Apparatus and method for filling and sealing valved bags

Package making – Methods – Filling preformed receptacle and closing

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C053S450000, C053S459000, C053S463000, C053S477000, C053S373700, C053S375900, C053SDIG002, C053S284700, C141S263000

Reexamination Certificate

active

06748723

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is directed to methods and apparatus for filling and sealing valved bags, in which the bags are typically fabricated from at least one layer of paper material. The bags may be further provided with an inner liner layer of paper or plastic material. At least one end of the bag is typically formed by folded over flaps defining a valve passage, into which a valve structure is positioned or inserted. The valve structure may be typically fabricated from two opposing outer layers of paper material, and may have a valve liner structure incorporating alternatively a discrete liner structure fabricated from a sealable material such as a heat or sonically sealable plastic liner material. Alternatively, the typical two opposing outer layers of paper material may be coated with a heat or sonically sealable material.
2. Prior Art
Sealable cartons, containers and bags are known. One example of a prior art apparatus and method for sealing containers via ultrasonic vibrations is disclosed in Bosche et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,159,220. Another example of an ultrasonic apparatus for sealing containers, such as paper bags fabricated from one or more layers of paper material is found in Wadium et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,244,532.
Typically, in such prior art systems, containers, such as bags, are filled in an upright posture (to ensure complete filling), and are then transported along a processing path in an upright, vertical orientation, until the bags reach a sealing station. Typically the bag must be transported vertically, to prevent leakage (dusting) from the bag, prior to sealing. Within the sealing station, a portion of the container to be sealed is clamped within a heat sealing or ultrasonic vibration sealing apparatus. While such systems have worked more or less acceptably for relatively small or lightweight containers, such systems can be problematic, for use with heavier, larger or more cumbersome containers. For such containers, typically large, sophisticated, and/or expensive supporting or holding structures must be provided to maintain the containers in a vertical orientation. For example, it may be more difficult to transport them vertically, e.g., with centers of gravity elevated a significant distance above the conveyor.
Another prior art container sealing method and apparatus is disclosed in Avila et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,620,542. This particular method and apparatus is intended for use with containers, such as bags fabricated from one or more layers of paper material, and may be provided with valve structures incorporating an interior flap, that is intended to reduce dusting, when the bag is placed on its side. The valve structure may also include an outwardly protruding portion that is amenable to heat or ultrasonic sealing by the clamping of a sealing apparatus to the protruding portion.
In this system, bags are transported along a conveyor path. The bags are typically filled while standing upright, and are then laid on their sides, with the “tops” of the bags oriented forward or downstream, and the bottoms of the bags oriented rearward or upstream, along the conveyor path. Each protruding valve structure extends sideways. The bags are typically positions more or less straddling a centerline of the conveyor belt, some distance away from each edge of the conveyor belt.
As each bag arrives at the sealing station, which is to one side of the conveyor belt, each successive bag is propelled sideways, until a “front” wall of the bag is more or less aligned with, or even extending slightly beyond one longitudinal edge of the conveyor belt, so that the protruding valve structure extends beyond the belt, to permit clamping by the sealing apparatus. After sealing of each bag, each bag is then transported along the path to the appropriate off-loading location.
It would be desirable to provide a method for sealing of containers, such as valved bags, which shortens the length of the processing path.
It would further be desirable to provide a method of sealing of containers, such as valved bags, which would alleviate the need for laying of bags on their sides, for purposes of facilitating sealing of the bags.
These and other desirable characteristics of the present invention will become apparent in view of the present specification, including claims, and drawings.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention is directed, in part, to an apparatus for filling and sealing one or more containers, such as sealable valved bags, wherein the sealable valved bags are provided with outwardly extending sealable valve structures, the apparatus being disposed at a selected position along a processing path.
The apparatus comprises a support operably configured for receiving, in succession, a plurality of sealable valved bags, the support being operably configured to maintain each successive sealable valved bag in an upright, substantially erect orientation, with its sealable valve structure extending substantially horizontally toward the apparatus for filling and sealing one or more containers.
A filling tube is preferably operably connectable at one end to a source of filling material, the filling tube further having at an opposite end a filling nozzle, operably configured to enable the sealable valve structure of a sealable valved bag to fit around the filling nozzle.
The filling tube is preferably further operably configured to be reciprocably moved between a filling position to enable operable engagement with the sealable valve structure of a sealable valved bag, and a standoff position substantially removed from the sealable valved bag.
The filling tube is preferably further operably positioned at the selected position along the processing path.
The filling and sealing apparatus preferably further includes a sealing apparatus, also operably at the selected position along the processing path, the sealing apparatus including at least one sealing member operably configured to be reciprocably moved between a sealing position in operable engagement with a sealable valve structure of a sealable valved bag, and a standoff position substantially removed from the sealable valved bag.
In a preferred embodiment of the filling and sealing apparatus, the filling tube is configured to reciprocably pivot and translate between a horizontal filling position and a retracted position, in which the filling tube is tilted, filling nozzle upward, and moved backward from the horizontal filling position.
In an alternative embodiment of the filling and sealing apparatus, the filling tube is configured to reciprocably pivot and translate between a horizontal filling position and a retracted position, in which the filling tube is tilted, filling nozzle downward, and moved backward from the horizontal filling position.
In another alternative embodiment of the filling and sealing apparatus, the filling tube is configured to reciprocably move horizontally, between a filling position and a position moved backward from the filling position.
In a preferred embodiment of the filling and sealing apparatus, the sealing member includes at least one of: an ultrasonic horn, an ultrasonic anvil. Alternatively, the sealing member includes at least one of: a heat sealing member, an anvil.
Preferably, the support further comprises at least one bag bottom support member, operably disposed to vertically support bags, presented in succession, for filling and subsequent sealing. The support may further comprise at least one bag side support member, operably disposed for restricting lateral movement of bags, presented in succession, for filling and subsequent sealing.
The support may further comprise at least one bag back support member, operably disposed for selectively restricting backward movement away from the filling tube and sealing apparatus of bags, presented in succession, for filling and subsequent sealing. The at least one bag back support member preferably is operably configured to reciprocate between an open position, permitting a bag to be presented to and removed from t

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