US20100251674A1 - Box Opening Structure - Google Patents

Box Opening Structure Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100251674A1
US20100251674A1 US12/752,365 US75236510A US2010251674A1 US 20100251674 A1 US20100251674 A1 US 20100251674A1 US 75236510 A US75236510 A US 75236510A US 2010251674 A1 US2010251674 A1 US 2010251674A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
cuboid
section
opening
member
delamination
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US12/752,365
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Joseph M. Fisher
Timothy J. Green
William B. Elliott
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Illinois Tool Works Inc
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Illinois Tool Works Inc
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Priority to US16566709P priority Critical
Application filed by Illinois Tool Works Inc filed Critical Illinois Tool Works Inc
Priority to US12/752,365 priority patent/US20100251674A1/en
Assigned to ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC. reassignment ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ELLIOTT, WILLIAM B., FISHER, JOSEPH M., GREEN, TIMOTHY J.
Publication of US20100251674A1 publication Critical patent/US20100251674A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B7/00Closing containers or receptacles after filling
    • B65B7/16Closing semi-rigid or rigid containers or receptacles not deformed by, or not taking-up shape of, contents, e.g. boxes or cartons
    • B65B7/20Closing semi-rigid or rigid containers or receptacles not deformed by, or not taking-up shape of, contents, e.g. boxes or cartons by folding-down preformed flaps

Abstract

A member for opening a rectangular cuboid includes a elongated body having an insertion section, a delamination and a folding section sequentially positioned along the longitudinal axis of the body. The insertion section includes a tapered insertion end configured for guiding the body into an opening in an end of the cuboid. The delamination section is configured to laterally displace first and second flaps of the cuboid relative to each other away from a first sealed position. The opening section has oppositely facing sidewalls to deflect the first and second flaps to a second open position at which the first and second flaps are opened past first and second sides of the cuboid. A machine having the opening member and a method of opening a rectangular cuboid are also included.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/165,667, filed Apr. 1, 2009, which is incorporated by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention generally relates to a structure for opening boxes and, more particularly, to a structure that is capable of non-destructively opening asymmetrical boxes that are fed in either of two orientations.
  • It is often desirable to automate manufacturing processes that require significant amounts of labor or are highly repetitive. However, some processes are more difficult to automate due to the configuration of the products being processed. In particular, products that are not uniform or are asymmetrical present unique problems during the automation process. Further, components that appear to be symmetrical but in fact are asymmetrical present even more difficulties.
  • One example of a product that appears to be symmetrical but in fact is asymmetrical is cigarette carton. Each carton typically has a rectangular or cuboid shape with two long sides connected by two ends with a top surface integrally formed with and connected to the two side surfaces. The bottom of the carton is formed by a first relatively wide flap that extends along the entire length of one of the sides and with a width equal to that of the top surface of the carton and a second narrow flap that extends along the entire length of the other side and which has a width equal to that of only one third to one half of the width of the carton.
  • Revenue or tax stamps must be applied to individual packs of cigarettes and, because the taxes and stamps vary by state, county and even by city, these stamps are not applied to the packs until they reach their final destination. However, for ease of handling, cigarette packs are packaged in the cartons in which they will ultimately be sold or displayed and then the cartons are packaged in relatively large boxes that are shipped to the desired location. Once the boxes of cigarettes reach the destination at which the revenue stamps will be applied, the boxes are opened and the cartons removed from the boxes. The cartons are then opened, tax stamps applied and the cartons re-sealed. As a result, care must be taken to not tear or damage the cartons when opening them during the process of applying the revenue stamps so that they may be re-sealed and subsequently re-shipped.
  • During the packaging process at the cigarette factory, after the cigarette packs are loaded into a carton, a small amount of adhesive or glue (typically two drops) is applied to the narrow flap and then the wide flap is rotated or pivoted onto the narrow flap in order to temporarily seal the carton to facilitate shipping to the location at which the revenue stamps are applied. The temporarily sealed cartons are then loaded into boxes for shipping.
  • Once the boxes of cigarettes reach the destination at which the revenue stamps will be applied, the boxes are opened and the cartons removed from the boxes. One current automated revenue stamping machine utilizes an asymmetrical opener or plow which requires that the cigarette cartons be loaded therein with the temporarily sealed bottom surface facing upward and with the wide and narrow flaps that form the bottom surface oriented in a specific direction (i.e., with the wide flap to the left). Such asymmetrical opener has a vertical ramp structure over a relatively short length that deflects the bottom surface upward in order to disengage the wide flap from the narrow flap and thus open the upwardly facing bottom surface of each carton. A relatively wide section then forces the flaps fully open to permit the application of the revenue stamps.
  • Since the cartons are rectangular or cuboid shaped, there are four possible orientations that will initially appear to be identical without close inspection. More specifically: 1) top up, wide flap left; 2) top up, wide flap right; 3) bottom up, wide flap left; and 4) bottom up, wide flap right. With the current automation equipment, if the cigarette cartons are not loaded into the equipment in the one correct orientation, the automation equipment cannot open the cartons without tearing some portion of the cartons. Since the cartons are subsequently reused to ship the cigarette packs to their final destination, damage to the cartons is undesirable and will result in wasted materials and labor required to repackage the cigarette packs.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Accordingly, it is the object to solve the above-described problems encountered within existing automated cigarette handling equipment while providing an easy to manufacture, low cost solution to the problem of properly orienting the cigarette cartons. More specifically, it would be desirable to provide a structure whereby the cigarette cartons may be opened in an automated manner regardless of the orientation of the long and short flaps that form the surface to be opened. Accordingly, an opening member for opening a rectangular cuboid such as a cigarette carton upon relative movement thereof is provided which includes an elongated body with a longitudinal axis having an insertion section, a delamination and a folding section sequentially positioned along the longitudinal axis of the body and with the body being generally symmetrical about the longitudinal axis. The cuboid has first and second oppositely facing side surfaces with first and second flaps extending from the first and second sides, respectively, and with the first and second flaps folded into a common plane and secured to each other in a first sealed position. The insertion section includes a tapered insertion end configured for guiding the body into an opening in an end of the cuboid. The delamination section is configured to laterally displace the first and second flaps relative to each other away from the first sealed position. The opening section has oppositely facing sidewalls to deflect the first and second flaps to a second open position at which the first and second flaps are opened past the first and second sides of the cuboid to provide access to the interior of the cuboid.
  • If desired, the delamination section may have a first sidewall for engaging the first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging the second flap of the cuboid. The first and second sidewalls may define a generally elongated rectangular delamination portion with a delamination entrance adjacent the insertion section and a delamination exit at an opposite end thereof. A widthwise distance between the first and second sidewalls may be narrower at the delamination entrance than at the delamination exit. The elongated delamination section may have a generally uniform linear taper therealong. The opening section may have a first sidewall for engaging the first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging the second flap of the cuboid. The first and second sidewalls may define a generally trapezoidal portion with an opening entrance adjacent the delamination exit of the delamination section and an opening exit at an opposite end thereof, and a widthwise distance between the sidewalls may be narrower at the opening entrance than at the opening exit. The generally trapezoidal portion may have a generally uniform curvilinear taper therealong. If desired, the opening member may be generally planar.
  • An alternate opening structure may be provided for opening the rectangular cuboid upon relative movement of the cuboid in an insertion direction. The opening structure includes a generally planar, elongated member with an insertion section having an insertion end dimensioned for guiding the member into an opening in the cuboid as the cuboid is moved relative to the opening structure. A delamination section is provided with side surfaces for engaging the first and second flaps and defines an elongated, generally rectangular member with a delamination entrance adjacent the insertion section and a delamination exit at an opposite end thereof, a widthwise distance between the side surfaces may be narrower at the delamination entrance than at the delamination exit with a taper therebetween. A deflection section is provided with side surfaces that define a generally trapezoidal member with a deflection entrance adjacent the delamination exit of the delamination section and a deflection exit at an opposite end thereof. A widthwise distance between the side surfaces may be narrower at the deflection entrance than at the deflection exit with a taper therebetween wherein the taper of the width of the deflection section is greater per unit length than the taper of the width of the delamination section.
  • If desired, the generally rectangular member may have a generally uniform taper therealong. The first and second side surfaces of the generally rectangular member may be linear. If desired, the trapezoidal member may have a generally uniform taper therealong. The first and second side surfaces of the trapezoidal member may be curvilinear.
  • If desired, the delamination section may include a first sidewall for engaging the first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging the second flap of the cuboid and the deflection section may include a first sidewall for engaging the first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging the second flap. The first sidewall of the delamination section and the first sidewall of the deflection section may form a continuous first sidewall to engage the first flap of the cuboid and the second sidewall of the delamination section and the second sidewall of the deflection section may form a second continuous sidewall to engage the second flap of the cuboid. A first tapered surface may extend between the continuous first sidewall and a top surface of the elongated member and a second tapered surface may extend between the continuous second sidewall and the top surface of the elongated member. A third tapered surface may extend between the continuous first sidewall and a bottom surface of the elongated member and a fourth tapered surface may extend between the continuous second sidewall and the bottom surface of the elongated member. If desired, first and second sidewalls may have a thickness less than half of the thickness of the delamination section. If desired, the elongated member may be symmetrical about a longitudinal axis thereof.
  • A further opening structure may be provided for opening the rectangular cuboid upon movement of the cuboid relative to the opening structure in an insertion direction. The structure may include a generally planar elongated member having an insertion section, a detachment section and an opening section in sequence along the insertion direction. The insertion section may include a tapered insertion end dimensioned for guiding the member into an opening between at least one of the first and second flaps and an end surface of the cuboid as the cuboid is moved relative to the opening structure. The detachment section may have first and second sidewalls that define an elongated, generally rectangular member with a detachment entrance adjacent the insertion section and a detachment exit at an opposite end thereof. A widthwise distance between the sidewalls may be narrower at the detachment entrance than at the detachment exit with a generally uniform taper therebetween. The detachment section may further include a first tapered surface extending between the first sidewall and a top surface of the detachment section and a second tapered surface extending between the second sidewall and the top surface of the detachment section. The first sidewall and the first tapered surface may engage the first flap and the second sidewall and the second tapered surface may engage the second flap to displace the first and second flaps from the first closed position. The opening section may have first and second sidewalls that define a generally trapezoidal member with an opening entrance adjacent the detachment exit of the detachment section and an opening exit at an opposite end thereof. A widthwise distance between the sidewalls may be narrower at the opening entrance than at the opening exit.
  • If desired, a first tapered surface may extend between the first sidewall of the detachment section and a top surface of the detachment section and a second tapered surface may extend between the second sidewall of the detachment section and the top surface of the detachment section. The first sidewall of the detachment section and the first sidewall of the opening section may form a continuous first side surface and the second sidewall of the detachment section and the second sidewall of the opening section may form a second continuous side surface. The first tapered surface of the detachment section and the first tapered surface of the opening section may form a continuous first tapered surface and the second tapered surface of the detachment section and the second tapered surface of the opening section may form a second continuous tapered surface.
  • If desired, the first and second sidewalls of the rectangular member may be generally linear. If desired, the generally trapezoidal member may have a generally uniform taper therealong and the taper of the width of the opening section may be greater per unit length than the taper of the width of the opening section. If desired, the elongated member may be symmetrical about a longitudinal axis thereof.
  • A machine for processing the rectangular cuboid may also be provided. The machine includes an opening station for opening the cuboids, an indicia applying station for applying indicia to the articles within the cuboids and a closing station for applying adhesive to and returning the first and second flaps of the cuboid to their closed position. The opening station has an elongated body member with a longitudinal axis. The body member is generally symmetrical about the longitudinal axis and includes an insertion section, a delamination section and an opening section sequentially positioned along the longitudinal axis. The insertion section is configured for guiding the body member into an opening in an end of the cuboid. The delamination section is configured to displace the first and second flaps relative to each other away from their closed position. The opening section is configured to deflect the first and second flaps to a second open position at which the first and second flaps are opened past the first and second sidewalls, respectively, to provide access to articles within the cuboid.
  • If desired, the opening station, the indicia apply station and the closing station may be sequentially positioned along a linear path. The machine may include a transport mechanism for sequentially moving the cuboids along the linear path.
  • A method of processing a rectangular cuboid includes providing first and second rectangular cuboids. Each cuboid has first and second oppositely facing side surfaces generally parallel to a longitudinal axis of the cuboid. First and second flaps extend from the first and second sides, respectively, and are folded into a common plane and secured to each other in a first sealed position to at least partially form a first surface of the cuboid. An opening member is provided along a drive path for non-destructively separating the first and second flaps in order to open the cuboid. The first cuboid is oriented with the longitudinal axis thereof being parallel to the drive path and the first side of the first cuboid is positioned in a first direction relative to the drive path and the first surface is oriented in a second direction relative to the drive path. The second cuboid is oriented with the longitudinal axis thereof being parallel to the drive path and the first side of the second cuboid is positioned in a third direction relative to the drive path and the first surface is oriented in the second direction relative to the drive path. The first direction is opposite to the third direction. The first cuboid is moved relative to the opening member along the drive path whereby the opening member engages the first and second flaps of the first cuboid to non-destructively open the cuboid. The second cuboid is moved relative to the opening member along the drive path whereby the opening member engages the first and second flaps of the second cuboid to non-destructively open the cuboid.
  • If desired, indicia may be applied to articles within the first and second cuboids after the cuboids are opened. In addition, adhesive may be applied to the first and second flaps and the flaps closed after the indicia is applied to the articles within the cuboids.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Various other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated and better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like-referenced characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a front view of a revenue stamp applying machine including the box opening member of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the revenue stamp applying machine of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view in somewhat schematic form of the carton opening member of the present invention with various cartons depicted;
  • FIG. 3 a is an end view of one of the cartons immediately prior to engagement of the carton by the carton opening member;
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the carton opening member of the present invention in an orientation similar to that of FIG. 3;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the carton opening member of FIG. 4 but with carton opening member rotated 180 degrees;
  • FIG. 6 is another perspective view of the carton opening member of FIG. 4 taken generally from the front depicting the path of a carton to be opened;
  • FIG. 7 is a side view of the carton opening member of FIG. 4;
  • FIG. 8 is a top plan view of the carton opening member of FIG. 4; and
  • FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the carton opening member of FIG. 4.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • The following description is intended to convey the operation of exemplary embodiments of the invention to those skilled in the art. It will be appreciated that this description is intended to aid the reader, not limit the invention. As such, references to a feature or aspect of the invention are intended to describe the feature or aspect of the embodiment of the invention, not to imply that every embodiment of the invention must have the described characteristic.
  • Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, revenue stamp applying machine 10 includes a feed conveyor 12 onto which cigarette cartons 20 (FIG. 3) are loaded and then moved laterally or perpendicular (in the direction of arrow “A”) relative to the longitudinal axes of the cigarette cartons. Drive conveyor 13 is provided to move cartons 20 sequentially along a linear path “B” from the feed conveyor 12 towards printer head 14 at which revenue stamps are applied. Prior to reaching printer head 14, the carton 20 is opened by carton opening member or plow 30 which contacts the flaps 27, 28 that form the top wall of carton 20 in order to de-laminate the bottom surface of the carton formed by the two flaps. As the cigarette carton moves past opening member 30 (from left to right as viewed in FIGS. 1 and 2), the flaps are opened sufficiently wide in order to permit the revenue stamps to be applied to the bottom of each pack of cigarettes (not shown). After opening carton 20 and applying revenue stamps to the cigarette packs, drive conveyor 13 moves each carton along linear path “B” to glue tower 15 which is located downstream from printer head 14 to apply glue to the narrow flap 28 of the top wall 24 of carton 20. Drive conveyor 13 then moves each carton 20 past a flap closing structure 17 for closing or deflecting flaps 27, 28 back to a closed position in order to re-seal the top of each carton 20. The re-sealed cartons 20 are then removed from machine 10 and may be returned to the boxes in which they were originally shipped or some other box or container as desired.
  • In this description, representations of direction such as up, down, left, right, front, rear and the like used for explaining the structure and movement of each part of the disclosed embodiments are not absolute, but relative. These representations are appropriate when each part of the disclosed embodiment is in the position shown in the Figures. If the position of the disclosed embodiment changes, these representations are to be changed according to the change in the position of the disclosed embodiment.
  • Referring to FIGS. 3 and 3 a, carton 20 is a rectangular cuboid with a pair of elongated oppositely facing sidewalls 21, 22 that are interconnected by a bottom wall or surface 23, an oppositely facing top wall or surface 24 and a pair of oppositely facing end walls or surfaces 25 and 26. Bottom wall 23 is integrally connected and extends from sidewalls 21 and 22. End walls 25 and 26 as well as top wall 24 are formed by folding over flaps that extend from each sidewall 21, 22 and gluing them or otherwise adhering them together. More specifically, top wall 24 is formed by a combination of wide flap 27 that extends from sidewall 22 and narrow flap 28 that extends from sidewall 21. Accordingly, opening flaps 27, 28 provides access to the interior of carton 20. Flaps 27, 28 are depicted in an open position in phantom in FIG. 3 to show their relative size difference.
  • During the manufacturing process, after the cigarette packs (not shown) are loaded into the cartons, the narrow flap 28 is folded down so as to be perpendicular to sidewall 21. An adhesive or glue is applied to narrow flap 28 and then wide flap 27 is folded down so as to be perpendicular to sidewall 22 and engage the adhesive on narrow flap 28 to create the laminated structure (FIG. 3 a) that forms top wall 24. Two circular drops of adhesive are typically applied to narrow flap 28 in order to temporarily secure wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 together during the initial transportation of the packs of cigarettes prior to the application of the revenue stamps to the bottom of the cigarette packs. End walls 25 and 26 are similarly formed with wide and narrow flaps although only the wide flaps can be seen as the visible portion of end walls 25 and 26. In addition, since end walls 25, 26 are not intended to be temporarily secured, the wide and narrow flaps that form end walls 25 and 26 are secured using a standard elongated length of adhesive or glue rather then a small amount as is used with wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28. It should be noted that cartons 20, as depicted in FIGS. 3 and 3 a, are actually upside down with the actual top surface of carton 20 being bottom wall 23 and the bottom surface of carton 20 being top wall 24. Carton 20 is inverted during the process of applying the revenue stamps as such stamps are adhered to the bottom of each pack of cigarettes.
  • Referring to FIG. 3, the carton opening member 30 is depicted in a somewhat schematic manner showing the relationship between carton opening member 30 and a first carton 20 aligned with the longitudinal axis “L” of opening member 30 immediately prior to the carton 20 being moved towards opening member 30. Additional cartons 20′, 20″, 20′″ are laterally aligned as they would be at feed conveyor 12. However, cartons 20, 20″ have the wide flap on the left while cartons 20′, 20′″ have the wide flaps on the right. It should be noted that, for clarity, flaps 27, 28 are depicted as being somewhat open, so that the orientation of the wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 may be seen. Carton opening member 30 is secured in place by a frame 31 of revenue stamp applying machine 10 through the use of bolts 32, spacers 33 and other components as is known in the industry in order to secure carton opening member 30 in the desired position.
  • As carton 20 is fed towards carton opening member 30, sidewalls 21, 22 are engaged by pinch wheels 16 (FIGS. 1 and 2) in order to squeeze sidewalls 21, 22 adjacent to top wall 24. This causes top wall 24 (including both wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28) to bow or pucker upward and create opening 29 (FIG. 3 a) between end wall 26 and top wall 24.
  • Referring to FIGS. 4-9, carton member opening 30 is a generally flat, elongated structure that is symmetrical about longitudinal axis “L.” Opening member 30 maybe generally divided into three sections—a tapered insertion section 40, a generally rectangular delamination or detachment section 50 and a generally trapezoidal shaped opening or unfolding section 60. It should be noted that because the transition between each of these sections is smooth and opening member 30 is designed to open cartons of different sizes, it is difficult to identify the exact location where one section ends and another section begins.
  • Insertion section 40 includes a semi-circular tip 41 with tapered lead-in or edge 41′ dimensioned to be narrower than the width of opening 29 in carton 20 that is created when carton 20 is squeezed by the pinch wheels 16. Sidewalls 42, 43 of insertion section 40 are tapered slightly in a generally linear manner so that insertion section 40 is narrower towards tip 41 and wider towards delamination section 50. Although sidewalls 42, 43 are generally vertical, a tapered, sloped or curved section 42′, 43′ extends from each sidewall 42, 43, respectively, to upper surface 44 of insertion section 40. As best seen in FIG. 7, opening member 30 is somewhat planar with a flat lower surface 35 and an upper surface 34 that includes a tapered lead-in 41′ followed by sloped upper surface 44 of insertion section 40 which is thinner towards tip 41 and increases in thickness closer to delamination section 50.
  • Delamination or disengagement section 50 is an elongated, generally rectangular planar shaped portion with a slight lateral taper (as best seen in FIG. 8) that functions to disengage wide flap 27 from narrow flap 28 during the opening process by either shearing the adhesive used to temporarily hold wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 together or by disengaging or shearing the glue from one of the wide flap 27 or narrow flap 28 of sidewalls 21, 22 during the delamination process. Delamination section 50 includes vertical sidewalls 52, 53 that extend from sidewalls 42, 43, respectively, of insertion section 40. The width of delamination section 50 increases gradually along the length thereof in a generally linear manner from the beginning or entrance adjacent insertion section 40 to opening section 60. Enlarged sloped or tapered edges 52′, 53′ extend from the respective sidewalls 52, 53 to upper surface 54 of opening section 50. It should be noted that opening member 30 is configured to open cartons of different widths (i.e., the distance from one sidewall 21 to the other sidewall 22) which may vary from 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches. As a result, when used with a wide carton, the portion of tapered surfaces 52′, 53′ towards tip 41 of insertion section 40 may not engage carton 20 and thus could conceivably be considered part of insertion section 40 rather than delamination section 50. It can be seen that the leading portions of tapered sections 52′, 53′ are generally narrow towards tip 41 and become wider towards the center of delamination section 50 along the length of longitudinal axis “L.”
  • Opening or unfolding section 60 has a generally trapezoidal shape as defined by sidewalls 62, 63 as best seen in FIG. 8. More accurately, inasmuch as sidewalls 62, 63 diverge outwardly in a somewhat curved manner, the shape of unfolding section 60 may be more appropriately characterized as a pair of diverging curved lines such as a portion of a hyperbola. Sidewalls 62, 63 extend from sidewalls 52, 53 of delamination section 50. The rate at which the taper of opening section 60 increases is greater per unit length than the rate at which the taper of delamination section 50 increases. Unfolding section 60 includes tapered sections 62′, 63′ that extend from vertical sidewalls 62, 63 to upper surface 64 of unfolding section 60 and extend from tapered sections 52′, 53′ of delamination section 50. In addition, unfolding section 60 has a pair of countersunk bores 65 aligned transverse to longitudinal axis “L” and three bores 66 positioned along longitudinal axis “L” in order to more accurately mount and position opening member 30 relative to the path of travel of carton 20.
  • Sidewalls 42, 43 of insertion section 40, sidewalls 52, 53 of delamination section 50 and sidewalls 62, 63 of unfolding section 60 are all interconnected and form a pair of continuous smooth sidewalls and tapered section 52′, 53′ of delamination section 50 and tapered sections 62′ and 63′ of unfolding section 60 are interconnected and form a pair continuous, smooth surfaces that combine with the continuous, smooth sidewalls to engage carton 20 and, more particularly, wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28. As seen best in FIG. 6, a vertical cross-section through delamination section 50 would show that upper surface 54 coupled with tapered surfaces 52′, 53′ and sidewalls 52, 53 create a shape designed to closely match opening 29 in carton 20 that is created when pinch wheels 16 squeeze the sidewalls 21, 22 of carton 20.
  • As best seen in FIG. 9, lower surface 35 of opening member 30 includes tapered lower surfaces 32, 33 adjacent thereto. Tapered lower surface 32 extends from lower surface 35 to the continuous sidewall formed by sidewall 42 of insertion section 40, sidewall 52 of delamination section 50 and sidewall 62 of unfolding section 60. Similarly, tapered lower surface 33 extends from lower surface 35 of member 30 to the continuous sidewall formed by sidewall 43 of insertion section 40, sidewall 53 of delamination section 50 and sidewall 63 of unfolding section 60. Tapered lower sections 32 and 33 are provided in order to reduce the likelihood of tearing of carton 20 as opening member 30 engages carton 20 during processing.
  • As depicted, opening member 30 is a one-piece structure approximately twelve to thirteen inches long that is symmetrical about its longitudinal axis “L” and is formed of aluminum with a hardened or anodized outer surface. In the alternative, it may be formed from other suitable materials such as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, ceramics, plastic and the like that have sufficient strength, wear and manufacturability characteristics.
  • In operation, a series of cartons 20 are removed from a box and placed on feed conveyor 12 of revenue stamp applying machine 10 with top wall 24 facing upward. The left or right orientation of wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 does not matter as long as top wall 24 faces upward and the longitudinal axis of carton 20 extends in a direction parallel to longitudinal axis “L” of opening member 30. The individual cartons are fed by the feed conveyor 12 from the loading station to the drive conveyor 13 at which point the longitudinal axis of each carton 20 is aligned with longitudinal axis “L” of opening member 30.
  • Drive conveyor 13 moves carton 20 towards opening member 30 and pinch wheels 16 squeeze sides 21, 22 of carton 20 so that top wall 24 of carton 20 bows upward to create opening 29 (FIG. 3 a) defined by the flat upper surface or top edge 26′ of end wall 26 and the bowed or curved top wall 24. As carton 20 moves towards opening member 30, the leading edge 41 of member 30 enters opening 29 between top wall 24 and end wall 26. As insertion section 40 enters opening 29, insertion section 40 will engage carton 20 with sidewalls 42, 43 and top wall 44 of insertion section 40 engaging wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 of carton 20 and lower surface 35 of guide member 30 sliding along the top edge 26′ of end wall 26. The sidewalls 42, 43 of insertion section 40 transition into the sidewalls 52, 53 of delamination section 50 so that the expanding profile of delamination section 50 will engage wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 immediately adjacent of sidewalls 21, 22 of carton 20. In addition, tapered sections 52′, 53′ together with upper surface 54 of delamination section 50 engage the arcuate shaped laminated top surface formed by wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 which are glued together. As the cross section of delamination section 50 gradually becomes larger, the engagement of delamination section 50 with wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 will shear the adhesive or shear the bond between the adhesive and the flaps 27, 28 in order to separate or disengage the flaps from each other. By matching the profile of delamination section 50 with that of opening 29 between top wall 24 and the top surface 26′ of sidewall 26, force concentrations are reduced on flaps 27, 28 and thus the likelihood of tearing either flap or any portion of carton 20 is reduced.
  • The location at which flaps 27, 28 will become disengaged will vary based upon the dimensions of carton 20 being opened. In general, the cartons range in length from approximately 9.75 to 11.5 inches, in the width from approximately 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and in height from approximately 2.75 to 5 inches. Opening member 30 as depicted is designed to open a wide range of carton sizes. Delamination section 50 tapers gradually and in a generally linear manner so that the expansion of the cross section or profile of delamination section 50 occurs relatively slowly in order to reduce the likelihood of tearing of carton 20. In the embodiment shown, opening member 30 is typically inserted approximately five inches into carton 20 prior to the initial disengagement or delamination of upper flap 27 from lower flap 28 but may range from two to eight inches depending upon numerous factors including the dimensions of the carton, the location of the adhesive between wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28, as well as the type of adhesive and paper used.
  • As the carton is pushed past delamination section 50 and wide flap 27 and narrow flap 28 move away from each other, flaps 27, 28 engage unfolding section 60 whereat sidewalls 62, 63 cause flaps 27, 28 to deflect or unfold from the position at which they were somewhat overlapping and adjacent to each other and move to a deflected or unfolded position in which the plane of each flap 27, 28 extends outward past the plane of its respective sidewall 22, 21. This will provide substantial access to the packs of cigarettes surface in order to permit the application of the revenue stamps. It should be noted that the taper of sidewalls 62, 63 of unfolding section 60 increases substantially faster per unit length than the taper of sidewalls 52, 53 of delamination section 50 so that the flaps 27, 28 are rapidly deflected or moved to the open position once they have become disengaged or delaminated by delamination section 50.
  • Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.

Claims (20)

1. A member for non-destructively opening a rectangular cuboid upon movement of said cuboid relative to said member along a drive path, said cuboid having first and second oppositely facing side with first and second flaps extending from said first and second side surfaces, respectively, said first and second flaps being folded into a common plane and secured to each other in a first sealed position, said member comprising:
an elongated body having a longitudinal axis with an insertion section, a delamination section and an opening section sequentially positioned along said longitudinal axis, said body being generally symmetrical about said longitudinal axis,
said insertion section including a tapered insertion end configured for guiding said body as said body is inserted into an opening in an end of said cuboid,
said delamination section being configured to laterally displace said first and second flaps relative to each other away from said first sealed position, and
said opening section having a dimension transverse to said longitudinal axis to deflect said first and second flaps to a second opened position at which said first and second flaps are opened past said first and second sidewalls, respectively
2. The member of claim 1 wherein said delamination section has a first sidewall for engaging said first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging said second flap, said first and second sidewalls defining a generally elongated rectangular delamination portion with a delamination entrance adjacent said insertion section and a delamination exit at an opposite end thereof, and a widthwise distance between said first and second sidewalls is narrower at said delamination entrance than at said delamination exit.
3. The member of claim 2 wherein said elongated delamination section has a generally uniform linear taper therealong.
4. The member of claim 3 wherein said opening section has a first sidewall for engaging said first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging said second flap, said first and second sidewalls defining a generally trapezoidal portion with an opening entrance adjacent said delamination exit of said delamination section and an opening exit at an opposite end thereof, and a widthwise distance between said sidewalls is narrower at said opening entrance than at said opening exit.
5. The member of claim 4 wherein said generally trapezoidal portion has a generally uniform curvilinear taper therealong.
6. The member of claim 1 wherein said member is generally planar.
7. The member of claim 1 wherein the elongated body is generally planar, and the delamination section has side surfaces for engaging said first and second flaps and that define an elongated, generally rectangular member with a delamination entrance adjacent said insertion section and a delamination exit at an opposite end thereof, a widthwise distance between said side surfaces being narrower at said delamination entrance than at said delamination exit with a taper therebetween.
8. The member of claim 7 wherein said generally rectangular member has a generally uniform taper therealong.
9. The member of claim 7 wherein the opening section has side surfaces that define a generally trapezoidal member with a deflection entrance adjacent said delamination exit of said delamination section and a deflection exit at an opposite end thereof, a widthwise distance between said side surfaces being narrower at said deflection entrance than at said deflection exit with a taper therebetween, and wherein the taper of the width of said opening section is greater per unit length than the taper of the width of said delamination section.
10. The member of claim 9 wherein said first and second side surfaces of said generally rectangular member are linear.
11. The member of claim 9 wherein said generally trapezoidal member has a generally uniform taper therealong.
12. The member of claim 11 wherein said first and second side surfaces of said trapezoidal member are curvilinear.
13. The member of claim 7 wherein said delamination section includes a first sidewall for engaging said first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging said second flap and said deflection section includes a first sidewall for engaging said first flap of the cuboid and a second sidewall for engaging said second flap, said first sidewall of said delamination section and said first sidewall of the opening section forming a continuous first sidewall to engage said first flap of the cuboid and said second sidewall of said delamination section and said second sidewall of the opening section forming a second continuous sidewall to engage said second flap of the cuboid, and further including a first tapered surface extending between said continuous first sidewall and a top surface of said elongated body and a second tapered surface extending between said continuous second sidewall and said top surface of said elongated body.
14. The member of claim 7 wherein said elongated body is symmetrical about a longitudinal axis thereof.
15. A machine for processing a rectangular cuboid, said cuboid having first and second oppositely facing side surfaces with first and second flaps extending from said first and second side surfaces, respectively, said first and second flaps being folded into a common plane and secured to each other in a first sealed position, said machine comprising:
an opening station having an elongated body with a longitudinal axis including an insertion section, a delamination section and an opening section sequentially positioned along said longitudinal axis, said body being generally symmetrical about said longitudinal axis, said insertion section being configured for guiding said body into an opening in an end of said cuboid, said delamination section being configured to displace said first and second flaps relative to each other away from said first sealed position, and said opening section being configured to deflect said first and second flaps to a second open position at which said first and second flaps are opened past said first and second sidewalls, respectively, to provide access to articles within the cuboid;
an indicia applying station for applying indicia to said articles within said cuboids; and
a closing station for applying adhesive to and returning said first and second flaps to said first position.
16. The machine of claim 15 wherein said opening station, said indicia apply station and said closing station are sequentially positioned along a linear path.
17. The machine of claim 16 further including a transport mechanism for sequentially moving said cuboids along said linear path.
18. A method of processing a rectangular cuboid, comprising the steps of:
providing a first and second rectangular cuboids, each said cuboid having first and second oppositely facing side surfaces generally parallel to a longitudinal axis of said cuboid, first and second flaps extending from said first and second side surfaces, respectively, and being folded into a common plane and secured to each other in a first sealed position to at least partially form a third surface of said cuboid;
providing an opening member along a drive path for non-destructively separating said first and second flaps in order to open said cuboid;
orienting said first cuboid in a first orientation with the longitudinal axis thereof being parallel to said drive path, said first side surface of said first cuboid being positioned in a first direction relative to said drive path and said third surface being oriented in a second direction relative to said drive path;
orienting said second cuboid in a second orientation with the longitudinal axis thereof being parallel to said drive path, said first side surface of said second cuboid being positioned in a third direction relative to said drive path and said third surface being oriented in the second direction relative to said drive path, said first direction being opposite to said third direction;
moving said first cuboid relative to said opening member along said drive path whereby said opening member engages said first and second flaps of said first cuboid to non-destructively open said first cuboid; and
moving said second cuboid relative to said opening member along said drive path whereby said opening member engages said first and second flaps of said second cuboid to non-destructively open said second cuboid.
19. The method of claim 18 further including the step of applying indicia to articles within said first and second cuboids after said moving steps.
20. The method of claim 19 further including the step of applying adhesive to and closing said first and second flaps of said first and second cuboids after said applying step.
US12/752,365 2009-04-01 2010-04-01 Box Opening Structure Abandoned US20100251674A1 (en)

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US12/752,365 US20100251674A1 (en) 2009-04-01 2010-04-01 Box Opening Structure

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