US20180140002A1 - System for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method - Google Patents

System for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20180140002A1
US20180140002A1 US15/356,090 US201615356090A US2018140002A1 US 20180140002 A1 US20180140002 A1 US 20180140002A1 US 201615356090 A US201615356090 A US 201615356090A US 2018140002 A1 US2018140002 A1 US 2018140002A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
smoking article
ash
longitudinal end
configured
suction device
Prior art date
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Pending
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US15/356,090
Inventor
Balager Ademe
John Larkin Nelson
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R J Reynolds Tobacco Co
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R J Reynolds Tobacco Co
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Publication date
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Priority to US15/356,090 priority Critical patent/US20180140002A1/en
Assigned to R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY reassignment R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ADEME, BALAGER, NELSON, JOHN LARKIN
Publication of US20180140002A1 publication Critical patent/US20180140002A1/en
Application status is Pending legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24CMACHINES FOR MAKING CIGARS OR CIGARETTES
    • A24C5/00Making cigarettes; Making tipping materials for, or attaching filters or mouthpieces to, cigars or cigarettes
    • A24C5/32Separating, ordering, counting, or examining cigarettes; Regulating the feeding of tobacco according to rod or cigarette condition
    • A24C5/34Examining cigarettes or the rod, e.g. for regulating the feeding of tobacco; Removing defective cigarettes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24CMACHINES FOR MAKING CIGARS OR CIGARETTES
    • A24C5/00Making cigarettes; Making tipping materials for, or attaching filters or mouthpieces to, cigars or cigarettes
    • A24C5/32Separating, ordering, counting, or examining cigarettes; Regulating the feeding of tobacco according to rod or cigarette condition
    • A24C5/34Examining cigarettes or the rod, e.g. for regulating the feeding of tobacco; Removing defective cigarettes
    • A24C5/3406Controlling cigarette combustion
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24FSMOKERS' REQUISITES; MATCH BOXES
    • A24F13/00Appliances for smoking cigars or cigarettes
    • A24F13/18Extinguishers for cigars or cigarettes
    • A24F13/20Means for cutting-off the glowing ash
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24FSMOKERS' REQUISITES; MATCH BOXES
    • A24F19/00Ash-trays
    • A24F19/0035Ash-trays with supporting means for the cigars or cigarettes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A24TOBACCO; CIGARS; CIGARETTES; SMOKERS' REQUISITES
    • A24FSMOKERS' REQUISITES; MATCH BOXES
    • A24F47/00Smokers' requisites not provided for elsewhere, e.g. devices to assist in stopping or limiting smoking
    • A24F47/002Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes
    • A24F47/004Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes with heating means, e.g. carbon fuel
    • A24F47/006Simulated smoking devices, e.g. imitation cigarettes with heating means, e.g. carbon fuel with chemical heating means

Abstract

A system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method are provided. The system includes a support arrangement supporting at least a portion of a smoking article to form a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement. The system also includes a suction device in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of the smoking article, the suction device being configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article. The system further includes an ignition device configured to ignite an ignitable material of the smoking article about the second longitudinal end thereof, the ignited ignitable material being transformed to an ash in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device. The system still further including an ash-dislodging mechanism configured to selectively impact the cantilevered smoking article to periodically remove the ash.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE Field of the Disclosure
  • Aspects of the present disclosure relate to a cigarette manufacturing process and, more particularly, to a system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method.
  • Description of Related Art
  • Alternatives to traditional smoking articles include a “heat-not-burn” smoking article (e.g., a cigarette), where a substantially cylindrical rod shaped structure includes a charge of an ignitable material (e.g., carbon) and an aerosol forming material (e.g., shredded tobacco) adjacently surrounded by a paper wrapper. During use, the paper wrapper at an end of the smoking article at which the ignitable material is enclosed is lighted, such that the ignitable material is transformed to an ash via burning of the ignitable. Heat produced from the burning of the ignitable material then heats, through heat exchange, the adjacently provided aerosol forming material. This causes volatilization of the aerosol forming material to produce a “smoke-like” aerosol. The smoker then receives the smoke-like aerosol into his/her mouth by drawing or puffing on an opposite end (e.g., a filter end) of the smoking article. As is known, once ash is formed at the one end of the smoking article, it becomes necessary to periodically remove the ash so that it does not burn the smoker. For example, tapping, flicking, or otherwise dislodging the ash from the one end of the smoking article ensures that the ash will be discarded in a controlled manner and without burning the smoker.
  • Generally, smoking articles, including heat-not-burn cigarettes, are tested prior to consumer distribution thereof. Such testing may include igniting the smoking article and simulating use of the smoking article (i.e., drawing or puffing on the smoking article), such that the ignitable material at one end of the smoking article is transformed to ash to be periodically dislodged. However, rather than manual testing of each smoking article by a human smoker, it may be desirable to implement a system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method that do not require a human smoker. Such a system and related method may be more cost effective, more efficient, and provide for more controlled testing of the smoking article.
  • SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • The above and other needs are addressed by aspects of the present disclosure which, according to one particular aspect, provides a system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article. Such a system comprises a support arrangement configured to support at least a portion of a smoking article about a first longitudinal end thereof such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement. A suction device is in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of the smoking article. The suction device is configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article. An ignition device is associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article. The ignition device is configured to ignite an ignitable material of the smoking article about the second longitudinal end thereof. The ignited ignitable material is transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device. An ash-dislodging mechanism is configured to selectively impact the cantilevered smoking article to periodically remove the ash.
  • Another aspect of the present disclosure is directed to a method for simulating ash removal from a smoking article. Such a method comprises supporting at least a portion of a smoking article about a first longitudinal end thereof with a support arrangement such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement. Suction is then applied to the first longitudinal end with a suction device in fluid communication therewith so as to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article. An ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article is then ignited with an ignition device associated with the second longitudinal end. The ignited ignitable material is transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device. The smoking article is then selectively impacted with an ash-dislodging mechanism to periodically remove the ash.
  • The above and other aspects thus address the identified needs and provide advantages as otherwise detailed herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Having thus described the disclosure in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an exemplary system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, according to one aspect of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2A is a rear perspective view of an exemplary system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, according to one aspect of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2B is a front perspective view of the system of FIG. 2A;
  • FIG. 3A is a front perspective view of another exemplary system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, according to one aspect of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 3B is a side view of the system of FIG. 3A;
  • FIG. 3C is a top view of the system of FIG. 3A; and
  • FIG. 4 is a method flow diagram of an exemplary method for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, according to one aspect of the present disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • The present disclosure now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all aspects of the disclosure are shown. Indeed, this disclosure may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the aspects set forth herein; rather, these aspects are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
  • FIG. 1 schematically illustrates a system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, according to one aspect of the present disclosure, the system being generally indicated by the numeral 100. Such a system often includes one or more smoking article, generally indicated by the numeral 150. Exemplary smoking article construction may include features such as fibrous filter elements, foamed ceramic monoliths formed as insulators or fuel elements, and other features disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,464,726 and U.S. Pat. Pub. No. 2013/0233329; both to Sebastian et al., which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • In some aspects, the smoking article 150 is a smoking article of the type considered to be a “heat-not-burn” cigarette; however, other types of “heat-not-burn” smoking articles are also contemplated herein (e.g,. cigars, cigarellos, etc.) More particularly, in these aspects, a heat-not-burn cigarette comprises a rod-like shape, and includes a lighting end and a mouthpiece end. At the lighting end is positioned a longitudinally-extending, generally cylindrical, heat generation segment. The heat generation segment includes an ignitable fuel material (ignitable material) circumscribed by insulation, which is coaxially encircled by wrapping material (e.g., a paper wrapping). The ignitable fuel material preferably is configured to be activated by direct ignition of the lighting end. The heat-not-burn cigarette also includes a filter segment located at the other end (mouthpiece end), and an aerosol forming segment (which may incorporate tobacco or any other type of aerosol forming material) that is located in between those two segments.
  • In some aspects, the aerosol forming material comprises tobacco or a tobacco material such as cut filler, reconstituted tobacco, puffed tobacco, tobacco paper, extruded tobacco, a tobacco aroma oil, a tobacco essence, a spray dried tobacco extract, a freeze dried tobacco extract, tobacco dust, or the like, or a combination thereof, in order to provide tobacco flavor. In some aspects, where the aerosol forming material comprises a reconstituted tobacco, processing aids, flavoring agents, and glycerin are included.
  • In some aspects, the ignitable material includes a combustible fuel element that has a generally cylindrical shape and incorporates a combustible carbonaceous material. Such combustible carbonaceous materials generally have high carbon content. Preferred combustible carbonaceous materials, in some aspects, are comprised predominantly of carbon, typically have carbon contents of greater than about 60 percent, generally greater than about 70 percent, often greater than about 80 percent, and frequently greater than about 90 percent, on a dry weight basis. In some aspects, the combustible fuel elements incorporate components other than combustible carbonaceous materials (e.g., tobacco components, such as powdered tobaccos or tobacco extracts; flavoring agents; salts, such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride and sodium carbonate; heat stable graphite fibers; iron oxide powder; glass filaments; powdered calcium carbonate; alumina granules; ammonia sources, such as ammonia salts; and/or binding agents, such as guar gum, ammonium alginate and sodium alginate).
  • In a representative example, a representative combustible fuel element has a length of about 12 mm and an overall outside diameter of about 4.2 mm. In another representative example, a combustible fuel element is extruded or compounded using a ground or powdered carbonaceous material, and has a density that is greater than about 0.5 g/cm3, often greater than about 0.7 g/cm3, and frequently greater than about 1 g/cm3, on a dry weight basis. In still another representative example, a combustible fuel element is prepared from a fibrous cellulosic material by pyrolysis at from about 400° to 900° C., preferably from about 550° to 750° C., in a non-oxidizing atmosphere. See, for example, the types of fuel element components, formulations and designs set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 5,551,451 to Riggs et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 7,836,897 to Borschke et al., U.S. Pat. No. 9,220,301 to Banerjee et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,461,879 to Barnes et al.; and US Pat. Pub. No. 2007/0215167 to Llewellyn Crooks et al., each of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Notably the afore-mentioned representative examples are not independent of one another.
  • The ignitable material, in some aspects, includes a foamed carbon monolith formed in a foam process. In other aspects, the ignitable material is co-extruded with a layer of insulation, thereby reducing manufacturing time and expense. Still other aspects of ignitable materials include those of the types described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,819,655 to Roberts et al. or U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2009/0044818 to Takeuchi et al., each of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • In some aspects, the wrapping material comprises a fibrous insulation material, or the like, or preferably is an extruded mixture of diatomaceous earth and a binder, e.g., sodium carboxymethylcellulose (hereinafter sometimes referred to as “CMC” or “NaCMC”). In some aspects, the wrapping material is configured to facilitate the transfer of heat from the lighting end of the cigarette (e.g., from the heat generation segment) to components of the aerosol forming segment. That is, the aerosol forming segment and the heat generation segment are configurable in a heat exchange relationship with one another. The heat exchange relationship is such that sufficient heat from the ignitable material is supplied to the aerosol formation region to volatilize aerosol forming material for aerosol formation. In some aspects, the heat exchange relationship is achieved by positioning those segments in close proximity to one another. A heat exchange relationship also is achievable by extending a heat conductive material from the vicinity of the ignitable material into or around the region occupied by the aerosol forming segment. Additional information regarding a “heat-not-burn” cigarette or smoking article is found in at least U.S. Pat. No. 5,129,409 to White et al., and U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2015/0083150 to Conner et al., the entireties of which are incorporated by reference herein.
  • In other aspects, the smoking article 150 is a conventional cigarette having an ignitable material that is ignited and subsequently burns to form an inhalable smoke. Regardless of the type of smoking article 150 included with the system 100, the system 100 is configured to simulate ash removal from a smoking article.
  • In some aspects, at least a portion of the smoking article 150 is supported by a support arrangement, generally indicated by the numeral 110. The support arrangement 110 is configured, in some aspects, to support the smoking article 150 about a first longitudinal end thereof such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the smoking arrangement 110. In other words, the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 150 is fixed with respect to the smoking arrangement 110 and the second longitudinal end of the smoking article 150 is free or otherwise unfixed. In other aspects, the smoking article 150 is supported by the support arrangement 110 in any manner that enables the smoking article 150 to have ash removed therefrom.
  • In some aspects, the system 100 comprises one or more devices, mechanisms, apparatuses, etc., that are configured to engage the smoking article 150. For example, and as illustrated in FIG. 1, a suction device 120, an ignition device 130, and an ash-dislodging mechanism 140 are all configured to engage the smoking article. In some aspects, the suction device 120 is configured to be in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 150. More particularly, the suction device 120 is configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article. In some aspects, the suction device 120 is configured to employ negative pressure (i.e., a vacuum or suction) to simulate the draw or puff on the smoking article. A length of tubing (e.g., 332, FIGS. 3B-3C) engaged with the suction device 120 extends, in some aspects, to the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 150. In this manner, the negative pressure exerted by the suction device 120 communicates through the length of tubing and exerts the negative pressure (i.e., a pull) on the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 150 to simulate a draw or a puff of a smoker. Otherwise, in some aspects, the length of tubing is not used and the suction device 120 is directly engaged with the smoking article 150 to implement the negative pressure.
  • The ignition device 130, in some aspects, is associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article 150. More particularly, the ignition device 130 is configured to ignite the ignitable material (e.g., combustible carbonaceous material) of the smoking article 150 about the second longitudinal end thereof. In this manner, the ignited ignitable material combusts and then burns, such that the ignited ignitable material is transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 150 in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device 120. In some aspects, the ignition device 130 comprises a conventional device used to create a flame for igniting the ignitable material, by using a flammable fluid or pressurized liquid gas to produce the flame. Alternatively, in some aspects, the ignition device 130 is powered by electricity, using an electric arc or heating element to ignite the ignitable material.
  • In some aspects, the ash-dislodging mechanism 140 is configured to selectively impact the cantilevered smoking article 150 to periodically remove the ash formed about the second longitudinal end of the smoking article 150. More particularly, the ash-dislodging mechanism 140 comprises a selectively actuatable member 142 configured to impact the cantilevered smoking article 150, upon actuation thereof, between the first and the second longitudinal ends of the smoking article 150 to periodically remove the ash. In some aspects, the selectively actuatable member 142 comprises a pivotable lever (see, e.g., 222, FIGS. 2A-2B) or a tamping bar (see, e.g., 322, FIGS. 3A-3C), while in other aspects, the selectively actuatable member 142 comprises a movement generating device configured to selectively generate vibrations, the vibrations interacting with the smoking article 150 to cause the smoking article 150 to vibrate. The selectively actuatable member 142 also comprises any other type of member, mechanism, etc. that is capable of impacting or otherwise mechanically manipulating the smoking article 150 to remove the ash.
  • The system 100 also comprises, in some aspects, a controller 160 that is configured to control the suction device 120, the ignition device 130, or the ash-dislodging mechanism 140. In some aspects, the controller 160 controls only one or more of the suction device 120, the ignition device 130, and the ash-dislodging mechanism 140. The controller 160 comprises, in some aspects, a computing platform having at least one hardware processor and memory. Peripherals associated with controller 160, i.e., the suction device 120, the ignition device 130, or the ash-dislodging mechanism 140, are configured to receive commands from the controller 160 to control certain aspects of simulating ash removal from the smoking article. For example, the suction device 120 is controlled to periodically apply suction to the smoking article 150, where the duration, strength of suction, etc., are controlled by the controller 160. In another example, the ignition device 130 is controlled by the controller 160 to ignite the smoking article 150 to initiate the ash transformation process, wherein the temperature, duration of ignition, etc., are controlled by the controller 160. In a further example, the ash-dislodging mechanism 140 is controlled so that the selectively actuatable member 142 selectively impacts the smoking article 150 to remove the formed ash, where the timing of impact, strength of impact, etc., are controlled by the controller 160.
  • In other aspects, a controller, such as the controller 160, is not implemented in the system 100. In this aspect, components of the system (i.e., the suction device 120, the ignition device 130, and the ash-dislodging mechanism 140) are manually controlled by a system user. For example, the system user actuates the suction device 120, the ignition device 130, and/or the ash-dislodging mechanism 140 as needed.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 2A-2B and FIGS. 3A-3C, two different exemplary embodiments of the generic system described hereinabove are provided. In the first exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B, a system, generally indicated by the reference numeral 200, is provided. The system 200 is configured similarly to the system 100 generically described above in reference to FIG. 1. More particularly, a smoking article 250 is supported by a support arrangement 210. The support arrangement 210 comprises a structure configured to support at least a portion of a smoking article 250 about a first longitudinal end thereof such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article 250 forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement 210. In some aspects, the support arrangement 210 is configured as a unit capable of supporting one or more smoking articles 250. For example, the support arrangement 210 is configured to support two or more smoking articles 250.
  • In some aspects, the support arrangement 210 further comprises a biasing member 212 configured to support the cantilevered smoking article 250 in a supported position, and to oppose the impact of an ash-dislodging mechanism 220 to maintain the smoking article 250 in the supported position. The biasing member 212 comprises, for example, a spring extending laterally with respect to a longitudinal axis defined by the support arrangement 210, wherein the spring is configured to oppose an impact on the smoking article 250 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 220. As such, in the supported position of the smoking article 250, the spring is in a first position and upon contact with the smoking article 250 due to the impact thereof by the ash-dislodging mechanism 220, opposes the impact force of the ash-dislodging mechanism 220 on the smoking article 250 with minimal deflection of the spring from the first position.
  • The ash-dislodging mechanism 220 illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B comprises a selectively actuatable member in the form of a pivotable lever 222. The pivotable lever 222, in some aspects, is configured to pivot into and out of contact with the smoking article 250, upon actuation thereof. The pivotable lever 222 is actuatable via a controller (not shown in this embodiment), which is capable of selectively controlling pivot of the pivotable lever 222. Otherwise, the pivotable lever 222 is selectively controlled via a system user.
  • In the aspects illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B, the pivotable lever 222 is pivoted about a pivot point 224 by a linear displacement mechanism 226, configured to be raised and lowered about a longitudinal axis defined therein. The linear displacement mechanism 226 comprises a pneumatic linear displacement mechanism, an electrical linear displacement mechanism, a magnetic linear displacement mechanism, or the like.
  • In some aspects, one end of the linear displacement mechanism 226 is engaged or otherwise coupled to a first end of the pivotable lever 222A. A second end of the pivotable lever 222B extends substantially perpendicularly to a longitudinal axis defined by a structure of the first end of the pivotable lever 222A. Thus, actuation of the linear displacement mechanism 226 in either direction, results in the second end of the pivotable lever 222B pivoting about the pivot point 224 into/out of contact with the smoking article 250. For example, raising the linear displacement mechanism 226 about the longitudinal axis results in the second end of the pivotable lever 222B pivoting about the pivot point 224 and into contact with the smoking article 250. In another example, lowering the linear displacement mechanism 226 about the longitudinal axis results in the second end of the pivotable lever 222B pivoting about the pivot point 224 and out of contact with the smoking article 250. FIG. 2A illustrates the pivotable lever 222 pivoted about the pivot point 224, such that the second end of the pivotable lever 222B is out of contact with the smoking article 250.
  • Notably, in some aspects, the pivoting of the second end of the pivotable lever 222B into and out of contact with the smoking article 250 is done in quick succession in order to firmly tap the smoking article 250 to remove the ash. Otherwise, in some aspects, the second end of the pivotable lever 222B is pivoted into contact with the smoking article 250 and a movement generating device incorporated with the pivotable lever 222 is configured to selectively generate vibrations that interact with the smoking article 250 and cause the smoking article 250 to vibrate and thereby remove ash. In other aspects, the movement generating device is incorporated within the support arrangement 210 and selectively generates vibrations to vibrate the smoking article 250, such that no pivotable lever 222 is necessary, though one may be employed to provide further ash-dislodging functionality.
  • The system 200 further comprises a suction device (not shown in this embodiment) that is in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 250. The suction device is configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article 250. In some aspects, to prevent the smoke generated by the draws or puffs applied by the suction device to the ignited smoking article 250 from being received by the suction device, a smoke reservoir 230 is operably engaged between the first longitudinal end of the smoking article 250 and the suction device. In such aspects, the smoke reservoir 230 is configured to receive the generated smoke and to prevent the generated smoke from being received by the suction device. To this end, the smoke reservoir 230 comprises an internal substrate or membrane that acts as a physical barrier to the generated smoke.
  • In some aspects, the system 200 further comprises an ash receptacle 240 configured to receive the ash removed from the smoking article 250 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 220 (i.e., the pivotable lever 222). FIG. 2B illustrates one exemplary aspect of a disposition of the ash receptacle 240, where the ash receptacle 240 is disposed about the second longitudinal end of the smoking article 250. In one aspect, as the ignited ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article 250 transforms to ash, the support arrangement 210 is configured to longitudinally translate the smoking article 250 with respect to the ash receptacle 240. In this manner, the ash is maintained over the ash receptacle 240 to receive the ash removed from the smoking article 250 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 220.
  • In order to longitudinally translate the smoking article 250 with respect to the ash receptacle 250, the system 200 further comprises a translation mechanism 260. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B, the translation mechanism 260 is configured to translate the support arrangement 210 at an incline relative to a horizontal plane (e.g., ground). In some aspects, the translation mechanism 260 comprises a carrier portion 262 with which the support arrangement 210 is engaged or otherwise integrated, and tracks 264 on which the carrier portion 262 translates. The carrier portion 262 is configured to be longitudinally translated in opposite directions along the tracks 264 by an actuator (not shown) that comprises a pneumatic actuator, an electrical actuator, a mechanical actuator, a magnetic actuator, or the like.
  • Otherwise, and as illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B, the carrier portion 262 is manually actuated through a system user grasping and longitudinally translating the carrier portion along the tracks 264. Fasteners or the like (not shown) are provided, in some aspects, to allow the carrier portion 264 to be longitudinally translated and maintained in a desired position along the tracks 264. In this aspect, the fasteners are configured to extend through openings 266 defined in the carrier portion 262 to longitudinally extending grooves 268 defined within each of the tracks 264. The fasteners are configured such that rotating the fasteners within the openings 266 in one direction tightens the fastener and prevents translation of the carrier portion 262 along the tracks 264, and rotating the fasteners within the openings 266 in the other direction loosens the fastener and allows translation of the carrier portion 262 along the tracks 264.
  • Accordingly, the exemplary embodiment of the system 200 provides for simulating ash removal from a smoking article without the need for a human smoker to be testing the smoking article by himself or herself.
  • FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate a second exemplary embodiment of a system, generally indicated by the reference numeral 300. The system 300 is similar to the first exemplary system 200 in FIGS. 2A-2B, as well as the generically described system 100 in FIG. 1. In some aspects, a plurality of smoking articles 350 is each supported by a support arrangement 310. For example, there are five support arrangements 310 that are each configured to support one smoking article 350. As shown in FIGS. 3A-3B, three out of the five support arrangements 310 support a smoking article 350.
  • Each of the support arrangements 310 comprises a structure configured to support at least a portion of a smoking article 350 about a first longitudinal end thereof such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article 350 forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement 310. However, the support arrangements 310 in some aspects are each configured to be a single unit capable of supporting one or more smoking article 350.
  • In some aspects, each of the support arrangements 310 further comprises a biasing member 312 configured to support the cantilevered smoking article 350 in a supported position and to oppose the impact of an ash-dislodging mechanism 320 to maintain the smoking article 350 in the supported position. The biasing member 312 comprises, for example, a spring extending laterally with respect to a longitudinal axis defined by the support arrangement 310, wherein the spring is configured to oppose an impact on the smoking article 350 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 320. As such, in the supported position of the smoking article 350, the spring is in a first position and upon contact with the smoking article 250 due to the impact thereof by the ash-dislodging mechanism 220, opposes the impact force of the ash-dislodging mechanism 220 on the smoking article 250 with minimal deflection of the spring from the first position.
  • In some aspects, and as illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3C, each of the support arrangements 310 defines a groove 314 extending along a support surface of the support arrangement 310 and substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis defined by the support arrangement 310. Each of the grooves 314 is sized to allow the smoking article 350 to rest therein to maintain the smoking article in the supported position.
  • The ash-dislodging mechanism 320 illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3C comprises a selectively actuatable member in the form of an elongated tamping bar 322. Upon actuation thereof, the tamping bar 322, in some aspects, is configured to extend downward from a rest position into and out of contact with each of the smoking articles 350. The tamping bar 322 is actuatable via a controller (not shown in this embodiment), which is capable of selectively controlling the raising and lowering of the tamping bar 322. Otherwise, the tamping bar 322 is selectively controlled via a system user.
  • In the aspects illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3C, the tamping bar 322 is lowered and raised from a framework 324 that extends over the support arrangements 310. The tamping bar 322 is lowered and raised from the framework 324 by a linear displacement mechanism 326. The linear displacement mechanism 326 is configured to be actuated along a longitudinal axis defined thereby to raise and lower the tamping bar. The linear displacement mechanism 326 comprises a pneumatic linear displacement mechanism, an electrical linear displacement mechanism, a magnetic linear displacement mechanism, or the like.
  • In some aspects, the tamping bar 322 is sized to span a length that extends over each of the support arrangements 310. In this manner, a bottom surface of the tamping bar 322 is configured to be raised and lowered into and out of contact with each of the smoking articles 350 supported in the support arrangements 310. For example, the tamping bar 322 in FIGS. 3A-3C is approximately five support arrangements 310 in length such that the bottom surface of the tamping bar is raised and lowered into and out of contact with the three smoking articles 350 supported in the support arrangements 310. Thus, actuation of the linear displacement mechanism 326 in either direction, results in the bottom surface of the tamping bar 322 coming into/out of contact with the smoking article 350. For example, lowering the linear displacement mechanism 326 about the longitudinal axis results in the bottom surface of the tamping bar 322 being lowered into contact with each smoking article 350. In another example, raising the linear displacement mechanism 326 about the longitudinal axis results in the bottom surface of the tamping bar 322 being raised out of contact with each smoking article 350. FIG. 3A illustrates the tamping bar 322 lowered by the linear displacement mechanism 326, such that the bottom surface of the tamping bar 322 is in contact with the three smoking articles 350.
  • Notably, in some aspects, lowering and raising the tamping bar 322 into and out of contact with the smoking articles 350 is done in quick succession in order to firmly tap the smoking articles 350 to remove the ash. Otherwise, in some aspects, the tamping bar 322 is lowered such that the bottom surface thereof is in contact with the smoking article and a movement generating device incorporated with the tamping bar 322 is configured to selectively generate vibrations that interact with the smoking articles 350 and cause the smoking articles 350 to vibrate and thereby remove ash. In other aspects, the movement generating device is incorporated within each of the support arrangements 310 and selectively generates vibrations to vibrate the smoking articles 350, such that no tamping bar 322 is necessary.
  • The system 300 further comprises a suction device (not shown in this embodiment) that is in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of each of the smoking articles 350. The suction device is configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on each smoking article 350. In some aspects, to prevent the smoke generated by the draws or puffs applied by the suction device to the ignited smoking articles 350 from being received by the suction device, one or more smoke reservoirs 330 is operably engaged between the first longitudinal end of the smoking articles 350 and the suction device. For example and as illustrated in FIGS. 3B-3C, individual smoke reservoirs 330 are operably engaged with a respective smoking article 350. In other examples, there is a single smoke reservoir that is operably engaged with each of the smoking articles 350. In some aspects, a length of tubing 332 is in operable engagement between the smoking reservoir 330 and the suction device. Regardless, in such aspects, each of the smoke reservoirs 330 is configured to receive the generated smoke and to prevent the generated smoke from being received by the suction device via, in some aspects, the length of tubing 332. To this end, each of the smoke reservoirs 330 comprises an internal substrate or membrane that acts as a physical barrier to the generated smoke.
  • In some aspects, the system 300 further comprises an ash receptacle 340 configured to receive the ash removed from the smoking articles 350 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 320 (i.e., the tamping bar 322). FIGS. 3A-3B illustrate one exemplary aspect of a disposition of the ash receptacle 340, where the ash receptacle 340 is disposed about the second longitudinal end of the smoking articles 350. In some aspects, as the ignited ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking articles 350 transforms to ash, each of the support arrangements 310 is configured to longitudinally translate the respective smoking article 350 with respect to the ash receptacle 340. In this manner, the ash is maintained over the ash receptacle 340 to receive the ash removed from the smoking articles 350 by the ash-dislodging mechanism 320.
  • In order to longitudinally translate the smoking articles 350 with respect to the ash receptacle 350, the system 300 further comprises a translation mechanism 360. As illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3C, the translation mechanism 360 is configured to translate the support arrangement 310 at an incline relative to a horizontal plane (e.g., ground). In some aspects, the translation mechanism 360 comprises a carrier portion 362 with which the support arrangement 310 is engaged or otherwise integrated, and tracks 364 on which the carrier portion 362 translates. The carrier portion 362 is configured to be longitudinally translated in opposite directions along the tracks 364 by an actuator (not shown) that comprises a pneumatic actuator, an electrical actuator, a mechanical actuator, a magnetic actuator, or the like.
  • Otherwise, and as illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3C, the carrier portion 362 is manually actuated through a system user grasping and longitudinally translating the carrier portion along the tracks 364. Fasteners or the like 366 are provided, in some aspects, to allow the carrier portion 364 to be longitudinally translated and maintained in a desired position along the tracks 364. In this aspect, the fastener 366 is configured to extend through openings 368 defined in the carrier portion 362 to longitudinally extending grooves 370 defined within each of the tracks 364. The fasteners 366 are configured such that rotating each of the fasteners 366 within the openings 368 in one direction tightens that respective fastener 366 and prevents translation of the carrier portion 362 along the tracks 364, and rotating each of the fasteners within the openings 368 in the other direction loosens the fastener 366 and allows translation of the carrier portion 362 along the tracks 364.
  • Accordingly, the exemplary embodiment of the system 300 provides for simulating ash removal from a smoking article without the need for a human smoker to be testing the smoking article by himself or herself.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, an exemplary method, generally indicated by reference numeral 400, for simulating ash removal from a smoking article is provided. The exemplary method 400 is capable of being performed with any one of the systems described above, or otherwise contemplated by this disclosure.
  • In step 402, at least a portion of a smoking article is supported about a first longitudinal end thereof with a support arrangement such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement.
  • In step 404, suction is applied to the first longitudinal end with a suction device in fluid communication therewith so as to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article.
  • In step 406, an ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article is ignited with an ignition device associated with the second longitudinal end, the ignited ignitable material being transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device.
  • In step 408, the smoking article is selectively impacted with an ash-dislodging mechanism to periodically remove the ash.
  • Many modifications and other aspects of the disclosure set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this disclosure pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not to be limited to the specific aspects disclosed and that modifications and other aspects are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.

Claims (20)

That which is claimed:
1. A system for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, the system comprising:
a support arrangement configured to support at least a portion of a smoking article about a first longitudinal end thereof such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement;
a suction device in fluid communication with the first longitudinal end of the smoking article, the suction device being configured to apply suction to the first longitudinal end to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article;
an ignition device associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article, the ignition device being configured to ignite an ignitable material of the smoking article about the second longitudinal end thereof, the ignited ignitable material being transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device; and
an ash-dislodging mechanism configured to selectively impact the cantilevered smoking article to periodically remove the ash.
2. The system according to claim 1, wherein the ash-dislodging mechanism comprises a selectively actuatable member configured to impact the cantilevered smoking article, upon actuation thereof, between the first and the second longitudinal ends of the smoking article to periodically remove the ash.
3. The system according to claim 2, wherein the selectively actuatable member comprises a pivotable lever, at least a portion of the pivotable lever being configured to pivot into and out of contact with the smoking article, upon actuation thereof.
4. The system according to claim 2, wherein the selectively actuatable member comprises an elongated tamping bar extending over the support arrangement, a bottom surface of the tamping bar being configured to be brought into and out of contact with the smoking article, upon actuation thereof.
5. The system according to claim 2, wherein the selectively actuatable member comprises a movement generating device configured to selectively generate vibrations upon actuation thereof, the vibrations interacting with the smoking article to cause the smoking article to vibrate.
6. The system according to claim 1, wherein the support arrangement further comprises a biasing member configured to support the cantilevered smoking article in a supported position and to oppose the impact of the ash-dislodging mechanism to maintain the smoking article in the supported position.
7. The system according to claim 1, further comprising an ash receptacle disposed about the second longitudinal end of the smoking article and configured to receive the ash removed from the smoking article by the ash-dislodging mechanism.
8. The system according to claim 7, wherein the support arrangement is configured to longitudinally translate the smoking article with respect to the ash receptacle such that the ash transformed from the ignited ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article is maintained over the ash receptacle to receive the ash removed from the smoking article by the ash-dislodging mechanism.
9. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a controller configured to control the suction device, the ignition device, or the ash-dislodging mechanism.
10. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a smoke reservoir operably engaged between the first longitudinal end of the smoking article and the suction device, the smoke reservoir being configured to receive smoke generated by the draws or puffs applied by the suction device to the ignited smoking article and to prevent the generated smoke from being received by the suction device.
11. A method for simulating ash removal from a smoking article, the method comprising:
supporting at least a portion of a smoking article about a first longitudinal end thereof with a support arrangement such that an opposing second longitudinal end of the smoking article forms a cantilever with respect to the support arrangement;
applying suction to the first longitudinal end with a suction device in fluid communication therewith so as to simulate a draw or puff on the smoking article;
igniting an ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article with an ignition device associated with the second longitudinal end, the ignited ignitable material being transformed to an ash extending from the second longitudinal end toward the first longitudinal end in response to successive draws or puffs applied by the suction device; and
selectively impacting the smoking article with an ash-dislodging mechanism to periodically remove the ash.
12. The method according to claim 11, wherein selectively impacting the smoking article with the ash-dislodging mechanism comprises impacting the cantilevered smoking article with a selectively actuatable member, upon actuation thereof, between the first and the second longitudinal ends of the smoking article to periodically remove the ash.
13. The method according to claim 12, wherein impacting the cantilevered smoking article with a selectively actuatable member comprises pivoting at least a portion of a pivotable lever into and out of contact with the smoking article, upon actuation thereof.
14. The method according to claim 12, wherein impacting the cantilevered smoking article with a selectively actuatable member comprises bringing a bottom surface of an elongated tamping bar, the tamping bar extending over the support arrangement, into and out of contact with the smoking article, upon actuation thereof.
15. The method according to claim 12, wherein impacting the cantilevered smoking article with a selectively actuatable member comprises selectively generating vibrations, by a movement generating device, that the vibrations interacting with the smoking article and causing the smoking article to vibrate, upon actuation thereof.
16. The method according to claim 11, wherein supporting the smoking article about the first longitudinal end thereof with the support arrangement comprises supporting, by a biasing member, the cantilevered smoking article in a supported position, the biasing member opposing the impact of the ash-dislodging mechanism to maintain the smoking article in the supported position.
17. The method according to claim 11, further comprising receiving, by an ash receptacle disposed about the second longitudinal end of the smoking article, the ash removed from the smoking article by the ash-dislodging mechanism.
18. The method according to claim 17, further comprising longitudinally translating, by the support arrangement, the smoking article with respect to the ash receptacle such that the ash transformed from the ignited ignitable material associated with the second longitudinal end of the smoking article is maintained over the ash receptacle so as to receive the ash removed from the smoking article by the ash-dislodging mechanism.
19. The method according to claim 11, further comprising controlling, by a controller, the suction device, the ignition device, or the ash-dislodging mechanism.
20. The method according to claim 11, further comprising operably engaging a smoke reservoir between the first longitudinal end of the smoking article and the suction device, and further comprising receiving, by the smoke reservoir, smoke generated by the draws or puffs applied by the suction device to the ignited smoking article and preventing the generated smoke from being received by the suction device.
US15/356,090 2016-11-18 2016-11-18 System for simulating ash removal from a smoking article and a related method Pending US20180140002A1 (en)

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