate of the element that supports the box-shaped container.

41. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means are mounted on a block protruding from the upper edge of the element that supports the box-shaped container.

42. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means extend towards the front.

43. The apparatus according to claim 1, comprising a slot made in the crosspiece of the transporting means.

44. The apparatus according to claim 39, wherein a slot is made under the engagement pin in order to receive the connecting means during engagement.

45. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the connecting means comprise a forked element that engages with the pin.

46. The apparatus according to claim 45, wherein the forked element extends from the rear plate of the folding element.

47. The apparatus according to claim 45, wherein the forked element extends downwardly.

48. The apparatus according to claim 39, wherein the engagement pin provides means for guiding the vertical movement of the folding means.

49. The apparatus according to claim 39, wherein the means for connecting the folding means to the means for transporting the box-shaped container are positioned centrally relative to the means for transporting and for folding the box-shaped container.

50. The apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the means for connecting the folding means to the means for transporting the box-shaped container are positioned behind the box-shaped container.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to an apparatus for packaging a product, in particular an edible product in pieces, in a box-shaped container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Known box-shaped containers for edible products such as sweets, coated chewing gum and the like include containers made from carton blanks and each comprising a box-shaped container body, with flat rectangular base and sides, and a lid, also box-shaped, made by folding corresponding portions of the carton blank.

Known apparatuses for making box-shaped containers of this type comprise means for feeding the box-shaped body and means for folding the tabs to form the lid, where these folding means consist of an element that is rotatably mounted on, and connected to, the means for transporting the box-shaped body by a hinge-like connection.

The element for folding the lid tabs is driven by a cam through a roller that is suitably connected to the folding element and where the cam extends in a straight line next to the means that transport the box-shaped body and just above the means for driving the means that transport the box-shaped body itself.

In these prior art apparatuses, however, the means for transporting the box-shaped body and the lid folding element must be treated as a single part for maintenance and assembly purposes. Indeed, the two parts are permanently connected and therefore, to substitute a faulty folding element, the corresponding part that supports the box-shaped body must also be removed from the machine.

Another disadvantage of prior art apparatuses of this kind is that the system for transporting and folding the container is too compact, requiring the drive cams to operate in extremely confined spaces. As a result, maintenance and assembly work on the apparatus can be very awkward.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore provided an apparatus for packaging a product, in particular an edible product and, preferably, a product in pieces, in a box-shaped container, the container comprising at least one tab to be folded; the apparatus comprises means for feeding the box-shaped body and means for folding a respective tab, the means that fold the tab being separate from the means that transporting the box-shaped body.

This provides a folding system where maintenance or other operations carried out on the parts of the transporting system do not involve disassembling the folding means above them and vice versa.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The technical characteristics of the advantageous aspects of the apparatus according to the invention are clearly described in the claims below and the advantages are more apparent from the detailed description which follows, with reference to the accompanying drawings which illustrate a preferred embodiment of the invention provided merely by way of example without restricting the scope of the inventive concept, and in which:

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic perspective views of the box-shaped container before and after the lid has been formed;

FIG. 2 is a schematic top view of a first preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross sectional view, through line III-III in FIG. 2, of the first preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective view of the tab folding means in the first preferred embodiment of the apparatus;

FIG. 5 is a schematic perspective view showing the tab folding means at work.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Illustrated in the accompanying drawings is an apparatus 10 for packaging a product, in particular a product in pieces and preferably an edible product, in a box-shaped container 12.

Preferably, but without thereby restricting the scope of the invention, the products packaged are sweets or dragées, such as, for example, coated chewing gum.

As illustrated, in particular in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the box-shaped container comprises an open-top, box-shaped container body 14 with flat rectangular base and sides and comprising a bottom wall 16, a front wall 18, a rear wall 20, and a first and a second small side wall 22 and 24.

The box-shaped container also comprises a lid 26, extending from the container body 14, and joined to the back of the latter by a respective fold line or crease. The lid 14 in turn comprises an upper wall or panel 28, a front wall 30 extending from the upper wall 28, and a first and a second side tab 32 and 34. More specifically, the lid is of the type known in the jargon of the trade as a “flip top” lid. In this particular instance, when the lid is shut, it is held to the front wall of the container lid by suitable portions 35 and 37 extending from the side tabs 32 and 34 and constituting snap shut teeth, each engaging with a respective snap shut retaining tooth 39 protruding from the front wall of the container body 14.

As illustrated, this preferred embodiment of the apparatus comprises suitable means for feeding the box-shaped body along a defined path.

More specifically, as shown in particular in FIGS. 2 to 5, the means for feeding the box-shaped bodies comprise means which transport the containers and which consist of a plurality elements 50 for transporting a respective container 12.

Each of the container transporting elements consists of a supporting plate 51, extending vertically, and of a first transversal portion 52 and second transversal portion 54, respectively upper and lower, which extend horizontally from the front of the supporting plate 51 and form respective rear supporting surfaces 52a, 54a for the container 12.

Extending from the first and second transversal portions 52, 54, there are first arms 56 and 60, and second arms 58 and 62 that form, with their inside surfaces, means for laterally supporting the box-shaped container and retaining it in a longitudinal direction.

As illustrated, means are also provided for supporting the bottom of the container and to facilitate its sliding motion, these means being embodied by a rail or thin sheet 64 that is mounted on the frame of the apparatus and extends in the direction of box-shaped container 12 feed.

There are also means for retaining the front of the container and to facilitate its sliding motion, these means being embodied by a guide or long sheet 66 that is also mounted on the frame of the apparatus and extends in the container feed direction.

Means are also provided for driving the box-shaped container transporting means.

The means for driving the transporting means comprise a first and a second drive chain 68 and 70, or similar means, extending in parallel with each other along a defined container feed path.

These chains or drive means are trained around a first and a second sprocket 72 and 74 constituting a first pair of drive sprockets, which are vertically spaced and mounted on a single shaft 75.

The shaft 75 is powered at its bottom end by a pulley 77 which is driven, through a respective belt, by a suitable motor or other drive means, not illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

At their other ends, on the opposite side of the machine, the chains 68, 70 are trained around a third and a fourth sprocket 78 and 80 constituting a second pair of driven sprockets, also vertically spaced and mounted on a single shaft 81.

These sprockets are large in diameter and describe a specific path for the means that transport the box-shaped bodies.

Means 82 are also provided for folding a respective tab, or a plurality of tabs for forming the lid of the container.

Advantageously, the tab folding means 82 are separate from the means that transport the container. This provides a folding system where maintenance or other operations carried out on the parts of the transporting system do not involve disassembling the folding means above them and vice versa.

More specifically, as illustrated, the folding means vertically fold both the side tabs of the lid 26 of the box-shaped container 12, and also horizontally fold the upper panel 28 of the container and the panel 30—forming the front wall of the lid—which extends from the panel 28, as explained in more detail below.

Means are also provided for driving the container engagement and folding means.

The means for driving the folding means run along a respective feed path which is located above the path of the means that transport the container 12 and which presents at least one working section running parallel with the feed path of the means that transport the container 12, and a path section that diverges from the corresponding feed path section of the box transporting means.

In practice, to save space, the feed paths of the lid folding means and of the container transporting means are parallel only where necessary, that is to say, only along the sections where the tabs have to be folded.

In particular, the path of the folding means is shorter than that of the means that transport the container 12.

There are therefore less elements for folding the lid than there are elements for transporting the box-shaped containers 12, which means a saving in terms of number of components. Obviously, the spacing and number of folding elements must be such as to fully match the respective elements that transport the container.

As illustrated, the means for driving the folding means comprise a first and a second drive chain 102 and 104, or similar drive means, extending in parallel along a feed path defined by a first and a second sprocket 101 and 103 constituting a first pair of drive sprockets, which are vertically spaced and mounted on a single power-driven shaft 105.

This feed path is also defined by a third and a fourth sprocket 108 and 109 constituting a second pair of driven sprockets, also vertically spaced and mounted on a single shaft 111.

More specifically, the lid tab folding means comprise, for each container or lid, a respective element 82 for engaging with the tabs and being mobile between a raised position where it is clear of the lid and a lowered position where it engages with and folds the tabs downwards.

The engagement and folding element 82 comprises a first and a second arm 84 and 86 which extend downwardly from a crosspiece 83 and comprise a respective transversal inside surface 84a, 86a for engaging a respective side tab 28, 30.

More specifically, the folding element is in the form of a portal frame attached to, and extending from the front of, a rear wall 85 of the engagement element 82.

As illustrated, the crosspiece 83 of the folding element forms a lower surface or underside 88 for engaging the panel that forms the upper wall of the container 12.

Means are also provided for guiding the engagement and folding means in a vertical direction between the disengaged position and the position where they engage with and fold the lid tabs.

These guide means cause the folding element to perform a vertical translational working movement from the top down and a return movement from the bottom up and comprise vertical guides consisting of a first and a second vertical rod 89 and 91 running parallel and aligned with each other in the longitudinal feed direction.

The guide rods 89, 91 are mounted on a plate 93, or similar supporting means, attached to the feed means or chains. The portal frame folding element 83, 84, 86 is mounted at the front and bottom of another plate 94 that also runs on the guides 89, 91.

Means are provided for driving the folding means, these drive means consisting of a cam 95 and a follower roller 97 attached to the folding element and, more specifically, to the plate 94 on which the folding element is mounted.

Coupling means are also provided for connecting the folding means to the box-shaped container 12 transporting means during feed, these coupling means consisting of advantageous means of reciprocal engagement and retention between the folding means and the container transporting means.

More specifically, these means of connection during feed comprise first engagement means that comprise an engagement pin 90 which extends from the front of the rear plate 51 of the element that supports the container 12 and which is supported by a block 92 protruding from the upper edge of the element that supports the container 12.

The coupling means also comprise second engagement means that comprise a forked element 89 extending downwardly from the rear wall of the folding element.

The fork 89 can be engaged with the pin 90 which defines means for guiding the vertical movement of the folding means. These coupling and vertical guide means are positioned centrally behind the folding area in such a way as to hold the folding means and the container 12 transporting means together during their relative motion without occupying an excessive amount of space, especially along the longitudinal sides or edges of the transporting element.

The coupling means described above permit an easy and secure connection between the folding element and the container 12 transporting element.

The fork 89, acting in conjunction with the pin 90, makes it possible to securely couple the two devices that form the two parts of the container along the longitudinal feed direction.

In the part of the transversal portion 52 below the pin 90, there is a slot 114 shaped to match the fork 89 and designed to receive the latter as it moves down, thereby constituting advantageous means of retention in a direction transversal to the feed direction.

The apparatus according to the invention further comprises means for placing the box-shaped container 12 on the transporting element, means for filling the box-shaped container 12 with the product to be packaged, means for gluing the box-shaped container 120, and means for folding the other tabs of the box-shaped container 12. These means are not illustrated in detail in the accompanying drawings and may be made in any suitable manner well within the knowledge of an expert in the trade.

Below is a brief description of the operation of the device for folding the container lid panels according to the present invention. Under the action of suitably shaped cam means 95, the upper folding element 82 begins moving down, starting from point A illustrated in FIG. 2 and, during its downward movement, as illustrated in particular in FIG. 5, folds the lid side tabs and the panel or tab that will form the upper wall of the box-shaped container 12 lid until they are in the vertical and horizontal positions, respectively. After performing this folding action, the folding element moves back up, starting from point C, until it reaches its highest position, at point D, illustrated in FIG. 2.

The apparatus according to the present invention provides ample room for maintenance and assembly personnel to work in.

Moreover, in another embodiment, the folding element might be made to mesh with the respective element that transports the container 12 at the point of tangency between the feed paths of the folding means and of the transporting means. This avoids the risk of misalignment between the folding element and the transporting element when the former begins its downward movement.

The invention can be modified and adapted in several ways without thereby departing from the scope of the inventive concept.

Moreover, all the details of the invention may be substituted by technically equivalent elements.