Apparatus and method to prevent bottle rotation

Package making – Methods – Closing package or filled receptacle

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C053S317000, C053S331500

Reexamination Certificate

active

06834478

ABSTRACT:

The present invention relates to the art of capping containers as they are moved along a preselected path, and more particularly to an improvement in a capping machine which prevents rotation of the container as a cap is being tightened onto the neck of the container. The invention is particularly applicable to a container guide which retains the container in the filling and/or capping machine as the container passes through the machine and will be described with particular reference thereto.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Machines in the bottling industry for filling containers or capping containers after being filled are well known in the prior art. As defined herein, such machines are collectively referred to as bottling machines. Reference may be had to U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,934,042; 5,816,029; 5,732,528; 4,939,890; 4,624,098; and 4,295,320 which are incorporated by reference herein for a description of applications for conventional type bottling machines. Such machines will not be described in detail in this specification.
Generally, a capping and/or filling apparatus includes a rotatable star wheel mechanism for moving the containers through the machine. The star wheel generally includes a mechanism for supporting the container which is generally arranged about the periphery of the star wheel. An infeed mechanism or conveyor is utilized to bring the containers to an entry point of the star wheel, and an outfeed mechanism or conveyor is similarly mated to the rotatable star wheel mechanism to transfer the capped (or filled) containers from an exit point of the star wheel. A stationary rear guide extending generally between the entry and exit points is generally spaced radially outwardly from the neck support assembly on the rotatable star wheel. This rear guide functions to retain the containers in the individual pockets of the neck support assembly as the star wheel rotates. In a conventional capping apparatus, a turret capper head is directly over the capper star wheel and moves in synchronous rotation with the capper star wheel. In a bottle filling apparatus, a filling head is located above the capper star wheel. Either of the capper head or the filling head is driven axially downward at pre-determined periods of time to place a tightened cap onto the container or to place product within the bottle. Each capper head generally employs a clutch mechanism whereby the capper head is rotated and driven axially downward at a predetermined force and torque to tighten the cap on the container.
Within a bottling plant or facility, a single capping or filling machine is used to fill or cap many different sized containers. In the soft drink industry such size container can include a 12-oz bottle, a 20-oz bottle, a 1-liter bottle, a 2-liter bottle, or others. Positive control of the containers throughout the machine is typically maintained by holding the containers by the neck. Thus, based upon a predetermined control height, all the containers will be guided, and/or be partially or fully suspended throughout the filling or capping process by the container neck flange. Normally, the container will be rested on or be suspended above the normal wear surface. Mounted on the basic shaft of the bottling machine is a hub which supports the mounting plate and star wheel thereon. As the shaft is rotated, the hub rotates the star wheel, thus moving the containers through the machine to accomplish the capping and filling process. Smaller star wheels include and neck support assemblies integral with the hub. Larger star wheel assemblies include neck guide assemblies mounted on the star wheel. Each neck guide assembly has fingers extended therefrom and guides and/or supports the neck of the container.
In order to retain the control height for different sized containers, each container requires a different size and/or shape neck support bracket and lower body guide support for the sidewall of the container. Thus, in each instance where the container size to be run is changed, it is necessary to changeover different aspects of the bottling machine including those portions of the machine which are specific to the particular container size being run on the line. In a bottling plant, such a changeover requires the use of skilled labor to remove the equipment which is specific for a particular size container and replace it with substitute equipment which is specific for a different size container. Thousands of containers pass through a bottling machine each hour. Maintaining this volume is very important to meet both consumer and industry demands as well as plant capacity. As such, the down time associated with a changeover to different size containers is a significant loss both in dollars and productivity due to reduced output capacity, idle manpower and the skilled work force required to complete a changeover. In order to address this problem, a modified container guide was developed and is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,732,528 which is incorporated herein by reference. U.S. Pat. No. 5,732,528 discloses an improved container guide system for a bottling machine, which includes a redesigned star wheel and rear container guides that enable the body guide, or body star, on the star wheel and the sidewall guide on the rear container guide to be capable of quick adjustment without the necessity of removing and reinstalling different guides for different sized bottles. Changeover mainly requires depressing a button on each guide to release an adjustable locking mechanism and to slide the guide along a positioning rod to a desired new position. A positioning block located on the guides holds the adjustable locking mechanism and effectively moves the body guide and/or sidewall guide to its new position where the button is released to lock the guide in place. The easy adjustment also allows for quick and easy removal of the guide and replacement with another guide having the size requirements desired. This improved container guide system significantly reduces the down time of a bottling line due to a changeover. No tools are needed to effect the changeover as it relates to container guides, thus a machine operator is capable of depressing the button for releasing and sliding the body guide, or body star, on the star wheel or the sidewall guide on the rear container guide to a second position where the button is released and the guide is locked into place. The improved guide system also reduces the number of parts necessary to effect a changeover on a bottling line and provides a positive adjustable control guide once the initial modifications to install the invention are made to the bottling machine.
With respect to the cap or the closure, for years, the crown was the dominant closure employed on containers and is still in use today in the beer industry. The crown closure eventually was partially replaced by caps or closures commonly called “roll-on” caps. This type of closure comprised a cap shell of aluminum which was inserted over the threaded neck of the container and then secured in place by rolling threads in situ into the walls of the cap shell. Capper heads which performed the rolling operation typically exerted downward forces of up to 500 pounds onto the neck of the container. This force, of course, was transmitted to the base of the container and thereat developed a sufficient frictional force with the capper star wheel base to prevent container rotation during the capping process. Over time, the roll-on cap was partially replaced with plastic or metal locking type, threaded caps. In the beverage industry, threaded safety caps have a frangible connection at the cap base thereof which will herein be referred to as a “lock band”. In the case of a metal cap, the capper heads simply crimped the lock band about the container neck portion beneath the lowermost thread. In the case of a plastic cap, heat is applied to the lock band of the cap after the cap is tightened onto the filled container and then shrunk to the neck of the container. Plastic caps with heated lock bands can be applied to either plastic or

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