Title:
Embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides an embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus which is devised so that the molding of the embossed carrier tape and the sealing of electronic parts can be efficiently performed. An embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus is constructed by installing, on a continuous conveying path for a thermoplastic resin tape 10, [i] a molding part heating means 110 which heats and softens the molding parts, [ii] a molding means 130 which positions the above-mentioned heated parts in a mold 132, and subjects these parts to embossing-molding, [iii] a hole working means 150 which forms guide holes at specified intervals in the side portions of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape 10, [iv] a product insertion stage 210 which places products 20 in the recesses 12 formed by the aforementioned embossing-molding, [v] a covering tape supply means 230 which supplies a covering tape 30 to the upper surface of the recesses 12 formed by the above-mentioned embossing-molding of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape 10, and [vi] a tape thermal-bonding means 250 which thermally bonds the above-mentioned covering tape 30 to the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape 10 at the peripheral edges of the above-mentioned recesses 12.



Inventors:
Nakamura, Yoshio (Yokohama, JP)
Umeda, Haruo (Chiba, JP)
Xiao, Li (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
09/910393
Publication Date:
08/01/2002
Filing Date:
07/20/2001
Assignee:
NAKAMURA YOSHIO
UMEDA HARUO
XIAO LI
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B9/04; B65B15/04; B65B47/02; B65B47/08; B65D85/86; H05K13/00; H05K13/02; (IPC1-7): B65B47/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CORCORAN, GLADYS JOSEFINA PIA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tyco Technology Resources (Wilmington, DE, US)
Claims:

I/We claim:



1. An embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus comprising: a continuous conveying path for a thermoplastic resin tape having, a molding part heating means which heats and softens molding parts, a molding means which positions the heated molding parts in a mold and subjects these parts to embossing-molding to form recesses therein, a hole working means which forms guide holes at specified intervals in side portions of the thermoplastic resin tape, a product insertion stage which places products in the recesses formed by the embossing-molding, a covering tape supply means which supplies a covering tape to an upper surface of the recesses formed by the embossing-molding, and a tape thermal-bonding means which thermally bonds the covering tape to the thermoplastic resin tape at edges of the recesses.

2. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the molding means has a mold which has an outer frame block that has a receiving part that is C-shaped, an inner frame block that is assembled with the outer frame block, and an insert which is sandwiched between the outer frame block and inner frame block.

3. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein a pressurized gas delivery means is provided which presses the heated and softened molding parts of the thermoplastic resin tape into the mold.

4. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the conveying path is equipped with guide rails which are disposed on both sides so that guide grooves that match the width of the thermoplastic resin tape are formed, and rotating teeth which engage with the guide holes formed by the hole working means, whereby the spacing of the guide rails and the rotating teeth is made variable.

5. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein the above-mentioned hole working means has a plurality of punches that are lined up at specified intervals along the sides of the thermoplastic resin tape and pilot pins which are inserted into already-formed guide holes so that the pilot pins position the thermoplastic resin tape when hole working is performed by the punches.

6. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein a tension roller is provided which is pressed against the rotating teeth, and which clamps the thermoplastic resin tape between the roller and the rotating teeth.

7. The embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus as recited in claim 6 wherein a means is provided which releases the pressing contact of the tension roller during the hole working performed by the punches and pilot pins.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to a molding and sealing apparatus which forms an embossed carrier tape, places and seals electronic parts, such as connectors, therein and places the tape on a reel to supply the electronic parts to automated assembly machines, etc.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

[0002] Embossed carrier tapes have periodically spaced recesses that accommodate electronic parts, such as connectors, at specified intervals along the direction of length of a tape. The tapes also have guide holes formed in the edge portion of the tape on one or both sides used to convey the tape as needed. In the case of such embossed carrier tapes, electronic parts are placed in a sealed state by inserting the electronic parts into the above-mentioned recesses, covering the top ends of the recesses with a covering tape and heat-sealing the covering tape. The tape in which such electronic parts have thus been sealed is taken up on a reel, and used to supply the electronic parts to an automated assembly machine, etc.

[0003] Conventionally, in the molding of such embossed carrier tapes and the sealing of the electronic parts, a molding apparatus which manufactures the embossed carrier tape by the embossing-molding of a thermoplastic resin tape, and a separate thermal bonding apparatus which inserts electronic parts into the manufactured embossed carrier tape and thermally bonds a covering tape, are respectively used. These respective operations are performed separately.

[0004] However, in the art described above, after the embossed carrier tape has been molded, it is necessary to take the tape up on a reel, transport the reel to another location, dereel the tape, insert electronic parts into the embossed carrier tape, thermally bond the covering tape, and then again take the embossed carrier tape up on a reel. Accordingly, a considerable amount of machinery installation space, operating space and labour is required. Accordingly, it would be beneficial to provide an embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus in which the molding of the embossed carrier tape and the sealing of electronic parts can be efficiently performed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In order to achieve the above-mentioned object, the present invention provides an embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus which has, on a continuous conveying path for a thermoplastic resin tape, [i] a molding part heating means which heats and softens the molding parts, [ii] a molding means which positions the above-mentioned heated parts in a mold and subjects these parts to embossing-molding, [iii] a hole working means which forms guide holes at specified intervals in the side portions of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape, [iv] a product insertion stage which places products in the recesses formed by the aforementioned embossing-molding, [v] a covering tape supply means which supplies a covering tape to the upper surface of the recesses formed by the above-mentioned embossing-molding of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape, and [vi] a tape thermal-bonding means which thermally bonds the above-mentioned covering tape to the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape at the peripheral edges of the above-mentioned recesses.

[0006] In the present invention, when the thermoplastic resin tape is moved along the continuous conveying path, the molding parts are first heated and softened by the molding part heating means. Next, the heated and softened parts are pressed into the mold by the molding means, so that embossing-molding is performed. Furthermore, guide holes are formed by the hole working means at specified intervals in the side parts of the thermoplastic resin tape. Next, products are inserted into the embossing-molded recesses by the product insertion stage and a covering tape is supplied to the upper surfaces of the recesses by the covering tape supply means. The covering tape is thermally bonded to the thermoplastic resin tape by the tape thermal-bonding means, so that the products inserted into the recesses are sealed inside the recesses. The embossed carrier tape containing products thus obtained can then be appropriately taken up on a reel., etc.

[0007] In one embodiment of the present invention, the above-mentioned molding means is constructed from [a] a mold which has [i] an outer frame block that has a receiving part that is C-shaped, [ii] an inner frame block that is assembled with the outer frame block, and [iii] an insert which is sandwiched between the outer frame block and inner frame block, and [b] a pressurized gas delivery means which presses the above-mentioned heated and softened portions of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape into the above-mentioned mold. As the mold is constructed from an outer frame block, an inner frame block and an insert, working or forming the material is easily accomplished even in the case of complicated shapes. Furthermore, various shapes can be handled merely by replacing parts.

[0008] In another embodiment of the present invention, the conveying path is equipped with guide rails which are disposed on both sides so that guide grooves that match the width of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape are formed. Rotating teeth which engage with the guide holes formed by the hole working means, and the spacing of the guide rails is made variable. This allows thermoplastic resin tapes of various widths to be accommodated merely by altering the spacing of the guide rails and rotating teeth.

[0009] In another embodiment of the present invention, the hole working means has a plurality of punches that are lined up at specified intervals along the sides of the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape, and pilot pins which are inserted into already-formed guide holes whereby the pilot pins position the above-mentioned thermoplastic resin tape when hole working is performed by the above-mentioned punches. A tension roller is provided which is pressed against the rotating teeth and which clamps the thermoplastic resin tape between the roller and the rotating teeth. A means is also provided which releases the pressing contact of the tension roller during the hole working performed by the punches and pilot pins. The pressing contact of the aforementioned tension roller can be released during hole working by means of the punches and pilot pins. In this state, the pilot pins can be inserted into guide holes that have already been formed, so that the thermoplastic resin tape is positioned and holes can be formed by means of the punches. Specifically, as a result of the release of the pressing contact of the above-mentioned tension roller, movement of the thermoplastic resin tape becomes possible. Positional deviation can be corrected by inserting the pilot pins into guide holes that have already been formed, so that the formation of holes by means of the punches can be performed in accurate positions.

[0010] In the present invention, the embossing-molding of the thermoplastic resin tape and the sealing of products such as electronic parts, etc., can be performed continuously, while the thermoplastic resin tape is caused to move along a continuous conveying path. As a result, the installation space and working space required for the apparatus can be reduced, the working efficiency can be increased, and power can be saved.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a schematic structural diagram which illustrates a first embodiment of the embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus of the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 2 is an overall front view of the same apparatus.

[0013] FIG. 3 is a partial enlarged front view which shows the molding apparatus of the same apparatus.

[0014] FIG. 4 is a left-side view of the same molding apparatus.

[0015] FIG. 5 shows partial enlarged sectional views which illustrate the molding part heating means and molding means of the same molding apparatus.

[0016] FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view which shows one example of the mold used in the same molding apparatus.

[0017] FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view which shows another example of the mold used in the same molding apparatus.

[0018] FIG. 8 is a sectional view which illustrates the operation of the hole working means in the same molding apparatus.

[0019] FIG. 9 is a sectional view which illustrates the method used to alter the tape guide in the same molding apparatus.

[0020] FIG. 10 is a process diagram of the embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 11 is a partial enlarged explanatory diagram which illustrates the relationship between the pilot pins and the punches in the above-mentioned molding apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0022] As is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus of the present invention has a continuous conveying path for a thermoplastic resin tape 10 which is pulled out from a first reel 101. A molding apparatus 100 consisting of a molding part heating means 110, a molding means 130 and a hole working means 150, and a sealing apparatus 200 consisting of a product insertion stage 210, a covering tape supply means 230 and a tape thermal-bonding means 250, are positioned along this conveying path.

[0023] Referring to both FIGS. 3 and 4, the molding apparatus 100 has a conveying path 102 for the thermoplastic resin tape 10. The molding part heating means 110 has heaters 111 and 112 which are disposed above and below the conveying path 102. The respective heaters 111 and 112 are caused to perform an opening-and-closing action by a first air cylinder 113 and a second air cylinder 114 so that these heaters 111 and 112 clamp the thermoplastic resin tape 10.

[0024] As is shown in FIGS. 5(a) and 5(b), the heaters 111 and 112 are formed in blocks 115 and 116, and these respective blocks 115 and 116 contain heat-radiating bodies 117 and 118. Furthermore, thermoplastic resin tape 10 is clamped by leading edge parts 119 and 120 which have a rectangular shape as seen in a plan view, so that a rectangular region is heated and softened.

[0025] The molding means 130 is constructed from a pressurized gas delivery means 131 which is disposed above, and a mold 132 which is disposed below, so that the conveying path 102 of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is clamped between these parts. The pressurized gas delivery means 131 consists of a compressed air supply pipe 133 and a pressure-applying nozzle 134 to which this supply pipe 133 is connected. The pressure-applying nozzle 134 has a rectangular opening part 135. Furthermore, the pressure-applying nozzle 134 is supported via a screw 137 on a bracket 136 that is connected to the frame, so that the height of the pressure-applying nozzle 134 can be adjusted.

[0026] The mold 132 has a mold main body 143 which is held in a block 139 that can be raised and lowered by means of a third air cylinder 138. Referring also FIG. 6, the mold main body 143 is constructed from an outer frame block 140 which has a receiving part that is C-shaped as seen in a plan view, an inner frame block 141 which is assembled with the outer frame block 140, and an insert 142 which is clamped between the outer frame block 140 and inner frame block 141. In this example, a rectangular frame is formed by the outer frame block 140 and the inner frame block 141. The upper surface of the insert 142 is disposed in the bottom part of the rectangular frame, and a cut-out part 144 is formed in the upper surface of the insert 142.

[0027] Accordingly, when the rectangular region that has been heated and softened by the molding part heating means 110 is disposed above the mold 132, the mold 132 is raised by the third air cylinder 138, so that the mold 132 contacts the undersurface of the thermoplastic resin tape 10. Meanwhile, the pressure-applying nozzle 134 is disposed on the upper surface of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 facing the mold 132. In this state, compressed air is fed in from the pressure-applying nozzle 134, so that the heated and softened rectangular region of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is pressed into the recess of the mold 132, thus causing embossing-molding to be performed. The recess 12 thus formed constitutes an accommodating part for electronic parts, etc., (described later). Furthermore, in a case where the mold main body 143 shown in FIG. 6 is used, a small recess 13 which is further recessed in the bottom surface of the recess 12 is formed by the cut-out part 144 formed in the upper surface of the insert 142.

[0028] Another example of the mold main body is shown in FIG. 7. As in the above-mentioned example, this mold main body 143a is constructed from an outer frame block 140a which has a receiving part that is C-shaped as seen in a plan view, an inner frame block 141a which is assembled with this outer frame block 140a, and an insert 142a which is clamped between the outer frame block 140a and inner frame block 141a. A rectangular frame is formed by the outer frame block 140a and inner frame block 141a. The upper surface of the insert 142a is disposed in the bottom part of the rectangular frame, and a projection 145 is formed on the upper surface of the insert 142a. In a case where this mold main body 143a is used, a small projection 14 is formed on the bottom surface of the recess 12 of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 by the projection 145 of the insert 142a.

[0029] As is shown in FIG. 8, a plurality of parallel grooves 104 are formed in a table 103 at specified intervals in the direction of width. The pair of guide rails 105 that guide the thermoplastic resin tape 10 are constructed from respective receiving members 106, pressing members 107 and bolts 108 that connect these members. Furthermore, protruding strips 107a that are inserted into the above-mentioned grooves 104 are formed on the lower ends of the pressing members 107, so that the guide rails 105 are positioned by these protruding strips 107a. Guide grooves 109 through which both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 are passed are formed between the receiving members 106 and the pressing members 107. The thermoplastic resin tape 10 is conveyed with both side edges being passed through the above-mentioned guide grooves 109.

[0030] As is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the hole working means 150 has a block 152 which is raised and lowered by a fourth air cylinder 151. A plurality of punches 153 are installed on this block 152 in two rows that are separated by a specified spacing, with these punches 153 extending downward at specified intervals along the conveying direction. The tip ends of the punches 153 are directed so that they overlap the portions of the guide rails 105 in which the above-mentioned guide grooves 109 are formed, and through-holes 154 are formed in these portions.

[0031] When the block 152 is lowered by the fourth air cylinder 151, as shown in FIGS. 8(a) and 8(b), the punches 153 supported on the block 152 are lowered, and these punches 153 are inserted into the through-holes 154 of the guide rails 105, so that guide holes 11 with a fixed spacing are formed in both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 passing through the guide grooves 109 of the guide rails 105. Furthermore, it would also be possible to form these guide holes 11 in only one side edge of the tape 10.

[0032] As is shown in FIG. 11, pilot pins 158 are disposed adjacent to the punches 153 that are positioned at the leading end in the direction of advance of the thermoplastic resin tape 10. The pilot pins 158 protrude further downward than the punches 153. When the block 152 is lowered, the pilot pins 158 are inserted into guide holes that have already been formed in the thermoplastic resin tape 10 before further holes are opened by the above-mentioned punches 153, so that the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is positioned. As a result, the spacing of the guide holes 11 can be accurately set.

[0033] As is shown in FIGS. 9(a) and 9(b), changes in the width of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 can be handled merely by altering the spacing of the guide rails 105. Specifically, the spacing of the pair of guide rails 105 can be altered by changing the grooves 104 into which the projecting strips 107 on the lower ends of the pressing members 107 are inserted. As a result, the spacing of the guide grooves 109 can be altered to match the width of the thermoplastic resin tape 10. In this case, the spacing of the punches 153 of the hole working means 150 is also altered to match the through-holes 154 of the guide rails 105.

[0034] Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the product insertion stage 210 is located in a position that allows electronic parts 20 such as connectors, etc., to be manually inserted into the recesses 12 of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 one at a time. However, the insertion of these electronic parts 20 could also be accomplished by means of a universally known automated supply device.

[0035] The covering tape supply means 230 is constructed from a second reel 231 on which a covering tape 30 is wound, and a roller 231 which causes the covering tape 30 pulled out from this second reel 231 to cover the upper surface of the thermoplastic resin tape 10, so that the electronic parts 20 inserted into the recesses 12 are sealed inside these recesses 12.

[0036] A tape thermal-bonding means 250, which has a pair of heaters 251 (on the left and right) that are raised and lowered by a driving mechanism not shown in the figures, is disposed beyond the above-mentioned covering tape supply means 230. Receiving pads 252 (see FIG. 2) are disposed beneath the heater 251 on both sides of the conveying path. Both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 and covering tape 30 are clamped between the heaters 251 and receiving pads 252, so that these tapes are thermally bonded.

[0037] As is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a pair of wheels with rotating teeth 155 that engage with the guide holes 11 are disposed beneath the conveying path beyond the tape thermal-bonding means 250. A tension roller 156 that is pressed against the rotating teeth 155 is disposed above the conveying path. The tension roller 156 is pivot-supported on the tip end of an arm 159 that is supported by a supporting shaft 157. The tension roller 156 is constantly pressed against the rotating teeth 155 by a spring (not shown in the figures) that drives the arm 159 downward.

[0038] Accordingly, the embossed carrier tape 40 containing electronic parts sealed therein, is intermittently fed out at a specified speed as a result of the pair of wheels with rotating teeth 155 that engage with the guide holes 11.

[0039] An air cylinder 160 is disposed beneath the arm 159, and is positioned so that the operating rod 161 of this air cylinder 160 contacts the arm 159. When the block 152 of the hole working means 150 is lowered, the air cylinder 160 is actuated so that the rod 161 is extended, thus pushing the arm 159 upward so that the tension roller 156 is removed from the rotating teeth 155. As a result, the embossed carrier tape 40 is allowed to move slightly in the forward-rearward direction within the range of the spacing of the rotating teeth 155 and the guide holes 11, so that positional correction by the pilot pins 158 is not hindered. In cases where the width of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is changed, it is also necessary to change the spacing of the rotating teeth 155 so that the teeth will engage with the guide holes 11 of the thermoplastic resin tape 10.

[0040] A third reel 270 on which the embossed carrier tape 40 that has been sealed by the covering tape 30 is taken up is disposed beyond the rotating teeth 155 and tension roller 156. This third reel 270 is caused to rotate in accordance with the conveying speed of the embossed carrier tape 40 by a driving mechanism not shown in the figures.

[0041] Tapes consisting of thermoplastic resin tape materials such as polystyrenes, polyesters, polyvinyl chlorides or acrylonitrile, etc., are used as the thermoplastic resin tape 10 and covering tape 30. Moreover, resin tapes containing carbon may be used as an anti-static measure.

[0042] Next, the operation of this embossed carrier tape molding and sealing apparatus will be described with reference also being made to the flow chart for the same apparatus shown in FIG. 10. First, the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is pulled out from the first reel 101, and is passed through the guide grooves 109 of the guide rails 105. Guide holes 11 are formed beforehand in a portion of the tape 10 with a specified length located at the tip end of the tape 10 by operating the guide hole working means 150, and the rotating teeth 155 are engaged with these guide holes 11 formed in the tip end portions. When the apparatus is operated in this state, the rotating teeth 155 rotate intermittently, so that the tape 10 is conveyed. Then, the tape 10 is first clamped between the upper and lower heaters 111 and 112 of the molding part heating means 110, so that a rectangular region that is to be subjected to embossing is heated and softened.

[0043] Next, when the above-mentioned heated and softened region moves into the molding means 130, the mold 132 rises and contacts the undersurface of the tape, and compressed air is fed in the direction of the mold 132 from the pressure-applying nozzle 134 of the pressurized gas delivery means 131. As a result, the heated and softened region of the tape 10 is pushed into the interior of the mold 132, so that a recess 12 is formed.

[0044] The tape 10 thus subjected to embossing-molding is then fed into the guide hole working means 150. The punches 153 are lowered as a unit with the block 152 by the fourth air cylinder 151, and these punches 153 are inserted into the through-holes 154 of the guide rails 105, so that guide holes 11 with a fixed spacing are formed in both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 passing through the guide grooves 109. Prior to this hole opening work, the pilot pins 158 are inserted into guide holes 11 that have already been formed, so that the thermoplastic resin tape 10 is positioned. These guide holes 11 engage with the rotating teeth 155 that are disposed beyond the tape thermal-bonding means 250, and provide a driving force that pulls out the tape 10.

[0045] The tape 10 that has thus been embossing-molded is fed “as is” into the sealing apparatus 200. In the sealing apparatus 200, electronic parts 20 are first inserted one at a time into the recesses 12 in the product insertion stage 210. Next, the above-mentioned recesses 12 are covered from above with the covering tape 30 by the covering tape supply device 230. As a result, the electronic parts 20 are disposed inside the recesses 12, and the upper surfaces of these electronic parts are covered by the covering tape 30.

[0046] Then, in the tape thermal-bonding means 250, the heaters 251 are pressed against both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 and covering tape 30, so that both side edges of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 and covering tape 30 are thermally bonded to each other. As a result, the electronic parts 20 are disposed inside the recesses 12 of the tape 10, and sealed by the covering tape 30. The embossed carrier tape 40 containing electronic parts 20 that has thus been manufactured is taken up on the third reel 270.

[0047] Accordingly, in the present apparatus, the molding of the thermoplastic resin tape 10 and the sealing of the electronic parts 20 can be performed continuously, so that the working efficiency is extremely good. Furthermore, compared to a case in which the above-mentioned operations are performed separately, the overall apparatus is compact, so that the amount of installation space and working space required for the apparatus can be reduced.