Title:
Adjustable diameter spindle uncoiler apparatus for uncoiling wound sheet metal webs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An uncoiler apparatus for uncoiling coils of wound sheet metal web material is provided with a spindle having an adjustable diameter. An inflatable member is wound about the spindle, and covered with a thin expansible coil. Upon positioning of a coil of wound sheet metal web material over the spindle, the inflatable member is inflated, and the expansible coil expands to engage the inner surface of the inner diameter of the coil of wound sheet metal web material. In an embodiment of the invention, the uncoiler apparatus is capable of being moved, in the direction of the axis of the spindle, and structures are provided for resisting static and dynamic pivoting moments imposed on the uncoiler by the weight and rotational mass inertia (acceleration/deceleration) of the coil.



Inventors:
Marecki, Tadeusz (Chicago, IL, US)
Braner, Wanda (Jupiter, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/975322
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
10/18/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H19/12
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060289690Bait casting reel and methodDecember, 2006Marsh et al.
20030189127Axially fastened, illuminated, moisture resistant, fixture standoffOctober, 2003Arendt et al.
20160213204Toilet Paper Sheets Having Alternating Sidewall IndentationsJuly, 2016Morris
20090114754TUBE CORES FOR PACKAGING ELASTOMERIC FILAMENTSMay, 2009Hopstaken
20070001046Wire winding device with decorating sheetJanuary, 2007Wu
20030075632Bait casting reelApril, 2003Myojo
20040135021CaseJuly, 2004Ishihara
20080223975REVERSIBLE SURFACE WINDERSeptember, 2008Planeta et al.
20130279990PLATFORM WITH HOSE REELOctober, 2013Nygaard
20140299706STACKABLE PALLET SYSTEM HAVING FOLDABLE END BOARDSOctober, 2014Disabantonio III
20050161552Apparatus and method for winding strips of material not intended for processingJuly, 2005Grothaus et al.



Primary Examiner:
CAMPOS, JR, JUAN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Greenberg Traurig, LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for supporting, handling and uncoiling at least one coil of wound sheet metal web material, comprising: a base; a frame, cooperatively associated with the base; and a spindle structure, rotatably retractably supported by the frame, and operably configured to receive, and grippingly and rotatably support a coil of wound sheet metal web material, the spindle structure including a spindle shaft, having an inner portion rotatably mounted in the frame, and an outer portion configured to receive and support a coil of wound sheet metal web material, the outer portion including a coil gripping mechanism, with an inflatable hose helically wrapped around the spindle shaft, and a resilient expansible gripping member, surrounding the hose, and wrapping around the spindle shaft for an arc length of greater than one circumference of the spindle shaft; the coil gripping mechanism being operably configured so that upon positioning of a coil of wound sheet metal web material over the outer portion of the spindle shaft, inflation of the hose causes expansion of the resilient expansible gripping member to grippingly bear against an inner diameter of the positioned coil of wound sheet metal web material.

2. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the frame is configured for reciprocating lateral movement, parallel to a longitudinal axis of the spindle shaft, relative to the base.

3. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the uncoiler apparatus further comprises a roller support mechanism operably disposed between the base and the frame.

4. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the roller support mechanism comprises: at least one inboard support plate disposed on the base, proximate an innermost end of the spindle shaft; at least one outboard support plate disposed on the base, proximate a medial region of the spindle shaft; at least one inboard support plate disposed on the frame, proximate an innermost end of the spindle shaft, and aligned with the at least one inboard support plate on the base; at least one outboard support plate disposed on the frame, proximate a medial region of the spindle shaft, and aligned with the at least one outboard support plate on the base; and at least one roller member disposed between each of the aligned at least one inboard base and frame support plates, and the aligned at least one outboard base and support frames, respectively.

5. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 2, further comprising a propulsion mechanism for selectively moving the frame relative to the base.

6. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising a hydraulic motor/pump for providing driving/braking torque to the spindle shaft.

7. The uncoiler apparatus according to the claim 1 wherein the spindle shaft is rotatably supported, at a medial position there along, by a spindle shaft center bearing set.

8. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the spindle shaft center bearing set comprises at least three cam follower members disposed at circumferentially spaced apart locations about the spindle shaft, and mounted on eccentric adjustment shafts.

9. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: a passageway extending through the spindle shaft, and operably connected to an end of the inflatable hose proximate an outermost end of the spindle shaft; a rotatable fitting, disposed on an innermost end of the spindle shaft, in communication with the passageway; a selectively actuable source of pressurized fluid/air, connected to the fitting.

10. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 4, further comprising retention structures operably associated with the roller support mechanism, for resisting compression/separation forces and overturning moments imposed on the uncoiler apparatus when a coil of wound sheet metal web material is loaded onto the spindle shaft.

11. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the retention structures comprise one or more roller engagement members disposed on each of the at least one base and frame inboard support plates, wherein the one or more roller engagement members associated with the at least one frame inboard support plate extend below the at least one roller member associated therewith, and the one or more roller engagement members associated with the at least one base inboard support plate extend above the at least one roller member associated therewith, to prevent separation of the at least one base and frame inboard support plates, as a result of downwardly directed forces imposed on the spindle shaft by the weight of a coil of wound sheet metal web material placed thereon.

12. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising an adjustable hold-down mechanism, for guiding a web of sheet material, subsequent to being peeled off of a coil of wound sheet metal web material.

13. The uncoiler apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the adjustable hold-down mechanism comprises: an extensible boom disposed adjacent to the outer portion of the spindle shaft, and extending transversely to the spindle shaft; a horizontal support member, operably associated with the extensible boom, and extending parallel to the spindle shaft; and a powered contact roll, supported on the horizontal support member, configured for engaging in frictional contact with a web of sheet material, subsequent to being peeled off of a coil of wound sheet metal web material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO A “MICROFICHE APPENDIX”

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

1. The Technical Field

The present invention relates to apparatus for the handling, paying out, coiling and/or uncoiling of wound sheet metal webs and methods for uncoiling wound sheet metal webs using such apparatus.

2. The Prior Art

In order to facilitate the handling and transportation of flat strip sheet metal material, continuous sheet metal webs are typically wound into coils, after having been cast in a continuous casting process. Typically, after slitting, the metal web has a width which is several multiples of the widths of the sheet metal strips that are used in the ultimate fabrication processes to which the sheet metal strips are subjected. The individual strips, into which a whole- or half-width coil is cut, are often called “mults” in the art, in particular when the several mults are still arranged side-by-side as a unit.

When the wound metal webs are delivered to a fabricator, the metal web must be unwound before any further fabrication processes can be applied to it.

Accordingly, mechanisms have been developed for rotatably supporting a coil of wound sheet metal web material, as it is unwound and straightened, during the process of being fed to downstream fabrication devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises, at least in part, an apparatus for supporting, handling and uncoiling at least one coil of wound sheet metal web material. The uncoiler apparatus includes a base; a frame, cooperatively associated with the base; and a spindle structure, rotatably retractably supported by the frame, and operably configured to receive, and grippingly and rotatably support a coil of wound sheet metal web material.

The spindle structure may include a spindle shaft, having an inner portion rotatably mounted in the frame, and an outer portion configured to receive and support a coil of wound sheet metal web material. The outer portion of the spindle shaft may include a coil gripping mechanism, with an inflatable hose helically wrapped around the spindle shaft, and a resilient expansible gripping member, surrounding the hose, and wrapping around the spindle shaft for an arc length of greater than one circumference of the spindle shaft. The coil gripping mechanism may be operably configured so that upon positioning of a coil of wound sheet metal web material over the outer portion of the spindle shaft, inflation of the hose causes expansion of the resilient coil to grippingly bear against an inner diameter of the positioned coil of wound sheet metal web material.

The frame may be configured for reciprocating lateral movement, parallel to a longitudinal axis of the spindle shaft, relative to the base.

The uncoiler apparatus may further comprise a roller support mechanism operably disposed between the base and the frame, including front and back roller support structures, formed from interlocking plates, disposed on the stationary base and movable frame, having trapped between them rolling elements. The interlocking plates and rolling elements are arranged in such a fashion that are capable of withstanding compression and separation forces acting upon them.

The uncoiler apparatus may further comprise a propulsion mechanism for selectively moving the frame relative to the base.

A hydraulic motor/pump is, in an embodiment of the invention, provided to impart rotational force to the spindle shaft. In drive mode, the motor threads-up the coil leading edge toward the subsequent processing apparatus, and in pump mode provides the web back tension.

The spindle shaft, in an embodiment of the invention, is rotatably supported, at a medial position there along, by a spindle shaft center bearing set. The spindle shaft center bearing set, in an embodiment of the invention, comprises at least three cam follower members disposed at circumferentially spaced apart locations about the spindle shaft, and mounted on eccentric adjustment shafts.

The uncoiler apparatus may further comprise a passageway extending through the spindle shaft, and operably connected to an end of the inflatable hose proximate an outermost end of the spindle shaft. A rotatable fitting may be disposed on an innermost end of the spindle shaft, in communication with the passageway. A selectively actuable source of pressurized fluid/air may be connected to the fitting.

The uncoiler apparatus may further comprise retention structures operably associated with the roller support mechanism, for resisting the overturning moments imposed on the uncoiler apparatus when a coil of wound sheet metal web material is loaded onto the spindle shaft. The retention structures may comprise one or more roller engagement members disposed on each of the at least one base and frame inboard support plates, wherein the one or more roller engagement members associated with the at least one frame inboard support plate extend below the at least one roller member associated therewith, and the one or more roller engagement members associated with the at least one base inboard support plate extend above the at least one roller member associated therewith, to prevent separation of the at least one base and frame inboard support plates, as a result of downwardly directed forces imposed on the spindle shaft by the weight of a coil of wound sheet metal web material placed thereon.

The uncoiler apparatus may further comprise an adjustable hold-down mechanism, for guiding a web of sheet material, subsequent to being peeled off of a coil of wound sheet metal web material. The adjustable hold-down mechanism may further comprise an extensible boom disposed adjacent to the outer portion of the spindle shaft, and extending transversely to the spindle shaft. A horizontal support member may be operably associated with the extensible boom, and extending parallel to the spindle shaft. A powered contact roll may be supported on the horizontal support member and configured for engaging in frictional contact with a web of sheet material, subsequent to being peeled off of a coil of wound sheet metal web material.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of an uncoiler apparatus according to an embodiment of the invention, with the hold down apparatus omitted from the illustration.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the uncoiler apparatus of the embodiment of FIG. 1, with the hold down apparatus shown.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation of the uncoiler apparatus of the embodiment of FIG. 1, with the hold down apparatus shown.

FIG. 4 is an end elevation of the uncoiler apparatus of the embodiment of FIG. 1, with the hold down apparatus shown.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side elevation of the roller support structure at the outer end of the base, from FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the roller support structure of FIG. 4, taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation, in section, of a portion of the mandrel, showing the helically disposed hose, surrounding the outer spindle shaft, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a sectional end view of a portion of the mandrel, showing the positions of the hose and the resilient expansible gripping member, when the hose is in a deflated configuration, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of the mandrel, showing the positions of the hose and the resilient expansible gripping member, when the hose in is an inflated configuration, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a sectional elevation of the spindle, taken along line A-A of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail, a preferred embodiment with the understanding that the present disclosure should be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the embodiment so illustrated.

To the extent that any measurements or other numerical values are described herein or illustrated in the Figures, they are provided for illustrative purposes only, and the invention is not intended to be limited thereby.

Spindle apparatus 10, while presently contemplated as being suited for use in slitting, roll-forming fabrication lines, is also believed to be adaptable for use in other applications, such as cut-to-length stamping operations, etc., by those of ordinary skill in the art, without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Referring generally to FIG. 1, spindle apparatus 10 includes base 12, with base plate 13 and hollow support beams 15; and traverse mechanism 14. Traverse mechanism 14 includes roller support structure 16 and propulsion unit 24. Roller support structure 16 includes lower plates 18 and 19, corresponding upper plates 20 and 21, and rollers 22. When a coil 52 is placed on mandrel 44, the static loading is such that plates 18 and 20 are under a compressive load and serve as a pivot point, whereas plates 19 and 21 will want to pull apart from one another. Accordingly, plates 19 and 21 are provided with wraparound structures that serve to hold the two plates together and against the rollers held in between, notwithstanding the forces tending to pull them away from one another.

Roller support structure 16 is shown in further detail in FIGS. 5 and 6. As mentioned above, when a coil to be uncoiled is mounted on the mandrel, the weight of the coil will cause the uncoiler to want to pivot about roller support 14, causing plates 19 and 21 of roller support structure 16 to tend to move away from one another. To prevent this, plates 19 and 21 are provided with wraparound bars 80, 82, respectively, which are connected to plates 19, 21 by webs 84, 86, respectively. Under a “tensile” load (as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6), wraparound bars 82 pull up against rollers 22, while wraparound bars 80 pull down against rollers 22. In order to reduce the likelihood of rollers 22 being bent under the load, bars 80, 82 are arranged in a vertically overlapping arrangement, as shown in FIG. 6. When uncoiler 10 is in an unloaded configuration (i.e., no coil to be uncoiled), then roller support structure 16 will be in a compression mode. Accordingly, plates 19, 21 are provided with a number of compression bars 88, 90 are provided to transmit the direct compression load through rollers 22. Typically, the compression load (being solely the weight of the uncoiler itself) will be substantially less than the tensile load, so, typically, fewer bars 88, 90, and/or bars of lesser width, will be required. The number and dimensions of the wraparound bars and the compression bars may be varied according to the requirements of a given application, by one of ordinary skill having the present disclosure before them.

Referring back to FIG. 1 (in addition to FIGS. 5 and 6), traverse mechanism 14 in an embodiment of the invention, will be configured to permit lateral movement of mandrel 42 on the order of 6 inches, and rollers 22 may be on the order of 1 inch in diameter. These numerical values, as well as any others provided herein, are given by way of example, and in no way are intended as limitations upon the scope of the invention. In addition, stop structures, e.g., stop 92 (FIG. 92) may be positioned on wraparound bars 80 and/or 82 and/or compression bars 88 and/or 90, to prevent traverse mechanism 14 from being driven too far either inwardly or outwardly.

Propulsion unit 24 may be any suitable powered linear actuator, such as a motor driven ballscrew or pneumatic/hydraulic cylinder and piston combination, interconnected between base 12 and frame 26, such that, when actuated by a suitable control mechanism (not shown), frame 26 may be made to move along the direction of the longitudinal axis X-X of spindle 27.

In an alternative, simplified embodiment (not shown) of uncoiler apparatus 10, traverse mechanism 14 and propulsion unit 24 may be omitted, and spindle 27 may be simply fixedly mounted relative to base 12.

Returning to FIG. 1, spindle 27 includes inner spindle shaft 28, which is suitable journalled in end bearings 30 and center bearings 32, both of which bearing sets may be of any suitable configuration, using, e.g., spherical elements, cylindrical elements, tapered elements (to address thrust loads), etc. As shown in FIG. 10, in an embodiment of the invention, center bearing 32 incorporates three cam follower elements 32a-32c, which, in an embodiment of the invention are eccentric shaft bearings, so that spindle 27, during installation of the processing line installation, may be adjusted, to provide desired alignment relative to the downstream line machinery. The use of eccentric shaft bearings, which may have an eccentricity on the order of 0.030 inches, provides for a rotational mounting structure which is both forgiving (accommodating forces acting on the spindle as described) as well as being a relatively inexpensive structure, in that costly large size machined bearing races may be avoided. This feature allows also, for the ease of future line realignment.

In order to provide rotational motive force to spindle 27 (see FIG. 1), a suitably controlled hydraulic motor/pump 34 is mounted to frame 26, and provided with output gear 36, connected, e.g., via a roller chain or similar transmission element, to shaft gear 40 on inner spindle shaft 28. Motor 34 may be, in an embodiment of the invention, a variable displacement hydraulic piston type motor/pump, having as desirable characteristics, high torque and low revolutions per minute, so that the motor can act as a brake, as well, when necessary. The power requirements of motor 34 may be determined by one of ordinary skill in the art, based upon the desired web uncoiling speed, as well as the width and thickness of the sheet metal web being uncoiled.

Mandrel 42 (FIG. 1) includes disk 44, outer spindle shaft 46, helically positioned hose 48, and resilient expansible gripping member 50 (which, in an embodiment of the invention, is a coil of metal having a width approximately that of the length of outer spindle shaft 46). Hose 48 is connected, proximate the distal or free end of outer spindle shaft 46, to appropriate fittings 58 embedded in the end of outer spindle shaft 46, which, in turn, connect to a passageway or tubing 56 running through the axis of spindle 27, to a rotating union 54, which, in turn, is connected at 55 to a source (not shown) of pressurized fluid, which pressurized fluid may be a liquid or a gas, such as conventional hydraulic fluid or pressurized air or the like, which can be delivered in a controlled manner and maintained at desired suitable pressures. The inboard end of hose 48 is simply sealed closed and may be simply positioned under gripping member 50, and free to move, in response to the cycle of inflation and deflation.

FIGS. 7-9 illustrate further the structure and operation of the inflatable mandrel of the present invention. In FIGS. 8 and 9, hose 48 is represented by the circumferential gap between the outer surface of outer spindle shaft 46, and the inner surface of gripping member 50, for purposes of simplicity of illustration. Hose 48 is surrounded by gripping member 50 that extends for somewhat over one lap around hose 48 and outer spindle shaft 46. The overlap of the ends of the gripping member 50 needs to be sufficiently great, so that even when the inflatable hose is fully inflated, a significant amount of overlap between the two ends remains. In an embodiment of the invention, gripping member 50 may have a thickness of approximately 7 gauge or 0.18 inches, though other sizes may be used, as dictated by the requirements or preferences of any particular application, by one of ordinary skill in the art, having the present disclosure before them.

When the hose 48 is inflated, the pressure caused thereby results in the hose 48 expanding outwardly against the inside surface of the overlying gripping member 50, which, in turn, unwinds slightly. See FIG. 8. The outer surface of the sheet metal coil will, in turn, bear against the inside surface of the innermost lap of the sheet metal coil (not shown) to be unwound. It is contemplated that upon inflation, the diameter of the mandrel may increase several inches, and thus it is possible, depending upon how much increase in diameter is permitted, that several different sizes of coils may be accommodated.

As reflected in FIGS. 1, 8 and 9, upon inflation of hose 48, the portion of the radially innermost edge of gripping member 50, which is adjacent to disk 44 is rotationally fixed, relative to disk 44, and configured to ride along a radially extending slot in disk 44. Similarly, the portion of the radially innermost edge of gripping member 50, which is adjacent to end cap 49 (see FIG. 1) of spindle 46, is likewise rotationally fixed, relative to end cap 46, and configured to ride along a radially extending slot on an inner face 51 of end cap 49. This arrangement is intended to avoid undesired relative circumferential movement or rubbing contact between gripping member 50 and hose 48, which disposed between gripping member 50 and outer spindle shaft 46. Thus, during the expansion and contraction (inflation and deflation) processes, it is actually the outer free edge of gripping member 50, which moves relative to the inner edge to change the amount of relative overlap, as can be seen when comparing FIGS. 8 and 9.

Spindle apparatus 10 further includes a hold-down mechanism 60, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, in particular. Hold-down mechanism 60 includes upwardly extensible boom 62, web 64, horizontal member 66, extension mechanism 68 (which may be in the form of a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder and piston arrangement), and roller mounting self-aligning subframe 70. As can be seen in FIG. 4, through operation of extension mechanism 68, the outer end of hold-down mechanism 60, including subframe 70, can move between an outer position (I) and an inner position (II), so as to maintain contact with the outer surface of the sheet metal coil 52 being unwound. Subframe 70 may include a single roll driven by the hydraulic motor. The hold-down roll hydraulic motor is, in an embodiment of the invention, hydraulically coupled to the main motor 34, thus providing synchronized speed during coil thread-up mode of operation.

In practice, a coil 52, being carried by a movable cradle (not shown), is pushed over the spindle, when hose 48 is deflated. Once the coil 52 has been pushed sufficiently onto spindle 27, hose 48 is inflated, causing gripping member 50 to expand, and engage the inside surface of the aperture of the coil 52. The cradle (not shown) can then be lowered, and moved away from the spindle apparatus. Hold-down mechanism 60 will be lowered to position II of FIG. 4, while the leading edge of the coil 52 is taken off and guided toward a downstream device, such as a slitter. During this “threading” operation, hydraulic motor/pump 34 is being operated as a motor, driving spindle 27.

Once the leading edge of the coil 52 has been successfully threaded through the downstream devices, the downstream devices will grip and pull upon the uncoiling web. Hold-down mechanism 60 will be raised away from the surface of the uncoiling web, and the role of motor/pump 34 will be switched, in that it will thereafter be driven by the uncoiling web, as the web exerts a pull, causing the rotating remainder of coil 52 to, in turn, force spindle 27 to rotate. In this mode, motor/pump 34 will be acting as a brake (through the resistance of the hydraulic fluid being pumped), and will serve to maintain desired back tension on the uncoiling web of metal.

In an embodiment of the invention, the driven roller 72 (see FIG. 4) will be pivotably centrally mounted at 74, with resilient supports 76, 78, so that it will be self-aligning, to adjust to the surface of the coil being unwound and processed.

When a coil 52 to be uncoiled has a width which is substantially equal to, or even slightly greater than the length of outer spindle shaft 46, all of the width of gripping member 50 engages the interior diameter of coil 52. However, when coil 52 has a width which is less than the width of gripping member 50, in order to prevent distortion and possible plastic deformation of gripping member 50, in the vicinity of the inner and/or outer ends of coil 52, uncoiler 10 may be suitably provided with a control to modulate the pressure of the fluid used to inflate hose 48, so as to reduce the outward pressure exerted by hose 48 onto gripping member 50.

It is believed that the adjustable diameter spindle construction of the present invention provides for a more distributed application of force to the inner surface of the inner diameter of a coil of wound sheet metal web material, so as to avoid localized pressure points, which may result in damage to the sheet metal web material. Furthermore, by distributing the contact surface area about the entire circumference of the spindle, increased frictional forces are created, resulting in the spindle having a greater “grip” on the coil.

The foregoing description and drawings merely explain and illustrate the invention, and the invention is not so limited as those skilled in the art who have the disclosure before them will be able to make modifications and variations therein without departing from the scope of the invention.